soupIn the winter, my body naturally craves hearty and many times, meaty soups that warm you from the inside out.  This soup is one of my absolute favorites to make when it’s cold outside, and even the pickiest, non-healthy eaters will love this.  I actually made this for my family last Sunday night, and my brother astonishingly went back for seconds.  (His diet primarily consists of Mountain Dews and McDonald’s, so I took the meal as a small victory to a step in the right direction!)

My secret to this soup is the sausage.  I use Vito’s Italian Sausage, which has no preservatives or nitrates, and incredible flavor.  If you don’t use an authentic Italian, high-quality sausage, I would definitely suggest adding more spice than what this recipe calls for.

And as a side note, I always suggest that when eating meat, use the highest quality meat you can find.  It may cost a little more, but it’s well worth it in the health benefits and the flavor.  Plus, rather than making meat the star of the dish, I prefer it to be a side kick to veggies and grains.  Most of us eat far more meat than our body actually needs!

 Although I think it’s a little bit dated, I do suggest Dr. Steven Pratt’s book for learning foundational foods that are nutrition powerhouses – among these are salmon, blueberries, pumpkin, spinach, green tea and walnuts. However, today I wanted to introduce a few “fancier” – if you will – foods that offer some major benefits to your overall well-being.

Kale, Sausage and White Bean Soup

1/2 of an onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 T olive oil

3-4 Italian sausages (Vito’s brand is highly recommended!)

1 can of Canellini beans, drained and rinsed (preferably organic and BPA free can)

1 can of chopped tomatoes (preferably organic and BPA free can)

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2-3 cups of vegetable broth

3-4 stems of kale, roughly chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan, to top

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and add onion.  Cook until translucent and then add in sausage.  Allow sausage to brown, and then add 2 cups broth, tomatoes, beans and sweet potatoes. 

Bring all ingredients to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft.  Add more broth as needed. 

At end, add in kale and allow to wilt.  Top with parmesan cheese to serve. 

Enjoy and stay warm!

 

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We are slaves to the idea that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.  Calories in – calories out, right?  If it was really this simple, wouldn’t we all have figured it out by now – would it really be a constant fight between our food and our bodies?  No, it wouldn’t.  

So, nerd-ing out for a quick second, the calories in – calories out argument makes total sense when we look at thermodynamics – energy is conserved in a closed system.  

BUT, our bodies are not closed systems.  We have a cascade of chemical reactions happening all the time.  This is the heart of the mind-body connection.  It may sound a bit woo-woo, but research has proven that there are profound effects on the chemistries of stress, relaxation, pleasure and depression.  

Marc David, author of The Slow Down Diet (you should read it!), describes metabolism as this:

“Metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body, PLUS the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences.”

So let’s break down one of those chemistries – let’s talk about STRESS.  

Stress begins as a physiological response that alerts the body that it is in danger – for our caveman ancestors, this may have been a hungry animal, but in our modern lives, it could be an angry boss, screaming kids, or piles of unpaid bills.  Our body knows no difference – our adrenal glands kick in, releasing hormones that increase our heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.  

When we stay trapped in this flight-or-flight physiology, our bodies are in survival mode.  The body is being told “hold on to everything – a famine is coming” or “reserve your energy – we’ve got to outrun this bear.” 

This stress lowers our metabolism and shuts off our ability to burn fat.  

Yes, that’s right – our bodies will hold on to fat when it is in a stress state.  And for many of us, that chronic low-level stress is always there.  

We have got to slow down.  Then and ONLY then, can our bodies calm down enough to work properly and let the excess weight come off.  

You don’t need to pound it out on the treadmill for 5 minutes longer to punish yourself for that piece of cake after dinner.  Maybe take a yoga class and instead of “stressing” in your shavasana that you’re not burning enough calories, flip your thinking.  Your biochemistry shifts from stressed (sympathetic nervous system) to relaxed (parasympathetic nervous system) – your metabolism jumps right on board.  

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed” Ghandi 

Do you find yourself thinking in the calories in, calories out mode?  Does it make sense that less is actually more when it comes to your body and its ability to use energy efficiently (aka your metabolism)?  

I’d love to hear from you!  Does this make sense and have your thoughts shifted at all from reading this?

xo,

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Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.32.41 PM copyThis dish is sweet, rich and 100% unprocessed!  It’s perfect for fall and the cooling temperatures.

I’ll be cooking with butternut squash a lot this season, so look out for a few more recipes :)  It’s high in fiber, vitamin A, potassium and many other vitamins, minerals & antioxidants.  So not only is it absolutely delicious, but it’s nutrient dense and super healthy.

This recipe is SO easy – hands on time is 15 minutes tops.  

TIP: Pre-make a few organic chicken breasts at the beginning of the week!  They are great to throw in salads, sandwiches and heat up for dinner for recipes like this.

Butternut Squash Alfredo 

Active time: 15 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Serves 2-3

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 can full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup broth, to thin

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 small cooked chicken breasts, shredded (optional)

1 spaghetti squash, halved

shaved parmesan to top

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place both squash, seed sides down, in a baking dish, and fill with 1/4 inch of water. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the skin can easily be poked with a fork.

When the spaghetti squash is done, flip it, scoop out the seeds, and use a fork to remove the “noodles.” Toss these in a bowl and set aside.

Scoop out and discard the seeds of the butternut squash. Scrape out all of the meat and put it in a food processor or blender with the garlic clove. Pulse until it’s all broken down. Slowly add the coconut milk and broth, and continue to blend until the sauce reaches the thinness you like. Add salt and pepper and blend in.

Serve sauce atop the “noodles”, and top with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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how to like a veggie

If you follow my blog or on social media, you probably know that I don’t subscribe to one particular way of eating. However, I DO believe that most people can benefit from adding more vegetables into their diet.  I sometimes come across the statement “But I don’t like vegetables”.  

Welp, my response is basically – “let’s figure out how to fix that!”

In this video blog, I’m showing a tried and true method to making about any vegetable taste delicious!  All it takes is some olive oil, sea salt and about 15 minutes of roasting in the oven on 400.  I LOVE preparing veggies this way because it brings out the natural sweetness to the veggie and it’s super simple.  

Click below to watch the video.

 

Lots of veggie love!

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Nothing signals fall’s arrival like the yearly seasonal debut of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, right? :) 

But this year, much of the drink’s attention has fallen prey to Food Babe for containing some pretty nasty ingredients.  (and just a side note – I love Food Babe and commend her for taking steps to move the needle in the right direction to rid our food of unsafe ingredients.  The world needs people like her.  However, I get that she can sound a little extreme – when it comes to even my own health, I don’t adhere to an all or nothing approach.  Do the best you can as often as you can, and don’t sweat the rest.)

So in the spirit of finding healthier ways to enjoy our favorite foods, here is an easy, delicious homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte.  And unlike it’s Starbuck’s counterpart, this one is made with REAL pumpkin, so you’re getting a good dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that help protect your skin, your eyes, and your heart.  

Here is the link to Food Babe’s post on Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte (she has a great recipe too!)  And with a Starbuck’s latte running around $5 and containing 50g of sugar (the recommended daily dose is 24g), you’re saving your health,  your waistline, AND your wallet!

pumpkin spice

 

The Perfect Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 tablespoons of pumpkin (canned is fine, BPA free cans are best)

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 -2 tablespoons Grade B Maple Syrup (I prefer mine with less sweetness, but adjust to taste – honey would work nice too)

Splash of vanilla extract (optional)

A few dashes of black pepper (optional)

2 shots of espresso or 1 cup strong coffee

2 cups almond milk (or organic 2% milk/other milk of choice)

Top with fresh coconut whipped cream

Instructions

1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and  black pepper for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  

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2.  Add maple syrup, stir and then whisk in milk and vanilla extract.  Warm gently over medium heat.  

3.  Blend the pumpkin mixture in a blender (or with a hand blender).

4.  Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk/pumpkin mixture. Top with whipped coconut cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg.  Add a cinnamon stick to be extra fancy!

*To make coconut whipped cream: Freeze a can of full fat coconut milk for at least one hour.  Remove cream part from can (save liquid to put in a smoothie).  Place in a mixing bowl and whip until texture resembles whipped cream.  

*To save on time, make a big batch of the pumpkin spice mix-in and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.  

Cheers!

brooke.001

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I had a get together last night at my house, and in the midst of a hectic day, I needed to pull something together quick.  But I also wanted something fresh that would allow me to use my abundance of produce from my CSA (community supported agriculture) share. 

ANSWER: Tomatillo Salsa and Basic Hummus with fresh veggies.  It was so, so good and super easy…so I figured it was worth sharing! 

Tomatillo Salsa

1 quart of fresh tomatillos

1 small red pepper

2-3 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1/2 lime

3 tablespoons of Cilantro

1 small tomato

couple dashes of salt

Remove husk from tomatillos and rinse in warm water to remove sticky residue.  Roast tomatillos and red peppers on 400 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on low to medium speed.  (I like a bit of a chunky salsa, so adjust speed accordingly). 

And that’s it!  Besides the roasting (which is primarily hands off time), we’re talking 5 minutes tops for this recipe. 

I served this with organic blue corn tortilla chips, but this would also be so delicious topped on eggs or in a black bean burrito. 

For the hummus, check out my recipe here – – I just left off the avocado and jalapeno, and added a bit more lemon.  To serve, I cut up fresh cucumber, celery and tomatoes.  Easy, peasy.

Cheers!

 brooke.001

 

 

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One roadblock that I commonly hear when it comes to cooking and eating healthy is a lack of time to shop for and prepare meals.  And I totally get it – when you are in the middle of a busy week, it can be overwhelming to come home and try to figure out an entire meal – it’s much easier to go get take out or look to something frozen you can pop in the microwave.

One thing that I’ve learned as I get more and more into cooking is that preparing meals becomes much less of a burden when you have most of the ingredients already in your cabinet.  And I’m not talking a gourmet, stocked pantry fit for a chef…when you’re talking about fresh ingredients, SIMPLE is best!  It doesn’t take much…

By having the following five ingredients on hand, you can easily go to the grocery, pick up whatever fresh vegetables and meat or other protein that you’d like, and prepare a healthy, tasty meal without the stress of an overcomplicated, involved recipe. 

Olive oil can be used for sautéing and also to dress on top of vegetables.  Olive oils contain polyphenols that help promote heart health, and are also high in monounsaturated fatty acids – the good fat! Olive oils can range in price from inexpensive to rather pricey.  I like to keep a less expensive one around for cooking with, and save my pricier, more flavorful olive oils to drizzle on salads.
 
Honey or other natural sweeteners tend to balance the flavor of foods.  Even though I advocate alternative sweeteners to refined white sugar, if this is all you have on hand, that’s ok!  Add a little to your cooking, and I guarantee you will be getting less sugar than if you were to buy conventional processed convenience foods off of the shelf.

Salt, in moderation, can also help to bring out the flavors of the food.  I opt for sea salt or Himilayan salt over conventional refined table salt for a much higher dose of important trace minerals.
 
Raw lemon juice is well known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.  Rich in vitamin C, it also helps maintain a fully functioning immune system.  Using lemon juice when preparing leafty greens tends to brighten the dish and make much tastier!
 
Garlic and onions (ok, this is technically two, but they are both part of the allium family and kind of go together) make a very flavorful base when used in any savory dish, and have huge health benefits to boot.  When cooking any vegetable, I always begin by sautéing both with a little olive oil and then adding in my greens, with a little salt, pepper and any other spices that I’d like for the dish.

Experiment, have fun, and let me know some of your creations in the comments below!

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Sep
12
0

Tailgate Time!

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Although Kentucky is not my alma mater, it’s hard to live in Lexington without getting pulled in to the excitement of UK sports.  And I’m not a big sports fanatic, but there is something about football season that tugs at my heart a bit.  Perhaps because it’s a great excuse to hang around friends and enjoy some amazing weather. 

Last weekend, I got up bright and early to tailgate before the noon kickoff of the first UK home game.  With breakfast in mind, it was the perfect opportunity to try out a grain free kale and mushroom quiche, paired with fresh squeezed OJ for mimosas and a fresh fruit salad.  Fresh, simple, delicious.  

Kale and Mushroom Quiche

1 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 egg white
 
7 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup fresh kale
1/4 cup swiss cheese, grated
salt and pepper
 
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the flour, egg, and egg white until a dough forms. Press it into a baking dish or pie pan, and bake for 15 minutes.
While the crust bakes, sauté onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent. Add kale and cook down slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cheese, and coconut milk. Add onion, mushrooms, and kale.. Season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into pie crust. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until center is just slightly set. You want it to be slightly jiggly, but not loose.
Allow 15 minutes to cool, and serve warm.  
 
I would love to hear other great tailgate recipes.  Please share in the comments below!!
 
Cheers!
brooke.001

 

 

 

 

Jul
17
0

Cooling Summer Smoothies

I absolutely love the summer heat.  I’m the weird type that  just relishes getting in my car that has been basked by the sunlight for a few hours after sitting indoors in the air conditioning all day.  I guess it’s my version of a daily sauna session :)

But all that heat naturally makes my body crave lighter, raw, more hydrating foods.  I am such a green-smoothie girl, but lately, I’ve been making a lot of smoothies sans the greens for a lighter, refreshing mid-day snack.  I thought I’d share some of my favorites, along with some of the health benefits that go with them.

All of these are crazy delicious, super hydrating and so, so good for you.  The perfect refreshment for the hot summer heat of July and August!  

 

Watermelon Basil Refresher

2 cups diced watermelon
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple pieces
1/2 cup basil, torn into pieces

In a blender, mix all of the ingredients.

Health Benefits:  Watermelon is loaded with lycopene and Vitamin C.  Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which aids in protein digestion.  

 

Lemon Ginger Slushy

2 cups ice
2 lemons
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon minced ginger

In a blender, mix all of the ingredients.  

Health Benefits:  Lemons are extremely cleansing and wonderful for digestion.  Ginger is also a fantastic digestive aid, so this would be a fantastic drink to have after a meal for some extra digestive power!

 

Frozen Banana and Cacao Smoothie

*If you’re craving a milkshake, you gotta try this one!

1 cup almond milk (or purified water)
2 tablespoons cacao
1 frozen banana
2 tablespoons of almond butter
dash of cinnamon
handful of ice

In a blender, mix all of the ingredients.  

Health Benefits:  Cacao (not to be confused with cocoa) is the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate (minus its natural fat -cocoa butter and added sweeteners).  It is one of the most antioxidant rich foods that you can eat, plus it’s a fantastic source of magnesium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.  

 

Do you find yourself craving different foods in the hot months of the summer, and any particular smoothies that you like to make?  Let us know in the comments below! 

Stay cool :)

brooke.001

 

Jul
3
0

“Meaty” Veggie Burger

Happy 4th!  Summer is in full swing and I am loving it – sundresses, the farmers market, plenty of sunshine and relaxed backyard cookouts with great friends.  


I thought that in time for the holiday, I would share a veggie burger recipe that can hold it’s own against it’s red-meat counterpart.  Move over Boca Burger – this veggie burger is where it’s at!

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Everything in this burger is amazingly good for you so feel free to indulge!  

Lentils are loaded with B-vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorous.  Molasses is loaded with manganese, which helps your body produce energy from protein and carbohydrates, as well as play an important role in anti-oxidant reactions.  And it’s even got some spinach in there to get a good dose of calcium, vitamins A, C and K, and those amazing photo-nutirients found in leafy greens. 

This recipe is a little time consuming in that there are multiple steps – but don’t let that deter you, this one’s well worth the extra effort.  Fire up the grill (or make in the oven) – this burger is sure to please your vegetarian AND your meat-eating friends alike!!! 

Veggie Burgers

 
Ingredients
 
3/4 cup of cooked lentils
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
2 large sweet potatoes 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, ground or chopped
2 tbs molasses
1tsp cumin
2 tbs fresh parsely
1/2 tsp fresh cilantro
fresh pepper to taste
 
Recipe
 
If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F , and lightly oil a baking sheet.
Boil sweat potatoes until done (about 20 min) – mash and set aside
Oil saucepan and sauté garlic and onion until brown, add spinach and sauté until wilted
Pour spinach/onion/garlic into a bowl and add lentils, quinoa, mashed yams, walnuts, molasses, cumin, herbs, and pepper. 
mix well
Form patties and place on a well-oiled cookie sheet
Bake for 8-10 minutes on each side if grilling, and about 10 – 12 if baking.  
 
TIPS:
* If the patties aren’t holding together, adding some bread crumbs can help.  
* When you make the quinoa and lentils, make a little extra so you can eat for a later meal!  
 

Happy grill season!

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