Almond Quinoa Fruit Salad

IMG_7414

This is a light, refreshing, flavorful meal and it is fantastic for the spring and summer months. I made this recipe for the first time for Easter dinner. I was put in charge of a side, that was the only information I got. My family and I can be very organized when it comes to getting together, but the organization doesn’t usually kick in until the last minute. I have two sisters, one brother, and we were all designated to bring a part of the meal. My brother had dessert, my sister had the main course because she was hosting, my parents had a side and another part of the main course (ham), leaving my other sister, Ruby and I. We were the two who should have coordinated the most because we both had sides and both try to choose health options. Many people may not find this as fun as I do, but I love cooking for my family because I have two vegans in the family, a lactose intolerant, one has high- blood pressure, and it’s safe to say everyone loves a meal that’s low fat. Through alternative baking and trial and error, I find the best tasting recipes that everyone in my family can enjoy regardless of any food restrictions. I enjoy this so much because it’s just like I am helping my clients, expect 4 or 5 at the same time and they are all a bit more close minded regarding food choices, so I really have to sell it sometimes!

Back to the topic, by limiting my responsibility to only one dish I was stress free. Typically, I am use to making 3 or more dishes, so I knew this Easter meal would be a breeze. Instead of brain storming for ideas, communicating with my siblings about who’s bringing what, or grocery shopping, I definitely waited till the last minute to figure out everything. Still, I wasn’t worried about it and I was right because this recipe can easily be whipped up in no time and still turn out gourmet.

Almond Quinoa Fruit Salad 

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Serves:8-12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1 lb kiwi
  • 1 lb blackberries
  • 2 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp organic raw honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • pinch of pink himalayan salt

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa with a 1:2 uncooked quinoa to liquid ratio. Bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it has reached a boil, reduce heat to low. Add thyme into saucepan to add flavor at this time. Cover and simmer until all water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender. Typically takes 15-20 minutes for 1 cup quinoa to cook, since we are only cooking 1/2 the size boiling time will be lowered. Adjust time accordingly depending on the amount cooked (1/2 cup= 10 minutes). Turn heat off and fluff with a fork, let cool.

IMG_7403

 2.While quinoa is cooking, chop all the organic strawberries, blackberries, kiwis, and spinach. For the almonds, I bought whole, raw because they are priced cheaper for whole, opposed to blanched or crushed. I wanted crushed almonds for this recipe, so I placed whole nuts in a plastic bag and took a hammer to the bag outside on my concrete sidewalk. This method crushes the almonds better than anything else and you avoid denting and breaking a counter top inside your home. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl to serve.

IMG_7404

3. For the dressing, mix the balsamic, honey, lemon juice, and himalayan salt until well blended. Pour dressing over the fruit salad and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe is vegan friendly, naturally gluten free, dairy-free, and organic.

I think we all need to find ways to create healthy nourishing meals that still get us excited to eat, especially around holidays. It’s easy to use special occasions, family get togethers, and holidays as “cheat days”, however, I don’t believe in that. I think to say you are having a cheat day implies you are doing something wrong and eating 1 cupcake or a serving of potato salad won’t kill you, just like eating one salad won’t make you skinny. It’s how and what we eat consistently that forms habits as healthy or unhealthy.  The trick is to learn how to create deliciousness out of nutrient dense foods that can help keep you on a healthy road and coming back for more. This Almond Quinoa Fruit Salad with the honey balsamic dressing hit the spot perfectly. A definite winner recipe that leaves every body feeling full, satisfied, and asking for leftovers to take to work the next day.   IMG_7407

Live my Nutrition Vision and enjoy this dish this summer!

Calories: 103; Total Fat: 3.1 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g); Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 7 mg; Potassium: 168.7 mg; Total Carbs: 18.6 g; Dietary Fiber: 2.8 g; Protein: 2.5 g; Calcium: 16.1%

 

 

Advertisements

Kale Cashew Pesto

IMG_8624

 As one of the biggest advocates for eating dark leafy greens, I have to fit them into meals I prepare as often as possible in an extremely calculated way. The reason for this is because my boyfriend is the epitome of a “unhealthy eater”. If you say ” vegetables”, he will most likely not like it. Not only that, but to paint a better picture for all of you he can and will eat Mcdonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell all in one day. That shows some form of dedication to food I guess. I have been bound and determined to improve his eating habits slowly but surely for years now and I has succeeded to an extent. It’s difficult to constantly eat every meal together, but have completely opposite food preferences because it creates twice the work, twice the money, and twice the time to prepare two totally different breakfast, lunch, or dinners everyday. I know nobody has time for that and I certainly do not either. Since I made it my goal to increase his produce consumption, I have been incorporating one item into a recipe each day I think he would enjoy. For women or men who feel they are in similar situations, this is a great idea to slowly create healthier eating habits for the ones you love. Personally, I enjoy thinking out of the box to make meals delicious and exciting for the ones I love, this just gave me one more reason to do so. I choose to make a pesto today because my boyfriend has been buying food while on his lunch break to make his own sandwiches, wraps, pitas, ect. Instead of continuing to buy his pre-made spreads, I thought it would be nice to create a special personalized one for him I knew he would find tasty and really leave him feeling satisfied.

For the record, I want to provide a disclaimer for this recipe because once you make it once, you will be addicted. I am a hummus obsessed feen and although this does not replace hummus because that is mostly carbs and some added protein, this pesto has taken over my number one spot. I now spread this on everything pushing hummus to second place. You will want to eat the whole batch and make it over and over again. Since this pesto just so happens to be healthy for you as well, trust me when I say, nothing will stop you from eating like it’s your last meal. Making large batches and freezing it is a solution I can up with to avoid demolishing the whole thing at once. To my surprise, the pesto freezes great! I froze it in an ice cube tray making is super easy to pop one or two cubes out at a time to make a quick and healthy meal even tastier.

Now to begin, for this recipe, my green of choice was kale. It’s no surprise to me why America has made kale one of the most popular and trending vegetables out there. It is virtually a powerhouse for good health packed with delicious flavor, many health benefits, and it’s nutrient dense. In fact, 1 cup of chopped kale will supply your body with 34 calories, 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and 684% of vitamin K (I’m not kidding about the vitamin K). In fact, too much vitamin K can create serious issues for anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin or coumadin. By eating high levels of vitamin K a food-drug interaction may occur. Anyone thinking of adding kale to there diet on these medications should consult a doctor first. 

It is also considered to be a good source of certain minerals such as iron, copper, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Notice kale has a high concentration of vitamins A,C, and K. These vitamins are all antioxidants that are associated with eye-health and cancer protection. Kale’s fiber content also helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Tip: While eating kale raw can be delicious and simple, cooking it is a great way to increase the level of absorbed and digested fiber.

I am not entirely diary-free, however, I try my best to limit dairy to minimal consumption due to health issues. It is just so difficult because cheese and yogurt were basically my best friends all my life. I have been making cashew cheese to give me my fix, so naturally I thought why not use cashews to get the creamy texture and added flavor I would have gotten from cheese. By using cashews, we also get a lower fat content than most other nuts, added protein, and heart healthy fats(monounsaturated).

KALE CASHEW PESTO  Preparation: 3-6 hr for soaking, 10 minutes for all other prep Serve: 18-20

Ingredients: IMG_8623

  • 1 1/4 cup cashews
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 cups kale
  • ½ cup olive oil (your choice of oil)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup parsley (half chopped, half for garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lime zest (1 lemon)

Directions

1. Pre-soak, drain, and rinse cashews in a bowl of cold water 3-6 hrs ahead of time. I always soak my cashews the night before. This ensure their creamy texture and makes it easy to blend, plus it puts less work on the blades of your food processor.

2. If you have time an extra 10 minutes of time on your hands you can precook the kale before placing it in the food processor for better fiber absorption, but that is up to your discretion. It does create a smoother texture, but the texture of the recipe with raw kale yields a smooth product as well. I have made it both ways and I almost prefer the raw kale version because I do not like it overly creamy.

3. Place all of the ingredients into the food processor. After all ingredients have blended, turn off and open the lid once or twice to scrap sides down to ensure all the ingredients are evenly blended. If it’s too thick, add water in 1 Tbsp increments until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately with Italian or French bread. Freeze leftover for later use.

Play around with the amounts of spices and herbs to find out what you like. I can never have too much garlic so the 4 cloves this recipe calls for might even be too much, unless your a garlic lover like me. I used  about a 1/2 cup serving of pesto to make a weeks worth of wraps for my boyfriend and even used some for dinner that night to stuff white mushrooms and bake with. After eating and using some for food prep, I was still left with 2 whole ice cube trays to freeze. It’s so versatile, it’s uses are endless. Use as a spread, sauce for pasta or pizza, in place of dressing on salads, replacing cheese on burgers, or as a marinade.  Needless to say, the pesto was a success and my boyfriend loved it. He said and I quote, “I can’t even taste that rabbit food.” (meaning the kale). I will definitely be making this again in the near future.

Hope you all enjoy this pesto recipe as much as I did! Happy weekend!

Kale Cashew Pesto: 1 serving (1/2 cup)

Calories: 90; Total Fat: 7.9 g (Saturated Fat: 1.1, Monounsaturated Fat: 5.4 g); Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 32.5 mg; Potassium: 124.7 mg; Total Carbs: 4.1 g; Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g; Protein: 1.7 g; Calcium: 3.2%

 

7 Layered Chia Heaven

IMG_6592

I was not exactly sure what to call this beverage because it does not exactly fall in the drink category as it has more than enough nutrients to be called a full meal replacement on its own. I landed on calling this creation exactly what it tasted like, heaven. This chia layered recipe is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid and fiber at 10g per ounce equal to 2 tablespoons. That is already 40 percent of your dietary fiber allotment for adult women daily and 26 percent for men. Talk about a simple way to fit fiber filled foods into your diet.

I want to discuss chia seed in more detail for a second because many of my family and friends are unfamiliar with chia. As a dietitian some things regarding food choices, nutritional content of foods, and health benefits for the body gained from specific foods come to me like second nature. I need to remember to slow down, explain, and virtually teach what I am making and why. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have had people ask me “what is chia seed?”, “like the plant, chia pet?”. It use to surprise me, but now I realize there is so much to be learned when it comes to eating healthy and I am happy I can help with that. Chia seed is an edible seed that is derived from a desert plant. I learned that the word “Chia” actually means strength which makes sense because the ancient aztec culture use to eat these little seeds as an energy booster. They have a mild, nutty flavor which makes them extremely versatile. You can add them to liquid forming a gel or sprinkle on top of any type of food you prefer (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). For this particular recipe, I obviously choice to form the gel/pudding like substance for my smoothie/beverage. I haven’t even mentioned the best part, these seeds are naturally gluten/ grain free. This 7 layered chia heaven is a great option for people who not only have a gluten intolerance, but it is also dairy free and made from all organic produce. 

In addition to chia seed’s omega-3 and fiber goodness, it also contains protein and minerals including zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Consuming chia seed regularly as part of your healthy diet may help to improve cardiovascular risk factors. Chia may help lower cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure. 

IMG_6612

7 Layered Chia Heaven

Preparation: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 (12oz cups)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp chia seed
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup homemade whipped coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup black berries

1. For the first layer, combined the chia seed, almond milk, cinnamon, and 1/2 banana (save other half). Blend for about 10 seconds or until ingredients are well mixed. Place content in a tupperware container and refrigerate for 30min-1hr. Personally, I did this step the night before because I always make a large amount of this cinnamon chia pudding to use with multiple meals over the next couple days. The longer the chia has to refrigerate, the thicker it will get, which is my preference. I used my bullet, but any blender would would and the process truly does take a couple minutes.

2. Blend strawberries and pomegranate seeds.

3. Blend spinach, avocado, and the other 1/2 of the banana.

4. Blend blueberries and blackberries.

5. Add all the layers together (the chia, strawberry/pom, avocado layer, the ready made whipped coconut, gluten free oats, berry mix, and more of the chia layer to started with). Top with fresh berries and pomegranate seeds (optional).

IMG_6596

This entire recipe only requires you to throw the ingredients in the blender, turn it on, and stack the layers. The easiest way to do this with minimal dirty dishes is to use two cups. I used the cups that double as the blending cup. Blend one layer, dump it into the cup you will be drinking from, then rinse and start again. Sometimes making pretty recipes can leave you with a messy kitchen, I am definitely always proud when I get quicker and cleaner in the kitchen with any recipe.

Keep Visualizing Nutrition with me!

❤ Rebecca Raymundo, RD, LDN

 

 

Organic Fruit Salad

IMG_5940

 

A reoccurring theme I have here is easy and quick. Who doesn’t love that? Here is a healthy work snack or meal that will make everyone envy your lunch. I was able to prepare this the night before because I never have enough time in the mornings. I know some of the major concerns when it comes to eating a proper diet is time and expense. Well, this organic fruit salad virtually took no time at all (less than 5 minutes) and I made for under $1.75. When I went to the farmers market to buy produce, I spent a total of $7 for this recipe and it made roughly 4-5 portions. This picture above is 1 serving size.

When you want to eat organic, fresh, or all of the above, but do not want to break the bank just think out of the box. I am always hearing, “I’d like to eat organic, but it’s too expensive”. Well, yes that’s true, it is more expense than non-organic and if you limit yourself to the organic section in the grocery store, you will most likely end up spending more money than you needed to. That is the expense that leaves a person with a knot in their throat and an ache in their belly, at least thats how I feel when I walk away from the grocery store after spending $200 on what seems like barely anything. To avoid that appealing feeling I just mentioned, branch out.

Now a days, there is a variety of places one can go to buy organic produce. Visit co-ops, farmers’ markets, health food stores, and community agriculture programs. Buying a share in a community agriculture program near you will also save money. By paying for a portion of the farms expense you will get a weekly box of the freshest produce delivered straight to your home eliminating time and money usually spent of grocery shopping organic in major food chains. Plus, you can support local farmers! Also, by doing a simple Google search in your area, you can find lots of organic organizations you may not have known of previously.

Secondly, buy in season. The best best best time, I stress best time, to buy organic produce is during the peak of the growing season. As the season progresses, more and more produce is produced making a larger amount of product compared to demand. This is the time when prices tend to be lowered. Sometimes it’s minor changes, sometimes it’s dramatic changes. Another option is to bargain with farmer’s markets. They may need to get rid of produce quicker than expected and will be willing to wiggle the price down for you. If worse comes to worse, all they can say if no. I always say, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Third, embrace your freezer! Eating frozen foods do not always have to have a negative connotation attached to it. Buy in bulk when organic produce is cheap, then prep and freeze for leftovers later in the seasons. By doing this, you can eat organic year round at a much more economical price. Keep all these tips in mind when shopping or planning your weekly meals especially this year because of the expected rise in food prices this season. The bottom line is eating healthy truly can be simple, quick, easy, and most importantly absolutely delicious.

Organic Fruit Salad 

Preparation: 5 minutes

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 2 cups green grapes
  • 1 cup black berries
  • 2 cups pineapple, chopped
  • 1/2 pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbsp almond granola (Bear Naked, optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • organic honey

Chop the pear and pineapple. Deseed the pomegranate. Mix remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir the honey and lemon juice in a separate bowl until well blended, then pour mixture over mixed fruit.

I just realized, I lied. Chopping the pineapple and deseeding the pomegranate will take longer than the projected 5 minutes. I suggest doing that step a head of time. There will be plenty of freshly cut pineapple and pomegranate seeds not used that could be eaten immediately or used in another dish.

 

Stuffed Cucumber Rolls

IMG_5855

 

Heres another delicious healthy snack that can easily be prepared by anyone! Even if you think you have no talent in the kitchen and think you’d be better at driving into the Taco Bell drive through, trust me, you cannot mess this up! Your taste buds and stomach will thank me for it later.

Stuffed Cucumber Rolls 

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, whole
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • hummus of your choice

First, slice the entire cucumber into 1-inch thick slices. Use a melon baller to scoop out the inners from the cucumber slices. Chop the cucumber scooped out into fine pieces and mix in with hummus. Dollop 1 Tbsp of hummus mixture into each cucumber. Top with chopped scallions and serve.

For this recipe I made my own hummus, but if you on a time constraint or want to use to easier route buying pre-made hummus works perfectly.

IMG_5856My hummus recipe

  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 cup chick peas, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • Salt, pepper, smoked paprika to taste

Place the garlic clove in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients until desired consistency is reached. I slowly added 1/4 cup water to thin out the hummus. If more water is needed, add 1 Tbsp at a time to avoid a watery product.

 

Frozen Almond Stuffed Dates

 

IMG_8654

I consistently ate this snack three days in a row while studying for the RD exam, one, because I originally made a lot and had them in my freezer, and two, because they are amazing on a hot day. This perfect power snack gives a great boost of energy with a sweet satisfying finish. Stuffed dates are a multifaceted treat and can be made not only as a healthy snack, but as a dessert enjoyed by all.  

Frozen Almond Stuffed Dates

Preparation: 5 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted, almonds
  • 1 cup medjool dates
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut, optional

Simply stuff each date with the almonds and freeze.I think this is a great and easy snake to prepare and freeze into individual portion sizes using sandwich baggies. You can later pull out one bag at a time as needed for a healthy option on a hot summer day. For the dipping sauce, blend banana, coconut milk, and spices. Top with desiccated coconut.

Join me on my vision of nutrition everyday!

❤ Rebecca Raymundo, RD, LDN