eat clean

Golden Goddess Juice

So the story goes, my father-in-law, at one point, was juicing so much that his skin turned orange from all the carrots he was consuming. Carrots get their orange color from beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient and supports healthy skin, the immune system, vision and more. If my father-in-law's skin turned orange due to carrots, it would be safe to assume he was full of Vitamin A (however all of this seems like a tall tale).

This is the first year I've really started to get into juicing. We've had a juicer sitting in a closet since my husband and I first moved in together a few years ago. I've always been more of a smoothie person in part for the added fiber, and part because clean up was easier. But lately, with this new year underway, I've found myself taking the few more extra minutes for cleanup to try juicing more. In fact, I think I've juiced more this month than I did all last year. Refocusing on my health and nutrition I've started adding juicing into my routine. I've found I really enjoy it and has been especially beneficial when I caught a cold and needed to boost my immune system. This January I challenged myself to avoid alcohol for #DryJanuary, so juicing has also been a great way to enjoy something other than water. 

Earlier this week I cut into a golden carrot I picked up from Winter Moon Roots. I bit into one of the spears, and I swear, it was the best carrot I've ever had. I've tried different colored carrots before and they always pretty much taste like any other carrot, but these golden carrots were just slightly sweeter than your standard orange carrot. It instantly got me thinking how great this carrot would be in a juice. 

Now, every time I think if juicing, particularly carrots, I think about my father-in-law's story about turning orange (I always picture that oompa-loompa shade of orange and laugh to myself). I wonder what color golden carrots would turn your skin. Gold, like King Midas' daughter? Then all of a sudden the recipe for this Golden Goddess juice came to me.

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With a blend of golden carrots, golden beets, golden apples and a medley of citrus and ginger I can't say that this delicious juice will turn your skin gold, but packed with vitamins and nutrients this juice will give you a burst of energy and certainly make you radiate and glow from the inside out. 

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With the perfect recipe in mind I couldn't wait to get to the Wayland Winter Farmers' Market this Saturday. Even snow wasn't going to stop me (my husband tried to advise against it, but you shouldn't get in the way of a woman a mission). This girl needed her roots!

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As usual, Winter Moon Roots delivered on some amazing produce. In addition to the golden carrots and beets for this recipe, I also grabbed some regular red beets and a watermelon radish to use in some other dishes this week. Michael, the owner, is super nice and hooked me up with some extras too. He saw one of my earlier blog posts this month and when I told him I was doing a special juicing recipe this week he gave me a few extra carrot bits (not pictured). My dog, Killian, was also really appreciative of the gesture; carrots are his favorite and of course he was begging me for snack when he saw what I was unpacking from the market.

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After the market, I stopped at the regular grocery store to pick up a few more things. I lucked out because they had organic golden delicious apples in stock, which is exactly what I wanted for this juice. When I returned home and finished unpacking, I got right to juicing (I've been waiting to try this for days)!

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The golden carrots produced a bright yellow juice that looked so refreshing, while the golden beets had a more orange/gold tint. Things were coming together just as I had imagined. An apple, half an orange, slice of lemon and inch of ginger and I was ready to down this concoction. It was the perfect contrast to the snowy weather outside. Bright and vibrant while the world outside was covered in a sheet of white.

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Ingredients

  • 1 jumbo sized or 3 normal sized golden carrots
  • 1 medium golden beet
  • 1 golden delicious apple
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger root
  • Half of an orange, peeled
  • 1 slice of lemon, with rind

Instructions

  • Chop ingredients enough to make sure they fit through your juicer's chute (don't give yourself any more work than you need to).
  • Following the manufacturer's instructions, get your juicer ready with a glass large enough to collect all the juice.
  • Start juicing and drink immediately.

Notes

Use a mason jar as your glass. When you are done juicing, screw on a cap and give the juice a quick shake to mix up all the ingredients. Alternatively, give your juice a quick stir to blend the flavors.

"Psychedelic" Salad

Maintaining a food blog is a lot like working out; if you take a break, it's hard to start again. I know a lot about both. I love cooking and photography; both allow me to explore my creative side. It was that enjoyment and my desire to share healthy recipes that got me to start this food blog. This past summer was really exciting. We started a small garden, started raising our own chickens and I found myself training for my first 5k! Despite my best intentions of sharing more recipes throughout the summer, as you can tell. It just didn't happen. Without trying to explain myself, or make excuses, I'm simply going to say that there is a lot of work that goes into pulling a post together after the dish is prepare, and frankly, I didn't make that a priority.

But, I'm back and resolved to start sharing recipes again! No surprise, with the start of the New Year, I'm refocusing on my health. I started the year off detoxing and eating completely clean. I haven't even had a drink since New Years Eve! I got back to a fitness regiment and signed up for a 15 class January yoga challenge. Last Saturday, after my 8am Vinyasa class I stopped by for the opening day of a Winter Farmer's Market hosted by a local garden center.

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This was exactly what I needed to start getting inspired again. I arrived about a half hour early, while the vendors were still setting up. It was a smart move because I got to scout out who was going to be there that week, and give myself enough time to line up for Red Fire Farm's stand, who sells amazing produce. Within a few minutes I scored some brussel sprouts, mixed lettuce, purple kale and butternut squash. I then quickly got in line to get some root vegetables from Winter Moon Roots.

I don't like to pick favorites, but of all the vendors that I've seen at the market since I started going two years ago, Winter Moon Roots has one of the most alluring set-ups. Their root vegetables range the full color spectrum, and the bright colors of the beets and carrots pull you in. Not only do they have a wide array of roots themselves (from parsnips to potatoes to turnips to radishes and more), they carry several varieties of each.

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Cleverly they slice open the produce to reveal the beauty inside. This week I couldn't help but pick up some cool looking "Psychedelic" or Chioggia beets. Inspiration for this winter salad instantly came after seeing the name and colors. I couldn't wait to go home and whip up my lunch. It's worth noting that the only thing "psychedelic" about these beets are their cool colors; they are not going to make you "trip"!

Salads are usually easy dishes to pull together, but when making a beet salad, you do have to account for the time it takes to roast your beets.  As soon as I returned home, I got my oven preheated, washed the beet I was going to use for the recipe, splashed it with some oil, wrapped it in foil and threw it in the oven. Cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of your beet, but I knew mine would need to roast for about 40 mins. Rather than wait around, that gave me plenty of time to unload my groceries, wash and prep my other produce for that week, and tidy up around the kitchen.

Around the 40 min mark , I checked the doneness of the beet with a knife. It should be easy to puncture, as if you were checking on a baked potato. Pull it out of the oven and let it cool slightly before handling. With a pairing knife, gently scrape the outside skin. It will peel away easily. Discard. Slice or chop your beet however you choose. My beet was large enough that I saved half of it for other salads later in week. As it finished cooling I started assembling the salad.

I started with super fresh mixed greens from the market - I especially like how there were varying shades of greens and some pops of reddish purple from the red leaf lettuce. To add another punch of color to play with the ruby colored beets, I shaved some red cabbage. I've talked a lot about beets, and while they inspired this salad, I didn't want them to be the star. No, they'd share the stage (or plate) with bright segments of orange.

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Oranges are one of those fruits that make getting through the winter a lot easier. They are a great reminder of warmer months ahead and packs a heavy punch of Vitamin-C, not to mention they taste delicious!  You'll have to feel comfortable with your knife skills to segment out your orange, but after watching a quick video, I realized how easy it was.

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Greens, beets, citrus.... I needed some fat! Yes, all salads need, no, deserve a healthy fat. Avocado was going to be the perfect healthy fat for this salad. It was going to have the perfect creaminess to pair with the citrus notes from the orange segments and the vinaigrette (besides, I am partial to avocado). Seeds are also a great source of healthy fat for salads, and since I also wanted some crunch, I sprinkled on some unsalted pumpkin seeds I had on hand.

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And lastly, the dressing; a bright citrus vinaigrette to bring all the flavors together. Dressing is way to easy to make, so if you are still looking for a resolution this year, try to start making homemade dressing. Classic vinaigrette use equal parts oil to vinegar or something else acidic. My dressings usually use more vinegar and citrus juices, which pack big flavor without a lot of calories, than oil making mine 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar. But there is really no way to mess it up. I took some extra virgin olive oil and added it to a small mason jar. Then I squeezed the leftover orange juice, plus juice of a lemon to give it a rounded citrus flavor. Finally I added a splash of white wine vinegar and a touch of salt and pepper. I covered the jar and gave it a shake to emulsify the dressing.

When I make dressings, I'll make them in small batches. I only needed about 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving of my salad, leaving me with extra for other salads throughout the week.

So there you have it! A beautifully bright and balanced salad with earthy beets, sweet oranges and creamy avocado to put a smile on your face in the dead of winter!

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Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium to large size Chioggia beet, roasted and sliced
  • 2 organic navel oranges, segmented
  • 1 cup shaved red cabbage
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cups of mixed organic greens of your choice

Citrus Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice from orange (after being segmented)
  • 1-2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Beets

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Clean beets, leaving skin on, wrap in foil.
  • Bake for 30-50 mins depending on size of beet until tender.
  • Remove and let cool. Once you can easily handle the beet, use a pairing knife to scrape of the skin.
  • Slice or chop to desired size.

Citrus Dressing

  • In a small mason jar, add all the ingredients for the dressing and shake vigorously to emulsify. Use the dressing throughout the week for future meals.

Assembling the salad

  • Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add 3-4 tbs of the dressing* and toss.
  • *If you are saving half of the salad for a meal later in the week, store without the dressing. Just use 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving.

Sweet Potato Soup

This week is all about the avocado. So far we've seen it in a pesto, a topping for your breakfast and today you'll see it as a garnish for a beautiful and delicious Sweet Pototo Soup. When it comes to food I know I throw around the words "favorite" and "love" a lot, but sweet potatoes and avocados are some of my favorite foods. They are definitely things I have to have year round regardless of when they are in season.

I haven't had a chance to visit the local Winter Farmers Market has just opened this weekend, but I did get to get some great organic sweet potatoes from Trader Joes. There are so many great ways to enjoy them, but this past weekend I decided to make soup. Whenever I'm in doubt of what to do with fresh veggies, I usually opt for a soup.

Like most of my soups, I start off by throwing the veggies in the oven. I just through the oven on 350, wrapped 3 sweet potatoes in tin foil, and let bake until tender. If you were trying to save time you could always microwave them but I prefer the oven. Often I'll add olive oil to whatever I'm roasting but because I would be discarding the skins, I didn't bother.

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Let the potatoes to cool slightly before touching. Slice open and scoop the flesh into a pot. Set to medium heat and add 2 cups of vegetable stock. Use a potato masher to break down to large pieces of potato. Next use your immersion blender to start blending the soup. You'll likely need more liquid, the size of the potatoes will determine how much. I ended up adding another cup of vegetable stock and a cup of coconut milk (because I had it on hand). You can stick to vegetable/chicken stock or just water depending on how thick you like your soup.

When the soup got to a simmer I turned the heat down to low. That's when I added pepper, sea salt, paprika, and a dash of cumin to taste.

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The soup itself is very simple, but it's the garnishes that make it special. Serve with cubed avocado and crushed blue tortilla chips on top and a wedge of lime on the side.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of low fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 avocado for garnish for serving

Instructions

  • Set oven to 350. Clean sweet potatoes and dry them off.
  • Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake in oven about 40 mins or until fork tender.
  • Let cool slightly, and when they can be easily handled, cut open sweet potatoes and scoop out insides.
  • Begin to heat a medium to large size pot to medium low.
  • Add sweet potatoes, spices and 1 cup of coconut milk to pot. Use a masher to begin to break up sweet potato.
  • Begin to add some of the vegetable broth, about 1/2 cup at a time. Begin to puree soup with immersion blender. Continue to slowly add vegetable broth until you get to the desired thickness of soup. For thicker soup you will probably only need about 1 cup... for thinner soup, use up to 2 cups*.
  • Turn heat up until the soup starts to bubble and then return to a slow simmer and let cook for another 10 mins.
  • Serve with diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips and a squeeze of lime.
  • * The amount of vegetable stock needed varies greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes and preference.

Turkey with Avocado Pesto Wrap

As much as I can, I like to buy and eat seasonal produce. But one of my absolute favorite health foods is avocado. I suppose you can consider it "in season" thanks to Mexico, which makes it available year round. Anyway, I probably eat avocado everyday, incorporating it as a healthy fat. I love them so much I decided to dedicate a week of posts to this beautiful vibrant fruit! There are many uses for avocado, but have you ever considered using it in pesto? Pesto itself is extremely versatile so you could use this as a sauce over pasta, a spread, or in wrap like this recipe!

You only need a few ingredients and a food processor.

I make this is small batches since the avocados oxidize, turning the pesto a brownish color over the course of the next few days. The added citrus helps with that, but we eat with our eyes too, so the more vibrant the better!

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First, start off by pulsing 1/4 cup of raw, unsalted cashews in the food processor to break up slightly. Traditional pestos use pinenuts, which are fine to use but I had a jar of cashews (which I had recently used in a Kale Pesto) and wanted to use again.

Next, I add the flesh of one ripe avocado, 2-3 peeled cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) cheese, a packed cup or more of fresh basil, juice from half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. * you can adjust the amount of basil you'd like depending on your taste - I usually use one package worth if I buy from a grocery store.

Blend the ingredients. As they start to incorporate, slowly drizzle in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. There is already plenty of (healthy) fat, in the avocado, so you want to use discretion with the olive oil. Its simply to help smooth everything out.

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Now all you have to do is decide what you want to use the pesto on! The first time I made it I ate with spaghetti squash and it was absolutely delicious. I would have done the same the other night when I made this batch but didn't want to wait for the squash to roast.

Instead, I heated up some turkey breast I had roasted the night before and tossed with a few tablespoons of the avocado pesto. I added it to a wheat flour wrap with baby arugula and crunchy sliced red pepper. Simple. Delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Add cashews to food processor and lightly pulse to break up
  • Add all other remaining ingredients (besides olive oil) and blend until smooth.
  • While blending, slowly add olive oil

Nutritional Facts

Calories: 223, Carbs: 5g, Fat: 22g, Protien: 4g

Kale & Cashew Pesto over Spaghetti Squash

I love cooking in the winter. As the days get colder and shorter, and I start craving warming comfort food, the kitchen becomes a haven. Usually the stovetop is slowly simmering marinara sauces and stews and the oven is cranking out delicious sugary baked goods. A year ago today, I was (at least) 23 lbs heavier. As we head into the holiday and colder blistery New England winter, I'm determined to find new healthy favorites that are just as comforting as the heavy dishes I used to devour. I look to seasonal produce to help inspire me. Italian dishes are undoubtedly comfort food to me, but pasta certainly isn't on my go-to "healthy" list. Luckily, high carb and calorie pasta can be easily substituted with spaghetti squash.

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Spaghetti Squash is considered a winter squash. They can be identified by their tough skins as opposed to summer varieties like zucchini. Like butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, and delicata squashes, you should easily be able to find these at a grocery store this time of year. They also are featured in Winter Farmer's markets that pop up after the holidays.

Spaghetti Squash gets its name for its resemblance to spaghetti pasta after its been roasted and the flesh removed. Its low in carbs and calories, and high in vitamins. A cup contains only 42 calories and 10 carbs so you could definitely go for seconds and thirds without feeling guilty! The stuff is just really delicious, if you haven't tried it, introduce yourself to it this week!

I've made spaghetti squash with bolognese before, but this week I wanted to try something different, like a pesto. Traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil; and you can't really go wrong with that. While you can certainly find basil in the grocery store this time of year, its definitely more of a summer flavor. I made several variations of pesto this summer with a variety of greens from our farm share. Kale, being one of my favorite greens, and also in season, would make the perfect base! Out of pine nuts, I opted for raw, unsalted cashews I had. Everything else would remain the same.

Roasted cherry tomatoes complete the dish as the acidity helps to cut through the richness of the pesto. They are just popped in the oven towards the end of the squash roasting and make a beautiful garnish. I love how they look like bright little rubies standing out against the green pesto. It's very Christmas-y!

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So here's how to whip this dish up.

The first thing you have to do is roast the squash. Pre-heat your oven to 375°. Using a heavy kitchen knife, carefully cut the spaghetti squash down the middle and remove the seeds. Place cut side up, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for around 45 minute or until fork tender.

While the spaghetti squash is roasting, you can whip up your pesto. Add kale, cashews, garlic, a squeeze of lemon and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse until everything has broken down in tiny bits. Then, slowly drizzle your olive oil in, blending until smooth. Use a spatula to scape everything out into a separate bowl.

Next prepare the cherry tomato topping. Depending how much tomato you like, slice a handful or so of cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easier clean up. When the squash only has 20 mins left, pop the tomatoes in the oven to roast.

One the squash is ready, everything will come together really fast. Pull the squash and tomatoes out of the oven and let cool so the squash is easier to handle. Using a fork, start scraping at the flesh and pull out the "spaghetti". All that should be left is the tough skin that can now be discarded. In a bowl, toss the spaghetti squash with half of the pesto. Save the rest for later use (you can freeze it) or add a bit more to the spaghetti squash. Just be mindful of the portions, between the oil, nuts and cheese there is a lot of calories and fat in pesto, luckily its mostly the healthy kind and your serving it with squash that virtually has none.

Serve in two bowls and top each with the roasted cherry tomatoes. If you'd like, garnish with a few chopped cashews for extra crunch.

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Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Pesto
  • ½ cup cashews (plus some extra for garnish later)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 cups kale, washed, chopped and packed tight
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dry)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half the long way. Remove seeds.
  • Drizzle with 1-2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Roast in oven for 45 mins
  • Meanwhile, add kale, cashews, garlic, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice into blender and pulse until kale and cashews are in tiny pieces.
  • While pureeing, slowly add up to 1/2 cup olive oil, until pesto is smooth.
  • Scrape into another bowl and reserve for later.
  • Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme.
  • Place in oven the last 20 mins that the squash is cooking.
  • When squash is done, let cool a few minutes before handling.
  • Using a fork, scrape out all the "spaghetti" like flesh until only the tough skin is left.
  • Toss half of the pesto in with the squash, and serve in two bowls.
  • Top with roasted tomatoes and garnish with a few extra chopped cashews if you like.

Saffron Butternut Squash Soup

I can't say enough good thing about squash. They are a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamin C, Omega-3s, helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and overall promotes optimal health...and they are really delicious. It's sort of funny, but the first time I ever tried squash was this year through the farm I was a part of. Squash comes in many varieties from summer squash like zucchini to winter varieties (my favorite) including butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash. Squash is a must add to your grocery list. If you are new to squash or have picky eaters at home, soup is the perfect vehicle to introduce this wonderful vegetable. This recipe particular recipe will warm your soul during cold fall and winter days and is very easy to prepare.

I usually get pretty excited when I see squash soup on a menu when I go out to dinner, but the few times I've ordered it I've been disappointed. In my quest to eat healthier, I cut out extra calories where I can. Each time I've ordered butternut soup this year its always made with a ton of extra cream. It absolutely drives me crazy, because you don't need to use heavy cream/milk to make a great squash soup. I've enjoyed many soups that don't have a drop of cream that are silky smooth and delicious.

I do agree that cream can help balance out flavors but its really high in calories and fat - and there are plenty of great subsitutes. I'm using unsweetened coconut milk in this soup. It will help give the soup that silky texture, without all the fat and calories.

The flavor of coconut can be really polarizing. But let me say that the flavor of both the coconut milk and the coconut oil the recipe calls for is extremely mild. If you absolutely abhor coconut (or are allegric) subtitute with almond milk and another oil. Believe me, the coconut milk this recipe calls for is NOT what you are accustom to having in a Pina Colada, nor will it taste like sun tan lotion. The slight coconut flavor from these ingredients really pairs so well with the rich spices we're using. You have to trust me on this one.

Spices play an important role in this recipe; the star, saffron. Saffron is one of the most expensive food items by weight. Each thread-like strand of saffron come from the stamen of a crocus. Since each flower only has three stamens, it takes an acre of crocus crop to yield one pound of the stuff! Thankfully, a little goes a long way and you should be able to get a small jar relatively cheap. I've seen it from Trader Joe's for about $12. For this recipe I used saffron that my brother brought home for me from Spain (where saffron is most commonly cultivated and sold). The flavor of saffron is very unique - and hard to describe. It's very floral and you can get immense flavor from just a few strands. I've made the mistake of adding too much to a dish and it was very over-powering. For this recipe I only used about a quarter of that little pile you see in the picture below.

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While saffron makes this dish special, the soup wouldn't be complete without a few other friends like paprika, cumin, coriander, curry and white pepper. Paprika was the most obvious accomponiate to the saffron, because its also a Spanish spice. You can buy sweet or smoked paprika, either will do in this dish. Contrary to what some may think, paprika is not spicy so you can use it liberally. This dish only needs a tablespoon. Next, I added cumin, which will give a smokey heat to the dish. The cumin is what really makes this soup so comforting and warming on a cold New England day. In lesser amounts I also added some coriander and curry. Neither is absolutely necessary, but I felt it really rounded out the flavors. I choose white pepper over traditional black pepper just for looks (so if you don't have it, use regular pepper).

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The toughest part to this recipe is preparing the squash. You will need a good vegetable peeler, sharp knife, and a bit of muscle. Can a half inch from the bottom and top of the squash first. Next, peel the skin off. Because you've cut the bottom you can stand the squash upright to stabilize it. After its peeled, use a heavy chef's knife to cut it in half the long way. Use a large spoon to pull out the seeds (you can clean and roast these just like pumpkin seeds if you like). Finally, dice into one inch cubes.

The onion and garlic will be much easier to handle. Simply peel and quarter the onion, and add it to your bowl of squash. The garlic gloves can be tossed in whole (to help avoid burning) after they have been peeled as well.

I haven't met a vegetable that doesn't like roasting. I think the way these veggies are prepared for the soup make it extra flavorful. Many soup recipes I see simply call for sauteeing or steaming the vegetables, but I love the carmelization that happens during roasting. The only downside is that you tend to loose more nutriets roasting than steaming, but the flavor is phenomenal. I roast the vegetables with the dry spices (not the saffron yet) to help bring out their aromatics.

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A key part of roasting your vegetables is choosing your oil. When it comes to healthy eating there are definatley oils to avoid (canola/vegetable), so I normally stick to olive oil or grapeseed oil. However, I've recently started using coconut oil in my cooking and I really love it. Virgin coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat. When you buy it, it actually is in a solid state, it doesnt turn to liquid until its warmed up. What makes coconut oil so amazing is that it can handle higher tempatures and safely convert from a solid to liquid state and back, without breaking down. The reason to be concerned about overheating oils is because as an oil exceeds its burning point, it starts to break down and they turn into a carcinogen (cancer causing agents).

You will have to warm up the jar in the microwave to covert to a liquid before measuring out the tablespoon for this recipe. Just make sure the cover is off and you don't put any metal in the microwave. Toss the chopped veggies, spices (except saffron) and oil in a bowl to coat evenly and spread out a baking sheet. Add a few pinches of salt to everything. Roast in a 400° oven for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the butternut squash is fork tender.

When the veggies are done recipe. Start working on the broth. Pour the coconut milk into a large pot (big enough to hold all the roasted veggies) and turn onto medium heat. Add the saffron strands. I waited to add saffron until this point, because it would have burnt in the oven. Instead, I add them to the milk so the flavors bloom. You will see the white coconut milk turn yellow. You only need to wait a minute or so and you can go ahead and add the vegetables to you pot.

Blend with an immersion blender*. Slowly add the vegetable broth. You may not need all two cups so add it slowly until you reach the desired consitency. If the soup is still too thick, you can add a bit more liquid either from the coconut milk or vegetable broth. Turn to low, and let the soup cook another 15 mins before serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

*If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just make sure it was made for hot liquids and hold a towel over the top in case it explodes. Return the soup to the pot after blending to allow to simmer as above. Finally, taste and season with salt, as needed. I like to leave that until the last step once you can try all the flavors together.

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Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream, greek yogurt, or a drizzle of olive oil.

Ingredients

  • One butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes (about 6-8 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbs virgin coconut oil
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Peel butternut squash. Cut in half, remove seeds and chop into one inch cubes.
  • Peel and quarter one medium onion. Peel 2 garlic cloves.
  • Place butternut squash, onion and garlic into mixing bowl. Warm up virgin coconut oil (if in solid form) and add 1 tbs to the vegetables. Add in paprika, cumin, coriander, curry and 1 tsp salt. Toss to coat evenly. (Do not add in the saffron at this time).
  • Lay vegetables on baking sheet and place in oven for 25-35 mins until the squash is fork tender. Turn vegetables half way through so they caramelize and cook evenly.
  • Once you pull roasted vegetables out of the oven, start warming the coconut milk over medium heat in a large pot. Add the saffron to let steep. The white coconut milk will turn yellow. After waiting a minute for the saffron to steep, add in all the roasted vegetables plus any liquids from roasting. Use an immersion blender to start pureeing into a soup (if you do not have an immersion blender, transfer into a regular blender safe for hot liquids). Add 1-2 cups of vegetable stock until you reach the desired consistency. If full 2 cups of vegetable stock isn't enough, add more coconut milk or stock based on your preferences.
  • Let soup simmer on low another 10-15 minutes to full absorb saffron flavor. Add extra salt to taste as needed.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream, greek yogurt or drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional Information*

Serving size: 1.5 cups

Calories: 157, Carbs: 22g, Fat: 7g, Protein: 3g, Sugar: 8g

Berry Beet & Tropical Beet Smoothies

In case you haven't noticed, the holidays are here! After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, indulging in a few too many Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Latte Muffins, its time to get back on track with healthy eating habits. This is the time of year where most people's fitness and health goals are thrown out the window, accepting defeat long before Christmas Day is even here. If you are looking to get fit and healthy the worst thing you can do right now is push that off until the New Year. On average, Americans gain 7-10lbs pounds* between Thanksgiving and Christmas! I'm commiting myself to posting healthy recipes you can start enjoying today to help stay fit and healthy. One of my tips for maintaining a healthy diet is incorporating smoothies. I absolutely love smoothies, in fact I have at least one a day.To kick off December, here are TWO smoothie recipes for you to try.

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That’s right! We back on beets! If you saw our very first post for Roasted Beet Hummus you’re familiar with the health benefits of beet. If not, let me quickly recap how awesome these ruby gem’s are: they are packed with nutrients including potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. They are a high source of energy, and also natural detoxers. You can read more about there benefits here and even more here.

You get most of a vegetable’s or fruit’s nutrients when you eat them raw, which is why beets are fantastic in juices or smoothies. I haven’t gotten into juicing yet, I prefer smoothies, even if there is more “pulp” because I don’t feel like I’m wasting anything. One of the benefits of eating raw vegetables and fruits is for the fiber so why strain it all out?

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Speaking about waste - I like to use the beet greens as well. Now here me out, I know adding greens to your smoothie seems weird, especially if you haven't made a lot of smoothies before, but I'm telling you they are worth it. Yes, beet root (the red bulb we use) are full with nutrients, but beet greens have their own set of great vitamins and nutriets which help round out the recipe. Beet greens actually have a very mild flavor, so with all the other sweet fruits you are adding to the recipe, you will not taste it! The recipe only calls for a quarter cup of greens, but if you'd like to add more, by all means, bump the quarter cup up to a full cup. If you still are apprehensive about beet greens, try adding baby spinach instead, its slightly sweeter.

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The first recipe is for a Berry Beet Smoothie. I start off with a half of a medium beet, peeled. The juice from beets stain, so when you are peeling you're beet, don't be wearing white. If you don't want you're fingers and hands to get discolored bright pink, be sure to wear some gloves. I go roque, sans gloves, and just get my hands to the sink as soon as I can after peeling and chopping the beet.

As the name implies, I then add a bunch of my favorite berries - a cup of raspberries and a half a cup of blueberries. Frankly, you can really add any combination you like - feel free to sub out for strawberries or blackberries, but keep the total fruit to 1.5-2 cups. I also add a half of a frozen banana. Banana's help to keep you full during the day, so my smoothies almost always have a half to whole banana. Once they are ripe, I chop them up and freeze them. A frozen banana adds some nice texture to the smoothie.

Another key ingredient in a good smoothie, is fat. Yes, I said it, FAT IS GOOD... well, not all fats, but healthy fats, like Omega-3. Flaxseed serves a good fat to add to a smoothie with about about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s in each tablespoon. I usually buy a ground flaxseed from Trader Joe's. I find that the ground version is much easier to incorporate into smoothies. Ground flaxseed is also easier for your body to process so you can absorb more of their nutriets.

Lastly the Beet Berry Smoothie comes together with unsweetened almond milk (which if you follow Mindful Glutton, you know is one of the stables in our fridge). I like how the creaminess of the almond milk balances the acidity and sweetness from the fruit. Depending on the desired consitency and if you add ice to your smoothie, you may need more than a cup. Almond milk is so light in calories you are welcome to add a few more drops, but I usually end up just adding a few extra tablespoons of water if I need to. It wont dilute the flavor whatsoever. Here is a fun picture of the recipe you can post to Pinterest!

Today is a double feature - so here is another recipe you can use that other half of beet for. This is a Tropical Beet Smoothie. I know its December, but when it starts to get cold here in New England, I sometimes like to remind myself of warmer weather. The tropical blend of fruits in this version does the trick.

As with the first recipe, start out with a half of a raw medium beet. Next I add a cup of cubed pineapple and about a half a cup of mango to get those tropical flavors. Pineapple is a very assertive flavor, and does a really great job of masking the beet flavor (although mild to begin with). I also added about a 1/3 cup of raspberries because I had some left over from the Berry Beet Smoothie. Have you heard the phrase "eat the rainbow"? Its the concept that by eating fresh produce, of all different colors, you are getting a great variety of nutriets. Here we have reds, yellows, and oranges (and if you add beet greens/ spinach, green too).

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I use one of three liquids in my smoothies: water, almond milk, or coconut water. Going along with the tropical inspiration, this one uses coconut water. I don't enjoy drinking coconut water straight up (unless its the chocolate flavor), but its a great base for a smoothie. The coconut flavor is really mild. Where the real benefit comes from is the potassium and electrolytes in coconut water. Its incredibly hydrating. Hungover? Drink coconut water. Between the detoxing properties in the beet, and the electrolytes in the coconut water, this smoothie is a perfect way to flush out all the bad toxins after your holiday work party.

The last addition is a half of tablespoon of chia seeds.  You can put in a whole tablespoon, but if you haven't tried chia seeds before, I recommend starting with a half, since they pretty much stay intact after blending. As with flaxseeds, chia seeds are rich with Omega-3, a healthy fatty acid. They will also help you feel full faster, keep you hydrated, and give you lots of energy. Its said that chia seeds were a regular part of the Mayans and Aztecs diets because of the energy and stamina it gives. Warriors were said to eat a handful before going off to battle. So maybe we aren't fighting in any epic battles this season, but extra energy, without having to fill up on a high calorie caffeine drink from your favorite coffee ship is always a win. So here you have another great smoothie recipe in your aresenal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Berry Beet Smoothie

  • 1/2 medium raw beet, peeled
  • 1/4 cup beet greens (or spinach)
  • 1/2 banana (preferably frozen)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup ice (optional)

 

Tropical Beet Smoothie

  • 1/2 medium raw beet, peeled
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1/3 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cup ice (optional)

Instructions

  • For either recipe, preparing your smoothie is as simple as putting all the ingredients into your blender, and blending until smooth.
  • Be careful as you peel the beet, their juices will stain your clothes. You can choose to wear gloves if you'd like, but I just quickly wash my hands afterward to get the beet juice off.
  • If you are adding ice to give your smoothie more texture, you can add extra water/ice to get the desired consistency.

Mindful Buffalo Chicken Pita Pockets

There seems to be a misconception out there that healthy versions of meals never taste as good as the original. I beg to differ. I say my Mindful Buffalo Chicken Pita Pockets rival their fried chicken component in terms of flavor. It will absolutely satisfy that craving for spicy buffalo chicken and creamy dressing and even better, has a fraction of the calories and fat. One of my favorite lunches to get at my work’s cafeteria was this Buffalo Chicken Wrap. Crispy Fried Chicken with buffalo sauce and creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing in a soft wrap. I love spicy food and every time this was a special on the menu I’d order it. You’d think because it was a wrap, it would be somewhat of a healthy lunch, but the stats are staggering: Calories: 490, Fat: 25g, Carbs: 48g.

My version has only 300 calories, has less than 6g of fat, 27 carbs, and actually has twice the protein (31g vs 17g) than that Fried Buffalo Chicken Wrap. And to be completely honest, I actually prefer this version.

To make this recipe healthier we have to get rid of the fried chicken and the traditional high calorie and fat dressing. But don’t despair; those are getting swapped out with something just as good.

The cafeteria did offer a grilled version of the wrap, but I never found it as satisfying. For some reason, grilled chicken always comes out dry and unpleasant. For this recipe, instead of grilling chicken, I roast it, which leaves it tender and juicy.

If you are trying to start eating healthier, one thing that helps is to plan some of your meals in advance. For me, Sundays are a great day for this. You can roast a few pounds of chicken breast, shred and store in the fridge about 4 days to have over the course of the week. Chicken is so versatile you can use it in several different meals, or make the same ones over again. (I’m having this Buffalo Chicken Pita Pocket a 2nd day in a row its so good!)

With the roasted shredded chicken made ahead of time, this lunch comes together in a pinch! I roast mine with salt, pepper, a little bit of grapeseed or olive oil for about 30 mins in a 400° oven. Every oven is a little different and the cook time can vary depending on how big your chicken breasts are, so just keep an eye on it and pull it out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.

Next comes the dressing. Whether you are on Team Ranch or Blue Cheese, you can easily adapt this creamy dressing to your taste. I start off by mixing 2 heaping tablespoons of non-fat greek yogurt with about 1 tbs of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. You can adjust the amount of hot sauce you use, based on your personal preference. I found these to be just the right amount of dressing, but if you want to add a few extra tbs of the non-fat yogurt feel free… each tbs is only about 15 calories. Next I added .05oz of crumbled goat cheese (about 1 tbs). Blue cheese would work too if you prefer, but I happened to have goat cheese on hand. Finally, I diced up some green onions I had on hand to add some color and crunch. Chopped celery is another alternative, but I like the mild onion flavor from the green onion.

I’ve found people to be very polarized about greek-style yogurts. They either love it or hate it. I’ll admit I defiantly didn’t not like greek yogurt for a long time. However, because it can be a great addition to a healthy diet, I started to try different brands and flavors and eventually started to enjoy it. It's still unlikely that I’d eat plain greek  yogurt by the spoonfuls, but as a base for a dipping sauce it is excellent and has made its way as a staple in my refrigerator. If you are on the fence, I urge you to give it another shot with this recipe.  

Back to the recipe… When its time for lunch, heat up 4oz (about a cup) of the shredded chicken and then mix it with your buffalo yogurt dressing and shredded carrots. Fill half a pita pocket and enjoy!

The recipe below is for 2 servings so you can share with another or enjoy it again later in the week!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted shredded chicken
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 large pita pocket, cut in half

Dressing

  • ¼ cup non-fat greek style yogurt
  • 2 tbs your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 oz of crumbled goat or blue cheese (about 2 tbs)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped

Instructions

  • Warm shredded chicken in microwave or oven.
  • Mix yogurt, hot sauce, crumbled cheese and green onions in small bowl.
  • Add warmed chicken and shredded carrots to dressing to evenly coat.
  • Divide chicken and dressing mixture into two halves of the pita bread (or save half for another meal)

Nutritional Information*

Per Serving: Calories: 300, Fat: 5.5g, Carbs: 27g, Protien: 31.6g

*Calculated with MyFitnessPal

Roasted Beet Hummus

The first post I'll be sharing is a recipe from another blog, Minimalist Baker. I choose to share this recipe for Roasted Beet Hummus because it was this recipe and blog that set me on the road to starting my own food blog. Incorporating beets into a hummus was an exceptionally clever idea and is a great way to introduce a seemingly strange vegetable into you diet.

Earlier this summer, I joined a CSA program with Warner Farms to start incorporating more fresh veggies into my diet. I absolutely loved it. Each week I picked up my farm share, I felt like a contestant on the Food Network show "Chopped", receiving a "mystery box" full of ingredients. I was challenged each week to use all the fresh produce in meals that both myself and husband would enjoy. The farm share really sparked my creativity and fueled my growing passion of cooking.

I knew I'd be receiving lots of vegetables I hadn't tried before. I grew up a pretty picky eater, which was one of the reasons I was struggling to get good nutrition into my diet. When I joined the CSA, I made a commitment to myself to stay open minded and try everything it had to offer. One of the first strange ingredients we got were beets.

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Warner Farms sent out a weekly newsletter and this week they included few recipes to give us ideas how to use our beets. A link to  Minimalist Baker's Roasted Beet Hummus drew me with beautiful photography, capturing the bright pink hue of the hummus off set by the orange carrots and green cucumbers. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I just had to try it for myself.

I explored her site and found it was filled with lots of amazing and simple recipes. She also had another thing that caught my attention, food photography e-courses and blogging resources. I'd taken several photography classes in high school and already considered it to be a hobby of mine, but needed some refreshers along with some food styling tips. The cost of the class was the best $19.99 I spent in a long time. It planted the seeds for this very here food blog!

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While the farm share sparked my creativity with cooking, Minimalist Baker rekindled my interest in photography. The two passions came together serendipitously with this here recipe. It only seemed right I feature it as my first post.

So without further adieu, lets talk about roasted beet hummus!

If you are unfamiliar with beets, to sum it up, they are a root vegetable that come in a variety of colors, but most often, a deep ruby. What a lot of people don't know is that beets are a super food. They are packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid. They are excellent at cleansing/detoxifying the body, and are a high source of energy. They are just too good for you not to have if you are looking to have a mindful eating lifestyle.

A great way to introduce yourself to beets is by mixing or blending them with other foods - which makes this recipe perfect. I don't think beets have a very strong taste as it is, but if you are worried about it, the lemon and the garlic in this dish become the most prominent flavors.

Simply, roast a few fresh beets, peel and dice. Add them to a food processor along with garlic, lemon juice and ingredients you'd find in a traditional hummus, like chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil and blend! The end result is a bright and garilc-y hummus perfect for dipping veggies or a spread in a sandwich.

The deep red hues of the beets turn the hummus bright pink making the dish a real show stopper. What a perfect dip for a bridal shower, bachelorette party or baby shower! Impress all you friends and bring it to your next cocktail party.

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Ingredients

  • 2-3 Small Beets, roasted and peeled
  • 2 15oz cans of garbanzo/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves (I like mine to have a strong garlic taste)
  • 3-4 tbs tahini
  • About a 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Roast the beets ahead of time. Rinse the beets and cut off the stems. Wrap them in foil and roast in a 375°F oven for 50-60 mins. Let cool before handling and peel with a pairing knife.
  • Add cooled, roasted beets in food processor. Pulse to break up .
  • Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini and blend until smooth.
  • Lastly, slowly drizzle in olive oil, while blending, until you reach the desired consistency.

Nutritional Info per original site

1 serving has Calories: 165 Fat: 12 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sugar: 1.2 g Fiber: 2.6 g Protein: 3.4