Recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl

So…two weeks ago I was in California.  I was taking in the Los Angeles area…I was doing the whole Disney thing…I was running a 10K and Half Marathon injured…I was fighting aches and pains the rest of the time.

On our last full day in California, my roomie and I got into our rental car after saying good-bye to our friend Tanya, and took a long drive down to San Diego.  What was in San Diego?  Apollo 9.  Duh!

And a taco stand that my roommate fell in love with in 2015, when we stayed in San Diego for one night en route to Hawaii for a marathon I was unable to run (due to a stress fracture to my leg three (3) days before).  She was eager to return…maybe try something else…maybe redo the tacos that she fell so in love with.  But…there was nothing safe for me there…so she scouted out a Thai food place just around the corner.  They had an amazing gluten-free menu (almost everything)…but with my body hating me after I put it pushed it through races being held together with KT Tape and ACE Bandages, the Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl really caught my eye.

It was simple…yet delicious.  Broccoli & shitake mushrooms stir-fried in a warming seasoning paste made with peppercorns and turmeric.  It was served over Thai red rice.  And it was amazing.  It was a HUGE order…but I ate it all.  And I felt good about it.  And I kept talking about that meal…so I knew there was something to it.

And so…when I got back home, I set out to recreate it.  It wasn’t perfect, but it sure was delicious.  And as I had some riced cauliflower on hand…instead of cooking up some brown rice…I gave it a go.

Recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry Bowl

15995272_10100193941937701_3064135310889359941_oServes 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Directions:

**Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.

Line a large skillet with 1/4 cup water and add cauliflower rice.  Cook until softened.

Line a skillet with 1/4 cup water and add ginger paste and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook until the broccoli has turned bright green and the mushrooms have softened.

Add turmeric and black pepper.  Stir until everything is well coated.

Place half of the cooked cauliflower rice in each bowl.  Top with the broccoli and mushrooms.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

One great thing about this dish, all the seasoning means no salt needs to be added.  The dish is amazingly filling and so good.  The turmeric and black pepper are the perfect anti-inflammatory blend.  I intend to make this dish more often.  It’s simple…yet…so flavorful!  Don’t miss this one!

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Recipe: Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

I won’t lie…I’m a carb-a-holic.  Is that really a thing?  Is that a word? Doesn’t matter.  Carbs make me happy.  Gluten-free bread, pasta, donuts, muffins, potatoes, rice…you name it…I love to eat it.

That being said, I’m doing a slight bit of overhauling to my diet this year…aiming to cut back on all those processed carbs (like…bread, pasta, donuts, muffins, etc) and try to replace them with real food…healthier choices…and something that will nourish my body more.

Before I was diagnosed with Celiac…I may have lived at the Chinese buffet at least 2 times a month.  I love Chinese food.  I always have.  But, most of it is not even an option for me these days, unless I make it.  I’m Irish…not Chinese.  My Chinese food is never as amazing as when…you know…someone who is Chinese makes it.

That being said, I’ve been craving as of late…and I finally decided to cave and give into it.  And I got out my skillet on Sunday afternoon and whipped up a healthier version of fried rice, replacing the rice with riced cauliflower.  The recipe is below:

Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Cauliflower Fried

Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup carrots, cubed
2 eggs, beaten (if making vegan, sub in tofu or just leave out)
¼ cup low sodium tamari
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped (optional garnish)


Directions:

**Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.  At the end when you add it in with the sauce, cook it until it has softened.
 

Heat a large wok (or skillet) over medium heat and add 1/4 cup water. Add onion, peas and carrots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. (Add more water as needed to prevent veggies from sticking).Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes; set aside.

Slide veggie mixture to one side of the wok and add in the beaten eggs (or tofu…or skip this step if you opted to go without the protein), scrambling until cooked through and then incorporate with the veggies.

Stir in cauliflower “rice” and pour the sauce over top, mixing well. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender.

Top with green onions, serve and enjoy!

~*~*~

Simple, easy…and yes…super delicious!!  Oh…and only 220 calories per serving!  You can’t beat that, right?  Highly recommended to your Chinese food lovers if you’re looking for a healthier alternative!!  Or maybe you just want to try something new!

Either way, it’s an easy recipe with little to do but stir away!!  So…no excuses, friends.  Get rockin’ that wok!

Restaurant Review: Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Orlando, Florida

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Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Orlando, Florida

Restaurant: Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Orlando, Florida

I am a foodie.  Hard to believe with all my food allergies and intolerance…and the fact that I am a vegetarian…that this is a true statement.  But I LOVE food.  I love to eat food.  I love to enjoy food.  And I love to cook food.  I love to share food.  Food is love.  And, as an athlete, food is also fuel.

I am on a nice vacation at the moment, enjoying myself and my time away from the stresses of life.  And, as is the way me and my traveling compatriots do vacations…we work in one nice meal out.  And, as we were enjoying some time at Universal Studios today, we opted to eat on the Universal Studios Citywalk…at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando.

Now, I have loved Emeril Lagasse for a long time.  He is, not only, one of the most recognizable and quotable chef’s (“BAM!”)…he is just awesome.  His food is simple, pure, cajun goodness!!  He is pure Louisiana.  And that’s what we went there for.

We were in for a treat.  White tablecloths.  Chairs were pulled out for us.  Napkins were dropped into our laps.  I sort of felt under dressed with my roller-coaster windblown hair and my Wonder Woman t-shirt.  But, none of the staff minded.  We were greeted soon after by our waiter for the night…which was actually going to be three people seeing to us.  Our waiters were amazing and funny and extremely helpful.  We were given the menu to look over and I mentioned that I was a gluten free vegetarian…and after some witty bantering…he pointed out the Chef’s Creative Vegetable Plate of the Day (which changes from day to day) and explained to me that it was a noodless lasagna…where the chef layers squash, zucchini, eggplant and roasted red peppers, all seasoned with amazing herbs, and makes them into the noodles.  They could even make it vegan for me.  They let us peruse the menu and I noticed the special as well being a Roasted Cauliflower in a tomato broth with crispy kale that sounded SO good.  I needed to ask about it being gluten free.  Cathy had settled on the Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop and Jenn said she was getting the Shrimp and Grits (I had a feeling all the veggies would be tossed aside…LOL!).  But then, after checking with the chef about the gluten-free status of the cauliflower special (it was), and answering Jenn’s question as to what an étouffée was (all the veggies)…he went on to say that the Shrimp and Grits was the best dish on the menu.  So…Jenn was sold.  He also went on to say that the other dishes he considers the best served there were the Scallops and the Short Rib.

So now Cathy was undecided.  And I still was torn between the special and the menu special.  Both were special.  LOL!  But…both were different enough that I knew that I couldn’t get them anywhere else.  So, once Cathy decided on the Scallops instead, I was still torn.  And my dinner buddies weren’t making the decision any easier.  Back to our waiter for his opinion…and with his help, I opted for the Vegan version of the Chef’s Creative Vegetable Plate of the Day.  This meant none of the cheese or alfredo would be added to the dish.  Gluten free and vegan vegetable goodness.

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Emeril’s Cast Iron Corn Bread with Honey Butter and Bacon Jam

As we were going to have a little wait while our food was prepared, Jenn and Cathy decided they were going to split an appetizer.  They ordered the Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread with Honey Butter and Bacon Jam ($8.00).  The cornbread looked fantastic.  They said it was light and fluffy and just soft and amazing.  Cathy was a big, big, big fan of the Bacon Jam (pork belly cooked in butter with brown sugar and reduced).  Jenn said she could take it or leave it…but the honey butter at the bottom was just soaking into the bread.  I thought it was just…awesome looking.  But, alas, so not something I could eat.

Before too long, our entrees were being served.  They had Cathy and Jenn’s backwards, but that was easily fixed.  The plates were changed out and we were ready to dive in.

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Emeril’s Shrimp + Grits

Jenn ordered the Shrimp + Grits, which was Louisiana shrimp, étouffée, Anson Mills rice grits, and local cherry tomatoes ($30.00).  She said the shrimp was nailed to the perfect cook.  The grits were smooth and creamy.  I looked at them.  I thought it was rice at first…with all the cheese.  Much of the étouffée was cast aside, as she is not a cooked vegetable person, but the rest of it was devoured.  I really do think it was a 1/1 ratio of cheese to grits…but it looked awesome.  Her only qualm…the tails were left on the shrimp.  It’s kind of hard to be classy in a nice restaurant when you have to use your fingers to remove the tails.

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Emeril’s Blackened Diver Scallops

Cathy went with the Blackened Diver Scallops, which was served with a Creamy Corn Moque Choux, Wilted Greens, and Local Tomato Jam ($32.00).  It looked GORGEOUS!!  The corn sauce fascinated her.  She said it was almost like a corn chowder.  The greens were cooked perfectly.  They weren’t mushy or overly done.  She said the tomato jam was sweet and paired beautifully with everything.  But the star…the scallops.  They were tender and buttery and had a perfect sear.  She said they were the best scallops she ever had.

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Emeril’s Chef’s Creative Vegetable Plate of the Day – Noodleless Lasagna (tightly stacked slices of eggplant, zucchini, squash and roasted red pepper) with a marinara sauce and greens

So…my perfectly gluten-free and vegan dish is now up.  As I stated, I ordered the Chef’s Creative Vegetable Plate of the Day ($23.00).  This was a noodleless lasagna, where the noodles were stacked slices of eggplant, zucchini, squash, and roasted red pepper.  The seasonings were crazy good.  And all of this was topped off with an amazingly rich marinara and greens.  I could hardly make out the noodles, and I didn’t want to destroy the dish to get a picture.  So, trust me…there are tightly stacked veggies under there.  OMG.  The tomato sauce, for starters, was killer.  Just mouth watering, savory, amazing flavor.  The vegetables were cooked perfectly…not limp and wet, but perfect, with still a little crisp to them, but tender to bite into.  Almost like real noodles.  I didn’t miss the cheese or the heavy Alfredo.  This was pure perfection.  Why go back to noodles when you can do this to have lasagna?!  Seriously…so glad the waiter talked me into this one.  I was one happy girl.

And while we were all rather full from dinner…we decided we had to do dinner.  The waiter had tempted me with a Flourless (and Gluten Free) Chocolate Torte earlier that evening.  And I had been on the fence.  He did deliver dessert menus to us, to let the Cathy and Jenn choose what they might want to have…and then said the sorbets (strawberry lemonade, coconut, and passionfruit tonight) were another option for me.

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Emeril’s Flourless Decadent Chocolate Torte with Butter Pecan Sauce

In the end, we decided to split the Flourless Decadent Chocolate Torte with a Butter Pecan Sauce ($10.00) between the three of us.  I am so glad we did.  While the slice of torte isn’t as huge as say, a slice of Emeril’s famous Banana Cream Pie…it was rich.  Smooth, perfect, rich, creamy, amazing, sinful, decadent, chocolatey goodness.  Pure sinful goodness in each bite.  And that butter pecan sauce…oh yeah…that just tied it all together.  Cathy and Jenn split the whipped cream.  I ate the strawberry.  This…was a perfect end to a perfect meal.

I was beyond impressed with the service, setting, and food that we received at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando.  They were so good at working with me and my dietary needs.  Didn’t even bat an eye.  Immediately knew what to ask about and explained to me what I could eat and what was delicious.  Our waiter was awesome.  He made me laugh, he made me feel so good about the food that was going to be made for me, and he even helped me make a decision on my dinner that night.

If only more restaurants turned out a meal and an experience like this one did.  Emeril is an amazing chef…and his restaurant didn’t let me down.  This was a meal I will be talking about for a very long time.

Product Review: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

Product: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters – $7.00

One of the best parts about receiving a monthly subscription box is the products I never would have tried and/or heard of without it.  After Cuisine Cube…I needed a change.  So, I opted to get a subscription to Conscious Box, which has become Bestowed.  I love my little monthly treats and this one is affordable, and often has a blend of samples and full-size products.

I received the April box a few days ago…

And I’ve already delved into it.

This morning, I was prepping for a 6 mile run, and per the instructions of my sports nutritionist, I needed to get some fuel in my body before heading out.  So, I went to the pantry and pulled down a package of one of the products I received a full-size sample of.  It is like a granola (and we all know I love granola) and from a company called WholeMe.

WholeMe was created in 2003 by Krista Steinbach and Mary Kosir, two women who were dedicated to developing nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient foods.  Like so many of us, they were leading busy and chaotic lives.  But one thing they both took into consideration was that food has power over everyone’s daily lives and they really wanted to make eating real food delicious and convenient.  In early 2014, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $40,000 to begin WholeMe.  Their products offer a real alternative to the preservative-filled, sugar-laden snacks that infiltrate the grocery store, and then inevitably…our pantries.  They like to say, “Real food should have a limited shelf life.  Remember, food is perishable.  ours is.  And that’s why the only preservative we use is the fridge.”

So, thanks to my Bestowed Box, I now was the owner of a package of one of WholeMe’s three variety of clusters.  Their granola clusters are available in Almond Coconut, Lemon Berry Chia, and Cinnamon Banana Chip.  As luck of the draw (or in this case…box) had it, I received the Cinnamon Banana Chip.  And this morning…with 6 miles needed at 3:30 a.m…I needed to get some fuel before heading out.  Without any extra sugars, I thought this might be a nice thing to munch on while I got dressed and ready to stretch and warm up.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when I opened it up and reached inside, snagging a few crumbly clusters of the chocolate-y looking snack, I wasn’t expecting to see real banana chips scattered throughout the blend.  I love banana chips.  Always have.  So, yeah, this made me so happy!  The only real chocolate in this, by the way, is the smattering of cocoa nibs inside the mix.  I figured to give it a go, and I popped the handful in my mouth…

…and was immediately hooked.

In fact, I went back for some more and then went and finished getting ready for my run.  It’s sweet, without being overly sweet.  It tastes mostly of banana.  The cinnamon is nice for the flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the product.  In a word…these clusters are freakin’ amazing.  Out of this world.  And GOOD FOR YOU!!  They are soft and have great texture.  Especially if you get a bit with a banana chip in it.  Yummy!  The bits of chocolate add just enough sweetness to keep the flavor interesting.  And everything inside these clusters…is made from real food.  Real food!  I love eating real food.  With a blend of nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, and an appropriate hit of salt, cinnamon, and maca…this snack blend is a real treat…no guilt.

It is perfect for…as the back of the bag reads:

“What’s in it for Me?  The watch-what-I-eat Me.  The work-out-addict Me.  The grain-free Me.  The paleo Me.  The give-me-something-good-to-eat Me.  The diabetic Me.  The gluten-free Me.  No matter which Me you happen to be, WholeMe is determined to provide genuine, delicious, convenient foods.  Food that makes all of Me (you) happy.”

So, if it’s so good for you, let’s take a look at these natural and real ingredients that go into a package of WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters, shall we?  This granola mix is made from banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), honey, pecans, coconut, almonds, dried bananas, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pure maple syrup, cocoa nibs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and maca.  This blend is grain-free, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, paleo, nutrient-dense, preservative-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  It is all natural goodness, for sure!

So, with that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the nutrition facts for the WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters.  A serving size of the clusters is 1/3 cup (28 grams).  There are 8 servings per package.  A serving will serve you up 133 calories, 10 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0  grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 67 mg sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Not too bad for something that you can eat as cereal, by the handful, or as a topping to yogurt or ice cream.  Seriously…options are endless.

I haven’t seen this in stores anywhere in my area, and it looks like it is mostly available in Minnesota (where WholeMe is based out of).  That being said, there is an online store…which I will definitely be hitting up in the near future.  With real food that is really good…why wouldn’t I?  This is right in my wheelhouse…and definitely gave me adequate and perfect fueling for my run.

Product Review: Wonderfully Raw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons

Wonderfully Raw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons

Wonderfully Raw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons

Product: Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons – $2.99+

Welcome to the final round of “Cookies I Bought At Jungle Jim’s International Market.”  Hey…cookies are awesome and when I find cookies that I have never spotted in my area of the country…I take every opportunity to try them.  I mean, come on, cookies are the perfect treat after a long day.  A little savory…but also sweet.  You can’t go wrong.

While shopping in the gluten-free section of Jungle Jim’s International Market on my birthday, Cathy spotted a small line-up of little macaroon-type cookies.  I used to despise coconut.  I thought it tasted like having bugs in your mouth.  Texture-wise…a fail.  That being said, as I’ve gotten older, the more times I try coconut, the more I have come to enjoy it…in certain forms.

One of such forms is in…macaroons…those sweet lumps of toasted coconut with that golden crust at the bottom.  Yep…I devour those now.  Go figure.  They are just a nice, healthier cookie to indulge in every now and again.  So, imagine my excitement when Cathy spotted a shelf with little pouches of macaroon cookies called Coco-Roons.  I knew I wanted to try one of the different varieties…but I had to narrow it down to the one that interested me most.

Coco-Roons are made by the company Wonderfully Raw.  Wonderfully Raw was started by Sequoia Cheney, who had a passion for good food that wasn’t exactly good for her.  When she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she knew something had to change in order for her to heal herself.  She decided to change her path and began a journey into good health.  Her son, Eric Hara, a renowned chef in New York City, gave her a lot of inspiration and encouragement.  So Sequoia decided to create delicious food that was also good for her.  She began to train at Living Light Culinary Institute in Mendocino, California, where she trained with the best raw food chefs in the business.  And with what she learned there, she could now prepare food that could support and heal the body.  This dynamic mother and son duo have come together to create Coco-Roons, which are produced using only the finest organic ingredients.

Perfect segue here to tell you what is actually in these miniature cookies of wonderful lemony goodness, yes?  The Wonderfully Rw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons are made from organic dried unsweetened coconut, organic almond flour, organic unfiltered maple syrup, organic cold-pressed coconut oil, organic lemon zest, organic vanilla extract, and Himalayan crystal salt.  That’s it, my dear readers.  That’s it.  These miniature macroons are vegan, gluten-free, and paleo (if cavemen ate desserts…and I’m still not convinced that’s true).  These are also raw and certified non-GMO.

As far as nutrition goes, the Wonderfully Raw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons are a fantastic treat at the end of the day.  A serving size is 3 of the miniature cookies.  There are 2-4 servings per bag, as I think they actually go off weight.  One serving will provide you with 80 calories, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat (from coconut oil), 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 1 gram protein.  Not filling, but not horrible by any standard when it comes to a treat.

And since this is kind of out of my usual order, how about I tell you how much I LOVE these cookies, yes?  First of all, they don’t taste coconutty at all.  Nope.  You get a bit of the texture, but that fresh lemon flavor is what tempts your taste buds into popping the next one.  These cookies are tiny, little bite-size mounds of goodness.  I was sad to only eat three of them tonight.  I mean, totally amazing flavor…and you can’t beat how good these are for you…as fr as cookies go.  I love that these are sweetened with maple syrup instead of granulated white sugar.  And I love that I don’t feel bad just digging into these.  If you’re a lemon lover…these will definitely make you happy.  My roommate got to her serving first and all I heard was, “These are amazing.”  And…she was absolutely right.  I have a new soft spot in my heart for the Wonderfully Raw Lemon Pie Mini Coco-Roons.  I hope a store around here carries them, otherwise I’ll be scooping up more of these and the other flavors on my next trip to Jungle Jim’s.  And, if nothing else, they are available to order online on the Wonderfully Raw Web site.

Beyond enthusiastic and happy with these cookies for sure.  I loved these from first bite and simply can’t wait to dig in tomorrow for more.  Here’s a no-guilt, fantastic, healthy dessert or snack you’ll love.  Trust me.

Product Review: Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

 Product: Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash – $9.90+/-

Sometimes trying to find balance in your diet isn’t easy.  There are some days my macro and micro nutrients are so out of whack that I have a hard time seeing where things went awry.  That being said…I am always looking for new and inventive ways to have a food that I love, minus the guilt and the excess.

Enter Cuisine Cube!  For those of you just tuning in, I have been a firm supporter and happy subscriber of Cuisine Cube for awhile now.  But, Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  These box subscriptions start at $34.99/month.  And, part of the charm is that you will receive 5-6 full-size (not sample size) products.  WOOT!  These usually fall into every meal category for the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert…with an added bonus from time-to-time.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!

So, when my February 2015 (Happy V-Day) Cuisine Cube arrived, I was happy, excited, elated, and over-the-moon happy to find an easy-to-prepare (not that the real thing is difficult, but this was certainly less time consuming) Cauliflower Mash from Zero Cuisine.  Now, I have heard and even made cauliflower mash before, but this was the first time I ever saw it come in packaged form.  I was beyond intrigued.  And yet, the perfect moment to use it never quite arrived…until just recently when I spotted a recipe for Portobella Mushroom Steaks.  What goes best with a steak (of sorts) than potatoes.  So, why not replace the mashed potatoes with something a bit healthier and lower in calories and carbohydrates?  It was ideal.

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash in powdered form

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash in powdered form

Zero Cuisine brings you a leaner, better-looking cousin of the traditional mashed potato.  Their Cauliflower Mash, available in two flavors – Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt and Wasabi & Chives – is a low carb, low calorie, low GI, gluten-free, preservative-free, high fiber, high in vitamins, all natural product that can easily replace your favorite starchy carbs with low carb vegetables which just about every diet recommends.  From the Ketogenic, Atkins, Paleo, diabetic diets…reducing carbohydrate intake is highly touted.  Zero Cuisine…just makes it easier for you to enjoy a substitute for starchy carbs without any guilt or any cravings for the carb-laden real thing.  Cuisine Cube included the Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt version in the February cube.

But, how good can a powdered form of cauliflower mash be?  Well…just as good, but healthier for you, than those powdered potato flakes that turn into mashed potatoes.  Honestly.  I had my doubts upon opening up this little package, but it was so quick, easy, and really tasty when all was said and done.

Let’s face it…it doesn’t get any easier than this…

In a saucepan, heat up water (4 ounces per serving, so if you make the entire thing like I did…2 cups of water) and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat and add 1/3 cup of the Cauliflower Mash powder (or…if you make the entire pouch instead of one serving…just pour the entire package) into the hot water.  Stir continuously until desired consistency is achieved, which for me was in less than 3 minutes.  Might have only taken a minute.  For extra creamy flavor, add butter and milk if your diet allows.

I didn’t add butter or milk, but I did get a beautiful, rich, thick cauliflower mash when all was said and done.  It was like really creamy mashed potatoes.  Great consistency.  Of course, the biggest test comes with the taste.

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash (prepared)

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash (prepared)

Zero Cuisine does a phenomenal job of capturing the texture of mashed potatoes with their Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash.  I was actually quite impressed as I watched the powder turn into this gorgeous swirl of thick mash.  And, with only a lack of a bit of seasoning, the flavors really stood out too.  The garlic and herbs don’t overpower the cauliflower itself.  It just would have been a bit bland if not for the seasoned portobello mushroom steak I was serving, which came with a sauce that I drizzled over the entire dish.  It was an amazing addition to the meal and took a lot of prep time out of the occasion.  It’s always best to make things yourself, but this is a healthy and very easy alternative when time restrictions play a huge part in your life.

Let’s talk about ingredients, shall we?  The Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash is made up of dried cauliflower, garlic and spices, sea salt, and guar gum.  It is naturally gluten-free, trans fat free, free of saturated fat, and cholesterol free.  Gotta love it.  Also, every pack of this cauliflower mash is made from approximately 2.6 pounds of fresh cauliflower and every serving of Zero Cuisine Cauliflower Mash contains 1-1/2 servings of vegetables.

As far as nutrition information goes…you’re going to love this even more.  A serving size is 1/3 cup package or 2/3 cup prepared.  There are 4 servings per container.  In one serving, you will be consuming 60 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 15 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugars, and 3 grams protein.  This is spectacular given that a regular serving of mashed potatoes would provide 160 calories, 24 grams carbs, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 445 mg sodium  HUGE difference.  Feel good about your food.  Eat something that is better for you and your body in the long run.

I need to find out where I can find this in my area, because Zero Cuisine made prep and cooking so easy.  Especially on hectic nights, this is something that is worth having in the pantry.  Loved the flavors and the texture of the Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash.  And it was because of Cuisine Cube, that I now know it exists.  Happiness comes in all sorts of packages!

Portobello Steak over Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Portobello Steak over Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Product Review: Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola

Product: Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola – $7.99+

When a product goes by the name “Laughing Giraffe” I take notice.  Funny thing though…I’d never heard of this brand before.  Trust me…if I had, it would probably have already been a staple in my pantry.

This brand and product came to me courtesy of my monthly subscription to Cuisine Cube.  I know most of you, by now, are familiar with this service, but let me give you a quick rundown.  For as little as $29.99/month, you can have Cuisine Cube delivered to your door . What this service provides is 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?

So, April 2015’s Cuisine Cube featured Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola for the Breakfast/Snack item.  I was immediately intrigued.  Loved the name of the company and the name of the product.  And I love a good granola…and this looked like it was quality in a little pouch.  So, yeah…excitement.

Laughing Giraffe Organics is a family run business owned by the Gilmour family, based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.  They entered the health food business out of a desire to learn about healthy eating and how it could improve their own well-being.  Laughing Giraffe Organics mission is to provide quality nutritional snack foods that taste great and only use the purest organic ingredients that are nutrient dense and minimally processed.  I am loving this already.  Basically, they make foods that they believe will satisfy hunger without detracting from quality of life.  This is a company that truly wants you to eat well and live better.

Who can’t get on board with that, right?

It was my 5:30 a.m. spin class day at the gym yesterday.  I love my class, but it’s an hour long, and I have to go home, shower, and get everything together to get out the door to work.  It makes for a huge time crunch.  SO…in order to have something my roommate can eat and that I can take with me to work, it is often something like a Greek yogurt parfait or something of the sort.  This was the case this past Wednesday, and so, before heading off to the gym, I made up two bowls of my infamous breakfast parfaits…Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh berries.

I try to keep healthy (ie: low sugar) granola in the house, and since Cuisine Cube had provided me with some, I figured I’d take full advantage on such a chaotic morning.  I washed the berries and prepped the to-go bowl and the nice bowl (for the roomie to eat at home) for the actual assembly of the parfaits.  I put a small handful of the granola in each bowl, then spooned over the Greek yogurt, then added the berries.  Repeat.  Then finish off with another handful of granola.  It’s a filling, amazing, delicious and nutritious way to start the morning.  Of course, I had to try this granola on it’s own, as well as as a mixer with the parfait.

The Laughing Giraffe Organics Cherry Ginger Snakarola is a better granola.  It’s soft (like Van’s Granola), and packed with nuts and and tons of flavor.  I was a bit concerned with the ginger in the name of the product, but the ginger that is included in the mix isn’t candied or overwhelming.  It’s blended in perfectly and offset by the salty-crunchy nuts.  Then…to add to the decadence…dried cherries.  Honestly, it was a perfect blend for me.  Almost like a muesli while still being a granola.  It was amazing.  And it could be used over dairy-free (or regular) ice cream, in cookies, or eaten straight out of the bag…among other tings.  That’s the great thing about a fantastic granola…it can be so versatile.  The Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola is all of that.  And…it’s addictive…in a good, healthy, and delicious way.

So, let’s take a look at the simple, basic, organic ingredients that go into each pouch of Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola, shall we?  This granola is made up of organic walnuts, organic pecans, organic agave nectar, organic dried cherries, organic ginger powder, organic vanilla extract (gluten-free) and Himalayan pink salt.  This product compliments a Paleo diet, has a low glycemic point, is nutrient-rich and power-packed, is a fantastic source of healthy fats, and is packed with fiber to keep you feeling full.  This product is gluten-free, certified organic, raw, vegan and non-GMO.

As for nutrition information, don’t be frightened.  Remember much of this granola is made up of healthy nuts, which, are higher in calories and fats (but healthy…just keep to the serving size or below!).  A serving of the Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Snakarola is 1/2 cup.  This serving will give you 290 calories and 25 grams of fat.  You will also be taking in 50 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, 3 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.  This granola is cholesterol free.

It was definitely love at first bite with this granola.  It wasn’t too sweet, nor was it spicy.  It was crunchy without being over toasted.  And it was soft and delicious.  Filled with the best sort of foods for healthy and fitness…yeah…this was a definite win.  Now to get more for my pantry.  Perhaps in another flavor.  Thanks to both Laughing Giraffe Organics and Cuisine Cube for this fantastic product!