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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy’

We’re trying to take advantage of the last few weeks of daylight savings time and mild temperatures by using the grill whenever possible for dinner. While Brandon is a year-round griller, it’s just more enjoyable to be out there in daylight and not shivering!

We’re always looking for ways to mix it up on the grill so we’re not always preparing the same grilled chicken, fish, steak, veggies, etc. Luckily, we have some great resources for inspiration and while flipping through The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue, I came across this recipe for Tandoori-Style Chicken Breasts. I really enjoy ethnic foods and I was especially excited for the opportunity to use the turmeric and coriander that are usually pushed to the back of the spice cabinet.

This chicken features a thick coating of a very flavorful spice rub. The tandoori effect is achieved by getting the grill really hot and starting the chicken on high heat before moving it to a cooler side of the grill. The yogurt sauce is the perfect finish and a nice contrast to the chicken. I served the chicken with Indian-Style Potatoes from Epicurious and roasted broccoli.

Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts with Yogurt Sauce
(Recipe adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue)

Ingredients:

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE
1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (if you’re a cilantro hater like my husband!)
1 garlic clove, minced (I briefly sauteed ours before adding it because I cannot do raw garlic)
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

FOR THE CHICKEN
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE
Whisk together all ingredients and season to taste with salt and cayenne. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

FOR THE CHICKEN
Prepare grill. If using gas, preheat by turning all burners to high and closing lid.

Mix together ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne together in a small bowl. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and then generously coat with spice mixture.

If using gas grill, leave one burner on high and turn others to medium low. Place chicken on hot part of the grill until well-browned, 2-3 minutes with the lid down. Move to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook for another 10 mninutes. Turn and cook for 5 more minutes or until done. Internal temperature should read 160 degrees.

Note that we cooked this on the Big Green Egg and used a similar technique to the above by moving chicken to a cooler part of the grill after the first few minutes and cooking with lid down.

Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then slice. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

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There are a few foods that are dinner staples in our house. We can’t seem to go a week or two without having them. Pizza, pasta and Mexican are three of the things you’ll find us eating frequently. (And coincidentally all feature carbs and/or cheese!)

We decided on pasta last night but wanted to try a new recipe. Typing “pasta” into the search box on Epicurious yields overwhelming results so in order to focus us a bit more, I gave Brandon The Gourmet Cookbook to browse through. He came up with a Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto that sounded great and featured a 20 minute start to finish time. This was perfect since we weren’t able to start on dinner until after 8 p.m.

We made a few modifications to the original recipe. The biggest was the addition of shrimp which we both agreed really took the dish up a notch. Overall, this is a very simple recipe but each element plays a big part in the flavor, especially the arugula. Don’t skip it.

While the pasta was boiling, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with a little bit of a lemon pepper rub (Dizzy Pig Shakin’ the Tree). Once the pasta and shrimp were done, I drained the pasta and dumped all the ingredients into the pot with the pasta. After a stir and a generous crank of salt and pepper it was time to eat.

I served this  dish with a hunk of bread and olive oil dipping sauce. At one point I said, “Mmm…I love carbs.” aloud. We’re happy to have another pasta dish worth repeating (over and over again) in our repertoire!

Pasta with Shrimp, Arugula and Prosciutto
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta (half box) pasta, penne, corkscrew, etc.
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Seasoning of your choice for the shrimp (salt and pepper, lemon pepper, etc)
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto, chopped
3/4 to 1 pound arugula, stems removed, chopped roughly (I used about 1/2 of a clamshell container)
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 quarter lemon, squeezed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

While pasta is cooking, sautee shrimp over medium high heat with olive oil and seasoning of your choice. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Return pasta to pot and toss with prosciutto, shrimp, arugula, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the pasta water if it seems dry.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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I love everything about summer dinners. Eating outdoors, using herbs from the garden, farmer’s market veggies and grilling. I enjoy entertaining during the summer. Everything is simple but fresh and very relaxed. We had friends over for dinner last weekend and I was able to spend the evening chatting rather than rushing around in the kitchen. The appetizer and side dish were made a head of time and the main and vegetable were done on the grill. It doesn’t get better than that!

While looking for side dishes that could be prepared ahead of time, I came across this Mediterranean Lentil and Couscous Salad. First, I have a serious fondness for anything that involves Mediterranean flavors and liked that that base of the salad was lentils and couscous. The inclusion of tomatoes, feta, arugula and fresh herbs really made this stand out. Second, I have an appreciation for recipes from Gourmet and usually find them to be winners.

I let the salad sit overnight to really let the flavors develop. It was a hit with our guests and the perfect side for a summer cookout. I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next few days!

Mediterranean Lentil and Couscous Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet magazine)

Ingredients:

1 cup French green or brown lentils
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 bunch arugula, stems discarded and leaves washed well, spun dry and chopped
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned

Directions:

Place lentils in a small saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender but not falling apart. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Stir in one tablespoon vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cool lentils completely.

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil and add couscous and salt. Remove from heat and let couscous stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lentils and dressing into couscous. Chill salad, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 24.

Just before serving, stir in remaining ingredients, top with basil and season with salt and pepper. At this time I also added another drizzle of olive oil and a splash of vinegar but that’s totally optional.

Yield: 8 servings

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I recently received the Canyon Ranch: Nourish cookbook from one of the readers of my healthy living blog. It is a beautiful cookbook full of delicious and healthy recipes. Brandon and I have both skimmed through the book and I’m pretty sure that we want to make every single thing in it!

I was feeling a chicken dish for dinner tonight and this recipe for Rustic Chicken sounded perfect given the blast of winter weather that we’re experiencing. Last week it was 80 degrees, this weekend it is 40 and raining…go figure. I am ready for spring to be here to stay!

This Rustic Chicken is simple and comforting but still elegant and flavorful with the addition of fresh herbs and a nice mixture of vegetables. I made a some changes to the original recipe, including adding carrots and parsley and subbing oregano for the sage. Next time I will use chicken cutlets rather than full breasts because I think they will absorb more flavor and we found we didn’t need a whole breast with all the other elements of the dish.

One Year Ago: Baby Greens with Warm Goat Cheese
Two Years Ago: Simple Broiled Mahi

Rustic Chicken
(Recipe adapted from Canyon Ranch: Nourished)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup shallots, sliced thinly
1 cup seasonal wild mushrooms, sliced (I used white and baby portobello)
1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions
1 cup baby carrots
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cooked pasta
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For garnish: grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley

Directions:

Season chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of oil. Sauté chicken breasts for 5-6 minutes per side or until browned and internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Remove from heat and cover loosely to keep warm.

Add remainder of oil to pan and saute shallots, mushrooms, onions and carrots for 8-10 minutes, or until shallots are translucent and mushrooms are soft. Add chicken stock, deglaze pan and reduce liquid by half.  Add rosemary and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Add pasta and toss together until well combined.

Evenly divide the pasta mixture into 4 bowls.  Top each serving with a chicken breast and sprinkle with grated cheese and parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

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We really enjoy noodle bowl creations but usually lean towards broth-based, curry flavored noodle bowls. This recipe caught my attention because I have never cooked with soba at home and it seemed healthy and satisfying. I’m in the midst of a 10 day break from meat so I added this vegetarian dish to this week’s menu.

Soba noodles are Japanese thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are high in fiber contain all eight amino acids, making them a great source of vegetarian protein. I experienced some difficulty finding them in my normal store – they carried them but they were out of stock at two different stores. Brandon stopped by Earth Fare and discovered they had several different brands. If your local grocery doesn’t carry them check an Asian market or a health foods store or substitute whole wheat spaghetti.

I was drawn to two different recipes – I liked the dressing from Annie’s Eats and the vegetable mixture for the noodles from a Gourmet recipe. I decided to combine the recipes and was pleased with the results. I also think this would be delicious with tofu or chicken added to the mix.

Add this to your weekly menu plan as a meatless main! It’s easy, healthy and flavorful!

One Year Ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kabobs
Two Years Ago: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

Spicy Soba Noodles with Edamame, Mushrooms and Cabbage
(Inspired by Annie’s Eats and Gourmet)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DRESSING
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2-3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

FOR THE NOODLES
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (shiitake or button)
1 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (5-6 cups)
2 green onions, sliced
8 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Directions:

FOR THE DRESSING
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

FOR THE NOODLES
Toast sesame seeds in a large, heavy skillet (not nonstick and with no oil) over medium heat. Stir often and cook until pale golden. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add cabbage and scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp but tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until noodles are just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

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Meal planning can sometimes be tricky in our house due to my desire to reduce the amount of meat (including seafood) that I eat and my husband’s wish to have meat with most of our meals. Luckily, we’ve come to a compromise where I tend to avoid meat at breakfast and lunch and only have it with dinner two to three times per week. While Brandon still loves bacon breakfasts, turkey sandwiches at lunch and a steak for dinner, he is very willing to also have a couple of meatless dinners every week.

I find that it’s fun to experiment with ethnic dishes for our meatless mains. It seems like there are endless options ranging from curries to stir fries to pastas and much, much more. I recently got the idea in my head to make sesame ginger maple tofu and was pleased to discover a similar recipe on Eating Well. I loved that the sauce also included tahini.

This dish was so easy! Everything is roasted together in the oven with the sauce being drizzled over the tofu and vegetables towards the end of cooking. I served it over soba noodles.

I made a few alterations to the recipe by adding fresh ginger, doubling the sauce and including carrots and green pepper with the veggies. The sauce was so flavorful and really soaked into the tofu and veggie mixture. I think that you could substitute a variety of vegetables in this depending on your preferences and what you have on hand. Also, I think that this sauce would be great with shrimp.

The leftovers were just as good the next day. I served them over a bed of spinach with brown rice and a generous squirt of Siracha.

This is a healthy and delicious vegetarian dish that should be added to your meatless main rotation!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Cream Pie
Two Years Ago: Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sesame Ginger Maple Tofu
(Recipe adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients:

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, sliced
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
2-3 carrots, cut into one inch slices
1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tofu and veggies on a baking sheet and toss with oils, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Drizzle all over with the sesame ginger maple sauce and continue roasting for another five minutes. Serve over soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

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Winter has arrived in the Carolinas in full force. It is freezing but I won’t complain about the temperatures because I know I have many readers who live in cold, snowy climates…I don’t know how you do it! One thing I will say is that cold days and even colder nights make me crave warm, hearty dishes like soup. I’ve had this Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas bookmarked for months and the perfect opportunity finally arose to make it on a chilly night when Brandon was out to dinner with friends.

I didn’t know how receptive Brandon would be to the soup. While he loves curry dishes, I didn’t know if he’d go for a vegan soup for dinner so I made it on a night he wasn’t home. I loved cooking this dish. It was so fragrant and very easy. I was extremely pleased with the results – the soup was flavorful and filling. I am happy to report that Brandon loved the leftovers for lunch the next day. I will definitely be adding this soup to the “winter warmers” recipe collection.

A few notes about the recipe…I almost doubled the curry powder and could have gone for a bit more. If you are a curry lover don’t be afraid to be a bit heavy handed. Next time I make this I am going to experiment with adding other spices like cayenne pepper to up the spice factor and cumin or coriander. This recipe was great as written but I would love to play with developing the flavors a bit more.

One Year Ago: Pork Chops with Cider Cream Sauce and Sauteed Apples
Two Years Ago: Greek Pasta

Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
(Recipe source Epicurious, March 2009)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1-2 teaspoons mild curry powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat. in a medium stockpot. Add onion, bell pepper and chili and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir until onion mixture is coated. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings

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