There’s something so incredibly delicious about Mexican hot chocolate. If you’ve never had it, you must try it. At first all you taste is delicious, creamy chocolate and then, something special happens – a kick of heat. Oh yeah. It’s unexpectedly tasty and leaves you wanting another sip. That hot chocolate is great, but when it’s summer, I’m not in the mood for hot beverages. How else, then, could I celebrate those flavors? Well, through yogurt, of course – with this Mexican Hot Chocolate Yogurt with Berries.
It’s probably not too shocking to hear that I love salads. But, let me clarify, I like salads that have lots of flavor and that satisfy. So if I’m building a salad, rest assured that it will taste good, be nutritious and leave you feeling content – like a happy little rabbit. Guaranteed then, that this Spinach Salad with Macerated Strawberry dressing will leave your little white tail twitching with joy.
That’s right, you read that correctly, I said “Fertility Friday + Smoothies!” A random pairing? Of course not, I do everything with intention…ok, well almost everything.
Today for Fertility Friday I would like to focus on the amazing nutritional power of smoothies. Yes, I know that people are crazy about smoothies these days. They make their own, they buy the fancy one that costs 10 dollars and they insist on having them every morning for their “bowl” breakfast. But this is one trend where you can believe the hype…at least to a certain extent.
I love little bites of things. I remember in culinary school we had a class called garde manger. This fancy French phrase refers to the cook or chef who works on the “cold” side of the kitchen – making the appetizers, pate, terrines, salads and other awesome, high-maintenance foods. I actually really detested this class. Why spend so much time creating those crazy layered things or pureeing all of that meat? It seemed weird and fussy.
Gluten-Free Delicious-ness + A Grilled Flank Steak Recipe
It’s that time again, time for me to tell you what to eat. The current issue of Eating Well features my Gluten Free eating plan that’s around 1500 calories and loaded with flavor (how does a grilled flank steak salad sound?) and fantastic nutrition (loads of veggies, fruits and whole grains!). For those among you who have celiac disease or suffer with gluten sensitivity, this meal plan was designed just for you. I know it can be hard to be creative when faced with food restrictions, so I’ve done the work for you.
Avocados are great and if you know me, you know I live for guacamole. But sometimes, I could be a little more creative when it comes to what I do with them. Feeling inspired by the upcoming grilling season, I stepped out of my guacamole comfort zone and tried the latest avocado trend, grilled avocado.
And let me tell you this, grilled avocado is awesome. Really, believe the hype. I simply adore the slightly smoky flavor of them and they’re delicious so many ways. Besides being tasty, they still supply that same powerful nutritional punch. All of those satisfying healthy fats can help with everything from cardiovascular health to keeping your skin looking radiant. Time to get to the grocery store and fill your cart with avocados.
5 Ways to Enjoy Grilled Avocado:
Plain, straight up and out of the skin!
Chopped up and thrown into salads.
Sliced and served on top of scrambled eggs.
Mashed and turned into guacamole (of course!).
Turned into a salsa and used as a topping for grilled fish or shrimp.
Want more ideas? Of course you do! Check out my Shape.com article on how to make grilled avocado, recipes included!
Fertility Friday + Lacinato Kale Salad with Peaches and Maple Vinaigrette Recipe
It’s Friday! Yahoo! Besides being the start of the weekend, Friday also means it’s time to focus on fertility. This week’s post is all about kale and peaches. Really? Yes, really.
Kale & Peaches & Fertility
Kale has an important nutrient that many mommas-to-be may be missing in their diets. Bonus, peaches work synergistically to help get the most out of that nutrient. How? Well, let’s look a little closer at each food for a moment:
Kale — Are you bored with this dark, leafy green yet? I sure hope not because even though it may not be the trendy, hip culinary sweetheart that it was a year ago, it still packs a serious nutritional punch. In the case of fertility, eating kale makes sense. Why? Well, because it’s a source of iron which is a nutrient that can be lacking in women’s diets, especially women of child-bearing age. And iron is important because it helps transport oxygen in your blood. If you don’t get enough, it can leave you feeling tired and weak. A big enough deficiency can even lead to anemia. And a possible link to infertility is another reason you need to protect yourself from iron deficiency.
Peaches — Yum, who doesn’t love a good peach! Besides being sweet and juicy and delicious, peaches also contain vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can protect us from the damage done to our cells by free radicals. This is awesome because free radical damage can do serious harm to our health and has been linked to diseases such as cancer.
KALE + PEACHES — Now why the two together? Because while that kale has iron, it’s a plant-based (or non-heme) source of iron versus an animal-based (heme) source of iron, which isn’t as readily absorbed by your body. Bummer! But have no fear because that’s where those peaches come into play. More specifically, the Vitamin C in those peaches. By including a Vitamin C food source with your non-heme iron food source, you’ll increase the absorption of that non-heme iron. How awesome is that?
AND FERTILITY? — As I mentioned above, women of child-bearing age, may be missing out on iron. It can happen pretty easily because your needs increase during this time as well as during pregnancy. And research from the Nurse’s Health Study revealed a possible link between iron deficiency and infertility. Talk to your doctor if you expect a deficiency. In the meantime, eat a variety of heme and non-heme iron foods. And don’t forget that Vitamin C!
In my opinion, canned salmon is an unsung hero in the food and nutrition world. Convenient, versatile and super-nutritious, it’s a shame that it’s so under-appreciated.
Why don’t we use canned salmon more often in our recipes and meals? Perhaps it conjures up memories of the dry, flavorless salmon patties of your childhood. Perhaps it has to do with the lack of foodie “buzz”, because the culinary world hasn’t exactly embraced it either. I mean, when have you ever seen it featured in a dish on a menu at a trendy restaurant?
With the negative connotations and the lack of fanfare, canned salmon hasn’t had much of a chance to shine. I think it’s time to change that! Here’s why:
Bring on the Canned Salmon! 3 Reasons Why It’s Great.
It’s Versatile! – Canned salmon can be used for salads, burgers, meatballs and so much more! That seems like a pretty great blank canvas if you ask me!
It’s Convenient! – All you need is a can-opener, no cooking required. Highly portable and easy to use. The definition of the modern connivence food.
It’s Nutritious! – Loaded with nutritious Omega-3 fats as well as selenium and protein, canned salmon is an easy way to fit more fish (you should be eating at least 8 or more ounces per week!) into your diet.
Place bulgur in a medium bowl. Add salt, then cover with boiling water. Immediately cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let bulgur steam for about 20 minutes.
To a blender add the the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and dill. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and blend until smooth. (Dressing can be made without a blender, finely chop garlic and dill and then whisk all ingredients together.)
Divide lettuce and portion into bowls. Top each bowl with bulgur, salmon, cucumber and tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
*Disclaimer – this recipe hasn’t actually won any official awards or titles. And it hasn’t been entered in any recipe contests or been featured on the Food Network. So my guacamole is technically “award-less,” however it’s unofficially a “winner” (hence, Winning Guacamole) in my small circle of nearest and dearest. And I’m about to let you in on my not-so-secret recipe! But first, there are some things you should know.
Guacamole 101: What You Need to Know
Pick the Avocado – This is a big deal, so it’s imperative you get it right. How do you choose the right avocado? Depends on when you want to make your guacamole. If you don’t need it until a couple of days from now, it’s ok to buy the rock-solid avocado because it will continue to ripen. If you want it tonight, buy the one that gives just a little when you apply a light pressure to it. Skip the super soft ones and the ones with dents and dings.
Don’t Skip the Onion – So many people tell me they want to leave out the onion, but I encourage you not to do that. Instead, if onion causes you trouble, consider this little trick – chop it and then add it to a bowl of water. Let it sit there while you’re making the guacamole and then drain it and add it. Soaking the onion will help remove some of the bitter compounds, so you won’t have that pungent onion taste in your mouth.
Add salt – Every time I make this guacamole someone always asks, “why does this taste so good?” It’s not that I am an awesome guacamole maker or that I have a special guacamole secret, it’s just salt. Yes, you heard me, salt. If you don’t add the right amount, it’ll just taste like mashed avocados and onion. Add the salt, and you’ve become a culinary genius! Afraid of salt, it’s ok, I understand, but in this recipe I’m only using 1/4 teaspoon of salt and that equals to about 145 milligrams of sodium per serving. That’s a relatively small amount considering 2300 milligrams per day is your cutoff.
There, now you’re armed and dangerous. Time to get to the store and stock up on avocados so you can make a big batch of my No Fail Winning Guacamole!
Fertility Friday + Recipe for Maple Cinnamon Almonds
Do you remember back in the ’80’s and ’90’s when all fat was considered “bad?”
Looking back on that time, it was almost comical the degree to which we feared fat. Companies worked so hard removing it from their products and people went crazy buying fat-free everything. I remember noshing on a box of fat-free cookies thinking, “wow, no fat, but they sure taste good, I’m so glad they’re good for me!”
Fat is Back?
Oh dear! Luckily research has improved and we are no longer shunning fat. In fact, now we know that fat is vital to our existence. Fats provide energy, help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and can keep our hearts healthy. We just have to be smart about the type of fats we’re choosing and how much of them we’re eating.
But I Can’t Eat as Much as I Want?
While all fats fit, it’s important to keep moderation in mind. Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats we should limit. Research is always on-going on this, and recently saturated fast have been in the news about not being as “bad” as we once thought. My advice? Stick with moderation. Go for the whole milk, but keep your serving to one cup. Enjoy that birthday cake, but choose the small slice instead of the massive monster piece. See where I’m going with this? Don’t over-indulge. It’s never wise to eat too much of one thing, right?
Instead, focus on getting more healthy fats into your diet. We call those unsaturated (specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats. These unsaturated fats can also help support fertility by helping control blood sugar and tamper inflammation. Where do you find them? Great question!
Where to Find The Fantastic Fat:
Sources of polyunsaturated fats: fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines; flax seed and flax seed oil, walnuts and edamame
Sources of monounsaturated fats: nuts (like in these Maple Cinnamon Almonds!) and seeds, avocado, canola and olive oil
Putting it Together
It’s easy! Eat fat, but make smart choices. Stick with moderation and balance your intake with other foods. Eating this way just makes sense! Feeling inspired? Get into your kitchen and make these yummy Maple Cinnamon Almonds so that you can enjoy some of those nutritious healthy fats!
Super easy snack made with almonds, maple syrup and ground cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups almonds
Preheat the oven to 300’F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the salt, maple syrup, water and cinnamon in a medium pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir to combine. Pour in almonds and stir until almonds are well coated. Spread out on prepared sheet pan and bake 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through cooking time.