Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper the pork and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of thyme. Set aside.
Pit and halve the plums. Add the plums, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, apple cider vinegar, stevia/monkfruit sweetener, liquid smoke, mustard, shallots, and black pepper to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add water to get to desired consistency.
Brush the pork with the bbq sauce covering the sides as well. Roast for 15 minutes and then brush the pork with another round of bbq sauce. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until the internal temp is at least 140 degrees (it will get to 145 degrees when it rests).
Brush the pork with BBQ sauce again and sprinkle with the last tbsp of thyme on top of the pork. Let rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with extra BBQ sauce as needed.
Sugar. The poor word gets such a bad rap. And often for good reason. It is in a lot of our foods…I mean A LOT. The food industry does not help us along the way either. At times, they make it very difficult for the average person to understand whether a food is high or low in added or natural sugar. They also tend to sneak it in wherever they can, especially condiments.
The easiest way to become more comfortable with understanding what is added and what is natural sugar is by looking at the ingredient list. The most common added sugars are high fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, honey, fruit juice concentrates, syrups, or molasses.
Naturally occurring sugars generally come from lactose in dairy foods and fructose, which is naturally occurring in fruit. Foods high in added sugars often come from sweetened beverages, condiments, desserts, and baked goods.
One of the main reasons you want to keep your added sugar intake in check is the amount of calories in 1 gram. With 1 gram of sugar containing 4 calories, the calories from high-sugar food items can add up quickly if you’re not careful. If you consume sugar in large quantities, the excess calories can result in weight gain. Excess weight in the form of overweight or obesity can lead to a multitude of chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
So what’s the limit for added sugar intake per day? The American Heart Association recommends ~6 teaspoons or less (25 grams) of added sugar daily for women and ~9 teaspoons for men (36 grams). If you’ve ever kept an eye on your sugar intake throughout the day, you know this target can be very difficult for some us, especially my fellow sweet tooth lovers. To put this into a little perspective, a standard 12-oz soda has around 39 grams of added sugar. This equates to around 9 teaspoons and close to 160 empty calories just from the sugar. See what I mean? This shit adds up!
So what do we do with this information? Well I have some really great news for you. Fruit is a natural sugar and it is sweet! Getting creative with how you use certain fruits can lead to healthier choices and overall reducing your added sugar intake. Now keep in mind, fruit is still a sugar, a natural sugar, but nonetheless a sugar. However, the pros of eating fruit over other high sugar food items, such as cookies, cakes, or soda, greatly outweigh the cons of potentially eating too much fruit, which is highly unlikely in our westernized eating habits.
This three-ingredient currant jam is so easy (hence only three ingredients!) and is naturally sweetened using dates. The red currants offer a fresh tartness that compliments the sweetness from the dates beautifully.
Another bonus, both dates and currants are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, dietary fiber, iron, and potassium. Dates also contain tannins, which have great antioxidant and anti-infective characteristics.
Enjoy this nutrient-dense jam without the guilt of any added sugar. Spread on whole grain toast with avocado chunks, goat cheese, chia seeds, and fresh thyme for a healthy snack or serve with pork loin for a hint of sweetness in an otherwise savory dish. -EAB
I have been obsessed with making sauces or aioli’s lately to bring an average dish to the next level. In college, one of my girlfriends did a study abroad in Greece for the summer. She came back bragging about this amazing cucumber-dill sauce that she ate constantly over there. When she made the tzatziki sauce for us, I COULD NOT stop eating it. We ripped off pieces of French bread and dipped it into this thick, creamy goodness…over and over and over again.
Although I woke up the next morning breathing fire from the garlic (despite brushing my teeth thoroughly the night before), it was so worth it! Since then, I have made this sauce several times and it is a must-make in the summer, especially with the abundance of cucumbers I have growing in my garden. This sauce pairs beautifully with anything Greek (for obvious reasons), such as a Greek salad, gyros, or just plain old baked chicken breast.
This sauce also makes for a great high-protein, low calorie dip served with vegetables and crackers…perfect for football season right around the corner! The high protein content of the Greek yogurt will help you feel full for longer and keep your grazing in check. This sauce can be made a few minutes before serving but it truly tastes the best if it has had at least an hour or even overnight to let the flavors marinade. The key to avoiding this tzatziki sauce from getting too watery is salting the chopped cucumbers and letting them sit for an hour or two. This extra step pulls water from the cucumbers making the sauce extra creamy instead of watery.
Print this recipe off because you’re going to want to add it to your regular rotation 😉 Enjoy!
One of the things I love about Shakshuka is the ability to transform it the flavors or ingredients you have available in the house. A traditional Shakshuka is a Mediterannean dish generally comprised of eggs poached in a tomato sauce consisting of tomatoes, garlic, cumin, paprika, garlic, and peppers. It is often served with a side of warm bread or pita to mop up all the leftover sauce and fixings.
Over the years I have made several variations of Shakshuka, but today ended up being a cross between Shakshuka and a vegetable egg skillet. Either way, it ended up delicious. The best part about this recipe is I used ingredients that I think are pretty readily available in everyone’s refrigerator or pantry:
Yellow Yukon potatoes
small can of green chilies
Again, these ingredients can be modified to fit ingredients you have available at home. You can also add more ingredients depending on how much you want to jazz up the dish. Some suggestions: feta or goat cheese, bell pepper, garlic, canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, warm bread or naan on the side…your options are really endless.
Another bonus of this dish is you can jam pack as many vegetables as you fancy, making this a great, healthy breakfast. The fiber from the vegetables, in combination with the protein from the eggs will keep you satiated for several hours after. Lastly, this is a one-dish wonder! Meaning you should only have one dish to clean once you’re done, which is always a plus in my eyes 🙂 Enjoy!
14.5 oz candiced green chiliesI used mild, but medium or hot would work
5pasture-raised Vital Farm eggs
2tbspextra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop all the vegetables and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in the cast iron skillet on medium-high heat then add the potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
Add in the onions and saute for about 3-5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes' skin start to soften (about 2-3 minutes), add in the canned chilies. Stir to evenly combine for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat down to medium-low.
Create little pockets by moving the vegetables to the side (about 5 pockets). Crack each egg individually into the pockets. Once the bottom of the egg is no longer translucent, move the cast iron dish into the oven for about 3-5 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to avoid overcooking the eggs. Once the whites are fully cooked, pull the dish out of the oven.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.
Who doesn’t love going to a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and coming home with a plethora of beautiful local fruits and vegetables? But are you sure they are local? Are you sure you got the best bang for your buck as far as cost and what produce will taste the best? I know I’ve gone to the farmers market countless times only to come back spending more money than I wanted to and finding out little about the actual food.
There is no better way to find out everything you need to know about the produce (or meat) you are buying at the farmer’s market than from the mouth of the farmer. Don’t be shy! Ask the farmer or vendor at the farmer’s market some of these helpful questions to guide you to the best purchases of fruits and vegetables. By asking these questions, you enrich your own farmer’s market experience by learning more about your food and the farming involved with producing it.
What is selling for the best price?
I think it’s fair to say, we have all come home from a farmer’s market with far too much produce and spent more money than we intended too. But the produce is all so beautiful, right? Right. If you are working on a budget, ask the vendor which produce is selling for the best price. They are running a business too so they should give a you straight shot answer.
When was the fruit or vegetable picked?
No one wants to go home with fruits or vegetables that start rotting the next day. We want the freshest of the fresh depending on how we plan to consume the produce. If it was harvested over >48 hours ago, you may want to shop around and ask other farmers if they have harvested within the last 24 hours.
What produce are you spraying with pesticides or chemicals? Is it organic?
If pesticides and/or chemicals are a big concern for you, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor or farmer which produce do they spray or are they certified organic? This may help guide which produce you purchase. For example, you may gear more towards fruits or vegetables that don’t have edible skin if standard pesticides are used (i.e. bananas or oranges).
How can I cook this?
Variety in consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to great health. But often we are too scared to try something new or have no idea how to cook or prepare it. If you’re looking to try a new fruit or vegetable from the farmer’s market, the farmer is likely the best person to ask what it’s best served with or how to prepare it. Ask if you can try a sample!
Where is your farm located or are you a wholesale market?
Many of us shop at farmer’s markets because we love the idea of supporting local farmers and businesses. However, just because someone is standing behind a table selling produce, doesn’t always mean they are a local farmer. Vendors can be just as knowledgeable, but some travel for larger wholesale companies selling other people’s produce, which does not equate to supporting local business.
Do you need an extra hand?
If you are really eager to find out more about farming or how their farming is done, ask them if they need a free hand sometime. This may be an invaluable experience for truly understanding farm-to-table in West Michigan.
Between family get-togethers, company parties, and holiday shopping, this season is always busy. It’s easy to get thrown off your normal routine of cooking and eating healthy with all these events. During this time, I heavily depend on these healthy fridge staples to get me through. Gotta have all hands on deck health and energy-wise during this season, therefore it’s essential for me to have these food items available to me. Here are my 10 refrigerator must-haves always and especially during the holiday season.
Spinach or dark leafy greens
Whether adding to my eggs in the morning, soups in the evening, or just making a simple salad, these are a must-have for me. They are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.
Unsweetened soy milk
Soy intake in moderate amounts may have a protective effect against cancer risk. Moderate amounts includes about 2-3 servings of whole soy foods daily (i.e. soy milk, edamame, tofu, etc.). Because I don’t consume tofu and edamame on a regular basis, I try to consume at least 1/2-1 cup of unsweetened soy milk daily. It’s a great source of soy-based protein (as compared to many other non-dairy based milks), potassium, vitamin B12, folate, calcium, and vitamin D.
Plain Greek yogurt
My go-to uses of plain Greek yogurt is rarely for eating just plain yogurt. It’s one of my favorite healthy swaps in dips, sauces, and spreads. I find myself continually subbing it for sour cream in dips and Mexican cuisine. It’s low in added sugar, high in protein, and a great source of calcium. Try spreading on toast with sliced apples topped with a honey, nut butter, and coconut milk drizzle for a delicious mid-afternoon snack.
Some people may not store in the refrigerator but I often do just to keep it as fresh as possible. Ground flaxseed meal is a great source of fiber, protein, and iron. With 2 tablespoons providing 2430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also packed full of all those heart healthy fats. It adds a lovely nutty flavor to your favorite cookies, energy bites, fruit smoothies, or my favorite…old-fashioned oatmeal.
Oh the holy grail! We all know avocado is all the rage right now, but honestly how can you resist. It spreads beautifully on toast and blends easily in your favorite smoothie or savory sauce. It’s jam-packed with the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and provides at least 20 vitamins and minerals in one-third a medium avocado (one serving). Enough said.
My booch 😉 This fermented tea beverage is a probiotic that can help maintain gut microbiota. I try to drink at least one Kombucha a week to maintain my gut health. Taking care of your gut health is essential to support regular bowel and immune function. Plus, there are ample flavors to choose from…don’t tell me you can’t find one you like.
Once while traveling the country, I drove past a large semi truck carrying caged chickens that were literally packed in tighter than sardines. My face while driving past the truck turned to the driver in pure horror. I never looked back. Cage-free eggs fa’ life. Plus they’re delicious and the yolk is always plump and never saggy (ew saggy!). Eggs are good any time of the day for me…breakfast, snack, lunch, brinner, you name it. Eggs provide high quality protein and are bursting at the seams with great nutrients, such as B-vitamins, choline, iron, vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin.
I must admit I never string the cheese. I eat it by the whole bite-size. To those who have the patience to pull apart the strings of cheese and eat them slowly, I applaud you. I don’t have that patience. This snack helps hold me over between meals due to 6-7 grams of protein. It provides a good source of calcium and limited fat (if you are purchasing the light version!) for all my low fat friends.
The phrase “hummus is yummus” holds true in my mind. I often make my own (see here for a chipotle pumpkin version), but in the case I don’t, I almost always have a store-bought container on hand. Hummus is a great plant-based snack, blending cooked chickpeas and tahini sauce as the classic foundation. Spread on toast and/or pita bread or enjoy with your favorite crackers and fresh vegetables.
Well what on earth are you going to eat with the hummus?! Dem baby carrots. Baby carrots are a great go-to snack. Ready-to-eat, low in calories and can be paired with hummus of course, your favorite nut butter, grapes, veggie dip, or just eaten by themselves. Carrots offer excellent sources of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
What are some your favorite refrigerator staples? Comment below 🙂
We have all heard the statistics about unwanted weight gain during the holiday season and how we often struggle to lose this weight over the course of the rest of the year. Luckily, there are many easy, healthy swaps to help reduce excess calories and fat in holiday cooking. In addition, we also know that stress plays a role in unwanted weight gain. According to a study conducted by the CDC, higher perceived stress was associated with lower levels of physical activity, less mindful eating behaviors, and more energy-dense food choices. Therefore, even if you are using healthier techniques in your holiday baking this year, your weight may still continue to climb if you are bombarded with stress.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s important to start preparing your mindset in order to promote good health before, during, and after the holidays. Follow this guide to help formulate a strong and healthy holiday mindset.
Identify what part of the holidays makes you happy. Is it catching up with friends or family, giving back to the community, making food for family, or even eating all the yummy traditional holiday foods? Make these things a priority. Even if enjoying all the yummy food is something you really look forward too, then do so without feeling guilty. But be sure to remember moderation and portion sizes. After all, it is not the select couple holidays that will cause significant weight gain. It is the lack of a consistent healthy lifestyle before, during, and after the holidays that makes the biggest impact long-term.
Identify areas of your diet or fitness that need improving NOW. Not the day after Thanksgiving when the guilt sets in or January 1st when you decide to start a crash diet. Focus on 2 SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals for your fitness level and diet now. Make these goals as realistic as possible so that it will be feasible to maintain throughout and after the holiday season.
De-glorify certain “off-limit” foods. When we put pumpkin pie in a category of “should never eat” and salad in a category of “eat often”, which one do we tend to want more? That slice of pumpkin pie. When we stop hyper-focusing on foods that we can’t eat and focus on all foods in moderation, you start to form a positive relationship to food and your body.
Find your zen time. Whether that’s taking more time for yourself or just feeling ok with saying “no” to parties or extra tasks. Allowing your mind to decompress will help facilitate a healthier mindset during the holidays. Try some of these relaxation tips:
Read a book for 15 minutes every day.
Meditate or yoga for 15-20 minutes daily.
Journal in the morning or evenings before bed to remind yourself things you are grateful for.
Go tech-free for an hour or two during the day. Don’t be afraid to unplug from the electronics for a while.
By following some of these easy tips to decompress your mind, you may find you will enjoy your holidays even more than previous years. The mind plays a large part in your health and it’s important to treat it as an equal to diet and exercise in your healthy lifestyle. Happy Holidays!
But I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we’ve seen a fair share of people that get to the end of the salad bar line (with all the best intentions) and end up dumping half a cup of Ranch dressing all over their salad. We have all seen it or been culprits of it. Building a healthy salad can be a daunting task especially if we are faced with so many healthy and unhealthy options from a salad bar…bacon, hard-boiled eggs, ham, specialty cheeses, avocado, every dressing under the sun, and croutons to name a few. If we aren’t careful, entree salads can reach up to 1000 calories or more…ultimately debunking our recommended daily caloric intake.
Just like most things in life, the key to a healthy salad is balance and knowing which foods may ultimately tip the scale a little too far if you aren’t aware of portion sizes. Salads can be comprised of many different food groups (and should!) such as vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, and light dressing. So let’s jump right into this step-by-step toolkit.
Building your Base:
Choosing the best type of greens is essential to building a great salad. Avoid iceberg lettuce and get adventurous with the many options of nutrient-dense greens available.
Options: arugula, Asian greens (mizuna, pac choi, tatsoi, etc.), romaine, bibb, mesclun, sorrel, endive, kale, spinach, or a spring mix.
For 20 calories per 2 cups, feel free to load up your bowl!
Great sources of fiber, folate, carotenoids, iron, calcium, and vitamins C and K.
Feel free to mix in fresh herbs to add an interesting dynamic of flavor (parsley, basil, cilantro, dill).
Try massaging kale and arugula with 1-2 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil to make the leaves more palatable in a raw salad.
Load Up on Veggies:
The world provides endless variety when it comes to what vegetables to add to your salad. Try to stick with non-starchy vegetables to help keep your salad low-calorie and use what’s in season.
Broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, squash, asparagus, bell peppers, red onion, etc.
Avoid pre-marinated or fried vegetables to reduce unwanted calories from fat.
For 25 calories per ½ cup serving, you can beef up your salad with loads of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and dietary fiber.
Aim for at least 2 different vegetables on your salad to get in those anti-cancer effects!
Aim to get in at least 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Picking your Protein:
Picking the right protein can be a little daunting. Here are few easy tips to guide you.
With Superbowl Sunday approaching quickly, I know many of us are starting to think about the food. Dips on dips on dips plus WINGS. But then you may also be thinking about calories or diet debunking. Yeah, my Whole 30-er’s I’m talking to you 🙂
Some sources say Americans consume up to 2,400 calories on Superbowl Sunday, while others report numbers up to 6,000 calories by the end of Superbowl Sunday. Either way, these numbers are astronomical! And the key to remember is it doesn’t have to be like this. You can have an enjoyable Superbowl Sunday by just making a few easy and healthy swaps. Trust me, these swaps are undetectable! What people don’t know won’t hurt them. Hey, it may even help them in this case.
The video link below is the Fox 17 healthy appetizer swap segment that I did right before Christmas this past December, but many of these swaps still apply so be sure to check it out! Otherwise, skip down to these healthy and simple swaps 🙂
This Superbowl Sunday, try serving air-popped popcorn instead of nuts. One half cup of nuts is almost 9x more calories than a half cup of popcorn.
Popcorn is a great whole grain snack and great source of dietary fiber.
Try fun, new variations of popcorn flavors, such as ginger and wasabi, chili-garlic, parmesan and truffle oil with parsley, and paprika and chili powder.
Indulge the right way—
Don’t let baked goods debunk your diet!
Use unsweetened applesauce to replace half or more of your margarine, shortening, or oil in your baked goods for ~50% less calories and fat.
Don’t drink your diet away—
Calories can add up from beverages, not just food alone. Keep an eye on your added calories from alcohol and high-calorie drinks.
Ok people, I know you are going to drink and who are we kidding, there isn’t a healthy substitute for beer (unless you enjoy light beer aka water), but let’s keep count at the very least. If you won’t limit yourself to one or two drinks for health, at least do it for safety purposes. Drive safely!
Make a wine spritzer using 3 oz white wine and 2 oz club soda or carbonated water to keep your head clear during a Superbowl Sunday party and to cut back on ~40% or ~50 calories.
Get creative with your balls (meatballs of course)—
When making meatballs, mix half of your ground beef with cooked lentils to lower calories and fat content.
Reduce the amount of ground beef by half and add cooked lentils in your meatball recipe to provide up to 20% fewer calories and ~40% less fat.
If convenience or time is a factor, check to see if there are pre-cooked lentils available in the produce section at the grocery store.
Combine all of the ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl and gently mix until combined.
Form into golf ball sized meatballs, about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Arrange on a tray. Should make about 12-14 meatballs.
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Let it warm for 30 seconds. Add half of the meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
Arrange meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until thermometer reads an internal temperature of 160F.