Eat Like a Greek, Feel Like a God!

Practical Nutrition would like to introduce Joe Stapleton! 

Hey there everyone! My name is Joe Stapleton. I’ve been working with Practical Nutrition for a couple of weeks now and am exited to be able to contribute my first blog post! So to keep things official, I’ll start with a little about me: I’m a Master’s Student and RD to be (both to be completed in June, yippee!) with a B.S. in Nutritional Science. I’m also a NSCA certified personal trainer and love absolutely everything about health and wellness! My love of nutrition and fitness spawned from my own personal experiences in the Marine Corps, in which I learned through the rigors of military life (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level, because you never know just what life is going throw at you!

Enough about me though. Without further ado, here is some information that will hopefully help YOUR journey top optimal health  and wellness…enjoy!

One of the diets generating a lot of buzz around both the scientific and the foodie communities lately is the Mediterranean diet. Don’t let the word diet fool you though, this is no fad. The Mediterranean diet sprang from the observation that mimicking the typical diet consumed in the Mediterranean area led to a reduction in incidence of heart disease and obesity, despite the macros of the diet being high in fat and accepting of moderate alcohol (red wine in particular). Essentially, the diet consists of eating mostly plant-based foods, with the majority of grains being whole. While high in fat, the fat comes mostly from oils and nuts. Fish and poultry are emphasized over red meat, and herbs and spices are used much more significantly to flavor dishes rather than salt. The ‘Mediterranean diet Pyramid’ is shown below to give a visual representation of the relative proportions.

Mediterranean diet pyramid

The one thing about this diet that we would tweak here at Practical Nutrition though would be the significance of protein. As longtime readers/clients already know, over here at Practical Nutrition we like to skew our intake a little more in the direction of lean, organically sourced (if possible) protein. Increasing the proportion of lean protein in the diet has shown benefits for the athletic population (more efficient muscle recovery), the elderly (staving off sarcopenia and bone loss), and those looking to lose or maintain their weight (through extending the period of satiety before feeling hungry again). So we love the idea of the Mediterranean diet, and the data looks great regarding its effect on many chronic diseases, but don’t forget to keep up your intake of lean protein! 

So to celebrate this fantastically simple way of looking our food, today we’re providing a recipe for a delicious chicken, green bean, corn, and farro salad with goat cheese. With the relative proportions of ingredients, the use of the ancient Tuscan grain farro, and the inclusion of goat cheese, this makes for a decidedly Mediterranean dish. Just a little aside on farro by the way: this grain reportedly was what kept the Roman Legion’s bellies full during their long marches whilst conquering southern Europe (Spartan Race fuel, anyone?), is quick to cook, and each serving provides both 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, wow! It is wheat derived, but has decidedly less gluten than other wheat products, so those that are gluten conscious shouldn’t worry (for those readers that are gluten-free or Celiac, simply swap out the farro in the recipe for brown rice, still delicious!).

Enjoy!

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/dinner
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup semi-pearled farro
  • 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 12 oz green beans, cut into 1½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups yellow corn kernals
  • ¾ cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Boil farro in a medium saucepan until just tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in skillet until golden brown, roughly 8 minutes each side. Allow to cool and cut into ¾ inch cubes.
  3. Cook green beans in a saucepan of boiling water until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse.
  4. Mix chicken, farro, and green beans in a large bowl. Add corn and green onions.,
  5. Combine 2 tbsp oil, marjoram, and sea salt in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad, toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle with goat cheese just prior to serving. (this recipe is great chilled or room temperature!)
  7. To really capture that Mediterranean vibe, serve with red wine. Cheers!

 

Red Curry Meatballs (Crockpot)

Tonight I will be hosting a holiday potluck at Talcott Family Chiropractic at 6:45pm. Everyone is welcome to join and bring a healthy, tasty dish. We have some people bringing dishes like beef stew, organic salad, and apple crisp to name a few. We will be talking about how to stay healthy during the holidays and sharing good food. I made these delicious Red Curry Meatballs. They are very low maintenance but absolutely delightful.

Holiday Potluck at Talcott Family Chiropractic

Location: 230 Farmington Ave Farmington, CT 06032

Time: 6:45pm-7:45pm

Everyone is welcome!

Red Curry Meatballs (Crockpot)
 
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Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Ingredients
  • For the Meatballs:
  • 3lb Organic Grassfed Beef
  • 2 tbsp Ground Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 large Organic Egg
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • Sea Salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 6oz can Organic Tomato Paste
  • 1 14oz can Coconut Milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Curry Powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add all ingredients for the sauce. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl (except for the meat) and mix well. Add in your ground beef and mix with your hands until fully incorporated.
  3. Form the meat mixture into small meatballs and place inside a crockpot.
  4. Pour sauce on top of meatballs and cook on low for 8 hours.

 

“Party Perfect” Hemp Hummus

It’s getting to be that time of year where you’re asked to “bring something” to a get together. Whenever I’m asked this question, I always make sure that it’s something that will be a “safety” food for me- meaning that if there aren’t a lot of other healthy options at the party, I know I can eat what I bring. This hemp hummus is huge hit at parties and get togethers. The hemp seeds add some Omega 3’s, provides fiber and healthy fat to reduce sugar cravings, and adds a delicious nutty flavor to the hummus. We love this hummus because of it’s unique flavor profile, simple instructions, and health promoting ingredients. Check out the recipe below- and be sure to make some extra because this tasty, fiber packed snack keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days!

To learn more about hemp seeds, click here! 

 

"Party Perfect" Hemp Hummus
 
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Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ Cup Garbanzo Beans
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ⅓ and 3 Tbsp Cup Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp oregano
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into the food processor or blender and process/blend at high speed until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached.
  2. Add more lemon juice or tahini if hummus is not combining well. Add more garlic and sea salt to taste.
  3. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve with fresh sliced veggies, whole grain or rice crackers, or use as a spread in a wrap or sandwich.
Notes
PN Rx= .5 protein, 1 fat and .5 carb per serving

Red Pumpkin Curry

I saw some recipes for a red thai curry that I have made before and then decided to combine two of my favorite things: curry and pumpkin. Because why not?! It’s getting a little cooler out and I have found that soups are extremely convenient for quick meals. They are a great way to switch it up from salads. I heat up the soup on the stove then add in shredded chicken that I make at the beginning of every week and veggies. My favorite veggies to add to curries/soups are kale and shaved brussel sprouts. They give it great texture and are packed with important vitamins and minerals. This recipe is the perfect amount of spicy and sweet. Enjoy!

 

Red Pumpkin Curry
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 7-8
Ingredients
  • 1 can Trader Joe's Light Coconut Milk
  • 4 cups Organic Chicken Broth
  • 2 tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 2 tbsp Roasted Curry Powder
  • ½ tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • ½ tbsp Ginger
  • ½ tbsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Roasted Pumpkin or 1½ cup Organic Pumpkin Puree
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add in coconut milk, broth and curry paste. Mix until paste is completely incorporated.
  2. Add in all of your spices now then your fish sauce, garlic and onion.
  3. Add in the roasted pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Now get out your blender and pour the mixture in there in a few batches. Puree everything so you get a nice smooth texture.
  5. Once you have pureed your soup now is the perfect time to add in some leftover protein (chicken, ground beef, white fish) and veggies.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 70 Fat: 3 Carbohydrates: 9 Protein: 2

Baked White Wine Sea Bass

seabass

 

I often find myself making the same types of meals all of the time because it is easy, but it’s fun to switch it up every couple of weeks. I bought Wild Caught Sea Bass at BJ’s a few weeks ago and finally decided to cook it. I had never eaten sea bass before so I wasn’t exactly sure how to prepare it but I looked around online and combined a few different recipes. I think it came out really good and was a nice way to change things up. The sea bass can be replaced with any white fish you want. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new foods! I paired mine with some wild rice and brussel sprouts.Enjoy this simple and easy recipe!

 

Baked White Wine Sea Bass
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 10-12oz Wild Caught Sea Bass
  • ⅓ cup White Wine
  • 1 Garlic Clove, crushed and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Fresh Cilantro
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place fish in glass baking dish. Cover with white wine, garlic, salt and pepper. OPTIONAL: Let marinate in fridge for 25 minutes.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and bake for another 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillet.
  4. When fish is done cooking cover with fresh cilantro.
Notes
PN Rx:
3oz serving= 1 protein

Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs

Does anyone have zucchini or summer squash overflowing in their garden? This recipe is a great way to use a lot of it! To julienne the squash or zucchini use a julienne peeler. I also included a really basic sauce recipe because I did not have any tomato sauce but I did have tomato paste so I made my own. It actually came out amazing! It had a lot of flavor and was really easy. I definitely recommend making it if you have a few minutes while the meatballs are cooking.  I had this for lunch for about 3 days and did not get sick of it. It is absolutely delicious, enjoy!

 

meatball

 

Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Ingredients
  • Meatballs:
  • 2lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup brown rice flour (or any gluten free flour)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Zucchini:
  • 3 zucchini's, julienned
  • sea salt
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Easy Sauce:
  • 2 6oz cans organic tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. First add all of your sauce ingredients to a small sauce pan and heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add all spices, flour, and the egg in a large bowl and mix. Once all ingredients are mixed add in your ground beef and mix with your hands until all spices are worked in.
  3. Form into meatballs and place inside crock pot. You can also bake this in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes each side.
  4. If cooking in a crock pot, cover meatballs in ⅔ of the sauce. Save the rest of the sauce to add at meal times. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Julienne your zucchini/squash and place in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. This is when a lot of the water comes out of the veggies. This allows them to stay more firm like noodles when you top them with the meatballs.
  6. Put zucchini/squash in large container with peppers and store in fridge. Top with meatballs and 2-3 tbsp sauce when serving.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

 

 

pork

 

Summer is in full swing, which means lots of BBQs, family parties, friendly get togethers and the 4th of July! All of these events have many things in common, but the one that stands out the most to me is food. It can be very easy to let your healthy eating habits dwindle during the warmer summer months but if you make small conscious decisions on a daily basis you can avoid excessive damage to your body and continue working toward long term health. One way you can continue your healthy eating habits through the summer is to find healthy condiments or make your own. Ana and I recently talked about healthy condiments on Better Connecticut.

Pulled Pork is a very popular summer food and one of my favorites! BBQ sauce is one of the primary ingredients in pulled pork and often has sugar and high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredients, which is not something you want to include regularly in your diet. Bone Suckin BBQ sauce is a great brand that does not contain any inflammatory ingredients. They use honey to sweeten the sauce and that’s all! You can find it at Stop and Shop, Big Y, Whole Foods and most other health food stores. Not to mention it also tastes amazing. Try it out in this simple BBQ Pull Pork recipe and let us know how you like it!

Enjoy!

Amanda

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
 
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Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Ingredients
  • 3-4lb Pork Shoulder
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½-1 jar Bone Suckin BBQ Sauce (depends on amount of pork)
  • ⅓ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Raw Honey
  • *Add 1 tsp Cayenne pepper for a spicier pulled pork
Instructions
  1. Place pork shoulder in crock pot.
  2. Mix all other ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Pour on top of pork shoulder.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours. Add more BBQ sauce to taste.

 

 

 

Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)

Cobb salads are delicious and full of high protein, healthy ingredients! However, they are one of those foods you don’t really want to order at a restaurant. It’s hard to know that you’re getting  healthfully sourced ingredients, such an unprocessed, uncured bacon from humanely raised pigs, a dressing made without any vegetable/canola oil or fake mayo, and free range, organic eggs and chicken! Finding a restaurant that values the integrity of all of the main ingredients of a Cobb salad is tough- that’s why I love making these at home! The dressing is my favorite part…check out the recipe and let us know what you think!

 

Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups organic mixed greens
  • 4 slices all natural, uncured bacon (cooked crispy and crumbled into bits)
  • 2 organic hardboiled eggs (sliced into pieces)
  • 1 medium organic roma tomato
  • 1 medium organic chicken breast (you will need 1 TBLS coconut oil, 2 TBLS coconut flour, 4 TBLS coconut flakes, and 1 egg if you're not using leftover chicken)
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 carrots (sliced)
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 4 TBLS fresh dill (finely chopped)
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. First cook your chicken breast, or slice some leftover chicken you have into strips. I like to cut mine into strips, batter it with 1 egg and 2 TBLS coconut flour and then sauté lightly in ½ TBLS coconut oil in a pan in coconut oil for about 4-5 minutes, or until brown. I then place the strips on a baking sheet on the other ½ TBLS coconut oil and top with coconut flakes and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees (no longer because you don't want the chicken to dry out). If you don't like coconut chicken you can do this same process with olive oil and sea salt/pepper.
  2. Next, place the mixed greens on your plates and top with all of your vegetables, crumbled bacon, and sliced egg. I like to do it in rows, but you can do different style of layer depending on your visual preference.
  3. Lastly, to make the dressing simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together until well combined. Add a touch more oil and lemon juice if you like it thinner. When the chicken is done, place the strips on your salad while still warm, put the dressing on the side in a small bowl, and enjoy!
  4. PN RX (per salad): 4 free veggies, 1.5 protein, 3 fats

Gluten Free Philly Steak and Cheese

philly

 

I love recreating some of my favorite foods into healthier versions that provide nutrition but still satisfy a craving. Sometimes even just one meal of processed food and refined carbohydrates can throw you off the wagon and cause a host of sugar cravings, mood swings, headaches, and complete loss of motivation and energy just to name a few. When you are craving something that isn’t going to provide your body with the nutrients it needs and even take away many nutrients during the process of digestion try to make a healthier version. This way you can still enjoy your food but you leave all the nasty side effects of cheat meals behind. I love philly steak and cheese sandwiches and sometimes I want bread but I know how it will make me feel. I picked up some gluten free buns from Trader Joe’s along with some organic shaved steak and raw cheese to make this delicious and satisfying meal. The gluten free buns are still a concentrated source of carbohydrates and more processed than fruits and vegetables so I try to make them a treat but overall this is a great substitution.

 

Gluten Free Philly Steak and Cheese
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 Gluten Free Rolls
  • 1lb Organic Shaved Steak
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 8oz Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 2 Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • Raw Cheese to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and melt butter. Add in Worcestershire, hot sauce and garlic powder and mix.
  2. Add in shaved steak and cook until no longer pink but try not to overcook.
  3. Heat up gluten free rolls and toast in oven for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add 4oz of shaved steak to each roll with onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Place 1oz of cheese on top and heat in oven until melted.
  5. We cut ours in half then put 2oz on each half and a little cheese on top.

Avocado Dream Salad

avocado salad

My younger sister, Amy, recently got back from Hawaii and brought this delicious recipe with her! The Avocado Dream Salad is similar to a tuna or chicken salad. Chop up a bunch of vegetables into little cubes then use the mashed avocado to mix in like a mayonnaise. You can even add some chopped up grilled chicken or fish in there to complete the meal. This also tastes great with some goat cheese or nuts crumbled on top. It is the perfect, refreshing recipe for the warm weather coming our way. Enjoy!

 

 

Avocado Dream Salad
 
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Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 avocado, scooped out and mashed
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped up into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Chop up all of your vegetables into small pieces and put in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon on top and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the crushed garlic.
  3. With clean hands, pour avocado on top and mix into the vegetables with your hands. Keep mixing until you get everything covered with the avocado, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  4. You can top with some nuts and/or goat cheese.