Nourishing Brain Bowls – the Non-Recipe You Need to Make Life Easier

It is hard to keep whole food nutrition in mind during stressful times. Often it seems easier to rely on takeout and pizza delivery than cooking, but I want to share my favorite method for stress-free cooking – Brain Bowls!

I could call it the “throw it in a bowl” method of cooking, but it doesn’t have quite the ring to it. I love a good acronym, so I’ve broken down the word BRAIN to help you build your own easy, nutrient-dense, brain-fueling bowl.

Easy Brain Bowls

B – base of greens or grains. I like quinoa, rice, or chickpea pasta. When I don’t want the heavier carb load, I use kale or arugula. Spinach is a great option for those who can tolerate it as well!

R – rainbow of veggies. Sauté, roast, air fry… throw on some avocado oil, your favorite seasonings, and cook them to your preferred texture. It can be a mix of raw or cooked veggies. I always aim for a minimum of three different colors or types. Frequent flyers are bell peppers, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, white potatoes and sweet potatoes.

A – add your protein. Quality is important here to maximize nutrients. I love grass-fed ground beef, organic, pasture-raised chicken or eggs, or wild caught salmon or other fish.

I – include your favorite sauces, dressing, or spices. Stay away from any sauce/dressing that is made with vegetable, canola, or soybean oil. Those oxidize under high heat temps (like your digestive system), which sends free radical damage through your body – something your brain doesn’t need. I love Primal, Siete, Tessemae’s, and New Primal brands.

N – nuts or seeds for some crunch! I love throwing on pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds, etc. Get creative!

The best part of this recipe is that you don’t need to be a chef or even follow a recipe. The more comfortable you are with throwing things together, the more you’ll sustain it – and the more you’ll get more creative as you go!

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Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Guys. I just stumbled upon something amazing. Do you ever get the craving for buffalo sauce or is that just me? Lately I have been OBSESSED with Primal Kitchens Buffalo sauce, AND I found a vegan ranch that is creamy and delicious with NO soybean or canola oil. (Can you tell by the capital letters how excited I am???)

I should also add that I am – once again – off of gluten and dairy. Why? A few reasons. One, I feel better. Two, my skin has been acting up and these are the two main culprits for many skin issues. Three, I really don’t need to offer an explanation for why I decide to eat the way I do, so move along with your judgment. Haha. I say that in a spicy way because about a year and a half ago I started following a bunch of “food freedom” nutritionists, dietitians, and influencers in hopes that I would gain a better understanding of how intuitive eating could work in my life – so that I am not held down by diet culture and its nonsensical food rules.

What I discovered is that in allowing myself unconditional permission to eat anything and everything, my mental and physical health started suffering, and turns out – my INTUITION about gluten and dairy and sugar was right – I don’t do well with those guys. So… if by listening to my body’s cues and leaving those things out of my diet means I’m just falling prey to the evil snares of “diet culture,” then the whole food freedom movement is just as judgmental and apt to finger-pointing as the “diet culture” they are so against. You can’t promote food freedom and eating intuitively for YOUR BODY, then tell someone they’re doing it wrong.

Ugh. Double standards and hypocrisy make me LOSE MY MIND. And there is so much of it happening today, I’m surprised I’m sane enough to be typing this out. As one of my good friends in the wellness world says, “eyes on your own plate.” YOU get to decide what is best for you, not matter what anyone else thinks about it.

Oh – am I supposed to be sharing a recipe? Apologies. I’ll stop ranting in CAPITAL LETTERS now.

Here we go…

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Continue reading “Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos”

Creamy Turmeric Hot Chocolate

Now that we’re officially into winter, I have my late night urge to indulge in something warm and cozy (and by late night, I mean like 7:30). While there are plenty of packaged hot chocolate options out there, taking a little extra time to make something from scratch represents true self care for me.

I’m such a rushed person, but lately I’ve come to realize that when I fail to take time to prepare or sit and eat a meal slowly, I’m sending signals to my body that my nourishment isn’t important.

If food is information for our cells, and it is, then what kind of information do we send our body when we say we don’t have time? “I don’t have time to give you what you need.” Most times, we eat in a rush and don’t get a chance to savor complexity of flavors because we are so busy inhaling our packaged convenience food in order to go on to the next thing.

Taking time to prepare food also prepares our thoughts. Our thoughts are powerful chemical messengers that tell our bodies what to do. If we are stressed and rushed, we tell our bodies to shut down digestion in order to “survive” whatever is stressing us out. This year, I’m making an effort to take my thoughts captive – and even what I think about the process of eating makes a difference.

All right, enough philosophizing – now to the recipe.

Continue reading “Creamy Turmeric Hot Chocolate”

Spicy Black Eyed Peas with Bacon and Bone Broth

Happy New Year!

I woke up with a pep in my step today, not so much because it’s a new year, but because December is OVER. Historically, the month of December is rough on my mood and this year was no exception. Too much activity, too much planning, too much sugar and alcohol always puts my sensitive brain on overload.

But today marks a new month and whole new year! My newest Feast 2 Fast nutrition coaching group starts on Monday, and I can’t wait to get back to allllll the veggies!

At the last minute, I decided to whip up some lucky black eyed peas in honor of a fresh start. Full disclosure: I’ve never made black eyed peas. I remember my grandparents always had them on New Year’s Day, and as a little girl I turned up my nose at them and thought they were icky.

Not to brag or anything, but I made a mean red beans and rice one time, so I figured it couldn’t be that different. The ingredients are simple and tasty. The bone broth gives your gut microbiome some love, and the bacon adds an extra kick of flavor that partners well with the spice from the jalapeno pepper (which is an idea from my brother when I told him I was attempting to make black eyed peas).

Like all legumes, black eyed peas are a great source of soluble fiber, which helps support healthy blood sugar metabolism. Soaking them overnight can help reduce the antinutrients in order to make them more tolerable for digestion and to optimize health benefits. They’re very high in folate as well, which is a brain-boosting bonus. I enjoyed a bowl of the spicy peas right after my New Year run, and I may even end up blending some up to make a hummus dip – who knows!

 

Ingredients: Continue reading “Spicy Black Eyed Peas with Bacon and Bone Broth”

My Favorite Cranberry Salsa

To be fair, I have a lot of favorite food items. I wonder how many of my recipes have the word “favorite” in the title. And realistically, I’ve never had cranberry salsa before this recipe so it’s technically the only cranberry salsa I’ve tried. Easy to make something a favorite when you haven’t tried other variations.

Anyway, my mom used to make homemade cranberry sauce for the holidays, and this is similar, but with a bit of a Tex-Mex twist to it. Salsa is always a fridge staple at our house, so why not make this cranberry salsa a holiday staple?

img_4308What sets this recipe apart from others I’ve seen is the fact that I use monk fruit sweetener instead of regular cane sugar to cut the bitterness of the cranberries. Monk fruit is not an artificial sweetener, and it has actually been used for thousands of years for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It doesn’t impact blood sugar levels the way regular sugar and those chemically artificial sweeteners do (don’t get me started on those).

This salsa is so versatile. It can be eaten by itself, with tortilla chips, or my kids’ favorite – spoon it over goat cheese and eat with crackers. I recently discovered that it is delicious on top of a baked sweet potato, paired with a side of scrambled eggs for breakfast!

Disclaimer: this recipe is not an original creation of mine, unlike the other recipes on this page. I’m not quite sure where the original came from, or I would give a proper shout-out. What I have changed is the sweetener used and I also use a jalapeno with seeds intact because my people like things spicy! (P.S. – I know there is a tilde over the n in jalapeno, but I can’t figure out how to correct that on my laptop.)

To see the Instagram video of the process, scroll to the end.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup monk fruit sweetener (I use this one)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded if you don’t want too much spice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Throw everything in a food professor or high powered blender and blend to desired consistency. You want it to be chunky.
  2. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving – I think the flavors taste best the second day.

Happy Thanksgiving week! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this version of the recipe. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know!

Easy Baked Cod

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Sometimes I play a game with myself to see how many veggies I can get into one dish. It’s a perfect game to play with this delicious and easy baked cod recipe. I got the original recipe from a friend, tweaked it a bit for my family’s tastes, and the result is melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!

For more family-friendly recipes that kids actually like, check out the free recipe ebook I put together with integrative pediatrician Dr. Alina Olteanu!

Click here to get instant access!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp grass fed butter (room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 16 oz. cod (four 4 oz filets)
  • 2 lemons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Make a paste of the fats, spices, herbs, and about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  3. Coat each piece of fish with the butter/herb mixture.
  4. Top with remaining sliced lemon.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky and done. Serve with more lemon juice, if desired!

Serve with roasted vegetables or a salad! Be sure to spoon the melted seasonings and butter all over your plate! I added a touch of lemon-parsley quinoa and it was delicious.

Adjust the recipe according to how much cod you have or how many family members. With fish, I typically err on the side of more seasoning, but do what your tastebuds desire!

Homemade Bone Broth for Beginners

My latest obsession is something that has been around a long time. It’s not a supplement, a special drink, or an exotic superfood. It’s something my ancestors most likely consumed all the time, yet is sadly missing from the modern American diet.

Bone broth.

Specifically, beef bone broth made from grass fed beef marrow bones. You can use chicken bones as well (it’s super easy to use the bones of a rotisserie chicken), but beef is so nutrient dense, packed with healing amino acids and minerals, and the flavor is so hearty, that I prefer using beef.

The health benefits of bone broth have been documented over and over again and all it takes is a Google search to read about them. But here’s a short list: improved gut health, improved detoxification, skin and hair health, immune health, bone and joint health, reduced cellulite, improved food sensitivities, better digestion, improved metabolism, cellular health, antioxidant boost, the list goes on.

Now, the following is an imaginary Q and A session for my past self, back when I thought bone broth making was complicated. But don’t be like me and buy the carton kind that doesn’t taste as good. Start making this now! Continue reading “Homemade Bone Broth for Beginners”

Chipotle Honey Greens Bowl

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a little “staycation” at a fancy boutique hotel in town. While we were lounging by the pool, living the good life, we enjoyed the most amazing greens bowl. It was a perfect light summer treat. We’re typically not “I’ll have a salad” people, especially not on vacation, but this one was a refreshing complement to a warm summer day in the sun. I decided as soon as I got home, I would come up with a “copycat” recipe.

I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time with raw kale and broccoli. They’re just not my favorite. Well let me tell you, with this recipe, you just may reconcile your relationship with them. Because the broccoli is chopped thinly and the kale is massaged in order to wilt and break down the bitterness, these two go perfectly together. Then you have the sweet and spicy mix of the dressing and it really is a solid summer lunch staple – or it’s a great side for a grilled chicken or steak dinner!

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*Please note – the dressing is a lot, more than you’ll need for the salad ingredients. That way you can double or triple your salad amount for a crowd, or use throughout the week as a dressing or meat marinade.

Ingredients:

Continue reading “Chipotle Honey Greens Bowl”

Easy and Delicious Bacon Bruschetta Chicken

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Who’s sick of cooking the same old, same old and is ready for something new and EASY? You can’t tell, but I’m raising my hand. I am currently in training for a new whole food nutritional program I will be launching soon, so I’ve been playing with some recipes, changing things up, and throwing together new things to incorporate (as usual) as many colorful veggies as I can in one meal.

The original version of this recipe I received courtesy of my friend Megan, from a detox program I ran a few years ago. It’s versatile, because it works for people who have issues with gluten or dairy, and it’s so easy and fast – who doesn’t love that?

Even my picky three-year-old loves this recipe! He likes it with jasmine rice, which is a pantry staple in our house!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought (dairy or nut free? Use basil paste or fresh basil)
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a Dutch oven, season chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Layer chicken, seasoning, garlic, basil pesto, tomato, and bacon.
  4. Place lid on top and cook in oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Serve with rice, pasta, or my favorite – cauliflower rice!

*For crock pot option, follow directions above and cook 4-6 hours.

That’s IT. Now, if you are like me, it will need more seasonings than the recommended amount above. So play with it; add what you like. And as always – let me know what you think!

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What to Cook When You’re “Social Distancing”

 

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Y’all, times are crazy. While toilet paper may be absent from stores, last I checked there are still some shelf-stable and frozen items available for plunder… I mean, purchase.

So I figured what better time to share ways to create nourishing and filling meals out of a stockpile… just in case.

Reminder – this isn’t about sticking to a diet or trying to “eat right.” This is about finding food that is going to be packed with nutrients to boost our immune systems by creating diversity in our gut microbiome. Vegetables always go together. I’ve never had a combination of veggies I didn’t like. Now, for picky eaters and super tasters that’s a different story. Hopefully, you will find a wide variety of options below to keep you happy, nourished, and full. Continue reading “What to Cook When You’re “Social Distancing””