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Pasta with ZERO guilt

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Pasta with ZERO guilt

avocado-zuccasta-words.jpg

There is a laundry list of reasons why pasta is not on my dinner plate these days (low nutrient value, contains gluten, inflammatory, high glycemic load, etc). I follow an anti inflammatory diet plan so for me pasta just doesn’t work well for my body. If I eat gluten I immediately feel my joints swell and ache so its just not worth it. I had written off pasta a long time ago until this happened…

I made a vegan creamy sauce from avocados, basil, garlic, olive oil, and lemon and tossed it with zucchini noodles aka zuccasta! Crazy right??? This sauce is so creamy and satisfying you wont even notice that its made from veggies and totally vegan! I pair this with a nice side salad with some of the extra sauce mixed with coconut aminos as a dressing, top it with pumpkin seeds and sliced strawberry and BLAMO, low inflammatory, vegan, deliciousness in under 30 minutes.

How do you make zuccasta you ask? Well, you will need some special equipment to make this but trust me this will be the best $35 you have ever spent (well at least for a kitchen utensil). I use the paderno slicer because its way better than any of the other brands out there, trust me on this one.

Lemon Basil Avocado Zuccasta

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, pit removed cut into small pieces
  • 15 basil leaves chopped into ribbons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic clove finely minced
  • 2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5-10 turns of black pepper or to taste
  • 2-4 Zucchinis (see notes)

Optional

  1. 1/2 cup grape tomatoes halved for garnic
  2. lemon zest for garnish

Equipment

  1. Veggie Spiralizer

Instructions

  1. In a blender add the avocado, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, and blend until smooth adding more olive oil to thin if needed.
  2. The sauce should be very thick like a pudding and not move if you hold the blender upside down.
  3. Spiralize the zucchini into pasta noodles (I like the paderno brand slicer) set aside.
  4. In a medium saute pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat until it just starts to shimmer.
  5. Add the zucchini in one layer into the pan and allow it to brown. Do don't move the "zuccasta"
  6. Once the zucchini has gained color turn it over and allow to cook for a few more minutes.
  7. Add a few heaping spoonfuls of the avocado sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. You can add more sauce to the amount of your liking.
  8. Allow the sauce and pasta to cook together until the sauce starts to lose a little bit of its green color and has heated throughout.
  9. Transfer to plates and garnish with tomatoes and lemon zest.

Notes

  1. You may have leftover sauce. I like to keep mine covered in the refrigerator for the next time I make this dish. I like to make it fresh every time rather than have it as leftovers but thats a personal preference.
  2. Use 1-2 zucchini per person for a full dinner portion.

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Time to slim down for Spring!

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Time to slim down for Spring!

roasted radishes

I just had a startling realization….

It’s the last week of February, which means it’s almost March, and March is almost Spring, and Spring is close to Summer, which is bathing suit season and you know what that means don’t you?!?!?!??!?

It means its time to stop eating all those starchy caloric dense foods and start slimming down for the warmer weather. Eeeek!

So what should you be eating you ask? Well its a good time to start filling your plate with low starch veggies on big piles of fresh salad paired with healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and oily omega 3 filled fish. 

Here is one that you probably haven’t tried before, roasted radishes!

I love radishes because they are very light, have a low starch content, and are great for cleansing because they are a natural diuretic. I prefer to mix raw radishes and cooked to gain a variety of flavor in salads or paired as a side with proteins. All you have to do is place the radishes in a pouch of either parchment or aluminum foil add some ghee or olive oil roast for 15 minutes then open it up and broil for 5-8 minutes to get some nice color and depth of flavor. Voila! Keep in mind that you can use this method for almost any other low starch veggie for cooking like turnips, zuchini, asparagus, etc. 

I also suggest to jumpstart your weight loss efforts by drinking a liter of this detox water daily to help fight bloat and curb your appetite:

Roasted Radishes

Serves 2

Gluten Free - Paleo - Grain Free - Sugar Free - Low Carb - Vegan Friendly

Ingredients

  • 1 lb radishes (washed and cut in half)
  • 2 tsp Grass Fed Ghee or Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre heat the oven to 425F
  2. You will need a piece of aluminum foil that is double the size of the amount of radishes because you will be folding it over on itself to form a pouch.
  3. Place the radishes off to one side of the foil and drizzle with oil or place the ghee in the center of the radishes.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Fold the foil over on itself and crimp the edge tightly shut so the radishes can steam inside.
  6. Place the pouch on a sheet pan for easy removal.
  7. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the pouch from the oven and using heat proof oven mits carefully open the pouch to expose the radishes.
  9. Crank the oven up to a broil.
  10. Toss the radishes with a spoon.
  11. Place the radishes back in the oven on the top shelf and broil for 5-8 minutes or until they start to gain some color.
  12. Remove from oven allow to cool, sprinkle with a touch more of salt if desired and enjoy!
  13. See notes for garnishes.

Optional garnishes

  1. Chopped chives
  2. Julienned mint
  3. Drizzle with favorite salad dressing while still warm to absorb the flavor.
  4. Serve with sliced avocados on top of a salad for a healthy snack!

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Dinner in a Flash! Healthy Thai Turkey Hot Pot

Thai turkey

I have realized something over the last year or so of fumbling my way through running this blog…I tend to over complicate healthy food when all I (and my friends and family) really want is easy, delicious food that isn’t going to make us fat. So my new years resolution is to bring you the simple food that I eat everyday that will keep you lean, mean, and in control of your kitchen. 

I just made this Thai inspired turkey hot-pot and it’s just the thing my cold body needs on this rainy day. This is one of a series of clean dinners that will keep your new years resolutions on track because Lord knows I drank and ate a wee bit too much this holiday season.

Whoops.

Sorry, I’m not sorry :)

Thai Turkey Hot Pot

Serves 4

Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Sugar Free - Low Carb - Dairy Free 

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Ground Turkey (Organic Free Range preferred I used 1/2 white 1/2 dark meat)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl Coconut oil (unrefined)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder (you can add more if you like more heat)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1Tbl Braggs Aminos (or sea salt if you are avoiding soy)
  • 1 head of bok choy
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (measure after chopping)
  • zest and juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  1. In a large flat bottomed high side pot pan heat the coconut oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer
  2. Add the onions and ginger; stir to coat in oil and saute until they start to soften (about 3-5 minutes)
  3. Add the garlic and chili powder and stir to combine
  4. Add the turkey meat and break up with a spoon
  5. Allow the turkey to brown and stir to brown evenly
  6. Turn the heat down to medium and cover for 3-5 minutes
  7. Stir the turkey and cover for another 3 minutes
  8. Chop the bok choy into 1/2'' pieces and add to the pot
  9. Add the coconut milk and stir everything to combine
  10. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a high simmer
  11. Cook until the turkey is cooked through about 10-15 minutes
  12. Add the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro at the very end
  13. Taste for seasoning add more heat and braggs to your liking

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Low Carb/High Protein - Nicoise Salads on Portabello Caps

Nicoise Portobello

I am still on a mission to give you delicious, healthy recipes as we become more and more tempted by this Holiday seasons mind field of indulgent eats. Frosted snowman, gingerbread houses, and orange chocolates that you break up against the wall…..AHHHHH I shake my fist at you delicious sugary treats of Christmas. 

Treating yourself is fine but lets stay focused on healthy eating in between cookie binges. Here is a super flavorful high protein low carb dish that I just had for lunch…and let me say its crazy good!

Basically I deconstructed a Nicoise salad and placed the ingredients on top of a baked Portobello mushroom cap. Mmmm. Oh and I also wrote a recipe for my Olive Oil mayonnaise that I make in big batches every week. I use pasture raised egg yolks and organic cold expeller pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

A little note that olive oil mayonnaise is going to taste a bit different than your regular storebought mayo, it will tatse more like well olive oil! Why olive oil and not a light flavored vegetable oil? I am always combatting inflammation and I like to keep hydrogenated, processed, refined vegetable oils aways from my everyday food. Industrialized  refined oils are the cause of many of Americas health issues (especially silent inflammation which makes weight loss close to impossible). Is it a coincidence that obesity, diabetes, and heart disease numbers in this country are at an all time high while the consumption of vegetable based oils are also at an all time high? I think not. 100 years ago we did not consume this amount of omega 6 filled vegetable oils. We ate real food like lard, eggs, and butter which contain naturally occurring Omega 3 fats, fat soluble vitamins like D, K, & A, and CLA. 

The optimal ratio would be 4:1 or 2:1 (Omega 3:Omega 6). While olive oil doesn’t contain any omega 3’s a cold pressed olive oil has great monounsaturated fats, phenols and vitamin E  preserved when they are not introduced to heat. (monounsaturated fats may lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.) This type of olive oil is best when used in cold preparations. I use grass-fed ghee or coconut oil for high heat cooking NOT my beautiful cold pressed olive oil. 

It may take a bit of getting used to flavor wise when cooking with traditional fats like ghee, grass-fed lard, and olive oil mayo but this is REAL food and REAL food will keep you healthy, energized, lean and mean! If you are concerned about your Omega 3 ratio balance I would encourage you to supplement with Cod liver oil or a high quality fish oil like this one. 

Nicoise Salads on Portabello Caps

Yields 4

Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Low Carb - Soy Free - Dairy Free

Base

  • 4 Large Portobello Caps
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil/Ghee
  • 4 Sprigs Thyme (optional)

Tapenade Spread

  • 1 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1 Tbl Drained Capers
  • 1 tsp Anchovy Paste or 2 Anchovy Fillets
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbl Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbl Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove Finely Minced

Tuna

  • 2 Cans High Quality Tuna Drained (Recommended Brand: Wild Planet Line Caught Albacore)
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Mayonaise (homemade recipe here)
  • 1 Tbl Dijon or Grain Mustard
  • 1 Tbl Lemon Juice

Toppings

  1. 6 String Beans, Steamed and Each Cut into Four 1-inch Pieces
  2. 1 Large Tomato Cut into 4 1/2'' slices
  3. Chopped Parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Wipe the mushrooms with a paper towel or kitchen towel to remove any dirt. Gently scrape out the scales inside of the cap using a spoon.
  3. Lay the caps on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and thyme leaves.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and softened.

Tapenade

  1. In the bowl of a food processor blend the olives, capers, anchovies, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, parsley, and garlic until it is a somewhat smooth spread. I leave mine with a little texture.
  2. Set aside.

Tuna

  1. Drain the tuna and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the tuna, mustards, and lemon juice.
  3. Pour the mayo/mustard mixture over the tuna and mix well.

Assembly

  1. Place the cooled portabello caps onto a serving plate and spread 1 heaping tablespoon of the tapenade onto the mushroom cap.
  2. Place one slice of the tomato on top of the tapenade.
  3. Divide the tuna into four portions and mound the tuna on top of the tomato pressing it into the tomato so it doesn't fall over.
  4. Spoon a little more tapenade on top of the tune and place 4 pieces of the steamed string beans on top.
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes

  1. The tuna, string beans, and tapenade can all be made ahead of time and can be assembled right before serving.

Adapted from  From Giada DeLaurentis Nicoise Salad Pizzettes

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Low Carb Turnip Mash with Dried Mushrooms

Todays post is for all of you out there who have been working so hard trying to stay in shape and are having a bit of a panic for this years holiday eating season. Lets tackle the Thanksgiving table and make  a low carb alternative to mashed potatoes. I have had my fair share of cauliflower “faux” mashed potatoes so lets mix it up with a new veggie that you probably haven’t thought to use in a vegetable puree. 

Enter the low starch phenomenon called the turnip! 

These little beauties have a very low starch content and are the Paleo/low carb dieters key to satisfying the need for a creamy puree  for Holiday and comfort meals. A quick disclaimer, they do not taste like a potato so I like to add some rich flavors like dried mushrooms to change the somewhat spicy flavor a turnip can have. Don’t worry though, once the turnips cook that spice turns sweet and luscious. The other option is to use half potatoes and half cauliflower or half potatoes half turnips to cut the starch content down. Either way you will eliminate  a lot  of calories and add in a different profile for nutrition and taste. Just make sure to cook the potatoes separately from the turnips and/or cauliflower because the cooking times are different. 

Turnip Mash with Dried Mushrooms

Serves 4-6

Vegetarian - Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Low Carb

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Peeled Turnips cut into large chunks
  • 2 Cups Low Sodium Broth (Vegetable, Chicken, Turkey etc)
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Mushrooms cut finely
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tbl Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan add the broth, the mushrooms, and the chopped turnips.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer with the lid off and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the turnips are easily pierced with a knife.
  3. Transfer all of the mixture to a blender and puree with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Notes

  1. The mushrooms can be omitted and milk and butter can be used if you can tolerate dairy but make sure to not add the maple syrup.
  2. Half the turnips can also be exchanged for potatoes if you want a more traditional style of mashed potatoes as well and omit the maple syrup.

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Pre Workout Snack of Champions

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Pre Workout Snack of Champions

Welcome to my latest obsession…

You may think I’m crazy for putting beets into chocolate and making a pudding, but don’t knock it until you try it. I do have a love for beets in general but a friend of mine turned me on to the combination of chocolate and beets and it really is a match made in heaven! This recipe would be perfect for curbing a sweet tooth but I actually think this is the PERFECT pre workout snack. 

Beet pudding before a workout? Really?

Really. 

Beets are high in nitrates and this creates a chain reaction where the body converts the nitrates in into nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide is a compound that enhances blood flow throughout the body and helps lower blood pressure. Many body builders take nitric oxide or pre workouts supplements that have nitric oxide for enhancing their workouts. The increase in blood flow yields better lifts for weight training and better blood flow for cardiovascular events. 

In addition to the increase in blood flow there is a nice balance of carbohydrates from the beets, energy boost from the cacao/chocolate, and vitamin C from the raspberries that give your body the proper balance for a killer workout. You could also eat this after a workout with some protein powder mixed for a complete post workout snack. I have been eating this for breakfast all week with some chopped almonds or hazelnuts on top and it is RIGHTEOUS! I feel so clean after I eat this and ready to take the day on.

Here is a link to a post I did about the health benefits of beets in pre and post workout nutrition.

Chocolate Raspberry Beet Pudding

Serves 4

Vegan - Sugar Free - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo 

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Steamed Beets (about 3-4 large beets or 5-6 small beets)
  • 1 Cup Raw Cacao Powder (or High quality Cocoa powder or Carob Powder)
  • 1/2 Cup Non Dairy Milk (Almond, Rice, Coconut etc)
  • 3 Cups Frozen Raspberries (Cherries would be amazing!)
  • 25-30 drops of Liquid Stevia or sweetener of choice to taste (Recommended Brand - Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme)
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Steam beets in a steamer over simmering water for 10-15 minutes or until a knife is easily pierced through the skin. Allow to cool.
  2. Once the beets are cooled rub the skins off with your hands. ( I suggest wearing gloves and doing this over the sink to prevent staining on your skin)
  3. Slice the beets into small pieces and place in the work bowl of a blender.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
  5. Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.

Notes

  1. If seeds bother you, heat the raspberries in a pan until softened with 2 TBL water and then mash with a fork. Strain the raspberries into the blender through a sieve to remove any seeds, pushing the solids with a spatula.
  2. Carob would be a great substitute for chocolate if you have any issues with caffeine or histamines that are in raw cacao/chocolate

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All Natural Pre Workout Juice for Champions

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All Natural Pre Workout Juice for Champions

Beet juice words

There is a lot of hype out there in the bodybuilding/workout community advertising pre workout supplements. I would be lying if said I have never tried one…ok truth talk I have tried about all of them. I use to be somewhat of a gym rat and if a supplement helped my lifts and gave me energy I didn’t really pay attention to any of the additives, dyes, or crummy ingredients written in tiny print next to a warning label….whoops :/

Now a days I haven’t been in the gym in a few years due to a couple of back surgeries ( a story for another time) so I have had the luxury of looking at these supplements with an unbiased perspective and the view is not pretty.

Top selling pre-workout supplements such as USP Labs Jack3D, MusclePharm Assault, & MuscleTech NeuroCore contain the following chemically derived ingredients:

Sucralose: An artificial chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, with detrimental health effects to match(aka Splenda). Sucralose has been show to decrease gut health by 50% and despite its “diet” artificial sweeteners have been shown to: 

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

FD& C Red #40: 

  • A petrochemical. A highly processed, petroleum based chemical used to color foods to make them more visually appetizing.
  • It goes by several names including: Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40.
  • It is banned and/or being phased out in much of Europe due to concerns over health effects.

Acesulfame-K: is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.

Reported side effects: Long term exposure to methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight and possibly cancer. Acesulfame-K may contribute to hypoglycemia. 

Concerns: Of all artificial sweeteners, acesulfame-K has undergone the least scientific scrutiny. Early studies showed a potential link between the sweetener and development of multiple cancers in laboratory animals. 

When you take a step back and think about the long-term damage you are doing to your body for short-term gains in the gym it seems pretty insane. 

So whats the solution to still getting huge pumps, increased lifts, and long-lasting energy to tear the gym a new one?

BEETS!!!!

Natures Candy
Natures Candy

So why are beets the key to succesful workouts?

  • Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrates which friendly bacteria in the mouth convert to nitrate, and then through the body is converted to nitric oxide. Ever heard of it? If you are a gym rat you probably are very familiar with nitric oxide as a pre workout supplement that helps increase your lifts because of its positive effect on blood flow, muscle contraction, and neurotransmission. Basically bigger lifts and more energy. 
  • Beet juice has been shown to drop systolic blood pressure by 5-10mmHG depending on the dose. The more the better (1 cup is a good serving suggestion) but you will want to start small (about 1/4 cup) or else you could feel a bit light-headed if you are an athlete and your blood pressure tends to run on the low side. 
  • It is best to drink this a few hours (2.5 hours to be exact) before your workout for the peak levels to be reach while exercising but one hour before will still yield positive results.  

 Great article on the scientific benefits of beet juice and energy output

Other health benefits from Beet Juice:

• It is an amazing antioxidant and helps prevent the formation of cancerous tumors. 

• Beetroot juice detoxifies the liver and aids in healing diseases of the digestive system. 

• Good source of folic acid and helps in providing protection against birth defects.

• Beet juice lowers bad cholesterol level.

You can buy a beet root powder but I like to juice mine fresh along with turmeric ( a natural anti-inflammatory which will help decrease muscle soreness), ginger (for added heat to increase blood flow and beat muscles soreness), and carrots for some sweetness and to prevent muscle cramping. This juice is also an amazing pain killer for post workout as well so basically anytime anywhere you can drink this juice and feel amazing!

Bonus Add ons:

  • Maca Powder: A powerful adaptogen that increases oxygen, energy, and balances hormones
  • Scoop of favorite protein powder to balance the natural sugars and give your body more to work with for extended workouts.
  • 1 tbl of chia seeds to aid in fluid retention, halting absorptions of sugars, and for a boost of protein. 

Pre Workout Beet Juice Drink

Yields 3

Vegan- Alkaline - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo

Ingredients

  1. 3 Organic Peeled Beets
  2. 4 Organic Peeled Carrots
  3. 2 Small (about 1'') Pieces Peeled Turmeric
  4. 1 Small Coin of Ginger
  5. Optional: Maple Syrup, or Honey to Taste but raw and pure is best

Instructions

  1. Juice all of the ingredients in a juicer and store in an airtight glass container.
  2. One serving is 4-8oz (1/2 -1 cup) but start small.

Notes

  1. Don't have a juicer? Chop all of the ingredients into very small pieces and add them to some warm water in a high power blender and puree then strain through cheesecloth.
  2. Feel Free to add in protein powder for extended workouts and maca powder to increase energy and oxygen levels.
  3. Excessive consumption of beet juice may cause your urine to turn pink. This is normal and nothing to be worried about.

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