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 🙂

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The oh-so-Paleo butter in coffee thing. What, Why and how it tastes

My friend, Christine, actually was the first one to tell me about butter in coffee. We were laying out on the beach one day over the summer when she told me about it. It sounded so bizarre and disgusting that I disregarded it as a rumor and we went on with my day. It wasn’t until last week when I was reading The Skimm (awesome daily emails about world news) and it mentioned “bulletproof coffee” being a thing.

1 cup coffee+2 tablespoons (or more) grass-fed butter+1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil=Bulletproof Coffee (of course, blended up in a blender… or else it’s just a goopy mess of butter sitting on top of your coffee)

This drink is supposed to replace your breakfast… just saying.

After I saw it mentioned by a pretty reputable site, I looked more into it. I found a bunch of videos about how to make it and the benefits of it. I also found other websites saying it was a terrible idea and no one should be doing this. Basically, the whole idea behind it is to create a drink that contains the essential fatty acids your body needs from the grass-fed butter and coconut oil in order to have lasting energy as well as caffeine to give you a little boost without a crash. Here’s a little summary of both sides from my research:

The Butter Lovers Argument:

With “Bullet Proof Coffee” you’re using grass-fed butter which has the “best” ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Having an optimal omega 6 to 3 ratio can decrease your risk of many lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Butter also contains Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid, which used to be considered bad for you. Now, this fatty acid has been found to be anti-inflammatory and reduce your risk of CVD. Because of the addition of fats from the grass-fed butter and coconut oil, bullet proof coffee provides lasting energy (about 6 hours worth) without the crash often associated with regular coffee.

(If you want to read more about this argument, check out Women’s Health Magazine’s article on Bulletproof coffee)

The Anti-Greasy Coffee Proponents Argument:

Replacing your meal with this coffee means your missing out on a lot of essential nutrients. In fact, 1/3 of your essential nutrients if you’re used to eating 3 meals a day. You don’t get any fiber, only 1 gram of protein and the rest is fat. Yeah, eating this much fat will satiate you (it IS about 400 calories per cup of this stuff…), but it won’t satisfy your daily nutrient needs. Another point is that even though saturated fat has been found to not be linked with heart disease, it doesn’t mean you should be drinking a liquid concoction of it in place of your regular meal. No studies have been done on eating excessive amounts of saturated fat so no one really knows what could happen at such mega-doses. For example, just because you find out that broccoli decreases your risk of cancer, it doesn’t mean you should be consuming it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The body requires many nutrients from a variety of foods and when you don’t supply it of that, you’ll find yourself in a diseased state.

(if you want to read more about this argument, check out Authority Nutrition’s article about Bulletproof Coffee)

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After reading up about it, I had an idea of how I felt about the health benefits, but I wanted to taste it first before I set my mind to my opinion on the whole matter.

So I brewed up some organic coffee beans (freshly ground minutes before I made it), I pulled out my Vitamix and blended all that fat and coffee together. It looked just like a regular latte, minus the foamy top. Then the moment of truth came… and I tasted it.

At first, it didn’t taste that bad. It definitely was rich and “buttery”, but it mostly just tasted like coffee with excessive amounts of cream. But then I kept drinking it. My mouth had such a gross, coating all over it halfway through drinking the coffee that I couldn’t even finish it. I’m used to eating a higher fat diet with butter and coconut oil, but this was just too much. My stomach felt… icky. I mean, I did have energy but I also felt like I wanted to vomit.

I gave it a fair shot, but it wasn’t for me. Personally, I don’t believe that eating excessive amounts of anything in a normal diet is a good idea. I’ve learned way too much from all my nutrition research classes about how high amounts of almost anything, even the really “healthy” stuff, can cause your body to enter into a diseased state of some sort for me to believe that this drink is good for you. Your body needs a variety of nutrients in order to function and when you replace a healthy meal (not a bowl of coco puffs with milk… an actual healthy MEAL) with a drink that has only a few types of nutrients, your missing out on a lot. But who knows? Maybe if you make up for it throughout the day by eating really well all across the board, you’ll be fine. I personally would rather give myself a high fat, high protein smoothie with a clean latte. I mean, it doesn’t leave that coating inside your mouth and still gives you the high quality fat your body needs as well as that caffeine boost that you sometimes require.

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And it just looks prettier..but I might be biased 🙂

My dad creates recipes too: dads paleo granola

My dad rarely gets involved with the kitchen. If he does, he’s making crazy weird experimental smoothies that he thinks are delicious but the rest of my family semi gags over. But today, while visiting me at school for my last family weekend ever (side note-I graduate in December–yayayayay!!), he comes up with this little gem. I’m not a huge paleo advocate, but my dad really digs it. This recipe is uber paleo friendly and it’s really tasty too with minimal sugar. The only real sugar involved is in the dates. But you guys have got to try this one out.

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I don’t know if you guys have heard of the whole butter in coffee thing… but I think it’s strange. It just sounds unappetizing. Paleo peeps love their butter, so this recipe has a little butter involved. Not as much as my dad wanted, but I made him compromise with me over the amount.
This recipe is great for a little pick me up to help hold you over between meals. Packed with healthy fats and protein! And make sure to use grass fed organic butter- we don’t want any nasty hormones in our recipe!

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Dads paleo granola
ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons butter (weird, I know)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons of the following:
-macadamia nuts
-walnuts
-pumpkin seeds
-pecans
-pistachios
-cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut flakes
5 dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon cinnamon
A pinch of salt

1. Finely chop the nuts and seeds.
2. Combine EVERYTHING into a large mixing bowl.
3. Cover a pie pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture into the pan.
4. Put into the freezer for at least an hour then transfer to the fridge and enjoy!!

Workout Wednesday: ladies, stop fearing the weight room!!

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I know that really big buff guys with their equally enormous weights can be really intimidating. So intimidating, in fact, that it causes you to avoid the weight room all together and modify your workout to use lesser amounts of weights that can be found in the “stretching” area. But it’s time to overcome this fear. In order to get an awesome and diverse workout, you’ve got to start hitting up that heavy weight area.

NOTE: lifting weights or doing exercises with weights will NOT make you big and bulky. That seems to be every woman’s number 1 fear but it will just make you more defined. Women don’t have the testosterone to build up muscle the way men do. Also, you would have to be lifting REALLY heavy weight to see results even close to that. So don’t be afraid of the bulk. It won’t happen.

Anyway, yes I realize the weight room is intimidating. I go to University of Arizona and we were just rated the number 1 campus recreation in the nation. Aaaaand cue all the really large meat heads and weight lifters… So trust me, I know it’s intimidating. But once you get over that fear, it’s a piece of cake and you see that most of those “meat heads” are large freshmen who don’t really even know what they’re doing anyway.

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I recommend starting off with the smith machine. It’s a guided bar that allows you to do squats with the extra weight and form but without the instability of a free bar. It’s a good first step. It looks like the picture above (with me performing a squat on it). I would recommend adding ten pounds to each side first and then do one set of ten reps of squats. If you feel like you can, add five more to each side and do two more sets.

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The benefits of the extra weight of the squat rack are immense. It’s a totally different workout and you’ll start feeling yourself getting more toned, faster!

Don’t be afraid. If you need support, take a guy friend and have him show you how it works. Go during a time when it isn’t busy and that’ll help your nerves also. Maybe go when your school has chapter for the Greek life because that seems to eliminate a lot of the surrounding gym go-ers.

Good luck and have a happy workout Wednesday!

A recipe that makes being poor taste rich: Beef Stew with red wine

Remember that leftover bagged red wine you have from your last party? Or the cheap cut of beef that you bought because you’re too broke to get the tender cuts? Well, we can make your cheap self appear to have a lot more money than you really do with this flavorful stew!
You can really stretch your dollar when it comes to stew. Cooking meat for a couple of hours causes a tough cheap cut to turn into a tender one. Plus, stew is mostly comprised of items that you already have in your pantry and fridge. So no need to make a huge trip to the grocery store to put together this meal!
This recipe is packed with nutrients from the multitude of vegetables and is naturally low in calories while still being able to enjoy beef and flavor!
Try it out as the beginning of fall starts to sneak in on us. It’s perfect to warm up with on a cold, fall night.

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Beef stew with red wine
serves 2

ingredients
1/2 lb stew meat (if it isn’t already cut, ask your butcher to cut it for you)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (larger chunks)
1 small sweet potato, chopped (large chunks)
3/4 cup butternut squash, chopped (large chunks)
1/2 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)-use a cheap wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried- make sure to crunch it up a little first)
2 sprigs thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
Salt and pepper

1. Pour the olive oil into a large pot and heat to medium high. Put the meat chunks in, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper and brown all sides. This should take 5 minutes or so.
2. Take the meat out and add in the onion, celery and carrot. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the veggies. Sauté for 4 minutes and then add the wine. Let the wine cook for about 5 minutes or until reduced in volume by 3/4.

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3. Add the rest of the vegetables and the browned meat back into the pot, along with the chicken broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 2 hours. After the two hours, the stew is done! Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving. You can save the leftovers for the next day. Stew is even tastier when it’s been sitting.

MUNCH THIS: blueberry almond butter pancakes

I use to eat pancakes a lot growing up. Drenched in syrup, slathered in butter… You could hear yourself getting fatter (Tommy Boy reference for anyone who caught that). But then I grew up.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought that I would treat myself and get some pancakes for breakfast. It had all the above stated necessities. About two seconds after I finished eating it, I wanted to puke. I felt so… Icky inside. It didn’t even taste as good as I remembered. I guess eating cleaner caused my taste buds to prefer the healthier foods and reject the heart attack on a plate foods.
Put I still like the idea of pancakes, so I didn’t give up on them.
A few days later, my sister in law introduced me to a cleaner, healthier version of the sinfully sweet breakfast treat. And it is my civic duty to pass the recipe on to my fellow health nut followers!

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Clean blueberry pancakes
serves 2

ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
1 banana
2 eggs
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the first three ingredients really well. Once that is mixed, stir in the frozen blueberries. Put two tablespoon portions onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the top with the honey, blueberries and Greek yogurt!

** Try this out on a lazy Sunday morning. Make extra and store them in the fridge for the week! Just reheat them in the oven!