Thai Chicken Soup for Immunity

Thai Chicken Soup for Immunity

That cold that has been going around finally caught up with me. Sunday night I felt the oh-so-familiar scratchiness in my throat, and I know it had come for me. I took Sunday night to be super lazy and watch all the netflix, but on Monday I decided to take action, and I cobbled together this version of the classic remedy for the common cold: Chicken Soup. 

First a side note: I am OBSESSED with Thai coconut chicken soup, or Tom Kha Gai. So far I have yet to find a restaurant in Oakland that has an awesome one on their menu. If you know of a spot with stellar soup, hit me up in the comments!! Please. Seriously. DO IT NOW. 

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Chocolate Chili

Chocolate Chili

Hi, my name is Hannah and I am a chocoholic.

Actually, let me amend that: I am of the opinion that chocolate is a food group. And yes, I am also a nutrition coach. If you share this belief, and revel in the glory of the Cocoa Bean, then this chili is for you, my friend. I made a double batch this week because grass fed beef was on sale at my local market (shout out to Farmer Joe’s in Oakland’s Dimond district!), and also because leftovers are the best way to give gifts to your future self. 

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Thanksgiving "Stuffing" Turkey Loaf

Thanksgiving "Stuffing" Turkey Loaf

Didn't get your fill of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce? Yeah me neither. 

This Turkey Loaf satisfies all of my taste cravings for a full thanksgiving meal, and it's in alignment with my nutritional guidelines: Protein-rich, lots of veggies including dark leafy greens, low-carb, and gluten free! 

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Asian-Inspired Salad & Chicken with Peanut Sauce

I love Thai food, but my current plan to save money doesn't allow for ordering take out. This conundrum turned into a new creative challenge: cook with asian flavors! So far I've been amazed how well my experiments have turned out. We have been getting a bunch of carrots every week in our Imperfect Produce box (if you live in Oakland and you don't subscribe to this service you are missing out - it's a great deal and they deliver to your doorstep--say I referred you!). This week we also got a beautiful bunch of cilantro, and some red bell peppers. I figured we could plow through a bunch of those carrots if I grated them and put them in some sort of slaw, so I loosely followed this recipe, with some key tweaks. 

Asian-Style Salad & Roasted Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce

What you need:

Peanut Sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Chicken:

  • 2-4lbs Chicken Thighs - bone in, skin on (organic, hormone-free is ideal)
  • 7-2-1 Seasoning (7tbs sea salt, 2 tbs black pepper, 1tbs garlic powder. Optional: 1/4 tsp cayenne i added this and it is the perfect amount of heat without being too spicy, highly recommend)

Salad:

  • 1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 6 carrots, grated in cuisinart
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

  • 3 T Rice vinegar
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T tamari soy sauce (gluten free) 

 

what i did

  1. Get your oven preheated to 425. 
  2. Make the peanut sauce. Put all ingredients into a medium pyrex bowl and microwave for 20 sec to melt the PB and coconut oil, then stir it like you mean it. The ginger and garlic infuse the sauce beautifully the longer it sits, so you want to do this early. Can even be done a day ahead. 
  3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels - this ensures you will get crispy skin. trust me, you want crispy skin. Season all side of the chicken thighs liberally with your 7-2-1 seasoning, then set them on the wire rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch the drippings. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, then test with a meat thermometer. Internal temp should be at least 180. If it's not there yet, put them back in for another 10 minutes. 
  4. While the chicken is baking, get your salad ingredients prepped and mixed. I used my Cuisinart to do the carrots (grater blade) and the red cabbage (mandoline blade), and chopped the green onions, cilantro, bell peppers and napa cabbage by hand. It makes a lot, I had to use my two largest salad bowls to contain it all! Luckily this slaw keeps and works well as leftovers, as long as you add the dressing right before you eat it. 
  5. Make your slaw dressing. Whisk together rice vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, and tamari in a bowl, or shake them up in a mason jar so you can easily save for later. 
  6. Dress only the portion of slaw that you plan to eat immediately, save the rest for lunches or quick meals throughout the week. 
  7. Allow the chicken to cool 10mins before serving. 
  8. Dip your chicken in peanut sauce, enjoy the crispy crunch of your salad,  and congratulate yourself for making a cheap, delicious, nutritious meal. 

Health Factors:

There are so many great things going on in this meal. 

  1. You're eating a lot of colors. When it comes to vegetables, bright/deep colors indicate high nutrient density. You can easily ensure that you are getting a good variety of healthy vitamins and minerals by making sure you "eat the rainbow"
  2. You're crunching on cruciferous cabbage. Cruciferous veggies are often called "super veggies" check our more on that here. 
  3. You're getting high quality protein. Protein-dense foods should be the cornerstone of your meals if your goal is energy, health, fat loss, improved athletic performance, or any combination thereof. 

If you give this recipe a go, please Tell me how it went in the comments... 

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Rough on the outside, sweet on the inside. 

Rough on the outside, sweet on the inside. 

Lately we have been getting a bounty of sweet potatoes in our Imperfect Produce delivery box, so I decided to whip up a big batch of cubed roasted sweet potatoes. They are amazingly delicious fresh out of the oven, and they play well as leftovers: 

  • Beef up a salad by sprinkling them on top of your favorite mixed greens and adding protein like grilled chicken breast, leftover steak slices, or chick peas. 
  • Whip up a killer breakfast hash by heating some coconut oil or bacon fat in your skillet (cast iron is the bizness), toss in a handful of sweet potatoes chunks, sprinkle seasoning (paprika, fresh thyme if  you have it, garlic powder) and toss every minute or so until they are crusty and crisped on at least 1 edge. Top that with 2-3 fried eggs and some hot sauce and life is good. Also you have just made a hearty breakfast that will keep you full for hours in under 6 minutes. 

Food that works well as leftovers is GOLD in my house, because I generally don't have much time for cooking during the week. My key strategy for making sure my nutrition is on point involves cooking a big batch of protein and a few veggies sides, usually on Sunday, and then reheating and recombining throughout the week to make easy, fast meals.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Lots of sweet potatoes (5 or more) - peel 'em if they aren't organic
  • onion or garlic (optional, but adds to the awesome)
  • Fat (something that is naturally occurring and has a high smoke point like coconut oil or bacon fat--NOT olive oil which will burn and leave your taters tasting funky)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large baking sheets
  • parchment paper (optional, but makes for easy clean up and nicely caramelized sweet potato bites

WHAT TO DO:

PREP: Preheat your oven to 425. Cut your parchment paper to fit your baking sheets. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut your onion (I used a red onion, but yellow is just as good) into 1 inch "cubes" which will inevitably fall apart and that's ok--it just means more crispy delicious onion bits for you later! Plop some fat on the parchemnt. If you're using coconut oil or bacon fat, those will be solid at room temperature (unless you live somewhere very warm) so you'll want to dollop some on each pan in the center, and then stick those pans in the oven for a minute to melt the fat. 30 seconds to a minute it plenty. 

Now you're ready to rock. Pull the pans out, dump half of the potatoes and onions on each pan and toss with a spatula to coat in the fat. Don't add salt yet! Spread the sweet potatoes and onions in an even single layer on the baking sheets. Space between the chunks will ensure that they don't get soggy/mushy and they DO get nicely caramelized--you want this, trust me. 

Stick the pans in the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes. 

At the 20 minute mark, check to see if your potatoes are getting  nicely browned on the underside. If yes, stir with your spatula and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until they are soft and compress slightly at the touch. If no, put them back in unstirred for another 5 minutes, then check again. 

When they are done, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and stir. The potatoes will be warm enough still to make the seasonings adhere. Adding salt BEFORE you back will make your potatoes tough, which is why we skipped it earlier. 

ENJOY! Add a comment and let me know how you recombined your leftovers this week. 

Paleo Chili (Slow Cooker Style)

This is my first summer back in Northern California in almost 10 years. I forgot how wonderful it is to be free of humidity! Definitely a perk. I also forgot how cold it can be at night, or on a foggy day. Given that combo, it's nice to come home to a warm meal for dinner, which inspired today's recipe for Paleo Slow Cooker Chili.

There are many amazing things about using a slow cooker, including setting your ingredients in the morning and coming home to a hot and ready meal that night. The slow cooker also doesn't emit much heat while it's in use (compared to the oven or the stove), making it a perfect choice for those summer days when your apartment is already warmer than you might like. 

I originally ran across this recipe when I went to make chili in the winter, and realized we were out of chili powder. Turns out you can sub hot sauce for chili powder. Since we ALWAYS have hot sauce on hand (it is an essential breakfast component, more on that later) this was a great solution. The man and I liked the hot sauce variation so much, we have been tweaking this recipe ever since! 

Poor TrashCat--she thinks the can opener means TUNA! Sometimes it's just tomatoes. 

Poor TrashCat--she thinks the can opener means TUNA! Sometimes it's just tomatoes. 

Think of these ingredients as a suggestion. The main idea is to start with a ground protein source, add in some hearty vegetables that will hold up for leftovers and be filling in the way that beans are, and then season to your taste with hot sauce, cumin and S&P. Here's what I did:

  • 2lbs Grass Fed Ground Beef
  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 2 Cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can kidney beans (optional)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tb Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Generous dousing of Trader Joe's chili pepper sauce (or other hot sauce of your liking)

Start by browning your beef with a little salt and pepper. When all the pink parts disappear, take it off the heat and put in in the slow cooker. Put the lid on. Dice up your veggies. 

 

Saute the cauliflower pieces, garlic, and onions until the cauliflower is al dente. You don't want it to be too soft, because it will cook and soften more in the slow cooker. At this point I added some smoked paprika to the cauliflower, because yum! And it looks pretty in the pan. 

Dump everything into the slow cooker, I added some extra hot chilis here, again partly because I wanted a little extra heat, and also because garnish makes a pretty picture! 

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Douse the contents of your slow cooker with chili pepper sauce.

Signature ingredient!

Signature ingredient!

 Mix well, put the lid on, and cook on low for 4 hours. I was really happy with how this chili came out. The mushrooms added a lovely depth of flavor, the cauliflower made it filling, the seasoning made it spicy/sweet/tangy/smokey. And it held up well for leftovers and re-heating. My general strategy for keeping my nutrition on track is to make a big batch of 2 different things on Sunday that we can eat for lunches and some dinners for the week. I am all about efficiency cooking. This recipe will definitely stay in the rotation.  

Try this recipe and this strategy and let me know how it works for you. 

Cheers! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Vegan No-Bake Brownie Bites

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Let it be known: I am not a vegan. 

I am not even a vegetarian. And as perviously established, I don't bake. But I am a self-professed glutard, and as such birthday parties tend to be lacking in dessert options for me. My best gal friend turned 30 this week, and threw a birthday picnic potluck by beautiful Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. The man and I are still getting settled in to our new apartment in Oakland, and our kitchen is in a questionably useful state of unpacking and organization. But I wanted to bring something homemade because 1) a friend of 18+ years deserves only the best, and 2) selfishly, I wanted to a bring a dessert that I would be able to enjoy. These brownie/fudge bites fit all my criteria: real food, no refined sugar, naturally gluten free, no baking required.  Best of all they only require one piece of kitchen equipment: a food processor. Which I happen to have. And which I happened to have unpacked. 

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I loosely followed this recipe, extra points for the Eminem reference in the title! I totally didn't follow the measurements, because who has time for that?

Here's what I did:

2/3 bag of Trader Joe's (TJ) raw walnuts 

1.5 bag TJ's dried unsweetened cherries (not in the recipe, inspired by my friend Kat)

1 package Mejool Dates from TJ (minus 5 that had been eaten at an earlier date haha) 

2 Capfuls Vanillia Extract

3 (?) Heaping table spoons Cocoa Powder (who'd counting? Just keep tasting to see if it's chocolatey enough)

1/2 Tsp sea salt (optional) 

PULSE in your food processor until it resembles dry brownie batter. 

Before and after

Before and after

Now, at this point you are supposed to roll them into balls. Mine weren't sticking together because I didn't get the nut to date ratio right, but I was out of dates. So I put a big scoop of raw honey and a small dollop of coconut oil in a mug and microwaved it. That looked a little runny, so I added a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder and mixed it together. Note to self: this smelled AMAZING and would make a great frosting-like glaze for other items. 

I put the brownie "batter" back in the food processor and added the mug's contents. The added sticky helped them adhere into balls, but they were a little sticky to the touch, so I rolled them in coconut flakes! Yum on yum. 

Fudge bites pre-coconut flakes. So chocolatey. Nom. 

Fudge bites pre-coconut flakes. So chocolatey. Nom. 

The end result was delicious. Rich, fudge-like, and satisfying. They were a hit at the picnic, and I will definitely make them again. Next time I may try making a Mexican hot chocolate version with cinnamon and cayenne. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what variations you come up with!