Lemon Asparagus Soup

I made this soup last week with some leftover asparagus ends and it turned out amazing! It is very flavorful and light. It can also be enjoyed cold if preferred during the summer. I was excited to include kale picked fresh from my garden in this recipe! Try to use local, fresh and organic ingredients when possible to optimize nutrient density and support your local community!

Lemon Asparagus Soup

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Soup

Equipment

  • large pot
  • wooden spoon
  • blender (I used my Vitamix but you can also use an immersion blender)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch asparagus diced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic pealed and smashed
  • 2 Tbsp butter substitute extra virgin olive oil for dairy-free option
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed, if possible
  • 1-2 kale leaves
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • sea salt
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter in large pot on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and let sauté until soft and translucent.
  • In the meantime, cut off the tips of the asparagus to use later as garnish. Chop the ends up into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Once onions are soft, add chopped asparagus, broth, salt and pepper to pot. Let soup come to a boil, then turn down heat to let simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Cook vegetables until tender, about ~20 minutes.
  • **Once fully cooked, blend ingredients together until completely smooth.
  • Transfer soup back to pot. Add lemon juice and chopped kale and gently stir in. If you desire a thicker consistency, allow soup to simmer, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached.
  • Sauté asparagus tips in pan with some butter until tender.
  • Top soup with asparagus tips and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Enjoy!

Notes

**If using a regular blender (as oppose to an immersion blender) let soup cool for 5-10 minutes before blending, as blending hot ingredients can increase the internal pressure in the vessel, causing it to explode (yes, I am speaking from experience). 
Keyword asparagus, soup

Berry Overnight Oats

This is an excellent recipe to prepare the evening prior to a busy morning. I love the convenience of simply grabbing my jar of overnight oats and going! This meal is high in fiber, and contains both healthy fats and protein to ensure you will stay full all morning and avoid blood sugar spikes.

Gluten-free oats: oats are naturally gluten-free, but the facilities and processing methods pose high rates of contamination. Regular oats are fine if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, but if you’re eliminating gluten for whatever reason, be sure to choose gluten-free.
Cinnamon: helps lower blood sugar, loaded with phytonutrients that decrease inflammation
Bee pollen: local pollen to your area can help with seasonal allergies; packed with vitamins and beneficial enzymes
Raw honey: local raw honey can help with seasonal allergies; antiviral, high in antioxidants
Chia seeds: good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber

Berry Overnight Oats

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Course Breakfast
Servings 1 serving

Equipment

  • glass jar

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup gluten free oats
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1 Tbs almond or peanut butter make sure there is no added sugar listed in ingredients list
  • ½ cup strawberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ tsp bee pollen
  • dash cinnamon
  • drizzle honey omit or use stevia if monitoring blood sugar

Instructions
 

  • Add non-dairy milk, nut butter, chia seeds and honey (optional) to a glass container. Mix well, then add oats. Make sure oats are fully submerged in milk.
  • Put in fridge for 6 hours or overnight.
  • In the morning, top with fresh berries, bee pollen and cinnamon!

Notes

This recipe is a total of 37 grams of carbohydrates, making it appropriate for diabetics on a consistent carb diet of 30-35 grams per meal. 
*If you prefer to use frozen berries, add those the night before.

Pre-Workout Fuel for a Happy Gut

What you eat before a workout is just as important as what you eat to recover after. Eating the wrong food could cause gas, cramping, and bloating, and impact your performance. Optimizing your pre-workout meal will help avoid these issues and set you up for success.

Continue reading “Pre-Workout Fuel for a Happy Gut”

Ways to Upgrade Your Breakfast & 6 Healthy Recipes

Walking through the breakfast isle in the store, I can’t help but think, this is what America is serving our youth…breakfast cereals laden with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and highly processed white flour with virtually no nutritional value aside from the vitamins and minerals added back in after the fact. Unfortunately even those are minimally beneficial as fortified vitamins and minerals are rarely added in a form our body can easily digest.

Granola bars, toaster waffles, brown sugar and cinnamon instant oatmeal — these are all in the same category. They are highly processed “franken-foods” (thanks Dr. Mark Hyman) with little to no fiber, healthy fats, or protein. When protein, fat and fiber is removed, foods become less filling, resulting in a higher than desirable intake. This process also increases the speed of digestion, resulting in higher blood glucose levels.

Growing up I would live off these foods for breakfast (though add toaster strudel into the mix). Now, with the obesity rates rising and over 52% of the U.S. adult population having either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, I am here to provide you some better options!

Continue reading “Ways to Upgrade Your Breakfast & 6 Healthy Recipes”

Double Chocolate Muffins

Friends. I discovered something amazing! So, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and my self-compromise is to only eat “sweets” that are somewhat healthy and homemade. I have a particular preference for baked goods like brownies, cupcakes and banana bread, and I have a few select blogs (I’ll share these at the bottom) that are my go-to’s for finding healthy alternatives for these treats. The other day I was browsing through one of said blogs, and I stumbled upon this awesome recipe!

Continue reading “Double Chocolate Muffins”

Time to Up Your Fiber Intake: 4 Benefits You Never Realized

Although fiber is most well-known for keeping your digestive system rolling smooth, the benefits don’t stop there! Additional benefits include:

  • Slows stomach emptying: This suppresses a hormone called ghrelin — a hormones that triggers hunger — resulting in you maintaining a sense of fullness for longer
  • Balances blood sugar: Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate, meaning it slows down the breakdown of foods into glucose. Balanced blood sugar not only means fewer high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) but also fewer lows (hypoglycmeia)
  • Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol: Since fiber is not broken down in the intestine, a specific type of fiber, called soluble fiber (well get more into this) can bind to LDL cholesterol and remove it from the body. In addition, this study found that an intake of 30 grams or more per day may be helpful in increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Promotes healthy gut microbiome: Did you know that fiber is the food for our gut microbiome?! Without not only enough fiber, but a variety of different fiberous foods, our microbes will not have sufficient nutrients to thrive, resulting in “a loss of species reliant on these substrates”. This disruption could lead to a host of diseases. In fact, long-term studies consistently show an inverse relationship between dietary fiber intake and all-cause mortality!
Continue reading “Time to Up Your Fiber Intake: 4 Benefits You Never Realized”

Healthy, Dairy-Free Eggnog! (AKA Banananog)

This time of the year we are bombarded with sugar overload! You can only resist turning down unhealthy sweets for so long (or maybe not at all). Rather than inflicting hyperglycemia, bloating, fatigue and food remorse secondary to 2-3 long weeks of gluttonous feasting, I prefer find healthy alternatives.

This eggnog recipe is a fun twist on the typical sugar loaded version. It has no added sugar and has great nutritional value. Bananas are an excellent source of prebiotics (the food for probiotics), are great for digestion, have high levels of vitamin B6, and contain nutrients to help lower blood pressure.

Coconut is loaded with healthy fats, particularly medium chain triglycerides, which can be used as a quick source of energy and to promote weight loss.

*This recipe serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 bananas
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

*Note: For a creamier recipe, opt for full-fat coconut milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add bananas, coconut milk, and vanilla extract to a blender
  2. Blend until creamy
  3. Pour into 4 serving glasses, and sprinkle nutmeg on top
  4. Enjoy!

*Optional (but more fun): add a splash of rum to make it an adult beverage

Need some inspiration? Chocolate Covered Katie is a healthy dessert blog with alternatives to almost any sweet treat!

What are your favorite healthy desserts? Share below!

Recipe courtesy of the Institute for Transformation Nutrition

3 Warming and Nutritious Beverages

As winter approaches I find myself constantly preparing different types of warming beverages to sip on throughout the day. Waking up to an energizing cup of hot water with lemon and settling down in the evening with a soothing mug of herbal tea has been part of my winter routine for years.

These beverages also have many nutritional properties such as aiding in digestion, lowering inflammation, and providing beneficial antioxidants!  

My Favorite Types of Tea

  • Green tea has been used for medicinal purposes in China and Japan for thousands of years. It has been boasted for its powerful antioxidant content (100x more than vitamin C!), along with its ability to reduce inflammation, lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and boost metabolism. Caffeine content ranges from 30-50 mg per 8oz (compared to 95 mg for coffee). 
  • Tulsi tea is a more bitter type of tea that enhances liver detoxification and can help prevent cancer by inducing cell death in precancerous and cancerous cells. It is most well know for its natural adaptogenic properties, or its ability to help the body adapt to stress, making it a perfect beverage during the stressful winter holidays!
  • Hibiscus tea has been shown to decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 7.58 mmHg and 3.53 mmHg, respectively (according to a 2015 review of 5 studies). 

*I prefer to buy organic, loose-leaf tea – it is cleaner, cheaper, and has less packaging so it’s better for the environment!

Hot Water With Lemon

The benefits of water with lemon should not be underestimated. Drinking a warm cup first thing in the morning on an empty stomach has been part of my routine for years! Below is a list of some of its wonderful benefits.

  • It can help improve digestion by increasing production of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach, which further helps to increase important digestive enzymes. 
  • An increase in acid and digestive enzymes can lead to more regular bowel movements (at least 1 per day is optimal).  
  • It can be a natural remedy for acid reflux. This may sound counter-intuitive, but many people with heartburn are actually under-producing acid! When you increase your digestive secretions you may notice a decrease in your symptoms.
  • Aids in detoxification of of anything potentially harmful or toxic (such as pesticides, alcohol, caffeine, prescription drugs, and chemicals from personal care products) by increasing the livers detoxification processes.  

*Be sure to drink a cup of plain water after to rinse your teeth of the acidity

Healthy Hot Cocoa

An obvious fan favorite during the winter. However, with all the sweets floating around this time of year, sometimes I want that amazing chocolaty flavor without all the added sugar. Many commercial hot cocoa mixes also contain artificial flavors, caramel coloring, artificial sweeteners and trans fat. This recipe eliminates those toxic ingredients, replacing them with healthy fats and antioxidants.

Recipe

  • 1 cup boiling water or warmed nut milk
  • 1 heaped Tbs cacao powder
  • 1-2 tsp MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil or (my favorite) coconut butter
  • 1/2 tsp monk fruit extract or natural sweetener of choice (I prefer local honey)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 tsp Ashwaganda
  • Optional: 1 tsp Lion’s Mane mushroom
  • Blend until frothy and enjoy!

What are your favorite healthy winter beverages? Share below!

Healthy Office Snacks

As a dietitian working in a hospital setting, I am constantly exposed to treats and sweets. Whether it’s the weekly Tuesday doughnuts brought by volunteers, or the cannolis and cake at a coworker’s baby shower, they are everywhere…just staring at me.

From what I have heard, this is the case for many people in their workplace. Despite not buying junk food or sweets, and eating healthy at home 98% of the time, temptations at the workplace always seem to get in the way. So what can we do about it? Plan ahead!

In an effort to avoid noming on sweets or afternoon trips to the cafeteria when I’m craving a snack or feeling extra hungry, I have started to keep a few simple, strategic items at my desk. Let me share:

  1. Tea bags or instant coffee: Hot tea or coffee is a terrific way to stave off cravings and maintain focus. One brand of instant coffee I particularly like is Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee (no, it doesn’t taste like mushrooms) as it has half the amount of caffeine, but it does wonders for focus without the jitters! I like to leave a reusable coffee cup at my desk so I always have one on hand.
  2. Prunes: Yes, I keep prunes at my desk. They are super filling and perfect when you are craving something sweet!
  3. Peanut or almond butter: When I am running late in the morning, I will grab a banana or apple to go. Having some type of nut butter at my desk makes it more convenient, and adding the healthy fats and protein will keep you full much longer than eating the fruit alone.
  4. Skinny Pop popcorn (or similar brand): This popcorn does not contain any artificial ingredients, is non-GMO, and high in fiber.
  5. Trail mix: Most store bough trail mix is high in added sugar, expensive, and may contain undesirable additives. For this reason, I have started to make my own by adding a variety of nuts, gogi berries (or some type of dried fruit containing no added sugar), a sprinkle of cacao powder, and perhaps a drizzle of honey — mix it together and vwa-la! I keep mine in a mason jar at my desk.
  6. 70% or Higher Dark Chocolate: For the days those doughnuts are staring at you.

What healthy snacks do you keep at your desk? Share below!

Homemade Basil Pesto

Although the ingredients found in store-bought pesto tend to be fairly clean, nothing beats a homemade batch of the fresh stuff! I love being able to customize my pesto recipe as far as the types of nuts and seasonings I use. Basil is also an herb that is very easy to grow (even I haven’t killed mine) so I love making large batches when the basil is ready for harvest and freezing it for later use. This year we have multiple plants that have really flourished, so I have been using it in my salads, omelets and stir-frys as well.

Health Benefits of Basil

  1. It contains powerful antioxidants to fight free radical damage. Two particular antioxidants it contains, orientin and viceninare, help protect white blood cells responsible for immune function, as well as cellular structures where DNA is stored.
  2. Studies have demonstrated its ability to prevent and fight cancer by increasing antioxidant activity, positively changing gene expression, and inducing cancer cell death.
  3. It contains antibacterial properties effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
  4. Has adaptogenic properties to help individuals adapt to stress
  5. Reduces inflammation

I have found that pesto is a fairly versatile food. I love it on Banza chickpea pasta, spaghetti squash, sautéed vegetables, or even on my eggs!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packed cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup raw almonds (I sometimes use a combination of nuts, such as almonds + pine nuts, depending on what’s available)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs Romano cheese (optional)
  • Sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add basil, garlic and cheese (if using) to a blender.
  2. Turn on blender and slowly add olive oil until it is your desired consistency.
  3. Add salt and any other additional items (ex. pepper, lemon squeeze) to taste.

*Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 9 months

Basil plant from my garden

Freezing Pesto

To freeze pesto, put a couple tablespoons in each compartment of an ice cube tray. When they are frozen, dump them into a larger container with a lid for easy storage in the freezer.

How do you like to use pesto? Share below!