Sunday, March 1, 2015

Yogurt Granola Breakfast Bowl

Some days you just don't want to eat another egg or you're going to start clucking.  Besides leftovers, it's hard to find a fast and protein dense breakfast item, especially if you are following a real food/paleo diet.  Enter...the yogurt breakfast bowl.  As long as you don't have a major issue with dairy (autoimmune disease, skin inflammation, or lactose intolerance) start thinking about scooping yourself a nice big bowl of plain yogurt and making a delicious parfait.

I used to love greek yogurt, but lately I've been enjoying goat yogurt.  For many people, goat dairy products are less inflammatory than those from cows.  It has to do with a certain type of casein protein.  Most cows milk contains A1 casein, vs other ruminants such as goats, sheep, and water-buffalo whose milk contains A2 casein.

I top my plain yogurt with cinnamon, ground flax seeds, fresh/frozen berries, and my homemade coconut granola.  In order to make this a truly satisfying breakfast you need to serve yourself enough yogurt.  This isn't the time for a small 4oz serving.  Load yourself up with at least 8oz (1 cup), if not closer to 12oz.

Homemade pumpkin coconut granola

Preheat oven to 375 F. 

In a large bowl mix together: 2 cups rolled oats (or large flaked coconut, crunched up), 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon), 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup dried fruit (chop up if larger than a raisin), 1/4 cup chopped pecans.  

In a medium pot, melt over low heat: 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 c Honey or Maple Syrup, 1/4 c smooth  peanut butter (or almond butter or sunflower seed butter).

Mix "liquid" ingredients with the dry ingredients.  Pour onto a lined baking sheet and press firmly.  Make it look like a giant granola bar.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the oats/coconut start to brown.  Take out and let the granola cool for 5-10 minutes.  Then break it all up and store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stop Catering to Your Kids

This is a rant.  I'm climbing up on my soapbox and saying things I can't always say to clients (but sometimes do.)

Stop Catering to your kids!  You are not a short order cook!!!  Just because they want a $5 Starbucks IcedMochaFrappaExtra blah blah blah does not mean you go get it for them on the way home from school or soccer.  When you're at the grocery store and they start pleading for cookies, and frozen pizzas, and spicy Doritos, YOU ARE THE PARENT!  You have the power to say NO.

Recently Ryan and I went snow tubing; as we entered the chalet a mother and flock of kids was leaving.  One little boy was wining, "But I don't want to eat at hoooooome, I want to eat heeeerrrreeeee." She just matter-of-factly told him, "nope, we have plenty of food at home, we are going home for lunch."  Good for her.

There were plenty of times when I asked my mom for some special food product at the HyVee: Lunchables, SkinnyCow ice-cream, and orbitz drinks, and she didn't buy them for me.  Granted, there were times when she did.  But if she said "no," I didn't beg and plead until I got my way.  Ryan's mom had her hands full with 3 boys. He remembers when he and his brothers miss-behaved at the grocery store, she went back through the store, put all the groceries back on the shelves, and left.

At home, I ate whatever mom or dad made for dinner, even if I didn't like it (Tuna Helper Tetrazzini). By the time I went to college I was so sick of steamed broccoli I didn't eat it for several months, until I came home for a weekend and was craving vegetables.  Did I ever complain... I wouldn't have thought about it.

When did people start making 2-3 meals every night to cater to each family member's palate?  Over the years even my Grandma fell into this trap.  She used to babysit my cousins and I on Mondays. Lunch was always: Pringles, gherkin pickles, carrot sticks + veggie dip, grapes, and Oscar Meyer braunschweiger sandwiches on white wonder bread (we had the option of mustard or no-mustard).  Some days we got fudgesicles or chips-ahoy cookies. I'm not saying it was the healthiest meal, but it's what was served, none of us knew any better to ask for something different.  As time went on, she baby-sat great-grand-children, and they had options!!!  She would make 3 different kinds of sandwiches, and offer different sides depending upon each kids preferences. Two different kinds of pickles, because one kid didn't like one, and the other didn't like the first option.

I realize it's hard enough for an adult to make changes in their diet, and that kids and spouses are not always interested in trying to eat better.  Many clients are frequently concerned about the way their loved ones eat, and complain that their kids eat terrible, their husband is a sugar-aholic and continues to buy crappy food despite her asking him not to. In these times I encourage these women to do the best they can.  Focus on themselves first when it comes to diet changes, not the entire family.  She needs to eat a balanced breakfast with protein, fat, and veggies.  However, she needs to stop worrying about the kids eating cereal.  Perhaps she could buy them a better quality cereal, one without HFCS or hydrogenated oils.  And have them pour on organic 2% or whole milk so they get a little fat at their breakfast instead of just carbs.

Dinner should be non-negotiable.  If that's not the routine right now, find ways to work in the family favorites 1-2x week, while presenting real food meals the rest of the week.  Or find ways of making family favorites into a more balanced meal.  Take tacos for example: Instead of having tacos and chips for a carb overload, let the rest of the family have their tortillas, while you make a taco salad, and limit your tortilla chips to 5-7.  Maybe Friday is always pizza night.  Turn it into a family activity and make the pizza at home so you get to control the ingredients and then serve raw veggies with dip as a side.

As for the cookies, chips, crackers.... maybe your family isn't ready to have them banned from the house. That usually ends in mom-mutany. Similar to the cereal, talk with your family about making "better" choices.  If you don't have time to bake your own cookies using real butter, make sure to buy ones that don't contain trans fats, artificial flavors, and strange preservatives.  Get rid of artificial colors, these are toxic to our brains.  Replace cheeze-its with these crackers by Late July.  Or try these options to replace some of your family's processed and toxic foods:
Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Peanut Butter
Granola Bars

If you start introducing real foods when your children are toddlers, they will grow up preferring those.  In fact, when faced with fake-foods they will probably choose to not eat them.  Actually, several of my co-workers have taught their kids that Ronald McDonald serves food that makes people sick.  That made for an interesting afternoon when Mr. McDonald showed up at an elementary school giving out burgers for lunch.

It takes time and practice, but your life and health are worth it.  So is your family's.  Oreos and Gatorade are not healthy snacks, but a strawberry smoothie or beef jerky and nuts will keep your kids powered up between school, sports, and music lessons.

Maybe you are struggling with picky eaters, and think I'm nuts for suggesting you swap out your kids daily waffles smothered in Aunt Jemima for eggs and a side of berries.  Maybe in the past your family  put up too much of a fight when you tried to increase their veggies at dinner, so you went back to frozen french fries.  Ask yourself, how important is your family's health?  You don't have to make changes overnight, start slowly. In her book, French Kids Eat Everything, Karen LeBillion describes how she was able to transition/transform her two picky eaters into adventurous real-food eaters.  You are the parent. You decide what goes into your grocery cart, you decide what comes into the house.  Not your kids. We don't allow people to start smoking until the age of 18 because of the increased risk for cardiovascular disease, lung disease, brain damage, and cancer.  Why would you let them dictate that their diet include foods that do the same thing when they are 7?

Before I get a bunch of angry messages and questions about my personal life here's my disclaimer: I do not have kids, but I probably will some day. I will not give in to my kids every whim; mine certainly never did.  I am not talking about serving and eating the perfect diet (whatever that is).  However, I will set boundaries, and I will follow them.  And every once in a while I will probably break my own rules. We know that kids learn behaviors and habits from their parents.  If you don't want to be a short order cook, and you don't want your kids eating nothing but chicken nuggets, don't start the habit.  If that is their/your current habit, find small ways to begin changing it.
It's ok to eat pizza, just not every day.
So with that... I'm stepping off my box.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Skillets and Pancakes

During the summer of 2013 I bought a new non-toxic, non-stick skillet by Green Pan.  This pan was pretty remarkable, and very non-stick for at least the first 8 months.  But with daily use it started to deteriorate.  Add to that a trip to the North Shore where I cooked with it over an open fire, it's really started to lose it's slickness. With a Christmas Amazon gift card I set my sights on a new skillet.  I didn't want to purchase another Green Pan knowing how much we use it, I wanted something that would last longer than 8 months.  This is a mindset that continues to pop up for me a lot recently; the desire to spend more on a high quality product, but have it for a really long time.  After bouncing back and forth between cast iron, some other brands of ceramic coated pans, and stainless steel, I settled on a hard-anodized aluminum 9.5" fry pan by Le-Creuset.  Some people will be aghast at the fact that I'm cooking on aluminum since studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's disease sometimes have plaques in their brain containing aluminum.  I'm not worried.  hard-anodized aluminum does not chip and flake, or give off toxic fumes like teflon.  As long as you follow the cooking and washing guidelines, this type of cook wear will last almost a lifetime, and will not leach aluminum into your food.  So far we've cooked mostly eggs in it, and just as we had hoped...THEY DON'T STICK!  Even though it's non-stick you can get a little browning on vegetables and meats as long as you don't put too much oil in it.  Not that you need to.  My over-easy eggs are so easy to flip, no more ripping the bottom and having my luscious yolk spill onto the hot surface.

Eggs over sauteed kale + Pumpkin Pancakes
I've been making lots of Paleo Plantain Pancakes for Ryan and I since discovering Sara Ballantyne's recipe.  So many gluten free/paleo recipes can be disappointing, but this one tastes almost exactly like a real pancake, and has the right texture too.  They have replaced my highly processed GF toast, and are my new favorite afterwork snack.  Coming home at 8:30pm with dinner at 4pm, can lead to some seriously weird and not always healthy late night snacking habits.  Chocolate and Almond Butter by the spoon-full anyone?  Keeping these pancakes in the freezer means I can easily come home, heat up a couple, top with coconut butter or almond butter and then get myself ready for bed.  If you cant find any plantains, they can be easily replace with pumpkin or banana.  *Note, that for people following a low carb diet, pumpkin would be a more appropriate choice.

1/6 of the recipe
11g fat, 9g saturated
23g carb *(6g if made with pumpkin)
2g fiber
3g protein