Introducing: Meals from Mel!

November 22nd, 2019 | no comments

 

I have a great idea that I know you are just going to 💕! 

 

As you know, I offer a weekly recipe as part of my Food for Thought message. I’ve heard from so many of you, that you are loving the meal ideas and would like more.

 

So…I’m pleased as punch to announce that every other week, your Food for Thought will take on a “Meals from Mel” theme, where I offer three simple recipes you can masterfully (and easily) duplicate in your own kitchen. Since I am obsessed with Pinterest, most of these recipes will be inspired by the loving folks who selflessly share their culinary masterpieces with the world. I test each recipe in my own kitchen and tweak it as I see fit.

 

One recipe will be a main dish, the second, a side dish, and the third…a sweet treat to fuel your soul 😘.

 

I never skip this last part, and I’ll tell you why. I wish I could remember the source of this advice, but I once heard someone suggest that if you have a taste for something sweet, rather than go to the store and buy a box of cookies, bake them yourself! Not only will you appreciate them more, the ingredients will be more wholesome (i.e. no preservatives, trans fats, artificial food coloring, etc.). 

Meal planning doesn’t have to stink!

Listen, meal planning doesn’t have to be a daunting task; it’s all in how you perceive it. If you look at it like a chore…I can promise you it will be a huge pain in the ass that you’ll dread like the bubonic plague.

 

On the other hand, if you see it as a loving opportunity to fuel the ones you love with wholesome, nutritious food, it will turn into a “meal plan with a purpose”. It’s almost—dare I say—mission-driven.

But what if you live alone?

What’s the point in cooking for one? It’s especially important to fuel your body with food that you lovingly prepare with your own two hands. It’s the best gift you can give yourself!

YOU are the most important person in your life…and until you fully embrace that, you’ll always find an excuse to put everyone else and their brother on the front burner…while you sit on the back one like a raw, disregarded chicken breast, left out on a 90-degree day. And we all know what happens to that chicken! 

Chill out!

If the thought of meal planning makes you break out in a cold sweat, chill out and begin with planning just one meal a week and increase it from there…or not. I always plan each meal with a goal of squeezing out enough for one extra day of leftovers. So really, I only plan three meals (with three leftover days) and then enjoy one night out at a favorite restaurant. 

Are you excited? I sure am…so let’s get started my friend!

 

This week’s Meals from Mel:

  1. Main: Veggie-Topped Chicken Crust Pizza
    (JUMP TO RECIPE)
  2. Side: Roasted Acorn Squash with Smoky Maple Butter
    (JUMP TO RECIPE)
  3. Sweet: Double Chocolate Walnut Fudge
    (JUMP TO RECIPE)
Print Recipe
Veggie-Topped Chicken Crust Pizza
Unlike traditional pizza, this one fills you up with just two squares... and keeps you satisfied! Because the base is ground chicken and egg, it serves as your protein source. I like to serve a leafy green salad on the side with lots of veggies—mostly raw or leftover roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or broccoli. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 3 large pasture raised eggs
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • avocado oil cooking spray
Toppings
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 3 large pasture raised eggs
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • avocado oil cooking spray
Toppings
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ground chicken with egg and salt. Mix well.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread dough over the foil, forming a rectangle. Bake 15 minutes.
  3. Remove dough from oven and sprinkle with veggies, herbs and cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice into 16 squares and carefully slide a spatula underneath to remove from pan. Enjoy!
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Roasted Acorn Squash with Smoky Maple Butter
This combination of pure maple syrup, cumin, smoked paprika, and grass-fed butter is seriously to die for. As the squash roasts, the flavors seep into the flesh, making for a truly mouthwatering treat!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) Kerrygold butter
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) Kerrygold butter
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Carefully slice squash all the way down the middle, removing stem first if you have trouble. Once halved, slice a thin piece off the round bottom of each half so it sits nicely without rocking. Scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes.
  2. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add the paprika and cumin and stir until fragrant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.
  3. Remove squash from oven and drizzle each half with butter mixture. Continue roasting another 25-35 minutes or until flesh is very soft and easily pierced with a fork, basting every 10 minutes. To baste, pull out oven rack with baking sheet and, with a pastry brush, baste the top edge of the squash with the mixture, then return to oven.
  4. When the squash is roasted, the flesh will be soft and the surface browned (with a few dark brown spots). Remove from oven, let stand a few minutes, and serve.
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Print Recipe
Double Chocolate Walnut Fudge
This isn't a health food...it's an upgraded fudge that contains better-for-you ingredients like almond butter and coconut milk (versus sweetened condensed milk). Plus, it tastes EVEN BETTER than traditional fudge!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips I like Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips I like Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
Instructions
  1. Add chocolate chips through sea salt to a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat while frequently stirring.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare a 9x5 loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. Once the fudge is combined, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, walnuts and cacao nibs.
  3. Pour fudge into prepared pan and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Store at room temperature for up to 12 hours and then refrigerate for up to one week. Slice into 21 squares.
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Double Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Listen, this isn’t a health food…it’s an upgraded fudge that contains better-for-you ingredients like Equal Exchange organic chocolate chips, cacao nibs, almond butter and coconut milk (versus sweetened condensed milk).

Did I mention it tastes EVEN BETTER than the traditional version?

If you’re not into walnuts, you can mix in other ingredients to suite your tastes. Try any of the following (add to fudge at same time as vanilla):

 

Print Recipe
Double Chocolate Walnut Fudge
This isn't a health food...it's an upgraded fudge that contains better-for-you ingredients like almond butter and coconut milk (versus sweetened condensed milk). Plus, it tastes EVEN BETTER than traditional fudge!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips I like Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips I like Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 4 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. cacao nibs I like Navitas brand
Instructions
  1. Add chocolate chips through sea salt to a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat while frequently stirring.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare a 9x5 loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. Once the fudge is combined, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, walnuts and cacao nibs.
  3. Pour fudge into prepared pan and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Store at room temperature for up to 12 hours and then refrigerate for up to one week. Slice into 21 squares.
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Roasted Acorn Squash with Smoky Maple Butter

Indulgent is all I have to say about this comforting, flavorful side dish. The original recipe hails from Mark Bittman’s website. He chose to grill the squash, but I roasted it instead. 

The mouthwatering combination of pure maple syrup, cumin, smoked paprika, and grass-fed butter is seriously to die for. 

I served this as a side dish alongside a couple squares of Veggie-Topped Chicken Crust Pizza, but you could also serve it with roasted turkey or chicken, pulled pork, or a beautiful leafy green salad topped with goat cheese, roasted vegetables, and toasted almonds. 

Who knew wholesome food could taste so flippin’ amazing?!

 

Print Recipe
Roasted Acorn Squash with Smoky Maple Butter
This combination of pure maple syrup, cumin, smoked paprika, and grass-fed butter is seriously to die for. As the squash roasts, the flavors seep into the flesh, making for a truly mouthwatering treat!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) Kerrygold butter
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) Kerrygold butter
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Carefully slice squash all the way down the middle, removing stem first if you have trouble. Once halved, slice a thin piece off the round bottom of each half so it sits nicely without rocking. Scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes.
  2. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add the paprika and cumin and stir until fragrant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.
  3. Remove squash from oven and drizzle each half with butter mixture. Continue roasting another 25-35 minutes or until flesh is very soft and easily pierced with a fork, basting every 10 minutes. To baste, pull out oven rack with baking sheet and, with a pastry brush, baste the top edge of the squash with the mixture, then return to oven.
  4. When the squash is roasted, the flesh will be soft and the surface browned (with a few dark brown spots). Remove from oven, let stand a few minutes, and serve.
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Veggie-Topped Chicken Crust Pizza

 

Following a gluten-free diet or just simply trying to reduce the amount of grains you eat?

 

I’ll bet you’re missing pizza, aren’t you?

 

Well then, you’ll really like this recipe. Unlike traditional pizza, this one fills you up with just two squares… and keeps you satisfied!

Because the base is ground chicken and egg, it serves as your protein source. I like to serve a leafy green salad on the side with lots of veggies—mostly raw or leftover roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or broccoli. 

If I’m in the mood for something more indulgent, I’ll serve it with a side of Roasted Acorn Squash with Smoky Maple Butter

Print Recipe
Veggie-Topped Chicken Crust Pizza
Unlike traditional pizza, this one fills you up with just two squares... and keeps you satisfied! Because the base is ground chicken and egg, it serves as your protein source. I like to serve a leafy green salad on the side with lots of veggies—mostly raw or leftover roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or broccoli. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 3 large pasture raised eggs
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • avocado oil cooking spray
Toppings
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 3 large pasture raised eggs
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • avocado oil cooking spray
Toppings
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ground chicken with egg and salt. Mix well.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread dough over the foil, forming a rectangle. Bake 15 minutes.
  3. Remove dough from oven and sprinkle with veggies, herbs and cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice into 16 squares and carefully slide a spatula underneath to remove from pan. Enjoy!
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You ARE Well-Being (yes, you are!)

November 14th, 2019 | no comments
seed of well-being

Photo by Manuel Sardo on Unsplash

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 


Also in this post (scroll to the very bottom):  Earthfood-Loaded Easy Thanksgiving Dinner!🦃


 

You are well.

Yes, you!

I don’t care:

  • who you are
  • what the mirror reflects
  • what your most recent lab test reveals…

 

Planted deep inside of you is the seed of well-being. 

 

This well-being is similar to that of a seed buried in a pot full of soil. When the proper conditions are met (i.e. temperature, oxygen, water, etc.), Mother Nature takes over and the seed begins to germinate.  

Yes, we all have the potential for better health, and the degree of its expression is dependent upon the hundreds of choices we make every day. 

 

What is the quality of your “soil”?

How would you describe the quality of your soil? Barren and dry? Or rich, fertile, and brimming with nutrients?

To answer this question, I invite you to open up and examine the storybook of your health. Are you experiencing dis-ease? How about those lab results? Are you proud of the outcome, or concerned?

With few exceptions (i.e. non-lifestyle-driven diseases such as juvenile diabetes and the like), if you are not experiencing the health you desire, this is due to a lack of persistent and consistently-practiced wholesome choices. I’m not talking perfection here… because what’s life without the occasional hot fudge sundae or slice of pizza? I’m referring to being relentlessly consistent in the quality of your choices.

 

When it comes to the health of your body, how relentlessly consistent are you in making choices to support the body you want to live in? 

 

Make no mistake, you absolutely have the seed of well-being planted inside of you; whether it sprouts or remains dormant is 100% up to you and completely under your control. 

 

Proof of your well-being: Homeostasis

Where’s the proof of this well-being? I’m so glad you asked, because I know you may be thinking this surely doesn’t apply to you, what with your aching knees and sky-high cholesterol and all.

 

Listen, you are NOT exempt from this inherent gift (no…you’re not!). Your body wants to be well so badly, that it will do everything in its power to return to well-being.

Formally defined, homeostasis means: any self-regulating process by which biological systems maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. 

 

Have you ever had a really strong craving for salty food after a sweaty workout? This is your body’s way of trying to replenish the sodium lost in your sweat. Similarly, when you’ve eaten too much salt, your internal thirst sensors go off and you must drink water. It’s a craving that can’t be satisfied any other way. This is homeostasis in action because too much sodium (or not enough), can be deadly.

 

How about that cut on your finger? Isn’t it amazing how your body knows exactly what to do to heal it? White blood cells rush to the injury site and the process of healing takes place. You don’t have to tell it to form a scab… it just does!

 

Your brilliant body is your ally—if you allow it to be. It knows exactly what to do heal itself if you trust it, feed it well, and then let it do its thing. Think of it like an entire ecosystem.

 

Your well-being ecosystem

Think of your inherent well-being as a single seed, planted in a larger ecosystem. Just like a tomato seed, it requires three things to bloom: nutrient-rich soil, water, and oxygen.

          Soil

Consider the hundreds of choices you are tasked with making every day: what to eat; when to eat; to exercise (or not); when to go to sleep. I could go on and on.

Of course with each choice comes millions of options. For example, imagine you’re at the airport waiting for your flight; you get a little hungry and decide to take a walk around to check out your options. There are literally hundreds of menu items to choose from: soft pretzels, pizza, cookies, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, potato chips, salads, etc.

I’d like you to think of the hundreds of choices you make each day, as collectively forming to determine the quality of the soil in which your seed is planted.

          Water

Higher quality choices act like water and vital nutrients to our “soil”, thereby providing the ideal conditions for our seed of well-being to sprout.

However, when unsupportive choices creep in and dominate, over time they pull water and nutrients out of our soil…and our seed remains dormant. As with every seed found in nature, the potential for germination always exists, but the conditions must be right.

 

It’s no different for you.

 

One single choice won’t destroy the quality of your soil, as long as you buffer it with an abundance of wholesome choices. 

          Oxygen

Put yourself in your favorite restaurant. With menu in hand, you are faced with a decision of what to order.

Although you can’t physically see it, there exists an invisible gap, a tiny moment of space available to you before you commit to your choice.  Most of us step right over the gap and choose in a default, mindless manner without giving it any real consideration: seared salmon with a side of roasted vegetables or double pepperoni and sausage pizza? Duh…pizza of course!

But here’s the thing—when you stand in that gap and take a conscious breath, you are shining a bright light of awareness on your choice, which is akin to supplying essential oxygen to your seed of well-being.

You are in fact breathing life into your choice!

How does taking a breath nourish your seed of well-being? Your breath is the doorway into presence and the pipeline to where you want to be. Because you can’t breathe in the past or future, by pausing to take a fully focused breath, you actually force yourself into the present moment…and this moment is where all of your power lives.

 

This moment is life.

 

Since life is a continuous string of present moments, the more of them you choose to experience, the more powerful decisions you will make.

 

Are you fooling yourself?

How can you be sure you aren’t fooling yourself? After all, some would debate that as long as they are stopping to take a breath before they eat a cookie, they could technically eat cookies all day long.

 

It’s a brilliant argument!

 

Remember, we are living in an ecosystem here—your seed of well-being is nourished by both the quality of soil in which it’s planted (the average of your choices) and the oxygen it receives (the consciousness of the choice, achieved by taking a focused breath).

When you can strike a balance between more wholesome food and lifestyle choices and do it in a state of presence, you are able to enjoy a cookie or scoop of ice cream while still supporting the growth of your seed.

A sure way to tell if you’re on the right track, is by examining your current state of health. Are you full of energy, vitality, and life? If not, you’re out of balance!


 

Have a taste for Thanksgiving dinner before Thanksgiving? Check out my Earthfood-Loaded Easy Thanksgiving Dinner…

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Mac-n-Cheese Stuffed “Jack-O’-Lanterns”

The perfect pre-Trick-or-Treat meal idea! 

The kiddos (and hubby) will never guess there’s a secret ingredient in this mac-n-cheese (it’s butternut squash… shhhh).

Listen, I’m a realist. What’s mac-n-cheese without cheese? Well, it’s not. It’s mac-n-boring.

 

Since I’m all about taste AND nutrition, I chose to upgrade this recipe by doing two things:

  1. Cut the cheese (hee, hee 😜) in half and incorporate cooked butternut squash. 
  2. Use chickpea pasta because of its rich fiber and protein content.  

The orange peppers are raw and serve as a fun container for the meal…and also a great way to get your children to eat more veggies (don’t be surprised if they munch on it as they enjoy the contents)!

Adults…try adding a dash or two of hot sauce. Oh, and eating it out of a “Jack-O’-Lantern” is totally optional…but why would you not? 🎃

Happy Halloween my friends! 👻

Print Recipe
Mac-n-Cheese Stuffed “Jack-O’-Lanterns”
The perfect pre-Trick-or-Treat meal idea! The kiddos (and hubby) will never guess there's a secret ingredient in this mac-n-cheese. 1 Earthfood per serving: 💚 (two if you eat the pepper!)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Banza pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 tbsp. Kerrygold butter
  • 1 cup Red onion, sliced thin
  • 5 cups Butternut squash, cubed (about one small) To save time, purchase peeled and cubed butternut squash!
  • 5 cups Organic chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened nut milk Almond, coconut, cashew, macadamia nut are all good choices.
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2/3 cup Cheese I use a blend of Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large Orange bell peppers
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box Banza pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 tbsp. Kerrygold butter
  • 1 cup Red onion, sliced thin
  • 5 cups Butternut squash, cubed (about one small) To save time, purchase peeled and cubed butternut squash!
  • 5 cups Organic chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened nut milk Almond, coconut, cashew, macadamia nut are all good choices.
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2/3 cup Cheese I use a blend of Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large Orange bell peppers
Instructions
  1. Heat butter in skillet on low to medium heat and add onions. Saute for 15-20 minutes until fragrant and brown.
  2. While onions are cooking, remove the skin and seeds from squash and cut flesh into cubes (or purchase already peeled and cubed butternut squash). Bring broth to a boil in a large pot and add squash. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Drain squash, reserving 1/2 cup of broth. Add squash, reserved broth, milk, sea salt and cooked onions to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  4. Pour sauce over pasta, stirring to coat (see Recipe NOTE below). Stir in cheese and mix until melted throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cut tops off of peppers, clean out seeds and carve! Stuff each pepper “Jack-O’-Lantern" with equal amounts of mac-n-cheese and serve with stem on top. Enjoy! 🎃
Recipe Notes

This recipe makes a bit more sauce than you will need. No worries...store in an airtight container and refrigerate for later in the week.

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“Wholesome” is the New Healthy

October 9th, 2019 | no comments

 

Does the word “healthy” turn you off?  

It’s OK if you said yes, it’s sort of a loaded word after all. Be honest, when you think of a food being “healthy”, tell me you don’t picture twigs, tree bark and grass…tasteless food with enough roughage to sink a luxury cruise-liner.

Lately, I’ve been loving the word wholesome. It says so much, without making you feel like you’re signing on for a life of green juice and kale chips.

 

Wholesome defined…

Wholesome is defined as: promoting health or well-being of body, mind or spirit.

The meals my mom served growing up were wholesome…and comforting; nourishing, without being categorized as “healthy”. They were healthy, but we didn’t know it.

I can still remember the first intoxicating whiff of her homemade spaghetti sauce upon walking in the door after a long, hard day at John Glenn Elementary School 😉. There it sat, simmering all day in the giant stock pot, waiting to be savored. It was the scent of… home.  

Sometimes we get so caught up in the details of carbs, sugar, and fat– not to mention the added stress of a health diagnosis–that we forget one universal important fact: food is meant to be savored and enjoyed.

 

Two characteristics of a wholesome meal

 

In my eyes, a wholesome meal must take into account two elements: taste and quality. 

Taste without quality is called a Big Mac. 

Taste with quality is a grass-fed beef burger, served with mashed avocado, on a bed of greens, adorned with crumbled goat cheese, caramelized Brussels sprouts, roasted pecans and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and a few cranks of pink Himalayan sea salt (don’t forget to toss in a few fresh berries). 

 

Another example of a flavorful meal lacking in quality is a plate of pasta drenched in sugar-laced Ragu meat sauce with a side of cheesy garlic bread. 

A delicious meal with quality is a simple homemade meat sauce made with organic pork and organic grass-fed beef (cooked in the crock-pot while you’re away at work), served over butternut squash “noodles” and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Oh…and a side of roasted garlicky broccoli!

 

Is your mouth watering yet? Try this wholesome meal idea

 

By the way, I made the above amazing meal over the weekend and my house smelled just like…home. It took me 10 minutes to brown the meat before work and 20 minutes to roast the broccoli and heat the “noodles” when I got home. To make this wholesomely delicious meal for your family, click HERE for the recipe .

Keep in mind, I made the following alterations:

  • True Story Organic Ground Pork (in place of loose pork sausage). If you can’t find True Story pork, any organic ground pork will do, or at the very least, a pork with no antibiotics or added hormones. 
  • Grass-fed organic beef (in place of ground beef). As above, if you can’t find organic grass-fed beef, choose grass-fed beef without antibiotics or added hormones. 
  • Ready-made butternut squash noodles (in place of making my own). Many grocery stores offer the convenience of fresh “noodled” vegetables in the produce department, or you can find them in the frozen food section too! 
  • Rather than the oven, I sautéed the butternut squash noodles stove-top in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper.   

To make the garlicky roasted broccoli, use this recipe.

Rather than consume yourself with calories, carbs, and fat, think wholesome. Ask yourself: is it both tasty AND of a quality worthy of grandma’s stamp of approval?

If yes, you’re golden! 

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4 Factors Affecting Your Food Cravings

September 25th, 2019 | no comments

 

Struggling with your food cravings and eating habits? There’s hope my friend. Check out my 30-Day Whole Body Health Program– it begins October 16th and is completely online! Learn a little more about it in this short but sweet video, including the 4 Factors Affecting Your Food Cravings.

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When You Have a Sweet Craving (and grapes won’t cut it)

September 24th, 2019 | no comments

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I always cringe just a bit whenever I overhear a well-meaning health professional/coach suggest we “eat a cluster of grapes” to curb our pressing sweet tooth. 

I cringe because I used to offer the same suggestion (eek!).

So what’s wrong with this advice? I mean, it sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it?

It’s reasonable…until you try it. 

When I attempted to follow my own recommendation and chomp on a handful of red grapes, when what I was really craving was an ooey-gooey vanilla hot fudge sundae with salted nuts and whipped cream, I would eat the grapes…and then the sundae (and often a cookie too, because after all I just blew it…or so I told myself).

How could I continue dispensing this advice when I couldn’t follow it myself? I couldn’t.

 

Sometimes you don’t want flippin’ grapes!

Here’s the thing– sometimes you don’t want grapes! Sometimes you want ooey-gooey, covered in caramel and chocolate sauce! And dammit, sometimes you just want to feel human and not like a robotic, grape-eating student of perfect nutrition.

The truth is, we all like a little ooey-gooey (or crispy, salty, not-kale) once in a while. These “imperfections” are actually part of the perfection of this Universe, and honoring them is one of the most honorable things you can do…provided you aren’t doing it every single day (and if that’s the case, we need to talk😀). 

So is there a way to have your ooey-gooey and eat it too?

Yes! And in this short post I will offer you three effective strategies depending on the depth and nature of your craving.

 

3 Ways to settle your sweet tooth

To choose the strategy that is right for you in the moment, begin by asking yourself “what am I craving?” If your answer is very generic, such as sweet, salty, or crunchy, you will find the first strategy to be very effective. The second and third strategies are for more specific cravings. 

Strategy #1: Craving something sweet but NOT specific

If you simply have a taste for something sweet, without a particular attribute like “ooey-gooey” or “sweet and crunchy”, here’s where a cluster of grapes, a sweet Fuji apple, or small bowl of fresh berries can work beautifully.

Give it a try and see what happens, but don’t judge it as a failure if you’re still craving sweet afterwards. This just means your craving was probably more specific than you realized. Ask yourself “what specifically am I craving?” and move on to strategy two.

Strategy #2: Craving something sweet AND specific

If you can describe your craving (assuming it’s not for grapes😉), consider what I call an “upgraded’ version of the original. Notice I didn’t say “healthy”; there’s a big difference. While the upgrade may wind up being healthy, I find it best to avoid trying to turn a traditional favorite into something totally unrecognizable by your taste buds. It takes away all the fun…and will probably leave your craving unfulfilled.  

For example, I rarely crave ice cream, but when I do I can’t get it out of my mind. Last week was one of those occasions.

Now, I could’ve gone to the grocery store and picked up a container of plain Greek yogurt and mixed it with berries, nuts and honey– an example of a “healthified” version of ice cream. But dammit, I wanted ice cream! Frozen, ooey-gooey, whipped cream…you know what I’m talkin’ about!

So here’s what I did.

After dinner, Wayne and I made a special trip to Mitchell’s ice cream shop in Ohio City and treated ourselves to real ice cream.

I chose a Pumpkin Patch Sundae, with pumpkin spice ice cream made with roasted pumpkin and the milk of local grass-fed cows, homemade whipped cream, salted pecans, and caramel sauce without any artificial ingredients. 

Was it healthy? Hell no! But I wasn’t after health. I eat ice cream maybe twice a year, and dammit…I wanted ice cream. Not low-sugar frozen yogurt with berries. Screw berries- I wanted whipped cream! 

The key to this second strategy is exercising thoughtful intention. To do this, ask yourself: how can I make this choice a little better without robbing it of the flavors and attributes I am after?

Notice how I exercised thoughtful intention with my choice: a company who makes their own ice cream from scratch using locally sourced, fair trade ingredients. By the way, I couldn’t even finish it because it was way too sweet for my buds. Next time I’ll order it with just a drizzle of caramel sauce. 

Strategy #3: Craving something sweet and SUPER specific

If your sweet craving is so specific and can’t possibly be upgraded– which by the way is rarely the case if you really examine it–then just go for it my friend. 

For example, when I’m craving a maple cream Jack Frost donut, there’s not one impostor out there that can even come close to comparing with the real thing. And once I year…I absolutely go for it on my birthday.

Here’s the thing, if you decide to implement this strategy you must be willing to do four things:

  1. Enjoy it immensely.
  2. Eat it slowly and savor all of the flavors of this divine treat before you.
  3. Pay attention to how your body is receiving the food. Ask yourself: Is my craving satisfied yet? Even though you may have only eaten seven spoonfuls of ice cream, your craving may in fact be satisfied, and eating any more may actually make you sick!
  4. Eat it without guilt and don’t reprimand yourself for a week afterwards. If you plan on doing this, don’t even bother eating it in the first place!

In other words, don’t eat it with wild abandon like a dog who just discovered a half-eaten pot roast within paw’s reach.

Be intentional.

Plan when you’ll eat it, and then…enjoy it! 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Pure Maple Syrup

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

No, it’s not a health food. Pure maple syrup is still 100% sugar and will raise your blood sugar, but it’s one of those “upgraded” ingredients I mentioned in the above post.

It does have a slightly lower glycemic response compared to regular old table sugar, but that’s not why I consider it an upgrade.

Unlike Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, or any other commercial pancake syrup, pure maple syrup is a product of Mother Nature and has literally one ingredient: PURE MAPLE SYRUP.

By contrast, check out the ingredient list of Aunt Jemima’s Original Syrup:

CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE

Come on! Your body deserves better than this garbage disguised as maple syrup. By the way, Aunt Jemima’s Butter Rich Syrup contains NO butter (it says so right on the front!). What you’re really tasting is artificial flavors and chemicals.  

Pure maple syrup produced earlier in the season– called Grade A Golden Color Delicate Taste or Grade A Amber Color Rich Taste– tends to be lighter in color and more subtle in flavor. Dark robust syrup is produced later in the season and is labeled as either Grade A Dark Color Robust Taste or Grade A Very Dark Color Strong Taste.

Nutritionally,  pure maple syrup offers approximately 24 different antioxidants and a handful of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, manganese, potassium, calcium, and riboflavin. Some research shows that darker syrups tend to be richer in antioxidants than lighter varieties.

Check out this week’s recipe pick for Maple Pumpkin 3-Seed Brittle, it uses a touch of pure maple syrup as the sweetener! 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Maple Pumpkin 3-Seed Brittle 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Maple Pumpkin 3-Seed Brittle

I’ve always loved the crunch and sweetness of peanut brittle, but the store-bought kind is often made with GMO-filled sugar and corn syrup.

I’m not partial to peanuts per se, and actually found that by swapping peanuts with pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, and sugar with pure maple syrup, not only is this recipe a peanut brittle upgrade…it’s even better than the original (and you won’t crack any teeth!). 

The original recipe comes from www.feedingbig.com. Thank you Cynthia, for a wonderful recipe!

Print Recipe
Maple Pumpkin 3-Seed Brittle
By swapping peanuts with pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, and sugar with pure maple syrup, not only is this recipe a peanut brittle upgrade...it's even better than the original (and you won't crack any teeth!). 1 Earthfood per serving: 💚
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds through salt, then add maple syrup and vanilla, mixing until well coated.
  2. Place mixture on baking sheet and press into an even layer about ⅛-inch thick. Use a piece of parchment paper to flatten the seeds, pressing out the middle so it’s slightly thinner than the edges. This will help prevent burning.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely so that it becomes crispy. Once crispy, break into bark-shaped pieces and store in airtight container.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 150Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 120 mg; Potassium: 205 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 14 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Net Carbohydrates: 12 grams;Sugar: 7 g (6 grams added sugar from maple syrup);Protein: 4 g

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