Light & Filling (+ Delicious) Springtime Lime-Cilantro-Quinoa Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Heart-healthy)

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Quinoa has been dubbed the “Supergrain of the future” by nutritionists—and I totally agree. It was first discovered around 3,000 years ago by the Incas—who realized the seed (yes, it’s a seed) was safe for human consumption. So, though it seems relatively “new” to modern day Americans (many thanks to the pasta that has hogged the grocery shelves for so long), quinoa has ancient roots—and it is extremely healthy.

Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, it contains nearly twice the fiber as other grains, it contains high iron, it’s rich in magnesium, and it’s high in Riboflavin (vitamin B2)—which improves energy and metabolism.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, as a runner with a big race coming up, it is crucial to “carb up”—and quinoa is one of the best carbs out there.

This recipe is light, fresh, and definitely one of my “go-to” meals before a big event. I’ll post more recipes with quinoa in the future (seriously, the seed is so versatile that it can be eaten as oatmeal or baked in a casserole—there are no limits to quinoa’s reach!).

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt
    2 cups halved cherry tomatoesImage
    ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 finely chopped geren onions
  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 2 teaspoons organic garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Boil quinoa as per directions (different brands very slightly on length of time). Drain quinoa after boiling, then set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and lime juice. Once whisked, pour over quinoa and mix thoroughly. Image
  3. Combine finely chopped green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and chopped spinach. Mix with quinoa.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on quinoa (cumin, salt, and garlic).
  5. Once quinoa is thoroughly mixed, serve and enjoy!

    Note: Though the Quinoa seed is gluten-free, it is sometimes processed in places that also process foods that contain gluten.

    Quinoa
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Gluten-Free, Heart-Healthy, Vegan Garlic Avocado Hummus (the perfect Dip, Spread, or Dressing!)

Honest moment: I love dips. (Who doesn’t!?) Dips just make eating veggies so much more fun.
What I don’t love are the over-processed, additive-laden, high-sodium dips that line many of the supermarket shelves.

In general, I suggest store bought hummus as a healthier alternative to other dressings—but it can be expensive, and even the stuff branded as “healthy” can have high fructose corn syrup, tons of sodium, and other not-so-great ingredients.

So…I decided to give homemade hummus a whirl. Like everything I make, I gave it a little twist.

This is a hearty spread with tons of protein, fiber, and flavor! I’d recommend a serving size being about 2 tablespoons, and trust me—this will fill you! (Note: Even though this hummus is filled with good stuff, it should be consumed in moderation because of its calorie content!)

Enjoy!
avocadohummustiffstips

Ingredients:

  • 4 15-oz cans of drained garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Tahini Paste/Sesame seed butter
  • 2 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. minced cilantro
  • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan salt, or to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • The zest (grated skin) of a small lemon (ZZZZZest!)
  • 1 tbsp. minced basil leaves
  • ½ large Avocado or 1 small avocado
  • 1 organic tomato, chopped, to top the hummus as presentation

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
2. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least four hours. (The flavors strengthen overnight.)
3. Chop tomato, and serve on top of hummus (optional)
4. Enjoy being the “coolest mom ever” when you serve this to your kids…or the “favorite employee” when people try to steal your lunch.

Note: if you keep your hummus in an airtight container in the fridge, it will last for around a week. Save money on shopping and know what you’re eating!

Eat this with…veggies, like bell peppers, carrots, celery, chopped jicama, and more! Or, use up to 2 tbsp. as a hearty salad dressing. If you eat whole wheat bread, this makes for a wonderful “mayo” substitute to spice up any healthy turkey sandwich! ENJOY!

Better-Than-Anything (Gluten-Free, Vegan, & Paleo) Chocolate-Banana-Almond Milkshake

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This shake is a perfect cure for even the most insatiable sweet tooth—and yet, it won’t derail your healthy eating efforts! Almond butter is lower in fat than peanut butter but contains a high amount of protein. (Side note: almond butter is approved on the Paleo diet while peanut butter is not—because peanuts are technically legumes, not nuts!) In addition, the ground flax sneaks in a good bit of fiber! This thick shake makes a perfect meal, and if you share with a friend—it makes an amazing dessert! This is mom-approved because of the nutritional benefits and kid-approved because, well, it’s delicious!

Ingredients:
1 ½-2 ripe organic bananas, sliced, chopped into 1-2 inch. Pieces and frozen (this makes the shake thicker because the consistency of blended frozen bananas is similar to ice cream)
2 cups almond milk (or coconut milk) (preferably unsweetened)
2 tbsp. almond butter (either make your own with almonds in a food processor, or go with all organic, unsweetened, no sodium almond butter)
2 tbsp. dairy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life) melted
1 tbsp. ground flax (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 tbsp. honey (organic)
½ tsp. organic, gluten-free vanilla extract
Optional: 3-4 chopped, pitted dates for additional sweetness

Directions:
1. Peel, chop and freeze bananas for at least an hour.
2. Melt the dairy free chocolate chips in the microwave until it becomes a liquid—about fifteen seconds.
3. Combine all ingredients into a Blendtec or blender.
4. Enjoy!

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)!
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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!

 

 

Heart-Healthy Absolutely Amazing Avocado Wrap (Healthified) with Vegan Option

Absolutely Amazing Avocado Wrap (Healthified) (with Vegan Option)
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Most Avocado wraps I’ve tasted go something like this: some avocado, veggies, and meat of some sort (or Tofu) wrapped in a dry tortilla. While these are often branded as ‘healthy’, the carbohydrates in the typically-refined tortilla are not my idea of ‘good’, ‘whole’ or ‘pure’.

Avocados can help you maintain lower cholesterol, improve your eye health, they are stellar for your heart, they regulate blood sugar levels, and they even help assure healthy babies (shout out to all of my pregnant friends). In addition, they are a great source of those monounsaturated fat (which, experts say, is important for maintaining clear, healthy skin)!

This recipe makes for a fantastic lunch, snack, or dinner item; it is easy, healthy, and incredibly tasty! Kid-Approved, Boyfriend-Approved, Mom-Approved, and totally heart-healthy!

Ingredients: Image
-2 avocados (organic, preferably, though avocados are one of the less-genetically engineered foods)
-3 organic tomatoes
-1/2 clove garlic
-1/2 onion
-Cilantro
-Himalayan Salt (this provides iodine without sodium; helps with cleansing and attaining a healthy immune system)
-Pepper to taste
-1 lime
-Shaved, all natural turkey slices (as pure as possible, please!) or, to make this vegetarian (and vegan), several large pieces of iceberg lettuce or cabbage

Directions:
1. Peel avocados; cut into long strips
2. Finely chop onion; mince garlic clove; finely chop tomatoes. Mix the three ingredients together.
3. Lay out Turkey (or Lettuce or Cabbage) flat on a table; lay 1-3 Avocado strips on each piece (depending on how large of surface you have).
4. Once avocado is laid out, spoon mixture of garlic, onion, and tomato over each avocado. Top with Himalayan salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro and lime.
5. Roll the wraps and enjoy!

Tiffs Tips Ratings

Super Scrumptious Sweet Potato Fries

Super Scrumptious Sweet Potato Fries
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I don’t know any child (or adult, for that matter) who doesn’t like fries. Unfortunately, consuming deep-fried french fries (often pumped with not-so-good additives and preservatives to keep them ‘fresh’ at restaurants and fast food joints) is terrible for your health.

To find a viable cure–and to help you all get your ‘fry fix’ I decided to turn to my good friends, Sweet Potatoes. They are complex carbohydrates, and you can buy them organic (read: without all of the preservatives). Not to mention, these are made with olive oil, which is good for your digestive system and contributes to heart health.

Of course, my favorite part of these fries is that you can sneakily give them to kids (or your boyfriend, as in my case!) and actually nourish them (when they think they are eating a ‘treat’).

I made three types of sweet potato fries; please read and decide which you (or your guests) would prefer! Then, whip them up and enjoy!

Options: Cinnamon (Sweet) Sweet Potato Fries; Cumin-Paprika-Italian Seasoned Fries; Garlic-Sea Salt Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:
Note: Please read the ingredients for the fries you would like to make! Follow the directions to step 3, then use the spices required for your fries of choice!

For All of the Fries:

  • Olive oil (1/2 tbsp. per potato)
  • Himalayan Pink salt, Kosher salt, or organic sea salt (which ever you prefer…for the record, Himalayan Pink salt gives you the benefit of iodine without the drawbacks and sodium of the other stuff!)
  • Organic corn starch (1/4 tsp. per potato)
  • Parchment paper
  • Cookie sheet

For the Sweet, Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Cumin
  • ½ tsp. Pepper

For the Cumin-Paprika-Italian Seasoned Fries:

  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tsp. fresh organic Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. organic Garlic Powder

For the Garlic-Sea Salt Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1/2 tbsp. organic Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

 

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and cut 3 large (or 5 small) sweet potatoes. (Cut into ‘fry’ shapes.) Put fry wedges into a large plastic bag (a simple Ziploc should do).

2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and corn starch. (I use a ratio of 1/2 tbsp. olive oil per potato and 1/4 tsp. organic corn starch per potato.) Once mixed together, pour mixture (it will be somewhat paste-like) into the plastic bag. Toss the bag (your kids can help with this!) to assure that all fries are covered in a light layer of olive oil.

3. Once fries are covered in olive oil mixture, place in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet. (This part is the most time consuming…but I promise it’s worth it!) Once fries are all laid out, sprinkle half of the spice-mixture over the fries.

4. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. At 15 minutes, turn the fries over and sprinkle the remaining spices over the fries. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until crisp to your liking.

5. Enjoy with your favorite organic ketchup (recipe for ketchup coming soon)!
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Deceptively Healthy Dessert

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Behold: Frozen banana drizzled with warm Better N’Peanut Butter, organic Agave nector and sprinkled with nuts…

This tasty treat is roughly 160 calories, low in sodium, and the only sugar comes from Agave and the banana. Can you say YUM!?

The secret is in the Better N’Peanut Butter – an all natural miracle product that is less than half the calories of regular Peanut Butter. You can find this at Trader Joe’s (or Trader Darwin’s–depending on where you live)!

Enjoy nourishing your body AND tastebuds!