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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Work snacking healthy and simple

Looking for some nutritious snacks at work without all the prep time?  There are just some days we all don’t even have time to use the restroom, so why would we have time to go out to lunch let alone prepare lunch the night before?  The alternative then becomes the processed, sodium packed foods you find in your frozen food aisle at the grocery store, salad bar at work or the nearest food emporium.  This can not only become expensive but it tends to typically contain hidden calories and fat even though you think you are eating healthy!

The other option is taking time to meal prep on Sunday or the night prior.  Now I’m a huge proponent and love to prep, but with life, work, families and etc. it sometimes becomes an impossible feat.  Most of us are not in the business of body building and have many other priorities so it becomes this monster of a task to have healthy prepared meals in advance.  Now in the absence of having prepared meals, you start to snack and if you were any where like I do, the snacks are NOT healthy!

I’m here to help make this easy and take out the guess work and added stress.  I’ve had numerous creative trials with my office snacks & lunches and as long as you have a few simple ingredients it takes 2 minutes to create something delicious and nutritious.

Things to pack for this easy snack.

  1. Plain Greek Yogurt.  I prefer Fage or Siggi’s plain because they are low in sugar (<5g) and high in protein (15-17g) per 150g container (or individual size).
  2. Granola.  Whether it’s prepared or homemade the secret is to look for natural granola without the sugar.  My gauge is typically to search for granola with 10g of sugar or less, which is hard to find!
  3. Fresh Fruit.  Always have some on hand to add to any smoothie or bowl.  Berries and bananas are a staple for me because they are easy to add.  While traveling a banana and apple work great.
  4. Protein Powder.  No matter where I am, its always on me.  Either opt for a small container or the single serve pouches are great for carrying in your purse, suitcase, cupboard, laptop bag for work and etc.  Never leave home without it.  I prefer plant based options like Plant Fusion, SunWarrior, VegaOne, Garden of Life and many more.
  5. Superfoods.  I buy bulk hemp seeds, dried goji berries, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina and more to have on hand at all times.  These can be easily added to any smoothie or bowl and are easy to take in small plastic containers or ziploc bags.  There are many health food stores that also sell individual pouches of these items as well.

Directions:

  • Mix a scoop of the protein powder(or 1 serving size) with the greek yogurt (1 serving size).  Once you have formed a good mixture that is evening mixed you are ready to add the toppings.
  • Chop up 1/2 banana and lay the slices on the mixture
  • Add your fresh or dried fuit
  • Add 1-2 tbsp of granola

Sprinkle with your superfoods and you are ready to enjoy a tasty protein packed snack!

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Strawberry protein powder + greek yogurt 2 tbsp Goji berries 1/2 Banana 1/2 tbsp chia/hemp seeds 1 tbsp granola

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Let me know your thoughts on what you like to see posted!  I’m no journalism major by any counts but I love sharing healthy recipes, workouts, and just inspiring in any other way I can to help YOU lead a healthy life.

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:)

 

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!