Product Review: Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens

Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens in Vanilla - nutritional benefits, low sugar, high protein, vegan, green powders, organic

A key to the success of a healthy lifestyle is making meals and concocting snacks that are tasty and as packed with nutrients as you possible. Making your recipes work for you means you’re nourishing your body and mind without depleting your precious physical and emotional energy. One way to do this is to through smoothies, which is why you see the onslaught of smoothie recipes on this site and in our social feed.

As a nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free practice, we are always on the hunt for vegan protein without nuts or soy that can be integrated into a variety of meals and snacks, like – you guessed it – smoothies!

A veteran dilettante of vegan protein powders, we were thrilled to see the repackaged and re-formulated Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens during a foray of shopping to restock our own inventory!

Raw Protein & Greens Powder? Here’s the scoop #punintended 🙂

  • HIGH PROTEIN: 20 grams of raw organic plant protein from Organic Peas and Sprouted Organic Grains, Seeds and Legumes plus 6 organic greens and veggies
  • POST WORKOUT RECOVERY: Help your muscles recover with a clean nutritional shake powered by organic protein and nutrient-rich organic green energy
  • GREEN SUPERFOOD DRINK: This delicious vanilla protein powder is power-packed with green energy from raw, organic greens and green juices
  • PROTEIN POWDER WITH PROBIOTICS: Tasty, smooth protein shake with 1.5 billion CFU probiotics and 13 non-GMO enzymes for easy digestion
  • VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER: Organic, gluten free, vegan, dairy free, soy free, Informed Choice Certified (Trusted by Sport), non-GMO whole food protein

Our Take

The vanilla flavor is subtle and not too sweet. The smell and flavor is almost identical to the Garden of Life Raw Vegan Protein Powder we’ve grown to love with only a subtle earthy smell, attributed to the greens. The relatively high vegan protein content has additional benefits of sprouted greens and grains and is organic, as well, with low sugar (<1 gram). Even with the sprouted grains and legumes, this protein powder is gluten-free and gentle to digest for those with aversions to beans.

It’s a perfect add-in to protein pancakes or to a variety of smoothie flavors/recipes with its low glycemic index (you know how we’re off the sugar wagon!), added greens (like alfalfa, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrot and beet – yay!) and versatile vanilla flavor.

One last note: The probiotic content was not a strong selling point because we supplement gut flora with a high dose of probiotics via capsule. Because of the way we use protein powder, which includes smoothies as well as baked goods, the probiotic power is diminished significantly; even used in a smoothie, we can’t vouch for the healthy bacteria making it to the small intestine intact because we haven’t seen or performed the research. If you’re looking to increase your healthy gut flora through Garden of Life products, try probiotic capsules, like these, or explore fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, or low sugar kombucha.

Let us know how you get more from your smoothies with added greens and protein!

As always, wishing you a week of greens, grace and gluten-free goodness!

What the Health and the Keto Controversy

What the Health and the Keto Controversy - making sense of two very different lifestyles and how to make better diet and lifestyle choices

With the recent release of What the Health, aka “The Health Film That Health Organizations Don’t Want You To See,” healthy eating by way of veganism has experienced a rise in attention, specifically within certain social circles and demographics (Netflix is the primary viewing venue).

Friend groups and communities are atwitter over the science and positions explored in the film, and the conversations have incensed many due to the data revealed and what it means to their lifestyle choices or because of the confusion and frustration generated by trying to apply yet another batch of science and expert opinions to an already mixed bag of seemingly conflicting information in the world of health and wellness.

In this post, we explore two primary at-odds lifestyles and offer perspectives and guidance to empower you to follow the path that best suits you. 

First, What The Health!? and Veganism

Veganism, or the practice of eating only non-animal products, has, for years, been touted as a surefire way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and slow aging. In the Middle and Far East, for centuries, practicing veganism is common due to the moral, ethical, and spiritual pillar of the regions to “do no harm.”

Domestically, many celebrities, doctors and industrial leaders have emerged as vegans, and we, the viewing public, have observed the benefits of the vegan lifestyle as they unfolded in that individual’s life as documented through the lens of the camera, social media, USA Today, etc..

All indications point to veganism is The Way!

Here’s where it gets controversial.

Despite these incredible success stories that we’ve seen with our own eyes and the scientific findings cited by vocal vegans and What The Health, arguments that favor the veganism movement can be disproven by other science, research, medical and scientific journals and health experts.

Case in point, the ketogenic lifestyle.

Keto.

As we discussed earlier this month, is a diet globally recognized for centuries for its anti-aging, disease reversing, cancer preventing benefits (among other heroics). The foundation of the keto lifestyle includes a certain cadence of eating, which simulates fasting and subsequent benefits,  and a diet comprised of a high ratio of protein and fats and lower percentage of calories from carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet (SAD, an acronym that is both entertaining and accurate).

Modified keto, for example, may include a diet of 60-70% of calories derived from protein and fats (including saturated and unsaturated) with only 30% or less of calories derived from complex carbohydrates (i.e nothing processed and no sugar). Some keto’ers also shy away from grains, beans, soy, corn, etc., due to the high carbohydrate content and effect on blood sugar, which throws the individual out of a ketosis state, thus undoing the chemistry that yields the incredible benefits.

Protein and fat sources for many followers of the keto diet include animal products, yet, due to the individual’s unique metabolic make-up and how the individual metabolizes carbohydrates using insulin, many keto’ers base a large portion of the diet on plant-based eating, i.e. vegetable-heavy.

It’s Getting Hot in Here.

The conundrum we face are two very different diets, both of which tout health benefits. One is entirely animal-product free, and the other – in many cases – promotes the consumption of high-quality animal products.

You can see how these two dynamics are at odds with one another, and how the confusion and overwhelm accompanying the effort to make sense of them as a consumer can be significant!

Layer on top of any confusion the emotional charge we inject into our relationship with food and the deep ties to our identity that develop in relation to our food choices, lifestyle and the ethics, beliefs and mores therein, and you’ve got a hot button topic that triggers some internal moral dilemmas and very passionate discussions.

What’s Our Take?

As far as we’re concerned, any catalyst, be it a conversation, documentary, book, article, Ted Talk, etc. that activates an authentic, respectful conversation among communities and an inward assessment of one’s health, lifestyle and holistic wellness is a good thing.

Any proponent of a whole food, clean-eating, know-where-your-food-comes-from way of life? Also, a good thing.

Any wake-up call to ask deeper questions, fuel optimal wellness and make intentional, mindful choices? DEFINITELY a GREAT thing.

If you find yourself curious, or even enraged, by What The Health or Keto, and the science, ethics, or the arguments of each, then consider it your wake-up call.

Lean into this conversation vs. throwing in the towel. Casually explore various diets and lifestyles, and shift your mindset into thinking of it as a fun exploration. How you’ve eaten in the past may not be where you want to go in the future, and that doesn’t mean you’ve been fooled or failed! It means you now have different information you’re using to perhaps make different choices.

How to truly know what is best for YOU?

Some people’s constitution and metabolisms need higher levels of protein and fat and opt to include animal products as a manner to supplement those needs. Others have food allergies that preclude them from going all-in on a certain way of eating. Other people’s ethical beliefs trump all else, and they opt to forgo animal products or other food groups.

Every body is different, and therefore, every diet must be different, even if slightly, and that’s OK.

Select one of the diets or lifestyles that have caught your attention or that most closely aligns with you, and test it out for three to six months. Changes take time. Observe your energy levels, food cravings, blood work numbers, fit of your clothes, joint flexibility, mental clarity, emotional resilience and tolerance as indications that you’re on the right track or need to adjust your approach.

The Bottom Line

There is no one diet that – when followed identically across a population without some level of modification – is right for everyone.

Do what is best for you! Take what you can from the diets and lifestyles that you explore, apply them to yourself, observe the results over time and modify where needed. Speak kindly to yourself as you explore a new way of eating. Stay open to the experience and share what you observe with your friends and family; get them in on it, and support one another on your unique journeys to your best selves!

As always, we love hearing from you! Drop us a line to let us know which diet or lifestyle impassions you, how you found your way to better health and we’ll cheer you on! A rising tide lifts all ships, and our community is on the rise with you!

Wishing you a life of greens and grace and all the goodness!

The Cherry Cordial Smoothie | A Delicious Recipe!

gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan protein smoothie with cherries and coffee

Wow, this smoothie. It’s so good, it can easily be misconstrued for dessert! Particularly if you freeze it and serve it as such 🙂 Nothing like a delicious finish to a meal that also packs a punch of antioxidant goodness for your whole body! The coffee and sweetness of the cherries offer a richness to the flavor that is satiating and indulgent. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or even dessert!

Cherry Cordial Smoothie

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup frozen, pitted cherries
  • 1/4 banana
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 2 Tbl of avocado
  • Optional: cacao powder, maca, ground flax seeds
  • Toppings: chia seeds, granola, seeds, etc. Go nuts! #punny

Directions

  1. Blend.
  2. Serve.
  3. Enjoy!

Tell us about your favorite smoothie! Share your ideas below on how you improve your desserts to get a gentle sweetness without a sugar overload!

Wishing you a life of greens, grace and gluten-free goodness!

Trending Now: Keto Diet

tables cape of a meal that is considered keto, keto diet, disease prevention, diabetes management, eating for blood sugar, weight loss and weight management

Here’s a phrase you’ve likely heard lately, and if not, you will, and most likely while discussing the newest diet that your PureBarre and BLAST friends have started.

Keto.

Or Ketogenic Diet, to be accurate.

If you dabbled in the Atkins Diet in the 90’s and 00’s,  you are probably familiar with “ketosis,” or the phase of the Atkins Diet that indicated you were burning fat for fuel instead of sugar (as most of us do). Ketosis also came hand-in-hand with the less-attractive side effects of bad breath, mood swings and constipation.

Although similar to Atkins with its relatively higher ratios of protein and fat than the typical American intakes, the ketogenic diet, or keto diet, takes a cleaner, less-processed approach to protein and fat sources and has risen to the forefront of health due to the incredible health benefits that have been observed over decades. Some say over thousands of years, as fasting has been a religious practice since the dawn of time. (Those unpleasant side effects still hold, but only last for 1-2 weeks, say practitioners.)

Where did it come from?

Like many other diets, the keto diet was originally “prescribed” as a method to treat disease. Doctors used this method of eating to treat children with epilepsy in the 1920s. In its original form, the diet reduced carbohydrate intake to just 5% of caloric intake with 75% from fat and 20% from protein. Today, many people who subscribe to the keto way of eating alter the amounts & types of carbohydrates, protein and fat to include 30%/40%/30% respectively, all of which are clean, aka non-processed. For instance, bacon, though OK for Atkins, is not OK for keto.

So, what’s the big deal about keto?

As mentioned above, keto brings the body into ketosis where it burns fat for fuel instead of sugar, thus burning through the fat stores in the body, simulating fasting and eventually achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Weight loss and weight maintenance are not the big deal, though.

The reduction, elimination and prevention of cancer cells, recovery from diabetes, reversal of cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s symptoms and brain fog, and protection against heart disease risk factors are the biggest headliners of benefits of the keto diet.

Wait, it does what? How?

By reducing the amount of glucose in our blood, insulin is not released. Insulin strongly influences the chemistry and balance of our bodies. It tells cells to store as much energy as possible, which means if we don’t burn the sugar, we store it as fat. Fat storage is a result of too much sugar, not too a result of too much fat.

Therefore, by eliminating carbs (and eating the right amount of protein, which, in excess, also gets stored as fat) and by keeping the carbohydrate stores empty, we avoid a flood of insulin being released that we can’t fully utilize, which triggers insulin resistance, which contributes to diabetes AND premature aging, oxidative stress, chronic systemic inflammation, and other degenerative conditions and diseases.

The keto diet offers a solution by eating in such a way that the body is quasi-fasting, insulin is not released, inflammation and insulin resistance are avoided, and disease is prevented.

The Main Take-Away

The ketogenic diet is a proven method of eating that yields impressive results. Its focus on healthy fats and protein, much like the foundation of other blood-sugar regulating diets, allows the body to heal and repair itself, prevent disease and even reverse damage.

As with any diet, do your research, apply what feels right for you, and have check-up’s with your trusted medical professional to track the changes through blood work and biomarkers.

Additional reading:

Ketogenic Diet Boosts Fat Loss and + Fights Disease

Bulletproof Podcast: Dominic D’Agostino: Mastering Ketosis

New York Times’ Interview with Dr. Mark Hyman, “Making a Case for Eating Fat”

2 Keto Dudes – Ketogenic Lifestyle Podcast

We love to hear what works for you and how you’ve taken charge of your own health journey by actively participating and applying what makes sense to you. Tell us about it below!

Goes-With-Everything Peachiarry Compote

peach, chia, berry compote - perfect for dessert, breakfast, and dinner

The perfect complement to just about everything from chia seed pudding to biscuits, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, salmon, chicken is our Peachiarry Compote! This delicious blend of peaches, chia seeds, and raspberry (ahem, “peachiarry”) with just a tad of natural sweetener adds flavor and tang and rounds out any dinner, side dish or dessert. It’s low-glycemic-index, particularly if you use stevia or monk fruit, gluten-free, dairy-free, and freezable.

Our favorite part about this recipe? It takes just minutes in the kitchen to prepare, it’s full of superfoods, like chia seeds, and the leftovers taste even better than on the first day!

Try it at your next soiree!

Print

Peachiarry Compote

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cans sliced peaches in pear juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen organic raspberries
  • 1 tbsp natural sweetener of choice
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Drain most of the juice from the cans of peaches, leaving a few tablespoons of liquid.

  2. Stir peaches, juice, raspberries, chia seeds and sweetener together in a bowl.

  3. Let sit for ~10 minutes until chia seeds form a gel around them.

  4. Top dish or dessert, and serve!

We love hearing how you take these delicious, gluten-free recipes and make them your own! Tag us in your social post of your Peachiarry reveal, so we can see your creative and healthy choices!

S&R’s Roman Omelette

You may be familiar with a Tortilla Espanola, or Spanish Omelette, a delicious dish from Spain consisting of eggs, potatoes and onions and perhaps a few spices, like chives. Having studied Spanish cuisine and culture for years, I was immediately inspired to create a unique recipe for a similar dish with an Italian flair when things went a little awry while preparing Italian “Fried” Cauliflower. As with many creations throughout history, some of our best ideas come about when amidst a total mess 🙂

Instead of thinly sliced, layered potatoes, the S&R Roman Omelette includes slices of cauliflower, mixed with sliced onion and covered by an egg solution, chockfull of the herbs and spices to give it that Italian flavor we know and love.

Get a load of this! Not only is it rich with Vitamin C (move over, oranges!), a slew of B Vitamins (including Folate, important for women!), and Vitamin K (good for strong bones and preventing heart disease), but Cauliflower is also a powerhouse of phytochemicals and antioxidants. In fact,  the National Foundation for Cancer Research considers it a cancer-curbing cruciferous veggie! Sounds like eating a delicious dish full of this superfood is una buona idea to me, Paisan!

Print

Roman Omelette

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 head raw cauliflower
  • 1/2 one yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 dozen cage free eggs, or 2 cups egg whites

Italian herbs and spices to taste; we used:

  • 1 tsp parlsey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp course black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

  2. Spray or grease a large pie pan or casserole dish.

  3. Slice the head of cauliflower parallel to the base into half-inch steaks. If florets or pieces fall off, you can include them, too!

  4. Layer the cauliflower steaks and the onions in your pie pan or casserole dish.

  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the herbs.

  6. Once fully beaten, pour over the vegetables in the pie pan or casserole dish.

  7. Bake for ~45 minutes or until the eggs have finished cooking and the top is slightly golden.

  8. Enjoy!

a scene of sliced cauliflower on a cutting board
Sliced cauliflower steaks replace the sliced potatoes in this new-world take on an old-world staple.
a casserole dish filled with cauliflower
Layered cauliflower and onion slices.
the casserole dish with the egg mixture added to cover the cauliflower
Make sure to cover all the cauliflower with the egg mixture.
The casserole dish cooked next to a serving of the omelette with a greens salad topped with grapefruit
The Roman Omelette is lovely for brunch or dinner, and can be paired with a simple greens salad, sautéed spaghetti squash, or simply as-is! Buon Appetito!

Another delight about Italian living is the slow pace of mealtime and the enjoyment of the people with whom you share it, so share this dish (or recipe) with your loved ones, and enjoy each moment as you savor each bite!

 

 

‘The Struggle is Real’ Rice Pudding

Fast breakfast of Rice Pudding in a white porcelain mug on top of a dark wooden table with goji berries and a drizzle of date paste syrup.

Named accordingly, this healthy-carb’d, protein-packed, deliciously fast dish is the perfect breakfast for those mornings when you want to eat well, yet you have NO TIME to make anything that would resemble a breakfast of champions, if you eat breakfast at all! The struggle is real, right?

Well, first things first, put down that Pop Tart and Double Soy Unicorn Latte (not a good breakfast, girls!), then check this out.

Print

"The Struggle is Real" Rice Pudding

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups cooked rice (brown or black is the best!)
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond, soy, organic cow, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites or one egg
  • 1/8 tsp ghee, coconut oil or grass-fed butter

Optional Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbl raisins or Goji berries
  • Drizzle of honey, date syrup or brown sugar; go easy if your milk is sweetened

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe non-plastic bowl (plastic leeches chemicals into the food when cooking).

  2. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. If you prefer the stove, bring the ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

  3. Stir.

  4. If still runny, add another minute. Continue doing so until the eggs are cooked.

  5. Enjoy!

As you see, there are yummy & healthy options available to you in a pinch (particularly if you’ve been using your healthy shopping lists). All you need is a few minutes, and you’re good to go with a breakfast that will keep your brain sharp, your belly full and you at your peak. Now, THAT is a Breakfast of Champions!

As always, we love to hear your thoughts, your breakfast best practices, your tips, tricks and techniques – and so does our community! So please share them below, and if someone in your tribe, network, company needs a little morning overhaul, please feel free to share this post!

Pamplemousse Greens + Vinaigrette Fraiche, a Delicious Summer Staple

Salad of mixed greens topped with cucumber, avocado and grapefruit
Pamplemousse Greens

Spruce up your salad this summer with an unexpected twist and a deliciously fresh vinaigrette!

Pamplemousse Greens is one of my favorite summer salads! It’s simple, yet refreshing  and impresses every time. It makes a beautiful side salad for a poolside BBQ or as a stunning main dish with salmon. Although your friends may love it for it’s tang, sweetness and crunch, you’ll love it for its heavy-hitting nutrients like vitamin C, lycopene and a slew of other antioxidants and minerals that revive the skin, detox the bod and hydrate, too. It’s so good, you may not even want to share!

Is there any wonder this salad is one of the S&R summer staples!?

C’est magnifique!

Pamplemousse Greens Salad + Vinaigrette Fraiche

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 cups baby kale, spinach or both
  • 1.5 large grapefruit, peeled
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 grapefruit peeled
  • 1/4 c. chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1/4 c. EVOO
  • 2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbl. water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. If greens are not yet washed, rinse, then dry using a salad spinner or a dish towel.
  2. Divide the grapefruit into sections, then tear or slice into bite-sized pieces; you’ll use 1 1/2 of the grapefruit for the salad. The other half you’ll use in the dressing.
  3. Slice the avocado into moderately thin slices.
  4. Slice the cucumber thinly.
  5. Create a bed of the clean greens, then place the remaining ingredients on top.
  6. Tear the remaining grapefruit into bite-sized pieces, if you have not already, and squeeze all the juice into the a sealable jar or plastic container (Gladware, Tupperware, etc.). Leave the fruit sections intact and include them in the jar, if desired.
  7. Add all of the remaining ingredients.
  8. Tightly close the container to ensure no spillage
  9. SHAKE!
  10. Once all the  ingredients are fully combined, the Vinaigrette Fraiche dressing is done!
  11. Plate your salad and lightly pour the dressing over it, and enjoy!

     

    Vinaigrette Fraiche | Getting ready to shake it up!

     

    Pamplemousse Greens Bowl with salmon, brown rice and the delish Vinaigrette Fraiche

 

 

Five Healthy Holiday Tips

Collage of table scapes for Chinese New Year Feast, Hanukkah Feast, Christmas Feast and Kwanzaa Feast

 

We are officially in the swing of the Holiday Season!! This magical time of year brings so many opportunities for us to reconnect with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our traditions. (All of which are rich with complexity and emotion…and usually also desserts 🙂 )

Here are a few tips to help you not only survive the holidays, but also thrive during this time of year, so you can both take care of yourself and enjoy the wonder and whimsy of the season.

Stick to the Basics.
Throughout the Holidays, these year-round basics will be your best allies:

  • Pack in the greens and unprocessed, whole foods as much as you can, for instance:
    • When you’re invited to a party, bring a veggie (or even raw veggies with dip) as your dish to pass to ensure that you’ll have healthy options at your finger tips
    • Plan ahead and stock up on healthy snacks at home, so you’re not reliant on cookies and leftover pie for snacks when you get hungry
    • Fun fact: the best way to guarantee you’ll crave something tomorrow is by eating it today; if you eat less sugar and more veggies today, you’ll work with your natural wiring to prevent off-the-rails sugar cravings the next day and the next…
  • Drink plenty of water, i.e. one glass every hour if not more; when attending a party, alternate a glass of water with every sugary or alcoholic beverage, which will give you the added benefit of something to occupy your hands while also preventing a hangover
  • Exercise 20-30 minutes each day; even a 15 minute walk a few times throughout the day makes a difference for your mental and physical well-being
  • Get enough rest; when we’re rested, our willpower, patience and energy levels are significantly higher, which means better decisions and more equilibrium and energy to navigate the jam-packed social calendar!
  • Meditate or practice positive visualizations and/or affirmations five minutes a day

Be Mindful.
Very important is to be aware of what you’re eating, how full you are and why you’re reaching for seconds. Often times, we choose to feed our feelings instead of to satisfy our physical hunger. Being mindful of our choices and the reasons behind them will help us outsmart the autopilot eating that is easy to slip into when we’re having fun (or not) and surrounded by food and friends!
Quick tip: If you find yourself on emotional overload, try 4-7-8 breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Do this about five times whenever you feel the stress or anxiety (or any emotional trigger) overwhelming you.

Make time for yourself.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the Holiday – the planning, the parties, the presents – and the allure of saying yes to it all! Families, friends, work, and school activities are abundant, and whether out of obligation or delight, we will say yes… and yes, and yes.  In doing so, we get thrown out of whack and worn out. Make sure you keep your overall well-being in mind as you schedule your fun and festivities.

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your equilibrium:

  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar, so you can blow off steam and get those natural endorphins to keep you energized
  • Say no to social engagements if it’s too much (or simply leave early, so you can get enough rest)
  • Schedule time with friends who lift you up and nourish your soul (you know the ones)
  • Put quiet time on the calendar, such as reserving a few nights for doing absolutely nothing
  • Take a nap on a Saturday afternoon
  • Have a “wrapping party” to allow you and friends to catch up as you wrap gifts or a cookie swap where the cookies baked can be given as goodies for co-workers or teachers (time with friends AND gifts for folks on your list sounds like a win-win!)
  • Give yourself permission to ask for help and/or delegate; for instance, if you’re having a party, prioritize your to-do list and enlist family to help or hire someone to help clean before or after, ask friends to bring a dish to share or help clean-up afterwards, etc.

Whatever helps you maintain your sense of self and balance this time of year is a MUST.
Spoiler alert: it may vary day-to-day, and it may not look the same as what your friend, sister, mom or significant other needs, and that’s OK. Taking the time to make time for yourself and your mental, emotional and spiritual health this time of year will reap enormous benefits!

Eat the pie. Then let it go.
It’s OK to indulge, especially if you’re keeping the other 80% of your food and drinks on the lighter side. One powerful trick to minimizing the impact on your overall health (and waistline) is letting go of any guilt your carry for indulging in a slice of pie (or two), and then resetting to “normal” eating habits. Remember that there are hidden calories and sugar in holiday libations and dishes. Swap in water or herbal tea where possible, and if you do indulge at that office party, overindex on clean eating for your other meals that day and a few days after.

Enjoy!
Most important of all… Enjoy the moments, the meals, the memories of this Season! Savor each bite and every experience because this year’s Holiday season is different than all those that have come before and all those to come. Soak it in. Even if you eat too much, have an emotional breakdown, or don’t get it all done before your family or guests show up, it’s OK. It truly is OK. Breathe. Speak kindly to yourself, and give yourself grace. ‘Tis the season after all. Take advantage of the joy and generosity of this time of year. Live in the moment. Say yes when you feel it, and say no when you feel called to. Take care of yourself and those you love and enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Happy Holidays!

 

Cioppino: An Italian-American Classic

cioppino, easy recipe, family friendly, kid friendly dinner, easy dinner, gluten-free,

cioppino, easy recipe, family friendly, kid friendly dinner, easy dinner, gluten-free,

Cioppino (pronounced “chee-oh-PEE-noh”) is an Italian-American dish, likened to the various regional fish soups and stews of the Old Country; however, it’s not actually an off-the-boat traditional Italian. Cioppino itself hails from… San Francisco!

Often served at Christmas time, cioppino is an easy-to-make dish and even easier to customize for various food allergies, as you’ll see. We had a shrimp allergy in our  midst, so that ingredient was cooked separately with many of the same flavors as the stew to conceal the fact that it had been cooked in a separate pan away from the smorgasbord of seasonings. If you have gluten free and non-gluten free friends and family, cooking the pasta separately is a cinch and will not compromise the delicious flavors for any of your guests.

Here’s another little secret. Cioppino calls for mussels, clams, and in some recipes, calamari, none of which I know how to cook, nor were they easy to find in the hubbub of preparation, so these items were conveniently left out of our dish:) I’ve included these succulent seafoods in the recipe for those of you who are epicurean masters.

As you can tell from my tale of preparing this one for my family, and as with all the dishes you’ll find on the website, the trick is to use the recipe as a guidepost and tailor to your own tastes. Have fun and make the dish your own!

Buon appetito!

 

 

photo 1
Preparing the pan.
photo 2
Sauteeing the onions, garlic and parsley.
photo 3
Beginning to prepare the broth with tomatoes and vino.
photo 4
Beginning to cook the shrimp separately while the broth begins to take shape.
photo 5
Whether cooking with white or red, sometimes an Italian chef needs a little vino 🙂
photo 6
The ingredients are coming together to form an amazing, rich seafood stew!
photo 7
Simmering…
photo 9
Almost done. Adding the pasta, will give it one or two more stirs, and ta-da!
photo 10
Buon appetito!!

 

Cioppino
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (2 1/2 tablespoons if dried)
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon if dried)
1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves(1/2 teaspoon if dried)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (juice and all)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups gluten free pasta (spaghetti noodles are my favorite)
1 1/2 pounds raw extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds fish fillets (halibut, cod, tilapia or salmon; if tilapia, note: it cooks quickly and falls apart more easily, so add it later in the process)
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
12 small hard-shell clams in shell
12 mussels in shell
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions 

For the Broth:
In a pan on medium-low heat, melt the butter.
Turn the heat up to medium, then add the onions, garlic and parsley. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning.
Let the onions and garlic start to brown.
Add the chicken or vegetable broth, tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
Bring the dish to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you’re doing the full-boat seafood version:
Scrub clams and mussels with a small stiff brush under cold running water; remove beards from mussels.
Discard any open clams or mussels.
Cover with cold salted water; let stand 5 minutes and then pour off the salted water.

For the pasta:
Begin to cook your pasta by bringing 3 cups of water to a boil and adding the pasta noodles.
Cook pasta until al dente. (You can tell it’s al dente, but taking a noodle, biting/cutting in half and seeing a wee little white dot in the middle, which is the uncooked part.  You want to prevent the pasta from overcooking. It will cook a little more when you add it to the broth, so undercooking is favorable at this stage.)

Back to the Broth:
Gently stir in the clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and fish fillets into the prepared stock.
(If you have any food allergies, like we did, cook that seafood separately using butter, garlic and parsley.)
Cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until clams pop open and shrimp are opaque when cut.
Add the pasta into the stock, turn it off, and you’re done!