Eat Seasonally: August Edition

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It's August which means it is tomato season! If you have never gotten the pleasure of eating a home-grown tomato (not one from the grocery store), then you, my friend, are missing out. Tomatoes are good, but homegrown tomatoes will blow your mind!

So... the great debate... are they vegetable or fruit? Technically tomatoes are fruit BUT everyone counts them as vegetables, including me. The way they grow makes them a fruit, BUT nutritionally, their caloric composition is more similar to that of a vegetable. So my vote is.... they are vegetables!

Tomatoes also make up 80% of the lycopene consumption in the US. This is mostly because of high consumption of pasta sauce and ketchup. That doesn't take away from the fact that tomatoes are a great source of lycopene which is a carotenoid that is linked to lower prostate cancer, reduction in oxidative stress, eye health, heart health and skin health. Lycopene is better absorbed with a fat source, which is one reason why this recipe ROCKS!!

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Avocado Toast with Basil, Heirloom Tomatoes and Balsamic Reduction:

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat bread

  • 1/4-1/2 avocado

  • 2-4 slices heirloom tomato

  • basil, chopped

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • salt and pepper

  • eggs

  • bacon

How to:

  1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, while whisking. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful, it will burn easily and tastes pretty awful when it's burnt.

  2. Cook your eggs and bacon.

  3. Toast the toast. Top with mashed avocado, tomato slices, chopped basil and balsamic reduction. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper.

  4. Serve with eggs and bacon on the side.

 

Eat Seasonally: July Edition

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Okay.... I am late to the game with July's recipes BUT these ones are totally worth the wait!

This months seasonal foods are peaches and blueberries!! Here in Spokane, we are so lucky to have Greenbluff so close. Picking my own fruit is like a novelty because we never had anything like that in Denver where I grew up. So, I LOVE going to pick my own fruit. One of the best parts is that they actually tell you to eat while you pick... for free! UMM yes please!!!

Before I dive into the recipes, let me tell you about these gifts from God!

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Peaches:

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Just like with all the fruits and vegetables that I have posted about, peaches help prevent chronic diseases which can be a blanket statement for all fruits and vegetables. These little gems are high in vitamin C which helps with collagen formation. So all you thinking about taking a collagen supplement- my advice to you is to eat your vitamin C, and your body will build its own collagen. Peaches also have vitamin A and beta-carotene to help your vision and skin!!

Blueberries:

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Blueberries are like a staple child for fighting inflammation. They have a low glycemic index score and a bunch of antioxidants which help them be a strong shield against inflammation. Blueberries also contain calcium for you bone health... so thats cool too!

 

 

 

Now to the yummy part!! This month I picked Salmon Burgers with Peach Salsa and a Corn and Blueberry Salad on the side.

A few notes about these recipes:

  • I used canned salmon which is not the most appealing when you open it up. But, we have a hard time justifying putting a nice fillet of salmon in a food processor. Canned salmon is also cheaper, and contains a good amount of calcium because the bones are still in the fish. Here is my tip: take it out of the can and try and think about anything else except the fish. Peel off the skin and move on!
  • If you are using canned or non-canned salmon, look for wild salmon, not farm raised.
  • Each portion of this recipe calls for jalapeno, onion, and cilantro- chop all of it at once and separate it into the different parts of the meal. (2 jalapenos, 1 cup cilantro, 1 large red onion).
  • If you are like me and have skin that can't stand jalapeno, use medical gloves while you handle the jalapeno. If you don't have any, use the inside of a produce bag. 

Salmon Burgers with Peach Salsa

Ingredients: 

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  • 1 lb salmon (we used 2 cans canned salmon)
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP Ghee/avocado oil

For the Peach Salsa

  • 3 large peaches, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • dash of salt and pepper

How to:

  1. Place 1/4 cup quinoa in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and cover and reduce heat and cook until cooked through. 
  2. If you are using a salmon fillet, put it in the food processor and pulse until it resembles ground meat. If you are using canned salmon, place it in a bowl and mix it up until it has flaked apart.
  3. Add 1 TBSP chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 cup onion, 1/2 bell pepper, 1/2 jalapeno, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/3 cup cooked quinoa, 1 TBSP lime juice, and 1 egg.
  4. Mix together and form into patties. It may be easier to place the patties in the refrigerator for a while to allow to bind.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the peaches, 1/4 cup onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 jalapeno, 1/4 cup cilantro, and 1 TBSP lime juice and salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. 
  6. When ready to cook, place 1/2 TBSP Ghee/avocado oil in a saute pan. Place patties in the pan and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. You will likely work in 2 waves. If so, add more Ghee/avocado oil to prevent sticking.

Corn and Blueberry Salad

Ingredients:

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  • 3 ears of corn
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

How to:

  1. Bring water to a boil. Cook corn for 8-10 minutes. When it is cool, cut the corn off the cobb.
  2. Combine the corn with 1 cup blueberries, 1 small cucumber, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 chopped, jalapeno, 2 TBSP lime juice, 2 TBSP olive oil, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Mix to combine and enjoy!!
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Eat Seasonally: June Edition

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We were at the Perry Street Farmers Market trying to decide what seasonal food we were going to buy for this month's post. As we were walking around the weather turned in an instant and all of a sudden we found ourselves in a downpour, so we quickly grabbed beets and ran...but paid for them first ;-)! We grabbed beets because there is so much fun stuff to do with beets! I grew up thinking beets tasted like dirt BUT as I experimented with them more I realized how sweet they actually are. So with this month's post, you get beets 3 ways!! But first- a little about beets:

Beets contain a ton of good nutrients, but nitrates are one in particular. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide works to relax and dilate blood vessels. This benefits:

  • Blood pressure: if there is more room in the vessels for the blood to flow, there isn't as much pressure making it easier for the blood to flow
  • Brain function: if there is more blood flowing to the brain, it will in turn work more sharply
  • Endurance: Again, more blood can flow with less resistance in the vessels means more blood to your muscles making you perform better

We often make a beet smoothie (recipe below) after our Wednesday bike rides and I have definitely experienced the nitrates effect on my blood pressure. Exercise also releases nitric oxide, so when I exercise and have beets, I sometimes feel like my blood pressure is too low! It is kind of cool to be able to feel what science says should be happening :-)

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The three recipes this month are

  1. Beet Green Pesto

  2. Beet Smoothie

  3. Beet, Fennel, Apple Slaw

 

Beet Green Pesto

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The root itself it great for you, but so are the leaves attached! 

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cups washed beet greens
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

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How to:

  1. Place all ingredients through pepper into a food processor. 
  2. Pulse until finely chopped
  3. Add olive oil and continue to pulse until it reaches your desired consistency
  4. Enjoy!
 

Beet Smoothie (makes 3-4 servings)

This is a go-to around our house! Vegetables are something I often don't get in for breakfast, so this is a fun way to incorporate vegetables at the beginning of my day!

Ingredients:

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  • 3 beets (cut in quarters, steamed and refrigerated)
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 LARGE handful spinach
  • 1 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • *optional to add protein powder
  • Your favorite granola

How to:

  1. Stick all ingredients (except granola) in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Serve in a bowl topped with granola
 
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Beet, Fennel and Apple Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium raw beets, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tart apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

How to:

  1. Combine chopped beets, fennel, apple and parsley in a bowl. 
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl
  3. Pour dressing over salad and mix together

Eat Seasonally: May Edition

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Can you feel it? The abundant fresh produce will be here SO soon! For now, if you have visited any of the local farmers markets, you have likely seen a lot of greens and radishes and seed starts. May is the in between month where the markets don't have too much, but you can get excited by the fact that more is coming!!

This month's recipe is a Cauliflower and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Radishes, Avocado and Apples!

Some seasonal highlights of this recipe are:

Cauliflower is a Brassica crop, which is known to help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and diabetes. It is high in vitamin C and vitamin K.

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Radishes are great for your liver. They are also high in vitamin C which is a precursor to collagen formation. Which is good for your tissues and skin! Radishes have a notable amount of folate, which can be hard to get for individuals who don't eat a lot of grains. Folate is very important in pregnancy and fetal development. 

Avocados are one of my favorites! Yes, they are high in fat, but they contain monounsaturated fats, which are healthy healthy healthy!! They are also high in fiber. Between the fiber and the amount of fat they have, avocados can be a great food to eat to help you feel full and satiated!

Chives also have many healthy characteristics. One to note is that they are good for digestion and can help get rid of bad bacteria, fungus and yeast in your GI tract to help it function as it should. 

So yea... this salad is packed with a punch and has many health benefits!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 TBSP lime juice + zest of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • chili powder, to taste
  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1 head of cauliflower, core removed (or cauliflower rice)
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 4 mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 1 1/2 crisp apple, diced
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
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How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix chickpeas with 1 TBSP olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet. Roast until slightly crispy, about 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk together lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard and 3 TBSP water. Set dressing aside.
  3. In a food processor, place cauliflower and chop until it is in small granules- like rice. You may have to do this in batches. Place in a large bowl.
  4. Place radishes, parsley, mint, chives, green onions, apples and sunflower seeds in the bowl with the cauliflower. Add the chickpeas. Mix to combine and add 1/2 of the dressing from step 2.
  5. Serve the salad topped with avocado and add dressing as needed.

*We served ours on a bed of spinach and added salmon and quinoa to make a complete dish!

 

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Eat Seasonally: April Edition

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Spring is officially here which means we have busted out the grill! This month's vegetable is artichoke, and yes, we decided to grill it!

Artichokes always take me back to one of the first years Kevin and I were dating. He came with us to a family friends house for a fairly fancy dinner event and artichokes were on the menu. He had never eaten an artichoke before and proceeded to stick the whole leaf in his mouth. About 5 minutes later, I realized he was still chewing and was struggling to get the leaves down. I had to signal to him how to eat the properly eat the artichoke without brining too much attention to us and he had to figure out how to get rid of the leaves that he had been trying to eat for the last 5 minutes! We then had to fight the laughter- which I know you all know that feeling of trying not to laugh, so then you just laugh harder- yea... that was us. It still makes me laugh just thinking about it. All that to say... if you're eating artichoke for the first time- DO NOT EAT THE WHOLE LEAF! There is "meat" at the bottom of the leaf that you use your teeth to peel off. As you get to the center of the artichoke, you can peel away all the leaves and the fuzzy stuff and find the heart- which is my favorite part!

This vegetable is unique to say the least, but it does have many health benefits. Artichokes have been shown to help digestive tract irritation and aid in creating a healthy gut environment. They have been used to treat high cholesterol because they increase the production of bile which helps to decrease excess cholesterol. This bile production also aids in the health of your gut by improving gut flora and reducing inflammation and irritation of your digestive tract. They are also full of antioxidants which help all sorts of functions in your body.

Artichokes are also full of fiber, B12 and vitamin K. Overall, this vegetable is full of health benefits!

So, here is how we cooked them!

Grilled Artichokes:

Ingredients:

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  • 2 artichokes (one artichoke per person)
  • One pot full of boiling water
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1+ TBSP butter, melted

How to:

  1. Chop the artichokes in half lengthwise
  2. Boil in water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
  3. Drain water out of artichokes and mix in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated.
  4. Place on grill for about 5-10 minutes, turning as needed. 
  5. Serve with melted butter to dip the leave in. Once you have peeled the "meat" off of the leaf, discard the leaf.
  6. As you reach the center, peel off remaining leaves and wash the fuzzy part off. This will leave you with the heart. Dip in butter and enjoy!

We served ours with grilled pork chops, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. 

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Greek Nachos

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Okay... here's the story: Kevin has been wanting nachos for weeks which has been so funny to me because it isn't something we eat often... or like ever... But he kept telling me we would make them more topping and less chip, so I was starting to be on board with the idea.

On Sundays we try to mix it up and do something different and fun for dinner, so we were trying to think of what, and of course nachos were suggested. I knew we had leftover pitas that we had to use...so the idea of Greek Nachos was born! We made pita chips out the of the pitas and created Greek Nachos!

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Here's the recipe:

Pita Chips:

Ingredients

  • pitas
  • olive oil or avocado spray
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Cut the pitas into chip sized pieces
  3. Place chips on a baking sheet and lightly spray the pita chips with oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  4. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until they are crunchy

Falafel:

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it becomes a paste
  3. Let the paste sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes
  4. Using 1/4 cup, scoop and form into patties and place on a baking sheet
  5. Bake for 20 minutes on each side
  6. *forming and flipping the patties will be a lot easier if the paste has more time to cool in the refrigerator 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour

Meat:

How to:

  1. Mix ingredients into meat and cook in a saute pan until cooked through. Break it into pieces as you cook the meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP fresh mint OR 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • dash of salt, pepper and cayenne

Greek Salad:

How to:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper

Tzatziki Sauce:

How to:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper

To make the nachos:

Combine vegetables and meat and top with falafel and tzatziki sauce. Top with feta. Enjoy with pita chips. 

 

Eat Seasonally: March Edition

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March is always an odd month. You never know what the weather is going to be and deep down you are anticipating the nice weather and sunshine coming but still getting hit with random cold weather and snowstorms... or at least that has been my experience here in the Northwest. I feel the same odd tension with food choices- I still crave the warm comfort foods from winter but also want to turn on the grill and start exploring salads and warm weather foods. 

This month's recipe contains a bit of both winter comfort and fresh warm weather vegetables. The comfort comes from the bacon- YUM! And the vegetables highlighted this month are peas, asparagus, and sugar snap peas. I have decided this salad will be my new go to for potlucks and parties because it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Here is some fun information about the vegetables:

Asparagus: is full of various phytonutrients and antioxidants. One to mention is called asparagusic acid which causes the asparagus smell to show up in your urine. Everyone metabolizes this in various ways, so not everyone can smell the resulting chemical in their urine. The breakdown of this chemical also plays a roll as a cofactor in aerobic metabolism. Plus its delicious!

Peas: peas are a part of the legume family. Research has shown that peas contain all sorts of antioxidants. One in particular is called coumestrol- which has shown to benefit our stomach health and specifically reduce the risk of stomach cancer. Peas also have a high amount of protein for a vegetable (8-10g per cup). They are full of fiber and actually contain omega-3 fatty acids as well! All of these attributes make peas a strong fighter against inflammation and other chronic diseases. 

Sugar Snap Peas: are unique in the fact that they provide a significant amount of iron for a vegetable. Iron is better absorbed with Vitamin C, which sugar snap peas also contain a significant amount of. This means you'll get more bang for your buck in iron absorption when choosing sugar snap peas!

Okay now for the recipe:

Asparagus and Peas with Warm Tarragon Vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas, cut in thirds
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, bottoms trimmed and stalks cut in thirds
  • 5 pieces bacon
  • 3/4 cup shallots (1 large shallot), diced
  • 3 TBSP fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon

How to:

  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Chop sugar snap peas and asparagus. Once water is boiling, place vegetables in water fro 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a saute pan. Once cooked, set aside. Pour off all but 1 TBSP of the bacon grease.
  3. Add shallots to the saute pan and cook until they begin to brown. Add vinegar, mustard, and tarragon. Quickly mix and then add vegetables to pan. Mix until coated. Then place in a bowl.
  4. Mix in salt, pepper and lemon zest. Break up the bacon into bits and mix in. Enjoy!!
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We served ours with grilled steak seasoned with Spiceology's Cowboy Crust Seasoning and farro. 

 

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Eat Seasonally: February Edition

Whew! February has come and gone pretty quickly! I wanted to add a post highlighting February's Seasonal Produce and a favorite seasonal vegetable: cauliflower!!

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This cauliflower recipe was a new one for us. It was inspired by a local restaurant- Wandering Table- who makes buffalo cauliflower bites that literally will leave you dreaming for days! When highlighting a vegetable I usually like to keep it simple, so if you are trying that vegetable for the first time, you can taste the food for what it is. BUT.... this month I couldn't resist hopping on this one. The beauty of this recipe is if you don't like cauliflower, I almost 100% believe you will like this. For parents out there- this is a great way to get your kids to eat some vegetables too!

Cauliflower is very nutritious and helps fight oxidation and inflammation. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, folate, and choline. Folate and choline are two nutrients that American's often don't get enough of. Also, because of the vitamins and minerals, cauliflower may help fight many kinds of cancer and reduce oxidative stress. Eating cauliflower when it is in season ensures the richness of these nutrients. So... eat your cauliflower!

Heres the recipe:

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour or oat flour 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Frank's buffalo hot sauce

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Create batter by mixing flour, water, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. This should be the consistency of pancake batter. If it isn't, add more water until it is.
  3. Cut the cauliflower into florets and mix into the batter.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes or until crispy.
  5. Place in bowl and pour buffalo sauce on the cauliflower until coated to your desired amount.

*An important note: we also tried this recipe without that batter. This was still delicious, but a little less crispy tasting. If you are wanting to do this, skip the flour & water, and instead mix the cauliflower with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder before roasting. Below are pictures of roasted and battered- so you can see the difference.

                                 Battered

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                                         Roasted

                                       Roasted

Eat Seasonally: January Edition

I know January is almost over, but I found this really cool list of seasonal foods and wanted to share one of our favorite recipes using a few vegetables you may not have ever heard of: rutabaga, parsnips, & turnips. 

First off, I want to talk about a few of the benefits of eating seasonally:

1. You are eating the food in its prime state:

This means it is ripe and loaded with vitamins and minerals. It hasn't been stored in a gas filled vacuum for months- like a lot of non-seasonal food. This also means... it tastes better!

2. Seasonal produce is generally cheaper:

When it is abundant, prices are low. Simple supply and demand concepts.

3. Seasonal produce can match the needs of the season:

You will notice the winter fruits contain a lot of citrus- which is beneficial in boosting your immune system and helps to fight off colds and flus. Winter vegetables are generally more starchy which works well in warm soups and stews and some of our favorite comfort foods.

So, here is January's list: (you can eat these in February too!)

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Most of January's vegetables grow in the ground so they can withstand the harsh climate of winter. They are generally more starchy, so can take that role on when you are building meals with them. 

One of our favorite easy recipes is roasted rutabaga, turnips, parsnips and carrots. These are probably vegetables you have 1. never heard of before or 2. have horrifying childhood memories of your parents threatening to make you eat them. The second reaction probably only happened because their names are weird, because they are actually all very sweet and delicious! Here is what they look like:

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Here are the details:

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 3 rutabaga, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 3 turnips, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 4 parsnips, sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. 
  2. Place vegetables in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary
  3. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  4. Serve with a protein and vegetable!

YUM! Enjoy!!

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A quick meal: tuna cakes

Okay... so yesterday was one of those days where nothing really went according to plan or as we expected. I often tell people that having a plan is one of the easiest ways to provide consistency and ultimately success in eating well and getting exercise in. I realize though that there are times when our plans don't work- that is just life. I also often suggest to people that they have a stock of foods that they know they can easily throw together for a quick meal. 

Back to yesterday...We got home later than we anticipated from work and had only a little bit before we had friends coming over.  People always ask me what our quick go to meals are, and I have started to feel boring telling people the same 3 or 4 that we usually choose. So, yesterday, I felt the challenge to create something different than we usually do. We decided to make tuna cakes!

Tuna is one of our go to proteins in these situations because it doesn't require thawing, cooking, or really much at all. It is also a great source of lean protein, has some omega 3 fatty acids, and some vitamin D as well. When buying tuna, get the tuna in water, not oil. Also, looked for canned light tuna instead of canned white. Canned white comes from albacore tuna, which is a bigger fish- meaning it has higher mercury content. Don't overdue tuna because it does contain mercury. For most individuals including those who are pregnant and breastfeeding, limit intake to about 2 cans of CANNED LIGHT TUNA per week (12 oz total). If you are choosing canned white tuna, limit intake to 1 can per week. 

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Okay, here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cans light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • a couple dashes of salt, pepper, celery seed and basil

How to:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Form into 2 patties with hands.
  2. Heat a sauté pan with 1/2 tsp Ghee or avocado oil. Place patties in pan and cook until browned on the outside- flipping halfway through.

Easy peasy!

We also made a Sriracha mayo to go on top with 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tsp Sriracha, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1/4 tsp pepper

As far as the rest of the meal goes, we whipped up some quinoa and a mix of the veggies we had around already including sautéed garlicky Swiss chard: sauté roughly chopped Swiss chard in a tiny bit of Ghee/avocado oil with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper. 

And viola! We had a satisfying, well balanced meal! And one to add to our list of quick ideas.

Give it a try! Or figure out what kind of quick meals you can make when a crazy day hits and get the ingredients, so you know you're prepared!

Chili and Cornbread for Halloween!

We always had chili the night of Halloween when I was a kid. Thinking back, I don't think it was a spoken tradition, but we did it every year. My mom made a good choice to fill us up with a warm and hearty meal because we would refuse to wear jackets over our costumes on the frigid October night. Kevin and I have stuck with that tradition and I wanted to share one of our favorite chili and cornbread recipes with you to eat this Halloween or anytime this winter!

The chili can be made in the crockpot or all at once. And the cornbread can be made into muffins or squares!

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Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 29 oz can low sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz can low sodium petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz can low sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1-2 TBSP adobo chilis in sauce, dice the chilis (do less if you don't like spice)
  • 1 TBSP oregano

How To

  1.  In a large saucepan, brown ground turkey, onion, and garlic. Drain off extra fat.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, petite tomatoes, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, thyme, salt, pepper, chili powder, adobo chilis, and oregano in the crockpot.
  3. When meat is cooked through, add to crockpot. Stir all ingredients together and add chicken broth accordingly. Start with 1 cup and add more if you want more liquid.
  4. Set crockpot for low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  5. If you are not using a crockpot, follow the same directions, except cook in a large saucepan. Once ingredients are combined,  bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. 

Cornbread Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl of mixer.
  2. Add cornmeal and mix.
  3. Add egg, milk, butter and mix until combined (no more that 1 minutes)
  4. Grease 9 muffin tin slots and fill each evenly with batter.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned and toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
  6. Can also make cornbread squares by using a 8x8 pan and baking for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Serve with honey butter

*Cornbread recipe from Bob's Red Mill cornmeal package. 

Serve with salad, steamed broccoli or sautéed green beans to make a complete and nutritious meal!

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

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Who's stoked about pumpkin spice anything?! Funny enough- most pumpkin spice products don't contain any pumpkin at all. It is generally the spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves/allspice (or a synthetic version of this) that we crave. And all because those spices are generally linked to positive and cozy memories!

This weekend, we tried making a pumpkin spice coffee creamer (kinda like a latte) and used real pumpkin because pumpkin is full of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants! Here is what I came up with:

  • 2 cups almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • dash of ginger
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix in a blender until well combined. Pour desired amount into coffee and then add maple syrup to sweeten to your preference. Store the rest in the refrigerator for later use!

O and yes, the pumpkin will separate out, so mix well before you use it again. And, mix into your coffee well too!

Hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Season

We absolutely love the summer and fall here in Spokane when we can go pick our own fruit. For two city kids, there is something about being outdoors picking your own food that just seems magical to us. Plus we always come home and have to come up with a million ways to use all the fruit we just picked! This week- it was strawberries!!

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Strawberries are a great source of antioxidants. They are also a good source of vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium. 1 cup of strawberries contains 99% of recommended daily vitamin C intake! Strawberries have a low glycemic index, meaning they help keep blood sugars level- which is good for everyone's health. Strawberries have a fairly low amount of calories and high amount of fiber- 1 cup has about 50 calories and about 3 grams of fiber. Overall, strawberries are a great seasonal snack and have many health benefits!

Here are some of the ways we used our strawberries:

Strawberry Salsa on Tilapia

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs tilapia
  • Salt and pepper
  • non-stick spray
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds removed)
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3+ cup cilantro chopped
  • 2+TBSP lime juice

How to:

  1. Preheat grill. Salt and pepper fish. Prepare a large piece of foil and spray with non-stick spray. Place fish in foil and fold foil so it is sealed.
  2.  Place the foiled fish on the grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until fish is done.
  3. Meanwhile, combine strawberries, jalapeno, green onion, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Enjoy fish topped with salsa!

We served ours with grilled corn and asparagus and quinoa

Strawberry Salad

I feel like a kale strawberry salad is a well known salad. We spiced it up with a few extra fun vegetables and herbs!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale, ribbed and chopped
  • 2/3 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 2/3 cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4+ cup mint, diced
  • 1/4+ cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted or unroasted
  • poppyseed dressing OR olive oil and vinegar 

How to:

  1. Chop and combine all ingredients and top with dressing. Enjoy :-)

Would go great with grilled chicken! 

Chocolate Pudding with Strawberries

I am a sucker for chocolate pudding! I love to make it from scratch because then I know the ingredients going into it. It is actually easier to do than you might think! This recipe is not "healthy," although I did make some substitutions to the original to make it healthier. It is a nice treat though :-) 

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP corn starch
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sliced strawberries for serving

How to:

  1. In a medium glass or metal bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar. The mixture will be clumpy and crumbly- just make sure it gets combined.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, chocolate and salt over medium heat. Stir frequently until chocolate melts. (heat and milk always worry me because the milk can coagulate- make sure you are stirring enough to prevent this from happening).
  3. Once chocolate has melted, whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (about 1/4 cup at a time). Whisk until completely combined.
  4. Pour mixture back into saucepan and continue to whisk over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, until it thickens. It may seem hopeless at minute 8, but I promise it will thicken!!
  5. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla. 
  6. Place in refrigerator for 3+ hours and serve with sliced strawberries on top.

Quick No-Sugar Strawberry Jam

Okay...maybe I can't call this a jam, but we use it as a spread on all sorts of things. It does not keep long, because there is nothing in it to preserve the fruit. Our favorite thing to use it on is pancakes. We have both found that pancakes are a good carbohydrate fuel source for the night before a long run or bike ride. The pancakes we make are made with whole wheat flour, oats, greek yogurt and just a bit of sugar. We did top ours with this jam this week!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 2-3 TBSP water

How to:

  1. In a small saucepan, place strawberries and water over medium-high heat. 
  2. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring and smashing occasionally, until berries begin to breakdown and create a sauce. It is important to keep stirring so the sauce doesn't burn to the pan.
  3. Serve and enjoy on anything you can think of!
  4. To store- place in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 
 

That is it for my strawberry recipes this year! I hope you found some inspiration to enjoy strawberries while they are in season!!

Trail Mix Bar

Alright, I am coming at you with another post about snacks. One of my goals in life is to create a perfect bar- so I don't have to buy them. When I look for a bar I look for calories, protein, and how the bar is sweetened. Ideally, I find a bar with about 200 calories is a good snack amount. Protein is hard- but I usually look for 7g or more, but avoid ones with too much protein (because it is unnecessary). I look at the sugars and then check how that bar is sweetened. I tend to choose bars that are naturally sweetened with fruits. I also always chose one with mostly whole ingredients. On my quest for a good bar recipe, I found this one! It is sweetened with banana :). The protein comes from nuts. It is spiced up with some dried fruit, cinnamon and I added cocoa nibs too! I found it was easy to make, easy to store and quite delicious!!

Ingredients: 

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  • 1.5 cups ripe banana, mashed (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs

How To:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. 
  • In a bowl, mash bananas and add vanilla extract.
  • Add oats to a food processor and pulse until oats are coarsely chopped. Add to banana mixture
  • Place cherries in food processor, pulse until chopped. Add to banana mixture and mix well.
  • Place walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and almonds in the food processor and pulse a couple times until coarseley chopped. Add to banana mixture along with hemp seeds, cinnamon and 1/2 of the cocoa nibs. 
  • Mix well. Spread into prepared dish, pressing down and evenly distributing. 
  • Sprinkle the rest of the cocao nibs on top. 
  • Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Let cool. The cut into 16 pieces. I wrapped mine individually and stuck them in the freezer. 

A few fun facts about the ingredients:

Hemp seeds: are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Also, high in protein. These seeds contain about 25% protein for weight, which is comparable to most meat sources. Also, they are considered a complete protein- meaning they have all the essential amino acids- which is very hard to come by in the plant world. 

Cocao nibs: Come from the husk of the cocao bean- which is removed during the drying and fermentation of the cocao bean to ultimately make chocolate. The chocolate we know has things (sugar) added to it to make it sweet and delicious. The cocao nib doesn't. It still has a slightly sweet taste- but don't expect it to taste like the chocolate you are used to! It is considered a superfood. It is high in antioxidants, has caffeine, and contains nutrients like magnesium. 

 

Bloomsday Fuel

Are you doing Bloomsday this year?! Good for you! I love Bloomsday because running or walking- 7.5 miles is a long distance, yet over 60,000+ people rise to the challenge and complete it. I also love it cause it means summer is coming :) 

This Bloomsday, make sure you are fueled right! No matter what pace you are going at, having the right fuel will help you feel better during the race. Here are my suggestions:

Saturday Night: make sure your dinner includes some sort of carbohydrate, and limit fiber if you tend to get GI distress while exercising. Some good carbohydrate choices to choose are:

  • Sweet potatoes (avoid the skin)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Pasta, orzo
  • Other grains: quinoa, millet, bulgur, etc.

Some easy meal ideas:

  • Stir fry: brown rice, chicken, vegetables (don't overdue the vegetables)
  • Sweet potatoes, eggs or ground turkey, guacamole, tomatoes, bell peppers
  • Turkey sandwich with fruits and vegetables on side

Sunday Morning: Carbohydrates should be a main focus, but do include a protein too. Limit fiber and avoid dairy. Good and easy ideas include:

  • Oatmeal + fruit + eggs, nut butter, or nuts (to add protein)
  • Whole wheat English muffin or toast with peanut butter, banana, and cinnamon
  • Sweet potato with eggs
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich 

During race: Make sure you are drinking water!!

After: refuel with a carbohydrate and protein soon after finish. I like chocolate milk :) Then, get a balanced meal as soon as possible. Drink water too!

Good luck this Bloomsday! Hopefully I will see you out there!!

 

 

A healthy muffin?!

We are always searching for new snack ideas. We often find ourselves relying on bars as snacks, which is okay-especially if you find a bar made with whole ingredients and limited added sugar. On days that we aren't working out, I try to choose a non-bar option. In my search I came across a recipe for some pretty healthy looking blueberry muffins. I decided to play with it a little and decrease the added sugar and increase the protein to make it a healthier snack option. Here is what I came up with!

PS I suggest eating with a little bit of peanut butter or almond butter:-)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup oats
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, ground flax seed, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until combined.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine maple syrup, yogurt, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix until combined and yogurt is dispersed.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Add blueberries (if using frozen don't allow them time to thaw or they will turn everything blue!) Fill all 12 muffin containers with equal amounts of batter.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
  6. Store in refrigerator if they will be eaten in about a week. If not, wrap individually in foil and store in the freezer.