As much as I enjoy living in a place where I get to experience all four seasons, I dread the first snowfall. I dread it because I'm sad to see fall go, especially when summer feels like it happened just yesterday. I dread it because it means scrapping your windows and spending the first 5 minutes of any drive shivering until the heat is finally at a bearable temperature.
But when it arrives, when the first snowfall comes - there's a peaceful beauty about it that hushes all of those negative voices. Granted, when you have to get out there and shovel it, they return - but for a brief moment, everything is still. Everything is still and I'm reminded that winter is just another season, and without it we'd never see Spring.
This is one of my favorite soups from Gluten Free Goddess. The first time I made it was a couple of years ago, and each time I make it I'm reminded of how much I adore it. Plus, it has beer in it, so.....
Irish Cabbage & Potato Soup
adapted from Gluten Free Goddess
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 half head of cabbage, cored and sliced thin
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sausages or brats (we used Applegate Chicken & Apple and they were amazing!)
5-6 cups chicken broth, start with 5 and add up to another cup if you look like you need it
1 bottle of your favorite beer (I prefer a darker beer in this soup)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onion; stir for five minutes or so. Add the garlic, carrots and potatoes. Let cook for another five minutes and then add the cabbage until it wilts. Add the sausage and season with salt and pepper.
Pour in the beer and let cook for a minute before adding the broth. Cover and bring to a high simmer; then lower the heat a bit and simmer until the vegetables are fork tender- about 25 minutes.
This really is such a beautiful soup. And amazingly delicious!
Perfect for a snowy winter's night.
I'm pretty sure if there is a food you can stuff, I'll find a way to stuff it. When my grocer had freshly made chorizo I knew I had to have it. Every so often they have treats like that, and when they do - I'm all over it.
I wanted to do create something big and bold - and these stuffed sweet potatoes were perfect. The sweetness from the potato really balanced nicely with the kick you got from the chorizo. If you don't like spicy flavors, you can use another type of ground meat - but if you can get your hands on some chorizo, I would highly recommend it.
I began to brown the meat, and added to it one can of black beans (drained and rinsed), one half of a red onion and a green pepper.
Bake your sweet potatoes as you would a regular baked potato (either in the oven or microwave). Top each sweet potato with the chorizo and black bean mixture, and any other "fixings" you desire.
I used cherry tomatoes, avocado, shredded sharp cheddar, sour cream and cilantro. Basically, the good stuff.
If you're looking for a vegan recipe....
this isn't it.
Would you believe that I've never made or eaten spaghetti squash? I told a friend that today and she couldn't believe it. It seems I'm behind on this one (among many other things), but that all ended with this delicious "pasta" dish.
I love when an idea comes together. Don't get me wrong, I am a planner - but sometimes, when menu planning, the general idea is there but it takes some trial and error in the kitchen to actually develop the recipe. That's what happened with this dish - minus the error (thank goodness).
To be honest, that's what's happening with my life right now - I feel like a lot of things are coming together through trial and error. I suppose everything in life, for the most part, works that way. You just cross your fingers that the outcome is favorable - or in this case, delicious.
I started by cooking my spaghetti squash using this method
from a popular Paleo food blog, Elana's Pantry
Then I began making my sauce:
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T EVOO
1 package organic chicken tenders
1 t dried oregano
1/2 c dry red wine
1 can crushed organic tomatoes
1 t coconut palm sugar
2 T capers
salt and pepper
Start by heating the EVOO over medium heat, add your onions and garlic. Make sure the temperature isn't too hot - you don't want to burn the garlic. Season with salt, pepper and oregano, and let cook for 5 minutes until the onions start to sweat. Add the chicken tenders to the pan and let them brown. Flip the chicken pieces, and continue to let the onions carmelize. You should have a nice brown color on them.
Add in your red wine and let it cook until the alcohol is burned off (when it stops smelling like alcohol). Add the canned tomatoes and more salt and pepper, as well as the sugar and capers. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve over the spaghetti squash and sprinkle with parmesan cheese (optional).
What's your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?
The nice thing about my "real" job and my "side" job are that they both involve wellness. This means that I get to attend some pretty neat conferences and seminars where I get to learn new things to help aid in my knowledge of healthy living.
Recently I had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Ann Kulze
speak at a conference about how nutrition impacts health. She was a keynote speaker, but also had a breakout (which I attended) that revolved around Brain Food. For those of us in the nutrition world, there are a handful of foods that you can eat to improve your brain health. I was pleased that her list was similar to the one that I use in my seminars (always helps when your research lines up with those of actual doctors!).
I began thinking more about her talk, and about my own brain health. Of course, when I came home that night I made myself a heaping salad with many of the foods she suggested - which leads me to this recipe.
I've never really been a big fan of canned fish - the smell of canned tuna makes me gag (although a fresh tuna salad sandwich always looks appetizing to me!). I thought I would try my luck at canned salmon - and wouldn't you know, I actually liked it! This may be my first step in trying canned tuna too.
This salad is a much heartier one than I normally eat - making it absolutely perfect for the cold weather months when you're craving a salad with bold flavors.Brain Food Salad
serves 2-4 (I can seriously eat this whole bowl by myself!)
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and sliced thin
drizzle of olive oil
1 can salmon, drained (you could easily use fresh fish or white beans instead)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (or pressed if you're unsure of raw garlic)
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
1/4 c raw walnuts, crushed
1/4 c EVOO
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T champagne vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
In order to eat kale raw you really must massage it, as it's a thicker leafy green. Start by putting your sliced kale into a bowl, drizzle EVOO and use your hands to massage the greens. Work the EVOO into the kale for about a minute. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and toss with dressing.
Since your brain is made of mostly fat, it needs healthy fats to ensure it's functioning in a healthy manner. The healthy fats from the salmon, egg yolks, walnuts and avocado are like a quadruple bang for your buck! Dark leafy greens like kale offer more nutrients per calorie than any other food. The garlic and EVOO are both anti-inflammatory foods.
Pretty much everything in this salad helps you maintain a healthy brain and body - so eat up and enjoy! If you are only cooking for one or two, this salad keeps nicely in the fridge for a couple days. I would suggest making the dressing separate and only dress what you plan to eat at that sitting. You can easily pack up more dressing and salad for a brown bag lunch, or dinner the next night.
There is nothing more exciting than seeing so many varieties of winter squash at the farmers market or grocery store!
Ok, so maybe there are more exciting things - but I do love the fact that there are so many varieties - which means tons of new recipes! Winter squash are so versatile, and there seriously are a hundred different things you can do with them: you can make soup, roast them, puree them, eat them in salads, etc. Or you can stuff them - which is what I love to do!
The great thing about stuffing squash is that you can honestly put just about anything in there. I had some veggies that needed to be eaten up, so I sautéed them and added them in. You can add meat, grains, herbs, even dried fruit!
For this dish I added meat, but you could easily leave it out and still have a very hearty meal.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 lb. ground bison, or your favorite ground meat (optional)
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash halves into a baking dish, skin side up, in about a 1/2 inch of water. Cover the roasting dish with foil and roast for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.
While the squash is roasting, start cooking your meat over medium high heat- depending on the type of meat, you may need to drain off any grease. Return the pan to the heat and add the veggies, tomatoes, garlic and onion and continue cooking. Season with salt & pepper.
When the squash is done roasting remove it from the oven and drain off any
remaining water from the dish. Fill each squash halve with the meat
filling and top with cheese. Return to the oven and roast for another 10
What is your favorite winter squash?
I love the smell of fall.
Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg - oh my!
As much as I enjoy the warm weather - my favorite season to cook is the fall. I love making hearty soups, roasting veggies and experimenting with pumpkin! I've done some fun things with pumpkin in the past: made a fun Halloween appetizer
, made pasta sauce
and, of course, pumpkin pie
I recently found a recipe for pumpkin granola, and since I normally make my own version
, I decided to give this one a try.
I was so pleased with the final product, I think this may be a new go-to recipe for the fall and winter months.Pumpkin and Fig Granolaadapted from Dr. Ann
1/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed and dried
2 c oats
1/4 c honey
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1/2 can pumpkin (save the rest for another batch, smoothies or oatmeal)
1 T coconut oil
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t cloves
2 t cinnamon
1/4 c chia seeds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c sliced almonds
1/2 c dried figs, chopped
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place quinoa and oats on a cookie sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the honey, maple syrup, pumpkin and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When everything is heated and combined, add the vanilla and then remove from the heat. Add all of the spices and incorporate well.
In a large mixing bowl, add the chia seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, sliced almonds and figs. Add the toasted oats and quinoa. Fold in the pumpkin mixture until everything is well incorporated. Lower the heat to 200 degrees.
Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the pumpkin granola evenly. Bake at 200 degrees for 1.5 hours - tossing the granola mixture every 30 minutes, or so, to help it bake evenly.
Let cool and then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in your pantry for up to a month.
Are you drooling yet? I've used this granola to top salads, eaten it as cereal or with yogurt - it's simply amazing.
I'm thrilled to bring you my first guest blog post. When I started this blog I wanted to offer you a variety of ways to improve your life. While majority of my posts revolve around food, my goal is to begin to expose you to new ideas and ways of thinking - in the hope that you begin to experiment more and find what works best for your life and health.
I'd like to introduce you to my dear friend Maggie:
Hello new friends! I am Maggie, one of Nicole’s friends from all the
way back in the middle school days. Just as Nicole has recently found her way to
a healthy relationship with food, the Integrative Yoga Therapy
teacher training program has brought me to a happy place with my physical body
and mental self. I’d like to share with you easy ways yoga can help your life.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Simply put, “yoga” means “union”; union with all the parts of ourselves, our family and friends, our surroundings, and each and every thing found in nature. This gets a little flowery pretty quick, so let’s come back to that union with ourselves. How often have you found yourself physically in one place, but mentally in about six other locations? Pretty consistently, right? It’s OK. We all do it! Somehow, I think it is how society has taught us to function. Let’s fix that.
I want you to stop what you are doing right now (well, after you finish reading this paragraph, of course!) and take a deep breath. If you are feeling fancy, you can even use a pranayama
called “kaki”. This calming breath involves a deep inhale
through the nose and a long exhale through the mouth that is shaped like you
were blowing through a straw. Do this for several breaths while taking a quick
walk through your body. How do your hands feel today? Are you sitting in proper posture? What is your energy level at this moment in time? What do your clothes feel like against your skin? What kind of noises do you hear around you?
There are so many things you will notice when you take a moment to just be in the moment.
This is all great, but how do we put it into practice when the going gets nutballs? You just breathe! You have to breathe anyway, so allow yourself that extra millisecond to take a kaki breath when you find yourself scarfing down another meal, speeding your way to your child’s soccer practice or wishing you were at happy hour when stuck in a day-long meeting. Enjoy all the moments, even the unpleasant ones. (You are getting paid for sitting in that meeting, aren’t you?! All is not lost!)
Taste your food. Make memories with your family. Find yourself in the chaos. Breathe.
Maggie is an aspiring writer and successful daydreamer. You can find her pontificating at her own blog, Truly, Margaret Mary
, teaching pilates and yoga at the downtown Milwaukee and north shore Wisconsin Athletic Club locations and Strive Yoga in Mequon, or trying to sneak food off of your plate at all the good restaurants in our town. She lives in Shorewood with her
husband Randy and physics-ly challenged dog, Noah.
I love feeling so full I could burst! No, I'm not talking about the feeling you get after eating a big meal - I'm talking about having a full heart. There are a lot of things that make me feel this way: a good laugh with my husband, my family, time with friends, etc., but this feeling is even different from those.
I've been known, probably for my entire 33 years of existence, to often have "a lot on my plate." I'm involved in quite a bit - I swear my husband doesn't believe that the word "no" is in my vocabulary. If I'm approached to help with something I typically agree to it. I sit on a number of boards for different organizations, and each one brings something special to my life.
Recently I was asked by my alma mater to sit on a board for the alumni association. After much deliberation (and against my husband's request to sit one out) I agreed. My first board meeting brought self-doubt. I was surrounded by a number of people who loved and adored our university, people who had been super involved during their college years and couldn't wait to send their children there....which was different than I was feeling.
To be truthful, while I thoroughly enjoyed my college years, that weekend I kept wishing I could do them over again. Not because I wanted to relive my sorority years or go back to a time that was much more simple and carefree, but because I didn't feel as though I had taken any of it all that seriously. I changed my major a number of times, I didn't get the greatest grades and spent too much time worrying about what some guy thought of me instead of what my professor might think if I turned in another paper a week late.
Proud? Not really. How was I a good representative of this place if I was questioning my time there?
The fact was, after my first board meeting, I was actually feeling pretty crummy. I was asked to be on an important board, to help reach out to other alumni and encourage their continued involvement and support of our beloved university, but all I could remember about those 4 years was how much time I wasted NOT paying more attention to my future.
I began to think I didn't have a story - I no longer had a connection that was worthy of my participation. This past weekend was Homecoming, and another board meeting. For those of you that haven't been back to your alma mater since you walked the stage and received your diploma, this post may not be interesting to you - but I ask you to bear with me.
I have returned to my university every year since I graduated -except the year one of my very best friends got married on the same weekend as Homecoming. I didn't return to meet up with professors who shaped me, I didn't return to catch up with old friends or check out the newest happenings of the town. I returned to see the man I would someday marry.
As much as the 4 years I spent there revolved around the wrong man - the 11 years I returned revolved around the right one. It may seem silly to even admit this, clearly I received an extraordinary education and have benefited greatly from my time at school, but my story - the one that ties me to this place - that revolves around my husband.
When I finally opened up and admitted this weekend that the one thing that made this place seem so special to me was another person, not a class, not my degree, not a professor - but a person, a person I barely knew in college (even though that's where we technically met) but has since become my whole life - my ties to the school felt that much greater.
My story wasn't a silly one - this place had shaped me just as it had each and every one of my fellow board members. This place had taught me more about who I was, who I wanted to be and what not to settle for. While I definitely received an education (from some very talented professors) I also became my own teacher - I just didn't know it then.
After my realization I honestly felt a stronger bond than I had ever felt. My heart was full, I embraced the moment, the people I was surrounded with and the blessings God had bestowed upon me.
And my heart was overflowing.
For you it might be something different, but everyone has something they are holding back on, something that they haven't truly opened themselves up to. I urge you to stop holding back, stop feeling silly, stop comparing yourself to others. Tell your story - even if you're just telling it to yourself. Embrace the moments you wish you had done differently, and know that you have the authority to make the most of every experience - past, present or future.
Whether it's returning to an old stomping ground or allowing a song or memory to transport you to another place in time - remember that every.single.moment brought you to this place (Even the ones that didn't go exactly as planned). Your story was written exactly as it was meant to be, exactly for you.
Embrace it and let your heart be full.
We have a restaurant in town that has such yummy sandwiches and salads. I was recently there and saw a new beet salad on the menu. Anytime I can get my hands on a fresh beet salad you know I get it! It was so delicious, and since I realized that I had all of the ingredients at home, I decided to recreate it the next day.
This salad is a bit on the sweeter side - the roasted beets, chewy dates, carrots and citrus vinaigrette are sweet, but not in an overpowering way. I paired this salad with some flaky whitefish (as I normally do with light salads) and the fish gave it a lovely balance. If you don't eat fish you could easily add chicken or white beans for protein.
Beet and Date Salad
4 beets, cleaned and roasted
4 dates, pitted and chopped
1 carrot, grated
handful of mixed greens for each serving
Juice from one orange
1/4 c olive oil
splash of champagne vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400. Clean your beets and trim the ends off. Place them in a small roasting dish with a half inch of water and bake until tender, about 20 min. When they are done, let them cool and then peel the skins off. Cube them and add to your salad.
Pit and chop your dates, grate your carrot and clean your greens. Make your vinaigrette and then assemble the salad. Greens, then dates, carrots and beets. Dress and top with slivered almonds.
Fall dinners don't have to be difficult. Roasting the beets is the longest part of this dish, and you could easily roast extra and keep them in the fridge to add to other salads throughout the week. Bought dates and now you don't know what to do with them? You can add them to smoothies for sweetness (if you are new to green smoothies, dates are a great way to add some sweetness without filling your cup with a ton of high sugar fruits), add it to your homemade nut milks
for some natural sweetness or stuff with cheese and wrap in bacon
This dish kind of happened by accident. I follow a lot of food blogs, and may have even posted on Facebook about wanting to try these delicious looking chive pancakes
. I did end up making them, but it made so many that I wasn't sure what to do with the extras. Since they felt to me more like crepes, I decided a savory crepe would be perfect for dinner.
I was thinking along the lines of spring rolls, with cool crisp veggies, and tacos. I had a number of veggies in my fridge, and with 2 heads of cabbage from the last two CSA boxes, I knew I could marry the two and find a winner!
I almost always have shrimp on hand, but you could use a flaky whitefish, salmon or even chicken. I had shrimp, so I cleaned them up and let them marinate in some lime juice and 1 clove of minced garlic. While those were sitting, I made this easy slaw
(the same slaw I use for fish tacos) and then sliced up some raw veggies.
I chopped cucumbers into matchsticks, sliced some baby bell peppers thin and sliced up some scallions.
To sauté your shrimp, heat 1-2 T olive oil on medium heat, dump in the shrimp and let cook for about 2 min. Flip them and let them cook 1 -2 more minutes, depending on their size. You don't want to overcook shrimp or it will become rubbery. When they turn pink, they are done. Remove them from the heat, they'll continue to cook through.
When the shrimp were done, I layered all of this down the center of a crepe, folded over and ate. Easy and different! And now I know how to use up extra crepes!