Friday, January 30, 2015

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

I have posted this dressing recipe before in conjunction with other recipes like my Quinoa Asparagus Salad but it really is good enough to have a post of it's own. I found myself tired of digging through other posts just to find this little gem so here it is....standing alone and easy to find.

I eat this on everything from salads to fish to tacos. I am slightly obsessed with the cilantro lime combination and this is like summer in a bowl (which truthfully I need a dose of during the lovely gray Pittsburgh winters.)


1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I juiced 2 1/2 limes)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I use Annie'S Naturals Organic Horseradish Mustard)
1-2 tablespoons honey to taste (I prefer to use raw honey.)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
A large handful of fresh cilantro


Combine all ingredients and blend.

And then try not to drink it right from the blender cup.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Turkey Quinoa Enchilada Bake with Homemade Enchilada Sauce (in a slow cooker!)

It is one of my 2015 goals to start running a free group every month on Facebook. One that will focus on health in various ways. Providing support and meal planning and sharing recipes and other things I have learned so far on this journey to being the healthiest, awesomest me I can be.

So to kick it all off, this month I am doing a Rock your Crock group. It is a ten day crash course on clean eating with the focus being on crock pot meals....because (as I have admitted many times in the past) I am a lazy cook and the crock pot is my dream come true.

Walking in the door late from coaching cheer practice or a busy day out and about, it is nice to have dinner ready to go. And with so many of the recipes being of the dump in the crock pot and turn it on variety, it has really become my very favorite appliance.

So today I am bringing you a really yummy recipe that fit the bill for my I want Mexican food cravings. I wouldn't say it is a "true" crock pot recipe as you can't really throw it all together and leave the house for the entire day (it only took 2 hours for mine to be done) BUT there is something to be said for the fact that you don't' even have to turn on the oven. And what I can do with the 2-3 hours it is in the crock pot vs the 30-40 minutes it is in the oven. But it is nice to have a quicker option in case you need to get dinner on the table faster.

Because I do think this would also make an awesome casserole. I would probably bake it at 350 for 30-45 minutes, add the cheese and then bake until the cheese is melted. I would also make sure the quinoa is cooked first, eliminating the extra water.

For this recipe I also made my own enchilada sauce. I had no idea what was in enchilada sauce and how to make it but after about 30 seconds of research I found tons of recipes. And they were so easy. So easy. Add this to the list of things I will probably never buy again because the homemade version is easier and better. Plus in the way I always tend to do things fashion, I was missing some of the ingredients so I subbed what was in my fridge and things still turned out pretty great. You've got to love when that happens.

So here is what I did:

1 lb ground turkey (or you can skip this to make it vegetarian friendly)
1 can rinsed black beans
1 can corn (or you can use frozen corn - about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups rinsed quinoa
1 sweet bell pepper
2 cups fresh salsa
1/2 large onion (red or sweet) minced
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 go of homemade enchilada sauce (or 1 can)

Plus any toppings you like. For us this included limes, shredded cheese, avocado and fresh cilantro. You may want to add plain greek yogurt (a great protein packed sub for sour cream), minced green onion or anything else you like in or on your enchiladas.

** optional add ins: chili powder, small diced jalapeno, chilis

You can also add some spicy. I can't do spicy and I like to make my meals preschooler friendly so I allow my husband to add his own spicy-ness level which works out really well for us.

First melt about a teaspoon of coconut oil in a skillet and brown the turkey. (I seasoned with a little salt and pepper.)

Then put everything into the crock pot. Turn it onto high. Cook for 2-3 hours or until all the liquid is gone and the turkey is cooked through.

Easy Peasy.

I served mine over a mixed green salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette (which is pretty much my favorite dressing of all time.) And it was awesome.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

This was one of those things I had no idea I could make at home. (Kind of like mayonnaise) and once I actually made it, my mind was blown. First it was super easy. And second it tastes so much better. So this enchilada sauce is getting added to the list of things I will never actually buy again.

Another reason making my own is totally worth it? I can also control things like the spicy level and the flavor (which when you live in a house divided over how spicy food should be....this is an awesome thing.) I can make it mild enough that my preschooler and I can eat it and my hubby can add his extra spicy to his hearts content.

When I decided to try this out, I was doing so because I was working with what was in my fridge. So I made a few tweaks and it all worked out really great.

This is what I did:


1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup brown rice flour *
16 oz fresh mild salsa **
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of chili powder (adjust to the level of spicy you like)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a saucepan until melted. Whisk in the flour until combined.

Stir in salsa (or tomatoes), water, spices and syrup (so all the remaining ingredients). Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes).

And that's it. Super easy.

* I used brown rice flour to make this gluten free (and because I had it on hand.) If you are not avoiding gluten feel free to use all-purpose flour

**This is a perfect example of using what I had in my fridge. I really want to try this again using roasted tomatoes and onions from my farm share this summer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Shakeology and Pregnancy: The great Vitamin A debate

The biggest question I have received since I made my pregnancy public (at least for those who don't see me everyday and kind of figured it out) is "What are you doing about your shakes?"

And that question plagued me the minute I saw two little lines pop up on the pregnancy test. So I put my advanced English degree to use and started doing research. I started with my friend Katy who I knew drank shakeo during her second pregnancy. I asked her how she approached her doctor and her doctor's response. I wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed when I headed to my first appointment.

The other thing I really wanted to figure out WHY some doctors were clearing it as totally fine and
others were telling women to hold off and not drink it during pregnancy.  Was it that some doctors aren't familiar with the product and ALL the ingredients and really didn't have the time to dig into it so they were saying no just in case? Or were there real issues to be concerned about and maybe these doctors knew more about that. Because dealing with certain herbs and other ingredients we don't normally use can be tricky. Studies aren't done on pregnant women so when there is a question and no one really knows the answer, everyone aires on the side of caution....which makes sense.

BUT if shakeology was so good for me daily before, why shouldn't it be amazing for me during pregnancy?

And should I wait until my doctor's appointment to see if they are cleared or keep taking them until I can talk to my doctor?

So many many possible answers and reasons. Seriously....motherhood starts the minute you pee on a stick and it says pregnant. And it doesn't get any easier.

So I dug in and this is what I found:

When I asked my previously pregnant colleagues, those that had doctors that said no to shakeology during pregnancy did so due to the levels of Vitamin A. And for good reason....too much vitamin A has been linked to birth defects like cleft lip, cleft palate,  hydrocephalus (water on the brain) or major heart malformations.  (For more information on Vitamin A and the study done at the Boston University School of Medicine click here.) 

BUT there is a difference in the type of vitamin A you are getting (which the above article also states.) Vitamin A from animal sources (liver is the biggest source and is not recommended to eat during pregnancy but it is also found in fish oil, fish and seafood, dairy and fortified cereal.) and preformed vitamin A (which your body uses directly and is also known as retinol) is responsible for the birth defects while vitamin A derived from carotenoids (which your body converts to vitamin A and includes beta carotene) is you can munch carrots and other vitamin A rich fruits and veggies to your hearts content. 

With all the scary problems listed above why not avoid vitamin A altogether? Well it is kind of important for mom and baby. It helps with embryonic growth (source). It's important for mom because it helps with tissue repair (important post partum!) and also supports vision and a healthy immune system.

So what kind of vitamin A is in shakeology? 

The whey blends of shakeology (Chocolate, Vanilla, Greenberry and Strawberry) are fortified which makes it easy to list all the vitamin amounts. (Yay consistency!) Chocolate, Greenberry and Strawberry all contain 5,000 IU of vitamin A sourced from beta-carotene and Vanilla has 500 IU. This is only so it doesn't cause issues in the coloration due to it being derived from beta-carotene (which is what makes carrots and pumpkins orange.)

Below is the nutritional label from chocolate shakeology. I circled the vitamin A content in pink so it was easy to find.

But I drink vegan shakeology and it isn't fortified....

And I do. I don't do well with diary so I drink the vegan formula which made this whole thing a lot trickier.

Well it did and only at first.

The reason that vegan shakeology does not have the vitamins and minerals listed on the packaging is because those are derived from whole foods. Which, was one of the reasons I loved the vegan formula so much in the first place.

Just because there aren't added vitamins, doesn't mean there aren't any vitamins at all. I have been drinking vegan shakeology for almost two years and have noticed many benefits, one being that I don't get sick as often as I used to.

So what did my* doctor say....

She pretty much told me all I need to do is add a folate supplement (or folic acid, I chose to take folate because it is the natural form of folic acid. Folate is what is found in food where folic acid is the synthetic version. I found a pretty reputable brand on Amazon that wasn't very expensive.)

She also told me that since I had issues with prenatals making me sick during my last pregnancy, Shakeology may even be a better option for me than a prenatal would. I really had to play with when to take my prenatal last time. It would make me extremely nauseous. This time I didn't have that issue at all. I made sure I took my shake everyday. I did make it more of a snack though instead of having
it as a meal replacement. I found that I was hungrier (I mean growing a whole new person does require a lot of energy and this way I was getting the extra calories I needed for a healthy pregnancy.)

Interested in talking to your doctor about Shakeology? Here is a great resource to get the conversation started. Click here to download.

* This was MY doctor's opinion for MY pregnancy. Everyone is different and has different circumstances which make all of our pregnancies different. If you are curious about Vitamin A in pregnancy, Shakeology during pregnancy or have any pregnancy questions you need to talk to YOUR doctor(s). They know your history and what will be best for you and your growing family. I am not a doctor and this post is just strictly for sharing my experience.

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