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Plantain Chips with Guacamole Dip

This recipe is one of my old all time favorites. I actually have not made these in awhile, but I stumbled upon some old pictures I took when I first made them and it has inspired me to share it with you and most likely make them here in the near future. I apologize for the poor pictures ahead of time. I did not know how to stage pictures and make them look pretty when I first made these. I still am learning.

I made these when Luke and I did Paleo for the first time for an entire month. I wanted something that resembled a chip to go with our Paleo bunless mushroom burgers. These definitely hit the spot and were the perfect appetizer/side to our burgers.

A Little Nutrition Info on Plantains

Plantains are a part of the banana family. They look almost identical to sweet bananas on the outside, but their taste is distinctly different. Unlike the sweet banana, the plantain needs to be cooked to taste good. If you eat a raw plantain it will taste more like a starchy raw potato. You will not get sick if you eat it, but it will have a bitter taste. The more bore black the peel is, the sweeter it will be as this is a sign of it’s ripeness. Typically plantains are either fried or baked. In this recipe, they are fried.

Because the plantain has less moisture content, it also has less sugar but still holds all the other wonderful benefits of a sweet banana such as being high in potassium and fiber. Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes in the body, helping to regulate heart function as well as fluid balance. These are both important in regulating blood pressure. In one landmark study researchers tracked more than 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine the effects of diet on blood pressure. Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods had a substantially reduced risk of stroke. (Information found in The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno).

So here’s to eating lots of plantains and bananas! And even though Avocado is not the main feature of today’s post, I think it’s worth mentioning that Avocado’s actually have more potassium than a banana. So, when you combine these two in one meal you definitely will be getting plenty of potassium.

So now for the good stuff. The actual recipe.

 

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Step 1: Place all your plantains on a cutting board. Peel them and then slice them evenly into 1/4 inch thick slices.

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Step 2: Once you sliced all your plantains evenly, pour some coconut oil into a frying pan and heat it up at medium-high heat. It is important that you use coconut oil and not a cheaper or less stable oil when frying. Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils to use at high heat. If you use oils that are less stable like olive oil or canola oils, the heat will oxidize them and create free radicals which are toxic to your body.  Once your oil is nice and hot, place the plantain slices in. You may have to use two pans or just do two batches. Cook them evenly on both sides (about 2-3 minutes or until they are slightly browned on the sides).

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Step 3: Once they are cooked evenly on both sides, place them on a plate with a paper towel to let them cool. In the meantime you can mash up some fresh avocado and spice it up to your liking. I typically add fresh cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice and fresh crushed garlic. Once the plantains are cooled, dip them in your avocado dip and eat like a chip!

This recipe is so easy and so delicious. I am practically drooling right now thinking about it. Like, and share to spread the love of healthy clean and delicious foods! Healthy eating does not have to be boring people!


Specific Nutrient Requirements for Athletes

You don’t have to play a specific sport to be considered an athlete. If you want to get technical, an athlete is described as a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.  So, if you work out regularly doing any of these things at high intensity, this post is for you!

With the ever increasing popularity of Cross Fit athletes around the world, this subject is definitely of importance for those that want to stay healthy, always improving, and not reach a burn out.

Exercise, especially intense exercise, causes an increased need for micro-nutrients due to how much they are being used to help the body both perform and recover.  If you are an athlete, and you do not properly fuel your body with adequate amounts of micro-nutrients from both whole foods and supplements you run the risk of nutrient deficiencies.  Regular intensive exercise may raise the micro-nutrient requirements by up to twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance.

So why are micro-nutrients so important anyway??

Good question.

During endurance exercise micro-nutrients help with the following:

  • Energy production
  • Hemoglobin synthesis (aka. the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen)
  • Bone and connective tissue health
  • Immune function
  • Antioxidant protection
  • Tissue repair and maintenance

Below I will list some of the chief micro-nutrients that are essential to maintaining a healthy active body, but before I do that I want to clarify that added vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are not particularly effective in the face of inadequate nutrition. These are only bonuses on top of a healthy whole foods based lifestyle. For those of you who consider yourselves athletes, you will most likely need these added booster nutrients. But like I said, do not assume that simply adding these supplements to your poor diet will help you out all that much. That would be like ordering a fast food burger with fries and then having a salad on the side. What’s the point???

If you are struggling to filter through the information out there these days on what to eat and what not to eat, please contact me here to discuss how I can help you. My passion is to teach people how to take control of their health once and for all through whole foods nutrition and supportive lifestyle habits. I do that through monthly nutrition coaching. Head over here to read more on my services.

So, what micro-nutrients are most important for athletes?

  • B complex, including biotin: The B complex is good for fatigue by assisting in the conversion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to energy, B-12 specifically. Folate and B-12 are helpful in hemoglobin synthesis and tissue repair and maintenance.
  • Vitamins A, C, D, E, and K: all of these play an important role in immune function as well as bone and connective tissue health
  • Calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc: female athletes are at risk of being deficient in iron, calcium, and zinc. Iron deficiency is one of the most prevalent deficiencies in athletes in general. Zinc deficiency is also very common and plays a huge role in immune function as well. Vegetarian athletes are at risk of being deficient in B12, D, riboflavin, iron, calcium, and zinc. Plant based iron is not absorbed and assimilated by the body as well as animal based iron. Magnesium is beneficial in helping muscles relax and reducing inflammation. Many people are deficient in this important mineral.
  • Phyto-nutrients (carotenoids and flavonoids): These are naturally found in abundance in organic fruits and vegetables and are loaded with free radical fighting antioxidants.

To make sure you are getting adequate amounts of micro-nutrients you need to fuel both your workout and recovery as an athlete, I recommend taking a high quality whole foods multiple vitamin/mineral supplement along with the following booster foods.

  1. 1 tsp green powder, 1-2 times per day
  2. 1-2 Tbs nutritional yeast for extra B vitamins
  3. 1 serving of protein powder (whey, hemp, rice, etc.) before any type of competition or added to a post workout smoothie or snack to increase your protein intake. Good quality brands I recommend: The True Whey, SFH, and Reserveage Organics Grass-Fed Whey

Here are the links to a few of my favorite high-quality whole foods multiple vitamin/mineral supplements.

And here is a picture of one of my favorite moments as an athlete.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Michael Middleton

I got my first ever muscle-up in a competition setting. I came in dead last in that workout because I could not move on to the next exercise until I did a muscle up. There was nothing I could do except try my hardest to get one. I looked like a crazy person swinging around those bars trying with everything I had left in me to get up there. Eventually after ripped hands and many failed attempts I got up there. I don’t even care that I was last..I accomplished something I never thought I would be able to do. On top of that, please look at the faces in the picture around me..their faces say it all. This competition wasn’t about who won, it was about community and getting out there and giving it all you had no matter what place you came in.

Here’s to staying healthy, strong, active, and properly fueled!! Please contact me if you would like more one on one guidance on any of this!

 

 

 

 


Sweet and Salty Summer Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Summertime is the perfect time of year to try new salads. They are light, refreshing and offer an endless amount of flavor combinations. This salad is one of my personal favorites! It is the perfect combination of sweet and salty that I love. You could make it as a side salad to a main meal or make it your meal by adding baked chicken on top. That is what I did when I made this for myself.

The spiced pecans that you add on top do contain sugar, so if you are trying to eliminate sugar from your diet this might not be the best recipe for you. You can always leave the pecans out, but I would have to argue that it would not taste nearly as good. The pecans are what make this salad. If you use the amount of pecans the recipe calls for per serving which is about 1/4 cup or a small handful of pecans, you’re sugar intake for this meal will only be about 1 tsp when it is all divided up. That equals out to only 4 grams of sugar. Not too bad.

I also think this salad is really pretty when it’s all put together. What do you think?

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Here is what you will need:

  • 1 5 oz. bag mixed baby greens
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (look for no sugar added or dehydrate your own)
  • 1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • Homemade Vinaigrette (See Recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup spiced pecans (See recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (you can also substitute blue cheese)
  • Baked Chicken if desired for more protein

Here is how you put it all together:

  1. Place the mixed baby greens in a large bowl
  2. Peel the pears and cut into thin slices, removing the core and any seeds
  3. Add the pear slices, cranberries and sliced red onion to the bowl with the greens. Toss with enough of the Homemade Vinaigrette to lightly coat everything in the bowl
  4. Sprinkle the Spiced Pecans and the goat cheese over the top of the tossed salad
  5. Serve immediately

Homemade Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small blender, add in the mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk with a fork to combine just slightly.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend until completely combined and thickened
  3. Adjust the seasonings to taste
  4. Cover until ready to use
  5. You can also just whisk all of the ingredients together by hand if you do not have a blender.

Spiced Pecans

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups pecans (1 lb.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • olive or coconut oil
  • salt
  1. In a small bow, add salt, cinnamon, cayenne and cumin and mix to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over high heat, heat 6 cups water to a boil. Add pecans and let them cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under running hot water.
  3. Pour the drained nuts into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat the nuts completely with the sugar
  4. Meanwhile, in a deep-sided skillet or saucepan, heat about 1 inch of oil over medium high heat.
  5. Once the oil is hot, carefully add about half of the pecans to the oil. Fry them for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let the pecans get too browned because they will continue to cook after they are taken out of the oil. You don’t want them to burn!
  6. With a spoon, remove pecans from the oil and place into a strainer bowl to drain the oil. Sprinkle the pecans with 1/2 of the salt-spice mixture and keep tossing the pecans so that they don’t stick together as they cool. Transfer the pecans to a waxed paper to cool completely. Fry the remaining pecans and then sprinkle them with the other half of the salt-spice mixture.
  7. Store the nuts in a container until ready to top your salad!


Chocolate Coconut Pancakes with Chocolate Coconut Cream Sauce

If you are a chocolate fan, this post is for you. I felt like I was eating chocolate cake for breakfast when I first made these, it was amazing. My husband felt the same.

It’s pretty typical that Saturday mornings consist of Luke and I sleeping in and then me whipping up a new version of pancakes for us to try with all natural clean ingredients. This past Saturday morning I mainly wanted to try out this coconut cream sauce I saw on Instagram via #planksloveandguacamole. I saw it while I was in Florida and couldn’t wait to make it when I got back home. So the pancakes I chose to make were of course chocolate to go with it, DUH! You can never have enough chocolate.

Currently hanging on my fridge is a magnet my husband bought me a while back that says “Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of chocolate.” I believe this to be very true. The chocolate flavors you will taste in this recipe are guilt free, dairy free, soy free, and gluten free. So eat your heart out! Though they are good for you, I would encourage you to make these for special occasions  like Saturday mornings or when friends or family are over and not on a regular basis. If your goal is to eat for health and overcome past sugar addictions, recreating your favorite sweets and other baked goods all the time will still feed those cravings. Stick to whole foods for the most part and you will be fine.

To top it off I threw some fresh raspberries over my pancake stack. Talk about a perfect combination in your mouth. Here they are.

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Here is the recipe for so you can now go make some for yourself! You won’t regret it.

Ingredients:

For the Pancakes:

4 eggs
1 full banana
2 heaping tablespoons of coconut flour
2 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp baking powder

For the Sauce:

1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Instructions:

For the Pancakes:

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl well
Pour about 1/8-1/4 cup of batter per pancake into frying pan and cook each side evenly (about 5 minutes. Flip when you see bubbles forming in the pancake)

For the Sauce:

In a medium size pot, pour all your sauce ingredients in and bring to a boil
Once at a boil, bring heat back down to low and constantly stir for about 25-30 minutes until the sauce thickens
If you want a thinner sauce, you do not have to stir for this long and can just pour it over your pancakes like a syrup.

 


Red, White, and Blue Pops

4th of July is Friday! That is why I have decided to post a new recipe for you to have a clean, healthy treat to bring to any 4th of July festivities you are going to. These literally are the easiest things I have ever made. Not even kidding. A monkey could make these. Sometimes I wish I had a pet monkey.

Here is what you will need:

  1.  Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
  2.  Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
  3.  Coconut Water
  4. Popsicle Molds (or you could just use Dixie cups and a popsicle stick) Popsicle Molds are super cheap if you don’t have any. I bought mine for $3.50 at our local Kroger.
  5. A freezer to put them in

To make them:

  • Place 3-4 of blueberries and raspberries each in your popsicle molds
  • Pour coconut water over the fruit to fill the popsicle mold
  • stick the popsicle handle all the way in and place them in the freezer for about 2-3 hours
  • THAT IS IT!! NOW EAT THEM!!

These are a perfect, refreshing treat that anyone will love! If you aren’t doing this for 4th of July you can mix and match and try all different kinds of fruit to your liking. You can also try blending the fruit with the coconut water before and then pouring them into the popsicle molds to let the sweetness of the juices come out a little more. The possibilities are endless here. The best part is, they are all natural ingredients with no added sugar. Skip the snow cone stand this summer and make your own healthy treats to reduce your sugar intake.

These would also make a great post-workout snack. Coconut water is full of electrolytes. Check out all these other wonderful health benefits of coconut water.

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So here’s to a great 4th of July with friends, family, good food, fireworks, and healthy popsicles!! God bless the USA.

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