Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken & Lentils...

Umm... helloooooo goodness! Loved this new recipe I tried- VERY tasty, full of flavors, and something fun to change things up a bit. I know you will love it too! You could easily make this recipe without the chicken if you are vegetarian or if you want to serve it as a side dish, but it's also delicious and filling as the main course... give it a whirl!

1 TBSP expeller pressed coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup lentils
1.5 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
10 oz. tomato sauce
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
s & p
Soak your lentils for at least a 1/2 hour (up to 2 hours)
Sautee your onion, carrots, and garlic

Brown your chicken breast pieces

Everything cooking together!

Soak your lentils in a bowl of water for 1/2 hour prior to the meal (which means you can start soaking and then do all your chopping and they will be ready to go). Add a little oil to your pan and brown your chicken breasts for 3-4 minutes per side. I cut my chicken breasts in half lengthwise, then in quarters (so 8 pieces total) and season it with s & p. Once the pieces are browned, but not completely cooked, remove them on a plate and set aside. Then add another drizzle of oil and your chopped onion, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Drain your lentils and add them to the pan, along with your chicken broth and seasoning. Cover and cook that for 10 minutes, then add your chicken breasts back along with your tomato sauce & lemon juice and cover & cook for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water to it if it seems to thick for your preference, or leave it as is. Serve by itself or with a crips, green salad. Enjoy!

Spice it up?? For a different flair, replace the 1/2 tsp dried rosemary with 1/2 tsp of cumin.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Simple Smoothies...

I would like to dedicate this smoothie to my little friend Charlotte, who can detect kale in a smoothie from a mile away :) Ain't she precious??? This one's for you Charlotte... free of any kale (but loaded with spinach! :)
This is a really "kid friendly" smoothie, with just 3 fruits- and of course some greens snuck in there.... but you don't need to mention that to the recipient! Recently I did a post on Calcium and Vitamin D and the importance of getting essential vitamins and minerals into OUR diets and those of out kids.... so if you have a picky kid who doesn't like veggies.... try this out, and let us know the results! The recipe below will make enough for 1 sippy cup and 1 large glass for an adult or 2 sippy cups and 1 medium glass for an adult.

1 banana
2 small oranges or 1 large
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 large handfuls of spinach
3 TBSP flaxseed
1 TBSP chai seed
6 cubes of ice
1/3 cup of coconut water (or juice if you need more disguising!)

Dump all the ingredients into your Vitamix or blender and blend!

TIPS FOR KIDS: If your kid turns up their nose at a green drink- try adding 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, it will help change the color from green to purple!!! Also... try putting it in a cup that's not see-thru.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lemon Honey Chicken.....

Oh MY goodness... this is DELICIOUS! Honestly, I have been on the hunt for some yummy new chicken dishes, and this one is a CHART TOPPER!! I am thinking it might be my new go-to, last minute meal, maybe incorporated on a weekly basis... it was SUPER good and SUPER simple!

4 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 TBSP honey
1/8 cup expeller pressed coconut oil
1 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

chicken browning in the skillet

before going into the oven

finished product after the oven!

I used 2 large chicken breasts and sliced them in half and then in half again then I put them in a large ziplock bag and mixed the marinate together and let it refrigerate for an hour (you can do 1-2 hours, but chicken really shouldn't marinate for longer than that). Then I poured the whole bag into my skillet and browned the chicken by letting cook for about 4 minutes on each side. After that I scooped it up and put it into a pyrex dish and popped it in the oven for 20 minutes on 400. It was flavorful, moist, juicy... just wonderful!

I served it with Parmesan Parsnips (fabulous!) and Sauteed Squash (another staple in our house!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Almond & Apricot Bark

Ummm... do you need a chocolate fix? Wait, I know what you are going to say.... I start a lot of posts with that exact same line! Do I love chocolate?? YES I DO! And the darker the better for me... none of this milk chocolate business!

Here's a quick fix to needing a little pick me up in the middle of the day- or if you are feeling generous with your chocolate, make a batch, break it up and fill a jar with it- it would make a great gift for a hostess for Easter or a birthday friend who deserves a little crunchy goodness! The bad news, it's so good you will want to eat the WHOLE BATCH! The good news, you can try to tell yourself it's almost as healthy as a vitamin- I mean come on- dark chocolate, almonds, and apricots.... that's almost comparable to a vitamin, right??! :)

1 cup dark chocolate, at least 60% cocoa
3/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler or a glass dish in your microwave. Add your chopped almonds and apricots. Stir well and pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Put in the freezer to harden. Remove and break into pieces, sneaking some for yourself as you fill your jars. I keep mine in the fridge in an air tight container so it stays crunchy and fresh.

EXTRA CHOCOLATE??? Dip some whole dried apricots in your melted chocolate and place them on a parchment lined plate, into the fridge to harden and you have a quick dessert!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Santa Fe Salad (Revised)

This is a great recipe that was in desperate need of some update photos... so the salad is not revised, just the blog post! Yet another delicious, nutritious salad for your dinner table!

Head of Romaine
chicken breast (I use 1/2 per person)
1 can black beans
1 ear of cooked corn (frozen/can will work)
1 avocado
1 tomato
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup jack cheese
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 small jicama, diced * optional
crushed tortilla strips

Dressing: You can make your own by mixing ranch dressing with some heaping spoonfuls of salsa or use your own favorite, a lot of times I revert to my staple balsamic which, of course, works well on this too!

Seasoned and Shredded Chicken from the Crock pot
(see "Time Saving Tips" below)
BBQ sauce added to the shredded chicken
Adding the veggies, beans, and chicken
All mixed up!
*If you are going to cook your own corn, start boiling your water. Then brown your chopped chicken breasts with a little bit of lemon pepper seasoning OR salt & pepper and a little BBQ sauce (my fav). Set that aside. Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Chop your salad, tomato, and red onion. Pull your corn out and cut off the kernels. Shred your cheese, use what you have if you don't have or won't both, do what works for you! Dice some jicama and avocado last, then top with crushed tortilla chips and dressing and enjoy!

TIME SAVING TIP: I also use shredded chicken in this recipe which I cook in my crock pot. I will put 4 breasts in the crock pot, add a splash of water (and usually s & p & garlic powder) and then cook them for 6 hours. When they are done, I shred them and separate it for different meals that week. Ideally I store it in the fridge if I am going to use it in the next 2-3 days, but if not you can freeze it and use it later. I find when freezing it, it's better to have some "liquid" on the chicken to prevent drying out- so add your salsa or BBQ sauce BEFORE freezing- but use it fresh if you can. I For instance, might use 1/3 of it for this Santa Fe Salad, 1/3 for Chicken noodle soup, and the other 1/3 for BBQ Chicken Pizza or Tostada Pizza.... always thinking ahead on ways to save some time in the kitchen!

Vegetarian- Simply remove the shredded chicken and double the beans!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Calcium and Vitamin D

I am doing it. I need to step up on my Soap Box for just a minute, I promise it won't be long... if you don't want to read it, close the tab, I am not offended.

So I found this latest article by Dr. Fuhrman very interesting and really wanted to share it with others, hence my copy and paste job to my blog. I find it so interesting, especially as a mom of young children, that calcium absorption can actually be BLOCKED by too much salt, caffeine, animal products, and SUGAR in our diets... Sometimes (actually, often) I get razzed/made fun because I monitor my child's intake of sugar and I don't allow her to indulge in it everywhere we go- but then when I read studies like this, I am affirmed in my decision to continue to monitor it and be okay with denying it (for her and for me) throughout the day. If I DO ACTUALLY get adequate greens in her diet, then I don't want to go overboard and dump all these "other things" in her system that will end up blocking the absorption of the vitamins and minerals that her body NEEDS to stay healthy. Again moderation and balance is my goal, I am in no way advocating nixing it all out...

Also, I wanted to point out HOW IMPORTANT it is to be eating vegetables, and how important it is for our children to be eating GREEN VEGETABLES.... did you see the part that states "32% of calcium is absorbed from milk, whereas 50 % of calcium is absorbed from green veggies".... that's a BIG DEAL.... we should be just as concerned (or even more so) that our kids are getting veggies in their diets as we are milk.... not to mention all the other wonderful health benefits that veggies bring. I could go on here, but I am trying to contain it.

So, are you thinking, "my kid doesn't eat veggies so now what???" Well, let's learn and share our ideas with each other. Let's open it up, how do you get your kids to eat veggies... Do you serve them first before they are allowed anything else on their plate? Do you mix them in smoothies?? (if so check out this recipe). Do you not allow them dessert until their veggies are gone?? Are you eating them as an example?? Or, do you just have then angelic children that ask for more broccoli please??? :) Share with us your wisdom... and read the article too! Leave your thoughts and insight PLEASE!!!

Ok, I will step down from my soap box now.... read it for yourself:

Calcium, Vitamin D, and Osteoporosis
About 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis, and 34 million are at risk.1 Contrary to popular belief however, low intake of calcium is not the primary cause of osteoporosis. While Americans have the highest calcium intake in the world, we also have one of the highest hip fracture rates in the world.2The standard American diet causes much of the consumed calcium to be lost in the urine. Excess salt, caffeine, sugar, and animal products leach calcium out of bones and promote urinary calcium loss.3The Nurses’ Health Study followed 72,337 women for over 18 years and found that dairy intake did not reduce the risk of osteoporosis-related hip fractures.4

In contrast, vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of calcium and other important minerals, and do not promote the urinary excretion of calcium. A three cup serving of raw, chopped greens – like kale, bok choy, or collards – provides the same amount of calcium (or more) as one cup of whole milk. Only 32% of the calcium in the cup of cow’s milk can be absorbed by the human body compared to about 50% for many green vegetables.

Calcium isn’t the only important nutrient for bone health

It’s also important to keep in mind that the effect of nutrition on bone health is more complex than just getting adequate calcium. For example, vitamin K also supports bone health, and vitamin K is abundant in leafy greens.
6 Of course, vitamin D also plays a critical role in regulating bone health. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the intestine as well as the activity of bone building cells. Medical studies show vitamin D is more effective than calcium for treating osteoporosis.7 The most natural way to obtain vitamin D is through sun exposure, but because of indoor jobs, our climate, and skin cancer risk it is virtually impossible to achieve optimal levels of Vitamin D from sunshine alone. Vitamin D supplementation is necessary for most people.

How much calcium and Vitamin D are necessary to protect against osteoporosis?

Most Americans take inadequate amounts of Vitamin D and excessive amounts of calcium. Approximately 50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.
8 For optimal bone protection, I advise having a blood 25(OH)D test, and then supplementing accordingly to keep Vitamin D levels in the range of 35-50 ng/ml.9,10 If you have not had yet your blood tested, 2000 IU is a reasonable daily dose to start.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quick Garlic Tip...

Here's something that I usually keep on hand for those times when you run out of garlic, forget it at the store, don't have time to mince your own, or realize yours is growing green unwanted sprouts :)

This is the greatest little invention, they sell frozen Garlic Cubes as well as cilantro, basil, and parsley in little tiny ice-cube-like-trays. I pick mine up in the frozen section at Trader Joe's, but other markets carry them as well. There are some dishes where fresh is still best, but for others like soups, crock pots, and other warm entrees, these do the trick quite nice! Just a tip for you this Wednesday to help simplify your time in the kitchen!