Patrick’s Eggplant Parm

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Photo: Blair, The Seasoned Mom

There are three foods I always request on my birthday: stuffed artichoke, eggplant Parmesan + rice krispy treats. This year my husband surprised me and made eggplant parm when I came home from work on my birthday (which recently passed beginning of January- shout out to fellow Capricorns!). I’m just as surprised as you are that Patrick doubles as a chef! Doctor by day, chef by night- who knew! BUT I will say- I was definitely leery when he said he was going to attempt eggplant parm- I don’t even order it in restaurants- simply because, I grew up in a Sicilian home + my mom’s is just the best. I’ve tried eggplant parm from “great” Italian restaurants and they have always been sub-par. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I LOVED the eggplant parm recipe Patrick found. I love Patrick but I’d never tell him something tasted amazing if it didn’t- I’m Italian aka I can’t lie about food. It is VERY different from the Romano (maiden name) eggplant parm I grew up on- but I truly love both. I will also share the Romano eggplant parm recipe with you guys soon- that one is more like an eggplant lasagna- cut an entirely different style than Patrick’s. 

From the Doctor + Dietitian: Eggplants are high in fiber; therefore, great for GI and cardiovascular health. This is because foods high in fiber have been shown to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and in turn, decreasing heart attacks and strokes. Eggplants are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, copper, fiber, folic acid, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and phosphorous. Because eggplants are high in calcium and iron, they are considered great for bone health and preventing anemia.

Fun Fact: Did you know eggplants are technically considered a fruit?! They are related to tomatoes and some even consider eggplant a type of berry! Because of the low sugar/nutrient content, in our minds- it’s still a veggie!

Before we get to the recipe, Patrick followed the recipe [below] exactly; however, we will add some vegan friendly modifications. Feel free to modify amount of cheese/type of cheese. Lastly, you can use your favorite tomato sauce or sauce from a jar- Patrick used my family’s Red Sauce Recipe- which I highly recommend- it’s straight from my Italian ancestors and super simple! It will make this dish a million times better too. Of note, if you’re going to make your own red sauce- we recommend doing this before you get started on the eggplant recipe so it’s ready to go!

ingredients 

Eggplant:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten [ok to modify to cashew milk]
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten [sub with flax egg – 1 tbsp ground flax and 3 tbsp water mixed]
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar premium pasta sauce [we did not use this, see red sauce recipe]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated fontina cheese
recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. To make eggplant, combine 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.
  3. To make filling, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through egg).
  4. To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.

Recipe: Cooking Light

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We hope you enjoy this delish Italian Delicacy!

-The Neilan Family-

Twix Brownies

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Photo: Life in the Lofthouse

Twix Brownies- because life is about moderation + sometimes, you have to treat yourself! My husband’s favorite candy is Twix- so that is how I first stumbled upon this dreamy recipe. It’s our second time making these and they get better and better somehow EVERY.TIME. This week I made it for a coworker’s birthday at work! Definitely a hit with the dietitians because it’s so yummy and what’s not to love! We cut them in pretty small pieces- so like I said, we do enjoy them in moderation. I would compare the size we had to about the length of your middle finger and the width of a quarter hahaha if that gives you a good picture into the portion size world of dietitians [sometimes we went back for seconds but when you start with a small piece- that’s ok!!!]

Recipe: Life in the Lofthouse

brownie layer
  1. 1 cup butter, softened [or 1/2 C applesauce- we used butter]
  2. 2 cups sugar [we used 2/3 C + 3 Tbsp of Truvia]
  3. 4 large eggs [or flax eggs- we used regular]
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  7. 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour [we used whole wheat]
shortbread layer
  1. 1 (10 oz.) box Lorna Doone’s shortbread cookies
  2. 6 ounces cream cheese, softened [can substitute with 1 C plain yogurt- we used cream cheese]
  3. 1/2 cup sugar [we used 3 1/2 Tbsp of truvia]
caramel layer
  1. 1 (11 oz.) bag caramel bits
  2. 2 Tablespoons milk [we used cashew]
chocolate layer
  1. 1 1/2 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
  2. 1 Tablespoon shortening [we used coconut oil]
recipe
  1. BROWNIES: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9×13-inch glass baking pan with non-stick spray. Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until just combined. Add salt, cocoa powder and flour gradually to wet mixture until combined. Don’t over mix. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  2. SHORTBREAD LAYER: Place shortbread cookies in a food processor and crush until fine crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl and add cream cheese and sugar. Beat with a hand-mixer until combined. Press this mixture evenly over cooled brownies.
  3. CARAMEL LAYER: Place caramel bits and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Pour over shortbread layer. Place in fridge to let cool completely.
  4. CHOCOLATE LAYER: Place chocolate chips and shortening [or coconut oil] in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Pour over caramel layer. Place in fridge to let brownies set before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!!

-The Neilan Family-

Healthy PB + J Cookie: Complete with Chia Seed Jam Recipe

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As I type this, Patrick is texting me how amazing they are from work. I wish you all could hear my excitement because the love that I have for this little treat, is just beyond typed words. You all must give this recipe a try! It only took me about 30min to throw everything together- tops! The recipe is from the Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook and SO incredible- especially when it’s hot out of the oven with fresh chia seed jam, forgettaboutit (as my Italian fam would say)! 

Why we started making this recipe? I mentioned this on my Instagram, DoctorMeetsDietitian, so feel free to skim over + head straight to the recipe if you previously read this. Anyway, I am always on the hunt for a nutrient/calorie dense snack- especially for Patrick. He often times forgets to eat when he is at work between lunch and coming home for dinner (especially in the ICU). When you work 12+ hour work days/6 days a week- it’s just too much to go from noon to sometimes 8pm or later. Patrick LOVES LOVE LOVES the carrot cake bliss ball recipe (link: https://doctormeetsdietitian.com/2017/11/20/bliss-balls-aka-carrot-cake-energy-bites/) but every so often, I do like to switch it up- cue the healthy PB+ J Cookie recipe.

ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 (packed) cup pitted Medjool dates (*buy pit-in version and remove pits)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter (sub almond, cashew or sunbutter or tahini)
  • 2 large eggs, whisked (sub flax or chia eggs for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine oats and dates and pulse until combined into a chunky mixture, approximately 10 pulses.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until ingredients are incorporated and you can only see tiny pieces of dates and oats. Carefully remove blade from processor.
  4. Place a bowl of room temperature water between the baking sheet and food processor. Dampen your hands in the water to prevent sticking, and roll dough into 2 1/2 inch balls. Place balls on baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each.
  5. Wet a fork and use the tines to gently press down on each cookie until it is approximately 1 inch thick. You can turn the tines in opposing directions to create a cross-hatched look.
  6. Bake for 11 minutes, then allow to cool.

Chia Seed Jam

  • 2 heaping cups of frozen mixed berries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Pure Maple Syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Chia Seeds (we tend to add a lot. you can start with 1 tbsp and add to taste)
  1. Place berries and water in a small sauce pot- turn on medium heat- and bring to boil. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Use a fork or spoon to help the fruit breakdown
  3. Once liquid has been absorbed and the jam is your desired consistency [we prefer some clumps of fruit], remove pan from heat and add maple syrup + chia seeds.
  4. Whisk for about 5 minutes to make sure chia seeds don’t clump up on you

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Enjoy hot [like I prefer] -or- chilled [like Patrick prefers]! Both, so delicious!!

-The Neilan Family-

PS: we wrap them in tin foil (by twos) + throw them in the freezer- so it’s super easy to whip them out in the morning and send Patrick on his way to the hospital!

Matcha Smoothie

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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-

Fluffiest Popovers + Simple Homemade Jam Recipe

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Some things I don’t kid about- and one of those things is popovers. Definitely in my top 5 favorite foods. My love of these guys is quite unreal. If you haven’t had one- envision bread- but a hundred million times better. Fluffy, light and incredible. I actually always pass on bread – because unless is extraordinarily made/incredible – I’m not into it. I find most bread boring. BUT POPOVERS- total game changer. 

Background where my story began with popovers: In high school I would go to this super fancy restaurant with a friend (every day) and order a garden salad and multiple baskets of popovers (which came free on the table). Looking back those waiters most definitely hated us. 15-18 year old girls (yes this continued for years), coming in every day and ordering only a garden salad at a fancy restaurant- wowzers. But how nice were they to keep bringing the popovers endlessly without complaining?! Shout out to Luigino’s in Orlando, FL if you all are ever around that neck of the woods.

Anyway, now that I’m older I have realized just how easy they are to make. I recently ordered a popover pan on amazon. I highly recommend purchasing if you plan on making popovers. A cupcake tin does not work as well- they don’t expand and they’re not nearly as fluffy. So for fifteen dollars, I think it’s absolutely worth it. Here is the one I purchased- https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Metallic-Professional-Popover-15-5-Inch/dp/B003YL3DWO/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513207241&sr=1-4&keywords=popover+pan.

We make popovers all the time- with soup or as an appetizer before dinner and they are soooo yummy. I love them with a little butter and homemade strawberry or blueberry jam. As you become a popover pro, you can start adding spices, cheese, chocolate, nuts and jam to the center of the popover- then bake. But I am a simple girl and like them the original way best! But play with it and see what you like!

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Popover Recipe from Neiman Marcus Cookbook

ingredients 

  • 3 1/2 Cups of Milk – we used almond
  • 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour- we used half whole wheat and half regular flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 6 Large Eggs at room temperature

Of note: the key to the best popovers is having the eggs and milk warm before mixing

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Place milk in bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes
  3. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in large mixing bowl
  4. Crack the eggs into the work bowl of an electric mixer – beat on medium for about 3 minutes until pale and foamy
  5. Turn down the mixer to low and add warm milk
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes
  7. Turn the machine off and let the batter rest for 1 hr at room temperature (I know this is annoying but it is worth the wait- if you can’t wait continue without letting it sit but if you can- complete this step!)
  8. Spray popover pan generously with nonstick spray
  9. Fill the popover cups almost to the top with batter
  10. Bake popovers for 15 minutes
  11. Turn oven temperature down to 375 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes or until popovers are a deep golden brown on the outside
  12. Immediately serve hot with butter and homemade jam

simple jam recipe

  • 3 cups of blueberries or strawberries (fruit of your choice)
  • 1 cup of sugar (or 1/3 cup + 1.5 Tablespoons of Truvia)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Place all ingredients in small pot and heat on stove for about 20-30 minutes (low/medium heat) + mix occasionally. Should become smooth/jelly like consistency. If you like your jam lumpy like me – take off a bit earlier. 

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I hope you enjoy this delicacy as much as we do! When Patrick tried a popover for the first time he was thoroughly impressed! Who doesn’t love the delicious light/airiness of a yummy hot popover?! If you all try this recipe, please let us know what you think! 

-The Neilan Family-

P.S. Don’t forget to order your popover tin

Coziest Lentil Soup Recipe

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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-

Mom’s (Not-So-Secret-Anymore) Cranberry Nut Mold

Well hi there & Happy Thanksgiving morning!! It is still super early and Knox (our pup) is passed out and Patrick just left for another day in the MICU. So before things get crazy at my parents house today, I wanted to share my favorite holiday treat! We make it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I know a lot of people like the cranberry sauce from the can and no judgement here- but I am just not a fan.  Could be the bitter taste or the ridges from the can on the cranberry sauce when its poured out- who knows! So when I make this recipe- I make it as is. Sometimes you cannot mess with perfection; however, I did put some modifications in for you all if you want to avoid all the sugar. 

ingredients

  • 1 (12oz) Bag of Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar (3/4 C Truvia Sugar Cane Blend)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 (6oz) pkg. Raspberry Gelatin (key is raspberry flavor and you’d be surprised when it’s all finished, you’d never know it’s raspberry. It has a “lighter” taste than the cherry and strawberry so you taste more of the cranberry!)
  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Celery (Yup- there’s a veggie in there- and it adds incredible crunch to it)
  • 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

I just want to add here that if you have a favorite fruit/nut you can add 1/2 C in! Apples, almonds, raisins, pineapples- sky is the limit!

recipe

  1. Rinse cranberries and remove stems (if any)
  2. Place berries in a large pot
  3. Add sugar and water and stir to blend. Bring to boil, then lower heat and cook 5 minutes until berries are bursting
  4. Remove pot from heat and stir in raspberry gelatin until gelatin dissolves
  5. Cool in refrigerator until mixture begins to thicken, then add celery and nuts
  6. Pour into mod or bundt pan and refrigerate until firm (4-5 hours or overnight)

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Family to Yours!

P.S. Remember to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full- you can always have leftovers and in my opinion they’re equally yummy!

Bliss Balls aka Carrot Cake Energy Bites

This recipe is from the amazing Laura Lea Balanced Cook Book and we absolutely love it. I make this recipe once a week and Patrick brings two to work with him every day. Lots of protein bars (and things of that nature) that I give him to bring to work- get sent right back home (because he forgets about them) but never these guys. If you are a fan of Carrot Cake like we are – you guys will loooooovvveeee this vegan recipe. Patrick likes them frozen/I like them thawed- so that part is up to you but both are soo delicious!

How did these guys coin the name – Bliss Balls-? One of Patrick’s Co-Residents was a fan and named them for us! 

bites

  • 1 C Raw Walnuts
  • 1 (packed) Cup Grated Carrots
  • 4 Teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • 2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 (packed) Cup of Medjool dates (about 10)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt

glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons of Runny Almond Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or you can use cooking spray)
  2. Add walnuts to half of the baking sheet (make sure they do not over lap)
  3. In a small bowl, combine carrots, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to coat, then spread carrots on other side of the baking sheet.
  4. Roast carrots and walnuts for 12 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. While carrots and walnuts are roasting, combine oats, coconut flakes, dates, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sea salt in a food processor. Process until mixture forms a chunky crumble.
  6. Once carrots and walnuts are cooled, add to food processor. Place a new sheet of parchment paper on your baking sheet. Process the mixture until it forms a sticky dough. It should stick together – if not, adding 2-3 dates will help with this.
  7. Once everything is mixed in food processor- roll 2 tablespoons of dough per bite and place side by side on baking sheet. Freeze bites while you make the glaze.
  8. Glaze: Make glaze by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. If it does not seem “runny”- microwave for 20 seconds. Pull bites out of freezer, roll each in glaze and return to baking sheet. Place bites back in freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying. Place leftover bites in rightly sealed container and refrigerate!

Side Note: Patrick and I actually keep them in the freezer and I pull two out in the morning- this way by the time he has them they are still somewhat cold

Hope you all enjoy your bliss balls! – The Neilan Family

Where All The Forgotten Bananas Go: Cinnamon Banana Bread

43b81d373132cd35baf511d944c58c9f--banana-holder-color-clubOops forgot about our bananas & now they’re entirely too ripe to eat – aka Banana Bread Time in the Neilan Household. So yummy and perfect for fall weather! But before we get into the recipe lets delve into some science. 

From the Dietitian: Come spend a day with us dietitians in the office – and you will hear LOTS about bananas. As most of you are likely aware, bananas are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and antioxidants. But we have learned, through many discussions in the office, people are very particular about the kind of banana they prefer! I, myself, like a banana with some green on it and 0 spots.  But the point I’m getting to is THIS! There is actually some science behind it!

From the Doctor: Benefits of unripe bananas: Low sugar content. Good for people with diabetes or trying to watch their sugar intake. Unripe bananas also have more starch- so they will keep you fuller longer. They contain more probiotics (aka great for gut health).  Benefits of ripe bananas: There was a study done in China, that showed that the spots on bananas indicate (TNF) tumor necrosis factor and could act as an immunity agent, fighting against abnormal cells in the body. Ripe bananas are easier for the body to digest than unripe and also contain more antioxidants.

Bananas could help with anxiety and depression because they actually contain tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin! For someone without chronic disease- having a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50%. Bananas are also known to be good for cardiovascular and digestive health.

So, to sum it all up, no matter the banana you prefer- you’re getting all kinds of health benefits! Now for the recipe!

for the banana bread

  • 3 Very Ripe Bananas (we used 4 because I didn’t want to throw the last guy out)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 C Quick Oats
  • 3/4 C All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 C Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 C Sugar (We used 1/4 C and 2 Tsp of Truvia)
  • 1/4 C Canola Oil (We used 1/4 C Apple Sauce)
  • 1/3 C Milk (We used cashew)
  • 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

for the topping

  • 1/2 C Sugar (We used 3 1/2 Tbsp of Truvia)
  • 2 Tbsp of Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon

the recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Prep 9 x 5 loaf pan with non-stick spray (We used olive oil spray or you can just use butter)
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, oats, sugar and salt
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and mashed bananas (mix with your hands- I guess I’m a weirdo because I love this part!!)
  5. Then mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients (with hands or a spoon)
  6. Time for the topping mixture! In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter- mix with hands until it looks almost like wet sand
  7. Pour half of the banana bread mixture in your loaf pan- sprinkle half of the cinnamon mixture on top- then pour the rest of your batter in and sprinkle the other half of cinnamon mixture on top!
  8. Bake for 50-60 min

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Slice yourself a piece in the morning with some cashew or almond butter to add protein & make it a little bit more filling! Or, for a late-night snack, warm it up 5-10 seconds and have a scoop of vanilla halo top ice cream!