Healthy Classics

Lauren, 

My mouth is watering after looking at your pictures—chicken soup, barbecue, and giant doughnuts! Delish. It’s been a busy week and I havn’t been in much of a mood to make a whole lot. When we had our visitor over the weekend I made some elaborate spreads with cheeses, meats, dips, and breads. My current favorite is pairing rye bread & hummus and brie & bosc pears. The pate, comte, and prosciutto from Trader Joe’s are good staples too. For dinner over the weekend I made pesto-chicken pasta with pine nuts and roasted tomatoes (we threw a keg party on Friday so carbs and fat was on the menu). This week I’ve made the switch to healthier meals.. in preparation for another weekend full of parties and late-night burger runs. I created a muffin recipe with handfuls of fresh zucchini, made a veggie-packed taco dinner, prepared a vibrant quinoa salad, and cooked up a delicious strawberry rose petal compote to go on top of ice cream and greek yogurt. Check out the recipes and how-to pictures below…

(Chocolate) Zucchini Loaf

2 eggs

1/3 cup brown sugar or evaporated cane juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups fresh zucchini, grated or shredded in food processor

1/2 cup light sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)

1/2 cup canola oil 

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans 

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini, canola oil, sour cream, baking soda, and salt. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the flours with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well. Then stir in the pecans, raisins and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups or loaf pan and bake for 20 minutes (muffins) and 50 minutes (loaf). It’s best to take out when still a tiny bit gooey on the inside. Cool and freeze whatever you won’t eat in the next day or two.

Eat for breakfast, with tea and coffee, or for dessert with a dollop of yogurt and honey!

Strawberry Rose Petal Compote

Handful pink or red edible rose petals (very fragrant & pesticide-free!)

Ripe, sweet strawberries (preferably organic)

Sugar, evaporated can juice, maple syrup, or agave syrup

Lemon juice

Cinnamon

Vanilla extract

Do ahead: Rinse rose petals thoroughly and drain. Clip off bitter white base and place rose petals in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar to coat, and let sit overnight. 

Rinse strawberries thoroughly, cut into quarters, and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar (or other sweetener) and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Toss to coat. Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add strawberries and stir until it starts to liquify (The strawberries should have enough water to create their own sauce). Add rose petals and a bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste, and simmer for 20-30 minutes more, or until sauce starts to thicken. Taste and add more sugar, vanilla, or lemon if it needs it. Refrigerate overnight (sauce will continue to thicken).

Use as a topping for ice cream, yogurt or on baked goods. Fresh mint or pistachios add great flavor and a bit of color!

Simply Mexican Tacos

Olive oil

Yellow or white onions

Zucchini, chopped

Red pepper, chopped

Frozen corn

Chicken

Lemon juice

Cilantro

Sat n’ Pepper

Chili flakes

Sunflower seeds

Avocado, chopped

Salsa (or make your own)

Grated mexican cheese (jack, cheddar, etc)

Refried beans (black or pinto)

Soft or hard corn tortillas

Sauté vegetables in olive oil with a touch of salt until tender. Meanwhile marinate chicken with lemon, salt, pepper, half of cilantro, and chili flakes. Heat olive oil in pan and fry until just cooked through. Top with remaining cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds (these are so nutty and make every taco and burrito better). Heat refried beans, drizzle chopped avocado with olive oil, lemon and salt. Place veggies, chicken, beans, avocado, cheese and salsa in small bowls for serving. Heat soft tortillas on each side or warm hard shells and serve. 

Great for parties or for a movie night, like we had here! And takes less cooking and more prep so the more hands in the kitchen, the better! These are healthy and the veggies make them a variation on the classic tacos. Buen provecho.

Red & Orange Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

1 sweet potato, peeled & chopped 

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled & chopped

10 kalmata olives, pitted and quartered

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

A bunch of fresh chives or other fresh herbs, chopped

Dressing: 2 parts good extra virgin olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, salt* & pepper, 1 tsp honey

(honey surprisingly goes well with any savory salad, learned from MNR)

1/4- 1/2 cup Feta* or goat cheese

*If using feta and olives, hold the salt in the dressing

Do ahead: Place quinoa and water in 2 qt saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer on lowest setting and cover. After 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, take off heat and cool. Place in refrigerator overnight or for a few hours. To quicken, pour into cold bowl, cover and refrigerate. 

Boil chopped sweet potato for about 10 minutes or until tender (but don’t overcook or else it will be mushy). Drain and rinse with cold water. Add chilled quinoa to a large serving bowl and add potatoes and all other chopped vegetables/herbs. Mix together olive oil, lemon, and honey for dressing in a small cup and pour over quinoa mixture to taste. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss gently. Crumble cheese on top.

Now you’ve got one incredibly vibrant and wonderfully nutritious meal that you can eat all by itself, or serve with a main dish. The thing is, quinoa has a lot of protein so you don’t have to worry about adding meat to your meal. Its a complete protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids, and, it’s easy on the stomach. So what are you waiting for? Dig in already!

Oh, and just a warning, your pet will want some too… : )

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