Month: February 2014

3 Chocolately Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

3 Chocolatey Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Why Broccoli Is Awesome…and The BEST Roasted Broccoli Recipe

When I was a kid, I put parmesan cheese on EVERYTHING.

One of the fun things I used to do at dinner was pretend it was “snowing” on the “trees” and coated my steamed broccoli with a generous helping of Kraft parmesan cheese. I wouldn’t eat broccoli without it!

Since then, I’ve discovered that cheese and other dairy products were the key triggers for my ear and upper respiratory infections as a child and young adult and can wreak havoc on the body…so no more snowy trees for me. The good news is that I’m feeling so much better now and have gotten rid of those issues completely. I’ll be writing more about my personal experience with the downsides of dairy in future posts (If you’re interested, start watching the video on the link at around minute 5:00).

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to enjoy broccoli without cheese. One of my favorite ways to prepare broccoli is roasting it. If you grew up eating overcooked, canned, or steamed-to-death vegetables, give them at least one more chance and roast them. You will be amazed by how delicious and flavorful they are!

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Broccoli is an incredibly healthy food and is also one of the GBOMBS. Here are just a few reasons why broccoli is awesome and we should eat more of it!

  • It’s anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. Inflammation and toxicity are the two main reasons we are so sick and holding on to extra weight, so we want to do as much as we can to reduce them!
  • It’s rich in fiber. Fiber keeps us full, so we eat less, and it keeps things moving in our digestive system.
  • It contains lutein, which helps to fight heart disease by preventing the thickening of arteries.
  • It’s rich in calcium. Calcium strengthens and promotes bone growth and health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

Broccoli retains the most nutrients when eaten raw or lightly steamed or cooked, but most of us aren’t eating enough vegetables anyway, so it’s better to eat them roasted than not eat them at all, so roast away!

Now that we’ve established how great broccoli is, let’s talk about what to do with it.

This week in our Hometown Harvest bag, we got a hefty bunch of broccoli, and when I got home from a four-day business trip, I was ready to play in the kitchen and try a new recipe. 

This garlicky broccoli recipe is going to become a staple in our house. It’s SUPER simple and tasty. You are going to LOVE it.

It’s more fitting to call it what it really is…Crack Broccoli.

Seriously, it’s that good…you may have to stop yourself from eating the whole darn tray. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Garlicky Roasted (AKA Crack) Broccoli

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I made a few modifications to the original ingredient list and point them out below.

Ingredients

1 pound broccoli
1/4 cup olive oil (or coconut oil!)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (we substituted raw apple cider vinegar because we didn’t have rice vinegar)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges, to garnish

Here is the full recipe from one of my favorite recipe bloggers, The Kitchn! (and, nope, that’s not a spelling error 🙂 just a cool name for a website!)

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

Soup’s On! My Favorite Cookbook & A Soup You Have to Try {Vegan, GBOMBS}

I was eagerly anticipating a long weekend away to the southern coast of Portugal with several friends from my program in Spain…until something awful happened.

IMG_0281

I got food poisoning.

After all, who doesn’t want to deal with embarrassing GI issues in a foreign country hours away from home and everything familiar? I’ll be honest, it was a pretty miserable and uncomfortable week, and aside from the temporary weight loss, nothing good came of it.

I told my Spanish mom, Matilde, that all I wanted was crushed ice and “cookies without sugar” because I didn’t know how to say “Saltine crackers” in Spanish.

Well, I was told that ice is “dirty” so I shouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t get anywhere with my description of Saltines.

Bummer.

So, aside from some physical discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration, since I had to delay my trip to Portugal, what did my illness mean?

Several days of clear fish broth until I felt better.

Since I had never really eaten any soup other than Campbell’s less-than-impressive and rather sparse chicken noodle soup and didn’t like seafood, eating fish broth was a real treat.

Fortunately, over the next few months, Matilde redeemed the fish broth by introducing me to a variety of other soups and stews that were brimming with vegetables and bursting with deep flavors.  They were filling, warming, and comforting.

We love soups and chilis now and prepare them almost weekly this time of year.

IMG_3230

Here are a few reasons why we are souper excited about soup!

  • They’re cheap. Beans, vegetables, broth, greens, and grains are the base ingredients in most soups. They can be purchased in bulk and are really inexpensive.
  • They last for days, which saves time and money. Cook once, eat three (or more!) times. I love finding ways to save time in the kitchen, especially during the workweek. By taking some time to prepare a soup one day, we save ourselves time (and money!) preparing lunch and several dinners during the rest of the week. Now that football season is over, try to commit to making a soup on Sunday afternoon, and don’t worry about prepping dinner until Tuesday at the earliest!
  • They’re low maintenance and easy to prepare. The great thing about soup is that you can “set it and forget it” by putting it in a crock pot or just leaving it on a low simmer on the stove. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors build. Mmmm…
  • They’re healthy comfort food. Comfort food makes us happy because it is reminds us of home, family or friends and often has a very traditional and simple preparation. Soups are warming, soothing, rich and often reflective of our heritage, too, and there is something really satisfying about that.
  • They’re a great way to get in the healthiest foods on the planet, including leafy greens, beans, and onions! Check out this recipe for an amazing Tuscan Bean Soup we made the other day. We incorporated our Tuscan (AKA dino) kale from Hometown Harvest along with other GBOMBS foods like beans and onions. The addition of red wine added a sweetness and richness that I can still taste!IMG_3235

As a gift to celebrate my completion of graduate school, my mother-in-law gave me what is now one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source is written by Terry Walters, a fellow IIN graduate.

From the Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (you will never want store-bought salad dressing again!), Three Bean Chili, and Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creminis to the Ginger and Pear Crisp and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, we have enjoyed over a dozen of the wholesome, nourishing recipes from Terry’s Clean Food cookbook.

Clean Food

Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!

The Tuscan Bean Soup was the most recent recipe we prepared from Clean Food and is one we will definitely be making again.

You can check out other delicious soups posted on my Pinterest boards!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Feel free to share below! 

Healthy Living Made Easy…It’s In the Bag! (& a GBOMBS Recipe!)

I love grocery stores. 

When I was a kid, grocery shopping meant spending Saturday morning with my mom and getting free food samples along with an ooey gooey slice of Mama Ilardo’s cheese pizza at Metro Supermarket.

Sometimes, we would venture to Belvedere Market where we would take in the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans and the sweet smell of local fruits and vegetables.

When we bought our house in August, the fact that MOMs and (if we’re feeling ambitious) Trader Joe’s were within walking distance was a big selling point.

As much as we like grocery shopping, there are times when we want to change things up. And even though we love to cook and try new recipes, our meals can get stagnant sometimes and we may need a little nudge to try something different.

A few months ago, my hubby and I found out a super cool service that we just started using to keep our weekly menus exciting. We still go to the grocery store for add-on items, some pantry staples, and sometimes just to explore, but the bulk of what we make during the week is inspired by our weekly delivery from Hometown Harvest.

love finding things that make being healthy easier, more convenient and affordable.

IMG_3240

We like Hometown Harvest because their produce comes almost exclusively from the local area during the growing season, and they use out-of-area organic family farms in the winter. We know the food is local, sustainable, and safe.

Each week, they deliver a customized bag of fruits, veggies and other local agriculture items, like farm fresh, pasture-raised eggs, right to our doorstep. We select our bag contents earlier in the week, leave out a cooler on our porch, and when we wake up on Friday morning, it’s like Christmas and our cooler is magically filled!

What was in last week’s bag? Fuji apples, broccolini, dino kale (AKA Tuscan kale), Roma tomatoes, red skin potatoes, avocados, limes, green beans, carrots, cremini mushrooms, red onions and pasture-raised eggs.

HometownHarvest-Logo-Final (1)The cost for all of this (including delivery)? About $45, certainly no more than we would have paid for the same items in the grocery store, especially considering the quality, freshness, and taste.

Hometown Harvest recently added lots of other items we plan to try in the future, including meats and fish, dips and salsas, nuts and seeds, grains and pastas, pantry items, and coffee, all from local vendors. You can see all of the options on this page.

Here is a map of their service area.  If where you live isn’t covered yet, you can contact them through the link on that page and ask them about delivering to your area OR check out the Local Harvest website to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (great way to save on fresh produce!), farmer’s market, or other provider of local agriculture near you.

Once we have all of our ingredients and know what’s “in our basket,” we get to pretend like we’re on the show Chopped and be creative and have fun with our food!

Last weekend we tried out this recipe for a Ginger Greens & Mushroom Stir Fry, so we could use several of the items in our bag, which also happen to be GBOMBS (broccolini, onions, and cremini mushrooms). We made a few modifications:IMG_3252

  • We cooked in coconut oil instead of olive oil (coconut oil is more heat stable, so it doesn’t turn rancid when heated like olive oil does).
  • Didn’t have bok choy so we left it out, but if you have it, definitely use it!
  • Served it on top of a bed of quinoa.
  • Added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish it off.

It was a delicious and flavorful meal and full of some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet.

Have you ever used a service like this or participated in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

I’d love to hear from you!

Healthy Living Made Easy…It's In the Bag! (& a GBOMBS Recipe!)

I love grocery stores. 

When I was a kid, grocery shopping meant spending Saturday morning with my mom and getting free food samples along with an ooey gooey slice of Mama Ilardo’s cheese pizza at Metro Supermarket.

Sometimes, we would venture to Belvedere Market where we would take in the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans and the sweet smell of local fruits and vegetables.

When we bought our house in August, the fact that MOMs and (if we’re feeling ambitious) Trader Joe’s were within walking distance was a big selling point.

As much as we like grocery shopping, there are times when we want to change things up. And even though we love to cook and try new recipes, our meals can get stagnant sometimes and we may need a little nudge to try something different.

A few months ago, my hubby and I found out a super cool service that we just started using to keep our weekly menus exciting. We still go to the grocery store for add-on items, some pantry staples, and sometimes just to explore, but the bulk of what we make during the week is inspired by our weekly delivery from Hometown Harvest.

love finding things that make being healthy easier, more convenient and affordable.

IMG_3240

We like Hometown Harvest because their produce comes almost exclusively from the local area during the growing season, and they use out-of-area organic family farms in the winter. We know the food is local, sustainable, and safe.

Each week, they deliver a customized bag of fruits, veggies and other local agriculture items, like farm fresh, pasture-raised eggs, right to our doorstep. We select our bag contents earlier in the week, leave out a cooler on our porch, and when we wake up on Friday morning, it’s like Christmas and our cooler is magically filled!

What was in last week’s bag? Fuji apples, broccolini, dino kale (AKA Tuscan kale), Roma tomatoes, red skin potatoes, avocados, limes, green beans, carrots, cremini mushrooms, red onions and pasture-raised eggs.

HometownHarvest-Logo-Final (1)The cost for all of this (including delivery)? About $45, certainly no more than we would have paid for the same items in the grocery store, especially considering the quality, freshness, and taste.

Hometown Harvest recently added lots of other items we plan to try in the future, including meats and fish, dips and salsas, nuts and seeds, grains and pastas, pantry items, and coffee, all from local vendors. You can see all of the options on this page.

Here is a map of their service area.  If where you live isn’t covered yet, you can contact them through the link on that page and ask them about delivering to your area OR check out the Local Harvest website to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (great way to save on fresh produce!), farmer’s market, or other provider of local agriculture near you.

Once we have all of our ingredients and know what’s “in our basket,” we get to pretend like we’re on the show Chopped and be creative and have fun with our food!

Last weekend we tried out this recipe for a Ginger Greens & Mushroom Stir Fry, so we could use several of the items in our bag, which also happen to be GBOMBS (broccolini, onions, and cremini mushrooms). We made a few modifications:IMG_3252

  • We cooked in coconut oil instead of olive oil (coconut oil is more heat stable, so it doesn’t turn rancid when heated like olive oil does).
  • Didn’t have bok choy so we left it out, but if you have it, definitely use it!
  • Served it on top of a bed of quinoa.
  • Added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish it off.

It was a delicious and flavorful meal and full of some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet.

Have you ever used a service like this or participated in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

I’d love to hear from you!

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