The Best Diet and Fitness Trends of 2014

Wow. I can’t believe we are on our last day of 2014. Both personally and professionally it has been a great year for me. I got to witness the birth of my first nephew in February, traveled the world over the summer (or at least South America), I’ve already gotten in two snowboarding trips this winter, and I won my first recipe contest for this soup! Not too shabby.

My nephew Noah who is almost one year old now!
My nephew Noah who is almost one year old now!
At the beach with my niece Avery
At the beach with my niece Avery

Twenty-fourteen was also a good year for the health industry. It’s finally known that Dr. Oz is a quack and we need to stop taking his medical advice (over 50% of his recommendations have no truth to them according to scientific studies), my wonderful blog is now floating out in cyberspace, and a few of those silly fad diets (Master Cleanse, Sensa) are finally on their way out. The following is a list of some of the best diet trends of 2014.  You should give these trends a  try in the new year if you are looking to fulfill some of those “lose weight, get healthy for real this time” resolutions.

1. Mediterranean Diet.  The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Fish and seafood consumption are encouraged twice per week and red meat is limited.  Drinking wine in moderation is encouraged. That means one (4 ounce) glass per day for women and two glasses for men. This eating pattern has consistently been linked with lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from Harvard even suggests that a Mediterranean Diet has the power to lengthen  telomeres which is a biomarker of healthy aging. In a nutshell, following the Mediterranean diet can help you live longer and healthier. Want to learn more? Check out this book The Complete Mediterranean Diet.

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2. Vegan/Vegetarian. There are a lot of reasons to go veg. You can do it for health, you can do it for the animals, for the environment, or some combination of all three. Vegan and vegetarian diets have been studied for years and are routinely linked to having a lower body weight and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Generally vegans fare even better than vegetarians. If eschewing meat all together is not your cup of tea, try Meatless Monday or The Flexitarian Diet.  If you go vegetarian, there is one thing you are going to hear a lot. I bet my vegetarian friends know which question that is. “How do you get enough protein?” It’s simple: beans, nuts, lentils, and soy. Dairy and eggs if you’re not vegan. A poorly planned vegetarian diet may be lacking in protein, just the same as a poorly planned omnivorous diet would be lacking in protein. Green Chile Corn Casserole

3. Write it Down. Keeping a food journal is a pain in the butt. But you gotta do it for effective weight loss! Whether you go old school and keep a paper journal or use one of the many fitness apps out there that allow you to track your calories, journaling is a proven tool to help you be more mindful of your eating habits. I recommend not only tracking what you eat, but also how hungry and full you are. Use a scale from 1-10, just like the pain scale they use at the Drs. office. If you’re at a one you are ravenously hungry and could eat a cow. A ten is uncomfortably full, why did I eat so much, let me go get my stretchy pants. Ideally, you want to keep your hunger between a 4-7.

4. Foam Rolling. I foam rolled for the first time this year. It was heaven. Foam rolling is essentially giving yourself a massage to work out the tightness and knots in your muscles. Or in personal trainer jargon self-myofascial release. Foam rolling will probably hurt a little the first time, but if it’s hurting a lot you should stop and ask a professional for help. I don’t know about you, but at my gym they tend to hide the foam rollers and covet them like they are some secret weapon, so I suggest buying your own.  This is the Foam Massage Roller that I use.

foam rolling
Photo credit: breakingmuscle.com. Rolling out your IT band feels great!

5. Weights/Strength Training. Every time I have turned on the news for the past two days there is some fitness expert talking about how strength training is better for you than cardio for weight loss. Muscle burns more than fat is the mantra that is constantly being touted. I agree, muscle is more metabolically active than fat. But a half hour of cardio is going to burn at least double the calories of a half hour of weight lifting. One problem with “muscle burns more than fat” is that it’s assumed you are actually going to gain substantial muscle from lifting weights. Yes, if you are a man, particularly a young man, you will have hypertrophy (muscle growth) from lifting weights consistently. If you are a woman over a certain age, say thirty, you’re not going to gain that much muscle (unless you have an Olympic athlete training schedule). It’s not your fault, its your lack of high levels of testosterone.

I’m not saying weight training isn’t good. Weight training is very good. It’s effective for decreasing osteoporosis and sarcopenia (muscle loss), and now its even better than cardio for losing weight.  Personally, I have been on top of it with cardio this past year (thanks Zumba) but have been a bit lacking in the strength training department. One of my resolutions this year is strength training at least twice per week. Whether its fifteen minutes of weights added to my cardio session or an hour-long Body Pump class, I’m getting it done this next year!

What are your New Years Resolutions? Fitness related or otherwise? Happy New Year to all my readers out there! I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a great year!

 

Diet and Fitness Trends to Ditch in 2015

With the new year just a few days away I thought I would  recap some of the most popular diet and fitness trends of 2014. Some trends are definitely here to stay; such as personal tracking devices like the Fit Bit, group exercise classes like Body Pump, and super foods like kale and quinoa. But some trends, I hope, can stay behind in 2014. If you are looking to try a new diet in 2015 I recommend that you steer clear of the following trends.

1. Paleo. Paleo or the “Caveman Diet” was pretty huge this past year. Proponents claim that if you remove all processed and modern day convenience foods you can achieve optimal health and lose weight. The idea is to eat only what a caveman would have- that means no grains or starchy vegetables, no beans, no dairy, and minimal fruit. You are essentially eating meat, eggs, and vegetables 24/7. No thank you! While caveman may not have suffered from modern day diseases such as diabetes or obesity, they also didn’t live as long as we do.  Not to mention cavemen chased after their food to kill it. I bet if we had to chase after our food we would also have much lower rates of obesity in 2015. My recommendation would be to eat minimally processed foods and leave the rest of Paleo in the past!

paleo
Photo credit: tobyamidornutrition.com

2. Alternative Sugars and Sweeteners. I’m talking about you coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar, Sucanat, etc. etc. My biggest pet peeve is someone making a dessert with maple syrup and calling it a “no added sugar” dessert. Are you kidding me? One quarter cup of maple syrup has 200 calories and 45 grams of sugar. That is more sugar and calories than a 12 ounce can of coke. While sugar may not be in the title of maple syrup, honey, or agave, all of these sweeteners are filled with sugar and are nutritionally VERY similar to white sugar. Honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar do contain minute amounts of micronutrients but they are really negligible unless you are consuming large amounts of these sweeteners. Alternative sweeteners are not bad, but the idea that they are better or healthier than regular sugar is incorrect.

sugar alternatives
Photo Credit: bonappetit.com

3. Gluten Free. I’ve blogged about gluten before. That’s why I’m going to keep this short n’ sweet.  If you’ve read my previous gluten post you know that I think going gluten free is nonsense unless you actually have the autoimmune disorder celiac disease.  One of the most prominent studies on non-celiac gluten sensitivity was even retracted this year by the author himself. If you are trying out gluten free just to be “healthy” don’t do it! Whole grains are good for you.

gltuen

4. Crossfit. Dun dun dun. I said it. Crossfit is one of the worst fitness trends of 2014. I’m all about women lifting heavy weights and being strong, but I’m not about maxing out your weight with bad form and getting injured. Plus, in the words of my sister “Crossfit turns you into a douche.”  Her words, not mine. Crossfitters are also devout followers of one of my least favorite diet trends (see number one above).

crossfit
photo credit: paceperformance.net

5. Fitspo. Fitspo stands for fitspiration. If you’ve never heard of it a quick google search should help you get the picture. I’m sorry, but looking at fitness models with thigh gaps and chiseled abs is not inspiring, that’s demoralizing. The mantra of fitspo is to inspire people to be fit instead of “skinny,” which is great. However, the images which appear on fitspo are generally very thin women with some toned muscles here and there. You will never find fit women who are 200 pound weight lifters or rugby players. I hope fitspo dies hard in the new year.

fitspo
Photo credit: Creatina10.com I’m not feeling particularly inspired to workout by this skinny girl in a pink sports bra.

Those are my top five. What diet or fitness trends do you think we need to ditch in the new year? Stay tuned for a post of the best trends tomorrow!

Sweet and Salty Glazed Pecans

Glazed PecansI intended to make these before Christmas. Give them as a food gift, in a pretty Mason jar, wrapped with a nice bow. Oopsy, I think I missed my opportunity. But that’s okay, because now I get to keep them ALL for myself.  After tasting these pecans I don’t want to give them away, and you won’t want to either. They are THAT good.

Pecans are delicious on their own, toasting makes them better, and this recipe makes them amazing. Can’t stop eating them amazing. It’s the salty-sweet crunch that makes them impossible to stop. Don’t be fooled by the white coating, they are not covered in sugar. (Okay, yes, technically they are covered in sugar, but not a lot of sugar).  It’s the whipped egg white that gives them the snow-dusted look.

Did you know that pecans have the highest antioxidant level among all tree nuts? Pretty cool, right? That means every time you eat pecans you are consuming disease fighting compounds. Antioxidants help prevent cellular oxidation which is linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. One and a half ounces of nuts per day is also linked to a healthy body weight and lower rates of heart disease.Pecans are the antioxiNUT

Pecans are the antioxiNUT

These would make a great appetizer for a New Years Eve Party. You can also eat them on salads, on top of yogurt, or on your morning oatmeal. Just remember one serving is one quarter cup. I’m pretty sure I ate at least 3 servings today. That’s okay, more antioxidants for me.Glazed Pecansglazed pecans

spinach salad with pecans
Try them on a salad instead of croutons!

 

Sweet and Salty Glazed Pecans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ C. granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • 16 oz. pecans (4 cups)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225 F.
  2. Whisk egg white in a large bowl until foamy, about 45 seconds.
  3. Whisk in sugar, salt and allspice until blended. Stir in pecans until well coated.
  4. Pour into a greased large, rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 60-70 minutes.
  6. Store in an airtight container

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Dark Chocolate Peppermint CakeI have a confession: I HATE dark chocolate. It’s bitter and it does not taste like chocolate. To me, eating dark chocolate is like biting into a hunk of brown chalk. No thank you! I’d rather eat fruit. Being a dietitian, everyone wants to give me a “healthy gift” so I am showered with dark chocolate for my birthday and Christmas. I appreciate polyphenols (antioxidants found in cacao beans and other plants) but I don’t want them in the form of dark chocolate. Next year, just get me some Cutie Oranges or walnuts please?

Much to my dismay, when I woke up this morning to make my chocolate peppermint cake all we had was dark chocolate cake mix. Nooo!!! I’ve been planning this cake for so long, the last thing I want is a bitter, chalk-like cake. Not wanting to go to the store on a busy holiday morning I just made it anyway. And you know what, it’s not that bad. I would say for someone that likes dark chocolate it is probably amazing. The candy cane does a pretty good job of masking the bitter dark chocolate flavor. Not to mention, this cake is unbelievably moist and fluffy which is my number one criteria for a good cake.  This cake is also really easy to make. I baked it before work and came back on my lunch break to make the frosting and shoot photos. Easy peezy. Well, the baking is easy, the photos- not so much.

Pour equal amounts of batter into two round  9 or 10" cake pans
Pour equal amounts of batter into two round 9 or 10″ cake pans

 

Make the cake even using a  long knife or cake leveler. Don't mind my chipped nails or the coke zero in the background.
Make the cake even using a long knife or cake leveler.
Pop that top off. Frost the bottom to avoid crumbs.
Pop that top off. Frost the bottom to avoid crumbs.
Frost the top first, then the sides.
Frost the top first, then the sides.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Make this cake for Christmas if you have time. Who doesn’t have a bunch of old candy canes they need to use up before the Holidays are over? No time before Christmas? Just make this cake for any occasion sans candy cane! It would be great topped with nuts or fresh fruit! I’m going to make this cake for my nephew on his first birthday but topped with my favorite chocolate avocado frosting instead!Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Dark Chocolate Peppermint CakeP1180210This cake is adapted slightly from the cake at Jello Recipes. The frosting is different.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 pkg. dark chocolate cake mix
  • 1 pkg. Jello Instant Pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz. light sour cream
  • ½ C oil
  • ½ C water
  • ¼ C milk
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 18 small candy canes, coarsely crushed (about 1 C)
Frosting
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 C)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2½ C powder sugar. sifted
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat first 7 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until blended. Stir in chopped chocolate and 2 Tbsp. crushed candy. Pour into 2 (9-inch) round pans sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Bake 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. Carefully remove pans. Cool cakes completely.
  4. To prepare frosting beat cream cheese and butter in mixer until well combined. Add in sifted powder sugar and peppermint extract. Stir until combined.
  5. If tops of cakes are rounded, level with a knife or cake leveler. Frost top of first layer, then stack and frost second layer. Top with crushed candy canes. ​

Top Four Foods to Fight the Common Cold

December is a jam-packed month. It is filled with holiday celebrations, mine and my Mom’s Birthdays (on the same day no less), and it is the unofficial beginning of snowboarding season, woohoo! With so much to do there is absolutely no time to get sick! Aside from the obvious precautions like washing your hands, staying away from sick people, and not licking doorknobs (hehe), what can you do to prevent yourself from getting sick this cold and flu season? Make sure to keep your immunity up by getting enough sleep, exercising, and getting all of the right nutrients your body needs. These 4 foods have immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties to keep you going strong this winter season.

1. Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds). Pepitas are an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium, and zinc! Zinc not only reduces the duration of the common cold, but it has also been show to help prevent colds. In a randomized controlled trial participants taking zinc supplements had 40% fewer colds than those taking placebo. One half cup of pepita seeds has 5 mg of zinc which is about half of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance). Try them in this award winning soup!

pepitas
I’m slightly obsessed with pepitas

2. Red Bell Pepper. One large red bell pepper contains 300 mg of vitamin C. The RDA  for vitamin C is only 75 mg for females and 90 mg for men. Large doses of vitamin C has long been thought of as a way to prevent colds. Unfortunately, in recent studies vitamin C has fallen short in preventing colds for the general population. However, it was discovered that extra vitamin C was helpful in marathon runners and extreme endurance athletes. Some studies also show that vitamin C can reduce the severity and length of a cold. That is enough evidence for me to start chowin’ down on some peppers this winter! I will be trying this recipe to get my vitamin C in! red bell peppers

3. Garlic.  Garlic has several health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and combating the cold and flu. The biologically active component of garlic is called allicin (pronounced Alison). Allicin is the component which is responsible for garlic’s strong flavor and smell. Allicin can be destroyed by heat, so when possible consume garlic raw or only cook briefly. If you have a bleeding disorder please consult your doctor before consuming  large amounts of garlic, as it can inhibit platelet aggregation and lead to increased bleeding.garlic

4. Chicken Noodle Soup. Chicken noodle soup, or noodle soup for vegetarians, may have real healing benefits if consumed while sick. Most of the benefits are fairly obvious; warm broth to sooth a sore throat, hot steam to break up nasal congestion, and that comforting feeling you get from eating soup, especially if someone else made it for you. Whats more, one study has shown that chicken noodle soup helps stop white blood cells from migrating to the lungs and essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. To learn more about the healing properties of soup check out this article.chic

I hope you find some of these natural remedies useful! What do you when you have a cold? To explore more natural treatments for the cold and flu check out the NIH website for complementary and alternative medicine.

 

 

Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls

sweet potato rollsJust say no to low carb diets.  Why you may ask. Number one, they are often lacking in essential nutrients your body needs, especially if you are an athlete or heavy exerciser. Number two,  bread.  Need I say more? Fresh bread is amazing. Why would you ever want to go without it?  There is nothing better than fresh, piping hot bread, with a little melting butter cloud inside.

I made these rolls for Thanksgiving and they were a major hit.  You may think its weird to add sweet potatoes to rolls, but it actually helps keep the dough moist and light, without affecting the flavor. The sweet potatoes also give the rolls  a wonderful golden orange color.

Make sure the sweet potato puree is warm when adding it to the yeast and flour.
Make sure the sweet potato puree is warm when adding it to the yeast and flour.
sweet potato rolls
Knead that dough until it is nice and fluffy!

Have you ever made bread from scratch before? If not, now is the time to give it a try!  There are a few things to know first. You have to be patient for the bread to rise (I hate waiting) and you have to find a good warm spot for rising (otherwise the dough will not rise and you will be a sad sad baker).  If there are no warm spots in your kitchen try putting your bread in the clothes dryer after it has been running. It’s the perfect warm environment your bread needs to get it’s rise on. Just make sure everyone in your house knows the bread is in the dryer!

After the first rise place them in a 9 x 13" baking pan
After the first rise place them in a 9 x 13″ baking pan

sweet potato rolls

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This recipe is from Bright Eyed Baker. I tweaked it just a bit from the original.

Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1½ cups mashed sweet potato
  • 4½ cups bread flour
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • melted butter for brushing on top
Instructions
  1. Scald the milk by warming in the microwave for 1½ - 2 minutes. Add the cubed butter and allow to melt and cool while prepping the mashed potatoes and mixing the dry ingredients.
  2. In a bowl whisk together the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt.
  3. Combine the mashed potatoes with the butter/milk mixture and whisk together until smooth. Make sure the butter/milk is warm, you may need to reheat it again.
  4. Add the potato mixture to the dry ingredients along with the egg. Use a spatula to combine everything together as best as possible, then use hands to knead dough into a single ball.
  5. Place dough on floured surfaced and knead for about 10 minutes, until soft and elastic. Shape into a smooth ball, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm area for 20 minutes.
  6. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter or spray. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape into a ball. Place balls in baking sheet and cover with greased plastic wrap. Leave to rise for 45 minutes in a warm place (like the dryer).
  7. Preheat over to 350 F. Bake fully risen rolls for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.
  8. Serve warm. Rolls can also be covered tightly with plastic wrap and reheated.
 

Top 5 Healthy Foods Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Top 5 Healthy Foods Sabotaging Your Weight Loss
Image from Roanoke.com

You’re diligently working out five days a week, you’re watching your diet, avoiding seconds and choosing lots of vegetables. Still, the weight won’t come off. Hitting weight plateaus is all too common and extremely frustrating. What’s going on? You’re eating all of the superfoods that Dr. Oz told you to eat! The problem may lie in one of these five sneaky foods, which are considered “healthy” but are not necessarily waist line friendly.

1. Light Yogurt. At just 90 calories per container how is this not a dieter’s best friend?  Artificial sweeteners and fat re-placers, that’s how. In observational studies, people using artificial sweeteners instead of regular sugar rarely lose more weight than those just eating sugar. If your yogurt contains aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K, or saccharin it is artificially sweetened. Some food companies like to call Splenda “Natural” as it is made from sugar, but let me tell ya something, splenda does not grow from the ground like sugar cane. This type of yogurt may be an okay choice for someone with diabetes that has very high blood sugar, but I definitely do not recommend this for someone who is just trying to eat healthy or shed some pounds.  Additionally, there is some research suggesting that artificial sweeteners increase your appetite and may disrupt metabolism causing glucose intolerance (precursor to diabetes). This research is not conclusive, but it makes me think twice before I reach for the “light.”yogurt

The  Bottomline: A better choice would be adding fresh fruit and cinnamon to plain Greek Yogurt for natural sweetness.

2. Avocado. Avocados are without a doubt a healthy, nutrient dense food. They are a great source of monounsaturated fat, contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin E. The problem lies in the quantity we eat and what we eat them with. One medium avocado has approximately 300 calories- roughly the same amount of calories as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  That means if we eat the recommended serving of 1/4 of an avocado, you will be eating a nutrient packed 75 calories. Good Job! If you eat an entire avocado as a salad topping your salad just went from 300 calories to 600 calories, maybe not the best choice. Another offender- guacamole. We know avocados are healthy, so obviously guacamole is healthy. Logical, but not quite right. Guacamole is usually eaten with chips and may have high calorie foods added to it such as cheese or sour cream.avocados

The bottom line: Avocados are healthy but stick to 1/2 to 1/4 serving size. Eat guacamole with veggie stick instead of chips!

3. Nuts. Similar to avocados, nuts are a nutrient dense food, but they can be easily over eaten. A single serving of nuts is only 1/4 of a cup, approximately 23 almonds, 40 peanuts or pistachios, and 14 walnut halves.almonds

The bottom line: When eating nuts measure out one serving (1 ounce or 1/4 cup) and then put the bag away, avoid eating directly from the bag.

4. Fresh squeezed juice. Juicing is all the rage these days. Juicing is great if you hate vegetables and it is the only way that you can get them in your diet.  The better option would be just eating fruits and veggies, in order to retain maximum nutrients. When you juice, much of the healthy fiber is left behind in the pulp. If you are making green juice aim for 2 parts vegetables and 1 part fruit.  A lot of research shows that food consumed in the liquid form is not as filling and satisfying as when it is consumed whole.fresh juice

The bottom line: Go for the orange not the orange juice!

5. Coffee.  There is actually an abundance of evidence which demonstrates coffee can be beneficial in preventing chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s not so much the actual coffee that is sabotaging our diets, but rather the coffee add ins and “coffee like” drinks. Lattes and frappucinos can contain upwards of 300 calories. Black coffee is the best choice.  If using cream and sugar stick with 1 teaspoon sugar (1 packet) and 1 tablespoon of creamer.latte

The bottom line: Go for black coffee or minimally sweetened drinks

These are my top five not-so-healthy foods. What foods would you add to this list?

 

Workout Wednesday: Exercise with Your Baby Part 2

Hi All,

Due to the smashing success of workout with your baby part 1, we decided to do a part 2. Enjoy!

Featured Exercises

Plie squats (3 sets of 15, use a 10-20 lb dumbbell if you don’t have a baby) Muscles worked: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves

Modified dead lift (3 sets of 10, use a heavy barbell if you don’t have a baby) Muscles worked: glutes, abdominals, lower back

Military press (3 sets of 10, use 7-15 lb dumbbells if you don’t have a baby) Muscles worked: deltoids, triceps, core muscles

Try them out with or without a baby!

Healthy Holiday Desserts: Mini Apple Tarts

You can call these apple tarts, or you can call them little bites of heaven. Your choice. These mini tarts are the perfect dessert to bring to a party because they give you the freedom to try more than one dessert. And who can limit themselves to just one? Not me! I see three different pies and I want three slices of pie! You can try to cut a small sliver of pie, but it’s not easy. And it will most likely result in a crumble storm.

apples
dice your apples nice and small

P1170179

The shortbread crust is probably the best part of this tart. I may have sampled a few before I even added the apple topping. It’s rich and buttery, just like any shortbread should be, made even better with the addition of pecans.  This recipe is originally from Cooking Light. 

P1170215

mini apple tart
Top with fresh pomegranate seeds for a burst of color!
P1170231
Mint also provides a nice pop of color

mini apple tart

Mini Spiced Apple Tarts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24 mini tarts
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • ⅓ C sugar
  • ¼ C butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 C flour
  • ⅓ C chopped toasted pecans
  • Baking spray with flour
  • Filling:
  • 2 C diced and peeled Granny Smith apples
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ¼ C creme fraiche or whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. To prepare crust place first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add flour and nuts to butter mixture. Beat until just combined. Divide dough evenly among 24 mini muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Press dough into bottom and up sides of muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
  3. To prepare filling, combine apple and juice in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and the next 4 ingredients, toss well.
  4. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add apple mixture. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Stir into apple mixture; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens; stirring constantly. Place apple mixture in a bowl and cool to room temperature. Spoon 2 tsp apple mixture into each tart shell. Top each tart with creme fraiche or whipped cream.
 

 

 

 

Award Winning Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

vegan sweet potato soupThanksgiving has passed, the glory days of sweet potatoes are over until next November. That is, unless you try this amazing sweet potato soup. This soup is creamy, naturally sweet, and it has a little fiery kick from cayenne pepper. I had a non vegan version of this soup at a “Friendsgiving” party and thought that it was really amazing. With only two non vegan ingredients I figured it could easily be vegan-ized for all to enjoy! You may ask yourself, why do I care if its vegan? Aside from the usual reasons, like not wanting to eat animals, there have been a few recent articles about how the meat and dairy industry is a much bigger contributor to climate change than we realize. So if you don’t mind eating animals, try some vegan recipes to be more kind to our planet.P1170375

As a foodie first, and dietitian second, I definitely believe in eating food because it tastes good, not solely because of it’s health benefits. This is why you will not find me chugging green smoothies or downing tasteless protein bars. This soup gets me really excited because it is winning in both categories. Not only is it vegan, but its packed with calcium, healthy fats and vitamin A. Not to mention pepita seeds are the perfect vegetarian food! They are a great source of iron, magnesium, and protein! No need to go light on those soup toppings!

Update: I entered this soup into a recipe contest and it won! $100 Williams Sonoma gift card is coming my way! Thank you Cardiometabolic Risk Summit! 

vegan sweet potato soup

clearly, I'm a sucker for the pour shot
clearly, I’m a sucker for the pour shot
Vegan Sweet Potato Soup
Sprinkle on those pepitas! Do you like my nails?

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stocks celery, diced
  • carrots, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 TBSP vegetable or coconut oil
  • 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth plus 1 C water
  • 1 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 C lite or regular coconut milk
  • Pepita seeds for topping (pumpkin seeds, optional)

Directions

Make mirepoix by dicing first three vegetables.

Add oil to large soup pot. Add veggies when the oil is hot. Simmer on low while peeling and chopping sweet potato.

Add chopped sweet potato and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne pepper). Add vegetable broth and water, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Check potatoes with a fork, if soft blend soup with an immersion blender or pour into regular blender. Add almond and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Serve hot topped with pepita seeds and coconut milk.

Let me know if you try this recipe at home! I promise, you will not be disappointed!