What to do with boring shredded chicken

My favorite protein to prep?  Shredded chicken.  Boring, shredded chicken.  Nothing fancy, just simple chicken.  Why, you may ask, is this my favorite thing to prep?  Because it is a blank canvas.  It’s just the base that I can play with throughout the week.  One thing that holds so many people back from meal prepping, is the fact that they think if they meal prep, it will be the exact same thing every day for a week. That it will be dried out and hard to stomach by the end of the week. Well, sometimes it is, so what we need to do is to figure out how to make these meals something that you will actually enjoy and look forward to throughout the week.

This week, one of my ProCoach cohorts is working on eating protein at every meal, hitting their protein goals throughout the day, and keeping an eye on portion sizes to make sure they stay on track. Eating protein at every meal is not necessarily difficult, but I wanted to incorporate this habit into this week’s recipe.  So this week, I have several meals made up with the same base shredded chicken breasts.  Now – these are only three of the hundreds of meals you can create with this.  These are just a few that I played with this week.  So listed below are recipes for:

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Breasts (BASE)
Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Pesto & Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich
Chicken Tacos

First up, we have the recipe for the base, which is the basic crock-pot shredded chicken.  This recipe is super easy, and the shredded chicken, when stored properly, does not dry out over the course of the week, which is key!

CROCK POT SHREDDED CHICKEN BREASTSIMG_3483
INGREDIENTS:
3lbs Chicken Breast (about 4 large)
1c. Chicken Broth
1t Salt
1t Pepper
1t Garlic Powder
1t Onion Powder

DIRECTIONS:

  • Place chicken breasts in crock pot, pour chicken broth and seasonings over chicken.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-4 (low usually keeps the chicken juicier)
  • Remove chicken from crock pot and shred chicken with two forks.
  • Allow chicken to cool and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator

 

BUFFALO CHICKEN QUINOA BOWL
Using the shredded chicken that you so conveniently already have in the fridge…putting together the rest of this bowl is a breeze!

INGREDIENTS:
4oz. Shredded chicken
IMG_34871/3c. Black Beans – cooked & drained
1/4 Avocado – medium
1/2c. kale (I lightly sautéed mine in a little coconut oil to soften it up)
1/4c. Corn – Steamed
1/2c. Quinoa – cooked (I used quinoa brown rice blend)
1/3c. Cherry Tomatoes -chopped with red onion, s&p
Garnish: Shredded Cheese & chopped cilantro
Frank’s Red Hot
1T Butter

This made for a HUGE bowl, obviously you can cut the amounts in half, I had some leftovers from this.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Sautee Kale in pan, once it starts to soften up & wilt a little, set aside.  Add the chicken to the pan with butter & Franks and toss to mix together.  Heat on medium to low to reheat chicken with the sauce.
  • Steam corn, rinse beans, slice up avocado and set aside.
  • Prep tomatoes – quarter them, add finely chopped red onion and season with S&P, set aside.
  • Cook Quinoa, add to the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients which have already been prepped
  • Garnish with cheese and chopped cilantro.

Here’s my trick with this – it seems like a crazy amount of prep work, but I find success by having a lot of this stuff prepped ahead of time, or finding little shortcuts.   Here are two of my no-so-secret tips that make recipes like this really easy – and just a matter of scooping things into a bowl.

  • I usually have a couple cans of black beans rinsed and ready to go & also a jar of chopped super chunky “Salsa” (like the one above) in my fridge at all times- I put them with my eggs, on my salads, in bowls like this, burritos, just plain as a snack, the options are endlessproduct_rts_organicredquinoa
  • I buy individual quinoa cups that microwave for 1 minute…because it’s one ofthosethings I despise cooking, and I love eating it…this makes it easier for me to stay on track!

 

Pesto & Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich
I made this as an open-face sandwich that I melted cheese on, but I have also had this as a cold chicken sandwich in a pita pocket, which works well when bringing it on the go, or even mixed into a salad!

INGREDIENTS:IMG_3490
4oz. shredded chicken
1/3 avocado – medium
1T finely chopped red onion
2T Basil Pesto
2T Whole Grain Honey Mustard (homemade)
1/3c. Kale – chopped (very lightly sautéed if desired)
2 slices Ezekiel bread – toasted
Sliced Cheddar Cheese – optional

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Add Chicken, pesto, red onion, avocado to bowl and mix until completely combined.
  • Toast bread, spread honey mustard, then stack kale, and then chicken mix.
  • Top with cheese if you want
  • Bake in the oven until cheese starts to melt – about 3-5 minutes, then broil for 1-2 minutes to finish it off.
  • As mentioned above – this chicken salad is delicious, and is so yummy warm or cold!  A great alternative to a heavy mayo chicken salad!

 

Chicken Tacos

So I’m not going to write up a recipe for tacos…because I assume you have made them
before, but I AM going to include a recipe for homemade taco seasoning that I’ve been using for years.  Tacos are pretty simple – add what you like, keep it fresh and delicious, and enjoy them – because tacos are one of the greatest things ever created, and always feel like a fun, exciting treat, even when they are SUPER healthy! I’ve never met anyone who isn’t amped up when they talk about having tacos for dinner.  So if you haven’t already, start making your taco seasoning!

IMG_3501

INGREDIENTS: (this will last you for a while…not just for one night of tacos – well, maybe, I don’t know how many tacos you plan on eating)
2T Chili PowderIMG_3499
1/2t Garlic Powder
1/2t Onion Powder
1/2t Crushed Red Pepper
1/2t Oregano
1t Paprika
3t Cumin
2t Salt
2t Ground Black Pepper

 

Snack Attack!

On Tuesday morning, I was training my girl Devin, who also happens to be in my current nutrition program. As an interior designer, she is on the road a lot, working on projects, running around, etc, and finding consistency with meal timing and making sure she is eating is sometimes really difficult.  When she said sometimes she goes most of the day without eating, my jaw dropped. So what I wanted to do this week, was to pull together a couple snack options that would be SUPER easy to prep, would be okay with or without a refrigerator, and would be a great pick me up during a long day at work.

Here’s the problem – people get sick of the same old snacks.  Why?  Because they are BORING!  And then it occurred to me while I was hanging out with my best bud Anthony yesterday. He was eating a Starbucks Protein breakfast box, and I was eyeing it because I LOVE those as an on-the-go breakfast or snack. The thing we love about these protein boxes, is the variety of flavor profiles as well as the mix of textures! THAT is why snacks can sometimes get boring.  It’s one singular flavor or texture in the whole snack.  We crave variety, but we put snacks together that do not offer that to us.

So this week, I decided to make a few different snack box options.  Now, I am a bit of a img_3450.jpg
Tupperware hoarder.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  I have found some amazing deals at Marshalls for containers with little compartments in them (see below), which I LOVE for these snacks – keep things a bit separated.  If you don’t have these, no biggie, but I do have a little tip for you. Those little salad dressing containers or small Tupperware things that would be great for PB or dip are a rip off (about $4-6 for two of them).  However, if you get one of the extra small glass jars of baby food, it’s only about $1 each, it holds the perfect amount of dip, or dressing, and you can reuse that over and over again.

These could not be any easier to prep or put together.  So I present to you:

BREAKFAST BOX:
Plain Greek Yogurt
Strawberries
VT Cheddar Cheese cubes
Cucumbers
Raw Almonds

img_3452.jpg

 

AFTERNOON PICK-ME-UP BOX:
Apple Slices (I used Gala Apples)
Hard Boiled Egg (sprinkled with black pepper)
Celery
Teddy’s Unsalted All Natural Peanut Butter
Flax & Whole Wheat Pita Bread triangles

img_3455.jpg

 

THE DOUBLE SNACK BIG BOX:
This one is really a couple snacks in one box, but a great option to pack with you for a day at work!  

Carrot Sticks
VT Cheddar Cheese Cubes
Red Grapes
Hard Boiled Egg (sprinkled with black pepper)
Cucumber
Nut-Thins (Brown Rice, Almonds & Chia Seed flavor)
Hummus

img_3456.jpg

 

So while this isn’t actually a “Recipe”, I hope you find new ways to prepare yourself for success with your health & nutrition goals throughout the day.  Good Luck!!

ENJOY!

Energy Bites

I’m going to let you in on a not so hidden secret about me…I have a sweet tooth. A big one. Sweets are my biggest weakness, the hardest thing to say “no” to, the hardest thing for me to eat in moderation, and during times where my emotions (of any kind) are running high, the feeling of NEEDING sweets takes over me like a wild ravenous beast on the hunt for it’s prey.

That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I DO try my best to eat as healthy as possible – and this is all I ask of my nutrition clients that they do their best to make small changes to work towards their healthiest version of themselves.  But we are all human, we all fall off the wagon. Some people’s falling off means that they have a huge bag of cape cod potato chips, or an entire box of macaroni & cheese or a huge greasy bacon cheeseburger with extra fries, some people’s falling off means an entire tray of cookies without hesitation (…that one is me). For me, one thing that has been important, is being able to find substitutions and replacements to satisfy this craving so I don’t reach to a tub of frosting or a pan of brownies and a side of ice cream. These energy bites (which I portion out so I don’t eat a whole tub of them) do just that. Sometimes it’s not about eliminating something all together, but finding an alternative.  Something a little bit better, a little bit healthier, and as we say in ProCoach all the time…we are looking for 1% better than yesterday.  These energy bites are still sweet, they taste like a treat, but are a better option than what the evil sugar monster inside me would normally gravitate towards.

They are so simple to make, easy to take on the road with you, and  you can change up the flavors and put whatever you want in them. One batch of this recipe will make somewhere between 35-40 bites, which for me is a couple weeks worth – I divide them up into little bags with 3 bites per bag.

IMG_3436

img_3435.jpg

I took the recipe, mixed up the base ingredients of: honey, PB, oats, cinnamon and vanilla, then split that mixture in half to make two different flavors.

*note on the PB…I know you probably already know this…but check your labels.  Teddy’s is one of my favorites…the ingredient list says it all.  So many PB brands are loaded with a ton of extra crap – just keep it simple.

  1. The first flavor (in addition to the base of the mix): I added dried cranberries, chia seeds, and then rolled them in unsweetened shredded coconut.
  2. The second flavor (in addition to the base of the mix): I added raisins, dark chocolate chips, and a blend of ground hemp & flax.

INGREDIENTS:
(BASE)
3c. Rolled Oats
1/4c. Honey
1/2t. Vanilla
1/2c. unsalted all natural Peanut Butter (or other nut butter) – I prefer Teddy’s
1/4t. Salt
1t. Cinnamon

IMG_3433

From there, add whatever you want!  These were a bit sweet, so if you aren’t a huge fan of sweet, you can obviously cut back on the honey a little bit.  I made the whole batch listed below, mixed it together, then split it in half and made two different flavors.  Below are the ingredient list for that (if using this for the whole batch, just double amounts)

  1. 1/3c. Dried Cranberries
    2T Chia Seeds
    Unsweetened Shredded Coconut to roll them in.
  2. 1/3c. Raisins
    2T Hemp & Flax Blend
    1/4c. Dark Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Take all ingredients for base, add them into a large bowl and mix until completely combined.
  2. Stir in additional ingredients of your choice.
  3. Roll out into small tablespoon (or a little larger) balls and place them into a Tupperware contained – I lined mine with a paper towel so they don’t get all sticky goopy against the Tupperware. You can also press them out into a baking pan and cut them into bars if you prefer that!
  4. If your hands get too sticky when rolling them, either rinse them off in water, or put a little olive oil on them which will help the bites not stick to your hands quite as much.
  5. Store them in an airtight container, I keep mine in the refrigerator in the portioned out ziplock bags so I can just grab a bag on my way out.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!  I look forward to hearing what flavors you try!  Make them your own!

 

Honey Mustard Baked Salmon

IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!

My new gas range has arrived and I am back in  business!!  Between the microwave and the crock pot, I am just craving different textures, and this oven could not have come at a better time.  As soon as the installation crew left yesterday afternoon, I ran to the supermarket, bought some delicious salmon, and came back home to get cooking.

I am always surprised when people say “I don’t like salmon”.  In my mind that just means they haven’t had good salmon yet.  There are so many things that I love about this fish, 1) it is one of the easiest things to cook, and 2) It is delicious when hot right out of the oven, but totally works as leftovers and is just as delicious.  I often make salmon as part of my meal prep for that very reason.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven (https://www.gimmesomeoven.com), which has so many delicious recipes, meal prep ideas, all so colorful and full of variety – definitely worth checking out!!  What sold me on it was the honey mustard spread with whole grain mustard.  LOVE MUSTARD.  With only about a 25-30 minute prep + cook time, it could not be a better option for a quick and delicious meal at the end of a long day.

INGREDIENTS:img_3388.jpg

Honey Mustard Sauce:
-1/3c. whole grain mustard
-1/4c. honey
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-2T fresh lemon juice
-1/4t smoked paprika
-1/4t kosher salt
-1/8t black pepper

Honey Mustard Salmon:
-Large filet of salmon (I usually get a full filet so I can portion it up for later in the week)
1T finely chopped flat leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oven to 375º (or grill to medium heat)
2. Prepare honey mustard sauce
add all ingredients listed above into small bowl and whisk until combined
3. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, lightly mist foil with cooking spray, and lay salmon filet onto the middle of the baking sheet.
4. Spread the honey mustard evenly over the top of the salmon, coating evenly and generously so it is completely covered.
5. Tent the foil over the salmon so it is completely closed in on all sides.
6. If baking in the oven, bake for about 15-18 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon.  Check to see if it flakes apart easily, and add more time if needed – cook until ALMOST done, but not completely.  Remove from oven, open up aluminum foil so fish is exposed, switch oven to broil (high) and return to oven.  Broil for about 3-4 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
if grilling, tent in tinfoil, and transfer it to the grill.  Grill for 14-18 minutes, or until salmon is almost cooked through.  Open the foil, and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes until fish is completely cooked through
7. Remove salmon from oven, sprinkle salmon with parsley and serve immediately.

IMG_3391

I served the salmon over jasmine rice with spinach & green beans that had been sautéed with garlic and lemon, but the flavor of this dish is so easy to mix and match sides with.  So if you ARE prepping this, it would be really simple to serve this with something different each day so you don’t get tired of the exact same meal for lunch all week!

WHEN (not if) I make this again, I would probably reduce the honey and lemon just a little and add more mustard so the sauce can be a bit thicker, but honestly, this recipe is SO GOOD, and definitely worth trying out!

ENJOY!

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

Another week without an oven, and for right now, I’m still – for the most part – okay with it (despite my inability to make coffee).  If you’ve ever seen the show Cutthroat Kitchen, where they give you all the ingredients and tools you need then take away one very important thing…like you can’t use your hands, or no knives, or no oven…it kind of feels like that. At the end of the day, I feel like the fact that my diet has not consisted solely of microwave popcorn and hot pockets, I’m not doing TOO bad prepping food without it.

That being said, I am really REALLY looking forward to the delivery of my new gas range next week (WITH A GRIDDLE ON TOP!!!) so I can really have fun with all my Pinterest recipe searches!  Now, without an oven, I have two ways to heat/cook food.  Microwave, and crock pot.  So this week I turned to my lovely crock pot to make some soup, and made enough to throw several Tupperware containers of it in the freezer for later.

This soup is hearty, and filling, I mean, it’s base is sweet potato.  The chipotle chili seasoning mix brings a little kick to it, just enough to amp up the flavor, top it off with some sour cream and a squeeze of lime and you have a bowl full of deliciousness.

As with most recipes I try out and post here, I found this online.  I wish I was creative enough in the kitchen to be able to make this stuff up, buuuut I’m not, so I obsess over Pinterest and will try just about anything!  I’m a pretty decent cook…just not great at creating recipes, and I feel like that is okay.  I found this recipe on Carlsbad Cravings (https://carlsbadcravings.com) – check out their site (they just posted a bunch of Game Day treats for this weekend!)

INGREDIENTS:
I cooked this in two batches because my crock pot wasn’t big enough, but it made a TON of soup – definitely could have halved the recipe, but now I have a bunch of soup saved for another day!

3lbs sweet potato – peeled, chopped into small cubes
3 granny smith apples – peeled, choppedIMG_33091 medium yellow onion – chopped
4-6 cloves garlic – minced
1 32oz container of low sodium chicken stock
2t ground cumin
1 1/2t salt
1t chili powder
1/2t chipotle chili powder
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2t dried oregano
1/2t ground cinnamon

ADD LATER:
2-4T lime juice (I added the lime juice to just the serving I was eating – all my stored soup is without – wanted a zesty fresh lime taste to my bowl)

GARNISH:
sour cream
cilantro
pumpkin seeds
(I forgot these when I went to the market, so I just used sour cream and ground toasted almonds – but WISH I had that cilantro!)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Add ingredients to slow cooker (except lime juice 7 garnishes – obviously). Cook on ow for 6-8 hours on low or 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours on high – until potatoes are very tender.

IMG_33522. In batches, add soup to your blender.  Blend until very smooth, MAKE SURE TO LET SMOKE ESCAPE OR IT WILL EXPLODE (caps for dramatic effect…but really – leave a corner open and cover with a towel).  Return pureed soup to large pot, repeat until all soup as been pureed.  I have been traumatized by an exploding blender before…so I used my immersion blender instead – there was soup literally everywhere

3. Stir in salt & pepper to taste, add extra chipotle powder if you want it to have more of a kick.  This is where the original recipe calls to add the lime, so you can add it here or hold off – up to you!

4. Garnish each serving with the topping you have chosen and a spritz of lime and you’re good to go!

ENJOY!!

IMG_3347

 

 

Crunchy Veggie Quinoa Salad

IMG_3281

This week, I found myself in an interesting situation.  I prepped for a completely different meal to post about (and it WILL be posted someday), cooked it, and something seemed a bit off with the oven.  So…after my friendly Eversource guy came through, I am currently not able to use my stove, and will hopefully be back to cooking soon once I have a new oven!!

But, as I brought up to my nutrition group, these are the kind of situations that can sometimes throw people off their healthy eating/diet/nutrition plans.  What happens when you all of a sudden cannot cook? When the pans you had for your meals this week are now not possible? When the microwave is your only source of heating up food?  Well, you scrap the plans you had, and figure out something else.

So, we are in for another vegetarian meal this week, and I am not complaining at all!! I first found this recipe on a site called AvocadoPesto.com, made just a couple modifications to it, and here we have an amazing quinoa salad (never cooked quinoa in the microwave before…who really needs a stove anyway?)

Can you please for a moment appreciate all gorgeous color???  Okay.  Moving on.  One of the modifications I made to the recipe on AvocadoPesto, is I doubled it…because after just looking at it online I already knew I would want more than a couple servings.

IMG_3278

This can be used as a meat-free dish, but to be honest, I would love some grilled chicken mixed in here!  While this does take a bit more prep time (lots of chopping), I don’t mind, because the end result is fresh and crunchy and absolutely delicious. PLUS…it’s basically a two bowl dish – one for the quinoa, one for the dressing, so my only clean-was the two bowls, a knife and the cutting board.  Doesn’t get easier than that!

INGREDIENTS:
yields about 4-5c. quinoa salad…so a lot.  
1c. Broccoli finely chopped
2c. Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
3/4 small red onion, diced (raw or very lightly sautéed – use your personal preference)
1/2c. Carrots, grated
1.5 Handful Cilantro, chopped
1/2c. Chopped Green Onions
1/4c. Slivered Almonds (original recipe called for peanuts which would be yummy too!)

DRESSING:
1 Lime – juice & zest (+ more juice to taste)
2t Sesame Seeds
2T Guten Free Tamari
2T Sesame Oil
2T Rice Vinegar
3 cloves garlic. minced, and very lightly sautéed
1 inch piece of Ginger, minced – add this bit by bit to taste – a little bit goes a long way.
1T honey (optional: I added this because I only had a little ginger – sweetened it up a bit)

IMG_3279

Directions:
1. In large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, raw broccoli, red onion, carrots, cilantro, green onion, almonds, and gently mix it up until it’s all combined.

2. In small bowl whisk together all ingredients for dressing

3.  Pour dressing over quinoa salad, and serve warm!  (I’m pretty sure it will also be delicious cold!)

4. Store any leftovers in an airtight container, or even better, divide it up into small containers to bring to work with you for lunch!

IMG_3280

Enjoy!

 

 

Breakfast made simple

We are back at it – posting weekly recipes, partially fueled by Hannah’s most recent ProCoach nutrition cohort that started this past week, but also because we have admittedly been less than consistent here. So, we are starting by posting a recipe up each week, and building from there. The goal with these recipes is not to give you the most extravagant meals you have ever seen, but to bring to you simple, healthy recipes that will set you up to succeed with your daily meal planning. Some will be “meal prep” style foods, some will be side dishes, crock pot dishes, soups, some will be veggie prep ideas, breakfasts, desserts, you name it, anything goes. So here goes entry #1, and we look forward to many delicious meals in the months ahead!

When clients reach out  to us about their nutrition, one common theme has to do with breakfast. Either they don’t know what to eat in the morning, or they feel that for some reason breakfast takes SO LONG to make that they just don’t have time in the morning.  There is always something that keeps them from starting the day out with some food in their belly.

IMG_3184

The truth is, breakfast is probably the fastest and easiest meal of the day, and you will hear us say this over and over…keep it simple, and set yourself up for success! If you google “quick healthy breakfast”, this will probably be one of the first things that pops up, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to start here. Egg muffin cups LITERALLY take about 5-10 minutes to prep, pop them in the oven, and you have breakfast for the week.

I did three different flavors since I get bored easily from eating the same thing every day, but have fun with it, mix it up with colorful veggies, add a little cheese, throw some meat in there with the veggies if that’s your style. I chose the following three:

Spinach & Pepper
Mushroom & Scallion
Tomato & Basil


INGREDIENTS:
(yields about 8 egg muffin cups)
6 eggs
milk (I used unsweetened almond milk as an alternative to regular milk)
your choice of vegetables, meat or cheese
salt & pepper (to taste)

RECIPE: 

  • Preheat oven to 375 & spray muffin tin with cooking spray then set aside – only spray 8 cups unless you add more egg to fill the rest of the spots
  • Chop up all veggies/meat you intend to use into small pieces, including greens.
  • Combine eggs & milk (as if you were making scrambled eggs), salt & pepper into bowl, and whisk it up.
  • Pour egg mixture evenly into muffin tin to about the half way mark
  • Sprinkle ingredients into each egg cup, I like to go a bit heavy on the veggies, but if you like an eggy muffin, then do it up! The muffin tins should be about 3/4 full once ingredients are added.
  • Bake the egg cups in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they are solid.

IMG_3187

Store in an airtight container, or divide them up into ziplock bags for an easy grab-n-go breakfast! I will usually warm them up a bit in the morning. These are a savior on many  rushed mornings. The pictures don’t do them justice, they are absolutely delicious!

I hope you enjoy them!  Comment here with different ingredients you have tried!

 

-TCU

 

Mango Salsa

IMG_4553I’m going to admit – until this past weekend, I had never had mango salsa.  I actually avoided it.  I had it in my head that I would probably hate it, something about the sweetness of the mango having no place in a salsa.  But I decided to give it a shot for a BBQ this past weekend, and now I am left kicking myself for never having made this before, because it is absolutely delicious!  It’s all sorts of chopped perfection that is great for a hot day, on a chip, in a taco, or just a heaping spoonful of it as a side dish.  The only part I struggled with was dicing the damn mango, since I rarely eat them, for some reason trying to get the meat of the fruit was a feat I was not entirely prepared for.  I squeezed the first one to death, then watched a youtube video and was all set going forward.  Apparently I was making it much harder than I needed to.  Most of you should probably be fine because unlike me, you do not lack the common sense to cut a piece of fruit properly.  Regardless, the salsa was perfect, and I have no doubt you will enjoy this refreshing little treat!  (And pardon the tupperware in the pic.  I would have preferred to have this in a pretty dish for the pic, but whatever – if it can look yummy in a plastic container, you KNOW it’s good!)

Ingredients:
Yields approx. 4 cups salsa 
(trust me…you want this much)

3 Ripe Mangos diced
1/2 Large Red Pepper chopped
1/2 Small Green Pepper chopped
1/2c. Red onion chopped
1/4c. Fresh chopped Cilantro
1 -1 1/2 Jalapeño seeded and minced (depends on how hot you want it, but remember you can always add more heat, so start with just the one if you are unsure)
1 large lime, juiced
Salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a serving bowl, sprinkle lime juice on top, and season with a little fresh ground sea salt to taste. So easy!

THANKSGIVING RECIPES!

Today, we bring to you four side dish recipes that are delicious and…vegetarian!  You heard me!  Vegetarian.  My family (this is Hannah speaking – if you couldn’t tell from the vegetarian comment…because we know if Anthony was writing this, it would have 3 kinds of meat with a side of meat) has several vegetarians in it, so most of our side dishes have always been vegetarian friendly.  I personally like having the delicious turkey (home grown on our very own Button Factory Farm  (shout out heyyyy Momma Bear Williams!)be the star of the show, so I prefer to have a ton of veggies to compliment it.

I love Thanksgiving, and all the food that comes along with it. In the past, I have fallen victim to using Thanksgiving as an excuse to eat my bodyweight in mashed potatoes and stuffing. I just want to be clear about one thing…

THERE IS NO RULE THAT STATES ON THANKSGIVING YOU MUST EAT 10 PLATES OF FOOD.  IT IS JUST ONE MEAL!  EAT LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING!

These days, I like to take a different approach to overloading my plate.  I divide it up- half the plate is for my veggies, 1/4 is for the meat, and 1/4 is for the stuffing and mashed potatoes.  The problem occurs, when people start by serving the meat and potatoes, then whoops!  No more room for the veggies!  Here are four dishes that will make you want to skimp a bit on the potatoes and stuffing (they are better for sandwiches the next day anyway), and fill up on something a bit healthier – with room saved for pie of course.  There is no plate splitting on the pie.  Go big or go home. lol.

 

First up…
Brussels sprouts with Pistachio

Brussels

This is admittedly not at all my recipe.  My cousin-in-law brought it to Thanksgiving years ago (Thank you Joanna!!), and I have been in love with it ever since.  For the non-brussels sprout lover, this is a nice little brussels 101 side dish before you go in for the chunks of roasted heaven.  Since you peel all the leaves off the core, you take the texture out of it that sometimes makes people hesitant to try these delicious little mini cabbages.  But I think it’s bomb, and ate the entire test batch for lunch – it was not the full 2lbs – don’t worry.  

Ingredients:
serves about 6-8 as a side dish

2lbs Brussels Sprouts (about 14-16) trimmed, and leaves peeled off the core.  Cores can be tossed – not using them for this salad.
¼ c. Shallot, minced
¾ c. shelled unsalted pistachios
3T grapeseed oil
3T fresh lemon juice

To trim the sprouts, chop off the bottom of the head, and discard the very outermost leaves.  Then take continue to peel off the leaves, putting them in a bowl. As you get a couple leaves in, you may need to re-trim the bottom to get the leaves off.  Once you are out of leaves, and they are the itty bitty wrinkly little ones that are hard to get off the core, just move to the next one.

Add the grapeseed oil to the pan, when it is nice and hot, toss in the minced shallots and stir for about 20 seconds or so.  Add in the leaves and pistachios, and cook until the leaves begin to soften – about 3-4 minutes.  You still want them to be bright in color and have a little bit of a bite to them.  Once they are done, transfer to a serving bowl or plate, and drizzle lemon juice over it, season with salt & pepper.

 

 

Then, we have:
Bulgar Wheat Salad with Butternut Squash and Dried Cranberry

IMG_9692

I whipped up the test run of this salad, and have fallen in love.  I am not a fan of parsley.  AT ALL.  But somehow I cannot imagine this salad being as tasty without it.  I found this online a while ago, but kept forgetting to make it.  Seemed pretty perfect for a Thanksgiving dish given the flavor profile – so give it a go!

Ingredients:
(serves 6-8 as a side)

1 Butternut Squash (about 2.5lbs), chopped into ¼ inch cubes
1c. Bulgar Wheat (I used red, but it doesn’t really matter – I just like the color of the salad with the red lol)
1c. fresh parsley chopped
¾ c. fresh mint chopped
1 large shallot (or 2 small) minced – about ½ c.
½ c dried cranberries
1 lemon, juiced
4T Olive Oil

Instructions:
Combine 1¾ c. water  & 1c. bulgar into pot and bring to a boil at high heat, then cover and reduce to low and cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while.  Taste as it gets close to 10 minutes, the water should be pretty much absorbed by then.  Once done, remove from heat, and let it rest for 5 minutes in the covered pot – any remaining water will absorb into the bulgar.  After the 5 minutes, fluff gently, and season LIGHTLY with salt, let cool to room temp.  

While the bulgar is cooking, peel the butternut squash, and cut into small little cubes.  Add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan – when the oil is hot, toss in the squash, sprinkle with a little salt and cover.  Cook covered for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and continue to cook for an additional 6-8 minutes or and allow the squash to lightly brown & get that delicious caramelization.  Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temp.

Once both the bulgar and the squash have come to room temp, gently combine them into a large serving bowl.  Add the parsley, mint, shallots, and cranberry.  I like to add them a little at a time, and taste as I go – especially with the shallots.  Drizzle with the lemon juice, and season with salt.

I added a tiny bit of chopped walnuts to the salad right when I served it – if you mix the nuts into the salad they may get a bit mushy.  

 

Back by popular demand…
Assorted Roasted Veggies

IMG_2707

Ingredients:
(serving amount depends on how much you cook up!  This is pretty easy to determine though)

2lbs or so of Assorted Veggies (carrots, beets, parsnips, red onions, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brussels sprouts etc. – whatever veggies you like!) cut into wedges/chunks
10 cloves Garlic – peeled & minced (more or less depending on preference – don’t worry – when roasted, the garlic isn’t so powerful)
1T chopped fresh rosemary or 1t dried rosemary
Olive Oil
salt & ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°
In large bowl combine all ingredients and toss in Olive oil to coat all veggies, season with S&P
Spread veggies evenly in a large shallow roasting pan or aluminum lined baking sheet.  Roast, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until veggies are tender & golden.  

 

And last but not least, how can you have a Thanksgiving meal without…
Cranberry Relish

IMG_9689

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE canned cranberry jelly.  I don’t know why, but I do.  However, this cranberry relish is right up there these days.  The tartness of the cranberry with apple, is cut by the sweet citrus from the orange, and creates a fresh and delicious topping to your Thanksgiving plate (and obviously the turkey sandwiches the next day!!)

Ingredients:
⅓ Naval Orange (seedless orange)
¾ Green Apple, peeled and cored
¼ c. granulated sugar
3 c. fresh cranberries

Optional:  ground pecans or walnuts, minced basil

Keep the peel on the orange, and cut into sections, then cut those in half.  Peel the apples and cut into chunks as well.  Put both into a food processor, and grind it up – I like to keep the relish a bit chunky vs. puréed.  Remove from the food processor, and put in a bowl.  Rinse the cranberries, then put into the food processor.  Grind up until slightly chunky.  Transfer into a separate bowl.  Add the sugar into the cranberry in parts, mixing as you go.  Then slowly add in the mixture of orange and apple spoonful by spoonful, mixing as you go.  Taste as you go too!  Some people like more of the citrusy flavor from the orange, some prefer the cranberry flavor to be more overwhelming.  Keep blending it in until you have the flavor balance that you prefer!

If you are adding in nuts or basil to the mix, add them in once you have found the balance between cranberry and orange/apple.

 

 

We hope you all enjoy these recipes, and have a happy Thanksgiving!!  We are truly thankful for all of you, and that we are able to work with you every day.

 

Dueling Banh Mi: Chicken vs. Vegetarian

Sandwiches could easily be one of my favorite foods, and when sandwiches take on such amazing flavors that you crave that sandwich for weeks and weeks after having eaten it, well, that’s something special.  Banh Mi does exactly that.  It is so fresh, and is just perfection in every bite.  I credit this entirely to my love for the pickled carrots & daikon radish, I could put it on everything.  When I finished with these sandwiches, I chopped up the rest of my radishes, took the rest of the carrots,  and have a jar of each pickled in the fridge right now.

While you can substitute all different kinds of protein this sandwich, I am working on a budget here, so I like to buy a whole rotisserie chicken, and make multiple meals out of it – and this is far and away the best sandwich I have had with that rotisserie chicken!  Adding the meat into a sandwich is an obvious choice, and the banh mi brings in a whole different flavor profile that my other chicken meals just cannot compare with.  While the pork belly will probably always be my favorite, these two are a bit of a healthier alternative, and possibly a bit easier, because I just never seem to have pork belly just laying around the house, so I’ll need to keep going back to Commonwealth Cambridge when I have cravings for that.  Now for those of you who are on the “that’s too much bread for me” train…you could swap the bread out for a wrap, pita, or naan.

Pulled Chicken Banh Mi
(makes 2 sandwiches)

FullSizeRender

FOR THE PICKLING:
1c. Carrots julienned (fancy way of saying buy the bag of matchstick carrots from the market)
1c. Daikon Radishes julienned (they don’t sell these all chopped up, but it doesn’t take long – make them into matchsticks too)
2T Rice Vinegar
1T Granulated Sugar
Pinch salt

1.5c. Roasted Chicken, pulled apart with fork.  (I like to keep the chicken simple – heat it up on a skillet with some fresh ground black pepper so the fresh flavors can really shine through with the cilantro and the pickled daikon & carrots)
3T+ Mayonnaise (depends on much spread you like on your sandwiches, but the flavor is bomb, so don’t skimp too much!)
1+T Sriracha (more or less depending on how spicy you want it!)
Handful fresh cilantro
2 6-inch Baguette rolls (I used wheat rolls)
Cucumber Slices – thin (optional)
Avocado Slices (optional)

To pickle the carrots & daikon – add vinegar, sugar and salt into a bowl, and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.  Toss in the carrots and daikon, and mix to coat.  Let stand for 15-20 min at room temp, tossing occasionally.  There may be extra leftover, but it is so good, you can put it on anything.

Mix Sriracha and Mayo together in a small bowl.

Slice bread in half, and lightly toast just till warmed and the crust is nice and crispy, but the bread is still soft.

Now, build your sandwich!

Spread the mayo on both sides of the bread, start with the chicken, then add the carrots & daikon, then add the rest of your ingredients, slice in half, and enjoy!
Spicy Vegetarian Banh Mi
(makes 2 sandwiches)

IMG_8464

The pickling is the same, so see the recipe above.

SPREAD:
2T Mayonnaise
2T Low fat plain yogurt
1T Lime Juice
¼ + t  Cayenne Pepper – obviously the more you use the hotter it will be – so taste as you go!

Other ingredients:
1 avocado – sliced
4-5 thin slices Cucumber per sandwich
Handful fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper (remove the seeds if you don’t want it too hot!)
1 Scallion, sliced thin lengthwise in 2 inch pieces

Mix up the mayo, toast the bread, and build the sandwich!  Adding whatever additional vegetarian sandwich toppings you like!  With a sandwich like this, I wouldn’t add too many competing flavors – the pickled carrots and daikon with the cilantro and heat from the peppers and mayo is such a great balance, that too much else can sometimes take away from the simplicity and deliciousness of the sandwich!

So which will it be?  Chicken or Vegetarian?