Good morning, good and faithful readers! And happy Thanksgiving!
We know cooking is underway at your house. If hoards of loved ones haven’t arrived yet, they’re on their way. Or maybe you’re getting ready to pack up your contributions to today’s feast and are looking forward to a day with friends or family. Either way, Thanksgiving is a time to focus on what we’re grateful for, to enjoy the conversation and company of those around us. Amidst the craziness and joy today, find time to pause and take in the moment. In a way life is short, and times like these are worth cherishing.
Whether you’re cooking today or mom’s doing it again this year, we would like to offer a suggestion: Tina’s Pumpkin Coconut Soup with Toasted Pears. It’s an unconventional choice, but undeniably festive with its myriad fall flavors. The pumpkin is sweet, the coconut adds a light and surprising flavor, and the holiday season is represented by its hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. You know us, though; it’s healthy to boot. We wouldn’t recommend anything that wasn’t packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, and this soup is no exception.
Try this sweet and rich soup throughout this holiday season. It’s sure to keep you in a cozy mood and please your taste buds all the while.
1 medium pumpkin baked for 45 minutes or until soft (about 4 cups of pumpkin)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (I used so delicious)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (I toasted the seeds in some coconut oil)
2 bosc pears sliced thin
Put cooked pumpkin into a food processor or a blender. Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the maple syrup, coconut sugar, and spices and continue to blend.
Spread sliced pears on parchment paper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Sprinkle pears with coconut sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until soft and toasted.
Add soup to a bowl and top with pumpkin seeds and toasted sliced pears.
We had an absolutely overwhelming response from our clients on that last post about Panera. Making food at home is always the best option, but everyone needs a break now and then. Our clients do a wonderful job of staying disciplined and keeping their eyes on the prize, and we know they deserve a reward. How long can one shy away from the office deciding to order out together? or avoid going to dinner with friends for fear of breaking the rules?
Oh boy. Is your mouth watering yet? As if their Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob wasn’t delightful enough, they also offer an amazing Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob.
These are the two Tina would highlight at Sticks. They are delicious and even more delicious together. Sticks makes a tasty little side of cucumbers, tomatoes and other delights, and we think that rounds out the meal pretty well.
Grilled veggies and meats seem the obvious choice for healthy options, but the savvy restaurant-goer has to be careful. We were surprised, once we really started researching, at how many dishes are wayyyy too high in carbohydrates, overall calories and sodium (good grief, so much sodium). With this combo, though, Tina found she could get the protein she needed at lunch time as well as our old friend low glycemic index carbs through the veggies. The extra fiber doesn’t hurt, either. What Tina really enjoys here, though, is the healthy fat that is included without the heavy cost of loads and loads of sodium. Total sodium for these two together is 175 mg. Sticks has a shrimp platter which looks awful tempting (Stephanie was this close to ordering that), but with 1,270 mg of sodium it’s not quite worth it at half of your sodium need for the day.
Tina’s only complaint is that the fiber could be a little higher. 3 grams isn’t so bad, but she will have to make sure to include 22 grams more during the day so meet the daily recommendation of 25.
If you’re in Richmond, Charlottesville or Williamsburg, check this place out. At Willow Lawn the staff is exceedingly friendly, willing to offer suggestions about their favorite items and preparing meals quickly. Before you go, take a glance at their nutrition information, and try to make sure your selection matches those of these two kebobs in protein, carbs, and sodium. They also offer a little side salad to enjoy with your kebob choices, which Tina gives a thumbs-up.
The Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob and the Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob get an A-. They may be no Power Chicken Hummus Bowl, but as far as we’re concerned, still a great option. Enjoy!
Today Tina caught wind of a deliciously amazing option at Panera: their Super Top Secret Must-Know-The-Password-To-Order Menu. Okay, it’s not that secret, but somehow it had slipped under our radar. How could Panera, right around the corner from our office, have such a divine bunch of lunch options that we haven’t even heard of?! You can check this menu out in its entirety here, but we’re most excited about their Power Chicken Hummus Bowl.
Seriously, this salad is amazing. It’s about the farthest thing it could be from a wimpy salad for a wimpy meal plan. The nice folks at our Panera location whipped this salad up in a flash and sent us on our way with the perfect lunch. It’s convenient and tasty, but what really caught Tina’s eye were the nutrition facts.
Here it is in all its well-balanced and nutritious glory. The Registered Dietitian Stamp of Approval is owed to the fact that this salad has a very near perfect balance of nutritional elements for lunch. The ratio here is 18 grams carbs : 4 grams fiber : 25 grams protein. When grabbing lunch out on the run, it’s very important to check that your meal comes as close to this equation as possible. Most restaurant meals, Tina says, push an overload of carbs, throwing your meal our of proportion. Sticking to the figures above will ensure stabilization of blood sugar, allowing for energy levels to remain constant and for focus to increase after your meal; not to mention, keeping you sustained for a good three to four hours. You won’t be snoozing at your desk after this salad. The chicken is antibiotic-free and plentiful, accounting for the generous amount of protein. Hummus is a cleverly added low glycemic index carb, while the flavor and consistency of it (AMAZING) eases one’s desire for creamy dressing. Plenty of veggies and spinach contribute fiber and antioxidant nutrients.
Panera’s Power Chicken Hummus Bowl gets an A++ rating on Tina’s list. It’s the best choice we’ve seen in a long, long time from a restaurant.
Way to go, Panera. Way to go.
Today Tina has for you, dear reader, a tasty way to sneak some veggies into your day. We all love smoothies. Not all of us love vegetables. It can certainly seem daunting to eat the recommended amount of servings of something you don’t particularly enjoy. Here’s what Tina writes about this challenge:
“As a Registered Dietitian I see plenty of people who really have a difficult time eating vegetables. I also see people who love smoothies and will add kale or spinach to their drink to increase the phytonutrient value. I’m a big believer in making sure that a person eats at least 4 cups of raw or 2 cups of cooked vegetables a day. The antioxidant nutrients that are available in the vegetables as well as the vitamins and minerals will help not only your energy cycle run more smoothly, but also help with detoxification of toxins in your body. In this smoothie I have added GreensFirst greens, which is a fantastic product that is loaded with spinach, kale, kelp, broccoli sprouts and many more vegetables and fruits and super foods.”
So drink up these veggies and enjoy this cold refreshing recipe!
3/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut/almond milk
2 scoops Xymogen Whey Protein or Vegan Fit Food vanilla
1 scoop supergreens powder (I use GreensFirst)
3 frozen strawberries or cherries
2 cubes of frozen pineapple
1/4 cup frozen mango
Ice as needed
Put into Vitamix or blender and blend until smooth.
Kale is the new superfood, full of flavor and nutrients. Also called “borecole,” it’s closely related to wild cabbage in the way it grows. Kale has iron, vitamin K, and is loaded with antioxidant nutrients. Couple this veggie with pomegranate seeds and you have a powerhouse salad!
Compounds found in pomegranates are called punicalagins and have been shown to aid heart and blood vessel health. Punicalagins are the major component in the pomegranate that have health benefits. Some of the benefits include helping to lower cholesterol.
This salad is a delightful combination of savory and sweet flavors with the added joy of a crunchy and robust texture. Enjoy it as a quick lunch or a side to your main protein at dinner.
4 cups curly purple kale (also known as borecole)
1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place butternut squash in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash and cube.
Place kale in a pan with a inch of water and cover and steam about 1 minute.
Remove pomegranate seeds and place in a bowl. Add chopped pistachios. Add to the kale and add butternut squash to the mix.
Mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Add to the kale mixture and mix well. Can serve with any protein dish including fish, chicken, pork or tofu.
The local grocery stores in Richmond and across the country currently feature a healthy array of squash and pumpkins in myriad shapes, sizes and colors. What inspiration for the healthy chef! This month, we are focusing in on different kinds of squash and the recipes that we think complement them best, allowing our readers (and cook-along-at-home-ers) to enjoy the taste and color of the fall season. This week enjoy a pumpkin variety that is usually used in pie, but turns out to be delightful in a savory and spicy soup.
Pumpkin is full of nutrients including potassium pantothenic acid, magnesium, vitamin C and Vitamin E; and let’s not forget fiber!
2 cups broccoli chopped
2 cups cauliflower chopped
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
3 zucchini chopped
1 pumpkin baked, peeled and half of it cubed and the other half will be pureed
chicken stock (I used Trader Joe’s 32 oz. carton organic chicken stock) or you can use it from scratch
1 teaspoon dried jalepeno (I use Penzey’s spices)
1 teaspoon oregano
Smoked salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Pumpkin seeds (I used the pumpkin seeds in the pumpkin) or store bought
Head of time, prepare pumpkin seeds by spreading them out on a pan and allowing them to completely dry. Add coconut oil to a saute pan and place over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and allow to toast.
Add olive oil to a soup pan and place over medium heat. Add broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic and zucchini to the olive oil and continue to cook until soft. Add the chicken stock.
In a blender add 1/2 of the pumpkin and the vegetables along with the stock and puree. (I leave some of the vegetables in the soup pan to add texture).
Add the cubed pumpkin and season with dried jalapeño.
Top the soup with the pumpkin seeds and if dairy is okay for your diet add a dollop of greek yogurt or use coconut cream.
Tina absolutely loves this dish because it’s gluten free and full of fiber from the buckwheat noodles. Buckwheat noodles and shrimp offer a good amount of protein as well. If you prefer to go vegan, add tofu or tempeh instead of shrimp.
Buckwheat noodles originated in Japan in the late 1800s. Also called soba noodles, they’re made from buckwheat flour. Buckwheat noodles are fat and cholesterol-free, and are a good source of manganese and thiamine. Since buckwheat does not contain gluten, these noodles are a good choice for people following a gluten-free diet.
You can either pick up your favorite tomato sauce from the store or try and make your own. If you do decide to go with grocery-bought sauce, pick one where sugar is NOT listed in the first four ingredients.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 sweet onion sliced and chopped
1 pound medium or large shrimp (shell removed, keep the tail)
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
4 cups baby spinach
buckwheat noodles (1/2 cup to 1 cup per serving)
Add buckwheat noodles to boiling water and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until al dente.
Turn stove top on medium heat. In saute pan add olive oil and heat then add chopped garlic and saute until toasted followed by the sliced onion. Continue to saute until wilted. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink. Add basil and continue to sauté and then add baby spinach, once spinach is cooked remove from heat.
Add noodles to a bowl or a plate and top with spinach/shrimp sauté then add tomato sauce.
Summer is the time of year we welcome family to our homes on a weekly basis, where cook-outs and campfires abound. It’s not the time of year to slave over a hot stove with your family surrounding you in the kitchen. In July, we want to be outside laughing by the pool or watching the kids run through the yard. It’s the perfect time to impress guests with this fuss-free dessert. Your family will love it and your body will thank you, all while fooling your mother-in-law into thinking you’ve spent the better part of an afternoon on this, and fooling your tastebuds into thinking there’s no way this can be good for me.
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup Truvia for baking
(Ridiculously Simple) Directions:
Mix together above ingredients and then crumble on top of blueberries and Truvia mixed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes covered and then remove top and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy!