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Quick and Creamy Cauliflower Mash (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free, Whole 30)

I cant even begin to tell you how burnt out I am from my dietetic internship and masters program. The 8 hour days PLUS an additional 3-4 hours of homework, exams, etc. is really sucking the life out of me.

And even though I have the weekends to get ahead of my work, I end up doing the bare minimum so that I can do more important things like go to salt caves, farmers markets, coffee shops and 50% off sales at 5:00AM.

But seriously..

My sister, Candyce and I woke up at 5:00AM on Sunday to go a big half off sale at a boutique called Ooh La La.

Mind you, my internship is completely unpaid. But someone at the Gap thought it was a good idea to approve me for a Visa….

Anyways, I originally wanted to do a more elaborate recipe, but for lack of time I decided to go with a basic cauliflower mash. Sometimes it’s difficult to find such a simple and quick recipe so I think this worked out for the best. I whipped this side up in minutes and my family found it creamy and delicious. Feel free to add in chives, rosemary, thyme, cheese, or whatever other mixings you desire.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (you may also use the frozen cauliflower)
  • 1 cup less sodium chicken broth (or bone broth or vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Jackson Honest Chips as topping (I get mine at Whole Foods or Wild by Nature)

 

Directions:

  1. Cut head of cauliflower into florets and steam until tender
  2. Place ½ of the steamed florets into a food processor or blender ( I used the Vitamix)
  3. Add ½ cup of your chicken broth and blend until smooth
  4. Remove the blended mash and place in a bowl
  5. Toss the other ½ of florets into your blender, add the remaining ½ cup of broth and blend until smooth
  6. Remove mash and add into the bowl with the first batch
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste
  8. Crush up your yummy Jackson Honest chips and sprinkle on top!

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Avocado Citrus Dressing

I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that the groundhog was right and 6 more weeks of winter is among us. If you live on Long Island you were most likely off on todays “snow day”. By me it was legit rain. RAIN! I got all psyched for nothing. Despite the non-treacherous driving conditions I still had that snow day mentality, so I bummed around the house in my pajamas for hours before realizing I had no excuse to not get my ass BUTT to the gym. 

Side Note: I gave up red meat and cursing for lent (two very big sacrifices for me). One is going much better than the other..

When I came home from my workout I had this delicious salad and my quick and easy Avocado Citrus Dressing. I meant to add cilantro to the recipe but totes forgot to pick some up at the store. Overall it tastes creamy and refreshing and is very similar to tzatziki sauce.




My next blog post will be about listening to your body and how cutting back on exercise can actually help you lose weight. 

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and pitted
  • Fresh juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar with the mother
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tsp. honey (optional)
  • water

Directions:

  1. Purée all ingredients adding 1 tbsp of water at a time to thin to your preferred consistency

Salad Ingredients:

  • spinach or other leafy green
  • roasted organic chicken
  • Root and Bones Cordyceps (this is an adaptogenic herb I use to manage stress and give me energy)
  • vegetables of your choice (I did steamed carrots and broccoli,cauliflower rice, and organic bell pepper)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped scallion

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the root and bone cordyceps on your chicken and toss
  2. Throw all ingredients in a bowl and top with your avo citrus dressing!

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Buzzing Blueberry Smoothie (GF, Paleo, Dairy Free)

This smoothie may be low in sugar, but it’s high in nutrients and gets me buzzing with energy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic coconut milk (or any milk you like)
  • ½ cup frozen cauliflower florets
  • Handful of organic blueberries (berries are highly sprayed with pesticides so opt for organic if possible!)
  • 1 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter you like)
  • 1 packet stevia

Directions:

  1. Blend coconut milk and frozen cauliflower
  2. Add in blueberries, sunflower seed butter and stevia and blend once more

 

 

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Fruit-Free Green Smoothie (Low Sugar, Paleo, Whole 30, Gluten Free)

I’m not a huge fruit person. As a child all of my friends would reach into their lunch-boxes at snack time and pull out an apple or banana. Meanwhile my dad hooked me up with chocolate chip mini muffins and a fruit rollups. LIT.

But veggies were never a problem. Throw some ranch on the side and watch me go to town on a plate of raw carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Now, as an adult I’ve developed allergies to a significant amount of fruits so just more of a reason to stay away. This smoothie is not too sweet but it is creamy, filling and gets you buzzing with energy. Since my stress levels have been through the roof I decided to add some Root and Bones Reishi powder. This powder is an adaptogenic herb so if you have a lot of stress and anxiety in your day to day life just a teaspoon each day goes a long way. These adaptogens keep your body at an even keel by supporting your adrenals and thus decreasing your stress response. If you can’t get to a yoga class and make time to distress yourself then you should look into these ancient medicinal plants. Click HERE to get your Reishi on!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nut milk (I used macadamia milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ jicama
  • ½ juiced lemon
  • 1 cup steamed kale (raw kale is no bueno for your thyroid and will have you sprinting to the bathroom all day)
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tsp. Root and Bones Reishi (good for Stress relief)
  • 1 tsp. Maca powder (good for thyroid)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 5-8 mint leaves

 

Directions:

  1. Blend together nut milk, water and jicama
  2. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy!

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21 Day Sugar Detox Round 2!

Last month I completed the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Dianne Sanfilippo. After a long holiday season of cookies, cakes and other treats I needed something to get me back on track, but this detox did more than just that. My sugar cravings diminished and even 3 weeks post detox I no longer feel overpowered by the need for sweets. I have become one of those people who can eat one Reeses cup and NOT THE OTHER! Like what?! A little nibble of chocolate doesnt turn into a full blown binge anymore.

I’m excited to announce that my friend Lea and I are doing a round 2 of the detox. I loved seeing the positive changes I made physically and mentally and am excited to embark on the journey once more. During my detox a lot of people contacted me looking for help getting started. Whether this is your first, second or third time around I welcome you in joining us on the detox February 15th- March 8th.

Feel free to follow our progress, tips, tricks and recipes here and on my Instagram @CrunchandLunch as well as Lea’s @Lea_fitlife .

If you are interested in seeing a recap of my first round on the Sugar Detox (level 3) click HERE

This will also be Lea’s second time doing the 21DSD (level 1) and here was her progress from the first round:

10-12lbs lost!

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Tropical Chicken (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Yesterday was 60 degrees and today.. a blizzard.

WHY.

New York (especially LI) got hit with some crazy snow so I decided to channel tropical thoughts and create this healthy pineapple chicken dish.

Now, someone please fly me back to Key West so I can relive my sisters wedding at the Hyatt.

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 garlic
  • ginger powder
  • garlic powder
  • 1 olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 20 can pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup!!!) Save the juice
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. corn starch ( or arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp. cashews (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken breast into bite sized chunks and season with garlic powder and ginger powder to taste
  2. Heat oil in a skillet, add in the chicken and cook until golden
  3. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice in a separate bowl or cup
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the pineapple juice to the skillet with the chicken. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  6. Squeeze the lime into your pan and add in honey, coconut aminos, cornstarch, and the remainder of pineapple juice
  7. Bring to a boil stirring very frequently for 3-5 minutes or until thickened
  8. Add chicken and half of the can pineapple chunks to the pan with the sauce
  9. Top with cashews and serve over cauliflower rice or regular rice!

 

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What I Ate Wednesday #4

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Last week I was indulging on my double chocolate fudge birthday cake and today.. kale water.. LOL it actually wasn’t bad!

I’ve been experimenting with my dehydrator to make homemade green powder. After a few tries I finally made an easy to use kale powder that adds an nutrient boost to any recipe. Today my morning elixir consisted of warm water, 1/2 tsp. kale powder, lemon, ginger powder, tumeric and cinnamon. Before tossing in a packet of stevia to mask the odd combination of ingredients, I decided to take a sip and test it out in its raw form. Wasn’t bad! The stevia went back into the cabinet and I downed my kale water as is.

Today was my rest day so I went for a walk and then had steak, eggs and sauteed spinach for breakfast.

A few hours later I had 2 handful of crushed walnuts and homemade jerky

Lunch consisted of a simple salad of romaine, broccoli, radishes, baby corn, chicken and a sprinkle of kale powder. I dressed my salad with apple cider vinegar and EVOO.

Sunflower seed butter was my snack

By the time I got home from my internship all I wanted was food and sleep. I inhaled one of my chicken thighs and some string beans before realizing I needed to take a pic for my this post. I removed my one eaten chicken bone and quickly took this horrendous pic.

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Could Your Breakfast be Sabotaging Your Energy Levels and Fat Loss?

If you find yourself sluggish and/or hungry soon after breakfast it may be time to change things up!

A bowl of oatmeal topped with coconut sugar and fresh fruit is definitely a delicious way to start the day, but it’s all carbohydrates. It’s good to have carbs in your morning meal but too much (even the good kind) may lead to weight gain and sluggish energy.

What Happens When we Eat Carbohydrates?

  • Carbohydrates raise blood sugar signaling the release of a hormone produced in the pancreas called insulin. When blood sugar elevates insulin works to regulate these levels by taking up the sugar from your bloodstream and bringing it to your cells to use for energy. Insulin works to eliminate or store fat.
  • Too much insulin causes your body to stop burning fat and start storing it.

What Causes High Insulin Levels and Sugar Crash and How it Leads to Weight Gain 

  1. Refined carbs- When we eat low fiber refined carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, white bread, pasta, etc.) blood sugars rapidly increase (sugar rush). Insulin levels rise and quickly swoops in to take the sugar from your bloodstream (sugar crash).

2. Not including protein and fat in your meal– A breakfast consisting of sliced banana on 100%             whole wheat toast with a drizzle of honey has nutritional value, but its still all carbs. Although                 these complex carbs contain fiber which helps slow that rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin,             incorporating a protein and fat in the meal slows it down further. Remake your breakfast by                   adding greek yogurt or hard boiled egg for protein and nuts or nut butter for fat.

Do you find yourself needing to eat several times a day because of poor energy or hunger? Or do you think you’re hungry but you’re actually just tired? When we eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat we risk taking a ride on the sugar rollercoaster. When blood sugars run high and then crash it leads us to reach for more food soon after the meal we just had. The unfortunate result of this scenario is we tend to choose foods with high sugar content for quick energy. When we do this, the cycle repeats.

On another note fiber keeps us full, and since refined carbs contain little to no fiber eating a bowl of lucky charms for breakfast will not fill you up and lead to eating more food.

Carbs Stimulate Hormones That May Lead to Overeating 

Eating lots of carbs in the morning causes an increase in the calming hormone, serotonin and a decrease in cortisol, the hormone that gets us up and moving. Starting your day with a carb filled meal may make you feel tired and reaching for more food for energy.

If you have a hard time getting going in the morning try swapping out your bagel and cream cheese for an omelet with veggies and a slice of ezekial bread.

Bottom Line:

  • Eating a breakfast high in carbs (especially refined) and not incorporating protein and fat can lead to a sugar crash and overeating soon after your meal to compensate for lack of energy.
  • To avoid this eat complex carbohydrates full of fiber like fruits, veggies and wholesome grains like brown rice,  quinoa, and Ezekiel bread (or another quality 100% whole wheat bread).
  • Incorporate proteins and fats into all your meals

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Final Review and Weeks 2 and 3 Recap of the 21 Day Sugar Detox

Technically the detox ends in 2 days, but I’m stretching it out to my birthday this Wednesday to get some added satisfaction when I take that first bite of cake.

Nothing major will change from now to then so I’m gonna go ahead and recap the past two weeks. I will share my overall thoughts of the diet and the progress my family and I have made. If you would like to read my previous posts regarding the 21 Day Sugar Detox click the links below:

Starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox

Week 1 Recap of the 21 Day Sugar Detox

I would be lying if I said I was perfect the entire 21 days. Week one I stayed very strict, but week two there was so much going on that I’m actually impressed with how well I did. It’s like I was being put to the test.

And if I was the teacher I’d give myself an A– !

Week one I was surrounded by people doing the same detox as me, there were no outings or events, and although my cravings were strong I was able to push past them.

By day 7 it was as if someone flipped the switch– my cravings diminished. During week two it felt like I was doing something that surrounded me with food and alcohol everyday, but I wasn’t phased one bit by the sight of cake, wine, etc.

On Wednesday my sister, Candyce and I headed into the Manhattan to see Billy Joel at MSG.

Prior to the show we went to out to dinner. While Candyce sipped on Merlot I chugged my ice water with lemon. I ordered grilled steak and a salad but barely ate because I was too excited for the concert.

The following day I drove to my boyfriends apartment for an extended weekend stay. Andrew has the bare essentials in his fridge so the only thing I really had to stay away from was his stash of double stuffed Oreos– easy peasy.

Friday night we to dinner at a restaurant called Char where I (again) did not get glass of wine. I normally don’t eat so much red meat in a week, but I ordered another juicy grilled steak and truffle fries. Fries were my very obvious cheat but I didn’t care. At the end of the meal Andrew pointed out the warm chocolate chip cookie sundae but it didn’t even appeal to me!?! My biggest weakness has always been chocolate chip cookies, but my palate has changed to the point where my mouth watered over something savory (like fries) rather than a sugary treat.

Progress

This past week marks the Verna family’s final days on the sugar detox.

  • For me, not much as changed. I still feel great, my clothes fit looser, energy levels are high and I’m not a slave to any sugar cravings. I do not weigh myself or take measurements but I can tell I look leaner.

  • My Mom lost 5lbs and my brother lost 8lbs. Considering a healthy weight loss rate is 1-2 pounds per week, this is a great accomplishment on their part! They lost this weight with only diet, no exercise (imagine if they threw a few workouts in?!)
  • My Dad lost 3lbs. I called him out for cheating on his detox haha

Bottom Line:

  • Week one kind of sucked but we got through it
  • Week two the skies cleared and I had zero cravings (well, maybe except for caving in to those truffle fries)
  • Week three I feel lighter, have tons of energy and am more satiated throughout the day

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V(Egg)ie Bowl

This is a super easy recipe that does not require measurements. Feel free to add, omit or substitute ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • spinach
  • zucchini
  • cauliflower
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • radishes
  • bell pepper
  • egg
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Lay down a bed of spinach in a shallow bowl
  2. Spiralize (or slice) zucchini and sauté in olive oil until soft
  3.  Top spinach with zucchini
  4. sauté onions, cauliflower and broccoli and lay over spinach
  5. cook egg
  6. while egg cooks, slice radish and bell pepper and garnish your dish
  7. finish by adding the egg!