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Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for the past month.  Lately I’m loving the following things: (1) one-pot meals with tons of veggies; (2) frozen fish fillets from Costco; (3) dinners that come together quickly.  This dinner fills all three categories.  It pulls together without a lot of work (just a little chopping, but I like a little chopping at the end of the day – it helps me wind down from work and get into the evening frame of mind), and it’s a great way to use a few fish fillets without roasting or sauteeing them – my go-tos, but it’s good to mix things up.  We’ve been eating a lot of stew lately – lentil-vegetable; chicken and herb; or fish.  It’s nice healthy comfort food that I can whip up quickly so that the adults in the house can all eat a home-cooked meal before we begin the bedtime dance with Peanut.

Ingredients

1 tbsp cocnut oil
1 onion, large dice
1 sweet potato, large dice
kosher salt
1 bunch broccoli, large dice
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
dash crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 tilapia filets, large dice

Method

  • In a Dutch oven or heavy saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high burner until oil has liquified.
  • Add diced onion and sweet potato to oil, season generously with kosher salt and saute until vegetables are beginning to brown, then add coconut milk and diced tomatoes.
  • Add spices and season again with another pinch of kosher salt.  Stir to combine well.  Replace lid and turn heat down to medium.  Allow to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are half cooked.
  • Add corn, broccoli and tilapia, replace lid and simmer for another 10 minutes until fish is cooked through and all vegetables are done.  Serve immediately or turn heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes (not necessary, but will help the flavors to marry).

Yield: Serves 4.

Source: Covered In Flour

(Nota Baker: You don’t have to precisely follow this recipe.  Use the veggies and the protein you happen to have lying around.  If you have chicken instead of tilapia, or zucchini instead of broccoli, that’s totally cool.  This is more of a formula than a recipe that you must follow to the letter.  And if you’re not interested in the coconut-curry flavor, use olive oil and broth, and herbs instead of the curry and spices.  It’s all about what sounds good to you in the moment.  Low-maintenance cooking win!)

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HOLY YUM.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you how this dessert came about.  I had R and her sister S in the house.  R was on her way back overseas for work (but she’s coming home for good soon!) and S stopped by for an overnight in part to see her sister and in part to break up a trip of her own.  Hubby, knowing what levels of silliness were likely to transpire (he’s spent time with me, R and S before) wisely decided to spend the day parked in front of a video game and ignoring us.  Meanwhile, we debated how we should spend the day we had together.  Yoga class?  Farmers market?  Long walk before it got too hot?  Beg hubby to make us lavender foot baths and take over the living room?  (That’s what R and I did on her last visit.  Hubby is a good sport.)

As appealing as that last one sounded, we decided to go to the farmers market and bring back ingredients for a fresh seasonal lunch, then cook it together.  R and S were in charge of lunch – they made a delicious heirloom tomato and purple basil salad with burrata (pasteurized – no worries) and fresh mushroom ravioli (bought at the market) with a sauce made from corn and tomatoes, sauteed and then simmered in a bit of broth and yogurt.  Divine.  And I was in charge of dessert.  While at the market we decided on a fruit parfait.  R wanted peach and blackberry, but the white nectarines at my favorite fruit and veg stand were so fantastic that S and I formed a voting bloc and outvoted her.  For the creamy element to the parfait, I whipped up a simple, sweet Greek yogurt cream and layered it with the diced nectarines and blackberries.  Perfect summer dessert, but not so decadent that it couldn’t double as a light (!) breakfast.  Dessert for breakfast?  That’s my favorite.

Seasonal Fruit Parfait with Honey Vanilla Yogurt

2 white nectarines or peaches
1 pint blackberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
seeds of one vanilla pod

  • Prepare the fruit: wash the berries and wash and chop the nectarines into bite-sized pieces approximately the same size as the berries.
  • Whisk together the yogurt, honey and vanilla bean seeds.
  • Layer parfaits: spoon yogurt on bottom, then add a few berries and nectarine pieces, spoon yogurt on top, and continue with more layers as desired.  Finish with a dollop of yogurt on top.

Nota Baker: You don’t have to use nectarines and blackberries here just because I’ve called for them.  Use whatever fruit is in season in your area.  I recommend a combination of two fruits, but in any event no more than three.

Yield: Serves 4 as a small dessert or 2 as a good-sized breakfast.

Source: Covered In Flour

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I did it!  I cooked!  I cooked like I used to cook – dreamed up a dish and set about throwing it together in the kitchen.  It’s been awhile.  I’ve been relying a lot (too much, maybe) on old staples like pasta with beans and goat cheese, Field Roast sausages, veggie-and-hummus snack plates, or big salads for dinner – all stuff that gets the job done, but dullsville and not really blogable.  It’s just been a challenge to get into the kitchen lately.  I’m completely wiped out when I get home from work, and all I want to do is lay on the couch with a book and shout out a running commentary on baby kicks.

But I was sick of relying on the easy staples and – although he’s far too nice to say so – I suspect hubby was too.  So last night I resolved to get my butt into the kitchen and create something new, something we could really enjoy.  This meal did the trick.  It was easy, packed with protein from the edamame and with nutrients from the carrots and cabbage, and with the wonderful rich flavor of tamari, which I just love.  I felt good eating it, and good after I finished, and I enjoyed every bite.  It turns out this meal isn’t just a flash in the pan (pun intended); I’m already planning out when I can have it again.  It’s going into my regular rotation… and maybe it will even inspire me to get back in the kitchen and whip up some new dishes on a more frequent basis.

Asian Noodles with Cabbage

Handful of udon noodles (or sub soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti)
5 carrots, peeled and grated
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup coleslaw mix (or sub finely shredded cabbage)
1 cup shelled frozen edamame
1 teaspoon Seaweed Gomasio (or sub white sesame seeds)
Salt and pepper
Several dashes tamari (or sub soy sauce)

  • Heat a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Salt generously and add udon noodles.  Cook according to package directions (mine called for 8-10 minutes at a low boil).
  • While udon noodles are cooking, heat a few dashes of olive oil in a separate nonstick pan until shimmering.  Add carrots, coleslaw mix, and edamame.  Season lightly with a sprinkle of salt (go easy on the salt though) and pepper, and saute until wilted down and until the edamame are warmed through.
  • Add Seaweed Gomasio and a few dashes of tamari to taste.  Continue cooking veggies over medium heat until the udon noodles are done.
  • Drain the udon noodles, then add to the pan with the vegetables.  Toss to combine well and taste for seasoning.  Add more tamari if necessary.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a chilled Asian pasta salad.

Source: Covered In Flour

Serves 2 as a main course, 4-6 as a side.

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Ahhhh, spring.  One of my favorite things about you is the new vegetables.  Beans, peas, fennel, new potatoes… this is when I venture back out to the farmers’ market after too many months spent eating kale and winter squash.  Everything is just beginning – the farmers and the customers are all getting warmed up for the bounty that’s coming our way in summer.  But to ignore spring because we’re so excited about tomatoes and stone fruits would be a mistake.  There are so many delicious new veggies making their appearance right now.

So, while at the King Street Farmers’ Market I decided to take advantage of the new season by throwing together a tasty, healthy pasta dish.  I picked up whatever looked good from the market and my grocery store and ended up with fennel and green beans.  I had originally planned to augment the dish with frozen peas, but apparently I ran out.  (How did that happen?)  So I tossed some corn in there instead and put goat cheese on my portion for extra calcium and protein.  This was supposed to be our Easter dinner (in our non-ham-eating household, we go non-traditional and focus on spring flavors instead of the “quintessential” Easter ham feast).  But neither of us was hungry at dinnertime on Easter, so it became a weeknight meal instead – and was plenty easy and quick enough to throw together after work.  I love those multi-tasking meals, the ones that are fancy enough to serve for a special occasion but easy enough to make on a random Wednesday.  Hope you like this one!

Roasted Spring Vegetable Pasta

2 fennel bulbs, cleaned, trimmed and thickly sliced
1 bunch green beans, cleaned and chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and fresh pepper
1 cup frozen peas or corn
handful dried linguini strands
goat cheese (optional)
fresh herbs (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.  Toss fennel, beans, oil, salt and pepper until vegetables are well-seasoned.  Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once midway through.
  • After vegetables have been roasting 20 minutes, add frozen corn or peas and toss to combine.  Roast an additional 10-15 minutes, checking often, until vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt generously.  Add linguini (or other pasta, but I think the long flat strands work best) and cook according to package directions.
  • When linguini isal dente, remove from water and place in bowls.  Remove vegetables from oven and top with generous portion of vegetables.  If desired, garnish with crumbled goat cheese and/or fresh herbs.

Yield: Serves 2-4 as a main course.

Source: Covered In Flour

(Nota Baker: You don’t need to follow this recipe exactly or use the precise vegetables I’m calling for.  These are the vegetables I used – or, in the case of the peas, wanted to use but was cruelly thwarted.  Use what you like, what you have on hand, or what looks good at the market.  Like all of my fridge-clearing recipes, this pasta is versatile and will be great with whatever vegetables you want to use.  Don’t feel wedded to what I did!  I just called for these vegetables in the recipe because that’s what I used, and there’s a picture up there, and I didn’t want anyone to say “Hey, I see beans in there, how come they’re not in the recipe?”  Okay?)

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Hubby has this little habit of making suggestions.  Usually, his suggestions involve things that I should bake.  (This is clearly a strategy on his part – he knows he’ll get the baked goods when I pull them out.)  This past weekend, my mom, aunt and friend were visiting, and hubby suggested me right into baking muffins for them before they woke up on Sunday morning.  (I’m an early riser.)  I thought first of making a batch of banana muffins, but I had a beautiful box of strawberries in my fridge, and the end of a bag of sliced almonds, and strawberry almond muffins were born.  They were the perfect fuel for a day of walking the monuments on my girls’ weekend, but I’m sure they’d be perfect for lazier mornings too.  These muffins are officially in the rotation.

Strawberry Almond Muffins

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups large-diced strawberries*
1/2 cup sliced almonds

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare a muffin tin with 12 wells (line with paper liners or spray with baking spray such as Baker’s Joy or Pam for Baking).
  • In large bowl, whisk together oats, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Add milk, eggs, applesauce and almond extract and stir to combine well, but do not over-stir.
  • Fold in strawberries and almonds, just until combined.
  • Spoon into muffin wells and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve warm.

*I used fresh strawberries.  To substitute frozen, just thaw and drain the strawberries so they are as dry as possible.  They will almost certainly still be wetter than fresh berries, so do use fresh if you can.  This winter, when fresh strawberries aren’t available, I’ll see about trying out the recipe with frozen berries and let you know if I have any tips.

Yield: 12 large muffins.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Cinnamon Applesauce

Put your hand up if you, like me, get absolutely crazed during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I’m currently preparing for houseguests (my lovely mother-in-law and her sister are visiting for Christmas 2.0 this coming weekend), which means I’m cleaning and organizing like a maniac.  Part of my organizing frenzy is the always fun “clean out the fridge and try not to scream” game.  Now, I generally keep a pretty clean fridge and we don’t have things that sit in there for months (except condiments, mmmmm, condiments).  But I find it doesn’t matter how clean you keep the fridge, or how disciplined you are about not buying more food than you can realistically eat… it still gets scary in there.

One element of this round of “clean out the fridge and try not to scream” involved me finding a creative use for a bag of apples that were aging gracelessly in my crisper drawer.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I have this compulsion when it comes to apples.  They’re available year-round and I frequently toss them in my cart without stopping to think about whether I need more or not.  At the moment, though, I’m on a citrus kick (it happens around this time every year) and I’ve been ignoring apples in favor of tangerines, clementines and grapefruits.  So the last batch of apples I had bought were still sitting in my crisper, getting younger by the day (not).  What to do, what to do?  I didn’t really feel like baking with them, and I have an idea percolating for a fun muffin that doesn’t involve apples anyway, so baked goods were out.  But I had another trick up my sleeve – applesauce!  It’s one of my go-to recipes for using extra apples; it’s easy, healthy and delish.  Sweetened with a kiss of maple syrup and flavored with a generous helping of cinnamon, this applesauce will take tired apples from your crisper and turn them into a healthy treat that will definitely not last long in your fridge.

Cinnamon Applesauce

4 pounds apples, peeled and large-diced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pile apple pieces into a Le Creuset (3 1/2 quart capacity or larger) or other heavy pot and begin cooking on high, tossing frequently.  When apples are beginning to warm and a few have acquired golden crusts, turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Add maple syrup and cinnamon and stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Place lid on pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for two hours.
  • Remove lid and stir.  Continue cooking on medium-low until apples are extremely soft and falling apart.  Mash with a fork (or potato masher) to achieve desired consistency.
  • Try to let it cool before you dive in, or you’ll burn your tongue!

Source: Covered In Flour

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Have a Healthy Holiday

No recipe today, kids.  Sorry about that.  I was planning to post a delicious cabbage frittata that I made this week, but… well… hubby and I were hungry.  So hungry that I completely forgot to photograph it before we attacked.  I’ll just have to make it again and post… maybe next week.  Because it was defnitely good enough to eat twice in two weeks.

This is that time of year when things are just that crazy and busy, that photo-forgetting happens.  Oh, I’m no stranger to the holiday anxiety.  And even though I am really, really looking forward to Christmas at my in-laws’ place, I’m currently experiencing varying levels of panic when I think about all of the things I have to do before I get to relax with the fam.  Things like decorating the Christmas tree (we still haven’t)… painting my living room (I might be insane)… touching up the paint in my downstairs half-bath… deep-cleaning the kitchen… writing Christmas cards… shopping for Christmas gifts (I haven’t bought a single one yet)… and assembling and mailing off packages to the family and friends that I won’t be seeing in person.  It’s enough to make a girl go haywire.  No wonder I forgot to photograph that frittata.

I’d love to say to you, “The holiday season doesn’t have to cause panic attacks!  You can have a fun and relaxing holiday, and here’s how!”  But I’d be lying if I said I had those kinds of answers.  As much as I love Christmas, I have yet to experience one where I wasn’t in a heightened state of anxiety for the month leading up to it.  The best I can hope for is to get out of the month still smiling and relatively sane, with my energy levels intact and my goals for the past year not completely derailed.  Okay, that’s a fairly modest endeavor, but it still feels like a tall order this time of year.  Here’s how I (try to) stay healthy at the holidays:

Prioritize exercise.  I’m someone who gets cranky if I go too long without a good sweat session, but taking long breaks also makes it harder for me to get back on the wagon.  I learned that the hard way during my summer funk this year, when I knew that a good run would make me feel better but couldn’t seem to motivate myself to get out there.  This time of year, it’s way too easy to let your workouts fall by the wayside in favor of tasks that seem more pressing at the time.  But don’t!  Get up early if you have to, or schedule a sweat session into your calendar like an appointment, and stick to it.  It IS an appointment – and an important one at that.  It’s an appointment with yourself.  Sure, this time of year is all about giving selflessly, but you also need to take time for you.  You’ll have more energy for giving if you keep to your exercise routine, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be much happier and more in the “holiday spirit” if you do.  I’m generally a morning exerciser – I like to get it done before the day butts in and tries to distract me – and I stick to that schedule as much as possible.  This month I’ve been working my way through a boot camp challenge and running on the weekends and if I have extra time in the evenings.  I always feel energized and ready to tackle my to-do list if I’ve gotten some Me Time in, in the form of a workout.

Indulge, but only when it’s worth it.  December is SO tempting when it comes to treats.  If you try to eat healthy most of the year, as I do, it can seem as though the entire month is rigged with land mines.  The cocktail parties, the cookie swaps, the treats that people feel compelled to leave in the office kitchen… and then there are the big holiday meals themselves.  It’s no wonder people start January on a major “clean up the diet and hit the gym” kick.  I’ve personally swung back and forth on the pendulum.  One holiday season I might be totally insane about calorie counting, and refuse to eat anything with a single fat gram in it.  And then another year I might say “It is what it is, can’t avoid it, so I’ll just have anything I want and then pay for it in January.”  Neither attitude is healthy.  So for the past few years I’ve committed to keeping up with my healthy eating for the most part, but indulging when it’s worth it.  The key is to recognize when it’s worth it.  “Worth it” means something different to everyone – it’s a personal decision.  For me?  Well, for example, store-bought red and green food coloring-dyed cookies that someone left out in the office kitchen?  Not worth it.  My mother-in-law’s delicious homemade dessert on Christmas Eve?  Worth it.  So I focus on eating “close to the Earth” for most of the month – lots of vegetables and lean proteins – and indulge only when I get the chance to have a really delicious treat that was made with love.  (This works with time, too.  An hour spent cleaning a closet that absolutely no one will see over the holidays?  Not worth it.  An hour on the phone with my best friend, who lives halfway around the world?  SO TOTALLY WORTH IT.)

Don’t go nuts at parties.  This is similar to the above.  We all have multiple parties to attend this time of year, but they don’t have to ruin our eating for the month!  I like to have a small meal before a party so I’m not tempted to make “dinner” out of fattening appetizers.  Then I just have a few bites of the party treats and I’m happy because I’ve gotten to taste the goodies but not gone crazy.  And when it comes to drinking, I sip red wine because I can make a glass last for awhile.  I’m not really a big drinker (regardless of the impression that the multitudes of wine posts on here may convey) and I like that I can enjoy a glass or two of red wine over the course of an entire party.  Oh, and the next day I don’t wake up unable to remember seeing friends that I only see once a year or so or worried that I might have regaled my entire office with an off-key rendition of “O Canada!”  Think of it this way: if you need to be drunk to enjoy a party, then you clearly aren’t having much fun.  So bail and go to a movie.  If you really want to be at the party, you’ll have a good time without needing to suck down seven margaritas.

Plan active ways to get in your family time.  As fun as it is to snuggle on the couch with your special someone or park your tush in front of the TV for hours on end with the fam, there is another way!  You can get in family time and movement at the same time.  For instance, last Thanksgiving I ran a Turkey Trot with my sister-in-law, and two years ago hubby and the sisters-in-law and I all took a wintry hike together over the Christmas visit.  This year, I’m already brainstorming… a snowy run through the park?  A yoga class with my sister-in-law?  No matter what, I’m sure we’ll find new, fun ways to be active together as a family.  (And if you really want to get away from your family?  Go for a run solo or hit the gym on your own.)

Sleep!  This last tip is huge.  I have always been someone who needs a lot of sleep – it’s probably the single most important thing to my well-being.  If my bedtime is delayed or if I have an interrupted night, I’m sluggish and cranky all the next day.  So I won’t be burning the midnight oil addressing envelopes or ordering gifts on Amazon.  If you’re like me, and you need your sleep, DO NOT worry about being selfish or boring.  If you have to tell the fam, “I’m tired, see you guys in the morning,” then tell them – they’ll understand.  If you’re worried about getting it all done, then jettison something else.  Maybe you only need to make one dessert for the neighborhood cookie swap, not three.  Or maybe you could keep one eye on the hockey game while you write out cards.  The absolute last thing I sacrifice is shut-eye.

So there you have it – my favorite tips for staying sane, healthy and fit over the holiday season.  Now it’s your turn to share, because I’m always looking for tips and tricks!

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