By: Leanne Ely
The love of my life made itself known when I was mere child. A little tiny child. Young, vulnerable, happy and yet missing something. What was it?
Chocolate. That beautiful, silky, gorgeous experience of a food. Chocolate. OMGosh.
Today, I’m talking specifically though, dark chocolate.
Once upon a time, I was wildly in love with milk chocolate. But alas, I wisely gave up the sugar and moved on.
And yes, it took a little while for my taste buds to adjust and get used to the more boldere taste of dark chocolate, but I can honestly say now that I have grown to enjoy my delicious, dark chocolate treat.
And the bonus? Beautiful dark chocolate is a superfood! #holler
It’s the cacao in chocolate that gives it its distinct taste and it’s that cacao that’s packed with flavonoids. That little cacao bean is full of disease-fighting power! But the thing about cacao? It’s as bitter baby, bitter!
That’s why milk, sugar and butter started getting added to chocolate—to make it palatable (and quite delicious I might add).
But check this out—if you stick to chocolate that’s at least 75% cacao or cocoa (hey, did you know that cocoa is roasted, ground cacao?). That’s where you’re going to get all the amazing health benefits!
And what are those health benefits?
Let’s take a look at a few of them…
Heart health. A small amount of dark chocolate has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack while lowering blood pressure. That’s because of the antioxidant compounds in chocolate’s flavonoids which can increase flexibility of arteries and veins.
Diabetes prevention. The University of L’Aquila in Italy conducted a study that showed participants eating a bar of dark chocolate every day for 15 days had their potential for insulin resistance cut almost in half!
Weight loss. Dark chocolate can lessen your cravings for other fatty and sugary foods, so eating a small square of dark chocolate (and stopping at that) will help you to stick to your weight loss plan
Stress reduction. A small Swiss study showed that when people with anxiety ate just under two ounces of dark chocolate each day for two weeks, they had reduced levels of stress hormones. Reduced stress can reduce inflammation in the body!
See? It’s perfectly find to enjoy chocolate as part of a healthy diet, as long as you can stick to an ounce or two per day.
PS–Crock-tober is half way over, but you can still take advantage of the amazing deal we have on BRAND NEW Crock Cooker menus! Over $100 worth of delicious new Crock Cooker recipes and menus, for just $27! Click here to learn more
By: Leanne Ely
Over and over again, I hear people say, “But what will I eat for breakfast if I’m going gluten free?” OR “Gluten free fill-in-the-blank is so expensive!”
My answer to both of these questions is, “Hold on, just wait a minute!” There are answers for you that won’t break the bank or cause you to hyperventilate, LOL
I think we tend to overthink these things a little bit, and tell ourselves that if we can’t have toast, then breakfast isn’t going to happen. So I want to show you just how easy it is to eat fast in the morning, even if you don’t eat toast or breakfast cereal.
Here are seven healthy, low-carb ideas for grab and go breakfasts:
Fruit and yogurt. It doesn’t get a lot easier than this. Plain Greek yogurt is fabulous. Full of probiotics and protein, this is a great start for your day. Pair it with fresh fruit and you’re good to go. If you’re not used to eating plain yogurt, you might need to sweeten it with a bit of local honey or pure maple syrup. But go easy—you don’t need your blood sugar going to the moon first thing in the morning!
Smoothie. This is my favorite, go-to breakfast every single morning. Our Perfect Paleo Protein is 100% dairy and gluten free, has 27 grams of protein and will keep you full all morning long. This is how you get a perfectly balanced breakfast each and every morning! The secret to a perfect smoothie is having a good amount of protein (at least 20 grams) remember to add some good fat (an avocado or coconut milk) and fiber (flax or FiberMender 2.0) to your smoothie along with some greens (Just Juiced Greens is my favorite and sometimes I’ll add spinach as well), a bit of berries, and a liquid like almond milk.
Slow cooker porridge. Gluten free oats in the slow cooker in the evening can get you a pot of steaming hot porridge in the morning! Use the ratio of 4:1, liquid to oats. Cook on low over night and in the morning, top your piping hot cereal however you like! Bananas, berries, walnuts, cinnamon—delicious!
Apple and almond butter. If you have to be somewhere in a hurry in the morning, but you need a quick bite to eat, have an apple dipped in almond butter. You can take that apple to go all cut up, sprinkle a little cinnamon on it to hide the browning, add the almond butter and you’re good!
Chia pudding with berries and nuts. If you add a bit of milk to a couple spoonfuls of chia seeds and let it sit for a few minutes, you get almost a pudding-like consistency. It’s sort of pearl-like, like tapioca. This makes a very filling little pudding, especially if you have some berries and nuts with it.
Boiled eggs. If you’re going to boil one egg, you might as well boil the whole dozen. I almost always have boiled eggs in the fridge to grab and go if I need a quick bite of protein. If you have some leftover sausages or any sort of meat or veggies, they’ll make a great breakfast with a boiled egg.
Leftovers. Speaking of leftovers in the fridge, I would like to know who made the rule that we need “breakfast” foods in the morning. For most species, food is food! Eat whatever the heck you want in the morning even if it’s meatloaf from the night before (and I happen to love it cold!).
See? Breakfast can be nutritious, delicious AND fast!
By: Leanne Ely
Happy Tuesday, Y’all!
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Oh it’s autumn! And you know what that means, don’t you? A plethora of pumpkin seeds! I mean, who doesn’t equate fall with pumpkins? I love me some pumpkin puree and I love me some pumpkin seeds. Even though these little nuggets of wonderful are available year round, they’re best enjoyed when pumpkins are in season.
Did you know that Native American Indians held pumpkins and their seeds in very high esteem? They treasured them for their medicinal and dietary properties.
Some people refer to their pumpkin seeds as pepitas but it doesn’t matter to me what you call them, just trust me when I tell you that these little guys deserve a spot in your diet.
Pumpkin seed nutrition
Just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides you with almost 75% of your daily recommended dose of manganese, almost half of your daily requirement of magnesium and a good serving of nutrients phosphorus, copper, protein, iron and zinc.
Studies show that pumpkin seeds help promote good prostate health, benefit arthritis symptoms and they can also help to protect bone mineral density. Try to encourage your loved ones (especially men) to snack on these nutritional seeds. The bonus, of course, is that they taste delicious!
Speaking of how they taste, here are some suggestions for enjoying pumpkin seeds.
First of all, they are wonderful just taken right from the pumpkin, dried off and baked in a 170 F oven for 20 minutes. They’re best roasted at a low temperature for a short amount of time so that their healthy oils aren’t destroyed.
Eat them just like that or toss them into your stir-fry or salad. Put them through your coffee grinder and add it to your homemade vinaigrettes and even to turkey, beef or veggie burgers. Put them in your oatmeal, add them to granola and oatmeal cookies…the options are really limitless.
Here’s your Trick:
Keep your pumpkin seeds stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Try to eat them within 2 months to enjoy them at their freshest.
And your Tip:
If you’re buying pumpkin seeds in the store, try to smell them before you bring them home. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy pumpkin sniffer. If they’re musty or rancid smelling, leave them where they are!
And your Recipe:
Saving Dinner Salad with Pumpkin Seeds:
Toss the following ingredients
• 6 cups mixed salad greens (make sure some of it is spinach)
• 1 cup carrots, chopped
• 2 tablespoon red onion, chopped
• 1 Gala apple, cored, and cut into 1/4- inch cubes
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• Pumpkin seeds, sprinkled over the top
• 1/2 tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 squirt hot chili sauce (like Tabasco)
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Make as much of this dressing or as little as you want and store in the fridge to use anytime you need it.
By: Leanne Ely
Back-to-school time is upon us, and with it, comes crazy mornings of lunch packing and breakfast making, and other general chaos.
It’s important to get a good healthy meal into everyone’s bellies in the morning, so how do you do that without simply opening up a box of sugary cereal or putting down a couple slices of toast?
The following twelve breakfast ideas will keep your family nourished for the morning, without taking hours to prepare.
Slow cooked oats. If your family enjoys oatmeal, put the slow cooker to work for you overnight. Steel cut oats work best for long cooking like this. You can add some sliced apples and raisons to the pot, too, for a bit of extra flavor. Imagine waking up to a hot breakfast! Magic!
Cold oats. If you make a big pot of oats, keep some in a container in the fridge to scoop out for a fast serving of carbs in the morning. Top with sliced bananas and paired with a boiled egg or a sausage or some Greek yogurt … and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast!
Yogurt (or cottage cheese) and fruit. It doesn’t get much more simple and delicious than Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast. Sprinkle some homemade granola on there and you have a real treat! (Make your own granola though, unless you can source a brand without added fat and sugar.)
Smoothies. Y’all know I’m the queen of smoothies. Blend up your breakfast if you’re in a rush. No excuses! (Bonus points if you use our All In One Smoothie Mix or Perfect Paleo Protein for a well-rounded meal!)
Pancakes. I know this sounds like more of a Sunday morning breakfast idea, and it is! Pancakes can take time. So make a giant batch of your family’s favorite recipe on the weekend, and then keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to be heated up on school days.
Boiled eggs. Instead of boiling one or two eggs at a time, boil the whole dozen and keep ‘em in the fridge for grab and go snacks or a fast breakfast.
Breakfast scrambles. I’m a fan of taking leftovers from the refrigerator and scrambling them together for a quick breakfast scramble or hash. Sliced mushrooms and ham? Great. Brussels sprouts, peppers, and onions? Yum. Sausage, sweet potatoes, and broccoli? Why not? Warm up the leftover ingredients in your pan, add some beaten eggs, mix around until the eggs are cooked and you have breakfast.
Eggs and bacon with greens. Step one: Fry bacon. Step two: Remove bacon and drain fat. Step three: Crack eggs in same pan as bacon was fried in. Step four: Cook eggs to preferred level of doneness. Step five: Place eggs with bacon. Step six: Wilt whatever greens you have on hand. Step seven: Eat.
Granola with berries and milk. Make a big batch of homemade granola and scoop it out to enjoy on busy mornings. Top with milk and berries, like conventional breakfast cereal.
Cinnamon apples. Mix some almond butter and honey together to create a delicious and sticky dip. Sprinkle cinnamon on apple slices. Dip slices in honey/almond mixture.
Canadian bacon egg cups. Preheat the oven to 375. Place slices of Canadian bacon in the bottom of the muffin tins and bake for five minutes to warm the bacon. Take the pan out of the oven, crack an egg on top of each slice of bacon, sprinkle with salt, and pepper, bake 20 minutes or until the eggs are set.
And here’s a bonus recipe from my book, Part-time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy!
Garden Morning Array
Yields 4 servings
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, lengthwise
2 avocados, diced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup strawberries (or seasonal fruit of your choice)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
This is a simple breakfast that is great for those busy mornings. You simply portion out each item onto everyone’s plate, lightly season everything except the fruit with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and you’re done.
By: Leanne Ely
As the weather starts to cool down, one of my favorite things to come home to is a pot of simmering soup. Plus soup is a great meal that I can easily scale up or down, depending on how much or how little I want to have leftover.
Now, many people know they can use their slow cookers for soups, but if you are new to slow cooking, you might be wondering how to adapt your favorite recipes for the slow cooker.
I have a few tips for you that will help you put your slow cooker through its paces in soup making.
5 tips for making slow cooker soup
1. Brown the meat. One of the most overlooked steps in creating sensational slow cooker soups is browning your ingredients. Yes, the slow cooker will cook your soup just fine without you taking this step, but if you do take the time to sear your meat before putting it in the slow cooker, you’ll be happy with the rich, intensely flavored results.
2. Cut ingredients uniformly. Take care to cut your vegetables in similar sizes so that they cook evenly. You don’t want half of your vegetables turning to mush while some bites are still hard!
3. Layer properly. Place the ingredients that take longest to cook in the slow cooker first. (Hint: Root vegetables take longer to cook than meat so they should be placed on the bottom where they’ll have more direct contact with the heating element of the slow cooker.) Meats, spices and onions can also be placed on the bottom. Veggies like cauliflower and broccoli can go in next. Finally, place your liquid on top of all the veggies before covering the slow cooker and turning it on.
4. Watch your liquids. You won’t need as much liquid as your traditional soup recipe would call for, but just add enough to cover the veggies by about half an inch. (If you have too much liquid at the end of your cooking time, simply remove the lid of your crockpot 30 minutes before you plan to serve dinner and it will evaporate.)
5. Add ingredients in stages. Some ingredients don’t take much time to cook so you’ll want to add them in during the last hour of cook time. Things like pasta, dairy, peas, bell peppers and spinach would fall into this category.
And speaking of Crock Cooker soups, we have a delicious new Soups and Stews menu included in our Crock-Tober Bundle! Recipes include Chicken Ginger Soup, Spicy Sausage Soup, Sweet Potato Soup, and more! Click here to check out the rest of the bundle and get your soup recipes today
By: Leanne Ely
Harvest time is like Christmas for me. So many delicious and healthy foods are in season that I can hardly eat enough to get in all the foods I want to eat. I’m popping these healthy foods into my smoothies (sweet potatoes), soups (pumpkin), and desserts (pears).
I like to bulk up on all of the healthiest foods I can this time of year to help get my immune system in tip-top shape for cold and flu season.
There are plenty of superfoods in season during the fall, so buy them frequently and eat them often!
Here are ten of my favorite fall superfoods:
Pomegranates. Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and folate. Either juice those gorgeous red orbs inside the pomegranate fruit or sprinkle them on your salads.
Pumpkins. Full of fiber, B vitamins, and potassium, pumpkin is a powerhouse of nutrients. It’s not just for pie! Add cooked pumpkin to your smoothies, soups, and chilli. Why not?
Apples. Not only crunchy and sweet, apples are rich in antioxidants and high in fiber. An apple a day is great for you, but choose organic. Apples are high on the Dirty Dozen list.
Brussels sprouts. One of my favorite of all superfoods, brussels sprouts contain loads of Vitamin K, folate, and iron. As long as you don’t overcook them, brussels taste absolutely out of this world.
Parsnips. A good source of fiber and potassium, parsnips resemble carrots, but they have a sweeter flavor and a much lighter color. I love parsnips pureed in soups or roasted with other root vegetables as a side dish.
Pears. This sweet and juicy superfood has 4 whole grams of fiber per serving. It’s also a good source of copper and Vitamin C. If you’ve never tried a baked pear, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Cauliflower. This cruciferous veggie may help prevent cancer and lower cholesterol. It’s a great source of Vitamin C. Cauliflower is fantastic as a low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes or rice.
Squash. Butternut squash, acorn squash…. so many squashes! I love them all. Squash is a great source of Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. I use squash in soups and as side dishes frequently through the fall.
Sweet potatoes. Chock full of Vitamin A, iron, and anti-inflammatories, I love sweet potatoes. Why cook their white counterparts when you can get so much more nutrition from these guys?
Cranberries. Rich in Vitamins C and E, potassium, iron, and folate, these antioxidant-filled berries are one of the healthiest things you can eat. Use them in your smoothies, cocktails, oatmeal, salsa… anywhere you can fit them, do it 🙂
I just love eating beautiful food. Don’t you?