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I personally do not follow recipes very well. However, when an unique food combination comes my way, I revise the recipe to make it healthier for Conscious Nutrition consumption.

I was watching the Food Network recently while I was visiting North Carolina, and came across this new favorite addition to meat, eggs, veggies, quinoa or soups.

• 4-5 cups arugula, washed, long stems removed
• 1 large garlic clove
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup pistachio nuts, shelled
• Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat until warm. Add the pistachio nuts, stirring frequently until beginning to toast (about 3-4 minutes). You will note them beginning to brown. Be careful to not allow them to burn.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, place 4 cups arugula, garlic clove, toasted pistachio nuts and olive oil. Process until liquefied, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you desire the pesto to be thinner, add more olive oil. Serve over freshly made pasta and some chopped pistachio nuts for garnish.

The Conscious Nutrition Program recommends to monitor your combining of protein and starches. However, when you travel we recommend to live and try the food of that region.
This is the healthy version of Shrimp & Grits:

• 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and de-veined if you wish
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or more to taste
• 1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
• 6 thick slices organic bacon, chopped
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
• 2 tablespoons unbleached brown rice flour
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated raw Cheddar cheese
• Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.
Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. (They will bubble up initially.) When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end.
While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion, green pepper, and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue sauteing for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.
When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.
Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy.

Heather Fleming