Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls

Lemony citrus meets delicious dark chocolate in the these chocolate lemon energy balls! The perfect no-bake, gluten-free snack. 

Chocolate lemon energy ballsWhat do you get when you ask healthy food bloggers and foodie dietitians to create a healthy chocolate creation? You get happy! This month’s recipe redux theme is chocolate — an ode to Valentine’s Day and a great way to get rid of any chocolate lying around the house!

I would not consider myself a chocolate fiend, but I do love chocolate. I have some every day – mostly in the form of cacao nibs or cocoa powder. I’m currently hooked on a smoothie I make with cocoa powder, frozen cherries, PB2, protein powder and coconut milk. It really hits the spot.

no-bake dark chocolate and lemon energy balls -- the perfect mid-day snack!

Dark chocolate has a place in a healthy, clean eating diet. It’s a great source of magnesium which helps you out in so many ways, especially us ladies. It’s my secret weapon for beating the PMS blahs, for keeping things “moving” digestively, and it helps me fall asleep. Dark chocolate is also an antioxidant, mood improver, and cacao nibs contain a bit of iron, too.

If you’ve ever had cacao nibs, you know they can be pretty bitter, especially if you’re not used to eating dark chocolate. I love cacao because in smoothies and bars it provides that rich chocolate taste without all the sugar and fat. So you get the essence of chocolate and that’s it. I like to use nibs when I want a crunch effect (I use them a lot in my raw balls and bars) and I use powder mostly in smoothies when I just want straight-up chocolate flavor.

For this recipes, I was inspired by the Redux theme but also by the bountiful box of winter citrus I received from Sunkist. I think citrus and chocolate are an amazing combination, don’t you?  I considered using one of the orange varietals from the box but ultimately decided to go with Meyer Lemons. I love all-things lemon!

dark chocolate and lemon energy balls

These little chocolate lemon balls of heaven have the perfect amount of sweet-tart crunch and just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a chocolate fix. I don’t usually go big on chocolate with my bars but for these I went for it – using both cocoa powder and cacao nibs. The trick was keeping the flavors balanced. I think I succeeded. Each bite delivers exactly what’s promised, chocolate and lemon in perfect harmony!

These chocolate lemon energy balls are so good, they might replace my favorite Chocolate Cookie Dough Lara balls, which have been my go-to for years!

dark chocolate and lemon energy balls

Make a batch of these chocolate lemon energy balls today for your mid-day snacks next week. They might be just what you need to cure a bad mood and to ensure a good night’s sleep!

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1 Meyer lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • dash salt

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Once the mixture is well combined and looks like large sand granules, roll into your hands to make balls. If desired, make a coating by mixing 1 Tbsp shredded coconut and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder in a small bowl.Roll balls into this mixture. Makes about 12 large balls.
http://foodconfidence.com/2015/02/22/dark-chocolate-lemon-energy-balls/


Formula Meals: Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are an easy to make, delicious side dish that will turn even the pickiest of eaters into instant veggie lovers!

how to roast vegetables

Formula meals are back this week with a cooking basic so many people forget about: roasted vegetables. If roasted veggies are not in your weekly repertoire, they should be. Not only are they super easy to make, they also make most vegetables taste even better.

When vegetables are combined with a little oil and some high heat an amazing thing happens…they become addictively delicious. But in a good way! Roasting is the difference between knowing you should eat your veggies to actually looking forward to eating them. If you have a picky eater in your midst, treat them to roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts or some butternut squash. I have been known to eat an entire head of just-roasted cauliflower standing at the stove. With my fingers. I don’t even bother with a fork. To me, there are few rivals to a hot, slightly charred roasted veg. And the best part? There’s a formula. Which is code for you really can’t screw these up…too badly.

I like mine a bit on the charred side so I tend to keep the heat up at 425°. If you like yours a little less toasty, you can lower to 400°. Remember that thinner veggies (think bell peppers) will need less time than a starchy potato or Brussels sprout so you’ll have to adjust the time and temp accordingly. I usually set the timer for 15 minutes, give them a quick toss with a long wooden spoon, and then roast 10-15 minutes more, depending on the veg. As with most things, practice makes perfect so keep doing it until you get the result you love.

What’s the Formula?

1 part vegetables: choose from Brussels sprouts, turnips, squash, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini,etc.

1 part seasoning: salt and pepper work just fine, but consider adding cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, oregano, smoked paprika, dill, garlic, thyme, salt, cinnamon…I think you get the idea. :)

1 part oil: I actually just drizzle olive or coconut oil over the veggies — no measuring necessary.

Always the same: salt, aluminum foil, baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or some other high-heat baking sheet protector. Or don’t, this part is personal preference. Personally, I don’t like to scrub the baking sheet so I line it. Dice up your vegetables into bite sized pieces (remember, the more surface area exposed to the heat, the more caramelized goodness you get). Place veggies into a large mixing bowl. Douse with oil of choice. Season with favorite seasonings. Shake the bowl or toss with a wooden spoon. Pour veggies onto baking sheet and bake for 12-25 minutes. Try not to eat all at once.

5-Spice Tempeh Taco Salad -- super easy, vegetarian and gluten free meal!

5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

A quick vegetarian weeknight dinner or light lunch, this super tasty warm tempeh salad is big on flavor and nutrients!

5-Spice Tempeh Taco Salad -- super easy, vegetarian and gluten free meal!

I keep trying to get you to try tempeh! Is it working?? This warm salad is super flavorful and so easy to make. I love tempeh because it provides a heartiness to your plate that is sometimes missing when you eat a mostly plant-based diet. It’s also a great source of fermented protein and you know I’m a huge fan of fermentation.

What is tempeh? Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been naturally fermented by a process that binds them into a cake-like form. The process of fermentation makes tempeh a much healthier choice over highly processed soy foods like soy milk, soy burgers, TVP, soy dogs, etc. Because fermented soy is much more easily digested, you get more of the good stuff in soy into your body! Getting more of those important isoflavones into you will help decrease inflammation and lower blood pressure.

I like to crumble it up a lot as I did today in this 5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing. You can also slice it, toss it in a marinate and sauté it but that way requires a few more steps. Both ways are delicious!

5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch DressingI love a warm salad in the winter! This dish will satisfy your taste for tacos and the creamy avocado ranch dressing packs a ton of flavor. I had some mung bean sprouts on hand so I used them as the base and it added a nice freshness to the salad, along with the sliced cherry tomatoes.

5 spice tempeh taco salad

The recipe for this yummy 5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing is over at Healthy Aperture on my Inspired Vegetarian column so head on over there to get it!

easy breakfast egg muffins

Formula Meals: Easy Egg Muffins

These healthy and oh-so versatile breakfast egg muffins can feed everyone in your family!

easy breakfast egg muffins

It’s Formula Meals time again folks and today we are making easy-peasey breakfast egg muffins! These super versatile muffins will please even the pickiest eaters because you can adapt them a zillion different ways. The options are endless but the template is the same…that is the power of formula meals!

As formula meals go, once you figure out the “template” being used, you can sub-in anything you want to create easy weeknight meals (or breakfast) in minutes — no recipe required!

So today we are making breakfast egg muffins.

What’s the Formula?

2 parts eggs: 12 beaten eggs works pretty well – they can be whole, egg whites or a mix of both

1 part veggies: toss in finely chopped broccoli, mushrooms, spinach or kale leaves, tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, jalapeno, etc.

1 part protein: choose from ground turkey or sausage, lean bacon, black beans, chopped ham, cheese (feta goat, Parmesan, cheddar, etc.).

Always the same: salt and pepper, butter or spray for muffin tins

Assembly is super easy. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray or butter muffin tins liberally. Beat your eggs in a large mixing bowl. Chop the veggies into small bite size pieces (and if you want to get really fancy, you can saute them in a bit in olive oil first) and add to bowl with beaten eggs. Toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into muffin tins and top with cheese. Or, if you prefer, you can add cheese to the egg- veggie mixture.  Cook for about 22 minutes or until golden brown. Freeze what you don’t eat.

Voilà —  These egg muffins are the perfect grab and go breakfast or afternoon snack!

Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

This gluten free black bean pasta tossed with rapini and harissa is an earthy, spicy, bold flavored bowl of delicious!

Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the foods I ate as a child. I love the horror on people’s face when I tell them I used to gnaw on pickled pigs feet when I was little. If you’re even remotely familiar with pigs feet, you know that gnaw is not an exaggeration; you literally need to tear the sparse fatty flesh off the pigs knuckled feet with your teeth. Was this a cruel childhood joke played on an innocent child? I look back now and think — yes! But as a kid, a jar of pickled pigs feet on my grandmother’s kitchen windowsill was perfectly normal. Even as a teenager, dinner at my house was always a little “different” than at my friends. Or maybe I should say dinner at a friends house could not be more different than at mine? While their parents were serving up pork chops and canned corn, my mom was tossing anything she had available with pasta: eggs, cauliflower, peas, beans, clams…the list goes on and on.

IMG_8260

My mom didn’t cater to us kids…at all. We ate what she cooked and we generally loved it. That included rapini, aka, broccoli rabe. Another odd childhood food, in my opinion. Not many kids like the slightly grassy, often bitter finish of this leafy green. Yes, rapini is a leafy green! It tastes nothing like broccoli (it’s actually a member of the turnip family) and has a distinct bitter taste that I just love. I also love Belgian Endive so maybe it’s something about my taste buds? My mom usually sauteed rapini in olive oil and garlic and I thought it was the best thing since white bread.

Harissa Rapini with Black Black Pasta

So what better way to highlight the unique flavors of harissa and smoked paprika than tossed with pasta and rapini!

This dish took me under 10 minutes to make and an enormous amount of discipline not to eat the entire pan. I never really cooked with harissa before so I was kind of psyched at this month’s recipe redux theme: From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

This dish fits the bill. The harissa is great because it’s not just heat, it has flavor, too. And the smoked paprika balances it out with a smoky, sweet aroma. If you love rapini you need to make this dish. Of course it’s super simple, too. Only 5 ingredients. I used my go-to, high protein, low carb, gluten free black bean pasta and it was perfect.

Broccoli Rabe Black Bean Pasta with HarissaSo even though my mom did perform the egregious act of allowing me to eat the pickled feet of pigs, I have to give her credit for exposing me to a varied array of healthy greens and vegetables at an early age. It’s probably why they are my favorite foods to eat today.

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 head rapini/broccoli rabe
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb Explore Asian black bean pasta (or any pasta you love)
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Sea Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash the rapini, cut off the long stems and chop coarsely. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Heat garlic and oil in a large saute pan on med high. Add your pasta to the water now. Throw rapini into the warmed oil and garlic, tossing well using tongs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the greens to soften. Once softened, stir in the harissa and smoked paprika. When pasta is al dente, use tongs to add the pasta to the saute pan. Don’t overdrain the pasta, the pasta water clinging to the noodles acts a sauce. Combine the pasta with the rapini and serve. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
http://foodconfidence.com/2015/01/22/smoky-harissa-rapini-black-bean-pasta/

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

Seasoned and roasted Brussels Sprouts tossed with a creamy avocado sauce — pure vegetable decadence!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

This recipe was my way to use up a few perfectly ripe avocados and give my Brussels sprouts an air of decadence. I think I succeeded.

Trader Joes Spice Blend

First I tossed the Brussels with some olive oil and the Zhoug spice blend in the picture above. I love these pre-made spice blends. I always pick them up when I see a new one at the grocery store. This blend was part of a 3-pack from Trader Joes. They really make it easy to roast anything and get great flavor. The Zhoug is a Middle Eastern blend combining chili powder, cumin, dried parsley, cloves, and cardamom.

roasted Brussels sprouts

Once they were roasted, I tossed the Brussels gently with an avocado cream. I could have eaten them just as they were but as I mentioned, I was going for decadence. I blended an avocado with lime juice, some Creme Fraiche I had in the fridge, and a little bit of cumin and chili powder.

Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream -- www.foodconfidence.comI mixed just my lunch portion with the avocado cream and then saved the rest for heating up later. Something about heating the avocado cream mixed with the Brussels just felt wrong. Warm avocado? I just don’t know about that….

Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream -- www.foodconfidence.com

I enjoyed this dish for lunch atop some warmed lentils and it was so satisfying; it’s a great make-ahead dish that will keep all week.

You can find the recipe on my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture today, so click here to get it!

January Juice -- citrus, celery, carrots, parsnip and mint

She’s 40 and Fabulous

Happy Birthday Regan! #RMJis40

No, not me, silly. Today the food blogging world is honoring a good friend, amazing and supportive colleague, and just all-around cool gal on her birthday: Regan Miller Jones.

Regan is a mom, a wife, a great friend and a serial entrepreneur. She is the communications head honcho over at Cabot Cheese and the inspiration behind many a cool project, including The Recipe Redux, Healthy Aperture, Blog Brûlée and RDs for Disclosure.

Knowing Regan has made me a better food photographer, a more enthusiastic blogger, and a wiser business owner. She also makes what are sometimes painful nutrition conferences seem more like fun girlfriend getaways.

Why all the hoopla? Well, she’s turning the big 4-0 today. That’s right, she’s entering what is clearly the coolest decade, in my opinion. As a virtual birthday shout out, myself and a group of her best blogger friends are writing posts today to wish her the best on her big day, to tell her we love and appreciate her, and in case she needs it, to get her pumped up about turning 40.

So Regan, I want you to get excited, my friend, because the best is yet to come! The forties are the decade you discover the most important truths about yourself and life. Look forward to no longer taking things personally, letting yourself be who you are (and pretty much loving it), and realizing that what other people think of you is really none of your business. Oh, and the biggest gift of all? Knowing that in most every aspect of life, you get back exactly what you put in. Pretty amazing stuff, right?

Now you know a virtual food blogger celebration such as this cannot go by without a recipe. And a BIG birthday celebration is nothing without a toast to the birthday girl. But let’s face it, a January 5th birthday might be about as bad as a February 5th birthday. I mean really…who wants to drink one more cocktail or taste one more sweet treat?

January Juice -- citrus, celery, carrots, parsnip and mint

Instead, I am going the healthy route. I’m thinking she (and you) will appreciate it. What better way to ring in your 40’s than with some delicious birthday juice? I’m raising my juice glass today to Regan Miller Jones!

what should I juice? Oranges, grapefruit, carrots, parsnip, celery and mint!

 Happy Birthday, Regan — and here’s to 40 more!

juicing is a great way to start the year! Detox friendly and delicious!

This delicious grapefruit juice pays homage to my cooking style — simple. I whipped it up with what I had on hand and it was nothing short of delicious. I used my juicer, but you can probably make this in your high speed blender just as easily.

Forty and Fabulous Birthday Juice

Forty and Fabulous Birthday Juice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • handful mint
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery
  • 2 parsnips

Instructions

  1. Wash and trim produce. Peel citrus. Juice.
http://foodconfidence.com/2015/01/05/grapefruit-orange-carrot-celery-mint-juice/


Three words for 2015

My Three Words for 2015

Three words for 2015I’m a serial goal setter. I love it. It’s makes me happy to write things down that I want to go and do. Over the last few years instead of creating a New Years Resolution I have practiced something called Three Words.  I decide on three words and they become a theme for my efforts in the year to come. I post the words on my computer and by seeing and reading them each day they become a part of my life. I can begin projects, create tasks, and write to-do lists around my words. Or I can just use them as guiding principles. At the end of the year I am able to look back and see how my words helped to shape the past year. 

I mentioned last week that I didn’t do my Three Words post for 2014. I’m kind of regretting that today. I had a really great year but I don’t know for sure if it was aligned with my intentions. Heck, I don’t even know what my intentions were. But that’s okay. Because today I’m looking ahead, not behind.

My three words for 2015

Align ♦ Simplify ♦ Partner
 

Align – This is a reminder to take on only the projects, people, and ideas that are in line with my values, beliefs, and goals. I often say yes to things for the wrong reasons. No, thank you needs to get back into my vocabulary this year.

Simplify – I’m using this to help me choose the path of least resistance when making decisions. I’m also going to simplify how I get things done so I’m spending less time on the process and more on what really matters.

Partner – I want to bring people and things together. I am creating a new group program in 2015 and partnering with like-minded health professionals and health-oriented businesses. I also want to be a better partner in my relationships.

So that’s it. Once again, wish me luck!

And of course I would love to know your intentions for the year…what are your three words for 2015?  Please share!

Best of 2014...a few of my favorite recipes from foodconfidence.com

Best of 2014: My Favorite Recipes

For the past few years we have spent the week before Christmas someplace warm and sunny. It’s actually kind of cool to be in a tropical environment during the holidays. You get away from the cold, everyone is happy and there’s no fighting crazy traffic just to run into Target.

Best of 2014...a few of my favorite recipes from foodconfidence.com

The down side of doing this is that if you’re not super organized before you leave, you get home and lose all the lovely de-stressing benefits of vacation. This year I am not totally unready, but I probably could have done a little bit better. Maybe next year…

I actually look forward to the end of things. The end of summer and the end of a year are my two favs. I love the idea of starting over. But before I leap forward I think it’s important to look back. Last year at this time I could not wait for the year to end; 2013 was one of the worst years for me personally. It was so bad I didn’t even write my Three Words post. I use my three words instead of making a resolution. I’m actually looking forward to it this year. If you’re like me and you love a good “life theme” consider creating three words instead of a resolution this year. Here’s how.

Today I’m looking back at my year of blogging. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite recipes from the blog, just in case you missed them. When I send a client to my blog, these are the posts I refer to the most. 

Favorite Raw Snack:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/10/03/no-bake-fig-newton-snowballs/

no-bake fig newton balls

Favorite Baked Snack:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/03/24/apricot-orange-energy-bars/

Apricot Orange Energy Bars - gluten free and delish!

Favorite Breakfast:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/08/07/chia-and-oatmeal-breakfast-bowl-cherries/

Chia Oatmeal bowl with cherries -- made with fresh almond milk and homemade cherry Greek yogurt -- ready in 5 mins!

Favorite Fish:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/01/30/recipe-salmon-lettuce-wraps-pistachio-cream/

raw salmon wraps with pistachio cream

Favorite Zoodles:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/07/02/recipe-zucchini-noodles-cherry-tomatoes-black-olives/

puttanesca style zucchini noodles with olives and cherry tomatoes

Favorite Salad:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/01/15/little-book-of-thin/

miso broccoli quinoa salad

Favorite Juice:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/02/22/radish-ly-radical-apple-grapefruit-juice/

Radish apple grapefruit Juice -- perfect for detox or anytime!

Favorite Chowder:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/03/08/creamy-potato-corn-chowder/

guilt free, fat free potato corn chowder

Favorite Pasta:

http://foodconfidence.com/2014/04/09/recipe-black-bean-pasta-olives-cauliflower/

black bean pasta with olives and cauliflower -- gluten free, high in protein and fiber

Okay, that’s it. All of my personal favorites for 2014 bundled up in one place, just for you! I hope you find one that you might like to make! Happy Holidays!

Easy Butternut Squash noodles with lentils

Butternut Squash Noodles with Lentils & Pistachios

A busy girl’s weeknight dinner: butternut squash noodles tossed with cashew cream sauce on a pile of steamed lentils and topped with chili-spiced pistachios. A delicious, gluten free and dairy free meal — on your table in minutes.

Lazy girls weeknight dinner...julienned butternut squash noodles tossed with easy cashew cream on a layer of lentils. Topped with chili-spiced pistachios. Dinner in less than 10 minutes. This dish is as simple as you can get — while still looking like a rockstar in the kitchen. Butternut squash noodles are my version of a pantry meal. Leftover cashew cream sauce from last week. Leftover TJ’s steamed lentils. Bibb lettuce courtesy of a Costco 4-pack. And pistachios…a pantry staple!

Easy Butternut Squash noodles with lentils

These chili-spiced pistachios are a great way to fancify a dish. Just throw them in a bowl, sprinkle with some chili powder and toss with a little bit of really good, tasty olive oil. I use these all the time to add some oomph to a bowl of veggies, salads, grains and pasta. Any nut, seed or spice will work! You can also get fancy with different types of oils, like truffle or avocado oil.

julienne the butternut squash

The noodles are super easy to make, too. No fancy spiralizer needed. A regular vegetable peeler created these long strands of noodles. The size and shape of your butternut will be what predicts the length of your noodles. You can also spiralize your sqaush if you have one. Once you’ve shaved off enough noodles, cut up the leftover squash and roast it for another meal.

Butternut squash noodles with cashew creamI tossed these noodles raw with my cashew sauce. If you want a warmer dish, heat the noodles, not the sauce. It doesn’t heat well. To heat, just add the noodles to a warm pan with a little olive oil and then toss with the sauce. So the next time you’re pressed for time, remember that this healthy, delicious easy to make dish is just a few minutes away!

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Lentils & Pistachios

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Lentils & Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (I use Trader Joe's steamed lentils)
  • 2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil
  • 2 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce
  • For the Cashew Cream
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes or overnight
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 very small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash sea salt, to taste
  • 2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • few drops liquid stevia, optional

Instructions

  1. Blend cashew cream sauce ingredients in a blender until well combined and set aside. Place pistachios, chili powder, and olive oil in a small bowl, mix well and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash into noodles. To heat noodles, warm in a pan with a little olive oil. Remove from heat and toss with a tablespoon or so of cashew cream (you can also toss noodles raw with the warm cashew cream from the blender). Heat lentils and place on top of a few leaves of Bibb lettuce. Top lentils with squash noodles and sprinkle on pistachios.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/12/04/butternut-squash-noodles-with-lentils-chili-spiced-pistachios/
Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian classic! Spaghetti with clam sauce

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

You’re going to love this easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian favorite — edamame spaghetti with clam sauce!

 

Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian classic! Spaghetti with clam sauce

Sometimes when I’m watching Norah reading to her stuffed animals, playing teacher, or just getting joy from a bike ride, I remember my own life at seven years old. It was pretty good times back then. I mean what isn’t great about being in second grade?

When I was in second grade I lived in Long Island, New York…East Rockaway to be exact. Jimmy Carter was President. I have no idea why, but I loved that guy. I used to wear a big, rather 70’s looking, peanut necklace all the time. I used to walk to school — all by myself. I had my first boy crush. I used to follow him home from school every single day. Corey Lonagan was his name. I loved the heck out of Barbies and adored my chalkboard. I absolutely wanted TO BE Wonder Woman. I used to copy her famous spin, whipping my hair dramatically with each turn, secretly hoping it might work and I would become her. This was especially fun to do in the pool. I knew the comfort in having my mom home when I got out of school. I remember the day Elvis died. I walked in from school and found her crying in the kitchen. Crazy to think he was only 42, younger than I am today. So except for the “cold war,” the “energy crisis” and the occasional fight with my sister — life was good.

Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian favorite. Spaghetti with clams

This dish takes me back to the second grade, the good ole’ days of 1977. Not because it was the first time I ate it, I actually don’t remember that. It’s more because it evokes in me that second grade feeling….when life was simple and easy. It also reminds me of family. Lord knows I’ve sat with family eating this dish hundreds of times. It’s the first dish I learned how to make myself, and one that I’ve since made for many other people. It’s a dish that says hey, I love you.

Healthy Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

For this month’s recipe redux theme, “favorite food memories” I’m sharing a healthified version of this classic dish. Back then we didn’t use edamame spaghetti, that’s for sure. It was the real thing, and it was always linguine. Besides that, everything else about this recipe is authentic to my mom’s version.

bean pasta with white clam sauce

It’s crazy how just the sound of the garlic hitting the hot oil makes me smile. And the smell! Amazing. I love the crunchy bits of garlic in this sauce. The cool thing about this dish too is that it’s so simple. You start with a few cans of chopped clams (make sure they’re chopped, not minced), some fresh parsley, chopped garlic (not minced) and salt. That’s it. Toss the sauce with the pasta and you have a tasty dinner. Oh, and in our house pasta was always accompanied by a loaf of Italian bread. The best part of the meal was tearing a piece off and dipping it into the clam sauce at the bottom of my bowl!

spaghetti with clams

To make the dish a bit healthier for today’s eater, I used the Edamame Spaghetti from Explore Asian. It has a ton of protein and fiber, less carbs and only two ingredients: edamame and water. I’ve experimented with these bean pastas quite a bit and I really like them. Try my Black Bean Pasta with Cauliflower or Mung Bean Fettuccine with Leeks and Pumpkin — they are super delicious!

I hope you enjoyed my favorite food memory. I also hope Norah doesn’t get upset in 20 years when she’s seeking comfort in foods like roasted vegetables, avocado, salmon, and Greek yogurt.

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (your choice)
  • 4 cans chopped clams
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • sea salt
  • crushed red pepper, optional

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat olive oil in small sauce pan until golden brown, add UNDRAINED canned clams, parsley and a dash salt. Bring to bowl and then return to simmer until pasta is done. Drain pasta and toss with clam sauce. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread!
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/11/22/edamame-spaghetti-with-clam-sauce/


Buddha Bowl with cashew cream sauce

Buddha Bowl with Creamy Sage Cashew Sauce

This Buddha Bowl of roasted vegetables, lentils, baby greens, and avocado topped with a creamy cashew sauce is pure joy. It’s also dairy free, gluten free and totally delicious. Namaste!

Buddha Bowl with cashew cream sauce

Buddha bowls are a staple meal in my house. They never look or taste the same twice and they are craveable good. I’ve made them a million ways and love them all! I roasted a ton of vegetables last week and I’m feeling very zen-like having eaten so many Buddha bowls the past week. I posted one of my very uncomposed dinner bowls on my Facebook page on Wednesday and was asked a few times in the comments for the recipe. I thought, hmmmm….recipe? I never really thought of a Buddha bowl as having a recipe!

I absolutely want to help you create these fun bowls of love so here goes. The creamy cashew sauce I made for this particular bowl does have a recipe so I will share that, but instead of a recipe for the bowl itself, let’s talk components. Also keep in mind that these bowls do not have to start from roasted vegetables — at all. I just made a bowl yesterday for lunch using the good ole’ microwave. I just steamed the veggies first in the microwave, then tossed them while nice and hot with the greens and then added my sauce, avocado, a few drizzles of my cream sauce and some pumpkin seeds. I didn’t even use a grain or bean in that one. It was a super simple lunch and kept me full for hours!

Possible Buddha Bowl Components

Roasted vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots

Leafy Greens:

  • Baby Kale
  • Baby Spinach
  • Collard Greens
  • Microgreens
  • Sprouts
  • Mache
  • Broccoleaf
  • Green salad mix
  • Arugula
  • Watercress

Grains or Beans:

  • Chick Peas
  • Lentils
  • Black Beans
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Wild Rice Blend

Seeds and Extras:

  • Avocado
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds

Protein Add-ins:

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Organic Chicken or Turkey
  • Wild Salmon
  • Tuna

Sauces or Toppings:

  • Cashew cream
  • Your favorite salad dressing
  • Soy sauce/tamari
  • Lemon juice

Roasted Buddha Bowl

To build the bow, just toss or lay the warm vegetables on the greens to wilt them a bit, then add the rest of your ingredients. If I’m using avocado I usually add it last but you don’t have to. My version is topped with a delicious sage cashew cream sauce that I just adore. Once I make a batch of this delicious sauce, I use it on everything…Buddha bowls, salad, dip for veggies….I pretty much spread it on anything I can find. If you want the recipe you’ll have to visit my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture to get it!

I hope you’ll start adding Buddha bowls to your lunch or dinner meal plans. They are so simple and versatile…and delicious!

brussels sprouts collage

The Best Brussels Sprouts Recipe Roundup

 Enjoy this best-of-the-web roundup of delicious, healthy, everyday and holiday worthy of Brussels Sprouts recipes!

Brussels sprouts recipe roundup on www.foodconfidence.com

I love Brussels Sprouts. If you like them too, consider yourself one of the few. I just read that Brussels are the most hated veggie in America. Really? I have decided that if you don’t like them, it’s because you have not had a life-changing Brussels sprout. And that’s what I’m here for. To get you on the Brussels bandwagon.

I like to consider us Brussels lovers not in the minority — but instead part of an elite group. An elite group who knows that these cruciferous little mini cabbage-like balls are dang delicious when you prepare them correctly. Although I can pretty much eat them any way possible, there is a hierarchy of deliciousness to these little guys. More on that below. But first, let me remind you why these guys are worth your time spent in the kitchen.

Yes, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. But the more compelling reason to eat them is for their cruciferousness. They are among the healthiest of all veggies in this group and have pretty amazing anti-cancer properties. Brussels contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body. These glucosinolates also aid your body’s natural detoxification process and provide strong antioxidant support.

So if cancer prevention is on your to-do list, learn to prepare these guys! You can steam, roast, saute or eat them shredded in-the-raw. As for the hierarchy of deliciousness, if you’re a Brussels newbie, I suggest trying them roasted or sauteed in a little bit of oil or butter, as this way is going to bring out their sweet, caramelized flavor. Steaming and tossing them with butter is also really tasty, but you might have to get to Brussels elite status before going there.

For a little inspiration and motivation, here are a few delicious Brussels Sprouts recipes from a few blogger buddies around the web:

Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts, and Apples from Diethood

I made this sauteed Brussels with Sliced Apples and Candied Walnuts recipe from Diethood last week and have been loving the leftovers for lunch. The apple brings just the right amount of sweetness to the dish!

Brussel-Sprouts-Pistachio (1)

These shredded Brussels from Cookin Canuck are easy to saute quickly and pair well with dried fuit and nuts. Parmesan cheese is always a nice touch.

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate

MJ and Hungryman tossed their Brussels with pomegranate. This looks amazing, with or without the bacon!

Crispy-Thai-Brussels-Sprouts

I love this Thai twist on Brussels Sprouts from the Foodie Dietitian…I can’t wait to try it!

Easy-Brussels-Sprouts-Pita-Pizzas

These Pita Pizzas with Shredded Brussels from Kitchen Treaty are surprisingly simple to make and delicious.

Balsamic Walnut Brussels Sprouts

Brussels + balsamic vinegar are a marriage made in  heaven, as illustrated by this easy roasted dish from fellow RD, Marisa Moore.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Brussels Gratin is a great way to fancy things up. This healthy Brussels Sprout recipe from Liz at The Meal Makeover Moms is her go-to side on Thanksgiving.

Caramelized-Butternut-Squash-Roasted-Brussels-Sprouts-Quinoa

The Iowa Girls Eats mixed her Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Quinoa — a great idea for a main dish!

cauliflower + brussels sprout crust pizza with a white bean spread, caramelized onions + shredded sprouts - what's cooking good looking

And finally, this amazing looking Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Shredded Brussels and Caramelized Onions combines two cruciferous veggies, so it gets the prize for the most healthy!

I hope you are now adequately inspired to get your Brussels Sprouts recipes on the table this holiday season — or any time, really. And please come back and share your own creations!

5 minute thai coconut curry

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry

This delicious vegan, gluten-free Thai-inspired coconut corn curry will take you 5 minutes to make from blender to bowl!

5 minute thai coconut curry

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe
I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the
contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Admittedly, I am not a canned vegetable type of gal. I’ve had the occasional canned corn or peas, but typically I go for fresh or frozen. So when I was asked to review Libby’s new vegetable pouches for Recipe Redux, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. The challenge was to make an appetizer, soup, salad or other side dish in 10 minutes or less using these new Libby’s Vegetable Pouches. They sent me samples of the sweet peas, green beans and sweet corn. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sweet peas when I saw they had 6 grams of sugar per serving. Yes, that means that for every 1/2 cup of peas, they added over a teaspoon of sugar. Aren’t peas sweet enough? I guess not.

With the peas off the table, that left the (naturally) sweet corn and the green beans. I decided to go with the corn. What I love about this recipe is that it literally takes 5 minutes from your blender to your table using basic pantry staples: corn, Thai chili paste, coconut milk, garlic and lime. How easy is that? If you love Thai flavor, I think you will love this quick and satisfying Thai Coconut Corn Curry. I tested it a couple of times using two types of Thai chili paste. You can do this, too….whatever Thai curry paste or sauce you find in your grocery store will work.

Trader Joes Thai Dry Chili Paste

First, I used this jar of Trader Joe’s vegan Thai Curry Paste I had bought a while back. I heated it with a bit of olive oil. It was easy to work with and had a bold, spicy Thai flavor.

Thai Coconut Corn Curry

Assuming that none of you would have the dry paste, I also tested this pre-made sauce version. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference. They were both super tasty and equally simple.

Thai Coconut Corn Curry

The Libby’s pouches are also pretty simple. You just pop them in the microwave and they are done in less than 2 minutes. I don’t microwave food in plastic containers or bags so I poured the corn into a bowl to heat and it worked out just fine. I just had to heat it a bit longer. Some other benefits of using these Libby pouches versus cans is that they’re easy to open (no can opener needed), they take up less space in your pantry, they are more environmentally friendly (they use 75% less energy to produce and reduce waste), and they are travel friendly,too.

It’s important to mention that the packaging is made with “BPA non-intent materials.” This means that BPA has not been intentionally added to the lining, but there could still be trace amounts of BPA from cross contamination during production and because of shared equipment. This new packaging is a step in the right direction by the food industry to limit the use of BPA and in my opinion worth noting.

So if you’re looking for a warm and comforting soup that you can literally whip up in 5 minutes, then try this easy Thai Coconut Corn Curry. Here’s how to make it:

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch Libby's sweet corn (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai Chili Sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 2 tsp lemon grass, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat corn in microwave. Add to small sauce pan with salt, olive oil and chili sauce. Heat for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to blender and add garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, and lemongrass, if using. Blend until well combined. Serve with chopped cilantro.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/11/06/5-minute-thai-coconut-corn-curry/


EWG Food Scores

Eat Cleaner With EWG’s Food Scores

 A great resource that will make eating clean easier than ever — Food Scores!

EWG Food Scores

I am super excited to share an awesome resource with you! I learned about it at a dinner hosted by colleague and fellow dietitian Ashley Koff and sponsored by Share Care and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) are the folks who put out The Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists each year and various other consumer guides to help you lower your toxic exposure. They are my go-to resource for living a clean, detox friendly lifestyle.

So….what’s got me so excited? It’s their latest consumer guide — literally one of the most comprehensive online food databases out there called Food Scores. Food Scores answers all those questions you have rumbling around in your head while grocery shopping….should I eat this? Is it healthy? Is this the best choice? Is this food clean?

Food Scores includes more than 80,000 food products by 1,500 brands and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the best) based on the BIG THREE factors:

  • Nutrition — including calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, sodium, protein, fiber and fruit, vegetable and nut content
  • Ingredients — including the presence of key contaminants, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, and the health implications of certain food additives
  • Processing — the extent to which a particular food has been processed. Scoring factors include modification of individual ingredients from whole foods and the number of artificial ingredients

The scoring reflects the amount of pesticides, food additives, contaminants, and antibiotics that are in the food, in addition to what is stated openly on the food label.

And it’s so simple to use. You can search by product, company, or food category. They also provide a “better alternative” if the food you wanted to eat might not be the best choice. I love the idea of the Food Score not only because it’s going to make grocery shopping a ton easier, but it will also force food companies to step up and make their food healthier!

I don’t know about you, but the Food Scores app is going to get a workout on my next grocery store trip!

 

Tempeh Butternut Squash and Tempeh

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash

Get your squash on with a hearty and delicious chipotle and ancho chili made with organic tempeh and butternut squash!

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash

I love being able to eat the same meal as my husband. It’s a rare occurrence but when it happens, it’s pretty cool. In this particular case, I’m talking chipotle chili!

A simmering pot of tasty chili on the stove while watching the football game marks the beginning of fall in our house. Keep in mind I rarely watch the football game and I hardly ever get to eat the chili, but I still like the idea of it. The typical scenario for me is I’m cooking up a meaty chili for Hany while he’s watching the game. I end up watching him eat the chili while I eat a salad. The worst part about living with a meat-eater is cooking a meal and not being able to eat what you make. But not this time! This time I made a meat-free chili that any meat-eater would enjoy! I used crumbled up tempeh for the meaty part, two different kinds of beans, hominy, and diced butternut squash.

I’m kind of a spice junkie and chili pepper is one of my favorite go-to seasonings. For this recipe I used a combination of chili powders (including chipotle and ancho chili), turmeric and cumin. I garnished with scallions, chopped cilantro and Cabot’s Legacy Collection cheddar cheese. So good! The perfect mix of flavors and a lovely lunch on a sunny fall afternoon.

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash Chili

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 package organic Tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup butternut squash, diced
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 cup hominy
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • Couple of shakes liquid smoke
  • Diced scallions, chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large dutch oven. Add onions, peppers and tempeh along with 1 Tbsp each of the chili powders, cumin, paprika and salt. Saute until vegetables are soft and tempeh is browned.
  2. Once browned, add the butternut squash, beans,hominy, and canned tomatoes along with 1 Tbsp more of chipotle chili and the turmeric. Taste and season, as needed. Add the smoke, if using. Simmer on stove until butternut squash are tender. Serve topped with cheese, cilantro and scallions or whatever you love!
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/10/27/chipotle-chili-with-tempeh-and-butternut-squash/

Pumpkin Leek with Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine

Fettuccine with Pumpkin & Leeks

Try this gluten-free, high protein mung bean and edamame fettuccine tossed with a creamy leek and pumpkin sauce for a simple weeknight meal!

Pumpkin Leek with Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine

I love experimenting with these fun guilt-free bean pastas from Explore Asian. I make my black bean pasta with olives and cauliflower all the time. It’s so filling and high in protein and fiber…what more could you want out of pasta, right? This time I tried the mung bean and edamame fettuccine style noodles and tossed them with a creamy leek and pumpkin sauce.

Mung Bean Fettuccine with Leeks and Pumpkin

This dish was so simple and tasty but is really more about the leeks than the pasta! I love cooking with leeks, they are so flavorful, yet mild…not too onion-y at all. I created this dish for my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture. To get the simple weeknight recipe for Leek and Pumpkin Fettuccine you’ll have to head over there. You’ll also find my addictive Sweet Potato Fried Rice from last month there, too. So go on, click on over to Healthy Aperture and get inspired!

shredded kale pasta with lemon and egg

Lemon Kale Pasta with Dried Cherries & Eggs

 Shredded kale, hard-boiled eggs, dried cherries and Asiago cheese are tossed with olive oil and lemon for a quick and easy weeknight kale pasta meal!

shredded kale pasta with lemon and egg

[Disclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.]

It’s hard to come up with a “new” pasta dish for a pasta challenge. I grew up eating pasta with just about everything. From eggs to cauliflower to pumpkin, I’ve paired pasta with it all. But this contest is more about the fact that pasta is an affordable, fast and healthy option for dinner. And it’s true. I make pasta one way or another every week at my house and I’m thinking anyone who feeds children does, too.

This dish has a few winning aspects to it:

  1. It’s a true pantry dish: you can use any type of pasta you want (see below), you can also use any kind of green you want, and you can use any kind of cheese you want. So whatever you have on hand, use that. So versatile.
  2. Besides the pasta and the eggs, it’s really a no-cook dish.
  3. It’s equally good warm or cold from the fridge.

 

various pasta types

So let’s talk about pasta, shall we? There are so many different types to choose from. I made this kale pasta recipe a few times for this challenge and settled on the cellentani. I wanted a hearty pasta with a nice bite.

A good rule of thumb for choosing pasta is “the lighter the sauce, the thinner the pasta.”  You can’t really go wrong with my olive oil and lemon dressing in this recipe, but once you start getting into thicker, meat based sauces, you’ll want to use a thicker pasta (think mac and cheese, it wouldn’t be nearly as good with angel hair spaghetti). Another really important tip for preparing pasta is not to over cook it. They tell you how long to cook it on the box for a reason. Trust them and you will get perfect pasta every time.

kale pasta with egg

I also wanted my kale pasta to be “make-able” for everyone, so I actually bought of all my ingredients from Walmart. That’s right, except for the dried cherries, everything was found at my local superstore. I will admit, I don’t usually shop at Walmart but I wanted to see if I could find all my ingredients in one store for this dish. And I did, mostly.

I hope you will try this kale pasta dish for a busy weeknight meal that everyone will enjoy.  And stay tuned later this week, I have one more pasta dish to share using a childhood favorite ingredient. Until then, check out my fellow reduxers pasta creations below!

Lemon Kale Pasta with Dried Cherries & Eggs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 box pasta
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Boil eggs. Shred kale and steam in microwave 4 minutes or until softened. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cheese, shredded kale, dried cherries, chopped eggs, garlic, and mint. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss well to combine. Serve warm with more shredded cheese! Also good cold.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/10/05/lemon-kale-pasta-eggs-dried-cherries/


no-bake fig newton balls

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs

These no-bake fig newton snowballs are bite-sized balls of energy. With no-sugar added, they’re a healthy dose of fig deliciousness!

no-bake fig newton balls I am kind of proud of these little snowballs. They are the result of almost an entire Costco-sized bag of dried fig failures, but sometimes you have to keep at it until you get it right. I think I got these little snowy balls of fig newton-y goodness right! I actually have a bit of a history with Fig Newtons. Growing up in the 70’s, my mother was a little ahead of her time in the nutrition department. Breakfast at my house was of the Raisin Bran variety and by that I don’t mean Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, I mean Post Raisin Bran. Oh, yes, there’s a difference. Kelloggs’s Raisin Bran contained plump extra sweet raisins that were coated with sugar. Post Raisin Bran definitely did not. To a grade-schooler this was kind of a big deal. And lunch…well our sandwiches were made with “real” whole wheat bread, not the white-wheat bread of today, but real 100% whole wheat, which back then was pretty much like eating cardboard. There were no chips or processed snack foods in the house, either. Cheez-its? Never going to happen. We ate real food if we were hungry. And dessert? Grab yourself an apple or a peach. So cookies in our house were a real treat. Why my mom gave Fig Newtons the green light is still a mystery, it’s not like they’re low in sugar. We usually had two choices, Hydrox Sandwich Cookies or Fig Newtons. So yes, Fig Newtons in the pantry felt like a little bit of heaven. If anyone has ever tasted a Hydrox cookie, I know you feel my pain. raw fig newton balls Being that Fig Newtons take me back to my childhood, when a client who is currently in my detox program asked me to create a detox-friendly newton, I will admit that I went on a mission. I wanted these bites to taste like the Newton I know and love….and I think I can say that I did them justice. Although probably not at all what you would expect, these n0-bake fig newton snowballs really taste like a bite of a real Newton. I might say they’re even better than the real thing! The fig taste really comes through and the best part is the crust. Instead of making a real crust, I made a powder crust and rolled these little fig balls into it. After a few crust fails, I thought this was a genius idea. creamy fig newton bite center So without further ado, I bring you my fig newton snowballs! I hope you make them and share them with a newton-lover in your life. no-bake fig newton bites Here’s how I made them:

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs

Ingredients

    For the Figs:
  • 1 1/2 cups dried figs, soaked in water for about 20 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • For the Powder Crust:
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 3 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • dash stevia, optional

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, add the ingredients for the crust and process into a flour-like consistency. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Rinse out the food processor and add the soaked figs and the vanilla powder. Process until the figs are broken down. Add 1 Tbsp of water, if needed. Then add 1/2 cup of the powder crust into the processor with the figs and pulse until well-combined. The texture should be soft, but don't over-process. Adjust the texture as needed with the powder crust and water.
  3. Roll the fig mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place balls into freezer while you clean the kitchen (about 10 minutes). Remove from the freezer and one by one roll the balls into the powder crust. Store in the fridge or freezer! Makes about 8-16 balls, depending on the size.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/10/03/no-bake-fig-newton-snowballs/
butternut squash with greens

Roasted Butternut Squash with Broccoleaf Greens

Caramelized and roasted butternut squash tossed with sweet broccoli leaves — step aside kale, there’s a new super-green in town!

butternut squash with greens

Greens are my absolute favorite plant food and I love incorporating different varieties into my meals. My salads typically contain 2-3 different types of greens and I’m always looking for ways to fold greens into food….or fold food into greens!

broccoleaf broccoli greens

Needless to say, I was thrilled when the lovely folks over at Foxy Organic sent me this gorgeous bouquet of Broccoleaf. My husband (and #1 product and food tester) immediately got busy making himself a few turkey sandwich wraps with them. He loves to remind me that his opinion should matter more than mine because he is “mainstream” and well, I am not. I tell him that eating all foods indiscriminately does not make a good tester, but it’s still getting harder and harder to keep that guy away from my deliveries. Anyway….he reported the Broccoleaf made a great wrap with a very mild flavor. If you can’t handle the bite of a collard green wrap, the Broccoleaf could be a nice alternative.

You might be thinking right now…what the heck is Broccoleaf? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s the leaves that surround and cradle the head of broccoli while it’s growing. If you have a garden and grow broccoli, you are very familiar already!

I love the story of how Foxy Organic “discovered” the deliciousness of broccoli greens. They were doing a juicing demo and an employee brought in some broccoli leaves to juice. After tasting the juiced leaves they realized wow, we could sell this stuff and….the rest is history. The best part of the story is that Broccoleaf isn’t just any ordinary leafy green. All greens are nutrient powerhouses but Broccoleaf is special. So special that farmers had already been using the leaves for years to replenish and cleanse their own soil. So not only is it rich in Vitamin A, calcium, folate and a full day’s worth of Vitamin C, it’s also a natural detoxifier! Glucosinolates and other antioxidants in Broccoleaf help protect your cells from oxidative damage and support detoxification in the liver.

roasted butternut squash with broccoli greens

Okay, enough geeking out on Broccoleaf. How did I prepare it? I chopped a few leaves into my salad that evening to really get a taste of it raw before cooking it up. The flavor is definitely reminiscent of broccoli and has a mild, sweet taste. When it came to cooking it, Foxy Organic sent me this roasted butternut squash and broccoleaf greens recipe to try.

butternut squash with greens

I love this dish for it’s simplicity. Nothing but the oven! Usually you would have to saute the greens separately but the broccoleaf is actually roasted in the oven with the squash. Hard to believe I have never done this before??

broccoleaf greens with butternut squash

I hope you’ll look for Broccoleaf at your grocery store. If you can’t find it you could certainly sub in Dino kale or collards. This is really a perfect dish to ring in the fall and start squash season!

Here’s how I made it:

Roasted Butternut Squash with Broccoleaf Greens

Roasted Butternut Squash with Broccoleaf Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Broccoleaf
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (can use the pre-cut version or frozen)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast, to make vegan)
  • 1 Tsp Herbamare seasoning blend, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel a small butternut squash and slice lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and dice the squash into cubes. In a large bowl combine the squash with oil, salt, pepper and herbamare (if using). Once it's well coated, add squash to an oven-safe saute pan or spread out onto a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until just about tender and caramelized.
  2. While squash is cooking,trim the broccoli leaves where they meet the stems. Roll the leaves lengthwise so they resemble a cigar. Slice the leaves crosswise to make wide noodles. After about 30 minutes, remove squash from oven and stir in the broccoleaf noodles. Return to oven for 5-10 more minutes or until greens are tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/09/29/roasted-butternut-squash-with-broccoleaf-greens/
Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Dehydrated cranberries and rich macadamia nuts are the highlight in this delicious little square.  Super easy, no-bake, and no added sugars!

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

This month’s recipe redux theme is pretty out of the box. We are using the food dehydrator! Pretty exciting, huh? Now I’m pretty sure that you don’t have a dehydrator, so I created a recipe that you could make without one. That doesn’t mean that this girl didn’t do some dehydrating, because you know I did!

I love fresh, whole cranberries. I make an awesome raw stuffing that’s tossed with whole fresh cranberries. For me, it’s that juicy tart bite of a fresh cranberry that takes the stuffing over the top! I also love dried cranberries. I use them a lot in salads, snacks and sauces. I find that the store-bought dried cranberries are too sweet. I’ve actually searched high and low for unsweetened dried cranberries. I’m pretty sure they don’t exist. So for this month’s dehydrator challenge, I set out to dry my own cranberries! I made two batches, one using a little simple sugar syrup and another without. Now I know why you can’t find unsweetened dried cranberries. Those puppies are seriously tart!  They’re still tasty, but they definitely need to be added to something that’s already a bit sweet.

how to dehydrate cranberries

To make my dried cranberries I thawed some frozen cranberries overnight and then let them soak in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes, until most of them had little cracks down the center (the few that didn’t crack on their own I sliced with a small knife). Then I soaked the berries in about two tablespoons of simple syrup and spread them out on the dehydrator tray. I set the temp to 135 and let it go all day.

how to dehydrate fresh cranberries

After about 14 hours, my berries were dehydrated! How pretty are they? I just love their plump, gorgeous red color. With my dried berries in hand, I set out to create my squares. Fall is the time of year when I crave my no-bake bites, squares ans balls! There’s something about the shift to cooler weather that makes a hot cup of tea and a homemade bar the perfect afternoon snack.

no-bake cranberry macadamia nut squares

no bake energy bar

This bar is a decadent little gem. Delicious macadamia nuts, creamy almond butter, and steel cut oatmeal combine beautifully with my freshly dehydrated cranberries. I hope you’ll try them the next time you’re hankering for a creamy, nutty, sweet yet tangy little bite of deliciousness. So heat yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy your new favorite fall snack square.

Here’s how to make them:

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking steel cut oats (I use McCains)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp date paste (or about 10 dates, pitted)
  • dash cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Dehydrate your cranberries, if using. Make date paste by soaking 10 dates in water for about 10 minutes. Then pit the dates and throw into food processor with 2 Tbsp of water. Process until a paste forms. Add to the food processor the remaining ingredients and process until a dough-like consistency. Scrape the sides of the food processor as needed.
  2. Make bars, squares or balls with the dough and store in the refrigerator up to one week. Makes about 10 squares.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/09/22/recipe-redux-cranberry-macadamia-nut-squares/

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blog brulee hosts

Blog Brûlée + Clean Eating Recipe Round-Up

I spent last weekend at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont attending Blog Brûlée, a super-fun blog retreat (a.k.a. party) hosted by four amazing RD friends of mine. My attendance at Blog Brûlée was partially funded by the Sponsors of the event, but I wasn’t compensated to write this post.

blog brulee hosts

Gretchen Brown, Deanna Segrave-DalyRobin Plotkin and Regan Miller Jones are not only super cute, they’re also smart, the best at what they do, and they know how to put on a fantastic event!

The retreat was such a great time. It’s always fun to meet in person the people you connect with online every day. And this was a truly inspiring group of healthy food bloggers. The attendees were all affiliated in some way with The Recipe Redux and Healthy Aperture, both of which are the brain-child of Regan Miller Jones. She started these projects with the belief that healthy food bloggers could be successful in a world where the most popular blogs were posting ooey gooey desserts made with cream cheese and butter and stuffed with fudge and Nutella. Okay, so I’m being dramatic. But not really. The sad fact is the most successful blogs are those posting the most unhealthy food.

What did I learn at Blog Brûlée? There’s always something to learn with food photography and I got some very useful tips from Gretchen, who is an amazing food stylist and photographer (check out her gorgeous blog, Kumquat). I learned from Deanna how to take and edit pictures with my iphone that will amaze you (this Snap Seed app is a must-have). Deanna uses an iphone for all of her pictures on her blog, Teaspoon of Spice — can you tell?

All in all the weekend was part party (including wine, cheese, and chocolate tastings) and part educational, with presentations ranging from food photography and styling, SEO and marketing strategies, building a blog community, and how to work with food sponsors while staying true to your own brand.

The speakers included Anne Mauney, MS, RD of Fannetastic Food, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food, EA Stewart, MBA, RD of The Spicy RD, Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD of Meal Makeover Moms, and Brierley Wright, MS, RD, the Nutrition Editor at EatingWell Magazine.

By far the best part of the trip was meeting the other healthy food blogger attendees, all of which I can now call friends. I encourage you to visit their blogs if you’re looking for healthy recipes and reliable nutrition information:

I also want to mention the very generous sponsors of Blog Brûlée. These are food companies I am proud to say I work with, and who were instrumental in making the weekend possible for us:

Okay, now on to the food!

In honor of my clean eating detox starting on Monday, I thought I would share some clean eating, detox-friendly recipes from a few of these great blogger gals! 

muffins

McKenzie’s Raspberry Coconut Carrot Cake Muffins are gluten free, dairy free and have no added sugars. Perfect with a cup of herbal tea on a chilly detox morning.

Butternut-Beet-Quinoa-Salad-7053

Kristina’s Butternut Squash with Beets and Quinoa is a great option for a detox dinner or yummy lunch!

 

PBJ-Thumbprint-Cookies-4

Kylie of Immaeatthat (and my roomie at Smuggs) has an amazing Instagram feed with over 14,000 followers. This girl can cook. And her Thumbprint PBJ cookies are the perfect detox-friendly treat.

Avocado-Salmon-Burger2

Meme’s Salmon and Avocado Burgers are a great way to whip up a satisfying dinner, along with a side green salad.

curry roasted baby carrots

And finally Kara’s gorgeous Curry Roasted Baby Carrots, a simple and delicious side dish…and the perfect way to celebrate the flavors of fall.

Enjoy!

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa

I love cooking with tempeh. It’s such a delicious and healthy way to add texture to a dish and it’s very filling and satisfying. Soy food sometimes get a bad rep in natural health circles. I get it, there’s a lot of debate regarding whether soy is safe to eat. I tend to lean toward the organic, non-GMO, and fermented side of soy.

Tempeh is fermented soy, which means the carbohydrates in the soy have been broken down by mold, yeast or bacteria. This fermentation process transforms the proteins in soy, making them more digestible. It also increases the availability of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the food, making them easier to absorb during digestion — many of which serve as as antioxidants, boost your immune system and are anti-inflammatory.

I’ve blogged about fermentation before and I’m a huge fan. I love adding naturally fermented foods to my diet. This smoky tempeh with quinoa was inspired by a delicious cauliflower rice stir fry I made earlier in the week. I love the whole stir fry concept. It’s so easy  — you really can’t screw it up. If you’re not sure how to stir fry, read this post.

I think the snap peas are what make this stir fry legit. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal and tastes just as good the next day for lunch. I hope you’ll try this smoky tempeh with quinoa.

Also, just as a reminder, this is your last chance to join my Clean Eating Detox. I have an awesome group of detoxers who are ready to start prep week on Monday. If you’re still on the fence about doing a clean eating revamp of your diet, jump off that fence and join us!  Learn more and register here. 

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, agave or honey)
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of tempeh, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 large handfuls snap peas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Add the tempeh cubes and toss to coat all of the cubes. Marinate the tempeh in a bowl, making sure they are all covered, while you prepare the quinoa. Stir the cubes around a few times to make sure they are all well marinated.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water with a dash of salt to a boil. Add your rinsed quinoa, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. When done, remove from heat and let sit.
  3. When quinoa is done and sitting, melt the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh, without the marinade sauce, evenly into the pan. Set the marinade sauce aside for later.
  4. Cook the tempeh for a few minutes, or until lightly well browned on the bottom. Flip the cubes over one by one and cook the other side until lightly browned. Note: Do not walk away from the stove! I flip each little cube separately. I have burned the tempeh many times because I walked away. When the tempeh is done, remove it from the skillet and transfer to a plate.
  5. Add a few teaspoons of oil to the pan and stir in the bell pepper, snap peas, scallion and garlic. Sauté until the veggies begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked quinoa and black beans to the pan, along with the reserved marinade. Then add the tempeh and toss again. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/09/12/smoky-tempeh-with-quinoa-snap-peas/
Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack BallsI spent a few days in Bar Harbor Maine last week to learn about wild blueberries. The trip was sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. It was a great time! I caught up with some fun RD colleagues, saw some beautiful parts of Maine, and of course learned a ton about wild blueberries. I had never been to Maine before and I can’t wait to go back.

This was the view outside my door at the Bar Harbor Inn.

Bar Harbor Inn Maine

Gorgeous right? And the blueberry barrens were just as amazing…..fields and fields of wild blueberries as far as the eye can see.

wild blueberry barrens

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. It really shows the beauty and expanse of the barrens. And what a perfect Maine day! Our visit coincided with the harvest, which begins in late July and continues through August, so it was a busy place (despite this picture). We also toured Wyman’s processing plant and were able to see the whole process – from picking to freezing. I was pleased to learn that wild blueberries are frozen fresh within 24 hours of harvest, when their flavor and antioxidants are at their peak.

wild bluberries

Wild blueberries are not the same as the cultivated type you buy fresh in the grocery store. Unlike regular blueberries, wild blueberries are not planted. They literally grow “in the wild” and thrive in the harsh climates of northern Maine, Eastern Canada and Quebec. This ability to thrive in those harsh climates is the reason wild blueberries contain twice the antioxidants of regular blueberries. Another big difference is there isn’t just one kind of wild blueberry — there are 1,000’s of varieties growing all at the same time. You can see in the picture above the different shapes and sizes of the berries, each with their own unique blueberry flavor.   

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls 3

So coming back from this trip I knew I would make something using wild berries for this month’s Recipe Redux theme: Bars & Bits for Brown Bags. I wanted a strong wild blueberry flavor and I definitely got it with these delicious little bites of blueberry goodness! They are no-bake balls so you can literally whip them up in 5 minutes with your food processor. What’s different about these balls is that I used the frozen wild blueberries in the mix. So if you eat them right after you make them they’re really cold and refreshing — and if you let them thaw a bit they are melt in your mouth delicious.  You pretty much can’t go wrong either way!

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls 4

These wild blueberry snack balls are perfect for a lunch box or after-school snack, a grab-and-go breakfast or just a fun dessert. I rolled them in shredded coconut, but I bet cocoa powder or hemp seeds would also be delish. You could just eat them plain, too!

Here’s how I made them. Enjoy!

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Ingredients

  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 heaping cup wild blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • Shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Instructions

  1. Process the nuts, dates, vanilla and almond butter in the food processor. Then add frozen (not thawed) wild blueberries and process again until well blended. Wet your hands a bit and roll mixture into balls. Freeze balls for an hour or so to harden, if needed. Then remove from freezer and roll in the coconut. I do this in a bowl. If you want them soft, store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want them super cold, store in the freezer! Both are delicious.
  2. This recipe makes about 8 balls, double as needed.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/08/22/raw-wild-blueberry-snack-balls/

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls

And don’t forget to click the link below to check out what my fellow reduxers made for this month’s theme!

skinny bloody mary

Bloody Mary, Skinny Juices Style

skinny bloody mary

I was asked by Williams-Sonoma to share my personal spin on the iconic Bloody Mary using freshly juiced tomatoes. Since my book has been out I’ve been answering a lot of questions about juicing, so I thought I would also share a few tips on juicing and juicers.

The very first thing I want to clear up (and what I get the most questions about) is the difference between juicing and blending. I explain this in my book, but let me break it down for you here, too. Simply put, juicing requires the use of a juicer. A juicer, unlike a blender, works by extracting the liquid part of fruit or veggies from the solid part, leaving behind what we call “pulp” (aka insoluble fiber). Please don’t get yourself into a frenzy over this fiber piece. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say that “there’s no fiber in juice” — well, you know the saying. In fact, I would love for you to stand up right now, wherever you are, and just start yelling very loudly hey everybody — there IS fiber in juice! Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but some days that’s how I feel. If you don’t believe me, let your juice sit on the counter or in the fridge for a few minutes and then look at it. What do you see? It’s the soluble fiber (not the insoluble kind) that is at the bottom of that glass. It’s also what makes the juice appear cloudy. So contrary to what you read and hear, there is soluble fiber in juice. But not a ton. Which makes it pretty darn easy for your body to absorb the juice and shuttle all those amazing vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and plant nutrients into your bloodstream almost instantly, giving you that jolt of energy that everyone talks about. And, depending on your juice ingredients, it can even be quite filling. This Bloody Mary was hearty, let me tell you! Why? Because this is what’s in it:

juicing veg

My Bloody Mary consists of 2 large tomatoes, 2 scallions, 1 lime, 2 stalks celery, 2 cups baby carrots (I didn’t have any whole carrots), and 1 head of Romaine lettuce. You could probably blend all this together as well, but it would be much thicker and not really drink-like. This is because blending is totally different than juicing. For one, no juicer is required…just a blender will do. For two, you’re not separating the liquid and fiber from the produce, you’re just blending everything up together, usually with some liquid, into a smoothie. So blending keeps all the fiber intact, which in turn requires your body to do a lot more work digesting. This slows down how fast the nutrients reach your cells and doesn’t give you that energy burst like juicing does. That being said, you can make a meal out of your smoothie by blending in nuts and nut butters, seeds, greens, yogurt, protein powder and many other fun stuff. This gives your smoothie an altogether different nutrient profile than you get from juice, and why they’re often used to replace a meal.

I also want to point out that there’s more to fruits and vegetables than just fiber. They are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other plant nutrients that are important in preventing disease and keeping us healthy. So as you can see, one is not better than the other. I blend and I juice and love them both. But generally speaking, juice is not a meal. It’s a supplement. As I discuss in my book, think of juicing as your daily (or weekly) multivitamin.

So how do you choose a juicer? There are quite a few to pick from. I use a Breville juicer at home. It’s not the best of the best, it’s very middle of the road, but it’s fast, easy to clean, and it makes a decent (even a bit pulpy) juice. These were my criteria. You may have different needs. If you need some help deciding, shoot me an email or ask me here on Facebook.

Here’s a quick low-down on the different types of juicers straight from my book:

Centrifugal Juicers

These are your “drink and go” juicers. They’re perfect for anyone new to juicing because they’re fast, easy to assemble and clean, and fit most any budget. These juicers work by forcing the produce down a shoot into a fast spinning disk blade that sits inside a mesh basket. The juice is then pushed through a fine strainer via centrifugal force into an external juice container.

Pros: easy to assemble and use; wide-mouthed produce shoot allows for less prep time chopping; works well with most fruits and non-leafy greens; least expensive; easy to clean, and widely available.

Cons: higher speed creates a more foamy juice; enzymes and nutrients are oxidized at a much faster rate; not suitable for juicing wheatgrass and leafy greens; produces the least amount of juice, and can leave behind a wet pulp; juice is best consumed immediately.

Masticating Juicers

These juicers may also be known as slow juicers, cold press, single gear, or single auger juicers. They work by grinding the produce through a super slow spinning auger (with no blades) that gently crushes and squeezes the juice from the produce. The process is slow, allowing for less oxidation and nutrient loss as compared with centrifugal juicers.

Pros: easy to assemble and use; well suited for juicing leafy greens, herbs, and sprouts; some are able to grind nuts and grains; higher juice yield and slower speed results in less oxidative damage and a higher nutrient content; produces less foam and separation compared to centrifugal juicers; can make juice in large batches for storage up to forty-eight hours with minimal nutrient loss.

Cons: slower speed means more time in the kitchen; more moving parts may take longer to clean; smaller produce shoot means more time chopping and prepping produce for juicing; more expensive than centrifugal juicers.

Twin Gear Juicers

These juicers might also be called dual-gear or triturating juicers and are second only to the hydraulic press in terms of quality and juice yield. They work by using two slow-moving spinning gears to squeeze and press the juice out of the produce and often contain magnets inside the gears to prolong nutrient retention. They come in electric and manual hand-crank versions which are designed specifically for juicing wheatgrass.

Pros: produces an excellent quality juice with high retention of nutrients; can juice most fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, sprouts, herbs and wheatgrass; can grind grains and nuts; can juice in large batches for storage up to forty-eight hours with minimal nutrient loss.

Cons: slower speed means more time in the kitchen; more moving parts may take longer to clean; more costly than masticating or centrifugal juicers; juices soft fruits like mango and pineapple poorly.

Hydraulic Press Juicers

These juicers are the cream of the crop! It produces the highest yield and highest quality juice. It works by slowly and gently pressing the juice out of the produce, leaving most of the nutrients intact.

Pros: excellent quality juice due to very little oxidation and nutrient degradation; can be used for most fruits and all vegetables, greens, herbs, and sprouts; can make large batches and store up to seventy-two hours.

Cons: slowest to juice; may be very loud; hardest to clean; significant investment; juices wheatgrass poorly.

You can also check out Williams-Sonoma for their juicers. They have a pretty solid selection of slow-type masticating and fast-type centrifugal juicers for purchase. They also sell the Vitamix and call it a “Whole Food Juicer” — I kind of like that but I really don’t think of my Vitamix as a juicer.

homemade bloody mary

When I was whipping up this Bloody Mary I used my Green Mary Detox recipe from Skinny Juices as the base. To it I added some olive juice (what’s a bloody without olives?), Worchester sauce, horseradish and a very small dash of salt and pepper. Because my base already had so much flavor, I really didn’t need to add much else. Obviously there are a ton of ways you can customize a Bloody Mary, so have at it! Mine was actually a mocktail, since it did not contain any vodka.

Bloody Mary’s are just one fun drink you can make with your juicer. There are endless options for getting your juice on in creative ways. I love adding some texture to my drinks so many of my recipes include fun add-ins like pomegranates, grapes and cocoa nibs and I also love to add cinnamon and ginger to most of my juices.

Cheers!

Skinny Bloody Mary

Ingredients

  • 2 big juicy tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1-2 scallions
  • 2 large carrots (or 2 cups baby carrots)
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp olive juice
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 oz vodka, optional

Instructions

  1. Run vegetables through juicer. Pour into pitcher and add remaining ingredients. Stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. Makes 2 servings.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/08/20/skinny-bloody-mary-recipe/
Chia Oatmeal bowl with cherries -- made with fresh almond milk and homemade cherry Greek yogurt -- ready in 5 mins!

Chia and Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Cherries

Disclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Quaker Oats and National Dairy Council. I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Chia Oatmeal bowl with cherries

For this post I’m entering a recipe redux challenge sponsored by the National Dairy Council and Quaker Oats to combine the nutritional and culinary power of oats and dairy.

As big fans of no-bake snacks and muesli (especially my Cereal Swag) we eat a ton of raw oatmeal in my house. And on most days, Norah can’t get enough Greek yogurt into her belly. That being said, I thought this challenge was the perfect way to use these two ingredients to create something creamy, decadent and dessert-like, without all the added sugar and fat.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal

This chia and oatmeal breakfast bowl hits the spot. Why is this the most perfect breakfast? For one, it’s creamy and decadent while still being healthy. It’s got lots of fiber to keep you full, lean protein to keep you satisfied, and a little healthy plant fat for delicious texture. And don’t forget the minerals…this breakfast is a great source of potassium, phosphorus, manganese and calcium.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal BowlIt’s also very versatile. You can use any fruit you have on hand, you can mix up the yogurt flavor, or you can use different types of nut butter. It’s super easy to make, too. First I blended a spoonful of almond butter with some water and vanilla extract (plus a few dates for some sweetness).  Then I added the raw oatmeal and chia seed. I love the thickening power of chia and it was perfect to give the oatmeal some bulk. While the oatmeal mixture was setting up I stirred some cherry juice into plain Greek yogurt. You could use any type of yogurt you want here, I just like the tang of plain.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal

I served it layered in the these cute glasses I got from the Home Goods store, but you can totally use a bowl. Don’t forget to top it off with tons of cherries!  So delicious and perfect after a workout. I hope you’ll try it.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal

 

Chia and Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Cherries

Ingredients

  • 1/2-3/4 cup raw oats
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seed
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened cherries, thawed
  • few drops stevia, optional

Instructions

  1. Blend the almond butter, water, dates and vanilla extract in a blender. Then add oats and chia seed and blend again until well combined. Place the Greek yogurt in a small bowl and stir in some of the cherry juice from the thawed cherries. You can sweeten this up with some stevia or honey at this point, if you'd like. Layer the yogurt and the oatmeal mixture in a bowl and top with cherries.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/08/07/chia-and-oatmeal-breakfast-bowl-cherries/

citrus mint and kiwi bubbly

Healthy Cocktail: Citrus, Mint & Kiwi Bubbly

citrus mint and kiwi bubbly

I spent a few days last week in California, courtesy of Sunkist, to visit a citrus grove and learn about using citrus to lower salt content when cooking. Whenever I visit California I wonder why I don’t live there. It’s so gorgeous. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting and learning from Matthew Biancaniello of Eat Your Drink. Matthew is an amazing cocktail chef. I call him a chef because he was so much more than a bartender. He crafts unique and delicious healthy cocktails using farm-fresh organic foods, wild aromatics (he forages for wild plants in his spare time) and herbs from his own herb garden. His drinks were so tasty and delicious I haven’t stopped talking about them since I got back. I mean who makes cocktails with leek flowers and sage? If you’re on Instagram, search the hashtag #sunkistcitrus for a peek at some of his creations.  

So this month’s recipe redux theme could not be more perfectly timed –> spirits, extracts and other alcohols. What a great opportunity to test out my new healthy cocktail making skills! I do want to point out that although I use alcohol in my recipe it’s definitely not the star, nor is it really necessary. You can use infused mineral water or any other beverage you like to get the same effect.

Matthew’s template for a healthy cocktail is pretty simple. You take 2 oz spirit of choice + 3/4 oz fresh lime or lemon juice + 3/4 oz honey syrup + fruit of your choice + herb of your choice. I love that Matthew’s drinks build upon another huge part of my life: juicing! Many of the recipes in my juicing book can be served in this way to take your juice to a whole new level of deliciousness.

drink ingredients 2

As usual, I’m a fan of using what I have on hand when developing new recipes. This is what I had on the ready: oranges, limes, my sister’s home grown orange mint, orange blossom honey, kiwi, and cucumbers.  My challenge was to make a healthy cocktail using these ingredients. First I made the honey syrup, which is similar to simple syrup but you use equal parts honey and water instead. I haven’t purchased a muddler yet — the most important kitchen tool in this process — so I used my Vitamix instead to smash the ingredients together. It was definitely a bit too thick, but I actually didn’t mind. I kind of enjoy eating my drinks!

Once I had the taste right, I poured some of the mixture into a shaker, added prosecco and ice, and shook it up. Then I strained it into a glass. I actually didn’t strain it very well so it’s much more thick than Matthew’s drinks were but I liked it that way! If you want it to be more juice-like, then just strain it well. I zested some orange peel on top for more orange flavor and for a little color. I didn’t serve it with ice but that’s an option, too. I’m just not an ice in my drink kind of gal.

orange, mint, cucumber cocktail

The flavor was orange-y, herb-y and delicious and the drink was super refreshing — perfect for a summer afternoon!

orange lime drink2

I hope you’ll try this fun, healthy twist on cocktails at your next party or gathering. And don’t forget to scroll down and see what my other reduxers are making with spirits this month!

Citrus Mint & Kiwi Bubbly

Ingredients

  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 1/2 orange, peeled
  • 1/2 lime
  • handful orange mint (or any mint/herb you have)
  • 1/4 cup honey syrup (I used orange blossom)
  • 2 oz Prosecco (or any spirit, or mineral water)

Instructions

  1. Muddle together the lime juice, kiwi, orange segments, honey, cucumber and mint leaves in a shaker. Add Prosecco and ice, Shake.
  2. If using a blender, blend ingredients together and then pour contents into a shaker with Prosecco and ice and shake.
  3. Strain liquid into a glass with ice and garnish with cucumber and orange zest.
  4. Serves 2
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/07/22/healthy-cocktail-citrus-mint-kiwi-bubbly/


Mixed Greens salad with warm cranberry dressing

Green Salad With Warm Cranberry Dressing

Mixed Greens salad with warm cranberry dressing

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a warm salad dressing. Probably because the warm dressing recipes I come across usually involve bacon. That’s why I was intrigued by this warm dressing that replaces the bacon with something more nutritious, more delicious and more beautiful….dried cranberries!

green salad with cranberry dressing

If you like cranberries you will love this dressing. It’s the perfect blend of tart cranberry flavor balanced with just the right amount of sweetness. Yes, dried cranberries do contain some added sugar. You actually have to sweeten cranberries to enjoy them. In fact, fresh cranberries (the kind you make cranberry sauce with) have roughly the same amount of sugar as a lemon, so they need a little sweetener to be palatable.

green salad with warm cranberry dressing

I decided to test the dressing on my favorite go-to salad…my everything but the kitchen sink salad…my salad that I throw together more than a few times per week when I’m pressed for time. It’s a mix of baby spinach and kale, orange bell peppers, hearts of palm, cucumbers, avocado, a can of tuna and a handful of pumpkin seeds, all tossed together in this creamy warm cranberry dressing. YUM!

So let’s get you making this recipe, shall we?

Green Salad With Warm Cranberry Dressing

Ingredients

    For the Dressing:
  • 4 Tbsp cranberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Salad:
  • 4 cups baby greens like spinach and kale
  • 1/4 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 hearts of palm, chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • Whatever else you want to put in it!

Instructions

  1. Place cranberry juice and dried cranberries in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in vinegar and Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil so the mixture becomes a dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Rinse spinach and kale leaves and place in large bowl. Add vegetables, avocado and pumpkin seeds. Gently toss salad ingredients with the dressing and serve.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/07/18/recipe-green-salad-warm-cranberry-dressing/

Disclosure: This dressing recipe is not mine. It was provided to me by the Cranberry Marketing Committee. The Cranberry Institute sent me free samples of cranberries to test this recipe but I was not compensated to write this post. I just really dig cranberries. Don’t you?

trader joe's favorites

Food Finds: My 8 Top Trader Joe’s Favs

trader joe's favorites Trader Joe’s has been creating food especially for me. Well not officially, but that’s how it feels these days. Inspired by this post from The Kitchn, I thought it was high time I shared some favorite finds from my neighborhood TJs.

Here goes:

The raw, fermented sauerkraut is my most recent find and probably the most exciting.  Why do I love thee? Well for one, this ‘kraut tastes fantastic. A long time fan of Bubbies, I have to admit, it’s a little…shall I say…pungent.  But not this sauerkraut! It’s the delicious addition of Persian cucumbers that has me eating half the container in one sitting. I think the cucumbers make it a bit less crunchy and gives it a slight sweet taste. It’s also fermented and raw. This means there’s no vinegar or cultures added and it’s not cooked or pasteurized. I love the delicious just-right combination of cabbage, cucumbers, sea salt and garlic – naturally preserved and a great source of probiotics (which are good for you, remember?).

I discovered TJ’s miso paste in April and was delighted. Hey, that’s one less trek to the Asian grocery store for this girl. This miso is a mild yellow type and I pretty much use it every single day. In case you’re wondering, the Japanese have been fermenting soybean into miso paste for over 1,000 years. It gives food that delicious umami flavor that you probably love, even if you don’t know it. Added bonus: Trader Joe’s uses organic soybeans and their miso is vegan and gluten-free.

I don’t have to tell you that I love my green juice. I mean geez, I even wrote a book about juicing. So you can imagine how excited I was to see that Trader Joe’s now has their own line of green juice. The best part? The price tag. Only $4.99 (other juice brands charge twice that). And it’s tasty, too. Only 10 grams of natural sugar and 100 calories in the whole bottle; it’s a perfect pick me up any time of the day. Their Green Juice contains seventeen kale leaves, a whole pound of spinach, a quarter of an English cucumber, one stalk of celery, one lemon, and two inches of ginger!!  And only one apple, which I think is the perfect sweetness. They press out the juice using a slow hydraulic press (the mack daddy of all juicers) and then preserve it using a cold water pressure method called High Pressure Processing (HPP). The companies that use this process (pretty much all of the juicing brands) claim it does not reduce the drinks nutritional value or flavor. Did I mention it’s only $4.99?

I got hooked on roasted seaweed snacks when I started my Clean Eating Detox. On the lookout for snacks that were detox-friendly and nutrient rich (high in vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as iodine and fiber) I fell in love with the odd but addictive flavor of these snacks. I buy 5 of these bags at a time. They’re only  60 calories for the entire package. I like the plain flavor but they also have a spicy wasabi. They’re the perfect side to a sandwich at lunch or a nice mid-day snack with some almonds. I also make mini nori rolls with them for Norah by wrapping them in cooked rice.  So good!

It’s no secret I’m a peanut butter fan first, but I do love Trader Joe’s Almond Butter…..mostly because it’s such a great value. It’s the least expensive option for any nut butter lover! It’s also natural and minimally processed, no sugar or anything added. Yes, you can make your own almond butter pretty easily but if you don’t have the time or the inclination, this is a great second-best!

The coconut milk at Trader Joe’s is a staple in our house. We use it in smoothies, oatmeal, my DK Cereal Swag, chia pudding, etc. I love TJ’s version because it doesn’t contain carrageenan and it tastes pretty good. It’s dairy free, soy free and vegan. They’ve got unsweetened plain and vanilla as well as the sweetened versions.

The organic virgin coconut oil is another great TJ’s find. Again, the price point can’t be beat and the product is so versatile. I use it mainly in the kitchen, but there are many other uses for coconut oil…I know people who use it on their hair, as soap, as shaving cream, as hand and body lotion and even toothpaste! I will admit I’ve slathered it on my very dry heels in the winter but other than that, I am not so adventurous. TJ’s coconut oil is cold pressed, raw filtered and unpasteurized — pretty good stuff for just $5.99.

And finally my latest obsession is white balsamic vinegar. For someone who makes their own salad dressing, I tend to get overly excited about vinegar. I love the delicate flavor of this white balsamic, it has the perfect balance of flavor without overpowering my salad. I whisk a  few tablespoons of this with a tablespoon of miso and some olive oil and I’m set to go…delish!

So now it’s your turn, what are YOUR favorite Trader Joe’s finds? 

puttanesca style zucchini noodles with olives and cherry tomatoes

Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes & Olives

Zucchini noodles with cherry tomatoes and black olives

I think pasta might be making a comeback. I keep seeing recipes everywhere for fun, light, summery dishes using orzo, penne, and spaghetti.I admit I long for the days when I could feast on pasta and not feel like I’m committing  a crime. Is pasta bad for me? Probably not. Can I eat an “appropriate” amount and feel satisfied? Definitely not. Especially when my mom is the one making it. That’s why I love zucchini noodles. I can be a little glutinous and still feel good about myself.

puttanesca zucchini noodles - Foodconfidence.com

Last week I shared this cold zoodle salad with you. This week I went with a warm dish. Pasta Puttanesca is actually a childhood favorite. I love anything with olives and although this is not a traditional Puttanesca sauce, it worked perfectly for me.

heirloom cherry tomatoes

These fancy cherry tomatoes were my inspiration. Aren’t they amazing? They made a lovely base for my sauce. I sauteed them in a pan with some olive oil, garlic and anchovy paste until softened. Then I added the capers, olives and fresh basil. My house smelled gorgeous while this sauce was cooking up. To me, there’s not much better a smell than that of sauteed garlic — it’s always the start of something delicious!

zucchini puttanesca

It’s such a simple dish, yet it has so much flavor. If you love Puttanesca, you will love this sauce! So tell me, have you tried substituting your favorite pasta dishes with zucchini noodles yet? I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be so happy you can start to enjoy pasta again without feeling “bad” about it.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes & Olives

Ingredients

  • 3 zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste (I use the kind in the tube; vegetarians -- feel free to omit)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once heated, add garlic and anchovy paste, if using. Cook until anchovy dissolves and garlic browns. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until softened about 5-8 minutes. Then add the capers and olives. Simmer for about 5 minutes more, or until the tomatoes make a sauce. Add salt, to taste. Stir in the basil. While sauce is cooking, spiralize the zucchini and place in large bowl (I cut my noodles with a kitchen scissor so they are easier to eat). When ready, toss the sauce with the zucchini and eat immediately.
http://foodconfidence.com/2014/07/02/recipe-zucchini-noodles-cherry-tomatoes-black-olives/