Archive for December, 2010
One of my favorite Asian inspired dishes is Cashew Chicken. I could probably eat this just about everyday. While it’s convenient to call up your local take out joint and pick up a hot dinner, I’d rather make it myself at home with quality ingredients that not only taste good but are good for me. The dish is easy to throw together and the leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day.
- 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup low sodium tamari or soy sauce (for a gluten free dish use a gluten free sauce)
- 2 tbsp brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped onions (about 1 large onion or 2 small onions)
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (optional)
- 1-2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (optional)
- Start by marinating the chicken. Place the cubed chicken in a medium sized bowl or plastic bag. Add sesame oil, tamari, chili powder, red pepper flakes, brown rice syrup and ginger (if using). Place in the fridge and let marinate for at least 30 minutes – the longer the better.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Add the cashews and stir frequently until nicely browned on all sides.
- Transfer the toasted cashews to a bowl and using a slotted spoon remove the chicken from the marinade and place in the skillet. Saute the chicken pieces until cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Place the extra marinade in the skillet and simmer for several minutes (to kill any bacteria from the meat). Add the onions and mushrooms (if using) to the skillet and saute on high heat for several minutes.
- Combine chicken, mushrooms, onions and cashews. Serve over rice, noodles or even napa cabbage and top with green onions.
Makes 6 servings.
Serving size approximately 1 1/2 cups.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 415.5, Cal. from Fat: 239, Total Fat: 26.5g, Sat. Fat: 4g, Carbs: 22.5g, Fiber: 2.5g, Sugars: 5.5g, Protein: 24.5g, Sodium: 536mg, Chol: 46.5mg
This recipe makes for excellent leftovers! Just place the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge and use within 3 days.
One of my favorite snacks is Baked Pita Chips and Homemade Hummus. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in store bought pita chips? Enriched flours, calcium propionate, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and the always scary natural flavor. No thanks! Making your own pita chips is so easy and only takes 3 ingredients! These are also super kid friendly and having your kids sprinkle on the herbs and spices is a great way for them to help in the kitchen!
- pita bread of your choice
- olive oil
- your favorite herbs and spices *see notes
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut each piece of pita bread into 6 pieces.
- Place the cut pieces on a non stick baking sheet. (I use non stick foil on my baking sheets for easy clean up.)
- Place some olive oil in a small bowl and using a basting brush, brush each piece of pita bread with a small amount of oil. Flip pita bread over and brush again.
- Sprinkle each piece of pita bread with some herbs and spices. Flip the pita bread over and repeat.
- Place pita bread in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping the pieces over half way through cooking. Depending on the thickness of your pita bread you might need to cook for a little longer. The pita bread is done when each piece is slightly crispy.
Nutritional info will vary depending on the brand of pita bread and amount of oil used.
You can season your pita chips with your favorite herbs and spices. Here are a few suggestions:
- Natural Pita Chips – season with sea salt
- Parmesan Garlic & Herbs – season with garlic powder, parsley, grated parmesan cheese and sea salt
- Cinnamon Sugar – season with cinnamon and raw coconut crystals or date sugar
- Italian – season with red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, black pepper and sea salt
- Onion and Garlic – season with dried minced onion (or onion powder), garlic powder and sea salt
You can use as little or as much seasoning as you prefer. I like the Onion and Garlic combination and my kids LOVE the Cinnamon Sugar chips. There really is no wrong way to make these. Have fun experimenting with different flavor combinations.
Leftover pita chips can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.
For gluten free pita chips make sure to use a gluten free pita bread.
Sometimes simple can be so extraordinary. How simple, to take mushrooms, top them with creamy cheese, bake in marinara sauce and end up with a fantastic appetizer that looks and tastes delicious.
- 12-14 medium sized portabella mushrooms (about 12 oz.), stems removed
- 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
- 4 oz soft goat cheese or feta cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped pitted black olives
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 9 or similar baking dish.
- Arrange the mushrooms, top side down, over the sauce.
- Spoon 2 tsp goat or feta cheese onto each mushroom.
- Sprinkle evenly with the olives.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Garnish with parsley, serve and enjoy.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 68.5, Cal. from Fat: 45, Total Fat: 5g, Sat. Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 1.5g, Fiber: >.5, Sugars: 1g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 298.5mg, Chol: 16.5mg
These mushrooms are always a BIG hit at our Christmas morning brunch. Although we usually never have any left, if you do have leftovers they can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for about 2 to 3 days. Simply reheat in the microwave.
I love fruit parfaits. Fresh fruit and creamy yogurt – YUM! It’s been many years since I’ve eaten at McDonalds but back in the day my favorite thing from there was their Fruit and Yogurt Parfait. There were times when I skipped the burgers and fries completely and went straight to the parfaits. I won’t embarrass myself further by telling you how many I could easily down. Let’s just say I pulled out the Mom card and told the cashier “No, these aren’t all for me, I have kids, see!” I still eat way to much of this dessert. Now I just get to do it in the comfort of my own home!
- 32 ounces non fat (or low fat) plain yogurt
- 32 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 5-6 cups fresh berries of your choice
- In a large bowl mix together ricotta cheese and yogurt.
- In another large bowl gently mix together all the berries.
- Spoon a layer of the yogurt mixture into the bottom of 6 parfait glasses.
- Next add a layer of berries and top with another layer of the yogurt mixture. Continue adding a layer of berries and yogurt until you reach the top of the glass.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 359, Cal. from Fat: 109, Total Fat: 12g, Sat. Fat: 7.5g, Carbs: 37g, Fiber: 7.5, Sugars: 19.5g, Protein: 26.5g, Sodium: 303mg, Chol: 51mg
The parfaits can be made ahead of time and kept chilled in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
As an optional twist you can also add one or two tsp of vanilla extract to your yogurt mixture. You could also sweetened your fruit a little by adding a tbsp or so of raw honey.
This upside down apple cake is based on a Torte di Mele which is a Tuscan apple cake. It’s not really cake, it’s denser, almost like bread. The apples are cooked in a skillet until caramelized and then topped with the batter and baked. The pan is then inverted over a plate so the beautiful glazed apples are on top and the sauce soaks through to the pastry below. It’s a perfect dish to have for a brunch or any time.
- 4 Granny Smith apples or other tart apple, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 cup brown rice syrup or coconut nectar, divided
- 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice, thawed
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1-2 tbsp cinnamon
- pinch sea salt
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- Combine 1/2 cup rice syrup, oil, apple juice, cinnamon and salt in an oven safe skillet.
- Stir apples into the rice-syrup mixture, coating the apples well.
- Turn heat to medium and heat until bubbling.
- Cook approximately 30 minutes or until the apples are soft and the liquid has cooked down by half. Reduce heat slightly if the syrup seems to be bubbling too hard.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- While the apples are cooking, in a medium size bowl mix the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup rice syrup, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup ricotta and dry yeast until smooth. Batter will be thick.
- In a separate small bowl beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Do not over stir.
- Once the apples have cooked down, remove the pan from the heat and spoon the batter over the apples, spreading it evenly over the pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the pan cool for 5 minutes, place a plate over the pan and invert. The apples and cake should come out together onto the plate. Spoon any remaining syrup in the pan over the cake.
- Let the cake set for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve while still warm.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 274, Cal. from Fat: 26, Total Fat: 2.5g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 59g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 30g, Protein: 4.5g, Sodium: 52mg, Chol: 57mg
Any uneaten portion should be stored in the refrigerator. Simply warm up leftovers in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
What brunch would be complete without a delicious frittata?! Not only is this recipe so yummy and delicious but it’s also so easy that you’ll be wondering why you ever made eggs any other way! I used asparagus in this recipe but you can customize this meal to your liking by adding your favorite veggies to the mix. These frittatas also save really well and make for a quick breakfast on the run.
- 2 1/2 cups vegetables of your choice (I used asparagus but you can use mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, peppers, artichokes or a mix of everything!)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded or grated cheeses (I used low fat feta cheese but you can cheddar, monterry jack, parmesan, mozzeralla or a combination)
- 10 egg whites (You can also use a combination of egg whites and whole eggs. Try using 2 whole eggs and 8 egg whites like I did.)
- 3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 2-3 tsp herbs and seasoning (for my frittatas I used a tsp of onion powder but you can add basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, black pepper or any of your favorite spices)
- olive oil spray
- This recipe works best using a 6 cup jumbo muffin pan. You can use a standard size as well – they will just be smaller and will cook for less time.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin cups with a little olive oil spray to prevent sticking.
- Cut your vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Divide the vegetables between the six cups. (If you are using ‘thicker’ vegetables, i.e. broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, then you will want to cook them for a few minutes until they are almost tender. I used a Ziplock Zip’n Steam Bag)
- Top the vegetables evenly with the shredded or grated cheese.
- Pour the egg whites into a small bowl (if you are using both egg whites and whole eggs add both to the bowl and beat with a fork to combine), add ricotta cheese, herbs and spices. Mix well.
- Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables evenly among the six cups. Stir with a fork to gently combine the ingredients.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the eggs are firm and the tops are slightly brown (if using standard size muffin cups bake for about 20-25 minutes).
- Serve immediately and ENJOY!
Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional info will vary depending on ingredients that are used.
The frittatas can be kept in the fridge for several days. Simply microwave on high for about 1 minute to reheat.
I don’t know if these crepes are truly Swedish pancakes or not, it’s just what my mother called them. They have always been a favorite of Sarah’s, so grandma always made them for her when we went for a visit. I cleaned the recipe up so Sarah can still have them for our traditional Christmas brunch.
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tbsp brown rice syrup or raw honey, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch fine sea salt
- oil for misting the skillet
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened apple raspberry juice concentrate, thawed (or any other unsweetened flavor)
- 2 heaping tsp arrowroot powder
- 8 ounce bag frozen unsweetened mixed berries, thawed
- Whisk the flour, eggs, milk, water, 1 tbsp brown rice syrup, vanilla, and salt together until mostly smooth (batter will still have some small lumps). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. This allows the air bubbles to dissapate so the crepes are less likely to tear.
- When ready to prepare, mix 1 cup ricotta cheese with 2 tbsp brown rice syrup, set aside
- In a small cup mix 1 tbsp juice concentrate and the arrowroot powder until dissolved.
- In a medium saucepan bring 1 cup juice concentrate to a boil, turn heat to low and stir in the arrowroot mixture stirring constantly until thickened.
- Add in the frozen berries. Stir just until mixed . Too much stirring after this will thin the sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Mist oil over a 10 inch non stick skillet and bring to medium heat.
- Place 1/4 cup batter into the pan and immediately swirl the batter in the pan to coat the entire bottom. The batter should be very thin.
- After 30-45 seconds the batter should turn from wet and glossy to dull. Flip carefully with a spatula and let the other side cook for about 20-25 seconds. Slide the crepe to a cooling rack.
- Repeat with the remaining batter, 8 crepes in all.
- Lay 1 crepe out onto a plate. Spread 2 tbsp ricotta mixture across one end and roll. Spoon hot berry sauce over the top.
Makes 8 servings.
Serving size 1 crepe.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 185, Cal. from Fat: 36, Total Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 29g, Fiber: 3.5g, Sugars: 10g, Protein: 7g, Sodium: 77mg, Chol: 62mg
You can make the crepes ahead of time and once cooled, stack them and store in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days or for up to 2 months in the freezer. When thawing the crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart. Make sure to keep the berry topping separate until ready to serve.
Although cinnamon roasted almonds make it onto our table for our Christmas morning brunch, they don’t last long! I LOVE these little bits of heavens. For me, it’s almost worth it to brave the crowds at the mall just to smell the cinnamon roasted almonds that show up at those little kiosks this time of year. ALMOST! Now the wonderful aroma can fill your kitchen at home!
- 2 cups whole raw almonds (you can also use roasted almonds – just make sure you DON’T use salted almonds)
- 2 1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup or raw coconut nectar
- 4 tbsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp raw coconut crystals or date sugar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- In a small bowl mix together the coconut crystals and cinnamon.
- Place the almonds in a large bowl and add in the coconut nectar. Stir well to evenly coat the almonds.
- Add the coconut crystal mixture to the almonds and stir to evenly coat.
- Transfer the almonds to a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and spread evenly in a single layer.
- Bake for about 25 minutes. The almonds will still be very sticky – that’s ok! They ‘crisp’ up once they cool.
- Cool for 20 minutes and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Serving size 1/4 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 241, Cal. from Fat: 148, Total Fat: 17.5g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 17.5g, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 7g, Protein: 7.5g, Sodium: 4.5mg, Chol: 0mg
Almonds can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for about a week – that’s if you have any left!
Not to toot my horn but I just made the best Lentil soup EVER! It is so flavorful and yummy that it was hard to stop after one bowl – ok, maybe 1 1/2 bowls. There is a bit of prep time involved – mostly just chopping vegetables but it’s so worth it in the end! Plus this recipe makes a big batch so you can freeze some of the leftovers and now you have a quick and easy meal for those busy days and nights!
- 2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
- 8 cups reduced sodium vegetable stock (you can use water but it is not as flavorful)
- 1-2 medium sweet onions (I love onion so I used 2 of them but if you aren’t a big fan then go with just one)
- 2 cups Garnet yams (The Garnet yams are what give this soup such a great flavor. If you can’t find them at your local store then you can substitute with regular yams – not to be confused with sweet potatoes.)
- 1-2 heaping tbsp minced garlic
- 3-4 medium carrots
- 3-4 celery stalks
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by chopping the carrots, celery, onion and yams. You will want to keep them all roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. I left the yams slightly larger to give it a more chunky feel.
- In a large soup pot add olive oil and heat on medium. Add onions, carrot and celery and season with a pinch of sea salt.
- Let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once every minute.
- Add garlic and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Be sure to stir often so that you don’t burn the garlic.
- Add the vegetable stock and turn heat to high.
- Add the lentils, yams, basil and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cover for an hour.
- The longer you leave your soup simmering the thicker and creamier it will be. I let mine simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
Makes 20 servings.
Serving size 1 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 130, Cal. from Fat: 15, Total Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 23g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 5.5g, Sodium: 77mg, Chol: 0mg
Trust me, the prep work in chopping your veggies are well worth the benefit you get from this nutrition packed soup. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Because of the insoluble fiber in lentils they are indigestible and pass quickly through the body virtually intact making calorie absorption nearly impossible which helps with weight loss. And if that weren’t enough there is a study that was carried out by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston which has shown that diets high in lentils and peas (which both contain high levels of flavones) have a reduced risk of breast cancer. Plus unlike other store brand soups you get all the deliciousness without the extra sodium. So move over chicken soup, grab a spoon and dig in!
We all should know the importance of getting more fiber in our diets by now. Americans, and I’m sure other countries as well, don’t even get half the recommended daily amount. I like to start my day with a warm bowl of steel cuts oats after coming in from a run on a cold winter morning. I get a good dose of fiber that tastes really great and it warms me up from the inside out. Think you don’t have time to add making oats to your busy morning schedule? Here’s the solution, make them the night before and they are ready and waiting in the morning.
- 4 – 5 cups water
- 1 cup steel cut oats, aka Irish oats (not rolled, old fashioned or quick cooking)
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- add ins like unsweetened fruits (dried, fresh or frozen),nuts, spices, milk, vanilla, etc.
- You will need a glass bowl large enough to hold the water and oats. I use a 2.5 quart Pyrex bowl.
- Crumble 3-4 pieces of aluminum foil into balls and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker (this keeps the bowl from sitting on the bottom of the slow cooker and possibly cracking). Fill your slow cooker with water about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up.
- Place the glass bowl in the slow cooker (it should float) and add the 4 cups water and 1 cup oats to the bowl.
- Cover and cook on high for 7-8 hours depending on the consistancy you like your oats.
- Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid and stir.
- Now is the time for the add ins. Mix in fresh, dried or frozen fruit (thawed), nuts, spices, milk or vanilla. I usually add in So Easy Applesauce, but if you like sweeter oats try stirring in some date sugar, raw coconut crystals, maple syrup, honey or even thawed unsweetened frozen juice concentrate. A really good flavor to add is vanilla. Scrape the inside of a vanilla bean and add along with the bean pod into the oats when cooking. Remove the pod before eating.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 150, Cal. from Fat: 25, Total Fat: 2.5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 1g, Protein: 5g, Sodium: 0mg, Chol: 0mg
Depending on how long you will be cooking your oats and the consistancy you like them you may need to use more water. If you will be cooking them a full 8 hours I would add another 1/2 – 1 cup water. The same goes if you like them thinner and creamier. If you want to make this recipe directly in the slow cooker without the bowl you can do so by misting the crock with oil and doubling the recipe, 8 cups water and 2 cups oats. The smaller recipe would cook too fast and dry out. Making more is another time saver because the oats keep well in the refrigerator for several days and can be reheated in the microwave.