Potato Leek Quiche

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There is something about quiche that just screams Mother’s Day Brunch. Am I right? This Mother’s Day say, “I Love You, Mom” with Potato Leek Quiche.

This quiche is veggie packed, meatless, and loaded with savory goodness.  If your mom is the carnivorous type, feel free to throw in some diced ham or bacon. Or go halfsies and only put the meat on one side (this is what we often do in my house). Originally I planned to make this quiche with cottage cheese, which granted, seems a little weird, but all the healthy kids are doing it. Like this asparagus and leek quiche or this green chile and zucchini quiche with cottage cheese. After mixing all of the ingredients together, I found that the quiche filling was pretty much maxed out already, so I decided to forego the white lumpy stuff this time.

Quiche
The quiche, pre-bake

Traditionally, quiche is made with eggs, half n half, and some type of meat. I’m good with the eggs, but the other foods have just a little too much artery-clogging action going on. So I switched out the half-n-half for non-fat milk (you can also use 1% or 2%) and threw in some veggies instead of meat. Shallots and leeks are my favorite veggies from the onion family and they don’t even make you cry like regular onions, bonus! While potatoes are certainly not kale in terms of nutrient value, they are a great source of potassium. Did you know that one white potato has more potassium than a banana?

quiche

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Potato Leek Quiche
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green part only)
  • 1 small cooked russet potato, pealed, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced, seeded if prefer more mild flavor
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups grated cheese (gruyere, pepperjack, or cheddar)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Press the crust into a 9 inch pie pan and pierce the bottom with holes with a fork.
  2. Bake crust for 7 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to 350 on oven.
  4. Boil potato or cook in microwave for 10 minutes, until soft enough to be pierced by a fork. Dice leeks and shallots.
  5. Add oil to skilled over medium heat. When oil is hot add shallots, leeks, and pepper to pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in diced potatoes and cook one more minute.
  6. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  7. In a large bowl beat the eggs until fluffy.
  8. Add grated cheese, veggies, and flour mixture to eggs. Stir to combine.
  9. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake the quiche for 40-45 minutes.
 

Homemade Protein Bars

Homemade Protein Bars www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Protein bars are in, but processed foods are out. What is the health-conscious protein lover to do? Make your own bar of course!

The majority of the protein bars on the market either have extremely long ingredients lists, use artificial sweeteners or stevia (I’m looking at you Quest Bar) or taste like non-food processed crap. This is a whole foods bar with plant protein, omega-3’s and minimal added sugar. What could be better?

Homemade Protein Bars

Of course, there is one advantage the store bought bar will always have over homemade. Convenience. No mixing, no baking. For me, the 20 or so minutes it takes to make these bars is totally worth it. You only have to make them once and then get to enjoy wonderfully delicious bars all week long! These bars are sweet, salty and just a little bit tart. They make for the perfect post-workout snack, breakfast, or even a healthy dessert!

In order to simplify the ingredients I originally tried making these bars with maple syrup instead of brown rice syrup. Nope, big time FAIL. Even after hours of freezing the bars just don’t stick together. You end up with a sticky nut mixture, that is tasty, but definitely not a “bar.” Do yourself a favor and go buy some brown rice syrup at Lassen’s or Whole Foods.

Protein Bars
Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper, otherwise they will stick.

If you are wondering why I call these protein bars but don’t actually add any protein powder I would like to direct you to this recent study which found a strong association between protein supplement use (in the form of pills and powders) and testicular cancer. Totally legitimate study (British Journal of Cancer) with alarming results. I have officially changed my stance on protein powder from being generally unimpressed to really strongly recommending that you don’t use it.

Save your balls, make these bars instead.Homemade Protein Bars

Homemade Protein Bars

This recipe was adapted from Tart Cherry Dark Chocolate Cashew Granola Bars.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fruit and Nut Protein Bars
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups lightly salted mixed nuts, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ⅓ cup Grapenuts Cereal
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl
  4. In small bowl, stir together syrup and almond butter until combined. Pour into nut mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Transfer bar mixture to prepared baking dish.
  6. Using an extra sheet of parchment paper, press down firmly on the mixture to form it to the pan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes; allow bars to cool completely in pan. Place in fridge or freezer for faster cooling.
  8. Remove parchment paper with cooled bars from the pan and using a serrated knife, slice into 10 even bars. Remove parchment paper from bottom of each bar.
  9. Wrap each bar with plastic wrap to store for a snack. Store bars at room temperature for up to 1 week and up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Notes
You can use peanut butter instead of almond butter if you prefer.
 

 

Gluten Free: Dietary Disaster or Delight?

Gluten Free: Dietary Disaster or Delight? www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Have you ever thought about following a gluten free diet? Perhaps your friend recommended it, or you heard the latest celebrity on T.V. touting its benefits. With popular books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly on the market it’s easy to see why you would want to give it a try. The gluten free market is larger than ever and there are no signs of it slowing down. Is this diet trend just a fleeting fad or does it really help us beat belly bloat and weight gain, cure brain fog, and live healthier?

Let’s start with the basics. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten helps make dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture. Although gluten itself is a protein, it is found in foods which are primarily carbohydrates; like bread, pasta, cereal, and many desserts. Soy sauce, salad dressings, chips, and candies may also contain gluten. Starchy foods like rice, potatoes, oatmeal, and corn do not contain gluten.

For a small group of people who have Celiac Disease it is necessary to avoid gluten. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten damages the small intestine. Celiac Disease is more prevalent in people with Type 1 Diabetes than in the general population.

Many people believe following a gluten free diet will help them lose weight, feel better, and control their blood sugar, although the research demonstrates that this is not true.  In fact, in many cases the exact opposite is true. Following a gluten free diet may actually lead to weight gain or nutrient deficiencies. Below are five reasons not to go gluten free.

1. More sugar and sodium. Gluten free foods are often higher in sugar and sodium than their gluten-containing counterparts. For example, 1 slice of Natures Harvest whole wheat bread has 140 milligrams of sodium, while 1 slice of Schar gluten free bread has nearly double the sodium at 250 milligrams. Gluten free bakery items like muffins and bagels also tend to be higher in sugar to make up for the lack of flavor and texture that the gluten provides.
2. Less fiber. Whole wheat grains are one of the best sources of fiber in our diet. When alternative flours are used like corn or rice flour you are left with much less fiber. For example, gluten free Rice Chex has 1 gram of fiber, while Wheat Chex has 6 grams of fiber. Fiber is important to help slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream and it can help reduce cholesterol.
3. Expensive. Gluten free specialty foods will definitely cost you a pretty penny. Many products are twice as expensive as the original and often times don’t taste as good.
4. Arsenic. Both brown and white rice contain small, but measurable levels of arsenic. If you are following a strict gluten free diet you may be relying heavily on rice and rice products, therefore increasing your exposure to arsenic. Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer, as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Arsenic exposure can be especially risky for young children, due to their small body size.
5. No Fortification. Wheat bread is fortified with folic acid and iron. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in newborns. Many gluten free products are not fortified with these important nutrients.

While it is important for those with Celiac Disease to avoid gluten, it is clear that gluten free is not a synonym for “Healthy” or “Low Carb.” According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics there is no experimental data to support the health claims of following a gluten free diet for the general population. Gluten free foods are not more nutritious or lower in calories than their counterparts. If you still have your heart set on eating gluten free the best thing to do is eat whole foods which naturally do not contain gluten; like fruits, vegetables, meat, and certain grains like quinoa and corn.

This article was originally published in Low Sugar Living Spring 2015 edition.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Tomatillo Salsa

Gourmet Grilled Cheese www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! (Seriously, who makes up these days?) Can you think of a better way to celebrate than to chow down on a nice warm gooey grilled cheese with fresh tomatillo salsa? Nope? Me neither!

The standard grilled cheese is always a hit. Sliced bread, American cheese, a smear of butter. Makes for a quick and tasty meal (although not terribly healthy). However, if you want to really elevate your grilled cheese to drool-worthy status there are a few key factors you need to consider:

gourmet grilled cheese

1. The bread. Find yourself some thick, crusty, straight from the bakery bread. Slice it yourself. Normally, I’m all about whole wheat, but for grilled cheese, sourdough reigns supreme.

2. The cheese. Please don’t use Kraft Singles. Splurge on the high quality cheese in the deli section. It’s worth it. Cheddar is always a good choice, but if you want to get fancy, try some gruyère, fontina, or pepperjack!

3. The toppings. This is the game changer flavor wise. Also the time to add in some healthy nutrients! I always try to squeeze in at least one veggie to my grilled cheese. Thinly sliced tomatoes, spinach, arugala, red peppers, or chiles all make great additions. You can even go crazy and add fruit! Ever tried a pear and brie grilled cheese? It may sound strange, but it’s actually delicious!

Tomatillos were my veggie topping of choice for this sandwich. Tomatillos are small green tomatoes, very popular in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are usually eaten cooked in sauces, as opposed to fresh like red tomatoes. They come in little husks which needs to be peeled off. The tomatillo salsa compliments the pepperjack cheese perfectly in this sandwich and adds another dimension of flavor. The salsa recipe is from Epicurious.

Tomatillos

A note on nutrition. If you are trying to be calorie conscious you can still eat grilled cheese. However, you probably shouldn’t be ordering them at a restaurant (think loads of butter and cheese). For a lighter grilled cheese, use one ounce of cheese (one square slice or 1/4 cup shredded) and only butter one side of the bread. For melting purposes, you still want to heat both sides of the bread.

What is your favorite type of grilled cheese? Do you have any fun flavor combos to try or do you prefer the classic?

Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with tomatillo salsa www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Tomatillo Salsa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Grilled Cheese
  • Thick Sourdough bread
  • 1 ounce pepperjack cheese
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 TBSP tomatillo salsa
  • 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
  • butter for grilling (use sparingly)
Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  • ½ large white onion, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Instructions
Salsa
  1. Coarsely purée tomatillos, chile, onion, garlic, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender.
  2. Transfer to a large heavy skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then stir in cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.
Grilled Cheese
  1. To assemble grilled cheese. Butter bread. Grill on each side.
  2. Add salsa, cheese, and avocado to one slice. Cover with hot slice of bread.
  3. Grill for one minute on medium heat.
  4. Flip over and grill for one more minute until cheese is fully melted.
Notes
There will be extra salsa. Use on tacos or eat with chips.
 

Do You Make These 5 Dieting Mistakes?

Do you make these 5 diet mistakes www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com
Photo credit Alice Henneman

Whether your goal is weight loss, weight maintenance or preventing disease, you may fall victim to one of these common dieting mistakes.

1. You eat (too) perfect before 6 PM. You had your protein shake at breakfast and your green salad for lunch. Now it’s dinner time, you’re starving, and you want to eat everything in sight. Of course you are starving, the day is almost over and you have only consumed 500 calories. Ideally, you want to spread out your calories evenly throughout the day. People that eat lightly during the day tend to go crazy in the evening. Aim for balance in your meals. A healthy breakfast and lunch should include foods from at least 3 different food groups. Instead of just oatmeal (1 food group) try oatmeal with berries, walnuts, and milk (4 food groups – much more balanced). Some research even suggests that making lunch the largest meal of the day, instead of dinner, may aid weight loss.

2. The “organic” halo. If something is labeled organic it is automatically good for you, right Food Babe? Wrong. Organic packaged snack foods might be better for the environment, but in most cases they are not better for your waistline.  Did you know that organic Oreos were a real thing? Due to the low demand, they didn’t last very long. If you prefer to buy organic food you definitely should, but don’t blindly consume large amounts of cookies or other “snacks” just because they are organic.

organi oreos, dieting mistakes

3. Not eating enough fruits and veggies. Diet fads come and go, but one recommendation that is here to stay is fruits and vegetables. They offer fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals which can not be replaced with a vitamin, supplement or veggie powder. You can call powders “whole foods” but they are not the same thing as eating fruits or vegetables. What happens if you take a carrot and blend it. Does it turn into powder? Nope. To find out how many fruits and veggies you should be eating check out this CDC calculator.

4. Taking the weekends off. You should take the weekends off from your job, not your diet. Sure you can still have fun and go out to eat on the weekends. But make an effort to not stuff yourself to the brim (with food or drinks). Simply eating mindfully when you are enjoying good food can be enough to not wreck your hard work during the week. If the weekends are a problem for you, consider weighing yourself Friday mornings and Monday mornings. If you see that number routinely creeping up on Monday try changing your weekend routine to include more exercise and healthier food choices. A great resource for finding healthy restaurant food is Healthy Dining Finder.

5. Fearing fat. Eating a lot of fat doesn’t make us fat. Eating too many calories does – whether it comes from protein, carbohydrates or fat. Fat has a satiating effect that carbohydrates don’t provide, therefore eating a small amount of fat with most meals is a good idea. Fat also helps us absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Many times fat-free or reduced fat products will have added sugar, sodium or thickening agents to try and replace what is lost when the fat is removed. If the calories are significantly reduced and you genuinely enjoy the taste of the product, the reduced fat version might be a good choice. If the calories are similar and the ingredient list is much longer, just go for the original full-fat version.

Have you fallen for any of these dieting mistakes?

Spring Favorites: Pin It Party!

pin-it-party-e1390186029146Today I’m participating in a Pin It Party hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. A Pin It Party is when a bunch of bloggers get together and share each other’s work via Pinterest. If you are a blogger feel free to join the link up. If you are a reader, help a sister out and pin anything that sparks your interest!

Are you following me on pinterest? If not, click here! Here are some of my fave recipes and articles for you to share!

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake MuffinsWhole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins. I bet you will never guess what the secret ingredient is. Perfect for Easter brunch! Green Chile Corn Casserole www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Green Chile Corn Casserole. A Thanksgiving classic around our house. This year, I think I will make it for Easter too! The Ultimate Guide to <a href=#Nuts www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com” width=”3317″ height=”2213″ />

The Ultimate Guide to Nuts! Ever wondered how many nuts per serving? Which nut is best for weight loss, which nut is best for your heart? All of your burning nut questions answered in one place! Caution: This Food is Natural www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Caution: This Food is Natural. I have a real issue with food companies deceptive packaging. Especially when they are marketing towards children! Top 5 Healthy Foods Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Top 5 Healthy Foods Sabotaging Your Weight loss. Did you fall for any of these seemingly healthy, “diet foods?”

Those are my top 5. Pin away! Be sure to visit the other bloggers fabulous sites as well! I have already discovered some awesome new blogs through the link up!