Monday, May 28, 2012

Watermelon-Lime Berry Fusion


After a Memorial Day BBQ party you are typically left with watermelon and possibly a hangover.  The inspiration for this smoothie came from that very situation.  I wanted to create an incredibly thirst-quenching “cooler” to enjoy on a hot and humid day.  Watermelon is 92% water and 8% sugar, plus it has electrolytes to help with your hangover. 

This incredibly refreshing beverage will perk you right up with invigorating lime, hydrating melon and sweet strawberries and raspberries.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 lime
  • ½ cup crushed ice


Preparation
  1. Place watermelon, strawberries and raspberries in blender
  2. Zest lime and set aside for garnish
  3. Squeeze lime juice into blender
  4. Add ice and blend until fully incorporated
  5. Serve immediately and garnish with lime zest and extra raspberries

Health Benefits
The star of this recipe is clearly the watermelon which is technically a vegetable and part of the cucumber and squash family.  Who knew!?  This vegetable in disguise also contains high concentrations of lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that may reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.  Enjoy the taste, immediate uplifting perks and the long-term health benefits of this easy to make watermelon recipe.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Southwest Jicama Slaw

Just coming back from the Southwest has inspired me to experiment with new flavors and ingredients.  This fresh and healthy jicama salad is perfect as a fun side for a BBQ.

Ingredients
  • 1 large jicama, peeled and sliced thinly into short strips
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup red poblano pepper
  • ½ purple onion, diced
  • 1 champagne mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 green poblano chili
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • onion powder and black pepper to taste
  • other ingredient options: shredded carrots, granny smith apples, scallions

Preparation
  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss
  2. Let chill in fridge for 1-2 hours and serve
Jicama is a vegetable and is like a cross between a potato and an apple or pear in terms of texture and taste.  It has almost no flavor and is crunchy.  I found jicama at Whole Foods (had to ask twice - not easy to find) but is available year-round.  It looks similar to a turnip with tan skin.  It is very low in calories and high in Vitamin C.

Storage: You can store jicama for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in your fridge.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Almond Butter and Berry Smoothie

This morning I woke up craving a refreshing and filling smoothie.  But, oh no!  Out of protein powder… What is a healthy foodie to do?!

My protein powder is what gives my smoothies their thick texture so I had to think quick for a substitution… So, I’m thinking thick and then it comes to me: almond butter and oats!

The result was something entirely natural and much more delicious!  I may be obsessed with this new creation (even though I will warn you that it sounds… different).  Here we go…
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp almond butter, unsalted
  • ¼ cup old fashion oats (helps with thickness) 
Puree ingredients in blender and serve immediately.
Made with only raspberries

Health Benefits
This all-natural recipe features fruit, whole grains and almonds.  We know almonds are “nuterrific” because they are high in fiber, the antioxidant Vitamin E and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that won’t raise your cholesterol.

This breakfast is incredibly filling and full of natural energy – Now all you have to do is "bring it"!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms

This elegant and light appetizer is perfect for a quick snack or for entertaining.  Most stuffed mushroom recipes contain cheese and/or mayo – this recipe keeps it creamy with hummus and flavorful with dill and garlic.

The health factor of this tiny bite is huge… salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and contains important vitamins (A, C, D, E) and minerals such as zinc, calcium, selenium and iron; hummus is a healthy form of lean protein; and low-calorie mushrooms are full of B vitamins, selenium, potassium and vitamin D. 

Ingredients
  • 10 large organic white button mushrooms, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
  • 1 can wild Alaskan salmon in water
  • 1/3 C garlic hummus (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dill (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Optional garnish ingredients: fresh dill, fresh basil, avocado, roasted shallot ring 
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Open canned salmon and drain thoroughly
  3. In a mixing bowl, add mustard, dill and pepper to the salmon and set aside
  4. Lightly spray a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil
  5. Remove the entire stem of each mushroom, leaving a small pocket in the underbelly of each mushroom
  6. Fill the empty space with hummus and top with the salmon mixture
  7. Place in oven for 10 minutes
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes and garnish with dill, basil, a single roasted shallot ring or even avocado!
Did you know?
  • Mushrooms are technically a fungus, not a vegetable (no roots, leaves or seeds) and contain 90% water!
  • It is best to store extra mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge and they can be stored for up to one week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yummy Batter Cookies

I named these after the fact that I couldn’t stop eating the batter.  But don’t let the name fool you, the actual cookie post-baking is incredible.  These are by far my favorite gluten-free, vegan cookies yet!  And for those who know me, I make cookies almost every other night and love to experiment with different flours, measurements and different ingredients to keep things interesting.

My husband (who has become my default taste tester) agrees the texture is like a “real” cookie and it has the perfect balance of sweetness (thanks to my new obsession, agave nectar, instead of my go-to stevia which can sometimes be a little too sweet or have a slightly bitter aftertaste).

This recipe makes 12 cookies (unless you eat the batter which is irresistibly yummy).

Dry Ingredients
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats (gluten free)
  • ¼ cup teff flour
  • ¼ cup raw walnut baking pieces
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate mini chips
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg or cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
  • ¼ cup raw almond butter
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (light)

Preparation
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix
  3. Stop to taste the amazing batter (and you can because it is egg-free)
  4. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees
  5. Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before enjoying
  6. Serve with extra cold almond milk for a perfect late night snack!

All About Agave
This recipe uses agave nectar, a vegan natural sweetener that is similar to honey (but better).  Agave nectar comes from the agave plant which is also the starting material for the production of tequila.

Agave syrup has a low glycemic index.  So, it offers a balanced sweetness without the typical "sugar rush" and unhealthy blood sugar spike caused by refined sugars.  You should still use it moderately.  One tablespoon contains 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mango Sorbet

Shown with berry garnish
This refreshing and extremely healthy homemade sorbet dessert is perfect to end any meal and just so happens to have a difficulty factor of … zero.


Servings: 2

Ingredients
  • 2 cup frozen mango, unsweetened
  • ½ cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk 
Preparation
  1. Allow frozen mango to thaw out for 5-10 minutes
  2. Place mango and milk in mini food processor and pulse for 30 seconds
  3. Scoop mixture into individual bowls
  4. Place in freezer for 10 minutes
  5. Top it off with berries and enjoy!
Health Benefits
Mango sorbet shown without the berry garnish
I love sorbet but the store bought kind often contains added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients.  This two-ingredient version contains only the good stuff ;)

Fruit is an excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth while packing in nutrients (mangos contain vitamin A and C). 

Make it your own…
You could use these measurement guidelines and preparation steps to make your favorite flavor of sorbet – just substitute the frozen mango for another frozen fruit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Complete Breakfast Solution

Shown without wild blueberries
Part of finding your way to a healthier you starts with breakfast.

Why is breakfast important?  It kick-starts your metabolism for the day and helps give your body the energy it needs to think faster and more clearly while preventing overeating later in the day by keeping you satisfied.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a healthy breakfast.  It sets the tone for your entire day.

Here is a complete breakfast solution to get you started.  I call it "Loaded Oatmeal" - this 4 ingredient breakfast fix boasts a complete meal (protein, whole grains and fruit).  It is not only a nutrition powerhouse, but tastes so good you might mistake it for dessert!  At 7:30am - it is my favorite way to start the day.

Loaded Oatmeal 

Ingredients
  1. 1 cup milk or milk alternative (such as unsweetened almond milk)
  2. ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  3. 1 tbsp natural unsalted peanut butter (or any nut butter – almond, cashew)
  4. ½ cup frozen wild blueberries 
  5. Fresh berries for garnish
Add Stevia sweetener and cinnamon to taste.
Serving suggestion: garnish with fresh berries
Bonus points is you sprinkle on some ground flax seed and/or chopped walnuts for some added Omega-3 benefits!  Flax seed also provides you with lignans - a cancer-fighter.

Preparation

  1. Bring milk to boil
  2. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat.  Cook gently for 3-5 minutes, until mixture becomes uniform and thick
  3. Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with berries (and bonus ingredients if desired).  Serve immediately.  
Shown with wild blueberries
Health Benefits
  • Adding berries to your breakfast is a great way to make things more exciting.  Plus, berries are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Antioxidants are powerful disease fighters that protect cells from free radicals that may cause diseases like cancer.
  • Fiber: This dish is loaded with fiber which is great for healthy digestion, a healthy heart and of course helps keep you fuller, longer.  Fiber is great for weight management.
  • This dish really has it all: fiber, healthy protein, whole grain oats and delicious fruit - all in one bowl!
This deliciously healthy dish certainly gives me something to get out of bed for in the morning.  And, it is hearty enough to hold me over until my mid-morning snack.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nutty Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast muffin?  It is a great on-the go option because it is so portable.  And, depending on the recipe, it can offer some excellent nutrition benefits all in one tiny package. 

This recipe packs loads of nutritional goods including a variety of whole grains, fiber, protein, heart healthy fat and a good amount of fruit.  It is egg-free, dairy-free and naturally sweetened without the use of added sugar.  So what exactly is it made of?

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups of dry ingredients 
                ½ cup whole-wheat flour
                ½ cup whole oats
                ½ cup oat bran
                ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp flax seed
  • Sprinkle of Stevia extract
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingredients in medium sized bowl
  3. Stir in wet ingredients
  4. Add spoonfuls of the mixture to sprayed muffin pan
  5. Bake 20-22 minutes

Makes about 18 small muffins
Serving suggestions: Serve warm and spread your favorite nut butter on top.

Health Benefits
  • By substituting apple sauce for oil and butter you lower the saturated fat content while keeping the muffins moist and naturally sweet.
  • Using whole-wheat flour adds fiber to the muffins, which will help to fill you up more.  This muffin can go the distance and help you make it to your lunch break.

Beyond Eggs
Did you know you can substitute other ingredients for eggs?  Eggs contain cholesterol, are a common food allergen and create a problem for vegans.  If you are trying to stay away from eggs use this handy substitution:

1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flax seed, simmered in 3 tbsp water

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Avocado Basil Brown Rice




This creamy and flavorful side dish can be easily transformed into a main dish by adding your favorite protein.

Ingredients
Shown with Black Beans
1.5 cups of brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice – Microwaves in 3 minutes)

Blend this in a mini food processor:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 cloves or garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice (optional)



Once the rice is cooked and the sauce is blended combine them and mix immediately with whatever protein you want on top.  Garnish with basil.

Pairing Suggestions
Shown with Shrimp
and Chicken Sausage
What is great about this is you can mix in anything with this dish - tofu, beans, chicken, shrimp, fish... whatever.  It really does pair well with anything.  

Health Benefits of Avocados
As if you need more reasons to consume this delicious fruit…
Avocados are an excellent source of heart healthy, monounsaturated fat.  They are high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Avocados even contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas!

Why Brown Rice?
Brown rice is considered a whole grain, which means it contains the entire grain kernel (the bran, germ, and endosperm).  Whole grains are loaded with nutrients and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Brown rice has 4 times more fiber than white rice and because of this can help with weight management by providing a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. 


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tex Mex Quinoa


I’m always looking for new ways to prepare quinoa.  This southwest twist takes quinoa from basic to flavorfully fun and colorful.  The addition of the black beans is great for added protein and fiber.  Top with an avocado and extra lime juice just before serving for an extra wow factor.

Ingredients
  • ½ cups dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • 1 champagne mango, not too ripe, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/8-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves gently torn (discard stems)
  • Optional: Add chunks of avocado right before serving and squeeze extra lime juice on top. Sprinkle with more cilantro in center for a picture perfect dish.

Preparation
  1. Cook quinoa in water until fully absorbed (approx. 20 minutes)
  2. Add ingredients in the order they appear above and stir to combine
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature

This recipe is adapted from my good friend Amy Kardon.  Original recipe can be found here: http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreerecipes/r/ThaiQuinoa.htm
Thanks, Amy!

Warm Honeycrisp Apple Dessert

This cozy dessert is as delicious as warm apple pie.  America could benefit from this naturally-sweetened and vegan twist on their classic dish. 

Americans love their apples… we eat about 120 apples apiece each year.  Like all fruits, they contain natural antioxidants to give your body a strong defense against disease. This recipe sneaks in some whole grains for fiber to boost the nutrition even further. 

Serves: 3

Ingredients
  • 2 large honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup crushed walnuts, raw
  • 3 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp unsulphered molasses (a natural sweetener high in iron, calcium and potassium)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp agave syrup (a natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Stevia to taste (optional)
  • Sprinkle of ginger
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes
  3. Spray glass baking dish with canola oil and add ingredients
  4. Bake for 25 minutes
  5. Serve immediately
  6. Recommended: serve with vanilla ice cream or dairy-free substitute
Video: Slicing the apples...


video

Thanks to my amazing mom for inventing and cooking this dish with me :)

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad can often times be heavy and drenched in mayonnaise.  Not to mention it is typically full of salt.  This recipe is a lighter and healthier version with added crunch from veggies like celery, radishes and red onion.  Your heart will thank you for leaving out the salt and eggs.

Ingredients
  • 2 cans of chicken in water (white meat, 98% fat free)
  • 2 tbsp Vegenaise ® Grapeseed Oil
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • 4 tbsp chives, cut into small pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • ½ cup red onion or shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Preparation
  1. Drain water from canned chicken, remove chicken from can and pat dry with a paper towel
  2. Place chicken in a bowl and add remaining ingredients
  3. Mix together with a fork until ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout the salad
  4. Serve chilled with whole wheat pita or whole wheat crackers

Keeping it healthy…
  • The chicken in this recipe is in water rather than oil and is white meat (98% fat free) which provides lean protein
  • Rather than seasoning with salt, this recipe uses onion powder, pepper and fresh veggies to bring out the natural flavor of the main ingredient
  • Vegenaise ® Grapeseed Oil is egg-free and is a great substitute for mayonnaise to help avoid cholesterol.  Plus, the grape seed extract contains antioxidants to help fight free radicals


Special thanks to my dad for the inspiration for this recipe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Drunken Shrimp

This is a fun and impressive recipe for a dinner party or for a fancy dinner night.  The vermouth adds a distinctive herbal flavor and the wine adds an aromatic yet sweet taste that makes this dish extra special without making you extra tipsy.


Ingredients
  • 1 lb / 25 jumbo shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp sauvignon blanc
  • ½ fresh lemon
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 avocado for garnish
  • 1 lb of whole wheat pasta
  • Optional extra items to add to your drunken shrimp sauté: grape tomatoes, red peppers, black olives
Preparation
  1. Heat large sauté pan to medium heat and sauté shallot and green onion in olive oil until translucent (approximately 5 minutes)
  2. In separate pot, bring water to boil for pasta
  3. Add portabella mushrooms to sauté pan and then drench with wine, vermouth and fresh lemon juice
  4. Add pasta to boiling water in pot
  5. Add pine nuts, shrimp and spinach to sauté pan and season with fresh pepper, onion powder and pressed garlic
  6. Once pasta is cooked, strain before adding pasta to sauté pan
  7. Before serving, you may want to add an extra tbsp of the vermouth and wine to make the flavor extra bold
  8. When serving dish, add spoonfuls of sauce from sauté and garnish with small chunks of avocado

special thanks to my dad who taught me how to cook with vermouth