Wash the greens and dry the leaves in salad spinner or with paper towel. Tear the leaves into big chunks. Mix the greens with the olive oil and whatever other ingredients you choose. You could add garlic or chili powder also. See the variations I made below.
Greens, kale or otherwise
Lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
Greens, kale or otherwise
Greens, kale or otherwise
Spread the greens out over a cookie sheet. I put aluminum foil down and sprayed with olive oil. For all varieties, Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. The lemon chips took a little longer and did better on the lower rack in the oven. The greens that crisped up the best was first the kale, followed by collard greens and beet greens. The kids loved the lemon ones the best and the adults liked the cheesy variety. We served ours with homemade salsa! (see the Salsa blog post for recipes)
Let me know if you try them and what worked best for you! Enjoy!
1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, cut into 1/4's
2 cloves Garlic (crushed, or chopped)
1/2 Onion (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp. Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste or Everyday Seasoning
Toss the ingredients in a bowl and roast on a cookie sheet in the oven at 425 degrees, for about 30min.
You can also pan roast the ingredients or saute them on top of the stove, which I think gives you a little more control of how well they are cooked and they tend to dry out less.
Tonight since the oven was already hot, I also roasted some beets with goat cheese.
I served my veggies tonight with Halibut. I cooked the Halibut stove top with onion, garlic, chile paste and amino acids, in my favorite Le Creuset pan! It turned out perfect!
Why did I serve my veggies with Halibut tonight? Just for the Hal-ib-ut...haha! Sorry, but I love that corny Halibut joke, it is a great memory from my childhood! My mother, who never ever ever says a 'bad' word, told me once when I was about 8yrs old that she was cooking Halibut...Why?...for the Hal-ib-ut! I remember that I was so shocked, and that I wanted to laugh, but didn't know if I should. Then she started cracking up, and I did too. I learned that clever use of language, any language, was ok, it was the ignorant use of a word that kept my Mother from using 'bad' words in her vocabulary, she just never had any use for them. I did not like fish when I was a kid, but I ate it that night with a sense of pride, because my Mom felt that I was 'adult' enough to understand her cleverness.
I know that typically fish is served with a white wine, but I love my reds. And the Ballbuster Shiraz is one of my favorites in it's price range. Keep being creative with your veggies, and try something new every once in a while. Bon Apetit!
Salsa Fresca Ingredients:
5 Roma Tomatoes (diced)
1/2 Onion (small dice)
2 Garlic cloves (chopped or crushed)
1-2 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper (small dice)
1/2 bunch Cilantro (chopped)
Salt to taste
*Tip: After washing the cilantro, dry it off with a paper towel so it doesn't stick to the knife when you chop it. Also use mostly the leaves and discard the stems.
*Tip: Use a serrated edge knife to cut tomatoes without fuss.
In a bowl mix together tomatoes, onions, chilli pepper, cilantro. Squeeze juice of one lime over the top and salt to taste.
Moving on to the Guaca-MOL...e (pronouncing the the MOL part of the word like the Spanish soccer announcers do when someone makes a GOAL...) Now avocados might be one of the fattiest fruits out there, but it is all good healthy fat! Good for your heart; avocados contain 76 milligrams beta-sitosterol in a 3-oz serving. Beta-sitosterol is a natural plant sterol which may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and other phytonutrients such as, carotenoid lutein, which studies show may help maintain healthy eyes. With that said...let's make some GUAC!
4 Roma Tomatoes
1/2 Onion (or Shallots are a nice alternative)
2-3 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper
2-3 Garlic cloves (crushed or chopped)
1 bunch Cilantro (chopped)
1 Lime (fresh squeezed juice)
Cut the avocados in half and spoon out the inside, removing the seeds and placing aside. Mash the avocados with a spoon or a little plastic cup. Then add tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilli peppers and cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top, salt to taste and stir.
*Now if you are knife savvy, after the avocado is cut in half, you can hit the avocado seed with the sharp edge of the chef knife, then with a little twist of the wrist...voila, the seed pops right out. But please be very careful with that move, cuz blood will ruin the guacamole ;-)
*Tip: to keep the guacamole from turning brown, add back the avocado seeds. And for storage, squeeze a small amount of lime juice over the top and cover with saran wrap, placing the saran wrap right on top of the guac, leaving no room for air.
Both Guacamole and Salsa Fresca are great in place of salad dressing. Tonight, for meatless dinner night, they are served along side Red Beans with Queso Fresco and Brown Rice. Yummy! I hope you all will enjoy these as much as I do!
Spinach packs a powerful nutrition punch! 3.5 oz of raw spinach contains over 300% RDA of Vitamin A, 460% RDA of Vitamin K, 49% RDA of Folic Acid, and 47% RDA of Vitamin C, all for 25 calories! It is also a rich source of Vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids (ALA).
8 oz spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves (chopped or crushed)
1 cup mushrooms (chopped)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins (I used golden raisins here)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a dry saute pan toast the pine nuts and raisins until golden. Set aside.
By the way, just a side note, the toasted pine nuts and raisins make a great snack as is or as an addition to any trail mix you may already have on hand!
In another hot saute pan with olive oil add garlic and mushrooms, cook on high until they start to brown. Turn the heat down to medium low and start adding one handful of spinach to the pan at a time until it starts to wilt, and then keep adding spinach until it is all in the pan and wilted. Add the toasted pine nuts and raisin and salt and pepper to taste. *Another option is to sprinkle feta or goat cheese over the top.
I used the everyday seasoning in a grinder from Trader Joe's. The ingredients are sea salt, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander, onion, garlic, paprika and chilli pepper. It's a nice way to enhance flavor without too much slat.
This can be served as side dish or by itself as a snack. I have also put it in my hummus veggie wraps. Yummy! Enjoy this wonderfully nutritious dish totally guilt free!
How are we doing with our first nutrition challenge of the year? If you haven't started, it is never too late! Aim for 5 handfuls everyday of fruits and vegetables! This is a positive goal. Instead of focusing on what you can't have or shouldn't eat, focus on what you can have!
Now for the sake of making this sound appetizing, I will leave out the part about the flies, bees, lack of running water to wash anything in and basically the whole lack of cleanliness period! When in Rome...or Mexico in this case, sometimes you have to close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and say, 'lalala.'
Okay, so there are these little carts in the streets, usually at the street corners, attended by one, sometimes two people if it's a busy spot, and they are full of watermelon, other melons, pineapple, coconut, cucumbers, and jicama....options vary depending on the cart you get. Everything is picked ripe, it is not picked green, put on truck and driven hundreds of miles to the grocery store like it is here in the U.S., so it all tastes AMAZING!
They slice the fruit into chunks or rajas (long slices) and there is a choice of toppings, basically lime, chili and salt. So you choose the fruit you want and they put it in a plastic cup and squeeze fresh lime all over it and sprinkle (or in some cases dowse) with chili powder and salt. And there you go...Fresh Tangy and Spicy Cocktail de Fruta! The first couple of years that I ate these, I did without the lime, chili and salt. After all, I didn't want to ruin the flavor of my sweet delicious fruit! Then after a while I would get two separate cocktails, one sweet and fresh with watermelon, melon, and pineapple and the other tangy and spicy with coconut, jicama, and cucumber dowsed in lime, chili and salt. Later, I got more adventerous, and I started to mix the sweet, sour and spicy and learned to LOVE IT!!!
So time to make your own! Here is our home variation:
Jicama peeled and sliced:
Squeeze lime over the top of whatever fruit or vegetable you have. Here we have jicama, cucumber, shredded carrots, watermelon, and pineapple:
Then sprinkle the salt and chili:
Now even if you don't like the lime and/or chili powder on everything, I hope this at least inspires you to chop up some fresh fruit and make whatever fruit cocktail you enjoy. The honey dew melons and cantaloupe are good right now! Cherries are great too. Be creative, mix it up a little and Enjoy!
I have always referred to this dish as vegetable picadillo, but as I proceed to blog on this, I googled the word picadillo just to see what I would get...Well, it almost always seems to include ground beef mixed with various things (depending on the Latin decent), which is not what my recipe is at all! I remember my Ex mother-in-law cooking the ground beef picadillo with peas and potatoes (which was also very good) but I also remembered a vegetable picadillo, which in my mind basically means, 'a mix of whatever vegetables thrown together with garlic, tomato, cilantro, and chile peppers.' And at this point, I don't care anymore if the terminology is right. It has been in my head for all these years as such and so it is...My Vegetable Picadillo! (This is the kind of thing that happens when you become fluent in foreign language without ever actually taking a class.) I called a friend of mine whose first language is Spanish and she confirmed that there is no such thing as 'Vegetable Picadillo,' and that the dish I am referring to is actually called 'Calabazas a la Mexicana.' So, call it what you will, but this recipe is easy and delicious!
Garlic (crushed or finely chopped)
Serrano chiles (finely chopped or whole)
Your choice of the following vegetables:
Sugar snap peas
Corn (frozen or fresh)
Peas (frozen or fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop garlic, tomatoes and your choice of veggies into bite size pieces.
Pull the leaves off the cilantro stems.
*I like to leave the chiles whole so that those who do not like spicy can easily see and avoid them and those of us who do enjoy spicy can cut off as much of the chile as desired to eat with our vegetables.
Heat olive oil in frying pan and add garlic and chiles first, then add your chopped veggies. (I put the vegetables in the order they should be added in the ingredient list, due to how fast they cook.)
Finally add tomatoes, cilantro leaves, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Serve as a side to fish, chicken, beef, eggs or by itself as a warm veggie snack on a cold winter day. Feel free to tweak this recipe...maybe add oregano or thyme instead of cilantro? Make up your own version of 'My Vegetable Picadillo!' Enjoy your veggies, they should be a treat to eat not a boring chore! And as always, let me know what you think, I would love to get your feedback!
Nutritional Value of Chayote: 1 cup = 25 Calories and has 2 grams of fiber
Remember fiber is a good thing! And is just one of the reasons why our first nutritional challenge is to eat 5 handfuls of fruits/vegetables everyday. Many whole wheat slices of bread have over 100 calories with only 2-3 grams of fiber. That's only a 1/4 of fiber this little chayote provides per 100 calories! So you can see why can see why fruits/vegetables are our best shot when it comes to getting enough fiber in your diet.
Okay, so let's eat some chayote!
Oven Roasted: Just cut in half, spray with olive oil, cover and cook at 375 for about 40 min. This one is topped with queso fresco and makes a great snack.
Sometimes chayote is boiled. And I like the way it turns out when you boil it, but just make sure to use your chayote broth in soup, rice or quinoa, so you don't throw out those nutrients that are left behind in the water.
Here it is served with dinner: Pollo Pipian (see the Going Green recipe) and quinoa (red and white). Delicious!
Chayote is a must try, if you haven't already. Chime in...I would love to hear your thoughts!
Bell Peppers are so versatile...and packed full of nutrients! Plus they are eye candy; making any plate tempting, especially when you use a variety of colors!
Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid. Bell peppers also contain antioxidants; chlorogenic acid,zeaxanthin, and coumeric acid. Studies show that red bell peppers seem to have higher levels of these nutrients than green. The red peppers also contain lycopene which is a carotene that protects against cancer and heart disease.
They can be used raw, roasted, or sauteed (fajita style). Dip them in hummus, use in salads and soups, on tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches and wraps. The possibilities are endless!
Raw; peppers have a great watery crunch that burst in your mouth...so fresh!
Saute sliced peppers over high heat with sliced onion and finely chopped garlic (ingredients shown in picture above). Feel free to add a hot poblano or jalapeno pepper for some kick!. The trick is to get the pan HOT first and don't cook too long. These peppers are great with fish, chicken, beef, eggs or tofu. They can be served with tortillas, rice, guacamole or salsa...And the smell of this cooking up makes your mouth water!
This is my personal favorite! The pictures below show the process. Place washed peppers over an open flame, either outside on the grill or on a gas top range. Here I used one red, yellow, orange and one poblano (because I love spicey). Blacken, turning when needed to get all sides. Sweat the blackened peppers (Yes, I said sweat...not by taking them on a run, but more like putting them in a steam room) by placing them into a plastic bag and sealing. After about 15 minutes, they can be cleaned under running water, removing most of the burnt skin. Remove seeds and slice or chop as desired. Fire roasted peppers are great as a pizza topping, on a sandwich or wrap, in a salad or soup. I love to put them in a wrap with hummus, spinach and mushrooms. Enjoy!
Vegetables can be fun and delicious! Please share your ideas for getting more fruits and vegetables in your day! I would love to hear from you!
You must have a plan! The grocery store can be like a battlefield. Don't be a casualty to the secret bombs that are up and down the aisle! For our first challenge this year to eat 5 handfuls of fruits and vegetables everyday, you will need to stay around the perimeter of the store—most of your essential foods are found there anyway. Think about it: produce, dairy, eggs, meat...
For fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen is best. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked and frozen at their peak, so the nutrients are locked in. It's a good idea to eat the fresh produce first before it goes bad and then towards the end of the week use what's in your freezer. Canned vegetables can be full of sodium, so if you have to eat them, give them a rinse first. Canned fruit, is usually full of added sugars, so if you have to eat them, buy them canned in their own juice and discard the juice before eating. What about juice? Does that count for my fruit servings? NO.
Before You Go
Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you have had something to eat. When you are hungry everything looks good. Remember the cartoon where they are stranded and they start to see each other as meat, as food? First make a quick list of menu ideas for the week, then make your shopping list. Example: For breakfast this week, I will have either eggs with veggies or yogurt with berries and flax...so my list: eggs, spinach, onion, peppers, tomatoes and yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, ground flax seed. Do the same for lunch, dinner and snacks.
At the Store
Try to stick with what is on your list. If it is not on your list and doesn't contribute to your planned meals, you don't need it!
Okay, now your cart is full and your list is all checked off and you are at the check out. Watch out for the impulse buys at check-out! You have survived the whole maze of the grocery store, your cart is clean, don't blow it up now with a check-out grenade! Maybe a pack of gum for those gum chewers out there, but nothing else!!!
Once You Get Home
Go home and wash and chop your veggies for the week. You should feel proud of yourself, you didn't bring any tempting chips, cookies, candy, etc. home with you! You don't know how many times I hear parents blaming their children, “I buy fruits and vegetables and he/she doesn't eat them, they just go bad.” Really???...well is there other junk in the house to eat? What kid is going to come home from school and grab an apple to snack on when there are Hot Cheetos in the cupboard? The same goes for adults! Don't set yourself up for failure! When you get home after a long day, and you are tired and hungry, if there is junk food in your house, you are going to eat it!
Fruit juice can be okay in small amounts for active people, but for the most part, you are better off eating the whole fruit, which is full of fiber and slows down how fast the natural sugars from the fruit get into the blood. If sugar goes into your blood nice and slow, then your body is able to use it better for energy. For many people, like the overweight children I see, if they drink sugary drinks (soda, Gatorade and yes even 100% fruit juice), and sit around watching TV and playing video games, their triglycerides go up and many times their insulin. They are not burning all the sugar off by running, biking, or playing outside. And your body only has two options for sugar or calories; use it or store it (as fat). Don't get your children used to drinking sweet beverages people. It starts with juice in the bottle and I have actually even seen Kool-Aid and soda in bottles and sippie cups! Babies don't need juice or any other sweet beverage. You are just setting up their taste buds for a battle in their overweight future!!!
So let's Recap:
We made a menu for the week, we made a shopping list from our menu, we didn't go to store hungry, we bought only what was on our list and we came home and started chopping some of the veggies we will need for the week.
Yeah! We are on our way to successfully meeting our first challenge! 5 handfuls of fruits and vegetables a day! You Can Do It!
With the cold weather, soup is a perfect way to get more veggies into your diet! I believe the key to making a great vegetable soup is by starting with a great broth! While the chicken broth bought at the store can work in a pinch, it doesn't render the flavor that makes me crave my vegetable soup for days until it's gone.
I am a busy working Mom and I don't get home until after 6pm, so this vegetable soup I actually did in two parts. One night, when we heated up leftovers for dinner, I made the chicken broth. And the following night I chopped the vegetables and finished the soup for that evening's meal. With that said...let's make our broth...
Start with a whole chicken or with different cuts of chicken; legs, thighs, breasts. Do not use boneless, skinless chicken, unless you want a flavorless broth! In school, I was taught to use a Mirepoix, which is the fancy French word that simply translates to carrots, celery, and onion. To this, I always add garlic cloves as well. It is best if you sauté these ingredients slightly first to bring out more flavor, caramelizing the natural sugars in these vegetables. If you are really pressed on time, you can skip this step, but again you will be skipping on flavor as well.
A rough chop on the vegetables and then into the hot sauté pan with a little oil they go, don't stir too often, let them brown a little.
In a large pot, place your chicken pieces, your Mirepoix veggies, and add water to cover a couple inches over the ingredients. Bring this to a rolling boil, then turn it down slightly to a medium boil. Let it boil as long as you like, but at least until the chicken is done. I had this on the stove while we ate dinner.
At this point, you can either let this cool and then refrigerate to finish off the next day, or you can keep going and finish your soup...If you are going to refrigerate the broth, the best way to cool it down, is to transfer it into another pot (that isn't hot) and place it in an ice bath (basically plug your sink and fill it with water and ice...a good time to get rid of all the extra ice in the ice maker ;-). Let the broth sit in the ice bath, stirring occasionally until it is cool enough to store in the refrigerator.
On with the soup...
There is no limit to the types of vegetables you can add to your soup. I will list some here in the order they might be added to your broth due to how long it takes for them to cook. The smaller you chop your veggies, the faster they will cook. ('Thanks John') Use whichever ones you like or find in season at the grocery store.
Vegetables for your soup:
Sugar Snap Peas
any frozen veggie (peas, corn)
Strain your chicken broth, so that you are only left with the liquid. Pull the chicken off the bones and set aside, everything else can be discarded. Put part of your broth in a blender and add 2-3 Roma tomatoes, blend on high and add back to the pot with the rest of the broth. Bring your broth to a boil and then start to add your vegetables; the harder to cook ones first. Don't be afraid of this step, the more you make vegetable soup the better you will get at timing when to add the vegetables and how long to cook them. I personally like my vegetables a little on the crunchy side as opposed to vegetable mush. If that is your preference, don't walk away from the stove, they cook up pretty fast...
When the veggies are done you can add back the chicken pieces or use the chicken for another dish, like enchiladas, which is what I often do...You can also add to your soup pre-cooked noodles, rice, or beans. Be creative and use what you have in the fridge. Options: Top your soup with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, or cheese. I like to sauté some crushed garlic and mushrooms in a pan and add it to the soup at the very end. When I do this, Roxanne, my daughter, tells me it's the best vegetable soup she has ever had!!! Serve your veggie soup as a meal by itself or with a sandwich or quesadilla.
Please offer up any tips from your personal experience, or ideas on your favorite ingredients to add. Let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
While I can make some pretty good Salsa, and I am not too shabby at dancing Salsa either...my best friend Gloria, IS the Salsa Queen! So, I am going to consult her for this blog post. If you are not a fan of the picante, then you can always edit the chile content. Salsa works beautiful for adding flavor without fat and it's made with vegetables, so it's healthy! Get excited people, you can't go wrong with salsa!
Three very simple salsas. Seriously, these were much easier than I anticipated. All you need is a blender, a pot and a pan. Here we go...
3 tomatoes (top of core cut out)
2 serrano chiles
1/2 clove of garlic
salt to taste
Roast tomatoes, serranos, and garlic in pan. Let cool slightly, remove most of the tomato skin, and then blend all ingredients with a dash of salt on medium speed in blender. (In this picture there are 3 serranos, and it was very HOT! So, I recommend using only 1 or 2. I find that chile peppers tend to be hotter in the winter months, so vary the recipes as needed.) Gloria's tip: Roma tomatoes work best for this salsa, and remove the top core because it doesn't blend well.
Tomatillo Arbol Salsa:
5-6 chile de arbol (these are dried little red chile pods)
1/2 clove garlic
salt to taste
Boil tomatillos with chile de arbol in just enough water to cover. After tomatillos are cooked, pour out most of the water. Everything goes into the blender including garlic and a dash of salt, blend medium speed. Gloria's tip: make sure chile de arbol is fully immersed in water below tomatillos, or they float to the top and don't soften up as well.
Salsa de Aguacate (Avocado):
handful of cilantro
1/8 of an onion
1 garlic clove
2-3 serrano chiles
salt to taste
Place all ingredients in the blender on medium-high speed. This salsa is tangy and creamy and as spicy as you want to make it.
The uses for all of these salsas are limited only by your imagination. They are perfect for tacos, quesadillas, eggs, fish, chicken, steak or even as a salad dressing. And of course, these salsa work great with chips. We served them with a variety of 'green chips.' Made from kale, collard greens, chard, mustard greens and even beet greens, but more on that in another blog...
Let me know how these work for you and stay tuned for another Salsa blog in the near future. Special thanks to Gloria for sharing her salsa expertise with us!
What about 'Green Eggs and Ham' for breakfast? 'Green' coming from spinach, collard greens or zucchini. Scrambled eggs or eggwhites with garlic, onion, mushrooms, spinach and canadian bacon or lowfat ham, top with a some avocado slices and a little salsa fresca...Yes! I'm in! If you made fajita, or roasted peppers or the vegetable picadillo the night before, throw that in. (See blog posts for peppers, vegetable picadillo and salsa for those recipes. Make once, use twice!)
To meet your goal you must have a ritual. The goal: 5 handfuls of fruits and vegetables everyday! The ritual: Have a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack.
4-5 Chicken Breasts (skin removed)
Chicken broth, about 4 cups(see the vegetable soup post if you want to make your own chicken broth)
4-5 Garlic cloves
1/2 cups pepitas aka...pumpkin seeds (shelled)
1/2 lb. bag Spinach or any other leafy green
4 Poblano Chiles (chop, seeds removed)
8 tomatillos (husk removed)
Pan sear Chicken pieces, add chicken broth and bring to a full boil, continue to boil over medium high heat until done (no pink left). Let the chicken cool and shred into bite size pieces.
In a separate frying pan, toast pepitas sightly until light golden brown. Set aside. *No oil is needed, just a dry hot pan will do.
In the blender add spinach, poblano pieces, tomatillos, pepitas, garlic and just enough broth to blend easily. *This will have to be done in 2 or more batches.
Pour sauce over chicken pieces and simmer for about 10 min.
Top with sliced onion, cheese (queso fresco is good on this) and toasted pepitas. Serve as is or with rice, potato, or corn tortillas. Tonight we served it with quinoa and chayote.