If all the fall apple picking leaves you with more apples than you know what to do with,
put them to use with this easy, yet decadent homemade chunky applesauce. Low in sugar, but big on flavor with a hint of sweetness, you can eat it by itself, use it to top your oatmeal (or pancakes!) or enjoy with a dollop of your favorite whipped topping. (One friend suggested using it as apple pie filling because it was so tasty!) The secret ingredients are a Granny Smith apple and … Chinese Five Spice, a blend of cinnamon, anise, fennel, cloves, and <gasp> pepper!
However you choose to indulge, you can do it without the guilt with this one!
A variety of 5-6 apples, including one Granny Smith (for tang)
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 Tbl. Chinese five spice
3 Tbl. date sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
Peel the apples.
Core, then coarsely chop.
Place all the ingredients into a pot on the stove on medium heat, cover and cook until soft (about 25 minutes).
Stir occasionally to ensure the applesauce doesn’t get too hot or stick to the bottom; if it sticks, add a little more water and stir.
If you want a smoother consistency, put into a food processor or blender after it cools and blend until you reach your desired consistency. Make sure the applesauce has cooled though!
There’s something about Spring that revives enthusiasm for healthier habits, particularly around eating for vibrant, radiant health!
The sun-filled days are longer. Sundresses beckon. Bikini season is almost upon us, and of course, feeling good is important regardless of the time of year (ok, ok, bikini season is a mild motivator ;))! Like any season, though, we still only have so many hours in a day, and the biggest challenge may be eating right during the week when both time and energy wane.
The key? Keeping a well-stocked kitchen.
I have a standard grocery list of the basics that I get almost every trip, which I’d like to share with you below. Feel free to use it as a basis for creating your own list of basics that will make eating clean a quick and easy no-brainer! Although I mention organic for a few of the items, do what your budget will allow. Stressing over finances while in the frozen food section isn’t healthy for anybody, so take this list as a thought-starter, and make it your own. One helpful hint, though, is to stop on the perimeter of the grocery store for the healthiest items, with a few exceptions being the frozen food aisle for frozen fruits and veggies (which are just as healthy and nutrient-rich as fresh), and the natural food section (which, if you shop at my grocery store, is in the middle of everything – there goes the perimeter idea!) However you shop, enjoy the experience!
The SnR Basic Grocery List
I use these as dessert, in smoothies and in cereal. I even like snacking on the frozen kind. Vary your colors to maximize the health benefits. An easy way to do this is by buying what’s on sale each week. Stores often rotate their promotions. Another hot tip: buy organic at Costco or Sam’s. You can get a huge bag at a great price.
Organic Apples + Pears.
I love to snack, and when you eat as many salads as I do, you need some variety. Apples and pears satisfy both! Whether sliced with a nut/seed butter, baked as dessert, chopped and dropped into a salad, or eaten as-is, they make flavorful, crunchy additions to a meal for a surprise sweetness without too much sugar. If you’re embracing ketogenic eating or on a low-glycemic diet, tread carefully with these and the berries, too. For other tips on which fruits and veggies to buy organic, check out The Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
A Variety of Greens.
My faves are organic spinach + baby kale blends and organic romaine. I’ll mix all of them together for a snazzy salad, or drop the spinach/kale blend into the mixer to add some superfood punch to a smoothie. Sautéed spinach and kale also add a lot to a rice bowl or taco night. (And are easy to sneak in if you have veggie-averse family members.)
Brown Rice + other Whole Grains.
Where to begin! I LOVE brown rice. I eat it – and its cousins, Red, Black and Green – almost every day. From rice bowls for lunch or dinner to rice pudding for breakfast, I rely heavily on this complex carb. It’s super versatile, and you can cook a lot of it on Sunday and have a base for meals throughout the week. Mix in different sauces or salsa’s, or toss with a scrambled egg and leftover veggies, and you’ve got yourself a slew of dishes with only a little upfront effort.
In the Varsity League of meal basics, sweet potatoes are definitely in my starting line-up. They can be a fun add-on as a hash to any dish, or roasted and used as a taco shell or base for taco salads. I’ve even been known to bake one in the microwave and eat it like an apple as my mid-morning snack. These tubers are starch, though, so if you’re on a ketogenic or low-Glycemic diet, incorporate these carefully.
Other Roast-Worthy Veggies.
Roasted veggies are also a must-have for me. I love raw and sautéed, too; there is just something about roasted veggies that I can’t seem to get enough of! They are so easy and can be a great snack, side item, or main course as a base for veggie or rice bowls. My fave combo are onions, garlic (yes, garlic!), zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli. Roasting in the oven takes about 20 minutes and adds texture and color to any salad or rice bowl! The leftovers can be used in a veggie scramble the next morning or even simply as an afternoon nosh.
Clean Protein Options.
Wherever you fall on the meat-eating scale, getting enough protein – whether animal- or plant-based – is key. I’m a pescatarian for the most part, so the majority of my protein comes from fish, eggs, and plant-based options. With any protein source, though, the key is buying the best quality you can. There are a lot of hidden ick-factors in non-organic, non-grass-fed beef, dairy, chicken and eggs, so it’s worth the splurge to trade-up to better quality.
Since I base so much of my diet on fish, I tend to buy frozen fish, like Mahi, Ahi Tuna, Salmon and Cod, so I can freeze it and have options without making a trip to the grocery store. I may even mix it up and use shrimp or scallops! I love using the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch app to find the most sustainable sources.
Frozen fish is easy to defrost by moving them from the freezer to the fridge when you leave for work and sautéing or broiling for an easy dinner. Make leftovers your breakfast or lunch the next day, and you’ve saved yourself the time and energy of preparing another meal!
My faves are olive oil, avocados, and tahini. Those of you with few restrictions in
your diet can also enjoy a variety of raw nuts in whole grain cereal, dropped into yogurt, added into salads, or as part of your banana bread. Enjoy fat in your diet! It’s key for brain and body vibrance and overall well-being and longevity!
I aim for 1-2 tablespoons with every meal, which is the right portion for me to feel satiated, curb sugar cravings, and see benefits to my skin. Experiment and see what works for you!
oh my goodness, spices. I LOVE them! From basil to oregano to garlic to turmeric to cinnamon to cayenne to cardamom to black pepper, I heart spices! They are an easy way to mix up a rice dish or filet to give you a variety of epicurean experiences without too much extra work. Whether fresh or dried, sprinkle it in, and you’re good to go! (Tip: If you’re using older dried spices, you’ll need about double the quantity to equal the flavor of the fresh.)
photo cred: herbalismroots.com
Herbs and spices add pizzazz and variety!
Here’s the simplified list for your printing convenience; choose the items you’d like to try, and the next visit, mix in others!
SnR Basic Grocery List
Apples + pears
Spinach +/or kale
Whatever else you like!
Oils + Butters
Frozen fish (use your app to check which are best)
Organic, grass-fed, beef, chicken, etc
As always, we love hearing your feedback and what works for you (or doesn’t)! Drop us a line below with your stories and tips!
‘Tis the season for spring breaks, weekend getaways & music festivals, and you know what that means? Road Trips!
But, for all their allure and adventure, they can also throw a wrench in our healthy habits. How easy it is to fall off the wagon when we are tempted to grab Fritos and Coca-Cola for “lunch” at the BP when stopping for gas, or chugging a Red Bull to stay alert for the five hour drive ahead.
We know we really should be making better choices, like walking away from the pre-packaged honey bun beckoning us in all its cellophaned glory, but we are ramped up from the anticipation of reaching our final destination, and we just want to get there already! We have adopted the vacation mindset and a spirit of urgency and indulgence! Besides, could there really be healthier choices lurking just off the interstate?
Indeed, you hungry traveler, there are!
Here are some secrets to help keep you on track no matter where the road takes you:
If you know you’ll be hungry before you’ll need a pit stop, pack healthy snacks & drinks from home. If your adventure includes lots of sightseeing or rushing from party to party, bring enough to last for the trip, if space allows.
Here’s an example: On a recent trip to Charleston (5 1/2 hours), I brought along two liters of water, baby carrots, a small tub of hummus and a medium-sixed (reusable) plastic container full of chopped romaine
lettuce leaves and leftover fresh basil rolls & sushi from dinner the night before. It was not only easy to eat in the car, but it kept me from binging on french fries or potato chips when I finally did stop. Since I had the water, I didn’t need to buy anything on the road either and could much more easily walk past the soda fridge or my old childhood favorite, the make-your-own-concoction fountain drink machine! (What is it about those whacky flavors that just spelled F-U-N!? …ah, memories. <sigh>)
Another easy-peasy hint along these lines: Fill snack size ziplock bags or a small container with your usual go-to’s, like veggie or apple slices, pretzels, hummus or nut butter, trail mix, lean meats or smoked fish, or whatever your heart desires. You can even make some lettuce wraps or sandwiches!
Scout out the healthy(ish) options in Convenience Stores
Worst case scenario, you (your kids, your S.O., your travel mates, your dog) have eaten all your finely prepared snacks, and popping into a grocery store to refuel with carrot sticks and hummus just isn’t a viable option. Don’t fret! In most gas stations, sunflower seeds and a variety of nuts are easily found, and some stop-n-go’s even have apples and bananas at the checkout. If the fresh fruit looks a little iffy, try to find some dried apricots or other trail mix with dried fruit, if you’re hankering for some sweet with your salty. As always, check the ingredient list for any additives or unrecognizable ingredients (i.e. sugar additives or you can’t pronounce them) before buying.
For even better luck with a wider array of choices, try to choose a gas station in a more populated/commercialized area, particularly a Pilot if you can find one. Added bonus with Pilot: they are usually well-lit, the bathrooms are clean, and the gas competitively priced!
Steer Clear of Sugar and Soft Drinks Ah, yes, sugar. Candy and sweets, though appealing and a throwback to our childhood jaunts in the family station wagon (Circus Peanuts, anyone?), will mess with your blood sugar, leaving you drowsyand craving more sugar later in your trip – both of which are quite inconvenient for the traveler on a mission to her final destination! Instead, count on your seeds and nuts to keep your blood sugar stable with their protein/fat content, and rely more heavily on water than on sugary, caffeine-laden colas to keep your thirst at bay. If you’re craving the carbonation, get a bottle of club soda. For those who travel with your own Stevia, put a few drops (or one of the individual packets) into the bottle, and you’ve just made your own all natural, refreshing soda without any of the guilt or garbage!
Let’s be honest, though, sometimes, we just need a jolt, and when the energy slump really hits you, particularly if you’re driving through the night, you really do have to have a pick-me-up. Pick up a coffee or hot tea with the least amount of additives.
Wherever your travels take you, Ramble On, Rosebuds, and enjoy your adventures!