recipes

Creamy Cauliflower Dip

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One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from changing my diet is when you close a door on one food, there’s a window that opens. And it’s a chance to experiment, be creative and discover something new. Four years ago I started on this journey of healing my body naturally and along the way have had to give up many of the foods I love. I can attest, eliminating foods you enjoy and rely on from your diet is hard. And it’s easy to get stuck staring at that closed door, focusing on what you can’t have. But, I’ve learned if you can break away, there’s a whole world of foods out there to play with, and you just might find something even more interesting and delicious to love.

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Caul Me What You Want
At first glance, cauliflower may seem to be a boring, bland vegetable – a less exciting version of broccoli, which is saying a lot… But if you stop at first glance, let me tell you, you’re missing out! Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables you can stock in your fridge. It can become rice, mash, crust, soup, a dip… It can be transformed in so many ways, if you didn’t know any better, you might not realize you’re eating those boring little white trees…

Cauliflower, and really all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.), help our bodies detox. There are specific phytonutrients in crucifers that activate enzymes which work to get rid of harmful toxins. That’s why cruciferous vegetables are so often hailed as cancer fighters.

One more thing… cauliflower in particular is a solid source of of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in… can you guess? I’ll give you a hint… it’s in the head (see what I did there?). Brain health! We call it a “head,” it sorta looks like a “brain”… Gotta hand it to Mother Nature, she sure knows how to keep it interesting.

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Cauliflower “Hummus” Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2-1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets with coconut oil and cumin. Spread on baking sheet and roast 30-40 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and cool.

In food processor or blender, combine cauliflower, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper in food processor. Process until smooth. Add water if needed to get to desired consistency. Add more to thin.

recipes

Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip and Pumpkin Week on Facebook

pumpkin almond butter dip

Calling all pumpkin lovers…. drop that pumpkin spice latte (for real, do you know what’s in that cup?!) and listen up. Do you want a real pumpkin fix? You see, there’s a big difference between “pumpkin-flavored” and the real deal. So this week I’m sharing my all time favorite pumpkin recipes and treats made with real pumpkin. And of course everything is full of other nutritious ingredients to do your body good this fall. All you have to do is go “like” the meggsalad page on Facebook to get a recipe a day in your feed. Click here to go there now.

First up is total crowd pleaser – serve this pumpkin almond butter dip as an appetizer or dessert, or make a bunch and store it in the fridge for the perfect after school snack. It sure beats that caramel dip that’s loaded with sugar and God knows what else. With this you get nutrition in your treat. – protein and calcium from the almond butter and almond milk, and a healthy dose of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C from beta-carotene rich pumpkin. Pumpkins are also full of fiber and are anti-inflammatory. See what I mean… real deal.

So don’t forget, get on over to the meggsalad page and click “like” or “follow” (whichever one it is…) so you can get four more real pumpkin recipes like this one this week. What are you waiting for? Go get that pumpkin now.

ingredients

pumpkin butter dip 2

Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until everything is well combined. Allow the mixture to come to a light boil and then reduce heat and simmer about five minutes.

Can be served immediately as a warm spread, or chilled in the fridge and served cool.

recipes

4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

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I couldn’t let one of my favorite holidays go by without making something festive to contribute to the red, white and blue section of the blogosphere. This little treat is almost too simple to warrant a recipe or a post but really isn’t simple just what you need on a holiday that’s all about being outside with great friends and family? Then again, making something a little more challenging is always fun too.

These berry and coconut yogurt parfaits are just sweet enough for a light dessert and look festive without even trying. I’m really wishing all of our kitchen stuff wasn’t in storage right now because I have the most perfect cocktail glasses that these parfaits would look beautiful in. They’d also be cute in little 2 oz shot glasses if you happen to have a collection of those. Otherwise a small glass or clear plastic cup will do – I say glass or clear so that you can see the pretty layers.

Leftovers make a delicious and healthy breakfast too (love it when that happens), especially with some added ground flax and walnuts – one of my favorite yogurt breakfast combos that adds a hearty dose of omega-3s and fiber. Not that this treat isn’t healthy on it’s own. Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants to protect your DNA, and your skin and hair too. They’re good inflammation fighters as well.

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Side note… On our California Highway 1 road trip last week we pulled over for some fresh-picked organic strawberries at a farm stand after driving past miles and miles of strawberry fields being hand picked by workers. Gotta say, I have a whole new appreciation for how we get these little gems. And my god were they the sweetest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had. Ever. I mean it; they were candy. Here I am in front of the “you-can-pick” olallieberries. We didn’t have time for that so we just took the pre-picked berries and hit the road in our Mustang convertible (hence the head scarf).

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coconut yogurt

These parfaits use coconut yogurt which is a fantastic alternative to traditional yogurts for those that can’t tolerate dairy or are trying to avoid cow’s milk products. It’s  sweeter and a lot less tart than dairy yogurts too which makes it good for desserts. I buy the So Delicious brand and opt for plain. Then you can flavor it however you want with fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries or peaches. It’s much fresher tasting that way and you can skip the added sugar and natural flavorings.

So there you have it – what just might be the simplest dessert for the 4th. I hope your Independence Day is as sweet, juicy and full of life as these little treats. Happy 4th!

parfaits

4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pint coconut yogurt
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, chopped

Directions

In a small glass or plastic cup, place a layer of berries (you can do either just strawberries or blueberries, or mix them together) then top with a layer of coconut yogurt. Then add another layer of berries and top with yogurt. Continue alternating layers until you reach the top and make the last layer of berries.

 

recipes

Carrot Ginger Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

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OK, I’ll admit, cookie may be a stretch here. This is entirely too good for you to be a cookie. But just go with me on this one…

Imagine… It’s 7:45 a.m. and you’re going to be late for your 8 a.m. meeting if you don’t get yourself out the door in the next minute. Breakfast isn’t happening, but you can grab an apple? some nuts? maybe a Larabar? or how about a homemade even-better-for-you breakfast treat? Way better option, right?! Sure, you have to make them ahead of time, but the pay off in satisfaction, energy, and starting off on the right foot is totally worth the investment if you ask me.

It’s tough to get convenience and healthy in the same package. I find it’s a combo that in most cases is just too good to be true. But, I’ve learned that with some preparation and investment on the front end, it can be done. You just have to suck it up and spend a little time in the kitchen.

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If you’re still with me after that one, hear me out… I truly believe that the healthiest food possible comes from your kitchen or the one of someone who loves you. Anywhere else, and your health and wellbeing is just too far down on the priority list. Sure there are some great food products out there. And options for gluten-free, dairy-free prepared foods are beyond what were in our wildest dreams five years ago. But gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, etc. is not the same as good for you. I’m totally guilty of letting my guard down in the presence of the allergen-free label. When shopping, please, for the love of God, keep reading those labels. And watch for sugars and refined flours. OK, I’m done.

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So, I originally got this recipe from Angela Liddon over at Oh She Glows (love her blog!) then changed it up a bit – using less maple syrup and more applesauce to cut the sugar content even more (it is breakfast afterall). I think every time I’ve made these I’ve changed something… like using ghee (or butter for those that can take it) instead of coconut oil. Or trying it with buckwheat flour. Subbing the oats for quinoa flakes. Lots of options here so by all means, save a trip to the store and use what you have on hand.

The real stars here are the flax, carrots and ginger. I mean, talk about a killer way to start your morning with these three! From the flax, you get a healthy does of Omega-3s right off the bat. Omega-3s are one of those nutrients you really have to pay attention to make sure you’re getting it in your diet because our bodies don’t make it – we have to get it from food. Omega-3 (inflammation cutter) is a duo with Omega-6 (inflammation builder) and they’re constantly performing a balancing act. The ideal ratio between the two is 1:2. But in today’s world this is pretty tough to achieve. The problem is it’s so much easier to get Omega-6 (nuts, seeds, cereals, out-of-the-box snacks…) than the not quite as easy to find Omega-3 (flax, salmon, walnuts…) so we end up out of balance with way too much inflammation than our bodies really need to stay healthy. Too much inflammation leads to all sorts of problems from alleriges to Alzheimers. So, to that I say, have another cookie!

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When making treats like these, I like to make a big batch and then freeze half. It saves half the time (and mess). In just about an hour, you can get countless breakfasts (and snacks) taken care of. And save yourself from shelling out $1.50+ a pop for a not-quite-as-good-for-you store bought bar. Plus when you make them yourself, you get to lick the bowl (or your fingers) when you’re done. Have fun!

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Carrot Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

(recipe adapted from Oh She Glows)

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup ground flax seed
½ cup almond meal
½ cup coconut flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes (or gf rolled oats)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup currants
1 cup lightly packed shredded carrots
3 tbsp coconut oil (or ghee)
¼ cup pure maple syrup (or another liquid sweetener)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated ginger

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flax, almond meal, coconut flour, quinoa flakes, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and currants. Grate the carrots and ginger (I fed them through the grater in the food processor) and set aside. Melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat until liquid. Pour oil in a bowl and then add the applesauce, maple syrup, carrots, ginger and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well (the dough will be very sticky). Using a spoon and your hands scoop out dough and form into 12 cookies. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 14-15 minutes.

recipes

Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is having a big breakfast at my parents house. Even though we’re all grown up now and (almost) out of their house (the front door is a revolving one these days, but I think they like it that way…), we spend the night on Christmas Eve and wake up in the home we grew up in. Things aren’t quite the same – I have a husband. And my old room is now an office. So my brother gets bumped to the couch to give us old marrieds his bed (sorry, Michael). But for one night we’re all under one roof again and it makes me smile.

It’s the thought that years ago we were waking up at the crack of dawn, sneaking out to see what Santa had brought us. And now we will be trying our hardest to sleep in as long as possible. And then, instead of going straight for the presents, we’ll go for the coffee (it will be needed after a late night of drinking wine, talking and laughing with aunts, uncles and cousins). And in the morning we’ll have a leisurely breakfast with our traditional foods and some new additions (gluten and dairy free of course).

This year I’m making these gluten and dairy-free pumpkin muffins that are full of holiday spice and fresh orange for Christmas. Oh, and I threw in some chocolate too… They’ll be an addition to our traditional bacon, eggs, waffles, coffee cake and (drum roll) Pilsbury cinnamon rolls. When we were kids, we’d fight to the death for that “middle one.” Ooh, and the extra icing. This year, Ross, I’m tagging you to represent — Don’t be afraid to use those elbows. That warm, gooey center is worth it.

So maybe not that much has changed…

I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of indulgences… but most importantly love, laughter and memories. Merry Christmas to all!

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Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch sea salt
1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice…)
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1/2 chocolate chips (to keep these dairy-free, you can use vegan, available at Whole Foods) (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Either line muffin pan with liners or grease using coconut oil. This recipe makes about 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins. Or mix it up like I did with 24 minis and 6 large.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, large enough to hold all of the wet ingredients, beat the eggs. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins to a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the outside and baked through. You should be able to stick a toothpick through the center and pull it out clean.

recipes

Healthy? Super Bowl? Oh ya.

It’s almost officially Super Bowl weekend and we all know what that means…

(Yes, that is a football stadium made out of junk food, right there.)

Diet. Fail. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? You can have your nachos and eat them too. Literally. There is such a thing as healthy indulgence. Some of the healthiest foods that exist are true indulgences all by themselves…. avocado. a perfectly ripe tomato. goat cheese. sweet potato. raspberries. chocolate. cinnamon. Oh, I could go on…

Sounds a heck of a lot better than Velvetta and Beanie Weenies, huh? I’ve had my eye out all week for tasty game day recipes that are healthy (or at least healthier) too. Here’s my list of game day go to’s….

What about you… What are you making for game day?

Healthy Game Day Favorites

recipes

Hatch Chile Hummus

We’ve been having our own little hatch chile festival over the past couple of weeks. It started with salsa. And now we’re onto hummus. I love playing dress up with hummus. Start with plain, naked chickpeas and give them some personality with whatever your imagination can come up with. hatch chile. sun dried tomato. basil. kalamata olive. spinach artichoke. jalepeno. roasted garlic. red pepper.  sweet potato. Anything goes. Of course you can’t go wrong with the classic, but why not change it up a bit?

What you’ll need:

2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
2-3 roasted hatch chiles, chopped

What you do:

Using a food processor or blender, first put in the garlic clove and pulse until minced. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and puree until smooth. Add the water gradually as needed to facilitate blending. Continue blending until the hummus is no longer grainy or gritty. Now, add the chopped chiles. Add one chile at a time, tasting as you go to get the flavor just as you like it. We used three chiles which was just enough to give it a subtle spice and a slightly darker tone. You can also add cumin or paprika for some extra spice.

We’re using up the rest of the hatch chiles next week with one more recipe… Stay tuned!

recipes

Nutty in the Morning

My new breakfast obsession is peanut butter. On everything. I figure since I don’t eat eggs, nuts are a close second in the protein department. And I love that it actually keeps me full until lunch. Or at least 11 a.m.

I’ve discovered the all natural, self serve nut butter bar at Whole Foods. This stuff exposes Peter Pan for who he really is. This is the real deal. It doesn’t have any sugar to balance out all that nut, so on it’s own it’s a lot to handle (fair warning). But combined with an apple, or something else naturally sweet, it’s perfect.

My new favorite combo is this though … rice cake + peanut butter + banana + whatever you want. Raisins are good on top. Maybe coconut shavings? Haven’t tried it but it sounds good. I like to keep chocolate out of breakfast since it seems to sneak its way into the final act of lunch and dinner most days, but I can’t help but think of chocolate chips on top of this. Yum.

rice cake with peanut butter & banana