Gluten-free

Lemon Arugula Capellini Recipe {Gluten-Free}

I first enjoyed this yummy lunch (or side for dinner) at a local grocery store deli here in my Arizona small town. As with all delicious recipes I’ve tried that I believe can be “made healthier,” I knew I wanted to duplicate it at home.

After a couple years of working to recreate it to FRESH Start Plan standards, I think I’ve done it. And it’s yummy, ya’ll - wait til you try this!

Here’s how to make the gluten-free version of Lemon Arugula Capellini!

Ingredients

  • 1 box gluten-free pasta (try to get the skinniest spaghetti noodle you can find in gluten-free options - I use Ronzoni brand thin spaghetti because I can easily find it in my small town grocery store)

  • 2-3 FRESH lemons, squeezed and a small amount of the peel, grated

  • 3 FRESH garlic cloves, minced finely

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (or to taste)

  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (eliminate for dairy-free version)

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (you can use any tomatoes you have on hand or pick up)

  • 2 handfuls fresh arugula (or to taste - it’s a strong flavored herb/green and some prefer less!)

  • 1/2 bunch ruffle parsley, roughly chopped

  • Sprinkle to taste: Salt (I use Himalayan Pink) FRESH Ground Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes

Optional ingredient:
1-2 Tbsp Capers -
I’ve tried it both ways, since for some, capers can be hard to find or too expensive - and it’s truly just as good with out them. But they do add a FRESH salty, briny flavor if you can find them for a decent price!

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Instructions:

Put enough water to cover the pasta on to boil, once the water is boiling, carefully place the pasta into it. Cook until just barely done (al dente). Drain pasta in a strainer.

Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil into a pan and heat on medium to high. Once oil is hot, add the minced garlic cloves and toast for about 1-2 minutes, then remove pan from heat and set aside.

Pour the toasted oil and garlic mixture into a measuring bowl or cup big enough to make the “sauce” in. Add in the remaining olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, grated lemon peel, chopped parsley and spices. Whisk briskly for a few seconds, until mixed well.

In a large mixing bowl (with lots of room to fully mix everything) place the pasta, arugula, tomato chunks and grated parmesan cheese. Pour the “sauce” over it and mix everything together well.

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It’s ready to serve! (Or, if you make this early and allow it to set in the fridge for an hour or two, it tastes even better - as everything will have time to absorb the flavor of the sauce.)

Once you’ve tried this at home, let me know what you think - I was so thrilled to be able to make this gluten-free as I continue to heal the autoimmune I’m dealing with. I’m excited to add this dish to our gluten-free selections here at FRESH Start for any of you who have discovered you need to avoid gluten to heal and feel better.

Perfect for a side dish served with fish or grilled chicken, or toss this salad with cooked shrimp for a main dish. You can also bring and share it as a tasty side at a bar-b-que!

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Grill Your Veggies for Healthy Benefits + Recipes

One of the reasons I love grilling is because of how deliciously easy it is to put healthy food on your family’s table.

You might be surprised to learn how many foods you can grill! Combining different food groups to take them to a whole new level of tastiness - fruit with veggies, veggies with fish, citrus with fish, chicken with fruit, the list goes on.

I’ve even seen grilled salad in some recipes! One of my favorite things - and one of the healthiest foods to grill - is vegetables.

The benefits to your diet from eating more veggies is endless, so why not enjoy them grilled?

  1. Gets More Nutrients into Your Body Where They Belong – Grilling vegetables cooks away less of the vitamins & nutrients in them than other cooking methods, like boiling. Next to eating them FRESH, “grilled” is one of the best ways to eat veggies.

  2. Naturally Adds Flavor – The heat of the grill causes the natural sugars in vegetables to caramelize, which gives the same veggies an entirely different flavor than when eaten fresh, steamed or boiled.

  3. Variety – You can easily mix veggies with each other, or with your favorite lean meats, seafood, and even fruits. The possibilities are endless.

  4. Picky Eaters Eat More Vegetables – Grilled veggies taste different and can be easily seasoned with herbs and spices to make their taste more appealing to even the finickiest eater. This may be a major way your picky eater will add more veggies into their diet.

  5. It’s Fun! – Grilling gets you outside for some fresh air and Vitamin D! Whether dinner with the family or a get-together with friends, grilling has a way of getting us outside where we enjoy the fresh air! Who couldn’t use more of that?

Enjoy more veggies at your house with these easy, delicious recipe ideas:

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Spicy Mexican Grilled Sweet Corncobs

Ingredients

  • 5-6 FRESH ears of sweet corn

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (or Cotija Queso)

Instructions

Preheat grill to medium heat. 

Boil ears (shucked and cleaned) in a stock pot for about 20 minutes, then drain and remove. 

Place corn ears over grill and drizzle olive oil over them, then cook for 5 minutes on one side. Using tongs, turn ears over to cook for 5 minutes on other side.

Place corn on a platter, and sprinkle with the spices, and place a pat of butter on each ear. Then sprinkle a few crumbles of cheese over corn and serve.

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Lemon & Garlic Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch thin asparagus

  • 1 bunch of green onions, trimmed

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • Olive oil

Instructions

Preheat grill on low-to-medium heat, and prepare a cookie sheet-sized, folded “pan” made from the aluminum foil. 

Rinse the bunch of asparagus off, trimming off at least an inch from the bottom of stalks. Place the spears on the aluminum foil, spreading them out in an even layer. Add the bunch of green onions, spreading them through the asparagus stalks. 

Sprinkle the minced garlic over the stalks, and squeeze the juice from the two lemon halves over the vegetables. 

Drizzle olive oil generously over the vegetables, and place homemade “pan” over the grill slats. Grill for about 10-15 minutes (to desired done-ness) over low to medium heat.  Serve immediately.

Get creative, research fun recipe combinations, and remember there is no limit for what you can cook on the grill!

Beef and Poblano Rice One-Pot Dinner

Wait til you try this simple, delicious, whole-family-loves-it dinner recipe - you’re going to thank me! Ha! I discovered this 30-minute treasure while “trying out” a dinner-in-a-box service that was the best one I’ve tried yet. (But I just find I can’t continue those services due to my incessant need to re-invent every recipe I try!)

So here is the Coach Bess - re-invented version of this one-pot dinner that the whole family loves!

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How to Make Beef and Poblano Rice

Ingredients

2 poblano peppers
1 lb lean ground beef (90/10 and grass fed, preferably)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice (can use brown basmati - will just be a different texture)
2 1/2 cups water (or beef broth if you want more flavor)
1 Tbsp seasoning (I used hamburger seasoning mix that has chili powder, garlic and onion powder in it)
1/3 cup sour cream
2-3 green onions, diced finely
olive or avocado oil
kosher salt, black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and make sure the rack is centered in the oven. Have a large dutch oven or cast iron pan ready to use, because you will first prepare this dish on stove top, then put the pan directly into the oven to finish it.

Halve the poblanos, remove seeds and ribs, and dice into 1/2 inch squares or so. Heat 2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil over medium-high heat in the pan. Add in the poblano pieces, and let them saute, stirring only a couple times, for about 5 minutes or until tender.

Add in the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes or so, or until fully browned. Scrape to the side of the pan.

Add the dry rice and the Tbsp spice, and “toast” it over the heat for about 2 minutes, only stirring once or twice. Stir together with the ground beef and peppers mixture and toast for another minute.

Stir in the water or broth, and bring the entire mixture to a quick boil over high heat. Once boiling, carefully remove from stove top heat and place entire pan of mixture into the pre-heated oven. Place lid on it, and bake for about 17 minutes, or until all the water or broth is absorbed.

While the rice dish is baking, stir together a couple tablespoons of water with the sour cream, making it slightly runny for easy drizzling. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the rice is done, remove from oven and serve within minutes and after fluffing the rice with a fork. Drizzle the sour cream and sprinkle the green onions over it. Mmmmm!

BONUS TIP: for added nutritional goodness, slice up a fresh avocado, salt them, and serve alongside or over dish.

What do YOU think?

Easy enough to try out? I personally love the easy cleanup and simple process of this one-pot recipe!

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

Naturally sweet and crunchy, spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for the pasta in spaghetti, served with chicken Parmesan or just by itself with a pat of butter melting over it.  It is light, pleasant and nutritious, with many health benefits.  

High in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium, squash has only 40 calories and 4 grams of sugar in a FULL one cup serving. Packing a punch in the omega-3’s and omega 6’s as well, this underrated natural beauty is a must-eat for health!

Here are the simple steps to cooking a spaghetti squash in your own oven:

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Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash (carefully – the outer shell is hard!) in two pieces, lengthwise.

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Step 2:  Using a spoon, scrape out all the seeds and pulp in the soft interior of the squash.

Step 3:  Place the two sides face up (or down, it doesn’t really matter) in 1 inch of water in a large baking pan.  Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until squash is tender and soft.

 
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Step 4:  Once slightly cooled, take a fork, and peel the squash strands, just like spaghetti, off the rinds and into a bowl.  Serve and enjoy!

At our house, we love our spaghetti squash with this healthy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. The two put together pack a nutritional punch that offers a filling and comforting meal everyone enjoys!

Here’s a how-to video on how to do it:

Was this how-to helpful? Would you like to see more?

Our FRESH Start Club members get helpful how-tos just like this every single month, sometimes even before they're posted here on the blog. Plus new recipes, videos, printables and a warm & friendly support group. If you're ready to find support in your own quest for a healthy lifestyle, GO HERE to learn how you can join us! {Oh and it's FREE!}

Here are some other delicious recipes we think you might enjoy:

How to Make Healthy Turkey Mini-Meatloaves

How to Bake Acorn Squash Rings

Grilling Chicken & Salmon

Egg Frittata Muffin Breakfast Recipe

No other breakfast says “get up and go” like eggs! Providing an unmatched protein value (6 grams of protein in just one) eggs are a great choice for a healthy breakfast.

Whether you’re looking for a wholesome, energy boosting breakfast to send the kids off to school with or a healthy start to the weekend for the whole family, here’s a recipe that will keep them going strong through the entire morning.

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Here’s how to make Egg Frittata Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet or green onion

  • 2/3 cup chopped low-sodium ham

  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

  • 4 large egg whites

  • 2 large eggs

  • optional: 2 Tbsp diced chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

  3. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add ham, sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cool mixture for 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stir with a whisk.

  5. Add ham mixture, stirring with a whisk.

  6. Spoon mixture into a 12-cup regular size OR 24-miniature muffin cup pan coated with cooking spray.

  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.

Meal Prep Tip: These can be cooked ahead of time in big batches and frozen for quick-reheat on a later day.

Starting your morning with a breakfast high in protein, like this one, can make a huge difference in the rest of your day, giving you lasting energy.

Here are 5 reasons to include the protein powerhouse in your breakfast dishes.

Benefits of Eggs

  • Keeps you feeling full longer

  • Helps you stay energized

  • Builds muscle strength

  • Repairs muscle tissue

  • Prevents muscle loss in older adults

They don’t call it the incredible, edible egg for nothing! ;)

Baked Maple Acorn Squash Rings

This is an easy-to-make side dish for any time of year, but right now, during the holidays…it’s especially filling and comforting!

I’ve made Acorn Squash as a side dish for my hubby in the past, but just by simply halving the squash and digging out the seeds. Then adding (too much) butter and brown sugar before baking for an hour…so I wanted to find a recipe that is healthier and frankly, easier! This is it!

After reading that boiling or steaming squash actually lessens the vitamin and mineral load, I determined to make it only by baking or broiling in the oven to preserve the wonderful amount of Vitamin A, C & B-6 as well as folate, niacin, potassium, magnesium found in it!

Oh and did ya know that just a 1/2 cup serving (that’s only about 1-2 rings!) is almost 20% of your daily fiber needs? This is such a tasty way to knock out your fiber quota!

Another cool fact - when we combine fibrous vegetables like squash, potatoes (especially sweet!) and a healthy fat like olive oil and then cook them together, it’s actually proven to help the body break down and digest the nutrients more effectively! Super cool, right? Cuz of course it tastes better this way, too!

Here’s How to Make Baked Maple Acorn Squash Rings

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Ingredients

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  • One medium Acorn Squash (here’s a pic of the whole squash so you can see which one it is!)

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

  • Grind or two of Cracked Black Pepper

  • Grind or two of Himalayan Salt


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over a cookie pan.

  2. Slice the Acorn Squash in 1/2 inch or so thickness, then using a paring knife (or just your fingers) clean off the strings and seeds from the middle. (You can also use a round cookie cutter if that’s easier!)

  3. You should get about 6 slices from a small, 8 from a medium or even up to 10 from a large squash!

  4. Lay the slices on the cookie sheet, then drizzle the oil and maple syrup over each slice. Lightly crack the pepper and grind the salt over each slice.

  5. Pop in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely done to taste (they should caramelize and brown a bit!)

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OK now it’s your turn to try it and tell us what you think!

Can’t wait for you to bake a batch of these for your loves, then come back and tell us how they turned out! Comment below with your experience!

Healthy Cereal Cookies {Gluten-Free!}

Who doesn't love a FRESH new healthy cookie recipe, especially when it's actually got nutrition in it? My kids were so happy when I tested this recipe this past weekend (it's 100% my invention by the way!) and we were all happy when they actually turned out!

Now that gluten is a nemesis to my body's healing from an autoimmune disorder, I avoid it as much as I can...but that doesn't mean I love all things gluten-free - I can't stand how dense many things turn out with a lot of gluten free flours out there.

So this recipe uses a $5 gluten free flour from my neighborhood grocery, nothing too fancy. I bake so rarely now, it's worth the splurge! Try it and see what I mean. No rock-hard recipe here!

Ingredients

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  • 1 cup gluten-free flour

  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 stick butter, softened

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

  • 1/3 cup white sugar

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or 2/3 cup brown sugar and no white)

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 eggs (we use cage-free, grain-fed)

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 4 scoops fruit and veggies powder (like the one pictured)

  • 2 cups bran cereal (fun sub: fruit n yogurt bran cereal!)

Instructions

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  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on 2 cookie pans.

  2. Combine the dry ingredients (first 6 ingredients listed!) and stir together, then set aside.

  3. Mash the butter, coconut oil, and sugars and syrup together by hand, or use a handheld mixer for ease. Set this bowl aside.

  4. Whip the 2 eggs, adding in the vanilla extract. Add into the bowl with the sugars, butter and oil and stir all wet ingredients together well.

  5. On low speed with the hand mixer (or by hand) slowly add in the dry mixture to the wet ingredients bowl, a little at a time.

  6. Then slowly, add in the fruit and veggie powder and bran flakes until fully mixed.

  7. Drop a Tablespoon of dough on the trays, about 1.5 inches apart to allow for rising.

  8. Bake on 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, check the cookies, if they are browning on edges, they are done! Remove them from oven and let them sit on hot cookie pan for about 2-3 minutes.

  9. Move them to a cookie rack to finish cooling.

  10. Ready to enjoy! You can freeze extras for quick grab snacks for kid's lunches, after-school snack or part of an easy breakfast by serving them with a smoothie or banana!

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If you like, you can always add in nuts, dried fruit or mini-chocolate chips for extra fun or texture. You could also replace the coconut oil with peanut butter, and add in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips to have a PB and choco snack!

These "cookies" contain enough healthy nutrients to be considered equal to a granola bar! Delicious, nutritious snacks! (This recipe is full of protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals...mmmm!)

After you try them, pop back over here and tell us what you think!

Bet your kids/family won't even know they are eating such a great blend of nutrition!

How to Grill Chicken & Salmon

Grilling is one of the reasons I enjoy summer so much. The fact that I live in Arizona means I get to do more of it than just during the summer months too! Yep, I’m able to grill year ‘round here. Talk about a happy girl!

Have you discovered the benefit of grilling for a healthier dinner meal plan? SO easy, so light, so yummy!

Here's some specific ideas to help you make healthier (and yummier) salmon and chicken on the grill for your healthy dinners at home.

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How to Create Tender, Savory Salmon on the Grill

  • If salmon is frozen, thaw completely.

  • Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat, lay salmon filets out on flat pan or plate.

  • Squeeze 1 full lemon evenly over the salmon.

  • Sprinkle 3-4 garlic cloves, minced, over the fish.

  • Press the garlic into the flesh.

  • Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper over salmon and salt lightly.

  • Sprinkle ground onion, ground garlic, paprika and a light shake of chili powder if you like a little more flavor.

  • Place salmon on light spritz of olive oil on aluminum foil packet on grill (if it has skin, you can place directly on grill plate - tastes better this way, in my opinion.

  • Your fillets are now ready to grill slowly over low heat, for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Additional Tip: Use fresh herbs, like dill, for extra flavor over salmon.

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Grilling Tips for Pull-Apart Chicken Breasts

  • Buy full boneless skinless breasts instead of tenderloins to save money.

  • Cut chicken breasts into 2-3 pieces (tenderloin-style) to promote quicker cooking and portion control.

  • Marinate breast pieces in a small amount of Italian salad dressing. I use Italian dressing because it’s a neutral flavor, keeps the chicken moist and from getting slimy/tasting weird as the week progresses.

Make Ahead Tips: Grill enough on Sunday for meals through Wednesday, then midweek, grill a new batch for the remainder of the week’s meals.

Cooking ahead like this cuts your prep time down and is a delicious grab and make option for those days you don’t want to be in the kitchen too long. 

Cooking for meals ahead of time will give you a quick protein choice for soups, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. It will be easier to stick with a healthier meal plan when you have these ready to grab and add, versus cooking them separately for each day’s meals.

Tenderness Tip:  Be sure to grill the chicken until JUST done (they’ll be white, NO pinkness), on medium heat.  If you grill them on high heat or too quickly, you’ll end up with tough meat!

Coaching tip: I've had people ask me about the "alleged" link between cooking on a grill and cancer. After researching this specific topic even further, I’ve found that so far, research has not concluded that grilling causes cancer. However, cooking foods too fast, at too high of a temperature and for too long can release carcinogenic compounds that contribute to some cancers.

So a good rule of thumb for safely grilling is:

Cook (and Grill) Low and Slow!

Got some of your own grilling tips you’d like to share?

Leave your grilling secrets in the comments below or feel free to share them with us in our (free) FRESH Start Club!

Healthy Turkey Quinoa Mini Meatloaves

Family dinners can be an exhausting process for the busy mom who is trying to please all the varied preferences and taste buds in her home! 

One of our greatest goals here at FRESH Start is providing the busiest mom and their pickiest eaters with more family-favorites – more TASTY, HEALTHY recipes to make her life easier!

My picky family of six loves this recipe – in fact, it’s a regular at our dinner table! 

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It’s veggies, protein, healthy fats and whole grains all in one beautiful dish.

Makes a fabulous prep-ahead dish, too. 

Just make a few extra loaves ahead of time (I do this easily by doubling the batch I'm making for dinner) then, instead of cooking them, I freeze them ready to pop in the oven on the night in question. You can freeze them right in their mini-loaf pans, leaving no cleanup on the night you fix them! Plus you'll have a hearty, no-work dinner ready to go for one of your family's busiest nights.

Here's how to make them:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb or 1 package lean ground turkey (93/7)

  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4-1/2 cup sweet onion, finely diced

  • 3-4 baby bell (Portobello) mushrooms, finely diced

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely diced

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely diced

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • Olive oil

  • 2-3 cheese sticks (mozzarella) cut in half or thirds

Topping sauce:

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup low-sugar ketchup

1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey

Add 1 tsp of water at a time to get sauce to desired thickness. Stir all sauce ingredients together with a whisk until smoothly blended!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, prepare 4-5 mini-meatloaf pans by spraying them with olive oil spray.

  2. Put a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tsp olive oil to pan. Add in the diced onion, mushroom, garlic cloves and carrots. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes, or until veggies are softened and smell savory.

  3. Add in the thyme and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Pull pan off stove, allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, quinoa, and egg. Once vegetable and spice mixture is cool, add that into meat mixture.

  5. Pat meat mixture into 4-6 small loaves, placing them into mini loaf pans. Put 1/2 of a cheese stick in the middle of each loaf, then form meat around cheese stick.

  6. Using your fingers, pat an indent into top of each loaf, and place 1-2 Tbsp of topping sauce into the well.

  7. Bake loaves at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, uncovered, or until cooked through.

    Serve with baked sweet potatoes and a side salad or other green selection for a well-rounded dinner selection!

 

Flexible enough to make ahead of time, or right on-the-spot, this family favorite is sure to become a go-to at your place as well!  Super-healthy, and tasty to boot, you’ll be glad you added this one to your family recipe rolodex!

Let us know what you think of this recipe, we’d love to hear your family’s feedback!  

Easy Oven Kale Chips

Kale has returned to the scene as a popular green that is not only full of delicious flavor, but also as an extraordinary source of vitamins A, C and K. These three vitamins are at the top of the list of immune-boosting benefits to our bodies, so this easy-to-prepare green leafy vegetable is a great option for your family's table. 

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Aside from its rich nutrient value, Kale is great at boosting your immunity, and health! Eating kale is proven to help cancer prevention, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, promoting compounds for eye health, and more. ALL good reasons to eat more kale!

There's only one disadvantage with eating Kale (besides that it disappears from the plate too quickly!) and that is it can interfere with your body's absorption of calcium. To help prevent this problem, avoid eating calcium-rich foods at the same time. 

Besides eating kale fresh in salads or smoothies or wilted on pasta dishes, these kale chips are a popular way to get enough greens into your family and your own body!

Our friend & healthy lifestyle leader Lolita McNeal shared this easy recipe with our FRESH Start Online Community as a wonderful way to get the satisfaction of a salty crunch into our diet when we are craving chips or other salty no-no's!

LOLITA’S EASY OVEN KALE CHIPS

Here's How To Make Them:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads fresh kale (you can find it in the produce section of your grocery store)

  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. Cut the greens into 2-inch sized pieces. Rub the kale with extra virgin olive oil, evenly coating both sides.

  2. Spread out the pieces evenly on 2 parchment lined baking sheets; season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake, rotating and switching pans halfway through cooking, until crisp, about 8 minutes.

  4. Optional: Zest lemon over the hot chips.

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Lolita shares:

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"From my experience, you need very little extra virgin olive oil, the cooking time was closer to 6 minutes than 8, and it's okay if you leave out the lemon zest.  Some other flavor suggestions included with the original recipe were:  bbq rub, sriacha [a type of hot sauce], ranch dip mix, and sesame seeds. 

My family's favorite were the ones I rubbed with a little bbq sauce. If you decide to try the bbq kale chips look for low sugar bbq sauce."

 

 

If this recipe was a hit with your family, let us know in the comments below!

Here at FRESH Start, our mission is to share simple steps to better health that the whole family can get on board with - and we want to know how we're doing! Drop a note below and let us know.

Easy, Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes You Can Cook

Do you ever find yourself perusing the fresh foods section of the grocery store, wondering what the heck you’re to do with all those great-looking veggies? 

You know you are supposed to eat more of them, you hear about the benefits to that all the time, but just don’t know how to fix them?

Today, I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to make easy and fast veggie sides for dinner.  No, not the pop-in-the-micro kind!  Those can be a great backup plan, but let’s explore these dishes and let you decide which ones sound truly delicious to you!

Here are a few ideas to try

Greens Made Easy

Cooking greens used to intimidate me, but after a couple practice tries, this dish is now a constant go-to in this house! 

Besides being rich with benefits, like iron, antioxidants, and minerals, collard greens are also very tasty and filling. I even get a couple of the kids to dig into this one!

How to make them:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 head collard greens,

  • half fresh lemon, squeezed over the greens

  • ready-made real bacon bits

  • ¼ sweet onion, diced

  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Slice up the greens in thin ribbons of about ½ inch thick, and 3-4 inches long, set aside.

  2. Place large sauté pan or wok over medium to high heat, add oil to pan.

  3. Add onions, garlic to hot oil, sauté for about a minute.

  4. Add in the greens and bacon bits, allowing the greens to wilt for about 2 minutes.

  5. Squeeze the fresh lemon over the wilted greens, stir one or two more times, remove from heat. Serve!

Sweet Potato “Fries”

A favorite at our place, and we were so glad to discover that sweet potatoes are a super-food, packed with many healthy benefits! 

Carotene (which is Vitamin A and gives the potato it’s orange color), and minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron give this great-tasting treat it’s superpower! 

We love it many ways, but the oven-roasted “fries” are a fave of the pickier eaters around our place!

Ingredients:  

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into thin strips (1/4 inch by 2-3 inches)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Himalayan pink salt (or ANY salt to your taste)

  • Fresh cracked pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Roll the fries in the olive oil until coated gently

  2. Salt and pepper them, then roast at a high heat (375-425 degrees, depending on your oven) for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy and done.

    Too easy, too delicious, very healthy as a side dish or snack!

Black Bean & Sweet Corn Salsa

Over time, corn (esp sweet corn!) has gotten a bad rap in the health-eating industry ... but you may be happy to know, it is STILL healthy (as is most every other God-made food!)

Because it is a veggie higher in sugar content, it is better to eat it it in small amounts.  We mainly enjoy corn as one ingredient in a dish instead of the main dish.

Corn contains many health benefits for your body, like lutein (which fights macular degeneration in our eyes!) as well as several vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phospherous.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweet corn (you can use frozen, just allow it to thaw)

  • 1 can rinsed and drained black beans

  • ¼ sweet onion, diced

  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp Italian dressing OR 2 fresh limes, squeezed & stirred into mixture

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.

  2. Refrigerate for two hours or more before serving for flavors to mix and blend.

Hopefully you are encouraged now to try these yummy, easy and yes, healthy dishes in your own kitchen. 

Healthy veggies sides can (and should!) be vibrant, easy and enjoyed by the whole family!  Let me know what you think of these helpful ideas in the comments below.

Jicama Slaw

Looking for a healthy side dish for that next gathering (to replace a maybe-not-so-healthy-choice!) or just to add as a filling and tasty side dish to your grilled chicken or fish? 

This beautiful, super-easy side salad is a perfect pairing to any FRESH entree! Try it and then tell us it's not your new favorite!

jicama slaw.jpg

Here's how to make this easy side dish:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium Jicama Root, grated with a cheese grater

  • 1/2 finely diced orange, yellow or red bell pepper (or you can use mini-sweet bells, too!)

  • 1/2 de-seeded cucumber, diced finely

  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced (less if it's a strong one! You don't want the flavor to overtake the slaw!)

  • Handful FRESH Cilantro, minced lightly with sharp knife (so as not to bruise it!)

  • 1/2 to 1 large lime, squeezing the juice directly into slaw mixture (to taste)

  • 2/3 of small can of Mandarin Orange Slices, diced (add just 1-2 Tbsp of the juice, but not all of it!)

Instructions:

Stir all the ingredients together, adding or tweaking anything you'd like to your unique taste (such as 1/2 fresh jalapeno, diced, for heat.) 

Refrigerate mixture for about 1-2 hours then stir thoroughly again and serve!

Enjoy as a FRESH and healthy side dish that everyone loves! At potlucks and gatherings around our house, this dish gets wiped clean!

How to Make Cha Cha Cha Chiata! {Or Chia Pudding, FRESH Start style!}

So I have to confess...

I really thought all the hoopla about Chia Seeds was maybe just another "health food fad" ... but then I kept reading about the energy that people were getting from this miracle seed! And since that was something I so desperately needed to increase in my life, I decided to give this tiny little seed a chance in my diet! Oh boy, am I glad I did!

Energy increase, anyone?

Yes, Chia Seeds increase your energy, and I'm living proof!

But don't ask me, let's look at the long-time use of this miracle seed in other cultures to see how it works!

  • Chia seeds grow natively in South America, since as early as 3500 B.C.

  • They were eaten by the Aztecs and Mayans and used as energy-sources for them, as well as a property of some medicines!

  • Modern day chia seeds are now grown in other parts of the world, including US and Australia!

  • Only 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds produces 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of healthy fat!

  • This same amount also gives your body 30% of it's necessary magnesium and manganese (2 minerals we're often deficient in!)

  • 2 Tbsp of these seeds also delivers 18% of your body's daily need for calcium!

Have I convinced you of the powerhouse these little seeds are?

I was convinced! Now to try them for myself...

I wanted to use chia seeds simply - but found that putting them in my smoothie BEFORE blending just created a texture to the whole smoothie that I was not loving! (I'm texture sensitive, so that's a big deal to me! Anyone know what I mean?) So now, sometimes I add into the smoothie AFTER I've blended it up!

My favorite way to get my daily Chia Seeds though, is by making Chia pudding (or in our case, Cha Cha Cha Chiata!)

I've seen plenty of recipes for Chia Pudding, but again, because of my "texture sensitivities" I found that I didn't really enjoy it made  that thick. So I've created one I absolutely love and look forward to "drinking" as a powerful addition to my energy-meals daily!

{We call it "Chiata" because my Latino hubby says this drink reminds him of his "horchata," a popular drink in his culture! Only this "chata" has chia - hence the new name CHIATA!}

jar of chiata.jpg

Here's how to make it FRESH Start style!

Cha Cha Cha Chiata

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chilled almond or coconut milk (or any other unsweetened plant-based milk)

  • 1.5 to 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (if you want thicker consistency, add a little more)

  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (or just eye it and drizzle)

  • 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup (try it first without and only add if you need extra sweetness)

  • quick shake of ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Using a small mason jar, shake all ingredients together for a minute or two. Then place in fridge and enjoy within a few minutes or hours later.

  2. The chia seeds will swell up, absorbing the liquid and become easily ingested either by using a spoon or drinking straight from the jar.

I dare you to replace one of your current choices for energy drink in the morning or afternoon with this delicious chiata from ingredients you can find anywhere! You'll never miss the ups and downs of the other drink, but will truly enjoy the steady, ongoing energy you get from this drink!

Did you like this recipe? Get plenty more right here!

Then let us know how YOU make YOUR Chiata in the comments below!

Sweet Green Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie recipe is close to my heart as a crunchy mama, because it's the first smoothie recipe I could get my uber-picky 9-year-old daughter (now 13!) to eat and actually enjoy.  She swears by it to all her friends now, and loves the fact that she is getting a serving of veggie in every glass (but can’t taste it!)

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 cups baby spinach

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 5-6 ice cubes

  • 3 ounces low-sugar Vanilla Greek yogurt (1/2 small container)

  • 1/2 green apple, peeled and cored

  • 1/2 banana

  • 1/4 cup water (or to taste)

  • Drizzle of honey (if needed for sweetness)

Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend them on high until smooth (usually about 1-2 full minutes in a regular blender). Serve with a dallop of canned whipped cream on top for a fun extra to this healthy and nutritious smoothie!

Easy to make, no added sugar, and protein-rich for a quick, healthy breakfast option.  You just can’t go wrong with this family-friendly smoothie recipe!  

Weight loss tip: Drink down 8-12 ounces of this smoothie at mealtime for a fabulous weight loss meal replacement that keeps you feeling satisfied.

Got picky eaters in your house like me? Try this healthy green smoothie with them, then let us know...did they like it? You can post here in the comments or over in our free FRESH Start Online Community on Facebook.

If you liked this recipe, we think you'll enjoy these as well:

Berry Nutty Smoothie (Our signature smoothie)

Healthy Homemade Pizza

How to Cook Quinoa + Recipes

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS NEWEST POWER-GRAIN ON THE MARKET YET?

I had heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAA) in all the "health food" circles, but had never tried it for myself.  Now, though, I've tried it several different ways, and I LOVE the simplicity of this grain, the numerous and incredible benefits all packed into one tiny seed, and the variety I can use in preparing it! 

Turns out, this tasty super food isn't new at all, as it was enjoyed by the Incas in ancient times, and other native South Americans, where they dubbed it the "mother of all grains!"

One of the reasons I held off in trying quinoa was because of all the fuss in the foodie circles about the "high cost" of it compared to rice and other more common household grains.  I've got a solution for that, too!  With some careful planning and watching, I get quinoa at the neighborhood health food markets for as little as $3 a pound.  You just have to watch for it to go on sale and buy more of it then.  It is usually cheaper sold in bulk, instead of prepackaged.

(Update: Costco is a great place to get it at a lower price in bulk as well!)

HERE'S HOW TO MAKE IT:

Prepare quinoa by boiling 1/2 cup of the grains with 3/4 to 1 cup of water or broth (for extra flavor!)  It only takes about 12 minutes, with the pot covered, and at a soft boil, for the grain to be completely cooked. 

It stays a wonderful slightly crunchy-chewy consistency for even up to a few days after cooking!  I try to cook enough for another meal or two after the first one where I serve it fresh.  It is so tasty leftover, added to a fresh salad as a protein-rich topper.  (One of the top benefits of this grain is the high amount of lean protein found in it - 8 grams in a cup of it!)

Here are two ideas for quinoa recipes you can try for your own family:

ORANGE & ALMOND QUINOA RECIPE

orange & almond quinoa edited.jpg

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 fresh orange (peeled, separated into bite size sections)
handful toasted, sliced almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
garnish - sliced green onions

Instructions

Cook quinoa and fluff. Add almonds, orange sections, salt & pepper. Toss together. Squeeze 1/4 cup fresh orange juice over and toss again to coat.

CILANTRO LEMON QUINOA RECIPE

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 fresh lemon
handful toasted pine nuts
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions

Cook quinoa and fluff. Squeeze lemon juice over grain, and stir in pine nuts and cilantro. Toss together with sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

These dishes make a wonderful side to fish, chicken or as a vegetarian main dish with steamed or sauteed vegetables on the side.

HERE ARE A FEW MORE RECIPES WE THINK YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

One-Pot Summer Salmon Dinner

Asian-Inspired Grilled Chicken Thighs

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Quinoa makes such a great part of a healthy (and easy!) dinner meal plan for the week, so use this make-ahead recipe often as a great grain for family meals. To help you create the meal plan a little easier, download these totally free printables from us! Let us know what's on your meal plan this week in the comments below.

Fresh Bean Relish

This FRESH Bean Relish is easy, Delish, and full of natural fiber! 

Our family enjoys this quick dish often with grilled chicken or as a side to fish. 

Hint: It turns out best with all the ingredients rinsed and completely drained, and then refrigerated overnight.  It’s one of those dishes that just gets better with time!

This recipe has helped our family eat more beans, which are rich in fiber and other nutrients for the body.  I personally have never enjoyed beans, but this dish has a way of hiding the “bean taste” in the goodness of the overall dish, and I have enjoyed it often now.

Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Bean Relish

Ingredients

•    1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas
•    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
•    1½ cups frozen sweet corn, thawed & drained
•    1/2 cup chopped onion
•    1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
•    1 (4 ounce) can mild green chiles
•    1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
•    1 cup Italian-style salad dressing
•    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

1.    In a medium bowl, combine black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.

2.    Season with Italian-style salad dressing and garlic powder - mix well.

3.    Cover and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.

If you prefer fresh tomatoes, substitute 1 3/4 cup for the canned diced tomatoes.  For a spicier relish, switch out the mild green chiles for jalapeno peppers, either fresh diced or canned!

Sweet Corn Salsa

This summery salsa is delicious, combining both the sweet bite of the corn and the tangy goodness of the red onion.  It is a simple salsa to serve over fish or alongside a grilled dinner entree.  

Sweet Corn Salsa 

Ingredients

•    1 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
•    1/4 medium red onion
•    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
•    1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes (about 3/4 cup)
•    1/2 small jalapeno, finely diced - (Add only if you like heat in your salsa!)
•    1-2 key limes (to taste)

Instructions

1.    Roast sweet corn over medium-high heat in a small fry pan for about 2 minutes, turning often to prevent burning.  (Use teaspoon butter or olive oil to keep from burning.)  Pull corn off the heat and let cool.  
2.    Chop red onion into thin, short slices, adding it to the corn.  Stir in the cilantro, and halve the cherry tomatoes, adding them in to the mix.  Squeeze the lime onto the salsa, then sprinkle sea salt, cracked ground pepper, and a tablespoon olive oil into mix, stir together.  
3.    The natural crunchy sweetness of the corn and tangy addition of the tomatoes and red onion mix beautifully to make a great summer salsa!

Warning:  May be slightly addictive to your family, and you’ll have to make another batch!

Super Simple Tabouleh Recipe

Since sharing this super simple tabouleh, an easy Mediterranean diet staple, with our Fresh Start Coaching Team at our Fall ReFRESHed Conference, there have been tons of requests for this recipe! In fact, several of our coaches were very surprised at how simple this dish is AND how totally delicious it is as a great left-over snack.

Enjoy it with seed crackers or cucumber slices, on sweet potato chips or with warm Naan or Pita bread. It’s a perfect vegan super-fresh protein main dish if you just double the quinoa! This is also a great go-to dish to take to potlucks and get-togethers too. This Tabouleh dish is ALWAYS wiped clean at any gathering!

Super Simple Tabouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch parsley

  • 1/3 Sweet Onion

  • 1-2 Small Tomatoes

  • Olive Oil

  • Onion Powder

  • Garlic Powder

  • 1 FRESH Lemon

  • 1/2 -1 cup Cooked Quinoa (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Chop the parsley fine, dice sweet onions and tomatoes, and stir them all together in medium bowl.

  2. Drizzle olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon) into mix and add a good sprinkle of the seasonings.

  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mix, add in the cooked quinoa and stir it all together.

  4. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least a couple hours (even overnight is fine!) to allow the flavorings to blend.

  5. Serve with seed crackers, feta cheese and olives for a Mediterranean FRESH snack!

We would LOVE to hear how you like this healthy snack too, so stop by our Facebook Page and let us know what you think of this Super Simple Tabouleh recipe!

What do you love to serve with your Tabouleh? Our favorites are seed crackers and cucumbers but we are always looking for fresh new ideas!

Berry Nutty Smoothie

I have discovered how to have real, lasting (non-crash-and-burn) ENERGY in the morning - and it's with my Berry Nutty Smoothie!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my cup of coffee, too...so of course I was THRILLED to find that coffee, made "right" has powerful benefits! (Did I just say coffee has BENEFITS? Yes! More on that in another post soon!) 

This smoothie is full of vitamin, mineral and energy-increasing benefits! It is the answer for morning POWER...raise your hand if that sounds like something you could use!

It is like drinking your vitamins every morning! Only takes about 3-5 minutes to whip up and enjoy...oh, and even my picky kids love it!

Smoothies have been around a long time,

so this idea of a liquid breakfast is nothing new.  There are many variations of healthy shakes - many brands, powders, and formulas to choose from out there. But so many of those are loaded with sugar, additives, coloring, etc...why not go FRESH instead? It's too easy! Like so many of my busy-bee clients, I used to struggle with getting a good breakfast eaten before the busy day started...so this easy, quick smoothie has solved that problem!

Are you ready for more energy in your mornings without the “help” of sugar or caffeine? 

Here you go!

Berry Nutty Smoothie

Ingredients

smoothie step 1.jpg

1/2 cup plain or low-sugar Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened almond, coconut, rice, or soy milk
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (start with less for first couple smoothies)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries such as strawberries, cherries, or blueberries
1 banana for creamier, sweeter smoothie
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil or other Nut Butter
5-6 cubes ICE (If berries aren’t frozen)
1/2 cup water, or more if desired
OPTIONAL but RECOMMENDED: add in 1-2 handfuls FRESH baby spinach or kale

Instructions

  1. Blend at high speed until ingredients are smooth. (Add water or milk as needed to achieve desired consistency!)

  2. Makes 2 – 3 smoothies

This snack also makes a great meal replacement, afternoon snack, or dessert when that sweet tooth starts calling!  FULL of protein, natural energy and detoxifying ingredients, this smoothie is more than a non-guilty pleasure - it's GREAT for your health!

smoothie Jov.jpg

Squirt a little whipped cream over the top for a beautiful and delicious splurge.  We often serve it up in wine glasses, just to feel pampered!

Are smoothies new to you? Or something you've been including in your healthy habits all along? Would love to hear from you in the comments below! Oh and be sure to JOIN THE CONVERSATION in our FREE community! We talk smoothies, FRESH food and healthy habits DAILY over there!