Category Archives: Healthy

Easy chicken, rice & veggie casserole

For a day when you want to spend minimal time cooking, but want something hot, filling and delicious. It takes only minutes to prepare, then you just stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while. It is also extremely versatile, since you can use any mixture of frozen or fresh veggies.

Ingredients:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced in 1in cubes
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup jasmine rice (or any kind)
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup salsa
~1/4 cup shredded cheese

Step 1: Dice chicken (and veggies if using fresh, make about 2-3 cups worth).
Step 2: In a greased 9×9 casserole dish, add all ingredients and mix well. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 90 mintues or 400 for 1 hour. Rice & chicken should be fully cooked. If crunchy or chicken is still pink, bake 20 minutes longer.

Super simple, and delicious. I used a mix that included beans, so I’m sure the protein & fiber was a bit higher, but so were the calories. But it’s worth it for 2 tasty dinners plus lunch the next day!
As always, to make it vegetarian don’t use chicken, and for vegan use veggie stock instead of milk and omit the cheese.

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 3
  • Amount Per Serving: ~1 cup
  • Calories: 280.2
  • Total Fat: 5.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 57.8 mg
  • Sodium: 544.4 mg
  • Total Carbs: 31.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
  • Protein: 27.1 g

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2253930

Spinach & feta egg white omelet

I had some egg whites still left from my coconut cream pie the other day, so I decided to take an extra 10 minutes and make a hearty breakfast. I had spinach and green onions which I had recently bought, and some feta still in the fridge, so that left itself perfectly to my egg white omelette. And I calculated it on Sparkpeople.com, the whole thing is just barely over 100 calories!
Ingredients:
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 handful spinach, cut or torn (~1/4 cup)
1 green onion, diced
1 tbsp feta

 Step 1: Heat a skillet and spray with oil. Add the egg whites, torn spinach, onion and feta on top. Heat until you can see the egg bubbling and a spatula lifts the edge completely.

 Step 2: If you’re brave or talented, you can simply flip the omelet by tossing the skillet. However, I used 2 spatulas on either side to lift and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until egg is full cooked and beginning to brown.

 The feta delivers nice little pockets of salty cheesiness, the green onion is still slightly crunchy and flavorful and the spinach is perfectly wilted. Enjoy with your favorite breakfast beverage. As always, substitute whatever veggies and/or cheese you prefer.

Crock Pot Indian Yellow Chicken Curry

Over the weekend we went to an Indian restaurant downtown and the food was absolutely excellent! This inspired me to try my hand at Indian cooking, because it is generally healthy and uses spices which are great for you. The spices were by far the biggest investment, but I can use them many many times, so the cost per use is not too bad. As long as you’re willing to invest in good spices and cook Indian food several times, it is worth it! The original recipe I found here, and there are tons of great Crock Pot recipes if you’re pressed for time during the day and looking for ideas. I of course altered it to fit what I had, and the results were pretty darn good. This makes about 5 servings of curry, and 2 of rice. But I would recommend making fresh rice when you eat the leftover curry anyways.
Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
SAUCE
2 tbsp cream of coconut (I was supposed to use 1 can of coconut milk. Couldn’t find it at King Sooper, so I figured cream of coconut would be the same. False, it is thick like syrup and WAY sweet! So I omitted the sugar from the original recipe, and added a lot less of this, hoping the coconut flavor would still be there.)
1 cup skim milk  (Since I didn’t have enough liquid from the lack of coconut milk.)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small can tomato sauce
SPICES
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cumin (mine was not ground)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red Thai spice (for a bit of a kick. Can use Tabasco or omit for no ‘bite’)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
VEGGIES
1/2 can garbanzo beans
1/2 vidalia onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, diced small
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 cup rice (basmati or jasmine is best)
1 1/2 cup water to boil rice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

 Step 1: Whisk the tomato sauce, milk, sour cream, and coconut. Add all your spices and set Crock Pot to heat up.

 Step 2: Dice up all your veggies, chicken, garlic, etc.

 Step 3: Add the chicken and mix to coat with sauce. Add the veggies on top. You could choose not to mix them in, they will steam as the Crock Pot cooks.

 Step 4: Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low 7-8. Mix once or twice. It smells divine after an hour or 2!

 Step 5: Cook rice according to directions. Add in chopped cilantro when finished, fluff with a fork.

Step 6: Serve curry over rice, and enjoy! The chicken is so tender and flavorful, the potatoes and chickpeas add a nutty, soft texture, and the green beans are cooked perfectly. You could certainly omit the chicken and maybe add extra veggies like eggplant or mushrooms to make this a hearty vegetarian dish. I will definitely make this again, especially since I have all the spices now. I will remember to get coconut milk next time though!

Creative leftovers: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

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The best recipes in my opinion are the ones that either get eaten the first time around, or lead to easy leftover combinations. I hate to see food go to waste, and unfortunately when you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people that can happen quite often.
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You make something that tastes great the first time, and the second time, but by days 3 and up you are sick of it. So it sits in the back of the fridge, hidden by water bottles and fresher produce until you clean out your fridge tri-monthly and get grossed out by the mold and bacteria on it.
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Therefore I try to cook things which easily lend themselves to meal makovers to dress up the leftovers and make it feel like a whole new meal. So I took some macaroni & cheese I’d made earlier, leftover chicken, and bruchetta topping (since the bread was now mush) and mixed it up for a super-easy, quick & healthy lunch.
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Less wasted food = more money in your pocket = win-win.
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Ingredients:
2 diced roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion, diced small
3-4 oz cooked chicken breast (or meat of choice, or no meat if you prefer)
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. You can sprinkle with extra cheese, or add any kind of cooked veggies you like. Enjoy!

 

Easy side dish: Oven-Roasted Vegetables

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This is seriously one of the best side dishes ever! You can use literally any vegetable you have on hand, it takes only a few minutes, and it is super healthy AND tasty. I could eat oven-roasted veggies with every meal and not get tired of it.
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Ingredients:
1 baking potato, diced
1/2 onion, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
Nature’s Seasoning
Garlic salt
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Step 1: Dice up your veggies. This is the only work you have to do.
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Step 2: Coat your veggies in olive oil, put into an oven-safe pan.
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Step 3: Sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
You could use any kind of potato here, add broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, bok choi, kale, mushrooms, eggplant, the list goes on and on. Enjoy!


 

Supercharged Double Turkey BLT

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I had some turkey lunchmeat that needed used, plus 1/2 an avocado, salad makings, and turkey bacon. I had wanted to make a BLT, but now I knew that I could make it super-extra delicious!
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Ingredients:
2 oz turkey meat
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 slice cheese
1/2 tomato
Handful torn romaine
3 slices turkey bacon
1/4 avocado
4 slices cucumber

Step 1: Cook the turkey bacon, turning once.

Step 2: While cooking, pile on the meat, cheese, tomato slices. On the other piece of bread, add the greens, cucumber, avocado chunks and lettuce.

Step 3: Add the cooked bacon. Very carefully, flip the pieces of bread together. Excellent combinations of flavors, lots of fiber and vitamins from the veggies! As always, just omit the turkey for a vegetarian lunch option.

Healthy & hearty turkey bacon breakfast sandwich

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This week Meijer had a sale on turkey bacon for $1.99 and whole wheat english muffins for $1. These are 2 of my favorite things, because they make an amazing breakfast sandwich in about the time it would take you to drive through somewhere, and much cheaper. Plus it tastes amazing!
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Ingredients:
1 english muffin (preferably 100% whole wheat)
1 egg
2 slices turkey bacon
1 slice cheese
Ketchup (if you like it, I do)
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Step 1: Slice the turkey bacon in half. Fry the 4 pieces about 4 minutes, turning once. They should be slightly browned on both sides.

Step 2: Cook the egg. If you like the yolk runny, flip it and take it off heat sooner. I like my yolk cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Step 3: Layer the hot egg, cheese, and bacon onto the muffin, top with a squirt of ketchup and the top of muffin, enjoy!

 You can of course use other breakfast meats like a sausage patty or ham. Or get rid of the meat and use avocado, hummus, tomato, or other veggies for a vegetarian/vegan option.
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 1
  • Calories: 317.7
  • Total Fat: 15.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 214.7 mg
  • Sodium: 770.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 27.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 18.7 g

Kale chips really are good!

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I am working on a CSA farm this summer, and we have begun harvesting and distribution. This week the take-home was:
  • 1 bag mixed lettuces.
  • 1 bag kale.
  • 1 carton snow peas.
  • 1 bunch radishes.
  • 1 bunch turnips.
  • 1 bunch pak choi.
  • Handful broccoli .
  • Herbs – spearmint, pineapple mint, oregano, thyme, farrow
I have been hearing so many people and blogs talk about how kale is bitter and hard to cook, but kale chips seem to be wildly popular. And they are amazingly easy to make! Then when searching recipes for turnips, I kept “turning up” (haha) mashed potatoes and turnips recipes. The pak choi lends itself well to stir-frying, add in some extra veggies and you’ve got yourself a meal! So my good (brave) friend and I embarked upon a cooking adventure to use up most of the farm food.
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Mashed Potatoes & Turnips:
2 large potatoes, diced
3-4 turnips, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter/margerine
1/4 cup cream cheese or sour cream
Garlic powder
Step 1: Thoroughly wash veggies. Dice potatoes and turnips into small pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster they cook.
Step 2: Put the potatoes and turnips into a pot and cover with water. Get to a rolling boil, then boil for 20 minutes or until soft.
Step 3: When soft, drain and place in a large bowl. Break big chunks with a fork.
Step 4: Add wet ingredients, and blend well. Add as much garlic as you like!
The turnips have a soft taste to compliment the starchy potatoes, and of course you can experiment with other milk products and butter and spices or salt. But honestly, after you get used to the first few bites, mashed vegetables au natural tastes like nothing else! And it is delicious. We both had seconds.
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Pak Choi Stir Fry:
1 bunch pak choi
1 large carrot
~2 cups snow peas
1/2 cup broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
Step 1: Thoroughly wash all veggies. Dice the carrots and broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Put the oil into the pan and put on medium heat.
Step 2: Add veggies in order of firmness, carrots and broccoli first, then snow peas, then pak choi for the last 5 minutes. Stir and keep covered throughout.
About 10 calories per serving, mostly from the oil! You can also steam the veggies.
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Kale Chips:
1 head kale
2 tbsp olive oil
~2 tbsp sea salt
Optional seasonings – we did one batch with chili powder to spice it up
Step 1: Tear the kale leaves from the main stem, and tear into bite size pieces.
Step 2: Place in a bowl and drizzle olive oil, in small amounts. Toss until just coated.

Step 3: Lay in single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300 for ~20 minutes, tossing once. When chips are just beginning to turn brown and are crispy to the touch, they’re ready.

Crispy, healthy Kale chips!

These chips are light and airy, but totally delicious. It’s a strange sensation your first bite, but I guarantee it won’t be your last!

Dinner fresh from the farm!

Tilapia & stir fry

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So I am still in a spending hiatus where I do not spend anything. Therefore for dinner I had to take stock of my pantry, fridge and freezer, and come up with something healthy, easy and quick. In my apartment I had:
Tilapia: 5.99 for 6 fillets = $1/fillet
Wild rice: 1.29 for 1 microwave serving
Frozen stir fry veggies: $1 for 16 oz bag
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Other miscellaneous ingredients:
Red Thai curry spice = $3.50 for a bag full
Lemon juice: $1 for 12 oz. bottle
Vegetable oil: $9 for a gallon
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Step 1: In a medium frying pan, put 2 tilapia fillets straight from the freezer, with 2 tbsp. olive oil and about 4 tbsp lemon juice. Simmer on lowest heat covered for about ten minutes or until fish turns white and bottom browns.
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Step 2: Flip once, sprinkle a pinch of spice onto the bottom. Add more oil or lemon juice if needed. Simmer another 5 minutes or so to brown the top. Always keep covered and don’t burn it. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
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Step 3: Steam the rice in the microwave for 2 minutes. In the same pan, add 1 more tbsp oil and a cup of frozen veggies. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes or until veggies thaw and soften. Add in the rice, mix well. Serve 1 fillet over half the stir fried rice.
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Total: $2 (2 fish fillets) + 1.29 (rice) + 0.20 (1 cup of veggies) + ~0.10 (spices and liquids) = $3.59 for 2 servings. Not bad!

 

Meatless Mondays

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For those who haven’t heard “Meatless Mondays” is a trend, I’m not sure when it started, but basically you devote one day per week to a fully vegetarian day of meals. Typically Monday, but it can be whatever day you choose. This trend has several very strong positives:
1. Meat is more expensive than grains and vegetables, therefore eating less meat saves you money
2. Meat is more of a burden on the environment to produce. It costs much less to grow one crop of grain or vegetables versus raise a cow or pig and butcher one pound of meat. You save water, energy, and the grain that would have been fed to the cow for one meal can now be fed to you directly instead.
3. A whole food vegetable based diet is MUCH healthier overall for you. Lowers cholesterol, makes losing weight easier, decreases cardiovascular disease and hypertension, etc.

Look it up for yourself, or watch “Forks over Knives”. I’m not saying go cold turkey vegan, but adding in more fiber-filled fresh fruits and veggies plus 100% whole grains can never be a bad thing.

Mostly because of the health benefits, I’ve decided to try to incorporate one day a week as a meat-free day. No guarantees, but I have also been making a conscious effort to add in more whole foods to every day. So today I pulled off a meat-free day without even realizing it. All the recipes can also be found on my Sparkpeople account (which has some great nutrition and exercise tracking tools! I highly recommend it).

Here’s an overview:
Breakfast: 1 small slice of banana bread and a Tropical Fruit Smoothie. Mango, pineapple, banana, orange juice. Delicious and refreshing, plus it is portable. 2 minutes in the blender and I can take it with me to lab.

Lunch was a large salad consisting of a few romaine leaves and a handful of spinach tossed with 1 plum tomato, 1/2 cucumber, 2 tbsp sunflower seeds and Italian dressing. I had a side of Quinoa & Veggies

Snacks: At work I brought a baggie with 1 cup of cantaloupe and 1/2 cup of baby carrots. They also made popcorn in honor of National Libraries Week, so I had about 3 cups of popcorn.

Dinner: I had soaked white navy beans overnight and had leftover Easter ham and made myself some Ham & Bean Soup: At only ~150 calories per cup, you can have a bowl for dinner and another as a snack when you inevitably get hungry a few hours later!

The whole day covered all the major food groups, provided lots of fiber and nutrients, and was under 1500 calories, my ideal calorie range to maintain or lose weight.