Cauliflower Rice

Whether you are trying to cut carbs to shed a few pesky pounds or you are battling something more serious like celiac disease, cauliflower rice has become quite the phenomenon.   Popular option among dieters and fitness fanatics, cauliflower rice is quite easy to create but often becomes an utter mess throughout the process.

Continuing to help streamline the process of clean eating, Trader Joe's comes to the rescue again with pre-riced cauliflower!  Yes, the most laborious and messy part of making cauliflower rice has been done for you!  

Price of convenience?  At $2.49 for a 16oz bag, they have earned my business.

There are numerous ways to prepare the rice.  

Here is my favorite go-to recipe.  This works well with any kind of chicken, steak or fish and even compliments eggs quite nicely.  It packs a slight asian essence.

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower Rice                                               1 16oz Bag
  • Finely chopped Onion                                      1/4 onion
  • Finely chopped/minced Garlic                        4-5 cloves
  • Coconut Oil                                                      1.5 tbsp
  • Liquid Aminos (soy sauce sub)                       2 tbsp
  • Minced Ginger                                                  1/4 tsp
  • Black ground Pepper                                       1 tsp

The Process:

  • Finely chop onion and garlic
  • Heat large frying pan over Med-High heat
  • Add:  Coconut Oil  -  Onion  -  Garlic  and saute until slightly browned but not burnt
  • Add:  Ginger and stir it into the coconut oil, onions and garlic
  • Add:  Entire bag of Cauliflower Rice and stir thoroughly
  • Add:  Liquid Aminos  -  Pepper  and stir thoroughly
  • Continue frying for roughly 2-3 min or until rice is slightly softened  
  • (do not overcook.  It will turn to mush)

Enjoy!

Got a favorite Cauliflower Rice Recipe?  Share it below in the comments! 

Star Spangled Bacon!

As American as apple pie and Whole30 and Paleo compliant, what better way to celebrate our country's independence than with a batch of perfectly cooked bacon!  

The worst part of bacon however, is undoubtedly the cleanup.  Whether you are battling bacon splatter or simply trying to dispose of leftover grease, bacon can sometimes be more trouble than it's worth.  Try this hassle free method today and rekindle your relationship with bacon.

For more information on how to incorporate bacon into your meal plan stay tuned for subsequent post.  In the meantime, enjoy a fresh piece of perfectly cooked bacon and celebrate independence day.  

Here is how to make hassle free, perfectly cooked bacon.

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Line a baking sheet with tin foil
  • Carefully lay the bacon in the pan close but not overlapping
  • Add roughly 1 cup of water to the pan - just enough evenly touch all bacon but not fully submerged
  • Bake from 20-35 min depending on the thickness of the cut
  • Remove bacon and lay on a paper towel to collect any excess grease.
  • Enjoy!

Trader Joe's $30 Meal-Prep Week

I receive a lot of feedback regarding how difficult it can be to eat clean on a budget.  We often get lost in a sea of propaganda regarding what we should be eating and the terms gluten free and organic start appearing as compounding dollar signs as we wander the supermarket aisles.

This motivated me to see just how little I could spend on my weekly meal prep while not sacrificing quality.  I set out to arguably one of the most well balanced stores when looking at quality versus price, Trader Joe's.  While one can obviously save more by purchasing from bulk retailers, my goal was to make this a one stop shop and not sacrifice quality.  I wanted to find out just how little time, money and effort I could put into eating clean for a week.  

Here is what I purchased:

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh    $6.74
  • Ground Turkey                                   $2.99
  • Ground Turkey                                   $2.99
  • Pork Tenderloin                                 $6.74
  • Raw Kale                                            $1.99
  • Yellow Onion                                     $0.59
  • Brown Rice Medley                           $1.99
  • Frozen Green Beans                         $1.99
  • 2lb Bag of Mini Sweet Potatoes       $1.79
  • Apples                                                                                                                                              $1.50
  • Frozen Green Beans                                                                                                                        $1.99

My second goal of this mission was to create healthy meals as efficiently as possible.

One can do this all on Sunday for their weekly meal prep or do like I did and break it into 2 days.  I opted for 2 days to allow the pork and chicken to marinate and optimize freshness of the food.  

Total time spent cooking and packaging was just over 2 hours.

This post is written with the assumption that you are already in possession of such kitchen basics as: cooking oil, spices etc…

Below I offer several recipe concepts.  For specific recipes, see related posts.

Here is my work flow:

Day 1, 60-70 min

  • Preheat oven 400 degrees
  • Rinse potatoes and lay on a baking sheet
  • Heat frying pan
  • Finely chop 1 onion and 5 cloves of garlic - set aside ½ of the onion
  • Saute onion and garlic with coconut oil
  • Add whole potatoes to oven and bake 40-50 min depending on size
  • Boil roughly 8 cups of water in a large pot
  • Chop ½ apple and set in a blender
  • Add chicken broth to the frying pan as well as ground turkey
  • Add: vinegar, gluten free soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce (optional) pepper and garlic powder to blender
  • Add kale to a steaming basket and place in the boiling pot
  • Continuing chopping pork while stirring the ground turkey
  • Remove Kale and season with coconut oil and sea salt
  • Remove ground turkey and allow to cool
  • Add marinade from blender to the sliced pork
  • Remove potatoes and allow to cool
  • Season chicken with dry rub
  • Store chicken and pork in the refrigerator to be cooked on Day 2
  • Portion and package Turkey, Kale and Potatoes in meal prep containers

5 Meals created

Turkey:  5.5 oz    Sweet Potatoes:  3.0 oz    Kale:  2.0 oz  

Total Macros:  Calories: 542  Protein: 33.1g  /  Carbs: 29.9  /  Fat: 32.4g

Day 2  60 min

  • Remove seasoned chicken and pork from refrigerator
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Add chicken to baking dish with 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Rinse and add rice to pot or rice cooker (stovetop will take 15-20 min)
  • Heat a pot of water to cook green beans
  • Heat a frying pan med-high heat to saute pork
  • Add chicken to oven and bake roughly 40-50 min
  • Add pork to frying pan stirring often
  • Add beans to boiling water.  Remove as soon as water returns to a boil
  • Finish sauteing pork
  • Fluff rice upon completion
  • Season green beans with coconut oil and salt
  • Remove chicken from oven and allow to cool
  • Portion and package Pork, Chicken, Rice and Green Beans

Approx 4 Meals created    

Chicken 5.5 oz    Rice  ⅓ cup cooked     Green Beans ¾ cup

Calories:  531    Protein: 31.4 g  /  Carbs: 39.4 g  /  Fat: 26.6

 

Approx 4 meals created

Pork 5.0 oz    Rice  ⅓ cup cooked    Green Beans  ¾ cup

Calories:  533  Protein: 46.2 g  /  Carbs: 39.4  /  Fat: 18.5

 

Voilà!  There you have it!  Roughly 13 meals created and a few leftover ingredients to save for next week!

The macro-nutrient levels listed above may vary depending on your cooking methods.  Pair these meals with some eggs for breakfast and a protein shake in the afternoon and you’re well on your way to covering to targeted macros for the day!

Living a life empowered means creating systems and routines to meet your health and wellness goals without monopolizing your time or killing your budget.  

Take control of how you eat, feel and live!  

Live an empowered life!




 

 

Empower Smoothie

Do you ever notice how sometimes after making a homemade smoothie you feel lethargic and overfull?  Speaking from personal experience, it is quite common to get carried away when blending a homemade smoothie.  Before you know it, you’ve created a 1200 calorie gut bomb!  I have been working on the following recipe for the past few years.  It provides a good balance between lean protein, fresh greens and healthy fats.  This can be used as a stand alone meal replacement or a post-workout re-booster!

Macro breakdown is approximately:

Calories: 410        Protein: 30g        Carbs: 34g        Fat: 19g

In a high powered blender, add the ingredients in the order they are list and blend to liking.  The above quantities should produce a fairly thick smoothie.  For a thinner texture, add slightly more water or ice.  

Here are a few of my favorite smoothie tools

Cooking Oils

There’s never been a time in history where we’ve had such abundant access to healthy food, natural and organic options and speciality ingredients sourced from deep within some long forgotten rainforest that we’ve never heard of.  With so many options to chose from we often get distracted and lose sight of several key items that should always be in our arsenal.

The first segment of this series titled Kitchen Fundamentals addresses cooking oils.  It seems like every time we go to the store, there's a new type of cooking oil hitting the shelves with promises of life altering good flavor and uber health benefits.  The bottom line is there are a lot of amazing variations of oils and healthy fats to utilize when cooking lean meats and produce however, the following is a list of Kitchen Fundamentals.  These must-haves guarantee you will always be able to produce exceptional and reliably great tasting food.  

Coconut Oil:  Popularized with the rise of the paleo movement, this oil has an exceptional shelf life and can withstand fairly high heat.  While Refined coconut oil is often cheaper you sacrifice the purity of the coconut being that it has been treated and bleached, ridding it almost entirely of its odor.  Refined coconut oil is a great option for moisturizing skin while avoiding smelling like a tropical plant.  For all intensive purposes, Unrefined Coconut oil is your best option for taste and health benefits and can be utilized in the cooking and seasoning of vegetables and meats, frying of eggs and used in a variety of baking recipes.  Being high in saturated fats, this oil provides a multitude of health benefits including: increased metabolism aiding in weightloss and weight management, hair and skin health as well as providing sustained energy and increased brain function.  Store in a cool dry area out of direct sunlight.  This will keep the coconut oil soft and malleable.  Refrigeration is okay so long as you avoid leaving it out for extended periods of time.  The abrupt temperature changes can often cause moisture to accumulate.  If refrigerated, the oil will harden making it more difficult to work with.

Here are a few of my favorite options:

Ghee:  This secret weapon can purchased at most upscale markets or even made in home with minimal effort.  Often referred to as Clarified Butter, ghee can be thought of as butter with the bulk of the dairy removed making it Paleo and Whole30 approved.  Clarifying the butter enhances the flavor and is a favorite of mine when frying eggs, sauteeing garlic and onions as well as seasoning my sweet potatoes.  With the majority of the dairy removed, this means you can enjoy the flavor of butter without the inflammatory or allergic responses often associated with lactose.  Ghee also holds a high smoke point making it a very versatile cooking fat.  If you opt to make your own ghee, be sure to spring for a quality grass fed butter like Kerrygold. Store in the refrigerator.

Here are a few of my favorite options:  

 

Olive Oil:  With a multitude of brands and countries of origin, olive can feel like the wild west of cooking oils.  Propaganda has us programed to believe that olive oil is good for our health and that extra virgin is somehow better for us.  Beyond that, it can feel like the great abyss.  Popularly referred to as EVOO, this oil has been linked to cardiovascular health and assists in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients during digestion.   Being that we consume EVOO on an extremely regular basis, we want to ensure we are ingesting a respectable quality oil.  Did you know that there is a huge market for imitation oils and the diluting of oils is a very common practice even amongst large reputable name brands?  I’m not going to bore you with the ins and outs of how to source your oil or determine its purity and harvest date.  Simply put, the following olive oils provide great taste and purity at an everyday price.  I typically use EVOO in salad dressings and marinades.    

 

  • Trader Joes: 100% Greek Kalamata  (superior to all other TJ oils)  
  • Kirkland Toscano  (not the large plastic bottle)(only Toscano)
  • California Olive Ranch  (great price) (found in most stores)
  • Whole Foods 365 100% California  (superior to other 365 oils)

 

Cooking Oil Starter Kit

 

Stupid Easy Potatoes

Responsible carbohydrate intake is a quintessential element in any meal plan or diet phenomenon.  Carb cravings can be a vicious thing and historically where I see people fall off the wagon is when they take on too many new habits all at once.  

“I’m eating no carbs at all for the next two weeks!”

This is a recipe for disaster and almost inevitably leads to a violent relapse.

I want to share a foolproof way to cook awesome potatoes with minimal effort.  Specifically today we are cooking sweet potatoes.  I’ll dive into which kind of potatoes provide the most health benefits in a subsequent blog post but simply know that controlled amounts of sweet potatoes will:  provide your body with many essential vitamins and nutrients, leave you with a healthy feeling of satiety and will also satisfy a psychological component of managing carb cravings.

Potato.jpg
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse and gently scrub the potatoes.  Dry with a paper towel.
  • Puncture the potatoes several times with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  This makes cleanup easier.  
  • Carefully liquify some coconut oil in the microwave (15 sec increments)  Roughly ¼ -½ tbsp of coconut oil per potato.
  • Brush the potatoes with the oil.
  • Place in the oven for roughly 1 hour.  DO NOT COVER WITH TIN FOIL!  This is oldschool and unnecessary.     
  • Potatoes are done when you can easily stick a fork right through.  Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!  Potatoes will last all week so plan ahead!

10 Minute Turkey

Often times when we consider following any kind of diet or meal plan, we envision bland overcooked chicken or dry ground turkey.  The truth is, whether I’m on a strict meal plan or not, I do consume a fair share of ground turkey.  Here is my simple twist on an old classic.  It packs a load of flavor and won't dry out as turkey often does.

Ingredients:

Prepare, chop and measure the above ingredients.

Heat a large pot typically used for soups or stews over Medium heat.  The deep pot will eliminate spattering and will easily work if you opt to double or triple the recipe.

Add the Ghee (or your choice of cooking fat) and saute the onions and garlic until browned but not burnt.

Add the Chicken Stock and increase heat to Medium High.

Add the seasonings and stir.

Add the Ground Turkey and break it up with a spatula so it disperses evenly.  

Cook 3-5 minutes.  The chicken stock will be simmering violently and will reduce down.  

Stir often.  Use a slotted spoon or ladle to serve.