Color Me Avocado

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Avocados are a gem. Technically a fruit, avocados are full of fiber, low in carbs and full of good fats. As a soft fruit when ripened, it’s perfect for easy brace face meals. I’ve become a big fan of avocado toast and it is easy to change up for any meal. This is a quick and easy dish that takes 5 minutes to make. I’ve made it with both eggs and sautéed shrimp. Quick note: If you don’t have a grater and don’t want chunks of garlic in your avocado, smash the garlic and rub each slice of toast thoroughly before adding the mashed avocado. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:
1 small to medium avocado
1 -2 small cloves of garlic grated
2 slices of whole wheat toast
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp. avocado oil or butter
2 scrambled or poached eggs or 5 sautéed shrimp

Directions:
1. Cut avocado in half longwise. Remove pit and scoop both halves into a bowl.
2. Mash gently with a fork. Peel garlic and grate into bowl.
3. Add a pinch on salt and pepper and mix well.
4. Scramble eggs in butter or oil and season with salt and pepper.
a.option 2: season one side of shrimp with salt, pepper and onion power and cook in oil or butter for 3 minutes on each side. Cut each in half longwise.
5. Toast bread. Add mashed avocado and red pepper flakes to each slice of bread.
6. Add half of shrimp or egg to each slice of toast.

Changes and Opportunties

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In addition to new resolutions, my 2018 began with braces and a requirement for soft foods. So my first week yielded new smoothie mixes, mashed potatoes, smoked gouda mac and cheese and good ‘ol grits and egg. As a person who typically eats well balanced meals, it’s been a struggle to find right balances with soft foods outside of smoothies; however, challenge accepted.

This week I decided on comforting Sheppard’s pie with a twist to boost my veggie intake. In addition to the traditional peas and carrots, I did a mix of yellow cauliflower with potatoes to give me a little more nutrients.

I also have the fixings for bowls of egg drop soup which takes minutes to make and can be made as needed. Also depending on how hungry I am, I can beef it up with more egg or even a small can of chicken.

Check out the recipes for both dishes below.

Sheppard’s Pie
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 cups diced onion (one large)
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cup of peas
1 small head of cauliflower (2 cups)
4 medium red potatoes or 1 large white potato
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. onion power
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cream cheese (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it heats, rinse and peel potato(es). Cut in half. (If one large, cut in half longwise, then into fourths).
3. Rinse cauliflower and peel off leaves and cut off the tough stem end. The cauliflower should be about the same size as the potatoes.
4. Peel and dice a large onion and add half the onion, the potatoes and cauliflower to the water and boil for 15-17 minutes.
5. While that boils, place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground meat and the remaining onion and a pinch of water to brown the meat. Break into small pieces and brown evenly.
6. While the meat browns, peel carrots and chop finely by hand or with a food processor, small blender or magic chopper. Add to pan of beef.
7. Add defrosted peas and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes.
8. Remove potatoes from stove and strain. Add them back to the stove and reduce heat to low. Add butter, cream cheese and milk and mash until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove beef mixture from heat and add to a standard 5 quart baking dish (large rectangle).
10. Add potato mixture on top and smooth evenly. Bake for 10 minutes until top browns slightly.

 

Egg Drop Soup
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. diced green onion
1-2 large eggs
1 tbsp. Low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup canned chicken (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Add broth or stock to a small pot. Add green onion and all seasoning over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes.
2. In a bowl add egg with a pinch of salt and whisk with a fork.
3. Add egg in a slow stream to pot. The egg will cook instantly. Remove heat.
4. Wash bowl from egg and add your finished soup. Enjoy.

New Year, New Beginnings

New year, new you? It’s that time of year where we make our resolutions to be healthier, be more active and make better decisions. Increase your odds of being successful by making SMART Goals. Make sure your goals are:

S- simple
M-measurable
A- achievable
R- realistic
T- timely

Set yourself up for success with small, manageable steps to reach your goals. Hold yourself accountable for your achievements and set backs. Recruit a friend or partner in crime with similar goals to help you stay motivated and most importantly believe that once you have set your mind to truly make a change, you can and will succeed.

My goal this year is to help at least 10 people in Louisiana meet their wellness goals this year. Whether as a health coach or through cooking instruction, I️ want to help people reach their health goals in 2018 and it starts with you saying yes.

Check out my New Year sale (ends 1/15) and services at https://www.inspiredcreationsla.com/

Wishing you a great 2018!

 

Freezer Fix

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With the holidays in full swing, this is the perfect time to save some cash to go toward those holiday preparations by eating out of the freezer and reinventing leftovers. I for one got the most bang for my buck out of my thanksgiving turkey breast with turkey, smoked Gouda, creole mustard and fresh cranberry sauce sandwiches. I also plucked the turkey breast clean for turkey and sausage gumbo that will be perfect for Christmas and a few servings for this week.

In addition to the gumbo, this week will be a mix of some of my favorites including curry, turnip, sausage and sweet potato soup, chili and succotash.

What’s in your freezer?

Thanksgiving Ready pt. 2

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I was told at today’s demo that I knocked another one out of the park with this soup dish; and the best part was all of the kid approvals and request for the recipe to make this dish at home. Though I’ve made variations of this soup before, the idea is to incorporate some of those Thanksgiving flavors as either an appetizer soup or as a way to use leftover supplies from the holiday preparations. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Sweet Potato, turnip and Sausage Soup
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
2 cups diced sweet potato (2 medium)
2 cups diced turnip root (4 medium)
2 cups chopped turnip greens
1/2 lb Cutrer’s smoked sausage cubed
2 cups chopped green onion
1 cup of chicken stock
5 cups of water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Directions:
1. Add water to a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Remove green tops (leave on stems for easy root peeling) from turnip roots and soak tops in water in a bowl or the sink to remove dirt.
3. Using a potato peeler, peel turnips until dirty skin is removed. Cut off skinny end and green stem end. Cut in half and then three strips before dicing into medium pieces. Add to the pot of water.
4. Rinse and peel sweet potatoes. Cut them in half, then each half into strips and dice into medium pieces and add to the pot.
5. Cut sausage in half long-wise before slicing thin and add to the pot. Add seasoning and chicken stock. Let boil for 10 minutes.
6. Rinse and chop turnip greens and green onion and add to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Enjoy.

 

 

Thanksgiving Ready

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With thanksgiving around the corner, it’s good to have options to lighten traditional classics like sweet potato casserole. I enjoyed sharing my easy recipe with yesterday’s demo at the Red Stick Farmers Market. Though there was not butternut squash at the market yesterday, if you can find it, try subbing out half of the sweet potatoes to lighten the carb load and add in other nutrients. Since we are also in cold and flu season, I also showed how to make a fresh immune booster to keep you and your loved-ones protected or armed with a speedy recovery boost this season. Check out the recipe for each below.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 8

Ingredients:
4 cups diced sweet potato (3-4 small)
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. whole milk (or preferred %)
1 tbsp. red stick spice Vietnamese cinnamon
3 tbsp. local honey
2 tbsp. raw cane sugar
1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half longwise. Cut each half into three strips then cube into medium-sized chunks. Add to pot.
3. Let boil for 12 minutes or until tender with a fork.
4. Strain and place in a large bowl. Mash with a large spoon and add butter, honey and sugar and mix until well blended. Add milk and spices and mix well.
5. Place in a small oven safe dish and cover top in chopped roasted pecans. Bake for 5 minutes. *optional (Be careful not to burn pecans.)

 

Immune Booster
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3-4 fresh juiced satsuma or orange
3-4 fresh juiced lemon
3 tbsp. local honey
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-2 drops of oil of oregano pee individual serving *optional

Directions:
1. Peel satsumas and break in half. With a glove hand, juice satsuma sections over a medium bowl with a pouring spout.
2. Rinse lemons and cut in half. Remove visible seeds and juice each half, cut side up over the bowl.
3. Stir mixture with a fork or spoon and remove any spotted seeds. Add honey and mix until dissolved.
4. Add cayenne and stir well. Pour into individual containers for storage in the fridge. (A salad dressing container or top-able condiment container should work.)
5. Add optional oil of oregano only when ready to consume. Otherwise, the entire mixture will taste like a pizza within an hour. 🙂

Not Your Average Cutlet

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While stewed chicken is delish and comforting, your time in the kitchen may not allow for it. In this case, it is good to stock up on chicken or pork cutlets which is essentially a boneless breast or chop that’s been cut in half to reduce cooking time. If you need a 20-minute dinner option, this balanced and flavorful option is certainly a winner. Pairing the jazzed up chicken with a whole grain like millet or a seed like quinoa, and a vegetable of choice keeps it simple and balanced.

I’ve mentioned quinoa before in posts and while it can be hit or miss on the like-o-meter, the key is to add flavor. I like to cook it with stock or wine with herbs and a touch or butter. Of course you can add a little cheese, herbs and spinach or broccoli for an alternative to broccoli and cheese rice or a variation of rice pilaf. For this dish I added white wine, water and seasoning and finished with a dab of butter.

I also kept the veggie simple by microwaving some frozen spinach with a little seasoning and butter. This dish is great with and without the addition of quinoa. If you skip the grain or seed, I would double up on the cutlets.

Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:
Chicken:
1-1 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets (4-5 cutlets)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sliced onion (small onion)
1 cup sliced mushroom (white or crimini)
1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup of white wine

Quinoa:
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp. chopped basil (optional)
1/2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. onion powder

Spinach:
1 cup of spinach
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. butter

Directions:
1. Rinse quinoa with water and strain. Add to a small pot with liquid and other ingredients and mix with a fork. Place over medium heat.
2. Bring quinoa to a boil and once boiling, reduce heat to low, top it and let cook for 18-20 minutes. While waiting for the quinoa to boil, peel and slice a small onion in half. Slice each half into thin strips for even-sized pieces.
3. Rinse bell pepper, cut in half and remove seeds, then slice thinly. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel before slicing thinly. (Do not rinse as this can make the mushrooms tough).
4. Place a large pan with oil over medium heat to heat oil. Rinse chicken cutlets, then season with a pinch of each seasoning. Place seasoned side down, in hot pan and sear for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Season other side and then flip to cook for the same time on the other side.
5. Remove chicken to a plate and add vegetables and remaining seasoning. Let cook for 1 minute before adding liquids to deglaze the pan. Let cook for 3 minutes before adding chicken on top the veggies and reducing heat to medium low. Remove from heat after 3-5 minutes to prevent over cooking the chicken.
6. Add spinach and ingredients to bowl and place in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add butter to quinoa and mix well to melt. Add some of the sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms with quinoa, mix with fork and add to a plate. Top with chicken and more sautéed vegetables and add a serving of spinach to the plate.
8. Enjoy! (A glass of wine is a great addition.😊)