Autumn Glow Smoothie [pumpkin, sweet potato + cauliflower]

pumpkin-oatmeal-smoothie-h1_largeI know it’s winter, but we have this smoothie year round because it is oh- so-yummy + full of all kinds of fiber, antioxidant goodness! Like we mentioned in the Matcha smoothie recipe, feel free to turn it into a smoothie bowl + top with granola/oats/seeds/pecans/honey/ +/or chia seeds!

recipe

  • 1 cup frozen sweet potatoes* OR 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (omit depending on appetite- when we’re hungry enough, we’ll add the almond or peanut butter)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (optional- again, depends on hunger)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Ice to taste

*For the sweet potatoes, I keep diced + peeled sweet potatoes in our freezer for easy smoothie use!

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Photo: LL Balanced 

P.S. One of my favorite things to add to smoothies (usually when I’m turning them into a meal) is rolled oats! SOO yummy and thickens it right up! If you decide to add oats, start with 1/4 C.

-The Neilan Family-

Matcha Smoothie

smoothie
Photo: Jessica Gavin

What a lovely day to post about Smoothies- it’s freeezzzzing over here on the east coast. We are in northern Florida and not used this 30 degree weather! But none-the-less smoothies are always yummy and a great way to get a lot of the good stuff in. I probably have on average- 4 to 5 smoothies (of some kind) a week. This one is a total favorite of ours! It has Matcha, so what’s not to love!

recipe – for one serving

  • 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
  • 3/4 cup of coconut water or almond milk (increase based on preference)
  • Ice to preference
  • 1/4 Tsp Golden Milk (this is turmeric + date powder) – optional
  • 1/4 Tsp Spirulina – Optional
  • Scoop of protein powder- Optional (when we are hungry enough we will add a scoop of Patrick’s protein concoction aka an even mix of whey + plant based protein powder)

Have your pick of sprinkled organic honey, chia seeds, cinnamon and/or coconut on top! Smoothies are great because this is just a base but if you’re feeling extra hungry just add some Greek Yogurt or add blueberries to mix it up! I actually love the taste of blueberries and Matcha together. If you do add fruit- do about 1/3 of a cup! Feelin like you need more fiber in your diet? Add a Tbsp of ground flax! 

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Photo: Epicurious

One of my other favorite things is turning smoothies into a “bowl” aka more space to sprinkle goodies on top! Typically if I’m wanting to turn my smoothie into a bowl, I like them with a little more ice added so it thickens it up- but those details are all about preference! 

-The Neilan Family-

Chickpea (Meatless) Meatballs

Hi everyone and happy Thursday! It has been a little crazy over here in the Neilan household, as I’m sure it’s been in your home too! Patrick is on a 7am-7pm/Mon-Fri schedule now. Which may sound terrible, but it’s actually pretty nice because he gets weekends off. Wahoooo Merry Christmas to us! Anyway, the holidays are upon us- and we love/welcome the chaos. We’ve got family coming into town soon and lots of cooking happening and gift wrapping to do BUT before we close out till after Christmas I wanted to share this Chickpea Ball recipe with you guys. I make spinach turkey meatballs often – this is the first meal I made for Patrick when we were dating (with pasta and pesto sauce) so it hits close to home! I will share the spinach turkey baked meatball/cashew pesto recipe with you all soon as well!  But back to the chickpeas- we don’t like to have meat every night of the week- so we swap chickpea balls over a salad bowl every other night. This way we include lots of plant-based meals too!

From the Dietitian: Chickpeas are great for digestion and satiety. They pack about 15g protein per cup- which makes it an awesome option when you’re trying to add some meatless nights into your weekly routine. Chickpeas are high in folate, magnesium, iron and phosphorus- wahoooo!!

From the Doctor: Studies have shown that 1.5 C of legumes a day helped reduce inflammatory markers and improved insulin resistance. Two awesome correlates in the fight against disease. Chickpeas are packed with soluble fiber as we discussed in the lentil soup recipe (https://doctormeetsdietitian.com/2017/12/13/coziest-lentil-soup-recipe/) – making it great for diabetics, in moderation, as it slows the absorption of sugar. This happens because soluble fiber increases the viscosity (aka thickness) of the intestinal contents after each meal consumed. Even if you are not diabetic- we all want out blood sugar managed well and our insulin levels normalized- trust me. Once your insulin and blood sugar are at of whack it creates an abundance of issues in the body- to put it very lightly. Just a glimpse- diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, top cause for blindness, the reason for 60% of lower body amputations, 70% of people with diabetes have nervous system damage, diabetes causes- digestive problems, erectile dysfunction and increases risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Moderation, healthy diet and a lifestyle of balance is the key way to avoid chronic disease. Now, on to the chickpea recipe!

ingredients 

  • 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs to keep chickpea balls vegan (2.5 tbsp ground flax)
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs
  • 2 C Chickpeas
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves (or 1/2 Tbsp of garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram (optional)
  • small handful of basil leaves (optional)

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Skip this step if using canned chickpeas. If using dried chickpeas, soak for 4 hours. Boil until they’re splitting, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and pinch the skin off [I didn’t take the skin off all the chickpeas and it turned out great- takes wayyy too long! But if you have the time, go for it!]
  4. Blend chickpeas in a blender until broken down [I added a few drops of water]
  5. Make your flax seed “eggs”  [2 Tbsp Flax with 6 Tbsp of Water- mix and let sit for 10-15min]
  6. Mix chickpeas and flax seed eggs [or regular eggs]
  7. Mix in the remaining ingredients
  8. If the mixture is too sticky, add more breadcrumbs a little at a time. If too dry, add a little water or oil [coconut/olive whatever you prefer]
  9. Form the chickpea mixture into meatballs and place onto a greased or parchment-lined baking dish.
  10. Bake the chickpea meatballs for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through, They should be golden and crispy.

Recipe Credit: Karissa’s vegan kitchen (modifications made)

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Try “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joe’s- it is so so yummy. Sprinkled on avocado above!

Enjoy with pasta and pesto or over a bed of lettuce with all the veggies of your choice!

-The Neilan Family-

Coziest Lentil Soup Recipe

lentil-soup-bowl

This recipe is straight from my mom- aka the greatest Italian chef of all time- without any modifications. Because well, sometimes…you cannot modify perfection. It has always been one of my favorite recipes of hers and it’s so simple. Now that I’m older and cooking for myself, I can totally see why she was so excited when I’d ask for Lentil Soup for dinner- it’s so easy!! Busy after work? Throw everything into a pot to boil and leave it. As Patrick would say, Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

From the Dietitian: Let’s just be frank- this soup is awesome for regularity. It’s got insoluble fiber – which helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders (IBS and Diverticulosis). Lets talk about the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber- because a lot of people don’t know or forget! If you’re eating a meal- may want to revisit this page at a later time because we are going to get straight into poop talk. Yep – that’s right. Easiest way to say it. So soluble fiber (found in beans, peas, oats, barley, fruits and avocados) is sticky and soft- it acts almost like a gel, in a sense, so that things can slide around the GI tract more easily. The beautiful thing about soluble fiber is that it binds to substances like cholesterol and sugar- preventing or slowing down absorption in the blood- which is super cool and amazing if you ask me. Soluble fiber increases good bacteria in the gut; furthermore, improving immunity, anti-inflammatory effects and even improved mood per studies that have been done. Soluble fiber also is great for weight management -as we all know- because it helps you feel fuller longer…win win! Now for insoluble fiber– think roughage. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, fruits and veggies (mostly in the skin, stalks, and seeds). Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water; therefore, it cannot be broken down in the gut and cannot enter the bloodstream. Because of this, it adds bulk to the digestive system- preventing constipation. Which we all want/love.

From the Doctor: I work in internal medicine. In the future, the plan is to work in Pulmonary Critical Care, but for now it’s internal medicine; therefore, dealing with GI issues/disorders/diseases- is absolutely in my wheel house in the internal med world. You would be surprised how many issues stem from poor GI motility/function.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that over a nine-year period, consuming more dietary fiber lowered the risk of death from any cause. People who ate the most fiber (about 25 grams a day for women and 30 grams for men) were 22% less likely to die compared to those who consumed the least fiber (10 grams per day for women and 13 grams for men). The effect was even stronger when researchers looked at deaths from heart disease, infectious diseases, and respiratory diseases; people with high-fiber diets had as much as a 50% or greater reduction in risk.

Besides digestive health, fiber helps stabilize sugar. Like the wonderful dietitian mentioned a bit earlier, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Meaning, increasing fiber intake is wonderful for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

Fiber and cholesterol. Just to mention once more, lentils help reduce blood cholesterol because lentils are high in soluble fiber.Canadian researchers examined 26 studies conducted between both the US and Canada that included a total of more than 1,000 people. Their findings showed that including a daily serving of legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas- was linked to a reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL aka bad cholesterol) by 5%.

One of the last things I want to touch on, is fiber and heart health. Several studies have linked consuming high fiber foods (like lentils) with decreasing you risk of heart disease. Lentils are a great source of magnesium and folate- both awesome for heart health too. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease, and magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients in the body. There has been a major link between low magnesium levels + heart disease folks…so eat your lentils!

ingredients 

  • 4 Carrots – chopped
  • 4 Stalks of Celery – chopped
  • 4 Cloves are Fresh Garlic – chopped
  • 2 Cups of Lentils
  • 1 Yellow Onion- chopped
  • 2 qt Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Thyme (optional)
  • Pinch of Cumin (optional)
  • Red Pepper (optional)
  • Locatelli Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Of Note: Occasionally, I have modified Mama Romano’s Recipe and added 2 Cups of Spinach or Kale to the recipe.

recipe

  1. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, lentils, cumin and olive oil to large pot -or dutch oven-, turn on medium heat. Saute so that the olive oil is coating all of the ingredients
  2. Empty Broth into pot (as mentioned above, add spinach/kale here if you would like to add greens)
  3. Add pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Simmer for about 45 min. Every so often, stir soup and add water so that soup remains at the same level as when you started. Lentils should be tender. (I have had to keep soup on for up to an hour to wait for lentils to soften- by the end I had probably added 1 1/2 Cup water)!

We add red pepper and Parmesan cheese on top (Locatelli Romano Cheese- the absolute best and the only kind my family and I use).

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Now go cozy up with a Hallmark Christmas Movie, Soup and Relax!

-The Neilan Family-

The Incredible, Edible Flax Egg + Green Muffin Recipe

Happy Hump Day Everyone! So update on us: Patrick is now on a super wonderful rotation this month (emergency department-shocking that’s a good rotation for him, I know) and has the greatest hours (8-5pm). So we have been able to enjoy breakfast and dinner together – aka the stars have aligned. And this past week, we have been stuck on these delish green banana muffins!!! I’m all kinds of excited to share the recipe with you but first- I want to chat with you all about one of the very special ingredients used in this recipe.

The flax egg. It has made including plant-based meals in our diet- SO easy. We all know how to swap out dairy for almond or cashew milk and applesauce for butter. But how do we replace an egg?  Patrick and I try to have about 10-15 plant-based meals/snacks per week. Whether that is as simple as swapping out regular yogurt for almond yogurt some mornings or making tofu with dinner. But now we have a way to easily include plant-based baked goods in our diet! (INSERT FLAX OR CHIA EGG). Such a tasty, delicious and simple substitute. Take your favorite cookie, pancake, quick bread, brownie, muffin recipe and swap out an egg for a flax or chia egg and BOOM you have a vegan baked good (assuming you’ve swapped the dairy portion too)! See below recipe, for instructions on how to whip up the flax egg. It’s super easy! Of note, do not try to scramble a flax egg – bahaha – baking substitute only!

Back to the recipe. I LOVE muffins!! But even more than your standard muffin, I love muffins with hidden veggies in them. These have added nutritional benefits without the added weird taste you might sometimes find when you add veggies to baking! NO oil, NO dairy, completely VEGAN and absolutely delicious- if I do say so myself. This beloved recipe is from Kristin Cavallari’s cookbook and boy are they yummy! I was actually very surprised when Patrick scarfed the first muffin down and asked for a second right after. I love earthy, green things but sometimes Patrick is hesitant; however, with these guys he dove right in and loooooved them!

ingredients

  • 2 Cups Spelt Flour (you can also swap it out for 2 cups all purpose flour or ease your way into spelt flour with half and half)
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 Bag of baby spinach (about 4 cups)
  • 3/4 Cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 Cup plain almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 Flax or Chia Egg*
  • 1/4 Cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups mashed banana (we used 3 bananas)

Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a food processor or blender, combine spinach, maple syrup, almond milk, flax egg, applesauce, and vanilla and process until completely pureed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients and the banana to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about three quarters full.
  6. (Optional) We sprinkled hemp and chia seeds on top of muffins
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Flax egg: 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons water. Mix and let set for 15 minutes until it becomes gooey consistency.

Why use spelt? Spelt is a grain that is descended from wheat, and it has a mild, nutty flavor that is comparable to wheat. Although spelt contains gluten, it has less than whole wheat or white flour. As a result, substituting spelt flour for white flour can make baked goods more digestible for people with a sensitivity to gluten! Spelt also provides 25g protein per cup! Wahooooo!

 

Hope you all enjoy these yummy muffins as much as we are! Have a happy rest of your week!

 

The Neilan Family