Veg Forward Meals

 

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I decided to cleanse my palate with a couple vegetarian dishes this week and decided on a chickpea and millet salad with an array of sliced veggies in a citrus vinaigrette. This dish took 20 minutes to make and will hold up well in the fridge this week. I decided to use canned organic chickpeas and at 99 cents at Trader Joe’s, it was an easy yes to pay and extra 20 cents for the organic option. Regardless it is still important to rinse any canned beans to remove extra salt from your dish.

As a second meal this week, since I am still craving avocado and have the fixings, I’m thinking another round of veggie bowls are in order with some black beans, sautéed mushroom, onion and peppers with cilantro rice, sour cream and fresh guacamole. The rice, beans and sautéed vegetables can all be prepared ahead of time where the only thing to make is fresh guacamole per serving which takes all of three minutes.

Check out the recipe below for the chickpea and millet salad. If you are interested in the veggie bowl dish, I have posted a similar recipe in my A Bowl of Fun post.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup millet dry
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup sliced asparagus
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup diced yellow or red onion
1 14 oz can organic chickpeas
4 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped orange mint (or reg. mint)
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 juicing oranges)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Toast millet over medium high heat for 2 minutes by gently shaking the pot and flipping the millet with a fork or spoon. Add water and bring to a boil and then reduce heat, top it (to cook like rice) for 15 minutes.
2. While the millet cooks, wipe mushrooms (about 4) and slice thinly and set aside. Peel and dice a small onion and add about 1/2 cup and mushrooms to a small skillet. Sauté over medium heat for three minutes to soften.
3. Rinse asparagus. Take one spear and bend lightly until it breaks naturally. Use this as a measurement to cut remaining spears. Thinly slice asparagus on an angle and set pile aside.
4. Rinse and dice one to two small tomatoes and set aside. Rinse and chop parsley and mint.
5. Add onion and mushroom mix to a medium-sized bowl and other vegetables. Once millet is cooked and still hot, add on top of the veggies and mix well. The steam with help soften the vegetables.
6. Open and rinse the can of chickpeas and add to the bowl. Rinse and roll the lemon and oranges and cut each in half. Add the herbs and juice oranges and half a lemon directly over the mixture.
7. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste. (Start with 1 tsp. of sea salt and a coarse black pepper.)
8. Enjoy!

Soups and Stews

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Good comfort food can go a long way. I was determined to chomp into some hearty beef stew and decided to crock pot it to make sure the beef was tender enough for my braces. I went for the traditional with potatoes, carrots and onion. I decided to try the multi-colored carrots for some added flavor and variety. This was easy to prep and toss into the crockpot for 5 hours. My crockpot is set to warm after the cooking time, so it was perfect to stay warm the additional 30 minutes I needed before dinner. Note: I prefer more of a cross between soup and stew and don’t often make a roux, but you can certainly add a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch to make a thicker sauce with water or stock before adding it to the crockpot. Depending on how long you plan to be away determines whether you should set it to cook low or high so that it’s not over cooked. If you plan to put it on before leaving for a workday, I would recommend a low cooking temp for a longer cook time (I.e. 8 hours). You will also want to cut the carrots and potato into larger chunks so they still have texture.

also decided to dip into my freezer stash of gumbo that I make each season. I opted for the spicy chicken and sausage for an alternate meal in between servings of stew. Check out the recipe below. I hope you find it as easy and enjoyable as I do.

Beef Stew
5 large red potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. cubed stew meat
1 cup of stock (beef or chicken)
1 cup of water
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. corse black pepper
1 tsp. Cayenne (optional)

Directions:
1. Rinse potatoes then cut in half longways and then into fourths. Add to crockpot.
2. Rinse and peel carrots 2 carrots (unless purchased prepped) and cut into medium pieces. Add to pot.
3. Peel and dice onion and mince garlic and add to pot.
4. Add beef, seasoning and liquid. Stir well, top and set timer on the crockpot.
5. Serve with rice if desired.
6. Enjoy!

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!