Healthy Recipes

cropped-img_9997.jpg

Healthy Commuter Breakfast

This healthy commuter breakfast takes a little bit of planning but is totally worth the effort, and once you’ve done it a few times the prep becomes automatic.

Ingredients:

1 container high-protein greek yogurt with fruit
2 Tbsp chia seeds
6 Tbsp almond milk (30 calorie version)
2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp Ezekiel Almond cereal (more if desired)
1/2 banana

Directions:

The night before…

  1. Put milk and chia into a 1.5 C plastic container with water-tight lid. Tighten cover and shake vigorously for a few seconds. As you’re going about your evening routine, shake it a couple more times. Before going to bed, put in the frig and put the carton of yogurt on top of it.
  2. Measure out sunflower seeds and cereal in a little container (it doesn’t have to be covered). Leave this out on counter, along with a banana, a small bag*, two spoons, a napkin, and a sharp knife.

In the morning…

  1. Pull the containers of chia mix and yogurt out of the frig and open them. Pour the cereal/sunflower seed mix into the chia mix, dump the yogurt on top of it (scraping out every tiny bit of that healthy yumminess) and mix it up good with one of the spoons. Toss the dirty spoon in the dishwasher (or the sink if you’re lazy like me).
  2. Cut the banana in half, peel the half you like best and cut up the banana into the top of the container. Don’t stir! Put the knife in the sink with the spoon. (They’ll need to keep each other company in that big empty sink all day long.)
  3. Tighten the lid onto the container and put it in the bag with the spoon and napkin and tuck into your backpack or tote.
  4. It will keep for up to two hours, so simply eat when you are hungry and then put everything back into the bag.

Substitutions:

To customize your healthy commuter breakfast, try changing it up with one of these substitutions.

  • Oats instead of Ezekiel cereal
  • Chopped walnuts instead of sunflower seeds
  • Coconut milk instead of almond milk
  • If you are lactose intolerant or vegan: use almond or coconut yogurt instead of greek yogurt, but the consistency will be relatively watery.

Notes and Resources:

  • The plastic container, spoon, and bag can all be disposable if you just want to throw the whole thing out in the nearest trash can after you are done. Better yet, find a recycle bin.
  • For the smallest carbon footprint, go for a reusable container, a reusable bag (I like these cute inexpensive ones I found on Amazon), and a regular flatware spoon or travel spoon that you don’t mind carrying with you. Just close the container, wrap the spoon in the napkin and place it into the bag and put back in your backpack. Yes, you’ll have to carry it around but it will be lighter and your commuter breakfast will be guilt-free as well as healthy and delicious.
  • Other container ideas: reuse empty plastic peanut butter or mayonnaise jars a few times before tossing them into the recycle bin.  Also, those white soup containers from chinese takeout are a perfect size but not 100% airtight.  Anything about 12 to 16 ounces works.
cropped-img_9997.jpg

Vegan “Dirty” Brown Rice

This is a wonderful rice dish as a main course. You can spice it up with any of your favorite vegetables and or hot peppers.  For a protein-rich version add a drained and rinsed can of black or red beans along with the vegetables

1 cup of fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup of fresh cauliflower, chopped
1 cup of sliced carrots
2 cups of long grain brown rice
5 1/2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb or herb blend (optional)

Combine 2 cups of long grain brown rice and 5 1/2 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Add carrots and seasonings, stir and bring to a boil. (Add 1-2 tbsp of butter or oil if desired.)

Reduce heat and cover tightly.

Simmer 30 minutes, then lift cover and quickly add the cauliflower and broccoli. Don’t stir.
Re-cover immediately.

Simmer 15-20 minutes longer, or until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.

Fluff lightly with a fork and serve.

Nutritional Value of Brown Rice (1 cup cooked)

216 Calories
1.8 g Total Fat
0 g Cholesterol
10 mg of Sodium
84 mg of Potassium
45 g Total Carbohydrates
5 g Protein

Nutritional Values of Vegetables (1 cup raw)

73.6 Calories
.8 g Total Fat
0 mg Cholesterol
89 mg Sodium
2607 mg Potassium
15 gr Carbohydrates
5.26 g Protein

cropped-img_9997.jpg

Avoiding Bad Influences

During the week I have a corporate job with a very well established company with lots of resources. Recently I went to a company training event where they provided a “continental breakfast.” There were two tables in the breakfast area. They weren’t marked as such but I could tell they were making an attempt to give people the choice of comfort food vs. healthy food. On the “healthy” table there was a large platter of fruit, including cut up melon and various kinds of berries. OK so that’s a good start. Next to the fruit platter sat a large container of creamy (i.e. not the greek type) yogurt to spoon over your fruit. I did not taste the yogurt, but my guess is that it was vanilla flavored and had sugar. As long as you were not lactose intolerant or diabetic, it was probably fine.

I had some fruit, skipping the lactose-laden, blood sugar-spiking yogurt/dessert topping.

Muffin PlatterOn the other table was an even larger platter with a gorgeous array of pastries and muffins. Ah the allure of comfort food… white processed flour and white processed sugar… warm it up and add a pat of butter. I am salivating just thinking about the steamy aroma and messy yumminess of salty melted butter commingling with sweet runny blueberries. Sigh. Alas, anything but healthy.

Next to the Platter of Heavenly Sin, there was a slightly smaller platter with a pile of bagels and a variety of flavored cream cheeses. I figured there must be at least one or two whole grain bagels in the pile as I noticed a few oat flakes speckled the plate and table nearby. For sure, cream cheese has some protein in it but any nutritional advantage is swallowed up by the abundance of saturated dairy fat molecules that surround it. And who knows what else was in the cream cheese in order to make it taste like strawberries or honeyed walnuts or whatever. Besides the runny vanilla yogurt, the flavored cream cheese was the only bit of protein I saw at the whole breakfast. I would have been thrilled with some hard boiled eggs or plain greek yogurt…

Finally, there were a few different kinds of juice, and of course, coffee. All in all, a nice solid breakfast of pure carbs, mostly processed. Thank goodness for the coffee to keep us all awake during our mid-morning sugar crash.

Avocado - Removing Pit 2

The Art of Cubing an Avocado

Years ago I learned (from somewhere — maybe my Mom, maybe a YouTube video, it hardly matters) the absolute best way to dice an avocado in beautiful, delicious, creamy, uniform cubes. Follow my pictorial below and you’ll be transforming avocados into gorgeous green gourmet goodness in no-time flat.

1) With a medium-sized very sharp knife (I always have very sharp knives, I sharpen them every single time I use them) slice the avocado all the way around lengthwise, cutting the flesh all the way to the pit.  Twist the two halves apart.

Avocado cut in half

2) Whack the pit with the sharp edge of the knife hard enough for the knife to stick.
Avocado - Removing Pit 1

3) Twist the knife parallel with the cutting surface. The pit will “unstick” from the flesh and come out, stuck to the knife. A well-ripened avocado will release its pit fairly easily.  Carefully (don’t cut yourself!) pull the pit off the knife. The pit is slippery and all too often the pit ends up jumping out of my hand and rolling across the kitchen floor.  It happened just this morning in fact…
Avocado - Removing Pit 2

4) Make vertical cuts in the avocado flesh, evenly spaced.  It doesn’t matter how big the slices are as long as they are around the same size.  Cut all the way through to the skin but don’t pierce the skin.  I mean the world won’t end if you pierce the skin but if your hand is on the other side holding it, well… ew nobody wants blood on their avocado.  Just sayin’.

(BTW the picture is kind of funky here.  Besides being upside down, you can’t actually cut the avocado without holding it with the non-knife hand. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I took this photo.)
Avocado - Slicing

5) Now make horizontal slices into the flesh, perpendicular to the first set of cuts.  Make them about the same size so you’ll have evenly sized cubes.  (Again with the not-holding of the avocado… sheesh.)
Avocado - Dicing

6) This step is most satisfying! Gently squeeze the avocado as shown, gently pressing inwards on the opposite ends of the skin of the fruit. Look at those cubes start to come apart! What a cool fruit.
Avocado - Squeeze 1
Avocado - Squeeze 2

7) Holding the avocado in the palm of your non-dominant hand, grab an ordinary table spoon with your other hand (I like the larger size because it matches the curve of the fruit better, but the smaller size works too – whatever floats your boat) and dig into the edge of the avocado, between the flesh and the skin.  Continue pressing, feeling your way with the edge of the spoon, along the inside edge of the skin. The cubes of the avocado will start to pop out of the skin, whereby you can scoop them into a bowl or right into your salad or onto your cutting board, whatever is handy.
Avocado - Scoop Cubes Out
Avocado - Cubed

Enjoy the process, it’s one of the funner ingredients to prep during the making of a meal. I’d love to hear your comments below!