Big City Life · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Life Balance · Mid-Life Career Change

Quick & Easy Stir-Fry

Despite the fact that I’m out of school for the summer, I seem to be busier than ever right now.  I took a summer job at a restaurant five days a week, plus I’m still working one day a week at the non-profit I’ve been working with for a couple of years.  It’s all a bit exhausting but I need to save up a little before I start my internship in August.  I think I’ll eventually get the swing of this whole six-day work week, but in the meantime I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands and I need my meals to be really quick and easy.  So, let’s keep this short and sweet and skip ahead to the food, shall we?

BasilCurryStirfry

One of my go-to quick meals is a stir-fry.  There are so many ways you can make a stir-fry.  All you need is a protein, lots of veggies, and a reliably tasty seasoning/sauce combination.  Serve over rice or noodles and you have a super simple healthy meal.  The other night, I had half a can of coconut milk left over, so I decided to make a Thai inspired stir-fry.  If you like coconut curry, you will love this and it is so easy!  I used chicken, but really any protein would work here.  Enjoy!

BasilCurryStirfry2

Basil Curry Stir-Fry
Servings: 4
Serving Nutrition: 329 calories, 30.9 g protein, 18.8 g fat, 719 mg sodium, 9.2 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1.25 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 breasts)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or ¼ tsp ground ginger)
1 Tbsp fresh turmeric, minced (or ¼ tsp ground turmeric)
7 oz canned coconut milk
2 Tbsp Thai roasted red chili paste (like the one from Thai Kitchen)
2 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)

Directions
1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
3. Add onions and cook until translucent, then add garlic and cook for about a minute.
4. Add chicken and salt & pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes.
5. Add bell pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.
6. Stir in ginger, turmeric, coconut milk, and chili paste and let simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes.
7. Stir in basil, remove from heat, and serve.

 

Big City Life · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Life Balance · Mid-Life Career Change · Veggies!

Hunkering Down for the Weekend

Oh, hello there! It’s been a bit since I last posted and I was starting to miss this little blog thing here. As you may know from my previous post, I went on a road trip after Christmas that lasted into the new year and it was so much fun!  I am working on a post recapping the whole adventure, so stay tuned.  Since I got back, though, I’ve been in over my head with applying for dietetic internships.  It’s hard to believe the time has finally come to put what I’ve learned into practice and I have to say that, even with all of the excitement of finally reaching this milestone, it’s a wee bit overwhelming.

First, before I can even think about hitting “submit” on that application, I had to put together a professional portfolio so that my program director can give the official thumbs up that I completed all of the required courses.  I’ve also been attending internship fairs and open houses for the programs I’m interested in.  The application itself is a lot of work, too.  You have to request letters of recommendation and transcripts, make sure your resume is beyond impressive, and write an amazing personal statement that not only speaks to your character and capabilities, but also provides insight into what motivates you to pursue dietetics in general and, more particularly, what makes the program to which you’re applying the right fit…all in less than 1,000 words.  That’s not a lot of words, y’all!!  And apparently, “I want to help people and I love food, soooo…” isn’t gonna cut it. If applying to more than one program (and with only 50% of students getting into programs each year, applying to more than one is a good idea), then you’re writing multiple statements.  Needless to say, things are a little crazy around here.  That said, I wanted to pop in and say hi and share a nice, hearty slow cooker recipe that might come in handy when trying to avoid stepping foot outside in this wintry mess we have headed our way this weekend.

This Slow Cooker Ginger Orange Chicken recipe has been in the works for a while and I think I finally got it right.  Good thing citrus is still in season!  It’s a complete balanced meal in one, with lean chicken, brown rice, and loads of colorful veggies.  With a little spice from the ginger and crushed red pepper, some bright sweetness from the orange, and a little savory from soy sauce, this dish hits all the right notes.  It smells really good while it’s cooking, too.  So, throw everything into your slow cooker and let the aromas fill the air while you bundle up on the couch with a good book or a little binge watching (I highly recommend the Netflix series You…loved the show despite the fact that I will never see Dan Humphrey the same way again).  Stay warm, y’all!

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Slow Cooker Ginger Orange Chicken
Servings: 4
Serving Nutrition: 298 calories, 32.8 g protein, 4.5 g fat, 32.5 g carbohydrates, 4.1 g fiber
Ingredients
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
1/2 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into slices
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup carrots, sliced on a diagonal
3 cups kale, deveined and roughly chopped
Zest of 1 navel orange
1 navel orange, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds

Directions
1. Salt & pepper chicken and heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, or about 3 minutes on each side.
2. Combine ingredients 3 through 9 in slow cooker and mix well.
3. Add veggies and stir.
4. Nestle chicken into veggie mixture. The kale will be really bulky – that’s ok as long as it fits well enough to put the lid on. The kale will wilt as it cooks.
5. Lay orange slices across the top of the chicken.
6. Cover, and set slow cooker to high temperature for 3 hours*
7. Str veggies to coat with sauce and serve with orange slice as garnish.

* Note: cooking time may vary for different slow cookers, so check to make sure rice is cooked before serving. If not, add a little cooking time.

Tell me, have any of you watched You yet?  Did it creep you out as badly as it did me?  Any other binge-worthy recs?

 

 

 

Batch Recipes · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Fall Food · Life Balance

Do the Hustle

Anyone else do a little dance after reading that title? No? Alrighty then…

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with friends and/or family and more good food than you could handle!  As the title to this post suggests, we are now officially knee deep in the holiday hustle and it’s all coming at us like a freight train.  Regardless of which holidays you celebrate and whether those holidays are joyful or stressful for you, I think we can all agree that this time of year can be very emotional.  It’s definitely a balancing act with school/work deadlines, social engagements, figuring out where you’ll be celebrating the holidays or planning to host, shopping for the perfect gifts in overcrowded stores, and travel.  There’s also the inevitable family member (or friend) who you would normally dive under a school bus to avoid running into, yet, on the holidays you’re the jerk if you don’t spend an eternity listening to how his or her dogs are doing.  And let’s not forget about all of the food surrounding this time of year.

Over the past few years, I’ve made some changes in my mindset regarding food and they have helped relieve a little of the holiday stress.  So, here are a few tips that have worked for me:

  1. Eat a lot of veggies. Really, this is something I do throughout the year now, but during this time of year there are sweets galore and gatherings that involve eating heavy food, so eating more veggies in between celebrations helps ensure that your body is still getting properly nourished. Bonus: fill up on the good stuff and you won’t want to eat the entire gingerbread house.
  2. Eat in as much as you can.  Clearly, you can’t bail on the company holiday dinner, but maybe you can bring your lunch that day.  Or say no to the holiday soiree your friend’s husband’s sister’s cousin is throwing and stay home instead.  I have to admit, saying no to social functions used to be a hard one for me, but these days I don’t feel guilty for opting out of an event or two if it helps keep me sane.  And having good food at home makes staying in so much more appealing.  Making big batches of a couple of meals on Sunday will help ensure you always have something good to eat at home.
  3. Relax.  You’re going to splurge a little during the holidays.  We all do it and it is not the end of the world, or even the end of your health or diet goals.  The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up every time you indulge.  Actually, even worse is to give up because you think you blew it anyway.  Take a step back and breathe.  One cookie, or one day of eating (ahem, Thanksgiving), or even a week of holiday parties is not going to destroy what you’ve worked for.  Just resume regularly scheduled healthy habits and move forward.  And remember to be present and enjoy time with your loved ones rather than worrying about how many calories you just ordered to, “get in my belly”.  It will all be OK.

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Need a good batch recipe? Make my chicken and dumplings!!!  In this post, I talked about trying to recreate my Grammy’s chicken and dumplings.  I kept the essence of Grammy’s chicken & dumplings, but bulked it up with more veggies and made the dumplings from scratch rather than using a biscuit mix (I didn’t love the ingredients in the mix and the BF and I agreed that it tasted a bit like plastic).  I struggled with getting the perfect fluffy dumpling and we ate a lot of them in the process, but I finally got it right and the result is sooooo good.  This also happens to be a great soul-warming cold weather meal.  It’s easy to make, but does take a bit of time (about 1.5 hours total prep + cooking), so plan ahead. Enjoy!

ChickenDumplings4

Fluffy Chicken & Dumplings
Servings: 8
Serving Nutrition: 258 calories, 13.7 g protein, 5.7 g fat, 38.1 g carbohydrates, 774 mg sodium
Ingredients
Stew
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
4 stalks celery, 1/4 inch slices
1 cup carrots, 1/4 inch slices
1 medium potato, diced small
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp cornstarch (or flour)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Dumplings
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Directions
1. In large pot over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until they begin to soften.
2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add celery, carrots, potato, salt, and pepper and stir to mix.
4. Add chicken breasts, chicken stock, bay leaf, and enough water to cover chicken breasts and bring to a boil.
5. After chicken has boiled for about 20 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer, remove breasts from pot and shred with a fork. Return chicken to pot.
6. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with about 3 tablespoons of hot water and mix until a smooth paste forms. Add cornstarch mixture to pot and mix thoroughly.
7. Let stew simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid thickens to desired stew consistency.
8. While stew is simmering, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
9. Cut softened butter into flour mixture until little beads of dough form consistently throughout mixture.
10. Slowly stir milk into flour mixture a little bit at a time until all dry ingredients are incorporated into dough. It will be a thick dough that will be difficult to stir.
11. Once stew is thickened to desired consistency, lower heat if needed to maintain a low simmer, remove the bay leaf, and stir in parsley and more salt & pepper if needed.
12. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto the top of the stew, starting along the edge of the pot and working your way inward.
13. Cover pot and let simmer for 20 minutes.
14. Remove lid and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

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Look at how light and airy that dumpling is!
ChickenDumplings1
The stew underneath is delicious too.
Big City Life · Cheese, cheese, and more cheese · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Mid-Life Career Change · Snacks · Summer · Tasty Sides

Sunset Picnic, Take 2

Last weekend, my cousin and her boyfriend came down from Vermont to visit. This cousin and I grew up thousands of miles apart so we didn’t really know each other well as kids, but as adults we connected and realized we have a lot in common and we became great friends. I don’t get to see her nearly enough, so I was ecstatic to see her and finally meet the man in her life. We had an awesome weekend – we went to a concert in Queens, checked out the World Trade Center memorial, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, imbibed at a couple of breweries, and just enjoyed catching up. On Saturday, after walking around all day, we had the grand plan of making some salads and a meat & cheese plate to take down to the waterfront and have ourselves a nice little relaxing sunset picnic. We went all out. We made this potato salad, a simple green salad with strawberries and balsamic, and a curried chicken salad. After getting everything ready and packed up, we went outside to find that it was raining…pretty hard. I don’t know how we failed to notice that before leaving the apartment. I guess we were just having too much fun catching up. We are a bunch of talkers, after all. Anyway, we hiked back upstairs, put pillows on the floor, and had our picnic around the coffee table. (We ate everything too quickly to get pics…sorry!) My BF and I had really talked up the sunset views on our waterfront, so I’m sad that our guests didn’t have the beautiful backdrop of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty while they ate, but we had a blast chatting and playing ’80s and ’90s trivia. I kicked all of their butts. No regrets.

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Yep, this is basically our backyard. We’re pretty lucky. Lady Liberty is covered up by the ship on the left, but she’s over there.

Today, I start classes for the Fall semester, so last night I wanted to do something fun with my BF before the craziness begins. We decided to try the whole waterfront picnic again, and this time the weather gods cooperated. We took some meat, cheese, crackers, and grapes and made another green salad, a yummy mango & corn salsa (recipe coming in the next post), and more curried chicken salad. The chicken salad was at the request of my BF, and he proceeded to eat it straight out of the bowl. I guess he liked it. When I originally made it for the first picnic, I just kind of threw together things that I thought would taste good and didn’t really have high expectations, but it was really tasty so I will share it with you. Enjoy!

 

CurriedChickenSalad_edited

Curried Chicken Salad
Servings: 4
Serving Nutrition: 97 calories, 12.6g protein, 3.9g fat, 1.4 g fiber, 2.7g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 cup finely chopped cooked skinless chicken breast
¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 celery stalks, diced
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ avocado, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 handful roughly chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix until curry powder is fully integrated.
2. Taste & add more curry powder or salt/pepper if needed.
3. Eat with crackers, over greens, in a wrap, or straight from the bowl.

Chicken Recipe · Summer · Veggies!

No Soggy Lettuce Here

Salads have come a long way over the years. I can’t pinpoint when exactly I noticed the shift, but over time restaurant menus have offered more and more tasty, unique salads that could easily be the main course for a meal. That said, the mere mention of a salad still conjures up visions of sad, soggy lettuce with many people. At work, we do salad events from time-to-time where we offer a spread of a lot of different ingredients, along with sample recipes, and let attendees assemble their own lunch salads. We still sometimes get comments like, “this is rabbit food”, but by and large the attendees to these events leave excited to make more creative salads at home. If you include plenty of protein and make sure the flavors complement each other with some sort of flavor profile, a salad can be a truly satisfying meal…especially in hot weather. And nothing says summer like peaches and basil! Never had them together? You’re in for a treat!

A couple of weeks ago, I had some peaches at home and wanted to whip up a quick lunch, so I threw together a salad that ended up being one of my all-time favorites. I used pre-cooked chicken breast strips from Trader Joe’s to cut down on cooking time, but any cooked chicken you have would work well. For this particular meal, I wanted a light lunch so I stuck to fruit, veggies, and protein, but if I were to make this for dinner I would probably toss in a little quinoa or brown rice to get some whole grains. You really have to make this while peaches are still in season. The sweetness of the peaches and balsamic combined with the salty parmesan is great, and the basil gives it an unexpected pop of flavor. The picture here doesn’t do it justice at all…it is so simple and tasty!

BalsamicPeachBasilSalad

Balsamic Peach & Basil Salad
Servings: 2
Ingredients
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
6 ounces cooked chicken
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade or roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions
1. In skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent
2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add peaches, chicken, and balsamic vinegar and cook until peaches soften.
4. Mix 1/4 cup of basil into peach mixture and remove from heat.
5. In large bowl, toss spinach, remaining basil, carrots, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and remaining olive oil.
6. Divide spinach mixture between two bowls or plates and top each with half of peach mixture.

Enjoy!

Chicken Recipe · International Cooking · Summer · Tasty Sides · Veggies!

It’s Like a Heat Wave!!

Anyone else have a constant jukebox running in their head? No? Just me? Alrighty then! For some reason, the song in the title of this post popped into my head today. Oh, I know why…it’s freaking hot outside! We are definitely in the midst of a heat wave here in New York and it is not so fun. Rather than going on another rant about how much I hate the heat, though, I’m going to tell you how I’m making this bearable. First of all, I’m trying to acclimate by going for a run three days a week. It’s way too hot to run for a really long time, but 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there has made me a little less of a sweaty mess when not running and it’s making my waistline a little less doughy. Win, win! I have also been known to take a cold pack from the freezer and put it behind my knees or neck. It works. Most importantly, we’re not cooking around here. Actually, I should say that we are doing the absolute minimal amount of cooking possible and under absolutely no circumstances are we turning the oven on. That would be grounds for getting banished from the apartment indefinitely.

In our quest to eat well without use of the oven and minimal use of the stove, we have had to get creative. We’ve come up with some really great meals that I think are worth sharing. I have big plans to go for a run then sprawl out in front of the fan for the rest of the day, though, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet and get right to the food.

Back when I was living and working in Dallas, my friend, Jessica, introduced me to a delicious Vietnamese spot and we would grab lunch there at least once a month. My favorite thing on the menu was a rice noodle salad that I only knew as bun…I couldn’t remember the rest of the name. Clearly my Vietnamese language skills are lacking. Anyway, I had a craving the other day so I went on a hunt for the noodles I remember so fondly and came across a recipe for bun with lemongrass chicken (bun ga nuong) from Nagi at RecipeTinEats (find it here). As with all recipes, I made some modifications. I don’t follow directions well. Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it. You can swap out the vegetables with whatever you like. Some recipes call for bean sprouts, some call for shredded lettuce, some don’t use mint. This really is adaptable and so incredibly refreshing for a hot summer dinner. Or, you can toss everything together for a nice side salad…it’s just so diverse!

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong)
Servings: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer peeled so you only use white part, bruised by pounding with side of knife, & cut into big pieces

Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
1 cup hot water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai chili or serrano chili, finely minced (I had serranos on hand and they worked well)

Noodles
1 7-8 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
5-6 green onions, sliced

Directions
1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. For sauce, whisk hot water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, add all other sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
3. For noodles, boil enough water to cover the noodles. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and place noodles in water to soak until al dente (3-7 minutes). When noodles are al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
4. In large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Shake off any lemongrass bits and slice chicken.
5. In large bowl, toss noodles, cilantro, carrots, and about half of sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. To serve, portion noodles into bowls and top with vegetables and chicken. Garnish with lime wedges and side of additional sauce.

Enjoy, and stay cool!!!

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So many veggies you can’t even see the noodles!

 

Big City Life · Chicken Recipe · Summer · Tex-Mex Recipe

It’s Summer!!

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with summer these days. As a kid growing up in Texas, summer meant a lot of time spent in the swimming pool and lounging around without a care in the world. These days, I practically melt in the heat and humidity of New York City. People tend to get agitated in this heat and take their frustrations out on whoever is nearby, even perfect strangers. In fact, the other day I was walking across the street and had to pass behind a car that was sitting in the intersection. Other people were crossing the street coming the opposite direction, so I stayed to the right. One girl who was walking the opposite direction wanted to walk where I was. I couldn’t move because I had the car directly to my right and other people coming toward me on the left. She was clearly unhappy to have to go around me and elbowed me in the ribs as she passed. No joke. Things like this happen all the time in a packed city like this, but it happens much more often when we have to endure sweltering heat and humidity.

I do realize that I come from a state where the summer heat can only be described as Hell-like, and it has been pointed out to me more than once that I should be used to this heat. I respond to that by explaining that we do not just walk around and hang out in the summer heat in Texas. People there have cars with A/C, houses and workplaces with central A/C that is usually set to arctic temperatures, and swimming pools and/or clean lakes and springs are not hard to come by.  By contrast, in New York we walk and ride subways where the platforms are saunas and the subway cars themselves may or may not be air conditioned but it doesn’t matter anyway because most of the time you’re packed in so tightly that it’s still hot and you’ve got no less than 2 people (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) pressing against you, sweat and all. Now let’s talk about the window units they call A/C. The majority of us city dwellers live in old buildings and central A/C didn’t exist when the buildings were constructed. So, we buy heavy boxes we call “window units” and precariously prop them in a partially opened window with the majority of the unit hanging outside of the window. The only things holding the units in are the window pulled down over the top of it and a couple of flimsy accordion-looking extensions on the sides that may or may not be screwed into the window sill. I’m truly surprised these things don’t fall out of windows and hurt passersby all the time. I’m not an engineer, though, so I just go with it. Anyhow, window units don’t have much power at all. You get a really hot day, and these rinky-dinky A/Cs barely put a dent in the temperature of your apartment. And the swimming situation…the only free options are the crowded public pools, where the water is at least 50% urine, or the Hudson or East Rivers, where you run the risk of developing gills or a third eye after swimming in them. Nice, private swimming pools are hard to come by, so they charge an arm and a leg for you to use the facility for one day and they’re sometimes just as crowded as the public pools. Basically, summer in New York means sweating for 3 months straight.

OK, rant over. I actually do love certain things about summer, and NY. I love the longer days, the hordes of puppies being walked at any given time, the smell of flowers when I pass the community garden down the block from me, and having a nice cold glass of white wine or rose on a patio while people watching is one of my favorite summer activities. People watching doesn’t get much better than New York in the summer. Most of all, though, I love the food (you probably saw that coming). When it’s hot out, I crave light, citrusy dishes, lots of seafood and summer vegetables and herbs…mmmmm.

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On that note, I developed this recipe for National Nutrition Month back in March. It was intended to go on my company’s internal blog, but they ran out of space and didn’t post it. I hate to waste a good recipe, though, so here you go! Using whatever chicken leftovers you might have – grilled, baked, rotisserie – you can make these chicken fritters and eat them on a salad, make a sandwich or wrap with them, or just eat them alone as a hearty snack.  They are loaded with summer veggies, both canned and fresh, that can be swapped out for what you have in your fridge or pantry. I’ve also included the recipe for a tangy chimichurri that is a perfect complement to the fritters…and really everything. These don’t last long in my house, so hopefully you enjoy them too!

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Southwest Chicken Fritters
Yields: about 8 fritters, each = 151 cal, 10g protein, 6g fat, 15g carbs, 3g fiber
Ingredients
1 ½ cups shredded chicken
½ cup canned low sodium black beans
½ cup red bell peppers, diced
½ cup shredded zucchini
½ cup corn kernels
½ avocado
Juice and zest from ½ lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or 2 tsp dried cilantro)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or 3 slices of toasted bread chopped in food processor)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Directions
  1. With a fork, mash up the beans and avocado.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes (while you make the rest of your meal and/or the chimichurri sauce below).
  4. Form mixture into patties about the size of a small burger patty.
  5. Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray or olive oil.
  6. Cook patties over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
Chkfritters1
Chimichurri Ingredients
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp minced onion
4 cloves garlic
Juice from ½ lemon
½ cup olive oil
½ jalapeno
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions
Either toss all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, or finely chop all dry ingredients then stir in olive oil.

 

Chicken Recipe · Shrimp Recipe · Travel

Making Do

As mentioned in my previous post here, my boyfriend and I had a nice little vacation in the Caribbean to kick off 2018. After our adventurous night in Antigua, we headed over to Montserrat via the tiniest plane I’ve ever flown on. That was a little nerve wracking because even just a slight wind would push the plane around, but we made it safely and the rest of our trip was amazing.  We swam and played in the sand like 10-year-olds on beaches where we were often the only ones there, we swam in the pool and lounged on the patio of our villa just watching the ocean or the huge iguana that lived in the tree next to the pool (we named him Igor the Iguana), and we ate well. Usually, when I say I ate well on vacation, I proceed to provide a list of restaurants I tried.  Montserrat is a small island with a population of just about 5,000, so it’s not exactly a fine dining mecca.  On this vacation, we wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet at our villa as much as possible anyway, so we ate in a lot.  Before we left New York, I pulled together a couple of recipes for Caribbean food using fish and shrimp, thinking these items should be easy to find and super fresh…we were going to an island, after all, right?  Wrong!  Even though there is great fishing in the Caribbean, the people of Montserrat apparently don’t really fish much.  Most of the food on the island is shipped in from larger islands, so all meat is frozen.  I’m ok with frozen shrimp or chicken, but I prefer my fish to be fresh, so we had to adjust.  Sometimes when in a new place, you have to adapt and find ways to modify the plan a bit.  We had a fun challenge ahead of us.

MontserratRainbows
This island might be short on food variety, but they have rainbows every day…sometimes 2 at a time!

The first day we arrived, the property manager for the villa took us to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.  It was a tiny little store and it didn’t have everything we were used to seeing in our grocery stores in the US.  We also felt rushed because the property manager was waiting.  It was all a little overwhelming.  Not a problem.  We pulled together some canned goods, a bag of rice, and some cheese and crackers to get us through the next day or so.  Our “pantry meal” actually ended up being really good!  I used black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, jarred jalapenos, rice, and spices to make a really tasty beans and rice dish that lasted a couple of days.

On day three, we had a little more time on our hands, so we took a taxi back to the store and spent a little more time exploring.  We found the frozen meats and got a bag of shrimp and a couple of chicken breasts.  Then we realized that the fresh produce is all in the refrigerator at the side of the store – makes sense because the doors to the store are always open and bugs are everywhere.  Armed with this jerk shrimp recipe from Lawren Moneta, we went looking for everything else.  As mentioned, this was a tiny store where variety was limited, so once again we adapted.  Instead of cantaloupe, I just put some pineapple in the salsa.  We couldn’t find a scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, so I used the jarred jalapenos we previously bought.  Honey was extremely expensive and we couldn’t find limes, so the juice from the pineapple pulled double duty for sweetness and acidity.  We also didn’t have thyme or cilantro, so I just left it out.  The shrimp was still very good, and the sweetness from the salsa was a really nice compliment to the salty and spicy shrimp!  In fact, it was so good that I made it twice during our 9 days at the villa.

JerkShrimp
The second time I made the jerk shrimp, we didn’t have a cucumber or kiwi, so I just made a pineapple & jalapeno salsa.

Another dish we really enjoyed was chicken curry.  Curries are very common in Caribbean cuisine, and the grocery store where we did our shopping was owned by an Indian couple, so we decided to buy a bag of Indian curry powder so I could attempt my own.  It was really easy and tasty!  Here’s what I did:

ChkCurry

 

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 potato, diced small
1 box frozen spinach
1/2 cup chicken stock (I couldn’t find this, so I used a bouillon cube)

Saute onion a couple of minutes, add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add chicken, potato, curry powder, and chicken stock and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through.  Add coconut milk and spinach and continue cooking, breaking spinach apart as it thaws.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft and spinach is thawed and integrated well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, more curry powder.  Serve over rice or, as they often do in Montserrat, wrapped in a roti.

Enjoy!

 

Batch Recipes · Chicken Recipe · Mid-Life Career Change · Running · Tex-Mex Recipe

Finding a Routine

Lately I’ve felt like my life has gotten a wee bit out of control.  It’s sometimes easy to fall into a routine when you work a normal day job and have set obligations or hobbies outside of work.  And while the word routine can sometimes have a negative connotation, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it isn’t too extreme.  In fact, this girl is craving a routine.  It has now been 8 months since I quit my job and went back to school to study nutrition.  Every day is a different schedule and I’m finding it hard to get in the groove with the things I feel like I need to do to feel good and balanced, like working out and (ironically) eating right.  I am not the type of person who is able to force myself to get out of bed early unless there is somewhere I have to be, so my sleep schedule has become erratic.  That then creates a domino effect whereby I feel like I don’t have enough time to get my school work done so I skip my workout and eat whatever leftovers I have in my fridge or order delivery.  Much to my dismay, I have easily fallen back into the college student lifestyle, but my body and sanity can’t handle it so well in my old age.  The madness has gone on long enough.  I recently got caught up in the excitement of joining lotteries for Fall marathons and decided on a whim to enter the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  My thought process went something like this, “This is a really popular marathon, so the odds of me getting in through the lottery are pretty slim.  I’ll just enter the lottery and if I don’t get in, I’ll skip marathon season this year but I won’t look like a complete lazy butt because at least I tried, right?  If, by chance, I do get in, I’ll suck it up and run it…but that won’t happen”.  Well, guess what?  I got in.  Damnit!!  So now it’s time to get off my keester and get my crap together.  Here’s what I am doing/plan to do:
  • I will make it a priority to run or do strength work at least 5 days each week.  This has to happen, and I’m declaring it to all of you right now.  There, accountable.
  • I am the queen of procrastination and I do it every single time I do school work or study.  I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon, but perhaps I can cut back a bit by scheduling specific times for studying during which I have to get it all done, and instead of watching Friends episodes on Netflix or playing games on my phone (yes, I do that, don’t judge) during my procrastination breaks, I will do core and strength exercises…maybe while watching a Friends episode.
  • When I cook something that can easily be frozen and reheated, I will make enough to actually do that.  Last week, my boyfriend and I made chili and chicken tortilla soup and froze enough for at least a few meals.  I also have a freezer bag full of homemade tomato sauce hanging out in there waiting to be made into a veggie lasagna.  Having that available should cut down on my leftover pizza and Seamless binges.  My wallet and my waistline will thank me.
  • I will keep healthy snacks and breakfast bars available to just grab and take with me to class.
  • The biggest and most difficult change is going to be the sleep schedule.  I am going to make a point of getting to bed before midnight every night during the week and getting up at or before 8am.  Again, I am declaring this to you so I will be accountable.
I could probably go on for days with grand ideas to completely overhaul my life, but as they say, if you try to do too much you won’t stick with it so I’m stopping there.  Please feel free to share any ideas on ways to make this easier or little tricks that have worked for you.  Any words of wisdom or inspiration are greatly appreciated.  Tough love is also encouraged.
Now, if you have never had chicken tortilla soup or are looking for a good recipe, read on.  This recipe packs a bit of heat, though, so if you are averse to spice, you can adjust the jalapenos and cilantro down…or up if you like it hot.  I make this fairly often as it reminds me of the tortilla soup I get at Tex-Mex restaurants back in Texas.
ChkTortSoup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 breasts of chicken
2 large tomatoes, diced (or a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 oz. can)
1/2 lime
1/2 tsp cumin
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper
Start by sauteing the onions in olive oil until they are almost translucent.  Add garlic and jalapenos and cook for about 1 minute.  Add chicken broth, about a 1/2 cup of water, and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add chicken breasts whole and cook for about 20 minutes.  Remove chicken breasts from pot and shred with a fork, then place back in the pot.  Add black beans, juice from 1/2 a lime, cumin, as much cilantro as you like (I load mine up with about a 1/2 cup), and salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer another 10-15 minutes.
Garnish
I like to top my soup with pepper jack cheese, plain Greek yogurt (tastes very much like sour cream but better for you), crumbled baked tortilla chips, avocado, chopped jalapenos, and freshly chopped cilantro.  If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll make my own tortilla strips by taking corn tortillas, brushing both sides with olive oil, cutting into thin strips, then baking at 425* until they start to brown.
Enjoy!