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Recipe: Banana Bread Cookies

Half cake, half cookie, 100% delicious (well if you like banana bread and cookies).  This recipe basically began as a banana bread when I realized I had nothing to bake the bread in since I moved and haven’t picked up my bakeware from my mom’s house yet.  So right as I was mashing the bananas and mixing the chia seed egg (yes that’s a thing) I decided to make this a cookie and it was a fantastic idea.

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These are:

Gluten free

Vegan

Awesome

This recipe uses almond flour and coconut flour, chia seed as the egg, agave or maple syrup for sweetness to get your “I’m a healthy cookie but I’m still a cookie” fix.  And it doesn’t taste like cardboard.  The chia seed egg does need standing time, sorry to make this a multi-hour process, but it is worth it.  Option to use a regular egg, texture and taste will change and I haven’t experienced that change yet.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

Yield: 9 cookies

  • 2 tbsp chia seed soaked in 1/4 cup water overnight (or several hours until thick)
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 325F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mash banana in a large mixing bowl until smooth and no large chunks remaining.  To the bananas add chia seed mixture, agave or maple syrup, and vanilla extract.  Mix thoroughly.
  3. To the wet mixture add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix thoroughly and then fold into chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop batter into 9 even cookies on the baking sheet and shape.  Place in oven for 20-25 minute until lightly golden on top.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly before digging in.

 

Recipe: Chickpea and Sweet Potato Burgers

Sunday’s are for cooking for the week.  I’ve been in my Dietetic Internship since September which involves working for free at different sites and taking courses.  I also teach classes and have personal training and nutrition classes.  Lifes a whirlwind, but I absolutely love my job and know there is an end in sight.  Soon I’ll be a Registered Dietitian, the real deal in the nutrition profession.

So when I get time I like to experiment in my kitchen.  Healthy cooking is what drove me to become a nutrition professional, and these days that time in the kitchen is scarce.  For me it is important, so I make it a priority to set time on the side for it.

These little burgers came together while driving home on my from teaching Sunday.  I can’t remember my inspiration, it is usually something I have seen or eaten before.  For these, I recommend crisping in the pan before popping them in the oven.  While it is a little bit more time consuming, it is worth it.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

Yield: 9 mini burgers 

Serving Size: 2 burgers, 8 g protein, 28 g carbs, 4 g fat 

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato ~1 cup
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, removed from the pod
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cornmeal

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 375F.  Rinse and drain can of chickpea and peel the baked potato.  Boil 1.5 cups water and add the frozen edamame to boiling water for 4 minutes and drain.
  2. To a food processor add chickpeas and garlic cloves and pulse until finely chopped.  Next, add sweet potato, edamame, spices, salt, and tomato paste and blend until smooth.  Next, add cilantro and pulse until chopped.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add in cornmeal.
  4. Spray a 1/4 measuring cup with non-stick spray.  Scoop the batter and form the patties with your hands and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  5. Optional: heat a medium non-stick pan on med-high heat.  Once hot, coat with 1 tsp olive oil and add the patties.  Cook 2 min on each side to crisp and set back on baking sheet.
  6. Place burgers in the oven for 15 minutes until crisp on the outside.  Allow to cool slightly and serve on a bun, English muffin, over a salad or as a snack.

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli and Mushrooms Farro Salad with Balsamic Reduction Dressing

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This past holiday season brought on a ton of cooking.  My family always designates me with two dishes: a salad and the vegetables.  When I go to someone’s house, I usually like to show up with a dish for numerous reason.  To be completely honest, my number one reason is so I have something I know I would like to eat.  This is a tip I give most clients all the time.  Yes, holidays are meant to enjoy foods and I certainly do.  For me, a meal is not complete with a healthy dose of vibrant vegetables, even on a holiday.  I’m a Nutritionist, almost Dietitian, and overall health advocate, it is in my nature.

I’ve always wanted to make a balsamic reduction but always feared I’d burn it and waste some expensive balsamic vinegar.  I opted for a Trader Joe’s variety of balsamic for this dish and it came out great.  Of course a more quality balsamic would be a better option, and if you’re comfortable with it do it.  If not, the $2.99 balsamic tastes great in this dish.  It creates a sweet and savory dressing the compliments the farro and roasted veggies.  Rosemary gives it a wintery, holiday flare.  Even though the holidays are over, this dish can extend for meal prep, weeknight dinner or a special occasion dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, uncooked
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups sliced baby portobella mushrooms
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced rosemary

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 375F to roast the broccoli and mushrooms.  Place on a lined baking sheet and spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until broccoli is soft and slightly crispy.
  2. Cook 1 cup of farro according to package (some types of farro have different cooking requirements).  Cook until tender.
  3. While the vegetable roast, heat a small pan on medium heat.  Add balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, lower the heat and allow balsamic to reduce into a thick maple syrup type consistency.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled, whisk into olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary.  Adjust flavor by adding more lemon juice to your liking.
  4.  In a large bowl, combine farro, broccoli, mushrooms.  Add dressing, salt, and pepper to taste.  Toss in the arugula.  Serve warm or cool.

Recipe: Berry and Oat Breakfast Cake

There really are no good or bad foods.  What a relief.  What I love about helping people building healthy relationships around foods is that they begin to make the choices that their bodies intuitively want.  When we begin to smash out food labels, we can begin the open the door to let our bodies tell us what it needs.  Sometimes that need is cake.

Cake for breakfast.

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This recipe is a mix between a bread and a cake.  Since I really like cakes, I’m calling it a breakfast cake versus bread.  A sweet treat in the morning, or any time of day, loaded with nutritious ingredients is a go-to for me.  Since I know my body needs some staying power, I love to mix this or any kind of muffin with Icelandic yogurt.  You can also pair with kefir, vegan yogurts, spread with almond butter, or topped with cashew cream.

Yes, cake for breakfast.  Dig in.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups instant oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 6 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups +1/4 cup frozen berry mix (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc)

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 350F and spray a 9×9 inch pan.
  2. Add ground flax to water and set aside.  In a large bowl combine dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.
  3. To the dry ingredients add: maple syrup, almond butter, soy milk, vanilla extract, and flax mixture.  Fold in until completely combined.
  4. Add 2 cups berries to the batter and fold in.  Transfer to the 9×9 inch pan and top with remaining 1/4 cup of berries.
  5. Place in center rack and bake for ~45 minutes.  Allow to cool and cut until ~12 squares.

 

 

Question: How much am I supposed to weigh?

And no, you can’t find it on a chart…

The best weight for you is one that allows you to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health.  The number on the scale has let countless people down over and over again. We often put too much power into the scale and our body shapes to define our health, how we feel and who we are.  There are equations to estimate your ideal body weight, but even the most popular equations used have no evidence in its accuracy. Also, why are some made up equations telling us what our body is supposed to weigh?  Screw that.

So why is weight not the best measure?  There are a bunch of reasons, but one that is hot in research is the set-point theory.  This theory proposes that our bodies have a set weight range that is pre-determined for your body to function optimally.  According to this theory, genetics play a role in what your best set-point is. This may be why you’ve always been between 140-150 pounds and no matter what extremes you go to, you’ve never sustainably been 135 pounds.  You’re body really likes that weight since this is where it functions best.  Throughout life, your body weight fluctuations are normal.

What about weight loss/gain and my set-point?  Gaining weight can take you above your set-point.  Despite your body liking that set-point range, our body favors weight gain when we consume excessive calories.  Unfortunately, our bodies are more protective of weight loss versus weight gain, which is why we more easily gain weight than lose weight.  When we go into a caloric deficit, our bodies fight back by slowing down our metabolism as a protective mechanism. This feature enabled humans to reserve their energy stores until they could get the next meal, which could be days.  Nowadays this biological feature makes weight loss a challenge and seemingly impossible. This feeling of failure is mostly fueled by B.S. advertisements from the diet industry, that promise ridiculous, unsustainable results.

What should I do if I think I’m above my set-point and I want to lose weight? We have no way of knowing what everyone’s set-point is.  Wanting to lose weight is valid whether for health or just wanting to feel or look better, as long as your mental health is not spared.  You may be able to lose and maintain that weight loss if it is within your set point. You may even reach that weight goal but have to work really hard, unmanageably hard, to maintain that weight.  It may come at the cost of your mental sanity and can trigger disordered behaviors (i.e. food restriction, food obsession, compulsive exercise).

Traditional weight loss focuses on caloric intake and energy expenditure (aka eating fewer calories than we burn aka caloric deficit).  While scientifically to lose weight, you do need to be in that calorie deficit, how you approach it can be the difference between disappointment and a sustainable lifestyle.  Diet culture focuses on calorie counting, food avoidance, weigh-ins, tape measures, deprivation, ignoring body cues, supplements, excessive exercise, gimmicks and results that may or may not be sustainable.  When we deprive ourselves of calories, we become preoccupied with food. Quite frankly it sucks. This restrictive approach has shown to have some damaging side effects, both physiological and psychological. Click here to read more.   

So WHAT do I do?  Since no one can actually really tell you exactly how much you are supposed to weigh, non-weight based health goals can be a better option.  Most of us are just looking to feel better about ourselves and engaging in self-care behaviors can do that for us. Our bodies change throughout life, and so will your weight.   Try these 5 positive challenges to focus on other than body weight:

  1. Building a mind and body connection.  You’ve heard of it, but what does it really mean?  It means being aware of your bodily sensations and giving your body what it needs when it needs it.  This can be anything from understanding hunger cues to taking rest when you need it. You can start by learning to connect to your breath with this breathing exercise.
  2. Challenging your plate.  Lacking colorful fruits and vegetables?  We know healthy diets consist of high amounts and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Challenge yourself to add in at least 2 colors per meal (Think: eat the rainbow).
  3. Building strength.  Do you know anyone who started lifting heavier and did not feel completely awesome about it?  Nope. Make a strength goal (like going heavier on your squats) and smash it. Enlist a trainer if you need help setting up strength goals.
  4. Being kind to yourself.  Too often we are harsh on ourselves especially when it comes to our bodies.  Focus on going about your changes with a positive approach by repeating positive affirmations and catching yourself when you start to talk negative.  This can include “my diet is so bad”, “I feel fat”, “I have to starve myself to lose weight”.
  5. Cooking and baking more at home.  Eating out is easier, there’s no prep or clean up.  But cooking your own food helps you connect more to the meal and allows you to control what goes in us.  Food is emotional and being hands-on helps us connect more to those emotions.

Send me how you are setting non-weight based goals, I’d love to hear.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Grain Salad with Pomegranate Citrus Dressing

IMG_3719.jpegUp until yesterday (December 21st) I had no clue what I was bringing to our Christmas Day feast.  I’m historically assigned with the salad and vegetable for every holiday we have and I usually add in a grain dish.  This year I’m making this grain salad, a whole roasted cauliflower, and a mixed green salad.  We enjoy ourselves on the holidays but tend to stay relatively healthy with our dinner choices.  This is just how we like to eat.  Now for dessert, we go all out with pies, flan, ice cream, cookies and then bedtime.

For this grain salad, I used quinoa since I have a gluten-intolerant friend joining me this weekend but I will likely use farro on the big day.  I love citrus dressings for holiday meals.  With loads of salty and savory foods on the table, a hint of subtle sweetness rounds out the meal.  This dish can go alongside beef, chicken, fish or your favorite vegan protein (tofu, seitan, tempeh, legumes).  I actually had it with a veggie burger over mixed greens and it was damn good.

I used pomegranate vinegar which you can find at most markets and definitely at Trader Joes.   Feel free to swap it out for apple cider, balsamic and champagne vinegar.  I have not tried it but I got a feeling it will be good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp orange zest (about 1 medium orange)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions:

  1. Set the oven to 375F.  Chop the butternut squash into small cubes and coat with olive oil in a bowl.  Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes or until slightly caramelized.  Cook 1 cup quinoa according to the package, ensuring you rinse the quinoa first.
  2. While the quinoa and squash are cooking, make the dressing.  Zest the orange first.  In a large bowl add olive oil and the zest together.  Using the same orange, squeeze out 1/4 cup of juice (buy 2 in case it is not a juicy orange).  Add juice, vinegar, shallot, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Adjust acid, salt and sweet as needed.
  3. Allow quinoa and squash to cool about 10-15 minutes.  Fold cooked quinoa, squash with the dressing.  Next add in the parsley, nuts, and cranberries.  Taste and adjust for salt as needed.IMG_3719.jpeg

Recipe: Gingery Chickpea Stew

Chic-peaz: delicious legume packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.  Delicious in a variety of dishes from savory to sweet.

This recipe has been one of my favorites so far I’ve created with little inspiration other than having a leftover can of pumpkin puree.  I added it as an afterthought to a tomato based stew.  It added some creaminess with really no pumpkin flavor (FYI: pumpkin spice and actual pumpkin are not the same).

This is the perfect blend of spices, that can help calm inflammation (from your tough workouts) while adding a sweet and spicy flavor.  I really enjoyed this over some couscous with tofu and sweet potatoes for a complete protein packed meal.  This stew would also be perfect over cauliflower rice for a lower carb option and over a slice of yummy sourdough for a higher car, probiotic full option (yes sourdough bread is a source of probiotics.

Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ~1 inch knob of ginger, minced (~1-2 tbsp to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a deep saute pan (I used a wok), heat on med-high heat.  Add olive oil and onion to a heated pan.  Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic, ginger and all the spices.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next, add the diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree and bring to a light boil.  Next, add the chickpeas and lower to a medium-low heat.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Taste and then add salt and pepper to your liking.  Adjust spices as needed and simmer for 5-10 additional minutes.
  4. Enjoy over rice, quinoa or pasta or serve over crunchy bread.

 

Recipe: Chocolate Date and Protein Energy Balls with Pumpkin and Almond

As a busy, active human, energy balls are a lifesaver.  These are the perfect homemade version of many of my favorite bars.  Bars are great in a pinch, but when something can be whipped up in the kitchen in less than 15 minutes, it is an option I prefer.

With dates for a fibrous carb source, almonds for some fat and protein powder, these bite-sized balls are well balanced.  As a pre-exercise snack, they are perfect on their own.  Post-exercise,  I like to mash them into Greek yogurt, dairy or non-dairy, for some extra protein and calcium.  This can also be the perfect dessert.

 

Chocolate Date and Protein Energy Balls with Pumpkin and Almond

Yield: ~10 balls 

Ingredients:

  • 15 pitted medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/4 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup almonds until finely chopped and remove from food processor into a small bowl.  This will be used to roll the balls in.
  2. Add in the dates and pulse until finely chopped.  Next, add in the rest of the whole almonds and place on high until the dates and nuts are combined into a sticky paste.
  3. Next add in the protein powder, cacao, almond butter, and pumpkin puree until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, or a heaping tablespoon worth, scoop mixture into your hands and roll into a ball.  Place in the ground almonds and mix around until evenly coated.
  5. Place balls on a baking tray and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.  Transfer to an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for ~7 days.  These can be frozen too for up to 1 month.

Recipe: Corn Tortilla Soup

This soup is the perfect combo of warmth, spice, and sweetness from the jalapeños and corn.  Tortilla soup is one of my all-time favorite soups and I am always looking for ways to make different variations.  You can check out my other recipe for tortilla soup with quinoa here.

With summers leftover corn still lingering around and the chill starting to set,  this soup is ideal to whip up on a meal prep day.  I use chicken since I eat meat, but using a combination of beans, legumes, and grains can be used as an alternative for a plant-based version.   To get the best flavor, roasting the corn and jalapeños are ideal for a smokey flavor.  Pop them in the oven until slightly charred.  The few extra minutes are definitely worth the flavorful punch it adds.

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, preferably grilled or roasted with kernels cut
    • (~2.5 cups of corn kernels)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 jalapeños, preferably grilled or roasted
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • lime and cilantro for serving

Instruction

  1. Place a large stock pot on the stove, heat medium high.  Add olive oil and onions to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes (Note: if you are not roasting or grilling the corn first, I would add them in here to cook them a bit).  Then add garlic, cumin, chipotle, and paprika.  Cook for an additional minute.
  2. Add the stock and jalapeños and chicken breast.  Bring to a complete boil and then lower the heat to medium.  Cook until chicken breast is completely cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, around 15 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken breast and place on a cutting board.  Using two forks, begin to shred the chicken.  Set aside.
  4. To a high power blender or food processor, scoop out the corn and jalapeños from the pot, adding a small amount of the stock.  Blend until smooth and then add back to the pot with the shredded chicken.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil one more time.  Add salt to taste.
  6. Serve with a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro.

Recipe: Herb and Spice Roasted Chickpeas

I went keto/low carb before and I felt absolutely fantastic.  The problem was, I love carb-rich foods and it was a matter of time before I went back to it.  I’ve been talking about doing a low carb diet again before I begin my half-marathon training, as it does have many purported and anecdotal benefits.  Generally, I personally felt more mental clarity, less gastric distress, and overall more energized.  Why I stopped?  Lifestyle, food preference, and training needs.

Another reason I can never be life-long keto, paleo, whole-30 or the like is chickpeas (all these diets require either low carb or no beans/legumes).  They are pretty much a staple in my life from hummus to vegan burgers to roasted chickpeas to raw in my salads.  Chickpeas are:

  • packed with protein
  • full of fiber
  • nutrient rich
  • super versatile for cooking

One of my favorite ways to cook chickpeas is roasting them.  They get a slightly crispy outside and soft texture inside that makes my mouth so happy.  You can throw them over grains, in a salad, or toss into a wrap.

This marinade is the perfect blend of herbs and spices to give these roasted chickpeas a flavorful punch.  I started off making this a chimichurri but got inspired by all the herbs in my moms mini-garden.  I used mint, parsley, and cilantro for this version, but you can certainly throw in whichever herbs you have on hand to make this your own.  I love adding in the cashews at the end so they add a little crunch to the marinade.

This recipe makes more than required for a single can of chickpeas so feel free to throw the rest over a package of tofu and add a few tablespoons of soy sauce.  It can also be a good sauce to have over grilled chicken or fish.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup mint
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Drain a can of chickpeas and rinse thoroughly in a mesh strainer.  Let is sit on the side and allow it to dry off while you make the marinade.
  3. In a food processor, add the olive oil, garlic, herbs, red onion, spices, and red wine vinegar and place on high until it has a pesto-like consistency.
  4. Next, add in the salt, pepper, and cashews, pulsing until the cashews are coarsely chopped in.
  5. Add three to 4 tablespoons of the marinade to the chickpeas in a bowl and mix until evenly coated.  Transfer to the lined baking sheet and place in the oven for ~15 mins.
  6. Remove and add an extra tablespoon for marinade if desired.  Serve over grains, salad, or in a veggie wrap.

Enjoy 🙂

Where do you stand with you relationship with food and your body?

 

Evaluate your relationship today! 

Let's get stronger together.

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