Salmon Salad

On Mondays, I meal prep. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my #mealprepmonday stories where I share what I make for breakfast and lunch throughout the week.  This salmon salad is my go-to for lunches because it’s simple to prepare, inexpensive, healthy, filling and easy to package individually to grab each morning.

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Tuna salad was one of my favorite lunches my mom made for us growing up.  I know that not everyone finds it appetizing, but it’s a comfort food for me.  I make the same recipe now, but use canned salmon instead of tuna. Why? 1- I think it tastes better… it is not as dry as tuna and is less fishy. 2- it’s healthier. Tuna can have very high mercury content, so I try to avoid it now. Plus, salmon is truly one of the most nutritious things you can eat- it is full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. It’s also full of protein, helping to keep me from craving snacks throughout the day.

This recipe should only take 15 minutes to prepare and makes enough for 3 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-oz cans of wild-caught salmon
  • 2 soy-free pastured organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayo made with avocado oil (Primal Kitchen is my favorite brand)
  • 1 tablespoon organic sweet relish
  • dash of salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Hard boil the eggs.
  2. Drain the salmon and put in a bowl with mayo, relish and salt & pepper.
  3. Once eggs are boiled, peel and then use an egg slicer to dice.
  4. Add eggs to the bowl of other ingredients and mix.  Add more mayo/relish to taste, depending on dryness of salmon.

Serve on top of salad greens or on your favorite sandwich bread or crackers.

P.S. I’m able to buy most of these ingredients at Thrive Market – check out their selection of discounted healthy groceries here.  Read this blog post to see other items I purchase on their site to keep my all-organic grocery spending low.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla SoupLast Sunday, we finally got some beautiful cool Fall weather here in Austin, so, of course, I had to make one of my favorite super simple soup recipes: Chicken Tortilla Soup.

This recipe is filled with protein, is Paleo compliant and the broth is amazing for supporting your bones, ligaments, joints and skin, as well as providing lots of valuable vitamins and minerals. It’s a perfect quick & healthy meal that your family will love!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of bone broth – find my homemade crock-pot bone broth recipe here
  • Meat from whole chicken (shredded) – find my easy crock-pot chicken recipe here
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or grass-fed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoon(s) cayenne pepper, depending on spiciness preference
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Optional: You can also add some chopped veggies – carrots & kale are my favorites in this soup

Preparation:

  1. Dice onion and garlic and put in large soup pot with coconut oil.
  2. Saute garlic & onion on medium heat until onion is soft.
  3. Add all other ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes (or cook in crock-pot on low all day for even better flavor!)

Tortilla ChipsGarnish with a squeeze of lime, freshly grated raw cheddar cheese and some salty tortilla chip crumbles.  When it comes to tortilla chips, there is only one brand that I can recommend… I am beyond excited about Jackson’s Honest NEW tortilla chips cooked in coconut oil.  They are the only brand that makes tortilla chips with coconut oil; all the others use super toxic vegetable oils.  Plus, they are organic, made with non-GMO corn and gluten-free. I found them at my local Whole Foods – you must pick up a bag!

Enjoy!!

Do You Breakfast?

HoneymoonBreakfast is, by far, my favorite meal of the day.  If I didn’t have to rush out the door each morning for work, I’d take the time to prepare poached eggs, migas or cinnamon french toast with strawberries (paired with a coconut milk cappuccino or mimosa, of course!).  Getting to enjoy breakfast is one of my favorite parts of vacation and the weekends.

But reality is most of us just don’t have time for that. Most of you, I can imagine, skip breakfast altogether most mornings.  I’m sure you’ve heard it time and again, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  It jump starts your metabolism, gives you energy, and prevents the hunger that puts you in a bad mood or causes you to overeat later in the day.  Plus, a healthy breakfast gives your body the best chance of absorbing those vitamins and minerals more easily at the start of the day, cutting down on your cravings later.

When my doctor told me last Fall that I needed to add 80 grams of protein into my diet each day, I knew that I would have to find a way to increase my intake at breakfast.  I thought I would share a few of my quick go-to favorites for those of you looking to mix up your routine:

Poached Eggs on Sprouted Wheat Toast with AvocadoPoached Eggs

If you have an egg poaching pan, this option is as fast and easy as boiling an egg.  While the eggs are cooking, I toast a piece of sprouted wheat bread (read why here), slather with organic butter or coconut oil and then top with sliced avocado.  It takes me about 7 minutes total to throw together this delicious, filling meal.

On a side note, I always make sure to buy free-range, organic, soy-free eggs because they are the most nutrient-dense.  I get this local brand at Whole Foods/Natural Grocers and love them; you truly can taste the freshness: Coyote Creek Farms.

Egg Bacon Muffins

I originally found this recipe on one of my favorite health blogs, Wellness Mama, and I love its versatility.  It is so incredibly easy to mix up a batch and throw in whatever extra vegetables are in your fridge.  Also, bacon!  I will make these on Sunday night for the week.  I usually eat a couple of these at a time – wrap them in foil and warm a few minutes in the toaster oven, then eat them in the car.  If you want to nix the bacon for whatever crazy reason, you can also just whip up some eggs, throw in some diced veggies and bake in muffin tins for mini frittatas.

“Bento Box”Bento Box

This is another one of those easy make-ahead options that you can put in a container to grab on your way out the door.  Simply boil a couple of eggs (can’t boil an egg? try this!), throw in a few berries for an antioxidant boost and then I add a muffin or two that I’ve baked on Sunday.  This gluten-free banana muffin is one of my favorite & totally healthy recipes – you can add in a couple tablespoons raw honey if you like it sweeter or some dark chocolate chips and nuts for some texture.

Greek Yogurt & Grain-Free Granola

Yogurt and GranolaGreek Yogurt is a yummy way to get some great protein in the AM with 15 g in 1 cup.  I personally love the Wallaby brand made with organic whole milk from pasture-raised cows and no artificial ingredients. Then, I top with some grain-free granola and fresh berries.  I recently found this Wildway Granola at Whole Foods and fell in love… it’s not cheap but it’s packed with fiber & protein (8g), is completely raw, has no added sweeteners. It is made entirely of fruit, nuts, and seeds, so is gluten-free, paleo and truly the healthiest pre-made version of granola you can buy.  P.S. I also love this as a late night protein snack to help me fall asleep.

GoMacro Bars

If you want an option with zero prep, try these tasty, wholesome breakfast bars.  My favorite is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip with 12 grams of protein.  I love this brand because they are organic, GMO-free, soy free (try finding another protein bar that is, especially with chocolate), free of refined sugar AND are reasonably priced compared to other options.  The whole mission of GoMacro is to provide a “macrobiotic” or minimally processed, found-in-nature product. You can buy them individually or by the case for a discount at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.

Any other healthy breakfast ideas? Please share – I am always looking to mix it up!

Emphasis on Hopeful

Apologies for the lack of new posts recently – life’s been a bit crazy lately, with little time left for blogging! Although I have a couple of posts I really want to write & share soon, I thought it was about time for an update on my health…

A few months ago, in reaction to an extremely stressful time at work, I got an ear infection.  Let me tell you, friends, ear infections are the worst.  The only pain was terrible and nothing seemed to help.  I tried home remedies – living clay, essential oils and loading up on all kinds of vitamins – without any luck.  I visited the doctor twice to no avail and, in my desperation, I opted to take antibiotics.  Unfortunately, as expected, they made me super sick, gave me a rash & didn’t help at all.  Finally, a visit to the ENT to insert a sponge helped get steroids directly into my ear and multiple visits to the chiropractor drained the fluid eventually.

Our trip to Europe provided some reprieve from the stress this summer; the break gave me a renewed mind and optimistic perspective.  But as the hours at work picked back up, all of my post-vacation resolutions – talking the dog for nightly walks, spending more time with friends and family, cooking meals, even shopping for groceries – got neglected quickly as there just weren’t enough hours in the day.  As my work-life balance suffered, the stress creeped back in and, therefore, back into having it’s effect on my immune system.

RelaxOne day in early August, I woke up with hives all over the back of my legs.  I thought it was odd and attempted to find what the cause could be; but, nothing in my routine, diet or hygiene/beauty products had changed.  Figuring the hives would go away soon and it had to be a fluke, I just dealt with the itching.  But they lasted, spreading and progressively getting worse and worse.  After a week, I made an appointment with my naturopath doctor.  Asking questions about every aspect of my life, sleeping habits and diet, she got the full picture of my health.  She suggested that while I could be experiencing an allergic reaction, she was pretty positive that stress was the cause.  Hoping to learn more about what was going on with my body, she prescribed a blood test and hormone panel. In the meantime, I would stay away from gluten and really focus on my nutrition to lessen the inflammatory response my body was having.  After four long weeks, my hives finally subsided; the stress was still there, but I think that a better focus on my diet and a supplement I got from my chiropractor finally helped my body stop overreacting.

The CDC states that emotional stress causes 80-85% of all illness. It makes sense – stress suppresses our immune function, so, long-term it gets even worse.  This month, I’ve been sick twice – a bad cold and then food poisoning for the third time this year… ugh!  But I returned to my doctor last week and the results were in: stress is the culprit.  Even after all my time at the pool this summer and daily Vitamin D supplements, I was still deficient and need to increase my intake.  I’m anemic, so will be taking a liquid iron supplement to give me more energy.  And although I drink lots of water and even add Himalyan pink sea salt, my electrolyte levels were still low – I foresee lots of coconut water (NOT sugary gatorade) in my future!

Most importantly, my DHEA levels were extremely low.  Although known for overuse by athletes, the presence of DHEA in our body is essential.  Most people in their twenties are producing more DHEA this decade of their lives than any other.  DHEA is a steroid hormone secreted by your adrenal glands; during times of stress, your adrenals are pumping so much cortisol that they produce very little DHEA. But that has massive effects as DHEA is the precursor to estrogen, progesterone & testosterone.  As a result, my hormones are totally out of whack.  So, instead of “doping” up on unnatural DHEA, I’ll be taking a custom supplement designed by my doctor to provide the building blocks to hormone development, bringing the levels back up. I’ll also be on a high-protein diet of 60-80 grams per day to balance my blood sugar – prolonged high-cortisol response causes problems there too.  So, if anyone has some good ideas for high-protein snacks (especially low-budget options), please share!

While the news was not good, I am thankfully at a point where I can step in to make these changes now and get my body back in balance before things get more serious.  It will take many months to recover, but I am committed to focus on my health – this body is the only one I get.  In the meantime, I would appreciate any & all stress-management recommendations!  I am rejecting the identity of illness that I’ve had my whole life; I am so hopeful that healing is near and I will choose joy & faith.

Meditating on this verse lately: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5