Even though I’m a dietitian and love me a huge kale salad more often than not, sometimes I’m just not feeling those veggies. To compensate, I decided to hide some greener than green zucchini (which is super cheap and in season right now BTW) in a chocolat-ey baked good. I developed my own version of this recipe based off of what I already had on hand in my own kitchen. The result? When masked in chocolate, eating your veggies isn’t difficult at all. In fact, it’s a little too easy…
QUICK! Take advantage while zucchini is still in season and BAKE THESE MUFFINS.
Double Chocolate Zucchini Cherry Muffins
1 C oat flour* ½ C pure maple syrup
½ C cocoa powder 5.3 oz container plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 small zucchini, grated
1 ½ tsp. baking powder 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten ½ C chocolate chips
1 chia or flax egg** ¼ C dried cherries
Preheat oven to 3500 F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, mix together maple syrup egg, chia/flax egg, yogurt, zucchini and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and dried cherries. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and cook 17-20 minutes or until done. Cool and enjoy!
*To make oat flour, add double the amount of flour called for with whole oats (i.e. in this recipe it would be 3 ½ C) into a food processor. Process until a fine flour has formed. Can also substitute whole-wheat flour or ½ whole-wheat, ½ white flour
**Optional (could sub another egg). To make, combine 1 Tbs. chia/ground flaxseed + 3 Tbs. water and let sit for a couple minutes until water is absorbed
Recently, I’ve been in a food rut. Meaning, I’ve fallen into the routine of NOT meal prepping and just cooking easy fast options over and over again (i.e. lots of salmon burgers, eggs and roasted veggies). Although I love these options, they become boring and unsatisfying after ohhhh the third week or so.
In order to remedy this, I perused the Internet for fresh, different, and more “exotic” if you will, recipes to try. I found one for Thai peanut noodles and I decided to take a stab at my own version with one of my girlfriends one night. I’m glad we did, because this recipe turned out AMAZING. It came together fast, is packed with veggies and utilizes a somewhat new-to-me vegetarian source of protein, tempeh!
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, it is fermented during processing and is much firmer than it’s tofu cousin. I actually prefer cooking with tempeh because 1.) I like the nutty flavor and 2.) the firmer texture is easier to cook with and also makes it more satisfying to me. Tempeh is also CHEAP! About $4 for an 8oz block, making it a great substitute for meat every once and awhile.
The key to cooking tempeh is marinating it in some sort of sauce before cooking so it soaks of all the flavors. Another note, I like spice. A lot. If you are not much of a spice lover, simply omit or decrease the amount of Sriracha you use. Finally, I’ve enjoyed adding a fried egg on top of my noodles for extra protein every once and awhile so give that a go if that sounds good to you!
Spicy Thai Vegetable & Tempeh Noodles
1 10 oz. package spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs warm water
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 Tbs peanut butter
3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice vinegar (can sub white wine vinegar)
1 Tbs Sriracha (more or less to taste depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Tbs honey or brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 head broccoli crowns
2 green onions, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
8 oz. tempeh, crumbled
Prepare pasta according to package. Meanwhile, make sauce by combining warm water, soy sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar Sriracha, honey and garlic. Place half of the sauce in a separate bowl and add tempeh, coating well. Soak tempeh in the sauce for 5-7 minutes.
Place a medium-large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil (enough to coat pan and prevent sticking), pepper, carrots and broccoli and sauté for 3-4 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Add tempeh and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat.
Drain pasta and add to vegetable/tempeh skillet. Add additional sauce and toss to coat. Mix in cilantro and green onions. Plate (or bowl) up and eat!
Our society has a pretty messed up version of what constitutes “healthy”. In a country notorious for obesity and unhealthy eating habits, there seems to be a lot of information (or better put, misinformation) of what we should and should not be eating.
Here is what healthy eating really means:
Healthy eating is…
Eating the foods you LOVE
Whether it be chocolate cake, craft beer or pizza or kale smoothies, salmon burgers or oatmeal. You need to eat your favorite foods in order to have a truly healthy lifestyle and relationship with food.
Eating what you want when you want and listening to your body’s cravings
Sometimes I truly crave a hearty spinach salad topped with a perfectly grilled salmon filet with a dabble of goat cheese. Other times, all my body desires is a large piece of my favorite cheesecake for dinner. Yes, FOR dinner. Healthy eating means ignoring those silly “food rules” that our society has created, and doing what is best for YOU.
Enjoying food and drinks without guilt
One of the things that makes me happiest, is trying out new restaurants or spending the day at a winery with friends. This wouldn’t be the case if I obsessed over how much butter was used to prepare my pasta dish or how many calories was in that bottle of wine. When you stop trying to analyze everything, food really is more enjoyable.
I’m not talking binge eating or stuffing your face without reason here. No, I am talking about sometimes enjoying more than you usually would because you don’t deny yourself. This may mean enjoying three to four extra alcoholic beverages because you’re out celebrating your best friends bachelorette party. Or, it may mean trying all the local street food while traveling to a new city or country.
Healthy eating is NOT…
Eating based on a number
Don’t be a slave to a specific calorie count or macronutrient level.
*Side rant- when I see people who follow “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) on my Facebook, insta or twitter feed I immediately un-follow them. This is such a diet mentality and is so restrictive and unhealthy. I don’t see how depriving yourself by only eating egg whites and protein powder during the day, then bingeing on Oreos smothered in peanut butter at night because they have “leftover macros” is viewed as healthy. Ok, rant over, moving on!
Anyways, your body needs different things and amounts everyday based on a variety of factors, so it’s silly to try to hit a certain number everyday. Some days you may need more calories because you are extra hungry (which is your bodies way of telling you it needs more fuel!) and other days you are naturally less hungry. The body is so smart and balances itself, so there’s no need for your brain to worry about the numbers.
Completely eliminating certain foods/food groups
Eliminating an entire food group is JUST NOT HEALTHY for the body. Carbs do not make you fat. Fat does not make you fat. Protein does not make you skinny. You need a balance of all these things, not an excess or restriction of one or the other.
Don’t deny yourself something just because it’s “unhealthy”. This sets you up for failure and a life of misery. What’s life without your favorite ice cream sundae every now and then? Food provides us with joy, don’t take that away from yourself.
Following a radical “fast fix” or fad diet
The word “diet” actually means: the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group. This is in opposition to today’s perception of the word, which is usually correlated to restriction, elimination and deprivation. A diet is a lifestyle that you can sustain throughout your entire life and I don’t know anyone who could do this by following one of those drastic, fad diet plans (hence why most people gain the weight back right when they go off them).
In sum, healthy eating is different for everyone as we all have unique needs, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. However, one commonality exists: healthy eating means enjoying the foods you love, while respecting and listening to your body. It is not about abusing your body through restriction and deprivation or fearing food. Now go eat something delicious tonight <3.
Hi there! Long time no talk, er blog. Truthfully, the thought of writing up a coherent, engaging, and educational post after a long day of work has just sounded like, well, more hard work. But, tonight I made a recipe that I just HAD to share with you guys. I’m in the process of moving so I am getting creative with cleaning out the food in my freezer. I had a pound of ground bison in there along with a package of mushrooms in my fridge (that I had high hopes of using in another recipe but never did).
Ironically, I developed a flyer at work yesterday titled “10 Creative Ways to Get More Fruits & Vegetables”. One of my tips was to add chopped mushrooms to your ground beef recipes. This not only sneaks in an extra serving of veggies (which you won’t taste, I swear!), but also saves you money! Adding mushrooms doubles the amount you get from this recipe. So, instead of getting 4 burgers from 1 lb. of meat, you get 8! This trick can not only be used for burgers, but any recipe calling from ground beef like tacos, sloppy joes, etc.
I want to end by once again emphasizing that YOU WILL NOT TASTE THE MUSHROOMS AT ALL! Seriously, even the die-hard meat eater won’t notice. Just don’t tell them, or they’ll swear they will because they’re stubborn ;).
Lean Mean Bison Burgers
1 lb. ground bison OR lean ground beef/turkey*
8 oz. mushrooms
2 Tbs. favorite burger seasoning (I like Canadian steak seasoning)
Preheat a large skillet or grill, lightly greasing with non-stick spray to prevent the burgers from sticking if necessary. Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until they become fine, little pieces. Combine mushrooms with bison and seasoning. Place onto heat and cook until desired doneness is reached. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Who doesn’t like a good ‘ole pb&j? Today, I’m bringing you a revamped version of this childhood favorite in the form of oatmeal cups! I also swapped out the classic peanut butter for almond butter. Never tried AB before?? You’re missing out. It’s a great change-up from PB and packs a hefty dose of vitamin E (an antioxidant that promotes healthy skin, hair and vision) and calcium (a great source, especially for all you vegetarians).
These make a great snack, breakfast, dessert…heck they’re a good ANYTIME treat! While they’re wonderful fresh out of the oven, they are also great to freeze for later. You can always sub peanut butter or another nut butter if you’d like, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Trust me, you won’t be sorry that you messed with this classic.
Almond Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cups
Makes 10 cups
½ cup oat flour*
1 cup oats
1 tsp. baking powder
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
¼ cup liquid sweetener**
3 Tbs. almond butter
½ cup jelly/jam (your whichever flavor is your favorite!)
Preheat oven to 375O F. Spray 10 small muffin cups with cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients up until almond butter and mix well to combine. Portion dough into muffin tins and spoon on a layer of jelly followed by a dollop of almond butter. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cooked all the way through (toothpick comes out clean). Cool and store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week. These are also a great freeze and defrost snack!
*You can make your own oat flour by grinding whole oats in a food processor until they form a fine flour. Approximately 1 cup of oats equals ½ cup of oat flour.
Within the past few years, the paleo diet has gained a massive amount of interest and has become an increasingly popular diet to follow, especially for athletes and very active individuals. The premise is to eat in a way similar to our Paleolithic ancestors. According to the paleodiet.com, this is comprised of a diet higher in protein, lower in carbs and a moderate-high intake of fat (focusing mainly on unsaturated varieties). Additionally, it also includes a focus on consuming foods lower in sodium and higher in potassium, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Although this may sound like a healthy approach, there are many flaws to this way of eating and little research to back up the purported benefits of “going paleo”.
Let’s start by a breaking down which foods are allowed and which ones are not:
Fresh fruits and vegetables
“Healthful oils” (olive, walnut, flaxseed, etc.)
Foods NOT Allowed:
Legumes (including peanuts)
Refined vegetable oils
Ok, this isn’t all bad, so let’s first discuss the pros:
1.) Emphasizes whole foods
Fresh, minimally processed foods such as fruits and veg, nuts and lean meats are the focal point, which is great! We should all try to eat more of these foods and the majority of American’s are lacking in this area thanks to a high consumption fast food and packaged products.
2.) No processed foods
See above. The vast majority of Americans consume far too much processed food, which is detrimental as it has been linked to the obesity and every major disease.
1.) Complete elimination of grains and dairy
While I do support the reduction of refined grains (i.e. white bread, cookies, cakes, white pasta, etc.) this diet completely eliminates any form of grain including heart-healthy ones like oats, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and multiple studies indicate that decreasing them negatively influences performance and health. A study conducted by Rosenkranz and colleagues found a rise in total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in triathletes after following the low-carb diet compared to a traditional one. Additionally, workout performance actually decreased in these athletes as they experienced feelings of tiredness and fatigue while on the low-carb condition1. Even if you are not an athlete, this evidence is important to keep in mind if you are considering using paleo as a weight-loss tool.
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are also important sources of calcium and vitamin D, both of which help to prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis. Consuming milk has also been linked to improved exercise performance and enhanced muscle growth and recovery2,3.
2.) No potatoes or legumes
I’m pretty sure our ancestors had these available to them back in the day…I just don’t get this one. Again, while potatoes are higher in carbohydrates compared to other vegetables, they are healthy, complex carbohydrates. They also provide a hefty dose of fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals like potassium.
Legumes, are a lean source of protein, fiber and nutrients. Eliminating them makes the paleo diet very non-vegetarian friendly. It also possibly promotes an overconsumption of meat since other forms of protein are taken away (dairy, beans, grains).
3.) No processed foods
Yes, I am listing this as both a pro and con. Confused? Hear me out. I am not advocating the consumption of processed foods like chips, soft drinks or candy. However, any form of food that is altered from it’s original form in any way is deemed processed. This means, even nutritious items like dried fruit, granola bars and whole-wheat bread are technically processed. Again, this eliminates a huge variety of healthful foods and also makes this diet unrealistic to maintain and carry out for the average person.
Although the basic premise of the paleo diet is healthy (i.e. more fresh foods, less processed ones), the extreme restrictions and complete elimination of all grains, dairy, legumes and potatoes make it a poor choice to follow long-term. When searching my laptop to find photos to break up this wordy post, I was struck by how few paleo-friendly meals I consume! I enjoy cheese, yogurt, hummus, peanut butter and oats too much to be paleo. Oh, and wine and dessert.
The combined research does not support the paleodiet.com website’s proposition that following this type of eating plan is a healthier choice compared to a normal, well-balanced diet. I want to end by pointing out that everyone is different. As such, the paleo way of eating might be practical and enjoyable to someone, making it a healthy choice for THEM. However, the blanket statement suggesting that paleo is right for everyone and a healthier lifestyle compared to a normal well-balanced diet is simply not true.
References for further reading:
1.) Rosenkranz RR, Cook CM, Haub MD. Endurance training on low-carbohydrate and grain-based diets: a case study. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism. 2007 Jun 1;17(3):296.
2.) Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism. 2006 Feb 1;16(1):78.
3.) Lunn WR, Pasiakos SM, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Carbone JW, Anderson JM, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk and endurance exercise recovery: protein balance, glycogen, and performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Apr 1;44(4):682-91.
Healthy, filling and portable, this recipe takes breakfast to the next level! Waaaayyy better than Reese’s puffs because it will actually fill you up and provides you with a hefty dose of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants without any added sugar. Oh, and there’s the rich dark chocolate taste too. Perfection.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oats
½ cup oats
1 Tbs. chia seeds*
½ cup milk
1 Tbs. cocoa powder
½ Tbs. dark chocolate chips
1 Tbs. peanut butter
Mash banana in a bowl. Combine all other ingredients except peanut butter and refrigerate overnight for at least 3 hours. When ready to eat, top with peanut butter and ENJOY!
*Optional, but I like them because they really thicken up the oat mixture