A few weeks ago I went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cave in Avon, NJ. It’s a Paleo restaurant featuring fresh, organic, and high quality ingredients that makes every dish a standout. Owner and head cook Doug Stehle creates dishes such as grilled “Tuna Salad Tacos” and one of my personal favorites, “The Bison, the Duck, and the Egg” burger.
On this particular day, he decided to delight our tastebuds with fall flavors, creating his Thai Pumpkin Soup. We ordered a bowl and practically licked it clean. Ever since that day, I’ve been craving that soup, trying to figure out how I could recreate such a flavorful and healthy dish at home.
Well kids… I figured it out! And since I love my readers, I’m sharing it with you.
Mind you, I didn’t use pumpkin (I was too lazy to go get one at the store) and used butternut squash instead. But feel free to substitute fresh pumpkin in! I know I’m going to this week.
As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was a hit. I even told my husband before he slurped a big spoonful, “You may want to divorce me, just so you can date me, propose to me, and marry me again.” Fair warning, you may receive an increased amount of attention. So don your “Kiss the Cook” apron and get cooking!
Knock Your Socks Off Fall Soup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch of fresh garlic, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley, thai basil, or cilantro
First, get yourself a large dutch oven on the stove around medium heat. Add in the coconut oil and onions. Cook the onions until translucent, then add the butternut squash, carrots, curry powder, chili flakes, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to get all of the spices blooming in the coconut oil and hugging the butternut squash, onions, and carrots. Cook for around 5-7 minutes. You want to get them semi soft, but the may point is to get as much flavour in them as possible at this moment.
Next up, add the coconut milk and water. You can also throw in a few sprigs of parsley. Let the mixture simmer for about one hour then transfer to a blender until smooth and creamy. Pour back into the pot and keep on simmer until ready to serve. You can serve with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper and salt, and even a drizzle of chipolte olive oil.
This soup is so good, you’ll want to be sure to make leftovers. So feel free to double up on the recipe. I served it with a warm wild rice noodle and kale salad with soy sauce.
The other night I was craving chinese food, badly. Well, I could have gone for some Thai as well. Their range of flavors in dishes always hits a warm and fuzzy spot in my stomach.
I was 5 minutes away from ordering up some Vegetable Pad Thai and Moo Shu Chicken when I decided, hey I can make my own dish and feel great about eating a big bowl of it! So, I grabbed the large broccoli head I bought from one of my favorite farmer’s on Saturday’s market out of the fridge with some other staple ingredients I always have and made a super nutritious dish that hit that same fuzzy spot without all of the added junk! The perfect takeout makeover!
Vegetable Stir Fry with Crispy Tofu and Peanuts Serves 4
1-2 packages Organic Udon Noodles (I love Hakubaku)
1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
1 hot pepper thinly sliced (or red hot chili flakes)
2 tablespoons organic miso (Try Eden Organic!)
5-7 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon umami paste (Taste #5 is my new go to addition to any meal)
8 ounces firm organic tofu
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/8 cup toasted peanuts
3-4 tablespoons of organic coconut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
First put some water on to boil for the udon noodles. Then in another pan, put a tablespoon of coconut oil and add the spices (ginger,cumin, garlic), then once fragrant add the onions, carrots, broccoli, and hot pepper. Sear the vegetables at medium heat. Once partially cooked, add the miso and mix in with a 1/2 cup of water. You want the vegetables to cook through and steaming them helps.
Meanwhile in another skillet, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and the bite size firm tofu bites. Sear on all sides. Add the nutritional yeast and toss to coat. Add the peanuts in the same skillet and toast for a few minutes (don’t let it burn!)
Add the cooked udon noodles (they only take a few minutes so cooking them at the last minute is key) to the skillet with all the vegetables in it. Add the umami paste and soy sauce. Toss to coat. Add the tofu on top.
You can even eat it out of a little white box with chopsticks!
Starting a routine of health can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to drinking enough water, getting your portion of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly. Let’s face it, most of us are gung-ho for the first week and then by the second week we’ve already snuck in a few late night sessions in the freezer and have hit the snooze button instead of taking a run outside.
After the third or fourth time we think to ourselves “well I’m already off the wagon, I might as well just stay off the wagon.” Then we fall back into our slumps and it isn’t until six months later that we’re thinking about starting that new diet that everyone is talking about, just to repeat the cycle all over again with absolutely no results!
Well, I’m here to say – let’s break that cycle and stick with it!
Oscar Health Insurance who provides health insurance to those living in New Jersey and New York, recently asked me for my tips on keeping up with my health and fitness objectives, what changes I make to my daily routine, and really, how the heck do I stay on track? Well, I’ll tell you one thing before I give you my secrets, no one is perfect, not me, not you (sorry to burst your bubble), not anyone! But, the beauty in all this imperfection is that we can accept ourselves, blunders and all, no matter what. The point of adopting a healthy routine is to live a healthy life.
So, let’s get started:
1. Write down WHY you want to be healthy.What’s the reason you want to start living a healthy lifestyle? Is it because you want to run a marathon one day? Is it because you want to be able to run after your grandkids? Or is it because you want to wake up in the morning and be ready to start your day? Whatever the reason is, write it down! It can be multiple reasons. For me, it’s all about how I feel – and the fact that I want to keep up with my high energy pup! And when you are tempted to forget the healthy lifestyle, you can go back to this list and remember why you’re going to pass on the french fries and order a plate of vegetables instead.
2. Being healthy is easy, it’s just a pain to @ss sometimes. The first week, the first month, the first couple of months, may seem like your world is slowly attempting to suffocate you. However, its your food addictions that are talking to you. Your body, I promise, is thanking you but may need to shed some toxins in the meantime. Once your body is calibrated, you’ll be craving your morning juice or smoothie packed full of vitamins and antioxidants instead of that fast food egg muffin. I promise, things get easier and soon your body will be expecting vegetables instead of preservatives!
3. Stock your pantry, fridge, freezer. Make it easy for you to succeed!Make a list before you go grocery shopping and figure out what you need to make healthy meals and snacks that week then prepare them in advance so that some sliced up carrots and celery with a hummus dip is ready to go when you look in the fridge, rather than seeing whole carrots and heading towards the cabinet to open up a bag of chips. If you eat out for lunch a lot, make a list of healthy restaurants to go to or start making your own lunch (you’ll not only save a few pounds on your waistline, but you’ll also save some money in your wallet!) Be your biggest supporter by setting yourself up to be healthy!
4. Life is so much more fun with a partner on your side, so find someone who will call your bluff when you skip a workout! Find a workout buddy. Sometimes all we need is someone who can help motivate us and vice versa.If you don’t know anyone who could be your workout buddy, try getting a health coach or trainer once a week to get you motivated again and again. Once we start moving, our bodies tend to like to keep on moving. As that commercial says, “A body in motion, stays in motion.” And the chances of it staying in motion instead of stalling goes up with a motivational friend by your side!
5. Allow yourself to occasional treats.Yes, you can have that brownie, cookie, cake, ice cream, whatever your craving is, HOWEVER, that portion should be small and it should be controlled. This may be more difficult when you first start your healthy lifestyle or if you have a sugar addiction, which most people in America do. Being healthy doesn’t mean you eat spinach all day long, but it does mean that you keep your body running in optimal condition. Some people can have a glass of wine and a morsel of chocolate and that’s it, while others have to drink the whole bottle and then they eat the whole package of Oreos, know what type of person you are so that you’re prepared. But, in the end banning foods will only make you want them more.
And finally, never beat yourself up if you fall of the wagon. Just realize you did eat three portions of pasta and drank way too much wine, but then pass on dessert. You can always hop off and hop on. As you continue to learn how amazing you feel, you’ll stay “on” longer and have fewer “off” moments.
Skin. It’s our largest organ. We do pay attention to it, but most of the time it’s just because we’re interested in “looking young” or getting rid of that blemish or blackheads (my problem). Even though we tend to take it for granted or only focus on the exterior, we really should be taking better care of it, especially when it’s truly an indicator of how healthy we are on the inside. Remember that saying:
You are what you eat – on the inside and outside!
Well, it’s true! What we put in our bodies shows up somewhere and most of the time our skin is the first to react, whether we notice it or not. Before we get into how to help out our skin by putting in nutrient packed foods (and water!), let’s go over what our skin actually is.
The Ins and Outs of Your Skin
Your skin is made up of three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. Your epidermis is your outer later, the one you see. It’s made up of cells that use the tough protein called keratin (the same protein that gives you strong and healthy hair and nails). As your cells mature, they grow outward until finally they reach the epidermis where they eventually die and shed. (Did you know that your skin sheds 50,000 cells every minute? Yea. Crazy!)
It takes up to five weeks for new skin cells to emerge at the surface. The great thing about new cells and cell regeneration, it gives you a fresh look. Your pores are cleaner, lines are less visible, and breakouts aren’t as frequent.
As my amazing facialist (if you’re in NJ check her out) tells me every time I see her: Exfoliate! Exfoliate! Exfoliate! Help your skin regenerate by “gently” (yes that word is very important because you don’t want broken capillaries!) exfoliating every single day – your entire body!
The next layer is your dermis, which gives your organs the strength and elasticity that they need from collagen and elastin. Our sweat glands are also here, which helps keep our internal body temperature down.
Then finally, we have our baselayer, the subcutis, which includes a layer of fat that is used as fuel for the body in case of a shortage.
These three parts make up an average of 8 lbs and 22 square feet of us. It helps insulate and shield our vital organs and even helps us manufacture Vitamin D to keep our bones strong. It does so much for us, so why shouldn’t we do everything we can to help it out!
When Your Skin is Healthy, You’re Healthy (Most Likely)
If you’ve ever been on a health kick and then all of a sudden you fall off the wagon for a few weeks, start eating less fruits and vegetables and more convenience foods while skipping your evening run in favor of your sofa, you can attest to how your skin is the first to show the effects. I know I tend to get a few pimples and when I’m not drinking enough water, my skin cries out for moisturizer. And once I see that, I know that my insides aren’t too happy with me either. Eating a nutritious diet not only helps keep your body running smoothly and efficiently, but it also helps your skin performing at its best.
Everything you put into your body matters to your skin as much as your waistline, whether it’s the wrinkle-fighting antioxidants in those colorful fruits and vegetables or the healthy fats in fish, olive oil, and nuts that keep your skin hydrated – what you eat is reflected in the mirror. Ok, so I’ve told you enough (hopefully) how important it is to eat a nutritious diet in order to keep your skin at its best. But, what about specifics? Let’s get you into action!
5 Tips for Glowing Skin from the Inside, Out
1. Omega-3s are your skin’s best friend. Adding fatty fish such as salmon to your diet helps keep your skin-cell membranes strong and elastic.
2. Antioxidants aren’t just for your heart, they’re also great at blocking the chemical reactions that lead to sun damage including wrinkles, brown spots, and age spots, so be sure to add some olive oil, tomatoes, and red wine (in moderation!) to your meals. For example, Vitamin C found in oranges and broccoli boost your skin’s immunity.
3. Help your skin retain water by incorporating healthy fats into your diet such as flaxseeds, nuts, and olive oil (are you getting the hint that you should invest in some olive oil yet?). Hydrated skin = supple skin.
4. Healthy fats also aid in antioxidant and vitamin absorption, allowing your cell membranes to strengthen, which ultimately leads to a dewier face.
5. Minimize your “white” intake which includes white bread, white pasta, and white sugar. Yes, they taste good, but they’re empty in calories and nutrients. Swap in some whole grain pasta and bread instead and just cut out the sugar! The less “white” stuff you eat the lower the stress hormone cortisol goes and the less you break out.
6. Finally, if you’re going to do anything I say, just drink lots of water! Water is the key to everything. When you’re dehydrated, your skin is the first to show it. So drink up!
To get you on the right track, try out the below body scrub and skin brightening smoothie. Send me your glowing pics on Facebook!
Simple Skin Scrub
1 cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
10 drops Tea Tree Oil
Pour the salt into a clean, sterilized container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the coconut oil and screw the lid on tightly. Leave in your shower for up to 6 months in an airtight container and enjoy brighter skin!
Skin Brightening Smoothie
1 cup Almond Milk (preferably made with soaked organic almonds)
1/2 cup Pumpkin puree (rich in beta-carotene and lutein which maintain an even skin tone)
1/2 cup Organic Greek Yogurt (full fat)
1 teaspoon raw honey (preferably from a local beekeeper)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
Blend everything together and enjoy your “fresh face!”
To work with me, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to help put your freshest face forward!
Now that the leaves are slowly changing, the air is getting cooler, and sun is setting earlier, it’s time to break out my favorite autumn smoothie recipe. It’s warming, satisfying and even provides some kick to fight off those allergies and cold symptoms.
Be sure to sue organic apples in your smoothie. According to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, apples have been found to contain the most pesticide residue (a total of 47 different types of pesticide residues) of conventional fruits and vegetables. And since eating the skin of the apple is a great source of fiber, but also where many of the pesticide residue resides, paying a little bit more for organic is essential to stay healthy.
Warming Apple Smoothie
1 Organic Apple
1/4 cup organic greek yogurt (I prefer full fat)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon organic peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
1 cup almond milk
Blend all the ingredients together in your favorite mixer and you’re set! It’s the perfect way to use some of those apples that are ripe for the picking this time of year!