The secret ingredient that makes everything better: Nut butter

Ah, the creamy (or crunchy) goodness they call nut butter. I may be a little bias, but I think nut butter was one of the best man-made foods to grace this Earth. In decadent desserts or in savory fare, nut butter has earned its place in my household as the ingredient that makes everything better.

What’s not to love? It’s sweet, rich, creamy and satisfying. As I sneakily hide in my pantry, devouring and savoring the last bite of nut butter, I’m reminded how comforting and nostalgic it makes me feel.  Then I had a revelation: why don’t I add nut butter to my everyday cooking? So, I did.

News flash: nut butter isn’t just for jelly sandwiches anymore. This nutty and buttery treat compliments cuisines by adding just the right amount of nuttiness. Get creative! Experiment with different types of nut butters like peanut, almond, pistachio and cashew. Own a food processor? Make your own! It’ll save you money and you’ll know exactly what is in it. No added sugar, salt or artificial fillers!

Stir Frys or satays:

A dollop of nut butter in steamy stir frys or satays goes a long way in making even the spiciest foods, delectably sweet and rich. When paired with ginger, sesame seeds and soy sauce, nut butter livens sautéed veggies and meat up.

Get the recipehttp://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/quick-peanut-chicken-stir-fry

Ice Cream:

What if I told you that you can make vegan ice cream with just two ingredients? It’s true! Grab some frozen bananas and a heaping helping of your choice of nut butter and blend away. Instant creamy and dreamy ice cream without the dairy (or guilt)!

Get the recipe: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/two-ingredient-banana-peanut-butter-ice-cream/

Cookies or bars:

Looking for an easy dessert that satisfies your cravings and takes only 10 minutes? Because of its sweet creamy goodness, nut butter is a perfect ingredient in desserts like cookies or bars. For a nuttier flavor, try adding crushed nuts as a topping. Give these 3-ingredient cookies a whirl!

Get the recipe: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-cookies/

Dips or frosting:

If you’re looking for a sweet garnish for your treats or something to dip your goodies in, nut butter-based dips are perfect. Filled with protein and good fat, nut butter is a healthy alternative to fat-laden dressing, dips and frostings.

Get the recipe: http://skinnyms.com/skinny-peanut-butter-yogurt-dip/

Eggs:

I know what you’re thinking. I was skeptical at first, but once I discovered this heavenly creation, my mouth waters just thinking about it. Something about salty, fluffy eggs and the creaminess of nut butter gets me going. It’s the new PB & J!

Get the recipe: http://blueisbleu.blogspot.com/2013/11/fried-eggs-and-peanut-butter.html

Smoothies:

I drink green smoothies every morning. Obviously I add my greens, fruit and almond milk, but I can’t forget a scoop (or two) of nut butter as well to get my fats and protein in. Nut butter coats your stomach so you stay fuller longer. It’s like Christmas morning in my mouth.

Get the recipehttp://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-peanut-butter-smoothie

For more nutty recipes, I suggest perusing through and/or purchasing a peanut butter cookbook. It’s the best investment I’ve made in a long time. Find some on Amazon

Enjoy, friends 🙂

-Kailee

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Skip the shake! The unhealthy truth

Today’s post is more of an informative rant, so I thought I’d share my two cents:

With summer right around the corner, you may have seen advertisements and/or heard talk of meal replacement shakes/meals to help you lose weight fast. The problem with these ‘magical’ powders, supplements and bars is that they are not natural, are expensive AND are not necessary to lose weight!

So, what’s actually in a meal replacement shake? And how do they work?

Companies like Slimfast, Herbalife, Isagenix, Shakeology, Body By Vi and Advocare claim their products are natural and a healthy substitute for food. But, a better look at the ingredients say otherwise.

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According to goodlivingwarehouse.com, many of these offenders include ingredients such as whey protein isolate (highly processed),  soy protein (derived from GMO soy), rGBH (growth hormone) and carreageenan (used on lab animals). There are also sneaky forms of refined sugar added in–that’s why they taste good! (or chalky my in opinion). With around 120 to 200 calories per shake, it just isn’t a healthy option for a true meal. By eating actual raw foods, you receive all the vitamins and nutrients you need. If a shake is the best option for you, the website suggests trying Raw Protein from Garden of Life. It is plant-based, non-GMO, dairy and gluten free with NO artificial ingredients!

Before you get defensive and claim your product is different than the rest (because, you know, science backs it up), let me tell you that I have indeed tried Herbalife. I drank shakes, took supplements and drank tea for 3 months because I wanted a quick fix. I saw the many impressive results online so I thought I’d give it a go. I followed the program and paid up the wazoo for a meal replacement shake that I substituted for two meals with actual nutritious foods. I lost a total of 18 pounds and was completely miserable. I was sluggish and was depressed that I couldn’t enjoy going out with my friends and family. Herbalife did its job of helping me lose weight, but at a price (pun intended). The reason I lost weight wasn’t because of the magic Herbalife shakes, no. It was the calorie deficit I was forcing my body into.

I did more research into MLM (multi-level marketing) scams like the companies listed above and felt duped. These “coaches” don’t have a degree or any experience in fitness, nutrition or organic, non-GMO living. They’re really only trained to sell these bogus products and claim they work wonders. They warn you to never stop using them because you’ll gain all the weight back, tricking people into buying more and more of these useless products. “It’s a lifestyle”, they claim. Well, I’m here to say it’s not. It’s a rip-off and you DO NOT need them to lose weight.

After slowing down my metabolism by eating less than 1200 calories a day drinking meal replacement shakes, I decided to just eat real food. Nothing in a canister, box, can or bag. Stuff from the ground–and organic stuff at that. I lost another 32 pounds and feel wonderful. Have not been lethargic, bloated, irritable, depressed or even sick since I started! Real food is the most powerful medicine on the planet. No powder, supplement or protein bar can give you all that naturally!

While I understand some people are ‘on-the-go’ kind of people and prefer a shake instead of a home cooked meal, and that’s fine! There are other options out there for much less! Make your own smoothie, juice or look at cleaner, healthier alternatives. Don’t be fooled by marketing! Yes, you will most likely lose weight, but it won’t be healthy and won’t last long term. I don’t know about you, but I simply couldn’t live off of chalky shakes for more than three months. I missed food too much!

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So, before handing off your credit card to some college-aged chum who claims they are a wellness coach, do your research! It’s quite simple: eat real food. Don’t fall for the unnatural, scientifically-engineered and non-FDA tested meal replacements. Save your money and head to your nearest co-op or farmer’s market! Stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and grass-fed meat. Your body will thank you in the long run.

/rant. 🙂

Substitutions…and even more recipes!

Hello readers!

I apologize I have neglected to post a new entry for quite some time. With the craziness of the holidays and summer time in general, I am now just finding the time to post.

I have a lot of readers/friends who are ultimately curious how to go about cooking their meals once they have gone shopping. You can buy all the organic, healthy and clean foods as possible, but since many don’t know how to cook them or what kinds of recipes you can make, those foods get pushed to the back of the fridge and spoil.

I’ve decided to make a list of the most popular substitutes in cooking your favorite meals as well as a list of more easy and clean recipes I have made for my family.

The staples ‘most’ people have in their houses include butter, table sugar, white flour and vegetable oil. Bad news, those items are detrimental to your health and slow weight loss. Good news, there is an alternative for every one of these (plus more). Not only are the foods we eat overly processed, but sometimes they’re more expensive than making them yourself! Whether you are concerned about what you’re putting in your body or need a replacement food because of an allergy (like gluten, eggs, soy or dairy), these foods will do the trick to satisfy a craving!

List of my top 20 food substitutions/alternatives:

1. Greek yogurt or avocado spread for butter/sour cream. (adds protein and good fatty omega-3 in your diet instead of processed hydrogenated fat)

2. Stevia or raw honey for table sugar. (We already get too much sugar in a day. Stevia is plant-based sugar replacement and equally sweet and natural!)

3. Rolled oats for breading or bread crumbs. (Add lots of beneficial fiber).

4. Honey or raw syrup for processed syrup. (Less sugar and mystery ingredients)

5. Brown rice or quinoa for white rice/pasta. (closer to rawest form and also has higher protein than processed ‘white’ foods)

6. Almond cheese for shredded cheese/sliced cheese. (Less dairy will be beneficial in the long run)

7. Soy or almond yogurt for high sugar flavored yogurts (always chose plain and add your own fruit or honey for flavoring)

8. Dried fruit for candy. (be sure there is no added sugar!)

9. Whole wheat flour/coconut flour for white flour. (Less white, happier life)

10. Coconut oil for vegetable oil. (Filled with good, beneficial fats)

11. Oven popped popcorn instead of microwave bagged popcorn. (No added salt and faux- butter flavoring)

12. Mug cake (use oats, fruit and egg in mug. Microwave for 1 minute) for cake or pastries.

13. Whole wheat English muffin for bagel. (Bagels are equivalent to 5 pieces of bread).

14. Sweet potatoes for potatoes/french fries. (Less starch and gives a healthy dose of beta-carotene)

15. Chicken/fish for beef/pork. (Although some lean cut grass-fed beef is not too bad on occasion).

16. Water or green tea for Gatorade, flavored waters or soda. (Empty calories add up and your body needs water to maintain its daily functions).

17. Mrs. Dash spices for table salt. (A couple dashes of standard table salt is actually the amount of salt we are supposed to have in one day. Mrs. Dash comes in all flavors and is MSG-free and made with herbs and spices instead of salt).

18. Homemade chips (flaxseed, tortilla, veggie) for potato chips. (Chips in bags are filled with fat, salt, sugar and artificial fillers. To satisfy the crunch without the guilt, make your own Kale, zucchini, or tortilla chips in the oven!)

19. Ranch packet + Greek yogurt for bottled ranch dressing. Or choose natural dressing (oil, vinegar) for creamy or salty condiments like ketchup, Italian dressing or Mayo. (Condiments are the worst contenders for added calories and serving size is only 2 tablespoons! Something many of us forget).

20. Homemade ice cream (peanut butter, whey protein, banana blended and frozen) for ice cream. (Ice cream is basically frozen fat and sugar. Homemade you get protein and a dose of natural sugars).

I hope this gives people an idea of quick fixes for unhealthy choices.

 

I thought I’d also post more recipes of my clean-eating journey. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Rhubarb crisp:

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-Whole wheat oats (2 cups)

-1/2 cup of Greek yogurt

-3 egg whites

-Kashi granola for the topping

-Frozen or fresh rhubarb

-1 Tbsp of honey to drizzle

Mix ingredients together and bake for 15 minutes on 350. Add frozen Greek yogurt on top if preferred.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups:

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-Whole wheat lasanga noodles

-Plain Greek yogurt

-Frozen or sauteed Spinach

-Low sodium tomato sauce

-Cottage cheese

-Slices of almond cheese or part-skim cheese

Spread Spinach, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt mixture on one cooked lasagna noodle. Roll up. Add piece of cheese and pour tomato sauce over. Cook for 15 minutes on 350. Have 2-3 for a serving size.

Mexican Spaghetti Squash:

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-Cooked spaghetti squash (also called winter squash)

-One can of no sodium black beans

-Frozen corn (1/2 cup)

-One can of low sodium Rotel (canned tomato and chiles)

-2 Tbsp of salsa

-1/4 cup of chopped jalapenos (optional)

-4 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook squash for 45 minutes on 380 until tender. Cut in half and scoop out seeds/’guts’. Scrape sides to make ‘spaghetti’ and add all other ingredients. Place back in oven for another 10 minutes.

Squash Stir-fry Skillet:

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-One can of low-sodium black beans

-1 sliced zcuhinni

-1 sliced yellow squash

-2 cups of brown rice

-1 can of Rotel

Cook rice beforehand (about 30 minutes). Add all other ingredients to skillet and cook for 10 minutes until squash becomes soft.

Oat-Crusted Chicken w/ Brown Rice and Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes:

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For ‘breading’: rolled oats (1 cup) and crushed almonds (1/2 cup)

-Honey (1/4 cup)

-3-4 sweet potatoes

-Brown rice

-1 egg

-2-3 pieces of chicken

Mix almonds and oats in blender. Dip chicken in egg and coat chicken with mixture. Cut sweet potatoes into small one-inch pieces and drip honey onto them. Cook brown rice for 30 minutes on stove. Bake chicken for 40 minutes (until coating is browned) and cook potatoes for 30 minutes until tender. Serve on spinach (optional).

I hope these turn out as good as they were for me and my family! Cooking for 1 or 2 doesn’t mean relying on boxed dinners or frozen meals. It also doesn’t mean boring. These are all twists on common favorites loaded with veggies and healthy alternatives. Once you go healthy, you never go back :p

Thanks for reading!

-Kailee