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!

Advertisements

Homemade Organic Grass-fed Burgers (only $8!)

The restaurant industry in San Diego is booming. In the past couple of years, several new “gourmet” burger restaurants have popped up; To name a few, Burger Lounge, the Counter, Eureka. Some of these restaurants have grass-fed burgers and others have “vegetarian-fed” burgers (whatever that means lol).

I love that restaurants are working with the “farm-table” concept and that they are using more sustainable animal meat. However, most restaurants still use cheap industrial seed oils.  Also, the price per burger is pretty expensive with tax, tip, plus add-ons like avocado and fries. On a personal note, when I eat at restaurants, I tend to eat bigger portions than I do at home. I’m totally okay with occasionally spending the money and eating at restaurants but on a weekly basis I prefer to make HOMEMADE BURGERS.

Last night, we had some friends over for dinner. I made these wowmazing homemade burgers and get this…. With all the toppings and sides they cost around $8 per person. As you can see in the picture below, this $8 meal contained: organic grass-fed patties, avocado, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, whole wheat bun (or you can go naked style with no bun- thats how I roll) and some delicious crispy potatoes.

photo-66

Oh and did I forget to tell you that the burgers only take 20 minutes?!

Homemade Burger Recipe

Ingredients

  • Optional toppings/ sides: sweet potato fries, potato crisps, spinach, cheese, avocado, sprouts, sautéed mushrooms, roasted peppers
  • 1 lb organic ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, Ghee, or Organic Tea Seed Oil

Method

  1. Prep any burger toppings/ sides prior to cooking the burgers.
  2. Turn on oven to 350F degrees.
  3. Place ground beef, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in mixing bowl. Mix together thoroughly with your hands.
  4. Break the beef mixture into quarters and then form each quarter into a patty with your hands. You don’t want the burgers to be too thick
  5. Pre-heat your grill-pan or cast-iron skillet to a medium-high heat. Melt ghee or coconut oil.
  6. Place burgers on the pan for 3 minutes or until the bottom is browned. Then flip the burgers and cook for another 2 minutes. Take a knife and cut into the middle of one burger. Peak inside to see if the burger is cooked through. If not, then place the burgers in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until cooked to your desired temperature. (We like ours cooked “medium” so we only leave them in the oven for 1-2 minutes)

Serves 4

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

photo-66

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?

images-7

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

photo-66

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

Spaghetti Squash With Garlic and Butter Sauce

Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite winter dishes. It is a great gluten-free alternative to regular or whole wheat pasta. Unlike pasta, spaghetti squash is considered a “whole food,” that means that it is unprocessed, more easily digested, and still has all of it’s nutrients.  One other benefit to spaghetti squash is that it is significantly lower in carbohydrates than pasta.

Here is a simple spaghetti squash recipe for you to try. There are some additional suggestions for recipe variations below.

baked-spaghetti-squash-garlic-butter-4574

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Spaghetti squash
  • 1.5 Tablespoons organic butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp chili flakes (optional)

Directions for Roasted Spaghetti Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half (long-way from top to bottom) and scrape out the seeds.
  3. In a large glass baking dish, pour enough water to cover the bottom of the dish until there as ¼ or ½ inch of water.
  4. Place spaghetti squash halves face down in the dish and cover with tin foil.
  5. Bake in the over for 35-45 minutes– until the squash is easy to grate with a fork.
  6. Run a fork down the squash to create “spaghetti-like” strings.

Saute

  1. In a medium pan, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add roasted spaghetti squash to the pan and mix until well-incorporated and heated through. Season with salt and pepper (and optional chili flakes)

Serves 2-3

Chef recommendations

  • Plate the spaghetti squash sauté and add a piece of Wild Tilapia or Grilled chicken
  • Option to add Italian spices like oregano, basil and/or thyme
  • Add a homemade pesto or tomato sauce to the Spaghetti squash

4 Ways to Stop Dieting and Start Achieving Your Goals

There are over 150 diets to choose from. Just step into the Health and Wellness section in Barnes and Nobel, you will be overwhelmed with options. Or, type the word “diet” into the Google search bar, you could be surfing the web for weeks.

Researchers at UCLA found that “People on diets typically lose 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight in the first six months. However, at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher, they said.”

Unknown-1

The truth is: “there is no diet that works for everyone who tries it.”

So what is the answer? How do we figure out what to eat?

1. Eat REAL food- If there is one thing that we can be sure of, the answer to health and weight loss is not in the latest “diet product” or packaged food option. If you want to lose weight, you must feed your body with real foods that come from the earth.

2. Keep a food journal– a food journal is a great short-term tool to asses if how we are eating is working for our bodies. I suggest keeping a food journal for 1-2 weeks whenever you are trying a new way of eating.

  • A good food journal will include: Date, time, type of food, amount of food, how you felt after you ate it, how you felt 1 hour later and a summary at the end of each day.

3. Consistency– It takes a few weeks for the body to adjust to changes. Sometimes you may feel worse before you feel better. Give yourself at least 3 weeks to test if your new method is working.

4. Don’t use a scale! – This may sound counter intuitive, however, the scale can really hold you back from reaching your goals. The best way to tell if you are losing weight is by paying attention to how your clothes fit. Since muscle weighs more than fat, the number on the scale might not change.

You know you are eating right for your body if:

  1. You have adequate energy throughout the day
  2. You feel satisfied (full) for at least 3 hours after you eat
  3. Your mood is stable
  4. You can sleep through the night
  5. You maintain a comfortable weight (not losing or gaining too much)

One way to speed up the process is to work with a Holistic Nutritionist or a Holistic Health Coach. Making changes can be challenging and frustrating. Working with a practitioner is a good way to:

  • learn more accurate nutrition information through surveys and testing
  • create a solid “game plan”
  • to follow through with the changes you have always wanted to make.

If you live in San Diego and would like to schedule a free 20 minute consultation,  you can contact me at nourishedbalance@gmail.com

What You NEED to Know about Plastic Water Bottles

While plastic water bottles may seem convenient and inexpensive, there are definitely a few reasons to reconsider your water drinking habits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plastic water bottles contain BPA (Bisphenol A), which is also used in compact disks and the lining of cans. A 2007 report by the organization Environment California, showed that when heated, “five popular brands of BPA containing plastic baby bottles leached high levels of bisphenol A.”

Many plastic water bottles are left in the sun or in a hot environment upon transport. When the water bottle is heated slightly, there is a high chance of BPA leaching into the water. A lot of people also leave their water bottles in the car during the day. This is a HUGE no no.

In a study of lab rats, BPA exposure was linked to changes in the brain and reproductive system. There is also concern that BPA may lead to increased risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and even early puberty.

The problem is that overall bottled water consumption is increasing. “The new BMC data show that the overall consumption of bottled water increased by 6.2 percent and bottled water sales were up 6.7 percent.” There are huge health and environmental concerns with the continuous rise in bottled water consumption.

I used to drink out of plastic water bottles. I now have an in-home water filtration system and use a reusable water bottle. The best options for reusable water bottles are:

lifefactory_22oz_turqflip_lg_matte_870_1110_matte_160_200

The benefits of carrying a reusable water bottle with you is that you will drink more water and there is no chance of BPA contamination. Plus, you will be saving lots of $$!!!

“Bottled Water Costs!  Assuming you buy cheapo bottled water Walmart at $10.88 per case / 24 x .5 Liters. This equals $0.45 per bottle of water. For a family of 4 who each drink two bottles of water per day = 8 btl x .45 = $3.60 per day. Per year that totals = $1,314.00,  so your 5 year total is $1,314.00 x 5 = $6,570.00″

As you can see, plastic water bottles are not your best option. I recommend installing a water filtration system to your faucet at home and at work and drinking out of reusable BPA-free water bottles.

Click here if you are interested in finding out the best water filtration system options.