Category: Products I Use (Page 1 of 9)

The Secret Ingredients for Anticancer Salads

I didn’t eat my first salad until I was in college.

I liked vegetables but just couldn’t get excited about a plate of raw ones and was always grossed out by condiments and anything besides butter and parmesan cheese being on my food, so salad dressings were out.

Fast forward to my 30s, and I am a salad fiend! I love them and do what I can to make them exciting, colorful and delicious.

My husband is a teacher and was telling me about a potluck they recently had at his school. One of the teachers wanted to go in on a salad with him, and they were going to bring the standard lettuce + tomatoes + carrots + cucumbers with ranch dressing.

Now, as a disclaimer, I believe that eating fresh, whole foods, especially vegetables, is a wonderful idea. But what if you could supercharge your salads with more medicinal, disease-preventive, feel good ingredients??

This video from nutritionfacts.org has gotten me to think differently about salads, and I think it will do the same for you. It also reveals the #1 anticancer vegetable, so check it out!

Based on that video, I thought I’d share the template that I use to mix and match ingredients when making salads. I still include all vegetables but ordered them based on how cancer preventive they are, so use this as a guide for upgrading your salads.

The key with keeping salads exciting is to use a variety of colors, textures, and flavors. Based on this list, you can come up with endless combinations of beautiful, nourishing and delicious salads!

  • Base: spinach, kale, arugula, Romaine, spring mix, watercress, Bibb lettuce, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, radicchio, bok choy, endive
  • Veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, shredded cabbage, shredded brussels sprouts, scallions, shallots, onions, leeks, fennel, celery, peppers, beets, radishes, roasted sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, cooked asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots
  • Super food add-ons: broccoli sprouts (Potomac Sprout Co. is my favorite!), lentil sprouts, bean sprouts, hemp seeds, goji berries, mulberries
  • Chopped herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, mint
  • Fruit: berries are my go to but sometimes apples, pears or peaches fit the bill! Avocados are a great substitute for cheese (and they’re a fruit!)
  • Fermented Food: chopped sauerkraut, fermented beets (Farmhouse Culture), or kimchi. Adding these to your salad will enhance digestion and leave you feeling less bloated.
  • Protein: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, chicken, salmon
  • Crunch: roasted chickpeas (Chickpeatos and Saffron Road are my top two brands), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
  • Dressing: check out over a dozen dressing recipes below, most of which include the all-star ingredient – GARLIC! My favorite brands of store-bought dressing are Tessemae’s and Bragg’s.

In the next post, I will be sharing 16 supercharged salad recipes, so you have some ideas for how to make this happen…and keep your salads exciting!

Spring Farmer’s Market Salad with Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

I had the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite companies this past week for a cooking demo about how to supercharge our salads. We talked about the importance of using lots of deeply and brightly colored ingredients and combining a variety of textures to keep salads exciting and delicious!

In preparation for the class, I came up with a new salad that combines some of my favorite ingredients that are perfect for spring and in season right now. Fruit and vegetables taste best and are most flavorful when they are locally grown and in season, so I wanted to take advantage of that.

This salad combines a variety of colors and textures and is packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients, and so did the other two salads we made that day:

One of the coolest parts of the class included a demo of a simple way to slice grape tomatoes easily and quickly. Check out the video below for how to slice a pint of tomatoes in under a minute!

This farmer’s market salad introduces sprouts – an ingredient I haven’t used on the blog before – so I wanted to tell you why I’ve been so jazzed about incorporating them into my salads! Broccoli sprouts, in particular, are one of the BEST additions you can make to your diet. Dr. Mercola wrote a post about all of the science-backed benefits of broccoli sprouts here, but I thought I’d share a few with you now.

Broccoli sprouts are even MORE supercharged than broccoli and have been linked to preventing a number of health issues, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Allergies
  • Detoxification
  • Diabetes

My favorite brand at the moment is the Potomac Sprout Company, and I buy them at MOMs Organic Market. You can also grow your own sprouts using seeds at home using this method from No Meat Athlete.

Now, for the recipe 🙂 I think you’re going to enjoy this one!

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Spring Farmer's Market Salad

This salad is an upgrade to a basic salad and combines some of the best vegetables of spring!

Course Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1/2 pound spring mix organic
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 bunch scallions chopped
  • 1 English cucumber diced
  • 1 container broccoli sprouts Potomac Sprouts Company is my favorite!
  • 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas Saffron Road or Chickpeatos brand
  • 1/2 cup pistachio meat

Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar with "The Mother"
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 cup olive oil extra virgin

Instructions

  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl

  2. Toss with 1/2 cup dressing and enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

I just finished up teaching a two-part series about Healthy Meal Planning Made Easy at the Institute for Integrative Health. We had a great time and made some tasty recipes. I love showing how eating well can be easier, more fun, and delicious, and these classes are the perfect opportunity for me to do that.

I summed up my top healthy meal planning tips from week #1 in this post and shared links to over a dozen simple recipes, including the mason jar salad and tropical-inspired smoothie we made and sampled during the session.

In class #2, we focused on batch cooking, my favorite gadgets, the ultimate food storage guide, and my top tips for eating healthy on the go. Batch cooking is a technique of preparing larger quantities of simple foods that can be mixed and matched throughout the week. I love what Nutrition Stripped has to say about strategies for how do this in her Batch Cooking 101 blog post.

We kicked off the class with a sample of one of my favorite new packaged foods – Swapples – which is a new spin on a traditional waffle. Swapples are gluten-free, vegan, and paleo and can be used as the base of or topping for just about any meal. We tried the Tomato Pizza version, which I’d recommend dipping into marinara sauce!  For the “eating on the go” part of class, we also sampled one of my favorite real food snack bars – an Almond Cranberry Everbar.

We had fun playing with our food and making this easy 10-minute white bean, tomato and zucchini noodle saute. Two brave volunteers came up to help me spiralize the zucchini into noodles and did a great job! Want to get your own spiralizer? Check out this one.

Since one of the main concepts I wanted to introduce was batch cooking, we talked about how to use quinoa two different ways – one savory preparation and one sweet. If you prepare a big pot of plain quinoa (let’s say you cook 4 cups) at the beginning of the week, you can use it for a number of different dishes. If you’ve ever made a mistake cooking a batch of quinoa and ended up with a giant mass or unevenly cooked pieces, read this post that reveals the SECRET to cooking perfect quinoa…every time!

You can use it as the base of grain bowl like this Sweet Potato, Edamame & Quinoa Bowl that was a BIG hit. You could substitute it rice in a stir fry, toss it into a soup or stew or on top of a salad, or use it to make a breakfast bowl. Think of the quinoa as a substitute for oatmeal. Since it’s already cooked, this is a great way to save time in the morning. I’m going to experiment with other versions of this recipe that combine different ingredients, but this is a simple one to start with, so I hope you’ll give it a try!

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Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

This tasty and easy breakfast is a great way to use leftover plain quinoa.

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 apple diced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except apple and walnuts in a small saucepan on the stove over medium low heat, stirring until heated through and quinoa begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes.

  2. Pour into bowls and top with chopped apple, walnuts, and, if needed, a light drizzle of maple syrup.

Recipe Notes

You can also top this dish with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped almonds or hemp seeds.

My Top 8 Real Food Snack Bars

I spent the afternoon with a client in DC and did a sampling of my favorite snack bars. It went so well and was so well received that I thought I’d put together a quick blog post to give you the details about what we tried and learn how to pick out an “upgraded” nutrition bar.

With our on-the-go lifestyles, it can be easy to prioritize convenience over quality, especially when it comes to eating. Instead of sitting down for a meal, many of us grab a snack, like a protein or granola bar. Unfortunately, many of the bars on the market these days are packed with some not-so-nourishing ingredients and as much sugar as a candy bar. Not only that, but the ingredient list contains dozens of ingredients that you’d never find in an at-home pantry.

Here’s the secret.

To maintain balanced energy and to satisfy hunger, you’ll want a bar that has a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats and a lower sugar count. When we eat something containing fiber and protein, it helps to slowly release blood sugar, so we don’t deal with spikes and drops that trigger irritability and other not-so-pleasant physical and emotional symptoms.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day for men. That’s not much. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when picking out a bar:

  1. Aim for single digit sugar content…or close to it. When you’re looking at a label, remember that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. Fortunately, the next round of nutrition facts label will include information about added sugars.
  2. Opt for 5+ grams of fiber to keep you feeling full. I look for about 20% fiber on the nutrition facts panel.
  3. Go for at least as much protein as fiber. I look for protein to at least equal and (ideally) exceed sugar content.
  4. Look for an ingredients list that contains real food vs. “isolates” and unfamiliar words. I look for bars containing ingredients that, for the most part, I could make on my own.
  5. Try to eat actual meals as often as possible, and use these bars in a pinch!

Here’s a list of the bars we sampled (and a few extras!). I’ve indicated whether they are gluten-free (GF), dairy-free (DF), vegan (V), or soy-free (SF). I also listed how many grams of sugar / fiber / protein are found in one variety of each type of bar. One of my favorite things to do, which you’ll see below, is to share the story behind the bar, so we can connect more with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel.

Soul Sprout 

GF, DF, V, SF

Why I Like Them: Shari, the founder of Two Moms in the Raw, started making raw foods after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She found that a natural path to wellness (including a raw food diet) worked best for her health. She couldn’t find any raw snacks that tasted good, so she made her own. I actually wrote a whole blog post about the first version of these bars when they were branded Two Moms in the Raw. They have since rebranded and reformulated their products and came out with a few new lines of products, too.

Flavors: Blueberry Burst (10g sugar / 3g fiber / 5g protein), Wow Cacao Nib, Cranberry Crush, Charming Cherry Chocolate, Gotta Getta Gojiberry and Go for Goldenberry, Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip, Apple Crazin’ Cinnamon Raisin, Coconut Almond Delight, Hoppin’ Jalapeno Almond, Sea Salt Vinegar and Sweet ‘N Salty.

Where to Find Them: MOMs Organic Market, SoulSprout.com (sign up for their mailing list to get 20% off your first order!), Thrive Market.

GoMacro Thrive

GF, DF, V, SF

Why I Like Them: I love the story behind this company. Amelia (the founder) and her family grew their own food and were entrepreneurs who made money selling the food products they created. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she modified her diet to be plant-based and created GoMacro bars.

When I first saw these Thrive at MOMs Organic Market I was excited. I love when new products are introduced that prioritize real food ingredients, nutrition, and flavor. I was at the Green Festival in DC last weekend and Go Macro was there sampling all of their bars. My favorite was the Ginger Lemon one. Now I just need to find who sells it near me!

Flavors: Ginger Lemon; Almond Apricot; Caramel Coconut; Blueberry Lavender; Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt; Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.

Where to Find Them: MOMs Organic Market (some varieties), Whole Foods, GoMacro.com, Wegmans, The Fresh Market. You can fill out a request form on their website to request them at stores near you.

EVER BAR

GF, DF, SF

Why I Like Them: When I first reviewed these bars about two years ago here, I was impressed by how much fiber and protein they contained and how short the ingredient list was. To this day, they are still my go to bar because of the purity of ingredients and how filling they are. EVER BARs are paleo-friendly, non-GMO, and locally made in Olney, Maryland! I could also identify all of the ingredients as “food,” which isn’t always the case with bars.

While most bars list whatever sweeteners they use as one of the first three ingredients (because those bars are more sugar than anything else), EVER BAR has sweeteners as their last few ingredients, and the primary ingredient in every bar is organic hemp seeds. They’re a little chewier than most bars, but I don’t mind it because I know I’m getting high quality nourishment.

Flavors: Almond Cranberry (my fave), Cinnamon Ginger, Blueberry Cashew, and Green Power. The Cinnamon Ginger bar has 11g sugar / 6g fiber / 12 g protein. The other bars have a similar profile.

Where to Find Them: MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans, LivityFoods.com, Amazon, Dawson’s Market.

Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars

GF, SF, DF

Why I Like Them: These were recommended by my friend Jen, and I’m so glad she told me about them because I didn’t even know they existed! The pepper one is REALLY peppery…but I’m a pepper lover, so I was okay with it. I definitely want to try the Cinnamon Spice one next. I’ve had the Health Warrior Chia Bars before but didn’t even know about this line of sweet and savory bars. They’re lower in sugar and have a good amount of protein but are a bit lower in fiber than I’d like.

Flavors: Cinnamon Spice, Honey Cracked Pepper & Turmeric, Dark Chocolate. The Cinnamon Spice bar has 7g sugar / 2g fiber / 8g protein.

Where to Find Them: Amazon, Health Warrior, and Lucky Vitamin. The best deal is on Amazon!

Primal Kitchen

GF, SF, DF

Why I Like Them: I was initially drawn to these bars because they were a new product at the grocery store where I shop. When I took a closer look, I was impressed by the protein (15g) and fiber (5g) content and pleasantly surprised by the low sugar content (only 3 grams!).

Monk fruit, a Chinese herb cultivated for centuries by Buddhist monks, is the primary sweetener. Much like stevia, it’s a natural zero calorie way to sweeten without the blood-sugar raising effects of sugar. It can have a bit of an aftertaste, so my favorite bar was the Macadamia Sea Salt one.  The 15 grams of protein come from nuts and seeds and collagen from grass-fed cows. Here’s the scoop from their website:

The collagen protein used in Primal Kitchen Macadamia Sea Salt Bars is collagen hydrolysate from grass-fed cows, which is broken down into individual amino acids and easier to absorb and digest, so it’s a preferable alternative to taking collagen in, say, capsule form.

Flavors: Macadamia Sea Salt (3g sugar / 5g fiber / 15g protein), Cashew Coconut Bar, Dark Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Hazelnut. To be honest, I didn’t really love the chocolate flavors and prefer the Macadamia Sea Salt bar most.

Where to Find Them: MOMs Organic Market, Thrive Market, or PrimalKitchen.com.

EPIC

GF, DF, SF

Why I Like Them: These are Bill’s favorite bars, so I had to highlight them. They’re paleo-friendly, high in protein and low in sugar but typically don’t contain fiber, so I like to pair them with some crunchy veggies. Think of them as an upgraded form of jerky made with responsibly-raised animals that were fed their natural diet. Inspired by the diets of our hunter gatherer ancestors, these bars combine high quality meat, wholesome vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.

EPIC foods begin with a living animal. We believe that all ruminants should consume diets they were biologically intended to eat and roam freely outdoors. As a result our beef, venison, wild boar, lamb, and bison are raised on open pasture just how nature intended. We continuously strive to convert ranchers to this pasture based livestock model, and through our products, create financial incentives to help change American agriculture.

Flavors: Beef, Apple & Uncured Bacon (2g sugar / 0g fiber / 11g protein); Turkey Almond Cranberry; Venison Sea Salt Pepper; Beef, Habanero & Cherry; Chicken Sesame & BBQ; Chicken Sriracha; Lamb, Currant & Mint; Wild Boar Bacon; Bison Bacon Cranberry; Smoked Maple Bacon; Smoked Salmon Maple.

Where to Find Them: They have over a dozen varieties, and you can find them at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and EpicBar.com.

KIND

Why I Like Them: They are low in sugar, and you find buy them anywhere – airports, gas stations, grocery stores, and beyond – and that’s why I recommend them. KIND has a few lines of their bars (Nuts & Spices, Sweet & Spicy) that are low in sugar (6 grams or less). They also contain a decent amount of fiber and protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied. When I spoke at the WELCOA conference last spring, I shared the story behind KIND bars, so if you’re not familiar with it, I’d encourage you to check out this article about the amazing story behind the bars.

Flavors: I opt for the lower sugar Nuts & Spices Line. My favorite flavors are Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt (5g sugar / 5g fiber / 6g protein) and Cashew & Ginger Spice. Other flavors include Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Almond Mint, and Black Truffle Almond & Sea Salt.

I’m also a fan of their Sweet & Spicy savory bar line that includes flavors like Roasted Jalapeno (the crowd favorite at the tasting), which contains 6g sugar / 3g fiber / 10g protein. Other flavors in that line include Thai Sweet Chili, Chipotle Honey Mustard, and Sweet Cayenne BBQ.

Where to Find Them: Just about everywhere. From grocery stores to gas stations and Amazon, everyone carries KIND bars. 

RXBAR

GF, DF, V, SF

Why I Like Them: The group of friends who created these bars were frustrated by the lack of transparency and real food ingredients in the protein bars they were eating. They wanted to come up with a bar that was simpler and honest about what was in it. What you see is what you get. Each package includes as the final ingredient, “No B.S.” I’ll be honest and say these taste more like what you’d expect a protein bar to taste like and have a bit more sugar (even if it’s natural) than I’d like, BUT I just love their transparency and accessibility, so I’m in.

Flavors: Their most popular flavor is the Chocolate Sea Salt (15g sugar / 6g fiber / 12 g protein). Blueberry, Coconut Chocolate and Maple Sea Salt, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Mint are their most popular flavors. For more flavors, click here.

Where to Find Them: Wegmans, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Amazon, RXBAR.com.

Aaaand that’s a wrap! What are your favorite snack bars? Any that you love that I’m missing??  I’d love to know what you think, so feel free to comment below.

White Bean, Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Saute

Pasta was my favorite food group growing up.

Whether it was Spaghettios, Beefaroni, or buttered egg noodles or angel hair, I LOVED all things pasta. I’ve come to upgrade my preferences these days and prefer protein and fiber-packed lentil pasta, brown rice pasta, or the easiest and most nourishing choice out there…

Zucchini noodles!

AKA “zoodles.” 🙂

You can buy zucchini noodles at a lot of grocery stores for convenience, BUT it’s so much cheaper (and way more fun!) to make them yourself. The simple gadget you use to make them is called a spiralizer.

I did a video about how to use a spiralizer when I JUST started making videos a few years, so don’t mind the less than stellar quality! I plan to update this with a better version soon, but it makes the point, so I’m keeping this one here for now.

You can eat the zoodles raw or lightly saute them, which is what I did for today’s recipe. If you eat them raw, I find that it helps to let them “sweat” on a paper towel for about 10 minutes before adding them to a salad, so they stay crunchy.

I had some garlic, cherry tomatoes and leftover cannellini beans that I wanted to use up, so I decided to toss all of them together to come up with this dish. Something like this takes just a few minutes to put together, so it’s convenient if you’re in a time crunch. Using fun kitchen toys like a spiralizer is also a great way to include your kiddos in the meal-making process. If you make cooking fun, they (and you!) will be more likely to want to do it instead of feel like you have to do it.

You can modify this recipe based on other ingredients you have on hand. Adding asparagus would be a great idea this time of year, since that is in season. Even though I didn’t use it this time around, I’m going to add some fresh basil the next time I make this dish because I think it will really make it pop and add another layer of flavor and color. I add leafy greens to my meals as often as possible!

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White Bean, Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Saute

This quick and easy dish comes together in minutes and is a great way to highlight spring and summer veggies!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini spiralized
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 cup cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • Pinch sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest optional
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves torn

Instructions

  1. Use your spiralizer to make zucchini noodles with your zucchini. Cut them with scissors, so you don't have one long noodle.

  2. In a large saute pan, add olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. 

  3. Add cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, and a pinch or two of salt and saute for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini noodles and saute for 2 more minutes or until heated through. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.

  4. Pour contents of pan into two bowls and top with basil leaves and lemon zest. 

Recipe Notes

I like to top any kind of pasta with my favorite paleo parmesan cheeze made with cashews and nutritional yeast. Here is the 3-ingredient recipe for that!

What We Eat: A Peek at Our Weekly Menu

I’ve had people ask time and time again what a typical week of eating looks like for me and Bill. Every week is different, but I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what last week and the upcoming week consisted of for our meals.

I tend to make a combination of my own recipes from this blog and often look to the Nourishing Meals Cookbook, The Undiet CookbookForks Over Knives: The Cookbook or one of Rebecca Katz’s many healing cookbooks, with a recent focus on The Longevity Kitchen Cookbook

We pretty much follow Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Sometimes I’m a little off on the “not too much” part, if I’m being completely honest, but we prioritize eating real food made from ingredients we recognize and can pronounce. The vast majority of what we eat, especially for me, consists of plant-based foods like veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, and we load up on herbs and spices for flavor. I do eat some animal proteins a couple of times a week, usually wild caught fish or pasture-raised chicken or eggs.

My husband Bill’s German heritage demands a higher animal protein ratio than what I eat. He just feels better eating a bit more of it than me! That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of listening to your body and paying attention to what gives you energy and what takes it away. I encourage you to experiment with different foods to see which ones make you feel best. For more on my philosophy around food and eating, check out this recent post.

Okay, now let’s get back to the food. Want to know what a week of breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like for us? Check out the list below!

Breakfast

Because I’m on a healing foods protocol through my nutritionist, as I’m restoring my body from Epstein-Barr Virus, I’m not eating certain things that Bill eats on a regular basis, like eggs. He loves making breakfast and puts in a lot of work each morning. A typical breakfast for him consists of roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed onions and tomatoes or peppers, and an egg, usually served on or with a Swapple, which is one of my favorite freezer staples as well. We also like Bilinski’s casing-free, real food chicken sausage, especially the kale balsamic version!

I usually have a smoothie because it’s the easiest way to pack a lot of goodness into one glass (or smoothie bowl!). I’ve been opting for blueberries as my main fruit because of how antioxidant-packed they are. I alternate which fats I use, including coconut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and avocado. I usually throw in a handful of baby spinach or baby kale and round out everything with a scoop of protein powder or an extra sprinkle of hemp seeds.

I’ll have to share the smoothie I’ve been making lately, so you have the recipe, but this Blueberry Blast Smoothie is pretty similar!

I absolutely LOVE the Oat Berry Yogurt Muffin recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and have been serving that with Trader Joe’s mixed nut butter. I also tried the Detoxinista’s Vegan Almond Flour Banana Bread. It’s RICH and pretty hearty, since it’s made with almonds as the base, but I really liked the flavors!

Lunch & Dinner

To be honest, lunch and dinner don’t look that different for us. I almost always have a big salad for lunch as my base and often serve up leftovers from dinner for lunch because it makes things easier and saves us time. I’m a big advocate of making grain or salad bowls, which basically consists of throwing together some cooked and raw veggies (focus on leafy greens!), some source of protein (usually beans), something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a grain like quinoa or brown rice if I’m making a grain bowl. I top it all off with a dressing and toss everything together.

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I need something nourishing when I haven’t planned ahead and packed. When I’m on the go, some of my favorite places to hit up are Stall11 at RHouse, sweetgreen, Harmony Bakery, the Naked Lunch Cafe, and Whole Foods Market hot bar and salad bar. I link to all of those places and others in my healthy foodie dining guide to Baltimore.

Here’s what we’ve been cooking up lately!

That’s a look at some of what we’ve been cooking up in our kitchen lately. We stick with some of our favorite familiar staples and try a few new ones here and there.

How about you? What’s on your menu? Try anything new lately? Feel free to share in the comments below! I love trying new recipes 🙂

Coconut Chocolate Brownie Bites {Paleo, Vegan}

It’s been a while since I’ve poster a new no-bake bite recipe for you to try, so I’m excited to share today’s recipe for coconut chocolate brownie bites!

A few weeks ago, I was at a women in business event with a group of consultants, human resources professionals and business owners. Before the session, Susan, a friend and fan who attends my cooking classes in the community, walked in. She was holding a bag of Emmy’s Cookies that she had bought at Starbucks that morning. Knowing what I do, she came up to me and said, “These are so expensive! I bet you know how to make them at home!”

Since I’m always up for a challenge, I started experimenting! What I’m sharing with you today is the final outcome of playing in the kitchen to come up with my own version of those chocolate coconut no-bake cookies. Like most of my no-bake bites, they start with a base of nuts and dates. They’re a great option for a snack or a sweet treat and are perfect for someone who is on the go (kids love them, too!).

I had a few coworkers sample them today for me to give me feedback, and everyone loved the sweet and salty combo paired with the rich chocolatey taste. As someone who used to h-a-t-e coconut anything, I really love these, and so does my husband, who isn’t much of a coconut fan either.

One of the fun, new things I’ve started doing with no-bake recipes like this is experimenting with vanilla powder instead of vanilla extract. I find that the taste isn’t as bitter, but you can totally use vanilla extract in this recipe if you prefer.  If you use the powder, it’s a 1-1 substitution for the extract. I buy the Nielsen-Massey brand of vanilla powder at MOMs Organic Market. Most natural food stores and Whole Foods carry vanilla powder, in case you’re interested!

I have a feeling these are going to become one of your new favorites, so let me know if you give them a try 🙂 They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, and raw, in case that helps you decide!

Coconut Chocolate Brownie Bites

Yield: ~24 bites

Ingredients

2 cups raw walnuts
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1 1/3 cups Medjool dates, pits removed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions

  1. In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, process walnuts and salt for about 15 seconds. Add cacao powder and pulse to combine.
  2. Add dates, vanilla, and maple syrup, and process until a dough begins to form.
  3. Add coconut and pulse several times until just combined. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll between your palms. Toss balls in shredded coconut (optional) and store in a glass container in your fridge.

The BEST Dairy-Free Yogurt: My #1 Pick

About six years ago, I went through a protocol called an elimination diet to get to the root of why I wasn’t feeling my best. I wanted to get off medications and not be bothered by recurring health issues.

Through that process, I discovered that dairy products and gluten-containing foods were triggers for years of congestion, bloating, gas, skin problems, indigestion, and sore throats. Like most of you, I loved cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products. Finding out that they were one of the root causes of my health issues was upsetting.

Ever since then, I’ve been on a quest to find alternatives to foods I used to love but could no longer eat if I wanted to feel my best. My journey led me to find this dairy-free option I’m sharing with you today.

Like many people, I took yogurt to work nearly every day as part of my lunch or for an afternoon snack. I had bought into the media hype that yogurt was a health food. I wasn’t paying attention to all of the sugar and other processed ingredients that were making their way into my daily snack. A few years ago, an organization called the Cornucopia Institute came out with a ranking system of yogurts, placing my top two brands – Dannon and Yoplait – at the bottom of the list of 129 brands.

Once I realized yogurt was contributing to my health issues and saw how little nutritional value most brands contained, I cut it out. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a replacement for the smooth and creamy texture and dessert-like taste only yogurt seemed to have. For years, I didn’t eat it. None of the dairy-free options on the market were very appealing. They were full of processed ingredients; had weird, gelatinous consistencies; or just didn’t taste very good. I had all but given up on finding a replacement.

That’s when I found this.

Meet, Forager Project Yogurt

Fortunately, just over two years ago, I came upon the company Forager Project after seeing their line of nut milks (i.e., almond, cashew, etc.) at a grocery store in San Diego. I had the opportunity to try their products at the Natural Products Expo and became a fan.

Then, this past September when I was at the expo, I was stoked to find out they had added a new product to their line – dairy-free yogurt.


What I love about this yogurt is that it has the texture and creaminess of the yogurt I used to eat.

It’s an upgrade, too, because instead of using artificial flavors and colors, Forager uses ingredients like turmeric (to make the lemon yogurt yellow) and beet juice to make the strawberry yogurt pink. They’re also organic, not genetically modified, and the plain, unsweetened yogurt (perfect in smoothies and sauces!) contains only two grams of sugar per serving, which is the lowest I’ve seen on the market.

Instead of cow’s milk, cashews are the base of Forager’s yogurts. I’ve used cashews to make dairy-free cheese dips, cheesecake, and even caramel dipping sauce, so I had a feeling a cashew-based yogurt would be equally delicious and creamy. And it is! They have plain, lemon, blueberry, vanilla and strawberry flavors, which are some of the most popular and familiar. The vanilla version contains real vanilla bean that you can see instead of artificial vanilla flavor.

I love Forager’s brand promise on the side of the yogurt container:

I love what they stand for and appreciate and value how much TLC they put into their products with a focus on quality, sustainability and taste.

Where to Find Forager Project Products

To find a store near you that carries Forager’s products, use this search feature on their website. Availability will be expanding, but you should already be able to find them at your local Whole Foods, Safeway (soon!) and other independent retailers.

While you’re at it, pick up a bag of their tasty vegetable chips pictured below! You can find these at Whole Foods and MOMs Organic Market, or use their search link above to find them near you.

One thing I appreciate about Forager is that they constantly assess customer feedback and have already incorporated that feedback in the new and improved version of their chips. Both Bill and I tried all three and are fans! 🙂

Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for writing this review. All opinions are my own and maintaining the integrity of all content on this site is of utmost importance to me. I only promote brands and products I actually use and want to take some of the guesswork out of that for you, so I will never promote products I don’t love and use myself! 🙂 

Is information like this helpful to you? Would you like to see more reviews of products to help guide your shopping decisions? Let me know in the comments below!

5-Minute Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream {Paleo}

It finally feels like winter, and I’m pretty sure I saw my first snowflake yesterday…but that didn’t stop me from making ice cream!

This recipe is a variation of the 2-minute banana ice cream recipe I shared a few years ago. This is a GREAT way to use up bananas that have seen better days instead of throwing them away 🙂 Just peel and then freeze them, so you’re always prepared to make banana ice cream.

This recipe is quick and easy to make, and the texture is just like soft serve ice cream. I have no idea how frozen bananas turn into such a smooth and creamy consistency, but they do. It’s pretty amazing, and if you haven’t tried it before, all you need is a food processor to make it happen!

I put a seasonal spin on the original recipe by adding pumpkin puree and some festive, warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg. I topped mine with some chopped pecans, but you could also use pumpkin seeds or even some dark chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

pumpkin-ice-cream-title pumpkin-ice-cream-closeup

Ingredients

2 cups peeled, frozen bananas cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch cloves
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch fine grain sea salt
Chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the frozen bananas in the food processor. Grind the bananas until they resemble this gravel-like consistency. Keep processing until the bananas resemble a smooth consistency. See this post for pictures of the process.
  2. Add in pumpkin puree, spices and maple syrup. Pulse until evenly combined. Add toppings and serve immediately (my preference) or follow step #3 below.
  3. Pour ice cream into parchment-lined glass baking dish with lid and freeze to firm up consistency. Once hardened, lift ice cream block out of dish using corners of parchment paper and cut the block of ice cream into cubes. Return cubes to food processor and follow step 1 above until it becomes creamy again.

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

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