Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

Happy Wednesday. It’s a short week! For that let’s celebrate. Surely all the kids are back in school and this week is probably hectic for many. Here’s some good information and a quick recipe to get you through to Friday.

I’ve always believed that if more people got in the kitchen and cooked meals for themselves and their families, they would be healthier overall. An acquaintance once lamented that she felt like there were so many nutrition rules that it felt impossible to feed herself and her daughter “the right way”, so she gives up and resorts to takeout. I say that the nutrition and wellness community has failed her if that’s what she (and likely so many others) feel. The truth is, a jar of decent quality pasta sauce and a box of whole wheat noodles with a bagged salad on the side is vastly healthier than a drive-thru burger and fries. So, if that’s where you are starting, that’s ok. Trust me, you will progressively become more confident in your cooking and before you know it you will have a repertoire of healthy and delicious meals that don’t feel overwhelming to make on a weeknight. I loved Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s take on this in her article “The Cure Is in the Kitchen” in  Experience Life’s recent issue. Take a look.

Speaking of making things easier in the kitchen, one approach that I’ve always practiced is to make extra for the freezer or fridge. When making soup, I often double the recipe and fill up Ziploc gallon bags with the excess. Lay them flat in the freezer for easy stacking. On busy nights just pull out a bag and reheat. Sides like roasted veggies are delicious warmed up or cold from the fridge all week long. In fact, I just bought another rimmed roasting sheet on Monday so I can easily make even more.  After this hectic week of back-to-school and houseguest coming on Friday,  I will also start using my weekends or Mondays to make a big batch of quinoa or other healthy salad that I can eat throughout the week for lunch. 

And finally, here’s a simple and delicious looking recipe for your next Meatless Monday or whenever you want to load up on veggies. These Vegan Thai Curry Vegetables look fantastic for a cool fall day, and the gentle spice should be well tolerated by all in your house. I would serve them over brown rice and fruit on the side and call it a day. In fact, it’s what’s for dinner tonight.

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed reading. As always, please pass it along, post it to your pages, and subscribe if you did! And I would love to hear what you think in the comments.

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Midweek Mashup

Hearty Lentil Soup

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Easy Posole

Is it warm and sunny where you are today?  We have finally been gifted with beautiful spring weather and it makes me so happy.  I’ve got the sudden urge to spring clean the house from top to bottom.  It happens every year about this time.  The trouble is finding time in the day because I just recently started a new consulting gig from home on top of my course load for my Nutrition Consultant degree.  And golf.  It’s practically the only thing I think about in the warm months.  What is your obsession/hobby/thing that brings you joy?  I’d love to hear about it!

This week I made another Gwyneth recipe from her book It’s All Good. Ever since returning home from Arizona I’ve been craving all the flavors I grew up with.  Jalapeños, chiles, hominy, avocado.  Spicy and fresh.  Gwyneth wrote that her chef made this soup for her on a cool summer day when she wanted something warm but still light.  BTW, if you are wondering what hominy is, read this very informative article entitled “What The Hell Is Hominy, Anyway?”.

So this week I picked up the phone to call my personal chef and then realized, whoops! I don’t have one.  Darn.

I used my own two hands to make this soup and was delighted with the flavors.  It is indeed light and fresh, but still comforting.  It’s full of antioxidants because of all the veggies and herbs. Hominy is high in fiber, low in fat, and is a whole grain. And as made, this soup is vegan.

Some changes I would make: 1)At least double the recipe.  It barely made enough for four regular people. 2)Add at least one additional can of hominy to the soup.  It came out lacking a little bit of heft.  My husband pointed out more hominy would make this soup even better. I should also mention that when I told my husband I was making hominy he thought it was a kind of fish.  Bless his Indiana-bred heart.  3) If you have spice-averse children, omit 1/2 the jalapeños and let people add them at the end. 

Otherwise, I would say this soup is fantastic and just the perfect thing for a day when you feel like eating something that is simultaneously warm and light.  If you want to add some shredded chicken or pork I bet that would taste good too.

INGREDIENTS:

6 tomatillos: peel the papery layers off, rinse, and chop them (throw away the papery outside)

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped (remove the seeds for less spice)

olive oil

sea salt

4 cups vegetable stock (I love Better Than Bouillon which I find at the grocery and even Costco)

A few sprigs of cilantro

28 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed (I personally would double this amount)

GARNISH:

Ripe avocado, diced

Cilantro

Chopped scallions

Sliced radishes

Lime wedges

Anything else that tickles your taste bud fancy

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 450 F. On a large sheet pan, toss the tomatillos, onions and jalapeños with enough oil to coat.  Add a large pinch of salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and a little browned.

Transfer the veggies and about 1 cup of the stock into a blender to puree until completely smooth.  If using an immersion blender like I did, you’ll need more than 1 cup of liquid so it doesn’t splatter.

Add the vegetable mixture along with the hominy, rest of the stock and cilantro to a large pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Remove the cilantro stems and discard.  Add garnish and enjoy!

posole

 

 

BBQ Chicken, Spanish Style

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and were able to spend time with people you love and doing things that you enjoy.  I got to go to a northwoods cabin with my family, where we sat by the fire reading, went ice skating, ate yummy food and just enjoyed being together.  I slept in, went to bed early, and didn’t focus on chores or being productive.  It was fantastic.

I focused more on holiday baking the last several weeks than I did on cooking anything unique. When I’m busy and hectic, usually the first thing to go is my creativity in cooking.  I’ll revert back to things that don’t take much thought of effort.

Last night, after feeling sufficiently rested, I got back to cooking recipes from Gwyneth’s cookbook.  I had dogeared a BBQ chicken recipe that looked good, so that’s where I started. The result was pretty great — the marinade was easy enough.

I prepared the marinade in the morning and after smothering the chicken in it, stuck it in the fridge for about 6 hours.

marinade
Super easy marinade for the chicken

That evening, instead of grilling the chicken in 20 degree weather, I opted to bake it and then put it under the broiler at the end for several minutes to get the skin browned and crispy.  The family liked it, although we all agreed it could use a bit more salt.  Next time I will sprinkle flaky sea salt on top before baking (or finishing salt at the end).

I served the chicken with sautéed mushrooms and roasted Brussels sprouts.

I feel comfortable recommending adding this dish to your rotation! It’s easy, flavorful, and a bit different than the usual baked chicken.

BBQ chicken spanish style
BBQ Chicken, Spanish Style

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch of coarse sea salt

1 t freshly ground pepper

2 t hot pimentón (I used regular smoked paprika)

One 3-4 lb chicken, cut up (don’t remove skin, it’s the best part!)

METHOD:

Mix everything except the chicken in a bowl. Pour the paste all over the chicken pieces and massage it in, making sure to get it under the skin as well. Let the chicken sit in the marinade for an hour or two, or up to overnight. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes until juices run clear.  Or, if it’s warm where you are, grill over low heat for 20 minutes on one side or until it’s firm to the touch and browned.

HEALTHY NEW YEAR

Another year has come and gone.  Now that I’m a grown-up, the years seem to go by so much faster than when I was a kid.  One day my kiddo is a newborn and the next she’s 11 and listening to Adele’s new album 21 on repeat. If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that time continues to tick on even if we aren’t ready for it.

The New Year is a perfect time to remember to take stock of what’s important (staying mindful, feeling gratitude, eating healthy, spending time with family) and toss out those things that aren’t (saying yes to anything you don’t want to do, living your life in “shoulds”, SlimFast shakes, you get the idea).

This coming week I’ll have a new Gwyneth recipe to share.  But in the meantime, enjoy your New Year’s Eve however you wish to spend it.  I’ll be hanging with my family at home eating sushi because the thought of going to some crowded event downtown gives me hives.  See how I said “no” to something I didn’t want to do?  It gets easier the more you do it. Practice it a lot this year. Trust me, it’ll change your life.

Happy New Year 2016

 

THANKSGIVING

thanksgiving table

It’s Monday, and for Americans it’s also the week of Thanksgiving.  This is usually the week where we think and talk about food nonstop.  What will we make?  What will we eat?  What will we have for leftovers?  Pie. Casserole.  Marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes.  Stuffing (my FAVORITE).  It’s a bit overwhelming.

Many fitness and diet experts will give you all kinds of rules and tips to navigate the holidays.  And many of those tips and tricks sap all the fun out of everything.  Don’t eat carbs.  Don’t have gravy.  Skip the dinner roll.  Only have one glass of wine.  Calories in/calories out.

I say, forget that.  Remember that quote I posted last week about how it’s what you eat on a regular basis that counts?  

It's fine to socializeoccasionally with special food and drink.-2

It’s true.  Do you nourish your body with the good stuff more often than not?  Do you give yourself ample opportunities to eat fruits and veggies and drink lots of water?  Even if you answered no, are you really going to start doing this on THANKSGIVING?

Stressing yourself out and feeling anxious and guilty about what you eat messes with your stress hormones, which release into your body, flooding it with chemicals that will inhibit your digestion.  The stress hormone Cortisol is to blame for excess belly fat in many people.  So do me a favor (heck, do yourself the favor) and relax.  If you’re going to eat something decadent, do it with joy and happiness.  Don’t sneak it.  Don’t chew it up quickly and swallow the evidence before anyone has a chance to “catch” you.  Savor it. Enjoy every bite.  AND MOST OF ALL, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When it’s had enough, respect that and put the fork down. And for goodness sake, never, ever comment on how much someone else is eating, what their body looks like, or how it’s now time to “work off all those calories”. 

And the next day, enjoy a green smoothie as part of my Green Smoothie Challenge, a bit of exercise, some fresh air, and the company of the people around you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Salmon with Clementine Cucumber Salsa

clementine cucumber relish fish

I continued on my quest of cooking every recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good this week.  I had some salmon in the freezer and the ingredients for the salsa already in my fridge.  My 11 year old, Reese, helped me assemble the ingredients and acted as my sous chef, which means she peeled the clementines.  Sometimes she’s more enthusiastic about being helpful in the kitchen than others.  While reading the recipe out loud to me she said “This is the first recipe I’ve seen in this book that doesn’t have some totally crazy ingredient”.  I laughed because it’s true.  Gwyneth loves a good totally obscure ingredient (gochugaru anyone?).

The recipe for this dish was ultra-easy which is perfect for a weeknight dinner.  It called for cilantro and mint, both of which I didn’t have on hand.  I firmly believe in adjusting recipes on the fly and not adhering too strictly.  I love both mint and cilantro but knew the salsa would still taste good without it.  I ended up eating the leftover salsa as a salad the next day for lunch. I got two favorable reviews from my kiddo and husband and I also thought it was really tasty. I will definitely make it again and again.

Here it is, adapted from Gwyneth’s original:

INGREDIENTS:

4 fillets of your fish of choice (I used salmon but any would be good)

1/2 cucumber, chopped

4 clementines, peeled and chopped

A few dashes of crushed red pepper, to taste

3 shallots, sliced thinly

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste (I love course sea salt)

Olive oil

METHOD:

Combine the cucumbers, clementine, chili, shallot, lemon juice in a bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, heat a grill or a grill pan over high heat.  Coat the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Grill until firm to the touch, about 4 minutes each side depending on thickness of fish fillets.

Serve the fish with the salsa.

ENJOY!

“Eating kale won’t get you into heaven.”

EATING KALE

I read this quote in a fabulous oped titled “The 5 Pillars of Positive Nutrition”   by Laura Cirullo, RD yesterday.  I loved it so much I made a meme. I adored the entire piece, because it encapsulates all the things I believe about nutrition, i.e.: food is not “clean” or “dirty”.  No food is off limits.  It’s not good to be afraid of your food.  I highly recommend the read for some common sense, non-fear mongering approach to healthier eating.

I think many people might think that because I’m studying to be a holistic nutritionist that I prescribe to the “clean” food movement.  That I only eat organic.  That I won’t eat something if it doesn’t have a superior nutritional profile.  The truth of the matter is that I love eating mini Snickers bars once in a while.  I adore a lemon drop martini when I’m out.  And if a Pillsbury crescent roll is served to me at a friend’s house for dinner, there is a 0% chance that I will pass it up.

80-90% of the time I eat the foods that make me feel my healthiest and that I know will continue to help my body fight disease and chronic illness.  The other 10-20% is reserved for foods that probably won’t.  There’s a saying: “Everything you eat is either fighting disease or contributing to it.”  I think there’s truth in that.  But I also wholeheartedly believe that when you eat enough of the “better” stuff, you counteract the food that eaten in large amounts could be unhealthy. Life for me would be so boring without martinis and bites of candy and a baked good once in a while.

So, yes, I eat kale (loads of it).  But I certainly don’t believe it makes me a better person than people who don’t!  What do you think?