Apr 232011
 
It’s that time of year again–Eastover.  When Easter and Passover overlap, and when you’re a “Cashew” like me,  it can lead to a week of interesting meals.  It started with a Seder with friends on Tuesday in which we made Matz’mores for dessert (those are matzoh s’mores in case you were wondering), and now to honor my other half, I had to try making something that’s always been at the Eastover table in my family.  Deviled Eggs.  The original version is not so good for you, but I made a healthier version that’s just as tasty.  
You still start out the same way…with perfectly hard boiled eggs.  
Then you peel the eggs, cut in half, and reserve half of the yolks (toss the other half…we’re making a healified version here).  Mix those yolks with some hummus, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and cayenne pepper for a kick.  
Top with a sprinkle of paprika, fresh ground black pepper, and some parsley, and you have a really healthy, high protein snack or Eastover app.  
Nutritional Highlights:  My nutrition teacher has told us time and time again that the whole egg is the “perfect protein”, providing ALL the amino acids we need in one little egg.  A lot of people are hesitant to eat the yolk because of the “cholesterol”, and that’s why in this recipe, and most that use eggs, I kept half of the yolk to keep the health benefits but cut back on the added fat.  Then, instead of mayo to make the filling creamy, I used hummus, which adds nice garlicy flavor without all the fat of mayo.  Basically, there’s nothing devilish about these eggs at all (except for the cayenne kick) so listen to the angel on your shoulder and make this version.  


(Not so Devilish) Deviled Eggs with Hummus
Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs 
  • 1/2 cup prepared hummus
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (this is optional but I think the mustard flavor is important if you want a traditional deviled egg flavor)
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Paprika, fresh or dried parsley, and ground black pepper for sprinkling on top
Instructions
1.  Hard boil your eggs.  Cover eggs with cold water in a pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn off heat and move pot to cool burner and let sit for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, transfer you eggs to an ice bath and let cool in the fridge for about an hour.  
2.  Peel your eggs, cut in half, and remove the yolks.  Put half the yolk in a bowl, and discard the other half.  Mix egg yolks with hummus, lemon juice, mustard, and cayenne pepper.  Taste and season with additional lemon juice, salt, pepper, or cayenne if needed.  
3.  Fill you egg whites with the mixture (I did it by filling a ziplock bag and cutting off the corner).  Sprinkle top with paprika, parsley, and ground black pepper.

Variations:  If you’re really terrified of those yolks, you can simply fill egg whites with hummus for an even lower fat version.  You can also top with toasted sesame seeds for a little twist and crunch.  Enjoy!!




Apr 192011
 




As some of you may remember from my gloating “I’m in paradise” post, I was in Cabo a few weeks ago.  I came back on a sunshine high…completely relaxed, perfectly browned, and emitting happiness.  Now, it rains every day, my skin’s dry and peely, and the stress of work and school have wiped away any residual joy.  I had to get back to my happy place, and in Cabo, I ate tortilla soup just about every day, so I wiped up a pot and crossed my fingers for teleportation.  Well, the soup tasted really good at least…





Tortilla soup is super healthy.  It’s a brothy tomato base, flavored with garlic, onion, and peppers, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and lime.  The one thing that makes it not so good, at least in Cabo, was the mountain of fried tortilla strips garnishing the soup.  I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I baked my strips instead, and they were AMAZING…just as good as fried, really.  



But, the real fun of tortilla soup still lies in the garnishes, so fresh avocado slices, cilantro, cojita cheese, and BAKED tortilla strips were necessary additions to this amazing soup.   








Nutritional highlights:  This soup has it all…chicken for protein, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats (avocado and a littttttle cheese), and a little spice to kick start your metabolism.  It’s really versitile according to your preferences too.  Mine had added black beans and corn, but you could leave them out for a more traditional take.  It’s a meal in a bowl and it may be why people in mexico are all pretty thin.  Either that or the 90 degree heat.  


Chicken Tortilla Soup


INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I keep some seeds in because I love the heat)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups low sodium chicken stock 
2 tablespoon tomato paste (I didn’t have this, so I used a few extra chopped tomatoes)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles)
Cooked chicken, shredded (I bought a rotissere chicken to make it really simple)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one fresh lime
Optional additions to make it a one pot meal: 1 can black beans, 1 cup frozen corn
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4″ strips (stale are best)
1 cup Cotija, Chihuahua, Feta, or Monterrey cheese (I used feta)
1 avocado, sliced or cut into chunks about 1″ square


PREPARATION
For the soup:  Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.

Add chicken stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice. Now here you have a choice.  If you want your soup to be uniform consistency, blend the ingredients so far and return to the pot.  You can also leave it chunky, or blend half of it which is what I did.  Add chicken, black beans, and corn.  Taste your broth and try to decide if it needs a little extra flavor–season with salt, add more lime juice or cilantro, whatever your inner Cocinera tells you.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the tortilla strips:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, spread tortilla strips in a single layer on sheet and spray again. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Bake 8-10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned (keep watching and shaking the pan until they’re really crisp). 

Prepare your condiments plate: Grated cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, sliced avocado, and maybe some chopped red onion.  

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and add all the toppings.  And enjoy a really brief trip to mexico!








Apr 122011
 

 In case you didn’t know, March was National Nutrition Month!  I guess I’m a little late spreading the word, but better late than never, right? In honor of this important holiday, the hospital I work at had a healthy cooking demo with the head chef Pnina Peled(who’s been on Chopped a few times!) and a R.D. (registered dietitian for those of you that don’t know…and what I’m currently in school to become) about creative ways to prepare veggies.  This was one of the recipes she prepared, and it was so simple, colorful, and tasty that I had to give it a try.

You’re going to be shocked when I tell you how few ingredients go into this–cauliflower florettes, chickpeas (optional), curry powder, olive oil, and salt (and I added some cayenne pepper for added heat).    This is a perfect snack or side dish…so curry up and make it (hahahah, get it? curry up?).  


Nutritional Highlights:  The key point of the cooking demo was that just because it’s a vegetable, you can’t assume it’s healthy.  Do you like to cover your vegetables in butter, oil, or cheese?  Well you’re kind of missing the point there.  BUT,  did you know that the WAY you cook the vegetables influences their nutrient content.  For example, because many vitamins are water soluble, when you boil vegetables, all those nutrients seep out into the cooking liquid.  Also, cooking your vegetables too long reduces the nutrient content.  Therefore, the nutritionist suggested roasting as a way to preserve the integrity of your veggies.  Add a little bit of oil and lots of spices, like in this recipe which utilizes an incredibly heathy cruciferous vegetable.  So I guess we missed National Nutrition Month, but maybe we should try celebrating all year round??


Curry Roasted Cauliflower


Ingredients
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets


1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I used cayenne pepper for more heat)
1 tablespoon curry powder ( or to taste)

Optional–One can drained chickpeas (as dry as possible)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 450.  In a bowl, toss the cauliflower pieces with oil and seasonings and spread on to foiled baking sheet.  Roast for about 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. It’s done when the cauliflower is just tender and browned, and the chickpeas are slightly crisp.  Enjoy as a snack, side dish, or in a salad.  


Apr 042011
 
I have to admit, I’m guilty of overcomplicated-recipe


 making.  Recipes that require you to go out and buy random, expensive ingredients like bulgar, forbidden rice, or tahini to name a few.  Sometimes you just want something basic, versatile, quick, and cheap.  Well, if you have some chicken breasts and a well stocked spice rack then you’re all set for this recipe.  I know, crazy.  
The flavorful blackening mixture is paprika, thyme, cumin, oregano, garlic powder (or fresh garlic), onion powders, salt, black and cayenne pepper.  Or you can buy a prefab blackening spice mix–I don’t judge.  




Rub that mixture all over your chicken breasts and spray a very hot grill with olive oil spray.  That’s literally all the fat added to this chicken.  Not bad.


And let it grill.  Try not to move your chicken breasts until they’re ready to be flipped for maximum grill linage.


You can also create this fancy criss-cross design if you want to be really fancy.  


Now that you have perfect spicy blackened chicken, you can do almost anything with it!  I made a salad with some mango and avocado slices.  You could also use it in sandwiches, wraps, or just eat it straight up with some veggies or rice.  When you start with something really simple, you can be creative with how to use it.  


Nutritional highlights:  I know I’ve been putting up a lot of vegetarian recipes lately, but I think lean protein like organic chicken breasts are great in moderation.  This chicken has a spice rub rather than a marinade so you cut out a ton of fat that would usually be in your marinade.  I can’t promise it’s true, but I’ve read that spicy food helps speed up the metabolism and help you burn more calories.  Also, remember that a serving of meat is 3 oz (about the size of a deck of cards) so just because an 8 oz chicken breast looks like “1” item, you aren’t required to eat it all at once :)


Blackened Chicken Breasts


Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, dried thyme, cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper depending on how much hot you can handle
Directions

Mix all your spices together and coat your chicken breasts with the mixture (just so you have a light coating, you don’t have to use it all).  Heat a grill pan on high.  Spray with olive oil or cooking spray and put chicken breasts on at a diagonal.  After about 2-3 minutes, turn chicken (not flip) to the opposite diagonal to create the X pattern on my chicken and let sit another 2-3 minutes.  Spray the top of the chicken breasts and flip.  Repeat on the other side until chicken has had about 10 minutes of cooking time.  Time varies based on the size of your chicken–you know it’s done when you press the thickest portion and it feels pretty solid (or you can cut into it).  

Enjoy your versatile chicken in salads, sandwiches, or any other way you can think to use um!