A super simple and delicious peanut sauce you can make in less than 5 minutes

Do you secretly {or not so secretly} have a slight love affair with peanut butter?  I will find any and every way to have some just about every day. It’s the absolute cherry on top if I get it with a little dark chocolate too..but hey, I won’t be too picky 😉

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard that learning the art of  clean eating was the one thing that finally worked to help me lose weight for my wedding and has been pretty much the way we have eaten every since. Learning how to eat, changed my life. This was the first big step in getting off the yo-yo diet rollercoaster.

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Photo credit: Alexandra Andersson

Sauces and dressings I came to quickly learn are some of the easiest places to cut the crap aka chemicals, additives, and preservatives as well as the sugar content and overall calories.

I came across this peanut sauce recipe in a magazine I used to subscribe to, and it is seriously so simple, goes good with everything from stir fry to Thai, and takes less than 5 minutes to make. Count me in!

Forgive me, if you are someone that likes exact measurements as I am not the best at measuring things (maybe that is why I don’t do a whole lot of baking 😉 )

But here is my best guess at what you will need to make a single serving..If you need or want more just double or triple the recipe. And as always feel free  to play around with the ratios a bit!

1 T. Peanut Butter or nut/seed butter of your choice

2 T soy sauce/ coconut aminos (if you are gluten free or trying to limit your soy intake, use the coconut aminos)

1 T  Sweet garlic chili sauce

Sriracha to taste if you like a little heat

Add all of the above ingredients to a small bowl if you want to eat it chilled or to a sauce pan if you want to heat it up a bit. Heating it up slightly  will help the consistency and make it spread easier especially if you are using natural peanut butter. Mix all the ingredients until blended, top your fave dish with it, and let me know how much you love it!

 

Do you have a favorite recipe? Sharing is caring, drop a link in the comments below..

 

Cheers to you and peanut butter,

 

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

 

 

Power smoothies

Summer seems to be in full swing here with hot days and balmy nights. In the summer time my appetite seems to go way down and very few things actually sound good to me. Some of my staples include: coffee on ice (of course 😉 ) , big ol’ salads, chips, salsa & guacamole (another no brainer), and some cool beverages in the form of rosé or bourbon mule. Another favorite at our house just about year round are smoothies. I love smoothies because you can get a whole meals worth of nutrients packed into a single glass. Plus the ice cold consistency is a treat on a hot day…

Now because it is liquid it will fill you up pretty quick, but can also have a tendency to leave you hungry a short while after you sip the last sip. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way and I wanted to share some of them with you today.. brooke-lark-186926-unsplash.jpg

Get all your macros..

One of the best ways to ensure you stay full for a few hours is to balance it out. I’m not huge on counting macros, but I am a big fan of making sure at just about each meal I’ve got some protein, healthy fats, and carbs. My smoothies or power shakes are no different. For your protein you can either use your favorite protein powder or you can get your protein from things like yogurt, nuts/nut butters, milk, etc. For some of my favorite fats check out the section below. Your carbs can come from your fruit added in, any dairy you add in. You can also add a 1/4 c of dry oats per serving if you want to make it more of a meal or if you know it will be a while before you eat again.

Drink your veggies..

Another tip is to pack as many veggies in as you can handle. Some of my favorites are beets and greens. You can buy pre cooked beets or you can roast them up ahead of time. If you buy greens for your smoothies and notice they go bad before you can use them up, try storing them in your freezer. You can also play around and try adding in some different herbs or veggies to see what you like and what you don’t like. One of the advantages of smoothies over juicing is that you keep the fiber which helps stabilize your blood sugar and helps with the full feeling. So if you’ve juiced in the past or are thinking about it, try adding those same ingredients into your smoothie instead.

What should I mix it with?

Depending on your current goals and how many calories you’re aiming for each day you can play around with the bases a bit. Some of my favorites are cold coffee, water, and plain milk. You can try coconut water for extra hydration or milk substitutes.

Sweeten it up a bit..

Part of what makes the smoothie so good is the fruit you add to it. I usually keep it pretty simple with bananas or frozen berries. However, sometimes I like to go tropical and add in some mango or pineapple. The best part is you get to decide what you wanna add. Smoothies are also a great place to experiment because the flavors can be masked a bit. It’s great to add variety to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function at its best. And it just keeps things exciting, who doesn’t want that?

Don’t forget your fats..

Fat is no longer a bad word. In fact there has been so much research done lately that supports our need for healthy fats in our diets. Some of my go-to’s are avocados, nuts or nut butters, and seeds like chia or ground flax seeds.

A few last tips..

If time is of the essence on those crazy mornings, you can make up some smoothie bags ahead of time and store them in your freezer until you are ready to use them up. This will shave off a little time in the morning routine and will ensure you’re getting the right amount.

I know there are so many places that sell smoothies/shakes these days and sometimes they can be a good option if you’re on the go. I would however, just caution you to look at the sugar content and the ingredients. Sometimes “healthy” foods are simply a glorified junk food which is ok on occasion. Keep those goals in mind and ask yourself if it is a worthwhile trade or not. Ultimately you know what works for you and what doesn’t, remember you are the expert of your own body–just be informed.

What are some of your favorite smoothie/shake combos? Comment below and let me know! I’ll be sharing some of my favorites that are perfect for this time of year.

Until next time,

Alisha

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day can be Taco Tuesday with this easy one skillet meal

I’ve been rocking my single mom status this week while my hubby is out of town for a work conference. One week may seem like a long time (and at one point it was for us too), but being a military family we have gotten used to long stretches of being split up whether for training camps or deployments. Regardless of how long he’s gone, I am a big fan of easy and quick meals that my kids don’t fuss over.

I was scrolling Pinterest last week as I normally do to get new dinner ideas and came across a super simple one skillet dinner that was healthy and delicious. Plus, it took less than 25 minutes from start to finish.. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it and let me know how you change it up, because there are literally thousands of ways this dish could be made!

 

What you need:
1 lb ground turkey ( I used 99%lean, you could use chicken or beef too)
1/2 white onion
3/4 c salsa (Costco is my favorite one)
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/3 c shredded cheese
Cumin
Chili powder
Sea salt
Garlic powder
1 can rinsed and drained kidney, black, or pinto beans (no salt added)
And your toppings of choice

To make:
Sauté onions until cooked (about 3 min)
Add ground meat cook, breaking apart and season with spices
Add salsa and cheese
Cook until meat is done and warmed through
Cut up tortilla into strips and add it into the mix (optional)

Serve with lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and green onion or any other toppings you typically like on your tacos 🌮🥑

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This beet and goat cheese salad is to die for..

Wine in the mail? A few years back I had signed up for one of those monthly wine clubs where they sent you new bottles each month to try out, and one of the extra perks was that you got recipes to go with each bottle of wine. This was an amazing service and is definitely something I would recommend if wine is your jam and you’re also on a budget. Hosting your own happy hour or wine tasting is so much fun and is likely more affordable than hitting the local spots.

Anyway, one of the recipes that came was a beet and pistachio salad. At the time beets were not a regular ingredient in my weekly meal prep as I hadn’t had too many pleasant experiences with them. But I am all about adventure and stepping out of your comfort zone, so I decided to give this salad a try, and as you guessed it by the title of this blog post a version of this salad has become one of my favorites.

I shared a picture of my hubby’s birthday dinner a couple days ago on my social media and had so many requests for the recipe I wanted to share it here too. 28055983_1633104806726074_2528223352529088391_n

Ingredients:

Mixed salad greens (about 1-2 cups/person)

3 large beets (golden or red will work)

1/2 c shelled pistachios (roasted)

Goat cheese

Dressing:

1 T Red wine vinegar

3-4 T Olive Oil

1 tsp stone ground mustard

1-2 garlic cloves pressed or diced finely

pinch of sea salt

(you can play around with the measurements until you get it to your liking, my hubby isn’t too fond of vinegar/mustard so I go easy on it )

 

To make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. cut the stems from the beets and wrap in foil, place in the oven
  3. roast beets until done and easily pierced with a fork or knife about 45-60 min
  4. shell and roast your pistachios for about 5 minutes until you can see a little oil release. Remove from heat so they can cool.
  5. rinse your greens and add them to a large bowl, set aside.
  6. while beets are roasting, prepare the dressing and set aside. I like to use a small mason jar, add all the ingredients, seal the lid, and shake until it is combined.
  7. When the beets are cooked through, let them cool, peel them, and cut into small wedges and add to the greens.
  8. Chop the pistachios, add to the salad.
  9. Finally top with goat cheese and a little dressing.

What to cook when you’re feeding picky eaters

I remember when I first started my clean eating journey over ten years ago it was hard enough to make some necessary changes in my and my husband’s life when it came to our nutrition and healthy habits let alone even thinking about what and how we would feed our kids healthy food without a ton of resistance. I’ll admit maybe I had a slight edge in the fact that I had already changed a lot of my habits around food before having my daughter. I was already swapping  healthy{ier} ingredients into some of our go to recipes. And the kind of food I would keep in the house had changed so much from the food that I grew up eating.

However, since I like cooking and like to pretend I’m a foodie on the Food Network there were of course things I would make or try to get my kids to eat and they weren’t having any of that. For the record, regardless of whether or not your kids came out of the womb munching on kale or other superfoods or not, you CAN always change their habits. If we can do it as adults, then so can our kids. The hardest part honestly is probably just sticking to your guns and not giving in or giving up when your kid refuses to eat what you have made.

One of the things that has really  helped is creating an arsenal of kid friendly dinner ideas that are easy enough that your kids can get involved with too. I know that life is crazy with kids– whether it is play dates or after school activities it seems like our schedules are jam packed. So easy and quick recipes are always welcome!

Besides, when you involve your kids in the  meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking you are teaching them how to eat, rather than just feeding them. You know it’s that whole analogy of teaching a man to fish vs just giving him a fish. Because whether you’re ready to see your kids leave the nest or not, they will one day, and I know that you want to see them fully capable and able to take care of themselves. Does it sometimes take more time having them in the kitchen? You bet. Does it sometimes get a little messier? Yes! But it can also be such a great time to bond with your kids.

Some of my family’s go tos are: tacos, spaghetti, breakfast foods, or hamburgers. The good news is that these can all be tweaked to be healthier for them and for you. And if you are wanting to watch your weight a little simply focusing on your portion sizes and cleaning the recipes up just a bit can go a long way in your efforts.

Not quite sure what kinds of swaps or upgrades you can make to make these healthier how to.pngwithout adding difficulty…I’ve got you! Here are a few of my ideas:

Tacos:

  • swap high fat ground beef for leaner beef, venison, elk, or ground turkey/chicken
  • make your own taco seasoning with cumin, ground chili powder, salt, pepper, dehydrated garlic
  • opt for black beans over refried beans
  • make it a taco salad with a few tortilla chips on top to get more veggies in

Spaghetti:

  • whole grain noodles over white noodles
  • boost the veggie content with greens, canned tomatoes, shredded carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms
  • sub noodles for spaghetti squash

Breakfasts:

  • incorporate protein, veggies, and fruit if you can
  • sub chicken sausage over pork sausage
  • can use a blend of egg whites and whole eggs (the yolk is where the bulk of the nutrients are)

Hamburgers:

  • go for ground turkey or chicken or lean ground beef
  • skip the bun
  • serve with home made fries instead of chips

 

Since I’ve made it a personal mission to not get stuck in a rut, making the same things week after week, I’ve started using Pinterest more (and actually making the things I’ve pinned). Last night we made this and it was a winner! It really is just a spin on a quiche, and is super versatile.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Kodiak Cake Protein Mix (we get ours at Costco)

4 T butter cut into the Kodiak Cake mix

1/2 cup ice water added slowly

2 eggs per person (we used 8 total)

Cooked and chopped bacon (could sub chicken sausage or Canadian Bacon)

Any veggies you have on hand (onions, bell peppers, broccoli, garlic)

Cheese of choice shredded

To make it:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add the Kodiak cake mix to a bowl and cut the butter in until it makes small crumbs, then slowly add in the water. Mix until dough forms and then lay it out between two pieces of wax or parchment paper. Then roll it out to make a crust. Pinch the ends to make a well/crust to prevent eggs from running off. Place it on a cookie sheet (on parchment paper for easy clean up). Then crack the eggs on the dough, top with bacon and veggies and the shredded cheese. Cook for 10-12 minutes until dough and egg whites are done. Then cut it up dividing it among different plates and serve.

*This can be used for breakfast or like us for dinner. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did, it will certainly make its way into the rotation. And of course as always if you have any questions or requests for things you want to see more of drop me an email at findyourthrive@gmail.com or leave it in the comments!

Cheers to creating healthy habits for you AND your sweet family!

XO Alisha

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Healthy Chicken Alfredo

 

When I started my clean eating journey I remember there were a few foods I was going to be very sad to see go (at least on a regular basis), and Alfredo sauce was definitely one of them. Since I am always on the mission to satisfy my inner foodie and experiment with healthy swaps for my recipes, you can imagine my joy when I found this recipe.

Cauliflower seems to be such a hot ingredient these days. I love how  versatile it is as an ingredient, and it seems that you can use cauliflower as a substitute in so many recipes  (including pizza crust). For this particular recipe, the combination of cheese,  cauliflower, spices, and milk gave this sauce all the high notes without any of the guilt or bloating that might come from eating the real thing.

And because I am always looking to boost the veggie content of most meals, I served it alongside some steamed broccoli.

What you will need:

  • 8 oz . dry whole grain fettuccine
  • 3 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
  • 1 medium cauliflower , chopped (about 1½ pounds) or one 16 oz bag of cauliflower rice (this is what I used)
  • 2 tsp . olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg or all spice
  • Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or regular milk
  • ½-3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp . chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish; optional)
  • 1 pound chicken breast grilled
  • 1 pound of broccoli floretsHealthy

Here’s how:

  1. Cook fettuccine according to directions on package.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower. Reduce heat; cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft.
  3. While cauliflower cooks, heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until garlic is soft.
  5. Place cauliflower + vegetable broth in blender (or food processor) with garlic and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Blend in two or more batches if necessary; cover with lid and kitchen towel. Blend until very smooth.
  6. Heat cauliflower mixture in same medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  7. Add  milk; cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes. Consistency should be that of a thick soup. (Meanwhile, steam broccoli)
  8. Add fettuccine; mix well.
  9. Divide fettuccine evenly between four bowls. Top evenly with cheese and parsley (if desired); serve immediately.
  10. Grill chicken until it is cooked through, slice and serve with fettuccine.