Apr 052010
 

The weather in New York over the the past few days has been unreal. Layout on the roof, frolic through central park, smile for no reason kind of weather. And when the weather starts to change, I find myself craving fresh, springy food. So tonight, even though I knew I was going to be eating solo, I decided to make a delicious, light and fresh salmon packet.


This recipe is super easy and can be made for just one or for a dinner party of 10. I started by marinading the salmon in a simple white wine, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper mixture.

I topped the salmon with some fresh thyme sprigs which add a great lemony freshness. Basil would work great in this recipe too if you don’t have thyme. But try to get some thyme…you won’t regret it.

After about 15 minutes of salmon soaking and oven preheating, I assembled my packets. Place the piece of salmon in the center of a piece of foil. Pour over sauce, sprinkle with thyme, and top with 2 thin lemon slices. I threw in some fresh cherry tomatoes because I had them but it would be just as tasty tomato-free.

Roll up the tin-foil so it makes a packet where those delicious wine, lemon, thyme and garlic flavors can mingle while they cook. I cooked it for 15 minutes with the packet closed and 5 open at the end (I like my salmon cooked through completely so subtract a few minutes if you like it more rare). I like to serve them right in the foil packets because it looks rustic and fresh.

Nutritional highlights: You all have probably heard that salmon is one of the best sources of “omega-3 fatty acids”, but why is that so important?? Our bodies don’t produce omega-3’s on their own so we must get them from food. Omega-3’s have been said to reduce risk of heart disease and some cancers, lower triglycerides, and help prevent high blood pressure and strokes. Basically it’s a superfood and you should eat it. Out of a tin foil packet. Because it’s delicious and really easy.

Lemon White Wine Salmon Packets

Ingredients:

2- 6 oz salmon filets
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 thin slices fresh lemon
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
10 cherry tomatoes (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400
1. Season salmon with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Pour over white wine and lemon juice. Sprinkle on garlic and leaves from 2 of the thyme sprigs. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
3. Assemble your packets. Lay out a piece of tin foil per piece of fish. Place fish in the center and pour excess marinade over. Lay 2 lemon slices on the salmon and top with 2 thyme sprigs each. Garnish with cherry tomatoes if desired.
4. Wrap up your packets and bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on doneness preference). Open packets and cook for 5 more minutes or until fish flakes to your liking.
5. Simply remove from oven and serve!
Apr 032010
 

You probably looked at the title of this post and thought, can carrot cake really be healthy? Well, to be completely honest, no. BUTTT this version is definitely a major improvement from your run of the mill carrot cake. It’s impossible and ridiculous to forbid yourself from eating any delicious Easter or Passover (or both if you’re me) treats. So why not healthify the treats we love so we can indulge with a little less guilt?

Since I, sadly, won’t be able to go home to Chicago to celebrate “Eastover” with my family this year, I’ll be celebrating straight up Easter with my boyfriend’s family (a close second). And obviously I can’t show up empty handed!!! I found this healified carrot cake recipe and though it would be perfectly festive (think Easter->Easter bunny->Rabbits->Rabbits eating carrots->carrot cake!).


I made them in a mini muffin tin because 1) everyone prefers mini things, and 2) inherent portion control.
I decided to put nuts in only half of the batch. And I decorated accordingly…the cupcakes with the chopped walnut birds nest complete with m&m egg have nuts, and the plain carrot ones are nut free.


Nutritional highlights: Carrot cake, as is, has nutritional benefits that other sweets lack. Sneaking carrots, nuts, and fruit into a delicious cake is a great way to get an extra serving of veggies to your kids (or boyfriends/husbands). This version also cuts back on the amount of refined flour and sugar that are often found in the cake. By using apple sauce in place of some of the oil, and whole wheat flour instead of the all purpose stuff, we’re decreasing the calories and increasing the nutritional value. And the delicious cream cheese frosting…um…I guess it’s a good source of calcium?? :)

At this point I’ve had 3 official taste testers who had no clue these were “healthy-ish”. Mission accomplished.



Carrot Cake Cupcakes

adapted from Ellie Kreiger, Food Network

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (i used sweetened cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups finely shredded carrots (for me that was 3 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 8 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 mini muffin cups or 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the first 6 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fill half the muffin liners if you’re doing half nuts/half no nuts like I did. Then stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts to the remaining batter.

Fill the rest of the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 12 minutes for mini and 20 for full sized. Let cool.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Decorate and enjoy!!!

Mar 292010
 
There’s something so craveable about Chinese take-out. Who doesn’t love eating out of little white cardboard boxes? But with Chinese food, as with many other delicious delivery jems, ignorance is bliss. Well, get ready to be brought into the light. One egg roll packs about 20 grams of fat, an order or orange chicken has 1,500 calories (3/4 of your daily recommended calorie intake, and even tofu with mixed vegetables, a seemingly healthy choice, can have 900 calories and over 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

This recipe satisfies my craving for Asian flavors without the guilt. The key is in the sauce, which is where most of those calories in the takeout are hiding. This sauce is sweet, spicy, and salty but also very light.

First step is to mix all the ingredients for the sauce: Soy, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, orange juice, and red pepper flakes for a kick.

Then you can chop up whatever fresh veggies you like OR you can just use one of those pre-fab bags of frozen stir fry veggies. Little known fun fact: frozen veggies have been shown to be just as healthy as fresh…maybe even more so because they are frozen at the peak of their ripeness which is when they are most nutrient packed. (But I just think fresh are tastier).

Heat your wok or large frying pan over high heat. The key is to let the pan get hot before adding anything. Add a tablespoon of oil (canola is my go to for this…NOT olive). Saute the meat until just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces. I cut up 2 chicken breasts into pieces but you can also buy already cut pieces in most supermarkets if you’re tight on time or raw-meat-aphobic (like a former roommate of mine). Set the chicken pieces aside and add another bit of oil and begin to sauté the vegetables.

Once the vegetables are starting to get tender but still crisp, add the chicken back in and pour in the sauce. Continue to sauté for a few more minutes while the sauce thickens slightly.

It’s as easy as that! I like to serve with some brown rice and edamame and sprinkle with sesame seeds for a little flair.

Nutritional Highlights: Stir frying uses very little oil to quickly sear the food but still allows for plenty of flavor. Most stir fry you make at home will have mostly veggies and lean protein so you can’t really go wrong. If you want to use a store bought sauce, try to pick a low sodium option and the one that you understand the most words in the ingredients list.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts cut into pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed or tropicana-esque are fine)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
Fresh chopped veggies or frozen stir fry vegetables


Directions:


1. Mix soy, vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and orange juice
2. Cut chicken into strips and season with salt and pepper. Heat wok or frying pan over high heat.
3. Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir fry the chicken for about 5 minutes, until just cooked through.
4. Set aside chicken. Heat second tablespoon of oil in wok and add vegetables. Cook about 5 minutes, or until veggies are just getting tender.
5. Add chicken back into wok and pour sauce in. Stir fry for about 3 more minutes.
6. Serve over brown rice and enjoy!