Eat Your Greens!

We all know that leafy greens are inherently good for us, but that daily kale salad can get old quick. Rather than forcing yourself to get in your greens, try switching it up! There are several varieties of greens -  everything from kale, to spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, you name it! And they all offer a multitude of health benefits, so its time to eat up!

Health Benefits of Greens

1. Kale

It's an excellent source of vitamins A C, and K, has a good amount of calcium for a vegetable, and also supplies folate and potassium.

Try it in a salad, a smoothie, or bake them into kale chips!

2. Collard Greens

With a hearty, chewy texture and a cabbage-like taste, collards have a very similar health profile to kale. In addition, collard greens contain caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. These key antioxidant phytonutrients provided by collard greens help lower our cancer risk by helping us avoid chronic and unwanted oxidative stress.

Try using collard greens as a low-carb wrap alternative!

3. Spinach

Packed with vitamins A and C, as well as folate spinach is packed with nutrients! Fun fact: cooked spinach actually gives you more nutrition than raw due to the heat reducing the green's oxalate content, freeing up its dietary calcium.

Try it in smoothies, soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles.

4. Mustard Greens

A single cup of mustard greens provides 524% the DV of vitamin K, 177% the DV of vitamin A and 59% the DV of vitamin C. They are also a good source of manganese, folate and vitamin E. They help reduce cholesterol levels, support the detox and inflammation systems in the body and offer good amounts of folate. Folate is a critical B-vitamin that helps prevent homocysteine build up, a contributing factor in heart disease. They have a peppery taste and give off a mustardy smell during cooking. Their spiciness can be toned down by adding an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice.

Try them in a hearty stew or this sautee of beans and greens.

In addition to these recipes, you may want to check out this guide on how to cook, choose, and store your greens!

Healthy Superbowl Recipes

As most of you probably know, this weekend is Superbowl Weekend! An afternoon spent watching TV, enjoying a football game (and/or the commercials) and indulging in some not-so-good-for-you snacks. The typical game day spread consists of things like wings, pizza, chips, and dips etc. And while there's nothing wrong with a nice, lazy Sunday, you may not want to combine the lack of activity with a bunch of unhealthy food. It's still barely February, we can't give up on our New Year's resolutions now! ;) So to help you out, we have compiled a list of healthy game day recipes that we think everyone will enjoy!

Healthy Game Day Recipes

(Click the titles for links to each recipe)

Baked Chips 

Cheers to a good game and good (for you) food!

 

Cold Press Vs. Home Juicers

Most of you probably know that here at Peel'd we cold-press our juice, but what does that mean? And why do we do it? Let's begin by comparing the methods of juicing between a cold-pressed juicer and a centrifugal juicer, like the one you likely to have on your kitchen counter right now.

Centrifugal Juicers

These juicers are the juicers most consumers have in their home. They're easily attainable and inexpensive, making them more common than their cold-pressed counterparts. These juicers use a fast-spinning metal blade that spins against a mesh filter, separating the juice from the pulp using centrifugal force, hence the name. 

Cold-Pressed Juicers

In comparison, cold-pressed juicers are much more expensive and time consuming than their centrifugal counterparts. Rather than using a blade, cold-pressed juicers crush and press fresh produce in order to extract juice. 

So why do we cold-press?

If cold-pressing is so much more expensive and time consuming, why would we choose that over a typical home juicer? The answer lies in the quality of the product. The fast-spinning metal blade in centrifugal juicers produce heat, in turn destroying some of the vital enzymes and oxidizing the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables you just juiced.  This kind of juice immediately begins to break down and “die”, meaning it needs to be consumed in 30 minutes or less after it’s produced. 

Comparatively, cold-pressing results in less oxidation, leaving the enzymes and nutrients live for 3-5 days. In addition, cold-pressing results in much larger yields of juice (vs wasted nutritious pulp left behind with a centrifugal juicer), produces less "bits", and they can more easily juice leafy greens

For these reasons, it is easy to see why cold-pressing is superior to centrifugal BUT it is important to note that home juicers still have their benefits. They may not be able to extract as many nutrients as cold pressing, but it is still better than not juicing at all! In our eyes, all juicing is good juicing and your body will still thank you for the added nutrients :)

Preventing Acid Reflux with Diet

We've probably all had heartburn at some point in our lives, but for many this is just a symptom of a larger issue - acid reflux. When you have acid reflux, the acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as the burning chest pain that we know as heartburn, regurgitation and a sour taste in your mouth, bloating, burping, sore throat, and even ulcers in extreme cases.  

Many doctors often prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms, but acid reflux can occur for many reasons.

Causes for Acid Reflux

  • Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist
  • Snacking close to bedtime
  • Eating certain foods, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods
  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
  • Smoking
  • Being pregnant
  • Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications

Rather than relying on medication, discontinuing some of the practices listed above would be much easier AND healthier solutions. Perhaps the easiest fix for acid reflux can be made by revamping your diet.

Foods that Cause Acid Reflux

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges or lemons
  • Coffee or tea (regular or decaffeinated)
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Foods containing tomato, such as spaghetti sauce, salsa, or pizza
  • Garlic and onions
  • Mint

Foods that Fight Acid Reflux

  • Pears, bananas, melons
  • Weak herbal teas
  • Oatmeal & whole grain breads
  • Leafy greens & other green veggies
  • Potatoes, rice, couscous
  • Lean poultry, meats, and fish
  • Fennel, ginger, kefir, aloe, and parsley

These foods are naturally low in acid and work wonders to help soothe your discomfort by neutralizing the acid in other foods. In addition to these foods, you may also want to consider having smaller, more frequent meals, as well as leaving 2-3 hours between eating your last meal and going to bed.

These simple changes in diet are not only good healthy habits, but they will leave your tummy feeling much happier, making for a happier and healthier YOU! 

Immune-Boosting Soup!

It's that time of year again - cold and flu season. Whether you've already been sick this season or you're just trying to avoid it, a healthy diet is a great place to start! My personal favorite thing to eat when I'm sick, is soup. Warm and soothing, this soup in particular is also chock full of veggies that will give you an extra immunity boost! More so than any canned soup claims to do ;)

Mushrooms– the soup is made in a mushroom broth; a power food that contains Ergothioneine, an antioxidant that helps to eliminate free radicals. They’re also a powerful source of Vitamin D.

Coconut Oil – contains two important anti-viral compounds, lauric acid and caprylic acid. Together these help ward off bacterial and viral infections.

Garlic – eating garlic can actually boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream. It also contains alliin which converts to allicin, which is believed to be the major antibacterial compound in garlic.

Turmeric – probably best known for its ability to fight inflammation, turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin which is responsible for this decrease in inflammation that is oftentimes found to be related to various illnesses.

Bok Choy – it is very high in Vitamin A, which is essential for a properly functioning immune system, while also containing high amounts of vitamin C, an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.

Kale – packed full of iron, which is essential for your body working at its ultimate level, along with being a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. 

Immunity Soup

Original recipe from The Healthy Haven

Ingredients

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 lb shitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 heads baby bok choy, bottoms chopped off
  • 1/2 head kale, chopped
  • optional: 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Instructions

  1. Chop off the bottom of the stem from your mushrooms and discard. Seperate stems from tops and slice tops and remaining stem if necessary, into large pieces. You will only discard the very bottom of the stems, not the full stems as they contain many nutritional benefits!
  2. Heat up coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Add in garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Add in celery and mushrooms and sautee for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have wilted.
  6. Add in spices (including ginger, if using) and water and bring to a boil.
  7. Then let simmer, covered for 1 hour or as long as you want (the longer you leave, the better!)
  8. Add bok choy and kale in the last 10 minutes of cooking to wilt.
  9. Serve warm or store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

 

 

Sweet Potato Toast

Whether you're gluten free or just a lover of sweet potatoes, this new trend that has been popping up all over social media may be for you! It's called "sweet potato toast" and it's exactly what it sounds like. Rather than toasting up a slice of bread, people have been slicing up sweet potatoes and throwing them in the toaster instead! 

IMG_2239.JPG

But how is it? It's actually pretty good! It takes a bit longer than normal toast, but worth it in my opinion. Plus, sweet potatoes inherently have much more nutrition than sliced bread. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, B5, B6, niacin, riboflavin, and carotenoids. They're also fat free, low in sodium, and full of slow digesting carbohydrates that keep you feeling fuller longer. Not to mention, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, hence the name, so they can help kill sugar cravings as well!

Sweet Potato Toast

Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes (the wider, the better. More toppings!)
  • Toppings of your choice

How to

  1. Slice sweet potato lengthwise, about 1/4 of an inch thick
  2. Turn toaster up as high as it goes and toast. Once it pops, flip the sweet potato and toast once more. They should come out soft and slightly charred.
  3. Top with whatever your heart desires! Here we have avocado + tomatoes & sea salt, dark chocolate + sea salt, peanut butter + bananas & chocolate chips, and peanut butter + pumpkin seeds & pretzels.

It's National Peanut Butter Lover's Month!

Did you know that November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month? Well now you do!

Peanut butter often gets a bad rap for being high is fat, but it's actually incredibly good for you! Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats, the kind of fats that are GOOD for your heart. Several studies suggest that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, like those provided by peanuts and peanut butter, may decrease cardiovascular disease by up to 21%!

Peanuts are also a great source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein, manganese, and several antioxidants. All of these combined, make peanut butter a great snack that can not only improve heart health, but reduce your risk for a stroke or colon cancer, prevent gallstones, protect against age-related cognitive decline (such as Alzheimers) and even potentially aid in weight loss! So what are you waiting for? Get snackin' ;)

Peanut Butter Snacks

  • "Ants on a Log"
  • Spread on an apple
  • Add to a smoothie
  • On top of pancakes, toast, oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • No-bake granola bars, like these

Choosing the Right Peanut Butter

It should be noted however that not all peanut butter is created equal! Most commercial brands have added sugars and oils in their peanut butter. While this isn't inherently bad, it's certainly not necessary either! The same goes for "low fat" peanut butter; it's often full of other fillers and not any better for you than the regular stuff. Remember, the fat in peanut butter is good for you!

So what should you look for? When choosing a healthy peanut butter, look at the ingredients. There should only be ONE (or two) ingredients: roasted peanuts. That's it! You can also choose varieties with added salt if you prefer, but there shouldn't be oils or added sugar.

Another option is to get the peanut butter you can grind in-store, or my personal favorite, make some yourself!

The Easiest Homemade Peanut Butter Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups (16 ounces) raw, shelled peanuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Roast the peanuts (optional): Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes. You can skip this step if you prefer raw nut butter or if you're using pre-toasted nuts.
  2. Pulse the peanuts until ground: Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or blender. If you toasted your nuts, do this while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped.

    → For chunky peanut butter, remove 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.
     
  3. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. At this point, the peanut butter will look gritty and dry, almost like couscous.
  4. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will start clumping together. It's not quite peanut butter, but it's getting there!
  5. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.
  6. Process for 1 to 2 additional minutes: Continue processing the butter until it becomes completely smooth. Homemade peanut butter will still be a little more gritty than Skippy peanut butter, but should be spreadable at this point. Taste and add salt or other add-ins to taste. If you reserved some nuts for chunky peanut butter add them now and pulse a few times to incorporate.

Other Nut Butters

Of course, not everyone can have peanut butter, but there's no need to fret! Other nuts and nut butters are incredibly healthy as well. Almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, even sun flower butter for those who can't have nuts at all, are all great alternatives to peanut butter. It may not be as big of a selection, but most supermarkets will carry at least some of these nut butters, so keep your eyes Peel'd ;) When in doubt, you can always make some at home! The process is very similar to the recipe above, just with different nuts. So get out there and explore the wide variety of nuts and seeds available! And don't be afraid of healthy fats, your heart will thank you <3

~Mandy

 

 

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Cookies are easily one of my favorite desserts, and with it being pumpkin season, making pumpkin cookies were a no-brainer! These cookies are a healthier alternative to regular chocolate chip cookies thanks to the additional fiber and vitamins in pumpkin puree. Not to mention, they are vegan, only about 100 calories each, and incredibly easy to make! That's the recipe for a perfect dessert if you ask me ;)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Makes 1 dozen cookies. Original recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking

Makes 1 dozen cookies. Original recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey etc. no honey if strictly vegan)
  • 3 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir in your sweetener of choice. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Drop the cookie dough into 12 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly, and press the remaining chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough. Bake at 325°F for 15-17 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

4 Homemade Halloween Candies

If you're still wanting to enjoy candy for Halloween, but want to cut back on the processed foods, these recipes are for you! They may not necessarily be considered "healthy" (it's still candy after all), but they are significantly less processed than the versions you would find in the store. Just make sure to eat them in moderation, as hard as they may be to resist ;)


Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16 oz jar natural peanut butter

Directions

  • In a medium pot, combine all ingredients except the peanut butter. Whisk thoroughly over low heat until the chocolate is smooth.
  • Using either an oiled silicone mini muffin pan OR foil cupcake papers in a regular muffin pan, fill the wells 1/3 of the way up with chocolate. Freeze these for 15 minutes.
  • Remove them from freezer and add another 1/3 using peanut butter. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  • Remove them from freezer and add the last 1/3 with more chocolate. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Note: Store in freezer. These get melty pretty quickly, so if you want to serve them but don’t want them frozen, put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes, then serve. These are very good straight out of the freezer.


Gummies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fruit and/or vegetable juice
  • 4 tablespoons Gelatin 
  • 2-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Pour juice into a small-medium saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let sit for just a few minutes until it starts to “bloom” (it will get wrinkly looking on the surface and all of the white powder from the gelatin will absorb into the liquid). When all the gelatin is absorbed, mix it well.
  2. Then place the saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Let the liquid warm, but don’t let it boil. You want all of the gelatin to dissolve and turn thin and runny (it will be grainy at the beginning but after a couple of minutes in the heat it should dissolve completely).
  3. Add the honey and vanilla.
  4. Put the liquid in a little jar (I use my measuring cup) into a Loaf Pan or your fun gummy molds and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. 
  5. Remove from molds. Keep your homemade healthy gummies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. If you leave them outside they will last but I recommend storing them in the refrigerator.

Almond Joy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (90 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 (or more) whole almonds
  • 4 ounces (110 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. In a food processor, process the shredded coconut, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until it forms a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Test the coconut to see if it holds together by squeezing it in your palm. If the coconut is still too loose, continue to process for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Drop the coconut mixture by the tablespoon onto a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper. Form each ball into a small rectangle by pressing it into formation. Press an almond on top of the coconut rectangles. Freeze the coconut for 15-30 minutes, or until solid.
  3. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between each increment until the chocolate is smooth. Skewer each frozen candy bar onto a toothpick and dip into the melted chocolate, tapping off any excess chocolate. Wait for the chocolate to dry before removing from the toothpick.
  4. Serve immediately or store at room temperature for several days (if they last that long).

Snickers Candy Bar

Ingredients

  • For the nougat:
  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • For the caramel filling:
  • 12 soft Medjool dates, pitted (about ¾ cup packed)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • scant ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts, or other nuts/seeds of choice
  • For the dark chocolate coating:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To create the nougat layer, combine the almond butter, coconut flour and maple syrup in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Press the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and use your hands to create a uniform rectangle shape that is about ½-inch thick. Place in the freezer to set.
  2. To prepare the caramel filling, combine the pitted dates, salt, vanilla, and coconut oil, and and water in a high-speed blender, and blend until completely smooth and creamy. You may need to stop and scrape down the blender a couple of times to make sure the caramel is blended uniformly. Be sure to taste the caramel and adjust the flavor or texture, as necessary.
  3. Remove the nougat layer from the freezer and spread half of the caramel filling evenly over the top, using a spatula to smooth.
  4. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of chopped peanuts, or other nuts, over the top of the caramel layer, and use your hands to gently press the chopped nuts into the caramel filling. Place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes.
  5. For the chocolate coating, combine the dark chocolate chunks and coconut oil in a heat-safe bowl and melt in the oven, or microwave, until completely smooth and melted.
  6. Remove the candy bars from the freezer, and slice into 6 full-size bars. Slice these full-size bars in half, to create a "fun size" version, if you prefer.
  7. Use a spoon to spread the melted dark chocolate over the tops and sides of each bar, then pick them up to coat the bottom, as well. Return the chocolate-coated bars to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow to set in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before serving. The longer the bars set in the freezer, the firmer they get!
  8. Due to the nature of this recipe, these bars will melt quickly if left at room temperature. Serve directly from the freezer for best results!

Vegan Protein Sources

Often times, the first question people ask when they hear that someone is vegan or vegetarian is "where do you get your protein?" When in fact, getting an adequate amount of protein on a meat-free diet is actually quite easy, assuming you are also consuming an adequate amount of calories as well. 

Before we get into the sources of protein on a vegan diet, it should also be noted that it is not always necessary to combine specific foods in order to create a "complete protein". There are actually several complete sources of plant-based proteins that we can eat. In addition, our bodies can create complete proteins as long as we consume a variety of higher protein foods throughout the day. You don't always have to eat beans with your rice ;)

1. Beans & Legumes

Speaking of beans, they are a great source of both protein and fiber! The typical 1/2 cup serving provides 7 grams of protein on average, for just about 100 calories. You can choose from black beans, kidney beans, lentils, soy beans (edamame), chickpeas, the list goes on! And you don't have to have them as is. Grind chickpeas into hummus for a high-protein dip, make your own veggie burgers, or even try using beans in a dessert, like these black bean brownies. Yum!

2. Grains

Quinoa, oatmeal, wild rice, buckwheat etc. One cup of these cooked grains provides a whopping 8 grams of protein! Not to mention, many whole grain breads (specifically sprouted) are incredibly high in protein as well. A simple breakfast consisting of two slices of toast with a peanut butter and a banana could easily be clocking in at 16+ grams of protein. It doesn't have to be complicated!

3. Nuts & Seeds

Speaking of peanut butter, although technically a legume, the peanut's cousins are also quite high in protein. Almonds, cashews, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. all make great snacks and spreads. They are also easily added to salads for some extra crunch and a protein boost! Just a few tablespoons of these babies can add anywhere from 7-13 grams of protein. 

4. Vegetables

You wouldn't think of vegetables as being high in protein, but they actually are! Especially the green ones ;) Just a single cup of broccoli, spinach or brussel sprouts contain 5 grams of protein. 

5. Other

Aside from the foods mentioned above, there are also vegan-friendly "substitutes" that are high in protein as well. Less processed choices include tofu, tempeh and seitan which tend to have a "meaty" consistency but are made from things like wheat gluten and soy. They can have anywhere from 20-30 grams of protein per cup. There are also vegan protein powders that can help you reach your protein goals quite easily, containing about 15-20 grams of protein per scoop depending on the brand.

And finally, as veganism becomes more popular, there are also packaged meat substitutes that tend to have a decent amount of protein as well. While we prefer to advocate consuming more whole foods, there is nothing wrong with choosing these foods on occasion and they can certainly help curb cravings as well. 


Example Diet

This is just an example. The RDA recommends 0.8g of protein per kg body weight.  So someone weighing 130 lbs would need to consume approximately 50 grams of protein per day.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with tbs peanut butter and a small banana

Lunch: Salad with mixed greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and kidney beans

Dinner: Baked sweet potato with lentils and roasted veggies

Dessert: Black bean brownie

Total: Approx. 1,700 calories and 71 grams of protein

One Pot Zucchini Pasta

One pot meals are easily my favorite kinds of meals to make! Not only does it mean less clean up, but because everything cooks together in one pot, they tend to have an amazing flavor. This recipe for one pot zucchini pasta gets its flavor from the fresh summer produce that will only be in season for a short while longer. So if you want to make this dish, you better get on it ;) 

This dish is also gluten free & light thanks to the zucchini "noodles" instead of traditional pasta. I personally like to serve this along side some crusty bread and maybe some grilled shrimp for a little extra protein, but it is also incredible on its own. Hope you enjoy!

ONE POT ZUCCHINI PASTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds zucchini (approx. 4-5 large zucchini), spiralized
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red onion (or two small), thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • shredded parmesan for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Start by warming the olive oil in a large pot over low to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Next add the zucchini noodles to the pot and season them with salt & pepper. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes to the pot and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so. I prefer to use tongs to toss the noodles so that they cook evenly and I also like them a little firm. You can taste test a piece of zucchini noodle at this point to see if it’s soft enough for your liking. If not, continue to cook for another couple of minutes.

Lastly, add the fresh basil, crushed red pepper (if using), and parmesan cheese (optional) to the pot then stir together. Divide the pasta onto separate plates and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm and enjoy!

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The zucchini will produce a little bit of water as it sits but you can just pour it out before reheating.

Recipe courtesy of Making Thyme for Health

Things to do with Pumpkin

It's October, and pumpkin season is officially upon us. But more than pumpkin pie and your beloved pumpkin spice latte, there are so many things you can do with pumpkin! Not to mention, they pack a nutritional punch!

"Consuming just one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 20% of the daily value for vitamin C, 10% or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese at least 5% for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus."

These vitamins found in pumpkin could potentially help with blood pressure, preventing certain kinds of cancer (namely colon and prostate cancer), improve eye health, infertility, and general immunity. 

Even your pets can benefit from a bit of pumpkin! The extra fiber has been proven to benefit dogs' and cats' digestive tracts.

But how can you incorporate the health benefits of pumpkin into your diet? The easiest way I have found is to replace some of the fats and oil with pumpkin puree in baked goods!

  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup oil = 1 cup pumpkin
  •  1 cup butter = 3/4 cup pumpkin 

Recipes

There are also some delicious (and healthy) recipes using pumpkin puree! Click the links below to find the original recipes.

For breakfast

Beauty

Aside from eating pumpkin, your skin can also benefit via face masks and body scrubs!

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to incorporate the many health benefits of pumpkin into your diet. So stock up! Pumpkin season won't last forever ;)

~Mandy

Honey Siracha Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Trying to eat healthy can be hard if you get bored of having the same foods all the time. Let's face it, there's nothing exciting about having chicken breasts and steamed green beans everyday. But I am here to offer you a solution! We're going to get a little creative while still making sure to include lean protein, veggies, and whole grains in this meal. Say goodbye to chicken and broccoli and "hello" to honey-siracha glazed meatballs!

This recipe is not only "clean" as far as ingredients go, but it is also high in protein, low in fat AND a great way to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables ;)

You see the rice these beautiful meatballs are served on? That's actually half cauliflower! Just chop up about 1/2-1 cup of cauliflower into small pieces, and let it steam on top of your rice during the second half of cooking. It's that simple! It adds an extra dose of veggies for those picky eaters AND volume to help fill you up. Now on to those meatballs...

Honey Siracha Glazed Meatballs

Served with steamed broccoli & over Cauli-rice (described above). Serves 2. 

Ingredients

  • 1 package (28g) Siracha Enlightened Crisps*
  • 2 tbs (24g) egg whites
  • 8 oz (224) extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp (7g) honey
  • 2 tsp (8g) siracha
  • 2 tbs (30ml) soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a small baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside as you make your meatballs.
  2. For the Meatballs: Crush Enlightened crisps until fine.* Combine with egg whites and ground turkey, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Form into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  3. To make the glaze: In a small dish combine remaining ingredients. Microwave for approximately 15-20 seconds, or until honey melts. Stir until combined and drizzle over meatballs.
  4. Serve over rice or noodles, drizzling remaining glaze over top.

*I used a magic bullet to get the crisps to the right consistency, but I'm sure a food processor, blender, or even crushing them in a plastic bag would work as well.

*As an alternative, you can use breadcrumbs (about 1/3-1/2 cup) instead of the Enlightened crisps. Make sure to season though! The crisps are very flavorful, so without them you will want to at least use some salt & pepper.


If you’d like to buy Enlightened crisps (they sell ice cream too), I’ve recently started seeing them pop up in my local grocery stores, Walmart, Sprouts etc. You can also use their online store locator here OR you can order directly from their site using the discount code “MiniBeast20” for 20% off :)

~Mandy

Let's Talk Cereal | What to Look for in a Healthy Cereal

With summer coming to an end and school getting back in session, more of us are rushing out the door early in the morning. Often times this means either skipping breakfast entirely or having something quick, like cereal. Of course there are other options such as meal prepping some healthy things to eat on the road, or waking up earlier for a full meal, but let's face it, most of us don't have the time. So today I'd like to talk about cereal. 

Most of us have grown up eating cereal (my personal favorite is cinnamon toast crunch) and many of us still eat it today. But by no means are our favorite kids cereals considered healthy. Most of them are highly processed and full of added sugars. But that doesn't mean we have to give up cereals completely! Following these few simple guidelines, you can find a healthy cereal that not only feeds you, but fuels you for the day.

Cereal Guidelines

  1. Limit sugar to less than 5 grams per serving
  2. Look for 100% whole grains as the first ingredient
  3. The shorter ingredient lists the better!
  4. Watch for serving sizes
  5. Try to get at least 3 grams of fiber (preferably from the grains, not added fiber)

Following these simple guidelines should help you find a cereal that is not only quick and easy, but will also keep you going all day without worrying about crashing blood sugar levels or being hungry 15 minutes later ;)

Cereals that Made the Cut

  • Puffed 100% Whole Grain Cereals, like the ones by Arrowhead Mills
    • completely unsweetened, the only ingredient is the grain
  • Original Cheerios 
  • Original Puffins
  • Kix
  • Total
  • Wheaties
  • Uncle Sam Original

Single Serving Recipes - Sweet & Savory!

I don't know about you, but my personal belief is that living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. You don't have to eliminate all of your favorite "junk" foods to be healthy or lose weight! Enjoying them in moderation is key. Which is why I have compiled a few single serving recipes of typical comfort foods we often crave. Hopefully by trying some of these recipes, you can satisfy that craving you've been having and get back to some more wholesome fruits and veggies ;) 

Keep in mind: these recipes aren't necessarily meant to be "healthy," instead they are made in smaller portions to enjoy as an occasional treat.


Single Serving Savory Recipes

Mac & Cheese

  • 2 oz (about 3/4 cup) uncooked whole wheat macaroni or other pasta 
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup lightly packed) shredded gouda cheese
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or more depending on heat preference
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth & thickened, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and gouda; whisk until melted and smooth. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  4. Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce and spoon into an individual oven-proof bowl or dish.
  5. Toss panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, and a tiny pinch of Kosher salt together in a small bowl; scatter evenly over the top of the pasta.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumb topping is crisp and golden.

Pizza Dough (Free to top as you desire!)

  • ½ cup bread flour
  • ¼ cup warm tap water (minus 1 TBS)
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp bread machine or rapid rise yeast
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • Salt *see note
  1. Turn your oven on for a few minutes then turn it off -this is the warm (but not hot) place you will keep your dough to rise.
  2. Add the flour, yeast, oil and sugar to a heat safe bowl. Get warm tap water or warm some in the microwave. You want it to be about the temperature you would feel safe giving to a baby! Add half of the water to the mixture and stir. It should start to combine. Continue to slowly add the water and continue to mix until it comes together. You will most likely not need the whole ¼ cup of water. *See note on salt now.
  3. Put a little bit of flour on your counter and work/knead your dough so that it forms a good dough ball. You may need more flour or more water to get the consistency just right.
  4. Place the ball back into the heat safe bowl you mixed it in. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap so that air will not dry out the ball but it won't restrict the ball from rising. Place the bowl in warmed oven for about 30 minutes.
  5. Once dough has doubled in size, it is ready for use.

*Note: It is important to remember that salt deactivates yeast, but is an important flavor component in bread. Since this is such a small amount of dough, there is no good measurement. Put a little salt in the palm of your hand and sprinkle it into the mixture once the yeast has been mixed a bit.


Single Serving Sweet Recipes

Chocolate Brownie (in a mug!)

  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp  cocoa 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Tiny pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil or vegetable oil (NOT extra virgin olive oil, it's too strongly flavored)
  • 1 to 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 small scoop of ice cream or 1 or 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream to serve
  1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon in a microwave safe ceramic mug. Stir with a fork or spoon to mix well and break up any clumps.
  2. Add the oil, water, and vanilla to the cup and stir until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
  3. Place in microwave and heat on high until the mixture is cooked through, about a 1 minute and 40 seconds for a 1000 watt microwave. You may have to experiment and adjust the time for less or more powerful microwaves. If you don't know the power level on your microwave, start with 60 seconds and increase until the brownie is done. It should still be moist when cooked through, not dry.
  4. Let cool for a minute and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a teaspoon or two of whipping cream poured over.

Berry Cobbler

  • ½ cup berries or fruit of choice
  • 2 tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, slightly packed
  • 1½ tbsp softened butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • a couple drops of vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place berries/fruit In a ramekin or other small baking dish
  3. In a separate bowl, Mix all other ingredients....oatmeal, flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Use your hand or a fork to make sure all ingredients are incorporated well.
  4. Sprinkle oatmeal mixture evenly over berries/fruit.
  5. Place ramekin on a baking dish (just in case it boils over a little bit) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until topping is beginning to lightly brown.

Give these recipes a try and enjoy yourself a little! Living a healthy lifestyle is not about JUST eating whole foods; we all deserve a treat sometimes. 

~Mandy