Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Turkey Chili

I can't believe it, but it snowed today.  It's beautiful and sunny one minute (see picture) and then the next minute, it's snowing!! This is my first year living in a snowy state in 10 years, so I am still in a little shock.  I hate to look at the down side of things though, so I choose to celebrate the snow by cooking something warm and delicious!!  For my California friends who are enjoying the 70-80 degree weather right now, you might not be in the mood for this, but for those of us having to endure the snow still, let's celebrate with some healthy chili and enjoy the beautiful snowy mountain views! :) 

Turkey Chili

1-2  lb. ground turkey (7% low fat) 
1 onion, chopped
2 TBS. olive oil
1 TBS. chicken base
8 oz. pureed green chili's
2 lg. cans whole tomatoes, pureed (or petite diced if you like it chunkier)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 TBS. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 can  black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 lime, squeezed
12 shots Frank's Red Hot sauce, to taste

Chop onion & sauté with olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey and continue to cook until no longer pink.  In food processor, puree tomatoes, chicken base & green chili's.  Add to onion mixture.   In large stock pot mix all the ingredients together & let simmer on med-low for about 30 minutes to one hour.  Serves 10-12.  I also like to chop jalapenos for an extra kick to add on top if you enjoy the heat.  You can also serve with sour cream & cheese on top if you prefer. 
Bon Appetit 
P.S. The leftovers freeze well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grain & Veggie Pasta Salad

This is the perfect well balanced lunch or a great side dish for a summer BBQ.  The picture on this post doesn't look too appetizing because I used a balsamic dressing instead of a lemon vinaigrette.  You can dress it with whatever flavor you choose, but it does look more appetizing with a lighter color because the grains don't look so dark!

Grain & Veggie Pasta Salad
 2 1/2 c. dry mixed grains (orzo, cous cous, quinoa, wild rice, etc..)
4 green onions or ½ red onion
2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, diced (I like some of each)
1-2 c. tomatoes, diced
1 c. carrots, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 c. sugar snap peas, cut into small pieces
2 avocado’s, cubed

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:

½ c. white wine vinegar
2 Tbls. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic
2 Tbls. lemon juice
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. flax oil
Process all ingredients in a blender while slowly drizzling in the oils.

I like to cook my mixed grains in chicken stock usually, but for this recipe, the dressing will add a lot of flavor, so don't worry about doing that this time.  If you have access to a Trader Joe's, you will love their mixed grain bags.  I love the Harvest Grains blend.  It is also now available at Costco under a different name brand.  

If you don't go to TJ's, then you can always use straight quinoa (keen-wah), just make sure to rinse it first so you won't have the bitter taste.  I do cook quinoa in chicken broth because I think it helps takes the bitter taste away as well.  It is an amazing ancient super grain that is wonderful for you.  It provides a complete protein (meaning it contains all of the nine amino acids required for that) so if you are a vegetarian or want to get more plant protein in your diet, start using it more often. 

After you've cooked your grains, let them cool.  I put them in a bowl and chill them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  After the grains are cold, dice all your vegetables and mix them in with the grains.  Toss with any dressing of your choice, and top with the avocados.  I like this recipe for the dressing, but you can always use any vinaigrette you like.  Apply dressing until coated but not soaking in the dressing.  It's easy to overdo it.
You will not use all of the dressing, but it stays good for a week or so in the refrigerator.
Put avocado’s on the salad right before serving to prevent them from going brown.
It is a great healthy lunch wrapped in a tortilla or a fun side salad to serve on a hot summer day J

Bon Appetit

Brownies (with Coconut oil)

One of my favorite special treats since my college days has been brownies and ice cream.  I am not sure if there are many people out there who don't enjoy a hot brownie with a scoop of ice cream, but I'm not one of them!  So, I decided to just make our brownies a little healthier.  I don't think anyone can justify that brownies are healthy, but if you're going to have them, just use a better oil than vegetable oil!  I hope you don't have any in your cupboard because it is basically toxic.  Please replace your vegetable oil with Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil.  Your heart will thank me later :)

Anyways, here is the scoop:
Just get your favorite box of brownies, follow the directions, and just use coconut oil instead of vegetable.  It's that easy!
This is my favorite box of brownies.  It's the Costco or Sam's size :)

Bake according to directions, cut & serve with a delicious scoop of ice cream!  You will be surprised that there is just a hint of coconut flavor that gives a great dimension to the dish.  You have to try it!
Bon Appetit

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Black Bean Mango Salsa

This is one of my absolute favorite snacks!  The best part about this one is that it is totally healthy and full of flavor!  This will definitely be the first appetizer at a party that will be gone!!  You can use it as an appetizer, afternoon snack, topping for fish or chicken dishes, etc... 

Black Bean Mango Salsa
2 tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, diced
2 mangos, diced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. onion (red, green, white- whatever you like.  I prefer red onion)
1 can black beans, rinsed
Salt & pepper, to taste

Gently stir all ingredients together and season with salt & pepper.  Depending on your taste buds, you can add a tsp. of sugar or even some red wine vinegar if you would like.  I like it naked like the recipe, but it's up to you!  You are the chef :)
Bon Appetit

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hot Pink Smoothie

This is my new favorite breakfast!!  I found it from the Green Smoothie Girl. It really satisfies me and gives me great energy for the day.  The best part about it is that you can make it and store it in jars for up to four days in your refrigerator.  I know as a busy mom, I can really appreciate a healthy breakfast that is ready to go for me in the refrigerator :)  It makes me so happy!  The reason it makes me so happy is because it tates good, it's easy to make, it's fast, and it is the perfect blend of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  I don't have any girls, but if I did, I am sure they would love the color of this smoothie!  I love that my little boys like it though because it's so nutritious!

Hot Pink Smoothie 
(This recipe is for a large Vita-Mix or Blend Tec container)

3 c. coconut water or water (coconut water is very hydrating and full of minerals)
7 prunes (dried plums) or dried dates
3/4 c. raw cashew pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled (cut up if using a smaller blender)
1/8-1/4 fresh peeled beet (peel and cut your beet up into eighths if it's a large beet about the size of your fist, or fourths if it’s a small beet and freeze in a Ziploc bag)
2 T. vanilla extract (only 1 T. if using extra strong pure vanilla)
2 T. protein powder (I like vanilla flavored hemp or rice protein)
15-20 or more strawberries, frozen (or 16 oz. bag)
Agave (to taste, I usually use about 2-4 T.)

Put the first 6 ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.  Once the nuts are smooth and there are no more chunks, you can add the rest of the ingredients.  Add strawberries & water until the blender reaches the 8 c. mark.  It should make a full 8 cups.  Blend until smooth and add a little agave if needed.  Make sure to peel your carrots and beets so you don't have an odd taste from the skin.  If you need to add more water if it's too thick, just add until everything blends well.

I like to buy a couple of bunches of beets and peel, cut into quarters, and freeze them.  If your beets come with stems and leaves on them, you can use them in your green smoothies. 

These are two types of coconut liquid you can use.  The health food stores should have the coconut liquid.  If you want to use the coconut milk, you could always use the lite version for less fat.

 Make sure your nuts are RAW.  You don't want them roasted or salted.  You can find them at the health food store in bulk, or in bags like this one.  If you buy them as pieces and not whole, then they are cheaper.  Just make sure they are RAW.

After I am done, I pour them into my four jars and I'm ready for breakfast for the week!  The GSG reccommends drinking 4 c. of smoothie a day for breakfast but I only drink 2 c. (1 jar).  You can do what is best for you.  Bon Appetit!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you still might be in the mood for soup.  I am still in the mood for a warm bowl of soup because it snowed at my house yesterday.  Ahhh, and it's April 4th.  It's beautiful, so I try not to complain, but it's April now, so I am in the mood for some warmer weather, if you know what I mean :)  So, to try and embrace the snowy weather, I made some delicious homemade chicken noodle soup that I know you will love.  It makes your house smell so wonderful and the whole family will enjoy it!!

It's hard for me to write a recipe for this one because I usually just eyeball and taste everything, so here is my best attempt to make it into a recipe:

Chicken Noodle Soup
1 Chicken, cooked (from Sam's or Costco)
4-6 Carrots, diced  (2 for broth)
4-6 Celery stalks, diced (2 for broth)
2 Onions, diced (1 for broth)
2 T. Olive oil
4 C. Chicken broth (will need more if you don't want to make your own broth as listed below)
Whole wheat extra wide noodles
Poultry Seasoning (any kind you like)
Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

First, get your delicious roasted chicken from your grocery store, then cut all the chicken off of it.  If you can't get the chicken fresh that day, just buy it and keep it in your fridge.  It is good for a couple of days in there.  Do the best job you can to get all the chicken off and dice it up into small bite size pieces. 

Next, fill a pot about half way full of water (8 c. appx.) and put the chicken carcass into the water.  Add a couple of carrots, a couple sticks of celery, a sliced onion, bay leaf, and about 1 TBLS. of poultry seasoning, 1 TBLS. of salt, 1 tsp. of pepper.  Bring the water to boil on high heat and let the chicken (skin, bones, & all) cook for about an hour while you assemble the rest of the soup.  Make sure you have enough water to cover the carcass.  Once it is boiling, turn down the heat until it comes to a slow boil.  You are making your broth that will be full of flavor and will save you on chicken broth costs as well.  If you choose to skip this step, you are more than welcome to, it's just a way to make a savory broth that tastes good and saves you money :)  If you choose not to do this step, just skip this part and start out with 8 c. chicken broth.

Next, cut up your 4 carrots, onion, and celery stalks into smaller bite size peices.  Take another large saucepan, add the olive oil and the carrots, onion, and celery, and let cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat until the vegetables are nice and tender.  Add a little salt and pepper for seasoning.   Remove from heat when done.
Now you are ready to assemble the soup.  Once your broth is looking good with a nice light yellow color and tastes delicious, you are ready to go.  If your broth is too bland, add more salt and pepper, as well as more poultry seasoning if needed.  Once it tastes delicious, you will strain it to remove all the chicken bones, skin, and bay leaf. 

Notice how the broth is a beautiful golden color.  It tastes just as good as it looks :) After you strain it, throw away all the rest of the contents.  If you would like to save the carrots and dice them up for the soup, you can definitely use them.  They taste wonderful.
Put the strained broth back into the pan, bring to a boil, then add your whole grain pasta noodles and cook according to the time on the package.  Usually about 10 minutes. 

Once they feel al dente, add the carrot and celery mixture into the pot along with the cut up chicken.  Let simmer together for another 5 minutes or so and enjoy!!  If you don't have enough broth for all the contents of the soup, add the extra 4 c. of chicken broth I have listed on the ingredient list.  Just add until the ratio of broth to ingredients is right for your liking. 
Bon Appetit