East Meets West...
All the comfort of my grandma's homemade meatloaf combined with all of the flavor you would get from some of the best Indian curry dishes that I've had. Sounds about perfect, right???
This dish is pretty straightforward to make, nothing fancy, unless you want to make your own curry powder. If you do make your own curry powder with fresh roasted spices, please let me know how you do it or let me know where I can buy it. Even without your own curry powder this is one of those dishes that you can make and impress the heck out of some friends or family.
Don't take my word for it though. If you like meatloaf but love some ethnic food, this is a great combo. Pair it with one of your favorite veggies. We did some roasted asparagus but anything will work. Can't wait for you to try. After you do, we would for you to come back and let us know what you thought.
We are creatures of habit. When we find something we like we don't change. Brussel sprouts and the way we prepare them is a prime example. Our normal preparation is clean, cut, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and roast in the oven. If we are feeling crazy we might add a little bacon, balsamic or galic. I've learned to not mess with Laura's brussels!
This past weekend we did a Chrismtas dinner with my side of the family and my mom had found some beautiful brussel sprouts. I've tried exposing to my family to brussels before and other than my mom and sister in laws haven't had much luck. So I figured what the heck let's try something different in the hopes they will try it. It got a couple more to try but I don't know if I turned them to be brussel fans.
This recipe was simply inspired by what was in the kitchen. We had brought some fresh pecans home from Texas. We had an orange that we didn't eat on our flight up to Minnesota and I had saved some bacon grease from our breakfast that morning!
The orange definitely livened the dish up quite a bit and pecans added a nice texture contrast, so I would say this is a win and we would love to hear what you think if you make it yourself.
One variation you could certainly try would be to add bacon to the dish. We didn't since we had it for breakfast that morning. But if you wanted to, just chop and cook the bacon in your skillet until the fat is rendered out, remove the bacon and start the brussel sprout process listed below. Then just re-add the bacon pieces the same time as the pecans.
If you are like me and you grew up with the Food Pyramid as your reference to what a healthy diet should look like, then I'm sure you will follow my logic in this post. That pyramid told us to eat a certain number of grains, pastas and cereals. It also mentioned meat and protein, listed dairy as a food group and told you to limit fats. Although if you look closely at the pyramid, fruits and vegetables are separate, but the advice you hear all the time is, "Eat your fruits and veggies." If you follow anyone in the health world, I'm sure you've heard that statement before. If you do a quick google search on the subject you will get results like these:
Experts Recommend 5-9 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Per Day
Then if you click into some other links from what I would consider well educated institutions like WebMD or Harvard School of Public Health you find that they have articles that lump the two groups together as if they are interchangeable.
So why is this bad advice?
Instead of the saying, "Eat your fruits and veggies" it should actually be "Eat your fruits" and "Eat your veggies." The problem comes when you combine the two. Especially when that advice is what we teach our children. If these two food groups are lumped together - like they almost always are - and you have the option to eat sweet fruit versus slightly bitter greens like kale or arugala, which are you going to choose? Which are your children going to choose?
The difference between eating 9 bananas in a day versus 9 cups of broccoli is pretty significant.
By comparing these two, the intent isn't to say that fruit is bad or even worse than vegetables, they're just different. It is easy to see though that if a person were to consistently eat a lot of fruit that they would be consuming a lot more calories and a lot more sugar. It is a "natural" sugar but it is still sugar that your body will either use as energy or store as fat if it isn't needed.
My advice would be that you aim for a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables per day...and preferably non-starchy varieties. So that means things like broccoli, cauliflower, various greens (kale, spinach, chard, romaine), carrots, sprouts, jicama, celery, onion, garlic and so on. I know things like avocado, tomatoes, peppers, and squash are technically fruit but for the sake of getting nutrient dense, low calorie foods we will call them fair game for your 5 servings per day.
As far as the popular advice out there that says you should eat 9 servings of "fruits and vegetables" per day...that total number is fine in my opinion. If you want to eat more that - even better. I would always strive though to keep your veggie to fruit ratio to be 2:1. So take the 5 servings of non-starchy veggies, add in maybe a sweet potato or regular potato and that gives you 6 servings of veggies. Go ahead and eat three servings of fruit to get that that 9 number! Some advice on fruit selection: if your goal is weight loss try to keep 2 of those 3 fruits lower in sugar content, so things like melons, berries, citrus fruit. Your higher sugar fruits would include things like bananas, apples, grapes, dates, figs, and mangoes. Once again if you don't use that sugar you will store that sugar for energy later in the form of fat.
Continue to eat your fruit and continue to eat your veggies but stop lumping them together as one!
Baby Led Weaning - What is it?
I honestly have no idea where I first heard about baby-led weaning...maybe it was one of the natural mom's groups I'm in on facebook...but wherever it was, I'm SO thankful! Baby-led weaning is basically skipping the stage where you spoon feed your baby purées. It's a way to introduce solid foods that allows them to feed themselves. They sit with the family and eat whatever they're having (within reason of course) but the pieces are just cut into easy to grab chunks.
You start baby-led weaning at 6 months of age or whenever your baby is able to sit upright, pick up pieces of food and take them to their mouth and "chew" them. I put chew in quotations because I know there are some babies that don't get teeth until later on but they can still gum things...you would probably just want to give them softer things like steamed veggies, potatoes etc...although their gums are really hard so you can even give them apples and other hard things too.
A few benefits of baby-led weaning from some of the research I did and from asking the opinions of other mama's:
* allows babies to explore taste, texture, color and smell
* encourages independence and confidence
* helps to develop their hand-eye coordination and chewing skills
* makes picky eating and mealtime battles less likely
It actually makes a lot of sense because as their teeth come in, it produces saliva which contains digestive enzymes and this generally happens along the same time line as digestion and intestinal development of necessary enzymes. Eli is exclusively breastfed and gets all the nutrients he needs from that for right now so eating food is really just for fun and learning! "Food before 1 is just for fun" is a quote I heard somewhere and it's stuck with me for some reason. It helps me to remember that I really don't need to be super concerned with making sure he's eating a lot at every single meal.
If you eat mostly whole foods, this should be pretty easy for you. If you don't...maybe it's a good time to make the switch!! You'll get healthy and feel so much better while making sure your baby does too.
I know what you're thinking...won't he choke?? There are definitely things you need to be aware of and safety precautions to take, but nope...we've never actually had a moment where we thought he was going to choke or be in any danger! The video below was as close as we came to "choking" but in everything I read, they said to just sit on your hands and let them figure it out!
Obviously if he's actually choking and not gagging, or blue in the face then YES, you will step in and help...but if it's a little gag or cough, just chill out. They will actually LEARN how to take smaller bites, spit out things they can't swallow and maneuver foods inside their mouths...it's pretty amazing watching Eli do this...so all we have to do is sit back and help as little as needed.
We started him with sweet potatoes, apples (he had about 4 teeth when we started), avocado, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bananas, red peppers, cauliflower, cucumber, watermelon, celery....and have gradually added in eggs and a few pieces of meat lately. We also did puffs on a flight to Cancun...because HELLO...3 1/2 hours on a plane with an 8 month old is just scary. They kept him super occupied and he did great! We also have been giving him veggie straws for little snacks in the car.
You should stay away from things with lots of salt, sugar, fast food, honey, shellfish, shark, marlin and under-cooked eggs...but that's about it!
This kid LOVES food which makes this mama (and his dad too of course) SO HAPPY. I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend baby-led weaning if you have a little one that's about to start eating real food. Seriously. If you've never heard of it, check out this book: Baby Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods. Or google it obviously, there are loads of resources out there. I'm also part of a baby led weaning group on facebook that really helped me get over my fears of him choking and to just GO FOR IT.
I'm happy to answer any questions if you have any...just shoot me a message or leave us a comment!
Lemon and Herb Chicken Breast Medallions with Roasted Sweet Potatoes in a Bourbon Cinnamon Sauce
Do you ever have that night where you've been chasing around and crazy from 4:00-8:00 and finally realize that you haven't given dinner a thought yet? Well that situation is how this dish was born. Chicken medallions is just a fancy way of saying I was too lazy thaw chicken breasts so the only way I was going to get them to cook through completely is to chop them up into smaller pieces. The sweet potatoes were an easy side and so was the steamed broccoli. Don't worry the bourbon sauce doesn't taste like bourbon it actually gives it a bit of sweet flavor.
All together this meal took 30 minutes to make from when I pulled the chicken out of the freezer to when we were sitting at the table. Super easy and packed with some good flavor. Hope you enjoy it!!!
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Superfood is a buzz word in the health world these days. Eight years ago as a single guy if you would have asked me what my definition of superfood was I probably would have told you anything that is super cheap or super easy to prepare. So frozen pizza and hamburger helper would have fallen into that category.
Oh how the times have changed. Now I look for every effort to search out real superfoods and add them to my diet. I recently heard about broccoli sprouts and the amazing health benefits that they have. So I had to do a little research and find out all about them.
Basically a majority of the health benefits that would classify broccoli sprouts as a superfood stem back to one compound in it, sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is an antioxidant that has been shown to eliminate cancer causing free radicals, reduce inflammation, help your heart health and reduce your chance of diabetes.  Not a bad resume for a plant that is only a few days old!
Here's the "super" thing about sprouts versus the broccoli that you buy in the grocery store. With sprouts you are eating the whole plant including the the roots, not just the trimmed up pretty part that you see on grocery store shelves. The average pack of sprouts that you would buy in a grocery store has around 4,000 sprouts, that is 4,000 future heads of broccoli!!! Also with the sprout the you get anywhere from 10-100 times the amount of antioxidants that are in the adult plant if eaten within the first 7 days.  Sulforaphane tends to peak in the broccoli plant around the 3 day mark and begins to decline after that point. So eat them early and eat them often.
Sprouts can easily be added to salads as I did with my salad pictured above. You can also juice them and still get a lot of the benefits from the sulforaphane. We also recommend adding them to your smoothie or shake.
Don't take this post as a reason to avoid regular broccoli because there are still tons of health benefits from the adult plant too. Vitamins like vitamin A and C and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, and magnesium increase as the plant ages so we still encourage you to eat mature broccoli also. We would still consider regular broccoli pretty darn super too!
Let us know how you use your sprouts or if you are planning on trying broccoli sprouts.
No offense to my mother but I decided to try to tweak one of her best recipes to give a little more of a Mediterranean flare. So instead of your traditional Italian lasagna I hopped around the Mediterranean region, from Morocco with tumeric, coriander, and cinnamon to Greece with the kalamata olives. The big change more than the spices that are used in this recipe is that you use eggplant in place of pasta. To be honest I could barely tell the difference using the eggplant versus the noodles.
So if you are anywhere on the gluten sensitivity spectrum this would be a great substitution for you. Feel free to tweak as needed to suit your tastes. If you don't like as much spice cut back on the chili flakes. Laura doesn't like olives so I just added those as a garnish at the end but you are olive eaters I would recommend mixing it directly into the sauce. Hope you enjoy this one, we sure did!
Pesto Crusted Salmon
This super easy salmon recipe was one of the first meals my hubby made for me when we first started dating….so it holds a special place in my heart We usually buy our salmon in bulk from Costco…I know, I know…it’s probably not wild caught. Get over it.
Basically it’s store bought pesto spread over a piece of salmon and baked at 425 for about 20-25 minutes.
The brussel sprouts are roasted at 425 for about 25 minutes as well. So the timing of it all works perfectly! With about 5 minutes left, throw a huge handful of spinach into a shallow sauce pan with some water to steam and put some pine nuts into a small pan to toast. Be careful with these…they’ll burn quickly!
Our absolute favorite way to cook pretty much any veggie is by roasting it. Just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, roast as above and BAM….even the person that hates every type of veggie will like them. Promise!
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.