Recipe Swap – Turkey Cutlet

The other day our store had a great sale on organic turkey breast cutlets.  We figured why not give them a try and see how they taste.  We like turkey enough on Thanksgiving and honestly the sale was too good to pass up.  We bought a few packs and froze some, which I’m not a fan of.  I prefer my food fresh, but with the price of organic chicken so high it was worth making an exception.

This weekend, we were in the mood for fried cutlets.  We don’t have them often, but we just really wanted some comfort food.  Of course I used my avocado oil for a healthier frying option (higher smoke point).  The cutlets were breaded and fried up then drained on paper towels to remove some of the oil.  While not the healthiest way to cook, they were juicy and delicious.  If my kids were still home I doubt they would have noticed they weren’t chicken.

Both turkey and chicken cutlets are healthy protein options for your meals.  They are quite similar in nutritional makeup with turkey coming in only slightly lower in calorie count.  The decision to eat one over the other will really come down to your personal taste preference.  For me it was a nice change of pace and I will definitely rotate them into my protein selection.  Here are two popular recipes that call for turkey cutlet that I’m making this week.

Turkey Cutlet Sandwich with Smoked Paprika Mayo and Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pound turkey cutlets
4 baguettes sliced in half
2 bell peppers sliced and roasted

Directions

  1. Mix mayonnaise and paprika.
  2. Season cutlets with avocado oil, paprika, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread mayo over cut side of toasted bread halves. Top each bottom half with cutlets, then 1/4 of peppers.

Turkey Cutlets with Lemon-Caper Sauce

Ingredients

Flour
1 pound turkey cutlets
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons capers
lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Make sure to trim your cutlets so they are thin.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and pepper; dredge turkey in mixture.
  3. Cook in skillet with avocado oil in batches, 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from skillet and cover to keep warm.
  4. Add white wine and lemon juice to skillet, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Cook 2 minutes or just until thoroughly heated.
  5. Stir in garlic and capers
  6. Spoon sauce over turkey.

 

I’m looking forward to trying out some other new recipes with my turkey cutlets.  These two are favorites for chicken cutlet, so I’m really just swapping out the meat.  If you have a turkey recipe you’d like to share, please post in the comments below.

 

Recipe Swap – Salad Dressing

What’s your favorite salad dressing?  Do you know what’s in it?  Take a look today at the bottle and see if you can read the ingredients.  Would you be surprised to learn that many salad’s contain as many calories as a Big Mac at McDonalds?  Adding too many toppings can be one danger, like meats, cheese, nuts and croutons.  The other add on that can sidetrack your healthy salad is the dressing you use.  Many store bought dressings are laden with chemicals and additives, many of which I can’t even pronounce.

I never buy salad dressing as I just don’t see the need.  It is super easy to whip up a dressing for your salad with clean ingredients so I don’t see the need.  My personal favorite is really just lemon juice and a touch of garlic infused avocado oil.  Doesn’t get any better than that, clean and healthy.  Next time you make a salad, go easy on the additions to it and consider making some fresh healthy salad dressing to top it.  Here are a few of my personal favorite recipes.

Lemon & Garlic Infused Avocado Oil

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic (I roast the bulb and chop the cloves for later use)
  • Olive Oil – for roasting garlic
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (if making family size you large serving spoon)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (more is fine, large serving spoon size for family salad)

Directions

  1. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic
  2. Place in ramekin and fill with olive oil to cover
  3. Roast in oven at 375 for 60 minutes
  4. Push 2 cloves of garlic out of skin and chop finely
  5. Mix avocado oil and lemon juice with garlic
  6. Top salad with mixture, stir and eat

You can make this with lime juice as well.  If you want the dressing creamier, add in 1 tsp of dijon mustard.  The left over roasted garlic can store for a few days in the refrigerator.  I use it in many recipes and my husband loves to use it as a spread.

 

Spicy Hummus Salad Dressing

When I have leftover hummus, I make a spicy hummus dressing which is adds protein to my lunch without adding meat.  It’s pretty delicious, but packs a punch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, plus more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Directions

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. Add more milk if you’d like a smoother consistency.

Recipe courtesy of Popsugar Fitness

Want to try this one but have no hummus at home, no problem.  Hummus is so easy to whip up if you have chickpeas.  Here’s my recipe for homemade hummus, but you may never have enough leftover for dressing.

 

Hummus with Red Pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed

Directions

  1. Put everything in a food processor and begin to process
  2. Add the chickpea liquid or water as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning

What do you top your salads with?  Please share in the comments below your recipe.  If you try either of these, let me know how you liked them.

Featured Ingredients

 

Recipe Swap – Pulled Chicken Sliders

Recently I tried pulled pork sliders while out for dinner.  I’m not a fan of pork or barbecue sauce, but will admit to loving that slider appetizer.  I’ve been thinking of it since and decided to spend some time trying to recreate it.  I also wanted to update it to try and make it slightly healthier.

My first swap was the meat.  While I enjoyed it out I prefer chicken to pork, so I decided to use pulled chicken.  We happened to have a half of a roasted chicken from Sunday, so I began shredding the white meat for sliders.  I also made some spicy coleslaw to top the sliders, as they did at the restaurant.  You can eat the meat without the buns if you are gluten free, or use romaine lettuce for your bun.

With use of left over chicken, this became a super easy, quick weeknight dinner.   And it was delicious!

Pulled Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (this is a fabulous spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast (organic hormone free rotisserie or slow roast is best)
8 sliders mini buns

Directions

  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add chicken to ketchup mixture; stir to combine.
  3. Cook 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.
  4. Spoon onto slider buns
  5. Top with spicy coleslaw

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

Recipe adapted from MyRecipes.com

If you want a little more heat, feel free to add a dash of hot sauce to your mix.  I was happy with the heat from the coleslaw.

Let me know how you like it if you make it!  If you have a pulled pork or chicken sandwich recipe to share, please leave comments below.

Recipe Swap – Chicken Pad Thai

I’ve been branching out and trying new recipes that I’ve never cooked before.  I’ve heard so many good things about Thai food, but have yet to try it.  I saw an easy recipe that I thought might be something I’d enjoy.  I decided against purchasing a ready made Thai sauce as I was unable to pronounce many of the ingredients listed on the label.  I used a recipe for homemade Thai sauce found below.  I did not include noodles, but I’m sure you could.  The recipe was super easy to follow and quick!  The whole process took about 30 minutes.  It will be perfect for a work night stir fry and no I don’t have a fancy wok – yet.  The taste of this was delicious, but it was a bit hot which I love.  I’m thinking the heat came from the serrano pepper and not the sauce, so go easy on that if you prefer it milder.

Pad Thai Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos (healthier alternative to soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tsp. organic hoisin sauce
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. organic ginger (I used minced ginger in jar)
  • 1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. organic cilantro
  • 1⁄2 tsp.  no-salt seasoning

Directions:

1. In a bowl combine all ingredients and set aside until needed for your stir fry.   Copyright © 2016 Danette May and Mindful Health, LLC

Chicken Stir-Fry:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 oz. chicken, cubed
  • 1 small serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Pad Thai sauce
  • 1 cubed organic zucchini
  • 1 chopped organic red bell pepper

Directions:

  1. In pan, add 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, zucchini, red bell pepper, chicken and minced Serrano pepper. Cook until chicken browns and is fully cooked. (I actually had leftover grilled chicken that I cubed so it was done real fast.  I cooked the vegetables for a bit first, then added the cooked, cubed chicken to warm.)
  2. Add pad thai sauce.
  3. Stir and warm.

Copyright © 2016 Danette May and Mindful Health, LLC

This was a meal by itself, no sides required but you could make a nice garden salad with it.  Be sure you have something to put out the fire in your mouth.  I drank ginger kombucha.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how you liked it.  It was part of a 30 day meal program I participated in recently with Danette May.

Some ingredients needed:

Nutrifera Organic Coconut Coconut Aminos 12.7 fl oz (375 ml)

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce, 20 oz

 

NoSalt Original Sodium-Free Salt Alternative 11 Ounce (Pack of 2)

 

 

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

I am a recent coleslaw lover much to the surprise of my husband who has spent 34 years hearing me say otherwise.  He’s feeling sad thinking that when we go to a diner I will no longer give him my share of it.  He really shouldn’t worry though because I won’t be indulging in a mayonnaise laden version of this staple side dish anytime soon.  I have tested a few healthier, lighter versions and found one that I’m especially loving so I’ll be eating my coleslaw right here in my home.

My first taste of coleslaw came recently at a dinner out.  It was on top of a pulled pork slider and man was I sold on it after the first bite.  I haven’t tried the pulled pork recipe hunt yet, but quickly got after a coleslaw recipe I’d enjoy.  Here’s what I’ve settled on for now.  Spicy, tangy and crunchy while reducing some of the mayonnaise fat.  I served it last night on top of some grilled chicken and boy was it a hit around here.

Spicy Coleslaw Recipe

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (I used green already shredded organic coleslaw mix)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 6 oz cottage cheese (I used goat cottage)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup coconut sugar ( I guess this could be optional but I used it)
  • Optional – add sprinkle of hot sauce (I didn’t but I will next time!)

Directions:

  1. Mix the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne pepper, vinegar, sugar until combined well.
  2. Begin to add the shredded cabbage until well coated.
  3. Chill covered for at least 2 hours.

I have some leftover right now in my refrigerator and can’t wait for lunch to crunch on some.  If you try this recipe, or have a version of coleslaw to share, please post it in the comments below.

Ingredients used in this recipe –

Natural Value Organic Sriracha Chili Sauce, 18 Ounce

I have to hide this from my husband who puts it on everything!

 

NOW Foods Organic Coconut Sugar,16-Ounce

Healthier option for recipes that call for sugar.  It is still sugar and should be used sparingly, but it does have a lower glycemic index.

 

Recipe Swap – Gluten Free Gnocchi

Sunday sauce and recipe testing just plain go together. Especially on a chilly, rainy Sunday with nothing to do. I am always looking for ways to make this staple meal healthier. I am not gluten intolerant, but do try to limit the amount of food I eat that contain gluten. Pasta is the first swap I made and I rarely eat pasta that contains gluten. This week’s recipe swap is a delicious, easy to make version of gluten free gnocchi.

Gnocchi are soft dumplings that can be made from semolina, potato or various other combinations of ingredients. The recipe I made today was gluten free and delicious. It was a big hit and the texture was for me perfect. Had I not made them myself I wouldn’t have known they were gluten free. I hope you give them a try.

Gluten Free Garlic Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, strained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 clove roasted garlic (optional)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp xantham gum

Directions:

  1. Strain ricotta cheese in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes.  Drying out the cheese will ensure your gnocchi are not too dense. (*Mine really didn’t have liquid in it but I did this step in case.)
  2. Roast garlic in a ramekin with olive oil at 250 ̊F (Chop the tops off one clove of garlic but leave the remaining shell on.)  Allow it to cool and then squeeze the garlic clove from the bottom and work your fingers up, pushing out the roasted cloves. Set half of the cloves aside for sauce (or another recipe).
  3. Mix all ingredients together to form a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. You want the dough to come together to form a ball but not be too dry or stiff, just easy enough to work with and roll without getting stuck to the table!
  4. Cut the dough into 4 sections and roll the first section on a lightly floured surface (using rice flour for gluten-free) into a long log about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a small paring knife to cut the log into 1 inch sections.
  6. Roll the gnocchi with a fork or gnocchi board to create indentations or simply set the gnocchi pieces aside on a foil lined tray.
  7. Continue this process with the remaining dough.
  8. If you will be using the gnocchi later, wrap the tray and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use.
  9. In a large pot, bring water to boil then add half the gnocchi to the boiling water (cooking the gnocchi in batches will prevent it from sticking together). Boil the gnocchi for about 3 minutes or until they float on the surface of the water.
  10. Strain and eat immediately.

*Recipe base on one shared by Integrative Nutrition with substitution of one ingredient

Happily this made enough for my family of three with some leftover for today.  If you have a large family I’d suggest doubling the recipe.  Not sure how they will reheat yet, but I’m sure they will be just fine.  I didn’t bother rolling the gnocchi on my fork to make the dents, but I included those instructions should you want to do so.  For me the soft pillowy clouds were just fine as is.

Please let me know if you try them how you like!  If you have a recipe you’d like to share for an upcoming blog, please let me know in the comments and I’ll contact you directly.

Ingredients used:

Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Rice Flour – 24 oz

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Xanthan Gum, 8-ounce

 

 

Recipe Swap

Pizza has long been one of my favorite foods.  I look forward to eating it at least once a week.  When I was younger, I could eat pizza five days a week for lunch and not blink an eye.  I probably could still eat it five days a week, but I’d have to blink both eyes now.

Growing up in Middle Village, everyone ate pizza at Carlo’s Pizzeria.  When we go home, we all flock back to Carlo’s for a slice of the best pizza in New York.  My family really couldn’t afford to order pizza often, but when we did what a delicious treat.  I’m guessing my love affair with pizza can be traced back to those carefree days growing up in the best small town ever.

Flash forward many years and I still love pizza.  I wouldn’t say I ever found a pizzeria that I love as much as my childhood one, but Staten Island has some darn good pizza.  The thing is as I’ve continued on this journey, I’ve worried about the quality of the ingredients being used in these commercial pizza pies.  We all know there are corners to be cut and money to be saved when running a business.  I don’t want my health to be connected to anyones bottom line.  I want to ensure that my pizza is made with the healthiest, freshest organic ingredients out there.  The only way I know to do this is to make it myself.

I’ve been making homemade pizza for years now and I must say once you make the switch you may never go back to store bought.  It’s really not a complicated process and knowing each ingredient used puts my mind at ease.  It’s been a journey of trial and error to perfect the recipe.  When I first started, I was buying the dough already made, but that sort of defeats the purpose of making homemade.  And, please don’t use jar sauce on it either.  If you are committing to your health and taking the time to make the pizza at home, please be selective about your ingredients, as well as toppings.

Here are a few options for the pizza crust, some healthier than others.  If you are not gluten free, consider using my favorite crust.

Ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients in order listed to your bread machine.
  2. Use Pizza Dough setting
  3. When finished let dough rest for at least 5 minutes before using
  4. Place on lightly greased pizza pan
  5. Add sauce, cheese, etc.
  6. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes (check readiness before removing from oven)

Here’s the directions if you do not have a bread machine, but I highly recommend getting one.  You can also buy a dough attachment for your Kitchen Aid mixer.  I have this as well, but prefer the bread machine as it takes the dough through the whole cycle including rising without me standing there.  Here are the directions if you do not have either of those options,

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water.
  2. Beat in ½ flour.
  3. Add salt, oil and rest of flour (add more if needed to make handle-able dough).
  4. Rise in lightly oiled bowl.
  5. Place on lightly greased pan.
  6. Add sauce, cheese, etc.
  7. Bake at 400 20 minutes.

Here are two options for dough making at home:

Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine, 2-Pound Bread Maker with Gluten-Free Setting (29882)

Mine is an older version, but I like that this one has a gluten free setting. I may have to upgrade!

KitchenAid Burnished Aluminum C-Dough Hook

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

I experimented with gluten free versions, but since I am not gluten intolerant and only eat pizza once a week I don’t often make it.  Here’s the recipe I found the easiest to make and closest in taste to traditional pizza dough.  Further, it’s one of the only ones that didn’t have an ingredient list a mile long and is pretty darn good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water, divided
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water. Too hot and it will kill the yeast! Let set for 5 minutes to activate.
  2. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour blend, salt, baking powder and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
  4. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water before stirring. Then stir it all together until well combined, using a wooden spoon.
  5. Lightly coat a baking sheet or pizza stone with non-stick spray and plop your dough down. Using your hands and a little brown rice flour if it gets too sticky, work from the middle and push to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge. You want it to be pretty thin – less than 1/4 inch.
  6. Put the pizza in the oven to pre-bake for roughly 25-30 minutes, or until it begins to look dry. Cracks may appear, but that’s normal and totally OK.
  7. Remove from oven and spread generously with your favorite pizza sauce, cheese and desired toppings. Pop back in oven for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust edge looks golden brown and the toppings are warm and bubbly.
  8. Cut immediately and serve.

Recipe Credit: Minimalist Baker.com

If I update my bread machine, perhaps I can revisit this recipe and use the machine for the dough.

Cauliflower Crust

I’m including the recipe here, but I’ve only tried it once.  It was just OK for me, but my friends loved it.  I am a traditional pizza girl at heart and if I’m eating it, I want the real deal.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds cauliflower florets, riced
1 egg, beaten
⅓ cup cheese for topping
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. To make the cauliflower rice, pulse batches of raw cauliflower florets in a food processor, until a rice-like texture is achieved.
  3. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the “rice” and cover; let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain into a fine-mesh strainer.
  4. THIS IS THE SECRET: Once you’ve strained the rice, transfer it to a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, then SQUEEZE all the excess moisture out! It’s amazing how much extra liquid will be released, which will leave you with a nice and dry pizza crust.
  5. In a large bowl, mix up your strained rice, beaten egg, goat cheese, and spices. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands! You want it very well mixed.) It won’t be like any pizza dough you’ve ever worked with, but don’t worry– it’ll hold together!
  6. Press the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It’s important that it’s lined with parchment paper, or it will stick.) Keep the dough about ⅓” thick, and make the edges a little higher for a “crust” effect, if you like.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400F. The crust should be firm, and golden brown when finished.
  8. Now’s the time to add all your favorites– sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you like.
  9. Return the pizza to the 400F oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, just until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
    Slice and serve immediately!

Author: Detoxinista.com
A grain-free alternative to traditional pizza crust, that you can pick up with your hands!

This recipe and other easy recipes can be found in this book –

Everyday Detox: 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and Lose Weight Naturally

If you have a favorite homemade pizza recipe, please share it below.  I’d absolutely love to try it!

 

Taking the Plunge

What do you do when you need to try something new?  Do you hesitate, or jump right in?  Do you try every new thing you encounter, or are you cautious and selective?  I am the cautious and selective type.  I like to read and research before taking the plunge, especially when it comes to what I put into my body.  I want to be healthy and not fall victim to the mind robbing disease that has devastated my family.  I must admit it is hard with so many “things” out there.  I get emails, see videos, advertisements on Facebook and encounter people who truly believe in programs on a daily basis.  If I took the plunge each time, I’d be broke and most likely still in the same boat.

The way I stay focused is to remember my why.  My why is to remain healthy, active and maintain my memories long into my 90s.  With this in mind, I must remain careful about what I eat and drink.  My philosophy around nutrition is that food is fuel for my body and the means to remaining healthy.  These weight loss programs sound so darn appealing and I must admit those who have had success are totally passionate and committed to them.  The before and after photographs are so inspiring and I am extremely happy for them all.  But, I just can’t do them.  Those programs are not for me as I don’t want to get my nutrition from powders and pills and often if you dig deep enough the ingredients are not totally pure.

With the exception of Purium, a program which I’ve yet to find any bad ingredients in, most of the other programs have at least one ingredient that just won’t work for me personally.  I did use Purium for a while last year and will say I had no problem buying it.  I truly didn’t mind the expense and it was expensive.  My only problem with some of their drinks was the taste.  For me, they just didn’t taste good.  I am a fan of the Apothe Cherry drink and like to drink that at bedtime.  I found a version that cost less though and has the same impact for me.

Dynamic Health Tart Cherry Turmeric and Ginger Tonic Supplement, 16 Ounce

I mix 2 tbs of this juice with 8 oz of water and drink about 30 minutes before I go to bed.  You can drink it straight, but I prefer to dilute it.

Last week, I told you I was planning to do a 10 day green cleanse and shared the book I use with you.  I cleaned up my act this week for sure, but still was not able to feel totally on track again.  It just feels like there is something every day that gets in the way of my nutrition.  I made better choices and definitely lost 5 pounds, but I’m still not satisfied that I’m fueling my body properly.

This week I attended two days of professional development, not for nutrition mind you.  As part of the presentation, the presenter was sharing his struggles with weight loss.  As he talked, he shared an app that he was using to keep focused.  I am not a fan of programs, but found myself at a center signing up that very afternoon.  I have decided to do this program only because –

  1. I get to prepare and cook my own food.
  2. I don’t have to count or think about anything.
  3. I will get daily feedback on my journey.

I signed up at Weight Watchers not because I need them to tell me how to eat, what to eat or why to eat that way.  Believe me I know that already.  I signed up because they have made it so easy to monitor what I am doing on a day to day basis.  I love the app (yes I know I could just use a free app) and how simple they have made it to track my day.  Yes, the program is about tracking points and that’s just fine.  Yes, I’m aware that it really is about counting calories and portion control.  Yes, I know that I need to eat healthy fats and this program attempts to limit that, but I think I can make this work to keep me focused and get me back on track.

Right now, I can eat 30 points a day.  My superfood coffee counts as 9.  Though they would encourage me to swap that out, I know I need the healthy fat it contains and that in the long run it connects to my why.  I am able to eat vegetables and fruits as low point and no point options.  So, of course you know this will motivate me to increase my intake of those foods from my least favorite food group.  The best feature of all is I don’t have to convert or count anything to figure out points.  I get to simply scan the barcode and it’s there, or type in the food.  Thank you for this wonderful feature!  Lastly, you get points to swap the more you move which sure motivated me to take an extra walk last night with my dog.

Am I excited about the program itself, not so much.  Am I excited to have a focus to get me ready for training, yes!  This sign up for me was for a 3 month pass.  Just enough time to get ready to toe the line for my marathon training program which officially starts in June.

I’d love to hear your success and failure with Weight Watchers.  Please feel free to share below, or shoot me an email.

Recipe Swaps

When I first gave up drinking dairy milk, I switched over to store bought nut milks.  While there are many healthy options available, I soon learned just how easy it is to make these milks at home.  I was excited by this as I love to cook and wanted to have control over what is actually in my milk.   As an added bonus, I am never without fresh delicious nut milks to use in my smoothies and/or meals.  When you find out just how simple it is to make, I believe you will join me in whipping up a fresh batch.

Things you need to have on hand to make fresh nut milks at home are nuts (any type you wish to use), cheesecloth or what I bought – a nut milk bag (to strain the milk) and glass jars (to store milk).

My favorite recipe:

Cashew Nut Milk (My favorite nut milk)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 3cups filtered water, plus more for soaking cashews
  • one whole pitted date
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water (I use filtered water to soak)
  • Soak cashews for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
  • Strain the cashews and add to your blender, along with the date and vanilla
  • Slowly add clean filtered water to your blender and blend until you reach desired consistency.  I like mine creamy, so 3 cups works.  If you like yours thinner, just add a little more water until it’s the consistency you want.
  • Strain the milk through a nut bag, or cheese cloth into your glass jar. (You can actually eat the strained creamy thick paste if you wish.  It’s a healthy, tasty snack.  Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and add some fruit.)
  • Store milk in refrigerator in your glass jar for up to 3 days.

This recipe can be used with any nut.  I’ve tried almond, pecan and cashew.  Cashew is my personal favorite, but they’ve all been delicious.  I use whatever nut I have in the house at the moment I want milk.  My daughter has now switched over as well and loves using this in her macaroni and cheese recipe.

Here’s the supplies I use:

Pro Quality Nut Milk Bag – Big 12″X12″ Commercial Grade – Reusable Almond Milk Bag & All Purpose Food Strainer – Fine Mesh Nylon Cheesecloth & Cold Brew Coffee Filter – Free Recipes & Videos (1)

Libbey Glass Milk Bottle with Lid – 33.5 oz

 

I am a huge fan of simple, easy cooking.  I was surprised and excited when I learned how easy making nut milk at home was.  I’m hoping you’ll try it.  Let me know how you like it!

Thursday Tips & Tricks

Snacking can be a recipe for disaster for me.  I often crave chocolate and thought that if I ate a protein bar it would be a better choice for a snack.  On days when I crave sweeter fare, I often grabbed a granola bar.  While these are better choices, if you spend some time reading the ingredients on many of these bars, you often find a long list of items.  Not all of these bars are healthy and many may contain processed foods and even fructose.

When I worked with a nutritionist during my last training cycle, she actually called out my habit of reaching for these bars.  She made me realize there are many other healthier choices available to me.  I began exploring with some of her recipes and even creating healthier versions at home.

This weeks tips is to try making your own bars and snacks at home for healthier versions.  These are my two favorite recipes which are both super easy to make and delicious to eat.

HEALTHY 5-INGREDIENT GRANOLA BARS
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 5 mins
Total time 15 mins

Ingredients
1 heaping cup packed medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup creamy salted natural sun butter or almond butter
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
1 1/2 cups rolled gluten free oats
optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.

Instructions

  1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
  2. Toast your oats (and almonds if raw) in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
  3. Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.
  4. Warm maple syrup and sun butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  6. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened – I use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
  7. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn’t necessary.
    Notes
    *Although not ideal, if your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. But ideally, you can find fresh, sticky moist dates.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 217 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 31 g Sugar: 19 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 6 g

Author: Minimalist Baker

Pecan Butter Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

For the Pecan Butter

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 10 Deglet dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Coating

  • 2 tbs virgin coconut oil
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the pecan butter: Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and roast in coven for 8 minutes, stir after 4 minutes.  Allow pecans to cool completely.
  3. In Vitamix or food processor, combine pecans, dates and cinnamon.  Pulse or blend on high until smooth.  Do not overprocess – should be thick.
  4. Use your hands to roll the pecan butter into bite size balls.  Place on baking sheet.
  5. To make the coating: Place the oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, stir in the maple syrup and cocoa powder until smooth.
  6. Drop one ball at a time in the chocolate coating, use a fork to lift out.  Return to the baking sheet.  Top each truffle with a pinch of salt.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes or until ready to eat.
  8. Store in airtight container, lined with parchment paper, in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

These are super delicious and make a wonderful bite size afternoon snack!

Author: Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

These chocolate bites and many other healthy recipes can be found in one of my favorite cookbooks.  I highly recommend this book, even if you are not a runner.  Easy to cook meals and snacks can be found inside the pages of this book.

Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes

Do you have a favorite recipe to share?  Please post it below in the comments.  If you try these, please post your thoughts below.  Enjoy!

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