Tag Archives: clean eating

Red, White, and…Green!

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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!

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Back in the Saddle Again

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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.

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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!

 

“Mylking” it for all its Worth

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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!

 

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