Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

It’s fall! And you know what that means: pumpkin season is among us! Pumpkin junkies unite as pumpkin flavored everything crowd grocery store shelves and fill people’s Pinterest boards. This time of year there seems to be nothing made without pumpkin! Today I would like to address perhaps the most beloved pumpkin treat of all: Pumpkin Spice coffee drinks and flavored coffee creamers. See, most traditional coffee creamers and specialty coffee drinks are made using all kinds of unwanted ingredients. Artificial flavors, artificial colors, refined sugars, preservatives and trans-fats are often added to these popular products and can wreak havoc on our health. What most people don’t realize, though, is just how simple it really is to forego these chemical concoctions and simply make your own.  Choosing to make your own coffee creamer at home allows you to not only skip all the artificial junk and unwanted additives in store bought creamers and specialty coffee drinks, but also gives you the health benefits of using nutrient dense, whole food ingredients!

Pumpkin is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that provide us with a number of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties.

100% Pure Maple Syrup contains several essential nutrients and is packed with polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that benefit our health tremendously. (Keep in mind pure maple syrup is 66-67% sugar so it should be enjoyed in moderation.)

Pure Vanilla Extract contains about 200 different compounds, many of which have antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.

Pumpkin Pie Spice is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice- all of which act as potent antioxidants and offer a whole slew of proven medicinal benefits.

I have created a delicious coffee creamer recipe using all of these ingredients that will not only make your taste buds overflow with immense joy but will drastically up the antioxidant power of your morning coffee!

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Ingredients:

2 cups Half-and-Half

(to make this dairy-free or paleo-friendly, use unsweetened almond milk)

1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree

1/4 cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup

2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a small sauce pan and whisk together over low heat until simmering (don’t boil).
  2. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
  3. Allow to cool and store in a sealed container.
  4. Keep in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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This also makes an incredible gift for any fellow pumpkin lovers…so if we’re being honest: it makes a great gift for just about everyone!

*Expert tip: Whenever I cook with pumpkin, there always seems to be a random amount left over and it doesn’t last very long. Pumpkin can be frozen for later, otherwise, here are some simple and creative ways to use up what’s left.

Enjoy!

Guiltless Chocolate PB “Ice Cream” Cups

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Ice Cream are my three favorite ways to satisfy a sweet tooth. When I reach for items containing any of these at the supermarket I am always frustratingly disappointed at the ingredient list. Now, I’m not being unrealistic- I understand I am indulging in an occasional treat that will most likely be high in sugar and not offer much else nutritionally BUT is it really necessary that an endless number of chemical preservatives, artificial flavors and colors be added to it as well? Anyways, knowing full well the dangers of consuming such ingredients, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I came up with an all natural and MUCH healthier version of an American favorite: Reese’s Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cups. I have included a nutritional comparison at the bottom to show you just how big of a difference there is between the traditional version of this dessert and my homemade recipe.

Here’s how I made it…

Ingredients: (Makes 12-14 cups)

1 16 oz can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (creamy)

1/2 cup milk (I used organic cows milk, but almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk should work just as well)

6 pitted soft dates

1 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup (may substitute with honey)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Coarse sea salt to taste

Directions:

1. Add garbanzo beans, peanut butter, milk and dates to food processor. Mix until well combined and smooth (about 1-2 minutes).

2. Add chocolate chips & stir in by hand.

3. Place batter into lined muffin tin. Top each cup with a pinch of coarse sea salt. (don’t skip this step! It enhances the flavor tremendously)

4. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

5. Allow “ice cream” cup to soften at room temperature for 3-5 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

These are seriously SO delicious. I know it’s hard to believe that garbanzo beans can taste like smooth cold ice cream, but they do! And it’s not just my crazy dietitian taste buds that think so- this recipe is 100% husband approved (and he’s the KING of Reese’s peanut butter cups)!

Now for the good stuff: wonder how these Chocolate PB “Ice Cream” Cups compare to the real deal? Take a look at this nutritional break down (per serving):

                          Reese’s                                                VS.                                                  My Recipe

                        220 calories                                                                                                     120 calories

              16 g Fat (8 g Saturated Fat)                                                                         5.5 g Fat (2 g Saturated Fat)

                          0 g Fiber                                                                                                            3 g Fiber

                        16 g Sugar                                                                                                           8 g Sugar

                        2 g Protein                                                                                                           4 g Protein

                * 8 chemical additives                                                                                      * ZERO chemical additives

                   * 1 artificial color                                                                                              * ZERO artificial colors

There you have it! You do not have to sabotage your diet in order to satisfy a sweet tooth. I hope you all love these as much as I do. Let me know what you think 🙂

Salad Sabotage: The Truth About Salad Dressing

Most people hear the word salad and automatically think “healthy.” Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. In fact, more often than not, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, salads have the potential to be one of the world’s healthiest and most well-balanced meals. A heaping pile of fresh fruits and veggies topped with lean protein, a little bit of dairy, and some healthy fat? This is what dietitians’ dreams are made of! How could you go possibly go wrong? The problem is, we’re smothering this should-be nutritious meal with unhealthy trans fats, sugar, chemicals and other harmful additives when we use store-bought salad dressing.

Most store bought salad dressings are made with highly refined oils that are full of harmful trans fats. As always, the truth lies in the ingredients so turn the bottle around and read. The following oils should be avoided: canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil & cottonseed oil. You may be wondering how an oil made from seeds and vegetables could be bad for you. The problem isn’t the seeds and vegetables themselves- its HOW the oils are derived from them. The process creates trans fats and they are extremely detrimental to your health.

Sugar is another popular ingredient in store bought salad dressings. Sugar can be disguised using about 60 different names on food labels so use the guidelines in my blog post Identifying Hidden Sugar to make sure you’re familiar with all of them.

Lastly, the components of salad dressings are not designed to be in a perfect emulsion nor should they be shelf stable for years. Nothing a solid dose of chemicals, preservatives, stabilizing agents and sweeteners can’t take care of!

Here are a few other harmful additives to avoid:

Disodium Guanylate

Disodium Inosinate

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Calcium Disodium EDTA

Gums

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Okay, I feel your frustration. But there’s good news!! I have been enjoying salads for years and haven’t purchased a single salad dressing! First of all there are several ways to dress your salad without using salad dressing at all. A few of my favorite alternatives are: guacamole, salsa, cottage cheese, hummus, olive oil & lemon and olive oil & vinegar. If you’re still not convinced to ditch your dressing, here are some simple, healthy recipes that may mimic a few of your bottled favorites:

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Honey Mustard

(6 servings, 24 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

Ingredients:
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ Tbsp yellow OR dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey

Directions:
1.Whisk ingredients together until well combined.

Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

*Works well as a dressing, dip, or spread

Ranch (8 servings, 20-25 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

Ingredients:
2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 clove garlic (or ½ tsp minced garlic)
¼-½ cup buttermilk
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Stir together all ingredients (except for buttermilk) in a bowl. Slowly add buttermilk until desired consistency is reached. For the best flavor, refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Ceasar (10 servings, 40 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

Ingredients:
¾ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
5 anchovies
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Tzatziki

(8 servings, 15 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

Ingredients:
¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (I highly recommend using Fage it gives the perfect thick and creamy consistency)
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp minced garlic)
½ baby cucumber (about 4”)
1 Tbsp dill

Directions:
1. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds using a spoon (no need to peel)
2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until well combined and desired consistency is reached (I like mine chunky).
*Makes a great veggie dip or salad dressing. Leave out the cucumber and experiment with different herbs and spices for limitless creamy herb salad dressing options.

Balsamic Vinaigrette (6 servings, 120 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white or regular balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed (or ½ tsp minced garlic)
½ tsp ground mustard
1 Tbsp Honey (*optional- if you like sweeter vinaigrettes)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl.

Keep in Mind:
1. These salad dressings do not contain preservatives like bottled dressings from the store. They will last 1week in your refrigerator so only make what you plan to use.
2. There aren’t any chemicals or additives in these dressings keeping the ingredients in a perfect emulsion. It is normal for ingredients to separate, just shake or whisk well before using.

Happy Eating!

5 Reasons Red Cabbage Rocks

There is a reason why I encourage people to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The distinct vibrant hues of fruits and vegetables indicate an abundance of various nutrients and health benefits they have to offer. The more colorful your diet, the bigger variety of nutrients in it and the wider range of health benefits you will receive. When it comes to cabbage, this concept is no different. The bright purple hue of red cabbage speaks to some of its most valuable health benefits:

Cancer Prevention

Red cabbage is very rich in phytonutrient antioxidants. These are what actually give cabbage its purple color. As you know, antioxidants help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Red cabbage is also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, which aide in the prevention of chronic inflammation, and therefore cancer. There are also nutrients called glucosinolates found in cabbage, which can be converted into compounds that prevent several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer. The combination of ALL THREE of these cancer fighting compounds gives red cabbage a one-up on several other fruits and vegetables when it comes to cancer prevention.

Digestive Health

Glucosinolates, antioxidant polyphenols, and glutamine found in red cabbage provide health benefits for our stomach and digestive tract lining. Red cabbage is also high in insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation, lowers the risk of developing diverticular disease and helps relieve the symptoms of GI conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Weight Loss

Red cabbage (like most other fruits and vegetables) is high in dietary fiber and very low in calories.  Fiber is what helps you feel full and feeling full for less is always beneficial when trying to lose weight. Red cabbage is also very nutrient dense, providing a wealth of important vitamins and minerals at the expense of very few calories.

Lower Cholesterol

The ability of red cabbage to lower cholesterol has been proven scientifically in a number of studies. There is even a study that compares the cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed cabbage with the cholesterol-lowering ability of the prescription drug cholestyramine and red cabbage stands up!

Eye and Skin Health

Red Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is extremely important for maintaining eye health. Vitamin A can also prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. In addition to being beneficial to your eyes, Vitamin A is a godsend for your skin. It provides protection from sun damage and improves skin elasticity. The antioxidants in red cabbage also fight common signs of aging skin such as wrinkles and age spots by keeping your skin fresh, tight, and flexible.

My favorite way to enjoy red cabbage is in a fresh, crisp coleslaw. Recently I discovered this red cabbage slaw recipe with a tangy carrot ginger dressing to die for! Shout out to fellow food lover Nom Nom Paleo for this insanely good recipe.

How and Why You Should be Eating Artichoke

Artichoke has been recognized by the USDA for containing more antioxidants than any other vegetable. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium and chromium. Artichokes are also a good source of VItamin C, Vitamin A, folic acid, biotin, potassium, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and manganese. If that isn’t reason enough to indulge in this delicious vegetable, here are 4 more reasons you should be adding artichokes to your diet:

Healthy Liver Function

Artichokes have been used for years in alternative medicine to treat liver ailments. Antioxidants cynarin and silymarin found in artichokes help protect the liver against toxins and infection.  Studies have even found that they may help regenerate liver tissue that has been subjected to harmful toxins. Cynarin also boosts the release of bile (bile helps move toxins out of the liver) and therefore has the ability to improve the digestion of fats as well as improve conditions such as jaundice or even liver failure. Although it hasn’t been proven scientifically, artichokes have been rumored to treat alcohol-induced hangovers because of their positive effects on the liver.

Lower Cholesterol

Artichokes are high in antioxidants and fiber (one artichoke provides about 1/4 of recommended daily fiber intake). Many studies have shown cynarin and luteolinis found in artichoke leaves are effective in reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels and can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Digestive Health

Research shows artichoke leaf extract can help improve the symptoms of dyspepsia (indigestion) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Also, as mentioned before, cynarin found in artichokes promotes the creation and release of bile in the liver, which can help us better absorb fats and fat soluble vitamins from the foods we eat.

Cancer Prevention

It’s high antioxidant concentration gives artichoke cancer-fighting properties. Specifically antioxidants quercetin, rutin and gallic acid have been known to prompt apoptosis, or cell death, thereby having the ability to decrease the spread of cancer cells.

Alright, now HOW on earth do you eat these things?

Most people consume the meaty “hearts” of artichokes, but it is actually the leaves of an artichoke that offer the majority of it’s health benefits. Luckily, there are ways to prepare an artichoke so that you can consume both.

If your only encounter with artichoke has been in the form of cheesy spinach and artichoke dip, then you’re missing out! When cooked right these vegetables are DELICIOUS on their own. Preparing and eating a whole artichoke may seem intimidating, but it’s really quite simple. When a whole, fresh artichoke is steamed, boiled or roasted you can pull off each individual leaf. At the bottom of each leaf, there is a tender meaty flesh that can be scraped off using your teeth. As you work your way to the center of the artichoke the leaves will have more “meat” on them and eventually you will be able to bite the whole bottom of the leaf off. The center of the artichoke, or the “heart” is entirely edible and a tasty reward at the end of all your leaf peeling.

My favorite way to prepare an artichoke:

Boil the whole artichoke for about 10 minutes. Remove the artichoke from the water and allow to cool or cool under cold running water. Then slice the artichoke in half length wise from the tip to the stem and remove the small flowery center using a spoon. (Be careful not to remove too much of the artichoke heart during this step). Grill the artichoke for 5-10 minutes on each side, or until the outside of the artichoke begins to brown. The charred flavor it gets from the grill is unbeatable. While grilling, I brush the artichoke with olive oil and garlic or a homemade garlic mayo, but you may season it however you like! Mmmm Mmmm (*expert tip: using lemon juice during preparation will help prevent your artichoke from turning brown, which is a natural reaction artichoke has when it is cut and exposed to air- you can boil it in lemon water, or simply squeeze lemon over it before cooking)

Enjoy!

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Identified as one of our earliest remedies, apple cider vinegar has medicinal qualities that date back to Hippocrates. It’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties account for it’s many health benefits, but apple cider vinegar has been known to serve a variety of purposes including ones in beauty and housekeeping too.  Supported by both science and folk wisdom, Apple Cider Vinegar is rumored to cure everything from diabetes to dandruff. The following are some of the many benefits and uses of Apple Cider Vinegar:

Improve Skin appearance

The malic and lactic acids found in apple cider vinegar help balance the pH of your skin. They also soften and exfoliate your skin, reducing the appearance of blemishes.  This combined with it’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties gives apple cider vinegar the ability to help fade bruises and blemishes, clear acne, treat psoriasis, eczema, dandruff and dry skin. Simply apply apple cider vinegar to affected area using a cotton ball.

Fight Bacteria-related Illnesses

Most bacteria cannot survive in the acidic environment of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Adding 1-2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to warm water and drinking it can soothe a sore throat, clear a stuffy nose, treat bacteria-related diarrhea and soothe an upset stomach.

Prevent Indigestion & Treat Acid Reflux

1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water before a trigger meal can help prevent indigestion. 1-2 teaspoons per day can treat acid reflux. (*fun fact: most people who suffer from acid reflux are prescribed an antacid, which reduces the production of acid in your stomach, but what most people don’t know is that you can suffer from acid reflux because of the opposite problem – you don’t have enough acid! so an antacid is actually making it worse. A squeeze of lemon or a couple teaspoons of apple cider vinegar each day could be a natural and alternative fix to your reflux problems)

Lose Weight

Apple Cider Vinegar contains acetic acid, which can help suppress your appetite, increase your metabolism  and reduce water retention; hence it’s valuable role in weight reduction. This should of course be balanced with a healthy diet and exercise plan.

Lower Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

Several studies with rats have shown that apple cider vinegar can aide in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. More research is being done to prove this is applicable to humans as well.

Control Blood Sugars

The acid in apple cider vinegar gives it an anti-glycemic effect. Several studies have linked the consumption of apple cider vinegar to reduced blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 Diabetes (who were not taking insulin).

Freshen Mouth

Using a swig of apple cider vinegar (diluted with water if preferred) as a mouth rinse can help control bad breath and whiten teeth.

My Favorite Way to reap the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar? In a morning cocktail!

FullSizeRender (9)Simply add the following ingredients into 8-10 oz of hot (almost boiling) water:

2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 shakes Cinnamon

1 Lemon wedge, squeezed

(*Optional: add 1 Tbsp honey to sweeten)

I have gotten in the habit of drinking this every morning, because I love the way it tastes. It is also the perfect energy and metabolism boost to start your day. The time you absolutely NEED to try this miracle health tonic though is when you wake up with a sore throat and you feel a cold coming on. This will soothe your sore throat almost immediately and help fight your cold too.  Enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Tilapia

Easy does it. This recipe is almost impossible to screw up and takes less than ten minutes to make.  And let me tell you, it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I just devoured two 4 oz filets myself and my mouth is still watering just writing about it.

What you’ll need:

4 Tilapia filets (approx. 4 oz each)

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut flour (you can substitute for another flour if you’d like)

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

4 Tbsp cup coconut oil

1 egg

1 Tbsp water

Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Set up a three bowl “breading station”: Bowl 1: place 1/2 cup coconut flour. Bowl 2: mix egg and 1Tbsp water using a whisk or fork until blended. Bowl (or plate) 3: Add the coconut flakes + 2 Tbsp coconut flour. (*tip: I purchase large flaked coconut, so I pulse my coconut flakes in my food processor for a few seconds prior to this step)

2. Take each piece of Tilapia through the breading process: One filet at a time, you will want to cover both sides of the Tilapia in flour, dip in egg wash and then press coconut topping onto both sides. Place breaded Tilapia on a plate until ready to cook.

3. Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan on medium-high. Place each Tilapia filet into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Coconut crust should brown (if not, turn your heat up). Remove from pan and season with salt to taste.

4. Enjoy!

Super Simple Salmon (with Lemon & Dill)

Salmon is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world. Why? It’s an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and selenium.These properties give salmon powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.They also have been proven to provide cardiovascular protection, support cognitive function, prevent cancer, and aide in skin and hair health. For these reasons and more, it is recommended that individuals consume salmon once per week.

In addition to salmon, I try to incorporate at least one item from each of the following protein categories each week:

Fish (tilapia, tuna, salmon, etc)

Shellfish/other Seafood (shrimp, scallops, crab, etc)

Pork (filet, ribs, bacon, etc)- this is probably the category I consume least often

Poultry (chicken, turkey)

Red meats (steak, ground beef, bison, buffalo, lamb, etc).

I encourage you to eat the largest variety of these as possible (choosing lean meats when available). Although preparing some of these may seem intimidating, it’s rather simple. Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new- make a bison burger instead of using ground beef, for instance. Even if you consider yourself to be a “picky” eater, challenge yourself to try one new recipe each week and you may surprise yourself! I always, always, always encourage variety. The reason is because each and every food item serves a different purpose. Each vegetable, for example, contains different nutrients and therefore provides us with different health benefits. If all we ate was broccoli every day, we would be missing out on all the benefits that carrots, squash and spinach have to offer.  With that being said, variety does take effort. Food is my profession and I LOVE trying new things, but even I will catch myself habitually preparing my favorites. Often times I have to make a conscious decision to leave my comfort zone and create something new (and I’m never upset that I did). I encourage you to do the same. Cooking and eating should be fun, creative & enjoyable!

*Tip: An appropriate serving size of any of the protein sources listed above is 3-4 ounces, which is roughly the size and thickness of the palm of your hand (so there’s no need to reach for the 14 oz filet). I also regularly incorporate whole eggs (serving size 1-2), nuts and nut butters (serving size 1 ounce) as additional sources of protein in my diet*

Lemon & Dill Salmon with Baked Broccoli

Recipe serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Salmon filets (4-6 oz each)

4 Tbsp dill (fresh is preferred, but dried works too)

1/2 lemon

1/3 cup homemade mayo (search my blog for recipe)

2/3 head broccoli

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut or separate broccoli into desired size florets and place on un-greased baking sheet.

3. Massage broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.

5. While broccoli is baking, rub each filet of salmon with 1 Tbsp dill.

6. Pan fry salmon until done (3-5 minutes on each side depending on size and thickness of filet)

7. Stir remaining 2 Tbsp dill and the juice from 1/4 lemon into homemade mayo for sauce.

8. Serve remaining wedges of lemon on plate for additional juice as desired.

9. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Tortillas

Cauliflower is an ingredient I always keep on hand in my kitchen. Why? It is nutrient dense and incredibly versatile. Cauliflower is not just a great grain substitute for those following a gluten or grain-free diet; it is a low calorie, high-fiber and nutrient dense alternative to grains in general.  Cauliflower is packed with antioxidants, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin K and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It can replace rice or mashed potatoes and can be used to make pizza crust, bagels, tortillas and more. The possibilities are truly endless. Tonight my husband and I wanted to make blackened fish tacos and decided to make tortillas using cauliflower.

Ingredients

2 cups riced cauliflower, packed (approximately 1 small head)

2 eggs

1 Tbsp oregano

salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cut cauliflower into small florets and place in food processor. Rice cauliflower in food processor until slightly smaller than rice. Measure 2 cups, packed.

3. Place riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes, stirring once half way through. Let cool for 1-2 minutes.

4. Scoop riced cauliflower into the center of a dish towel. (I usually do half at a time). Pick up the four corners of the dish towel and tightly squeeze the cooked cauliflower rice to the center. Squeeze and ring out excess water over the sink, like this:

Drained cauliflower should look similar to this:

5. Return drained cauliflower to bowl. Add eggs, oregano and salt and stir until combined.

6. Gently pour or scoop mixture onto a non-stick or lightly greased baking pan in four 6-inch circles- as if you were making pancakes. Use the back of your spoon to flatten and spread evenly.

7. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from the oven (the bottom edges should be slightly brown) and gently flip them over using a large spatula. Place them back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy these with anything you would normally serve in a tortilla: breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tonight my husband and I made blackened fish tacos with avocado, fresh cilantro, tomato, red onion, homemade mayo and fresh lime. Delish!

Perfect Fried Plantains

Photo taken in Banos, Ecuador (09/2013)

One of my favorite snacks is fried plantains. They are so simple to make and are melt-in-your mouth delicious. If you have tried commercially prepared or packaged plantain chips they don’t compare to the fresh, hot off the stove, homemade version. Plantains ripen much like bananas, green and slow to start and then much too quickly upon turning yellow. Plantains are not consumed raw and although you can cook plantains when they are still green, they are much easier to peel and handle once they are fully ripe.

What you’ll need:

1 plantain

1-2 Tbsp coconut oil

salt to taste

1 large frying pan

Once ripe, peel and slice your plantain. I recommend making thin, angled slices. This creates a larger surface area, allowing your plantain to cook and brown much faster.  Thicker slices tend to stay tender and soft. Plantains are delicious either way, but I prefer them crispy.

In a large frying pan, melt 1-2 Tbsp of coconut oil over medium-high heat. Then place your plantain slices in the pan in a single layer to cook and sprinkle with salt. The slices of one plantain should fill the entire bottom of your frying pan. Like this:

The plantains will begin to turn a transparent yellow as they begin to absorb the oil and cook through. After about 3-4 minutes, you should start to see the bottom edges turn brown.  At this time, flip your plantain slices over and brown the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Do not be afraid if your plantains start to look a little burnt. I promise you they wont taste it. Your finished product should look similar to this:

Enjoy!