Aug 302015

Summer produce is at it’s absolute best right now. I think you would have to actually try hard to make something bad when you’re working with such great produce. This meal was the result of a trip to the farmers market, a random assortment of veggies that ended up in my kitchen, and then magically turned into something incredibly tasty. Not only were the zucchini/squash noodles, tomatoes, and corn insanely fresh, I would also happily bathe in this avocado pesto. It was actually shocking there was any left after all of the taste testing, I mean “quality control” I was doing while I made it.
I was looking for an excuse to use my awesome new spiralizer and vitamix (I swear I didn’t get married just for the appliances…) and making veggie noodles and a sauce seemed like the perfect option. This sauce is sort of a mix, or should I say beautiful union, between pesto and guacamole, made with garlic, basil, lemon juice, jalapeno, and avocado. You could call it pestamole. Or maybe guacapesto. Whatever you call it, it was the perfect topping for raw summer squash noodles and plenty of fresh toppings.
Nutrition Highlights: Summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash) make the perfect low cal low carb base (only about 20 cal per cup) for a veggie noodle bowl. No problem if you don’t have a fancy spiralizer, you can just use a vegetable peeler or box grater for a similar effect with a little more elbow grease. The sauce, which is vegan and gluten free, has healthy fat from avocado and vitamin/mineral packed basil (especially vitamin K which helps keep the blood clot properly). You can top this summer bowl with any thing you like, but I kept this version vegetarian, adding some leftover grilled corn for healthy carbs, chickpeas for fiber/protein, spicy sunflower seeds for protein/fat, and some heirloom tomatoes. Because it’s August and there should be heirloom tomatoes in EVERYTHING. You could top this bowl with some grilled chicken or shrimp, grated parmesan, or any other vegetables you have. The possibilities are endless!
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Summer “Noodle” Bowls with Spicy Avocado Pesto
makes 3-4 servings
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For the avocado pesto:
1 ripe avocado
Juice from 1-2 lemons
2 small or 1 large garlic clove
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water (more as needed to thin sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the noodle bowls:
3-4 summer squash (yellow squash or zucchini work well)
Toppings that I used: toasted sunflower seeds, chickpeas, heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn
Other topping ideas: grilled portobello mushrooms/eggplant/peppers, grilled shrimp or chicken, fresh mozzarella or shave parmesan, quinoa or farro, the list is endless!

How to make it:
1. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until smooth. Add additional water as needed to thin the sauce slightly. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add extra lemon or garlic if it needs an extra punch!
2. Prepare your “noodles” by using your spiralizer or box grater to noodleize (yes, that’s the techinical term) the squash.
3. Prepare your toppings. I toasted my sunflower seeds in a small frying pan with a spray of olive oil, sprinkle of chili powder, and salt to add a little extra pizzaz but already toasted/salted seeds are fine too! This is the perfect “clean out your fridge dish”, so top the bowl with any leftovers you have. Grilled corn and tomatoes are a great sweet compliment to the spicy, herbal, smooth pesto.
4. Toss the noodles in the sauce and top with rows of toppings. Enjoy this bowl of summa goodness while it’s hot (outside, not in the bowl).
I mean does it get any better than that?

Aug 052015

What’s this? A chicken recipe on tush cook? They’re pretty hard to come by around here, and that’s because I had been generally steering away from meat the past few years. But, I’ve been feeling a little low energy lately (which is NOT ok when you have just started your dietetic internship, which involves frantically running around all day seeing patients and trying not to screw up) so I thought I’d try out reincorporating small amounts a few times a week. When an AWESOME friend gifted me a week of meals with “Plated”, I thought that’d be a perfect opportunity to try it. And I have to say that this recipe reminded me that chicken can be pretty yummy. Also, cheese.
First of all, these new programs that deliver ingredients and recipes to cook your own meals are pretty awesome. I know I’m in the minority in that I LOVE going to the grocery store (I am aware I have a problem) and coming up with recipes, but for people who don’t (ie, everyone else), these programs are a great way to get off your tush, add a little variety to your diet, and give your seamless account a break. This recipe for example gave me, a pretty frequent cook, a chance to use an ingredient I hadn’t before–baby artichokes. This recipe is simple but full of flavor, and perfect for any week night or even with guests.
Nutrition highlights: Although I’m loving the meatless trends lately, I’m even more so a proponent of listening to your body and including everything in moderation. If you’re really feeling like a burger, maybe your body is telling you that you need a little extra protein/iron. Or maybe you’re just passing shake shack and you smell it and it’s all over, but that’s another story. At the same time, portion control is key, and one portion of meat is only 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) so for this recipe I had half of the chicken breast and loaded up on veggies. If you’re looking for something different from your typical chicken recipes, this is a great one, and can be served over any combination of sautéed veggies you like (if the artichokes aren’t your trying).
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Fontina-Basil Stuffed Chicken with Baby Artichokes, Cherry Tomatoes & Spinach
Serves 2, adapted from “Plated”
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What’s in it:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons vinegar (white win or red wine vinegar work well)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4-6 baby artichokes (if you don’t want to have to clean/prep them, just buy frozen or canned artichoke hearts)
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

How to make it:
1. Start by preparing the chicken. Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise (cutting almost all the way through but not quite to create a pocket). In a large bag, combine the mined garlic, oregano/rosemary, wine, and vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. If using the baby artichokes, prepare them by cutting off the top third of the leafy portion and discarding. Then remove and toss about 3 layers of the tough outer leaves until you reach the more tender lighter green leaves. Peel the stems of the artichokes using a veggie peeler. Quarter the artichokes and scoop out the furry choke from the center. I know, it’s a lot of work but they’re super yummy! Save about 10 minutes by buying artichoke hearts frozen or in the can (although it’s not quite the same).
3. Remove chicken from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Open the chicken breasts and stuff with the fontina and half of the chopped basil. Close the chicken breasts.
4. To cook the chicken, heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and once hot, add the chicken, cooking for about 6 minutes until one side is browned. Flip the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for another 6 minutes. Check if the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using very thick breasts and they need more time, cook for another 2-3 minutes per side until done. Set chicken aside and cover with foil or a pan lid to keep warm.
5. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan over medium-high and add the baby artichokes. Cook for 3-4 minutes without moving, then stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Add the cherrry tomatoes and spinach and cook for 1 minute until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are warmed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
6. Serve chicken over the sauteed veggies and enjoy. Bonus points if you stick to a 3 oz portion of chicken (probably about half of those monstrous breasts you get these days!