Archives for category: Healthy Meals

delicata squash

delicata squash + various seasonal veggies

rainbow carrots 2

The day after a girls night with glass of wine after glass of wine will make for a slow moving Saturday, and this was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. After making it back to Santa Cruz I grabbed my friend K and headed to New Leaf, where we rambled through the store like a pair of lovers and picked out veggies and spices to put together this savory curry. I also picked up a breakfast burrito and a six pack, to help cure the hangover, because we were both moving at a snails pace this afternoon. The rain and the completely free day made preparing dual curries at her home feel guilt free and productive. I had planned on starting the curry at noon, which would make it perfect to consume six hours later during the SF Giants game 4 of the World Series, even with the extra pair of hands we didn’t end up starting our cookers until 2:30pm and now we have dinner (or breakfast) for Sunday. It was fun to share ingredients and stories with my girl and using the slow cooker made it brainless and left time to take a West Cliff stroll with the doggies. (K made her curry sans chicken and can easily be made veggie or vegan)

Serve with brown or white rice.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of organic boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bunch rainbow carrots, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 (15 oz) can of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 heaping tbs of red curry paste
  • 2 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp gram masala
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf kale, stems removed and chopped

Instructions

  1. Add the chicken thighs to the bottom of your crock pot with the chopped onion and delicata squash.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, tomato sauce, garlic, ginger, curry paste and spices. Once whisked together well, pour it on-top of your chicken and squash in the crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for six hours, adding the kale in the last 15-30 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Serve over rice, cauliflower “rice”, or simply on it’s own! Enjoy!
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spicy-pork-and-mustard-green-soup-940x600

One of the biggest challenges of cooking midweek is the prep work involved. I have recently happily moved into a tiny one bedroom with a miniature kitchen and almost no counter space, so I appreciate the simplicity of this recipe. I recommend buying the bagged kale at your local store if you would like to skip the step of washing and destemming. I was inspired by a recipe from the January 2014 issue of bon appétit. The broth was rich, the spice was right on and the noodles were both delicate and added the needed contrast to the hearty greens. You can substitute dandelion greens, chard or another variety of kale if you prefer.

1/2 lb ground pork
2 garlic gloves
2 tsp. finely grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
4 cups kale
4 scallions, sliced
2 tbsp brags amino acid
1 tsp fish sauce
8oz rice noodles

Mix pork, garlic, ginger and cumin and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in  a soup pot over medium heat. Add pork and brown, breaking up with your spoon. Once the pork is cooked through add the broth and water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the flavors meld. Add the kale, scallions, soy sauce and fish sauce and cook until the greens are tender. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to directions, drain and set aside. Once the soup is ready, place noodles in each bowl and ladle the soup over them. It was even better the next day after the broth had developed more! Photo Feb 19, 8 04 16 PM

hualalai

I am insanely lucky to have the best family and friends who love me unconditionally. I have no idea how I got so blessed. They are there to support me, inspire me with their many talents, pick me up when I’m down, go on crazy adventures with me, listen, laugh, be stupid with, and make me want to be a better version of myself. To top off my blessings this month I am so very excited to be going on a solo trip to Hawaii tomorrow where I will be meeting my wonderful parents and connecting with old friends. It is always a good idea to get away and take care of yourself, even if it means going for a hike, getting a massage or simply eating a good meal with a friend (or solo). My best friend came over for dinner tonight and we decided we would do a healthy Hawaiian inspired meal. I got most of the ingredients at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market, which I try to make time to visit as often as possible. We were busy chatting and catching up on life, so the measurements and ingredient list are approximations today, but I’m confident that these are simple enough to copy.

rainbow chard

For the Greens (recipe inspiration from my beautiful vegan friend Lindsey):

I picked up Red Russian Kale and the above picture Rainbow Chard at the Santa Cruz Downtown Farmer’s Market. Cut the ends off the chard, take the stems out of kale, or in my case ask your girlfriend to rip the leaves while your prep the seafood. If you use Lacinato (also called Tuscan) make sure you get rid of the stems, they are tough, kitchen scissors are helpful. Baby Kale is a good alternative if you do not want to do the prep work, and we’re lucky to have some great local options. Roughly chop the greens. Blanch the greens by placing them in a colander or strainer and pour boiling water very slowly over the greens. Lindsey recommended using a tea pot and it worked perfectly.

Place greens in a bowl and toss with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, salt, ground red chili flakes and a dash of soy sauce to taste. Use your best judgement depending on how many greens your using. When toasting sesame seeds (you can use black or white) it is easier to use a soup pot because they bounce about and easily burn so keep them moving.

You can make this dish with any greens, such as broccolini, green beans, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, asparagus….

red russian kale

For the Hawaiian inspired fish (sorry Lindsey):

I used tilapia because it was fresh and the right price. You can use any white fish, like halibut, that takes on the flavor of what you are cooking. I added 1 tablespoon of canola oil and a little butter to a frying pan. Add 1-2 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic and let soften. Salt and pepper the tilapia and add to the pan. Flip the fish. You can break it up a little if you like. Add a dash of white wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer on very low.

For a little tropical addition that I usually use on my fish tacos, I made a basic mango salsa with:

1 ripe mango
fresh lime
1/2 diced red onion
cilantro
salt
jalapeño or serrano

I used pretty cilantro sprouts I found at the Farmer’s Market as a garnish on the fish, I love micro greens, especially arugula and sunflower.

The BEST part of this meal was spending time with a dear friend, fresh ingredients, and simplicity. This is what life is about. Aloha!

Photo Jan 15, 7 25 51 PM (1) tropical-dinner-036 Photo Jan 15, 7 27 16 PM (2)

Super Slim down Summer, wait Spring, I mean now, I mean yesterday…

Oh! Is it the holidays? In honor of me not honoring the holidays with a Thanksgiving post, I give you two recipes you cannot live without. First: Salad Dressing for every occasion.

This dressing is versatile and approved by most, if not all preferences. I think every woman in my family has asked for the recipe at least three times. Looking back, it makes more sense that we either wanted my mother to just make the dressing herself, or we lacked the organizational skills to master this simple, ridiculously basic recipe. This is the basic dressing you want to put onto a salad you luck into.. for example, when i was asked if i could use the 2 fresh cracked crab someone wanted to give me…I made a salad out of crab, avocados, cucumbers, a little mango salsa + THIS DRESSING. Yum. This insanely simple recipe is something every man, woman, child, aunt, friend, neighbor should know. It is JUST salad dressing people.

1 small garlic clove, salt and pepper, a little red pepper flake mince those all together (infuse the garlic)

About a half teaspoon Dijon

Add 2-3 Meyer lemons

Whisk in olive oil 3:1 ratio olive oil to lemon

USE FOR EVERYTHING

I am definitely in hibernation mode with the time change and just want to get cozy. I made this dish earlier in the week and despite my general dislike of meals planned around chicken it was tasty and we could have happily had it two nights in a row. I had the itch to get in the kitchen so I came up with this remarkably easy and healthy little dish. I am pretty sure anyone can throw this together, leaving plenty of time to snuggle up and get comfy.

As always this truly was inspired by my mother sneaking veggies to our meals. I added Heirloom Spinach, from the local farm Church Bros in Salinas, as well as mini zucchinis to the traditional Mexican inspired ingredients. The spinach did manage to turn the turkey slightly purple but it was unnoticeable once the casserole was assembled.

Photo Nov 12, 5 31 37 PM

Ingredients
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 diced yellow onion
6 sliced mini zucchinis
1/2 pound spinach or substitute for kale or other greens
1 diced jalapeño (omit if you don’t like it spicy)
1/2 envelope of taco seasoning
2/3 cup frozen corn (the only kind I use is the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s, so much flavor)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (you can use reduced fat if you prefer)

Garnishes
Avocado
Non-fat sour cream
Scallions
Black olives

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the onions and zucchini and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the greens and cook down. Stir in the taco seasoning, 2/3 cup water, and the corn. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, then stir in the black beans.

3. Lay 4 tortillas on the bottom of the pan, and spoon half of the meat mixture on top. Cover with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Top with 4 more tortillas and the remaining meat mixture. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over the top.

4. Bake the casserole until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Slice and serve, topped with scallions and sour cream.

Photo Nov 12, 5 31 07 PM

(slightly purple, but it turned out yummy)

My attempts at a pretty radish and fennel salad are coming, I’m happily getting my mandolin slicer in the mail on Friday, so we will see what I can create.

e0618e7d2a222af2_Cubed-Butternut-Squash.preview

It officially feels like Fall in Santa Cruz. The mornings are chilly and I turned the heat on in the evenings for the first time since Spring. The weather calls for hearty soups and stews, celebrating the flavors of the season. Instead I chose this recipe to share, mainly because I had made a soup earlier in the week (white bean and kale) that the boyfriend and I have been living on since then and I cannot possibly swallow another bowl of hearty goodness. Secondly, because I’m picking up a sample of organic root veggies I want to showcase next week. Oh, and I got not one, not two, but THREE high fives during dinner. This kind of enthusiasm over a simple healthy dish, keeps a smile on my face. I was inspired by my favorite, go-to food blog http://www.smittenkitchen.com

For the Bowl
1 cup dried rice or another cooking grain of your choice
1 package pre-cubed butternut squash
2 broccoli crowns
8-10 white mushrooms (sliced)
1 small package firm tofu
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt (I like the pink Himala Salt)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

For the miso-ginger dressing
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 small garlic gloves, minced
2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot pepper sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oilPhoto Nov 06, 7 22 28 PM

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook grain according to instructions. I like to use Better than Buillon and a tiny bit of butter.

Cut broccoli into bite size florets. Slice mushrooms. Cut tofu into bite size pieces as well. (my mother will still tell me to cut something into bite size pieces, when I’m being her sous chef, I think it’s a pretty accurate and obvious description of how food should be cut)

Coat one baking tray with a thin slick of olive oil, I cover mine with aluminum foil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until slightly bubbly and the aroma is filling the room. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli, tofu and mushrooms to the tray, season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly.

In a small skillet, toast black and white sesame seeds until fragrant. I love sesame seeds. I also love poppy seeds. I love the added texture.

While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth.

Scoop rice in each bowl, top with veggies, dressing and sesame seeds. Keep the extra dressing handy in a bowl at the table.

Photo Nov 05, 5 22 42 PM

Photo Nov 06, 6 38 25 PM

I’m a cucumber freak, I put cucumbers in everything I can, including my guacamole and my cocktails. So, I served the Miso Bowls with sliced cucumber and baby carrots like my mom probably packed in my school lunches. While not entirely sophisticated, it rounded out the meal for us, and provided a way for the boyfriend to consume more ginger laden miso sauce by dipping the veggies in the leftovers.