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.
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.
The most astute readers of this blog will notice that this week’s Friday Cocktails feature is actually being posted on a Saturday. Gasp. Occasionally these things happen and I like to think that it keeps everyone on their toes.
But wait, there’s more! My very good friend (and ultra savvy fellow cocktail admirer) Catherine graciously agreed to write a guest post this week. It’s my first guest post! Catherine and I are equally ardent in our appreciation of a well-crafted cocktail. So when she texted me the other day telling me about a delicious new recipe she tried, I asked if she would write about it. Read on for Catherine’s review of Cucumber Sangria:
I love reading the Cultivate Wellness Friday Cocktails series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying most of them. (In fact, the most recent entry in that series — the Aviation — has changed my cocktail life. It is a perfect, extraordinarily delicious cocktail.) That is why, when I made the Cucumber Sangria I’m about to tell you about, I immediately texted Melanie to tell her that I thought it would be perfect for Friday Cocktails. And I am thrilled to share it as a guest today at Cultivate Wellness. Thank you for having me!
This sangria is refreshing and the combination of the cool, fresh, grassy flavor of the cucumber and the sweetness of the honeydew is truly delightful. The sangria also is not overly boozy, and since we were serving it on a weeknight for my sister’s birthday celebration, this was a perfect mix for us. I love that the sangria uses seasonal produce, and I happened to have almost all of the ingredients on hand — cucumber and mint from our garden, and melon from our CSA. I am sure that the sugary ripeness of the melon, which was perfectly in season, contributed to the success of the cocktail. So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the Cucumber Sangria (click to link to the original recipe, featured in Better Homes & Gardens).
I love tofu. But I have always been a little afraid to cook with it at home because it felt fussy to me. For years I’ve been wanting to try pan frying it, ever since my friend Becky told me she made it and it was really delicious.
The other day I was hungry for lunch and I had very little in my refrigerator. I did, however, have some organic extra firm tofu. I looked up a few different recipes and decided to use a mixture of all of them. What I love about pan fried tofu is the crispy “skin”. The texture is really pleasing and if you season it well it will taste delicious.
I always buy organic if I can, and I eat it at most a couple of times a week. Lots of studies show that whole soy can be healthy for us in many ways, but there are also conflicting studies that show the opposite. As with all things, it’s up to the individual to decide what is right for them. If you are interested in reading more about soy and your health, click here, here or here. One thing is for certain: it’s high in protein (it’s actually a complete protein, something you rarely find in vegetarian food), low in calories, and has some healthy fat to keep you full.
PAN FRIED TOFU
1 package firm or extra firm tofu (organic if possible)
1-2 T (or more) of olive oil
2-3T corn starch (buy organic if you wish)
Salt and pepper
2 T honey
1/4 cup soy sauce (I prefer the San-J gluten-free Tamari)
1 t garlic powder
Slice tofu into 1/2 inch “fillets”
Place tofu folded paper towels on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place a small casserole dish on top of tofu, and then place a heavy can or jar of sauce in the casserole dish to press down on the tofu. Let stand for 15 minutes to squeeze out excess liquid.
Pat tofu dry, then place in a colander. Sprinkle the corn starch all over the tofu. This is what’s going to give it a nice crust.
Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan and when hot, place the tofu in the pan. Let sit for about 5 minutes to form a nice golden brown crust, checking periodically to make sure it’s not burning.
In the meantime, combine honey, soy sauce and garlic powder in a small saucepan, and heat over medium-low, stirring often, until it reduces to a glaze.
Turn tofu over to brown the other side. When done, place on a plate and drizzle the glaze on top.
If you live in the U.S. chances are you’ve endured one of the hottest weeks in a very long time. Here in the north, we’ve had 115 degree heat indexes with dew points that make it nearly unbearable. I grew up in Phoenix, when 115 degrees was par for the course. But when you add oppressive humidity it becomes an entirely different ball of (melted) wax.
On days like today I feel like we all deserve a fun drink recipe to help usher in the weekend. Today I’m featuring Hot-As-Heck Margarita recipe to accompany our equally hot weather. It is said that spicy foods actually cool you down internally by stimulating the heat receptors in your mouth, which enhance circulation and in turn causes you to sweat. So, you know, drink up.
*Disclaimer: you actually need to drink a lot of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated when it’s hot. Be smart!
kosher or sea salt
4 fluid ounces tequila
2 fluid ounces triple sec
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Pour enough salt onto a small, shallow plate to cover the surface. Use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of two margarita glasses.
Fill glasses with ice.
Pour the tequila, triple sec, lime juice, agave nectar or maple syrup, and jalapeno into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into the prepared glasses, and garnish with lime wedges to serve.