Mediterranean Collard Wraps

Recently, I began following Kelly at Eatthegains.com and I loved looking at her recipes. She was the inspiration I had been missing! I seriously could look through her recipes all day!

One theme I saw that caught my interest was her collard wrap recipes. She had multiple versions, even a breakfast one! Naturally, I had to try it! i love collard greens, but I have never eaten a raw one, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was quite tasty. In fact, it served as a perfect wrap to hold all the goodies. I have been digging mediterranean flavors recently, so I opted to create my own flavor profile using her (Kelly) idea of using the leaf as the wrap!

I encourage you to try these if you are doing low carb or just as a high protein afternoon snack!

Check it out!

Ingredients (ingredients are for 1 wrap)

  • 1 Large Collard Leaf, washed

  • 14g hummus

  • 14g feta cheese

  • 2.5 ounces chicken breast

  • 50g bell pepper

  • 50g cucumber

Directions:

  • Wash the collard leaf and pat dry. Cut the large part of the stem away

  • Julienne the cucumbers and red peppers. Then layer the ingredients in the center of the leaf.

  • Wrap the collard leaf like a burrito, cut and enjoy!

Nutrition Information per wrap: 170 calories, 21g protein/7g carbohydrates/6g fat

Collard Wraps.JPG

Blistered Shishito Peppers

It is no secret that I was a nanny in my former days. In fact, I was a nanny for a LONG time, it was how I was able to pay my way through college. Now, it may seem silly, but I learned an immense amount about adulting during this time. Shocker, right? You may be thinking, “Duh Ashley, you were taking care of someone’s kids, of course you had to adult!”. But it was more about the responsibility and relationships that were forged with the families and the kids that transformed me. This is also when I began cooking for someone other than myself, so I began to care if the food I was preparing was edible and tasty. I learned about foods that I had never tried before in an effort to bring variety to the little munchkins’ diets, which has paid off ten fold in my own health journey. I find that I am much more willing to try new and odd things in my adult life and I actually find that cooking new items are a fun challenge for me.

The last family I cared introduced me to shishito peppers. I had never heard of these mild and delicious peppers. When I arrived one morning, I was told that there were some roasted shishito peppers in the fridge and asked if I had tried some. I shook my head thinking “uhhh, nah, I don’t really like peppers like that”, but my curiosity really got the best of me, and I am glad it did, because these little babies are amazing. I tried one, and it took effort to not eat the entire container full of roasted peppers.

Ever since then, I feel like I have been seeing these peppers pop up everywhere, in fancy restaurants as appetizers, at the seasonal markets, in little lunch dining halls. Maybe it’s just because I am paying attention more? But hey, I am not complaining!

The best part about all of this? The ease of making them! I love using my air fryer for this because it requires no prep at all, but if you don’t have an air fryer, an oven works just as well!

Check it out!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs Shishito Peppers

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

  • pinch of salt


Directions

  • In the Air fryer: Toss the peppers with the olive oil and place in the air fryer for 10 minutes at 375F. At 5 minutes, pull the basket out and shake to mix up. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, then salt to taste.

  • In the Oven: Toss the peppers with the olive oil and place on a silpat or non stick baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F. When done, salt to taste.


Shishito Peppers.JPG

Enjoy!

How To Read a Nutrition Label

A few days ago, as I was perusing Trader Joe’s- yes, perusing, because I LOVE looking at all their seasonal offerings-I realized that the first thing I was doing with each beautifully packaged item, was flipping it over to read the label on the back. This is all too normal for me. Before it goes into my grocery cart, I scan the label and look at the nutrition information.

As per usual, the store was packed with people filling their carts for the impending holiday. I caught myself just observing people shop and I very rarely saw anyone look at the label. And then it hit me, what if people aren’t looking at labels because they don’t know what to look for or how to read the label?

That led me here.

Here is your basic guide to reading a nutrition label:

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label_2016.png

The best way to read a label is from top to bottom, left to right.

Focus on these 5 key factors first:

Serving Size: How much of the food is considered one serving. Shown in both measurements and weight. Weight is generally more accurate.

Total Calories: the amount of calories in each SERVING.

Total Fat: The first macronutrient, shown in grams. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from fat. Each gram of fat has 9 calories.

Total Carbohydrates: The second macronutrient. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories.

Total Protein: The third macronutrient. The amount of calories in each SERVING that come from protein. Each gram of protein has 4 calories.

Now, you may be thinking, but what about all the other things on the label? Those metrics can be used if you have a specific goal, weight wise or health wise. Master the basics and you will be well on your way to decoding the full label and utilizing the information for your benefit.

I encourage you to start looking at the labels in your cabinet, your pantry, and everything you pick up in your grocery store trip. Like the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and in this case practice makes you an informed consumer.


The Perfect Pumpkin Chili

Down here in Georgia, we are some of the last to see the winter wonderland. And even then, we get mostly winter and very little wonderland. We are lucky to see snow at all, unlike our counterparts north of us. My home away from home in Asheville, got 16 inches of snow this past weekend! 16 inches! While we suffered through the nasty rain, I would much rather the beautiful snow over the pouring rain any day!

One thing we had in common though, it was frigid cold. For the first time this year, I could see my breath when I went outside. And winter is here! All I wanted to do was snuggle up by the fire and get some warm food in my belly.

While most view chili as fall fare, I am partial to leaving it for the winter. I think the pumpkin adds a richness and creaminess to the overall flavor and texture profile. Bonus points if you roast real pumpkin and mash it in the chili. But for all intents and purposes, canned pumpkin works perfectly as well!

This particular chili has no beans, making it Whole30 and Paleo compliant. However, beans would make a great addition if you choose to add!

There is nothing like hearty thick chili to come home to and devour, Happy Eating!

Ingredients

  • 2 14oz cans diced tomatoes

  • 14oz can tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (122g)

  • 100g onion

  • 125g green bell pepper

  • 125g red bell pepper

  • 16oz (1 lb) grass fed 90/10 beef

  • 4oz ground turkey

  • 4.5 cups water

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (less if you want less heat)

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 2 tsp garlic

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions:

  • Brown the ground beef and ground turkey in a large pan, drain the fat. Dice the peppers and onions.

  • In a large crockpot, add in all the ingredients, and mix well

  • Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 to really allow the flavors to sync together

  • Serve with avocado, sour cream, cheese, cornbread, anything you want!

Nutrition Information for a 500g bowl (about 2 cups): 260 calories 18g carbohydrates, 10g fat, 23g protein

Chili.jpg


Meal Prep vs. Food Prep: Which do you need?

In the age of being long on commitment and short on time, how do you ensure that you meet your nutrition goals? There are a few methods to help you reach your goals, but the holy grail of time savers is Meal Prep or Food Prep. You may be thinking, “Aren’t they the same thing?” The answer, no.

Both serve as time savers, offer consistency, reduce anxiety and stress around food choices, and can save money.

So, How do you know which is right for you?

Meal Prep

Are you on the go a lot throughout the week? Do you like putting your meals on autopilot so you don’t even have to think about it anymore? Are you okay with eating the same few meals throughout the week? Are you only prepping for yourself?

Yes? Then meal prep is likely the best option for you. Meal prep allows you total control over you meals in advance. Not only do you prep the food, but you package all of your meals up individually so all you have to do is re-heat (or not) and eat!

Food Prep

Do you have a more flexible schedule? Do you enjoy variety every day? Do you have other members in your household who will also be eating the prepared food? Are you a fan of creating different meals on the fly with what is available?

Yes? Food Prep will be your best bet. Food Prep involves making individual meal components ahead of time so that when you go to eat, everything is already cooked, you just have to mix and match what you want to eat.

Where do I start?

No matter which route works for your schedule, there are a couple of guidelines that will help you be successful in the preparation department:

  1. Set a time to do your preparation each week. For most people, this falls on a Sunday or Wednesday, but do what works for you schedule and aim to keep it consistent.

  2. Decide what meals or foods you will be prepping. This part becomes easier with more experience, so if you are a new to the game, I encourage you to take it slow and keep it simple.

Decide which works best for you and start your adventure!


How to practice Mindful Eating

We’ve all been there, that moment when your plate is empty, but you still feel ravenous and can barely remember what you ate because you woofed it down so quickly. Often times, our meals are crammed between busy schedules, or on the go, or are a product of our emotions. But what if we began to slow things down, connect with our food, feel how it nourishes our bodies?

With the holidays fast approaching, a time that is sometimes considered free-for-all or eat as much food as possible, I want to arm you with a few helpful practices that bring more mindfulness to your eating habits in lieu of eating mindlessly.

  1. Slow it down

    There is a delay between the information passed from our stomach to our brain, and often times, when we eat too quickly, our brain doesn’t know that we our full, even if our stomach is overloaded, this leads to overeating. How do we combat this? We slow down our eating! Two great methods to practice when new to this are: Setting a timer on your phone for how long you want to eat, which brings awareness to your speed and putting your fork down between bites, allowing you to chew your food fully and savor every bite. Try this at your next meal and I will bet you enjoy it more!

  2. Say bye-bye to distractions

    Eating while distracted can lead to overeating very quickly because our brains aren’t registering that we are actually eating. Turn off the tv, put the phone away, avoid eating in the car and focus on the food you are eating. Imagine where it came from, how it got to your plate, and appreciate the end result by savoring the flavors and nourishment it provides.

  3. Use the 2 minute rule

    Are you an emotional eater or do you find yourself digging around in the pantry when you are bored? This one is for you. Consider how you are feeling when you go to eat a snack or a meal. Are you truly hungry? Do you really want that cupcake? The next time you find yourself pining for a super decadent sweet or getting the munchies or digging around the pantry/fridge. Stop, and set a timer for 2 minutes, go and do something else, away from the kitchen. When the 2 minutes is up, evaluate whether you really are hungry- or are you bored, happy, sad, mad? Often times, when the 2 minutes is up, the urge to snack is gone.

  4. Pay attention to your food environment

    The environment in which you consume food is equally as important as the food itself. Do you keep a ton of snacks in your house? Well, you will likely eat them if they are there. Do you snack by reaching directly into the container? You will likely eat more than you would if you put your serving on plate. Do you eat standing/on the go/in the car? You likely aren’t registering that you’re even having a meal which leads to being hungry again soon after. Evaluate your food environment and then proactively make changes where necessary- toss the junk food at home, plan to sit down at your meals, use plates/forks/knives.

    Small changes reap big benefits.

Easy Skinny Bagels

It’s no secret that I love, love, love bagels. But not just any bagels, New York bagels, Brooklyn bagels- my absolute favorite of all time. I have always loved just about any bagel I have eaten, but nothing compares to a fresh Brooklyn bagel. In fact, anytime I am in NYC, I stop in this little bagel shop called Brothers’ Bagels, and get an everything, toasted, with jalapeño cream cheese. The best part, it is always the same set of dudes manning the counter, handling the lines with ease, smooth, efficient, and pleasant. On my most recent trip to NYC, I actually even brought a dozen bagels and 1/2 pound of cream cheese home with me, because YOLO. Okay, not really on the last part, but I only venture up there occasionally, so I like to bring Brooklyn home with me to the deep south.

Thanks to SkinnyTaste, I have found a beautiful bagel spin-off that is customizable, low carb and high protein, plus with an added bonus of having no fat, they are super easy to fit into any nutrition plan. With only 5 common ingredients, you can easily whip these up in a pinch!

Check out the recipe below:

Ingredients:

  1. 120g All-purpose flour

  2. 200g Non-fat greek yogurt

  3. 2 tsp baking powder

  4. 3/4 tsp salt

  5. 1 egg or 1 egg white, whipped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking tray (or use a silicone baking shet)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt. Add in the greek yogurt and mix until it forms small dough balls.

Using clean hands, move the scratch dough to a working surface- I prefer a silicone mat, but you can use a floured board.

Knead the dough until a nice ball forms and flatten slightly to form a disc. From the disc, make 4 separate dough balls.

Roll out each ball into a long snake like dough roll, then put the ends together, creating a circle.

Place the 4 circles of dough onto the greased baking sheet (or silicone baking sheet).

Brush egg mixture on top, then add any optional toppings.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.

Eat Up!

Nutritional information for base recipe: 142 calories, 24g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 0g fat

Add-ins:

Sesame seeds, Trader Joe’s Everything but the bagel seasoning, cinnamon and raisins (add these to the flour mixture before adding greek yogurt)

Cinnamon Raisin

Cinnamon Raisin

Sesame bagel with jalapeño cream cheese

Sesame bagel with jalapeño cream cheese


Gluten Free Carrot Cake Bars

It’s officially Fall y’all! Bring on the roasted roots and pumpkin everything! This, in my opinion, is the most wonderful time of year! I have been a big fan of carrot cake for my entire life, I mean, I could easily eat an entire cake to myself, but obviously, that wouldn’t quite be beneficial to my performance goals…or would it?

Anyways, I have seen a few recipes for carrot cake oatmeal bars and carrot cake cupcakes so I figured, why not merge the two and add in a boost of protein! Bam, macro friendly carrot cake! These are slightly sweet, and when you roast the carrots, it really brings out the flavor even more. This step is especially important. Each batch yields 9 bars and the nutritional information comes out to be about 110 calories, 17c/5p/2f per bar. Can’t get much better than that!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

300g Carrots (roasted)

60g of egg whites

175 mL unsweetened almond milk

53g honey

144g Gluten Free rolled oats

36g vanilla whey protein powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp flax seeds

5g unsweetened coconut flakes



Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease an 8x8 baking dish or line with parchment paper

In the order listed, put all ingredients except the coconut flakes into a Vitamix (blender or food processor works just as well), you need the wet ingredients at the bottom so it mixes well. Blend for 90 seconds

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, sprinkle with the coconut flakes, and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting. Eat up!

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