vegetables

Rock Thanksgiving With These Drinks and Apps!

Well Thanksgiving is nearly here, and if yours is anything like most friends and family will descend upon an agreed upon location, all hauling heavy, over-the-top dishes that almost universally contain extra sweetness and a higher-than-usual volume of carbohydrates!

It’s a celebration meal designed for giving thanks, but instead we often find ourselves crying, “uncle!” at the hands of a feast low in quality nutrition and very high in sugar and calories. Either that, or you find yourself getting inquisitive stares from across the table as they notice your plate isn’t piled high enough to block your view!

BUT NOT THIS YEAR WE SAY! Start planning now to freshen up the variety and the quality of the meal, and most at the table will probably thank you for it!

Appetizers!

Time to get your appetizer vocabulary up to speed! Crudites (kroo-dee-tay) is a French word that means a vegetable that can be cut into sticks, thin slices, or bite size pieces and served with a cold dip. Try this easy, healthy, avocado hummus dip! Blend 2 avocados, 1 can drained chickpeas, ¼ c lemon juice and olive oil, and 1.5 TBSP tahini (optional). Salt/Pepper to taste.

Prep double the veggies and double down on another dip with this excellent version of spinach dip! No Mayo, no cream cheese or sour cream!

Check out the recipe here!

Baked Blooming Onion! Who can resist snagging a piece of a blooming onion?? Try a healthier version by baking and plating with a greek yogurt based dip. Cut the base off an onion, cutting into 12-16 sections (not cutting all the way through) and “flower” the petals, dredge in 2 egg white wash, and coat with ¼ c panko + ¼ c ground almonds + 1/8 c parmesan and spices. Bake 40-45 minutes at 375.
Find the recipe here!

Want a dip with a kick? Combine 8oz plain greek yogurt + 1 tsp sriracha sauce + 1 tbsp parsley.

Drinks!

Add 1 shot of vodka over ice, mix 16 oz water with an “on-the-go” packet of Crystal Light or Similar powder. Pour half the mix over the vodka/ice and add a splash of lemon-lime or ginger ale soda. Toss in a blender for a blended drink! Get creative with your favorite flavors. Only about 110 calories: Cheers!

Combine a packet of Swiss Miss 25 Calorie hot chocolate mix, 3/4 Cup Hot Water and 1 Peppermint Stick. Ready to kick back with something a little more? Add a quick shot of vodka, but keep in mind that will set you back an additional 100 calories. You decide what it’s worth!

Leftovers!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving? This year, buy a BIGGER turkey and rock those leftovers (or snag unwanted leftovers from the host)! Check out these great Ellipse Fitness recipes to use that leftover turkey!

Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Tortilla Soup

All About Herbs!

Last week we talked about a lot of unusual produce you might find at the Farmers’ Market or grocery store (read here if you missed it!), but herbs are another great item to source from your local market or store. When it comes time to discuss vitamin and mineral content of foods or antioxidant rich sources herbs are often forgotten, but they can be a great source of all three!

Some herbs are perennial, some biennial or annual, but for the most part they tend to offer their best harvest in the summer and early fall. Even with herbs that will survive a snowy winter, it’s important to harvest before the frosts start to settle in. You can extend the life of your herbs by freezing them on the stem or chopping and placing in a bag – or even freezing in ice cube trays with water! Usually it is suggested to make use of them within 2 months, but to extend their freezer life a little try freezing them in olive oil! This ensures preservation of their flavor up to 3 or 4 months and makes them very convenient to use in soups or while sauteing vegetables.

MINT

Mints are incredibly hardy perennial herbs which make them very easy to grow. They spread so willingly, in fact, that many people choose to plant them in a large pot, and then plant that pot in the ground so they don’t take over an area!

Mints have one of the highest antioxidant capacity of any food! Try adding fresh mint to salsas and salads or toss it in your water for a refreshing flavor! You can also steep the leaves for 5 – 6 minutes in hot water for fresh mint tea.

Click here for a fresh Summer Roll recipe containing fresh mint!

OREGANO

Oregano is another perennial that is easy to grow (and split to share with a friend!). It’s known not only for its common use in Italian foods and on pizza, but also for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties! Oil of Oregano is a fantastic natural immune booster when antibiotics are not available or necessary.

Try this different take on classic pesto using oregano and spinach!

BASIL

An annual herb, basil is best harvested by pinching off a few leaves from a few different stems to encourage the plant to fill out vs getting tall and spindly. Traditional basil uses include pesto, marinades, bruschetta, and soups. Basil is another great addition to fresh spring rolls or tossed into a fresh greens salad. Try steeping 3 basil leaves in 1 cup of boiling water to create a tea to relieve an upset stomach or digestion!

Here’s another Summer Roll (*not fried spring roll) recipe to try – so fresh you can even cut out the dipping sauce if you’re concerned about the extra calories!

CILANTRO

This annual herb is often confused as a perennial because it reseeds so easily. Cilantro, in addition to being abundant with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, is also known to combat heavy metal toxicity in the body and aid in digestion. Unfortunately however, about 15% of the population has a gene that causes them to detect aldehyde chemicals which are found in both cilantro and soap. If you find that you fall into this group and you dislike cilantro, swap out parsley in any of your favorite recipes that include cilantro. Those in Wisconsin will even find, with the heavy frosts, cilantro can sprout up on it’s own from the prior season. When growing, the green leaves can be harvested as cilantro. Let it flower and go to seed and you have grown spicy coriander seeds! Cilantro is used in many Mexican or Asian dishes such as guacamole, salsa, and cilantro lime rice.

DILL

Like Cilantro, dill reseeds easily, but is a biennial since a plant will only live two years. Toss seeds just about anywhere, and you’ll have fresh dill available readily for years to come. Dill tastes great in fresh in salads, greens, and as flavoring for roasted or grilled vegetables!

Click here for grilled carrots with lemon and dill!

There are many, many herbs out there worth mentioning, but some easy perennials that have a wide variety of uses are Rosemary, Thyme and Sage! Plant all kinds of herbs and try using something brand new to you – your tastebuds will thank you!

Ad-veggie-venture! (Conquering Mysterious Produce)

Gardens are overflowing and the Farmer’s Markets are full of produce, ready to fill your vitamin and mineral needs! I’m sure we all snagged up the strawberries over the last couple of weeks. Maybe you got some early lettuce or beans…but what about all those mystery fruits and veggies?? We all see unknown produce and simply pass on by without giving it a second thought. The next time you see something unfamiliar, buy it! Make it a mission to learn 1 or 2 ways to use it. You will probably like it, AND you’ll have something new to incorporate into your regular meal/snack rotations to keep it from getting boring. As an added bonus, you will introduce your body to vitamins and minerals that you may not currently be getting! Let’s get started:

Yu Choy (yow – choy)

Go past any Asian stand at a farmer’s market and you’ll likely find Yu Choy. This Chinese green is most identifiable by their yellow flowers, which are edible! Yu Choy (or rapeseed) are primarily grown to produce canola oil, but also have a sweet taste that make it perfect to sautée, stir-fry or add to soups. Yu Choy’s flavor is a sort of cross between spinach and mustard greens. Grab a pound of Yu Choy, stir fry in some oil and garlic and then steam in ¼ cup of chicken broth for about 3-3.5 minutes until the stems are softened. Say Nǐ hǎo to something new!

Kohlrabi (cole – RAW – be)

In German “Kohl” means cabbage and “Rabi” means turnip; this green or purple bulb like vegetable is commonly eaten in German speaking areas and in Vietnam. However, it is slowly becoming more mainstream here in the U.S. The bulb can have the green skin cut off (knife or vegetable peeler) and the inside, sliced or cut into sticks and served alone or with a dip like hummus. It has a nice, crisp taste with a slight cabbage flavor. Some may be surprised to learn that the greens on the top of kohlrabi can be used like kale or collard greens. Look for smaller size bulbs to ensure they are not “woody” as often found in the larger grown vegetable. Use kohlrabi in other ways too, such as pureed in soups, roasted, or steamed. Any time you get a veggie where you can eat the root and the greens you’ve got a bargain!

Golden Beets

You might have noticed we’ve included a few root vegetables in this post, in large part because unless it is a carrot or potato most people tend to steer clear of this category. What a shame! Because the roots are generally the major source of absorption for vitamins and nutrients from the soil, these veggies (beets, rutabagas, ginger, etc) pack a big nutritional punch! Geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil, is what gives beets their earthy taste and seem to polarize so many into beet lovers or beet haters, but even beet haters may be pleasantly surprised by the flavor of golden beets! These golden beauties have been described to taste like sweet corn when cooked, and are well-known for their high fiber, potassium, iron, and folic acid. One bonus is they don’t “bleed red” and stain your clothes or teeth. Beets also have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, which is why they can be found in some desserts (like beet brownies!). Beets can be enjoyed roasted, poached, or boiled.

Jicama (HE – ka – ma)

Although you won’t find jicama grown locally as it needs 9 months frost free, you can generally find it in most supermarkets. It’s traditionally grown in Mexico and South America. Also known as a Mexican turnip, Jicama is in the legume family and the brown, bulbous root vegetable we are used to seeing is just that – a tuberous root at the bottom of a large vining plant. Jicama is most commonly enjoyed raw and tastes like a savory apple, a crunchy, juicy, and slightly sweet snack. Just cut the skin off (it’s too thick for a vegetable peeler) and cut into sticks or slices. Other ways to enjoy jicama are stir-fry (like water chestnuts), julienned into spring rolls, and even diced into salsa or a coleslaw!

Fennel (FEN – null)

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet – closely related to parsley, carrots, and dill. It is fully edible, from its bulb to the leaves, and has high concentrations of phytonutrients which make it an antioxidant powerhouse. Fennel has been repeatedly studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and fight cancer. Many associate the taste to black licorice, however if black licorice isn’t your thing, when the bulb is chopped and sautéed (many like it sautéed with onion) or braised, that licorice-type taste almost fully dissolves into a complementary side dish primarily for fish or other seafood. The stalks can be used in soup and the leaves can be used as an herb. Search pinterest or google some recipes and give it a shot!

Venture into the Farmers’ Market or grocery store with a little extra confidence this week, and proudly request some new produce with the correct pronunciation and a sense of accomplishment! When it comes to diet, one particular principles with regards to exercise is extremely applicable: if you are bored, you won’t stick with it very long. Explore new fruits and veggies to boost your vitamins and minerals, make your meals more enjoyable, and wow your friends and family!

Until next time…Happy Harvesting!

Super Kale! To The Rescue!

Kale is a popular superfood – maybe the most popular one around – with its high fiber, iron, vitamin A & K, calcium and antioxidant content. Pound for pound (or gram for gram), kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange and more calcium than milk! Got Kale? It has become a pretty notorious scapegoat for social media mockery:

Haters gonna hate…

If you haven’t grown to love it yet, we’re here to give you a few innovative ideas to give it another try or to shake up your kale standards!

START SIMPLE: Add some kale to your smoothie for a quick nutritious boost! It’s flavor won’t overpower fruit-based smoothies, and it blends well for a leafy vegetable.

SUPER KALE DRESSING: A salad may truly only be as good as its dressing! The somewhat bitter flavor of kale can be curbed by purchasing young/earlier harvested kale from your local Farmers’ Market, OR consider complementing that bitter flavor with some sweet!

– 2 c of your favorite fruit (raspberries are a great choice)
– 2 Tbsp. Dijon or Tahini
– 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
– 1 Tbsp. of a fresh herb like thyme or rosemary.

SUPER KALE CHIPS: Cut the thick stems off your kale and tear into bits. Rinse, then run through a salad spinner to dry thoroughly. Rub olive oil and salt in, spreading the leaves over a cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minute at 350 degrees or until the edges are brown but not burnt. Get creative with different seasonings like Cajun or Chili Powder!

SUPER KALE PESTO: Mix up the flavor profile of your Pesto by swapping the basil out for kale!

– Pour 1 c of olive oil into a food processor
– Add 3 cloves of garlic
– Add 12 cups of chopped kale leaves until blended.
– Stir in 1 cup of pine nuts, 1 cup parmesan, and salt to taste.

**For added veggie goodness, serve over zucchini noodles!

SUPER KALE SOUP: Consider adding roughly chopped kale into soup for texture and flavor! Much like the use of endives in Italian Wedding Soup, Kale is a great complement in broth-based or even cream-based soups! Kale can be purchased in bulk, tossed in a freezer bag, and then simply crumbled into your bowl!

SUPER KALE TACOS: Few social media trends are more prolific than the mockery of healthy eating habits, but the insatiable craze over Tacos may have the upper hand! Hurdle your hesitation on this one and try out this delicious recipe below from Cookie and Kate!

and yes…I know tacos and burritos are not quite the same thing 😉

http://cookieandkate.com/2012/simple-kale-and-black-bean-burritos/

Skinny Turkey-Vegetable Soup

Skinny Turkey –Vegetable Soup

2 Medium Onions, chopped
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
2 Celery Ribs, chopped
½ Cup Chopped Sweet Red Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Cups Water
1 Can (10 oz) Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, undrained
½ Cup Frozen Peas
1 Bay Leaf
4 Tsp. Sodium-free Chicken Bouillon Granules
½ Tsp. Dried Basil
½ Tsp. Dried Thyme
¼ Tsp. Ground Cumin
¼ Tsp. Pepper
¼ to ½ Tsp. Hot Sauce (optional)
½ Cup Uncooked Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta
2 Cups Cubed Cooked Turkey Meat
1 Tbsp. Minced Fresh Cilantro

Directions: In a large saucepan, sauté onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in water, tomatoes, peas, bay leaf, bouillon, basil, thyme, cumin, pepper, and pepper sauce if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Stir orzo and turkey into soup; heat through. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Serves: 6
Exchanges: 2 Lean Protein, 1 Carb, 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat

Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip
1 12 oz. Carton of Low-fat Cottage Cheese
1 10 oz. Package of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed
1 8 oz. Can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 Cup FF Chobani Greek Yogurt
1 Packet of Dry Vegetable Soup Mix
1/4 Cup of Chopped Onion
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice

Directions: Add cottage cheese to a food Processor and process until smooth. Transfer cottage cheese to a bowl. Meanwhile, drain spinach and press between paper towels until barely moist. Add spinach, water chestnuts, and all remaining ingredients to cottage cheese, stir well. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Serve with Melba rounds or fresh vegetables.

Serves: 6
Exchanges: 1 Carb, 2 Protein, 1 Fat

Stuffed Peppers

  Are you in a funk with your meals?  Do you feel like you eat the same thing over and over?  Why not give this new recipe a try!  Lots of veggies to fill you up, whole grain rice to give you energy, and extra lean protein to build strong muscles!  Sounds like a perfect combination to lead you closer to your fitness goals!  Remember – abs are not made in the gym…..they are made in your kitchen!  WHAT you eat is as important as how much!  If you are looking for a customized meal plan to suit your lifestyle, fitness routine, and goals – talk with you Ellipse Fitness Coach about our Weight Loss Program that does just this!

 Stuffed Peppers
4       Medium Green or Red Peppers
8       Oz. Cooked Ground Turkey
2       Cups Cooked Brown Rice
¼       Cup Chopped Onion
1 ½   Tsp. Salt
1/8   Tsp. Pepper
15     Oz. can Tomato Sauce
4       Oz. Reduced-Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:  Wash peppers and cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds.  Mix turkey, rice, onion, salt, pepper, & ½ cup of the tomato sauce together; spoon into green peppers halves.  Arrange in shallow baking dish and pour remaining tomato sauce over top of peppers.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove cover, sprinkle cheese over each pepper and bake 15 minutes more.
Serves:  4

Exchanges:  2 Carbs, 3 Extra Lean Protein, 1 Fat

Ellipse Tip:  Add some spicy chilies to this recipe to boost your metabolism! Spicy chilies increase your burn thanks to an antioxidant called capsaicin.

Chicken or Turkey Tortilla Soup

 Hi Everyone,

  Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are working towards your fitness, nutrition, and weight loss goals, it is important to remember that today is just ONE meal.  Enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving Day fixings in moderation and then get back on track with your normal eating.  The holidays do not have to get out of control with eating and drinking.  Set yourself a limit and stick with a plan!  Have leftover turkey?  Here is a great recipe to enjoy!

Chicken or Turkey Tortilla Soup

       Non-stick Cooking Spray
4    6-inch Corn Tortillas
2    Tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1    Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Tsp. Oregano
2    Garlic Cloves, minced
1    Green Bell Pepper, diced
2    14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes w/ jalapeño
4    Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1    Cup Frozen Corn
1    Pound Diced, Cooked Chicken Breasts
1/4 Cup Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips; toss with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, 1/4 tsp. of the cumin and salt.  Place on baking sheet and bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a soup kettle.  Add remaining cumin and the onion, oregano, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened.  Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the corn and chicken; simmer 10 minutes.

Ladle into separate dishes, sprinkle with cheddar, and top with tortilla strips.

 Serves:  4
Total Calories: 371   Carb=38g Prot=35g Fat=11g

 

Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs by Ellipse Fitness

Hi Everyone,

  What a better way to use all those fresh vegetables from your own garden or from your local Farmer’s market than this yummy kabob recipe!  Not only is it fresh and delicious, it is packed with protein to keep your cookout nutritious!  The marinade that is used is very light and will not add unwanted calories and fat to your meal!

Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs

1     Lb. chicken breasts, cubed

15-20 Shrimp

3     Small zucchini, each cut into 4 pieces

1     Large onion, cut into 12 wedges

12    Large fresh mushroom caps

2     Bell peppers, cut into 2-inch pieces

9     Cherry tomatoes

Baste:

1 1/2 Tsp. fresh chives, chopped

1 1/2 Tsp. fresh dill weed, chopped

1/4   Tsp. garlic salt

1/4   Tsp. lemon juice

Directions:  Alternate chicken and shrimp with the veggies on the kabob sticks.  Baste mixture over kabobs.  Grill 10-15 minutes.  Baste again, if necessary.

Serves:  3-4

Total Calories: 259   Carb=22g Prot=40g Fat=3.4g

Ellipse Tip:  Use any fresh veggies from your garden as the vegetables mentioned in the recipe are for suggestion only.  Want a bit more zest?  Marinate your vegetables and meat in the baste for a hour in the refrigerator before cooking to seal in the flavor!

Egg White Scramble by Ellipse

Hi Everyone,

Add a little dazzle to your egg whites by adding loads of your favorite veggies!  Another great veggie to add to this recipe is asparagus.  If you prefer, you may also substitute Egg Beaters instead of the egg whites as well.  Enjoy!

Egg White Scramble

  • 4   Egg Whites
  • 2   Tbsp. Chopped Onion
  • 2   Tbsp. Chopped Green Pepper
  • 2   Tbsp. Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2   Tbsp. Chopped Mushrooms
  • 1/4 Cup Reduced-fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions: Spray a cooking skillet with non-stick cooking spray and sauté vegetables for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until vegetables are tender.  Add egg whites to vegetables and scramble until cooked through.  Sprinkle with cheese (if desired) and place cover on skillet to melt cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves:  1

Total Calories: 149   Carb=7.7g Prot=20g Fat=4.2g

Ellipse Tip: Want to bump up your protein?  Add a couple more egg whites!  On average, an egg white has only 20 calories, 5 grams of protein, and NO fat!  The yolk of the egg has approximately 5 grams of fat per yolk, so choose wisely!