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Welcome to my food blog!

Featuring delicious recipes made healthier and reviews to give you some new ideas.

Everyday Salad

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Meal Recipes, Side Dishes | Posted on 28-06-2009

Everyday Salad

So…an everyday salad.  Sounds silly to post a recipe for any old salad since you can throw any vegetable in it and make a decent salad.  But this one…it never fails, it’s simple, you don’t have to go to a specialty store to make it and it’s budget friendly!  It’s a sort of copycat recipe from an old restaurant called Little Roma- a couple of Croatian brothers ran it and made this salad either as an entree or starter salad.  I have been in the mood for it lately, and since the restaurant shut down a couple of years ago (they’re running a Greek place now) - I decided just to make it for myself, and it’s every bit as good as I remember it.  They used iceberg mixed with whatever greens they had, but I just use the lettuce picked from my Dad’s garden along with the farmer’s market specials.  However, this salad is great because it’s easy to find these ingredients in winter as well!   When I’m not making this salad, I usually get carried away having fun throwing all kinds of different veggies, fruits and nuts into my salad…sometimes sprinkling gomasio with seaweed on it as well.

I snack all day long, I basically never stop eating.  I decided with having to be in a swimsuit coming up, that I could stand to lose a couple of pounds.  Literally, just a couple, and after not even a week of replacing one snack a day with this simple salad (I’m not sick of it yet!) and not eating a half a bag of Vic’s Popcorn (light/half salt) at night hanging out with my husband watching something on TV…I’ve already accomplished it!  Oh, and I do not measure it and make a pretty darn big bowl.  If I buy an average organic mix in the plastic container at the grocery store, I probably use about a half to third of it.  In the picture above, much of the vegetables fell to the bottom after mixing.  Some people would call this salad a meal, but unless there’s lots of protein and something else on the side, this could only satisfy me for a snack.  It is a big salad though so it may fill you up.  I think Elaine would classify it as a big salad as well.

Ingredients:

  • lettuce, mixed greens, baby greens
  • tomatoes, I prefer around 4-6 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered 
  • seedless cucumber, a couple of inches worth, chopped up
  • yellow or vidalia onion, finely minced (about a half of a ring slice, or a half of a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)
  • sliced black olives, I buy jumbo ones and slice them myself, about 5
  • green pepper, finely chopped - about 1-2 teaspoons, I just use the size of 1 or 2 fajita sized pieces
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan, romano or little feta bits

Method:

  • Chop up all of your veggies
  • Put that lettuce in a bowl, add the veggies, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • freshly grate some cheese on top - or sprinkle the feta
  • mix, enjoy!

I don’t see any point in measuring out my olive oil or counting calories.  I did it after college for awhile and it didn’t do me any good.  Plus, for a semester of college I studied in Valencia, Spain.  They probably fed me about a half a cup of olive oil daily…or more!  It was wonderful and I actually lost weight there practically drinking the stuff and not trying in the least!  Well, now that I think about it, I also lived with an 85 year old lady we called, “abuela” and she tried to feed me mystery meat one too many times so I always requested vegetables, sardines and tortilla Espanola.  She called me, “la de las verduras.”  Had I lived with a different family, I still think the same would hold true because for the most part, processed foods weren’t popular at the time.  Their frozen vegetable mixes are much better over there by the way.  In Spain, they just ate good food and didn’t worry about calories or diet products.  Well…I take that back, I did meet a few young women who existed on Coca Cola and cigarettes, but for the most part, just live and eat and have fun!  You also learn that same lesson traveling to Italy.   Okay, sorry, I’m diverging much too much. 

Back to the salad: my mom prefers it with garlic salt.  My son likes to sit on my lap and pierce everything with a fork and feed it to me.  This takes forever so I try to make this as a snack after he naps, but he does have fun and every so often eats a lettuce or spinach leaf while he’s at it.  If he can have fun with my salad and get a little taste here and there, even better!  I’d also like to mention the raw onion in there.  I typically only like cooked onions, especially caramelized onions.  The crunch and strong flavor of raw onion and the aftertaste and breath are not appealing to me, but by mincing just a little bit of onion in there, the crunch and flavor blitz doesn’t happen and the flavor is nicely distributed throughout.  If it weren’t for those Croatian boys, I’d never have put raw onions in my salad.

Oat Flour Crepes

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Breakfast Recipes | Posted on 26-06-2009

Oat Flour Crepes

It’s my hazelnut chocolate thing again… well and coconut.  I guess I wasn’t done after the Nutella bars!!!  These crepes are amazing!   Honestly, delicious… just the right consistency with a hint of coconut.  The crepes are nourishing, but what you choose to put in is is where it ends up really being healthy or not.  I chose to put a thin layer of Nutella (making it less healthy of course) with some strawberries and bananas.  Excellent combination.  However, it would be mighty tasty with almond butter, strawberries and bananas.  Or even a thin layer of cheese.  I think the cheese would work nicely with the coconut - a little sweet and savory. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (gluten-free if you buy gluten-free oat flour or oats and grind them)
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 Tb melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tb agave nectar

Method:

  • Whisk coconut oil with coconut milk, add eggs and whisk together, add agave and mix
  • Add oat flour and mix with blender on high.  Without using a blender, the oat flour is too lumpy - there isn’t much gluten in oat flour so you shouldn’t need to worry about over-mixing and making it tough - but if you substitute another flour, take that into consideration (another flour may not be as lumpy as oat flour anyway)
  • Pre-heat a large pan on medium-high and add some grease (butter, spray, coconut oil, whatnot)
  • Add scant 1/4 cup to 1/4 cup of batter, move pan around a little to spread batter (OR, use a crepe maker if you’re cool enough to have one, I am not) - flip when edges start to brown slightly - leave on pan for about 30 seconds and crepe should be done!

Add your favorite crepe toppings and delight your taste-buds.

Did you notice the plate?  It says CHOW!  I found it at Super Target and although it’s normally something I wouldn’t buy, I just couldn’t resist.  Perfect!

ALSO…today’s the day I’m announcing the winner of the Stonyfield Farm YoBaby contest!  Random.org picked #5, and excluding my comments, Gina wins!  Congratulations Gina!  And thanks for commenting.

Shepherd’s Pie With Red Wine

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Ann's Favorites, Meal Recipes | Posted on 25-06-2009

Shepherd's Pie With Red Wine

If I see Shepherd’s Pie on the menu anywhere (or something like it) I have to order it!  It’s the ultimate in comfort food with a nice bonus of vegetables.  Unfortunately, it’s not on too many menus in Omaha so I’m forced to make it myself.  Luckily, I found an amazing recipe from Saveur which I’ve tweaked to suit my needs…  as usual.  This recipe calls for lamb - making it shepherd’s pie, but if you don’t want to buy it for any reason, you can substitute ground beef and call it cottage pie!  That’s yummy too.  I love cooking with different meats, in fact, on Father’s Day we had some delicious braised goose with polenta, but we gobbled it up before I could take a picture so I thought I’d make lamb this time.  For a little fyi, I bought some grass-fed lamb at the farmer’s market, and it actually doesn’t taste any better than the lamb at the grocery store.  Interesting since the grass-fed beef is about a million times better than the grocery store versions (I’m talking no added hormone version).  I will continue to buy the grass-fed regardless since it’s better for you, but this lamb was really no different.  Depending on the cut of lamb you buy, you may have to do some major fat-cutting!  Lamb can be pricey, so it’s just more work cutting out fat if you buy a fattier piece.  I can’t stand chewing on fat so I’ll work forever cutting it off if I have to.  If anyone knows of a good butcher in Omaha, let me know!

This kind of food makes my husband happy.  However, this takes forever to make and makes quite a mess!  If you’ve got small kids, I suggest a babysitter or definitely some help before attempting!  In this case, my mom was around to help.  We started at nap-time and then when my son woke up, my mom entertained him so I could keep cooking.  Otherwise, I don’t think I would attempt making anything this time consuming!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 lbs lamb (any cut that’s on sale, cut into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 15oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 2 Tb flour (or if you’re gluten-intolerant, just substitute what you normally would to thicken gravy)
  • 1 Tb finely chopped FRESH rosemary leaves, fresh rosemary makes a huge difference here!
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried, 1 TB fresh if you have it, I didn’t
  • a few dashes of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 2-3 large russet potatoes, depending on how much you want, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup chicken stock to lighten up the mashed potatoes

Method:

  • Pre-heat non-stick casserole dish to medium-high on stove-top (I use the same oven-safe kind so I don’t have to dirty up 2 dishes, but use a pan if you don’t have a transferrable pan)
  • Add enough butter to coat and brown lamb - you’ll have to work with 1/4 to 1/3 of the lamb at a time, removing to a bowl to brown up the next batch.  Add more butter as necessary, remove all lamb to bowl
  • Add onion, shallot and carrots to pan and cook until onion is see-through and browns a little, about 5 minutes
  • Return lamb (and all juices) to pan and add flour, whisk for about a minute.  You can also coat the lamb w/ flour first if you want to or if you forget the flour, just add it when you add the juices, it’ll all work out
  • Add beef stock, wine, rosemary, thyme and nutmeg, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover about 2 hours, until lamb is tender - yours may cook much faster, so keep checking.  stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove cover from pot, add tomatoes, keep simmering until thickened, about 35-40 minutes.  Remove from heat and add peas, add salt and pepper to taste, transfer to 2 quart casserole dish
  • Pre-heat oven to 375
  • Cover potatoes with water in a separate pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes, drain, return to pot.  Add half and half (or chicken stock if you’re making it lighter) and a few tablespoons of butter and mash with a potato masher.  Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Top lamb mixture with mashed potatoes, here’s your opportunity to make those potatoes pretty.  I used 2 instead of 3 potatoes in the picture above, so more of the lamb mixture juices bubble over to the potatoes.  Yummmmm.  Slice thin slivers of butter on top of potatoes - about a tablespoon or two
  • Bake until the potatoes turn golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes

…a little note about the potatoes, it’s prettier when you use three potatoes, but the last time I made this with three and had leftovers, I ended up getting a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy basically.  So, this time I made it with two instead of three for leftover’s sake.  It would’ve pictured even prettier had I used 3 but of course, I wasn’t thinking of looks, just of the flavor.  I need to remember that I have a food blog and it needs to look pretty, not just taste yummy.  It takes me awhile to learn my lessons but trust me, it’s goooood!

Nutella Crispy Bars

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Cookie and Bar Recipes | Posted on 23-06-2009

Nutella Crispy Bars

I really do have an obsession with hazelnut and chocolate together.  Really.  I felt like making the peanut butter flax crispy bars but decided to experiment with some hazelnut ones instead and I’m glad I did!  They’re sweet, crunchy, hazelnutty with the undertones of coconut flavor that just gives the hazelnut a little umph to say, “I’m here!”  My personal taste testers all approved, including my cousin, Erica, who is as or more obsessed with hazelnut chocolate than myself!  I first ran to the store to buy some natural marshmallows but unfortunately, the only place that has those is Whole Foods and I didn’t feel like driving there.  I would’ve bought the regular marshmallows at the store but felt pretty miffed that they have to add Blue coloring #4.  Is it really necessary to add color to get them to be as bright white as possible.  Would you not buy them if they were white but not so bright?  Out of personal defiance, I decided to just figure something else out.  (I’ll bet made with marshmallow they would’ve been excellent also!) 

Oh, and I am aware that Nutella is really not healthy, but if you read the About Me page; I mention I throw all that out the window when it comes to Italian foods, but otherwise, I made an attempt at making these as healthy as possible!  I know I can try making my own Nutella, I’ve seen quite a few recipes but I just don’t want to.  By the way, I’ve also tried many organic or healthier versions of Nutella but so far haven’t been impressed.  I’d made it a little more hazelnutty, a little less sugary and milk chocolaty, and it’d be perfect.  Grown up Nutella.  So far, I don’t think anyone has accomplished that so I’ll stick with my kid Nutella- the real deal! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal (did you know they also make brown rice cereal?  yes they do!  try that instead for a little extra boost of nutrition!)

Method:

  • Grease 9×13 inch pan
  • Toast hazelnuts in 350 degree oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes - allow to cool slightly and remove some of the skins with a paper towel, the ones that stay on are fine.
  • With a blender or food processor (I recommend food processor because blenders are much harder to clean with nuts), chop until some are finely ground but some are still slightly chunky, like chunky peanut butter size chunks
  • In a saucepan on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, heat brown sugar and agave nectar until it starts to boil - turn down to medium and keep stirring a few more minutes, remove from heat, add coconut, flaxseed and Nutella, stir well.  Let mixture cool for a few minutes, add hazelnuts and chocolate chips
  • In a large bowl, add the crispy rice cereal, then slowly add the hot mixture mixing until all rice cereal is covered (I use a strong spatula to mix and get bits off the side of the pan and bowl) transfer to the 9×13 inch pan and flatten.  If you’re impatient like me, just throw it in the fridge to allow it to set - once cooled, it does not need to be refrigerated

YoBaby Review and Giveaway

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 21-06-2009

YoBaby Family of Products

I don’t recall exactly when it was, 6 months? when I started feeding my son yogurt.  We started with the Stonyfield Farm YoBaby plain yogurt and added organic fruit puree to it.  He loved it!  Feeding him yogurt this way made me feel great because there were no added sugars!  Also, you’re supposed to feed your baby full-fat yogurt and the kid stuff is usually reduced-fat.  Plus, it’s organic, and with their tiny bodies growing at such a fast rate, I feel it’s best to give as much organic as you can.  At around 10 months he even ate some mashed avocado, banana and yogurt mixed together!  I froze the mixture in an ice cube tray but by the end he refused to eat the last few cubes.  Bummer.  He still won’t eat avocados.  At some point, around a year old I think, he caught on to the fact that some yogurts have some added sugars and they taste better.  Mommy’s mistake for feeding him a few bites of mine.  Oops!  Fortunately, YoBaby comes in lots of flavors, some with DHA and some with added cereal.  He loves every single one of them.  My only complaint about it is the sugar, I do wish there was less or none added, but my son loves it.  Probably by the time he graduates to the kid yogurt, they’ll offer a no sugar added version.  That’ll be for the next kid I suppose.   YoBaby yogurt does not add artificial colors to their yogurt either.  This is fantastic considering some of the scary articles I’ve read about artificial colors and mice.  In fact, I noticed on the blueberry flavor that organic carrot juice is added for some extra color.  Bring it on!

My little guy is a little nutty about his yogurt actually.  Every morning he goes right to the fridge to get me to open it, he then selects his yogurt flavor of the morning (yogurt is on the bottom shelf in the door so he can grab it), takes off the foil lid, and then hopes he can hurry and squeeze it out onto the floor before I catch him.  This is a new thing, the squeezing, that every morning I forget about because I’m tired!  This morning, only a couple of drops made it to the floor.  I was a little slow.  I grew up with a carpeted kitchen, gasp!  If I had a carpeted kitchen, I’d be sure to have had a few nervous breakdowns by now.  Lately my son has preferred the yogurt to the smoothies, but some days he has one of each.  I love the smoothies because they work in his sippy cup and there’s no mess!  For a little extra nutrition, I’ll add a half of a capsule of pro-biotics to the smoothie, shake it up, and then pour it in his sippy.  Sometimes, I’ll also add a few drops of toddler DHA into his smoothie.  It’s a lot less noticeable in those than anything else I’ve tried!

If you have a baby old enough to eat yogurt or a toddler, I have a sneaking suspicion that your baby loves yogurt.  You’re in luck because YoBaby is hosting a GIVEAWAY!!!!

YoBaby Giveaway

The prizes are pictured above: five vouchers for free YoBaby yogurt, a cute little bib and a travel bowl with a lid!  Excellent prize, especially if you’ve got a cute little yogurt addict like I do!  All you have to do is comment below.  I’ll pick the winner at random via random.org.  If you have friends with similar aged children, let them know about it to comment and split the winnings!  Just for some additional savings, here is a link to coupons for ya.  Another way to save on this is if you happen to use Recycle Bank as part of your trash service.  I used to go with a company that offered rewards for recycling (sweet!) and pretty much always chose the Stonyfield Farm coupons.  Probably one of the better coupon offerings with Recycle Bank at the time I used them.  Usually there was an option for a free YoBaby yogurt or smoothie.  So far, I’ve found Target to be the cheapest place to buy this brand.

Speaking of giveaways…today I’m announcing the winner of the Oikos giveaway!  Random.org threw out #18, which is Jenny Olson, congratulations Jenny!  Enjoy your yogurt:) 

 

Cherry Garcia Mini-Muffins

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Breakfast Recipes | Posted on 18-06-2009

Cherry Garcia Muffins

Back in the day, I used to be addicted to Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.  Back when they still owned the company.  When they started offering frozen yogurt, of course I only bought that version; tastes the same, much better for you!  Well, I’ve moved on from that flavor, but when my Dad dropped off a huge bucket of super-tart mini cherries off of his tree, I had no idea what to make with them.  Well…I had some delicious Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks in my pantry, so I decided to make these mini-muffins with almond flour and oat flour!  The tartness of the cherries, the semi-sweetness of the chocolate chunks, the sweetness of the batter and the creaminess of yogurt all go so nicely together.  Let me tell you, they’re yummy!  I love it when experiments work!  I’ve made so many flops with almond flour it’s not even funny.   Almond flour, not being mixed with any other flours, does not lend my favorite consistency to baked goods.  It really does seem mealy to me, but oat flour does not, so if you’re gluten-intolerant and can tolerate gluten-free oats, then I suggest mixing!  This is a coincidence, but I happened to make these with the organic Greek yogurt (Oikos) - which the giveaway is still going on until Father’s Day so if you haven’t commented and would like the free yogurt, please comment on the Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies recipe for a chance to win!

My husband will be mad at me for making these.  Every time I make something with fruit and chocolate, he lectures me that chocolate is good, and fruit is good, but not together!  Sorry babe.  I like them.  And I think chocolate and fruit together is a beautiful thing.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (blanched)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sugar or your favorite sweetener
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Oikos:)
  • 1 Tb coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cherries, pitted - mine were tart so up the sugar a tad if you’re are tart
  • 1/2 cup chunk semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375, grease pan
  2. Mix flours, baking powder and salt with whisk
  3. Mix melted coconut oil with the yogurt, whisk, add egg and beat together, add sugar/sweetener
  4. A little at a time, mix the wet in with the dry, then add cherries and chocolate chips, mix well
  5. Distribute batter evenly into all mini-muffin tins (24)
  6. Bake 13-15 minutes

Enjoy!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies With Yogurt

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Cookie and Bar Recipes | Posted on 16-06-2009

Photo by Roland A Manarin

This year, I’ve been really into lemon anything.  Unfortunately, the majority of the lemon cookie recipes I’ve found aren’t too healthy or they’re full of oats and I didn’t want that.  So, I decided to make up my own healthy version with yogurt!  It worked out well because Stonyfield Farm is hosting this GIVEAWAY for their Greek yogurt line Oikos- 1 free 16oz coupon and 3 free 5.3oz coupons!    More details below.  I made this cookie two ways, with and without coconut.  The coconut flavor is already present and mild from the coconut oil (if you don’t like coconut, use all butter instead or use some organic shortening which doesn’t have the negative qualities of the non-organic kinds).  The coconut made these cookies slightly more moist and thicker.  I think these cookies taste best cooled, and they’re delicious either way.  I decided to use spelt flour for the added fiber and rich color, but if you need gluten-free, I think they’d probably work well with gluten-free oat flour.  They should also work if all you have is white or wheat flour.  The consistency if this cookie is a little crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside with a tiny bit of a crumble (due to the coconut oil).  An easy and fairly fast lemon poppy seed cookie that’s healthy.  Yes!!!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons (juice of two lemons and zest of two lemons)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (if you don’t have this, use honey)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 5.3oz container vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm Oikos)  …or you can use a scant 1/2 cup of your preferred Greek yogurt
  • 1 3/4 cups spelt flour (or whatever flour you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Over a low boil, heat the lemon juice, zest and agave nectar stirring constantly with a whisk until half the liquid remains (a little less than half a cup) liquid will thicken to the consistency of the agave.  Let cool, mixture thickens to more of a thick honey consistency
  • In a large mixing bowl blend the butter, sugar and coconut oil.  Add the yogurt and lemon juice mixture
  • In a smaller bowl, blend the flour with the salt and poppy seeds with a fork
  • Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet.  Add shredded coconut and blend well.
  • Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet and bake about 8-9 minutes, the bottom of the cookie will brown

Oikos photo courtesy www.oikosorganic.com

To win the Oikos giveaway, all you have to do is comment below.  I don’t care what you say, just make your presence known!  I’ll pick the winner at random via random.com by assigning each post a number.  Easy.  No pressure!  I’ll pick the winner June 21st, Father’s Day!  If you don’t win, you can still get a discount with these coupons.  If you’re looking for something else to make with your Greek yogurt, you can try out my most recent Sonoma Chicken Salad recipe, where I discuss in detail on some of the health benefits.  Also, you parents stay tuned, because soon we’ll be doing a YoBaby giveaway!

Oh, and I feel that I should mention, if you’re looking for a good lemon cookie recipe that is not healthy in the least bit, I highly recommend this.  They’re very time consuming and tricky, but when done right, delicious.

Whole Food’s Sonoma Chicken Salad Recipe

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes | Posted on 12-06-2009

Sonoma Chicken Salad

Ever had Whole Food’s Sonoma Chicken Salad?  It’s the one with grapes, poppy seeds, celery and pecans.  It’s delicious!  Every time I go there and walk by the deli, I longingly look in that case.  $11.99/lb?  Yikes!  If I’m really hungry I can eat a half a pound by myself in no time!  Well…I try to stop myself at a quarter pound, but it’s tough.  Aside from the high price, I do have two more issues with this salad:  the high-calorie mayonnaise and the lack of grapes.  I want a grape in every bite and if you’re lucky, you’ll get about five grapes per half-pound container.  There’s a lot more than five bites in there!  I’ve been thinking of making this myself anyway with plain Greek yogurt and then the nice folks over at Stonyfield Farm Organic sent me some free vouchers for the very same thing!  So… it was meant to be and I set about making my very own version.  I venture to say that I like my version better.  I still added a little bit of mayonnaise for the flavor but it doesn’t have near the strong mayo tang as the original, AND you get lots of grapes, pecans and celery per bite in my version!  The one negative about making it myself is that it takes time.  Oh well, it’s totally worth it and much cheaper than buying at the deli!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast (I had 3 very large frozen chicken breasts)
  • chicken stock/broth/bouillon (only if poaching chicken)
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2-3 sticks celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 TB mayonnaise (I use the organic full-fat stuff b/c I think it tastes best)
  • 1/2 small container (5.3 oz size) Stonyfield Farm Organic OIKOS Greek yogurt-plain (or 2.7oz  or 75g or a heaping 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (I use organic unfiltered)
  • 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Method:

  • Poach chicken (a low simmer) in broth for 45 minutes to an hour, boiling can make it tough.  You can also bake it or cook it however you typically like to make your chicken breasts. 
  • Remove chicken when meat thermometer reaches about 170, remove, allow to cool for a bit and cut into pieces
  • Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, and poppy seeds, add chicken, mix, add remaining ingredients. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste if you’d like!
  • Also, if you like your chicken salads with more yogurt/mayo, just double the recipe of the yogurt mixture and slowly add it in until you’re happy with the consistency.  I prefer a light glaze on everything. 

A few notes about the yogurt: Greek yogurt is strained, which makes it thicker and better for my chicken salad recipe so I don’t have a goopy salad.  It’s organic, which means there’s no pesticides, antibiotics or hormones added or fed to the cows therefore getting into the milk.  Also, there are no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.  It’s full of live active cultures, protein and calcium.  You can feel good about eating it!  If you like Greek yogurt or want to try it, you’re in luck!  I’ll be hosting a giveaway very soon for one free 16oz coupon, and three free 5.3 oz coupons.  That’s a heck of a deal!  More details to come…  OH!  and if you have kids, Stonyfield’s YoBaby line is also going to give away some of their goodies too.  More on that later as well!

Poppy seeds, other than making you fail your drug tests (happened to my roommate in college, very funny), is high in calcium, mangenese and omega 3 fatty acids.  It’s also still used for medicinal purposes!

A big thanks to my brother Tony (Roland) for helping me with the picture!

Chia Goodness Review

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 11-06-2009

Apple Almond Cinnamon Chia Goodness

A while back, I saw a product called Chia Goodnessat the store and knowing all the potential health benefits of chia, I had to buy it.  Quoting the Chia Goodness package,  “Lactose free, chia contains more than five times the calcium of milk.  It is a good source of fiber, and contains no gluten.  With lots of essential fatty acids, trace minerals and protein, it is an all-around superfood.”   For all you flax nuts out there, chia has more Omega 3’s than flax!  If you add ground flaxseed into your stuff, why don’t you try chia next time instead?

This company, Ruth’s Hemp Foods, knows their health stuff which is obvious by reading the simple ingredients in this product (I purchased the apple almond cinnamon variety): Chia (salvia hispanica), buckwheat, hulled hemp seeds, dehydrated apples, almonds, raisins, organic cane sugar, cinnamon, celtic sea salt.  Everything is obviously well thought out to deliver the best possible flavor without sacrificing nutrition.  Well…there is added sugar, but trust me, if you’re going to eat this on its own it needs more sugar.  The first time I tried it, I just mixed 2TB of Chia Goodness with 4TB hot water.  To be honest, I would never eat this product alone again.  It tasted a little fishy, probably due to the chia and the omega-3 benefits?  Not sure….but not tasty this way.  The texture is a tad bit gummy with bits if chia sticking in your teeth sometimes.  I had to add some agave nectar to finish the bowl. 

Since then, I’ve added this to my yogurt and oatmeal, and it’s MUCH better!  It just gives a mild apple cinnamon flavor with a slight crunch- not as crunchy as granola (they’ll still stick in your teeth).  If you want your yogurt crunchy with granola, you can still add the Chia Goodness for a nutritional punch…or you can just add your plain old Chia or Salba seeds if you’ve got them.  However, if you don’t want that extra crunch or calories from the granola, this is a great nutritional option for you to just get some flavor along with the nutrition.  Here’s a handy dandy online pamphlet for you to read if you’re interested in reading more about it and the health benefits.

All in all, if you are interested in your health and something easy to add to your yogurt, this is a great product for you to buy.  If you’re more interested in just flavor, I’m not so sure this is for you.  If you still want the health benefits but want some awesome food…just put ground chia or Salba in your recipes you know you like.  May I suggest my Salba Fudgy Caramel Brownies? :)

Dinosaur Kale Wraps

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Meal Recipes | Posted on 09-06-2009

Photo by Roland A Manarin

 

Strolling along at the local farmer’s market, I noticed these huge kale calling to me.  They were like, ”I’m huge and cool so eat me!!!”   The guy selling them was so excited about them because some local culinary students had a debate on what to do with them since they’re water resistant.  I’m not sure if they came to a conclusion, he didn’t say.  Of course, my mind was already spinning on what I wanted to do.  A huge edible leaf?  Wraps!  To make wraps with these, you have to find the biggest of the big.  Plenty of these kale leaves were still too small to make wraps with so if your plan is wraps, make sure you get the real dinosaurs of the batch.  Now, as is, they’re related to the broccoli family, and so they stink like broccoli.  But don’t you worry, a little lemon, salt and steam will ensure that your wrap won’t be a stinky broccoli wrap.  I do like broccoli, but I don’t think a wrap encased with what I wanted to put into it is the best idea.  Maybe some melted cheddar and ham and eggs.  An almost Denver dinosaur kale wrap?

I also had the good fortune to go to my Dad’s house with my son (who is 22 months right now) to pick some fresh strawberries from his garden!  We had the best time picking fresh strawberries and eating them direct from the plant.  I guess I wasn’t thinking before we left our house to go to Opa’s (grandpa in German), because I decided that a nice plain white t-shirt looked nice with his black pants.  My little guy demanded one strawberry for every one I put in the bowl.  He ate them so fast he had strawberry juice running down his mouth and onto his nice white t.  He kept signing more (he still prefers signing to talking but does say a few words, he’ll kinda say mow while signing more) and so he got to eat lots of strawberries yesterday.  To all you parents, I had lots more clean-up to do other than just his shirt, but it was worth it to see his cute face drooling fresh strawberries.

So, with what I had at home and my fresh garden yummies, I decided to make some Dinosaur Kale Wraps with Pancetta, Onion, Strawberries, Feta and Pine Nuts.   The boldness of the feta and the sweetness of the strawberries helped to eliminate if any of the broccoli flavor left in the kale.  The flavors all went nicely together and I finished three of them in no time, but if I were going to do it again, I think it’s be great with goat cheese.  It was a mediterranean wrap of sorts but you can do whatever you’d like with them!  I think for my next batch of dinosaur kale wraps, I may make an asian-style wrap with rice and yakiniku sauce and do more of a tight-roll style. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 1/4 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup little garden strawberries, halved
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 5 dinosaur kale leaves
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar

Method:

  • Rinse kale leaves and remove smallest portion of leaf and stem.  Using a sharp knife with the hard end of the kale stem facing up (kale leaf laying flat on cutting board), slice as much of the stem off of the leaves as you can without cutting into the leaf ruining the integrity of the leaf.  In other words…thin the stem with a knife until the stem is level with the leaf
  • Rub leaves with a fresh lemon slice and sprinkle a little salt on them to soften
  • Steam leaves just a few minutes 3-5, you don’t want to lose the green color.  Otherwise, it’ll be more of a purple/green and still taste great, it just won’t be as vibrant looking
  • Lay leaves out flat and pat with paper towel
  • Saute onions in butter until softened, add pancetta and cook until pancetta and onions start to turn golden brown…the onions caramelize:)
  • Layer the pancetta onion mixture, feta, strawberries and pine nuts equally amongst the kale.  Season with olive oil and vinegar and pepper if you’d like.  It shouldn’t need salt due to the pancetta
  • Wrap like a skinny burrito!

ps…if you’re local and want to know the vendor, it’s www.blacksheepfarms.com

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