Eating Healthy on the Fly!

Here’s a guest post from Cole on tips for eating healthy when traveling. As summer is fast approaching (and the perfect time for vacation getaway’s, this is a great topic and Cole has some excellent tips on maintaining your diet while traveling!

Tickets have been booked for months, bags are packed and ready to go and your goal weight has been reached!  Finally feeling camera ready after all the hard work and healthy eating, you’re ready to get this vacation started.  But what does the after look like?  There are several ways to integrate healthy eating into your vacation that will ensure that you’ll still turn heads in your fabulous goal outfit long after your dream vacation is over.

In order to set yourself up for success, it is important to put in a little bit of effort before leaving.  Booking a hotel that has a fitness center or has trails nearby encourages activity, which boosts your metabolism.  Additionally, hotels with kitchenettes are not only a money saver, but cooking your own meals will also help you stay on track with healthy eating.  If you cannot find a reasonably priced hotel with a kitchenette, consider bringing a small crockpot to prepare healthy chicken and vegetable based dishes.  Hotel coffee makers can also be used to heat water for oatmeal and soups, which are both healthy and inexpensive meal options. Determining which hotels have the amenities necessary for your healthy lifestyle can be difficult. I have found that reading reviews regarding restaurants and hotel prior to your arrival can be extremely helpful. I recently found a great site that had consumer reviews for the list of Las Vegas hotels I was considering ranging from their amenities offered, to the restaurants in the area, to the things to do in the city.

If your hotel offers a continental breakfast, fill up on fruit first. Fruit is high in fiber and vitamins and is a great morning choice.  Combine fruit with a high protein option such as eggs or meat and you will feel full for much longer.  Avoiding sweet breads and sugary cereals at breakfast will enable to you eat something with a higher calorie content later without feeling guilty for indulging.  Skipping sugary juices in favor of water is also helpful in maintaining a healthy caloric intake.

At a restaurant, eating healthy requires more determination but it can be done.  Many restaurants have their menus online, and it’s helpful to look it up to see what they offer.  Peruse the menu for dishes that include the words baked, boiled, broiled, fat free, fresh, grilled, high fiber, light, marinated, multi grain, reduced, red sauce, roasted, steamed, stir fried, vegetarian, vinaigrette, and whole wheat.  When ordering, don’t allow yourself to feel rushed but ask questions about possible healthier substitutions.  For side dishes, choose vegetables and if they aren’t offered, politely ask if it would be possible to include them in your meal.  If you’re not feeling confident about making healthy choices, just try to pick the most colorful meal option.  Generally speaking, colorful foods are healthier than their bland counterparts.

Applying an 80/20 rule for eating right on vacation can really assist with maintaining your weight while still letting yourself splurge while you’re out and about.  The rule is simple, 80% of your food consumption should be healthy, clean eating foods such as veggies, fruits, lean meats and complex carbohydrates.  The other 20% is yours to do with as you please.  Letting your guard down a bit while on vacation is no crime, but being strategic about when and how often to splurge is the key to coming home happy with yourself and your body.

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Fall Harvest Pumpkin Mousse

I love all kinds of pumpkin recipes in the fall…pumpkin bread, muffins, pancakes, pumpkin bars…what are your favorites? What’s so great about cooking with pumpkin is that it’s flavor is pretty neutral. I’ve used it in various baking recipes to cut down on fat and you wouldn’t even know it was in the dish. You can sweeten up it’s flavor with warming spices of clove, ginger, nutmeg, and/or allspice or turn it into a more savory dish with curry spices such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, and coriander. Well, I decided to just make a simple mousse and top it with candied pumpkin seeds for an extra burst of vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is already high in vitamin A and the seeds are full of various minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, and copper…they all help to keep the immune system strong and are important for growth and development. Overall, this recipe is full of good for you nutrients!

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (full-fat or lite)
  • 3-4 dates (depending upon your preference of sweetness)
  • 1- 15-ounce can organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon organic cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed

In a medium-sized pan, heat the coconut milk and dates over low to medium heat until dates become soft and breakdown. Remove from heat.

In a high-powered blender, add the coconut milk/date mixture and remainder ingredients. Blend on high until ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Divide into 4 ramekins or wine glasses. Prepare candied pumpkin seed, recipe below.

When pumpkin seeds are ready and cool enough to handle, break apart and garnish the mousse with them. If desired, top mousse with a dollop of coconut whip and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg! Enjoy!

To make candied pumpkin seeds:

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Over low to medium heat, add the pumpkin seeds to a skillet and toast until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, toss until combined. Spread pumpkin seeds out onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake the pumpkin seeds in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until seeds are toasted and sugar is caramelized. Allow seeds to cool; store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes: 1 cup

Copyright 2010, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.

Roasted Fall Veggies

Roasted veggies are probably one of my all-time favorite ways to enjoy various fall vegetables that are in peak season. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets, sweet potatoes…hmmm what else! The caramelized flavor, the golden brown color, and the little crispy bits that get stuck to the pan, if someone doesn’t like a certain veggie – have them try it roasted and see if they like it! The veggies can be roasted in so many different ways, Italian seasonings, curry seasonings, sometimes I just prefer sea salt and pepper, or the veggies can even be mixed with Dijon mustard and then roasted. What are your favorite spices and/or herbs to use when roasting veggies?

Roasted Fall Veggies

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into pieces
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
  • 2 beets, washed and chopped into cubes
  • 1 sweet potato, washed and chopped into cubes
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Your favorite spices/herbs (I like thyme and cumin seeds ~ 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon coconut oil and a tablespoon of water with the broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Toss until veggies are coated with the oil. Arrange veggies on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper and half of your spice and/or herb mixture.

Using the same bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of water with the beets and sweet potatoes. Toss until veggies are coated with oil mixture. Arrange on another baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and your remaining spice and/or herb mixture.

Note: The veggies can be roasted at a higher temperature, but I prefer to keep the temp. at 350 degrees b/c any higher than that and the coconut oil will surpass it’s smoke point.

The sweet potatoes and beet tray may be placed in the oven first for a 20-minute head-start before placing the other tray in the oven. Once both trays are in oven, bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until veggies are fork-tender and golden brown.

Sprouted Quinoa Flatbread

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

In a medium-sized bowl, add the quinoa and about 2 to 3 cups water. Allow the quinoa to soak about 12 hours or until sprouted. Once the quinoa has sprouted, drain and rinse the quinoa several times.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the drained quinoa and the remaining ingredients except for the coconut oil to a blender and blend on high speed until all ingredients are mixed well.

In a non-stick skillet or pie dish (about 9″), add the 1 teaspoon coconut oil. Put the dish in the oven for several minutes to get warm/hot being careful not to let the oil smoke. Remove the pan from oven and add blended ingredients. Top with a sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs as desired. Put pan back in oven and allow it to bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

The bread tasted great topped with the fermented cashew cheese from the previous post. The leftovers were also good the following day…I toasted it the toaster oven for a few minutes to warm it up. Enjoy!

This is a picture of the bread before it went into the oven (I used red quinoa & sprinkled dried oregano on it before I put it into the oven).

Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Salsa

Here’s a simple recipe that can be put together super fast for one of those days when you  have no idea what to have for dinner! This salsa is light and fresh with a spicy note from the cayenne pepper! For a dinner idea, enjoy it with whole wheat or gluten-free pasta with a drizzle of olive oil or mixed with cooked beans and topped with sauteed greens for a hearty dinner meal..or it’s perfect as a dip with crunchy crackers or tortilla’s.

  • 1 small jar canned artichokes, rinsed & drained (6.5 oz)
  • 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, rinsed & drained  (~12 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired texture is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If I hand cilantro on hand, it would be a great addition. If you prefer a milder salsa, decrease the amount of cayenne pepper or omit it all together.

Creamy Tomato Soup

I don’t know about you, but my family’s garden is overflowing with tomatoes – little baby tomatoes to good medium-sized, bright red ones. Even though they are great enjoyed fresh with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the vitamin A content found in tomatoes is better utilized in the body when heated and in the presence of a little bit of fat. One cup of raw tomatoes has about 30% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A.  

I had some onion, garlic, and coconut on hand and decided to put together an easy, creamy tomato soup. If you have fresh herbs in your garden such as basil, oregano, or thyme—they would be a great addition. To help bring out the vitamin A in this soup, a small amount of coconut milk was used, which provides great texture and flavor. Enjoy!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Fresh pepper to taste

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions with a half teaspoon of salt. If the onions begin to stick to the pan, add about a quarter cup of water. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the oregano, garlic and tomatoes. Cook over low to medium heat until the tomatoes breakdown and release their juices.

Once the tomatoes are soft, transfer the soup contents to a high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy (be careful with the hot contents of the soup and allow some of the heat to escape when blending). Add in the coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Re-blend and taste the soup, adjust seasonings accordingly (add more salt or vinegar to taste). Garnish the soup with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of fresh pepper!

What is your favorite way to use up all the tomatoes from your garden?

Fermented Cashew Cheese

This dip/cheese is a perfect afternoon snack when you are looking for something flavorful and tasty! Cashews also supply a good amount of iron – a 1-ounce serving of raw cashews supplies 10% of the Daily Value for iron and the fermentation increases the bio-availability of several minerals (calcium, iron, zinc). This can also be made with almonds instead of cashews, which are just as high in minerals, as well as Vitamin E.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 probiotic capsule (I used 50 billion)

In a vitamix, blender, or food processor, combine the soaked and drained cashews and probiotic capsule and mix together. Pour into a bowl, cover with a towel, and let it ferment overnight.
When the mixture is fermented, add seasonings and spices to your liking! I added the juice of one lemon, onion powder, garlic powder, a pinch of cumin and smoked paprika, and sea salt to taste. Enjoy! It goes delicious on gluten free crackers.