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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Food for thought during every walk of life

Children (1-10):

As summer winds down and children are back in school, you may think the hassle of stocking up on snacks, introducing new foods and sneaking veggies into favorite meals is over—well, think again. According to studies, the nutritional habits of school-aged children are defined during this crucial time because of growth requirements and physical activity.

Although amounts vary, children and adults require the same daily nutrients. And because children are rapidly growing, it is important to plan meals and snacks that provide the recommended amount of servings each day. A variety of vitamins and minerals support growth and development during the childhood years. Children tend to eat what’s available. Unfortunately, a lot of kid-friendly snacks are packed full of sugar, artificial ingredients and chemical fillers.

To keep your children satisfied nutritionally, here are ten healthy snack ideas:

  • Homemade tortilla chips with salsa
  • Flavored rice cakes (low sodium) with nut butter
  • Homemade fruit roll-up
  • Low-fat cheese stick
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Fruit smoothies with spinach, berries, skim milk and/or banana
  • Homemade trail mix—with raisins, nuts, dried fruit
  • DIY ice pops—with coconut water and fruit
  • Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese topped with fruit
  • Veggies with hummus or low-fat dips
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    Teenagers (11-19):

    Teenagers are a unique breed. Curious, but stubborn, many teens choose comfort and convenience before nutrition and benefits. By introducing healthy, whole foods early on, studies show the habits will stick with them for life. Slowly but surely, start buying less and less processed food, junk food, soda and refined food and replace them with their alternatives (see my post on health substitutions here). If it’s there, they will eat it, so make sure what is available is nutritious and filling.

    Encouraging rebellious teens to eat healthy, organic foods can be exhausting, but laying it out in tangible terms seems to be effective. Demonstrate what processed foods are made of by doing experiments like this one here, talk about the costs of healthcare and how whole foods are helping counteract diseases/illness or even do a family challenge to cut one unhealthy item a week and share the struggles and how you all feel afterwards.

    Here are ten tips to help teens discover the importance of real food:

    • Introduce them to the kitchen early. Show them how to use the oven to bake/cook their own food instead of relying on the microwave to heat up frozen meals.
    • Explain to them the difference of sauteing, steaming, baking or grilling your food instead of frying, smothering and breading (and how to order healthier foods in restaurants by avoiding terms like battered, crispy and creamy).
    • Talk about portion control! A common way many teens put on weight in their high-school/college years is by simply eating too much for their daily consumption needs.
    • Share the differences between whole foods versus processed foods. Instead of them grabbing an applesauce pouch and a bag of chips, explain to them that a whole apple and a bag of freshly cut veggies will not only be more nutritionally satisfying, but also keeps them fuller longer.
    • Instead of buying sugary juices and sports drinks, show your teen how to make delicious smoothies/juices. Experimenting with smoothies/juices is not only fun for curious teens, but also helps teach them the importance of getting the recommended amount of veggies/fruits.
    • Whether it is pizza, nachos, pasta or chicken tenders, put a homemade and healthy spin on teen favorites to show them how easy and fun it is to make it their own way. They may not want to go back to the greasy, high-fat versions.
    • Make a family challenge to cut out one unhealthy food a week and replace it with a healthier version (ie: white pasta for quinoa, processed peanut butter for whole almonds or cow’s milk for almond/coconut milk) and see what the consensus is.
    • Try at least one new food a month. Branch out and try something as a family that no one has tried before whether it be an ethnic dish, a super-food or a new kind of meat, it will be fun sharing the experience together.
    • Toppings like full-fat cheese, bacon, croutons, butter and salad dressings are not only full of extra fat/sugar/salt, but also add almost no nutritional value to meals. Instead encourage your teen to choose toppings that are flavorful and pack a healthy punch like avocado, nuts/seeds, veggies, extra virgin olive oil/coconut oil, organic mustard and salsa.
    • Explain ingredient labels and nutritional facts to teens. Many times drinks like Powerade, Snapple and Arizona Teas or frozen foods like pizza rolls, chicken wings or burritos are 2-3 servings each—deceiving to a teen who thinks there is only 60 calories in the entire bottle/package.

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    Young Adults (20-35):

    Young adults are always on the go. Whether hurrying to class, preparing for a wedding or welcoming a baby into this world, nutrition often times takes a back burner. Although many young adults know what is healthy and what isn’t, many on their own simply cannot afford healthy choices or simply aren’t aware there are alternative options. Good news is that there are staples that can be purchased in bulk (see my list of must-haves for clean eaters), saving weekly trips to the grocery store, time cooking meals every night and most importantly—money.

    Browsing through Pinterest boards, I’m finding a lot of young adults are also looking for convenience and getting the most bang for their buck. Crockpot meals, bulk frozen meals and prepping weekly meals/snacks are some of the most commonly searched topics as well as trendy diets/fads like wheat-free, dairy-free and meat-free entrees.

    Here are ten wonderfully easy, cheap and healthy recipes (most are kid-friendly!):

    And for those who don’t have access to an oven, grill, stove or crockpot (I’m talking to you college kids), here is a list of healthy microwavable recipes (please, for the love of God, stay away from Ramen, Kraft Mac ‘N’ Cheese bowls and frozen dinners).

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    Middle-Aged Adults (40-60):

    Nutritional needs of middle-aged adults differ greatly from those of children and young adults. At this age, older adults are mostly done growing and developing meaning maintaining healthy and active lifestyle becomes a main priority. By staying fit and meeting nutritional needs, older adults lower the risk of developing age and weight related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

    Dietary needs should also be established during this stage of adult life. Although well-educated about nutrition, many adults are consuming too much of the wrong things like saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt and artificial ingredients because it is what they were brought up on. Adults wanting to achieve a healthier lifestyle need to makeover their staple foods and tune into their knowledge of food, nutrition and exercise to help meet their goals.

    Here is list of ten food no-no’s (and their healthy alternatives):

    • Ice cream—loaded with fat, sugar and calories (try dairy-free ice cream or frozen Greek yogurt)
    • Condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce and sweet-and-sour sauce—loaded with sugar (try mustard, horseradish, salsa, hummus or lemon juice)
    • Creamy salad dressings like ranch and Caesar—loaded with fat and calories (try balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and vinegar, or lemon juice)
    • Restaurant-style French fries—loaded with fat, simple carbs and salt (try homemade sweet potato fries or mashed redskin potatoes)
    • White pasta—loaded with simple carbs and calories (try quinoa, brown rice, wild rice or orzo)
    • Soda and sugary juices—loaded with empty calories and sugar (try flavored waters or sugar-free/calorie-free natural soda or homemade juice)
    • Spreads like butter/margarine or mayonnaise—loaded with fat, salt and calories (try healthy-fat spreads like avocado, hummus or Greek yogurt)
    • White bread—loaded with simple carbs and fat (try sprouted grain bread, whole wheat or oat-based breads)
    • Table sugar and salt—loaded with artificial chemicals (try stevia or pure honey for sugar and use kosher sea salt, Himalayan pink salt or salt-free herbs for table salt)
    • Coffee-based drinks and store-bought smoothies—loaded with sugar and fat (try black coffee, hot tea or homemade smoothies with fresh berries, greens and almond milk)

    Remember talk with your doctor to see if taking a multivitamin and/or supplements like omega-3, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C for heart health, strong bones and a healthy immune system works with your diet.

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    Elderly (65+):

    Elderly adults’ diets are often times not well-balanced. Along with getting the recommended amount of veggies, fruits, grains and protein, many older adults should incorporate supplements and vitamins to boost overall health. While some elderly adults live in assisted living homes, many are home-bound and are conflicted with incorrect nutrition information. It’s important at this age to schedule regular doctor’s visits and and establish your personal needs, proper nutrition and any health risks that come with aging.

    Here are 10 tips to maintain and improve senior citizen health:

    • Talk with your doctor about taking supplements such as calcium, omega-3 and vitamin D which reduce heart disease, cancer, arthritis and preserve bone health to ensure a well-balanced diet.
    • By limiting sodium intake, you reduce hypertension/high blood pressure, a common ailment of the elderly. Avoid processed or frozen food as well as restaurant food and incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet.
    • As you age, you become less thirsty. It’s important to hydrate your body with the proper amount of water (6-8 8 oz. cups a day).
    • Incorporate changes gradually if there is a sudden medical condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes with the proper nutrition.
    • Be creative with meals by making smoothies to ensure you’re consuming the necessary nutrients. Make sure you don’t do this for all meals or it could cause malnutrition or diarrhea.
    • Get enough sleep each night. Elderly adults should be getting around 7-8 hours of sleep a night. As you age, you may have trouble sleeping. Talk with your doctor about an over-the-counter natural sleep aid or a special pre-bedtime diet.
    • Although you may not feel hungry during mealtime, it’s important to consume the necessary nutrients otherwise malnutrition can set in. Try eating with others, talking with your doctor about medication side effects and establishing an eating schedule to follow.
    • Even if you currently don’t have any medical conditions, it’s important to speak with a nutritionist or doctor about nutrition information for the elderly.
    • To reduce uncomfortable bloating and constipation, eat plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are whole grains, flax seed, beans, popcorn, oats, nuts and vegetables.
    • If you are not able to prepare your own meals, call for help! Many programs like Meals on Wheels deliver food for home-bound adults. Programs like these prepare healthy and fresh dishes that conform to the NIH guidelines and typically store in the freezer.

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    -Kailee

Get in my belly!

Hello readers,

I’ve done a lot of talking about clean eating and how to go about it, but I have neglected to post some of my favorites recipes as well as give you some ideas to make your favorite foods healthier ones. You can make ANY recipe a healthier substitute–that is the good news! Bad news is, if you are not a good cook, you may want to brush up on your skills!

I was strictly a microwave and ‘just add water’ kind of cook for most of my college career. Once I started my new lifestyle, I learned more about ways to cook my food in a more healthy way and how I can make fresh, healthy meals while I’m on the go. Don’t fall in the fast-food trap! Fail to plan, plan to fail!

I started food prepping in January and it’s been a godsend! I no longer have to rush home at 5 o’clock and be a slave to the oven for two hours+. Food prepping saves me time, money AND helps us measure portions. 

I usually use different kinds of lean meat like extra lean ground turkey, chicken breast, salmon and tilapia (cook them by baking or grilling) and I pair them with an assortment of frozen mixed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, corn and carrots and sometimes I add black beans, kidney beans, mushrooms, spinach, quinoa or brown rice. With those ingredients, the possibilities are virtually endless. I prep all my meals on Sunday nights for the week. I measure them and put everything into Tupperware containers, put half in the fridge and mark their dates. The ingredients usually last at least a week and a half, so I try to put some in the freezer if there are extras. 

Buying a huge pack of chicken, fish or veggies saves so much money because 1. things don’t spoil as fast and 2. fewer trips to the store (less gas!) and 3. buying in bulk actually is cheaper!

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Using the list of foods I mentioned in my last post give so you many options for meals. You can put your twist on anything! Here are some of my favorites that I have made:

Quinoa and turkey stuffed peppers:

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I used red/orange peppers for this delicious and filling dinner! I carve out the insides of the peppers and stuff it with cooked quinoa, ground turkey, mushrooms or beans and top it off with slices of string cheese. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 380 and voila!

Pineapple and turkey pizza:

pizza

This is so easy and tastes delicious! For the crust, I use rolled oats, greek yogurt and 1 egg. I mix them all together until it is a dough-like consistency. I spread it onto a baking sheet and then pile on the low-sodium tomato sauce, pineapple, slices of organic turkey (or turkey bacon) and I grate some almond cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes on 380 and you have yourself a healthy, low fat pizza!

Protein pancakes:
pancake

Normal pancakes are so carb-filled and unhealthy. These bad boys have 3 ingredients and are just as easy to make!

For 4 pancakes: Mix 2 eggs, 2 egg whites and banana in a blender or Magic Bullet until all chunks are mixed up. You can add peanut butter or protein powder if you would like a different flavor. Pour onto skillet and cook just like normal pancakes. Usually 1-2 minutes per side. Add Walden Farms syrup and you’ve got yourself a healthy, filling breakfast!

As you can tell, I am all about easy and simple. My recipes aren’t fancy and are totally do-able and affordable…and they work (cue Pinterest ‘nailed it’ posts)! I’ll be posting more later this week.

Next week, my husband and I start our juice cleanse so I will be sure to blog about our experiences with that. We will be juicing twice a day and eating homemade veggie soup for our healthy meal. We don’t get nearly as many vegetables as we should, so this will be a great experiment! Super excited!

Have a great week, you all!

Time for a change!

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I was feeling ambitious this morning so I decided to fill you all in on ways to eat healthier, shop smarter and live happier.

Most of you have an idea what clean eating is. It is defined as cutting out as many processed foods as possible and eating foods in their rawest form. Think apples for applesauce, raw almonds for nut butter and whole wheat bread for white bread. Take a look at the ingredient list of foods around your home. You’d be surprised the items listed! A good rule of thumb is if it has more than 6 ingredients, don’t eat it. The more things listed, the more processed it is. Also, if there are items you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t shop for separately, don’t purchase it. Looking at the serving size is also huge. If more than 1/3 of the calories come from fat–put that crap down! Food companies are tricky in that they will make their serving sizes super small so the calories listed on the label look manageable. Most times there are at least 5-8 servings in frozen dinners like bagel bites, barbecue wings or pizza. If you have half of them or worse–all of them–you’re looking at quadrupling your calorie intake. Same goes for teas like Arizona tea and even Snapple. They are two servings, so if you’re enjoying the entire bottle, double those calories.

The first step to eating healthy is purging your fridge and pantry of processed foods. Stay away from canned items like soups, vegetables and fruit, boxed flavored rice and ‘just add water’ meals as well as processed meats like bologna, salami and other deli meats. Getting those items out of the house will rid you of temptation and force you to eat the foods your body truly needs.

According to studies, most Americans are starving nutritionally. We eat and eat, but it’s the wrong kind of food. Your body is your buddy, listen to it! Treat it right and it will treat you right. Tired of feeling sluggish, bloated, constipated? What if I told you that was all because of your diet? Just making a few simple changes in the foods you eat will not only give you more energy, it will improve awareness, eye sight, reduce bloat and clear up skin! No pill, cream or magic shake will do that for you. It’s all about food–the right kinds of food.

Did you know that 60% of the food we eat is processed? It’s cheaper and easier for big companies to sell mass quantities of crap than good food that spoils. Most of those foods are pumped with artificial fillers, sweeteners and other carcinogenic ingredients that would make you cringe. Then they see people trying to eat healthy so they slap “fat free” on the label and people eat twice as much than they would have before. Little do people know what they are really eating. Why do you crave certain foods? Why are they so addicting? I’ll tell you why: MSG and sugar. Would you be surprised to know there are more than 70 ingredients in a McDonald’s hamburger? MSG is one of the main ingredients which has been linked to diabetes, cancer and morbid obesity. I consider sugar a drug. It is addicting and when people don’t get it, they get irritable. People also consume more than two times the amount of sugar required a day. Eating clean can be a challenge cutting these deadly ingredients out your daily diet.

Going to the store soon? Here are some tips:

1. Shop on the edges of the grocery store. The outside edges are most times filled with fresh fruit, veggies, meats, yogurts and cheeses. Things that spoil=good. Things that have a shelf life of 5 years=bad.
2. When shopping for items, check the ingredient list! If you are buying beans, beans should be the only thing listed on the label. If you must be canned items or packaged items, go for the reduced sodium or reduced sugar.
3. Watch out for fat free! Fat free usually means ‘more sugar’ but not always. Full fat yogurts are actually better for you than fat free versions because it’s lower in sugar.
4. Go to the store with a list and stick to it! Also, try to go alone. Kids and boyfriends/husbands won’t help the cause! It will save you money and time!
5. Sign up for coupons either by mail or online. There often aren’t many deals for healthy food (surprise), but sometimes you’ll get a deal on fresh fruits , veggies and meats. Try to buy things that are on sale and STOCK UP on them!
6. Most time the frozen isle is full of processed foods, HOWEVER, frozen fruit and veggies are often times just as nutritious as fresh and lasts longer. Stock up on them!
7. Ingredient lists on food will show the most prevalent items first. If salt, flour, corn syrup, sugar are listed first–don’t even think about it!
8. Stay away from flavored foods like rice, nuts, popcorn, some kinds of yogurts etc. Flavored usually means added sugar and salt. You can add your own flavors to it like parsley, cilantro, fruit, honey and other spices.
9.  Don’t shop when you are hungry. You’ll end up buying more food than necessary and it will most likely be crap food.
10. If you can afford organic, spinach, apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches are just a few foods that you’ll want to spend a little more on as these are the foods with the most pesticides.

Here is also a list of 15 items all clean eating households should have on hand:
-Almond milk/soy milk
-frozen or fresh fruits and veggies
-Raw almonds/walnuts/pistachios
-sweet potatoes
-spinach/kale and leafy greens
-apple cider or balsamic vinegar
-black/pinto/kidney beans
-whole wheat pasta or brown rice
-old fashioned oats/rolled oats
-Stevia
-egg whites
-Mrs. Dash or other no MSG/salt spices
-greek yogurt/kefir
-seeds like chia and flax
-whole wheat flour/coconut flour

But, Kailee I don’t know if I can give up my favorite fried and processed foods! Don’t tell yourself you CAN’T eat it. You can eat anything you’d like. It is your choice not to eat it. You will say ‘no’ a lot. Heck, I’ve been clean eating for 5 months and my family and friends still make cookies, cake, french fries, pizza and are surprised when I say ‘no thanks’. The way I look at it is flavor lasts a few minutes, but the fatty crap you put in your body is hard to get rid of and will only continue piling up. So, is it worth it? For some, yes, it is. Those people give in super easy by saying “a bite won’t hurt” and “I ate healthy today so I can have this 5-pound Cinnabon for desert”. Don’t reward yourself with food. We tend to do that–it’s Sally’s birthday, it’s _________ holiday weekend, let’s go on a date night, let’s go out with friends. What does that mean? Food. Usually bad food at that. Restaurants are notorious for huge portion sizes, salt and fat-laden foods and enough sugary treats to put Hershey’s out of business. No one is saying you can’t go out and enjoy the foods you did before, but be smart about it. Go for foods with names like saute, fresh, baked or steamed instead of fried, crispy, battered or creamy.

This lifestyle change isn’t easy. It takes work and it’s something that doesn’t happen over night. Once you start, it is the most rewarding experience ever. You will receive so much support and respect for starting and sticking with it. You CAN do this, just remember that.

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”