4 Ingredient Breakfast Bites

Did you know September is Better Breakfast month? There are so many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day and can help you Eat Like a Champ:

  1. Eating breakfast will increase your energy by restoring glycogen to your  muscles
  2. A healthy breakfast helps with healthy weight maintenance since you’ll be less tempted to snack later in the morning
  3. Hunger can impact mood and productivity – eating breakfast can help improve your productivity through lunch time;  many studies show that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school!

Many people don’t eat breakfast because they don’t have time.  This 4 ingredient recipe is quick and easy;  you can make ahead of time and be setup for a healthy breakfast for the week to help you celebrate Better Breakfast month in September.

4 Ingredient Breakfast Bites

4 Ingredient Breakfast Bites

4 servings – 3 bites per serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas (on the ripe side)
  • 1 cup of whole rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries (or you favorite dried fruit)
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (or your favorite nut or seed, chopped)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mash the bananas
  3. Combine bananas and oats, stir together
  4. Stir in cherries and walnuts
  5. Scoop 1-2 tbsp of the mixture and form into balls, place on cookie sheet and repeat until all is used
  6. Bake cookies for 15 minutes
  7. Let bites cool & enjoy!

Cheers³

Reni

at breakfast?  What isyour favorite breakfast food?

Tomato & Lentil Salad

Farmers Markets and gardens are bursting with tomatoes this time of year.  Fresh tomatoes are a tasty addition to seasonal salads, and this recipe includes a base of brown rice and lentils to make it a satisfying main dish.  Cooking the rice and lentils in advance allows quick preparation for a healthy week night dinner.  Here are three fun facts about tomatoes:

  1. Colder temperatures slow down the ripening process, so store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator.  If you want them to ripen, store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.  Storing in a brown paper bag with a banana speeds the ripening even further.
  2. Tomatoes are rich in anti-oxidants and help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, especially prostate cancer and breast cancer.
  3. Tomatoes are native to South America and were first cultivated in Mexico, likely by the Aztecs.

Tomato & Lentil Salad

Tomato & Lentil Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 lemon, juiced (or 3 tbsp. of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt / pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups spinach or arugula (or both!), roughly chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable of broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 cup water and broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat
  2. Add the rice, cover, and simmer over medium / low heat for about 30 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed
  3. While rice is cooking, place lentils in a different saucepan with 1.5 cups of water over medium heat and cover
  4. Let the lentils simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Drain lentils and allow them to cool
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and lentils.
  7. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl
  8. Pour the dressing over the lentils and rice in the big bowl
  9. Add the cherry tomatoes
  10. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour
  11. Before servings, gently stir in feta cheese and spinach (or arugula) and then enjoy!

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite recipe with fresh tomatoes?  Please share in the comments or post a photo to my Facebook page!

Cheers³

Reni

End of Summer and Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a super-food with hundreds of uses that can help improve your health and it has become a staple in my kitchen – and in my bathroom!  As a good source of healthy fats to help increase my energy and decrease my appetite and with natural anti-bacterial and moisturizing properties to nourish my skin and hair, one jar of coconut oil has many uses!

CoconutOil2

With that being said, I do keep 2 jars of coconut oil in my house – one in the kitchen for cooking and one in the bathroom as a skin and hair product.  It would be strange (and kind of gross) to use a product for food prep that has been in the bathroom!  Note that a little bit goes a long way, both in cooking (due to its high saturated fat content) and as a beauty product, so I will typically error on the light side and add more if needed.

Here are my top 3 favorite ways to use coconut oil at the end of summer:

  1. Leave-in hair conditioner: Coconut oil provides proteins to help nourish and mend damaged hair and leaves hair soft and shiny. After a long summer outside in the sun, coconut oil has helped repair my hair from weather, blow drying, and my seasonal hair color processing.  I will use about 1 teaspoon (or less) throughout my hair before bedtime as an over-night conditioner and sometimes will use a little on the ends of my hair after blow drying to add some extra shine.  Remember – less is more;  when I add too much, my fine hair may appear greasy, so depending on the structure of your hair, adjust the application size as needed.
  2. Skin moisturizer:  I have very sensitive skin and many beauty products will cause break outs and rashes.  I also tend to sun burn easily, so by the end of summer, my skin may be dry and more sensitive than usual.  Coconut oil is a fantastic, all natural moisturizer that has never irritated my skin and will actually help soothe any itchy patches as well as sun burn.  I apply right after a shower to any areas where I commonly experience dry skin.  I’ll play close attention to “portion control” when applying it my face to avoid over moisturizing;  this will vary based on your skin type.
  3. Roasting seasonal veggies.  I like to slice up summer squash and zucchini and drizzle with coconut oil, salt and pepper and then roasting the veggies in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Since the melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees, it usually remains solid in my temperate Pacific Northwest climate.  If you live someplace warmer, your coconut oil might melt naturally and remain in a more liquid form.  If you want it to melt, simply stick the jar of coconut oil into a bowl with hot water – hot tap water will do.  The coconut oil will liquefy after a few minutes.  Sometimes I’ll also measure out my coconut oil into a small bowl and place that in a larger bowl with warm water.

Question for you:  Do you use coconut oil?  What is your favorite way to use this super-food?

Cheers³

Reni

My Introduction to Spirulina

Have you heard of Spirulina?  I recently tried it for the first time.

I first learned about Spirulina at nutrition school while studying the raw food diet. Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in pristine freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds.  I admit I was a little skeptical about eating algae, however, the more I learned, the more curious I became.  Spirulina is a superfood with many health benefits, including:

  1. Spirulina is most known for it’s ability to strengthen the immune system;  some reports indicate regular consumption of Spirulina will help reduce the frequency and impact of colds, flu and other illness.
  2. It is great for women:  it’s strong anti-inflammatory agents help ease symptoms of PMS, it has 26 times the calcium of milk and is also is high in bio-available iron, so it can help those with anemia or iron deficiency.
  3. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein;  gram for gram Spirulina has more protein than beef.

Here is more great information about Spirulina:

Spirulina_Guide

My first experiment with eating this algae involved adding it to a smoothie – since it is packed with protein, I knew this would be a great recovery drink after a tough workout.  How was it?  Well, the color was amazing!  I’ve never made such a deep green smoothie, even when I loaded it up with spinach and kale.  It tasted a lot like green juice, perhaps slightly bitter.  I balanced this by adding sweet fruit, like berries and banana.  Since I really like green juice, I enjoyed this refreshing and nutritious smoothie and I can’t wait to try it in my home made salad dressing next time I whip up a batch.  If you haven’t had green juice before, this may take a few taste tests.  Add less Spirulina initially and build up to a full serving and adding your favorite fruits will help a lot.  Here is my recipe for a Spirulina Smoothie:

Spirulina Smoothie

SpirulinaSmoothie

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. coconut water
  • 1-2 tsp. Spirulina
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • A handful of your favorite berries – I used a blueberry / strawberry combo!
  • A handful of ice cubes

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients, blend well and enjoy!

Questions for you:  Will you be willing to try Spirulina?  How will you add this into your nutrition plan?  Let me know!

Cheers³

Reni

Blueberry Quinoa Salad – As featured on Portland KATU News This Morning

I recently had the awesome opportunity to talk about my book, Eat Like A Champ, on a local Portland morning news show.  It was exciting, and honestly a little scary.

It helped that I brought some of my favorite foods to talk about.  Since berries are in season here in the Pacific Northwest, I was able to show off the strawberries and blueberries that I had just received as part of my CSA share.  I also brought one of my favorite summer salads that is packed with superfoods:

KATU News Guest Spot Blueberry Quinoa Salad

I’ve had a lot of requests for the recipe, so here it is:

Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • salt / pepper, to taste

Salad:

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa:  add quinoa to pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil – switch to medium / low heat, checking and stirring every 5 minutes until moisture is absorbed, about 15 minutes total
  2. When the quinoa is cooked, set aside and allow it to cool
  3. Prep the dressing in a large bowl:  pour in lemon juice, olive oil, salt / pepper and whisk everything together
  4. Chop the bell peppers, add to the bowl and mix with dressing until evenly coated
  5. Gently stir in almonds, blueberries and quinoa into the bowl with the dressing / pepper mix
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving and then enjoy!

Variations:

  • This recipe is vegetarian (and vegan and gluten-free BTW!), but it also tastes great topped with some grilled chicken.

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite berry?  Come on over to my Facebook page and let me know – I’d love to see some pics too!

Cheers³

Reni

Mediterranean Pilaf Recipe

Did you know May is Mediterranean Diet Month?  The Mediterranean Diet associated with many health benefits, including lengthening your life, preventing certain cancers and improving brain function!  Characteristics of this diet include:

  1. Eating lots of vegetables, including at least one plant-based meal per week
  2. Serving smaller portions of meat overall and having at least 2 servings of seafood per week
  3. Sticking to good fats, such as high quality extra virgin olive oil
Do you think this is a program you could get on board with?  For a great visual of the plan, check out the Mediterranean Food Pyramid from the sponsor of this event, Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance.

The goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  The Oldways website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes.  I’ve been having a blast testing them out and tweaking them so I can continue my efforts to Eat Like a Champ.  Here is one that has become a new favorite in my house:

Mediterranean Pilaf

MediterraneanPilaf

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable of broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions:
  1. Bring 1 cup water and the veggie broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat
  2. Add the rice, cover, and simmer over medium / low heat for about 30 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed
  3. While rice is cooking, place lentils in a different saucepan with 1.5 cups of water over medium heat and cover
  4. Let the lentils simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Drain lentils and allow them to cool
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and lentils.
  7. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl
  8. Pour the dressing over the lentils and rice in the big bowl
  9. Add the green onions and cherry tomatoes
  10. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours
  11. Just before serving, add the arugula and crumbled feta cheese and gently stir it all together

This pilaf is hearty enough as a vegetarian main dish or can be served with grilled chicken.  The zesty homemade dressing will make this a healthy addition to upcoming summer BBQs.

Question for you:  What is your favorite Mediterranean meal?  Please share in the comments – I’d love to get your recipe and include it on the blog!

Eating Like A Champ in New York City & Mediteranean Diet in May

I’m back from New York!  I had a wonderful trip and was lucky to meet so many amazing colleagues and new friends.  It was an honor to participate in the Whole Foods event with the Self Health Movement’s authors and then walk across the stage in Jazz at Lincoln Center with my fellow Launch Your Dream Book authors. 

 ReniandCynthia

ReniandAbby

OnStage

In addition to the events promoting my new book Eat Like A Champ, I was able to have a little fun!

Matt and I walked all over Central Park:

    CentralPark

Walked the full length of the High Line:

HighLine

Ran in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park:

MatandReniRun

Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge:

BrooklynBridge

We also enjoyed a ball game at Yankee Stadium and watched the Yankees win against the Mets: 

YankeeStadium

All that walking and running around made me HUNGRY so we also ate a lot of great food!  Here are my three favorite restaurants:

1)   IdeyaLatin Caribbean.  Sitting outside in the sunshine after our run was a great way to enjoy this brunch in Brooklyn.  We started with a Picante Maria (think spicy bloody Mary with tequila) and then I had the Pan Con Huevos, and egg sandwich with chorizo and a mixed green salad.

IdeyaBrunch

2)  Estiatorio Milos – Greek.  This Midtown restaurant boasts fresh food and I believe it since  the catch of the day was on display, and some of it was still moving.  Their 3 course lunch menu featured fresh, simple food at a reasonable price.  The server cut fresh oregano from a plant into olive oil to dip the fresh-bread (that was still warm when brought to our table) in.  I started with a delicious tomato and feta salad, my main was grilled salmon with broccoli, and for dessert I enjoyed yogurt with honey.

MilosLunch

3)   Foragers City Market Chelsea – Local.  Featuring food from local area farms, this small neighborhood restaurant in Chelsea was a treat.  We shared a charcuterie with “pan con tomate” – bread with tomatoes – to start.  Then we enjoyed curried cauliflower soup and white asparagus appetizers.  For a main dish, I enjoyed a grass-fed New York strip steak (I had to – I was in New York!) with potato souffle and Matt had roasted duck breast with polenta and seasonal vegetables.   

ForagersDinner

Now that I am home, my travels have inspired me to explore some new recipes from the comfort of my own kitchen.  I really enjoyed the Mediterranean fare at Estiaorio Milos so much I starting researching recipes I could cook myself and during my exploring, I learned that May is Mediterranean Diet month.  Sponsored by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  Their website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes so I’ll be testing them out and sharing my favorites on the blog throughout the month of May.

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite Mediterranean dish or recipe?  Please share in the comments section on the blog!

Cheers³

Reni