Friday, October 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Pizza Recipe

All this week, I have been experimenting with different types of pizza crusts (whole wheat, flax and chia seeds, cauliflower, eggplant, etc). Mostly good results; however, my favorite one was made with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Whole Grain Mix. It was fairly cheap, $3.29 per 16oz bag, and tasted great! I was going to mix this with cauliflower; however, genius me left it in a brown bag in my kitchen and it went bad :/ I ended up using the recipe on the back of the bag for the crust and it is by far my favorite! I halved the recipe and make gluten-free cinnamon rolls along with it. Another win in the bag. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Gluten-Free Pizza 
Yield: two 12-inch pies or one 16-inch pie
1 pkg gluten free pizza crust
1 1/4c warm water
2 eggs
2T olive oil
1 yeast packet (comes in the bag)
Toppings: sauce, meat, cheese, etc

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine water and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Add eggs and oil to mixture and blend.
4. Add GF pizza crust mix and blend for 1 minute.
5. Split the dough in half and leave in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
6. Place dough on greased pizza pan. Using wet hands (really important), spread out dough to cover the full pan.
7. Bake for 7-9 minutes.
8. Top with desired toppings and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
**I used just a basil pasta sauce, rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, fresh spinach, and shredded cheddar/mozzarella cheese. Quick and tasty!

My finished product!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Top 5 Reasons to Get Off The Diet Wagon

Raise your hand if you like dieting. I bet no one, except that crazy lady in the corner, raised their hand (not that I could see you or anything :)). Most of us don't enjoy the crash dieting where we cut out our favorite foods only to massively crave them later. Most of us don't enjoy having to constantly tell people we are on a diet (for the 100th time). Most of us don't enjoy watching friends and family chow down on that delicious chocolate cake while we are stuck eating celery.

Despite having all these negatives attached to dieting, people still do it anyway! It may seem worth it to you at the moment; however, you are only recking havoc on your body (physically and emotionally). If you are wondering, "What do I do when I go off the diet wagon (permanently)," then keep reading because after my top 5 reasons for getting off the diet wagon you will see what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Without further adieu, here we go!

#1: End the horrible cycle of guilt
Scenario: You go to a friend's house for a party. There's chips, dip, desserts, etc (a diet-goer's worst nightmare). Unless you've brought your own stash of food, your surrounded by choices, and probably unhealthy ones. If you indulged in a few of these foods, you probably thought this at some point, "OMG. Tomorrow, I need to get back on my diet." Or you thought, "Well, there goes my diet for the day. I should just pig out now." Or you thought, "Great, there goes all my hard work into losing weight." Chances are that once you had those thoughts, you also had the wave of guilt. I'm saying this from experience too. I used to count calories, diet, and starve my body of the nutrients it needed. If I ever indulged in something I thought was "bad," I immediately gave myself the guilt-trip.  I was mad at my lack of self control, upset at the amount of food, and saddened by the fact that food had more control over me than I did. END THE CYCLE OF GUILT!

#1: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Scenario: You go to that same friend's house. You have a few desserts and you feel good about it! You know you ate healthy before you came and you know you'll be eating healthy tomorrow. It is not a big deal that you indulged and you move on.

#2: Get your metabolism back on track
When you go on a diet that cuts calories drastically, your body responds by holding onto its energy reserves. It does that as part of a defense mechanism from eons ago when we had periods of starvation. So, if you think starving yourself will make you lose weight, your in for a surprise. You'll probably lose a few pounds in the beginning; however, you will plateau. Your metabolism turns to sludge while your body works to maintain life. On the contrary, by feeding yourself the proper amount of food each day, your metabolism increases and is more efficient at burning calories. (Side note: your metabolism also increases via exercise, especially weight-training).

#2: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Feed your body the nutrients it needs. Don't go for long periods without eating. More often than not, extended periods without food can cause binge-eating at the next meal. Balance your meals with healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

#3: Eliminate diet-stress from your mind and body
Being on a diet is often stressful. Planning what you are going to eat when you are at home or out with friends. Worrying about the choices you will have when you go to parties. Figuring out how to add in extra exercise after your "off-the-wagon-experience." Finding that random super-healthy-food-that-will-cure-all. Eliminate this stress (and again guilt) by foregoing the diet mentality. Remember, it is okay to indulge once in a while! Diets, especially the ones that severely cut calories, can cause nutrient deficiencies because of those higher calorie nutrient-dense foods that "no longer fit in".

#3: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
One strategy for minimizing diet-stress and moving towards a healthy lifestyle is to bring your own healthy dish to a party. Bring something you will enjoy and can rely on to be nutrient-dense. Not all parties I have gone to have the best choices. If it is a special occasion, I'll just have my normal meals throughout the day; then, choose the best options there. If it is a regular occasion, like dinner every Thursday at so-and-so's house, then bringing your own healthy dish is a way to go. 

#4: Eat your favorite foods
Scenario: Now that I am on diet X, I can no longer eat: cookies, candy, chips, fruit, yogurt, pasta, bread, potatoes, corn, green beans, applesauce, etc. So, what's left is basically water.
Scenario: You have avoided _______ (insert favorite food) for a month now. You go to a friend's house and ______ is there. As much as you eliminated it from your life, it creeps back in. Just one bite turns into "Oops I ate the whole thing." Which turns into, "Well, there goes my diet!" Which turns into the guilt cycle...again. See where I am going here?

#4: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Have your favorite foods! Now, I'm not saying to go all out on a cookie binge; however, if you feel like having ice cream one night, do it! Just portion it out and enjoy. Sometimes, if I'm looking for a sweet treat, I'll mix a little cool whip with raw walnuts and peanut butter (and of course my Lactase pills!). If your not someone who is good with portion control, then only buy single serve cartons when you get the craving. You can also find substitutes for your favorite foods that you enjoy just as much!

#5: Get your hormones back in balance
Not only can dieting alter your mood; but, it can also alter your hormones. When we have chronic stress in our lives, cortisol, aka the stress hormone, increases along with visceral fat, inflammation, and blood pressure. Crash dieting can also cause you to have increased food preoccupation due to the fact that Ghrelin (hormone that tells you to eat) increases and Leptin (hormone that tells you to stop eating) decreases. This, in turn, can lead to overeating.

#5: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
-Eat well-balanced meals (healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrates) to keep your hunger at bay and hormones in check! 
-Don't stress about eating "bad" foods once in a while. 
-Push away guilt and instead focus on the fact that it is a lifestyle and not a diet. 
-Plan out your own healthy dish to bring to events! 
-Have your favorite foods in small portions! Better yet, get creative in the kitchen to find healthy recipes that satisfy the sweet tooth. 
-Keep your metabolism in full gear by fueling your body with the energy it needs and staying active. -De-stress your life with a few moments of reflection or quiet each day. 

As I sit here writing this blog, I am eating scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites) with Parmesan cheese and tomatoes and drinking coffee. I also had a sweet craving and had a chocolate nugget. Yes sir, chocolate at 8am. NO REGRETS :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Vegetarian Chickpea Salad

At my latest work demonstration, I tried out a new recipe for my vegetarian clients. It is very similar to how a tuna salad is made; however, chickpeas are subbed for the tuna.  Came out way better than I was expecting and it was a 100% success (in terms of acceptability by testers)! Chickpeas are a great source of molybdenum (works to breakdown protein in the body), manganese, folate (prevents neural tube defects), copper, and iron. One serving of chickpeas (1/2c) provides 6g fiber and 6g protein. For those of you who are not vegetarian (or are lacto-ovo vegetarians), eggs would be another great addition to boost the protein content!

Vegetarian Chickpea Salad
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1T mayonaise (can sub avocado for a healthy fat)
1T lemon juice
1 tsp. dill weed
Dash salt and pepper

1. Mash chickpeas in a large bowl.
2. Add rest of ingredients to bowl and mix well.

Options for Serving
-On a bed of lettuce, no dressing needed!
-As a dip for veggies (carrots, celery, etc) or crackers.
-Wrapped in lettuce leaves for a snack or appetizer.
-As a starchy side dish for chicken or fish.