Hope you are enjoying lots of treats and not too many tricks. 😉 A lot of people at work really get into dressing up, so I joined in this year for the first time in a long time. Of course I promoted healthy foods by dressing up as a bunch of grapes. It was actually a lot of fun. I just can’t believe that October is already over. The holiday season is approaching just so quickly – eek! Today, I thought I would share with you this delicious soup Will made up the other night. It’s a perfect way to warm up on the approaching cold winter nights! Feel free to replace the butter with oil if you’d like to make it vegan – both ways are delicious!
Tomato Leek Soup (vegetarian; gluten-free)
(Makes 4 Servings)
- 8 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 3 leeks, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 pint vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Toss in leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and tomatoes. Continue to cook and stir for another 10 minutes until leeks begin to soften.
- Stir in broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables softened, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in spices and cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off heat and pour soup into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth (or puree only half of it to leave a few bits of chopped veggies like we did).
- Serve with cheese!
An easy dinner meal that frequently makes an appearance on our table is vegetarian tacos! We live in a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago, so we have easy access to some super cheap, yet delicious corn tortillas just a few steps from our door. This makes it especially tempting to make tacos frequently. 🙂 Even though you may think that tacos would be boring without meat, vegetarian tacos can be pretty tasty! We mix it up by changing out the meat with fish, crumbled tempeh, and marinated portobello mushrooms. With just a bit of vegetable chopping and some sauteing, tacos can literally come together in a matter of minutes – making it a great option for those nights when you are tight on time. We usually pair ours with a salad and just maybe, a brew!
Tasty Tempeh Tacos
– Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil and toss in some chopped onion and bell pepper. Once the onion begins to become translucent, add crumbled tempeh and 1-2 teaspoons of taco seasoning OR 1/4 cup chopped, canned chipotle peppers in sauce and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Toss and cook until tempeh begins to brown.
Classic Fish Tacos
-These are great for using up leftover fish! Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Toss in some chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Add 1-2 fillets of flaked, cooked mild-flavored fish (think tilapia) and 1-2 teaspoons of taco seasoning. Cook until fish is warmed through.
“Holy Mole” Mushroom Tacos
-Chop 1 pound of portobello mushrooms. Toss with 1/4 cup mole sauce. Add a dash of hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Toss together until mushrooms are coated with sauce. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 1-4 hours. When ready to cook, spread the mushrooms out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook under a broiler on high for 5-7 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Our Favorite Taco Toppings:
- Cheddar cheese or queso fresco
- Sour Cream
- Homemade pico de gallo
- Avocado or guacomole
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Hot sauce
What about you, do you have a favorite way to prepare tacos?
Happy Friday, Friends! It has definitely turned chilly here in Chicago. So, you know what that had me craving last weekend? A big bowl of spicy chili. That’s exactly what I made, too! The thing I love about making bigger dishes like this is that there are always lots of leftovers. That means Will and I have easy meals we can just pull out of the fridge any day we aren’t feeling up to cooking. The other reason chili is so wonderful? It is so incredibly versatile! There are hundreds of different recipes for variations of chili. I feel like the options are practically endless. This chili is a great, wholesome and filling vegetarian version. One advantage of making a bean based chili is that you get a bunch of extra fiber that you otherwise wouldn’t have from a meat based chili recipe. The quinoa also adds a bit more fiber and additional protein as well. It’s definitely a healthy, one-pot dish!
Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa and Beans
(Makes 8-10 Servings)
- In a large cast iron enamel pot, saute the onion for about 3 minutes, or until it starts to become translucent. Add the squash, garlic, bell pepper, poblano and continue to sauté for another 7 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown just a little.
- In a separate sauce pan, add the quinoa and broth. Bring to a simmer and then cover. Cook until all the broth has been absorbed.
- Add the canned tomatoes, sauce, beans, quinoa, 1 cup broth, and chipotle peppers. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 30 minutes.
- Stir in the spices and cook another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with cheese, avocado, sour cream, etc and serve!
After all the fun I had coming up with my detox diet post, I thought I would make a series of it and review a few of the most popular diet trends out there! Today, I wanted to chat about the intermittent or alternate day fasting diet. Have you heard of this one? A few wildly popular books have been published recently toting this diet by different names like: The 5:2 Diet, The Fast Diet, or The Overnight Diet. I know women’s health magazines and various blogs have been talking about this diet a lot over the past few months. However, is it really worth all the hype? Here’s the basic concept of the diet:
- Eat your normal diet (or a little bit healthier version of your normal) 4-6 days of the week
- On the off days you will either completely fast for close to 24 hours or drastically restrict your calories to about 25% of your needs. Another way to achieve the fast period is by skipping two meals one day.
- Weight loss occurs because during your fast days, your body goes through your stored energy (glycogen) and then begins to use fat as an energy source
So, to lose weight all you have to do is fast a couple of days a week – no changes in your non-fast day diet required? Hmm… let’s take a closer look at the published research behind this diet concept and see what you think. To date, most of the research has been on mice so it is difficult to relate those same benefits to humans. Also, almost all human studies have been conducted at the same medical facility – University of Illinois in Chicago. Most have lasted on a few weeks, so we still have no data on long-term effects of this type of diet.
- 16 obese adults followed an alternate day fasting diet (eat one day, “fast” on 25% energy needs the next) for 8 weeks and lost an average of 5.8% of their original body weight. They also noted a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. (Source)
- A group of 8 non-obese men and 8 non-obese women fasted every other day for 22 days and lost an average of 2.5% of their body weight. Of note, hunger did not decrease on fast days over time so many subjects felt the diet wasn’t sustainable in the long-term. (Source)
- No significant or consistent positive effects on blood sugar have been found using alternative day fasting to date. (Source)
- The effect of intermittent fasting on cancer risk is yet to be tested in humans, but mice studies show it might be protective against certain types of cancer. (Source)
My take home message for those thinking about intermittent/alternative day fasting? It may be a great idea in theory, but I feel like making simple, healthy diet changes will be a lot more effective for weight loss in the long run. Plus, the research out there on the subject is still very limited. You may see a pound or two come off in the first couple of weeks you try intermittent fasting, but over time, you will get much better results by changing the type of food you eat, not the timing.
What do you think? Have you ever tried intermittent fasting?
Happy Monday! Hope you had a lovely fall weekend. To start your week off on a sweet note, I thought I would share this simple vegan coconut cream cup recipe with you. The inspiration for these came for those ultra sweet, gooey mallo cups that I used to love when I was younger. Have you ever tried one before? They are like Reese’s cups but stuffed with marshmallow cream and coconut instead of peanut butter. So delicious! Of course, now that I’m a dietitian, I can’t have any sweet treat without thinking about how I can create a healthier version at home. Although these are still technically a dessert, they are still better than the packaged version with a lot less sugar, loads of ultra dark chocolate, and a bit of healthy fat from the creamy coconut filling. These make for an easy to prepare, fun dessert that is perfect for guests with diet restrictions since they are vegan, gluten free, and paleo-friendly. (You’d never guess it by the way they taste!) If you aren’t a big fan of dark chocolate, feel free to substitute milk chocolate instead.
Vegan Coconut Cream Cups
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup canned coconut cream, chilled
- 2 bars of chocolate (3.5 oz each – I used Trader Joe’s 85% Cacao Chocolate Lover Bars)
- Mix maple syrup, shredded coconut, and coconut cream together in a small bowl. Place in the fridge to firm while preparing the chocolate.
- Create a double boiler by filling a small saucepan halfway with water. Fit a glass mixing bowl over top and bring water to boil. Melt chocolate bars in bowl.
- Place 8 cupcake papers in muffin tin. Pour 1/2 of the melted chocolate in the muffin cups. (Should be just enough to cover the bottom.) Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until hardened.
- Take out of the freezer and place 2 tablespoons of the coconut cream in the chocolate cups. Place back in the freezer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer and cover with the rest of the melted chocolate. Place in the freezer to chill until firm. Peel away from the paper cupcake liners and enjoy!
I can’t believe we are already halfway through the week! After such a lovely long weekend catching up with my Memphis friends who came to town to run the Chicago Marathon, it was tough to head back to work. Do you know what can make the work week better though? These simple, oven roasted pears with cinnamon and almond butter! We have been picking up pints of pears at the market over the last couple of weeks that have been so juicy and sweet; just can’t get enough of them. I knew they would be delicious in a dessert dish without the need for added sugar. So, I baked up a few for a healthy, vegan, gluten-free, paleo-friendly dessert that is super simple to make.
Roasted Pears with Cinnamon and Almond Butter
(Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 pears, cored and sliced in half
- 4 tablespoons almond butter
- Additional cinnamon for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish, combine coconut oil, water, cinnamon, and vanilla. Spread over the bottom of the pan.
- Set pears cut-side down in the baking dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until softened.
- Pull dish out of the oven and turn the pears cut-side up. Place 1 tablespoon of almond butter in the hollow of each pear. Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Serve warm! Sprinkle with additional cinnamon for serving.
To follow up with my 10 favorite RD bloggers post, I thought I would share with you 10 of my favorite foodie blogs! Of course, there are dozens of other fabulous ones that I also follow, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with too many at one time.
- Pinch of Yum: All of Lindsay’s recipes look absolutely delicious and I always admire her food photography skills.
- Eating Bird Food:
- Eat Live Run: Jenna’s blog was one of the very first that I started reading. I love how she can mix her delicious recipe posts with a sprinkle of fashion and travel.
- Oh She Glows: Angela posts mouth-watering vegan recipes for everything from breakfast to dessert.
- Joy the Baker: Who doesn’t love Joy the Baker?! I love how she can perfectly blend wonderful recipe posts with real life talk. Her podcast is also fabulous!
- How Sweet It Is: Jennifer’s site is dangerous for someone with a sweet tooth like me! Her desserts always look so yummy. She does add a few great salad and entree recipes as well to balance it out.
- The Vegan Stoner: These super simple recipes are accompanied by cartoon veggies and ingredients. So fun!
- Oh My Veggies: Love all the creative vegetarian recipes on this site! I could seriously spend days just admiring the awesome food photography as well.
- Cookie and Kate: Love all of her recipes! She can have me craving soup or casserole one day and cookies the next!
What are your favorite breakfast foods? Are you a fan of sweet or savory breakfast dishes? My favorite breakfast food is oats, which have become quite the staple for my first meal of the day. Not only can they be dressed up all kinds of different ways, they are also great for you! It is chock full of fiber, selenium, and magnesium and is one of the only foods that will actually keep me feeling full until lunch time. In addition, a diet rich in the soluble fiber, beta-glucan, contained in oats has been shown to help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol as well as your overall risk of heart disease by as much as 10%. (Source)
Often, when I suggest eating oatmeal to patients, they are hesitant to try it because they feel it is too bland or boring. Others may already be eating processed oatmeal in packets which is great in theory, but is often chock full of sugar and fake flavorings. They are also expensive! However, if you buy plain rolled oats, they are always cheap and still have all their good-for-you fiber without the added chemicals and sugar. Whenever I prepare my oats in the morning, I use milk for the liquid rather than water for some additional protein and calcium. Plus, milk gives the oats a lot creamier texture as well.
Here are some of my favorite healthy ways to dress up oatmeal:
- Chopped apple, cinnamon, and walnuts
- Diced banana, peanut butter, dash of maple syrup
- Halved figs, vanilla, and walnuts
- Chopped pear, almond butter, cinnamon
- Chopped peaches, chia seeds, diced almonds
- Peanut butter and dark chocolate chips
- Pumpkin puree, cinnamon, walnuts
- Berries, coconut cream, and chia seeds
Do you like oatmeal? What is your favorite way to dress up your oats?
Over the course of the year, over 220,00 women and 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer according to the CDC. That’s just one year! With such staggering statistics, it’s likely that you personally know someone who has battled breast cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to recognize and honor those with who have battled or are currently battling breast cancer. It is also a time to consider what you can do to help lower your own risk of breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Numerous studies have indicated that those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for breast cancer – especially if you were a normal weight when younger. For example, the Nurses Health Study found that women in their 50’s who gained up to 50 pounds since the age of 18 were up to 45% more likely to have breast cancer than those who maintained their weight. (Source)
- Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity correlated to a significant decrease in postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Reduction in risk ranges from 20-80% in the studies reviewed with at least 75 minutes of moderate activity per week. (Source)
- Monitor your alcohol intake. Observational studies have showed a significant relationship between breast cancer risk and alcohol intake. Breast cancer risk was increased by 28-50% in women who routinely drank 2 or more alcoholic beverages/day compared to non-drinkers. (Source)
- Increase your intake of fiber. A few studies have measured a significant 13% breast cancer risk reduction from a higher fiber diet (about 26 grams of fiber/day). So, load up on more fiber and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables throughout the day! (Source)
Take some time this October to sport some pink and work on lowering your risk of breast cancer with these healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Encourage your friends and family to work on making healthy lifestyle changes to their risk as well. Perhaps we can lower those staggering statistics from the CDC!
Do me a favor and go buy yourself an eggplant before they go out of season! Never tried eating eggplant before? Make this your opportunity to try out a new vegetable. 🙂 Trust me, they may look weird, but hey can be really delicious. Will and I found a couple of beautiful ones at the market on Sunday and whipped up these the other night. Usually, we add eggplant to dishes as an addition rather than the star, like in curry. This dish, however, highlights just how versatile eggplants can be in the kitchen. Make sure to purchase or use eggplants that are fairly firm since you leave the skin on for this dish. The more ripe/soft an eggplant becomes, the more bitter the skin becomes.
Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant
- 1/4 cup butter
- 8 oz. tempeh (or ground turkey or beef)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 eggplants
- 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 large kale leaves, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped.
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh so that 1/3 inch of flesh around the skin remains. Chop up half of the flesh you removed and set aside.
- Spray eggplant halves with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they begin to brown and soften.
- Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add crumbled tempeh (or meat) and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, chopped eggplant, and mushrooms. Cook until onion is translucent and mushroom begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
- Toss in kale, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook another 3 minutes or until kale begins to wilt. Turn off heat.
- Stuff eggplant shells with topping and place back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
- Serve! We topped ours with a little bit of chevre cheese and smoked paprika. Yum!
Have you ever had eggplant? What is your favorite way to prepare it?