Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel Pita

If you’re looking for something new to add to your weeknight dinner rotation, we have your perfect recipe adapted from the minimalist baker (one of our favorite resources for simple, easy meals)

These homemade falafels are…

Easy and quick to make
Kid friendly
Great for a meatless Monday meal
Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates
A great way to add in new flavors and spices
Made from pantry staples (canned chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices and herbs)

This is a fantastic recipe for a quick 20-minute weeknight meal. You might just need to try it tonight…

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup herbs (parsley and/or cilantro)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
Optional: cardamom and/or coriander to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, optional (if you omit, add in 2 Tbs. Tahini instead to help bind)
Oil to pan fry (we like avocado oil for this!)

Directions
Add onion, garlic, herbs and spices to food processor.
Pulse until chopped
Then add drained chickpeas (and flour and baking powder if using) and pulse until chunky mixture has formed (don’t over blend!)
(OPTIONAL STEP: refrigerating for 1 hour before cooking will help them bind)
Scoop out about 2 Tbs. at a time to form 8-12 small disks about 1/2 inch thick
Heat oil in a large pan on stove over medium heat
When oil is hot drop in patties and cook 4-5 minutes per side
Serve warm (ideas below) or store in fridge for up to 5 days

Serving Ideas
On top of a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and tzatziki (recipe below)
In a whole wheat pita with lettuce, sliced cucumber, onions and tomato and tzatziki

5 Ingredient Tzatziki
(Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl and store in fridge for up to 1 week)
1 cup greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dill
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
Salt and pepper

This falafel recipe was adapted from the Minimalist Baker and The Kitchn
Image from Minimalist Baker

Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

Make Ahead Breakfast

Grabbing  a banana and a cup of coffee as you run out the door?

Demolishing a  granola bar in 2 bites while driving to work?

Mornings are the hardest times to eat a complete meal. We’re usually in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare a full breakfast, let alone sit down to enjoy it.

Instead, of relying on a processed protein bar or a piece of fruit, try one of these make ahead breakfasts. These recipes are full of fiber, protein, healthy fats to keep you fueled through your morning.

Check out our favorite easy, make-ahead breakfasts:

The Month Before (freezer friendly): great for preparing in advance in large batches and keeping stocked in the freezer to last a couple weeks.

The Week Before: Take some time on Sunday to prep one or more of these recipes that will last a week in the fridge

The Night Before: If you don’t have anything made in advance, take 5 minutes at night to prep one of these grab-n-go breakfasts for the next morning.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Blueberry Chia Jam

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 12.14.09 PM

If you’re a pancake fan (who isn’t?) then you’ll love this healthy recipe for cottage cheese pancakes.

Here’s 5 reasons why we think this recipe beats traditional pancakes.

  1. You can make them in the blender. Blend, pour, done.
  2. 18 grams of protein per serving (without the jam) and about 22g with it included.
  3. Gluten Free. Use a blender or food processor and oats to make the “flour”.
  4. No added sugars, only a banana to sweeten.
  5. Simple, staple ingredients mean you can whip these up on a random Sunday morning without a special trip to the store. (But this recipe is so easy to make and kid-friendly that we think these would make a great Mother’s Day breakfast in bed treat)

Plus, they taste delicious.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (serves 2)

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (almond, coconut, regular)
  • Coconut oil to cook with

Directions

  1. Make blueberry chia jam (recipe below). While it sits, make the pancakes.
  2. Pulse oats in a food processor or blender until a fine flour forms
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth
  4. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet
  5. Once hot, pour a small amount of batter into pan to create pancakes of desired size
  6. When edges begin to bubble, flip and cook until both sides brown
  7. Place in a warm oven until all pancakes are finished
  8. Serve with chia seed jam (recipe below) and enjoy

Blueberry Chia Jam (makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbs. Chia seeds
  1. In a small saucepan heat blueberries, syrup and vanilla for 5-8 minutes, until a liquid syrup has formed.
  2. Remove from heat and add chia seeds.
  3. Stir well to mix. Let sit for at least 5 minutes (and up to overnight) to allow seeds to expand and absorb liquid. Continue to stir and mix every couple minutes.
  4. Note: Store extra in glass container. Will last up to 2 weeks in fridge.

Resources: Nutrition info calculated from myfitnesspal.com

Recipe modified from ambitiouskitchen.com

Your snacks matter: 5 Snack Ideas For On-The-Go

Snack

Picture this…

You’re starving and running in between work and errands. You don’t have a snack and a meal isn’t going to happen for another hour or more.

What do you do?

Run to the gas station for chips? No.

Something from the coffee shop? Naw.

Swing by a grocery store? For what? A protein bar? An entire bag of trail mix? With the chocolate chips. We can do better….

It can be hard to find a snack when you’re on the run. We can easily end up snacking on treats disguised as snacks (chocolate-y protein bars, premade drinks or coffee shop pastries). When we’re on the go or traveling, having homemade snacks, like our mini frittatas , chia pudding or almond bites isn’t an option.

Here are 5 easy grab-n-go snack ideas you can find at most grocery stores anytime, anyplace:

1. Green Apple + Justin’s Almond Butter

Why: Green apples are lower in sugar than other varieties. Almond butter is higher in anti inflammatory Omega 3’s than peanut butter and also higher in minerals.  Eating fat and protein rich almond butter balances the higher carbohydrate fruit. Justin’s single serving almond butter is perfect for grabbing and eating on the run.

2. Hard Boiled Egg (from the salad bar)

Why: Eggs are high in protein (about 6 grams per egg) and also contain healthy fats in the yolk. This combo keeps us fueled and full. Grab a pre hard boiled egg from the salad bar and you’re on your way.

3: Greek Yogurt + Banana

Why: If you’re wanting a heartier snack, this is the one. Greek yogurt offers a bigger volume of food for less calories than most other snacks. We love Siggis single serving Greek yogurt in plain flavor (low in sugar and high in protein) with banana.

4. Olives

Why: Olives make a satisfying, low calorie snack for when you’re wanting something salty or savory. Try Oloves single serving packets found at Whole Foods or health food stores. Or if you’re at a specialty health food store, grab a couple from the olive bar.

5. Single Serving Protein Powder

Why: Most grocery stores that sell protein powder also sell single serving samples. Pick one up for anywhere from $1-$5, empty into your water bottle and shake. Make sure you read our guide to protein powders, first. It’s an easy way to get in some nutrients, without having to spend much time to stop and eat. (This is a perfect one handed snack if you’re needing to eat while driving!)

Simple Homemade Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burger Image

All those burpees in your BootcampSF workout got you craving a burger?

These simple turkey burgers come together in a matter of minutes, making them an easy choice for weeknight meals. Plus, they’re a lighter and healthier alternative to the red meat counterpart. We love that they sneak in some extra vegetables and are especially kid-friendly.

Cooking tip: did you know that the #1 reason for dry burgers (turkey or beef) is the common mistake of pressing down on the patties while they cook? Make like a chef and leave them alone in the pan until you flip.

Psst…In a previous post, understanding your cravings we discussed all about how to satiate your cravings (including burger cravings).

 

Ingredients
Serves 4
1 lbd organic ground dark turkey meat
1 small zucchini, grated (use a box grater or food processor)
1 large carrot, grated
2 large handfuls spinach, chopped finely (once chopped should be about 1.5 cups)
1 egg, whisked
Πtsp cumin
salt and pepper
High heat oil (coconut or avocado oil) to cook
Buns of choice (whole wheat, Ezekiel, gluten free are good choices)
Toppings of choice (onion, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles)
Condiments of choice (mustard, ketchup, we love primal kitchen avocado oil mayo)

 

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
2. Form into 4 patties (to keep juicy, don’t pack too tightly) and set aside on a plate.
3. Heat oil in Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook patties until browned and cooked through (don’t press down on the burger!), about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate.
4. Serve turkey-spinach patties on buns or lettuce wraps with toppings and condiments of choice

Note: Patties can be formed 1 day ahead and stored in fridge. They also freeze well. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

10 One Pot Meals for Easy Dinners

One Pot Meals

The idea of cooking dinner can be daunting.

We get it.

But often it’s not actually COOKING dinner…it’s the clean up.

Enter the one-pot-meal phenomenon.  There have been entire cookbooks, blogs and recipes created to make the clean up process a whole lot quicker.

We’ve gathered up some of our favorite one-pot-meal recipes to share with you. From hearty meats to vegetable stews to light fish meals, there is something for everyone. The one thing these recipes all have in common….quick clean up.

Take some time a bookmark a couple of your favorite and add them to your meal plan. Then, enjoy a healthy homemade dinner…without the clean up.

BCSF’s No-Dish-Fish – Check out our very own recipe for cooking fish in parchment paper. All you do is wrap your veggies and fish in the paper and bake. Not only does this recipe require only ONE pan, but ZERO clean up.

Vegetable Coconut Curry – Use a Dutch oven or large pot to saute then simmer all the ingredients for this vegetable based curry. Serve with pre cooked lentils or brown rice for a low-fuss dinner.

Greek Lemon Chicken + Rice  – This recipe has you use a pan to cook the rice in the oven (brilliant!). Then you turn up the heat, add the chicken and bake. If it sounds weird, don’t worry – the recipe comes with a quick video that will make you want to run into the kitchen to make this ASAP.

Vegan Pasta with Vegetables and Red Sauce – This recipe adds the pasta, tomato sauce, spices and water to the same pot to cook. Trust us, it works! Then, all you do is add some sauteed veggies (okay, so you used two dishes. BUT no need to deal with a strainer!) and you’re ready to eat.

Martha Stewart’s Black Beans and Sausage – Although this recipe takes a little longer to cook, the ingredients and directions couldn’t be more simple: saute and serve. One pot cooking at it’s finest.

Sheet Pan Fajitas –  Toss all ingredients on a sheet pan and bake. Mexican food in under 30 minutes = happiness.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa – Speaking of Mexican food, try this flavorful spin on quinoa by cooking your vegetables, spices and grains in the same pan. While the dish is still warm, mix with hearty greens (like kale) to complete the easy, healthy meal.

Baked Salmon with Cabbage and Kale – To be honest, there are approximately 5 dishes used in this recipe: a knife, cutting board, bowl, whisk and pan. Regardless, we were impressed by the idea of putting greens and salmon on the same sheet pan to bake.

Steak and Balsamic Vegetables – All you need for a fancy steak dinner is one pan, chopped vegetables, quality steak and your broiler. You can toss all ingredients on the pan to make this a true one-dish recipe.

Shakshuka – A traditional dish of baked eggs in tomato sauce, this one skillet recipe is perfect for when the fridge is empty or needs a clean out. Try adding leafy greens or other vegetables to the sauce for an easy breakfast-for-dinner meal.

6 Easy Ways To Boost Your Nutrients

Feel like a diet overhaul is the only way to be more healthy? Wrong. There is more than one way you can give your diet a kick in the pants. Here are some tips to help give the food you’re already eating a healthy makeover.

1. Soak and cook your own beans

Beans are the staple of many diets across the globe and an essential component of any plant based diet. They’re an excellent source of fiber, protein and many minerals.  Legumes are also high in something called phytic acid. This phytic acid is essentially an outer layer allows for the bean to stay intact through the digestive process. (Why? Beans, just like all plants, want to survive. This indigestible layer acts as their protective barrier). Unfortunately for us, this phytic acid also inhibits our breakdown of beans. The result can be digestive discomfort and missing out on absorbing nutrients. The good news is that soaking dry beans can greatly reduce phytic acid. Soaking also reduces some of the indigestible carbohydrates, making the macronutrient profile of any bean lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein.

Why it’s easy: Buy dry beans in bulk at the store (they’re cheaper this way anyway). Rinse and soak overnight in a bowl. In the morning (or even next evening) throw in a crock pot or regular pot, cover with water and cook away. Cool and freeze any extra in individual containers in the fridge for ready to go recipes, using like you would cans.

2. Dress your dark leafy greens with lemon

You’ve probably heard of stomach acid, right? It’s what helps break down food in our stomach. Just like stomach acid, the acid in lemon juice can help start the process of breaking down rough and fibrous leafy greens. Plus the vitamin C in the citrus boosts iron absorption.

Why it’s easy: Add lemon to your salad dressings or squeeze of lemon on sauteed greens for a boost of flavor.

3. Poach your eggs

Eggs were our food of the week a couple weeks ago. (Check out our BCSF Facebook page #bcsffoodoftheweek posts). And for good reason: eggs are quick to prepare, versatile enough to add protein to any meal and a sustainable animal protein source.  However, cooking eggs on high heat can damage the delicate fats and proteins in eggs. Poaching, soft boiling or soft scrambling is the best way to prepare eggs if you eat them regularly. This lower temperature cooking process keeps fats in the yolks from being oxidized. Also, not all eggs are created equal. Check out the guide we shared on how to understand the labels on your egg cartons.

Why it’s easy: If you haven’t ever tried poaching eggs, it’s one of the easiest ways to prepare eggs (no messy pan to clean). Here’s a great how-to.

4. Take care of your oils

Ever notice that olive oil is always stored in dark bottles? Olive oil (and all other liquid-at-room-temperature-oils) are very sensitive to heat, light and air. These oils can become oxidized by exposure to the elements. Olive Oil should be kept in dark glass containers away from the heat and light to preserve the delicate fat molecules. Use higher temperature cooking oils such as  coconut oil or butter to cook with. Use unsaturated oils like olive or any nut oil for dressings.

Why it’s easy: Keep a small dark bottle of olive oil on the counter for day to day use and any excess in the fridge.

5. Slow cook your meats

Just like with eggs and oils, cooking meats with very high heat can affect the nutritional value. Cooking at gentler temperatures will preserve sensitive fat and protein molecules found in meats. Save charring or BBQing for occasional cooking.

Why it’s easy: Try using your crock pot for a slow cooked stew or soup.

6. Chew your food

The only way to get the benefits of our food is by digesting it. And that starts with chewing. Most of us only chew our food enough to not choke on it. However, for best digestion we should be chewing our food 5-10x longer. Better digestion equals better nutrient absorption. 

Why it’s easy: Start now, with your next meal, and practice chewing a little longer. Slow down to eat and taste your food. With practice, this will become second nature.

Bottom line: It’s time we let go of the healthy verses unhealthy food labels. Our belief around food at BCSF is that there is no such a thing as good or bad food. It’s the quality, preparation and how we eat that makes us healthy. Changing some of our food habits can be just as powerful as changing our food choices.

One Pan Roasted Vegetables and Chicken

sheet-pan-chicken06

We’re big fans of healthy food.

However, long lists of ingredients, dirty dishes and complicated directions…not so much.

That’s why we share recipes that not only have the nutrition tick of approval, but are also low fuss.

(Check out our No-Dish-Fish  or Egg Muffins for more simple recipe ideas)

You might have heard of  “one pot meals”, but have you ever heard of “one pan meals”?

All you do is put all your ingredients (meats and vegetables) on the same pan to roast in the oven.

Brilliant!

Here’s an easy one pan balsamic roasted vegetables and chicken dish to add to your weeknight rotation. It’s easy to make and best of all, quick to clean up.

Ingredients
2 pounds organic chicken thighs and or drumsticks
4 Cups washed and bite size chopped mixed vegetables (onions, carrots, broccoli, potatoes)
3-4 Cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Spread chopped vegetables and garlic onto bottom of 2 large baking dishes (there should be space between the pieces. Too close together and veggies will steam instead of roast and get mushy)
Toss with olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper
Rub chicken with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Lay chicken on top of vegetables and bake for approx. 1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked
(If vegetables need more time, remove chicken and bake longer)
Garnish with parsley

Serve with a side salad and dinner is ready. This would make great leftovers for a brown bag lunch the next day. If you’re vegetarian, check out this roasted tofu and vegetables dish.

(Image via babble.com)

Understanding Your Cravings

Whether it’s salty, chocolate, sweets, meat or carbs, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of craving a specific food.

Sometimes cravings are  social. For example, when it’s #nationaldonutday and after the 10th image of a donut on Facebook, you’ve GOT to have one. Other times, a craving is a red flag. We crave what our body needs.

Here’s a guide to what these cravings might be telling you and how to satisfy them (without binging on peanut butter pretzels):

 

Craving: Salty

What it might mean: Low sodium. This can happen to athletes and active people who sweat a lot. Salt also helps the body retain water, so it’s common to crave salt when we’re dehydrated.

Satisfy with: Start with drinking lot’s of water and electrolyte rich liquids like coconut water. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding more sea salt or Himalayan salt to your food for a couple days. Instead of salty popcorn or chips, try celery (which has a natural salty flavor) with peanut butter and sea salt.

 

Craving: Chocolate

What it might mean: Low magnesium. Cacao the main ingredient in chocolate is rich in magnesium.

Satisfy with: Chocolate! Try organic dark chocolate with 50-70% cocoa. Add unsweetened cocoa powder to a smoothie or make chocolate chia pudding.

 

Craving: Carbs (pasta, bagels, bread)

What it might mean: You’re hungry. Carbs are the human body’s preferred form of fuel. So when we get hungry, we crave the quickest form of energy for our bodies to use: carbs. Craving carbs could also mean you’re stressed or sad. Carbs are the ultimate comfort food (hello mac n’ cheese) so if you’re constantly cravings carbs even when you’re fed, take a look at your emotional state.

Satisfy with: If you’re craving carbs because you’re hungry or just haven’t eaten enough carbs, (aim for about 2 cups of whole food carbs per day) try a baked sweet potato. Other carbohydrate rich whole foods are whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. If you’re craving carbs because your stressed, sad or tired ,try a non-food approach like going for a walk, calling a friend or heading out to your BCSF class to sweat it out.

 

Craving: Red meat

What it might mean: If you’ve been dreaming of a juicy steak or burger, you might be low in iron and/or B12.

Satisfy with: Instead of a greasy diner burger or steak, buy some organic and grass-fed beef or bison at the store and cook at home. If you’re vegan or vegetarian start a B12 supplement and multivitamin with iron.

 

Craving: Sweets (cookies, candy, sugar)

What it means: See carbs.
Satisfy with: Fresh fruit (apples with cinnamon and peanut butter, tangerines, banana or berries). Click here to see what our BCSF trainers reach for for their sweet tooth (like trainer Valeries’ idea for Trader Joe’s “just dried mango”).

 

How do you satisfy your cravings? Are you a salty/savory person or a sweet/chocolate person? Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear.

20 Minute Cauliflower Lentil Tacos

Healthy, 20 minute tacos?

Yes, you heard us right.

Lentil Tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This taco filling made from lentils and cauliflower makes for a hearty, vegetable meal that satisfies when you’re craving tacos (and who doesn’t crave a good taco dinner every once in a while?).

Served in a fresh corn tortilla and garnished with your favorite taco toppings, you’ll have a tasty, healthy alternative to greasy restaurant tacos.

To make this recipe come together in under 20, you can use either pre-cooked lentils (we love the ones from Trader Joes) or your own cooked lentils. For a spicy finishing touch, try mixing 1 teaspoon of the liquid from chipotle peppers canned in adobo with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt.

Try these tacos for your next meatless Monday meal, busy weeknight dinner or lazy Saturday lunch. Either way, they’re sure to please!

Ingredients
(makes about 3 cups of filling or about 6 servings)
1 head cauliflower
2 cups pre-cooked lentils
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. Chili powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
Salt to taste

Organic corn tortillas

Optional Toppings:
Avocado
Cilantro
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Tomato
Salsa
Lime

Directions
1. Prepare the cauliflower by grating with a cheese grater or pulsing in a food processor to break up into small pieces (should be the consistency of like bigger rice)
2. Heat a large skillet and saute diced  onion with a little oil or broth until clear
4. Add cauliflower, garlic and spices and continue to saute until cauliflower is done (about 5 more minutes)
5. Add cooked lentils and saute until all ingredients are warmed and mixed
6. To serve, spoon into corn tortilla and garnish with toppings of choice

*image via cookieandkate, recipe modified from Kate’s Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos