cauliflower

We're Expecting! [plus, Europe recap + Grain-free Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese

Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese.Alo Wellness [ I wrote this post almost two+ month ago, but I was having issues with my site so never published it. Forgive me for my absence! It's good to see you again though friend! ]

Wow, it’s been a while and life has been busy, fun, tiring and exhilarating all at the same time. There is so much to talk about…where do I begin!?

Ok, let’s start with the most beautiful news of all. WE’RE HAVING A BABY! Our little one is growing rapidly and we are so excited to meet HER in December! We are so filled with excitement, gratitude and sheer joy! It’s been so hard to contain this news!

Prior to our first ultrasound around 9 weeks, our anxiousness had been unbearable at times. In October of last year [2014], we experienced the loss of a twin pregnancy which left us deeply saddened, but at the same time incredibly hopeful for the Lord’s perfect plan for our family. When we heard the heartbeat this time, it was like nothing we have experienced before.

“There is no sweeter sound than when at some point you have heard the deafening silence of a heartbeat’s absence.”

This quote, from a mama and blogger who experienced loss herself, hit me like a ton of bricks. How true. How insanely true. That sound was the most beautiful I have ever heard and I praise our Creator for making it possible. What a gift to be able to carry a child, with all the multiplying of cells, differentiating tissues, growing organs, defining facial features, etc. A miraculous feat.

Matt and Justine Alo Wellness

 

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I’m sure you will be seeing a lot more about this and how life changes during this incredible experience we call pregnancy. So stay tuned!

Next up, back in late April/early May, we spent two weeks in Europe and enjoyed some amazing food, great friendship and beautiful sites. Though tainted by the less than fabulous feelings of first trimester bliss, Paris brought us delicious dishes and beautiful sites and Italy was filled with naps, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Oh yes, and great friends, rolling Tuscan hills and more naps. Sad, but true!

My favorite was Chianti, a gorgeous region of Tuscany, just south of Florence. We ate some of our favorite dishes there, walked the hills of a 5th generation vineyard and while I enjoyed Italy’s finest mineral water, the hubs enjoyed the fruit of their labor.

Here are a few highlights of the trip...

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Mona Lisa in the flesh...well, kind of // Boarding a yacht for dinner on the river // beautiful hor d'oeuvre // photo booth fun on the yacht

 

Canal view near our Venetian apartment // #gelatoeveryday // a Venice "must" - gondola ride with great friends! // our departure from Venice

 

Wine tour on the property we stayed at in Chianti, Tuscany // homemade meatballs...enough said. // the view from our little apartment in Chianti, Tuscany // barrel room kisses! this room was 100+ years old and used to be for curing meats

Given our recent addition, this trip is probably the last of our international travels for a while. That’s fine with me. Maui, here I come! No passports and broken foreign language communication- bring it on!

Since I’ve started to feel better in the past few weeks [remember this was two months ago!] and my energy has been on the rise, I have finally been able to get this couch-shaped butt of mine back into the gym. I have been taking it easy to start, but also keeping in mind that I am training. I am training for labor. A marathon where one needs serious mental and physical preparation to help ensure the best outcome. No, I won’t be running an actual marathon and I know it can be done with no forethought whatsoever, but I want to be ready.

With all this newfound energy, I have started back in the kitchen as well, my happy place. Oh, it is good to be home. I have been playing with a little more grains than I usually do as I have had more of an affinity to them since I’ve been pregnant. I figure a properly prepared (soaked) oatmeal bake is far better than the Lucky Charms I was eyeing during a TV commercial. Am I right?

Nutrition during pregnancy is so incredibly important, I cannot stress that enough. I will be talking about different aspects of prenatal nutrition in the next few months [and beyond] as this is one of our best forms of prevention.

So, the other day I got a little crazy and played with a new idea: a grain-free version of the traditional grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, you heard me right.

I used to love grilled cheese sandwiches, on whatever kind of bread one could conjure up. Nowadays, I stick to an occasional properly prepared, traditional sourdough bread, but I was wanting something I could indulge in any day of the week in a grain-free version, keeping my blood sugar stable.

Guys, to my surprise, this turned out amazing and I have a new favorite cauliflower recipe to add to the bunch! It does take some effort to prepare the cauliflower bread (sauté cauli, form “bread” slices, bake, then grill…) BUT it is SO worth it! And you can always prep the cauliflower ahead of time and just form the “bread” when you’re ready to get your grilled cheese on!

 

Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese.Alo Wellness

 

So, without further ado…I introduce to you the Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese! There are endless possibilities for this bad boy so please, let me know what you do to make this recipe your own!

Happy eating y’all!

 

[yumprint-recipe id='9']grilledcheesealowellness

 

 

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My Take on Grains + Cauliflower Pizza Crust

IMG_6328 A hot topic in the world of nutrition right now is that of “healthy” whole grains. This is a very interesting debate because like fat, eggs and salt, we have been taught one thing when another is actually true.

When I was in my Bachelors program for nutrition, we discussed wheat and other grains a lot and we all had a good understanding that everyone should consume approximately 6 servings of grains (half of them whole) per day. That's easy! Plus, that’s what the government taught us was healthy, so why would be question this!?

Now I have a completely different understanding of wheat and other grains {bulgur, rice, corn, rye, oats, millet, quinoa, etc.} and how they can affect ones health. I no longer recommend “healthy” whole grains as half of my clients (or family and friend’s) diets, but rather, to incorporate an abundance of nutrient dense vegetables as their main carbohydrate source.*

This is something that blows people’s minds, just like when they learn that butter is actually GOOD for them. It is also a very difficult idea for people to grasp because so many of us are so addicted to processed carbohydrates and “healthy” whole grains.

There are many reasons to limit or avoid grains in your diet, but I will only touch on a few. For starters, grains have a significant affect on blood sugar. When you eat grains, even when they’re considered “whole” grain, they flood the blood with glucose {aka sugar}, calling insulin into play. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter the cells to be used as energy. When we consume grains with every meal, day in and day out, we put a heavy burden on the sugar handling organs {the pancreas, liver and adrenal glands}, become resistant to insulin and addicted to sugar. This encourages a wide array of health problems such as weight gain, digestive issues, Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and heart disease, to name a few.

Gluten is another problematic aspect of wheat and other gluten containing grains {not all grains contain gluten}. Gluten is one of many complex proteins that make up the structure of gluten-containing grains. Gluten can be very irritating to the digestive tract and many individuals can be/become sensitive, lending a hand to leaky gut, dysbiosis {an imbalance in good and pathogenic gut buggies…to get really sciency on you} and a less than thriving digestive environment. As my clients know and many people are beginning to understand, the health of our digestive tract plays a major role in the function of other body systems and even our overall health.

Phytic acid is also something to consider. Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus and is found in the hulls of nuts, seeds and grains. Phytic acid has a high affinity for {aka it really likes} important minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. When we eat foods containing phytic acid, these minerals become bound up, making them difficult to digest and ultimately can be passed through the digestive tract unused. Cooking food can reduce phytic acid amounts, but soaking, lacto-fermenation and sprouting are much more effective at neutralizing this anti-nutrient. Therefore, proper preparation of nuts, seeds and grains is very important. A great resource for more info and how-to’s is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Also, consider that most of the grains that are sold in common food items like breads, pasta, muffins, cookies, crackers and so on are highly processed, leaving a nutrient devoid Frankenfood not worth  your time!

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So, the bottom line is that grains should be limited or even avoided and it is important to properly prepare grains when they are consumed {soaking, sprouting, lacto-fermentation}.

The best part {and the point of this post} is that there are a ton of amazing alternatives to our common grain-containing foods that are simple, totally scrumptious and most importantly, nutrient dense!

Below is a recipe I have wanted to try for a long time, cauliflower pizza crust! It turned out great and I am so excited to share! I looked at quite a few different recipes and kind of put all the aspects that I liked into this recipe. The sauce is adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. Please, let me know how you like it!

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

For the pizza crust:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

For the pizza sauce:

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • ¼ cup clean water
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 basil leaves, diced

Toppings: whatever you want! For the pizza in the photos, we added broccoli, crimini mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, fresh basil and shredded raw cheese. We also love to add sliced chicken sausage. Feel free to add whatever pizza toppings your family enjoys!

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make the cauliflower rice, pulse batches of roughly chopped, raw cauliflower in a food processor until you achieve a rice-like consistency.

In a large frying pan, melt coconut oil over medium-heat. Add cauliflower rice and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6-8 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix egg, cooked cauliflower, goat cheese, herbs and sea salt. I used my hands here to gently incorporate the ingredients.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the dough in the center and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Use a dough roller or your hands to press the dough out to approximately 1/3 inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper, bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden brown.

While the crust is baking, place all the pizza sauce ingredients in a saucepan; allow to simmer about 15 minutes.

Now, time for the fun part. Spread the pizza sauce evenly across the crust, add your favorite ingredients then top with cheese. Return the pizza to the oven, bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until chees melts and begins to bubble.

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Serve with a fresh green salad and Garlicky Balsamic Vinaigrette! Enjoy!

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