Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie

Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie
As much as I like to try new things in the kitchen, lately I’ve been succumbing to summertime simplicity. We’re eating well, but my efforts haven’t exactly been innovative, and I know that the basic foods we’ve been thriving on are just too boring to blog about (nobody needs me to tell them how to make tacos, for real). But this – antioxidants and omega 3s, whipped into something that tastes like a fruity chocolate milkshake? – thankfully, it’s both a new flavor and a total no-brainer.

I’m a big fan of hemp – it appeals to my classic hippie sensibilities, of course, and it’s also a nutritional powerhouse! Hemp seeds are high in fiber, rich in omega 3s, and they’re even a complete protein (soy and quinoa are the only other plants that can make this claim).
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Why You Should Be Excited About Fiber

Why You Should Be Excited About Fiber
Don’t stop reading yet! All I’ve said so far is “fiber” and I’ve already lost most of you. Most people think that fiber is just about regularity, but that’s a load of, well… you know what! It’s an important component of every diet, and most people don’t eat enough of it. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men and women eat 38 or 25 grams of fiber each day, respectively, and the latest survey data indicates that our average intake is less than half of this amount!

Even though it’s simply undigestible plant matter, fiber has a wide range of benefits – it helps keep you full and satisfied, it decreases risk of colon cancer and diverticular disease, and helps lower cholesterol levels. But in my experience, there’s one particular “fun fact” about fiber that tends to surprise and intrigue; one thing that gets people ACTUALLY EXCITED ABOUT EATING FIBER…

So what are the magic words?

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Dark Chocolate Cake with Berries & Coconut Cream

Dark Chocolate Cake with Berries and Coconut Cream
Are you looking for a way to express your gratitude to whoever invited you to this weekend’s barbeque?

Are you staring down too many pounds of fresh berries that you couldn’t resist at the farmer’s market?

Are you sick of your vegan friends getting in the way of your desire to top everything with whipped cream?

This cake is the answer to all of these questions.

This time of year, fruit pies and cobblers get all of the attention. And sure, summer fruits are worth celebrating, but why not invite chocolate to the party? Personally, I think fresh berries and dark chocolate are really complimentary flavors – antioxidants on top of antioxidants, naturally! And of course berries & cream are a classic combo (and a personal weakness of mine), so getting swept up by the whipped coconut cream sensation taking over the internet solidified the vision of my perfect mid-summer dessert. I mean, any topping that can unite the vegan and paleo communities has got to be some powerful stuff, right?

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Easy Summer Dinner: Black Bean Crunch Patties

Black Bean Crunch Patties
This healthy and quick summer meal happened last weekend after pressure-cooking a pot of black beans to stock my freezer. Black beans are the standard legume in my house; we eat them alllll the time, mostly in Mexican and Cuban-style dishes. But as I scooped the magical fruits into plastic bags flattened for efficient storage, lacking any dinner plans, I decided to set a bowl aside to get out of the rut and try something different.

I’ve been in the mood for Mediterranean food lately, and it’s been forever since I’ve had a good falafel, which in my house we refer to as “crunch patties” in honor of the classic episode of The Simpsons. And they’re perfect for light summer dining, so why not mix things up with some black beans?

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What’s the Deal with Seedless Watermelon?

Seedless Watermelon
Any dietitian can confirm this: as a profession, we RDs tend to get involved in some pretty interesting conversations with the rest of the world about food, diet, and what people choose or choose not to eat. People have a LOT to say about food! Last weekend, for example, I found myself in a conversation about seedless watermelon. I was talking to a guy who had heard that seedless varieties should be avoided due to the genetic modification that they undergo, further condemning them as less nutritious and potentially dangerous. I presented a conflicting viewpoint (to say the least), but when I later googled the issue, I found this same idea mentioned on a number of websites… so obviously it’s not an uncommon perception!

I realized that I’m actually sort of uniquely positioned to clear up this issue… see, before focusing my career on nutrition I studied biology, and during that time I happened to work a part-time job in a laboratory investigating plant genetics. So after finding out what a common misconception this is, I thought why not post here to set the record straight?

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Lemon Mint + Pineapple Kale Salad

Lemon Mint + Pineapple Kale Salad
I can’t get enough kale salad. In all seriousness, I think I might be able to actually FEEL it doing my body good. I still never get tired of my favorite kale slaw, but my repertoire seemed like it could use something a little more seasonal for summertime. This salad definitely fits the bill: all seasonal produce and so refreshing! It’s like if a pineapple mojito was a salad… not the worst way to eat a bowl of greens, right? Contine reading

Mango Cucumber Slushie

Mango Cucumber Slushie
It’s summer! And thanks to this drink, I’m cool as a cucumber. I’m all about the clean, refreshing quality of cucumbers in a cool beverage, whether it’s sliced into ice water or blended into something special like this. It makes me feel like equal parts fancy spa-goer and healthy hippie! This frosty drink is a festive way to stay hydrated in the summer heat, and to sip on some extra fruits and veggies at the same time. It’s perfect for cooling down after a workout, or just for filling your glass with something fun and fruity while relaxing on a patio… did I mention I’m excited about summer?

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Simple DIY Vinaigrette

Simple DIY Vinaigrette

Hey people! Are you feeling the warm approach of summertime? I’ve had a taste, and I am fully on board to embrace the breezy summer mindset. I’m currently still coasting on good vibes from an incredible Memorial Day weekend that involved an excess of many of the best things life has to offer: good friends, beach lounging, city exploring, burgers, beers and breakfast burritos. It was beautiful, but in the interest of balance I’ve been consequently feeling the need to stuff my face with salad.

And what better time to get excited about salad?? The warm weather simultaneously decreases our desire to turn on the oven and brings markets bursting with fresh produce so flawless that all they need is a quick chop and toss with vinaigrette. Store-bought dressings are convenient, but it’s not easy to find products without unnecessary preservatives and excess sodium. See where this is going?

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Dark Chocolate Almond Spread

Dark Chocolate Almond Spread (#hippienutella)

Let’s see if I’m totally out of line with this opinion, or if some of you can relate… I like the idea of Nutella, but in practice it’s just too over-the-top unhealthy most of the time. The stuff is overwhelmingly sweet, slick with excess oil, and frankly… not real food. I’m not above a little candy here and there, but the problem is that a nutty chocolate spread doesn’t need to be such a dietary disaster.

I had been wanting to experiment with a superior spread for a while, but I don’t have a food processor and I was wary of grinding up nuts in my blender. Luckily, Jeanine from Love and Lemons is smarter than me and recently shared a spread that circumvents this issue entirely by starting the recipe with almond butter. Duh!! I’m so thankful for the internet.

As a bonus, this is the kind of recipe I can even pass along to friends who aren’t into cooking. It’s extremely simple: Almond butter. Dark chocolate. Coconut oil. I took creative liberty and added an extra tablespoon of high-quality cocoa powder to really push the flavor, and you guys… it’s so much better than Nutella.

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Cooking with Cast Iron

Cooking with Cast Iron

In recent years, the boyfriend and I have been taking gradual steps toward reducing our exposure to risky chemicals in household products. I could write a whole post about this, as it’s much trickier than it should be, but today I wanted to share my experience with a certain kitchen-related detail.

I’m not super proud to admit this, but until very recently I had always employed a non-stick skillet as a major part of my cookware arsenal. It’s been my easy solution for cooking eggs, pancakes, quick sautes and stir fries. While the EPA does not currently attribute health risks to nonstick cookware, the potential concerns of the surface materials are enough reason for me to avoid them if possible.

Over time I’ve tried traditional Teflon pans as well as a variety of PTFE/PFOA-free cookware. While these new “greener” alternative surfaces may be promising, they also have limited research regarding their long-term safety. And as you may have guessed from my track record, I’m not only dissatisfied with the potential health implications, but I’ve also become really tired of replacing them practically every year as they wear out and lose their non-stick qualities.

So, when the surface on my last pan had reached its limit, it was time to consider my options:

  • Continue to grudgingly replace non-stick cookware and acknowledge the potential health risks? No… the madness must end!
  • Stainless steel? Maybe, but I feel like certain sticky foods will pose a challenge and I’ll find myself adding much more oil when cooking.
  • Carbon Steel? What am I, a millionaire?
  • Raw cast iron? When well-seasoned, it is a natural non-stick surface. It’s regarded for its even heat retention and unique ability to create a beautiful extra-golden crust. It even has the benefit of providing extra dietary iron with regular use. So many cooks love using cast iron… maybe it’s time for me to be one of them!

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