Saturday, September 14, 2013

Paleo Stuffed Peppers

My ideal Friday night would be having some friends over for dinner and board games. Sounds pretty awesome right? But paleo entertaining can be challenging. I’ve turned many a skeptic around with some delicious paleo dinner party worthy meals.
One of my fondest memories from growing up was coming home from middle school to my dad sitting at the kitchen table preparing a mixture for stuffed peppers. It was special to have him home early and a great surprise that he was making the family dinner. I remember sitting at the table with him, watching all the care and love he put into making our family’s meal.  I doubt he remembers this afternoon, but it’s a memory I cherish. Isn’t it funny how the smallest events can have the biggest impact on us?
Even though I can’t remember, if I know my Dad, his peppers were stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese and other tasty, but not at all paleo, items.
My version, just as delicious, and completely paleo... but your friends and family would never know!

Paleo Stuffed Peppers

What you need
  • Bell Peppers 3-4, I used yellow
  • Sweet Italian Sausage, ground
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • Fresh basil
  • Tomato sauce (your favorite kind)
  • 2 tablespoons egg substitute or 1 whole egg beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
First put a big pot of water on the stove to boil and preheat your oven to  375 degrees. Then cut the tops off your peppers and clean the seeds from the inside.  If your water isn’t boiling by now, you can start to cook the mushrooms, onions and garlic. When the water is ready, pop the peppers in for about 5 minutes to soften them. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, remove your veggies from the heat and set aside, start to brown your ground sausage. When the sausage is just about done, add your veggies back in and add the spinach. 

Allow the spinach to wilt before you stir in the tomato sauce and egg substitute. The key ingredient comes next! Chiffon (I just like to say that, but in less fancy terms chop up) the fresh basil. Add most of the basil to your filling but leave a little for topping the peppers.

Put the filling into the peppers. Spoon a little tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with the left over basil. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

What you get
Bell peppers are ubiquitous and really versatile. They are full of antioxidants which help strengthen the immune system and may fight cancer. They also have carotenoids. Yup, the same stuff as in carrots, so they are good for your vision! In fact, yellow peppers, which I suggest for this recipe, have lutein and zeaxathin which help protect eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration. Peppers are also a good source of fiber. And put down that orange juice! One bell pepper may have up to three times the daily requirement of Vitamin C!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Drink your vegetables!

I had an AMAZING time at home in Michigan. Look at these views from canoeing the Huron River.

However, back to Chicago and in dire need of a wellness tune up. I barely slept at home; I prioritized catching up with family and friends and don’t regret one minute of it. I also indulged with some incredible meals. 

Started the day with a foggy and humid run… Seriously, Chicago? 100 degrees and I feel like I’m swimming when I step out the door.

The streets are pretty quiet at 5:30am

I'm still obsessed with my neon Newton's
And a delicious kale smoothie! 

“Green” smoothies are super popular. If you can drink your veggies and squeeze in an extra serving, why the heck not?! But they are completely off-putting to me for just that reason, most are literally green.  This one isn’t. It's a pretty pinky-purple and it kept me full and energized until lunch!

DISCLAIMER: I blend coffee into my smoothies, not milk, I know I have an addiction.
Here is the recipe without the coffee, you can really use any liquid you want. Or only dirty one cup in the morning and throw your coffee in the blender too!

"Green" Smoothie

What you need:
  • Kale, deveined and torn into pieces (Or if you want a less obvious leafy taste, use spinach! It will be more green in color, but less "green" in taste)
  • 1 banana (frozen for a creamier texture)
  • 1/3 cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup Frozen peach slices
  • Liquid (like I said, I usually use coffee, but almond milk is great too)
  • Vanilla protein powder (HEADS UP whey protein is not technically paleo)
Put it all in the blender and let it do it's job! Don't be a stickler for measuring anything. You can add more or less liquid to get the consistency you like. Also play with the fresh vs frozen fruits until you get a texture that is right for you! 

All in!
Pinky purple in color, NOT green!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


It was a SUPER busy week, so just a quick note and a must-share recipe.

Remember when I told you Cauliflower would change your life. I wasn’t kidding.
mmm delicious

In college, my housemates and I went through a phase where we ate burritos every night. A variety of kinds – homemade, taco bell (I cringed when I typed that), BIG TEN BURRITO (just thinking about their salsa makes me nostalgic), we loved our Mexican food. My boyfriend at the time and I even hosted taco nights. Everyone brought their favorite topping and we supplied the shells and the meat. It was a great time! But, alas, most Mexican dishes are not quite paleo-friendly. The cheese, the flour, the deliciousness.

I wanted to share a picture of my incredible best friends and college housemates with you all. But, it was exceptionally challenging to find one of us where we aren’t in some sort of costume…oh, college.  But here is graduation. Over five years ago. Man, time flies.
University of Michigan Class of 2008. Holla!

Anyway! This cauliflower tortilla recipe is so good that, if you have a food processor and an oven, I promise you, you won’t even miss the flour! Or the corn if that’s your preference (mine too).  

One head of cauliflower made 8 tortillas for me. I used them as intended and made yummy lime-tequila fajitas. Then they became flat bread for sandwiches and crust for mini pizzas throughout the week! I just kept them in the fridge. Might not be a bad idea to always have some on hand!

Cauliflower Tortillas

What you need:
  • Cauliflower 
  • 2 eggs, or equivalent of egg substitute 
  • Salt, pepper
  • Seasoning, a little bit of garlic keeps them versatile but red pepper flakes were delicious to give them a kick for the fajitas! Be creative!
Preheat that oven! 375 degrees. Nailed it! 

Remember how to rice Cauliflower? Chop it up (florets only) and pulse it in your food processor until it looks like small grains of rice. I'd say the smaller the better.

Then put it in a microwave safe bowl and cook the "rice" for 3-6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. There is no magic to knowing when it's done, it should be sort of translucent. IT IS GOING TO BE HOT. BE CAREFUL! Try to remove the excess water from your "rice". I squeezed mine in paper towel, but if you are fancy, cheesecloth would probably work best. Add your eggs and your spices, if desired. Mix well. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (I also used a little nonstick spray). Shape the mixture into even circles about 1/2 inch thick throughout. Mine were about 6 inches in diameter and that worked well. The mixture may be a little runny, but it should definitely hold it's shape without spreading. 

Bake 10 minutes. Take them out, flip them over, and bake for 10 more minutes. Allow the tortillas to cool on a wire rack while you heat just a little bit of oil in a frying pan. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! It brings out the flavor and strengthens the tortilla. Place them one at a time face down in the pan and press down the edges gently, wait until they are browned to your liking. Flip, repeat and eat!    

What you get:
A new obsession with cauliflower, if I didn't hook you already using it as a pizza dough substitute! If you like this recipe, check that one out too! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013


“Cardio is kind of like cilantro: you either love it or hate it.”

 - Women’s Health (the September issue, go read it!)

1. I have not granted a second date to a man on the basis of him not liking cilantro (well, maybe that was just my excuse but...) 

2. If you love neither cilantro nor cardio…Perhaps you came upon this blog by mistake? They are two of my favorite things! That would be blasphemy!

In fact, I feel so comfortable with cardio that I can kill a zumba class, run a 10k or sprint in spin without any complaints.  I’m even fan of the mixed cardio-weights classes.  Usually, these classes are 98% women and welcome all levels of fitness. But the boot camp and serious weight lifting group exercise classes intimidate me. Men in their triathlon t-shirts, lifting weights heavier than my body? Women doing box jumps four feet off the ground? Holy cow! How could I ever keep up?

Well, this past Friday, I overcame my in-gym-idation and headed to Weekend Warrior. And yes, it was just as awful as the name implies. I have never ran so many sets of stairs in my life, and certainly have never lifted such a heavy barbell. But, dripping sweat and gasping for air, I completed the class! I felt AWESOME, because I overcame my fear and my fellow gym-goers were super supportive.  

Point beinggo take that class! Few things bond people together like overcoming shared challenges. And any teacher worth their salt will include everyone, making modifications for beginners and challenges for those who are more advanced.  Not only are you building your muscles, you’re building your confidence. You can do it!

And to reward myself for kicking butt and taking names, I made this incredible, cilantro filled salad for dinner. Seriously, one of the best things I have ever made! Nom nom.  

Mmm cilantro
Awesome summer colors!
Lime Cilantro Shrimp Salad
adapted from about a bajillion different ceviche recipes 

What you need:

  • 1 lb shrimp (mine were pre-cooked, frozen and defrosted)
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 to a whole jalapeno, chopped with seeds removed (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 T cilantro, chopped, with extra for garnish
  • Pepper
  • Sea salt
Combine the olive oil, lime juice and onion together in a large bowl. Let this sit 5-10 minutes (while you chop everything else) to cut the bite of the onion. Prep all your other ingredients. Here it is...super easy...put them in the bowl. Mix, mix, mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with extra cilantro. Impress your guests...or yourself. I felt pretty darn special eating this!

Make sure the tails are removed, we don't want that kinda crunch
I love me some jalapeno and lime
Mix, mix, mix

What you get:

Avocados are a super food and recently, have been getting a lot of press for their health benefits. They contain "good fats" or monounsaturated fat, which can help to lower your bad cholesterol. Avocado also has fiber to help keep you full and omega-3s! They are basically a multivitamin as well with vitamin C, potassium, two different B vitamins and folate. There is actually more potassium in an avocado than a banana! Maybe they should start handing them out after races... Mmm post-race guac...

And a quick note on shrimp - delicious, full of the antioxidant selenium, low calorie, with choline for brain health! However, watch your shrimp intake if you have high cholesterol, everything in moderation, but shrimp do have a pretty high cholesterol content. 

Eat up! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Modified Paleo and Cookies. Yes to cookies!

We are going to ignore the length of time beneath blog posts. Okay? Glad we agree.

I have been inundated with Paleo information and opinions in the past few months. An attending (medicine word for boss) tried to convince me Paleo meant only raw foods, friends who picked up the whole30/whole9, the momma trying to cut back on processed foods, and most recently, a Grand Rounds (doctor speak for very serious, data-driven, presentation) on Crossfit and the Paleo diet.

I've been asked my opinion on Paleo by friends, family, patients, and even colleagues. When I tell them I eat 80% Paleo, I get a lot of confused looks. 

My modified Paleo diet means:

- I substitute or remove grains and cheeses whenever I can
- Lots of fruits and veggies
- Lean means and fish (cooked, let's be real)
- Limited non-natural carbs (fruit has carbs, veggies do too, Paleo is NOT a low carb diet) 
- I don't completely cut out dairy. Vitamin D and calcium are super important to bone health. Sure, you can get them through Paleo friendly foods like almond milk, but I love greek yogurt. It is an awesome substitution in baking and cooking and I couldn't give it up.

Most importantly:
- Everything in moderation, for me that means one full day off a week or maybe one meal off a few times a week, or maybe a vacation when I don't eat Paleo at all! 

And in truth, I feel SO much better when I'm eating this way. I'm energized, I get fewer side-stitches when I run, I sleep better and have fewer headaches!

But, I also love to bake. And the immediate question I'm asked is how do you eat Paleo and make delicious baked goods!? Shouldn't you practice what you preach? A cookie or cupcake without flour?! Gross!!!

I respond by saying, I eat what I want when I want. I know that eating mostly Paleo makes my body happy. But sometimes, a delicious, cream cheese frosted cupcake, makes me happy! In fact, just typing that makes me want one. BUT I will also prove that Paleo baking is delicious by bringing them THESE AMAZING COOKIES! 

Fresh out of the oven

I couldn't wait to try one until I was done taking pictures...

Whoops, a bigger bite

Pale-OH-MY-GOODNESS-these-are-awesome chocolate chip cookies

adapted from PaleOMG, a blog you should really check out if you want to go gung-ho paleo

What you need:

  • 1 cup Almond butter 
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (mine was double strength)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) of salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate or cocoa nibs you want to be serious about the paleo business)
My new mixer! It cranks up and down. Awesome!

I ate some dough, of course...yum!

Rolling and dropping the dough

Final delicious product

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate chips together. It's easiest in a mixer, but your biceps work well too! If you don't have almond butter on hand, these can be made with peanut butter, but then I would use raw honey instead of maple syrup, just based on my favorite flavor combinations. Fold in the chocolate chips. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Parchment paper was created by the Baking Gods to make your life (and clean up) easier.  Drop your cookies on the sheet, leaving lots of space between them so they don't spread together. The dough will be VERY sticky. Don't be alarmed. Bake 18-20 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully, over baking will alter the texture. Let cool and enjoy!

What you get:

A yummy, soft, Paleo chocolate chip cookie! You won't even miss the flour! Along with being delicious, these cookies provide more protein than your average baked good, thanks to the nut butter. Cinnamon can decrease inflammation and chocolate has a multitude of health benefits! It can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and fight UV damage with antioxidants. It may even have anti-clotting properties to help keep your blood flowing! And a cookie is bad day cure all! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Asian Broccoli Slaw

I just realized it has been an entire MONTH without a blog post. And what a month it has been! Everything has been turned upside down and right side up and upside down again! 

You can call the changes Spring Fever. But I'd prefer to say that Spring symbolizes growth and a fresh start. Your attitude in life is half the battle.

So I'm ready Spring, let's go! 

A little Spring inspiration for you.

Spring also marks the return of local produce and farmer's markets! Hooray! But, so far, Chicago has been really rainy and I've been stuck inside working ER shifts with no break and studying for my boards (April 22nd can't come soon enough). 

So recently it's been imperative that food be fast and filling. This recipe took 5 minutes (minus cooking the protein), it has tons of fiber to keep you full, tons of vitamins and you can pack it up for a quick meal at work! It makes a upwards of 5 servings and tastes even better the next day. 

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Hands on time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes (plus cooking of whatever protein you choose)

What you need:
  • 1 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 package sugar snap peas (I cut mine in half, just a preference)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Asian Dressing (I'm a fan of Newman's Own Light Sesame Ginger) 
  • 8 ounces protein (I used salmon since I had some defrosting that I had forgotten about, but chicken or tofu would be great too)
  • 1 package shredded red cabbage
  • 2/3 cup crunchy chow mein noodles
Mix everything together in a giant bowl. Top with crunchy noodles. DONE! ENJOY!

Fast Salmon: 450 degrees, slices of lemon, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper, 15 minutes!

The goods

Crunchy and colorful

Final Product

What you get:
An easy, tasty salad that's great as a main course, but could be delicious without the protein as a side, or even on top of a turkey or salmon burger!

Also, you get all the benefits of broccoli without that icky broccoli taste. I've never liked the florets and would only eat the stalks, which is a waste. This solves that problem! Broccoli has a ton of vitamin C and antioxidants that help to support your immune system and connective tissue. A serving of broccoli also has about as much calcium as half a glass of milk! Pretty good for a vegetable! Broccoli also has protein and fiber! Basically - it's a food pyramid in itself! AND it is much more nutritious and filling for the base of a salad than plain old iceberg lettuce. Eat up!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Guinness Bread and St. Patrick's Day!

March signals the "you better hurry up because summer is right around the corner, so get to the gym" frenzy! Swimsuit season is almost upon us!

Soon I won't be hiding behind baggy scrubs at work and snuggle-worthy sweat pants at home. And it is my goal to finally make it to the beach this summer. I haven't swam in Lake Michigan yet and I've lived in Chicago almost a year! Wow, time flies! 

To jump start my shape up, and my wake up (see what I did there? word play), when the alarm goes off (5:30am sharp) every morning, I've been doing this awesome 10 minute body-weight workout. In addition to my regular post-work-stress-relieving gym time, I will be back in summer shape in no time!

Supplement your regular workouts or do it on it's own. Just do it!

It is also the most wonderful time of the year! Some say Christmas...

I say St. Patrick's Day!

I look forward to this day all year! Wearing green, being ridiculous and celebrating the day of my people! 

I made monkey bread for brunch last year! Not. Healthy.

St. Patty's in the D! On a people mover adventure!
Looking for something a little more authentic and surprisingly healthy to bring to your St. Patty's get together? 

Have a can of left over Guinness from some pre-St. Patty's festivities? (Wait. What's leftover Guinness?)

Guinness Bread

Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1.5 hours
What you need:
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (or white)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 12 oz Guinness
  • 1 T honey
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients. If you're using the Guinness cans, don't use the whole thing! They are almost 15 ounces! Take a sip!

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix, mix, mix. Grease an 8x8 baking pan and pour the batter into it.

Sprinkle with some leftover oats. Bake for 20 minutes at 425, turn the oven down to 400 and bake another 20 minutes. Now turn off the oven. Open the door a smidge and let the bread sit in the oven ANOTHER 20 minutes.

Let cool completely and enjoy! 

Have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day!