Mexican Medley

Mexican Medley

This is one of my favorite meals for breakfast.  It requires a limited amount of time to make, can be doubled to have again another day, and keeps me going on those days that require a lot of energy.

Ingredients:

Olive Oil 1 T
Carrot, sliced thin 1
Onion, chopped 1/2 med
Zucchini, quartered lenghtwise then sliced 1/2 reg
Crookneck Squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced 1/2 reg
Reb Bell Pepper, sliced into 1″ pieces 1/2 reg
Cumin 1/2-1 tsp
Aleppo Pepper 1/2-1 tsp
Salsa 3.5 oz
Refried Beans, natural  1/2 of 16 oz can
Spinach, chiffonade 1-2 C
Egg, poached or Fresh Guacamole 1 or 2 eggs or 1 T Guacamole

Preparation:

In a med/lg saucepan add olive oil and sauté carrot, onion, zuccini, crookneck squash, bell pepper over medium heat for a few minutes. Add cumin, pepper and salsa. Cover and cook until vegetables soften; about 8 minutes on med/low. Add beans and cook an additional 5-8 minutes until heated through. Place spinach in bottom of bowl. Top with bean mixture. Place poached egg or guacamole on top. S&P to taste.  Garnish with cilantro if you like.

Serves 1-2 depending on how hungry you are!

Miraculous Magnesium

swiss chard 1.11.16

As I was harvesting some Swiss chard from my winter garden this morning, it reminded me of how often overlooked and yet valuable the mineral magnesium is.  I realize this isn’t something we think about on a regular basis yet it is not only an essential mineral in our diet but we often tend to be deficient in it.

Magnesium is such a major player in our health.  It is the single most important mineral for maintaining proper electrical balance and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

It is estimated that 60%-80% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet due to lack of vegetables, poor food choices and farming practices.  Supplementation is definitely something to consider and yet the first step really should come from our diet.  Amongst the best sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes.  Here are some of the top foods:

  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cashews
  • Summer squash like zucchini or crookneck
  • Avocados
  • Black beans

As for the benefits of magnesium, there are plenty:

  • Creates and maintains bone health
    • 50%-60% of magnesium is stored in the bone and consequently plays a significant role in bone metabolism
    • Adequate magnesium in your diet improves bone mineral density
  • Enables energy production as it is a vital component in the production of ATP, a high energy molecule found in every cell
    • Low levels of magnesium can be one of the factors in low energy or fatigue
  • Maintains a healthy nervous system by working with calcium in forming an electrical current
    • Low levels can result in anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia and confusion
  • It is a vital nutrient in the prevention of chronic inflammation as it modulates cellular events involved in inflammation
    • Studies indicate that low levels of chronic inflammation are the cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and more
  • Enhances control of blood sugars
    • Magnesium is a co-factor in over 100 enzymes involved in controlling blood sugar and glucose metabolism

Magnesium is becoming more and more recognized as a vital macro nutrient that we just don’t get enough of.  Even medical researchers are recommending increasing the RDA to almost double current amounts.

To start you in the direction of adding magnesium to your diet, here is an easy and delicious salad that will give you lots of magnesium.  Quantities are not listed as they will vary based on the number of people enjoying this delicious salad.

Dressing:

  • 3 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 part Champagne Vinegar or high quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp or more Fish Sauce*
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Place above ingredients in a jar with fitted lid.  Shake thoroughly.

Salad:

  • Swiss chard, ribs removed
  • Kale, ribs removed
  • Parsley leaves
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Red bell pepper, cut to desired shape
  • Zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Dried apricots cut into long strips

Clean and tear into bite size pieces the first 4 greens and place in salad bowl.  Drizzle salad dressing on, mix and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  Note:  Since these leafy greens are a bit tougher than regular lettuce, this will allow them time to soften and get sweeter.

After 30 minutes add the balance of the ingredients and toss salad.  Serve and enjoy!

*Fish sauce is found in most markets in the Asian section and provides the dressing with umami, a savory taste.  You don’t need to use a lot.  It will have no ‘fish’ taste and yet will give the dressing a more rounded, pleasant taste.  Try it, you‘ll love it!

This is just one way to add some wonderful healthy food sources of magnesium into your daily routine.  Be creative and see how you can start adding more to make 2016 be even a healthier year!

In health,

Julie

 

 

 

Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).

Ingredients:

1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Couscous Salad with Orange-Infused Chicken

My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook.  Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s.  Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious.  This dish is no exception.  I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!

In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts.  He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel.  You might want to check out his store here!

Great for a picnic!

Ingredients

2 ½ C              Fresh Orange Juice[1], divided

2-4                  Garlic Cloves, crushed

1                      Shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp              Dried thyme[2]

1-1 ½ #          Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole

½ C                 Chicken Broth

1 ½ C              Couscous

2                      Green Onions, finely chopped

¼ – ½ C          Dried Cranberries

1                      Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 TBSP           Rice Wine Vinegar

3 TBSP           Olive Oil, good quality

S & P              To taste

Preparation

In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken breasts.  Reserve the liquid.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil.  Remove from heat and add couscous.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper.  Mix well. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil.  Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Note:  The couscous portion can be made a day ahead.  The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.


[1] Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized.  If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost.  You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.

[2] I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden.  I used about 1+ TBSP.

April Recipe – Swiss Chard Sauté with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

I made this recipe as a one dish vegetarian meal.  It could also be great as 4 side dishes without the tofu.

Serves 2 Main Course, 4 Side Dish

Ingredients:

2+       TBSP Butter or Olive Oil or a combination, divided

4          Garlic Cloves, minced

1          Small Red Onion, chopped

1          Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 tsp  Celtic Salt

25+     Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on their size

1/3 C   White Wine

½ C     Currants

½ + C Walnuts, chopped and toasted

2          Swiss Chard batches, ribs removed and cut into 2” pieces

This is my favorite!

3 oz    Feta or Goat Cheese

1 pgk Firm Tofu, chopped into 1” squares

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil).  Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and salt.  Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes adding white wine as liquid starts to evaporate.  Add in cherry tomatoes and currants cover and continue to cook over medium/low heat for an additional 5-8 minutes.  Add chard and cover until chard is wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile in separate sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil) over medium/high heat and sear tofu. 

Combine chard mixture and tofu together.  Place on plates and top with cheese and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

March Recipe – Spicy Chicken with Fennel

I was at Whole Foods yesterday trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  They had a big batch of fennel that looked delicious.  I decided to buy a bulb and come up with a dish that included it along with chicken.  I ended up going to Epicurious to get inspired and found an entrée that I’ve modified some.  It came out delicious so I thought I’d share it!

Ingredients:

1 tsp      Ground Cumin

½ tsp     Paprika

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

¼ tsp     Cayenne

½ tsp     Aleppo Chili Powder

2 lg        Chicken Breast halves, skinned, boned, and sliced in 1-2” strips lengthwise

4 TBSP   Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

3TBSP    Lemon juice, approximately ½ one large lemon

1 lg         Fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, ends removes and cut in ¾” slices crosswise

3 C          Chicken Broth

¾ C         Green olives with Pimentos sliced in quarters lengthwise

Preparation:

Mix all spices in a large bowl.  Add chicken, making sure to coat thoroughly, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. 

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat.  Add fennel and sauté until fennel starts to brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours covered.  At end of time, in a separate sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add chicken and lightly brown on both sides; approximately 1 minute per side.  Add chicken to fennel pan, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add olives to pan and continue simmering for additional 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 Serves 2-3 people

I served this with fresh steamed green beans and a simple mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

February Recipe – Julies’ Easy Chicken Soup

When having dinner with a friend last night, I was inspired to pull out the old Crockpot and make something healthy and easy.  I decided that a dish somewhere between a one-course meal and a soup would be the answer.   Of course, you might want to add a salad to get some greens in.

The great thing about this dish is that it also works fantastically for breakfast.  Now I realize most people don’t even think of soup for breakfast but, as I have found out in my Asian travels, soup is often not only a daily breakfast but an incredibly satisfying one.  So double the recipe or save some for a cold morning!

The other fun thing about this recipe is it uses a chili that can be found in most grocery stores.  It is little but packs a great punch!  It is called chile de arbol or also known as a Thai chile.  Here is a picture:

Ingredients:

2         Chicken thighs, bone in with skin

1          Chicken split breast, bone in with skin

1 T      Olive Oil

Pinch Celtic Salt & Pepper

1          Onion, chopped

3          Garlic Cloves, minced

½         Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1          Orange Bell Pepper, chopped

2-3      Chile de Arbol

2          Carrots, cut into ½” pieces

1          28 oz Can Diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes[1]

12       Medium to Large Shiitake Mushrooms, stems cut, quartered ( more if desired)

1 T      Fresh Ginger, finely grated

1 C      Vegetable or Chicken Broth

1 T      Celtic Salt

            Pepper to taste

1 C      Dry White Wine, optional

Preparation:

Place olive oil in medium size sauté pan over medium/high heat.  Sprinkle all chicken with salt and pepper.  Place in pan, skin side down.  Cook until chicken is slightly browned.  Turn and do the same.  Remove.  Take out all but 1 ½ T oil from pan.  Add onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chili’s.  Sauté until onion starts to become translucent, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile place carrots, tomatoes with juice, mushrooms, ginger, broth, salt and pepper in Crockpot.  Place chicken on top followed by sautéed vegetables.  Cook for 7 hours.  About hour 6 or just before serving, remove the skin and bones from the chicken.  Shred the chicken and return to the pot.  Adjust seasonings and add wine around hour 6.

Serves 4-6


[1] I prefer Muir Glen brand.