White Bean & Kale Italian Soup

One of my favorite ways to eat kale is in soups. It’s a hearty enough green that it keeps it’s form when cooked and in broth and it add a deep rich green color to your meal. This simple bean and vegetable stew it’s great when you just want to warm up, or are getting sick, or just want a low-fat high-fiber meal. I like to make this recipe this time of year because of it being flu season and the extra nutrition boost it can give. Check out some the benefits of white beans & kale.

Benefits of White Beans
  • High Fiber
  • High in Plant-Based Protein
  • Helps Healthy Weight Loss
  • Regulates Blood Sugar
  • High in Magnesium for Heart Health, Bone Health, Nerve Health, etc.
Benefits of Kale
  • Cruciferous Vegetable – Known to Fight Cancer
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Helps to Lower Bad Cholesterol
  • High in Lutein for Healthy Vision

No doubt this antioxidant rich, high fiber, delicious stew is one to keep in your recipe box for emergencies during flu season!

 

White Bean and Kale Italian Soup

  • Servings: 4 servings as meal
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Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine*
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth, depending on how much broth you’d like
  • 1 15oz. can cannelloni beans, drained or 3 cups cooked cannelloni beans
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

*I use a cup of white wine to give it an added layer of flavor. When wine is cooked the alcohol and any sulfites, that many can be allergic to, are cooked off. If you don’t want to put wine in the soup, add another cup of vegetable broth or until it is as thick or thin as you’d like it to be.

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot on low heat, add onion, if you’d like to add a small amount of oil you can or keep the heat on low to allow the onion to excrete all it’s juices. Once the onion is cooking and starting to be translucent, add in the garlic. Cook until fragrant – about 1 minute. Add in carrots and celery and allow to cook for a few minutes until carrots start to get soft. About 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add in the chopped kale, dry white wine (optional), and vegetable broth. Allow to simmer and the kale to wilt. 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the cooked beans, sage, thyme, and parsley. Let simmer for a few minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Nutritional Information

284 calories | 3.6 g total fat | 1.9 g polyunsaturated fat | 0.6 g monounsaturated fat | 0.5 g saturated | 0 g trans fats | 0 mg cholesterol | 1235 mg sodium (depending on broth) | 43 g carbohydrates | 15 g fiber | 6.6 g total sugar | 11.7 g protein | 502% Vitamin A | 88% Vitamin C | 433% Vitamin K | 18% Calcium | 20% Iron

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Butter Bean Gravy

Dairy free white gravy that is lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber? Yes please! This recipe came about when I first had homemade butter beans. It’s a type of lima bean. The name butter beans, describes their texture and taste. The juice from the cooked beans reminded me of gravy because of it’s flavor and texture. After that I was determined to make a “cream” gravy using butter beans. So how good are lima beans for you anyway?

Butter Beans / Lima Beans
  • High in Protein
  • High in Fiber
  • High in Folate
    • Needed for healthy division of cells – think of new growth: replacing old cells with new, and fetus development in pregnant women
  • High in B Vitamins
    • Energy Metabolism
  • High in Minerals
    • Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Comparison

Let’s also take a look at the balance of nutrients in the Butter Bean Gravy compared to the cream gravy made with whole milk or made with whipping cream.

 

Why waste calories on unneeded fat when you can have a creamy delicious white gravy that is more balanced? Well the previous post talked about how comfort foods can be beneficial. Not necessarily healthy or nutritious, but beneficial for certain times. Depending on what and why you are making the gravy, try out this recipe!

Butter Bean Gravy

  • Servings: 2 tablespoons, 36 total in recipe
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Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1 15 oz. can butter beans, with liquid
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I use Kite Hill as a plant based version)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions

  1. Blend the butter beans, the liquid from the can, and the yogurt together until smooth.
  2. Warm oil in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Add flour and whisk until it becomes a paste. Add in bean mixture the whisk together until heated through and it starts to thicken. Should take just a few minutes.
  3. Add in garlic and onion powder to season. Add salt and pepper if desired and serve!

Nutritional Information

21.6 calories | 0.8 g total fat | 0.1 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fats | 0.3 mg cholesterol | 34 mg sodium | 2.3 g carbohydrates | 0.5 g dietary fiber | 0.2 g sugar | 1.3 g protein

Macro Sources

43% Carbohydrates | 33% Fat | 24% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion

N/A

Apple, Pear & Cranberry Cobbler

Fall and winter scream for baked desserts. Having some of my favorites like pumpkin pie, apple dumplings, cinnamon rolls, and so much more, are always on the list once the weather gets cooler, but you don’t always have to have a dessert that is all that bad for you. I was shocked, and so was the rest of my family, about how delicious and rich this was. After a serving of this we were all satisfied and full. Let’s first talk about the main ingredients in most desserts – sugar, flour, and fat – and see how this dessert, although still being calorie dense, is changed for the healthier.

The Sweetener

Sugar is sugar, is sugar is sugar. Juice, maple syrup, honey, agave, turbinado sugar, date sugar, refined sugar – it’s sugar. However, using unrefined sources for a sweetener like maple syrup, honey, and orange juice still adds sugar but is not from highly processed sources.

With that in mind, in this dessert some of the sugar is from the broken down apples and pears. They are full of natural sugar and by keeping the peels on, you also keep the fiber in the dessert. When cooking there will be a loss of nutrients, but fiber pretty much stays the same which is good when we are talking about a dessert with sugar. Fiber allows the sugar to be absorbed at a slower rate so having something sweet with fiber (like fruit naturally has) does help your body absorb sugar at a slower pace and has more time to use it for energy instead of immediately being dosed with it and storing right away because of the overload. Not to mention the blood sugar spike.

The Flour

This recipe doesn’t use any flour. I only uses oats to create a crunchy topping. So if you are gluten free, make sure to use gluten-free oats. Using oats you can keep it whole food and nothing has been processed and stripped of anything. Plus to fact that we still keep that fiber in there as well.

The Fat

As you may know there are the “good” fats and the “bad” fats. An easy rule of thumb to tell the difference is if the fat/oil is solid at room temperature.

  • For instance butter and shortening is soft, but is still solid at room temperature. This means it is saturated fat or “bad” fat. This is fat that is easily stored and is known to increase LDL cholesterol.
  • Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature like olive oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil. These oils are known as the “good” fats. They are easily used in the body and can have some nutritional value because of Omega fatty acids. For instance, olive oil, has been known to decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol when replacing unsaturated fats.

In this recipe I use either canola or vegetable oil in the oat mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn and also creates a crunchy top. You’ll find that all in all, for a baked dessert, there is not a lot of oil added.

 

Apple Pear Cranberry Cobbler
  • Unprocessed source of sugar & is partly from the broken down cooked fruit
  • Oats only, no flour to keep it whole food
  • Unsaturated “good” fat, no “bad” fats

This is still a dessert and calorie dense, but it’s so worth it! Plus the added facts of it being a whole food dessert, easy, low-sodium, and the fat is good unsaturated fats. Enjoy!

Apple, Pear, & Cranberry Cobbler

  • Servings: 12 servings, about 1 cup each
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Ingredients

  • 3 apples, chopped, I use honey crisp apples
  • 2 pears, chopped
  • 12 oz. bag cranberries
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • OAT CRISP
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashion oats *See note
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop your apples and pears and add to a 9×13 baking pan. No need to prepare the pan with oil or butter before adding anything, leave it dry. Whisk together the corn starch or arrowroot with the water in a small bowl until starch is dissolved. Add to the starch mixture the maple syrup, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk together. Pour over fruit and gently mix to coat with the wet mixture.
  3. In a medium bowl add oats, honey, canola oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir together. Once mixed together, pour lightly over top of the fruit and spread around to cover the top.
  4. Bake on 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until oats start to brown and the fruit is bubbling on the sides. Your house will smell wonderful!
  5. Let cool for about 5 minutes after taking it out of the oven and serve!

If you are gluten free, make sure to buy gluten free oats. I was not aware of this until a friend had told me about how oats can easily be cross-contaminated with other things that include gluten. Make sure to find gluten-free oats.

Nutritional Information

About 1 cup serving

405 calories | 11.9 g fat | 1.2 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 7.5 mg sodium | 70 g carbohydrates | 7 g fiber | 37 g sugar | 4.5 g protein

Macro Sources

69% Carbohydrates | 26% Fat | 5% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 1.2 Fruit
  • 1.8 Grain

Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Ricotta

Since winter is just around the corner, it’s good to have filling and satisfying recipes at hand that give our immune system a nutrient boost. When most think of pumpkin it’s usually pumpkin pie or a sugary creamy latte they think of first. But pumpkin is good for many things. Since it doesn’t have a strong taste it’s good to add in baking recipes instead of oil to cut down on the fat and calories for instance. Or it’s good to use as a creamy sauce without it being heavy in dairy or fat. This recipe does just that. There are some great benefits to pumpkin as well.

Pureed Pumpkin
  • High in Fiber, 1 cup canned pumpkin has 28% of your daily value of fiber
  • High in Vitamin A, 1 cup canned pumpkin contains 762% Vitamin A, for your eye health
  • Good source of Iron, to oxygenate cells
  • Good Source of Magnesium for your brain, heart, and muscles
  • Good source of Vitamin E for skin, brain, and heart health
  • Low in Sodium / High in Potassium which makes it beneficial for blood pressure control
Cooked Spinach

When foods are cooked it changes the chemistry of them. With spinach there are some added benefits when it’s raw, and other benefits when it’s cooked.

  • Absorb higher levels of Vitamin A
  • Good Source of Vitamin E
  • Good Source of Protein
  • Good Source of Zinc for your immune health
  • Good Source of Calcium for bone health
  • Good Source of Iron for blood health

So this recipe will not only keep your weight down with the amount of fiber, but also help your immune system with the high amounts of vitamin A & E which has powerful antioxidants, and zinc. Great way to use pumpkin and get the health benefits without adding the fat and sugar!

Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Ricotta

  • Servings: 6 Servings
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Ingredients

  • small amount of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, optional (use more broth if not using)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 large fresh sage leave, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 16 oz. bag whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked
  • 5 oz. bag of baby spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup Almond Ricotta, or Regular Ricotta
  • dash of nutmeg, optional

Directions

  1. In a large skillet heat a small amount of oil at medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add in the white wine, vegetable broth, yogurt, pumpkin puree, sage, salt, and pepper, and stir to mix together. Bring to a boil. Add the penne pasta and stir to make sure the noodles don’t stick. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the penne is cooked. Stir every few minutes.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, take off heat, or put on very low. Add in the spinach one handful at a time and stir until wilted. Add the drained cannellini beans and the almond ricotta, or regular ricotta. Stir together and serve.
  4. Dust with a small amount of nutmeg and enjoy!

Nutritional Information

367 calories | 10.8 g total fat | 2.5 g polyunsaturated | 5.9 g monounsaturated | 1.3 g saturated | 0 g trans fats | 0-3 mg (depending on ricotta) | 1157 mg sodium | 52 g carbohydrates | 11 g fiber | 7 g total sugar | 17 g protein | 583% Vitamin A | 18% Vitamin C | 142% Vitamin K | 50% Magnesium | 30% Copper | 26% Iron

Green Beans & Cranberries

Anytime I see fresh green beans at the store I have to grab a bag. There will be a few more green bean recipes to come, but this was my first recipe I did with fresh green beans. They add a juicy crunch that I love. Then there’s cranberries. Fresh cranberries are great for vitamin C, but the dried, not so much. It’s more added as a flavoring and not a major part of the dish. You can use fresh cranberries if they are available but it will be more tart. So, if you are looking for a sweeter lighter side and with some health benefits, try this one.

Green Beans
  • High in fiber
  • High in Vitamin K for bone health
  • High in antioxidants good for your immune system
  • High in antioxidants good for your eye health

Green Beans and Cranberries

  • Servings: 6 side servings
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • Season with lemon zest & slivered almonds if desired

Directions

  1. Add water to a medium pot 2/3 full, and bring to boil.
  2. Add in green beans and boil for 5 minutes. Once they are somewhat soft but still have some crisp to them, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
  3. Add olive oil to large skillet and heat on medium-high heat. Add green beans, lemon juice, cranberries, and black pepper. Saute for about 5-10 minutes. With the lemon juice, the cranberries will get soft and start to let off more of their flavor as the lemon juice breaks it down.
  4. Once green beans are desired tenderness, turn off heat and serve.
  5. Season with lemon zest or slivered almonds if desired.

Nutritional Information

85 calories | 2.6 g total fat | 0.4 g saturated fat | 0.4 g polyunsaturated fat | 1.7 g monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 9.6 mg sodium | 12.4 g carbohydrates | 4.5 g fiber | 5.4 g sugar | 2.9 g protein

Macros

58% Carbohydrates | 28% Fat | 14% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.2 Fruit
  • 2.6 Vegetables

Chloe Coscarelli’s Golden Gravy

I had to share with you one of my favorite gravy recipes from Chloe Coscarelli. She is a vegan chef and I have used her first recipe book, Chloe’s Kitchen, front to back. This is her Golden Gravy recipe and I wanted to share it with you for a few reasons. Yes, this is a plant-based recipe for gravy but that’s not why I’m sharing it. Compared to your average beef/turkey broth version with flour and butter, this version gives some nutritional value without sacrificing any flavor.

Benefits
  • Less sodium
  • Less fat
  • High in B Vitamins
  • High in Fiber
  • Gives us 30% of the daily Omega 3s

Something I’ve learned – taking pictures of gravy is not as easy as it looks!

Chloe Coscarelli's Golden Gravy

  • Servings: 1/2 cup, about 6 servings
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion until soft. Add nutritional yeast and flour, and stir for about 1 minute. Add water, soy sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is very thick. Transfer gravy to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information

117 calories | 5 g fat | 1.3 g polyunsaturated fat | 3 g monounsaturated fat | <0.5 g saturated fat | 0 trans fats | 0 mg cholesterol | 614 mg sodium | 13.5 g carbohydrates | 1.6 g fiber | 1.3 g sugar | 5 g protein | >100% folate, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3)

Soy Free Version

Because of my allergy to soy, instead of soy sauce I’ve substituted Worcestershire sauce instead. Chef Chloe also has a Soy-Free Soy Sauce that I’ve made before to use in this recipe.

Chloe Coscarelli's Soy-Free Soy Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Pinch ground ginger

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and allow to lightly boil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool then store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Time Savers for a Healthy Lifestyle

Being mindful of nutritious meals, keeping a routine for exercise, and then also making sure you have time for relaxation can be stressful, which then becomes something unhealthy. I wanted to share with you a few things I do to keep on track so that my time is best spent in other ways and with my family.

1 | Meal Prep

I will be completely honest with you – I hated the idea of meal prep. The thought of having to plan more (even though I am a planner) and cook more (although I love cooking) was not appealling to me at all! My first “meal prep” experience with lunch was literally a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrot sticks and either apple slices or clementines. I usually just focus my meal prepping on lunch since our breakfasts are usually the same – yogurt, oatmeal, or a smoothie, and dinners I usually will be home to cook. But here are some things I’ve learned and why it truly is beneficial.

Photo by Nielsen Ramon on Unsplash
Don’t Have to Think About Lunch

After that first week, I realized throughout my busy week, I liked not having to think a wink about lunch. Where was I going to eat? What I was going to eat? Would it be nutritious or would I regret it? It was done and already decided and it wouldn’t be something I would regret.

Not As Tempted

I also realized that because I knew what I was going to be eating, I didn’t think about other foods whether nutritious or not, so I stayed on point with my goals. I set aside the time to prepare salads this week, so I’m having salad for lunch – or whatever it might be. No other internal conversations with myself, it’s already decided.

Keep it Simple

If you haven’t done it yet, try it out with an easy lunch like peanut butter sandwiches and fruits and veggies you just throw in a bag. And now they have those “snack packs” with chopped veggies and dip, or carrot sticks and almonds already prepared in the produce department to grab and throw in your lunch bag that it can be really simple.

Meal prep is suppose to be a time saver, so don’t get hung up on a complicated recipe.

Here is an easy hot lunch to get you started:

  • Frozen Turkey Meatballs
  • Brown Rice
  • Frozen Broccoli Florets
  • Jar of Marinara Sauce
  1. Make the rice. Add salt and pepper or other seasonings you might like.
  2. Add 1/2-1 cup of rice to your lunch container
  3. Add in 3-4 frozen meatballs
  4. Add 1/2-1 cup frozen broccoli
  5. Put Marinara in a small sauce container or sealed baggie if you want to keep it separate, otherwise drizzle on top.

When you are ready to heat up your lunch, the meatballs and frozen broccoli will cook and will have enough water to steam in the container. The only cook time is cooking the rice. The only clean up is the pot for the rice. DONE!

2 | Meal Plan

To go along with meal prepping, have a meal plan ready. I usually try to figure something out a month in advance. It will move and change throughout the month, but I try to be ahead of the game. The first month was hard so I just planned easy dinners and lunch preps to see how it went. Things like tomato soup and sandwiches, veggie burgers and salad, etc. Nothing too complicated. Here are some tips and benefits I’ve found.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
Save the Headache

Once you figure out what you are going to be making, and if you are like me, figure it out a month in advance, the headache of: What are we cooking? Do we have it? What are we ordering this week for groceries? It’s already taken care of. You do it once and month, and everything is already decided. Instead of thinking about it every night, you think about it maybe a few times a month.

Keep on Track

Meal plans help to keep you on track with healthy goals. For me, instead of thinking you’ll just pick something up for dinner, I already knew that morning what I was going to be cooking, I already have the ingredients, I just have to get home and make it. That way you can keep on board with whatever you might be watching and it won’t be as easy to get off track.

Grocery Shopping Becomes Easier

I used to go to the store every day or every other day. When I lived right down the street from my favorite grocery stores, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but now living and working about 20-30 minutes away is a big deal. So having my grocery list set for the week, although I might not be able to get everything that one time, has helped a lot. Knowing what I’ll be cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner makes creating my grocery list simple and quick.

Plus using a recipe database like Pepperplate makes it that much easier too. Getting all your recipes in one place, and then being able to click on it to add to your grocery list, it already populates the list. It also has a calendar you can create your meal plan on along with having a usable app on your phone. I’ve only ever used Pepperplate, but there are many others out there.

Soon I will be able to offer some meal plans for your family or help you individually with meal plans to meet your goals you might have, but until then!

3 | Order Your Groceries

I was hesitant too. I knew the grocery stores I liked getting my produce and that was the main thing I was concerned about. After the first time I drove up and picked up my groceries, I’ve never looked back. There is nothing like a crowded grocery store to stress me out and get me in a bad mood almost instantly. And that’s not even dealing with the parking lot getting in and out. I can not tell you how many times I came home after grocery shopping and was exhausted, fussy, and just didn’t want any interaction with my family for about 10 minutes after the groceries were put away. Serious. So this option has many upsides to it for me. But there are some things to know before you order it if you have not before.

Photo by leonie wise on Unsplash
Things You Need To Know
  • Different stores have their different ways of doing it
    • Some deliver, some you pick up at the store and call them that you have arrived. Some charge an extra fee, some do not. So figure out the logistics of your favorite store if they offer it
  • Most still honor online coupons so make sure to look to see what’s available to use
  • Most will substitute.
    • If there is an item you don’t want substituted, you can always let them know in your notes or comments when getting your order ready. Whenever there was a substitution to be made it was always equal or better to what I had selected and they honored the original price or it was lower.
    • Speaking of comments – if you want to make sure you have 4 tomatoes, and not just 1 lb. of tomatoes, you can also add those details in the comments when ordering usually.
  • Order ahead.
    • Some places can process the order within a hour or two. Some it takes longer.
    • For me – I make sure to do my order the night before I want to pick it up. That way the time slots to pick it up are at my disposal and I’ll know when will be the best time for me to pick it up.
Why I Love It
  • Produce has been consistently fresh.
    • I order from the grocery store I already knew had fresh produce and ordering it online was no different.
  • Never upset with any substitutions.
    • If there was something they did not have in stock, they substituted it with something comparable or equal to what I had ordered. For example: I needed dried thyme, they had an organic one on sale. They were sold out of it, so they made sure to replace it with another organic one – for the sale price of the other one that was out of stock. Something you would not get going to the store yourself.
  • Frozen products are always still frozen when they deliver.
  • Never overspend on what I need for the month.
  • I don’t get distracted by other things in the store
    • Like chips or that chocolate bar that stares at you while you’re waiting in line – you know what I’m talking about!
  • Saves time.
  • Save money.
    • Because of not getting more than what I need for the week, and them honoring things that are on sale, I always spend less when picking up my groceries (even with the small service fee) than if I were to go to the store myself.
  • Saves my mental and emotional well-being.
    • I’m serious. Life is already stressful. If there is any way to lessen stress and lessen time spent doing things that you could be relaxing and spending time with family – why not?

I truly haven’t had a bad experience and have yet to see a down-side to this. It’s been awesome. There are still things I need to run into a store for here and there, and somethings that are only at one store that I still need to go and get, so I do still actually grocery shop. And the days I have time to walk around to see what’s new, I enjoy. But for the bulk of my shopping that can take an hour or more in a crowded store while I’m trying not to get run over by a cart in the store or a car outside the store (for real), I now order and pick up. I feel fancy, and too be honest feels too good to be true.

Test it out! It saves me at least 2-3 hours of my weekend, which as you know, goes by way too fast.

Bottom Line
Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

Being healthy is a mixture of things – your eating habits, time to exercise, and time spent relaxing and being with the people you love. All of those things take time, effort, and some preparation. Keeping my meals planned and organized has really helped to eliminate wasted time and stress. And then ordering groceries online, I cannot tell you how much that relieves me mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Whatever it is that might stress you out or sucks the time out of your day that could be better spent, see how you can adjust it. The more you make an adjustment the more it becomes permanent and the easier it gets. Time is precious, make what you are doing count.

Amelie’s Wheat Germ Pancakes

Pancakes are not a regular thing, more because of how our mornings go. Grab something and go. But when we do have a morning and we can cook a breakfast, this is one of the family recipes we make. This recipe that has been in my family for years from a family friend, Amelie. They are delicious, filling, and has a bit of a sweet nutty flavor because of the wheat germ in them. Yum! We’ve made them as smaller pancakes since they are heavier, so don’t be fooled by their size.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is the reproductive part of wheat that can produce a whole new plant. Because of that, wheat germ is a concentrated source of essential nutrients.

It’s a high source of:

  • Vitamin E – healthy healthy skin cells
  • Folate – needed to make DNA
  • Phosphorus – works with calcium for healthy bones
  • Thiamin – healthy nervous system, muscles, and intestines
  • Zinc – healthy immune system
  • Magnesium – healthy nervous system and muscles
  • Essential Fatty Acids and Fatty Alcohols – anti-inflammatory, healthy brain function
  • Fiber – weight management, healthy digestive system

It truly is the opposite of white processed bread. It consists of all the good things white bread is stripped of when being processed. Just make sure you store it correctly in the fridge or freezer out of sunlight to ensure freshness once the container or bag has been opened.

Amelie's Wheat Germ Pancakes

  • Servings: 3 servings (2 pancakes per serving) Makes 6 3-inch pancakes
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp applesauce
  • 1/2 cup old fashion oats
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ (You can always bump up the nutritional content by adding another tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 green apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup

EGG-FREE: If you want to make this recipe egg-free, use 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds with 1/4 cup water. Let it sit by itself for about 10-15 minutes so that it becomes gelatinous. Add it into the recipe like you would the egg.

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the flour and apple. Poke the egg so that it can mix together.
  2. Add in the flour. Don’t over mix.
  3. Thinly slice the green apple. You can leave the skin on, but it will be harder to cut and eat after the pancakes are made.
  4. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. If not using a non-stick skillet, add a small amount of oil to the bottom. Once the skillet is warm, turn down the heat to medium-low.
  5. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup and pour batter into skillet. Top with the sliced apples. Once the batter is bubbling in the center you can flip the pancakes and cook for about another minute.
  6. Remove from skillet and continue with the rest of the batter. In a large skillet you should be able to make 3-4 pancakes at a time.
  7. When serving dust with cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup.

Nutritional Information

Using an Egg, 1 Serving without Maple Syrup

301 calories | 5.5 g total fat | 1 g saturated fat | 64 mg cholesterol | 383 mg sodium | 51 g carbohydrates | 6.8 g fiber | 10.2 g sugar | 10.8 g protein

Using Chia “Egg”, 1 Serving without Maple Syrup

295 calories | 4.8 g total fat | 0.5 g saturated fat | 0 g cholesterol | 362 mg sodium | 53 g carbohydrates | 8.2 g fiber | 10.1 g sugar | 9.3 g protein

Macro Sources

70% Carbohydrates | 16% Fat | 14% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.3 Fruit
  • 2.5 Grain
  • 0.2 Meat Alternative
  • 0.3 Milk Alternative

How To Get Enough Water Throughout the Day + 7 Infused Waters

Forgetting the Basics

Sometimes hearing so much about other foods and drinks that are healthy, we forget the basics. We know that drinking water is healthy, but why?

  • We are made of 60% water
  • Helps to maintain the balance of bodily fluids
  • Aids Digestion, Absorption of Nutrients, and Eliminating Waste
  • Helps Circulation
  • Maintains Body Temperature
  • Detoxes the Body
  • Balances our pH in our Bodies
  • Vital for Blood, Saliva, and Digestive Fluids
  • Helps Lubricate Your Eyes & Joints
  • And the List Goes On…

Hard Health Habit

Pretty much any function in your body uses water. So it’s definitely vital to our health. Drinking water regularly can be a healthy habit that is hard to start. Juice, tea, carbonated water, etc. makes you think you’ve had enough and the “water” contained in them is enough. But it doesn’t do the same as just drinking plain water. Having infused waters can be a great way to get your started. It adds just enough flavor to break up the “blandness” of water that most people have a problem with when trying to drink more water throughout the day. Or you might be like me and need to break up the flavors here and there and get a different flavor in the afternoon. Throughout this post I’ll have pictures of 7 different infused waters that I’ve made, plus at the end I’ll give you a few tips for making your own.

How much water is enough?

There has been some controversy about this. We know the average “8 Glasses a Day” motto. But what do they mean? Since the average drinking glass has increased from being an 8-12 ounce glass to it being 16-24 ounces, what do they mean? And then you have different climates, different seasons, and people who do different jobs.

  • Are you on your feet all day?
  • Are you doing physical work or sitting at a desk?
  • Are you outside or are you inside with climate control?
  • Do you have dry skin?
  • Do you have other health factors or medications that play into how much water you should be drinking?
  • Do you work out regularly?

How much water is enough? Here are the averages to have as a starting goal.

  • Women Average: 2.7 liters
  • Male Average: 3.7 liters

Or you can do what I do and follow a few guidelines. Once you get use to drinking a few liters a day, it becomes second nature.

My Water Guidelines

NOTE: Raw food does count to some degree. You do get water from the foods you eat, especially raw fruits and vegetables. So if you have a good amount of raw fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you might not have to drink as much water by itself.

  • Start your day with an average glass of water or two while getting ready for the day before eating.
  • If you drink coffee, make sure to drink the same amount if not double the amount of coffee you’ve had.
  • Drink water with Lunch
  • If you are in a hot climate or going to be working outside, always have water on hand ready to go and sip constantly.
  • Drink at least a few glasses of water after working out.
  • If you have wine or an alcoholic drink with dinner or at night, drink at least 8 ounces of water an hour before going to bed.
  • And the best guide – always make sure your urine stays a light yellow. It doesn’t have to be clear all the time, but it shouldn’t be dark unless it’s because of medication or a multi vitamin. Even then, because of those factors you might be required to drink more than the average amount.

Hydration Calculator

If you want a goal amount, check out this hydration calculator by ReHydratePro. The results tab will break down how many glasses or ounces for morning, afternoon, evening and night.

If you are wondering how much water to drink for ultimate performance during or after your workout, check out this calculator from Camelbak.

An Experience: From Soda to Water
Stage One

There are a lot of reasons why people have a hard time getting enough water throughout the day, but one of them is because they are soda drinkers and water is bland and flat. That was James’ (my husband’s) problem. He grew up drinking soda after soda. Only drinking water if he had to or it was after doing something in the heat or physical like mowing the lawn. But even then, it was most likely iced sweet tea he would have. Other than that – soda. Once he started working out he learned about why water is so important especially with trying to loose weight and build muscle. James never gained much weight but the weight he was gaining was all around his mid-section which is very unhealthy. He learned that a lot of that can be due to processed sugar. So he cut out processed sugars which meant he went to only drinking water cold turkey.

An Experience: From Soda to Water
Stage Two

James did okay at first. He started to think about soda all day, every day, and by the end of the day would start to get a headache. He had to “choke” down the water and sometimes only had 20 oz. of water throughout the day, but still resisted drinking sodas. This went on for about 2 weeks.

This was something I never fully understood, but now see the addiction behind sugar, especially processed sugar, foods and drinks. Sugar was one of those things that triggered my IBS symptoms so I associated it with pain and cramping. But for someone that doesn’t get any adverse effects right away from it, I can understand how and why it’s hard to break the habit and start having something “bland”.

An Experience: From Soda to Water
Stage Three

Once the headaches went away and James kept with his routine, by the 3rd week he started to want water in the morning. Things started tasting different to him. He noticed that with drinking sugary drinks he wasn’t able to taste properly. Now fruits, vegetables, and some savory things now have a better and sweeter taste to him. After workouts he has no problem drinking 20+ ounces of water. He sweats a lot more now that his body has the water to do so. Soda still comes into his mind and there are some days that are worse than others. I have to hand it to him, I thought he was going to crack at least once in the first few weeks, but he never did. Even going out to eat when he would have 3-4 glasses of soda, he ordered water and continues to do so. Along with healthier foods tasting better, his headaches he would get randomly or when it would get cold are now almost completely gone, and his workouts have improved. Definitely worth the switch!

Photo by Chris Ralston on Unsplash
As a Recap
  • Water is vital for all functions of the body and can help with healthy goals like – a healthy digestive system, weight loss, etc.
  • Follow the water guidelines and try to drink a few liters throughout the day
  • Drinking water can be a hard habit to start, but worth the benefits

Infused Waters

When grabbing your glass of water, add the herbs or fruit to it that you’d like. Wait for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

  • For citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges – you can squeeze a little into the glass before putting the slices inside.
  • For other fruits – if they are sliced, some of the juice is able to get into the water
  • Herbs – I like to rub the leaves a little before putting them inside the water. It releases the essential oils in them so that you get more flavor in the water.

Creamy Hidden Veggie Macaroni

I had finally broke down and tried it. A creamy sauce for pasta made from vegetables and seasoning. I can’t say it taste like macaroni and cheese, but it’s a great way to stay on track with your goals and still have a high-fiber, low-fat creamy pasta side dish that can be made dairy-free. I’ve tried a few different versions and then I needed to add my own flavor to it. I like my “cheese” to be tangy, so by adding the miso and yellow mustard it adds that tangy/fermented cheese flavor that I look for. Also the nutritional yeast. I’m sure I’ll have a post about it soon enough, but the benefits it adds when you use it as a topping or a seasoning are pretty impressive.

Check out the benefits!

I looked up a few different “Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipes” and put them into my nutrient calculator that I use. Here are some staggering numbers.

 

Classic Macaroni & Cheese (1 cup Serving): 

  • 350 to 750 calories
  • 23 g fat (35% DV) to 39 g fat (60% DV)

Hidden Veggie Macaroni & Cheese (1 cup Serving):

  • 297 calories
  • 3.9 g fat

 

Not that I don’t enjoy an occasional cheesy side dish, but I think this recipe is definitely something to be tried. I don’t think of this as “macaroni and cheese” but a “creamy macaroni side”. For me, it fills the craving for something that looks and feels like it should be a lot worse than it is. Let me say this too – low-fat is good for some things. There is a definite need for fat in your diet, but you don’t need 30-80% of your average daily intake to be in 1 cup of food on a regular basis. I like to take my fat and spread it around like butter throughout my day. So to keep things balanced, and to keep on track with my goals without going too overboard with creamy fattening cravings, I like using this version.

Creamy Hidden Veggie Macaroni

  • Servings: 12 servings or 1 casserole dish if baking, 1 cup per serving
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. whole wheat macaroni (or less *see leftover sauce freezing note)
  • OR use a gluten free variety
  • 2 cups yellow potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes, dry, not in oil
  • 1 1/2 cup water (from boiling vegetables)
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream *see note
  • OR 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt, optional
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp miso, optional *see note
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Directions

  1. Cook pasta to package directions and set aside.
  2. Put the potatoes, carrots, onion, and sun dried tomatoes in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover the vegetables. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Once they are done, take out 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable water and put into a blender. Add in the cooked vegetables and the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  4. Top your cooked pasta with the sauce, add salt if needed, and enjoy a creamy pasta without any guilt!

Coconut Cream | Use canned coconut milk, or now I’ve seen canned coconut cream. Do not shake. Open the can and the cream will have separated from the water. The cream will not be sweet or have much of a coconut taste. There should be about 1/2 or more coconut cream in one can.

Miso | Regular miso is made from fermented soy beans and is used in Japanese cooking. They are now making chickpea miso, which is what I use, as a soy-free alternative. It adds a tangy taste to the sauce like cheddar would do, so I recommend using it, but it is optional. Since miso is fermented, it’s very good for balancing gut bacteria and in effect, healthy for digestion.


Nutritional Information

297 calories | 3.9 g total fat | 0.2 g saturated fat | 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat | 0.4 g monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 198 mg sodium | 53 g carbohydrates | 7.8 g fiber | 1.5 g sugar | 12.8 g protein

Macro Sources

71% Carbohydrates | 12% Fat | 17% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.9 Grain
  • 0.2 Meat Alternative
  • 0.6 Vegetables
Freeze Leftover Sauce

I will freeze the rest of the sauce that I don’t use if I am not using 2 pounds of pasta at once. Freeze in a gallon bag and lay it flat. Freeze up to two weeks at the most. When ready to use, take it out the morning you will be using it and let it defrost in the fridge. You may need to add a little more flavoring with added nutritional yeast and salt, but it should be good to go!