Better Slow Cooker Tuscan Ribollita

I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of this!!! AHHH!!

I know this is an original recipe because there are NO photos of google that are the same. Although this is close…

Ribollita

http://hollyspantry.blogspot.com/2013/09/ribollita-tuscan-vegetable-cabbage-and.html
If you are trying to cut down on salt and are on a budget THIS WILL become a go-to recipe. I got this recipe from a food network magazine but have re-worked it over the years. The ingredients are fresh and it makes a ton of soup without having to purchase ANY chicken broth (hallelujah!!  don’t you get sick of buying chicken broth?) Even if you have not liked prosciutto in the past, you need to give this one a try. Prosciutto is Italy’s version of bacon…. so why is it always served uncooked? Here, the prosciutto is stir fried with a little butter (or olive oil) to make it crispy and aromatic. You will be changed forever.

Tip: Do not buy prepackaged prosciutto. Get 4oz sliced thin from a deli and end up paying HALF the price!! (about 3$!!)

Ingredients

•3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
•3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
•1/4 small head green/savoy cabbage, sliced (about 3 cups: it will look like a lot! Don’t worry it will cook down.)
•4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
•1 can cannellini beans or other white bean, rinsed
•1/4 cup tomato paste unsalted
•1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
•Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
•1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
•2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 TBS butter
•3 cloves garlic, sliced

Directions

First, fry some bacon. (I know that sounds so unhealthy!!…but do it.) Take 1/2-1 TBS of unsalted natural butter (or a drizzle of olive oil will work!) and add to a pan over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, add the chopped prosciutto. Stir fry until browned.

Meanwhile-
Combine the carrots, celery, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 7 cups water in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Add the cooked prosciutto. Cover and cook on low, 7 to 8 hours.

DO NOT SKIP THIS NEXT STEP!!

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes.(You want it toasty but not burnt!)  Stir the garlic and oil into the soup and serve topped with grated parm and parsley.  The toasted garlic takes this soup from good to THA BOMB. Your friends won’t believe how cheap and easy this was to make.

Optional: Serve with a toasty Italian bread for dipping!

Adapted from:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ribollita-recipe.html

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The Unbaised SCOOP on Protein Powders

What protein powder should I take?

Try posting THAT question on Facebook and watch your comments section blow up with opinions, sales people, and a ton of non-evidence based advice that will have you throwing in the towel, walking into your local GNC, and saying “Ok – Just tell me what to get.”

From this guy.

best-protein-powder

Get people started about protein powder and it’s like asking someone for new-mother baby advice. They are ALL over that, and they’re all experts somehow…


Here’s the true breakdown along with a chart of someone the top protein powders out there right now. (Be wary of Pop-up, Trendy sounding sources of protein!!!)

PROTEIN SOURCE: 

ANIMAL SOURCES

WHEY:

  • Quickly absorbed by the body.
  • Best post-workout
  • Naturally abundant in the amino-acid Leucine (a building block for muscle!)
  • Promotes weight-loss by sparing muscle (WebMD)
  • Whey ISOLATE is very LOW in lactose. If you are lactose intolerant you may still be able to handle whey isolate protein. (HERE)
  • There is controversy behind benefits of ISOLATE VS CONCENTRATE. Do your research!

CASEIN

  • Digested slowly
  • Better before-bed protein for muscle recovery
  • Higher in lactose

EGG

VEGAN SOURCES

HEMP:

  • Great micronutrient profile
  • LOW digestible protein content -(only about 30-50% protein by weight, whereas other options discussed in this article are 90-100%. Furthermore, the protein it does contain isn’t nearly as digestible as rice or pea protein, let alone animal products like whey, casein, or egg protein. MIKE MATTHEWS)
  • Sounds cool. But is not cool.

PEA

  • Very good source
  • High amount of leucine

BROWN RICE

  • High “biological value” about 80%

OTHER INGREDIENTS

SPIRULINA and Chlorella – two main phytonutrients from algae found in many protein powders today. It is better to not try to bulk up on these greens once a week, rather small regular amounts are best. Chlorella has been used to prevent cancer and treat radiation patients. Some Spirulina sources have been found to contain high levels of heavy metals. Cheap sources of spirulina will most likely contain heavy metals, including sources that have not been tested. A few years ago, Shakeology was found to contain high levels of these heavy metals causing them to find better source of Spirulina. This is a GOOD thing. Many protein powders and sources have NOT been tested for heavy metals (mercury). (WEBMD)

Inulin from Chicory Root – This one interested me because it is a main ingredient in Fiber One bars. This is a main ingredient in VEGA Protein (except Chocolate and Mocha) and is also present in the VANILLA SHAKEOLOGY Flavor. Here are reasons I do not like Inulin derived from Chicory:

Avoid chicory if you are allergic to ragweed. It is in the same family. Chicory is also related to chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.

Inulin may also cause:

Bloating
Abdominal cramping
Loose stools
Gas
More frequent bowel movements

Inulin-type prebiotics are generally recognized as safe. Chicory itself, however, is not recommended in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It may lead to miscarriage.

– WEBMD.COM

Sacha Inchi – “Peruvian Peanut”. High in amino acids and essential oils. No known side effects.  Thumbs up!

Goji Berry – this is a big seller for me. I used to buy my husband bags of dried goji berries to take on deployment to boost his mood but now I don’t have to. Goji Berries are known in China as “happy fruit”. It symbolizes longevity and good mood. “Some studies using goji berry juice found possible benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health.” (WEBMD) Thumbs UP!

MACA ROOT – Still harvested entirely in South America and mostly Peru. Uses have a wide range of benefits from Anemia and Depression to increased Sexual Potency and Energy.  (WEBMD) THUMBS UP!

Meal-Replacement VS Simple Protein

Meal replacement protein shakes are excellent for weight-loss and those that lack a well rounded diet. They are also good for filling in the gaps and providing optimal nutrition to those that have a hard time accessing health foods or can’t afford it. They help keep you full and reduce overall calorie consumption. Be wary of ingredients as this is something you will most likely take every day or close to. Stay away from meal replacements containing artificial ingredients, sugar (or any form of sugar) other than Stevia. WHY? Stevia is extremely LOW on the glycemic index while remaining 100% natural. Interested in how high GI foods cause food cravings and over eating? (Go HERE)

Simple Proteins are just that. Simple. You might want to have this only on days that you lift. If you are taking this everyday avoid artificial ingredients. They are not a good source of nutrition, just an added source of lean protein.

Try: NAKED Protein for 100% Natural, non-sweetened, non-denatured Whey from Grassfed Cows in California


protein-napoleon-dynamite

CHECK OUT THE CHART HERE

Protein Comparison

Advocare – . With pretty much ZERO natural ingredients (mostly synthetic, processed nutrients) you could get this a lot cheaper from GNC if you really want to go that route. Hydrolyzed Fructose as a top ingredient?? And I can’t even find info on what that IS? PLUS it’s 45$ plus tax for only 14 servings. That’s almost 100$ for 1 month… wow.

Check out their ingredients HERE.

Isagenix –  RED FLAGS: silicon dioxide,isomaltooligosaccharides (wtf…), d-fructose and maltodextrin…to name a few.  FRUCTOSE is the main sweetener. (LIST HERE)

Arbonne – it always raises a red flag when it is difficult to find listed ingredients. The ingredients are listed under “marketing” and not on the product site. And then it only lists “other ingredients”. My turn off – Cane Sugar, Corn Starch, Cranberry Protein  (whaaat? only 20-30% protein. WHY WASTE the effort?) (Ingredients LIST HERE) 70$ for 30 servings

VegaOne – getting better! This was one of the first comparable proteins that caught my eye. The ingredients are great and almost fully organic. The ONLY downside is that the protein biological value in VEGA is low due to its use of hemp protein as a main source AND it includes Inulin for Chicory which has been shown to possibly cause miscarriage. Brown rice and Pea sources are best. Over-all though, if you need a vegan source of protein vega is a good choice as long as you are not trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding. 70$

Garden of Life: Like VEGA but better. They leave out the hemp protein and inulin from chicory root. All natural ingredients with an impressive list of balanced organic superfoods.

Shakeology – Both regular and vegan formulas and completely natural ingredients. I love that the vegan formula sticks to Pea and Brown Rice sources. (LIST HERE) 0-129$

I have 2 complaints about it though: the vanilla flavor contains Inulin from Chicory.

Lastly, after drinking Shakeology for a year I noticed that it seemed to spike my insulin and crave sweets, which is normal for higher GI sweetened shakes. Shakeology claims to be low on the GI, but how low – I’m not sure. 9g of sugar is rather high to be certified low GI.

 

Shakeo-Comparison-CHART

Carrot Cake Power Bites

You know those annoyingly cute photos of food on pinterest of some probably bland tasting “health” snack stacked, sorted and arrayed in an excessive amount ways and surrounded with 500 hanging golden origami swans?

Well, I feel like I have finally landed. I have now created an “annoyingly cute” Pinterest compilation of an equally as cute “carrot power bites”…although I have not quite reached golden origami swan status. (Anyone good at origami?)

Soak in the cuteness.

Carrot-Cake-Balls-Pinterest-

I’m no professional photographer, but I can take a pretty damn good photo with an iPhone5 and edit it. 

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Main difference, these tasty little balls aren’t just for show. (oh good lord) They ACTUALLY TASTE GOOD… OK, THEY ACTUALLY TASTE AMAZING!!

AMAZEBALLS!!

I’ve been really wanting to use that word lately. Anywho, I made this recipe after downing an entire carrot cake prior to starting my 90/10 Nutrition Challenge January 1st. I thought someone in the house was going to help me… unfortunately no one got home before 4pm. Yes, I am a 90/10 coach, but I need motivation too in order to get back on track just as much as anyone else. Check out the 90/10 Nutrition Tab to check that out and get signed up. – It. IS. Free… No Joke this time.

So, in an effort to curb my tendency to eat entire carrot cakes from Albertson’s, I came up with these scrumptious, sugar free, raw, 90/10 approved (and for the record they are PALEO as well. Yea let that melt your face off)

This recipe started from a recipe posted in runningtothekitchen.com (hmm kinda sounds like this blog… and she is obsessed with balls too… maybe we should be friends…) It has been completely reworked and adapted by ME. So it is now my recipe. THANK YOU!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup raw almonds (haven’t tried walnut yet…)
½ cup rolled oats (not instant!!)
1/2 cup chopped and peeled carrots
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoonish maple syrup (I used Trader Joes Maple Agave Blend)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tsp FRESH ginger (size of a dime 1/4 inch piece) – sorry you just can’t sub powdered ginger for this one

1/4 tsp cinnimon

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine almonds & oats in a food processor and pulse until almost flour consistency
Add carrots and process until finely chopped and incorporated.
Add remaining ingredients except raisins and syrup and process. Now slowly drizzle in the syrup while the processor is on until the mixture start to ball up on it’s own. This will keep you from having to use more syrup than needed.
Add raisins and pulse until chopped
Roll into balls.
Keep refrigerated.

(Adjust ginger to taste. Some people LOVE ginger. Some people not so much. Do what suits you.)

Pair a couple of these with this Carrot Cake Shakeology Recipe and you will be nearing Carrot Cake Enlightenment as well as  about 300 calories. Perfect for a midday small meal.

carrotcake

What’s Shakeology?? – shakeology.com/kristinicole87

And more photos because I said EXCESSIVE

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Strange how when you cook healthy food and get excited, your kids get excited too.

Want to know the best, cheapest thing to give a baby that is teething? A really cold carrot. Try it!

Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup

Lentil Stew close 2
photo from: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2010/10/lentil-sausage-stew/

This recipe came about after pulling out my “Italian Sausage Soup” recipe and realizing halfway through that it was NOT a Sausage lentil recipe at all!! At the last second, I made some changes and thankfully, it came out surprisingly good because I was about to have friends over for dinner! I love the heartiness of this soup, it’s perfect for a cold winter night, coming back from a long day of snow sports or something to soothe a cold. I wouldn’t say this is “clean eating” because it does have sausage in it, but it’s pretty dang healthy. I really load up on the veggies for this one. I also reduce the salt and add extra spiciness with red pepper flakes for added flavor.  The ingredients are simple and delicious.

INGREDIENTS

1 (16oz) package of Sweet OR Mild Italian Sausage, casings removed

1 yellow onion chopped

3 stalks of chopped celery

3 carrot sticks, chopped

3 cans of beef broth (OR 3 cups of water with 1 1/2 tsp of Better than Bouillon)

2 (14oz) cans of diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano and basil

1 cup dried lentil beans

1 cup frozen chopped spinach (I like to boil and freeze my own!)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp oregano

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup dried lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the water is completely gone.

Meanwhile,

Remove sausage from the casings.

IN a large Dutch Oven, cook sausage over medium high heat for 5 minutes until slightly browned. Add the onion, celery, and carrot – turn the heat down to medium and let the sausage and veggies cook thoroughly, breaking up the sausage; 10 minutes. Drain well and press out any excess oil.

Return the sausage mixture to the pot and add the remaining ingredients including the lentils. Simmer on low for 10-20 minutes. Adjust spices to taste.

Enjoy!!

lentil soup
http://foodlets.com/2012/10/01/lentil-sausage-soup-with-spinach-a-barefoot-contessa-lentil-soup-makeover/

Dijon Swiss-Chard Power Scramble

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I think I might add the word “power” to all my egg scramble recipes…. it just makes it sound more awesome. 

I need to make one of those little “pinterest” graphics that is “scrambles 1 million ways” because I’ve realized you can make an egg scramble out of just about ANY flavor profile.

So far, my favorites are:

Florentine: (mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and basil)

Greek Spanakopita: (spinach, artichoke, garlic and feta)

Tex-Mex – (green peppers, onion, cumin, roasted red pepper, cheddar cheese topped with salsa)

And Parisian – with this new Dijon Swiss-Chard Scramble

Basically, take whatever food you like (BLT?) and try to make it a scramble! Get creative! Post your favorite scramble or try a new one and let me know how it goes!

 

So why am I obsessed with scrambles? Protein is a major building block for muscles – and with eggs it’s cheap. If you are already at a healthy weight and are trying to build muscle while getting lean, you need adequate protein to keep your body from eating away at your muscle tissue! It’s also an easy way to get your first 1-2 serving of vegetables in right away. Plus, they only take about 5 minutes to make!

Egg White VS Regular

If you are healthy and just trying to maintain, you do not need to take out the egg yolk. A full egg has 6g of protein. Egg white only, brings it to about 3.5g. The main issue? Cholesterol. One egg yolk has 65% of your daily allotted cholesterol value. If you are trying to lose weight or lower your cholesterol just take out the yolk and add an extra egg white!

RECIPE 

(SERVES 1)

2 large swiss chard leaves, washed rolled tightly, then torn

1 TBS minced onion

2-3 egg whites, beaten

pepper

thyme (fresh or dry)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 splash white wine/chicken broth

swiss cheese shredded (or feta)

flax seeds (optional)

cooking spray (I prefer coconut oil spray)

Beat eggs, dijon, pepper and thyme in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a small pan on medium heat, spray with cooking oil. Add onion and cook slightly – 2 minutes. Add the swiss chard and a splash of white wine or broth. Simmer until cooked down a bit – 1-2 minutes.

Add the egg mixture and scramble until eggs are cooked. Sprinkle with flax seeds and serve!

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