NEW RECIPE! Roasted Chickpeas, Easy After School (Or Work Or Sports Or Whatever) Snack

chickpeas roasted up close

The poor chickpea.  It gets such little respect. No one can even agree on what its name is.  Is it a garbanzo bean?  Is it a chickpea?  No one really knows.  But before you give up on these little legumes, you should know  they are versatile and yummy and full of goodness.  For instance, 1/2 cup of chickpeas have both 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.  The average adult needs about 24-35 grams of fiber a day depending on how many calories a day you consume.  And while the amount of protein you need is widely debated, it is a good idea to consume a good-quality protein at least 3-4 times a day to keep your blood sugar in check.  I was recently told that my afternoon carb cravings were a result of too little protein in my diet.  I am not sure if that is scientifically sound advice or not, but I have noticed that when I add a protein rich afternoon snack, I don’t feel the need to hoover a bag of Goldfish crackers. 

Roasted chickpeas are so easy to make, and don’t let the fact you have to turn on your oven scare you off of this recipe.  I make these a lot on weekends because I am home puttering around.  Here’s how it works:

INGREDIENTS:
1 15 oz can of chickpeas (double or even triple the recipe if you’re feeding more than just a few people)

Olive oil

Salt/pepper/garlic salt/garlic powder/cumin/cinnamon/whatever spices you want to use (don’t use all of these together, that would be nasty)

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas well in a colander.

Spread out onto a baking sheet, and blot dry with a clean towel or paper towels.

Drizzle about 1-2 T of olive oil over the chickpeas and shake the pan to coat.

Sprinkle salt, pepper and whatever spices you want on the chickpeas.  If you are using cinnamon you might want to skip the salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, and then shake the pan or use a spatula to move the chickpeas around so they evenly bake.

Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until golden brown.  The outside should be crispy and the inside should be tender.

Good luck keeping them around for more than a few minutes!

Until next time…

Nutrition Niblet of the Week

peas and carrots in a flower

This week in my Nutrition Consultant program, we are learning about the digestive system.  There are a lot of buzzwords: villi, microvilli, brush border, bolus, chyme.  The digestive system isn’t sexy and fun, to be sure.  But it’s very important to know how your digestive system works, because about 80% of your immune system resides in your gut.  If your digestion is off or you aren’t feeding it the things it needs, then your immune system could be less than optimal.

Since I want to keep these tidbits easy and quick to digest (see what I did there?), I’m going to focus on one thing today.  If there’s only one thing you change in how/what you eat, it should be S L O W I N G   D O W N.  Digestion starts before you even put a piece of food in your mouth — it actually starts in the brain.  When you anticipate eating, your brain starts sending signals to your body to prepare.  That’s why when you see something delicious, your mouth waters.  It’s amazing what your body is capable of doing when you get out of its way.

When you eat too quickly and under stressful circumstances, you don’t allow for proper digestion. If you, however, chew your food slowly and thoughtfully, then the saliva is able to break down the food the way it’s supposed to before it starts its journey through the rest of your digestive system.

Chew your food slowly, and chew a bunch of times before you swallow.  Eat in peace.  Don’t gulp.  Lose your stress for a few minutes so your body isn’t in fight or flight mode.  When you do this, you allow your digestive system to work the way it was meant to, digesting the food in the proper way at each stop (mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, etc).  When you eat in a hurry or under stress, or in the car or standing up or in front of the t.v. (we’ve all done it) then the food isn’t being digested properly, the nutrients aren’t being absorbed appropriately, and you can end up with chronic indigestion, food sensitivities, and a sub optimal immune system.

More information to come, but for today, just try to slow down when you eat. Be mindful and give a little thanks.  And let me know how it works for you!

New Recipe! Easy Roasted Sausage and Veggies

sausage veggies from above
Lots of vegetables and a little bit of sausage
You know those nights where you want to make a hearty and healthy dinner for your family, but with minimal effort and fuss?  This is the dish for those nights.  You will want to put it in your weekly rotation.  It’s so versatile because every time you make it, it comes out a little different.  You can experiment with unique spices, veggies, sausages. You can even make it completely vegan with some sausage made from vital wheat gluten (I find mine at Whole Foods).

My friend Linda first told me how she would make this super easy and delicious meal for her two sons and husband on a regular basis.  That same night I went home and make it for my family, and sure enough it was a big hit.  Not only that, but it’s economical as you can use less sausage than if it were the main event.  Save money by using in-season and local veggies (which are always cheaper than meat anyway).

This is what you do.  Go to the store and purchase any pre-cooked sausage that looks good.  I usually buy an organic version of chicken apple sausage since that’s what my 10 year old daughter loves.  But any kind of sausage will do.  Cut it into rounds and place in a rimmed baking sheet.  Forage in your refrigerator and pantry for whatever vegetables you have on hand for roasting (or pick some up when you grab the sausages).  Tonight I used mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus, onions, carrots and cauliflower.  Chop and place the veggies in the same baking sheet, and mix everything up.

Liberally drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.  Season with whatever feels good at the time.  For me it’s always salt, pepper, garlic powder.  Then I’ll add whatever else I feel like, which tonight meant rosemary and chives.

sausage veggies uncooked close up
There’s so many veggies in here!
Stick in the oven at 450 (or lower if you have more than about 45 minutes) to roast. Use a fork in the most dense vegetable from time to time to check doneness.  Serve with warm bread and fruit for a complete meal.

When it’s done, let cool and watch it disappear.  For larger families you may need two or even three baking sheets. One works for my family of three with my husband and daughter always going back for seconds, and we end up with extras to spare for leftovers. 

sausage veggies cooked
Sausage and veggies all roasted and delicious.

NEW RECIPE! Grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

I continued making my way through the It’s All Good cookbook this evening with a grilled salmon recipe.  I bought salmon at the farmer’s market  a couple of weeks ago from a man who catches it himself from the waters off of Alaska and packages it right on his boat.  Then it’s flash frozen.  He told me that when I’m cooking it, it should smell like the ocean and not fishy.  Well, he was right.  It smelled fresh and tasted even more delicious.  It was definitely a quality piece of fish.  I served it with roasted Brussels sprouts and quartered potatoes.

salmon grilling
Love the color of fresh salmon

The recipe was so simple even a tween could make it.  I think I’ll be teaching my almost 11 year old this one.

Salmon (the wild-caught kind from the Atlantic ocean has the highest concentration of Omega 3’s) is so healthy for you.  Omega 3 fatty acids are wonderful for heart and brain health.  They also promote  healthy joints and skin, and reduce the risk of heart disease.  According to the American Heart Association, adults should have two servings of omega 3-rich foods per week.

GRILLED SALMON WITH GRILLED LEMON VINAIGRETTE (adapted from the It’s All Good cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Four 6-oz salmon fillets or one large fillet of equitable size
  • 2 T olive oil for grilling, plus 1/2 cup for the dressing
  • Sea salt
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (I like the Lighthouse brand of dried chives in the off-season)
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder

METHOD:

  • Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Add the fish, skin side down and drizzle with the 2T of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.
  • Cook until firm, about 4 minutes on each size.  After you flip the first time, add some fresh black pepper and more salt and garlic powder.
  • At the same time, grill the lemons, cut side down.  Watch them and remove when they are softened and the flesh has darkened.
  • When the salmon is done, transfer to a platter and let rest.
  • Squeeze the grilled lemons into a bowl that already contains the 1/2 c olive oil and chopped herbs.
  • Serve salmon with the dressing on the side
lemon grilled
I’ve never grilled lemons before but I love the sweetness they take on.
roasted veggies
It’s hard to go wrong with simple roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Salmon plated
The finished meal.

I think we will have to make the granola next — it’s back-to-school and we are needing some quick and healthy breakfast options.

Until next time!

This Week’s Nutrition News (And A Poll For Which New Recipe I Make Tonight!)

I am one month into my Nutrition Consultant program and I love what I’m learning.  The first module focused on the basic tenets of eating for health.  A friend suggested that each week I give a summary of sorts about what I’ve learned, which I thought was a great idea.  I will start doing that this week.  The first bit of information I want to leave you with is that if you are ever choosing between local, nonorganic produce and organic produce from far away, choose local.  Organic produce is great for reducing your toxic load.  But if it’s shipped, trucked, flown or otherwise arrives from long distances (for instance, some  grapes come from Chile — that’s thousands of miles away), then the good stuff like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will be greatly reduced.  Not to mention the amount of fossil fuels used to get them to you is huge.  Instead, opt for local if you can.

Tonight I am cooking the next recipe in the It’s All Good recipe book by Gwyneth Paltrow.  If you need a refresher on this project, it’s all laid out here.  I need your help.  I am trying to choose between two salmon recipes and want you to choose!

I’ll make whichever recipe gets the most votes by 4:00 today!

 

NEW RECIPE! Easy Garlicky Mustard Vinaigrette

garlicky mustard vinaigrette

Good quality salad dressing is one of those recipes that is just so easy to make, and so darn expensive to buy at the store.  Most store-bought salad dressings have unnecessary ingredients and fillers, not to mention lower quality ingredients than what you probably have on hand in your kitchen and pantry.

This Easy Garlicky Mustard Vinaigrette is a great recipe to start with if you are new to making salad dressings or you just feel like having a simple vinaigrette.  It’s almost always in my refrigerator.

Every ingredient in this dressing is healthful, and it is full of good fats (olive oil) and possible cancer prevention (garlic, mustard seeds and vinegar).

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (you can substitute any vinegar you like here)

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

¼-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1 clove garlic smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

Black pepper to taste

METHOD:

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously until combined.  When the dressing has the intensity of garlic taste you desire, remove the piece and discard. When you refrigerate this dressing, it will likely turn into a solid.  Simply remove from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before using, or run under warm water. It will last about a week or so in the fridge.

Summer’s End

I always get melancholy at the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.  I remember when my kiddo was 5 and starting kindergarten and how exciting it all was to have a little bit of time to myself finally!  And I blinked, and now she’s 10 and going into fifth grade.  And I realize how fleeting the years are.  Someone once said to me about raising kids: “The days are long, but the years are short”. I think that’s the most accurate depiction of the passage of time I’ve heard.

Reese first day of kindergarten
So excited for kindergarten!

The summer for me is a welcome break from the grind.  It’s full of lazy mornings and late nights and sitting on the couch watching High School Musical 3 snuggled with my girl.  It’s for pool days and zoo days and trips to the farmer’s market.  It’s for road trips to see cousins and playing driveway basketball.

reese and raquel
A long hug to say goodbye to a friend.
reese diving 2
An old-fashioned diving board can’t be beat.
reese, coco and grant in HS
Cousin time is the best in summer.
reese with bear at the zoo
Long days at the zoo.

The school year holds a lot of promise, too.  I will certainly get more done around the house.  The laundry maybe won’t pile up as high, and the tumbleweeds of dog fur that blow across my wood floors might get swept up in a more timely fashion. I’ll be able to focus more on my cooking endeavors.  And my regular trips to the gym after school drop off will resume.  I plan to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I am excited to tackle the closets and drawers.

But it also means tight schedules and rigid waking times.  Carpool and school activities. And homework.  Lord, the homework. And so many forms to be filled out.

But most of all, the start of another school year means another year has passed without my permission, and in another blink I’ll be helping her with college applications. Slow down, time.  Just slow down for a bit.

reese riding bike
There she goes…