Posts tagged ‘veggies’

March 3, 2014

Sweet Nékter

interesting juice pic

Just what I needed–beautiful purple juice (The Cure)!

Hi, Friends! It’s Brooke here, and I want to share with you my latest addiction: Nékter Juice Bar! I sure do love my caffeine, but I know I drink too much of it. So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to nourish myself enough to step away (gradually) from my beloved stimulant. I love how happy, fresh, and alive I feel after drinking a fresh-pressed juice, so I started looking for juice bars near my neighborhood. Whole Foods makes amazing juices, but they are pricier than I’d like. And if I had more sense and time management skills, I would plan ahead and juice more at home. But when I’m on the move and I need some TLC, it’s Nékter to the rescue!Healthy History

nekter

Nékter Juice Bar founders, Steve and Alexis Schulze, opened their first store in 2010 with the simple idea of providing a neighborhood juice bar where everyone could enjoy delicious, healthy fruit and veggie juices at reasonable prices. Turns out people were starving for stellar nutrition on the go—Nékter now has 26 stores and counting! Thankfully, the only store outside of California just happens to be down the street from me in Dallas—yippee! One of my client friends even surprised me with a Nékter gift card out of the blue. What a beautiful gift of health—pure plant love.

Recently, as I prepared to get out of my car and grab a juice, I watched customers come and go from the store and I was struck by Nékter’s resemblance to a hummingbird feeder, with creatures zipping in, alighting briefly for nourishing sweet nectar (!), then buzzing away. Somehow, things just feel right when life imitates nature.

Smoothies, Cleanses, and Other Treats

The Cure and spicy kale chips--nutritious and delicious!

The Cure and spicy kale chips–nutritious and delicious!

In addition to the fresh juices, Nékter offers raw vegan smoothies as well as bowls of blended fruit with bananas, granola, and other tasty bits. If you need a good crunch to offset the smooth juices, they offer nuts, trail mix, and my favorite—spicy kale chips! For an easy way to detoxify your life and kick start your path to better nutrition, Nékter offers 1-, 2-, 3-, or 5-day juice cleanses with a handy cooler thrown in. Be sure and check out the Snider Plaza location (near SMU): http://www.nekterjuicebar.com/ You’ll be SO happy you did. 🙂

Homemade Delight

My favorite juice is The Cure, and I love getting it when I’m beset by allergies or changing weather, which is often. It’s a gorgeous deep purple-red color, it’s bursting with antioxidants, and it’s delicious! Here’s my take on this tasty treat:

The Cure

(Makes 16 oz. of juice)

  • 1-1½ small beets, raw and scrubbed
  • ½ small head of broccoli, with stem
  • 1 large handful curly parsley
  • 2-3 kale leaves
  • 1 red apple, small
  • 2 handfuls red grapes
  • 4 celery stalks, with leaves

Cut produce to fit the feeder tube of your juicer. Add pieces of fruit and veggies to your juicer, collecting the juice in a medium-to-large measuring cup or pitcher. Once finished juicing, stir and enjoy!

Here’s to health, love, and juicing,

Brooke

grow through life

 

January 27, 2014

In a Hurry? Drink Up!

Come on, let's go!

Come on, let’s go!

Hey peeps! It’s Brooke, here. Is it hard for you to squeeze in your recommended 3-5 daily servings of vegetables? Are you waiting until lunch (or even worse, dinner!) before laying eyes on your first piece of produce? Oh no, this will NOT do! You deserve better than this, and so do I. But sometimes life’s a bit of a struggle, isn’t it? I barely sit still enough to eat, or at least eat as well as I want to. And I often eat my food in shifts (e.g., scrambled eggs at the counter before getting ready, then my oatmeal and my protein shake packed in a cooler to take with me to work). It’s not the greatest system, but it gets me through most mornings. Lately, however, I’ve been trying to take better care of my husband and myself. I’ve loved concocting fresh juice to start our days feeling happy and light.

If you’re a crazy person on the go like me, you’re probably pretty tight with your juicer and blender already. If not, now’s the time to make friends with these kitchen helpers, because they will save you from yourself 😉 Here are a few of my favorite recipes for you to try. They are super easy and delicious!

 

Freshly-Pressed Juice, aka Liquid Gold

Morning Garden Delight

Morning Garden Delight

Morning Garden Delight

Serves 2

  • 1 big handful baby spinach, washed
  • 1-4 romaine leaves, washed
  • Several sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and ends trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks, washed
  • 1 apple, organic
  • 1 pear, organic

Cut produce, if needed, to fit your juicer’s feeder tube. Feed veggies and fruit into the juicer, and capture the yummy goodness that comes out of the spout. Stir fresh juice, and pour into glasses. Garnish with mint sprig if you like (and I always like ;).

 

Sweet Carrots

Sweet Carrots

Sweet Carrots (or Happiness in a Glass)

Serves 2

  • 4 carrots, scrubbed and ends trimmed
  • 2 apples (Braeburn or Red Delicious are awesome)

Cut produce, if needed, to fit your juicer’s feeder tube. Feed the apples and carrots into the juicer, and collect the juice. Be sure and stir the juice to blend the flavors, and pour into glasses. Pure heaven!!!

 

Blend, Baby, Blend

Berry Spinach Smoothie

Berry Spinach Smoothie

Berry Spinach Smoothie

Serves 2, or 1 if you hog it for yourself like I did! (makes 20 oz.)

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach, washed
  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 4 strawberries, organic
  • 4 raspberries, organic
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I chose Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Classic Blend, but any protein will do)
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of cayenne pepper, optional
  • Ice, for desired consistency

Blend spinach and almond milk together until spinach has been broken down. Then add berries, protein powder, almond butter, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Last, add ice and blend until the smoothie is desired consistency. Talk about a delicious, nutritious powerhouse of a smoothie!

 

Gorgeous and green, just the way I like!

Gorgeous and green, just the way I like!

Drink up, you beautiful thing!

Brooke

June 19, 2013

That’s a Wrap!

“Hello, my name is Lacey, and I don’t make time to cook.” Whew! What a load off my shoulders to say that out loud. I don’t enjoy cooking, so there’s always something else to do. I love baking around the holidays, especially for other people, but I will go months without using the oven. My female ancestors are shaking a finger at me from heaven. My mother and grandmother just got a neck twitch of embarrassment over my culinary skills (or lack there of.) Even my little sister, who loves to create in the kitchen, reminded me on the phone this week, “but Lacey you don’t cook.” She said this in response to my excitement over my latest food creation. 

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The magnificent wrap has been a saving grace this year in my hurried world. Put aside the internal debate in your mind about whether or not making wraps is actually cooking. Cooking, preparing, and creating. Whatever your verb preference, bottom line is that I found something I could make that my entire family enjoys and my guests appreciate. The glorious wrap can be your answer to an afternoon tea party, cocktail reception, kid’s birthday party, last-minute “the game is on” gathering, a boat outing on the lake, or a romantic picnic. Wraps can be packaged to-go for a meal or snack in between errands, meetings, and kids’ athletic events or to share.

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With two teenagers, a husband, and extended family to entertain this summer, I always get a bit anxious in response to, “what are we going to eat?” Recently, my husband and I were having coffee one Saturday morning when he looked outside and said, “Let’s go to the boat!” The children and I just stared at him… the pups stared at us… everyone to your battle stations! Kids scatter to grab the necessities: swimwear, sunglasses, and chargers; Husband goes straight to the garage on cooler duty; I head to the kitchen to prepare boat fuel (food) for everyone. Heaven forbid we’re stranded on the lake with no nourishment or hydration after all of the treading water and cannon ball jumps.

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We just got out of the water to take a break… back to treading water shortly…

I almost here angels singing as I evaluate our collection of wraps and fillers. It’s been a family affair to try and cycle toward an entirely non-GMO pantry, and I’m proud to say we are almost there. I’m even prouder of our family commitment to health and wellness, so when we can agree on a food decisions, my insides giggle. Some days, success means we eat very clean and discuss benefits of each meal, and other days it means a smaller portion of ice cream, less dressing on a salad, or including a side salad on pizza night. I’m proud of the children and my husband for taking steps in the right direction and making conscious decisions toward better health amid so many social and consumer pressures.

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The art of making a wrap is beautiful. It’s flexible and simple—sort of like my approach to my fitness and wellness routine. Make it work for you! Choose your wrap (I’ve even used collard green leaves to wrap instead of a grain-based product), spread, protein, vegetable/fruit fillers, and topping—seeds, nuts, or even salsa. Roll it up. Grill it, or leave fresh and cool. I like to cut mine in half, so I eat it slower and so I can continue my conversation in between smaller bites as I eat.  

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I venture to say, one could live off of wraps. I’ve made egg wraps for breakfast, fish wraps for lunch, grilled veggie burger wraps for dinner, almond and apple butter with banana wraps (topped with cinnamon) for a movie night treat, and veggie wraps, turkey wraps, and hummus wraps for on-the-go meals. I even once prepared a salad to enjoy on our patio when plans changed and I needed to wrap up my salad and hit the road. Always remain flexible (and have a sense of humor.) There’s a wrap for everyone’s tastes because you’re in charge of what goes into it. Be creative and substitute if your dietary needs or goals require another ingredient. I don’t mind a bit… Now, about some boat drink recipes… next time!

My favorite power snack–almond butter, banana, and raisin wrap (sprinkled with cinnamon!)

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Enjoy! –Lacey

 

 

 

May 27, 2013

Green Energy—Yum!

green scene

Happy Memorial Day, Friends! It’s Brooke here with a few questions for you: Do ever have those days (or weeks) that you feel tired and sluggish, even after getting a good night’s sleep? Do you wish you had more pep in your step after lunch?  No, the solution’s not caffeine, although it does make my world go ‘round. Answer: Time to load up on the veggies and fruit! There are lots of ways to add green goodness to your life—you can grab some produce and munch away, create some amazing salads, throw some greens into your cooked dishes, or juice that precious goodness into a glass. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy the bounty of the earth is to make green smoothies.

The USDA’s recommended daily amount varies for each person according to caloric intake, metabolism, and physiology, but a good standard for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day would be at the very least 2-3 servings of vegetables (more if possible!) and about 1.5-2 servings of fruit per day. The average American gets only 1.5-3 servings of veggies and fruit—total!—a day.

pretty veggies

When you realize all of the amazing ways that fruits and vegetables can help you live a healthier, longer, more vibrant life, you will run—not walk—to your nearest grocery store or farmer’s market. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and energy from the sun. Studies have repeatedly shown that a healthy diet low in saturated fat, high in whole grains, lean proteins, veggies, and fruit reduces the risk of most chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so on. Consuming the abundant vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and fruit helps improve our mood; boost energy; enhance immune function; maintain efficient digestion; impart radiant skin and hair; and reduce risk of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases. This is great news!

I love green smoothies for several reasons:

1) They appeal to my lazy side—with just a little prep work, I can throw everything into my blender and within 30 seconds, I have a pitcher full of happiness that supplies about 3 or 4 glasses throughout the day.

2) They are fun to drink—as I live my fit life, salads make up a good portion of my diet. But sometimes I get tired of dealing with all the fixings (my salads are always full of crunchy, tasty veggies, nuts, and fruit) and coming up with new ideas all the time. Smoothies are a nice change of pace.

3) They make me feel good—this can also be said of dark, green leafy salads as well as freshly juiced produce. I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but when I first cleaned up my eating, this fresh energy from the abundance of raw vegetables was a new experience. I noticed this after eating a lunch of quinoa, black beans, avocado, and then a big salad (spinach, chard, arugula, etc. plus celery, carrots, green onions, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and almonds). I didn’t get the charge of caffeinated energy I knew so well, but my insides felt so light and clean, not heavy and bogged down.

heart veggies distressed

Digestion is the most energy-consuming function that the body carries out. That’s why you are so sleepy after stuffing yourself on a large meal—your body uses much of its available fuel to process what you just ate. Let me put it this way: meat can take 2-3 days to completely pass through your system (yikes!), a regular full meal can take 6-8 hours to digest, and most fruits and vegetables are out of your system in 2-3 hours. By consuming green salads or (especially) smoothies and juices, you are able to bypass much of this effort because the produce is mechanically broken down into smaller, more bioavailable parts. Almost immediately, your body begins to utilize the vitamins and minerals to repair and renew your body. This is why you feel so much better and full of energy within a day or two of adding dark green salads, juices, and smoothies to your menu.

cute vegetables

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. The fun part about smoothies is that the sky’s the limit on what ingredients you decide to use. A good rule of thumb when you are starting out is 1:1—1 green vegetable to 1 fruit. Ideally, you want to use more veggies than fruit. Green vegetables are virtually dripping with nutrients that you need for a radiant glow and optimum health. Also, fruit does contain sugar, even though it’s natural—so just be mindful of those luscious gems, especially if you are tightening up your sexy body. You’ll see, however, in my recipe below that I used more fruits than vegetables, mainly because I was out of more vegetables and my peaches were very ripe and had to go!

Sweet Greens

Note: Use organic produce when possible.

 smoothie ingredients_corrected

  • 2 c. spinach, raw
  • 1.5 c. water
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 peaches, small
  • 1 pear
  • mint, small handful
  • 1 banana (optional)

Add spinach and water to the blender and blend on medium speed. Add celery in handfuls as it is incorporated with the spinach and water, increasing speed to high. Add peaches, pear, mint, and banana. Add some ice to add thickness if you like. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Makes 4-5 10-oz. glasses

Here’s to your brighter, healthier day—drink up!

Brooke

green smoothie_corrected

Lovely and tasty!

 

February 19, 2013

Snack Time!

hummus and veggies

Hi, there! It’s Brooke here. Let’s talk about something fun . . . snacks! Now, before we go too far, let’s demystify something. Food and nutrition can be loaded topics—some people have a great relationship with food, while others may think of eating as a confusing, guilt-ridden, boring, or necessary evil. Then we throw in snacks, and craziness breaks out! Snacks are often given a bad rap, mainly because many people choose munchies that are WAAAAY too full of calories, sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Think of those tasty treats in vending machines and gas stations (not to mention your local grocery store, Aisle 17). We’ve all been there. I’m not proud of how much I love the taste of a kosher dill potato chip, but hey, I’m human. I avoid the siren song of this devilish dill delight because I know better—and my body deserves better, as does yours. Snacks will save your rear, in more ways than one.

apple hearts

Healthy gals and guys know one of the most important ways to reach their fitness goals is to eat 5-6 small meals a day, including snacks. Your body is an amazing machine, and it needs to burn quality fuel regularly throughout the day to keep you going strong. If you start thinking of food as fuel instead of something you have to deal with just to survive, your world will be rocked and you’ll become your body’s most powerful ally. Think of your nutrition schedule like this:

Meal 1: Breakfast

Meal 2: Mid-morning snack

Meal 3: Lunch

Meal 4: Mid-afternoon snack (or pre-workout snack)

Meal 5: Dinner (or post-workout snack)

Meal 6: Snack (or dinner)

Notice how you can incorporate pre- and post-workout snacks into your daily plan. You can also shift this structure to the morning if you like your workouts early. To keep your fire burning bright, eat every 2.5-3 hours. For your snacks, try to shoot for at least 10 grams of protein and 25-35 grams of carbohydrates by including 1 or 2 complex carbs (whole grains, veggies, most fruits, beans, brown rice, or oatmeal) and a little healthy fat (nuts, seeds, almond butter, low-fat dairy, or avocado). High-quality protein, carbs, and fats are going to keep you feeling satisfied and give you energy.

Nutritious Nibbles

  • 1 c. raspberries with ½ c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 small apple with 1 Tbsp almond or peanut butter
  • ½ c. cottage cheese with ½ c. mixed berries
  • 1 or 2 eggs (hard-boiled) with 2 whole-grain flatbreads
  • 2 Tbsp almond or peanut butter spread on 2-4 celery sticks
  • 6 carrot sticks with 1 low-fat mozzarella string cheese
  • 4 natural whole-wheat honey graham crackers with 10 red or green grapes
  • 1 c. low-fat milk (or almond milk) with 1 scoop chocolate (or other flavor) protein powder (can be whey or plant-based protein powder), along with a banana
  • Quick Basic Smoothie: 1 c. low-fat milk (or almond milk) with ¼ c. frozen or fresh berries with ½ fresh or frozen banana (Hint: Frozen fruit makes the smoothie thick and icy!)
  • 3 c. air-popped (or unsalted and unbuttered!) popcorn drizzled with 2 tsp flaxseed oil, 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, and dash of cayenne pepper, along with 1 apple
  • 6-10 veggie pieces: celery, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, or yellow squash dipped in 2 Tbsp hummus or low-fat vinaigrette dressing
  • Homemade Trail Mix: 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 1 Tbsp sunflower kernels or pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp unsalted nuts, and a pinch of unsweetened coconut flakes

If you need a basic snack, an apple and some nuts or maybe even a protein shake and a banana are great options. However, if you are headed to the gym, be sure to grab something rich in slow-burning carbs and lean protein (like oatmeal and scrambled egg whites) to fuel your efforts. Here’s one of my favorite recipes that I love to fix before working out. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Yum!

Yum!

Banana Blueberry Power Snack

  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • ½ banana
  • Small handful of blueberries
  • ½-1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Small drizzle of honey

Toast both halves of the English muffin. Spread 1 Tbsp almond butter on each half of the muffin. Slice the banana into small slices, and then arrange the slices flat on each half. Place the blueberries around and in between banana slices (the berries tend to roll off—trust me!). Sprinkle ground flaxseed across each muffin half, and then drizzle each half with a little honey. Yum!!

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Keep fueling that beautiful body of yours, and have a super week!

~Brooke

December 15, 2012

Veggie Christmas Tree

Nice veggie tree online

Hi, there, HH Family and Friends! It’s Brooke here. Are you looking for a show-stopping appetizer for your holiday parties or for Christmas dinner? I have a great solution for you . . . a Veggie Christmas Tree! Now, for those of you who are craft-challenged like I am, just take a deep breath and relax. I worried about making this little masterpiece all week long, and when I finally got to it, this project was surprisingly easy and fun. This is also a great way to involve your kiddos in your kitchen festivities. Here is the link that I got my instructions from: http://www.squidoo.com/veggie-christmas-tree. I had too many veggies (is that possible?), so I adjusted the amount of broccoli, etc. from the recipe online.

What You Need

-For this project, you will need some craft items and plenty of fresh veggies.
-I used 8″x3″ green Styrofoam cone, for a just over 12″ tall finished tree, so the shopping list will work for this size tree.
-If you want a smaller or larger tree, just adjust your groceries accordingly.

Craft Items:
– Styrofoam cone – approx. 8”x3″
– small disposable veggie tray (you will be hot gluing the tree to the tray, so plastic, disposable works best BUT you could forego the glue and just set the tree on a nice dish, too)
– hot glue gun & glue sticks (optional)
– flat toothpicks
– round wooden skewers (optional)
– Linzer tart cookie cutter (for tiny star shape cutter)
– wire cutter or strong scissor (to cut skewers)

Grocery List:
– 2 large bunches Broccoli
– 1 large Broccoliflower
– 1 large Cauliflower
– 1+ Red Bell Pepper (depending if you would like to serve extra on the side)
– 1+ Yellow Bell Pepper (depending if you would like to serve extra on the side)
– 1 package cherry tomatoes
– 1 jar cocktail onions
– 1 bag of baby carrots

STEP 1 – Hot glue your Styrofoam cone to your plastic tray (optional). This makes a stable base and makes transportation very easy.STEP 2 – Cut your Broccoli, Cauliflower and broccoliflower into dipping sized pieces. Sizes should vary but shouldn’t be too large or too small.

STEP 3 – Attach your broccoli and broccoliflower to the cone with ROUND toothpicks, grouped in clusters, with larger pieces at the bottom and graduating up to the top. Don’t worry if there are small holes in your design, they will be filled in later with carrots and other decorations.

When you get to the top, and toothpicks are not long enough, cut skewers with a wire cutter or strong scissor to pick your veggies into place until you achieve a perfect tree shape.

STEP 4 – Cut 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper into dipping size strips. Tuck the ends of those strips into the tree, in a spiral, starting at the top and spiraling down to the bottom. Tuck a carrot in next to them to hold them in if needed. No toothpicks needed, here.

STEP 5 – Poke carrot sticks intermittently in holes between the broccoli and broccoliflower florets. No toothpicks needed.

STEP 6 – Use FLAT toothpicks to secure cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions to the tree. Poke small side all the way through onion or tomato. Press tomato or onion into tree.

STEP 7 – Cut out stars with small linzer tart cookie cutter from 1 yellow pepper. Save 1 large piece to hand cut 1 larger star for top, or make a paper stencil or use a larger cookie cutter if you’d like for large star.

Secure stars with toothpicks poked and secured right in broccoli pieces.

STEP 8 – Fill tray base with cauliflower.

STEP 9 – Refrigerate until serving. I spritzed it with water and covered with Press ‘N Seal, and it still looked completely fresh the next day!

Dips to Go With the Tree

You can also offer a selection of healthy dips for your guests to enjoy as they dismantle the tree. Hummus makes a wonderful, protein-rich dip for raw veggies. And if you think hummus tastes only slightly more interesting than wallpaper paste, you need to follow me! Here are two of my favorites:

Baby Zach’s Spicy Smoked BBQ Hummus—I mark the start of my love affair with hummus the day I tasted this. All of Baby Zach’s hummus blends are creative, vegan (and gluten-free), and delicious. You will be SO glad you tried it. Here’s the link: http://babyzachs.com/products/

Eat Well Enjoy Life’s Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus (with Sunflower Seeds and Apricots)—If you like your food tricked up and awesome tasting, you have to try this gem. Eat Well Enjoy Life has a number of great hummus blends, which are also vegan and gluten-free. They will change your opinion of healthy snacking, I promise! Here’s the link: http://eatwell-enjoylife.com/our-hummus/

The Finished Product

My version of veggie tree

Well, mine didn’t turn out quite as lovely as the one shown at the beginning, but no matter. I still had fun putting it together, and you will too. Good luck and healthy holidays to you!

Cheers,

Brooke