Conscious Eats

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  • Thrive Market: How to make your own Kombucha

     Thrive market and I show you how to make your own Kombucha at home for a FRACTION of the price!

    If you guys haven't heard of Thrive yet, be sure to check them out. You can get your healthy (we're talking Whole Foods level) groceries at wholesale prices! Their blog is also filled with lots of great articles and informative videos like this one! xo

    https://thrivemarket.com

  • Ragu Bolognese

    Once I started eating meat again I fell in love with ragu bolognese. I kept meaning to try and make my own and finally gave it a try the other night. I wasn't expecting it to be but it was a huge hit! Here's the recipe:

    .ingredients:

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 large carrot
    • 2 celery ribs
    • 5 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
    • 3 tb veggie stock
    • 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
    • salt
    • pepper
    • red chili flakes
    • 4 tb olive oil
    • GF Fusilli 

    Directions:

    Prepare your fusilli (or pasta you prefer) according to the packaging.

    Roughly chop the carrot, celery and garlic and put in a food processor until finely minced. In a large saucepan heat 3 tb olive oil over medium-high heat and add carrot, celery and garlic mix. Saute for around 6 min. Add the remaining 1 tb olive oil to the pan along with the ground beef and sauté together, breaking up the meat for 5-6 min. Add the diced tomatoes, stock, some salt and pepper and a couple pinches of red chili flakes. Simmer for 12 min. Add the red wine vinegar. Add your pasta to the pan and stir to mix together.

  • Sausage and Broccoli Rabe (or Kale!) Gluten Free Pasta

    Every Sunday night we have pasta. It started out just because we were craving it but now it’s become a weekly event that friends come to and something we all look forward to. Since it’s a weekly tradition I can’t just make the same pasta dish every time so I’ve come up with a few fun ways to change it up! My personal favorite is this sausage and broccoli rabe rigatoni:

    Pick up a pound of italian sausage out of its casing (something like andoullie will work well too). If you can’t find broccoli rabe, broccolini will do or kale. Mince up a few garlic cloves and sauté in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for about a minute. Chop up your broccoli rabe and add it along with the sausage to the pan. Sauté everything together for about 10 minutes or until the sausage is cooked all the way through and nicely browned. Be sure to break up the sausage as you go. Add a bit of sea salt and pepper. Set aside.

    Prepare your pasta according to the packaging. For this recipe I like to use rigatoni but any kind will do. For Gluten Free the best pasta on the market is BioNature.

    Once your pasta is done and drained, add it to your sausage mix. Mix it together well and season with more salt and pepper if needed. At this stage I often like to add about 1 tbsp of Earth Balance. If you’re okay with real butter you can sub that instead.

    This is one of my favorite pasta night dishes and it’s so simple to make.

    Enjoy! xo

  • Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

    I'm not that crazy about soup but really good soup can get my attention every now and then. Realizing what a filling meal it can be, I wanted to come up with my own that I would actually be excited to eat. So here it is! 

    • diced butternut squash (they sell a container of it prechopped at Whole Foods often)
    • 1/2 red bell pepper chopped
    • 1 garlic clove chopped
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 quart veggie stock
    • 1 tbsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

    In a large pot heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red pepper and garlic and sautee for 3 min. Add the butternut squash, chili powder, salt and maple syrup and mix together. Add the veggie stock, bring the heat to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer for 45min. After the 45min, let it cool down a bit and then blend the soup in a blender (you'll probably want to blend half and then blend the other half as to not overwhelm your blender.) Return the soup to pot and reheat. Serve with a few grinds of fresh ground pepper and choped chives.

    xo

  • Healthy & Simple to make Chicken Tacos

    I love tacos. I could eat them every day — especially these healthy ground chicken ones*. Dress them up any way you’d like. I like to keep them pretty simple with a big slice of avocado and some cholula hot sauce.

    what you need:

    1lb ground chicken (dark meat preferably) Note: Ground turkey is an option as well!

    1 red bell pepper chopped

    1 other pepper chopped (green, orange, yellow or another red. Whichever you like best!) 

    2 tablespoons chili powder

    2 teaspoons cumin

    2 teaspoons garlic powder

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

    olive oil

    corn or gluten free flour tortillas

    what you do:

    In a large pan heat up 3 tbsp olive oil. Add the pepper and sauté for 5 min. Add the ground chicken along with the chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Continuing sautéing together, breaking up the chicken as you go along till the meat is nice and browned (about 10 minutes).

    Heat up your tortillas either in a dry skillet (my preference) or the microwave. Put a nice big piece of avocado on a tortilla, scoop on some chicken & peppers and top off with hot sauce.

    Simple. Delicious. Good for you.

    xo

    L

    *Note: This recipe is a variation on Gwyneth Paltrow'sChicken Fajitas recipe. Her cookbook is worth the hype!

  • Kitchen Staples

    I had one of those days today where I needed lunch and had no food in the house. Thankfully as of late I've been sure to keep some staples in my kitchen so I can make a meal at a moments notice. Here are some of my favorite things that I'm sure to have on hand.

    1. Maldon Sea Salt. To me, many sea salts taste the same but Maldon really brings something extra to the table. A sprinkle over top of some roasted veggies or over some avocado on toast turns the ordinary into extraordinary.

    2. Frozen Vegetables. I used to avoid these like the plague and would only opt for fresh veggies. And though I still keep it fresh when I'm picking up ingredients for a meal, having frozen veggies on hand has been a game changer for either a last minute meal thrown together or for spicing up a dish in a new way. It turns out frozen veggies can even hold more nutritional value since they've been frozen right after being picked, so stock up!!

    3. Bionature Pasta. This is the best GF pizza on the market. I have a pasta night once a week with friends and even the gluten-lovers can't tell the difference. Though tomato sauce is wonderful, you can always make a last minute pasta sauce by sauteeing up some of those frozen veggies with a little olive oil and garlic! I've done it many times after a long flight when we get home and need something quick to eat.

    4. Jovial Whole Peeled Tomatoes (or really any type of tomato sauce). This, of course, goes with the pasta (i love making homemade sauce) and with my aforementioned pasta nights I always have these stocked. But it also comes in handy for chilis, pizzas, or as a sauce over some polenta and vegetables and since they have a long shelf life why not keep one in the cabinet ready to go!

    What staples do you have at home?

  • Choosing the Best Tea

    I LOOOVVEEE tea. I drink multiple cups a day and am very particular about what I'm drinking. If you ever spot me, chances are I'll have a stash of tea bags in my purse because I take them with me everywhere. How people will hand out mints, I'll hand out a tea bag if we're ever somewhere and a friend doesn't like the selection around them. I only carry winners. You're better than Lipton.

    Here are my top winners right now. Each brings something different to the table depending on what you're feeling but all will leave you relaxed and satisfied.

    1. Kusmi Rose Green Tea. Peaceful. Relaxing. Perfection. This green tea is delicately fragrant with rose and is nothing short of a spa in a cup. No part is overbearing (when your tea can get gritty) and each sip from first to last is like one long meditation. 

    2. Rishi Matcha Green. We hear all the time that green tea is one of the wonder teas. It's chock full of antioxidants and perhaps no greater source of them is in Matcha Green. This matcha is incredibly vibrant and enjoyable. I've been trying lately to have one of these a day. With benefits like increasing metabolism, source of EGCg (powerful antioxidant fights against free radicals), detoxing and mood enhancing you can see why.

    3. Choice Tea PeppermintI have been drinking Choice tea for years and it's by far one of my favorites out there. It's organic and high quality and you can find it in any Whole Foods you go to. Though I love many flavors the peppermint is one of my favorites (and certainly my favorite peppermint). If you ever have an upset stomach or feel a bit naseaous this is a great one to have. It also works as a nice tea after dinner since the peppermint cools down your stomach and makes food easier to digest.

    4. Rishi Blueberry Hibiscus. My husband got a tea bag of this at a restaurant a few months ago and we loved it so much we ordered 50 bags online! If you like fruity teas this is a winner but I like to use it when I'm really craving a snack but I know I should wait until dinner.:)

    What are some of your favorite teas to drink?

  • How to make the Perfect Brussel Sprouts

    Growing up this vegetable was my nemesis. I couldn’t understand how anyone in their right mind would CHOOSE to eat this leafy ball of grossness. It probably didn't help that I was being fed frozen ones in butter sauce. I still remember my first bite of the brussel sprout that changed everything. It was Thanksgiving 8 years ago when a friend promised she could change my mind about this dreaded vegetable. I didn’t believe her for a second and told her she was in for quite the challenge but as soon as I took my first bite I immediately wanted to eat the entire serving plate. After that I no longer shied away from them on menus. In fact, any time I’ve seen them on a menu since I’ve ordered them. This has also led me to a very extreme preference in how I like them done. Extra crispy, a little salty and often with bacon:). While dining out recently I tried some simply prepared sprouts that go me to experimenting and I couldn’t believe the results. You can now make the perfect brussel sprouts in less than 15 minutes. And I promise, no butter sauce.

    What you need:

    -brussel sprouts sliced into quarters (in 1/2 if they’re small)

    -olive oil

    -sea salt

    -pepper

    -lemon

    -Maldon Salt

    Directions:

    Set your oven to Broil (convection broil if you have it). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the sprouts with some olive oil, a bit of sea salt and pepper. Broil until browned and crispy. This is usually less than 10 min. Once out the over squeeze a bit of lemon on top and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt! Voila! They’ll be a huge hit!

    (to make it even better - Cut up some bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, saute until cooked in a pan and once these sprouts are done toss in the bacon fat and pieces;))

    xo

  • Gluten Free & Dairy Free Fried Chicken Sandwiches

     No longer are the days when you have to look at a fried chicken sandwich and dry your tears with the menu you crumpled up because you were so distraught you couldn't have it. (oh wait, you've never done that? Yea, me neither...;)) These GF and DF fried chicken sandwiches are simple to make and make you everyone's new best friend.

    What you need:

    for the sauce:

    veganaise

    can of jalepenos

    for the chicken

    4 pounded chicken cutlets

    2 cups gluten free flour (Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour or Bob's Red Mill 1 for 1)

    salt

    1 egg

    unsweetened rice or almond milk

    hot sauce

    also needed

    dill pickles, thinly sliced into chips

    gluten free buns

    Sauce: dice up about 5 or 6 jalepenos and then add to 1/2 cup of veganiase. Add 1/4 tsp of the juice from the jar (if you like spicy), then mix it all together.

    Chicken: Using kitchen/meat scissors (or a sharp knife) cut the chicken into strips. (Note: you can season the chicken with a dry brine if you'd like beforehand. Just combine the chicken strips with some salt, garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour). In a bowl combine a cup of the milk, the egg, and a couple dashes of hot sauce and whisk together.  Have a plate ready with 2 cups of the gluten free flour mixed with a teaspoon or two of salt. 

    Heat a large skillet over high heat and add about 1/2 an inch of canola oil to the pan. Get the oil to about 375 degrees. Dredge each piece of chicken in the egg mixture and then roll around in the flour to get it coated. Add it to the pan and repeat with each strip. Fry it in the pan about 3 min for the first side and 2 for the second. The time will vary depending on the size of the strip. It's best to use a meat thermometer to be sure all your strips are 165 degrees or higher.

    To assemble:

    Do a light toasting of the buns. Spread your veganaise mixture onto one side (or both!) of the bun and then add some of the pickle chips. Add the chicken strips (1 or 2 usually does the trick) and your sandwich is ready to go! Serve with a side of hot sauce!

  • My Week As Gwyneth AKA My Battle With Quinoa

    I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow's cook book "IT'S ALL GOOD". People can hate on her all they want but it doesn't change the fact that the recipes are downright delicious. Throughout the book she labels certain recipes as suitable for the "Elimination Diet". Gwen claims this is how she eats most of the time and is what contributes to her glowing skin, awesome bod and overall wellbeing. That all sounded pretty good to me so I've decided to set it up as a week challenge. I won't be going by her sample menu as a breakfast of a "nice pear" isn't quite enough food in my book, but instead will just be choosing recipes based on what's labeled "elimination diet". Everything I eat for the next 7 days will be from this cookbook. I've taken "before" photos and will take some "after" on the 7th day and embarrassingly share them with you. 

    Now, there are a few guidelines on top of the recipes. Gwen says no alcohol so I'm typing this from bed vaguely hungover from a prosecco-induced night out for Cinco De Mayo. I thought it was best to get it out of my system:). She also says little to no coffee so I'll be doing one small cup each morning and leaving it at that. Okay, let the skinny/feel good/beautifying week begin!

    Day 1

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal. This is literally the only breakfast item in the book suitable for the diet. As someone who hates oatmeal this made me nervous but a quinoa version is pretty delicious. I dressed this one up with bananas, coconut and almonds. But I can definitely see this getting old by day 7. (coffee is Grounds & Hounds with some homemade almond milk)

    L: Mango & Avocado Salad with a Roasted Sweet Potato So my mango wasn't fully ripe and I thought I had brown rice syrup for the dressing but it was really brown rice vinegar:) I also may have been a bit too excited to eat so forgot to add the basil BUT this ended up tasting pretty great regardless. Sweet Potatoes are always a win so no surprise there:)

    S: Almond & Kale Smoothie. Hungry, so hungry. I rushed home to make this smoothie. It's good but it's a smoothie. I'm still hungry:)

    D: Spicy Brussels Sprouts & Spanish BBQ Chicken. I subbed out the fish sauce in the brussels sprouts for tamari and it worked great. I was surprisingly full by the end of this meal and didn't get hungry again that night. That's unheard of. Day 1 success!

    Day 2

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal. First half -really delicious. Second half - I don't know how I'm going to eat this every morning for the next 5 days. Coffee is my saving grace.

    L: Spring Vegetable Soup (Asian Version) & Brown Rice. This was the easiest soup I've ever made and though super simple was very filling. I should probably give soup more of a chance going forward. Sorry soup.

    I start a French class tonight though and could really use a coffee round #2. I miss you coffee round #2.

    D: Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers, Roasted Sweet Potato & Beet Salad With Scallion Mint Pesto. OMG YUM. Confession: I ate 2 burgers!

    Day 3

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal. I can't believe it but I'm actually beginning to enjoy this. It's been a VERY long time since I could eat so little for breakfast and stay full till lunch. Nice work quinoa cereal!

    L: Spring Vegetable Soup (Italian Style) & Quinoa with Scallion Mint Pesto. There is so much prep work with this diet but it's really rewarding when things carry over for other meals. I made more quinoa to have on hand for the morning so had a cup of that with some leftover pesto from last night. I was able to make the Italian version of the soup with the pesto as well so this meal was easy peasy and didn't feel too redundant from yesterday.

    S: Kale Chips. My husband was eating potato chips. My guess is they were better but this was a nice healthy alternative. Need to go smaller on the kale sizes next time though because only the tiny pieces were crunchy. Getting excited for dinner...

    D: Teriyaki Chicken, Stir-Fry Brown Rice & Miso Almond Asparagus. Wow! I'll be making this all the time when I'm not on this diet. Both my husband and I were blown away by all of it, especially the stir fry brown rice (I didn't use the nori). Even better - this meal was so easy and quick to make and I was able to use the leftover brown rice from yesterday. The cooking time they provided for the chicken wasn't accurate (they said 3 minutes on each side and it was more like 10+ a side in the grill pan) but everything else was done in under 5 minutes!

    Day 4

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal. I miss you banana pancakes.

    Update: I have not been able to start my day. After breakfast and a quick shower I had to go back to Whole Foods to stock up for the next two days. By the time I got home it was time to walk the dog and... I was already hungry. So time to start lunch. I'm swimming in dishes. Some still from yesterday afternoon. I've also managed drop a bunch of stuff. Can you tell I'm overwhelmed? This diet is exhausting. It's far too domesticated for what I was ready for. I'm about to eat lunch and then I'm getting into bed to watch a movie for my French class. The dishes can sit there. I don't care.

    L: Turkey Meatballs & White Beans, French Style. I may have undercooked these meatballs. I'm not entirely sure. I'm just going with it. 

    D: Crispy Roasted Chicken/Broccoli Rabe /Quinoa w/ Butternut Squash, Scallions & Parsley There was no butternut squash so I just did it without. Honestly any other night this meal would have been a win but right now I just want someone to hand me a glass of bubbly and make me a steak frites:)

    Day 5

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal (are you surprised?!) This morning I added cinnamon to it. Things are getting wild.

    L: Chicken Kebobs/Black Rice With Coconut/Scallion Mint Pesto for dipping sauce. The chicken was delicious. For some reason the rice refused to be anything but crispy (in a raw rice kind of way) so after 2 bites of copious chewing I bailed on it and ate leftover quinoa from last night. Once this diet is over I'm going on a quinoa cleanse.

    D: Roasted Cauliflower w/ chickpeas, mustard & parsley/Spicy Brussels Sprouts/Roasted Sweet Potato. I'm getting so sick of chicken, so tonight went pure veggies! I wasn't totally into my sweet potato so I decided to take the flesh from it and turn it into Bernard's Pumpkin Pie shake. The shake was surprisingly delicious and was the perfect thing to fill me up for the night!

    Day 6

    B: Sweet Quinoa Cereal. I forgot to take a photo of this but by now you know what it looks like:) Added some vanilla protein powder leftover from my shake last night. It almost made it taste new again, almost.

    L: Millet Falafel. My balls wouldn't stick together (that's what he said) so I ended up with one giant millet pancake. I'm pretty sure portion control is important on this diet but I ate the whole thing. Whoops.

    I saw that there was a little bit of coffee stuck to the bottom of my mug from this morning. Added some water and voila! Coffee water! I'm not getting desperate at all...

    D: Chicken Burgers, Thai Style/Carrots with Black Sesame+Ginger/Korean Slaw. I was very appreciative of how easy this meal was. It was also extremely delicious. I'll definitely make these again. My husband ate his burgers on buns and LOVED them. I practiced willpower and only ate 1 burger this time. Small victories.

    Day 7 (Hooray!)

    B: Do I even need to say it? I took two bites and couldn't eat any more. I spent the rest of my coffee dreaming about my breakfast tomorrow.

    L: Chicken Burger, Thai Style/Carrots with Black Sesame+Ginger. I'm keeping everything simple today. My willpower from last night paid off! I ate my leftover burger and what remained of the carrots. I didn't have to chop, mash, mince or marinate a thing!:)

    D: Chicken Kebob/Stir-Fry Brown Rice/Leftover Korean Slaw. As I said earlier. I'm keeping everything easy peasy today. These were the 2 easiest and most satisfying meals this week so they won.

    S: I went to a party tonight with an open bar & ridiculously good looking food. I went home and had a teaspoon of almond butter. Good night.

    The Day After

    I couldn't get to breakfast quick enough. Banana pancakes & sausage, I have new appreciation for you and if I weren't already married I'd get down on one knee!! But for reals, here are my thoughts on the diet...

    My Thoughts!

    Though I didn't necessarily see a difference in myself physically (see embarrassing photos below) I did have a ton more energy. Usually by 10pm I'm ready for bed but on this diet I could keep going if I chose. I was also easily able to fall asleep if that's what I preferred. I'm sure if someone were to do this diet and not make everything from the same cookbook it could easily be adapted into a lifestyle. I was also significantly fuller between meals and felt less of a need to snack in between as I usually do. I wasn't expecting that and it was a nice surprise. If you look at my "sample menu" I created before the diet, I had allotted myself 2 snacks a day:) 

    Will I Do This Ever Again?

    I could see myself giving it another go but not doing everything from the same cookbook. (it's like eating at the same restaurant every day for every meal) But for now, I'm going to snack on crackers, eat a steak, have a glass of wine and throw out any remaining quinoa from my fridge.

    xo

    Before & After Photos (I may be skinnier in the before from my hungover dehydration!:))

    Sample Menu