Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Chronicles of a Sneaky Mama

That’s right, when it comes to nutrition, I am a sneaky mama.  And I know I am not the only one.  I have friends who puree veggies into pasta sauces and make foods into fun shapes to give their kiddos a nutritional boost.

I like to keep these Tasty Tuesday posts light because I believe food should be fun.  Stress is worse for the body than any food could be (well, maybe not worse than deep fried butter, but you get the idea…..)  But, in order to be completely transparent, I have to share what inspires my planty ways when it comes to my babe.

During a nutrition course I took while T was just getting into solids, I learned that children in the US today are the first generation with a predicted life expectancy shorter than their parents.  This took my breath away.  I realize that food isn’t the end all and be all when it comes to health, but I also know that what we do or don’t put into our bodies can be a major factor when it comes to many chronic diseases.

Truth bomb #2: Heart disease begins in childhood.  Most children in the US already have fatty streaks in their arteries by age 10.  Scary stuff I know, but at the risk of being a downer it seems important enough to share.

Now for the happy part: Consuming more plants can prevent and/or reverse many chronic diseases.  So, now that you see the method to my madness, I’ll share a few sneaky secrets:

-Sly Smoothies: Since children vary in what they deem an acceptable smoothie, mom knows best when it comes to this one.  I will share that baby spinach blends beautifully and leaves little to no aftertaste, as do hemp seeds and frozen cauliflower (we use the riced kind).  Sweeter fruits help mask greens and veggies, so things like bananas, mango, and pineapple are a sneaky mom’s best friend.  This one has been my go to for a while now.  You may want to skip the spirulina* and go light on the greens if you have a green-averse child.

-Tricky Treats:  Avocado makes for yummy puddings and pops, and black beans make tasty brownies.  When in doubt, you could always put them all together.

-Secret Sauces: This sauce is perfect for pasta.  T won’t eat pasta (weird right?  Isn’t pasta on every kid’s menu in the world?) but loves it on pizza.  The main ingredient is cauliflower, but you would never know.

*update: we’ve since switched from spirulina to wheatgrass since possible concerns about certain spirulina suppliers and safety.  The science on the benefits of wheatgrass is stronger and there are no concerns on safety to date.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook

Full disclosure, T knows there is avocado in there, he just thinks that’s where ice cream comes from……
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: 1 Minute to Peanut Cashew Butter in the Vitamix

A few weekends back we started potty training.  Yes, a funny way to begin a post about food but I’ll get to the point in a sec.  We peppered the weekend with lots of fun treats to keep the situation light.  In this spirit, we had dessert for dinner and I made a “Potty Cake” (again, not the most appetizing of names, I guess you had to be there….). 

Since I had some extra frozen bananas in the freezer I decided to make some nice cream to go with (in case you didn’t know, blend frozen bananas in the food processor until smooth and you get the texture of soft serve ice cream…cool right?)  In the middle of some hard core blending the metal blade broke.  Since no one digs banana metal chip, into the trash it went.  Turns out the blade was recalled (what can I say, I like to live dangerously….).

After a few days spent contemplating a bleak nut butter-less existence, I decided to go nuts balls to the wall and give the Vitamix another try.  I love it for smoothies and sauces but last time I tried making nut butter I ended up pouring it into the food processor to finish.  Turns out the keys are to:

A.) Follow directions and not just throw nuts and seeds in willy nilly 

B.) Use nuts with a very high oil content (I’ve found peanuts and cashews work best) and/or roast them 

I was pleasantly surprised when, after a mere few minutes of blending, I had the creamiest nut butter I’d ever made.  It’s so close to the consistency of Jif that it kinda freaks me out.  So, if you like quick, creamy peanut butter without the the hydrogenated oils and happen to have a high speed blender, give this one a go.  You’ll be nuts for it.


-2.5 cups dry roasted peanuts (organic of possible, just peanuts with no added ingredients)

-1/2 cup raw cashews

-1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

To make:

-Place all ingredients in blender except for salt.

-Turn on low setting (1) and gradually work up to highest (10), using tamper to push nuts toward blade.

-Keep blending on highest setting for approximately one minute, or until smooth.

-If using salt, add and quickly blend again on medium setting to distribute evenly.

-Pour into jar and store in refrigerator.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook

Sorry I ever doubted you Vitamix!  I’ll know better next time….
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Fine Fermentations

Though the idea of fermented foods might seem strange here in the US, many cultures consume some type of ferment with their meals on the regular.  In fact, the Standard American Diet is one of the few devoid of fermented foods, so maybe we are the weird ones?

If you keep up with nutrition, you may have noticed that fermentation is becoming more and more popular.  Yup, kraut is now chic.  And with good reason.  A mere 2 ounces of the stuff can contain more bacteria than an entire jar of expensive probiotic capsules!  (Permission to splurge on that organic artisanal brand you’ve been eyeing now granted……)

In the mood to give your gut a little love?  The following are a few plant based items that can do just that:

Saurkraut: As mentioned above, kraut is pretty much the bomb.  It’s great as a condiment, mixed into salads, or served beside whatever else you happen to be eating.

Kimchi: Consumed pretty much as you would kraut, it’s great for adding a little spice to a meal.  I recently found wildbrine’s kimchi sriracha and now put that s*$t on everything (like the lady in the classic Frank’s Red Hot commercial, only more gut focused…)

Miso:  Miso is a little recipe miracle worker.  From soups to salad dressings, it adds that umami flavor without being too overpowering.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook


Miso in the dressing, a few drops of kimchi sriracha, and kraut on top….bacteria never looked (or tasted) so good…..
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Colorful Carrot Ginger Dressing

Up until the past few days, we’ve had a ridiculous amount of rain here in Virginia.  On the bright side (and I mean that very literally), now that the sun is out the world is extra vivid.  Yellow and pink flowers, emerald green grass, bright purple berries…In honor of the recent change in weather, I created a beautiful (and delicious!) orange dressing to top a rainbow of a salad.  The secret to its monarch butterfly hue?  Carrots!  Not only do the carrots give this dressing a unique color, they also create a light yet satisfyingly savory condiment.  Of course, bright colors can be pretty to look at, but did you know the more richly colored the food the greater the antioxidant levels?  Yes, this dressing is both attractive and loaded.  Swipe right (just kidding, scroll down), to meet your new bae…..


-1 cup carrots, roughly chopped

-1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

-3 tablespoons hemp seeds

-1 tablespoon umi plum vinegar (sounds fancy but you can find it in most grocery stores or online)

-1 rounded teaspoon light miso

-1 teaspoon dijon mustard

-1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

-1 teaspoon date sugar (or other sweetener of choice)

-1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons water (add more for a thinner consistency)

To make:

-Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook

Almost too pretty to eat, but since looks don’t last forever down it went…..
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Plant Based Made Easy

In a perfect world, I would prepare a gourmet plant based meal three times a day.  The whole family would give me all the time and space I needed to do so.  They would also give me mad accolades and eat every single bite.  There would be no limit to my ingredient budget, and J would call my favorite grocery store by its rightful name instead of Whole Paycheck.  Here in the real world, schedules can be tight, toddlers (and husbands!) can be picky, and pennies need to be pinched whenever possible.  Thankfully plant based meals give you a lot of bang for your buck, especially when you think in terms of nutrients per dollar.  Here are a few of my favorite plant based hacks:

Frozen Fruits and Veggies: Wholesale stores have gotten hip to whole foods.  Hit up the frozen section for fruits and veggies (often organic!) to create smoothies, soups, or whatever else your little heart desires. Fun fact: frozen veggies often retain more nutrients than fresh since they are frozen soon after picking.

Canned Beans: Budget-wise, dried beans are the better option.  However, nothing beats the convenience and nutrition of popping open a can of beans.  I always keep some on hand for last minute salads, hummus, or black bean brownies when the mood strikes.  Look for BPA free cans and organic, if you can swing it.

Sweet Potatoes: Delicious and comforting, nothing satisfies like a sweet potato.  You can find many varieties, and even organic, at a price that will suit your budget.  And don’t forget they are the number one food amongst folks living in the blue zones…

Prepped Greens: Prepping greens yourself is usually the cheaper option, but for the time-crunched pre-washed and prepped greens are a saving grace.  Many wholesale stores carry large bags of organic greens perfect for smoothies, salads, and the like.

Raw Cashews: This may seem like an odd addition, but cashews are just so dang versatile!  From savory cream sauces and dressings to yummy nut butters and frostings, these little tree nuts can take a meal from ho hum to heavenly in no time flat.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook

Can drinking out of a plant mug trick your body into thinking it’s getting more antioxidants than it actually is?  I’ll let you know when my case study is finished…….