healthycookinglclub

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest, revel in our abundance, and show gratitude for our many blessings.  To me, this means being fully present and engaged with those we love, and NOT having a hangover of guilt from over-indulging and “ditching our diet”.

Like any other day of the year, my philosophy for Thanksgiving is the same: prepare your meal with an abundance of wholesome, quality ingredients and be mindful as you eat.  Be present, be grateful, be joyful. 

So I decided to do a Healthy Cooking Club with traditional (and not so traditional) Thanksgiving side dishes – made only with fresh, whole ingredients.  Note: I did not make a turkey – I’ve actually never cooked a whole turkey in my entire life, and I didn’t really see a “lesson” in turkey preparation going very well.

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To start, we had a date, goat cheese and almond appetizer that was drizzled with a honey and balsalmic glaze.  It looks so fancy, but is a breeze to make.  To drink, we made Apple Spice Cocktails, using organic apple juice fused with cinnamon sticks.

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We prepared three side dishes.  First was Butternut Squash Spiked Mashed Potatoes.  The squash gave the potatoes a little extra kick, plus delivered an extra dose of nutrients.  We also made pan seared brussel sprouts, sliced thin and prepared with coconut oil, salt and pepper.  And then I also had made a kale and mushroom stuffing beforehand – this was my favorite!  Whole wheat bread from Bluegrass Bakery made it so tasty, and the kale and dried cranberry combination looked so pretty.

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I also prepared a salad that was loaded with “fall” ingredients…carrots, beets, pistachios, pumpkin seeds.  I think most people are surprised to eat raw beets and actually like them.  The trick is to cut them thin using a mandolin or a veggie spiralizer.  I really would love a mandolin but I know myself too well – I would cut the HELL out of myself trying to use that thing.  So I use my spiralizer, which is a bit more idiot-proof…

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Dessert was fresh cranberry and apple crumble.  I love crumbles because it is just that…a crumble.  No worries on making a perfect, roll-worthy dough.  Just mix the ingredients in a bowl and crumble it on top.  EASY!!!!  I used almond flour, so the dessert was gluten free.  And instead of whipped cream, I made a cashew cream in my vitamix.  So it was also dairy free.

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Great company, great food.  It’s what Healthy Cooking Club is all about!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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!

 

Sep
19
0

5 Smoothie Superfoods

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When I first became interested in nutrition and natural health, the very first book that I read was SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life.

And looking back, it actually kind of did change my life because if forever shifted the way that I view food.

Superfoods are a class of foods that have superior health benefits due to their high concentration of essential nutrients and antioxidants. These foods have the ability to give you great energy, protect against disease, and help in preventing (and even reversing!) signs of aging.

 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.

Cacao

AKA raw chocolate, this food is claimed as the highest antioxidant content on the Earth. High in magnesium, it helps regulate blood pressure, balance brain chemistry and keeps your regular. High in anandamide, the “bliss chemical”, cacao promotes feelings of rejuvenation and a sense of well-being. This banana cacoa smoothie is one of my favorites!

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids, making them a fantastic vegetarian protein source. They also contain 21 trace minerals and are A rich source of phytonutrients, which are the disease-protective element of plants help protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.  This is probably my go-to staple superfood add-in when making a green smoothie.

Maca

This Peruvian superfood is considered an adaptogen, which helps to increase energy, endurance and libido. It’s also been used to alleviate PMS symptoms and help with fertility by naturally balancing hormones. This can be purchased in powder form at Whole Foods or other health food stores. I recently bought this in bulk at the Dekalb Farmers Market in Atlanta for cheap! If you are in a larger city, you may want to check into purchasing this at an international market.

Spirulina

This natural algae is 63% protein and touted as the best source of plant based protein on the planet. Containing a high level of chlorophyll, it helps remove toxins from the body and boosts the immune system. It’s also a fantastic source of bio-available iron and other essential vitamins and minerals. I must admit that I don’t prefer the taste of this superfood and always make sure to hide it well in a smoothie by adding a little extra fruit J

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen supplies almost every single nutrient that the body needs for survival. It is packed with enzymes, which help break down and digest food, making it fantastic for aiding in digestion. It’s also rich in antioxidants, minerals, probiotoics and is considered one of the highest vibration foods in the world. Bee pollen is best bought locally (I buy mine at the farmer’s market,) And it even tastes delicious – no hiding flavor on this one!

Have you tried any of these super foods, or have any other favorites that you incorporate in a smoothie? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Xo,

Brooke

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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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Last Monday I held the second edition of Healthy Cooking Club at my home.  I absolutely LOVE hosting these dinners because it allows me to share how eating fresh, whole foods is so delicious and doesn’t have to be intimidating!  To me, that is what dining is all about – taking the time to prepare a meal with love and care, and then gathering together at the table to enjoy the food and the company.  

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What’s a nice evening without starting off with a fun cocktail?  We made fresh watermelon martinis – juiced watermelon and vodka with a twist of lime.  Simple.  Delicious.  

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For an appetizer, we made an Avocado Hummus with an Jalapeño kick.  It took about 7 minutes to prepare – and SO much tastier than the store bought stuff that’s often loaded with preservatives. 

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We then made some zucchini noodles with a veggie spiralizer…how fun are these?

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I love my spiralizer because you can make pretty noodles out of any vegetable…zucchini is my favorite for the summer.  You can top with a pesto, a nice olive oil and fresh tomatoes, a Thai Peanut Sauce…the possibilities are endless.  

Tonight, we topped with  a coconut broth that was adapted from this recipe:  http://www.loveandlemons.com/2013/07/15/zucchini-coconut-noodles/

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Simmering the coconut milk with the ginger, lemongrass, garlic and onion created an amazingly rich, decadent sauce.  For added protein, I baked chicken with olive oil and maple syrup, which adds just a little bit of sweetness to the chicken and it always turns out so tender!

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And there’s just not much better than fresh peaches in August.  So we grilled them and topped with a walnut crumble and coconut ice cream.  Divine!!!  And peaches are an awesome source of chlorogenic acid, a phytochemical that helps combat nasty free radicals that lead to disease and aging.  

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All in all, another fun night for a healthy cooking club!  If you are local, consider having me at your home to host a fun night with your friends!  

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I’m smitten.

I‘ve searched for the past year now for a non-toxic skincare line that has products that are effective and feel good on my skin.  Crickets.  

Until I found Beautycounter.

I love the company.  I love their mission.  I love their packaging.  And I LOVE their products.  And so I just had to be a part of it.  

The mission: To get safe products into the hands of everyone.  

Life is precious and having good health is everything.  And our environment impacts our health A LOT.  

We are repeatedly exposed to thousands of chemicals throughout our daily routines, many that have never been tested for safety.  Many others are known carcinogens (cancer causing), function as endocrine disruptors, mimicking or blocking important hormone signals in our bodies, or act as neurotoxins, allergens, or are considered learning and developmental toxins.  

It is absolutely INSANE that here in the US, a company has to differentiate itself on safety.  But the US has not passed a law in the US on ingredients in personal care products since 1938.  The EU has banned over 1300 ingredients in the past couple decades – and in the United States…11.  Say what?!!

I love Beautycounter because they are dedicated to providing information that makes the world healthier, and deliver products that you can trust are safe.  They have banned over 1500 ingredients that they will never use in any of their products and their ingredient selection process is the strictest in the industry.  Their entire selection process is laid out right on the website.  

But not only that, the products outperform many of the other products on the market.  And the cherry on top…they are chic and affordable.  I truly believe this is hands down the BEST skin care line available.  

So to celebrate my launch with Beautycounter, I’m offering a complimentary 50 minute health coaching session with any $100 purchase for the month of August.  You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your life, the goals you’d like to accomplish for your health and some quick tips and tools that will allow you to get started on your wellness journey. 

  1. Just click on this link to shop: brookemontgomery.beautycounter.com

  2. I’ll email you within 24 hours of your purchase to setup our 50 minute conversation, either by phone or Skype (your choice!)

  3. We’ll talk 50 minutes, solely dedicated to you and your health  

Here’s a great video with a little more information on Beautycounter and their mission:

 

 Health is a journey, not a destination – and I can’t wait to help get you started on yours. 

xo, 

brooke.001

 

Helen Keller

My cousin Kasey has been sending out a daily text message mantra with just a simple message to serve as a little dose of morning inspiration for the rest of the day. Last week, she asked if I would share a mantra and so I sent her the above quote and this reflection:

Is it possible to completely accept our circumstances as they are, while still working towards where we want to be? We often treat acceptance as apathy, or something we must do with a sense of victimhood if our circumstances aren’t as we have hoped. But what if the only way to ultimately get what you want in life is to fully accept where you are right now? We can have goals, dreams and desires for our future life at the same time that we fully embrace our circumstances in the present moment. Life only happens in the present. And if we’re so busy living our future lives in our heads, why would we ever expect to get there?

I’ve been exploring this concept a lot lately, especially how it relates to my life right now, as well as for the clients that I work with.

We tend to get caught in the “when I” syndrome – “WHEN I get (to my ideal weight, the perfect guy, my dream job), THEN I’ll be/do (happy, the dream trip, more family time, …)”

For years, I told myself that once I was married, I could fully pursue the life I wanted. I would start my dream job as a health coach and yoga instructor, I’d go on cool trips, and cook fancy dinners. After lots of self-reflection and a few self-help reads (ok, lots of self-help reads), I’ve realized that I don’t need to wait. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on the idea of one day getting married and finding someone to do all that stuff with, but that I can be fully engaged and 100% grateful for the life that I have right now.

I see the same concept in the way that women feel in their bodies. It’s easy to think – “If I accept my body, then I’ll never get to the weight I want to be” just as much as “If I accept my life as being single, then I’ll never find someone to spend the rest of my life with”.

But just because we accept ourselves does not mean we can’t have desires and goals.  And by doing so, we release the hatred, angst and misery that causes us to many times perpetuate our circumstances and feel stuck.  

Here’s a good little analogy for you:

My dream house is a restored downtown house with an amazing backyard area, a kitchen with a big island and luxurious master suite.  But right now, I live in a small little house with a tiny backyard.  But just because I’m not in my dream home doesn’t mean I hate waking up in my house every morning.  I LOVE my house and I’ve taken a lot of time and effort to make it a comfortable, warm environment that’s decorated just how I want it.

Just because I want my dream house doesn’t mean I have to hate where I am now.  And on the flip side, by loving my house, it doesn’t mean that I’ve given up living in my restored downtown home.  I know my dream house will happen one day, but it’s not where I’m at right now.  I’m patient. 

We can say the same thing for our bodies, our job, or whatever it is that is “not where we want to be.”  

Here are a few things that have helped me to fully be “here”:

  • Check in with yourself if you start the “when I’s”.  Do you think you can only feel or do something a certain way when something outside of you changes? 

  •  When you get tripped up in your future destination, take a deep breath and gently (and lovingly) remind yourself to be here now. 

  • What feelings are missing and how will you feel when you experience the external change? 

  • How can you bring those feeling into your life NOW, such as more connection in your relationships, more excitement for your work, or more serenity to your current situation?

  • If you tend to self-sabotage with bad habits, what is it that you need that you are not giving yourself?  If you binge on food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, unfulfilling sex – are you bored, lonely, stressed?  Do you need to feel more fun, connection, love?  What do you really need and how can you bring that to your life with positive changes that get you to where you want to be?  

For more inspiration and insight on this topic, I recommend these two books:

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything – if you’ve struggled with body image, emotional eating or really just being unsatisfied in any areas of your life, this book is life changing.  I re-read almost the entire book just to get the full impact of Geneen’s words. 

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul – we make decisions based on how they make us feel.  Tap into this and it’s a whole new way to look at setting future goals and desires.  

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Does any of this resonate with you?  

With love,

 brooke.001

 

 

 

 

 

Jul
22
6

How to Make a Green Smoothie

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So I’m venturing into the world of video blogging.  So for my first post, I decided that it would be great to demonstrate how simple it is to make a green smoothie.  They are easy and delicious – and I always have an extra little pep in my step when I start my morning with one :)

Watch my short little video below. 

  

 

Do you have any smoothie recipes that you love?  Share in the comments below!

 

Cheers!

brooke.001

I LOVE making hummus.  You can use it as a veggie dip, put it on sandwiches in place of mayo, or I especially love it on toast with an over-easy egg. Hummus is incredibly easy to make and much, much tastier than anything you can buy at the store.  

My twist on the classic hummus recipe was featured on MBG this week…you can check it out here!

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cocnutoil

You know those things that once you discover, you can’t imagine your life without it anymore…coconut oil is that for me. 

I keep two jars – one in my bathroom and one in my kitchen – and use both of them like crazy.

One of coconut oil’s most touted nutrients is lauric acid, a type of good fat found in breast milk. This medium chain fatty acid is sent directly to your liver where it is immediately converted into energy. It’s been shown to help boost your immune system, improve your skin, and aid your body in burning fat. Coconut oil also has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which supports gut health and wound healing.

 Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it’s usually found in a glass jar. The oil’s melting point is around 78°F. For beauty uses, warm it between your hands and slather it on. For cooking, just dip the glass jar in hot water so the oil melts a bit before adding it to recipes. Just be sure not to warm it up in the microwave – you’ll kill the majority of the good stuff!

Also, be sure that you buy the raw, virgin organic coconut oil in order to get the most benefits.

There are loads of things you can do with coconut oil, but here are 5 of my favorites that I use most often:

Cook veggies

Coconut oil pairs beautifully with bitter greens like kale or swiss chard. Add a little salt and pepper and either sauté over a medium heat or roast in the oven. Brussels sprouts are also delicious with coconut oil – check out an easy, quick recipe here.

Body Lotion

If you’re into natural beauty products, you can’t get more natural than this. It’s naturally high in the anti-oxidant vitamin-E and not to mention, the oil has just a faint hint of a tropical beach-y smell and gives your skin a nice little glow. I slather it on right after my shower.

Mouth Wash (oil pulling)

Oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic technique, sounded a bit “out there” for me at first – but I’m telling you, do this and you’ll have whiter teeth, fresher breath and that awesome “clean mouth” feeling that you usually only get after teeth cleanings at the dentist. When you wake up in the morning, put about 1 tablespoon in your mouth and swish around for 5 to 20 minutes. Swish it between your teeth and up and down, but don’t gargle or swallow – you don’t want any of the toxins to go down your throat! Spit the oil out in the trash or toilet – a sink may clog – and then rinse with warm water and brush as usual.

Bake with it

You can replace any butter or vegetable oil for equal amounts coconut oil for a healthier version of your dish. It will have a faint coconut flavor, so use it in dishes that will pair well with it.

Blend in a Smoothie

Put a tablespoon into your green smoothies for a yummy creamy texture. The good fat will help you absorb more of the nutrients from the other ingredients and your gut will benefit from the antimicrobial properties.

Quick note: Coconut oil does contain high amounts of saturated fat; however, it’s in the form of medium chain fatty acids, which are immediately converted into energy, and are much different that the long chain fatty acids found in animal products. However, still be mindful of how much you consume – just because it’s good for you, we can still use moderation!

Do you use coconut oil? Share some of your favorites below!

 Cheers!