Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Thanksgiving side dishes are plentiful. Every family has its own favorites. This year I invite you to try this ridiculously easy to make, but ‘oh so tasty’ roasted Brussels sprouts.

 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 35 min

Yeld: 4

Ingredients:
1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed, rough outer leaves of larger sprouts removed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Method
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Toss the brussels sprouts with olive oil and coat well. Salt generously. Sprinkle with black pepper and lemon juice (or cider vinegar). Toss in the garlic. Then place the seasoned brussels sprouts onto a cast iron skillet (if you have one). If not, a roasting pan will do.

3. Put brussels sprouts in oven on top rack, cook for 20 minutes, then stir so that the sprouts get coated with the oil in the pan. Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.

4. The sprouts should be nicely browned, some of the outside leaves crunchy, the interior should be cooked through. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Black Beans

A hearty bean and beef dish that ‘sticks to your ribs’. Economical way of getting your fiber, vitamins and protein. Why people aren’t eating them more often?

My guess is that one reason is the popularisation of Paleo diet, which demonises legumes. While Paleo has some good guidelines for healthy eating, there’s absolutely no scientific evidence to support avoidance of beans.

Extra credit for the nutrition geeks:

Paleo proponents’ reason to avoid these: Their high concentration of anti-nutrients, which supposedly reduces their nutritional value to zero. They cannot be more wrong. Indeed, research suggests that the benefits of legumes far outweigh their anti-nutrient content, especially in light of the fact that cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects.

Lectins and protease inhibitors, in particular, are greatly reduced with cooking. And once cooked, these chemicals may actually be good for us. Lectins may reduce tumor growth, while protease inhibitors become anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. 

Benefits:

  • Beans and peas taste good, they’re inexpensive, they’re healthy, and they pose very little risk of causing food borne illness.
  • Consuming just a half cup of beans and peas each day can result in a higher intake of fibre, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium.
  • When we eat more legumes, saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol tends to go down.
  • Beans can help to protect us against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • We also have data that shows legumes predict overall survival among elderly

This recipe is an amalgamation of several bean recipes I’ve tried over the years. By now you probably know that I like to save time in the kitchen, without sacrificing taste or nutrition of the dishes. This one takes time to cook down, but preparation is minimal. You don’t have to check the stove every 10 minutes or so to stir the beans (as opposed to the traditional New Orleans style Red Beans’n’Rice I cook for my husband occasionally).

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 8 hours

Serves: 6-8

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Ingredients

1 oz dried black beans, rinsed and drained

1 lbs of stew meat

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 dried bay leaves

1 can (28 oz) Rotel Diced Tomatoes (They do have other flavors. I use Original. Try the one with chopped Chilies)

1 can (28 oz) can of water

2 Tbsp of Olive Oil

2 Tbsp of Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of ground Cumin

1/2 teaspoon of Thyme

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 large Bell Pepper, chopped

fresh parsley and green onions for garnish

Preparation

1. Put all the ingredients (minus the salt and bell pepper) in the slow cooker/crock pot. Cover and cook on high heat 8 hours or more, until beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. (I put it all together at night before going to bed, wake up to the most awesome aroma, and get out of the door prepared with my home-made meal for lunch).

2. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the salt and chopped bell pepper.

3. Continue cooking on LOW untill ready to serve.

4. Remove bay leaves. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and gren onions.

Notes: You can use 2 (16 oz) canned beans instead of dried ones. Drain them well and add to the slow cooker. Omit the 28 oz can of water. Reduce the cooking time to 4-6 hours.

Bon appétit! Or, like they say in Russia: На Здоровье! [Na Zda-ro-vye]

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Raising The Bar on the Protein Bar

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As promised, this week I am sharing a couple of recipes of homemade protein/energy bars. They are a fantastic alternatives to the store-bought, sugar-laden, artificial ingredient-containin’, protein bars.

Yesterday I ran out of the house forgetting my home-made over the weekend protein bar. The day at the gym was long enough for me to get hungry before dinner. I stopped at the local Walgreens in hopes to find a replacement. 15 minutes later after reading through the ingredients of every single bar they had on the shelves I walked out empty-handed. All of them contained too much sugar, processed stuff, and artificial coloring. Thank God our staff at the gym keeps snacks like raw nuts handy.

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE BARS (anytime)

This bar is great for any time of the day due to it’s lower carb content, while providing you with good fats and lots of protein.

prep time: 5 minutes

serves: 4

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INGREDIENTS

4 scoops of chocolate protein powder

2/3 cup of flax meal

4 Tbsp of chunky natural peanut butter

1/4 cup of water

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix everything together in a large bowl and start stirring. At first, it will seem like there’s not enough water, but keep stirring, and it will eventually become a sticky blob of dough. If you have to, add water 1 tablespon at a time.
  • Devide mixture into 4 equal portions, and put them together into separate pieces of plastic wrap, shaping into a bar within the wrap. It’s easier to shape them by laying plastic wrap in one side of a small casserole dish, pressing the dough into the natural shape of the dish.
  • Put the bars in the fridge, or store them in the freezer. Mine don’t last long enough to be stored in the freezer though:)

NUTRITION INFO per serving:

Calories: 283

Protein:  29g

Carbs:    11g

Fat:       15g

Second bar is now my go-to postworkout treat! Here the fat and carbs are flipped, while protein is still high. The tartness of the dried cranberries provides balance to the chocolate and oats.

Prep time: 20 min

Serves: 6

CRANBERRY OAT BROWNIE (post-workout)

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INGREDIENTS

1.5 cup of rolled oats (ground into powder in food processor)

1 cup of whole wheat flower

5 scoops of chocolate protein

2 teaspoons sugar (use substitute if desired)

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2/3 non-fat plain yougurt

1/3 cup applesauce

2 Tbsp of honey

1 Tbsp of olive oil or flax oil

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (except protein powder), mixing briefly.
  • In a food processor combine yogurt, applesauce and oil. Mix on low. Add protein powder, 1 scoop at a time, to the mixture till thoroughly blended.
  • Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients. Add honey and mix well untill everything is incorporated. Warning: things will get sticky:)
  • Transfer the dough into an 8×12 inch cooking dish (greased with oil)
  • Bake at 350F for 10 minutes

NUTRITIONAL INFO per serving:

Calories: 306

Protein:  26g

Carbs:   41g

Fat:       5g

Side NoteSome of you might not even need the extra sugar/sweetener if your chocolate protein powder is sweet enough. I didn’t add any to my Peanut Butter Fudge Bar, and it came out just fine.

Recipes Credit: Precision Nutrition (www.precisionnutrition.com)

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