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Maple syrup on my salad? You betcha!

December 5th, 2013 No Comments

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The other night at a dinner party I was blown away by the salad they served.  Spinach never tasted so good! The reason, it tasted like waffles…with a side of bacon :)  And I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why.  When I asked the chef she spilled her secret: maple syrup!

This salad is sweet with a hint of savory.  Perfect to serve with chicken and butternut squash.  That’s what popped into my mind.  I’m sure you’ll find tons of other combos and additions to make it your own.  Guests will love it because it’s so unexpected and unique.

FALL SALAD WITH MAPLE CIDER DRESSING

Salad

  • Spinach
  • Chopped fuji apples
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Blue cheese
  • avocado
  • Candied walnuts

(I’m not a blue cheese fan so I opted out of that and the walnuts.  Honeslty, I didn’t miss them)

Maple Cider Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Chopped chives to taste
  • Garlic, salt, pepper to taste

 

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“Eat a banana, not a cookie.”

December 5th, 2013 No Comments

Banana Infographic

 

That’s what I tell myself when my sweet tooth starts to rage!  I keep Trader Joe’s flattened bananas in the car for that very reason.

(Click the image to enlarge.)

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New yogurt blends make for a more satisfying snack

November 21st, 2013 No Comments

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Yogurt frustrates me to no end.  The grocery store stocks TONS of it, yet there are only a few that actually meet my criteria as a “healthy” snack.  I’m looking for at least 14 grams of protein, minimal sugar (no sugar is preferable), and no additives (starches).  These criteria leave me reading labels for at least ten minutes or picking up the same old stuff when I’m in a hurry.  If I have time, I seek out new brands and get my hopes up high that when I read the nutrition label, I’ll see tons of protein and no added sugar.  Tough bill to fill.

My frustration continues after I eat a yogurt and I’m STILL hungry!

On so many levels yogurt is simply unsatisfying…until now.

Big brands and more notably local producers are making an effort to create well-rounded and satisfying yogurt cups for those of us on the go.

Chobani was the first one I spotted.  The divided dish has slightly sweetened yogurt in one side and all of my favorite additions in the other: chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. From a nutrition standpoint, I have to compromise the 13 grams of protein and added sugar for the energy it delivers before a workout.  After eating it with half a bottle of water, I feel full and not weighed down when I have to move.  And it’s SOOO convenient to just flip one side over and mix…while I’m driving.  (It’s true!)

The Epic Seed is local and meets all of my standards for protein and carbs.  It’s lacking in fat (which is necessary to feel full) so I’ll eat a few almonds along with it.

The most “filling” feature of these cups are the chia seeds, which I’ve discussed before.  There are several brands making them now, you just have to pay attention to the protein and sugar source.

When I can, I make the mixture at home.  No measuring, I just throw what I want into the bowl.  Usually, to a small cup of flavored yogurt, I’ll add a couple spoonfuls of plain non-fat to bring up the protein.

 

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6 ways to lighten your load for Thanksgiving

November 14th, 2013 No Comments

For those of you who host family and friends at your house, you must be getting stressed already.  So much to do!  As much as I’m sure you love it (I would), it doesn’t hurt to be efficient and take some of the angst out of the event.

Here are 5 suggestions to hopefully help lift some of the weight off your shoulders:

1.  DELEGATE THE DISHES

People are always asking what they can make or bring.  This year take them up on their offer.  Make a list so everyone brings one dish.  Be prepared to offer a recipe so they don’t feel intimidated by having to hunt for a credible one online.

Here is a list of links to healthy basic recipes I think you’ll love.  Also consider this Whole Wheat Dressing.  Click here to get my recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch.

2.  USE FRESH VEG

Substitue the calorie-killing baked dishes with salads or grilled veg.  People might actually find the greens refreshing combined with the heavier dishes.

Try these hearty salads you can make ahead of time.

3.  ORDER THE BEST PECAN PIES EVER

Even though I’m totally against bringing purchased food to holiday parties, I make an exception for Goode Company Pecan Pies.  Admittedly, they are better than mine.  One bite into it and people’s jaws will be dropping begging for the link to order for Christmas.  Order them NOW so you save on shipping.

4.  LIMIT YOUR PLATES, GLASSES, AND SILVERWARE

People are notorious for just grabbing plates and glasses like they’re disposable.  Inform guests there is one plate and glass per person, and they’re welcome to fill it up as many times as they’d like.  Stick to it!  For dessert, maybe you use nice paper plates.

Also, before the feast begins, make sure the dishwasher is completely empty so you can load it to the brim as people finish eating.

5.  EAT BREAKFAST

If you’re starving yourself to “save room” for the feast, let me fill you in on why that’s a bad idea.  First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism won’t be raring to go when it’s time to dig in.  If you’re hungry, you’ll snack while you wait or double down when you fill your plate. Finally, without a meal, your blood sugar will be low which means you’ll be cranky and irritable.  Thanksgiving is stressful enough without your body working against you.

6.  DO YOUR FLOWERS 2 DAYS AHEAD

When you buy fresh flowers, they need a couple days to open.  If you do them a couple days before the feast, you’ll get the task checked off your list and the arrangements will have time to come to life.

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“Tequila as smooth as George Clooney.” — Oprah

October 31st, 2013 No Comments

George Clooney and Rande Gerber Casamigos Tequila

Oprah doesn’t strike me as the tequila drinking kind, but you know I am.  I’ll tell you, she’s right!

Casamigos tequlia, “brought to you by those who drink it: George Clooney and Rande Gerber,” is remarkably, unbelievably smooth.  Now, I can’t attest for Clooney or his game, but considering his exes, it must be pretty seamless. Gerber’s been keeping Cindy Crawford happy since 1998, so he must have it going on too.

My friend Gary brought a bottle of Blanco to a BBQ the other night, and we were all seduced in one sip.  One shot led to a generous pour on the rocks…and possibly another.  When our crew met for coffee the next morning, no one was hung over.  So while Clooney’s girfriends might not feel the same way, he treated us right!

Do yourself a favor: Don’t make margaritas with Casamigos.  If you do…don’t tell me about it.

Buy it liquor stores or online here.

Follow the brand on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest.  They seem to be very active!

 

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Are you a big dipper?

October 17th, 2013 No Comments

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I love nothing more than throwing parties: for dinner, football, birthdays, swimming, or just because.

To kick off, I’ve found I really can’t go wrong with homemade chips and fresh veggies to snack on with an array of dips.  I can make make the dips a day ahead and don’t demand attention.

Here’s a list of my favorites.  You’ll find they’re easy to make and satisfying to mingling friends.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tomatoes diced with the seeds scooped out
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt, pepper, squeeze of fresh lime juice

Ranch Dressing

  • 2 cups non-fat greek yogurt
  • package of ranch seasoning (use sparingly to taste)

Pineapple salsa

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallion, green part only
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Ultimate Cheese Dip

  • 6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 4-6 jalapeno’s, chopped and deseeded.  The seeds will make it fiery hot.
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion
  • 1 cup of crushed crackers
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

Prehead oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except last 3 in a baking dish so your dip is about an inch thick. Combine last three ingredients and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 20-30 min until bubbling. (Recipe via Simply Gourmet)

White bean hummus

  • 1 can canneleni beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 4 TBSP
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed garlic
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

Pulse in a food processor until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Homemade Chips

  • Fresh tortillas (wheat, flour, corn, your choice)
  • Canola Oil
  • Paper towels
  • Sea salt

In a large skillet, heat about 1/2 in of oil until hot. Test by wetting your hand and dropping water into the oil.  If it pops, it’s ready.  Cut tortillas in quarters or in eights.  Gently place first batch in oil.  Wait for underside to brown and then flip.  Take one out, let it cool, and test to make sure it’s not chewy.  Remove chips and lay out on paper towels to cool.  Put int a bowl and sprinkle salt.  You have to watch the chips AT ALL TIMES.

 

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Best protein bars on the market. Both whey and vegan. Period.

October 11th, 2013 No Comments

Papa Steve's No Junk Protein Bar

 

 

Papa steve’s protein bars are about as clean and nutritious as it gets folks.  PLUS, they’re delicious AND filling.  Please note, I took the picture AFTER I devoured half of the bar :)

Papa Steve's nutrition facts

 

I sat down with Papa Steve a few weeks ago to discuss my Seedful Not Sinful granola.  The man blew my mind with his knowledge of food properties and how they work within they body.  He’s put all of that knowledge into his line of protein bars.  

He claims that Pea Protein is the best vegan protein out there.  You don’t see a lot of it because it’s new and in very high demand as it’s been deemed the best substitute for whey.  He had to buy tons worth to ensure he could continue to make these bars, which sell out almost instantly at his vendors.

In terms of protein in general, Steve is a fan of whey  because it is naturally complete, “containing all of the essential building blocks for muscle recovery and repair. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any protein, meaning it’s easy to digest and the body can metabolize and use it quickly but you must ingest it 10-30min after a workout to get maximum muscle uptake. It can help improve blood and liver cholesterol and enhances the body’s immune system.”

Read more of his thoughts on protein here.  He goes into great detail about the differences in whey proteins (concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate) and why whey is better than Soy Protein.

Papa Steve's Whey Protein v. Soy Protein Chart

He has several other bars I think you’ll love.  Browse the selection here.

I really can’t praise this product enough.  If you’re like me and insist on eating clean, you MUST try this.

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Easy and delicious DIY BBQ sauce + Vitamix Giveaway

October 3rd, 2013 No Comments

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Coming from a Texan, the “delicious” title is an honor for this recipe ;)

I am actually shocked at how rich the flavor is.  You’ll understand why in a second.

Kitty, my BFF from college, just turned Paleo for health reasons so she has to make a lot of condiments herself: ketchup, mayo, etc. She found this BBQ sauce recipe on one of her go-to blogs HomemadeByMommy where Lindsey “makes real food in a fake food world” AND works in the corporate world.  On top of healthy recipes, Lindsey does a monthly giveaway. In October, you can enter to win a Vitamix!  

Back to the sauce.  The ingredients are nothing fancy. All blended in a Vitamix. It came out smooth, smokey, and as I said, surprisingly delicious. Use with ribs or chicken. It will be a staple at my parties when I can’t get my hands on Goode Company sauce.

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  • 4 soft, fresh medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper, or to taste (or cayenne)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional addition: 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ cup gluten-free, low-sodium tamari

Instructions:

Cover the dates with 1 cup of warm water to soak for at least 10 minutes.
While the ribs are parboiling, make the barbecue sauce.
Transfer the dates to a food processor, reserving the soak water.* Pulse briefly to break them up. Add ¾ cup of the soak water and process until a paste begins to form, scraping down the sides frequently. Add the tomato paste, mustard, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and spices through cinnamon and pulse a few times to combine. Scrape down the sides and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. If you like horseradish, stir in a tablespoon. Set aside for the flavors to meld.
Coat meat and save some for dipping!
Yield: 4 servings plus about ¾ cup extra BBQ sauce

 

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