Nutrition, Pregnancy, Recipes

Sauteed Scallops over Green Lentils

I whipped this up the other day and felt mighty accomplished.

Sauteed sea scallops served over a bed of green lentils mixed with tomatoes and wilted arugula.

So far so good, right?  🙂

I’m willing to pay a bit of premium for things that I consume (is there any more worthy investment than our health?), and I like my foods simply prepared, so that the taste and quality of the ingredients stand out.  If I’m making a salad and it’s summertime, I’m going to the farmer’s market and getting fresh greens, heirloom tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and maybe some fresh herbs.  Maybe I’ll even get all wild and crazy and toast some pine nuts to add to the mix.  Then I’m tossing it all together with nothing more than a bit of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper to pull all the flavors together and really make them pop.  I can’t imagine, say, dumping a bunch of ranch dressing on that salad.  If I did that, I might as well just be eating ranch dressing because it’s all I’d taste.

This dish was no exception to that general rule.  When I took my first bite, I tasted only the medley of the fresh ingredients that comprised it.  The spicy arugula.  The sweetness of the tomatoes.  The robust and slightly peppery flavor of the lentils.  The sweet and rich taste of the scallops.

Technique was also important. Scallops are on the pricey side, and there’s nothing worse than splurging on them only to end up with a gross, rubbery mess!  I’ve found that two tricks are key to making sure they turn out just right:

  1. Placing them at room temperature 20-30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking.
  2. Ensuring a nice sear by patting them dry with a paper towel before adding them to the saute pan and making sure the oil and pan are nice and hot.

 

And did I mention how super healthy this is?!  I especially recommend the dish for moms-to-be because it has a lot of the goodies that pregnant women need in larger quantities, including omega-3’s, protein, folate, and iron.

Now that I’ve (hopefully!) sold you, let’s eat!

Sauteed Scallops over Green Lentilsscallops

Serves 2

  • 10 ounces sea scallops
  • 1/2 cup dried green lentils
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper


Place lentils in a small pot with 3 cups of water and set burner to high.  Reduce the heat when the water begins to boil and allow the lentils to simmer until desired tenderness, about 30-40 minutes.  Drain any remaining water.

Remove scallops from the refrigerator about ten minutes into cooking the lentils.  Set aside.

While the lentils cook, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a saute pan placed over medium heat.  Add arugula and garlic and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice.  Add to drained lentils and stir to combine.

Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a saute pan (more if surface is NOT nonstick) and place pan over medium-high to high heat, depending on your stovetop.  After pan is hot but not smoking, add scallops.   Allow to cook undisturbed until the scallops have a caramel-colored sear, about 2 minutes.  Gently turn scallops over and cook another 1-2 minutes on the other side.

Divide the lentil mixture evenly onto two plates and top with equal amounts of scallops.

Nutrition, Recipes

Lemon Chicken Roulade

It’s June and time to fire up the grill!  But instead of grilling up plain old burgers and dogs, do something different this week and try out my recipe for Lemon Chicken Roulade!

The fact that you roll up the chicken makes it look impressive, and anything with “roulade” in the name sounds super fancy.  But in fact it’s really pretty easy to make.  The most time consuming part was pitting the cherries.  If that sounds too daunting, feel free to swap them out with dried cherries or another dried fruit.  Though I have to say that I really did like the subtle sweetness of the fresh cherries (plus they’re Rainier – yum!).

I think I’ll skip the commentary today and go straight to the good stuff.  As always, try it out and let me know what you think!

Lemon Chicken Roulade

Serves 2

  • 1 T lemon juiceIMG_0442
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 4 t olive oil, divided
  • 2 t dried thyme
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 2 – 8 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened to ½ inch thickness
  • ½ cup rainier cherries (about 8 cherries), pitted and chopped
  • ⅓ cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 t garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 T pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups packed fresh spinach
  • 3 T Parmesan cheese, grated

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, 3 teaspoons of the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Pour marinade over chicken and refrigerate for four hours, turning once.

Heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for three minutes, until onions begin to soften.  Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts, another 1-2 minutes.  Add garlic, cherries, and pine nuts, stirring until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute more.

Preheat grill to 400 degrees.

Remove chicken from marinade. Divide the filling in half and spread evenly over each chicken breast.  Sprinkle 1 ½ tablespoons parmesan cheese over each breast.  Starting from a short end, roll each breast up and secure with toothpicks.

Brush grill grates with oil.  Grill chicken at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes each side.

Nutrition, Recipes

Portobello Pizzas

Happy Monday!  I write with a recipe today: Portobello Pizzas!

It’s another of my gluten-free creations.  Even five years ago I don’t recall hearing much about problems that gluten can cause, and it turns out there’s a reason.  According to research by the Mayo Clinic, celiac disease (an immune reaction to eating gluten that can cause severe abdominal pain and diarrhea) is on the rise, now affecting one in every 100 people.  Even if you don’t have the full-fledged disease, you might still have a sensitivity to gluten, causing you to experience problems like loss of energy, acne, and various gastrointestinal problems.

No one in my family has a gluten problem, but I do try to reduce the amount of wheat in our diets where I can because I find that it’s just too easy to eat the stuff.  It seems to be in absolutely everything.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I can’t help but wonder: are more people suffering from gluten problems precisely BECAUSE our consumption is on the rise?  Consider it food for thought.

I must have had this in the back of my mind when I saw the portobello mushrooms because I immediately thought “pizza crust substitute”!   So I combined the mushrooms with caramelized onions, sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella to create the recipe you see below.

If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal, you’re going to need to bypass the caramelized onions.  But if you have some time on your hands, they are SO WORTH IT!  The key to making them properly is “low and slow.”  Like so many other good things in life, they can’t be rushed.  For this recipe, I sweated them out for 35 minutes, but truthfully they could have used another 10 minutes to develop the rich caramel color that gives them their name.  If you don’t have the time to invest in this adventure, DO NOT rush it by cranking up the heat.  You’re destined to brown or burn them.  Go low and slow, and you’ll be rewarded with the sweetest onions you’ve ever tasted.  Ones that are so soft they practically melt in your mouth.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.

If you don’t have the time or patience for this, just substitute the caramelized onions for another favorite pizza topping.

This recipe calls for fresh mozzarella cheese.  It does NOT call for reduced fat or – gasp – fat free cheese.  Like many things food-related, I have strong feelings on this subject:  if you enjoy cheese, you should eat cheese, by which I mean REAL, full fat cheese.  Yes, cheese does have a lot of fat, but we need fat in our diets.  Among other thing, it helps our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals in the foods that we eat.  That said, you shouldn’t go overboard on fat consumption, particularly if you suffer from heart disease or are looking to trim down.  This recipe calls for just 1.5 ounces of mozzarella per serving.  And a serving here is TWO rather large mushrooms.  You will be more satisfied with that 1.5 ounces than with three times the amount of yucky fat free Kraft singles.

I loved the way these turned out!  I had them for lunch, but they’d also be super for entertaining.  You could use baby bellas instead of the larger mushrooms and make fun party appetizers.  🙂

Portobello Pizzas

Serves 2IMG_0497

  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • ⅔ cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella (get the good stuff, people!)
  • ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced onions and ½ teaspoon of salt, stirring to coat the onions in the olive oil.  After 2 minutes reduce heat to low.  Allow the onions to sweat for about 35 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes to ensure they do not brown. The onions are done when they are quite soft and a light caramel color.

While the onions cook, set the broiler to high.  Gently remove the gills from the mushroom caps with a spoon.  Rinse the mushrooms and pat dry.  Brush the mushrooms with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the mushrooms on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan, lined with aluminum foil.  Broil the mushrooms for 6 minutes on each side.  Remove the mushrooms from the pan.

Turn off the broiler and set the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add the spinach, garlic, and a dash of salt and saute, stirring constantly, until the spinach wilts and the garlic is fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Line another cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with aluminum foil.  Transfer the mushrooms to the pan and layer them with equal amounts of the toppings:  tomatoes, spinach, onions, then cheese.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the top of the pizzas just begin to brown.

Nutrition, Recipes

Ingredient Combinations to Make Your Own Recipes

You’re in a cooking rut, making the same things over and over again.  You are bored.  You head to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for dinner, hoping to make something different this time.  You find yourself in the middle of the produce section, overwhelmed by all the choices, thinking to yourself, “Where do I begin?”

spice drawer
Arial view of my spice drawer. Way more convenient than storing these in a pantry, btw.

Sound familiar?

Lately it seems several friends, family members, and clients keep telling me the same thing: I want to experiment with new foods, but I have no idea WHAT GOES TOGETHER.  I’m ok when I have a recipe that I can follow, but if I find myself in the store without that guidance, I’m at a loss for what to buy.

I used to be the same way.  When I first got into cooking, I was slave to the recipe, following everything to a T, afraid of deviating in the slightest way, lest I screw something up.  Gradually, I started taking a little creative license.  I still used recipes as a starting point but would swap one ingredient for another here, one cooking method for another there.  Now I’ve progressed to the point where I feel confident enough to create recipes on my own.

Today I’m sharing some of my “Go-To” flavor and ingredient combinations.  The lists are by no means exhaustive, but they provide a good starting point, and all of the items complement each other pretty well.  I’ve arranged them in what I like to call “Chipotle style,” where you pick your carbohydrate base, add the veggies you want, heft it up with your protein(s) and healthy fat(s) of choice, then flavor as you prefer.  The nice thing about organizing items this way is the flexibility it affords.  Feel free to omit categories as you like (maybe you’re watching your carb intake and want to skip this one, for instance), and choose as many or as few items from each category as suits you.

And if it STILL seems overwhelming, pick just one ingredient and go from there.  I do this all the time.  Have some avocados in your refrigerator that need to go?   Avocados always get me thinking Mexican, so pick up some black beans, tomatoes, onions, corn, bell peppers, lime, and cilantro.  Dice the veggies, chop the cilantro, and toss everything together in a bowl.  Stir in the lime, maybe a bit of olive oil, and salt and voila!  You have a fresh salad for lunch, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.   Looking for a heartier main dish?  How about combining all of the Mexican “flavors” below with some salt and olive oil and using it as a beef marinade?  You could then simply top the meat with sliced avocado or make a guacamole.  The “start with one ingredient” strategy works equally well if you find yourself hankering for something (“Gosh I am REALLY in the mood for some eggplant tonight, but what should I make?”) or want to experiment with a new ingredient (“How do you cook tofu anyway?”).  In the latter case, remember google is your friend.  And don’t be afraid to mess up.  If you destroy the tofu, you can always omit it from the dish.  Or feed it to the dog.  Assuming dogs can eat tofu.  I don’t have a dog, so I’m really not sure.  But you get the picture.

Oh and everything on the lists fits my definition of healthy.  I almost always opt for whole grains over refined ones, so you’ll see brown rice on the list but not white rice.  Fat is critical for good health, but not all fats are created equal.  My lists include those that I use and consider healthy.  I’m also not a vegetarian, so animal proteins make the cut.  I simply suggest that you opt for lean varieties.

Speaking of protein, look closely, and you’ll see that every list has the same protein choices.  This simply reflects my belief that proteins go with just about anything.

So go on!  Step outside your culinary box, and unchain yourself from the recipe!

Mexican

Carbohydrate: brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, corn, whole wheat or corn tortillas, plantains

Vegetable: bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, crispy lettuce (e.g. romaine)

Protein: tofu, lean animal proteins (beef, chicken, pork, etc), fish

Healthy fat: avocado

Flavor: cumin, coriander/cilantro, chili powder, paprika, oregano, lime

Asian

Carbohydrate: brown rice, brown rice noodles

Vegetable: snow peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, baby corn, green onions, bean sprouts

Protein: tofu, lean animal proteins (beef, chicken, pork, etc), fish

Healthy fat: peanuts or peanut butter, cashews, sesame seeds or oil, coconut oil or milk

Flavor: soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, red or green curry paste, lemon, lime, cilantro/coriander, ginger, rice vinegar

Indian

Carbohydrate: brown rice, potatoes, daal/lentils, whole what naan

Vegetable: tomato, okra, french or green beans, eggplant, zucchini, onion

Protein: tofu, lean animal proteins (beef, chicken, pork, etc), fish

Healthy fat: coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk

Flavor: Cilantro/coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chutney, curry powder, lime, ginger, mustard seed

 

 

 

 

Nutrition, Recipes

Banana Blueberry Muffins (Sugar- and Gluten-Free)

Whoever said that baking is a science wasn’t kidding.

I learned that the hard way in the process of creating the recipe I’m offering today.  It took me somewhere between six and nine tries (at some point I lost count) to get it right.

I wanted to make a sugar- and gluten-free version of an old favorite: the banana muffin.  I took as my starting point a traditional recipe (read: one with wheat flour and lots of sugar) and brainstormed ways to adapt it.  The problem is, when you change one thing, you risk throwing off the entire recipe.  It’s not like cooking where you can take a lot of creative license with little risk.

The first thing I knew I wanted to do was substitute almond flour for the white wheat flour.  Google told me I could substitute these 1:1 if I increased the leavening agents, but it failed to offer details.  My recipe called for three leavening agents – eggs, baking soda, and baking powder.  Was I to increase one, two, or all three of them?  And by how much?

There were other unanswered questions too.  I planned to entirely remove the sugar, but should I replace it with something?  If so, what, and how much of it?

So I guessed.  And I guessed again, and again, and again. I’ll spare you the gory details of my various attempts and instead illustrate why I went to all the trouble with a side-by-side comparison of calories, macronutrients, and sugars in the revised and original versions of these muffins:

Gluten & Sugar-Free Muffin      Traditional Muffin
Energy 206 cal 293 cal
Total Fat 17.2 grams 26 % DV 14.6 grams 23% DV
Saturated Fat 1.3 grams 6% DV 2.2 grams 11% DV
Protein 5.8 grams 12% DV 3.0 grams 6% DV
Carbohydrates 11.7 grams 4% DV 39.9 grams 13% DV
Fiber 3. 0 grams 12% DV 0.9 grams 4% DV
Sugar 5.3 grams 26.6 grams

If you’re watching your calories, you’re saving almost 100 of them with the sugar- and gluten-free muffin.  Thanks to the almonds, the new muffin offers twice the amount of protein, half the amount of saturated fat, and three times the amount of fiber as the old one.  And while the old muffin has 27 grams of sugar, the new one has only 5 grams, all of which are natural sugars that come from the fruit.

The chart above doesn’t say anything about vitamins and minerals.  If it did, the new muffins would again be the clear winner.  The almond flour is loaded with ‘em, including vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, and copper.  The white flour used in the old muffins is essentially void of all these goodies.

There you have it!  Give the recipe a shot and tell me what you think!

Sugar- and Gluten-free Banana Blueberry Muffins

Makes 8 muffins

  • 1 cup ripe bananas (about 2 medium-sized bananas)muffin
  • 1 egg, divided
  • 3 T canola oil
  • ½ t vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup almond flour, sifted
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 ¼ t baking powder
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • ½ t salt
  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 8 baking cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with the baking cups and set aside.

Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl, using a fork or potato masher.  Mix in egg yolk, oil, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, blend almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Gently add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine.  Fold in blueberries and egg whites, again stirring just to combine.

Divide batter evenly among the lined muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes.

Nutrition, Recipes

Ode to the Mango: Part II (The Recipe!)

Last Monday I said a yummy mango recipe was headed your way today.  Have you been unable to sleep since then?  Been like a kid counting down the days til Christmas? Okay, so maybe “waiting with bated breath” is an exaggeration, but I do write today with the recipe!  It’s is a little on the fancy side but not terribly challenging to prepare.  I’d say it has an elegant simplicity that is worthy of a special occasion.  Even the name sounds a little fancy: Pepita-crusted Turbot with Avocado Mango Salsa Another Nutritious Meal (and what the heck is a pepita anyway?) If you think you’re unfamiliar with pepitas, you’re probably wrong.  It’s just a fancy (or Mexican) way of saying “pumpkin seeds.”  Pepitas have a lot to offer nutritionally.  One-quarter cup provides 3 grams of fiber (12% DV), 2.7 mg of iron (15% DV), and 9 grams of protein.  If you’re watching your saturated fat intake, keep in mind that pepitas do have a relatively high amount of this.  A serving contains 20% of your saturated fat intake for the day (4 grams), twice as much as peanuts.  But pepitas are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which peanuts lack.  Among other things, omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglycerides, decrease blood pressure, and lower your risk of heart disease. Omega-3’s are actually a theme in this recipe.  Not only do the pepitas have them, but so does the avocado, along with vitamins A, C, B6, and E; folate; potassium; and magnesium. Turbot is a mild white fish.  It packs a protein punch while being relatively low in fat and calories.  Each six-ounce serving in this recipe has 162 calories, 27 grams of protein, and five grams of fat, very little of which is saturated. Taken together, this dish provides an excellent balance of micronutrients and explodes with essential vitamins.  It was quick and easy to prepare.  I really liked it, and I hope you do too!

Pepita-crusted Turbot with Avocado Mango Salsa

pepita final
So pretty!

Serves 4

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 ataulfo mangos, diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas, coarsely ground
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 – 6 oz turbot fillets
  • 2 T olive oil

Remove turbot from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently combine salsa ingredients (mango through “dash of salt”) in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Combine petitas, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a wide, shallow bowl.  Pat turbot fillets dry with a paper towel.  Brush the olive oil on both sides of the fillets, using a pastry brush. Gently roll the fillets in the pepita crust to coat. Transfer the fillets to a shallow baking pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Bake for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until the turbot flakes easily with a fork.  Top the fillets with the salsa.

 I simply can't help but throw pictures of Siyona into the blog whenever I have an excuse to do so.  Here's a pic from back in the day.  Avocado was her first food, and she's taking one of her first bites!
I love making excuses to throw pictures of Siyona into the blog. What can I say? I’m her mom. Here’s a pic from back in the day. Avocado was her first food, and she’s taking one of her first bites!

Nutritional Information (per serving)*

  • Energy: 379 calories
  • Total Fat: 21.7 grams (36% DV)
  • Saturated Fat: 4.25 grams (17% DV)
  • Protein: 31.2 grams (62% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 15.8 grams (5% DV)
  • Fiber: 4.9 grams (20% DV)

*Daily values (DV) are for the general population.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional energy, particularly in the form of protein, than non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding women.

Kids, Recipes

Banana Almond “Cookies”

I have a confession:  I brainwash my child.

Don’t report me to CPS.  Please.  I do it because I love her.

I don’t serve Siyona, my toddler, sugary snacks.  No ice cream, no cake, no doughnuts, no cookies.  Or at least not in traditional varieties.  This is not the brainwashing part, but we are getting there.

Around my house we eat “cookies,” not cookies.  They have just three ingredients, and they are very healthy.  Now before you hang up with CPS and start dialing the Fun Police on me, let me also note that they are very tasty.  At least I think so, and Siyona seems to agree.

The recipe is an adaption of a recipe I received a while back from a client (thank you, Jill).  It was so long ago that I’ve since misplaced the link to the recipe, or I would give credit where due.  Whoever you are, genius recipe maker, kudos to you.

All you do is mash some banana, stir in almond flour/meal, add a dash of cinnamon, and voila!  You have “cookie” dough!

These are so easy that I tend to make them in small batches, but you could increase the quantities to make more cookies.  I’ve never tried to freeze them, but I suspect they would freeze quite well.

I can’t begin to describe how excited Siyona gets when I pull these out!  Instead I’ll let the pictures below tell the tale.  I know they won’t have this allure forever, but I’m riding this wave for as long as I can.

Eyes on cookie...
Eyes on cookie…
...contact made...
…contact made…
...and it's a winner!
…and it’s a winner!

 

 

 

 

 

And if you’re wondering if she’s ever had a REAL cookie, the answer is yes.  And cake, yes, REAL cake too.  Occasionally she’ll eat treats like this at school or on special occasions.  I admit I don’t like it, but I don’t want her to feel ostracized from her peers.  And really it’s not that I NEVER want her eat these things.  Life would seem less fun if she never enjoyed, say, an ice cream cone on a hot sunny day.

But I also believe tastes and preferences are shaped at a young age, so I’m doing my best to instill good eating habits now.  It seems to be working.  Would she choose ice cream over carrots if both choices were placed in front of her?  Absolutely!  Seriously, who wouldn’t?  But does she like carrots?  Yes.  Broccoli?  Yes (especially if it has cheese.  Again, duh).  Brussels sprouts?  Yes.  And the list goes on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I should really probably buy some stock in Trader Joe’s.

Banana Almond “Cookies”

Makes 4 small cookies

  • ¼ cup banana, mashed (about ½ medium banana)
  • ⅓ cup almond meal/flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl.  Form into small disks on a lightly buttered baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

 

Kids, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Recipes

Five Make-ahead Healthy Breakfast Ideas

You’re a mom, so by definition you are busy.  And the busier you are, the harder it is make sure you and your family are eating nutritious meals.

A client and friend recently expressed this feeling with regard to breakfast items.  “Do you have any suggestions for fast healthy breakfasts in the morning?” she asked.  She noted that cereal is fast and always popular at her house, but she was looking for “real food’ alternatives that she could pull together in a few minutes in the mornings with minimal clean-up.

What a great question!  Who can deny the allure of placing a pile of Cheerios in front of your child to occupy her while you get ready for work?  And though we might love to make veggie and cheese omelets for the entire family every morning, who has time for that?

Fortunately, there ARE ways to improve your breakfast menu AND still make it to work or drop your kids to school on time.  They do require prep time, but you can do the preparation in advance.  Here are five ideas.

1. Overnight oats.   Instead of cooking your oats, blend them with yogurt, milk, mashed banana, frozen blueberries, cinnamon, salted and roasted almond butter, and some ground chia and/or flax for good measure.  Toss in the fridge before bed, and it’ll be ready to eat in the morning. My palate tells me it lasts a good three days before it starts to lose its integrity, so make a bunch.  I actually thought I invented this one until a friend told me about this “cool new recipe” that she read on some blog.  To my credit, I do make mine differently – and better, obviously 😉 – than the one she read about, but the basic premise is the same. You’re limited only by your imagination with the ingredients, so don’t feel wed to the ones I use.  I make these for myself, but they’d be good for anyone in the family.

2. Plain yogurt and fresh fruit.  Note the word “plain” here.  Yes, you can buy your yogurt with the fruit already inside, but you’re also going to get a lot of added sugar.  Nobody needs that.  Save time in the morning by mixing it all together the night before.  Buy your fruit pre-cut from the grocery store if that helps.  Frozen blueberries also work well.  If you want to take it on the go, invest in some travel containers.   If you’re looking to up your protein intake, eat plain Greek yogurt instead of regular.

Eggs and veggies on plate
…The cheesy broccoli and sliced grape tomatoes rounded out the meal. 🙂
Siyona eating eggs
The frittata can make for a nice lunch too! Here’s Siyona enjoying hers – and the sun (finally!) – on our deck last week…

3. Veggie frittata.  This is one that my toddler eats.  I saute frozen chopped spinach and kale then add that mixture to beaten eggs. I then pour it into an even layer in a frying pan, flip it once, and it’s done. A three-egg frittata lasts me three days.  I use a LOT of greens, referring to the egg as a mere means of binding it all together, but you needn’t be as heavy-handed. 🙂  I think it’s tastiest fresh, but my daughter eats it straight from the fridge with no problem. If you want to really stock up, you could pour the same egg mixture into cupcake tins and make crustless quiches that you freeze.  Then thaw in the fridge the night before you plan to eat one. Cheese would make a tasty addition to these too.

4. Make-ahead oatmeal.  Is it just me, or does instant oatmeal taste gross?  The science behind it mystifies me, since I think instant oatmeal is just pressed more thinly than rolled oats.  Maybe the Quaker people just use gross-tasting oats?  In any case, I know I prefer the taste and texture of the regular rolled oats, and I’ve heard at least some sources say they are nutritionally superior.  If you feel similarly, you can make a huge vat and then freeze individual portions in ziptop bags.  If you do this, definitely freeze them in a very thin layer to expedite future thawing.  You can freeze them plain or as you plan to eat them.  Cinnamon, blueberries, and a touch of salt make nice additions.

5. Hard boiled eggs.  These are so portable!  If you do plan to take these with you and are worried that you won’t have somewhere to put the cracked shells, you can peel them the night before.  People boil these a lot of different ways.  Here’s how I like to make mine:  place the eggs in a pot and cover with water.  Heat on high until water begins to boil.  Lower heat and let the eggs slow boil for one minute.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover the pot, and let them continue cooking for another 12 minutes.  Immediately cool in an ice-water bath (this prevents the yolk from turning gray on the outside) before storing in the fridge.

And if you absolutely MUST have your breakfast cereal (and I’m  not throwing stones here.  I fall into this category), you know there are healthier and more natural choices out there than Lucky Charms, right?  Some brands that get my general approval are Barbara’s, Nature’s Path, and Arrowhead Mills.  I can’t speak for all their varieties, but I know the ones I eat are made with whole grains, have very little added sugar, and have no preservatives.  Check your boxes carefully and abide my general rule of passing on any option with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Nutrition, Pregnancy, Recipes

I Heart Trader Joe’s – Ten of My “Go To” Items (bonus recipe included)

Today’s post is going out to my longest standing client, Tracy.  During a recent training session, she told me she sometimes asks herself, “What would Chris think of this item?” while shopping at the Trader Joe’s.  She suggested I compile a list of my “go to” Trader Joe items in a WellMom post, and I’m here today to do just that!

Tracy also noted her tendency to pick up too many “snacky” products at the store and not enough “real food.”  I agree that the lure of packaged convenience foods is quite tempting, and by no means do I eat “real food” 100% of the time.  But I do my best to keep processed foods to a minimum, and most of the items below fall into the “real” – or at least “minimally-processed” – category.

I’m a girl who likes a deal, so you’ll notice that a lot of the options below are inexpensive relative to comparable items at other grocery stores.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Salted and roasted creamy almond butter.  I never understood the hype about almond butter until I tried this kind.  I now realize that roasting AND salting is key. The kind I find most often is raw without salt, which tastes stale to me.  And compared to other brands of roasted and salted almond butter, the Trader Joe’s variety wins out in texture too, which is rich and creamy.  It’s also a great value at $7.99 per 16 oz jar.  I’ve seen the same size jar cost twice as much other places!   I blend this into my daughter’s oatmeal, and I like it mixed into plain yogurt along with a bit of mashed banana and cinnamon.  Oh and on a spoon.  I like it on a spoon.  🙂

2. Organic avocados – 4-pack.  These are an awesome deal, coming in at just over a dollar per avocado!  My toddler, Siyona, and I eat avocado basically every day.  I typically dice it and add it to salads or omelets.  Siyona likes it as a stand-alone side dish with her lunch (it was actually her first solid food). The only drawback is that I have a hard time finding ripe ones, so I often have to buy them a few days before I want to eat them.

wild blueberries3. Frozen berries.  Frozen berries are GREAT for mixing into yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal.  They’re especially nice at this time of the year when you can’t – or shouldn’t? – get fresh ones. One of my favorites are the organic frozen wild blueberries.  They’re smaller than regular blueberries, which I love.  At $3.99 for a 12 ounce bag, it’s hard to find a cheaper organic blueberry anywhere!

4. Grill pack of organic chicken.  The grill pack of organic chicken contains two bone-in chicken breasts and four drumsticks.  I typically don’t grill with these.  Instead I’ll bake the chicken breasts, shred them, then add the meat to a variety of different entrees.  What do I do with the drumsticks, you ask?  Well, a drumstick happens to be the perfect size for Siyona, so I’ll freeze them individually and use as needed.  Comes in handy on nights when my husband and I are going out and I need something to leave home for her.  Bone-in is admittedly more work than the boneless, but I happen to think it tastes a lot better, and I save the bones to make homemade chicken stock. Oh and did I mention it’s only $2.99/lb?  And that’s organic chicken!

5. Organic frozen chopped spinach.  This is such a versatile product.  I put it in everything from smoothies, to eggs, to pastas and stir frys. I’ve even been known to put it in my chicken enchiladas.  It’s a great way to up to veggie content of your favorite dishes!

6. Organic Power to the Greens.  This is Trader Joe’s blend of kale, spinach, and Swiss chard – three dark leafy greens rich in vitamins and minerals.  It’s the base for a lot of my salads.  $2.49.

7. Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls.  Ok, ok.  So this one comes in a box.  Michael Pollen might be ashamed.  Cereal is a notable exception to my general tendency to abide by his mantra, “eat food, not food products.”  I guess you can call it my Achilles heel – I love starting my day with a bowl of it splashed with unsweetened almond milk.  And as far as I’m concerned, there are worse vices, especially when Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls is one of my cereals of choice.  It’s pretty natural as boxed cereals go (read: no icky preservatives) and has only 5 grams of sugar per serving. If you enjoy Quaker Life cereal you will like this one, and your body will thank you for the omission of BHT, Yellow 5, Yellow 6…). And a HUGE 24-ounce box costs me a mere $3.99!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8. Canned salmon.  Some of you serious seafood eaters might balk at this one, but you’ll almost always find a can of TJ salmon in my pantry.  No, it’s not nearly as tasty as a fresh filet, but I really enjoy it as a salad where I combine the salmon with plain yogurt, kalamata olives, and capers.  If I have lemon on hand, I sometimes add that too.  Trader Joe’s also sells a nice kalamata olive tapenade spread that I sometimes substitute for the capers and olives.  Canned salmon is an economical way to get in those healthy omega-3’s! $2.49.

9. Brown rice and quinoa fusilli.  You’ve got me again.  This one also comes in a box.  Well, a bag actually.  But I’m giving it a pass because it has just two ingredients (I’ll let you guess what they are. Hint: they’re in the name of the product). And while no one in my family has a gluten problem, I happen to think we can all stand to eat a little less wheat.  I have no scientific basis for saying this, but I can’t help but wonder if the rise we’ve seen in gluten allergies is a result of the rise in gluten in our diets.  Someone should fund this study. $2.99.

10. Bagged nuts.  I have four go-to types of nuts at the TJ: roasted and half salted peanuts, roasted and half salted cashews, raw almonds, and raw pine nuts.  Nuts are a great “real food” snack, and we eat the peanuts, cashews, and almonds for that purpose.  I find the half salt a nice compromise – no salt is so bland, but full salt is so salty!  I toast the raw almonds in my toaster oven and eat them warm.  You have to try this!  They’re done when they start to crackle.  They don’t need salt!  I like the pine nuts for my homemade pesto.  I’m including my recipe for that below, just for good measure.  🙂

Basic Pestopesto crop

  • 2 cups basil, packed
  • 1.5 T minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 t salt
  • ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup Pecorino Romano cheese,* grated

Combine basil through salt in a large food processor.  While blending the dry ingredients, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth.  Then stir in the cheese.

*Frugal tip: Traditionally pesto is made with Parmesan cheese, but Pecorino Romano is WAAAY cheaper.  The flavors aren’t identical, but with all the other strong flavors in the pesto, my palate can’t detect a difference.

 

Nutrition, Pregnancy, Recipes

Hearty Chicken Sausage Soup

I am very much a warm weather person.  There is basically nothing I like about the winter.  I’m pretty sure my blood is about the consistency of water.  I am always cold!

One coping mechanism that gets me through the long, cold winters is soup.  I used to find them intimidating to make until I realized that there’s really no wrong way to make a soup.  It’s kind of like making a salad.  There really aren’t any rules.

Recently I whipped up this recipe for hearty chicken sausage soup.  I like it for many reasons.  First, I love the in-house sausage sold at the Whole Foods.  I tend to steer clear of most packaged sausages because of the junk that comes along with them (nitrates/nitrates, MSG, propyl gallate — say what?).  But the Whole Foods sausage I buy contains none of these mysterious items.IMG_0411

Second, the recipe contains only “good carbs,” by which I mean beans, legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.  Both the barley and the chickpeas in this recipe are loaded with fiber – important for digestive health and also good for fat loss – and vitamins and minerals.  In fact, I find soups are a great way to experiment with all those good carbs you can find in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  Ever try cooking with wheatberries?  You should!  You could easily swap out the barley for them in this recipe.

Oh and here’s a cook’s tip:  barley and a lot of other whole grains can take a LONG time to cook.  Make a huge batch and then freeze leftovers in smaller portions for future use.  I find that it helps to freeze them in zip-top plastic bags in a thin layer, as the increased surface area makes for faster thawing.

The third thing I like about this recipe is the rainbow chard.  I think I read recently that “chard is the new kale.”  When you look at all it has to offer, the reputation is warranted.  One cup of cooked chard has four grams of dietary fiber (15% DV) and is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, among others.  Pregnant women – who need about 50% more iron in their diets than non-pregnant women – should know that a one cup cooked serving offers four milligrams of iron, or 15 percent of their DV (22 percent for non-pregnant women).

Now, I always make my own chicken stock, but I appreciate that I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to this sort of thing.  🙂  I really do think it tastes way better than what you buy in a can or carton, but I appreciate the time and effort that goes into making it.  This may spell F-U-N for me, but it won’t for everyone!  So feel free to use what makes most sense for you!

And if you have little ones and you’re worried they won’t eat it, here’s a picture that begs you to reconsider. 🙂

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Hearty Chicken Sausage Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 links Whole Foods made in-house spicy Italian chicken sausage (about 1 – 1 ¼ lb)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard, roughly chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups barley, cooked
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a stainless steel dutch oven over medium heat.  Slice the sausage into rings, then cut the rings in half.  Add the sausage to the pan and saute until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove the sausage from the pain but leave any remnants behind.

Stir in the onion, celery, carrots, and a bit of salt to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to free up any sausage remnants. Saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5-10 minutes.  And the rainbow chard and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  And the chicken stock, barley, and chickpeas.  Stir.  Bring to a low simmer.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Feel warm and happy.

 

Nutrition, Pregnancy, Recipes

Quinoa Salad (Vegan)

I love salads.  In part because there are no rules.  A salad is the perfect thing to make when you need to clean out your pantry or produce drawer.

Salads are also great if you’re an expectant mom suffering from food aversions because of their flexibility.  Distasteful ingredients can be easily swapped out for others that you find more palatable, if not dropped altogether.  Can’t stomach garbanzo beans?  No worries.  How about cannellini beans or maybe some green lentils?  Mushrooms make your face turn green?  Perhaps some roasted squash is in order instead.

And you know, I actually like to think of food aversions as food opportunities.  When your formerly A-list foods drop to the D-list, pick up something completely new (to you) the next time you’re at the grocery store, and start experimenting with it.  You can even start your experimentation with this recipe!IMG_0249

Speaking of that recipe, the one I’m providing today happens to be vegan, which is perfect for breastfeeding moms with a baby who suffers from a cow’s milk protein intolerance, a common allergy in babies and children.  I actually whipped up this recipe when my own daughter suffered from this allergy, which she (thankfully!) outgrew (See photo to right.  I miss the hair).

And this salad is so nutritious!  It’s packed with kale, which has been hailed as a pregnancy “superfood.”  One cup of it contains over 100% of the recommended daily value of three key antioxidants: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.  Expectant moms suffering from constipation may find relief from its five grams of fiber.  Kale also provides 15 percent of your daily value of calcium per cup.

This dish is also quite high in protein, despite being vegan.  This is especially important for pregnant or breastfeeding moms who struggle to get enough protein in their diets, either because they can’t eat meat or dairy or because they prefer to avoid it.  Owing in large part to the garbanzo beans and quinoa, the dish has 19 total grams of protein, which is 27 percent of the recommended intake for pregnant women and 42 percent of the recommended intake for non-pregnant women.

Shortcuts:  If all the chopping below sounds too arduous, don’t forget you can typically find your veggies pre-diced in the grocery store.  I’m a bit of an odd duck – I find the chopping kind of therapeutic.  🙂  And frozen chopped kale works equally well as fresh.

Quinoa Salad (Vegan)

  • 1 cup cucumber, diced (about 1/2 large or 1 small cucumber)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced (about 1 bell pepper)
  • 3/4 cup green onion, chopped  (about 3 green onions)
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups crimini mushrooms, diced (1  1/3 cooked)
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 9 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons of garlic,divided
  • 1 lemon, juiced and grated
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine cucumber, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, garbanzo beans, and cooked quinoa in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and half teaspoon of salt and saute for about 10 minutes, until mushrooms shrink to 1/3 their original size.  Add 2 teaspoons of garlic and immediately turn off the heat.  Stir 1 additional minute.  Add to the salad bowl.

Saute kale in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium high heat for five minutes, or until desired doneness.  Add 2 teaspoons of garlic and immediately turn off the heat.  Stir 1 additional minute.  Add to the salad bowl.

Stir salad ingredients.  Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and two tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

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Nutritional Information (per serving)*

  • Energy (calories): 372
  • Total Fat: 4 grams (5% DV)
  • Saturated Fat: 0 grams (0% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 69 grams (22% DV)
  • Dietary Fiber: 11 grams (52% DV)
  • Protein: 19 grams

*Daily values (DV) are for the general population.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional energy, particularly in the form of protein, than non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding women.

Nutrition, Recipes

Salmon Tartines (and a nutrition lesson)

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’ve got another recipe for ya today: Salmon tartines.  For those with an interest in nutrition, I’ve got one of those too.

Salmon is one of those pregnancy super foods.  It’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote neurological and visual development for your baby.  It might also lower your risk of preterm delivery, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression.  Are you breastfeeding or planning to do so?  Omega-3s are also used after birth to make breast milk.

Omega-3’s are great for you even if you’re neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.  Before we go further, let’s step back.   “Everybody” knows that omega-3 fatty acids are good, right?  But just what are there anyway, and why are they important?  Here’s the simple version.

The Skinny on Omega-3’s

Omega-3’s are – wait for it – fat.  Fats do important things, like give us energy and enable our bodies to absorb vitamins and minerals.  Fats also build brains, make hormones, and make healthier skin.

Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat.  They come in two broad types:  saturated and unsaturated.  Consumption of saturated fatty acids is positively correlated with the risk of heart disease while consumption of unsaturated fatty acids is negatively associated with that risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are two types of unsaturated fatty acid.  They are “essential fatty acids,” meaning our bodies cannot make them; they must be acquired from the food we eat.  Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, flax, and walnuts.  Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils and peanuts.

The problem with the diet of most Americans is that we consume too many omega-6 fatty acids relative to the amount of omega-3’s that we take in.  In fact, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio has increased substantially over time.  The rise in processed food consumption helps explain this shift, since processed foods tend to be loaded with vegetable oils.

When you consume too many omega-6’s and too few omega-3’s, you’re at a greater risk of developing a host of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and cancer, to name a few.  Conversely, you can reduce your risk of these conditions by increasing your relative omega-3 intake.

So the next time you’re considering hitting the McDonald’s drive thru for dinner, stop at the grocery store and pick up some salmon instead.  (And use it to make my recipe!).

Oh, and if you’re pregnant and worried about taking in too much mercury, don’t be.  The levels in salmon are relatively low and safe for pregnant women.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

When you find yourself at the seafood counter, try to get wild salmon, rather than farm-raised.  Why?  Because farmed salmon has a much higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.  This recipe calls for coho, but feel free to swap it out for another type (e.g. king, sockeye), but avoid farm-raised if possible. There are also environmental reasons to opt for wild salmon (assuming it’s sustainably fished), but that’s a topic for another blog!

Ok, onto the good stuff…

Salmon Tartines (serves 2)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup plain, low-fat yogurt
  • ½ t dried dill
  • 2 t capers, chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 6 oz coho salmon
  • 3 slices wheat bread
  • 1 cup arugula, packed
  • salt and pepper

Set oven broiler to high.

Mix garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Whisk together yogurt, dill, capers, lemon juice, onion, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Brush salmon on both sides with ½ tablespoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle fillet side with salt and pepper.  When the oven is ready, broil the salmon for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the fish turns opaque.  Remove from oven.

Heat remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick saute pan.  Add arugula and a dash of salt.  Saute arugula until it wilts, about 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Cut bread in half.  Brush the half slices of bread with the garlic-infused olive oil.  Toast slightly under the broiler or in a toaster oven.

When the salmon is cool enough to touch, break it apart gently, using your fingers.  Stir the salmon into the bowl with the yogurt mixture.

Top each piece of bread with equal amounts of the arugula and then equal amounts of the salmon.

IMG_0446        IMG_0464

Nutritional Information (per serving)*

  • Energy (calories): 406 calories
  • Total Fat: 20.8 grams (32% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 3.7 grams (18% DV)
  • Protein: 25.4 grams (51% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 28.8 grams (10% DV)
    •    Fiber: 2.5 grams (10% DV)

*Daily values (DV) are for the general population.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional energy, particularly in the form of protein, than non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding women.

Kids, Nutrition, Recipes

Move over, Quaker.

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I’m loath to feed my two-year old anything that comes out of a box.  It’s only a slight exaggeration to say I think Cheerios are evil.  We could talk more about that, but that’s another post for another day.

Instead I’ll step away from my soapbox (you’re welcome!) and share with you my make-ahead oatmeal recipe that works around the Cheerios problem.  It has a great mix of all the macronutrients and a hefty dose of vitamins and minerals.  Blueberries – an excellent source of antioxidants – are one star ingredient.  Two other heavy hitters are spinach and kale, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  The ground flax seeds and chia provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your little one’s cognitive development.  I only half-joke when I say I’d be ok if this was the only thing Siyona ever ate!  In fact, these oats often round out lunch or dinner at our house.

I’m guessing I lost a few of you when I listed spinach and kale among the ingredients.  I know it sounds strange!  But I promise you the flavor of the dark, leafy greens is pretty subtle.  And if you’re worried, you can always use less than I do.  Here’s another tip: I always have a bag of frozen spinach and a bag of frozen kale on hand in my freezer.  I toss them into SO many recipes to easily up the veggie content – soups, smoothies, stir frys, chili, even my chicken enchiladas!

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I do so love the Trader Joe’s!!  The wild blueberries are nice for this because they’re small.

It’s a little bit time consuming relative to making instant oatmeal, but you can make a big vat that you keep in the refrigerator for several days. (And, anyway, instant oatmeal is gross!)  Not only is warming optional, I actually prefer it cold.  The recipe is also very flexible.  I make my oats with water, but you could easily use milk.  I use almond butter, but if your child (or you! you can eat it too!) has a nut allergy, sunbutter would make a fantastic substitute.  And consider my quantities suggestions.  Do everything to taste.

So give it a whirl, report back, and tell me what you think!  I know I have at least one fan.  🙂

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And if you like this post, do me a solid and repost!

Souped-up Breakfast Oats

  • 1 ½ cup regular rolled oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 T almond butter (I prefer roasted and salted)
  • ½ mashed banana
  • 2 t chia seeds
  • 2 t freshly ground flax seeds
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ⅓ – ½ cup frozen chopped spinach
  • ⅓ – ½ cup frozen chopped kale
  • ½ cup frozen wild blueberries

Cook oats in water on stove top until desired doneness.  Kill the heat.  Add almond butter and stir until incorporated (do this BEFORE adding the frozen ingredients as it will blend better).  Blend in the mashed banana, chia, flax, and cinnamon.  Stir in the spinach, kale, and blueberries.  Cool to room temperature before refrigerating.