Tag: Kid Friendly

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Hello friends!

We all want to be healthy, right?! What is one thing that we all need to do to improve our health? We need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Most Americans don’t even get close to the recommended daily amount – especially kids. If I can serve something that will make my kids eats more salad and veggies, then I’m all for it. Everyone loves ranch dressing. Unfortunately, store bought ranch dressing is pretty scary (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!). Making your own is so much better for your health and it seriously tastes delicious!

Hidden Valley Ranch ingredients: Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Canola Oil), Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as preservatives, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.

Here are the issues that I have with some of those ingredients.

Soybean and Canola oil are highly processed oils that are inflammatory to our bodies. Inflammation is the root of most major diseases. These oils are also most likely genetically modified (GMO) which I try very hard to avoid. Here is a great article about the dangers of GMOs.

Added Sugar – we are getting so much added sugar from places that we don’t even expect it like yogurt, granola bars, marinara, ketchup and yes, salad dressing. Sugar is addictive, causes inflammation, is toxic to the body and feeds cancer.  Salad dressing does not need sugar.

Natural Flavors are flavors extracted from nature but then manipulated in a lab to create the “perfect” flavor that makes us want more. Many different ingredients can hide under natural flavors too.

MSG is an excitotoxin which means that it excites brain cells, sometimes to the point of damage or death. It is added as a flavor enhancer and actually makes you crave more.

Artificial Flavors are flavors that are not derived from nature, they are made in a lab. They are nowhere close to “real” food.

Other Additives – Plus, there are a number of other additives in there that act as flavor enhancers and preservatives. I encourage you to eat food that has no ingredient list or one with ingredients that you recognize and would use in your own kitchen.

My version of Ranch Dressing is super simple to make and uses ingredients that you probably have on hand. It is very versatile too. You can add a splash of buttermilk instead of the lemon juice, you can use plain whole milk yogurt instead of sour cream. And feel free to try different spices. Fresh herbs are a great addition too if you happen to have some.

It’s not exactly the same taste as store bought ranch because all of the chemicals give Hidden Valley (and most store bought versions) a “special” taste that is hard to replicate. My version is garlicky, herby and creamy – what’s not to love?!?!

RANCH DRESSING serves 4-6

1/2 cup organic whole milk sour cream
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
dash of cayenne (optional)

Mix everything together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop. I like to shake it in a glass jar. It’s more fun than stirring or whisking. I imagine that I am shaking a martini!

 

 

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Don’t give your loved ones crappy chocolate full of chemicals and toxins. Take a few minutes (they are so quick) to make these delicious brownies full of clean, healthy ingredients. Yes, they have a little sugar but they are brownies after all.

1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup certified gluten free oat flour (or all almond flour or all oat flour)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/4 cup melted coconut oil + more for greasing pan
2 eggs, preferably pastured and/or organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like to use 365 brand dark chocolate chunks or a 3 oz. dark chocolate bar, chopped)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 x 8 pan with coconut oil. In a medium bowl combine flour(s), cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well with a whisk.

To the same bowl, add applesauce, coconut oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool pan on a rack before cutting. Makes 16 brownies.

Notes:  I like them best with dark chocolate cocoa powder but my kids prefer the regular. If you haven’t tried coconut palm sugar yet, it is a great 1:1 substitution for regular sugar – it is still sugar though so use in moderation.

 

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Sugar is everywhere. It’s not only in obvious places like our pastries and desserts, but it is also in our coffee, cereal, soup, even in salad dressings! And I’m talking about significant amounts of hidden sugar. Guess why food companies add so much sugar to foods? So they will taste really good and make you want more of course! It looks like it is working. And our health has never been so bad.

Most of us get much more sugar in our diets than we realize. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, the average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar per year, much of which is hidden in processed foods.

“I eat really well but I can’t give up sugar.” I hear this all of the time from clients. We all know that sugar is not a health food and that it can lead to diabetes and weight gain, but most of us don’t know all of the other ways that it can affect us. And keep in mind, processed flour (even whole wheat flour) has the same effect on the body as sugar so try and get your whole grains from less processed grains like quinoa or brown rice. Here are a few things that you might not know about sugar.

  • Sugar is toxic to the liver.
  • It causes inflammation in the body which is linked to all major diseases.
  • Sugar feeds cancer cells.
  • Sugar contributes to belly fat which is the most dangerous place to have excess weight.
  • Many experts now believe that it is the sugar, not the fat, that contributes to heart disease.
  • Sugar is highly addictive, maybe more so than cocaine! Therefore, it is very easy for people to over consume and not have control of their eating.
  • There are no nutrients whatsoever in sugar and it can strip your body of nutrients.
  • Sugar can damage your metabolism and weaken your immune system.

So you can see why it is important to kick sugar to the curb and swap it out for healthier alternatives. The cravings will go away.  And please don’t think it is wise to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. They affect your health in many negative ways as well.

I’m not about deprivation. Not in the least. I like a sweet treat as much as the next person. There are so many delicious, healthy ways that you can eat a little something sweet without the sugar bomb! I make sure that what I’m eating regularly isn’t going to negatively impact my health. I choose things like a small piece of dark chocolate, a few dates with almond butter, a chocolate smoothie or a dessert that is sweetened with a small amount of a healthier natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.

Once you start switching to healthy sweeteners and naturally sweet foods like fruit, you’ll notice that you have fewer and fewer cravings for sugar. You’ll also find that you’re tasting the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables. Your taste buds really do change. Suddenly, the sweet foods that you used to enjoy start tasting too sweet.

Getting off of sugar will help you to ditch the afternoon energy crash, stabilize your blood sugar and create a more alkaline environment that your body will thrive in.

Try this chocolate smoothie when you crave something sweet. Or, make it for your kids after school and they will be so pumped!!

Chocolate Smoothie (makes 1 serving)

1 small frozen banana
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/4 cup raw cashews (optional but gives the smoothie more thickness and protein)
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice
1 pitted date
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds or hemp seeds (optional)

Blend well and add a little more almond milk or water if needed for desired consistency.

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Do you struggle with healthy snack (and dessert) ideas? Do you crave something sweet in the afternoon or after dinner? The perfect snack is healthy but also tasty and satisfying. I have the solution …. the Energy Ball!

These cute little balls are a fabulous way to enjoy something yummy while nourishing your body at the same time. Each of these recipes contain some healthy fat, fiber, a little sweetness from a natural source, and some good quality protein. This combination will give you an energy boost and keep you satisfied longer. They also each contain some kind of “superfood” seed. If you haven’t tried flax seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds yet, I encourage you to give them a try. They are full of omega 3’s, protein, fiber and antioxidants. They are so easy to find these days, even in most regular grocery stores. Any of the seeds are interchangeable in these recipes so feel free to try just one super seed for now.

Here are two of my favorites.

HEMP ENERGY PROTEIN BALLS (Makes 10-12 balls)     

1/4 cup hemp protein powder
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sunbutter or almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons raw cacao (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
1- 2 tablespoons local honey (amount depends on type of protein powder used – start with less and taste)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)

COMBINE THE INGREDIENTS. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until ingredients are combined and mixed well. Taste to check sweetness level. Add a little more sweetener if needed.
MAKE THE PROTEIN BALLS. Once ingredients are mixed well, roll into 10-12 small balls. Roll each ball in the shredded coconut if desired. Place on a wax paper lined dish and place in freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerator for 45 minutes to firm up. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for 3-4 days or freezer for several months.

NOTES: You can use any kind of protein powder for these balls, but I highly recommend giving hemp protein powder a try. Nutiva is a great brand and the only ingredient is pure hemp protein. For other options, make sure you choose a high quality protein powder with no soy, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and preferably a certified organic or Non GMO verified one. If you choose a sweetened one, make sure it is sweetened with pure stevia leaf.  Please do your research. There are many brands with unhealthy ingredients. And I suggest not using protein powder too often. It is still a processed food and getting your protein from real food is a better option most of the time. Plus most of us are getting way more protein than we need.

CHOCOLATE PECAN ENERGY BALLS (makes about 15 balls)

1 cup raw pecans
12 pitted dates (soak in water for about 10 minutes and then drain if dates are really firm)
1 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

COMBINE THE INGREDIENTS. Add everything to a food processor and pulse until well combined. Mixture will be crumbly but will stick together when rolled. Form into balls. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for 3-4 days or freezer for several months.

Here are some of the health benefits of these easy little treats.

  • Antioxidants from raw cacao or cocoa powder
  • Omega-3s from hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds
  • Anti-parasitic and anti-viral properties in shredded coconut
  • A metabolism boost from coconut oil
  • Anti-microbial properties plus a boost of antioxidants from cinnamon
  • Protein and fiber from hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds
  • Extra boost of protein from high quality protein powder
  • Reduced seasonal allergies from local honey
  • Antioxidants from vanilla extract
  • Energy and endurance from chia seeds – excellent for athletes
  • Minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium and zinc  – from pecans
  • Vitamin E which offers cell protection – from pecans and sunflower seeds
  • Selenium which has been shown to help DNA repair in damaged cells – from pecans and sunflower seeds

WOW that is an impressive list. Every ingredients has an important health benefit. That is a far cry from most store bought snacks. They are usually full of ingredients that are actually detrimental to your health. Try whipping up one of these tasty treats to satisfy your taste buds AND provide a whopping nutritional punch!

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What a great start to 2015! I just wrapped up my 14 Day Winter Cleanse and I had such an amazing, dedicated group! I was constantly impressed with them. I think we all learned so much from each other. It was really fun to keep up with everyone’s successes and struggles in our private Facebook group. There are many different reasons to consider doing a cleanse. It helps you break free from your dependence on caffeine, alcohol & sugar. It helps you determine which foods (even foods that you think are healthy) that you may be sensitive to. Most people have no idea that it is probably something they are eating that is causing their achy joints, headaches, skin rashes, insomnia, brain fog, afternoon crashes and cranky moods. It is a great way to jump start your goal of cleaning up your diet permanently. A cleanse also supports organ detoxification for organs that are often overworked like your liver. Many people notice better sleep, more energy, less bloating, clearer thinking, etc.  Losing weight is not the goal but usually a nice side effect. My cleanse is not a juice fast or diet. There are no pills or powders. You eat delicious, REAL food that is satisfying and nourishing.

Here are some things that my cleansers had to say…

“This cleanse has been life changing. I can’t thank you enough for all your knowledge and helpful input in helping me get myself and my family on the right track to a healthier happier life.”

“I love, loved the cleanse! I want to keep going to lose more weight as this has been the only thing I’ve done that has made me lose weight and feel great at the same time.”

“Your kale recipe is delicious and the whole organic chicken in crockpot was melt in your mouth good.”

“Thank you so much for the wealth of information you have shared. I have been pleased (and frankly amazed!) with how easy you have made this program. I have really enjoyed these days of healthy choices. It has taken some intentionality and planning but not much hard work. I have found it very “doable” thanks to all of your great tips!”

“I had more energy, I was better rested, My IBS symptoms were all but gone and the most important and unexpected effect I was happier, always in a good mood which makes mothering a crazy 7 year old so much easier!”

“I felt really proud of myself today at the grocery store when I had a cart full of healthy items. It just makes you want to spread the word of good health!! Feeling good today!!”

I’m going to be leading another group cleanse starting on April 20. Stay tuned for more info! The program is also available anytime for those who are interested in doing it on their own and not with a group. Or, you can get your own group together and pick a start date. You can read more about it here. Email me with questions or for more information about how the program works. healthyliving@kristasigmon.com

I did some recipe testing during the 14 days to come up with more delicious options for my group and also for a family that I am helping to go gluten free. I came up with 2 really awesome recipes that use a combination of oat flour and almond flour. Even if you are not gluten free, these recipes are for you! They just use healthier flours that also happen to be gluten free. Most cookie and pancake recipes use refined, bleached white flour which has no benefit and can spike blood sugar levels just like regular sugar does. Almond flour and oat flour have fiber, protein and nutrients. These banana pancakes are so good and are cleanse friendly. Yes, you can eat some incredible foods on my cleanse. The chocolate chip cookies are not quite cleanse friendly but the healthiest version of a chocolate chip cookie ever and so darn good! They were a huge hit with my kids!

Hope you enjoy them both. Is 2015 going to be the year that you truly change the way you eat and feel?

Cheers!
~Krista

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These cookies have incredible ingredients and they are so delicious. My taste testers (kids) love them!

Makes about 20 cookies

1½ cups oat flour (look for certified gluten free)
1½ cups almond flour, or almond meal (I tested with finely ground almond flour and Trader Joe’s almond meal which is coarse and both worked fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs*
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In a medium bowl, mix oat flour, almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together maple syrup, eggs, oil and vanilla.
4. While stirring constantly, slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Place by heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies don’t flatten out much when cooking so you can put them close together. You can flatten them a little before you put them in the oven if you want.
6. Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

*I recommend using as many organic ingredients as possible but these are the ones that I think are most important.

Notes:
If you are trying to convince picky kids to like your new cookie recipe, you can add 2 extra tablespoons of maple syrup and a few more chocolate chips.

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Serves 4

1 cup oat flour
¾ cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1¼ cup almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
coconut oil for cooking
optional topping: pure maple syrup

1. Whisk together first 5 dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In a small bowl, mix together maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract.

3. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in banana. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

4. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium low heat and melt about a teaspoon or so of coconut oil on it. Put ¼ cup pancake batter on for each pancake. These pancakes cook a little differently than regular ones. Cook lower and slower. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.

5. Serve with maple syrup if desired but they are delicious without it!

Notes:

Don’t try and flip them too soon or they will completely fall apart. Be patient – they are not ready when you see little bubbles on top. They are worth the wait!

If you have never tried cooking with almond flour or oat flour, they are delicious options filled with nutrients and protein, much more than processed white flour. I hope you’ll give them a try.

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Makes about 10 cups

This soup is so easy to make. The beans add some creaminess and also some protein. This is a very spicy (not hot spicy just lots of spices) version. I love to use spices because there are so many health benefits. Did you know that curcumin, which is found in turmeric, has natural anti-inflammatory properties and that cumin aids digestion and improves immunity? Feel free to use half the amounts of cumin, turmeric and paprika and add 1-2 tablespoons of honey if you want a sweeter version, especially if serving kids.

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated or finely minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium butternut squash, cut into cubes (about 6 cups if using precut)
1½ cups cooked cannellini beans, (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
4 cups organic broth*
1 cup water
Optional toppings: sour cream*, raw pumpkin seeds (pepitos), cilantro

1. Melt coconut oil in large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Cook onion for about 6-8 minutes or until tender.
3. Add garlic, ginger and spices and cook for one minute.
4. Add butternut squash, beans, broth water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
5. Puree soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender and and blend until smooth. Check seasoning and enjoy!

*I recommend using as many organic ingredients as possible but these are the ones that I think are most important.

Notes:
-Please try and buy BPA free cans – I like Eden Organic brand

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When I first became a health coach, my sweet childhood friend from West Virginia asked me if I would come up with a healthy version of Outback Steakhouse’s Spinach Artichoke Flatbread. I have never had it so I’m not sure how it compares but my family thinks this version is delicious! Try and use organic ingredients if possible – especially important for dairy, spinach and chicken.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
6 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese + more for topping pizzas
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz. cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 whole wheat tortillas (I used large Ezekiel sprouted wheat tortillas found in the freezer section) You can also use whole wheat pitas

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Stir in spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes or until just wilted then remove from heat.
4. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts.
5. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder and mix well.
6. Meanwhile cook tortillas on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes on each side until they crisp up slightly.
7. Spread each tortilla with ¼ of the spinach artichoke mixture and top each with chicken strips and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese. You don’t need much cheese because it is already rich and creamy.
8. Put flatbreads back in the oven and bake for 3-5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
9. Top with additional parmesan cheese if desired. Cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy!

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Contact Krista

Please feel free to contact me. Send me an email with the form below or at 704.575.4777

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© Copyright 2015 Krista Sigmon