French Fries are EVERYONE’s Achilles heel. Seriously, who turns down that savory, greasy, delicious side that every restaurant buys in massive bulk? Unfortunately, the fries are usually the tipping point from making your meal borderline healthy to the reason those jeans don’t fit anymore. Even the healthier sweet potato fries still contain a decent amount of carbs (albeit good ones). But we have a solution that cuts the carb count in half while still giving you a nice finger food side.
Ingredients: 1 medium size butternut squash (makes about 3 servings), olive oil, salt & pepper (other spices if desired).
Directions: Cut the top stem, half squash vertically, and seed. Slice the top half away from the bulb of the squash. Cut fri-like strips out of the top portion. The bulb will produce a more “C” like shape but the final product will all taste the same.
Toss with olive oil and spices. Bake on 350 for about 40 mins. They live up to their name with a great buttery taste that you will definitely make room for on your Thanksgiving table.
There’s certainly a lot of debates going on these days. Yeah, there’s that whole whose going to run the US come November, but the only one this blog feels comfortable taking a stance on is whether you love or hate Pumpkin Spice!
It’s always great to integrate what vegetation is in season into your diet. It allows you to try new things while possibly introducing some new nutrients into your body. So, we are more than on board with adding some pumpkin into our meals this Fall! That is, if it’s the actual squash and not some chemical that a certain huge chain coffeehouse concoctes.😜
Pumpkin itself is not the greatest on it’s own. It doesn’t contain much natural sugar like sweet potatoes do so you get a very Earthy taste. That’s why it’s frequently paired with signature Fall spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.
Ingredients: 3 medium size sweet potatoes, 1 smaller size butternut squash, 2 Granny Smith apples, 1 can of pumpkin, 1 can coconut cream, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, clove, allspice, 2 tablespoons of raw sugar, pinch of flour
Directions: Peel and cut butternut squash in half. Seed and cube. Wash and cut apples and sweet potatoes. Spray a baking sheet and add your fruits/veggies. Bake on 350 for about 25 minutes. You may want to bake apples separately for a shorter time as they can get a bit mushy.
Open can of pumpkin and coconut cream (I’ve only seen this at Trader Joe’s). Mixture together in food processor (use about 3/4 of can of cream). Add spices, sugar and flour. If too thin, add more flour (same with sweetness).
Once completed, drizzle pumpkin sauce over fruit/veggies. We made this with unseasoned chicken and added the pumpkin mixture to it as well.
This combination will definitely get you into the Fall spirit. It’s a nice break from broccoli and Brussel sprouts while still getting your veggie intake.
Coleslaw can easily tow the line between healthy and unhealthy. It all depends on how you dress it. We all know mayo gives it the full flavor, but also the full fat content. But this blog’s purpose is to find ways around the bad ingredients without sacrificing flavor. Plus, this recipe adds something unique in the form of roasted chickpeas for added protein and crunch.
Ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas, 1 12 oz pack of broccoli (or cabbage) slaw, 1/4 chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of yellow mustards, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of agave nectar
Directions: Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. Toss with any desired spices (black pepper, garlic powder, sea salt and nutritional yeast were used here). Bake on 350 for 20 minutes. Broil for 5. They should have a nice crunchy yet moist consistency.
Toss slaw mix with onion and chia seeds. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. You can add the chickpeas before the dressing or on top of you prefer.
You’ll find that the mustard and vinegar provide a great tangy flavor, balanced with the sweetness of the agave. Plus the chia seeds give additional moisture once they gel. Makes a great BBQ side or a vegan meal all on its own.
Regardless if keeping a healthy diet or not, we all like a good bar. But the purpose of the handheld treat differs greatly: A snickers bar to appease a sweet tooth, a protein bar post workout, or a breakfast bar when running out the door in the morning. Most bars, however, are pumped full of artificial sweeteners and other harmful additives that sacrifice nutritional value for convenience. That’s why it’s always best to make your own!
Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, handful of strawberries, handful of blueberries, 1 scoop of vegan protein powder, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add honey/agave to taste.
Directions: Soak flax seeds in 4 1/2 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes. Mix oats, protein powder, chia seeds, coconut oil, and flax mixture. Cut strawberries and blueberries in half. Add to mixture. Make sure to mix thoroughly so protein powder is fully dissolved.
Once mixed, form bars onto greased tin foil on pan (recipe makes 6). Bake for 15 mins. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.
You can see that we chose our berries with America in mind. Happy (belated) Independence Day to all our American followers!
While the honey or agave will give it additional sweetness, the berries and protein give plenty of natural sugar so it’s not necessary. These are great in the morning, post workout, or when you just need something sweet. Hey, looks like we fulfilled all three!
There’s nothing more satisfying than using every last bit of produce in your refrigerator. Interestingly, the mini sweet peppers were originally purchased for the portobello pizzas, which lead to the stuffed mini peppers, and left the refrigerator with excess bean mixture and quinoa. The circle of meals. While the bean mixture isn’t bad over quinoa, but we have something more creative in mind.
Ingredients: Leftover bean mixture (Lima beans, kidney beans, red onion, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar), quinoa (about 1/2 of a cup was leftover), flax seed
Directions: Soak 1 tablespoon of flax seed in about 2 tablespoons of water and let sit for 10 mins. Combine quinoa, bean mixture and flax once soaked. A little bit of whole wheat flour was thrown in to absorb some moisture.
Make into small balls on cooking sheet. Cheese was added to these, but it’s not required for structure. The flax seed acts well as a binding agent. Bake for only about 10 mins or so. Afterall, there’s no meat that you need to worry about cooking thoroughly.
These came out great and required very little time to prepare. And their taste will convince even the heartiest of meat eaters.
You gotta love a finger food. Quick, easy, and gone in a second. Problem is, most of them are starchy, fat laden and have spent way too much time in someone’s freezer. But these mini stuffed peppers are nutrient rich and pack the protein, even with being veggie based.
Ingredients: Bag of mini sweet peppers, 1 can of kidney beans, half can of Lima beans (combination of any beans will work), 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, quarter of diced red onion, balsamic vinegar, shredded mozzarella cheese (if desired).
Directions: Slice tops off of mini peppers. Bake at 350 for only about 10 mins. Let cool afterward.
In a bowl, mix together all beans, onion, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and any seasonings desired (onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper, and salt were used here). Taste the mixture and make sure to balance the amount of vinegar to tomato paste neutralize the sweetness of the tomato paste. Now, this recipe is vegan (it’s good to give your body a break from digesting animal proteins every now and again), but ground beef or chicken will work also.
Pack a bit of the bean mixture into each pepper. Top off with the mozzarella cheese if not keeping vegan.
These are excellent as an appetizer if entertaining healthy guests or can be a meal with rice or quinoa.
Now, I will admit: I have not always been on board with inter-flavor pairings (call me old fashioned). I never got why people dipped their French fries in milk shakes or why salted caramel was so sought after. But, in discovering how real, natural food can compliment each other, I have grown to appreciate a little sweet with the tangy and that is exactly what this salad bring to the table.
Ingredients: One Cucumber; One half of a Seedless Watermelon (or a quarter of a regular); pack of Feta Cheese; 2 tablespoons of Chopped Walnuts; Black, Seedless Grapes; Few Bunch of Kale; Bunch of Mint Leaves
Directions: Finely chop mint leaves. Break apart kale and lightly sprinkle about half of the mint throughout. Ball melon and cut apart grapes. Add to salad. Add feta crumbles and walnuts throughout. Sprinkle the remaining mint on top. For the cucumber, we have “veggetti’d” (or spiralized) it and placed it on the bottom. This can also be chopped and added normally.
You’ll find that between the watermelon and cucumber, dressing is unnecessary. This salad is a friendly battle of flavors, while also being cool and refreshing. Remember, especially with temperatures going up, it’s not just water that can hydrate you.
There’s a lot of talk about how some fats are good, and some not so much. Mayonnaise certainly falls into the category of “fat” but, 9 times out of 10, it lands in the bad category rather than the good. This is because it’s normally highly processed with partially hydrogenated oils, including Hellman’s, the brand that most associate with Mayo. This kind of oil is bad for both your waistline and your cholesterol.
But, if you are a fan of the creamy, flavorful taste that mayo brings to the table, try out a more healthy alternative in Avocado. Avocados contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are linked to lowering bad cholesterol and are a good substitute for saturated fat in your diet. And, because they’re a plant of course, they contain other phytonutrients and minerals that your body requires.
Not only is it a good substitute on a nutritional level, but on a culinary one as well. Pictured above are two hard boiled eggs, mashed with half of a small haas avocado (which I personally find are the best for mashing). Seasoned with salt and pepper, the taste is nearly indistinguishable from regular egg salad and provides the creamy fix with a helping of good fat. Can also fill in well with shrimp, chicken, tuna, or as a regular spread on a sandwich.