Month: January 2015

New Year, New Ingredient #1: Matcha

This year one of my new year’s resolutions was to try one new ingredient per month. January’s ingredient was matcha. Matcha is a highly concentrated, powder version of green tea. Therefore, it is 10 times higher in antioxidants than loose leaf green tea and 20 times higher in antioxidants than blueberries! Along with its nutritional value, matcha powder has been show to increase energy, strengthen the immune system, and speed up one’s metabolism.

You can use matcha in a variety of ways. Its earthy flavor adds dimension to soups, stir fries, and other savory dishes. You can also simply drink it mixed with water, lemon, and honey, just as you would traditional brewed tea. One of my favorite things I experimented with this month was tossing a spoonful into my morning smoothie. I call this one the “Flu Fighter” because it is high in Vitamin C (pineapple/greens), Zinc/Magnesium (cashews, coconut water), immune strengthening amino acids and antioxidants (oats, chia seeds, matcha) and natural antivirals (turmeric, ginger, matcha)

Flu Fighter Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut water
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
Handful of spinach or kale
1/4 cup oats or cashews
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2-1 tsp (each): turmeric, ginger, and matcha

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Monday Munchies: Ezekiel Cereal + Bonus Recipes

I’ve been a fan of Ezekiel bread for quite a while now, but I never really explored their other products until recently. Their cereal is by far the tastiest, healthiest I’ve ever had or made. The reason behind their high nutritional value is because the grains they use are sprouted. Sprouting grains causes a biochemical reaction that increases their nutrient content and partially breaks down the starch, lowering their carbohydrate content.

The cereal definitely has more of a crunchy granola consistency, so it’s great on top of chia seed pudding or even just plain with fruit and almond milk. I also experimented with some recipes using it, so I included them below!

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Bonus Recipes

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Bran Muffins

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1.5 c Ezekiel Cereal
1/2 c Buckwheat Flour
1/2 c All-Purpose Flour (I used Bob Mills GF)
1/2 c Applesauce
1 c Almond Milk
1 egg
4 Dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp Coconut Sugar (you could sub maple syrup or sweetener of choice)
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon to taste

Directions:
1.  Soak cereal and almond milk for 10 minutes.
2. Mix in the remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
3. Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake at 375F for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean.
4. These are extremely low in sugar, so if you prefer a sweeter muffin, add some maple syrup to the batter or drizzle them with honey or nut butter afterwards.

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Energy Bites

2 c Almonds
1 scoop Protein Powder
1/4 c Water
1.5 c Ezekiel Cereal
Optional: 2 dates pitted or 1-2 tbsp maple syrup to sweeten

Directions:
1. Blend first 3 ingredients (and sweetener, if using) until smooth and creamy.
2. Mix in cereal.
3. Roll into small bite-sized balls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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Za’atar Parsnip Chips

Za’atar is a very common spice in Israeli foods, so naturally I bought a large bag of it from a market in Jerusalem when I visited in December to experiment with some creations back home. While in Israel, I often snacked on pita chips and crackers baked with za’atar so I decided to try to make a healthier version with parsnips. Parsnips are also a great alternative to potatoes because they have a mild flavor and hearty texture with less calories, more fiber, and more vitamin C. Similarly, they can be eaten boiled, mashed, roasted, or baked in chip form as I detail below.

Ingredients
2-3 parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp za’atar spice (or sub thyme, oregano, sesame seeds)
salt/pepper

Directions
1. Thinly slice parsnips (easiest with a mandolin, but works with a small knife).
2. Drizzle the oil over the sliced parsnips.
3. Toss with spices to evenly distribute.
4. Bake for 15-20 min at 400, or until crispy.
5. Enjoy with hummus, sriracha, or dip of choice.

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Kitchen Sink Salad

Salads get a bad rep for being boring rabbit food. However with a little creativity, you can easily transform salads into a satisfying, tasty dinner. Below I outlined the basic formula for a foolproof salad, and underneath that my “Kitchen Sink Salad”is one I threw together last week that turned out to be a new favorite!

Basic Salad Formula:
Low calorie veggie base (spinach, kale, other lettuces, spaghetti squash, spiralized zucchini or carrots)
Chopped raw veggies (carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc.)
Protein (chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa, poached egg, or your choice animal protein)
Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado)
Extras (fruit, sun dried tomatoes, crunchy chickpeas, sesame seeds)

Ingredients
1/2 spaghetti squash
A few heaping handfuls of spinach
1-2 cups chopped veggies
Handful sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup chickpeas
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1-2 tbsp dressing of choice (I used La Cucina Antica Low Fat Italiano)

Directions
1. Layer all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Toss with dressing and serve.

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Nut Butter 101

Basic Formula

2 cups nuts
+ optional add ins
*1 tsp+ coconut oil, or oil of choice
*1 tsp+ raw honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia, or other natural sweetener
*Chia, flax, or hemp seeds
*Protein powder
*Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sea salt, etc.)
*Extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, coconut, etc.)

Blend in a high powered food processor or blender (i.e. Vitamix)

My favorite combinations:

Sunbutter
2 cups sunflower seeds+1 tsp coconut oil+1 tsp raw honey

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Honey Roasted Almond Butter
1 cup honey roasted almond slices (Trader Joe’s brand or make your own by roasting plain almonds with honey drizzle in the oven at 350 until golden brown)
1 cup dry roasted unsalted or raw almonds
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

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Coconut Cashew Almond Butter
1 cup coconut cashews (Trader Joe’s brand or double raw cashews and 1/4 cup coconut flakes)
1/2 cup dry roasted or raw cashews
1/2 cup dry roasted unsalted or raw almonds
1 tsp coconut extract

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Pistachio Butter
2 cups shelled pistachios+1 tsp almond extract (optional, but gives it a sweeter, nuttier, more dessert like pistachio flavor – thanks Stacey!)

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Think outside the box – comment below with your creations!

Monday Munchies: Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Happy Monday! I know diet season is in full swing and all those new year resolution gym goers are crowding up the treadmills, and even in the south the temperatures are dipping below freezing, so you may be thinking “no way am I buying ice cream right now, Danielle.” But trust me when I say this particular brand is worth the cold plus it’s waistline friendly. It’s made with coconut milk so it’s lactose free, has no added sugar, and is only 100 calories for a half cup serving. It’s a perfect little treat to satisfy a sweet tooth without demolishing your resolution in the first week of January 🙂 I even enjoyed mine with one of my mini carrot almond oatmeals muffins. This brand makes a ton of other flavors so let me know in the comments if you tried and liked any of those!

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Have Your (Carrot) Cake And Eat It Too

This is a really exciting post for me because it’s my first recipe entry using my new camera! Full disclosure, I may have spent an hour this morning alone taking pictures of my smoothie and various versions of homemade nut butters (stay tuned for that post!). I think I may be obsessed with this camera now…or maybe I just need my roommate to get back from winter break…

Anyway, maybe it’s because of my cinnamon addiction or having a pet bunny growing up rubbed off on me, but carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts. After much experimentation, I concocted a couple of healthy alternatives shared below – oatmeal muffins and a smoothie. Enjoy!

Carrot Almond Oatmeal Muffins

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makes 12 regular muffins or 24 minis

1.5 cups oats
1 cup shredded carrots
2 egg whites
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional or sub 1 tsp coconut oil)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
Sliced almonds for topping (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until throughly mixed (it should look like the first picture below).
3. Spray or grease muffin tins (I used Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray – my fav), and fill each with 1-3 tbsp of batter depending on the size of your tins. Top with additional almond slices, if desired (I used Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Almond Slices – another staple in my pantry).
4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. They’re great with a drizzle of honey or almond butter as well!

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Carrot Cake Smoothie 

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1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 cup shredded carrots
1-2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional or sub 1 tsp coconut oil)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 date, pitted or half a banana
Ice cubes
1/4 cup oats to thicken, if desired
Optional boosts: 1-2 tbsp ground flax, protein powder, chia seeds, etc.

Directions:
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

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