Garlic & Red Pepper Chinese Broccoli

Last night I got home from work and wasn’t all that hungry. The hubby was out playing basketball so I decided to make myself more of a snack than a huge dinner. I had a big bundle of chinese broccoli from the farmer’s market and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I love regular broccoli sautéed with onions, garlic, and soy sauce, so that’s what I did!

For this super easy broccoli you just wash and cut the stems off the broccoli so you have florets. Then saute onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Add Chinese broccoli (regular broccoli would work too but I just loved the Chinese broccoli for this recipe) and saute for a few minutes until it begins to wilt. Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce, some red pepper flakes (I like spicy food so I added lots!) and sliced almonds. Saute for another minute or so, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Delicious and super fast. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Endive “Tacos”

YUM! These little  black bean and veggie “tacos” were delicious! I basically just threw all the ingredients I could find in my fridge together and came up with these. You could use large lettuce leaves instead but I just love the crunch of the endive and happened to have them on hand already. They were so easy and quick to make, and kept me full all night. They are the perfect bite-size portions and would be great for a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend! What you’ll need:

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color would work, I used orange)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (more if you like it extra spicy)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

What you’ll do:

Saute onions, celery, and carrots in 1 tsp. olive oil until tender. Add in bell peppers, then after a few minutes, add mushrooms. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans until warm all the way through. Mix seasonings with vegetable broth and pour into bean mixture. Stir until seasoning coats the mixture and serve on small endive leaves or any lettuce wrap of your choice. Top with avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, salsa, whatever you like! These “tacos” are so healthy – full of fiber and protein – and taste great the next day for leftovers as well. Enjoy!

Losing Weight the Healthy Way – And A Little Barney Butter!

As I have been trying to eat a healthy, clean diet for the Kaia detox, I have been going back to eating like I did when I was seeing a nutritionist years ago. It’s funny how we learn all about nutrition and health and how to live a healthy lifestyle, and over time we slowly drift away from those basics. The truth is, losing weight and getting healthy is a simple concept -calories in vs calories out. The important thing is making those calories work for your body instead of eating junk that doesn’t help you in any way. What I mean by that is eating healthy greens and fruits and getting enough protein and fiber to fuel your body and keep yourself feeling good.

I am not an expert on nutrition by any means, but I have tried many “fad diets” that haven’t worked (or they have worked and I gained all the weight right back) and I have also lost weight the healthy way. At the moment I am about 20 pounds lighter than I once was and I can’t believe I carried around that much weight for so long!

This was the best before/after photo I could find at the moment. I've gained about 5lbs since this after photo was taken, but it is fairly accurate - Check out those cheeks!

Now that I don’t have so much to lose I really want to focus on getting toned and gaining muscle. I’m kind of a weakling to be honest, but soon enough that will change! My main goal for this six-week program: come out of it with super buff arms :)

For the next few weeks I am going to focus on posting some of my healthy meals, some recommendations for some of my favorite items at the grocery store and possibly some workout ideas as well. I’m really excited to get back into a routine that I can stick to since I haven’t done that since my half-marathon trainings!

My first recommendation is for Barney Butter. As I told the Kaia girls this morning, if you haven’t tried it..you need to. It is the best almond butter I have ever tasted. You don’t need to stir it because it doesn’t have all that gross oil at the top, it is very low in sugar (3g per serving) and has very few ingredients with no gross additives. I prefer the chunky but the smooth is great too! I bought mine online but you can also get it at Whole Foods.

This morning I had a tablespoon of it for breakfast with a banana. Yum! Do you have any favorite almond/peanut butters I should try?

Banana Oat Muffins

I recently stumbled upon the Dashing Dish blog and learned how to make muffins with oats instead of flour and I’m hooked. These muffins were so delicious and much healthier than the average muffin made with flour. They turned out tasting just like banana bread. You can find the original recipe here but I made a few slight changes to mine.

What you’ll need: (my changes were taking out the protein powder, using real sugar instead of sweetener and adding unsweetened coconut)

  • 1 small banana
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 sugar (I don’t like using fake sweetener in my baking)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (because coconut makes everything better)

What you’ll do:

My favorite part about this recipe was how easy it was! You just combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pour into baking cups (use silicone so it doesn’t stick). Then I added a pinch of coconut to the batter in each muffin tin before baking. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Thanks for the idea Katie!

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Recently a co-worker gave me a huge bag of Meyer lemons and I have been trying to figure out what to use them for. I usually put them in my ice water and tea and add them to chicken and vegetable dishes when I’m cooking, but I wanted to start baking with them. The day after I got them, I found the recipe for Meyer Lemon Muffins on Freshly Pressed and decided I had to try it! You can find the recipe on the Darla Cooks blog. They were absolutely delicious. Next time I’d add more lemon in the batter and would maybe even make a sweet lemon/vanilla glaze to drizzle over the top.

One of my favorite parts of making these muffins was photographing them! The lemon slice on top really made them look fun (they tasted great too)!

Loaded Spaghetti Squash

Carbs. All I ever want are carbs. Carbs carbs carbs. They are delicious and if I could survive on carbs alone (without gaining 100 pounds) I would. But, we all know that eating huge amounts of processed carbohydrates for every single meal is not so good for you. So, I’ve tried to come up with a few alternatives that make me still feel like I’m getting to eat my favorite foods like bread and pasta. I still eat both of those things, but I try to limit them when I can.

One of my favorite ways to make a “pasta” dinner a little healthier is to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles. I usually make it just like I would regular spaghetti, with tomato sauce and sometimes I add ground turkey for a little protein. This time I loaded it full of veggies and it was delicious! (I made it at night so my photo is a little dark)

Spaghetti squash is so easy to make. You can cut it in half, coat with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake for 30-40 minutes until the outside is soft OR if you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it. This particular day I was starving after work and couldn’t wait for the oven to do the work so I poked holes all over the squash, put it on a plate and microwaved it until the outside was soft. The time will depend on how big your squash is. Mine was small so it didn’t take very long at all. I put it in for two minutes, turned it over, and kept adding two minutes until it was done. Total I think it cooked in about six minutes.

While the squash was in the microwave, I chopped all my veggies. I used mushrooms, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. I sautéed them all with some olive oil and white wine. I took the squash out, cut it in half, cleaned out the seeds, and then scraped all the insides out with a fork. Then I added all the squash to the veggie mixture, added a little olive oil and was all done!

What is your favorite way to make spaghetti squash?

 

 

Red Cabbage

Who knew cabbage could be so pretty?

I made chinese chicken salad with this particular cabbage. What are some of your favorite cabbage recipes?

Honey for Your Allergies?!

There aren’t many downsides to growing up in California, but I’d have to say my least favorite part of living in the Golden State are the terrible allergies I have here. As a kid I could barely get out of bed during allergy season and can only deal with them now after taking allergy shots for three years. Although my allergies have immensely improved since taking the shots, I still have bad days during the Spring season, especially when its extra windy outside.

I’ve read a few articles that say local honey can actually help improve your allergy symptoms, but I have also read articles that say there isn’t any real proof to back up that claim. Personally, I have always hated taking allergy medicine….It makes me either super sleepy or super loopy, or it keeps me from sleeping at night. I have yet to find one that actually helps my symptoms and doesn’t make me feel awful.

So, I figured a spoonful of honey each day can’t hurt me, right? I decided I will try this out and see what the results are on my own. That will be proof enough for me!

The great thing about honey is you can enjoy it in so many different ways! Here are just some of the different ways I plan to eat my spoonful of honey a day!

  • mix into energy bites like these
  • mix into tea with lemon
  • add to hot water and lemon
  • mix into smoothies as sweetener
  • use as a dip for sliced apples
  • mix with plain Greek yogurt and top with fruit
  • mix into oatmeal
  • spread on toast with peanut butter
  • drizzle over warm cornbread
  • mix into salad dressings
  • add to vanilla ice cream for dessert :)

We bought fresh honeycomb on our way home from Monterey last weekend. It isn’t exactly local but we couldn’t resist! I’ve also read you can eat the honeycomb itself, but I haven’t tried it yet.

I love this raw honey we found at our local farmer’s market. It’s so thick and creamy, its delicious!

What are your favorite ways to eat (or drink) honey? And do you think local honey can really help your allergies?

Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Black Beans

Stuffed bell peppers are one of my favorite things to make (I’ve blogged about them before here). Last night I made these with quinoa and a whole bunch of veggies. They were delicious and they were pretty filling because of the protein in the quinoa!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used a quinoa and brown rice mix)
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • a handful of mushrooms, chopped (any kind will work, I used white)
  • 1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • I added a little cayenne pepper for some spice but you can leave that out

What you’ll do:

Chop the top off the bell peppers and clean out the seeds. Hold on to the top so you can put it back on for baking. Saute the onions and green bell peppers in a little olive oil until tender. Then add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. After a few minutes, add the wine and spinach. Mix in the quinoa and cook until heated through. Add the mixture to the bell peppers until they are full, put the caps back on and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The black beans are super easy and super yummy. All you need is a can of black beans (I use organic), 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo (I used a fresh pico from the store that was extra spicy) and a little salt and pepper! You heat those ingredients together and then top with a little bit of your favorite shredded cheese. I made these for a little extra protein on the side of our veggie bell peppers since we weren’t having any meat. Enjoy!

An Artichoke a Day

Last night my husband and I made a healthy, delicious meal of fresh lemon and dill salmon and steamed artichokes. Artichokes have been my favorite vegetable since I was a kid and I don’t think I will ever get sick of them. We even grew them ourselves last year!

When I was little I would refuse to eat the heart of the artichoke. I remember my mom saying, “Why don’t you eat the heart? It’s the best part!”  My response would usually be something like “Eww, gross!” It took years until I finally told my parents that I wasn’t eating the best part of the artichoke because I thought it was a real heart. I was little and didn’t understand the difference between a real heart and the idea that something could be called a heart because it was at the “heart” of the vegetable.  When I finally learned the difference I was amazed by what I had been missing. The heart really is the best part! I guess mom’s always know best!

The problem with eating an artichoke a day is that most artichoke dipping sauces are loaded with fat and extra calories. Most people eat them with mayonnaise, or garlic butter, which clearly are not the healthiest choices. When my mom used to make them, we would dip them in Italian dressing mixed with Parmesan cheese. I know, it sounds weird, but it was really tasty and much healthier. Randomly one day I added cottage cheese to that mixture and ate my artichokes dipped in cottage cheese and Italian dressing for years after that. Of course I’ve had the mayo and the garlic butter as well, but now I am always trying to come up new healthy versions that still tastes delicious. This one is my favorite so far:

Lemon and Dill Yogurt Aioli 

  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to serve! Double recipe as needed for more artichokes (amounts don’t need to be exact. Add ingredients to taste)

Baked Lemon and Dill Salmon

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp room temp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix together butter, lemon and dill. Spread over top of salmon filets in a baking dish lined with foil. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (depending on size of salmon). Then broil for 5 minutes to crisp the top of the salmon. Squeeze lemon on top before serving and garnish with fresh dill. Enjoy!