The Answer is Almost Always Vegetables!

I get asked a lot of questions about nutrition. Nutrition and Fitness go hand and hand. Dean and I have both come from backgrounds of unhealthy living to a much healthier state. Dean has lost over 100 pounds. He stopped weighing in when he didn't want to see the number on the scale anymore. I was unfamiliar with 'real' foods for a very long time. I ate from boxes and cans and LIttle Debbie Snack Cakes were often a meal for me. Not so much anymore for either of us. 

Our biggest change was eating vegetables and lots of them. Here is why. 

  • Low in Calorie
  • Low in sugars
  • high in fiber
  • high in water content
  • off the charts in vitamins and minerals

Just for the record, these are all great things. Actually, you can think of non-starchy vegetables as being (almost) "free" in terms of the calories they will add to your diet. Especially when you consider how much fiber, and how many vitamins and minerals they provide for your body. You can eat copious amounts of them every day without gaining weight. Yes, they are that magical. 

In fact, if you’re ever hungry - even after having already eaten an appropriate amount of food - choosing to eat more vegetables to fill yourself up is always going to be your best bet. Low in calories, high in fiber, high in water, it's a recipe for successful weight loss. 

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:

  • Salad – Spinach, kale, arugula, bok choy, beet greens, collard greens, radicchio, watercress
  • Vegetables – Asparagus, artichoke, bean sprouts, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, green beans, green onions, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, radishes, rutabaga, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, zucchini

This is by no means is an exhaustive list, but it's a good start to get the wheels turning at the grocery store. Eat these freely; we typically don't put a cap on how many non-starchy vegetables you can eat because the calorie content is so low.

 

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to help you get veggies in at every meal.

Mini Quiche

  • 2 cups Spinach
  •  ¼ cup Red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup Onion, chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • ¼ cup Swiss cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 ounces ham

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all the ingredients to a blender, blend on low. Lightly coat a muffin tray with peanut. Fill each cup ½ way, bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool. Freeze until ready to use. Serve with salsa. Feta or cheddar can be substituted for the cheese. (Recipe from Gourmet Nutition by John Beradi.)

 

Tropical Tacos with Slaw

Slaw:

  • 2 large carrots, grated

  • 1 small jicama, grated

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 large head butter lettuce

Taco meat:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 pound ground turkey, pork or chicken

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 mango, cored, peeled, and diced

 

 In a large bowl, mix carrots, jicama, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside. Separate lettuce head into individual leaves, wash, and set aside. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then sauté the onion and jalapeño until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and as soon as it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds, crumble the ground turkey into the pan. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, allspice, salt, and pepper. Add to the pan, and stir until fragrant, then add the coconut aminos and mango. Sauté until combined and the mango is warm, about 2 minutes. Spoon turkey into individual lettuce leaves and top with carrot-jicama slaw.

 

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pie - all time favorite with my kids. I haven't met a person who doesn't like this.

  • 1 large spaghetti squash 
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage or breakfast sausage
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced 
  • 1 red pepper, diced 
  • 1 green pepper, diced 
  • 1 cup pizza sauce (no sugar added) 
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste 
  • 3 eggs, whisked

 Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a fork easier goes into it. Then reduce oven hear to 350 degrees. While squash is cooking, place a skillet over medium heat. Add Italian sausage, onion, and peppers. Cook until meat is no longer pink and veggies are soft. Once squash is done cooking, remove the seeds and shred. Place into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Add sausage and vegetable mixture to squash and combine. Add pizza sauce, dried basil, and salt and pepper to the baking dish and mix well. Last add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix thoroughly. Bake for 1 hour.

 

Broccoli Pecan Salad

  • 1-1/2 pound broccoli washed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, optional

Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 Cut broccoli into bite size pieces and add them to a pot of boiling water. Return to a boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Gently mix in raisins and pecan pieces. Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Pour over the broccoli mixture. Mix gently, adding one or two squeezes of fresh lemon juice, if desired. Serve chilled.

 

Beets and Beans  - This recipe is really excellent

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 large beet

Scrub and quarter beet; wrap in foil and roast at 450 for about 30 minutes until tender. Place onion in a bowl, cover with boiling water, let stand 15 minutes. Blanch green beans in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.; plunge into cold water. Drain onions, toss with salt, pepper and vinegar; set aside. Skin and slice cooled beets.

Whisk together: 

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Truvia
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 Now: drain onions and squeeze dry. Toss half with beets, other half with beans. Arrange the beets and beans on a serving platter--very lovely, the contrast!--Pour dressing over veggies, let stand 15 minutes before serving.

 

Greek Summer Salad

  • 1/2 red onion, cut into small rings
  • 1 tomato, diced (I use cherry tomatoes, cut in half)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pepper to taste

 In a glass bowl combine the onion, tomato, zucchini, and feta cheese. Add in vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and then refrigerate to allow the flavors to develop. Every time I make this recipe someone ask me to send it along to them. Give it a try. But don't say I didn't warn you when  you have to retype this out for others.

 

Green Salad with Celery, Walnuts and Cranberries (this was my favorite, but that is probably because I love cranberries, the celery made this fantastic)

Salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss together:
  • 10 cups mixed greens
  • 1 ½ cups sliced celery
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

 Dressing:  Whisk together

  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

 Toss salad with just enough dressing to lightly coat. Good news is that I now have this fabulous dressing for other salads! It made a ton

 

Apple Romaine Salad with Apple Vinaigrette - This is one our Fall favorites.

 

  • Romaine lettuce (recipe says 2 bags? I just dump romaine into a bowl since I don’t use bags….)
  • 3 medium apples, cut into wedges
  • Lemon juice
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, optional

 Apple vinaigrette (makes 1 ½ cups – you’ll have extra):

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp. minced white onions
  • ½ tsp. ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt 
  • ¼ cup olive oil

 Put lettuce in large bowl. Toss apple wedges with lemon juice to keep from browning. Blend vinegar, onion, mustard, and salt. Pour dressing over romaine just before serving and toss. Top with apple wedges, chopped green onions and sunflower seeds (optional).

 

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup water or coconut milk

 In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, steam the cauliflower and cashews in water until cauliflower is tender. Transfer cauliflower mixture to a food processor or blender. Puree in small batches. Top with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Cauliflower and Sausage Hash

  • 3/4 lb. cauliflower, chopped into small pieces;
  • Ground sausage, browned
  • 1 medium onion, diced;
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika;
  • 3 tbsp. water;
  • 1 clove garlic, minced;
  • Juice from half a lemon;
  • 2 tsp. fresh parsley, minced;
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, fried; (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

 Cook the sausage in a skillet over a medium-high heat until crispy (about 10 minutes). Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, add the cauliflower, garlic, and onion. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to golden. Add the smoked paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the water. Cover the skillet and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Return the sausage to the skillet. Add the lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes; then remove from the heat and sprinkle fresh parsley on top. Serve with eggs, or as a side for any meal.

 

Cauliflower Rice

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, grated (I run it through a food processor)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and start to sauté the grated cauliflower over medium heat. Add the chicken stock. Continue sautéing, stirring, until the cauliflower is al dente. Don’t cook it too long or it will turn to mush. I estimate this takes 5-7 minutes, but just taste it as you go and pull it off the heat when it’s done.

Spanish Roasted Cauliflower                  

  • 5 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 pound)
  • 24 green Spanish olives, pitted and halved
  • 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

 Preheat the oven to 450°. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with pepper and salt. Toss well to coat. Bake at 450° for 22 minutes or until cauliflower is browned and crisp-tender, stirring after 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites  These are another Carlson family favorite, football and these go hand in hand. 

  • 1 small head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets (about 5 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons Frank’s Hot Sauce (or similar hot sauce of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups almond flour

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a backing sheet lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, hot sauce, white vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Put the almond flour in a small shallow bowl. Make an assembly line with the cauliflower florets, the sauce and the almond flour.

Use one hand to dip a floret into the sauce and then drop it into the almond flour. Using the other hand, coat the floret well with the almond flour and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all cauliflower florets are coated and on baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy! 

 

I overloaded you with recipes but that is for you to sort through. If you don't like them don't eat them.

I'm here to get you going and then keep you moving forward in your healthy nutrition plan. A healthy eating plan will promote a healthier body. A healthier body is a happier you. 

Coach Nancy

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