How to avoid the take-out trap

Can the take-out trap really be avoided??

We have all fallen into it - that unexpected pit of “hold on I had to work late and now I’m hangry and my fridge only contains a bag of wilted spinach and some jelly…”

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Is it even actually possible to be organized and motivated enough to put a healthy meal on the table for yourself (much less your family) more days out of the week than you order food? And would it really enhance your life if you did?

Yes. Yes it is. And yes it would.

This is why: if you have already conquered the question “what is for dinner”, then you have the time and brain-space to be create, care, and accomplish in all the other areas of your life. The time and energy that you spend trying to sufficiently answer this daily question can be directed elsewhere.

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I think why we fall into the take out trap to begin with is that we think that outsourcing the dinner is a sufficient enough answer, and that delegating this task (if you will) will make our lives easier and more enjoyable. So we just “pick up something” on the way home, order in Thai food (even though last time it made you feel super gross), or end up ordering pizza again.

I am convinced you that cooking a delicious meal for yourself is faster, more enjoyable, much less costly, and much more nutritious than it is to delegate dinner.

And I love helping people discover this to be true.

#1 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP

Establish a repertoire of healthy, easy, and amazing recipes that take less time to cook than it does for the delivery guy to arrive.

Salmon with Zucchini Ribbons? 20 minutes. Superfood Granola? 25 minutes (and then you have breakfast/snacks made for the whole week!) Spaghetti Squash with Vegetarian Bolognese? Yep. 25 minutes.

I’m not talking about grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. I’m talking about incredibly delicious food that is comforting, clean, full of nutrients, and that you look forward to making.

This is what my FAME Recipe Building Course is all about. By the end of this two month program, you will have 30 fast, amazing meals that are SO easy to make, and UNIQUE to your body and lifestyle. They will become the staples in your home that ground you when your life gets crazy, and are the healthiest things that you eat.

#2 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP

Purchase double the fruit and vegetables you WANT to eat, and then actually eat it.

The challenge of buying produce is that it is perishable. If you buy a butternut squash or beet noodles and they “go bad” before you have the chance to cook them, that feels wasteful. So why would I suggest buying MORE produce??

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The secret is: produce only goes bad if you don’t eat it. If you purchase produce you WANT to eat, and then actually eat it, then instead of being wasteful you will be FULL.

Buy 2 packs of fresh blackberries to eat today and tomorrow, and drizzle almond butter and honey on top. Buy 2 bags of fresh spinach, one to chop up and serve in your scrambled eggs in the morning (top this with salsa!), and one to fold into a warming soup (recipe below :)). At the end of the day, you will be much less tempted to eat that ice cream in your freezer if you have had enough fiber and natural sugars from plants, and if you feel satisfied. Not only that, but if you eat fresh produce you will be nourishing and strengthening your body, so you will have more energy, your thoughts will be sharp, and I promise you will be in a better mood.

#3 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP

Stock your pantry (with plants).

I have talked about this before, but it proves true every time. Having healthy pantry staples on hand will spark creativity and keep you from outsourcing your meals. Here are 3 essentials that I can’t live without:

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  1. Essential condiments - you can turn that half of a red pepper and broccoli florets that is left in your fridge drawer into an amazing stir fry, if you have soy sauce and sesame oil in your pantry. The number 1 best condiment to have is extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it a longevity food, but you can pair it with lemon for salad dressing, garlic for a pasta sauce, or with balsamic vinegar to drizzle over roasted veggies. It makes everything possible :).

  2. Root vegetables - potatoes, onions, garlic, and hard squashes all will keep in your pantry for weeks. Onions and garlic add depth of flavor, and are cancer fighting (bonus). Hard squashes when roasted are sweet and so hearty, or try my Butternut Squash soup! Potatoes will round out any meal, and are part of longevity diets all over the world (making your own sweet potato fries instead of ordering them from a restaurant insures that you are in control of the added salt and undesirable oils!).

  3. Nuts and dried fruit - snacking on protein rich nuts and sweet dried fruit will curb your take out cravings so you can make a logical dinner decision :). My favorite combos are: salted cashews with apricots, pistachios with dried cranberries, and roasted marcona almonds with dried dates.

Here is one of my favorite week night meals that combines all 3 ways to avoid the take-out trap, so having this recipe in your back pocket will basically make you invincible :). With the weather getting cooler and fall schedules getting fuller, there is nothing more comforting than filling your home with yummy smells and then having leftovers for the week.

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Spinach and Potato Soup

  • 1lb italian sausage

  • 1lb red/purple/white potatoes (or substitute cauliflower florets!)

  • 1 onion

  • 1 bag spinach, chopped

  • 1 box chicken stock - 1 QT

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

Heat a large pot on high heat.  Cut casings off of sausage using a kitchen scissor, and add sausage to the pot.  Break up sausage with a wooden spoon until it is all crumbled.

While sausage is browning, chop the onion, and chop the potatoes into rounds (or the cauliflower into florets).

Continue to cook sausage until browned and almost cooked through. Using a colander, drain sausage and then return to the pan. There will still be a little oil left in the pan, but if not, add 1 tbsp more and then add the onion.  Season with salt and pepper, and saute the onion with the sausage until starting to soften.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes (cauliflower) and cook another 5-7 minutes until softened - you will know they are cooked when you can break them apart with a spoon!

Chop spinach into small pieces, so it is the size of a chopped herb. Add spinach to the pot and stir until just starting to wilt, but still bright green - 1 minute.

Serve soup in a giant bowl, and top with a sprinkle of pepper or parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

 

FAME Meals - Travel Edition

First: You should know that this is not a travel blog.  Or a food blog. 

The purpose behind these H+D recipes is to help you make healthy eating the easiest and most enjoyable part of your day.  With these recipes, your dinner will feel like vacation :).

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My oldest son attended a soccer camp in a town just outside of Madrid this summer - pretty incredible. As a parent, I can hardly believe that I let my buddy fly across the ocean without me (he was with his teammates and capable and protective coaches - but still!!). When we picked him up in Madrid at the end of his camp, he had had the most incredible experiences! My heart physically ached the whole week he was gone, but I am so so glad he went. 

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After playing soccer all day with kids from the town, they attended fiestas in the local town square (where wearable bulls made out of barrels, horns, and fireworks were the main attraction), took at tour of the Pascual milk factory and learned all about pasteurization and the environmental impact of refrigerating milk (just a light vacation topic), and toured the town winery - they explored all the underground tunnels where wine barrels were stored (and tasted a few different Spanish wines - he is 11 - this was surprising to us, ha!).  He traded jerseys with a local soccer team, and gave away his shirt and his instagram handle to a cute girl at the fiesta. All in all, I think you could say he grew up. 

His camp was the springboard for the most epic family vacation, that took us to 4 countries, 5 cities, and more tourist attractions and restaurants than I can count. 

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When the rest of us landed in Madrid, we had just a day to explore the city and enjoy all the food. I wanted to be able to bring home all the flavors of Spain, so I could be transported back through taste and smell.

I had some food goals: try authentic Spanish cuisine, and find the best sangria.  We found it :).

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Going out to eat every night felt luxurious, but I was itching to recreate my favorite meals I had tried, and add my own twist to them. As I noshed my way through Madrid, Toledo, Frontera, and Barcelona, I was inspired. In every city, I was drawn to all the savory ham, the sweet apricots, the hearty fava beans, and of course - the most delicious patatas bravas (omg).  By the end of our time in Spain, I was tired of ordering off a menu and ready to chop and mix and re-create all these flavors in my kitchen.

This recipe for Cauliflower Bravas, Pork Chops with peach and scallion relish, and Basic Green Beans is the new addition to my weekly menu, that captures all the flavors of summer and the tastes of Spain that my family loved. Oh, and some pretty epic Sangria too :).

This is the goal behind my FAME program - to developing a recipe repertoire of Fast, Amazing Meals that are Easy - that are the healthiest and most enjoyable things you can eat. These meals should only take 25 min to make, taste so good you have to sit down to eat them (and want to share them with others), and so easy that home cooking becomes even more enjoyable than going to a restaurant. These recipes meet all those criteria.

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Just a few nerdy health facts for you first:

1. Pork

Pork often gets a bad rap, and is deemed "unhealthy" in many dietary circles.  It is unhealthy - IF you eat it every day (but so is chicken, with that logic), or if it is raised inhumanely, treated with antibiotics and fed pesticide treated GMO corn and soybeans. Be conscious of how you source the food you eat. An organic pork chop is a completely different food than non-organic - your gut microbiome will thank you. Eat pork the way that people do in Iberia Greece and Okanowa Japan - once a week is perfect (and could result in you living to be 115 years old).

2. Potatoes. 

I love potatoes. Yes - even white potatoes.  In fact, potatoes are a staple in cultures around the world that live the longest! The problem is that we have added toxins/pesticides to potatoes as they are grown, processed them after harvesting, and fried them in oils that destroy the DNA of our cells and harden our cell membranes. What I'm saying is: potatoes are not the problem.  I did not omit them in this recipe because I think they are unhealthy.  I just like cauliflower and wanted to put a twist on this traditional recipe (that is what FAME is all about, after all.)

3. Green beans.

These basic green beans here are in place of the fava beans that I found everywhere in Spain, because fava beans are not as commonly found in the grocery stores where I shop. That makes me assume you would have a tricky time finding them as well. If you find fava beans, buy them immediately and cook them in this basic way and you will be amazed :).

I hope you all enjoy making these recipes, and find them to be nourishing and inspiring!!

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Epic Sangria

  • 1 bottle of red wine 
  • 3/4 C brandy
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1/2 apple

Chop fruit as shown above. Add all of the fruit (except a few orange slices left for garnish) to a pitcher, and add brandy and brown sugar.  Muddle a bit and let sit for 10 or so minutes.  Add the wine and the juice, stir, and serve.

Cauliflower Bravas

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 dashes of hot sauce
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche (optional)
  • chopped chives (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Chop tomato into small pieces, and transfer to a small baking sheet lined with tin foil. Chop cauliflower and transfer to a large baking sheet lined with tin foil. Place both the tomatoes and the cauliflower in the oven to roast.

To make the Bravas sauce: Heat a small skillet on your stove. Chop onion and garlic, and add to the pan with 1 tsp EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened (5 minutes).  Add paprika and sauté 2 more minutes. By this time, your tomatoes will be roasted! Add them to the pan, along with the tomato paste and hot sauce.  Stir to combine, and sauté until bubbly (2 more minutes).  Transfer into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. 

After 20 min of roasting, your cauliflower will be carmelized and delicious.  Remove from the oven and top with the bravas sauce, a spoonful of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives. SO LUXURIOUS.

 Fava beans in Frontera, Spain

Fava beans in Frontera, Spain

Basic Green Beans

  • green beans
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper

In a small skillet, heat the EVOO until glistening and you can feel the heat radiating from the pan.  Add the green beans (they should sizzle) and toss. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again.  Continue to sauté until they are bright green in color and starting to caramelize. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm. **the flavor of these beans, cooked in this way, is anything but basic :).

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Pork Chops with Peach and Scallion Relish

  • 2 thick cut organic pork chops
  • 1 peach
  • 5 scallions
  • 1 1/2 tsp EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

With a paper towel, wipe out the pan in which you cooked the green beans, and return to the stove. Add EVOO, and heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and add them to the pan (they should sizzle). Cook for 5 minutes on each side, until browned.

While pork is cooking, chop scallions and slice peaches. Once pork is cooked through, transfer to a plate to rest. Wipe out the pan again and add 1/2 tsp of EVOO and heat. Add scallions and peaches and sauté until scallions are browned and peaches are soft and heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 

Plate the Pork Chops alongside the Cauliflower Bravas and the green beans, top with the relish and enjoy a Spanish feast at home :).

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SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

I hope all of your holidays were rejuvenating and full of joy! In the spirit of New Years goals and resolutions, I wanted to share more with all of you about the transformational practice of Adding In.

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The culture of weight loss and dieting in our country is quite prevalent (you may have noticed ;)). Each of us have different reasons for wanting to loose weight or eat healthier.  

Unwanted weight gain is almost always a sign that something is just not right in your physical body.  This weight gain could be caused by a myriad of reasons, here are a few:

  • Increased stress - which keeps your body from digesting food.
  • Unbalanced hormones - which keeps your cells from expelling waste.
  • Lack of nutrients - which causes your body to hang on to sugar and fat.
  • Lack of self care - which inevitably leads to poor eating choices, greater stress, and less joy.
  • Poor understanding about what foods are best for YOU to eat - there is no one-diet-fits-all solution. You are unique, the way you could eat should be too.

I have talked about this before - the health and nutrition industry is now very aware that weight loss is not just a calories in, calories out equation.  Armed with a more freeing approach to food - nourishing our bodies - you can simultaneously reach your weight loss goals and invest in your own self care.  We need to give ourselves MORE of what our bodies need, not less.

Adding In is a freeing approach to food that can help you reach your health goals this year.

Add in greens to your breakfast, paired with plant protein so you stay full (or in a nutrient-rich smoothie)!

Add in plant protein to your lunch and dinner, so you feel full an clean!

Add in superfoods to your morning, for greater energy!

Add in more flavor to your lunches, so you can really enjoy them, instead of rushing through!

Add in more spice to help promote gut health and better digestion!

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Now, some of you might be thinking: this concept is kinda obvious...

YES.

It really is!  Adding in more nutritious food into your life should be intuitive!  What if this was a concept that you lived by, instead of just recognized?? Adopting this as your mindset towards food could be transformational.

There is no need to view health as depriving ourselves. Instead, lets add more nutritious food to our days so our enjoyment, contentment, and satisfaction increases!

The majority of my clients have weight loss goals.  And they reach them - by giving their body more, not less. As you discover how easy it is to add nutritious food into your meals, you experience how incredible it feels to feel full (not stuffed), comforted and clean.

This is often the first step for people who join my 6 Month Program: Enjoy Healthy Food. Contact me for a FREE Health History consultation! I would love to help you discover the best way to eat for you body, and to give you the support you need to reach your health goals.

Here is my Spicy Butternut Squash Soup recipe to get you started.

***Add jalapenos for spice, garlic for flavor, and chili-roasted pumpkin seeds for plant protein.  (Did you know that pumpkin seeds have more protein per pound than lentils, beans, or nuts? It's true!)

  • 3 C chopped butternut squash
  • 2 large, 3 small jalapenos - de-seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 12 oz chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp EVOO, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • bunch of ciliantro

Chop butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat EVOO in a heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat, add butternut squash and stir.  Remove seeds and veins from jalapenos, keeping just a little for more heat (and keeping a lot for LOTS of heat - you decide :)), chop into large pieces and add to pot.  Chop garlic and add, stirring until fragrant.  Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes, vegetables are soft.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.  

Heat a separate skillet on medium high heat, add 1/2 tsp EVOO and toast pumpkin seeds for 1 minute.  Add chili powder and toast for another minute, until fragrant.  Roughly chop cilantro leaves.

Pour soup into a large bowl and top with a spoonful of the chili toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

***I hope that you enjoy this soup - that you feel warm and comforted, full, satisfied, and nourished!  And that this practice of Adding In helps you to reach your health goals this year!!