Banana Bread Bars (Vegan, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free)

You know what coffee shop I love??? Gregory’s. They have delicious coffee and reallllly tasty baked goods. You know what I don’t love about Gregory’s Coffee though? The fact that ONE energy ball is $3.50!!!! Every time I buy one of them I savor every bite while simultaneously kicking myself for spending $3.50 on a tablespoon of rolled mush.

These banana bread bars are inspired by Gregory’s energy bites but TBH they don’t taste anything like them. I made these as simple as possible because that’s how I live my life :)

You can spice them up (literally) with cinnamon or nutmeg; maybe add some coconut flakes; get really wild add some chocolate chips - the world is your oyster. If you have a peanut allergy you could also skip the powdered peanut butter and just add a bit more oatmeal to soak up the moisture. Maybe do a little flax meal - hey I’m down for a good time. These bars are great to grab and go in the morning, as a mid-afternoon snack, or a pre-workout bite to fuel you towards your gains. Whatever it is, enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas

  • 2 cups rolled gluten-free oats

  • 3 scoops Naked Nutrition chocolate peanut butter powder

  • 1 T chia seeds

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • dash of salt

  • Optional add in’s: coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. (We ran out of parchment paper so I had to use aluminum foil - just be sure to spray with cooking spray)

  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl

  3. Stir in dry ingredients

  4. Using about 2 T of “dough” form into a rectangle and place on cookie sheet. This should make about 8-10 bars depending on the size

  5. Bake for 12 minutes

  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

  7. Store in airtight container and keep in the refrigerator to last longer. You can microwave for 15-20 seconds to get them all goey again :)

Banana Bread Bars

Banana Bread Bars

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake (Gluten-Free)

I know it’s probably bad to say as a dietitian, but I don’t like to make complicated things in the kitchen. I love BEING in the kitchen, but I like to keep things simple. This mug cake is a great way to make busy mornings super easy. Just mix the dry ingredients at night, wake up, stir in the liquid, microwave and boom!

Or, if you are like me and cannot finish dinner without something sweet/chocolatey, this mug cake is an awesome way to seal the meal.

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix (scroll down to food section)

  • 1 T cacao powder

  • dash of sea salt

  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

  • Toppings (optional): peanut butter, nuts, coconut flake, cacao nibs

Directions:

Note: I normally eat a mug cake straight from the mug, but I wanted to showcase all of its beauty. If you’d like to do the same, spray the mug with some cooking spray or wipe down the sides (and bottom) with coconut oil.

1) Combine pancake mix, cacao powder and sea salt in mug.

2) Stir in almond milk and vanilla extract.

3) Microwave for 60 seconds.

4) Top with peanut butter or any other topping you like and enjoy warm!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts (gluten-free, keto)

You guys know I’m always chatting about brain health and omega-3’s. Well this tasty treat is packed with omegas thanks to a nice dose of hemp hearts. No don’t worry, not that kind of hemp; the only high you’ll be getting from these is a chocolate peanut butter high.

So what are hemp hearts? Well, they’re the edible interiors of the seed that hemp grows from. The hemp plant does share the same plant species as the marijuana plant. But the hemp plant contains nearly undetectable levels of THC. Hemp hearts contain less than 0.3%, while traditional marijuana plants can contain levels upward of 10 to 30%.

Per serving, hemp hearts contain 10 grams of plant-based protein and 12 grams of omega-3 and omega-6 per 30-gram serving (which is more than a comparable serving of chia or flax). Combine this with raw cacao powder, an egg, coconut oil and some peanut butter and you’ve yourself got quite a health bomb.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder

  • 1 cup + 2 T Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • few drops of liquid stevia (optional - I didn’t use stevia but if you prefer sweeter, go for it )

  • 1 T coconut oil (melted)

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • coarse salt

Directions:

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray mini cupcake tin with cooking spray

  2. In a bowl, mix the cacao, hemp heart , eggs, vanilla extract and stevia until well combined

  3. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into each well in the cupcake tin

  4. Press down to form a little cup - shown here

  5. Bake for 10 minutes

  6. While the cups are baking, melt coconut oil and peanut butter in a double boiler

  7. Remove tray from oven after 10 minutes and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes

  8. Remove cups from pan and place them on a plate or flat surface

  9. Use a spoon to fill the cups up with the coconut oil / peanut butter mixture

  10. Freeze for 30 minutes

  11. Remove and sprinkle salt on top

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Does anyone else get annoyed when you look up a recipe and have to scroll for 10 minutes to get past a novel? I get it…blogging. But I’m sure most people just want the recipe……so here you are…. (you’re welcome).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Ingredients: (serves 3)

  • 7 oz firm tofu (I used House Foods)

  • 6 T powdered peanut butter (I used Naked Nutrition)

  • 1/2 cup cacao powder

  • 1 T raw honey (use more or less depending on preference)

  • 1 small ripe banana

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • Optional Toppings: cacao nibs, shredded coconut, banana slices, nuts, peanut butter drizzle

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth

  2. Divide into cups and refrigerate for 30 minutes

  3. Serve cold with or without toppings

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Seed Bites

Does anyone else feel like they need a bite of chocolate after dinner to seal the deal before they feel truly satisfied? I’m not sure what that’s all about but these bites are perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth and potentially, simultaneously lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk of diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity. Yes, you read that right.

Dark chocolate is high in flavanols, (antioxidant) which may actually protect the heart. Dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and copper. As always though, quality matters - look for a higher % like 72-85% and read the food labels. Food companies like to pump in tons of added sugars and other garbage to make their product hyper-palatable. Although there are health benefits to dark chocolate, like most things, there is a point of diminishing returns. Aim for 1-2 small square of high quality dark chocolate per day. For more information check out this site.

Pomegranate seeds are also high in antioxidants. They contain flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanin. Additionally they are rich in vitamin c, fiber, and potassium. So basically you’re doing your body right by making and consuming these bites.

Ingredients (makes ~16 bites):

  • 3, organic 72% dark chocolate bars

  • 1, 5 oz box pomegranate seeds

Instructions:

  1. Break up bars of chocolate and place into a microwave-safe dish (you could also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate).

  2. Heat the chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is melted. I heated and stirred about 4 times.

  3. If you are using a silicon mold, place a cookie sheet under the mold so you are able to transfer it to the freezer once you’ve poured in the chocolate.

  4. Pour ~1 Tablespoon of melted dark chocolate into each square of the silicon mold or lined mini-muffin/cupcake pan.

  5. Freeze for 5 minutes so the chocolate hardens a bit and the seeds don’t just sink to the bottom.

  6. Remove from freezer and spoon ~1 teaspoon of pomegranate seeds into each section.

  7. Cover with another 2-3 teaspoons of melted dark chocolate.

  8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving (or ~15 minutes in freezer to make sure chocolate is completely solidified).

  9. Enjoy (with a napkin nearby).

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Dairy-Free Truffle Cream of Mushroom Soup

If someone asked me what the best meal of my life was, I would without any hesitation say Truffle Ravioli from a restaurant in Long, Branch, NJ. If I was to eat it now however, I’d have to probably take 2 personal days. So I attempted to recreate something as delicious without the GI upset. I give you….

Dairy-Free Truffle Cream of Mushroom Soup

Dairy-Free Truffle Cream of Mushroom Soup

Dairy-Free Truffle Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 1 small zucchini, cubed

  • 10 oz package sliced mushrooms

  • 2.5-3 T truffle oil (will be used in two parts)

  • 20 oz broth (I used chicken)

  • 4 oz canned coconut milk

  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used truffle salt for a truffle explosion

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat 1.5-2 T truffle oil (depending on how strong you want the truffle flavor to be) over medium heat.

  2. Add in diced onions and cook for 2 minutes.

  3. Add in zucchini and stir to incorporate the oil and onion mixture. Cook for another 2 minutes

  4. Using only 2/3 of the 10 oz package of mushrooms, add to pot, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

  5. Pour in chicken broth and let simmer for 5 minutes.

  6. Add coconut milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are fork tender.

  7. While the soup is simmering, heat another 1-1.5 T truffle oil in a frying pan and sauté remaining mushrooms.

  8. Remove pot from heat. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree.

  9. If you used an immersion blender, stir in sautéed mushrooms and serve hot. If you used a regular blender, pour soup back into the pot, stir in sautéed mushrooms and serve hot.

Avocado Pesto

Who doesn't love a perfectly ripe avocado??? If you answered "I don't" then this probably isn't going to work out between us and maybe we should start seeing other people.......A soft avocado is one of life's greatest pleasures; as is pesto: another gift from God and favorite of mine.  So I decided to bring my true loves together and give pesto a MUFA / fiber-filled makeover. I give you, Avocado Pesto. Add some to a bowl of zoodles, spread some on top of grilled chicken or use as a salad dressing alternative. You could also just eat it with a spoon like I end up doing :) Enjoy!

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Avocado Pesto 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil

  • 2 large (or 4 small (I love the teeny tiny ones from Trader Joes)

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 6 cloves of garlic

  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt (regular sea salt is fine)

  • pepper 

Directions: 

  1.  Combine all ingredients in food processor until a creamy consistency is reached. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper (You can also combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender if you don't have a food processor).

Tips For Easy Meal Prep

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If you have social media, especially Instagram, you've at least heard the term "meal prep" or "meal prepping." Basically it just means prepping your meals ahead of time. This can help you stay on track with your nutrition goals, and save time and money in the long run. Sounds simple enough right? The first time you try preparing a weeks worth of food you may find it wasn't as easy as you thought it might be. Or perhaps you didn't anticipate spending 8 hours cooking rice, chopping veggies, roasting a chicken and sauteing kale. Here are some tips to follow to make your meal prep fun and easy!

1) Identify Your Goal

Are you trying to save money? Increase your vegetable intake? Feel more energized through out the day? Go gluten free? Put on size? Before you can do anything else, you have to figure out your why. What are you trying to achieve here? From there you can figure out what your meal prep is going to look like. 

2) Pick A Day (s):

I like to prepare my meals on a Sunday so that they are fresh for the week. Everyone's schedules are different. Find what day works well for you. Decide whether you're going to do one large prep or break it up into 2-3 different days. People that have limited fridge/freezer space might need to break their meal prepping up into two days.  If you plan to do one large meal prep, you are going to need to freeze the later half of the week.

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3) Have A Game Plan/Make A Shopping List:

What is your plan for the week? Do you have certain recipes you know you want to try out? Do you plan on prepping one time on Sunday or twice a week? Do you know what ingredients you have vs. what ingredients you need? Make a list of what meals you plan to cook and write down a grocery list before you head to the store.

4) Be Prepared:

Did anyone else think of Scar and the Hyenas??? No? Just me? Okay cool….Most people will likely have your basic kitchen items; knives, pots/pans, cutting board etc. But if you're new to packing lunch or preparing multiple meals, you may need to pick up some things. Do you have all of the following?

                1) Enough Tupperware/containers, various sizes
                2) Ziplock baggies
                3) Measuring cups / food scale (if applicable)
                4) Aluminum foil
                5) Cooking spray
                6) Cutting boards
                7) Knives
                8) Pots, pans
                9) Can opener
               10) Vegetable peeler
               11) A cooler or lunch box

5) Multitask / Time Savers:

A big complaint I hear is that meal prepping takes too much time.  Yes it might take some time while your preparing, but during the week you'll be able to grab and go. The more often you meal prep, the better and faster you get. Multitask safely. For example you can hard boil eggs on the stove while you bake chicken or roast vegetables in the oven.  Try some of these tricks to save time. 
        Time-savers:
             1) Chopped onions
             2) Spiralized zucchini
             3) Pre-cut butternut squash / sweet potato
             4) Frozen cut veggies
             5) Individual pouches of nuts (Trader Joe's Just a Handful)
             6) Hard boiled eggs (although I much prefer cooking my own)
             7) Rotisserie chicken 

6) Clean As You Go:

If you have a tiny Manhattan kitchen, you don't have much of a choice but to clean as you go. Even if you have more than 2 ft of counter space, don't leave a massive mess for yourself. Load your dishwasher or clean different bowls/utensils as you finish using them. 

7) Have A System:

Labeling containers can be a great way to keep track of which containers are which. If you use similar ingredients in different meals, it can be hard to tell what's what.  If you prepared food for an entire week, I would highly recommend freezing half of your meals. If you don't, you'll likely be eating mush by Friday. Organize your fridge and freezer so you can easily see where everything is. 

8) Pack Your Meals:

Pack your meals in a lunch bag or cooler the night before. Pull what you plan to eat for breakfast to the front of the fridge. This is supposed to save you time in the long run. You don't want to be rummaging through the depths of your refrigerator at 6:15 in the morning now do you?

9) Pat Yourself On The Back:

Give yourself some credit. You took time out of your busy schedule to make time for your health and well being. 

Fountain of Youth Protein Shake

Inflammation is at the root of all chronic diseases. By reducing our consumption of processed, artificial and inflammatory foods we can reduce our risk for developing numerous chronic diseases such heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. One way to reduce inflammation is by balancing out your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. We can do this buy:

  1. Switching from conventional meat and animal products, to grass-fed, grass-finished ones

  2. Choosing healthier fats like avocado, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil instead of vegetable or peanut oils.

  3. Consuming wild caught fatty fish like salmon 2-3 times per week

  4. Incorporating flax, chia and hemp seeds into your diet

Now a food doesn’t have to have omega-3’s to be considered “anti-inflammatory”. Plenty of foods such as blueberries, broccoli, spinach and bone broth fight inflammation. Green tea, herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric and ginger can help as well.

I’m always looking for ways to reduce inflammation so I can live until I’m 105. I’m also always trying to do so in a way that is easy and delicious. This protein shake packs a punch with bone broth protein concentrate and Sunfoods Golden Milk Powder. This powder is made with:

  • Turmeric and black pepper to balance inflammation in the body.

  • Maca, which helps to balance hormones and provides natural energy

  • Goji berry which provides antioxidants that eliminate free radicals

  • Boswell is which helps support immune function

  • Cardamom and ginger to help with digestion

  • Cinnamon which helps stabilize blood sugar and makes it delicious

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Fountain of Youth Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Ancient Nutrition Vanilla Bone Broth Concentrate

  • 1 tsp Sunfoods Golden Milk powder

  • 1/3 small zucchini

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage

  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds

  • 1 tsp Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil (optional)

  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds

  2. Pour into glass and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top

Apple Pie Protein Shake

This fall-inspired protein shake packs a nutritional punch delivering 2 servings of veggies, brain boosting octane oil and collagen protein. You can enjoy this for breakfast, lunch, post-workout or dinner. Enjoy the taste of apple pie without the blood sugar crash or stomach ache!

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Apple Pie Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup riced cauliflower

  • 1/4 zucchini

  • 75 g gala apple

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp @bulletproof brain octane oil (optional)

  • 30 g vanilla collagen protein 

  • 10 small ice cubes (5-6 large)

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (I use a Vitamix) and blend on low speed for 15-20 seconds.

  2. Slowly increase speed to high.

  3. Add more liquid if needed.

  4. Pour into glass and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Caprese Salad Skewers

I served these caprese salad skewers at our housewarming party, because hey, I mean who doesn’t love mozzarella cheese? Although I can’t personally tolerate dairy, that doesn’t mean everyone else should suffer right? Quick, easy, pretty, gluten-free and keto-friendly.

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Caprese Salad Skewers

Ingredients:

  • 1 tub Ciliegine fresh mozzarella (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)

  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes (depending on how many mozzarella balls are in the tub)

  • 15-20 fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 15-20 toothpicks

  • salt & pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer until it's the consistency of thin maple syrup. This should be about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool.

  2. Cut 1/3 off each tomato to create a “flat” bottom.

  3. Thread mozzarella cheese ball, basil leaf (fold in half if large) and a tomato onto a tooth pick and place onto plate, flat side down.

  4. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with salt & pepper if desired, then drizzle cooled balsamic reduction on top.

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Instant Pot Bone Broth

If you guys follow me on Instagram, you know I’m ALWAYS raving about bone broth. That’s because it’s one of the best things to consume to improve joint health, boost the immune system, treat leaky gut, overcome food intolerances / allergies and improve overall health. Bone broth is high in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. It is also high in glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which are associated with reducing inflammation and joint pain. Bone broth is high in collagen which can also help maintain healthy skin.

Okay so great! We know it’s good for you but how the heck do you make it?! I’ve receive a ton of questions via social media on how I make my bone broth so I figured I would blog about it AND make a video. So whether you are a visual learner or prefer to just read a recipe, here you go!

Instant Pot Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb beef, neck & knuckle bones (can also use chicken, pork or fish bones-USE HIGH QUALITY BONES, ideally GRASS-FED, GRASS-FINISHED. I got mine from Hudson & Charles)

  • 1 tub of chopped mirepoix from Trader Joe’s (or 1/3 C of each: celery, carrots, onions)

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 T organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (I like Braggs - check out more ways to use ACV)

  • 2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1-2 t black pepper

  • 1 tsp crushed bay leaves (or 3-4 whole leaves)

  • 4-5 quarts filtered water (fill up to max fill line)

Directions:

  1. Plug in instant pot and click “soup” button. Using arrows, increase time to 230 minutes.

  2. Place bones into pot (it’s ok if the bones are frozen) and then add the mirepoix, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves.

  3. Pour in filtered water until it reaches the max fill line. Stir.

  4. Secure the lid and let cook for 230 minutes.

  5. When the time is up, slowly and carefully shift the pressure value to the left or right to SLOWLY release some pressure. DO NOT look over the valve or put your hand over it as it could easily burn you. Be very careful and let the steam out slowly.

  6. When you no longer see or hear steam escaping, it is safe to open. Remove lid.

  7. Place a colander (with very fine holes) in large pot. Using a towel, dish rag or oven mits, pour the contents through the colander allowing all the liquid to pool in the pot.

  8. Discard the contents of the colander. (Thick beef bones can be saved to make a second batch of broth. Note: This second batch will be less flavorful and not contain nearly as many nutrients. It will likely not gel either as there will not be much collagen).

  9. Let cool for 30 minutes and divide into glass jars (You can also place a few ice cubes in the broth - it’s likely extremely concentrated so this little bit of ice shouldn’t do much to the flavor).

  10. Once the broth has cooled, transfer to fridge.

  11. Broth should keep 3-4 days in the fridge. To extend life, store in the freezer.

  12. Once cool, a layer of fat will form at the top of the jar. This fat is nutrient dense and great for cooking or baking. Skim the top and save for later use. (Fat can also be discarded).

  13. The broth will (hopefully) form a gel once it has cooled. This is a good thing! This means a lot of collagen was pulled from the bones! To consume, heat broth up on the stovetop and gel will turn into a liquid.

  14. I recommend having a cup a day! A cup a day keeps the doctor away!

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Coconut Chicken and Turmeric Cauliflower Rice

This recipe makes me so incredibly happy. Between the healthy fats (MCT) from the coconut oil, the high quality protein and anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric, this dish packs a 1,2-punch! This recipe is keto friendly, paleo friendly, gluten and dairy free, Whole30 approved AND incredibly satisfying. It’s also a great way for anyone to make chicken interesting, not to mention it is incredibly easy and straight forward. Not sure about you guys, but whenever I see a recipe that calls for more than like 10 ingredients I’m just like…nope! Or when a blogger writes 3 chapters of their life story before getting to the ingredients! GIVE ME THE RECIPE ALREADY!!! To make it easier, I’ll break these two recipes up. Lets start with the turmeric cauliflower rice.

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Turmeric Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 T organic virgin coconut oil

  • 1/2 t ground turmeric

  • 12 oz frozen riced cauliflower (Trader Joe’s has the hook up of course)

  • 1/2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1/4 t black pepper

  • 2 T unsweetened coconut flakes

  • fresh parsley or cilantro (optional for garnishing)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add coconut oil and then turmeric.

  2. Stir turmeric into coconut oil for 30 seconds to warm.

  3. Add frozen cauliflower rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.

  4. Add the salt, pepper, coconut and toss until well incorporated.

  5. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/pepper as desired.

  6. Top with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Coconut Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic, boneless, chicken breast, cut into chunks (or thighs-thighs are higher in fat, will taste more moist and is recommended for keto folks)

  • 1 T organic virgin coconut oil

  • 4 T unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs - check out more ways to use ACV )

  • 1/4 cup filtered water

  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 1/2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1/2 t black pepper

  • 8 oz canned coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut oil and diced chicken to a medium sauce pan over low-medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes

  2. Add the vinegar, water, and garlic and cooked for 3 minutes

  3. Add the salt and pepper and cook until almost all of the liquid boils down. This will probably be around 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes until the liquid thickens.

  5. Serve over turmeric cauliflower rice.

Enjoy!