Tagged dinner

RECIPE: Cilantro Lime Rice & Beans (better than Chipotle!) – Easy, Plant-based dish!

Everyone loves Chipotle (right?) and their simple yet delicious spread of Tex-Mex goodness.

But… let’s be honest. Cost-wise, they make a killing charging what they do for some of the most affordable types of food around. Namely, rice ‘n beans (or arroz y frijoles).

Even if you do skimp on the guac (which, if so, who ARE you?) eating at places like Chipotle often can definitely put a dent in your finances.

So, allow me to bring to you my HOMEMADE CILANTRO LIME RICE & BEANS (that are better than Chipotle).

I love me some rice ‘n beans, as do most people I know. Especially while traveling through Latin America, where gallos pinto – the traditional rice ‘n beans dish – is typically served with breakfast.. AND lunch.. AND dinner at times… I grew to love them even more rather than get tired of them.

I love this dish so much that there are at least 5 different, flavorful rice ‘n beans recipes I plan to share here on the blog (as well as helpful tips and advice for anyone who plans on traveling or living in places like Costa Rica).

It all starts with the two [obvious] key ingredients…

Arroz.

Y frijoles.

Now, if you don’t have the kitchen blessing that is a rice cooker, you’re still good to go. You can use a saucepan on the stove top. Yes, this may be the easiest, better-tasting, restaurant-replica recipe you have ever made.

What kind of rice do you need? Whatever you have on hand. I had a blend of brown and white.

What kind of beans? Well, for this recipe, classic black beans. And yes, canned is just fine (though I’d recommend low or no-salt added to have better control of the sodium in your recipe).

Grab a handful of other ingredients – like fresh cilantro, onion, extra virgin olive oil, and lime – and you’re basically good to go.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm yas.

The bigger plus? This recipe makes at least 6-12 Chipotle portions if you get their rice bowl… and it costs less than one or two orders.

By the way, you can find an amazing tex-mex bowl recipe (along with tons of helpful info) in one of my best-selling books, the grocery store tour guide, which is also available as an ebook!

Without further ado – here it is! Try it out, share, and let me know what you think :)


CILANTRO LIME RICE & BEANS (makes around 6 cooked cups)

  • 2 cups brown and/or white rice (before cooking) *cook according to packaging or using leftover rice is fine!
  • Half a large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 (~8 oz.) can of Black Beans (preferably organic and low or no sodium to better control salt content), drained and rinsed
  • 1 small bushel of fresh cilantro, leaves picked and chopped (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  • The juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt (or more, to taste preference)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or according to taste)

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package or use leftover rice. Two uncooked cups yields 4.5 to 6 cooked cups.
  2. In a fairly large saute pan heated at medium to high, saute onions in olive oil until fragrant and softened (about 2-3 minutes). Add rice and stir, letting cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add black beans, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to all incorporate. Lower heat to higher “low” spectrum, cover the pan, and let flavors marry for 3-4 minutes. You can also add 1/4 cup or so of water before covering, especially if the rice was leftover. This will add more moisture while cooking.
  4. Uncover and remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and cilantro, then taste and add more salt if necessary. Stir again and then ENJOY! :)

Healing Magic Panda Soup – Delicious & Satisfying Hug in a Bowl (RECIPE)

*This recipe is featured as a BONUS RECIPE in The Grocery Store Tour Guide & Nutritional Workbook, available HERE

Are you a soup person? Me neither. Or, at least I wasn’t before coming up with this amazingly magical and ridiculously simple recipe this a few winter ago.

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There is something so wonderful, comforting, filling, and peaceful about this soup. It is the perfect amount of sweet and savory, not too broth-y with a touch of bite, and completely enjoyable regardless to which diet or lifestyle you are following (unless you are allergic to any of the minimal ingredients, of course).

It proves to be the perfect side dish- complementing any salad, sandwich, main course, crusty bread, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It can even suffice as its own full-meal show. Additionally, it can act an amazing base recipe for whatever additions your heart desires; from greens to corn, veggies to grains, and meat to tofu.

Whether you are Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, counting points, raw ‘til 4, or have never particularly liked soup before, I am confident that you will love this Sweet Panda Soup as much my family, friends, and I do. Winter has long past as we now experience scorching summer days, yet this is still a staple in my kitchen for winding down in the evenings (and is surprisingly delicious cold, too)!

Not to mention, Healing Magic Panda Soup packs a punch in maintaining or improving your health by providing nutrient-rich hydration, anti-inflammatory compounds, natural fiber, and vitamin B-12. If you are hypoglycemic, it may even help to balance blood sugar levels.

Another bonus that others have found and that I can vouch for myself? It not only fills you up, but can also help keep any late-night cravings at bay.

With no further ado, here is my recipe for Healing Magic Panda Soup.

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HEALING MAGIC PANDA SOUP

Single-Serving Ingredients *use organic, if possible

1 (medium to large) Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 ½ Cups (or about two-thirds of your favorite bowl-full) of Organic, Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock

A large pinch of Freshly Ground Sea Salt (I use Pink Himalayan)

A large pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Dried Thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh Thyme leaves, chopped)

¼ tsp. (or a modest sprinkle) All Spice

1 heaping tsp. sugar of choice (coconut, organic cane, honey) or 2 drops of liquid stevia

Optional, but recommended: 1 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast flakes

Optional: 1 tsp. Dried (or chopped fresh) Parsley

Directions (Photos Below CROCK-POT VERSION)

  • Preheat a medium to large pan on stove at medium-high.
  • Put in coconut oil, chopped onions, and salt. Cover and let cook, stirring around every 5 minutes or so, until onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize into a light brown (about 20 minutes).
  • Add in garlic and let saute with onions for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. *Always avoid burning or browning garlic, as it may cause bitterness in the dish.
  • Add in balsamic vinegar, pepper, thyme, all spice, sugar/stevia, and stock. Bring to a simmer before turning heat down to medium-low. Cover and let cook another 5-10 minutes until flavors marry.
  • Pour in your favorite bowl; sprinkle the top with Nutritional Yeast flakes and parsley… Enjoy!
CROCK-POT VERSION

Ingredients (makes 8-12 servings) *use organic, if possible

6-8 (medium to large) Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 ½ to 3 (32 oz) Cartons of Organic, Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock

3 good pinches of Freshly Ground Sea Salt

3 good pinches of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 heaping Tbsp. Dried Thyme

½ tsp. (or a good sprinkle) All Spice

1 Tbsp. sugar of choice (coconut, organic cane, honey) or 4 drops of liquid stevia

1 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast flakes (per bowl)

1 tsp. Dried (or chopped fresh) Parsley (per bowl)

Directions

  • Set Crock-Pot to HIGH and drizzle half of your coconut oil at the bottom.
  • Put in half the onions and sprinkle salt. Drizzle the rest of your coconut oil and put in the remaining onions, garlic, thyme, pepper, all spice, and salt. Stir around and cover.
  • Let onions cook and caramelize until they begin to sweat and turn a light brown (about 5-6 hours), opening to stir around once or twice in that time.
  • Add in stock, balsamic vinegar, and sugar/stevia. Stir well and cover again. Let cook for another 1-2 hours (up to 4) before serving it up in your favorite bowl with Nutritional Yeast flakes and a bit of parsley. Enjoy!

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Oh, and don’t worry. No pandas were harmed in the making of this glorious dish. I just happen to love pandas, and it only seemed fit that this amazing soup be named after something I adore just as much!

Sautéed Cabbage & Carrots: my UNIVERSAL side dish! (RECIPE)

This dish has been a legit staple in my household for a long time now and, even still, I find myself craving it almost daily.

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I even included this as a bonus recipe in my latest book, The Grocery Store Tour Guide & Nutritional Workbook (which will be available in just one week… and I am super excited about sharing with you all)!

Before I get into this insanely easy and flavorful recipe, here’s a little bit more about the 70-page Grocery Store Tour Guide & Nutritional Workbook. This beautifully designed, visual book contains a plethora of useful information, including:

  • Shopping preparation tips
  • Explanations about supermarket psychology
  • How to identify and define misleading label claims
  • Tidbits about nutritional lingo and regulated terms, such as GMO, Certified Organic, Gluten Free, etc.
  • Food storage and safety tips
  • A thorough seasonal produce chart
  • Aisle-by-aisle tips to navigate the supermarket like a health-conscious pro
  • A list of ingredients to avoid
  • My personal kitchen essentials
  • Easy Meal and snack recipes
  • A post-tour quiz (if you are a trainer or nutrition coach, this e-book is great to use with clients!)
  • Much, much more…

Plus, unlike my print-only book – The Holistic Fitness Starter Guide – which will be available at the end of the month, I decided to publish The Grocery Store Tour Guide in print and as a quickly accessible e-book. This means that as soon as you buy it here, you will be able to download it to your PC, laptop, or tablet immediately and begin reading while you wait for the printed copy to arrive!

How cool is that?!

Now, as exciting as this new book is, back to the deliciousness that is My Universal Side Dish. First of all, it’s crazy simple to make since we are using pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. The only chopping involves the fresh herbs, ginger, and garlic (unless you have minced ginger and garlic in jars, in which case, this may be the easiest recipe ever).

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This is also so incredibly flavorful thanks to the fresh Rosemary and Thyme. Sometimes, I’ll add in fresh basil or sage and it becomes a bigger explosion of flavor in your mouth.

As I mention in The Grocery Store Tour Guide & Nutritional Workbook, this side dish goes well with nearly everything. On salads, sandwiches, in wraps, or by itself. It’s fast to whip up and perfect to keep ready-handed in the fridge. One of my favorite ways is wrapped up in rice paper wraps with some thin rice noodles.

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Give this recipe a try. I promise you will be happy you did!


 

MY UNIVERSAL SIDE DISH: SAUTéED CABBAGE AND CARROTS

Ingredients:

2 (10-16 oz.) bags of Shredded Cabbage

½ of one (10-12 oz.) bag of Shredded Carrots

1 Tbsp. fresh Rosemary (leaves from about three 4” sprigs), chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh Thyme (leaves from about 5 4” sprigs), chopped

1-2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Directions (photos below):

  • Heat a large sauté pan or wok on the stove at medium to medium-high heat and place coconut oil in the pan.
  • Once the coconut oil is melted, add ½ bag of carrots and two bags of cabbage. Sprinkle minced ginger on top and season the surface with salt and pepper. Cover to let cook down about 5-7 minutes. (The pan may seem really full, but the veggies cook down quite a bit.)
  • Remove lid and toss the cabbage and carrots to encourage even wilting/cooking. Cover and let continue softening for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove lid and add rosemary, thyme, and minced garlic. Toss well until all the herbs are well incorporated into the mix. (If the veggies seem to be browning from the bottom of the pan, lower the heat a little bit.)
  • Continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until veggies are softened and cooked down to a little less than half of the original volume. Add more salt to taste, if needed.

Enjoy in any which way!

 

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Classic Sweet Potato Casserole with a twist (RECIPE) – Dairy free, Vegan, Delicious!

Did you know that the delicious and sugary Thanksgiving dish we know and love – the sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top – was created by the marshmallow lobby in the early 1900’s? (You can learn a little more here.)

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I know, that may slightly tear away some magic from this classic dish. But the fact is, so many popularized, American foods that aren’t actually nutritious or beneficial – such as marshmallows – have simply become what they are due to smart advertising. Instead of getting too into the psychology and economics involved in the food industry (and further crapping on anyone’s marshmallow-loving parade), let’s just learn a little bit about marshmallows and where they came from.

Originating in ancient Egypt, marshmallows were a honey-sweetened candy made using the sap from the marshmallow root plant. It was soft and chewy, and used medicinally for ailments like sore throats.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the 19th century, and the labor-intensive methods of extracting marshmallow root sap made manufacturers come up with new processes (and involve new ingredients) which brought us to how we know the marshmallow today – as a light, fluffy, campfire treat which also tops the holiday sweet potato casserole.

Today’s version of the confection no longer contains the source ingredient of it’s name – marshmallow root – but instead, it is made up of a stabilizing protein such as gelatin (or agar, in Vegan versions) and sucrose (often with high fructose corn syrup).

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That said, there is nothing wrong with incorporating the better quality versions of marshmallows when making this crowd-pleasing dish once or twice a year. I use Dandies mini marshmallows, which contain no corn syrup, no gelatin, and no genetically modified ingredients. And, yes, they taste EXACTLY like your classic, name brand marshmallows – if not better.

As for the secret ingredient that gives this casserole a twist? Well, that would be mango juice of course.

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Most “classic” recipes call for heavy cream, which is meant to contribute creamy richness. It doesn’t really alter the flavor, but it does bring in a LOT of unnecessary fat and calories. You won’t find heavy cream or ANY dairy within this recipe, which has been a hit at many-a-holiday-dinner time and time again.

A Helpful Hint: If you choose go to back to your traditional sweet potato casserole recipe after trying this one (dare I say, doubtful?) try substituting canned coconut milk for your heavy cream. Though it will not lessen the overall calories or fat content, it will maintain the same creamy consistency and add a complimentary touch of flavor. All while being more plant-based friendly and allergen free.

If you just want to make a great sweet potato mash, you can stop before step 4 below and enjoy as is. It is just as delicious (and plenty sweet) without the marshmallow topping!

Sometimes the deliciousness can't wait for a photo opp, as shown here.
Sometimes the deliciousness can’t wait for a photo opp, as proven by the devoured portion above.

CLASSIC SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE RECIPE (with a twist)

  • 3 lbs Sweet Potatoes (about 4 large or 5 medium spuds)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mango juice/nectar *I’m sure pineapple or orange juice would work, too… but try to find mango!
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
  • Half a bag (5 oz.) of quality marshmallows *I use homemade, locally made, or Dandies mini-marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes in the sink and pat dry. Pierce the tops of the potatoes with a fork, 2-3 times, before placing (holes up) on the baking sheet. Put in the oven for about 45-55 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender and syrup begins to ooze out from the holes. Remove from oven and let cool until they aren’t too hot to be handled (usually 15-20 minutes).
  3. Lower the oven to 375 degrees F. Grab your 8×8 glass baking dish (metal is fine too, I’m sure – and 9×9 would also work). Peel the potatoes, putting the yummy orange flesh straight into the baking dish. Mash well with a potato masher or large fork. Add the vanilla extract, mango juice, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Mash and mix together until all incorporated.
  4. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to even out top of the mash. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly all over the surface. Then do the same with the marshmallows.
  5. Place on center rack in oven and bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until marshmallows begin to turn golden brown. Remove, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

*You can also make the dish ahead of time. Simply cover the mash in the baking dish after step 3 and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove from fridge for about 20 minutes to take the chill off and preheat the oven. Then add pecans and marshmallows, and bake as instructed above!

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Impromptu dinner paparazzi – starring the BEST sweet potato casserole!

Kale & Quinoa Bowl: Easiest, Filling, Nutritious Go-To Meal (RECIPE)

I introduce you to my latest obsession:

 

Nom nom nom....

 

 

You can’t really tell by the picture, but that bowl is HUGE and it’s holding 1 cup of cooked quinoa and 100g of chopped kale… along with an insanely delicious dressing that I will share below. This simple whole food duo is the perfect, delicious, filling, hearty base for so many different things – the list is nearly endless.

You can go savory, sweet, or spicy; you can add everything from more vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, or pumpkin – to fruits like chopped dates, figs, berries, or apples.

Another super bonus? If you’ve put yourself into a nutritional category box – I bet this fits into it. It’s all the “free’s” (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nearly fat-free, egg-free) and all the “friendly’s” (Paleo-friendly, Vegetarian–friendly, Vegan-friendly, Carb-friendly, Allergen-friendly).

And when it comes to macro-nutrient ratios, this particular serving size has:

272 Calories

11g Protein

39g Carbs

5g Fat

7g Fiber

56g Sodium

Adding even more benefit? Both of these foods are incredibly nutrient dense in not only the macros above, but the micros such as: tons of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals ranging from B-vitamins to Vitamin E and zinc, body-loving fibers, and more.

Basically, quinoa and kale are soul mates in my book.

Like I said, there are ENDLESS directions this two-ingredient base can go; but let’s start with one of my favorites these days…

Creamy Southwest Spice Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • .5 to 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 heaping tsp Tahini (sesame seed butter, in Middle Eastern section of most markets)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp Mrs Dash salt-free Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt (I just fresh grind in to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Scant Tbsp Garlic Powder OR 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder OR 2 Tbsp minced red onion
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste… I like quite a bit)
  • Half a dropper of liquid Stevia, OR 1/2 Tbsp honey, OR 1 Tbsp Stevia in the Raw

Directions: Put it all in a bowl, whisk together, and toss with quinoa and kale…. That’s it. (Hint: make ahead of time by at least 30 minutes to let the flavors all soak up and merry. Nom!)

I always have a few cups of cooked quinoa in the fridge that I prepare in bulk in my rice cooker, one or two days a week. As for the kale, get 2-3 BIG handfuls, remove any stems (they tend to be a bit bitter sometimes), and chop up well before tossing.

Coming soon:

The True Health Trifecta Nutrition & Recipe Book:

Simple Salads, Soups, Sauces, & Dressings Edition!

This is turning out to be the perfect collection for everyone; from those beginning their health and fitness journey, to those well on their way and looking for new, EASY, healthy go-to meal ideas!

It will include TONS of crazy-easy yet healthy recipes like the one above; plus photos, nutritional facts & tips, kitchen & pantry basics and recommendations, my Macro-Nutrient Cheat Sheet, Pre- and Post- workout meal ideas, Soups, Salads, Dressings, and more!

Not to mention, unless you are allergic to a specific food, this book is EVERY-diet friendly! So whether you have put yourself in the Paleo box, Vegan category, High-carb-low-fat, Low-carb, Gluten-free, 80/10/10, intermittent fasting, carb-cycling… I purposefully made this a compilation of nutritious options that can be enjoyed by the majority of dietary lifestyles out there!

And, I know most people don’t have the time or interest to become the next Iron Chef in the kitchen… especially with the hustle and bustle of every day life. That’s why I made sure the recipes and tips in this book aren’t incredibly elaborate or time consuming. These are some simple basics to help anyone successfully achieve their goals without spending hours preparing and while getting in nutrient-dense foods that taste flipping amazing.

Can you tell how mega excited I am to be putting this together for you guys?! :)

Make sure to sign up for the newsletter and like the True Health Trifecta Facebook page for word on when it is available for sale in the shop! :)

The Ultimate Chopped Spring Salad

This Healthy Recipe of the Month is probably my favorite go-to salad. It’s just perfect to fulfill a craving… it’s filling but still refreshing as a salad should be. I’m a huge texture person and my perfect meal usually has a mix of different bites; crunchy, soft, crispy, creamy, salty, and sweet. This salad definitely has all of that rolled into one. Not only that, but as you can see, it is ridiculously easy to put together AND can be served as a main dish or side salad to accompany a meal.

 

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Nom nom nom .........
Nom nom nom ………

 

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is an easily printable format that I provide for health clubs like Anytime Fitness in Ormond Beach and Anytime Fitness in Winter Park, both in Florida. If you would like to receive a Healthy Recipe of the Month for your fitness club or gym, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to add you to the list! :)

 

Question of the week:
What is the BEST salad, homemade or restaurant, that you’ve ever had?

 

Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Squash

I am so backed up on posting recipes on here that I will probably spend the next couple of weeks putting a new one up every other day! Okay, maybe not that much to bombard your updates… but at least a handful more before the year is over to play catch up a bit. :)

This one also got some awesome reviews from the members of Anytime Fitness. It’s super easy and SUPER yummy, and you can play around with ingredients (adding more veggies you like, including meat/cheese or not, all kinds of fun deliciousness) according to your personal specifications. Make sure to comment below with any fun alterations you try!

I kept this the same format as the last instead of typing it out on here, and will continue doing so due to the feedback about it being easy to print and share. Yay for my computer skills making you happy! :)

Mmm.. I love squash season...
Mmm.. I love squash season…

Some more recipes you have to look forward to (just off the top of my head, because there will be a LOT more) are: Oven-Roasted Veggies; Cinna-Beer Buns with Honey Beer Caramel & Chopped Pretzel Filling (the original, unhealthy version… consider it a Splurge-cipe!); my Go-To Dinner Salad (trust me, it’s absolutely mouth-watering); and tons of others I’ve gotten requests for.

If you want to be a little ahead of the game when it comes to food photos, recipes, fitness tips, free workouts, or other randomly entertaining things, add me on Instagram and Twitter.

Also don’t forget to like us on Facebook or subscribe for email updates to the left if you’d like to know whenever a new blog is posted! I am also planning some reaaally awesome give-aways for the beginning of the new year for Facebook friends so clickity click if you want to see what’s in store.

And, one last thing: Please, please, PLEASE share our Veteran’s Corner page with any and all military veterans you know! It is bound to be a GREAT venue for them, whether they are experienced writers or not, and we are very excited about making this something special! I have also decided to include veteran’s spouses, family members, or significant others as possible contributors. If this describes you, please go check out the submission page and I look forward to hearing from you soon!