Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue

Does anybody else feel like this coooold March on the East Coast keeps dragging?  Well, it is still National Nutrition Month, so we might as well keep working on our summer bodies while we wait for the weather to warm up. Speaking of warm, I have another healthy, guilt-free substitute to feed cravings for CHOCOLATE.  This time, it’s a recipe for dessert!

Whether you are craving a bit of a treat after a savory meal OR you are entertaining for a dinner party, this dish will be a hit……hot chocolate fondue!   That melty, sweet, rich, and even a bit savory sensation will have you licking your bowls and fingers.  Not only is it guilt-free, it has many health benefits too!  (See below.)

I started with Barely Bread’s 100% Grain-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel.  I simply sliced, lightly toasted, and diced the bread.  (I used some berries for dipping as well to add flavor, antioxidants, and color.) Then I heated up the chocolate mixture over the stove.  And, that’s it-almost too easy:  A satisfying chocolate, health-conscious desert that is higher in protein, good fat and fiber than most traditional dishes, and has many more nutrition benefits than the original version.

Here some the health benefits of this recipe’s ingredients:

Barely Bread: Not only is it gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and have an amazing flavor, the higher protein and good fat content help you feel fuller longer than regular white bread.  It is also lighter and easier to digest than many traditional loaves or bagels.

Dark Chocolate:  Dark chocolate is a good source of soluble fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and also contains potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.  It contains a variety of strong antioxidants.  It may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.  It also can decrease bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and decrease overall cardiovascular disease risk.  Studies also show that it can improve blood flow to and hydration of the skin and protect against sun damage.  By increasing blood flow to the brain, it may improve cognitive function.  And let’s not forget how GREAT chocolate tastes!

Coconut Sugar: This sweetener is made by boiling and dehydrating the sap from the flowers of coconut trees.  It is all natural (with nothing artificial added), is NOT chemically altered, and earth friendly.  Coconut trees require small amounts of fuel and water and can produce this sugar for over 20 years (while sugar cane production requires a lot of fuel).  Although it does contain the same number of calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar, it has more nutrition benefits.  First, it is not as refined and altered as white sugar.  Second (unlike white sugar), it has small amounts of vitamin C, inositol (B vitamin), calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, as well as phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Coconut sugar also has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, meaning it will cause less spikes in blood sugar.  It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber beneficial to gut health.  It also has a lower fructose content than other sweeteners, such as agave and high fructose corn syrup.  (Fructose is the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit.  However, since it can turn to fat quickly, overconsumption in other foods is not recommended.) 

Coconut sugar also has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, meaning it will cause less spikes in blood sugar.  It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber beneficial to gut health.  It also has a lower fructose content than other sweeteners, such as agave and high fructose corn syrup.  (Fructose is the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit.  However, since it can turn to fat quickly, overconsumption in other foods is not recommended.) 

Coconut Oil:  This healthy fat improves digestion and metabolism.  The type of fat it contains is called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).  Studies have shown these MCTs can burn calories quicker than other sources of fat, thus ultimately leading to weight loss over the long term.  They also keep you fuller longer and can reduce appetite and calorie intake, as well as decrease abdominal fat.  Coconut oil is also has antibacterial properties, is high in antioxidants, and Vitamin E, and is great for skin and hair. 

Chocolate Fondue
Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces (1 bar) of dark chocolate (I have used Eating Evolved, Hu Kitchen, and Juice Press. All are more than 70% cacao and sweetened with coconut sugar.)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (if desired OR you can use already salted chocolate)

Directions:

  1. Place coconut oil in a saucepan on VERY low heat and allow it to melt.
  2. Break apart chocolate bar and begin to stir continuously.
  3. Add vanilla and salt (if desired).
  4. Remove from heat immediately after all is melted and transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl.
  5. Using toothpicks (or traditional fondue sticks, or just a fork), dip Barely Bread chunks and fruit in chocolate as desired!****This warm chocolate would also taste great drizzled over pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt, a smoothie, nut butter and toast, or anywhere else you would like to use chocolate.  ENJOY!!
Slim Sloppy Joes

Slim Sloppy Joes

It is still March, National Nutrition Month.  (Even though here in NYC and the rest of the East Coast, it looks like the dead of winter under the spell of Storm Stella!)  I am continuing to focus on healthy, guilt-free substitutes to feed cravings for traditional favorite dishes.  That way we can at least begin dreaming about nice weather and start to work on our summer bodies!

Do you ever crave a warm, hearty, savory sandwich for lunch?  Perhaps you fear the calories OR that heavy, sleepy feeling you experience after eating a giant meatball sub, or a greasy burger on a white bun.  ENTER my new recipe for…….Sloppy Joes! 

I started with Barely Bread’s 100% Grain-Free Savory Roll (flavored with hints of garlic and onion).  I simply sliced and toasted the bread, added about 6 ounces of my Slim Sloppy Joe mix and added a couple slices of bell peppers for crunch.  And, voila:  A filling, hearty, savory, HOT lunch full of protein and vegetables that is good for your mind, body, and digestion!

Here are some the bonus benefits of this recipe’s ingredients versus traditional ones:

Barely Bread: Not only is it gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and have an amazing flavor, the higher protein and good fat content help you feel fuller longer than regular white rolls or sandwich bread.

Ground Chicken:  Lean ground chicken meat has lower calories, fat, and cholesterol than regular red meat.  With all the flavor packed it this recipe, I promise, you will not miss the traditional ingredient. 

Vegetables:  Whenever and wherever you can add veggies (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies), just do it.  Not only do they help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs, they are packed with fiber which is great for digestion and helping keep you fuller longer.  (FYI:  Peppers are great sources of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Vitamin B6.  Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamins A, E, K, B2, B6, iron, magnesium, folate, potassium, and calcium.  It has anti-inflammatory properties, and its chlorophyll content may help increase satiety.  Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A and have cardiovascular health, vision health, and antioxidant benefits.)  In this recipe, the vegetables also take up volume, which means instead of eating straight protein, part of your meat serving is made up of low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables, which decreases overall calories and increases feelings of fullness. 

Cayenne Pepper: This packs a punch of flavor without added salt or calories.  PLUS spicy foods may help increase metabolism.

Apple Cider Vinegar:  Acids in ACV can improve digestion and deter growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.  

Maple Syrup:  I use this (and organic mustard) instead of using refined white sugar and/or ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. (Condiments such as these often have added sugar, corn syrup, salt, additives, and preservatives.)  Yes, it is sweet, but it is unrefined and all natural.  It contains more beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than refined white sugar or corn syrup.  Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  It is also easier on digestion than refined sugars. 

Slim Sloppy Joes
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic lean ground chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots chopped
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I used yellow, but feel free to try others!)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste, as desired

 

Directions:

  1. Place olive oil in a pot, and add chopped onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium heat with constant stirring until onions are clear and begin to brown.
  2. Add carrots, followed by bell peppers, and stir up so each is cooked a bit (about 5 minutes total).
  3. Add chicken meat to pot, stirring consistently until it becomes opaque and begins to brown (about 6-8 minutes).
  4. Stir in spinach.
  5. Add tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Continue to stir until mixture thickens a bit (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  7. Place on toasted Barely Bread rolls with a few slices of bell pepper. ENJOY!

****  This mixture would also taste great over any noodle of your choice (rice, zucchini, sweet potato, whole wheat), stuffed into a bell pepper or zucchini boat, or in a lettuce, whole grain, or grain-free wrap or tortilla, or on top of a sweet or baked potato. 

French Bread Pizza

French Bread Pizza

It’s March: National Nutrition Month! For 2017, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics slogan is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” I have decided to focus on healthy substitutes to find the best FOODS that are not only healthy, but also similar to our traditional favorite dishes. This way we all can enjoy them guilt free!

Remember French Bread Pizza? That crunchy outside with all the melty cheese and toppings? It was sooo good that we even used to look forward to the school cafeteria version. Today I created a much healthier option, and OMG it was so good that I ate it all up for lunch!

I started with Barely Bread’s garlic and onion baguette. I sliced and toasted the bread, added a few tablespoons of Rao’s marinara sauce, chopped broccoli and orange bell pepper, shredded Organic Valley parmesan cheese, Applegate Farms turkey pepperoni and red chili flakes.  

Then I placed the baguette in the oven on broil until the cheese melted and began to bubble. You could also use a toaster oven for this step. Now eat up and read on!

Here are all the bonus benefits of these ingredients versus the traditional ones:

Barely Bread:
Not only is it gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and have an amazing flavor, the higher protein and good fat content help you feel fuller longer than regular white bread pizza crust.

Rao’s: 
I love this sauce because of its great flavor and no added sugar, which (surprise!?) is often added to sauces sold in the supermarket. (That’s why I say: ALWAYS read ingredient labels!)

Vegetables
Whenever and wherever you can add veggies (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies), just do it.  Not only do they help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs, they are full of fiber which is great for digestion and helping keep you fuller longer.  (FYI:  Orange peppers are great sources of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Vitamin B6.  Broccoli is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and a good source of Vitamin A, folic acid, and potassium.)

Parmesan Cheese: 
Because this is a stronger tasting cheese than the mozzarella traditionally used on pizza, you can use much less of it.  The great news is that it is much easier to digest. Due to its long aging process, much of the protein and the fat has already been broken down, or “pre-digested”. Parmesan also does NOT contain lactose. This means those who are lactose intolerant can enjoy without discomfort as well!  Also, the fat and cholesterol content are much lower in Parmesan than some other cheeses.

Turkey Pepperoni: 
This Applegate Farms product has NO nitrites or nitrates added, no preservatives, and is gluten and casein free. Their meat has no antibiotics and no added hormones. Adding extra protein, especially one with a string flavor, helps with satiety too.

Red Chili Flakes:
These pack a punch of flavor without added salt or calories.  PLUS spicy foods may help increase metabolism.

Enjoy your new French Bread Pizza! I know I will be making this one again soon!

 

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Superfoods for Heart Health

Superfoods for Heart Health

Since February is American Heart Month, I wanted to share with you some amazing heart-healthy foods. Each of these ingredients is great on its own, BUT they are all found together in one of my favorite new products: Supernola, which is a new superfood granola. Check out these ingredients and some Supernola recipes below!

Chia Seeds
Full of antioxidants, these small seeds provide more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant, packing more protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese than all other foods. They also help to regulate insulin levels, and provide a feeling fullness. 

 

Flax Seeds
These brown seeds contain a significant amount of fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.  Due to their lignan content, they are a great anti-inflammatory food, and may help lower cholesterol levels. Be sure to grind flax seeds so your body can easily digest and absorb their nutrients!

 

Natural Almonds
These delicious and nutritious nuts are higher in vitamin E, manganese and protein than other nuts.  Adding almonds to your diet has been proven to lower your LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, which is involved in creating plaques in your coronary arteries that can cause heart attacks.

 

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
This superfood oil is not only known to promote healthy cholesterol levels, help boost the immune system through anti-microbial lauric acid, and boost energy, but it is easily digestible and may help your body burn fat. Be sure to get unrefined, cold-pressed organic coconut oil, and not the refined or ‘high heat’ versions.

 

Walnuts
Alpha-linoleic acid in walnuts acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It has actually been shown to help reduce plaque buildup in coronary arteries, so these nuts help to keep your arteries clear. They are also known to improve brain function.

 

Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon is amazingly healthy, as it has been found to have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.  It may also improve digestion, lower blood sugar levels, improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin, lower cholesterol and boost memory.

Easy Chia Pudding: Serves 1

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup almond or coconut milk (or other milk of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract for flavor

Top with Supernola (flavor of choice)
Optional: Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

In a jar, mix chia seeds, milk, and vanilla well. Let sit overnight, shaking at least twice. Layer with Supernola, spices, and top with antioxidant-rich berries!

Energizing Breakfast Parfait: Serves 1

  • ½ cup yogurt – Greek or coconut yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
  • ¼ cup Supernola (flavor of choice)
  • Top with seasonal fruits or berries and shredded coconut

Layer ingredients and enjoy!

Grain and Dairy Free ‘Cereal’ Bowl: Serves 1

  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ cup Supernola (flavor of choice)
  • Optional: Seasonal fruits or berries

Don’t worry, it won’t get soggy! Get creative and use exotic fruits in season at your local food store or farm!

Trouble with portion control? Supernola comes in pre-measured single serving bags to make your life easier, and your eating balanced!

Click on the link below to order your Supernola now! Use the discount code: ROBINBARRIE to get 20% off!!!!

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Chicken Zucchini Boats

Chicken Zucchini Boats

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to pick up lunch at a market we like in Westchester. I was getting my usual salad, and he decided on a zucchini boat, which happened to look delicious. As we sat down to eat, I of course had to taste his dish. Yes, it was pretty tasty, but with its red meat, extra cheese and breadcrumbs, it was not something I would select to eat on a regular basis.  BUT I had a feeling I could make my own healthier version.  So I got to work this past week and came up with this simple recipe which was a hit in my house. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 
Ingredients:
-3 zucchini, ends removed, sliced lengthwise, and inside seeds scooped out
-1 pound ground chicken meat (you can use lean ground beef or lean turkey, but I prefer chicken)
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 tbsp olive oil or cooking spray (to coat pan and baking tray)
-3/4 cup Rao’s marinara sauce (or other red sauce you like)
-1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
-1/4 cup grated/shredded Parmesan cheese
-red chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste (as desired)
 
Directions: 
1.  Sauté chopped onion over medium heat in coated pan (olive oil or cooking spray) until onions appear clear and start to brown. 
2.  Add ground chicken to pan. Continue to stir until meat is mostly cooked.  (It’s preferred that it is more under versus overcooked at this point as it will have time to cook more in the oven.)
3.  Add marinara sauce to chicken and onions. 
4.  Place zucchini boats on an oiled baking tray (olive oil or cooking spray and begging to fill with chicken mixture. 
5.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cook boats for 40 minutes.
6.  At 35 minutes remove from oven and add sprinkled cheeses as desired.  Place oven on brooks for the last 2 minutes to melt cheese and brown as desired. 
7.  Remove from oven.  Add spices if desired and enjoy!  Don’t forget to make extra because they may even be better as leftovers the next day!  

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Green Egg Salad

Green Egg Salad

I have always been a fan of “salads”: tuna salad, chicken salad, and egg salad. And I will admit that I do enjoy the taste of mayonnaise. Since it is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, I love finding alternative recipes to make healthy, but tasty dishes. With tuna I often use olive oil, lemon juice, and vegetables. This morning I tried something different with eggs: I used avocado. Since avocado is a fat like mayonnaise, it has a similar “mouth feel”, so I found it to be very satisfying! Give this a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:
-3 boiled egg whites
-1/2 small avocado
-salt and pepper to taste
-squeeze of lemon juice
-red chili flakes
-4 sliced cherry tomatoes

Directions:
Chop up three egg whites in a bowl. Mash in avocado with a fork. Squeeze in the juice of a sliced lemon wedge. Add salt and pepper to taste, and red chili flakes if desired. Spread on a rice cake, all grain bread, or place on top of a salad. Top with cherry tomatoes. Feel free to add other chopped vegetables too, such as onion, pepper, celery, or even kale. Enjoy!!!

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