Mexican Chicken Stew (GF)(DF)

I have been traveling quite a bit in the past month and have spent substantially less time in the kitchen. So since it has been bitter cold and my free time has been sparse, I decided to put my crockpot to good use. This recipe is simple, flavorful and filling. It will take you 15 minutes to throw together in the morning before work, allowing you to come home to the scent of a home cooked meal without slaving away in the kitchen.

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In a crockpot combine:

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup medium salsa
4 carrots chopped
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of corn
1 can of black or pinto beans
1 ½ cups of chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder

Cook on low for 7 hours. Before serving add the juice of one large or two small limes.  Top with avocado and fresh ground pepper to serve!

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Mug Cake

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It may be December, but I still have enough pumpkin puree to get me through the new year. Pumpkin doesn’t have to come in the sweet and spiced form. It is actually a very versatile squash, full of nutritional benefits.

Pumpkin packs:

Fiber: With three grams per cup and less than 50 calories per serving to ward off hunger

Vitamin A: Your eyesight will benefit

Beta Carotene: To fight cancer causing free radicals

Potassium: To replenish electrolytes after a tough workout

Vitamin C: To boost your immunity

Carotenoids: Fighting off free radicals to give you wrinkle free skin (or as close as you can get…)

So as you all know I am a mug cake fanatic. I find a way with what I have in the kitchen when a craving strikes, which is often. This mug cake is full of fiber and very light. You could even have it for breakfast!

So here is what you will need:

¼ cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground flaxseed
1 splash of almond or coconut milk
2 tsp agave nectar or honey
1-2 tbsp of mini chocolate chip (I use enjoy life dairy free)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Combine everything adding the milk of your choice last. Add as much “milk” as necessary to create a cake batter consistency. You wont need much. Place your mug in the microwave for 1 minute, if the cake is still not done in the middle continue in 30 second increments until it lacks gooey batter spots.

I recommend using a mug with a larger circumference or even a small glass bowl/baking dish. I standard mug will take longer to cook through leaving the outsides slightly overcooked. If you want to split the serving between two standard mugs to make two mini mug cakes, that will work, as long as you are willing to share.

This healthy little cake does not taste much like pumpkin, so enjoy all year round!

Chana Masala (GF)(V)

imageIt’s fall and it is definitely crockpot season. The leaves are falling and gathering in big beautiful piles all around us. The mold has my allergies flaring and a warm spicy meal is just what I have been craving. So enter the easiest pseudo indian meal you will ever make. Masala does not traditionally include cabbage but I cannot make anything without adding some greens. You can omit the cabbage but I recommend it!

Here is what you will need:

4 cups of water
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
½ head of green cabbage chopped
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas

Combine all ingredients excluding the chickpeas and cook on low for 6 hours. Add in the chickpeas and cook on low for an additional 1-2 hours.

I served over brown basmati rice but you could substitute for the rice of your choice, or even quinoa. If you cannot handle the heat, cut the cayenne to half a teaspoon.

Chaco Pumpkin Truffle Cookies (V)(GF)

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Yummmm. I think I had about three cookies worth of batter as I licked the spatula, spoon, bowl, food processor and counter clean.

I make a lot of Vegan friendly desserts because I do not tolerate dairy well. Part of vegan baking is accepting the failures. The pumpkin pure has revived me. It adds texture and bounce that mimics eggs and butter, it is spectacular!

So in honor of fall and all things pumpkin, here is my recipe:

½ cup of pumpkin pure
½ cup of creamy peanut butter
¼ cup agave nectar
¾ cup cocoa powder (or cacao)
2 tsp cinnamon

Combine everything in a food processor or vita mix. Set in the refrigerator and allow to set for 10-15 minutes. Use this as an opportunity to clean the kitchen.

Line a baking sheet (or two) and scoop the batter into tablespoon size balls onto the parchment paper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. I would keep an eye on them.

This recipe makes 18 itty bitty bite size cookies.

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Quinoa Energy Balls (V)(GF)

Quinoa Energy Balls (V)(GF)

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I have been seriously struggling with a sweet tooth lately and have had a craving I cannot seem to satisfy with dates and nut butters alone. So if I cannot eat a big piece of chocolate cake at 3:00 pm everyday, I think these little snack nuggets will suffice.

You can whip these together in 10 minutes and enjoy them when you need your daily pick me up. I added chocolate chips to my balls but you can definitely omit them if you wish. I used the mini chips by Enjoy Life.

To make these you will need…

¼ Cup Organic Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)

1 Cup of Cooked Quinoa

2 teaspoons of Honey (Agave or Maple Syrup will work)

1 teaspoon of Molasses

1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

Optional: ¼ Cup mini dairy free chocolate chips

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl until well combine. Be sure to let the quinoa cool before you add everything else. Roll tablespoon size lumps into pretty little balls. You can put these in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to make them set or you can just put them in the fridge and allow them to harden slowly. I gobbled up all the bits that didn’t make it into a neat ball and clean up was a breeze with just one pot to clean. Store them in the refrigerator.

My balls have about 2 grams of protein and 50 calories each, incase you are counting.

I am about to go have one now with a big chai :0)

Why Should You Learn About the Psoas Today?

The Psoas muscle is often left tight and shortened after a post workout stretch. My goal today is to change that. And even if you don’t have a formal exercise routine, you are going to want to listen up because chances are you have a tight Psoas too.

The Psoas, pronounced “So-Az” is located in the pelvic region. It connects your lower back to your upper thigh (femur). It is responsible to hip flexion. Running, walking, stairs, and sitting all shorten the Psoas. Anyone from an endurance runner to the most sedentary couch potato can suffer from overly tight Psoas muscles. A tight Psoas can cause lower back pain, hip pain, leg pain and IT issues. A strong and lengthened Psoas promotes good posture and allows for a strong core.

Most americans spend a lot of their day in the seated position. In this position your Psoas is shortened and weakens overtime. A muscular tightness or weakness of the Psoas can cause an overarching of the lumbar spine, unhealthy anterior pelvic tilt (think Steve Urkle) as well has hunching of the shoulders.

If you spend a lot of the day sitting at work or driving in the car, stand up and stretch regularly. Try and break up your sedentary sessions. If possible, work from a standing desk. If you are a runner you need length to create power. When the Psoas is very short, it is unable to lengthen to then contract during your stride. This lengthening and shortening is what creates power. If you do in fact have a short Psoas muscle avoid hills for a while and engage in Psoas stretches daily.

So how do you know if you have a shortened Psoas? Lay on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Draw your right knee into your chest pulling it towards you, if your left hip is lifting up off the ground your right Psoas is tight and vice versa.

If you failed the test, do not fret, there is hope! First, take my tips above about avoiding extended periods of sitting and lay off hill work while running. In addition, ditch the crunches. When we do sit ups and crunches we almost always engage our Psoas and Hip Flexors. This goes for many other abdominal exercises that are done in the supine position. Just pay attention to your body and if you feel engagement in the pelvic region, lay off temporarily.

Start with these stretches:

Supine Bridge with Pelvic Tilt: Lay on your back with your feet on the floor hip distance apart. You want your heels to be in hands reach while your hands lay by your sides. Lift your hips off the floor while tucking your pelvis. Squeeze your Glutes together and continue pushing the hips high. You want your Glutes to be contracted. You may also feel a stretch in the low back (bonus!).

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Low Crescent Lunge with Pelvic Tilt: From a kneeling position bring your right foot up between your hands to create a right angle with your right knee. Lift the chest up creating a neutral posture. Tuck the pelvis under, tilting your hip bones toward the ceiling. If your Psoas is really tight you will feel a stretch here in the front of the left leg. If you need a little more stretch you can shift some weight into the front foot while maintaining the pelvic tilt. Switch Sides!

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Chocolate for Breakfast (V)(GF)

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1 Banana (the riper the better)
¾ cup peanut or almond butter
¼ cup flax ground
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup cacoa powder (cocoa will work)
Splash of almond milk
Drizzle of agave

Combine in blender

Bake on 400 for 15+ minutes. Keep an eye on them because it may very depending on your oven and cookware

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These are rich yet light and totally satisfying. Enjoy with organic local coffee 🙂

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Peach Crisp (V) (GF)

Peach Crisp (GF)(V)

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Peach seasons is the BEST! It is hard to resist grabbing a dozen at the farmers market. The problem is, they all like to ripen at the same time. I love making a peach crisp because it is such a light dessert that I sometimes find myself having it for breakfast! This recipe is so hard to mess up so feel free to make changes to ingredients based on what you have laying around. I adapted this recipe from the Chalkboard Mag’s Peach Black Berry Crisp.

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For the Peach Filling:

8-10 Medium/Large peaches
½ Cup Almond or Coconut Milk
½ Cup Organic Brown Sugar (you can also use honey, maple syrup or turbinado sugar)
¼ Cup Almond Flour/Meal
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt

For the Crisp Topping:

1 Cup Rolled Oats (Trader Joes GF)
¼ Cup Almonds roughly chopped
½ Cup Almond Flour/Meal
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
½ Cup Coconut Oil

Set your oven to 375 degrees F

Slice all your peaches and set aside in a large bowl.

In a blender combine all the remaining filling ingredients until smooth. Poor the liquid mixture over the peaches and set aside in your refrigerator.

Combine the second list of ingredients in a bowl adding the coconut oil last. Make sure the coconut oil is worked through as evenly as possible. I used my hands to accomplish this.

Grease your tart pan or casserole dish with coconut oil. Slide in your peach filling then top evenly with your crisp topping. Bake for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of your casserole dish(s).

I used two medium sized casserole dishes (one 8×8 and an oval dish of a similar size). If you have a large casserole dish that works great too! I made one to enjoy at home and one for a get together tomorrow evening. It is up to you!

This is so delicious and a easy to make, you must try before fall arrives!

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Garden Veggie Bake

imageThere is nothing more gratifying than growing your own food. As a novice, every edible veggie I pluck makes me giddy. Yesterday was my first full day home after being away for the weekend so I ventured down to the jungle that is my back yard to harvest my goodies. I was yanking zucchini left and right and finally had a yellow squash ready for plucking. My heirloom tomatoes are cranking out in full force. I think I have had at least two a day, sometimes many more. Everything is better when it is fresh.

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So today I laid out my harvested goodies inspired to create something delicious I could eat on for a couple of days. I got to slicing and before I knew it my veggie bake was steaming in front of me.

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What you will need

4 summer squash ( I did 3 Zucchini and 1 Yellow Squash)
6 small heirloom tomatoes or a container or a small container of grape/sun gold tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 Tbsp of olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 Cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil or olive oil.

Slice your squash into small chunks. If using grape, sun gold or cherry tomatoes slice into halves. If you are using a smaller heirloom you can slice into 2-3 pieces. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and chop 5 basil leaves. Throw all your ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Move your mixture into your baking dish and pop into the oven uncovered for 25 minutes.

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When the 20 minutes is up you can add optional mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle over the veggies, cover with tin foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!