Monday, March 2, 2015

Raspberry Zucchini Bread

The weekends – which often, quite frankly just seem to whiz by – can  either result in one of two outcomes: a “case of the Mondays,” where you're just not ready to tackle the work and personal to-do-list; or, better yet they can leave you feeling refreshed, happy, nourished and thinking, “Bring it on, Monday.”

This past weekend has resulted in the latter.

Whole Grain Raspberry Zucchini Loaf

I drove up to San Clemente for one of my best friend’s baby showers on Saturday and spent the whole weekend in the lovely town by the water. We celebrated Mom-to-be and Baby with tons of her friends, got spoiled rotten by her dad’s (who is visiting from Montana) home cooking, and walked our favorite beach trail on Sunday morning.

Whole Grain Raspberry Zucchini Loaf

The change of scenery, ocean air, and company of good friends are the kinds of things weekends were made for.

Since Katie is 38 weeks pregnant, I’m getting myself ready to hop in my car and drive back up once the baby is born. I’ll be bringing two loves of this Raspberry Zucchini Bread, which feels like a perfect bread for March. It's comforting enough for colder, rainy days, yet bright and light enough for warmer weather, too. 

Whole Grain Raspberry Zucchini Loaf

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a wonderful week ahead!

Raspberry Zucchini Bread

This is great recipe for transitioning from winter to summer. It combines comforting elements that we love in winter, like whole grains, pecans, and warming spices, yet is balanced by lighter spring flavors from the shredded zucchini and frozen raspberries.

Whole Grain Raspberry Zucchini Loaf

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ cup raspberry yogurt
½ cup agave nectar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup pecan pieces

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.     Grease two 8x4" loaf pans.
3.     In large bowl mix together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice.
4.     In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, yogurt, agave nectar, brown sugar, applesauce and vanilla.
5.     Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir in zucchini, frozen raspberries, and pecans.
6.     Divide batter between loaf pans.

7.     Bake about 60 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean. Cool and remove from pans.

Disclaimer: While we are consulting dietitians for the National Processed Raspberry Council.

If you like this recipe, you may also want to take a peek at these recipes for:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mediterranean Cilantro & Mint Lamb Burger with Tahini Sauce

The recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released last week, with some surprises.  The advisory committee advocated for a primarily plant-based diet, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, but acknowledged eating meat in a thoughtful and sustainable way was in line with a healthy eating plan.  They also championed healthy fats (yay!), coffee (thank goodness!) and cautioned against added sugars (hooray!).    

I won’t go into a detailed analysis of the results here, but the report supports what we talk about here: eat real food, mostly plants, but a burger every now and then is absolutely okay.

When I’m craving a burger, more often than not, it’s a lamb burger.  For much of my life, I grew up on a farm, and while we raised both cattle and sheep, I’ve always preferred the lamb burger.  It’s so full of flavor, a small healthy portion is satisfying.   A 3-ounce serving of lamb has only about 175 calories and is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and selenium and a good source of iron and riboflavin.

This lamb burger is in homage to my husband’s Middle Eastern roots, and it reminds me of all the lamb kebabs we eat when we’re visiting his family in Israel.  The kebabs are always slathered in tahini and usually paired with an Israeli salad of tomatoes and chopped cucumber.  The combination of the rich-tasting lamb and the earthy tahini combined with the freshness of the tomatoes and cucumbers is nothing short of perfect.

I hope you enjoy this lamb burger with the people you love!  Pair it with a big green salad and maybe some fruit for dessert and know you’ll be doing your body good.   

Mediterranean Cilantro & Mint Lamb Burger with Tahini Sauce

Makes 4 burgers

½ cup tahini
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)
¼ - 1/3 cup water
1 pound ground lamb
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
¼ teaspoon cardamom seed, toasted and ground
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

First, make the tahini sauce.  Add the tahini paste to a bowl.  Place the garlic clove on your cutting board and pour the salt on top.  Using the side of a chef’s knife, smash the garlic and grind it with the salt until it turns into a paste.  Add the garlic with the salt to the tahini, along with the lemon juice and about ¼ cup of water.  Stir together with a fork until the tahini sauce is blended and becomes the consistency of honey.  Add more water, if needed.  Taste for lemon and salt and adjust, as desired.  Tahini sauce will keep in the refrigerator for one week.

Next, make the burgers.  Add the ground lamb to a large bowl with the chopped cilantro and mint, coriander, cumin, cardamom, red pepper flakes and sea salt.  Using your hands, gently incorporate the herbs and spices into the lamb.  Divide the lamb mixture into 4 equal servings and shape them into patties, making them a little larger than the side of your bun.  Use your thumb and press down in the middle of the patty, making an indentation.  This will keep the burgers level while they cook.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Brush the bottom of the pan with the olive oil and then add the lamb burgers to the hot skillet.  Cook about 3 minutes per side for medium or 4 minutes per side for medium well. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Finally, assemble the burgers.  Place a layer of cucumbers on the bottom of the toasted bun.  Top with the lamb burger and a heaping tablespoon of tahini sauce.  Place chopped tomatoes on top of the tahini sauce and then place the top bun over the tomatoes.


Disclaimer:  McKenzie and I are consulting dietitians for the Tri-Lamb Board.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Creating a Healthy At Home Work Environment

The way people are working is changing. According to Telework Research Network, a whopping 63 percent of Americans will be working from home within the next five years.

As someone who spends a lot of my time working from the comforts of my home, I’ve learned a few tools over the course of the past three and a half years that have helped make my work life a productive, healthy one.

Here are my top 8 strategies.

8 ways to create a healthy at home work environment

1.     Enjoy the mornings. I’ve been a morning person all my life (I’ve talked about it before here), and while sitting in front of my computer immediately after waking up seemed to be worthwhile at the beginning phase of Nourish, the habit grew old pretty fast. I’ve sinced embraced the “morning walk” habit and ever since doing so, I’m more focused, calm, and content when I do sit in front of my computer. Even if you’re not a morning person, getting into the habit of enjoying the mornings – even if its just for 20 minutes prior to starting work, can set a really positive tone for the rest of the day.

2.     Get dressed. When I first started working from home, nothing made me happier than yoga pants, an oversized sweater, and a messy ponytail. As much as my love of yoga pants is pretty unwavering, I’ve found that getting dressed just a little bit nicer (for some, it could mean just getting out of your pajama pants), will do wonders to your morale.

3.     Stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients. If you stock your kitchen with donuts and soda, you’ll probably eat or drink them. And if you stock your kitchen with pre-cut veggies, fruit, and tea you’ll be more likely to eat or drink those, too. Working from home does lower the barrier on some parameters set around food (hello, never ending lunchbreak!), so do yourself a big favor and set yourself up for healthy eating success. This leads me to the next one.

4.     Take a lunch break. Grabbing leftovers and sitting in front of your computer at home is no different than doing the same thing at your typical office. Give your mind a break and your food the attention it deserves by scheduling a lunch break for yourself each and everyday. Taking scheduled breaks for nourishment will also help you prevent a case of the mindless-munchies.

5.     Hydrate. I’m pretty weirdly passionate about making sure people are properly hydrated. So, don’t let two, three, or four hours go by without taking a sip of some water. Sip on unsweetened iced tea, carbonated water, or hot tea for a delightful break from plain ol’ H20.

6.     Find a separate space. Whether it’s a small desk in the corner of your living room, your dinning room table, or your own office (if you have the space), treat your bedroom like a bedroom. Since your sleep is so important, anything that can disturb it –such as associating work with your bed – isn’t a great habit to get into. And since I’m also weirdly passionate about sleep, trust me on this one too.

7.     Set parameters on work time. My hardest lesson to learn (and I’m still working on it) is the importance in taking hours and even days (gasp!) off of work. Yes, it can be tricky when you love what you do, but it is so important to give your mind and body a break. Schedule an eight hour work day, schedule days off, and do your very best to commit to it.

8.     Unplug. At the end of your workday, close your computer, turn off your phone, logout of Twitter, and do something that makes you happy. It could mean going to the gym, making a wholesome meal for dinner, spending time with your family, or taking a break to meditate. If you’re able to be kind to yourself at the end of the workday, you’ll be more motivated to give work your best effort again tomorrow.