As a kid, anytime my parents would go to an Italian restaurant I would beg them to get me spaghetti and meatballs. It was my absolute favorite! I always picture the scene from the Disney Movie, “Lady and the Tramp” where the two dogs were sitting at a table, music playing in the background, and they both were eating spaghetti and meatballs. To this day, our kiddos love this dish too.
Over little a year ago I had the privilege of co-creating a meal prepping business in my local area that offered healthy meals that were portioned and ready to go. It was a huge success for those busy men and women who didn’t have time to prepare their own meals yet wanted to eat nutritional dishes that would help keep their diet intact. Each meal was weighed and portioned for those who were healthy conscious and even for those that were athletes.
My Italian meatballs served with a low sodium marinara sauce over whole wheat penne pasta with a side order of garlicky sauteed spinach was a customer favorite. These meatballs are hand rolled, made from ground turkey, and are packed full of flavor. Plus meatballs make portion controlling your meals so easy and fun. I use 4 meatballs per serving and if you need more protein just make sure to add 6 meatballs to your plate. I usually make a big batch of meatballs and then freeze the extras so they are ready to go when I bring this meal together.
I love the garlicky spinach that is served on the side. It’s filling because it’s high in fiber and it’s low in calories but high in nutrients. Just like in the cartoon “Popeye the Sailor Man”, spinach helps improve your vision and strengthens your bones. Do you remember that cartoon? Be careful not to overcook the spinach (just wilt it) in order to keep the spinach from becoming slimy. If you’re not a fan of spinach, just replace it with another green vegetable of your choice.
I’ll never forget the first time I got introduced to Indian food. Being partially Korean, I grew up eating curry and was not really a fan of it. So I was very hesitant when our good friends asked us to try Indian. I kept thinking back to that green curry my mom used to fix us and wasn’t too sure about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, my mom was an excellent cook and I love most of her dishes but not that curry stuff. When I sat down and ordered my Indian curry, I was so pleasantly surprised; more like fell in love with the dish! Couldn’t get enough of all the spices and creamy sauces; just delicious and totally different than what I had thought.
Indian dishes can be on the heavy side and will leave you feeling overstuffed, to say the least. I knew that in order to enjoy these delicious ingredients more often then I would need to “lighten” the dish up a bit by using cleaner ingredients without taking away the flavors that I love so much! May I introduce you to my Coconut Curry Chicken. Oh, my goodness; all that yumminess all in one big bowl.
Now you can either top this curry on steamed brown jasmine rice or I choose to make a cauliflower rice and kale mixture that is so much more flavorful. I discovered a treasure in the frozen food department that will make prep time a breeze. Have you ever tried to make your own cauliflower rice. What a mess (at least for me)! All you have to do is add the bag to a frying pan along with any ingredients and spices you like and voila, you have a low carb option for rice that is so yummy! I’m a rice lover but this stuff is so good that I really don’t miss the rice.
Double the recipe and you’ll have plenty to either add to your freezer for later or portioned meals for the rest of the week. Makes pulling wholesome food right out of the fridge easy when you need it.
Breakfast time is really one of my favorite meals to prepare and eat. French toast is on the top of that list however, it’s really not the most nutritional meal to eat so when I discovered the cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread I was hooked. I’m not a fan of raisins but there’s just something about the raisins in this bread that brings it to a whole new level of yumminess and comfort.
How is Ezekiel bread different from the typical loaf a bread? Most bread contains added sugar but Ezekiel bread contains none. It is made from organic, sprouted whole grains which make it more nutritious and it’s also a low glycemic bread. However, it is still made from wheat, barley, and spelt which contain gluten. So Ezekiel bread is not for those people with celiac disease or who are gluten sensitive. You can find this bread in the frozen department of most grocery stores. I usually place it in my refrigerator when I get it home.
So to make this yummy and easy dish, I place egg whites, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, and stevia into a large dish for dipping. Blend this mixture with a whisk until totally combined. Heat a flat top griddle or pan to medium-high temperature. Spray the griddle or pan with cooking spray. Take 4 pieces of the Ezekiel bread (may need to place in microwave for 15 seconds to take the chill off) and dip each piece on both sides until well coated and place on hot griddle or pan. Cook on both sides for 3-5 minutes. Repeat until all pieces are cooked (if using a griddle you can cook all pieces at the same time). Slice each piece in half (2 whole pieces per person) and serve with maple syrup and sprinkled stevia on top. That’s it and you have a delicious breakfast that’s not only easy but nutritious! Healthy French Toast; Voila!!!
I’ve never been a huge fan of cauliflower but recently my hubby has found out that his body just can’t digest and process starches (such as potatoes, pasta, rice) which leaves him very bloated and so uncomfortable. So I’ve been experimenting with different ways to create dishes without using those starches and it all started with cauliflower mash.
Cauliflower is the perfect vegetable to re-create your favorite dishes. First, it really doesn’t have much flavor so you can season it to mimic dishes such as rice and potatoes. The consistency is lighter but the taste is delicious even for this girl who “thought” she didn’t care for it. Even my hubby has grown to really like cauliflower as long as I don’t serve it to him just steamed.
I’ve always heard that a truly healthy meal should be very colorful. Red tomatoes, purple cabbage, orange carrots…a meal that is visually healthy. Which means most of the time this “white vegetable” gets overlooked. But did you know that cauliflower is high in anti-oxidants, high in fiber, increases blood flow, and is full of healthy vitamins? It’s a wonderful vegetable to include in your diet. Here’s an article about the top 8 health benefits of cauliflower that may interest you. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/22/cauliflower-health-benefits.aspx
Fresh organic cauliflower cut into small pieces in ceramic bowl on wooden background
I’m a huge fan of mashed potatoes so when preparing this dish I knew that I would be a big critic. It had to have the right consistency to fool this girl into loving cauliflower mash. I used a product called “nutritional yeast”. You can find it at stores such as Whole Foods. Nutritional yeast looks similar to parmesan cheese and is packed with nutrition. It’s low in fat, gluten-free, and contains no added sugars or preservatives. It’s used to thicken soups and enhance flavors. It made the perfect thickener to my cauliflower mash. Oh, my goodness! I actually love the taste of this version of mash and now I do believe it will become a staple dish in our home. By the way, it’s so easy to make which is a plus in my book.
So here’s what I did:
Steamed a head of cauliflower (cut into florets)
Drained and dried the cauliflower
Placed in a large bowl and mashed with a hand masher
Boiled together coconut milk, salt, and pepper, and curry powder (sounds strange but the coconut milk calms the curry powder flavor and the color makes it look like the mash is buttered)
Blended cauliflower and milk mixture together
Seasoned with salt and pepper if necessary
Added nutritional yeast to bulk up consistency
Be sure to give this dish a try. You might be really surprised with the flavor!
I am a carb fanatic! I can’t get enough of pastas, rice, and bread however these items don’t do my body any good. All those processed carbs go straight to my belly making me feel bloated and uncomfortable. Sound familiar? Well just wanted to share with you my favorite carbohydrates I love to eat that are cleaner and my body can process easier.
1. Fresh Berries:
Berries are the perfect snack/sweet treat to feed your body. I love to mix strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries together. They may be little in size but they are packed full of antioxidants which can help your body fight against heart disease and cancer. These berries are rich in fiber which in turn help you feel fuller too. I usually recommend waiting to wash the berries unless you know you will be eating them the next couple of days.
2. Starchy Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet Potatoes make such a great substitute to white potatoes. I never appreciated a sweet potato until I became an adult and now I can’t get enough of them. They are low on the glycemic index which means your body processes these carbs slowly in order to not cause a sugar crash. They are also high in beta carotene which is great for the eyes. My favorite way to serve sweet potatoes is by cubing them into bite size pieces, coating them with a little bit of olive oil, seasoning them with cinnamon, and baking in the oven until tender. Yummy!
3. Delicious Squash:
Squash is probably one of the most versatile vegetables that you will come across. There’s so many different varieties that I just love and I can prepare in so many different ways. Plus, the health benefits are amazing. They have the ability to improve the quality of your sight, boost skin health, strengthen your immune system, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, build strong bones, protect your heat, and reduce blood pressure. I love zucchini and yellow squash in any stir fry, I’ll even spiralize a zucchini to replace my noodles for spaghetti, I treat butternut squash about the same as a sweet potato, and spaghetti squash is one of my new faves. I’ll bake it, scoop out the squash, and use as noodles. Pumpkins are also considered a squash and love to use pumpkin puree for waffles. So good!
4. Comforting Oatmeal:
Oatmeal is one of my “go to” easy breakfast dishes. When I’m in a hurry I’ll take 1/2 a cup of old fashioned oatmeal to 1 cup of water, place in a bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes (stirring frequently). Then I add sweetner, blue berries, and a little bit of almond milk. So comforting and delicious! My daughter enjoys oatmeal also (as long as I add the blueberries to her bowl). Oatmeal is a carb and protein-rich source that provides calories and energy. It is also low on the glycemic index which means it will stick with you longer because your body will process it slower. It is rich in soluble fiber which can help you feel fuller which in turn can help you lose weight. Plus because it’s rich in whole oat sources it’s been linked to good heart health.
5. Light and Fluffy Quinoa:
Quinoa is one of my new favorites that I have replaced in some rice dishes. It is such an interesting dish and very high in health benefits. Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein. It’s also high in fiber, calcium, and potassium. It’s actually considered a grain that is grown from a seeds. It’s so easy to prepare also. You take 1 cup of uncooked quinoa to 2 cups of liquid. I like to use low sodium chicken stock. It adds more flavor. Bring liquid to a boil and add the quinoa. Reduce heat to low and cover for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. I like to add low sodium soy sauce to the cooked quinoa and chopped green onions to add more flavor. You can spice it up any way you desire. Really yummy with salmon or tilapia.
So these are my favorite carbs that I like to add to my dishes. Rice and potatoes get boring after a while so venture out and try a different carb to substitute to bring some life to your meals. Your body will thank you!