You’ve seen it in a gosh darn lot of my recipes, and you may be scratching your head wondering why the heck I’m adding nutritional yeast to my food. Before I knew about the beautiful benefits of nutritional yeast, I thought it was some nasty food additive that would taste bland, and well, yeasty.
Watch my video to learn everything you need to know about nutritional yeast! You can also reference the below article if you need to refer back to any information or would like to look into the studies related to this topic.
What Is Nutritional Yeast? - YouTube
Turns out, this type of inactive yeast is now a staple in my pantry and an ingredient that I use all the flippin’ time. So if you’ve been wondering to yourself what in the world nutritional yeast is when you go to make one of my recipes, then I’m here to give you the complete guide to one of my favorite healthy ingredients.
What Is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast starts out as an organism from the fungi family that grows on molasses and then is harvested and dried with heat to deactivate it. You know how baking yeast has the purpose of fluffing up baked goods? That’s because it’s active. So when nutritional yeast is deactivated, that means it does not have any sort of leavening ability. PHEW – cause I used to be afraid that it would for sure bloat up my belly.
Don’t Get It Confused With Brewer’s or Bakers Yeast.
I want to make sure this is loud and clear one more time. Nutritional yeast is not baking yeast or brewer’s yeast. So please do not think you can interchange the two. Do not use brewer’s yeast in your recipes that call for nutritional yeast because then it will cause an ugly science experiment in your kitchen. Likewise, do not use nutritional yeast in your baked goods thinking that it will have leavening power, because it will not. You can definitely still add it to baked goods like muffins, but it wont have any “fluff it up” effect.
Benefits Of Nutritional Yeast.
Obviously this yeast is packed with benefits (hence its name). I’m going to break each health benefit down into easy reads below:
Packed with vitamins and minerals: It contains so many vitamins and minerals that have beauty boosting properties – which I love – like selenium, zinc, folic acid, and B Vitamins. I want to also highlight the fact that the fortified version contains Vitamin B12 which is a B Vitamin that is hard to come by when you’re a strict vegan. So nutritional yeast is the perfect addition to reach your daily dose of vitamins. Make sure that you read the labels of different brands before you buy since some do not contain vitamin b12 and not all are gluten free.
It’s also a great plant based source of protein. It contains 18 amino acids and almost half of them are specific ones that your body cannot produce on its own.
Can improve your digestive system. Studies have concluded that nutritional yeast can be useful for when you’re experiencing various types of digestive upsets from diarrhea to constipation. The probiotic content of nutritional yeast is what you can attribute this to.
Can help boost your immune system. One of the studies that are provided at the end of this article discuss how pigs who are supplemented with nutritional yeast experience a lowered level of infection. There are certain compounds in nutritional yeast that help boost and enhance your immune system.
Keeps your hair skin and nails healthy. One of my favorite benefits of nutritional yeast is the beauty benefits of course. Because nutritional yeast contains B vitamins, especially biotin, the hair skin and nails get these nutrients that promotes cellular growth. These vitamins help keep your nails and hair growing strong, and your skin staying resilient to redness and skin irritations.
How Do I Use Nutritional Yeast?
FLAVORRRRR. Yes everyone, nutritional yeast has a nutty “cheesy” and “umami” flavor that gives dishes like soups, salad dressings (and even popcorn) a great savory taste. I am recently dairy free so this is why I use nutritional yeast in pretty much everything. To show examples of it’s great variety:
You can use it to create vegan cheeses like this creamy cheese sauce that is the PERFECT blend to make spinach dip with.
And they all around just make everything taste great.
Where Can I Buy it?
You can find nutritional yeast at places like Whole Foods or local health foods stores. It’s not main stream enough to be in Jewel or TJ’s — I hope soon though. You can also find a whole bunch of brands on Amazon like Braggs or Hoosier Hill Farms.
How Do You Use It?
If you also love nutritional yeast like I do, what are some of your favorite ways to use this ingredient? Share in the comments below!
If you’re always on the go, taking care of kids, juggling a career and a side hustle, or dating (that’s like another full time job, TBH), then the last thing you want to think about is a complicated recipe. This one pan shrimp asparagus mushroom skillet can be ready in a flash and gives you a healthy dose of all your nutritional needs: healthy fat, protein, carbs, and those essential micronutrients.
I recently spoke about medicinal mushrooms, so I’m on a current (ok I’ve always been on) a mushroom kick. Mushrooms are one of my favorite veggies when sourced from an organic source since they pull a lot of their nutrients from the soil. They contain zinc and iron, two minerals that are linked to beauty boosting benefits as well as helping carry oxygen through your body via the blood – so assisting with healthy circulation. They also are packed with B vitamins which also are known to help with energy levels and assisting with the metabolism of carbs and fat. So many good things to know about mushrooms!
Asparagus as I’ve mentioned time and time again acts as a natural diuretic and is packed with antioxidants and gut health benefits. The red onion is added in there for flavor, and the shrimp is your protein source! I’ve been making quite a bit of recipes with shrimp lately as the already cooked variety is prepared by running cold water to thaw, and can be sautéed with flavoring in a jiffy. If you are vegetarian, you leave out the shrimp of course and make a heaping bowl of mushroom/asparagus deliciousness.
What’s so remarkable about Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)? This special vinegar is made by the fermentation of apple cider and has long been touted as a health & beauty tonic. Some of the most promising research has shown favorable results when it comes to blood sugar levels, cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although there are no official recommendations to use ACV from the medical community (as the research is ongoing), it still remains wildly popular with users who swear by its medicinal properties, including a cure for indigestion and bad breath.
This tangy elixer is either loved or hated by those who try it. I always recommend diluting it in water or another solution like fruit juice if you are new to consuming ACV. After a while though, you may feel confident enough to take a straight shot of it. Here’s why I love incorporating ACV into my wellness routine:
The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Weight management – One of the main reasons why apple cider vinegar so is so widely loved in the wellness community is the fact that it is consistently discussed as a weight loss aid. There is one study that supports consuming ACV helped with curbing appetites, losing weight, and even lowering fats in the blood. Some also believe that it helps reduce sugar cravings which we all know can lead to straying away from a regular healthy diet. Other recent studies have shown that ACV also helps increase the amount of fat and energy burned after consumed, as well as decreasing fat storage.
Diabetes – Medical research has shown that ACV can have favorable changes in blood sugar levels; link to research here. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which studies show helps reduce insulin and blood sugar levels after consuming a high-glycemic meal.
Anti-Fungal – The anti-fungal properties of ACV when taken internally can help with candida (or yeast buildup) in the gut. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains probiotics which help protect your gut and also improve digestion as well.
Cholesterol – Although promising research in rats has shown that ACV may increase the HDL “good” cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels, research has not been proven with humans. This research showed high levels of pectin which seemed to be a contributing factor to lowering cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure – Another study in rats found that ACV could lower high blood pressure. It’s the potassium content that seems to make ACV work. It is believed that potassium in the vinegar balances the sodium level; and the magnesium in the vinegar helps to relax blood vessel walls and thereby lowers blood pressure.
Indigestion – I was curious how ACV could cure acid indigestion when it is “acidic”. Well I found out that even though it is acidic, it is also “alkaline-forming”. In theory it weakens the hydrochloric acid in the stomach because it alkalizes and brings the body back to its acid/alkaline balance. The fact that ACV also contains probiotics helps with indigestion but when you get cloudy raw probiotic, there are also prebiotics found in these types of bottled vinegars as well.
Increases nutrient absorption: Because of the probiotic, prebiotic, and acetic acid content of ACV, the ability to absorb nutrients from food is increased. This is why I love adding an apple cider vinegar tonic to my morning routine to get my digestion ready for maximum absorption each day!
Bad Breath – Used as an antiseptic, the theory is that ACV can reduce bad breath by breaking down plaque and bacteria. Always mix ACV with water when using as a mouthwash, then rinse again with water, as it is acidic and can cause tooth enamel deterioration with long term use.
What to look for when selecting apple cider vinegar
Adding raw, unfiltered ACV to your diet is best vs. consuming pills or supplements. When shopping for pure apple cider vinegar, look for brands that are labeled “unfiltered” as the cloudy consistency of the vinegar is what includes all the good ingredients: probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes and more!
How do I consume apple cider vinegar?
If you are just jumping on the ACV bandwagon, you can start off by diluting the vinegar in a tonic. A simple tonic I love to make mixes together 8oz of water, half a lemon, 2 tsp of ACV, monk fruit extract or stevia (or raw honey), and fresh ginger mulled at the bottom. You can sip on this in the morning before breakfast and after your coffee, if you drink coffee, to rev up your metabolism and reap the benefits of ACV!
Other easy ways to add ACV to your diet is by making an oil and vinegar dressing for your salads or coleslaw recipes, adding it to your soups; or taking 1 to 2 tsps. of ACV with a smoothie, juice or water each day.
Warning: ACV is highly acidic and may interact with certain medications and supplements. Consult with your physician as to the possibility of any side effects or safety concerns with prolonged use.
One of my favorite ways to include more plant-based meals into my diet is by cooking Mexican cuisine that is vegetarian or vegan. Using Mexican/Latin spices somehow just makes *anything* taste fantastic. These creamy, filling, and spicy pinto bean vegan stuffed poblano peppers are easy to make and are super satisfying!
These pinto bean vegan stuffed poblano peppers are filled with all sorts of nutrient dense ingredients. The pinto beans provide fiber and protein, the diced tomatoes are full of antioxidants like lycopene (did you know that cooked tomatoes and tomato sauce increase the lycopene content?), and the dairy free cheese is made of coconut milk so you don’t get the nutty flavor as you do with nut based substitute cheese.
I will say that this recipe does require a few steps (you have to broil the peppers first and then add the stuffing) but the additional step to this recipe is well worth it! I like making these when I actually have time to linger in the kitchen. Having a pair of these pinto bean vegan stuffed poblano peppers is essentially a full meal since you have fiber from the beans, carbs from the corn, antioxidants and vitamins from the pepper and tomato, and healthy fats from the avocado.
You can also be creative with your toppings as well. Some ideas that pair well with the ingredients could be cilantro, avocado, enchilada sauce, salsa, or sour cream and green onion. I use Toffuti sour cream as a dairy substitute if you are dairy free.
The best part about this recipe? It’s healthy and plant-based!
4 large poblano peppers
3 tbsp coconut oil (divided)
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves diced
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) bag frozen grilled corn
1 1/4 cups diced tomatoes no salt added
1 avocado pitted and diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 cup shredded So Delicious! Lactose Free Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion, for garnish
Dollop of sour cream or sour cream substitute, for garnish
Preheat oven to high broil and place one of the racks at the top of the oven. Brush or use your finger to lightly spread 1-2 tbsp coconut oil around each pepper.
Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for about 2 minutes each side or until the peppers are starting to blister.
Remove the peppers and change the oven from broil to bake and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Once the peppers have cooled down, peel away the blistered skin and cut out the stem, then cut a slit down one side of the pepper and spoon out the remaining seeds. Set the peppers aside.
In a large pan, drizzle with coconut oil and add onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes on medium heat until translucent. Then add the frozen corn and saute until they are thawed and starting to cook.
Add the beans, tomatoes and seasonings and continue to saute and adjust your seasonings as desired.
Place the peppers in a large baking tray on aluminum foil and scoop large amounts of the filling into each pepper with a spoon or fork.
Bake the peppers for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are completely tender. Once removed, let them cool and top with your desired toppings. Serve and enjoy!
These extremely easy to make no bake peanut butter coconut and oat energy balls only require 7 ingredients and can be made in 10 minutes or less! They are dairy free, full of nutrients and can definitely satisfy your sweet tooth!
I’m officially creating these recipes after my due date with lil bub! I’m over 40 weeks pregnant and wondering what the heck this baby is up to in my belly, and why he isn’t anxious to come out into the world to meet us?! Oh the anticipation.
One thing I’ve been craving in my third trimester that I haven’t been craving *at all* throughout the entire rest of my pregnancy: baked goods. Well, baked goods and chocolates, and ice cream…pretty much all sweets and desserts. So I’ve been trying to make healthier baked goods and sweets in an attempt to prevent myself from completely going off the deep end and diving head first into a tub of chocolate frosting.
These no bake peanut butter coconut and oat energy balls are literally so simple to make, that I’m pretty sure even a toddler could make them. The only equipment you need is a food processor or high quality high speed blender (but for the love of god if you do decide to make these with your kids, you do the blending for safety purposes).
Here’s how I made these energy balls health conscious:
— Instead of flour, I used rolled oats as a base to give these energy balls some gluten-free substance packed with healthy fiber and carbs as well as great sources of vitamins and minerals like manganese, magnesium, vitamin B1, and antioxidants!
— I made sure to source organic peanut butter (because some common PB brands are high in preservatives and the process to roast their peanuts aren’t the healthiest), you can also use almond butter or cashew butter instead if you desire.
— I used raw honey as my sweetener, but depending on the type of sweetener you like you can use coconut sap, dates, or even pure maple syrup. I love honey for its microbial and antiviral properties.
— The coconut oil and coconut chips gives these energy balls a hefty dose of healthy fats and can help keep you feeling full when you munch on these as a snack!
These no bake peanut butter coconut and oat energy balls are ideal to make as a snack or health conscious sweet treat, and I am confident that your kids will love them too! The one thing I love about making energy balls is that you can be intuitive with your ingredients and can always alter serving sizes and ingredients to make these unique to what you are craving. I hope you enjoy making these!
Add all ingredients besides the cacao chips in a food processor and pulse until fully blended. The mixture should be thick enough to mold into tiny balls. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips, and fold in the chips with your hands. Then mold tiny balls in your palm and place on a plate - transfer the balls to a freezer for about 10-15 minutes to harden and enjoy! Store in the fridge to keep fresh.
This buttery, Parmesan cauliflower rice with garlicky chicken is SO DELICIOUS. Made with warming flavors of paprika, sriracha sauce, Brummel & Brown buttery yogurt spread, and warming herbs and spices. Perfect for comforting fall recipes or to freeze in batches!
Oh one skillet meals, how I love you so. I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and let me tell you the last thing I want to do is make recipes that require 10 different pots , pans and tools. Mama just wants the simple, easy recipes that are healthy and tasty. So that’s exactly what I’m going to focus on here on out.
One skillet/one casserole/one pot recipes are going to be my new mantra this year, and I’m sure all of you are happy to jump on board this easier recipe band wagon.
So say hello to my first one skillet recipe, an exceptionally flavorful sriracha Parmesan cauliflower rice skillet with garlicky chicken.
NOW for those of you who are plant based eaters, you can simply replace the chicken with tempeh, tofu, or beans. For pescetarians the flavors/marinades work just as well with shrimp – I want to make sure these one skillet / one pot recipes can be super versatile and adapt to any type of dietary guideline.
Here is what I did to make this recipe easier and healthier to whip up.
— I shopped for frozen RICED cauliflower. Pretty much all major grocery stores have opened their doors to frozen riced cauliflower since it’s just such a trend now. PLEASE stock up on frozen riced cauliflower, you will save yourself so much time making rice dishes. No one wants to cook an entire head of cauliflower and then pulse it in a food processor when you can just completely skip this process and throw in already riced cauliflower in your skillet.
— I used Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread to give this recipe an ultra buttery taste, but without unhealthy trans fat and cholesterol that you’d find in real butter. This Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread is made with plant based oils, purified water, and real yogurt! It contains 50% less fat and calories than butter, and has 0 trans fat and 0 cholesterol. I love the rich flavor in the original Brummel & Brown spread and how I can use it in all sorts of recipes. If you want to try out Brummel & Brown for yourself you can grab the digital coupon below offering $1.00 off any (1) Brummel & Brown spread (valid dates: 9/4/18 – 10/13/18) at your local Jewel Osco.
— Everything is created in ONE skillet which means you only need to clean ONE pot – a baby Jesus miracle. Let’s get to the recipe already shall we?
Buttery, Parmesan Cauliflower Rice With Garlicky Chicken
1 package of 16oz frozen or prepared cauliflower rice
2 tbsp Brummel & Brown Spread
1 tbsp sriracha sauce or hot sauce
1/2 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
Juice from 1 lemon
In a large mixing bowl, add the garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, olive oil and vinegar and mix well. Arrange the chicken breasts in the bowl and with your hands or with tongs make sure all the marinade covers the chicken. Leave in the fridge to marinade for about 15 minutes. If desired you can marinade the chicken for up to 3 hours in the fridge before you decide to make this recipe.
In a skillet on low-medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the Brummel & Brown spread. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until the inside of the breasts are no longer pink. I like to cut the chicken into smaller strips or peaces to ensure that they are fully cooked. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the breasts from the skillet and set aside on a serving plate. Do not drain the pan of any leftover marinade or juices.
In the same skillet, add the diced onion and garlic and cook on medium heat until they are translucent. Add the hot sauce and another tbsp of Brummel & Brown if you desire, as well as juice from half of the lemon and mix well.
Add the frozen cauliflower and chicken/vegetable stock and stir. Let it all cook for about three minutes and then add the remaining juice from the other half of the lemon, parmesan cheese, and parsley.
Return the chicken breasts to the skillet to reheat. Serve with extra parmesan or black peppercorns and enjoy!
If you like this recipe, be sure to share your images on Instagram or Twitter and tag us at @balanced_babe or use the hashtag #balancedbabe!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Mirum. All opinions are my own.
My, how I love my soups. I’m starting to experiment with more and more these days and my current obsession is a creamy yet dairy free split pea soup. I had split pea soup many times growing up. The nostalgia of sitting in my parent’s kitchen slurping up this delicacy before I make my way to imagination town (with my animal figurines) is still vivid in my head.
Because split peas are a glorious source of fiber, they help you stay fuller longer and may help with weight control. 1 cup of peas (which is about what is in a serving of my split pea soup), has about 230 calories which makes it a great low calorie meal to pair with a salad or another plant based dish. These peas are also very low in the Glycemic index (if you don’t know what the Glycemic index is, you can read my article discussing it here) and a great source of plant based protein (1 cup has around 16 grams of protein). Finally, one of my favorite trace minerals for healthy looking skin, zinc, is found in split peas too.
Now there’s not a lot of zinc in split peas; 1 cup has 2mg. Yet the recommended daily dose of zinc for women is 8mg. So even having 2 bowls of soup throughout the day gives you %50 of your RDA (recommended daily allowance). Let me write a quick little love letter to zinc and why I love it so:
Beauty Benefits of Zinc:
Acts as an antioxidant by protecting our skin from free radical damage and irritation;
May ward off acne flare ups: YES! Rejoice ladies. Zinc may prevent blemish flare ups by the regulation of cellular turnover. Since it works as an inflammation defense mechanism, it may help with keeping major flare ups at bay;
Acts as one of the enzymes that maintains healthy collagen levels in the body;
Now that I’ve got you all excited about eating zinc, let’s jump into my weight loss warrior split pea soup recipe!
Weight Loss Warrior Split Pea Soup
4 cups of dried split peas
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
6 cups water
2 vegetable bouillons
1 bay leaf
black pepper + Himalayan salt to taste
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
In a medium sized pot, bring the dried split peas in about 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes until the beans are tender
In a sauteing pan, heat up diced onion and garlic until translucent, about 7 minutes
Add 4 more cups of water and the bouillon cubes (try to find low sodium bouillon cubes)
Add the onion and garlic, bay leaf, and nutritional yeast
Simmer for another 20 minutes to let all the flavors settle
In a food processor, blend small batches of the soup until you get a creamy texture
Place in serving bowls, top with salt and pepper, and enjoy!
If you try out this recipe, let me know how you enjoy it!
This healthy, protein packed Greek lemon chicken bowl is a super easy weeknight lunch or dinner to throw together and eat throughout the week. Packed with zesty Greek flavors, cucumbers, homemade tzatziki sauce and marinated chicken. It’s also the perfect way to use leftover cucumber!
The past few weeks I’ve been feeling the effects of the third trimester, hard. Almost EVERYTHING makes me tired, and I mean every single activity I do. Take the dog for a morning walk? Tired. Make lunch? Tired. Eat a salad? Tired. Third trimester fatigue is real folks. Not only is third trimester fatigue real, but pregnancy brain is also freak-a-leakin real! Not only do I feel like I have short term memory loss, but I feel as if there is a general fog in my brain and that I can’t muster up creative juices like I regularly do. Extremely frustrating, but my new mantra is *go with the flow* so I’m trying not to plan out my entire day to the T and work when I feel energized and creative. The end result of this mess? More cooking, less thinking.
I have been taking the time to cook more now that I’m working from home again (thank you JESUS – I went almost a year working in an office recently, and I can’t even TELL you how much I missed working from home). I’ve been stocking up on fresh cucumbers and zucchini from the farmers market in my hood and making creamy chickpea cucumber crunch salads, hearty zucchini boats, and zucchini noodle Alfredo. All healthy, and d@mn delicious.
I’ve been on a meal prep kick lately since cooking 3 meals a day makes me tired, so I try to make everything in batches and spend one day a week making meals ahead of time. This week I prepped a bunch of marinated chicken breasts, tzatziki sauce for dipping veggies, dicing my cucumbers to throw in salads and more, so creating this hearty Greek lemon chicken bowl was SO extremely easy since I had a lot of the ingredients already prepared.
Meal Prep Greek Lemon Chicken Bowl
If you make larger batches of chicken, cucumber salad, sauces and grains, you can easily prepare multiple servings of this Greek lemon chicken bowl by storing in meal prep containers. Just make sure you allow for this recipe to cool before you store in the fridge.
If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, you can easily use chickpeas, hummus, or add roasted zucchini + eggplant instead of chicken.
If you create this recipe yourself, we’d love to see your variations on Instagram or Facebook – so don’t forget to tag #balancedbabe so that we can share on our platforms!
Himalayan salt and black peppercorn pepper to taste
For the Tzatziki sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler and then chopped
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
juice from 1/2 lemon
Quick dash of olive oil
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
For the cucumber salad
1 cucumber diced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
swirl of olive oil
2 tbsp dried mint
Black peppercorn pepper to taste
sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder
In a medium/large sized mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, and chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinade in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Once ready to prepare, heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat and add the chicken. Flip the chicken as it cooks for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside and chop into pieces.
In the same skillet, there should still be some marinade left over from the chicken. If there is not a lot, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and add the cooked rice and cook until well heated. You can sprinkle a few additional ingredients in the rice if desired. Once cooked, set aside and cover to keep warm.
To make the tzatziki sauce, peel and dice the cucumber and then combine the cucumber with Greek yogurt, dill, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper; set aside.
To make the cucumber salad, combine cucumbers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried mint, pepper, garlic and onion powder in a small bowl and set aside.
In meal prep containers or in serving bowls, divide up the rice and top with tzatziki, cucumber salad, and chicken. Sprinkle fresh diced red onion and green onion for additional flavor.
Living a Balanced Babe lifestyle means that you don’t have to sacrifice flavors that you’re craving! By creating recipe swaps so that you can still enjoy mac and cheese (but in a healthier way), you can still feel like you’re eating whatever you’re tummy is guiding you towards. Although I’m a huge advocate for balancing your meals with indulgences (sometimes you want REAL Kraft mac and cheese – oooo ya mama), I still like to find ways to make eating healthy – delicious!
Since we are in peak summer grilling and entertaining season, I’ve created a few healthier summer entertaining recipes that I shared on ABC’s Windy City Live – and of course I have to share the segment and recipes here too!
When I’m having friends or family over for a party or gathering, I love making summer favorites like burgers, baked beans and different salads. So today’s menu consists of a healthier burger, low sugar baked beans, vegetable loaded chickpea pasta salad, lightened up corn bread, and a slimmed down blueberry pie. Just writing about this now makes me want to eat this feast. Since all of the recipes can be found directly on WCL’s segment page , I’m going to quickly highlight why each of these recipes are better for your bellies and your waistline.
Healthier Turkey Burgers:
For those that are looking to cut out red meat consumption or slowly transition to eating a plant based lifestyle, I always recommend slowly reducing your meat and poultry intake. This burger recipe calls for half turkey meat and half quinoa, but it still tastes like a true turkey burger! The quinoa also ensures that there is protein in the burger patty, and also adds a bit of hydration to the patty as well. The recipe also calls for vegetables in the patty like carrots and kale, because we always want to find sneaky ways to add veggies to our recipes! If you want to cut down on carbs, you can create an open faced burger, or go completely bun-less and use bib lettuce as a wrap instead!
Low Sugar Baked Beans:
A lot of baked beans recipes are LOADED with sugar. Either they call for a lot of brown sugar, or use BBQ sauce or ketchup which are two condiments that have a ton of hidden sugar in them. I make a blend of tomato sauce and a bit of maple syrup to sweeten it up (a healthier way to sweeten up your meals) which drastically reduces the sugar content. I use kidney beans and butter beans to mix it up and throw all of the ingredients in a crock pot so that you can go to work, and come home to delicious low sugar baked beans!
Lightened Up Cornbread:
Cornbread typically calls for milk, cream, butter, white flour, sugar, and pretty much all the baking ingredients with no nutritional value. I swapped out a ton of ingredients to make this cornbread recipe completely dairy free! I used coconut oil instead of butter (you can also use olive oil if you don’t like coconut oil), a 1/4 cup of mashed banana instead of an egg, and almond milk instead of cows milk. These swaps make the cornbread super moist and slightly sweet (which I think makes it taste extra delicious). You’ll also get nutrients with every bite – something you don’t get with regular cornbread!
Vegetable Loaded Chickpea Pasta Salad:
Usually pasta salad is all pasta, a tiny bit of veggies, and a ton of mayonnaise or fatty dressing. I slimmed down this version quite a bit by making my own Italian dressing using simple ingredients (it cuts down the sodium drastically), I added a ton of crunchy veggies to give it nutrients, and I used chickpea noodles instead of white flour noodles to give this dish some extra protein! Now this is definitely a pasta salad recipe that will not leave you feeling guilty.
Slimmed Down Blueberry Pie:
One thing I love eating in the summer, PIE! Especially berry pies. This recipe is a no-brainer to make and is really made with natural ingredients. I opted to leave off the top pie crust to obviously cut down on crust, I used honey as my sweetener for the berry filling mix instead of sugar. Even though honey still has a high sugar content, it still comes with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which in my opinion is better to consume than regular sugar that has no nutritional value!
What are your favorite summer grilling and entertaining recipes? I’m always on a mission to make traditional recipes lighter and healthier while still maintaining flavor, so send along some recipes you want me to swap out!
Whenever I’m dining out and order a salad, I always think to myself “Oh EFF yea I can totally make this at home”, but once I’m home and ready to make a salad my mind goes completely blank as to what to put into it.
Does anyone else have this problem, or only me?!
Now that it’s summertime I naturally crave lighter, cooler meals like smoothies and salads, but I don’t want to be eating the same old chopped cucumber Greek salad time and time again.
What typically helps me get creative in the kitchen or reminds me of all the delicious recipes I make is to create quick and simple guides, such as this one: 11 ways to make your salad d*mn delicious. I hope this helps you eat boat loads of salads until the end of time!
11 Tricks to make your salad taste delicious
1. Dressings and juices matter
Whenever I’m cooking ANYTHING I always need to add some sort of tang. This is usually lemon or lime juice/zest, apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar. I feel like adding some sort of tartness or tang just completes a recipe (salads included!). So next time you whip up a salad, try adding some lemon/lime juice to your next cobb inspired salad. Dressings also greatly influence whatever recipe you are whipping up. Some of my favorite flavor combinations are: lemon and homey, balsamic and oil, avocado oil and garlic..the list can go on and on. I love making this dairy free Caesar salad dressing too!
2. Add extra flavor with garlic, onions and shallots
Shallots to me are one of my favorites, and really seem to bring together all the flavors of a salad. I also like to use fresh herbs vs. dried ones since the flavor is stronger. One of my favorite fresh herbs to use is basil in all of my cobb/Italian inspired salads and mint in my Mediterranean salads.
3. Throw in pesto
I absolutely love the flavor of pesto and I love adding it to my salads! I add it to grilled chicken salads, mozzarella salads, and chilled gluten free pasta salads with cucumber, artichoke and bell peppers.
5. Focus on a variety of veggies
These could be roasted veggies, diced cucumber and peppers, or any of your favorite go-to’s. It’s also important that you season whatever veggies you add to your salad as well to ensure you get bursting flavor in every bite. This could be a simple sprinkle of Himalayan salt and pepper, or your favorite spice blend.
6. Turn leftovers into a salad
Let’s say you make grilled salmon with a side of asparagus for dinner, but have leftover salmon. You could use the chilled leftovers the next day to make a salmon Nicoise salad. Same goes for if you have a healthy taco night and use the leftover meat or veggie filling the next day for a Mexican inspired salad. Pretty much any can be transformed into a salad the next day with the help of leafy greens!
7. Make sure your salad is crunchy
For some reason I always find crunchy salads to be more satisfying. You can step up your crunch game with sugar snap peas, peppers, apples or gluten free tortilla strips. Healthier croutons and nuts will also give it that extra crunch. Some of my favorite nuts to add to salads are pecans, walnuts and pine nuts!
8. Don’t be afraid to add grains
I know some folks who like to eat salads because they are trying to go low carb. For many, cutting carbohydrates out completely can be a challenge! Instead, add a little bit of healthy grains to your salad (without the post carb crash). I like adding a scoop of quinoa, beans, and even brown rice to certain salads to make it heartier, more satisfying and larger!
9. Always make sure to add a protein
This could be salmon, shrimp, tofu, beans, nuts, chicken, steak, hard boiled eggs, whatever type of protein you desire! Not only will adding protein to every salad make it taste more fulfilling, it will help you stay full until your next meal. As many of us know, protein should always be the star of the show.
10. Add some sort of fat
This could be avocado, cheese, nuts, turkey bacon. Adding fat to your salads helps ensure that you are getting all of your macro-nutrients (and micro-nutrients from the produce) into one bowl. I love adding avocado in the form of dressing since it can really add extra creaminess to your salad. My favorite cheeses to add to salads are goats cheese and sheep milk feta cheese (they are easier to digest).
11. Don’t be afraid of fruit
Some of my FAVORITE salads incorporate fruit! I love making apple, pecan, feta, balsamic spinach salad and I also love to incorporate mandarins for a mandarin, berries and goat cheese salad. Whatever fruit is in season, you can add it to a salad! You can start off by whipping up with watermelon avocado salad.
What are your favorite tasty salad hacks? Share your favorite recipes with me!