Recipe: Chocolate Banana Smoothie

I am in the middle of taking the October Unprocessed Challenge (a challenge to eat only REAL foods for the entire month of October.)  I have been drinking lots of smoothies this month, and I have discovered a new one that I love!  This  smoothie tastes great, and it’s made with ingredients I usually always have on hand.  So, when I plan to make another smoothie and discover that I’m out of yogurt or berries, this is usually what I’ve been going to.  It tastes a lot like chocolate milk to me, only without the added sugar!

chocolate-banana-smoothie-logo

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz milk (cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk…use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (preferably raw & local)
  • 2 Ripened Bananas, frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

 

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

This makes approximately 16 oz (2 servings)

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Recipe: Roasted Broccoli

May 16, 2014 Roasted Broccoli Stacy LovesI am always trying to get more vegetables and Superfoods into my diet.  Broccoli is a Superfood and cancer-fighting food, and roasted broccoli has become one of my favorite foods…especially this recipe.

I’m not very motivated when it comes to washing, cutting, preparing, and cooking vegetables, especially since I’m usually the only one in my family who will eat them.  Unfortunately, more vegetables rot in my refrigerator than I would like.  I have good intentions when I’m at the grocery store, but unless I buy them for a specific purpose, I usually forget about them and they sit there until I get the motivation to do something with them.  Or they rot.  And it really bothers me when I have to throw food away.

So, I was really excited when I first discovered this super-easy recipe for roasted broccoli last year.  I make this often, and oftentimes I eat the entire thing in one sitting.  It is THAT good!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Place broccoli, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper in a ziploc bag and shake.  Alternatively, place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread out on baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.  Bake about 30 minutes.

Broccoli will be crunchy and delicious!  If desired, squeeze lemon over broccoli.  This is optional, but I do this because I love anything with lemon.  Enjoy!

Find my original post of this recipe on my blog Journey to Complete Wellness.

Our Easter Tradition: Fruit Shaped Bunny

I love traditions!  I especially love creating new traditions and making wonderful memories with my family.  This fruit salad has become one of our favorite Easter traditions.  We made it last year for the first time, and my daughters couldn’t wait to make it again this year.  It was the perfect healthy snack to balance out all the Easter candy they filled up on all day.  What I love best of all is that they devoured it just as fast as the Easter candy!  It is a healthy and fun tradition that I will be happy to continue each year.  This is how my girls made it, but feel free to use your own creativity and use the fruit you like best and have on hand.

Fruit Shaped Bunny Recipe Our Easter TraditionIngredients

  • 1 pineapple, cored and sliced into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 pounds strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and then cut in half and sliced into semicircles
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cheese stick
  • block of white cheese (we used sharp cheddar) OR a slice of pear (for teeth)

Directions

  1. In a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish, add the blueberries to the bottom inch of the pan.
  2. Next, shape the pineapple so there are two bunny ears and a round/oval head.  We discovered that the smaller the pineapple bits, the easier it was to shape.  Ours probably should have been a little smaller, but my girls were happy with the way it came out so I didn’t want to re-do their work.
  3. Outline the bunny with the strawberries (or whatever other fruit you have a lot of).
  4. Add a few blueberries for each eye.
  5. Use one quarter of a strawberry for the nose.  Break up the string cheese into six strings.  Add 3 whiskers on each side of the nose.
  6. Use kiwi (or fruit of your choice) to add on top of the ears.  Again, the smaller the bits of fruit, the easier it is to shape.  I think ours could have been smaller, but the girls were happy with the way it came out so I didn’t interfere.
  7. Finally, cut two small strips from the block of cheese to make the teeth (or you could use pears or anything else white and edible that could be shaped to look like teeth.
  8. Enjoy!! 🙂

Here is our bunny from last year:

April 19, 2014 easter bunny fruit 2014

Feel free to get creative and enjoy the process!  Who knows, maybe it will become one of your new favorite Easter traditions, too! 🙂

10 Tips to Begin Eating Healthier

10 tips to begin eating healthier2If eating healthier is one of your goals but you don’t know where to begin, I will share some tips that have helped me along in my journey to eating more REAL foods and minimizing the amount of processed foods in my diet.

What IS a REAL Food?

Any food that comes from nature and can be purchased without a label is a REAL food (fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, seeds, etc.)  REAL foods will help to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs.  Ideally, you want to strive to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Foods that have been packaged usually have been processed in some way, so you want to choose REAL foods without packaging whenever possible.  Many REAL foods are also labeled as SUPERFOODS.  I have discovered this excellent resource that lists 50 Superfoods and their benefits.  It also suggests healthy recipes to help you integrate these SUPERFOODS into your everyday diet.  I always find it helpful to focus on the foods I should be eating rather than those I should not be eating, so I highly recommend checking out that list from skinnyms.com and printing it for future reference.  Once you know which foods are ideal to eat, here are some tips to help you incorporate those foods and to minimize the amount of highly processed foods in your diet.

1.  Learn to Read Ingredient Labels.  If you’re striving to eat healthier, this is the first step I would recommend.   If you prefer more variety in your diet than just foods without a label, it is very important to learn to read the ingredient labels on your foods.  The nutritional information label can sometimes be helpful, but I think it is much more important to look at the ingredients.  If there is anything on a label that you cannot pronounce or you don’t know what it is or where it comes from, you most likely do not want this food to be a part of your regular diet.  The same thing goes for foods with a long list of ingredients.  When comparing processed foods, you generally want to choose the product with the fewest number of ingredients.  A few ingredients you particularly want to avoid include corn syrups, artificial colors and flavors, and hydrogenated oils.  Also, be weary of any foods that make health claims on their packaging.  For example, I always choose the full fat versions of foods rather than those with the “Fat Free” label.  “Fat Free” foods are often a poor choice because additional ingredients generally need to be added to the product to make the food taste good once the fat is removed.  Here is an excellent video from 100 Days of Real Food to help you learn to read ingredient labels.

2.  Clean out your kitchen/pantry.  If your goal is to eat healthier, it would be a good idea to remove all the unhealthy foods from your home.  Otherwise, you will be tempted each time you open the pantry.  Take everything off your shelves.  Discard anything that is expired.  Donate anything that you don’t plan to use before the expiration date, and donate all highly processed foods (those with a long list of ingredients or a lot of unpronounceable ingredients.)  Oftentimes, we eat food just because it is there.  If a food is not in your house, it will be that much more difficult for you to eat it.  If you get a strong craving something, you will have to go out of your way to get it.

3.  Don’t buy processed foods.  It all starts in the supermarket.  Don’t buy the junk foods.  Again, if you don’t bring it into your house, you can’t eat it. You may have heard these food shopping tips before, but they are worth repeating:  don’t shop when you are hungry, go prepared with a shopping list and DO NOT stray from the list, and stay on the outer perimeter of the supermarket.  The inside aisles mostly contain the processed foods.  If at all possible, go shopping without the kids.  Mine certainly have a way of getting me to buy unnecessary (and often unhealthy) items that are not on my list.  Also, keep in mind that when you buy a food item, you are voting with your dollar.  Vote for to support REAL, healthy foods!

4.  Find Healthy Replacements.  Find healthier replacements for foods you commonly eat.  For example, use REAL butter instead of margarine, use coconut oil instead of canola oil, make your own popcorn instead of buying bagged microwave popcorn, make your own salad dressing instead of the store-bought dressings loaded with high fructose corn syrups, or even start by making your own cookies instead of buying store-bought cookies loaded with trans-fats.

5.  Become accountable.  Find a buddy who is also interested in eating healthier, or join a support group on social media for people who share a common goal with you.  Share recipes and support each other,   For example, the 100 Days of Real Food Mini Pledge Program group on Facebook will help you cut out processed foods in 14 weeks.  Members share recipes and tips, and they encourage and support each other with their struggles throughout the challenge. I am also a member of the October Unprocessed community, which is also wonderful and supportive.  October Unprocessed is a challenge I participated in for the past two years, and the goal is to go through the entire month of October without eating any processed foods.  The challenge was a very inspiring, eye-opening, and educational experience for me.  In fact, that is what inspired me to begin this blog! 🙂  I would encourage everyone to participate in October Unprocessed 2015, but don’t wait until then to begin eating healthy.  You can start taking small steps today!

6.  Track your progress with a blog or journal, or track your nutrition through an app such as MyFitnessPal.  For more ideas on how to track your progress, check out my previous post 5 Tools to Track your health and Fitness Goals.

7.  Get into the habit of making a smoothie for breakfast every day.  A smoothie (or green smoothie if you’re a little more adventurous) is a nutritious way to start the day and to help you get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and it will keep you full until lunch.  Not sure how?  Here’s one of my favorite recipes.  Adapt it to your liking with your favorite fruits and vegetables.  There are so many different combinations you can try!  Visit Simple Green Smoothies for more smoothie recipes and tips.

My daily smoothie is something I look forward to, and I am so happy I have implemented it into my daily routine and made it a habit.  Give it a try, and you may even find that it is an easy way to get more fruits and vegetables into your kid’s diets!

8.  Don’t completely deprive yourself of the foods you love.  Start slow.  Try to find healthier replacements to satisfy your cravings.  If you love chocolate, maybe you could opt for a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of a full candy bar.  Just be careful.  It is still sugar, and sugar is HIGHLY addictive. Once you start eating it, you will want more.

9.  Become educated.  Learn WHAT you are eating and WHERE it is coming from.  There are some excellent books and food documentaries on this topic.  Click the links for my reviews on the food documentaries Food, Inc, What’s on Your Plate?, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and Fed Up.  If you’re interested in learning about the source of your food, some excellent books I have found on this topic include The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Animal Vegetable Miracle also contains some wonderful recipes, and it will teach you how to eat seasonally and how to preserve your food so you can eat from your garden or local farm stand year-round.  I have found all of these books and movies to be inspirational, and some of them were even life-changing for me!

10.  Find REAL food recipes.  Visit my Recipe page on Journey to Complete Wellness for my favorite REAL food recipes, or check out the extensive list of REAL food recipes on 100 Days of Real Food.

Please keep in mind that this journey to a lifestyle of eating REAL foods is a process.  Everyone does it at their own pace.  I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’ve come a long way from the way I used to eat, but I have still have SO far to go.  I still eat plenty of junk food (as you might see from some of my favorite recipes on my blog Stacy Loves), but when I do, I try my best to choose the healthiest options and make it myself when I can.  As with everything in life, I believe balance in all areas is the key to optimal health.  Good luck! 🙂

**This post was also published on my blog Journey to Complete Wellness.

Recipe: Pate Chinois (Shepard’s Pie)

Pate Chinois Stacy Loves

Pate Chinois (or Shepard’s Pie as it is called in America) is a meal I grew up with in my French-Canadian family.  It is easy to make, it is inexpensive, and it is delicious!  As a child, my mother used to make it every week.  Of course, as a child I used to complain about it, but when I went off to college and had to live on cafeteria food that is when I really started to appreciate it.  After I graduated college and moved in with some roommates, I used to make it for them all the time because they loved it, too.  And now, I make it for my family (although not every week).  My 12-year-old loves it, but my 10-year-old and 7-year-old do not.  Hopefully they will appreciate it once they are grown, too, and they’ll be making it for their own families. 🙂

Pate Chinois is a meal that can be easily customized.  Some people add mushrooms, or tomatoes, or peppers, etc.  My husband likes to add celery when he makes it.  Here is my version:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (for mashed potatoes)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons milk (approximately – for mashed potatoes)
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (for sauteeing onions)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted (to top potatoes)

Instructions

  1. Boil potatoes until fork-tender.  Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes, salt and pepper (to taste), 2 Tablespoons butter, and milk with an electric mixer until creamy.
  3. In a large skillet, saute onion in coconut oil or butter until softened.
  4. Add ground beef to the skillet and cook until browned.  Drain if necessary.
  5. In a 9×5 loaf pan, mix ground beef and onion mixture with creamed corn.
  6. Add potatoes on top of the ground beef mixture.  Spread evenly until smooth.
  7. Brush melted butter over potatoes.  Place in oven under broiler just until the top is lightly browned.  Watch it carefully.  This should only take a few minutes.

Pate chinois loaf pan

Enjoy! 🙂

Fun with Food: Healthy Game-Day Snacks

healthy game-day snacks variety

Last Sunday, the NFC and AFC Championship football games were played.  I was excited because my two favorite teams, the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, were both playing in separate games.  I wanted to create some fun, HEALTHY, football-themed snacks to serve my family.  The image above shows what I came up with, with a little bit of inspiration from Pinterest.

Watermelon Football Helmet

healthy game day snack

My favorite snack item was the Watermelon Football Helmet filled with fresh fruit.  I had a lot of fun making this.  I found a tutorial on You-Tube, and it was super easy to make.  I used a mini watermelon because that is all I could find at the stores since watermelons are not in season right now here in New England.  It turned out to be the perfect size for my family of 5.  If you are preparing this for a large gathering, you may want to use the larger size watermelon if you can find one.  I used a large platter that we use for Thanksgiving to display it, and I arranged fruit around the helmet to improve the appearance.  Since my two favorite teams were playing, I printed out a logo for each one, and I taped one to each side of the helmet.  You can customize it to your liking by printing out and attaching the logo of your favorite team.  The You-Tube Tutorial is below.  If you cannot see it, click here:

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

My Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is made with all REAL-food ingredients.  I like to serve it with celery, carrots, and organic corn chips.  You can find the recipe on my blog here.

Football Cheese and Cracker Platter

football cheese and cracker platter

My daughters had a blast assembling the Football Cheese and Cracker Platter shown above.  While browsing Pinterest, I came upon this image which inspired the cheese and cracker platter.  I printed out the picture and gave it to my daughters along with a box of Town House Crackers, a block of yellow Sharp Cheddar Cheese, a block of White Sharp Cheddar Cheese, a knife, and some pepperonis.  They had so much fun making it, and they were so proud of their creation!  That’s really what this is all about…having fun and making memories! 🙂

What are YOUR favorite Healthy Game-Day snacks?  Share them in the comments below! 🙂

Real Food Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

Are you looking for a healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe?

I have finally created one that my entire family loves!  It is very quick and easy to make, it’s a great way to use up some leftover chicken, and it is full of flavor!  I have been making it a lot lately.  The recipes I had initially used (from the hot sauce bottle) called for Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressings.  I didn’t love all the processed ingredients in the dressings from the store (unhealthy oils, added sugars, and unpronounceable ingredients), so I set out to find a healthier replacement.  This is what I came up with, and my family and I are both happy with the result.  I usually serve it with celery sticks or organic corn chips.  Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup Frank’s Original REDHOT sauce (make sure you get ORIGINAL – the others have added ingredients)
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded (buy the block and shred it yourself to avoid unnecessary added ingredients)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

Serve with celery sticks or organic corn chips.

Instructions

  1. Place cream cheese into baking dish or glass pie plate.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients until mixed well.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes until hot.  Stir.