Flank Steak with Basil Vinaigrette

As the weather turns cooler, I’ve been craving more hearty and rich dishes.  A few weeks ago, the weather was just starting to hint at the cooler temperatures to come, and rather than using the flank steak in my fridge for a salad as I planned, I decided I wanted something more comforting than a salad.  As I dug around trying to decide what else I could potentially make, inspiration hit.  This dish transitions perfectly from the end of summer into fall and winter.  It can be paired with just about any combination of vegetables, depending on what is one season.  But each time I’ve made it, I’ve stuck to both riced cauliflower and mushrooms and then mixed in a third vegetable based on what I had on hand – squash and zucchini, sauted kale, green beans and onions, and most recently, roasted brussels sprouts.

You can grill the flank steak in the warmer months, or cook it in a cast iron skillet, as described below, in the colder months.  The vegetables can also be prepared in your favorite way – grilled, roasted, sauted. Just keep the seasonings simple and let the basil vinaigrette shine!

Flank steak basil vinaigrette and wine

This dish could very easily be bland, boring, and basic.  But adding in the fresh herbaceous sauce that only takes a few minutes to throw together really steps it up a notch and takes it to a whole new level.  It takes this dish from an any other day, clean out the fridge, uninspired meal to elevated and elegant, but still super quick and easy!  The fresh herbs and garlic really bring the wow factor!  So, make this dish, fall in love, cozy up with a glass of wine or hot tea, and share the love with all your favorite loved ones!

Flank Steak Basil Vinaigrette

Flank Steak with Basil Vinaigrette

Servings:  4          Time:  ~30 minutes

  • 1-1.25 lb flank steak
  • 12 oz bag frozen, riced cauliflower
  • 2 pints fresh mushrooms, such as crimini or white button, whole or sliced
  • Additional vegetables as desired
  • 1/4 C fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Couple dashes crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Liberally season both sides of flank steak with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add a small amount of butter or ghee.  Add seasoned flank steak and sear a few minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Turn heat to medium low and cover with lid or piece of foil, cooking for about 6-8 minutes longer or until desired doneness.  I recommend not cooking past medium (about 160 degrees F), as flank steak is lean and can get tough if overcooked.  Remove from heat and set aside to rest.
  3. While steak cooks, prepare vinaigrette.  Place olive oil in small dish, whisk continuously while slowly adding in vinegar.  Once combined, add mined garlic and basil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.  Set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Cook vegetables – saute riced, frozen cauliflower in butter or ghee over medium high heat for several minutes until warmed through.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan.  Add good amount of butter, ghee, and/or olive oil to same pan.  Add mushrooms, and cook over low heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, until cooked through.
  5. Once steak has rested, cut in thin strips against the grain.
  6. Plate:  add a mound of cooked, riced cauliflower to plate or bowl, pile on cooked mushrooms and additional vegetables, layer on sliced steak, cover it all in a spoonful of basil vinaigrette, and dig in!
Nutrition Info:

365 total cal, 23 g fat, 10 g carb, 30 g protein

Chile Lime Salmon with Coconut “Nice” Rice and Mango Salsa

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted so I’m feeling a bit rusty…the summer has been hectic with lots of travel and weekends spent with family and friends.  I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting back into my normal routine, although I haven’t gotten back into working out in the mornings.  For now I’m just glad my schedule has allowed me to get in those workouts after work.  At some point I’ll get back to mornings because it’s so much easier to get it done first thing and know that no matter what the rest of the day throws at me, I’ve gotten a healthy start.

Being out of my routine has left me feeling a bit stressed and drained at times and working out in the evenings means less time to prepare a healthy dinner.  So our meals have consisted of things that cook up much more quickly, or don’t require any cooking at all!  The most time consuming part of this recipe is chopping up the fruit and vegetables for the salsa.  Even so, it can be done in the amount of time it took to get the rice going and the salmon in the oven to cook.

The mix of cool and crunchy fresh fruits and vegetables in the salsa totally makes this dish and makes it perfect for summer when you don’t feel like eating something hot and heavy.  Plus the mix of colors make it so beautiful that you can’t help but scoop it into your mouth :).  Using a store bought seasoning mix also cuts down on time and the ingredient list for this dish.

I used my favorite simple method for cooking the salmon.  This method can be used for cooking salmon for just about any dish with varying flavor combinations.  It leaves the salmon perfectly cooked and moist in the center, with a slightly crunchy texture on the edges, which I love.  The key is to get a pan that comes with a grill tray or rack.  This allows the salmon to cook evenly all around and achieve the slightly crunchy exterior with a few minutes on broil.  Line the bottom with foil for easy cleanup – extra bonus!

Here are some similar pans to the one I use:  11X13 or 9×13

Salmon Roast Pan

I used both frozen salmon filets as well as frozen riced cauliflower in this recipe – having some staple frozen items on hand makes it easier to prepare healthy meals when I haven’t done a great job of planning ahead.  To quickly thaw the salmon, I simply placed the individually wrapped frozen filets in slightly warm water for about 20 minutes (don’t use hot water or you’ll start to cook the salmon!).

For the “nice” rice, I used a mixture of both cooked rice and riced cauliflower.  The riced cauliflower is an easy way to sneak in some extra vegetables, but you could certainly just use rice – just double the amount of rice and coconut milk called for in the recipe.  I don’t think this would work well only using riced cauliflower, as you wouldn’t be able to get as much coconut flavor into the riced cauliflower without making it mushy.  If you do try it though, let me know how it turns out!

Alright, on to the recipe…

Salmon Coconut Rice Mango Salsa


Servings:  4          Time:  30 minutes

  • 4 x 5-6oz salmon filets, thawed if previously frozen
  • 2 T chile lime seasoning, divided, such as Trader Joe’s
  • 1/2 C jasmine rice
  • 12 oz frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1 C plus 2 T lite coconut milk
  • 1 t olive oil or butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mango Salsa:

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored and diced small (about 1/4 inch dice)
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 mini persian cucumbers or seedless cucumbers, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 2 limes, juiced + zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped


  1. Combine the rice and 1 C coconut milk in a small sauce pan and cook according to instructions
  2. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line broil pan with foil.  Place salmon skin side down on grill rack.  Sprinkle with approximately 1 T of chile lime seasoning blend.  Place salmon in oven and cook to about medium wellness, 10 – 12 minutes.  Turn oven up to broil, and continue to cook salmon for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from oven once slightly crisped on the outside and set aside.
  3. While the salmon cooks, dice fruits and vegetables for mango salsa and toss to combine.  Ensure lime juice thoroughly coats the diced avocado to avoid browning.  Add additional 1 tablespoon of chile lime seasoning to salsa mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Once rice has finished cooking, remove from heat.  Heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a small saute pan.  Add frozen riced cauliflower and saute until heated through.  Add cooked rice to pan, stir to combine, adding 2 remaining tablespoons of coconut milk to mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Plate 1/4 of cauli rice mixture, 1 salmon filet, and 1/4 of mango salsa mixture and enjoy!

Nutrition info:

580 tot cal, 23g fat, 51g carb, 44 g protein

Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, both for work and for fun, and with the warmer weather and eating out constantly while traveling, basically all I’ve wanted to eat while home is salads!  Most restaurants don’t serve enough vegetables, in my opinion, so I always crave all the vegetables upon returning home!

This salad has been a repeat offender, in the best possible way, over the past week!  It’s full of fresh, crunchy vegetables, easy to prepare boiled chicken, and the most flavorful and delicious Thai peanut dressing.  The dressing is inspired by a Thai peanut sauce that I’ve put over swoodles (sweet potato noodles) in the past.  It’s also partly inspired by one of my favorite noodle dishes (called Rainbow Peanut Noodles) at a local Thai fusion restaurant.  P.S. if you’re in the Kansas City area, I highly recommend you check out Lulu’s Thai Noodle House!  You really can’t go wrong with much on their menu, but I especially love the Rainbow Peanut Noodles, the Drunken Noodles, Pad Se Eu, or of course Pad Thai.

Anyways, back to this SALAD 🙂

It’s super easy to prepare and really allows for various combinations of vegetables to be tossed in to your liking!  I made this a second time using a slightly different mix of vegetables than the first based on what I had on hand and what I could easily find at the store, so like I said, if any of the vegetables listed below don’t appeal to you, feel free to mix it up!  Any vegetables found in Asian dishes could be tried with this – sugar snap or snow peas, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, even canned water chestnut!

The dressing is really the star here, and putting it all in a blender to mix makes it super easy.  I used fresh ginger and garlic but this could easily be made with dried or powdered garlic and ginger as well.  You’ll just need to reduce the amounts to probably around 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. to be equivalent to the amounts of fresh used in this recipe.  Since it’s a smaller amount, I’d recommend using a personal size blender or small food processor.  I’ve used Ninja brand blenders for several years with success.  And in my opinion, you really can’t beat the price.  Either of these models would work well for this recipe – blender, personal blender, and food processor combo or for less money, 2 sizes of personal blender cups combo.  Also, the heat level from the crushed red pepper can be modified or removed all together depending on your liking.

This makes quite a large amount of salad, but since all the vegetables are pretty hearty, they can hold up well to being saved for leftovers, even with the dressing on!  Below is a picture of it being mixed up in the biggest bowl I own :).

Thai Chicken Salad Bowl

This salad can easily be made Whole30 or Paleo as well if you follow those food plans.

So, give this recipe a shot and let me know how it goes!  I’d love to hear what kind of delicious veggie combos you come up with!

Thai Chicken Salad Side Shot


Servings:  6            Time:  30 minutes


  1.  1/4 C coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  2.  2 T natural, no sugar added peanut butter (or almond butter for Whole30 or Paleo)
  3. 2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
  4. 2 T Olive Oil
  5. 1 t Sesame Oil
  6. 1 large clove garlic, peeled (or approximately 1/4-1/2 t powdered)
  7. 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled (or approximately 1/4-1/2 t powdered)
  8. 1 dried date, softened in 1-2 T warm water for a few minutes (or 1 t sweetener of choice)
  9. 1/8 t crushed red pepper to taste
  10.  Salt and pepper to taste (use less salt or omit if using soy sauce)
  11. Warm water as needed to thin (use the leftover water from the softened date)


  1. 1 14-16oz bag coleslaw mix
  2. 1 14-16oz bag shredded purple cabbage
  3. 1 14-16oz bag broccoli slaw
  4. 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  5. 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  6. 1 orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  7. 1/2 C slivered almonds
  8. 4 large chicken breasts, about 2-2.5 pounds, cooked and shredded
  9. Fresh cilantro and sesame seeds to top, optional


  1. Cook and shred chicken.  I use the method described in my Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.
  2. While chicken cooks, throw all ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of warm water as necessary to thin to typical dressing consistency.
  3. Chop bell pepper, radish, and green onion and mix with coleslaw, purple cabbage, and broccoli slaw in a large bowl.
  4. Dish up about 1/6 of the rainbow of vegetables mix, 1/6 of shredded chicken, and top with approximately 2 T of dressing, slivered almonds, cilantro and sesame seeds if desired.
  5. Enjoy!

Nutrition info:  383 tot cal, 14 g fat, 25 g carb, 42 g protein

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

Unless it’s summer and can fire up the grill, we don’t prepare steak at home that often.  On the rare occasions I decide to make steak indoors, I’ve discovered that the best way to do so is using a cast iron skillet.  The cast iron works perfectly to get that golden brown sear and can seamlessly transition into the oven to finish thicker cuts of meat up.

Recently I’ve been loving the ease of flank steak cooked on the cast iron.  Since it’s a thinner cut of meat, it cooks up quickly to that perfectly medium center with a beautifully browned sear on the outside.  No need to stick this cut in the oven to finish!  Additionally, it’s a leaner cut of steak, being lower in fat and higher in protein than some other cuts such as ribeye.

Additionally, sliced against the grain after cooking leaves it tender enough to skip marinating it.  Pair it with a flavor bomb sauce such as chimichurri, and you’ve got dinner ready in under 20 minutes!

sliced flank steak

For those that haven’t tried chimichurri, you’re in for a treat!  It’s basically a sauce made from fresh herbs, garlic, and vinegar.  There are many variations out there, with additional ingredients such as cheese (making it more like a pesto) or roasted onions.  I keep mine pretty simple and use a blender to bring it together quickly!  Adding this sauce is a quick way to add a ton of flavor to just about any meat dish!  Just look at that beautiful bright green sauce!  Yum!

zoomed in flank steak chimichurri salad

Pair it up with your favorite vegetable side dish or throw it on a salad for a quick and very flavorful meal!

Here, I’ve made a salad with some leftovers, which made it even more quick and easy!

flank steak chimichurri salad


Servings:  4          Time:  15-20 minutes

For the steak-

  1. 1 lb flank steak
  2.  1 t coconut oil or neutral cooking oil
  3. Salt and pepper

Chimichurri sauce-

  1.  1 bunch cilantro
  2.   2 cloves garlic
  3.  1 small shallot
  4.   Juice of 1/2 lime
  5.  1 T olive oil
  6.  1 T red wine vinegar
  7.  Couple good shakes of crushed red pepper flakes or 1/2 T Chile Crunch Condiment
  8.  Salt and Pepper
  9.  Warm water to thin if necessary


  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add a small amount of neutral oil or butter.  Salt and pepper both sides of the flank steak.  Add the steak to the heated skillet and allow to sear for approximately 5 minutes.  Once seared and cooked about 1/3 of the way through, flip and allow to cook another 5-7 minutes to desired doneness.  I like to leave it a nice medium rare in the middle.  Remove the skillet from heat and allow the steak to sit for awhile for juices to redistribute.
  2. Meanwhile, add all the ingredients of the chimichurri sauce to a small blender or food processor.  Blend until thoroughly combined.  Taste for seasoning and test for consistency and add salt, pepper, chile pepper, and water as necessary.
  3. Once steak has cooled a bit, cut against the grain into thin strips.  Top with chimichurri and serve with desired sides!
  4. On the pictured salad, I used spinach, lightly sauteed bell peppers and onions, some leftover quinoa, and some thawed, frozen roasted corn.  I also love serving it with arugula instead of spinach, as the peppery bite of arugula pairs very well with the bright and spicy chimichurri!

Nutrition info  (for steak and sauce):

230 total cal, 14 g fat, 3 g carb, 24 g protein

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce

I’ve been focusing on making simpler, less time consuming, and fewer ingredient recipes lately as I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by life in general. 🙂

We’ve all been there, where it seems like our to do list continues to grow rather than becoming smaller and more manageable.  And while I am whole heartedly looking forward to the weather warming up once and for good this Spring, in the back of my mind I also know that means that my schedule is going to be even fuller.

I’ve consistently played sports and stayed active in adult activities since moving to Kansas City in 2008.  Three seasons a year (and even year round in years past), my husband and I play in multiple sand volleyball leagues.  On 2 evenings a week, we join our sand volleyball family for 2 hours of competitive sand volleyball.  Additionally, I’m playing in a kickball league that plays for 2 hours every Sunday afternoon.  Both volleyball and kickball have started for the Spring season, but have had game cancellations due to the midwest weather that can’t make up its mind this year!  Winter just doesn’t want to clear out!

So, with the upcoming busy weeks creeping up, I need to focus on preparing meals that continue to nourish by body, give me energy, but also don’t take an inordinate amount of time to plan and prepare.

This recipe does the job and the ingredients can be kept on hand for moments when you haven’t planned ahead yet don’t have time to run to the store to pick up ingredients to cook a meal with.

It starts with frozen, peeled, and deveined shrimp.  These get cooked in a tomatoey sauce made with canned, fire roasted tomatoes and a few seasonings.  Then you serve it alongside your favorite vegetables or for a fun twist, that makes it seem kind of fancy IMO, some cubed polenta croutons. 🙂

shrimp tomato sauce cooking

There’s the shrimp simmering away in the tomato sauce.

Here it is served with some riced cauliflower and a side of zucchini and asparagus.

shrimp tomato sauce bowl

And here’s the polenta cubes (thanks to my friend @foxeatspaleo for the inspiration on this one!)

shrimp tomato polenta cubes


Servings: 4          Time:  20 minutes

  1. 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (I generally use frozen)
  2. 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  3. 1 T paprika
  4. 1/2 T garlic powder
  5. 1/2 T onion powder
  6. 1/2 T Chile Crunch or crushed red pepper flakes
  7.  Salt and pepper to taste


  1. If using frozen shrimp, cut the bag open and add lukewarm water and allow to thaw for about 10 minutes or so.  Drain water prior to cooking.
  2. Add tomatoes and seasoning to medium sauce pot over medium low heat.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add thawed and drained shrimp and simmer until shrimp are fully cooked and tomato sauce has thickened slightly
  4. Serve with desired sides!

Optional polenta croutons:

  1. Cut a 1 lb tube of pre-cooked polenta into small, bite sized cubes.
  2.  Toss with salt and pepper
  3.  Toast in a skillet with a small amount of EVOO or coconut oil over medium high heat until lightly browned and crispy
  4.  These soak up the smokey, tomato sauce beautifully!

Nutrition info (for shrimp in tomato sauce w/o sides):

152 total cal,  2 g fat, 8 g carb, 25 g protein

Egg Roll Bowls

I’m always on the look out for healthy, flavorful, QUICK meals.  Since I avoid dairy products, a lot of what I eat regularly is Asian inspired.  In addition to generally not containing dairy, Asian food is delicious!  Stir fries and curries are my flavor jam!  I love just about anything with garlic and ginger.

However, I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional fried egg rolls.  I know, I know…there’s just always been something a little off-putting about them to me flavor wise.  Then add in the often greasy outer fried shell, and it’s a no-go in my books.

Recently though, I stumbled upon this recipe from Peace, Love, and Low Carb that I found intriguing.  Upon looking through the ingredient list, I thought that this was an egg roll variation that I could on board with.

Garlic, ginger, soy, and sriracha form the base of the flavors so what isn’t there to like about it?  I keep many of the ingredients on hand so basically just have to grab the coleslaw and broccoli slaw mixes(and maybe fresh ground pork and ground turkey if I don’t have time to thaw out the frozen stuff) to prepare.

You can also make it both Paleo or Whole30 compliant, so along with being dairy free, many types of eaters can fit this into their eating style!  If you avoid soy or soy based products, you can use coconut aminos.  A little about coconut aminos – clearly from the name, it is made from coconut.  More specifically, coconut sap.  While I do enjoy soy sauce, I try not to consume too much soy based products because of my thyroid disorder.  Coconut aminos is a pretty good substitute and is Paleo and Whole30 compliant.  It is MUCH lower in sodium (about 75% less, which is generally a good thing) and also has a slightly sweet flavor.  It doesn’t taste like coconut, but if you use it in place of soy, be prepared to need a bit more salt in your recipe than if you use traditional soy sauce.

So, back to the recipe:  it comes together really quickly thanks to using convenient items such as bagged coleslaw mix!  And since it makes a pretty large quantity, you’ve got lunch taken care of for the next couple of days!

egg roll in a bowl meal prep

We’ve been enjoying this around our house regularly (at least every other week) for the last couple of months and I don’t intend to quit anytime soon :).  Enjoy!

*Note – you need a pretty large skillet or wok for this!  Alternatively, you could use 2 smaller skillets and split it evenly amongst them.

egg roll in a bowl in skillet

*Second note – if you use a lot of fresh garlic, I highly recommend investing in a good garlic press!  My mom bought me one from Pampered Chef for Christmas, and it’s a total game changer!  You don’t even have to peel the garlic!  Just pop the clove in, press the handle down, and scrape off the perfectly minced garlic!  Remove the skin, and repeat!  Find a similar one here, with great reviews!

egg roll in a bowl served up

Egg Roll Bowls

Servings: 6            Time: 30 min


  1. 1 lb reduced fat ground pork
  2. 1 lb lean (93% or higher) ground turkey
  3. 5 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 large onion, large dice
  5. 14 oz bag coleslaw mix
  6. 14 oz bag broccoli slaw
  7. 1 T ground ginger
  8. 1 t ground pepper
  9. 4 T coconut aminos or reduced sodium soy sauce (I used 2 T of each)
  10. 3 T rice wine vinegar (I’ve also used apple cider vinegar)
  11. 2 T sesame oil
  12. 3-4 T sriracha (or Whole30 compliant chile/hot sauce)
  13. About 5 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
  14. 2 T sesame seeds
  15. Fresh cilantro for topping, optional


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey and pork and cook until no longer pink.  Drain the fat from the skillet.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together the ginger, pepper, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha, and soy sauce or coconut aminos.
  4. Add the bag of coleslaw mix to the meat and onion mixture.  Pour about half of the liquid mixture to the skillet, and gently toss it, allowing the coleslaw to cook down a bit and make more room in the skillet.  This is where it gets a bit tricky to keep it all contained in one skillet so be patient.  🙂 Start adding the broccoli slaw mixture, in smaller batches, to allow room in the pan.  It helps to use tongs and just kind of flip portions of the mixture around.  Continue adding the liquid to help flavor and steam the veggies down.  Once it’s all added, test for seasoning and add more sriracha, salt, pepper, etc. as needed.
  5. Portion into bowl, top with green onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
  6. Dig in!

Nutrition Info:

380 total cal, 21 g fat, 10 g carbs, 31 g protein


Review of OnTrend Wellness Event

So I’m a few days late on posting this…I forgot to bring my notes with me when we left town last weekend to visit family!  Whoops!

Anyways, last week I attended an awesome event called OnTrend Wellness that was hosted at New You Health Studio in Mission Farms here in KC.

Four amazing ladies from Enjoy Pure Food + Drink, Fusion Fitness, Xiphium Aveda Lifestyle Salon, and New You Health Studio, all located in Mission Farms, came together to discuss current trends in health and wellness and offer their advice and knowledge on various topics.  It was such a great event offering the opportunity to learn from local experts in the health and wellness industry.

OnTrend Wellness Panel

From left to right:  Dr. Alexander, Jaime Huntoon, Darby Brender, and Staci Cross

The evening started off with a sweat session at Fusion Fitness, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend, but I’m sure it was a kick-butt workout just like every class I’ve attended there in the past!

Afterwards, everyone met at the beautiful New You Health Studio.  Enjoy Pure Food + Drink provided some delicious goodies such as various hummus dips and their newly added menu item, lemon turmeric protein balls – which were AMAZING!  They also provided wine – always a plus 🙂  P.S. I freaking love their food!  And they offer options for gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and paleo eaters! It’s so great to have a nutritious and delicious place to grab a bite that doesn’t require scouring the menu for something that can be easily modified to be made without dairy!  Anyways, I digress…

After attendees got settled, they transitioned in to the panel of speakers.  I’m sharing just a few of the key points that were discussed here, but there was much more information provided and it was a jam packed hour that flew by!  I could have listened to these wonderful women talk for hours!

  1. Collagen supplementation – One thing all the speakers were avid supporters of is collagen supplementation!  Collagen is a pure source of protein.  One scoop generally has 8-10 grams of purse protein, with varying amino acids depending on the type (I, II, III, or IV).  It is typically sourced from grass-fed bovine (cow) hide and connective tissue, thus it is NOT vegan.  Many brands are odorless and flavorless so can easily be added to recipes without effecting the flavor.  Pure collagen dissolves easily into liquids.  It’s slightly different from gelatin, which offers the same benefits, but gels when added to liquids.  Since I am a pharmacist, I feel obligated to mention that since collagen is a supplement, and not a medication, it is not evaluated by the FDA and studies surrounding the benefits are not as robust as those conducted for medications.  That being said, I myself use it regularly, adding it to my morning coffee each day as well as to several foods, such as my Protein Pancakes, oatmeal, even non-dairy yogurt.  I’ve only being using it for about 2 months, but I will say that my nails and hair do seem stronger and less brittle and dry.  I’ve tried two different brands – Further Food and Zhou Nutrition.  I felt like I could somewhat smell the Zhou brand, but maybe that’s just because it was the first kind I tried so psyched myself into thinking I could smell it :).  It also offers all 4 types of collagen peptides while Further Food is only type I.  Collagen’s touted health benefits include the below.
    • Gut health
    • Healthy and strong hair, skin, and nails
    • Healthy bones and joint
  2. Intermittent Fasting – this topic was primarily supported by Dr. Alexander with New You Health Studio.  She recommends working towards 16 hr fasting, starting in the evening following dinner and continuing into the following day, with 8 hr of eating/feasting.  One important point with this is to ensure adequate nutrition during the feasting portion of the day and Dr. Alexander reiterated that this feasting period is as important if not more than the fasting state.  Intermittent fasting can help promote fat burning and mimics how our bodies were designed to function, as was done during the “hunting and gathering” period.  To help reach the 16 hrs of fasting, collagen, MCT oil, and ghee can be used to help promote satiety while still maintaining a fasting state as these substances are already largely broken down or “digested” and be easily absorbed by our bodies.
  3. Darby Brender with Fusion Fitness discussed that she hopes for what she terms “body neutrality” to become a trend of the future.  Essentially, body neutrality means being okay with where you’re at and that society would stop body shaming.  I interpret this as not focusing on how your body looks, but more importantly, focusing on what your body can do and being grateful for that!
  4. Jaime Huntoon, Esthetician with Xiphium, recommended trying to make just one healthy change.  It can sometimes be overwhelming when researching how to start living a more healthy lifestyle, but if you focus on just one thing to change at a time, you can continue to make progress without being overwhelmed.  This leads me to the next topic, which is one thing I definitely recommend trying as your one healthy change!
  5. Eat your veggies!  Veggies contain MANY required nutrients necessary for optimal body functioning.  Additionally, they are filling while also generally low in calories.  As Staci Cross with Enjoy Pure Foods explained, the fiber in vegetables help expand your stomach, helping you feel full longer, and also helping keep you “regular”.
  6. Inflammation – many common foods can contribute to inflammation, with the top offender being processed sugars!  In addition to inflammation, having a diet high in processed sugars can contribute to reduced gut health and skin troubles.  Craving sugar can be caused by “bad” bacteria in your gut sending signals out in your body because they want to be fed.  Other common foods that can contribute to inflammation include dairy (yay – all my recipes are dairy-free!) and gluten.  Alternatively, there are some natural anti-inflammatories that can be included in your regular diet such as turmeric, curcumin, and ginger.  You can find both turmeric and ginger in my Immune Boosting Chicken Soup as well as in most curry seasonings, which is part of my Basil Chicken Coconut Curry.
  7. Finally, the panel discussed some of their favorite mindfulness practices, including meditation, breath work, and use of a weighted blanket.  Two recommended tools include the Insight App, which is free, and well as the Brain Health YouTube channel.  Darby had the great analogy using glitter to help explain the benefit of mindfulness practices.  Imagine every component of your life as a different color of glitter – work, family, extracurricular activities, faith, to-do lists, etc.- all layered together in a glass jar.  Then imagine shaking that jar and mixing all the different colors of glitter together.  Throughout the day, our minds can become like that mixed up jar of glitter.  Mindfulness practices help to sort out that mixed up glitter and get it back to a state of carefully sorted layers.  I didn’t explain that nearly as well as Darby, but hopefully you get the picture!

Well, I hope you find this review helpful and if you get the opportunity, I definitely recommend attending the OnTrend Wellness event if it is offered again in the future!

Food and Wellness Trends 2018

2018 Food and Wellness Trends, prepared by Staci Cross