Tag Archives: anti-inflammatory

Creamy Cauliflower Dip

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One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from changing my diet is when you close a door on one food, there’s a window that opens. And it’s a chance to experiment, be creative and discover something new. Four years ago I started on this journey of healing my body naturally and along the way have had to give up many of the foods I love. I can attest, eliminating foods you enjoy and rely on from your diet is hard. And it’s easy to get stuck staring at that closed door, focusing on what you can’t have. But, I’ve learned if you can break away, there’s a whole world of foods out there to play with, and you just might find something even more interesting and delicious to love.

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Caul Me What You Want
At first glance, cauliflower may seem to be a boring, bland vegetable – a less exciting version of broccoli, which is saying a lot… But if you stop at first glance, let me tell you, you’re missing out! Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables you can stock in your fridge. It can become rice, mash, crust, soup, a dip… It can be transformed in so many ways, if you didn’t know any better, you might not realize you’re eating those boring little white trees…

Cauliflower, and really all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.), help our bodies detox. There are specific phytonutrients in crucifers that activate enzymes which work to get rid of harmful toxins. That’s why cruciferous vegetables are so often hailed as cancer fighters.

One more thing… cauliflower in particular is a solid source of of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in… can you guess? I’ll give you a hint… it’s in the head (see what I did there?). Brain health! We call it a “head,” it sorta looks like a “brain”… Gotta hand it to Mother Nature, she sure knows how to keep it interesting.

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Cauliflower “Hummus” Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2-1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets with coconut oil and cumin. Spread on baking sheet and roast 30-40 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and cool.

In food processor or blender, combine cauliflower, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper in food processor. Process until smooth. Add water if needed to get to desired consistency. Add more to thin.

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Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto + The Veggie Spiralizer

zpaghetti plate

It’s the first week of fall and while everyone else is blogging about pumpkin flavored soup, smoothies, muffins, cookies…. I’m stuck in summer mode. As excited as I am to move on to fall, I’m still savoring the last few tastes of summer, like the basil, zucchini and tomato in this dish. The light, refreshing flavors feel and taste right for now, at least until we break 80…

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I recently got this new kitchen gadget – the veggie spiralizer. Now, this may surprise you, but I’m really not a big fan of kitchen gadgets. My cabinets tell a different story because I have plenty of them. But if I’m being honest, I really only use a few. I realized my minimalism in the kitchen when we stored the majority of our stuff for a year after moving to Austin. I only brought the essentials; the rest went to the Pod. And now, seven months later, I don’t think I could even tell you what’s in those 10 boxes. My dishes… I miss my dishes. The rest, I hate to admit, I could probably do without. I won’t… but I could…

This though, the veggie spiralizer, this is a keeper. Though, I do wish I had found this one first that you can hold in your hand. It takes up much less space and looks to make the same long pasta like ringlets out of all sorts of veggies from apples to zucchinis. This genius contraption is a godsend to anyone following a gluten-free or paleo diet. Pasta is just one of those things man can only go so long without. And with this guy, I really do not feel like I’m going without. Pasta fix is taken care of. I mean just look at those noodles! I call it zpaghetti.

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Zucchini happens to work particularly well as spaghetti. After spiraling, I use a paper towel to absorb some of the moisture. Then when you’re ready to cook, just toss the veggie noodles in a pan over medium heat with a little oil for a minute or two. The longer you let the noodles cook, the softer they’ll get. So for a more al dente pasta, cook for a minute or less. Sweet potatoes – great for pad thai and stir fries – beets, butternut squash, yellow squash and cucumber (great raw) make perfect noodles.

pesto ingredients

At the end of a season I tend to get a little nostalgic for its signature flavors and ingredients as we transition to what comes along with the next. Pesto is always a summer staple in our house. I love to make a big batch and then use it throughout the week as a sauce, dressing or spread. It’s also a super sneaky way to pack more greens into your diet. But, no need to say goodbye to pesto quite yet… it goes with pumpkin too. 🙂

cooking

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto

Ingredients

For the Pasta:
2 large zucchinis, spiraled
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the pesto:

1 avocado
2 cups basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1 lemon, juiced
sea salt

Directions

Spiralize zucchini into spaghetti noodles.

To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add water or extra-virgin olive oil if needed to help facilitate blending.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and allow to heat before adding zucchini noodles. Saute about a minute until slightly softened for more al dente-like noodles; allow to cook longer for softer noodles. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix with pesto and halved cherry tomatoes (optional). Add chunks of cooked chicken breast for a complete meal.

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Smooth Summer Squash Soup

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Call me crazy, but sometimes even in the middle of summer a bowl of soup can be quite nice. I had the most amazing summer squash soup on our California road trip (when it’s 60 degrees in the evening hot soup doesn’t sound as crazy too). Anyway, I loved it so much I decided to try to recreate it when I got home. Plus, my freezer has been stocked full of homemade chicken broth for months.

I know I’ve promised a couple of times on here to share with you my recipe for making your own broths. There are so many health benefits to making stock the way it’s supposed to be made – from leftover bones. The process of slow cooking animal bones for broth pulls minerals, collagen and amino acids out into the broth. Our bodies then use these essential nutrients to rebuild cells and particularly the lining of our intestine – which prevents those food sensitivities that seem to be on the rise these days. I promise to go into all of this a lot more in another post and share with you my stock recipe. I know the image of slow cooking bones in your kitchen may not sound too appetizing, but trust me, the end result is delicious – so much more flavorful and rich than what you’d buy at the store. And so much better for you! It puts store bought to shame… Plus it’s practically free! Can’t beat that. More to come…

Anyway, back to this delicious, smooth summer squash soup. When I got home from our trip I did what I always do when I want to get ideas for a recipe – I started Googling. I am a nerd and read recipes for fun. Sometimes I find one and tweak it to make it my own, or I might combine ideas from two. For this one, I loved Whole Living’s idea to use cilantro stems – something that’s usually tossed. So I pretty much stuck to their recipe with one small change – I subbed in my homemade broth for an added nutritional boost.

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Cilantro Fan or Phobe?
Cilantro (or coriander) is one of those herbs you either love it or you hate it. Cilantrophobes, as haters of the herb like to call themselves, say it tastes like soap or bugs. Turns out their taste buds don’t lie. Cilantro’s smell is produced by aldehydes. You know what else puts off aldehydes? Bugs and soap. Cilantrophobes make the association in their taste-smell memory bank and understandably then just can’t take it. I myself fall in the lover camp. I love adding cilantro to salads, curries and other dishes for a fresh bite of green.

Cilantro (the leaves) and coriander (the seed) are part of the same plant. Both are powerful detoxifiers and natural chelators that helps to draw heavy metals like lead and mercury out of the body. The leaves also have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. These benefits make cilantro a great choice to add to your green juice. Coriander has been considered a healing spice for centuries and long been used in cooking for it’s anti-inflammatory and preservative properties.  If you read the ingredients on your curry powder, you’ll likely find coriander listed there too.

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Squash it to Me
Yellow summer squash is abundant in the summer which makes it great to use in a soup. Before making this recipe I stuck to winter squashes for creamy soups but opting for summer squash, especially this time of year, will be much cheaper and also keep you eating seasonally which is always a good thing. Yellow squash has a lot of water in it (also good in the summer) and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood sugar stabilizing benefits. I love slicing it up and sautéing squash with sweet yellow onion, zucchini and some dark leafy greens. It’s the perfect quick, easy side dish to go with just about any meal.

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Smooth Summer Squash Soup

recipe adapted from Whole Living

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems, plus 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 medium yellow summer squash (2 1/2 pounds), chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Sea salt
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Directions

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook onion, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cilantro stems, and coriander and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add squash and 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then season with salt. Puree soup in batches until smooth. (If too thick, thin with a little water.) Adjust seasoning if necessary and let cool slightly. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with lime.

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Salmon with Lemon, Dijon and Dill

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Salmon is one of my favorite go-to weeknight mains – it doesn’t take long to marinate, it cooks quickly and as a bonus I can save a dose of my Omega-3 supplements… The main reason I cook it during the week though is it’s not something I usually order out. I’m going to try to say this without sounding like a giant food snob, but most salmon served in restaurants is farm-raised, which means it ate GMO corn and soy, was injected with dye to make it pink and doesn’t have near the Omega-3s it should. It can also be higher in mercury. I sound horrible, don’t I? But you know, when you start connecting the dots between what you put in your mouth and how you feel in your body you take this stuff a lot more seriously! I always say, eat like your life depends on it… because it does! What’s scarier is GMO corn and soy and food dye could one day be the least of our worries if frankenfish become a real thing. Yikes!

So then you can imagine how excited I was to see wild Pacific-caught salmon on just about every menu I opened on our California road trip last month. I must have had salmon four times that week. And holy… was it good. I swear, looking at the ocean while I ate it made it taste even better. When I shop for salmon, Pacific is what I look for because it’s less exposed to mercury so has lower concentrations of the toxic metal that can be a concern in larger fish. I can usually find it at the store either fresh or frozen. Wild is a bit pricer so to help offset the cost you can always opt for frozen which is usually less expensive. That’s typically how I buy my fish anyway. It’s easy enough to thaw and, hello, we live in Texas; most of the fish behind that glass was frozen not to long ago too….

Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acid, an essential nutrient our body needs to regulate inflammation. Omega-3 is something to be conscious about adding to your diet if you have any sort of pain, stiffness or swelling. People who suffer from joint pain report great results and relief (myself included) from supplementing with fish oil and other Omega-3 supplement sources like cod liver oil and krill oil. It’s also been shown to help reduce the risk  of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Of course it’s always best to get your nutrients from your food, that’s why I try to have salmon at least once or twice per week. And this recipe is one of my all time favorites. I love the combination of dill and mustard. I know it sounds like dressings for a hamburger but I suppose there’s a reason those condiments just work so dang well together.

This is great with sautéed vegetables like dark leafy greens, squash, zucchini and onion. Or for something a bit lighter you could serve on top of a spinach salad with fresh raw, thinly sliced veggies like carrot, celery and radish. Enjoy!

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ingredients

saute salmon

Salmon with Lemon, Dijon and Dill

Ingredients

2 wild Sockeye salmon filets
1 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
a couple sprigs of dill, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
sea salt
black pepper

Directions

To marinate salmon, place salmon filets in a glass container or gallon-sized plastic bag. Combine lemon, olive oil, dill, dijon, salt and pepper and then pour marinade over salmon. Mix well to coat the salmon filets and then set aside in fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour salmon and marinade into skillet and cook salmon 4 minutes on each side.

Serve with sautéed spring vegetables like zucchini, squash, asparagus, peas, etc.

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Seeduction Muffins

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I used to be obsessed (I mean, obsessed) with this bread at Whole Foods called Seeduction bread. It’s the heartiest, nuttiest (or seediest) bread I think I’ve ever had and it’s so so tasty. If you’re not avoiding gluten or grains, I highly recommend it on pure taste alone. You know those breads that are light and fluffy and are actually more air than bread? This is not one of those breads. You know what I mean, right? Have you ever taken a piece of regular white or wheat bread and tried rolling it up into a tiny little ball? If you haven’t done this before with conventional bread, try it. Do it with your kids, it’s tons of fun. You see, most conventional breads on the shelves don’t have much to them and are actually more air and sugar than whole grain. To make sure you’re getting something of substance when shopping the bread aisle, look for the words 100% whole grain; the first ingredient listed should be whole grain, not whole wheat. Whole wheat is tricky. That phrase could still mean that the grain has been processed to separate the bran from the starch. With 100% whole grain, you can be sure you’re getting the nutrition of the whole grain and not just the starch – which to your body is pretty much just sugar.

It’s been about three years since I’ve had a real piece of bread. People ask me, do I miss it? And, you know, I really don’t most of the time. It’s funny how you adjust and adapt to a new way of eating and before you know it it’s just the new norm. But one day I saw that seeduction bread and I had to have it. So I decided to try making my own gluten-free, grain-free version… I got inspiration from one of my favorite blogs – My New Roots. Sarah B. has what she calls her Life Changing Loaf of Bread which gave me inspiration for my own seeduction bread – or muffins. And they’re every bit as hearty and delicious as the one Whole Foods makes.

More Fiber, Please
Without flour, grains or gluten, you may be wondering what’s holding all those seeds together here? It’s a little trick with one super ingredient: psyllium seed husk. Psyllium seed husk comes from a plant and is extremely high in soluble fiber. You may have seen or used it yourself mixed with water as a supplement to, you know, get things moving. Psyllium seed husk’s fibrous qualities happen to make it a good substitute in gluten-free baked goods as well because it works to bind ingredients together.

Like other foods high in soluble fiber, psyllium seed husk is thought to be effective in lowering cholesterol and controlling certain types of diabetes. Look for whole psyllium seed husk or psyllium seed husk powder. A little bit goes a long way, you’ll notice in this recipe it only uses 2 tablespoons.

To get the full benefit of adding the extra fiber from psyllium to your diet, be sure to drink plenty of water too.

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Seeduction
These muffins have five different seeds in them, all with their own health benefits. There’s a healthy mix of Omega-6s and Omega-3s, two essential fatty acids we must get from food while making a conscious effort to maintain the right balance of the two. Most seeds and nuts are higher in Omega-6 which promotes inflammation in the body. When our ratio of Omega-6 far outweighs the amount of Omega-3s we’re getting in our diets – which is usually the case – we end up with way too much inflammation that can end up as the basis for ailments and disease. The key is to make sure you’re getting plenty of Omega-3 fats as well from plant-based foods like flax and chia seeds, walnuts and greens, as well as animal sources like wild salmon and other seafood. Staying away from processed foods and foods prepared with refined seed oils like sunflower, safflower and canola also helps keep your Omega-6 count in check.

I am sort of obsessed with pumpkin seeds. I love adding them to salads or just snacking on them all by themselves. For salads and snacks, I love Go Raw’s sprouted pumpkin seeds. Sprouted seeds and nuts are easier to digest because the sprouting process neutralizes inhibitors and releases enzymes that are dormant when raw. Once a seed is sprouted, it becomes alive all the nutrition packed into that tiny little seed gets activated. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, zinc and iron.

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Just the Flax
We know flax seeds are one of the best plant based sources of Omega-3 fat but that’s not the only reason to add these golden flecks to your baked goods and smoothies. Flax seeds are high in antioxidants and have been associated with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and decreased insulin resistance. Flax seeds are also a the No. 1 source of lignans which are another type of antioxidant and phytoestrogen. Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are high in lignans as well.

Flax seeds should always be ground first before consumed so that they can be more easily digested and absorbed. Because of the delicate nature of the oils in flax seeds, ground flax has a much shorter shelf life. So, as a general rule it’s always better to purchase whole flax and grind it yourself. You can store both in the fridge or freezer for a longer shelf life.

I usually grind mine with my Magic Bullet, but a regular ol’ coffee grinder or food processor will work too. In fact for this recipe I pulsed all of the seeds individually in the Magic Bullet and then added them to the mixing bowl one by one. In this recipe, you pulse each just enough to get a coarse chop, but not pulverize completely. The result is a hearty seed mix that’s still crunchy.

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Seeduction Muffins

Ingredients

2 tbsp psyllium husk powder
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
dash of stevia

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine psyllium husk powder and water and stir. Set aside – after about 5 minutes it will for a thick gel. Meanwhile, place all seeds in a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Transfer seeds to a large bowl and add salt, stevia and coconut oil. Stir to combine evenly.

By now the psyllium husk and water should be thick. Add the melted coconut oil to mixture and stir. Pour the liquid into your seed mixture and mix it up well. Cover and set aside for an hour – this allows the seeds time to absorb some of the liquid and the dough will become firmer. (Note: This step does make for a better end product, but you can skip it if you are pressed for time.)

Grease your muffin pan with coconut oil and then spoon the dough into the pan, filling each muffin slot to the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Recipe yields 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins.

The Megg Salad Store

You may have noticed a few of the food items listed above are linked. These links take you to the new Megg Salad Store on Amazon.com. I’ve pulled together many of my favorite ingredients, food products, books and tools and organized them in a convenient little online store for you. I get asked all the time for product and brand recommendations so I decided to create a place where you can easily find the items I recommend and use in my own kitchen. Full disclosure: As an affiliate of Amazon I receive a small percentage of any sale made from my website.

The store will be available on meggsalad.com shortly… just as soon as I can figure out how to add it. Any WordPress whizzes out there? 🙂

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Spring Spaghetti Squash Pasta

spring spaghetti squash

I was going to wait to post this one after another go-around so I could make it a little prettier. I wanted to add fresh basil. And put the vegetables and chicken on top of the spaghetti squash instead of mixing it all up in the pan hamburger-helper style so it would photograph better. In my blogger’s mind I can see it and it’s stunningly green and gorgeous. But, then I remind myself… that isn’t real.

What’s real is what you see right here. No frills, just dinner. In under an hour. And on a weeknight, what’s better than that right? Um, ok, maybe dinner in under half an hour…

With every post I find myself wishing my photos were more professional and gourmet looking. But then again, professional and gourmet doesn’t really happen when it’s Monday night and you’re just trying to get dinner made after a long day at work. It’s those nights when dried basil will do just fine and you ask yourself, “how can I do this using just one pan…”

You see, really what I aim to do on this blog is give you recipes and good-for-you things you can and actually want to make. I try to keep the ingredient lists low with simple steps to follow and as minimal clean up as possible, which I’ll admit isn’t always the case but I’m getting better… right, Ross? 😉

The thing is, it’s easy to get wrapped up in making healthy eating complicated. There are lots of recipes out there calling for 15+ ingredients with things you’d have to go to three different grocery stores to find. But healthy isn’t exotic or expensive ingredients, or crazy complex recipes, or intimidating cooking methods. Healthy is actually quite simple. So simple in fact, it makes for boring and rather unappetizing photos (this tastes better than it looks, I promise!). So, while it may not be sexy or overly impressive to throw some meat and vegetables in a pan and call it a night, that’s really all there is to it sometimes – basic ingredients, cooked intuitively and enjoyed thoroughly.

So…I’ll do my best to continue bringing you just that so you can stop stressing about what’s for dinner and start enjoying the process… Ah, wouldn’t that be nice?

Get in the Groove
One of my favorite moments I see happen over and over again with my health coaching clients is when they find their groove in the kitchen and cooking becomes fun. Because that’s really what it’s all about – figuring out how to make the process of planning, shopping and cooking enjoyable and maybe even a little bit exciting (yes, it totally can be!) so you’ll want to do it all again next week. 

Check out these testimonials from some of my clients. They achieve some amazing results in a short amount of time once they start finding their groove. For the most part, it’s about figuring out what works with your routine and life and then consistently implementing it until it becomes just what you do. Then you get to do your thing while continuing to reap all those great benefits, like clearer skin, less stress, no more cravings…. seriously, check out these results. And know that you can do it too. If you want to talk more about exactly how, click here to schedule a free 30 minute strategy session with me

I hope you enjoy the fresh taste of spring in this no-frills, very real weeknight dish. Bon Appetit!

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spaghetti squash

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Spring Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup frozen peas (omit if strictly following the Paleo diet)
sea salt & black pepper
lemon
fresh basil leaves, sliced thin or torn (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place spaghetti squash on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until it’s slightly soft to the squeeze.

While the squash, bakes, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add onion and sauté 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, basil and oregano and continue cooking another minute until fragrant. Add ground meat and stir to combine with aromatics. When cooked through, transfer to a plate and set aside.

Place skillet back over medium heat and add another tbsp olive oil. Toss in asparagus and sauté until slightly soft. Return meat to the skillet and add peas. Continue cooking a few minutes until peas are warmed through.

When the squash is done, remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before handling. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard them (or you can save them to roast later for a healthy snack). Now, using a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash away from the skin with a raking motion. The squash will come out in strings, sort of like angel hair pasta.

Add spaghetti squash to skillet with meat and vegetables and mix it up. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon. And top with freshly torn basil… if you have it. 🙂

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Beef & Broccoli + Why I Went Paleo

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It took me a long time to come around before jumping on the Paleo bandwagon. And then once I did, it took me a longer time still to say the words about myself: I’d gone Paleo. Even now, writing this post, it’s hard seeing them in black and white, not gonna lie. You see, I’ve never been much of a fad follower when it comes to lifestyle habits like eating. And I get really turned off by all the hype around a trendy new diet – which is all I used to see Paleo as being. There’s all the books, magazines, shows, events… Diets are a billion dollar business and most end up being just a flash in the pan – you may see results in the short-term but eventually you end up going going back to the old habits and routine and you’re right back where you were months ago. I’ve always believed in balance, moderation, an abundance of good-for-you foods and no deprivation. That’s what works. Not a fad diet. Never mind the fact that I’m a health coach for crying out loud… I don’t do “diets”! That’s what my brain said anyway. But something else inside told me to look further and eventually I came to see that certain components of eating Paleo could really help me.

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One day a little over a year ago, I was home working on the couch because I was too stiff with joint pain to make it into the office and I caught an episode of Dr. Oz. He was interviewing a young girl who had gone Paleo as part of a treatment protocol for an autoimmune condition. She’d removed all grains, beans and legumes among other common inflammatory foods such as dairy and sugar and after a few months eating mostly vegetables and high quality animal protein she was living without pain and medications. With a little research, I found several other stories of healing while following a Paleo lifestyle. So, I hopped on and decided to try it for myself. I had already cut out common allergenic and inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy and corn, but up until then I regularly ate grains and beans and even though I wasn’t strictly vegetarian, I ate very little animal protein. So I traded my quinoa and chickpeas for grass-fed beef and bison, and of course continued to load up on a crazy amount of vegetables. Within weeks I noticed a difference in my stiffness and energy level. And as I’ve stayed on the diet, I’ve felt better and better.

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Against the Grain
If you’re saying to yourself now, “But I thought quinoa was healthy?!” You’re right it is. It’s not that these foods the Paleo diet eliminates are inherently unhealthy. When properly prepared and if you can tolerate them they can be extremely healthy for you. The problem is grains, beans and legumes can be particularly difficult to digest and rob the body of key nutrients like zinc. These foods have proteins called lectins and other anti-nutrients that help to preserve the plant and protect it from insects, molds, funguses out there in the wild. The lectins in the grain are like poison to whatever may threaten the life of the plant. To the plant though, we may as well be an insect. It’s poison affects us the same way, potentially depleting key nutrients we require for optimal health and immune function. This is one of the reasons why many with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, myself included, have had such success removing these foods from the diet.

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Paleo Pointers
The other thing to remember with Paleo, is the emphasis is really more on the vegetables than on the meat. I often see it the other way around so you want to make sure you’re filling your plate with high fiber vegetables like dark leafy greens and crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. The fiber helps keep things moving through the digestive tract (if you know what I mean) so you minimize the amount of time you have beef hanging out in your gut. High quality, organic, grass-fed animal protein is an efficient way to get key nutrients but the key is to keep it moving, you don’t want it sitting around for a few days in your intestine. That can just get downright unpleasant.

In hindsight, I don’t really know how I could have objected to a way of eating where you get to eat steak and all the vegetables you want. That’s not to say that I won’t go back to eating grains, beans and legumes one day. But when I do I’ll have this experience to help me be aware of how these foods affect my body.

Even though for a long time my mind rejected the idea of “Paleo,” a little voice inside me told me there might be something there worth pursuing. I suppose we all have to come around to taking the step that we know is best for us, but that for whatever reason our minds tell us is pointless or silly or not worth the effort.

Sometimes we just have to politely tell our mind to shut up so we can hear that tiny little voice inside that’s so easy to ignore. It’s usually much smarter than our brain and it seldom leads us wrong.

If you’re intrigued about Paleo or if you have any questions about the diet or how it can be used as part of a protocol for autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, I’d love to talk more about it with you. You can email me at megan@meganadamsbrown.com.

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Thinking About Making a Change?
A few posts ago I introduced my new No Pain, Everything to Gain: 90 Days to the Real You. Note: This is not a Paleo diet program. No Pain, Everything to Gain is designed to help you heal and recover from chronic issues such as joint pain, muscle aches, allergies, asthma, headaches, rashes, etc. Through the program you’ll make shifts in your diet and lifestyle to take control of your health so you can feel better and get back to living life on your terms.

I have three free 30 minute strategy sessions open this week. If you think trying something new might be just what you need, schedule your free 30 minute session here.

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

Ingredients

1 lb beef stew meat
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
salt & pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut in florets
1 tbsp peeled fresh ginger, grated
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

Place stew meat in a bowl and sprinkle with arrowroot, salt and pepper and toss to coat. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook the beef until browned on one side, about 1-2 minutes and transfer to a plate. Add broccoli, white part of scallions, ginger, and 3/4 cup of water to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook until broccoli turns bright green and begins to soften. Add beef back to the pan and cook until meat is cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in green part of scallions and lemon juice. Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you like a kick.

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The Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

anti-inflammatory smoothie

Last week I mentioned how I use food as medicine to help relieve pain and heal. When you approach food from this perspective, food is more than just calories or something to silence a growling tummy. It is information that tells our cells what to do and how to react. Imagine your body is like a computer and everything you put into it is a command on the keyboard. With the right combination of key strokes the computer will perform a given function. In a similar way our bodies’ output directly depends on the input.

Just like any other chemical substance you might put into your body – pharmaceuticals, over the counter drugs, other drugs, alcohol, etc. – the foods we eat create a chemical reaction just the same. And believe it or not, certain foods can have an effect that is just as strong, if not stronger, than one you can get from a bottle.

Take turmeric for example. I talk a lot about this root here because it has incredible healing properties. And several studies have shown it to be as effective as Ibuprofen at relieving pain. So I add it to a variety of foods and dishes when I cook to give myself a regular does of its healing benefits.

Super Power Spices 
Turmeric, along with ginger and cinnamon in this smoothie help to reduce inflammation and the pain associated with it. Here are a few more specific benefits of each:

Turmeric: One of the most powerful medicinal herbs that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medicine to treat a variety of ailments including arthritis, bruises and wounds. It also aids protein digestion, decongests the liver, acts as an antioxidant and can reduce menstrual pain.

Ginger: In addition to it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, ginger is used to ease an upset stomach, reduce nausea, improve digestion, clear congestion and warm up the body.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon can reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects and fight bacteria. It’s been shown to help regulate blood sugar, reduce LDL cholesterol, and help with hormonal balance that can improve fertility. It’s also high in calcium, iron and manganese.

pre-blend smoothie

Oh-Mega Dose
Another way to bring down inflammation is to make sure you’re getting plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids daily. Omega-3s reduce inflammation and work to balance the abundance of the pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids we tend to get so much more of in our diet. When the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 gets out of proportion and skews to the pro-inflammatory side, it lays the ground work for all sorts of problems from allergies to aches and pains to the more serious stuff. The key is to get plenty of Omega-3s from food and even supplements to maintain a proper balance. The hemp and flaxseed in this smoothie are two of the best plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. You can also get Omega-3s from salmon, walnuts and dark leafy greens.

So there you have it, five (count ’em – five!) superfood inflammation fighters crammed into one glass. That’s a mega dose of anti-inflammatories to help kick your pain to the curb and boost your immunity.

The Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp vanilla hemp protein powder
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
dash black pepper*
1/2 banana (preferably frozen)
handful ice cubes

Directions

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

 *black pepper is added to enhance the potency of turmeric and help it get into the bloodstream. A dash a black pepper enhances the benefits of turmeric 2,000 times. 

You Can Feel Better with Food
If the idea of using food as medicine intrigues you or if you’re curious about how you can start using food to feel better, I’d love to help.

Last week I introduced my new program, No Pain, Everything to Gain: 90 Days to the Real You. This program is about making shifts so you naturally crave and want to eat good-for-you foods. We’ll work together to identify problem foods and replace those with ones that make it easy to make the necessary changes for you to feel your absolute best. We’ll look at the complete picture to help you manage all the areas of your life that can affect your well being including stress, physical activity and emotional health to give you a sturdy foundation for long-term health and healing.

I’m offering five free 30 minute strategy sessions this week. If you’re interested in learning more about how small changes can make a big difference when it comes to dealing with chronic pain, email me at megan@meganadamsbrown.com.

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No Pain, Everything to Gain: How I Use Food as Medicine to Heal and How You Can Too

I usually try to stick to the food here, but today I want to share my story with you and explain how I ended up as a health coach and food blogger. You see, there comes a time for all of us when something hits and we realize if I keep eating, drinking, partying, stressing, worrying… fill in the blank (or all of the above) it’s not gonna be pretty. That time came for me at a much younger age than most – It started when I was 22 with severe joint pain and swelling. As time went on things got worse and then finally, that something hit me and I realized things had to change.

My body had been trying to tell me this all along but I just kept turning up the noise and tuning it out. Until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

So, I started to listen. And I began a journey of discovering exactly what it needed to heal and recover from the years of wear and tear that ended up creating a perfect storm for my immune system to go haywire. I read up on natural, holistic approaches and one of the first books I read was Dr. Andrew Weil’s Spontaneous Healing. In it he explains the body has an innate ability to heal itself when given what it needs.

That’s when it clicked. And I started making changes. It didn’t happen overnight. At this point my freezer was full of Lean Cuisines (I had a long way to go!). There were ups and downs, I resisted, I even threw in the towel a few times. But that voice would come back…

Eventually I learned how to tune into it and really listen. This was the key that changed everything.

For the first time in my life, I understood that what I ate directly affected how I felt.

It was food that got me back to 100% and feeling like myself again. I’m still on this journey – and always will be. I have days when I feel great and days that are not so great. But I’m in control; I have the power over my well being. And that is… well, everything!

In the middle of all of this I got my health coaching certification and started helping other people achieve their own health goals such as losing weight, having more energy, learning to cook, etc. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to be able to help others make their own health goals happen.

OK, so I’ve told you my story, now I want to hear yours…

If pain or discomfort is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy…

If you’ve ever thought, “If only I felt better, I would…”

If you think your body might be trying to tell you something too…

Le me help you tune in, find some relief and get back to feeling like the real you again.

I’m offering a new 90 day intensive program designed to help those struggling with chronic pain learn how to use food as medicine so you can feel like yourself again and live life to the fullest. It’s my No Pain, Everything to Gain Program: 90 Days to the Real You.

In this transformational program, you’ll look at food in an entirely new way. We go beyond diet and work on making shifts so you naturally crave good-for-you foods that make you feel vibrant and healthy. You’ll experiment with foods to figure out which ones support you and which ones may be causing you more harm than good. Additionally, you’ll learn strategies for balancing all the other elements in your life that can lead to pain and disease such as stress and emotional well being. Through this program, you can begin to heal from your pain and get back to feeling good in your body and living life on your terms.

The first step is a free 30 minute No Pain, Everything to Gain Strategy Session.

In this session we’ll talk about your health concerns, what it is you want to achieve and what might be standing in your way. And we’ll discuss how we can work together to get to where it is you want to be.

I have a limited number of strategy sessions available for this program and am offering three sessions this week. If you’re interested or curious, click here to book your free session.

I’ve learned a lot trying just about everything under the sun to feel better and help myself heal. It’s added up to a lot of time, money, ups, downs and runarounds but it’s all been worth it to know my body and to be able to give it what it needs to thrive.

My goal is for others to benefit from my trials, errors and successes so you can discover a simpler, more direct path to healing. I’m here to support you so you can follow through like you never have before and finally get your life back.

Are you ready to feel like the real you again?

Email me to schedule your free No Pain, Everything to Gain Strategy Session now.

Curious about the other programs I offer? Click here for more programs.

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Creamy Cauliflower and Leek Soup

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I know this isn’t your typical Hello, Spring! recipe for the first week of the new season… but spring sure is taking it’s sweet time to get here…. at least in Texas that is. The weather here lately has been down right erratic. 80 degrees one day. 30 degrees the next. And rainy. My god, so much rain. It has literally rained every weekend since we got to Austin. Five weekends of rain, people… in a city that’s supposedly in a drought. Some say we brought it with us. So to that I say, you’re welcome.

So what better to go with our rainy damp days here than a bowl of creamy delicious soup that just so happens to be dairy-free too. When cooked throughly and blended, cauliflower takes on a creamy, smooth consistency. It’s great to use for a non-dairy cream-based soup or even a mash, as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, etc. and like its cousins is full of antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C, K, folate and manganese. It’s the leeks in this soup that make it say, “Hello, Spring!” A leek is a spring onion, which like the rest of its allium family (and crucifers too) is rich in sulfur – one of the most abundant minerals in the body and it’s required for hundreds of processes that keep us alive and kicking. Leeks are also one of nature’s antibiotics with strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Eating alliums (onions and garlic) regularly can help to ward of infection and keep your immune system strong.

When preparing leeks, it’s the white part that you want to cook with. Cut off the green stems and remove the outer leaves. Cut off the end of the root and then slice again in half longways. Open up the leeks a bit to expose the inside pieces and rinse well under water. Cut again longways and then slice thinly. The thinner the strips, the faster they’ll cook.

Creamy Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (just the white part)
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and chopped
6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
salt
pepper

Directions

Place pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Saute the garlic and leeks about 3 minutes, until soft. Add cauliflower and saute for another minute. Add broth, then increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce back to medium and simmer, covered for about 20-30 minutes, until the cauliflower can be pierced easily with a fork.

Blend soup either using a blender or immersion blender until smooth and creamy, with no lumps. Return to pot and warm over low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley or chives.

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