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Food is fuel… and so much more!

In light of my post this morning regarding mental health, I thought I’d share a little about some of the things I eat on a regular basis, and what their benefits are. We see and hear so much about how food is fuel and it’s important to fuel your body with the best nutrients to maintain your health. What we don’t see as much of is how you can also fuel your mind with certain foods. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants is good for fueling your mind, improving your hormonal balance, and increasing your brain power.

If you’re anything like me a year ago, you might be thinking “antioxidants? like for your skin?” Or maybe that was just me? I grew up at the lake so taking care of my skin has been a high priority in recent years because I’ve got sun damage (!!). Now I’m #sunscreentilidie

Aaaanywayyyy, some of the main antioxidants that are super easy to incorporate (plus examples!) in to your diet are:

  • Vitamin A (carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, berries, eggs)
  • Vitamin C (oranges, kiwi, strawberries, green peppers, papaya, Brussels sprouts, broccoli)
  • Vitamin E (almonds, spinach, kale, avocado
  • Beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, squash)
  • Magnesium (eggs, greens, nuts, avocado
  • Selenium (halibut, turkey, free-range chicken, eggs, grass-fed beef)
  • Melatonin (tart cherries, asparagus, broccoli, brown rice)

As you can see from the list, it truly is easy to eat for your body and mind at the same time. There are also a couple of other things you can look for such as omega-3 fatty acids (wild salmon, flaxseed, chia seeds) which has been shown to support memory loss and depression; tryptophan (turkey) which releases serotonin in to the body that helps support calmness (the reason you’re probably relaxed after that thanksgiving dinner!), and last a lesser known antioxidant, carcumin found in ginger and turmeric which help boost mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. Rumor has it you can also use turmeric to bleach your teeth! If anyone has tried that let me know 🙂

I am not a doctor nor am I certified to say for sure what benefits you’ll see from consuming the above, but based on studies and my own experience I have seen a significant difference in my own mental health.

Is there anything you do daily to support your own mental health that you’d like to share?

Cilantro lime zoodle shrimp scampi

Hello hello! It’s Friday eve, and I am ready for the weekend so I can watch the royal wedding. Yes, I am one of those people. No, I’m not getting up at 4am to watch. Bless the person who invested the DVR #canigetanamen ? I’m also ready to spend some time poolside! Summer-nature is rearing her hot head at us nice and early this year so if I have to be outside any time from now until Halloween let’s just hope it’s at the pool.

Speaking of the pool, did anyone say summer body? They always say that summer bodies are made in the winter, and I honestly have never been able to get on that train because during the holidays I just completely black out, and eat all of the things. ALL OF THEM. So after it’s all over with, I have to give myself quite the shock when I go back to my high protein, low carb diet. I personally eat a low carb diet because my body is a sweet little helpful angel, and doesn’t necessarily love it when I eat starchy carbs (aka pasta). I do still eat it on occasion, but as a treat when I’m out to dinner or if I’m cooking for friends on a Saturday.

I learned from a friend last night (thanks for the knowledge Whit!) about the woman who invested zoodles, Ali Maffucci, and her food blog Inspiralized that started it all. WHAT A GENIUS. I bow down to you Ali because not only did you change your life, you changed mine. When I first started seeing recipes online substituting vegetables for pasta I was so excited. I went to the store, bought a zucchini, and went to work with my paring knife when I got home. RIP zucchini. I’m just glad I still have my thumb. So after that I thought “this is for the birds” and moved on with my life. Not long after I heard from a coworker that you could purchase a kitchen contraption to make the zoodles for you, and I was back on the train to zoodle town.

This particular recipe is one of my favorite for summer. It’s a lot lighter than a regular scampi because it uses WAY less better, and the lime juice really gives it a “summer kick” as I like to say.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz jumbo shrimp
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 large lime
  • 1/2 c. cilantro (loosely chopped or minced depending on preference)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lightly salted butter
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp of the EVOO in a skillet on medium high. Twist the zucchini in to zoodles, add to the skillet and top with the cilantro. Salt & pepper to taste. Pat the shrimp dry, salt and pepper to taste. Once the zoodles become soft, transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet. Add the second tablespoon of EVOO to the skillet, and once heated add the shrimp cooking for 2 minutes on each side. Once you turn the shrimp over, squeeze once quarter of the lime juice over the shrimp. Top the zoodles with the shrimp, and wipe out the skillet again. Add the butter, garlic and red pepper in to the skillet, stirring constantly while the butter melts and the garlic cooks. When the butter is half melted, squeeze in the 2nd quarter of the lime juice. Top the shrimp and zoodles with the scampi sauce and get to eating!

This one took me ONLY 15 minutes include prep time. You really can’t beat that!

What’s your favorite zoodle recipe?

Pan Seared Halibut with Dijon Tomato Sauce

I am BACK! It’s been a while, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back in the kitchen. I went on a belated birthday trip to LA with my travel buds Jordan and Caroline, and when I returned home I was welcomed with a broken refrigerator/freezer full of spoiled food. However, it is fixed now, and I’m back in action 🙂

The first thing I will tell you about this recipe is that if you do not like dijon mustard then this may not be for you. I happen to love it. I will take dijon mustard over yellow mustard any day. One of my favorite sweater weather recipes is a dijon crusted fried chicken. Just thinking about it makes me want to skip past summer!

The dish is ready in under 30 minutes (because you know I never like to spend longer than that cooking for 1!) so it’s perfect if you’re super tired or getting in late from work. OR if you’re just a teensy bit lazy like me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp capers (aka flavor bombs!)
  • 1 diced Roma tomato
  • 1 tsp tarragon season
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dice up the tomato and set aside. Heat one tbsp of the EVOO on medium to medium high heat. I’ve got a glass top stove so medium for me is like medium high. Salt and pepper the fish, and then cook for 4 minutes on each side. While the fish is cooking, heat the other tbsp of EVOO and the olive oil on medium heat. Once melted, add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. After the tomatoes have cooked add in the garlic, Dijon and capers. Reduce the heat and stir the sauce for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tarragon, parsley, red pepper and salt/pepper for taste. Spoon the sauce over the fish, and you’re ready to go! I like to do a sautéed lemon garlic kale as a side for mine. What side dish would you serve?

I love to cook and eat fish during the summers. What are your favorite fish dishes?

Xoxo, B

It’s Greek night.. opa!

So in full truth, my typical Greek palate only extends as far as the Greek salad (and I LOVE Greek salads) because after visiting Greece and experiencing how fresh and flavorful everything was there I just know it won’t be the same if I attempt to recreate here in the US.

If you have never been to Greece I highly recommend. Not only is the food amazing which, let’s be honest that’s what I’m always here for, but the views out on the islands are beautiful beyond imagination. I went to Mykonos and Santorini, and had the time of my life. Mykonos is such a vibrant place with something for everyone. We stayed at Hotel Petasos Beach Resort which is a little off the beaten path but still had easy access to the free bus down to Mykonos town. View from the pool below… take me back!

If you’re in Mykonos during the summer months you HAVE to go to Uno Con Carne. It’s a steak and oyster bar so not really where you would go for an authentic Greek dinner, BUT it’s honestly one of the.most.beautiful restaurants I’ve ever seen in my life. I know that might sound silly, and I’m not even going to post a picture because much like the views in Santorini it won’t do it any justice. Even Google images can’t help. So if you’re intrigued enough to want to see, better get on SkyScanner now and look for your flight! 🙂

After Mykonos and a few nights of too much eating, drinking and dancing we needed a little R&R (I know what you’re thinking… rest and relaxation from the vacation… how is that possible?), and we were in luck because next up was Santorini. I’m not going to post a picture of the views because honestly a picture does it no justice. Santorini is such a beautiful place. For being a small little island it also offers so much to see and do. I’ll post my recommendations from my trip to Greece on the travel guides page, but I will give you this ONE picture from our first night out at dinner in Santorini. I honestly had a hard time eating my food because I was so mesmerized by the beauty of the lights!

So anyway, back to the purpose of this post. When I was in Santorini I purchased an oregano and garlic infused olive oil that I used on this fish. I know you’re probably thinking “What’ so special about that? Preeeeetty sure you can buy that here in the states somewhere.” Remember at the beginning when I mentioned how vibrant all of the flavors on literally everything was in Greece? This olive oil is no exception. Also, remember how I said that Greek salads are my jam? Guess what I served with this fish?? 😉

I love this Greek salad for two reason: 1) because it’s a Greek salad, but 2) because it’s served with a zucchini twist. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, and then you let it chill in the fridge while your fish is cooking.

 

For the fish, I chose to use SeaBass, but you can use any flakey, white fish. This is suuuper easy to make, and also FAST! You know I’m all about those tasty 30-minute meals 🙂

Ingredients:

Greek Salad:

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 c. cherry or salad tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 c. banana pepper rings
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Greek all-purpose seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper to taste

Baked Fish:

  • 4-6 oz flakey white fish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (you can always whisk in some garlic powder and oregano)
  • juice from 1/4 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

You’ll need a zoodler unless you’ve got really mad peeling skills. Using the zoodler, twist the zucchini on the “large noodle” side. Sprinkle with salt and let sit while you make the rest of the salad. In a large bowl, mix together the cheese, tomatoes, olives, cucumber, and pepper rings. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and Greek seasoning. Pour over the vegetable mixture, stir and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Before adding the zucchini noodles, pat them dry with a paper towel, and then mix in to the large bowl. Set aside in refrigerator while you cook the fish.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the fish in an oven safe glass dish, cover with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish (15 minutes for thickness closer to 1”). Remove from the oven, squeeze lemon juice over the fish and sprinkle with parsley. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serving is for 1, so can easily be duplicated for multiple people.

Have you been to Greece? What were your favorite things or places? Comment below!

Xoxo, B

 

Vegan tortilla soup

 

Raise your hand if you feel personally victimized by winter of 2017/2018.

The positive side to it is that it’s mid-April, and a nice hot soup is still on the menu! This vegan tortilla soup is so good.   You can even freeze the leftovers so that when cooler temperatures roll back around in 6 months you’ve got dinner suited for the weather 🙂

My grandma doesn’t really eat meat so when I visit her I try to cook meals for us that will work for both. I’m not vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter), so this forces me to get creative with my cooking which I really appreciate! I didn’t expect to feel so satisfied with this soup, but I was positively surprised. The flavor is so good, and it’s really filling due to all the protein from the beans and lentils.

This can be done on the stove top as well as the crockpot. I almost ALWAYS go for the crockpot because why would you not? Your food cooks itself and you go on and live your life! WIN.

 

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz black beans
  • 14.5 oz pinto beans
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (I go with a smaller size, but you can also use a 14.5 oz)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup lentils (red or brown)
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup salsa verde
  • 16 oz vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1c soy/almond milk, or can use 1/2 c heavy cream or whole milk (optional, but makes it non-vegan)

Put all ingredients in your crockpot except for the milk/cream. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 7-8 hours.

Top with cilantro, pico de gallo and red onion. I also add shredded cheese and sour cream to mine because again… not vegan 🙂 This recipe is great because it really works for all diet types!

Let me know if you make it and what you think!

 

Xoxo, B

Here fishy fishy

I don’t know what it is about warm weather, but it makes me crave all things seafood. So today I’m kicking off what will hopefully SOON be 100% spring instead of this 80/20 split (war) we’ve got going on with winter. Girl BYE we are done with you!!

You know how much I love an easy, delicious, *healthy* 30-minute meal and this one is no different. It took me a little longer because I wanted a veggie side to go with, but if you skip the side and/or buy pre-made pico de gallo you’re looking at just half an hour until you can treat yo’self with a delicious dish.

I LOVE pico regardless of whether it’s store bought or fresh, but fresh is always best when it comes to your vegetables. Pico is pretty easy to make, but here’s a quick and easy recipe for those that are a little unsure:

  • 1/3 c. red or white onion
  • 1 medium jalapeno
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/8 c. chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from 1 lime

Mix all ingredients together, and place in the fridge to chill while you make up the fish. Serves 2, so just multiply the recipe to make for 4+ and you’re good to go!

 

For the tacos:

  • 8oz of white flakey fish (I used halibut)
  • 2 tbps Cholula lime chili sauce
  • 1 tbps oil (I use evoo)
  • blackened seasoning
  • shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • juice of one lime
  • tortillas of choice

Add oil to a medium/large size skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cover each side of the fish with 1tbps of the chili sauce and the blackened seasoning. Add the fish to the pan, and cooking for 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily. While the fish is cooking, mix together the sour cream and the lime sauce. I like to add in a pinch of salt to mine to take the tangy-ness level down just a little, but you can adjust to your own preference.

Add the fish to the pan, and cooking for 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat the tortillas, fill them up with your fish, cabbage mix, sour cream sauce and pico. Dinner is served! How easy was that??

 

Let me know if you make it, and what your thoughts were!

Xoxo, B

Time to get basted

Ummm… what? As in baste a turkey? It’s April right? *checks calendar* Yes it is!

Turkey is a good source of B6 and niacin which help with the body’s energy production (say hello to less caffeine required) as well as containing tryptophan which is an amino acid that produces serotonin (why you feel sleepy after that healthy serving at Thanksgiving) that strengthens the immune system.

I know you’re probably wondering why I’m posting about turkey recipes in the Spring, but I’ll ask you this: why should  a nice, roasted turkey be exiled to Thanksgiving? What did the turkey do to you? Aside from providing a delicious, high-protein, low-fat meat that made you primed and ready for a nap? There are SO many benefits to this lean meat which is why we need to consider working in to our regular diets along with any other meats you eat (if you eat them!). Turkey is a good source of B6 and niacin which help with the body’s energy production (say hello to less caffeine required) as well as containing tryptophan which is an amino acid that produces serotonin (why you feel sleepy after that healthy serving at Thanksgiving) that strengthens the immune system.There are several other benefits I could list out for you, but we’ve all got Google so you can look it up after you read all these tasty recipe ideas I’m about to share!

All my life my Memaw has made almost our entire Thanksgiving meal including the turkey. I had no knowledge or appreciation for just how juicy and delicious her turkey was until I had my first thanksgiving away from home. The turkey at this meal was so dry I nearly choked (won’t name any names here, but completely thawing a turkey and cooking it in a basting bag for 6+ hours is not the way to go I learned!). From this point I knew that I needed to find out Memaw’s *magic secret* to moist turkey deliciousness. Turns out, it actually isn’t that difficult, but it IS critical… at least for me anyway. YOU COOK THE TURKEY FROZEN…. whaaaaat? Yeah, that’s what I said, but it’s the trick. The magic secret trick.

Cooking a turkey frozen takes about 50% longer per pound

Cooking a turkey frozen takes about 50% longer per pound than cooking it thawed so if you’re making a hefty bird for a big family then you’ll likely need to start it pretty early. In my case, I’m just making a small turkey for myself on this beautiful spring day.

How I cook my turkey:

  • Set the oven to 325 degrees
  • Put water in the bottom of the roasting pan to ~1in deep
  • Sprinkle rubbed sage in to the water (I use about 1/8 cup but you can adjust to your preference)
  • put the frozen turkey on the roasting rack and set the pan in the oven
  • Cook the turkey for 30 minutes per pound

 

With the leftovers, I made myself this salad for lunch today! Perfect for my afternoon workout with 25 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbs… now to get myself to the gym…

Salad (mix in your own favorites because with the turkey you’re sure to win no matter what):

  • 4oz turkey
  • 1 cup kale greens
  • 1/2 roma tomato
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 1/8 c. diced red onion
  • 6 kalamatta olives
  • 2 tbsp Girard’s Light Champagne dressing

Stay tuned tomorrow for a turkey soup recipe that’s sure to warm your soul no matter the season!

 

Xoxo, B

 

Zesty oven-baked Sea Bass

Anyone that comes to my house for dinner knows that I’m all about that gourmet chef meal on a fast-food time budget. As much as I truly appreciate all of the intricate details of a meal prepared by a Michelin-star chef, I ain’t got time for that in my kitchen. What I want is a tasty meal that’s ready in under an hour. Maybe because I’m hungry, maybe because I’ve got somewhere to be, maybe because I’d rather not stand in the kitchen for hours on end unless it’s a special occasion (looking at you Thanksgiving). So with that, I bring you my FIRST recipe for the blog! Woohoo!

On my “to-do list” for 2018 was to put a better focus on eating foods that are high in omega-3 and antioxidants. Both are linked to stronger mental health, and studies show that they also help manage inflammation and free radicals in the brain which aids in relieving that feeling of anxiety. I’ll post more about that later, but for now let’s talk about this sea bass. Bass fish, whether fresh or salt water, are a high protein, low fat fish which also boast a healthy servings of the omega-3 that we all need. Also, it’s a delicious, flakey white fish that you can do so much with in the kitchen.

“Bass fish, whether fresh or salt water, are a high protein, low fat fish which also boast a healthy servings of the omega-3 that we all need.”
The thing I love about this recipe is that you can use it in a variety of cooking styles: oven-baked, on the grill, broiled, or stove-top. I went with oven-baked this time so that I could cook it with the asparagus simultaneously and have dinner in record time because… I was hungry 🙂

 

You know what the BEST part about that picture is? It means cleanup for this already easy to cook meal is basically non-existent. How amazing is that? 
To do this the oven-baked way you’ll need to heat your oven to 450 degrees (F). Grab the foil and prepare your sheet pan so that when the fish is ready to be transferred to the oven you’re ready to go. I also cooked asparagus with the fish so I created a separate “foil tray” about 2/3 of the way over on the sheet pan, but if you’re just doing the fish you can skip that part.
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 11/2 tbsp evoo
Instructions:
  1. In small bowl, mix garlic, onion, paprika, lemon pepper and salt. Sprinkle over the flesh of the fish.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Place fish to cook skin side up for 4 minutes
  4. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with garlic and parsley. Remove when melted and set aside.
  5. After the 4 minutes is up, transfer the fish to the foiled pan and place flesh side up
  6. Drizzle the butter sauce even over the fish. You can even if out with a spoon or a spatula if you want even coverage, or leave it drizzled for a different taste in each bite!
  7. Cook for 7-8 mins in the oven
  8. Serve warm!
Side dish notes:
You can serve this wish any vegetable you want, but if you’re looking for a healthy dose of those foods to support your mental health go for asparagus, broccoli, spinach, Brussel’s sprouts or kale. If you want to bake the asparagus with the fish like I did, drizzle it with EVOO in it’s section of the baking sheet and top with a seasoning of your choice. I’ve recently rediscovered my truffle salt so I used that. 
I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you make the fish, and how it turns out!