Yes you can be social even with a “weird” diet and bonus recipe

 

Maria from sound of music saying "Look at all the food I can't eat"

Some of my healing from autoimmune disease can be directly attributed to the food I eat and the food I don’t. A few years back, an elimination diet revealed I have a sensitivity to gluten, dairy, and eggs. While I wasn’t surprised about the gluten or the dairy I was so sad to see eggs go. I live in the land of breakfast tacos for cryin’ out loud! On top of all that I make it a point to avoid processed food and sugar.

So from a standard American diet point of view, I am pretty limited in what I can eat.

While my diet is health supportive (and delicious) it tends to be different from most people’s. Because of that I stopped inviting people over for meals as much or accepting dinner invitations. I didn’t want to impose my restrictions on others and I think I felt a little self-conscious about serving people my “weird” diet.

But ya know what, that’s no way to live. I love my friends and I love to eat with them and cook for them. And bonus: participating in the community keeps us health. So I started accepting dinner invites, although it took me awhile to stop apologizing profusely for all my dietary restrictions (maybe I’m not completely there),  and I started having people over again. Last night, in fact, my dear friend (and soon to be podcast co-host!!!) and her awesome kiddo came over for a cookout.

Here is the weird meal I made.

Grilled Tempeh* and Veggie Fajitas with Guacamole

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

grilled sweet potatoes, portabella mushrooms, red onion, bell peppers, and tempeh on a wooden cutting board with a white bowl of lime wedges. Tempeh

  1. One to two packages of tempeh (I really like Lightlife’s flax tempeh). You can easily replace this with any meat of your choice.
  2. 8oz of vegetable broth
  3.  One TBS of fajita seasoning or 1tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander.

Veggies

  1.  Sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2 inch planks.
  2. Two bell peppers cut into big wedges.
  3.  Two or more portabella mushrooms washed with stems removed
  4. Half of a red onion (keep intact)

Guacamole

  1. Two ripe avocados
  2. Three to five garlic cloves minced
  3. The juice of one and a half limes
  4.  Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the tempeh ingredients in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the tempeh for up to 20 minutes, flipping as you go. Make sure to add a bit of broth if the pan starts to dry out. You could do this step a day in advance and let it marinade in the refrigerator.
  2. Coat the vegetables, onion, and mushrooms with either coconut oil (which is constantly melted in my house this time of year) or olive oil.  Toss with the fajita seasoning, about 1 TBS.
  3. Heat the grill to medium heat.
  4. Cut the tempeh in half, making two squares. Brush with oil on either side.
  5. Place everything on the grill starting with the tempeh. The tempeh goes on the top rack and I placed the bell pepper and sweet potato in a veggie basket like this Grillux Stainless Steel Vegetable Grill Basket (affiliate link). The mushrooms and onions (cut side down) go directly on the grill.
  6. Grill everything for about 15 minutes flipping everything but the onion in the halfway through.
  7. Make the guacamole by mixing all the ingredients together. This will make a really large batch, which is a beautiful thing.
  8. Once cooked, slice up the tempeh, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and onion into long stripes.
  9. Pull out lettuce leaves, chard leaves, or a tortilla of your choice and make the best fajita ever!

We had so much fun eating and hanging out. My weird diet didn’t feel so weird and made me realize I was the only one making it weird. The adults had fun, the kids had fun, and just because I don’t dine on sugar and dairy didn’t mean the kids had to reframe. kids eating ice cream on a picnic table. A note on soy. Most soy we consume in the US is really not great for us. This soy is the by-products of GMO seeds from subsidized farming that is put into all our processed food or shaped into fake meats, soy dog anyone?  While this type of soy is not great for our health, fermented soy, like tempeh, has beneficial probiotics and has lots of vitamin K2.  While you don’t want to eat any soy all day every day, I believe fermented soy can be a part of a whole foods diet that supports our health. Check out what Dr. Hyman has to say about it here.  Or course, just like I am with eggs, you may not be able to tolerate soy and thats cool too. Stay tuned for more on elmination diets.

Overnight breakfast miracle!

overnight-oats-bite

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but during the week it can also be the most hectic one.  My husband and I wake up and start the morning at a dead run. We’re doing our best to motivate the older kiddo to get up and ready while trying to convince the youngest one that it’s not time to play. In all that chaos, we have to track down homework, track down that smell, and somehow manage to get breakfast in before heading out for the day. Enter overnight oats.

Like the name suggests, this is one of those meals you prepare ahead of time, throw it in the fridge, and retrieve when you are ready to eat. It’s simple, nutritious, and delicious.

Overnight oats

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Ingredients

  1. 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob Redmills gluten free oats)
  2. 2 TBS chia seeds
  3. 1 Banana
  4. 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  5. 1/2 tsp of vanilla (optional)
  6. 1/2 cup of yogurt or 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  7. Filtered water

Optional add-ins

  • a handful of chopped nuts ( I like slivered almonds or raw walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh berries
  • 1 TBS unsweetened dried coconut
  • a handful of cacao nibs

Method

  1. In a bowl mix all dry ingredients together, including any add-ins.
  2. Add yogurt or non-dairy milk and berries if using. Mix
  3. If using yogurt, add a few TBS of water until the oat mixture looks good and moist.
  4. Divide mixture between two pint jars or similar sized container with a lid.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least two hours before eating.
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

New greens for a new you!

cauliflower-with-greens

or at least a new green to try.:)

Just the other day, I was experimenting in the kitchen trying to find the best way to make cauliflower tortillas without eggs or dairy. My experiment was a bust…ish because while I was busy failing with my tortillas I also “discovered” roasted cauliflower greens. Which means I chopped off all the greens to get to the cauliflower and realized that feeding it to my compost was going to be wasteful but storing it for a vegetable broth was going to take up wayyyy too much space.

So I did what I so often do with my vegetables; I covered them in coconut oil, sprinkled them with sea salt, and roasted them at 350 degrees. The result was AMAZING! I’m not going to lie, several of the lovely leaves did not make it to the table that night. But that’s just part of a test kitchen, right?

Roasted cauliflower greens

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  1. Cauliflower greens
  2. 2TBS coconut oil or olive oil
  3. Sea salt to taste

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut leaves from the base and rinse.
  • Message greens with the olive oil and salt in either a large bowl ocauliflower-greensr in a big freezer bag.
  • Lay each piece without overlapping too much on a pan that’s good for roasting. I like my TeamFar Stainless Steel Baking Sheet. Pictured here and available at the link above.
  • Roast for 20 to 40 minutes depending on how your oven works and how crunchy you want the leaves. I opted for 30 minutes and loved the little bit of crunch in the leaves and the flavorful stems.
  • Enjoy!

 

Here is what the greens looked like on my plate next to my quilupa. It was delicious!

quilupa-and-cauliflower-greens

 

Here is my recipe for cauliflower rice that has successfully graduated from the test kitchen. Coming soon, a dairy-free, egg-free cauliflower tortilla (darn it!).

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Low sugar pear and blueberry crumble

pear-and-blueberry-crumble

 

Sugar is just no good for the human body. It makes us store fat, it encourages bad gut microbes, and it causes inflammation. Because of all that, I limit my intake pretty radically compared to the average American. I do have my times of the year when I let myself indulge a bit, and that usually works like a charm. However, the Thanksgiving to New Year period is a little hard on my sugar rule. I do well, but having the random fancy chocolate, piece of pie, or fabulous mimosa makes it hard to go back to my less sweet ways. The cravings are strong, my friend.

So I have two choices: give up the cause or find a way back. I always want to find my way back because giving up the cause is giving into feeling like crap. Enter my bridge dessert, a dessert I make to help me bridge the cravings while getting back on the wagon. And this year’s dessert is perfect; it’s full of healthy fats and has only the natural sugars of the fruit. The key is to sauté the fruit to bring out the sugars and make them all pie-like.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Low-Sugar Fruit Crumble

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Crumble Ingredients 

  • 1  1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cups rolled oats (optional: leave out to make it grain free)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS coconut oil

Filling Ingredients 

  • 4-6 Bosc Pears cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cups of blueberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS coconut oil

Tools

  • Food processor
  • Cast iron skillet (You can use a pie plate if you haven’t gotten your cast iron yet.)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  2. Place all crumble ingredients into food processor and process until well incorporated. I like mine to be almost dough-like with some texture.
  3. Heat 1TBS of coconut oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add pears and cinnamon stick. Sauté until the pears start to release their juices.
  4. Add blueberries. Continue to sautéing for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick.
  6. Cover fruit mixture with crumble mixture.
  7. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or golden brown.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Ghee, the miracle fat

ghee

Ghee (clarified butter) is a cooking oil that has been around forever. Okay, not forever, but a really long time. It is mentioned in the Ayurveda text as the best oil to use because it helps us digest our food and build healthier bodies. While these texts were written thousands of years ago, our modern science acknowledges that they had it right.

From an article entitled The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation researchers found that the consumption of ghee decreases “total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides; decreased liver total cholesterol, triglycerides, and cholesterol esters; and a lower level of nonenzymatic-induced lipid peroxidation in liver homogenate.” So it’s good for your liver and your heart!

Dr. Susan Blum recommends ghee to those with autoimmune problems because it  “reduces inflammation and helps balance the immune cells in your gut.” To top it all off, even though it is a dairy product, people like me that have a sensitivity to dairy can use it because the dairy proteins are removed. Oh, and it tastes really magical, kind of like Christmas.

I use ghee when making eggs or cooking anything that requires fat.  I put a dollop in my coffee, and I have been known to soak dates in ghee to have a nice decadent yet health-supportive treat.

You can find this miracle oil at your fancier grocery stores (like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods), online , or at your local Indian stores. However, if you want to save money like I do, you can make it.

Ghee

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients and tools

  1. Stove top
  2. One-half to one pound grass-fed butter
  3. A heavy duty sauce pan
  4. A fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth
  5. Pint- or quart-sized canning jar

Technic

  • Place butter in the saucepan.
  • Turn the burner on low. ghee-foam
  • Once the butter is liquid, turn the temperature to medium.
  • Once a foam appears set your timer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • A second foam will form, and you will hear a lot of crackling. (This part feels a lot like making popcorn. Listen and as the crackling starts to slow down, you know it’s ready.)
  • Once ready, pour the ghee through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth into a pint- or quart-sized jar. Brown milk solids will be left in the strainer and at the bottom of your pan.
  • Be careful, it will be hot!

You can leave ghee on the counter for up to a month, which is a great way to remind yourself to use it for cooking.

Enjoy!

Gut friendly chickpea “tuna” salad

chickpea

It has been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, but I thought this one might be a nice addition to my gut health series. This is one of those dishes that I make a lot of on Sunday night and eat throughout the week for lunch. It’s also a big hit served with tortilla chips at potlucks.

Now, I know that not everyone can eat beans. I couldn’t until I healed my gut sufficiently, and even now I have to be careful — like preparing beans using the method listed at the end of this post. Also, the addition of gut-healthy bacteria from the probiotic pickles and Greek yogurt enhances the digestibility of the dish, which is why I recommend waiting several hours before eating it.

The recipe below was inspired by several recipes I found around the web, most notably from Oh She Glows and the Minimalist Baker. H/T to these great resources that constantly keep me inspired.

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy... like really really easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas*
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 big probiotic pickles, finely diced (like these  or these)
  • 4 TBS probiotic pickle juice
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or vegan mayo
  • 1 to 1.5 TBS chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Method

  1. Mash chickpeas with a potato masher. The goal isn’t to mash them all, just to get some squished down.
  2. Toast sunflower seeds in a skillet until lightly toasted. Just a few minutes over medium heat will do it.
  3. Mix all ingredients (told you it was easy!)
  4. Place in the refrigerator overnight. You don’t have to do this last bit, but I find it incorporates the flavors better and makes the beans easier to digest.

Serve

  • On toast, if toast works for you.
  • On crackers, GF or regular
  • Atop greens with avocado (pictured above).
  • With tortilla chips
  • As a side with anything else you might be eating.

*The best bet for making chickpeas (or any beans) is to soak them overnight and then cook with a piece of Kombu. Kombu helps to break down those sugars in beans that lead to gas.  You remove the kombu before using, but I find that a few piece get left behind, which is totally fine.

 

Enjoy!

Sardine and veggie bowl

Sardines

 

You need fat. Despite all the low-fat options you find in the grocery store, your body needs fat. Fat helps keep our hormones (including insulin) well regulated, it feeds our hungry brain (60% of it is fat!), and it keeps us feeling full longer. Not to mention that fat is delicious. Of course not all fat is created equal. For example, trans fats are horrible for us, but fatty fish like the sardines shown above are full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help our body run.

Some good fats are grass-fed butter, avocados, ghee, unrefined coconut oil, and unrefined olive oil. Basically, I take the same approach when choosing fats as I do with choosing my food; namely, is it as close to a whole food (not processed) as it gets and was it grown/raised in an ethical and sustainable way?  If the answer is yes, then I feel pretty comfortable eating it and giving it to my kid. If the answer is no, then I avoid it like the plague.

The recipe below is a great way to get in a bunch of good fat while having some veggies and a very filling meal.

Sardines and veggie bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • one TBS coconut oil
  • one tin of skinless and boneless sardines packed in olive oil
  • a handful or two of chopped spinach or other green you like
  • one small leftover or freshly made roasted beets cut into bite sized pieces
  • half a cup of leftover quinoa
  • half a TBS olive oil
  • three tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Sautee the spinach in the coconut oil until bright green and wilted.
  2. Remove the spinach and add the sardines into the pan.
  3. Cook the sardines for a few minutes on either side. I like it to have a few nice crisp places before pulling it out of the pan.
  4. Assemble the quinoa, spinach, and beets into the bowl and then top it with the sardines.
  5. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over the bowl. Enjoy!

 

I was inspired to make this recipe by a dish my dear friend Leah made me. I hope this recipe inspires you to get in the kitchen and experiment with some yummy good fats!

Easy, quick, and yummy salmon salad

salmon

As I’ve stated before, I like to eat and I like to eat well. Somedays it’s easier than others to make that happen. If I’m on my game, I have lovely leftovers waiting in the fridge. But occasionally I don’t, and last week I had one of those days. Instead of opting for eating out, I decided to see what I could concoct in a matter of a few minutes using what I had on hand. As we know, necessity is the mother of all invention, and this time was no different. Enter the salmon salad. This delicious meal is chock-full of omega 3 and probiotics while being rich in flavor.

Salmon salad with dill and capers

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 can or 6 oz of wild Alaskan salmon*
  • 1/4 cup of full-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs + chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbs + capers
  • 1 tbs + lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Directions

mix all ingredients, tasting and adding as you go to get the exact flavor you desire. Once the salad is to your liking you can serve it on anything that fits your individual dietary needs. I served mine on top of  zucchini noodles I had left over, but you could also serve it with leftover pasta or quinoa. If you don’t have leftovers, throw it on a green salad or pull out some hearty crackers. Just use what you have on hand, and I’m sure it will be perfect.

I hope this recipe inspires you to get in the kitchen and create some lovely and nutritious meals for you and your loved ones. Let me know how it goes!

Delicious and filling quinoa porridge

quinoa

 

I am going to be real with you right now: I don’t really like quinoa all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s easy to prepare, that it’s gluten-free, and that it’s bursting with nutrients, but the flavor…meh. With this burden to bear, I have developed several recipes that give me all the punch while downplaying the flavor.  Like my recipe for the quilupa (a favorite at my house) or this lovely quinoa porridge. Like all of my quinoa recipes, this one starts out with premade quinoa that I have in the fridge. I usually make 2 cups of quinoa on a Sunday night while I’m cooking my dinner so I can use the quinoa throughout the week. Two cups dried quinoa equals about 6 cups of cooked, so it’s rather a lot. If you need instructions on cooking quinoa check out The Kitchn’s how-to. Personally, when preparing my quinoa for the week, I leave out the oil and don’t use broth so I can use the quinoa in lots of different ways.

Quinoa Porridge

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: silly easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 or 2 sliced bananas
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 to 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or non-dairy milk of your choice (this is really dependent on how liquidy you like your porridge)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruits of your choice. Today I used frozen blueberries but have also used chopped apple, strawberries, and pear. Go with what you have on hand or what you have a hankerin’ for.
  • a handful of nuts and seeds of your choice. I used pecans and hempseed, but add what you have.

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add bananas and saute until they caramelize.
  3. Add cinnamon and salt, and stir.
  4. Add quinoa and stir to incorporate.
  5. Add in coconut milk starting with 1/2 cup and increasing until you get the consistency you like.
  6. Add in the remaining ingredients.
  7. Dish up and enjoy!

 

Cauliflower Rice

mixmix

I have been having a hankering for Bibimbap, a Korean rice-based dish with vegetables and protein. Unfortunately, I don’t have stone bowls needed to make authentic bibimbap, but I’ve created something that is close enough to satisfy my cravings.  It’s a great meal for my family because it allows for so much flexibility. I prepare the vegetables and protein I want to get out of the fridge, and everyone tops their rice with their choices. Last night I sauteed shiitake mushrooms, bok choi, homemade kimchi (look for a post on fermented food soon); cut up some carrots; and washed a handful of mixed lettuce. The only  problem is that I wasn’t feeling like rice. In fact, over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling that I’ve been eating a few too many grains. I do not think there is anything wrong with grains, I just know that from time to time I need a grain break. Enter cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower rice is exactly what it sounds like: cauliflower cut up into rice size pieces. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable* which means it supports our body’s detox process, provides antioxidants, and fights inflammation. It is also loaded with fiber that feeds all the healthy microbes in our guts, which is so important for our overall health.

To make your own cauliflower rice:

  • cauliflowerFirst, Cut the desired amount of cauliflower into smaller pieces. On this night, I used about a fourth of a large head of cauliflower, which produced roughly 1 1/2 cups worth of rice. That was enough for my meal and one serving for the next day.

 

 

 

 

  • Next, place florcauliflower riceets in a food processor and pulse until you get a rice-like consistency. At this point, your rice is done or you can add a little heat.  Those of us with thyroid disease or that just prefer warm rice proceed to the last step.

 

  • Finally, mix the cauliflower with about 1/2 to 1 TBS fat of your choice (ghee or coconut oil are my go-tos) and toss it in a pot with a little less than 1 TBS water. Lightly steam the rice for 5 to 10 minutes. Season and serve in place of  rice  in any dish your heart desires.

I really enjoyed my cauliflower rice. I won’t be having it all the time because I try to limit the number of cruciferous vegetables I eat in a week, but it’s a nice alternative when I’m feeling the need to de-grain.  I would love to hear this recipe worked out for you in the comments below.

*For those of us with thyroid disease, whether or not you should eat cruciferous vegetables can be a difficult choice. Some argue that, as a goitrogenic food, it should be completely removed from the diet as it inhibits iodine from being properly utilized by the thyroid. Others argue that consuming a normal amount of cooked cruciferous vegetables will not have a negative impact. Do your own research, speak to a trusted professional, and, as always, listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Green and blue smoothie

 

yumy

My whole family has been fighting off the plague. Okay, it’s probably not the plague.  Actually, it was baby’s-first-week-in-daycare-and-she-brought-back-a-bunch-of-weird-little-kid-germ thing. You’ve probably heard of it. Little kid germs are some tough suckers, so we spent the weekend resting and eating healing foods like bone broth and shots of Fire Cider for my husband and me.  We are on the mend, but I’m taking extra care to nourish and support my immune system.  One method of support is this lovely smoothie, which is full of things my body needs like avocado, banana, flaxseed, spinach, blueberries, and a touch of coconut milk.  I chose these ingredients because 1.) I had them and 2.) they have powerful nutrients that I felt my body needed.

Avocado — The heart healthy fat in avocados helps the body to absorb all the nutrients that are going into this smoothie, making it a great base.

Banana — The sweetness in a banana is a great reason to add it to a smoothie, but it has so many other benefits. Bananas have vitamins, minerals, and fiber our bodies need, and they help to keep a good balance of Bifidobacteria in our lower intestines, which in turn keeps our guts healthy. Healthy gut = healthy you.

Blueberries — These also add sweetness and turn the smoothie a lovely purple all while delivering antioxidants, vitamin K and C and more beneficial fiber.

Spinach — Spinach is a powerhouse and a great source of greens for people that are watching their intake of cruciferous vegetables. In addition to all the lovely vitamins and minerals, research seems to show that spinach helps to protect the lining of our gut from inflammation.

Flaxseed — Adding ground flaxseed to anything you eat is a great way to get a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids, a fat that helps with all manner of things. It helps reduce inflammation and lower triglyceride levels. Researchers believe it may even protect us from Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of my diet.

Green and blue smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: silly easy
  • Print

In your blender, blend together the following:

  1. 1/2 avocado
  2. 1 banana
  3. 2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
  4. 1 cup frozen blueberries
  5. 1.5 TBS ground flaxseed (optional)
  6. 1/4 cup pineapple (optional)
  7. the contents of 1 probiotic capsule (optional)
  8. enough coconut milk or other non-dairy milk to turn the ingredients into a smoothie.
  9. 1 to 2 tsp of hemp seeds to top it off
  10. Enjoy!

 

Lettuce have some food!

lettuceLettuce is in season right now which means you can find some really great deals. I purchased this head of romain lettuce from Whole Foods for $1.99, and believe me it really stretched throughout the week. This is great news for those of us trying to get more vegetables into our diet.

Wait. What?

I know, we don’t really think of lettuce as vegetable. Rather we think of it as the  flavorless base-layer for bacon bits and croutons.  But certain types of lettuce can be very nutritious. The romain I bought my family is loaded with vitamin A, K, and folate and contains omega-3 fatty acids and iron along with many many more nutrients.

While romain is one of the healthiest types of lettuce there are several other varieties that are loaded with nutrients your body needs. When choosing a lettuce use color as your guide. The richer and darker the color the more packed with nutrients it will be. Pick lettuces that are dark green or red and avoid the paler lettuces like iceberg.

As the workhorse of the veggie world,  you can make delicious (and seasonal) salads, you can use it as a wrap for a variety of ingredients, you can add it to soups, or even blend it in your smoothies. Below are a few ways my family has used this gorgeous head of lettuce this past week.

pear, walnut and argula
Pear and walnut salad

 

grapefruit and fennel salad
Grapefruit, fennel, and avocado salad

 

Lettuce wraps
Mushroom and walnut lettuce wraps with miso soup

As always, I hope these ideas and recipes inspire you to get into the kitchen and experiment with your own seasonal goodies. I’d love to hear all about your creations in the comments!

 

 

 

Homemade Vegetable Pho

pho

I love pho so much, especially when its cold outside and I’m feeling a cold come on. Unfortunately, there is only one place in my area that sells vegan, gluten-free pho, and it’s all the way across town. But this time, instead of giving in and jumping in my car, I went into the kitchen to see if I could figure it out myself. I’m happy to say that with this easy recipe I might just be done with drives across town.

Not only is this a delightful and easy meal, but it’s also a great way to get some more vegetables into your diet.

Vegetarian Pho

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Broth

  • 3 pieces of whole star anise
  • 5 pieces of whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 1.5 inch ginger cut in to smaller chunks
  • 1/4 a medium size yellow onion
  • 4 “no beef ” bullion cubes in 8 cups of boiling water or 8 cups of your choice of broth (A non-vegan but wonderful idea is to use bone broth)
  • 1 TBS  gluten-free tamari  (optional)

Soup goodies

  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms (shiitake, white, or baby bella)
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 1 to 2 cups broccoli
  • TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 package rice noodles (I use brown rice seaweed noodles from Star Anise Foods).

Topping (optional but delicious)

  1. Cilantro,
  2. Basil
  3. Jalapeno
  4. Lime

Instructions

  1. Throw all the broth ingredients into a 3 quart pan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like. I simmered mine while I was preparing the next part of the soup.
  2. Chop your vegetables into bite size pieces.
  3. Throw the veggies in to a 6 quart pot with coconut oil and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. With a strainer over the 6 quart  pot pour the broth into the vegetables. Your broth should be a little like a concentrate. Add 2 more cups boiling water and the rice noodles. Cook on medium high until the noodles are tender (usually just a minute or two).
  5. Serve with cilantro, basil, jalapeno, and lime wedges.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Vegetable of the week: Sweet Potato

Nice_sweet_potatoI love sweet potatoes! Never was there a more delicious and versatile vegetable. It is also one one of the few vegetables frequently requested by my picky-eating daughter.  These lovely tubers are in season right now, and throughout the fall and winter you can find good deals at both farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

As one of nature’s superfoods,  sweet potatoes are chock-full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps protect the health of our skin and eyes.  They are also low on the glycemic index and may even improve blood sugar! In addition, sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties. They are bundles of unending goodness.  Here are some ideas to inspire you and help you easily incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

The roasting twofer: roasted sweet potato side dish and sweet potato soup. 

Peel and dice two medium sweet potatoes into roughly 1 inch by 1 inch chunks and place in a roasting dish. Chop and place 1/4 red onion and 3 to 4 peeled whole garlic pieces in one half of the dish. This is the soup side. Next toss in  1.5 TBS of fat (butter or coconut oil work great), and shake in a little salt and pepper, making sure to keep the soup side separate from the roasting side. Roast atroasting sp 350 for about 30 minutes (turning half way through).

Once sp souproasted, half the potatoes can be used for that night’s dinner. This night, we had black eyed pea tempeh, greens, and roasted sweet potatoes. The soup half of the dish goes into a blender with 1 cup of vegetable broth, 1 tsp of curry, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. (I like thick soup, but you can adjust the amount of broth to get your preferred consistency.) Total prep, cooking, and soup-mixing time was about 45 minutes (mostly down time), and I ended up with five servings of roasted potatoes and two lunches worth of sweet potato soup!

 

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish tortillas are delicious, and if you ever have a chance to eat one at a tapas bar, I highly encourage you to try them. Traditionally, this lovely Spanish dish is made with white potatoes and onion, but I have sweet potatoes so that how we are going to roll! Check out my recipe here.

Make Your Own Sweet Potato

On MYO sweet potato night, I bake one sweet potato for each member of the family, usually sized relative to their size (Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour). Once cooked through and soft, the family pulls out all the leftover vegetables and beans we have from the week, along with other traditional toppings like butter and cheese. Everyone stuffs their potato with the fillings they like best. Like magic I have a clean fridge and a happy and full family.

 

Other honorable sweet potato mentions are sweet potato fries that my daughter adores and these sweet potato falafel that hit the spot every time.

As always, I hope these ideas inspire you to get in your kitchen and create something with one of this season’s lovely treasures.

Orange you glad you listened to your body?

orange foodThere are two things that I find keep me going through the day: my love of puns (seriously it is a deep and abiding love) and following my intuition when it comes to what I put in my body. Today, for instance, I’ve been craving orange vegetables like you would not believe.  Because of this, I followed my gut and had a pumpkin pie smoothie for a midmorning snack,  butternut squash lasagna leftovers for lunch (check out my e-book coming soon for this beauty), and then made my family’s favorite sweet potato falafel recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

It was a day of listening to my body’s need for vitamins and nutrients, like alpha and beta carotene, that fight cancer, protect the eyes, and help support the immune system. I wish I knew why my body needed this right now. It could be that it’s getting to be cold and flu season and my immune system needs some boosting, or maybe it was something more basic. Whatever the reason, it just goes to show how amazing the body is at nudging us in the direction of health when we give it a chance to speak.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  • Servings: 1 large or 2 small
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

pumpkin pie smoothie

  • 1.5 bananas (preferably frozen)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (fresh, frozen, or out of a can)
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk or milk
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1TBS flaxseed (optional)
  • 1TBS hempseed hearts (optional)
  • 1 cup ice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until nice and smooth. Enjoy

Breakfast, can you really have it all?

Broken yoke

Isn’t this picture just lovely? You may be thinking, “Okay, I could eat like that if I chained myself to the stove.” I understand; I’m busy, too. While I love cooking and creating, I really don’t have that much time to actually do it. I run a business, I run after a toddler, I raise my hand for any PTA event they can conjure, and I occasionally do the laundry, call the plumber, pay the bills…. you get the picture. Life is busy for me and you and everyone else. But I really like to eat, and I really need to eat a good breakfast, so I rely on breakfast that I can get to the table in 10 minutes or less. Here are four fast, healthy recipes to kick off your day.

  1. The breakfast egg muffin. These are great to make on a Sunday night because they keep for most of the work week and are a portable way to pack in the protein. This recipe is great for those of you that like recipes or just to give you a general guide, but please don’t feel hemmed in. While I’m not eating eggs now, I did make these every week for at least a year. During that year, I mixed whatever diced veggies and spices I wanted with the number of eggs I wanted for that week. Have fun experimenting!

 

  1. Chi seed pudding. Easy to make and it taste like dessert without a bunch of sugar. The only difference between the bowl below and the recipe from Oh She Glows is that I used only one banana to reduce sugar. I also just take whatever nuts and seeds I have on hand and soak them overnight in a jar with water in the fridge.image
  2. Quinoa and veggie bowls: Protein, vegetables, and fat in one little bowl in as little as three minutes. imageDoes it get any better than that? I think not.  Seriously all you need is leftover quinoa, leftover vegetables or pre-washed spinach, and beans or pre-cooked sausage in a bowl. Heat it up and then top with avocado, hempseed, nuts, seeds, or anything else you can think to top it with. Just remember to soak your seeds and nuts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Poached eggs with sweet potato and greens. This one does actually require the stove, but it’s fast and uses up  leftover sweet potatoes or roasted squash. Just add the leftover sweet potatoes, chopped up greens (chard, kale, etc),  and spices of your choice in a skillet (I like a pinch of cayenne and salt) until the greens are soft. Break one or two eggs over the veggiesSkillet eggs and add about 1/3 cup water to the skillet. Cover until the eggs are poached to your liking. Enjoy!

 

 

 

As always, I’m hoping this post inspires you to try some of these ideas or create your own quick, delicious meals to nourishes your body.

Quinoa pizza, chalupa, quilupa?

 

 

quilupa-and-cauliflower-greens

My oldest kiddo is a super picky eater and has been since she started
solids. She is okay about trying things, but for the most part, she would rather just eat a veggie burger or a PB&J sandwich. The rest of us like to eat a more diverse diet, which leads to a great deal of experimentation to see if everyone’s taste buds can align.  This is how the make-your-own Mexican pizza/chalupa or quilupa, as my husband has coined it, has come into being.

First you start with about 2 cups cooked quinoa. I’ve found this works best when it’s leftover from a previous meal and had about a day or so in the fridge. For reference, 1 cup dried quinoa makes about 3 cups cooked.  Pro tip: buy your quinoa in bulk or online to save some dough.

Speaking of dough, that’s what the quinoa will become after you mix it in a food processor with garlic, chili powder, salt, and an egg.

quinoa dough ball

 

Next, roll the dough out to make the pizza crust or chalupa/quilupa part of the dish. At this point, you have just used a superfood to create the base for a really wonderful, kid-approved dinner.

Quinoa pizza

Once baked, add the topping of your choice to make it a meal. We usually have a refried bean base along with an  assortment of cooked and raw vegetables, and always, ALWAYS a freshly made guacamole.

Quilupa


Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Oven
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients

Quinoa Base

  1.  2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  2. 1/2 to 1 TBS chili powder
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 2 cups pre-cooked quinoa
  5. 1 egg or 1 flax egg
  6. 1 to 2 TBS of water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Add the first five ingredients one at a time in the food processor, giving the food processor a whirl with each new ingredient to make sure everything gets incorporated.
  3. Once all ingredients have been added, keep the machine on until a dough ball starts to form. If this doesn’t happen in the first minute, add water a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
  4. Once the mixture is sticky and forming a bit of a ball in the food processor, scrape it out and pat it into a nice ball (see picture above). Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Cover the top of the dough with another sheet of parchment and pat down until you have a nice flat surface.
  6. With the parchment still covering the dough, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough until its about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until nicely brown and the edges start to peel away from the sheet.


FixinsOnce the the quinoa base is ready to go, each person loads theirs up with whatever they like best. Tonight’s options were walnut “taco meat,” guacamole, sautéed kale, refried adzuki beans, and shredded carrots and beets. The most difficult part of this meal was figuring out what to call it.                                                                                                                                                                                            My picky eater proudly decorated hers with almost everything except the kale before devouring it. She wanted me to tell you-all  that she “liked it and you should make it.”  If that’s not a glowing endorsement, I’m not sure I know what is.   Enjoy!harpers finishedfinished

Easy dinner for your manic (any) day

Tempeh with brown rice and seaweed noodles with a miso sauce.
Tempeh with brown rice and seaweed noodles with a miso sauce.

I want so badly to have the Sundays I was promised as a kid, “My I don’t have to run day.” But I do have to run…a lot.  To deal with my manic Sundays that often bleed into my Mondays, I like to get in an easy, yummy meal that will satisfy the whole family. Enter the tempeh bowl.

Ingredients

1 package of tempeh (Feel free to use your protein of choice but you will need to change the name of the dish.)

1 bunch of kale (Chard works too if you are trying to reduce cruciferous vegetables.)

6oz of mushrooms

1 box rice noodles (We prefer brown rice and seaweed noodles – spaghetti squash or spiraled cut veggies would make the meal grain-free.)

2 to 3 TBS Tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos

3 TBS coconut oil or ghee

Sauce (Optional but delicious.)

2 to 3 TBS tahini

1 TBS miso paste (Any color will work. I used red for this one.)

1/4 cup + apple cider vinegar (I add ACV until I get the consistency I like, which is a bit runny.)

Directions

  1. Prepare noodles according to instructions on box.
  2. Prep the tempeh by steaming it for 10 minutes. This helps absorb the flavor. (Optional)
  3. Once steamed, cut the tempeh in to 2 by 1 inch rectangles and place in a bowl  with the Tamari/soy/coconut aminos. Set aside.
  4. Wash and chop the kale and mushrooms.
  5. Using 1 TBS  of oil, pan fry the tempeh until you get some nice brown edges. About 5 minutes.
  6. Using 1to 2 TBS of  oil, sauté mushrooms for 1 or 2 minutes.
  7. Add kale to pan and saute mushrooms and kale until the kale is soft.
  8. Salt kale and mushrooms to taste.
  9. Assemble all the amazing things you have made and top with your favorite seeds and condiments. Tonight we used the tahini miso sauce, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and ground flaxseeds.

Sauce

  1. Mix the tahini with the miso well.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar to the tahini miso mixture until you reach the desired consistency and taste.

I like to create and share recipes that can be easily adapted for a variety of diet. I could easily see this same concept becoming a grain-free paleo meal as easily as it was a vegan meal. I hope you feel inspired to create something easy that you and your family can enjoy. Cheers!