Monday, April 27, 2015

Mediterranean Haddock

Many of my clients tell me that they often order fish when dining out but hardly cook it for themselves. For many, cooking fish is an intimidating feat. I used to be the same way, but I have found it to be one of the easier and quickier proteins to prepare. My #1 tip for cooking fish is to be sure not to overcook it! Overcooked fish is dry and unpalateable. Baked in tin foil packets the clean-up couldn't be easier! Since its still cold in Vermont I am baking fish, but fish on the grill (in packets) is super tasty! This recipe features garlic, kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil for a flavorful dish that is packed with healthy fats! Serve with your choice of vegetables and a whole grain rice if desired.

Go Sustainable!
Look for sustainable fish varieties. Fish should be fresh and shouldn't have a strong "fishy" odor. In general look for wild caught varieties instead of farm-raised. I highly recommend checking out http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ or thier app (The Seafood Watch) to learn more about sustainable seafood!

The benefits of fish in the diet is well studied and accepted. Not only is it a great source of lean protein, but it contributes healthy omega 3 fatty acids to the diet. The typical American diet is often low in omega 3 fatty acids and higher in the less healthier omega 6 fats (not a good combo)! Increasing the amount of omega 3s in your diet is beneficial in decreasing inflammation and may decrease your risk for heart disease and dementia. If you are trying to increase the fish in your diet aim for 1-2 times per week.

Mediterranean Haddock
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen haddock
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup drained capers
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix the garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Place the fish on a large piece of tinfoil and drizzle olive/lemon mixture over the top. Spread the remaining ingredients on top of the fish and fold the tin foil into a packet.
4. Cook for ~20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
5. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms


When craving a hearty comfort food casserole think beyond the can of cream of mushroom soup. This dish pairs meaty mushrooms with juicy chicken breast, and a light and creamy sauce. Making your own sauce is easy, tastes better, and eliminates the preservatives and much of the sodium. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain egg noodles and extra veggies and dinner is ready!

Did you know that mushrooms are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D? Content varies on the type of mushroom with wild varieties conatining more than portabella or white mushrooms. Don't be fooled by mushrooms bland color, they are also packed with B vitamins, copper, and selenium and are often touted for their benefits in immune support, thanks to their phytonutrient profile. Cooking Tip: Mushrooms absorb water quickly and is best not to rinse or soak mushrooms. Simply wipe them down with a damp towel before use.



Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms
Makes 6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast (trimmed and cut into tender-sized pieces)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 pound (16 oz) of fresh baby bella mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup half and half or evaporated milk
Directions:
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dedge both sides in flour. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan (or better yet, if you one, a have a Dutch oven). Once the oil is hot add chicken and sauté until golden. You will need to work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Set aside on a plate if using a Dutch oven or place in a 9x13 casserole dish otherwise.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Add remaining olive oil, mushrooms and onions and sauté 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Set aside on plate or casserole dish.
  4. Melt the butter in the same pan, whisk in the 2 Tbsp flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, and half and half and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the chicken and the mushroom mixture to the Dutch oven (or pour the mixture into the casserole dish). Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Serve over your preference of starch (I went with a brown/wild rice mix, but could be potato or whole wheat egg noodles as well). Pair with your favorite vegetable.
Nutrition Facts: 4 oz chicken w/ mushrooms and sauce
380 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 16 g carbohydrates, 36 g protein, 300 mg sodium

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Southwestern Chicken Soup


It has been a heat wave in Vermont over the past 2 days, a whopping 50 degrees! Even though the weather is warming I am still making up batches of soup. I love that I can cook on Sunday and have lunches for the week with little prep, perfect for those busy days. When I get sick of eating it I just freeze the rest into individual portions. This southwestern chicken soup packed with vegetables, beans, and plenty of flavor. Because it is packed with chicken and beans it can be a meal on its own. I made the stock from scratch, but low sodium chicken broth would work as well. Short on time? Use leftover chicken or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

I have listed some optional toppings at the end of the ingredients list that I think would be great
accompainments. Certainly you don’t need to pick all of them, but they can make the soup a little extra special. I like it with a pinch of cheese, avocado, and tsp of sour cream!

Southwestern Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 fresh jalepenos, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
1 pound cooked chicken breast and/or dark meat, diced or shredded
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn

Toppings: (optional)
Low fat shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)
Diced red onion
Sour cream
Diced avocado
Cilantro
Tortilla Strips

Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion, celery, carrots, jalapeños and red pepper and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low-medium heat for 45 minutes. Serve hot.
Nutrition Facts:
1 1/3 cups: 175 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 20 g protein, 341 mg sodium

Monday, February 2, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Salad


As many of you may know, I LOVE buffalo sauce. I put it on eggs, sandwiches, salads and pretty much everything else in between. Sadly, I had never made a buffalo chicken pasta salad. Boy, was I missing out! This dish has a little bit of crunch (thanks to the carrots and celery) and is perfect for a lighter meal during these winter months. It will stand apart from the more traditional pasta salads at the next party or dinner table. The spiciness can be adjusted based on your taste preferences. Best of all it is quick and easy to make and can be made the day before. If you are super short on time you can use a rotisserie chicken instead of grilling or baking your own. 

Most pasta salads are laden with mayonnaise or dressings and end up being a high fat choice. I lightened this one up by using a small amount of light mayo and some olive oil, and relying mostly on buffalo sauce for the flavor. Sprinkling blue cheese crumbles on top gives it a lot of flavor without adding a heavy blue cheese dressing. Using whole wheat or high fiber white pasta gives this dish the fiber power to keep you feeling full.

 
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound whole wheat pasta (some favorites: elbows, penne, spirals)
½ cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup canola or light mayonnaise
1 cup diced carrots
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cups cooked and diced chicken breast
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta as directed. Drain and run under cold water.
  2. Mix in a small bowl: the hot sauce, garlic and onion powder, olive oil, and light mayonnaise and set aside.
  3. Combine the pasta, carrots, celery and chicken in a large bowl. Pour hot sauce mixture over the top and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle blue cheese on top and chill for at least 20 minutes. Serve cold.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (~1 cup)

260 calories, 8 g total fat (2 g saturated), 31 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 17 g protein, 450 mg sodium

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Moroccan Tagine

Over the holidays I had some homemade Lebanese food that was to die for. The combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors was well balanced and extremely healthy. I realized that even though I love most spices and foods, that I really haven’t tried many classic dishes from around the world and that was something I wanted to change.

The first on my list was to make a Moroccan dish. Tagine is a popular dish, so I decided to give it a shot. Traditionally this dish is slowly cooked over coals and is served as a stew with meats, vegetables, olives, and dried fruits with a wonderfully rich and spicy sauce. I made a large batch for a company party and I was surprised how easy and delicious it was. I will definitely be making this again!

 

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Makes 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 pounds beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated

Garlic Couscous

  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides of the meat (you may need to do in a few batches), about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, carrot, and garlic to pan. Cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add spices; stir 1 minute. Add broth, olives, raisins, garbanzo beans, and half of the cilantro; bring to boil. Simmer until juices thicken, about 5 minutes. Add beef and any accumulated juices and lemon peel to pan. Stir to warm through and serve.
  4. Cook couscous as directed (bring 2 cups water to a boil with olive oil then turn off heat add couscous and give a quick stir, cover and let sit 5-10 minutes). Add garlic powder, salt/pepper and fluff with fork before serving. 
  5. Top couscous with beef stew mixture and sprinkle with remaining cilantro

 

Nutrition Facts: ¾ cup couscous with 1 1/3 cups stew

540 calories, 21 g fat (3 g saturated), 56 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 32 g protein, 640 mg sodium

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