Sweet Potato Fries

img_3719-2.jpg

No matter how busy I am, I always ALWAYS have sweet potatoes in some form in my refrigerator ready to eat at any meal.  These come in various forms depending how I feel, Sometimes little cubes like a hash, sometimes big thick steak fry style, sometimes skinny little shoestring fries, sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, I will even make some sweet potato mash.  But regardless of it’s form, sweet potatoes are usually my first step in meal prepping because if something happens (I am quite literally ALWAYS assuming some catastrophic event is going to interrupt whatever I am doing), I will at least have my sweet potatoes done.  I’ve always done them the same way, but I was browsing around the interweb the other day, and saw a couple tricks I wanted to try out to see if they had any merit.  These may be common knowledge to some, but it wasn’t for me, my mind was blown that I could have been making EXTRA crispy fries this whole time and had not yet been told of these tricks!

TRICK #1 – SOAK YOUR FRIES
Once you have cut the fries, place them in a bowl of ice cold water so the potatoes are covered, and leave them there for an hour.  Now, some say hot water, some say cold…so I tried the cold this time around.  By soaking them, some of the starches are pulled out into the water.  This starch can hinder moisture escaping from the potato, so when it’s baking, it may leave the moisture in the fry…which recuses the crisp-factor.  Once you have soaked them, make sure to rinse, and pat dry before cooking.

 

TRICK #2 – PARCHMENT PAPER
Okay, so perhaps this one was a no-brainer.  I have always just put them directly on the sheet pan, but nope…the parchment paper crisps these babies up niiiice.

TRICK #2 – LEAVE ‘EM IN THE OVEN
When the timer goes off…turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-10 minutes.  Again…perhaps this is common knowledge, but I somehow missed this memo.  So now I know.

TRICK #3 – SALT AFTER BAKING
I have gotten into the habit of salting things prior to cooking them.  Which for some things works!  But apparently salting those potatoes before baking them reduces the crispiness of the potatoes…so I gave it a shot!

Now…I don’t know which of any of these were most effective since I did them all on the same batch – perhaps I could have taken a more scientific approach by doing small batches with one trick per batch…but I just went all in, and the results were delicious.  Crispy, delicious, and absolutely perfect (well, as perfect as fries can be without that sweet sweet delicious deep fryer from heaven action).  Some of you are probably shaking your head at my naiveté in the world of cooking – how could I POSSIBLY not know these tricks.  But lemme tell ya somethin’…and I’m not ashamed to admit it…I know very little about a lot of things, and tricks in the kitchen is most definitely on that list. 

Below is the “recipe” for the sweet potato fries…not so much a recipe as directions, but here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:
2 Small-medium sweet potatoes, sliced into whatever size fry you want (I went on the thinner side)
2-3T arrowroot powder (or 1-2t. corn starch)
Cayenne, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, garlic powder, or any other SALT-FREE seasoning that you like (we’re adding salt at the very end)
Olive oil
Fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut the potatoes to your desired shape/size, and place in a mixing bowl with ice cold water.  Let sit for about an hour. Once finished, drain water, rinse potatoes, and pat them completely dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Once dried, toss the sweet potatoes in either arrowroot powder or corn starch, then sprinkle in the seasonings of your choice.
  • Place the potatoes on the parchment lined baking sheet, allowing them to have their space – no piles of potatoes here…they will crisp up better if they aren’t touching each other. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil.
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for about 25 minutes, flip them, and then add another 15-20 minutes.  By this time, they should have some browning on them, but if they are not baked to your liking, simply add a little more time!
  • Once timer goes off, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-7 minutes or so.
  • Take them out of the oven, and sprinkle a little salt over them.  If they do not feel crispy right away…sometimes letting them sit for a minute or so out of the oven will help with that.  When they are piping hot, they usually won’t feel too crisp.  So just exercise your patience, and don’t burn your mouth by eating them RIGHT out of the oven!

 

Obviously you can eat these hot, but since I make up about 5-6 potatoes worth at a time, I let them cool a bit then put them in the fridge for the week.  I usually make 2 potatoes worth of fries, the rest I dice up because they tend to keep a little better, and store better – fries won’t stay cripsy forever in the refrigerator…they kind of turn into limp potato noodles, the little chopped cubes hold their shape a bit better over time.

I know, this was simple, and most of you probably already do EXACTLY this, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you just need some new kitchen tricks, maybe you just need to get some super basic meal prep ideas…whatever your reason is for being here, still reading this very long post…I appreciate it, and hope that you enjoy these potatoes as much as I do!

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Hummus

Surpise, surprise!!  GARLIC!!  lol.  You may have caught on by now, that I will be happy IMG_3654 2with just about anything flavored with garlic.  YOU CANNOT GO WRONG.  However, if you are not into it, you can leave the garlic out for a more traditional flavor of hummus. Here’s the great thing about hummus though.  1) It usually leads me to make better choices with my food/snacks.  If I’m eating hummus, I’m probably dipping a veggie in it, or using it on a sandwich as a spread (usually instead of mayo), on a burger, you can put it on pizza instead of sauce, and the best part is, with all the flavor options you can create with this versatile spread, you can get pretty creative with how you want to use it!

Hummus is one of those things that is SUPER easy to make, but so many people don’t make it, and it’s usually because they don’t have one of the ingredients…tahini.  Every other ingredient you for sure have in the house already.  It takes about 5 minutes to make and you are set with a batch of hummus that will taste better than what you get at the store!  So here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:IMG_3652
1/4c. Lemon Juice
1/4c. Tahini (I used Sesame King Roasted Tahini)
2-3T Olive Oil
1 large clove Garlic – minced
1/2t. Salt
1/2t. Cumin
1/4t. Black Pepper
1 can Garbanzo Beans (chick peas) rinsed and drained
2-3T water

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a food processor, combine lemon juice and tahini.  Turn on and process for about 1 minute until it becomes light and creamy.
  • Add the olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and black pepper.  Continue to process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the food processor, then process for another 30 seconds.
  • Add half the garbanzo beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Process for another 30 seconds.  Add the other half of the beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Add water as needed to make the hummus a bit creamier if it is too thick, but this is personal preference.  Start with just a little, then keep adding small bits – remember, you can always add more, but if you add too much water, you can’t take it out!  Once the desired amount of water is there, process for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve in a bowl, or store in an airtight container.  If serving, garnish with a little extra olive oil, or some fresh herbs.

I added my hummus to this delicious sandwich packed with veggies!
IMG_3663

 

Snack Attack!

On Tuesday morning, I was training my girl Devin, who also happens to be in my current nutrition program. As an interior designer, she is on the road a lot, working on projects, running around, etc, and finding consistency with meal timing and making sure she is eating is sometimes really difficult.  When she said sometimes she goes most of the day without eating, my jaw dropped. So what I wanted to do this week, was to pull together a couple snack options that would be SUPER easy to prep, would be okay with or without a refrigerator, and would be a great pick me up during a long day at work.

Here’s the problem – people get sick of the same old snacks.  Why?  Because they are BORING!  And then it occurred to me while I was hanging out with my best bud Anthony yesterday. He was eating a Starbucks Protein breakfast box, and I was eyeing it because I LOVE those as an on-the-go breakfast or snack. The thing we love about these protein boxes, is the variety of flavor profiles as well as the mix of textures! THAT is why snacks can sometimes get boring.  It’s one singular flavor or texture in the whole snack.  We crave variety, but we put snacks together that do not offer that to us.

So this week, I decided to make a few different snack box options.  Now, I am a bit of a img_3450.jpg
Tupperware hoarder.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  I have found some amazing deals at Marshalls for containers with little compartments in them (see below), which I LOVE for these snacks – keep things a bit separated.  If you don’t have these, no biggie, but I do have a little tip for you. Those little salad dressing containers or small Tupperware things that would be great for PB or dip are a rip off (about $4-6 for two of them).  However, if you get one of the extra small glass jars of baby food, it’s only about $1 each, it holds the perfect amount of dip, or dressing, and you can reuse that over and over again.

These could not be any easier to prep or put together.  So I present to you:

BREAKFAST BOX:
Plain Greek Yogurt
Strawberries
VT Cheddar Cheese cubes
Cucumbers
Raw Almonds

img_3452.jpg

 

AFTERNOON PICK-ME-UP BOX:
Apple Slices (I used Gala Apples)
Hard Boiled Egg (sprinkled with black pepper)
Celery
Teddy’s Unsalted All Natural Peanut Butter
Flax & Whole Wheat Pita Bread triangles

img_3455.jpg

 

THE DOUBLE SNACK BIG BOX:
This one is really a couple snacks in one box, but a great option to pack with you for a day at work!  

Carrot Sticks
VT Cheddar Cheese Cubes
Red Grapes
Hard Boiled Egg (sprinkled with black pepper)
Cucumber
Nut-Thins (Brown Rice, Almonds & Chia Seed flavor)
Hummus

img_3456.jpg

 

So while this isn’t actually a “Recipe”, I hope you find new ways to prepare yourself for success with your health & nutrition goals throughout the day.  Good Luck!!

ENJOY!

Energy Bites

I’m going to let you in on a not so hidden secret about me…I have a sweet tooth. A big one. Sweets are my biggest weakness, the hardest thing to say “no” to, the hardest thing for me to eat in moderation, and during times where my emotions (of any kind) are running high, the feeling of NEEDING sweets takes over me like a wild ravenous beast on the hunt for it’s prey.

That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I DO try my best to eat as healthy as possible – and this is all I ask of my nutrition clients that they do their best to make small changes to work towards their healthiest version of themselves.  But we are all human, we all fall off the wagon. Some people’s falling off means that they have a huge bag of cape cod potato chips, or an entire box of macaroni & cheese or a huge greasy bacon cheeseburger with extra fries, some people’s falling off means an entire tray of cookies without hesitation (…that one is me). For me, one thing that has been important, is being able to find substitutions and replacements to satisfy this craving so I don’t reach to a tub of frosting or a pan of brownies and a side of ice cream. These energy bites (which I portion out so I don’t eat a whole tub of them) do just that. Sometimes it’s not about eliminating something all together, but finding an alternative.  Something a little bit better, a little bit healthier, and as we say in ProCoach all the time…we are looking for 1% better than yesterday.  These energy bites are still sweet, they taste like a treat, but are a better option than what the evil sugar monster inside me would normally gravitate towards.

They are so simple to make, easy to take on the road with you, and  you can change up the flavors and put whatever you want in them. One batch of this recipe will make somewhere between 35-40 bites, which for me is a couple weeks worth – I divide them up into little bags with 3 bites per bag.

IMG_3436

img_3435.jpg

I took the recipe, mixed up the base ingredients of: honey, PB, oats, cinnamon and vanilla, then split that mixture in half to make two different flavors.

*note on the PB…I know you probably already know this…but check your labels.  Teddy’s is one of my favorites…the ingredient list says it all.  So many PB brands are loaded with a ton of extra crap – just keep it simple.

  1. The first flavor (in addition to the base of the mix): I added dried cranberries, chia seeds, and then rolled them in unsweetened shredded coconut.
  2. The second flavor (in addition to the base of the mix): I added raisins, dark chocolate chips, and a blend of ground hemp & flax.

INGREDIENTS:
(BASE)
3c. Rolled Oats
1/4c. Honey
1/2t. Vanilla
1/2c. unsalted all natural Peanut Butter (or other nut butter) – I prefer Teddy’s
1/4t. Salt
1t. Cinnamon

IMG_3433

From there, add whatever you want!  These were a bit sweet, so if you aren’t a huge fan of sweet, you can obviously cut back on the honey a little bit.  I made the whole batch listed below, mixed it together, then split it in half and made two different flavors.  Below are the ingredient list for that (if using this for the whole batch, just double amounts)

  1. 1/3c. Dried Cranberries
    2T Chia Seeds
    Unsweetened Shredded Coconut to roll them in.
  2. 1/3c. Raisins
    2T Hemp & Flax Blend
    1/4c. Dark Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Take all ingredients for base, add them into a large bowl and mix until completely combined.
  2. Stir in additional ingredients of your choice.
  3. Roll out into small tablespoon (or a little larger) balls and place them into a Tupperware contained – I lined mine with a paper towel so they don’t get all sticky goopy against the Tupperware. You can also press them out into a baking pan and cut them into bars if you prefer that!
  4. If your hands get too sticky when rolling them, either rinse them off in water, or put a little olive oil on them which will help the bites not stick to your hands quite as much.
  5. Store them in an airtight container, I keep mine in the refrigerator in the portioned out ziplock bags so I can just grab a bag on my way out.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!  I look forward to hearing what flavors you try!  Make them your own!