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Low Maintenance Kale Chips

Kale chips are everywhere these days, and for good reason.  They are healthy and taste great.  They’re so good that it’s easy to forget you are eating a vegetable while you are inhaling eating them.  About a year ago, I tried making kale chips for the first time and loved them.  While the recipe was easy, it was time-consuming.  I had to wash all of the kale leaves, dry each one, and cut out the ribs from each leaf.  I’ll admit, it was a pain, and I really had no desire to do it again… that is, until I was at the store the other day.  I saw a giant bag of pre-washed kale, and I had the brilliant idea to try the kale chips again.  (Oddly, this is what an impulse buy looks like for me.)  This time I was sure it was going to be less maintenance, and I can now say I will make these again and again.  These are awesome, and if you struggle eating all of your veggies, it’s a great way to get them in.

Low Maintenance Kale ChipsKale Chips1

Difficulty: Easy

Ideal Protein: Phase 1, 2, 3, 4

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups kale
  • olive oil spray
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Take kale from bag and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Spray lightly with olive oil and add sea salt to taste.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp but not charred.IMG_7480

Enjoy!

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Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

Did you know that most roasted squash soups have cream in them?  If you ask me, that’s a total waste of fat and calories.  I’m about to share with you a fabulous soup that doesn’t need the cream.  I would bet anyone who tries this won’t miss the dairy one bit.  Squash is creamy enough on its own that it just doesn’t need it.  My brother-in-law (who is a very talented chef) shared this recipe with me years ago, and it has become a family favorite.  I usually use Kabocha squash, but butternut squash works just as well.

Roasted Kabocha Squash SoupSquash soup

Difficulty: Medium (it’s actually very easy, but prepare for a longer cooking time than most of my recipes.  It will be worth it!)

Ideal Protein: Phase 4

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Kabocha or Butternut Squash
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground white pepper
  • 6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
  • crushed red pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut squash in half and remove seeds.  Place cut side up on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper.

    I used both Kabocha and Butternut in this soup I made last Thanksgiving.

    I used both Kabocha and Butternut in this soup I made last Thanksgiving.

  3. Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender.
  4. When squash is almost done cooking, chop onion.  In a large soup pot saute onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil  for 10 minutes or until onion becomes translucent.
  5. When squash is well cooked, remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Scrape squash into pot with cooked onions and add 4 cups of chicken/vegetable broth so squash is covered.
  7. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Use an immersion blender to blend smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer to a blender.
  9. If too thick, add more broth until it reaches desired consistency.  (It shouldn’t be too thick, but should coat the back of a spoon.)  Swirl in 1 tablespoon of sherry wine vinegar and add salt and white pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes if you want a little extra kick.

Enjoy!

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Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

If you want to duplicate that silky sauce found in Chinese restaurants, corn starch is the key.  But what if you can’t eat corn starch?  If you’re on Ideal Protein Phases 1, 2, and 3, you can’t.  But I have found a great alternative.  It’s called Konjac Glucomannan Powder and is sold by the awesome folks at Miracle Noodle.  It’s “water-soluble dietary fiber derived from the root of the konjac plant.”  The bag appears pricey at first glance, but this stuff actually goes a long way.  It thickens sauce just like corn starch, but be careful: if you use too much, it will turn to gel.  If you choose to skip the powder, you’ll still get a great tasting stir-fry.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

IMG_7258

Difficulty: Easy

Ideal Protein: Phase 1, 2, 3, 4

Servings: 2

Ingredients: 

  • 12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced
  • 4 cups of select veggies of your choice (I used broccoli, mushrooms, and snow peas)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia
  • 1/8 teaspoon Konjac powder (optional)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons dark sesame oil (or Grapeseed oil)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 pack Miracle Noodles

Directions:

  1. Toss the chicken with half the garlic and ginger, the soy sauce, Stevia, half of the Konjac Powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in a bowl. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the remaining Konjac Powder with the 1/3 cup of broth or water.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and heat.  Add the veggies and cook for 1 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of water, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper, to taste.
  5. Stir-fry until the vegetables are bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Re-heat the skillet, and add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken loses its raw color and gets a little brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Return the vegetables to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil to thicken. Add more water if need to thin the sauce, if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you like.  Serve with Miracle Noodles.

Adapted from this recipe.

Enjoy!

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Mashed Potatoes on Ideal Protein?

What?!?  Could it be? 

Well, no, but I have the perfect alternative for you.  The easy answer is the Ideal Protein Potato Puree (which I love, by the way.)  But there is yet another easy and truly amazing option:

Cauliflower!

Wait, don’t close the page.  This is really good and surprisingly not cauliflowery at all.  (Is that a word?)  It actually tastes a lot like mashed potatoes.  There are simple recipes like this one shared by an Ideal Protein participant and blogger that taste great, but most of the recipes out there have milk and butter in them.  Here’s another idea: use an Ideal Protein soup instead of milk and butter.  It makes the puree very creamy.  This time I used the Cream of Mushroom Soup, but any of them would work.  In fact, I bet the potato puree would even be great in it!

Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower

Difficulty: Easy

Ideal Protein: Phase 1, 2, 3, 4

Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chopped cauliflower
  • 1 Ideal Protein packet of mushroom, chicken, leek, broccoli cheese, or potato soup (only a slight hint of the soup flavoring comes through in the cauliflower)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chicken broth (optional)

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add cauliflower and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Drain water and transfer cauliflower to a blender.  Add 1 Ideal Protein Soup packet and puree mixture until smooth.
  3. If mixture is too thick, thin by adding some water or chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and any other preferred spices.

If you want to add a little oomph to this dish, do what Guy Fieri does in this recipe and roast some cauliflower to put on top of the puree.  Chop up additional cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  It’s a delicious addition!

In case you missed it, check out some of my IP Thanksgiving survival tips.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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How to Survive an Ideal Protein Thanksgiving

This time of year is the hardest to maintain healthy eating.  Temptations are everywhere, and stress can be high.  One thing I try to make very clear when helping clients achieve their goals is that cheating will sabotage that whole process… bottom line.  I bet you could interview every Ideal Protein Weight Loss Coach in North America and they will tell you that it DOES matter.  We see it with our own eyes every day: people who precisely follow the plan succeed, and people who resist it and alter the plan struggle much more.  Here are a few tips to help you continue on your path to health and happiness.

1) Don’t plan on cheating… even if it’s just a little bit.  If you plan to cheat, you will cheat.  If you have a good plan about how to enjoy the day without cheating, chances are you will.  Which leads me to the next tip…

2) Be prepared.  A few weeks ago Ideal Protein asked their fans to describe their best tool for success on the Ideal Protein Facebook page.  Over and over, people answered to “be prepared.”  Bring Ideal Protein foods with you.  If it’s a potluck, bring a dish you can eat.  If you are going to ask the host if the food will be “healthy,” you must be specific about that.  While the host always has good intentions, he/she doesn’t know the guidelines for Ideal Protein.  There are many healthy foods that will prevent your weight loss.  If you are not sure, bring a salad or veggies for yourself to go along with the turkey.  And along those lines, don’t agree to make cookies for everyone because that is what you always do every year.  It’s a new year, and there’s no time like the present to create new traditions.

3) Change the focus.  Holidays don’t have to be entirely about food and wine.  Most would agree that it’s really about being with family and friends.  Make that your priority.  A lot of families play games as part of their tradition.  Why not get outside while you’re at it?  Our friends have a 20-year tradition of inviting friends and family to play a game of football in what they call the “Toilet Bowl.”  For them, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without that.

4) Don’t drink alcohol.  I know, being with family can be stressful.  Or maybe we just love the ritual of having cocktails with our meal.  It’s not worth it for many reasons.  Instead, make an Ideal Protein drink– blend it with ice or add some sparkling water to make a spritzer, and put it in a cocktail glass so it feels special.  I have a client who loves to make “Faux-jitos” on special occasions with club soda, lime, fresh mint leaves, and a little Stevia.  This saves her on many occasions.

5) Get creative.  Creativity makes the whole process more fun.  How can you substitute your holiday favorites with Ideal Protein-friendly alternatives?  Everyone seems to love the classic green bean casserole, and it is so easy to make.  You won’t see that alternative here because I personally don’t like it, but it is a no-brainer.  Cook some fresh green beans, and instead of using Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, use Ideal Protein Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Cut the milk, and substitute some Ideal Protein Southwest Cheese Curls for the fried onions.  Done.

6) While we are being creative, how about that gravy thing?  A quick and easy option is to use the Ideal Protein Cream of Chicken Soup.  If you want it to be a little different from the chicken soup you eat every day, why not use that as your base?  For years I’ve made this turkey recipe (which would be best modified for Ideal Protein Phases 1-3.)  This gravy is the bomb!  You roast the turkey on top of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves.  To make the gravy, you blend the veggies with the drippings, and the veggies thicken the gravy without having to add flour.  Since you wouldn’t want to use the fat in the turkey drippings, why not take some of the celery and garlic (or any other “select” veggies you’ve decided to put under the turkey,)  and blend it in with some chicken broth and/or some Ideal Protein chicken soup?

Up next I’ll tackle how to handle those mashed potatoes that we all love so much.

Remember, you are in control of the outcome.  Set yourself up for success and enjoy all the great things the holiday has to offer.  This isn’t just a diet, it is a life change.

What are your holiday survival tips?

 

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Indian-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

If food can teach us one thing, it’s that looks aren’t everything.  A while back I was lured into buying a beautiful purple cauliflower.  The final product tasted delicious, but visually it was a disaster.   Incidentally my roasted cauliflower recipes often involve some turmeric, and the bright yellow tint of turmeric does not go well when combined with a dark purple.

The result: black food. 

That’s not very appetizing.  Looks aren’t everything, and this charming purple cauliflower turned out to be nothing special.  Now I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but the ordinary white cauliflower tastes equally delicious.  Though I did learn that the color of cauliflower really doesn’t matter, recently a yellow cauliflower caught my eye.  Luckily, it blended right in with the turmeric, and its good looks lived up to its flavor.

This recipe was very good, but if given the choice again, I’d still choose to make this other one.  It’s much easier, tastes just as great, and isn’t ugly with white cauliflower.

Indian-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

Difficulty: Easy

Ideal Protein: Phase 1, 2, 3, 4

Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 4 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • One (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 Serrano chiles, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower florets with half of oil. Spread on baking sheet. Roast until caramelized and mostly tender, 30-40 minutes.
  2. Heat remaining oil in small skillet until shimmering. Add ginger and Serrano chiles and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Allow spices to toast in oil, being careful not to burn, for at least one minute. Add cauliflower and toss well in spices.
  3. Cook until thickened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt.
  4. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Adapted from this recipe.

Enjoy!

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Fresh Broccoli and Green Bean Saute

The 4 cups of veggies that are required per day on Ideal Protein are surprisingly a lot of veggies– in a good way.  It’s probably safe to say that most people don’t usually get that many vegetables in a day.  If we know they are so good in so many ways, why not learn to love them?  We seem to have long attention spans for things like cheese and potatoes, but for many, salads and steamed broccoli can get pretty boring pretty fast.  Try this healthy and delicious variation to add a little oomph to your day, and hopefully you can stave off the veggie boredom a little longer, if not forever.

Fresh Broccoli and Green Bean Saute

Difficulty: Easy

Ideal Protein: Phase 1, 2, 3, 4

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups broccoli florets and green beans (or any veggies of your choice)
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more if desired
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Place broccoli into pot and cook for 2 minutes. You just want to parboil the broccoli at this point since you will saute it later on. Using a spider strainer, remove broccoli from pot and shock it in a bowl of ice water. When broccoli is completely cool, place it in a colander and allow to drain. Refresh the bowl of ice water. Bring the water back to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes. Like the broccoli, you just want to parboil the green beans. Remove green beans from pot with spider strainer and add to ice water. When green beans are completely cool, add them to the colander and allow to drain.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil.  Add the red pepper flakes, broccoli, green beans, and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from this recipe.

Enjoy!

 If you’d like to receive more healthy recipes directly to your inbox, feel free to subscribe to my blog.  And if you try any recipes and find ways to make them better, please share your tips here.  The more the merrier!