Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Curry - Clean Eating


Disclaimer: I don't often make curry and I am in no way claiming that this is any kind of authentic Indian recipe. It turned out delicious, which is why I chose to share it with you. But I don't want anyone to get upset because this isn't "real" curry. Yeah, I know. But since it has curry in it, that's what I'll call it for now. :)

Ingredients:
1 tbs coconut oil
1 small vidalia onion (chopped to your liking)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 c. crushed tomato
2 sweet potatoes chopped into 1" cubes
1 can lite coconut milk
1 tbs Red Thai Curry
2 tbs Lemon Curry
1 c. hot water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can of chick peas, rinsed
1.5 tbs sweet basil
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp white pepper
handful of fresh mint
handful of fresh cilantro

Directions:
In a big pot (I used a dutch over because it heats evenly), melt coconut oil and add in onion and garlic and sauté until golden. (Be sure to not burn - trust me, burned garlic tastes toxic!) Add in sweet potatoes and continue to stir. Let them sweat together (pan party!). Add tomato paste and tomato sauce and stir. Add coconut milk and dry spices (basil, nutmeg, pepper, and curries). Stir consistently. In a separate cup/mug, dissolve the bouillon cubes in the cup of hot water and then add to the pot.

So this part kind of depends on how the sweet potatoes were cut and how long it took to do all the previous steps, but basically you will continue to simmer all of these ingredients together until the potatoes are fork tender. When they are close to being done (maybe need another 5 minutes or so), add in the can of chick peas and the fresh herbs. Stir, let cook for a few more minutes, and then remove from the heat.

Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or alone! I garnished mine with a sprinkle of goat cheese to tamp down all that spice, but feel free to leave it off or add any other garnish you may like - even a dollop of plain greek yogurt could do the trick. Also, if you wanted to up the protein content, you can certainly add in some chicken breast (I'd cook that with the onions and garlic and sweet potatoes before the liquids are added.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

BEST Paleo Bread EVER

I have been experimenting a lot with Pinterest recipes since I've started clean eating and to say it's been hit or miss is a bit of an understatement. Most of my attempts have turned out okay and just need some tweaking, but this bread.... dear lawd, this bread is really freakin' perfect. It's like real bread!

First of all, I'm not gonna lie, coconut flour tastes like sand. Add it to a liquid and it tastes like wet sand. Pretty much every recipe I've tried with coconut flour I've ended up throwing away. So when I saw that this was made with coconut flour, I was not hopeful. But I figured, what the hell?! And I'm so glad I did.

As I was preparing it, I will admit, I was doubtful. I wanted to take pictures of me making it, but it was a little bit of a shit show and my kitchen looked like a battle scene. It wasn't incredibly complicated per se, but it required three different bowls, and a boat load of utensils (or maybe that's just me). I made a mess and looking at the consistency of the batter, I was ready for another Pinterest failure. But alas, I was wrong! This bread is freakin' fantastic. So thank you to the genius who dreamt this up - I will certainly be making it again.

The only thing is that most of the ingredients are super easy to find, which I always love. I am turned off when a recipe includes some crazy rare ingredient that no one has ever heard of and needs to be ordered online or something. The only one that may take a little bit of looking is "Arrowroot Starch/Flour." I found it pretty easily as my local larder and I think you can get it easily at the grocery store, but personally, I've never looked for it there. So I hope that's true. Or else I'd understand your reticence to try it.

Click here to be redirected to the recipe's site. I wanted to be sure to give credit where credit is due. So thank you "My Natural Family" for the great recipe!
If you try it, let me know how it turns out for you!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Clean Eating - Grapefruit Avocado Salad

I don't know how I feel about Grapefruit. I've never been keen on it. If you were to watch me eat it, you'd think I was being forced at gun point. I make faces and swallow dramatically, and then think "Huh... that's not so bad," stick another bite into my mouth, and BAM crazy face again.

But it boasts such great health benefits that I decided that I was going to like it come hell or high water. Basically, I don't love eating it plain. This much I have discovered. But in recipes, I'm kind of a BIG fan. This is my latest creation and I, not only ate it in record time,  but was tempted to make myself another heaping bowl! It is crazy delicious. Is super refreshing. And is really healthy! Does it get any better than that?! 


Grapefruit Avocado Salad

(Portions are adjustable. Depends on how much you want to make and for how many people. These are the measurements I use for a single meal-sized serving.)

3/4 c. grapefruit slices (I cut them into 1" pieces) And I use Del Monte Grapefuit slices No Sugar Added (Don't use the juice)
1/2 avocado (cut into cubes)
1.5 tbs chopped fresh mint
1-2 tbs crumbled goat cheese
2 tbs pignoli nuts (or any kind of nuts really. Walnuts would be yummy!)
3 oz of protein - I use grilled chicken but I feel like grilled shrimp would be pretty great in this too!
1 tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Squeeze of lemon
Pinch of salt (Can be omitted if you are watching your sodium intake)

Suuuuuper simple instructions. 
Just cut up all of the ingredients into bite-size pieces. Put into a bowl and dress lightly with the EVOO, squeeze of lemon juice, and pinch of salt. Mix well and then chow down! 

Let me know how you like it in the comments below! Bon Appétit!

Clean Eating - My New Weapon in my Battle

A month ago I went to the doctor and received some news that kind of rocked my world. Now in the grand scheme of things, it isn't the worst. Not anything life-threatening or devastating. But to me, it was pretty upsetting. After battling with my weight my entire life, and continuing to battle every single day, the doctor informed me that the medicine that they had put me on caused me to gain 15 pounds in only a three month period. I kind of had a meltdown. After losing 100 pounds about five years ago, I've slowly been creeping up and then plateauing and then up a few pounds, in spite of the fact that I work out most days a week and watch what I eat. Then add in this new medicine and I am not happy with where I find myself today.

So that day, after bawling my eyes out on my way home from the doctor, I decided I was going to try to eat clean. No more sugar. No soda. No bread. No pasta. No alcohol. Nothing processed. At all. And for the past month, I have been militant and borderline obsessive about sticking with it. No cheats at all. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and have been incorporating strength training into my usual cardio routine. I'm taking my vitamins. I'm doing everything I am supposed to do.

I've been too afraid to get on the scale to see the progress so far. Because if it has gone up, in spite of this drastic change, I don't know what I'll do. But I've been keeping my measurements and they've stayed about the same.

I'm not going to allow myself to become discouraged. This stuff takes time and I am looking at my clean eating lifestyle as a challenge, almost like a game. How can I make awesome delicious choices from only these ingredients? How can I transform my (old) favorite things to eat into clean recipes? I think the challenge has made me want to stick with it. Plus, I am excited about how I don't really miss a lot of what I used to eat. The first few weeks were tough, but now, I don't crave sugar or soda. Not gonna lie, I miss bread though. I have an Oprah-style love for bread. But I just have to mentally tell myself that it's not worth it. It's not worth undoing all of the good that I've worked so hard to do.

The hardest part is going out or being social while on this kind of diet. Everyone wants to "meet up for a drink" or "grab dinner," both of which are very hard to do when you have no control over how things are prepared. It's all good, and it's the price I have to pay until I figure this all out. I am focused. And I need to get back on track. So if this is the way to do it, then I am going to do whatever it takes to get back where I want and need to be.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fantastic Double Chocolate (Pretty Healthy) Banana Muffins

Fantastic Double Chocolate (Pretty Healthy) Banana Muffins

3 ripe bananas (nice and mushy and sweet... ohhh yeeaahh)
1 egg
1/3 c. coconut oil OR applesauce (I didn't have applesauce in the house, so coconut oil worked great!)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract or one of each
1 c. of "dry ingredients" (I have been experimenting with this and changing it every time I make them. I think my favorite is 1/2 c. almond meal/flour and 1/2 c. white flour - but it's also great if you replace one of those with oat bran or any kind of nut flour/meal. I used ground up hazelnuts once. 1/2 c. hazelnuts right into the blender. Boom. So any combination of those ingredients to make up 1c. will work)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 c. Hersey's cocoa powder (either regular or dark would work)
1/2 c. - 3/4 c. chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips bc I prefer dark chocolate and I like that they are less sweet, and apparently more healthy, but who knows?!)
SECRET INGREDIENT: 1 tbs high quality (thick) balsamic vinegar - I used Espresso flavored B.V. that I bought at a specialty store and I really think it made ALLL the difference. I feel like if you can't find the good stuff, you should probably skip it. Buuut great BV is awesome in a ton of stuff - salad dressings, on grilled chicken, on roasted veggies, so don't feel like you'd have to buy a bottle just for this recipe. It'll be worth the purchase!
     UPDATE: If you do not have the thick high quality balsamic vinegar that I described above (as I didn't in one instance and was forced to experiment), try 1 tbs of instant coffee grinds (or 2 tbs prepared espresso) and 1 tbs of regular balsamic vinegar. Truth be told, it's not as good, but it's a fair substitute in terms if taste and consistency!

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixer (or use hand-mixer), I always put the bananas in first and then let the mixer keep going on low while I throw the other stuff in so that they can soften (egg, applesauce/oil, vanilla, coffee grinds/espresso, balsamic vinegar). Mix in brown sugar until combined and the bananas are broken up pretty well. There may still be some chunks and that's okay, but you want to get it as smooth as you can, that's why I just let it keep running as I add stuff in.

Then I throw in the salt, baking soda, baking powder. Let it mix.
Turn off the mixer for a second and add the "dry ingredients" in, be it oat bran/flour/almond meal, whatever you choose. (It's too messy to try and pour them in while the beater is revolving.) Turn back on and mix well.

Turn off again. Add in the cocoa powder. Restart mixer and incorporate thoroughly. And finally, in go the chocolate chips. Do a happy dance since you know that adding those chocolate chips in just made this recipe 15x more awesome. Stir until combined. The consitencey should be loose like a batter, not tight like a dough. If it's too tight, add in liquid. A little HOT water always does the trick. Just add a little at a time though. And if it's too loose, more dry ingredients. You get the drill.

Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon or whatever to fill a greased cupcake tin until your heart's desire. You can use cupcake liners too, but I never do.

Pop them in (ideally on the middle rack) for 18-22 minutes depending on the size of the muffins you make and the temperature of your oven. If you make mini muffins, the cooking time may even be less so set the timer for 12 and then increase in increments of 2 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. You do not want to overcook them so watch them closely. When I use a regular size cupcake tin and fill them all the way, I usually set my timer for 20 minutes and then have to put the timer on twice more at four minute increments, or so. The main thing is that you want to make sure not to overcook/dry them out. That would be no fun. And when you insert a toothpick into the center, a little goo at the end of the toothpick is okay, but a lot of goo or a soaking, sloppy toothpick is no bueno.

Overall, for this recipe, my best advice is to use this as a guideline and play with it as you continue to make your batches. I keep adding things and taking them out, depending on what I have available in my house, and EVERY TIME they come out amazing. If you like nuts, add nuts! If you like coconut, add coconut! Peanut butter? Yeah, you get the gist. Just be sure to kind of keep the measurements and ratios the same in terms of wet ingredients vs. dry ingredients. Or as close to the same as possible.

Wait until they are cool enough and pull them out of the tin and set on a flat surface. And voila! Yummy treats for day or night. If I'm being a real bad girl, I love them with a little cream cheese on them, but usually, au natural with a glass of cold milk is the way to go.

Bon appetit!


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Recipe for AMAZING Aussie Bite Dupes!

     A few months ago I went to Costco and they were featuring an oatmealish, energy snack called "Aussie Bites". I'm pretty sure I looped around the aisle like six times to keep sneaking samples. The wonky, sideways glances I was getting from the Cosco worker was well worth it... and a little deserved. Anyway, they were amazing but 1) I don't live near a Costco, 2) They mentioned that only certain Costcos carry them, and 3) I wanted to see if I could make a healthier version and know exactly what I was putting in them. So I found a few recipes online, tinkered with them a bit, and devised my own. And I must say, they are pretty damn awesome. 
     I feel confident that I (maybe with some help from you guys!) could tinker with them to make them even more healthy. I'm thinking of replacing the flour with oat bran and replacing the butter with more coconut oil perhaps? I think those are the least healthy components of the recipe, but I'm working on some solutions. In the meantime, these are still pretty healthy and are incredibly satisfying. Eat them for breakfast with your coffee or crumble them into some yogurt - YEEHAW! So so great. Enjoy and let me know how it goes!




Magical Aussie Bite Dupes

Ingredients: 

1 c wheat or white flour
1 c almond flour
1 c chopped dates
1/2 c flax seed
2/3 c brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbs hot water
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 stick butter
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
2 c oats


Instructions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In a mixer affixed with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Once creamed, add egg. 
3. In a food processor, chop up dates until they are pretty darn chopped. The food processor may hit a point where all the dates kinda clump up and stop chopping. That should be chopped enough. Then add dates to mixer and mix. 
4. Add flax seeds, coconut, and baking soda. Mix well. 
5. Now start adding the dry ingredients in slowly (about a half cup at a time), starting with the flour (almond and white/wheat), then add in the oats. Add in the hot water as needed while you mix in the dry ingredients to keep it moving. The mixture shouldn't be too wet or too dry. 
6. Spray a cupcake pan with cooking spray. Use a cookie scooper to fill cupcake pan (one scoop per space). 
7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and transfer to cooling rack. 

Recipe usually yields 24-36 muffins (depending on scoop size). 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Recipe for the Best Roasted Beet Salad EVER!

No seriously, this is the greatest salad you'll ever eat. I made a ton of it and then ate it for almost two weeks straight. Healthy. Refreshing. Downright magical. Try out my crazy creation and let me know what you think!




Roasted Beet and Sautéed Fennel Citrus Salad

Ingredients: 
Three large beets
2 mangos (I used jarred ones that I bought at Costco and just used 3-4 strips. I know that sounds weird, but it sure beats peeling mangoes!)
1 can of pineapple chunks (in juice) or fresh pineapple, whichever you prefer 
2 bulbs of fennel
1/2 c. slivered almonds
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons or an orange
Juice of 2 limes 
1 orange 
Chile flakes 
Fresh mint
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Salt (I use Himalayan Sea Salt because it is full of awesome minerals and is nice and salty!)
Pepper

Instructions: 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Peel beets with a vegetable peeler, cut into chunks, coat in EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Take out of over and let cool to room temperature. Place in a large bowl.
3. Peel mangos, chop into cubes, and add to bowl. 
4. Drain pineapple (save juice for another day) and add to bowl. (If you use fresh pineapple, it is one more level of awesome if you grill the pineapple before cutting it up and adding it in.)
5. Grab the fennel, slice off the fronds (leafy bits), and the green stalks. Cut the bulb in half and then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with EVOO and sauté fennel until golden brown. Add just a pinch of salt to help with the browning process. I like mine SUPER brown - nice and caramelized, but cook it how you like. Once it's cooked to your liking, remove from heat, and let cool to warm/room temperature. Throw in the bowl.
6. Toast the slivered almonds just to bring out the flavors. Just be sure not to burn them. Once toasted, throw them in the bowl. 
7. Peel orange, cut into chunks, add to the bowl. 
8. Add in the juice of the Meyer lemons and the limes.
9. Add a sprinkle of chile flakes for a kick of heat. If you don't like heat, don't add this in. It'll still be delicious. 
10. Chop up fresh mint and add to the bowl. 
11. Mix contents of the bowl together. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

12. Eat until your heart's content! Serve it at room temperature or serve it cold. It's delish either way!

Some possible add ins:
If you want it to be a bit more hearty or fibrous, you can always add in some 

cooked brown or wild rice.
And if you are looking for a bit more protein, it would be great with some grilled 

chicken or roasted pork.
Also, feel free to halve this recipe - it makes a ton!