Tag Archives: recipes

Better Breakfast

3 Feb

The word breakfast literally means to break one’s fast. A fast is a time of not eating. So breakfast is literally the time of day where we give our bodies the nourishment that it has not received during our slumber.

You can argue that our bodies need less energy during the night, to which I would agree. But breakfast skippers (my former self included) find themselves not eating until lunch time. Guilty as charged. On an average night, if I went to bed around 11, and ate lunch at noon, that means I was leaving my body without proper nourishment for 13 hours! And by the time I ate, I would crave sugary, fatty foods. And lots of it.

So I started eating breakfast.

I have been thinking about breakfast a lot lately, and doing a bit of Google-research. I find study after study that says eating breakfast has no effect on health or weight loss. And study after study that says it does. So where is the truth in it?

I’ll put up a big disclaimer – I am not an expert. I did not conduct a study. But I can say this:

The studies that seemed to prove that eating breakfast didn’t matter did not control WHAT the eater ate for said breakfast. For example, both studies cited in this article, “Is Breakfast Overrated?” only seemed to control whether participants ate breakfast. No information is given about what was eaten.

In contrast, articles that were proponents of breakfast talk about high protein breakfasts, or low glycemic index breakfasts, and the effects on the participants. This website provides a list of studies addressing the importance of breakfast, if you’re interested: Breakfast Studies

I used to be a poptarts kind of breakfast girl. When I got into calorie counting, I nixed those, and breakfast all together as everything I considered to be a great breakfast ended up being most of the calories I would allot myself for the day. I don’t know what you eat for breakfast, but my typical breakfasts might have been:

– Poptarts on the go

– pancakes with syrup

– scrambled eggs with muffins

– eggs over easy with toast

Carb-laden goodness with a side of butter and sugar of some sort!

A Google image search for “typical American breakfast” pulls up pictures that have eggs, bacon, pancakes (with butter and syrup), a glass of juice, and a glass of coffee.

I did a poll on Facebook to see what some of my peers were eating, and some responses included:

– green smoothies

– oatmeal with peanut butter and/or banana

– chicken

– cereal

– a ham sandwich

– toast with peanut butter and banana

– just coffee

– And the closest response to the American “classic” : two eggs, an english muffin with butter and jam, and apple juice

The Case for a Better Breakfast

I used to fall asleep in class. I used to start my day with a sugar/carb laden breakfast, then a healthy-ish lunch, and I would still feel exhausted by 2. or I would skip breakfast and have a heavy lunch. Same result. Even if I had a “healthy-ish” breakfast – for a long time greek yogurt with fresh fruit and a squirt of agave was my go-to healthy breakfast!- i still ran out of energy and felt tired through out the day.

Then I was challenged to eat protein and VEGETABLES for breakfast. Gross, right? It really was, the first week. Once I got myself out of my American way of thinking about breakfast, it really changed how I approach my meals.

This website shows Breakfast Around the World, and I was surprised to see some veggies make a cameo on the breakfast plate!

Long story short, for the last few months I have been eating breakfast daily, and I typically eat a protein and a vegetable. I have more energy, feel better, and my weight has been creeping down. Just eating a good breakfast won’t guarantee weight loss, but it is a strong way to start the day — with the right nutrients so you have energy and can crack down on those cravings!

For ideas on how to add veggies into your morning meal, you can see what two of my favorite breakfast go-to’s are, as well as peruse Buzzfeed’s 29 Ways to eat More Vegetables at Breakfast.

Breakfast 1: Slowcooked Chicken with Snow Peas and BlueBerries 

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This breakfast eases the stress of morning food prep – I throw the chicken into the slow cooker the night before, and when morning comes around, I am awoken to the delightful scent of savory chicken. Throw it on the plate with some veggies and some blueberries, and you are all set!

Any slowcooker chicken recipe will work, but one of my favorites is below. It makes plenty for multiple meals, which is also a bonus!

1 can tomatoes

2 chicken breasts, 3 thighs

1/2 onion

1 tspn garlic powder

1/2 tspn onion powder

1 tspn italian seasoning

salt and pepper to preference

Toss in the slowcooker on low over night, and VOILA! Done!

Breakfast 2: Brussels Sprouts Power Bowl

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Okay, clearly my over-easy egg needs a little help. Gordon Ramsay?  Personal Lesson?  Just kidding! (but not really!) I’ll keep trying and if I get a better picture, I’ll edit this. 🙂

This delight is a little more work intensive, but it’s worth it!

2 ounces lean ground beef (or turkey!)

1/2 cup brussels sprouts, sliced into thin rounds (that’s the irritating part, but worth it!)

1 tspn coconut oil

1/4 onion

1/2 tspn paprika

1/2 tspn oregano

1/2 tspn red chili flakes

1/2 tspn garlic salt

1 egg

pepper to taste

Saute onions and all seasonings in coconut oil until tender. Add meat, cook until nearly done. add brussels sprouts. Saute 5 minutes. While sauteeing, cook an over easy egg. Serve egg on top. The yolk will taste so rich and delightful when it oozes out all over your breakfast!

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Lightened Up Jambalaya

4 Jun

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tbspn fresh diced or pureed garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
16 ounces chicken sausage, cooked.
pepper to taste
optional: 2 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1. Cook brown rice as instructed on package, but can optionally sub out half of the water required for chicken broth to give rice extra flavor.
2. While rice cooks, sautee kale, onions, garlic, and lemon juice in a large pot until kale is soft. Reduce heat to low, and stir in canned tomatoes.
3. Slice sausage links into rounds, and sear in a hot pan until the bottom is caramelized. Flip and sear other side.
4. Add the caramelized sausage to the large pot with the kale. Gently stir in your fully cooked rice. Add paprika, cayenne, and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

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Schnitzel with Dill sauce with Honeyed Prosciutto Brussels Sprouts

28 Dec

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Last night, Jonathan and I teamed up to make what turned out to be a delicious dinner! We made a pork schnitzel with brussell sprouts and cranberry sauce. Okay, the cranberry sauce was on hand, as you can tell from the perfect can-shape pictured above (thanks, Ocean Spray!). 

For the Schnitzel, we used this recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pork_schnitzel/ but with a few alterations:

– instead of seasoned salt, we used our seasoning favorite, Tony Chacheres’ Creole seasoning

– for the dill sauce, we added chopped shiitake mushrooms. 

 

The Brussels sprouts were actually made with a recipe I got from my big sister, using the honey vinegar that she gave me for Christmas. If you don’t have an amazing honey store from which to buy honey vinegar, you can make your own by stirring in a spoon full of honey into apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. 

Sorry that this is more of a description than a recipe, but I like to cook with my heart rather than with measuring spoons sometimes!

All I did for the Brussels sprouts was:

wash them, and chop into quarters. Drizzle with walnut oil and honey vinegar and toss. Tear up 1 piece of prosciutto and toss. Place onto a lined cookie sheet and cook for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Delish!  Thanks, big sis, for the awesome gift and the awesome Brussels sprout recipe! 

Meal plan!

3 Nov

meal plan

 

 

I wanted to share my healthy meal plan, and before I go any further, I have to thank the amazing folks over at Pursuit Fitness (https://www.facebook.com/PursuitFitnessPerformance) because this meal plan comes from them.  Getting organized is all me, but the food ideas for staying healthy and energized are all theirs.

 

Anyway, that’s what my Sunday food prep looks like!  The picture shows four days worth of daytime food (food for while at work!).

Breakfast: (not pictured, served hot)

2 turkey sausage patties

1 c spinach + 1 apple juiced

 

Snack 1:

1 oz almonds, 1 oz baby carrots, 5 strawberries

 

Lunch:

Salad + oil vinegar dressing + 3 oz turkey meat

 

Snack 2:

2 stalks celery + 2 tbspn almond butter, 3 oz blackberries

 

Dinner: (served hot, not pictured)

4 oz herb rubbed chicken

salad + oil vinegar dressing

brocolli + oregano + a sprinkle of parm cheese

 

Dinner we shake up sometimes, and have other things, but basically a protein, a salad, and a cruciferous veggie.

I think I’m going to add in and try some purple sweet potatoes next week!

 

This meal plan is actually from two weeks ago. This week, instead of turkey meat at lunch, I’m going to have hard boiled eggs.  And instead of blackberries, I am going to have oranges.  And instead of almonds, I am going to have walnuts. But you get the picture! Planning my meals ahead of time makes life SO MUCH EASIER and food tastes SO MUCH BETTER!

Cilantro Lime Steak with Citrus Salad

3 Nov

I got the inspiration for this dish from here: http://www.fortheloveofcooking.net/2012/05/cilantro-lime-marinated-flank-steak.html

The steak is basically the same as in this recipe, but since my measurements were different I will still post my version below. 🙂 

and this is how it turned out: 

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Here’s how I did it: 

For the steak:

Ingredients:

2 beef chuck tender steaks (or flank steak or whatever cut of meat you prefer)

1 lime, juiced

1 serrano pepper, seeds in (you can take the seeds out to cut the heat)

1 cup fresh cilantro

2 tbspns olive oil 

salt to taste

California Seasoning (basically powdered onion and powdered garlic) to taste

1 tbspn chopped garlic 

 

Blend all of the ingredients (except for the steak). Put half of the sauce in a ziplock bag with the steak, making sure that all surfaces get coated. We let it marinade about 3 hours.  Stir in 1 tbspn of sour cream (optional) to the remaining sauce. This helps cut the heat and adds a nice tang to the sauce. 

We pan seared the steak to about a medium temperature (140 with meat thermometer) and then thin sliced. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the sliced steak. 

 

For the salad, it was just fresh baby spinach, fresh navel orange segments, and slivered almonds, tossed. I didn’t put any dressing on, but a nice oil/vinegar dressing would have gone nicely. I found that the meat had such an assertive flavor that I didn’t want to add anything to the salad, just let the citrus and spinach add bright notes to the dress. 

 

 

The Jonny Burger and the Easiest Delicious Onion Strings

1 Oct

Jonathan’s birthday was yesterday, and since we had already celebrated by camping with our dear friends and then satisfying our foodie souls in Chicago and meeting Graham Elliot (yes, there will be an entirely separate post about all of this!!)-  I decided to keep his actual (and unfortunately landed on a MONDAY) birthday pretty low key. 

But, you know, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so I created a signature burger just for my hubby’s bday. I call this masterpiece the Jonny Burger:

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The Jonny Burger is made with a groundbeef and sausage blend, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a special smokehouse seasoning. Fresh butterhead lettuce, a whole wheat bun, and thick sliced bacon, topped with barbecue sauce and homemade spicy onion strings.  Oh, and cheddar cheese. How could we have a Jonny burger without cheese??

(You could lighten up this monstrosity by using ground turkey, and baked onion straws instead of fried… but hey… for my hubby’s birthday we went all out!)

 

Now, how do you get delicious onion straws?  actually, this is a recipe that my Mom and I created when I was a kid. We had onion straws at a restaurant and were determined to create our own. This recipe is so ridiculously simple yet delicious and so satisfying. You will be enjoying your own restaurant quality onion strings in NO time. 

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Ingredients: 

1 egg

appr 1/4 c milk 

flour

Seasoning (I recommend Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)

A pot of hot oil 

A pile of thin sliced onions 

So, I will warn you, I don’t have precise measurements for this, but don’t worry, it is still super easy. 

Get an onion and thin slice a good sized pile. However many you want to make. 

Take a bowl, and pour as much flour in the bowl so you have a pile about as big as your pile of onions. Then shake on the Tony Chachere’s over the top in an even layer until you basically can’t see the flour. Stir. (You will probably have to adjust this to your own tastes, but this is how I judge how much to put. 🙂 )

In a separate  bowl, beat an egg. Add as much milk as you have egg (appr a 1 to 1 ratio, which i find is about 1/4 c). 

Put the onions in the egg/milk mixture and stir to coat. In small handfuls, grab a handful of the wet onions, shake the extra liquid off, roll them around in the flour, shake the excess flour off, and set aside. Repeat until all the onions have a fine coating of your flour mixture. 

Now, is your oil hot? If not, heat oil in a pot. Don’t know how to tell if your oil is ready? Toss one onion in as a test. if it sinks to the bottom it’s not ready. When it’s ready, your test onion will pop to the top and crackle in the oil. 

When the oil is ready, drop a small handful of onions into the oil. I always stir the onions a little bit to keep them from clumping up. 

I sort of poke the top of the onions with my spoon. At first, they will feel sort of soft. When they are ready, they will feel crunchy. Trust your intuition! 

When they feel crunchy, remove them with a slotted spoon, shaking the excess oil off, and place on a paper towel to absorb the extra grease. Continue until you’ve fried all of your onions. 

I always pat the top with another paper towel. 

That’s it. Simple. Easy peasy! It’s a lot more intuition than an actual recipe, so if it isn’t perfect the first time, adjust and try again!  Frying takes practice and confidence! You can do it! 🙂 

 

 

Homemade Bubble Tea – EASY! :)

24 Aug

Today, I had the immense pleasure of spending the day with one of my favorite people to do crafty things with – Nancy!  We decided to take on something crafty AND delicious – making homemade bubble (boba) tea!

 

We had so much fun that I felt the need to share how delightfully easy and cost effective this is! A much cheaper way to enjoy bubble tea – and Nancy and I agreed that it tasted as good as at the local bubble tea cafe.

 

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You will need:

– Boba (found at your local asian market)

– Condensed sweetened milk (or regular milk or almond milk or soy milk!)

– Tea of choice (or fruit juice or coffee!)

– Big straws (found at local asian market OR these were milkshake straws found at the local grocery store)

– Optional: brown sugar and white sugar and ginger for the sugar syrup

 

Now, as you can tell from the ingredient list, there are tons of options. The world is your oyster!

 

We tried two types of boba:

–  tapioca balls that were already precooked. These were easy and ready to use in about 10 minutes.

– dried starch balls (made from potato starch) that took over 40 minutes to get ready.

The package you buy should have some sort of instructions. The larger, colorful, precooked tapioca balls had great instructions, which we followed. The smaller, dried starch balls did not have instructions in English so we had to feel it out.

So here are the steps to making perfect Bubble tea:

Step 1:  Make a simple syrup (option)

– We boiled appr 3 c water with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar and a pinch of ginger powder. Fresh grated ginger would have been better but mine had gone bad. 😦 But it was delicious! We left the “syrup” more liquidy so the balls could roll around in it. It had a texture only slightly thicker than water.  Set aside once ready.

Step 2: Get your boba ready!!

For precooked tapioca balls: For every 1/4 cup boba, boil 2.5 cups of water. Once boiling, pour in the 1/4 cup boba.  Let boil for 5 minutes. Then empty into a colander and run cold water over the boba so they don’t stick.

For dried starch balls: For every 1/4 cup boba, boil about 8 c water. Once boiling, add boba. Boil for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Take off of heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Empty in colander and run cold water over the boba so they don’t stick.

After the boba (either type) is rinsed, pour into your pot of now-cool simple “syrup.” Let sit for about 5-15 minutes. The longer is sits, the sweeter it gets! we let our first batch sit in the sweet water while we went out and get Indian chaat for lunch!

Step 3:  Make your tea!

While the boba is sitting in the syrup, make your tea. You could already have your tea made ahead of time, or have the water boiling while everything else boils (we had three stove aisles with boiling water because we were doing tea and two types of boba at the same time!)

We used Jasmine tea, and it was delicious. For iced bubble tea, I recommend making the tea ahead of time and letting it cool down.

Step 4: Add milk, ice, and boba, and TA DA!!

We took the jasmine tea, and added sweetened condensed milk and ice and shook it in a shaker. Delish!  I wish I could tell you how much sweetened condensed milk but it’s really just up to your preference. Add a little taste, and then add more if you like!

We then spooned the boba out of the simple “syrup” and into the bottom of a glass. Then we poured the delicious milk tea into the cup over the boba.

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After drinking this yummy treat, we decided we needed to experiment. Since I am obsessed with tea, we had a ton of flavors to choose from. We decided to make a watermelon mint tea from Teavana.

bubblegumbobaI’m not sure if you can tell in this picture, but the tea and the boba are PINK! too cute. It actually tasted a lot like bubblegum -which I liked but Miss Nancy did NOT. 🙂

 

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All in all, it was a great way to spend a day with a friend, and now we might have a new snack time obsession!!