With the cooler temps approaching, warm & cozy meals are a must! Many parts of the country are experiencing a dip in temp but here in South Texas we are still above 95 degrees! Despite this, I am making all the Fall foods and this recipe is one delicious bowl of comfort! I’ll pretend I am eating it in front of a warm cracking fire as the leaves are falling outside. Can you tell I miss the PNW much? I do love my seasons, so Texas has been an adjustment for me. In South Texas we basically have Spring and Summer weather, which has its perks but there is something about the leaves changing color, a cooler breeze, and cozier nights that transitions you to a new season. So in preparation of these cooler months to come, this coconut curry “meatless” meatball dish is the perfect meal for a cozy night in.
Coconut and curry are some of my favorite flavors. I love the creaminess coconut adds and curry provides an aromatic warm spice flavor. Together these two make a great combo creating the creamiest flavorful sauce inspired by Halfbaked Harvest’s version. Plus curry provides a ton of health benefits, more on this a little later.
This dish takes a little effort, especially if you are making your meatballs from scratch. In Halfbaked Harvest’s original recipe she uses homemade chicken meatballs however I opted to make this recipe 100% vegetarian so created my all time favorite Lentil Meatballs from Sprouted Kitchen. These meatballs combine lentils, parsley, eggs, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs then cooked in the oven to create a dense but flavorful meatless meatball. It really works perfectly in this creamy coconut curry sauce! YUM!
To save time I use precooked lentils from Trader Joes. I also double the meatball recipe and freeze the extras so the next time I make this I can whip it up in half the time. You could easily double any meatball recipe you are using and do the same thing. Or skip the meatball making process and buy your favorite premade frozen meatballs. Either way, this dish is really all in the sauce!
MEAL PREP TIP: Precooked lentils & double the meatball recipe to freeze and next time you can have this dish ready in 15 minutes!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CURRY
Curry is a well know spice typically used in Indian and Thai cooking. Curry is not a single spice but a combination of several spices; turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, etc. Each curry may have a different blend of these spices and therefore may vary some on the potential health benefits.
Turmeric tends to be one of the most researched spices in curry. Turmeric is what gives curry its yellow color and contains the active compound called curcumin; powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Most well known benefits of curry are:
Relieves joint pain
Detoxifies the liver
Fights cancer causing free radicals
Delays degenerative diseases
If you are not a fan of curry but want to reap the benefits you can buy turmeric or curcumin capsules sold at most health food stores. The capsules are actually more potent than curry powder itself and would allow you to see the benefits sooner.
If you like curry, I encourage you to try this recipe if not for the health benefits than the delicious warm bowl of curry and meatballs!
Enjoy and be sure to tag #platefulnutrition in your recipes!
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so I have a deep love for salmon. I realize now living in Texas how truly spoiled I was to have fresh wild caught salmon at my fingers tips. My absolute favorite salmon is the Copper River King Salmon that appears around late spring/summer months.
“Every year (May – September) king, sockeye and coho return to the Copper River to make the arduous 300-mile migration up the turbulent waters in order to spawn. Because the Copper River is so long and steep (gains an average elevation of 12 feet per mile) these fish must pack on sufficient fat reserves to fuel their epic journey–resulting in salmon that is rich in heart- healthy omega-3 fatty acids and flavorful oils.”
Copper river king salmon oozes fat and literally melts in your mouth. This fish is also very odorless and only needs salt & pepper to let the natural flavors shine. I had the opportunity to have an overwhelming supply of this fish when I lived near Oregon. My husband’s uncle is a fisherman and dropped of pounds of this gold at our doorstep regularly. Boy was I spoiled! The funny thing is my husband did not like salmon at the time, so I got this delicious fish ALL to myself! Today my husband still gets sad over this lost opportunity now that he enjoys salmon. Copper river king salmon is very expensive but if you ever see it I highly recommend you splurge and savor this delicious seasonal salmon, best money spent in my opinion!
Now that I am in Texas my salmon expectations have had to adjust a little. I continue to buy wild salmon because I do believe it has superior benefits and taste to farm raised. My local Whole Foods will carry wild king salmon and I have also purchased Trident Seafood’s frozen wild salmon sold at Costco or Trader Joe’s frozen wild sockeye.
For this recipe, I used the Trident Seafood’s frozen wild salmon but any type of fresh or frozen salmon will do for this recipe. I find previously frozen salmon can be less desirable than fresh so I really like this recipe, all the fresh herbs add a lot of flavor.
This recipe not only adds a wonderful herb taste to the salmon but it comes together in under 15 minutes and only requires minimum of 3 ingredients; herbs, butter & salmon!
I especially enjoy this salmon over the kale & chard caesar salad! Tossed in the creamiest yogurt-based caesar dressing and pecorino cheese, YUM! This salad & salmon combo really makes the healthiest weeknight meal. Omega-3 fats from the salmon and all the nutrient-dense vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients like iron, calcium and fiber from the dark leafy greens. Best part is this meal whips up quick and the salad makes enough for leftovers! Kale and chard both hold up super well with dressing. You can prep a big bowl of this salad, store it and it will still be crunchy tomorrow.
HERB ROASTED SALMON RECIPE:
You can use really any extra fresh herbs you have on hand; basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, dill, chives, etc….all combos work but I only choose about 3 herbs to use at a time. My favorite combo is fresh dill, chives and parsley.
In a oven-safe pan like stainless steel skillet or cast iron add the butter and herbs and place into 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes until the butter is melted and herbs are sizzling in the butter but not burnt.
Make sure to thaw your salmon if previously frozen. Once butter is melted place thawed salmon skin side up and return to the hot oven for another 4-5 minutes.
Carefully remove the hot pan out of the oven and gently pull away the salmon’s skin. It should pull away fairly easy if not return salmon to oven for another minute or two.
Once the skin is removed, season salmon with salt and pepper. Flip salmon over and season again. Return salmon back to oven for another 3 minutes or until done depending on the thickness of your filet. You should see some white fat oozing out and filet glistening.
Remove from oven once cooked through and finish with extra fresh herbs. Feel free to spoon the extra herby-butter over the salmon before serving. I find this cooking method keeps the salmon very moist.
For a variation of this recipe, I used What’s Gaby Cooking All Things Seafood seasoning sold at Williams Sonoma. This Herb rub is great if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand or maybe only 1-2 fresh herbs this seasoning can give a boost of flavor if needed, but not necessary.
Let me start by saying vitamins cannot replace a healthy diet. One should first work on eating a balanced diet to ensure vitamins & minerals are coming from real food sources. There is a synergistic effect to eating whole real foods, meaning when you eat food the nutrients are better absorbed and work better together in your body then any supplement. With that being said, vitamins are really to help enhance an already healthy lifestyle or in some cases repair or replenish low nutrient levels due to inadequate intake or poor absorption of those nutrients.
My goal when providing these recommendations was to optimize health while minimizing risk of harm. Keep in mind, the vitamins I’ll review are not meant to cure or replace medical advice, nor replace a healthy balanced diet. Each person is unique to their own vitamin needs and these recommendations are my own opinion. I am not being paid or sponsored for the vitamins I recommend in this post. If you have questions about a specific disease, I recommend you speak with a primary care provider and/or a registered dietitian who is familiar with your medical history.
Vitamin & mineral supplementation is definitely a hot topic and there is so much misinformation out there about it. Did you know vitamins & supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry and one that is not regulated by the FDA. For this reason, you need to be cautious of what brands you buy. Some vitamin brands fill their capsules with fillers claiming a certain potency when in fact there is none or very little of that particular nutrient in it. And because there is no regulation of vitamins, companies can get away with this. There are third-party testing agencies that some vitamin companies will opt into to insure quality and validity to consumers. Interestingly, there is no set standard for what vitamins or dose needs to be included in a multi-vitamin so brands can vary a lot. It really is no wonder consumers are often confused on what vitamins and minerals to supplement. So for this reason, I have done the research on all the vitamins and supplements I recommend to ensure quality ingredients and trustworthy companies.
Many of you have been requesting information on what vitamins I take, so here you go, a giant long post all about it!
What Vitamins I Take
P R E N A T A L
This is an important one, well for women who are of child-bearing age, plan to become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding to help fill in any nutritional gaps.
Prenatal brands vary a lot and some do not contain adequate amounts of vitamins or minerals. Most important factors to look for in a prenatal are active forms of folate and B12, calcium, iron, choline, iodine, vitamin D and omega-3 DHA. A good prenatal is especially important and is one vitamin I wouldn’t skip on even if you eat a balanced diet, you want to ensure optimal stores during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
There are two types of people:
those who absorb folate
those who do not absorb folate and require a little extra special attention
I fall into the number 2 type. I recently found out that I was deficient in the MTHFR enzyme (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), a key enzyme in the metabolism of folate. Basically without this enzyme I am not able to metabolize folate for absorption which can lead to low levels and most importantly pose risk in early pregnancy during the neural tube development.
What I have figured out is that not all prenatals include methyl-folate, most are folic acid (a synthetic form) or folate (natural form) but both are not methylated so in in my case neither will work. Since learning of this I have found a couple brands of prenatal vitamins that already include methyl-folate. I would recommend everyone to take methylated folate & methylated B-12 (look for L-methylfolate & methylcobalamin) even if you don’t know that you have the MTHFR deficiency. About 60% of people have this deficiency and many don’t know. So I encourage anyone taking a prenatal to include it, just in case.
Fats get a bad rap. Many Americans are under the misconception that all fat is bad. But not all fat is the same. The truth is fat is required for the nourishment of your skin, hair and nails, let alone it’s involved in so many metabolic processes at the cellular level. Under the umbrella of fat there are many types and each has a different role and effect on our health. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats or PUFAs are an important fat that is essential to our body because our bodies cannot create this nutrient naturally therefore we must eat foods rich in omega-3 or supplement.
Omega-3 is made up of two important fats: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Both have significant research showing poor health and adverse outcomes if low but if stores are adequate can benefit the immune system, reduce inflammation, improve heart and brain function and more!
FACT: Did you know over half your brain is made up fat!
It’s important to incorporate foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids as these foods contain other beneficial nutrients that all work together synergistically. Foods high in omega-3 include flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts to name a few. These plant-based sources of omega-3 are great but may not be as well absorbed as some other sources so its good to include a variety of omega-3 in the diet. Better absorbed sources of omega-3 include fish oil (EPA/DHA supplementation) or fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackeral, sardines).
Sometimes diet alone may not suffice and additional omega-3 supplementation may be required, one of those times is during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many studies have linked positive effects of supplementing with omega-3 DHA to support brain function and cognitive development in babies. So I regularly recommend those trying to conceive or are pregnant to take a minimum of 300 mg DHA & 220 mg EPA daily. Everyone else (excluding kids) needs a combined amount of 500 mg EPA/DHA daily.
I recommend Nordic Naturals because of their high quality and strict purity testing.
Although, its not truly a vitamin it gets synthesized in the body and acts more like a hormone. Everyone needs it so we must find ways to incorporate it from sun, food and/or supplement. Vitamin D has its hand in thousands of critical processes in the body. It’s no wonder its been linked to so many health conditions related to the heart, brain, muscle, bones, etc.
There are three ways to get vitamin D either the sunshine, diet or supplementation but either way you get vitamin D it is in the inactive form. Your body converts inactive vitamin D through your liver and kidneys where the active form can then be used throughout your body. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is generally the preferred form and is naturally made by our bodies when our skin gets exposed to sun. In addition, D3 may be added to foods like fortified cereal & fortified milk or organically in foods like egg yolks and fatty fish (wild-caught salmon, tuna, etc.), to name a few. Get a full list of vitamin D rich foods here.
FACT: The active form is called 1,25-hydroxy vitamin D and is made by the kidney
Consequently, vitamin D plays a role in thousands of cellular functions and benefits go far beyond just bone health. Research has shown benefits from cardiovascular, digestion, immunity, pregnancy to mood disorders and prevention of certain cancers. Vitamin D is one nutrient you really don’t want to become deficient on.
Because vitamin D plays such a vital role in our health, I usually recommend people supplement, especially those that live in certain parts of the country that due to the rotation of the sun may not be able to absorb vitamin D year round. For example, in the Pacific Northwest you can only absorb vitamin D about 5 months out of the year. But just because you live closer to the equator does not mean you have adequate vitamin D stores. Darker skinned people and elderly absorb less vitamin D and anytime you wear sunscreen you are blocking vitamin D absorption. Please don’t take this as a message to not wear sunscreen. But experts say that exposing your arms or legs 10-15 minutes in unprotected sun can help you absorb natural vitamin D, then after 10 minutes or so apply your sunscreen. In either case, no matter where you live I would recommend having your vitamin D levels checked through out the year and supplementing as needed.
Read more about vitamin D & safe sun strategies here .
Many multi-vitamins, prenatals or fish oils now include vitamin D making it easier to get this essential nutrient. Generally 1,500 – 2,000 IU daily for adults is adequate to maximize benefits (according to Endocrine Society). If your vitamin D levels are low you may need a higher dose and in some cases a prescription to get a therapeutic dose. It’s best to get vitamin D levels tested and discuss supplementation with your doctor or dietitian that is familiar with your medical history.
Gut health 101: establish “good” bacteria in the gut aka Probiotics.
Probiotics are live active bacteria that helps to maintain healthy gut flora. By maintaining a healthy gut “microbiome” (as experts like to call it) it promotes increased colonization and improved immune function by preventing bad pathogens from crossing the gut barrier into your blood. A low “good” bacteria count may be caused by reasons related to health, poor diet, and/or use of antibiotics that disrupt the gut microbiome and increase susceptibility to suboptimal health outcomes.
Besides immune benefits probiotics and a healthy intestinal flora can help improve vitamin/mineral absorption and improve many digestive and intestinal issues like bloating, irritable bowel, & diarrhea for example.
FACT: 1/3 of immune system starts in your gut
Food sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and fermented beverages like kombucha, to name a few. Unfortunately, most people do not eat these foods often enough to keep their gut well colonized with good bacteria. Yogurt is a great source of lactobacillus and acidophilus but limited as its does not provide a more broad spectrum variety of probiotics. I first suggest trying to fill your diet with as many food sources of probiotics but supplementing a probiotic will likely provide a more well rounded variety of microbs to really help your gut flourish.
In order to induce the activity and growth of the good gut microbes what you feed your gut is just as important as what probiotics you use. Without prebiotics your gut flora will not colonize and grow. Think of prebiotics like the fertilizer to probiotics. By eating whole foods rich in fiber the healthy gut flora can thrive and multiply. Prebiotics fortunately are found in many plant-based whole food sources like whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
FACT: the average person has about 40 trillion microorganisms in their body
In conjunction with diet I chose to use a probiotic because I do not consistently eat probiotic-rich foods. However, there are hundreds of probiotics on the market each containing a different concoction of probiotic strains and strengths.
5 Tips for Choosing a Probiotic:
Look for 10-20+ billion CFU live microbes. I know this sounds like a lot but many of these bacteria won’t survive past the gastrointestinal tract. Double check the CFU/expiration on the back of the bottle to ensure you are getting the potency you need. Some manufactures claim 5 billion CFU on the front but really the CFU can be half that amount after manufacture date or expiration date.
Find a probiotic with multiple strains. This ensures you are getting a wider spectrum of bacteria which will better help colonize your gut.
Enteric coating or some form of special encapsulation that protects the bacteria ensures higher survival rate of the microbes as they enter your stomach acid.
Refrigerated or not? This really depends on the manufacturer. Some non-refrigerated probiotics are formulated with a special blend and encapsulation to be shelf stable but not all shelf probiotics are this way. Most shelf probiotics have a lower potency and likely lower bacteria survival rate. Refrigerated probiotics are seen as superior because they are more likely to have more live active bacteria and maintain CFU potency longer.
Choose a trustworthy probiotic brand that has proven research, with well documented probiotic strains in there products, like the ones I recommend below.
There really are no negative side effects of taking a probiotic. You are just colonizing what good bacteria your already have for improved health. If you’ve never taken a probiotic you may want to consider starting at 5 billion CFU and working your way up to prevent any possible bloating. Below I’ve included a few of the Probiotics I’ve used and like.
Honestly, if you eat a well rounded healthy diet and you’re in good health you likely do not need too much else. I try to keep my supplementation to a minimum and try to get what I think I may be lacking from my diet. Everyone’s body and absorption level is different, so what might work for one person doesn’t for the next. You have to do what feels right for your body. But as I have said before, if feel you are deficient in any nutrient you should get your labs drawn & discuss this with your doctor or dietitian that knows your medical history.
Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below 🙂
Energy bites with matcha? Yes! This happened and they are sooo good! You might think this is taking matcha too far but wait until you try these yummy little balls of peanut butter, chocolate, and matcha all rolled up into an easy nutritious bite!
These are the perfect little bite of energy and great for a healthy on-the-go snack providing a punch of healthy good-for-you ingredients. The matcha flavor is so subtle that besides the energy balls being slightly greenish, you may not even realize you’re eating matcha but you’ll reap all the health benefits! Plus, all the other ingredients are wholesome and good for you like whole grains from oats and omega-3’s from chia seeds. These bites are tad sweet from the honey and dark chocolate pieces and deliciously flavored by the peanut butter! Did I mention this recipe is gluten-free and vegan!
These little bites are incredibly addicting and two-bite size makes it perfect for popping into your mouth for a quick boost of energy. Best of all these are super simple to make and no-bake. I repeat: NO-BAKE! Plus a one-bowl clean up, double win! All the ingredients go in the food processor and rolled into bite-size balls and boom you’ve got yourself a tasty treat!
HOW TO MAKE THE SIMPLEST MATCHA ENERGY BITES:
Pulse your oats and coconut flakes.
Add in peanut butter, chocolate, honey, chia seeds, and matcha powder. But feel free to change it up how you like; almond butter, maple syrup, white chocolate or flaxseeds.
Pulse everything up, until it resembles a course crumble. Now your ready for rolling your bites.
Once all your dough is rolled into little balls, pop into the freezer to harden up. I store mine in a zip lock baggie in the fridge but you could leave them in the freezer too. The dough makes about 25 little balls.
That’s it! How simple was that!? Now you have a nutritious and wholesome energy snack that is much better for you then a highly processed protein bar or energy drink. I hope you make these and if you do be sure to tag @platefulnutrition!
Matcha is becoming super popular. It’s no longer just limited to your lattes and teas, you can find it in protein bars, energy bites, smoothies and more making it easier to enjoy all the benefits from this green superfood. I’m big fan of matcha not only for the health benefits but I love the earthy taste of matcha. My favorite way to enjoy matcha is in the form of a latte. By using almond or coconut milk I find the bitterness fades into a subtle sweetness. Since $5 lattes at the coffee shop aren’t really in my budget I’ve come up with my own deliciously creamy version for home. I actually think it’s better than the coffee shops and best of all and I can enjoy this warm drink as I sit in my comfy pants and slippers and slowly sip with a book in hand – its the perfect cozy situation.
Not only is matcha powder a beautiful vibrant green it boasts of an impressive list of nutrients and health benefits to go along with it. Such as, antioxidants, increased mental clarity, improved cognition, liver and heart benefits to name a few. So lets take a closer look as to why matcha is so stellar.
Why Drink Matcha
Well, besides it’s beautifully green color and earthy taste, matcha is considered a superfood. This green powder is an antioxidant powerhouse! You might be familiar with regular green tea and know that green tea is good for you because of all those antioxidants. Well similarly, matcha has antioxidants but on steroids. One serving of matcha has as many antioxidants as 10 cups of regular green tea! Essentially Matcha is green tea powder but harvested and processed differently. The matcha leaves are specially harvested and then the whole leaves are ground making it more concentrated then just brewed green tea leaves.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are your body’s defense agents to fight toxins from pollution, chemicals, and radiation that we are constantly exposed to day to day. In particular, a potent antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (say that 10 times fast!) abbreviated EGCG is found to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity and matcha contains this powerful antioxidant.
A lot of what we know at about matcha is because powerful antioxidants found in green tea and blueberries for example have been studied for years and matcha contains these same antioxidants but at an even higher potency.
While matcha has become a trendy drink, I think it’s important to understand some key benefits to have a better purpose for incorporating matcha into your diet. Matcha can enhance an already healthy lifestyle but don’t expect this to cure disease, although those claims may exist there are no scientific studies to prove this. Think of matcha more as a dietary supplement to compliment already healthy habits. Benefits of matcha may help restore your bodies integral well-being and bring harmonious balance. Meaning it may help decrease stress, bring calmness and focus and may enhance brain function and memory.
Matcha itself has limited research but because matcha contains similar antioxidants to green tea studies do exist showing green tea may improve heart health, liver function and mental health. But remember one single health food is not a fix-all. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats is key to maximize the potential of matcha.
While matcha does have a lot of health benefits it may not be for everyone. Matcha has its own distinctive flavor, slightly grassy, earthy tasting, somewhat bitter followed by a lingering sweetness. Some people find matcha too bitter however adding matcha to foods and beverages helps to minimize it’s pungent flavor. I really enjoy using matcha in the form of a latte. I find using almond milk offers a nutty sweetness that balances out the matcha perfectly. Equally delicious you can use coconut milk which has a creamy sweetness that really made the matcha latte a silky dream. So either almond or coconut milk you can’t go wrong with!
Also, matcha contains caffeine but has a slow release compared to other caffeinated drinks like coffee. Matcha has a lot less caffeine than coffee, only 30 mg/teaspoon compared to 150 mg per 8 ounce cup coffee.
Tips For The Perfect Matcha:
Purchase only the organic communal grad matcha: this ensures the highest quality process and pure matcha. Other forms may be a blend and may not contain the same benefits. I use Jade Leaf Matcha, as seen in the photo above. This is a high quality organic communal matcha that has a great taste.
Some low grade matcha brands may appear dull or dark. A good quality matcha should be bright green.
If you plan on making matcha lattes regularly, I would recommend investing in a Japanese bamboo whisk, I have Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo whisk. It is delicate whisk made specifically for matcha to perfectly smooth and blend matcha. You can use a standard whisk but make sure you blend the matcha well so there are no lumps.
How To Use Matcha
Preparing matcha is simple. I usually prepare the dairy-free milk in a small saucepan while I get my matcha ready. I put 1/2-1 tsp matcha in a mug and add 2 tbsp or so of hot water and whisk in a “z” pattern with my bamboo whisk until the matcha is smooth, lump free and frothy. Then once your milk is heated add to your mug and stir.
If a matcha latte isn’t your thing, there are several other ways to incorporate it into your diet so you can unlock the benefits. Try adding a teaspoon into your smoothie or try my recipe for Matcha Energy Bites which has a subtle matcha flavor but you reap all the healthy benefits of matcha!
Let me know if you enjoyed this post below and if you make this delicious drink please tag #platefulnutrition, I’d love to see your creations!