Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Recipes, health lifestyle tips and other food-related topics can be found here.

Red, White, and…Green!

Standard


Happy 4th of July America! In honor of the holiday I decided to post my most recent creation in the kitchen.  I called it my “red, white, and green salad” to go along with the patriotic theme.  Our household is learning how to cook in a gluten-free environment nowadays, so I have found myself experimenting with gluten-free swaps.  This recipe used a gluten-free elbow macaroni, and the consensus was a total thumbs up!  I think I even heard the words, “you can’t tell the difference.”  Sweetness to my ears!

Going gluten free is more common nowadays than it was even ten years ago.  My household is doing it for medical purposes, but many people choose to go gluten-free for a variety of reasons.  The time it would take to fully go into this topic would make this post longer than necessary, so I will save gluten-free issues for another day.  Needless to say, if you need or want to take gluten out of your diet, it doesn’t mean you can never have pasta, cakes, or sandwiches again.  

So if you want to try gluten-free, and get some healthy greens in your diet, perhaps you can give this recipe a whirl at your next meal.

For the “meat” of the salad:

  • 2 cups of gluten-free elbow macaroni (any brand will work) 
  • 3 large leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 cup of julienne sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup of diced red onion

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 or 2 small anchovies, chopped 
  • 1 to 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

I mixed the dressing ingredients together and set aside while I assembled the salad ingredients.  For the kale, I did massage the juice of half a lemon with the leaves to help break down the fibers and cut the bitterness a bit.  Once everything was cooked and chopped, I combined it all in a large bowl and let it cool in the fridge for a bit.  Then it was ready to serve! For hot summer cookouts, this is a great accompaniment without worrying about what is secretly hiding inside.  If you can’t do the kale, substitute fresh spinach leaves instead.  Easy-peasy and still just as healthy. 

So at your next gathering, instead of going to your grocery store’s deli section, surprise your guests with a healthy alternative to pasta salad.  

Happy Birthday America, and until next time,

Cheers!

Advertisements

Dinner on the Run

Standard

If you would have asked me years ago how I felt about green peas, I probably would have made a gagging motion.  Especially the kind that come in a can and appear to be a funky green color from over-processing.  

But today I was able to find some fresh green peas while in St. Louis, and decided I wanted to do something for dinner.  I was in between obligations for my kids, and I needed to figure out what everyone was going to eat and when.  I also needed to clear out some vegetables in my refrigerator.  What better way to incorporate both than through a salad? 

Here is what I used to whip up this tasty, but really healthy “Dinner on the Run.”

For the salad:

  • 1 10 oz bag of fresh spring peas
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced and halved
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

For the dressing:

  • 2 heaping TBSP Primal Kitchen brand paleo mayonnaise
  • 1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste 

Wisk all ingredients together and pour over the vegetables.  Toss and then enjoy!  It gets better as it sits in the refrigerator.  So if you feel stretched for time, but want to make something healthy for yourself, always remember vegetables make a great salad.  If mayonnaise-based dressings are not your thing, then use a vinaigrette you love.  Whatever you do, make it your own.

Until next time,

Cheers! 

The Magic of Maca

Standard

fullsizerender

Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, and I find myself prepping a bit for the week ahead.  Something I try to do is make easy-to-grab snacks that are healthy and filling.  Today I decided to make protein balls.  One thing my friends know about me is I hate to exact measure ingredients, which I know, is not the greatest trait for recipes.  But in my defense, I like the freedom it allows me in the kitchen, and once I have a recipe down then I figure in the needed amounts.  So here we go with today’s Sunday creation.

Last week I listened to a lecture by a man named David Wolfe.  For anyone who may not recognize this name, Wolfe is a well-known superfoods guru.  He has traveled the world and done extensive education on various things like cacao and spirulina, learning and teaching about how powerful superfoods can be for the body in today’s toxic environment.  Something new I gleaned from this lecture was a superfood called Maca.  Maca is from the Peruvian Andes and is known to help increase energy, endurance, strength, and even libido.  Maca powder also contains more protein and fiber than a potato, and it is loaded with 20 amino acids, seven of those being essential amino acids.  So in a nutshell, this superfood is a great addition to one’s diet.

Maca comes in a powder form, making it easy to throw into smoothies, yogurt, or even on top of your morning cereal.  Just don’t put it in something you plan to cook, like soup, because it breaks down the nutrients.

After finding some Maca powder at my local health food store I decided to use it in my protein balls.  This recipe is super quick and easy, plus you don’t have to bake a thing!  I made these gluten-free, but you can tailor it to your own health needs.  Here is what you need for this particular recipe:

  • Gluten-free rolled oats
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Local honey
  • Carob chips
  • Protein powder (I used hemp in this case because of its nutty flavor)
  • Maca powder
  • Ground Chia seed

I mixed together one cup of the rolled oats, one cup of the chunky peanut butter, 1/2 a cup of almond butter, 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey (just do it to taste here, you know how sweet you want it), 1/4 to 1/3 cup of carob chips, two tablespoons of protein powder of choice (you may want to steer clear of flavored powders here and go for the unflavored version), one to two tablespoon of Maca powder and one tablespoon of the ground chia seed.  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and don’t worry if the powders and chia seeds slightly change the color of the mixture.  Then simply form small balls using a rolling motion between the palm of your hands.  I make mine about the size of a golf ball, maybe slightly smaller.  Store in an airtight container and enjoy throughout the week!

If you have a peanut allergy, substitute a crunchy almond butter, or some other kind of crunchy nut butter.  You can even make your own at home in a blender to get it even closer to the source.  If honey is not your thing, you could use the same amount of brown rice syrup or agave nectar.  But honey is a wonderful sweetener, especially locally grown honey because it is full of antioxidants, probiotics, minerals, and enzymes.

fullsizerender2

These are great for on-the-go breakfasts and snacks, or as a sweet ending to a meal.  Either way, you choose, you know you are putting good stuff in your body that your taste buds will enjoy.Until next time,

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

 

Inspirations 

Standard

The last couple of days I have been home with a sick kiddo, so I had a few minutes to let my kitchen take over my brain.  One of my favorite go-to proteins is ground turkey.  It is easy to prepare and you can add just about any spice to it for a tasty outcome.  I usually buy a one pound package of organic turkey meat to give me a few meals to eat during the week.

This week I dediced to make my turkey more “Korean” inspired by adding my favorite condiment in the world, Go-Chu-Jang.  Although it is impossible for me to actually say aloud, this sweet and spicy pepper paste will make you turn away from any barbeque sauce on the market! You can marinade with it, toss it in ground meats, or use it in dips and dressings.  So this is what I poured over my turkey as it was sizzling on the stove, along with a little sea salt, cracked pepper, cumin and onion powder.  I would say a hearty pinch or two of each spice and at least an oversized tablespoon of the paste.


My ultimate goal was to make a Korean Taco Salad for lunch, so after I sautéed some onions and a little lacinato kale in the turkey I started on the salad.  Salads are great because you can tailor them to whatever your dietary needs may encompass.  For mine I did an organic mixed greens with spinach, baby bok choy, and sweet baby kale.  For my “add-ins” I threw in some roasted macadamia nuts, half a diced avocado and some goat cheese crumbles.

I wanted the dressing to mimic a fiesta ranch, but minus the dairy.  So I used two tablespoons of paleo mayonnaise, 1/2 to one teaspoon of Harissa, a good dash of onion powder, basil, parsley and cumin.  Then I whisked it together with some coconut vinegar and fresh lime juice (about a teaspoon).  I adjusted the taste with salt and pepper, but the outcome was exactly what I wanted! Spicy and creamy, it made the perfect dressing.  All I had to do after mixing the salad was top it with my turkey meat. I will definitely be making this salad again because it was so yummy and healthy! Plus it was filling, leaving me completely satisfied when I finished.

Day two of being home I decided to go a different direction, and it was super quick and easy.  I hulled out five Baby Bella mushrooms and topped each with Daiya mozzarella cheese (non-dairy cheese that melts like real cheese!).  Placing the mushrooms in a dish, I broiled them in the oven on high for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Long enough to warm the mushrooms and melt the cheese.  Once they were finished I topped each mushroom with my remaining turkey mixture and part of a diced avocado.  Round two was just as tasty as yesterday’s salad!

So the next time you find yourself staring blankly at the contents of your refrigerator, maybe these two little inspirations of mine will lead you to your own creation in the kitchen.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Back in the Saddle Again

Standard

img_1250

The second day of January reminds me a little of Ash Wednesday after a gluttonous Fat Tuesday.  New Year’s Day usually involves trying to remember resolutions and finding the jar of aspirin to calm that raging Champagne headache.  But the second day of January usually entails gym memberships and healthy diet plans.  Today I was thinking as I start this new year how I need to get back in the saddle on things, especially my diet.  I don’t really worry too much about the holiday season, especially the two weeks my children are home from school because staying on track with a body-healthy diet takes up time and energy I don’t have to spare. Perhaps you are “Supermom” or “Superdad” and can do this, but this mom is realistic and knows where to pick her battles.  Kale smoothies and beet juices are not going to be one of them.  And thankfully the gym stays in my normal routine because it is the only place in town with a kid-friendly “parental reprieve” for stressed-out moms and dads.  So I know when the walls are crashing down at home I can always turn to my window of “free” time at my gym.

Now that the holidays are officially over I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to work my way back into cooking the foods I love because in a couple of days my kids will be back in a routine and life will calm down for a while.  One of my dear friends gave me a cookbook for my birthday.  Now I love a new cookbook, especially one that involves mind, body and soul.  It just makes me want to go home and start whipping up dish after dish.  This cookbook, entitled “Eat Yourself Calm,” by Gill Paul, teaches what foods are considered calming to the human body based on whatever ailment you may be suffering.  It explains what superfoods, minerals and vitamins are great to help with issues ranging anywhere from depression to headaches.  When I first got the book I flagged several recipes to try and tonight I cooked the lamb stew.  According to the cookbook (co-written with a nutritionist), the ingredients in this recipe are linked with easing depression, sleeplessness, headaches and low energy.  There are definitely a few of those I have experienced recently and on a rainy night, the stew sounded comforting.

The recipe called for lean lamb stew meat, lamb stock (which I used homemade beef broth), beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, shallots, bouquet garni, flour (which I swapped for brown rice flour), sea salt, black pepper and cherry tomatoes.  One thing you need to do when you cook stew meat, especially lamb, is to simmer it for a while on a low heat.  This is where the stock or broth came in because I used it to help tenderize the meat after browning it in the skillet for a few minutes. Although the recipe called for beans, I decided to omit them for the simple fact I did not have any at home.  I also swapped out the green beans for Brussels sprouts for the very same reason.  The lamb is supposed to aide in breathlessness, the sprouts handle concentration and forgetfulness and the tomatoes help relieve headaches.  I poured the finished product over some brown basmati rice and was really surprised how light the stew was, considering how thick and hearty it appeared to be in the end.  The brown rice I used is supposed to help with several factors, including low energy, mood swings, depression and even sleep problems.

img_1251

img_1248

I am excited to try out a few more recipes in this cookbook and to maybe gain a few ideas for making up my own meals to get myself back on track with a calm and healthy lifestyle (or at least aim for that most days!).  Whatever your resolution may be this year, I highly recommend buying a cookbook to help jump start your goals or to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.  And remember you can always change up ingredients in a recipe to make it fit your lifestyle, so don’t be scared to experiment!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017!

 

A Soup with No Name

Standard

img_0628

We all have that moment when we open our freezer, fridge or pantry and realize it is time to clean house.  Just like a closet, your food needs to be inspected and weeded out every six months or so.  It is good to check your expiration dates, move items around that need to be  cooked sooner and make a note of what you don’t need the next time you find yourself wandering the aisles of the grocery store.  And this means saying no to the “10 for 10” deal on items your local grocery is trying to clean off THEIR shelves.

For some reason today I found myself trying to come up with something for lunch and the only thing that sounded good was soup.  Fall just lends itself to soups, chilis, and stews to warm the belly when the temperature starts to fall outside.  Today was no exception, and I knew I needed to clean out the pantry.  Of course, I found a plethora of items that needed to be used before going bad.  So I pulled several out of the pantry and came up with an idea for soup as a way to use them up.  The great thing I love about making soups is you can throw just about anything together and make it taste good, so long as your ingredients are wholesome.

Today I had cannellini beans, dried porcini mushrooms, canned tomatoes, some frozen greens, a frozen bag of onions/peppers/celery, and some frozen “meatless” crumbles.  I was feeling an Italian inspiration coming on with this one, considering the tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans were from Italy.

img_0626

Basically, when you are making a soup from scratch you just cook each item in layers.  So I started with the onion blend and some good olive oil on a medium-high heat.  Once that was defrosted and sauteed a bit I added the meatless crumbles.  I let that cook up a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, beans and then the vegetable broth.  I had to let the dried mushrooms soak a bit in warm water before throwing in just a handful to the liquid.  My seasonings were an Italian blend, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  I used roughly a teaspoon of the blend, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and a pinch of the remaining two.  With soups, you need to let all the ingredients cook down a bit and simmer before adjusting your spices.  My last go-to spice I use, thanks to my Mom, is Beau Monde seasoning.  This is the best little gem to having in your cabinet, especially when it comes to soups and sauces.  I can’t tell you what it is, but it really can pull all your seasonings together in the end of the cooking process.  I use it all the time in my cooking.

With soups, you need to let all the ingredients cook down a bit and simmer before adjusting your spices.  My last go-to spice I use, thanks to my Mom, is Beau Monde seasoning.  This is the best little gem to having in your cabinet, especially when it comes to soups and sauces.  My mom used this all the time in her recipes and passed this little secret on to me.  A mixture made of salt, onion, and celery, can really pull all your seasonings together in the end of the cooking process.  I am currently trying to use up my current jar so I can find an all natural version.  The one I have used for years has a couple of hard-to-pronounce names in the ingredient list.  I tend to steer clear of those when grocery shopping.  I may try and make my own Beau Monde blend when I find the time!

For a soup with no name, it turned out pretty tasty and gave me a healthy lunch without spending a dime.  Now I have some leftovers to get me through the weekend rush of activities.  I am trying my best to stay healthy and true to myself and making soups from some great ingredients is a sure way to fill your belly while saving on excess calories and unhealthy fillers.

Now, the only thing to make it better is a good glass of wine…but that would be ringing Friday in a little too soon for this mom.  If I had the chance, I would open up a nice Italian Chianti or Montepulciano.  No need to worry about a specific year or vineyard.  I would just find something that fits your budget but gives you a great punch on the tongue with the robust earthiness typically found in your Italian reds.  At least that is what I often taste when presented with one, others may have a different viewpoint (which is perfectly fine in my wine-tasting opinion).

So I hope your next adventure in the kitchen whips up something tasty while cleaning out the shelves.

Until my next inspiration,

Cheers!

“Mylking” it for all its Worth

Standard

This morning I was recovering from a fun and festive Labor Day weekend, flipping through one of my newer cookbooks.  I wasn’t really looking for anything particular to cook or make, just wanted to relax for a few moments and enjoy the beautiful pictures of delicious-looking food.  The cookbook is called “Nourish:  The Fit Woman’s Cookbook” by Lorna Jane Clarkson.  Clarkson is an Australian native and has created a brand of women’s exercise clothing along with an inspiring health philosophy that involves empowering women to feel good from the inside out.  Her cookbook entwines the positive messages she shares with women, and men, all over the world.  You can check her out at MoveNourishBelieve.com, lornajane.com or look her up on Facebook and Instagram.  She has some great inspirational messages I like to save to my iPhone. Today I put my spiralizer away and pulled out my trusty Vitamix blender (these things are amazing, by the way).

Perhaps after the weekend of relaxing with heavier food than I normally eat and lots of yummy cocktails I was feeling “undernourished.”  I grabbed her book after pouring my coffee to see if anything stood out for me to try this week.  One thing I have wanted to do but have not taken the time to master is making my own nut milk.  And in Clarkson’s cookbook, there was a recipe for macadamia nut “mylk,” as she labels all non-dairy versions of the creamy liquid.  With that in mind, I put my spiralizer away (for a bit) and pulled out my trusty Vitamix blender (again, an amazing kitchen appliance).

Nut milk is all the rage now, especially as “clean eating” and dairy allergies have become more prominent for many people.  But sometimes they can be costly or have added ingredients for flavor and preservation (think sugar for the sweetened versions).  There is also coconut milk, but that has such a strong taste for the people in my house, including myself, I tend to stick to a nut milk in my own recipes.  For this particular recipe, all you will need is one cup of some sort of nut.  I decided to stick with macadamia nuts because I discovered last year that I have a sensitivity to almonds and cashews (my two favorites in the world).  But you could use any nut to make this particular recipe, such as almonds, cashews, and even pecans.

Take the macadamia nuts and soak them in three cups of distilled water at room temperature for three hours.  After they are finished soaking, pour everything into your blender and give it a whirl.  This is why I love my Vitamix because it takes mere seconds to completely pulverize anything.  I also added a touch of vanilla extract for a hint of flavor, but you could keep it simple and plain if vanilla isn’t your thing.  Clarkson suggested cinnamon and honey as other additives to make the milk a little tastier, I just haven’t tried these versions yet.

You will need a few glass jars because this recipe yielded about four cups.  The milk will keep for several days in your refrigerator.  You can add it to anything you would use regular cow’s milk in, especially smoothies, oatmeal and breakfast cereals.  If you are looking for another alternative to dairy, perhaps this homemade glass will be a good second fiddle to your normal routine.  My next attempt is to try and find a replacement for my beloved sour cream.   My research has turned up a couple of recipes using coconut cream, so I will let you know how that journey turns out!

Until next time, cheers!

 

fullsizerender

 

“Ringing” in Sweetness for Dinner

Standard


Tonight I was able to bust out my spiralizer again and have some fun with a Paleo-friendly food: the sweet potato.  This beautiful gem of nature provides the body good doses of vitamins and minerals while gently impacting blood sugar levels (compared to regular potatoes).  It made for an easy meal to prepare and cook-my mom even enjoyed it and she is not a big veggie eater.  I wouldn’t call this dish a pasta in the typical sense because the sauce I made for it was free of tomatoes and garlic, stuff you normally find in your typical Italian fare.  It was a brown “butter” sauce because this usually goes well with sweet veggies like sweet potatoes and squash.  The “butter” comes from ghee to keep it dairy-free and Paleo.  Just a few simple ingredients: sweet potatoes, organic Italian chicken sausage, fresh sage, ghee, salt and pepper.  

To start, my daughter helped me peel three large sweet potatoes to get them ready for my attachment.  If you don’t have a spiralizer, no worries here.  Just use your vegetable peeler and make ribbons instead of rings!  Same taste, just a different shape.  After the potatoes were prepped and ready, I sliced four chicken sausages and sauteéd them in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.  Once the sausage  was browned I took it out of the skillet and set it aside.  I then scooped about two large tablespoons of ghee and cooked it in the skillet over medium heat for about four or five minutes, then I threw in the fresh sage leaves and let them cook until slightly browned on the edges.  Add a dash of sea salt and cracked black pepper and there is your sauce!

I had to pre-cook the potatoes in some boiling water to soften it up a bit.  If you make ribbons, just toss them in the skillet with your brown “butter” sauce.  I think the next time I make this dish I will use a different blade on my spiralizer. The potato could have been a tad thinner. But practice makes perfect and mistakes can be masterpieces!  

Once all my ingredients were ready I tossed them all together then served in bowls.  I broke away from the true paleo rules and added fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Just omit if you are sensitive to dairy.  If you eat cheese from sheep you could throw in some grated Manchego.  For an extra boost of Omega 3’s you could also add some walnuts to your sauce (I think I will next time!). 

If you want a wine with this meal, I would stick with something light.  I am still enjoying my crisp white and rosé wines.  The heat outside steers me away from my beloved reds, so I always have some great whites on hand.  Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigios, Unoaked Chardonnays and any Rosé that is dry and full of summer fruit flavors (think anything from raspberries to watermelon).  These are no-brainier choices for me! And I usually stick within the $15 to $20 range so I don’t feel like I break the bank. So if you are trying to find some new ideas in the kitchen, try this spin on a healthy dish that will hopefully leave your tastebuds wanting more.  Sip, savor and enjoy!

Until next time, cheers!

Asian Fried Rice, without the Rice? How Paleo can reinvent the wheel.

Standard

IMG_9952

In my quest to continue cooking in the kitchen, I have been trying more and more recipes and personal “culinary” experimentations.  Something that keeps intriguing my taste buds is one of the latest trends in the health and nutrition industry, the Paleo diet.  I find numerous cookbooks, iPhone apps, and websites centered around this ideology.  I am always intrigued about new “diets.”  After reading the books about the Whole 30 program I wanted to dig deeper into the principles behind it.  To become “Paleo” means you eat foods lacking harmful additives and preservatives and have been minimally processed (close to the source).  Basically, you eat as our ancient hunter-gather ancestors ate (Fred Flinstone probably indulged in a few of Wilma’s Paleo dinners).  This diet includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, healthy oils and coconut derivatives.  The foods you avoid are all forms of dairy, grains (yes, even whole grain), legumes (think peanuts, beans, and peas), processed sugars and all foods containing additives of any kind.  So long and farewell to Hostess cupcakes and harmful food dyes.  So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame?  The reasoning behind eliminating these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.

So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame?  The reasoning behind cutting these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.

Digestive inflammation is a leading cause of certain health issues.  The problem is many people walking around today don’t even realize they suffer from inflammatory reactions due to dairy (lactose) or gluten.  Simply eliminating foods that contain inflammatory triggers can improve someone’s health in a matter of weeks.  It has also been touted to help some people with their weight loss journeys or improve the autoimmune problems of others.  Paleo has also been linked with aiding some people with their weight loss journeys.  Foods that can trigger inflammation in the body can also add on pounds despite the person calorie counting or exercising every day.  Some researchers go on to say Paleo diets can also help improve cardiovascular health, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and certain autoimmune problems.

Whatever your choice may be, if you decide to go Paleo you will need to clean out the pantry, fridge and freezer and re-stock with Paleo-friendly ingredients.  You may also find yourself doing some cooking and whipping up things like paleo mayonnaise (extremely simple and delicious) or cashew cream (which can be made sweet or savory).   Eggs are also another large staple in the Paleo diet, but individuals with an egg allergy have to get creative on certain recipes.  Other must-haves are good cooking oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or any other nut oil (no peanuts, please).  You will need to avoid things with soy or made with corn-based products (canola oil is a biggie), so be aware of what are in the condiments you keep in your fridge (think soy lecithin).  Just start label reading and you will get the hang of watching out for Paleo sabotagers.

If this all sounds too intimidating and time-consuming, there are more and more products coming out on the market geared towards a Paleo lifestyle.  Some items I use at home I found off Amazon or at my local health food store.  If you think this diet would be for you then I highly recommend browsing some good Paleo websites, cookbooks, and magazines.  Find a game-plan to make your major and minor switches in the kitchen easier.  Lifestyle changes are not always easy and these sources contain helpful tips and recipes.  One of my go-to apps on my phone is Nom Nom Paleo (nomnompaleo.com).  You can get step-by-step recipes ranging anywhere from desserts to main courses.

Tonight I made dinner from one of the recipes I thought looked tasty.  It is a new version of Asian “fried rice.”  How do you have fried rice without actually using rice?  The answer is cauliflower.  Put it through a food processor and your taste buds won’t miss this grain one bit.  Some grocery stores may even carry a packaged grated cauliflower that is easy to use in the recipe, which is what I ended up doing tonight.  Cauliflower plays a perfect second fiddle to its carbohydrate counterpart, just watch how long you cook it so the vegetable doesn’t become too mushy.  The meal tonight was new for my husband and I, but he was pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted!

The actual recipe, with pictures and step-by-step instructions, for Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice is posted below.

 

If you wonder what it is you can and can’t drink on a Paleo diet, the options are actually quite good.  Besides water, there are plenty of healthy drinks available, so long as you avoid those bad sugars forbidden by the Paleo Police.  As for alcohol, well there is hope in that area too.  Vodkas made without potatoes or grains are absolutely fine, as are red and white wines (they are made from grapes) and brandy (made from wine).  Avoid things that are made using grain products, such as scotch or beer.  I would drink a nice white wine, maybe a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough region of Australia with the fried rice recipe.  Something that would match the lightness of the meal.  You can eat, drink and be merry all while fueling your body with healthy alternatives.

I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t before, you might be surprised at how easy and tasty going Paleo can be for you.  As I continue to research and experiment with Paleo I hope to let you in on helpful tips or pass on other great eats to make your own journey a little bit tastier.

Until next time, cheers!

 

Summer Sips

Standard

After this winter, I am so ready for warm weather and sunshine.  One could say I am definitely over the winter blahs and blues!  Spring has finally arrived, which means summer is just over the horizon.   When I envision summer, I like to think about lounging by the pool on a lazy afternoon and sipping something cool, crisp and delicious.  So in this post I would like to pay homage to my favorite “Summer Sips.”

One thing I love about summer, besides the warm weather, is all the fresh fruits and herbs that make for fabulous mixers in my beverages.  Whether it is water, liquor or wine, I enjoy making my drinks as fresh and natural as possible.  I am not much on sweet tea or overly sweet alcoholic beverages; I guess my palate just lends to more clean flavors.  And using fresh ingredients, like fruits and herbs, helps cut back on calories and sugar.  So what, you may ask, is my go-to “Summer Sips?”

I am first and foremost a wine afficionado, but when I have to stray from my favorite glasses of vino, I love a good vodka.  And the time of year usually determines how I drink it.  Winter months may lend more to martinis and olives stuffed with blue cheese, but summer months call out for cool, crisp beverages with lots of fresh ingredients.

It is funny to notice that, as I have grown older and my taste has changed, I have also changed my preference of vodka.  Ten years ago, it would have been Absolute all the way, but nowadays I am in love with Grey Goose, no flavors please.  The beauty of having a vodka that isn’t flavored is you can create your own unique twists on drinks.  Here are just a few of my favorite things to mix with vodka:

Club soda:  This non-calorie, bubbly mixer is great to give your dink the needed fizz.  And it lends to any flavor you may be adding to your beverage.

Fresh fruits:  Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime slices are perfect things to fuse into a vodka beverage, and if you get organic, even better.  Pineapple or berries are other delicious, healthy items; simply mix and match to your heart’s desire.  If you get the frozen version, you can even use them as ice cubes.  What is great about all these fruits is the natural sugars that help mellow the sharpness you can get from vodka.  Last, but not least, is watermelon.  This fruit is so refreshing in a drink.  So I like to take half a watermelon, cube it up, then throw it in a blender.  Simply strain the pulp into a jar and you have fresh juice to add to your beverage.

Cucumber:  A favorite flavored vodka, if I am going to have one, is by Crop Vodka (http://www.cropvodka.com/home.php).  Their cucumber infused vodka is not only organic, but absolutely delicious with club soda, ice and maybe a slice or two of fresh cucumber.  By far one of the most refreshing beverages that makes a great pool-side drink for a hot summer afternoon.

Herbs:  Basil, mint and even cilantro are the perfect herbs to infuse in a vodka beverage.  You can gently bruise the leaves and let the natural essence absorb in your drink.  It just adds another layer of flavor.  Don’t feel you have to stick to these three, you can use any herb you like; it’s all about trial and error.

If you don’t care for vodka, you can add another light-bodied spirit that suits you better.  Light rum and clear tequila are other spirits that can be easily infused with any of the ingredients previously mentioned.  If you don’t drink alcohol, these fresh and healthy mixers are great with a glass of water or iced tea.  Or mix them with a sparkling water for something fizzy-it is definitely better for you than a sugary soda.

And now, because I am a wine-lover at heart, I always have some sort of favorite summer vino on hand, and this summer will be no exception.  A couple of months ago I attended a wine dinner where I so happily became aquainted with a lovely White Burgundy.  This wine was very light in body, but had that distinctive White Burgundy tartness which only comes from the soil of this particular region in France.  The best part about this wine was it only cost around $16 a bottle-a definite “bang for your buck” kind of vino.

Produced by Marie-Pierre Manciat, the label of this wine is Mâcon “Les Morizottes” from the Appellation Mâcon Protégée.  This wine received kudos from wine connoisseur Robert Parker, who gave it a 91 rating (http://www.bestwinesonline.com/blog/?p=731).  So even if you have do a little searching online or through a local wine merchant to purchase some bottles, the price alone for such an outstanding White Burgundy is worth the effort.

So there you have it, just a few of my favorite “Summer Sips” for 2014.  Light, refreshing and somewhat healthy drinks to keep you cool when the temperature starts to rise.

Until next time, cheers!