Homemade Kale Chips

Last week I was talking about making kale chips on twitter, and so many people asked me about it, so I was excited to do a segment on NBC 13 Daytime Alabama showing how simple it is. I also talked about some of my favorite Power Foods, so tune in this Wednesday on NBC at 11:30 CST. My daughter, Leigh, can even make these on her own, so I promise that it’s a breeze. They are as healthy as they are delicious, and they work great as an appetizer or side dish.

Gluten Free: Grain-Free Granola

One of my food weaknesses is definitely granola so I thought I would develop a recipe for a Grain-Free Granola for all of those who can’t have grains, are gluten-free, are following the Paleo Diet or are watching their carbohydrate intake. This recipe for Grain-Free Granola is super easy to make, and it’s full of my favorite seeds and nuts. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand as all of the nuts and seeds are easily interchangeable. This granola makes a great breakfast idea stirred into nonfat Greek Yogurt or with almond milk. It also makes a great afternoon snack, a healthy sweet to put in your children’s lunch, or a wonderful dinnertime dessert served with fruit.

Gluten-Free Main Dish: Balsamic Chicken with Pine Nuts

I am so excited about sharing this simple, healthy main dish. In under 30 minutes, this recipe for Balsamic Chicken Cutlets makes a great healthy weeknight or weekend entree. This recipe is perfect if you’re following a gluten-free, Paleo or low carb diet. Pine nuts are a great source of protein, dietary fiber, magnesium and iron, and they add great flavor and crunch to this easy recipe.

No-Bake Paleo and Gluten-Free Cookies

These No-Bake Paleo Cookies were introduced to me by my friend, Tanya, who has been having success with the Paleo Diet. What I love about these cookies is that they are gluten free, high in omega 3 fatty acids, and best of all, taste great. This recipe is great if you’re on a gluten-free diet, trying to eat low carbohydrates or following the the Paleo Diet, which is based around eating quality sources of protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafoods, fats high in omega-3 and low-glycemic carbohydrates. This is a low-carb diet which omits refined sugars and grains, dairy, trans fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods. For more information see The Paleo Diet. Best of all, these cookies are no bake!

Chicken Couscous Salad

If you’re looking for a light, healthy and delicious salad, this Chicken Couscous Salad is the answer. Start with a rotisserie or leftover grilled chicken and combine with cooked couscous, cherry tomatoes, basil and either sherry or balsamic vinegar. Top it off with goat cheese or even feta, and you have a super wholesome main dish salad. I loved serving this over arugula leaves, but my kids just ate it straight out of this bowl. This makes a great lunch recipe or easy dinnertime entree.

Top 10 Heart Healthy Tips

February is heart health month, so I thought I would share some of my healthy heart tips. A few of my favorite heart healthy foods are salmon, nuts, oatmeal, dark chocolate, tomatoes, berries and even red wine (in moderation). Read on for some easy tips to better heart health.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol-If you reduce trans and saturated fats, you can reduce your cholesterol.

Choose: canola oil and olive oil

Avoid: butter, lard, bacon, fat

2. Choose Low Fat Protein Sources-Choose lean meats, eat less red meat and choose heart healthy fish (such as wild salmon and mackerel). These are filled with omega 3-fatty acids. Other good options include lean meats and poultry, low-fat daily products and egg whites. Avoid full fat milk and dairy products, egg yolks, bacon and fried foods.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits-Eat raw fruits and veggies, and if you cook your vegetables, steam, grill or sauté them.

Avoid: frying vegetables, vegetables in cream sauces and fruit in heavy syrup.

4. Eat Whole Grains and Seeds-Choose whole grains and add seeds such as ground flaxseed and chia seeds to your diet. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.

Avoid: white bread, cakes, and pies

5. Reduce sodium intake-Sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Choose fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt.

Avoid: table salt, full sodium canned soup, soy sauce, and tomato juice

6. Control portions-Watch your portions. A serving of pasta is ½ cup and the size of a hockey puck. 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat is the size of deck of cards.

7. Plan your daily meals ahead of time – Eat out less and cook healthy meals more.

8. Eat more Power-Foods-Power foods are those foods packed with antioxidants such as cherries, strawberries, berries, chia and flaxseeds, lentils, pomegranates, quinoa and more.

9. Exercise that heart-Try to exercise 5 to 6 times a week. Walk, run, dance, bike, swim or do what you love to get that heart pumping.

10. Replace junk food with fruits and vegetables– Start by replacing one junk food a week, and increase this every week  until you have a cleaner diet.

Photo above via pinterest  

photo above from Pinterest

Valentine’s Day Trail Mix

Valentines is almost here, and I thought I would share my latest healthy idea of what you can snack on at home, in the office or at your kids’ class parties. This Valentine Trail Mix is filled with healthy nuts, yogurt covered pretzels and raisins. Feel free to add your favorite nuts and dried fruits. Top it off with a small amount of regular or peanut M & M’s, and you’ll have a winning Valentine’s Day treat that is fairly healthy too.

Healthy Valentine’s Recipe: Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

I have been doing a lot of research, writing and speaking on super-foods, and Kefir is definitely on my list. I am so excited about Frozen Kefir by Lifeway because it has is only 90 calories per 1/2 cup serving, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber. It is also 99% lactose free, all natural and gluten-free. In addition, it is packed with 10 probiotics which rev up your immunity and are great for digestion. My kids absolutely went wild over the strawberry, especially in this Strawberry Kefir Smoothie. With only 3 ingredients, you will have a refreshing and healthy smoothie perfect for breakfast, afternoon snack or light dessert.

I get a lot of questions about probiotics. What are they? Probiotics, which literally mean “beneficial to life,” are live cultures that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Most probiotics include the live active cultures often added to foods like yogurt. Researchers have studied bacteria extensively and considerable evidence indicates that there are several strains of essential good-for-you bacteria that have an ability to promote healthy gastrointestinal functions. Lifeway Kefir contains seven to ten billion CFU’s of 10 strains of bacteria, plus ProBoost, an exclusive pair of clinically proven probiotics to balance your body’s ecosystem, support digestive health and immunity. That’s 12 live and active cultures per cup to produce a wide array of health benefits. You can find Lifeway frozen Kefir at Whole Foods.

Chia Seed Banana-Nut Muffins

Have you heard of Chia Seeds? If you haven’t, read on. These wonderful seeds are on my list of top super foods of 2012. Chia seeds have more calcium and fiber than flaxseed, and they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. They are also said to boost energy levels. They have a nutlike flavor, and they add flavor and crunch to baked goods, oatmeal, cereal, salads and in yogurt. Try them in this recipe for Chia Banana-Nut Muffins. It’s so easy, with no mixer needed. I made these on sunday, and before I could turn around, all of them were gone. My kids went wild over these. Feel free to use mini muffin pans for variety. If you use mini pans, bake them at 350F for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Enjoy, and check out this powerful seed.

Chia picture from Pinterest

 

 

 

 

Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint

Quinoa is one of my favorite Super Foods of 2012. I talked a great deal about quinoa this weekend at my nutrition/healthy eating seminar including how to pronounce it, purchase it and cook it. I had a lot of wonderful questions regarding this gluten-free grain. One serving of quinoa provides all 8 essential amino acids, and it is high in protein and fiber. It’s also a wonderful grain for those on a gluten-free diet, and it works wonderful for breakfast, a side, in soups and salads. I recommend buying the rinsed version to make your life even easier. I developed this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint for Thanksgiving for Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms Turkey. It makes a great side dish or salad, and my kids absolutely loved it. Add grilled chicken or shrimp if you wish for a main dish salad.