Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts

with all the mix insfront of mugThis is my favourite mug. The weight and shape of it feel just right in my hand. It is part of my comforting morning ritual. If  you’re wondering, the mug is from Anthropologie,. Sadly, they don’t make them anymore. I bought a bunch of them with the initials of favourite family members and friends so they would feel welcome when visiting. Now I can’t make any new friends, unless their names start with certain letters that I already have on the shelf. Such a dilemma! It would be awkward to serve my new friend Xavier a latte in a letter M mug.back of mugHere is my mug from the rear view. With the small chip in the base it’s not quite as attractive as the front view. (Most of us look better coming rather than going) Despite this flaw, the mug is still quite functional, so I refuse to replace it. I am also flawed but functional, so my mug is a perfect analogy for me.

This broccoli salad was created the week before we moved. I had been trying not to shop for any groceries and use up what was in the house, so that we would have less stuff to haul. A lonely bag of pine nuts escaped the freezer purge earlier in the week, so they were added for crunch. A jar of raisins survived the pantry purge, so in they went for sweetness. The top shelf of the fridge held a few Kalamata olives and some leftover pickled shallots. don't throw out the stemsPlease don’t chop the florets off your broccoli and discard the stems. Once you peel the outer woody skin, the inside is quite tender.

I had some help in styling this salad from the talent behind the fabulous Instagram account   @bowlsand beats (where health and hiphop collide). Full disclosure, she’s my daughter and she was home visiting for the weekend.

This was my first try at styling the salad. I wasn’t thrilled with the composition so I called her in to help.salad on white oval plate 1She immediately grouped all the little elements together for greater impact. bowls and beats stylessalad on white oval plate 2Better but not quite satisfied, she suggested we try a round bowl instead. styled by bowls and beats 2Perfect. We shot it with my iPhone for her Instagram page and then we ate!Instagram it

Click here to print recipe for Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts.

 

Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs and Sweet Potatoes

dinner-for-2At some point over the holidays you know it’s time to rein it in. Eating a sleeve of Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joes (insiders tip: they are even better frozen!) with a chaser of prosecco and calling it dinner can’t go on for too many days in a row. I find it’s best to do it before January 1st. Everyone knows that New Years resolutions don’t last.

I’m not talking about a kale and quinoa salad or an almond milk-frozen banana- spinach smoothie level reining it in. That’s hard core and way too severe for late December. I’m just suggesting that you prepare a meal that contains some protein, complex carbs and perhaps something green, and that requires you to actually sit down and use a knife and fork to eat it.

This recipe was inspired by NYT Cooking editor, Sam Sifton. Every Wednesday he writes about cooking without a recipe. On October 12 2016, he suggested roasting chicken thighs with sweet potato fries and jalapeños. I have made it several times, tweaking the procedure and quantities so you don’t have to cook without a recipe!

This sheet-pan chicken dinner is the perfect way to ease you back into a healthy routine. Start with cutting some sweet potatoes into a julienne shoestring fries shape. A glug of olive oil and a judicious sprinkle of Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to coat the fries is all that is required for seasoning.cutting-sweet-potatoesafew-glugs-of-olive-oilSeason some boneless skinless chicken things with more salt and pepper and a light dusting of smoked paprika (mild or hot, your choice). ready-for-roastingRoast for about 40 minutes in a hot (425°F) oven. Squeeze some fresh time juice over the chicken, scatter with thinly sliced jalapeño peppers (pickled jalalpenos are really good too!) and some cilantro and call it dinner. One frozen dark chocolate covered peppermint joe joe is a sensible dessert. It’s too soon to go cold turkey. Save that for January 1st!roasted

Click here to print recipe for Chicken-Thighs-and-Sweet-Potato-Sheet-Pan-Dinner.

dinner-for-one

Sticky Chicken Lettuce Cups with Corn Salad

chicken and corn saladConsider this post to be a Public Service Announcement (PSA) warning you about the dangers of drinking and grocery shopping. You would think that I had learned my lesson last year while visiting my friends Marla and Ed in Florida. After a delicious dinner which included several bottles of wine, we stopped in at the local Publix under the guise of getting some milk. Ed led me down the “Aisle of Eden” (candy aisle), and convinced me that buying the family sized bag of Twizzlers was a stellar idea. Waking up in the morning with a killer headache, and viewing the empty candy bag on the couch made me realize that perhaps our judgement was less than sound.

And yet I fell victim to drinking and grocery shopping again this week. After dinner, my husband and I stopped in at the supermarket to pick up a few ingredients I needed to make Bobby Flay’s sticky chicken in lettuce cups with a grilled corn salad. Cilantro was on my list. I was excited to see a small clamshell package of it, as I usually buy a big bunch and end up throwing out half of it once it starts to go slimy and ferment in my vegetable drawer.

Yesterday afternoon I pulled out all the ingredients to make dinner. I opened the package of cilantro and saw these huge spiky leaves. I looked at the package again closely.culantroWhat the hell is culantro?

In my defence, I only had one glass of wine with dinner, but, full disclosure here, I forgot my reading glasses. So, let’s amend that PSA to also include the dangers of shopping without your reading glasses.

Culantro, in case you’re curious, grows in southern Mexico. It is sometimes referred to as cilantro on steroids, as it has a very intense cilantro flavour. The leaf is quite tough so it is not really meant to be used raw but rather added to soups and stews.

A quick trip to the grocery store, with my reading glasses this time, and I had everything I needed to make the mint cilantro dressing for the grilled corn salad.corn salad dressingThe sticky glaze for the chicken simmers on the stove for about 20 minutes.making sticky saucegrilling chicken and corncutting corn off the cob corn salad 625 sqLettuce wraps are the ultimate in guilt free healthy eating. chicken and lettuce 625 sq Click here to print recipe for Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Mint Dressing.

Click here to print recipe for Sticky Glazed Chicken Thighs in Lettuce Cups.wrap

 

Kale, Chicken Sausage and White Bean Soup

ready to eat 2 625 sqIf you keep up on these things, you may know that one of the hottest “it” foods in 2013 was kale. I realize that we are already a month into 2014 now, so forgive me if I’m just a little late to the party.

Dubbed the “Queen of Greens”, Kale has a ton of health benefits. Low in calories, high in fibre and anti-oxidant rich, kale contains calcium, potassium and vitamins A, C and K. Research shows it helps fight age-related diseases too!

Last year I read about The Kale Effect  (TKE). Defined as an “immediate, and observable, autonomic nervous system response to the absorption of the vitamins and minerals in nutrient rich kale.  Symptoms may include uncontrollable smiling, laughing, and jumping up and down in the kitchen.”

I wanted in on “The Kale Effect” in the worst way possible. I mean who wouldn’t? I suspected the only way kale was going to make me laugh uncontrollably was if I chopped it finely, rolled it in paper and smoked it. But I was game to give kale a chance.

I spent quite a bit of time last year trying to like kale. Everyone gushed about kale chips. They said that eating these would make any craving for potato chips vanish. They said that kale chips were just as satisfying as potato chips. They were wrong! Kale chips taste like crispy seaweed that turns to dust in your mouth.

Then I moved onto raw chopped kale in a salad with apples and walnuts. Swallowing that raw kale felt like someone was trying to scratch the inside of my throat.  Then I heard that you should massage your kale first, before eating it. Apparently massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure and raw kale goes from bitter and tough to silky and sweet. I never did try the rubdown. I have my limits. I mean, good lord, what’s next, a mani and pedi for your Brussels sprouts?

I worked my way through kale and onion pie, sautéed kale with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, stir fried kale, smoked kale and braised kale with cabbage and balsamic vinegar. None of these were terribly awful (except for the smoked kale), but I certainly did not want to make any of them for a second time.

But damn, I wanted to get in on The Kale Effect. When would I begin smiling and laughing uncontrollably? It seems that the key to kale love, for me, was to combine it with lots of other ingredients so that it became filler and not the star of the show. That way you have lots of other delicious ingredients and still get all the benefits of kale.

The two main types of kale you are likely to encounter in the grocery store are curly kale, which is quite pungent, dinosaur or black kale, (also called calvolo nero) which is sweet and delicate in flavour.
curly-kale 2Fdinosaur kaleFTry this kale soup and soon, you too, may begin smiling and laughing uncontrollably and jumping up and down in your kitchen!prepI adapted a similar recipe for Sausage and Kale Soup with Black Eyed Peas from Serious Eats. I decided to lighten mine up a bit and I used spicy chicken sausages instead of traditional pork sausages. I also opted for canned white beans instead of soaking my own black eyed peas.sauteeing chicken sausagesimmering soupThe chopped kale gets added during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Just enough time to wilt and soften it. Before the kale is added, about a quarter of the soup is pureed in the blenderblenderThe finished soup gets a final garnish of freshly grated lemon zest, chopped fresh rosemary and a shaving of Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

I loved this soup. The spicy chicken sausage packed just the right amount of heat to keep this soup from being bland. Pureeing just a quarter of the soup created an amazing thick and comforting texture. The bitter kale, added right at the end, had just enough time to mellow slightly, while still retaining some texture. Lemon zest as a garnish added just the right extra hit of freshness and brightness. I am a kale convert.cropped bowl 1 625

Click here to print recipe for Sausage White Bean and Kale Soup.

P.S. Duking it out for super fruit of 2014 is the buffaloberry and the pichuberry. You heard it here first folks!!