Live Happy. Live Healthy. One Step At A Time.
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything
Kale Chips

In my previous “Try It…Kale” post, I discussed kale and how it is the most nutrient-dense food available. If you haven’t tried it yet, or are a looking for another way to enjoy it, here is another simple and easy way. Kale Chips are sold in stories but are quite expensive, so I decided to start making my own. 

Ingredients: 

2 bunches kale (curly, dino, or any kind is fine)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

You can make them with just salt and pepper, or you can also add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, sesame seeds, or cayenne pepper as well. 

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with paper towels. Cut the kale leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. (The kale shrinks when it cooks so make sure the pieces are not too small). In a large bowl, drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and other seasonings if desired. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the kale in a thin layer.

Bake for 7 minutes, remove and flip the kale, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Exact cooking time depends on the thickness and size of the kale chips. They are done when the edges are burnt, but not brown. 

Say goodbye to your potato chips and enjoy this healthy, delicious, and addicting snack!

Veggie Burgers

I had a BBQ on Labor Day with some friends who all wanted to eat healthy regardless of it being a holiday or not. I thought this would be a perfect chance for me to try home-making veggie burgers, and I am so glad I did. They were a hit! I highly encourage you to try out this recipe. It takes a little bit of time preparing the patties, but it was so worth it. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, this a great alternative for red meat next time you are craving a burger. This recipe made 6 vegetable burger patties.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

3 chopped garlic cloves

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh chives

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

2 cups cooked brown rice, divided

1 1/2 cup cooked lentils (or 1 15-ounce can lentils), rinsed and drained

1 egg

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, garlic, parsley, thyme, chives, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Transfer to a large bowl. 

In a food processor, puree 1 cup rice, lentils, and egg until smooth. Transfer to large bowl with vegetables, add the remaining 1 cup of rice, and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate mixture for 2-3 hours. 

Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a grill-pan or a large pan over medium heat. Form the mixture into 6 patties and cook until golden and crisp, 12-15 minutes total. Flip the patties 3-4 times while cooking. 

Once cooked, remove the patties from the heat and transfer to a plate to serve. I served these burgers without a bun (we ate them with a fork and knife) with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and avocado. I also added a slice of cheddar cheese to half of them. Feel free to serve them on a bun and with whatever other toppings you would like. Enjoy this gluten-free, meat-free, healthy-as-a-burger-gets burger! 

 

Tacos

It seems that everybody likes tacos, and they are one of the simplest things you can make. Some taco seasonings are loaded with sodium, so try this home-made one. If you don’t have all the spices, you can buy the exact amount you need in the bulk section at Sprouts or Whole Foods for less than a dollar. 

Taco Seasoning- Mix all the spices together and store in tupperware.

1 T. chili powder

1/4 t. garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, oregano

1/2 t. paprika

1 1/2 t. cumin

1 t. pepper

To make the taco meat: 

Brown 1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey on the stove on medium-heat. Once browned, add 3-4 T. of seasoning and 2/3 cup of water and turn to high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

While the meat is simmering, prepare the toppings. I use lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, bellpeppers, freshly grated cheddar cheese, black beans, black olives, and avocado/guacamole. 

Making your own guacamole is very simple too. Just mix together the following ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

2 avocados, mashed

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1 T. lemon or lime juice

1 chopped tomato

1 t. pepper

1 chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)

1/4 cup onion (white or red) (optional)

Serve all of the toppings with tortillas and enjoy! I also suggest making a taco salad by serving all the toppings in a bowl over lettuce/spinach. Crush up some tortilla chips on top and you have all the flavors of a taco without the tortilla. 

Tacos are the perfect meal to make for others or for yourself and save the leftovers. Enjoy!

VEGETARIAN OPTION: Prepare 1 cup of quinoa and mix with 2-3 tablespoons of the seasoning. This gives you the same flavors without using meat.

Everyday may not be good, but there is something good in every day
Falafel

If you are looking for something new to try and cook, make this delicious falafel! 

I cook my own chickpeas and have found they taste much more fresh and have more flavor. However, you can use canned in this recipe also.

To cook your own chickpeas, soak raw chickpeas for 4-6 hours in water, and then put in pot and completely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, strain and use or store in fridge for up to a week.

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpeas

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley

2 cloves, garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 dash pepper

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a food processor and form into balls on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes on each side, until golden brown for a total of 20-24 minutes baking time. I recommend baking them on parchment paper because they stuck to the pan without it. 

Serve the falafel with pita bread, spinach/lettuce, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, hummus, cucumber sauce, or whatever else you like and enjoy :)

Stir-Fry Part II

One of my earlier posts was a recipe for a stir-fry, and I want to share another stir-fry sauce to toss all of your veggies in! This recipe asks for fresh ginger which has so many health benefits. Ginger helps reduce inflammation, stimulates circulation of the blood, help relax muscles around blood vessels, aids in digestion, contains natural antibiotics, and helps fight certain cancer cells. Here is the recipe:

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons chili paste

dash of honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 

Follow the same previous stir-fry recipe, and toss with this sauce instead to mix it up in the kitchen!

Stir-Fry

You’ve heard over and over again how good for you vegetables are and how important it is to eat them daily. The truth is… exactly that. A quick and tasty way to add vegetables to your diet is to make this stir-fry that I make about once a week. The recipe below makes about 4 servings so I save the leftovers (lasts 2-3 days in the fridge) and heat them up for a quick and healthy lunch, dinner, or snack. I either eat the veggies plain, or I serve them over brown rice or quinoa. 

Ingredients: This stir-fry contains some of the healthiest ingredients for you, and here’s why. 

Extra virgin olive oil (decreases risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, supports blood vessels)

1/2-1 white onion, chopped (reduces risk of certain cancers, promotes good cardiovascular health, boosts immune system, reduces inflammation)

6 large carrots, peeled, chopped (helps protects against cancers, improves eyesight with super high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A, great source of vitamin B, C, and K, potassium, magnesium, and folate)

1 red or green bellpepper, chopped (great source of carotenoid, potassium, manganese, fiber, and vitamins A, B, C, and K)

1 head of brocolli, chopped (filled with anti-aging and immune boosting nutrients, helps fight cancers, great source of vitamin C, K, potassium, calcium, iron, and folic acid)

Sesame Seeds (great source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B, zinc, and fiber, contains substances sesamin and sesamolin which help lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure)

Sauce: Use whichever stir-fry sauce you prefer, or try this one. As I did with the home-made barbeque sauce, I also encourage you to home-make this one as well. This way, you control what exactly goes in it and know there are no preservatives or added ingredients. Plus, its a great mix of sweet and spicy flavor and I bet it tastes better than ones you will buy off the shelves :)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)

2 tablespoons water

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons asian chili paste

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon pepper

dash of honey/agave

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl before pouring over sauteed vegetables.

To make this meal:

Start by heating 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion to the pan and sautee for about 5 minutes. Then add carrots and sautee for 3-5 more minutes. Next add the bellpepper and continue sautéing 3-5 more minutes. Finally, add the broccoli for 3 more minutes before adding the stirfry sauce. Once you add the sauce, turn heat up to high and toss with the veggies for 1-2 minutes. Finally, top with a handful of sesame seeds and serve.

Above is the base recipe that I always use. Depending on what else I have, sometimes I also add cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, celery, asparagus, snow peas, bok choy, sprouts, and/or edamame beans. Feel free to add meat if you would like as well. Enjoy! 

Try It… Best BBQ Chicken Salad

 

Who doesn’t like a good barbeque chicken salad? Next time you are in the mood, try making this one instead of going out to satisfy your craving. Listed below are the ingredients to make this delicious salad.

Romaine Lettuce and/or Spinach

Black Beans (I find freshly cooked black beans taste much better. Canned is fine also.. use no salt added if possible) 

Corn (I find it much better to use fresh corn from the cob. Canned is fine also… use no salt added if possible)  

Tomato

Avocado

Red Bellpepper

Cheddar Cheese

Crushed Tortilla Chips (I like to use Flax Chips)

Chicken Breasts- Boneless, Skinless 

My favorite way to make barbeque chicken is by slow-cooking it making pulled chicken, and it is so easy. Put chicken breasts in baking dish, cover with barbeque sauce, and cover with foil. Cook at 325 degrees for about 4 hours, or until chicken can be pulled apart with a fork. Take the chicken out of the dish, pull it apart, and mix with more barbeque sauce to taste.

Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you want. I like to add tons of veggies and black beans, and not as much chicken, but whatever you like works. Toss together with barbeque sauce and enjoy! You can also add a dash of ranch dressing if preferred. 

You can use whatever barbeque sauce you like, but I encourage you to home-make the BEST barbeque sauce I have ever had! By making your own sauce, you are controlling how much of each ingredient goes in. This allows you to monitor how much sodium there is and know there are no extra ingredients or preservatives. Here is the recipe.

  • 1 cup ketchup (organic if possible)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (organic if possible)
  • 1/2-3/4 cups brown sugar (based on your liking)
  • 1/2-3/4 cups red wine vinegar (based on your liking)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2-3 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Mix the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke, and butter together in a large pan over medium heat. Then add the spices. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes… the more time you simmer the better. This recipes makes a lot so be prepared to have leftovers that can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.