Tag Archives: vegan

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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Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip and Pumpkin Week on Facebook

pumpkin almond butter dip

Calling all pumpkin lovers…. drop that pumpkin spice latte (for real, do you know what’s in that cup?!) and listen up. Do you want a real pumpkin fix? You see, there’s a big difference between “pumpkin-flavored” and the real deal. So this week I’m sharing my all time favorite pumpkin recipes and treats made with real pumpkin. And of course everything is full of other nutritious ingredients to do your body good this fall. All you have to do is go “like” the meggsalad page on Facebook to get a recipe a day in your feed. Click here to go there now.

First up is total crowd pleaser – serve this pumpkin almond butter dip as an appetizer or dessert, or make a bunch and store it in the fridge for the perfect after school snack. It sure beats that caramel dip that’s loaded with sugar and God knows what else. With this you get nutrition in your treat. – protein and calcium from the almond butter and almond milk, and a healthy dose of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C from beta-carotene rich pumpkin. Pumpkins are also full of fiber and are anti-inflammatory. See what I mean… real deal.

So don’t forget, get on over to the meggsalad page and click “like” or “follow” (whichever one it is…) so you can get four more real pumpkin recipes like this one this week. What are you waiting for? Go get that pumpkin now.

ingredients

pumpkin butter dip 2

Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until everything is well combined. Allow the mixture to come to a light boil and then reduce heat and simmer about five minutes.

Can be served immediately as a warm spread, or chilled in the fridge and served cool.

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Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto + The Veggie Spiralizer

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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…

spiralizer

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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4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

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I couldn’t let one of my favorite holidays go by without making something festive to contribute to the red, white and blue section of the blogosphere. This little treat is almost too simple to warrant a recipe or a post but really isn’t simple just what you need on a holiday that’s all about being outside with great friends and family? Then again, making something a little more challenging is always fun too.

These berry and coconut yogurt parfaits are just sweet enough for a light dessert and look festive without even trying. I’m really wishing all of our kitchen stuff wasn’t in storage right now because I have the most perfect cocktail glasses that these parfaits would look beautiful in. They’d also be cute in little 2 oz shot glasses if you happen to have a collection of those. Otherwise a small glass or clear plastic cup will do – I say glass or clear so that you can see the pretty layers.

Leftovers make a delicious and healthy breakfast too (love it when that happens), especially with some added ground flax and walnuts – one of my favorite yogurt breakfast combos that adds a hearty dose of omega-3s and fiber. Not that this treat isn’t healthy on it’s own. Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants to protect your DNA, and your skin and hair too. They’re good inflammation fighters as well.

blueberries

strawberries

Side note… On our California Highway 1 road trip last week we pulled over for some fresh-picked organic strawberries at a farm stand after driving past miles and miles of strawberry fields being hand picked by workers. Gotta say, I have a whole new appreciation for how we get these little gems. And my god were they the sweetest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had. Ever. I mean it; they were candy. Here I am in front of the “you-can-pick” olallieberries. We didn’t have time for that so we just took the pre-picked berries and hit the road in our Mustang convertible (hence the head scarf).

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coconut yogurt

These parfaits use coconut yogurt which is a fantastic alternative to traditional yogurts for those that can’t tolerate dairy or are trying to avoid cow’s milk products. It’s  sweeter and a lot less tart than dairy yogurts too which makes it good for desserts. I buy the So Delicious brand and opt for plain. Then you can flavor it however you want with fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries or peaches. It’s much fresher tasting that way and you can skip the added sugar and natural flavorings.

So there you have it – what just might be the simplest dessert for the 4th. I hope your Independence Day is as sweet, juicy and full of life as these little treats. Happy 4th!

parfaits

4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pint coconut yogurt
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, chopped

Directions

In a small glass or plastic cup, place a layer of berries (you can do either just strawberries or blueberries, or mix them together) then top with a layer of coconut yogurt. Then add another layer of berries and top with yogurt. Continue alternating layers until you reach the top and make the last layer of berries.

 

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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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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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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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Oh-Mega Apple Muffins

oh-mega apple muffins

We finally got the rest of our kitchen unpacked this weekend (woo hoo!). And I realized something; it’s amazing what you find you don’t need after your things have been in boxes for three weeks. In that short time I managed to get bitten by the minimalist bug. Yes, me the same person who spent the better part of last year on One Kings Lane shopping for bookshelf accessories. Times change and we change with them I suppose…

Anyway, the thought of having to pack a kitchen twice in a year inspired us to edit our gear to the bare essentials. And we managed to keep six boxes packed up in the garage – stored away and ready to go to our next stop in a year. That was, until I got the itch to make muffins… In my ruthlessness the baking accessories didn’t make the cut. But now they were essential. It was raining. We were cozy. And we just needed muffins. So back to the garage we went (I say we but let’s be honest, it was all Ross – he saved the day again!).

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While he hunted pans I took to the pantry to see what I could possibly turn into a muffin worth eating. Our pantry staples are in need of replenishment but with a little creativity I was a able to scrounge up a pretty ingenious combo if I do say so myself.

Oh-Mega Dose of Omega-3s
Crammed into these muffins are the three top plant-based sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids – flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. What are Omega-3s you ask? They help regulate inflammation in the body and they’re called “essential” because we must get them from our diet – our bodies cannot make them on their own. The challenge with Omega-3s is that they’re sort of scarce in our food supply – you have to know where to look to find them and then make sure you’re eating those foods, like the ingredients mentioned here, plus salmon, sardines and dark leafy greens regularly.

To make matters even more complicated, Omega-3 has an essential fatty acid cousin, Omega-6. The two work together like two sides of a coin. While Omega-3 works to decrease inflammation, Omega 6 promotes it. In the body they perform a sort of balancing act to protect our cells; we need both in the right ratio. But the problem is most of us are getting loads more Omega-6 in our diet than Omega-3 (some 14-25x more) so we’re skewed toward the inflammatory side, which over the long term is not good. Omega-6s are abundant in things like nuts, seeds, grains, cooking oils and out of the box snacks.

You can keep your Omega-6 intake in check by cutting back on the processed foods and opting for olive oil over oils like soy, corn and vegetable. Grass fed meats are also less inflammatory because the animals are getting more Omega-3s from the grass rather than more Omega-6s from grains and seeds. And of course you can get your fill the vegetarian way with the flax, chia and walnuts in these muffins. Wild salmon is a sure bet source as well.

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The Sweetest Thing
You know what else causes inflammation? Sugar. So it would be silly to cancel out all the great inflammation fighting benefits we’ve got going on here by adding something that’s going to take away from that, am I right? Not to worry, the only thing sweetening the sauce here is fruit – no refined sugar, or unrefined for that matter either. Just apples. And you know what they say about apples….

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Oh-Mega Apple Muffins

Ingredients

3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup apple sauce (2 individual packs)
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried coconut, shredded
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 small apple, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees. In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda and salt and whisk until evenly distributed. Add applesauce, melted coconut oil and water and stir to mix. Stir in walnuts, coconut, chia seeds and apple. If batter seems dry or too flaky, add a bit more water and stir/mash until batter holds together.

Spoon batter into lined muffin pan and bake at 315 for 40-45 minutes. Cool before serving.

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The Trick to Making a Delicious Kale Salad

salad plate

How do you really feel about kale?

If you’re making a bitter face after reading that sentence, I understand. The No. 1 complaint I hear about kale is that it’s soooo bitter. And you’re right. Eaten completely raw the stuff is absolutely disgusting. There, I said it. But when kale is properly prepared, that bitterness mellows and can even (dare I say) turn slightly sweet, and that, my friends, is when kale becomes absolutely delicious!

If you take nothing else away from this post know this: Eating healthy does not mean force feeding yourself bitter green things. No one does that. Or at least no one does that for more than a day or two without coming back to reality. I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to kale beyond it’s bitter rap. The trick is just knowing how to prepare it.

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know chopping kale in a food processor sort of smells like freshly cut grass? It does… but if your salad tastes like your lawn there is a problem…

chop greens

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Bitter is Better
The darker the green, the more bitter the taste. But don’t let that scare you. Dark leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen. They help detoxify, purify the blood, oxygenate your cells and can even lift your spirit. All these benefits and yet dark leafy greens have so many of us stumped. Once you know how to prepare them though, they’re easy to add to any meal.

Banish the Bitter
Now that we’ve appreciated bitterness for what it means nutritiously, let’s talk about how to get rid of it. Kale is a hearty plant with a tough exterior so that it can endure the harsh winter months. To enjoy it raw, you have to get it to soften, because behind that tough exterior is just a sweet vegetable. It’s all in the approach. And it starts with lemon. The acid in lemon counters the bitter flavor and helps to break down the leaves. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1 ratio and season with salt and pepper to make a simple dressing. Pour dressing over the chopped greens and (this is the real trick) get in there with your hands and massage the kale. You read right… massage – deep-tissue style – both hands. in there. working it. This breaks down the cellulose structure of the plant so that it wilts and softens. Pay attention as you massage and notice the leaves turn a more brilliant green and shrink up a bit. And just like that the kale is transformed from lawn clippings to a delicious salad…. Magic!

dressing

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add nuts and fruit

Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
1-2 lemons
1/8 cup EVOO
salt & pepper
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, etc.)

Directions

Wash kale well and tear leaves away from stem. Tear leaves into pieces and place in food processor or blender to chop. Pulse until  finely chopped (you’ll have to do this part in a few batches). Transfer to a large bowl.

Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine juice from lemons and EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well until combined. Pour over kale and massage the dressing into the greens using your hands.

Mix in choice of nuts, fruit or other salad toppings. If kale still tastes bitter, add more lemon and continue to massage until no longer bitter.

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Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)

pumpkin granola

Are you tired of pumpkin yet? Ya, me neither.

You know what I am tired of though… my Pinterest feed showing me delicious looking pumpkin treats that I can’t eat. I swear if I see that two ingredient pumpkin brownie recipe one more time…

So, instead of taking my frustration out on the iPad, I went to the kitchen – determined to partake in the pumpkin extravaganza. And also contribute a little pumpkin something to the Internet for all us gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free folks. So here goes… grain-free granola that puts that brownie in it’s place.

ingredients

The recipe starts with canned or boxed pumpkin, but be sure to get the pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie (sugar). Combine pumpkin with the applesauce (for sweetness), vanilla, and spices.

mix ingredients

Then mix in the nuts, seeds and coconut and stir to coat everything evenly with the wet ingredients. I used almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds, but you can really use whatever you want – walnuts would be good too, or cashews…

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Spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, smoothing evenly to cover the tray. Pop in the oven and bake 40-50 minutes – stirring and respreading about half way through the bake time. When browned and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool and harden. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Snack by the handful or bowl and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)

Ingredients

1/2 can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmetg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Directions

In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients and mix well. Add in the nuts/seeds and coconut and stir until they are evenly coated with the wet ingredients.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the granola mixture so it covers the sheet evenly.

Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Check granola at half way point and move around to help it cook evenly. After baking, allow to cool and harden.

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