Welcome to another What I Ate Wednesday, the one day during the week where I post everything that I ate for the whole day!
Ever since seeing some cute little baby bok choy at the Farmers Market last week, I have been wanting to give them a try. I know the logical thing would be adding them to a stir fry, but this Mango Dream Bok Choy Smoothie on Pinterest had my name all over it!!!
Into the blender went 2 heads of baby bok choy (bulb ends removed), 1 whole mango (peeled and diced), 1/2 of a ripe banana, a few chunks of frozen pineapple, 1 tsp of coconut oil, 1 and 1/2 cups water, and a handful of ice cubes. If you are not using a high powered blender, you’ll want to blend the greens and water first, and then add in the fruit and ice in order to get a nice smooth blended drink. If its not sweet enough for your taste, you can add more banana. There is definitely a bit of an earthy green flavor to this drink, but I LOVED it!!!!
Before heading out for the day, we snacked on these little blueberry baked oatmeal “muffins”. I like them because its like a little bowl of oatmeal you can eat on the go, but unfortunately they didn’t go over too well with the kids….
After a fun day downtown at the Coast Guard Festival, we came home STARVING!
Food Should Taste Good chips to snack on while making lunch…
I reheated some of the Lemon Butter Cauliflower Soup from yesterday and also made a Greek salad for lunch. I am so in love with this soup!!!!
For dinner, we made use of the ever-abundant summer zucchini and made these Italian Stuffed Zucchinis on the grill. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a sneak peek. They tasted every bit as good as they looked!! I will post the complete recipe tomorrow!
We served them with a simple salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette. Hailey loved the filling and had a few bites of the zucchini. Jake still has pretty simple taste so he preferred just the grilled sausage and a few bites of the zucchini. Plus they both ate their salad, so overall I consider the dinner a WIN!
I had made these little frozen yogurt tarts last week and it seemed like the perfect night to enjoy them.
The crust was walnuts, shredded coconut, and a drizzle of honey in the food processor. I needed to do something with the raspberries that got smushed on the way home from the Farmers Market, so I threw them in the blender with some plain Greek yogurt and a little honey, then topped it all off with the few remaining whole berries, and froze them in a mini muffin pan. These need to sit out for 5-10 minutes to thaw a bit before eating them. The kids and I like them, but they definitely have that Greek yogurt taste and texture. I may try making these with the frozen fruit and banana “ice cream” for a little more of a traditional tasting dessert.
What summer meals have you been enjoying lately??
What is going on with this cool weather?!? Summer can come back anytime now!!!
Well, I guess its a good excuse to make some soup. This actually works quite well as a summer soup since cauliflower is in season and it comes together so quickly that you’ll hardly have your stove on for more than 10 or 15 minutes tops!
Jake has really been into cauliflower lately so I had picked up this reduced-price cauliflower at the grocery store last week. And, well, who can pass up produce for 50 cents!?! It was a double score because lemons were on clearance too!
With these two ingredients, I knew I had to make this recipe that I had seen over at Kristens Raw. As a side note, I love that she is including more high quality cooked ingredients into her recipes now! This soup is seriously so easy that it can hardly even be considered a recipe!!!!
Lemon Butter Cauliflower Soup
Inspired by and adapted from here
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets and washed
2 T grass-fed butter*
Lemon, juice and zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
*See notes below for nutritional information on grass-fed butter. I highly recommend Kerrygold grass-fed Irish butter, which is easily found at Trader Joes and other grocery stores for less than $3.
Add water to a large soup pot (or Dutch oven) until it is 2-3 inches high. Bring water to a boil.
Add cauliflower florets to boiling water (water does not need to cover all of the cauliflower). Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes or so, until it is tender enough to easily be pierced by a fork.
While cauliflower is cooking, zest the lemon and set aside. Then slice lemon in half and squeeze juice into a small bowl removing any seeds.
Scoop half of the cooked cauliflower into a blender and add 1 T of the butter and 2tsp of the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, adding some of the water from the pot as necessary to thin the soup.
Add remaining cauliflower, 1 T of butter, and 2 tsp of lemon juice and blend until smooth.
The entire amount fit nicely into my standard blender, but you can blend the soup in batches if necessary.
Season soup with about 1/2 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Top individual bowls with additional pepper and lemon zest to serve.
Of course it always helps when you enjoy your soup outside with a beautiful view like this!
The Happy Family loves this Healthy Plate because:
Antioxidants – cauliflower contains a ton of vitamin C and manganese, as well as carotenoids. These little florets pack a punch in fighting free-radicals!
Vitamin K and Omega-3 Fatty Acids – both of these help to reduce inflammation in the body. Cauliflower contains omega-3 fatty acids, the same healthy fats found in salmon and flax seeds, but with the added bonus of practically no calories!
Fiber – Each serving of cauliflower contains 3 grams of fiber, helping to cleanse the digestive tract.
Loads of B Vitamins – Cauliflower contains an array of B vitamins: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 to be exact. That includes folic acid, so if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, be sure to add this vegetable to your weekly consumption.
Grass-fed butter – this deeply colored, vitamin-rich version of butter is a source of healthy saturated fats and is naturally high in Conjugated Linolenic Acids (CLA), which has been linked to heart health and better body fat composition. Grass-fed butter is also high in Vitamin K2 which appears to reduce, prevent, or even counteract arterial plaque, and it helps the body use calcium correctly and effectively.
Lemon zest – Lemon peels consists of components known as salvestrol Q40 and limonene, which are known to fight against cancerous cells in the body. Also, the flavonoids present in the peel are effective in curbing the division of cancerous cells.
This is typically the day that I post a snapshot of everything I eat for the entire day. Today was a little bit unusual since I am starting to get that dreaded might-be-getting-sick feeling. I know I say it repeatedly on here, but I truly believe that food can be a powerful tool for healing the body. Because of that, I am planning to focus on really nutrient-dense foods including fresh juice, smoothies, and soup, plus a little extra sleep over the next couple of days to hopefully be able to fight this off before it totally knocks me out.
For breakfast, I brought out the Big Guns – the juicer! The difference between juicing and blending smoothies is that juicing provides a supershot of vitamins and minerals straight to your cells without having to break down any of the fiber in the fruits or veggies through digestion. This can be very high in sugars, though, which is why I try to balance it with a good amount of vegetables too.
This juice had 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 1/3 of a cucumber, 1 small clementine, and 1 apple. After I put it all through the juicer, I added a squeeze of fresh lemon. Maybe it was a placebo effect, but I swear I already started feeling better after drinking it
I really didn’t have much of an appetite all morning but knew I need something else. A smoothie seemed like a good idea.
Is it just me or is Rainbow Chard one of the prettiest vegetables around?!?
I added these three leafy beauties, 1/3 of a cucumber, 1/2 banana, 1 red pear, 1 lemon wedge, and 1/4 tsp of ground ginger to the blender with lots of water. I have been inspired to try new juice/smoothie combinations lately and this one was spot on! So good!!!
I finally started to feel a little hungry this afternoon, but a salad or sandwich didn’t really sound good. This is a snack that I learned from surfing the Paleo and Clean Eating sites. It’s like a cleaned up version of deviled eggs with avocado instead of the mayo. I actually prefer them this way now!
I mix two hard-boiled egg yolks with a wedge of avocado (about 1/8 of the whole avocado), some salt, pepper, and dried dill. Pack a spoonful of the mixture back into the egg-white halves and you have yourself a great little snack or light lunch that is packed with protein and healthy fats, and surprisingly filling.
Luckily I had soup planned for dinner tonight. You just can’t beat soup when you’re sick!
Chicken Rice Soup
1 cup of cooked rice
2 chicken breasts, cooked, cut into bite-size pieces
3 carrots, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 leek, white and light green part, sliced into half-moon shapes
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped into small pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free, but wheat would work too)
4 cups organic chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
3 T. mellow white miso (optional, but adds a lot of flavor and nutrients)
I cooked the rice and chicken breast ahead of time so the soup would come together quickly. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute chopped carrots, celery, onion, leek, and zucchini until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Add the minced garlic towards the end so that it doesn’t burn. Sprinkle 1 T. of flour over vegetable mixture. If using the miso paste, pour 1/2 cup of broth into a small bowl and whisk in miso. Add remaining broth, cooked rice, chopped chicken and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add miso/broth mixture at the very end to avoid over-heating and destroying the nutrients in the miso.
A note on the miso. This is something that I like to have on hand for soups, especially when we are not feeling well. Miso is made from fermented soybeans and is usually a thick paste texture with a very salty taste. You usually find it in the refrigerated section of a health food store. I always try to buy quality organic miso paste so that I know it is non-gmo since a lot of soy products are genetically modified. The benefit of using miso is that it is a probiotic, full of good bacteria, which promotes healthy intestines and strengthens the immune system. It is crucial not to overheat the miso when cooking so that you don’t destroy the healthy bacteria. Miso is also a great source of the mineral zinc, which can be helpful for increasing the immune system and fighting off cold viruses.
To go with the soup, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids and big salads for the adults. When we lived in Chicago, there was a restaurant (a sports bar really!) that had The. Best. Balsamic. Dressing. EVER! This was my attempt at recreating it based off of a few different recipes.
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. honey
1/3 cup plus half of 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, honey, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend on medium-high until garlic is pureed into the vinegar. With the blender on low-medium, remove the center cap in the lid and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. This will emulsify the dressing giving you a “creamy” balsamic texture.
Glad to have you back for another What I Ate Wednesday!
Yesterday’s post felt so BLAH to me!!!! I think its a lot easier for me when I write during the day but usually its just so hard to find that time!
Speaking of time…..I just somehow did not seem to have enough of it today!! And I can tell I must be settling into this blogging thing because I really and truly did not plan out a single thing that I was going to eat today. The only thought that goes into my WIAW’s are to try to mix it up to show you different things (when in reality I am a total creature of habit!!) and also to make sure to snap a picture.
So the theme of today’s eats – on the fly!
Breakfast was totally on the fly. I had a million things I had to get done in the three hours Jake was at school. I am not usually very hungry early in the morning so I basically just made something super quick so that I wouldn’t get hungry while running errands.
This is a banana with raw almond butter (from my imported Trader Joe’s stash), unsweetened coconut flakes, and chia seeds. This breakfast apologizes for not being very photogenic. But I know I must be onto something when both of my kids had this as an afternoon snack today!
Lunch was a bit of a scramble to pull something together. I started with some of the Butternut Squash Apple Curry soup from Monday. I paired it up with a repeat from last week – the chickpea “mock tuna” salad on Ezekiel bread. This is exactly why I take the time to make up things like this ahead of time (soup, chickpea salad, oatmeal bars, etc). Lunch was thrown together in less than 10 minutes, including making Jake’s lunch!
For my afternoon snack, since I didn’t have anything planned out of course, I kind of went over what I’d eaten today to see what I felt like I was missing. Decided on some more fruits and veggies, specifically GREENS! So I threw together one of my green juice/smoothie concoctions. This one had a handful of kale, handful of romaine, celery, 1/3 cucumber, an apple, 1/2 banana, and a handful of frozen grapes. I was surprised at how much the grapes mixed up the usual flavor. I know this picture doesn’t appeal to many, but its just how I roll! I swear by juice and smoothies like this for awesome energy every day!!! To me, they are a total pick me up!!
Good thing I was re-fueled because my afternoon included a whole lot of this………..
Dinner, again, was completely on the fly. We had planned to make jumbalaya but then I realized someone had used the leftover andouille sausage from the gumbo on Superbowl (I’ll give him some credit for using it very creatively on a pizza ;)). So I did a quick pantry/fridge check and came up with a mexican-inspired soup, similar to a tortilla soup. This was made completely with what I had on hand and I did not follow a recipe. I have to say it turned out pretty good. I realized that this is something that I could keep the ingredients on hand at all times to easily add this to my rotation of “throw together” dinners.
Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Soup
1 onion, chopped (could be chopped and frozen)
1 red pepper, chopped (could be chopped and frozen)
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock would work too)
1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen are organic AND bpa-free!)
shredded chicken (we had about 1 1/2 pieces of leftover grilled chicken)
1 can black beans (pinto beans would work too)
1 cup frozen corn (canned would work too)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
Toppings: shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever you have!
In a large stock pot, saute the onion, pepper, jalapeno, and garlic in some olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add in crushed tomatoes, broth, shredded chicken, beans, corn, and seasonings and simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with crushed chips (if you have leftover crumbs you can store them in the freezer for this purpose!), cheese, avocado, and/or cilantro.
Another option that I may try out would be to omit the chicken and use two different types of beans and a grain like rice or quinoa.
Well, that wraps it up. Happy Valentine’s day tomorrow!
I had every intention of actually getting this post up on Monday, the one day during the week that I commit to making a vegetarian dinner for our family. But an interesting opportunity came up that changed up my plans at the last minute. I found out that a local chiropractor was showing the documentary “Doctored” so of course I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to socialize with some of my fellow health nuts!!
Overall, I liked the movie and found some of the facts presented to be very eye-opening. For example, did you know that “although the U.S. makes up only 5% of the world’s population, we consume over 50% of all the world’s pharmaceutical drugs?” I think that is shocking!
The movie is centered on the chiropractic profession and their struggle against “big business” and the American Medical Association. Although I felt like the movie lost focus near the end, they still managed to make the point that there are very effective alternative treatments available for many of the pains and illnesses that plague us. Whether your medications and current approach aren’t working, or you would like to explore an alternative to prescription drugs and surgery, it is important to educate yourself of other options besides our traditional Western medicine. Our family, personally, has had amazing success with chiropractic care. I won’t go into too much detail here, but years ago, we successfully treated our daughter’s asthma diagnosis through chiropractic adjustments. I am a firm believer in the healing energy within our own bodies.
It was incredible to see the examples of cases they presented where debilitating chronic pain was resolved through something as simple as chiropractic adjustments as well as proper diet and nutrition.
Proper nutrition….my favorite subject.
So lets get going with this healthy vegetarian-friendly soup! Its Butternut Squash Apple Curry soup based off of this recipe from one of my favorite classical chefs, Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa.
I first made this recipe because I wanted to experiment with curry powder in a recipe after learning some of its health benefits. Curry powder is a mixture of spices including turmeric and curcumin. Turmeric has been found to reduce inflammation of the joints. Some studies suggest that turmeric may also help protect us against cancer, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. Studies done at one of the world’s most renowned cancer centers, MD Anderson Center in Texas, have shown that curcumin seems to turn off genes that can trigger the onset and spread of breast cancer. It also shows some promise, in a handful of patients, in stabilizing pancreatic cancer. Who knew all of that power was there in a little spoonful of spices???
I like to start this recipe ahead of time by roasting a butternut squash the night before I plan to make the soup (usually while our dinner is cooking or afterwards, while the oven is still hot). Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush a little olive oil on the cut surfaces and place it cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350 degrees for an hour (up to an hour and a half depending on size), until the squash is golden and soft. Once it has cooled, scoop the flesh of the squash from the skin and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to proceed with the soup. The soup comes together quickly after the squash has been roasted!
Next, saute a chopped onion and 2 tsp. of curry powder in olive oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee. If it starts to dry out, add a little bit of vegetable stock – this is a great way to cut back on the amount of butter and oil used.
After about 10 minutes, add in 2-3 peeled, cored, and chopped apples and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Let this simmer for about 8 minutes until the apples are soft.
Add in the roasted and peeled butternut squash, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 2 cups apple cider. To get the right taste, be sure to use cider and not apple juice.
Mix to incorporate everything and let this cook for a few minutes until the squash is heated.
Puree with an immersion blender and adjust seasonings to taste.
If you want it spicier, add more curry. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough to you, add a bit more apple cider. The flavor of the soup can vary quite a bit based on the size and flavor of the apples and squash. Also, you can adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking by adding more broth, cider, or even water. When I reheat this soup for lunch later in the week, I always need to thin it out more with about half a cup of liquid.
Paired with some good bread and a salad of mixed greens, pears or apples, red onion and toasted nuts, it makes a great vegetarian lunch or dinner and is a great use of seasonal produce.
Butternut Squash Curry Soup
Recipe adapted from here
1 large butternut squash (roasted ahead of time, cut-side down on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour)
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil, butter, or ghee
2 tsp. – 1 T. of curry powder, depending on how spicy you want it
2-3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 cups vegetable stock (optional, can just use water)
1/2 tsp. sea salt or to taste (adjust as necessary)
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups good quality apple cider
Roast butternut squash ahead of time. Cool and scrape squash from peel. This can be done 1-2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Heat a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and/or butter to pan. Saute chopped onion and curry powder for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. If onions begin to stick, add a splash of vegetable stock or water to the pan.
After 10 minutes, add peeled, chopped apples, cooked butternut squash and 2 cups of water or vegetable stock and simmer covered over low heat for another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of apple cider, 1/2 tsp. salt and some fresh ground pepper and puree with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can puree the soup in a blender in batches. Add up to an additional cup of apple cider. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. This soup tastes better after it sits and flavors have developed.
Tomato soup and grilled cheese. No doubt, one of the most simple comforting meals around, especially this time of year.
I love this as a quick weeknight dinner or to make ahead for lunches throughout the week. And it was through trial and error that I realized how much my kids love this soup. I had made a basic tomato vegetable soup for dinner one night. The kids were just picking at it when Hailey informed me that she would like it better if it was “smooth” tomato soup. So, a quick zip with the immersion blender and I had a new family favorite on our hands. I had made basic tomato soup before, but now I realized I could hide a few extra veggies in there and still pass it off as tomato soup! Genius!! Oh wait, Jessica Seinfeld already did that Oh well……
The ingredients are fairly simple and the extra veggies can vary by what you have on hand or what is in season. My biggest issue that I struggle with is the canned tomatoes. By now, I’m sure most everyone has heard news stories of BPA (or bisphenol A). It is a chemical that is used to harden plastic. It is found in everything from plastic water bottles and storage containers to cash register receipts and medical devices. Unfortunately, it is also present in canned goods. And it is actually more dangerous in canned tomatoes over other canned goods as the high acidity in tomatoes requires an even higher amount of the chemical in the cans, and therefore even more BPA is leached into the food.
BPA had been considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until 2010 when the agency altered its position and expressed “some concern” about the potential effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children. Studies have linked BPA exposure to hormonal disruptions, brain and behavior problems, cancer, heart problems, and other diseases. And unfortunately, the effects are most pronounced in infants and young children as their developing bodies are less efficient at eliminating the substance.
The good news is that consumer awareness and demand are convincing manufacturers to begin phasing it out of many plastic products. Some states have banned the sale of certain products such as bottles and sippy cups made with BPA. It is possible to reduce exposure to BPA by using BPA-free products, using non-plastic containers for food, and using less canned foods when possible.
Which leads me to the tomatoes. The most readily available option that I have found that does not contain BPA is Pomi Chopped Tomatoes, which come in a tetra pak (box). Of course, these are a bit more expensive than traditional canned tomatoes. I try to stock up on them when they go on sale and definitely freeze any portion that I do not use. When debating whether or not to go with a more natural/organic/expensive product, I usually weigh in the amount of the item we consume, and particularly how much my children consume. Given that we use canned tomatoes so often in soups, casseroles, etc, I try to opt for the Pomi boxed tomatoes the majority of the time or as often as my grocery budget allows. Other options would be using your own canned tomatoes (something I’d eventually like to try!) or simply boiling whole roma tomatoes for a minute or two, and peeling them once cooled.
Lets make some soup!
Chop all veggies into uniform pieces.
Heat a large pot (preferrably NOT a non-stick) over medium heat. Add the olive oil and veggies and saute approximately 5-7 minutes until soft.
Add in tomatoes, broth and seasonings. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Blend with an immersion blender (or in batches in a traditional blender) until smooth.
The most recent time I made this soup, we happen to have a small amount of organic creamer left from the holidays (not something I normally have on hand). While I think this soup is really good without it, just a small amount makes it great (a bit more like a tomato bisque but much healthier)!
And since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to focus on improving the foods that my kids are eating, I’ve made a double batch of this soup to freeze in small glass jars. I can defrost it in the refrigerator overnight, and then heat it up in the morning and pack it in a Thermos in the lunchbox. Along with some whole grain crackers and string cheese or a whole wheat quesadilla and some fruit, this has become one of my kids favorite cold-weather school lunches!
Tomato Soup with a Twist
1 26 oz. box Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 32 oz. box organic vegetable broth (or other non-msg containing broth)
1 T. oil (extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil)
1 medium onion
2 small zucchini
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup organic dairy creamer (half and half)
Chop all vegetables into medium-size pieces. Heat oil over medium heat. Saute vegetables over medium heat 5-7 minutes, adding in garlic during last few minutes so that it does not burn. Add broth, chopped tomatoes, and seasonings and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and blend with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender in 2 batches. Taste for additional salt and pepper if desired. Blend in optional creamer if using.