Berry chia seed pudding

Ch-Ch-Ch-CHIA!! Want a simple delicious breakfast, that will keep you full all morning long with a ton of health benefits? Try incorporating chia seeds into your first meal of the day.  All of the benefits of these tiny superfoods can be found on my ‘chia seed’ page, or by clicking HERE.  This recipe is for my berry chia pudding.   You can mix up the fruit according to what’s in season or whatever you have on hand!

berry chia pudding

For this particular mix I used 2 large organic strawberries, chopped up small, and about 1/2 cup of organic blueberries.  I muddled the fruit to get some of the juices out while still leaving big enough chunks to give the dish more texture.  (I actually just used my potato masher since I don’t own a muddle! Improvise!!) To the fruit, add 3 TBS of chia seeds and 1/2 cup of almond milk and stir, stir, stir.  Keep stirring until it starts to come together and then refrigerate it for at least 10 minutes to let the chia seeds do their thing!! They will absorb the liquid and start to form a pudding like consistency.  I topped mine with a few blackberries and some unsweetend organic coconut flakes and dug in!! YUM!

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Mustard crusted salmon with grapefruit and avocado salad and sauteed bok choy

This happens to me all the time.  I look in the fridge and think to myself, ‘Oh man, I REALLY need to go grocery shopping, but I don’t have time to tonight, and I’m too HUNGRY!”  The produce is starting to run out, and it seems like  there’s nothing in the fridge…how on earth do I make myself a dinner?? But instead of resorting to eating out or making a frozen meal, I get creative.

mustard crusted salmon with grapefruit and avocado salad and sauteed bok choy

 

This dinner was 100% made up of “fridge stragglers”.  The piece of salmon was literally all I had left for protein.  The bok choy was leftover from the Thai peanut dish the other night, and the half of an avocado was in my fridge from the other day.  I saw the other half of my breakfast grapefruit in there too and thought, citrus goes well with salmon, and decided to give it a try!

I wanted to stray from anything too similar to the earlier night’s Thai-style dish so I went with bold, zippy flavors instead. Everything was simple, quick and tasted great together.

For the salmon, I smeared about a tablespoon of whole grain mustard on it and then baked for 15 minutes at 350F, broiling for the last minute or so to get a nice crust to form.  The bok choy I kept easy by sauteing it in EVOO with garlic, and the star of the dish was 1/2 an avocado and the segments from 1/4 of a grapefruit.  That’s it!  Separate, these items don’t look like much, but together it made for a delicious meal.  The slightly sweet tang of the grapefruit worked well with the creamy avocado and together it balanced out the punch of the mustard.  With the earthy crunch of the bok choy on the side, the dish was complete.

Of course there’s a “don’t forget” in here somewhere, and it’s not that you have to learn to think outside of the box (though, that is a good tip).  My don’t forget for tonight is, if you buy healthy food, you’ll eat healthy food! Keep yourself stocked with fruits and vegetables and healthy fats and proteins and you’ll use it! Re-think what you’re putting into your shopping cart each week and be more mindful of your choices and you will be less likely to go for the preservative and sodium packed frozen box, because you won’t have it in your freezer in the first place!

Frozen berry cereal

I recently discovered that I have a dairy intolerance, which is probably the worst food issue that could have happened to me. I desperately miss yogurt as a snack, so I’m trying out alternatives in hopes that I will find something worthwhile.
I cant say this comes even close but it was super delicious anyways! Grabbed a handful of different fruits I had on hand (green grapes, strawberries and blueberries, all organic) and threw in some ‘fresh ginger chia clusters’ from Whole Foods, topped it with almond milk and froze it. Not quite froyo but frozen berries are delicious anyways and I’ll definitely make this again for a colorful healthy snack.

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Don’t forget about winter…Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash with a Walnut Raisin Quinoa

While the calendar says that it’s Spring, it certainly doesn’t feel like it yet in Connecticut.  Everyone seems to be upset about the cold weather lingering, but I know that when it’s gone, I’ll start to miss the little things about winter that make it so special… like warm cable knit sweaters and soft cozy scarves 😉 .  I find myself going full-on winter right before it starts to get warm again because I know I won’t be seeing some of these things for quite a while.  This is especially true for the food.  Winter a time for hearty soups, roasted vegetables, warm spices, and so much more.  I find myself wanting that “warm you from the inside out” style of cuisine to stay in season just a little bit longer.  So, tonight I wanted to make somewhat of a last goodbye to everything winter; a meal that would make you want to curl up by the fireplace with a blanket and a good book before its too late and Spring arrives.

Balsamic roasted acorn squash with walnut raisin quinoa

balsamic roasted acorn squash with walnut raisin quinoa

Acorn squash is one of those perfect vegetables that you can just throw in the oven, forget about for a while, and it gets delicious on its own!  Paired with the slightly sweet, nutty quinoa, and the tangy bold balsamic drizzle, this dish absolutely represents the warmth of winter comfort foods while still being healthy and nutritious!

To make the squash: I used one small acorn squash for this recipe, which was enough for me to have as dinner with leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • Cut off and discard the ends of the squash, and then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Slice the squash into about 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Toss the squash with a drizzle of EVOO , a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, thyme, and rosemary, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast for about 20-25 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and tender.

To make the quinoa:

  • Wash and add 1/2 cup quinoa to 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
  • Mix in 1/3 cup of raisins, 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts, and a good sprinkle of cinnamon to the hot quinoa.

To make a balsamic reduction: Simmer balsamic vinegar in a saucepan until it cooks down to your desired thickness (for this recipe I was impatient, so its not that thick 🙂 )

Arrange slices of roasted squash on the plate and top with a healthy scoop of the quinoa mix.  Dust the top with more cinnamon and drizzle the whole dish with your balsamic reduction. And there you have it! My don’t forget about winter, ode to the cozy season meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

Thai peanut sauce stir fry with soba noodles and salmon. Dinner guest success!

Food is something that I thoroughly enjoy everything about.  Going to the grocery store or farmers market and picking out fresh, organic produce is a fun afternoon for me.  Then getting the food home and thinking of how I can use it in recipes and trying out new foods makes me excited to cook just thinking about it.  While cooking for one means I don’t ever have to consider anyone else’s likes and dislikes when deciding what to make for dinner, it can also sometimes feel like I’m missing an important part of the food-love puzzle; getting to feed others.  I know I love my cooking, but to be able to give others something delicious to eat and have them love the food you make too is a feeling of achievement you can’t find elsewhere.  And because I know what I’m serving them is a healthy and nutritious meal, I always feel great about getting to cook for other people, especially family!

Tonight I had the pleasure of having my sister and future brother in law over for dinner.  It was a last minute decision to get together and she had already planned on cooking some salmon that night for their own dinner, so I told her to bring it over and I’d cook and incorporate their filet’s into my dish.  I had gone to whole foods this past weekend and picked up a ton of amazing veggies…but most importantly, a BIG tub of their freshly ground peanut butter.  Seriously, this stuff is uh-may-zing (and a special thanks to my cousin Jessica who introduced me to it!).  While I can, and have, literally eaten this stuff by the spoonful, I wanted to use it in another way. I thought, why not make my own Thai peanut sauce? This is certainly nothing I have ever made before, but trying new things is what I’m all about! How hard can it be?

In the spirit of full disclosure, my first attempt came out AWFUL! People say to me all the time, your food always looks so delicious, and well, that’s because you only see the delicious foods! Haha.  But my never give up attitude made me start all over and the second product came out simply spectacular.  Lucky for all of you, I even remembered to measure this time 😉

sf with salmon

While the sauce is what made the meal for me, the veggies and soba noodles played a winning supporting role.  I used bok choy, mushrooms, and yellow and orange bell peppers for the veggies, cooked with garlic and fresh grated ginger in virgin organic coconut oil.  The coconut oil really gave this dish another nice level of flavor.  The noodles tossed in there are soba, or buckwheat noodles, which are a favorite of mine and go great in Asian style cooking.  The creamy peanut sauce mixed in there, and topped with baked salmon, made this dinner so good that we just kept talking about how good it was while we were eating it!

stirfry

 

 

This sauce is something I will continue to experiment with and change up, just because that’s how I am, 😉 but trust me, it’s amazing and incredibly simple to make as is:

Thai peanut sauce:

  • 2 TBS (whole foods freshly ground) peanut butter – (the grainy texture really added that extra oomf to the sauce)
  • 1 TBS rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp organic honey
  • 2 splashes Silk almond milk (I wished I had coconut milk but this actually tasted great with the peanut butter, and I got the coconut flavor from cooking the veggies with coconut oil instead)

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl then add to the cooked veggies and noodles and there you have it! YUM!!

Tonight’s dinner really made me think about a couple of different “don’t forget’s”.  Most importantly, don’t forget the importance of eating together.  Not only does cooking for others feel great when they like your food, but eating with family and friends is really good for keeping your mind healthy as well as eating a healthy meal does for your body.  And two, don’t forget that it’s not going to come out delicious or perfect every time, but that doesn’t mean its a failure or to give up.  Sometimes the best things come from the knowledge you gain by making mistakes…like don’t forget to be delicate with the soy sauce when getting creative 😉 lol

 

Sweet Potato Hash

hash

Breakfast is a great time to get creative with your food.  Making the same old bowl of cereal or oatmeal can get boring after a while, and even the staples like eggs and potatoes, can use a little twist to keep things interesting.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent healthy alternative to regular potatoes.  Not only are they high in nutrients like B6 and potassium, they also have twice the fiber that regular potatoes have.  And even better still, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that prevents certain types of cancer, and Vitamins C and E which combined are great for your hair and skin.    Sweet potatoes also  have a low glycemic index, meaning that they won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike like regular potatoes do.   Plus they’re delicious!  

This is my “recipe” for the hash.  I don’t have measurements since this was pre-blog days, but the proportions are pretty easy to just estimate visually based on your preferences and how much you want to make.

The potatoes: Start by washing off and dicing up a sweet potato into small, equal-sized cubes.  Leave the skin on, as that’s where a lot of the nutrients come from and it crisps up nicely when sauteing.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 3-5 minutes (depending on how big your cubes are) until they are cooked through and can be pierced easily with a fork.  Drain and gently pat them dry.  Season the potatoes with cinnamon and crushed red cayanne pepper.  Sweet and spicy always goes well together!  In a large skillet heat your oil over medium (I use virgin organic coconut oil) and add the potatoes letting them brown up nicely on all sides.  To get a good color on the potatoes, try not to move them around too much as you might end up steaming them instead of letting them brown.  Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

The veggies: Using the same skillet, add a little bit more oil if necessary and throw in a  diced mixture of onion and red, green and yellow bell pepper.  I season this with some salt and pepper, and saute until the mixture is almost cooked, where the onions would be translucent and the peppers soft.

The hash: When the veggies are about done I add the potatoes back to the pan and toss it all together.  Having the cooking finish as a whole allows the flavors to blend and make every bite delicious.  Also, this lets the potatoes crisp up some more and get extra browned, since that’s how I enjoy my hash 🙂

And there you have it!  I served mine along size a green bean and spinach, egg white omelette with grapefruit and blueberries on the side.  With of course a nice big cup of organic fair trade coffee with almond milk.  Yumm! 

Don’t Forget…The Oven!

For a lot of people, the oven can evoke thoughts of baked goods like warm chocolate chip cookies and mom’s flaky pie crust, or bubbling cheeses and creamy casseroles.  Not exactly daily healthy foods. But the oven is one of my favorite modes of cooking.  Roasting, baking, broiling, braising…all amazingly simple ways to cook healthy foods.  The flavors become more concentrated and something like a sweet potato, that someone might normally throw a ton of butter or brown sugar on, if you roast them in the oven long enough, their own natural sugars start to caramelize and you don’t need all that extra stuff on top.  I usually just dash mine with some cinnamon and they’re good to go!

While it may seem like using the oven can take much longer than other ways to make food, that extra time is actually the best part about it!  You can essentially throw the food in the oven and continue to be productive around the house.  There’s no standing over the stove tossing or stirring.  Just be smart about planning your oven time and you’ll find that it can truly work in your favor.

A perfect example of this was my breakfast this morning.  I know, cooking breakfast? On a weekday? In the OVEN? Sounds crazy but its really not.  I was up at 6am to get to the gym and on my way home I was thinking about what to eat for breakfast.  I always have a smorgasbord or veggies in my fridge, always have eggs handy, so I decided to make some egg white muffins!  I’ll put the recipe in a separate post, but let me walk you through how easy this was.  I get home and turn the oven on.  While that’s preheating I grab a few veggies, chop them up; separate out my egg whites, and start assembling.  By that time the oven is pre-heated and I can just throw them in, set the timer and walk away! I was able to take a shower, and get completely ready for work while they were cooking.  The little delights ended up being ready about 10 minutes before I was going to leave so I took them out to cool off for a bit.  I tossed two of the muffins in a ziplock baggie on my way out the door, and breakfast is served! Plus I have 2 leftover for tomorrows breakfast too!

So don’t forget… the oven doesn’t have to just mean desserts, or savory dinners.  The oven is a lot more versatile and hectic life friendly than you’d think, you just have to know the right ways to utilize it!