Chicken Gyros

I’ve noticed a lot of people are creeped out by gyro meat. They don’t get how it’s made and all they see is questionable looking lamb and beef on a spinning stick and won’t give it a chance. My mom is one of those people. But gyros are so delicious. The combination of juicy well seasoned meat with burnt ends, and that tangy tzatziki sauce in a warm pita. Mmm mm!

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One of the best moments on my honeymoon was my first real Greek gyro in Santorini. Yes, I mean that. It was so friken good. Mouth is now watering.

Anyways, after doing a bit of research, I tried a recipe using only chicken thighs and by creating our own vertical rotisserie in our oven at home, we were able to enjoy a healthy version that also tastes like indulgent comfort food. And while it may look like a labor intensive recipe it is super easy! Try it for your next game day party! The reviews in our house were top notch.

Photo Cred to my awesome sister and nurse/photographer Lisa Effren Photography

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 4 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 lemons
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Cucumber
  • 1/2 cup or so of Olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1 thick slice
  • Pita
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
  • White onion, sliced very thin for toppings
  • 1 wooden skewer
  • Seasonings: 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp coriander, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp cayenne pepper for heat, lots of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

(You can adjust the seasoning amounts as you see fit. These are rough estimates of what I used because I didn’t measure. But don’t be scared of new seasonings. I thought the cinnamon was a bit weird myself. Just trust me, somehow it all blends together for a delicious chicken)

This recipe will make 8 good-sized pitas.

Instructions:

Start by marinating your chicken in a bag or bowl–whatever is easiest for you. Add your chicken thighs, 2 cups of yogurt, juice of 1-2 lemons and olive oil. Then add your seasonings *cumin, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, white pepper, cayenne, salt & pepper) and incorporate well. Let it sit for an hour.

 

Set your oven to 400 degrees. If you have a fancy oven like my Mom with a convection roast option, use that but put it at 375 degrees. We had to play around with the temperature a bit. You may have to pull a few racks out of the oven and place it on the bottom level to make sure it can fit. I suggest testing it out before you put all the meat on the stick.

Set up a tray with parchment paper, and use a thick onion slice on the bottom of the wood skewer. Then take each chicken thigh and place it through the stick. Keep rotating which way you put the chicken so you are evening out the level. (Photos below of what it should look like)

I made the mistake of trying to be fancy and placed the top of the onion over the chicken. It was a mistake because it made the stick too top heavy and it fell over. 😩 Don’t worry, we used more sticks to prop it up which worked just fine. Don’t be stupid like me- don’t place the onion on top. When you are finished, put the tray in the oven and then make your tzatziki sauce.

Shred one cucumber into a bowl lined with a paper towel. When finished, pick up the paper towel and squeeze all the water out of the shredded cucumber. Add the juice of one lemon, roughly 2 tbsps of fresh chopped dill and parsley, crushed garlic and heavy on the salt & pepper.

Place it in the fridge and let the flavors meld for 30 minutes or until your chicken is done. It’s good to do a taste test here and see if it needs more salt–it likely will.

After an hour and a half to two hours in the oven, your chicken should look like this. Don’t be scared by the blackened edges because they are delicious. The juicy chicken is on the inside.

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Take the tray out and let it set for 5-10 minutes while you prep your other ingredients. Put your pitas in the warm oven and take your tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and lettuce out of the fridge.

Slice your chicken as shown below.

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Get your gyro bar set up and let everyone dig in! You can use whatever toppings you like but the crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, thinly sliced white onions and the tangy fresh tzatziki are the perfect combination in my humble opinion!

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Fold, bite and enjoy with a nice cold beer!

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Eggs & Avo “Everything” Sandwich

Avo toast is all the rage lately. Quite frankly it’s delicious if done properly. That means 1) finding ripe avocados and then 2) adding some flavor to make it stand out–whether with salt & cayenne pepper or my new favorite “everything but bagel” seasoning from Trader Joes. I love making breakfast and have come up with so many ways to combine eggs & avocado which go together so perfectly. The creaminess of the avocado acts like a cheese but it’s a tad bit better for you. The only thing this sandwich is missing is bacon–which I encourage adding if you have the time in the morning. This recipe is my quick n healthy before work go-to.

(PS- when picking out an avocado, make sure it’s firm but gives a little. It shouldn’t be like mush and it shouldn’t feel like a baseball. It’s the happy medium. Then, pick the little stem off. If it’s green behind there, then it’s green inside. If you see any brown then put it down!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (scrambled, poached or fried- chef’s choice. )
  • 1/2 of a small avocado
  • Beautiful red juicy tomato, sliced
  • Toast (I used whole wheat english muffin)
  • Everything but bagel seasoning (pictured below)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Optional Addition: add cayenne pepper or your favorite hot sauce to kick it up a notch

Directions:

So this can’t be much easier… slice your tomatoes, mash your avocado, cook your egg, sprinkle with seasoning and put it all together on toasted bread.

Photos and tips below….

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In the summer, we grow tomatoes and it’s worth every minute of labor and the daily watering. There’s nothing better then picking a fresh tomato, cutting it like an apple and sprinkling some kosher salt on it. YUM! But I digress. If you have a juicy red tomato laying around, add this to your avo toast.

I do suggest adding kosher salt directly to the tomato slice in addition to the seasoning blend but that’s just because of my crazy obsession with kosher salt.

Start with the avocado. Put it on your toasted bread and mash with a fork. Add a layer of seasoning. If you’re making a sandwich I do recommend splitting the avocado mesh between both slices of bread so it’s on both sides of your sandwich.

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Add tomatoes and another layer of seasoning (plus the optional sprinkle of salt)

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Add your scrambled (pictured below), fried or poached egg and sprinkle one more layer of seasoning. Top with another piece of toast and take a bite. You can also make this open faced and eat it with a fork and knife if you’re watching those carbs.

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If you’re in a rush, skip the tomato and the egg!

Cherry tomatoes work too 🙂

Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers in Spicy Enchilada Sauce

This recipe that can be made a thousand different ways. Put an Italian or Greek twist on it instead of Mexican, use ground beef instead of ground turkey, go vegetarian with beans and tofu, add rice if you don’t want it carb free… I could go on and on. But the husband and I are on a healthy kick as of late so that was my guiding principle. Ground turkey sauteed with veggies and stuffed in charred poblano peppers over a simple spicy red enchilada sauce.

The Stuffing:

  • 1 package organic ground turkey breast (about 1lb)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Few tablespoons of chicken broth or tomato sauce 
  • Spices: I used a mixture of the following. Feel free to adjust. 
    • Ancho chili powder
    • Cumin
    • Coriander
    • Cayenne pepper for a little heat
    • Onion Powder
    • Salt & pepper
  • Your choice of cheese for topping – I used a light mozzarella. A Mexican blend or pepper jack would be great. 

    Instructions:

    Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. 

    Saute the onions first for a few minutes and then add the peppers. Season with salt and pepper.

    Season the meat with all of your spices and add to a hot pan with the peppers and onions. Break the meat down with a spoon. You can add a little chicken broth or tomato juice to help soften the meat and cover with a lid for a few minutes. I used chicken broth and some cherry tomatoes I had from the garden. I also mixed in a little bit of cheese so it sticks the mixture together. 

    It sure don’t look pretty but it tastes good!

    The Sauce:

    • 2 ancho chili peppers in adobo sauce (these come in a can, and are smoky and hot!)
    • 1/2 of an onion, chopped 
    • Olive oil
    • Fresh chopped tomatoes, or a can of tomato sauce (I happened to have fresh tomatoes from my garden so that’s what I used)
    • Chicken or vegetable broth

    Instructions:

    Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil.

    Add ancho chili peppers and stir for a few minutes.

    Add tomatoes and chicken broth, season with salt & pepper. Let the broth reduce and thicken a bit.

    Puree the sauce with a hand held mixer or pour into a blender. Let it cook down for a few more minutes and then set aside.

    Tip: if your sauce comes out a bit too spicy for your taste, consider adding a pinch of sugar or a touch of cream.

    The Peppers:

    Poblanos chance spicy but are not always. If you’re cooking for kids maybe opt to use bell peppers instead. 

    You can either throw the peppers on a grill or char them over a flame on your stove top as pictured below. They will cook more when you bake them in the oven so it’s just to get a nice blistered skin on them.

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    Pour the sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Cut the peppers in half and fill with the meat stuffing.

    Top with cheese and bake at 400 until nice and bubbly. I through the broiler on at the end to brown the cheese. 

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    Enjoy!

     

    Blistered Shishito Peppers

    It’s always good to have easy appetizers in your back pocket. This recipe can be thrown together in 10 minutes and will please any crowd. Pair it with a creamy dip:  it’s healthy and not too spicy–just full of flavor. 

    Ingredients 

    • Shishito peppers
    • Kosher or Sea Salt
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Paprika
    • Olive oil 
    • Mayo and/or sour cream
    • Half of a lemon, juiced
    • Dash hot sauce to taste 

    Put your clean and dry peppers in a bowl. Toss with the seasonings and oil. Go a little heavy on the salt. 


    To make the dip put equal parts sour cream and mayo with lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Mix and let sit. 

    Put your cast iron skillet on the stove and get it piping hot. Then turn to medium/high heat. 


    Place your peppers in the pan and let cook for a minute or two then toss to blister the other sides. Cook for a total of 5-6 minutes. 

    Serve immediately with dipping sauce. Sprinkle peppers with more salt on top and a dash of paprika in the sauce for a touch of color.  

    To eat – pick up peppers by the stem, dip in sauce and chow down on everything but the stem. 

    Caesar Salad

    There are a lot of ways to make caesar dressing and this just happens to be my way. It doesn’t include egg yolks or whole anchovies and it’s not thick and white. My lightened up version is pretty healthy compared to other options (definitely better than store bought) and when you’re just having salad with grilled chicken for dinner, it’s ok to have some calories in the dressing. Plus I don’t use croutons, so throw a little more cheese in there!

    This recipe is quick and easy for a healthy weeknight meal. You have to taste test the proportions of ingredients but you’ll get the hang of it. It’s not an exact science. 


    Ingredients:

    • Juice of 1-2 lemons 
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • Squeeze of anchovy paste (optional- about 1-2 tsps)
    • Squeeze of brown mustard (about a tablespoon or less)
    • Dash or two of worchestshire sauce
    • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (at least 1 tbsp. Go with 2!)
    • Olive oil, the good stuff
    • Salt and fresh cracked pepper 


    Put all ingredients except the cheese and oil into a bowl and mix well with a whisk. Then add your oil and whisk some more. Then add cheese which will add a creamy saltiness to it. Mix well and do a taste test to see if it’s balanced. 


    It will take some practice to get it right but once you get it, it’s so good. 


    Toss on your romaine, and add grilled chicken on top! I recommend washing and cutting your lettuce, put it in a bowl with paper towels in the fridge while you make the dressing and do other things. It will make your lettuce nice and crisp. 

    Fish Tacos

    There are so many versions of fish tacos out there and believe me I’ve tried more than my fair share. There’s nothing better than a deep fried crispy fish taco with a tangy coleslaw on top. Especially if it’s paired with a margarita and lots of sunshine. But, reality check, it’s February and it’s the time of year when we really need to shed those winter thermals (otherwise known as fat on the gut) and trim down our waste lines. This recipe will transport you to warmer times and deliver on flavor without all the guilt.

    Ingredients

    For the Fish: (this will make 4 good sized tacos, so 2 each)

    • 1lb of cod (it’s a nice white fish and much less expensive than Sea Bass or my favorite, Halibut)
    • 1 lime, juice and zest
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Garlic powder
    • Cayenne pepper
    • Olive oil drizzle
    • Yellow corn taco shells

    Avocado Crema

    • 1/2 of an avocado
    • Fresh Cilantro
    • Jalapeño (seeds and veins removed)
    • 1-2 spoonfuls of light sour cream
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • Salt & Pepper

    Coleslaw

    • 1/2 red cabbage sliced thin
    • 1/2 of white cabbage sliced thin
    • Cilantro
    • Juice of one lime
    • Little olive oil
    • Splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar
    • Garlic powder
    • Salt and pepper

    You can buy a bag of pre-cut coleslaw to make it easier. I’ve used Whole Foods cabbage, carrot and beet slaw which is also great.  With the recipe above, you will have leftovers of the coleslaw which is great on its own as a salad or even better leftover the next day.

    Directions:

    Season your fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just a little cayenne if you don’t like spicy), lime zest, lime juice and olive oil. Let marinate in the fridge for 10-15 minutes while you prep your other ingredients.

    Place your cabbage in a bowl with cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

    Using a small food processor, place all ingredients in for the crema- avocado, a bunch of cilantro, a jalapeno, lime juice, sour cream and salt/pepper. If for some reason it comes out too bitter, add a dash of agave syrup (or white balsamic) to sweeten it. I find sometimes if your avocado isn’t ripe enough, it needs it. Puree to combine.

    Put your pan on medium/high heat and put fish in. Cook for a few minutes and flip. It won’t take long but it depends on how thick it is. When it’s solid white you are good to go!

    While your fish is finishing, place your taco shell on the burner and brown. If you don’t have a gas burner, just heat it up anyway you like (in a pan, microwave, etc. I like the flavor of the char). 

    Put your crema down first, then your fish and top with the tangy fresh cole slaw.

    Eat and enjoy all the flavor and none of the guilt!

    Here’s a snap chat video from the last time I made them.

     

    Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em “Turkey Meatballs”

    I’m not going to lie, the thought of turkey meatballs wasn’t appetizing to me. As an Italian especially, I made some assumptions that they couldn’t possibly be good. I was wrong… And I made these on a weeknight in under a half hour and not only was it a healthy option but it was truly delicious. They were also good leftover. Give em a try!

    Ingredients:

    • 1.25 lbs of lean white meat turkey breast
    • 3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
    • 1 small onion, grated
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
    • 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
    • 1/4 cup imported parmigiano cheese
    • Tomato sauce
    • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • Red pepper flakes to taste
    • Salt & pepper
    • Pam oil spray

    Directions

    Pre heat oven to 400.

    In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, onion, egg, bread crumbs and cheese. Mix well and then add the turkey. Roll into balls and place on a sprayed cookie sheet. This recipe made 15 balls which came out to 119 calories each including the sauce and cheese.

    Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Then place in cast iron pan to finish searing on all sides.


    Then add tomato sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.

    Then add mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler until bubbly and browned.


    Mmmmmmm. Time to eat!

    Prosciutto Wrapped Arugula with Pear and Blue Cheese

    It’s nice to have easy go-to recipes in your back pocket that taste delicious. This particular recipe also happens to be pretty healthy for you as far as summertime BBQ dishes go. It can be used as an appetizer or side dish, it’s easy to serve and eat with your fingers. The one downside to this recipe is that it’s not one of those make ahead dishes that can sit…otherwise you will have soggy lettuce. But you can whip it up in 10 minutes right when guests arrive or right before you leave the house.

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    Ingredients:

    • Argulua, washed and dried
    • Balsamic glaze (like this one or make your own)
    • Good quality olive oil
    • Fresh cracked pepper (you really don’t need salt b/c the prosciutto takes care of that)
    • 1 pear, sliced into thin pieces
    • Crumbled blue cheese
    • 15 thinly sliced imported prosciutto

    Instructions:

    • Put the arugula in a bowl, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze and olive oil. Then add fresh cracked black pepper and combine.
    • Lay your prosciutto out flat and place a small handful of arugula on the end of the slice. Add 1-2 pieces of apple and some blue cheese crumbles.
    • Roll all the ingredients inside the prosciutto.
    • Serve on a platter. Option to drizzle more balsamic glaze on top.


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    If you have any vegetarians, skip the prosciutto and they have a delicious salad! image

    July 2016 Update: I put a spin on this recipe so that it would stand up better to being left outdoors in the summer time. Form the prosciutto slices in small muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Add the same ingredients as above and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Amaze!

    Cauliflower Crust Pizza

    Cauliflower is all the rage lately on Pinterest. I’ve looked on with skeptical curiosity but finally decided to take the plunge given our goal to keep eating healthy. I will say making this crust was a bit more work than I expected, but, it really, truly was delicious. My crust was a bit soft in the center so I think I could have cooked the crust a few more minutes or the tomato sauce was too much to handle (I’ll have to make a few more before I can submitt a perfect recipe to you all). But if you are gluten free and cutting back on carbs (or want to hide some veggies from your kids) this recipe is a great option. It can be fun to do as a family, too!

    Cauliflower crusted pizza by jewtalian

    Ingredients:

    • 1 head of cauliflower
    • 1 egg
    • Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
    • Dried or Fresh Chopped Oregano
    • Red Pepper Flakes (optional for some spice)
    • 1 TBSP flax seed meal (optional)
    • 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
    • Few TBSPs of fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

    Instructions:

    • Put your pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees.
    • Place your cauliflower in the blender and pulse until it looks like rice or some people say, snow.

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    • Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 4 minutes. It will come out piping hot. Dump the mixture on to a clean dish towel and when it’s cooled enough squeeze all the water out–this will take you several minutes. You will be shocked by the amount of water that comes out!
    • In a mixing bowl add the egg, cheeses, and seasonings. (I have used fresh parsley and the spicy oregano I grow in my garden) Incorporate the cauliflower and mix together–use your hands!

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    • Roll it into a ball and place on top of a piece of parchment paper.

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    • Using your hands press down on the “dough” flattening it out into the shape of a pizza. I used my fingers to create a crust around the edge.

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    • Place the crust on the parchment paper on the pizza stone and cook for 15 minutes 

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    • I topped mine with some leftover homemade sauce, caramelized onions, reduced fat mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and of course some spicy soppressata.
    • After your toppings are done, bake the pizza until the cheese is bubbly and browning. NOTE: let your pizza cool and set a few minutes before you cut into it or it will be messy and more difficult to pick up a slice and eat it. Buon Appetito!

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    Here’s another version I did with zuchinni, tomatoes and shrimp. 

    Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    In an effort to keep things healthy post January 1, last weekend I decided to try a healthy spin on buffalo chicken wraps–one of my favorites. Whats better than a soft flour tortilla, crunchy fried chicken smothered in buffalo sauce, some mayo or ranch and crunchy lettuce…. amazing. So, how can we make this better? Avoid frying and the calorie ridden flour tortilla. This recipe satisfied my craving. The crunchy bread crumbs and avo purĂ©e make this healthy dinner feel indulgent but it’s much more friendly to your waistline.


    Ingredients:

    • Package of chicken breasts, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
    • Panko bread crumbs
    • 1/2 cup or so of Franks Buffalo Sauce
    • 1 cup or so 2% Greek yogurt
    • 2 celery stalks, chopped for topping
    • Bibb lettuce, washed and separated
    • Avocado
    • Fresh parsley
    • 1 tbsp White balsamic vinegar

    Directions:

    • For this recipe I cut my chicken into nugget shapes. You can cut them into tenders or anything you want.
    • In a large mixing bowl add your chicken and sprinkle with salt. Add 3/4 of the Greek yogurt and some Franks red hot. Stir everything to combine and then cover with saran wrap and stick in the refrigerator for at least a half hour. (A few hours is fine if you want to get prep out of the way early).

      • Pre heat the oven to 375.
      • Pour panko bread crumbs into a shallow dish and wet with some oil. Coat each piece of chicken with the bread crumbs but pressing them firmly into the chicken, and place on a cookie sheet topped with a drying rack. This will help crisp up the chicken.

      • Bake for about 30 minutes or until they get golden. If necessary broil them at the end to finish browning.

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      • You have the option of spraying the chicken with a light olive oil towards the end to ensure the breadcrumbs get nice and crispy.
      • Meanwhile put avocado, the rest of the Greek yogurt, fresh parsley, vinegar and salt and pepper in blender and purĂ©e until smooth. I also added a few celery leaves.

      • When the chicken is done, assemble a lettuce wrap with the purĂ©e, chicken, celery,  and a drizzle of hot sacue and a dollop of ranch.  Enjoy!

      These also make great chicken nuggets for kids without the hot sauce on top! My neighbors 2 year old ate them right up!


      Updated 3/26/17

      Also make them into tenders and put them over a salad with ranch!

      No Bake Protein Bites

      We have all reached for the bag of potato chips, chocolate cookies or in my case usually goldfish, at some point during the day. You’re hungry or bored (or hungry and bored) and you didn’t pack anything healthy to bring to work. Or the case may be that any healthy choices are uninteresting or too difficult. I’m not going to pretend to solve that problem totally but I have found something that is super easy to make, you can store it in your fridge for a week and they actually do taste delicious. The no bake protein bites have been a craze for a while now but they are new to me so I’m excited and sharing it with all of you. There are endless ways to craft these and I will probably try using raisins instead of chocolate chips and maybe some almond butter instead of peanut butter. But for now, this recipe works great! One ball if made the size of a golf ball is roughly 165 calories and  5 grams of protein. (You can also consider adding protein powder if you’re working out and need the extra protein).

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      Ingredients:

      This should make 12 snack bites.

      • 1 cup of dry oatmeal
      • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
      • 1/2 cup peanut butter
      • 1/3 cup honey (I used half agave nectar and half honey)
      • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
      • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup wheat germ (or flaxseed)
      • 1/4 cup or so of dark chocolate chips

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      Instructions:

      Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so to get everything cold. Then roll them into balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat one for your late afternoon snack!

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      Huevos Rancheros

      Mexican breakfast eggs, as my husband calls it, or otherwise known as huevos rancheros is one of my favorite brunch selections. Some combination of eggs, beans, tortilla and salsa… yum. There’s endless ways to make this dish and mine is simply based off what I had in my kitchen. You can certainly make it for breakfast but “breakfast for dinner” is an even better weeknight option – cheap, easy and usually pretty fast. This meal also happens to be incredibly delicious.

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      Ingredients:

      -Eggs

      -1 can black beans

      -1 can pinto beans

      -Fresh cilantro

      -1 can fire roasted tomatoes

      -1 onion

      -3 cloves garlic

      -Chicken broth

      -1 lb flank steak (an optional ingredient but Kyle reeeally wanted steak that night and I reeeeally wanted eggs)

      -1 red chili pepper (use any hot or sweet pepper you like)

      -Ancho chili powder

      -Salt & pepper

      -Fresh head lettuce, chopped in thin strips (washed and refrigerated with a paper towel to get it crispy)

      -Crumbled feta or cotija cheese (whatever you can find in the grocery store)

      -Olive oil

      Instructions:

      If you are using flank steak, season well with salt, pepper, ancho chili powder, garlic powder and rub into the steak with a tiny bit of oil just to moisten it before you throw it on a hot grill. Cook on the first side about 7 minutes and then flip the steak over. Take it off when it reaches your desired temperature (I like it medium) and cover it with tin foil to let it rest while you make the rest of your meal. This will help suck all the juices into the meat and will leave you with a tender and juicy steak!

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      Strain both cans of beans and add to a pot with fresh cilantro. You can add lime juice if you have limes or I added some chicken broth.

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      I wanted to make the texture a bit like refried beans even though isn’t your traditional refried bean recipe. I mashed the beans up with a spoon and then I poured the flank steak juices on the plate to add some flavor to the beans. (Usually refried beans are cooked in bacon fat)

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      Add your can of fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, pepper and onions to a pot. Season with salt & pepper and cook on medium heat.

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      Puree the mixture with your hand mixer. I left mine as more of a chunky salsa rather than puree everything together to a smooth sauce.

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      In a hot pan, heat up some vegetable oil to fry your tortillas. Cook them on both sides until they crisp up and start to brown.

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      Top the tortilla with the bean mixture and then sliced flank steak.

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      Then add your salsa.

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      Finally, fry up an egg on medium to high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over easy and place on top of your salsa.

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      Finish with shredded lettuce and feta or cotija cheese.

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      Baked Chicken Egg Rolls

      I love coming up with game time food during football season. Something about the fall and watching sports on Sunday that really makes me want some delicious homemade food. I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like an egg roll and I figured it was worth trying some out to see if you can make them with out putting them in a deep fryer. Were they as good? No. But they were still crunchy on the outside and full of flavor in the middle. Plus you can use any ingredients you want–an Italian twist, an Asian twist, a Mexican twist… sky is the limit. I had limited ingredients on hand and certainly wish I had some fresh ginger to add but these were good nonetheless. Try ’em out using your favorite flavors!

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      Ingredients:

      -1 link of organic chicken sausage with casing removed or ground chicken

      -1/2 red onion

      -Fresh cilantro

      -4 Won Ton wrappers

      -Chinese cabbage, sliced thin

      -1 Red pepper, julienned

      For the Sauce:
      -Sriracha sauce to taste

      -Corn starch (optional)

      -Soy sauce

      – 1/2 TBSP honey

      -Salt & pepper

      Instructions:

      For the Sauce:
      -Combine a few tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of honey and sriracha (to taste) in a bowl. Mix well. Heat up in sauce pan or in the microwave. Add corn starch to thicken. Set aside for dipping later.

      -Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

      -Saute chicken and onions until the chicken is browned and onions are softened.

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      Cut your cabbage and red pepper in thin strips.

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      Place the chicken, cabbage and peppers towards the edge of your won ton. Dip your finger in water and wet the edges of all sides of the won ton. Roll the wrapper and fold in the sides as you continue rolling. Pinch the edges and wet again if necessary to be sure they stick together.

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      On a baking sheet, drizzle some olive or vegetable oil (I used both). Roll your egg rolls in the oil so they are covered.

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      Place in the oven to bake for roughly 15 minutes or until the egg rolls are golden brown. Dip in sauce and enjoy some football! Pretty simple, no?

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      Crispy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

      I love pumpkin seeds. And until you’ve made them at home, and have eaten them right out of a hot oven, you don’t know what you are missing. This past weekend my sister and her boyfriend were visiting and we decided to carve some pumpkins and make some delicious crispy, salty pumpkin seeds. She took the beautiful photos.  I encourage you to go buy a pumpkin and get your hands a little dirty–it’s fun and it will bring you back to your childhood! Disclaimer: my pumpkin seed making skills far surpass our pumpkin carving skills–or maybe I should say “my” skills so not to offend my sister and her boyfriend. 🙂  My pumpkin is bottom right.

      pumkins and seeds finished

      Ingredients:

      1. Seeds from a pumpkin (we used 3 medium-sized pumpkins)
      2. Olive oil
      3. Kosher salt

      Directions:

      Clean your pumpkin seeds well in a strainer by running cold water through them and make sure to get all the pumpkin out of the seeds.

      Put your pumpkin seeds in a large pot of salted water on the stove. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 5-10 minutes. This method makes the outer shell crisper when you roast them. It will also speed up the cooking process so you don’t just burn then while they are in the oven.

      seeds boiling

      Strain the seeds and dry with a towel. They don’t have to be totally dry but do the best job you can. They will stick to the towel a bit but you can easily shake them off.

      seeds out of oven

      Lay them flat on baking sheets so they don’t overlap each other. Coat in some olive oil (don’t drench them) and finish with kosher salt.

      Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Watch them and taste them every few minutes. Just because the outer shell isn’t browned, it doesn’t mean you aren’t burning the inside seed.

      pumkin seeds

      EAT! These are delicious, crunchy and salty. I think they taste a lot like popcorn and they are very good for you! Pair with a nice fire, a movie and some beer. Enjoy!

      Oh- and display your pumpkins proudly!

      pumpkins

      Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

      Finding delicious new appetizers to bring to a summer BBQ is always a fun challenge for me. It’s a risk trying something new, especially when bringing it to a large group of people but if you just have confidence in your ingredients it will turn out great! I’ve seen a lot of Jalapeno Popper recipes on Pinterest lately but they are typically stuffed with some mixture of cream cheese and jack cheese and wrapped with bacon and sometimes fried. Not exactly healthy and not that exciting (to me) in terms of ingredients. I love jalapenos so I started thinking how I could put my twist on this recipe. I substituted using all that cheese with avocado and I bought an all natural chorizo made by Whole Foods meat department. I used fresh herbs, quality cheese and cooked them on the grill; great flavor with out all the fat.

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      Ingredients:

      -2 Fresh Chorizo sausage links from Whole Foods (you could substitute with other kinds of ground beef or pork but make sure you season it well with things like chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper cumin, etc.)

      -2 garlic cloves

      -12 to 15 jalapeno peppers (Make sure you pick out larger and fatter jalapenos so you can fit a lot of stuffing in them)

      -1/2 of a ripe avocado

      -1-2 tbsp whipped cream cheese with chives (of course you can use any kind but I had this in my fridge)

      -Manchego cheese, freshly grated

      -Fresh chopped cilantro

      -Fresh chopped chives

      -Juice from half of one lime

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      Instructions:

      -Cut your jalapenos in half and take out the seeds and membranes. If you have some jalapenos on the skinny side, cut off 1/3 of it so you have a big enough pepper to stuff.

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      -Cut the casings off the chorizo and place in a medium hot pan with fresh chopped garlic.

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      -Combine the cream cheese, avocado, fresh herbs and lime juice in a bowl. Add salt & pepper. When the chorizo cools, add it to the bowl and mix well.

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      -Using a spoon, stuff each pepper and top with a sprinkle of manchego cheese. Press down the cheese into the stuffing so it sticks to the mixture and doesn’t fall off. I stuffed them in advance and covered with tinfoil for a few hours until they were ready for the grill.

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      -Get the grill nice and hot and put the flames on a medium level. Place the jalapenos directly on the grill and cook until the cheese melts. It’s a good idea to warn your guests that sometimes jalapenos are mild and sometimes they are spicy–it’s hard to know which one you will get.

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      -Pop one in your mouth! Enjoy!

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      Baked Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stack

      I was somewhat complaining earlier today because all I had in my fridge for dinner was an eggplant and I didn’t feel like going to the store. I ended my night however with a meal that Kyle said was in my top 5 of all time. (Woo hoo!) I was able to pick some tomatoes right out of my aunt’s neighbor’s garden and somehow I came up with a healthy, heavenly, fresh summer dinner.

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      Ingredients:

      • 1 Eggplant
      • 2 ripe tomatoes
      • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
      • Fresh basil
      • 1 egg
      • 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
      • Fresh chopped parsley (optional)
      • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
      • Whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
      • Balsamic glaze
      • Olive oil spray
      • Salt  & pepper

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      Instructions:

      Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

      Cut your eggplant into thick slices.

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      Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add your breadcrumb mixture to another shallow bowl. Add fresh chopped garlic and parsley if you have it on hand- if you are using seasoned italian breadcrumbs it’s not necessary.  I also added some salt and pepper.  Then add oil to the breadcrumb mixture to wet it a bit. Since we aren’t frying the eggplant, wetting the breadcrumbs will help them crisp up in the  oven.

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      Place each slice of eggplant in the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Coat it well. Then place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and sprayed with oil so they don’t stick.

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      After about 15 minutes turn the oven to broil so the breadcrumbs start to brown. Then turn the eggplant over and do the same to the other side. Spray with more oil if necessary.

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      Slice your tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices.

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      I placed some fresh arugula on the plate (an optional step). Then layer the eggplant, tomato, mozzarella and drizzle some balsamic glaze. Repeat steps until the stack can’t grow anymore.

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      Dig in with a knife and fork. It may get messy but don’t let that stop you.

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      Portabella Pizza

      Want to eat pizza without all the carbs? Instead of using dough, buy some large portabella mushroom caps. They can hold a lot of toppings, they cook well in the toaster oven (or on the grill) and they pair wonderfully with all the traditional pizza ingredients. Tonight’s mushroom pizza was one of my favorites so I thought I would share it. Plus, Kyle loved it, and when he loves something healthy I know I’ve done it right. You can make any kind of pizza toppings and cheeses you can imagine.  While I was making the topping for this pizza I also reserved half to put over whole wheat pasta for lunch the next day. So this recipe can make 4 portabellas or, 2 portabellas and a lunch portion of pasta.

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      Ingredients:

      -4 large portabella mushrooms

      -2 spicy Italian chicken sausages from whole foods

      -2 garlic cloves

      -1 fresh tomato, diced

      -About 1 cup of tomato sauce (you can just use a can of diced tomatoes instead of the combination of fresh and sauce but I didn’t have any)

      -1/4 or so of red wine

      -Fresh chopped basil

      -Mozzarella

      -Parmesan cheese

      Directions:

      Saute your red onions in olive oil in a hot pan until they start to caramelize. Cut your chicken sausage out of the casing and add to the pan. Let it brown on all sides. Using a potato masher will help grind the chicken up in to small pieces. Then add garlic. Let the mixture cook until the sausage is browned and mostly cooked.

      Add the red wine and let reduce. Using your spoon, scrape the grits off the bottom of the plan. They have tons of flavor.

      Get your toaster oven heating up to about 350 on bake.

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      Add the fresh tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce. Let simmer for a few minutes. You want it to be a thicker sauce so it holds well in the mushroom. If it is too thin, add some tomato paste.  I used half of the mixture in the photo below to fill two large mushrooms, and saved the other half for pasta the next day. If you choose this option, add a bit more tomato sauce to the pan so the noodles have liquid to soak up. I recommend cooking the pasta now, adding it to the sauce and then putting it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

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      Place your mushrooms on tinfoil and using a spoon scrape out the insides so they are easy to fill. Add the mixture.

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      Top with your favorite cheeses! I sprinkled some parmesan, some shredded low fat mozz and I diced up some fresh mozz I had on hand. 20130805-201413.jpg

      Cook in the oven until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. The mushrooms will release some liquid which is normal. Use a spatula to take the mushroom off the tinfoil and plate.

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      Top with fresh basil and enjoy!!

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      Get out your fork and knife and dig in! 🙂20130805-201554.jpg

      Turn Zucchini Into Linguine

      I bought a new kitchen toy! And I am REALLY excited about it. For $35 you can make pasta out of vegetables, too! This is a great way to eat pasta guilt-free and perhaps for the Moms out there, a great way to hide vegetables from your kids! And if you are gluten free this is a great substitute for pasta–certainly more nutritious AND tasty !

      The machine I bought is made of plastic–this isn’t a high quality piece of kitchen machinery. If I’m being 100% honest, it was not the easiest to clean (according to Kyle). I’m sure you can buy a nice stainless steel one for a few hundred bucks. But this one does the job and the results were perfect. I highly recommend it! I can’t wait to try more vegetables and use all the different blades provided! Of course, more reviews and recipes will come 🙂

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      So for starters, you are going to have to buy one of these. 

      It’s really quite simple. I started by making a quick meat sauce. I have plenty of different pasta sauce recipes you could use for this. A pesto would even go really well!  Something to learn from my experience: we are used to making pasta and having the noodles soak up a lot of the liquid in our sauce. The vegetable will not do this, therefore I recommend making a thicker sauce than you might otherwise.

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      Wash your zucchini and cut off the ends.

      Insert the zucchini as shown and turn the handle. As you are turning the handle you will have to continually push the handle in so the zucchini stays locked into position. It’s not hard work. I used 4 zucchini, it took me about 10 minutes and it made dinner for two and leftovers for 2.

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      As you are turning the handle, the zucchini will come out the side. I actually used kitchen scissors to cut some of the long strands or you would be twirling your fork for hours!

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      Then I boiled it in salted water. I also added a dash of oil just in case the veggies wanted to stick together. I cooked it for maybe 3 or 4 minutes and then put in a strainer just as you would pasta.

      20130725-095930.jpgThen I put the cooked zucchini in the sauce pan and incorporated.

      I topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese, of course!

      Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes!!

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      Ancho Chicken Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Crema

      It’s taco night!! Kyle and I LOVE tacos. We have multiple restaurants nearby that serve fantastic tacos: Bodega in Darien, Molcajetes and Tacos Mexico in Norwalk and in Hartford, my coworkers and I love (almost) weekly trips to the Lucky Taco truck parked on Bushnell Park. Tacos are versatile, incredibly flavorful and the best part, are really not bad for you. (Okay, well if you stuff it with fried fish and lots of cheese, that’s another story).

      I’ve made countless kinds of tacos: shrimp, steak, black bean & veggie…I could go on. But this week I was looking for a high protein and low-fat taco to compliment the T25 workout program Kyle and I are doing. So I used a skin less and boneless white meat chicken breast, red cabbage and an avocado crema topping.

      I had to leave the house for a meeting before Kyle got home. I left the tacos out for him to eat and he texted me to say, “I ate 3, is that really bad??” I responded “Haha no; I also had 3”. And his response was “I feel like I was really bad…” meaning no way eating 3 tacos was a healthy choice! So, this proves to you they are delicious and don’t compromise on flavor. Now, let me prove to you that they are good for you.

      For 3 of these tacos you are looking at roughly 450 calories, good fat from the avocado and a fresh vegetable. And you will be full. Kyle may have went on to eat 4 but who’s counting, and he’s allowed more calories. Dig in and enjoy 🙂

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      Ingredients:

      • 2 boneless and skin less chicken breasts
      • 2 jalapenos (add one more if you like it hot!)
      • Fresh cilantro (maybe 1 cup? – just eyeball it people!)
      • 2 limes
      • 1 avocado
      • 1 garlic clove
      • 1 tbsp reduced fat sour cream (optional ingredient)
      • 1/3 of a head of red cabbage
      • 2 tbsp red or white vinegar
      • Salt & Pepper
      • 1 tbsp or so of ancho chili powder
      • 1/2 tbsp lawrys seasoning
      • White corn tacos

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      Avocado Crema:

      Cut the jalapenos in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds and stems.

      Place jalapenos, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.

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      Cabbage:

      Slice the red cabbage into coleslaw-style strips. Add vinegar and salt and mix.

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      Ancho Chicken:

      I marinated my chicken overnight with ancho chili powder, lawry’s, pepper and a bit of extra virgin olive oil just to moisten the ingredients. If you use lawry’s you do not need to add more salt. The overnight marinade is an optional step. If you don’t have time, simply season the chicken before you cook it.

      Sear the chicken on both sides of a hot pan to get a nice crust. Then add chicken broth or a squeeze of lime juice, place a lid over the pan and let cook on low heat.

      When the chicken is close to being finished, remove from the pan and dice in tiny pieces on your cutting board. Then place back in the pan to be sure everything is cooked through.

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      Build your tacos with each of the ingredients and enjoy them guilt-free!

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      Chicken Sausage, Veggies and Tomato Sauce Over Whole Wheat Pasta

      What to do when you are craving pasta but you’re trying to be good? Instead of having the pasta as the feature of your meal, use a portion more equivalent to a side. I had some Whole Foods Italian chicken sausage in my fridge and all I could think about was putting it over a large bowl of pasta and covered in parmesan cheese. With this recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too. I satisfied my craving by using lots of protein and fresh vegetables and didn’t overdo it on the carbs and fat.

      This recipe yields 3 servings: Dinner for Kyle and I and lunch for me the next day!

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      Ingredients:

      • 2 links Whole Foods Italian Chicken Sausage
      • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
      • 1 red bell pepper
      • 1 sweet onion
      • 1 clove of garlic
      • Handful of spinach
      • Fresh chopped basil
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Tomato Sauce (I used Jerry’s because it’s the only jarred sauce I will buy, it’s simply amazing! You can use your own sauce, or some canned diced tomatoes.)
      • 3 slices, fresh mozzarella

      Instructions:

      Put a pot of boiling water on, salt it and add your pasta. When your pasta is done, portion it out into the bowls and put a spoonful of sauce on each one so the sauce sticks to the pasta.

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      You can choose to saute all of your ingredients in a pan, or grill all of your ingredients. Out of personal preference, I grilled the sausage and peppers and sautéed the onions and garlic in a pan.

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      This is not a necessary step but I am funny about sausage. I like it to have a nice crunchy outside so I sliced it up and threw it on a pan to crisp up the edges.

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      Do not dice your veggies into small pieces as you might normally would, instead cut them into larger bite sized pieces so they don’t get lost in the pasta. Remember, veggies and protein are the feature of this dish!

      Now add your veggies to the pasta.

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      Then add an even number of sausage pieces into each bowl. Finally, add some spinach to each bowl–as much as you’d like.

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      Add a few more spoonfuls of tomato sauce to each bowl.

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      Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Since all the ingredients are already warm, put the bowls under the broiler until the cheese turns golden brown and bubbly.

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      I cooked two and put the third in the fridge to save for lunch tomorrow. When they come out, top with some fresh chopped basil and enjoy!

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      Cod Fish & White Bean Cakes

      I want to say up front that the thought of a “fish cake” is really unappealing to me. But don’t let the name of this recipe prevent you from trying it.

      We bought some fresh cod at Whole Foods and wanted to make something different than your typical pan-seared fish with lemon and capers. While fried fish and chips or fried fish cakes are delicious, they really aren’t something we should eat on a regular basis. I searched Pinterest for cod fish recipes and countless photos of golden brown, deep-fried fish appeared. The photos of these cod cakes, despite the fact that their name irks me, caught my attention. By substituting white beans for the potatoes and a pan sear instead of a deep fry, we cut a lot of fat and carbs from this dish–but we didn’t lose out on flavor. This recipe is a perfect compliment to a summer night and a glass of wine!

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      Ingredients:

      • 1 lb fresh Cod
      • 1/2 can white cannelini beans
      • 1/2 red onion
      • 1/2 sweet onion
      • 2-3 stalks of celery
      • 1-2 cloves of garlic
      • 1 egg
      • 1/2 jar sweet pimiento peppers
      • 2 TBSP whole wheat panko bread crumbs
      • 2 TBSP Italian bread crumbs
      • 1 egg
      • Fresh chopped parsley
      • 2 dashes hot sauce (I used Franks)
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Oil to spray on pan (I use a mixture of 75% canola and 25% olive oil)

      Instructions:

      Put your fish in a pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Put the lid on and cook at a low boil for roughly 5 minutes so the fish turns white. You don’t want to over cook it, just steam it so you don’t have to sear your cakes until the fish cooks through.

       

      Chop your ingredients.

      Cod

      Saute in a pan for 2-3 minutes. (Don’t forget to salt them!)

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      Set them aside to cool.

      Place your beans and parsley in a food processor to give them a rough chop. You want them to have somewhat of a pasty texture so it holds the mixture together (remember we are substituting for potato).

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      Place all of your cooled ingredients in a mixing bowl (fish, beans and vegetables) with the breadcrumbs.

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      In a separate bowl, mix the egg with the hot sauce and add to your fish mixture. It’s okay if you leave a little egg in the bottom of the bowl. (I used that later to brush on the cakes before cooking.) Mix gently so not to break the fish up too much. You want to see healthy-sized chunks of fish in there! (Or at least I do).

      Form the mixture into patties and place in the refrigerator to let them rest. I suppose you could cook them right away but they may fall apart on you.

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      I opted to brush the cakes with leftover egg and hot sauce mixture and sprinkled some extra bread crumbs just to form a nice crust on the outside.

      Sear on both sides until you get a nice brown crust. Mine did fall apart a little, I think due to the fact that I didn’t purĂ©e the bean mixture well enough.

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      Last minute I realized I wanted a dipping sauce of some kind. I took some reduced fat sour cream and threw in some franks red hot sauce and added some cut up chives. It ended up pairing great but whatever sauce you want to use is fine! A tartar sauce would work great, too. Enjoy.

      Basil and Pistachio Nut Pesto Grilled Chicken

      With the arrival of warm weather, the grills start firing up. Walking around my condo complex I can smell the different meats and marinades-it makes my mouth water! The grill is great for healthy eating and it gives flavor to your proteins and veggies that cannot be substituted on the stove.

      While Kyle was out golfing last weekend and the sun was shining, I decided to surprise him with a healthy lunch. My basil plant was overgrown but I didn’t have the traditional pesto ingredients. After looking around my kitchen I came up with a substitute that did the trick.

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      INGREDIENTS:

      • 2 chicken breasts
      • 1 onion cut in 4 thick slices
      • 2 cups fresh basil
      • 10 or so pistachio nuts
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Red Pepper Flakes
      • Juice from 1/2 of 1 lemon
      • Olive oil
      • 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese (or more if you’d like)

      pesto

      Place all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

      Brush the pesto on the chicken and onions and place on the grill (just a thin layer).

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      When your chicken and veggies are done, immediately smother them in pesto so it really takes on the flavor.
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      Serve with a fork and knife.

      Caramelized Onion Turkey Burger

      For a long time the idea of a turkey burger, for lack of a better phrase, grossed me out. I can’t explain it, but it just didn’t sound appetizing. Maybe because for years my father has repeatedly told us the ONLY bad meal my mother ever made in 30 years of marriage was turkey meatloaf. It ingrained in me the belief that turkey belonged on the Thanksgiving table with mashed potatoes and gravy– and that’s it.

      However, given my desire to eat a little healthier and my passion to explore new foods and make my own recipes, I gave it a try. I went to the local market where I could get fresh ground organic white meat turkey (so I could be sure what was in there) and gave it a shot. I knew it needed to be packed with flavor in order to even try to compare it to a beef burger, so what better than caramelized onions and Italian seasonings?? All in all, I thought these “burgers” were delicious and would make them again–definitely on a grill this summer and try different variations.

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      INGREDIENTS:

      For the burger:

      • 1/2 lb ground white meat turkey
      • 1/2 lb ground dark meat turkey (optional but adds flavor and juiciness)
      • Fresh chopped parsley
      • 3/4 of a cup (ish) of caramelized onions (2 onions raw… I know, I’m bad at keeping track of how much I use. It’s the Italian in me… go with the flow)
      • 2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Mozzarella cheese (if you have something with more flavor like fontina or gouda that would also work well)
      • 2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
      • Red pepper flakes, to taste

      For the rest:

      • 1 garlic naan or whole wheat pita
      • Arugula
      • Tzatziki sauce (I made it from scratch the first time and while it was good, it wasn’t perfect. So after I perfect it, I will post it)

      You can also throw this burger on a traditional bun and it would be great!

      INSTRUCTIONS:

      • Caramelized onions can be made at any time and kept in the fridge for sweet and savory additions to meals throughout the week. Simply slice your onions thin, and place in a hot pan with olive oil. Cook on medium to high so they brown (be careful not to burn!). The longer you cook them, the better. About 20-30 minutes should do it. For this recipe I would dice them into smaller pieces so they work in the burger.
      • Add your turkey, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, parmesan, red pepper flakes and onions in a bowl and mix to incorporate. Make 4 even sized patties.
      • Place your cheese on top of 2 of the patties and then put the remaining 2 on top to make 2 larger burgers.

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      • It was winter so I was working inside instead of on the grill but either cooking method will work. Put your pan on medium/high and spray with oil. Place the burgers on the pan and brown on each side (roughly 5 minutes each). I then turned the heat down and put a cover over the burgers to ensure they cooked through.

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      • Place your burger on a bed of arugula and top with tzatziki sauce! Dig in and enjoy.

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      Spinach Stuffed Filet of Sole

      This is a very straightforward dish inspired by Italian flavors and made for the fish lover. It’s very easy to make and you can adapt the stuffing ingredients to whatever your heart desires! It’s also very healthy and satisfying.

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      INGREDIENTS

      • 4 pieces filet of sole
      • Fresh spinach
      • 1 shallot
      • 3 cloves garlic
      • 1-2 tbsp of whole wheat bread crumbs (optional)
      • olive oil for sauteing
      • Red pepper flakes
      • Salt & pepper
      • Tomato sauce (2 or so cups of your favorite!)
      • Fresh basil

      INSTRUCTIONS

      • Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
      • Heat up a pan with olive oil and add red pepper flakes to infuse the oil. Add onions and then garlic until translucent (3-5 minutes).
      • Saute the spinach and add the onion mixture and breadcrumbs. Cook for about 3 minutes and then set aside to cool.

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      • Lay your fish flat and season with salt and pepper. Divide your spinach stuffing into 4 parts (for the 4 pieces of fish) and spoon the mixture on the end of your fish.

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      • Gently roll the fish and place in the baking dish.

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      Add your tomato sauce (enough to just cover the fish) and sprinkle with fresh basil.

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      • Cover your pan with tin foil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

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      Spicy Italian Baked Zucchini Chips

      I often am looking for a salty and crunchy snack in the afternoon or after dinner late night. Sweets don’t do it for me: I need the salt. Given that zucchini is a vegetable and you are baking them (rather than frying) this recipe is a smart alternative to the typical fried potato chip or goldfish (my personal favorite). You can modify these any way you’d like but I opted for a thicker slice so it would be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and I added lots of red pepper flakes for a real kick.  This recipe is a hefty snack for 2 people, double it if you are making for a group. It’s also great to make as an appetizer.  As per usual, I didn’t measure when I created this recipe so go with your gut when proportioning out the various ingredients in the bread crumb mixture. Enjoy!

      Zucchini Chips

      Zucchini Chips

      Ingredients:

      • 1 zucchini, washed and sliced roughly 1/4 thick
      • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
      • 1 or so tbsp fresh chopped parsley
      • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
      • 3/4 cup whole wheat panko break crumbs (or whatever kind you have/prefer)
      • hefty sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
      • 2 tbsp non fat plain Greek yogurt
      • 1 egg white
      • salt & pepper
      • Olive oil

      breadcrumbs

      Instructions:

      • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
      • Brush a layer of olive oil or vegetable oil to a cookie sheet
      • Combine egg white and yogurt in a shallow bowl and combine well
      • Combine bread crumbs, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, cheese, garlic, parsley in a shallow bowl
      • Coat your zucchini slices in the yogurt mixture and then transfer to bread crumbs

      yogurt

      • Place the slices on your cookie sheet. Using your misto, spray the slices with olive oil to dampen the bread crumbs.

      Ready for oven

      • Bake at 400 until golden brown (about 20 minutes)
      • Serve with your favorite sauce

      Italian Baked Zucchini Chips