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No-Bake Gingerbread Cookie Bites

I’d been wanting to come up with a new holiday recipe (and I absolutely love dessert!), so when my friend, Brenda, suggested that I try the Gingerbread Larabar, I was inspired to make this recipe.

The first time I tried ginger, I wasn’t a fan, but over the years, I’ve grown to love it! It’s one of my favorite ingredients because it’s versatile, flavorful and full of some serious health-promoting benefits, including digestive support.

Gingerbread recipes take things one step further with the addition of the blackstrap molasses. Of all of the sweeteners out there, blackstrap molasses is one of the few that has some serious nutritional value.

organic-molassesEven though blackstrap molasses is a form of sugar, it has a better nutrient profile than its counterparts. Check out a few of the reasons why blackstrap molasses is an upgrade when you’re looking for something sweet:

It has a very distinct flavor, but in this recipe, I only use a little bit, and it brings everything together and adds a hint of the signature molasses flavor you’ve come to expect from gingerbread.

I’ve taste-tested these treats with coworkers, friends, and family, and everyone is on board, so I know you will love them! If you want to get fancy, you can roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and use little gingerbread cookie cutters to make shapes!gingerbread-person-bites-trio-bannergingerbread-bites-trio gingerbread-bites-closeup

No-Bake Gingerbread Cookie Bites

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cloves
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Directions

  1. Combine nuts, spices and salt in food processor until finely ground.
  2. Add dates, vanilla and molasses and process until everything starts sticking together.
  3. Form hunks of dough into 1-inch balls and roll or flatten to make cookies. Store in glass container in the fridge or freezer.
Pumpkin

8 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving {+ Dozens of Recipes!}

I have so many positive memories of Thanksgiving from growing up – the giant glazed donuts from Woodlea Bakery we got every year for breakfast, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and helping my mom peel apples for her signature three-apple pie.

We never did anything too extravagant, and it was usually just the five of us – my parents, me, and my brother and sister – but Thanksgiving was a special day in our house. Now that I’ve grown to love cooking so much, it’s become my second favorite holiday after Christmas. This year, I’ll be making this gluten-free stuffing, pecan-crusted sweet potato casserole, roasted garlic cauliflower mash, and these pumpkin cheesecake.

I wanted to offer up some helpful tips and tricks to support you on Thanksgiving Day. Most of the websites that give tips for Thanksgiving just tell you to use healthier versions of your favorite staples, avoid going back for seconds, and watch your alcohol consumption. While I agree that all of those recommendations are useful to some extent, I’m here to offer something different, something more inviting and life-giving.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! 🙂

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1) Be Present & Enjoy It

Thanksgiving is meant to be a time to come together with friends and family to celebrate the abundance and blessings in our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy pace most of us keep throughout the year. For at least this one day, we can choose to pause, reflect, and be present. Enjoy the day. Savor the meal.

Part of being present means being aware of our body. If you’re going to eat something, OWN IT. Notice how it smells, tastes, and feels. Notice the signals your body sends you. Are you really hungry or do you just want something to do? Your body will let you know when it is no longer hungry. Pay attention to it. Take a break. Save the leftovers.

2) Eat Breakfast

When we know we’re going to be eating a lot later in the day, many of us will skip breakfast or eat too little early in the day to “save up” for the afternoon. Instead of skipping breakfast, which will lead to overeating later, have a nourishing breakfast to start your day. Try one of these 25 breakfast recipes, like this pumpkin spice oatmeal or this quick and easy black bean scramble.

3) Upgrade Your Recipes

All of us have family favorites that aren’t likely to be replaced anytime soon, but I invite you to give a new side dish recipe a try. I put together a collection of nearly 30 nourishing, delicious, and upgraded Thanksgiving recipes in this blog post. You won’t want to miss the maple-roasted Brussels sprouts, shredded Brussels sprouts salad, pumpkin spice dip, pecan-crusted sweet potato casserole, or pumpkin cheesecake.

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Shredded Brussels sprouts salad with walnuts

4) Taste the Rainbow

Most Thanksgiving plates look pretty one-note with lots of browns and whites and a little bit of green or orange. Focus on filling your plate with as many colors as possible. This sweet potato casseroleshredded Brussels sprouts salad, and butternut squash and quinoa harvest salad will all add color to your plate!

The more colors you have, the more fiber is on your plate, the fuller you will feel, and the more nourished you will be. If you have kids, encourage them to count the colors on their plate and celebrate who gets the most.

5) Reallocate Your Plate to 50 / 25 / 25

That’s the ratio I recommend to “up” the nutrition of your plate. Half of the plate filled with vegetables (i.e., greens, salad, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) with some room for fruit, 25% protein (i.e., poultry, meat, seafood), and 25%  fiber-rich starch (i.e., sweet potatoes, squash, corn, grains). I’m a big advocate of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate below, which is a visual representation of the 50/25/25 ratio.

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6) Slow Down

I hear a lot of people (me being one of them!) say things like, “But you don’t understand, it’s just that I LOVE food.” It’s given as a reason why we eat so much. Here’s something to consider from author, Geneen Roth, one of my favorite writers and truth tellers:

When you love something, you spend time with it.

Boom.

Man, she is always so spot on.

If you really, truly love food, spend time with it; take time to connect with your food. Pause before you eat and offer gratitude for the farmers who grew it or raised it, the money you have to purchase it, and the hands that prepared it. So often we forget about the process our food goes through to get from the farm to our fork. If you want to cut down on discomfort later that day, slow down and chew your food thoroughly before taking the next bite. 

7) Take a Digestive Enzyme

If all else fails and you realize you’re not going to follow any of the steps above, give your digestive system some support and take a digestive enzyme. This is kind of like the last-ditch effort. I almost feel like I’m advocating for overeating by putting this one in here, but I also think it could help a lot of people. When we overeat, we put a lot of extra work on our digestive system and don’t have enough enzymes to break down the massive amounts of food we’re eating. Some of my favorite digestive enzyme brands are Rainbow Light, DigestGold, and Garden of Life. You can find them on Vitacost.com.

8) Move Your Body

Moving your body helps stimulate digestion and regulate your blood sugar – something that is usually out of whack due to the amount of food most of us eat on Thanksgiving. 

Start a new family tradition focused on movement. Take a walk Thanksgiving morning for at least 30 minutes and try to do the same after dinner. Find a Turkey Trot 5k in your area on Active.com. Or, if you’re in Baltimore, JOIN ME at Movement Lab for a 90-minute dance jam on Thursday morning at 10:00!

Some of Baltimore's Nia community with a few amazing Movement Lab instructors

Dancing with some of Baltimore’s Nia community with a few amazing Movement Lab instructors

Do you have any helpful tips to share to make Thanksgiving more nourishing for your body, mind and soul? Feel free to comment below!

flowers

Be Somebody’s Mary: The Kindness of a Stranger

We’re in a time of tension, emotions, and division in our country in a way that I’ve not yet experienced in my lifetime. In the midst of this time of uncertainty, it can be easy to fall into the mode of complaining and noticing what isn’t working, what we don’t like, why we’re angry.

All of this negativity makes it easy for us to lose sight of all the goodness in our lives. Yet, kindness continues to abound.

We just have to notice it.

What we focus on expands. If we want to be happier, we have to reflect on the things that bring us joy. If we want to be more selfless, we have to practice gratitude and appreciation regularly.

If we want there to be more kindness in the world, we should be the first ones looking for ways to put it there.

Videos like this one and this one, showing incredible acts of kindness are going viral on social media, a clear indication that we are hungry for hope that the world is still good and that people are still kind.

An act of kindness from a stranger prompted Daniel Lubetsky, the founder of KIND Snacks, to give his company its name. I’ll never forget hearing the story of how their name came to be. If you’re not familiar with it, check out this video. It’ll make you think differently every time you see a KIND bar. It’ll make you want to be kind.

(Oh, and if you’re not already following me on instagram, head on over and “like” my page because I’ll be doing a giveaway there from 11/21 through 11/23.)

The story I want to share today is about something that happened in my life that showed me just how kind and gracious people can be. I hope it uplifts you today.

I was en route to Madison, Wisconsin to go on a retreat with my nutritionist, who has been instrumental in my healing journey. We were on separate flights but due to arrive in Madison within minutes of each other.

The weather in Baltimore was stormy that night, and as I was boarding my connecting flight in Atlanta, she called me to tell me she missed her connection flight and wouldn’t make it to Madison until the following morning. I’d be on my own with transportation and the hotel room. When all was said and done, it was going to cost me upwards of $300 for the drive to and stay in the hotel for what would ultimately be less than eight hours. I couldn’t justify the expense, so I told her to cancel the reservation. “I’ll figure something out,” I assured her.

As I sat on the plane, racing against the clock and the “Please turn off your cell phones” announcement, I frantically searched for a reservation on AirBNB. But my cell phone battery was dying, and my charger was in my luggage overhead with nowhere to charge it. The AirBNB search wouldn’t go through due to a weak signal, so as my flight took off out of Atlanta, I headed to Madison unsure of where I would stay that night.

Once we landed at around 9:30 p.m. and were waiting to deplane, I turned my cell phone back on and saw that the battery was a 1%.  Oh, no. Not now. Please, not now.

I looked toward the back of the plane, searching for a friend I’d made in line in Baltimore. She was a fellow healthy foodie and had just returned from several months of backpacking in Europe. “Maybe I could find a way to stay with her,” I thought. But she was nowhere to be found. I was talking through my concerns with the guy sitting next to me on the plane, but he couldn’t be bothered and didn’t seem to care, so I was left feeling a bit alone and helpless.

“What am I going to do?” I thought.

As everyone was getting out of their seats and pulling down their luggage, a gentleman from a row back who had heard me talking about my situation asked if I’d figured out my lodging.

I couldn’t hold it back at that point and despite my best efforts, tears started slowly streaming down my face. “My phone is dead. I don’t know anyone in Madison. I don’t have a place to stay.”

He reached down to a woman sitting nearby and asked her for a tissue.

As she reached into her purse to hand me a tissue, she gently put her hand on my arm and said, “I have a spare bedroom, if you’d like to stay at my house tonight.”

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“Are you sure?” I asked, as I turned to face her, wiping the tears from my eyes. I tried to give her an out, not feeling confident that a complete stranger would want to help me: “But I have to be in downtown Madison early tomorrow morning.”

“It’s not a problem,” she assured me. “I’ll just drop you off before work.”

So, off I went to stay with a total stranger for the night, still feeling guilty for burdening her with my request.

We chatted the entire drive home. She told me about her husband, how they met and her love of traveling. As we pulled into her garage, I thanked her again for being so kind to me, and apologized for the inconvenience. She reassured me I wasn’t a burden and said she has a daughter close to my age and hoped that if she were in a similar situation, someone would do the same for her.

Mary’s cute little dog, Rosie, and her husband, John, came out to greet us. She informed her husband that they were going to have a visitor that night and then greeted him with a hug and kiss, “Happy Anniversary,” she said.

Oh geez, Rachel. Really? On their anniversary?

They assured me my presence was not a problem, and John greeted me warmly and invited me into their home. They offered me a drink, set me up in their guest bedroom, and had hot tea waiting for me in the morning.

Mary drove me to the retreat, as she mentally prepared herself for the conversation she was going to have at work that morning. It would be her first time telling an employee that he was being let go. She could have used more time and head space to focus on that, but instead, she went out of her way to take me to where I needed to go.

She dropped me off at the hotel, and in the midst of what was an incredibly windy day, stepped out of the car to take a picture with me. “Thank you for everything. I don’t know what I would have done without your help,” I told her.

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Me and my new friend, Mary

We’ve since stayed in touch via social media, and I will be forever grateful to her for her generosity and thoughtfulness that night and for her willingness to help a total stranger in need and show kindness to a fellow human being.

So, as we approach this week of thanksgiving, I invite you to pay attention.

Pay attention to kindness.

Share those posts. Share those videos. Share those stories.

And pay attention to people. Listen to what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. Notice what they might need. Where are you being pulled? What is your gut telling you?

Do they need a smile, a laugh, some money, food, a blanket, a kind word or maybe a hug? Be open to how you might be called to be a light to someone else, someone you might never expect.

In this season of thanksgiving and kindness, be somebody’s Mary.

pure-genius-chickpea-brownie

Pure Genius Brownies & Blondies: Upgrade Your Sweet Treats

When I was in college, one of the nicknames given to me by my husband’s fraternity brothers was “Betty Crocker.”

I grew up baking with my mom and neighbor, Miss Muriel, and it was always something I enjoyed. I was known for making Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies, GIANT chocolate chip cookies, and cookies and cream brownies in college. I wasn’t exactly into healthier baking back then, but the cookies and brownies were always a hit!

Since I’m all about upgrading what we eat, so we can eat tasty things AND feel good about it, I share dozens of sweet treat recipes on this blog. And as much as many of you like making things from scratch, sometimes it’s nice to have store bought options when you’re short on time or just want to try something new.

What if there was a company that could take one of our favorite sweets – brownies – and upgrade them by adding in some fill-you-up fiber and protein? And what if they put all of that goodness into one little package that actually tasted good?

For all of you with kiddos, what if you could find a dessert that you felt good about putting in your little ones’ lunchbox, knowing it was school-safe and nut-free and had some nourishment in it?

Meet, Pure Genius brownies and blondies.

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I first tried these at the Natural Products Expo East last fall and became a fan. They were recently named the NEXTY award winner for best new sweet or dessert at Expo East 2016.

I couldn’t believe that the FIRST ingredient in both the Deep Chocolate Brownie and the Chocolate Chunk Blondie was…chickpeas!

You’d never guess that every Pure Genius brownie and blondie contains more than 40% garbanzo beans (chickpeas). And we’re talking whole beans, not flour.

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Believe it or not, YOU DON’T TASTE THEM AT ALL! All they do is add protein, fiber, and a nice soft texture to these tasty treats. Here are a few more reasons why you should give these brownies a try:

  • They’re gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, and nut-free (perfect for nut-free schools and kids with food allergies!)
  • GMO-free (verified by the Non-GMO Project as not being genetically modified or made with genetically modified ingredients)
  • They taste great and have a nice chewy texture, unlike most gluten-free brownies, which are often crumbly. My husband, who also has a sweet tooth, loves them as well, especially the blondie.
  • Each hefty bar has under 200 calories, 3 to 4 grams of protein, 3 to 4 grams of fiber, and only 11 grams of sugar.
  • They have an expiration date! Real food is supposed to go bad and rot, and these will, too. If a food lasts on a shelf for six months or more, is it really something we want to be putting in our body if we want to feel our best?

So, where can you buy these bean-based brownies?

  • Visit Pure Genuis’ website here. I’ve got some good news for you! Use code RACHELSKITCHEN for 20% off all online orders. The code is valid through November 30, 2016.
  • Buy on Amazon: Chocolate Chunk Blondies or Deep Chocolate Brownies.
  • Find them at your local Whole Foods.

Have you tried Pure Genius brownies and blondies before? Let us know what you think below!pure-genius-brownieblondie-brownie

pumpkin-spice-bites

Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

Isn’t pumpkin the best?

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin-spiced anything. If I can find a way to get pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice into it, I will.

I’ve made this delicious pumpkin spice dip multiple times over the past few weeks and have been trying for the past two years to come up with a pumpkin energy bite recipe.

It took me a half a dozen attempts before coming up with this winner 🙂

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I like to think of these no-bake bites as triple pumpkin bites because I used just about every component I could – pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie spice, and a teeny bit of pumpkin puree. They’re like a taste of fall in every bite – pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and all things pumpkin.

I’m grateful to my friend, Jenn, for gently nudging me today to take steps toward publishing an e-book with a bunch of my no-bake bite recipes.

“Do you think anyone would buy it??” I asked.

“YES!!!” she responded, without hesitation.

She said it would be so much easier to make my recipes over and over again, sooooo I committed to doing it! THIS will be one of the recipes in that e-book! Stay tuned for more news about that before Christmastime 🙂 (SO EXCITED!)

In the meantime, enjoy these little bites of fall.

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Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

Ingredients

Coating

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), shelled
  • 1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup pecans and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in food processor until small hunks of pecan remain. Pour into medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine pecans, pepitas, spices and salt in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fine meal.
  3. Add vanilla, dates and pumpkin puree and process until everything is combined. Remove from food processor and shape into a large ball.
  4. Tear off 1-inch hunks and roll into a ball between your palms. Roll ball in pecan mixture and store in glass container in the fridge. You can also freeze them!
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Simply Sautéed Mushrooms {& Cauliflower Mash}

Jenna, one of the participants from a recent cooking class I taught about healing foods, had this to say about today’s recipe:

Everyone in my family thought the cauliflower mash was potatoes!!!! They were super creamy.”

Jenna is in high school but is going to be doing big things in the healing foods space in the coming years, as she pursues studies in nutrition in college. Keep your eye out for her!

rachel-jennaI’ve shared the base of this recipe before in this post for Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash but put a new spin on it by topping it with mushrooms, a food often used as a stand-in for meat because of their chewy texture.

Mushrooms are immune-boosting, cancer-fighting powerhouses and don’t get nearly enough love in our kitchens and on our plates.

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I hated mushrooms for most of my life because I was too grossed out by what they looked like to even be open to trying them. Now, I’m a big fan, whether they are chopped up in a soup or stew, roasted, or served sautéed like they are in this dish.

You can serve this up as a Thanksgiving side dish. It’s a great way to upgrade your plate without sacrificing flavor. With a whole head of roasted garlic and a tablespoon of fresh thyme in the potatoes along with a generous sprinkling of oregano on the mushrooms, no one will complain that this dish lacks flavor.

Next step? Come up with a sauce to top it off 🙂

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Simply Sautéed Mushrooms 

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package cremini (baby Portobello) mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 tablespoons avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until oil shimmers.
  2. Add mushrooms to pan, evenly coating them with oil. Spread into a single layer and let cook for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper, stir and cook 5-6 minute more, until mushrooms begin to brown and soften. Toss with oregano and serve.

Serve as a side dish or on top of some roasted garlic cauliflower mash.

movement-lab

Just Breathe: A Lesson in Listening to My Body

I write a lot about food on this blog, but there’s more to life than food and there’s more to me than recipes. Sometimes I’m hit with truths about life that I feel compelled to share with you as they happen. If you ever feel disconnected from your body, dismissing what it needs in favor of what you think you “should” do, especially when it comes to movement, I invite you to read this post.  

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“Should I take hip hop dance or yoga today?” I asked my friend, Lola, the owner of Movement Lab, a mind-body studio in Baltimore.

She responded in a way that I wasn’t anticipating.

If you close your eyes and check in with your body, what is it asking from you?

More dance, cardio, sweat?

Something deeper, more stretch, more mindful?

movement-labMy weary, rundown body knew the answer.

The body that said, “Yes,” to one too many commitments over the past few months. The body that started to get sick last week as a result of being so exhausted. The body that performs for me at such a high level each day, carrying me from one event, presentation, and meeting to the next.

My physical body wanted to keep moving at its normal, breakneck pace. Dance! Sweat! Work it OUT!

But my soul knew I needed something else.

Rest. Stillness. Peace.

Breath.

As I made my way through rush hour traffic to get to class, a new song came on the radio. A song I hadn’t heard before. A song with a message that I needed to hear.

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Off to yoga I went.

As I left class, Lola saw me, smiled, and asked, “Did you serve your body today?”

I smiled back, still experiencing the peace and stillness from class, “Yes, yes I did.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on the lyrics of the song, the class itself, and our conversation on either end of it.

What if we were more intentional about listening to our body, noticing what it needs, ignoring the “shoulds” and aligning ourselves with what would serve our body?

Have you ever forced yourself to work out and move your body in a way that ignored how it was feeling, neglecting to check in with yourself to find out what would feel best for you in that moment?

Maybe you pushed too hard on a day your body was crying out for rest.

Maybe every fiber of your being was whispering to you to slow down, but you added another mile to your run.

Maybe you wanted to take a peaceful walk in the woods or try a yoga class but didn’t think you’d sweat enough, so you didn’t do it because it wouldn’t “count”.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ignored my body’s inner voice and pushed it when I needed to rest.

I want to be clear. This is not about slacking off or not trying.

Some days your body will tell you it wants to be pushed or that you have pent-up energy and want to take that kickboxing class, go spinning, hit the trail for a long run or hike, or dance until your feet hurt.

Other days it will tell you that it needs a quiet nature walk, a yoga class, a relaxing swim, or a Nia class.

I invite you to pay attention to your body this week, to heed its whisper.

To get curious and notice without judgment how you’re feeling.

To be honest about what would serve your body best in that moment.

To pursue movement that brings you joy, freedom, and restoration.

To breathe, just breathe

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Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

Isn’t fall food the best?

What’s not to like?

Soups, stews, chilis, squash, apples, Thanksgiving, and

Brussels sprouts!brussels-salad-closeup

I’ve always liked certain vegetables that other kids didn’t like, including Brussels sprouts, but I think the Parmesan cheese shower I coated them with as a kid helped hide the taste. I think I liked the taste of the cheese…not so much the bitter taste of the overcooked Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap because most of us have only ever eaten them steamed or boiled to death, which releases all of the not so pleasant smells most of us associate with Brussels sprouts.

BUT it doesn’t have to be that way? Brussels sprouts don’t have to be awful.

They can be incredibly delicious, especially when roasted, sautéed, or prepared raw, which is what we’re doing for today’s recipe. I first served this dish at a Healing Foods cooking class I taught in Baltimore recently, and it was a hit.

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It gave me an excuse to use the food processor, which I demo’d on a Facebook live video. Using a food processor is SO MUCH FASTER and more efficient than chopping things like Brussels sprouts by hand.

The brand I recommend and have had the most success with is Cuisinart. I have an 11-cup style and a 14-cup style, and the 11-cup is sufficient for most things I do on a daily basis. You can find the best deals on their food processors on Amazon.

Brussels sprouts are in the cruciferous veggie family, which includes all-stars like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, collard greens and kale.

The compounds in Brussels sprouts help activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body and support detoxification (cleaning out the gunk). Upping your intake of these mini cabbages can also help reduce inflammation and your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

If you’ve always been a Brussels sprouts hater or skeptic, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Serve it up to family and friends – I bet they’ll never know they’re eating Brussels sprouts!

brussels-salad-whole-platebrussels-salad-angle

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1/4 cup naturally sweetened cranberries (optional)

Directions
1. Working in small batches, place brussels sprouts in feed tube of processor fitted with shredding blade. Pour shredded Brussels sprouts into large bowl.

2. Whisk dressing ingredients (lemon juice through black pepper) together starting with the lemon juice, streaming in the olive oil last. Toss with brussels sprouts to coat evenly. Add more dressing if needed. To soften Brussels sprouts, refrigerate salad at least 30 minutes.

3. Top with walnuts and dried cranberries.

This salad will hold up well for a few days in the fridge 🙂

Do you have any favorite Brussels sprouts recipes? Feel free to share them below!

beet-salad-side

Triple Orange, Fennel & Beet Salad with Arugula

Wouldn’t you love to know how to make the most of your food, so you waste as little as possible AND stay nourished with delicious food?

I’m here to help 🙂

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In the first part of a two-part series I’m teaching about the restorative, healing power of food, I shared several anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense recipes. All of the recipes are free from wheat, milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, and peanuts, which are some of the most commonly allergenic foods.

In their book, The Elimination Diet, Tom Malterre and his wife Ali Segersten point out that 80% of their patients felt significantly better after removing dairy and gluten from their diet. I found that all of my symptoms – allergies, congestion, frequent colds, dry skin, acid reflux – were reversed when I changed my diet and removed dairy and gluten.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share recipes and inspiration for you to make changes based on what your body is telling you it needs.

We made homemade almond milk, chocolate-covered cherry smoothie, white bean and fennel soup, sauteed greens with pumpkin seeds, and the recipe in today’s post. I was inspired to make a salad with beets and oranges as I was reading Dr. Michael Miller’s book Heal Your Heart. But I wanted to upgrade it by adding in some stomach-soothing fennel, anti-inflammatory avocado, and anti-cancer arugula.

Not only that but this recipe features all three components of the orange – zest, juice and whole segments. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and make the most of the dollars you are spending!

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beet-salad-side

Ingredients

4 beets, diced (Love Beets is my favorite brand)
1 fennel bulb
2 oranges
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Prep fennel following these steps from The Kitchn and put in a large bowl. I used a mandolin to thinly slice it.
  2. Peel one orange, cut into slices, then pull segments apart. Set aside.
  3. Zest half of second orange using a microplane grater into a medium bowl. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl, being careful to remove the seeds. Whisk salt, ginger, and honey into bowl with juice and zest. Whisk in olive oil until it starts to thicken.
  4. Pour half of dressing over fennel and let sit for 10 minutes, so orange juice can soften fennel. Add beets and orange slices and toss to combine. Add arugula, avocado and pecans and toss gently to combine. Add additional dressing if needed. Serve immediately.
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10 Tasty New Food Finds from Natural Products Expo East 2016

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been!

From the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore to the Culinary Nutrition Expert Retreat in Toronto, a Holistic Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and the New Jersey Veg Fest yesterday, and teaching a few workshops in between, I’ve been on what felt like a natural health tour of North America.

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I’ve also gotten some clarity around how I want to focus and what I want to share. I feel drawn to go deeper on this blog than I have been in the past few months. I’m grateful for your patience with me as I’ve been a bit less regular with posts over the past month, but the clarity I’ve gained during that time was worth it.

One of the reasons you’ve told me you come to me with questions or follow me on Instagram and Facebook is to be up to date on the latest and greatest natural food products that I use in my own home and recommend to you. I know one of the most frustrating aspects of starting to eat well and remove foods like dairy and gluten is the overwhelm you feel when you step into the store and blankly stare at a wall with 20 options for one product.

How do you know which to choose?

I’m here to make it easier AND to introduce you to some fun, new products before they hit stores. For the past three years, I’ve attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore as Press because of how much this community supports my efforts on social media (THANK YOU!).

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I want to pay it forward by sharing with you my top finds from the expo. As with all of my recommendations and recipes, they are all gluten-free and dairy-free.

I think you’ll be excited to see what is going to be coming to grocery stores in the coming weeks and months!

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1) Hilary’s Eat Well Breakfast Sausage Patties

I first found out about Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burgers two years ago at my first Expo. To be honest, I wasn’t someone who ate veggie burgers; I thought they were pretty nasty and full of a bunch of ingredients I wouldn’t have in my own pantry.

These burgers are different. They are one of the ONLY foods we have in our freezer at all times. Bill loves to have them for breakfast, topped with an egg or on top of a sweet potato hash, and we also love them toasted and then crumbled up on a salad. I featured these burgers in my mason jar salad recipe at the end of the summer. They are SO good!

To make things even better, they now have a breakfast sausage version. It contains all real food for ingredients (i.e., no weird soy protein isolates) AND is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and egg-free. The two versions I tried were Apple Maple and Spicy and my favorite was definitely the Apple Maple.

Where to Find Them: Click this link to find a store near you where you can buy all of Hilary’s Eat Well products.

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2) Farmhouse Culture Ginger Beets & Kraut Krisps

Since over 70% of our immune system sits in and around our digestive system, eating fermented foods is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system, not get sick, clear up our skin, reduce bloat, and have regular bowel movements (at least 1/day!).

I’ve been a fan of Farmhouse Culture’s Kimchi and Sauerkraut for about a year now and a few months ago I started taking their Gut Shots to support my digestive and immune systems. When I stopped by their table and saw their new branding (love it) and their new products, I was stoked!

The ginger beets were amazing and would be delicious chopped up and put on a salad or just eaten as a snack. But one of the coolest snacks I tried all day was the Kraut Krisp. With almost 50% sauerkraut, organic corn masa and a shelf stable probiotic blend in the seasoning mix, this is a chip you can feel good about eating. The dill pickle is amazing! I’m hoping to see both of these yummy foods in my local store soon!

Where to Find It: Here is the link to their Store Locator. On the link is a Product Request form that you can print out and take to your local store!

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3) Beetnik Organic Frozen Meals 

We discovered beetnik Organic frozen meals about a year ago.What I love about them is that they are made with real, whole food ingredients and taste more like a homemade meal than a frozen one.

They are Bill’s #1 go to choice for lunch at school when he hasn’t packed leftovers or planned ahead. As an elementary school teacher, he’s lucky if he gets 20 minutes to enjoy his lunch, so convenience is key, but so is staying fueled and energized throughout the day.

Bill has liked every single one he has tried, and I know he’ll be excited to check out some of their new flavors like Ragu Alla Bolognese, Pollo Alla Cacciatora, Organic Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice, Organic Shepherd’s Pie with Grass Fed Beef, and Organic Beef Chili with Sweet Potato. The first two are pasta sauces, and the last three are paleo-friendly and grain-free.

Where to Find Them: I buy them at MOM’s Organic Market or Roots Market, but you can use this store locator to find them near you.

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4) Miyoko’s Creamery {Dairy-Free Cheeses}

When you stop eating dairy, one of the things you miss the most is the creaminess of cheese. Fortunately, food has come a LONG way, and brands like Miyoko’s give us the opportunity to get that beloved texture back 🙂

At the Expo, they were sampling their Smoked Farmhouse, Fresh Loire Valley and Double Cream Chive cheeses as well as a few others. They also have Garlic Herb, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Winter Truffle and Herbs de Provence varieties. Organic cashews are the base of their cheeses and give them a rich and creamy texture

Where to Find It: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods but you can use this store locator to find where they are sold near you!

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5) Soul Sprout Snacks

After undergoing a rebranding from Two Moms in the Raw (who I’ve written about here) to Soul Sprout, these snacks are better than ever. They have granola bars, almond butter truffles, nut bars, grain-free cereal, and almond protein crackers.

Their plant-based snacks are made with sprouted ingredients and have recently undergone a makeover in the ingredient list. They used to use agave as a sweetener but upgraded to coconut sugar, which is less controversial and even more delicious.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, but Whole Foods and The Fresh Market carry their products as well. Look for them at your local grocery store or shop online on their website here.

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6) Jackson’s Honest Chips

I first tried these chips at Expo East two years ago and fell in love. They have become our go to chip and I’ve introduced them to dozens of people through my workshops and cooking classes, and my coworkers are kind of obsessed with them, too. They’re perfectly crunchy and incredibly satisfying.

The founders of the company created the chips as a result of helping their son recover from an illness doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. They discovered how powerful coconut oil was in his healing and use it as an ingredient in all of their chips. My favorite variety is the sweet potato chips, but they introduced two *new* products at the Expo – Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Rippled Red Heirloom Potato Chips. All I can say is YUM.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans or The Fresh Market, but you can find them near you using their store locator here.

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7) Cappello’s Cookie Dough

I first fell in love with their chocolate chip cookie dough two years ago at the first Expo East I attended. Their cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free and use almond flour as the base. They introduced three new kinds of dough at the expo: Double Chocolate, Lemon Zest and Ginger Snap. I have a pack of each sitting in my freezer right now along with some of their fettuccine and lasagna sheets that I can’t WAIT to use!

Where to Find Them: I’ve bought their products at MOMs Organic Market and Whole Foods Market, but you can find them near you using this locator.

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8) Simple Mills Crackers & Baking Mixes

I fell in love with Simple Mills baking mixes when I met them at Expo East two years ago. They have the best boxed bread mix, pancake and waffle mix, cake mix, muffin and cupcake mix, and pizza dough. I use their bread mix to make this delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free stuffing, perfect for the upcoming holidays!

At the Expo, they were introducing their new almond flour crackers. My favorite is the Sun-dried Tomato Basil version, but they also have a Fine Ground Sea Salt and Rosemary & Sea Salt variety. You HAVE to try them!

Where to Find Them: I buy their products at MOMs Organic Market, Target, Home Goods (hit or miss!), or online at Amazon. Use their store locator to find them near you.

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9) Forager Dairy-Free Yogurt

I used to eat yogurt every day growing up. I didn’t like sandwiches as a kid, and yogurt was one of the few foods that was easily portable and filled me up. It took me 25 years to figure it out, but the yogurt I was eating wasn’t the healthiest. It was usually full of lots of sugar and the brands I used to buy (Yoplait and Dannon) rank as two of the BOTTOM FIVE of a list of 129 yogurts rated by the Cornucopia Institute here.

Most dairy-free yogurts have a funky texture and more gelatinous than smooth and creamy. Fortunately, companies like Forager are beginning to step up their game and bring us delicious dairy-free yogurts that taste closer to the real thing. I loved how velvety smooth their cashew milk-based yogurt was and think you will, too!

Where to Find It: I’ve found their other products at MOMs Organic Market, so I’m hoping they will carry the yogurt soon! You can find out more on Forager’s website.

img_827010) Coco-Roons Superfood Cookies

I have to admit it – I used to hate coconut. At Halloween, every Mounds bar or Almond Joy went straight into the trash. No thank you! Over the years, I’ve come to love coconut no matter what form it takes – coconut flakes, milk, oil, and butter. It’s so rich and full of flavor.

One of my favorite desserts are the Coco-Roons made by Wonderfully Raw. My usual go-tos are the brownie and vanilla maple versions, so I was super excited to find out that they rebranded AND introduced two new flavors at Expo – Salted Caramel (YESSSS) and Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Where to Find Them: The best deals are at Home Goods, but you can also buy them at MOMs Organic Market, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Safeway. Check out their store locator for more store options!

Well, that’s a wrap, friends! Those are my first ten finds. I think you’ll love them and can’t wait to share another round of awesomeness in my next post!

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