The Most Refreshing Salad on Earth

Hi y’all! I hope you are well! I’ve been doing superb myself, though working a little too much. I’ll be striving for better personal-work balance from now on…and you know what that means! — More blogging! (It’s my personal way to unwind.)Image

Over the last week I have been craving salads of all sorts. I’ll post a few “unique” salad dishes for you to try, starting with this BERRY refreshing salad! (Points for being clever, right?!)

This salad is unique because it incorporates the refreshing taste of mint and the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth summery fruits. The flavors awaken your senses, the mint promotes a fast metabolism, and this salad is QUITE beautiful to look at!

Because it’s unique both in taste and in aesthetics, your guest (boyfriend? Husband? Wife?) will think you took a long time on it—when in reality it takes just a few moments to throw together. (I love easy!)

Ingredients (for a serving for 2):

½ cup blueberries, organic

½ cup strawberries, organic, halved

½ cup watermelon, cubed in 1-inch pieces

1 /2 tbsp. organic Stevia

1 tsp. honey or agave

1 tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. grated lemon or lime

½ tbsp. fresh, finely chopped mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Wash all fruit and set aside to dry.
  2. In a small bowl or dish, whisk together stevia, honey/agave, water, and lemon or lime zest. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add in the finely chopped mint leaves.
  3. Put all fruit in a serving bowl; pour the mixture over the fruit and mix thoroughly.
  4. Let the fruit sit in the fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes. (The natural sugars in the fruit are accentuated by the lemon and lime zest! This assures that the minty flavor is not too strong!)
  5. Enjoy!

Happy cooking, friends!

-Tiff

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Easy & Light Cilantro-Lime-Avocado Chili (Gluten-free, with Paleo option!)

Chili. I read somewhere that there are over 18 MILLION chili recipes on the internet. (That’s more than the number of cookbooks, nutrition articles, and wellness textbooks I own combined!)

As you know, I’m a huge fan of putting wholesome ingredients into the body. I like to be healthy. I feel best when I eat well. And I love chili. The problem? I’m not a big fan of gut-bombs that come, inevitably, from chili in a can, or chili that is made with unhealthy ingredients.

So I did us both a favor and researched recipes, and tossed out the aspects of chili that I don’t like (you know, the unhealthy ones). Then, I decimated my boyfriends’ kitchen (because it’s bigger than mine!) and tried out a few recipes.
(Yes, mom, someday, I’ll learn to clean as I cook.) 🙂mess

I looked for a recipe that was healthier than storebought chili, Paleo (which basically means it sticks to things you could find in the ground or on the ground–like fruit, veggies, and animal protein; Paleo dieters stay away from legumes, or “beans”) and gluten-free, and I wanted something that tasted really, really good. (If I’m going to eat meat, I want to eat it with purpose!)

 This chili is packed with protein (sorry to my vegan friends—this isn’t for you) and quite a bit lighter than many of the recipes I perused for inspiration.

tiffssoup

Ingredients:
1 Pound grass fed beef, ground (organic)
-32 oz. beef stock, LOW or no sodium
-1 chopped onion
-1 can of organic crushed tomatoes, low or no sodium
-3 organic bell peppers (I used red and yellow, for some varying color)
-1 tablespoons chili powder (or more, to taste…I think I put something like 3 tablespoons total, but I like a LOT of flavor)
-2 tablespoons of cumin
-1 tsp. pepper
-1 tbsp. minced garlic (organic)
-1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
-1/4 lemon, freshly squeezed
-1/4 lime, freshly squeezed
-Optional: 1-2 cans of organic black beans (reduced sodium)* this makes the diet no longer Paleo, but still quite delicious!
-Garnish: cilantro, a freshly squeezed lime wedge, and avocado

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, cook the ground beef. Drain excesss liquids (and try to remove “excess fat”. Finish cooking when the meat is thoroughly cooked, and turn off heat. Set aside.
  2. Chop the onion into fine pieces. (Chew bread when you chop the onion…I cry every time!!) Chop the bell peppers as well.
  3. Add the meat, the now chopped onion and bell pepper into a large soup pan (is that the correct terminology!?). Add the beef broth/stock, stewed tomatoes, minced garlic, chili powder, pepper, cumin, lemon, lime, and Himalayan salt. (If your variation will include beans, add them at this point.)
  4. Bring the saucepan (with all ingredients) to a boil. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, then turn to medium-low and cover for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water or additional broth if the mixture becomes too thick for your liking.
  5. Once the chili has cooked enough to fill your house with the sweet aromas of cumin, lime, and beef,  pour the chili into bowls and top with cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. Serving size: approximately 6-8
  6. Enjoy!

Note: Because of the added spices, this chili is one of those fabulous meals that gets better with time. Though this chili should be eaten within a week or so, it will be AMAZING on day two because those spices really enrich the meat. Yum!

Note: This recipe is great for eating on a later date if you freeze it. To freeze, simply combine cooked mixture in a freezable container. To thaw, set out on the counter for at least 2 hours; then toss in the microwave or warm over stove.

Gluten Free, Healthier Version of Boston Cream Pie (Cupcakes!) (P.S. GO USA)

Tiffs Tips Boston

Like all of you, the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing chaos has struck a chord with me.

I am so thankful it is over—and I felt that this recipe would be an appropriate way to celebrate the FBI’s capture, while honoring the innocent victims and their families.

Sure, it isn’t the healthiest thing I’ve ever made, but sometimes life calls for a little bit of sugar.

This healthier version of Boston’s most famous dessert is dedicated to the people who were (and who are) affected by the marathon bombings, and to the people everywhere who pray for the condition of this country and this world.

The way I cope with grief is to pray, to run, and then to bake (in that order), and nothing seemed more fitting to bake than Boston’s most famous dessert.Boston Tiffs Tips

Tiffs Tips boston cream pie 2

Ingredients:
Cake:

  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Cake Mix and the ingredients it calls for (3 eggs, veggie oil, and good ol’ H2O)

Better-Than-Store-bought Vanilla Pudding:

  • 1/3 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk (or substitute for a Rice or Soy milk; I did not try this with Almond or Coconut milk, but if you do please post results!)
  • 3 large organic egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted grass fed butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extractGluten Free Cake Mix
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamonPaleo, Rich Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extractDirections:
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Prepare the gluten free yellow cake mix according to the instructions. Spray and lightly flour cupcake tins, and pour cake batter evenly into tins (about 3/4 full, like you would for a cupcake). Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • While cupcakes are baking, prepare the pudding center:
    1. In heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, eggs and sugar. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook the pudding for about five minutes, until it firms some.
    2. Remove from heat; then, once mixture has cooled, add the butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
      Beat well until the butter melts. Set aside.
  • Clean your kitchen (mine is always a MESS mid-baking). Once the cupcakes are finished baking, take them out of the oven and place each cupcake on a wire rack to cool
  • While cupcakes are cooling, make the Paleo, Rich, Creamy Chocolate Frosting.
    1. Mix dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and vanilla extract over low heat for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate chips are dissolved.
    2. Place the mixture in a refrigerator-safe bowl and let harden in the fridge for about 25 minutes, until cool but not hard.
    3. Using a handheld blender, mix frosting until it is light and frothy.
    4. While frosting is hardening, cut cupcakes in half width wise. Spread a layer of pudding on cupcakes and sandwich in between cupcakes.
    5. Top cupcakes with chocolate frosting.
    6. Serve to friends while watching the Red Sox play, eat, and then go for a run!
  • Show support, send prayers, and eat Boston Cream Pie. Oh, and one more thing before I post the recipe: God Bless America.
    Boston Cream Cupcakes Tiffs Tips

Basil, Chicken, Lemon, Pesto Pasta (Gluten Free with Vegan Option) made with Spaghetti Squash

Whether you are gluten free because of a sensitivity or Celiac, or perhaps because of something else (like a child who has a learning disability—which many doctors say  going gluten-free can help with), or even if you are a pasta loving wheat-a-holic: this recipe is hands down, five stars (or five mason jars—because this is Tiff’s Tips and not the Oscars)!

It is so good, in fact, that if you do not tell your kids that this “pasta” comes from a vegetable, they will never know. (Now, I am not advocating lying because I think that’s immoral—but sometimes what they don’t know, won’t hurt ‘em)!
Image

Basil Pesto Lemon Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)
Note: the following ingredients make 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash (these make a surprising amount of spaghetti)
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder (organic, of course)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (or tomatoes of any kind)
  • 2 chicken breasts (ideally—organic, unprocessed, locally-sourced)* for vegan option, simply omit the chicken
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Pine nuts
  • 2 lemons
  • Spinach

 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F

2. Very carefully (I mean very carefully, and with a large knife—or axe) cut the spaghetti squash in two. (This is the hardest part of the whole recipe…you can do it!). (Note: I was kidding about the axe.)Image

3. Once cut in half, brush both interior sides with olive oil (just a pinch), and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

4. Put the squash onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes (I would ere on the side of 40; the longer you bake it, the more squash it will make—just make sure the squash is not mushy when prodded with a fork).

5. While squash is cooking, make pesto with a food processor, Vitamix, or Blentec by combining 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1-2 squeezed lemons, garlic powder (I used about ½ tsp.), some pepper, a dash of salt, basil, and spinach. (Note: you can buy pesto if you’d like; I had difficulty finding Pesto without cheese, hence why I made it.) Play with the flavors until you like the taste! Set pesto aside.

6. Sauté chicken over stove; add in chopped tomatoes, and spoon in about half of your pesto mixture.

7. Once spaghetti is finished take sheet out and set aside; let cool for 3-5 minutes (until you can safely touch the squash without being harmed). With a fork, scrape out squash (length-wise).Image

7a. (Yes, I was a bit of a nerd growing up, so there is a ‘7a’.) Spaghetti will come out easily. Have a bowl ready to put spaghetti strings in. If clumps gather, separate them. Scrape the entire squash with your trustee fork.

8. Mix the remaining pesto with the pasta, any additional lemon juice, and chicken (if you’re going the chicken route); serve warm and enjoy!

 

 

Monkey Balls (Recipe) Hostess with the Mostess: Guilt-free Friday Recipe

Hostess with the Mostess

MONKEY BALLSMonkey ball cookie1
These petite sweets pair my knowledge of nutrition with my love of universally delicious
desserts! They work as cookies—as they satisfy any sweet tooth—but they are secretly
quite nutritious! Egg-free, Dairy-free, Butter-free, Guilt-free…and absolutely delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
• 4 medium ripe bananas
• 2 ½ cups Oatmeal (non-instant; I prefer Quaker) or 2 ½ cups Quinoa flakes
• 2 tbsp. Splenda (or another sugar substitute—I’m still searching for my favorite)
• 1 tsp. Vanilla extract (or imitation Vanilla extract)
• 2 tbsp. Better’N Peanut Butter (I love this stuff because it’s only 80 calories for 2 tbsp., it’s all natural, low sodium, and very tasty) or 2 tbsp. Peanut Butter of any kind
• ½ tsp. of salt
• 2 tsp. of cinnamon
• 1 tsp. of agave or honey
• A handful dairy free chocolate chips (I use Chocolate Dream)
• Optional: ½ cup flaked coconut, ½ cup chopped dates, ½ cup dried cranberries, or ½ cup chopped nuts (I’m a big fan of trying something new each time I make these delightful treats!)
• Optional: 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed* (this will not affect the taste; this simply adds to the nutritional benefit!)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350◦.
2. In a large bowl, peel and mash the bananas using a potato masher or fork.
3. Add Vanilla extract and Better’N Peanut butter to the banana mixture. Using a blender on low, or using a stirring utensil, assure that the ingredients are evenly mixed. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (Oatmeal, salt, Splenda—or sugar substitute, and any additional “Optional” ingredients)
5. Pour dry ingredients into the banana mixture. Mix together evenly.
6. Using a spoon, form the mixture into balls (measuring 1-2 inches in diameter). Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed, lightly).
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes (or until slightly crisp on the outside). Once out of the oven, allow the cookies to cook on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. Store once they are completely cool (this will keep them from getting soggy). Store in the fridge, or in a closed container on the counter.
8. Enjoy being the Hostess with the Mostess!