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All About Avocados

The green fruit…AVOCADOS. If you asked me a few months ago if I liked avocados I would have immediately told you that I hated them. I would most definitely have given you a yucky, disgusted face and explained that all they were to me was green mush. My friends loved them and were always telling me how healthy they were and so forth. But in my mind, avocados and I would never be friends. We were just not meant to be…at least that is what I had assumed.

See avocados and I had only a few encounters with its oh so famous dish, guacamole. I tried and tried to like this dip, but I could never find myself to like it. Then one day I was looking up a healthy frosting for some brownies and the one I found was made with avocados. I was thinking, “there is no way the green mush is going to make a good dessert,” but boy was I wrong. I whipped up this yummy chocolate frosting using avocados. Yes, I know; I cannot believe it either. This then lead me to wonder what other yummy things I had been missing because of my avocado ban.

What I discovered was that it wasn’t that I did not like avocados, but I had not liked them prepared the ways I traditionally had them before. Now avocados are something I look to use almost every week. I use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. There are so many ways I have found to add them to recipes and I hope to expand your view on this wonderful green fruit. See some recipes I love below.

  • Avocado toast
    • There are a million different creations for this, but my favorite is simply mashed avocado on top of toasted bread with a poached egg on top. Check out this easy recipe at Pinch of Yum.
  • Scrambled eggs with avocados
    • Simply scramble your eggs and add chops or slivers of avocados to them. It creates a creamy texture and adds a few more healthy benefits to your morning.
  • Smoothies
    • When making your smoothie add a 1-2 slices of avocados. You will never even know they are in there. This is also an easy way for your kids to eat something healthy for breakfast. Note: Too much avocado will change the flavor and texture so I would encourage you, especially avocado beginners, to start with less.
  • Brownies
    • This week I made avocado brownies from The Healthy Maven. I really liked them as they weren’t too sweet and the texture was great. My kids, however, thought they needed to be sweeter of course. I am looking to try another recipe I discovered from Frugal Mom Eh to see if I can win them over and since she uses chocolate versus cocoa powder, I am thinking the sweet factor will be there. I’m pretty positive winning them over will not be too hard.
  • Chocolate Frosting
    • Have you ever read the ingredients on the package of the store bought frosting? I have and therefore decided to whip up my own, which is when I discovered an avocado frosting from Veggie Primer. Now I will admit this does not taste like a store bought frosting, but it is still delicious. It is silky and smooth. It passed the yummy test with my husband, kids, and friends.

What are some non-traditional ways you have found to incorporate avocados? If you don’t have any, I would love for you to try some of the recipes above or venture out with your next creation and add some avocados. What I have discovered is that there are endless ways to add them to dishes you already prepare. So I guess I should say that avocados and I have become friends and that the ban has been lifted.

Check out some of the health benefits of this green fruit at Authority Nutrition.

 

 

 

 


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Simple Slow Cooker Recipe: Salsa Verde Chicken

Before I create my grocery list for the upcoming week, I usually do a few things…look to see what is already in the fridge and pantry, check our schedules for the week and think through what we had to eat for dinner the week before. A couple of weeks ago I realized I would need a few slow cooker meals due to our upcoming week having a few busy days and nights. After browsing some of my favorite foodie sites, I came across the most simple recipe. I know I might have mentioned a recipe I’ve posted before as easy and simple, but this recipe is on it’s own level of easy.

Before I share the details of this great find, guess how many ingredients you need for this dish?

FOUR! Yes, it is only four ingredients and they require no prep work. All you have to do is put the ingredients in the slow cooker, place lid on, set timer, and walk away. It’s crazy not only how easy it is, but how great it taste. My husband could not believe how great it was and he is not a big fan of chicken for dinner. This salsa verde chicken recipe is as follows.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of salsa verde
  • 1 bottle of beer (we use Modelo)
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place chicken in the slow cooker
  2. Top with salsa verde, beer and cumin
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking
  4. Turn the chicken so that both sides are covered with beer and salsa
  5. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low
  6. Chicken is ready when it easily shreds with fork

Once the chicken is ready there are many ways to serve it…tacos, nachos, rice bowl, etc. We recently used the chicken for stuffed poblano peppers and they were delicious. We have also just placed the chicken in a bowl and topped with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. No matter how you serve it, it will be a great lunch or dinner. 

So thanks to GIMME SOME OVEN I have discovered a go to recipe when my day does not have time for prepping food. It is a go to when I have a few friends coming over and I would rather spend time with them than be in the kitchen most of the time. And sometimes it is simply my go to because I crave it. LOL. I hope your family enjoys this easy, simple and yummy dish as much as our family and friends do. 


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Albasha…

If you just read the title and became really excited, you are probably from Baton Rouge, LA. Albasha, a Greek and Lebanese restaurant, is a favorite among many locals. From the gyro, chicken shawarma, fried cheese, hummus and dressings, Albasha’s food is definitely a must if you are in the area.

Living in Baton Rouge, we ate Albasha at least twice a week, but now we have this dilemma…we live in the Dallas, TX and there is not an Albasha nor anything that we have found near us that compares. So when I discovered a recipe that taste extremely similar to one of the dressings they serve, I was pretty excited. And what kind of person would I be if I kept this amazing find to myself. Therefore, today I would love to share with you a whipped feta dipping sauce.

Whipped Feta Dipping Sauce: (adapted from We are not Martha, but we can try?)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Feta
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 t mint
  • 1 T lime
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Greek dried seasonings (I use Chef’s Greek Seasonings)
  • Salt and pepper per taste

Directions

Blend and serve. (I add some almond milk to help make the dip smoother.)

It is that easy! It can be used as a dressing or dip for meatballs or veggies. I usually serve it with jalapeño lime chicken meatballs, which are exceptionally yummy. They are one of my husband’s favorites as well as many of our friends. So if you are from Baton Rouge, have moved like our family, and need a little taste of Albasha, then make this recipe tonight. If you aren’t from Baton Rouge and need to understand the reason we miss this restaurant, then make this recipe tonight. I believe you will enjoy it as much as we do.


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A Summertime Treat

It is summertime here and it is pretty obvious with the heat and the ginormous mosquitos. To help us get through the day, we love to have a nice cold popsicle. Recently I came across a simple, quick and healthy recipe from Whole Foods that the kids love. They love them so much that they will eat all six in one sitting. And it would probably be okay if they did eat them all as the popsicles only have three healthy ingredients. Like smoothies you can also easily add some greens like avocados and the kids would never know.

Ingredients
1 cup of plain greek yogurt
1 cup of fresh fruit (we used raspberries and strawberries)
1 tablespoon of honey

Directions 
Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Then pour into your popsicle molds. (We use molds we found from Ikea, but you can find them at any store and they are fairly inexpensive.) Place them in the freezer for at least 3 hours and then they are ready to eat.

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There are thousands of popsicle recipes out there, but these have definitely been a favorite for the kids. I hope you and your family enjoy this sweet treat as you try to cool off this summer.  Do you have a favorite popsicle recipe you make during the summer? I would love to know because we are always ready to try something new. Cheers to summertime!

 

 

 


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Veggies on Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day to you! Today my sons and I celebrated by learning how to grow vegetables and fruits and how vegetables and fruits help us grow. They each planted tomato seeds and both cannot wait to see the seeds sprout. They were also able to learn how plants help the Earth’s environment stay healthy.

In honor of Earth Day and my sons and I’s lessons on fruits and vegetables, I want to share with you some great vegetarian recipes. Instead of Meatless Monday, we could call today Meatless Wednesday. Here are two recipes that my family and I have made and loved every time. And yes, this means we sometimes simply have veggies for dinner and no meat.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese – Recipe adapted from Blogging Over Thyme

Ingredients:
Homemade Tomato Sauce:
(Or you can use your favorite Tomato Sauce. When I made this I used our favorite marinara sauce with basil. It sped up cooking time, but I wanted to include the homemade tomato sauce option as this was included in the original recipe.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes
 
Sautéed Spinach:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely sliced
1-2 garlic cloves chopped
6 ounces baby spinach (you can also use frozen chopped spinach)
 
Panko Bread Crumb Topping:
(You can omit this or use almond meal if you do not incorporate grains in your diet.)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Mushrooms:
8 large portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
olive oil
4 ounces soft, young goat cheese
 
Directions:
Prepare Sauce:

  • Using large saucepan, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the chopped garlic, stirring continuously for 30 seconds, making sure that the garlic does not brown (this is essential). Add the bay leaves and the dried oregano to the pan and stir continuously for a minute.
  • Add tomato paste and canned tomatoes, stir together, and bring to low simmer. Cover and simmer sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté Spinach:

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent.
  • Add the baby spinach and sauté until just wilted, stirring continuously. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. (If using frozen chopped spinach…Defrost the spinach, remove access moisture and then add to the pan. Cook until cooked through.)

Breadcrumb Topping:

  • Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Once the butter is just beginning to sizzle add the panko breadcrumbs and toast for three to four minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning–or until the breadcrumbs become lightly golden.
  • (You can omit this or use almond meal if you do not incorporate grains into your diet.)

Prepare the Mushrooms:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with foil and wire rack.
  • Trim the portobello mushrooms and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the portobello mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place the grilled portobello mushrooms gill-side up onto the wire rack as they are ready (the mushrooms will give off a lot of liquid as they cook and sit, and this will prevent them from sitting in any of their juices).
  • Top the mushrooms with a large spoonful of tomato sauce and then top with spinach mixture, distributing it evenly among the mushrooms.
  • Slice the goat cheese into 1/2″ thick slices (roughly half an ounce). Bread the goat cheese slices lightly in the panko breadcrumb topping and place on top of each mushroom. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown and goat cheese is jut beginning to soften. Serve immediately.

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Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach – Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste.

Ingredients:

2 medium Italian eggplants, cut lengthwise into 10 (1/4-inch thick) slices
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups quick marinara sauce
1 large egg – this is a binder, so if you cannot have eggs then try chai seeds or almond flour
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese (You can sub for cottage cheese or mix the two. I mixed ricotta and cottage cheese to make it creamier.)
8 oz frozen spinach, heated through and squeezed well
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup (4 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella (Polly-O)

Directions:

  • Cut the 2 ends off the eggplants. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, into 1/4-inch thick slices until you have a total of 10 slices about the same size. It’s easiest to do this with a mandolin. My mandolin is from OXO. If you do not have a mandolin, you can easily use a knife.
  • Sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt to help remove excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplants. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pat dry with a towel.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.  Season the eggplant with a little more salt and pepper,  then arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Cover tightly with foil and bake until eggplant is tender and pliable but NOT fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg then mix together with ricotta, spinach, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.  Dividing the ricotta-spinach mixture (about 2 generous tablespoons each) evenly and spoon onto one end of each eggplant slice, spreading to cover.  Starting at the short end, roll up slices and arrange them each seam side down in the prepared dish.  Top with remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and tightly cover with foil.
  • Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 45-60 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving with additional cheese if desired.

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I hope you enjoy these amazing vegetarians dishes. Do you have any favorite vegetarian dishes you would like to share?


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JUICING

This word “juicing” was not ever something I was interested in learning more about. I remember someone asking me once if I had ever “juiced” and my response was simple, “I would rather chew my food than drink it.” I have always been one that thought juicing was something that I would dislike as I love to eat food, taking in the flavors and spices. However, my “juicing” perspective changed when my husband began a 10 day juice fast last year and I decided I would make one for myself at breakfast. Well that did it. I immediately became a juice fan. The taste was bearable and after I finished drinking it, I was actually full. I had a quick lesson for myself, which I ironically teach my kids everyday… “You cannot say you don’t like something until you try it.”

Now that juicing was not such a “bad word” to me anymore, I began juicing during the week more and more. So with the new year starting, my husband and I began a juice fast. When we started the fast I didn’t know much about the pluses and negatives to juicing, but by day 5 of juicing breakfast, lunch and dinner, I could tell my body was needing something. At around 3 or 4 pm everyday, my body would be tired and I would just want to lay down the rest of the day. However with two boys, ages 2 1/2 and 5, laying down for the rest of the day was not an option. These feelings and other reasons led me to begin researching, which is what I want to share with you today. Now let me state this, I am no expert regarding juicing and your body. Therefore, I definitely encourage you to research for yourself and also keep in mind that everyone’s body and health is different.

Here are a few things I discovered personally and through research:

  • Juicing is a great way to give your body lots of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, especially if you do not eat the amount of veggies and fruits you need each day.
  • When you juice, it should be mostly veggies; about 75% veggies and 25% fruit. This helps to reduce the amount of your sugar intake. Juicing only fruits actually contains more sugar than eating the fruit itself.
  • A juice fast was the first time I saw my husband stay healthy. Fasts he has completed in the past always ended in sickness. But both juice fast he has completed gave him energy and kept him healthy.
  • Juicing is a great way to give your digestive system a break as it does not have to breakdown food. However, juicing over an extended time can cause your metabolism to slow down.
  • Majority of the calories in juicing come from carbs, including high amounts of natural sugar from fruits and some vegetables.
  • Most experts say only juicing is not good for your body and suggests to simply incorporate healthy eating into your everyday.
  • Completing a one to three day juicing plan is something, in my opinion, would be your best option.
  • If you are having a juice, remember the juice is your meal.

Here are some articles I would suggest reading as well:

http://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/05/26/how-does-juicing-fit-into-a-paleo-diet-and-lifestyle/

http://balancedbites.com/2013/08/flax-chia-juice-cleanses-green-smoothies-juicing.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020

To sum it up, I recommend juicing, but would not recommend juicing for a long period of time. Your body needs real food. If you are looking to lose weight, I would encourage you to try a juice for a meal, but do not depend on a juice for health. Health comes from eating real foods and living an active life whether it is exercising, sports, running around the yard with your kids, etc.  Again, I would encourage you to do some research on your own and if you do try a juice fast, listen to your body. During my fast, my body was telling me it needed more. So on day 7, I began incorporating vegetarian meals in my diet to begin jumpstarting my metabolism. My husband on the other hand, completed 14 days before he knew his body was in need of more. (Note: This was a beginning of year fast for us and the length of this fast is not something we will do all the time.)

What is your experience with juicing? How did your body react? I would love to hear how juicing has affected you.

P.S. – Stay tuned for some of our families favorite juice recipes.

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Molten Lava Cake & Yes it is Paleo!

A few weeks ago we had some friends over and when we host friends, especially if it is for the first time, we like to have a full meal…appetizer, main course and dessert. For dessert, I wanted to try a new recipe that included chocolate. So, I searched my recipes and googled a few more. During my google search, I landed on Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind’s blog, which is where I was met with a amazing picture of a paleo molten lava cake. I was sold. I had to try this as I saw the chocolate pouring out of the center of the cake. Now, I do not usually try a new recipe with first time guests, but I warned them that they were my guinea pigs and I knew I could make cookies if all else failed. But thankfully, these cakes were perfect. My husband’s review was exactly this, “This is the best dessert that you have ever made. It was better than a non-paleo dessert.”

The recipe was pretty simple to make. The only part that takes a while is giving the cakes time to set in the refrigerator. Outside of that, I followed the recipe per the blog and they came out wonderful.

Note: I did not make the caramel sauce and instead served it with NadaMoo’s vanilla ice cream (if you haven’t tried this ice cream, you need to get it today.)

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons plus more for greasing ramekins of grass-fed butter (ghee or coconut oil)
1 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (soy free, dairy free)
2 cage-free egg yolks
2 cage-free eggs
3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons blanched almond flour
pinch of pink himalayan salt (Note: I used regular sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425. Grease ramekins well with butter. Using a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium sized bowl. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, eggs, and coconut palm sugar until frothy. Then stir in the melted chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture and whisk until combined. Set aside. In a small bowl combine cocoa powder, almond flour, and salt. Then sift into the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Now stir the vanilla in. Pour the mixture evenly into the ramekins, you can use 5 oz ramekins to make 4 servings or use 8 oz ones to make 2 servings. Tap lightly on the counter to remove air bubbles. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes. Place the ramekins in the casserole dish and carefully pour hot water (can be tap or boiled) into the casserole dish until it goes half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake for 15-18 minutes. You will know they are done when the middle doesn’t look quite cooked all the way through but the edges do. Remove ramekins from the casserole dish and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Slide a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to pull the cake away from the sides, then turn it upside down over a plate and tap the bottom firmly until the cake slides out.

(The above instructions and directions from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind)