Recipes

Healthy Recipes

Baked Parsnip Fries

Dear Leah Renee, 

When I have cravings, I want something salty without all the junk in it like store bought potato chips or french fries from a fast food restaurant.  Do you have any recipes to keep me from going to the drive thru?  Thanks!  ~Liz, GA

Who doesn’t love french fries?  I don’t know if it’s the taste, the texture, the saltiness, or the carb-o-liscious comfort, but all I know is they’re hard to resist!  I’m a fan of balance, so fries every now and again didn’t hurt anyone.  I am also a fan of creating some of my most desired indulgences into something healthier that gives me the same pleasure minus all the harmful ingredients.  Simply switching the cooking method to baked instead of fried helps rid all the extra fats and unhealthy chemicals that come from deep frying.

Here is what you need to make yourself and loved ones some tasty parsnip fries:

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into evenly sized french fry sticks
  • 2 tablespoons high-heat oil (coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning of your choice (I combined onion & garlic powder, an Italian herb blend, and some paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

herb mix for parnip fries

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a medium or large size bowl and mix it around! You may have to heat the coconut oil first so it liquefies.
  3. Line two baking sheets with tinfoil and/or grease the baking sheet with some coconut oil or cooking spray.
  4. Trim ends of parsnips, peel, and cut into evenly sized french fry pieces (I cut them in half length-wise first).

parsnip1

Warning: After letting these guys cool a bit do everything in your power to not eat all of them (well, only if you have to share). 🙂

Bon Appetite!

parsnip fries

 

Warming, Immune-Boosting Carrot Ginger Miso Soup

I’m not typically a big soup-loving kinda girl.  It’s good, but for some reason I prefer chewing my food (it’s important to ‘chew’ your soups and smoothies–but you know what I mean!).  Every once in a while, there do come those occasional instances when nothing sounds better than a warm bowl of soup.  Thanks to a good quality blender I can usually whip it up in a snap!  Soups are often on the ‘scary list’ when dining out if you have any kind of food intolerance or allergy (or are veg/vegan since there are often animal sources used in soups like chicken broth) which is why making them at home is even better.  You know everything that’s going in there and hand-picked the ingredients yourself.

Tonight the feeling struck and I remembered I had huge bag of carrots in the fridge.  Since I always have miso and ginger stocked, I decided to combine all three for one tasty, immune boosting, antioxidant-filled soup!

CARROT GINGER SOUP

I’m excited to fill you in on my recipe…but I’m really bad at measurements!!!  I tend to throw things in the blender and just add as I go for the right taste.  I will give approximates and add to your desire with ingredients like garlic, salt, ginger, water to consistency and miso to taste.

Ingredients (approx): 

  • 2 lbs carrots (I used organic baby carrots since it’s what I had!)
  • 1 TB red miso (organic and/or fermented is a must)
  • 2 TB white miso (same as above!)
  • 3-4 cups water OR some veggie broth, no sodium (the miso will compensate!)
  • 3 TB Ginger Juice or fresh grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 TB sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 TB onion powder (optional)
  • Extra optional add-ins: shiitake mushrooms, tofu, brown rice, green onions, sesame oil, dashi, and if you like some spice a dash of cayenne pepper.

Directions: 

  1. Steam the carrots until they have just a slight crispness left to them, about 15 minutes.
  2. Starting with the water, place all ingredients into a high performance blender (I used a Vitamix).  Start on a low speed and gradually work up.  If you have a Vitamix, no need to go higher than setting 8 on the regular setting.  You may need to stop the machine to stir the ingredients or add a little water if it gets stuck!
  3. Add or garnish with extra optional add-ins, warm if necessary, and ENJOY!!!

CARROT GINGER SOUP IN MASON JAR

*Store up to 5 days in a glass container in the refrigerator*

Anti-Inflammatory Ginger Juice

Dear Leah Renee, 

I have been on the verge of getting sick and need something to kick it!  Help! ~Allison, NY

There are so many powerful herbs and spices to help fight a cold.  One of the very best ways to help you kick that bug (and prevent it next time) is with fresh ginger root.  People have been using this common household item for thousands of years for a good reason. It contains medicinal properties which aids the immune system and warms you up inside.  Because of that, it’s a fantastic cold remedy and has a wide range of other uses for any day of the year.

ginger root to use

Here are some ways ginger aids the body:

  • Gastrointestinal relief.  Ginger is effective at relieving gas and soothe the digestive tract.  motion sickness, morning sickness, and more!
  • Anti-inflammatory. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols (that makes sense!) which can help those who suffer from arthritis.  We hear a lot these days about inflammation and the wreak it has on our body, so incorporating ginger in your diet will help combat it!
  • Joint pain reliever. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties ginger can help relieve joint pain in the body.
  • It tastes really good.  Yummy = Happy = Healthy 🙂
  • Immune booster. Ginger is naturally warming and can promote perspiration when ingested in larger amounts.  If you are fighting a fever, this can help you sweat it out!  You may need to use a little bit more than usual to heighten the effect.
  • Stimulates circulation.  Many people suffer from poor circulation.  Due to the warming effect of ginger it aids in amping up circulation and gets the blood flowing.
  • Metabolic function.   Who doesn’t like this one?!  Get it going (without even hopping on the treadmill!).  Like the last bullet point says, it gets the blood flowing and revs up your internal fire.  Woo!
  • Powerful anti-nausea. Ginger can help relieve symptoms of nausea for those suffering from motion sickness, post operative queasiness, and women suffering from morning sickness, and stomach flu cramps.

I find the best and tastiest way to add ginger to drinks (like ones to boost immunity) and meals is to make ginger juice.  Preparing ginger juice is easy and it keeps it in a mason jar in the fridge for weeks and weeks.  This makes it simple and easy to grab for when you need it.  I like it even more because at the health food store it’s pricey, so making it at home is that much more satisfying!  Please note: this drink is super concentrated so depending on the recipe/strength desired, you will only need 1 to 3 tablespoons at a time.Tools for ginger juice to use

Here’s what you need: 

  • Ginger Root
  • Filtered Water
  • Knife
  • Blender
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Mason Jar (or another glass jar with air free lid)

ginger making process

Directions: 

  • Rinse off the ginger root under cold water.
  • Using your veggie peeler, peel the skin off the ginger (and discard).
  • Chop the ginger into pieces.
  • Add ginger pieces to blender.
  • Pour in filtered water until half of the ginger is covered. Blend.  If using a Vitamix, keep it on setting 5 (after starting at 1) and blend for about 40 seconds.  If you use a higher setting it spits the ginger all over the blender and it wastes a lot of it.
  • Using a mesh strainer and a bowl or large cup underneath, gently pour some of the mixture into the strainer and press down so all the ginger juice is extracted from the ginger fibers.  You could also use a cheese cloth for this process.
  • Get messy!  Using your (clean) fingers, press down on the rind to squeeze more juice into the bowl.  You’d be surprised how much more you get when you do this!!!  It’s like a sponge.
  • Poor into a mason jar or a re-used glass jar.

pouring ginger juice to use

 

ginger juice pic to use

There are endless ways to use ginger juice, but here are a few of my faves:

  • Health & Immunity Tonic: add 3 TBS ginger juice, the juice of one lemon, a couple dashes of turmeric, a pinch of cayenne pepper, & 1 TB manuka honey in warm water (not boiling as it destroys the beneficial nutrients).
  • Ginger Tea: 3 TBS ginger juice, warm water (or over ice), sweetener of choice (I use raw honey).
  • Carrot, Ginger, Miso Soup: recipe found here.
  • Chai Tea: Chai tea (loose leaf or bag), warm water, 2 TBS ginger juice, sweetener or choice, 1/4 cup almond milk (any milk will do, I like the unsweetened vanilla).
  • Digestive Tonic: Apple Cider Vinegar, ginger juice, squeeze of lemon, water, sweetener of choice.
  • Curb a Sweet Tooth: Try one of my favorite inflammation fighting, anti-oxidant packed drinks here.  You’ll love it and feel better for it!
  • Add to stir-fry’s and other recipes that may call for ginger.

What’s your favorite way to use ginger?

Black Bean Brownies

Dear Leah Renee, 

My husband and kids love when I bake, but I don’t like all the bad ingredients it takes to make them taste good!!!  When I look at ‘healthier’ versions it seems like there’s tons of dates in there somewhere or skimp on taste.  Do you have anything for us, that’s gluten free too?  Thanks Leah! ~Danica B., Pittsburgh, PA

 

fudge_brownies

 

 

It is hard to not compromise flavor and texture when switching up ingredients to make for a healthier sweet treat!  If you don’t have an earthy palate like many of us raw foodies or vegans, finding something the kids and husband will like (and you too!) can be difficult.  I find that substitutions using avocado’s, applesauce, coconut oil, dates, honey, maple syrup, agar agar, flax seeds, and mashed banana’s are just some items that can really contribute to a family friendly dessert in both the health and taste categories.

One substitute I didn’t mention: black beans.  Insert the black bean brownie.  You can insert a YUM in there too–because these are really good!  Adapted from My San Francisco Kitchen, the recipe below is simple to make and the only difficult part is allowing them to cool long enough so they don’t fall apart!  If you can keep your hands off until then, you’re good.  Then again, if these are for just you and the fam, who cares if they’re crumbly, right?!  Dig in!

Here’s what you need:

Image

Ingredients
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15½ oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil *I used coconut oil*
  • ½ cup granulated sugar *I used brown sugar*
  • ¼ cup and 1 tbsp cocoa powder *I used unsweetened*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips for topping (optional) *I chopped up some 70% organic dark chocolate and used that as the topping*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender (or the hand blender like I used) and blend on low until all ingredients are well blended (there should not be any whole black beans in the batter–it should be smooth)
  3. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish and pour batter inside (I spray coconut oil to grease).
  4. Top with chocolate chips or nuts if desired.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean after inserting in the center.
  6. Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving (otherwise they will fall apart).
Makes 9 brownies (I cut them smaller so there were about 14).  A batch of 12 will have (a piece) about 120 calories, 15g total carbs (includes fiber), 8g sugar, 4g protein, and 5g fat.  Not too shabby!!!
Image
Enjoy!  See who notices a difference!

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free Granola

Dear Leah Renee,

I love granola but not all the sugar that comes along with it.  Do you have a quick, easy recipe I could trust and make it at home?  Thanks!  –Alice, Tacoma WA

I could not agree more!  Store bought granola, and so many recipes out there, have so much sugar in them.  I feel like we should call it something other than granola since granola’s a word associated with something that’s healthy and nutritious.  It certainly can be, but it’s knowing what to look for on the label or what to do in the kitchen.  

If you are going to pick up some at the grocery store, I personally love KIND Healthy Grains.  They come in different varieties (my favorite is the peanut butter) and what I like about them  is the low sugar content, the simple ingredients, and the blend of gluten free grains used like amaranth and quinoa–not just oats.  I recommended a few other store bought brands on another post I did on granola a while back: “Granola–Healthy or Not?“.  

If you want a good recipe that is easy, refined sugar free, and quick, this one’s for you.  It’s adapted from Elizabeth Rider, a Board Certified Health Counselor (AADP) and wellness coach who I admire.  

Image

EASY HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE

Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves 4-6 (about 1/2 cup is a serving)

Use raw, organic ingredients whenever possible. These measurements are flexible; don’t worry too much about being exact.  Play around with it–you don’t even have to add seeds if you choose not to.  I added slivered almonds to mine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats (aka old fashion oats)
  • ½ cup raw nuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup raw seeds (I used sunflower & pepitas)
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit, chopped (optional–I used plump golden raisins)
  • 2-3 tablespoons grade-b maple syrup or raw honey (I used honey)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (aka coconut butter) 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 325º. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your clean hands to mix well and toss to coat; it will be sticky and messy but that’s the fun part. The coconut oil might be liquid or solid depending on the temperature of the room you are in (it has a melting point of about 75ºF.) Your hands will warm it up and melt it into the mixture if it’s solid, just be sure to mix it all through the other ingredients so there aren’t any chunks of oil left. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. (To make this recipe completely raw-friendly, dehydrate the mixture 5-6 hours at 115ºF in a food dehydrator instead.) Cool before serving or storing. This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. 

Image

 

Enjoy on top of yogurt, mixed with fresh fruit, or by itself! 🙂

Gluten Free, Paleo Stuffing Recipe

Dear Leah Renee, 

I am having a bunch of people over this year for Thanksgiving, some of which have dietary restrictions.  Some are gluten intolerant while others just are very committed to their usual health regimens.  Do you have any suggestions for a side dish that’s creative, good, and fairly healthy?!  Thanks! –Jess, Yucaipa, CA

Catering to a diverse crowd can be difficult, but making sure there’s at least one dish each of them will like is a good way to keep the guests happy!  The recipe below is gluten free and caters to the paleo diet, one that many seem to be on these days!  If many of your guests are also vegetarian, just omit the meat and add some chopped green beans, add TVP (textured vegetable protein),  or even some cubed tofu, and nuts if you want to stay paleo.  Enjoy!

Paleo Stuffing Recipe

By: Leah Renee

Ingredients

6 cups gluten free Paleo Bread – Almond, chopped into 2×2 inch cubes (about 10 slices)

2 sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes

1lb ground pork sausage or country style

5 pieces of bacon, diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

1 medium size sweet onion, diced

1 container sliced crimini mushrooms

1 cup pit-less dates, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup chicken broth

2.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tsp Sage and Thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover two separate baking sheets with parchment paper, and places bread cubes on one and sweet potatoes on the other. Bake for about 30

minutes until bread is lightly crispy and sweet potatoes are tender. Remove and set aside.

2. While bread and sweet potatoes are baking, using a large skillet under medium-high heat, place in diced bacon and let the fat seep.

3. Once bacon has cooked down, add celery and onions. Let the onions becomes translucent, then add the pork, mushrooms, and white wine vinegar. Cook until the pork has just become brown/cooked through). Add in sage and thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove contents from skillet and place in a large bowl. Add in the beaten eggs, sweet potatoes, bread, pecans, and dates. Mix well.

5. Switch oven to 375 degrees F and transfer contents from large bowl into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the stuffing is lightly browned.

No butter or oil in this recipe!!!

Delicious & Nutritious Juicing Recipes

 Dear Leah Renee, 

I loved your post comparing the difference between juicing and blending, but would you mind including some juicing recipes too?  I am pretty good with smoothies, but I’m unsure what veggies and fruits I can juice together!  Thanks.  ~Brittany, CA

There are so many different combinations to try to detoxify, energize, and help cure what ails you!  I have listed some specific recipes, and some fruit and veggie combo’s to play around with the amounts suits you.  I have been juicing for years, and each time I still feel like it’s a new experience.  It’s fun trying a random vegetable you haven’t tried before (daikon anyone?!) to create different flavors.  Have fun with it, and enjoy the great, energized feeling that comes with juicing!

juicing plate

Regain with Greens

1 green apple

1 cucumber

5 leaves dino kale

3 stalks celery (all leaves included!)

3-4 dandelion greens

1 lime, peeled

½ cup parsley

½ cup cilantro

1 lime, peeled

 

Skinnie Minnie

1 grapefruit, skinned

½ bunch parsley

3 stalks celery

½ large cucumbers

½ green apple

3 dandelion leaves

 

Joint Relief

1 medium cucumber

¼ pineapple

1 medium apple

4 stems celery

3 dandelion leaves

1 cup parsley

 

Blemish Be Gone

1 medium carrot

1 medium cucumber

1 stick celery (leave attached)

½ green apple

½ lemon, peeled

1 inch slice of ginger root

3-4 kale leaves

 

Energizer Bunny

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1 beet

1 ½  cups fresh raw spinach (leaves)

 

Recovery (hangovers!)

1 lemon, peeled

1 orange, peeled

1 carrot

1 cucumber

3 dandelion leaves

1 apple (skin on)

½ beet

1 inch slice of ginger root

ollie and juice

 

And here’s some great combinations–you decide the amounts!

Kale-Apple-Celery

Carrot-Orange-Ginger

Carrot-Apple-Spinach

Spinach-Celery-Parsley-Cucumber-Apple (Getting Green!)

Carrot-Spinach-Celery-Kale-Lemon

Beet-Kale-Grapes-Celery-Apple

Romaine-Kale-Celery-Parsley-Cucumber-Lime (Hardcore Greenie)

Red Bell Pepper-Beet-Apple-Spinach

Pineapple-Apple-Celery

Radish (leaves on!)-Spinach-Cabbage-Carrot

Tomato-Parsley-Carrot-Cilantro

Nutritional Benefits:

Beets – Anti-inflammatory, high in beta-carotene, antioxidants, and findings show it is a great blood purifier, and can help ‘beat’ high blood pressure.  Liver cleansing.

Carrots – 88% of carrots are water which help to flush out toxins.  The high beta-carotene content helpful in repairing skin tissue.  Do not peel (just wash)!

Cucumbers – Cucumber juice is thought to clean your kidneys, lower high blood pressure and improve skin problems.

Parsley – High in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plant, parsley helps to oxygenate the blood, clean the kidneys, liver, and urinary tract, and increase brain function and energy.  Excellent diuretic.

Celery – Reduces acidity and inflammation–especially helpful for people with arthritis and gout.  It is a natural diuretic which helps to eliminate excess salt; additionally good for weight reductions helping to take away your sweet tooth.

Spinach– High in folic acid and beta-carotene.  Contains calcium and iron.  Helps support the liver and kidneys, and reduces fatigue.

Tomatoes – Helpful in reducing infections, kidney, and bladder issues.  Contains lycopene found to have anti-cancer properties.  Assists in lowering cholesterol.

Radishes – Benficial for skin disorders such as jaundice.  Helps alleviate mucous to aid in reducing congestion.  Good for the hair and nails.  May help in lowering cholesterol.  A natural diuretic.

Kale – High in Vitamin K which helps with necessary blood clotting and is great for bone health.  Kale is high in Vitamin C, great for the skin, connective tissues, muscles, and the immune system.

Dandelion – Liver cleanser, high in potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Contains beta-carotene and folic acid.  Helpful with eczema and excellent for arthritis.

🙂 Happy Juicing 🙂