Archive for October, 2011
Happy Monday I hope everyone had a great weekend!
Chris and I spent a long weekend in Vegas (my first time) and had a wonderful few days! We enjoyed exploring, hanging out, and of course EATING. I basically ate my way through Vegas…calories do not exist on vacation, right?…
Chris went out a day early for a work conference, so the first night we stayed at the Red Rocks Resort. Besides the cocktail hour for the conference, we spent our first evening away from the strip in our hotel. Chris had a long day at the conference and I got in late, so it was more of a laid-back evening.
We were greeted by a gorgeous gift basket in our beautiful suite, courtesy of Kern River (thanks!) with all sorts of goodies.
We had dinner at Hachi Modern Japanese – SO GOOD! Amongst many items we ordered, a few of my fav highlights were an incredibly creamy, rich Spicy Kabocha Coconut Soup with toasted pumpkin seeds (one word – amazing), pan seared scallops with lobster cream sauce and spicy rice noodles with shrimp. We attempted taking photos but with such low-lighting all the photos turned out black
We gambled a little bit after our meal (penny slots) - we lost $25 at first but won it back on a bonus round plus $15 .
What did we do with our ”high-roller” earnings?!? Instead of trying our luck again at the slots, we decided to stop by Ben and Jerry’s for a midnight
snack dessert…we had no idea it was so late, they keep those casinos lighted in a way that you have NO idea what time it is!
I thoroughly enjoyed my double scoop of Mint Chocolate Chunk while Chris had one scoop of Chunky Monkey and another of Cherry Garcia in a waffle cone. Great night, no?
The next morning was breakfast with Chris’ boss, his wife and a two other couples in the natural gas industry at the Grand Cafe - a “California” Omelet for me – tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese with hashbrowns and granola, yogurt and eggs for the hubby.
We checked out of our room at Red Rocks midday and took a cab down to the strip to check-in for our one-night stay at the Aria down at City Center (a gargantuan, $9+-billion, 68-acre project). To think of what good you could do with $9 billion!!! I digress…
That afternoon, we strolled down the strip – stopping at the Venetian, the Bellagio and a few little shops here and there. One being the Guiradelli store that was handing out free samples of their new Pumpkin Spice Caramel…hmmm pumpkin!
Around 1:35 pm, we walked past the Bellagio fountains thinking the next show would be in 10 minutes…after 25 minutes of waiting we looked up the “fountain schedule” to find that the shows started at 3 pm…oh well, it was a little breather
We walked through the Bellagio and saw a gorgeous Fall display! Horse made out of flowers and plants:
Giant corn stalks made out of mulit-colored corn cobs:
An impressionist painting in form of live plants, flowers and herbs!
And a GIANT pumpkin- and yes ma’am, it was real! 835 pounds of pumpkin…and who said there was a shortage this year?
Lunch was at Wolfgang Puck’s Postorio in The Venetian – loved this little spot in the center of the Grand Canal Shoppes – I shared a beautiful salad of endive, apple, fennel, dates, raisins, blue cheese and sherry vinagrette. I will have to make my own rendition of this salad at home sometime in the future!
We walked around the Venetian after lunch – I was in complete awe of the canals and the decor – it really looked like you were outside!
Afterward, we hung out in the Aria for a while, I read a bit while Chris napped and then we got dressed up for dinner at Eva Longoria’s Beso. Simply beautiful restaurant and absolutely stunning food. Chris had a filet and said it was the best steak he’d ever eaten. I didn’t want to get the same meal as him (that’s no fun!) so I opted for a luxurious beet salad for an appetizer with goat cheese fondue and candied walnuts (TO DIE FOR) and ordered a pan-seared sea bass with crispy-fried harissa potatoes, avocado pico de gallo and a creamy lump crab beurre blanc…so extremely decadent and worth every last calorie I shared the ice cream with raspberry coulis that came alongside Chris’s fudge cake for dessert…needless to say, we
walked rolled out the door more than stuffed but quite satisfied.
We walked over to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant for some drinks and an amazing view to watch the Bellagio fountain from above. After that, it was off to The Cosmopolitan to listen to some music, hang out and people watch - Vegas is defintely a city of interesting people! Plus, what a small world- I saw a few friends from high school I hadn’t seen in years! Our late night ended around 3:30 am, I haven’t stayed up that late since college and my feet (from high heels that I never wear) felt it, along with my head (I am not used to being around so much smoke) and my tummy (from very rich food)…but it was a worthwhile
vacation trip for sure. I must say though, I need a vacation from my vacation
I wasn’t lying when I mentioned I ate my way through Vegas I must say though, I am glad I live in a slower-pace environment – I could never keep up!
All that being said - I returned to Denver in much need of sleep and some clean food to counteract all the heavy (but delicious) meals and late night outs we experienced over the weekend. When I saw Sonia’s refreshing version of a Raw Cauliflower “Detox” Salad at The Healthy Foodie, I knew what I was making for lunch!
I know what you are thinking – raw cauliflower, carrots and apples with a light lemon-maple vinagrette? Sounds strange but it was so simple, light and delicious..exactly what I needed! I’m not usually a fan of raw cauliflower but this salad won me over. The dried black cherries, Granny Smith apple and golden raisins add a light sweetness to the crunchy salad of carrots and cauliflower while the lemon juice, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar compliment the flavors perfectly!
Cauliflower-Carrot “Detox” Salad (adapted from The Healthy Foodie)
1 small head cauliflower, stems removed and
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks or diced (peel left on)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, mint or parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dried black cherries (or red cherries or cranberries)
1/2 cup golden raisins (or raisins or dried currants)
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (or almonds or pecans)
1/4 cup pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil (optional)
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey or agave)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1. In a food processor, add the cauliflower and pulse (no stems) until fine. Add into large bowl.
2. Now process the carrots until fine or shredded and add into bowl.
3. Stir in the apple, cilantro/parsley or mint, dried cherries, raisins, walnuts and pepitas. Toss to combine.
4. In a small bowl, add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add dressing to cauliflower mixture and toss to combine. Enjoy!
As much as a I love pumpkin, butternut squash is my absolute favorite winter squash. You can substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in most recipes such as stews, stir-fry, pies, puddings and salads. While it’s delicious as part of a dish, it is equally as amazing eaten on it’s own when simply roasted or baked.
In case you need a few more reasons to eat your butternut squash (besides that it’s super tasty), this orange-fleshed veggie is a great source of some essential vitamins and nutrients. Vitamin A tops the list, which is a nutritional element that helps with eye function. Butternut squash is also a major source of vitamin C, a classic antioxidant, as well as vitamins E and B6, and other nutrients like thiamin and riboflavin. Butternut squash also contains some folate, something that pregnant women need for healthy fetal development, as well as potassium, a nutrient that can help with the treatment of some kinds of health disorders like hypertension. So dig in!
These “fries” can be served on their own (my preference) or dipped in your favorite sauce. I may or may not have eaten an entire batch for lunch the other day…so you may want to make a large batch in case you have to share
Baked Butternut Squash “Fries”
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
2. In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients and toss to combine.
3. Lay squash slices on the baking sheet in an individual layer. (If the pieces are touching, it will take longer to bake) Bake for 25-35 minutes* or until golden brown and beginning to crisp on the edges, turning pieces over halfway through. Enjoy!
*Baking time will vary by oven, my small toaster oven only takes 25 minutes but my large oven requires 35-40 minutes of baking.
Cinnamon: Add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon along with the salt, oil and pepper and toss.
Maple: Add 2 Tbsp maple syrup or maple sugar to the salt, pepper and olive oil and toss.
Garlic-Parmesan: Add 2 minced garlic cloves to the salt, pepper and olive oil. After baking for 15-20 minutes or so, sprinkle 1/3 cup parmesan cheese over squash slices
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend this week!
I don’t know about you, but I got a little nervous about the forecasted “pumpkin shortage”, I stocked up a couple weeks ago on my beloved Libby’s pumpkin puree (6 cans). Apparently that still isn’t enough pumpkin for me. I’ve also been roasting chunks of fresh baby bear and sugar pie pumpkins to throw in cooked quinoa and other grains, omelets and soups but I’ve also sprinkled the cubes with cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup and topped it off with either chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds for a sweet snack or side (YUM).
I’ve also been making my fair share of pumpkin and/or winter squash smoothies these days – I adore warm spices and this quick and easy protein smoothie is packed with flavor and nutrition. I could eat butternut squash and pumpkin year round…so I apologize if I will bombard this blog with recipes incorporating winter squash for a little while. I hope you don’t mind
For a sip of Fall flavors, try this smoothie for a quick on-the-go breakfast, an afternoon snack or even a light lunch when you are short on time.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin or pumpkin puree (or other winter squash like butternut or kabocha or sweet potato)
1/2 scoop of your favorite protein powder or 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or both
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk)
1 tsp chia seeds (or ground flaxseed)
1 medjool date OR 1 – 2 tsp maple syrup, honey or agave (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or more to taste (I eyeball it and use more but I love cinnamon)
1/4 tsp ground ginger, optional
a few dashes of ground cloves and ground nutmeg
4-5 ice cubes
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and combine until smooth and well-incorpated. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon if desired and enjoy!
Healthy and satisfying breakfast tips coming your way! Here are a few ways to bulk up your morning meal to kickstart your day, keep you full longer and make your body smile from the inside out
1. Add high-quality complete Protein
Most breakfasts are sorely lacking in protein – this is even despite numerous studies showing that including protein in your breakfast meal, such as having 2 eggs, keeps you feeling fuller, and prevents hunger much better than having simple carbohydrates (like a bagel). Higher-protein meal plans are also well-studied for their ability to promote greater fat loss and a quicker metabolism than less protein.
Ideas for your next breakfast to ensure you include a complete protein choice on your plate:
• Eggs (Tofu for vegan)- Eat them scrambled with fresh spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms and a side of fresh fruit and your day is off to a great start! If you are vegan, scramble tofu in place of eggs. If you aren’t a fan of scrambled eggs, poach or boil them for a quick meal – my new poached egg recipe below!
• Protein Powder – mix a scoop of protein with your favorite milk and pour this over your favorite bowl of low-sugar cereal. Or, add to your blender with flax seed oil, almond milk, and berries, for a high-protein smoothie. You can also add a scoop to plain oatmeal after cooking to give it a boost. My banana buddy shake fits the bill if you add a scoop.
• Organic cottage cheese – mixed with fresh chopped pineapple, strawberries, apples, or tomatoes is a perfect start to your day. Cottage cheese is also delicious in a quick and easy breakfast banana split!
• Organic plain Greek yogurt – combine this with organic fresh or frozen berries and slivered almonds,walnuts or pecans for a perfectly balanced meal. If you want some extra crunch, top it with my superfood buckwheat granola
• Natural almond or peanut butter – paired with a gluten free whole grain tortilla or gluten free bread. Two tablespoons of natural nut butter provide 8-10 grams of complete protein and plenty of healthy fat. You can make your own almond butter, it’s incredibly easy with the help of a food processor and tastes amazing!
2. Embrace Fiber
Another important aspect missing from most breakfast plates is fiber. I am not sure you want to count those specialty fiber breakfasts bars that are so loaded with sugar that any fiber they do contain (usually from wood pulp – ugh) is not worth it. High-fiber meals are more satiating and filling than low protein. An extra bonus, fiber is also associated with lower rates of cancer and diabetes.
Here are ways to include body-beautifying, belly-filling fiber into your breakfast:
• Beans – add 1/3 cup of beans to a breakfast egg burrito made with a sprouted-grain wrap, or toss with scrambled eggs or tofu and add 5 grams of fiber to your plate. My grain-free pumpkin pancakes use beans, oh yeah
• Berries – organic berries are a great addition to oatmeal, smoothies, low-sugar cereal, and yogurt, and can add 2-3 grams of filling fiber.
• Oatmeal – the problem with most packaged oatmeal is all the added sugar, but 1/3 cup of oats has 3 grams of fiber and no sugar! It’s perfect paired with eggs, organic cottage cheese or protein powder for a complete meal. Overnight oats are a great morning meal that packs a fiber punch as well!
• Sprouted-grain bread with nut butter – found only in the freezer section of your grocery store. Sprouted-grain bread has 3 grams of fiber per slice, and nut butter has ~2 grams for a total of at least 5 grams of fiber to start your day. My high-fiber and grain free flax bread would work as a great gluten free substitute too!
• Fresh Fruit paired with a higher protein dish (yogurt, eggs, tofu) – one apple provides about 5 grams of fiber, ½ a medium grapefruit provides 6 grams of fiber, and 1 kiwi provides about 2 grams of fiber.
• Ground Flax Seeds – toss a tablespoon or two in with your breakfast protein smoothie, or add to hot cereal. Two tablespoons have 8 grams of fiber, and can help balance your hormones while lowering your bad cholesterol levels.
• Avocado – this “skinny” fat food is great on almost anything but I love to spread guacamole or avocado slices over eggs. When cut in half, it packs in a whopping 5 grams of fiber and plenty of healthy monounsaturated fat that help promote a flat belly and a healthy heart.
3. Include Vegetables
Unless you have a vegetable omelet, most breakfast dishes include little to no vegetables at all. However, vegetables are low-calorie, nutrient-dense and prevent many, many diseases that inflict us today.
Try these easy ways to add more vegetables to your meal and make your breakfast perfect:
• Spinach – add spinach to your eggs while cooking or stuff a large handful in with your favorite smoothie; it may make your smoothie green, but it also makes it thicker and more satisfying without ruining the taste. My green almond oat smoothie is delicious and filling!
• Tomatoes and cucumbers – add chopped to a bowl of organic cottage cheese for a crunchy, high-fiber breakfast.
• Baked squash – gourds such as acorn squash and butternut squash are delicious vegetables to include at breakfast. Just sprinkle with cinnamon once cooked and eat with eggs or tofu and you’ll be in breakfast heaven.
• Potatoes – Have a small side of homemade hash browns cooked with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, along with your favorite protein item, and you’re adding at least 2 grams of fiber, and plenty of hunger-fighting, fat-burning nutrients to your diet. If like sweet potatoes, they supply even more nutrients and fiber!
So what does a protein-packed, high-fiber breakfast with veggies look like in my world? Easy tomato sauce-poached eggs with cheesy amaranth grits. You could easily serve this for breakfast OR dinner as well. You could serve the eggs on a bed of cooked quinoa, millet, polenta or rice instead of amaranth if preferred. For all you morning toast lovers, these poached eggs could be served with slices of toasted whole-grain (and gluten free for me!) bread or english muffin.
Easy Tomato Sauce Poached Eggs over Cheesy Amaranth Grits
1/2 cup uncooked amaranth
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
2 – 3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese or other sharp cheese (or nutritional yeast for dairy free)
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs
2 cups tomato sauce (homemade version or store bought but watch out for added sugar!)
fresh or dried herbs to taste (garlic powder, italian seasoning, oregano, basil, paprika, etc)
shredded cheese (your choice) or nutritional yeast for dairy free
a few basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
1. In a medium saucepan, add broth (or water), amaranth and pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer (low heat) and cover. Let amaranth cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. When amaranth grits only have 5 minutes left to cook, heat 2 cups of tomato sauce over low-medium heat in a small saucepan until it simmers. Carefully crack eggs one at a time and gently slide into the simmering tomato sauce, cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes or until eggs white are white and cooked through and the middle is still runny.
3. To serve, spoon grits into serving dish. With a ladle, carefully spoon egg over grits and top with remaining tomato sauce. Garnish with basil and additional cheese, if using and enjoy!
Serves two (you could easily cut in half for one or double/triple)