Orange, Ginger, Honey Chicken “Sushi Bowl”

The last few days have been a bit stressful, so I took to the kitchen. This orange, ginger, honey “sushi bowl” hit the spot. It’s delicious and allows this highly sensitive person to enjoy a taste of Asian.

  • *First you need a pound of shredded chicken. I like to put chicken in the crock pot on low for about 6 hours in chicken stock.
  • *Second you need a cup of cooked rice. I use the rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stove top too

After you have the above 2 ingredients, put them in a sauce pan on low and add the follow ingredients.

  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos -1/4 cup gf soy sauce (If the above doesn’t cover all the rice and chicken and make them slightly brown tint add coconut aminos until it is)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar -1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • juice from 1 mandarin orange
  • 5 green onions diced

**allow the above to simmer for about 15 minutes on low*

While the above is simmering dice a cucumber and if your shelled edamame is frozen, let that defrost.
On your plate add to 1 cup of the cooked mixture

  • diced cucumber to taste (cucumber is a bit strong for me, so I don’t use a lot of it)
  • avocado (I used 1/2 a mini avocado)
  • 1/4 cup shelled edamame

Enjoy!

Quinoa, Lentil, Spinach, and Sweet Potato Bugers

I used to eat a wide variety of vegetarian meals, then I worked in a place where meat was frowned upon and suddenly I wanted to eat more meat. It is like the kid who is told they can’t have candy from the candy jar, so what does he want? ALL the candy in the candy jaw.

vegetarian burgers

Recently I’ve been trying to eat less meat and more vegetable filled meals. I’m a big fan of meat, but I’m also a big fan of vegetables and vegetable proteins. These patties were delicious, nutrient packed, and filling! While these were multi step, they were so worth it! When mixing all the ingredients together, I used my ninja, but a food processor would work as well.

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I saved time by using my rice cooker to cook the lentils and quinoa together. (2 parts water for every 1 part quinoa/lentils) For a time saver on the potatoes, you can microwave. I personally prefer baking them, but when I am crunched for time, I will microwave them.  Due to the stickiness of all the ingredients mixed together, the patties may become an odd shape.

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But they turned out delicious and remained delicious for my lunches throughout the week!

Quinoa, lentil, spinach, and sweet potato bugers
Recipe Type: main course
Author: Erica
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup white quinoa (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup split red lentils (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled)
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup red pepper diced (1/4 red pepper diced for garnish)
  • 1 tsp red cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
Instructions
  1. (refer to blog post for shortcuts)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Combine all the above ingredients into a ninja, food processor, or something similar and blend together until evenly mixed.
  4. Grease metal pan of choice with oil of choice (I used coconut oil) and form 4 patties.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip to the other side. Bake an additional 20 minutes and check for desired crispiness.
  6. Let cool then serve over spinach with red pepper to garnish and sauce of choice. I used ranch and it was delicious!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

 

Creamy Gluten-Free Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Yesterday I was in downtown Chicago with some of my best friends. It’s strange, I live right outside Chicago, but I think my friend who lives in Indianapolis spends more time downtown than I do! The plan was to potentially eat together at the Walnut room, but unfortunately the wait was about 4 hours to get in. Needless to say, my friends did not want to experience the “hangry Erica”, so on a food search we went. It’s interesting, when I only had to avoid corn things seemed to be a bit easier. Now that it is gluten and corn, eating out has been brought to a whole other level of complication.

Kale and vegtables

Salads tend to be safe, as long as I am careful of the toppings I put on it. So, the safe route I went. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love salads, but I also sometimes just want to eat something else. Right next to the salads were the soups. I’ve been craving chicken and wild rice soup for weeks, but finding a safe one is incredibly hard. I was super excited when I saw the “Gluten Free” next to the chicken and wild rice soup. I quickly ordered my cup, and then inspected the menu on a closer look. Turns out, that gluten free right by the long awaited and craved after soup was only explaining that when a soup at “GF” next to it, that meant it was gluten free – this soup however was not.

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So today I went on a mission to make this soup. I have to say I’m pretty excited how it turned out and also excited about the fact that I could sneak even more veggies than the normal version of this soup has. I was also overjoyed to find gluten free “rye-less rye bread” (and corn-free!) at Trader Joe’s that could easily be made into garlic bread. The perfect addition for a creamy delicious soup. (see recipe below)

I hope that you find this as comforting and delicious as I do during these dreary winter months. If you need more persuasion to cook up a big batch of this soup, consider the following health facts:

Mushrooms: Did you know they are great at boosting your immune system? They not only increase the function of certain aspects of your immune system, but also reduce inflammation. Different mushrooms types of mushrooms do different things. I used white button mushrooms in this recipe and those in particular boost the part of that fights disease causing pathogens (such as viruses or bacteria).

Kale: Has more than twice the Vitamin C of an orange, which means it is also a great booster for your immune system. Time to kick those cold and flu germs to the curb! Kale (and parsley too) is a significant source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential in helping to get calcium where it should be going – our bones. Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and calcium all work together to make strong bones, keep calcium out of places it shouldn’t be like our blood vessels, and keep help keep our calcium levels in normal limits. So kale not only helps to keep you healthy but also intact!

gluten free chicken and wild rice soup

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Erica S.
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 15 oz chicken broth stock
  • 3/4 – 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups kale
  • 3/4 cup white button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups nut-milk of choice (I used coconut milk here)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
  • 1 stick of butter, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice and add it to a rice cooker with two cups water, or follow the directions on your rice cooker and cook until soft
  2. Add the chicken broth to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and boil until cooked through, 10-15 minutes. When done, remove and allow to cool to the touch
  3. Once chicken is done, remove and let cool
  4. After the chicken is removed, put all the vegetables, garlic, and parsley in the pot on medium heat allow vegetables to soften for 10 minutes
  5. While the vegetables cook, shred the chicken
  6. Once the vegetables are softened, add in shredded chicken, rice, salt and pepper, and coconut milk
  7. Allow to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes
  8. Place the stick of butter in to melt
  9. Once the butter is melted, slowly add in the flour to desired thickness. It will continue to get thicker as it sits, so I suggest making it not quite as thick as you desire.
  10. Continue to stir every 30 seconds while on low heat for about 5 minutes.

To date this is my most requested recipe from friends. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this as much as I do!

Want some garlic bread to go with your soup that is easy and healthier than store bought options? Mix minced garlic and olive oil together. Use a spoon to then spread a thin even layer of the mixture onto each side of your bread of choice. (I used Trader Joe’s “ryeless rye bread” that is gluten free for this dish.) Cook for approximately 15 minutes at 350 on a metal pan flipping halfway through.

healthier garlic bread

 

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

I love chia seed pudding. There is something about the texture and the packed in nutrients that gets me every single time. I’ve played with a lot of different recipes, and really, really like this one. Chia seed pudding is easy to make on Sunday for the whole week. I like to store mine in mason jars and carry it to work that way. But I don’t just love this chia pudding because it’s delicious, it’s full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help keep my immune system strong and my overall health in tip-top shape. Check it out:

Chia Seeds – Pack full of nutrients such as fiber (yay for good digestion!), protein, omega-3s (the good fat), calcium (you can get this from more than just dairy), manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and more! These tiny little seeds expand in liquid and give you a texture I really enjoy (but this can be an acquired texture).

Pumpkin – Pumpkin season is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t talk about it’s health benefits. Pumpkin is high in Vitamin A, which aids in helping your eyesight to stay in tip top shape. They also contain an impressive amount of Vitamin C, and it is no secret that Vitamin C helps the immune system. So in the last days of pumpkin season, eat it up with health in mind!

Coconut / Coconut Milk – I love coconut. I mean, I REALLY love coconut! Coconut milk is my favorite cow’s milk substitute. Dr. Axe has a great article on benefits of coconut milk. I encourage you to read it, because even a summary of the health benefits of coconut milk would not do it justice.

Maple Syrup  – Pure Grade-B maple syrup is a great natural sweetener. It not only sweetens withe the maple flavor, but also add nutrients, unlike other sweeteners. Remember though, that this is still sugar, so use the minimum amount possible to help keep sugar spikes to a minimum.

Hemp Seed – Want to pack in more omega-3s? Hemp seeds are another great source for those health packed fats.

Almonds – Did you know almonds are technically a seed and not a nut? These buddies are packed full of nutrients and can add a good crunch to many dishes. There is extensive research currently being done that shows that almonds may help lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Those are all wins in my book.

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Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Erica Smith
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 5 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 15-oz can organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp grade B maple syrup OR 2 Tbsp organic raw sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp [url href=”http://www.frescospiceblends.com/shop/vanilla-apple-spice” target=”_blank”]Apple Pie Spice[/url]
  • Shredded coconut, hemp seed, pepita, almonds or walnuts, to serve
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together, pumpkin, sweetener, vanilla, apple pie spice and chia seeds until well combined.
  2. Slowly stir in milk until all ingredients are uniform and no clumps exist.
  3. Transfer to a sealed jar (I like a wide-mouth mason jar) and place in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least two hours.
  4. To serve, spoon into a bowl and top with desired toppings.

 

Enjoy!

#Chase2015: A Season of Change

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made many decisions to change the way I live, or had been living. It’s not that I was extremely unhealthy, but I was making unhealthy decisions that were wreaking havoc on the state of my brain, body, and heart. I have a stressful career (as many careers are), but in many fields of nursing, from the time you walk in to the time you leave you are moving.  You’re moving both body and mind and have to be on your A-game at all times. Human lives aren’t something to mess around with. As a result, I have to be very conscious and careful of the decisions I make both inside and outside of work to stay healthy.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made in the last month is going gluten-free. I’ve had many physicians suggest at least trying it, but I was insistent corn was enough and that I was fine with gluten. I even thought that there was no way I would have all the symptoms they say happen when you take gluten out. Well, about 24 hours in to being gluten-free, it was clear I was wrong – others were right. I was severely fatigued, extremely pale, itching everywhere, and just felt miserable. This lasted for about a week, and then all the sudden I felt the better. A month into it I feel the best I’ve felt in years. I feel like myself again. Even if I am one of the people who can’t tolerate gluten, I still don’t think that gluten-free is for everyone, but it is for me, at least for now.

Beyond going gluten-free, here is my list of things I’m focusing on to round out the end of 2015 the healthiest me I can be:

1. Taking a day of rest

As a Christian, the Sabbath is taught, but many years into my faith I am just beginning to understand how truly a day of rest is important. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day, but it means doing things that give life to me and making sure I do rest properly on this day.

2. Stretching

I’m great about walking and good about exercising, I’m awful at stretching. In the last few weeks since making a point to stretch. I can’t explain the difference it has made, but it is wonderful.

3.  Saying “No”

It took me a long time to learn there is such a thing as saying no to good things. Letting go of people pleasing and truly asking the questions… Is this going to stress me out to an unhealthy level? Will this fill me up? Is this an absolute must? Choosing to make my yeses full good yeses and saying no even when it’s hard. It is okay to say no because you need a night at home. It is okay to say no because you have errands to do. It is okay to not do everything.

4. Going technology-free

It isn’t an always thing, but I want at least an hour out of my day to be technology free. Whether this is reading, walking without my phone, cooking… whatever it is, take time away from technology and social media. I’m hoping to continue to increase this time, especially on weekends. We don’t know the long term effects of technology, but we are starting to see some short term effects and some aren’t pretty.

5. 10,000 steps

I got my fitbit in April and it has been  a great tool. I notice such a change in my energy when I keep up my fitness level. A minimum of 10,000 steps 6/7 days a week is my goal. An attainable, challenging goal that helps to keep me healthy.

6. Daring to Dream

This is the most important to me. Somewhere along the way after bad relationships and failed dreams, I left dreaming behind. But the truth is, the heart needs to dream. The heart needs to acknowledge what it is it desires to do most. So I’m taking the chance to dream again, and not just dream, but dream big.

Some of these steps are harder than others, but they are all beneficial. As I sit here after truly putting these into practice for the last few weeks I feel great. I feel rested, I feel healthy, and I feel like myself. You can’t always control you health issues or diseases, but you can make the decisions to live the healthiest you can at that moment. It isn’t fun at every restaurant having to list of allergies and intolerance, but being up all night itching from hives and being extremely fatigued the next day is far worse. Choose to be healthy. Choose to chase out the end of 2015 as the healthiest you there can be right now.

Basil and Parsley Pesto Chicken Bake

I don’t know about you guys, but my basil plant is booming, and I love it! So coming up with all the recipes I can to use the deliciousness that is fresh picked basil is currently a must. My neighbor just happened to be out in the yard and offered me some of her parsley freshly picked from her garden. This was just my luck as this turned out delicious. It was one of those recipes that was a completely easy and delicious!

FIRST WEEK OFJULY ONLY

Especially in the last few weeks at has become increasingly hard to find recipes as I have not only had to remove corn from my diet, but also gluten. I swore for years that gluten was not a problem, but after probably the 10th doctor suggested I try going without gluten, I did, and what a difference it has made. Stay tuned over the next few months as I talk about my healthy lifestyle changes I’ve made, which includes admitting I am in the crowd of “gluten intolerant”. (I swore I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have this intolerance – but I was oh so wrong).

For this recipe you will need a ninja, blender, or food processor to make the pesto. (I’m a big fan of the ninja, but for this I used the food processor)

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Once you have blended all this together, all you will need is a 15×10 pyrex that is greased with oil of choice. Place the chicken in the center, the pesto on top, and the tomatoes diced in half on either side.

I hope you find this recipe as easy and delicious as I have!

Basil and Parsely Pesto Chicken Bake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw chicken breast in tenders
  • 24 grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (omit of dairy free)
  • 24 almonds
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. In food processor place parmesan, almonds, garlic, olive oil, basil, and parsley and mix until desired texture.
  2. In a pyrex 15 x 10 oiled pan place chicken in a row in the middle. On either side place the tomatoes and on top of the chicken evenly spread the pesto.
  3. Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes
http://anchordrop.org/2015/08/30/basil-parsley-pesto-chicken-bake/

 

Confessions of a Former Carbaholic: A Kitchen Transformation

If you had met me a year ago, you would have been greeted with a loaf of freshly baked bread drenched in butter, some homemade jelly and a smile. I loved to bake, and whatever I baked, I most definitely ate. Not only was I addicted to anything filled with carbs, I had an obsession with cheese and a love affair with sugar. Sure, I ate “healthy” but you better believe that I indulged in baking up any decadent recipes that crossed my path. But all that changed when we participated in a Whole30 this past May.

Confessions of A

After eating on such a restricted diet for a month, I was a little nervous about what would happen once we completed our Whole30, but I was in for a big surprise. I assumed that we would be so proud of sticking it out (which we are), a few pounds lighter (I lost 15 lbs and hubby lost 5lbs!), and probably go back to our prior diet, being mindful of keeping things in moderation. Three days after completing Whole30, we went on vacation for a week. When coming off of Whole30 you are supposed to gradually add food groups back in to see if there are any food allergies or sensitivities that you never knew you had. We tried to gradually add foods back in but it was tough to go slow. Continue reading “Confessions of a Former Carbaholic: A Kitchen Transformation”

Sweet and Spicy Arugula Rice Noodles

Last week I spent a ton of money at the farmer’s market with no real plan. So then I had to come home and find recipes to go with all of the random ingredients I purchased. So now this week, I stuck with the left over random ingredients that need used up before they go bad and before I leave to go to my parents’ for my little brother’s wedding this weekend. It is times like these that I come up with some of my absolute favorite recipes. Armed with arugula, green onions and a desire for something sweet and spicy, I went to work.

sweet and spicy

I went searching on the internet for ideas, and this is what I came up with. Due to allergies I took a few different recipes and modified what was in them. It was a quick, easy, and super delicious meal that left me feeling full, but not heavy. I hope you enjoy this as much I as I did! (I was even able to make it without too many interruptions from my four-month-old puppy)

Bayli (my adorable puppy, see below), event  thought is smelled delicious and wanted to get a bite. Thankfully I caught her just in time before she about ruined my meal. After I thoroughly enjoyed this I took Bayli on a nice long walk, and then ate a delicious gluten-free zucchini brownie. I guess that is what happens when you buy too much zucchini at the farmer’s market.

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Sweet and Spicy Arugula Rice Noodles
Recipe Type: Main Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Erica Smith
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 Servings
Ingredients
  • 10 green onions diced (only use the white part)
  • 3 fl oz sweet chili sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari (if gluten sensitive)
  • 2 sweet chicken sausages, diced (I used Trader Joe’s chicken apple sausage)
  • 1 cup zucchini, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 package (~2 cups cooked) rice noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups arugula, washed and dried
  • Cooking spray of choice
Instructions
  1. Put water on to boil for rice noodles in medium pot(read the directions on your specific rice noodles to find out how they want them cooked).
  2. In large pot spray with cooking spray of choice then on low heat brown the chicken sausage (make sure to check the package as some are not fully cooked).
  3. When the water is ready add rice noodles. While the rice noodles and chicken sausage are cooking, dice the zucchini and onions into small bites. I only used the white part of the onions. For the zucchini I sliced it then cut it into fourths.
  4. When the rice noodles are done put them in a strainer to dry.
  5. Remove the sausage form the heat
  6. Add soy sauce, minced garlic, green onion, zucchini, and sweet chili sauce in large pot. Place on low heat for 5-7 minutes or until onions and zucchini are soft.
  7. While that is simmering, cut the sausage into bite sized pieces and add.
  8. Once vegetables are soft, add the sausage and allow to simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
  9. Turn off heat but leave pot on stove and add rice noodles Stir allow rice noodles to separate and start to absorb flavor.
  10. Once the rice noodles have nicely separated add the arugula and stir fro approximately 1.5 minutes.
  11. Serve and Enjoy!

Mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

I don’t know about you, but when I got introduced to P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps for the first time, I fell head over heels in love. I loved the crisp lettuce on the outside, with this unique flavored meat on the inside. However, since those days I’ve developed more than one food intolerance and allergies to boot. As a result I am no longer able me to enjoy lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s. So, I had to create them in my own kitchen. The result was delicious and healthy! They were also super easy to take for lunches for the next few days.

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I went digging through a few different recipes to get an idea of how to get the taste I was looking for. After researching  a bit, I then perused my kitchen for ingredients. A few things I interchanged from the original recipes I was looking at. In my opinion, I really like the way the taste turned out. If you have allergies or are trying to recreate some of your favorite recipes at home, I always suggest looking at a few different recipes and then putting your own spin on it. It may take a few times to get it right, but the product in the end is worth it. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite restaurant knock offs I’ve done yet, my Mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps!

Gluten-Free Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Recipe Type: Main Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Erica Smith
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps lightened up with lean ground turkey.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 7 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 each green, red, and yellow pepper, diced into small chunks
  • 1/2-1 tsp of red cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained diced
  • 1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 head of lettuce
Instructions
  1. First in a large skillet I cooked 1 lb of ground turkey. If you prefer ground chicken, that can easily be interchanged.
  2. Once the meat was done, I drained out the grease and added in all the additional ingredients minus the lettuce. I let this simmer for about 20 minutes on low-allowing all the flavors to marinate together.
  3. While this is simmering, I pulled apart the lettuce leaving the pieces whole and washed them. You want to leave enough time for the lettuce to dry.
  4. Once done, let it cool for a few minutes then scoop one to one and a half large spoonful into each lettuce pocket.
Notes
To ensure this recipe is gluten-free and corn-free, be sure all ingredients are labeled or certified gluten- and corn-free, if they’re not naturally.

Chickpea Potato Curry Stew

I had potatoes that needed used up and I wanted curry. With no real recipe at hand, I diced up left over veggies from the week, opened a can of chickpeas, dug out my curry seasoning, and hoped for the best. And you know what? It turned out to be something fabulous that I have already made again! The best part is, once everything is diced up, it is an easy one pot meal.

This is packed with fresh, colorful veggies and is full of healthy fiber. Fragrant curry spice is also super warming for cold winter months. Perhaps best of all, though, is that it reheats spectacularly and is perfect for lunch the next day (or three, if you’re me).

dish4servingsthaicurry (1) Continue reading “Chickpea Potato Curry Stew”

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