Roasted Red Pepper Recipe

I used to only eat roasted red peppers at restaurants. They kind of seemed like a “gourmet” ingredient, and I never even thought about making them at home. Turns out, they are really easy to make! I love roasted vegetables because the roasting process enhances the flavors of the vegetables. Roasted red peppers are a great addition to salads, wraps, sandwiches, homemade hummus, homemade pesto or as a filling in tamales.

I made them in the oven under the broiler. It only takes about 10 minutes to cook and 30 minutes to cool.

Here is how it’s done!

  1. Turn oven on to the “broil” setting. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil
  2. Rinse red peppers and pat dry. Cut around the stem then pull it out. Cut the pepper in half (from top to bottom- length wise). Cut out all the white parts and remove the seeds. If some of the seeds are sticking, I like to run the pepper under cold water to get rid of them.
  3. With your hands or a knife, flatten each half-pepper and place them peel side up on the baking sheet.
  4. Place under broiler for 8-10 minutes or until the pepper is fully charred. (Don’t worry, we will remove the skin so it won’t look so ugly!) You may need to rotate the peppers half-way through to make sure that they get charred evenly.
Ugly... I know! But they won't look like this at the end.

Ugly… I know! But they won’t look like this when at the end.

5. Take the peppers out of the oven, wrap them in the tinfoil. Let sit for 30 minutes

6. Peel the skin off the peppers with your hands or a knife. Then chop and serve!

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What Kind Of Milk Do You Put In Your Daily Coffee?

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Many coffee shops have started carrying alternatives to Cow’s milk. Until recently, Soy Milk was the the only alternative to milk that was offered. Now, you might find options like Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. (How exciting!) You might be curious as to why you would switch over to a milk-alternative if you are not lactose intolerant. Well, I am here to give you 2 nutritional reasons why you might consider making the switch.

1. Most coffee shops do not carry Organic Milk. You may know my recommendations already, however, if you haven’t heard me say this before… “If there is one thing that you should choose to buy Organic, it should be animal products.” Unfortunately, in this country, most of the cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones. That means that consuming non-organic dairy on a daily basis exposes you to high levels of hormones which in turn disrupts your natural hormone levels. By the way, you do not have to be a female to experience changes in your hormones! Shifts in our food system are playing a big role in the increased infertility levels, estrogen dominance in both males and females, and fluctuations in testosterone levels.

2. Dairy is one of the top 7 food sensitivities. That means that dairy can still be negatively affecting your health even if you are no “allergic” to it. If you are “sensitive” to dairy, you may experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, mucus (flem, snot, congestion), itchy throat, eczema or other skin conditions.

Now you might ask, what dairy-alternatives do I recommend?

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I suggest choosing unsweetened Almond Milk and unsweetened Coconut Milk. (Hemp Milk and Rice Milk and Cashew Milk are also good options but they are not offered at coffee shops..yet) If you are getting them at a coffee shop, they may only have the sweetened version. In that case, you may want to consider adding less sweetener or no sweetener at all.

I also recommend steering clear of Soy Milk. Soy is one of the most commonly genetically-modified crops, so it is best to choose organic soy or soy that is marked “non-GMO” when you can. Most coffee shops do not offer organic or non-GMO soy milk. Similar to Cow’s milk, Soy can enhance estrogen levels in the body. Soy is also on the top 7 Most Common Food Sensitivities list.

When you first switch over to a dairy-alternative, it is clearly not going to taste exactly the same as the milk that you have been drinking for years. However, if you give it a chance for at least 1 week, you will begin to adjust to the new flavor. I can speak from personal experience, it does not taste “bad,” it just tastes “different” at first.

Gluten-Free White Chocolate Chip Cookies- The Perfect Holiday Treat

I really don’t make cookies often. That’s because if I make them, I end up eating all of them way too quickly. However, this holiday season I decided to treat myself.

One of the things that I have learned along my health journey is that the act of indulging in treats can be either really rewarding or very guilt-provoking. It really depends on what the remainder of your diet looks like. I have figured out my own balance of eating healthy 80-90% of the time and allowing myself a treat  10-20% of the time. Now, when I eat a treat, I am able to enjoy every bite, without feeling guilty about it.

Another aspect that helps reduce the “guilt factor” is the selection of ingredients I choose to bake with. By using natural ingredients, we I am choosing to avoid the conventional ingredients that cause inflammation in the body. Conventional ingredients are stripped of 90% of the nutrients during the refining process, whereas natural ingredients still contain valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber content.

Here are the ingredients that I substituted in this recipe:

  • a blend of almond flour & coconut flour instead of white or whole wheat flour
  • coconut oil instead of vegetable oil
  • organic raw honey instead of white sugar

Gluten-Free White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey, melted
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1/3 cup organic white chocolate chip cookies

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F degrees.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl: almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients together: honey, coconut oil, vanilla, egg. Mix well.
  4. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips until spread throughout the batter evenly.
  6. On a large parchment lined baking sheet, scoop out 1 Tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Leave room for cookies to spread. (You will need to use 2 baking sheets if you are using small baking sheets)
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bottom of cookies are cooked.
  8. Set out on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings 24

If you are looking for more baking recipes that use natural ingredients, take a look at some of my favorite blogs:

www.elanaspantry.com

www.againstallgrains.com

www.civilizedcavemancooking.com

Homemade Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free)

I am not much of a baker. Yet for some reason, this pumpkin bread recipe from the Comfy Belly blog, was calling my name yesterday (aka the first day of fall). It is such an easy recipe to make and the spices really won my tastebuds over.

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Oftentimes gluten-free bread has a chalky or crumbled texture. This recipe definitely breaks that stereo type. The pumpkin puree keeps the texture nice and fluffy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp  each:
sea salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl, whisk.
3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well (no clumps)
5. Fold in walnuts
6. Using organic butter or melted coconut oil , grease a bread pan. Pour mixture into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until outside is brown.) When it’s done, a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

If you live in San Diego and are looking for some healthy holiday recipes, join me for my Healthy Holiday Cooking Series. These classes are a great way to learn how to cook with healthier ingredients. We will discuss the benefits of using natural sweeteners and flours and how to improve your nutrition during this holiday season.

So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)

Summer Fruits – Affect on Blood Sugar and Weight Loss

Going into summer, we are surrounded by a lot of amazing, fresh, and flavorful fruit. It is good to know that  some fruits have a larger impact on your blood sugar than others.

Fruits in general have a high mineral content, thus they are important to incorporate into the diet.

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The glycemic index is a scale that measures how fast sugar for various foods releases into the blood stream. Foods that are high on the glycemic index scale will give us a quick release of energy but they will be followed by a crash in blood sugar. Whereas, foods that are lower on the glycemic index scale will have a less dramatic affect on blood sugar. We want to limit foods in our diet that are rated higher on the glycemic index.

  • High= 71-100.
  • Medium = 50-70.
  • Low = < 50

Fruits that are low on the glycemic index scale

  • Apples – 39
  • Berries- low to mid 20s
  • Cherries- 22
  • Grapefruit – 25
  • Figs- 35
  • Oranges- 40
  • Peach- 42
  • Pears- 38

Fruits that are medium-high on the glycemic index scale

  • Mangos- 55
  • Pineapples- 66
  • Kiwi- 52
  • Bananas- 55 (high on glycemic index but a good energy source- better than tropical fruits
  • Cantaloupe Melon- 65
  • Watermelon- 72

It is interesting to compare natural sugars to processed sugars on the glycemic index scale. Remember that fruits, vegetables and whole grains are much better options than processed carbohydrates. Don’t be scared of fruit! Eat it in moderation.

You can search for the Glycemic index of other carbohydrates on the Harvard Health Publications website.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Carbohydrates 101

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If your goals are weight loss, controlling diabetes or managing blood sugar for hypertension, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, be sure to place emphasis on quality carbohydrates:

-natural (vs. processed)
-high-fiber
-unrefined
– and unprocessed

Through the Atkins diet and several other nutrition trends, we have become afraid of carbohydrates. Often times we believe that carbohydrates are THE answer to weight loss and managing blood sugar. The problem is that when you cut them out completely the body craves more sugar for energy, leading us right back to the carbohydrates we have been desperately trying to avoid. Clearly, cutting out all carbohydrates or severely limiting carbohydrate intake is NOT “the” answer.

Think of carbohydrates as your fuel. They provide the body with energy. Rather than cutting out them out completely (which has proven to be extremely harmful to health), choose better quality carbohydrates and moderate your portion size. Another key nutrition concept-that will help regulate the affect of carbohydrates on the body- is to consume fiber, fats and protein with carbohydrates as opposed to eating the carbohydrate on its own.

Here are some of my favorite “healthy carbs”:

  • apples
  • Berries
  • cherries (in season now!)
  • grapefruit (also in season now!)
  • beets
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • adzuki beans

When it comes to your health, these choices far surpass the options for the processed white sugar and white flour products such as pizza and pasta.

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Notice: All the Same Color = Low Nutrients

The amount you consume depends on your body type, metabolism and fitness level however, about 1/2 cup of the healthy carbohydrate choices listed above, is a good average serving size.

Remember that you do not —and actually should not– completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Make good choices, work on moderate portion sizes and create a balanced diet.

 

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