Posts in: Healthy Eating

Diet Friendly Date Night Dining

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There are so many great restaurants here in Northeast Florida, but some are a little easier on the waistline than others. Here are three choices from different parts of our region….we know there are many more, but figured this would get you started.

The Present Moment Café: St. Augustine makes a great date night across the board, and this little gem of a raw food restaurant will both surprise and inspire with its unique menu. Order a bottle of wine and enjoy a long meal without the guilt.

*Taverna: * Located in San Marco, this restaurant is focused on rustic Italian cuisine that is best described as modern Mediterranean. Light and bright, there are both small and large portion options as well as a variety of gluten free menu items as well.

Café Karibo: This charming restaurant in Fernandina Beach has one of the best lentil salads around, as well as a variety of other wonderful flavorful healthy items on their eclectic menu. The ambience is very intimate, perfect for a romantic night out.

Winter Soup Recipes

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There is nothing better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day. Here is a few great recipes that will warm your soul, and boost your health. Recipes from

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
• 1 small onion, diced (1 cup diced onion)
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
• 1 large apple
• 1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped (5 cups)
• 4 cups vegetable broth (I used full sodium)
• pinch of nutmeg
• Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, add 1 tbsp olive oil over low-medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another couple minutes on low. Add chopped apple and carrots and cook for a few minutes more.
2. Add the vegetable broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.
3. Carefully transfer this mixture into a blender (or you can use an immersion blender probably), add a pinch of nutmeg, and blend until smooth. You might need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your blender. You don’t want the soup more than halfway full or it might explode through the top. Make sure to allow steam to escape through the top of the blender lid too.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also thin the soup out a bit with more broth. Serve and garnish with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Makes 5 delicious cups!

Spicy Broccoli Dal

• 1 cup red lentils, uncooked (masoor dal)
• 2/3 cup sweet onion, chopped finely
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 2 tsp mustard seeds
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or other light-tasting oil)
• 4.5 cups chopped fresh broccoli (shaved stems and florets)
• 4.5 cups vegetable broth (I used low-sodium)
• Kosher salt, to taste 2 cups almond milk, unsweetened/unflavoured (or milk of choice)
• 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice + lemon wedges for garnish
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp Garam Masala 1 tsp Tumeric
• Paprika, to garnish


1) In a medium sized pot, bring 4.5 cups of water to a boil and add vegetable bouillon cube. Stir until dissolved. Alternatively you can use already prepared bouillon.
2) Add oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the uncooked lentils, chopped sweet onion, cumin, and mustard seeds. Cook on low-medium heat for about 6-9 minutes until the mixture begins to sizzle and the mustard seeds begin to pop a bit. Be careful not to burn this mixture and reduce heat if necessary. The lentils will have softened very slightly, but will remain quite firm.
3) While this mixture is cooking, take your rinsed broccoli and peel a stem or two with a veggie peeler. Roughly chop the stem. Roughly chop the florets until you have about 4.5 cups of broccoli. Place the chopped stems and florets into a food processor and process until very fine (see image below).
4) Now place the broccoli and vegetable bouillon into saucepan. Stir well. Add kosher salt to taste- start by adding just a small amount of salt. How much salt you need will depend on whether your vegetable broth was salted or not. I used low sodium broth so I needed about 1.5 tsp of kosher salt. Cover and cook this mixture on low for 20 minutes, checking it frequently and adding extra water if necessary.
5) After about 20 minutes or so, add in the almond milk, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, red pepper flakes, and additional salt (to taste) if necessary. Cook on low for another 10 minutes. You can add a bit of water if it thins out too much. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately garnished with Paprika and lemon wedges. Makes 4-5 cups.

Calorie Count Down

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Here are some great recipes that are less than 500 calories, but filling and flavorful. Happy eating in 2016!

Paleo Shrimp and Grits (from | 269 Calories per serving

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon ghee
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chopped parsley, to garnish

1. To rice your cauliflower, use a food processor fitted with a shredding or grating blade. It can also be done with a regular blade by adding the cauliflower in a few batches and pulsing it into small pieces the size of rice. Set aside in a large bowl.
2. Heat a medium pot over medium heat, then add the ghee and onion. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Add the cauliflower, chicken broth, coconut milk, salt, and pepper.
3. Turn up the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cauliflower is very soft and most of the liquid has cooked off.
4. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and sprinkle it with lemon zest, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss to make sure it’s very well coated.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the ghee. Place the shrimp in the skillet in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute on each side or until they’re no longer pink and are light golden brown.
6. Serve the shrimp on top of the cauliflower grits, add a drizzle of lemon juice, and chopped parsley as garnish.

Thai Beef Salad | Calories 452
1/3 cup jasmine rice, dry
1 pound top sirloin steak
1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
For the dressing:
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 or 2 Thai chili peppers, chopped

1. In a large pot, combine 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup jasmine rice, and bring to a rolling boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from the heat, and after 5 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork.
2. Set your oven to broil, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for your steak. With the oven door slightly open, broil your steak for 12 minutes, then flip the steak and broil for another 5 minutes. Make sure that the juices run clear once you stick a fork into the steak to ensure it has cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, slice and chop all your vegetables, then prepare the dressing. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar, shake well, then pour into a large bowl.
4. Remove the steak from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice your steak into cubes or thin slices, and add the steak to the large bowl with the dressing. Mix well until all the dressing covers everything. Then add the cucumbers, red onions, tomato, and romaine; mix well, and serve into bowls.
5. Serve 1/3 cup cooked jasmine rice on the side, or mix the rice into your salad bowl.
6. Top off your salad with fresh cilantro leaves, and enjoy.

Mexican Chicken – Crockpot | Calories 381 per serving
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves and some stems, plus finely chopped cilantro, for garnish
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus grated lemon zest, for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
3 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs, about 12 thighs
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, minced
Finely chopped green onion, for garnish
Salsa, optional

1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin and cumin seeds, until the pumpkin seeds are popping and the cumin has released its flavor. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind. Set aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, peppercorns, oregano, salt, cinnamon, and cilantro. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer contents of the pan to a food processor. Add the lemon zest and juice, chicken stock, and reserved pumpkin and cumin seeds. Process until smooth.
3. Arrange the chicken evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker stoneware. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. Stir in the jalapeño pepper to taste. When ready to serve, garnish with the cilantro, green onion, lemon zest, and salsa, if you wish.

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