Category: Products I Use (Page 1 of 10)

My Top 9 Healthy Freezer Finds

We hear a lot about pantry staples and the essential items to stock in your pantry, but what about the freezer?

Years ago, mine was full of Vitatops, Fudgesicles, and Lean Cuisine meals. It took me some time to figure out that those weren’t the most nourishing choices and didn’t make my body feel very good.

Since then, I’ve upgraded my pantry and freezer staples to better support how I want to feel. All of the items recommended in this post are gluten-free, dairy-free, and many are either vegan or paleo.

Check out the video below for the top 11 items we (almost) always have in our freezer!

  1. Organic Berries, Dark Cherries and Tropical Fruit for Smoothies. The best deals I’ve found is the Wellsley Farms brand from BJs Wholesale Club. In the video, I referenced this cherry chocolate smoothie and this Caribbean breeze smoothie.
  2. Wild Blueberries. You can find these at most grocery stores, but we get a giant bag from BJs Wholesale Club. Blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses and great for the brain!
  3. Bananas. Peel ’em and freeze ’em! Use them in smoothies and to make this quick and easy banana ice cream.
  4. Veggies. We tend to keep frozen peas and edamame, two plant-based protein sources that are perfect for soups, stews, stir fries or salads. My favorite brand is Cascadian Farm because they are organic and not genetically modified.
  5. Homemade Broth. This is one of the best ways to reduce food waste because you use scraps from vegetables to make broth instead of throwing them away. Check out this post for a simple recipe for how to make your own vegetable broth from scraps! You can do the same for bone broth.
  6. Spinach. Do you ever buy those large clamshell containers of spinach and get to the end of the week having used less than you anticipated? Do you sense that the funky, slimy spinach smell is about to take over your fridge? I’ve got a solution! First of all, ALWAYS put a dry paper towel on top of the greens after opening containers like that to absorb moisture. Once you’re finished with the fresh spinach, you can just take the container (remove paper towel) and put it in the freezer. I use the frozen spinach in smoothies, omelets and soups.
  7. Brown Rice. Sometimes you’re in a pinch and don’t want to wait an hour to cook a pot of brown rice. If you don’t want to purchase an Instant Pot to expedite the cooking process, you can find frozen bags of precooked brown rice in just about any grocery store or Target. You typically get three bags in a box, and Trader Joe’s has one of the best deals on the boxes. We use brown rice in soups, stir fries, and other quick dishes.
  8. Swapples Frozen Waffles. Obsessed? That might be an understatement. Swapples put a new spin on a traditional waffle. They are made without gluten-containing ingredients, vegan, and paleo and can be used as the base of or topping for just about any meal. My favorites are the Tomato Pizza version (top with smashed avocado!) and Blueberry. You can find them in Maryland, Norther Virginia, and DC, and they are expanding into other markets now, too, including NYC! Use their store locator to find them near you.
  9. Hilary’s Eat Well Veggie Burgers and Mini Burger Bites. You have to add these to your grocery list this week. Their certified organic ingredients are real food, minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible. Their veggie burgers do not have any weird, non-food ingredients in them and are corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. They taste DELICIOUS and my favorite flavors are the Mediterranean Burger Bites and the Hemp & Greens full-sized veggie burgers. They also sell salad dressings and are always coming out with new products. Use their store locator to find out where to buy them near you.

Two that I left off the list because we didn’t have any on hand at the moment were:

  • Beetnik Meals. They are one of the only frozen meals that I recommend because of the integrity of their ingredients…and they taste delicious! Bill takes them to school with him for lunches, and they are filling, tasty and nourishing. They’re the next best thing to homemade. Find them here.
  • Wild Caught Salmon. MOMs Organic Market sells a brand of this product, but you can also find it online at Vital Choice. Here’s what Bon Appetit has to say about wild caught salmon: “A happier, healthier, free-roaming fish delivers more salmon-y flavor and color. The color will be more intense and vibrant than that of the farm-raised stuff—more red-orange than pink— as will the flavor, which will be a lot more savory and complex.” Enough said 🙂

How about you? What are some of your freezer staples?

I’m Into It: HotelTonight, A Song & Ice Cream

What an exciting week it’s been!

Bill and I have been in Colorado celebrating our anniversary and a cousin’s wedding. We’re about two hours south of Denver in a small town called Salida. It is absolutely stunning out here!

I’m glad you guys have been so excited about the I’m Into It! series, so I have three more recommendations coming your way, including one that we used while on this trip!

App: HotelTonight

I first found out about this app last year when Bill and I were traveling to Wilmington, North Carolina to stay with my grandmother before he did the Half Ironman in Raleigh that weekend. It was approaching midnight and we still had almost 3 hours to go in the trip and know it would not have been smart to keep driving.

I discovered the app HotelTonight, which gives you great last-minute deals on top-rated hotels. You can book tonight, tomorrow or seven days out and will see the difference in price between what the hotel usually charges and the deal they are offering you. You book it through the app, quickly and easily, and the one stipulation is that you can’t cancel, and the fees are nonrefundable. But if you’re looking for a room with that little notice, chances are that you wouldn’t cancel anyway. I also like how they categorize the hotel by “type” (Basic, Solid, Hip, Luxe) and show you customer ratings.

On a recent trip to NYC, we had a less than awesome Airbnb experience and decided to bail on our place the second night because the accommodations were so awful. At 11:30 on a Friday night, we found a room at the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Avenue and 45th for $115 for the following night! That was cheaper than the Airbnb room and SO much better! We’re currently in Denver celebrating our anniversary and a cousin’s wedding, and the first day we landed in Denver, we didn’t have a place to stay and booked one that morning through the HotelTonight app and had plenty of options.

Try It: Download the app in the app store. And if you want to save $25 on your first booking, use promo code RADRUCKENMILLER.

Food: Nada Moo Ice Cream

I apologize in advance if this recommendation causes you to consume copious amounts of ice cream 🙂

I was at the Green Goddess Market in Lake Placid, NY a few weeks ago and was using a birthday gift card my mom had given me. I was trying to figure out what I could buy there that I couldn’t find at stores back home and came across Nada Moo Mmm…Maple Pecan dairy-free ice cream!

HOLY COW.

It was smooth and creamy and delicious, not icy like a lot of non-dairy ice cream can be. Not only that, but each serving of that flavor had 5 grams of fiber and only 8 grams of sugar (about half of what most ice cream contains!). You never see a single digit sugar content in ice cream that tastes this good. It’s still a treat and not a daily staple, but it is an upgraded one! Another perk about this brand is that it’s certified fair trade, meaning the people who make it receive a fair wage and are treated like human beings, and it’s organic! With fun flavors like “That Snickerdoodle Dough”, “Vanilla…Ahhh!” and “Lotta Mint Chip,” you’re going to want to grab a pint of Nada Moo the next time you’re at the grocery store!

Try It: You can search your zip code on their website to find where it’s sold near you or you can buy it at Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter, and Roots Market, if you live in the Baltimore/DC area.

Song: You’re Gonna Be Okay by Brian & Jenn Johnson

As you guys know, one of the things I like to do on this blog is share honest and open stories about challenges I face to create a space where you can feel safe to do the same in your own life. One of my goals is to be a light in the world and bring hope to dark places, so as much as I share uplifting quotes and other forms of positivity, I also live in the real world and know that life isn’t rainbows and butterflies all the time.

In those moments, we seek comfort.

That’s what this song has been for me.

A few months ago when I was in the early stages of recovering from Epstein-Barr Virus, I was driving home from a meeting and heard this song. It made me think of my friend whose sister has been dealing with the impact of a horrific brain injury since last June and hasn’t been the same since. I thought of another friend who lost her first child in the third trimester of her pregnancy. I thought of yet another friend who has been battling a lifetime of autoimmune conditions and struggles to hold on to hope each day.

This song brought a sense of peace and comfort to all of those situations. I hope it does the same for you. Share it with someone you know who is going through a tough time. Maybe it bring them hope and encouragement.

And that’s a wrap, my friends.

What are you into this week? Feel free to leave your thoughts below! I love hearing from you.

 

I’m Into It: Ravensburger, Winks & Wise + Well

What a WEEK it’s been, my friends!

I’ll be sharing more about the full story with lots more pictures in an upcoming post, but a 50-foot maple tree in our backyard came down the other day as a result of a terrible storm here in Baltimore!

Dealing with our insurance company, roofer, tree remover, fence company and neighbors to sort out all of the logistics has not been the best ending to my week. But I’ll be sharing lessons learned in the process in a future post.

After the wonderful feedback you gave me when I announced the new “I’m Into It” series last week, I was excited to put together this week’s version!

PUZZLES: Ravensburger and Springbok

I was talking to my friend Jenn at the beginning of the summer, and she shared with me how she was committing to being more intentional about how she spent her time. No more Netflix binges or just spending hours watching TV each night of the summer. She would ask more of herself than that.

I started thinking about it. How often do we just eat dinner and then plop on the couch for the rest of the night watching hours of TV until one of us falls asleep?

A LOT.

I thought about how doing that didn’t make me feel connected to Bill at all. It usually meant I was staying up later than I needed to be watching yet another Jimmy Fallon episode that would be there in the morning.

So, I talked to Bill about it and asked if we could do something else that might help us feel more connected instead of checked out.

We decided to start putting together puzzles…and listening to Les Miserables or Broadway radio on Pandora. It really makes the night! I could listen to “On My Own” a thousand times over. Any other Les Mis fans out there?

This Beauty & the Beast puzzle has been my favorite so far. They even hid characters from other Disney movies – Bambi, Pinocchio, and the mice from Cinderella – in the puzzle!

The best brand of puzzles I’ve found is Ravensburger. The pieces snap together, so you know for sure when you’ve found a match. Springbok is another good brand, but some of their pieces are cut in odd ways, so it’s tough to figure out which ones are corners and which are not. Either way, I’d encourage you to buy yourself a puzzle this month to cut down on TV time!

Try It: Here is Ravensburger’s website and Springbok. We’ve bought a few at Barnes & Noble, but you can also buy puzzles on Amazon.

Blog: Wise + Well

The nature of my work gives me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. Just over a year ago, I was giving a presentation at my company for our clients, and afterwards, I met Leigh Winters. I had been told that we needed to meet and that we’d have a lot in common.

She is delightful…and so is her blog, Wise + Well!

Leigh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the blog, Wise + Well. She is a clinical researcher at Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry’s New York State Psychiatric Institute. In addition to studying and researching mind-body and mindfulness practices, Leigh is also a certified aromatherapist and Ayurveda specialist. She holds dual master’s degrees from Columbia University in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience.

Her blog covers a wide range of holistic health topics, including aromatherapy, mindfulness, nutrition, fitness, and nature, among others. She is a regular contributor to the online lifestyle website, mindbodygreen, and her posts are so thorough, engaging and easy to read. Applying her training and the latest research, she wrote this recent Essential Oils Beginner Guide that is SO incredibly helpful. We’ve been using essential oils in our home for the past two and a half years, so I appreciate having the scientific backing for them from Leigh! You have to check out her beautiful Instagram feed, too!

Follow: Check out Wise + Well on their Blog, Instagram, and Facebook.

Book: When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life by SQuire Rushnell

My friend Samantha recommended that I read this book several months ago, so I took it on vacation with me and read it.

I tend to be someone who looks for meaning in any situation, especially challenging ones, because I believe we can learn lessons or receive gifts if we are open to it. In this book are dozens of stories of people whose lives were, in many cases, radically transformed as a result of seeming coincidences.  The author uses the term “God Winks” to describe these messages given to us on our journey, nudging us along the grand path that has been designed especially for us.

One of the stories, in particular, stood out to and stuck with me. Beth’s father had just passed away suddenly after a heart transplant. As she’s at the airport terminal crying, a man puts his hand on her shoulder and asks if she’s all right. She looks at him and recognizes him.

Kevin Costner.

He comforted her as she shared her story through tears and then invited her to join him at the set of a movie he was working on nearby. To make a long story short, Beth ended up visiting the set and meeting the film’s public relations executive, whom she ended up marrying within the year!

A horrible situation (the death of her father) ultimately led to a life-changing joy (meeting her husband). If you want to be uplifted, encouraged and inspired, I invite you to check out When God Winks!

Read It: Find it at a bookstore or online at Amazon.

That’s a wrap, my friends! What are YOU into this week? Feel free to let me know in the comments below 🙂 Have a great week!

New Series: “I’m Into It!”

I’ve been away on vacation since late last week in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. My family has a house up here, and we have spent part of every summer up here since I was a little girl. It’s my little slice of heaven on earth. 

Spending time away from all of the distractions and pressures of everyday life is always so restorative for me. My creative juices start flowing and I’m drawn to write again, something I love to do but don’t often make time for at home. As I open up space and give my mind permission to wander, all sorts of new ideas come to me, including what I’m sharing today!

Over the past few years, I’ve also found that people frequently ask me about my recommendations for a variety of things – from food brands and supplements to books, gadgets, bloggers, recipes and words of inspiration. I thought it would be helpful to do a biweekly recap (that feels reasonable to start!) of what I’m exploring and post it on my blog, to share with all of you!

I’ll try to keep it simple and share with you maybe three to five things every other week in a series called, “I’m Into It”.

I’m excited to start inviting you into my world more regularly and taking some of the headache out of the decision-making process for you. I’ll put some affiliate links in the post to support my blogging activities, but I will never in a million years promote something I don’t use myself and believe in, so you have my word that it’s legit if it’s on here!

For those of you who are new to my blog (welcome!), you’ll notice that all of my products recommendations are gluten-free, dairy-free and focus on simple ingredients that we can pronounce and find in the store. To learn more about my personal food philosophy, check out this post I wrote earlier this year.

I will be sharing these posts on the weekend, but I was so ready to get moving that I’m going to give you the first one today, on a Tuesday 🙂 

Let’s dive in to the very FIRST post in this fun new series.

Book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget.”

As I shared in my most recent post, I’ve been healing from Epstein-Barr Virus and taking steps to restore my immune system after a lifetime of pushing myself too hard. I connected immediately with this passage from the book about the process of healing.

Grab your tissues. In this heart-reaching story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon whose life takes a sudden turn when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, you’ll be taken on a journey of joy, inspiration and sadness. The story is an inspiring testament to the power of the human spirit and the importance of leaving a legacy.

Read It: Order it here.

Supplement: Vital Proteins Collagen Proteins

My sister, Jane, did her third Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid, New York this past Sunday, which marks the 10th time someone in my family has completed the grueling 140.6-mile race.

In the days leading to the race, we always scope out the scene at the Ironman Village, where the athletes check in and amass a collection of Ironman gear and performance-enhancing products.

I was excited to spot the Vital Proteins booth as I wandered through the village.

I’m a fan of their products for a few reasons. They prioritize quality and purity in their products. They source from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals. My favorite product, collagen peptides, contain only one ingredient, mix easily into smoothies and liquids and are flavorless and odorless. One serving contains a whopping 20 grams of pure protein, which contributes to feelings of fullness and staves off cravings. I also use their bone broth and tried their newer line of collagen beauty water (lavender lemon, cucumber aloe or melon mint), which was refreshing and delicious! 

Try It: Order Vital Proteins products here.

Product: Numi Organic Tea – Gratitude

I have a little bit of an obsession with and a growing collection of herbal teas. Drinking herbal tea is a quick and easy way to boost your immune system, balance your mood, and promote healing by reducing inflammation. The exact combination of herbs and spices determines which purpose a particular tea serves, but I was so drawn to this one because of the name of the tea (Gratitude!) and the specific blend of ingredients.

Anti-viral licorice, anti-inflammatory turmeric, calming chamomile, and libido-boosting maca (a Peruvian herb from the cruciferous veg family) are just a few of the supercharged ingredients in this amazing tea. Holy basil, tulsi and ashwaganda are three additional ingredients that have adaptogenic qualities. Adaptogens (notice the root word, “adapt”) help our body respond better to stress by promoting a sense of balance and calm. You can get all of them in supplement form, but why not just drink a cozy cup of tea instead?

Try It: Order online here or buy in person at The Vitamin Shoppe and at some Whole Foods Markets.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve used any of these products or read the book, When Breath Becomes Air.

17 Supercharged Plant-Powered Salads

A few weeks ago, I taught a cooking class for a client in DC about how to supercharge your salads. I summed up the keys to building an upgraded and anti-cancer salad in my last blog post here, so make sure to check that out if you missed it.

We made three different salads – two with greens as the base and a third with grains (quinoa) as the base. All of them were a hit, so I thought I’d share the recipes we made along with a few more of my favorite salads, so you can give them a try!

Let’s dive into the recipes! These are great for any meal of the day (yes, even breakfast!) and perfect for potlucks. Kale salads hold up especially well for a few days in the fridge, but make sure to keep them chilled to avoid food poisoning, especially at outdoor picnics.

Enjoy! 🙂

Strawberry, Fennel & Arugula Salad with a Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette by Rebecca Katz

Sundried Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad

Spring Farmer’s Market Salad with Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Rainbow Super Food Kale Salad (my most requested recipe!)

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Kale Caesar Salad by oh she glows

Mediterranean Spring Salad with Easy Avocado Dressing

Kale Salad with Avocado Tahini Sauce by Love & Lemons

The Easiest Kale Salad Ever

Kale Waldorf Salad by Whole Foods Market Recipes

Simple Beauty-Boosting Salad with Pesto Dressing

A Simple Salad for Salad Haters with Creamy Basil Dressing by Sondi Bruner

Chickpea & Sundried Tomato Kale Salad

Kale Salad with Peach Vinaigrette by The Detoxinista

Cherry Tomato, Asparagus & Quinoa Spring Salad

Watermelon Mojito Salad by Stupid Easy Paleo

Cumin & Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Eat Your Greens Chickpea Medley by oh she glows

What are some of your favorite salad recipes? Feel free to share in the comment section below! I always love trying new recipes.

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!

Print

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!

Print

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!

Print

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!

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