Tag Archives: healthy

Teff- ‘The New Quinoa’

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My kitchen-sink Teff muffins pack a healthy, hearty, nutritional punch. Guilt-free nibbling encouraged : )

Ethiopian born Tirunesh Dibaba is one of my favorite female distance runners. If you have seen her effortlessly smooth and swift kick at the end of a long distance race, passing other ELITE competitors as if they are jogging, then you know why I admire her so much. She has won 2 olympic gold medals in the 10,000M (First woman to win back-to-back 10,000M olympic races- in 2008 then again in 2012), and a gold medal in the 5000M. She holds the women’s world record in the 5000M- 14:11.15. In 2014, she ran her first ever marathon in London, where she placed 3rd in a time of 2:20:34. How does she do it?? What super food is she eating to fuel her high level of training? While we know there is no secret diet or specific food that will transform our health and performance, it is still fun to learn about what our favorite athletes eat.

For thousands of years, a major food staple in the diets of Ethiopians has been a tiny grain that resembles a poppy seed, called Teff. The naturally gluten-free grain is a nutritional powerhouse often hailed as a superfood for it’s ample supply of minerals including Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper, Thiamin, and key for distance runners- IRON. Just one serving of the grain (1/4 Cup dry) supplies 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 20% of the Daily Value for Iron. The grain also provides 8 of the 20 essential amino acids necessary for growth and repair within the body. Unlike other grains, Teff supplies Vitamin C, which improves Iron absorption.

In Ethiopia, Teff is ground into flour then fermented to make a sourdough flatbread called Inerja. The bread, thin like a tortilla, soft, and porous, serves as an edible platter for all dishes. Pieces of the bread are torn off and used to roll up bites of vegetables or other foods being served on it. According to an article by The Washington Post, the Whole Grains council estimates that up to 2/3 of the protein in Ethiopian diets comes from Teff. Ethiopian distance runners credit the grain with their energy and health.

Teff can be cooked on the stove like quinoa as a side dish at dinner, or it can be used as a breakfast porridge. Mix the grain into a salad for an added textural element. Teff flour, made by companies like Bob’s Red Mill, can be used to make pancakes, breads, and cookies.

I had to try Teff for myself so I experimented by concocting an original recipe of my own. I call them my Teff kitchen sink muffins because I threw in pretty much whatever I had in my pantry- miraculously, especially considering the difficulty of cooking with Gluten-free flours, the muffins were a yummy and satisfying success! Here is the recipe:

Dry ingredients: 1C oats, 1C Teff flour, 1C coconut flour, 3 tbsp freshly ground golden flax, 3 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tbsp ground ginger root, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking power

Mix dry ingredients then make a well to pour the pre-mixed wet ingredients into.

Wet ingredients: 2 mashed bananas, 1/3 C honey, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 C goat milk (coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid and requires more egg), 1/2 C plain kefir, 1 tbsp melted butter, 3 eggs

Stir everything together. Top with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and diced pecans. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Yields 12 muffins.

Beet That Holiday Bulge

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Pureed beet pizza sauce

If you haven’t caught on by now, part of what I love about cooking is the chance to experiment! Because so many people find eating healthy to be flavorless and boring, I embrace the challenge of finding new, and I admit sometimes unusual, recipes to satisfy their cravings without leaving them saddled with guilt and love handles.

If the eggnog and holiday cookies got the best of you, and even if they didn’t, try this yummy pizza recipe that is loaded with flavor… and vegetable superpowers : )

Instead of regular tomato sauce, this recipe uses pureed beets. Like most vegetables, beets have numerous health benefits. The nutrient, Betaine, found in beets has been shown to prevent inflammation and protect cells from environmental stress. If you are an athlete, consider making beets a part of your training regimen as they have been shown to improve performance by increasing tolerance for high intensity exercise and decreasing the oxygen cost of low intensity exercise. The effect of drinking beet juice 2-3 hours before workouts is not minor. According to Runner’s World, performance is increased 12-14% which translates to a 1-2% decrease in race time. For more details on the ergogenic properties of beets, click here. Or, ask Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall who is reportedly a fan of the juice.

To make this pizza, I made a homemade crust out of 100% Whole Wheat flour and pre-baked the crust before topping it. Directions for making the crust can be found here. For the sauce I pureed 1 can of beets in a food processor with 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, juice from half a lemon, and a dash of salt. Next I piled on spinach, organic shredded cheddar cheese, diced mushrooms, and olives. Bake for 10-12 minutes @ 350 degrees and enjoy!

Green Superfood Cookies

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Here is a cookie that you can feel good about! Treat yourself to these light and sweet morsels that pack a serious nutrient punch 🙂

Spirulina is a blue-green algae typically mixed into foods in powder form. It is a complete protein that supplies iron and B-vitamins, including vitamin B12. Potential health benefits are numerous and include lowered cholesterol, weight management, treatment for allergies, control of ADHD, steady blood sugar levels in diabetics, immune system boost, improved athletic performance, greater energy levels, and longevity.

Goji berries, also known as wolf berries, are native to Mongolia, China, and the Tibetan Himalayas. The berries are a rich source of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which support eye health and may aid in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration. Other health claims include cancer prevention, decreased cholesterol, lowered blood sugar, improved circulation, longevity, and improved immunity. Individuals taking blood thinners, such as Warfarin (Coumadin) should talk to their doctor before including Goji berries in their diet due to possible drug-interaction.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 C 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 C coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • Small handful of goji berries
  • 1 square of finely chopped 85% dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp of Qia original superfood blend (hemp, chia seeds, buckwheat groats)

Directions: Mix eggs, oil, and syrup together. Mix flour and baking powder together then stir into the liquid mixture. The batter will initially be thin and lumpy. Don’t worry- the cookies are not ruined! Keep whisking everything together and the batter will begin to thicken. Spoon the batter onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet. The batter should make about 12 medium-size cookies. I had to experiment with the cooking time and temperature because the directions on the website I got this recipe from didn’t end up working- the cookies came out looking like soup. Try cooking for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees, but check them as they cook and adjust time and temperature as needed. The aroma of coconut from the flour and coconut oil will make your house smell heavenly!

Inspiration for this recipe was found here: http://www.wellnessholisticbeauty.com/2013/03/spirulina-goji-berries-cookies.html

Light and Healthy Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

IMG_1747Ingredients:

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • Tomato paste/puree (ingredients should be only tomatoes!)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Garlic-stuffed olives
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Asparagus

Directions: Spread tomato paste on inside of each mushroom. Slice 3-5 garlic-stuffed olives longways and place flat side down on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle each pizza with nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile steam asparagus in a covered microwave safe dish and 1/4 inch of water for 2-3 minutes. Plate asparagus and pizzas and enjoy!

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

IMG_1739Ingredients:

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato puree
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Pour apple cider vinegar into a small bowl. Add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. The amount will depend on how heavily you usually prefer to season your food. Slice eggplant into thin discs. Dredge each slice in vinegar mixture thoroughly. Let soak about 5 minutes. Cook slices in a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, flipping half way. Cover a plate with a bed of spinach. Stack eggplant slices on spinach bed, layering tomato puree and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast between each slice. Top with a an extra pinch of oregano and you’re good to go!

Pesto Pizza

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Choose a whole wheat crust- you can buy one that is ready-made or start from scratch. Spread with pesto and top with olives, tomato, and artichoke hearts. Add a small amount of cheese or parmesan if you prefer. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. With a ready-made crust you can have this dinner ready in 15 minutes! How about that? Try a spinach salad on the side for extra greens and nutrient power:)

Lunch Inspiration

IMG_1020Diced mushrooms, lentils, avocado, and mixed greens with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Get creative with your meals. Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet, finding flavor combinations you like, and even making your food look pretty will making eating healthy more enjoyable and easier to sustain over the long term.