I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Hopefully the feeling of gratitude will stick with you longer than the leftovers.
Speaking of leftovers, I have a recipe for you to help use up some of that extra turkey. Poor turkey, it's such a great, lean source of protein that only gets attention once a year. Maybe buy an extra turkey that's on sale, cook it up, and freeze it for later. (I have a frozen turkey thawing in my fridge right now.)
Anyway, this recipe came about because I had a can of enchilada sauce in my pantry that I was tired of looking at. The plan was to make stuffed peppers, but 2 of the 3 peppers I cut into had gone bad. So, as often happens when we make plans, the plan had to change.
This recipe was quite a hit in my house. Assuming you already have the turkey cooked from Thanksgiving (and maybe even some leftover rice laying around) it comes together very quickly. It makes about 4 servings.
Turkey Pumpkin Enchilada Unstuffed Peppers
1 turkey breast, shredded
1 can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup shredded cheese
In a skillet heat the enchilada sauce, pumpkin, and bell pepper over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the shredded turkey. Heat for another 5 minutes, mixing occasionally to avoid sticking.
Serve up about 1/2 cup of rice per person. Scoop turkey with sauce over the rice, about 1/2 cup. Sprinkle with a handful of pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon of cheese.
Note: If you have raw pumpkin seeds, put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes to give them a little crunch.
Thanksgiving is only a few days away! Is there any better holiday than one that encourages us to eat delicious food and spend time with the people we care most about? The answer is no.
Squash are usually a big part of Thanksgiving meals, especially pumpkin. I've been experimenting recently with roasted squash seeds of many varieties. I have seen the light! Pumpkin seeds are great and all, but have you ever roasted spaghetti squash seeds? Or butternut squash seeds? I'm telling you guys, from this point on in life, never throw those seeds out again. Trust me.
Roasted squash seeds are an easy snack and a great source of protein! All you have to do is clean all the stringy squash innards off the seeds while your squash dish is cooking, rinse them and then let them dry for awhile. Once they're dry, toss them in some canola oil and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Then spread them on a baking sheet (I line mine with foil to avoid clean up) and cook them at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Then try not to eat them all at once cause you'll be sad when they're gone.
Just a note: spaghetti squash seeds are higher in fat than pumpkin and butternut squash so they'll be higher in calories.
Here's a recipe for spaghetti squash so that you can roast the seeds! This is pretty filling and makes enough for 2-4 servings depending on how hungry everyone is and if you want to share your bowl.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls
1 spaghetti squash
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 - 2 cups spaghetti squash
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the two halves on a microwave safe baking dish or plate. Pour about 1/4 inch of water in to the dish. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until squash is soft enough to stab with a fork. Then set squash aside until it is cool enough to handle.
In a skillet, cook the ground turkey, onion, and pepper on medium heat until the turkey is thoroughly cooked. Then turn off heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl scrap out the spaghetti squash with a fork. Set the husks aside. Mix the cooked meat with the squash. Add in the spaghetti sauce and ricotta cheese. Then take the mixture and evenly distribute it back into the squash husks. Place the filled husks on a baking sheet. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and just starting to brown.
The holidays can be a tough time when you're trying to make a lifestyle change. There are treats everywhere and lots of parties and potlucks to attend. Plus the weather is colder so you feel less like going out and being active. But fear not, for I am here to help.
The number one thing I want you to remember is (write it on your forehead if you have to): It's ok. It's ok to have a Christmas cookie or two. It's ok to have a slice of pumpkin pie. It's ok to have some cheese dip while you're waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. It's ok.
Part of living a healthy lifestyle is having a healthy relationship with food. A healthy relationship does not involve feelings of guilt. A healthy relationship does not involve avoidance of a situation just because of the food that will be there. Food is just food, it's not good or bad. Food is meant to provide you with nourishment. It's supposed to provide energy and nutrients and every food you eat does that to one extent or another.
The holidays are a time for us to gather and break bread with those nearest and dearest to us. Eating with others and being around those we care about both have proven health benefits.
Now, just because you allow yourself to indulge over the next month, does not mean you have to overindulge. There are some simple ways to help keep your calorie intake in check. They may seem like common sense, but when faced with a Thanksgiving buffet sometimes common sense goes out the window.
1. If you're not hungry, don't eat. Pretty straight forward, but how many times have you grabbed an appetizer that smelled amazing even though you weren't all that hungry? If the smells are too enticing, step away from the food table and hang out in another area of the room.
2. If it doesn't taste good, stop eating. This one is especially true with desserts. There are a lot of times that a dessert looks or sounds better than it really is (perhaps it's a little bit of that wanting what you can't have?) There's no reason to keep eating something you're not enjoying.
3. Stop eating when you're full. Yes, even if your plate isn't empty. I know that can be very difficult if you were raised in the Clean Plate Club. If you find it challenging consider wrapping up the leftovers for later, or sharing your plate with a friend.
4. Use a smaller plate when possible. This will automatically help you control the portion sizes.
I believe the holidays can be a great form of stress relief if we put the focus on the good parts. If you're hosting a gathering of your own, put the focus on the company more than the food. Gathering everyone for a game of charades will get you up and active and away from the table of food. Besides, the memory of a fun game with those you care about will be a much nicer memory to reflect on than what cookies you ate (even if they're really good cookies).
I spent a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen this last weekend. I've been scouring the internet lately to find the perfect pre-gym breakfast. A lot of the recipes for energy bites I found online sound delicious but have ingredients that are expensive and not what I consider to be kitchen staples. So I decided to create my own.
I wake up early in the morning to go to the gym. In order to not have to wake up any earlier I like to have something I can grab quickly and eat on the short drive. I need something that's going to fill me enough to fuel me for the next hour or so, but not so heavy that it will slow me down or make me uncomfortable during my workout.
In order to fit all of my criteria I wanted something with both quickly available carbohydrates (sugar) and a more slow burn fuel (starch and protein). My internet scouring and kitchen inventory resulted in these delicious oatmeal raisin breakfast biscuits.
The recipe makes about 15 individual biscuits. Each biscuit is roughly 150 calories with 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Biscuits
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup almond butter*
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons low fat milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking sheets.
Put the dates in the a food processor and process until the thick paste it creates starts to clump. In a large bowl combine dates with all the other ingredients minus the milk. Once you've started to mix, add the milk to help it along. You should end up with a very thick dough. Scoop heaping spoonfuls onto your cookie sheet and press them down a little to flatten them. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The biscuits won't darken much or rise, but when you look at them they should look dry.
*Your nut butter of choice would work just as well as almond butter here, although it may alter the flavor slightly. I chose almond butter because it's fairly mild in taste and doesn't overwhelm dishes the way peanut butter does.
I love eggs (and puns). I've never met an egg I didn't like: hard boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, deviled. There's nothing you can do to an egg that doesn't make it more delicious. The best thing about my love affair with eggs is that they're so good for you!
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein. They're also one of the few foods we eat that provides us with a naturally occurring source of vitamin D. In fact, eggs are full of important vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, zinc, multiple B vitamins (including B12), choline, phosphorus, vitamin E, cholesterol.
You're probably scratching your head over that last one. Cholesterol has gotten a bad rep over the years, but it's actually a mineral that's important in our bodies. It's crucial in brain development and healthy pregnancy. Did you know it's possible to have a cholesterol deficiency?
Now, the majority of the United States population is not at risk for low blood cholesterol levels. Many people have the opposite problem. But some research suggests that consuming cholesterol does not actually raise our blood cholesterol levels, and the culprit may be refined carbohydrates. Like all science, nutrition is constantly evolving as we conduct new studies and learn more about how what we eat interacts with our bodies.
I'm certainly not suggesting you start eating a dozen eggs a week (for the sake of your cohabiters, I beg you not to). But there's also no reason to be afraid of eggs. Like with everything, moderation is key. (Also, egg whites, like egg substitutes, have no cholesterol but are still a great source of protein.)
So, having said that, here is a delicious eggy recipe for you to enjoy! This takes almost no time to throw together, so it's a great recipe for when you don't have a lot of time. I made it for dinner a few nights ago, but it would also make a great breakfast (or lunch).
Eggy Sweet Potato Hash
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
~1 cup chopped kale (5 leaves)
Cook the sweet potato cubes in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the potatoes are soft. Cook time will be about 10 minutes. Mix often so the potatoes don't burn. As the potatoes start to get soft, mix the kale in (about 5 minutes into cooking).
Once the potatoes and kale are done split them between two plates. Then use the skillet to cook the eggs to your desired doneness (I did over easy, but if that gooeyness grosses you out the dish will work with a more thoroughly cooked egg). Top the potatoes and kale with an egg and enjoy.
Happy November! The bustle of the holiday season is upon us. This is usually the time of year that everyone's stress levels start to increase. Holidays have a way of doing that. There's meals to plan, parties to attend, presents to buy. It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and overabundance of the season. There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence during the holidays. But if just the thought of it all is causing you stress, it might be good to take a step back.
Managing your stress is an important part of living a healthier life. Not only does stress make you irritable and no fun to be around; it can also increase your risk of heart disease, as well as cause digestion problems, sleep problems, and play a factor in weight gain.
I've talked a little bit about mindfulness before. I really believe there are a lot of benefits to being present in your body and the moment. Just like it's important to know how to make healthy eating choices when you're out to eat, or get enough sleep every night. It's also important to have go-to ways of dealing with stress that comes up in your life. We're all over-scheduled and overwhelmed these days constantly plugged in and with endless to do lists. It's crucial to your health that you take time away from all the stress to unwind.
Stress relief is different for everyone. It's a good idea to try a number of things until you find something that works for you, but I'll give you a few ideas to get you started:
1. Enjoy a long hot bath at the end of the day
2. Take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing
4. Go for a walk (leave your cell phone at home)
5. Turn off your electronics for an hour and read a book or listen to music
6. Cuddle with your favorite person/people or animal(s) - technology free
I'm one of those people who always has a lot of "in progress" projects going on, so I'm always looking for new ways to help myself pull away from it all and relax. Right now I'm doing a 21 day meditation challenge in an effort to reconnect to my inner compass (something I've found can get lost when we focus too much on the daily "to dos" and not enough on the bigger picture of what kind of life we want to live). If meditation is something you think will work for you or you're interested in, give the free challenge a try here.
My favorite way to de-stress though is to practice gratitude. I find it's hard to be grateful and stressed at the same time. Some days finding things to be grateful for is more difficult than others, but there's always something, even if it's as simple as being grateful for a good cup of coffee in the morning. Finding my gratitude not only helps get rid of stress, it makes me happier and help puts life into perspective.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.