Easy, Inexpensive and Healthy Snacks for On-The-Go

 

No more vending machine snacks!Does this sound familiar? It’s late morning or that ever-delightful mid-afternoon slump time, and you’re hungry. You do a vending machine drive-by and grab some chips or peanut butter crackers to quell the hunger pangs. … Or how about that time when you snagged whatever you could find in the break-room that was leftover from a lunch meeting earlier in the day? #HelloCookies

Afterwards, you probably felt icky… not just from the lack of nutrients of which you’re in dire need, but also from the side of guilt that went along with it. You deserve better!

To help take some of the work out of figuring out healthy alternatives that require minimal prep time, here are some low-maintenance, healthy snacking options for you busy bees!

 

Veggies + Hummus
Think baby carrots, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, sliced cucumber with a few tablespoons of any variation of hummus will do! Even edamame or homemade black-eyed pea hummus (for you overachievers) serves as a nutrient-dense option for curbing hunger. The crunch is also satisfying, and you won’t miss the chips!

Tuna/chicken/”egg” salad + veggies
This one is a favorite of mine. Homemade tuna salad + carrots, cukes, even pickles satiates me for longer than veggies on their own b/c of the protein from a healthy homemade tuna salad that can be tossed together in seconds. If you’re vegan or partial for chicken salad, there are other options that you can make quickly at night or over the weekend, so you have convenient, healthy choices throughout the week!

Fruit slices + nut butters (or go nuts and do veggies, too!)
Peanut butter, almond butter, even nut-free sunflower seed butter or tahini (my fave!) is delish with a tart apple or crunchy pear. If you’re a fan of the crunch, like I am, include some celery sticks, as well (see above note about the satisfaction of crunching)! If you find yourself needing healthy snacks multiple times a day, then consider including this option among others vs. relying solely on nut butters to satisfy you. The higher calorie/higher fat content, when overeaten, may cause weight gain.

Fruit slices + single serving of cheese wedge
Similar to the fruit and nut butter option, fruit with a serving of soft cheese, like Laughing Cow, offers sweetness or tang with crunch and protein in one compact, nutritious dose! With the single serving of cheese – if you’re into that sort of thing – you may find you have more portion control (and, subsequently, have confidence that you can make healthy choices), which will certainly satisfy and motivate you on your road to good habits!

Yogurt + berries (easy on the sugar and additives)
For the dairy-friendly folks, unsweetened Greek yogurt, for instance, is a lovely, nutrient-rich option. Sweetening with berries gives you a burst of antioxidants and natural sugar, so your blood sugar stays relatively stable, meaning you won’t crave sweets or chips later. If you are dairy-avoidant, try goat milk yogurt or soy yogurt. Again, use moderation because many of these yogurts have added sugar, which will encourage you to crave sweets later in the day.

Other grab-and-go options include:

  • A handful of nuts (see above note on using moderation)
  • One or two string cheeses
  • Steamed edamame, which you can find in the freezer section and steam the night before to eat at any temperature when you get the snacking bug
  • Yogurt with granola (light on the granola to keep the fat and sugar content lower; less than 1/4 cup)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Raw veggies
  • …Any combination of the above!

If you’re a road warrior and looking for healthy tips and tricks, check out this post.

The important thing to all snacks (anything you put in your body, actually) is to pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Did a combination keep you full or not so much? Did your nose start running or your tummy feel strange within a few minutes of having a yogurt? Tapping into your body’s signals will help you navigate the road to YOUR optimal well-being, so you can choose the snacks that will work for you. Every body is different, and only you can be the expert on what your body needs, what foods make you feel your best, how often you need to eat, and how much is right for you!

Happy snacking!

Apples, Edamame, tomatoes!

Out and About @ Cooks + Soldiers

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

We ventured out the other night to celebrate a recent promotion (woot, woot!), diverting from our usual “celebratory” faves in favor of trying a new place. As you have probably learned, finding a foodie-worthy restaurant that also offers gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack!

Thankfully, Atlanta’s restaurant scene is evolving (and quite quickly, too!), and Cooks + Soldiers is among the trendsetters.

Unique for serving traditional cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, C+S is located on the Westside of Midtown. Its menu is comprised of pintxos, similar to tapas, and asado, meaning “grilled” or “barbecue”, and its name is inspired by the annual Tamborrada festival of San Sebastian in January, during which, for 24 hours, the entire city is awash with the sound of drums. The adults, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march in different companies across various parts of the city. The passion and tradition of the event from which the restaurant takes its name is evident in every detail.

The dining room is reminiscent of a gentleman’s establishment from a different era: warm, rich and inviting, yet subtle and minimalist. Not trying too hard. Just genuine and authentic. The patio is simply decorated for al fresco dining.

Even though the fertile lands of the Spanish Basque region yield many grains, the cuisine itself is not very grain-based, nor is the C+S menu, which made it easy for us to try a variety of traditional dishes . The servers and staff also delivered allergy-free recommendations with flair and whimsy, enhancing the entire experience to a new level. (Never did they offer up a super pricey alternative, either. So refreshing!)

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you must take a look at their wine list! It goes beyond what I’ve seen in many Atlanta restaurants, particularly those wines offered by the glass. We tried a sparkling pinot noir wine, a cava made from the pinot noir grapes, that was unlike any other, as well as a Riesling blend that was simply decadent!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!

 

Gambas y Pulpo, gluten free restaurants in Atlanta, tapas, atlanta, cooks + soldiers, cooks and soldiers

Gambas y Pulpo (sans toasted bread for this girl!)

 

Roasted cauliflower,  Azalorea Erreta, gluten-free restaurant in atlanta

The absolute pièce de résistance. Azalorea Erreta. Cauliflower steak with cauliflower, capers and carrot chicharrón. We ordered seconds.

 

 

Cauliflower ice cream, glue free restaurants in atlanta

Cauliflower ice cream with a gentle sweetness + a hint of anise. Unexpectedly delicious!

From the ambience, to the greeting, seating, and serving staff, to the chef, to the meal, itself, each interaction was a consistently delicious and jovial experience. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a fine, fun place to celebrate a special occasion, entertain clients, or simply enjoy a glass of wine. After such a five-star experience, I’m certainly planning to join them again!

Cooks + Soldiers
691 14th Street NW
at Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Tel. 404-996-2623

A Beginner’s Grocery List for Healthy Habits

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

  • Organic Berries.
    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.
    photo 3 (3)

    Apples! #nomnom

    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. 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.
    IMG_0285

    Rice-a-palooza!

    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.

  • Sweet potatoes.
    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.
  • 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.

    photo 3 (4)

    Roast your veggies for a fun, colorful add-on to a basic pasta dish or rice bowl.

  • 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 Monterrey 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!
  • Healthy Fats.
    IMG_0076

    Salads are an easy way to add in healthy fat by adding avocado or drizzling olive oil as dressing.

    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!

  • Spices!
    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.)

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

Produce

  • Berries
  • Apples + pears
  • Spinach +/or kale
  • Romaine
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Avocados

Spices

  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Whatever else you like!

Oils + Butters 

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Tahini
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter

Protein

  • Eggs
  • Frozen fish (use your app to check which are best)
  • Organic, grass-fed, beef, chicken, etc

Other items

  • Brown rice
  • Black rice
  • Green rice
  • Red rice

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!

 

A rebuilding year

About a year and a half ago, I stopped blogging. I stopped because I had neither the energy nor the clarity. I was struggling with chronic pain from a herniated disc that ranged from moderate to excruciating. I didn’t have the capacity to do many things.

I felt huge amounts of resistance to writing. The blog sat untouched.

Late in 2015, I underwent surgery. It was, on one hand, long over due, and on the other, perfectly timed. It marked a shift in my self in many ways. Life is richer, and I am truly thankful for it all.

And now it’s New Years Eve. Almost 20 months since this long and winding road began, and I am reminded of this quote I read once, “Imagine where you’d be if you started a year ago.”

It describes how I feel about my own healing journey, as well as this blog. Imagine where we’ll be in a year!

I’m eager and so excited to see how 2016 will come together, with healing and inspiration and adventure for us all!

I am hopeful that we will share our stories, our successes, our recipes, and our support with one another even more in 2016. I really cannot wait!

May all your champagne toasts come true in 2016!
Love,
Katherine

How to Grocery Shop for Gluten Free Living

If you’ve embarked on your elimination diet and have a sense that gluten-free living may be in your best interest, you may be wondering what to do next, particularly since “going gluten-free” often evokes concerns of very restricted eating with few to no tasty, affordable options to be found. Not the case!

Making the transition to living gluten-free can actually be quite a cinch, particularly when you’re fueled with the knowledge that this new way of eating will actually help you live in your body more comfortably and with more energy and radiance than before.

Now that you’ve jumped on the bandwagon, it’s time to – quite literally – put your money where your mouth is.

Here’s how:

gluten free products, udi's baguettes, crunchmaster, three bakers, glutenfree

Some of my favorite GF substitutes copyright Sprout and Rosebud

Swap out gluten-filled favorites with gluten-free varieties and whole foods.
Choose the products with the fewest ingredients listed, and even more importantly, no matter the length of the list of ingredients, select the products with ingredients you can actually pronounce!
As they say, if it took a laboratory to create it (with unpronounceable chemicals), it would take a lab to digest it. Give your body a break and try to avoid ingredients that are the length of your arm😉

Choose pastas that have a blend of grains, like quinoa, rice, and/or corn, which will cook more like the pasta you may already be used to. I’ve found pastas made solely of rice tend to be a little mushier if cooked the traditional way. Asian noodles composed of only rice will have different cooking instructions, so make sure to read the packaging.

Baked goods, like bagels, breads, etc., found in the refrigerated section tend to be more like gluten-filled items with more familiar textures and tastes.

**Even better for your body and your wallet: Choosing whole foods, like beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat or even brown, black, or red rice, which can be bought in any grocery store and even in bulk at natural food stores. Plenty of traditional recipes can be de-glutened by swapping these ingredients for their gluten-filled counterparts.

Don’t forget that beer contains gluten, too, so look for gluten-free beers or ciders to help whet your whistle. (Wine and liquors are considered GF by the Celiac Foundation.)

As you’re starting to make these small, but somewhat drastic changes, the most important piece of the puzzle is to approach this process with playfulness and curiosity. Sometimes, the recipes will not turn out as you think (don’t worry; it’ll get better with a small amount of practice and you might even create your own unique recipes!), or you might fall off the wagon and pick up a non-gluten-free cupcake. It’s ok!

Be kind and patient with yourself, and keep on keepin’ on. You are worth the journey and the work, and this new way of living will become a lot more fun and rewarding than you might have ever imagined!

Thinking of Going Gluten-Free? How to Know if It’s For You!

Gluten free. Two words, much mystique. From trendy diets to health conditions, living gluten-free is becoming more mainstream, but what does it really mean?

First off, gluten is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not an additive or an unnaturally occurring substance. It is a natural protein found in rye, wheat and barley that some people find hard to digest. It can become stuck to the lining of the intestines, wreaking havoc for those with a sensitivity or allergy and encouraging a slew of other health challenges to take shape. From a B-vitamin deficiency to joint pain to brain fog to IBS to The Real Deal Celiac’s Disease to MS-like symptoms to even cancer, a gluten intolerance left unattended can become a real roadblock on the journey to optimal health, to say the least.

Before you take off to your kitchen to exorcise all potential gluten-filled items from your pantry and fridge, let’s talk about the best approach if you’re interested in dabbling in this (currently on-trend) gluten-free lifestyle.

Try an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is simply a way of eating that removes gluten-filled foods from your diet (not to be confused with a diet that limits your food for weight-loss; going gluten-free does not guarantee weight loss, but it is a possibility!)

An elimination diet is a simple and relatively cheaper method of figuring out if you are gluten-sensitive. Depending on how long you’ve been eating gluten and how significant the impact has been to your sweet body, it may take 7 days to 6 months to truly feel the relief of going off the gluten. For me, it took about six months of going gluten-free before I felt the symptoms significantly subside; other people can deduce a sensitivity within a week. Your best bet is to go off of it for a week, then add it back in for a day and pay serious attention to how you feel. I’ve seen people get a runny nose the first time they take one bite of a bagel (ONE BITE!). That’s an indication you may want to remove gluten from your diet. Other indications that you might be better off going G-free could be lesser joint pain, decreased belly bloat, fewer digestive problems, and/or clearer thinking as a result of going G-Free. Just reading that list alone certainly makes testing out going GFree quite attractive, doesn’t it!?

Keep a journal or mental list of the changes you notice in your body, mind, energy level, etc. as you go through the week. After the seven days of gluten-free living, add some “normal” carbs back into your diet and then notice how you’re feeling. Re-read your journal of observations and decide if G-Free living is for you!

Cioppino: An Italian-American Classic

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!