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.

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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.

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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

Miracle Waffles (The Fluffiest, Tastiest Almond-Maple Waffles–Gluten Free, Paleo & Heart-Healthy)

Confession: nothing makes me happier than when my healthy kitchen creations are applauded as

being “better than the real thing.” And that kind of praise is exactly what these Waffles received!

They do not contain any butter, refined white flour or wheat flour, oil, or refined white sugar—and  yet, they are fluffy, tasty, and full of protein (from the almonds).GF Almond Maple Waffle

This Waffle recipe is perfect for kids (because what kid doesn’t like waffles?!) or for boyfriends, husbands, wives, friends, parents, second cousins, or anyone else you’re seeking to impress. (Note: by ‘impress’, I mean ‘feed’.) In addition to being perfectly fluffy and mouthwateringly delicious, this recipe is…(drumroll please) HEALTHY without tasting bland! (Would you expect anything less?!)

Note: the following recipe serves about 2 people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Almond flour or Almond meal (you can make this yourself by putting almonds in the food processor; you want them grated as fine as possible)Almonds into Almond Meal Tiff's Tips
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup Almond milk or Coconut milk (organic, of course)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut powder (almond “flour” and almond meal tend to be more moist; coconut powder is a very dry powder, so I use it in moderation to assure the batter isn’t too oily; you cannot really taste the coconut)
  • ½ tablespoon raw, organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon raw, organic maple syrup (as pure as possible—just say no to Mrs. Butterworth!)
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon organic almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Non-dairy Chocolate Chips
  • Optional: 1/3 cup Frozen or fresh blueberries
This was the first "test" waffle; this is actually SO tasty you do not even need syrup!

This was the first “test” waffle; this is actually SO tasty you do not even need syrup!

Directions:

1. Heat up the old waffle iron! (If yours has settings, I always prefer a medium-low setting because it seems to cook more evenly.)

2. Mix all wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Start with whisking eggs, and add the others (the fluffier the egg mixture—the fluffier the waffles!)

3. In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. (If you are choosing to add blueberries or chocolate chips, keep them out until step 5.)

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stirring while you pour.

5. Once batter is thoroughly mixed (you can do this with a blender on low, or with a simple stirring utensil), fold in blueberries or chocolate chips (if you are adding either).

6. Spray the waffle iron with a non-stick spray of your choosing. (Be generous with your spray.)

7. Pour batter, and flip (if your waffle iron has a flipping function). It should take a few minutes to cook thoroughly.

8. Remove the fluffy masterpiece. Take a bite to make sure it tastes fabulous, then serve with organic maple syrup (butter is not needed), sprinkle with powdered sugar (I mean SPRINKLE), OR top with a berry compote!

YUM!

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!
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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!

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