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Avocado Tacos

Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe avocados
  • Juice of 2 fresh limes
  • 1 lb. ground protein of choice (chicken, turkey, veggie crumbles, lean beef)
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • Homemade taco seasoning (or use store bought packet):
    • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/8 tsp onion powder
    • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/4 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • diced tomatoes
  • pico de gallo
  • cilantro
  • olives
  • shredded cheese
  • avocado
  • Combine spices well, you will only use about half of this mix per pound of meat, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut avocados in half, brush with fresh lime juice, sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  2. Brown meat with the onion in a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Once cooked through, drain well.
  4. Add homemade taco seasoning (I add a sprinkle at a time, and taste test until it’s right) and 1 Tbsp hot water.
  5. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until flavors combine.
  6. Scoop hot meat into avocados.
  7. Top with pico de gallo, cilantro, green onions and any other toppings you desire!

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Easy Pico De Gallo

Easy Pico de Gallo Recipe

2 servings

Ingredients

5 roma tomatoes diced

1/4 yellow onion diced

1/4 cup Cilantro minced

1/2 jalapeno pepper minced, seeded if you want a more mild taste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 cloves garlic minced or pressed

salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Mix and season with salt, to taste.
  3. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve!

 

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Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad

Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad

6 Servings

Ingredients

15 oz. canned, no-salt-added black beans (1 can), drained, rinsed

2 avocados halved, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 mangos cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 small red or white onion (about 1/4 cup), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 or 1/2 jalapeño pepper, stems discarded, seeded, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped)

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Combine the black beans, mango, avocado, onions and jalapeño pepper. Do not mix until you add the dressing.

Combine the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, chili powder, black pepper and salt together in a jar with a secure lid, shake together until mixed well and pour over the mango and avocado mixture.

Toss gently to coat and serve.

Cooking Tip: You can serve this with crunchy vegetables like cucumbers and/or jicama, cut into ¼ inch slices and used like chips.

Keep it Healthy: When using canned beans, drain and rinse under cold water for a minute to remove some of the sodium.

Tip: You can also enjoy this in a sandwich or wrap. It is a great dish to bring to potlucks or picnics.

Tip: This salad will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and the flavors keep improving.

 

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Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

Servings: 10 – 12

Ingredients

5 lb / 2.5 kg pork shoulder (pork butt), skinless, bone-in (4lb/2kg without bone) (Note 3)

1 onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, deseeded, chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 oranges, juice only (or sub with 3/4 cup fresh orange juice)

Rub

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, rub in salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the rub ingredients then rub all over the pork.
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up), top with the onion, jalapeño, minced garlic (don’t worry about spreading it) and squeeze over the juice of the orange.
  4. Slow Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 6 hours (or 1h 30 m in an electric pressure cooker on high. If using stovetop pressure cooker, please see notes).
  5. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the slow cooker and let cool slightly. Then shred the pork using two forks.
  6. Skim off the fat from the juices remaining in the slow cooker and discard the fat. Then if you are left with a lot more than 1 1/2 to 2 cups of juice, then reduce it (either in the slow cooker on the sauté setting with the lid off, or in a saucepan). The liquid will be SALTY, it is the seasoning for the pork. Set aside.

To Serve

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large non stick pan over high heat. Place shredded pork into the pan, drizzle over some juices. Wait until the juices evaporate and the bottom side is golden brown and crusty. Turn and just briefly sear the other side – you don’t want to make it brown all over because then it’s too crispy, need tender juicy bits.
  2. Repeat in batches (takes me 4 batches) – don’t crowd the pan.
  3. Remove pork from skillet. Drizzle over more juices and serve immediately (if you are using defrosted carnitas, this is not applicable as the juices are already on the meat – see Note 4c).
  4. If you are reheating the carnitas (Note 4), then flip and cook the other side briefly just to warm through. I really recommend only making one side crusty and leaving the other side juicy and moist.

Recipe Notes

  1. If you are using a piece of pork that is not the size I use, you MUST reduce the salt accordingly. If your pork is more than 1 lb / 0.5 kg larger or smaller than the prescribed size, ensure you adjust the other ingredients accordingly as well, not just the salt.
  2. To make this in the oven, add 1 cup of water to the braising liquid. Place in 325F/160C oven for 2 hours, covered, then roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. Add more water if the liquid dries out too much. You should end up with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid when it finishes cooking.

If you make this recipe in the oven, you could skip the pan frying step because you will get a nice brown crust on your pork.

  1. Use pork with the skin removed but leaving some of the fat cap on. The fat adds juiciness to the carnitas!
  2. Taco Fixing suggestions: Diced avocado or make a real proper Guacamole, Pico de Gallo or salsa. Also try pickled red onion, cabbage, lettuce, tomato,
  3. MAKE AHEAD:
    1.  For overnight or up to 3 days, the best option is to shred the meat without pan frying, keep the juices separate, refrigerate, then pan fry to make it golden and reheat the meat, pouring juices over while it is browning per recipe.
    2.  To brown the meat ahead, the meat actually holds up pretty well in terms of staying crispy. It’s even pretty good refrigerated overnight – but a) is definitely better. Keep the juices separate and pour it over just before reheating the pork. You can reheat in the microwave, quickly reheat in the pan or if you have loads, in a foil covered roasting pan in the oven at 180C/350F for around 8 – 10 minutes.
    3.  To FREEZE: This holds up great in the freezer. Pour the juices over the pulled pork (pre browning) and store in ziplock bags or airtight containers. Freeze in small batches for convenience. To use, defrost completely before following the recipe to brown the pork.
    4. STOVETOP PRESSURE COOKER – use a rack to elevate it from the base OR add 3/4 cup of water. Then once the pork is cooked, remove it then simmer to reduce to around 2 cups of liquid.

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Cold or Allergies?

Spring is here and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many.

There are two types of allergies, year round and seasonal. Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. You may also notice that allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. Someone allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while someone who has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after being outside.

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing symptoms.


Questions to Consider:

  • Length of symptoms. The common cold typically resolves within 2 weeks. If symptoms last longer than this, it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Do you have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature, it is safe to believe you have virus.
  • Do you have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes, while the common cold does not.

 


To diagnose allergies, your provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your symptoms or condition.

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Is it a Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Spring is around the corner and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many families and children.

Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

 

Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. Parents may also notice that their child’s allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. A child that is allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while a child that has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after they have been playing outside.

 

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing a child’s symptoms.

 

Questions to Consider:

  • How long has your child had symptoms? The common cold typically resolve within 2 weeks, so if your child has symptoms that last longer than this it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Does your child have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your child’s symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature it is safe to assume that they have a virus.
  • Does your child have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes while the common cold does not. Dark circles under the eyes are also a common sign of allergies in children.
  • Do any of your child’s playmates or siblings have similar symptoms? If you have noticed that other children that your child has been in close contact with have similar symptoms, a virus is the most likely cause.
  • Is there a family history of allergies? Allergies are more common in families with a history of allergies.

 

To diagnose allergies, your child’s provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your child’s healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your child’s symptoms or condition.

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Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb spaghetti, vermicelli, capellini, or angel hair pasta (whole wheat or gluten free pasta works great)

1 1/2 lbs broccoli heads, cut from stalks into small florets (about 1 lb florets)

3/4 cup pesto (with cheese or dairy-free)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Grated parmesan, pecorino, or vegan parmesan cheese

Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook to desired tenderness, stirring frequently. See pasta package for instructions – cooking time will depend on the type of pasta you choose.
  2. While pasta is cooking, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add broccoli florets to the pan and cover tightly with a lid.
  3. Let the broccoli steam for 2-5 minutes, or until tender and bright green.
  4. Remove from heat and drain in a colander.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water in a separate bowl, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine pesto, olive oil, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add additional pasta water to make the sauce more liquid, if desired. Season with salt to taste (if using dairy-free pesto, you may need more salt for flavor).
  7. Add the steamed broccoli to the pasta along with the pesto sauce. Toss the pasta and vegetables gently with the sauce to coat. Salt again to taste, if desired.
  8. Serve pasta topped with grated parmesan, pecorino, or vegan parmesan cheese. If you’re vegetarian, be sure to choose parmesan with a vegetarian rennet. You can also sprinkle on a few red pepper flakes for a touch of spice, if desired.
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Cheater’s Power Salad

prep time: 5 mins

cook time: 15 mins

total time: 20 minutes

yield: 2-4

Ingredients

1 bag southwestern salad mix

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, cubed

¼ cup nuts or seeds (if not included in the salad mix)

shredded chicken, quinoa, or other protein of choice

Instructions

Cook the chicken (or other protein). For shredded chicken cook one pound of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (15 minutes) or slow cooker (3-4 hours) with a jar of salsa or some taco seasoning.

Toss your salad ingredients together. Drizzle on the dressing and enjoy!

NOTES

The salad mix I use has lots of cabbage, carrots, kale, cilantro, green onions, as well as some toppings. A good salad mix (like this one) is very important for making this cheater’s salad worth your while. This is not an iceberg lettuce situation. It is fresh, nutritious veggies pre-chopped with some yummy extras to boot.

I don’t recommend making this all at once for one person – I just cook all of the chicken, keep it in the fridge, and then assemble salads throughout the week as I’m ready to eat them.

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15 minute Cauliflower Fried Rice

prep time: 10 mins

cook time: 5 mins

total time: 15 minutes

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

 

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower OR 1 10oz bag of pre-riced cauliflower

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 bag frozen peas and carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup frozen edamame

2 beaten eggs (use scrambled tofu for vegan)

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (use tamari for GF)

6 green onions, minced

Instructions

PREP CAULIFLOWER: Shred cauliflower using the largest side of a grater OR by just pulsing some rough cut pieces in a food processor; the end product should resemble smallish grains of rice OR steam the pre-riced cauliflower according to package instructions.

STIR FRY: Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the carrots and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, edamame, and remaining sesame oil to the pan; stir fry quickly to cook the cauliflower to a soft (but not mushy) texture.

FINISHING TOUCHES: Make a well in the middle, turn the heat down, and add the eggs. Stir gently and continuously until the eggs are fully cooked. Stir in the soy sauce and green onions just before serving.

NOTES

For the sauce on top, whisk equal parts soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and oyster sauce together and drizzle it over top with sesame seeds.

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Sealants! What are they and why does your dentist recommend them?

Our molars are big, round teeth designed for grinding and chewing.  If you feel your teeth with your tongue, you will feel bumps on them.  These are called cusps, they are like the mountain tops of your teeth—they are sharp and pointy.

In between the cusps or mountains, there are grooves.  These grooves are very deep for some people, and they trap bacteria and sugars, causing cavities.  Sometimes, the grooves are so deep and skinny that your toothbrush bristles can’t reach into them.  For these teeth, dentists recommend sealants.

Sealants coat the teeth and fill in the grooves.  Imagine painting a molar with white fingernail polish.  Sealants coat the teeth for several years, preventing tooth bugs from hiding in the deep grooves and causing cavities.

 

Here are a few common questions parents ask:

  • What age children need sealants?
    1. We recommend sealants on permanent molars. At 6 years of age, children’s first permanent molars start coming in.  At age 12, the second set of permanent molars come in.  So, starting at age 6 and again at 11 or 12 years, your dentist or dental hygienist will check to see if your child needs sealants.
  • My child doesn’t eat candy or drink pop. Does she still need sealants?
    1. Even healthy foods like dried fruit can cause cavities in children with deep grooves. We still recommend sealants, as they last for years.  Sometimes, children’s diet changes at school—they start sharing treats with friends, or drinking juice or pop.
  • Do sealants hurt? Will my son have to get numb?
    1. Sealants are painless, no need for numbing! We will clean the surfaces of the teeth, then use a type of “tooth shampoo” to prepare the tooth for the sealant, then place the sealant.  If your child is very sensitive to taste, we even have products that don’t have any flavors and that minimize rinsing with water.  There are lots of options for sealants, and we highly recommend them.
  • Are sealants the same thing as fluoride?
    1. Sealants are a coating for your teeth, they do not contain fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral found in toothpaste, some mouthrinse and some water supplies.

by Dr. LaVonne Hammelman