Recipes Feed

Why wait until January 1? I've already started

This post is inspired by my Internet pal Jamie (inventor of the cauliflower pizza!), who decided to start crushing her goals ahead of time as well!

I haven't done a lot of posting here for the past few weeks because I caught a cold that turned into a massive ear infection. the Monday before Thanksgiving I bit the bullet and headed to the walk-in clinic because the mere act of swallowing was unbearable. I thought I had strep (nope!) but my right ear was so badly infected that the pain was traveling all the way down the right side of my head.

I really never run to the doctor with things like ear and sinus infections but I'm glad I did because the doctor said, no you can't wait this out. You need antibiotics. And sure enough after a couple days on the Z pack I started to feel better.

Now the antibiotic aftermath!

Between Thanksgiving leftovers and the antibiotics, I felt, for lack of a better word, polluted. And miraculously a book came in the mail.

 It's The Shred Power Cleanse, the latest book by Dr. Ian K. Smith, one of my favorite TV docs. It's not a "get slim quick" diet -- it's a way to reboot your system with super clean, primarily plant-based foods. And, yes, there are LOADS of similar plans out there, but this one focuses on nutrient-packed smoothies, something that I absolutely love, and they don't taste disgusting like other plans I've tried. 

The cornerstone of the plan is his Purple Power Detox Smoothie. There are lots of smoothie recipes in the book, which comes out Dec. 29, but you drink (or eat) this one at least once a day. And while you're waiting for the book to come out, here's the recipe:

Purple Power Detox Smoothie Recipe

1 cup cold-pressed apple juice (sub fresh if available)
1 cup frozen blueberries (fresh can be used, but if so, use 1 cup ice cubes to make smoothie immediately cold)
1 cup red Anjou pear (peeled, cored and sliced)
½ cup low-fat strawberry or plain yogurt
½ cup frozen sliced strawberries (substitute fresh if preferred)
½ cup loosely packed curly kale (stems removed)
2 tablespoons unfiltered organic flaxseed oil
Juice of ½ large lemon
Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

This recipe makes 2 servings. Drink half and freeze the remainder for the next day.

Nutritional Information Per Single 12oz Serving:
300 cal., 15g fat, 2g sat. fat, 43g carb., 3g protein, 42mg sodium, 32g sugar, 6g fiber.

I'm only on day 4 of this plan, but my digestive system is feeling better. 

Sure, you can wait until New Year's Day to turn things around but seeing how crappy I was feeling, I decided that NOW is the perfect time.

Smoothie packThe plan is basically three smoothies a day, plus two snacks and either a big salad or a plate of roasted vegetables. Basically, it's loaded with nutrients and fiber, and it's easy on the digestive system. And so far every smoothie has been fantastic. I had a green smoothie made with mango, one that features peanut butter, and lots of the purple one. As far as "eating" your smoothies, if you want to work your jaws more, you can deconstruct your smoothie and simply eat the main ingredients.

Since it's all smoothies all the time up in here, I made some smoothie freezer packs with the non-liquid ingredients. That way I can whip out a bag and dump it in the blender with the liquid ingredients. Another plus is that each recipe makes two servings so I can stick a finished smoothie in the freezer and thaw it overnight in the fridge so it's ready to go the next day.

Exercise is also an integral part of the plan and I headed back to the gym on Monday after nearly two weeks of sick time. I switched things around and am focusing on cardio with strength training as "dessert."

The Thanksgiving leftovers were healthy and my kid took care of the excess desserts, but still there was more festive food sitting around than usual and portion control was a little out the window.

I'm hoping this straightens out my head and my gut and leads me back on a cleaner path.


A super simple, super blueberry smoothie

Blueberry smoothie white labeled
Wyman's sent me a coupon to purchase berries for this post. No other compensation was given.

I think I've made it abundantly clear that I LOVE smoothies -- I love making them, drinking them, dreaming up new flavor combinations. So when Wyman's wanted to know if I could come up with a recipe using their frozen berries, I said "of course!" I buy a bag of Wyman's blueberries pretty much every week. The big difference with their frozen blueberries is that they're wild berries, so they're much smaller and sweeter than other frozen blueberries. Bottom line -- they just taste better.

They're also easy to find. Publix carries the smaller bags of blueberries, and you can find bigger bags at Whole Foods, and even bigger bags at Costco.

Blueberry smoothie marbleI wanted to show off the blueberries so for this recipe I didn't mess around. Everything is blueberry -- from the yogurt to the liquid to, well, the blueberries. If I could have found blueberry protein powder I would have used that as well.

Many fruity smoothies are just a big load of sugary carbs but not this one. There's 12 grams of protein from the Greek yogurt and another 20 or so from the protein powder, so it's a substantial meal replacement. All that awesomeness and only 300 calories!

Deep Purple Blueberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup Wyman's frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Bai5 Brasilia Blueberry beverage
  • 1 5 ounce container blueberry nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (I used Twinlab Cleanseries whey)

Add all ingredients to a single-serve blender container and blend. 

Done!


Stuff I Love: Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix

Carrot pumpkin flapjacked waffles
Do your waffles have 20 grams of protein? Hmmf. Didn't think so.


I thought I'd kick off a new category today -- Stuff I Love. Most of the time it'll be things that are regulars in my kitchen, gym bag or closet. Sometimes they may be sponsored posts but I'll make sure to label those. This week is not sponsored because I've been buying the stuff for quite awhile now. 

I'm sure you've seen plenty of recipes for protein pancakes. Many are simply things like egg whites, mashed bananas and protein powder, and many are (sorry!) pretty gross.

FlapjackedI first discovered Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix on a smoothie run at Smoothie King. They sold the 12-ounce bags at the store but I figured I'd Google around and find the best deal on it, which I actually found at the Flapjacked website (they have great sales). Amazon also has really good prices, too, if you do a Subscribe & Save deal. (Pro tip: You can schedule those subscriptions as far apart as every 6 months, so it really does pay to sign up.)

Instead of dipping my toe in the Flapjacked pool, I jumped in head first by buying a sampler pack of all the flavors -- Cinnamon Apple, Buttermilk, Banana Hazelnut, and the newest, Carrot Spice. I started out simply making pancakes but quickly found that you can make a lot more great baked goods with the mix, including waffles, muffins and quick breads.

The line has recently been reformulated and now every flavor has 20 grams of protein per 200-calorie serving. You also get 5 grams of fiber. The mixes are low in sugar, non-GMO and wheat free. 

Still working off my dozen cans of pumpkin that I bought at a Whole Foods moving sale, I added some to the Pumpkin Spice mix and came up with some fantastic waffles.

Carrot-Pumpkin Protein Waffles

  • 1 cup Carrot Spice Flapjacked pancake mix
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons currants or raisins

Mix everything together (mixture will be pretty thick) and let it thicken even more while your waffle iron heats up. I cooked the waffles just a touch longer than regular waffles because they're really substantial.

Makes 2 servings of 2 waffles each.

 


Vegan Green Tea Chai Smoothie

Green tea chai smoothie labeled

I never thought I'd become a plant-based protein powder convert, but I've been making and ordering vegan smoothies since early in the year and I love 'em. My dietitian had me switch because plant-based protein powders are easier to digest, and since we were "detoxing" so to speak, it is dairy free. 

There are a few brands I've been buying regularly, and one of them is Nutrition53's Vegan1 smoothie mix. It gives you 20 grams of plant-based protein from peas, potatoes, and chlorella, but it's more than just a protein powder, as it has 10 fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, and apricots, as well as 22 vitamins and minerals, 7 grams of dietary fiber, probiotics, and enzymes. It does have 6 grams of sugar from organic cane sugar and it's not gritty or "pea soupy" at all.

Nutrition53 sent me a sampler package with all the Vegan1 flavors, which was great because until now I've only tried the vanilla. In addition to vanilla, there's chocolate, banana and chai.

It's one of the few protein powders that can make a decent smoothie with just water, but I pretty much never do that. 

Here's a smoothie that I've been enjoying the past few mornings. I had gotten some Aiya Matcha to Go green tea packets that are great for adding to smoothies, and the combination of matcha and chai is so perfectly Zen for the morning. You can use whatever milk substitute floats your boat -- I used unsweetened coconut milk, which made the smoothie extra creamy.

Green Tea Chai Smoothie

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or your favorite "alt milk")
  • 1 packet Nutrition53 Vegan1 Chai protein shake mix (or 2 scoops if you buy it in the big container)
  • 1 packet Aiya Matcha to Go (or 4 grams of matcha green tea powder)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Blend and enjoy!

Nutrition53 sent me a variety of smoothie mixes. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own and delicious.

 


More almond joys from Blue Diamond: New smoothie and mini nachos

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Blue Diamond Nut Thins.

Peach mango breeze smoothie

So I was all set to do a Whole30 challenge this month but at the last minute I dropped out. I'm sorry, I just can't give up smoothies! Or a little organic half and half in my coffee. Or beans. Or quinoa. 

That said, the new Whole30 book is gorgeous and full of lovely recipes that I will try. But I've cleaned up my diet so much over the past few months and right now I'm not about restriction and a diet mentality. 

So!

Here are a couple of recipes I whipped up with Blue Diamond products. I'm a Blue Diamond Tastmaker, and the company sends me products to try and write about and lately they've been really generous with products so I'm going to double up on the reviews today.

First up is that smoothie up there, which uses Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk. The milk is sweetened with a blend of honey and sugar and has the same calories as regular vanilla almond milk. It's great if you want your almond milk  to have a little added sweetness -- it's great in an iced vanilla almond latte. 

I used it in this nutritionally packed smoothie, which I just enjoyed this morning. It's full of protein, fiber and will keep you humming throughout the day.  The ginger and cinnamon are metabolism boosters, make your tummy happy and the cinnamon keeps your blood sugar stable.

I made mine in my Nutri Ninja blender cup so add the ingredients in the order listed for best results. If you're using a regular blender, flip the order of the ingredients. 

Peach Mango Breeze Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 70g frozen peaches
  • 70g frozen mango chunks
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon oats
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoons hemp or flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Hint of Honey vanilla almond milk

Add ingredients to blender cup or blender, process and enjoy!

Blue diamond mini nachosThis second recipe is what I call "stupid easy." 

I was sent some Blue Diamond Nut Thins crackers, which are rice crackers infused with almonds. They're gluten free, crisp and a great blank canvas for any dip or snack.

As you can see from the photo, this was a late-night snack. I'm getting much better at my late-night snacking and this is one way I'm working on it. Instead of indiscriminately grazing, I busy myself making a little creation, which is far more satisfying than a handful of cereal.

I call these Mini Nutty Nachos and they're simply a dollop of refried black beans topped with a dollop of chunky salsa on a Nut Thin. That's it! Of course, you can switch up the refried beans, toss on some cheese, perhaps a pickled jalapeno -- make it yours.

The crackers are great for toppings because they don't get soggy and won't crack under pressure. 


A nutty apple pie smoothie

Nutty apple pie smoothie labeled
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Right now I am all about the smoothie.

(OK, I've always been all about the smoothie.)

I started going to a dietitian a couple months ago, and she initially had me using smoothies for two of my three meals a day, which is totally fine with me because I love smoothies.

But when you make all those smoothies you need to switch things up – and not just for boredom. My dietitian (Meryl Brandwein, RD) suggests that you switch up the ingredients at each meal to get a variety of nutrients. If you’re using hemp seeds at breakfast, use flax seeds at lunch. Blueberries for breakfast? Peaches at lunch – you get the drift.

After I exhausted the variety of frozen fruit at the grocery store, I spied a can of apples on the closeout shelf (I love the closeout shelf!). Specifically, it was a can of Comstock sliced apples packed in water, and yes, they’re pretty darn bland. But here’s what I did – I drained the can and spread the apple slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. After a few hours, I put the frozen apple slices in a plastic bag and had another fruit to play with for smoothies.

I also had another “alt milk” to play with when Blue Diamond sent me its unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze. Unsweetened milks aren’t great for drinking straight up but they’re fabulous for smoothies because you’re also putting lots of other ingredients in the mix. The combination of coconut and almond is a creamy, slightly coconutty milk that goes with pretty much anything you dream up for your next smoothie.

Since I had my frozen apples, I came up with an apple pie-inspired smoothie that was a welcome change from my usual.

Nutty Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 1 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze
  • 1 scoop vanilla or cinnamon protein powder (I used Perfect Fit Cinnamon Roll protein by Tone It Up)
  • 140g frozen apple slices
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ cup crushed ice

Blend and enjoy!


A Ginger-Peach Smoothie to perk up your day

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. Almond Breeze sent me product to use for this post. All opinions are my own (and delicious).

Ginger peach smoothie

UnsweetenedVanillaAlmondBreezeI love it when a product that I love and use regularly lands on my doorstep. I'm kind of picky when it comes to reviews because I say "no" more than "yes." But when I was asked to come up with a smoothie recipe that uses Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, I was all "Duh! Of course!" Not only do I use it regularly, I'm really relying on it for this 2-week dietitian-prescribed eating plan that calls for two smoothies a day. Unsweetened almond milk is one of the nut milks that is on the list, so it was super easy to come up with a recipe.

I had this for lunch on Monday, after I got home from the gym. I had just bought a whole bunch of different frozen fruits because I was tiring of blueberry smoothies. Frozen peaches are less sweet than a lot of frozen fruits, so I added a packet of stevia. I also added some fresh ginger, which pairs beautifully with peaches. You can use whatever protein powder floats your boat -- usually I use whey protein but I'm using the pea protein powder that's part of the plan. The ginger adequately hides the beany flavor of the protein powder. Depending on the protein powder, this smoothie is around 225 calories with plenty of protein and fiber.

Ginger-Peach Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze
  • 1 serving (140g) frozen peach slices
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1 serving protein powder of choice
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a single-serve blender cup, process and enjoy!


Asian Chicken-Almond Meatballs

I'm a Blue Diamond Tastemaker and was compensated with the almonds for this recipe.

Asian chicken almond meatballs
Do you know how difficult it is to keep a couple cans of Blue Diamond almonds around the house when asked to come up with a game-day snack idea?

Blue Diamond sent me their Smokehouse and Wasabi-Soy flavors, and before I had a chance to dream, they disappeared.

Cvs abound rice crackersSo armed with more supplies, I came up with these meatballs that use the Wasabi-Soy mixed in with the ground chicken. You get a hint of the flavor and a nutty texture in the meatballs, which sit on an Asian rice cracker. (CVS's new Abound line of healthier snacks has some great flavors of rice crackers -- I'm a big fan of the Lime & Black Pepper rice crackers but I used the sea salt variety for this dish.)

Serve the rest of the almonds with the meatballs -- a bite of the meatball with an almond heightens the flavor. As for those Smokehouse almonds, set that can down in front of the TV and they'll disappear by halftime.

Asian Chicken-Almond Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 ounces Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
  • Couple dashes of Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine chicken, almonds, rice, egg whites, minced onion and 5-spice powder in a large bowl.

With wet fingertips, form mixture into 32 small meatballs and place on large cookie sheet either sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with nonstick foil.

Bake meatballs for 15-18 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Sprinkle meatballs with the tablespoon of soy sauce, and place each meatball on a rice cracker.

Makes 16 servings (2 meatballs and 2 crackers per serving): 95 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram sat fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 grams fiber, 7 grams protein.

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more recipes, check out my recipe archive or check out Shrinking Kitchen, where I contribute original recipes every other week!


Making chili like a Ninja

Chicken black bean chili labeled
Is it chilly where you live? Here in Humidityville, the daily highs are still up near 90, so, just to let you know, I am TOTALLY JEALOUS of all you sweater wearers getting to run and walk outdoors and not coming back purple faced and drenched in sweat.

Speaking of chilly, I thought it was finally a good time to share with you my go-to chili recipe. I can't believe I haven't posted this because I make it all the time -- even when it's 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.

I consider this recipe to be a "living document" in that you can sub in whatever kind of ground meat you have on hand. I've made this with turkey, chicken and buffalo. I wasn't fond of the recipe with ground beef because it came out a little greasy, especially when I don't brown the meat first (yeah, sometimes I'm lazy like that; it's just dump and run). 

You also can switch it up with the vegetables. I usually use onions and a variety of bell peppers but chopped mushrooms work great, too, especially chopped portobellos.

Oh, and the beans! Black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans -- all of them work well in this. (Pinto beans don't -- just sayin'.) 

And you can make this a few different ways. I've made this in a pressure cooker, in a big skillet, a slow cooker, or my favorite way -- in a Ninja Cooking System. Depending on what I've got going on, I can either make chili in "real time" or use the slow cooker setting and let it cook all day. What I like about the Ninja is that I can brown the meat on the stovetop setting to give it a richer flavor and color. 

(I've had the Ninja cooker since the beginning of the year and I've made a bunch of things in it, from chili to chicken wings to a whole chicken. I haven't tried baking in it yet but I've heard that baked goods come out really moist.) 

This recipe makes 6 big servings, which you can eat on its own or over a baked potato, which is my favorite way of repurposing the leftovers. That way you can use a half serving over the potato and really stretch the recipe.

When it comes to the canned goods, I try and stick with sodium free or reduced sodium beans and tomatoes to keep the overall sodium count down. This is still a little high so if you're watching your salt, make sure you compensate by making lower sodium choices the rest of the day.

Chicken Black Bean Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder (if you're not using Mexene, you're not living)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teapoons garlic salt (Lawry's is my fave)
  • 1 15.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15.5-ounce can salt-free fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 15.5 cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons shredded 2% Cheddar cheese

Chili cooking in the ninjaHeat the olive oil over medium-high heat in your Ninja or in a large skillet (at least 12 inches). Add ground chicken, onions and peppers and saute until chicken is slightly browned and the vegetables are tender. Add chili powder, spices and garlic salt and combine. 

Add in tomatoes and beans and, if using a skillet, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for at least 30 minutes. If using a Ninja, switch to the slow cooker setting and cook on the low setting for 6 hours. 

When done, top each serving with a tablespoon of shredded Cheddar.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: 384 calories, 13g fat, 3g saturated fat, 941g sodium, 46g carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 10g sugars, 27g protein.


Back-to-school lunch ideas

Babybel sent me a Snack a Little Bigger Back-to-School kit to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I had never attended BlogHer Food before, but this past summer it was practically in my backyard so I jumped at the chance to volunteer at the conference. The sponsors and expo had lots of my favorite food peeps in attendance -- Jamba Juice, Applegate, McCormick, Aldi, Wyman's, Pompeian, among many. Babybel was also at the expo, and I love their brand because it's real cheese in single-serve portions.

Everything is a single-serve container to me. A little, red wax-wrapped cheese, a 100-calorie pack of almonds, a pint of ice cream ... yeah ... I need to keep the single servings small. As long as the single serves are individually wrapped, I totally stop at one. Great for Babybel, bad for ice cream.

Babybel sent me a Snack a Little Bigger Back-to School Kit that included samples of Mini Babybel flavors, a copy of Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord, a Visa gift card to buy lunch supplies and a really cool collapsable lunch box (I found a similar one on Amazon).

In keeping with the Snack a Little Bigger them, I came up with a snacky lunch, which is actually my lunch. My teenager brought his lunch all last year but this year he's giving the cafeteria a try again. I like the idea of boxing up my food, even though I work at home and my lunch technically doesn't need to be packed. But then again, single-serve and all.

Babybel lunch box

I have a peanut butter and raisin sandwich on whole wheat bread, which is a more interesting version of a PB&J. Just a sprinkling of raisins gives the sandwich sweetness and texture and fewer sugary calories than jam. Banana slices are also a great addition, too. A Babybel Gouda (because I'm fancy) goes in the upper left with some carrot sticks, and my fave new thing is in the bottom left -- homemade dried fruit. 

I got a food dehydrator last month, because I was channel surfing and stopped on HSN where I watched the presentation and thought "OHMYGODWHYDON'TIHAVETHIS." But instead of the usual dried apples and strawberries, I got tropical and dehydrated starfruit and kiwi. Those two would be great for older kids who like sweet-and-sour things. The starfruit and kiwi came out great and are great together. 

I'm not a big fan of making elaborate sandwich animal faces or overly involved creations. I don't know if all that work is truly appreciated, and I'd rather the food just be really tasty and healthy with a little fun thrown in.

Some other lunch additions that are great for kids as well as mom and dad:

 

  • Spread some peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla, stick a peeled banana on one end, roll it up and slice into small sections for a fun PB and banana rollup.
  • Instead of a bag of chips, throw in a bag of popcorn. Boom Chicka Pop sells big boxes of single-serve bags at Costco in sea salt or kettlecorn flavors for either 90 or 140 calories each.
  • Use guacamole or hummus as a sandwich spread instead of the usual mayo or mustard. And speaking of that, here's a recipe for Avocado Hummus from Weelicious Lunches that combines the best of guac and hummus:

 

Weelicious-LunchesAvocado Hummus

(from Weelicious Lunches, by Catherine McCord)

 

  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini

 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. The dip will keep for 4 days in the fridge.