My 12 year old daughter is having a sleepover tonight and instead of the usual soda, I think I will make this Green Tea Mojito recipe for them to try (obviously as a mocktail). I want to test it out for an upcoming dinner party we are attending. The dinner party is on St. Patrick’s Day and I have a 5k the next morning that I’ve been actually training for these last couple of months. And I want to do well. Generally if you want to do your best in a 5k you do all the right things the night before, which includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously and abstaining from alcohol. Totally boring, I know. But I’m committed this time! My usual M.O. is to sign up for a 5k with plans to “really train this time”. And then a week before the race I realize that I methodically have trained 3x week using a calendar that I’ve printed out and taped up on the wall failed to do any training whatsoever. So I suck it up and do the 5k and want to die by 1/4 mile in because I’m not at all prepared. But something clicked for me this past fall and I’ve been as committed to my exercise as I have been to my other healthy habits. Hence the “dry” St. Patrick’s Day.
I thought this recipe with green mint looked fun for St. Patty’s day . I love mint and I love green tea. Did you know green tea has lots of antioxidants and cancer-fighting polyphenols? Studies have also shown that people who drink green tea regularly have less belly fat, lower cholesterol, and better blood sugar control. The original calls for white rum, and I figure I can bring a carafe of the mix without the alcohol and people can add it if they want.
I have always struggled with my blood sugar. I am infamous in my family for getting, shall we say, cranky if my blood sugar dips. I regularly get a little lightheaded upon standing if it’s been too long since I last ate, and there have been times when I have gotten sweaty, shaky, and nauseated from waiting too long to eat.
I always just thought that this was how I was built. I couldn’t understand it when people told me they regularly skipped meals. I couldn’t fathom how that was even possible. In my recent studies to become a Nutrition Consultant, I’ve been learning a lot about blood sugar irregularities, also knows as dysglycemia. Because of regular blood tests, I know that everything else is functioning normally, and so far my low blood sugar issues haven’t caused any damage. BUT, left unchecked, high or low blood sugar can lead to all kinds of problems. We all know diabetes is a huge problem in our country, and chronically high blood sugar can (and probably will) lead to a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis somewhere down the line unless you get it under control.
The good news is there is a lot we can do with our nutrition to help stabilize our blood sugar. Last week I started a concerted effort to make sure every single snack and meal contained a healthy fat (think nuts, avocado, fish, whole fat yogurt, olives, olive oil), a healthy carb (like those found in sweet potatoes, sprouted grain toast, or an apple), and high quality protein (again, nuts and fish and yogurt, but also chicken, legumes, a hard boiled egg, or hummus). Plus for each meal, lots of non-starchy veggies. I also have been giving myself a snack a couple hours after breakfast. I used to try to just hold out until lunch, but would find myself literally counting the minutes until 11:00 a.m. Ever since I’ve made these changes, It has made a HUGE difference in my hunger levels. It used to be that every afternoon between about 2 pm and dinner time, I would be ravenous. Normally that’s when I would inhale too many crackers because my blood sugar was low and simple carbs were what my body was begging for. But for the last week my blood sugar feels quite stable. I can wait until 12:00 or 1:00 for lunch now that I’m having a snack. And that period between lunch and dinner is no longer excruciating (because I’m nourishing my body with what it needs earlier in the day). I’ve been on vacation with family and have been so much more flexible in when we eat our meals because I’m not feeling like I might pass out if I don’t eat rightthisverysecond.
I don’t know if my weight will change, and quite frankly I don’t care. I like the fact that I feel healthier, more flexible about my eating schedule, and less cranky. I’m sure my family will enjoy those benefits as well.
So, if you feel like maintaining an equilibrium with your blood sugar is an issue, try this method. It takes a bit of planning, but it is worth it. And please check back in with me and let me know if it works for you!
The third healthy breakfast recipe I want to feature this week is one you can make ahead of time and keep in the freezer until you are ready. We regularly make extra batches of waffles and pancakes on the weekend to pull out on busy weekday mornings. These waffles are gluten-free and paleo friendly (even though we are neither in our household). To add a bit of extra protein to your breakfast, I would suggest a serving of chicken breakfast sausage. I really like Applegate. Their chicken apple link sausage only contain Chicken, Dried Apples, Water, Honey, Salt, Spices and Parsley. 3 links are 120 calories and will add 9 grams of protein to your meal. They are pricey, but because I eat mostly vegetarian and my husband does his own thing for breakfast, we use them sparingly.
If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can use this as pancake batter instead. Enjoy!
Following up on yesterday, I’m featuring a Smoked Salmon Egg Bake for today’s healthy breakfast. It has healthy fats (salmon, eggs), high quality protein (eggs, salmon), and some healthy carbs in the form of zucchini. These three components of breakfast will start you on the right path first thing in the morning, help stabilize your blood sugar, and hopefully reduce those sugar cravings later in the day.
Give this a try, eat it as easy leftovers all week!
I recently created an educational handout for healthy breakfast recipes with lots of protein. Because here’s the deal: if you notice yourself craving carbs and sugar throughout the day, many times it’s because you aren’t getting enough protein at breakfast. A bowl of cereal with lots of refined flour or grains is satisfying at first, but really it doesn’t sustain you for long. You ideally should be having high quality protein, healthy fats, and quality carbs (this can be in the form of vegetables or fruits) at breakfast. So, an avocado filled with tuna has healthy fats (tuna, avocado), high quality protein (tuna), and healthy carbs (avocado,which is also high in fiber, and red bell pepper).
If you have a problem controlling yourself around sugar, don’t blame your lack of “willpower”. When your caveman brain is telling you it needs sugar, it’s very hard to resist. But you can help to quiet that voice by setting yourself up to avoid those cravings in the first place. A savory breakfast can help. If you have a sugar problem, but you start your morning eating something really sweet, even if it’s a healthy smoothie, you’re just feeding into it. If you start with a savory breakfast that has fat/protein/healthy carbs, you might find yourself slowly craving sugar less and less. Just a note: fruits and smoothies aren’t “bad”. But if you are having trouble with sugar, it’s best for a few days to skip the sweet breakfast.
I’ll post one breakfast recipe each day for the next three days. Just give them a try for the next few days and let me know if you notice any difference! This first one couldn’t be any easier, and will take just a couple minutes more than pouring a bowl of cereal.
It occurred to me recently that I have done very little actual cooking. If you know me at all (like, AT ALL) you know I love cooking. I love reading recipes and chopping things and creating something nourishing and delicious for the people in my life.
But it’s December. And it’s hectic. I have one child who isn’t even close to being over scheduled, I work part time from home and go to school part time online, and yet here we are, running around all over the place. If I’m busy, just imagine what most other families are feeling.
Last night we got home from the third event of the day totally wiped out. We had gotten seven inches of snow the night before and during the day, so my husband went outside to start the cleanup. I had a Blue Apron recipe waiting in the fridge for me to make. It looked delicious — General Tso’s chicken. And yet. I was so tired I just couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, which was to open some containers of soup, throw together a salad from a bag, and pop a frozen multi-grain garlic baguette into the toaster oven. I microwaved some edamame that was leftover from God knows when (there was no visible mold so it was good enough for me) and sliced a single yellow bell pepper for the kid who at 12 still hates salad. And that was dinner. And it was good! Just as I was putting everything on the table a good friend texted that she had just enough leftover fruit crisp and vanilla ice cream for our family of three, and would we want it? She was going to take her dog for a walk and would pop over with it. It took me less than a heartbeat to accept her offer, and it was by far the most delicious ending to a meal we’ve had in a long time. It was so tasty, and better yet, it was such a kind gesture and just what we all needed at the end of our day.
So, I have no recipe for you today, no health snippets. I guess all I’m saying is sometimes the best meals are the ones that you throw together with what you have, and that canned soup might just be the perfect dinner when we are all doing the best we can.
Did you know studies have shown eating fatty fish with high omega 3 content once a week can help protect your brain? It’s true! If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease, have Type II diabetes (which predisposes you to Alzheimer’s) or just want to do something healthy for yourself, I highly recommend eating salmon on a regular basis. Wild caught salmon is best — farmed salmon generally has less omega 3 content and is sometimes fed a diet of corn and soy. Read below for more information on why salmon, garlic, and olive oil are healthy for your body and brain.
If you like this recipe, please share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media pages! Please leave a comment too, I love to hear from you!
The weather took a sharp turn here this week, with temps dropping into the 30’s overnight and 50’s in the day. It’s gorgeous, this crisp fall weather. It’s also that perfect time of the season where the last of the delicious garden tomatoes are at their peak and you just want to use them in everything before the frost comes and it’s too late.
Late summer/early fall tomatoes are perfect on pasta, I think. We love pasta in our house. We eat it about once a week, always with different variations of sauces. Over the years I’ve migrated from making white flour pasta to whole wheat to quinoa/brown rice blend. Recently I’ve started experimenting with legume pasta. I love that it is made with *only one ingredient*. In addition, legume pasta is high in protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free, vegan, and in the case of Pasta Lensi, also Non-GMO Project Verified.
Pasta Lensi, an authentic Italian pasta company, has been around since 1920. And just this September they launched their line of legume pastas. They sent me three flavors to try, which is fun because I really enjoy trying new things (ask any of my friends, they are constantly hearing me talk about something new I’ve discovered).
This week I made the Chickpea Casarecce.It’s made with flour ground solely from chickpeas. I was told it pairs nicely with chunky sauces so I decided to make Pasta Caprese. Chunky tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and fresh buffalo mozzarella –what could be better? (Of note: the chickpea pasta is a good source of potassium and iron. Iron is important when you eat mostly vegetarian, and so when you get it from non-meat sources it’s important to pair it with vitamin C. The tomatoes would be perfect for that.)
Sadly, while preparing dinner I realized my mozzarella had gone bad in the fridge. What I didn’t know is that the Chickpea Casarecce would impart a creaminess to the dish, which compensated for the lack of cheese quite nicely. I love that it has 22 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving. The high protein content easily made up for the lack of cheese or meat in the dish. It also has 12 grams of fiber, which is just about 1/2 of an adult’s fiber needs for the day.
Dinner was favorably received by my family, and for that I am always grateful. My 11 year old gladly ate her whole bowlful. Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (I love flake sea salt)
1.5-2 lbs chopped in-season tomatoes
1 pound Pasta Lensi Chickpea Casarecce (or any pasta of your choice)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the tomatoes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the flavors combine. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. (This pasta, like all the legume pastas I’ve tried, creates a foamy layer on the top of the water. Make sure to use a pot bigger than you need and watch so it doesn’t boil over.) Pour the pasta into a large bowl and spoon the tomatoes mixture on top, then stir to combine. Add the mozzarella and basil, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with whole sprigs of basil. Serve hot or room temperature.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe! Don’t hesitate to share with with your friends!
*I was provided product and compensated for my post by Pasta Lensi. All opinions are authentically mine.
Have I lost you already? Did you stop reading when you saw the word “kale”? Please stay with me, it’ll be worth your while.
If you are like me you love salty, crunchy snacks. Unfortunately most commercially made salty crunchy snacks aren’t so healthy. They usually have hydrogenated or other low quality oils, super processed flour or potatoes, and tons of sodium.
May I suggest making a batch of kale chips? They are salty. They are crunchy. There is that pleasing release of olive oil when you bite into them. And dangit, they are good for you too!
What I love about kale is that it’s low calorie, high in fiber, and has tons of antioxidants. It is high in iron (beating beef calorie for calorie) and Vitamin K, C, and A. It has magnesium (which you’ll remember is the “relaxing” mineral) and calcium. You really can’t say that about a bag of potato chips.
Every time I make this recipe for our neighbor gatherings, adults and kids gobble it up immediately. Just make sure you sip on your Aviation or Cucumber Sangria cocktail after you eat them to rid your teeth of any pesky green pieces.
Here’s how to make kale chips.
1 head of kale, any type, washed and dried (make sure it’s really really dry. Try wrapping and blotting it with paper towels, or just spreading it out for a bit to air dry)
Generous drizzle of olive oil
Flake sea salt (or any salt you prefer)
Garlic powder (optional but super delicious)
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Separate the leaves from the ribs of the kale. The ribs are gross and you don’t want them.
Cut or tear the leaves into 1-2″ pieces
Spread leaves out on a rimmed baking sheet
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Jiggle the baking sheet to coat the leaves with the good stuff.
Bake until crispy, being sure not to burn. This will take about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir the leaves around about halfway through.
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know what you think!