Super Succulent Seasoned Chicken

January 16th, 2018 | no comments

 

Chicken doesn’t have to be dry my friends! I’ve made this recipe at least a couple of dozen times and it always turns out perfectly moist and tender.

Being a “born-again” meat eater, I was a bit nervous about cooking meat. After all, the year 1994 marks the last time I actually ate meat…and it was prepared by my mother. 🙂

This recipe is so simple and uses nothing but spices, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil.

Looking for quick lunch ideas throughout the week? Prepare double the recipe and store the leftovers in the refrigerator! When you’re ready:

  • Slice into strips and add to a green leafy salad.
  • Cut into chunks and mix with avocado oil mayo, diced grapes and chopped red onion and celery!
  • For a warm and savory lunch, shred and stir into a small bowl of prepared steel cut oats, along with diced avocado, fresh herbs, and leftover veggies from last night’s dinner.
Print Recipe
Super Succulent Seasoned Chicken
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts I like either Organic Smart Chicken or Gerber Amish Farm Chicken
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts I like either Organic Smart Chicken or Gerber Amish Farm Chicken
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. To tenderize, pound chicken breasts to an even thickness.
  3. Pour oil in a baking dish and coat both sides of chicken with oil.
  4. Add garlic powder through salt to a small bowl and mix together. Evenly coat both sides of chicken with spice mix and rub in with clean hands.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Then remove from oven and cover pan with foil and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
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Why you crave junk food the day after alcohol

January 16th, 2018 | no comments

 

Plus:

If you’ve been reading for the past six weeks, you learned six of the eight Universal Truths that I believe apply to everyone:

Universal Truth #1: What you resist, persists.
Universal Truth #2: You control food; It doesn’t control you.
Universal Truth #3: What you feed your body most, it will crave.
Universal Truth #4: Some foods can heal you.
Universal Truth #5: Some foods can harm you
Universal Truth #6: Some foods are questionable (Dairy; Gluten)

Today, I’ll reveal the last of the “questionable” foods under Universal Truth #6—alcohol.

ALCOHOL

It never fails, I have one too many glasses of wine (and for me, the magic number is two) and the next day, I am completely unmotivated and feel the need to eat everything in sight! My body never seems to crave its usual smoothie or leafy green salad, but rather it demands processed snack foods, especially salty chips. I gravitate to the pantry like a magnet to a refrigerator and usually wind up eating half of the bag.

This day-after drinking indulgence always frustrated me, until I learned there was a biological reason for it.

As it turns out:

Alcohol in any form, decreases blood sugar levels temporarily and overnight.

↓

Low blood sugar is a signal to ramp up hunger.

↓

And because it’s also a diuretic, drinking alcohol causes you to pee more…so if you’re not consciously rehydrating with plenty of water, dehydration sets in, which your body misinterprets as hunger. Talk about a double-whammy!

↓

And if that’s not cruel enough, because your liver is heavily involved in the process of detoxifying your body to remove the alcohol, it is unable to carry out the important job of releasing stored sugar to counteract falling blood sugar.

↓

Insatiable hunger and a potential for dangerously low blood sugar are the results!

 

Because I’m not willing to give up red wine, I’ve developed a three-step plan so that I can enjoy my wine without the negative side-effects. It’s sort of like my own little insurance policy against overindulging on the wrong foods the next day:

  1. Never drink on an empty stomach. I usually take my first sip of wine after I’ve eaten about a quarter of my dinner. This little trick prevents the blood sugar plunge that happens when alcohol hits your system without any food to slow it down.
  2. To assure I don’t get dehydrated, I always drink 8-16 ounces of water with my glass of wine.
  3. Limit myself to one serving. Whenever I cheat on this rule, I always regret it the next day!

For your information, the following are standard portion sizes for alcohol:

  • Beer- 12 ounces
  • Wine (red or white)- 5 ounces
  • Hard liquor (vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, brandy)- 1.5 ounces

Although not essential, alcohol can be acceptable in moderation (women: one drink per day; men: two drinks per day) for those who wish to include in their meal plan. But before you decide, I’d like you to keep the following in mind.

When not practiced in moderation, alcohol can:

  • Raise your blood triglyceride (fat) levels.
  • Elevate your blood pressure.
  • Impair gut function.
  • Disturb sleep.
  • Impair liver function.
  • Stimulate your appetite.
  • Prevent you from achieving a healthy weight.
  • Lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. This is why you should never drink on an empty stomach or when your blood sugar is already low. If you are unsure, test your blood sugar before consuming alcohol! Symptoms of low blood sugar include any of the following: Confusion, sleepiness, blurry vision, headaches, lightheadedness, lack of coordination, and unconsciousness.
  • Reduce the effectiveness of insulin over time.
  • Interfere with some oral diabetes medications, so check with your doctor before consuming alcohol.

The bottom line on alcohol: If you are on the fence about whether or not to include it in your life, it’s probably best to abstain. If you can enjoy it in small amounts without any negative side-effects, then do so. Just be sure to follow my three-step plan:

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
  2. Drink 8-16 ounces of water with each drink.
  3. Limit yourself to one serving (if possible).

Stick with me and next week you will learn all about one of the most powerful ingredients for healthier blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure in Universal Truth #7: Dietary Fiber is Key

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Organic Smart Chicken

Organic Smart Chickens are exclusively fed a certified organic, certified non-GMO diet, and are never given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products.

Smart Chicken is the only chicken producer in the country to maintain both certified organic and certified humane status through the HFAC (Humane Farm Animal Care) association. HFAC takes the National Organic Program standards a step farther, adding rigorous limitations on stocking density, handling, and access to feed and water, among other requirements. Every chicken is free to roam, with access to outdoor pastures.

Say goodbye to dry chicken! Smart Chicken is 100% pure air chilled, without added water. Air chill technology makes quite a noticeable difference in the tenderness of the meat. Natural juices are preserved, not diluted, and the meat is better able to absorb any seasonings or other ingredients during the cooking process, unlike water immersion-chilled chicken. Taste the difference for yourself!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Super Succulent Seasoned Chicken

Chicken doesn’t have to be dry my friends! I’ve made this recipe at least a couple of dozen times and it always turns out perfectly moist and tender.

Being a “born-again” meat eater, I was a bit nervous about cooking meat. After all, the year 1994 marks the last time I actually ate meat…and it was prepared by my mother. 🙂

This recipe is so simple and uses nothing but spices, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil.

Looking for quick lunch ideas throughout the week? Prepare double the recipe and store the leftovers in the refrigerator! When you’re ready:

  • Slice into strips and add to a green leafy salad.
  • Cut into chunks and mix with avocado oil mayo, diced grapes and chopped red onion and celery!
  • For a warm and savory lunch, shred and stir into a small bowl of prepared steel cut oats, along with diced avocado, fresh herbs, and leftover veggies from last night’s dinner.
Print Recipe
Super Succulent Seasoned Chicken
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts I like either Organic Smart Chicken or Gerber Amish Farm Chicken
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts I like either Organic Smart Chicken or Gerber Amish Farm Chicken
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. To tenderize, pound chicken breasts to an even thickness.
  3. Pour oil in a baking dish and coat both sides of chicken with oil.
  4. Add garlic powder through salt to a small bowl and mix together. Evenly coat both sides of chicken with spice mix and rub in with clean hands.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Then remove from oven and cover pan with foil and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
Share this Recipe

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Some foods are questionable: Gluten

January 9th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

 

Last week, I began the discussion on questionable foods with dairy. This week, in Universal Truth #6: Some foods are questionable, I’m continuing the conversation with gluten, an often confusing and misunderstood subject.

GLUTEN

Make no mistake, just because a product is labeled “gluten free”, does not necessarily make it healthy. Unfortunately, clever marketing tactics will have you, the well-meaning consumer, believe that the absence of gluten in a food automatically qualifies it as a healthy choice. On one hand this is true, after all, fresh herbs and spices, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fresh meat and seafood are all naturally free of gluten. But of course, you aren’t likely to see them boasting about it. They don’t have to! On the other hand, many gluten free products are heavily processed and coated in sugar and/or salt (think gluten free doughnuts!).

What exactly is gluten anyways? Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and non-gluten free oats. It’s also found in processed foods containing these ingredients, such as bread, cereal, pasta, pancakes, pizza, bakery and other sugar-loaded, nutrient-void foods. I’m sure you agree that the simple act of minimizing gluten-containing products like cake and cookies, can only mean positive things for your health. Of course this holds true only if you aren’t swapping them out for gluten free cake and cookies. Remember, these still contain just as much sugar!

Gluten causes a whole spectrum of problems for many people, ranging from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, to celiac disease, an autoimmune condition where ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, creating symptoms such as iron deficiency anemia, joint pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue and migraines.

Hybridization of wheat grown in the United States has changed the quality and type of proteins and starches in wheat, creating a higher gluten content than ever before. The result is an overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Understand that food allergies and sensitivities create an inflammatory state in the body, leading to weight gain and insulin resistance. So if you suspect you are intolerant of gluten, it would be wise to eliminate if for a six-week trial to see if your blood glucose numbers and weight improve. This also holds true for other common food allergies and sensitivities, like dairy.

I made a personal choice a few years ago to eliminate gluten from my diet for a period of time just to see what happened. I didn’t have an allergy or anything, I was just curious. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. The result was a very subtle, yet noticeable difference in my brain health, meaning I experienced an improved mood, had more clarity and less “brain fog.” My ability to concentrate was markedly improved too! The funny part about it was, I didn’t even realize I had a problem focusing until I didn’t have a problem focusing. I also noticed less stiffness in my joints.

For all of these reasons, I still maintain a relatively gluten free diet, making the occasional exception on holidays, where I enjoy a Christmas cookie or two, and a maple-frosted doughnut from my favorite doughnut shop on my birthday.

Next week I will share my thoughts and tips on alcohol, the final questionable substance in this series.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Explore Cuisine Organic Bean Pastas

A pasta that won’t spike your blood sugar? Yes, really! There are many varieties of gluten-free pasta on the market and I’ve tried almost all of them. My favorite is the Explore Cuisine line of bean pastas. With only one or two ingredients (based on the bean or combination of beans used), each variety can be prepared in under 10 minutes.

Regular pasta carries approximately 40 grams of net carbohydrates (Total carbohydrate minus dietary fiber) per serving. Because Explore Cuisine bean pasta is made from 100% pure beans, the total fiber content is off the charts, bringing the net carbohydrate down to an impressive 10-11 grams per serving. And…since beans are packed with oodles of protein, you’ll gain 22-25 grams of protein per serving—that’s as much as a 3-ounce cooked chicken breast!

There are three varieties to choose from:

  • Organic Black Bean Spaghetti
  • Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
  • Organic Edamame Spaghetti

I just know you will enjoy my Recipe Pick this week. It uses Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine, fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Simple, delicious, and nutritious!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato Bean Pasta

I don’t know about you, but regular pasta tends to send my blood sugar shooting through the roof! How do I know? Because I get hungry an hour or so after eating it. This means it caused my blood sugar to initially spike and then plummet…triggering what I call “rebound hunger”. Other foods that can have this effect are white potatoes, white rice, sugary cereals, cake, candy, sugar-sweetened beverages (including those fancy, overpriced coffee drinks), and pretzels.

If you find yourself shying away from pasta for the same reason, or if you are simply trying to improve the overall quality of your food choices, I think you will really like this recipe! It was created by my friend Carla IaFelice, who is a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s Grocery Store. It uses Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine, a high protein, high fiber, low glycemic solution to regular wheat-based pasta. It has only two simple ingredients: organic edamame and organic mung beans. That’s it! One serving of this pasta offers 22 grams of protein…as much as one 3-ounce chicken breast. Pretty impressive!

Print Recipe
Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato Bean Pasta
This high protein, high fiber, low glycemic pasta dish uses just five simple ingredients and is bursting with savory flavor. Created by my friend Carla IaFelice, who is a Wellness Consultant for Heinen's Grocery Store, it is a perfect meal option for those evenings when you are super pressed for time. Pair it with a nice leafy green salad and you've got a real nutrition powerhouse meal on your hands. 4 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥♥♥
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 jar julienne sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 jar julienne sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
  2. In a separate pan, sauté tomatoes, garlic and onion until slightly caramelized. The oil from the jar of tomatoes should be ample, but you can add a little more per your taste.
  3. Drain pasta and toss with sautéed vegetables. Gently fold in basil ribbons and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
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Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato Bean Pasta

January 8th, 2018 | no comments

I don’t know about you, but regular pasta tends to send my blood sugar shooting through the roof! How do I know? Because I get hungry an hour or so after eating it. This means it caused my blood sugar to initially spike and then plummet…triggering what I call “rebound hunger”. Other foods that can have this effect are white potatoes, white rice, sugary cereals, cake, candy, sugar-sweetened beverages (including those fancy, overpriced coffee drinks), and pretzels.

If you find yourself shying away from pasta for the same reason, or if you are simply trying to improve the overall quality of your food choices, I think you will really like this recipe! It was created by my friend Carla IaFelice, who is a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s Grocery Store. It uses Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine, a high protein, high fiber, low glycemic solution to regular wheat-based pasta. It has only two simple ingredients: organic edamame and organic mung beans. That’s it! One serving of this pasta offers 22 grams of protein…as much as one 3-ounce chicken breast. Pretty impressive!

Print Recipe
Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato Bean Pasta
This high protein, high fiber, low glycemic pasta dish uses just five simple ingredients and is bursting with savory flavor. Created by my friend Carla IaFelice, who is a Wellness Consultant for Heinen's Grocery Store, it is a perfect meal option for those evenings when you are super pressed for time. Pair it with a nice leafy green salad and you've got a real nutrition powerhouse meal on your hands. 4 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥♥♥
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 jar julienne sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 jar julienne sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
  2. In a separate pan, sauté tomatoes, garlic and onion until slightly caramelized. The oil from the jar of tomatoes should be ample, but you can add a little more per your taste.
  3. Drain pasta and toss with sautéed vegetables. Gently fold in basil ribbons and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Share this Recipe

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Some foods are questionable

January 2nd, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
    (a healthy alternative to soy sauce)
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Walnut Taco “Meat”

As I stated last week, I am a firm believer in the freedom of choice. But it would be unethical for me not to mention the deleterious effects of certain “foods” and fake ingredients on your health, which is why I shared with you Universal Truth #5: Some foods can harm you. 

Today, in Universal Truth #6: Some foods are questionable, I begin discussing those foods sparking debate in the health industry. They are foods that most definitely cause problems for those individuals with sensitivities, and include dairy products, gluten, and alcohol. Let’s start with dairy…

Dairy

We are all so unique, with vast differences in our genetic makeup. You may find that dairy products don’t agree with you at all. In this case, it is perfectly healthy to remove them or replace with dairy-free options. Some people don’t like how their body responds to dairy, whereas others have no problem with small amounts of cheese and butter.

Even though they tend to have a low glycemic index, there is some research suggesting that high intake of dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese, can cause elevated insulin levels in the body and insulin resistance over time.

The bottom line with dairy is this: do what works for you. If after consuming dairy you notice your blood sugar reading is a bit elevated, you may want to eliminate it from your diet. If you simply feel better without it, don’t eat it and don’t worry about running into any nutritional deficiencies.

Personally, I enjoy a little bit of full-fat natural cheese with a glass of dry red wine a couple of times each week. To me, there is nothing like it in the world! Would my body function better without it? Who knows? Maybe. But I’m not willing to give it up because it is one of those indulgences that I look forward to. I also enjoy full-fat cottage cheese, grass fed butter and ghee in small amounts.

If you choose to include dairy in your diet, my suggestion is to keep the portions small and opt for what I call “upgraded” full-fat dairy products. Compared to low and no-fat dairy, full-fat dairy slows the release of sugars into your bloodstream and prevents overeating. Upgraded dairy includes:

  • Full-fat unsweetened yogurt: Icelandic yogurt (also known as skyr) is a wonderful option. I particularly like the Siggi’s brand! Icelandic yogurt is similar to Greek yogurt in that it has much more protein than traditional yogurt, so it will keep you full longer. Be sure to choose the full fat option (4% milkfat).
  • Full-fat unsweetened kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk loaded with good healthy bacteria known as probiotics. I prefer the Wallaby brand of whole milk kefir.
  • Full-fat fresh, unprocessed cheeses:  Unprocessed cheese is in its natural form without the addition of emulsifiers or preservatives. Stay away from processed cheese, often labeled as “cheese spread”, “cheese food” or “cheese product.” Examples of unprocessed cheese include:
    • Asiago
    • Bleu
    • Brie
    • Camembert
    • Cheddar
    • Colby
    • Goat
    • Gorgonzola
    • Gouda
    • Gruyere
    • Havarti
    • Limburger
    • Manchego
    • Parmesan
    • Port Du Salut
    • Provolone
    • Stilton
    • Swiss
  • Grass fed butter and grass fed ghee: Butter from grass fed cows is a nutritionally superior choice due to the presence of more omega-3 fatty acids. Ghee is a form of clarified butter that’s been simmered longer to bring out butter’s natural, nutty flavor. The water and milk fats are removed, making ghee casein and lactose-free. For this reason, it is often tolerated by those individual who can’t have dairy. For grass fed butter, I like the Kerrygold brand, and for grass fed ghee, Organic Valley.
  • Cream: Choose organic when possible or at the very least, hormone, antibiotic, pesticide and GMO-free.
  • Pasture-raised, hormone-free, full-fat milk: As with cream, choose organic or at the very least, hormone, antibiotic, pesticide and GMO-free.

Next week, I will continue the “questionable” foods discussion with gluten—the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and non-gluten free oats.

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos

 

Searching for a healthy alternative to traditional soy sauce? Look no further, Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos is the answer to your prayers. Made from the nutrient-rich sap of the coconut tree, it is organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and MSG-free. From a nutritional standpoint, it contains naturally-occurring B-vitamins, as well as 17 amino acids (the building blocks of protein).

Use just like soy sauce in dressings, marinades, and when sautéing veggies or meats. It lends a nice meaty flavor to this week’s recipe: Walnut Taco “Meat.”

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Walnut Taco “Meat”

I don’t love the frozen meat substitute “crumbles” on the market…mainly because they are full of processed soy, sugar (yes sugar!), and corn oil.

When I’m in the mood for a meatless dinner, I try not to rely on frozen convenience foods that purport to be “healthy.” The ingredient list tells an entirely different story.

While on the hunt for a meat substitute recipe to add to my taco salad, I came across this recipe on popsugar.com. I changed up some of the ingredients a bit and the result is quite delicious!

 

Print Recipe
Walnut Taco "Meat"
The perfect vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free meat substitute for tacos! This recipe requires no cooking- just toss everything in your food processor and pulse until crumbly! You can also season the "meat" with different spices to match different cuisines. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
1/4 cup servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
1/4 cup servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times until crumbly. Be careful not to over-blend or you'll get a big pile of mush. 🙂
Share this Recipe

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Walnut Taco “Meat”

January 2nd, 2018 | no comments

I don’t love the frozen meat substitute “crumbles” on the market…mainly because they are full of processed soy, sugar (yes sugar!), and corn oil.

When I’m in the mood for a meatless dinner, I try not to rely on frozen convenience foods that purport to be “healthy.” The ingredient list tells an entirely different story.

While on the hunt for a meat substitute recipe to add to my taco salad, I came across this recipe on popsugar.com. I changed up some of the ingredients a bit and the result is quite delicious!

Print Recipe
Walnut Taco "Meat"
The perfect vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free meat substitute for tacos! This recipe requires no cooking- just toss everything in your food processor and pulse until crumbly! You can also season the "meat" with different spices to match different cuisines. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
1/4 cup servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
1/4 cup servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times until crumbly. Be careful not to over-blend or you'll get a big pile of mush. 🙂
Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

These foods can harm you

December 27th, 2017 | no comments

Plus:

 

Last week, I revealed Universal Truth #4: Some foods can heal you. In it I shared a list of healing foods—which I lovingly refer to as Earthfoods—and offered a simple meal planning strategy for building “PeaceMeals.”  Seriously…it’s so easy, even a 3-year old can do it!

Today is all about Universal Truth #5: Some foods can harm you. Although I am a firm believer in the freedom of choice, it would be unethical for me not to mention the deleterious effects of certain “foods” and fake ingredients on your health.  

Simply put, your body just doesn’t like certain foods and responds in negative, non-peaceful ways when exposed to them. Although I could write an entire book on this subject alone that would leave your head spinning, in this post I will briefly discuss three of these substances: refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats. I find that when you focus on getting these particular ingredients out of your diet, the rest of the junk has a way of disappearing.  

Refined sugar

Sugar is an addictive substance. The more you eat it, the more you crave it. Besides creating an inflammatory environment in the body, dietary sugar causes rapid spikes in your blood sugar, which forces your body to produce the hormone insulin in an effort to sweep up the sugar and store it in your cells. This entire process is by design and is what a normal, healthy and vibrant body is supposed to do! The problem is, the more sugar you eat (and thus the more insulin you produce) your body responds with heightened hunger, decreased metabolism, and increased fat storage.

Yes, since insulin is a fat-storage hormone, the more of it you force your body to produce, the higher the likelihood you will store excess fat. 

Understand that the sugar I’m referring to is table sugar, which is most commonly made from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is the type found in highly processed foods, such as sugary treats, cereals and beverages. Although you may not find sugar added to refined, white flour products like bread, pasta, pretzels and crackers, your body readily breaks these foods down into sugar. So in my opinion, they are just like sugar.

Natural sugars on the other hand, are those found in fruits and vegetables. These nutrient-rich foods are loaded with antioxidants and play a role in healing the body by reducing inflammation. They also carry natural fiber, which serves to weaken their effect on blood sugar.

Artificial sweeteners

Two pink packets in my already-sweetened bowl of maple and brown sugar-flavored oatmeal. Diet Pepsi with nearly every meal. Diet yogurts and pudding cups for snacks and sugar-free gum when I wasn’t eating. It makes me shudder every time I think of all the chemicals I poured into my body nearly twenty years ago. It’s no wonder it was confused, feeling hungry, craving sugar and riddled with constant headaches! These are just some of the side-effects that can occur on a steady diet of artificial sweeteners.

You see, many people falsely believe they are saving calories when they opt for the light, 100-calorie yogurt, sweetened with aspartame, instead of indulging in the plain, full-fat version. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies continuously reveal the dark side of artificial sweeteners, namely aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet), acesulfame potassium (Sunnet and Sweet One), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’ N Low) and sucralose (Splenda).

Did you know that sweetness, whether from sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhance the appetite and motivation to eat? Also, because they are hundreds of times sweeter than regular white table sugar, artificial sweeteners encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence.

Research now suggests that artificial sweeteners actually contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood sugar. So the very substance we erroneously add to our diet to help us lose weight and gain control of our health, does the exact opposite.

Trans fat

I can’t believe I’m still talking about trans fat. My mind is blown that they are still legally allowed in our food supply, especially since they are banned in many countries!

Trans fats, labeled as hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and shortening, are manmade fats that offer not one single benefit to your body. In fact, it is the one substance I insist you remove from your diet if you are looking to improve your health in any way.

Not only do trans fats contribute to inflammation in your body, they increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL)—this is a recipe for heart disease! The good news is, when you spend most of your grocery trip shopping the perimeter of the store, you take a giant leap towards eliminating these harmful fats, as they are found mostly in processed foods housed in the inner aisles.

Microwave popcorn, snack cakes, snack mixes, packaged frostings, soft tortillas, margarine, coffee creamer, cookies and crackers are just a few examples of foods that can contain trans fats. Do your body a favor and read your food labels! If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil”,  “hydrogenated oil” or “shortening” anywhere in the list of ingredients, put it back on the shelf. Many food companies have taken the trans fats out of their products, so if your favorite cracker is still donning these nasty little fats, chances are there is a brand of cracker on the same shelf without them.

Next week I will reveal Universal Truth #6: Some foods are questionable. Stay tuned…you don’t want to miss this one!

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Safe Catch Wild Tuna

Packed with protein and omega 3-fatty acids, tuna fish is a quick, tasty, and economical lunchtime favorite! I like to mix mine with diced red onion and celery, chopped apple, cranberry raisins, and Avocado Mayo (see my recipe below for Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad). You have to be particularly careful with tuna however (especially albacore tuna), because it can contain high levels of contaminants, particularly mercury.

Safe Catch is a trusted brand of sustainably-caught tuna that I feel very safe eating. They test every single fish for mercury content and reject those failing to meet their purity standards– which are even more strict than the FDA mercury action limit.

Because conventional tuna is twice-cooked, it loses beneficial omega 3 oils. Safe Catch tuna is slow cooked only once, retaining more omega 3-fatty acids. So that you may get the most nutrition out of each can, they recommend not draining before eating.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar

Tuna salad is an easy and economical lunch solution…but unfortunately, the mayonnaise that typically dresses it, is full of preservatives (calcium disodium EDTA) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 oil (soybean oil). No thank you!

My version of tuna salad uses a simple five-ingredient homemade Avocado Mayo: avocado, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. I also like a bit of crunch to my meals, so I added chopped celery, apple and red onion. A sprinkle of organic cranberry raisins gives it a nice kiss of sweetness!

I’m a little picky with my tuna too. Safe Catch Tuna is a sustainably caught, omega 3-rich tuna that is tested for mercury content and meets the company’s purity standards— which are even more strict than the FDA mercury action limit.

Instead of bread, I like to serve my tuna salad on Flackers crackers or with a combination of sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, jicama slices, sliced radishes and sweet mini peppers. 

Print Recipe
Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar
Tuna salad is an easy and economical lunch solution. My version uses sustainably caught, low mercury tuna, dressed with a simple five-ingredient homemade avocado mayonnaise and mixed with chopped celery, apple, red onion, and a sprinkle of organic cranberry raisins. Toss it all in a mason jar and lunch is served! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. Avocado Mayo (see Recipe Notes below) You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 5 oz. can Safe Catch Wild Tuna
  • 1 tbsp. organic dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small apple, diced with skin on
  • 1/2 small celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. Avocado Mayo (see Recipe Notes below) You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 5 oz. can Safe Catch Wild Tuna
  • 1 tbsp. organic dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small apple, diced with skin on
  • 1/2 small celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon into mason jar, secure lid, and store in refrigerator. Serve with a side of Flackers crackers or boost up your Earthfoods and serve with a combination of sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, jicama slices, sliced radishes, sweet mini peppers sliced in half and cleaned. Use the veggies to scoop salad out of jar!
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for Avocado Mayo recipe.

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Avocado Mayo

December 26th, 2017 | no comments


Print Recipe
Avocado Mayo
Traditional mayonnaise tends to be full of preservatives (calcium disodium EDTA) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 oil (soybean oil). No thank you! My version uses only five ingredients: avocado, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper.  Use Avocado Mayo in place of regular mayonnaise in dishes like potato, egg or tuna salad!
Course Dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
tbsp.
Ingredients
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice Or Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
Course Dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
tbsp.
Ingredients
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice Or Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except oil to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. While it’s running slowly add oil and puree until smooth and creamy.
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Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar

December 26th, 2017 | no comments

Tuna salad is an easy and economical lunch solution…but unfortunately, the mayonnaise that typically dresses it, is full of preservatives (calcium disodium EDTA) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 oil (soybean oil). No thank you!

My version of tuna salad uses a simple five-ingredient homemade Avocado Mayo: avocado, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. I also like a bit of crunch to my meals, so I added chopped celery, apple and red onion. A sprinkle of organic cranberry raisins gives it a nice kiss of sweetness!

I’m a little picky with my tuna too. Safe Catch Tuna is a sustainably caught, omega 3-rich tuna that is tested for mercury content and meets the company’s purity standards— which are even more strict than the FDA mercury action limit.

Instead of bread, I like to serve my tuna salad on Flackers crackers or with a combination of sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, jicama slices, sliced radishes and sweet mini peppers. 

Print Recipe
Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar
Tuna salad is an easy and economical lunch solution. My version uses sustainably caught, low mercury tuna, dressed with a simple five-ingredient homemade avocado mayonnaise and mixed with chopped celery, apple, red onion, and a sprinkle of organic cranberry raisins. Toss it all in a mason jar and lunch is served! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. Avocado Mayo (see Recipe Notes below) You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 5 oz. can Safe Catch Wild Tuna
  • 1 tbsp. organic dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small apple, diced with skin on
  • 1/2 small celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. Avocado Mayo (see Recipe Notes below) You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 5 oz. can Safe Catch Wild Tuna
  • 1 tbsp. organic dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small apple, diced with skin on
  • 1/2 small celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon into mason jar, secure lid, and store in refrigerator. Serve with a side of Flackers crackers or boost up your Earthfoods and serve with a combination of sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, jicama slices, sliced radishes, sweet mini peppers sliced in half and cleaned. Use the veggies to scoop salad out of jar!
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for Avocado Mayo recipe.

Share this Recipe

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These foods can help heal you

December 20th, 2017 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    Organic Valley Ghee
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Caulimash

 

Last week you learned the most empowering Universal Truth you could ever know as it relates to making food choices to support your health: What you feed your body most, it will crave. 

Next up is Universal Truth #4: Some foods can heal you.

I am totally pumped to offer you this truth because it will give you the opportunity to really put your body to the test and discover for yourself, the incredible transformation that occurs when you begin craving these foods. And to think…all you have to do is eat them, and eat them often.

So what are they?

I call them “Earthfoods.” They are the foods we all know we should be eating more of: single ingredient, unprocessed, health-empowering, nutrient-rich foods from the earth. Simply put, they are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They are powerful beyond measure and include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, cacao, green tea and many others.

In addition to healthy blood sugar, the payoff of eating a steady diet of Earthfoods is a body that is satiated to the core. These foods won’t cause you to raid the refrigerator looking for more food an hour after you’ve eaten them. Moreover, you aren’t likely to feel the need to overeat them because they are so nourishing. They reduce chronic inflammation in your body (which is the driving force largely responsible for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease), give you energy, help your brain function at optimal levels, and provide a sense of clarity and focus.

You will feel so good on a steady diet of Earthfoods that after awhile, you’ll begin to notice two things:

  1. First, you can’t believe how crappy you were feeling before. Think about it, if you’ve always felt a certain way, you have no way of knowing how bad you really feel, because you have nothing to compare it to. Or maybe it was such a gradual shift towards feeling crummy that you didn’t even notice the subtle differences over the years. Then you just blamed it on “getting old”.
  2. The second thing you’ll notice after eating a steady stream of nature’s Earthfood is, when you stray off course and processed foods begin to sneak back into your life, your body doesn’t like it. It shows you by perhaps the manifestation of little aches and pains, elevated blood sugar, stomach discomfort, skin problems, digestive issues and even brain fog.

I’m always delighted when someone tells me that, after eating a few chicken wings or a couple of slices of pizza at a party, they suffered a stomach ache or some other uncomfortable, non-life-threatening side effect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy they are in pain, but rather a bit tickled because I know these are signs they’ve made a shift in their body. They’ve trained their body to crave the good stuff and reject the rest.

A serving of Earthfood is any one of the following:

  • 1 cup vegetables (choose mostly non-starchy for better blood sugar control)
  • 2 cups leafy greens
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit (berries are the most powerful!)
  • ½ cup cooked lentils or beans
  • ÂĽ cup nuts
  • 1 tbsp. seeds
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ground nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower butter)
  • ½ of a small avocado
  • 1 tsp. dried or 1 tbsp. fresh herbs or spices
  • 1 tbsp. cacao
  • 1 tsp. matcha tea
Meal Planning 101: Forming “PeaceMeals”

I only have one rule when it comes to meal planning, and I think you’re really going to like it!

Simply choose a minimum of three Earthfoods servings per meal. Three is the magic number to turn any meal into a “PeaceMeal”. I find that when too many rules are applied to meal planning, it just complicates what should otherwise be a fun, nurturing experience. Surely anyone can choose three Earthfoods to make a meal! For example, adding one cup of lightly sautĂ©ed vegetables and two tablespoons of fresh basil to your morning omelet and serving it with a half cup of fresh blackberries on the side will give you three Earthfood servings. Eat a serving of Caulimash with your dinner (see this week’s recipe below) and you’ve already earned your three servings!

The beauty of adding Earthfoods and taking nothing away, is that you are consciously choosing to put three powerful ingredients into your body, which will make you think twice about the other components of that meal. For example, for dinner, if you are roasting up a beautiful tray of Brussels sprouts (Earthfood) and planning to serve them alongside a nice fresh piece of wild salmon and a salad made with greens (Earthfood), sunflower seeds (Earthfood) and fresh raspberries (Earthfood) it is unlikely you will wash it down with a soda or have an ice cream sundae for dessert. Do you see what I mean?

Take a look at the following three sample meals to see how easy it is. The number beside each food indicates the number of servings of Earthfoods it provides.

BREAKFAST: Three-egg omelet made with:

  • 1 cup of sauteed vegetables: 1
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil: 1
  • Served with 1 cup of fresh blackberries: 2

LUNCH: Organic chicken salad made with:

  • 1 cup of chopped celery and red cabbage: 1
  • ½ cup cooked lentils: 1
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro: 1

DINNER: Salmon fillet with a side of:

  • Wild rice pilaf made with ÂĽ cup walnuts: 1
  • 2 cups roasted Brussels sprouts: 2

A note on portion sizes:

My thoughts on portion sizes? They are a guide. That’s it. They illustrate a reasonable amount of food that should satisfy you. Notice the emphasis on the word should. The portion size that is best for you may change from meal to meal and yours is probably different for mine. Factors such as activity level, illness, and temperature can all affect your appetite. This is where really listening to your body is of the utmost importance.

To determine how much food is required to satisfy you at any given meal, let hunger and satiety be your guide. Think back to when you were a small child— when you were hungry, you ate. When you had just enough, you stopped eating…no matter how much food was left on your plate. Eating should be a relaxing activity, so enjoy your food, go with the flow, and pay attention to your body and what it’s trying to tell you.

I challenge you to turn at least one meal every day into a PeaceMeal. I think you will find it a simple, sustainable, and powerful way to elevate the nutritional quality of your meals without having to do a complete 180. Give it a try…I know you can do it. Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering…you are worth it!

Although I am a firm believer in the freedom of choice, it would be unethical for me not to mention the deleterious effects of certain “foods” and fake ingredients on your health. I will share three of these substances in my next post: Universal Truth #5: Some foods can harm you.

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Organic Valley Ghee

Ghee is a form of clarified butter, meaning the excess water and milk solids have been removed, resulting in a decadent, deep, rich, and nutty flavor unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Seriously, it’s that good! Even better, Organic Valley Ghee is lactose and casein-free, making it easier to digest by those with a dairy intolerance. And because it comes from the milk of pasture-raised cows, it contains a fair amount of omega 3 fatty acids too.

Ghee has a high smoke point, so it is ideal for high-heat cooking. How do I love ghee? Let me count the ways 🙂 :

  1. To cook eggs.
  2. To saute vegetables.
  3. To roast Brussels sprouts.
  4. Mixed and melted in my Caulimash.
  5. To sear meats.
  6. Melted over popcorn.
  7. As a substitute for butter or oil in cooking.

Ghee is shelf stable once opened, so you may want to store it in your pantry for ease of use. Once refrigerated it becomes a little tough to scoop out!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Caulimash

One of the most important questions I ask myself when choosing a food to eat or recipe to prepare is: how long will this food keep me satisfied?

Unfortunately, when it comes to regular white potatoes, my answer is: not very long! Because of their high glycemic index, white potatoes have a strong impact on your blood sugar. This spike in blood sugar is followed by a subsequent dip, causing hunger to return sooner than it should.

Enter cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, or what I like to call Caulimash. 100% pure cauliflower- seasoned with garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, fresh chives and ghee. The taste is pure heaven on earth! And, because cauliflower has a low glycemic index, it will not cause undesirable effects on your blood sugar. Bonus! An extra bonus…cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it has the power to reduce inflammation in your body.

This past Thanksgiving I made this recipe of Caulimash for my family in place of traditional mashed potatoes and everyone loved it! In fact, my mother (who is VERY hard to please when it comes to food), asked if she could take some of the leftovers. Score! 🙂

Serve it alongside a nice piece of grass fed beef with some roasted carrots and I swear you’ll never miss the spuds. You could also prepare a little extra and add it to your scrambled eggs on Sunday morning. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

 

Print Recipe
Caulimash
100% pure cauliflower- seasoned with garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, fresh chives and ghee. The taste is pure heaven on earth! And, because cauliflower has a low glycemic index, it will not cause undesirable effects on your blood sugar. Bonus! An extra bonus...cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it has the power to reduce inflammation in your body. 3 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥♥
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15
Cook Time 10
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower Remove stems and chop florets into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. grass fed ghee or butter For a richer flavor, use ghee!
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic powder Depending on how garlicky you like it. 1/2 teaspoon is pretty powerful!
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15
Cook Time 10
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower Remove stems and chop florets into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. grass fed ghee or butter For a richer flavor, use ghee!
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic powder Depending on how garlicky you like it. 1/2 teaspoon is pretty powerful!
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
Instructions
  1. Steam cauliflower for 10 minutes until just fork-tender.
  2. Transfer to high-speed blender or food processor and add ghee, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
  3. Pulse about three times to blend ingredients, then run on low speed for 30 seconds until smooth. Caution: If you over-blend, your caulimash will be runny.
  4. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with chives.
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