Category Archives: Vegetables

Coconut Lime Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

DSCN3669Well hello there! After a little blogging break I’m back and so excited to share what’s on my plate with you! Lately, I’ve been experimenting with some different styles of cooking. I highly recommend doing this if you find yourself in a food/cooking rut where you’re making the same things over and over again. That was totally me at the end of the winter and I knew something needed to change.

I turned to some current trends like Paleo and vegan to see if I could step outside of my comfort zone and learn a thing or two. And you know what? It’s working wonders for helping me rediscover my passion in the kitchen. Just to be straightforward, I don’t follow any of these diets nor do I plan to. Mostly, I appreciate that they both focus on eating whole foods. {Plus, I often like these recipes because they don’t involve cheese.} I’m loving incorporating a few Paleo and vegan meals into our weekly menus…even though I usually wash them down with a chocolate chip cookie or two : ) Balance, right?

I also love how they’re teaching me about new ways to use certain foods and ingredients. For this roasted salmon, for instance, I used coconut oil, which I absolutely love. I haven’t used it in many dishes so this gave me a new opportunity to experiment with it {total success}. I also made cauliflower rice, which has been a great replacement for brown rice lately. By the end of this winter, I was ready to ease up on the carbs a little bit anyway. {I’m also loving making zucchini noodles with my new spiralizer. Recipes to come!}

If you’ve never made cauliflower rice it couldn’t be simpler: Send the florets through your blender or food processor until it resembles rice. Pour it out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. I like to toss the “rice” with a teaspoon or two of sesame oil for flavor. Easy as pie, right?

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. I’m excited to share some of my other recent cooking successes with you in the coming days and weeks!

Coconut Lime Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

Coconut Lime Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

For the salmon:

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 salmon filets (about 6 oz each)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Juice of 1 lime

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425. Place salmon in a glass baking dish and season salmon with salt and pepper. Combine the coconut oil and lime juice in a bowl and pour over salmon. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

For the cauliflower rice:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves and stems removed, cut into florets
  • 1 to 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425. If you’re using a food processor, add cauliflower florets all at the same time and pulse until it resembles rice and pour out onto a baking sheet. If you’re using a blender (I used a Vitamix) add florets about a cup at a time, blend just until it resembles rice (you don’t want to mash/pulverize it), then pour out onto a baking sheet, repeating until all of the cauliflower has gone through the blender. Spread “rice” into a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. Drizzle 1 to 2 tsp sesame oil onto “rice” and toss to coat evenly.

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds & Pomegranate Seeds

I feel like I’ve been gone for so long and yet I’ve gone absolutely nowhere at all. I’ve been here, working hard.

With Robert’s crazy-long hours at work this time of year, I often revert back to my single gal meals. Soup, soup, and more soup. These gluten-free waffles, a fried egg (he’s not a fan of breakfast for dinner so I eat it a lot when he’s not around), and green juice. Roasted salmon and sweet potato. Not exactly exciting.

BUT. This salad got me excited about experimenting in the kitchen all over again. It came at a time when I had had it with soft food. I have eaten all of the soups, stews, and slow cooker meals I can possibly handle for a good, long while. I just can’t take it any more. I want light, crisp, and juicy! Food that requires molars!

The only problem? It’s still not warm enough to feel satisfied on raw veggies. That’s why this salad was exactly what I needed. The shredded brussels are sautéed, but still maintain a bit of crunch. Toasted almonds? More crunch. Pomegranate seeds? Crunchy and juicy. I made this salad with my absolute favorite vinegar that I discovered on our honeymoonFustini’s fig balsamic vinegar. I’ve gone through two big bottles since September and find a way to put it on everything. However, I’ve also made this salad with regular balsamic vinegar and it’s still totally delish.

I haven’t made an all Trader Joe’s recipe in a while and this is definitely one (not to worry– you can still find all of the ingredients even if you don’t live near a TJ’s.)  I love the packages of pre-shredded brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds, which make this a super-quick,  superfood-packed easy weeknight (or any night) salad.

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds & Pomegranate Seeds

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 10 oz shredded brussels sprouts (about 3 cups)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fig balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar (feel free to taste & add more as you like)
  • 1/3 cup raw slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

Preparation:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sautee about 1 minute. Add brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, until leaves turn bright green and are slightly softened. Add vinegar and toss to coat. Remove brussels sprouts to a bowl. Allow them to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Balanced Juicing: My thoughts, tips & favorite green juice recipe

Balanced Juicing: My thoughts, tips, and recipe for making juice a part of an overall healthy diet.

While I’m usually the last one to get on board with a trend {and usually it’s no longer trendy at that point} I am all about juicing. 

I’ll admit, I first learned about it because it’s so popular. As it turns out, I absolutely love juicing. Loooooooove it! I feel strongly that juicing will continue to be a part of my life long after health nuts are onto the next craze.

I’ve also found ways to make juicing a part of my overall way of eating. You’ll never hear me utter the words “cleanse” or “detox” around here. ::shudder:: If you’re considering juicing or wondering how to do it without forgoing solid foods, I hope my experience sheds some light on ways to do just that. Below, I did a little Q&A {yup, this journo interviewed herself} about all things juicing.

Why do you juice? 

There’s plenty of literature out there that talks about the health benefits of juicing, nutrient absorption in the absence of fiber, etc. But for me the reason is simple: It’s a way to consume lots of nutrients directly from plants.

What do you love about it?

Most importantly, it makes me feel great. I always feel energized after a glass {part of that is from the natural sugars in some of the ingredients, but mostly it’s because of the flood of nutrients.} When I drink it in the morning, I love that I start my day on a great nutritional note. On days when I don’t eat as well as I should, I know that I did something good for myself if I juiced at some point. It’s also a great way to clean out the fridge when we have leftover fruits and vegetables from the week {who can ever make it through a whole bunch of parsley anyway? Juice it!}

How does juicing fit into your overall way of eating?

For the most part, juicing doesn’t take the place of anything, it’s just another way to get a heap of nutrients that make my body feel great. However, I recently cut way back on coffee so many mornings I start my day with green juice and hot tea instead of coffee. Occasionally I’ll have juice in the afternoon kind of like a snack.

Why do you prefer juice over smoothies?

Smoothies are awesome {Robert has them all the time}, but they don’t fill me up enough to actually count as a meal–though they contain as many calories as one. Instead, I’ll have a green juice and solid food. Most mornings I’ll have green juice followed by a bowl of Greek yogurt and my maple walnut granola.

What kind of juicer do you have?

I have the Breville Juice Fountain Crush Slow Juicer and I highly recommend it. From personal experience, I suggest buying a slow juicer instead of a centrifugal juicer. We started with a centrifugal juicer {this one}, a piece randomly broke, I did some research about whether to replace or upgrade the juicer and discovered that slow juicers are much better at extracting  juice from greens and that’s exactly what I’ve found to be true. I get significantly more juice from spinach, kale, swiss chard, romaine, and everything else with the slow juicer than I did with the other one. It also creates very little waste {meaning you get much more juice}. This is all of the waste that came from making the glass of green juice at the top of this post:

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Having said all that, centrifugal juicers are often more affordable and still do a great job at juicing.

What are some of your favorite tips for juicing?

  • Prepare all of your ingredients before juicing. Wash your fruits and vegetables, cut anything that needs to be cut, etc.
  • Place a plastic produce bag over the container that collects the waste. Afterward, you’ll just toss the bag and have to clean one less part.
  • Alternate ingredients. After a few pieces of a leafy green such as kale, for instance, juice something juicier like a piece of apple, orange, or cucumber, and then juice something green again. This helps push more of the green juice through.
  • Clean your juicer right after you juice. Most of the time, I only need to run the parts under warm water and everything comes right off.
  • Clean the glass your juice was in as soon as you’re done drinking it. Otherwise, the juice will stain the glass {speaking from experience…}

What’s your favorite juice recipe?

I love all kinds of juice, but green is my favorite and the one I make most often. It’s slightly different each time depending on what ingredients we have, but here’s a guide for making a delicious, nutrition-packed green juice:

Balanced Juicing Recipe

Makes 1 glass of juice

  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach {or: 4 to 6 stalks of kale, swiss chard, or other leafy green or one head of romaine lettuce}
  • 4 to 6 inch section of cucumber, unpeeled
  • 1 – 2 carrots, unpeeled
  • 1/2 apple, unpeeled
  • Sliver of ginger, unpeeled {about 1/2 inch thick}
  • 1 to 2 clementines, peeled {or: 1/2 orange, 1/4 grapefruit, 1/2 cup pineapple, peeled}
  • 1/4 lemon or lime, peeled
  • 2 celery stalks
  • Big handful of parsley or cilantro
  • 2 oz water

Send all ingredients except water through the juicer, alternating greens with juicier ingredients such as apple, orange, or cucumber. With the juicer still on, add the water to push any remaining juice through. Pour into glass and drink up.

I hope this is helpful! If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. Cheers!

Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd's Pie. A lighter, healthier version of the original with a delicious mashed sweet potato topping.

Well folks, it appears I am on a casseROLL. Get it? Oh, food humor.

We’re still freezing our faces off in Chicago so we need all of the comfort we can get.

Until recently, I wasn’t a big fan of “lighter” versions of more indulgent recipes. I didn’t see the point. My thinking was you could just have a reasonable-sized serving of the original and don’t have it every day. Recently, my thinking has shifted.

While there’s still a time and a place for those more indulgent recipes like special occasions and dinner parties, when you’re making something you’ll be eating throughout the week like we do, it needs to be nutritionally dense and, yes, lighter. So I see those richer recipes as templates or inspiration and then dream up ways to transform them.

How I did that here: Instead of ground beef I used a mixture of ground white and dark meat turkey. There are tons of veggies {though minimal chopping because I relied partly on frozen organic vegetables along with fresh mushrooms}. And instead of mashed potatoes I mashed sweet potatoes with only four ingredients: sweet potatoes, a tiny bit of butter {just 2 Tbsp}, salt and pepper.

In the end, the result is something completely different from traditional shepherd’s pie, but every bit as satisfying and better for you.

Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd's Pie. A lighter, healthier version of the original with a delicious mashed sweet potato topping. Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

For the mashed sweet potatoes:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper

For the shepherd’s pie filling:

  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey (I used 3/4 lb ground white meat and 3/4 lb ground dark meat)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (such as carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp flour

Preparation

For the mashed sweet potatoes:

Place sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, continue cooking until potatoes are fork-tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain. Place potatoes in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use an electric mixer/handheld masher). Add butter. Season with salt and pepper. Mash until light and fluffy.

For the filling:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cooked until turkey is cooked through. Use a wooden spoon to break turkey up into smaller pieces. Remove turkey from pot, place in a bowl, and set aside.

To the pot, add onion. Saute 1 minute. Add celery. Saute until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Use wooden spoon to deglaze bottom of the pan. Cook until mushrooms start to cook down, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add frozen mixed vegetables, 1 cup chicken broth, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, rosemary, and paprika. Add flour and stir until thoroughly combined. Add turkey back into the pot. Simmer about 10 minutes

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees while turkey filling simmers**

Prepare the casserole: Fill bottom of baking dish {I used 9 x 13in) with turkey filling. Top with mashed sweet potato and smooth across the top. Bake about 25 minutes until bubbly.

Healthy Cabbage Roll Casserole

Healthy Cabbage Roll Casserole

What in this world is more comforting than a casserole? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And this recipe is no exception. Where it is the exception: Unlike 99.999999 percent of casseroles out there, it’s actually good for you. Yes, indeed! At the same time, it is sooooo tasty.

I still can’t believe this recipe happened. I mean, cabbage rolls? Really? Does anyone eat that anymore? Maybe not, but they should! For those who aren’t familiar with cabbage rolls, they’re usually ground beef, white rice, seasonings and some other good stuff rolled into cabbage leaves and then simmered in a pot of tomato sauce on the stove for hours. {Keep reading, my recipe can be made in under an hour and contains many healthy upgrades.}

I honestly have no explanation for how it came about except a bizarre craving that happened one day even though I’d never had a cabbage roll in my life. Next thing I knew I was researching cabbage roll recipes like it was my job. I took one stab at developing a healthier version with ground turkey and brown rice and quickly learned how challenging it is to perfectly roll each of the cabbage leaves and then eat the leftover cabbage rolls at your desk without splattering tomato sauce over your keyboard while answering e-mails. Yeah, that wasn’t pretty. But they sure tasted great!

So that’s how this happened: Deconstructed cabbage roll casserole. Easier to make and easier to eat. You’re looking at layers of ground turkey, brown rice, onion, garlic, shredded carrot, and herbs in a tomato sauce, along with layers of lightly seasoned sauteed chopped cabbage. If you’re a texture fiend like I am this dish delivers – the cabbage maintains a slight crunch amidst the softer turkey, rice, and tomato layers.

It’s totally weeknight doable. I chopped the onion, garlic, and cabbage, shredded the carrot, and cooked the brown rice the night before and then put it together the next day. It makes fantastic protein-packed leftovers and freezes beautifully.

I can’t guarantee it’ll be the most attractive thing you’ve ever made when you serve it from the dish {result below}, but if you adore a bowl of food where lots of components mingle together like I do, well, you’re in luck. Comforting doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Healthy Cabbage Roll Casserole

Healthy Cabbage Roll Casserole 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey (I used 1/2 lb ground turkey breast & 1/2 lb ground dark meat turkey)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot (or 2 smaller carrots), peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 head green cabbage, cut in half, remove & discard the core, roughly chop leaves
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

Preparation

**See note below about when to preheat oven**

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, remove from pot, and set aside.

To the pot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, if needed. Saute onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add shredded carrot, thyme, paprika, and cinnamon. Mix to coat everything in spices.

To the pot, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth or water. Add ground turkey back to pot. Simmer about 15 minutes. Add brown rice to  turkey-tomato mixture and simmer 5 minutes more.

**While turkey-tomato mixture simmers, preheat oven to 350 degrees and saute cabbage (see next step below)** 

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and saute until softened, about 10-15 minutes.

Spray casserole dish {I used 9×13 in} with non-stick cooking spray. To make the casserole add half the sauteed cabbage to bottom of the pan, layer half the turkey-tomato-rice mixture on top, layer the remaining cabbage, and layer the remaining turkey-tomato-rice mixture.

Cover casserole with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes more until sauce is bubbling.

Sausage Sweet Potato Soup

Sausage Sweet Potato SoupI kind of feel the need to start this post with an apology. We’ve been eating this soup all winter long and I’m just getting around to sharing it with you now. So guys, I’m sorry.

After making yet another pot of it this weekend, I’m finally here to tell you about it. It’s simple, extremely flavorful (especially for a broth-based soup that’s not even made with homemade broth), and totally healthy.

You start by browning a pound of spicy Italian chicken sausage (or any kind you like). Scoop that out and add some fresh onions, garlic, and leek to the pot to really boost the flavor. Dump in your carrots and celery. Add the sausage back to the pot along with sweet potato chunks, chicken broth, and a little water. Once you’ve reached a boil add your greens and parsley. I typically use swiss chard, but you can use anything that strikes your fancy–spinach, kale, and collard greens all work great, too. Keep things at a simmer for about 20 minutes and dig in!

I can confirm that this soup heals all. As much as I like to keep things happy around here I also like to stay honest. So I’ll admit I’ve been fighting a case of the winter blahs this year (it’s hard not to with the constant grey skies, snow, and cold). At the same time, I could feel a cold creeping in late last week that had me down for the count throughout this weekend. A few spoonfuls of this soup helped me keep in mind that despite my sniffles and sighs, you can always take a moment to savor the good stuff and remember that neither will last forever. Though I sure wish this soup would!

Sausage Sweet Potato Soup

Sausage  Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound raw spicy Italian chicken sausage (casings removed), or any kind of sausage you like
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (be sure to clean thoroughly, they collect a lot of sand/dirt)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (or other green) stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. (Once it’s cooked, I like to take a wooden spoon and break it up into really little pieces.) Transfer sausage from pot to a bowl and set aside.

Add additional olive oil, about 1 Tbsp, to pot if needed. Add onion, garlic, and leek. Season with some salt and pepper. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add celery and carrot to pot. Saute until they start to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Return sausage to the pot. Add the sweet potato, chicken broth, and water. Raise heat and bring to a boil.

Add swiss chard and parsley to pot. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender about 20 minutes.

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

Are you ready for a crazy-easy, totally delectable, healthy weeknight meal? This, my friends, is it. Broccoli and shrimp harmoniously roasted together on a baking sheet. You know what that means? It only dirties one pan! A major win in the world of weeknight meals.

Just toss the broccoli florets with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pop it in the oven for a little bit to get going. Meanwhile, season a pound of shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper, red chili peppers (if you’re into that kind of thing), and the zest of one lemon. Add the shrimp to the baking sheet and let that goodness finish cooking together.

If you like, steam some brown rice or quinoa to round out your meal.

If you’re Robert, douse everything in Sriracha.

What more is there to say?

Dinner is served.

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Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

Serves 2 

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of broccoli (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili peppers
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, toss broccoli with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and black pepper. Spread broccoli onto baking sheet and cook 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine shrimp, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper, chili peppers, and lemon zest. Add to baking sheet and roast about 10 to 15 minutes more, tossing halfway through. Broccoli will be golden and shrimp will be pink and opaque.

Serve with brown rice or quinoa, if desired.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Let’s be honest. If you live anywhere within the Polar Vortex it’s hibernation time. I’m pretty much in hibernation mode between now and March. At first I try to fight it–making plans and lists of fun things to do–but I’m throwing in the towel and just letting it happen this year. For me, hibernation means tons of time at home (many weekends included), fires in the fireplace, movies on TV, reading books, plenty of sleep, and a healthy dose of laziness.

It also means warm, comforting meals. That’s where the slow cooker really shines. If you ask me what’s the one must-have kitchen appliance it would, without a doubt, be a slow cooker. Seriously. If you’ve been on the fence about getting one, just do it. It’s worth every single penny and doesn’t even require that many pennies. You can score a great slow cooker on Amazon.

I adore chili and this is a super healthy version you can make that requires minimal prep time. The only thing you have to do is brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Conveniently, you can chop your veggies in the time it takes the meat to cook. Dump it all in the slow cooker and you’re good to go. I even snuck some spinach in there for an extra dose of greens in your day.

Stay warm out there!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (keep the seeds if you like it spicy, discard if you don’t)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (I used an orange & yellow)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups frozen yellow corn
  • 2-3 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Avocado for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste, cook until it starts to brown. While turkey cooks, chop your veggies. To the slow cooker add jalapeno, onion, pepper, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and red chili pepper flakes. Add turkey. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add corn and spinach. Cook on low until spinach wilts, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls and top with chunks of avocado or any other desired toppings.

*Note: I’ve made this recipe using beans and tomatoes in BPA-free packaging (boxes and glass jars). Although the measurements of those packages differ slightly, I’ve tested the recipe both ways and it works so use whatever you have available.

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod 

 

Healthy Winter Detox Salad

Winter Detox Salad

I realize this is the least festive thing you could lay your eyes on right now, but hear me out. If you’re like me then at some point during the holiday season you’re going to be aching for something that’s not coated in sugar, sprinkles, or sauce. And if you could somehow fit some kale and omega-3′s in there, well, it would be a Christmas miracle. I hear you.

So that’s exactly what you see here. Wintery roasted veggies–brussels sprouts, beets, butternut squash, and turnips–with a healthy filet of roasted salmon all served atop raw kale with a citrusy vinaigrette. And don’t forget about the pomegranate seeds!

There are a lot of different components with this meal, but you can essentially stick the veggies in the oven and forget about them for a little while. And if you want to take an even simpler approach,  grab a package of pre-cut butternut squash from Trader Joe’s so you don’t have to deal with peeling, slicing, and dicing one of those buggers.

So while this plate of health may look a little insane at the moment, I promise that at some point over the next few weeks you’ll be begging for some good clean food. When that time comes, I’ll be right here. Until then, let’s savor every cookie and every moment we get to spend with the people who matter most to us.

Happy holidays!


Winter Detox Salad

Winter Detox Salad 

Serves 2 with leftovers

  • 1 12 oz. package peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 16 oz. package brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved
  • 2 turnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large beet, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • (2) 6 oz. salmon filets
  • salt and pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Generous squirt of honey
  • Splash balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and turnips on a roasting pan or baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1-2 Tbsp). Mix with your hands to ensure everything is lightly coated

Separately, place beet pieces in the center of a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Mix with your hands and fold the edges of the foil together to form a small packet. Place on a separate baking sheet.

Place both baking sheets in the oven and cook about 40-50 minutes until everything is cooked through and starts to brown.

When vegetables are almost ready, prepare the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with some salt and pepper.

Once vegetables come out of the oven increase the heat to 450 degrees. Remove the package of beets from the baking sheet and place salmon on the baking sheet. Roast salmon, skin side down, in the oven 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

Whisk salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

To prepare the salad: Place kale at the bottom of a big bowl. Massage leaves with your hands until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Top kale with roasted vegetables. Garnish with pomegranate seeds. Add as much salad dressing as desired (you might not use it all) and toss until evenly coated. Divide salad ingredients into two bowls. Top each with salmon filet. Add additional salad dressing if you like.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili. ABalancedLifecooks.comThis chili makes me so stinkin’ happy I can hardly stand it. It is soooooooo good. If I made it once a week every week for the rest of the winter I’d be one seriously happy camper. All of the credit goes to my sister, Leah, who’s tweaked this recipe over time to get it just right. The recipe, however, only lived in her brain…until now!

All day Tuesday while I’m sure she was doing more important lawyering things, I sent her a flood of emails to get the deets: ingredients, quantities, instructions. The good stuff.

Be sure to give yourself some time while cooking it. Maybe save it for a Sunday afternoon when there’s a holiday movie on TV. It takes a little while to brown the chicken and cook down the liquid so it slightly thickens, but it’s worth every single second–and then some. The longer your chili cooks the better it tastes.

In addition to your usual suspects like tender chunks of chicken, white beans, corn, and heaps of spices I love that she sneaks swiss chard in here, too. I mean…what? Yeah, not the first chili ingredient you’d imagine. But trust me, you’ll love it. Or at least you’ll barely notice it.

Serve your chili with some chopped avocado and cilantro and a delicious pile of buttery cornbread. Not only is it hearty and healthy, we loved eating leftovers for as long as they lasted.

White Chicken Chili. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

White Chicken Chili

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
  • Salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine or beer (enough to deglaze the pan – you may need more or less)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 (15 oz) cans white beans, drain and rinse all but one*
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, chiffonade leaves
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper

Preparation

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a big stock pot. In two separate batches, brown chicken breast two at a time, about 5-8 minutes per side. Chicken doesn’t have to fully cook through. Remove to a plate and set aside.

To the pot, add onion and leek. Saute until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño, sauté about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, and fennel seeds if using. Coat vegetables in spices and toast in pan, about 1-2 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Pour wine or beer into pot and use a wooden spoon to deglaze bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth, white beans, and all four whole chicken breasts to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 60 minutes.

Transfer chicken from the pot to a cutting board. Remove skin, pull chicken off the bone, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones, place chopped chicken meat back into the pot. Add the swiss chard, corn, and crushed chili pepper. Cook about 10 minutes more until corn is heated through.

To serve, ladle chili into bowls. Top with any toppings of your choice such as avocado, cilantro, or cheese.

*In order to avoid BPA, I limit cooking with canned foods as much as possible. I almost always use organic beans from Whole Foods that come in a cardboard box/TetraPak. Since I know they’re not as widely available I use the word “cans” in the ingredients to avoid confusion.