New Reality, New Options

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Hi all! Hope you and your families are well during these difficult times. I know it’s been a while since my last post. So I must say, in this new age amid the Corona virus, I’ve been exploring vegan and vegetarian meal options with the random food shortages. The first week I saw no meat in the multiple stores, I found this vegan gem in Trader Joe’s that made my taste buds rejoice. As a southerner through and through, I love crab cakes. So let me say I was highly skeptical of anything described as a “crab-less crab cake”. Color me surprised that Trader Joe delivered a truly tasty meatless alternative that I quickly went and purchased more of.

In this new age, I will be keeping to my tradition of cooking most of my weekly meals with one “take out option”. Given the pandemic that translates to my girl Sandra’s “semi-homemade” concept.  These frozen “crab cakes” I’ve eaten both with a mixed greens salad and a warmed avocado, cabbage and leek salad. As a part of my path to maintaining healthy, I’m consuming as many prebiotic and probiotic foods as possible. So please note that avocado and leeks, both used in this dish, are probiotic foods which contain the fibers needed to feed the probiotics in your gut which promote good gut health. More than likely, the next few recipes will be focused on this. So amid my home productions of kimchi, kombucha and banana walnut breads (more probiotics :)), I will be sharing other recipes focused on probiotics and probiotics to help keep your body and your gut healthy amid these uncertain times. Stay safe and well and as always let me know your thoughts!

P.S. I’d like to give a shout out to Trader Joe’s and their social distancing practices and the added bonus of the bouquet of flowers they gave each guest in my store!

“Crab cake” salad

Ingredients:

2 jackfruit cakes (trader joes)

Pinch onion powder

Pinch garlic powder

2 cups of mixed greens

1/2 avocado sliced

1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup sliced cucumber

1/4 cup sliced cherry tomato

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp. coconut, avocado or olive oil

Directions:

  1. Defrost “crab cakes” for 1 hour prior to cooking.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet. While heating rinse cucumber, greens and tomato.
  3. Add cakes to the oil.
  4. Add washed greens to a bowl. Peel and slice cucumber before seasoning cakes with onion and garlic powder, then flip.
  5. Slice tomatoes in half and add tomato and cucumber to greens.
  6. Slice avocado and season to taste before adding to salad. Top with vinegar then cakes.


“Crab Cake” and Cabbage

Crab cake ingredients:

2 jackfruit cakes (trader joes)

Pinch onion powder

Pinch garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. coconut, avocado or olive oil

cabbage ingredients:

2 cups of chopped Napa cabbage

1 cup chopped leeks

1 1/2 tsp. coconut, avocado or olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

1/4 cup of water

Directions:

  1. defrost cakes 1 hr before beginning to cook.
  2. Rinse small Napa cabbage, cut in half and then into fourths. Cut a fourth into strips to “shred”
  3. Rinse leeks, cut off tops and save for stock, then cut thick stem into thin ribbons. In a medium pan, add oil and then leeks. Cook for 2 minutes to soften before adding cabbage. Add seasoning, vinegar and water and stir well before reducing heat.
  4. In a small pan heat oil and brown cakes on both sides. Cut a half of avocado and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.
  5. Plate cabbage mix, top with avocado and then crab cakes.

5-Minute Meal

 

Spinach and Chickpea Salad

Sometimes a 5-minute meal is called for and for those, salads are an easy go-to. The trick is to get creative to prevent food boredom. This salad is easy to pair with any fish or chicken you may have already prepared. I am also a fan of a little help from the store with wine such as smoked or pastrami style salmon, low sodium smoked turkey or boiled shrimp. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

½ cup chopped tomatoes

1 can of drained organic chickpeas

¼ cup of diced onion

2 tbsp. shredded basil

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

The juice of one lemon and orange

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp crumbled feta

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.       Rinse and chop spinach and tomatoes and add to a medium bowl.

2.       Drain and rinse chickpeas if not low sodium.

3.       Finely dice onion and chop herbs. Add to the bowl.

4.       Juice citrus over bowl and add seasoning and feta. Mix well and enjoy.

Stewed Sockeye Salmon

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People are often surprised that I include canned fish in my pantry staples. While we all probably prefer fresh seafood any day, it doesn’t mean you should not have a canned option or two in your back pocket for a time where you don’t have time to go to the store, or if you have other financial priorities. One of my favorite dishes as a kid was stewed salmon in a spicy red sauce. My mom would serve it over rice with a salad or a cooked green vegetable. In keeping with that tradition, I cooked some of my thriving backyard greens. Check out he recipe below.

Stewed Salmon

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cans of 14.5 oz sockeye salmon 

1 can of stewed tomatoes 

1 5-7oz can of tomato sauce (no salt)

1 1/2 cups diced onion

1 tbsp. minced or pressed garlic

1/2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 tsp. coarse black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne

Salt to taste (start with 1 tsp)

  1. If serving over rice, cook the desired amount of rice on the stove or in a cooker.
  2. In a medium pot, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Peel and dice onion and add to the pot. Stir.
  3. Mince or press garlic and add to the pot. Add a splash of water. 
  4. Once onions have softened, open and add salmon, stewed tomatoes and sauce.
  5. Gently break stewed tomatoes into smaller pieces against the side of the pot with a spoon. Add seasoning and stir.
  6. Top the pot, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If eating steamed veggies or a salad, prepare it now.
  7. Serve over rice and enjoy.

Easy Meal Prep

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Prepping ahead goes a long way toward helping you stay on budget and curbing the need for take out under the notion of “I don’t have any thing easy to cook at home.” It’s helpful to always keep a couple of quick cook options stocked in the freezer whether leftovers from a large batch of beans or meat sauce, or pre chopped veggies and seasoning that can be added to your protein of choice. Seasonal vegetables like squash, zucchini and potato can last for several months in the freezer and make an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner meal in a pinch. I’ve added sausage and have also smothered it with onion and garlic to go with chicken. It can also be seasoned a variety of ways to keep things interesting.

A quart size bag makes 2 to 3 servings and a gallon would make roughly 6-8 servings. It’s best to chop and freeze it in your preferred quantity. You can always add bell pepper and/or onion (green, white or yellow) to your mix for added flavor. Personally I prefer a higher ratio of the squash and zucchini to the potato for a higher fiber, lower card ratio.

After thoroughly rinsing the veggies, I chopped roughly a cup to 1 1/4 of squash and zucchini and a 1/2 cup of potato. when adding the onion and bell pepper, add only a cup of the first two veggies to make sure the quart size bag has space.

As some of you may have seen last week, I am attempting to add a videos to support these post. That will be a work in progress :). Please share your thoughts and happy prepping!

Satisfaction and Comfort

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I’ve gotten on a kick making bread at home, really just to see if I could. I’ve been surprised that it something that can be done in an hour and even better, that I can  add things like flaxseeds, oats and chia seeds mostly to my hearts content. While baking it was a fun experience, making an open-faced turkey, avocado and tomato sandwich sealed the deal. This was a quick and easy meal that was both filling and satisfying. And there is just something to be said about fresh baked bread. 🙂

Using a teeny tiny avocado, I reserved half for an easy guacamole later in the week and cut slices out of the other half. I mashed a slice for more of an avocado butter to spread on the bread, added the tomato and turkey and the remaining slices on top. This takes all of 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

3oz of Turkey

1/2 small avocado

1/2 medium tomato

 1 slice of bread

Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Warm a slice of bread. 
  2. Cut an avocado in half while it warms and remove the pit. Store one half and cut the other half into slices.
  3. Mash one to two slices on the bread and smear like butter. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Slice 2 to 3 slices of a tomato and add to bread. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Add smoked turkey and top with remaining avocado and red pepper flakes.

Spice Things Up

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Every now and then, I get a craving for some good curry and I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone of yellow curry and try something new. Curry is a wonderfully complex flavor profile that mixes different spices and herbs and it works well with just about any meat or seafood out there. Since I am also a fan of red and green curry dishes, I decided to give red curry a try with ground pork. This was simple and quick and full of flavor. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Red Curry with Pork

1 lb ground pork
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic (8-10 medium cloves)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot (2 medium or 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1 cup of torn fresh basil
1 14oz can coconut milk
7 oz water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over medium heat and warm oil.
2. Add pork to oil and break apart with a spoon.
3. Peel and dice onion and peel and mince garlic. Add to pork with onion powder and half of the salt and pepper and mix well. Cook until pork is browned.
4. Rinse and chop bell pepper and peel and chop a large carrot. Add both to the pot and stir well.
5. Add red curry paste and mix in well. Add coconut milk and fill can halfway with water and add water. Rinse and roughly chop basil and add to the pot.
6. Add remaining seasoning and stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Serve with 1/2 cup of rice and top with fresh basil.

A Bit Of Light

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With life getting in the way, sometimes a light dinner is called for. This dish took 10 minutes to make and was both light and satisfying. I has also made a pitcher of cucumber infused water with basil and lemon earlier in the week which was quite refreshing. The shrimp in this dish can easily be substituted with a piece of seared fish or canned tuna that can be spruced up with fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Check out the recipe below.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. shrimp
1 lemon
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1 small cucumber diced
1 cup diced tomato
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Peel and devein shrimp if whole. Set aside in ice water until ready to use.
2. Rinse and peel cucumber and cut in half. Cut in half horizontally, then make three long strips to make a small dice. Repeat with remaining half.
3. Rinse and score tomato before dicing it. Add tomato and cucumber to a medium-sized bowl.
4. Rinse and chop green onion and add to the bowl. Rinse lemon and cut in half before squeezing one half over bowl.
5. Place a pan over medium heat and add oil. Place shrimp on a paper towel and pat dry. Season with half of the seasonings and add to hot pan.
6. Season other half and let cook for 2 minutes before flipping he shrimp. Let cook for 2 minutes then squeeze in fresh lemon juice (seeded side up). Let cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.
7. Plate in bowls and serve.

 

A Bit Of Green Onion Sausage

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With the dreary weather expected this week, I was in the mood for some jambalaya. I’ve posted before about my preference for traditional New Orleans styled jambalaya with seafood, sausage and a red sauce to boot. I decided to highlight some local green onion sausage that I picked up at Soprano’s supermarket in Livonia parish which is about 30 minutes or so from Baton Rouge on Hwy 190. My dad loves to find gems off the beaten path and Soprano’s green onion sausage certainly makes the list. The sausage is made in house and the store offers both fresh and smoked options as well as other flavor combinations. Green onion sausage is tasty and pretty easy to find, so try a brand that you like and give it a try.

I also picked up some fresh turnips, green onion and red potatoes from the farmers market to make a quick soup with some of the sausage as a second option for meals this week. With a little help from a kohlrabi salad mix (kohlrabi, kale, shredded golden beets) from Trader Joe’s and a quick pickle of shaved turnips and thinly sliced yellow onion, that will be a nice side to my soup meals. For some added sweetness, you can also grate or thinly slice a small red apple into the salad mix. Since I have previously posted a jambalaya recipe, check out the soup and salad recipes below.

Potato, turnip and Sausage Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup diced red potato (2 medium)
1 cup diced turnip root (2 medium)
2 cups chopped turnip greens
1/4 lb green onion sausage
1 small yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 14.5oz can of chicken stock
2 cups of water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and thinly slice onion. Add to a medium pot over medium heat with olive oil. Once it begins to sizzle and brown (2 mins) add 1/2 cup of water to carmalize the onions.
2. Remove green tops 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. The cut in half and dice into medium pieces. Add to the pot with onions and add remaining water and bring to a boil.
4. Rinse potatoes 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.
6. Rinse and chop turnip greens and green onion and add to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Enjoy.

 

Kohlrabi and Kale Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup salad mix
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. local honey
1 tbsp. thinly sliced onion
1 tbsp. thinly sliced turnip
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions.:
1. In a bowl, add vinegar and honey and mix with a fork until dissolved. Add seasonings.
2. Peel and thinly slice a small onion (About two cuts worth). Add to the vinegar.
3. Peel dirty skin from turnip. Rinse peeler and then use to peel thin pieces into the bowl.
4. Let sit for 3-5 minutes then add salad mix and toss well with a fork.
5. Enjoy.

 

A Bit Of Chicken

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I knew this would be a week where I would need to eat dinner quickly to get work done and workouts in, so I went with my favored chicken legs. I am a huge fan of making half the pan of baked chicken flavored different ways and I continued that trend this week with my pan of 10. I seasoned half the chicken with cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and the other half with smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

For sides I rinsed and warmed a can of organic black beans that I mixed with cumin, canned diced tomato and cilantro as one side. I also brought a few ears of corn that I cut off the cob and seasoned with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

For my lunch and dinner this week, I alternated between chicken with those two sides, chicken tacos and a basil and peach salad that all used that original pan of chicken from Sunday.

The chicken took 35 minutes to cook, the black beans 10 minutes to be warmed through and seasoned and the mango pico took 10 minutes to make. I cut the corn off the cob and seasoned it as needed for meals since it doesn’t need to be cooked and also diced tomato and cucumber for salad lunches in the morning before work.

The “cooking” this week took less than an hour for 10 of my 15 workday meals and also totaled $24.91 or 2.49 per meal. It helps if you can pick flavors and main items first and build from there. See the details below and give meal planning a try!

1 can of organic black beans – $.89
1 can diced tomatoes- $.98
2 ears of corn- $.29/each
Romaine and arugula- $7
Chicken legs- $2.31
Hola Tortillas- $2.59
Fresh tomatoes- $5
Cucumbers- $1
Peaches- $2
Mango- $.98
Avocado-$.99
Cilantro- $.59

A Bit Of Flavor

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It was great to celebrate summer produce with a food demo yesterday at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. With beautiful seasonal corn, tomatoes and cucumber in abundance, it served as a great base for a shrimp bowl. Thanks to Anna Marie Seafood Company, Lena Farm, Chenier Farm and the Fekete Farm for great produce and homemade jelly for the dish.

Not only was this a simple dish, but one that was easy to make with two different flavors to mix things up. This is an easy dish to make before hand and store as individual servings in the fridge for go-to lunch or dinner meals during the week. Depending on your preference, you can make the shrimp all at once and either warm the shrimp separate, or eat cool bowls. I prefer to cook the shrimp two servings per person at a time by making individual and double serving-sized ziploc bags of shrimp that I stock in the freezer. Mix and store the dressings in mason jars or small containers and add 1-2 tbsp. to each serving before eating. The base ingredients are for 8 servings and each dressing is for 4 servings. Check out the two recipes below.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups of fresh corn (4-5 ears)
2 cups diced tomato (2-4 small tomatoes)
2 cups of diced cucumber
1 cup micro greens (optional)
1/2 cup green onion

Shrimp ingredients:
2 lbs shrimp (5-6 pieces per serving)
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Dressing 1 ingredients:
2 tbsp. Lena’s hibiscus and bishop crown pepper jelly
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Dressing 2 ingredients:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh orange mint
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. If cooking shrimp all at once, add peeled and deveined shrimp to a large ziploc bag, add seasoning and oil and close it. Massage or shake shrimp to distribute seasoning evenly. Let sit so Flavor soaks in.
2. Shuck and rinse corn to remove strings. In a large bowl, cut corn off of cob into bowl, one at a time.
3. Peel cucumber in one-inch strips leaving some skin for additional nutrients. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut the fourth of cucumber in half horizontally, then into strips before dicing to get a small dice. Repeat with remaining three pieces.
4. On a cutting board score and dice tomato and add to bowl.
5. Rinse and chop green onion and add to bowl. Mix with a spoon and add evenly to individual containers.
6. To make dressing one, add jelly and vinegar to a mason jar or small container and mix with a fork until jelly is dissolved. Add oil and seasoning. Store until ready to use.
7. To make dressing two, chop mint and onion and add to mason jar or container. Add vinegar, oil and seasoning and mix well. Store until ready to use.
8. Heat a large skillet over medium- high heat for two minutes. Add shrimp to skillet in an even, flat layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. *If all of the shrimp doesn’t fit into the skillet, lower heat for the second batch to prevent over cooking shrimp.
9. Add dressing and shrimp to a pre-made bowl and enjoy!