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My favorite “clean” convenience food

It’s Favorite Friday time!

I wanted to share with you the go-to meals, snacks and ingredients I keep in my pantry or fridge at all times. These are the brands that have saved me many a hungry lunch or dinner. Of course, fruit, veggies and nuts are the ultimate clean convenience food, but that’s not what this list is about. I wanted to share “real” fast food. So, here they are in no particular order:

Sunshine burgers rock because they taste awesome. That’s all I got to say.

Kidding. They have 5 ingredients and are free of soy and wheat. Put it on a bun, in a wrap, or over a salad. Done & done.

 

No Bull Burgers are even more awesome than Sunshine burgers, but they are harder to find. I’m hoping they’ll expand their market, because the burgers are so. good. Flavorful. Great texture. They do, however, have barley so if you’re gluten free, skip ‘em.

 

Mary’s Gone Crackers are pricey, but filling (so, in theory you don’t have to eat as many). When working with clients, I generally refer to crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, etc. as “filler” snacks, or snacks that have no real value. These are a great alternative to the common cracker. Fiber, protein and a short list of ingredients keep them in the clean category. Try the caraway and herb flavors (those are my favs).

Amy’s Burritos are what I grab when the lunch trifecta strikes: 15 minutes, no food in the house and comfort food cravings. In general, Amy’s are a great alternative to frozen meals because of the high quality, real food ingredients. They even have a “light in sodium” burrito, but it’s not sold at my small town grocery store.

Against the Grain frozen, GF pizza. This is the pizza that saved me when I first went gluten free and was headed to a girls night for pizza and wine. It’s rich and buttery with quality ingredients. A close runner-up is Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix. It’s just a mix, so you have to let it rise for 20 minutes, par-bake it, then top it, but it’s worth it if you have the time.

Endangered Species Chocolate Aww–  Dan and I gave this out as a favor at our wedding. And the tagline is “indulge in a cause.” If you’re going to indulge, why not help endangered animals at the same time, right?

Guayaki Tea Less than half the caffeine in coffee and high in antioxidants and polyphenols. Yerba Mate is said to have the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea,and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage.” Sounds good to me. If you want a unique buzz, try it. My favorite is the Chai Spice Matte. I think you’ll like it.

 

Popcorn in a bag– New obsession. I cannot believe how long it has taken to try this. My mom told me about it. I saw the fun tutorials on pinterest and yet, I still I had doubts. It’s legit, my friends. 1 paper bag (lunch size), 1/4 cup popcorn kernels, 2 minutes in the microwave.

Brown Rice Pasta Occasionally, pasta with store-bought marinara is served for dinner at my house. I always add some spinach to the sauce, maybe some onion, garlic and other veggies and occasionally some beans. Tinkyada brand is the best– it’s widely available and retains its bite (the package instructs you to cook for 15 minutes and if you do, it will be mush. Start testing it at 7 min)

Sunflower seed butter  Another obsession. I have to pace myself with this one.  I love peanut butter toast in the morning, but the peanut butter consumption was getting a little crazy. So, I branched out to try the rest. Sunflower seed butter has a unique taste and this brand is slightly sweetened.

Alright loves– that’s it. My list. Do you have any clean convenience foods that weren’t listed here? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Easy Banana Popsicles (Clean + Healthy)

I am soooo excited that the weather has warmed up! I am a true summer person… long days, vacation, the best seasonal fruit and veggies, warmth, bare skin. Sunshine.

When I was little, my mom would make homemade popsicles from grape juice and lemonade. I remember thinking how cool it was that we made them (I was easily impressed) :) and I’ve always wanted to create my own frozen treats. This is the year my friends!

I had some leftover bananas from a kids’ cooking class, so I froze them and started thinking… banana, chocolate, almond, coconut. Holy Yum.

Banana Chocolate Popsicles
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: Clean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

These frozen treats are incredibly easy to make and very, very tasty. Hemp seeds and almond butter bump up the nutrition, too.
Ingredients
  • 2 bananas, cut in half
  • Almond butter
  • Hemp seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  • ½ bar good quality dark chocolate (choc. chips would also work)
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions
  1. Cut bananas in half and place a popsicle stick in one end
  2. Grab a small cookie sheet and spread out a sheet of parchment paper.
  3. Place bananas on sheet and freeze for about 1 hour.
  4. Just before taking bananas out of the freezer, melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring in between.
  5. Spread almond butter on all sides of the bananas.
  6. Sprinkle a light layer of hemp or chia seeds.
  7. Place on pan and spoon chocolate over bananas.
  8. Quickly top with coconut flakes.
  9. Freeze again for 30 minutes.

Or, you can make them like a banana bonbon :)

What are some of your favorite popsicles– homemade or ice-cream-man bought?

Rainbows to Rubies: My new favorite salad

 

This is the best salad I’ve ever tasted!

High praise from an eight year old who doesn’t like beets or coleslaw.

 

This cutie was in a Nutrition Detectives class I taught and had been lukewarm on all of the foods we made together…mac + cheese, smoothies, kale chips. But, she LOVED this salad.

In an earlier Nutrition Detectives session, we talked about eating the rainbow and how it was important to do that everyday. So for this class, we made a salad that had nearly all of the colors of the rainbow in it. Beets, carrot, red + green cabbage and apple brought together with a tangy yogurt dressing. The hubs and I love it, but I thought it might be a stretch with kiddos.

She looked skeptical as we shredded vegetables and mixed the dressing. However, we tasted it and to my amazement (and her mom’s), it got two thumbs up. It just goes to show that kids will try (and, even like) new foods or foods that were previously on the no way list. Try and see if your little ones like it.

Oh- the name comes from the color. It’s a rainbow when you look at the ingredients, but when combined the beets turn everything a rich ruby color.

 

Rainbows to Rubies: My new favorite salad
Author: 
Recipe type: salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6-8
 

Inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe, this salad is easy to make and a great use for raw beets.
Ingredients
  • 2 TBL greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 5 TBL apple cider vinegar
  • 6 TBL olive oil
  • 1 TBL agave nectar
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 1 raw beet (any color), washed and trimmed
  • ¼ of a red cabbage
  • ¼ of a green cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 apple
  • 2 handfuls of Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)

Instructions
  1. Get out your food processor (if you don’t have one, it’s ok. Just grab a box grater)
  2. Cut your vegetables and fruit into pieces small enough to fit in the food processor chute
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mustard, apple cider vinegar, oil and agave. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Shred vegetables in the food processor. Add the shredded veggies to the bowl with dressing.
  5. Add the chopped walnuts and raisins. Toss to combine.
  6. Sprinkle Italian parsley on top.

 

The Vitamin D Cure

Book review time! I saw this at the library and couldn’t pass it up. Surveys estimate that up to 75% of the population are deficient in this crazy-important vitamin. That makes this book a good read for… everyone!

Most of us know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, but did you know that wearing sunblock prevents vitamin D absorption?

You also cannot get your daily dose by sitting near a closed window or sitting outside covered in clothing.

 

Depending on your location, the time of year, skin type and age you need anywhere from 60 minutes to 10 minutes in the sun with arms and legs exposed 3x a week to get adequate vitamin D without a supplement. The book has a chart to help you figure it out. Handy, no?

I bet you’re asking about skin cancer from too much sun exposure, right? The book covers that, too.

The Vitamin D Cure is an easy read, with first-hand accounts of how author James Dowd M.D’s plan has helped his patients relieve joint pain, improve mood and energy and even lose weight.  According to Dr. Dowd, adequate vitamin D levels can help those with some of these symptoms and diseases:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder/depression during the winter months
  • Low energy
  • Chronic pain, aches or swelling in legs
  • Restless sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer

What did I love about the book?

Dr. Dowd brings nutrition into the mix.

He cites our overly-acidic diets as having a role in the deterioration of our bones, muscles and joints. The average american diet is filled with meat, grains and dairy which are all very acidic. And, we don’t eat enough alkaline-rich foods (fruits + veggies) to buffer that acid. Maintaining adequate potassium and magnesium levels are two additional contributing factors.

I think his recommendation of a mostly meat + vegetable diet may be beneficial for some people, but others may do better with an alkaline vegetarian diet. Either way, we have to get more vegetables into the mix!

In all, it’s an interesting read. Our vitamin D levels should not be ignored.  I wonder how many of us (women, especially) could start feeling more energy and less pain just by spending more time in the sun, upping a supplement and eating just a little healthier?

Let me know in the comments below… what would be the biggest challenge for you in switching from an acidic diet (meat, cheese and grains) to a more alkaline one?

Lots of love + late night reading,

Katie

Eating Clean: the basics

What is “clean eating?”

I get this question a lot and there isn’t a straightforward answer. There are many variations of a “clean” diet. Paleo enthusiasts eat clean by avoiding grains, starchy vegetables and sugar. Vegetarians avoid meat; a clean vegan eschews all types of animal products. Clean eating for a raw foodist is a vegan diet focused on raw fruit and vegetables and dehydrated or minimally cooked foods.

In my opinion, eating clean requires you to tune into your body and eat in a way that fully nourishes and honors your unique dietary needs. While there isn’t one definition of clean eating, there are some basic tenants:

1. Eat whole, minimally processed foods. No Velveeta, here. Real food, simply prepared, tastes amazing. You decide whether meat and dairy help you feel well. No matter what type of protein you eat, keep it whole (tofu or tempeh, for example, instead of processed veggie burgers). Standard white or brown sugar is avoided in favor of less processed options like honey, maple syrup, and coconut/date sugar.

2. Focus on meals that add value. Clean meals have added nutrients– whether it’s pureed squash in macaroni and cheese or greens in a smoothie, it’s all about elevating nutritional value.

3. Use healthy, monounsaturated fats + coconut oil. Think nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oils. Coconut oil is shown to resist candida albicans (yeast) and is thought to be heart healthy, though more investigation is necessary.

4. Go low or no gluten. Many people have gluten sensitivities. Even if you don’t, incorporating gluten free grains into your diet adds nutrient variety (millet, quinoa and amaranth need some love, too!)

5. Buy local & organic, when possible. Food has the most nutrients when it’s fresh. You’ll find the freshest (and usually the cheapest) fruits and vegetables at your farm stand or farmer’s market. Buying organic protects water quality, protects the health of the farmer and field workers, and promotes biodiversity.

Stick with these 5 guidelines and experiment to uncover what works best for you. Don’t get caught up in trying to adhere to the “perfect” diet. Your diet is a powerful tool to help you live an energized life, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

What do you think? Is clean eating do-able (at least 80% of the time)? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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