Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Italian Sausage & Potato Soup (gluten-free, paleo-friendly, whole 30-friendly)

I love making soup. 

Maybe it's something about the stirring, simmering, and anticipation of flavors to come. Or maybe it is also because I know whenever I make soup, I get leftovers. And right now, I'm all about quick, easy meals that are healthy and nourishing!

Last week, I was craving a soup made with some good ole organic white potatoes, which I had just bought. Once I remembered I had some spicy Italian sausage to use up, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Spicy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup. 

This soup turned out more flavorful than I could have imagined! It's got some spice to it along with a rich tomato broth. I had a few bowls last week, and stored the rest of way for this week, knowing I'd be busy being back in school. Lets just say, I cannot wait to reheat some tomorrow night before I work!

A key component of this soup is the Italian sausage used, as it gives some extra spice. However, if you aren't passionate about pork like I am, you could also use ground turkey or chicken. 

Spicy Italian Sausage & Potato Soup (gluten-free, paleo, whole-30 friendly)

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 entire bulb garlic, chopped finely
1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
1 can tomato paste (mine was 6 ounces)
2 to 3 Italian sausages
2 teaspoons oregano 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1.5 teaspoons basil 
A few sprinkles of red hot chili flakes (optional, this will make it spicy)
2 carrots, sliced
3 medium Russet potatoes, chopped (I left skins on - good fiber)
2 big handfuls kale, spinach, or your green of choice
4 cups chicken or beef broth
2 bay leafs

1. In a soup pan, heat the olive oil and garlic for 4 minutes; let that garlic sweat it out! Then, add in the chopped onions and sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the onions become translucent (about 5 minutes). 

2. Add in the tomato paste, Italian sausages, and all the spices. Stir for 5 or so minutes. 

3. Then, add in the vegetables and broth. Place two bay leaves in the soup. Put a lid on the pan and bring the soup to a boil. Then, simmer for 25 minutes, or until potato chunks can easily be pierced through. 

4. Serve immediately. Warm your tummy and your soul.

*To freeze, I recommend using plastic baggies that get frozen flat. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

I've had a little more time to myself lately. While I savor every second of my last week of Winter break, I thought I'd reflect on some of my favorite things that have been in my life in the past five weeks. Most involve food - of course. 

Serial podcast: I saved the Serial podcast for my two roundtrip drives to and from San Luis Obispo (SLO) over my break. I gave my dear friend Michelle a ride down to SLO and she initially got me hooked on the series, as she had already listened to all of them. I listened, she re-listened, and by episode 3 I was screaming "What about Don!?" and "I don't like Jay" and "This is so weird." Michelle was a good sport. All in all, this is what I think about the case: Jay is sketchy, Adnan is likable in many instances, and what about Don? As my co-worker said, how convenient that he had his Mom to confirm his alibi. Oh, I just don't know!

This soup from Oh She Glows: This is hands down one of my favorite soup recipes. I always put in whichever vegetables I have on hand and omit the beans (I am not a big bean person). I haven't experimented with freezing it yet because it always gets eaten in two or three days. The "cashew cream" takes it over the top. This picture is horrible but I promise you, this soup is amazing.

Making my own almond milk: Making my own nut milk was something I had convinced myself, for some reason, was going to be ridiculously laborious. I kept telling myself I'd learn how to make my own almond milk on my break. Well, I finally did and it is super easy. Also, unless I am in a real pinch, I am pretty sure I won't be purchasing any store's almond milk. Homemade is just too tasty, and I add lots of spices to mine. It's almost like dessert!

These wonderful movies: My mom, sister, boyfriend, and I all love going to the movies. I still have a few movies from this Winter that I want to see, however, my favorites thus far include Wild, The Imitation Game, Selma, and Unbroken. I cried many ugly tears throughout each of these movies, all of which, were based on true stories. We also saw American Sniper last weekend, which left me speechless. 

Ancestral RD podcasts: I've followed Laura and Kelsey ever since they started contributing on Chris Kresser's site a few years back. They are young, ambitious, really freaking smart Registered Dietitians who practice very holistically. Their immense knowledge inspires me constantly to keep learning. I totally dork out listening to their helpful podcasts. Some of my favorites so far have been about how to become a real food RD, adrenal fatigue, and curing SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). 

This soup: All day, I couldn't stop thinking about a soup with Italian Sausage and white (not sweet!) potatoes. So, after yoga (again, predictable), I whipped up this soup in around an hour. I plan to share the recipe on the blog soon! It's hearty, healthy, and a little spicy. It's gluten-free, paleo and whole 30 friendly, and will warm you right up. I feel so calm creating soup recipes and can't wait to share this one with you.

What are some things making you smile right now?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spicy Stuffed Bell Peppers (Gluten-free, Paleo, Whole 30-friendly)

I think I am going a little nuts being on Winter break...still. I am trying to sleep, slow down, and cherish this freedom, but as someone who is so accustomed to a busy schedule, I am going a little stir crazy. 

However, in my last two weeks of break, I have decided I want to dedicate a little more time to cooking up some new recipes in the kitchen, as once school starts, I have a feeling biochemistry will be taking over my life. So, last night, after a lovely yoga class (I am so predictable), I whipped up a delicious, easy dinner of stuffed bell peppers.  

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I have been doing Whole 30 this month. That probably deserves a blog post on its own, but I created this recipe because I was getting bored with everything else I was eating for dinner. This recipe is easy, makes leftovers, and can use ground turkey, bison, or beef. I picked up most all the ingredients at Trader Joes too!

Spicy Stuffed Bell Peppers 
Gluten-free, Paleo, Whole-30 friendly
Serves 3 

2 to 4 bell peppers, sliced in half and de-seeded (if you use 2, you'll have turkey mixture left over which is delicious! If you use 4, you'll likely use all the turkey mixture)
1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound ground turkey (I like my turkey to not be the 99% fat free version...more fat equals more flavor)
1/2 pack Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning Mix
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium green zucchini, chopped
4 ounce can of green chills (I used hot!)
6 ounces of tomato paste (can omit)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish, place each bell pepper half face down. Put in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes so they become more soft. 

2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes to get that fragrant garlic smell. Add in the chopped onion, zucchini, and sauté for 5 more minutes. Then, add in the ground turkey, chills, tomato paste, and half of the Trader Joes seasoning mix. Cook until the turkey is done. 
*I think half is plenty, but you can add in more at the end if you prefer heavily-spiced flavor.

3. Remove the bell peppers from the oven and turn over. Spoon the turkey mixture into each pepper, packing it down. Place the stuffed peppers back into the oven for 10 more minutes at 400 degrees. 

4. Remove and eat immediately. You can top with your favorite salsa or some avocado slices. These are packed full of flavor!

I hope you try this easy recipe and love it as much as my boyfriend and I did!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

4 Powerful Words That Changed My Life

It was nearly three years ago. I was at Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Squaw Valley for the second year in a row, with my amazing friend Katie. Katie is a special soul, and she doesn't really know this, but I pretty much attribute me finding my love of yoga to her.  

I was taking a yoga class called "Threesome." I know. I know. This class was a Vinyasa flow class taught by three San Francisco-based instructors: Mark Morford, Pete Guinosso, and Pradeep Teotia. Though I usually try not to take San Francisco instructors while at Wanderlust, I opted to take this class because I had heard amazing things from fellow trusted yogis about Pete and Pradeep, and I use to read Mark's San Francisco Chronicle column when I first moved to San Francisco. And then there was the name of the class. Well, that just flat out intrigued me.

These three guys approached the class with a sense of humor and friendship, but also, passion and respect for the practice. Each instructor taught a third of the class and though I don't remember the order necessarily, I do remember this -

At some point during the flow, Pradeep challenged us to push ourselves. And then, he simply said, "If not now, when?"

If not now, when.

If not now, when?

If, not now. When?

These words have been said before. I am sure of that. They may not seem profound. But for some reason, three years later, they have stuck with me like almond butter and oatmeal sticks to your insides on a cold morning, keeping you warm and full. 

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions - I just never really have. I've thought about a few things I want to make happen this year, including seeing my Mom and Sister more often, spending more time with my boyfriend's family, and continuing to do my best in school (while staying mentally and spiritually sane). But, I don't really consider these resolutions. I do think it is wonderful that many people look to the new year as a chance to reflect, re-evaluate, and re-dedicate themselves to making positive changes in their lives. 

For the past six years, I felt as though I was trapped in my pharmaceutical advertising job, a job that provided me financial security, wonderful co-workers, and a ladder to climb over time. It also left me feeling completely unsatisfied, professionally, morally, and mentally. And many times, I felt guilty for feeling this way because I knew I was so lucky to have such a stable job. I first considered going back to school to pursue my passion nearly five years ago, when I met with the department head of my current university, and mapped out a plan for how to become an RD. I felt overwhelmed, scared, and I talked myself out of said plan a few weeks later. 

My passion for nutrition and healthy living did not dissipate over these years, rather, it became more apparent. So, when I heard Pradeep say these words, about three years ago, they almost paralyzed me. I remember, so vividly, stopping and just repeating what he said over and over again. 

It took me a few years to get over the various fears that prevented me from pursuing my education and career. But I just kept thinking, if not now, when? And eventually, I succumbed to it. It clicked. 

So maybe you have some goals or resolutions for this year. Or maybe you've already given up on something you wanted to do this year. If it is really important to you, whatever it is,  whoever it is, just ask yourself, if not now, when? It may take a few days, months, weeks, heck, even years, but I hope you can make it happen. 

There is some urgency, right? This life is precious and unpredictable.

If not now, when?