Paleo, Whole30 Recipe: Veggie Skeleton with Roasted Red Pepper Dip for Halloween!

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This healthy Halloween snack is actually a lot of fun to create!  Use up the veggies in your kitchen to create as silly or scary of a skeleton that you wish.  Using your favorite dip as the face will be an extra incentive for people to eat this veggie tray up (and a good idea, since Vitamins A,D,K and E, found in veggies, are absorbed best with the addition of a healthy fat), but brace yourself, you may have a hard time seeing your skeleton vanish before your very own eyes…

VEGGIE SKELETON WITH ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP:

Ingredients

For the Skeleton Body & Face

2 purple curly kale leaves, veins removed and saved
Handful of spiralized zucchini
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 radish, thinly slices
1 carrot, thinly sliced like coins
4 baby carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and julienned
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeds removed and julienned
Handful of sunflower sprouts
2 cherry tomatoes
1 celery stalk, sliced in 4 pieces
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, cut in 4 pieces
2 cilantro leaves
2 thin slices of scallion

Roasted Pepper Cilantro Sauce

1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/2 tsp. of sea salt

Instructions

PREHEAT your oven’s broiler.

PLACE bell pepper slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast under the broiler for 10 minutes, or until charred.

TRANSFER bell pepper slices to a high speed blender with cilantro, garlic, avocado oil and sea salt and blend on high until pureed. Store sauce in a small ramekin.

ARRANGE your veggie skeleton on a serving tray by placing your ramekin with sauce near the top of the tray to use as a face.

START to build your skeleton’s body and design its face.

Skeleton body ideas:

  • Curly kale leaves and spiralized zucchini as hair
  • Cucumber and radish slices as ears
  • Bell pepper slices as ribs (create a nesting spot for ribs with sunflower sprouts)
  • Carrot and radish slices as a spine
  • Celery and kale veins as arms
  • Cucumber slices as a pelvic region
  • Celery and baby carrots as legs
  • Radishes as joint connectors
  • Cherry tomatoes as feet
  • Rosemary sprigs as toes and fingers

Skeleton face ideas:

  • Eyes: Cilantro leaves and minced scallion
  • Nose: Carrot
  • Mouth: Radish

BE creative with your skeleton and use any veggies you have on hand.  This is a great snack to set out for loved ones and any parts that are not eaten right away can be chopped and added to a salad (using leftover sauce as a vinaigrette).

Paleo, Whole30 Recipe: Swamp Monsters over Braised Kale for Halloween!

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I’ve discovered that putting eyes on food immediately makes it festive…and a bit spooky!

Here is a recipe to make a batch of frittatas Halloween-ready.  Be creative and use what you have in your kitchen.  I used radish, scallion and sunflower sprouts, but you can use all kinds of veggie scraps to make your Monster faces.

SWAMP MONSTERS ON BRAISED KALE:

Ingredients

Braised Kale

2 bunches of dino or curly kale, chopped (veins removed and discarded)
2 Tbs. of ghee
1 tsp. of sea salt

Swamp Creature Bodies

1 dozen eggs
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. sun-dried tomatoes, minced (dehydrated or packed in oil is fine)
8 basil leaves, minced
2 scallions, minced
Dash of white pepper
2 Tbs. ghee or coconut oil to grease muffin tin

Swamp Creature Faces

2 radishes, thinly sliced and halved
1 scallion, bottom halves only, thinly sliced
Sunflower sprouts

Instructions

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or ghee and set aside.

BRAISE your kale by adding ghee, chopped kale and sea salt to a medium sauté pan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until wilted. Once done, remove the kale from the stove and arrange on a large serving platter. The kale serves as a swamp for your swamp creatures to rest on.

ADD eggs, sea salt, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, scallion and white pepper to a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.

POUR 1/3 cup of egg batter into each greased muffin cup.  If you run out of batter, simply fill any empty muffin cups with a little water. Bake in the heated oven for 12-15 minutes.

REMOVE from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes (the egg muffins will deflate during this time). Once cool, remove from the muffin tin and place upside down at a 45 degree angle over the braised kale.

CREATE swamp creature faces by placing two halved radish slices on each egg and a piece of minced scallion in the center of each radish.  Cut tiny slits out of additional radish halves to use as mouths (you do not have to create slits for the mouths, but it does add a festive touch).  Add sunflower sprouts as hair above the eyes.

ENJOY as a spooky and fun breakfast, for for a nourishing meal any time of the day.

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AIP, Paleo, Whole30 Recipe: Green Goblin Soup for Halloween!

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BOO!

Halloween is right around the corner and if you are looking for a healthy recipe to create, you’ve come to the right place!

Below is a recipe for Green Goblin Soup, and it’s a perfect appetizer or snack for loved ones at home, or to bring to a Halloween party.  Dress it up with scary (faux) spiders and colorful straws and serve in individual clear cups, or serve in a large witch pot, you decide!

GREEN GOBLIN SOUP:

Ingredients

2 Tbs. avocado oil (coconut oil or ghee works fine)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 scallions, minced
1 lb. asparagus, chopped (tough ends discarded)
4 cups of spinach
1 avocado, peeled and diced
2 cups of bone broth (chicken, beef or veggies broth works fine)
1 tsp. sea salt

Garnishes

Blanched asparagus spears to use as goblin legs (see recipe note below)
Fresh herbs such as parsley, scallion or cilantro
Freshly ground pepper (omit to keep this recipe AIP friendly)
Plastic spiders and Beetlejuice straws optional

Instructions

ADD avocado oil to a stockpot and bring to medium heat on the stove. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

ADD scallion and asparagus and reduce to a simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

REMOVE from heat and transfer to a high-speed blender along with spinach, avocado and bone broth. Alternately, place spinach, avocado and bone broth in pot and blend with an immersion blender. Once blended, taste and add salt to taste.

SERVE in clear plastic cups with raw asparagus spears sticking out of each cup.  Add a festive straw as well if you like.

GARNISH with any additional herbs or freshly cracked pepper, or dare to scare your guests with faux spiders crawling over each soup!

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Recipe note: Blanching your asparagus spears is not necessary, but you may find them easier to eat than raw spears. To blanch asparagus spears, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of cold ice water. Place asparagus spears in boiling water until they turn bright green, about 2-4 minutes depending on the size of your asparagus spears. When the spears are bright green and crisp-tender, use a slotted spoon to remove the asparagus from the boiling pot and place them in the ice water bath. After a few minutes, remove the spears from the ice water and allow them to drain on a few paper towels.

Mindful Eating #6: If You Think Being Fat is Bad

You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad.  Worthy of mockery.  Deserving of shame.  The worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing.  It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.

But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people or more than you did at another point in time, does not make you bad.

If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or that it requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.

While some people do become fatter for eating too much or not moving their bodies much, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.

Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is maintaining.

It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind.  It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.

It is a physical condition, and that is all.

You can lose weight.  You can gain weight.  And in the end, you choose what you believe about it.  You choose what you do about it.

I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat.  Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).

What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.

If you are fat, how do you view yourself?

Safe?  Hidden?  Protected?

Powerful?  Disabled to feel pain or sadness?  Above vanity and superficiality?

Lazy?  Glutton?  Unfortunate?  Ugly?  Victim?  Bad?

You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.

You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.

Hatred is bad.  Injustice is bad.  Bitterness is bad.

But extra weight is just extra weight.  Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.

Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.

Your body isn’t one of them.

Image from Pinterest.

AIP, Paleo, Whole30, Instapot Recipe: Sesame Garlic Beef Short Ribs

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Are you an Instant Pot fan? When you need a delicious, filling meal on the table fast but don’t have hours to wait, the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker will come to the rescue, again and again. This recipe for sesame garlic short ribs is versatile and can be served with your favorite Whole30 veggie dish. We recommend steamed greens, such as bok choy or sweet potato greens, or even a simple asparagus dish.

No Instant Pot? No problem. You can make this recipe in your slow cooker. Just see the recipe note below.

Sesame Garlic Beef Short Ribs:
Ingredients
1 lb. organic beef boneless short ribs, diced in 1″ pieces
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs. coconut aminos
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 scallions, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
Dash of white pepper
Fresh lime wedges, to garnish
1 scallion, minced, to garnish
Instructions

 

PLACE all ingredients except fresh lime wedges and one minced scallion into your electric pressure cooker, toss well and cook with the steam trapped for 15 minutes.

AFTER pressure cooker has stopped cooking, allow steam to release naturally for 15 minutes.

SERVE on a platter and garnish with fresh lime wedges and minced scallion.

 

Recipe note: If using a slow cooker, place all ingredients except fresh lime wedges and one minced scallion in your slow cooker, toss well and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the Short Ribs are finished cooking, remove them from the slow cooker, arrange them on a serving platter and garnish with fresh lime wedges and minced scallion.

Mindful Eating #5: When You Don’t Have Motivation, Try Commitment

This Mindful Eating post explores a related concept of goal-setting, be it with eating or anything else, and that is being motivated.

There seems to exists a period between inspiration and execution of goals referred to and felt as motivation.

Motivation seems to be what gets us to tackle our goals, to resist resistance, and to succeed at something (Note: I recently heard that motivation is rooted in a negative force to do something while inspiration is rooted in a positive force.  This was one speaker’s opinion and for the sake of this post, motivation and inspiration will refer to the same idea: accomplishing your goals).

Motivation is often stimulated by reading powerful stories, passionate quotes, or seeing beautiful images. It is propelling, and encouraging, and it is felt.

So, what do you do if you do not feel it?

I think many of us go through seasons of feeling motivated to eat healthy and to be active, and then through seasons where we don’t.  I certainly do.

Often, seasons of motivation are coupled by optimism, and hope, while seasons without motivation may be anxious, negative, or filled with resent.

Or, perhaps most frightening, coupled by feelings of nothing at all.

What motivates you to take care of your body?

Is it feeling well?  Having energy?  Looking pretty?  Maintaining your weight?  Do you ever go through seasons where you don’t care about these things?  If so, what keeps you committed to the cause?

Last year I made a decision to take a brisk walk outside everyday.  It wasn’t an idea that took much meditation.  In fact, it was a very simple decision that has not seemed to have much impact on my schedule or general sense of well-being.

I take a brisk walk, outside, everyday.  That’s it.

Rain or shine, convenient or not, I just do it.

I enjoy being outside, and I like going for walks, but I guesstimate that I have not felt like going for about 75% of my walks.  It has been 10.5 months since I started walking everyday, which means I haven’t felt like taking 220 out of 294 total walks.   Some of the remaining 74 walks have been anticipated, but mostly, they have just been taken because of the commitment I made to just take a daily walk.

What has been interesting to note during this period is that motivation has seemed to have very little to do with my decision to walk, and commitment has had everything to do with it.

It’s the whole, “just do it”, idea, which sometimes feels empty and uninspired, but in the end, it actually facilitates just doing it.

Walking everyday has been a relatively easy experiment  to prove that the feelings of motivation are not required to succeed at a goal.  Had I waited to feel motivated to walk, I would have probably skipped 220 walks so far.  Maybe more.

But, of course, I want to feel motivated to do the things I do, and I want to experience the reward to succeeding at my goals.  Using the experience of walking everyday, no matter what, is opening my mind up, and enlightening me to committing to other decisions, even when I do not feel like it.

Because this seems to be the gap between motivation and motivation.

What might you achieve by deciding to commit to the desires you keep thinking about?

Image from Pulptastic.

Recipe: Roasted Beet Hummus

I recently made Madeline MacKinnon’s Roasted Beet Hummus and it was AMAZING!

img_6673Vibrant red beets blended with fresh dill and lemon juice makes a delicious treat to top seed crackers, plantain chips and freshly sliced veggies.  Yum!

One thing that I love about Madeline is that her intention with recipe creation.  Every ingredient she opts to use in her recipes supports your hormones in specific ways and she does a great job at explaining what each food does and when they are optimal to consume.

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I like having this Roasted Beet Hummus anytime, but to learn more from Madeline and to grab this recipe to make for yourself, head over to her blog, I think you will really enjoy learning about eating for your cycle!

Mindful Eating #4: Eating Your Troubles Away

Some people improve their diets in an attempt to improve the troubles in their life.  This is referred to as eating your troubles away.

But the truth is, you cannot eat your troubles away.

You can eat. And eat. And eat.

But if you have troubles, and they extend beyond the trouble of physically starving, eating will cause you to feel physically satisfied, full, or very full, with the latter adding a set of new troubles to your pre-existing list of woes–these being poor digestion, stomach aches, bloating, night sweats, weight gain, and probably more.

The hope is that a better diet will solve your problems, that improving the foods you consume will improve your body, and help you think more clearly, and then its positive rewards will spill over onto the rest of your life.

Make your job easier to handle, make your relationships better, just make things better.

And we want better.  So badly.

This is the hope.  Sometimes conscious.  Often subconscious.

While it is true that eating good foods will improve your health, (maybe) improve your body composition, and help you think more clearly, it will not solve all of your problems.

You will still have troubles.

Dieting (whether simply cleaning up the foods you eat or deliberately restricting/limiting the foods you eat) can serve to distract you from your troubles, whether it is loneliness, insecurity, feeling without purpose, or feeling a loss of control in general, but if these issues are not dealt with, as fiercely as you focus on dieting, improving your eating only means that you eat better while maintaining troubles.

You will still experience loneliness, and insecurity, still feel confused about what your purpose is, and still feel anxious about not being able to control situations if you only address your diet, and not the actual troubles that are an inevitable part of being a human being.

Contrasting a tight grip on your diet, some people like to link overeating to their daily troubles. They say they eat too much because of their troubles. Because they are lonely (or sad, or happy, or bored, or overwhelmed).

I think people overeat because they like overeating. I think they may use it as an escape from their troubles, but only because it is their escape of choice. If they didn’t like overeating, the way they didn’t like drinking too much (assuming they do not abuse alcohol), they wouldn’t keep choosing to overeat.

The idea of eating your troubles away is fantastical. It’s clever, and alot of people keep trying to do it in order to improve the rest of their lives (and perhaps it is their best option until they learn coping mechanisms that actually serve them), but it should be kept in perspective.

Improving what you eat only improves what you eat.

If you want to start here, on your quest to tackle your troubles, with a better diet, absolutely go for it. But remember, you will still need to address the other areas of your life that may be going neglected now that you are so focused on food.

Your purpose, your career, your lover, your family, friends, spiritual beliefs–they are all waiting for you.

If you work to improve your diet, good, good, good!

Just don’t forget about the rest of your life.

Image from Flickr.