Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spice up your health with these 5 fall flavors

If you’re like us, you rarely crave cinnamon, clove and ginger in the hot summer months when the 90-degree weather has you sweating buckets. But the minute the leaves change, you pull out your favorite wool hat and see all of the autumn inspired boards on pinterest you have an instantaneous need to add those flavors to your sauces, coffees and baked goods. 

These earthy, potent spices can not only warm you up on a cold fall day, they also have many nutritional benefits that aid in digestion, support your body fighting off viruses and help you maintain optimal health during the colder months.

Check out our top five fall spices that not only add pizzazz to your family’s favorite meals and beverages but also to give your favorite foods a natural health boost.

This powerful anti-oxidant supports healthy blood sugar levels as well as improves memory and cognitive function. A dose of cinnamon in the morning will help all members of your family start each day alert and focused. Check out our recipe for pumpkin pancakes; these tasty breakfast cakes contain cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin – a perfect trifecta of nutrition, flavor and focus!

Not only does it have a cool name, this little pod has the power to stop cravings, aid in digestion, alleviates bad breath and halt a nasty case of the hiccups. Cardamom is best used after dinner as it will help you digest even the richest meals; we recommend adding ground cardamom to your favorite desserts. To give these yam apple cupcakes a little twist, add a tsp of ground cardamom or if you need a quick pick me up simply add two cardamom pods to you tea and enjoy the menthol goodness. 

This spicy and flavorful root is another fantastic digestive aid that can help alleviate even the queasiest stomach. Ginger can also be used if your little one is fighting a cold - not only does it boost the immune system it also acts as a natural decongestant. Check out our warming and healing Ginger Sipper for an easy way to get your child to drink this healing root. 

This dried berry is a nutritional powerhouse as it contains manganese, copper, magnesium and other disease preventing phytochemicals. In laymen’s terms, nutmeg can help you sleep better, reduce pain and inflammation and help the body absorb calcium. Nutmeg is delicious in hot chocolate, savory bisques and your favorite fall inspired desserts. Check out our recipea for vegan sweet potato cinnamon rolls for a creative way to incorporate veggies and nutmeg into your family’s dessert. 

This potent flower bud (yes, clove is actually a dried flower bud) is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory especially when it comes to joints. So next time you’re feeling achy, whether it’s a post-work out ache or a “I’ve got the flu” ache, load up on clove! For a protein and clove filled dessert, check out our recipe for Sugar and Spice Nuts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spooky Witches Brew

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! We all know that come October 31st the something good to eat will most likely be loads and loads of sugar.  This month we're here to offer something good to eat that's spooky, delicious, loaded with protein and of course hidden veggies.  This All Hallow's Eve night, wow your little ones with black bean witches brew and Veggie Wedgie fingers as a pre-trick or treating snack.

Black Bean Witches Brew:
1 cup drained black beans
2 Tbs sour cream
1 clove garlic chopped
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
a squeeze of lime
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 2 minutes or until ingredients are a hummus like consistency. Add more water (about a Tbs at a time) if the dip is too thick.  Put into serving bowl and let chill for at least 20 minutes.

Veggie Wedgie Fingers:
1 bag of your favorite veggie wedgies
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds for fingernails
2 Tbs Black Bean Witches Brew

Cook Veggie Wedgies by following instructions on the bag.  Place fries on your serving dish. Use the bean dip to help keep the “fingernail” in place by dabbing a small amount of dip on the edge of each fry. Place one pumpkin seed or almond sliver over the bean dip and presto, you have spooky witch fingers!

Servings: About 4

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sugar and Spice and everything nice!

This week the Peas Perspective is here to talk about the "nicest" natural sweeteners on the market. It can be overwhelming to pick a sweetener this day and age as there are ENTIRE aisles at the grocery store dedicated to natural and non-natural sweeteners.

To keep things simple we made a list of the nine most popular sweeteners available today and compared them by calories, nutritional benefits, where they fall on the glycemic index and taste.  In case you were wondering what the glycemic index is, we've also got that covered.  The glycemic index is a number given to a particular food that indicates the food's effect on a person's blood sugar level.  To keep things simple, when it comes to sweeteners, the lower the number, the better.

Agave, molasses, brown rice syrup, honey and maple syrup are all liquid sweeteners.  Molasses, brown rice syrup and maple syrup are all wonderful when used in baked goods. Honey and agave are best when used in hot and cold liquids (i.e.: hot tea and iced coffee).  Coconut sugar and turbinado sugar can be used exactly as you would white sugar.  Stevia is VERY sweet so follow the directions on the stevia packaging.

Happy baking and don't forget to STAY SWEET!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Food of the Month - Cauliflower

Cauliflower is the ugly duckling of the vegetable world. To some, she is the bland white, knobby thing that ruins the frozen vegetable medley that we all keep stocked in our freezer. Or maybe she’s that horrible side dish that comes boiled and under-seasoned when you have dinner at Aunt Margaret’s house.  But to us, she’s SO much more.  All you have to do is take off her glasses and add a little lip-gloss and POW, she can be your new favorite vegetable. If you can’t already tell, this month we’re celebrating cauliflower, one of our favorite fall/winter vegetables.

First things first, why eat cauliflower? Not only is it totally de-lish, it’s a member of the cruciferous veggie family. Like it’s brothers and sisters (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale), it’s loaded with Vitamin C and K, folate, fiber and B6.  Cauliflower also helps the body naturally detoxify and has a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Now, how do we glam-ify this nutritionally packed veggie?  Here are our top three favorite way to make cauliflower kid/husband friendly.
When you turn a head of cauliflower into this famous junk food staple; you’ll totally turn heads. Check out our delicious recipea for BBQCauliflower wings. They look and taste just like your favorite finger food but they’re all veggie, have a perfectly crunchy outside and a deliciously “meaty” inside and are totally gluten-free.

When you turn cauliflower into this fancy Italian dish, you’ll leave your family singing, “when the moon hits your eye like a big dish of RISOTTO…that’s amore-eee.”  Simply dice up a half a head of cauliflower (dice into very small, rice like pieces) and add to your favorite risotto recipe. Most recipes call for you cook the onions and garlic then add your veggies (before you add the Arborio rice), this is when you’ll add the cauliflower. You want it to cook down and become creamy like the rice. Use a large pot because this will give you more servings of risotto. Most people won’t even know that you’ve replaced a good amount of the main ingredient with a veggie!

And our final cauliflower recommendation is something you don’t have to make yourself. Our FAVORITE way to eat this nutrient powerhouse is via our delicious AND fat-free cauliflower VEGGIE WEDGIES.  A serving of Peas of Mind’s cauliflower veggie fries contain 2 servings of veggies, are gluten-free, vegan and can be prepared in about 12 minutes.  If you want to spice up a bag of fries, check out our garlic fry recipe and get ready for your little ones to ask for seconds and thirds!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Eating for BEAU-TI-FUL skin this FALL!

If you haven’t noticed already, we LOVE eating seasonally….especially when the season is FALL!  I know, this past June we gushed about summer produce but we take it back autumn inspired dishes are our favorite. 

We also love the harvests of fall because
  1. Fall produce is delicious.
  2. Fall produce is warming and contains nutrients that keep you healthy during the cold, shorter days of September, October and November.
  3. Many of your favorite fall vegetables and fruits are incredible when it comes to keeping your skin looking young, acne-free and fresh!
You heard that right…. your favorite fall foods are incredible for your skin!  Check out the below list of fall fruits and veggies that are guaranteed to make sure your skin glows this autumn.

KALE, BRUSSEL SPROUTS and APPLES are high in vitamin C which is key in the production of collagen which is that key ingredient in many of your expensive beauty products. Collagen is a protein that aids in the growth of blood vessels and cells and helps skin stay firm.  Also, load up your accident prone kiddo with lots of vitamin C as this nutrient is great at helping skin repair itself and can (overtime) dull even the gnarliest scars.

PUMPKIN is the king of fall and the king of skin care.  Pumpkin puree contains crazy high levels of vitamin A, which softens and brightens skin.  Pumpkin is not only for eating this fall, Pumpkin is a fantastic base for a DIY facemask! If you have dry skin mix 2 Tbs with 1 tsp of honey, apply in a circular motion and let dry for about 20 minutes and your skin will feel hydrated and soft.  If you have acne-prone skin substitute honey with apple cider vinegar and follow the same instructions. 

PUMPKIN SEEDS are high in Zinc which protects your cell membranes and promotes the creation of new skin. Zinc also helps the body regulate oil that can lead to blemishes.  Pumpkin seeds are the perfect purse snack as a very small handful will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

BEETS are not only your favorite dirt candy, they also brighten up your skin because they increase oxygen carrying ability in the blood. Next time you make a salad, load it up with freshly roasted beets; your tongue and skin will thank you.

CRANBERRIES AND POMEGRANATE are both loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which can reduce puffiness, acne and even fine lines.  The easiest way to get these benefits is by making a post dinner, pre-bed time cocktail of unsweetened REAL cranberry juice (this means the only ingredient should be cranberries…no sugar, no artificial sugar…just cranberries). Take a small 8 oz water cup and fill it about ¼ of the way with Cranberry or Pomegranate juice and fill the rest with water. Drink this every night (pre-tooth brushing of course) and we swear, you’ll start seeing that Autumnal glow!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waste not, Want not

Contrary to what many think, eating fresh vegetables and maintaining a healthy diet does not need add strain to your weekly grocery budget. In fact, there are many ways to utilize every part of certain vegetables to save money AND add even more of a nutrient power punch to your diet.

This week the Peas Perspective is here to give you some ideas on how to waste not and $ave more.  We're going to show you how to save common kitchen scraps that are usually thrown out and repurpose them so that they're delicious and even more nutritious.

When cutting scallions and green onions, start with the top, leaving the roots and white part of the onion untouched. Fill a small glass with an inch or two of water and place the chive bottoms in the water. Do not fully submerge the onion; only the roots and the very bottom of the onion should be in the water.  The onion will quickly (almost right before your eyes) start to regrow.  Next time you need a quick baked potato topping, they'll be ready and FREE.

After your artichokes are done steaming don't throw out the water.  Put it in a jar to save for later or if you're feeling extra motivated take a quick pre-dinner shot.  Artichoke tea and water is climbing the list of foods trends, the reason being is that the water is loaded with antioxidants, protects the liver and kidney, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  A great way to use this nutrient dense elixir is by simply adding it to the next soup you make; your family won't be the wiser but you'll know that there livers will!

Candied orange peels are one of our favorite fall treats. Check out Giada's recipe and don't forget to save your orange peels (or any other citrus for that matter); we recommend that you keep a ziplock bag of citrus peels in your freezer and add to it as you devour these tasty winter fruits. Then one Sunday when you're feeling inspired, defrost them and follow the above recipe.

Many people simply cut off the stalks or stems of the broccoli and toss them in the garbage. Which, let's face it, is usually about half of the vegetable.  Yes, the skin of the stalk tends to be woody and almost inedible, but what's inside is crispy and delicious.  Cut off the stalk as you normally would and use your knife to cut off the skin.  You can use a peeler but we find that a knife is easier to ensure that you get all of the skin off.  The middle of the stalk can be eaten right then and there as it's very crispy and moist; broccoli stalk also makes a fantastic addition to your vegetable platter, can easily be chopped into the perfect slaw or simply used with broccoli florets to steam and cook as you normally would broccoli.

Make vegetable stock!  If you're prepping a lot of veggies, there's no reason to throw anything away. Simply wash your veggies as you normally would and throw the scraps in a pot of boiling water.  We're talking onion skins, carrot peels and tops, potato skins, the tops of your favorite root vegetables. The only thing we don't recommend using in your stock is cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale as they tend to have an off putting smell when boiled for too long.

Okay... let's get scrappy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sloppy Jills!

We all know Sloppy Joe, right? He’s filling, messy, perfectly sweet and tangy and tends to spend lots of time in cafeterias.  But have you heard of his healthy, vegetarian and more sophisticated sister, Sloppy Jill? Probably not…because we just invented her! The Sloppy Jill sandwich is a nutritious, low-fat and more upscale version of the classic meat sandwich we all grew up loving.  Our reinvented version features lentils, which are loaded with protein and easy to digest and of course, hidden veggies!  This one pot meal will leave your family asking for “more SLOPPY JILL’S PEA-LEASE!”

1 ½ cup green or brown lentils
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic chopped
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup bell pepper
½ cup diced carrot
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cups water

- The morning you plan on making this meal, leave lentils to soak in a bowl of water.  This will shorten the cooking time of the lentils and make the beans more digestible.
- Rinse and drain soaked lentils and place in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to fully submerge the lentils and bring to a boil. Let the lentils simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked but still somewhat firm.
- Drain lentils and set aside.
- In the same pot you made the lentils in pour in oil, onions and garlic and let cook for about five minutes over medium heat.
- Add bell pepper and carrot and cook for another 8 minutes.
- Add lentils, ketchup, maple sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, mustard and water.
- Mix all ingredients together and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.  If you’d like the filling “sloppier” add a Tbsp of water at a time until you get your desired consistency. Add salt to taste.
- Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 10 minutes to thicken up.  
- Serve with your favorite sandwich bread or roll.

Serves 8