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Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

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Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

I usually drag my feet/ never get around to adding the recipes that you all ask for.But 'tis the season for sharing (and for baking!) So if we treat, make it a wholesome treat!

To me the perfect muffin has the following components: 1) Packed with secret super-foods 2) Minimal and natural sugar 3) High in protein 4) Contains fresh fruit 5) An interesting texture

I put this little combination together while doing the unspeakable: mixing and matching baking recipes. And guess what? It was a major win! It's super flavorful, has unexpected crunch and enough protein that you can actually eat it for breakfast without feeling guilty. Not to mention it filled my house with an incredible holiday scent.

Please be brave to substitute ingredients within their types (but not their amounts.) That means if I suggest amaranth (and you say "what the heck is amaranth?"), but have another similar grain like millet or rye flakes, then go for it! If I suggest pumpkin seeds (because they are packed with Vitamin A and Zinc for immunity), but you'd rather have a seasonal hazelnut, be my guest!

Being brave in our cooking allows us to take ownership with what we do, and learn to fall in love with healthy food. My ultimate goal for you this winter is to remove the struggle from your relationship with health and replace it instead with enjoyment. Hense, healthy holiday muffins.

Enjoy!

Pear Spiced Protein Muffins

Ingredients 3/4 cup dried amaranth or millet or rye flakes 1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Wholesome Chow High Protein Baking/ Pancake mix because of its high protein content + it's gluten-free. But I'd also suggest the Thomas Keller GF flour mix) 1/2 cup additional gluten-free flour (coconut flour, spelt, rye) If you are not GF, feel free to add whole-wheat pastry flour 2 tsp cream of tartar (optional) 3/4 tsp baking soda 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp ground cardamom 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated preferred) 3/4 tsp kosher salt 1 cup of grated firm pear (aprox 1-2) 3/4 cup natural cane sugar (tubinado), honey or maple syrup (you can also can sub loosely packed dates) 6 Tbs coconut oil 1 cup yogurt, Kefir or coconut milk OR *gasp*, coconut milk eggnog (serious yum / slightly less healthy due to sugar content) 2 large eggs beaten 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

*Notes: 1) Chose the firmest pears you can and save the grating until the last possible moment to keep them from going brown. 2) I highly suggest the naughty addition of vegan eggnog, but be sure to minimize your sugar to 1/2> cup if you do. 3) This recipe makes approximately 12 standard muffins

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside - Raw amaranth, flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, nutmeg

Add sugar to a large bowl then melt coconut oil. Spoon tablespoons into the sugar and mix well. Then whisk in milk of choice, beaten eggs and vanilla. Lastly, grate 1 cup of fresh pear and then fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix.

Meanwhile, lightly toast your pumpkin seeds using the same coconut oil pan. Toast for 1-2 mins shaking often.

Mix in 1/2 the toasted pumpkin seeds to your mix. Reserve the 2nd half as a topper for each muffin.

Oil your muffin tin with coconut oil and fill the cups almost the top. Sprinkle each muffin with the remaining pumpkin seeds.

Put the muffins into the oven and immediately turn temperature down to 375. Bake for 22-27 minutes or until golden brown and feel firm to the touch. Or use the handy tooth pick trick: poke it in the middle, if it comes out clean it is ready. We all know that one, right?

When the muffins are ready, pull them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes. They will keep for 2 days if you store them in an airtight container or they freeze beautifully!

I like to serve these muffins with my immunity Rose Hip Jam so that I boost my health and lower my guilt, because I want to enjoy every fruit of my labor.

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In case you're wondering about my flour choice, here is a great high protein mix!

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Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

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Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

I have long shirked the flavors of overly granola, "hippie" snacks, due to the fact that I was raised on too much granola and hippie snacks.
But low and behold, as promised, "mom is always right."

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Thai Chicken Slaw

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Thai Chicken Slaw

I am always looking for delicious & nutritious salads that are easily made and can satisfy all week. This is my latest obsession. I was inspired to make a dish that was both full of crispy, fresh, summer veggies and also high in protein (and as usual, looking to add an Asian spin).  So I took the route of a colorful slaw, added some flavorful chicken and spiked the whole thing with spicy Thai chilies and fresh herbs. Yum, I'm hooked. This dish is fantastic eaten as a side dish, for lunch behind my steering wheel, or reinvented into an incredible dinner as kimchee lettuce wraps.

THAI CHICKEN SLAW

Ingredients: 

  • 1 chicken breast and 1 thigh (pan roasted, cooled and then shredded)
  • 1 head of purple cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 radishes
  • Handful of mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 Serrano pepper, Thai red chilies or 1/2 a jalapeno (to taste), seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1" nub of fresh ginger
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1-3 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp toasted cashews or peanuts
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Directions: 

Begin by seasoning and roasting the chicken.  Toss it with soy sauce and fresh ginger and roast at 350 F for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Set it aside to cool and then shred when it cools down enough to handle.

Shred your cabbage and carrots and add them to a very large mixing bowl. Slice radishes (and any other crunchy veggies you have on hand) and add them to the large bowl as well.

Create a dressing by mixing the shallots, cilantro, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and honey to a small jar with a lid.  Shake the heck out of it. When the dressing is well shaken, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and shake again. Shake it, shake it.

Add chicken to the big bowl and mix evenly into the veggies. Cover the whole thing with dressing and toss together thoroughly.

You can mix in the toasted nuts now, or save them until right before you eat.

Eat all week and in every way possible.

HINT: This salad is amazing served in a lettuce cup with kimchee!

The Skinny: Cabbage is part of the cruciferous family, best known for their anti-cancer properties (known as glucosinolates).  Other cruciferous are broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.  In fact, the anti-cancer effects are so well studied that it is one of the American Cancer Society's key dietary recommendations.  Beyond it's antioxidant qualities, cabbage also has very high levels of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, biotin, calcium, and magnesium.  Cabbage also has an anti-bacterial effect which makes it particularly beneficial for healing peptic ulcers and indigestion. This is due to the strong amino acid L-Glutamine, which heals and regenerates the stomach lining.  And lastly, as with the rest of the cruciferous, cabbage protects and cleanses the liver. So eat it up, for a liver clean up!

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How to Roast Chicken (and then eat it all week.)

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How to Roast Chicken (and then eat it all week.)

The very best roasting technique comes from one of the very best chefs in California: Thomas Keller of French Laundry. Luckily, it is also very simple and very rewarding.  Learn this recipe by heart and you will never go wrong.

One Pot Roast Chicken

Inspired by In the Green Kitchen, Alice Waters

Serves 4-6

Salt and fresh-ground pepper

2 or 3 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

2-3 Tbls butter (or olive oil.)

3 potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

2 celery stalks, thickly sliced

4 large shallots

5 cloves garlic, whole and peeled.

1 lemon chopped in 1/2

Fennel, squash, turnips, parsnips or your favorite root vegetable

To begin, prepare the chicken by bringing to room temperature 1 hour before your ready to begin cooking.  Remove the giblets if kept inside, wash, dry well and heavily season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Preheat the over to 450.

Season the inside cavity as well and take a few sprigs of fresh herbs, 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 a lemon and place inside the chicken.  Truss your chicken by tying the legs together with string and tucking the wing tips up and under the back of the neck.

With your remaining fresh herbs, chop them loosely and mix with the butter or olive oil.  Using your fingers to pull the skin away from the bird, rub the butter herb mix between the chicken breast and the outside skin.  This will help you to create perfect crispy skin.

Toss your chopped vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, fresh pepper and whole, peeled garlic cloves.  Lay them in a deep roasting pan, making a space in the center for the chicken.  Take a long piece of tin foil and crumple and round it to make a ring for the chicken to sit on.  Place the ring in the center of the veggies and the chicken on top, breast side up.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes before flipping over and roasting 20 more minutes with the breast side down.  Flip one last time, breast side up and lower the temperature to 400 for the last 20 minutes.  During the final 20 minutes continuously check the chicken every 5 minutes. The internal temp should read 160. Be sure to take the temperature where the breast and thigh meet.  If you do not have a meat thermometer, simply stick the tip of a knife where the breast and thigh meet. When the chicken is done the juices should run clear, not pink.

Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a cutting board or platter.  Allow to rest for 10- 15 minutes before carving.

And then eat it all week....

A roast chicken is one of those classic dishes that is so versatile you could transform the leftovers into at least 4 more dishes before you tire of it. Here are a few ideas:

Breakfast

  • Jook is a savory, Asian breakfast porrage. Make steel cut oats or polenta for the base and add shredded chicken, scallions, fresh ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil!
  • Sweet potato hash is a great way to start the day chop up 1/2  a sweet potato, onion, bell pepper and left over chicken.  While your at it, might as well poach an egg to go over the top.

Lunch

  • Transform your lunch time salad using your freshly roasted chicken. Add white beans, roasted fennel and toasted pine nuts for a delicious, filling salad.
  • I love a good chicken salad sandwich. Chop the leftover chicken and mix with yogurt or avocado to bind it. Then add curry, currents, sliced grapes and chopped walnuts. Serve open face on a hearty bread with arugula.

Dinner

  • Enchiladas or tacos: Shred the chicken, mix with cheese, black beans and fresh cilantro for enchiladas.  Or shred and sauté with kale, red bell pepper and chili flakes for fantastic taco filling. Serve with black beans and fresh avocado!
  • Chicken Soup is the most obvious choice for left over chicken, but get creative and try a chicken white bean chili or a chicken tortilla soup.

The Skinny

As we know chicken is a fantastic source of lean protein.It is also relitivly cheap to buy and easy to prepare. Chicken contains high levels of niacin, selenium, and vitamin B6. When cooked in a soup, chicken is an age old recipe known to boost the immune and fight the common cold. And in chinese medicine chicken is regarded as an energy booster and digestive support.

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Put an egg on it.

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Put an egg on it.

Put An Egg On It If you haven’t yet noticed the trend, I love eggs! I love them because they are delicious and versatile, yes, but also because they pack a 6gm of protein punch into any meal.  I grew up on eggs from the chicken coop and my most nostalgic meals are egg-centered breakfasts: Mama’s eggs Benedict, rice pancakes and herb scrambles.  These days I try to add them into the more savory, later meals of the day: Poached eggs over rice, hard boiled in a salad, eggs in purgatory, poached eggs on roast asparagus and isn’t any left-over better with a fried egg on it?

Today we are going to do eggs the easy way. Its early, I just finished a boot-camp hill day and I am famished.  Here’s the drill: cook oatmeal on stovetop as usual, crack a whole egg into the nearly cooked oats and stir in. Eat as normal, but be energized and more satiated with the protein power of eggs.  Your welcome.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup rolled oats, or 5 grain steel cut.

(*note: this could also work with microwaved oatmeal if your in a pinch.)

1 cup water

1 egg

Insert favorite topping here: Milk, nuts, fruit, sweetener (if needed.)

Mine: almond milk, pumpkin seeds, crystallized ginger

DIRECTIONS

Bring water to a boil with a pinch of salt.

Add oats, stir in and reduce heat to a simmer

Cook until oats thicken (about 7-10 for rolled oats, 15 for steel cut.)

Crack in an egg and mix well.

Remove from heat, add toppings and enjoy.

The skinny:

For those of you who wish you could eat more eggs, but have been scared off by rumors of high cholesterol, think again.  More and more studies confirm that most of our cholesterol levels are dictated by what is created in the liver, and that blood cholesterol levels are hardly effected by dietary cholesterol as previously thought.

Not only are eggs protein dense, but they are packed full of vitamins k, vitamin D, B vitamins (especially B12), selenium, choline, betaine, and 6.3 grams of protein. Rather then damaging your heart, eggs actually have several heart healthy nutrients. Betaine, for example, works to lower homocysteine levels (which when are high, can damage the blood vessels of the heart.) Eggs are very high in choline which feeds our brains, by providing flexability and integrity to brain cells. This makes it particularly good for nursing mothers as choline will be essential for their babies brain development.

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Unda-Style Egg Wrap (Make this. You'll love it)

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Unda-Style Egg Wrap (Make this. You'll love it)

I have always loved Indian roti rolls and upon learning of the egg laden unda-style version, I have never looked back to my ways of ordering past.  Unda-style is when a egg (pre scrambled) is added to a hot skillet, let set (like an omelet), then topped with a piece of naan.  The result is an egg-y, crepe-like vehicle for transporting Indian food to mouth. Last month all of this changed. I came across a startling variation in one of my favorite cooking blogs 101 cookbooks, where the idea has been altered to substitute the naan, for a less dense carb- the tortilla.  Since then my I have made and remade this protein packed wrap with just about anything- tortillas, lavash, pita, sprouted bread, etc. and topped with whatever looks fresh in my refrigerator.

And upon completing this mornings, asparagus, spicy feta shallot version, I decided it was time to share.  Feast away friends and get ready to boost your breakfast

Asparagus Unda Wrap

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1/4 shallot (thinly diced)

3 spears asparagus (sliced into 1 inch pieces)

1 handful of baby arugula or spinach.

1 Tbs Feta or goat cheese (I have been using Trader Jo's Chili Feta for a spicy kick)

2 eggs (scrambled and seasoned with S+P)

1 thin slice of whole wheat lavash flat bread, OR 1 side of a whole wheat pita pocket, OR whole wheat tortilla, etc.

DIRECTIONS

1) Heating 1 tsp oil in pan add shallots and let soften (approx. 30 sec.) Add asparagus and season lightly with salt and pepper.)

2) Put the asparagus aside on a plate and add the scrambled eggs to your smallest sauce pan.  Swirl them in the pan to spread out evenly.  Let set about 1 min.

3) Add your bread/tortilla/ pita directly on top of the egg and give it about 30 seconds to bind.  Flip egg/ bread completely over without breaking or folding (bread-side down on the pan) and let set another 10-30 seconds.

4) During these last 30 seconds, place the asparagus, cheese and arugula back in the pan on top of your egg creation.  When cooked through, slide the whole thing on to the plate, roll and devour.

*What variations have you tried?

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