Curried Sweet Potatoes – Serves 6

Everyone needs a sidekick.  Batman has Robin and every meal needs sweet potatoes.  This is one of my favorite quick sides that you can serve with just about any meal whether hot or cold (or just set aside a scoop for a small snack).  I made this for dinner the other night alongside scallops and garlicky Brussels sprouts.  However, I’ve been pairing the leftovers with my ‘Grab and Go Egg Scramble,’ and it has been absolutely mouthwatering!  Best of all it is nut, dairy, and gluten-free.

Pretty sure you know the hype surrounding sweet potatoes but just in case you don’t, here goes – great source of vitamins A and C, micronutrients (potassium, phosphorus, and copper are a few to name), contains fiber, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and assists with blood sugar regulation.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes; minced/diced
  • 3 scallion stalks and most of the root; minced
  • 1/2 tsp of curry powder and paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (to heat the frying pan)

Methodology:

  1. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Allow the pan to heat for 1-2 minutes and circulate the oil throughout the surface of the pan.
  2. Cook the scallions well until the white pieces aka the root is slightly tinged yellow.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and stir/toss well for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the spices and stir/toss for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and pair with your desired meal!
  6. Get your antioxidant action going!

xxx – Sarah

Thyme Spiced Lamb Chops & Vinegar Loaded Brussels – Serves 2

As a kid my mother used to make lamb chops once a month and it was a favorite amongst us kids!  I was feeling ultra nostalgic today…  Must have been my recent visit to New York that led to the cravings and water works.  Hmm.

Lamb is a great source of protein and a great way to change up your oral intake.  Lamb can be grilled, roasted, pan fried, and much more.  I love to roast lamb in a makeshift tinfoil dish since it means no mess, no fuss.  This is a simple and quick dish that will leave your dinner guests wanting more – I swear.  Also, cooking with parchment paper on baking pans/sheets is another great way to save time (and your manicure).

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Thyme Spiced Lamb Chops 

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb chops (about 1#)
  • A mix of the following spices to coat the chops on both sides:
    • French thyme (about 1.5 tbsp)
    • Paprika (about 1.5 tbsp)
    • Black pepper (about 1 tbsp)
  • OPTIONAL: on one side of the chops add a pinch or two of coarse sea salt

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix the spices evenly together and cover the chops.
  3. Create a makeshift tinfoil pan with at least two layers of foil on the bottom then add the chops.
  4. Roast the chops in the oven for 15-18 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, drain out the juices, discard the tinfoil, and plate.
  6. If you’re looking for a game changer then pair with my ‘Vinegar Loaded Brussels’ – absolute heaven.

Vinegar Loaded Brussels

Ingredients:

  • 1/2# Brussels sprouts; halved/quartered
  • Vinegar mixture:
    • 1 tbsp black pepper
    • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
    • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the vinegar mixture.
  3. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss well.
  4. Layer on a baking pan one sheet of parchment paper then spread the Brussels evenly on the paper.  Some of the vinegar mixture may left in the bowl and that’s okay!
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on crispiness desired… I love a little bit of crispy and ‘not so crispy’ so I opted for 23 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and pair with a protein of choice – I highly recommend my ‘Thyme Spiced Lamb Chops.’
  7. Bon appétit!

 

xxx – Sarah

 

Flanken Style Peppered Ribs – Serves 3+

Long live BBQ season…  Then again, I live in Texas now.  BBQ is life.  I was recently abroad in China and Thailand eating my way through the towns.  Now that was heaven.  Since I’ve been home all I’ve craved is BBQ.  I wanted ribs last night so I made it happen.  In my opinion good ribs need a perfect rub and/or sauce.  The ribs were made sans sauce since many contain an insane amount of sugar and frankly a good rub can be more than enough.  All I have to say post-creation is that these ribs were mouthwatering and I really didn’t want to share.

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Flanken style ribs.  From its name you can derive that they are from the back of the cow aka the flank.  These ribs are awesome, I’ll tell you why:  1) Ultra meaty and well-marbled, 2) Cut across bone meaning the bone pieces are oval, 3) Best when slow cooked to release the bone marrow, collagen, and fat, and 4) Usually cut thin.  Lastly these ribs are half the price of the much loved ‘short ribs.’

Fun fact  ::  If you don’t already know, most grocery spots have bulk sections, utilize this.   Rather than spending $4.00-10.00 on bottled spices – package your own in sealable bags, get the exact amount you need, and spend a fraction of the cost!  Spices are usually best for 6 months to a year therefore don’t be wasteful with a bottle that won’t be finished.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds flanken style ribs (thin cut with 3-4 oval shaped bones per strip)
  • 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. brown mustard seeds
  • 1-1.5 tbsp. paprika

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine all spices to create the rub.
  3. Create tinfoil bowl out of at least 2 sheets of tinfoil.
  4. Cover the ribs with the spice mixture.FullSizeRender_6
  5. Place the ribs atop the tinfoil then cover with a single sheet creating a tinfoil boat.
  6. Place tinfoil covered ribs in the middle of the oven directly on the oven grid
    with a cooking sheet below in case juices fall out. 
  7. Cook for 2.5 hours then remove from heat and drain out the juices (goodbye fat/liquid love).
  8. Cut into the ribs into pieces with either 1 or 2 bones and serve with your favorite sides.
  9. Time to get messy! 

 

xxx – Sarah

PS – Have some hand wipes nearby… 

 

Fried Quinoa Stuffed Peppers & Coconut Lime Shrimp – Serves 4

Back to the grind.  Spent the weekend brunching, laughing, and lounging.  I try to do bulk cooking on Sundays but I was a weeeee bit too lazy so meal prep day was moved to Monday.  Now I’ve got leftovers for all my lunches – perfect.

I’ll keep this educational piece short and sweet…  These recipes are super easy and the ingredients are good for you!  Yes, good for you.  The more variety, the better.  Think color, think antioxidants.  Lastly, these stuffed peppers are perfect for vegetarians – not only are they filled with varied vegetables but quinoa is a complete protein.  Not all complete proteins need to come from meat, poultry, or seafood!  However I wanted seafood so I put together the fixings for my favorite shrimp recipe.

Fried Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 colored Bell Peppers with the insides/core removed
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 cup green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 tbsp pineapple, crushed
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • SPICES (4-5 shakes):  Curry powder, tumeric, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and ground black pepper
  • OPTIONAL:  Sea salt
  • Coconut oil – enough to coat a frying pan

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Heat a frying pan with coconut oil under medium-high heat.
  4. Add to the frying pan the following ingredients: yellow onion, cilantro, green onion, peanuts, carrots, and pineapple.  Sauté well for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the quinoa, egg, spices, and salt (if used).  Sauté for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the quinoa mixture from heat and stuff the pepper shells.  Place the bottoms of the peppers directly on the parchment paper and allow the insides to face up.
  7. Cook for 15 minutes then set on a plate for serving!

Coconut Lime Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1# jumbo shrimp, fresh with the tails/shells removed (or frozen)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juice (the size of a golf ball)
  • Coconut oil to coat frying pan

Methodology:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Under medium-high heat add coconut oil to a frying pan.
  3. Toss in the shrimp mixture and cook until golden brown.
  4. Set aside for serving or add to the plate with the stuffed pepper – such an amazing combination.  Makes me want to go someplace tropical.

What else was on my plate?  I did add my usual staple of greens which tends to be either kale, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts.  As seen above, I added my Garlic Peppered Asparagus but unlike the linked recipe I did not add pumpkin seeds or Brussels.

xxx – Sarah

Thai Ginger Peanut Wings – Serves a Dozen+

Super Bowl.  Wings.  Those two words represent American favorites that go hand in hand. I officially coin the Super Bowl as a free pass to indulge lightly.  Those football players are burning some serious calories and shedding sodium so it’s our duty to support them by eating!

Most of my friends looooooove wings, and I was going to a party, thus culinary thoughts went wild in my head.  This dish is filled with flavor and best of all is that none of it was sodium (salt) based!

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Did you know, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention/water weight, thirst, puffiness around the eyes, and swelling to the extremities?  Maybe rethink the salt shaker next time OR do a ‘1-2’ count when using a shaker to prevent adding too much salt.  The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for a Healthy Eating Pattern recommends consumption of less than 2300 mg of salt daily.  Here’s some food for a thought, a teaspoon (tsp) is equivalent to 2300 mg of salt.  No wonder there were times when I couldn’t bend my fingers or my eyes looked tired – I’m guilty of having a heavy hand with the salt shaker at times.  It’s a love/hate relationship.

Ingredients:

  • 4# chicken wings with the skin (dry with paper towels before using)
  • 1 large bundle of cilantro, minced (1 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large bundle of green onion (1 cup)
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp ginger, minced/grated
  • 2 tbsp apple vinegar
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • Juice of a medium lime (1/4 cup)
  • OPTIONAL or as desired: sea salt

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large cooking pan (disposable tin) lay out the wings and top with black pepper.  Cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Separately under medium-high heat sauté the green onion, cilantro, coconut flour, sesame oil, EVOO, peanuts, garlic, ginger, lime juice, apple vinegar, and dry spices (chili powder, red pepper flakes, powdered ginger and turmeric).
  3. Remove wings from the oven and cover with the green onion and cilantro mixture.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes until desired texture/crispiness is achieved.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and/or peanuts prior to serving.  If your friends are afraid of life without salt – add it at your own discretion.
  6. Gooooo Broncos!

 

xxx – Sarah

Fudge Brownie Drops – Serves 5+

I had the whole weekend to work on my letter of intent for doctoral school but…  I had a craving for brownies which took over my Saturday.  Whoops, yet so worth it.  I had lots of fun creating this recipe using what I had at home and did lots of tasting during (too much).  Best part is that these brownies are gluten and dairy-free aka WINNING.  

Unsweetened cocoa powder packs a bitter but powerful taste and is a pure form of chocolate.  This powder is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols which are also found in another favorite item of mine — red wine.  Polyphenols are known to help reduce cancers as well as lower blood pressure and effects of aging.  Cocoa powder is a natural stimulant thus if you need an extra boost in the morning – sprinkle some into your coffee or oatmeal!  Lastly, cocoa powder contains a natural antidepressant called phenethylamine that mimics the natural ‘high’ experienced post exercise.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2 tbsp avocado, fresh
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (light)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 large medjool dates, mashed with the pits removed
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a blender combine the melted chocolate, eggs, coconut oil, and coconut milk, then pulse well.  
  2. Fold in the remainder of the ingredients – cocoa powder, coconut powder, almond butter, avocado, dates, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.  Pulse well until all the ingredients are one uniform batter.  
  3. Try to refrain from tasting so you have enough to actually cook!
  4. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper and use a tablespoon to drop the chocolate batter.  Leave about a quarter sized space between each drop.
  5. Cook well for 20-25 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and remove it clean.
  6. Serve when trying to distract someone…  Works every time.  

xxx – Sarah

 

Berry Good Banana Bread – Serves 12

O-M-G.  I’m obsessed with this bread – I won’t lie but it’s almost finished and I made it like yesterday.  I’ve been playing around with flavors in my kitchen since the weather has been cold…  Then again, who am I kidding, it’s like 60-70 degrees in Texas.  My mom always made banana bread when I was a kid and frankly I needed a taste of home but sans the gluten and dairy.  Basically I changed my mother’s recipe and just kept the bananas.

Potassium.  It’s a very important mineral and bananas are loaded with it!  What does potassium even do?  Well, it’s a mineral that helps to keep your heart, nerves, and muscles working properly.  Thus when dehydrated many individuals chug energy drinks with potassium but sometimes its easier, healthier, and cheaper to opt for actual food sources.  Other good food sources of potassium include oranges, pomegrante, dates, tomato and tomato-based products, potatoes, winter squash, avocados, broccoli, dried/refried/baked beans, milk, nuts and seeds, and some salt substitutes.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yellow bananas, ripe
  • 3 frozen bananas, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp light coconut milk
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil (+extra for greasing the pan)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 or more tbsp cinnamom or pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (or 1-2 grinds) sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (or other berries)
  • 2 tbsp mini milk chocolate chips

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a loaf pan (or pan that is about 9×5 inches) with coconut oil OR you can line with parchment paper.
  3. In a blender combine the eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, almond butter, 2 fresh bananas, and 2 frozen bananas.
  4. Fold in the coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and sea salt.  Blend all ingredients until mixture is homogeneous.
  5. In the greased pan pour half the mixture then set aside.
  6. Using a small bowl mash up the defrosted banana and berries.
  7. Evenly the mashed fruit over the mixture in the pan.
  8. With the remainder of the banana mixture, fold in the chocolate chips and mix, then pour over the berries.  Use a spatula to try and spread the mixture evenly.
  9. Cook for 60-70 minutes or until a knife/utensil can be inserted and removed clean.
  10. Allow to cool then serve with your finest tea, wine, or coffee.
  11. Bottom’s up!

 

xxx – Sarah

 

 

Vanilla Candied Brussels and Pistachio Peppered Beef topped with a Poached Egg – Serves 4

I can pretty much add an egg to everything…  And I do.   As previously mentioned, throw out the notion that eggs and their yolks are bad for you…  Totally yesterday’s news.

Egg yolks contain MORE nutrients than an egg white.  Egg whites have fewer calories and protein compared to the whole egg.  However the yolk provides extra protein along with micronutrients that include iron, phosphorus, zinc, and folate, and the fatty vitamins (A, D, E, and K).  The B-complex vitamins found in whole eggs include biotin, selenium, and choline which are crucial during the creation of the human nervous system as well as its maintenance throughout the lifespan.  

These are two incredibly easy recipes to make and/or keep for leftovers during the week.  As I always say, leftovers always taste best, plus you don’t have to lift a finger.  Basically I made both recipes and then consecutively layered them with a poached egg on top.  This can be made at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner…  Brunch was my poison of choice.

Vanilla Candied Brussels

Ingredients: 

  • 1# Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • About 1 tbsp/enough to grease a cooking sheet – coconut oil or EVOO

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a cooking sheet with coconut oil or EVOO.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the Brussels sprouts, vinaigrette, vanilla extract, and spices, then lay out evenly on the cooking sheet.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until desired texture is achieved (less than 20 minutes for more moisture or greater than 20 minutes for crispiness).  At the cooking half point, utilize a spatula and lightly toss the Brussels to ensure that all sides are cooked well.
  5. Remove from oven, set aside for use, or cool down and store.

 

Pistachio Peppered Beef

Ingredients:

  • 1# beef, ground (98% lean)
  • 1/2 cup yellow and red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced and minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (make sure all the shells are removed – you don’t want broken teeth)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced/minced/chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • About 1 tbsp/enough to grease a frying pan – coconut oil or EVOO
  • Spices to taste (2-3 shakes):  Cumin, paprika, curry powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and black pepper
  • Optional:  Salt

Methodology:

  1. Drizzle coconut oil or EVOO in a frying pan under medium-high heat.
  2. Toss into the frying pan onions, sweet potatoes, cilantro, and garlic, and mix well for about 3-5 minutes or until onions are golden.
  3. Add pistachios,peppers, spices, and ground beef to the pan.  Sautee for 10-15 minutes until beef is well cooked or has met an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (this is the minimum temperature set by the USDA to kill E-Coli).
  4. Set aside to add to a meal or cool down to store.

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Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 2 cups water or just enough to cover the egg
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Methodology:

  1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and white vinegar.
  3. Drop one egg in and using a large spoon whip the water around the egg in circular motion until the whites are close to the yolk.  Cook for about 2 minutes then remove and repeat with the remainder eggs.
  4. Serve atop the layered Vanilla Candied Brussels and Pistachio Ground Beef.
  5. Don’t forget to poke the yolk for extra taste!

 

xxx – Sarah

Mad about Yolks

Many historical studies show that egg yolk consumption led to high cholesterol.  Rather the yolk is NOT the primary contributor for high cholesterol, it takes more than just egg yolks to cause high cholesterol.  What?!?  In other words, look at your lifestyle as a whole along with its various components rather than one particular area – what you eat daily (primary dietary cholesterol outlets include: saturated animal fats and full-fat dairy products), whether you smoke and/or drink alcohol, how you sleep, and levels of physical activity.

FullSizeRender_4If you have high cholesterol, consuming one whole egg daily in conjunction with a healthy diet, moderate physical activity, and sleep, does not warrant worry.  The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines does not specify the daily recommendation for dietary cholesterol but the Healthy US Style Eating Pattern recommends 100-300 mg daily (Key Elements of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines).  Those with or at risk for high cholesterol should follow the proposed 100-300 mg range for dietary cholesterol consumption.  A whole egg has about 2/3 of this proposed cholesterol content.

 

Time to get crackin’ with those eggs whatever your fancy may be – sunny side up, poached, hard boiled, or scrambled.

xxx – Sarah

Wellness Travel Essentials

If you’re anything like me – airports can be stressful when trying to stick to your meal plans or stay within a budget.  Let’s face it, $5.50-7.00+ for a 16-24 ounce water bottle is legit nuts.  Since air pressure can lead to migraines – I try to limit my sugar intake which would only aid and abet.   As a frequent flier fanatic, I’ve perfected my travel routine, and compiled some travel secrets that will help you to eat and drink like a champion.

  1. Reusable tumbler or water bottle (24 ounces+):  Most airports have begun to go green and offer water re-fill stations thus locate em and start walking!  This is a great way to save on expensive water purchases.
  2. Snack sandwich bags:  Great for portioning your food.  I always say – eat half on the departure trip and save the other half for the return trip.  These are some great items to toss/mix into sandwich bags:
    1. Beef or turkey jerky:  Great way to consume lean protein when on the road.  I opt for either the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s brand of basic jerky.  I love the teriyaki versions but then that means more additives – so no.  Pick and choose your poison.
    2. Nuts:  I love pistachios that are shelled since they keep my fingers busy during the long flights.  Raw nuts are also a great option (almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia, etc.) if you’re doing work or want an easy munch.
    3. Plantain chips:  Great alternative to regular potato chips and are usually just seasoned with S&P – for these, I usually go to the bulk section of Whole Foods or buy the packaged version(s) from Trader Joe’s then re portion into a sandwich bag.
    4. Protein powder:  Pre-portion one full scoop for mixing later during the trip to help meet your protein needs if you are not a meat eater nor wanting to open up a can of stinky beans or fish.
  3. Protein bars:  I love nut/fruit bars especially those gluten and dairy-free.  When choosing bars opt for those above 5-7 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar.  There are SO many out there but my favorites include: Kind and RXBAR.
  4. Sealed bag of cucumbers, basil, mint, or berries:  This is an easy way to make your plain water more ‘artisanal’ when on the road and not wanting to opt for powders such as Crystal Lite.

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Happy and Safe Travels Y’all!

xxx – Sarah