Category Archives: healthy

Pitaya (Dragonfruit) Breakfast Bowl

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I’ve been sporadically buying these for a couple weeks down here in San Antonio, and realized lately I better learn how to make them myself, because $9 for a breakfast bowl is notttt happening. Dragonfruit (or Pitaya, if you want to be really fancy about it) is a crazy-looking fruit that’s packed with antioxidants and is a gorgeous bright pink color the stuff my eight year old birthday party dreams were made of. I combined a frozen smoothie pack of this with some coconut water and frozen cubes of fresh papaya and banana, plus about a tablespoon of chia seeds that I soaked overnight. Then, you blend it into “eat with a spoon,” not “drink with a straw” texture, top artfully with fruit and toppings of your choice and serve to your fiance, who will think this is so pretty he’ll instagram it (Hi Brendan!).

PITAYA (DRAGONFRUIT) BREAKFAST BOWL (makes 1)

  • 1 packet Pitaya Plus Smoothie Pack (NEPA friends – check Wegman’s)
  • 1/2 frozen banana (peeled and cut into slices)
  • small handful frozen papaya cubes
  • Coconut water, about 1/3 a cup
  • 1 tbsp. soaked chia seeds (optional)
  • Toppings (your choice): Sliced fresh banana, raspberries, blueberries, coconut flakes, granola, kiwi, etc.

1. In a Nutribullet or a blender, combine the smoothie pack, frozen banana and papaya, chia seeds and coconut water. Blend until it’s an “eat with a spoon” consistency (add more frozen banana or even ice to thicken it, or more coconut water to thin it).

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2. Pour carefully into a smallish bowl.

3. Top creatively with fruit, granola, coconut etc. There are so many options for this beautiful, insanely healthy way to start your day. Enjoy!

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Cauli-rice


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I swear, cauliflower is one of my favorite sneaky little foods. It seems so boring and basic, but then all of a sudden, it’s cauliflower mashed “potatoes” that would easily pass for the real thing. Or it’s an insanely flavorful roasted little snack. Or it’s blended with potatoes and a hearty, comfort-food-style soup.  I kept reading about cauliflower “rice” and – amazingly – doubting its ability to be awesome. And then I tried it, and once again, cauliflower surprised me. This was so delicious (and healthy!), I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the real deal.

CAULI-RICE (serves 2)

  • Half a head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  1. Carefully cut away most of the stems of half a head of cauliflower. Working in batches, pulse in a food processor until the texture resembles rice.

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2. Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add cauliflower to the skillet when oil is heated, then cover and let cook for about 10 minutes. You want to let this sit a bit to pick up some flavor from browning, so don’t stir it more than once or twice.

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4. When cauliflower is ready, serve alongside just about anything. We had ours with salmon in parchment for a super-simple, heart-healthy Sunday dinner.

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Blood Orange Citrus Salad with Honey, Basil and Sea Salt


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Winter in San Antonio has been…not terrible. While the poor East Coast is getting Snowzilla’ed, we’re outside enjoying the sunshine. And Central Market is currently having their Citrus Celebration, which features about 60 different kinds of grapefruit, oranges, lemons, etc. It’s beautiful and delicious and makes me happy every time I set foot in that store.

This salad is perfect as either an appetizer or a dessert. Blood oranges are seasonal, and sweeter than a typical orange, but the addition of a little drizzle of honey, some flaked citrus salt (if you have it, if not, regular salt will work too) and some julienned basil is the most amazing combination. So many flavors!!

BLOOD ORANGE CITRUS SALAD WITH HONEY, BASIL AND SEA SALT (Serves 2)

  • Two blood oranges
  • Local honey, approx. 1 tsp. per salad
  • 7-8 basil leaves
  • Pinch of flaked citrus salt or regular sea salt
  1. Cut off the top and bottom of the orange, so it can stand on one end. Then, carefully remove the skin with a sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut away too much of the orange.

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2. Cut orange into slices, width-wise, and arrange on a plate.

3. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with sea salt and top with julienned basil. Serve immediately.

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Look at all this citrus!!! Come on!!

Paleo Chicken Fingers (Gluten-free)


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Ok, to preface this  – I am not “going gluten-free.” However, I’m half Sicilian, and I love pasta way too much. And I also have a wedding dress I need to fit into in seven months, so something’s got to be done. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free recipes during the week, and “cheating” during the weekends. It keeps me in check with what I’m consuming, especially down here in Texas, and the portion control piece of all of this is also working out better than I expected. After three months of indulging in our new city, it’s time to reign it back in. And it’s a testament to these recipes that Brendan had NO CLUE I’d decided to start eating, and cooking, gluten-free. These were seriously delicious.

PALEO CHICKEN TENDERS (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken tenders
  • 1.5 C almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great combo of the meal/flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prep your setup: in one bowl, have the eggs. In another, larger bowl, combine the almond meal with the spices. IMG_0559
  3. Using a fork (this will keep your hands from getting all breaded, themselves) dip the pieces of chicken first in the eggs, then on both sides in the almond meal, lightly pressing to make sure the almond meal forms a good coating on the chicken.
  4. Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray or rub some olive oil on it.
  5. Place the “breaded” chicken on the baking sheet, then bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once, until golden and chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve with a side of honey mustard – I made this by just combining dijon mustard with a little honey and a little mayo – and some green beans.  So good.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

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This is so easy to make that it actually makes you feel guilty about buying chicken stock from the store. You basically have to force yourself to be lazy enough not to make this, especially when you make roasted chickens as much as we do. It’s basically a collection of what’s left in your fridge, some simmering, then freezing for fresh chicken stock all day, all the time.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK (makes about 3 quarts)

  • 1 chicken carcass (from a roasted chicken – I use this after we’ve used the bulk of it for recipes)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • handful parsley
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt & pepper, approx. 1 tsp of each

1. Get a big stockpot, the biggest you have.

2. Throw in the chicken carcass, parsley, carrots, onion, salt & pepper.

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3. Fill to the top with water – for me, this was about 12 cups.

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4. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours over very low heat, stirring every once in a while.

5. Taste, season, then remove all the chicken, veggies & parsley.

6. Store stock in large mason jars in the freezer (I stuck them in the fridge for a couple hours so they didn’t break while going from boiling to freezing) and thaw to use when needed. Enjoy.

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Mushroom “Meatballs”




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These were the first thing Brendan ever made me, and they’re one of my very favorites. Meatballs are one of the best foods ever, but these are vegetarian, and they honestly stand up to the real thing. Plus, anytime I get Bren in the kitchen is a done deal. He’s an awesome cook.

MUSHROOM “MEATBALLS” (makes about 20 – recipe via allrecipes.com)

  • 1 lb. white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. quick-cook oats
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO

1. Finely chop mushrooms, then heat the 1 tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt, cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

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2. Add butter to the mushrooms, cook until golden brown.

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3. Add onion to the mushroom mixture and cook until it’s translucent, approx. 5 minutes. IMG_6834

4. Remove from heat, add garlic and stir approx. 90 seconds. Add mixture to a mixing bowl.

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5. Mix in the oats, approx. 1/3 C. parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and, when the mixture is cool, 1 egg. Add the salt pepper, cayenne pepper and oregano, then mix until combined. Stir in the other egg.

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6. Heat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll the mixture into little meatballs.

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7. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown. Eat alone or over pasta – these are the bomb.

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Colorado Christmas

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Brendan and I just got back from 9 days in Colorado – one of the best weeks of 2014, by far. We flew into Denver, spent the night and the next morning in Boulder with my college roommate Meri, her husband Tim and their three kids (my favorites), then picked up Brendan’s brother Kyle and drove out to their hometown, Grand Junction, on the western slope. Then, we drove down to Pagosa Springs for skiing, hot spring-ing and relaxing, then up to Telluride for Christmas, then finally back to Brendan’s hometown for a night out with his friends before flying out of DIA the next day. WHAT A WEEK.  Colorado is my favorite state in the country, and it was so great to be back there, getting to see where Bren grew up, spending time with his family and just being able to kick back for a while. The pace of life out there is so much more manageable; people are healthy, fun and active; the culture is smart and progressive; and don’t even get me started about how unbelievably gorgeous every single part of that state is.

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Holiday Detox Salmon Burger

 

Thanksgiving this year was the most delicious one ever, which meant I totally overdid it. So yesterday and today have been full of Nutribullets and limited carbs. For lunch today, Brendan came home and we made Wild for Salmon’s feta-dill salmon burgers, topped them with thin slices of avocado and a simple lemony dill sauce, then wrapped them in lettuce for a super healthy, quick and delicious lunch. I’ve tried to copy these burgers before, but have to admit defeat when I taste it. Nothing comes close to these burgers stuffed with feta and dill

HOLIDAY DETOX BURGER (makes 2)
– 3 large iceberg lettuce leaves
– 2 Wild for Salmon’s feta-dill salmon burgers
Lemon-Dill sauce
– 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1. Lightly spray a grill pan with cooking spray. Heat to medium.

2. Cook the salmon burgers, approx. 2 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Try to get those “sweet grill marks”, if you’re Brendan. Why do guys love these so much??

 

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Salmon and Avocado Apps with Lemon, Dill and Sesame Seeds

Not gonna lie, I felt pretty pleased with myself making these. The saltiness/savoriness of the salmon combined with the creamy avocado is perfect, they have 4 ingredients, tops, are chock full of Omega-3s – the “good for you fats” – which help with your cardiovascular health, eyesight, joints and a whole bunch of other things, have a hint of the bright flavor of lemon (which adds detox benefits) and if you use Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax, you can skip the dill altogether. I did a couple of these with a light coating of toasted sesame seeds, but that’s up to you. These were ready in no time, and gone in about that same amount too.

SALMON AND AVOCADO APPS WITH LEMON AND DILL (makes about 30)
– 3 avocados, cut into approx. 3/4 inch chunks
Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax (or smoked salmon if you can’t find this, but please try because this is amazing.)
– juice of 1 lemon
– pinch of kosher salt
– sesame seeds (optional)

1. Cut the avocados into approx. 3/4 inch chunks. 



2. Add to a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the pinch of salt – this will keep the avocado from browning.

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Black Bean, Acorn Squash, Kale & Cheddar Jack Quesadillas

Let’s say that you and your boyfriend are going to a city council meeting one night, and you’re both working basically right up to the time it starts. Do you A. Go to the grocery store and buy things for dinner which would probably consist of pasta, and a jar of sauce B. Pick up something on the way to the meeting or C. Think about the hodgepodge of ingredients in your refrigerator on your drive home from work, throw this together in 45 minutes and then watch your boyfriend inhale an entire quesadilla in the 5 minutes he’s home before you both have to leave for the council meeting, knowing that it’s made of almost completely healthy things? 
 
C. If this town could run itself as efficiently as this recipe came together, it would be a whole new world. 
 
BLACK BEAN, ACORN SQUASH, KALE & CHEDDAR JACK QUESADILLAS (serves 2-4)
– 1/2 an acorn squash, sliced
– 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into pieces
– 1/2 vidalia onion, really thinly sliced
– 1/3 shredded jack cheese
– 4 flour tortillas
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt & pepper
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
 
2. Carefully (these are really hard), with a serrated knife, cut the acorn squash into strips. Rub the cut sides with a little olive oil.
 
3. Place acorn squash on a baking sheet, roast for about 30 minutes, flipping sides around halfway through.



4. Thinly slice an onion, then cook it over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp. EVOO until it soften and starts to caramelize. Continue reading