BBQ Chickpea and Quinoa Bowl with Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers

This incredibly simple dish combines two things that I love; BBQ and bowls.  Buddah bowl recipes are so easy to make, very filling and can be packed with loads of  protein and fiber.  To reduce inflammation, I stick with plant based proteins.  They are cleaner and don’t create an inflammatory response in the body like animal proteins do.

Because chickpeas contain lots of fiber- they help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.  This means you’ll be less likely to graze on junk which could help you in your quest to lose some excess pounds. Chickpeas also help to stabilize blood sugar levels and offer protein, vitamins and minerals including manganese, folate, copper, iron, zinc and more. They are the heart of this dish, along with the quinoa which- also offers a great serving of protein and fiber.

I wilted down three cups of spinach to add to the dish.  Spinach is rich in iron and actually has about 3 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces.  If you want glowing skin- add spinach to your diet.  It is an excellent source of  folate, chlorophyll, Vitamin E, magnesium, Vitamin A, fiber and Vitamin C. Due to their antioxidant abilities, Vitamins C, E, and A are especially great for your skin.  The magnesium in spinach is helpful in calming nerves and anxiety. In fact, a magnesium deficiency can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

To make this dish, sauté 1/2 cup chickpeas with 1/3 cup sliced grape tomatoes in BBQ sauce over a low flame until tomatoes are soft.  To cook the quinoa, combine 1 cup quinoa (this will cook up to about 2.5 cups- use the left overs for other meals or with fruit for breakfast) with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1o minutes. In another pot, wilt down 3-4 cups of spinach.

If you want the roasted red pepper sauce it’s incredibly easy.   In your blender combine 1/3 cup roasted red peppers with 1/3 cup Earth Balance ‘mayo’.  Blend.  Taste and add a dash of salt and garlic if you would like.

When everything is done, assemble your bowl.  My portion was

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tomatoes
  • 3 cups baby spinach, wilted down
  • 1/2 of an avocado, sliced
  • Drizzle of roasted red pepper cream sauce on top

My portion had about 14.5g of protein.

About Ultimate Fit Zone’s Boot Camp in Monmouth County

Four different methods of training, one membership at our boot camp gym. Now you can keep your workouts fresh and challenging.  Take advantage of Cross Training (Zone 360), Interval & Circuit Training (IT 360) High Intensity Interval Training (HEAT) and Spin (priced separately).  Scroll down to read descriptions of each.

Your unlimited monthly membership at our boot camp/cross training gym in Monmouth County also entitles you to one complimentary consultation each month with our Holistic Nutritionist on staff.  Get questions answered about nutrition, weight loss and more.  We have special support for beginners.  For more information about beginner boot camp fitness please give us a call at 732-428-2111.

 

 

Better Than Tuna Salad – Raw, Vegan

From the time I was in my early 20s, I’ve always been interested in how our diets could affect our appearance and health. I’m not talking about being overweight or skinny, I’m talking about glowing skin, shiny hair and a healthy heart.  I learned early on that what we put into our bodies had as much of an effect on our outward appearance as what we put on our bodies (lotions, creams, hair serums, etc).

Before switching to a plant-based diet, tuna was a staple in our house.  I valued it’s high protein content for a quick and easy snack.  After learning about the high mercury content found in many fish, especially tuna, I started to realize that I wasn’t being very cautious with what I was putting into my body.  I began looking for other sources of protein that didn’t come with pollutants and heavy metals.  That’s when I discovered the beauty of the plant based diet.

Like many people, I associated protein with animal flesh.  Now I know that the association isn’t very accurate.  Protein is found in nearly all foods.  Proteins are strings of amino acids that are found in nearly all things we eat from the earth including vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and more.  Even better- I learned I could trade the side-effects of animal based protein (example mercury from fish) for side-benefits of plant-based protein (all of the detoxifying and beautifying benefits of the vitamins and minerals found in foods from the earth).

I’m not a huge fan of the ‘fake meats’ sold in many supermarkets. I prefer to get texture from natural foods like mushrooms, nuts and seeds.  One of the health food stores near us sells a ‘mock tuna’ salad made up of cashews and sunflower seeds and other seasonings.  My husband tried it and loved it.  I was happy to try to recreate the recipe as the sunflower seeds and cashews offer numerous health benefits including:

  • cardiovascular health
  • healthy cholesterol levels
  • magnesium for energy and to calm nerves and anxiety
  • selenium for thyroid health
  • vitamin E for beautiful hair and skin (and heart health)
  • zinc for a healthy immune system

Canned tuna just can’t offer these same health benefits.

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Better Than Tuna Salad - Raw, Vegan

Course lunch
Servings 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds *Soak for 4 hours or more
  • 1 cup cashews *Soak for 4 hours or more
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice *or sub water if you don't have
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt *omit if you have high blood pressure
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill
  • 2 tablespoons dulse or nori rice seasoning *I used nori rice seasoning because I keep it in the house for stir fry dishes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, dried mustard

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor.  Pulse until smooth. Taste.  Add more dill or ground mustard as needed.  

About Ultimate Fit Zone’s Boot Camp in Monmouth County

Four different methods of training, one membership at our boot camp gym. Now you can keep your workouts fresh and challenging.  Take advantage of Cross Training (Zone 360), Interval & Circuit Training (IT 360) High Intensity Interval Training (HEAT) and Spin (priced separately).  Scroll down to read descriptions of each.

Your unlimited monthly membership at our boot camp/cross training gym in Monmouth County also entitles you to one complimentary consultation each month with our Holistic Nutritionist on staff.  Get questions answered about nutrition, weight loss and more.  We have special support for beginners.  For more information about beginner boot camp fitness please give us a call at 732-428-2111.

Protein Packed Portobello Steak with Creamy Polenta and Kale Salad

If 40 is the new 30 and silver/grey hair is now in style- I think it’s safe to add portobello mushrooms to the list of trends that make us look and feel younger.  Food is no longer just a palette pleasing opportunity.  The realization that the foods we put inside our bodies can help us look better on the outside means that our diet is perhaps just as important as our hair stylist.

Portobello mushrooms offer a huge opportunity for us to literally nourish our bodies from the inside out every time we enjoy a meal.  Packed with protein, vitamins and minerals- this vegan-portobello-mushroom-steak-recipemushroom should become a staple in your weekly meals.  Bellos can help keep blood pressure at a healthy level, reduce cholesterol, are great for your skin, keep your heart healthy and boost your immune system.  Take a look at what the world renowned Dr. Mercola has to say about this mushroom:

 

“…Portobellos are an excellent source of copper, which your body needs to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen through your body. They also offer three important B-complex vitamins: riboflavin for maintaining healthy red blood cells; niacin for supple skin and properly functioning digestive and nervous systems; and pantothenic acid, which aids in the release of energy from the fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the food you eat.

Just one cup of mushrooms has the potential to release at least 15 different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. A single Portobello contains more potassium than a banana – 630 mg per serving – which helps maintain normal heart rhythm and muscle and nerve function, as well as a balance between your fluid and minerals. This in turn helps control blood pressure.” (source)

My favorite way to eat portobello mushroom caps is lightly brushed with olive oil and then grilled on the indoor grill pan for just a few minutes on each side.  These mushrooms release a lot of moisture and will wilt quickly- so be careful not to overcook at too high of a temperature or for too long.

Serve over creamy polenta (recipe below) and an iron-packed kale salad and you have a meal that has about 15 grams of protein (2 mushroom caps, 1 cup polenta and about 2-3 cups kale salad), loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease fighting anti-oxidants.

FOR THE POLENTA:

  • 2 cups of corn grits
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • A sprig of rosemary (do not chop)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add the two cups of corn grits, while stirring, and immediately reduce heat to a very low simmer. Stir in the butter, rosemary, salt (if using) and nutritional yeast. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

About Ultimate Fit Zone’s Boot Camp in Monmouth County

Four different methods of training, one membership at our boot camp gym. Now you can keep your workouts fresh and challenging.  Take advantage of Cross Training (Zone 360), Interval & Circuit Training (IT 360) High Intensity Interval Training (HEAT) and Spin (priced separately).  Scroll down to read descriptions of each.

Your unlimited monthly membership at our boot camp/cross training gym in Monmouth County also entitles you to one complimentary consultation each month with our Holistic Nutritionist on staff.  Get questions answered about nutrition, weight loss and more.  We have special support for beginners.  For more information about beginner boot camp fitness please give us a call at 732-428-2111.

Traditional Tempeh Bolognese Sauce – Vegan & Gluten Free

This traditional tempeh bolognese sauce is very authentic tasting, packed with protein and goes amazing over pasta OR zucchini noodles for a low carb option.  This is as high or higher as any tempeh-bolognese-recipe-veganbeef bolognese and it eliminates your intake of harmful residues found in animal meats including antibiotics, synthetic sex hormones, environmental toxins, cholesterol and more.  This is such a clean way to enjoy a heart ‘meat’ sauce.  Even meat-eaters have told me that they absolutely LOVED this version and would definitely make it over a traditional beef bolognese.

The original recipe is from TheMuffinMyth.com 

Since sauces tend to thicken as they sit, I modified the recipe slightly to include crushed tomatoes.

 

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Traditional Tempeh Bolognese Sauce

A vegan and gluten free on the classic beef bolognese.  Packed with protein and flavor, this sauce will satisfy any pasta lover. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine gluten free, Vegan
Servings 6 people
Author ultimatezone

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion Diced (I like vidalia)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (I buy mine already minced)
  • 1 Package organic, non GMO tempeh- crumbled by hand Let the tempeh become room temperature so it's easy to crumble)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can diced tomato (The can is approximately 411 g)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes Same 400-415g size
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (You may need more water- this is to dilute the sauce to a consistency of your liking)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the onion.  Saute 2-3 minutes until it softens a little. Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tempeh crumbles. Stir all together to incorporate flavor of onions and garlic into the tempeh.  Let all cook together about 5 minutes.  Add oregano, thyme and chili. Stir together and cook for a minute.  Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, nutritional yeast and a little bit of water (as needed).  Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes. 

 

 

 

Sundried Tomato and Herb Chick Pea Salad

vegan-chick-pea-salad-sandwich-ideaThis is a really good, quick recipe to make that can satisfy may desires.  You can have this Italian inspired chickpea salad over pasta or brown rice with some balsamic vinaigrette, as a sandwich or even spread onto a bagel. Because it’s made with chick peas and white beans, it’s high in protein and fiber.  Eating a diet high in protein and fiber will help you feel full for longer periods of time.  This means you’ll be less likely to snack and crave junk foods.

I was going to make just a regular white bean and chick pea salad with some Earth Balance mayo, lemon juice and parsley…but I wanted something different and then I got the idea to do sundried tomatoes.  I had mine over short grain brown rice with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Other ideas would be to add in broccoli or wilted spinach.

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Sundried Tomato and Chick Pea Salad

Course lunch, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author ultimatezone

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz can chickpeas- rinsed and drained well
  • 1 14 oz can canellini beans- rinsed and drained well
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan mayo
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6-7 Whole Sundried tomatoes (mine were packed in oil, I drained them as much as possible first)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and process until well incorporated. 

About Ultimate Fit Zone:

UFZ is a cross training and boot camp gym in Monmouth County NJ.  We are owned and operated by husband and wife team, Eddie and Stacey Albert.  Eddie is a long time and well known personal trainer in NJ and Stacey is a certified holistic nutritionist.  The gym offers high intensity boot camp classes coupled with health focused weight loss and nutrition programs to help members get the most out of their training.

Agave Cornbread Muffins

These agave cornbread muffins are sweet, buttery, moist and delicious.  Applesauce replaces butter and eggs giving them a light fluffy and sweet taste without the harmful fat and cholesterol.  Agave is a lower glycemic sweetener that works great in place of refined sugars and syrups.

This recipe is slightly modified from the original recipe on AllRecipes.com

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Agave Cornbread Muffins

Servings 6 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup Agave or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray non-stick spray on your muffin tin.

  2. Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together in a mixing bowl.  Add the applesauce, almond milk and agave nectar.  Whisk together.  Slowly whisk in the canola oil. Pour 1/4 cup of mix into each muffin cavity.

  3. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center.

Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili (Vegan) Over Wilted Baby Spinach

With fall around the corner and winter fast approaching, I’m in the mood to experiment with all different types of chili dishes.  Chili is a quick and easy way to get a good portion of protein, vegan-sweet-potato-chilihealthy carbohydrates, fiber and veggies.  It’s everything you want on your plate combined into one simple and healthy dish.  Making it in the crockpot is an added bonus. I put everything into the crockpot in the morning and by dinner time, it was cooked to perfection.

Using Beyond Beef Feisty Crumbles instead of turkey meat or ground beef saves you over 100mg of cholesterol per serving.  Cholesterol is the stuff that clogs up our arteries, when consumed in excess, and causes the nation’s number one killer- heart attack. You won’t miss the cholesterol and you certainly won’t miss the taste.  This chili tastes as authentic as they come and I don’t even think meat eaters will notice the switch from beef to Beyond Beef feisty crumbles.

But wait–there’s more…everyone knows that chili is best enjoyed with sweet, buttery cornbread!  So how about a recipe that is sweet, buttery tasting but without the damaging saturated fat and cholesterol??  Pair the chili with Agave Cornbread muffins and I promise you’ll be going back for seconds!

I slightly modified this recipe from the original version found on anomadsdream.com

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Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili Recipe (Vegan)

Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can diced tomato
  • 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Add more for extra spice)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (If you don't have- do 2 teaspoons paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or omit)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink sea salt
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (Peel and cut into chunks)
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 14 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 14 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 package Beyond Beef Feisty Crumbles (or omit)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in your crockpot.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Optional- add Daiya cheddar shreds or avocado on top. To add extra veggies- serve over wilted spinach.

Recipe: Kale Caesar Pasta Salad (Vegan)

I’m always looking for ways to get more kale into my diet.  Per calorie, it has more iron than beef, it’s loaded with age defying and disease fighting anti-oxidants, it’s high in fiber and calcium and it’s a vegan-kale-caesar-saladsuper anti-inflammatory food.   If you’re someone who doesn’t love the taste of greens- you’ll like this salad.  The vegan Caesar dressing is so tasty that anything it touches instantly becomes delicious!

I made a large batch to have enough for the week, so I used an entire 12 oz package of tricolor rotini plus about 1/2 of a bunch of organic kale.  Just cook the pasta according to the package.  Remove the kale leaves from the stems and chop them into bite sized pieces.  I also added in chopped English cucumber, tomato and orange bell peppers.  Toss everything in a large bowl and then add the Ceasar dressing. I used disposable prep gloves to massage the dressing into the kale leaves. It helps soften them and enhances the flavor a bit.  The recipe for the dressing is below.

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Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing

Chloe Coscarelli's simple yet insanely delicious vegan Caesar dressing. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (I used minced garlic- 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white miso (This gives the dressing its salty flavor- if you don't have, make and then adjust salt accordingly)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until fully incorporated. 

Heart Healthier Smashed Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Mexican food is one of my favorite types of food to eat, but let’s face it, it’s loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol.  Even since going vegan, I’ve always found a way to get my Mexican fix, and I’ve found it’s much easier on your arteries too.  So you don’t have to follow a vegan diet to try out this recipe. You just have to want to protect your heart and yourself from being America’s number statistic- a heart attack victim.

Much of the fat in Mexican food comes from the cheese that is loaded on everything.  Yes, it’s delicious and gooey, but cheese wreaks havoc on your system in the form of inflammation and arterial damage. The next culprit is sour cream, which I have omitted entirely from my Mexican feasts because there is enough flavor in my dishes, and this one too, that you don’t need it.

Using Daiya Pepper Jack Shreds instead of real cheese, you cut out 100% (!!!) of the cholesterol from cheese and about 40% of the fat.  That’s a huge savings!

Vegan-Quesadilla-recipe
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Smashed Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Broccoli Recipe

A heart healthier version of your favorite Quesadillas.  Any veggies will do if you're not a broccoli love. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • Flour Tortillas You will need two tortillas per quesadilla. The recipe makes enough for about 8+ quesadillas
  • 5 Sweet Potatoes boiled and peeled
  • 6 heads broccoli chopped into small florets
  • 2 cups black beans rinsed, drained
  • Daiya Pepperjack Shreds
  • 1/2 tsp Each: Garlic powder, chili powder, salt & cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, or until soft enough for a fork to go through easily.

  2. Chop broccoli heads into small florets.  Toss with veggie broth and roast at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, until soft and slightly crispy.

  3. In a large bowl, smash the sweet potatoes until smooth but a little chunky.  Add in 2 cups of black beans and smash a little more,  you still want the texture of the black beans so don't smash too much.

  4. Add in all of the spices and fold together to incorporate. 

  5. Take a flour tortilla and spread a thin to medium layer of the sweet potato and bean mixture over it.  Add a handful of broccoli on top of that and spread out to make sure broccoli is distributed throughout the tortilla.  Sprinkle the Daiya Pepper Jack cheese on top.  As much or as little as you want. I would say no more than 1/4 cup though. Place the second tortilla on top and press it down a little. In a heated skillet (spray with non stick spray), cook the quesadilla about 3 minutes per side, until each side is golden with a slight crisp. 

  6. Cut into 4 pieces and serve with avocado and salsa. 

Colorful Pasta Salad with Antioxidant Rich Veggies and Vegan Caesar Dressing

Vegan Caesar pasta 1This rich vegan Caesar dressing can definitely take any pasta salad to the next level. I absolutely love Caesar dressing on almost anything.  This vegan version cuts out the saturated fat and cholesterol of eggs and cheese that are found in traditional dressings. Plus the organ, non GMO tofu gives it a protein kick.

I layered colorful veggies such as tomato, yellow pepper, red pepper and English cucumber on top of my rotini pasta underneath before mixing it all together.  This was AMAZING- and it’s al thanks to the dressing.  Obviously you can use any veggies you want.  My husband doesn’t even like tomatoes or peppers but with the dressing he gobbled everything up.

I actually doubled the recipe below and used an entire box of rotini.  You can use the recipe below with about 1/2 the pasta or a little less.  I also drizzled a little balsamic dressing over the pasta with the Caesar.

This Vegan Caesar dressing is from the cook book Chloe’s Cookbook by Chloe Coscarelli:

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Vegan Caesar Dressing

Creamy and savory vegan Caesar salad dressing from Chloe's Kitchen cookbook. 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Silken Tofu
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until everything is combined and smooth.

 


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