Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grain-Free Chicken Nuggets

Rx: For those on a grain-free diet, or if you are just interested in keeping your food generally nutrient-dense, almond meal is a wonderful replacement for flour! In addition to being anti-inflammatory, almonds are full of monounsaturated fats. These are the good fats, the fat the keeps you from getting fat. Almonds are helpful for nearly every system in the body, from skin and hair to blood pressure. If you do not have a sensitivity to nuts, I highly recommend using more of this wonderful product in your meals.

Servings: 2 (just double recipe for 4)

1 organic boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into about 14 pieces
2 C (scant) almond meal
1 tsp garlic sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 C olive oil
2 organic, free-range eggs
1/4 C unsweetened almond milk


In a medium-sized bowl, combine the 2 eggs and the almond milk. Whisk until it's well mixed. In a separate large bowl, combine your almond meal, garlic sea salt, black and cayenne pepper.

This is a good time to get your skillet ready. You will be pan-frying these and then baking them, so a heavy-bottomed steel or iron skillet works best. Pour your oil into the skillet, and get it heating up on medium heat. Set aside a baking sheet to place the fried nuggets on. You'll be finishing them in the oven. Preheat your oven to 425 F.

  While the oil is warming up, start dredging your chicken. You may need to do it in two batches so that you don't crowd the nuggets while they're cooking. Take about 7 of the pieces and coat them in the almond meal mixture. Dip them quickly into the egg, and then back in the almond meal. Make sure they have a good, sticky coating on them. The double-dredging should ensure that your coating will make it out of the frying pan intact. Take a small bit of the almond mixture and toss it into your pan. If it sizzles, it's ready.

Put your pieces in, 7 at a time. Keep an eye on them. The almond meal browns up more quickly than flour because of the oils in it. Check them for about 2 minutes. If they're golden, flip them over and do the same on the other side. When both sides are gold, transfer them to the baking sheet. Do the second batch the same way. When the nuggets are all fried, put the sheet in your preheated oven. Let them bake for about 15 minutes so that the chicken is cooked through. Since the chicken has already been fried, the meat inside should stay pretty moist. When times up, take them out, and gobble them up. Mmmmmm, you can have chicken nuggets!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lemon Honey Cake with Blueberries

Rx: For those who are trying to cut down on refined sugars and white flour, this is a useful and delicious dessert! Sweetened with only honey, orange juice and agave nectar, you can have a piece of cake without worrying about flooding your body with an onslaught of bad sugars. Whole wheat flour adds healthful fiber and nutrients like B vitamins and folic acid. The lemons and orange juice provide a boost of vitamin-C, while the canola oil provides Omega-3 fatty acids. This cake will give you something to look forward to during the day, and your heart and immune system will thank you for choosing it.

Serves: 12


1 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 ½ C whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 ¼ C almond milk
1 C honey, plus 4 tbs
1 1/8 C canola oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla
½ C lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
3 tbs lemon zest
¼ C orange juice, plus 4 tbs

For the topping:

3 ½ C blueberries, fresh or frozen
½ C agave nectar
2 tsp cornstarch


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Use either parchment paper or oil to prepare a 7x11 baking pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 C honey, canola oil, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and 1 C orange juice. When they are well incorporated, add the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for about a minute, or until there are no more lumps. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

While the cake is baking you can make the topping. Pour the blueberries into a medium-sized saucepan and add the agave nectar and cornstarch. Mix so that all the berries are coated. Heat the mixture on medium until the blueberries have released their juices and are bubbling. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the berries are beginning to break down. Pour into a bowl and put this in the fridge to cool.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool. Use a fork to poke holes in the top of the cool cake, about 20 evenly spaced pokes. Mix the remaining honey and orange juice together and heat in the microwave for about 30 second. Brush this on top of the cake, letting it soak into all the little holes. Cut and serve with a spoonful of blueberries on top.

Rich and Hearty Beef Stew

Even though we are entering into February, there are still some cool days ahead of us. If you are craving a filling, rich, and nutritious meal, cook up a pot of this stew. It goes down so easy, and will keep you warm and full even on the chilliest day.

Beef Stew

Rx: This meal is fortifying, to say the least! Packed full of veggies, a bowl of this stew will prove to be a delicious weapon against infection (garlic and onions), cancer (tomatoes), and vitamin B deficiency (lean red meat). While there is some fat in this dish (fat is flavor, right?) it is mostly contained in only six slices of bacon. While it would be an unwise health choice for one person to consume all six slices, adding it to this very large pot of stew disperses that fat, so that each serving contains an acceptable, not dangerous, amount while still benefiting from all the flavor. If you still aren’t comfortable with the idea of the bacon in there, then just leave it out.

Serves 8


1 ½ lbs extra lean stew meat
6 slices bacon, chopped (uncured, nitrite/nitrate free)
Olive oil
2 sweet onions, chopped
3 anaheim chilies, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 large red fingerling potatoes, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup red wine (cooking wine is ok)
¼ tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme (dried)
1 tbs Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 large bay leaves
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (I prefer roma)
2 cups good-quality beef stock

Warm bread to serve (cornbread would work well, too)


Heat a dutch oven over medium flame. Coat the bottom of the pan with about 1 tbs olive oil. Place stew meat in the pan and brown for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside on a platter or plate. Place the chopped bacon in the pan and cook until some of the fat has rendered and mixes with beef drippings. Cook the bacon about 4 minutes total. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan with a spoon. Now add the onion, carrots, and chilies. Cook these down for about 15 minutes, until they soften. Add the potatoes, garlic, meat, and all the spices. Mix things up a little, then pour in the tomatoes and the beef stock. Bring to a boil, cover with the lid and let it all simmer for about 1 ½ hours. Check for seasoning, add salt or pepper if needed, and serve with your favorite bread.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jamie's Italy

I love studying cookbooks written by chefs who appreciate real food from the source and recognize it's colorful and rustic beauty. The less you mess with the food, the better it will be to you. Jamie Oliver is definitely one of my favorites. For Christmas I received the cookbook Jamie's Italy. I love this book because of how real it is, because all the recipes were collected on a roadtrip through Italy in a VW bus, and because of the white risotto recipe. The meal that I have posted below is my collaborative effort with Jamie (he doesn't know yet). To say that it's good is an understatement. I made the whole thing from stuff I already had in my kitchen, except for the wine. The wine I did use was a cheap bottle I got from Target. It didn't matter. All of the flavors of the sweet chicken, lemony spinach and creamy risotto went together so perfectly I thought I might have died. A little dramatic, but it is so good! I know I'm going on and on...but I can't say it enough. This one is good! If you try nothing else from my blog...if I remain anonymous forever from here on out, please try this meal!

Honey-Mustard Chicken with Wilted Spinach and Jamie’s White Risotto

Rx: Mustard is high in magnesium and selenium. What this means is that it will help reduce inflammation in the body, speed up your metabolism, and help lower blood pressure. It is best known as a digestive aid. The dark meat used in this recipe also has some benefits too. Although it is cheaper than white meat, dark meat has a bad rap since it is higher in calories and fat. The fact is, though, it’s not much of a difference. Also, the dark meat contains more nutrients than the white, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Serves 2


For the chicken:

6 chicken legs with the thighs (bone-in)
1½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 tsp Chinese five spice
3 finely minced clove of garlic
6 tbs local honey
6 tbs coarse ground mustard

For the spinach:

Three bunches fresh organic spinach, washed and dried (these will significantly cook down)
6 finely minced cloves of garlic
1 tbs olive oil (too much will make your spinach greasy and soggy)
Juice of one lemon

For the risotto:

Use Jamie Oliver’s recipe for White Risotto (found in the book, Jamie’s Italy, pg. 130)
Use any quality recipe for risotto you can find ( I like to check up on


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

*Tip! Have your chicken in the oven, then begin the risotto. This way they’ll be done closer to the same time.

Put the chicken pieces in a large plastic bag (or in a bowl) and rub all of the pepper, five spice, garlic, honey, and mustard into the chicken really well. Place these on a sheet and pour the remaining juices over the meat. Place in the oven.

Begin your risotto, using any recipe you have.
Your chicken will be done when the temperature of the deepest part is between 170 and 180 F. This took me about an hour. Let the meat rest before serving so that it will be as moist as possible. This is a good time to do the spinach.
In a small pan, heat the teaspoon of olive oil over low heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds. Add the whole spinach leaves and stir constantly until they are all darker and wilted. This happens very quickly, just a few minutes. Even if not every leave is wilted yet, remove it from the heat. The warmth from the other leaves and the pan will finish them off. Squeeze with a little lemon juice,

Plate putting the risotto on bottom, then the chicken on top of that, and top with the spinach. Look at you, being all classy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wild-Caught Salmon Crepes -Inspired by Rachel

Rx: Most people these days have heard of Omega-3 oils and how fish like salmon are full of them. What do these fatty oils do for you exactly? In addition to making your skin and hair really nice, they help lower your bad cholesterol levels, raise the good cholesterol in your body, and protect your brain against Alzheimer’s. These oils are also key in brain development, so everyone in your family can be eating it.

Serves 4


*8 crepes ( I used my friend Rachel’s recipe, and you can find it on her blog:
One bunch fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed
2 large fillets wild-caught salmon (I marinate mine overnight in oil, herbs and garlic)
½ C Vegenaise
1 tbs chopped cucumber pickles
1 tbs chopped cucumber
1 tbs dill (fresh or dried)
1 tsp white vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Olive oil
1 lemon, quartered and sliced
2 tbs chopped parsley, to serve

* I haven't tried this recipe yet using gluten-free flour, but seeing that pancakes turn out fine using it, I suspect it would be the same with the crepes.


Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the salmon on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. While the salmon is baking, heat a skillet or pan on low-medium heat. Add enough oil to just coat the bottom. When it’s warm, add your spinach and move these around in the pan until they wilt. Immediately remove them from the heat so that you don’t overcook them. Use one of your lemon wedges to quirt some juice over the leaves. In a small bowl, combine your Vegenaise, pickles, cucumber, dill, vinegar, and pepper. Mix these all together to create a tartar sauce that will go on top of the crepes.
To assemble, lay out a crepe, and fill along the middle. I put down the spinach first, and laid my salmon on top of that. Roll together like a burrito, but leave the ends open. Top with the tartar sauce, lemon wedge, and parsley.

Summer Leftovers= Healthy Summer Picnic

Salads have the unfortunate reputation of being wimpy, unsubstantial, and unfulfilling. However, if you think of salads as a kind of uncooked casserole, a dish where you can throw together whatever looks good, the potential for salad opens up wide. My husband and I went on a picnic a couple of days ago, and the salads we fixed up from bits of leftovers in the fridge made a very substantial (and healthy,of course) meal. The really great part of salad-making is that you can use up all the bits of food that wouldn't have been enough of a meal on their own, and they end up playing an important of the meal. Don't over-think it...if the food is fresh, it will usually end up tasting great. It may look different every time, but that's kind of the idea.
I've listed the ingredients I used in my salads below, and included a link to the recipe I used for the hummus (not my recipe, and so good I don't care one bit!)

Pasta Salad
: roasted chicken,pepperjack cheese, black olives, heirloom cherry tomatoes, red onion, organic pasta
Fruit Salad: peaches, frozen cherries, my leftover raspberry yogurt from breakfast, agave, almond extract, chopped walnuts

Fruit Salad

Rx: This salad is a great way to make the most of any nutritious bit of produce you may have lying around in the fridge. Raw foods are amazing detoxifiers and tend to be easier on the digestive system as they still have many of their enzymes intact. Fruit also provides the body with lots of good carbs that it needs. The more colors you have in here, the wider the variety of nutrients you are going to get. The addition of a yogurt dressing also gives you the benefit of live probiotics. Very healthy, and very tasty!

Serves 4


4 C chopped mixed fresh fruit
1/3 C yogurt, any variety or flavor you like, just make sure it has live cultures
Honey or agave nectar, to taste
½ tsp almond extract
1/3 C chopped nuts, any variety you like


In a large bowl, combine the fruit, yogurt, almond extract and honey and mix thoroughly with a large spoon or flexible spatula. Garnish the top with the chopped nuts. Allow it to cool in the fridge before serving.

Pasta Salad

Rx: This salad is a great way to make the most of any nutritious bit of produce you may have lying around in the fridge. Raw foods are amazing detoxifiers and tend to be easier on the digestive system as they still have many of their enzymes intact. The more colors you have in here, the wider the variety of nutrients you are going to get. Some great raw additions are peppers, onion, carrots (peeled or chopped), tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, zucchini, and avocado. Just have fun with this and put in whatever you can find!

Serves 4


2 C cooked short pasta, such as macaroni or spiral (can substitute with any good-quality gluten-free variety), cooled
1 C chopped cooked meat (I prefer chicken, or you can leave out for vegetarian)
2 C chopped mixed veggies and cured or pickled foods, such as olives, artichokes, or cucumber pickles
¾ C chopped cheese (for vegan, substitute with avocado)
1/2 – ¾ C Vegenaise
1 tsp coarse mustard
1 tsp agave
Cracked black pepper, to taste


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly with a large spoon or flexible spatula. Allow it to cool in the fridge before serving.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Healthy Shopping Guide

Just as an introduction, shopping and eating well may be a really tough adjustment. It’s totally counter-cultural, and a little more work. Once you start doing it, though, you’ll retrain your body and mind to want the good stuff, and not even look at the other stuff as food. Stick with it, it’s worth it!

1. Shop the perimeters at the grocery store. Most of the processed foods are contained in the aisles. The perimeter is produce, dairy, meat, and bread. This is the food you need. Most of that stuff in the middle you don’t need. At all. Everrrrrr.
2. Read labels. Having said that, you still need some items that may be in the aisles. Just make sure when you are picking something up, you read the labels. If it looks mostly chemical, don’t get it. If it ever contains high fructose corn syrup or anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, DO NOT BUY! Not only will these things counteract weight loss efforts, but they’ve been proven in labs to really break down your health. Be aware of the calorie content, and follow serving sizes, even if they sound ridiculous at first. If you are able, get natural or organic products. They really are more nutritionally dense.
3. Again with the organic! Organic may seem like a fad. But it turns out that while conventional foods contain the same nutrients, the organic food contain more. It’s because the soil products are grown on haven’t been chemically neutered by pesticides, so the food absorbs a whole lot more nutrients, because the ground actually contains them. Like it should. That’s the facts, man. Whenever possible, reach for the organic product rather than the other. Even if it costs a little more at times, it is truly an investment in your health. More and more grocery stores are offering organic now, too, which makes this choice a whole lot easier.
4. What to buy. When you look at your plate, it should be about half to one-third fresh produce, cooked or raw, about one-third meat, and a little bit of starch or carbs. You don’t always have to have meat, you don’t always have to have carbs. But the fruit/ veggies should be there. Considering that…
5. Produce. So, covered buying organic. If you want to save some money and get something that tastes good, buy produce that’s in season. It’s always going to be cheaper. Here’s a link that will tell you what’s in season for Arizona:
6. Meat and dairy. You don’t have to get too fancy here. Choose leaner cuts of meat. Again, here’s a friendly, helpful link to a list of lean meats: Choose meats and dairy products that are hormone-free (RBST) and natural. Grass-fed red meat and dairy, organic chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish will be the purest and most nutrient-dense sources to choose from. Again, this option is becoming increasingly more available. Spring for the good stuff, just eat less of it. You can do this on a budget, I promise.
7. Bread and pasta. Whole grains are the way to go on this. Also, for pasta you can choose rice pasta, which pretty much tastes and feels like regular pasta. Please, avoid anything that’s been “enriched.” You’re not getting something better for you,; you’re actually getting a product that’s been stripped of its good stuff and replaced with a few synthetic nutrients. Your body doesn’t like it.
8. Last one…variety. Don’t get stuck eating the same things all the time. If you’re looking to improve your health and eating habits, switch it up. Healthy food is good, and you should enjoy it. Also, by not eating the same things everyday you are introducing a much wider variety of nutrients, and giving your body a break from the onslaught of only one kind, which can actually backfire and cause problems in your body. Eating by season and being aware of what you’ve been putting in are two great tools to help with this. Also, your plate should look colorful. If it’s not, you might not have enough variety on it.