No-Bake Granola Bars (gluten-free, low sugar)

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Wow. Let me just start by saying, it’s been a while. This summer has been absolutely insane, but in a good way! I’m working full time at two different locations (both of which I love), beginning my career as a therapist intern, and still conducting personal research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Speaking of which, if you haven’t had a chance to “like” becauseitsgoodforyou’s page on Facebook, you may have missed the link to the article I wrote regarding the relationship between food sensitivities and Autism Spectrum Disorder that was published on Psychologytoday.com. I was working with a mentor for several months to  perfect the article and I must say, I am pretty satisfied with the way it turned out. I also hope I am able to provide a little extra help and insight to those who read the article and are dealing with ASD.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Although I may not have physically been on becauseitsgoodforyou.com, my heart has still been here and I definitely haven’t stopped experimenting in the kitchen. Some recipes have turned out amazing and some were, well, not so amazing. I’ll try to keep up with posting some of the better ones that I happened to snap pictures of before serving to friends (or devouring myself). The no-bake granola bars you see on this post are somewhat similar to my granola nut cookies that I posted back in April although these are actual granola, as they contain oats, and are slightly healthier in my opinion. The core of this recipe stemmed from another blogger’s granola bars  (see: Coco and Tea) and was adjusted to fit my needs. I’ve been on this low sugar kick for the past month so I opted against adding any additional sugar aside from the natural sweetness of nuts, fruit, and a little bit of honey and vanilla flavoring. The first batch turned out way too crumbly and would fall apart after taking one bite. This batch however, turned out just right! I think the almond butter is the secret to binding everything together in this recipe.

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1 cup raw mixed nuts (Brazil, pecan, almond, peanut, macadamia, etc)
• 1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used raisins and apricots)
• 1 cup ground seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower, etc)
• ½ cup raw, creamy almond butter
• ¼ cup sunbutter
• ¼ cup raw honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• dash of salt
• coconut oil cooking spray
• Optional: Chia seeds and/or coconut flakes and/or protein powder

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

• Pour oats, mixed nuts, dried fruit, and ground seeds to a large bowl. Toss well.
• Mix sunbutter, almond butter, coconut oil, salt, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until mixture is well combined.
• Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until the dry mixture is completely covered.
• Lightly spray your hands with coconut oil cooking spray.
• Press mixture firmly into a small baking pan (using your hands is the best and easiest way, hence the coconut oil spray)
• Option: Top with chia seeds, coconut flakes, or sprinkle protein powder for added nutrients
• Place pan in freezer for 20 minutes or until granola hardens
• Cut into rectangles and serve

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Grinding these seeds beforehand and keeping the granola bars un-baked were two very important factors when creating this recipe, as it optimizes the amount of healthy, Omega-3 fatty acids your body can absorb from the seeds. Omega-3’s help control the amount of inflammation in our body, lessening the risk of arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and even cancer.  Incorporating a small handful of nuts every day into your diet can help with weight loss, stress-reduction, reduce the risk of lung cancer, lower cholesterol, assist in healthy heart health, and prevent cognitive decline. A study performed by UCLA even showed that a small handful of walnuts per day could assist with men’s reproductive health. In addition, nuts are a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and B-vitamins.

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Broccoli and Toasted Almond Salad

If you have read my previous posts, you know I’m all about quick and easy recipes. I also eat salads pretty regularly – I pack one up for lunch and bring it to work every day. Usually I use spinach as the base and add various toppings like carrots, cucumbers, fennel, beets, etc., and top it off with some fig balsamic, pomegranate vinegar, or coconut aminos for the dressing. But sometimes I want a salad that has something besides a spinach base, which is why I fell in love with this simple broccoli salad. The only real work associated with making this is toasting the almonds and chopping up some veggies. It can be made in under 10 minutes and is easily transportable. Not to mention, it’s vegan, (almost) raw, paleo, and all that other good stuff. The toasted almonds are definitely the star of this show, so make sure not to skip out on those. This salad is even tastier when you add a little avocado and lemon on top. Also, if you don’t have red wine vinegar, you need to find some. Using RWV for the dressing goes especially well with this dish, although you would be fine using a standard oil/balsamic mix too.

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• ½ Red onion, sliced thinly with a knife or mandoline
• 1 bag broccoli florets, chopped
• ¼ cup sliced almonds
• Red wine vinegar, or other dressing of your choice
• 1 Avocado (optional)
• 1 tbsp Grapeseed oil
• salt and pepper to taste

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

• Pour grapeseed oil into a frying pan on medium heat
• Add toasted almonds to frying pan and toss with oil
• Add salt and pepper while constantly mixing the almonds around the pan. Once they start to darken, take them off the heat and let them cool on a paper towel. Be careful because they will burn quickly!
• Add broccoli, onion, and almonds to a large bowl. Toss with red wine vinegar and top with avocado (optional)

Pretty simple, but oh so delicious!

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU 

Broccoli, in addition to being a great anti-inflammatory food, plays a role in our bodies ability to detox and rid itself of unwanted contaminants. It also contains a strong dose of vitamins A and K, two nutrients that help keep our vitamin D levels balanced. Almonds and other nuts may contain a decent amount of fat, but don’t worry, it’s the good kind. They’re high in monosaturated fats, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. Magnesium is also abundant in almonds and helps improve the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body.

Paleo Style Avocado and Key Lime Pie

A couple of weeks ago my laptop took a turn for the worse. My photos wouldn’t upload, programs would randomly close, and the screen would black out at the worst possible moments. Fortunately, the good people of Apple were able to fix my Macbook and return it to me as good as new! Unfortunately, this little electronic hiccup has prevented me from posting. But while my laptop was in the shop I was busy in the kitchen, and now I’m back with a handful of healthy recipes to share. If you read my last post, you know that I promised to share some Paleo-friendly meals, so I did some research and a little experimenting and came up with a few recipes that I am pretty excited about. Another bonus- Most of these recipes are not only Paleo, but also vegan/vegetarian. The next few posts will be dedicated solely to food, so make sure you’re checking back often for new meal ideas! Now, without further ado….

AVOCADO AND KEY LIME PIE (Paleo/Vegan/Raw) – This is an interesting take on a traditional key lime pie because the “frosting” is made of avocado and coconut oil, the crust is gluten-free, and it’s raw. These little bites are great as an appetizer, dessert, or even as a breakfast snack. Don’t let the green tops fool you, these guys have a little sweetness and a lot of deliciousness!

Paleo Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 2 Avocados
• Juice from 1 lime
• ½ cup coconut oil
• 3 tbsp raw honey
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ cup dates, pitted
• pinch of salt

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

*before beginning this recipe I like to prep the honey and coconut oil by mixing them up a bit in small bowls and letting them sit to help soften. You can also throw them over the stove for a few seconds.

• Add avocado, lime, coconut oil, and 2 tbsp honey to a bowl. Blend well (this is the filling)
• In a food processor, mix together dates, coconut flour, salt, and 1 tbsp honey (this is the crust)
• Press crust mixture into lined or greased muffin pan
• Spoon in filling mixture on top of crust
• Freeze for 1 hour
• Remove pies from muffin pan and serve!

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.comAvocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Coconut flour is a great gluten-free, grain-free substitute for baking. It’s packed full of fiber, helps improve digestive regularity, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also contains the same healthy fats that are in coconut oil / coconuts and has been shown to boost metabolism. Avocados are another source of healthy fat and fiber. In addition, they contain a third of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and half the recommended dose of vitamin K.

There’s plenty more where this came from. I’ll be posting more Paleo recipes every couple of days. Stay tuned!

Green Coconut Smoothie

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Todays post is going to be short and sweet (literally).  If you read my previous post you know that I’ve been experimenting quite a bit with coconut lately, and I’m so excited to share this amazing coconut smoothie recipe that I finally feel like I’ve perfected. I’ve made many a’ coconut smoothie in my day – coconut milk, kale, and blueberries; coconut milk, peaches, and spinach; coconut milk, blueberries and spinach (you get the idea) – but none of them were anything to write home over. The great thing about this recipe is that it has coconut meat in it, which is the best part of the coconut for you. I guess it was about time to overcome my fear of cracking open an actual coconut, because it was the secret to this drinks delicious success!

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 Young Thai Coconut
• 1.5 cups coconut milk
• 1 tbsp organic raw honey
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 large handful spinach/kale/baby kale

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

Serving size: 2 full pint glasses

Crack open coconut with a sharp knife by “hammering” on all sides and twisting to pop open (be careful!). Drain water from coconut into blender. Scoop out coconut meat with a spoon and place into blender. Add honey, coconut oil, and greens. Blend well.

And that’s it! This smoothie is so good you’ll be craving it every morning (I know I do)!

Enjoy!

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Young Thai Coconut meat contains only 65 calories and is a good source of manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Coconut water contains electrolyte levels similar to those in our blood and was even used for blood transfusions during WWII – It was known as the “fluid of life” among soldiers and medical staff. In addition, it’s also packed with B vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Quick and Easy Super Bowl Snack Recipes

Super Bowl Sunday is not only a day of sports, it’s a day of food. And by food I mean the greasiest, fattiest, meatiest meals out there. Go to any Super Bowl party and you’ll find a bacon-wrapped this or a beer-battered that; Chips and dips and cheese galore! It’s a time when you test out all the ideas you gathered from eating food at the county fair and don’t have to lie about owning a portable deep fryer. According to an article by nwi.com, Americans consumed approximately 11 million pounds of chips and 1.25 billion pounds of chicken wings last year on Super Bowl Sunday. Not to say that you can’t enjoy a bite or two of your friends famous cajun chipotle chili cheese dip, but unless you want to be catapulted into a giant food coma by 3rd quarter, you better incorporate some snacks that your body won’t hate you for eating the next day.

Don’t know what to make? It’s cool. I got you covered.

MINTY CUCUMBER VEGGIE DIP

Minty Cucumber Veggie dip Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• ½ English cucumber (seeds removed)
• ½ cup mint leaves
• 1 large container Greek yogurt (approximately 10oz)
• Lemon (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Minty Cucumber Dip Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

Spoon yogurt into a large bowl. Finely chop mint leaves and cucumbers and combine with yogurt in bowl. Add salt, pepper, and lemon (optional) to taste. Serve with fresh cut veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Cucumbers are sometimes referred to as a superfood because of their endless nutritional benefits. They help hydrate the body, nourish the skin and hair, are a good source of B vitamins, contain cancer-fighting properties, help aid in digestion and weight loss, relieve bad breath, and help relieve gout and arthritis pain. Greek yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and contains healthy bacteria such as acidophilus and lactobacillus.

Minty Cucumber Dip Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

SPICY CHICKPEA POPPERS – These are super quick and easy to make. And they are perfect for nibbling as well as satisfying a craving for something spicy.

Spicy Chickpea Poppers Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 2 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and patted dry
• 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
• 1 tsp cayanne pepper (This makes them moderately spicy. Adjust according to your spiciness needs)
• salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss chickpeas with grape seed oil, cayanne, salt and pepper. Place in large baking dish or cookie sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until they become slightly crisp and golden in color (be careful not to over bake). Add more salt and pepper if needed before serving.

Spicy Chickpea Poppers Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Chickpeas are low in fat and high in fiber. They lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and help promote a healthy intestine. They also are a good source of protein – a benefit to keep in mind if you are a non-meat eater.

CHICKPEA DIP – I had some leftover chickpeas, so I decided to make another chickpea dish. The great thing about this dish is that it’s simple and you have the ability to be creative. Feel free to switch up the herbs or adjust the spices to your liking. You can eat this with fresh cut veggies, crackers, or any other healthy side. It may also go well as a dressing for a sandwich or wrap.

Chickpea Dip Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 cup cooked chickpeas
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (or grape seed, olive, walnut, etc)
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro
• Juice from half a lemon
• Juice from half a lime
• Salt and pepper to taste

Place chickpeas, oil, cilantro, lemon juice, lime juice, and a few dashes of salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse on low until well combined. Spoon into a bowl and serve with crackers, fresh cut vegetables, etc.

Chickpea Dip Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

You already know the health benefits of chickpeas! And cilantro also promotes healthy cholesterol levels by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) with its many antioxidants, essential oils, and vitamins, including vitamins A and K.

BEET CHIPS – I saved the best for last. These are absolutely delicious. In the past, I had a bit of a chip addiction and these help fill the void without adding the guilt. This recipe I actually borrowed from marthastewart.com but added my own touch by including a bit of salt and pepper.  You’ll need a mandoline to slice the beets for this recipe, as well as a vegetable peeler.

Beet Chips Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WARNING: DO NOT wear a nice outfit while making this dish. The beets are difficult to slice and have the potential to go flying. And they definitely like to leave their mark. Washing your hands after handling these guys is going to make you feel like you just did something you only see in horror flicks.

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 2 medium red beets, washed and peeled
• 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp salt
• Small dash of pepper

*Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you may need to cook the beets in two batches. 

Beet Chips Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350°. Thinly slice beets with a mandoline, then toss in a bowl with oil, salt, and pepper. Line beets on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges of the beets begin to dry and curl up. Remove beets and place on cooling rack. They will become crispy as they cool.

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Beets are literally a nutritional powerhouse. They contain vitamins A, B, and C, magnesium, potassium, fiber, iron. and phosphorous, to name a few. They are an aphrodisiac and aid in new cell growth during pregnancy. They have cleansing properties, particularly in relation to the liver. They help prevent cancer. They lower blood pressure. They promote good mental health by containing the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Feeling down, anxious, or tired? Eat a beat. It will help boost your mood as well as provide your body with many, many other nutritional benefits.

Beet Chips Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Now it’s your turn. What are YOU bringing to this years Super Bowl party? Or- Did you try any of the recipes above? Let me know in the comment section below!

Juicing 101: Behind the Scenes

juice cleanse becauseitsgoodforyou.com

There were several pro’s and con’s to my 3-day juice cleanse experiment. On the one hand, I realized that multi-day juice cleanses weren’t for everyone because I didn’t quite feel all the positive effects that I read about in the testimonials. On the other hand, I did learn a lot of delicious juice recipes and even began creating some recipes of my own! My juicing has definitely been up since the cleanse and I even find myself occasionally craving an 8oz glass of nutritional gooddness. While my last post documented my juicing experience, this post is dedicated to sharing some of the recipes I made (drank) over the cleanse. I started out the weekend following the recipes listed in the back of Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss’s book, “The 3-Day Cleanse,” but about halfway through the second day I began experimenting with my own recipes (mainly because I a) started running out of ingredients and b) have a difficult time following recipes exactly). For more juice and meal recipes, definitely check out Sakoutis and Huss’s book. It’s an easy read and has a ton of nutritional information that anyone can benefit from. But anyway, enough with the rambling and on to the recipes!

*If you feel a bit lost after reading that paragraph, take a look at my previous post: Accomplishing Some Things and Failing at Others: Juicing 101 –  here

I’ll start off with my favorite recipe, the tastes-like-you’re-drinking-ice-cream, CASHEW MILK. This was always the last drink of the day, to prevent you from waking up starving the next morning.

WHAT YOU NEED:

• ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour (in 1 cup water)
• 2 cups filtered water
• 1 ½ teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons agave nectar
• pinch of sea salt

PREPARATION:

Drain the nuts and combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend well, until completely smooth. Store in a refrigerator and shake well before use.

BLUEBERRY PEACH – This is another easy recipe you can make in your blender. It’s great as a breakfast smoothie or mid afternoon snack.

Blueberry Peach Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 cup frozen blueberries
• 1 cup frozen peaches
• 1 ½ cups rice milk

PREPARATION:

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

GREEN JUICE – This one you need a juicer for, but it’s still super easy. There may be a lot of greens, but the apples make it sweet.

Green Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Large handful of spinach
• Large handful of kale
• 2 Apples (I used Golden Delicious)
• ½ large cucumber
• Small handful of parsley, stems removed
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION:

Wash all ingredients. Cut the peel from the lemon. Cut cucumber into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Core the apple and cut into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Run ingredients through the juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

SPINACH BLUEBERRY APPLE JUICE 

Spinach Blueberry Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Small handful of spinach
• 10 oz blueberries
• 1 Granny Smith apple
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION:

Wash ingredients. Core apple and cut into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Cut peel from the lemon. Run all ingredients through the juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

CRAZY JUICE – This is where things started to get crazy (obviously)

Crazy Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Large handful of kale
• Small handful of parsley
• 1 cucumber
• 2 carrots
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION

Wash all ingredients. Cut stems from parsley. Cut cucumber and carrots into pieces that will fit through the juicer. Cut peel from lemon. Run all ingredients through juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

There you have it. Five delicious juice recipes to get you started on your juicing journey. Do you have any favorite recipes? Or have you completed a juice cleanse and experienced similar, or different, results? If so, please share!

Happy juicing!

Hearty Lima Bean and Barley Chowder

Bean and Barley Soup. Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Several months back I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and I immediately had to buy the cookbook.  For those of you who are not familiar with Forks Over Knives, it’s a documentary that shares success stories of individuals with major health issues (heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol) who have seen their illnesses literally reverse by becoming vegan and eating only whole or plant-based foods.  Personally, I’ve recently become more of a believer in the “eat right for your blood type” ideology (more about that concept in a future post), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great documentary with some amazing stories shared by people who have integrated healthy eating into their lifestyle and seen incredibly positive results.  Also, studies show that Americans typically eat way more meat and dairy than we should be eating, so incorporating more whole foods and veggies into a diet is never a bad thing.  Another pro is that the recipes taste good. I’ve tried a handful of Forks Over Knives recipes and I must admit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them.  The only negative aspect of the book are the lack of food photos, so I figured I’d share a couple of my own.  I made this soup last week when we had a whole two days of rain and I felt like eating something warm and hearty.  Now we’re back to 90 degree heat and I’m back to eating salads.  California weather is always a surprise.

Bean and Barley Soup. Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

*Note: This recipe makes A LOT of soup. Unless you are making it for a dinner party, or plan on eating it for 3 days in a row (like I had to), I would recommend cutting the recipe in half. 

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 8 cups water or vegetable stock ( I used 4c water, 4c stock)
• 1 cup dry baby lima beans
• 1 cup chopped white or red onion (I used white)
• 1 cup chopped carrot
• 1 celery stock, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup pearl barley
• 1 tbsp crushed garlic
• 1 teaspoon thyme (or another herb. I used parsley)
• Salt and pepper to taste

BEFORE: Soak lima beans in water overnight then drain.

PREPARATION:

1.  Place water and lima beans in a large pot and bring to a boil.

2.  Add onion, carrot, celery, pearl barley, crushed garlic, and thyme.

3.  Bring back to a boil.

4. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 2 hours, or until the broth is creamy and
the barley and beans are tender.

6. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

OPTION: The next day I decided to sauté some mushrooms, garlic, and kale before adding the soup to reheat.  I topped it with a little Sriracha and the juice from a couple lemon wedges – It tasted even more delicious than the first time!

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:

Barley may be used to help in the prevention and management of diabetes by slowing glucose absorption.  It is a great source of dietary fiber. Barley also contains phytochemicals which may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, as well as antioxidants, iron, magnesium, zinc, and other vital nutrients.

Lima beans are also a high-fiber food. They’re considered to be heart-healthy because they are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Lima beans are a good source of protein and aid in digestion.

Enjoy!

The Cutest Little Tapenade Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

I’m a big fan of bite -sized food.  Not only are you preventing a mess from forming around the corners of your mouth, but you’re also tasting every delicious flavor of a recipe- all in one bite!  It’s quick, clean, and satisfying.  And who doesn’t love a good miniature?! Like these baby bella mushrooms, for example:

baby bella mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

On that note, I’ll share with you a bite-sized recipe that I whipped up recently for a friends barbecue.  The host had already prepared an array of amazing food options, but I wanted to contribute by adding a snack that would appease omnivores and herbivores alike.  I immediately thought of mini stuffed mushrooms, and after some perusing around on the internet, I found this olive tapenade recipe that I thought would be a perfect filling!

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

• 3 cups baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and chopped in half
• 1-2 square sheets parchment paper
• 1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted
• 1 1/2 cups green olives, pitted
• 5 cloves of garlic
• 2 tbsp capers
• 1 red bell pepper, roasted and cut into 1″ sections
• 1/2 oz parsley
• 3 tsp lemon juice
• 1/2 oz basil
• 5 tbsp olive oil

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

PREPARATION:

1.  Place olives, pepper, capers, garlic, and about half of the mushrooms stems into a food processor.  Push the “pulse” button about 15 times at 1 second intervals.
*Although a  food processor is the easiest method, it’s not the only one.  You may choose to chop the ingredients up by hand, but it could take you a while.

2.  Add the basil, parsley, olive oil, and juice from the lemon.  Pulse again for about 15 times at 1 second intervals, or until everything looks well chopped. Remove from processor and set aside.

 

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

3.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4.  Place the baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, on to a plate or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
* If you think you can spoon the tapenade on to the mushroom without making a big mess, a baking sheet may be the better option here, so you don’t have to transfer them to one later.  I learned this the hard way. 

5.  Spoon a small bit of tapenade in to the mushroom where the stem used to be.

olive stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

6.  If you haven’t done so already, place mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in oven.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to “sweat” and are soft to the touch.

7.  You’ll probably need to do two rounds of baking unless you have an extra-large baking sheet. If not, wait a few minutes for the mushrooms to cool and enjoy your beautiful (and delicious) bite-sized creation!

olive tapenade stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

olive tapenade stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:

Mushrooms are often used in weight loss programs because they are very low in calories, sodium, and fat, while adding fiber to your body with every bite.  Mushrooms are also a great source of potassium (1 large Portobello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana),  a mineral that has been known to lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of stroke.  Riboflavin, niacin, and selenium are also a part of  the health benefits of mushrooms and aid in the prevention of prostate cancer.1

Although olives have a high fat content (about 15-30 percent), they still offer several health benefits.  For example, olives are abundant in vitamin E as well as polyphenols and flavonoids.  They are also an anti-inflammatory and can prevent against certain cancers and heart disease.2  Olives originated in the Mediterranean, an area that still frequently consumes large amounts of olives and olive products/fats (such as olive oil).  Research shows that people in this region show fewer instances of diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and colon cancer compared to the United States, whose residents typically consume a diet high in animal fats.3

RESOURCES
1. http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/updates/mighty-mushrooms.php
2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/43114-nutrition-information-olives/
3. http://www.everynutrient.com/healthbenefitsofolives.html