RecipeRedux: Spicy Ginger Peach Fruit Chews

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It’s time again for the RecipeRedux – a monthly link up of dietitians’ blogs, as we all focus in on a chosen food category!  This time the theme is dehydrated food.  I don’t own a dehydrator, and my oven leaves a lot to be desired, but last year I figured out how to use my slow cooker to make “fruit by the foot” and decided it was time for round 2.

One of the benefits of dehydrating is prolonged shelf life – removing water makes it less likely that many types of bacteria will grow.  These fruit leathers could last weeks in the fridge in an airtight bag!  They’re also much more portable; no bruising or smooshing to worry about.

A crock pot works surprisingly well as a dehydrator for purees.  You can try this with many other fruit combos, just remember these two rules: 1) the lid must stay off for it to work this way and 2) only a thin amount of fruit can cover the bottom – ~1/4-1/2″ is ideal.  My crock pot is a 6qt oval, so it has more floor space than smaller, circular ones.

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Spicy Ginger Peach Fruit Chews

Ingredients

  • 2 large peaches, pitted (skin on!)
  • 1″ fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, deseeded

Directions
Puree all ingredients in a blender.  Coat crock pot with oil, pour in puree.  Set on low for 10-11 hours, until fruit is fully dried.  Peel out of pot, cut with a pizza wheel on a cutting board.

 

Click the frog for more amazing dehydrated recipes!

Questions about juicing – with Williams-Sonoma!

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As summer comes to an end, use the bountiful produce to create some awesome juice and smoothie combos!

In January, I taught a class at Williams-Sonoma about juicing using a few of their recipes – later, I wrote this post chronicling a friend’s experiment with juicing, and offered 5 guidelines for using juicing as part of a healthy lifestyle.  It’s a post I still get hits on and questions about!  So as an extension, below is a short Q&A where I answer questions posed by Williams-Sonoma, just in time for prime local juicing season.

1.    You use many different fresh ingredients in your recipes. What are the top 3 ingredients that you like/would like to juice, and why?

  1. Flavor elements like ginger and parsley – fresh herbs have similar micronutrient content to dark leafy greens – lots of Vitamin A & K!
  2. Something sweet – peaches are one great addition that gives great flavor, and are incredibly juicy when ripe (which is now!)
  3. Low-sugar veggies like cucumber and celery – very refreshing, and aren’t too sweet

2.    Some people use juices to replace a meal. What are your thoughts on meals being replaced by juices? Is there anything you would recommend to someone who replaces a meal with juice and how they can receive the right amount of nutrients?

This is a great question – in my previous post, I noted that replacing meals with juice leaves you at risk of not getting enough fiber.  The most satiating meals also have a good amount of protein.  To get the right balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, and fat, I recommend using juice as a part of a well-rounded meal, not a replacement.  I also love this idea – recipes from the pulp!

juice-pulp-recipe-hummus

3.    You have a passion for using natural products when it comes to skin care. Juicing has become popular among many different communities, one being the beauty community. What are your thoughts on juicing for skin concerns? What are some ingredients that you would recommend for someone who is trying to maintain healthy glowing skin?

Juicing can be great for skin – or it can be not so great.  Spiking blood sugar is harmful to several body systems, including your skin, which is why people with diabetes can have issues with their complexion.  That’s why having a high-sugar fruit juice is problematic. On the other hand, vitamins A, C, and E are powerhouses for skin repair – green juice (like the one in the pic above) will be loaded with A & C, and a handful of almonds has over 30% of your daily vitamin E – plus, they’ll help keep blood sugar down!

And because I also love a good way to use food ON skin, try using the lemon to brighten skin on your face and hands – you can use half a lemon after squeezing juice out to apply! (Just be careful to avoid your eyes.)

Check out the Williams-Sonoma juicers to compare function and price here!

Daily Protein Distribution (+oatmeal & yogurt fixin’s kit for teachers!)

Fixinskit

I’ve lived with a lot of teachers over the past decade – mostly by chance (I’ve had over 25 roommates from Craigslist!), but all of them have changed my perspective of what it takes to teach.  If I had any idea how hard my teachers were working outside of the classroom, I’d have given them a lot more love!  Living with them has also given me some insight to the barriers around healthy eating.  They’re often overscheduled, have brutally early mornings, and are constantly emotionally challenged by kids who have problems from continence to language barriers to raging hormones – and that’s before they even get to class! To be able to respond in a constructive, loving, effective way you have to be on your A-game, which means a foundation of sleep and good nutrition.

The idea of “eating for performance” is not just for athletes – it’s for everyone.

“Performance” for teachers means getting a protein-rich, nutrient dense breakfast that will carry them to lunch.  Unfortunately, in America we’ve gotten into the habit of backloading our protein so that dinner has too much and breakfast has too little.  Here’s a visual from the Egg Nutrition Center:

proteinbreakfast

Aiming for at least 20g of protein with a breakfast (that also contains fiber and fat) will ensure you don’t get hangry (hungry –>angry), and also give your metabolism a jump start.

Which brings me to the portable oatmeal & yogurt fixin’s basket.  I currently live with an amazing lady named Elise who is such a kick butt teacher that she is now the interim PRINCIPAL of a bilingual middle school…at the age of 27.  (Check her out.  BOOM.)  She and I were enjoying an amazing ScratchDC dinner on our deck earlier this week, and talking about how much we loved the service – they make it easy and fast to have a fresh meal ready to eat in 20 minutes.  “I wish they did breakfast!” she said.  “I need something I can throw together and eat on my way to school, or keep at my desk.”   After a few minutes, the Basket Bar was born.  Based on the concept of having a variety of shelf-stable options you can combine in lots of ways that I used to feed 20 people for a weekend yoga retreat, the Basket Bar was born.

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The Basket Bar:

Step 1: get a basket.  I got this on at Target, and made sure it would comfortably fit the jars.
Step 2: get jars.  I purchased 9 Ball canning jars of different sizes, and filled them as such:
Step 3: fill them with high-protein, fiber-rich, nutrient packed toppings

  • slivered almonds (L)
  • pecan pieces (M)
  • flaked coconut (M)
  • raisins (M)
  • craisins (or other dried fruit) (M)
  • sunflower seeds (S)
  • chia seeds (S)
  • dark chocolate morsels (S)
  • ground flax (S)
    (size indicates which jar was used)

I also threw in a measuring spoon/cup set for portioning, and a few bags of frozen berries.  Add that to a base of plain greek yogurt or steel cut oatmeal, and you have an awesome breakfast or snack.  The first day of school is coming up…do you know any teachers who need a gift like this? (HINT: get them one.)

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From Elise:

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Best day everrrr”

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workinnn'”

 

RecipeRedux: PB & Oat Yogurt Popsicles

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

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There may be no better category of summer foods than frozen treats.  Often, these are quite junky – but they don’t have to be!  These popsicles are protein and fiber rich, silky smooth, and will cool you down without spiking your blood sugar or giving you a neon tongue. They’re a perfect afternoon snack for those hot, sticky, August days!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 c plain greek yogurt* (or use vanilla and leave out sugar)
  • 1/2 c milk*
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 c old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 12 Tbsp peanut butter of choice
  • 1/2 c old fashioned oats, toasted
  • 1/4 c almond slivers, toasted

Directions:
In a blender, combine the yogurt, milk, banana, oats, vanilla, and sugar.  Freeze into 6 popsicle molds (or use cups and spoons).  Spread toasted oats and almonds on a plate.  When frozen (3-4 hours, depending on your freezer), remove from molds, and spread 2 Tbsp of peanut butter on each pop.  Roll in the nuts and oats, place on plastic wrap on a tray and put back into the freezer for peanut butter to harden…or enjoy right away!

*I like to use whole fat dairy, but you can use low fat if that is your preference!

 

 

PBoatpops
enjoying on a rooftop with a view doesn’t hurt!

 

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kid-approved!

Check out the rest of the contest entries here!

RecipeRedux: Oat & Dairy Breakfast Bar

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

blueberrypeachbar

Another RecipeRedux challenge means another set of amazing recipes from members, and great inspiration for me!  Recipes are easiest to develop with some parameters (“anything goes” is the toughest!), and this time around it’s two of my favorite ingredients: oats & dairy.

You know I’m a big proponent of the protein + fiber combo, and these are a perfect match in that department: pairing the two means optimal absorption of the protein, and a long-lasting, satisfying period of satiety.  They’re also both great flavor vehicles, especially for sweet, summer produce.

Right about now is when there start to be more peaches than one can reasonably eat from the hand, so they are the perfect fruit layer for this recipe!  In other months, you could use frozen or other seasonal fruit, or omit the baked fruit layer and top with berries.  This makes a great breakfast option (it meets my 5 rules for a healthy breakfast!), or for a snack in smaller portions.

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Ingredients:

Crust layer:

  • 1.5 c old fashioned oats
  • 1 c almonds
  • 1/4 c melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg

Fruit layer:

  • 2 whole peaches, depitted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c fresh blueberries

Yogurt layer:

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  In a blender or food processor, grind the oats and almonds.  Add sugar and oil, blend on low or dough speed.  Add egg, blend on low or dough speed until mixed.  Press into a 9×12 pan.  Puree peaches, egg, cornstarch, and vanilla.  Pour over crust, and spread on blueberries.  Bake for 50 minutes or until peach layer is set.  Dissolve the pectin in hot water, then combine with yogurt, coconut, sugar, and vanilla.  When the baked portion is done, pour on top and chill in the fridge for 3 hours until cool, or overnight.  Serves 6.

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RecipeRedux: Whiskey-ginger grillin’ sauce

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This month’s RecipeRedux is the perfect theme for chilling and eating in the summer: healthy recipes that use booze!

Check out the whole collection of “spirited” recipes at the end of my post by clicking the blue frog…I have to say, I think the members outdid themselves this month; every picture in the collection looks like it could be on the cover of Bon Appetit!

In our house, summer means grilling: hazy, hot DC evenings spent on the back deck, talking and laughing until the late light disappears on the horizon behind our neighbor’s oversized double deck and the fireflies rats come out.  Ok, so it’s not like life in the country, but the company and food can’t be beat.

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Tonight we are attempting to make a dent in the truly extreme amount of produce in the house, which is at prime status thanks to the farmer’s market being a block from here.  To formulate the recipe, I went with what was on hand: every ingredient except the canned tomatoes was in the pantry (Ok ok, the cupboard.  No one in DC has a pantry.).  Fajitas are an easy vehicle for veggies, and I whipped up some black beans with garlic & cilantro to go inside too.  The sauce makes a spicy, sweet & sour addition, and is also great on the chicken legs we’ll have this weekend – dark meat is higher in B vitamins & iron than white meat, and legs are an easy, higher protein swap for wings.

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Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients here – this is a dump and heat recipe!

Whiskey-ginger grillin’ sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (12 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 3″ fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 c whiskey
  • 1/8 c soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or omit if you want less spicy!)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 c white vinegar (I used rice)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • dash pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan on the stove and bring to a simmer, stirring gently for 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit, then puree in a food processor or blender.  Serve hot or cold!

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How to feed 20 people (from vegan to carnivore) on a yoga retreat

The deal:

A few months ago, my friend & yoga teacher Michael mentioned he’d been asked to lead a retreat in West Virginia – it would be held at a lodge in the woods, had a few cabins, a fire pit, a creek, a pond, and an outdoor pavilion to do yoga & meditation.  Would I be interested in doing the food, he wondered?

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Let me tell you how fast I said yes: immediately.  For all that I love DC – the vibrant people, nightlife options, and the fact that every material object I could ever need is a 2 block radius from my house – I miss the forest!  Growing up, camping in the summer was one of the most important and formative experiences of my childhood.  “Campfire” is one of my Top 5 Favorite Scents, and there is nothing more gratifying than jumping in a creek to rinse off the nature that has clung to your body’s sweat (the dirtier you are, the cleaner you get, I say).  So that part was an easy sell.

To sweeten the deal even more, you have to understand a little bit about Michael.  Primarily that he’s one of those life-loving, people-accepting, goofy-with-a-tinge-of-snark joking, thought-provoking, deep-conversation-having, elevating people who also happens to be one of my favorite teachers at Kali (where I work in exchange for yoga).  His classes will make you break a serious sweat and also leave you pondering your humanity and purpose.  And the guy makes an awesome Old Fashioned.

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Michael is also a good partner for deepening side bends.

The challenge:

The trickiest part of cooking for 20 people for 4 full meals + snacks, 2 hours away from where the food would be procured, while timing the serving with the rest of the weekend’s schedule…wasn’t any of that.  It is how to create meals that everyone can enjoy, regardless of eating pattern.  I don’t believe that any eating pattern (vegan, vegetarian, paleo) is “best,” but that people should find the one that gives them the best energy and health.  And of course, I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the food and eat plenty of fresh produce…

The solution:

Bars.  Every meal was built around a bar/buffet concept, with a base that everyone could have and a myriad of topping options.  I provided some baseline suggestions for portions and nutrient distribution, and people chose what they wanted!  The food was purchased on Thursday, chopped when we arrived Friday, and a snap for me to put the final touches on as needed.

One huge help: a huge load of cucumbers, squash, blueberries, tomatoes, and arugula from From The Farmer, DC’s best (& most flexible) CSA.*  They deliver to the greater DC area, and you can always opt out of a week’s delivery if you’ll be out of town or have a surplus of veggies with the click of a button – and without being charged!  They deliver overnight, so the freshness is waiting on your doorstep when you head out for work.  They provided us with amazing, succulent produce and $20 off participants’ first order!  Check ‘em out and sign up.

Breakfast 1: Oatmeal bar
Lunch: Quinoa bowl bar
Dinner: Pasta salad bar with vegan pesto & broiled chicken or tofu on the side
Breakfast 2: Fruit salad bar + nuts or hard boiled eggs

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And resulted in some pretty beautiful meals:

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There was also a trail mix bar constantly available, and endless hot water for tea…plus a fridge stocked just for people to grab cheese, eggs, veggies, fruit, or yogurt from anytime.

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Many, many thanks to KIND for providing complimentary bars to the yogis to fuel up between sessions!*  Their dark chocolate cherry cashew bars are SO delicious, and have a good balance of nutrients (and they’re not “low fat!”  Alleluia!).  They gave us 3 kinds to try, and a 20% off coupon for retreat participants!

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You can even eat them while doing acro :P

The retreat:

The retreat itself was just the ticket after a hot week in DC.  Held at the Lodge at Sleepy Creek, we had porch swings, decks, and cozy nooks for lounging galore – it’s a great spot for hosting 10-20 people and available for rental at very reasonable rates!  The kitchen and dining area were perfect & adequately stocked for our needs, and the setting is perfectly peaceful.

The workshop content & yoga were, of course, amazing – we did some group work, some journaling, breathing, meditation, active yoga, woods-walking, and learned a lot about the theory of “koshas” and how they may relate to neuroscience.  There was also a campfire, complete with roasted marshmallows (the only truly nutrient-deficient food of the trip) and some even some impromptu drumming with beautiful instruments the lodge has!

By the end, let’s just say that everyone had laughed a lot and more than one person teared up a time or two – it’s not every day that most people really sit and reflect, but it sure is something we need more of!

My heartfelt thanks to the participants for their amazing compliments on the food; I’m looking forward to seeing them in the future!

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*I never write about products or services I wouldn’t use or buy myself!  Contact me if you’d like to have your product featured on my blog.