Mushroom Lentil Soup

Sorry I have been a bit MIA this week. It has been very busy here, but I have been working on some new ideas for you all. I recently shared my Butternut Squash Red Lentil soup and since it was such a hit I figured I would also share this Mushroom Lentil soup.
I love how hearty this soup is. It is simple to prepare and will keep you full for a while since it is filled with only good for you ingredients.

Mushroom Lentil Soup
1 Tb olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 fresh button mushrooms, or one package
6 oz tomato paste*
5 cups water
1 cup red lentils
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Cut mushrooms in half and then cut into smaller slices.
Heat olive oil and saute onion and mushrooms in a soup pot till soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, water, garlic powder and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Add in the red lentils. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check if lentils are soft, if not cook a bit longer. The lentils will thicken the soup a lot so you may need to add a bit more water if you do not want it very thick.

*Be sure the tomato paste you buy only has tomatoes as the ingredient, no added sugar or salt.
Also, the kind I used was more of a puree. If you’re tomato paste is very thick, start off with half the amount and then add more if needed.

Enjoy

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Tip Tuesday #9- Easiest Homemade Almond Milk Ever

When I started eating a cleaner diet I realized that I was sensitive to milk. Every time I had a bowl of cereal or cup of coffee my stomach would kill me. I always read about how good almond milk is in comparison to cow’s milk so I gave it a try.

First I tried unsweetened almond milk. I have to be honest- the smell reminded me of dirty diapers, yuck! The taste was odd as well and drinking it plain in a cup was definitely not happening. I tried the sweetened kind and that was better, but really didn’t want to use one with added sugars.

After that I began to make my own almond milk by blending whole soaked almonds with water and straining them in a cloth. The result was much better than the store bought kind, no stinky smell! I added some vanilla and stevia or maple syrup to sweeten and it was pretty good. Problem is it made a big mess. I was left with all this almond pulp that was such a shame to waste. I would freeze it to use at some point or another and never remember till I would clean out the freezer. It also requires you to use 1 cup of almonds for 3-4 cups of water. I really hated blending up my precious almonds for milk that would last MAYBE a week.

That’s when I got this great idea that I am super excited to share! (hence all the exclamation points in this post) If you blend almond butter together with water you get….almond milk! I can go on forever talking about how amazing this is. It is basically mess free, takes seconds to make, and tastes so so so amazing. You only need to use a couple tablespoons of almond butter so no more wasting cups of almonds either. Woohoo!

Check out that froth!

Easiest Homemade Almond Milk Ever

2 Tb unsweetened almond butter
4 cups filtered water

Place water and almond butter in a blender and blend till it turns white.
That’s it!!!! 
I used my magic bullet, so I blend 2 cups at a time since it is smaller.

The result is a frothy, yummy, creamy almond milk that I CAN drink on its own in a glass. Although I mostly enjoy it in my coffee.

Milk mustache coming my way!

If you want you can add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp of sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
I do that sometimes and it is too good!

Before Blending
Blending

This lasts in your fridge 5 days possibly 7, but it never stays in our fridge that long as I drink it all up!
Be sure to give the bottle a shake before using.
You can also use more almond butter if you’d like for an even creamier milk.

Pour into a bottle to store in the fridge

*The brand of almond butter I had at the time was a skinned one and therefore it is a lighter color than most almond butters out there, but the milk will still turn white if you use almond butter with skins that is brown.

In the fridge next to my container of store bought almond milk. The store bought one is chocolate flavored and was my last one in the house so I opened it. But now that I made my own, I don’t know if the other will get used. Maybe i’ll put some in a smoothie.  Just add cocoa powder to the homemade one for the chocolate version!

Weird Concoction!

What would you make if you had to use canned corn, pears, and Mike and Ikes in one recipe? Strange mix of ingredients right! Well this month the Kosher Connection asked us to do just that. At first we were told to use all three ingredients, but a while later they changed it to two out of three. I had long decided what I was going to make so just jumped in and went with it.

The cornbread recipe I use calls for a can of corn that is pureed which adds some sweetness and moistness to the dish. I used that recipe but instead of baking it like a classic cornbread I made them pancake style and topped them with sauteed pears sweetened with Mike and Ikes. The results was actually not all that bad! Since I usually do not bake with much sugar though, the topping was a tad too sweet for me, so only add a few Mike and Ikes if you don’t want it super sweet.

Here goes!
Top with a Mike and Ike 🙂
Sweet Corn Pancakes topped with Mike and Ike sweetened sauteed Pears (that’s a mouthful)

Cornbread/Corn Pancakes:
Adapted from chocolatecoveredkatie
2 cups cornmeal
2 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar (omit if you don’t want recipe to be sweet)
1 cup water 
1 can of corn, drained and pureed with immersion blender.
2 Tb oil
1/4 cup applesauce
Mix together dry ingredients then add in wet and mix till smooth. Heat pan and spray with oil. Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour into pan. As the bottom starts to cook, cover the pan for a minute so the top gets cooked a bit as well. Then carefully flip the pancake and cook another minute till done. Repeat as many times as you’d like. 
Here I made 3 pancakes to stack on top of each other. Then I baked the rest in a pan to have cornbread to go with my turkey chili (yum! recipe is coming…)
For the Pear Topping:
Slice 2 pears and place in a small pan with a handful of Mike and Ikes. I used a few cherry, orange, and strawberry flavored, but mostly the lime and lemon ones (and I will admit to snacking on just a few) Add 2 Tb of water and cook till pears are soft. The Mike and Ikes do not fully dissolve so just remove them once the pears are soft. 
Here is the proof that I used all my ingredients!
Top your corn pancakes with pears and…. Enjoy?!
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite recipe from this Chopped challenge

Fit Friday #7

How to Stick to a Workout Plan and Love it- Part 3
To See Part 1 CLICK HERE
To See Part 2 CLICK HERE
I’ve mentioned this before and I will say it again. You do not need to workout hours on end to see results. It’s about quality, not quantity. You can push yourself and work really hard for 30 minutes or even less and that will be enough for the day. You can workout for an hour if you have time, but a lot of us don’t. In 30 minutes you can get a really intense workout done and after those 30 minutes you will feel so great and so proud of yourself. Just don’t forget that it needs to be something you enjoy. 
Recently, I wanted to get in more cardio so we bought a treadmill. Problem is most people end up using their treadmill to hang their clothing on. I was determined not to let this happen. When I bought it I started slow just walking and maybe some jogging. The key was to enjoy it, not hate it and push off using it. This was great. Then I started running and jogging on it for 30 minutes. At first I liked it, but after some time I got very bored. I needed to think of a new plan ASAP, and I did! I now start off my workout with 15 minutes on the treadmill then do either a tabada type workout and/or strength training and then finish off with 10-15 minutes more on the treadmill. This gave me my cardio, but with a break in between so I didn’t feel bored or annoyed.
Any bit of exercise is better than none. Don’t forget that! This quote says it all:
“No matter how slow you go you are still lapping everyone on the couch”
To Summarize: You can exercise even for a short time to start seeing results and feel great. We also need to be honest with ourselves and realize when something isn’t working the way we want it to, we need to switch it up so we don’t give it up!

Tip Tuesday #9- Steam Your Greens

Getting your family to enjoy greens isn’t always easy. Most of the time they will say no before even taking a bite. But if you make your veggies the right way then you have a pretty high chance they will ask for seconds.

I love green beans. But every time I made them my husband would just take a bit on his plate to make me happy. It was so frustrating since I thought they were great! I would just throw them in a pan and try to make them similar to french fries. They weren’t bad. I liked them, but my husband was not a fan.

So the other day I remembered that I have a steamer basket. I was also reading up on how much more nutritious it is to steam your veggies as opposed to boiling them. So that is what I did. The result? Perfection! My husband loved the slight crunch of the green beans and asked for more! I wasn’t complaining either. Not only were these super yummy, but they were way too easy to make. I’ve tried it with broccoli as well and we love that too.

Steamed Green Beans (or broccoli)
Place about an inch of water in a pot. Place your steamer basket into the pot. Put in your desired amount of green beans. I use frozen green beans/broccoli. Cover and let cook about 15 minutes. It would be less if they are fresh. Taste to be sure they aren’t too crunchy. If they are, just cook another 5 minutes. They should also be a beautiful bright green.

Then place into a storage container and sprinkle on top garlic granules and sea salt. Cover lid and shake.
These are usually my side dish to turkey burgers. I use them as my garlic fries.

Have you tried steaming your vegetables?
I still can’t get over how simple it is and how good they come out.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Cream Topping

As you’ve seen, I am a major fan of oats in all different ways. They are really quick to prepare, keep you fuller longer, and taste so good! It’s warm and gives you that cozy feeling. MMMoatmeal.
Baked oatmeal is a mix between a bowl of oatmeal and a granola bar. It’s crunchy on the top and edges, but soft on the inside. It can also be portable which is perfect for us busy ladies.

Now that I have all this pumpkin waiting to be used (seriously, I heard yelling in the freezer bake with me!!!”) I figured it would be a great combo with baked oatmeal.
This features ingredients and flavors that go with pumpkin pie like dates and pecans. Each bite has some date in it which gives a great burst of sweetness. Yum! It also has a creamy high protein topping that is just too good to pass up.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Cream Topping
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dates, I used 4 medjool dates
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3 Tb pure maple syrup
1/2 dropper stevia (optional, but makes it a bit sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
shake of allspice (I used this instead of the usual pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
3/4 cup milk of your choice, I used unsweetened almond

Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray an 8×8 pan with oil. I used an oval shaped Corningware dish.
Mix together the first four ingredients. Add in the rest and stir to combine.
Pour into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes till top is browned a bit and firm to touch.

Once done, remove from oven and let it sit till cool. You can then cut into 6-8 squares.
Place them in separate sandwich bags to grab on the run and eat cold or room temp.
You can also microwave them a bit and top with this yummy goodness.

Creamy Greek Yogurt Topping
2 Tb greek yogurt
1/2 Tb maple syrup
shake of cinnamon

Stir together and top your baked oatmeal square.

This makes one serving to go on top of the square. You can make more as needed. I just mixed it together right before having one square. It takes seconds to put together.

If you do not have pumpkin you can probably use applesauce instead. It should still taste great.
I haven’t tried, but I am sure other nuts/seeds and dried fruit would go well here in place of the pecans and dates. First try this combo though, it’s amazing!!

Although this recipe does use pumpkin, it’s not the star of the show. But have no fear- I have more pumpkin recipes to share!

Have you ever tried baked oatmeal? It feels like such a treat eating it. As though you have your own piece of cake. I love it and I hope you do too!

Check out my other oatmeal recipes in the recipe tab above.

Tip Tuesday #8- Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Fall is the time to enjoy all those yummy pumpkin dishes. But you need pumpkin puree right? So you go to your local supermarket and pick up a few cans of pumpkin. Super simple.
Eh not for me! We live outside the U.S. right now and finding some of my favorite products, like canned pumpkin, does not come easy. Even if I do locate them in some specialty store it is more than double the price. I still need to buy my kids clothing! C’mon! 🙂

So just like I make my own greek yogurt (yup, also hard to find here), I make my own pumpkin puree. It really is very simple to do and after it’s all done I get more than just 1 measly can. Do you wanna know what I get? Really? It’s almost too good to be true. But please believe me, I don’t lie- usually.

I went to the store and bought a ton of pumpkin. Here they sell pre-cut pieces of pumpkin with the skin on that was cut from a huge pumpkin. I took 4 of these huge chunks. I actually bought the last ones!
After making the puree and measuring them out I got 6 cans worth plus another 1/2 cup of puree. Each can has 1 3/4 cups of puree in them. So that’s 11 cups of puree.

Now how much was this all? Well if I were to buy 1 can it would come out to around 2-3 dollars in the U.S. Here it’s double that. I spent $4 on all the pumpkin I bought! It comes out to around 60 cents for a can of my homemade pumpkin! Now if that’s not a deal I don’t know what is.

Moral of the story? Making your own canned pumpkin is super simple and pocket friendly. Which makes it perfect for those of us who can’t find canned pumpkin or even those of us who can, but rather save the money for something else. This is also made without any preservatives that they put in those cans. Why wouldn’t you make this on your own!?
Now that you heard me talk about how great this is, it may be time to show you how to actually make it.
Here you go!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Cut your pumpkin and remove the seeds. Place them on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake uncovered at 350F for about 45 minutes till a fork can easily go through it.

Let cool and then remove skin. Puree using an immersion blender or food processor. 

The puree may be more liquidy than your average can version so I suggest either letting the chunks of cooked pumpkin sit in a pasta strainer for about 30 minutes to let out some liquid or the other version that I did is to place it in a cloth and squeeze out some of the liquid after its been pureed.

All you have to do next is measure out the amount you’d like and place it in a ziplock bag. Squeeze out all the air and seal closed. Place in your freezer for later use.

After this is done you can now enjoy opening your freezer and taking a peak at all the pumpkin ready to go for some awesome fall recipes.

Don’t know what to do with the pumpkin? I got you covered! Great recipe coming up… 

Decadent Chocolate Truffles (Low Fat and Sugar Free!)

Chocolate. If you can’t tell by now I am a huge fan of chocolate! Lucky for me, I have a husband who isn’t. So that means more for me, yay! When we first got married he knew the way to my heart was a box of chocolate covered anything. So on an anniversary, birthday, holiday, you name it- he bought me a box of fancy chocolates. They were so good and I always had a hard time stopping at just one. I was a nice(ish) wife though and shared the ones with the white chocolate 🙂 But the rest was all mine.

Some years have passed and that box of chocolate is just not as appetizing as it was back then. I am slightly sensitive to milk and the unhealthiness of it all just turns me off and hurts my stomach. But that doesn’t stop me!

I have come up with a super smooth, rich, gooey chocolate truffle that is made with all natural ingredients. I no longer need that box of junk that kills my stomach and adds on unwanted weight. These are the perfect cure for that chocolate craving as well.

I store them in the fridge, but you can also freeze them to have for a longer time and pick one out when that craving hits.
A lot of truffles with dates call for nuts, but I wanted these lower in fat and with a smooth consistency. You can definitely add anything from shredded coconut to peanut butter for a different texture and flavor. Sounds good even thinking about it!

Decadent Chocolate Truffles
1 1/2 cups or 15 medjool dates, pitted and at room temperature
5 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for rolling
a pinch or two of sea salt
1-3 Tb rice milk, you can use any milk or even water
1/2 Tb coconut oil, optional but if you have it-use it!

Start by placing all the dates and 1 Tb milk in a food processor and start blending. You want to blend till it becomes light brown and looks very smooth. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time if needed. Then add in cocoa powder and sea salt. Blend again till mixed it. Add in coconut oil if using. Make sure it is blended really smooth and scrape down the sides as you go.
Place the mixture in the freezer to firm up for about 10 minutes.
Place about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder into a bowl. You can also use powdered sugar, chopped nuts or shredded coconut to roll them in.
To roll into balls I used a small cookie scoop. Place a small amount into your palms and roll into a ball. It may be a bit sticky, but once you roll it into the powder it should be easier to handle.
Roll into your coating of choice and place into little paper cupcake holders or into any storage container.
The size I made came out to 13 truffles.

Enjoy!

Tip Tuesday #7- Making a Meal out of a Salad

When I first started eating clean I began to eat more salads. For the first week or two I literally ate salads for both lunch and dinner. To the salads I added some cut up chicken, cubed sweet potato, nuts, seeds etc. Basically I made a whole meal, just in a salad. The problem was, after eating it the only taste I ended up with waslettuce. I didn’t feel that I actually ate anything, even though there was really a lot in it.

That is when I got a great idea to put my protein and grain on the side! Sounds so simple, I know, but for some reason it made me feel like I was really eating food. Sometimes I put maybe half in the salad, but usually most is on the side and having it there I can actually taste the food, like brown rice. When you mix rice or any small grain into a salad you really lose out on tasting the whole thing and it falls into the background. Therefore the main thing you think you are eating is lettuce and veggies. As much as I love my veggies, I also really like to have some more substantial food to go with it so I feel like I ate an actual meal.

Here are some pictures of the meals I have.

Below is a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers with some dressing. On the side is sweet potato topped with a 1 egg and 2 egg white omelette. I love this combo

As you see sometime I put the main on the side and sometimes I do put it straight into the salad just when I am in the mood for a salad with toppings, like below.

Lettuce, avocado, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas

In general, the key is to fill at least 1/2 your plate with lettuce and veggies. Sprinkle with a little dressing, maybe my Maple Vinaigrette, or just some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then put your protein and grain or other side dish, on the side

Below I have a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, some avocado and a little dressing. On the side is some mashed and spiced sweet potato and a homemade veggie burger (recipe comingI’m still perfecting it).

This tip has helped me a lot. Now, after one of these type of meals, I don’t feel like I just had a salad. I really feel like I had a nice and healthy meal and am satisfied with it.
I hope this helps you
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