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Delicious food + mindful eating = Healthier Me!

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I’ve got a confession: I’m addicted to food. BIG time. But I think it’s turning into a “healthier” addiction over the last few years. Of course I still love my potato chips and turn into something like the Cookie Monster whenever I open up a bag (I justify it by telling myself it’s from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s so it can’t be THAT bad right? HAH, I know I can be delusional sometimes).

But having my husband share the same desire to improve our eating habits really helps! Especially when we both have a crazy commute each day (1 hour minimum each way for the both of us- sometimes it turns into 1.5-2 hours if the traffic’s a nightmare). It’s just easier to have a plan for that night. Saves our brain energy for the road. And for our cats, although I do need to play with them more often!IMG_20151106_213728186.jpg

How are we making it “healthier” if I’m already off cane sugar, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, baker’s yeast, sesame and cranberries? There’s a lot more to consider! I went through TWO quarts of maple syrup in 2 months. They were on sale at Whole Foods during Midnight Madness. That’s my excuse. But seriously, that’s a lot of sugar right there! I love peanut butter with it – if you mix it up with a few raisins (okay a whole handful) and heat it up, it’s like warm cookie dough. HEAVENLY. But my portions weren’t… so heavenly. In fact I often complained about feeling nauseous. Now when I look back, I realize that one serving of peanut butter is only 2 Tablespoon NOT 1/2 cup. I’m not exaggerating. I know, it’s terrible. Add potato chips to the mix? Ehh.. So I’ve found “substitutes” and still allow myself guilty “pleasures” but within a reasonable amount which is apparently called “moderation”. That’s still a new concept to me (okay, it’s not so new but I’m grudgingly coming to accept it).

IMG_20160502_144034050_HDRThis means having more healthy snacks around. So we’ve been buying more fruit! And if we have extra vegetables such as kale, I’ll steam it and add a dash of salt then eat it. Applesauce is a favorite of mine. With a few raisins thrown in (yes, a more reasonable amount this time). I’ve come to love warm almond milk with a dash of cinnamon and a touch of honey or even broth (I use Seitanbacher’s Vegetarian Broth and Seasoning: it’s a powdery version of bouillon cubes and is vegan, gluten-free and et cetera). I actually find that it’s enough to sate my cravings.

To be honest, it might also have to do with my fitness level. I’ve upped it over the last year with more regular yoga practice (whether at home or taking classes), running (I’m training for a half marathon) and hiking. IMG_6082I guess you could say that by maintaining a more active lifestyle, I’ve come to realize that I’m not as bored… therefore I’m not craving as much. But when I DO crave food, I want the good stuff! I hate feeling nauseous so I’m becoming more mindful of what I put in my body. Especially if I know I have a run or a yoga class coming up. Have you ever done a twisted triangle pose about an hour after eating potato chips? I thought I was going to puke for the majority of that class. Not cool.

On that note, I’m going to finish my apple (yes, that’s the one in the picture above) and drink more water so I’m hydrated for my power yoga class tonight!

Food inspiration? YES!

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Food inspiration? YES!

I know I’ve been gone from this blog for awhile. It wasn’t intentional, but rather…. I felt a lack of inspiration to write about food. Until recently. I’ve been thinking about food in general… okay, I do that ALL the time. But more specifically, I thought about what about food excites me? EVERYTHING. So why haven’t I wrote anything? When analyzing myself, the answer was simple. I was too busy and too lazy. I was focused on getting licensed at my job, welcoming a new niece, getting ready for my best friend’s wedding and just enjoying life in general!!!

But know what? I’ve been trying SO many new recipes! I’ve come up with a few on my own but I will save that for another time. I wanted to share what I DID try and loved! I mean, I’ve had times where I’ll take a bite and I’ll groan with delight, declaring it’s my favorite. Over and over.

How’s that for somebody with 8 food allergies? A few years ago if you’ve told me that I would have had a culinary adventure while exploring food sans gluten/dairy/sugar/corn/soy/sesame/cranberry/baker’s yeast, I would have laughed at you. Seriously. Flat out laugh in your face. It sounds horrible but it was difficult for me to even imagine enjoying food. Well, guess what! I proved myself wrong.

Here’s a few recipes, or more accurately, links to recipes that I’ve fell in love with and strongly encourage you to try!

http://paleomg.com/peanut-butter-and-jelly-ice-cream/

(I used actual peanut butter… I loved it!)

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/butternut-squash-and-macaroni-casserole

(I adapted the recipe, using quinoa rice pasta from Trader Joe’s- WIN!)

http://www.agirlworthsaving.net/2013/01/paleo-garlic-bread.html

Garlic bread/rolls

I added freshly dried oregano and extra raw garlic to this recipe and it was HEAVENLY!

I found that recipe through Pinterest. I also found another one for zucchini lasagna at http://healyeatsreal.com/lasagna-rolls-vegan-paleo/

Both vegan and paleo! My husband and I were amazed by this recipe!!! I loved layering up both eggplant and zucchini together. And I highly recommend using raw garlic when making the cashew cream. Yum!

Both vegan and paleo! My husband and I were amazed by this recipe!!! I loved layering up both eggplant and zucchini together. And I highly recommend using raw garlic when making the cashew cream. Yum!

But seriously… I found so many more recipes! But I won’t bore you with them all. I take that back. Bore is the wrong word. Overwhelm is more like it. I’m amazed by the options I have before me! What I’ve posted here’s not even… 0.000000001% of what I’ve found. I’ve tried so many more! Invented a few (they weren’t all successful) but basically I had FUN with food. I hope you did as well! Keep exploring and share what you’ve found that works for you!

Enjoy your next bite, otherwise what’s the point?

Now it’s time to go off backpacking and enjoy our new finds! Tip for backpacking- pack bags of quinoa with spices in it. All you have to do is boil water and throw it in, wait maybe 10-15 minutes and viola!

 

I’ll be back SOON and that’s a promise! Not just to you all, but to myself as well!

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Last week, I was all about fall flavors ESPECIALLY apples. I go ga-ga for apples, specifically Granny Smiths. There’s something about the tartness that I just love. So naturally I looked for recipes and noticed there were many dessert recipes. I thought to myself, why not switch it up and make a dinner dish out of it? So I pretty much… thought up flavors I love and just… bought a few things and threw it together. I have a ROUGH recipe so you can do what I did. So I can make this again since we loved it!

What is this recipe? Stuffed apples. Sausage stuffed apples. We used chicken sausage but you could use whatever you prefer. Pork sausage will taste AMAZING in this recipe!

Okay, here goes:

Ingredients

Prepared apples, the "bowls" for this dish

Prepared apples, the “bowls” for this dish

4 apples (I used Granny Smiths), cut in 1/2, scoop out insides and mince the insides into a separate bowl

1 stalk celery, minced

1 TBSP rosemary, chopped

1 TBSP oregano, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced (I used black garlic, a delicious find in a co-op in Burlington, Vermont!)

*1 package cooked sausage (I used Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage), minced

2 TBSP olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) After the apples have been cut in halves and scooped out, place the skins (which will act as bowls for this recipe) and place in a greased glass plan. Also lightly spray olive oil over the apples.

3.) In a medium mixing bowl, place 1/2 of the minced apple insides**, sausage, celery, rosemary, oregano, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Combine well.

4.) Spoon mixture into apples. Try to stuff as much as possible. If any spills over into the glass pan, that’s okay! Once the apples have been filled, pour the rest of the mixture around the apples in the glass pan.

5.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until apples have soften.

6.) Serve with greens (we had kale on the side, yum! Balances out the sweetness, savory and tartness of the apple dish)

*If the sausages are raw, just cut them up in slices and cook until ready then mince as the recipe calls for.

**I used the rest of the apple insides to create an apple crisp type of dish. Yum!

Stuffed apples with chicken sausage

Stuffed apples with chicken sausage

Please feel free to mess around with this recipe! A recipe is never final it’s always up to a person’s taste. If I cooked this for my mother, I’ll omit the rosemary and add more thyme and maybe even sautéed shallots. She’s not a fan of rosemary, not the way I am.

One thing I do recommend: cook within the season. If there’s an abundance of apples, take advantage of it! I’m already looking forward to my dinner on Thursday night which will include butternut squash.

What’s your favorite fall recipe?

Irish pride

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Coming from an Irish family, I grew up on boiled cabbage, carrots, onions and corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Some of us loved it. Others, not quite so much… When I started dating my husband, I decided to try something different. Irish soup. I’ve found I enjoy it so much more and it’s actually more authentic since peasants didn’t always have beef available to them. Often it was out of their price range.

So tonight, we made potato soup with a few ingredients: potatoes, onions, vegetable broth, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and fresh chives as a garnish. That’s it. Sometimes the simpler a meal is, the tastier it is! I served it with a side of spring greens drizzled with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. YUM.

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But the celebration didn’t start today for us! We went out to this whiskey bar: Barrel House American Bar in Beverly, MA. I highly recommend it! A huge whiskey selection. I chose a Scotch, Glenlivet, aged 12 years I believe. It was surprisingly nice to have the bartender serve us complimentary sparkling water and ask us on the rocks or neat? I felt like a grown up, although it was more like I was pretending to be one…..

But what truly made it a time of celebration of being Irish? Being with family. Seeing my brother,sister in law and of course my husband. That’s what made it a special St. Patrick’s Day!

Cheers!

Got leftovers but not enough? Recreate a new meal!

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Last night my husband made spaghetti with a DELICIOUS sauce. It was red, but it has absolutely no trace of tomatoes! It was a red pepper sauce. The recipe can be found on: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Red-Pepper-Sauce-4658

Instead of hot sauce (which we ran out of and I didn’t realize it when planning meals for the week, OOPS!), my husband used a bit of water with chili powder. He threw an onion, two red peppers, ginger, water and the spice in a sauce pan to cook it a bit. Then he poured it all into a blender and mixed it up.

A tomato-less red sauce made with red peppers and ginger!

A tomato-less red sauce made with red peppers and ginger!

It was scrumptious! Packed with flavor- the ginger added a kick to it. Immediately I wondered how it would taste if I roasted the red peppers first and used paprika or chipotle powder instead of chili for a smoky taste.

We ate all of the pasta. It was so good, satisfying my cravings for carbs yet it was entirely different than your standard tomato sauce. I mean I love comfort food but I wanted something a bit different last night.

So… we have no pasta left but some of the sauce left. Looking at my kitchen, it hit me. I told him, “Don’t worry about it. When we have our leftovers, I’ll just mix it up with red kidney beans and avocado for dinner.” Now this sauce is a multipurpose sauce!

I love it when I can recreate an entirely different meal using leftovers. It adds variety to our meals with half the work!

What’s your favorite leftover to reuse and how do you do it?

My new favorite dessert

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It was Easter weekend and I still had no idea what I was going to do for sweets. The family was having cake, chocolate fondue, and brownies. But the ingredients in those? Not Dru-able. So I knew if I wanted something tasty, I had to make it on my own.

Then Whole Life Nutrition had an updated feed on their blog. Or was it their emails? Anyways, it read “raw lemon tart”. Upon reading the recipe, I was sold.

The. Best. Lemon. Tart. EVER.

What’s in it?

Almond flour, dates (I used raisins instead), raw honey, coconut butter (I used coconut manna which is pretty much the same thing from what I’ve read), more raw honey, cinnamon, lemon juice… And that’s it.

It disappeared in 30 minutes. That’s with all other desserts we had on hand!

Only if I made 2…. Cause I want some now! I’ve been craving more ever since that last forkful I had. The tartness and sweetness of it all enhanced by it’s lightness… Oh yes.

I want more. Now.

But until then- here’s the website! raw lemon tart

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Thanksgiving begins with cranberry sauce!

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My favorite dish of this wonderful holiday that brings people together? Homemade cranberry sauce! I’ve been making it for a few years now and it’s now a demand among my family. I love it too, and this year we finally decided to double up because we never have any left! It’s that good!!!

Here’s the recipe:

2 bags of fresh cranberries
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice or vegan sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup water

1.) combine all in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until all cranberries burst and it begins to look like a sauce.

2.) once desired consistency is reached, let cool and store in fridge until ready to eat. Can be made a few days ahead of time!

3.) before serving, take out the cinnamon stick! Once I forgot to and I ended up having my uncle chew on it, trying not to be rude. Eh, don’t want that to happen again.

ENJOY!!!! Happy Thanksgiving everybody!