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The Cavemen Dieted, and So Shall We

Food for thought encourages readers to step out of their comfort zone. As a fierce lover of cheese and carbs, I left my comfort zone when I pledged to go paleo for a week.

The paleo diet is nicknamed caveman diet because you can only eat what cavemen had access to. That means no grains, dairy, beans, refined sweets, or processed foods. I’ve hunted and gathered three paleo recipes that take less than an hour to create.

Recipe #1: Two-ingredient paleo pancakes. 10 minutes.

Bananas and eggs are the two necessary ingredients, but I added chopped walnuts and used coconut oil. These are gluten-free, flourless and only 49 calories. Fans of banana bread will be thrilled with these pancakes. The chopped nuts gave texture, and the coconut oil added moisture. I enjoyed this breakfast with a fresh mango and bacon, and it held me over way into lunch.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 10.55.53 PMRecipe #2: Sweet potato hash. 30 minutes.

Hands down this was my favorite meal of the week. This bacon, sweet potato and onion hash with eggs baked into it epitomizes savory. The sweet potatoes melted in your mouth. Paired with salty bacon it tasted like I was indulging, not dieting.

Additionally, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The super food also regulates blood sugar and reduces the risk of blood clots.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 10.56.18 PM.pngRecipe #3: Shrimp salad. 20 minutes.

Dinner time is where I usually turn to a comforting bowl of pasta. This time around, I made a hearty salad with bell pepper, red onion, avocado, salad mix, shrimp and a zesty lime dressing.

When I went to cook the shrimp I automatically reached for butter and garlic. Remembering my non-dairy restriction I opted for olive oil and salt and pepper. When my salad was complete I stared proudly at a vibrant masterpiece.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 10.56.06 PM.pngOverall, my stance on paleo (and frankly any diet) is that there are pros and cons.

Pro #1: Filling meals—one benefit is that the diet is rich in proteins and fats, which curbs cravings.

Con #1: Time—planning my meals for the week took hours of researching recipes and putting together a shopping list. If you’re not one to plan ahead, paleo may not be for you.

Pro #2: Cleansing—I went a week without eating additives, hormones, preservatives or any artificial flavors. The result was a happier healthier me.

Con #2: Limiting—while this was doable for my own home, the diet poses too many restrictions to be practical in everyday life. For example, restaurants would likely be hard to order from.

Have any paleo recipes of your own? Share them in the comments.

Dairy-free Dilemma

Up until the age of 10, I was lactose-intolerant, but thankfully, I have grown out of it. Ever since then, you could say that I have ‘made up’ for all the years I did not get to eat dairy.

Here at Food for Thought, we constantly strive to choose the healthier option. While there are various reasons to give up dairy, one of the most common reasons (aside from lactose-intolerance) is to lower one’s saturated fat intake. Knowing how unhealthy excessive dairy can be, especially in the high-fat items like cheese, I decided to give it all up for three days.

After getting some inspiration from Spoon University’s post about being dairy-free, I kept these tips in the back of my mind, and mentally prepared for this dairy-less journey.

While simply meal-prepping for these next three days would have been a much easier process, I did not have this option, because I live on campus and eat through my meal plan. I used this as an opportunity to really explore the dairy-free options for the typical college student eating on campus.

Lunch – For lunch I usually order a deli wrap from the dining hall, with water and a piece of fresh fruit on the side.

  • A typical deli wrap for me includes:  a gluten-free tortilla, turkey meat, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a light smear of mayo.
  • My new dairy-free version:  gluten-free wrap, turkey, no cheese, lettuce, tomato, red pepper hummus (to replace the mayonnaise).

Dinner – For dinner, I had a salad loaded with fresh veggies, and a vinaigrette (not creamy) dressing on the side, for the first two nights. The third night, I ordered the Chicken Avocado Club sandwich.

  • Original Sandwich: Wheat bun, grilled chicken breast, onion slices, bacon strips, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado slices
  • How I ordered it: No bun, grilled chicken breast, onion slices, bacon strips, lettuce, tomato, avocado slices

Main courses were both easy and delicious, but then came the late night study sessions we frequently experience as college students. These are the moments of weakness that cause many of us add in the unnecessary calories.

Instead of grabbing a bag of buttery popcorn, I picked up these sweet potato chips. (Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free)

sweet

Even after that, I knew a run to Starbucks was just what I needed to finish my homework that night. Instead of getting the usual White Chocolate Mocha, I decided to try to the ‘Pink Drink’ from Starbucks’ ~secret menu~.

For those of you who have not heard of the Pink Drink, you can order Starbucks’ Strawberry Acai Refresher, but swap in coconut milk instead of water. This still gave me both the caffeine kick that I needed, and the creamy taste I craved from the coconut milk.

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As an added bonus, the Pink Drink contains less than half of the calories of the White Chocolate Mocha!

  • A grande White Chocolate Mocha (with whipped cream) contains 430 calories, with 41g of sugar.
  • A grande size Pink Drink is approximately 140 calories (90 from the Refresher, about 50 from coconut milk)with 22g of sugar.

Tasteful options like these made avoiding dairy a breeze! While eliminating dairy all together may not be a reality for most people, skipping it every now and then doesn’t hurt!

If you have a favorite dairy-free dish, let us know in the comments below!

Tackling Gluten

 

Hello My Foodie Health Nuts!

So today I embarked on a journey that, for many people, is a lifelong path: going gluten-free. At first glance, this may not seem like a daunting task, however I was unaware of the multitude of gluten-based products I subconsciously consume on a daily basis. I went gluten-free using what I had at hand, rather than buying specialized gluten-free products, to illustrate substitutes that may be right in front of you.

Laid before you is the inside scoop of how I altered my diet for a day, saying no to the proteins in wheat, and yes to an alternative way.

Breakfast:

I thought I’d start the morning off on a high note with a warm bowl of cinnamon oatmeal…  I thought wrong.  See, although oats are considered a naturally gluten-free grain, they are grown, transported, and processed in a manner that is likely contaminated with wheat.

So, I moved on to my next thought: cereal.

But what cereal is gluten free? The first ingredient in most cereals involves wheat… and wheat leads to gluten.  However, I discovered a very popular brand of cereal is gluten-free: Cheerios! According to General Mill’s blog, Cheerios (Apple Cinnamon, Frosted, Original, Honey Nut, Multi Grain), are all made and processed using a mechanical sorting process that removes wheat and barley from the oats.

Gluten-free breakfest option! Go Cheerios! #cheerios #gluten-free #food4thought

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Lunch:

I thought I’d redeem myself with lunch, only to find myself in an even bigger hole than before. My typical lunch consists of a salad with marinated chicken and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Surprisingly, most dressings contain gluten as a thickening agent, so as a substitute to typical dressings, I whisked together extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Now what’s glutinous about marinated chicken?  Well, most marinade sauces that are used to coat meat, in my case soy sauce, are traditionally made with wheat. Despite having the word “soy” in its title, almost all soy sauces contains wheat (I know, false advertising right?).  To tackle this set back, I pulled out my extra virgin olive oil again, and this time combined it with garlic and onion, to create a healthy gluten-free marinade.

No soy sauce, no problem. Stay gluten-free by making marinades with garlic rather than soy sauce!

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Dinner:

My normal menu for dinner is whole wheat pasta and vegetables.  Although I’m smooth sailing with the vegetables, pasta contains gluten. So instead of pasta, I went to her step-sisters, rice and quinoa. Plain rice and quinoa in all forms (white, brown, etc.) is gluten-free, so saying goodbye to pasta was never done so easily.

Forget pasta! Switch to rice or quinoa to stay gluten-free for you lunches and dinners! #food4thought #quinoa #rice

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And there you have it!  A healthy and delicious day, in an easy gluten-free way!

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Vegan victories

I stare anxiously at the melted strings laying elegantly on the plate before me, picturing its gooey and buttery texture bouncing against my taste buds. I imagine devouring the beautiful grilled cheese, bite by bite allowing the warm cheddar to drip from my lips as I wonder — how could I possibly survive a full week without you?

Here at Food For Thought we were inspired by My Vegan Story and took on a challenge to jump on the latest trend and go completely vegan for a week. We’re here to share our experiences: the ups, the downs, the struggles and of course, how we overcame the absurd cravings.

Studies have found that cheese is one of the most addictive foods — explaining why it hasn’t escaped my mind since giving it up last Sunday.

In attempt to overcome my cheese cravings I tried the cheese alternative, Dr. Cow Tree nut “cheese,” I discovered on a popular vegan blog. It was tasty but didn’t have the same effect of traditional and irreplaceable cheese.

My number one tip is to avoid the substitutes and stick to fresh produce, you’ll get more out of the whole experience and won’t be let down by the not-as-good replacements. Stick to the naturally-vegan options such as: fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Choosing fresh over processed will help achieve your health goals and make progress towards a sustainable you.

My second tip is to meal prep. The vegan journey is impossible to conquer without adequate preparation. Before embarking on your journey head to the grocery and plan out each and every meal. Make sure to make up for your lack of proteins by stacking up on nuts, beans and tofu. It’ll make your journey a lot easier if you can open up the fridge and have some delicious carrots and hummus to snack on rather than dwelling on your lack of animal products.

The journey to veganism is no walk in park. It requires a lot of time, effort and obedience but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. It takes time to reach this goal but once again, take everything step by step and enjoy the journey. Try to live a plant-based life for week — indulge in the ooey gooey grilled cheese — then jump back into the lifestyle.

Veganism isn’t only healthy but it saves the environment and the animals. Cheers to being healthy, going green and having a big heart.

XOXO,

Food for Thought.

p.s. – feel free to comment any suggestions for trends you want to see us try — we’re always up for the challenge.

Kiss That Crust Goodbye

Your eyes meet from across the room. An intoxicating smell wafts under your nose and draws you in for a taste. You lick your lips and fall weak at the knees as you think to yourself, what a total babe.

Pizza. That’s right. The man of our dreams can easily fall second string to pizza the moment you and your first cheesy bite lock lips.

Well ladies—today I am kissing pizza crust goodbye and creating a cauliflower crust alternative. With this recipe, we can start a healthy relationship with our pizzas.

The Daily News in 2014 predicted cauliflower would be the “kale of 2015”. Cauliflower has built a reputation for its versatility to be used instead of potatoes, steak, even pizza crust.

Cauliflower is a healthy alternative packed with vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and manganese. These vitamins boost your metabolism and strengthen your immune system.

Cauliflower also cuts calories. One pound of cauliflower has 113 calories whereas one pound of pizza dough has 1,164 calories.

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 7.22.08 PM.png
From fatsecret.com
Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 7.26.06 PM.png
From recipes.sparkpeople.com

I researched 30 different cauliflower crust recipes all claiming to be the best to decipher how I would make this crust. Shopping list in one hand and cart in the other, I tackled the aisles of Walmart to buy ingredients not already in my kitchen.

For the crust:

  • 1 bag of chopped cauliflower (equivalent to a medium sized head)
  • 1 bag of Kraft shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 garlic glove
  • 1 carton of eggs

For the toppings:

  • 1 can tomato basil pizza sauce
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 zucchini

I decided to go with a roasted veggie pizza like this one, but feel free to experiment with different toppings.

To start, I took my pre-chopped bag of cauliflower and followed package instructions for steaming it in the microwave.

One step every recipe I researched had in common was to squeeze the liquid out of your cooked cauliflower. This step is crucial for getting a crispy crust.

In a large bowl I added 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, one egg, and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

After combining those ingredients I added 1 teaspoon of dried basil leaves, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder.

I prepared a pan with parchment paper and a little olive oil before placing the mixture on top of it. Make sure to leave the crust about a centimeter thick.

Cook the crust in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Once your crust is cooked assemble your pizza. For this veggie pizza, I used four tablespoons of tomato sauce, one cup of mozzarella cheese, and piled my chopped veggies on top.

Place the pizza back into the oven for ten minutes or until the cheese is melting and your vibrant low-calorie dish is ready to go.

For the taste test, I held my breath. Could this pizza crust replace one I had loved for so long? Eyes closed and open-mouthed I bit into something that exceeded all my expectations. This pizza was delicious!

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I asked my roommate to come take a bite. “WOW!” She exclaimed.

The crust is packed with flavor. And the personal pie was so filling I did not reach for a second slice.

Overall this recipe took one hour to make, including preparation and clean up. I have officially fallen in love with a new kind of pizza; one that is healthy, filling, and aromatic.

And the text from my roommate asking me to make it again shows me that I’m not the only one.