Tag Archives: kalamata olives

Mediterranean Chicken

Have you tried “diets” claiming to help you lose that last ten pounds just in time for summer, or a social event, or because you’re worth it? Have you taken diet pills, done crazy exercises, or eaten just one type of food (I’m looking at you, cabbage diet and grapefruit juice cleanse) for a set amount of time in the hopes of a miracle?
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Do you know what diet means? The primary definition is: “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”. I’ve always been of the view that a “Diet” is just that, the things that you eat. A diet is not meant to be a 3-day or 2-week affair just to get you into your wedding dress or bikini then quickly discarded and replaced with drive-through lines. Diets of that sort never last and never give lasting results.
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Any diet which is high in whole foods and grains is bound to improve your health. Any diet which is heavy in processed foods with added sugars, sweeteners, salt, fat, and preservatives is bound to harm your health. The most successful dieters long-term also do not focus solely on food alone, but rather on the entire lifestyle.
The Mediterranean way of life, specifically the way of life in Greece, Spain, and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, is just that. It focuses on staying active, eating whole foods that your body loves, lowering stress, increasing relationship bonds, and generally living as wholly and healthily as possible.
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If you haven’t heard yet, there is some evidence claiming the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest “fad” diet to ever come along.
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According to the Mayo Clinic website, a leading source for health information, “Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease…an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”
 

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

The diet also recognizes the importance of being physically active, and enjoying meals with family and friends. Go for a walk after dinner, play with your kids or dog in the yard. Walk to the store, the grocery, the restaurant. Take a long bike ride on the weekend. Go up and down the steps seven times to finish the laundry. Tell stories, share food, love, and laughter.

IMG_0835If you follow this diet and lifestyle, you are sure to experience a plethora of health benefits. Your internal organs and skin will thank you for all the wonderful vitamins and minerals you are eating. The antioxidants in the vegetables, healthy fats, and red wine will help keep your body and brain young. And unwanted fat will have a harder time finding a resting place on your hips or gut if you are always in motion.

This is a simple recipe you can try to work extra Mediterranean-inspired flavors into your weekly meals. Start-to-finish only takes about 30 minutes, and dinner for four can be on the table. Serve with a healthy whole grain side like quinoa, couscous, or rice, or a potato medley and fresh green salad.

Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 whole yellow onion, slivered
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato (or 1 can diced, drained)
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped olives (try kalamata and/or pimiento)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup feta cheese, seasonings to taste
Step 1: In a frying pan on medium heat,  add the sliced onion and garlic cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes. Onions should become translucent and begin to caramelize and garlic becomes fragrant.
Step 2: Add the olives, sliced, and the tomato to the pan and continue to cook vegetables another 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes release their juice.
Step 3: Remove the vegetables to a separate plate and keep warm. Season the chicken, I used sea salt and white peppercorns. Cook the chicken breasts for 10-15 minutes on both sides, ensuring there is no more pink in the center.
Step 4: Add the veggies back into the skillet, and heat everything throughout.
Serve hot as is, or over your choice of grain or with a side dish. If you like, sprinkle with a tbsp or two of feta cheese or avocado. This dish could also be made with tempeh or pressed tofu instead of the chicken for a vegetarian/vegan option.
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Mediterranean Greek Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 whole yellow onion, slivered
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato (or 1 can diced, drained)
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped olives (try kalamata and/or pimiento)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: 1/4 cup feta cheese, seasonings to taste

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan on medium heat, add the sliced onion and garlic cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes. Onions should become translucent and begin to caramelize and garlic becomes fragrant.
  2. Add the olives, sliced, and the tomato to the pan and continue to cook vegetables another 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes release their juice.
  3. Remove the vegetables to a separate plate and keep warm. Season the chicken, I used sea salt and white peppercorns. Cook the chicken breasts for 10-15 minutes on both sides, ensuring there is no more pink in the center.
  4. Add the veggies back into the skillet, and heat everything throughout.
  5. Serve hot as is, or over your choice of grain or with a side dish. If you like, sprinkle with a tbsp or two of feta cheese or avocado
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/healthy/mediterranean-chicken/

Mediterranean Stuffed Mushroom Caps

 

Mushrooms are an awesome alternative to meat, especially thick portobellos or stuffed caps. They have the same texture and flavor if cooked just right, and are endlessly adaptible to different recipes. You really can’t go wrong with stuffed mushrooms. Any combination of grains, vegetables, and/or meat will work.

These Mediterranean-inspired mushrooms happened when I noticed I had some goat cheese, kalamata &green olives, and produce I needed to use. You can use feta if you have it for the most authentic tastes. Or any other type of cheese you like. You can also sub in any other kind of olives, or omit them entirely. The choice is yous.

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Ingredients:
12 medium mushrooms (2-3 inch diameter)
2-3 oz cooked ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup cooked lentils (can omit)
1 green onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3-4 oz goat cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup kalamata/green olives, diced

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Step 1: Remove the mushroom stems, dice up, cook, and add to a bowl. Place the caps flat in a sprayed baking dish.

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Step 2: In the bowl, mix the cooked rice, lentils, and beef. It’s easiest to add the cheese while still a little warm so it gets melty. Add the onion, tomato, and olives.

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Mix everything well, and stuff about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp of mixture into each mushroom.

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Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until juice starts to run. Serve hot.

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These little guys are absolutely delicious! If you use smaller caps, they are a bite-sized appetizer with meal-sized flavor. If you use larger caps, one or two can be a meal unto itself. Omit the ground beef, and you have a lovely vegetarian dish as well.

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Lemon Pollock with Olive Tapenade

 

Fish is healthy and delicious, especially white fish like Alaskan pollock, but it can be bland or boring. Some think this is a negative, but I see it as a huge perk. Fish is the perfect neutral, like a flattering beige sweater or couch. You can dress it up however you like, and it goes well with all types of spices, cooking styles, toppings, and side dishes.

Tapenade is a classical Provençal French dip slash topping. It has also been growing in popularity in other areas of the world, like Greece and the US. The base ingredient is olives. The rest of the ingredients vary by location and chef. Typically, capers, olive oil, garlic, and anchovy fillets are also involved. But there are plenty of variations in which you don’t need anchovy, or no olive oil. (I had sardines, not anchovy, so I used that instead. And it turned out fine.)

Ever since I bought a jar of pimiento and a jar of kalamata olives, I’ve been wanting to make olive tapenade. I finally put it on my meal plan, and made it with some white fish fillets. It was indeed everything I ever dreamed it would be!

It is an amazing topping for fish, but I imagine there are so many other possible uses. Spread on crusty bread slices, a condiment for a sandwich, in pasta like pesto, a dip for crudites, a stuffing for poultry, or as a salad dressing. The possibilities are endless! And it keeps for some time in the fridge, as long as you pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve it. So make a big batch.

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Photo from Joyful Abode

Ingredients:

  • 3 white fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

Olive Tapenade

  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup olives, pits removed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 anchovy or sardine fillet
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice

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Step 1: In a frying pan, place the three fish fillets and cover with lemon juice & fish sauce. Cover with a lid and let cook for 5-7 minutes, then flip. When fish is fully white and flakes easily with a fork, it is ready. Season as desired.

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Step 2: While fish cooks, place olives in a blender or food processor. Meanwhile, boil the rice in 1 cup water and 1 can of diced tomatoes, not drained for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked.

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Step 3: Blend the olives. Add the garlic, sardine, lemon juice, and a few tbsp olive oil. Blend, adding extra juice or oil as needed to make it smooth.

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Step 4: Place a scoop of rice on a plate, add a fish fillet and a smear of the tapenade topping.

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I got a little creative with the plating. Which do you think looks best?

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The fish is tart and moist yet firm, and is a perfect canvas for the olive masterpiece. The level of saltiness will depend on which type of olive(s) you use, I had a combination of green pimiento and kalamata. You can omit the sardine or anchovy fillet if you don’t have it or don’t like it, but I think it adds an extra layer of “seafood” taste, and since they were packed in tomato paste they also added a subtle tomato flavor.

This is a great, healthy alternative to something like mayonnaise or hummus, with lower fat and carb content yet a huge hit of flavors. Take a walk on the Mediterranean side and try some tapenade today.

 

Steak Salad with Balsamic & Orange Dressing

 

Summer is meant for salads. Vegetables are fresh, lettuces are crisp, days are warm. Rather than turn on a hot stove or oven, a salad cools and refreshes. The possibilities for greens are endless, from plain Iceberg to hearty kale to spicy arugula to rainbow chard. On top of your crisp base you can build your masterpiece with any number of toppings.

Since I had recently purchased some steaks on sale, a steak salad seemed only natural. I had also recently procured some “Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar” from Trader Joe’s, which I had heard is delightful as a dressing. So I decided to test that claim. (Spoiler: they were right.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 thin steaks (1-2 oz)
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Orange vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup torn Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • Handful of banana pepper slices (optional)
  • Handful of Kalamata olives (optional)

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You can of course use whatever greens you prefer for the base of the salad. Just make sure you have a hearty plate full! Gotta get those vitamins and minerals.

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Step 1: In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the steaks with the balsamic vinegar for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked but not blackened. Don’t over-cook, you don’t want them tough like shoe leather.

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Step 2: Let the drippings in the pan cool, and add to a small bowl. Pour in the Orange vinegar and olive oil, whisk with a fork.

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Step 3: Slice the steak into thin strips. Coat a plate with the salad greens, sprinkle on the toppings, and the hot steak strips.

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Step 4: Whisk dressing once more, pour over the salad.

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And there you have it! A hearty, healthy fresh steak salad. Isn’t it pretty? You know you want one.

You will get a nice tang from the two different vinegars, while the umami of the balsamic and the sweetness from the orange muscat champagne balance each other. Adding the pan drippings creates a depth of meaty flavor. The olive oil provides healthy fat in order to absorb all the delicious nutrients in your salad.

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If you aren’t a salad person, or make extra steak and want a different way to eat the leftovers, try the steak strips in a burrito! The balsamic marinade is a perfect way to complement the meatiness of beef. Wrap it up in a tortilla with some beans, cheese, and sour cream (this is actually sour cream substitute, made from coconut milk! Tons less fat with no taste difference!) and enjoy.

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Mmmmm beef and beans and cheese… For the I’m-not-worried-about-healthy nights. =)

As always, make it your own. Don’t like balsamic? Use apple cider vinegar or Worchestershire instead. Don’t have orange muscat champagne? Try a tbsp or two of honey to sweeten it up. And top however you please. Have a healthy summer!