illustration by eva hjeltel at peppercookies.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby's got a brand new bag

Many thanks to all the followers, commenters and readers of my Lunchmeat blog since it's birth. I will be continuing to blog but posting on my website JessicaProcini.com.  I won't be deleting this blog so you can still come back and find the recipes you love. See you on the new site :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The JIF Myth



In a previous post, when referring to JIF peanut butter, I said, “you’re better off drinking a bottle of Windex”.  Because you really are. Not ready to give up your JIF just yet? Maybe this breakdown will help you reconsider.

Let’s take a gander at the ingredients...
1. Roasted Peanuts: peanuts are the #1 pesticided item. Do you enjoy chemicals with your peanuts? I don’t. Whenever choosing a peanut butter, choose organic. (All natural doesn’t count) You’re worth a couple extra pennies.
2. Sugar: this is the straight white stuff that will spike your blood sugar and then leaving you crashing an hour or too later making you reach for MORE peanut butter, candy or unnecessary calories. Also, sugar = weight gain.
3. Molasses: another sweetener.  If you’re trying to switch from Jif to the organic-no-crap-added peanut butter you’ll notice it’s not as sweet. Jif cheats and adds TWO sweeteners.
4. FULLY Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil: When a vegetable oil is hydrogenated, hydrogen is added to turn liquid oils into solids. This hydrogenation process is highly unnatural involving high heat, high pressure and the use of toxic substances, such as nickel, as catalysts and alters the shape of the molecules. Even though fully hydrogenated oils may contain no trans fat, such oils contain lots of free radicals, which can cause serious damage to body cells.
5. Mono and Diglycerides:  additives that are used to blend together two ingredients that normally wouldn’t blend well, such as oil and water. That is why most peanut butters without additives have all the oil at the top.  When you purchase it, give it a super duper good stir when you get home and put it in the fridge. You’ll never have to stir or see the gross oil bath at the top again.
6. Salt: because JIF wants you to bloat after you enjoy their peanut butter

Trying to get a JIF lover off peanut butter is like trying to get a cigarette smoker off cigarettes. It’s tough. One tactic you can try is what I like to call the Half and Half: Have your Jif lover mix half of their JIF with half of their organic peanut butter. Half is better then none. Once the Jif runs out, purchase a bottle of Windex instead.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nutrition Nugget







I get a lot of questions from people (keep them coming!) and this is one I get asked a lot so I'd like to share it with the masses :) 


Betty writes:
Jess! How are you??? i LOVE your blog! Random question (and I guess maybe a blog post request???). I'll be traveling soon for 5 days for a conference. It's pretty easy to find healthy foods for lunch and dinner while on the road, but much more difficult to find healthy breakfasts. I'm assuming that means I have to bring stuff with me. Any ideas for breakfast on the road (without a fridge)? Thanks!!!


Great question! Traveling can be an automatic 'eject' button out of our healthy eating bandwagon but if you pick out your meals or snacks just like you do your outfits, it'll be like a seatbelt when that eject button launches. 


If you're traveling by car or train I recommend getting a cute lunch bag, packing it with a few ice packs so you can make your own mini fridge of goodies. I usually pack a green smoothie, hard boiled eggs, carrots and hummus for the following morning. 1 day of a healthy breakfast is better then zero.  


If that isn't an option my go-to easy travel buddies are:

  • an avocado (it will keep you full! but be sure to pack a knife and spoon to eat it)
  • bananas and apples (with almond butter or organic peanut butter) 
  • nuts - any kind you fancy
  • Larabars - check out their minimalist ingredient list
  • Silvers Power Balls



If you have no time to prepare your best bet is finding a Starbucks, because they're everywhere. Skip the coffee and grab a hot green tea and their Protein Bistro Box. It contains a hard boiled egg (protein!), cheese (for those who can eat it), some fruit and muesli bread with peanut butter (more protein and healthy fat to keep you full). If you're still hungry, buy two.  My last option would be their oatmeal with nuts (no brown sugar!) as it has more additives then the protein box. Please note that Starbucks food is not the greatest option but when you're in a pinch it's better then a doughnut or bagel with cream cheese. 


But remember, traveling is about stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring new places. So don't stress over trying to stick to your normal eating habits.  It's not going to happen.  But, do keep a few things in your freezer so when you get home you can jump right back on the bandwagon and don't have to order pizza. 


If you have a question, send it to me (Jessica@JessicaProcini.com) and you may see it's answer here! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Invitation...


video


Weigh Less and Live More this Holiday Season!

Food, festivity and stress are three major 'gifts' during the holiday season. Research shows that the average American gains around 7 to 10 pounds between the time of Thanksgiving and New Years, setting themselves up for a weight loss New Years resolution. Discover how to survive this holiday season without weight gain and unbearable stress. I will share tips, tricks and recipes to help you get through your to-do list and enjoy the festivities without guilt or overindulgence so you find yourself entering 2012 still being able to zip your pants.

Monday, November 28th at 7:30pm
At Juju Salon (Next to Essene Market)
728 South 4th Street, Philadelphia

Please call 215-238-6080 to reserve your spot - it's free but space is limited and filling up!


See you there!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Label This.



"What are you?" is hands down the most common question I get. Followed by "Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Do you eat meat? What DO you eat?" Here's the answer: I eat what is right for my body and I don't believe that I should fit myself into someone else's stipulations aka label. (GASP) Vegan, pescatarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian... Your body needs different things based on it's physical activity, what climate you live in, what your age is and male vs. female. And to top it off, it all changes from day to day. So what happens if you eat outside your label's standards? Do you still consider yourself a part of that label?
For a while I didn't cook meat at home. I'd freely eat it out at a restaurant but cooking it just wasn't my thing anymore. But recently my body has been extremely tired, lethargic and craving meat. So I flipped through my favorite recipes and found this guy. It re-energized my body and made me feel ready to take on this cold weather (snow in October?! really?!) Talk about the perfect fall (or does snow=winter?) chili and it's easy to make. If you've got a busy week up ahead it's leftovers are just as fantastic as the first day, so make a huge pot and enjoy throughout your week.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili


Makes about 6 servings and takes about 45 minutes to make, start to finish including cleanup


Need:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground white meat turkey
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (I roasted a pumpkin like I did for the Pumpkin Bars)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used Eden Brand)


Do:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Enjoy!

Recipe via Whole Foods and image via Jess' iPhone

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Healthy Halloween Treat {for you!}



If I had trick-or-treaters coming to my door, I would hand out Peeled Snacks instead of candy to help put an end to the rapidly rising rates of childhood obesity and type-II diabetes. Their organic single serving snacks are available at Starbucks, a great alternative to muffins, doughnuts and cookies. 'Much-ado-about-Mango' is my favorite.  But since no trick-or-treaters come to my physical door, I'll have to give out my treats here and maybe you'll be a lucky winner!

What's up for grabs? A Peeled Snacks Organic Fruit Variety Pack (a value of $22.99) which contains 10 single serving snacks: 2 each of pine-4-Pineapple, much-ado-about-Mango, Apricot-a-lot, Cherry-go-round & Apple-2-the-core. So you can throw out the candy that sits in your desk drawer and at 3pm grab one of these snacks. 

How do I win? Leave a comment below before Tuesday 11/1 at 9pm EST telling me what you'd like to see more of here on the Lunchmeat blog. Please include your name. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday 11/2.

GOOD LUCK! And Happy Healthy Halloween!

xoxo
Jess

UPDATE: Congrats Nicole! Please send an email to Jessica@JessicaProcini.com with your mailing address so I can send you your prize! Congrats again!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Brilliant Breakfast



Cold days are requiring a warm breakfast and this is one I love in the morning. Kasha is also known as roasted buckwheat but actually has nothing to do with wheat and is a relative of rhubarb.  It’s gluten free, strengthens the kidneys, and is high in amino acids especially lysine.  If you work out, run or are an athlete lysine is important for muscle-building protein and muscle recovery. Of all grains, kasha has the longest transit time in the digestive tract keeping you full the longest.  When I have this for breakfast I’m not even near ready for lunch until 2pm! You can purchase kasha in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods. 

Kasha Breakfast Porridge

Approx 4 Servings

Need:
2 cups water or milk of your choosing (I used rice or almond milk)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon and Nutmeg
1 cup kasha
2 Apples, diced
Handful of walnuts
2 tablespoons almond butter
Maple Syrup, honey or agave to taste

Do:
Bring water or milk with cinnamon and nutmeg to a boil. Add kasha. (Don’t add kasha prior to boiling or it won’t cook correctly) Reduce to low heat, cover and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in apples, walnuts and almond butter. Cover and cook for 1-2 more minutes.  Stir in maple syrup to taste. Consistency can be adjusted by adding more water or milk. 

Images via Jess's iPhone

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Raw Chocolate Truffles





I bought raw truffles like these at Essene Market a few months ago for an afternoon snack.  They were yummy and satisfying but I thought I could figure out how to make them myself before paying for them again.  They contain raw cacao which as numerous benefits.  Another superfood, cacao contains magnesium, the essential ingredient to help you build bones and high levels of all good stuff to keep you focused, alert and happy. It can come in multiple forms such as cacao powder, cacao nibs and whole seeds.  Cacao is raw chocolate so if you taste the nibs (I do not recommend), which are needed for the recipe, it’ll taste pretty bitter.  That’s why Mr. Milton Hershey adds so much sugar to his chocolate. Now you can have your chocolate without the sugar. 

Need:
¼ cup organic raw cacao nibs
½ cup organic walnuts
1 ½ tablespoons agave nectar (you can use soaked dates or honey instead)
Topping of your choosing: I chose unsweetened coconut but you could use raw cacao powder, ground almonds, or ground walnuts

Do:
Put walnuts in vitamix or food processor and grind until mealy.
Add cacao nibs and continue to blend until combined. Add the agave (the sweetener) and process until a paste texture forms.  Roll into balls and then into the topping of your choosing.  Keep in fridge or freezer until ready to enjoy!

Image via http://www.aconscioussplurge.com/Chocolates---Treats.html

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Love With...


Last time I was in Grenada, I picked up some dark chocolate that was made there locally.  I’ve been having it as a sweet treat after dinner some nights and it really hits the spot. But my stash is running dangerously low and another trip to Grenada is not in the near future.  Lucky for me I’ve found a chocolate that I LOVE to get me through. 

Created by two fellow students of IIN, Nibmor chocolate is AWESOME.  I picked up a bar the last time I was in Whole Foods.  It’s not as bitter as other dark chocolates, perfectly creamy, and melts in your mouth.  It’s completely organic, vegan and free from dairy, gluten, and genetically modified ingredients.  It’s also made with agave nectar rather then sugar which won’t spike your blood sugar (making it friendly to diabetics) since it has the glycemic index of about an apple.  I also noticed it has lower fat and calories than my chocolate from Grenada for a greater portion size. 

I picked up the original kind but they also have bars with almonds, caco nibs, or brown rice.  I’m going online to order a case right now since my one bar won’t make it 24 hours in my house.  I highly recommend you try it out and let me know what you think!

PS. Stay tuned for a recipe I’ll be posting for an easy homemade chocolate treat!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Chips

Homemade apple chips - No dehydrator required!

What are you to do if you have pounds and pounds of apples from going apple picking this fall? If you've tried giving them away (which I don't recommend doing to trick-or-treaters), eaten multiple a day (my max has been three in one day), and given everyone in your neighborhood an apple pie that you baked; apple chips are a great way to cut down your apple inventory pretty quickly.  While they might take a while in the oven, which can be decreased by how thin you slice them, plan a time where you'll be home for a few hours and getting things done around the house.  It's a set it and forget it recipe so pop them in and get laundry done, clean, watch Dancing with the Stars, or make another batch of Silvers Power balls. Trust me, they're worth it! And they won't last long!

Need:
Apples (any kind and any amount will do) I was able to fit two Granny Smith Apples on two baking sheets. If your oven can fit more baking sheets, by all means use more apples.
Cinnamon   This is optional and I didn't use any when I made mine

Do:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees
Slice apples as thinly as possible (the sharper the knife the better or use a mandolin if you have one)
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange apples on top in a single layer.
Sprinkle cinnamon if using.  Bake for 1.5 hours, flip slices and continue baking until completely dry and crisp (Timing will vary depending on moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices). Let cool and enjoy!

Photo taken via Jess's iPhone and recipe adapted from WholeFoods

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Green Looks Good On You.


This recipe is near and dear to my heart (and stomach!).  Adapted from Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet, it was one of the first that I tried making when I was starting to make changes in my diet to be healthier.  I had never cooked collard greens before and when I picked them up the first time at the grocery store I was a bit scared as they were as thick as leather. Much to my surprise, I loved them.

This recipe is a great easy way to sneak greens into your diet the yummy way.

Collard Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Serves 2 or 3


Need:
1 bunch collard greens
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 


Do:
Wash the collard greens leaving some water left on the leaves.  Cut the central spine and stem out of each collard green. (The spine and stems are full of minerals so we want to use them, but take a little bit longer to cook then the leaves, hence the separation)  Separate them.  Chop up the leaves and the spine and stem and keep them separate. 


Toast pine nuts, shaking the pan often, over medium heat in a dry skillet for about 5 min or until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside.


Place oil and garlic in the skillet and saute until garlic is fragrant.  Add the spine and stems of the collards first. Cover and cook for 1 minute.  Add the leaves, cover and cook for another minute. Add raisins and pine nuts, stir, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.  Enjoy!

Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fill Up My Cup!

Did you know you can go about a month without food but only about a day without water? With so many hydration alternatives out there (coffee, soda, iced tea, crystal light, gatorade, vitamin water, etc) good old H2O often takes a back seat.  I'll admit it, sometimes water can be bland and just plain old boring compared to a chilled flavored drink.

Try adding a slice of lemon in your water bottle to keep things interesting. I've left the grocery store numerous times recently without lemons since organic ones aren't in stock so I grabbed a bag of organic limes and have been LOVING a few slices in my water.  Both lemon and lime balance the pH level of the body, curb cravings, and relieve respiratory systems (hello asthma and allergy victims!).

And get the real deal - not the stuff in the plastic fruit bottles.