The 3-Day Refresh

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Let me set the stage for you.  It’s the last week of July and 20 people are making their way by plane and automobile from Southern California to my house.  Most of these people have come before and for some, this is their 5th year in a row they have made the trek.  They come for one main attraction: the Oregon Brewer’s Festival.  This incredibly fun group has been visiting NIck and I for the large craft beer festival since we moved to Portland and each year the group has gotten larger.  The only way I can describe this annual event is…wild!  We spend the week drinking beer, eating at their favorite restaurants (so many trips to Pine State Biscuit and Salt and Straw!), staying out until the wee hours of the morning, and… drinking more beer.

Needless to say, this week ends with the strange silence of no longer having 20 people share our tiny living space and our bodies royally hating us.  To cleanse our systems and get back into the swing of our routine of healthy eating and regular exercise, Nick and I decided to give The  3-Day Refresh a try.  The 3-Day Refresh is a new program from Beachbody designed to:

  • Provide a clean break from bad habits
  • Kick-start healthy eating
  • Break through a weight loss plateau
  • Jumpstart a weight loss journey

For 3 days you have the superfood-packed Shakeology for breakfast along with a fruit option; a Fiber Sweep digestive health drink later in the morning; a high-protein Vanilla Fresh shake for lunch, accompanied by fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy fat options throughout the afternoon.  For dinner, you have another Vanilla Fresh shake along with your choice from a list of delicious, easy-to-prepare dinner recipes, which are provided in the Refresh guidebook.  You can also have tea twice a day and as much filtered water as you like (LOTS! You should drink at least half your body weight in ounces per day).

Refresh dinner 2

How is the Refresh different from other cleanses?  Juice cleanses and other popular short-term cleanses provide incomplete nutrition promoting muscle loss instead of fat loss and can cause a rebound due to the lack of adequate protein, low fiber, and/or high sugar levels.  It’s probably a huge bummer to go through a cleanse only to see the “results” disappear as soon as you begin eating normally again.

So, how did the 3-Day Refresh go for Nick and I?

Nick and I both loved how each day was mostly planned out for us AND we got to make choices on the fruit, vegetables, and dinner options.  This made the Refresh both easy to follow and also added to the sense of satisfaction because if we wanted blueberries, we could have blueberries!

The dinners were really delicious.  We tried the kale salad with lemon juice and almonds (in place of pine nuts, which we didn’t have on hand) and the spinach salad with cucumber, sprouts, tomato and raw pumpkin seeds.  We didn’t have time to try all of the dinner recipes and we definitely plan on trying out the carrot-seaweed medley and Moroccan carrot salad.

Refresh Dinner

We both noticed changes in each other’s bodies, particularly in our bloated stomachs!  I feel really silly to admit this, but we didn’t do the best job at tracking our progress through pictures or measurements.  My “before” and “after” photos were taken in the morning rush between getting out of bed and heading to work, so the light isn’t ideal and neither is the clutter of Reymie’s dog bed and our computer in the background!  In any case, I could see some significant changes, especially in my stomach, over those three days.

Refresh resultsNick lost 5 pounds over the 3 days and realized that he hadn’t been drinking enough water prior to the Refresh.  I was able to concentrate on and avoid my tendency to emotionally eat at work, which usually strikes some time in the early afternoon when I feel like I have way too many things to accomplish in a short amount of time and that nearby sweet or latte somehow provides a little support. During the 3-Day Refresh, I was forced to ask myself, “Am I really hungry right now?” The answer was always, “no, this is stress. Drink more water.”

Despite the fact that I am currently training for Hood to Coast, two half marathons and the Portland Marathon, I took a break from tough workouts for the three days I was on the Refresh.  Although the 3-Day Refresh is a low-calorie program, the shakes and fresh food selections are high in protein and fiber so you feel satiated throughout the day.  You can continue to do light-to-moderate exercise during the Refresh, so I chose to concentrate on walking more with my dog and at work on those days.  I know of people who have continued to do PiYo and felt totally fine, so I’d recommend sticking to what you feel up for.

What didn’t go so well?

I happened to be on-call that week for work.  This means that in the event of a critical incident in any part of the large agency I work for, I need to respond in person.  On the third day of the 3-Day Refresh, not only did I have to deal with my dog panicking until 2am about a lightning storm, I had to respond to a call at work from 3am to 6am.  I then went home, slept for a few hours and went back to work at my regular work site.  Having a disjointed sleep schedule and too few hours of sleep really threw me off.  I always feel more hungry (not exactly hungry – more like “I need chocolate and nothing else will satisfy me,” which is more emotional eating) when I am tired and stressed, so my hectic night made the third day feel slightly hard.  In short, it feels better to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (regardless of what you’re currently eating throughout the day!).

All in all, I really liked the 3-Day Refresh. I definitely plan to do it again after a particularly indulgent weekend or trip. I think I’ll do it over a weekend next time so I don’t have to worry about work.

Interested in refreshing your eating habits and cleaning out your system?  Have questions about something else?  Drop me an email at scottileona@gmail.com OR complete the form under the “Ready to Make a Change?” tab at the top of this page 🙂

 

Orange Black Bean Hummus

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My other half is allergic to peanuts and many of peanut’s relatives, including garbanzo beans.  This means that regular hummus is typically a no-go in our household unless its just for me (which is neither fun nor economical) or Nick wants to endure a stomach ache, itchy throat or other unpleasant side effects (also not fun, healthy or economical).  He likes the taste, texture and many ways to use hummus though, so this often leads to him risking it!  Not too long ago, I found a local brand (King Harvest) that makes a black bean hummus and it is really delicious!  Shortly after that, I was flipping through the book Quick Fix Vegan and came across a recipe for black bean hummus that uses orange juice to add an interesting flavor.  I immediately gave the recipe a shot and it has become a new favorite for snack and meal preps!

Black beans are an excellent source of:

  • Protein (a single one-cup serving of black beans provides almost 15 grams of protein, which is equivalent to the amount of protein in 2 ounces of meat!)
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin B1
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Manganese and Magnesium
  • Phytonutrients
Fun graphic I found on Instagram :-)

Fun graphic I found on Instagram.  Click on the image to see larger version 🙂

Oranges add to the nutrition benefits with:

  • Lots of Vitamin C
  • More fiber and folate
  • Vitamin A and B1
  • Potassium and calcium

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, sesame tahini (sesame seed paste or sesame butter found in most health food stores) provides:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Riboflavin, niacin and thiamin (all of which help convert food to energy, maintain skin and keep your nervous system functioning well)
  • Sesame seeds are one of the best sources of copper, a powerful antioxidant and a necessary mineral for your immune system and for enzymes that produce energy, build connective tissue and metabolize iron
  • Iron and phosphorus
For more information: Nutritional Facts of Roasted Sesame Tahini, The World’s Healthiest Foods: Black Beans,  The World’s Healthiest Foods: Oranges

I purchase my black beans from bulk bins at my local food cooperative and cook about 1 cup (yields about 3 cups cooked) at a time to use to prepare a few meals or snacks throughout the week.  Not only is hummus incredibly easy to make, making it from scratch saves a lot of money!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (about half of a medium sized orange)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked black beans
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Chili powder and cilantro to taste

Place everything in a food processor and blend!

Enjoy as a dip for vegetables, a spread on sandwiches, with pita chips, or any other way you enjoy hummus 🙂

Life is too short to eat plain oats!

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Oats are a classic breakfast staple.  It seems like I am not the only one who feels a bit nostalgic about a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning.  That feeling reminds me of my grandmother and the warm cereal has been a necessity in my survival of Portland winter mornings (I know, it’s so obvious I am from Southern California when I complain about the winter here!  Go ahead and roll your eyes East Coasters, I won’t be offended!  (-: ).

There are several options for oats, including old-fashioned rolled oats, quick oaks and steel cut oats.  The various types are the same food, just cut differently, giving the oats a different texture and cooking time.  We know from Quaker brand commercials and packaging that cooked oats is a great food for those who are working to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes.  This is because oats contain beta-glucan, a fiber that has been shown to have positive benefits on cholesterol levels.  Beta-glucan also enhances the immune system and gives oats their blood stabilizing quality.  Their high fiber content also allows oats to remove cholesterol from the digestive system, thus keeping it out of your bloodstream.

Oats are also great for the following:

  • They increase appetite-control hormones
  • Oats may reduce asthma risk in children
  • They are low in calories and fat, but high in protein
  • Oats also contain lignans, which are thought to protect against heart disease and hormone-dependent cancers (i.e. breast cancer)
  • Oats contain unique antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Oats are a great source of carbohydrates too, which can prepare you for a work out or get you fueled for your long day ahead
  • Oats are also very inexpensive, especially when purchased from a bulk bin!

For 1/2 cup dry (1 cup cooked) of whole grain rolled oats, you get 190 calories, 3.5g fat, 32g carbs, and 7g protein.

For more information on all the amazing benefits of oats, head on over to The World’s Healthiest Foods and The Whole Grains Council.

Because oats are so low in calories, it makes them a great base for fun breakfast creations!  Here are a few of my recent favorites!

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Ginger Peach Oats with Raspberry Protein Oats

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 bags of Trader Joe’s Organic Ginger Peach Tea
  • 1 fresh peach or apricot
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Splash of almond milk
  • Chia seeds
  • Sliced almonds

Steep the bags of tea in one cup hot water.  Meanwhile, microwave the frozen raspberries for approx 30 seconds or less (until melted and mushy).  Mix in the protein powder and chia seeds and splash of almond milk until desired thickness.  Next, cook oats in brewed tea on the stovetop until done.  Top the oats with sliced almonds and the fresh peach.  Pour the sauce over the top and enjoy!

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Chocolate Orange Protein Oats

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • Stevia drops to taste
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Almond butter
  • Fresh orange

Cook the oats in 1 cup water with the orange extract.  Once done, stir in the protein powder and cacao powder.  Top with almond butter (I used Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter by a company called Wild Friends….I can’t even explain how amazing this almond butter is) and an organic mandarin orange.

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Coconut Blueberry Protein Oats

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Frozen or fresh blueberries
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Coconut milk

Cook oats in 1 cup water and coconut extract.  Once done, add the protein powder.  Top with blueberries, shredded coconut and coconut milk to taste.

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Coconut, Strawberry and Banana Protein Oats

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2-3 fresh organic strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut

Cook oats in 1 cup water and coconut extract.  Once done, stir in the protein powder and top with fruit and coconut.  Could also add coconut milk as well.

The plain flavor of oats allows you to add ANYTHING your heart desires!  Play around, experiment and try new combinations!  Let me know how it goes!  🙂

Carrot Greens Pesto

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I cannot tell you how many times I have purchased a bunch of carrots and simply chopped off their top leafy part and tossed it in the compost.  Recently, after I received my home delivery of produce, I was about to chop and compost my carrot greens and then…a lightbulb!  Maybe the greens are edible!  Maybe they are healthy!  Maybe they are even tasty!  So I hopped onto good ol’ Google and found some mixed messages.  On the one hand, carrot greens are touted to be:

  •  Full of Vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself
  • Rich in protein
  • Rick in minerals and vitamins
  • Loaded with potassium
  • High amount of chlorophyll, which has been shown in studies to combat the growth of tumors, as well as having cleansing properties that purify the blood, lymph nodes, and adrenal glands

On the other hand, some claim they are toxic.  From what I could tell, the concern over carrot greens comes from their close relatives: poison hemlock, water hemlock, and the wild carrot (a.k.a. Queen Anne’s lace).

According to The World Carrot Museum website, the main reason there is a conflict between whether carrot greens are edible or not is because there are poisonous look-a-likes that are often mistaken for wild carrot.  Therefore, you should be certain of what you are eating.  Furthermore, the bitter taste that makes some weary is reportedly from the high amount of potassium the greens contain.  They also contain flurocoumarins, which may cause an allergic reaction on the skin when touched.  According to the World Carrot Museum, this only affects people with allergies to the plant specifically, which are often the same people who have skin allergies to yarrow, ragwort, and chamomile (hopefully you already know if you fit in that category!).  The World Carrot Museum website also states:

“The toxicity linked to carrot tops is the same toxicity issue with any greens.  That is that all greens contain alkaloids.  When you eat the same type of greens all the time (like if you had spinach all the time or carrot tops all the time) then the levels of that plant’s alkaloids starts increasing in your system.  Alkaloids are toxic in high amounts.  Therefore the rule of thumb is that you need to keep rotating your greens.”

I am not a doctor and cannot speak to which side of the debate is correct.  I can say, however, that I ate them, felt great, and thought they were delicious.  If you are in any way hesitant or concerned, please ask a health professional.

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In any event, I used my carrot greens to make a pesto.  They tasted a bit like parsley and went really well with quinoa, black beans and roasted vegetables (beets, broccoli and rainbow carrots).

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For the pesto, combine the following in a food processor:Image-2

  • Roughly chopped carrot greens
  • A couple cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I am estimating here, I did not write down exact measurements but you can start with less and add as needed)

Pulse until well mixed and add to vegetables, fish, meat, pasta, whatever you’d add a pesto to!

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Other ways to use carrot greens include:

  • Homemade mouthwash (carrot greens contain antiseptic qualities) 
  • Mixed in with a mixed green salad
  • Add to coleslaw
  • Use for garnish

The Wonderful World of Bulk Bins!

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In the last year, I have discovered the wonderful world of bulk bins!  Bulk bins can be found in some grocery stores (Fred Meyer, WinCo, Safeway), health food stores (Whole Foods), and food cooperatives* (People’s Co-op in Portland).  They contain food staples such as beans, rice, flour, nuts, dried fruit, and spices.  There are typically plastic or paper bags nearby that you simply put however much you want of a particular food into, label it with the provided number or food name, and take it to the register!

Why do I love them so much?  Let me count the ways!

  1. Image-15Saves Money:  Buying in bulk saves some serious dough.  The most drastic price difference is seen in spices.  Typically, you’ll pay $3-5 for a bottle of cinnamon, but I can refill my spice bottle for less than $1!  When you see the prices on bulk bins they can seem pretty steep (especially for spices), but notice that this pricing is per pound.  I’d venture to guess you aren’t buying a whole pound of oregano, so don’t worry about that seemingly large price tag.  Also, items like pasta, spices, and flour are light in weight so that per pound price won’t add up quickly.  I recently purchased 1.12 pound of lentils for $1.67, 1.27 pounds of black beans for $1.77, and 1.42 pounds of pinto beans for $3.25.  If you buy canned beans, you get 15 ounces (about 1.9 cups) for somewhere between $1-3.  However, one cup of dried black beans yields 2.25 cups of cooked beans.  Trust me, it adds up over time!  And yes, you can save on organic foods this way too.
  2. Portion Control:  So, you’re trying a new recipe and it calls for 1/2 cup of bulgur.  If you’ve never heard of bulgur you may be wondering, what the heck is it and will I even like it?  At the grocery store, you can purchase 28 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill bulgur for $7 and hope you enjoy this new grain or buy the grain, use 1/2 cup, and never use it again!  However, if you find your needed ingredient in a bulk bin, you can purchase just the amount that you need.
  3. Saves Packaging:  I have saved a bunch of jars from things like pickles and jams, and now use them to hold foods from bulk bins.  I also use large storage jars I have purchased from places like Bed Bath and Beyond or Amazon.com.  Most of the time, there is a scale near the bulk bins where you can weigh the empty jar, write the tare weight, and then fill it with your food item.  The tare weight allows the person ringing you up to only charge you for the weight of the food and not the jar.  Don’t forget to weigh the empty jar with the lid on!  Reusing glass or plastic jars saves you from throwing away plastic packaging or recycling boxes and cans from packaged foods.  Not only does reusing jars reduce waste in our landfills, but you can also make your pantry super cute!  A little chalkboard paint or printable labels, and you’ve got well-organized and lovely food storage.  Check out BooBearyBinks or here for ideas.  My jars are not quite as cute yet.  I’m thinking this will be a great project when I am done with school!
  4. Nothing but almonds in my almond butter!!

    Nothing but almonds in my almond butter!!

    New Foods:  I have been introduced to so many new foods because of bulk bins!  Hazelnut butter and goji berries are my recent favorite finds and tries from bulk bins.  Sometimes, I literally stand in front of the bulk bins and Google things I’ve never heard of on my cell phone!  It’s fun to see a grain I’ve never heard of, purchase a cup or so, and give it a try!

  5. Clean Foods:  Foods in bulk bins are often just the food.  For example, dry beans in a bulk bin are only beans, while beans in a can may contain other nonessential (and possibly unhealthy) ingredients.  The nutritional information and ingredients will be on a label on the bin, so read carefully.

What I always buy from bulk bins:

  1. All types of beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, cannellini, pinto etc).  Image-16
  2. Lentils
    (Yes, buying beans and lentils in bulk means they are dry and require some time to cook (1-2 hours).  If you plan ahead, it really isn’t a big deal.  I typically cook a cup of beans at the beginning of the week and stick them in the fridge so they are ready to be thrown into meals.  See Vegetarians in Paradise for charts and cooking guides for beans and grains.)
  3. Rice
  4. Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc)
  5. All types of nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc)
  6. Almond butter or hazelnut butter
  7. Honey
  8. Agave
  9. Olive Oil
  10. SpicesImage-17
  11. Oats
  12. Quinoa and quinoa flakes
  13. Chocolate or carob chips
  14. Goji berries
  15. Chia seeds
  16. Pasta
  17. Whole grains
  18. Popcorn
  19. Shampoo and conditioner (refill old shampoo/condition bottles)

If you have a store near you that has bulk bins, give them a spin.  You’ll never want to go back to packaged foods 🙂

*Food Cooperatives are also amazing!  Cooperatives (or co-ops) are worker or customer owned businesses that provide high quality, usually local, items at a great value to their members.  They not only provide food that supports safe, sustainable growing and manufacturing practices, co-ops can also be an amazing community resource.  I am a member-owner at People’s Co-op in Portland, OR and they have an amazing array of free or sliding fee scale classes every month, including yoga, canning and jarring, cooking classes, movement and meditation, as well as provide opportunities to learn and discuss ways to improve our local and national food system.  Being a member-owner means I have made an investment in the store and I am eligible to receive a small percentage of the amount of money I spend at People’s each year when the store as a profit and participate in elections through the Board of Directors.  They also have a Hands-on-Owner program in which you can work in the store for a discount on purchases.  Furthermore, food co-ops provide an opportunity for you to invest money back into your community and small businesses, rather than into large corporate supermarket chains that do not have the same interest in caring for your community and nearby farmers.

Because patrons are also owners in a food co-op, they have the opportunity to decide what types of foods the store offers.  For example, at People’s, members voted to not sell products that contain meat (except dog food), and the Board of Directors has approved product guidelines that prohibit products that contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  This makes shopping there easy, because I have confidence that the products I am buying are going to be “clean” without me spending a ton of time reading every single label.  The investment is not large ($180) and can be made in $30 per year payments.  This has made it affordable for me while I survive on a student budget!

Search for a food co-op near you here!!  ❤

All of the photos in this post were taken at People’s Co-op.

Baked Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Pearled Barley

I was headed to work that night, so I ate mine from a glass tupperwear.

I was headed to work that night, so I ate mine from a glass tupperwear.

Spring is in the air!  The weather has been treating us well in Portland, with less rain and more of that much needed sunshine, and the excitement of summer produce and festivities is making my heart so full it could burst.  In celebration of the warmer weather, I made this baked goat cheese and arugula salad with strawberries and pecans the other night.  Although it took a little over an hour to put together, the salad was so refreshing and light, yet still filling and absolutely delicious.  I typically test my cooking skills by how much hot sauce Nick uses, and he hardly used any on this dish!  Score!

I served it with a side of pearled barley seasoned with thyme.  Whole grain barley is a high-fiber, high-protein whole grain that boasts quite a list of health benefits.  Pearled barley, unfortunately, has been through a process that removed its hull and nutritious bran layer.  Barley groats are hulled but still have that bran layer.  Pearled barley is the most commonly used form of barley and is easily added to soups or cooked on its own as a rice substitute.  Some of barley’s health benefits include the following:

  • Barley is has a low glycemic index (measures how foods that containing carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels)
  • Good source of soluble fiber, which is effective at lowering cholesterol and is beneficial at slowing the absorption of sugar
  • Barley is also a good source of insoluble fiber, which may be beneficial in helping the body to maintain regular bowel function
  • Naturally cholesterol free and low in fat
  • Barley contains Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and copper.
  • Barley also contains antioxidants and phytochemicals, which studies have indicated may decrease the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

For more information, see Barley Foods and The World’s Healthiest Foods.

I had some pearled barley in my pantry from a soup I made a while ago, so I decided to use it as our grain with the salad.  Cooking it with thyme and onions made a tasty, yet mild, side to the flavor packed salad.  We had quite a bit of barley left over and used it the next day with black beans, lime, cilantro and avocado to make a power bowl.

Pearled Barley Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 small onion
  • Thyme (2 sprigs fresh or dried)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the pearled barley and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the barley is lightly browned.  
  2. Add the onion and thyme and cook over low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the grain is tender.
  4. Fluff the barley with a fork.  If you used fresh thyme, remove the sprigs and serve.

Click here and here for other yummy-looking ways to eat pearled barley.  I may have to try these too 🙂

Baked Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad Recipe

Original Recipe from Clean Eating Magazine.

Serves 2.

  • Olive Oil (in a spray bottle would be best or you can use cooking spray)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped raw unsalted pecans
  • Baby arugula
  • Fresh Strawberries
  1. Image-14To caramelize the onions, lightly spray a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high.  Add the sliced onions and stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, sticky and light caramel color (about 1 hour).  Remove the skillet from heat and let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes.

 

 

2.  While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In Image-11a small bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and set aside.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, thyme, salt and pepper.  Using your hands, press the goat cheese into 4 balls and then flatten each into 1/2-inch-thick patties.  Dip the patties in egg, turning to coat completely.  Next, dip each patty into the panko mixture.  Repeat the process twice with each patty.  Transfer patties to a small plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap and stick in the freezer for 20 minutes.

 

3.  Line a medium baking sheet with foil and mist with olive oil.  Arrange the cheese patties in a single layer and mist the tops with olive oil.  Bake for 6 minutes, flip the patties and bake for another 6 minutes, until golden.

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4.  Turn the oven heat off, add the pecans to the baking sheet and leave in the oven for an additional 3 minutes.

5.  For the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.

Plate the arugula with sliced strawberries, caramelized onions, pecans, dressing and two patties per person.  And…devour 🙂

Healthy Shrimp and “Grits”

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I love me some shrimp and grits!  Unfortunately, grits are simply ground corn meal and contain limited nutritional benefits.  Most commercially available grits are enriched with various nutrients, but I prefer to get my nutrients from natural sources and in their natural form.  So I played around with this Southern classic and replaced traditional grits with quinoa flakes!

photo-17Quinoa Flakes pack the nutritional benefits of quinoa, a seed related to the spinach family, with the texture of rolled oats or grits!  Quinoa Flakes are produced by flattening out regular quinoa.  I first heard about them from folks that eat quinoa flakes like oatmeal for breakfast and after one morning of replacing oats with them, I was struck by how versatile these wonderful flakes can be!

Quinoa Flakes are:

  • Gluten free
  • Quick and easy to cook
  • Great in baking as well as on their own
  • Neutral in flavor, making them great to add just about anything to
  • High in fiber
  • Cholesterol free
  • Sodium free
  • A complete protein, meaning quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that the body needs to build and maintain muscle
  • High in magnesium
  • High in manganese and copper, which are minerals that act as antioxidants in the body

I found mine in the bulk bins at my local food co-op, but they can also be found packaged in health food stores.

Shrimp boast a great nutritional profile as well, but can be a bit controversial because they are difficult to find in high-quality form and present some challenges to food system sustainability (read more here).  The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wealth of knowledge on the best seafood to eat, and if you have a local fish monger in your area, definitely talk to them!  If you live in Portland, we have the amazing Flying Fish Company on SE 23rd and Hawthorne.

In their best form, shrimp contain:

  • Unusual concentrations of astaxanthin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient
  • High amounts of the antioxidant mineral selenium
  • EPA and DHA omega-3s, which are important for cardiovascular and nervous system health
  • A great ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, which are associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

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Healthy Shrimp and “Grits”

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  • 2/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shrimp (this depends on how many shrimps you want in each serving, adjust for calorie/nutrition needs.  I didn’t really measure this, but I think I used about 2 cups.)
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Seasoning (I used Big Kevin’s Bayou Blend that my grandma brought me home from New Orleans, but you can use any kind of spice that will add a spicy kick!)
  • 3 cloves garlicImage-6
  • Green onions
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used walnut oil)
  1. Boil 2 cups water in a medium sauce pan.  Add quinoa flakes, reduce heat and cover for about 90 seconds.  Remove from heat and let stand for a couple minutes.
  2. Add milk and cheese to quinoa flakes and stir to combine.
  3. In a frying pan, heat up oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and green onions and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add shrimp and cook until no longer translucent.  Add parsley and seasoning and stir well.  Set aside in another dish.
  5. In the same pan, throw in some broccoli and kale and saute until cooked to your liking.  I cooked mine until broccoli were bright green and kale was slightly wilted.
  6. Serve quinoa flakes with vegetables and shrimp on top.  Enjoy 🙂