Mini Meatloaves (Gluten & Grain free) w/ Homemade Ketchup

May 26, 2015

Mini Meatloaves

 AKA “Meat muffins”

I love it when I come up with a recipe that is healthy, and passes the kid taste test – this recipe hit it out of the ballpark on both accounts!  Even my quinoa-hating daughter loved them – I only told her about the quinoa after she had decided that she loved them!  My kids like to call them “meat muffins” because they are made in muffin tins – which makes them even more fun!

I have already made this recipe twice, and my kids regularly ask for it – so I plan to make it again this week.  The leftovers make a great (hearty) after school snack, or a quick meal – but in my house, they don’t last for long!

Yield: 12 individual meat loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 pounds (approx.) ground grass fed beef*
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped (or grated)
  • 1 medium zucchini (organic)*, finely grated (yields about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery, very finely diced
  • 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 tsp of gluten free Worcestershire sauce (this is optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. of dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (for sautéing the onions), plus more for greasing the muffin tin

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.47 AM

Sauce (Ketchup):

  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of dijon mustard (or more if you like)
  • 1/2  tsp. Himalayan salt
  • pinch of ground cloves, pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of coconut palm sugar (or a few drops of stevia for a sugar free option – or honey, raw agave, or another natural sweetener.)  I found this to be the perfect sweetness, but add another teaspoon if you prefer.

Put the sugar into the vinegar and stir until it dissolves. Then add all the ingredients together, stir to combine – taste & adjust.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a muffin tin with avocado oil
  3. Cook the quinoa & let cool (this can be done a day ahead – just make sure to make enough to yield 3/4 cup cooked – I always make a little extra to save in the refrigerator to throw into a salad).
  4. Grate the zucchini (using fine grater) and squeeze out all the excess moisture with a couple of paper towels (I squeezed it over the sink).
  5. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, and very finely chop the celery and parsley.
  6. Heat a pan on medium, add in 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (or coconut oil). Add the onions and sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until soft & translucent.  Add in the garlic and celery and cook about 2-3 mins more.  Take onion mixture off heat, and let cool.
  7. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk them to break up yolks, and then add in all the other ingredients except beef (and the avocado oil, which is for sautéing).  Mix to combine.  Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.38 AM
  8. And finally – add in the grass fed beef – gently combining. (I find that it works best when I mix the beef in by hand).
  9. Scoop the meatloaf mixture into oiled muffin tins.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.26 AM
  10. Put into the pre-heated 375 degree oven and cook for 20 minutes. (I like to put a sheet pan underneath in case of any drippings).
  11. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Take muffin tin out of oven, spread a teaspoon of sauce on top of each meatloaf, return to 425 degree oven and cook another 10 minutes.
  12. Take out of oven, let rest 5 minutes, and then serve with additional sauce on the side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.04.57 AM

This recipe is great with steamed broccoli with some grass fed butter and mashed potatoes.   Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days (they won’t last that long)!

*A note about quality – I always make sure to go for grass fed beef – to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other additives – plus grass fed beef is higher in omega 3s and 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef – which studies have found helps to burn fat (read this article to learn more).  I also always choose organic for zucchini – because conventional zucchini is highly likely to be GMO, which I avoid because there is evidence that GMOs could be harming our gut health and even increase our risk of cancer.  And finally – I always look for organic pastured or free range eggs – which also have a higher amount of omega 3s and no antibiotics or hormones.

 

 

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Zucchini Pizza Crust

January 6, 2015

zucchini-crust

This crust is gluten free and delicious – and easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small organic zucchini (or one and a half large ones), grated
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds (I like to use ground ones for this, but either works)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea)
  • 1 TBS. Coconut oil (melted) – you will need a little more for the pizza stone
  • 1 tsp. good quality salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove – pressed, or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs – such as basil, oregano

Directions to Make the Pizza Dough:

  1. Put your pizza stone or pan into the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Crack eggs into bowl, and whisk them. Add in the chia seeds, let soak for a few mins.
  3. Now grate the zucchini.
  4. Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients in with the eggs, and stir to combine.
  5. Take pre-heated pizza stone out of the oven.  Coat area with coconut oil.  Spoon the dough evenly onto the stone. You can make 3 small individual pizza crusts, or one large one.
  6. Put the pizza stone into the lower third of the oven to bake for about 8 minutes.
  7. Move it up to the bottom of the upper third of the oven (not too close to the top). Cook for another 5-8 mins.
  8. It should be fairly firm and cooked through. If you put a spatula under it, it should not be soggy or bend too much.
  9. Now it is ready to add your toppings.
  10. Preheat the pizza stone in a 425 degree oven.  Add your toppings to the crusts and place them on the pre-heated stone and return it to the oven, bake until toppings melt, about 8-10 minutes.

Suggested toppings: carmelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced red peppers, slices green or black olives, and shredded goat or sheeps milk cheese.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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5 Key Performance-Enhancing Superfoods

November 21, 2014

athlete

I just watched the Showtime documentary Stop at Nothing the other night, this powerful film profiles Lance Armstrong’s obsession with winning, fame, and power.

Watching that film got me thinking about the one thing that all serious competitive athletes have in common is – they have a very powerful desire to win.  In order to win, an athlete knows they need to set goals, train hard, and that means that they need to be able to push through pain and overcome adversity.  Often they have to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives to truly commit to their chosen sport.

The better an athlete gets at their sport and the tougher the competition gets – the harder it gets to stay on top.  I understand the immense pressure Lance Armstrong and other serious athletes are under to win.

Unfortunately, Lance chose to take the illegal and unethical path of using banned substances to gain an unfair edge. It eventually cost him everything – his Tour de France titles, all his lucrative contracts, and the respect of the world.  His actions and choices led to disgrace. I hope one lesson that young athletes can learn from Lance’s mistakes, is that it is not worth compromising your character to win, and that trying to rely on the “quick fix” might come back to bite you in more ways than one.  Because even some of the legal substances that athletes think will help them gain an edge can potentially lead to deficiencies in other areas of performance or recovery, and potentially even serious health trouble (ranging from dehydration to cramping and even organ dysfunction).  Just because a product might make your muscles look bigger, does not mean that they are necessarily stronger, or will make you be able perform better.

The good news, is there are a number of natural and healthy ways for athletes to gain a competitive edge today. One area that all too often gets overlooked is the power of using foods to improve performance and recovery. And the cool thing about nutritional approaches?  Beyond the performance & recovery benefits, they can also offer other health benefits ranging from disease prevention to brain function and balancing mood.  The first step is simple –

Just get the junk out!

Realize that the majority of people (yes, even athletes too) are eating way too many processed foods and getting too much sugar (read about what happened to a man who ate 40 teaspoons of sugar a day in just 60 days – which is a little more than the average teenage boy gets).  The more processed foods in your diet – the more energy the body has to expend on detoxification, the more bogged down the body will become, and the less energy you will have for your training. Processed diets are nutritionally deficient – and athletes need nutrients to perform and recover. Another thing that happens to the body when the diet has too much sugar or processed ingredients – inflammation.  An athlete’s enemy, inflammation leads to swelling, pain, and can degrade performance, range of motion, flexibility, and recovery. Inflammation raises our risk of overuse injuries, asthma, and almost every major disease.  Simply cleaning up the diet and staying properly hydrated, and getting more plant-based foods, high quality grass fed or organic proteins, and cutting out the junk – will give an athlete an edge over the competition.

Got a clean diet and ready to take it a step further?  Check out these superfoods to see if they can help to take you and your performance to the next level.

5 Performance-Enhancing Superfoods:

1. Mushrooms

Although not typically the first thing that comes to mind when talking about athletic performance, mushroom’s are one of nature’s most powerful superfoods – and could be an athlete’s secret weapon.  Mushrooms are a type of fungi, or bacteria that can offer a wide range of health benefits ranging from immune-boosting to performance-enhancing effects. They have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years.  Although you will get health benefits from adding a few button mushrooms into your omelette, for performance enhancement, athletes will want to look to medicinal-grade mushrooms like cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. An ideal way to incorporate them into an athlete’s diet is with certified organic mushroom powders, which can be added to things like smoothies, soups and drinks.  Interested in seeing how mushrooms can boost your performance?

A local company called Mushroom Matrix, offers organic mushroom powders, and have extended a 10% off coupon for me to share with you, enter: rebalancelife at checkout to get your 10% discount. Some Mushroom Matrix organic powders to try:

  • Cordyceps, is one of the best mushrooms for athletes, because it boosts oxygen delivery and ATP synthesis – which is critical for energy production. Cordyceps support energy, stamina, recovery, and endurance. Discovered by Tibetian herdsman, cordyceps mushrooms are unique in that they grow on insects.  Other potential benefits of cordyceps include: reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy mood, a healthy weight, healthy cholesterol levels, as well as anti-tumor effects, and blood sugar management.
  • Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they adapt to help support the body recover from physical and mental stress.  Often called “the mushroom of immortality,” reishi mushrooms support the immune system and the cardiovascular system.  They support aerobic capacity and recovery.
  • “Fit” formula, which combines both Reishi and Cordyceps powders into one to create a powerful formula to support respiration, endurance, and recovery.

Make sure to choose organic when purchasing mushrooms or mushroom powders/supplements.

2. Beetroot juice or powders 

Google beetjuice and performance, and you will find a plethora of articles touting the benefits – “beets are like legal blood-doping” and “like taking performance enhancing drugs.”  At the Olympic training center in London – athletes were eschewing the brightly colored sports drinks and downing bright pink cocktails of beet juice, pineapple, ginger and orange juice instead. The benefits of beet juice come from their high content of nitrates, which are converted in the body into nitric oxide – which causes blood vessel dilation, and improves energy production and usage – which makes the body more efficient, and supports the heart to do it’s work.  You can juice whole organic beets, or buy a beetroot powder. I recommend if you do incorporate beets/use a powder, to make sure it is non-GMO or organic. Add some spinach, chard and celery to your drink too – as they also are high in nitrates.  One example of a organic beet powder to try is Superbeets organic beet powder, just 1 teaspoon is equivalent to eating 3 organic beets.

One thing to point out with beetjuice – it can change the color of your stool and urine.  So don’t freak out the day after trying beet juice when your toilet water looks pink.

3. Chia seeds

From the book Born to Run: “In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone.” An ancient Aztec superfood, chia seeds may rival mushrooms as one of the oldest performance-enhancing foods. Chia seeds gave the ancient Aztec warriors the long-lasting energy and endurance they needed to go into battle.  Chia seeds boost endurance, energy, hydration, focus/attention, and reduce inflammation.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, and are also high in fiber, protein, and have a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium – all important for athletes.  Omega 3s are shown to lower inflammation – critical for recovery and injury prevention.  Unlike flax, chia is rich in antioxidants, which means it will not go rancid after grinding, and helps to prevent free radical damage.  Chia seed are uniquely hydrophillic, so when they come in contact with water, they form a gel-like substance.  This chia gel slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to level out bloodsugar and maintain energy/endurance.  Chia gel also holds on to water, which helps to maintain hydration – very important for an athlete.  Always make sure to consume chia seeds with plenty of water or liquids to prevent dehydration, I like to soak the chia seeds for about 5 minutes before consuming to ensure they are hydrated.  Add chia seeds to your smoothie, or make chia pudding.

4. Virgin Coconut Oil

Medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) which are found in coconut oil have been known in the body building industry for a few decades as a superior form of fat.  Medium chain fatty acids are more readily converted to energy by the body, so it is also less likely to be stored as fat. Coconut oil is more easily digested, so it is less likely to cause stomach upset than other fats. Taking coconut oil in the morning helps to train the body to use fat as fuel, instead of glucose.  If an athlete can get their body out of sugar-burning mode – that can be a key advantage over the competition.   I recommend adding a teaspoon or two of coconut oil to your morning smoothie, chia pudding, or oatmeal.  A 1978 study also found that coconut oil increases the body’s production of hGH within 30-90 minutes of ingesting it.  Coconut oil has some other key advantages – first, it is a m

5. Goji berries

Another ancient superfood with a rich history, the goji berry is a small red berry that has a slightly tart flavor.  Also known as wolfberries, they can be eaten raw or made into a tea. Goji berries are known to naturally increase the body’s production of human growth hormone – which is known to improve performance and also has anti-aging effects.

Using nutrition is a healthy and ethical way for athletes to improve their performance, endurance, and recovery.

Note: although some foods can impact performance immediately, others will take longer to build up into the system – so allow up to 4 weeks of consistently taking them to reach the full benefit. Also, some people might notice a difference/benefit from adding superfoods, while others may not.

The other benefit of adding superfoods to your diet – is that they can offer many benefits beyond just performance and recovery enhancement – ranging from immune-boosting to disease-prevention.

A final word of advice to gain an edge? Don’t undervalue recovery.  Like all things in nature, the body has a yin and yang, and in order to perform at your best – you need to be allowing your body the time to recover in order to perform at your best (read: The Yin and Yang of Sports Recovery and  Are you Headed for Performance Burnout?).

Some links to studies/articles:

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Creamy Broccoli Soup (deliciously dairy free)

November 15, 2014

soup

My son loves soup.  You name it, he loves it.  Chicken noodle, clam chowder, beef stew, lobster bisque, miso, lemon artichoke chicken, and even cream of broccoli soup.  Sometimes we stop at Whole Foods for a snack, and more often than not he has – you guessed it – soup!  The other day we were stopping in for a cup of soup when I saw it – broccoli cashew soup!  Wow – what a cool idea, a dairy free cream soup made with cashews. We had a little taster, and both loved it.  The lightbulbs started going off – oh the things I could make with cashew cream – cream of broccoli, clam chowder, alfredo…. I couldn’t wait to put my chef hat on, and give it a go myself. In fact, we had had broccoli with dinner the night before, and as I always do – I made extra, so I had some steamed broccoli already in the fridge.  I grabbed some cashews, chicken stock (I love this new chicken bone broth from Pacific foods), and we were off.  This is the delicious result!

Creamy Broccoli Soup:

  • 1/2 onion – chopped
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil (or you can use ghee or avocado oil)
  • 2/3 cup cashews – soaked, drained
  • 3 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable stock for vegan version)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli
  • 2 tsp. 21 spice blend (Trader Joes)
  • 1 tsp. salt (taste & adjust as needed)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • Optional – Aleppo peppers or cayenne

Directions:

  1. Soak your cashews in water for 2-6 hours. Drain.
  2. Blend cashews in the vitamix with about 1/2 cup of water (if needed, add more to blend, it should look like cream).
  3. Steam your broccoli, until fork tender, but still bright green
  4. Chop 1/2 an onion
  5. Put your coconut oil into a large saucepan heated over medium.
  6. Add the onion to the pan and saute until translucent.
  7. Add in the chicken stock, spinach, 1 cup of the broccoli, salt, pepper and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins.
  8. Meanwhile – chop the other cup of broccoli to small pieces (if you do not want your soup chunky, skip this step and put all the broccoli into the pan). Reserve on the side.
  9. Using an immersion blender, puree the broccoli soup. Alternatively, you could put into a blender, or food processor).  Stir in about 1/2 cup of the cashew cream (reserve some for topping the soup).
  10. Add in the chopped broccoli, simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  11. Pour into bowls and top with more cashew cream, and optionally Aleppo peppers or cayenne.
  12. Enjoy!

Store any extra soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Gluten-Free “Chick Fil-A” Style Chicken Nuggets

July 28, 2013

Screen-Shot-2013-07-28-at-3.06.48-PM

Want me to let you in on a little secret?

Word on the street is that Chick-Fil-A nuggets are injected with pickle juice!  I know – crazy, huh?!

I can not confirm nor deny that Chick-Fil-A injects or marinates their nuggets in pickle juice – but I decided to see if it worked!!  So I made up my own version of pickle-juice marinated chicken nuggets at home…and of course, they had to be gluten-free and boosted with superfoods too!!

They were a hit!  So I thought I would share the recipe…

Chick-Fil-A Style Gluten Free Nuggets

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of dill pickle juice* – such as Bubbies brand or homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of gluten free flour blend (I used Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • Optional – 1-2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joes) – or your choice of seasonings
  • Approx. 1/2 cup of coconut oil or 1/2 cup organic Grapeseed oil for sauteing (both good options for higher heat cooking).

*Avoid using any kind of pickle juice that contains artificial colors – I like Bubbies or other natural brind/fermented pickles.  If you don’t have time for this step, you can skip it – just season the chicken or egg wash with a sprinkle of Himalayan salt.

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken into approx. 2 inch bite sized pieces, then put them in a large Ziplock bag or dish with 1/2 cup of pickle juice and the paprika.  Marinate them for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Then drain out the pickle juice. (If you do not have time for this, skip it – just lightly season it with salt before moving on).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Whip up the egg in one bowl, add in about 1 Tablespoon of water to thin.
  4. In the other bowl combine the gluten free flour, ground chia seeds, almond flour, salt, pepper, seasonings, and parmesan cheese (if using).
  5. Dredge the chicken in the egg, then roll it into the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Set them on a plate until you are ready to saute them.
  6. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat – the oil should completely cover the bottom of the pan.
  7. Put the chicken into the pan, it should sizzle right away if it is hot enough (do not overlap, might need to do them in batches).
  8. Cook for about 3 minutes a side (or until lightly browned).
  9. Have a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet pan nearby, put the sauteed chicken pieces onto the pan, once all of them have been sauteed, put them into the 400 degree oven to cook for about 10 minutes (or until no longer pink inside).

Enjoy with some organic ketchup, BBQ sauce, or this:

Quick n’ Easy Honey Mustard Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Vegenaise mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey (or to taste)

Stir all together, taste & adjust. Serve with chicken nuggets.

Wanting a yummy superfood boosted mac n cheese to go along with this recipe?  This free Cooking with Superfoods eBook has a gluten-free mac n’ cheese recipe that is loaded with butternut squash and boosted with nutritional yeast!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Healing Chicken Noodle Soup – 2 Ways!

December 6, 2012

download-12

If you ever catch yourself about to say, “it has been a while since the kids have been to the doctor.”  Or ” We haven’t been sick in a while.”  Stop yourself, just resist the urge.  Because the minute you do, someone will get sick.  Murphy’s Law.

‘This week it happened to us – both my kids got that nasty upper respiratory thing.  One is still home sick – on day three now.  So in addition to the Olive leaf, Elderberry, Vitamin C, and zinc (read more tips for Cold and Flu prevention here)- it was time to pull out the serious medicine – and make s big pot of Homemade Healing (gluten free) Chicken Noodle soup!  My son is a big fan of soup – so there was nothing he would like better on any given day, especially when he is sick.

Sara’s Mexican Style Chicken Soup

If you have never made chicken soup at home before – do not worry, it is really easy – I promise! I will walk you through it, and even give you two different flavor options: traditional chicken noodle, and Mexican style.  Until we moved to San Diego, I had never even heard of Mexican style chicken soup.  But now it is one of my favorites!  So you can make one broth – and turn it into two soups!

First: Make your chicken broth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone in organic chicken breasts (or 3-4 bone in thighs).  You can also throw in some more bones – like the neck too – the more the better/tastier.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • Parsley – handful
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme sprigs (about 3-4)
  • 14 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sea salt, celtic salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of oil (avocado, olive, or coconut oil)
  • optional – Kombu strip (adds a rich “umami” taste, natural minerals, and iodine – to boost thyroid function, it also boosts digestion)
  • Noodles – we like Tinkinyada brand

Directions:

  • Chop the onion
  • Dice the carrots and celery (into approx. 1/4 in pieces)
  • Heat up about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy bottom pot on stove
  • On low heat – sweat the onions for a couple of minutes to soften.
  • Add in the following:
    • The rest of the diced veggies
    • 14 cups of fresh filtered water
    • thyme sprigs & parsley tied up into a cheesecloth
    • The chicken (and bones if using)
    • The kombu strip (if using)
    • Salt
  • Turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes (depending on how large your chicken pieces are), covering partially with lid.
  • After approx. 40 mins, take out the chicken – and cut into it to see if it is cooked through.  If it is not, return it to the pot to cook for another 5-10 mins.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add in the noodles (we use Tinkinyada gluten free brown rice spirals), cook according to directions.  Drain and rinse set aside.  There should be plenty extra to store in refrigerator for more soup – we keep them separate, adding in just before serving.
  • When done, pull out the chicken and allow to cool on a plate for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Taste the broth – add salt if needed (if too salty, just add a little water).
  • When cool enough to touch, shred or chop the chicken and return it to the pot.
  • Put desired amount of noodles in a bowl, and pour soup broth over it. Serve with gluten free crackers (we like Scheff brand).

If you want to make some Mexican style – while the broth is cooking, chop the following:

  • A roma tomato (or slice some grape tomatoes)
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Some cilantro
  • Optional – some jalapeno
  • Ancho chili powder (a couple shakes)
  • Slice open an avocado – remove the pit and score it with crosshatches.
  • Slice a wedge of a lime.

Directions:

  • Pour broth with chopped chicken into a separate saucepan, adding in some chili powder, and the above number 1-5 garnishes.
  • Allow to come to a simmer.
  • Pour the soup into a bowl, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and scoop out the avocado chunks.
  • Optional – you can add some leftover rice or rice noodles if you like too.
  • Serve & enjoy!  This is a delicious and refreshing soup!  Great for lunch or dinner.

Store leftover broth in airtight container in the refrigerator (store the rice noodles in a separate container).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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8 Kitchen Tools to Help Families be Healthier!

June 18, 2012

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Categories: Dinner, Gifts

As seen on Fox 5 San Diego, on June 18.

Today’s families are so busy, finding the time to be healthy is not always easy!  Add a picky eater into the mix, and it makes it even more complicated!  These 8 tools can make being healthy more convenient, fun and easy.   I think of tools like these as investments in my families’ health.  And although you might not be able to invest in all of them at once, create a wish list and start to budget for the tools you will use the most.

  • Vitamix – this is my #1 top favorite tool for busy families – especially those with picky eaters.  This tool can make smoothies, soups, and so much else!  The cool thing about the Vitamix, is the powerful motor – it get rids of all texture.  You can sneak all kinds of healthy foods into smoothies using the Vitamix.  I burned out 2 blender motors before I bought my Vitamix – now I can’t believe I ever went without! I use mine several times a day, and my kids have a smoothie most mornings.  Use code 06-006248 to get free shipping on your Vitamix order!
  • Hurom Juicer – this is my newest addition to the arsenal of healthy tools!  The Hurom is a slow masticating juicer which works like a mortar and pestle, so it extracts more juice, preserves more of the enzymes and antioxidants.  Juicing is so fun for the kids to get into. they can get creative and try different combinations, find some recipes here.  Put the pulp into the compost, or some people like to add it to recipes to boost the fiber. Fresh juice is so much better for you than the pasturized kind in a box, or frozen concentrate – and you can sneak in veggies into your juice.  So yummy!
  • Excaliber Dehydrator – This is one tool that has been on my list for a long time.  It is an essential for a raw foodie – because in order for a food to be raw, it can’t be heated to above 118 degrees. When food is heated above that temperature, it can degrade the natural enzymes of foods.  This is great for drying and preserving fruits, veggies, herbs, and you can even make your own beef jerky!  You can make bread in it, you can even revive stale crackers!!  I have been experimenting with it all weekend, and I made dried strawberries, bananas, I even made crunchy cinnamony chick peas – yum!  You just sprinkle cinnamon, sugar and sea salt on chick peas, and dehydrate on 135 for about 9 hours.  It is great for making on the go snacks.   You can get creative, or find some recipes here.
  • Micromarinator – this is a really cool kitchen gadget.  It allows you to marinate meat like it was marinated for 3 hours, in about 3 minutes.   Marinating meat not only adds flavor and keeps meat moister – but it also helps to make it healthier!!  The antioxidants in marinades can lower the free radical damage you can get from grilling.
  • Zoku popsicle maker – we love our Zoku – because it makes popsicles in less than 8 minutes!  And we control what goes into them!  All you do is pour some juice, leftover smoothie, or whatever you like into the Zoku, and then in 8 mins you have a popsicle!  My kids love popsicles in the Summer, but many contain high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors.  With the Zoku – you can make them with healthy ingredients!  Get creative and make up your own, or you can find recipes in their blog online, or in their cool recipebook.
  • Whirly Pop – it is fun to have a family movie night, and lots of people in San Diego have them outside!  There is nothing better than popcorn for your movie.  But I always tell people to skip the microwave popcorn – those bags contain carcinogens.  Use the Whirlypop on the stovetop – I like to make it with coconut oil, it is much better for you, and fun for the kids!  My kids love popcorn for an afterschool snack.    Available at Sur La Table, and also find popcorn recipes online.
  • Crock pot – this is a great tool for busy families that have activities that end close to dinner. Rather than driving through the drive-through, you can set up the crock pot in the morning, and it cooks all day long.  And it is ready for you when you get home!  And it makes the whole house smell yummy too.  We love to make healthy & hearty chili in ours, and pulled pork too. And you usually get at least 2 meals out of it!  Many people already have one collecting dust in the pantry – get it out and whip up a batch of chili!
  • The Baby Bullet – if you have a new baby in the house, this is the perfect tool to make homemade baby food.  Making your own baby food can save money, and you also can control exactly what goes into it, and how chunky you want to make it.  And the funny thing is – I have an 8 and 10 year old, and still use mine all the time – it is a great food processor, I love the 2 sizes.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Cooking with popchips!

February 17, 2012

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I am a big proponent of getting kids into the kitchen whenever possible. Because if they make it, they will be more likely to eat it!  One of my favorite recipes for kids to help with is homemade fish sticks.  My daughter and I first made these together when she was 6 years old – and she did most of the work!  I just cut the fish and got an assembly line all set up, and she got to work making all the fish sticks – which freed me up to make the dipping sauce (which she could have probably done too).  She tends to be a bit of a picky eater – but these are one of her favorites, I think partly because she thinks about them as “her fish sticks,” and they are!

Our family recently went gluten-free, and so I decided to try to re-create this family favorite with popchips in place of the breadcrumbs – and they were even better than the original recipe!  The fish sticks turned out so great, that I decided to try to make a few different recipes with popchips!  I like popchips because they are popped not fried, gluten free, all natural, and they come in lots of yummy flavors – great for these 3 delicious, fast & easy recipes!

popchips Fish Sticks

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. of your choice of milk – we like rice milk
  • coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed popchips  (one 3 oz. bag of Parmesan & Garlic, Original, I bet Sea Salt & Vinegar would be yummy, or try your favorite!)
  • 2 Tablespoons ground chia seed* or ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (use sweet paprika if your kids don’t like any heat/spice)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Tilapia filets (or other mild firm white fish), cut into strips

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup Vegenaise® grapeseed mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • optional: 1 teaspoon horseradish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees, make sure racks are in top 1/3 of oven, and bottom 1/3 of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or foil that has been lightly coated with oil.
  2. Stir to combine all dipping sauce ingredients into a bowl, and put in refrigerator while preparing & baking the fish sticks to allow the flavors to combine and the dip to chill.
  3. In a food processor, pulse popchips until they are a fine crumb.  If you do not have a food processor, you can crush the popchips right in its own bag!  Just break the seal with a tiny opening on top, and let the air out,  and finely crush them with a mallet or a rolling pin.  This is a fun way to get your aggressions out!
  4. Cut tilapia into strips (lengthwise down center, then crosswise).
  5. You will need 2 shallow bowls.
  6. Lightly beat the eggs with the rice milk, salt, and pepper in one bowl.
  7. Combine the popchips, paprika, chia/flax, in the other bowl – stir to combine well.  Optional – if not using Parmesan & Garlic popchips, you could add 2 Tablespoons of grated parmesan.
  8. Dip tilapia strips into the egg, then put  into the popchips mixture to coat. Then place on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Put baking sheet on rack in top 1/3 of oven – bake the fish for 7 minutes. Then move baking sheet to lower 1/3 rack and bake another 5-6 minutes, or until lightly browned (no need to flip the fish using this system).
  10. Serve fish sticks with dipping sauce and lemon wedges on the side.

Note: These fish sticks are good brain & mood food because they contain chia seed, which is a SUPERFOOD.  Chia seeds are high in minerals, protein, fiber and ALA omega 3s – which help boost:

  • Focus and brain functioning
  • Mood
  • Heart health
  • Blood sugar management
  • Endurance/recovery/energy
  • Digestion
  • Hydration

*If you can not find ground chia seeds, you may replace it with flax meal, or just omit it from the recipe.

popchips Coconut Shrimp

Serves 4

  • 1 lb. of medium peeled and de-veined shrimp (uncooked, 41/50 count)
  • One 3 oz. bag of Sweet Potato popchips (new flavor!)
  • 1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 eggs – lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsweetened coconut milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place racks in top 1/3 of oven, and bottom 1/3 of oven. Lightly grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
  2. Make the dipping sauce (see below).
  3. In a food processor, pulse popchips until they are a fine crumb.  If you do not have a food processor, you can crush the popchips right in it’s own bag!  Just break the seal with a tiny opening on top, and let the air out,  and finely crush them with a mallet or a rolling pin.
  4. Put into a shallow bowl: the popchips crumbs, coconut, sea salt, pepper, and ginger (if using), mix to combine thoroughly.
  5. Put the egg and milk into another shallow bowl.
  6. Dip each shrimp into the egg wash, then the popchips crumb mixture, and place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Put into top rack of oven for 5 minutes, then move to bottom rack for 4 more minutes (if using larger shrimp – cook longer).

Serve plain or with a Sweet Thai Chili dipping sauce; also great over a bed of baby greens with thinly sliced red onion, mango chunks, and a fresh lime dressing.

Sweet Thai Chili Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Sambal Oelek (use more or less depending on desired spiciness)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Natures Agave clear nectar
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (or one clove fresh garlic very finely chopped)
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions: Put all ingredients into a small saucepan, heat on medium high until just boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer stirring occasionally for a couple of minutes.  Pour into a bowl and allow to cool slightly while preparing/cooking shrimp.

My daughter is not a big fan of coconut, so I decided to try one more flavor…

popchips Parmesan Garlic Popcorn Shrimp

Serves 4

  • 1 lb. of medium peeled & de-veined shrimp (uncooked, 41/50 count)
  • One 3 oz. bag of Parmesan Garlic popchips (or substitute your favorite flavor)
  • 2 eggs – lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons of rice milk or your choice of milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place racks in top 1/3 of oven, and bottom 1/3 of oven. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive or coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, pulse popchips until they are a fine crumb.  If you do not have a food processor, you can crush the popchips right in it’s own bag!  Just break the seal with a tiny opening on top, and let the air out,  and finely crush them with a mallet or a rolling pin.
  3. Put into a shallow bowl: the popchips crumbs, sea salt, paprika and fresh pepper.
  4. Put the egg and milk into another shallow bowl.
  5. Dip each shrimp into the egg wash, then the popchips crumbs, and place on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Put into top rack of oven for 5 minutes, then move to bottom rack for 4 more minutes (if using larger shrimp – cook longer).

Serve plain or with the dipping sauce recipe for the fish sticks (above).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Eggplant Parmesan & Roasted Tomato Stacks

October 11, 2011

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Eggplant Parmesan & Roasted Tomato Stacks – Great for Meatless Monday!

This is a lighter take on Eggplant Parmesan – requires no breading or frying. Because there is no breading, this is gluten free, and since you don’t fry it, it has fewer calories and less fat.

It is fun to make, so get the kids involved!

Ingredients:

  • 2 globe eggplants
  • 7-8 roma tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese
  • 1 container ricotta cheese (15 or 17 oz.)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 cups marinara sauce (make your own, or use a high quality store-bought kind), plus more for serving if you wish.

Directions:

  1. Rinse and very gently dry (be careful to not bruise it) the basil.  Chiffonade the basil – you will want about 1/4 cup or more.
  2. Slice roma tomatoes about 1/8 inch thick, and spread out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle sea salt, pepper and some chopped fresh basil.  Put into a preheated 250 degree oven and let roast for about 1 hour.   (This step can be done in advance, or can be omitted if there is not enough time).
  3. Slice the eggplant crosswise about 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle sea salt on each one.  You will begin to see water collecting on top of the eggplant. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.  Wipe off the water with a paper towel.  Brush lightly with some olive oil and add some fresh cracked pepper.
  4. Put the eggplant slices into a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes, flip the eggplant slices over after about 12-15 minutes. Or you can grill it outside, about 5-7 minutes a side.
  5. Crack the eggs into a bowl and gently whip together with a fork.  Add the ricotta and about 1-2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 1 Tablespoon fresh), stir to combine, put back into refrigerator until ready to assemble the stacks.
  6. When the eggplant is out of the oven, allow it to cool a few minutes.
  7. Put enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of a baking dish that has been lightly coated with olive oil.
  8. Lay out the eggplant slices to cover the bottom.  Spoon some ricotta on each eggplant circle, top each with a roasted tomato, some fresh basil, and then some shredded mozzarella. Repeat until all eggplant is layered.  Spoon some marinara sauce around the eggplant stacks, sprinkle with some Parmesan, cover with foil and put into a 375 degree oven.   Cook for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for about 10 minutes more.

Garnish with a spring of basil and additional Parmesan and marinara if desired.

This recipe is a delicious vegetarian meal.  Are you one of the millions of Americans going meatless one day a week?   “Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require major sacrifice. Even if you eat a typical American diet replete with processed, junk and fast food the other six days of the week, going meatless on Mondays will still cut your carbon footprint, improve your health and reduce demand for factory-farm meat.” -Mark Bittman for More Magazine.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Butternut Squash & Pear Puree & Soup

October 4, 2011

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Fall is here, and alongside the colorful leaves are a variety of colorful squash. Butternut squash is rich in fiber, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A & E.  A wonderful food for baby, butternut squash also makes a delicious soup.  Pears are also in season and make a wonderful first food for baby because they are less likely to cause an allergy, and are easy on the digestive system.

If you are planning to make a butternut squash & pear puree for baby, you are already halfway to making Butternut Squash & Pear soup – so the whole family can benefit from Fall’s bountiful harvest!  Making homemade baby foods and soups are a snap with the Baby Bullet, it makes beautiful fruit & vegetable purees.

Making the same food for baby and the rest of the family saves time and money, and it also means that the whole family can benefit from the nutrients and enjoy a meal together.  Eating together as a family has many benefits, read: The Importance of the Family Meal.

Butternut Squash, Ginger & Pear Soup

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash (approx. 2.5 lbs.)
  • 2 firm Barlett pears, peeled and cored
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh ginger – peeled & grated or finely chopped (about 1/4 teaspoon), you can use dried too if you prefer.
  • Low Sodium Organic Chicken Stock or broth (use vegetable stock for vegetarian version) – 3-4 cups
  • Fresh sage – 1 teaspoon finely chopped
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • So Delicious coconut creamer or half & half to taste
  • Salt & Pepper

Rinse & pat dry the outside of your squash, slice it lengthwise and place it cut side down on a lined baking sheet. Put it into a preheated 400 degree oven. Peel, slice and core the pears, cut the onion into large chunks and toss in a little olive oil, set aside in a bowl.

After the butternut squash has been in the oven for about 20 minutes, pull it out and put the pear slices, the onion and the garlic on the baking sheet.  Return the baking sheet to the oven.  After about 25 minutes, check to see if the squash, pears and onions are fork-tender.  Once they are fork-tender, pull the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes.  Return anything that is not fork-tender to the oven to cook longer.

  1. Baby’s Butternut Squash & Pear Puree:  Flip over the squash, discard the seeds, and scoop about 1 cup of the flesh into the large Baby Bullet bowl.  Add about 1/2 cup of the roasted pear, and about 3/4 cup of liquid (such as breast milk or formula). Turn on the Baby Bullet & puree the squash and pear.  Add more liquid as needed to puree the squash & pear.  If it is too runny, add a little more squash.  Once your puree is at the consistency that your baby likes it, put the puree into the date-dial containers, and set the date.  Double the recipe if you would like more puree for baby.  Rinse out the Baby Bullet and get ready to prepare the soup.
  2. Butternut Squash, Ginger & Pear Soup.  Note: You might need to do this in 2 batches.  Put the rest of the butternut squash, the pears, the onion, and garlic into the large Baby Bullet bowl, add approximately 1 – 1.5 cups of the stock.  Puree, adding stock as needed for a smooth puree.  Once the puree is the desired consistency, pour into a saucepan.  Add another cup of stock stirring well to combine, add more stock if you prefer the soup to be thinner.  Add the finely chopped sage, ginger, as well as the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer on the stove top for at least 15 minutes, up to an hour on a very low simmer.  Stir occasionally. Pour into soup bowls.  Optional: swirl in 1-2 tablespoons of half and half or unsweetened So Delicious coconut creamer (for non-dairy option).

The whole family can sit down to dinner to enjoy butternut squash and pears together!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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