50 Tips To Positively Affect Your Health: Day 3 – Nutrition

 

Some tips I do not mention here as far as Nutrition goes that I have tried:

NuGo Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Pretzel -Amazon.com

Organic Valley, Organic Balance, Organic Milk Protein Shake Amazon.com.  Available in Chocolate or Vanilla

https://www.graze.com/us/  Graze.com has a $13.99 monthly subscription option where you can pick and choose the kind of snacks that fit your diet.  If you like them, you can choose the Love It option to make sure its sent to you again, or you can choose the Trash It option to make sure you never receive that snack again. The best part is you can skip a month or cancel anytime.

 

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Doterra vitamin supplements.  In past videos on YouTube, I have mentioned that I have tried to take various multivitamin supplements with some unpleasant side effects.  Last year, I tried the Microplex Food Nutrient Complex which has a number of vitamins plus a tummy tamer blend (Peppermint, Ginger and Caraway), which has enabled me to keep taking it daily as I have had no unpleasant reactions or IBS flare up.

 

Fiber is important in anyone’s diet.  When you have Diverticulitis or IBS-C (constipation dominant), fiber is a necessity.  When you can’t eat mango, banana, blueberries or garbanzo beans which are my favorite.  The next best thing is a cereal or oatmeal.  Quaker Instant Oatmeal high fiber, is quick and easy.  You can get this on Amazon if you want to buy in bulk, or pretty much any supermarket.

When you suffer from IBS-A (constipation and diarrhea), you need something that will both clog and unclog the pipes, if you will, as needed.  Bobs Red Mill Cereal Hot High Fiber Cereal which contains Flaxseeds, is perfect for this.  You can get this at most supermarkets, health food stores and of course…Amazon.com.

Fresh veggies whenever possible are also a great source of fiber to keep you full longer and get you going not to mention some other vitamins and nutrtients like Beta Carotene, protein, B Vitamins and Potassium.  My favorites are:
Collard Greens – I use them in my Meat Beans and Veggie Stew 
Carrots- I usually eat them raw with Hummus
Baked Sweet Potato
Cannellini Beans (I use these in my Meat Beans and Veggie Stew , Cassoulet and Butternut Squash Soup

Bone Broth is choc full of goodies for your body, provided you have the time to make it fresh, or can eat the ones they sell in supermarkets or in other places like https://barneysb

onebroth.com/ .  I cannot any of these, so I tried Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein powder mentioned in the video above.  There are certainly other brands that you can try, but the one I have tried thus far is the Chocolate packet.  It’s better to purchase sample packets as opposed to a big can of it.  For free sample, try Ancient Nutrition.com

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Heathers Tummy Care is special for people with IBS.  I did try this, and while it didn’t work for me, it may work for you!  Remember that IBS is as unique as a thumbprint.  Everyone’s triggers, symptoms, no no foods, and yeah I can eat this foods can be different.

I hope this helps.  I’ll keep posting more tips soon!!!

 

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

I love the holidays!!!! Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorites because of all the wonderful food that we spend all day cooking and then get to enjoy it with family.

When your life is stressful and hectic (many of us are these days), it’s a treat to have everyone sit at the table and say something we are thankful for. Sometimes that part isn’t easy, but it’s necessary so we can remember and appreciate what we have in the present moment.

This year has been super tough, but I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and have my family who are my best friends.

I’m also thankful that although I work 7days a week, last Saturday I had a later shift at my second job which allowed me to watch The Chew, which featured some Thanksgiving dishes. One of them was Homemade Green Bean Casserole made by Pioneer Woman, Red Drummond.

This is a dish I’ve never in my life had before. Traditionally it has ingredients both my mother and myself cannot eat so when I saw this my eyes almost popped put of head!! jumped out of my chair with excitement at the thought I’d finally be able to eat a dish I’ve always wanted to try.

I had to tweak this recipe as well but I love to cook and I love to try new meals sooo this was just perfect! It may not be the traditional way of making this plate, but sometimes you have to start your own traditions!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
  • 8 slices Bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 orange pepper julienne
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 plum tomato seeded and diced
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour or Gluten free flour
  • 2-1/4 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed powder
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs

Directions

Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.

You can blanch the green beans: drop them into boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. I cooked them for 8minutes, drained them and put them in an ice bath in a small bowl to stop the cooking process.

Drain the beans once they’re cool and set aside.

Add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for 7-8 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp).

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the coriander, espresso and celery seed powder, then add the grated parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts, then add the bacon, tomatoes and peppers. Stir to combine.

In a small 8×8 baking dish spread out the green beans, then pour the sauce over green beans and stir gently to combine. Top with gluten free bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and bread crumbs are golden.

Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan

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After a bit of hiatus, I was back in the kitchen, doing what I love to do. Cooking a new dish. This time, I wanted to make a new dish for my mother’s birthday and in the supermarket I decided to google ‘chicken dishes’.

Enter Tyler Florence’s Chicken Parmesan! I scanned the recipe and bam! My mind was flooded with ideas on how to tweak it. On a limited budget and with no gluten-free flour sold near me, I opted to use what I had on hand…garbanzo bean flour. A tasty and rich choice that anyone would love.

The result? A delicious and heart gluten-free dish that made my stomach happy and made me beam with pride as I served it to the woman who has shown me only love and support throughout my life, on her birthday. Was I exhausted by the end of the day after also making a cake? YES, was it worth it TOTALLY!

Give it a try!!!
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN PARMESAN

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves (julienne)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • Pinch sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of celery seed powder
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup dried gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, water drained
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound gluten free spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions, then drain, cover and set aside.

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In a small pot, add the olives, basil, tomatoes,celery seed powder, bay leaf, oregano, sugar and salt. Cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.

Now, place 3 bowls next to each other. In the 1st add the flour, in the 2nd add the eggs and water, in the 3rd add the gluten free bread crumbs with 1 teaspoon of celery seed powder.

In a baggie, add each chicken breast individually and pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/2-inch thick.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large pan. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

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Place the chicken in an oven safe pan and then ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil.

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Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot over the gluten free spaghetti.

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My Version Of Bibimbap

Sometimes the inspiration to cook is all around you. Sometimes, no matter what you do or where you go you still can’t come up with or decide on a new dish to make. Watching cooking shows, however, can not only make you drool, they can also help the light bulb go off if you have ‘cookers block’.

I was watching Chopped on the Food Network and the chef who made it to the final round got to not only choose the dish to make but he would also go up against Bobby Flay to cook it and present it to the judges.

The dish chosen? Bibimbap. This is a wonderful Korean dish I used to have when I frequented this delicious and popular little Korean Restaurant called Mandoo Bar in downtown Manhattan. It was always warm and delicious, with scallions (my once favorite member of the onion family) and tons of flavor!!!

Well, watching these chefs whip up this fabulous dish made me jealous and nostalgic. It also inspired me to give this dish a try. I must say, the smells alone of the sesame seed oil took me back to the days when I would frequent that restaurant and devour the dumplings, scallion pancakes, bibimbap and endless refills of Green Tea!

Give this a try and let me know how it turns out! I’m sure your family and friends will think you ordered out!
BIBIMBAP
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium gluten-free Kikkoman soy sauce or the soy sauce of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon of celery seed powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (this can be omitted if you are sensitive to ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon from juice from a key lime or regular lime
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 3 cups of cooked white rice (I used Minute Instant Rice for this to save time)
  • 1-2 pounds thinly sliced (1/8-inch) boneless beef rib-eye steak
  • 1 zucchini cubed
  • 1/3 cup chopped bok choy (about 4-5 stalks)
  • 1 package of baby portobello mushrooms diced
  • 2 eggs cooked sunny side up or overeasy

Whisk the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Cover; chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

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Add the sesame oil and strips of meat to a large pan along with the juices and cook until brown. About 5 minutes on medium high heat. *If your pan is small, then cook these strips of meat in 2 to 3 batches to ensure they all cook properly.

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Remove the meat and set aside in a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.

Add the bok choy, zucchini and portobello mushrooms and cook until slightly tender. About 5minutes.

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Now add the cooked bok choy, mushroom and eggs to the bowl, mix thoroughly to break up the eggs and serve.

***Recipe Modifications***

1) For a bit extra you can add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the marinade for the meat.

2)Instead of rib eye steak, you can use 2 packages of pepper steak for a less expensive option.

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Egg sunny side up
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Eggs can be cooked over easy if you prefer it that way

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Gluten-Free Chicken Spaghetti w/Tomato Parsley Sauce

I have loved, loved pasta since I was little. The dishes I had were always hearty and filling and super tasty. When I found I could no longer indulge in my favorite pasta dishes 3yrs ago, I felt like something was missing from my life. The list of things I could not eat was growing at a concerning rapid rate. The versatility, the richness, the ease of a making a quick pasta dish is all I could think about since I was used to eating pasta at least 1-2 times a week.

I tried a few pastas. Some with just corn flour, others with corn and Quinoa, corn and rice, penne, spaghetti, and macaroni noodles and they all didn’t agree with me. They had a texture that was like mushy marshmallow dipped in sand. It had an unpleasant mealy cardboard-like flavor that tested my gag reflexes. No sauce could save the dish for me. Others may enjoy these pastas and that’s wonderful. I however, continued to search for pasta that tasted like what I was normally used to.

So far I have found two pastas that I really enjoy. Bionaturae penne pasta, and Bonta d’Italia spaghetti which I’m super grateful to have found at my local supermarket.

Now all I needed was a recipe which I found that I could tweak from Taste of Home. Their version is a Chicken in Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce .

An acquaintance asked me recently how she could modify recipes. I told her, when I look at a recipe I see what I can omit, what I can substitute, and what I would like to add that would mesh well in the dish and add flavor. For example, they use Wheat Pasta, I used GF pasta. They used pepper and salt to flavor, I used Celery seed powder, oregano and thyme. They use Feta Cheese and I used Edam cheese to top the pasta before serving. They use evaporate milk to make a creamy sauce. I use gluten free bread crumbs to thicken the sauce.

Sometimes your experiments may not pan out, but you never know until you try. If you have dietary issues, you owe it to yourself to tap into your inner MacGyver in the kitchen and make creations that would make anyone jealous. Most importantly, you won’t feel like your missing out on the good stuff!
Gluten-Free Chicken Spaghetti w/Tomato Parsley Sauce
Prep time 10minutes
Cooking time 30minutes
Serves 4

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the chicken
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the pasta water
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 package of Portobello mushrooms sliced
  • 3 stalks of bok choy chopped
  • 1 15oz can of chicken broth
  • 1 box of gluten-free Bonta d’Italia spaghetti or the spaghetti brand of your choice
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley leaves chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed powder
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1/4 cup of gluten-free bread crumbs (this is optional, I use it because it thickens the sauce)
  • Edam cheese (grate as much as you like over the pasta)

Directions

In a pot with boiling water and a tablespoon of olive oil, cook GF pasta for 8minutes (GF pasta is a bit delicate so you want to undercook it since you will be cooking it again with the sauce). Drain and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, add the olive oil, butter and balsamic vinegar for 3 minutes then add 1/3 cup of chicken broth and chicken. Cook until no longer pink, about 7 more minutes. Leave the liquid in the pan and set aside the chicken in a bowl.

In the same skillet, saute tomatoes, mushrooms, bok choy, tomato sauce, celery seed powder gluten free bread crumbs, oregano and parsley until cooked. About 7minutes.

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Add the pasta and cooked chicken and toss. Then add the rest of the chicken broth and toss to coat all the noodles.

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Grate Edam cheese over the hot pasta just before serving.

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MEAT, BEANS & VEGETABLE SOUP. Continuing my food journey with renewed energy.

 

 

Today I was once again watching my absolute favorite movie, Julie and Julia.  Mind you, I have seen this movie a few times before.  This time around however, the similarities between myself and both Julie Powell and Julia Child seem to scream at me. Diving back into this blog, I also have been spending a good portion of my small paycheck to create new dishes.  Like Julia Child, my knife skills also sucked until I took class at ICE 2years ago.  Now cutting veggies which took FOREVER, take a few minutes at the most!

20170116_163523.jpgThe best part of this movie is it re-affirmed to me how much I LOVE cooking.  I believe the dietary issues have made me even better since I have to now think outside the recipe box. Revising a recipe has truly become easier for me.  I get inspired now just from looking at a picture of a dish in a magazine which feels wonderful given the fact that I seemed to have lost my spark in the past 3 years due to work and health issues which sidelined me completely.  I had even gotten to the point where I believed I wasn’t deserving of this beautiful pearl necklace that my dear hairstylist, whom I have been going to since grade school, gave to me when I was going to pastry school. She proudly said to me that I reminded her of “La muchacha en la pelicula de comida” (the girl in the food movie).  I was truly honored then and I am proud to wear it again now.  I may not be able to go back to the restaurant anytime soon due to the intense physical demands, but I will continue to fight to cook at home at least, and get my creations out there via this blog.

I hope to inspire those who always wanted to cook and those who have dietary issues like myself.  I know firsthand what its like to not eat my old favorites like Onion Soup, or Penne a la Vodka or the authentic version of Panzanella. However, now I create dishes with my own twist to them, keeping as much to the original version as possible.  This makes me feel triumphant!  It gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and it feels great!

Last week for example we were having a lunch as a goodbye to our co-worker, who although was still going to be within our department, was moving to LA.  They were ordering Chinese food along with several people bringing in fruits, cheeses and cake. I was not going to miss out on this as I have once before. Snacking on a piece of fruit and cake and starving till dinner so I made my quick and easy Cassoulet.

On todays menu, will be a recipe i saw from Bon Appetit Magazine.

My version will be Meat, Beans and Vegetable Soup
Prep time 10minutes 
Cooking Time 50-55minutes
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb of cubed meat
6 Collard green leaves cut in strips
2 cans Turkey Broth
2 cans of Chicken Broth
3 Carrots (cut into rounds)
3 stalks of celery (sliced or chopped)
2 Bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh Tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
1/8 tsp of Celery Seed powder  (you can use the same amount of coriander powder if you don’t have this)

In a pot on medium heat, put in the meat and brown all over.  About 8 minutes.

Now add all the ingredients listed above and cook for 50-55 minutes or until the meat is tender.

*NOTE*
1) The collard greens are a tough leaf but they should be cooked within 20minutes which is well within the time frame listed above.

2) If you don’t eat beef, you can always substitute 1 chicken breast cubed.  If using chicken, reduce cooking time to 40-45minutes or until the chicken is tender and no longer pink.

3) If you do NOT eat beef or chicken, you can add sliced Portobello mushrooms for a beefy flavor and reduce cooking time here to 30minutes.

 

 

Cassoulet

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I love trying my hand at making different dishes from around the world. Every dish has my special touch since I have to add and subtract ingredients to make it not only work for me but to ensure that it tastes good. Many of my dishes may not be authentic to the original recipe but they are unique and I’m proud to serve them and post my creations.

In this case I tried my hand at Cassoulet. Traditional Cassoulet from the late, great Julia Child calls for goose fat, sausage, plenty of garlic and french bread, plus about a pound of fat and lean salt pork. All of course sound divine but alas, a revamp was in order.

After revising the recipe a few times, I came up with this light, creamy take on this french dish that has a delightful smokiness with every bite with the addition of bacon.
CASSOULET

4-6 skin-on chicken thighs, bone-in
1 package of bacon cooked and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of canned Cannelini or navy beans
1/3 cup white wine (I use Barefoot Pinot Grigio)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of tarragon finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon of fresh Oregano)
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes sliced
1/4 cup of 4C Gluten Free Bread crumbs (unseasoned)

Seasoning for the chicken
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons of Coriander
Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and rub a little bit of the mixture on each piece of chicken

2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil to cook brown the chicken

DIRECTIONS

Place a pot on medium heat and add some olive oil or cooking oil to the pan. Then add the seasoned chicken to brown on both sides. About 4 minutes on each side. Then add the carrots, celery, tarragon, thyme or oregano, beans, white wine, bay leaf, chicken broth and bread crumbs. Stir until all ingredients are mixed, cover the pot and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. **Add the tomato to the pot after 25 minutes. **

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While the chicken is cooking, in a pan cook the bacon. Make sure to have a plate with paper towels ready to place the cooked bacon on to absorb any excess fat. When cool, cut into small pieces and mix in with the chicken.

Serve immediately.

Can be served with a piece of toasted french baguette or Udi’s Gluten free baguette. If you’re in the mood for a drink, pair it with Boston Beer Angry Orchard, it’s low in alcohol and is Gluten-free!!!

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Creamy Macaroni w/Bacon and Edamame

I’m in a job where the word ‘revision’ makes you roll your eyes and want to yell aww man! That’s only because it requires changes and doing things over again. No biggie unless it comes at the end of the day on a Friday. Booo! However ‘revisions’ don’t have to be a bad thing. For example, having to revising a term paper or a few chapters in your book can lead to a better grade or a bestseller.

When it comes to food, a revision sometimes may just be a necessary thing. Case in point? The following is a recipe I posted on the website onhergame, but now my stomach has become a bit sensitive to breads and pastas.

So I just updated the recipe to incorporate gluten free items so I can still enjoy one of my favorite recipes!
INGREDIENTS

1 Box of macaroni (regular or Gluten-free free)
1 bag of frozen Edamame( or peas if you can’t eat soy)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of cornstarch or 2 tablespoons of Gluten-free bread crumbs
1/2 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of paprika
1 tablespoon of espresso
1 tablespoon of soy sauce of your choice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 package of bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup of either grated or shaved parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Place on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the fat and cut it into small pieces after its cooled a bit.

Bring a large covered saucepot of salted water to a boil. Add the Macaroni and cook for 7 minutes or until al dente. Drain the water and put in back in the pot.

In another pot cook frozen edamame for 5 minutes or until it’s slightly firm to the bite and drain and add it to the pasta.

In a measuring cup or bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the milk. Then whisk in the coriander, paprika, espresso, olive oil and soy sauce. Add to a skillet whisking frequently and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan.

Add the sauce and bacon to the pasta and edamame and stir until combined. If needed add some salt to taste.

Trader Joe’s Treasures

If you are working long hours sometimes you get hungry.  If you’re watching tv, sometimes you’re mind wanders to food.  Boredom can also  bring on the ravenous feelings.  Whatever the case, instead of reaching for a bag of salty garlic-onion chips look for a healthier substitute.

You can still eat chips but there are alternatives to the usual bag of greasy spuds.  A few that I have tried that I enjoy are:

Trader Joe’s Inner Peas They’re baked not fried.  The green pods are also crunchy, tasty and haves 230mg of Potassium.  Only problem is they are addicting.  These are pretty cheap.  Between $1.49-$1.99 for a 3.3 ounce bag.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries These are a bit pricey, about $3.49 for an 8oz bag.  They are delicious and contain at least 30% vitamin C but they also have 24grams of sugar for every 1/4cup.

Still have junk food craving?  Maybe you want some cheese?  Trader Joe’s White Cheddar Corn Puffs give you the most for your money.  These $1.99 for a 7oz bag and only 140 calories.

Trader Joe’s movie theater popcorn is probably better than the popcorn at actual theaters and at $1.99 much easier on the wallet.

Give it a try if you have a Trader Joes near you or you can purchase them on Amazon but for a higher price.  They’re definitely not as heavy as other snacks allowing you to cheat a little more without upsetting your tummy.

ENJOY!

 

 

 

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

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I am truly the happiest when I am immersed in anything that involves food. Whether it’s watching a cooking show, browsing food sites for ideas on a new dish I can whip up, I’m ready to go. Sometimes however, inspiration is hard to come by.

A while ago, my mother turned me on to Rachel Khoo. My mother loves her show because she said Rachel reminded her of me and the way I am when I’m relaxed and not the bundle of stress I usually am. (I have meditation and my recent use of DoTerra Oils to thank for that.

Her dynamic personality indeed did remind of my love for the kitchen. Since then I have tackled a few of her recipes with complete success. One episode in particular however, got me digging into my kitchen utensil drawer and putting on my apron.

In an episode of The Cosmopolitan Cook, Rachel went to a restaurant in Nice, France called Chat noir chat blanc and goes into the kitchen to watch them work their magic. The best part was there was no set recipe or how to cook these. It was just a wonderful inside look into how the two chef’s got together while they stuffed meat into beautiful mini veggies.

Among the veggies they cooked are pattypans, which I have never had the pleasure of eating. One look at those pattypans and I was determined to make them and so the hunt began for these mini saucer shaped squash. It was just by luck that I happen to come across a package of these green beauties at a supermarket close to my job.

The best part is these little guys are soo easy to prepare. You can stuff them with ground beef if you like, cooked portobello mushrooms or cook them and eat them as is. These make a great snack or healthy appetizer!
STUFFED PATTYPAN SQUASH
1 package of pattypan squash
1/3 cup of finely chopped cabbage
1 plum tomato cut into very small cubes
1 teaspoon of mayonnaise (vegan mayo can also be used)
2 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Once the water begins to boil add all the pattypans and cook for 6-8minutes or until fork tender. Remove them from the pot and cut the stems off and set aside.


In bowl mix the cabbage, tomato and mayo. At this point you can either stuff the squash with the mixture or cook the cabbage filling for 1-2minutes in a pan on medium low heat if you cannot eat raw foods.

Now take half a teaspoon of filling to stuff the pattypans and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

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Quick and Healthy Avocado Stuffed Mushrooms

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I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE avocados. Avocados are packed with vitamins and are a good source of healthy fats. They also keep you fuller longer thanks to the fact that they fiber.

They are soo creamy and can be paired with a variety of different dishes. Want a sandwich? Instead of Mayo try smearing the bread with avocado! Want a fresh and raw snack? Mash up some avocados and pipe them inside hollowed and seeded cherry tomatoes!

Skies the limit when it comes to these bad boys, so give them a try. J

Avocado Stuffed Mushrooms

2 packages baby Portobello mushrooms
1 hass avocado
1teaspoon of sour cream (optional)
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon
Salt to Taste

First, break off the stem to all the mushrooms. Next, with a damp towel, gently rub the dirt off all the mushrooms. (I personally rinse them quick in cold water afterward because I’m picky, but you don’t have to)

Now place all the mushrooms in a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil over them.

Bake these for 15-20minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10minutes.

While these are baking, scoup out the meat in the avocado and place is in a bowl with the sour cream and lemon and mash it up with a fork. Now add salt to taste.

Take the mushrooms out of the oven and let them cool for about 10minutes.

Put the avocado in the piping bag and pipe them into the mushroom caps filling them generously with the avocado mixture and serve.

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Honey-Dijon Wings

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I love chicken. I love the the fact that you can cook it a dozen different ways. Chicken can be made as a stand alone dish or added to a salad, soup, pasta dish…you name it!

This dish is simple, easy and doesn’t need too many ingredients.

Serves 4 (these are small wings so you can double the recipe if you have more people coming over or if anyone in your party of 4 want seconds)

1 package of small chicken wings (about 16wings)
3 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
4 tablespoons of Honey
½ teaspoon of mustard powder
¼ teaspoon of celery seeds
2 tsp of salt

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Brush 2 large baking dishes with vegetable oil. Pat the wings dry. Spread them between 2 sheets so they bake evenly until golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

As the chicken cooks, whisk together the dijon mustard, honey, mustard powder and celery seeds in a bowl. Remove the wings from the oven and toss with the mustard mixture, then continue baking until glazed, 5 to 6 more minutes and serve!

This dish goes great with a side of my Butternut Squash Soup!

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Butternut Squash Soup

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It’s when I’m at the calmest and most relaxed state that the recipes come easily to me. I received an immersion blender as a Christmas gift and of course I knew I wanted to make some sort of soup and put this bad boy to use!

Butternut Squash is something that had been wanting to do for quite some time as I have heard it has a creamy texture that can be use in both savory and sweet dishes. What better dish than a bowl of soup when you feel like you’re coming down with something?

For this recipe I used turkey broth, but you can substitute with chicken or vegetable broth if you like.

If you cannot find Havarti cheese, you can use Italian Fontina cheese in this. If you do not like cheese at all in your soups you can omit this ingredient.

To add a bit more crunch to the soup, feel free to add croutons when serving! (For those who cannot have bread, you can cut some Glutinos or Udi’s white sandwich bread or purchase a french baguette and cut in small cubes and toast them on a pan and top the soup with these.)

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Serves 4

4 cans of turkey broth
3 stalks of bok choy roughly chopped
1 can of Cannellini beans
2 carrots thinly sliced
1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded

1 Small kabocha squash (optional)
1 teaspoon of dry tarragon
¼ cup of shredded Havarti cheese

Directions

Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into small cubes.* Now peel and thinly slice the carrots*

In a pot, pour the 4 cans of turkey broth, add the squash, carrots, tarragon, salt and cook on medium high heat between 20-25minutes or until both the carrots and squash are fork tender. Take the pot off the heat.

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*If you are using the Kabocha Squash* Cut the squash in quarters and place in a separate pot with boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.

Then scoop out the squash and place in a bowl with the butternut squash and carrots and puree with an immersion blender.

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Put the pot back on the heat and add the bok choy, cannellini and cheese. Cook another 10-15minutes until the bok choy has softened. Top with toasted croutons and add some more cheese if you like and enjoy!!

Serve this with a side of my Honey-Dijon wings or by itself!!

NOTE* I chop both carrots and squash into small pieces since they cook a lot faster this way.

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Mini Whoopie Pies

When it comes to savory foods, if I’m not whipping up something of my own, I will take a recipe and modify it to suit my dietary restrictions.

When it comes to dessert I stick to the recipe for the most part but sometimes I feel that less is more prompting me to give the whoopie pie a little makeover. I wanted to make them like bite sized like a petit four making them a big hit at a small party I catered for two years ago. Also since I love bittersweet chocolate, I wanted to use that as a filling instead of the usual marshmallow fluff.

When it comes to food, dessert and life, creativity and an open mind are all you need to push forward, create a scrumptious masterpiece, get ahead and bring a little sunshine into your day.

Mini Cocoa Whoopie Pies W/Bittersweet Ganache

4 egg yolks
2/3 cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
2 tsp of baking powder
¼ tsp of salt
1/2 tablespoon of cocoa powder
8 tablespoons of soft butter

Chocolate Ganache Filling

1 cup of bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

In a small bowl mix the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla until creamy.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and mix well. Then add butter and milk and mix till smooth. Now beat the egg mixture in just until it’s incorporated.

Spray 4 mini muffin pans with Pam and fill each cup with 2 tablespoons of the batter.

Bake for 10-14 minutes until golden and they slightly firm to the touch. Let them cool for 10 minutes.

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it just starts to boil, then pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and whisk by hand until the chocolate has melted completely. Let the Ganache cool a few minutes so it can thicken.

Now with an offset spatula, a piping bag, or a teaspoon, fill one side of the whoopie pie and place another whoopie on the top and sandwich together. (You don’t need that much of the chocolate. A teaspoon sized amount is plenty).

Yields 36-40 whoopie pies.