Category Archives: Vegetables

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 

 

Advertisements

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.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. ABalancedLifeCooks.comTortilla soup is one of those foods I’m absolutely crazy about. My love for tortilla soup was ignited on our trip to Cabo earlier this year. I ate it every single day. Although the resort had some fabulous restaurants, I was perfectly happy with a giant bowl of tortilla soup for dinner each night topped with plenty of crunchy tortilla chips and avocado chunks. I also recently remembered that I ate tortilla soup the day we got engaged so of course this love affair was meant to be.

As much as I adore tortilla soup, I’m really picky about it, too. It can’t be too creamy. It can’t be too broth-y either. It has to have just the right balance of tomato-y broth with a slow-burn heat plus delicious ingredients like black beans and hominy. Speaking of which, have you tried hominy before? It’s soooo good. Hominy are dried and soaked corn kernels (you buy them already like that, usually in a can, and drain and rinse them like you would beans). It lends a perfect chewy texture and very subtle flavor. You can find it in the Spanish/Latin foods section at your supermarket. I’m happy to say this is the closest I’ve come to a tortilla soup that tastes like the endless bowls I had in Cabo. I hope you love it, too. And, as promised, this is another meat-free recipe to help keep things balanced around here.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Have a great week!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 32 oz low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 14 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • Cilantro

Preparation

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Stack tortillas and slice into thin strips. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on a baking sheet. Add tortilla strips, toss with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer. Bake 8-10 minutes until crispy like tortilla chips. Season with salt while still hot.

At the same time, place whole poblano pepper on top rack of oven. Cook about 5 minutes until warmed through. Once cool enough to handle, remove seeds and ribs and chop.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and poblano. Saute until onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add cumin and cook about 30 seconds. Pour in vegetable stock, tomatoes, hominy, and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened.

To serve: Spread a layer of cooked tortilla strips on bottom of bowl. Add soup. Let sit 1-2 minutes until chips soften. Top with more tortilla strips, avocado chunks, and chopped cilantro.

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

Slo

Brrrrrrrr! It’s downright wintery around these parts and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Monday it SNOWED big fat fluffy flakes. I love the cold! I love the snow, skiing, sweaters, cozy blankets, comforting foods, fires, hot mugs of tea, baking cookies…I could go on. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune when this weather lingers well into March and April– sometimes even May, ugh–but for now, I’m one happy camper.

Whether you’re as psyched about the frigid temps as I am or wish you were tanning on a caribbean beach, I have a meal that will warm you right to the core: Slow cooker 11 bean soup. It’s vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. I’ve noticed there aren’t enough meatless meals around these parts. I’m going to change that for you!

I have a secret behind this meal that takes very little work: Use a dried bean soup mix. I’m sure you’ve seen them before–the packages usually contain dried beans and a spice packet. Except in the recipe below, we’ll toss all of the instructions aside and use mine instead. Deal? Deal. I used this mix by Frontier Soups that I found on our honeymoon. You can buy it online. Another good option is Hearty Eleven Bean Soup from World Market. Any kind will do (and it doesn’t need to have exactly 11 kinds of beans) as long as it already includes a spice packet. Then you just chop up some veggies, dump it all into the slow cooker, and stir in some tomatoes and spinach at the end. Wrap your chilled hands around a warm bowl of this soup, cozy up to someone you love, and I promise we’ll all make it through the winter just fine.

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 package dried bean soup mix with a bouquet garni (packet) of herbs such as Frontier Soups Hearty Meals Minnesota Heartland Eleven Bean Soup 
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 (32 oz) cartons of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a slow cooker, add dried bean soup mix, bouquet garni of herbs, carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add tomatoes and spinach. Cook about 10-15 minutes longer until spinach is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Potatoes

Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Potatoes. ABalancedLifeCooks.comToday’s post is more a public service announcement than a recipe (though there is a recipe so please keep reading!) Did you know you can cook fish that’s completely frozen? Like hard as a brick, slightly encrusted in ice frozen? YOU CAN! And it’s kind of life-changing. Because, if you’re like me, there have been times where you forgot to take the frozen fish out of the freezer in time to thaw for dinner. Then you’re kind of stuck and delivery pizza is sounding really enticing.

After a quick search on the website Cook It Frozen I found roasted salmon, which was my plan all along. (You can also broil, grill, poach, and saute frozen fish.) I just tweaked their recipe to fit what I previously had in mind. Here’s how it goes down: Remove the fish from any packaging. Rinse under cold water to melt any ice, pat dry with a paper towel, and brush with some olive oil. Cook it in a hot, 450-degree oven. About 4-5 minutes into cooking the fish is thawed enough for seasonings to adhere so add some salt and pepper or whatever you like. Pop it back into the oven and finish cooking for a total of about 15 minutes. Yep — it doesn’t even take longer than when the fish is already thawed.

See what I mean? Life-changing. So the next time you see frozen wild salmon, cod, or halibut on sale, don’t hesitate to stock up. Because even if you forget to thaw it, dinner will always be served. We ate our salmon alongside some roasted mushrooms and potatoes, arugula, and a yummy honey vinaigrette that we drizzled over everything on our plate.

Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Potatoes. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Potatoes

**Instructions are for non-frozen salmon. If it’s frozen follow the instructions above.**

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small new potatoes (ours came in a variety of colors including purple), cut into quarters
  • 16 oz button mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon filet (either one big filet or have it cut into individual 6-oz pieces)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard (such as dijon, stone-ground, or whole-grain)
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Greens, such as arugula (optional)

Preparation

Heat oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, combine the potatoes and mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast about 20 minutes. Toss. Keep it in the oven to continue roasting.

Place salmon on a separate, foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes until salmon is cooked through. Remove salmon and vegetables from oven. (So vegetables have cooked about 35 minutes total.)

In a bowl, make the vinaigrette: whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey, and about 2 Tbsp olive oil.

To serve: Place a salmon filet, some potatoes and mushrooms on a plate. Garnish with chopped parsley. Add some greens, such as arugula, if desired. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salmon, vegetables, and greens.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Ground Turkey & Peppers Over Quinoa

DSCN2508

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the older I get the more aware I become of the different seasons of life. We’re coming off one of the busiest times in our life ever. The funny thing about being busy, I’ve recently learned, is that it becomes even easier to stay busy and to take on more and more commitments that keep you busy.

Don’t get me wrong–it has been awesome. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. During it all, I was totally aware that we were in this harried phase of life and I just rolled with it. I will always look back at the last six months with so much love, gratitude, and awe. I’m so proud of and humbled by everything we’ve accomplished and created this year.

But now…now I am so ready for rest; for things to slow down; to back off; to let go. Conveniently, we’re heading into a time of year that makes this so much easier to do. Soon, I’ll share more about how I plan to do this. You can rest assured it’ll include lots of cooking (and posting here), hot mugs of tea, and quality time by the fireplace. If that doesn’t sound like a dream I don’t know what does!

Over the next few weeks, I also plan to share some recipes that I turned to time and again (like, weekly) to help us through this busy season of our lives. We didn’t let our jam-packed schedules cause us to eat out or order in any more than usual. Instead, I created some super simple, healthy, quick, and clean recipes to power us through. So if you find yourself in a busy time of your life right now, I hope they’ll help you, too.

First up is one that I made consistently throughout the summer: Ground turkey and peppers over quinoa. You just brown the turkey and add some spices (chili powder and cumin), saute some peppers and onions, and serve atop fluffy quinoa. Top with chopped cilantro, a generous heap of guacamole, a few spoonfuls of salsa, and shredded cheese (if you like). It’s somewhere between deconstructed chili and fajitas, but completely its own thing.

I didn’t even take the time to make the guac. I used Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number Guacamole, which cost about $4. You get two big packages of the stuff, and it only contains five ingredients: avocados, jalapeno, onion, salt, and garlic. Whether you find yourself in a season of busyness or a reason of rest, it totally hits the spot–along with everything else in this dish!

DSCN2496

Ground Turkey and Peppers Over Quinoa

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Quinoa
  • Olive oil
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 bell peppers, such as one red, yellow, and orange, seeds removed and cut into thin strips
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • For toppers: Cilantro, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese

Preparation

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the ground turkey. Let it cook, without stirring, until it begins to brown. Add chili powder, cumin, and some salt. Use a spatula to break the turkey up, and flip it over so the other side browns. Once cooked through, remove the turkey to a plate and set aside. Add the peppers and onion to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and saute until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the turkey back to the pan and cook until heated through again.

Serve turkey and peppers over quinoa and top with your toppings of choice.