Apr 302013
 

My weekend was spent celebrating the bachelorette party and bridal shower of one of my best friends in the world (and also a blogger celeb…see ericasweettooth.com and be amazed).  Here is what I learned about bachelorette parties.  They are great for: bonding with friends, seeing how many party accessories come in inappropriate shapes, and discovering an amazing array of photos on your phone the next day.  They are NOT great for: my liver and my ability to fit into that bridesmaid dress in a month.  Oops.  After a weekend of sustaining pretty much on bagels, candy, and adult beverages, my body was pretty much crying for some produce.  So, I made this super health (and also delicious) Green Monster Smoothie.  


I promise it looks a lot greener than it tastes.  Does that make sense?  Well, it does to me.  It really just tastes like a regular fruit smoothie but has extra health benefits from the greens.  Smoothies are great because they are so versatile and easy to make.  This one has almond milk, banana, green apple, kale and spinach, and frozen fruit (I used mango and strawberries but anything will work). 


Nutritional highlights:  This smoothie is a great way to get an extra serving of veggies into your day and really not taste it at all.  It is a perfect breakfast or snack and is great for vegans and gluten-free-ers.  The greens add vitamins like A, K, folate, iron, calcium, and also a good dose of fiber.  


Green Monster Smoothie
adapted from Table for Two

makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:

– 1.5 cups frozen fruit (I used strawberries and mango but you can use any you like)
– 1/2 green apple, cut into pieces
– 1 banana, broken into pieces
– 1 1/2 cup almond milk
– 1 to 2 large handfuls of spinach, kale, or other dark greens
 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Throw everything in the blender and blend until a smooth consistency. If it gets stuck, turn it off, and use a spatula to break it up and start it again.
Apr 202013
 

Spring has sprung, and so has my annual spring cold (womp womp).  Apparently “spring fever” isn’t just a phrase?  Instead of enjoying the blossoming flowers and frolicking in the sunshine, I’ve been laying in bed coughing my brains out.  But today it was so great out that I loaded up on cough syrup and took a walk to the farmers market and grabbed some amazing spring produce for a spring minestrone.  


My favorite of these ingredients is this–green garlic.  So gorgeous and so much garlicy flavor.  In addition to the garlic, this soup has asparagus, peas, artichoke hearts, purple potatoes, carrots, swiss chard, green onions, and chickpeas.  You can honestly use any combo of veggies you want, that’s what I like so much about minestrone.  The soup came together in less than an hour, and was so fresh and flavorful. 

Nutritional:  I may have potentially discovered the cure for the common cold with this one.  It’s so packed with nutrients that you body will be all like “bring it on cold, I got this”.  This recipe (before I added the pesto crostini) is also gluten free and vegan.        


Spring Minestrone 
adapted from Simply Recipes
(Serves 4-6)

Feel free to add or remove any vegetables per your preferences!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 green onions
  • 3 green garlic stalks, or 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 pound baby potatoes, or Yukon gold potatoes cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound artichoke hearts (fresh or frozen), chopped roughly
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups greens (dandelion, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, etc), sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Optional garnishes:  grated parmesan cheese and pesto (or make whole wheat pesto crostini like I did, general instructions below)

METHOD

1 Chop the green onions and green garlic and separate the white and light green parts from the green tops. If you are using regular garlic cloves, put them with the white parts of the green onions. Slice the potatoes and artichoke hearts into chunks you would want to eat with a spoon.
2 In a large pot set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onions as well as the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  Add the carrots, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  
3 Add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and the quart of vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
4 Add the artichoke hearts and cook another 5 minutes, then add the chickpeas and green peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the cover from the soup and add the asparagus. Cook 2 minutes. Add the greens, basil, and the green parts from the green onions and green garlic, if using. Stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.
5 Turn off the heat and serve topped with grated cheese (and along side pesto crostini!).
 
For the pesto crostini, preheat oven to 400.  Bake whole grain baguette slices for about 10 minutes until crispy, turning once.  Spread each piece with pesto and sprinkle with parmesan (and red pepper flakes if you want).  Switch oven to broil and return to the oven for 2 minutes so parmesan melts.  Serve along with the soup.  
 
Happy Spring!



Apr 142013
 

I made an very important realization this week.  It is unlikely that I will make it through any day without eating chocolate.  It was hard for me to admit this, because in theory I think I should have all this will power  and be able to resist the cravings, but in fact I cannot.  So instead of letting the craving take on the form of a massive candy bar, I decided to make something that would satisfy without quite so much guilt afterward.  These are the perfect pre-workout/run snack and really do taste a lot like cookie dough!


These were super fast to make because they require zero cooking.  Plus, they only require 5 ingredients (7 if you add nuts and salt like I did- 2 crucial cookie ingredients in my mind) which is a nice change from all the foods we eat that have 20 un-pronounceable ingredients.  


Nutritional Highlights:  These have absolutely no added sugar, and get all their sweetness from the dark chocolate and the dates.  They also have tons of fiber from the oats and chia seeds (so they will keep you full) and walnuts for some healthy omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, they are gluten free and vegan, so they work for just about anyone! These are a great healthy snack or dessert.  


No-Bake Oatmeal Chia Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls (Vegan and Gluten-free)
the original recipe said is makes 15, but I ended up with 9 (oops, sorry I’m not sorry).

adapted from Tasty Yummies

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 6 dates – soak if they are very dry)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups gluten-free rolled oats (you can use regular rolled oats if you aren’t gluten intolerant)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 – 2 tablespoons water (you could need more, you could need less, just go by how your dough feels)
1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1/8 teaspoon of salt
Directions:
Add the medjool dates and vanilla to a food processor or high powered blender (like a Vitamix). Process until a thick paste forms, you may want to add some water here if it is too dry. You will also want to take a spatula and scrape down the edges. Add in 1 cup of the rolled oats and the chia seeds, process until the oats are no longer whole and it all comes together into a thick dough. Again, add water if it is super dry (just don’t add too much water). Add in the remaining 1/4 cup of oats, chopped walnuts, and the chocolate chips and pulse just a few times to bring it all together. Take a small amount of the dough into your hands to make sure it will roll and stay together. If the dough is crumbling a bit, add more water, if it is too goopy and wet, add more oats.
Taking 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time, roll the dough, in the palm of your hands, into about 15 balls. Set on a plate and place it into the fridge for about 15 minutes to all them to chill.  Then enjoy!

 

Apr 072013
 

Whenever I look at recipe websites, the top searches are always for chicken recipes.  Chicken breasts are healthy, relatively inexpensive, and very versatile, but I’m just gonna come out there and say it…they can also be pretty LAME.  Sure, plain grilled chicken is healthy, but it gets boring fast, so I try to mix up my chicken recipes as much as possible.  I love chicken piccata at italian restaurants, but it can be really unhealthy and is often breaded and fried in a thick sauce.  This version isn’t breaded at all, and is sauteed quickly with a light sauce of lemon, capers, white wine, and garlic.  Very simple and quick but very tasty.  

 
The key to making this an especially quick meal is to pound your chicken breasts out very thin or cut them in half lengthwise.  I didn’t do a great job with this because I got a little lazy with my pounding, but when I make this again I’ll be sure to do it!  The process is really easy…just brown the chicken, set aside, and make the sauce quickly in the same pan. You can serve this with almost any sides you like, but I made whole wheat pasta with artichokes hearts, spinach,   red onion and fresh tomatoes to go with the mediterranean theme of the meal.  
 
Nutritional Highlights:  Although I don’t eat a ton of meat these days, when I do it’s usually chicken. Chicken breasts (try to get organic if you can) are incredibly lean and high in protein.  If you serve this recipe with a whole grain and a vegetable (like my veggie pasta here) you have a perfectly balance meal!
 
Chicken Piccata
adapted from Closet Kitchen

Ingredients
  • – 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
  • – salt and pepper to taste
  • – 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • – 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • – 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • – 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • – 1 lemon, juice and 1 lemon, sliced
  • – 1 teaspoon honey
  • – 2 tablespoons capers
  • – 1 tablespoon butter
  • – salt and pepper to taste
  • – 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side and set aside.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the wine to the pan and deglaze it.
  5. Add the broth, lemon juice, honey and capers in the pan and simmer until the liquids have reduce by half, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper, mix in the parsley, return chicken to pan and toss to coat.  Top with thin lemon slices and additional chopped parsley and serve.  
Enjoy!