Simple Smoothie

28 Mar

Staying active, particularly in stressful times, is important. Whether hopping on a bike for a ride, putting athletic shoes on to take a power walk, or picking up weights for a resistance workout, maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial to good health.

After a workout, there is nothing like muscle recovery in the form of a smoothie. It’s icy, refreshing, and packed with nutrition. I make mine from scratch, so I control the ingredients. There is no unwanted sugar, and I can customize the smoothie to my mood-or to what I have on hand. This is what my smoothie consisted of today.

Simple ingredients for a protein smoothie

I pulled out frozen raspberries, plain greek yogurt, chia seeds, cottage cheese, peanut butter powder and milk. The stick blender easily brings it all together. These ingredients are easily customizable for dietary preferences, food intolerances, and allergies. And if you think you can’t have fruit with a low carb lifestyle, keep reading my friend.

Some fruit is okay to include, in moderation, with a low carb lifestyle. And since variety is crucial to a healthy diet don’t ditch fruit entirely, even on a keto diet. Just make informed choices. Did you know that raspberries can be keto friendly? They are a low carb fruit-about 5 net carbs per 100 grams. Since these little berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, go ahead and inlcude them (in small amounts) in your meal/snack rotation.

So here is how I built my smoothie from the ground up. I put frozen raspberries into my mixing cup. The chia seeds and peanut butter powder went over the berries. The dry ingredients on the bottom with the fruit makes it easier to mix into the smoothie.

I put the dry ingredients over the berries so they would mix in easily.

Next I added a splash of milk, chia seeds, and peanut butter powder.

Just a splash of milk.

I kept layering the ingredients, so in went the keto friendly protein packed greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Oooh, this was shaping up to be yummy!

Protein packed keto friendly yogurt and cottage cheese went in next.

That’s it. No added sugar or sweetener needed here. The berries will hit that flavor point in this drink. To finish off this delectable treat, I simply put the stick blender in the cup and turned it on. The mixture became velvety. Since the berries were frozen, this frosty treat is already nice and cold! But still, you can add some ice to really chill it down.

Whip this with the stick blender till creamy.

Pour this cold refreshing treat into a glass, add an eco friendly straw, and enjoy your post workout protein recovery drink!

 

Enjoy a Keto friendly high protein treat any time of day!

 

Other add ins for my smoothies inlcude almond or soy milk, unsweetened cocoa (great antioxidants!), an egg white (pasteurized for safety), kale, mint, basil, and crushed ice. Take walks, ride a bike, and stay active. And afterwards, enjoy a delicious treat like a fresh protein and vitamin rich smoothie! What kind of smoothie are you making today? Drop me an email or comment and let me know!

By the way, I use my stick blender a lot. Yes I have a blender as well (hello…margaritas!!) but use my stick blender for homemade sauces, soups, and smoothies. If you can fit this kitchen gadget into your budget, I highly recommend adding it to your kitchen tools.

 

Foraging-Pantry Style

16 Feb

Holidays were so busy this year. I had house guests throughout the season. I dearly love a bustling holiday crowd, but let’s face it-it’s work. Now the holidays have passed with warm happy memories lingering, warming even the coldest of winter days. But I am tired. Which is why I foraged in the kitchen for dinner tonight. It was an epic win. Why? No trip to the store. Created from items on hand. It was easy. And delicious.

It began as a late afternoon (post catnap…isn’t that what weekends are for?) scattered thought-what sounds good for dinner tonight? So I meandered off of the couch and went to the freezer. Score! There was some ravioli that was fresh but had been tossed into the freezer. I pulled it out. It was the starting point. On to the pantry.

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It is a time saver to get fresh pasta. It cooks much more quickly than dried. Don’t have time to cook it? Toss it in the freezer for later!

After flipping the pantry light on and gazing somewhat absentmindedly (my brain may still have been in nap mode!) at the shelves, I silently willed inspiration to come. The ravioli was my center of the plate star, but it needed sauce. Something interesting, fun, different. And above all, quick and easy.

I found a can of artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a couple of garlic cloves. The fridge had some fresh celery, butter, half and half, and some leftover chicken stock. I could work with this. So (a lazy) dinner prep got underway.

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This is what I foraged from the pantry and fridge.

I took out a sauce pan, put it on a medium heat, and added about 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. While the butter melted into the oil I roughly chopped some celery stalks and leaves. Listen y’all, there is no reason not to use the entire celery stalk for a sauce. I chopped the garlic as well.

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Start with extra virgin olive oil and good quality butter.

When the butter and oil were hot, the celery garlic mixture went into the pan to sizzle for a couple of minutes. I stirred and kept it on a medium low heat-garlic can burn quickly so it must be watched and stirred.

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The garlic and celery filled the kitchen with delicious aromas. Don’t forget to use the celery leaves!

In between stirs, I drained the artichoke hearts. They were packed in water so after they were drained I squeezed them upside-down over the sink to remove excess liquid between the leaves. After a rough chop I added them to the sizzling garlic and celery. Mmmmmm. The kitchen smelled wonderful.

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Drain your artichoke hearts to control the seasoning in the sauce.

Next in went a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Mindful to layer flavors, I added salt and pepper. I keep a salt cellar of a high quality salt and pepper mixture next to my stove. This makes it easy to layer in seasonings as I cook.

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Keeping a salt cellar on the counter is an easy way to layer flavor as you cook.

If adding salty ingredients such as capers to a sauce, I go directly for the pepper and leave the salt out until the last minute, adding if necessary. No capers here, so salt and pepper were a must.

The juice in the tomatoes needed a fresh minutes to reduce and thickness slightly. The heat was still on medium and it took about 8 minutes for this lovely sauce to thicken up. Time to layer some more flavor. A few splashes of chicken stock was sounded yummy.

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Any kind of broth will do for this easy recipe!

After adding the broth, I added a few red pepper flakes as well.  I just can’t stop myself from adding a heat layer. Since this was a recipe for two and Denis is not as fond of heat in a sauce as I am, I went light with just s few flakes. A good stir incorporated all of these lovely flavors.

The sauce was simmering beautifully. Time for the creamy. I added about 1/2 cup of half and half. If you are lactose intolerant you can leave this out. The sauce will still be thick and lovely.

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Oh the creaminess of half and half!

With a good stir and the heat lowered to medium low, this fragrant sauce needed only a few minutes to heat through. I had put a pot of water for the ravioli on, and it was boiling. Time to get the ravioli cooking. It had defrosted and was a fresh pasta. It cooked up in a snap.

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Add a heaping Tablespoon of salt to your pasta water. This not only helps add a bit of flavor to the pasta, the starchy water will thicken any pasta sauce.

Before draining the pasta, I gently removed about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and slowly stirred it into the pasta sauce. A little cooking hint for you-starchy pasta water helps sauce thicken and cling to the pasta. It is a step that is worthwhile to incorporate.

Time to plate this up.  I had opened a can of green beans to cook up quick as a side dish. I chopped up 2 small peppers I’d found in the fridge and added those to the green beans.  Goat cheese crumbles were on hand, so those were lightly sprinkled onto the green beans. Again, this was all foraged from the pantry and fridge. No trip to the grocery store tonight!

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I use my Christmas plates long past the holiday. They just make me happy, so it is usually mid January (okay truth be told maybe even a little later than that) by the time they get put up. Here is the finished super easy dinner. Look at how that sauce clings to the pasta perfectly.

There was just a few ravioli left, so into the fridge they went. My daughter nabbed them the following morning after a long run. Dare I say they were better the next day? Pasta always is! What can you make from your pantry? Send me a postcard and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Artichoke Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon each olive oil and butter
  • small stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can Artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 4 ounces half and half (may omit for vegetarian option
  • Cooked pasta of choice-enough for 2 people
  • 4 ounces pasta cooking water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add butter and olive oil to pan and heat on medium. When sizzling add celery and garlic and turn heat to medium low.  Stir and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and roughly chop artichoke hearts. Add to the pan and stir. After 4 minutes, add tomatoes with the juice. Add salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 8-10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Gently stir in the stock. After well incorporated, add the half and half, if using.

Let the sauce simmer. Add to pasta and enjoy.

NOTE-If a keto or gluten free diet is your thing, this sauce is also wonderful spooned over a piece of chicken or fish instead of pasta. If this needs to be a vegetarian sauce, leave out the half and half and use vegetable broth. For the dairy intolerant, omit the butter and the half and half. How is that for a flexible sauce? Gotta love that!  Let your imagination run wild with this sauce and let me know what you create!

 

 

 

Pignolia. A Love Story.

29 Dec

Pignolia. Pine nuts. Whatever the name oh how I love ’em! This more than just a passing crush or a fanciful flirtation. J’adore! Flexibility with this seed means that they can go into so many dishes! Are you living a keto, vegan, paleo, or gluten free lifestyle? No problem. Bring on the pignolia. Not only that, with a busy lifestyle, the grab and go ease of pine nuts just add to their fabulousness!

Pine nuts often get overlooked. If you have eaten them in the past and gotten away from them, this is a little nudge to add them back into the mix. If you have never tried them, well, there is no time like the present.

These buttery textured delights can be a perfect addition to a granola snack mix, tossed on a salad, or blended into your favorite pesto and home made hummus. The flavor packed pine nut shouldn’t be saved for the special occasions-add them into the regular rotation of goodies!

Pine nuts are literally the seeds from pine cones. There are many species of pine nuts but don’t let that intimidate you. Don’t let the cost sway you away from these delicious little nuggets either. A little can go a long way.

Why add them into your diet? Pine nuts are rich in many nutrients that boost metabolism and bolster immune system health. So they not only taste delicious, they can help your body resist disease. Also, they are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which can naturally lower bad cholesterol.

And if you still need convincing, look no further than your mirror. Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E. What does that have to do with your beauty regime? Vitamin E is excellent for cells-which helps maintain beautiful skin. Toss that makeup aside and start eating more of these flavor packed kernels.

They are delicious right out of the bag, but toasting pine nuts kicks my love affair with them into overdrive. Why go through the extra step to toast pine nuts? It intensifies their unique nuttiness and adds a slightly firmer bite. Adding them to a recipe, a salad, or even a creamy slice of cheesecake lends a wonderful toasty flavor layer.

And it is easy peasy to do. First simply toss the pine nuts into a dry heated pan. No oil is needed here.  Put them on a medium heat and spread in an even layer.

 

Put the pine nuts in a dry pan.

Keep your eye on them, stirring every few minutes while they heat up. They will become deliciously fragrant as they toast.

As these seeds toast they begin to emit a lovely warm fragrance.

Don’t leave the kitchen-nuts can burn quickly. While they toast, the enticing scents wafting through your kitchen will get your mouth watering!

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When they are perfectly golden brown, remove them from the heat and place them on a plate. It is hard to resist the temptation to pop those delectable nuts into your mouth by the handful while they cool.

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Now you can add them to your favorite recipe or simply sprinkle on anything! Put them on a salad. Add them as a cheesecake garnish. Make a big batch of pesto-some for now and some for later. Create some one of a kind home made hummus. Add them to a granola and nut snack mix. Let your creativity abound! One taste and you will fall in love with toasty pine nuts too!

Basic Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Use as a sauce for pesto or vegetables, or brush on fish or chicken. 1/2 cup cream may be added for a creamy pesto sauce which is lovely on tortellini.

Hummus:

  • I 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T. Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. Tahini (may substitute 1-2 T. peanut butter or omit
  • 1 t. paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all items in blender and blend until smooth. May add more olive oil if necessary for desired consistency. Garnish by sprinkling more toasted pine nuts before serving.

 

 

Hearty Cocoa Oatmeal

16 Nov

November is here. It is the time of year for a hot nutritious breakfast so we can brave the cold. Take a break from the norm. My favorite winter weather breakfast is Cocoa Oatmeal. YUM! Wait…what? Cocoa for breakfast? Yes. Without a lot of unnecessary sugar this is the perfect hearty breakfast.

I use steel cut oats. They have double the fiber of rolled oats. The steel cut take a bit longer to cook than rolled oats, so make a big batch. The leftovers can do double duty as a healthy satisfying snack tomorrow.

Get these basic ingredients together and let’s get cooking. This is what you need.

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Start by melting your butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. I prefer ghee for my oatmeal but regular butter works too.

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Then sprinkle in pure delicious unsweetened Cocoa

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Give that mixture a whisk to incorporate

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Enjoy the warm scents wafting through the kitchen. Next, add your steel cut oats.

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Keep stirring until your grains are all coated with the succulent cocoa and butter mixture.

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Next, add your water or milk. Both work for this recipe. I also add a touch of vanilla.

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Let the mixture slowly come to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

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While the oatmeal simmers, enjoy a cozy cup of coffee. Steel cut oats are loaded with beneficial fiber and other nutrients, but this grain cannot be rushed. these oats take about a half hour to simmer, but they are worth the wait!

You’ll know its ready when the oats are tender and creamy.

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Spoon a heaping helping of your luscious oats into a bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of agave to add a touch of sweetness and enjoy!

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Don’t be fooled by the addition of the cocoa. It can help stabilize blood pressure, help control cholesterol levels and help maintain normal insulin levels. Cocoa also contains elements that can improve mood, making it a great way to start your day. It has potassium, magnesium, and iron as well. Add cocoa to your diet and leave the guilt behind.

This recipe is great as is or you can customize it. Shake on some cinnamon, stir in other cooked grains like leftover brown rice or quinoa), or sprinkle in some toasted almonds. Its up to you-but anyway you make it, you will have winning breakfast every time!

RECIPE:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. pure unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups water or milk
  • Agave or sweetener of choice

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. When it is hot and bubbly, sprinkle the cocoa in and whisk. Let that get good and hot, and add the oats. Stir until your grains are covered in the butter cocoa mixture. Add the liquid, the vanilla, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering. Do not cover. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Cook for about 30 minutes, finish with your sweetener, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keto Cod

2 Sep

Fish. It’s good for us, but we sure see it fried a lot. And that is not healthy. Want to make some healthy fish that won’t leave a dirty pan and a fishy smelling house? Keep reading.

We will start with a meaty 16 ounce piece of cod. Why Cod? It is a nice firm clean white fish mild in flavor so it appeals to most everyone. It is low in calories and fat, but a 4 ounce serving packs about 19 grams of protein.

Cod is also rich in B vitamins. Cod also has phosphorus which boosts the efficiency of those B vitamins in your body. The health benefits are substantial with the choice of this protein.

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Look at this gorgeous cod!

Next cut the cod into 4 pieces. The end of the filet is a little thinner than the rest so that piece can be folded under. We want all of the pieces to cook evenly and this simple step will help with that.

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For portion control 4 ounces of cod is just right.

Next, dust the cod with salt and pepper. It doesn’t need much, but feel free to add seasonings that appeal to you. Lemon pepper or herb de provence are also wonderful additions to this flakey white fish. Fresh cilantro would also work well here.

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Less is more with seasoning this mild fish.

Get 4 pieces of foil that are large enough for your filet. We are making a pouch so make sure the foil is large enough to loosely wrap around each piece of cod. Place the fish in the center of the foil and drizzle with olive oil. We are now going to add some serious deliciousness to the cod-tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese. OOOOHHH so good!

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Use a high quality tomato and fresh cheese for this dish.

Dice up the cheese, and drain a tomato from the can. You will need one tomato for each cod fillet. Lay the tomato over the fillet, and sprinkle with the diced cheese.

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Go as heavy or as light as you want with the cheese.

Now doesn’t that look enticing? Finish it off with a little drizzle of olive oil.

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Heart healthy olive oil adds just the right touch here.

I am an acid person-think vinegars and citrus-so I also layered an acid layer here. A little spritz of vinegar was the perfect addition but you can also add a slice of lemon if that is your thing. Express yourself. When you’ve dressed your cod, simply crimp and pinch the foil to make a pouch for the grill. Seal all of that luscious goodness in, and let’s get to cooking.

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This little pouch of deliciousness will save with the cleanup!

Make sure that your grill heated up and cleaned. The temperature should be around 350 degrees. Place your cod pouches  directly on the grates. Close the lid. In about 10-12 minutes, your pouches will be ready to come off the grill.

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Doesn’t this look heavenly? Better yet, cleanup will be a snap. No dirty pans to mess with when making this succulent dish!

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Delicious grilled keto friendly cod!

How is this for a mouthwatering dinner? Quite spectacular! Never cooked fish before? This is too easy not to try. And if you are eating low carb or keto, dig in. This is low carb and keto friendly. Since your grill is heated up, grill some veggies to go along side your cod. Bon appetite!

For more grilling ideas, see my Girls can Grill blog here. https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill

 

 

 

 

Grill and Chill

4 Aug

Summer is here and it’s steamy outsidel! That is why we are fully utilizing our grill-no need to heat up the kitchen! Not grilling? Well its time to get out there. If you need some encouragement, see my previous blogs on grilling here:

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

and here: https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Ready to take it one step further and make a light breezy drink with a smoky grilled twist? Here we go. Grab your favorite vodka, a lemon, garden fresh basil, refreshing soda water, and let’s create a grilled summer cocktail perfect for the patio.

Being a fan of local ingredients, I picked succulent basil from my garden and chose a robust juicy Texas lemon for this drink. Also, this special vodka is from right here in Texas!

Get some simple ingredients together for a fun summer (grilled!) cocktail.

After you assemble your ingredients, fire up your grill. Let it get good and hot! Then slice your lemon. Put the slices on the grill and listen to the sizzle!

Let those lemon slices sizzle and enjoy the amazing fragrance of grilling lemons!

Grilling always produces mouth watering aromas, but this citrus is off the charts! Just look at those grill marks! That lemon is carmelizing and getting sweeter but the second.

Look at those grill marks!

Let the grill do it’s magic and head back inside for a minute. It’s time to work on the rest of this cocktail. Get a patio friendly glass out and toss in that basil. Grab a wooden spoon and muddle those leaves. Gently bruising the leaves allows the basil to release a bit of oils-a crucial step for this succulent cocktail.

Mash the basil up a bit. It will release some lovely fragrant oil.

Next, put some ice on top of the basil. Then head out to the grill and pull those grilled lemon slices off of the grill. Slip a grilled lemon slice into your glass and add a bit of vodka. A simple whiff of this cocktail imparts magnificence!

This grilled cocktail is coming together!

Top off the vodka with refreshing chilled soda water to finish off this yummy cocktail.

After your cold soda water is added, your cocktail is ready!

Your light summer cocktail is ready for sipping so head on out to the patio, get comfy in your favorite chair, and chill! This recipe is for one, but better yet make 2 so you can grab your honey to join you for a little relaxation.

It’s time to chill!

What is your favorite summer cocktail? Let your creativity run wild, get grilling and let me know what you come up with!

Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!