My New Favorite Pasta Sauce: Cashew Cream

This sauce does not include dairy cream–only creamy cashew goodness! So, this is good for those who do not tolerate milk products, or if you are trying to eat more plant based, or just enjoy cashews! This is a healthier alternative to alfredo sauce.

The first trick is finding raw cashews. Luckily, I spotted them in the bulk foods section of my grocery store. You will need to soak the cashews overnight in water, or if you don’t have the time or patience for this (like me), you can microwave them in water for 2 minutes. The fast track method doesn’t give you the smoothest cashew cream, but it works.

cashew pasta

Ingredients:

Cashew Sauce:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in water or using the fast track method above
  • reduced sodium vegetable broth (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon, and zest of one lemon (add at the end of cooking)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups raw chopped kale
  • 1 cup green peas (I used frozen peas)
  • 8 oz. box of quinoa noodles (or your choice of noodles)cashew cream recipe

Directions:

  1. Prepare your cashews using description above. Then, drain the water.
  2. Next, using a large food processor, add your cashews and cover the cashews with reduced sodium vegetable broth and/or water. Add the remaining cashew cream sauce ingredients, and blend until smooth.
    Tip: you can use less liquid if you want a creamier, thicker sauce. Or, more liquid if you want it thinner.
  3. Next, cook your pasta according to box directions, except cook it a little extra al dente. The pasta will continue to cook with the cream sauce afterwards, so it is recommended to boil it a few minutes less than needed.
  4. In another large sauce pan, wilt your kale and cook the peas with a small amount of olive oil.
  5. Transfer the pasta to the vegetables, then pour in your cashew cream sauce and continue to cook over the stove another 3-5 minutes. Add your lemon zest near the end of cooking.

pasta with cashew cream sauce

I added natural chicken sausage to mine for some protein. You could grill chicken and add it, or even shrimp, or tofu (for a vegetarian/vegan recipe).

Cauliflower Pepperoni “Pizza” Casserole

This is one of my new favorite recipes. Yum-O! I probably like it so much because I loaded it up with pepperoni which I haven’t eaten in a few years at least!

The best (and healthiest) part about it is that there is no white flour–cauliflower and extra vegetables only. It is a great way to load up on veggies, but still feeling like you are eating something sinfully delicious.

healthy cauliflower pizza casserole

I found this recipe idea somewhere on Pinterest–I believe this blog has the original :)

Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags of frozen cauliflower (about 12 oz. each)natural pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or whatever flour you prefer)
  • 8 oz. part skin mozzarella
  • 1 package natural pepperoni* (Hormel Natural Choice or Applegate)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, parsley, basil combined
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

*I get the natural, chemically free of preservatives pepperoni. It is still pepperoni, but not so processed.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, thaw your frozen cauliflower. Pour out extra water and pat dry.
  2. In a large food processor, add the cauliflower, flour,  spices, seasonings, garlic, onion, about 1/3 of your cheese, and 1/3 of your pepperoni. The rest will be for the topping.
  3. Process those ingredients until there are no large chunks. The consistency should be mealy, and mostly smooth.
  4. In a medium size baking dish, pour in your cauliflower mixture. Top with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese, and then remaining pepperoni.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes until golden brown.

cauliflower pizza casserole

Super tasty! I baked some turkey meatballs for an addition to the meal.

Approx Nutrition Facts: (6 servings per recipe; facts for 1/6th of recipe) 214 calories, 11 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 13.5 grams protein. And 60% of your daily value for vitamin C!

Ice Day!

Snow day… more like ice day!

From the Weather Channel

From the Weather Channel

ice day in Atlanta

Everyone in the Southeast seems to be home hibernating for the day. The weather and news reporters have been predicting that this is and will be a “catastrophic” event. They have been predicting thousands will lose power–likely for a few days! Of course this sounds so gloom and doom, so everyone has bought food, water, and flashlight to last days.

I picked up a few healthy snacky mcsnackersons.

healthy storm snacks

This is about as far as I go with packaged, more processed foods.

I filled up all of the water bottles that we had and put them in the fridge in case we lose power. I also filled a bucket with water for emergency toilet flushing. Haha.

Yesterday, I did a home workout to Jillian Michael’s kickboxing and then Tae Bo Billy’s kickboxing. A little cheesy, but kind of fun for when you are stuck home.

Might as well do another one of these types of workouts today! If we lose power, I will just have to improvise :)

How Grows the Garden?

broccoli seedlings

My broccoli seedlings and cherry tomatoes have sprouted! It looks like the jalapenos are about to pop up soon. Still waiting for the bell peppers to sprout. FYI: peppers of all kinds take a long time to sprout. Some varieties can take a month! Others say the more spicy the pepper, the longer it will take to sprout, but I have not found this to be true.

One your plants have two sets of leaves (or are at least 2″ tall), you can transplant them into a larger container, and separate them CAREFULLY (not disturbing the roots). For now, I think I am going to transplant my broccoli into solo cups with holes poked in the bottom.

Other grower happenings:

I found MOLD in my wheat grass. Gross.

growing wheat grass

I recently transplanted the wheat grass to a larger container so that it won’t be so crowded. This will help the mold problem. And the new container has more ventilation on the bottom. I also turn the fan on for a few hours every day. This has seemed to help. If this completely fails, I will just buy new wheat grass seeds and start over since I know what I did wrong: overcrowding the seeds and improper ventilation/drainage.

Supposedly, the mold is not that harmful because it is a small amount at the base, and you can always rinse it off.

New Plantings

growing sugar snap peas in a container

I have recently planted some sugar snap pea seeds in this window box container. Sugar snap peas can be planted immediately into the ground or a container because they can handle cold temperatures (especially as young plants), and you really don’t want to disturb their root system once sprouted.

Today, I have to go find some type of lattice to put in the container so that when they grow, they will have something to grow vertically on. Make sure not to put this in too late, or again, you will disturb the root system. Oh, and sugar snap peas can handle a narrow container like this (as long as you only plant one row of seeds).

Lettuce Seeds

how to sprout lettuce

This is NOT how I position my lamp. Make sure to keep the light directly over top of the seedlings (about 2 inches). Otherwise, it will damage the growth and roots.

Lemon, the cat, loves to watch the plants grow :)

Last night I planted seeds for arugula, and a mix of lettuces.  Once I move my broccoli plants, I will place the lettuce seeds more under the grow light. I have found that this light has helped tremendously to give warmth and also help the seeds sprout better. You can tell because the plants that are not directly under the lamp are growing much more slowly and do not look as strong.

Fertilizer

I have also purchased two kinds of fertilizer that I will be using once my plants grow larger.

This is the organic fertilizer I bought to add to the soil I am using when I plant the seedlings:

organic fertilizer

And here is the fertilizer I will be using about once a week:

organic fertilizer for vegetables

Growing My Own Vegetables

I’m likely going to have a patio this year where I can grow potted vegetables and herbs. I was super excited about this switch from dark apartment living where I can not grow much at all. So, I bought tons of seeds from seedsnow.com.  Seeds there are non-GMO and organic! Yay! I plan to grow organic veggies with organic soil and everything.

Another great thing is that a bag of seeds only costs about $1. It is the fertilizer and other supplies that start to make your costs increase.

broccoli seeds

The funny thing is that the seeds are so tiny, but they are going to grow large plants! I only needed 10 broccoli seeds total. I am not creating a farm. I will only have a small space to work with.

I bought seed saver bags that I can store unused seeds for years. I will also be re-planting the broccoli in the fall.

Here is my current set up for sprouting seeds:

starting seeds indoors

I had to put them on my bookshelf where my cats wouldn’t get them. Another good location would be the top of the fridge, but that is hard for me to get to.

how to sprout seeds

I have a 13 watt light bulb over the peppers so that I can keep the temperature closer to 80 degrees. The peppers are very picky about staying nice and warm. At this time of year I am also starting to sprout broccoli and cherry tomatoes.

I bought these convenient seed starting dirt pods, but you could do something similar in an egg carton. I then placed them in a glass container with a small amount of liquid on the bottom for the first 24 hours.

I will be growing more plants than this, but they don’t need to start sprouting yet. Tonight I will also be starting some wheat grass! I have discovered that you can very easily grow wheat grass in your home indoors with a light.

I can’t wait for fresh nutrients!!

Healthy Comfort Foods Recipe Round-up

There is a 30% chance of snow for those of us in Atlanta tonight… which means I doubt snow will accumulate even though everyone is running to the stores to stock up on toilet paper like a scene out of an end of the world zombie movie. Those of us from New York always think this craze is ridiculous.

Anyways, I have compiled a list of wintery, warm, and healthier recipes for this cold weather!

What are you cooking up in this cold weather?

Honeymoon Hiatus

This past week we returned from our Caribbean honeymoon, and holiday travels. That is why you haven’t seen updates in a few weeks!

Grand Turk

On our vacation we had a lot of unhealthy food like bacon, sweets, ice cream, and a burger! But, other than that, I still managed to eat fruits, veggies, and as healthy as is possibly normal.

When we  got to Miami near the end of our honeymoon we found an amazing vegetarian restaurant called Maoz. They only have two options: falafel or salad with  falafel on it. Then you can add loads of veggies and spicy condiments.

For those who don’t know, falafel is made from blended up chickpeas and seasonings and then formed into what looks like meatballs, and then fried or baked.

falafel salad

They also make fresh juice. I got kale, apple, celery, lemon–my fav blend.

drinking green juice

Plus, we were able to walk a lot in Miami to burn off the extra calories from previous days!

sporty

But, then it was back to some home cooking at my family’s house! They had plenty of Italian cookies which I enjoyed.

Italian cookies

 

They cooked a beef tenderloin for dinner, which I opted out of since I am not a big fan of red meats… I helped cook some sun-dried tomato green beans, pesto broccoli, and roasted potatoes!

Christmas vegetarian dinner

Now, I am back to work getting ready for weight loss season. Thanksgiving and after New Year’s is when we see most of our patients! Nothing wrong with that. The New Year is the perfect time to reevaluate your lifestyle and health goals for the year ahead!

Peanut Butter Protein Powder

Mercola.com recently sent me this peanut butter whey protein powder. I happily accepted it as I like the flavor of whey proteins and often use them to make homemade protein bars. I had also been looking for a cleaner flavored whey protein that was not chocolate or vanilla!

Mercola protein powder

I was pleasantly surprised and excited that it did not have any splenda or nasty sweeteners. Overall, the product gets my approval!

protein powder nutrition facts

The nutrition facts look pretty good. I like to see no more than 5 or 6 grams of sugar. The high fiber level is great, and the protein powder is a good source of calcium.

protein powder ingredients

The ingredients all look pretty standard and are acceptable to me. Many people prefer to avoid guar gum, and I don’t like to have it too often just to practice the “in moderation” approach to foods. I just try to eliminate additives in my diet in general. If you are not familiar, luo han guo is a natural sweetener in the same sweetener category as stevia.

Anyways, one of my favorite ways to use a peanut butter flavored protein powder is in oatmeal, or in homemade protein bars.

I made these “overnight oats” by accident. I was trying to follow a recipe for no bake protein bars, but they never got hard enough. So, I turned it into an oatmeal!

overnight peanut butter oats

I recommend overnight oats to a lot of my patients because it saves loads of time in the morning. What you do is prepare about 4 servings ahead of time in an air-tight container.

Example:

  • 1 cup oats (not steel cut)
  • 3/4-1 cup milk of your choice
  • 4 scoops peanut butter protein powder
  • 1 cup PB2
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter

Stir well to combine, and refrigerate. In the morning, scoop into bowl, and heat for about 1 minute. Drizzle with natural, local honey on top! Easy!!

Why I Avoid Fitspiration Posts and Photos

Why I avoid thinspiration and fitspiration posts and photos… Because I feel that it helps me become a better me.

Over the last year, I feel like there has been an overwhelming amount of “fitspo” flooding the internet. Maybe this is due to the popularity of instagram and selfies. Who knows. It may help motivate some people, and that’s great. What I do know is that I don’t think positive thoughts when I view these photos.

This is probably because those photos show perfect looking bodies and it is something many of us try to attain. We view the photo as a symbol of perfection, but it is simply not true.

My ultimate goals and my “perfection” is to find where I feel happiest and healthiest. I make the fitness and nutrition choices in my life according to what I think is balanced and right for me. Not for that person in the photo.

So, let this be a message of encouragement: Make your own personal goals for YOU. And not looking at “fitspo” photos helps me focus on me! So, try it out!

Examples

Good “Fitspo” Post

be strongImage source 

Bad Post

bad fitspo

And I will leave you with a quote for the day :)

beauty

Eats of the Week: Squash, Beets, Kale

My blogging has still been slow to post lately… I am finding that I am getting slightly bored with posting healthy eats and nutrition information because I do it for work. Yes, it is true! Every health blogger in the blogosphere is not obsessed with posting about healthy eating and fitness. I guess I am just one of the unobsessed. Does that make me a worse blogger? I don’t think so. I think it just makes me honest.

Anyways, I still have found plenty of healthy foods to eat these past few weeks even if I haven’t cared to post every meal. Here are some healthy food and quite seasonal food inspirations for you!

My favorite spaghetti squash recipe:

spaghetti squash with goat cheese

This recipe I added goat cheese to and it was super tasty! You can add goat cheese to a lot of dishes and instantly make them delicious.

Kale Chips. The usual.

kale chips

Pumpkin Protein Muffins:

pumpkin protein muffins

I would post the recipe to these, but i haven’t quite perfected it yet. These were made with coconut flour, and they can out a little too bland and a little too moist. However, they are wonderfully healthy–lots of fiber, clean ingredients, and nutrition!

Homemade Chili:

healthy beef chili

Yes, we used beef in this recipe for the first time. I am not opposed to beef, I just believe in eating it very minimally and make sure to choose organic, grass fed brands. I am talking 2 oz. of beef here and there. We used 16 oz. of ground beef in a huge pot of chili and it has taken us quite a few days to eat it. Nothing crazy. If anything, it probably helps me maintain better iron levels.

Beets with Sour Cream

Who knew this would be a tasty combination!

beets with sour cream

All you have to do is peel and boil the beets so that you can cut them in quarters. Then lightly roast them until they have softened like a potato. Season and add light sour cream. Voila! I love beets pickled in a kale salad, or made into beet chips as well.