New Food Rules: VEG OUT

Many people ask me, what do I need to do to be healthier? “Well… That depends… Healthy is such a relative term.” The answer is SO different for each person. Nonetheless, there is one universal piece of advice I give to absolutely everyone without fail: INCREASE your non-starchy VEGGIES DAILY.

 

Non-starchy veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals. They help you feel full and satisfied. They are very low in sugar, fat, and calories. Veggies enhance pretty much every body system from the circulatory to the skin.

Two distinct points to make with this (not so new) food rule. First, I did not say eat more FRUIT and veggies. I left all off the fruit apart of the usual phrase for a reason. Fruit is a very nutritious part of any diet; however, 2 servings per day is ENOUGH. Fruit is composed of vitamins, fiber, and yes sugar. More is not necessarily better with the sugary goodness.

Secondly, add more veggies of the NON-STARCHY type. Corn, peas, and potatoes are all examples of starchy vegetables. Just like with fruit, the main components of starchy vegs are vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates (which triggers an insulin spike.) Not to say that these types of foods are bad, we just do need more than 2 – 3 servings per day of them.

More than likely, you knew the WHYS to consume veggies more often. But actually getting the goodness from the frig to your mouth is much harder. Here are 3 tips to making it work.

 

Prep Your Fridge: When prepping a quick lunch or going for a speedy snack, a head of cauliflower or whole carrots are not going to make the cut. In the moment, bringing out the cutting board and breaking down the item will just not happen. Especially when crackers or chips are much easier to grab. Instead make it your intention to cut each veg right after you purchase your stash. You will be surprised how much more appealing a strip of bell pepper or a wedge of zucchini are when they are bit sized and ready to go!

carrots and broccoli pic 2cut carrots and broccoli pic

 

Make a Tasty Dip: Let’s face it… raw veggies are not that punch of flavor that your favorite chips might be. Why not change this fact? Explore different sauces, dips, or hummus recipes that get you excited about the afternoon snack time.

carrots and broccoli pic

Here is one of my personal and recent favorites:

Ian’s GrIans Green Dressingeen Dressing

One big handful of basil | One handful of           parsley | 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard | 2 – 3 squeezed lemons | 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil |     2 – 3 cloves of garlic | Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together. Enjoy! (NOTE: For a thicker version, sub half of an avocado for ½ cup of oil. Or try MCT oil instead of olive oil.)

 

 

Blend it Up: Have an “easy-out” on hand on those days that you just cannot seem to fit it all in. There are many brands of “green powders” on the market that you can add to either a full smoothie, a vegan milk, or even just water. I encourage purchasing a few different sample packs to do a bit of taste testing. Watch out for artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and preservatives. Vega One is currently the brand in my diet routine.

Vega One Mix Pic

Asian Spiced Chicken with Root Vegetables

Combining Asian spices with fall friendly root vegetables is a twist on the usual side dish. Trust me, this will be a go to veggie dish to pair with any meat. Chicken goes nicely here but pork would be an tasty sub.

Ingredients

4 bone-in chicken breast (organic, if possible)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons yellow curry powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 large turnips, large dice

3 medium parsnips, large dice

6 medium carrots, large dice

10 small golden beets (or 2 large), large dice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/2 tablespoon dried sage powder

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free option)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix spices for chicken rub (garlic, curry, chili powder, plus salt and pepper to taste). Drizzle chicken breast with olive oil and rub spice mixture on each piece. Place on baking sheet and cook for 35 to 45 minutes (depending on oven).

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the diced turnips and parsnips to the water and cook for 2 minutes. Using large spoon, transfer the turnips and parsnips to baking sheet. Continue with carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes followed by beets for 5 minutes.

Season the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and sage. In the same oven, cook the veggie mixture for 25 minutes.

Once slightly browned, remove the vegetables. In small bowl, combine white vinegar and soy sauce. Drizzle with over the vegetables and taste for any needed salt and pepper.

Fill over 1/2 of plate with veggies and a side of chicken for a great Savage Standard portioned plate!

(Note: Some bone-in chicken breast may be larger than protein need. Cutting in half is always an option! Save for lunch!)

Tomato & Asparagus Pasta Carbonara

A creamy pasta dish is one of the most comforting meals known to man. It is also heavy on the carbs, light on the vegetables, and loaded with anti-nutrients. This version of pasta carbonara is clean enough to have any night of the week. To up the vegetable count, use a veggie based pasta. OR, top with a fried egg to rich things up.

 

Ingredients

8 ounces penne pasta (red lentil pasta is my choice; however, brown rice, or whole grain are a good choice as well.)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound asparagus (or baby broccoli)

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 egg (pasture-raised)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for plating

2 tablespoons butter (grass-fed)

Fresh basil (optional)

Directions

Mix 1 large egg, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Set aside.

Cook  penne pasta (vegetable based pasta is preferred.  Try red lentil pasta by
Tolerant.)

While pasta is cooking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 pound of asparagus or broccoli rabe to large sauté pan.  Allow to cook for 3 – 4 minutes before adding 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic and 1 pint of halved cherry tomatoes.

Add cooked pasta and egg mixture to sauté pan. Toss to coat.  Option to add more grated cheese and fresh basil.

Let’s Supper: 6th Edition!

After working all day, coming home and cooking is a hard ask. However, it becomes a bit easier when you have a plan. Here are four simply but delicious meal ideas and recipes. Look below for the grocery list too. Supper is served!
*Note: All recipes serve 4.

Supper 1:

Pasta with Brown Butter Sweet Potato Sauce (meat free)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast 1 large (or 2 smaller) sweet potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Cook in microwave if low on time.) After cooked, allow potatoes to cool for easy handling. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter. Allow to cook for 4 minutes over low to medium heat to slowly brown. Turn the heat down and add the flesh of the sweet potatoes.  Mash with a fork into the butter and add 1 cup of culinary coconut cream. (If you cannot find this product, you can use regular cream or whole fat Greek yogurt.) Turn heat down and allow to simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and ground sage (optional). While sauce is simmering, cook pasta of choice to package directions. While pasta is cooking add 1 bag of spinach to the pasta sauce. Once pasta is ready, add directly to sauce. Toss to coat and smile!

Supper 2:

Margarita Chicken with Asparagus

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 4 chicken breast vertically to butterfly open. Sprinkle the inner sides with salt, pepper, and Italian herb blend. Place chopped roasted red pepper, sliced mozzarella, and basil on one side of chicken. Fold the other side of the chicken over the fillings and place in a baking dish greased with olive oil. Repeat with 3 other chicken breast. Drizzle oil over top of breast and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until chicken is slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, add chopped asparagus to the side of the dish. Season with oil, salt, pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cook for 10 more minutes. Remove for oven and add one slice of mozzarella chicken to each breast with a sprinkle with parmesan. Place back into the oven under the broiler.  Allow cheese to brown and bubble up (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven and serve up a slice.

 

 Supper 3:

Roasted Fish with Pepper & Corn Succotash

Check out my post on this go to fish recipe that has very few ingredients! Recipe: Roasted Fish with Pepper & Corn Succotash

Supper 4:

Asian Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken

Combine 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free), juice of 1 small lime, and 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic. Drizzle ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil while slowly whisking into the other dressing ingredients. Set dressing aside. Chop 1 bunch of kale and place into a large bowl. Pour dressing over the kale and toss or massage into the leaves and refrigerate while grilling the chicken.  Heat grill pan or outdoor grill. Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 4 – 8 minutes per side (depending on thickness). While chicken cooks, prep the other salad toppings. Chop one large carrot, bell pepper, shallot, avocado, and handful of cilantro and add all to kale. Add edamame after defrosting in boiling water for 1 – 2 minutes. Dice chicken into large chucks and toss in the salad. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

 

Grocery List:

Produce:

2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 smaller ones)

1 package of spinach

1 bunch kale

1 bunch carrots

1 bell pepper

1 bag frozen edamame

1 avocado

1 shallot

1 bunch fresh basil

1 bunch asparagus

Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro

Garlic bulb

Lime

 

Protein:

8 chicken breast (pastured raised or organic)

4 white fish fillets (grouper, sea bass, cod, etc.)

2 pound pork tenderloin

1 pound large shrimp (wild-caught)

 

Cold/Diary:

1 block of Parmesan Romano cheese

1 container of fresh mozzarella

1 cartoon of eggs (pasture raised, organic)

Butter (unsalted, grass-fed)

 

Pantry:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Culinary Coconut Cream

Pasta (vegetable pasta, gluten free pasta, brown rice pasta, or semolina)

Rice wine vinegar

Low-sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce

Vegetable Stock (organic, no-salt added)

Dried herbs: sage, Italian blend, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger

 

 

Perfectly Balanced Breakfast: Grits with Fried Eggs

Making a healthy breakfast that has the weight to satisfy you all morning is very hard. It is even harder to find an option that is not completely made up with carbohydrates that will leave you with a hungry stomach and energy crash mid morning. Here is my take on a southern classic of eggs and grits. By adding in chia seeds with the grits, the balance between carbs, protein, and fat is right on target. Plus, the fat from the oil and egg yokes will keep you and your brain happy all morning. Set that alarm 3 minutes early and begin the day on a full belly!

 

Ingredients:

1/8 to 1/4 cup of brown rice grits *Optional to substitute corn grits; however, make sure they are non-GMO and cook for a bit longer. Brand recommendation: Bob Mills

3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups water  (depending on grit portion)

1 – 2 tablespoons chia seedsChia seeds

1 tablespoon of coconut oil OR butter (if using butter, grass fed is best!)

2 eggs (pasture-raised please)

Pinch of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper

 

 

Pour the grits into a microwave safe bowl and cover with 3x water. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and then again for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. Remove and add chia seeds. Stir to absorb rest of liquid and season as desired.

Heat butter or coconut oil (I use either fried eggs in pandepending on my mood) in small pan over medium heat.
Crack eggs in pan and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cook to liking.

Serve the eggs over the grits, pour a cup of coffee, and YUM!

 

 

Grits bowl 2

Cooking’s Secret Weapon

If you read a few of my recipes, you will see that a couple spices and herbs continue to make their way into the mix time and time again. All of these spices are amazing to have on hand when you are either cooking from a recipe or when freelancing it by throwing a fresh veggie into a pan or putting meat in the oven to roast. These guys are calorie, carb, and fat free! (Salt is obviously not a free-for-all. You do not want to go over board with this guy.) So favor your food robustly and watch your satiety skyrocket!

 

Spices:

Himalayan (pink) salt

Sea salt

Black pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Chili powder

Red pepper flakes

Paprika

Ground ginger

Cayenne pepper

Cumin

Celery salt

Curry powder

Curry powder

Old Bay

Bay Leaves

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

 

Herbs:

Italian blend

Herbs de Provence blend

Rosemary

Oregano

Basil

Thyme

Grilled Salad with Shrimp

In honor of warm weather, Cinco de Mayo, and alfresco dinning, here is my kick off recipe. A salad can be so boring and unsatisfying for dinner; however, putting all of the salad components on an indoor or outdoor grill is a fantastic way to keep things interesting. The dressing is also a MUST try. When I make this salad, I only use about a half of the amount and then save the rest in a mason gar. The leftover dressing is awesome as a veggie dip or as sauce for fried or poach eggs (think Huevos Ranchos) or over black or pinto beans.

Serves 4


Creamy Tex-Mex Ranch Dressing:

IMG_0931

1-cup whole fat Greek yogurt (grass fed, if possible)

1 7oz can of Salsa Verde

½ tablespoon garlic powder

½ tablespoon dried oregano

Dash of chipotle chili flakes (optional for spice)

Mix the yogurt and salsa in bowl and add in spices to finish. Boom… Dressing!


Salad Ingredients:

2 heads of romaine lettuce

3 bell peppers (any color)

2 yellow onions

1 pounds of medium to large shrimp (it’s a preference thing here)

1 tablespoon of butter (grass fed, unsalted, if possible)

½ tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (you can use salt and pepper here instead of    the Old Bay).

Coconut Oil (for greasing grill only)

Salt and pepper, to taste

IMG_0935

Prep the lettuce by washing and cutting down the middle of each head. Cut the bell peppers and onions into long slices. Melt the butter and pour over the shrimp. Sprinkle the shrimp with Old Bay. Heat either outdoor or inside grill pan over medium/high heat. Wipe grates with a small amount of Coconut Oil.

Place the onions and bell peppers on the grill. While on the grill sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the romaine lettuce, cut side down, on the grill. Allow for grill marks to form on the vegetables, usually about 3 – 5 minutes, before flipping the lettuce and stirring the peppers and onions. Remove from the grill after 3 – 5 more minutes. Place one ½ of the lettuce on each plate. Top the lettuce with the onion and peppers.

Turn down the heat of the grill and carefully add the shrimp to the grates. Cook the shrimp for approximately one minute on each side. After cooking add ¼ of the shrimp to each plate. Spoon the Creamy Tex-Mex Ranch over the plate and ENJOY!

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