Tag: nourishing meals

14 Valentine’s Day Sweet Treat Recipes {Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free}

Bill and I love holidays and find ways to make them special. My family always did that growing up, so it’s a tradition I’ve carried into my marriage.

This past week, I thought it would be neat to buy a card and a treat for Bill for each day leading up to Valentine’s Day.

I put a card and a treat in a brown paper bag with “Happy <3 Week” written on it and put it in his backpack each day.

heartweek

It was fun for me to do and I know it will be at least one bright spot in the midst of his hectic days as an elementary school phys ed teacher. I’m not sure what he has planned for this weekend, but I’m looking forward to it!

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, one thing is for sure – BOTH of us love chocolate.

We are fans and followers of our favorite Baltimore-based chocolatier, Jinji, and know that Valentine’s Day is not complete unless we are eating some of her amazingly delicious chocolate creations. It’s seriously the purest, richest chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

truffles

Truffles galore! They’re always so creative and decadent.

If you can’t make it out to your favorite chocolate shop, or you just want to make a delicious sweet treat at home, try one of these 14 Valentine’s Day-worthy recipes below.

They are all dairy-free, gluten-free, and made without refined sugar. Many of them are paleo-friendly as well, so give at least one of them a try!Vday Collage.jpg

The first recipe holds a special place in my heart because dark chocolate caramels are pretty much the best thing ever.

Homemade Rolos by oh she glows

homemade-rolos-7159.jpg

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Oatmeal Heart Cookies by Nourishing Meals

oat heart cookies71

Photo Credit: Nourishing Meals. Used with permission.

Sweet & Salty Super Food Chocolate Bark by RNK

Superfood Bark

Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies by RNK

cherry choco chip cookies

Two Layer Raw Chocolate Brownies by oh she glows

Brownies.JPG

Photo credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Cacao Mousse & Raspberry Parfaits by Begin Within Nutrition

mousse

Photo Credit: Begin Within Nutrition. Used with permission.

Cherry Chocolate Brownie Bites by RNK

cherry choco bites

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge by oh she glows

fudge2.jpg

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Easy Strawberry Cheesecake by Kasia Kines (my nutritionist!)

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles by RNK

Dark Chocolate Berry Cups by Yuri Elkaim

Healthy Valentines Berry Cups

Photo Credit: Yuri Elkaim. Used with permission.

Peanut Better Balls by oh she glows

PB Balls.JPG

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Mint Chocolate Crunch Bliss Balls by RNK

Mint Chocolate Chip Bliss Balls

Peanut Butter Cup Pie by The Detoxinista

no bake

What are your favorite sweet treat recipes?

Feel free to leave a comment below and share!

 

Comforting Curried Lentil & Rice Casserole {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Mashed potatoes. Ice cream. Pizza. Mac & cheese.

We tend to crave these foods. They comfort us. We have really great memories of them from a young age.

Broccoli. Brussels sprouts. Carrots. Spinach. Butternut squash. Collard greens. 

Not exactly the same effect, right?

Many of us grew up thinking that only the foods in the first group can taste good and make us feel good.

What if the same foods that “comforted” us also nourished us? It’s possible!

curry

Our body has an amazing ability to adapt our taste buds and preferences, even for those of us who consider ourselves picky eaters.

Trust me. I get it. For most of my life, I was one of the pickiest eaters you would ever meet! I was loyal to my egg noodles, parmesan cheese, chicken fingers, and broccoli. Sauces / soups / salads / seafood / sandwiches / dips / dressing / ethnic food?…no thanks!

I didn’t eat any of it.

Now, Bill and I eat lots of foods that not only make us feel good but also nourish our bodies.

I’m excited to share one of my NEW favorite, Indian-inspired recipes with you! I just made it for the first time last week, and Bill and I loved it. It’s one of the tastiest, most warming and wonderful meals we’ve ever made. We had it for a week and never got sick of it. You have to try it!

Keep in mind…

  • You will do very little cooking. The only thing you actually take time to cook in this recipe are the onions (mixed with spices).
  • The rest of the meal is “set it and forget it.” Once you’ve cooked the onions, you pretty much dump them and all of the other uncooked ingredients into a casserole dish and leave it alone in your oven until it’s finished cooking. It’s almost impossible to mess this one up!
  • This recipe makes A LOT of food. Perfect if you’re having lots of friends over for dinner or want a meal you can cook once and eat about 4-5 times. I cooked it in a deep lasagna pan.
  • Don’t be intimidated by longer ingredient lists. Just because an ingredient list looks longer than you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s more difficult to make. A lot of the time, our ingredient lists may appear longer because half of the ingredients are herbs and spices. Fortunately, they don’t make the recipe take any longer to prepare but do add tons of flavor! Just make a list and pick them up on your next shopping trip.

casserole bannerIngredients

a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil OR coconut oil (we used coconut oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh turmeric, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups french lentils or green lentils
1 cup long grain brown rice
5 cups water
1 can coconut milk (full fat)

Click here for the full recipe from Nourishing Meals!

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup! My Top Healthy Picks {Gluten Free, Dairy-Free!}

In the midst of all of the challenges in our country right now, I have a lot to be thankful for, including all of YOU who have been SO supportive of me and my continued work on this blogging adventure.

I am SUPER excited to spend most of the day in the kitchen Thursday preparing yummy and nourishing food for my family. I love them and want them to be well!

thanksgiving-1733126_1920

I love how colorful the Thanksgiving plate can be, how amazing our house smells as everything is cooking and all of the flavors are coming together, and taking the time to reflect on what matters most to me.

Here are a few of the recipes I’ve shared on the blog before (and some I haven’t!) that would be perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner 🙂 Just as a little reminder, all of these recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free, so just about anyone can enjoy them!

Thanksgiving Recipes

  1. Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Parmesan
  2. Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  3. Butternut Squash and Quinoa Harvest Salad
  4. Taste the Rainbow Kale Salad
  5. Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole
  6. Paleo Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares
  7. Maple-Glazed Delicata Squash
  8. The Ultimate Gluten-Free Bread Stuffing {Paleo}
  9. Cran-Apple Quinoa Salad
  10. Paleo Pumpkin Muffins & Bread
  11. Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts
  12. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  13. Green Beans Almondine
  14. Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
  15. Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Cranberries & Pecans
  16. Protein-Packed Pumpkin Spice Dip
  17. Melt In Your Mouth Apple Crisp
  18. How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
brussels-salad-angle


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

People often ask where I look for recipes when I’m trying to come up with ideas. Here are a few of the blogs I will be getting inspirations from this Thanksgiving. Check out the recipes and let me know if you end up trying out any of them!

Healthy & Gluten-Free Recipes from The Detoxinista

I love so many of her recipes and try out at least one of them every couple of weeks. I’m excited to try out her Clean Green Bean Casserole (cut back on the sodium – it’s a LOT!), No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Tarts, and Grain-Free Stuffing, but she highlights a full list of 10 of her favorites here, so be sure to check it out!

Grain-Free Thanksgiving from Against All Grain

I made a recipe for a dense, moist (everyone’s favorite word, right??) pumpkin bread that I saw blogger and author, Danielle Walker, post on Facebook and brought it to my church for our annual Thanksgiving dinner tonight. SO worth it!

Not only that, but Danielle is offering a completely grain-free Thanksgiving recipe ebook for sale on her website for less than $5! Many people who have digestive challenges feel better when they at least temporarily eliminate grains from their diet.

Against All Grain's Pumpkin Bread (Nut-Free, Grain-Free & Dairy-Free!)

Against All Grain’s Pumpkin Bread (Nut-Free, Grain-Free & Dairy-Free!)

Nourishing Meals by Tom Malterre

What caught my eye was this mouth-watering picture of an Apple Cider & Herb Brined Turkey. This Wild Rice Stuffing recipe with apples, cranberries, and sage looks (and sound tasty), too, so I may try it!

I also happen to think the two Nourishing Meals cookbooks are FANTASTIC, and I highly recommend them.

Nomtastic Thanksgiving Recipes from nomnompaleo

I love the playful vibe of this blog and appreciate how simple and fun their approach is. Their Roasted Garlic Autumn Root Vegetable Mash, Brussels Sprouts Chips (um, yes, please!!) and Cran-Cherry Sauce are all on my list of menu possibilities.

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes from oh she glows

Angela posts amazing recipes (and beautiful photos). I made my own version of a sweet potato casserole tonight but think this one looks pretty awesome, too! This Gooey Pumpkin Spice Latte Chocolate Pudding Cake sounds as incredible as the pictures look and may be worth trying.

And now for a little gravy on top…

For whatever reason, I’ve never been a fan of gravy, but I know it’s most people’s favorite thing about the meal, so here is a recipe for a gluten-free gravy and another for a vegan mushroom gravy recipe to check out! Both have good reviews. Bon Appetit also wrote a simple post about how to make gluten-free gravy, and you can check it out here.

What’s YOUR favorite Thanksgiving dish? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

Go From Nacho Cheese to “Nooch”o Cheese!

Despite the fact that I was a lifelong lover of dairy products like yogurt (ate it every day!), ice cream, string cheese, and Parmesan cheese, I cut out dairy products a couple of years ago.

It turns out that dairy products were triggering a number of health issues I had for most of my life – from allergies, congestion, sore throats, ear infections, indigestion and acid reflux to skin issues, gas and bloating. I used to get congested frequently, had chronic ear infections (which meant lots of antibiotics), and took Claritin and Zyrtec for seasonal allergies, along with reflux reducing meds like Prilosec (for 10 years!).

For me, cutting out dairy has been one of the keys to begin healing my body, not being sick so often (almost never!)…and getting off of those medications naturally. It’s been pretty amazing!

Check out my *NEW* Pinterest board – Deliciously Dairy Free – for additional articles on the topic as well as dozens of recipes for non-dairy alternatives to foods like cheese, cheesecake, ice cream, milkshakes, dips and dressings. I will be featuring many of them in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned!

One of the questions people often ask me is, How do you live without cheese? I could never give up cheese.”  The short answer is there isn’t an “exact” match, BUT I’ve found some great options to use as replacements!

One of those foods is nutritional yeast (AKA “nooch”).

Nutritional yeast! I bought this kind at Wegmans, but you can also get it at Whole Foods, MOMs, or online

Nutritional yeast! I bought this kind at Wegmans, but you can also get it at Whole Foods, MOMs, Roots, or online at Amazon, Vitacost or other health food retailers.

A few years ago, I had never even heard of nutritional yeast and certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was something edible. This is kind of like the eggplant naming question…couldn’t they have picked a more appealing name??

Despite its odd name, this stuff has been a staple in our pantry for the past 3 years. You can find it online, or at Wegmans, MOMs, Whole Foods, Roots, or other natural food stores.

Here’s the 411 on why you might want to get yourself some “nooch”!

  • If you don’t eat dairy (or are trying to reduce it!), it’s a great substitute for cheese-based preparations. It has a “cheesy” smell and taste to it.
  • It’s a great source of protein and contains essential amino acids (protein building blocks!).
  • It’s loaded with vitamins, especially B vitamins, which are important in hundreds of your body’s processes, including staying energized and fighting stress.
  • It’s low in sodium.

If you can get past the weird name, it’s worth giving this stuff a shot. 

I will be posting my favorite “nooch” recipes in the coming weeks – check out the list below for a sneak peek of what I will be making and sharing!

This is what "nooch" looks like out of the container

This is what “nooch” looks like out of the container

  • Herby homemade popcorn
  • Salad dressings
  • Kale chips
  • “Cheezy” curly kale salad
  • Dairy-free “cheese” sauce for mac & cheese or nachos
  • Nutty rawmesan cheese (a substitute for my beloved Parm cheese!)

Want to learn more about nooch? Click here or here!

If you’re interested in going dairy-free and what it could look like for you, check out this 28-Day Dairy Free Challenge with Dr. Oz or this information on elimination diets from my favorite blog, Nourishing Meals!

Stay tuned for future recipe posts featuring this quirky but healthy ingredient!

What “Eating Organic” Means & Why It Matters

A faithful blog reader recently made this comment,

There are so many conflicting “facts” out there it is often hard to know what is right. Maybe you could do something about organic foods sometime. That label seems to be everywhere.”

organicLook no further than today’s post (and the following one) for what you need to know about organic food.

The idea of switching to buying and eating organic food really intimidated me at first and wasn’t something I thought I could do or needed to do.

Did it really matter if something was organic or not? What did it mean if something was labeled “organic”? How could I afford it?

Trying to overhaul everything at once was overwhelming, so I made changes when I was ready over a period of time.

In today’s post, I’ll be clearing up what “organic” means and why eating organic matters. I’ll also share some helpful tips and guidelines that I wish I had known years ago! Check out this video for the scoop or scroll down for a written summary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvabMxTPd48

In addition to what I learned through my health coaching training, one of the key drivers for why I started embracing organic eating was the documentary Food, Inc. It’s powerful and eye-opening. You won’t look at food the same way again after watching it!

Order it on Amazon or check it out on Netflix or Amazon Prime!

Order it on Amazon or check it out on Netflix or Amazon Prime!

Before I delve into what organic means, I want to make one point super clear. Don’t let lack of access to organic fruits and vegetables deter you from eating them. Dr. Micheal Greger, found of NutritionFacts.org and author of the book How Not to Die drives this point home time and time again. He advocates for doing whatever it takes to “stuff your face” with as many veggies as possible, even if they are not organic. His research highlights the lack of evidence showing a significant difference between the vitamin and mineral content of organic vs. conventional produce but does reveal higher antioxidant activity in organic vegetables.

The main reason consumers purchase organic food is due to concerns about the health and safety of their family. Much of our food supply (especially produce) has been raised and grown with the help of man-made pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that kill off creatures, critters and other environmental threats that would otherwise harm our crops.

People who live or work in areas with high pesticide exposure tend to have higher rates of a variety of chronic health conditions, including brain anomalies, with children being the most susceptible. Unfortunately, long-term clinical studies about the effects of pesticides and genetically modified foods on humans are lacking, so we are a little in the dark at this point.

Because these synthetic chemicals haven’t been around that long and we haven’t studied their long-term health effects on humans, I choose to eat organic as often as possible as a precautionary measure.

Despite the mounting evidence to do so, even thinking about “going organic” can be overwhelming and confusing. Here are a few tidbits of information that should help!

  • Look at the PLU code number listed on the sticker on fruits and vegetables. Any 5-digit sequence that starts with the number “9” is organic. Organic bananas will read “94011.” If the sticker has 4 digits, it was grown “traditionally” with the use of pesticides (i.e., conventional bananas will read “4011”).
  • Organic foods cannot be made with genetically engineered ingredients (AKA GMOs). This is a huge plus because we haven’t been eating genetically engineered food long enough to know the long term health risks, so it’s best to steer clear of GMOs. Click here to learn more about GMOs and how you can benefit from eating GMO-free foods.
  • Animal products (like chicken, eggs, butter, milk) are the most important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticide, antibiotic and cancer-causing growth hormone exposure. Whatever you do, do not skimp here. Bill and I eat fewer animal products than we used to, so it evens out – pay more for better quality and spend about the same as you would eating more of the non-organic animal products.
  • When it comes to fruits and veggies, refer to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. The “Dirty Dozen” are the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides, and the Clean 15 are least likely. So, if you have to make a choice, buy the Dirty Dozen organic and the Clean 15 conventional (non-organic). Download this free app on your phone to learn more or check out this website for the full lists.
  • Keep in mind that “organic” doesn’t always mean healthy. The key thing to remember about processed organic food is this – it’s still processed. One of the most important changes we can make to have more energy, lose weight, and prevent illness is to reduce our intake of processed foods – organic or not!
  • Want to learn more about eating organic? Check out the infographic below or visit the helpful FAQ on this website.

In my next post, I’ll share my top tips for eating organic without going broke!

What Does Organic Really Mean?

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Cranberries & Pecans

Ingredients for this delicious dish :)

Ingredients for this delicious dish 🙂 I made half the recipe, since I didn’t have enough Brussels sprouts!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Brussels sprouts…and I don’t mean the overly cooked, steamed or boiled kind. Roasting and sautéing these little cancer-fighting cabbages is the best way to make them taste absolutely delicious and turn haters into followers!

I tried a new recipe this week from my favorite blog, Nourishing Meals. It’s a variation of one that I’ve made roasted, but this time it was sautéed. This recipe has become another favorite of mine, as it includes Brussels sprouts, shallots, cranberries, and nuts, which are all anti-cancer, anti-fat storage GBOMBS foods.

The combination of the slightly bitter Brussels sprouts, sweet shallots, tart cranberries, buttery pecans and a hint of salt packs this dish with flavor!

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Cranberries & Pecans

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Cranberries & Pecans

This recipe takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I made a few modifications and used pecans instead of the sliced almonds and added some garlic because garlic makes everything taste better!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (add these in when you add in the Brussels sprouts)
  • 2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt (you can find Herbamare at any natural food store or online)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, naturally sweetened if possible
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Click here for the full recipe from Nourishing Meals!

Simply Amazing Chocolate Walnut Brownies

When I was in college, I was known by some of my friends as “Betty Crocker.” In addition to making chocolate chip cookies the size of your face, I was known for baking cookies and cream brownies on a fairly regular basis for my husband’s fraternity brothers. They were always a huge hit!

Even though I cook and bake differently today, it’s important to me that healthier baking doesn’t mean “boring” or “bland” baking. There’s no sense in eating healthy food if it tastes like cardboard, right? The goal to is to make (and then eat!) nourishing food that tastes delicious!

Last night, while Bill and I were watching The Voice, I brought him one of these chocolatey treats to sample, and he quickly gave it the hubby seal of approval. About a half hour later, he asked me if I needed him to sample another one. That was the sign I needed to know that these brownies were winners!

They are full of flavor, have a nice cakey texture, and smell amazing when they’re baking in the oven. We’ll be sharing them with our small group tonight 🙂

Chocolate Walnut Brownies (Gluten-Free!)

Prepping all of the ingredients for these yummy chocolatey brownies!

Prepping all of the ingredients for these yummy chocolatey brownies!

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts (don’t have walnuts? you can use pecans instead)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used cacao powder)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 large organic eggs (if you can’t have eggs, you can try using a flaxseed egg, but I can’t promise you’ll get the same outcome!)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Click here for the full brownie recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Nourishing Meals!

Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate is salad. The end :)

Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate is salad. The end 🙂

 

Healthy & Homemade Donut Holes! {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan}

 “These satisfy my sweet tooth without eating Little Debbie Donut Bites!”

“These won’t make it home!”

And finally, “So, there’s no sugar in these?”

These were just a few of the comments made by a donut-loving friend last night as he was enjoying a new treat I prepared for our church small group that we host each Tuesday.

I had never made them before, so I didn’t know what to expect. They were a huge hit, so you can bet I will be making them again, given the response! I never thought they would be compared to donut holes in terms of taste and texture, but I’ll take it!

They are SO easy to make, too. They’ll become a new staple in your house, I’m sure!

Healthy & Homemade “Donut” Holes

Mmm delicious!

Mmm delicious!

The recipe is adapted from this one on the Nourishing Meals blog. Tom and Ali have some awesome gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free recipes, so I will be featuring more of them in the future.

Ingredients (see notes below regarding substitutions & where to find ingredients*)

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • unsweetened, shredded organic coconut

Directions

  1. In the food processor fitted with the “s” blade, grind the almonds and walnuts until finely ground.
  2. Add the dates, raisins, spices, and salt and grind to a fine meal.
  3. Add the almond butter and vanilla extract and process again until completely mixed.
  4. Form into balls and roll in shredded coconut.

I put mine in the fridge for about an hour, so they would firm up a little bit, but you can enjoy them right away, if you’d like!

Ground

Ground “meal” prior to rolling them into balls

*Ingredient & Substitution Notes

  • Can’t have walnuts or almonds? Use any other nuts or seeds in this recipe instead!
  • You find Medjool dates in the produce section of the grocery store OR online. We buy ours at BJs Wholesale club in a big container. Trader Joe’s also sells them.
  • If you don’t have cardamom, you can sub in ground ginger, more cinnamon or a combo of nutmeg and cinnamon instead.
  • The cheapest place I have found almond butter is at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t have almonds, sub in Sunbutter.
  • You can find unsweetened, shredded coconut in the baking aisle of most grocery stores or online here. We buy ours at MOMs in bulk.

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