food for game day! the healthy way.

Who doesn’t love a spread of delicious snacks to eat during game day… and in this case not just any game day – Super Bowl Sunday game day!?

I certainly do. I also love putting my own healthier spin on staple game day/party snacks and appetizers.

Although, sometimes I am hesitant to use the word “healthy” or “light” on game day in fear of giving the extremely hungry crowd of boyfriends, husbands, brothers and dads any pre-conceived notions. So I will refrain from using the term from here on out.  We know these guys are here to eat. A lot.  And not salads.  These below dishes will definitely be a hit with our toughest critics. We’ll inform them after that they are indeed…healthy.

As for us ladies of course we want tasty, but we usually are more cognizant of what we are throwing into these dips, casseroles and crockpots. Whether it’s sneaking in extra greens and veggies or replacing some of the hydronated, unhealthy fats, you won’t be able to tell with these delicious recipes! I have compiled a few of my favorite versions of tried and true appetizers we all know and love below. 


Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dipspinach

Ingredients
2 cups chopped kale, finely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 bag of frozen artichoke hearts thawed, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, very finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove minced
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
1 cup organic sour cream (or ½ cup sour cream and ½ greek yogurt)
3 tbsp organic mayo (healthy fats!)
3 tbs raw parmesan or manchego cheese, plus more for top
1 cup daya vegan cheddar cheese or mozzarella, or your choice of shredded cheese
coconut oil for greasing

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and place into a greased medium sized baking dish (8×8 or 9x 9)
Top with additional cheese if desired
Bake for approximately 30-45 mins covered
Remove from oven, and let sit for at least 5 mins before serving with whole wheat pita or tortilla chips,  or my favorite –  rice chips!

Sweet and Spicy Veggie Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
1 medium red onion, chopped???????????????????????????????????????????????????
2 shallots, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
Separate plate with sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, choice of cheese, avocado, and tortilla or pita chips, for serving

Directions
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours  or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
Open and add spinach. Stir until wilted and blended.
Taste and add more spice or seasoning as needed.
Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, avocado, daya cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Parfait with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Ingredients
1 lb shrimp (wild caught is best) cleaned and cooked
1 ½ cup mango salsa or 2 mangoes, small dice
4-5 avocados, medium dice
1 large red bell pepper, small dice (can leave out if it is in salsa)
2 cups shredded romaine
1 can (15 oz) organic black beans, cleaned and rinsed
1.5 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
chipotle powder, to taste
sea salt
fresh pepper
1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend cheese, optional

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Ingredients
¾ cup Greek Yogurt
¼ cup light sour cream or organic mayonnaise
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
½ cup chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
½ tsp chipotle powder
1 clove garlic, minced or ½ tsp garlic powder
1 scallion, chopped
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt, more to taste
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor or blended until well combined. Adjust flavors as needed.

Directions
Chop into large chunks. Toss shrimp with a little salt, chipotle chili pepper, and fresh lime juice.

Start by layering the romaine on bottom of a large parfait dish (or large glass bowl).
Divide all ingredients in half except the shrimp.
Layer each ingredient once and drizzle with dressing and fresh cilantro.
Repeat with remaining half and drizzle with dressing (save some for top)
Top with shrimp, remaining dressing, salt, pepper, cilantro and scallions (optional)

This recipe is loaded with protein, lots of vitamins and minerals from all the veggies, fiber, and healthy fats. It is also highly addictive! Enjoy.

This goes very well with Corona Light or an Agave Margarita 🙂  )  Tip for margaritas : kick up your favorite recipe by adding a little chipotle or spicy seasoning to the plate with salt. Mix the salt and spice and dip each rim glass before pouring.

Last but not least- what is a party with out a cocktail? This winter Rosemary Grapefruit Cocktail is light, refreshing and so beautiful.

                                                                         Rosemary- Grapefruit Refresher

GrapefruitandRosemaryCocktail1 cup organic cane sugar (or 1tsp stevia)
1 cup water
3-4 long sprigs of rosemary, plus extra for garnish
6 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (can use store bought but watch out they are much sweeter, so lower the sugar in the simple syrup or dilute with water)
5-6 oz vodka
2 oz Triple Sec

 

In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the rosemary and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool (I put in the refrigerator to hurry the process, or make ahead)

In a pitcher, mix the rosemary syrup with the grapefruit juice, vodka and Triple Sec.

Serve over ice with a rosemary garnish.

Enjoy!

Who are you rooting for?!

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Re-New Week Day 2: Cayenne and L-Glutamine

With processed foods, chemical & artificial additives, over use of antibiotics, and stress  no wonder our gut lining is increasingly weakened. Digestive discomfort and disorders are more prevalent today than ever before. The first and foremost preventative or corrective measure is a healthy diet –  lots of vegetables, super foods, fish and lean meat (best to avoid processed foods, sugars, excess dairy, limit OTC drugs and antibiotics).

However, aside from a clean diet it is also a good idea to introduce a daily probiotic.  A probiotic is mostly healthy bacterium that reduces harmful bacteria and helps prevent infections in the digestive tract as well as reducing inflammation. It is crucial to have a healthy digestive system, as 80% percent of your immune system is located in your gut. Symptoms of digestive disorders vary, from indigestion, bloat, constipation, candida, even depression and mood swings.

Seeing how important is to keep your digestion in top shape, there are other natural aids to help support gut health. The amino acid L- Glutamine is a wonderful supplement for a healthy stomach and digestive system.  It is one of my favorites to add to smoothies for all of its wide range of health benefits.

First, L-glutamine is known to dramatically strengthen the stomach lining. It provides cells in the digestive tract with a crucial source of energy which aids in development of new cells, as well as increases the absorption capability of existing cells.  L-Glutamine helps with water absorption in the gut, which in turn aids in hydrating the entire body. Always a plus!

Aside from assisting in healthy digestion and gut repair, L-Glutamine works as an inherent neurotransmitter, aiding in healthy brain function and memory recollection. It is greatly used by athletes, as it helps to rebuild muscle while simultaneously breaks down fat.  In addition L-glutamine is known to help regulate blood sugar levels, enhance immune performance and fight infection, speed metabolism and may even decrease sugar and alcohol cravings.

The best way to take L-Glutamine is in powder form, making it readily digested. Add recommended dosage in your morning smoothie or juice and enjoy all of the wonderful health benefits it has to offer!

In addition to the daily probiotic, I added L-Glutamine to our smoothie today. I also added a serving of Spirulina, one of my favorite superfoods.    It is a micro-alga that has a high concentrate of protein, specifically made of essential amino acids.  Spirulina is great to add during our digestive restoration week, as it helps produce healthy stomach flora and  that repromote digestion. It is also has a high content of calcium, vitamins, nutrients and trace minerals, as well as iron and beta-carotene. Spirulina stimulates and boosts the immune system and detoxifies the body of pollutants and heavy metals. It is high in Chlorophyll, which purifies the blood, removing toxins from your system. Last but not least, it contains anti-inflammatory properties, may lower cholesterol, and even fight off allergies due to its histamine blocking effects.

Today’s Cucumber Melon Cayenne Smoothie contains loads of alkalizing vegetables and fruits, as well as the therapeutic spice- cayenne.    Cayenne is well-known for its digestive aid properties, among many other health benefits. It stimulates the digestive tract, which increases the flow of enzyme production, aiding is metabolizing food. It also reduces acid (very alkaline forming!), relieves gas and bloat, and helps digestion with absorption and elimination. It also aids in the digestive process by stimulating saliva. Cayenne also supports cardiovascular healthy, weight loss, natural detox, relieves joint pain and migraines, and has many anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen and ant-fungal properties. Cayenne is a great ant-flu and anti-cold agent as well, as it breaks down mucus and flushes from the body.

pepper

 

The importance of pH balance

All of our bodies have a pH level that determines the amount of acidity and alkalinity present in our system (pH balance refers to the levels in our body fluids and tissues). The acidity of foods, beverages, herbs, and spices are measured on a 14 point scale, zero being the highest amount of acidity, fourteen being the lowest, or alkaline.

Originally, alkaline is the body’s natural and pure state. However, many factors in today’s society contribute to an over acidic environment. These factors range from the abundance of processed foods, the overuse of antibiotics, the natural process of aging, and even stress. It is important for us to assist our body in creating and maintaining a healthy pH ratio of 70:30, alkaline to acid.

Most diseases, illnesses, and bad bacteria thrive in an over acidic environment. When pH levels are unbalanced, it is mostly in the case of being too acidic. This causes the body to borrow crucial minerals from organs, bones, and tissue to try and neutralize the acid and remove it from the body. Over acidity weakens all systems and can be seen in acute symptoms such as yeast/fungi overgrowth (candida among others), chronic fatigue, slow elimination, hormonal concerns, premature aging, free radical damage (may lead to cancerous mutations), weight gain, bladder and kidney damage such as kidney stones, diabetes, joint pain, and lactic acid build up.

Luckily for most of us, it is not too late to take measures and start making lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of acidity and create and maintain healthy pH levels. Even if we have a healthy ratio right now, it is just as important to maintain it through proper diet and lifestyle. Remember, preventative medicine is the best cure for all diseases!

The first step begins with diet. Below is a list of the levels of alkaline/acid foods. When in doubt about basic acid/alkaline properties of food remember that most vegetables, fruits, and herbs are alkaline forming. The most acidic foods (should be avoided) are processed flours and sugars, most dairy, soda, sugars, coffee, alcohol and harmful external toxins such as tobacco and over the counter medicine and drugs.
Refer to the charts below and use them as basic dietary guidelines.

acid-alkaline-food-chart1

“Note that a food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so lemons are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, meat
will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming.” – http://www.naturalhealthschool.com

food_ph_chart600x643

Happy Re-New Week at Vincera Institute! Repair and restore with me…

Happy New Year friends!  I hope everyone is doing great and enjoyed the holidays. You may have heard Vincera Institute’s team has come together for Re-New Week through January 13-17.

If you are like a majority of us, the overindulgence of the holidays has left you dragging. You may be feeling bloated, tired, irritable, you may even be experiencing indigestion and digestive disruption.

The Happy Re-new Year cleanse will focus on restoring healthy gut flora and balancing pH levels to help rid these discomforts. Our digestive systems are often disrupted during the holidays from all of the over-indulging in rich food, alcohol, and even from being off of our normal routine. Thus we create an acidic environment, which more than likely has an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria. When there is not enough of the good bacteria unpleasant symptoms and health issues occur  such as constipation, bloat, excess belly fat, moodiness, hormonal imbalances, candida, allergies, and many more.

I will be creating  fresh smoothies/juices daily that will contain healthy probiotics and supplements such as L-Glutamine to repair and regulate your digestive system, restoring the good bacteria needed to heal. They will help with bloat, acidity, inflammation, constipation, and the rebuilding a healthy flora. We will work together on creating an environment that will promote healthy digestion and overall health.

I’ll be giving daily tips and suggestions on supplements and foods to incorporate to maintain a healthy gut and pH levels.

healthy-gut1

We will also focus on balancing  pH levels by introducing more alkalizing foods and supplements.  I will guide you in neutralizing the highly acidic environment caused from rich foods, sugars, alcohol consumption, stress, and/or simply from going off of your daily eating rituals during the hectic holiday season.

Many people underestimate the importance of a healthy digestive system and stomach flora. Not only is it crucial for nutrient absorption and proper waste elimination, but did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut?  It is only when we have healthy digestion that we can experience optimal health and vitality, physically and mentally.

Vincera has amazing offers and events going on, from yoga to acupuncture to massage therapy. Learn more details here.

Join me for a week of restorative smoothies and guidance for a healthy gut and digestive system. Get that belly back in shape, gain energy, and nix those mood swings and irritability.

Details: $45 a person. 1 restorative smoothie a day for 5 days. Sign up via email or in person at The Galley.  Please let me know in advance if you will be picking up smoothie in am/pm.