Build a better Breakfast

2016 is here! I hope you are ready to eat healthy. This year’s trend is all about simple and easy ways to make your meals easy. Meal prepping can be a pain if you do not practice and get a regular routine going. The more you do it, consistently, the easier it will be.

Check out some of these delightful and simple breakfast meals: 

Pecan Maple Oatmeal

In a lare saucepan, bring 3 1/4 cups water and dash of salt to a boil. Stir in 2 cups oats and 1 sliced banana. Reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes. When the water has been absorbed into the oats, remove from heat and stir in another sliced banana, 1-2 tsp. stevia or splenda or sugar, 1/4 cup diced pecans, and drizzle of maple syrup. Sprinkle each 1 cup serving with cinnamon on top.

If you would like to prepare the oatmeal the night before. Place oats in a container, that has a lid. Add water or almond milk until the oats are completely covered. Add sliced bananas, cinnamon and sweetener. Soak overnight, covered. It the morning heat the 1 cup serving and then top with diced pecans.

*Easy and delicious

Whole wheat English with Sliced Eggs 

Toast a whole wheat English muffin. Top each side of the English muffin with 1 wedge laughing cow light cheese, divided. Pre boil eggs and sliced 2 boiled eggs (one on each English muffin) and enjoy!

Spinach and Green Chile Omelet

In a saucepan, add 1/4 can diced green chiles and about 1 cup spinach. Beat together 1 egg and 2 egg whites. Add beaten each to green chiles and spinach, once spinach is slightly wilted. Allow egg to cook long enough that it is able to flip. Flip omelet and cook. Fold omelet in half and top with salsa. Serve with a corn tortilla.

Make ahead Breakfast Quiche

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet, on medium-high, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 2 cup chopped mushrooms, 3/4 cup roasted or raw and diced peppers, 1/2 cup jarred artichoke hearts (drained), and 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion. Cook vegetables until softened. Spray nonstick spray in cup cake baking cups. Divide vegetables among the cups. Beat 6 eggs and divide among baking cups. Bake for 25 minutes  or until eggs are set. Remove and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Store in zip lock bag. Heat up or enjoy chilled.

Breakfast Banana split

Makes 4 servings

Place 2 banana halves in a shallow dish or bowl. Place 1/2 cup cottage cheese on the center of the bananas and top with 1 1/2 tsp. fruit preserves and 1 Tbsp. peanuts.

Enjoy!

breakfast banana split

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Selenium – An important Mineral in Your Diet

When eating foods, I feel it is important to focus on choosing foods with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Selenium, is a nutritionally essential mineral of the diet. It has been shown to help with reproduction, thyroid support, metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection against oxidative damage and infection.

* If you are often sick, adding more nutritionally rich foods into the diet will help your immune system. Stop taking supplements and start eating nutrient rich foods.

* Selenium from food is more effective than selenium supplements.

Most adults need about 50-60mcg grams per day. 

Sources of selenium include, poultry, seafood, eggs, breads, grains, and most plant based foods depending on the soil. Nutrient rich soil will yield produce with more selenium.

Selected food source of Selenium 

Brazil Nuts (1oz 6-8 nuts)            544mcg

Tuna, yellowfin (3oz)                    92mcg

Halibut, cooked (3oz)                   47mcg

Sardines, canned in oil, 3oz         45mcg

Shrimp, 3oz                                    40mcg

Pasta, enriched, 1 cup                   37mcg

Turkey, boneless, cooked (3oz)  31mcg

Cottage cheese, 1% fat, 1 cup       20mcg

Brown rice, cooked, 1 cup            19mcg

Egg, boiled (1)                               15mcg

Puffed wheat cereal, 1 cup          15mcg

Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice        13mcg

Baked beans, vegetarian, 1 cup  13mcg

Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked                13mcg

Spinach, cooked, 1 cup                11mcg

Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup                       8mcg

Yogurt, low fat, 1 cup                 8mcg

Lentils, boiled, 1 cup                  6mcg

What does 50-60mcg look like in your diet?

Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal made with milk. Add your favorite nut.

Lunch: Hummus and turkey sandwich (2oz) with fresh spinach, tomatoes and bell pepper slices on whole wheat bread.

6oz low fat yogurt

Small fruit

Dinner: 1 cup brown rice

3oz Grilled or baked Halibut

15 asparagus spears

* This simple and delicious meal has a whooping 133mcg Selenium

brazil nuts

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Preparing a healthy pantry for 2016

Are you ready for the new year? Maybe your unhealthy problem is the food that is in your pantry. Having the healthy essentials are necessary for healthy meals. Take the month of December to prepare for a healthy 2016.

Top 15 pantry basics: 

Brown rice: Full of fiber and flavor. Cook your brown rice with chicken or vegetable broth for more flavor. I love baking rice.

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 2 1/3 cup water or broth
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Bring water, salt and olive oil to a boil. Add brown rice to a baking dish. Add boiling water to rice and cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Enjoy.

Whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta: Pasta is a great source of carbohydrate. Most people are scared of pasta because it is full of carbohydrate. The secret is choosing healthy sauces and portion control. Limit portion to 1 cup servings. Add lean protein to pasta and add lots of vegetables.

Whole oats (not instant): Oats contain soluble fiber, this fiber may help reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Oats are a great breakfast addition or a great binder in your lean turkey meatballs.

Chicken or vegetable broth: Always have broth on hand. Very useful to make healthy homemade soups or cook beans. Great way to add moisture and flavor.

Chia seeds/hemp seeds: Great to add to oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, yogurt or muffins and pancakes. These cute little seeds pack a punch of protein and fiber.

Whole wheat pancake mix/buckwheat pancake mix: healthy pancakes are great for breakfast or use as a snack. I love adding applesauce or smashed bananas to my whole wheat pancake mix. I also add protein powder, cinnamon and vanilla and eggs. Add water or milk until a pancake consistency and make into pancakes. These are great to pop in the toaster on a rushed morning. Top with natural nut butter instead of sugar filled syrup.

No salt added canned beans: any variety. Great way to add protein and fiber to your meals.

Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans. Nuts are full of healthy fats, protein and fiber. Just watch your serving size. Nuts tend to be packed with nutrition but also full of calories and fat.

Organic popcorn: Great as a snack. Popcorn can be easily popped in a paper bag without butter or oil. Popcorn is a great carbohydrate rich food that has healthy fiber. Plus, it is filling and low in calories. It is a great crunchy snack.

Canned diced tomatoes: These are great for a quick spaghetti sauce or chili. It is always great to have canned tomatoes on hand. Choose the variety without salt added. Canned tomatoes have lycopene that fresh tomatoes do not offer. Lycopene can protect the heart from disease and may prevent several types of cancer.

Canned tuna: Choose packed in water variety. Tuna is a great way to add protein to your meals. Limit tuna to 6oz per week to limit mercury.

Quinoa: A complete protein, source of carbohydrate full of fiber. Quinoa is actually a seed even though nutritionally it is similar to a grain. Prepare just like you would a rice. Eat instead of a rice. Perfect for vegetarian meals or use as a side dish.

Flavored vinegars: Red wine, white wine, rice wine, apple cider and balsamic vinegars are a few to keep on hand. These vinegars can be made into flavorful salad dressings.

Dry Herbs: bay leaves, dill, dried sage, dried thyme leaves, oregano, tarragon, and Italian seasoning blend. Dry herbs add flavor without salt to your meals.

Natural nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter. Just make sure they are natural. The only ingredients should be nuts and salt. There will be oil at the top when you purchase these. Just stir the oil into the paste and store in the fridge. Nut butters are high in protein and healthy fats. Limit nut butter to a few tablespoons per day if you are watching your weight.

Top 10 vegetables for your fridge:

Broccoli slaw: great easy and simply way to get your vegetables. Add to salads or use for a stir fry.

Edamame: Great as a snack, or use on a salad. Full of protein and fiber. Edamame are soy beans and enjoyed by many.

Carrots: Baby carrots are great, but the large carrots tend to have more flavor and crunch.

Spinach: Spinach is great to add to soups, salads, eggs, casserole dishes and several recipes. Spinach is high in fiber and vitamin K. Spinach is also high in iron. Use spinach instead of lettuce on your sandwiches.

Zucchini: This vegetables is mild and a great addition to any dish. Use zucchini in stir fry’s or in your favorite pasta dish. Zucchini is great roasted and used as a side dish.

Onions: Brown onions, white onions, yellow onions and red onions. Onions add a ton of flavor and contain very little sodium. Onions are high in antioxidants and help boost the immune system. Onions can be used in a variety of dishes.

Radishes/diakon radishes: Crunchy and full of flavor. Radishes are great to keep on hand. Eat raw or pickle radishes and add to your favorite sandwich or salad.

Sweet potatoes/yams: These potatoes are starchy, meaning they contain carbohydrate. They are a great source of fiber and healthy energy. Use in place of rice or pasta. Bake sweet potatoes and yams, and freeze in freezer bags.

Green beans: Versatile with a mild flavor. Roast, BBQ, steam or enjoy raw. Green beans are great as a side dish, added to soup or chopped and added to a casserole.

Kale: It is a super food. Add to soups or salads. Full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and iron. Kale is a great food to keep on hand.

Refrigerated Goodies: 

Local free range eggs: Eggs offer high quality protein. Free range mean that the chickens spend most time outdoors for at least part of the day. Instead of being cooped up. It is easy to make eggs into a healthy dish when you are in a rush and need a quick meal.

Frozen berries: Great to keep on hand to add to yogurt, muffin recipes, pancakes and smoothies. Berries contain antioxidants that can help protect against several types of cancer and diseases.

Greek yogurt: High in protein and calcium. Yogurt also contains active bacteria that will boost your immune system. Yogurt can be eaten by itself or you can use plain yogurt as a great replacement for sour cream.

Low fat dairy milk or almond milk: Fortified with calcium, great beverage to add calcium into your diet.

Lean protein: Lean ground turkey (7-10% lean)

Boneless skinless chicken breast

Tofu (firm or extra firm) or baked tofu

* It is best to use animal protein as a condiment. Animal protein has been linked to inflammation. Choose lean protein wisely.

healthy pantry

 

 

 

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Getting Back on Track the Day after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone. You may have over eaten, oh well, it is done… time to get back on track. One day of over eating will not cause weight gain, however, several days of over eating and physical inactivity will add up on the scale. Try and avoid holiday weight gain, instead, focus on weight maintenance. Enjoy your holiday meals, but keep these tips in mind! 

- Do not skip meals the day after. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner

- Go through leftovers and toss anything that you may over eat again.

- Get your fitness back on. Don’t ignore the gym because you are ashamed that you over ate… instead sweat, sweat, sweat!!!

- Focus on quality foods. Fill your plate with lots of healthy vegetables, choose lean protein and of course high fiber carbohydrates.

- Avoid grazing. You are not a cow! Focus on meals.

- Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more. Most people think they are hungry, but the body just drink a sip or two or 64oz of water. Hydrate up!

- Shop Smart and Stock up Properly. Plan to eat healthy and you will eat healthy. Living off of leftover turkey will only last so long. Plan to go to the store and purchase healthy food items that will fuel and fill you.

- Avoid restaurant eating. Restaurants fill their foods with fat, sugars and salt. If you eat out often, your taste buds become “tainted”. Then, when you do eat at home your food tastes bland. Prevent tainted taste buds by eating at home!

- Don’t forget to weigh in once weekly. Don’t let weight gain get out of control. Knowing your weight will help keep you on track.

- Enjoy the holiday’s and savor each bite. Be mindful of your meals.

 

strong

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A Little Education about Cacao nibs

The word Cacao looks similar to cocoa. These two are similar but different. Cacao nibs are basically the purest type of chocolate before anything else is added.  Cacao is fermented and dried bits of cacao beans.

These little guys are loaded with flavor and nutrition. They have great chocolate flavor but not as sweet as chocolate. Cacao nibs are great to add to your favorite trail mix, yogurt, or add to your favorite recipe in place of chocolate chips.

Cacao beans provide: 

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is very important for nerve and muscle function.
  • Fiber: One ounce has 9 grams fiber. Chocolate contains NO fiber.
  • Iron: This mineral is important for red blood cell production.
  • Antioxidants: These are important to prevent cancer. Antioxidants absorb free radicals that cause damage to cells.
  • Anadamide: This is a powerful lipid found in cacao, it makes you feel better and may decrease anxiety and tension.

Try this super food! You can purchase it at most health stores for less than $7. A little goes a long way in terms of flavor. I love the crunchy texture of cacao nibs.

Cacao nibs

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Be Snack Happy and Healthier

Why are you snacking? Are you really hungry or are you eating because the clock is telling you that you need to eat?

Snacks are necessary if you have been more active then usual, if your meal is going to be delayed, or if you are actually hungry. Snacks are also very beneficial if you are looking to gain weight. Choose your snacks wisely.

Listed below are some healthy fall snacks: 

Pumpkin Spice Trail Mix: 

  • 1/4 cup sucanat or sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup unsalted whole almonds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsalted pecan halves
  • 1 cup roasted and salted pepitas
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp. apple juice
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250.

Mix Sucanat or sugar, cinnamon, paprika, and pumpkin pie spice in small bowl. Set aside.

Place almonds, oats, pecans, pepitas, and walnuts in large bowl. Mix together pumpkin puree and apple juice; pour over nut mixture and toss until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle with spice mixture, tossing to coat well. Spread evenly on two baking pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Cool completely. Stir in cranberries and raisins. Store in airtight container.

*Limit portion to 1/3 cup

Easy Quick and Healthier Oatmeal cookie: 

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/8 cup liquid egg whites
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. raisins
  • Cinnamon to taste

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Scrape batter from sides of bowl and flatten into a cookie shape. Microwave for 45 seconds. Cool completely.

*Makes one serving

Pumpkin PB Dip

* Perfect as a fruit dip

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup PB2
  • 1/4 cup stevia
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and creamy. Keep refrigerated and serve chilled.

Stuffed cinnamon Apple

  • 2 Tbsp. PB2
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. stevia
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp. egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 medium apple, cored
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° and fill an oven-safe baking dish with one tablespoon of water.

Combine peanut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and stevia. Add applesauce, egg whites, and maple extract; stir to combine wet and dry ingredients.

Remove core from the apple and sprinkle lemon juice on the inside to prevent browning. Place cored apple in prepared dish and pour bread batter in center of apple.

Bake for 25 minutes, until bread is baked and apple is tender. Serve with Greek yogurt and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

Cinnamon Dippers: 

  • 6 inch corn tortilla, cut into triangles
  • trans fat free buttery spread or butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Serve with vanilla yogurt

Brush tortilla with melted buttery spread, place on cooking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve with vanilla yogurt.

Cinnamon and Sweet popcorn: Pop organic popcorn, no butter added (air popped preferred choice). Sprinkle popcorn with sucralose or stevia and cinnamon. Enjoy for a healthy high fiber snack. Add a bit of protein by adding your favorite nut.

Spicy Hot Chocolate: 

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3-4 pitted dates
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch or salt

Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Heat on stove top; serve warm.

fall trail mix

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Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Did you know the average person gains an additional five pounds during the holidays? That is an extra 17,500 calories. The more fat weight you put on the more fat cells you create, fat cells never go away unless you liposuction them away. Plus, once and  fat cell is created and filled up with fat, it is that much more difficult to empty. The best option is to avoid holiday weight gain.

Most people eat more calories and exercise less during the holidays. They feel more fatigued, have less energy and look for foods that will help give them energy, such as, SUGAR! Sugar increases inflammation putting you at a higher risk of a chronic disease, over time. It is time to be aware and take action to prevent holiday weight gain.

- DO NOT SKIP MEALS! Skipping meals can set you up for failure. Plus, when you skip a meal it can lower your metabolic rate. Keep the fire burning by eating every 4-5 hours.

- If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. Men should drink no more than 2 alcohol beverage per day and women one. Plus, if you have alcohol, skip dessert. Alcohol can have anywhere between 120 to 500 calories depending on what you are drinking.

* Alcohol serving: 12oz beer, 5oz wine, or 1/5oz liquor 

- Plan your treats into your calories. If you want a cookie, have it, but try and cut back on your carbohydrates at another meal during the day. It is best to have treats earlier in the day instead of in the evening. Plan a “cheat” meal this will give you something to look forward to and it is planned. You may have more control if you allow yourself to indulge.

- Trim calories from empty calories: Avoid foods that offer little and no nutrition value. For example, ranch dressing, it has basically no nutritionally value. Use your calories somewhere else. Avoid crackers, chips, and other foods that basically offer no nutrition. Plus, these foods are easy to over eat.

- Aim for more fiber. Choose at least one high fiber grain at each meal. Fill your plate with vegetables. Keep in mind vegetables should not be your meal, they go with your meal. Eating vegetables alone, may cause you to over eat later in the day.

- Add up to 3 fruits per day. Fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth. Too much fruit is too much sugar. It may also cause you to crave more and more sugar. Limit your fruit intake but enjoy in season fruit.

- Avoid meat swimming in heavy sauce and gravy. Choose lean protein without the skin. Try and roast, grill or bake your protein foods.

- Do not use food for handle your stress during the holidays. The holidays can be very stressful. Be mindful of why you are eating. Some people eat in response to stress. If you are stressed try and avoid “feeling better” with foods. Choose another activity; take a walk, read a book/magazine, do yoga or prayer, talk on the phone to your friend, or any other activity you find peace with.

- Make time for fitness. Take a walk, enjoy a fitness class, ride your bike, do anything that allows you to move your body. Staying fit during the holidays will help control stress and your weight.

holiday weight

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If you are going to eat Candy ….. Be Smart

Halloween is just a few weeks away! Hopefully, you can resist the empty calorie candy and choose healthy foods.

The DANGER of SUGAR (AKA CANDY)

  • Candy is usually filled with sugar and fat. It is technically an empty calorie food. I usually tell people to try and avoid candy. It can increase inflammation in your body and adds calories that provide NO nutrition.
  • When you eat candy, the sugar in the candy immediately is released into the blood stream, which raises the blood sugar levels in the blood. Your body’s natural response is to dump insulin from the pancreas, the body then pushes the sugar into the cells. Any extra sugar is converted into fat if it is not used as energy. If a person is diabetic or pre diabetic they have an insulin problem. Without insulin the sugar stays in the blood and raises the blood sugars. High blood sugar is very dangerous to the body.
  • The other thing sugar does is taint your taste buds. If your taste buds are not use to sugar and then has exposure to sugar, “healthy” foods start to taste bland and you start craving more and more sugar. It is best to use fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. However, too much fruit can also increase your blood and may increase your desire to eat more sweet foods.
  • Sugar is addictive and works on the brain’s pleasure center. The more you eat, the more your crave. Not only will you crave it but your body will start to need more and more sugar to “feel good”. If you eat too much sugar it may give you symptoms of anxiety. Maybe you think your stressed, but really you are just adding too much sugar into your diet.
  • Sugar will make you feel like a hungry animal. The sugar will spike your blood sugar and then it will be quickly transported into the cell leaving you hungry and needing more to eat. Your chocolate craving will turn into a chocolate addiction.
  • If you are not hungry enough for an apple, don’t eat it! Have you ever walked into your coworkers office and there is a bowl of chocolates? Before you grab one, ask yourself if you are hungry enough for an apple. If the answer is yes, you are hungry, GO EAT AN APPLE. If you are not hungry, skip the chocolate, you DON’T NEED IT!

However, if you can’t avoid the candy, limit your serving size and choose an option that OK, rather than terrible.

- GO for dark chocolate 70% cocoa is best. Find a chocolate with a nut. The added protein will slow down the absorption of sugar. Dark chocolate is also dairy free, has less sugar and has antioxidants.

- Try a fun size instead of a regular size chocolate bar.  Or choose a small size candy, such as, a hershey kiss that is very small and portion controlled.

- Try raisinete’s instead of regular chocolate. This chocolate has a baby raisin in them, so at least it has fiber.

- 3 Musketeers is lower in fat and sugar. A better alternative to some of your other options.

Avoid sugar cravings

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Time to add a New “Ancient” Grain to Your Diet

Freekeh – It is not new at all, freekeh is an ancient grain that many have not tried. Freekeh is similar to farro and is a great substitute for rice or pasta, plus, it is very nutritious and loaded with protein and fiber. This is a grain you should be adding to your diet. Freekeh is very easy to cook with, try some of the recipes below and enjoy a new delicious and nutritious grain.

Almond and Parsley Pesto with Freekeh

Pesto Sauce

  • 1/4 cup diced almonds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Freekeh Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked, cracked freekeh* (yields approximately 3 cups cooked)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (roughly 1 dozen asparagus stems)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine diced almonds, olive oil and garlic. Pulse for 1 – 2 minutes until the mixture resembles almond butter.
  2. Rinse parsley in cold water and pat dry. Don’t worry about removing all the water, as you’ll need some in the pesto. Add the parsley to the blender and blend for another two minutes until smooth and bright green. Add a few teaspoons of water if the pesto is thick. Add the freshly grated cheese and pulse for a few seconds to incorporate Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, combine freekeh and stock and cook according to the package directions. Once cooked, remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add asparagus and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes until just tender. Once cooked, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a large bowl, toss together cooked freekeh, asparagus mixture and 1/2 cup of the pesto. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add more pesto if desired, cherry tomatoes and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with chopped whole almonds.
  6. *Freekeh (pronounced “freak-eh”) can be purchased at health food stores in the grain aisle or online.

Roasted Butternut squash Freekeh Salad with Kale

Roast Butternut Squash

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Kale and Freekeh Salad 

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked Bob’s Red Mill Freekeh
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped kale, tough stems removed (about 7 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
  2. Bring 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add Freekeh, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium, then add the kale. Cook and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes. If all of the kale will not fit in your sauté pan, add it slowly as it cooks down. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper and cook 1 additional minute.
  4. Make the dressing: Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, Dijon, salt, and pepper until combined. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue stirring until well incorporated. (Alternatively, you can shake all of the ingredients together in a mason jar.)
  5. Assemble the salad: Stir the Freekeh, butternut squash, cranberries, and walnuts into the skillet with the kale. Pour enough of the dressing to nicely moisten the mixture over the top, toss gently to coat. Transfer to serving plates and drizzle a little more dressing over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fall Pomegranate Freekeh Salad 

  • 1/2 cup Freekeh
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, outer leaves peeled, stemmed and halved if large
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
  • 1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
  • 1/4-1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • On stove top in a small saucepan, place 1/2 cup of Freekehlicious and 1 1/2 cups of water or broth and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain any remaining water. Yields 1 1/2 cups. This step can be made a few days ahead and the Freekeh can be kept refrigerated in an air tight container.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Toss 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt with the Brussels sprouts, spread on a parchment papered cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes while turning once with a spatula at the 15 minute mark. If you wish the Brussels sprouts to be more charred, roast for 5-10 minutes longer with another turning in between. Set aside, or this step can be made a day ahead and the oven roasted Brussels sprouts can be kept refrigerated in an air tight container overnight.
  • The day of: On low/medium heat add 2 tablespoons oil into a large sauté pan. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Do not caramelize onions. Add the diced apple and lemon juice to the onions and continue sautéing for a few minutes longer until the apples are soft but not mushy. Add the honey, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper and continue sautéing for a couple of minutes longer.
  • If the Freekeh and Brussels Sprouts were made ahead and refrigerated, add them to the pan to reheat with the onions and apples for a few minutes. They only need to be warm, not super hot. Take off the heat and add the dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and parsley. Mix and adjust for salt and black pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.

I showed you make ahead prep steps, but you can make the entire salad a couple days ahead and keep refrigerated in an air tight container. Re-heat in a pan for a few minutes on low/medium heat before serving. Garnish with some more fresh parsley leaves the day of. The dish can be good up to five days refrigerated.

Cranberry and Apple Freekeh Stuffing

  • 2 cup freekeh
  • water
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, washed, dried, chopped
  • 1-2 small Granny Smith apples, washed, dried, cored, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 3 scallions, washed, dried, finely chopped
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, washed, dried, stems removed
  • 1¼ cup walnuts, toasted

Directions:

  1. Soak freekeh in water for 15 minutes. Rinse out, drain, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables and other ingredients as indicated above.
  3. Heat two tbsp olive oil in large and deep skillet. Add chopped red onions, celery, and apples; saute for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat.
  4. Add garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper; toss together briefly.
  5. Now mix in drained freekeh, and top with vegetable broth.
  6. Bring broth to a boil, and continue to cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 more minutes or until broth has significantly reduced (you could see moisture, but broth should no longer cover freekeh).
  7. Now turn heat to low. Cover skillet and let everything cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  8. Stir in cranberries; cover again and let cook for another 7-10 minutes or until freekeh is fully cooked.
  9. Test freekeh to make sure it is not too moist or too sticky. If neither, then freekeh is ready.
  10. Remove from heat, and mix in scallions and parsley.
  11. Garnish with toasted walnuts. Enjoy!

Mexican Freekeh Bowl

2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup onion (diced)
½ cup red bell pepper (diced)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 jalapeno (diced)
1 cup Freekeh

  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno, saute for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the freekeh, corn, tomatoes, kidney beans, kosher salt, cumin, chili powder & oregano.
  4. Pour the vegetable broth over the top.
  5. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Remove from the heat and top with the fresh cilantro and avocado.

Freekeh

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Everyday Foods – How to cook healthy!

One struggle people may have regarding healthy eating is now to prepare healthy food. If a person was raised in a not so healthy household as a child they may not have the experience to know how to cook healthy. Here are some helpful tips:

Cooking fish: Fish is a very healthy protein. A lot of people do not know how to properly cook fish, therefore, they do not like fish.

Follow these tricks: First of all, avoid ALL farmed fish. I like to purchase fresh, frozen wild fish. It is usually a fresher fish because they catch it, clean it, and freeze it.

If you purchase a fatty fish, it not only has Omega 3 fatty acids, but it is less likely to dry out when you are cooking it. Drizzle a fish fillet with olive oil or canola oil on both sides, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and bake at 400 degrees in a baking dish. A good rule of thumb is to cook the fish for 10 minutes per 1 inch of thickness. After the fish has been cooking for 8 minutes, try and fork the fish. If the fish flakes, it is done cooking.

With thin fillets it may be best to pan cook the fish. Dry the fish with paper towels, drizzle a few drops of oil onto the skin, and rub it in. Cook over medium heat in a skillet pan until one side is light brown, then flip and cook the other side.

 

Stir-fry: A lot of people have a problem with stir-fry. They tend to overcook the vegetables and either overcook or undercook the protein, depending on the type being used for the stir-fry.

Heat one teaspoon of oil (preferably canola oil) over medium/high heat. Add the protein and cook until protein is cooked through. If you are using shrimp, cook until shrimp are pink in color. Remove the protein, and add the vegetables to the skillet pan. Start first with onion, cook for a few minutes and then add the other vegetables. Cook until vegetables are just tender. Add a sauce, if desired. Try liquid amino acids or coconut amino acids, then add protein back into skillet.

The Perfect Chicken Breast: Don’t over cook the chicken. You don’t want dry chicken and you don’t want pink chicken.

First of all, keep the seasoning simple. Use salt and pepper or marinate in a low sodium sauce. Bake in a cooking dish, 375 degrees is a great temperature and it will take about 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. If the chicken is more than one pound it may take about 45-55 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool before cutting and serving.

Scallops: Most people have no clue how to cook scallops. They are delicious and usually a food most people would order at a restaurant.

Most people over cook scallops, causing them to taste like rubber. You must dry the scallops off with a paper towel before cooking, otherwise, they will steam and will not get a crisp coating on the outside of the scallop. Season with salt and pepper and use canola oil to cook. Place canola oil in a nonstick pan. Try not the overcrowd the pan with too many scallops. If water starts to pool in the pan, remove the scallops, drain the water, place the scallops in the pan and continue to cook. When the outside start to turn light brown, flip the scallops and cook the other side. Remove from pan, allow to cool. Squeeze with lemon juice and enjoy.

Scrambled eggs: Most people over cook eggs. The key is to turn the heat off the pan, when the eat start to set and are still a bit wet. They will continue to cook with the heat of the pan.

Tofu: I love tofu and try to always purchase organic, non GMO tofu.

If you plan on cooking tofu, always buy firm or extra firm variety. Unpack the tofu, place a towel or paper towels on the cooking board, cover the tofu with the towel or paper towels, place something heavy on top of the covered tofu. Once most of the moisture has been removed from the tofu, cut into cubes and add to skillet pan. Cook tofu with any type of sauce. I like to use liquid amino acids, coconut amino acids or light stir-fry sauce. Cook both sides of tofu until heated.

Whole wheat pasta: Avoid over cooking. Use one gallon of salted water for each pound (16oz) pasta. You can also add olive oil to the water, to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Only put the pasta into the water, once the water starts to rapidly boil and stir a bit to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the bottom. Check it after 3 minutes. Taste a noodle to see if it is al dente. It should be slightly firm, not mushy.

 

salmon

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