Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Turkey Breast with Roasted Broccolini (image via Bon Appétit)

As a staunch proponent of whole, unprocessed foods and balanced meals, I’m certainly not a “cleanse” girl. But a two-week cleanse filled with foodie favorites like pork tenderloin, chia pudding, and chocolate bark? Now I’m listening!

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Morning Barley with Squash, Date, and Lemon Compote (image via Bon Appétit)

The Food Lover’s Cleanse, dreamed up by the folks at at Bon Appétit, isn’t really a cleanse so much as a boot camp for cooking regularly and getting familiar with some of the lesser-known “superfoods”. Now in it’s fifth year, this creative meal plan demonstrates the growing overlap between nutritious and delicious. I only can’t believe that I’m just now learning about it (thanks to Emily, and her intriguing healthy lunches)!

Even though the 2015 Food Lover’s Cleanse wrapped up in mid-January, you can still access all of the delicious recipes online. Here is a one-page overview of the menu for all two weeks, a printable PDF of all this year’s recipes, and printable shopping list. Prefer to do kitchen prep ahead of time? This is a link to big-batch recipes that are used throughout the cleanse.

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

 images via Bon Appétit

While your grocery bill might suffer (superfoods don’t come cheap these days), it really does make sense to follow the menu plan to it’s fullest, as many ingredients are repurposed throughout the cleanse. For example, barley makes an appearance in a dinner pilaf with leeks and lemon, and then is prepared for breakfast the next morning with squash, date, and lemon compote. Similarly, chevre cheese is served alongside a sliced pear as a snack one day, and then shows up in an egg scramble with caramelized onions the next morning. With quality ingredients like these, the attention to waste reduction is much appreciated!

That being said,  if you’re simply looking for nuggets of inspiration to escape your culinary comfort zone, the recipes can also stand alone. Seeing as my grocery budget is pretty maxed out at 2-3 recipes per week, I probably won’t follow the cleanse to a T (at least not this year). However, browsing the menu plan certainly gave me ideas for recipes that I want to make and foods that I want to cook with. Have you tried any recipes from the Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse? Do tell!

– Kelly

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

How To Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

Once Valentine’s Day rolls around, my sweet tooth starts kicking hard. But I’m sure not gonna blow it on a tasteless box of candy hearts, or stale chocolate with mystery fillings. Chocolate dipped fruit, on the other hand, is something I can rarely pass up.

Fresh berries are an obvious health pick, but even with a coating of dark chocolate, these babies aren’t as sinful as they look. After all, with less sugar and more polyphenols than milky or white varieties, dark chocolate (in moderation – such as in this recipe) can even be good for the heart.

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step).png

For this reason, chocolate covered strawberries are my go-to Valentine’s treat. (They are even the perfect ruby red color!) But at outrageous prices ($45 for one dozen?! No thank you!), I much prefer to make my own.

A pint of 24 organic strawberries (out of season) set me back $6.99 at Whole Foods, and then I spent an additional $4.29 on 67% dark chocolate baking chunks, and $3.99 on the white chocolate chips. So the grand total came to $15.27 for TWO DOZEN chocolate covered organic strawberries, with plenty of chocolate left over to make a second batch. Not only are homemade chocolate covered strawberries a bargain, they are actually quite simple to make! Here’s how it works…

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

  • Required ingredients: strawberries (I used one pint, or 24 strawberries), dark chocolate chips or chunks (I used 1.5 cups dark chocolate chunks)
  • Required equipment: paper towels, wax paper, baking sheet, small pot of water, small/medium glass bowl
  • Optional ingredients: sprinkles, crushed nuts, or white chocolate for drizzling (I used 0.5 cups white chocolate chips, a few sprinkles, and less than 0.25 cups hazelnuts, crushed)

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

Wash all strawberries, then dry well with paper towels. If they’re the least bit wet, the chocolate won’t stick as easily.

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then set a glass bowl on top (NOT touching the water) and fill with your dark chocolate chips. This will serve as a make-shift double boiler.

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

Stir your chocolate in the glass bowl over the stove until it melts, but doesn’t burn. Once your chocolate starts melting, feel free to remove the bowl from the heat (as pictured above) or turn the stove down to keep it from burning.

How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Step-by-Step)

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. One by one, dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate, then lay on wax paper to dry. If you wish to roll your strawberries in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or other toppings, do this immediately after dipping, before the chocolate hardens. You may also wish to drizzle white chocolate on top. Simply use the same system that you used to melt the dark chocolate, then dip a spoon in the white chocolate and drizzle back and forth across the strawberries.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Topping Ideas

Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator to harden the chocolate. Once the chocolate hardens (less than an hour), you may store the strawberries in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

How To Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries

– Kelly

 

 

10 Healthy Breakfasts in Under 10 Minutes

People often ask me for healthy breakfast ideas. Even though I eat the same thing nearly every day (see Kelly’s daily oatmeal), the good news is that there are plenty of nutritious options for the morning meal.

1.     Classic oatmeal

Daily Oatmeal

Nine times out of ten, I start my day with old fashioned oatmeal topped with raisins and almonds (see this post for details). Porridge is an ideal breakfast because it’s filling, quick to prepare, and helps keep your cholesterol levels in check and your microbiome happy. (And whether you go for steel-cut or instant, all oats are whole grains.) Plus, oatmeal can be customized to fit just about any flavor profile. If you’re ready to branch out the classic combo pictured above, try adding bananas, blueberries, honey, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, or chia seeds. The sky is the limit! See one of my favorite blogs, The Oatmeal Artist, for more ideas.

2.     Banana Berry Overnight Oatmeal

Banana Berry Overnight Oatmeal

One of the easiest breakfasts just got easier. Instead of preparing your oatmeal morning of, you just throw the ingredients in a jar and let the oats soften overnight. See my Banana Berry Overnight Oatmeal blog post for a step-by-step tutorial. Once you get the ratio down, feel free to experiment. Some of my favorite overnight oatmeal recipes are Skinny Pumpkin Overnight Oats,  Tiramisu Overnight Oatmeal, Applesauce Overnight Oatmeal, and Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal.

3.     Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Shake

Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes -  No sugar

Because some mornings call for chocolate. Right? Right. Just blend 1 frozen banana with 1 Tbsp PB, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder. With protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats, this shake has all major nutrients needed to start your day off right. For more details, and to see an equally healthy Dark Chocolate Mocha Milkshake recipe, check out this post.

4.     Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

While the obnoxious whir of a blender is not what I want to hear first thing every morning, green smoothies are a great choice for many reasons. They’re portable, nutritious, quick, and easily customizable. Note that I said smoothies, NOT juices. My favorite green smoothie recipe is a fresh banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, a large handful of fresh spinach leaves, and 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt. (I don’t use ice because of the frozen berries). I also highly recommend this “Stripped Green Smoothie,” which I make when I have the ingredients on hand.

5.     Whole Wheat Bagel Half with Avocado & Tomatoes, plus Fruit

Half Whole Wheat Bagel with Avocado and Tomatoes, Pear on the Side

Toast half of a whole wheat bagel, then spread with avocado, and top with tomato slices and cracked black pepper. Serve with a pear (or any fruit) on the side. The healthy way to enjoy a bagel is to pick a whole wheat bagel, only eat half, and top it with something nutritious. Yes, avocado has fat, but not the artery-clogging saturated fat that cream cheese is made of. And by only having half of the bagel, the portion size is much more appropriate.

6.     Leftover Veggies & an Egg with Toast

Leftover Veggies + Egg + Toast

Got leftover roasted vegetables? Nuke ’em in the microwave, then top with 1 egg, any way (or scramble them with the egg). Serve with a slice of 100% whole grain toast.

7.     Granola with fruit and yogurt

Healthy Granola

Granola parfaits can be a total calorie bomb, but not if you do it right. The key to keeping this healthy is to use an unsweetened yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farms Organic Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt) and using a lightly sweetened granola (the wheat-free classic granola from Whole Foods Market is totally #dietitianapproved!). Bananas and figs go great with yogurt and granola, but any fruit will do!

8.     English Muffin with Peanut Butter and Bananas

Whole Wheat English Muffin with PB and Bananas

English Muffins are perfectly portioned, which is why I prefer them to regular bread slices or bagels. Just make sure to get a whole grain variety. And when shopping for peanut butter (or almond butter), make sure that the only ingredients are nuts and salt, with no added sugars or oils.

9.     Fruit with Ricotta

Baked Fruit with Ricotta

Top chopped fruit with a generous dollop of part-skim ricotta and cinnamon. This tastes best with leftover baked fruit (I used a mixture of apples, pears, peaches, and pineapples), but fresh fruit will work as well. I have also microwaved a soft pear and achieved similar results. Don’t have ricotta? Cottage cheese is another great substitution. This dish (which was inspired by a Giada recipe) also makes a delicious dessert!

10. Make-ahead Breakfast Bake

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Want a sure-fire way to guarantee a nutritious breakfast? Make it the night before! This Baked Blueberry Oatmeal is my very favorite breakfast bake (and bedtime snack!), but healthy muffins or quick breads are also great make-ahead meals to tackle on weeknights, rather than weekday mornings.

What is your go-to healthy breakfast?

– Kelly