Trendy and Pricey
Fat Bombs, have you heard of them? Those doses of luxurious fat mixtures people are putting in their morning coffee in order to rev up the metabolism? Well, they are here and they’re pretty trendy right now. Which means they can be very expensive.
Usually fat bombs come in powder form, are added to morning coffee and can cost up to $4 serving. What I did here was improve the nutritional value of (already awesome) fat bombs + cut the cost way down–like 75% less than your typical fat bomb serving.
What is the Point?
Great question. Since I try to live the ‘low carb’ or ‘keto’ kind of lifestyle and my carbs are very precious to me, I am always looking for ways to maximize them. That’s where the superfood drink Shakeology comes into play in this recipe (and more broadly, in my life). For just 4 carbs and 53 calories in 1 T of the powder, I get super-greens, anti-oxidant fruits, pre- and probiotics, digestive enzymes, stress-reducing adaptogens and 3 servings of veggies.
Chocolate Cake Batter? Yes, Please
Plus, this recipe tastes like chocolate cake or brownie batter. It really does. I eat mine like a peanut butter cup with a cup of coffee in the morning or as a snack to get through the afternoon. This delicious healthy dessert-like bomb gives me energy, even for my fasted workout, and I don’t crave all the way to lunchtime like I used to.
You don’t need to use Kerrygold brand butter, but do find butter from grass-fed cows. It’s nutritionally superior to other butters, tastes amazing and has the most velvety texture on the palate imaginable.
Cake Batter Fat Bomb
1 T melted Kerrygold butter
1 T melted organic coconut oil
1 T Chocolate Shakeology
Blend. Chill. Devour.
26 g fat
4 g carb
6 g protein
Crispy ‘fries’ cooked with 3-cheese blend, served with marinara.
2 medium green zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
Dry herbs, optional (rosemary, dill, thyme, etc)
Spices, optional (chipotle, cumin, etc)
Dry garlic power, to taste
Dash of Himalayan pink or sea salt
Generous dash of pepper
extra virgin olive oil spray
2 eggs, beaten in a bowl and set aside
1 cup Italian cheese blend (parm, asiago, romano), finely ground and put aside (*alternately: use 1/2 panko bread crumbs + half cheese blend)
Pro Tip: If you don’t have the Italian 3-cheese blend, no worries. Use all parm for the cheese portion. Any HARD cheese will do, actually.
Lots of creative ways to make these: oven roasted with olive oil and butter.
Preheat oven to 450. Wash squash and zucchini and pat completely dry. Then cut them into fry-sized pieces–the thinner they are, crispier they will be.
In a mixing bowl create an egg bath by cracking and whipping eggs with a whisk or fork. On a plate or in a shallow pan, combine crumbled cheese mix and/or panko crumbs with your dry herb mix, garlic, salt, pepper.
Dredge each squash or zucchini piece first in the egg bath, transfer to your other hand and then dredge each one in the dry mix. Repeating this until each piece is nicely covered.
Next, place cooking foil on a baking pan that has drain holes, if possible. Lay out strips single-high on the pan, for maximum coverage. Lightly spray each piece with a light coach of olive oil spray, to ensure maximum browning.
Finally, place in oven on the top rack.
Pro Tip: Poking holes in the foil allows any juices from the squash to drain so the fries crisp instead of create a mush.
Roast at 450 for 5-10 min. Turn over and roast until golden brown. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. You might have to turn oven down to 425.
Pro Tip: if you don’t have a lot of dried herbs and spices around, use Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. It’s a flavor-packed, salt-free and neutral (goes with almost anything savory). Highly recommended.
Serve as a snack with marinara sauce or as a side to entrees, burgers or casseroles. I often make them with omelettes in lieu of potatoes, roasting them first and then letting them cool a bit while the eggs cook.
Since I eat very low carb, these strips are a flavor-packed, crispy sub for potatoes or traditional fries. Very satisfying!
Mom and Me Hitting the Road
Road Food for Fit Foodies
For the healthy conscious road food can instill fear (What am I going to eat while I travel?), and for the “fit foodies’ it can bring joy (Oh, the adventuresome good I’ll find along the way!). For me, road food is usually a combination of the two. You can find some amazing food almost anywhere, but sometimes healthy road food options fall short, which means you’re faced with drive-thru, highly processed, low-nutrient foods that leave you tired, hungry, edgy and unsatisfied. Boo to that!
On my recent month-long trip to Palm Springs with my mom, we decided to eat as healthy as possible + enjoy a nice dinner at nice, complete with a glass of wine or two. We drove down Interstate 5 from Washington to Northern Cal, turned left, hit the coast and wended our way through wine country and on to the desert. It all went well because we had a plan.
First, we knew exactly where we were going to stop every night, scoped out restaurant options in advance, even making reservations on at least one occasion. This not only gave us a daily ETA, but a specific dinner destination.
Second, we brought along a plug-in cooler/heater unit to store food. This not only saved us time but money because we always had lunch and snack foods ready at hand.
The Ever-Handy Plug-In Car Cooler
Third, because we enjoy a good cup of coffee, we scoped all the nearby Starbucks in the next-day’s destination area. We started our mornings out with a cup of joe and sometimes augmented our cooler lunch food supply with a Bistro Salad or other item (tip: Starbucks has some great, healthy made-daily salads and Bistro Box items. The nutrition info is listen on each salad or box container (or go here ahead of time to check out the nutrition info: http://www.starbucks.com/menu/catalog/nutrition?food=all#view_control=nutrition). If you count calories or keep track of protein and carb grams for your nutrition plan, it’s all there to see and pretty easily calculate. There are items for ‘snacking’ as well as a full-on meal. Almost every store has the same menu, so you can count on your faves being available from store to store. Just be careful to pass over the 25-fat gram scones and reach into the case for one of the healthier food options instead.
One of My Fave Bistro Boxes, Packed with Protein
Fourth, while the hotel we belong to and stayed at along the way, offers breakfast (in which we could always get the healthier options of boiled eggs, toast and bottle water), we always knew that we could grab a sensibly-portioned, fairly clean ingredient breakfast sandwich while we were getting our Uncle Bucky’s coffee. Again, that was handy and didn’t derail our nutrition efforts the first thing every morning. Bonus!
Fifth, we made sure the food we DID pack was nutrition packed, mostly because that’s the way we eat (we work out daily and get HUNGRY!), but also because our trip lasted an entire month, the car was loaded up (including a prime spot for my Puggle Henry) so we had no space to waste.
Henry on the Road–See the Cooler?
Road Food: What to Pack
So, what DID we pack, you’re wondering? Here’s what made it into the cooler:
Raw almonds + walnuts (we bought a large bag of each back at our big-box store to save $ but you can find them at your grocery store, and along the way at convenience stores, for a pretty $).
Apples, bananas + grapes (any raw fruit is good, but the heartier exterior the better as you’re packing it in a cooler)
Organic lunch meat (if you can find lower sodium great because you don’t want to dehydrate yourself on the road and have to stop all the time to potty!)
Crackers. Find a nutrition-packed one with Omega-3 seeds, whole grains and nothing chemical-y added.
Protein bars. I like the brands that have nuts for protein and dates for sweetener, but there are many good ops. The rules of thumb: the shorter the list of ingredients the better; if you can’t pronounce an ingredient don’t eat it.
Veggie sticks/packs. Try to find organic ones if you can, but in any case get some veggies in your bod! Carrots, broc, celery and other hardy veggies will last in your cooler several days.
Hummus. Something yummy + healthy to dip those veggies in. Find as ‘clean’ of one as you can. Essentially the ingredients should include chick peas, olive oil, salt, pepper and tahini and not much else. The neat thing is hummus and chips packs are now available at convenience stores so you might be able to gas up + buy some at the same time in a pinch. Oh, this also makes a great cracker or sandwich spread.
Veggies + Hummus
Boiled eggs. Okay, this is ONLY if you have a cooler with ice or that is plugged in and cooling your box.
Cheese/sticks. I like a slice of cheddar or mozz on my sandwich and some of you may NOT like that. But if you do, find a naturally lower fat high-protein cheese).
Sprouted bread. I prefer the Trader Joe’s variety because it tends to be ‘softer’ than some, but the reality is, it’s great to have something to put your cheese and lunch meat on and if you’re driving a sandwich is not too hard to eat. Salad? Forget it. You gotta pull over, lol.
Mustard. Bag the other condiments because to me they are superfluous, but if you’re going to make any sort of a sandwich, come now, you need something moist.
Dried fruit. This go great alone or with your nuts; in fact you may just want to find a nice, raw ‘trail mix’ and call it good. Just make sure there are not too many M & Ms in there. Some people balk at the ‘sugar’ content in dried fruit but the thing is, on the road you need energy and the less minimally processed your snacks, the better.
Bottled water. This might sound obvious, but skip the caffeinated and sugary drinks. They don’t help you get there faster (too much peeing) and you really don’t high fructose corn syrup and chemicals in your drinks. Keep it clean and fresh, my friends.
There you go. Some simple, healthy road food tips from my recent trip to Palm Springs. I hope your next adventure is safe, fun and healthy, my friends!
Tend to shy away from dip because it can be so heavy? Or just don’t like it because you don’t dig mayo? I get it. I tend to agree. But I also get tired of salads in the winter and sometimes just want to pack up some fresh veggies for a lunch or put out a nice veggie-dip tray on game day without blowing my meal plan. For moments like those, here’s a healthy but SATISFYING fave “Green Goddess” dip, compliments of the Junior League of San Francisco.
1 cup chopped avocado (about 1 avocado)
3 or 4 anchovy fillets, mashed or 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine avocado, anchovies, garlic, scallions, basil, parsley, and tarragon in a food processor or blender.
Add Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Serve with crudités (fresh veggies) as a dip, or over steamed green vegetables as a side dish.
Makes 1 and a half cups
*Interested in the lore surrounding this recipe or the origin of its name? According to tradition, The dressing/dip is named for its green color. The most accepted theory regarding its origins points to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923, when the hotel’s Executive Chef Philip Roemer made it to pay tribute to actor George Arliss upon his hit play, The Green Goddess.
This morning my 66 year-old mom who has not had a cold in seven years, finally succumbed. She didn’t feel well and she wanted me to pick her up a can of soup. Well, that was not gonna do. I thought: How many times has she made me homemade chicken soup or broth when I’ve been sick. Dozens, I’m sure. So, I wanted to return that kindness. But I didn’t have a lot of time. I’m sure you can relate.
Here’s what I did to make the soup 1. as healthy as possible; 2. as quick as possible; and 3. as delicious as possible.
Dashing around the store, first I chose an already-roasted organic chicken. The store I shopped at today has a (truly) affordable organic selection of items, including rotisserie chicken, so I knew I could count on the quality and cost of it. The already-roasted chicken adds flavor and is easy to quickly shred into the soup at the end. Do NOT waste time if you can help it by cooking chicken breast, thawing out chicken thighs, or whatever. I mean, not if you are pressed for time like I was.
(Oh, and one more thing about the chicken while we’re talking about it, once back home I let the rotisserie chicken cool a bit, washed, my hands well and then pulled one of the chicken breasts off the bone, shredding it with my fingers. This is just about as simple as can be. No fancy tools or chefy tricks needed. I also took some brown meat from the bird and shredded that too. I did NOT stress about the little bit of skin. To me, this gives max flavor while also being clean and simple.)
But back to the shopping; next stop, fresh produce. I knew I was going to do a very quick onion saute; This was to be the base of my flavor, but I had an onion at home I could use, so I skipped the onions and ran over to to where the boxed organic greens were. I chose baby arugula and spinach. You might wonder WHAT in the world those ‘hipster foods’ are doing in a simple chicken soup and here’s the thing: they are powerhouses of anti-oxidants that take up very little ‘room’ in the pot (or your tummy). They cook down and simply look like a green herb. And raw or cooked they are immune-boosters. One of my sneaky tricks for almost all of my savory recipes, in fact, is adding handfuls of raw or cooked super greens to things. Such a great way to feed your body–and boost your immune system–without feeling too much like Peter Rabbit. But, I digress.
I zoomed passed the fresh mushrooms for two reasons. I knew that at home I had a huge container of dehydrated wild mushrooms. So not only did I not need them, but I recalled a helpful fun fact: mushrooms are 1 of a handful of foods that are actually more nutritious cooked than raw AND that if done right, dehydrating foods maximizes their nutritional content and also flavor. Boom.
Next I grabbed a bunch of fresh herbs even though I actually grow them all at home–on my currently-dirty and weed-overrun side hill that is just emerging from winter. I was so pressed for time that I spent the $1 to have my thyme, sage and rosemary all cut and cleaned right in a little container (lazy, I know). To me fresh herbs not only freshen up a soup but add that memory-of-childhood quality that comforts you when you are feeling sick. So fresh herbs it was.
While I was grabbing the herbs, I heard a bright yellow lemon calling my name. After all, one of my secrets is adding freshness and depth to the soup with the zest of one small lemon. But I didn’t heed the call because I remembered that I have one in the fridge at home. I knew it was fresh enough still that the skin is firm which means it would be great for adding zest to the mix.
Next, I went to the organic soup/broth aisle and did a little happy dance to see that the chicken broth was on a super sale. Even better was that the broth was NOT low sodium. That might surprise you. But here’s the thing: the organic brand I like (Pacific) doesn’t add a ton of sodium to their regular broth anyway, so what is the big deal. And another thing: I always end up adding salt to my broth in the end, so why not buy it that way and adjust my cooking to it rather than the reverse? There is nothing worse to me (okay there is, but I just said that for emphasis) than a bland broth! You might as well use water! Oh, and I knew that I was going to use the broth to rehydrate the mushrooms so I wanted something good to bring out the ‘umami’ of those ‘shrooms, too.
You might be thinking I am all Mother Earth with adding the funky greens to my cure-for-a-common cold chicken soup, but just so you know I am not THAT weird, I headed to the frozen veggie section to get two small mixed veggie bags. You know the ones; one mix has carrots, peas and corn. The other has carrots, peas and green bean bits. Why did I do this? A couple of reasons. 1. Frozen veggies are super affordable (each bag was a little over $1); 2. Most fresh produce–even organic, folks–has lost many of its nutrients by the time it reaches our tables. There’s no conspiracy there; it’s just a fact of life that when oxygen hits our fresh stuff it starts to lose the battle against spoilage and nutrient loss. The great, if ironic news is that most frozen veggies are flash-frozen at the source and therefore have locked-in nutrients. Often they are the best bang for your buck, in more ways that one.
And that was it for the shopping. Not too hard or expensive, right? That little excursion took me about 10 min. And as you’ll see the actually cooking only took me about 15 more. Here is a list of the items and quick directions.
1-rotisserie chicken breast (+ a little skin + meat from 1 thigh)
2- quart containers of broth (I use Pacific brand organic; each container is 1 quart).
2-small bags frozen mixed veggies (your choice)
1-medium white or yellow onion
1-T minced garlic (I always have this on hand; if you don’t use two cloves or dried garlic power to taste)
1-T butter or cooking oil of choice (if butter watch closely so it doesn’t brown too much)
2-cups dehydrated wild mushrooms (if using fresh, add 1/2 a cup)
2-handfuls (each) any of these: arugula, powergreens and/or baby spinach
1-small lemon (use zest not the juice).
In the pot you are going to make the soup in, combine chopped onion with butter. Saute on medium heat. Meanwhile, add chicken broth to the wild mushrooms and microwave to rehydrate, about 2 min. Add a dash of salt, pepper, fresh herbs to taste and lemon zest. Once onions are soft and clear, and herbs + lemon are starting to smell fragrant in the pot, add mushrooms, stirring a few times. Now you are ready to shred and add your chicken meat. Once the chick is on board, add the rest of your ingredients, one by one. It does not matter the order. Simply stir everything together and simmer for a couple of minutes. Voila. You now have a soup that tastes like it has been simmering on the stove for an hour+. If desired, serve with hot, sourdough bread or a biscuit of choice. Enjoy!
Coriander-Cumin Turkey Meatballs and Eggs
This turkey meatball recipe sort of just came together. It’s Paleo-friendly and gluten-and wheat-free, using no eggs or bread to ‘bind’ the meatballs. But I’d be lying if I said that I set out to make the recipe all these things. In all honesty, the highest order of the day was to fake out my nephew who was coming over to stay! The rest was cake–er, meatballs.
I will say that whatever recipe I make, I try to pack it full of as many delicious, whole foods as I can. If you don’t need to sacrifice flavor (which I try NEVER to do), it just makes sense to try to get as much nutritional bang as I can for the buck, right? This recipe was no exception. I knew that if I chopped up veggies like a maniac–whether to hide them from the nephew or to simply increase the nutritional value for me–it would be pretty easy to do. Along the way I discovered that I could eliminate traditional meatball binders– the bread and eggs. My discovery might make Paleo and g-free peeps happy and if so, I’m happy.
But back to the recipe and sneaking in veggies. These meatballs are full of them but because they are finely chopped and meld into the meat mix. And when I say meld, I mean my hungry but picky teen-aged nephew bit into his first of several meat balls and casually asked if it had quinoa in it. I confirmed it did and he peeped not one more word; his mouth was full. Not a word about any of the green bits or (heaven forbid) pieces of mushroom. Not sure if he didn’t taste them or didn’t care, but either way, a huge the thumbs up from the boy who for years refused to eat ANYthing green or with green ‘in it’ (including boxed lime jello). I guess his new motto is “Kale bits: who cares!” Okay that might be stretching it. He did like them and we’ll happily leave it at that.
These meatballs are packed full of sauteed veggies, including kale, and quinoa, with ground turkey being almost the side-show. Usually with meatballs meat is the main ingredient and the second ingredient is a binder like bread. The bread is not needed here at all because the chia paste (pictured below) does a fantastic job holding it all together. You’d think these balls would have veggies crumbling out of them, and quinoa pulling them apart, but it doesn’t happen. Wonderfully.
Mince or Chop the Veggies
Kale: a Superfood Addition
A Few Notes
Contrary to what the first photo shows, I didn’t mean to make these a breakfast food. They’re meatballs, after all, which most of us associate with dinner. But I made a huge batch with the idea that we’d eat some the first night, hold some over in the fridge for the morning and pop the rest in the freezer for lunches throughout the week (see last photo). The first meal–meatballs with two dipping sauces and crispy fries–were such a hit with Kyle that I barely had leftovers to use the rest of the week, which was a happy problem to have, so no complaints here. Oh, and if you’re wondering why there are no pictures of the meatball dinner: it was scarfed down to quickly for a photo!
Kyle Votes Yes!
Before I list the ingredients below, one warning about the visual of chia paste. When you make a quick chia paste (directions below), it might look like someone dumped their ashtray into the bowl when you weren’t looking. Don’t worry. Keep going. The chia will form a paste, remain relatively tasteless and also play a superfood nutritional role in the meatballs. A win all the way around!
Chia–a Perfect Meatball Binder
Added Veggies Make a HUGE Batch
- 3 T minced fresh cilantro or mint + Italian parsley (if you have on hand).
- 16 oz ground turkey
- 1 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1 t ground coriander seeds
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 c chia seeds
- 1 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T garlic powder (not salt)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or 1 big drizzle around the pan)
- 2 c cooked quinoa
- 1 cup each: minced carrots, mushrooms, onion and raw kale
If you like your meatballs with sauce, can make your own for these OR you can simply pick something up at the store (just make sure you can pronounce everything on the label!). I have found for my nephew that a lot of time what he calls ‘dipping sauces’ either make or break the dish for him. So I made two quick sauces: a BBQ one made of organic ketchup, ground chipotle and a tad of sriracha and a ranch.
Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Mince or finely chop all veggies (including kale). On medium heat saute veggies in olive oil until they ‘sweat,’ adding salt, pepper, spices, garlic and herbs. Transfer to generous sized bowl and stir in quinoa. Set aside. In a small bowl mix chia and water. In less than a minute a paste will form. Don’t let it sit there too long or it will firm up too much. Stir into quinoa and sauteed veggie mix. Mix in turkey meat. All ingredients should now be incorporated. Form meatballs about 1.5 inches in diameter and place on baking sheet (with non-stick spray, parchment, etc). Bake for about 15 min, until tops are brown but meatballs are still tender inside.
Work Lunch: Turkey Meatball Taco Salad