Green Lentil Salad

Who doesn’t like an easy, mindless recipe?  That’s what this lentil salad recipe basically is, plus, it makes great leftovers, is super healthy and tastes delicious!  I think it’s perfect for this season when the weather is warmer since our bodies are looking to be nourished with more cooling foods.

It’s best to prepare your lentils within a couple months of buying them as it’ll make cooking them simpler.  Know that it is best not to add salt or any acidic ingredients to the lentils until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, as this will result in crunchy lentils even though they’re cooked.  Also, there are different types of lentils, therefore, different cooking methods required, so this recipe specifically calls for green lentils.

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Ingredients

-1 cup green lentils

-2 cups chicken broth (or water)

-1/2 yellow onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-1 bay leaf

-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

-1 avocado, cubed

-2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

-1 tablespoon pesto

-1/2 lemon

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon

-Splash of red wine vinegar

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Rinse lentils in a mesh strainer making sure to check for pebbles (remove pebbles if you find them).  Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.  Once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds or until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and bay leaf to the pot with broth or water.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  Once at a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt to the pot the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Remove from the heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes so lentils can soak up the rest of the water.
  3. While the lentils finish cooking, make the dressing by mixing together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small cup or bowl.
  4. To a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, lentils, feta, avocado, pesto, and the dressing.  Option to serve with a side of toasted pita bread.  Enjoy!

Guilt-Free Chocolate Banana Avocado Cookies

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I have a dangerous sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, and sometimes my go-to tricks to suppress my cravings just don’t work. It’s moments like these that I find it necessary to have two foods on hand, an avocado and a banana, so that I can quickly whip up a guilt-free dessert. I have another two desserts I love, my raw chocolate mousse and ,  that can be made with avocado and banana instead of using ingredients like sugar, milk or butter. The other thing I love about my raw chocolate mousse and these delicious chocolate cookies is that they take less that 15 minutes to make. Can’t beat that.

So these cookies were my first attempt. They came out delicious, but a little thin and gooey. Didn’t bother me one bit, but if you’re a burnt cookie lover, then maybe try baking yours longer than 12 minutes. These would actually pair incredibly well with vanilla ice cream, but since we’re being healthy, maybe make some banana ice cream instead or pour some almond milk over the cookies and eat with berries, or just enjoy the cookies on their own… you decide 🙂

Ingredients

-1 banana

-1 ripe avocado (but not brown on the inside)

-1 egg

-1/2 cup dark cacao powder

-1 scoop peanut butter (optional- I used Earth Balance peanut butter with coconut oil)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-dark chocolate chips to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start by placing banana chunks and the avocado flesh in a food processor and mix. Next add the egg, baking soda, peanut butter (optional), and cacao powder. Continue to mix.
  3. Toss in some chocolate chips (also optional). Scoop the mix into balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.

 

I adapted this recipe from Paleo Leap and made it my own.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Guilt-Free, Raw Chocolate Mousse in Five Minutes

This chocolate mousse recipe is a quick, five minute dessert that’ll satisfy your cravings without making you feel guilty.  Instead of loading up on egg yolks, cream, and sugar, this recipe is raw and substitutes those less healthy ingredients for healthy avocado and banana.

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Ingredients:

-1 banana

-1 avocado

-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

-3 tablespoons organic coconut oil

-2 tablespoons honey or stevia (optional)

-1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

1. Place ingredients in a food processor and process until very smooth (there’s no over processing with this dish!)

2. Spoon mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate for an hour before serving.  Top with fresh berries if you like!

8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

Looking for more tips?  Subscribe to my newsletter!

Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Meatless Monday- Rice with Kale and Toasted Cashews

We live such busy lives that we deserve an easy, warm, home cooked meal. So many nights I find myself digging through the pantry looking for an quick dinner.  This rice dish with kale and cashews is great because it’s simple and it offers a little bit of everything- whole grains, protein, healthy fat, and leafy green vegetables. I also love it because it can last a few days, so you only need to cook once and eat three or four times, something that’s ideal for the average busy person.

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Ingredients:

-1 cup uncooked arborio rice

-3 cups water or chicken broth

-a couple handfuls of cashews

-1 bunch laciano kale, stems removed and leaves massaged

-1/2 cup chopped onion

-1 tablespoon organic butterunnamed-2

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

1. Saute onion in oil and butter in a skillet for three minutes.

2. Add rice and stir for two minutes.

3. Stir in 1 cup broth or water. Cook and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Gradually stir in next cup of liquid.  Add kale to rice and mix in.

 

4. When liquid is absorbed, add remaining one cup liquid.  Meanwhile, toast cashews until unnamed-3golden brown, about three minutes.  When the last of the broth/water is absorbed and kale is wilted, add toasted cashews. Serve and enjoy!

Shepard’s Pie

Shepard’s Pie is such a comforting winter dish and makes for great leftovers.  It’ a classic, traditional recipe, although this was my first time trying the dish with lamb and not beef.  The meat and vegetables were so satisfying and flavorful on their own that I can even recommend this dish sans potatoes.

Some of the equipment you’ll need you should already have stocked in your kitchen, and if not, consider buying the following things:

Mixing bowls            Potato masher or food mill          Large ovenproof casserole dish

Cutting board           Large pot                                          Spatula

Kinfe                           Saute pan                                         Microplane or other zester

For the filling:

-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 Spanish onion, diced

-2 stalks celery, small diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 whole celery root, peeled and medium diced

-1 lb ground lamb

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-1/2 cup red wine

-2 tbsp fresh mined rosemary

-2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced

-1 tsp whole mustard seed

-1 tsp coriander seed

-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the mashed potatoes:

-2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

-3 tbsp kosher salt

-2 bay leaves

-1 dried chili pepper

-2 tbsp unsalted butter

-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

-2 tbsp grated horseradish, preferably fresh

-zest of 1 lemon

-salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel potatoes and cut them into quarters.  In a large pot, add chilies, bay leaves, salt, and potatoes.  Add enough water to fully cover the potatoes and cover the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid removed for about 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.  Strain and discard bay leaves and chilies.

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Place cubed potatoes in pot with chilies, salt, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover all the potatoes.

2. Prepare onion, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  Place all diced vegetables and herbs in a dish, leaving garlic on the side.

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Cut both the carrots and celery into thirds first

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Dice carrots

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Peel the celery root

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Medium dice the celery root spears

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Diced carrots, diced celery, diced onion, diced celery root. Leave garlic on the side, since that’ll be the last thing to go into the pan with the meat.

3.  In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb and brown.  Add mustard seed and coriander seed.  Add onions, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and combine with a spatula.

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4.  When vegetables have cooked slightly, add garlic and tomato paste and mix.  Add red wine.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

5. After potatoes have cooked and drained, use a masher or food mill to mash potatoes.  Add butter, lemon zest, olive oil, and horseradish.  Add grated cheddar cheese.  Transfer lamb mixture to a deep ovenproof baking dish and spread evenly.  Adjust seasoning.  Spread a layer of potatoes over the lamb mixture and run a fork over the top, creating ridges.  Bake until potatoes are golden and the lamb is hot, about 15-20 minutes.

6.  While the dish is baking, prepare the mint and parsley to garnish.  When potatoes are done, remove and sprinkle the mint and parsley over the potatoes.  Drizzle some olive oil and serve!

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What’s For Breakfast?

Here are two breakfast ideas to fit your busy schedule:

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1. Steel cut oats topped with fresh fruit, chopped nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cacao nibs, and organic maple syrup.

-3/4 cup water
-1/4 cup steel cut oats

-fruit of choice (bananas, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)

-handful of chopped nuts (almond, walnut)

-1tsp each of hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cacao nibs

-organic maple syrup to taste

For those of you with sugar cravings, like myself, I find that adding a bit of healthy cacao nibs to my oatmeal early in the day reduces my cravings later in the evening.  Give it a shot.

Easy Steps:

-Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add steel cut oats and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in other toppings.  BOOM, done!

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2. The Perfect Fried Egg

My recommendation for the best ever fried egg is to cook it in a cast iron skillet.  If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, get one. Not only will it add iron to your diet, but it doesn’t contain the chemicals found in nonstick pans, and it transfers easy from stove top to oven.  Even if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, my recommendation for the perfect fried egg is to add about 2tbs extra virgin olive oil and heat on the skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, crack the eggs and salt and pepper them.  Add about 1tbp of water to the pan with the eggs and cover the skillet.  After a few minutes (5 minutes if you’re not using a cast iron skillet) your fried eggs are done.

I personally love to lay my fried eggs over a bed of vegetables or on avocado toast.  Sometimes I add bacon or toasted prosciutto 🙂 I cook my eggs in extra virgin olive oil because it’s important to have those healthy fats, like the fats found in vegetable oils and avocados!

Gravy Chicken

This gravy chicken is a pretty simple recipe and tastes damn good, especially the thick gravy on these colder nights.  I recommend pairing this dish with pasta, potatoes, a fresh baguette, or anything that soaks up the sauce.  If you prefer a healthier option to pair with the sauce, try out these cauliflower “mashed potatoes.”

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Here’s the recipe for 2-3 people:

Ingredients

-3 chicken thighs

-10 cloves of garlic (1 head of garlic), separated and peeled

-fresh thyme

-2 tbs cooking oil

-1/2 cup chicken broth

-1/2 cup dry white wine

-2 tbs flour

-1/2 tbs butter

-salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Heat large, oven-proof pan on stove with cooking oil over medium-high heat.

*Tip*- to tell when the pan is hot enough, sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan. If it sizzles, then it’s ready.

2. Wash chicken and pat dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on pan.  Brown the chicken on both sides and turn every couple of minutes for about 8 minutes.  Remove chicken and place on a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium.  Add the garlic to the pan until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the garlic and stir until combined.  Add the chicken back to the pot, cover, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  (If you don’t have a lid, substitute for aluminum foil).

4. Remove pot and place back on stove over medium heat.  Remove chicken to plate.

5. Whisk in the wine and simmer for one minute.  Whisk in the chicken broth, thyme, and a little more salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.

6. Turn heat off and whisk in butter.  Add chicken back to pot and re-warm.  Taste sauce and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

 

This recipe is a crowd pleaser.  I hope you enjoy!