Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lunch Woes Solved!

September 2, we talked about fast and simple breakfast options to avoid skipping our morning meal. And while the first meal of the day is important for our health, so is lunch! In addition to the physical benefits – raised blood sugar and fresh energy – there are mental benefits as well. Taking a break out of your day reduces stress and allows for a mental recharge. And your midday meal doesn’t have to be complicated to be nourishing and delicious.

So first, some quick rules for lunchtime to make sure you get the full benefit.
  • Sit down – avoid eating while standing up. Sitting down allows your parasympathetic system to take over, improving digestion and relaxing your body.
  • Avoid eating at your desk – the temptation is to hide in our cave, at times. While there may be times when you do not have choice, try to get out of the office. If the sun is out, grab some extra napkins and enjoy a picnic outside. But even enjoying your meal in the office break room is an improvement.
  • Breathe deeply – This might seem like an odd reminder, but we can go all day without taking a deep breath. And breathing is critical for our best health. So take a moment, before and after your meal, to inhale deeply, and slowly exhale.
Now, onto some delicious recipes that can make your lunch healthy and enjoyable! Somewhere along the way, we embraced the sandwich as the only noon-meal option. Well, we left some room for the salad, but otherwise, we’ve limited ourselves to protein between two slices of bread. Let’s branch out!

Bento box – this is a new craze that is surprisingly easy and fun. Whether you take advantage of leftovers, or simply use fresh foods to create your meal, bento boxes offer an opportunity to have a different lunch daily. So pick up a few and see what you think!

Veggie wrap – so if a sandwich is hard to give up, try a twist. Take a large whole grain wrap, add a thin layer of homemade mayo or dressing, layer some low-sodium deli meat, then top with a few slices of cheese or avocado, and a handful of spring lettuce leaves or kale. You can wrap it up in foil for easy transport.

Stews and soups – okay, so this one requires a teeny bit of prep time, but not as much as you think! Often, Sundays offer the best opportunities to prepare food, but find what works best for your schedule. Depending on the recipe, stews and soups can take less than a half hour to prepare, and then you can forget about your food until you pack it up for the week. Check out my article on slow cookers for some great recipe suggestions.

Flexibility – I know, flexibility is not an actual food idea, but it’s still critical to making sure you are able to eat. Some days, the stars will not align. Life will not provide enough time to make a healthy lunch. But there are other options, including picking better choices at fast food restaurants, enjoying a potluck with coworkers, and (gasp!) letting go of the worry and indulging on occasion. When you’ve created good habits in your life, you can afford to step outside the lines now and then.

We may miss meals because of too little time, not enough options, and lack of ideas. But you don’t have to feel frustrated or trapped. Make small changes – perhaps start with only one lunch per week. And baby-step your way into your healthier habits.

What recipes have worked best for your lunches? Share them down below!

Contributing Writer 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Feasts

As the days stretch long and the temperatures sizzle, the temptation of grilling and fresh fruits are impossible to resist. So don’t! This is a great time of year to delve into new recipes, invite a few friends over for a delicious visit, and expand your palette.

Here’s a few recipes that I’ve been creating and enjoying as the weather turns warm! (And as a bonus, they’re vegetarian and gluten free!)


If you enjoy a little pizzazz for your taste buds, this recipe will hit the spot! It’s fresh, lightly sweet, and plenty tangy. It’s a delicious side, or you can add some protein and make it a meal!

Serves 2
5 minutes to prep

Using a large bowl with a lid, add 2-3 cups of fresh baby greens, ¼ cup crumbled feta, 2 tablespoons chopped almonds, 2-3 sliced strawberries, and drizzle pomegranate vinaigrette over everything. Then place the lid on the bowl and shake until well mixed. Serve immediately.

Alternatives: try using dried cranberries in place of the strawberries, or walnuts instead of almonds. You could also try a soft goat cheese or sharp cheddar.

We are meat eaters in my family, but when a vegetarian friend came to visit, I was up for the challenge. This is an amazing combination of flavors that is just as filling as sitting down to a hamburger!

Serves 2
20 minutes to prep
15 minutes to cook

Clean and remove the stems from 2 large portobello mushrooms. Set them upside-down (with the stem side facing up) in a bowl or baking pan. Combine 2/3 cup olive oil with ¼ cup balsamic vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon fresh garlic. Shake together until blended. Pour over the mushroom caps. Refrigerate for two hours.

Combine 1 cup of fresh basil, 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons pine nuts (best if toasted first in your oven). Blend in a food processor. Drizzle oil into the processor and combine, until the pesto reaches desired consistency.

Once mushrooms are marinated, place them on medium-hot grill for about 10 minutes.

Peel and slice 1 medium eggplant into medallions, about ½” thick per slice. Use butter or oil of your choice to coat each side of the eggplant. Salt, and add to the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side.  

Toast 2-4 slices of gluten free bread.

Mushrooms are done when tender. The eggplant will soften significantly, so be careful not to overcook. Layer one slice of bread with two eggplant medallions, then top with pesto and add a mushroom cap. Serve sandwich open-faced.

Alternatives: Grill halloumi cheese and layer on top of the sandwich. Roasted red peppers make a lovely garnish. Add some mayonnaise to your pesto for a creamier topping.

We do not drink soda…and this is why!

Pour 4 oz. of your favorite unsweetened juice – I’m enjoying pomegranate juice right now – into a glass. Add unflavored seltzer, some ice cubes, and slip a slice of lime onto the edge of the glass. Delicious!

We have friends who request this every time they visit. It’s a simple side that is a people pleaser, especially if you have some picky eaters in your home!

Serves 2
10 minutes prep
30-40 minutes to cook

Gather two pieces of tin foil, about 24-30” in length. Spray both pieces of foil with nonstick coconut oil spray. Peel 3-4 russet or red potatoes and cut into 1” thick medallions. Place on one sheet of foil – they can touch, but don’t layer them. Roughly chop one medium yellow onion, and lay the pieces over the potatoes. Salt to taste, and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a zigzag across the potatoes. Use the second sheet of foil as a cover, and crimp the edges together, creating a sealed packet.
Cook for 30-40 minutes om a high-heat grill. If you have a second grate farther away from the heat, put the potatoes there. If you must place the potato packet right on the flames, flip them halfway through to avoid burning.

Potatoes are finished when they break apart easily with a fork.

Let us know if you enjoy any of these summer favorites – or if you have some new recipes of your own to share!

Contributing Writer

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seasonal Vegetables

The chill of autumn is already an undercurrent on the summer breeze. As we usher out the rich berries and peaches of summer, we welcome in the firm-skinned squashes and thick root vegetables. So what on earth do you do with these earthy, rough-hewn vegetables?

Basket of apples

While for some of us, the influx of muddy-textured seasonal vegetables can be off-putting, there’s much to be said for these hearty cousins that have saved a number of populations during famines.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Here’s a sampling of the rich produce that comes into season at the end of summer and throughout the cooler months.

Root Veggies

Sweet Potatoes
Celery Root

Winter Squash
Butternut Squash
Acorn Squash

Green onions

If this list seems a bit overwhelming, it can be incredibly easy to incorporate them into your current menus. Why not make a goal of trying one new vegetable each time you visit the grocery store?

When using this season’s fresh fruits, consider adding them to the main dish or as an hors d’oeuvre, rather than consuming them alone or as part of dessert. Apples compliment pork perfectly, and cranberries combined with quinoa and butternut squash make an amazing side dish. Baked figs with goat cheese and radicchio make an amazing appetizer. Prosciutto-wrapped pears remain one of my favorite starter dishes – or even as a dessert, depending on your tastes.

Root vegetables offer a more filling option to the normal vegetable side. Consider adding a selection of them to a pot roast or substituting them for dishes that call for potatoes. Rutabaga fries are a healthy, fun alternative and can be topped with Parmesan cheese or barbeque seasoning for a new taste. Sweet potatoes can be whipped into ice cream?! Celery root makes a mild, delicious hash brown.

Lettuces offer an assortment of flavors. Instead of getting a mixed lettuce bag at the store, get a single flavor and top with your favorite dressing. An unexpected flavor Рand now one of my favorites Рis the peppery baby arugula. Topped with a ginger carrot dressing, it becomes a sophisticated side dish for any white fish. Cabbage can substitute for rice in almost any recipe, taking on the flavor of the sauce. Simply slice it thinly and steam it. The bold color of red chard makes it a joy to bring home, and a simple sauté creates a delicately flavored accent to a roasted chicken breast or tender grilled portabella mushroom.

Spaghetti Squash

Squashes bring a sweet, earthy flavor to any meal. Pumpkin works surprisingly well with sausage, and butternut squash sets off the salty flavor of bacon and caramelized onions. Acorn squash can substitute for a healthy dessert. And don’t forget about zucchini noodles! For those of us looking to eat a few more vegetables, a julienne peeler or spiral slicer works well to create a great base for marinara or meat sauce.

The joy of alums! If you aren’t an onion lover, consider trying some of its cousins before writing them all off. The gentle leek is a bit easier on the taste buds, and makes a lovely quiche. Shallots are a combination of garlic bulb and onion, a bit sweeter, and create a pleasant flavor in soup. Scallions and chives lend a subtle onion flavor without any harsh intensity; you often see them in savory dishes like Mongolian Beef.

Hopefully these recipes will encourage you to explore this season’s harvest – what seasonal vegetables have you tried that you love?

Contributing Writer

Friday, August 3, 2012

“Peach-y” Keen Nutrition

Indulge me for just a moment, and give yourself a treat.  Now… picture yourself walking on a beautiful hillside.  You see a peach tree… and approach it curiously.  Reaching up you pick a beautifully ripe peach.  Now smell it, and savor that fabulous aroma.  Slowly you take a big bite of this incredibly juicy fruit.  Enjoy the sweet flavor that only a ripe peach can have.  What a treat for all the senses.  This fruit is luscious to look at, touch, smell, and taste.  What more can you ask for from a food?  Well, in this case, we can also ask for great health benefits because peach's nutrition is amazing!  The plain peach fact is that the nutritional value of peaches can improve your health!
nutritional value of peaches
Sweet, juicy peaches - a yummy summer treat!
Should we say "A Peach A Day?"

Peaches, actually, originated in China where eating for health is not only a priority, it is a mindset.  A “mindset” we would be wise to adopt.  This delectable fruit was believed to increase longevity, and for good reason.   Here are some of the nutritional information of peaches:
  1. Potassium:  Peaches provide a high source of this mineral. A deficiency in potassium can cause fatigue, anxiety, muscle weakness, skin problems, poor memory, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, congestive heart failure or heart deterioration, and vibration in your ears.
  2. Beta-carotene:  The body changes beta-carotene to Vitamin A. It is essential for supporting your vision, skin, healthy bone growth and your immune system. As an antioxidant vitamin A helps skin to repair, stay moist, and produce the enzymes that stabilize the production of collagen. If you’re after strong, silky locks, you’ll want to remember that vitamin A is also good for your hair. 
  3. Lycopene and lutein:  Also part of the carotene family, these elements give color to the peach. They help prevent macular degeneration, cancer, and heart disease.
  4. Fiber:  Fiber does a body good and you can find two types in peaches have two types:  insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water and soluble fiber, which does. Insoluble fiber is good for you because it collects water and increases the bulk of the stool.  Helping you push more of the waste out. This means your body can absorb more nutrients.  Soluble fiber is equally important.  It takes longer to break down which helps control blood sugar and it binds with fatty acids to help control cholesterol.  
  5. Vitamin C:  This antioxidant helps fight cancer by improving the immune system and preventing cellular change.
  6. Iron:  When you eat a peach, you get almost as much usable iron as spinach. Eat up ladies!
I used to live in Georgia where growing peach trees is an art form.  There are many peach tree varieties around the world.  The sweeter varieties of peaches include the Donut, Elberta, Frost, Hale-Haven, Harken, Honey Babe, O'Henry, Polly White, and White Lady.  Needless to say, making recipes with all of these varieties of peaches in them was also an art form in Georgia.  There are no shortage of fresh peach recipes from peach desserts to muffins, drinks, and even main entrees to be found on the internet and cookbooks.  Since I appreciate, and revere, the philosophy the Chinese hold in regard to food, I have yet another nutrient packed green smoothie recipe with peaches to help you build a strong body, mind, and spirit.

“Peachy” Green Smoothie
  • 2 peaches, sliced and pitted
  • 1 banana
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (honey flavored)
  • 1 tbsp. agave sweetener or honey
  • 1 cup water
Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Monday, July 23, 2012

Foods That Help You Sleep

For those of us who are not great sleepers, or those who have more than their share of "bad nights", we know how valuable a good night’s sleep is.  You read of the many ways to get to sleep, but as a person with sleeping problems; it took me years to find a way to help me sleep on a regular basis.

sleep foods
Add these fruits when you're nutty without a good night's sleep.
I believe we are NOT powerless to help ourselves in this situation though.  And from years of studying and personal experience, I  know what we eat can go a long way toward solving the problem all together.  When I eat right, I sleep right:  just food, juices, and smoothies.  For me, it took some time of ingesting these sleep producing foods before sleepless nights became a thing of the past, but after years of struggle, I finally knew what it was to get a "good night’s sleep."

So what are the foods that help you sleep better when our head hits the pillow?
  • Cherries:  They contain a significant amount of melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain that influences your sleep cycle. Make them “tart cherries”, and you get even more bang for your buck.
  • Bananas: This versatile fruit is packed with nutritional properties. The sleep aids contained in this, most common of fruits, are: potassium and magnesium, natural muscle relaxants.  L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body in producing serotonin and melatonin. Eating one in the evening is especially helpful. Try it blended with a little milk and a couple of dates and you’ve got yourself a delicious Bedtime Smoothie.
  • Dates:  Dates are another natural source of l-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a critical component for getting good sleep and a happy life.
  • Figs:  These tasty morsels are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. So, indulge yourself.
  • Nuts:  Almonds, a particularly good source of l-tryptophan and magnesium, are great to munch on at bedtime. Try drinking almond milk in place of cow’s milk. You can either make it yourself, or buy it from the store. Use it as the base for the Bedtime Smoothie (see below). What a delicious way to get the nutrients you need for a sound sleep.
  • Chia Seeds:  An l-tryptophan winner. They are good for you for so many reasons. Using them as a sleep aid is just one more reason to give them a try. Sprinkle some over your salads, mix them in your smoothies, or even drop a teaspoon of them into your fruit juices. You’ll be surprised by the delightful bit of texture they bring to anything. This one is a Dr. Oz favorite.
  • Sweet Potato:  In some arenas, the sweet potato is considered a Superfood, and its high content of l-tryptophan is one of the reasons vegetarians worldwide make this food a staple.  It is also the double whammy in a thanksgiving dinner when served alongside the turkey. Talk about nap time. It was the sweet potato that was my sleep aid of choice when I first decided to tackle my sleep problems with food. I ate it every day for about two weeks, and soon sweet sleep swept into my life, and I was able to slam the door on insomnia.
  • Yogurt with Granola:  This yummy combination can activate neurotransmitters in the brain that signal it is time to go to sleep. Not to mention the beneficial bacteria that makes for a happy digestive track, which in itself, can lead to a sounder night’s sleep.
  • Oatmeal:  While most people eat it for breakfast, what they don’t know is, it is a natural for an evening snack. Because it’s rich in melatonin it makes a great sleep aid. It also has the advantage of being a carbohydrate loaded snack which raises your blood sugar increasing your insulin levels, only to have sugar levels fall, and like a beautiful dance it releases chemicals in the brain that lull you into a sweet sleep.
So the next time you have sleep problems, take a look in your own refrigerator, pantry, or cupboard for these awesome natural sleep aids. Your answer may be right there, just waiting for you to take a bite. 

Here is a healthy recipe with a few of the foods with melatonin to help you sleep.

Bedtime Smoothie Recipe:

1 C Almond Milk (or regular milk)
½ C Water
3-5 dates
1 small banana
Dash of Vanilla

Sleep Tight!

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified