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A Little Spice Makes Everything Nice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Let’s talk about health benefits of a few of my favorite spices: cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Cardamom originated in India and is available in most grocery stores (ground) and specialty health food stores (pod and plant). It is rich in Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It is well-known for having anti-carcinogenic properties as well as being good for cardiovascular health. It is also an anti-depressant and is often one of the essential oils used in aromatherapy.


 

Cardamom Tea

4 cardamom pods

4 black peppercorns

4 clove

1 cinnamon stick

4 slices fresh ginger (quartered)

*Heat all ingredients in 2.5 cups of water for 2 hours. Strain and serve with a teaspoon of honey and a splash of milk (sub almond or coconut milk for dairy free)

 

Have Nausea…Take Ginger! Ginger is the cure-all for all types of nausea including morning sickness, alcohol hangovers and motion sickness. It can also be used to aid in digestion. It originated in Southeast Asia more than 5000 years ago but spread quickly to other regions as its healing properties became more widely known. Traditional Ayurvedic (meaning life knowledge in Sanskrit) hailed ginger as a gift from God. It also has anti-microbial properties so it can be helpful when fighting a cold or other immune-suppressing illness.

 


 

Ginger Salmon

1 Filet wild caught Salmon

1 stem fresh chopped ginger

1 garlic clove chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

S&P to taste

*Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub evoo on salmon then add garlic and ginger plus salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes off easily. Serve with a side of baked asparagus or other green vegetable and/or brown rice.

 

The use of cinnamon goes back to around 2000BC when Egyptians used it as a perfuming agent in the embalming process. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. Those stems are dried and during the drying process they roll up into sticks. The sticks can be used alone or they can then be ground up to form the powder we most commonly use in various recipes. Cinnamon contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidant making it a huge superfood. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help the body fight infection and repair tissue damage. Cinnamon has also been linked to reduce heart disease, lower blood sugar and blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Try a teaspoon in your coffee in the morning!

 


Basil Cinnamon Peaches

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup raw sugar (Or use 3 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar)

3 strips lemon zest (1-by-2-inch strips)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

3 ripe but firm medium peaches, halved lengthwise and pitted

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

*Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a large nonreactive saucepan (see Note); bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Add peach halves. Return to a brisk simmer, cover the pan and simmer, turning the peaches occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a skewer or paring knife and the skins are loosened, 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the peaches). Transfer the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Return the liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in basil and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Slip off and discard the peach skins. Place the peaches in a storage container and strain the cooled syrup over them. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Cool As A Cucumber

Monday, June 08, 2015

Yes, you too, can be as cool as a cucumber. What’s the trick? Just eat plenty of cucumbers!

 

Why the cucumber?

Cucumbers are naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, fat and calories. (~15 calories/cup) They also contain a high amount of phytonutrients which provide antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer benefits. If that’s not enough for you they are also packed with water so eating a cup of ‘cukes’ is like drinking a glass of water. Cucumbers contain silica which helps keep your skin smooth and can aid in alleviating the puffiness around your eyes. Because they also contain potassium (4% of your daily value) they are essential for keeping your blood pressure from rising. So the next time you start to feel a little ‘hot under the collar’ try some cucumber water to help keep you cool.

 

Cucumber Recipes

Cool Cucumber Water

Peel 1 cucumber, slice in ¼” wide slices and Add slices to large pitcher of water and refrigerate. Enjoy a glass every hour. Or add 4-5 cukes to a large travel container and enjoy on the road.

 


 

 

Cucumber Salad

Peel 1 cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise and use spoon to scoop out seeds. Then slice in ¼” slices. Dice 2 tomatoes. Slice 1/4 red onion into thin strips. Add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil. Mince 1 clove fresh garlic. Drizzle 1 tbsp (~2-3 seconds pour) of EVOO. Drizzle ½ tbsp. of balsamic vinegar. Add pinch of s/p. Mix together and let marinate for ~30minutes. Enjoy as a side to your main dish or as a tasty snack.

 


Asian Stir Fry Recipe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you like Asian flavors I highly recommend the House of Tsang® stir fry sauces. For this dish I used the Classic Sauce which has mostly soy, sherry wine, garlic and ginger that makes it super tasty when added with a protein (chicken in this dish) and a variety of vegetables. You can really add just about anything from the fridge so this doesn’t have to be a ‘special trip to the market’ kind of dish.

 

The key to making this meal in under 35 minutes is to start the rice first. When I walk in the door I immediately put the brown rice into my rice cooker and then I start the prep of cutting the vegetables and sautéing everything together. If you don’t have a rice cooker, no problem, simply start the rice when you get home; change your clothes, pet the dog (or kids) and then get started with the dinner prep. Another shortcut is to use boneless chicken tenders instead of the breast so you do not have to prep the chicken by cutting it into strips. Plus, if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like to handle raw meat, this definitely limits your interaction!


 

Ingredients

2 cups cooked brown Jasmine rice (Follow cooking instructions on bag or use rice cooker)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 package of boneless chicken tenders

Pinch of salt & pepper

1 each red, orange, yellow bell peppers sliced into strips

½ yellow onion sliced into strips

½ cup sliced mushrooms (any kind but I like the shitake)

1 garlic clove minced (~1tsp minced garlic)

1 bottle House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce

1 cup snow peas rinsed

¼ cup chopped green onion

 

Instructions:

As the rice is cooking, add the sesame oil and garlic to a large sauté pan. Heat for a few minutes and add the chicken tender pieces. Add the salt & pepper to the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are slightly opaque. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and stir until the chicken and vegetables are thoroughly coated. Let cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and green onion and stir until coated. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Spoon a cup of rice into a bowl and add a scoop of the stir fry on top. And now moan your way through another wonderful meal! (PS This tastes even better the next day for lunch or dinner.)

       

Spring Is in the Air & On My Plate

Monday, April 27, 2015

 

Spring is in the air and I love being able to throw together a quick salad using whatever fresh fruits and veggies are on hand. You can mix up just about any combination of fruits to go on a salad. I typically stick with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzle as a dressing since the creamy ones tend to be loaded with saturated fat and excess sugar and/or salt. Plus the light vinegar and olive oil allow you to really taste the mix of the fruits and veggies which should be the stars of the dish anyways.

 

Pear & Blueberry Salad

1 cup spinach or kale (or mix of both)

1 Bartlett pear chopped

½ cup blueberries

1 roma tomato sliced

Sprinkle of feta cheese (or omit if dairy free)

Sprinkle of sunflower seeds (~2 tbsp)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

*(You can mix the vinegar and oil together to blend them before drizzling over salad if you prefer)

 

Layer the ingredients in that order in a salad bowl and enjoy!

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

People are always asking me the best way to eat healthy on a budget and on-the-go. The answer is there is no magic wand to wave over your kitchen to make a meal magically appear that is healthy and doesn’t break the bank. What I usually tell me people is that you have to plan ahead. Just like you plan your work day and even make plans for keeping your house in order and taking care of the kids.

 

So how do you do it? For some people who are master planners you can pick a day on the weekend to do your grocery shopping and do some food prep like cutting up veggies and/or baking a protein so that you can easily whip up a meal later in the week. For others who don’t want to spend that much time in the kitchen it’s all about keeping healthy foods on hand that are easy to prep.

 

This recipe is for those people who do plan ahead and have a cooked protein and grain already on hand. My motto is ‘cook once and eat twice’ so I will prepare a meal on Sunday night and be able to incorporate part of it into mini-meals later in the week. It saves a ton of time during the week when you can simply reheat a food and mix it in to make something else.

 

Sunday Meal #1 Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl (~25 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2 (With left overs for lunch and the chicken and rice can be used in another meal)

2 Chicken Breasts (sliced)

1 onion (sliced)

2 green bell peppers (sliced)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp EVOO

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp salsa

2 pinches of shredded cheese

4 cups cooked brown rice

½ avocado sliced

 

To Make:

Sauté chicken breasts in pan with EVOO & garlic until mostly cooked throughout

Remove half of chicken and place in container to be used in another meal

Add sliced onions, peppers and cumin to the remaining chicken mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes

Add ½ cup rice to bowl and top with chicken & peppers

Add salsa and cheese

**If you want to heat up some black beans to add in some additional protein feel free to add those as well

You can add leftovers to a salad for lunch the next day as well. Or you can wrap up in a whole wheat tortilla to make a chicken fajita burrito.

 


 

Monday Meal #2 Chicken Stir Fry (~ 15 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2

Leftover chicken breast (~1 chicken breast)

Leftover brown rice (~ 2 cups)

2 pounds green beans (Can chop off the ends if you have time but otherwise these can go straight into sauté pan)

1 Bunch of Green onion (chopped)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp sesame oil (can also use EVOO)

¼ cup teriyaki marinade (Wan Ja Shan Organic or Kikkoman; you can also make your own with soy sauce, honey, garlic & ginger if you have the time)

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional for extra heat)

 

To Make:

Sauté green beans and garlic in sesame oil for 3-5 minutes on medium/high heat

Add chicken and teriyaki marinade and stir together for another 3-5 minutes

Add rice and continue stirring until marinade is mixed well with the rice

Top with green onion and stir again

Serve in a bowl and top with red pepper flakes for added heat

 


It's National Pancake Day

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is there a better reason to wake up and have pancakes for breakfast?!! Instead of reaching for a mix which is loaded with processed ingredients and trans fat try one these easy, made-from-scratch recipes for a healthier start to your day. Now you can have your cake and eat it too…and no guilt!!




Wheat-Free Pancakes

3 cups almond meal
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, light coconut milk, or milk
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, or butter, melted

 

To Make:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk and oil or butter and whisk thoroughly.
  • Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add more milk as necessary, one tablespoon at a time, to reach pancake-batter consistency.
  • Lightly oil a skillet and heat over medium heat. Pour batter onto skillet to make large or small pancakes. Cook for three minutes, or until bubbles form and edges are cooked. Flip and cook for three minutes or until underside is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Top with Greek yogurt and berries or your maple syrup if you want a sweeter treat. I like mine with dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs!


Ever wonder what to do with that leftover quinoa? Or if you've never tried quinoa this is a great way to enjoy it. The quinoa gives your pancakes a fluffier texture and you can sweeten them up with syrup or fruit.



Quinoa Pancakes

1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional) for serving

  •  
  • To Make:
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2 minutes.
  • Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce heat to medium if overbrowning). Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.

​Cajun Shrimp & Rice Stuffed Peppers

Friday, February 20, 2015

 

This is currently my absolute favorite meal to prepare! After trying to find some healthy grain dishes, I decided to combine several recipes into my own spicy taste of heaven. If you don’t have (or like) shrimp you can add chicken, sausage or ground turkey as a protein alternative. Since we live on the coast, seafood is in healthy supply so I cook with it every chance I get. They make great leftovers too. (My husband even ate them for breakfast.) You can also make these ahead and freeze them for a mid-week easy meal prep. I would take them out in the morning so they are ready to pop in the oven when you are home from work in the evening. 

 


 

Makes 4 Peppers (Enough for 4 people plus a side)

 

2 Large Red Peppers – cored and cut in half

(Save the tops of the peppers to dice into ~1/4 cup)

1 Onion – diced

2 garlic gloves – diced

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups brown rice - cooked

12-24 shrimp – deveined and cut into ~1” pieces

1 tbsp Tony’s Cajun seasoning

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

Preheat oven to 375°

Saute onion, red pepper and garlic in olive oil for ~ 5 minutes (Onion should become translucent)

Add shrimp and Tony’s seasoning and continue cooking until shrimp turn pink (~3-5 minutes)

Add rice and chicken stock and cook for another few minutes stirring occasionally

Place the 4 pepper halves in a baking dish

Scoop the shrimp/rice mixture into each of the 4 pepper halves and top with the mozz cheese

Bake for ~30 minutes or until cheese becomes bubbly

 

Enjoy!!!

 


Heart Healthy Oatmeal Casserole

Friday, February 06, 2015

Eating the same bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can get boring so I decided to mix it up into a hot casserole. You can use any type of berries (preferably ones in season) and also substitute any type of milk.

 


Serves 6 (Double the batch for a larger breakfast crowd)

1.5 cup of rolled oats

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

½ tsp aluminum free baking powder

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup honey or agave (can eliminate if you want to reduce the sugar; I used just a drizzle on top)

1 cup coconut milk (any milk will work)

1 egg

1 tbsp soft butter

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1-2 bananas, sliced into ½-1” pieces

1.5 cups blueberries

 

Heat oven to 375°. Coat a 9x11 baking dish with butter (or light baking spray)

Mix oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside

Whisk milk, egg, vanilla extract together and set aside

Place sliced bananas on bottom of dish in a single layer

Add ~1/2 of the berries on top of the bananas

Spread the oatmeal mixture on top of the fruit evenly

Add the rest of the berries and then slowly pour the milk/egg mixture on top of the entire dish

(You may need to shake the dish a few times to make sure the milk mixture is evenly distributed across the entire casserole)

Sprinkle the walnuts on top and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until slightly golden brown and bubbly

Drizzle honey on top after removing from the oven

 

Heart Healthy Benefits:

  • Eating oatmeal can reduce the ‘lousy’ cholesterol (low density-LDL) and also helps to lower blood pressure
  • Blueberries contain flavonoids that help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries as well
  • Adding cinnamon to your food (or coffee) can help control your blood sugar

Are You Ready for the Super Bowl?

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Have you ever tasted a dish that made you moan because it was so good? Well if you haven’t then you are missing out! I went on an adventure/fitness retreat to Costa Rica with Sonja Franzmann who is an awesome retreat leader and basically one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. We literally moaned our way through meals for a week and basically existed in food and fitness bliss. One of our best meals was a salad made of quinoa, avocado, lettuce, tomato, carrots, celery and broccoli. Every bite was a different blend of veggies and quinoa so you always had a slightly different taste with every bite. It was totally moan-worthy!! When I came back from Costa I was obsessed with this salad so I decided to try my hand.

 

You may be wondering what this has to do with the Super Bowl? Well this bowl is full of SuperFoods. You may recall from a previous blog that there are some incredibly powerful foods out there that can help fight infection, cancer, cardiovascular disease, aging and many other ailments. SuperBowl Sunday gave me a reason to pile all of my favorite SuperFoods together into one blissful, moan-worthy bowl. So here’s to my own SuperFood Bowl!!

 

The NanBowl (Makes enough for 2 but you can always use more and invite friends over to make their own bowls)

1 cup Brussel sprouts halved

½ sweet potato cubed

1 beet cubed

2 cups quinoa cooked

½ onion diced

Small bunch of spinach or kale (any leafy green will do)

½ cup cherry tomatoes halved

½ avocado sliced

 

Mix all of these ingredients together and toss with your favorite dressing. I like a simple balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil drizzle. Or you can make this phenomenal Avocado Lime dressing.

 

Avocado Lime Dressing

½ to 1 avocado mashed

2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or 1 whole squeezed lime)

½ tbsp honey

¼ tsp cumin

1 tbsp white or red vinegar

1tbsp evoo

1 tsp minced garlic

¼ cup water

 

Whisk all ingredients together and toss on top of your own superfood bowl and have your own ‘moan’-ingful moment!! You may not even care who wins or loses while you are enjoying this bowl of bliss!!

SuperFood Recipes

Monday, January 19, 2015

Here are a few easy ways to prepare some of the most nutritious super foods for you and your family.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 cup dried garbanzo beans (or 2 cans drained and rinsed) *You’ll need to cook the dried beans according to the package

6 cups vegetable stock

½ tsp ground cumin

1 medium red bell pepper

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt (1/4 cup soft silken tofu)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp sea salt to taste

Add cooked (canned) beans, stock, cumin into large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer gently for about an hour. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bell pepper in half. Remove the stem & seeds and lay cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake until pepper is tender and skin begins to wrinkle. Remove from oven and use paring knife to remove the skin. Cut the pepper into chunks and add all ingredients to a food processor.

Pulse until smooth. You may need to add a bit more tahini and/or yogurt to taste. (Some people prefer chunkier hummus but I prefer a creamier one so I tend to use a bit more yogurt.)

Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend together.

Add to serving bowl and serve with sliced raw vegetables and pita crisps.

 

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 sliced banana

1 cup fresh blueberries (Can also use frozen)

1 cup plain fat free yogurt (Can also use any type of milk or water)

1 tsp almond butter (or peanut butter)

1 tsp ground flax seeds

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Great energy boost and keeps me full all morning.

 

Roasted Broccoli/Cauliflower

1 head of broccoli

1 head of cauliflower

1-2 tsps olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves minced

¼ cup red pepper flakes

Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place broccoli and cauliflower to baking sheet with oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Roast for 12-15 minutes or until slight browning on top.

Remove from oven.

**Cauliflower can also then be pureed in a food processor with a bit of milk or cream and served as mashed cauli. This is a great way to ‘trick’ the kids into eating a vegetable that they may not normally touch.

 

Teriyaki Salmon

2 filets of wild salmon (Can be found at most major grocery chains incl Publix, Harris Teeter, EarthFare, WholeFoods, FreshMarket, etc)

1 cup soy sauce

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ginger minced

1 tsp agave syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place salmon in baking dish skin side down.

Mix last four ingredients together and spread over fish. (Leave about ¼ cup to spread over fish at the end of baking)

Bake for ~15 minutes until fish is flaky. Be careful not to overcook as it will become dry.

Remove from oven and drizzle remaining sauce over fish.


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