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Meal Round Up, Week of June 11th

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I have some professions to declare… Monday musings, as you will. It is raining here in Kentucky for the second day in a row, and while my garden is soaking it up, I’m wishing for a sunny day ahead. With little to do outside but play in the rain, I am left with a lot of time to think.

  • I don’t understand how people do not like exercise. I will be the first to admit that I do not look forward to my workout every single day. Still, I am mostly motivated to get my blood flowing and get my muscles moving because I know just how good it feels (and the carryover benefits = glowy skin, good sleep, metabolism boost, kickass booty).
  • My dogs are my best friends. I’m sorry if this offends you but I like them more than most humans. And the three of us have been together through so much. Over EIGHT YEARS. Hands down, the longest relationship I have ever had. The biggest commitment I have made and kept #noragrets … I love those girls.<BR>
  • Humidity sucks. The rain my city is experiencing is a short reprieve from the hot and humid weather, but once the clouds dry up then it will be back to it. The only benefit to the humidity is that it will keep the wrinkles at bay for longer. Now for my hair, that is another story. Sigh.

Here is a look at what I was busy cooking up (and scarfing down) most recently.

SeaSaltTahiniBrownies

Tahini Sea Salt Brownies

My heart is made of fudgy brownies. I am convinced. Brownies warm my soul and after observation that it is my favorite dessert because my mind drifts to these guys whenever I think I want something sweet. Last week I whipped up two batches of the TBB’s choco-tahini brownies. This time I mixed up these tahini and coconut flour based brownies. It blows my mind every time I use tahini in a dessert recipe that they come out delicious. Tahini, you tricky devil, you. Recipe coming soon!

Homemade Bone Broth

Homemade Bone Broth

I’ve been making bone broth for going on a year and a half now. I was intrigued by all the health benefits (gut + skin health, primarily) and how easy it was to make! I now keep bones and veggie scraps in the freezer until I have enough to fill my crockpot. Add water and crushed garlic, and cook until all your house smells like broth (or 24ish hours).

I have found so many uses for my homemade broth! Not to mention, making your own broth saves money. I seldom purchase broth or stock from the grocery because I always have it on hand in the fridge or freezer. It cost zero dollars (only energy to power the crock!) to make because it uses scraps that would have otherwise been tossed. It also fights food waste by repurposing food to get two uses, honoring the animal and plant from which it originated and keeping landfills below capacity.

Crepes

Strawberries + Cream Gluten Free Crepes

I bought 2 pounds of fresh strawberries on Wednesday and have spent the past week brainstorming all the delicious ways I can devour these little red beauties. My first thought was French crepes filled with fresh cream and sunkissed berries, drizzled with chocolate. Since I am not in France, nor do I know how to bake French food, I immediately lowered my expectations to a thinned out gluten free packet straight from my kitchen, with 2% greek yogurt and sliced strawbs. I have a while to go before I perfect this recipe for my homemade, healthy version of this European streetfare but I am on a mission to get it right! You will be the first to know 😉

VeganBowl

Leftover Vegan Bowl + Bean Salad

A.k.a. my lunch three days in a row. This combo is that tasty.

All the goods:
Steamed sweet potato and cinnamon
Roasted broccoli
Marinated red onions (recipe from the 21 DSD Daily Guide)
3-Bean Salad (from Tone It Up Nutrition Plan) with diced red pepper

I originally whipped the bean salad with the intention of serving it over some homegrown kale, but I decided that the pair alone would likely not very satisfying. So I cut back on the serving of beans and threw in all the veggies! Don’t worry, I am not going vegan or vegetarian! I still like to include fish and meat into my diet but mixing it up keeps things interesting.

PaleOMGcasserole

… and lastly, more PaleOMG’s Almost 5-Ingredient Spaghetti (Squash) Pizza Pie casserole. The same as last week, except I used a yellow bell pepper (instead of red) with extra tomatoes, hold the pepperonis.

That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for keeping up with my semi-regular weekly updates. See you next time!

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Caramelized Orange Parsnips

I wrote this as I am wrapping up my 30-something-th episode of the Jane the Virgin on Netflix. That’s right, I’ve been binging but not in a hands covered with potato chip crumbs and chocolate smeared on my face kind of binging. But if I was binging on chocolate covered potato chips, would it be wrong? Those things are so yummy! Admittedly, the inner teenage girl in me fantasizes about romance (will Jane ever realize she wants to be with Rafael?? He’s such a hunk!) and relates to the trials and turmoil of early 20-something life (sorry, I still think Michael’s hiding something). Trust me, I’d rather watch it on TV than be living out baby-daddy-mamma drama (but can you even BELIEVE Petra did that??) so don’t judge me. Any fellow Jane watchers, I want to hear from you – but no spoiler alerts, please! I have two more seasons to watch.

When I thought about what recipe I wanted to share most this week, I thought about my favorite thing to make right now. Orange-glazed parsnips. This is what first came to mind. If you have tried my Orange-Roasted hens then this recipe is very similar, except you I’ve adjusted the ingredients and baking time to making the parsnips as their own dinner side dish. Or lunch. Or breakfast. I will eat roasted vegetables with all meals, especially when they taste freaking delicious.

 

When I was at the grocery store picking up ingredients for this recipe, the guy at the checkout eyed a mysterious looking bag of produce. Turns out, he did not know what in heck these white vegetable-things were. He tossed the bag aside and said I could have them for free. Sucks for him (dude, you are missing out!), but yay for me. I recommended that he give them a try. “Tastes like a sour carrot,” is how I always describe them. However, showering them with carmelized orange takes out the sour. Instead, it creates a sweet, citrusy glaze that will make you wonder why you waited so long to give parsnips a chance. They will appreciate you for it. I will appreciate you for it. They deserve some loving.

 

If you’re like the kid at the checkout and are a parsnip-virgin, let this recipe be your first (of many) parsnip experience.

 

Already a parsnip fan? I hope this encourages you to reach for something in the produce section that is  new!

 

As always, Don’t forget to leave me a comment below and share your feedback if you try this recipe.

 

Caramelized Orange Parsnips

 CaramelizedOrangeParsnips

 

Ingredients

 

About 1 pound of fresh parsnips, washed
1 orange, quartered
1 TB garlic powder
Sea salt, to taste
Avocado oil
Optional: fresh thyme

 

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice the ends off parsnips and set aside for composting or for bone broth. You can optionally peel the parsnips but I prefer to leave the skin on. Quarter each so that pieces are close to the same size. This is important to make sure all of the veggies roast evenly. Place all parsnips pieces onto baking sheet or oven-safe glass container. Coat liberally with avocado oil. Season with garlic powder and sea salt to taste. Place the quarters of orange on the pan, cut side up and slide into the oven!

 

Set a time for 15 minutes. At this point, I like to use tongs to carefully squeeze 1 – 2 of the orange quarters over the parsnips and give them a gentle stir. Check on the parsnips again in 10-15 minutes. Let them cool on the counter for 5 minutes before trying to squeeze the last of the orange over the parsnips and stirring once more to cover all pieces with the juice, as this is what will caramelize them.

 

Meal Round Up, Week of June 3rd

Today I’m bringing you a new kind of post today. I love to share what kind of dishes and treats I am cooking up in the kitchen, so I figured I would share it right here on the blog. How does that sound? I thought so! Let’s get to it.

MealRoundUp

 

Let me preface this first Meal Round Up. In case you missed my last post, I am back at home after spending 10 days travelling and camping across Utah and southern Idaho. I had an amazing time and it always feels good to take a step back from the everyday to get a fresh perspective. I look forward to sharing my tips for camp meals and eating healthy on the road!

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Admittedly, spending a week and a half living out a van (more on that later) allowed me to truly appreciate my kitchen upon my return home. I was ready to cook my socks off! Needless to say, I had to do a bunch of restocking because the only two items in the pantry were sweet potatoes and a bag of lemons in the fridge. To save some time planning out a week of meals, I stuck with tried and true recipes and easy to make dishes. Here’s a peak into what I ate this week.
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Breakfast: Two-Ways Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich, made with Paleo Cashew Bread, Venison bacon and Eggs, or Egg salad
My version of the ultimate open-faced breakfast sandwich. I made a loaf of paleo cashew bread, baked up some venison bacon and hardboiled a half-dozen eggs. For the “bread” I usually use a recipe I found on IG a couple years ago, and since it’s not my recipe (nor do I know who it belongs to) I don’t feel right sharing it. I recommend you google “paleo cashew bread” and something similar should come up! I ended up making my sandwich lightly toasted with eggs-over-easy on the mornings I was home and with my infamous egg salad on mornings I reported to the office. Trust me, everyone in the office just loves the smell of egg salad first thing in the morning. Usually  serve with a side of sautéed kale and mushrooms and steamed asparagus. Oh and my favorite toppings, pickled jalapenos and marinated onions (from the 21 DSD Daily Guide). So good!

 

PaleOMGPizzaPie
Dinner: PaleOMG’s Almost 5-Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie


This casserole has quickly become a favorite in my home. The recipe sets the base for a meal that can be customized using whatever your favorite “pizza” toppings are, or more simply, what vegetables and meats you have in the fridge! Because it requires some amount of prep (cooking and shredding the squash) and baking for about one hour, I usually double the recipe. The base is spaghetti squash, eggs, pizza sauce, and ground meat and veggies of choice – I like to add nutritional yeast, ground sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers and top with Applegate nitrate-free pepperonis. This dish is so frigging delicious and 100% paleo, which I love. I like to indulge and eat great tasting food but not at the risk of feeling crummy the next day, you feel me?

 

GF 3 Meat Pizza

Dinner: Gluten Free 3 Meat Pizza


We love live for gluten free pizza night! It is my go-to on night’s when the fridge is looking a little bleh, like the night we whipped this delicious slice of yummyness up for dinner. Prepared mixes make it super easy to throw a homemade and health conscious meal together in under an hour. I used a box of Chebe gluten free pizza crust mix that calls for an egg, oil and an optional cup of sharp cheese, for which I mainly substituted nutritional yeast. For the toppings: leftover shredded chicken, venison bacon, parmesan cheese, diced green peppers, mushrooms and pepperonis. The crust turns out a big on the chewy side and with a really great taste because of the nutritional yeast. While I love my Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pizza mix I do recommend trying this if you like chewy crust! You can purchase the mix on Amazon or Vitacost (like I did).

 

TBBChocoTahiniBrownie
Snacks: The Balanced Blonde’s SOS Choco-Tahini Brownies
TBB is not lying when she says these are the healthiest and fudgiest brownies you’ll ever find. Better yet, these *brownies* are to die for. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried what seems like hundreds of “healthy” dessert recipes and one of two things are usually the outcome. It either calls for some crazy ingredients you can’t find, or it tastes like crap and you still end up wanting to dive headfirst into a plate of Hershey’s chocolate fudge cake. But these brownies, Healthy √ Delicious √ . And, I’m not going to lie… I have been snacking on these for breakfast and after-dinner dessert. That’s right, a two-a-day kick. Why? Because the recipe is super clean and I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen. The best part? They’re just the right amount of *sweet* for me to be satisfying but not send me on a craze to eat the rest of the pan. If you can’t tell, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this recipe and modifying for your dietary needs!

 

ACVMorningMocktail
Drink: Morning ACV Mocktail
This drink has became my new morning routine! Cinnamon, cayenne pepper, Celtic sea salt, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. I like to combine everything in a big mason jar, squeeze my fresh lemon and top with cold, filtered water. Not only does it start the day on a healthy note but it tastes so refreshing, like sunshine. Too cheesy? Sorry, I only speak the truth!

 

Thanks for reading this week’s version of Meal Round Up! Have any comments to share or requests for more information/specific recipes? Drop me a line below!!

 

Disclosure: By making purchases through any of the links provided on this page I may receive a small kickback. Never worry, all thoughts, recommendations and opinions shared with you are my own and I will never recommend a product I don’t stand behind.

Cook Your Way to a Less-Stressed Week

Hello readers.

This post is all about how I make my life easier while ensuring that my week is full of solid, energy-sustaining meals from AM to PM. This approach to cooking has dramatically altered my ability to sustain healthier eating habits while still having a life. I’m so into making Meal Prep part of my weekly routine that I thought I could elaborate a little more (or a lot) to share the benefits and answers to questions I commonly get from people when they ask me how I always have so many meals on-hand. This post is a resource for anyone that is thinking of trying this cooking approach but doesn’t know where to start, has tried and failed, or doesn’t think that this is a system that will work for them but is still interested in knowing a little more.

There are a lot of misconceptions there that meal prep is a time-consuming, one-size-fits-all approach to eating boring, tasteless meals that last all week long. I’m hear to tell you that is wrong! Meal prepping is not a prison sentence, it is a gift to yourself. I will agree that this approach to cooking requires shifting priorities and spending a block a time on 1-2 days each week (we will call this Prep Day) to be in the kitchen. However, I find the return on this time investment to be priceless. Having a fridge full of prepared meals that are now grab-and-go makes it so easy to stay on track eating a well-rounded meal 3x/day and frees up time during the week to be spent elsewhere than in the kitchen.

Not ready to dive-in head first? You can adjust your approach week to accommodate the level of time involvement and prep work to which you are willing to commit. Consider Meal Planning or somewhere between the two as highlighted below:

Meal planning – low time investment; high level of flexibility; more time spent cooking each day

Meal planning and some prepping – moderate time investment; a mix of cooking each day and grab-and-go meals throughout the week

Meal prepping: high time investment on 1-2 days each week; prepares 3 meals/day for each day of the week

 

Benefits of Meal Planning, Prepping and the in-between

Time management: More time spent during Prep Day means time better spent during the week for my other hobbies, unanticipated events that pop-up, or last-minute urges to order pizza because I’m too tired to cook. And, because most of my meals are prepped for my work days, I spend less time thinking about what’s for dinner and more time going straight into the meal.

Saves Money: I buy only the grocery items that I need. Ever walk into the grocery knowing you need eggs and milk, only to walk out with a cart full of food?? Here is my solution: I plan my base meals for the week (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with a couple snack options time allots) and compile the grocery items necessary to make these meals happen. I go into the grocery store with a categorized list of items and stick to it. No more getting sidelined by the chips that are on-sale or the candy calling your name while you’ve got that sweet tooth.

Less Waste: This also goes along with saving money but, more importantly, I am a huge proponent of little-to-no waste. This is different than the “clean your plate” speech that you got as a child at the dinner table. This is specifically aimed at minimizing the amount of rotting fruits and vegetables on your counter or in the fridge each week. Did you know that food waste contributes to an estimated 21 percent of solid waste in landfills? Food is a precious resource. Produce takes a long time to get from a seed in the ground to a fruit-bearing plant (not to mention the time spent producing nutrient-rich soil) and wasting it is a selfish act, one that could easily be reduced (if not avoided). In short: Have a plan for the food, get the food and then eat the food.

Customizable: Prep Day can be customized to accommodate the level of time commitment available for that day. If you know that you don’t have time to spend prepping all of your meals, go ahead and prep your breakfasts and lunches. I find that breakfast and lunch are often the quickest meals to get together. Or vice versa. This isn’t rocket science, do what works for you. Once you start getting in the habit of doing this week to week, you can get the notion of what does and does not work for your weekly routine.

Adequate Intake of Nutrient-Dense Foods: What better way to ensure that you get adequate intake of your fats, proteins, greens and micronutrients than to plan it out at the beginning of the week? This is simple. At the end of a busy work day, you’re probably looking for the quickest way to get a healthy meal on you (and your family’s) plate. If you put time in at the beginning of the week and have gone the extra mile of prepping an array of solid meals, that nutrient-packed dinner is waiting for you in the fridge when you get home.

Common Obstacles & How to Tackle Them:

Cooking Skills, a.k.a. I’m not a wiz in the kitchen, or I don’t even know the proper way to slice an onion: There is no easy way to get around this one. Truthfully, investing in yourself via learning how to properly prepare food and cook a meal is worth it. Do you plan to (or already have) children? Do you have a spouse? If the thought of spending time in the kitchen suddenly has you feeling overwhelmed then it may be best to get help from a pro. Searching YouTube will get you a long way with this, but if you need hands-on teaching then look to Groupon for Cooking Classes in your area. Third option, invite a friend/family member over to cook dinner together. When they arrive, pour a glass of wine, take a seat and observe her technique. Keep her busy with some good conversation and before she realizes it, dinner will be ready and you just got yourself a free, live-in-person cooking show. Learning how to navigate the kitchen is an invaluable skill that you will only improve upon over the course of your lifetime. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Boredom, a.k.a. I don’t like leftovers, or I get bored eating the same thing everyday: Meal prepping doesn’t have to be boring! It can be as exciting as you make it and you do not have to eat the same thing everyday. Grilled chicken and veggies for dinner can become eggs with veggies for breakfast and grilled chicken on a salad for lunch the next day. I like to use my Meal Plan Matrix to get a good visual on how this will play out during the week (coming to the blog soon). Bonus: More cookbooks are starting to come out with this cooking approach in mind like Whole30 Quick & Easy, Ready or Not! By Nom Nom Paleo and 21 Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide that show you how to prepare food that can be repurposed in other recipes.

Creativity, a.k.a. I like to come up with my own kitchen creations: If this is you, I applaud you. While I can cook up a tasty meal from my imagination every now and then, I gravitate towards tried and true recipes to save time and streamline my process of food-to-table. Just as some of you like expressing creativity with your meals, some of us like the structure of a recipe. Those that claim meal prepping hinders creativity are likely the people that enjoy the act of cooking and being in the kitchen each night. Or, maybe you have little ones at home you want to get involved in the cooking process so the act of cooking a meal together is teaching time. My recommendation is to go with the Meal Planning option. Better yet – Recall one of those food reality shows where you are given a box of ingredients from which you have to make a meal. Treat meal planning in a similar manner. When you’re making your grocery list on Sunday, choose what ingredients you are going to put into your Tuesday’s box. And then Wednesday’s and Thursday’s.

Commitment, a.k.a. What if Tuesday night rolls around and I don’t like what I put on my meal plan?: Some people don’t like the commitment of having written something down, knowing they are going to have to stick to this day-to-day for the next seven days. I would refer to these people as Rebels and the best recommendation I have for self-identified Rebels who want to find a middle-road for this whole meal-prepping approach is this: Have a variety of prepared meals and know that you can mix them up during and throughout the days of the week. Put the kabosh on the “eggs are only for breakfast” thinking and consider any of your meals as breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

Have I covered it all? I hope I have given you some tips and ways to overcome any fears you may have of the thought of meal prepping. If not, leave a comment on the page below. I plan to elaborate more on each step of the process in later posts.

For my week, I have compiled my meal plan and kept my prepping to a minimum. I have meal prepped my breakfasts for the week (egg casserole loaded with veggies, hashed potatoes and chicken sausage) and prepared a crockpot for a Roast I will be letting cook tomorrow. In addition, I’m going to be experimenting with some recipes from Wired to Eat and cleaning out the freezer with last year’s meat, which will alternate between lunch and dinner meal options.

Have a great week and best of luck on your future meal prepping endeavors!

 

I may earn commission for any products recommended in this post, but I assure you that all opinions are mine! I will never recommend a product or service that I would not personally use or refer to a friend.

Kombooch-Me Baby!

Maybe you are new to the kombucha party, or maybe you’re still curious what this new drink craze is all about. Today I am giving the rundown on what it is, what makes kombucha magical and different ways to pour down the fun.

What is Kombucha??

Kombucha in it’s most simple form is black and/or green tea that has been fermented. Much like wine, the process of creating Kombucha starts with the tea, yeast, sugar and water. Before long the yeast has fed off the sugar and leaves behind the delicious drink we know and love. This drink has been growing in popularity for a couple of years now due to it’s variety of flavors, refreshing taste and as an alternative to soft drinks. It doesn’t hurt that it comes along with some amazing healthy perks! There are a TON of brands out there but the major ones you will likely see are your local grocer are KeVita, Health-ade, GT’s and Simple Truth. There are even DIY Homebrew Kombucha kits on Groupon and Amazon, which my research shows is super simple when you get the kit that comes with SCOBY (the yeast).

What makes Kombucha so good for you?

The health benefits of kombucha are plenty and include the promotion of a healthy gut, a hefty antioxidant punch, a source of B12 vitamins, improved cardiovascular health and the list could go on. Here is some of what I was able to dig up:

I ❤ My Gut: Much like the other fermented foods we love, fermented tea feeds the gut good bacteria (naturally created through the fermenting process) and you can usually find the probiotic count somewhere on each bottle. Because you’re reading a health blog, you probably already know that 70-80% of your immune system lives in the gut. When I hear that it translates to, I am what I eat and, more importantly, absorb. The more we learn about gut bacteria, the more important it is to incorporate these foods into our diets. Incorporating natural sources of probiotics aids in diversifying the strains and the number of bacteria living inside the gut to build a healthy immune system and fight off bad bacteria.

Antioxidants Unleashed: I cannot say no to beautiful skin and the cancer fighting protection provided by them! According to Dr. Axe, the act of fermenting black tea releases an antioxidant, called glucaric acid, that supports cellular function not found in black tea brewed by traditional methods. If you are not yet familiar with how GT’s started then click here and read their incredible story. Kombucha also increases the effectiveness of other antioxidants with the proven benefit of detoxifying, having an anti-oxidization effect and promoting the immune system.

B Vitamins: Hello, energy! There are claims that state fermented tea is a great source for B vitamins, particularly B12, that are created during the fermentation process. Most of us know B12 is responsible for lifting moods and supporting our metabolism to give us that energy boost!

Healthy Heart: A glass of kombucha is linked with a healthy ticker. Unfortunately, this claim has not been observed in the human-kind yet but it is worth mentioning the benefit. Healthline cites that kombucha is proven to improve the LDL and HDL cholesterol markers in animal studies. In addition, regular consumers of green tea is linked to a 31 percent reduction in risk of heart disease which should also be present green tea-kombucha drinkers.

How often should I drink it?

Personally, I like to enjoy a glass of this magical goodness on a couple nights out of the week in place of wine. The only caveat to this is that many different brands and flavors contain added caffeine and a great deal of sugar per serving (sugar added post-fermentation). Therefore, next time you’re shopping don’t forget to flip your bottle over and take a peek at that nutrition label. Sneaky sugars beware! I would aim for a selection with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving but awareness and mindful consumption is the main thing here. This is one of the reasons I like to enjoy my tea in a wine glass, as well as to magnify the experience of the effervescence from the bubbles and the pretty color. You can also, mix your glass with half tea and half sparkling water to reduce the amount of sugar in one serving while still enjoying the taste and health benefits.

What other magical powers does Kombucha harness?

Take your booch to the next level! This tea makes a great base for other drinks, including my Raspberry Lime Kombuch-ade that I recently posted on my IG @healthyrations

KomboochMeBaby
How to Mix: Mojito-Lime Mint Coconut Mojito (or any Lime-flavored Kombucha will do), a handful frozen raspberries, a few sprigs of fresh mint. Start with raspberries in your glass, followed by the tea and mint. You can leave the raspberries as they are to keep your drink cold, OR if you want a berry-er taste then you can muddle your berries to extract some of the juices into the rest of the drink. Now, enjoy!

Try this drink or experiment with some variations of your own!

Having a celebratory drink? Check out one of these:

Healthy Rations Berry Coconut Mixer – Raspberry Lemon flavored kombucha (I used KeVita Master Brew) with muddled raspberries and a shot of Carribean Coconut Rum. Add tea to desired taste.

Tone It Up’s Spicy Margarita recipe

GT’s Cayenne Margarita

 

What is your favorite way to enjoy Kombucha? Have you tried a home Kombucha brewing kit? Share with me by leaving a comment below!