Tag Archives: nutrition

Thriving Thursday: Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Happy Thursday to you all! It’s almost the weekend and I’m excited about it. This last couple months has been absolutely crazy at work. It’s really wonderful to see so many people starting their path to health but I’m a little glad that it’s starting to taper now. I was starting to miss my relaxation (and cooking) time. So here is a great recipe directly from my Momma’s kitchen.

My mom is a fabulous cook. She claims to hate it but how can you hate something you’re so good at?? I think she gets tired of cooking every single night (who wouldn’t) but goodness knows we would have been a MUCH less healthy family without her daily meals.

She is one of those people who can whip up a meal when the fridge and pantry are completely empty. If friends stop by for a chat, she has the most creative and delicious appetizers on the table within 5 minutes. She has mastered the art of feeding AND socializing with people. Those who have tried it know how hard that can be.

She taught me this recipe before I left for college and it quickly became my signature dish. She uses mashed potatoes from the box (understandable with 4 kids and no time) but I love mashing potatoes. They taste better and I get to let out my pent-up aggression on them. So I turned to my friend Alex for some further input. She is also an amazing chef and trained in the art of food.

So here is my combination from the two lovely ladies. My mom’s was quicker but slightly healthier and Alex’s was a little more time-consuming but richer and more savory.

ShepherdsPie-Published

Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Note: This is a delicious dish but if you’re trying to lose weight, do not eat it for dinner. You don’t want the potatoes sitting in your stomach all night. Unless you use the energy, it will turn into fat.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup organic butter
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, coconut, whatever…)
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp high heat oil (like coconut or grape seed)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup gravy (I use Bisto but it contains trace gluten so be careful)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.
  2. Chop potatoes into small pieces. Boil them in a large pot of water until soft when stabbed with a fork.
  3. While they’re boiling, chop the onion, carrots, and zucchini.
  4. Drain the potatoes and mix in a large bowl with butter and milk. Mash them all up! Set aside.
  5. In a large pot (yes a large pot) sauté the onions, carrots, and minced garlic on medium heat. Cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add turkey and zucchini to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes then add gravy. Continue to cook until meat is browned.
  7. Spread out the turkey mixture evenly in the pot then layer the potatoes on top.
  8. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes to let juices mix.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you’re all having wonderful days. Love and a grin. – Ash

 

Faulty Friday: Fallen Off the Wagon?

Nows the time. January is over, you’re vacationing for entire weekends. You’re eating whatever the heck you want and not exercising. It doesn’t matter if you had a New Years Resolution or not, you’re starting to pack on the pounds. I’ve heard this from several patients over the last few days so let me ask you a few questions…maybe they will help you jump back on the wagon.

WeightGain

1. Weekly Vacation Days: When do you allow yourself the freedom to entertain all those cravings? Is it whenever you crumble under the pressure (which is getting more and more often)? Or is it a designated day of the week in which you except that you will be bloated and feel crappy?

It should be the second option. Pick a day each week that you feed on your cravings. On that day, eat whatever the heck you want. Personally, I have half a large Dominos pizza and half a box of cinnasticks. I love those foods but man they’re bad for me. So I eat them once a week and pay the price for 24 hours afterward.

The awesome thing is that, if you eat healthy the rest of the week, your body recognizes a problem with the pizza and voids it pretty quick. As in, you’ll be on the toilet a lot the next day. But isn’t that cool? You’re body will learn how to purge a bad thing?

2. Write It Down: When are you binge eating? When are you ditching your workout? Pinpoint your problem areas and write down your plan for them. For instance, I have terrible trouble limiting my evening eating when I’m at home. I just pile snacks into my mouth like the world is ending.

However! When I go through periods when this is especially bad, I write it all down. Before I start eating, I write down (on a list in my phone) all the food and amounts I’m allowed that night. I give myself some leeway and add in small desserts like 2 gluten-free cookies and some dried apricots, or several squares of dark chocolate. I’m just limited enough that I can pace myself throughout the night and still feel satisfied when I go to bed.

So plan through your worst habits and pull yourself out of them.

3. When on Holiday, Be on Holiday: When you’re away from home and eating out for most meals, do you feel guilty? Do you look at the meal in the beginning and giggle with joy, then look at the empty plate you devoured and feel like a beached whale? Stop it! Take your holiday as an extended Vacation Day (see #1) and enjoy your food! If you do this though, you just have to accept the reality that there might be a few extra pounds on your belly. You’ll have to be VERY good when you’re back home.

A good way to make less of an impact on your waistline is to bring with you a standard meal. I bring along a sandwich bag of my Grainless Granola and grab some milk at a convenience store wherever I’m going. Try to make sure you eat healthy for at least one meal a day.

Also, when you are eating out, eat the veggies instead of the fries. Try to incorporate veggies into every plate of food. It will fill you up with the good stuff and will provide some much-needed support for your digestion and  immune system.

Confession: I will admit that I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit in the last 2 or 3 weeks. But this happens to healthy people! We can’t have rockin’ bods every day of the year. So I will be living by these rules and trimming back that waistline until I’m happy looking in the mirror again.

I hope you’re all having wonderful Fridays. The weekend is here! And today I will be traveling up to Chicago to meet my best friend for a weekend of shenanigans. 😀

 

Thriving Thursday: Chia Seeds?

There has been a buzz about chia seeds lately. It started in the nutrition/health world and is now spreading mainstream. It became more than a buzz, for me, when a patient recently asked, “so, chia seeds, are they worth the time?” I had to reply that although I’d cooked with them a couple of times, I honestly had no concrete idea of the benefits. So began my research…

ChiaMrT

Background: Chia seeds were a staple in Aztec diets. To quote the bottle I have in my cabinet “Aztec Warriors subsisted on chia seeds during their battles and hunting expeditions, eating as little as a small handful in 24 hours.” What?? They also promote saliva production and were fed to thirsty nomads. Then they came to the US and were used to grow plants that looked like hair on terra-cotta forms like the one seen above. What a downgrade (except for the Mr. T one, that’s just awesome).

It turns out that, because it’s so new to the nutrition world (it’s been around for decades in the form of chia pets) there have been very few studies to test it’s benefits. There was one study done on women which I will share with you later.

ChiaNutrition

Without lots of research done on human absorption, all we can really do is look at the nutrition profile of chia seeds. According to this label and some of my other reading, chia seeds are:

  • Source of healthy fats which very few people get from the Standard Westernized Diet.
  • Perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega 3 and 6 which helps protect the liver and heart.
  • High in fiber which promotes healthy digestion.
  • Relatively high in protein which is necessary for properly functioning and rebuilding muscles.
  • Zero sugar so it doesn’t spike your insulin levels.
  • Absorbs water like a sponge so, when mixed with liquid and consumed, it slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream and further hinders sugar spikes.
  • Because they absorb liquid, when eaten dry, they expand in your stomach and give you the feeling of being full.
  • High in IRON, CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, and ZINC – essential nutrients for a healthy body.

There was a study done on a small selection postmenopausal women to see if it would increase the production of the essential fatty acids, ALA (omega 3) and EPA. It did, but because scientists know very little about absorption of the fatty acids after they are produced, it is unknown if they increase heart, liver, and neuro protection.

Although the results of the few studies done are pretty much inconclusive, I’m going to call chia seeds a win. I’m a proponent of getting all the nutrients you can from your food and only taking supplements when absolutely necessary (like in the case of Vitamin D and a few other vitamins and minerals). If I can get extra healthy fat, omegas, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc just from a sprinkling of the tasteless chia seeds, count me in!

The fad: Obviously everything that becomes universally popular is a huge fad somewhere. Apparently, Wall Streeters have started to tout chia seeds as the natural energy booster. A Bloomberg article compared it to coffee, cocaine, and 5-hour Energy Drink. “Natural” food producers have started making chia bars and juices, among other things.

How to eat it: Be careful. As with any health fad, not all chia seeds or products are made equal. Be sure to avoid anything with added sugar. Also, stick to organic or NSRI approved. Now that they’ve gotten big, farmers will start doing anything to produce them in huge quantities. You can eat them milled or whole. Sprinkled on top of granola, in your smoothie, on a salad, or just with water. They’re pretty much tasteless so they go with anything.

Well, on that note, I’m going to go make myself a Green Machine smoothie with chia seeds and protein!

Any questions? Just comment and ask. I’ll be happy to answer. I hope you’re having a happy Thursday 🙂

Sources:

 

 

Thriving Thursday: Sweet Teryaki Salmon

Confession: I HATE fish. I actually really dislike seafood in general. I’m not one of those picky, “I hate the consistency” people but oysters?? Truly the consistency is like snot. And fish? Any kind of fish is just so salty and YUCK. I’ve disliked it since I was a kid. When my mom made her delicious fish for dinner, I would eat a bowl of cereal.

However, (this is how I know I’m an adult) I LOVED this fish I cooked last night. Everyone always talks about how good fish is for you so I figured I’d give it another try. Teryaki was the closest I could get to make it taste like chicken. Haha. So I adapted a recipe from one of my cookbooks and came up with this. It is SO delicious. Sweet and tangy all at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: Wild-caught salmon can be really expensive ($13 for 2 fillets??) so we ate small portions with lots of veggies to make it last for the next day’s dinner too.

SweetTeryakiSalmon-Published

Sweet Teryaki Salmon (3-4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 Bragg’s liquid aminos (healthy soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 wild-caught salmon fillets or steaks
  • Whatever you would like for your side (bed?). I used leftover mashed sweet potatoes (from the Sherpherds Pie) and added sautéed red peppers and mushrooms (YUM). It would also be really good with a spinach salad, roasted veggies, and/or quinoa.

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix first 6 ingredients until combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade in fridge for basting.
  2. Combine salmon and marinade in a plastic bag and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.
  3. While it’s marinating, cook your side.
  4. Lay marinated salmon on parchment paper in a deep baking pan.
  5. Broil or grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Brush with reserved marinade.
  7. Enjoy!

We’re getting very close to the weekend. I hope you all have happy Thursday’s! 🙂

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Sweet potatoes are flippin’ awesome. They are fantastic for digestion, heart health, skin health, and blood sugar levels. Specifically, they are high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Fiber, Potassium, Vitamins C and E, and Manganese.

This recipe was my attempt at making my mom’s amazing shepherds pie but without the starch of potatoes. With that in mind, it was GROSS. But once we stopped thinking of it as Shepherds Pie and started thinking of it as a dish on it’s own, SO DELICIOUS. Isn’t it weird how your brain can trick you like that?

This was incredible easy to make and I just kept it in a crockpot in the fridge and reheated it (on the lowest temperature possible) for 3 nights straight. Thank you bulk-cooking!

SweetPotatoPotPie-Published

Sweet Potato Pot Pie (6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 7 organic sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup organic milk (almond, coconut, dairy, whatever)
  • 1 organic yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds organic ground turkey
  • 1 package of organic gravy mix
  • 8oz organic frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, etc)

Instructions:

  1. Boil sweet potato chunks in a large pot until soft. While they are cooking, mix gravy. 
  2. Drain water from pot add the milk and mash it all together. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, deep pan, sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  4. Add turkey to pan and cook until brown.
  5. Add gravy and frozen veggies to pan and mix together.
  6. Either in the large pot or in a crockpot, layer the meat mixture, then the mashed sweet potatoes. Heat in the crockpot or oven on low for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to mix together. YUM
  7. Enjoy!

Monday Advice: Enjoy Your Holiday Meals!

Alright ya’ll, listen up! For the next 24 hours, do everything you try not to do on a regular basis.

For example:
– Don’t exercise just sleep in instead!
– Keep on your pajamas for as long as possible.
– Eat that cheese and chips and stuffing and dessert!
– Just enjoy the holidays.

The catches (you knew there’d be a few):
– Note how your body feel before the crappy food and after. Remember that feeling.
– Try to throw in some veggies (raw if possible) even if it means sneaking a salad in the middle of the day. Remember how good you feel after you eat those.
– Go on walks! Walks any time of day any weather during the holidays are wonderful. Do it with a loved one. Just take a quiet break from all the shenanigans and get your blood pumping.

That’s pretty much it. I’m getting my routine check up at the doctor right now. After this, let the relaxation begin!

One more thing, make sure to thank all those people that have to work today and tomorrow. There’s a lot of people that have given up their holiday to make sure the world keeps turning. Thank you guys!! Hopefully you get some time to rest too.

Much love and Merry Christmas Eve!

Throw-It-In-Your-Bag Thursday: Homemade Trail Mix

I’ve been getting a little fired up in my posts the last couple days. Warning, that trend is about to continue … I’ve been getting it from patients and friends: I just don’t have time to eat healthy! I have so many presents to buy and still have to work my job! OH-EM-GEE guys. This is not an excuse, it just means that you have to be better planners for the few weeks that your schedule is tight. If you can learn to do it now, imagine how many busy times it will help you through.

Here’s what most people do when they don’t have time to pack a lunch: eat fast food or don’t eat at all (less likely but the healthier people think this is a better option). NEITHER of these is ok. You MUST eat multiple times a day to give your body the nutrients it needs to function properly, you’re not going to get those nutrients from fast food. End of story.

Now that we have that established, how the heck do you bring enough food to last you an entire busy day??

Well, you can make a smoothie (recipe for an awesome one is on its way), make a healthy sandwich, bring a couple pieces of fruit and….drumroll please…make your own trail mix! YAY!

photo 5

The trail mix has to be homemade because packaged and pre-made mix usually has quite a bit of sugar in it. Sugar coated dried fruit, nuts roasted and nutrients killed, or just plain chocolate chunks that pretty much cancel the goodness of the other stuff. I’m lucky enough that my grocery has an awesome bulk section (see above) but you can buy packaged raw nuts and seed too. No excuses.

A Few Rules:

  • no roasted nuts
  • no sweetened dried fruit
  • no chocolate unless it’s unsweetened
  • NO SUGAR

Trail Mix Possible Nuts:

  • almonds, raw
  • cashews, raw
  • walnuts, raw
  • pecans, raw
  • pistachio nuts, raw
  • brazil nuts, raw
  • macadamia nuts, raw
  • Any other nuts you like but NO PEANUTS! The processing of those hasn’t been so great lately.
  • sunflower seeds

Trail Mix Possible Sweetness:

  • raisins, unsweetened
  • dried cranberries, unsweetened
  • dried apricots, unsweetened
  • dried mango, tough to find unsweetened but so tasty when you do
  • chocolate morsels, unsweetened (aka. bittersweet chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  1. Buy a few bags of whatever ingredients you like and keep them handy.
  2. Throw a couple handfuls of each into a resealable plastic bag whenever you need and throw them in your backpack, briefcase, or car. Make enough to last you a few days.
  3. That’s it!!

TrailMix1-Published

I made this mix while writing this post. It took me a total of 2 minutes and 39 seconds. Just kidding, I didn’t time myself. But it was really quick!

Anyone else have mix-in ideas?