Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Scallops!

Wild scallops are not cheap, but as an every-once-in-a-while splurge they are so worth it! According to WHFoods, scallops are a very good source of vitamin B12, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a decent source of protein (approximately 23 grams per 4 ounces, about 2 medium sized scallops), especially when wrapped in bacon, which adds a least a couple of grams of protein. I used Marin Sun Farms house smoked bacon, which gave the scallops this irresistible smokey flavor.  

Last night we enjoyed scallops wrapped in bacon, forbidden rice with shredded coconut, and steamed broccoli with nutritional yeast -- we definitely got our dose of vitamin B12! Everyone enjoyed the dinner so much, I thought I would share it in case you haven't decided what to make for dinner tonight. Forbidden rice actually received it's name because it was so rare and had such a superior nutritional profile, that it was only reserved for the Emperor of China, hence the name "forbidden". Forbidden rice gets it's deep purple color from anthocyanidins, the same color pigments that give blueberries their deep color and high antioxidant content. 

This entire meal can be completed in approximately 30-40 minutes. Prep times is only about 10 minutes.  

Note: 1 pound of scallops is about 8 medium to large sized scallops, I could only eat two myself. 

1 pound of wild sea scallops
1/2 pound Marin Sun Farms house smoked bacon
1 head of broccoli
2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 cup cooked black forbidden rice
4 tablespoons shredded organic coconut
10 toothpicks (depending on how many scallops you have)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While oven is preheating, wrap each scallop in 1 slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in a shallow baking dish leaving plenty of space between scallops to avoid sticking together. Place in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bacon appears browned. 

Bring 2 cups of water or broth to a boil, add 1 cup of forbidden rice, cover and bring down to a simmer. Allow rice to cook for about 30 minutes. When rice is finished cooking, turn off and add coconut flakes. Adjust quantity of coconut to desired taste. 

10 minutes before serving, place head of broccoli in a steamer basket and steam until desired tenderness. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meal Planning Basics

Planning meals on a weekly basis can feel daunting, but it is guaranteed to save you time and money, reduce stress, and result in more nutritious and delicious food for your family. It has taken me a lot of practice to figure out just how to plan most of our meals for the week, and I have learned the hard way how lack of planning can make life much more challenging.  Before I had a family, meal planning didn't seem as necessary, however these days, I want to maximize time with my family and minimize time shopping and cooking while still creating nourishing, healthy meals.
Here are some basic lessons I have learned about how to efficiently plan your meals for the week, followed by a sample 5-day meal plan:

  1. Start with a protein for every meal, even breakfast! 
  2. Clean out your freezer: make room for doubling recipes to freeze for meals later in the week
  3. Stay organized: keep track of recipes that your family loves -- make a family cookbook. When you are planning meals for the week, start with the favorites, then add some new recipes for evenings when you have a little extra time
  4. Add food prep tasks to your daily ToDo List. If a meal requires prep like soaking or marinating, add it to your to do list.
  5. Double or even triple those recipes that freeze well. Eat some later in the week, and then you’ll have a meal for the following week!
  6. Consider ingredients for the next day. If you are chopping tomatoes for a dinner salad, chop extra for your morning eggs. 
  7. Be thoughtful about your grocery list. Go through each meal and make sure to get everything on your list. This probably takes the most amount of time and focus, but really saves time during the week. 
Here is a sample five-day meal plan from an average week in my house:

Day 1 (Sunday - big cooking day)
  1. Breakfast: coconut pancakes, sliced banana, bacon. Note: make extra bacon for BLT's the next day
  2. Lunch: big salad with canned salmon, veggies, nuts, seeds, homemade dressing
  3. Dinner: Roasted chicken with potatoes and vegetables. Note: make chicken stock that night and freeze half. Also on Sunday evening while the stock is simmering, I will often bake some sort of treat for the week like gluten-free cookies or coconut muffins. Strain stock and store before heading to bed. 
Day 2 (Monday)
  1. Breakfast: eggs, shredded chicken, salsa wrapped up in some lettuce leaves or whole grain wrap
  2. Lunch: BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado), plus a piece of seasonal fruit
  3. Dinner: Cottage pie, side of steamed kale with lemon tahini dressing. Note: saute extra ground beef for next day. Make 2 cottage pies and freeze one for later in the week or the following week.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
  1. Breakfast: smoothie (whey or hemp protein powder, green powder, coconut milk, berries, flax oil, chia seeds)
  2. Snack: apple with almond butter
  3. Lunch: Lettuce boats with leftover ground beef, sauteed mushrooms, salsa, avocado. 
  4. Dinner: Root vegetable cod casserole (make extra for breakfast next day), side salad
  5. Dessert: Maple teff cookies or coconut muffin from Sunday night. Note: after dinner, put 1 cup of brown rice and 1 cup of lentils in water to soak overnight 
Day 4 (Wednesday)
  1. Breakfast: Leftover casserole (fish for breakfast is delicious!). Note: if you can't handle the casserole, switch the breakfast with lunch here)
  2. Snack: Larabar
  3. Lunch: smoked salmon, goat cheese or humus, tomato, capers, on 2 rice cakes, piece of fruit, carrots
  4. Dinner: brown rice (simmered in chicken broth), lentils with carrots, onion, ginger, garlic (simmered in chicken broth), sauteed collard greens in ghee or grass-fed bacon fat, sausage. Note: I add all this in a big bowl and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top. The rice and lentils will not take as long to cook because they have been soaking. Make an extra package of sausage for the next morning. 
Day 5 (Thursday)
  1. Breakfast: 2 coconut muffins, leftover sausage, piece of fruit
  2. Lunch: Leftover rice and lentils, plus turkey cheese roll-ups in lettuce leaves
  3. Snack: Mary's Gone Crackers and hummus, carrots
  4. Dinner: Lamb burgers, salad. Note: make extra lamb burgers for lunch the next day
From this plan I would look at every recipe and make my shopping list. My son won't always eat everything I plan for our meals so I also keep a list of staples he will eat in case he isn't interested in what we are having. I try to avoid having to make something separate for him although it isn't always possible. I keep things like sliced turkey, broccoli, whole grain bread, and cheese on hand at all times. When you are finished with your shopping list, go through and add any staples you need as well. It is a good idea to keep a list of all your staples on the refrigerator, inside your pantry or inside a cabinet door. When you notice you’re running low on any item, add it to the list so that you’ll cover it all when you get to the store. 

I hope this helps. Please email me privately if you are interested in any of the recipes mentioned in the meal plan, or have any other questions about this post. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Meal Train

When our son was born, the most amazing, comforting, and supportive network of friends and neighbors got together and set up a "meal train" for us. For an entire month (or maybe more) we had dinner brought to us five to six nights per week. This was absolutely fantastic and allowed us to focus on our new family rather than what was for dinner and how we would even manage to get ourselves to a store. There are some great websites out there that offer easy-to-use formats for making the necessary arrangements such as Sign Up Genius and Keep and Share. We put a cooler on our front patio so folks could just leave the food in there in case we weren't home, or trying to catch some precious sleep. Mostly, we were excited to see our friends and looked forward to the visits. Ever since then, I have tried to quickly jump on the bandwagon of bringing food to new parents, since we appreciated it so much.

This of course led me on a search for recipes that were easy, delicious, nutrient dense, that you can make a lot of in case there are family members visiting, siblings, or just to have extra to freeze after the meal train stops coming. Recently, a family at my son's preschool had a new baby and I of course jumped on the opportunity to sign up for meal delivery. The call for meals didn't state any food aversions or preferences, but it was requested that there be enough for a family of four. While perusing my favorite sources for healthy, real food-based recipes, I came across this one from Nourished Kitchen. If you aren't familiar with this blog, you should be! Jenny's blog and website are full of amazing recipes, tips, cooking videos, courses, and food news.

I chose this recipe because it is filling, nutrient-dense, freezable, has lots of healthy fats, vitamins, protein, iron, doesn't contain any grains or gluten, and will likely appeal to a broad range of ages.

Cottage Pie with Mashed Yams

1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 cup homemade beef stock or store bought organic beef broth
1/4 cup cream from grass-fed cows
3/4 stick good-quality butter (the higher fat content the better)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup diced carrots
2 medium sized yams or sweet potatoes
3/4 cup shredded grass-fed sharp cheddar cheese
1 T arrowroot powder
1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
2 T organic tomato paste (Bionaturae as it comes in glass jars)
1 tsp organic Worcestershire sauce
real sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

  1. Bake yams in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until soft when pricked with a fork. Peel yams, discarding the peel and mash them with 1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup cream and a dash of salt in an electric mixer. When the yams are nicely mashed set aside.
  2. In a large cast-iron pan saute onions and carrots in 1/4 stick butter on medium heat, stirring until onions are translucent and carrots are slightly browned. Add in ground beef, breaking up meat into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme, stirring to incorporate and turn heat to low. Allow the liquid to reduce a bit, about 15 minutes or so. Add in the peas, and sprinkle the arrowroot on top. Briskly stir to prevent the arrowroot from clumping, then continue stirring gently until the sauce has thickened, less then 5 minutes. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat, turn oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Spread mashed yams evenly on top of the meat and veggie mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the yams. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Possible variations:
Try using small pieces of broccoli instead of peas
Add a big handful of spinach


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gluten free latkes!

It is the first night of Chanukah and I am looking forward to making latkes! However, I am still trying to stick to my low-gluten goals. I feel so much better when I don't have gluten in my diet. If you would like to know more about this topic, please email me privately.

I did a quick search online for some gluten-free latke recipes and pieced this one together. I will have to let you know how it works tomorrow, since I haven't actually made it yet! If you try it yourself, please let me know how it goes:

Gluten Free Potato Latkes

Makes about 15 latkes
  • 3 huge organic russets
  • 1 organic sweet potato for sweetness
  • 1 organic yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 3 large eggs whisked
  • Salt and pepper to taste (be generous)
  • Grass-fed Ghee for frying (or Red Palm Oil)
  • Organic applesauce (best option is to make your own)
  • Whole milk yogurt or sour cream from grass-fed cows
  • 1 bunch of green onions
Peel (or don't peel, I won't peel mine) potatoes, cut in half and place in cold water (to keep them from turning brown and to remove some of the starch). Let soak for about 30 minutes. Peel skin off onion and cut in half. Use grater setting on food processor and alternately push through potato and onion.

Place it all in a colander (inside a larger bowl) lined with a clean dish towel and squeeze the life out of the potato/onion mixture to get the liquid out.  It will be messy, but keep going until they are pretty dry.

Empty out the liquid.  Dump the dry potato/onion mixture into the bowl and add in the flour and eggs and seasoning.   Mix well.

Heat the oil until a tiny bit of the mixture sizzles when dropped in.  Scoop about ¼ cup for each pancake, smash into round-ish patties and fry over medium heat until nicely browned and flip – same for the other side.  If the oil is not hot enough, the potatoes will absorb the oil and just be greasy – and if the oil is too hot not only will it make the oil go rancid but the potatoes will be black on the outside and the inside will be raw. If your oil starts to smoke, throw it out and start over.

Serve with a dollop of cream and sprinkle with green onions. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

The One, The Only, Almond Milk!

I absolutely LOVE fresh almond milk! Almond milk is so incredibly easy to make, contains healthy fats, is high in antioxidants, high in easy-to-digest calcium, and it tastes delicious. I add it to smoothies, homemade granola, or just chug it straight for a refreshing quick fix.  The only downside of fresh almond milk that doesn't contain a bunch of other crap like the commercial products, giving it a shelf life of about 4 to 5 days. Luckily, it is so easy to make you can have a batch of almonds soaking every 5 days, no problem.  

Why is it important to soak almonds overnight? Because almonds contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which inhibits the absorption of important nutrients and minerals. Soaking overnight removes the tannins and phytic acid increasing the digestibility of the milk.

I will cut to the chase here. If you need more reasons to make your own almond milk, send me an email. Otherwise, give this recipe a try -- you will not be disappointed! 

Tip: purchasing a nut milk bag will make this simple recipe even easier

Yield: 1 cup of soaked almonds makes about 4 cups of almond milk. 

1 cup of organic raw almonds
3-4 cups of filtered water
3-5 dates or 1 tablespoon raw local honey

• Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight 
• Place the almonds in a blender along with 3‐4 cups of water (you do not need to remove the skins).
Blend the almonds for 1minute.
•  If sweetness is desired, add 3‐5 dates or a tablespoon of honey within the blending
• Strain milk through a nut milk bag or a couple of layers of cheese cloth into a bowl or through a sieve (this may result in a little bit of almond fiber in the milk
but will sit to the bottom of your jug/cup).
• Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days


Thursday, October 14, 2010

5-minute weeknight dinners?

One important aspect of being a nutrition consultant is having the ability to offer healthy options that are within reach, given each individuals circumstances. I completely understand that even the 20-minute dinner is not an option for everyone.

I recently received some feedback from a friend that although she found the 20-minute dinner recipes I offered in a previous blog posting titled "5 Nights of 30-minute (or less) Dinners" intriguing, even that is not an option for her family. My same friend told me that when she read the recipes and got to the word "chop", I had lost her. Both her and her partner work corporate jobs, they are lucky to be able to pick up both their kids from school and daycare by 6 pm. What do you do when you have two little ones, everyone is exhausted and needs to eat? Friend, I hear you, understand, and feel it is my duty (and pleasure) to offer some suggestions. However, if you are not willing to spend even 5-10 minutes assembling a meal, it is out of my jurisdiction. Eating real food does require some preparation and thought, but can still be fast and easy.

Disclaimer: I have sworn under oath (not really) that I will not recommend to any clients that they use a microwave oven. That being said, whenever I say "heat using your preferred method", I realize that some people will use a microwave, no matter what I say. Personally, I use a toaster oven and heat some frozen things in hot water in a pot on the stove (like frozen veggies). If you would like to know more about microwaves and what they do to your food, please email me privately.

For my uber-busy parents, people, and families, this is for you:

1. When buying frozen vegetables, make sure that they are organic and do not contain any other ingredients

2. Buy a weeks worth of meat on Sunday, put the first two days worth in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. The only planning ahead you will have to do is remember 1 day ahead of time to move it into the fridge. Yes, this requires a bit of planning, but it will save you tons of time during the week, I promise. However, the recipes in this posting do not require any freezing of meats, yay!

3. Canned fish is your friend! There are some really delicious and sustainable varieties of canned salmon available. Just make sure it is wild and Alaskan. Experiment with other types of small, cold water fish as well. I love wild sardines and mackerel on a hearty salad

4. Grocery shop at some point on the weekend! Do not start the week with an empty fridge

5. Make a few bulk items on the weekend, if you can. Make a big pot of brown rice, whole roasted chicken, or big pot of chili. Freeze servings of brown rice and chili for later in the week. Use chicken early in the week for salads, sandwiches, roll ups, etc...

6. Shred or slice up some raw veggies and store in the fridge. I will often send a few carrots, cucumbers, zucchinis, and some cabbage through my food processor with the shredder blade and store in individual containers to be used throughout the week. I also slice up celery and carrot sticks and store in a glass container of water in the refrigerator. When you are a working parent, these are the things that matter. Toss shredded items on salads or noodle bowls to add some crunchy, raw veggies to your meal

These meals are listed in order to minimize taking anything out of the freezer.

5 Super-fast weeknight dinners

Monday:  Tilapia fish tacos. Make these on Monday with the Tilapia you bought on Sunday, since it doesn't keep.  Heat a stack of corn tortillas in the toaster oven, drizzle tilapia with olive oil and grill in a pan about 2-3 minutes on each side until flaky. Add shredded cheese, cabbage or some argula, avocado, frozen corn, a can of organic black beans, and your favorite salsa

Tuesday: Beef bowl: my favorite new noddles are the Gluten Free Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles by Star Anise Foods, they seriously take 3-5 minutes to cook once you get the water boiling. While waiting for the water to boil, quickly seer some skirt steak, slice up and add to bowl of noodles. Toss with sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds if you have them, and add some of those shredded veggies you put in the food processor over the weekend (cucumber, carrots, cabbage)

Wednesday: Omelette: scramble three eggs and add to an egg pan with some butter, cook for 3 minutes. Add some cheese and veggies, fold in half, cook for another minute. 

Pre-cut, frozen, organic veggies work just fine. Try asparagus spears, broccoli, or bell peppers. Sprinkle with chives and cilantro

Thursday: Quick nori roll: warm up some of that already-cooked brown rice you made over the weekend. Spread it out on a sheet of nori, spread some avocado, pre-sliced carrot, cucumber, canned salmon, and a handful of sprouts or other nutritious leafy green of your choice. Roll it up and dip it in some soy sauce. A crowd-pleaser for sure!

Friday:  Lentil soup, sausage, and spinach: If you aren't able to get to your local pasture-based butcher like Marin Sun Farms, Applegate Chicken Apple Sausage is likely your next best bet. Heat up the sausage, toss it into a pot of canned Amy's Organic Lentil Soup, add some frozen organic spinach, and serve.

Protein Shopping List
Canned salmon
Chicken apple sausage
Skirt steak (make extra for a sandwich or salad topping for the next day)

I would love your feedback! Please let me know if you found this post helpful, or have any questions.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Delicious Energy Nuggets!

You just have to try this recipe! I made this recipe as an experiment, and it actually turned out delicious. My husband and my 2.5 year old both think they are yummy. These are a great balanced treat to have when you need something satiating and nutritious. Honey gives you a quick boost, combined with healthy fats (coconut and sunflower seeds) for long-lasting energy. These nuggets are an excellent source of omega 3's and protein.

You may be asking yourself could this be true? Can you get all of that in something that actually tastes good to? Apparently, you can. Here is how:
Warm coconut cream and oil in warm water so it is liquid enough to work worth. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl (except for sunflower seeds). Let sit for a few minutes until it begins to harden enough that it can be rolled into small balls. I was able to make about 10 balls using 1/4 cup base measurement. Spread ground sunflower seeds or shredded coconut out on a plate and roll balls to coat. 

Lay balls out on a small plate and set in refrigerator for at least one hour before eating. Keep unused energy balls in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator. 

A great snack in between meals, delicious treat for kids or lunches, pre-workout energy source. You can munch on these delicious treats just about any old time, and enjoy the benefits.