Pico and Salsa

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As a big taco and bean bowl fan, both frequently find their way onto my menu since it can be prepared with practically any protein and veggies of choice. For my wild rice and black bean bowls this go round, I wanted some fresh mango pico de gallo. Since I made a large quantity, I knew I could also blend leftovers with a couple additional ingredients for salsa. The salsa of course is great with chips, but  is an easy way to get in extra servings of vegetables by dipping carrots, jicama sticks or broccoli for some added crunch packed with nutrients. Check out the recipes for both below.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

2 large mango

3 medium tomato

2 jalepeno diced

1 cup diced onion

1 juiced lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse all fruit and peppers well.
  2. Peel mango by cutting off each end and standing it up to cut away skin. Cut off mango around pitted center. (Think of cutting peach slices from around the core.) Dice mango small.
  3. Peel and dice onion. Slice jalepeno in half longwise and remove seeds if preferred before dicing.
  4. Add to a medium bowl. Dice tomato and add to bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over mixture. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy. 

Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

1/2 large mango

2 large tomato

1 jalepeno diced

1/2 cup diced onion

3 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Rinse all fruit, herbs and peppers well.
  2. Peel mango by cutting off each end and standing it up to cut away skin. Cut off mango around pitted center. (Think of cutting peach slices from around the core.) 
  3. Peel and dice onion. Slice jalepeno in half longwise and remove seeds if preferred.
  4. Cut tomato into fourths and add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth or fine.
  5. Enjoy.

Salmon with Flavor

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Eating at least two servings of fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, is a great way to get it good omega 3s which are great for heart health. Pair it with a healthy fat like avocado and you’ve got a dual hit of nutrients needed for brain health and cognition! Fish is easy to come by whether canned, frozen or fresh. These days the challenge comes in whether to get wild caught options or farm raised as nutritionally, the fish seem equal. There is lots of literature out there about sustainability with wild caught and contaminants in farm raised options, so certainly there is no wrong choice.

For this dish I used a frozen wild caught salmon fillet that was large enough for two.  I was inspired by my Granny who cooked the salmon when my mom and I visited for Memorial day. She has been seriously loving youtube and all of its infinite wisdom which has inspired her to get in the kitchen! I love the use of simple flavors like lemon, garlic and honey and the flavor it can bring to a humble salmon fillet. Leftover fish would be great over some arugula as a salad. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Garlic Lemon Seared Salmon

1 1lb fillet of salmon

1/2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil 

1 juiced lemon

1 grated cloves of garlic 

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup wild rice

1 1/2 water 

1 cup fresh Swiss chard

Directions:

  1. Bring water and rice to a boil in a small pot. Cook as described on package.
  2. Heat a large sized skillet over medium high heat and add oil.
  3. Season fish on one side with salt and pepper and place seasoned side down into skillet. Season other side and cook for three minutes.
  4. Flip and squeeze in lemon juice and cook for another three minutes. Turn off heat and continue cooking on residual heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse and chop Swiss chard and wilt into rice. 
  6. Plate rice and Swiss chard mix with fish.
  7. Enjoy!

Energy On The Go

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Homemade snacks are a must when you want satisfying and healthy that you can control. I love to test our new ideas and combinations from what I’ve learned from others, what people have shared and what I just find will quench my curiosity. I’ve been exploring different types of energy bites which include a combination of nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruit and oats. I’ve gotten a couple of crows pleasers and wanted to share my personal new favorite. Check out the recipe below.

Energy Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup dry oatmeal

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. honey or 100% maple syrup

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup almond butter

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup chopped almonds

3 tbsp. chia seeds

3 tbsp. hemp seeds

1/8 cup chopped figs

 

Directions:

1. Add oatmeal to a medium bowl, then nut butters. Roughly chop walnuts, almonds and dates.

2. Add nuts, seeds, cinnamon and honey or syrup and mix well with a spoon.

3. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper. Refrigerate and store in a medium container. (you can freeze extra for later use if preferred in Ziploc bags).

Pesto Quinoa

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Pesto brings lots of flavor to any dish and quinoa is no exception. Making pesto at home is easy and allows control over how much of what goes into it. I used fresh basil, orange mint, green onion, garlic and walnuts that I had on hand with a small amount of oil.  Paired with sautéed shrimp, baked chicken and roasted vegetables done two ways, it was easy to have different meals daily. Having the right cooking strategy for your week is important to being successful in eating more home cooked meals. For this week, I did the baked chicken, roasted vegetables and quinoa on the same day. The next day, I defrosted a couple of single serving bags of shrimp while I ate breakfast and cooked them afterward (5 mins). I also keep things on-hand like individual packs of tuna (ranch, herb and garlic flavored) and salad greens or canned chicken for and easy chicken salad if I need a little more variety in the week. The important thing is to stock up on healthful, easy options regularly (monthly, weekly) to supplement what you will be cooking.

Check out the recipe below. Serves 5-6.

Pesto Ingredients:

1/2 cup basil

1/4 cup mint

1/4 cup green onion tops

1 clove of garlic 

1 tbsp. chopped walnuts

1 tsp. avocado or olive oil

Roasted Veggie Ingredients:

2 cups chopped zucchini with skin

2 cups chopped carrots 

2 cups chopped broccoli 

2 cups chopped bell pepper

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 

1 tbsp. lemon olive oil (or regular and 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice)

1 tbsp. garlic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

Other ingredients:

1 cup quinoa dry

2 cups of water

6-8 chicken legs

  • 5-10 shrimp (optional)

1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a second baking sheet with foil and add chicken with an even coating of the seasoning and oil and mix with a gloved hand. Place in oven for 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse all vegetables. Cut ends off zucchini then cut in half. Cut each half  in half longwise. Cut into strips and then cube. Repeat with carrots.  Cut bell pepper in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips and then dice. Add all to the baking sheet and roughly break broccoli florets by hand and add them. 
  4. Split vegetables in half and season half with the balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil and the other with the sherry vinegar and lemon olive oil or juice and regular olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and mix each well with a gloved hand. Bake in oven next to chicken for 30 minutes. Set timer.
  5. Add quinoa and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small blender or bullet device, add pesto ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth.
  7. Once quinoa is done, add to a bowl and and pesto. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once roasted veggies and chicken is done, remove from the oven. Turn it off.
  9. Enjoy!

*For optional shrimp, cook in 1 tsp of oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic powder for 2 minutes. Juice a half a lemon over shrimp and flip them. Add a little more juice and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute as it will continue cooking.

Pepper Steak

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Pepper steak is incredibly comforting and easy to make. Best of all, it fits in one. It can be eaten with mashed potatoes or your favorite rice dish and makes great leftovers. I love to add different vegetables like peppers, mushrooms and onion, but you can always add your favorite mix of seasonal veggies. Sauteed leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or other greens make a great side dish. But for this go round I topped it with micro greens for the same nutrient packing punch with less of the chewing. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Pepper Steak

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large thick cut filet or ribeye steaks 

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium onion

1 container of crimini mushrooms

1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste 

1/2 cup of water

3 large red potatoes 

1/2 tbsp. butter 

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cube potatoes and add to water. Slice 1/2 of the onion into thin slices and add to pot.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. 
  3. Lightly season steaks on one side with garlic powder, a pinch of salt and pepper. Place season side down in the  skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Season other side.
  4. Rinse and chop bell pepper into large pieces. Cut large mushrooms into fourths and smaller in half.
  5. Flip steaks and move one side of the skillet. Add peppers and mushrooms. 
  6. Peel and slice onion into thin slices. Add to the skillet and add 1/2 cup of water.
  7. Reduce heat to simmer and top up pan. Cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Strain potatoes and onions and add 1/2 tbsp of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Mash until chunky smooth.
  9. Plate and top with micro greens. (Optional)

Discover Farro

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I love to try out new whole grains, especially those that are versatile. Farro definitely makes the cut as a wonderfully nutritious grain that is kind of like a cross between rice and pasta. High in fiber and containing lower levels of gluten, farro is a great option to help lower risk for diseases such as heart disease and inflammatory diseases. To make it even better, Trader Joe’s offers a quick cook option of farro which makes it great as an option for a quick meal during the week. It’s easy enough to change up vegetables and flavor profiles with additions such as chickpeas or chicken, other herbs or a variety of vegetables. And with a cook and prep time of just about 17 minutes, it’s a hard, easy meal to pass up. This is a great meatless Monday option and can easily serve as a side to sautéed or grilled chicken, shrimp or dish. I typically like to make about 2 servings of chicken and shrimp to change things up and add a side salad or roasted vegetables. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts! 

Farro Salad

Salad Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes 

2 cups frozen spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced red onion

3 tbsp. feta cheese

1 1/2 cups dry quick cook farro

Sauce ingredients:

Juice of 1 lime

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 scallions 

Pinch of water 

Directions:

  1. Put a medium pot of water over medium high heat to boil.
  2. While waiting for water to boil, wipe off excess dirt from mushrooms and slice thinly. Slice about 1/2 or a small red onion and add mushrooms and onion to a skillet with 1 cup of water. Simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally. 
  3. Add farro to water once boiling and set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir once to prevent sticking. Cook frozen spinach in microwave for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Quarter about 6 cherry tomatoes and add to a medium bowl. Turn off mushrooms and onion once water evaporates.
  5. Using a small blender or bullet or ninja device, add sauce ingredients and blend well.
  6. Strain farro and add in spinach. Stir to help cool the farro and further cook spinach. Add to the bowl with tomatoes. Add in mushrooms and onion, sauce and add feta cheese.
  7. Serve and enjoy. 

Not Your Average Stir fry

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I’ve been exploring plant-based proteins as an option for at least one, meatless options during the week. I decided to venture out with firm tofu which I’ve had in various dishes but have never prepared at home. From what I know, tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it  with. I decided that strong flavors like garlic and ginger would be a great first try with an array of vegetables. The tofu did crisp up nicely on the ends and remained a soft, meaty  texture. I’ll definitely explore other flavor profiles and combos like perhaps shrimp with tofu as I really enjoyed how it came out! Please share your thoughts and tips on tofu preparation; I’m all ears! 🙂 Check of it the recipe below.

Garlic Ginger Tofu Stir Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

16oz firm tofu 

1 12oz-16oz bag of frozen broccoli defrosted

1 cup sliced sweet peppers chopped

2 cups of chopped zucchini (1 large)

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil

1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger

1 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. honey

1 tbsp. coarse black pepper 

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce 

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 cups cooked rice 

Directions:

  1. Mix soy sauce and honey in a medium bowl with a fork until honey dissolves. Add sesame oil, juice and seasoning and mix well.
  2. Cut tofu block in half, then strips to cube it. Add tofu to larger bowl and coat in sauce. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. (Can also marinade overnight or in the morning before work.)
  3. Cook rice following cooking instruction. *optional: add 1 tbsp of flaxseed to rice for added nutrients.
  4. Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add oil.
  5. Add tofu to hot skillet with a fork or straining spoon (save marinade juice for remaining vegetables) and sear well on each side until brown. While it sears, chop onion and zucchini into large chunks and cut peppers into strips.
  6. Remove tofu and add vegetables. Add a splash (1/8 cup) of water and let steam for 3-5 minutes. 
  7. Add back tofu and remaining sauce and stir until everything is evenly coated. Cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Serve over 1/2 cup cooked rice.