WTEW: Your FAVORITE Holiday Treat

Season'sGreetings!

First things first, MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE! Are you spending time with family and friends tonight? My family usually does a big celebration on Christmas Eve and then my boyfriend’s family celebrates Christmas Day. It works out. However, this year my parents are in Colorado. We will be flying out Christmas night to see them so my regular Christmas Eve routine will be different this year.

I will still celebrate Christmas Eve in my own way. ‘Tis the season, right? I am hoping to go to a local church service in the evening, watch a Christmas movie or show at some point, and savor one of my favorite holiday treats.

You know what my favorite holiday treat is???

Hot cocoa! I have been saving some tasty hot cocoa packets for tonight to go with my Christmas movie or show. No, I don’t get crafty and make my own. Although, I should. It may even taste better. But, I do use hot milk with my cocoa and oh my goodness is it good.

Another favorite holiday treat of mine is ginger snaps. I don’t see any in my near future so I am sticking with the hot cocoa today. But man, have you ever tasted homemade ginger snaps?? To. Die. For. Maybe next year I will be more in the baking mood.

For those of you who think treats are off limits or the diet starts January 1st or you must run off the treat you eat, please think again. I know I say this a lot, but being restrictive can lead to very negative behaviors. Love your body and treat it well. Enjoy the holidays, even the treats.

Let’s make this fun. Name your FAVORITE holiday treat in the comments below.

Merry Christmas, friends!

WTEW: Sunflower Butter

sunbutter

I have been learning more and more about Ayurveda these days. I love digging into Eastern medicine, culture, and traditions. Western medicine is not the only way to go. A mixture of the two is best in my book. And did you know that Ayurveda is actually the sister science to yoga? I didn’t until a few weeks ago. Very cool!

Without going into too much detail of Ayurveda, there are three dosha’s (vata, kapha, pitta). Each person has a dominate dosha, but is generally a mixture of the 3 in some way. If you are interested in learning more, you can find out more about ayurveda and the dosha’s by clicking HERE.

Sunflower seeds are excellent for ALL the dosha’s. Peanuts, on the other hand, are not. So I have recently made the switch to sunflower butter. And even if you do not have any interest in Ayurveda whatsoever, let me just tell you…

YOU WILL LOVE SUNFLOWER BUTTER!

Where has it been all my life? My head has been in a peanut butter cloud for over 25 years. If you are like me, sunflower butter has never crossed the mind. I hear all the time about almond butter (I am not a fan) and hazelnut butter (Nutella), but never hear about sunflower butter. But, I am a changed woman. I now eat sunflower butter atop my protein pancake (pictured below) or Ezekial toast. I always sprinkle honey on top too.

Protein pancake with sunflower butter and honey!

Protein pancake with sunflower butter and honey!

Another way to use sunflower butter if toast or pancakes isn’t your thang is to make sunballs. I make these on the regular. They are my homemade replacement for Larabars, but I am now preferring them so have not bought a package of my beloved Larabars for awhile now. Sorry Lara! 😉 The recipe can be found HERE.

If you know any peeps with a peanut allergy, this is a GREAT replacement! Most sunflower butter brands I have seen are made in a peanut-free location. My favorite brand is the Sunbutter brand, but it is the only one I have tried. It came highly recommended to me and I was hooked right away. I found it at Natural Grocer’s, but I bet Whole Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, etc. probably have it too. It’s more expensive than peanut butter, but oh so worth it!

Eat well, friends!

WTEW: The Good Bean

Thegoodbean

I am always looking for food products that stand out at the grocery store. I was shopping at Target the other day and The Good Bean caught my eye. I know these are not new, but I believe they are new for Target because I am at Target at least once per week. Only mildly obsessed with that store!

There were at least 5 different flavors, but I went with the Sweet Cinnamon. Big surprise! If you said tofu had cinnamon on it, I would probably try it. And hope to like it because I have never liked any tofu I have tried. But, that’s another story and another day.

You guysssssssssss (to be said like my Midwestern cousins)… if you like crunchy and munchy things, you will like these. They are roasted chickpeas of all things. Good for most people with allergies too as they are gluten free, nut free, soy free, and vegan. I had these plain, but the package says to sprinkle onto yogurt, which I think is a fabulous idea. I will have to try that the next time I am ready to snack on my Dreaming Cow yogurt.

These were inexpensive- I think around $2 if I am not mistaken. But, if you are really saving pennies, I am certain you could roast chickpeas yourself and spice them up however you like. If this sounds like you, check this recipe out: Crispy Roasted Chickpeas.

Since I am big on ingredients in packaged foods, I am sharing with you the nutrition facts label. These babies have less about 8 ingredients, but I can pronounce them all and know what each of them are. Check it out…

The Good Bean nutrition facts

The Good Bean nutrition facts

Have you tried anything from The Good Bean yet?

Eat well, friends!

WTEW: Holiday Beverage Recipes

holiday bevs

Get your favorite mug out, my friend, and GET READY for some holiday beverage recipes. This week’s What to Eat Wednesday is all about the beverages that will make you smile this holiday season. I asked for fave recipes from my friends on Facebook last night. I also browsed the internet, Pinterest included, for some goodies. And, of course, Rachel Ray did not disappoint in her little magazine this month.

So, let’s hop to it. Here are some cheerful holiday beverage recipes to keep you merry all season long:

  • Old Fashioned Inspired Hot Chocolate from A Thought and a Half. All you have to do is click on the recipe name and you will be taken right to her chocolate greatness. Take one look at her pictures and you will want to make this ASAP.
  • Reindeer Martinis given to me from my friend, Erin. This is such a cute idea for a Christmas party.
    • Use about 1 bottle of vodka, a full container of cranberry juice, 6 packets of cider, and a few cinnamon sticks. Let it sit for a while in the fridge to chill, and share! Soo yummy, and you can garnish with a cherry, for the “red nose”.
  • Mulled Wine by Alton Brown. My cousin mentioned this last night so I HAD to find a tasty recipe. You can also make this in the crockpot. How is that for an easy holiday beverage?
  • Tom and Jerry from The Chow. My Uncle Tom mentioned this recipe and he gave it two thumbs up. There are quite a few ingredients in this one though so it isn’t an easy one to come up with on the fly.
  • Winter Chai Tea by SimpleVeda. I have been eyeing this for weeks now. Once I can get the ingredients together, I will be making this all winter long. Guaranteed. I love me some chai!
  • Mulled Punch in Rachel Ray Everyday. This serves 10 so share with others.
    • 3 bottles of white wine, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 22 cinnamon sticks, 4 star anise pods, juice & peel of 1 small orange, peel of 1 lemon, 2 mangoes (peeled & sliced), 2 apples (peeled & sliced), 1 pear (peeled & sliced), 1/2 pineapple (cubed), freshly ground nutmeg. In a saucepan, combine 1 bottle wine, the sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, the star anise, orange juice and peel, and the lemon peel. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining wine, mangoes, apples, pear and pineapple. Simmer over low 20 minutes. Strain. To serve, ladle warm punch into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks and freshly ground nutmeg.
  • Orangesicle Smoothie Recipe from Sarah Halstead. I know some of you aren’t big fans of warm beverages so if you are up for a cold treat, dive on in to this recipe. You can make it more “holiday-esque” by adding a peppermint straw or putting it in a Christmas mug or cup!

Do you have a holiday beverage you have been eyeing? Do share!

WTEW: Savor each Flavor

SAVOR

Today isn’t necessarily a “What to Eat” Wednesday. It is more like a “How to Eat” Wednesday, but that’s okay. There’s room for that. Today and tomorrow during your Thanksgiving meals, savor each flavor!

Did you hear me?

SAVOR.

That is such an important word and one that so many people disregard over the holidays. Savor. It means to taste good food or drink and enjoy it completely. If you do this with every bite, you will be less likely to overindulge and end up asleep on the couch 5 minutes after your meal. What I also like about the word is that it does not mean to restrict. Go ahead, eat that piece of pie you have been eyeing. And don’t feel guilty afterwards or feel like you have to run it off. Enjoy it.

The Thanksgiving meal is not a competition of who can eat the most food, although most of us do eat a little more than usual. If you like Mr. Bean (I have never been a huge fan, but thought this was pretty funny), this is how NOT to eat at holiday parties and Thanskgiving gatherings.

 

So this Thanksgiving, we are all going to savor each flavor. Now tell me, what is your absolute favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving? Mine is probably pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes with butter/cinnamon (but I eat sweet potatoes even not on Thanksgiving. I LOVE them!) And if someone brings a homemade plate of cookies, you better believe there is one with my name on it.

What will you be savoring this holiday? And before we go, one more VERY important thing…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

WTEW: Pho

pho

I am not always 100% certain I am saying this right, but What to Eat Wednesday has the spotlight on Pho. Have you heard of it or tried it yet? And, most importantly are you in love with it as much as I am this time of year? Warms me right up!

In case you have NO clue what pho is, let me give you a brief explanation. It is a Vietnamese dish with a blend of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. It looks like this…

chick pho

I have been to 2 pho restaurants in Dallas and like them both really. The first was Pho Crimson in Uptown (which is actually pretty close to the new Pure Barre). The second was Pho is for Lovers on Greenville Ave (next to the first Pure Barre in Dallas). Ain’t that something?! You can get your workout on first and then nourish your body with a bit of pho afterwards on these cold days. Well, as long as you are in Dallas anyway. And if you aren’t, I am sure pho restaurants are booming in your town too.

One thing to keep in mind is that pho is still high in sodium so if you are watching your sodium intake, you will get about 380 milligrams of sodium. Just like other soups! You know the drill… but on the flip side of the coin, you will get plenty of protein, fiber, iron, and other vitamins/minerals. It is not high in calories or fat either. So, what are you waiting for? Eat up!

So now a question for you…. have you ever tried pho? If so, what is your FAVORITE pho restaurant?

WTEW: Anything with Pumpkin

WTEW Pumpkin

How have I not included pumpkin in a What to Eat Wednesday this Fall yet? I am quite surprised. I LOVE pumpkin dishes in the Fall and I know some of you do too.

Pumpkin is not only festive, it has health benefits too. It is loaded with Vitamin A and Fiber. Many of us forget to choose foods with fiber, but fiber can really boost your digestion (and keep you regular). And do you know what Vitamin A (and its precursor beta carotene) is good for? Healthy skin, our immune system, and good eye/vision health. All this for little calories too… you get a HUGE nutrition bang for such a small calorie buck.

Don’t forget the seeds. Holy cow are the seeds fabulous for you too! These seeds are naturally rich in phytosterols, which help reduce LDL cholesterol. (Tip: A good way to remember the good versus bad cholesterol is by taking the first letter and creating a word for it, like L=lousy (LDL); H=healthy (HDL)). Pumpkin seeds are also rich in minerals (like Zinc) and the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan aids in the production of serotonin, which helps boost our mood. Have a handful when you need a pick-me-up this Fall!

And now for a little recipe round up. We all know that you can make pumpkin pie, but I found five additional FUN recipes for pumpkin (and seeds). Hope you enjoy!

How do you eat your pumpkin this time of year? Eat well, friends!

WTEW: Anything from the Crockpot!

crockpot

‘Tis the season for crockpot recipes. October is the perfect month to start busting out your favorite soups and stews. I love crockpot recipes for two HUGE reasons.

  • {Reason Number One} The whole darn house smells like a Thanksgiving feast whenever you arrive from a long day of work.
  • {Reason Number Two} You don’t have to labor away at the stove after you come home from laboring away at your desk.

I think we should all do a crockpot recipe exchange. If you feel compelled, please share your favorite recipe in the comments. And no worries, whether you really will participate or not, I will share with you one of my recent faves. You really can’t go wrong with it and you know how I feel about herbs and spices. More galore!

So the crockpot recipe I have enjoyed making lately is the easiest ever. I like simple and this is definitely that. It is Taco Soup! I have no idea who gave me the recipe or where I found it, but all I know is I really like it. And so did my parents and brother when I made it for them Sunday.

Taco Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (brown it first)
  • 1 can black beans, undrained
  • 1 can kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 28 oz can crushed tomato
  • Other spices you like (maybe sea salt, garlic, etc.)

Mix all of the above in the crockpot. Set to low and your dish will be ready in 4-6 hours. You can put cheese on top if that is your thang!

I also made a Tuscan Kale & White Bean stew today. It was delish! I tell you what, adding fresh rosemary to a soup or stew is A-okay in my book. But enough about me. What about you? What is your favorite thing to cook in a crockpot?

Eat well, friends!

WTEW: Nothin’ but a honeycrisp

honeycrisp

Love the name. Love the taste. I will admit, I am an apple fan in general. I don’t hate or discriminate, but I tell you what… Honeycrisp apples are SOOOO good. I am talking do-the-Carlton-dance good. You know he is happy every time he does that dance, almost like he just took a bite out of a Honeycrisp. And just since I mentioned it, I leave you with a little gift…

Okay, Carlton aside, Honeycrisp apples are not only tasty, but also good for you. Of course! They are an excellent source of fiber, plus are one of the sweetest apple varieties available today. Perhaps they can satisfy that sweet craving of yours. 😉

Ready for a random fact about Honeycrisp apples? They are Minnesota’s state fruit. Who knew states had fruits?! I know the state bird and the state flower, but that’s about it. Anyway, I learned something new today and of course that made me want to look up what the state fruit for Texas is. It’s grapefruit. Another good choice.

You can eat Honeycrisp apples by themselves. That’s how I role with them. But, you can also use them in some delicious recipes. Five of my picks that I hope to try soon are below. Just click on the name and you will be taken to the site for that recipe. Enjoy!

Are you a Honeycrip fan? If so, what is your favorite way to eat one?

WTEW: Pure Pink Himalayan Salt

salt

 

Before we begin with today’s What to Eat Wednesday, I have to give you a heads up. Today’s topic is not actually food, but is more about what you put on your food. If you are reading the What to Eat Wednesday posts, you are most likely interested in making better health choices so today I have the spotlight on salt. 

Many people I know reach for the salt shaker like its nobody’s business. Others purchase frozen foods or canned soups with plenty of salt added (hello, sodium!). This is not going to be a post about staying away from salt altogether.. I use salt at times. But, this post will hopefully provide you with enough information to make a better choice when purchasing salt for you or your family.

Ever heard of pink Himalayan salt? Unlike regular white table salt, pink Himalayan salt is pure, unprocessed, and straight from the earth. It has many essential minerals, including magnesium and potassium. Himalayans used to call it “white gold”. The 84 natural minerals in pink Himalayan salt exist in colloidal form, which mean they are easily absorbed by our cells.

One other thing I like to point out is that regular table salt has been stripped of any minerals and lacks nutritional value. These salt manufacturers have to add iodine back in. When you buy a pure form of salt, you are saying yes to all the natural minerals found in it. Now, it is still salt so you don’t need to go crazy with it. But, if you want the best form of salt for you and your family, think about making the switch to a pink Himalayan salt.

I read a few health benefits too in regards to this salt so thought I would share a few of my favorites. If you want to read more of the health benefits, you can click here.

  • Reducing muscle cramps (excellent for those of us with active lifestyles)
  • Aids in naturally promoting healthy sleep patterns
  • Promotes kidney and gallbladder health (especially when compared to often chemically-treated table salt)

I don’t salt a lot of foods, but I do add salt when I am making a recipe or baking sweet potato chips. I use this just as I would any other salt, but I tend to use a little less. The flavor is a tad more powerful to me so I don’t quite need as much. A pinch here and there goes a long way! But, if your taste buds are different, use a little more. Consider it an experiment.

You may have to go to a specialty grocery store to find this, but I think more grocery stores are interested in its health benefits so have started carrying it. I found mine at Homegoods of all places and I know I have seen some at Costco too.

Have any of you already made the switch to pink Himalayan salt?

Eat well, my friends!