All posts by whitney

Recipe Roundup: Our Favorite Summer Corn Recipes

Favorite Corn Recipes

It’s the middle of summer and we’re loving all of the fresh summer produce, especially corn! Right now is the best time of the year to buy corn so you have to take advantage of the low price and large ear size while you can!

This week I’ve compiled a list of our favorite summer corn recipes from Little Leopard Book as well as several recipes from our favorite fellow food bloggers (trying say that 10 times fast!)

Whether your looking for traditional corn on the cob or an inventive new way to cook up the summer veggie, you’ll find it here! Summer won’t last forever, and neither will your chance to try these delicious eats so stock up, get cooking, and dig in!

1. Corn on the Cob: Four Ways {Baked by Rachel}

2. BBQ Grilled Corn, Jalapeno, and Peach Quinoa Salad {Half Baked Harvest}

3. Roasted Corn and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes {Pinch of Yum}

4. Grilled Corn and Chipotle Pesto Pizza with Queso Fresco {Half Baked Harvest}

5. Deconstructed Mexican Street Corn {Little Leopard Book}

6. Corn, Cheese and Sundried Tomato Scones {Fork Spoon Knife}

7. Gluten Free Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread {Little Leopard Book}

8. Chicken and Sweet Corn Tamales with Green Chili Avocado Salsa {Little Leopard Book}

9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Corn Quesadilla {Pinch of Yum}

10. Zucchini Corn Cakes with Tarragon Remoulade {Little Leopard Book}

11. Grilled Corn Guacamole {Pinch My Salt}

12. Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers {Bev Cooks}

13. Summer Grilled Mexican Street Corn Fettuccine {Half Baked Harvest}

14. Corn and Black Bean Salsa {Homesick Texan}

15. Spicy Creamed Corn {Little Leopard Book}

16. Italian Corn Salad {Little Leopard Book}

17. Grilled Corn, Mango and Jicama Salad with Honey Vinaigrette {Pinch My Salt}

18. Red Bell Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche {Dixie Caviar}

 

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Keeping Fit Through July 4th

America

It’s that time of year again. July 4th weekend is upon us along with hot weather and the need for BBQ preparations. This coming weekend we celebrate America’s independence and all the fine things we as Americans stand for, as well as the things we enjoy most such as country music, American food, and the outstanding fashion statements of red, white, and blue!

In between all the party planning, recipe choosing, and coordinating of family fun you probably have yet to realize this weekend could take a serious toll on your workout routine. Have no fear Little Leopard Book is here! This week we’re giving you the best ways to keep up with your exercise routine while still enjoying the sunshine and chowing down on the Independence Day feast. There’s nothing like the great outdoors and playing as if you were a kid again. These activities are so fun you won’t even realize your still logging your extra calorie burn.

Exercise-Run

July 4th Weekend Races
Calories burned: Estimated 100-150 per mile (depending on intensity and body weight)
There is a very small town in California called Bridgeport where I spent almost all of my 4th of July celebrations growing up. The town comes alive truly only one time per year and that just so happens to be this coming weekend. Aside from the parade, BBQing, and rodeo, there is a tradition that occurs every July 4th bright and early, the annual 5k race around Twin Lakes, the two fishing lakes outside of town. The race runs around both lakes through the trees and below the mountain peaks giving the perfect outdoor jump start to an awesome celebratory day. While you may not spend your 4th of July in this very town that I do, 4th of July races are a common event! Whether you can run a fast 10k or would rather slow your pace in a 5k with the family, there is something for everyone and it is an excellent way to keep your fitness routine up without interrupting the fun. To find a race near you be sure to check out http://www.runningintheusa.com/Race/FourthOfJuly.aspx

Exercise-Swimming

Swimming
Calories burned: 200-400 per hour (depending on body weight and intensity)
July 4th is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons, one of them being that it falls during the perfect time of summer! I am a hot weather fanatic. Whether you agree with me or not, the heat gives you the perfect excuse to enjoy some pool time. Throw on your American flag printed swimwear and dive on in to beat the heat, have some fun, and keep your fitness up!

Exercise-Hiking

Hiking                                                                                   
Calories burned: Up to 400 per hour
Chances are you plan on visiting with your family and friends the whole holiday weekend, get them motivated to move as well and hit the trails. Heading outside and exploring all that nature has to offer can boost your mood and bust your muscles. With all the work of reality, it’s nice to unplug every once in a while.

Exercise-Biking

Biking
Calories burned: 200 (moderate intensity for 30 minutes)
While you may not be a professional cyclist with a plethora of neon bike suits in your closet, that doesn’t mean you still can’t get a workout riding down the streets on a beach cruiser. Whether you need to grab a few missed items from the grocery store or just want to kill some time before it’s dark enough for fireworks, take comfort in the fact that you’re getting a workout in! With all this exercise you’ve been doing you may even feel inclined to go grab a soft serve ice cream cone. Of course, I recommend you ride your bike there ;-).

Exercise-Frisbee

Frisbee                                   
Calories burned: 100 (moderate intensity for 30 minutes)
Call the kids and throw the frisbee around the backyard. This activity involves little preparation, can be played pretty much anywhere, and is fun for all ages. Might as well burn a few extra calories while waiting for the burgers to finish on the grill, right?

Exercise-Volleyball

Beach Volleyball
Calories burned: 280 (moderate intensity for 30 minutes)
If you’re lucky enough to live in a beach town like San Diego and are planning on watching a fireworks show from the sand, take advantage of the beach time and start up a game of volleyball during the day. This activity makes it easy to include your family and friends and will help you forget how crowded the beach is. Not only is it a fun and competitive way to enjoy the day, beach volleyball is also an awesome workout for both cardio and muscle work.

Exercise-Dance

Dance
Calories burned: 115+ (moderate intensity for 30 minutes)
While you may normally think the line-dancing going on after the 4th of July parade is a little too cheesy, I say this is your year to join in! Release some endorphins, let go of your inhibitions, and have a blast. You can’t embarrass yourself if you’re having fun.

Follow our advice and keep your summer body strong this weekend! Other healthy tips include staying hydrated in the heat, keeping your alcohol consumption down, and following key healthy food swaps, such as substituting mayonnaise for Greek yogurt in your macaroni salad or reaching for hummus and veggies instead of potato chips! Be sure to check out our 4th of July inspired Pinterest board and build your BBQ menu Little Leopard Book style. We wish you all a safe, healthy, happy 4th of July filled with lots of fun and flavors! We can’t wait to hear about all the recipes you try!  Feel free to share your LLB 4th of July recipe pics on our Facebook page or tweet them over to myself or Whitney!

Best Foods to Beat Stress

StressFoods

Stress is something everyone deals with at different levels, different times, brought on by different measures. The key to living through your body’s natural response to change is learning what steps you can take to make it more manageable. While stress can have some short-term positive effects, over time it can negatively impact one’s physical and emotional well-being.  Managing stress comes down to the decisions you make every day, even one as simple as deciding what to eat!

When I first mentioned the idea of this post to my boyfriend, he responded the way many people would, stating his idea of stress reducing foods is high sugar, high fat, comfort foods with an occasional beer here and there. While these foods may provide a quick fix, in the long run they actually increase stress. When your body is confronted with stressful situations, it responds by releasing the hormone cortisol. This hormone ultimately causes you to crave the very same foods that will actually increase its production.

Before I get down to the foods you should be eating to handle stress, I am going to briefly describe the foods you need to avoid and why. The first on this list is energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages. While energy drinks and sodas provide instant relief, the sugar crash that follows can be taxing on your body, increasing stress levels. Another caffeinated beverage, coffee, increases agitation and can cause dehydration further fueling stress symptoms. Next on the list are high sodium foods. The extra salt causes your body to retain more fluids putting extra stress on your heart and increasing blood pressure. The extra bloating and puffiness you experience can drain energy and in turn increase stress. Refined sugar is the next food to avoid when you are feeling stressed out. Refined sugars cause fluctuations in blood sugar leading to irritability and poor concentration. Finally, alcohol is one of the worst offenders when it comes to increased levels of stress. While one would think it improves mood and causes relaxation, studies show it actually “feeds” stress. It stimulates stress hormones and can prolong symptoms related to stress. Studies show that the pleasant feelings of alcohol diminish when the body is in a stressful state and even small amounts can increase spikes in cravings. Furthermore, alcohol is also dehydrating and can seriously impair sleep.

While you may be thinking there is no way to satisfy those stress-induced cravings, there is an answer! Below are the foods that can decrease the feelings of stress and help you continue on with everyday life without the harmful effects that stress can cause.

Complex Carbohydrates
A key factor in mitigating the effects of stress is the regulation of a hormone called serotonin, also know as the “feel-good” hormone. Complex carbohydrates encourage the production of serotonin and are slowly digested to give you a strong, steady stream that lasts throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates also produce serotonin but offer only a quick relief. While simple carbohydrates can help when dealing with stress, experts suggest choosing complex carbohydrates for a healthy, long-term solution. These foods include whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, and old-fashioned oatmeal.

Try our No Bake Oatmeal Almond Date Bars for that complex carb boost! And don’t worry, you don’t have to make them into Easter Bunny shapes 😉

Easter Almond Date Bars

Vitamin C
Studies show vitamin c slows the production of stress-produced hormones and strengthens immunity, further helping the body deal with excess stress. Nutritionists suggest oranges, cantaloupe, and even berries.

Our Vitamin Boost Juice is perfect for this!

Citrus Carrot Juice

Magnesium
The most suggested stress-relieving magnesium-rich food is spinach but can also include dried apricots, soybeans, green leafy vegetables, and even sushi with its magnesium rich seaweed and the outstanding benefits fish has. Magnesium deficiency leads to headaches and increased fatigue further fueling the production of stress hormones.

Try our Spinach Strawberry Salad for the perfect magnesium-filled lunch that is low in sodium and high in flavor!

Grilled Chicken Spinach Strawberry Ricotta Salad

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, offer a variety of benefits due to their Omega-3 health properties. These fatty acids prevent spikes in cortisol and offer increased benefits protecting against heart disease and mood disorders.

Try our Mango Avocado Ahi Lettuce Wraps for a healthy and delicious fill of Omega-3’s!

Avocado Ahi Lettuce Wraps

Pistachios, Walnuts, Almonds
While high in fat, nuts contain many nutrients to fight against stress and bolster the immune system. The healthy fats in nuts help lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and protect against negative stress effects. Almonds further contain Vitamins E and B that help build resilience to depression and other stress-induced problems.

Our Pistachio Crusted Tilapia is made in only 20 minutes with 7 simple ingredients for a great stress-fighting dinner!

pistachio tilapia, pistachio crusted tilapia, pistachio basil tilapia, basil tilapia, sweet lime tilapia, lemon basil tilapia, pistachio lime tilapia, pistachio tilapia recipe, recipes, paleo, gluten free pistachio tilapia, paleo tilapia, gluten free

Avocados
Avocados contain high amounts of potassium that reduce high blood pressure making your body more prepared to deal with the symptoms stress brings on.

Whip up our Strawberry Peach Guacamole and use vegetables for dipping to keep snacking during the day healthy!

Strawberry Guacamole Recipe

Sleep Inducing Foods
One of the most important ways you can deal with stress is to ensure your body continues to stay on a normal sleep pattern. If stress is contributing to a loss of sleep, try drinking a warm glass of milk, chamomile tea, or having a light carb rich snack before bed. The calcium in milk eases feelings of anxiety and reduces moods swings. A light snack, such as whole-wheat toast, releases the feel-good hormone serotonin, and chamomile tea is proven to have properties that aid and promote sleep.

Grass-fed Beef
Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron, and vitamins that can help reduce mood swings. When you can, go for grass-fed options to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics.

This list is meant to give you the most basic understanding of what your body needs to best defend against feelings of stress and further fight against the onset of anxiety and mood disorders. On top of this list, it is suggested to exercise regularly and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable and cravings manageable. By following these steps, you can be confident in any stressful situation that you have the tools necessary to bounce back and keep your spirits high. Use the tools I have given you, listen to your body, and take on all that the world has to offer!

Top 10 Kitchen Essentials: Your Ultimate Buying Guide

Kitchen Essentials Infographic

While I’ve always been interested in cooking, there is no shortage of recent college graduates who have lived the past four years surviving on top ramen and making very good friends with the pizza delivery guy! There are also those people out there that may not be recent college graduates, but somehow missed that moment when they were supposed to delete the local Chinese restaurant number from their “favorites list” on the iPhone!

Now that we’re in “the real world”, it’s time to start cooking REAL food! Learning to cook, and I mean cooking that doesn’t involve placing a bowl in the microwave, can be both daunting and confusing. More than that, the last thing anyone wants to do is dish out hundreds of dollars on kitchen items that will barely get used! That’s why I’m here. This week, Little Leopard Book has compiled a list of our top kitchen essentials to make even the most novice cooking experiences run smoothly. While these items vary in price depending on how fancy and high-tech they are, by purchasing the most basic option of each item, everything on the list can be added to the kitchen for under $200! Combine our list of essentials with our delicious recipes and anyone can fall in love with cooking and all that homemade has to offer!

Cutting board: I don’t think I could survive in the kitchen without a cutting board. Not only does cutting directly on the counter create a mess, I would argue that it’s not even socially acceptable! My advice is to have a couple on hand, this is especially useful when cutting both veggies and raw meat. The two should definitely not mix! I recommend using a wood cutting board for veggies, herbs or bread and a plastic cutting board for preparing raw meats.

Chef’s knife: This item goes hand in hand with a cutting board. Life in the kitchen is much easier when struggling to saw through food is not an issue! A good knife cuts down on time, reduces the probability of slicing fingers, and makes it easier to chop food evenly, ultimately making the end result more appetizing.

Measuring Cups: While the experts may not rely on exact measuring, when learning and trying new recipes it is necessary to do so. With correct measurements, new recipes are much more likely to turn out delicious the first time around!

Measuring Spoons: Like measuring cups, these make sure a new dish turns out perfect on the first try. Use these to measure seasonings for that extra pop of flavor in recipes!

Colander: From my experience pasta is one of the easiest dishes to make, but only if there’s a colander around to help the process! Pasta dishes can be prepared a number of ways depending on the type of sauce used, the veggies or meat added, and the cheese inside or atop the dish. Experiment with different ingredients and flavors to find your favorite! My favorite is our Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne! A colander can also be used to rinse fruits and veggies quickly and easily.

Blender: Even though we’re growing out of our “college phase” in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean we have to ditch our friend, the blended margarita, after all, we’re never too old for margaritas!  And of course after those margaritas over the weekend, a blender is an awesome item to have on Monday morning for a delicious Lean and Green Superfood Smoothie to prepare for the week!

Garlic Press: I have my mom to thank for my obsession with the garlic press. While ready-to-go minced garlic in a jar can be purchased, I highly suggest taking the route of buying fresh garlic cloves and a garlic press. The flavor is much better with fresh garlic and a garlic press is simple to use. Many recipes give ingredients in the number of garlic cloves, which can be hard to measure with jarred garlic. Most importantly, this will save money!

Baking Stone: I may have lied at the beginning of this post, pizza is still allowed in “real life” but why not make your own? Baking stones are perfect for making pizzas and baked goods. They help in creating a more even temperature, prevent burning, and are non-stick. I love using mine to make Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies 😉

Zester: No matter how easy a dish is to make, a zester gives the impression of mad cooking skills! Use it with lemons, limes, and other garnishes for a pop of color and flavor. Easily grate fresh parmesan on top of pasta or pizza or use the zester with a little chocolate to amp up any dessert!

Cast Iron Skillet: A cast iron skillet is durable and will last forever! It can be used on the stove, grill, or in the oven. I love using mine for our Cast Iron Skillet Rustic Potatoes.

 

Paleo Infographic: Everything You Need To Know

FinalPaleoInfographic*

A few months ago, a friend of mine started dating a guy who swore by his Paleo lifestyle. Initially, we could not understand why anyone would choose to follow such a strict diet. Many questions arose even one as simple, and stupid, as “does he actually hunt and gather his food?” While this question may seem ridiculous, the hunter-gatherer methodology of our ancestors largely builds what the Paleo diet is all about. I have not tried the Paleo diet yet and do not in any way claim to be an expert. However, when I have attempted to look up what the Paleo diet consists of, I have found a bunch of different viewpoints, making it confusing and difficult for one to start their own Paleo venture. Between the above paleo infographic and the following post I’m going to simplify what Paleo is, why one should consider the diet, and how to get started. Consider this your go to guide for all the Paleo basics.

For more Paleo information and great Paleo recipes for the grill, check out our very own Whitney Bond on the San Diego 6 Morning News Show!

What is “Paleo”?

The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet craze, often called the caveman diet, began as early as the 1960’s shunning products of the agricultural revolution and the creation of the highly processed foods that exist today. The basic premises of the Paleo diet are simple, eat as if you were roaming the earth more than 10,000 years ago before junk food and heavy pasta meals existed.

What can I eat?

Foods allowed on the Paleo diet all mimic what would have existed in the Paleolithic period. This includes grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut). Any type of food that was produced as a result of the agricultural revolution technically cannot be included. This includes grains, legumes, potatoes, refined sugar, dairy, salt, processed foods, refined vegetable oils, and alcohol. If it could not be hunted or gathered by our cavemen ancestors, don’t eat it! Sound too difficult? The leading specialist of this natural diet, Dr. Loren Cordain, offers three “levels” of Paleo in his book The Paleo Diet. These levels enable dieters to slowly transition to full Paleo or stop at whichever point works for them.

Why would I want to be Paleo?

The claims of the Paleo diet all surround themselves with the idea that you’ll live a healthier, fitter life. Paleo research claims it is the only nutritional approach that works with our genetics and ultimately prevents, and can often remedy, the ills and diseases caused by modern day food production. Through their research, Paleo enthusiasts blame refined foods, trans fat, and sugars as the root of many degenerative diseases including obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility. In terms of weight loss, the Paleo diet is much more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than shedding pounds, but by ditching processed foods, many do lose weight as a result. This diet plan does not cater to vegetarians, although it can be modified. It is naturally gluten-free, satisfying another degree of healthy eating.

Is Paleo really the healthiest way to eat?

Critics of the Paleo lifestyle emphasize that humans have evolved to be able to eat modern day food. The wild game that existed during the Paleolithic period is not the same as the meats available today, and the sustainability of Paleo is currently not as realistic as it needs to be. Critics claim nearly every fruit, vegetable, and animal is drastically different from those that our cavemen predecessors consumed. Furthermore, our cavemen ancestors ate the way they did out of necessity, not out of want. There is little research on the actual proven benefits of the Paleo diet. These reasons aren’t necessarily an end all for Paleo, the diet is all about how you feel on it and responding to what your body tells you.

Interested in exploring what it means to be Paleo? Check out our most popular Little Leopard Book Paleo recipes including our Chipotle Lime Chicken Fajita Skewers, Grilled Pineapple Tomatillo Guacamole, and Caribbean Mango Avocado Ahi Lettuce Wraps or visit our Paleo page to explore more options!

 

Introducing Erin, Coordinator of Leopard Mayhem

Erin4

Hey Little Leopard Book lovers. Erin here, the new intern around the Little Leopard Book offices. All summer long I’ll be coming at you with the latest health tips, recipe tricks, and all of the fun posts that I can think of! For my first post, we thought it was only fitting to introduce a little bit about myself. After all, I have a feeling we’re going to become very good friends. I grew up in Northern California in the East Bay town of San Ramon.

While I loved growing up in “the bay”, college seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out life in the most perfect city on Earth… you guessed it, San Diego! I just finished my 4th year at San Diego State University where I was a member of the Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Delta Gamma Fraternity. While a DG I held the positions of both social chair and president. I graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. While I loved my political science degree, I recently realized I wasn’t the perfect fit for a career in law or politics. That’s when I decided to switch it up! I will be attending the University of Southern California this fall to pursue my M.A. in journalism. For now I am spending the summer in San Diego and having as much fun as I can learning and playing at Little Leopard Book! I am so excited to get to know all of you following LLB and hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Erin5

Why I love Little Leopard Book:

Little Leopard Book truly is optional eating. Whether you’re a full time vegetarian, a lover of buffalo sauce, or conducting a trial run of the paleo diet, there is something for you. There are an extensive variety of recipes that are both easy and fun to make!

What is my favorite type of food?

My boyfriend jokes that my favorite food is avocado mainly because I put it on absolutely everything! While he may be right, I would say my favorite type of food is Italian. One day I hope to travel through Italy, or rather eat my way from city to city. They know what they are doing! I can’t wait to try the LLB Italian Crab Cakes!

crab cakes, italian style crab cakes, easy crab cakes, simple crab cake recipe

 What do I like to do during my free time?

When I’m not coordinating mayhem at LLB, I love to spend time with my family and friends. I like anything that involves being outdoors. I’ll try anything once, I love seeking out new experiences, and meeting new people. You can find me browsing farmers markets, shopping in Pacific Beach (and spending way too much), or running along Mission Bay. I also love finding cool new restaurants and trying all types of craft beer. San Diego is one of the top beer cities in the world, have to take advantage of it right?

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 What is my favorite LLB recipe?

As you have probably noticed, here at LLB we have a slight buffalo sauce obsession, including myself. The buffalo sauce recipes are definitely my favorite and I am making it my mission to try all of them, starting with the Buffalo Chicken Burger.

 Buffalo Chicken Burger Recipe

What is my favorite dish to make?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite dish I like to make, but I do have a favorite cooking holiday. My first attempt at cooking was three years ago when I decided I no longer wanted the family plethora of casseroles at Thanksgiving. I took on the holiday (besides pulling, who knows what, out of the uncooked turkey) by myself and decided to begin my own search for recipes. From that point forward, Thanksgiving in my household has been known as my thing. It is what first inspired me to try cooking and every year I continue the search for new flavors and healthy alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving eats.  I can’t wait to try Little Leopard Book’s Cranberry Glazed Turkey Breast this year!

Cranberry Glazed Turkey, Turkey Breast, Cranberry Glaze, Thanksgiving Turkey, Christmas Turkey, Cranberry Turkey Breast Recipe

Feel free to tweet me with any of your other questions @ErinAshMacLeod!  Looking forward to hanging with you all this summer!