Israeli Cous Cous Mediterranean Salad. PS, I leave for Europe in 9 days

In 9 days, I’ll be boarding a plane that will initially drop me off in Stockholm. From there I’ll go to 14 more countries/23 more cities in two months (!!!!!!!!). Trying to contain my excitement. This has been in the making since my trip to Europe last summer.

When I was there last summer, I studied abroad in Italy, learned how to make authentic Italian dishes from a little Italian lady and did some minor weekend traveling.

Last years trip to the Grana Padano Cheese factory, one of my cooking classes with my Italian instructor and the Olive Oil factory:

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That was enough to get me saving and planning for this trip I’m about to embark on. I won’t be doing as much cooking as I did my previous time (only a few simple dishes cooked in hostels), but I’ll be going to a ton more countries. My goal for this trip is to not only see new things, places and people, but also to taste new cuisines to inspire a few new dishes to add to my upcoming cookbook!

Once I get back, official recipe testing and cook book creating will be on the way! Lots of work to be done, so before the madness and as a graduation gift to myself… Europe it is.

Here’s probably the last recipe I’ll be posting in a while. But don’t worry! This isn’t the last for two months. I’ll be posting about my experience abroad, the food I eat and the workouts/hikes/classes I do.

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Israeli Cous Cous Mediterranean Salad

serves 2

Ingredients

1 pre-cooked chicken breast, torn into bite sized pieces

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup dry israeli cous cous

1/2 cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup thinly chopped red onion

1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

1 handful italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

7 large basil leaves, thinly sliced (julienned)

2 small garlic cloves, sliced

1 small chunk of either grana padano or parmigiano reggiano cheese (you’ll need a micro grater to grate this)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

salt

1. Make the Israeli cous cous. In a small pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil on medium heat. Add the Israeli Cous Cous and stir around, toasting the cous cous for about five minutes. Add 2/3 cup water, raise to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 5-6 minutes and then drain excess liquid. Put this to the side to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Make the pesto. You can either use a mortar and pestle or a food processor. I think the pesto tastes 1000000x better when made with a mortar and pestle, but it’s up to you. Combine the pine nuts and garlic in the mortar. Crush until the ingredients almost form a paste. Add the olive oil and basil and crush/grind. This process takes a few minutes. Lastly, stir in about 2 tablespoons of micro grated parmigiano reggiano or grana padano cheese and a pinch of salt.

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3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, tomatoes and onions. Pour the pesto on top and toss to combine. Separate the mixture into two bowls or plates and top with the israeli cous cous and goat cheese crumbles.

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Cauliflower asparagus “risotto”

I didn’t make this with the intention of creating an alternative to risotto, it just happened that I accidentally did so in the process of simply trying to make dinner. 

This meal is incredibly filling. I paired it with a caprese salad and that was more than enough for dinner. It looks like it won’t be, but the high fiber cauliflower makes you much more full than equal amounts of rice would.

  
This recipe is easy, but the prep is a little time consuming so crack open a bottle of wine and invite a friend over to gossip as you chop, grate and dice away!

  
 

PS that caprese salad was for three people.. As is this recipe.

Cauliflower asparagus “risotto”

Serves 3

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower

8-10 stalks of skinny asparagus

1 shallot 

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil (half used for cooking, half used for the sauce)

1/4 cup grated cheese: A harder cheese of your preference, one that melts well (I like using stinkier cheeses but you can use a mild one if you prefer. Real parmigiano reggiano would work or anything else you have lying around)

 Salt and pepper

1. Heat a large pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. 

2. Chop the shallot and add it to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes. 

3. While the shallots cook, cut the bottom two inches off of the asparagus. Toss the ends. Chop the rest of the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Add to the shallots and sprinkle with salt. Cook and stir while prepping the cauliflower.

4. Cut the leafy part off of the cauliflower. Grate the entire head using a cheese grater. Add this to the asparagus mixture.  

5. Sprinkle about half a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper into the mixture. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil into the cauliflower. Stir the mixture around every 1-2 minutes. Cook for 8 minutes. 

6. Using a dry pan, toast the pumpkin seeds: Heat the pan to medium high and add the seeds. Shake the pan every 20 seconds or so. Only let the seeds toast for 1-2 minutes. They very quickly burn so make sure you don’t leave this pan until the seeds are done and you take them off of heat. 

7. Grate the cheese and stir into the cauliflower. Turn the heat off below the cauliflower.

8. Combine the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil with the Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Mix well and stir into the cauliflower. Stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds.

9. Salt and pepper the finished product to taste.

10. Pair a super light salad with this or a very small piece of meat. I really mean it when I say that this is surprisingly filling!

  
  
And make sure to eat it outside on a beautiful summer night with people you love! And wine, of course 🙂

Chia pudding. For those days when the alarm clock isn’t your friend (always).

This morning, like many of my mornings, I had three alarms set: 5:45, 5:47, 5:50. Yes, as in the morning. When the suns alarm hasn’t even gone off yet. 

On these days, I have work at 6:45 am so I don’t have a whole lot of time to physically make breakfast, so I pre-made these little guys the night before!

I make a big batch so all I have to do is grab a little jar in the morning and take off. I would love to have the luxury of sitting down to a warm meal with a cup of tea, sitting in a wooden chair with a blanket while watching the sun rise… But that’s not my reality right now. I watch the sun rise from inside my work. But my little chia pudding cup makes me a lot happier about it!

This makes three 8 oz servings. Enjoy!

 

Chia pudding pot

Ingredients:

1 cup vanilla yogurt (preferably organic)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/3 cup chia seeds

1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey

A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

2 sliced strawberries per serving  

1. Mix the yogurt, almond milk and honey/maple syrup until well blended. 

2. Add in the chia seeds and stir until combined. Let sit for 1 hour or over night. After an hour, split them into separate containers with sliced strawberries and a pinch of cinnamon on top!

Scraping your insides clean: Cleansing

The first few months of the new year is the time when people decide to get healthy. Usually this also means that they decide to do a cleanse in order to “reboot” before they (hypothetically) completely change their diet and lifestyle. Cleansing is a great idea if you’re doing it the right way and for the right reasons.

If all you want is to lose weight, DON’T cleanse. A successfully completed cleanse will only allow you to lose up to 3 pounds. If you lose anymore than this in such a short amount of time, it’s because you are literally starving your body and it’s using your muscles as energy instead, causing you to waste away. You don’t want to lose muscle. You want to lose fat. Fat won’t be lost through starvation, muscle will. To lose weight, you have to alter your diet and increase the exercise. Another post on that later.

Today we’re talking about cleansing in order to boost your health. If done properly, a cleanse can help boost your immune system, rid you of certain ailments, help with allergies and arthritis, cure bloating and many many other benefits.

There are many different ways to clean your body out to fit all sorts of lifestyles. I’m actually currently doing a three day cleanse through my job at Kreation Organics. You can do cleanses on your own and make fresh juices each day, but it can be tedious and it might just be easier to buy the juices (organic and raw, please!).

So, back to the types of cleanses:

1. All Juice:

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This type of cleanse generally has 6-8 16 oz juices that you drink through out the day. You drink juice and eat NOTHING. You can have as much (non-caffeinated) tea and water as you want as well. This type of cleanse is great because it gives your digestive system a total rest. Like any machine, if it is in constant use, then it will  break down. In today’s society, we are constantly snacking throughout the day and never really giving our GI tracts a break. A juice cleanse gives the GI tract a rest while still absorbing the important nutrients your body needs. This cleanse is kind of intense for beginners. It’s do-able, but be prepared to be incredibly hangry. PS, don’t do this cleanse for longer than 7 days. Ideally, you would do this for 3-7 days.

2. Juice and Food Cleanse:

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In this cleanse, you will drink 3-5 juices with one meal in the middle of the day. The idea is that you are still giving your body a good 20 hours of rest per day while still allowing yourself some substance. The meals you eat should follow “clean” guidelines. So no caffeine, alcohol, sugar, meat, etc. If you choose to do this type of cleanse and have more questions about what to eat at lunch, comment below or shoot me an email for more information!

This is the cleanse that I’m doing. I don’t want to lose any weight and I am choosing to still lightly work out so the higher calories work better for me. If you are a newbie to cleansing, have an active job or are still opting to work out, then this would be a good choice for you.

Since we’re on the topic of working out… Here are some general guidelines for working out while cleansing:

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1. Keep it light and simple. Don’t do heavy muscle workouts. Don’t run five miles. You’re taking in about half of the calories you normally would. Just use common sense. Workouts like a light jog, walking or yoga are all good ideas. Just don’t go all gym-rat on me and hit the gym at your normal pace. The action of working out breaks down your muscles. Normally, you would have enough protein and nutrients to build it back up. While cleansing, you don’t. So you end up just tearing down your muscle and not rebuilding it. This is not good. Just do me a favor, and keep it light and simple.

2. You should still be at least a little active. I know I said to keep it light and simple, but that doesn’t mean avoid exercise. You should still at the very least be walking about 5.000-10,000 steps.

My Cleanse:

Today is day one of my cleanse. Yay! I’m doing four juices plus a lunch. I’ve done cleanses before and had a terrible experience because I didn’t consume enough juices in general. I was BEYOND hangry the last few times of cleansing. I was the hulk and I was on the verge of smashing everything in sight. But the whole adding food thing really works for me. I’m still cleansing, the juices plus the water I’m drinking really fill me up and I’m not scary, hangry Autumn! I already feel less “icky” inside from this first day. I eat really well on a fairly regular basis already, so I’m not experiencing much of the “detox” symptoms, but some people may. This would be caused from drinking too much alcohol on a daily basis, consuming too many simple and refined sugars daily or depending on coffee to get your day going.

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I’m also taking a probiotic during this time to help restore my gut flora. This is always a good idea to implement into your daily life even when you’re not cleansing. Probiotics are a huge field in nutrition that are linked to curing or aiding in treatment for a wide range of diseases and ailments: Crohns, IBS, depression, allergies, nutrient absorption, etc.

I’ll be posting the next two days about my experience so you can understand what to expect during your own cleanse!

If you have any questions at all about cleansing, just comment below or email me at healthyfoodylife@gmail.com

Happy Cleansing!

No-Bake Hiking Cookies!!

HIKING COOKIES! Not volleyball cookies… but hiking cookies. They obviously can be eaten where ever you want, but I was trying to force my friend into going hiking with me today so I was bribing her with these non-bake “hiking” cookies. She insisted that they could be volleyball cookies (because she wanted to play volleyball) and I insisted that no, they were hiking cookies. So now, in tribute to my stubborn-ness, these cookies will forever be known as HIKING COOKIES!!

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They are ridiculously easy to make and packed with superfoods. When I eventually went on my hike today up at Runyon Canyon, I had just one of them for my “lunch-snack” and it completely filled me up. Because it isn’t baked, the enzymes and heat sensitive vitamins contained in the ingredients of the cookies are retained and therefore accessible for your body to soak up! Part of the ingredients must be heated slightly just to maintain a correct consistency, but its only for a minute and on a very low heat. The rest of the ingredients have no heat applied to them whatsoever.

 

Because of the hemp seeds and chia seeds, these “cookies” are high in protein and omega 3 to help power you through your day. Plus, it contains maca which not only regulates your hormones, but also boosts your fertility and libido. I bring these with me to work paired with a small piece of chicken and salad and it provides the perfect amount of sustained energy. Plus, they taste spectacular which is always a plus!

This recipe makes 12-13 cookies so it will easily last you a week of bringing them to work or school. Just make them on Sunday and enjoy your little healthy treat the rest of the week!

No-Bake Hiking Cookies

makes 12-13 cookies

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Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup chia seeds

3/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)

1/4 cup maple syrup (real maple syrup. not aunt jemimas)

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons maca powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

 

1. In a large bowl, mix the oats, cranberries, coconut, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt.

oatmeal pour

 

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2. In a pan over low heat, mix the almond butter (or peanut butter) with the maple syrup and almond milk. It might be easiest to use a fork with this because it helps break apart the almond butter and  combine the ingredients.

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3. Once the ingredients are combined, turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla extract and maca powder.

4. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and stir until combined.

5. Put a parchment paper sheet on a cookie sheet. Scoop two heaping tablespoons of the mixture and form into a cookie shape. Put onto the cookie sheet and repeat until the batter is gone.

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6. Once the cookies are all done, put them into the freezer for 1-2 hours and then transfer to a sealed container and put them into the fridge. They can be eaten for up to a month as long as they are kept in the fridge! Enjoy!

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I brought my cookies along during my hike with a friend and my dog on Runyon Canyon. Such a great hike on a beautiful Saturday morning! My friend (not typically a healthy food eater) LOVED the cookies! Go take a hike and bring the hiking cookies along with you!

Falling in love with fall… quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

Fall is by far my favorite season. A little biased? Maybe. But some of the tastiest and most complex food comes from this season. The squashes, root veggies and cruciferous plants!! All some of my faves. The common theme between all of these is that they taste absolutely incredible when roasted. Each different veggie has such a unique flavor that develops during the roasting process. Yams become sweeter, cauliflower becomes earthy-er and spaghetti squash becomes.. spaghetti (another post on that later this month)!

Roasting these veggies on their own is good… but stuffing them with some other awesome ingredients… even better!!

Acorn squash has a super ridiculously low glycemic load (4 on a scale that goes up to 250) which is good because it won’t give you high insulin spikes that cause a crash later on. It’s also known to be packed with magnesium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium and vitamin C. Plus, only 56 calories for a cup of the stuff.

Quinoa, as we know, is a complete protein which will help make you fuller faster.

This is a great side dish to meat, or a main meal if you pair it with some cooked veggies. Try it out!

 

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Baked quinoa and pine nut stuffed acorn squash

ingredients

1 small acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half. Once you’ve cut it in half, take each part and cut about 1/2 inch off of the end so that it can stand up.

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3. Scoop the seeds out of the squash and drizzle the inside of both halves with olive oil. Then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt into both halves as well. Put this into the oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on how big your squash is. Mine was really small so it only took 25 minutes.

4. While the squash cooks, put your quinoa into a pot with 1 cup water. Cover and turn the heat to medium high until it starts to boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.

5. When the quinoa is done cooking, sprinkle the garlic powder, remaining salt and butter into the pot with the heat off. Stir to combine.

6. Next, toast the pine nuts. Take a small, dry sauce pan and put it over medium high heat. Pour the pine nuts into the pan and constantly stir the nuts by shaking the pan. These burn VERY quickly so you can’t walk away from them. It should only take about 45 seconds to get properly toasted (if the pan is hot enough when you put them in).

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This is how the pine nuts will look when they are done.

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A shot of how the pine nuts and the acorn squash look when they are both done cooking.

7. Stir the toasted pine nuts into the quinoa.

8. Flip the acorn squash over so that the cut side is now facing up and put it onto your serving plate. Scoop the quinoa out of the pan and equally fill each half of the squash with the quinoa and you are ready to eat!

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**This also tastes great with some finely chopped and sauteed veggies mixed in with the quinoa, like broccoli, zucchini or cauliflower.

**Feel free to add a meat into the quinoa mixture as well. Just make sure it’s already cooked when you add it in and that it is chopped into small pieces!