Health Food on a budget challenge Week 1

I decided to challenge myself to actually track how much I spend on groceries.  I love seeing how creative I can get with the groceries I just purchased for the week combined with what I already have in my cabinets.  Now I have pretty basic ingredients to start but if you don’t know what I mean by basics you will start to learn if you follow along throughout this challenge.

I always like to purchase groceries for my fiancé and I and plan meals for the week.  We give ourselves a weekly budget but let’s be serious, we never stick to that budget.  Of all places we live in New York City with the best of the best restaurants, happy hours and a very packed social and work calendars.  Some weeks eating at home can be challenging but to hold ourselves to this challenge we removed our wine budget, yes we have a wine budget, and challenged ourselves to really stick to what we purchased this week.  Here’s a log of what was purchased to be prepared at work for lunch, including total cost, and a breakdown of what I ate today.

Lunches

Every Monday I walk to Whole Foods at lunch and get a few groceries for the week.  I’m usually pretty good about sticking to what I purchase but usually 1 or two days I’ll opt to go get sushi, a bowl or something else that sounds more appealing that day.  Here’s an image and long of what I purchased for $62.58.

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Here’s the full list of food purchased:

Ezekiel Bread

Unsweetened Almond Milk

2 mangos

2 avocados

3 small bananas

2 pink grapefruit

.84lb lemon dill tuna salad (no dairy)

1 jar organic almond butter (no sweetener, just almonds)

12 oz raw organic pressed beet juice

2 wallaby 0% plain Greek yogurt

12 oz vegan carrot ginger soup

Engine 2 Tuscan White Bean Burger

Monday, April 4th Log

Wake up 6:15 – Hot water with 1/2 sliced lemon to start every day

Breakfast 10AM (not standard. Case of the Mondays = no workout and late arrival to work) – Juicy Cube fresh juice 12 oz Detox Expert (carrots, spinach, cucumber, ginger, apple, parsley)

Lunch 12:30pm – 1/3 cup lemon dill tuna salad + vegan carrot ginger soup 12oz + small homemade falafel brought in by colleague at work topped with tsp tahini.  I drink water with lunch but have my kombucha after to serve as my probiotic which is key in my diet.

snack 3:30 – 1/2 grapefruit + 1 tbsp almond butter drizzled on 1 sliced banana

*dinner 7:30 – baked sole & zucchini noodles

Tonight my fiancé and I were craving sweets so I had a ton of frozen bananas and made nice cream with what I had in the cabinets(cashew butter, cinnamon, coconut milk, coconut flakes & cacao nibs) Now these kitchen ingredients are not standard but I’m not normal so they are for me and I typically have a variety of foods like this hanging around:)

I also drink a ton of water all throughout the day.  Key to keep hunger at bay and maintaining or losing weight.

That’s about all I can write this evening because I’m just exhausted and need to get up early.   However, tomorrow I’ll share my dinner pics and groceries purchased from Fresh Direct and log my daily meals from that order.

 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Experimenting today with the ripened bananas I have left in my kitchen and decided to experiment with a few different ingredients to see how delectable and nutritious I could make these little muffins.  Given I had a craving for chocolate today, I decided to spice up the typical banana muffins and add in some more flare and protein.

These guys came out quite delicious and was a fairly quick and simple baking process with no more than 15-20 min prep time and 15-20 min baking time.  I decided to add protein because I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet.  These were the perfect delivery method for a grab and go breakfast or snack.

I first mashed the bananas and started mixing and whipping the liquid ingredients.  Second, I added the dry ingredients of coconut flour, oat flour, plant protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, hemp seeds and mixed it till the mixture was very thick and smooth. I ended up adding some coconut milk to the mixture to keep the consistency moist for pouring into the muffin tins.

After mixing very well I added about a cup of chocolate chips to the mixture. Depending on your love for chocolate or your craving for the day,  you can add more or less but I prefer to have a multitude of chips in my cookies and muffins!

Makes approx 12 medium-large muffins.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line your muffin tin and set aside

In medium mixing bowl, mash your bananas and add in your honey, vanilla, coconut oil, applesauce, eggs, coconut milk and almond butter.

Mix in your coconut flour, baking soda and oat flour and allow to sit for 2 minutes to thicken up. The mix will look runny at first but as the coconut flour absorbs the liquid the consistency will become more like a cake batter. 

Add in the chocolate chips and mix so the chips are evenly distributed.

Pour your combined mixture into your muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins start to rise and the top wills start to develop a golden brown color.  The muffins should be dense and fully cooked at this point.  You may want to do the fork test to ensure the muffins are cooked all the way through.  

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

Ingredients:

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 -3 ripened bananas
  • 3 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 scoop of plant protein (I used plant fusion)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Here’s the end result!

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I hope you all enjoy!!

 

 

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

After a pumpkin craving struck I decided to take action and bake this weekend.  Just the smell of baked goods in the oven is enough to make you want to snuggle up on the couch with a fluffy faux fur blanket, sip on some ginger tea and indulge in delicious baked goods. When something tastes this good, it kinda feels like cheating but I call it, “clean cheating”.

Rather than add much dialog here I’ve outlined the recipe and ingredients below.  I also took some pics of the ingredients and the process along the way.  Don’t mind my photography skills as this are down and dirty shots intermittent with baking!  Hope you find these helpful!

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Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs (2 egg whites and 1 full egg)
  • 2 tbsp raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 scoops Plant Fusion Vanilla Plant Protein
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond or coconut milk

Mix all ingredients together – depending on how dense you want the muffins you can add more almond milk/coconut milk as desired.

Once all ingredients are blended spoon mix into muffin tin so its fills approx 3/4 of the way.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when put into a muffin.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with coconut sugar and almond butter topping(below).

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 tbsp well mixed organic raw almond butter

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Meatless Monday Lentils

I try to make an effort to post on a regular basis but I’m a bit lagging due to my busy schedule.  I have very long and full days starting with a 5am wake up for the gym, working all day and finding time to shop for groceries and cook can sometimes be a chore.  I really make an effort to ensure I eat clean on a daily basis and to do that it requires additional time and effort especially when I live in a city with so many great restaurants!  By the time I get home I don’t start prepping dinner until 7:30, which can make a very hungry boyfriend start to scavenge if I don’t work fast!  I say this because I am absolutely certain all of you deal with the same types of challenges everyday, which is why I started this blog.  Clean eating can sometimes be a chore, but it’s so worth it for your health, the health of your family and your wallet!

I decided to start with lentils because they are loaded with protein on a vegetarian dinner night and quite filling.  I wanted to use what seasonings and veggies I already had with an exception of a few extra items where I typically like to find inspiration at my local Chelsea market.   As I peruse the produce aisle I notice a bright pop of color coming from the beautiful peppers.  I was drawn to these very fall and festive looking vegetables and decided to pick up bright red and orange peppers and make stuffed peppers.  After grabbing a few more flavor boosters like garlic, onion and paprika its time to head back to my cooking haven to start dinner before the scavenger comes out.

Start by boiling the lentils, for those take by far the longest to prepare!  30-40 minutes is pretty typical to boil and simmer so the prep time can be painful when you are in a crunch.  To save yourself some time, try putting the lentils in the crockpot with the seasonings. You can use the below ingredients and cook them on low all day to get a nice pot of fully prepared lentils upon arrival.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup green lentils

3 cups water

2 Cloves fresh garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp basil or small handful of fresh chopped basil

1 tsp paprika

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1-2 tsp cracked pepper

1-2 tsp salt

2-3 large peppers in bright colors

1/3 cup goat cheese

Start by preparing your pan with the garlic and olive oil.  Try to crack open your garlic clove and chop into into fine pieces.  Let the olive oil and garlic start to coat the pan to prepare to add the lentils.  Bring the lentils to a good boil and begin adding the remaining ingredients one by one as the lentils are boiling.   After all ingredients have been added and lentils are boiling, bring the lentils to medium and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, while stirring and watching for the water to dissolve into the lentils.  Keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time until lentils are soft.  For a little added creamy texture, try adding almond milk.  It really brings out the flavor and adds a nice creamy consistency(right).

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While lentils are finishing up, prepare the peppers by cutting in half and removing the core and seeds.  Clean them out so there is a nice opening to lay out the lentils evenly.  Place the half’s in at least a 1-2″ deep pan and drizzle some of the above seasoning and/or olive oil. For some added flavor, crumble goat cheese to the bottom of the peppers.  Once the lentils are soft, add them to the peppers and top with goat cheese.

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Place in oven on 350 and heat for approx 10-15 minutes or until peppers are browned at the edges and starting to soften.  Below is a picture of my final product:)

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Why is breakfast to important??

We hear it time and time again from scrolling through our social media feed, numerous studies published on the benefits of breakfast on our health to memories of mom saying as a kid why we HAD to eat our breakfast before we left for school.

Why does breakfast get all of this hype? Why do the breakfast freaks swear by this and non breakfast eaters can’t imagine downing a bowl of oatmeal to save their lives.  Its an endless debate and I believe if anyone attempts to incorporate a healthy breakfast into a daily routine for 2 weeks, you will see for yourself why this magical meal is the kickstart to your day.

Here are just a few benefits us breakfast lovers enjoy on a daily basis.

1.) Energy Boost.  According to studies published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, consuming a breakfast high in fiber and low in carbohydrates will make you feel less tired during the day.”

2.) Eating breakfast helps you jumpstart your metabolism and burn more calories. “The key: eating a breakfast that’s high in Resistant Starch (RS). Found in foods like bananas and oats, RS actually signals your body to use fat for energy.” Shaun Chavis, Health Magazine

3.) Improves Concentration. In one study, Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, has found yet another benefit of eating an early morning meal: higher IQ scores.  Eating a well balanced breakfast–such as eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit–keeps “blood sugar levels steady and allows optimal cognitive function throughout the day.”

4.) Improves overall health. For example, Harvard conducted a 16-year study of 26,902 American men aged 45 to 82 and found that those “who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of CHD compared with men who did not.  There are numerous studies on the overall improved heath benefits in relationship with eating a well balanced breakfast.

5.) Improves your memory. There was also a study released in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior that discovered that eating breakfast, such as oatmeal, improved the spatial and short-term memories of elementary school children.

Here are some examples of a well balanced, healthy breakfast that you can start incorporating into your daily regimen.  It takes planning and preparation to eat clean and the saying goes…”if you fail you plan you plan to fail” so start planning!  Cheers to a healthy day!

At home or at work staple: 1/2 grapefruit + 1 slice Ezekiel bread + 1 tbsp raw almond butter + 1/4 sliced banana
Awesome post workout fuel when you are starving! 1 slice Ezekiel bread topped with 2 egg whites + 1 slice of Ezekiel bread with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1/4 banana sliced on top.
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Quick and easy high protein breakfast. 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (no sugar) topped with raw granola (as clean as possible with low sugar), fresh raspberries, 1/4 sliced banana and drizzle with raw honey for added flavor if needed.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

I work in a beauty office where everyone is constantly on diets.  Whether it’s trying to cut out sugar, count calories, remove carbs or whatever the latest fad I try to keep my colleagues excited about eating HEALTHY food.  By doing so, I have them focus less on what they shouldn’t eat and more of what they SHOULD eat.  Healthy, raw food does taste good you just have to learn how to make it work for you.

Today I made raw vegan chocolate mousse parfaits for everyone and made one batch with a natural sweetener(honey or agave) and one without.  Working within the constraints of no sugar, yes not even a natural sweetener like honey or agave, I was able to make it work.  As it turns out the non sugar crew, along with the sweetener crew, LOVED the mousse.  So much in fact they commented it was not only satisfying but tasted great and was extremely filling.  Below is a pic of some of the parfaits I made for my office crew along with the recipe.

Happy mousse making!

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Unsweetened Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

Makes about 5-6 parfaits:

2-2.5 frozen bananas

1 refrigerated avocado

1/4-1/3 cup raw unsweetened organic cacao powder (add more if you want to make darker)

1/4 cup raw almond butter

1/2 cup almond milk (add more if texture is too thick to mix)

Mix in a food processor or NutriBullet until smooth

Topping:

Top with 1/2 banana sliced into 5-6 pieces

Sprinkle Raw organic cacao nibs

Sprinkle Raw unsweetened coconut flakes

Drizzle with raw organic almond butter

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers

After months of hiatus and a crazed schedule I’m back at it!  The time was well spent getting both a SUP yoga and 200 RYT yoga certification, however I’ve missed my favorite hobby of all, cooking!  I love creating new and healthy recipes.  We are all rushed for time and the last thing we have time to do is think of meals, let alone prep them.  I always try to come up with ideas that I can make quickly and save for meals throughout the week.  I decided to start with a meatless dish since that’s what I primarily eat.  I needed something high protein, gluten-free and easy to make and heat up for later meals.  I think I found a winner!  These sweet potato lentil burgers are awesome!  Albeit not extremely dense, they are delicious!  I’ve been eating them on my salads and they give me all the macronutrients I need in my meal.

Ingredients: (makes approx 8 patties)

1 sweet potato (chopped into 1/2 chunks)

1 cup of green dry lentils (should be rinsed)

1/4 cup of chopped onion

2-3 cups of water

1/2 low sodium vegetable bullion cube

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp pepper

1 chopped garlic clove + 1 tsp of garlic salt or 2 garlic cloves if you like garlic

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut water (optional)

1/3 cup quinoa flour

2 tbsp saffron oil (high heat oil, however olive or coconut oil works as well)

 

Directions:

Bring lentils to boil with water, bullion and coconut oil and cover and simmer 25-30 min till soft.  Drain and add to bowl.  Bring sweet potatoes to a boil until soft.  Takes approx 10 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes to lentils along with the onion and all spices.  Begin mixing with electric mixer or put into food processor.  Add coconut milk(approx 1/2 cup) until mixture moistens but is still sticking and dense.  Mixture should look something like the picture below.

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To ensure these are dense enough to saute’ in a pan you will want to add flour.  I used gluten-free quinoa flour.  Now you are ready to make patties!  Form into whatever size you want, however this mixture made 8 patties for me which will last a while!  Once you have prepped into patties coat in quinoa flour again to ensure they stay patties when placed into the pan.  Saute’ both sides evenly until browned or blackened if you prefer.  The patties will still be soft but should be fine to place in a cooling spot.  Let them set for at least 5-10 minutes to cool down and harden.

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Now you are ready to enjoy!  I served this with a leafy salad topped with my favorite condiment, lentil humus!

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Enjoy:)

 

Meal prep made easy for clean eating

We all know it takes time to plan, shop and prepare meals for the week.  Some of us are limited on time with families, extra curricular activities, work and other demands calling our undivided attention all week.  Let’s face it, we are ALL busy people!

The worst part about meal prep is that it’s a little painful in the front end but the beauty is that it creates a lot of extra time later in the week.  By having my breakfast, lunch and typically my dinners planned all week I never have to stress about meals.  I know I’m getting all my macronutrients, in the proper portions, no matter what situation I find myself in that day.  So with proper planning early on, your life becomes much easier throughout the remainder of the week.  It’s like anything in life, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Whether it’s business, your finances, your health or anything in life for that matter.  Planning makes all the difference.  You won’t regret the up front time it takes once you realize how it eases up your schedule later on.

I made this cold protein packed salad to pack for lunches to accompany my fish this week.  This total prep on this salad today was about 10 minutes because I already had the quinoa cooked and refrigerated.  When I make meals I make the large portions of the cooked ingredients so it saves on prep time and I can use in other ways.  I cooked this quinoa two days prior and sautéed in water with 1/2 of a vegetable bullion cube that contained 15g of sodium.  Great option to add taste without the added salt.  I added minced garlic and pepper for added taste.  After bringing it to a boil I sautéed it covered for about 10 min or until the majority if the water was absorbed.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad

I used the following ingredients and mixed everything in this large bowl above.

1 can low sodium organic black beans

1 can organic sweet corn

1 cubed cucumber

3 chopped Roma tomatoes

1 cup cooked quinoa (refrigerated)

2-3 tbsp Liquid Aminos (soy assume alternative with added nutrients and not all the added sodium)

Recipe above made 4 servings

The salad covers my macro nutrients in terms of complex carbs and some added protein.  I also wanted the additional protein so I added fish.  The only missing macro is my healthy fat.  Grab an avocado and you’re covered.  Generally I’d use 1/4-1/2 of the avocado with my meal, depending on the size of the avocado.

I baked 1 Ahi Tuna filet and 1 salmon (both wild caught and typically found in frozen foods)

Bake at 350 for approx 20-25 min.  For added flavor the below ingredients are a natural way to season.

1/2 fresh squeezed lemon

1-2 TSP fresh ground pepper

1-2 TSP garlic seasoning

Between the two filets I made 3 portions.  Paired with my salad I have a 3 fully prepared nutritious lunches for the remainder of the week!

 

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I hope you all enjoy!  Happy Prepping!

 

Travel food for thought

Whenever I travel I’m always prepared with the appropriate mix of my healthy macros. Macronutrients are a combination of protein, fats and carbs that perform essential roles in the body.  I eat very clean so try to avoid processed foods.  When traveling there are limited food options, most of which are generally processed.  Preparation is key!  Rather than get caught in a situation with limited options, I bring all the essentials such as nuts, berries, flax crackers, protein bars and protein powder.   I really like the nut mixes containing super foods such as mulberries, golden berries and goji berries to help keep up my energy.   I like to have healthy options and rather than having to stress about feeding myself every 2-3 hours I come prepared.  Again, can’t stress the importance of preparation.

The picture below is a collection of healthy food options that I picked up at a local health food store.

Travel snacks

For this trip I grabbed the following staples:
1.) Protein bars – (Square bars, Vega Sport bars and go Macro Protein bars). All are vegan, non-GMO, gluten free and as close to natural as you can get with no less than 10g of protein per bar.  Try to seek out the highest protein bars that contain natural ingredients.
2.) Nuts – I chose an energy mix containing all raw ingredients including: cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, mulberries & golden berries). I also grabbed a bag of raw almonds.
3.) Carbs – just so I have a good balance of carbs and protein I got these protein packed flax crackers with a savory flavor.
4.) Protein Powder- I chose Vega One and Vega sport to mix with water. Again this brand is plant based and as close to natural you can get with high protein. I also love Plant Fusion, RAW, Sunwarrior and hemp protein. If you’re on the road and can’t easily access a milk substitute like almond milk you want to choose one that mixes with water and TASTES GOOD:)
5.) WATER – I can’t say it enough but staying hydrated is key for your body. Flying dehydrates the body and skin so keep water on hand at all times and DRINK UP!

In airports or in flight you can typically get a fruit like a banana, apple or etc. I would pair this with my almonds or protein shake if I’m hungry. You can always bring an empty water bottle and fill at the airport. Most airports now have filtered water stations. Worst case you can always pick up a water at the airport. Also, you are traveling via train, automobile or boat you can always access fruit or water.

So next time you are traveling just remember to think ahead and prepare for a healthy trip. Hopefully you find these tips helpful! Happy Travels!