Category Archives: Snacks

Simple Summer Side Salad

Friends! I know it’s been awhile. I’ve missed you.

Well, happy Friday, for starters!

I wanted to send you into the weekend with this fun little recipe. It’s the perfect summery side dish or snack.

Best part? It’s healthy! (Obviously.)

Second best part? It’s easy!

Now, who doesn’t love that combination?

Okay, here we go…

ORANGE COUSCOUS

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 10 dried apricots, chopped* 
  • 2 tablespoons dried raisins*
  • 3 medium carrots, shaved and chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • drizzle of olive oil at the end (optional)
  • 2 persian cucumbers, chopped and added at the end (optional)

*Dried fruit should be organic, unsulphured and with no added ingredients – just apricots or raisins

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour couscous into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a small pot, combine water, orange juice, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the dried fruit. Let simmer for about 1 minute.
  3. Give it a quick stir and then pour the liquid mixture over the dry couscous. Stir to eliminate any dry pockets. Add the carrots on top and then cover with a plate or towel to keep in the heat.
  4. The couscous will cook in 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. When the couscous is cooked, stir in the carrots and add in the pine nuts and cucumber. You may opt to drizzle olive oil on top.
  6. Best served cold or at room temp.

Now, some people don’t love couscous. That’s okay. For example, in my house the Hubby doesn’t like it so that means more for me. No complaints. 🙂

While couscous works best in this recipe, if it’s not for you, you can choose a different grain…or non-grain. Buckwheat is a heartier choice and arguably even healthier.

Why? Well, it’s gluten-free because it’s not actually wheat, despite its misleading name. It’s a seed related to rhubarb and it’s a great source of protein, fiber, complete essential amino acids, zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. Plus, it’s whole grain and very versatile, great in a sweet or savory dish.

I recommend Eden Organics Buckwheat. You should cook the buckwheat first (takes 30 minutes) or make it in advance. Then add the ingredients to it as you would uncooked couscous and the results should be similar. BUT, you should reduce the liquid substantially, since the buckwheat is already cooked. I’d say probably 1 tbsp of water, 1/4 cup of orange juice and 1/4 tsp of vinegar to 1 full cup of cooked buckwheat. You don’t want it liquidy. Let it chill in the fridge for a bit and add more buckwheat if it’s still too wet. If you like couscous, though, the recipe works better with it.

Also, I’m not the biggest lover of raisins, so sometimes I make this with just apricots, which I do love. Works great and I don’t feel the need to up the amount either. Plenty of sweetness here.

I’ve also been known to throw in some fresh herbs, too. Parsley and basil from my garden add a different flavor that I like sometimes. Herbs are super healthy, so that’s always a bonus. Just depends on my taste buds on any given day. Get creative!

And as always, all ingredients are organic. You know me. That’s how I do!

couscousBuckwheat

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Filed under Fruit, Gluten-free, Health, Organic, Recipe, Snacks, Vegetables

Day of Pumpkin

Halloween is almost upon us! Halloween is a favorite holiday in our house, so I thought I’d get in the spirit a little early with a day of pumpkin.

Yup. Pumpkin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Two posts ago, I had some requests for pumpkin soup. I heard you loud and clear and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Take a fresh sugar pumpkin, cut it in half, and scoop out seeds and strings.

(For roasted pumpkin seeds: separate out the seeds, wash and dry them discarding the strings, and roast them at 350 for no more than 20 minutes with sweet or savory seasoning – a great snack for you pregnant gals!)

Put a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake the halves skin up, flesh down at 375 for about 30 minutes. You should be able to slice a knife through it.

Scoop out baked flesh and put in blender or food processor.

Add 1 tsp of ground vanilla bean, 1 tbsp of coconut crystals, a few shakes of nutmeg, and liberal shakes of cinnamon. I recommend purchasing organic spices, of course.

Add in water, coconut milk (I made my own – see below for the recipe!), or broth (if for soup), and blend until smooth. Amount of liquid needed depends on how much pumpkin there is – start with a little and just keep adding until pumpkin is smooth but not watery.

You now have a delicious, sweet base! (Alter spices to make it more or less sweet.)

First, I had it in my oatmeal for breakfast. I added in chia seeds, raspberries, oats, cacao nibs…you can get creative with it.

Then I ate it by the spoonful for a sweet snack throughout the day. It made a great dessert after lunch!

And lastly, I turned it into a soup for dinner. I put the puree back into a pot, added in all kinds of veggies – mushrooms, celery, carrots, cabbage, broccolini – and cooked it all for a few minutes. Then I added a few pieces of leftover chicken on top and…Voila! Soup! And a one-pot dish, no less!

Make sure to either use a bit of coconut milk or coconut oil in the mix so you absorb the vitamins. We cannot absorb all the vitamins and minerals in our veggies without a little fat. That’s especially important for my pregnant readers – getting the most out of your food is critical now!

Now for the Coconut Milk Recipe

Combine 1 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut and 3 cups hot water in a blender. Blend for about 2 minutes or until it looks creamy and you have a good froth on top. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer.

That’s it! Quick, easy, and without all the additives you’ll find in store-bought coconut milk.

I, of course, added a couple shakes of cinnamon (as always!) to the mix because I love cinnamon and it serves as an anti-microbial while adding a little hint of flavor. Double bonus!

See Adventures in Nut Milk for more nut milk recipes.

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Filed under Chicken, Coconut, Health, Recipe, Snacks, Soup, Spices, Vegetables

Dehydratin’ Away…

So the hubby and I are pretty much inseparable. We work together, we live together (obviously), and we go places together. It’s awesome. And the dog ain’t far behind.

I mean, look at that face. Would you leave her? Exactly.

But this week, I have a new best friend. Her name is Excalibur.

That’s right. Health Coach Jillian is dehydratin’ the bejesus out of anything she can get her hands on with her new 5-tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator. It’s BPA-free and phthalate-free.

But if the hubby feels threatened, he has only himself to blame. (And maybe two employees at Whole Foods.) All three commented on my out of control addiction to kale chips. All of them said, “Why don’t you make your own?”

The first time I got the question I replied, “Whenever I make kale chips in the oven, they burn.”

But last time I got the question, I fielded it differently. “MY DEHYDRATOR IS ON ITS WAY TO ME!! I JUST ORDERED IT!”

Okay, maybe the cashier was unprepared for that level of enthusiasm, but he asked and with my Excalibur en route, I was excited. Super excited.

So now I’m trying anything that sounds like it will taste good when dried out: apple with cinnamon, strawberries, figs, carrots, zucchini, and of course, kale.

Now, one might wonder what the point is. Don’t we want the water that’s in these foods? Sure!

And when you eat dehydrated food you should drink water to rehydrate. So it seems totally pointless, right?

Not exactly.

I keep the temperature on 105F so the foods are still technically raw, but cooked. Cooking with high heat destroys much of the nutrients in food, but at this temperature, I’m preserving the nutrients and the live enzymes that are in raw food. And I get on-the-go healthy snack food – like carrot chips and zucchini chips. This way, I can make some healthy concoctions instead of always eating cold food out of the fridge. But mostly, I just eat truckloads of kale chips.

Finally, I gotta give a special shout out to the Mom and Dad – my new bestie is a result of some birthday cashola (yes, HCJ gets older in the summertime). Thanks, guys! I’m having a blast with my new toy!

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Filed under BPA, Chemicals, Fruit, Health, Organic, Raw, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Water

Cutting Corners

It’s best to eat whole foods, which are foods in their natural state. I’m talking about fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, meat, fish, eggs…foods like that. These are foods that have not been processed beyond recognition. These are foods with one ingredient, that come from nature.

But we all have a lot going on. Sometimes it’s just too much work to cook up a fresh meal every time. Am I right?

This is why so many people turn to packaged foods. They’re easy, ready-to-go, and last an eternity in your car or bag. Of course, that “lasting an eternity” thing is the problem – they’ve got all kinds of scary chemicals in there that allow them to do that. Don’t even get me started on what those chemicals are doing to your body…

I get that we only have 24 hours in the day. And if there’s too much prep involved, we’re less likely to eat that particular food. So here’s the healthy way I cut corners so that I eat the right foods:

1. Kale Salad

Buying local is best, and cutting your veggies on the spot is best, but with this pre-cut bag of organic kale, I’m getting kale that’s ready to go, along with carrots and cabbage. Saves me a lot of time in prep + 3 whole ingredients in one = Very Helpful.

2. Quick Oats

Sure, steel cut oats are best, but like many of you, I need to expedite my breakfast, so quick oats it is for me. Whole Foods 365 brand makes a great organic option that is ready to go in just a few minutes – cooking isn’t even necessary! Make cold or hot and let them sit for a couple of minutes to let them soak and you’re good to go.

3. Coleman Naturals The Original Brat Hans Cooked Chicken Breast Strips

Now, I don’t know how many places are carrying this – could be a very new product – and I don’t know what is going on with that name, but I just found it at my local Whole Foods in Silicon Valley and it’s great. This is a package of pre-cooked organic chicken breast with a bit of salt, pepper, and onion and garlic powders. That’s it. No preservatives. Throw ’em on salads, sandwiches, or eat right out of the package. Easy. Tasty.

4. Eden Organics Canned Beans

Ideally, you want to buy dried (not canned) beans and soak them. It’s healthier because they’re fresher, cans have BPA, and the contents of cans typically contain a lot of additives. There is one exception: Eden Organics. Their cans are bpa-free and there are no nasty ingredients. GMO-free since 1993, and one of the last independently owned organic companies, this is one company I’m happy to support.

For snack ideas (not exactly 1 ingredient whole foods, but healthy packaged options for on-the-go, quick refueling), check out some of my older posts:

Food Finds, Part 1 and Part 2
In a Pinch
“I Think There’s Something To This Whole Organic Thing…”

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Filed under BPA, Chicken, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Snacks, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables

Close Encounters for the Second Time

You know how I love my trips to Whole Foods, and last night’s little jaunt ended up being another fun health coach moment.

Remember the last one?

This time it was all about nutritional yeast!

Okay, some of you are probably thinking, “What the what?” We’re getting to that.

So a couple of guys found me grabbing at the kale krunchies and had to ask what they were all about.

“They must be good the way you’re stocking up,” one of them said. Then he read the ingredient list of Quite Cheezy and asked, “Now what about nutritional yeast? Is that good for you? What about yeast problems?”

“Nutritional yeast is the best part!” I screamed. Okay, maybe I didn’t scream, but I was VERY animated.

Here’s what I told him:
Nutritional yeast does not cause Candida (yeast overgrowth) because it is not an active yeast, so no concerns there. What contributes to yeast overgrowth is sugar.

Nutritional yeast is super healthy because it’s loaded with B vitamins, and B12 is the one vitamin that vegetarians and vegans can’t get from any food because it comes from animal products.

Nutritional yeast is also a great source of protein and folic acid. Each tablespoon has only 20 calories plus 1g of fiber and 2g of protein, so it’s a low-cal add-on that packs a hefty nutritional punch.

Now, for why it’s the best part…

It makes food cheesy! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have any salt, dairy, sugar, gluten, egg, animal derivatives, wheat, corn, starch, soy or any artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives. And it’s non-gmo. But somehow, miraculously, it tastes like parmesan cheese. I’m not sure why or how but it does and it sure jazzes up many a meal for me. I put it on popcorn, eggs, veggies, and Lydia’s kale krunchies.

So, since I got that question out in the world last night, and since up until a few days ago, two very health-conscious friends of mine who eat very little meat had never heard of it, I figured I’d bring all the rest of you up to speed, as well.

The two main brands are Bragg and Red Star and you can find them at Whole Foods, health stores, or online.

I’m no vegan but I don’t eat a ton of animal products. I’m all for a plant-based diet, but it needs to be done the right way, and getting all your vitamins, especially that B12 is very important. So there you have it.

I can’t wait for my next Whole Foods encounter!

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Filed under GMO-free, Health, Products, Snacks, Vegan