Delicata Squash and Black Bean Tacos

These tacos are so delicious I nearly forgot to snap a photo for this post because I was too focused on eating them. Rarely do I have vegetarian tacos, but seeing how my New Years resolution was to do more meatless meals, I decided to try something different with one of my favorite winter vegetables, delicata squash. I roasted the squash and paired it with black beans, pickled shallots, cilantro, lettuce, pomegranate seeds and sour cream with spices. The recipe can be made vegan simply by removing the sour cream.  So delicious and quick to make!

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Ingredients

(enough for 1 really hungry person, or 2 moderately hungry people)

-1 delicata squash

-1 small head of lettuce, chopped

-cilantro, chopped

-pomegranate seeds

-1 shallot, sliced

-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

-organic corn tortillas

-sour cream

-cumin

-chili powder

-garlic powder

-chipotle seasoning

-1/4 apple cider vinegar

-1 tbs sugar

-extra virgin olive oil

-salt

-pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Peel squash and cut it into 1/4 inch rounds.  Remove seeds, cut rounds into halves and place in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Place on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine shallots with vinegar, sugar, and salt for a quick pickling.  Stir every few minutes while the squash cooks.  In a separate small bowl, combine sour cream with chipotle seasoning.
  3. Heat drained black beans in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir every few minutes until hot.
  4. Heat tortillas on the stovetop by placing them directly on each open burner and toasting over medium heat.  Flip as each side starts to brown.
  5. When squash is done, put tacos together by filling them with sour cream, squash, drained shallots, beans, lettuce, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds.

 

Let me know what you think!

 

Five Tips for Winter Weight Loss

By now you are two weeks deep into your New Years Resolution. At this point you are either killin’ it with your goals, forgotten all about them, or are somewhere in between. Of course, if your goal has to do with weight loss, January is not the most ideal time to start this mission. Not only are humans programmed to eat differently in the winter and to store fat for survival, our Vitamin D and Serotonin levels drop, which are both partially responsible for regulating appetite control (source: The Week). While storing fat for survival isn’t really necessary for the modern person, it’s still coded in us, and can make weight loss at this time more difficult. Not to mention while our ancestors were out fighting the brutal cold, we are inside sitting at our computer moving less. If your resolution (or whatever you’re calling it) has to do with weight loss, then try some of these tips:

Add in more vegetables, whole grains, and protein to naturally crowd out unhealthier056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497 foods. The more you can fill up on healthy, whole foods, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for junk. Everyone is different, so while you may thrive on a high-carb diet, others might do best on a high-protein diet. Experiment for yourself and find what works best for YOUR body. Whatever you find, stick to warm, grounding foods in the winter and try as much as possible to eliminate processed foods, soda, and sugar from your diet to see weight loss results.

Eat more sweet vegetables. If you’re at all like me and get crazy sugar cravings, then try incorporating some sweet vegetables into your diet like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets. I’ve found this helps satisfy the craving, and if it doesn’t, then sneak in a little bit of quality dark chocolate earlier in the day. Because our will power is strongest in the morning, I like to add some cacao nibs to my breakfast smoothie to get that craving out of my system.

infused waterDrink more water. Sometimes when you feel food cravings come on even though you just ate a meal and shouldn’t really be hungry, this can be a sign of dehydration. Try having a tall glass of water before reaching for the snacks, and if you want extra weight loss points, then fancy up you water by infusing it with a lemon slice or some cucumber slices. Lemon water has great benefits for weight loss by helping with digestion and detoxifying the body, but the benefits are greatest when the water is served warm.

Eat more mindfully. How many meals have you consumed in your life without even having a chance to really enjoy or process the meal?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day and by the time you eat you’re starving, or maybe it’s because your busy schedule doesn’t allow you time to sit down and even smell your coffee, but eating more mindfully means sitting down, chewing your food, breathing as you eat, and really appreciating the meal. It’s not unusual in our fast-paced society to just scarf down a meal (sometimes even on the go!), so just make a bigger effort to give yourself enough time to eat. The slower you eat the greater chance your brain has to catch up and realize when it’s full. This is often the cause for overeating when you eat so fast that your mind doesn’t catch the moment it should be signaling you to stop eating. If you want a book full of tips on how to eat more mindfully, check out this book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Switch up your workout. I’ve found that switching up my work out has incredible results for weight loss. Changing things up gives your body a challenge and helps you work the various muscles, versus doing the same routine and plateauing with your weight loss. Although I’ve learned by now that abs are truly made in the kitchen, exercise is still important for weight loss, plus mental and physical strength.Sweat Ladies, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting gets you toned and builds strength without bulking up, not to mention it’s important for bone health. Mix this into your workout at least a couple times a week if possible, and try out some other fun exercises like walking, dancing, barre classes, pilates, swimming, etc. If you don’t really know where to begin with your exercise regime, I like to tell my clients to think back to what activities they loved doing as kids. Quite often the same activities we loved as kids still are fun for us now, especially if you can find a workout buddy to do them with. I’d also like to note that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling burnt out, or if you just did an intense workout the day before, do not be afraid to do a restorative yoga class or go for an easy walk, something that still gets you moving without overdoing it.

 

If you found this post inspiring, or if you have tips of your own, please share in the comment section! Just remember to keep a positive attitude with your weight loss goals, because weight loss doesn’t just happen over night.
Learn to fall in love with the process and the results will come!

Three Healthy Meals and One Dessert To Impress Your Guests This Holiday

It’s important to eat with the seasons, and with the cold winter months rolling in, it’s time to start eating warmer, more grounding foods. Below are four simple holiday recipes (also budget-friendly!) that should keep meal prep and cook times to a minimum so that you can fully enjoy your holiday season with friends and family. These dishes could either be served together as one delicious four course meal, or perhaps separately before the big Thanksgiving or holiday meal. I would serve the salad first, then serve the soup and vegetable galette together. Obviously save the dessert for last… or don’t!

Winter Salad

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-1 bag fresh spinach

-1 container of pomegranate arils

-1-2 handfuls of dried cranberries

-chopped pecans

-1 pear, diced

-feta cheese

-balsamic

1. Wash the spinach, pat dry and put into large salad bowl.

2. Add the pomegranate arils, cranberries, chopped nuts, pear and feta cheese. I like to add the juice from the pomegranate container.

3. Personally I find that the salad doesn’t need much dressing if you add juice from the pomegranate arils, but balsamic would be a good choice too. Serve and enjoy!

original recipe: autumn chopped salad

Roasted Carrot Soup

-6 organic carrots
-1 potato
-1 yellow onion
-4 cloves garlic
-chicken stock (I used veggie stock or you can just use water. You can also add a bullion cube or Italian seasoning for flavor)
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
   1. Heat oven to 425 F. Peel the carrots and cut them into bite-size chunks. Cut the potato and onion into smaller chunks. Place the carrots, potato, onion and garlic in a baking dish with olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and roast for 10-15 minutes, until it starts to smell delicious.
    2. Remove dish and place the roasted veggies in a pot. Fill the pot with the chicken stock until it just covers the vegetables. Throw in a bullion cube if desired. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid for an hour.
    3. Place contents of pot in a blender and blend until it’s a smooth soup. Enjoy!
Vegetable Galette
(serves 2, or serves 4 as appetizer)
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-1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
-2 small, yellow squash cut into thin circles
-3 tablespoons pesto
-1/3 cup ricotta cheese
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
-flour or whole wheat flour (could also use a GF flour, like coconut flour)
   1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
   2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter or on a cutting board. Lay puff pastry sheet out on top of the flour. Use a rolling pin to spread the sheet out a bit.
   3. Spread ricotta over the puff pastry sheet. Then the pesto.
   4. Lay the thinly cut squash circles on top of the ricotta and pesto. Fold up the sides of the puff pastry.
   5. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper the squash.
   6. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
original recipe: The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson
And finally, for dessert…
Black Bean Brownies
(boyfriend approved!)
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-1 15oz. can beans, drained, rinsed well and patted dry
-2 large eggs
-3 tablespoons coconut oil
-3/4 cups cacao powder
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup raw sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking power
-optional: chocolate chips or crushed nuts
   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
   2. Lightly grease a baking dish (8×8 works)
   3. Add beans to a food processor and puree. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   4. If the batter seems too thick, then add a little water and pulse again. The batter should not be too runny.
   5. Distribute the batter into the greased dish and add optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Your brownies are ready to serve!  I poured a little unsweetened almond milk over mine to give them a little moisture. Enjoy!
original recipe: black bean brownies

Home Remedies for Dry Skin

I’m all about moisturizers and soft skin, especially when the weather is this chilly.  The air and wind outside have stripped my hands of moisture and sometimes hydrating just isn’t enough to restore skin.  Store-bought lotions and potions are often expensive stews of chemicals, alcohols, solvents, and synthetic fragrances, which actually increase skin’s dryness.  Some products even contain carcinogens or trigger allergic reactions.

There are various recipes out there for homemade moisturizers and creams using limited ingredients.  Everyone has different skin and needs tailored products, but most natural moisturizers contain plant oils.  Some oils to look for are: shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil.  Products may additionally contain other plant compounds or essential oils, like rosemary oil or lavender oil, or essences, like rose water.  Ensure that products are “paraben-free,” or “phthalate-free.” A good rule of thumb when choosing products (or even with food) is to skip over products with any ingredients you cannot pronounce.  It’s just not natural.

Keep It Simple

Save money on fancy moisturizers and use the extra-virgin olive oil in your kitchen on skin after moisturizing.  Take several drops of olive oil and smooth on skin while skin is moist from cleansing.  What’s great about olive oil is that it’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which hydrates skin without leaving skin greasy.  Alternative oils are wheat germ oil (rich in Vitamin E), almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.

Make a Gel

An alternative, easy, natural recipe is flaxseed and water.  Stir 1 teaspoon flaxseed into 1/2 cup cool water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the mixture becomes thick and gelatinous.  Cool and pour through a sieve to strain out the seeds.  Dab the strained gel onto skin and massage in. Keep refrigerated and this moisturizing concoction should last a few days.

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Sweeten Up Your Skin

Honey has long been enjoyed for its benefits on the skin.  In fact, honey is a potent antiseptic, helping to ward off bacteria that cause acne and other skin problems.  Honey also doubles as an anti-inflammatory, reducing redness and irritation, and it seals in moisture improving skin hydration and minimizing the appearance of fine lines.  To make a honey mask at home, pick up the following items from your local store:

-4 ounces plain yogurt

-2 teaspoons raw honey

-1/4 teaspoon olive oil or almond oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Apply to face and leave on for 15 minutes.  Rinse.  Repeat one or two times per week.

-Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

Author and integrative medicine expert

All-Natural Moisturizing Lotion Recipe

Different oils will suit different moisturizing needs.  Do some research, experiment and see which oils work best for you.  Here is a basic recipe:

aloe-rose-moisturizer

-2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel

-2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin

-1/2 teaspoon jojoba, grapeseed, apricot kernel, or avocado oil

-1 teaspoon pure beeswax

Combine aloe gel, glycerin, and oil in a bowl.  Melt the beeswax in the top of a double boiler.  Add the melted wax to the ingredients in the bowl, whisking rapidly until blended, then more slowly until the beeswax mixture thickens and cools, about five to seven minutes.  Transfer the lotion to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Keeps two to four weeks.

Shaving Cream

Save that vegetable glycerin from the moisturizing lotion recipe and use it for your homemade shaving cream.  Because shaving strips away the outermost layer of skin cells, sensitive “new” skin is exposed every time.  Many store-bought shaving creams contain petroleum-derived chemicals, including isopentane and additional compounds that are irritants, hormone disruptors, and potential carcinogens.  Use safer shaving creams and try the following homemade recipe:

-1 cup real witch hazel extract

-1/2 cup high-proof vodka, rum, or brandy

-1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

-10 to 20 drops each peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils (thyme or rosemary essential oils also work)

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake well to blend.  To use, pat a little mixture onto freshly-shaven skin.  The lotion keeps indefinitely.

-Annie B. Bond

Better Basics for the Home

Have a homemade moisturizer recipe?  I’d love to hear it!  Please leave your ideas in the comment section below.