Mediterranean Frittata 2 ways: Vegetarian and with Bacon

I adapted this fast, easy frittata from this blog “My Kitchen Addiction”, and the Bacon, Leek and Arugula frittata.  You can do this two ways, with bacon or without, I prefer with bacon.  I love how the tomatoes make it look like a little pizza.   You can replace the arugula with spinach if you like.   I roasted some cherry tomatoes to top it off and give it some extra color, flavor and nutrition.   I thought it looked kind of boring without the tomatoes on top to give it some color.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 slices uncured bacon chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (red would work too)
  • 2 cups arugula (remove stems) or spinach
  • 3 whole eggs plus 3 extra egg whites
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup  feta cheese cheese (its up to you)
  • a basket pint) of roasted cherry tomatoes (red or yellow… your choice)
  • Optional : a tablespoon of milk or cream
  • Sea Salt and Ground Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. For optional “Roasted Cherry Tomatoes”: roast cherry tomatoes, halved, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so until soft and wrinkly, shaking to turn halfway, remove from oven and set aside
  2. Turn on broiler
  3. Whisk eggs and egg whites in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, set aside
  4. Heat ovenproof non stick skillet to medium and saute bacon pieces until cooked  * For vegetarian skip this and just heat olive oil to medium high
  5. Add the onions to the olive oil or rendered bacon fat until soft
  6. Add the arugula (or spinach) until it wilts down
  7. reduce heat to medium low, pour in eggs, and quickly stir with the bacon, onions and greens
  8. Sprinkle with the feta and then cover for about 5 minutes
  9. remove the lid and arrange the roasted tomatoes on top, place under broiler for 3 to 5 minutes until the eggs set and are no longer runny.

Serve and Enjoy!

Serving suggestions: I topped this with chopped avocado, olives and sour cream for my boyfriend who doesn’t care about calories.  Its healthy that way and tastes really good.

 



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Easy Indian Spiced Chicken Breast

I came up with this chicken dish and marinade to go with my Curried Mango Ginger Chutney recipe I made last night.  I originally came across a similar spice combination when I saw a dish called “Tawa Fish”.   I thought this spice combination sounded great on fish (without the frying part) so why not try it with chicken breasts?  This marinade tasted great with the chicken and then even better with the Curried Mango Ginger Chutney recipe I made.  The marinade is easy, healthy  and simple to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (2 large or 4 small chicken breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except for the chicken breasts) in a bowl, set aside
  2. (optional) pound out chicken breast until they are all uniform, about 1.2 inch thick, they will cook evenly and faster this way.
  3. Marinade chicken breasts in fridge for at least 1/2 an hour
  4. When ready to cook, remove chicken breasts and pat dry
  5. preheat oven to 400 degree
  6. heat oil over medium to medium high heat in a oven proof skillet or grill pan
  7. Sear chicken until browned for about 2 minutes on each side and take pan directly from stove and place into oven
  8. Depending on thickness of the chicken breast, l finish cooking in about 3 to to 10 minutes.  You want the chicken to no longer be pink and juice running clear.
  9. Remove chicken from pan and and place on cutting board or plate and let rest at least 5 minutes.  The chicken will retain more juices the longer you let it rest.
  10.   Serve as a main dish and accent it with “Curried Mango Ginger Chutney”

 

 

 

 



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Curried Mango Ginger Chutney

Yay!  I am so happy with this  delicious and healthy recipe I came up with on the fly last night.  I was craving Indian food and had been ignoring this  lonely little mango I  purchased last week that I knew was going to go bad if we didn’t eat it pretty soon.   I  have been seeing quite a few recipes with mango being used in chutneys or as an interesting accent to modern Indian cuisine.  A quick internet search for mango chutneys resulted in several recipes, but they all  had an ingredient list that called for more than just one little mango.  I took the best of the many recipes that I found (this one recipe by Alton Brown being my favorite) and reduced it down in ratio so my one little mango would work fine.

This chutney would go great with white fish,  whole roasted chicken, chicken breasts, and probably even pork.  If you reduced the “heat” (chile flakes) I bet kids would love this with healthy chicken tenders.    Could also go well with all types of vegetarian or vegan Caribbean, Indian or African dishes.  I would even serve with goat cheese on crostini or with crackers.  I will be trying many variations of with lots of dishes in the future and put the links as I do them in this post.  Last night I didn’t feel like running to the store to get fish, so  I marinaded organic chicken breast in an easy Indian spiced marinade for an hour.

Lastly this is GREAT for cancer patients going through chemo.  I loved bright and spicy Indian chutneys and spicy food with curries when I was undergoing chemo.  The bold flavors really cut through the yucky chemical taste chemo can leave.

 

Serves 4 as a side to a main dish,  Store in an airtight container for 7 days up in the freezer for up to 2 months

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 mango
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup grade B (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of filtered water
  • Chopped 1/2 of a red bell pepper (optional)
  • a quick grate of lemon zest (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut the mango away from the pit and roughly chop the flesh
  2. In a separate bowl combine water, cider vinegar, maple syrup, fresh lemon juice,  optional lemon zest and set aside
  3. In saute pan heat oil over medium heat and add the chile flakes and toast just to flavor oil
  4. Keep heat at medium, and add red onions until they begin to sweat and get soft
  5. Add ginger and if using, the optional red pepper and saute for 1 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the mango and cook for 1 minute
  7. Add the mixture in bowl to pan and stir to combine
  8. Bring the mixture to a slight simmer, reduce to low and stir frequently
  9. Season with a fresh ground sea salt and white pepper (optional)
  10. Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered so the liquid can evaporate and reduces into a thick coating over the fruit. Aprox 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!  Let me know how you use it and I’ll add it to the notes here.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Herniated Discs Suck! An Honest Reflection, Part 1: Pain and Pills

Herniated discs SUCK! I know that is pretty much a “victim”  sounding,  “whiny”  type comment I profess to hate, but its the truth.  Herniated discs do suck! I was diagnosed with a herniated disc at L4/L5 and S1 last May 2011.  Initially I thought this would be only be a temporary problem, lasting 2 or 3 weeks at best.  I heard my doctor when he told me I was looking at 3 months minimum of not working out and having a “back issue”, but I didn’t take him seriously.  Being a sometimes overly self confident patient  for many years (an overconfidence not always in complete touch with reality), I  chose not to believe  my doctor and his  predictions. Even though I had to be driven to this doctors appointment by my boyfriend, due to my pain being so bad, with such major spasms, I could barely manage a hobble… I was still in denial. Further more, I convinced myself I would be back to working out in the gym in no less than 3 weeks. Boy was I wrong.

4 months later…. September 2011:

Having been on pain pills for the past 4 month I have been beginning to feel like  my brain had been temporarily hijacked. These pain pills are yucky   Since my 2nd round of cortisone injections 2 weeks ago, I was fine for about 10 days and then suddenly, I was once again in tremendous pain.  Pain so bad, that it was still there even with the pain pills.  I hate to sound flippant, but I was starting to feel like I  was having to pop pain pills like one would pop “Tick Tacs”, which is never a good thing. The pills were making me nauseated, vomiting, constipated, tired , and spaced out.  I couldn’t drive, and have  felt like I was in a trance.  I have NO idea how anyone develops an addiction to these pills which in my case every time I take them,  I feel  like I have dropped  40 IQ points and have turned into a vomiting  little zombie .  But I’ve seen Dr Drew’s “Celebrity Rehab” … and apparently this addiction is not uncommon.

My doctor had prescribed for me codeine and a nerve pain called Gabapentin  which I believe was a correct decision.  I was in tremendous pain presenting day 1 in May 2011.   The codeine and the Gabapentin have really helped pacify all the  horrendous nerve and back pan I was having through out this experience.  I had been on both of these pain pills during and following my whole cancer and subsequent stem cell transplant incident without any problems.  Now,  here in September 2011, 4 months later following my 2nd round of of spinal injections, my pain was back with a vengeance, and my emotions are wearing thin.  I do/did not want to be on pain medications any longer but I have in pain and becoming really depressed about feeling dependent on pills for relief.   Additionally my doctor had prescribed physical therapy twice a week, but due to my denial, I only just started that last week.

Yesterday I was so bummed.   I was at my favorite breakfast spot, eating my  “Super Veggie Egg White Scramble”, while looking over my “to do”  list.  There I had  20 backed up recipes with photos, ready to be uploaded.  All I had to do was  a little bit of writing  with each one of them,.  Yet I felt at a complete loss for words.  Sadly these pain pills rob you of your creativity, rendering you into a pretty sad state of having a totally boring “flat affect” with little to no creative writing  skills or personality whatsoever.  As I sat there, blankly staring at my lap top, wondering when my writing skills were ever going to come back,  I thought of my of  my nurse friend Jody who developed  a double level herniated disc at the same time as me.  She never sounded spaced out on the phone.  At least not “spaced out” on pain pills like I felt I had been sounding lately.   Jody told me she had only using only a little bit of pain medicine and lots of “ice”.

Initially when Jody told me about using ice for the pain, a couple months ago,  I thought  to myself ( sorry Jody) “Sure, right, that won’t do jack shit for me”.  My pain was major, deep down inside, and I thought no “ice” was ever going touch it.  But now here I was thinking about her advice and willing to try anything other than what I had been doing.  I called Jody for some advice, and she suggested I cut my pain pills in half and to try putting some really cold ice packs directly on the herniated disc area  for 15 minutes or more.  I went to the pharmacy and picked up a specialized ice pack for backs (see photo) and some bags of frozen peas.

I came home last night, popped my ice pack “belt” into the freezer, turned on the TV, laid down and placed the bag of frozen peas directly on my back.  It was about time for me to take another pain pill but I thought I would put it off a little bit so I  could check out how the ice was working.  About 10 minutes into the iced bag peas on my back,  I thought “Hey this ice thing works pretty good”.  Jody had told me I only needed to leave it on 15 minutes or so, but I left it on more like 25 minutes it was working so well.  I cut my pain pills dosage in half and was feeling GREAT.  An hour later I put another bag of frozen peas directly to my back for another 20 minutes,  then again 30 minutes later and then again one hour later.  I was humbled.  This ice thing was working really well.   I realized I should have tried using ice for my disc pain months ago when it was suggested.

I woke up this morning, 24 hours after halving my pain pill dosage, feeling GREAT.  My pain was “there” but manageable.  But even better, my brain felt clear.  I felt like someone had lifted the fog and I could see more clearly than I had in quite some time.  Finally I could put together words and thoughts!  I felt so happy I came to my computer and decided I would journal this to my blog while I knew my brain was clear.  Finally some hope.  I’ve been reading, surfing the net and writing, sitting at my desk  for the past 8 straight hours,  wearing my new “Cryo Max Cold Pack” (see photo above) with only 1 codeine and 2 Advil in my system.   I feel pain free right now.   It was not possible before for me to sit even a couple of straight hours comfortably with just the pain pills.

I go to my 2nd physical therapy appointment this afternoon for therapy and treatment.   I will ask my therapist for more information about what is a good “icing schedule” for my particular situation.  I’ll continue to write more about my herniated disc problem as that I know now its quite common.

Fingers crossed for my physical therapy session.  Fingers crossed I can keep this pain pill need down to a minimum so my brain feels clear.  We shall see, but I am finally hopeful.

 

 



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Coconut Curried Chickpeas

By all my recent Facebook posts and photos one might easily imagine I am some major chickpea fan.  It seems like lately I’ve been putting chickpeas in everything.  The truth is  I only recently made chickpeas from scratch for the very first time.  I, for the first time ever, did the whole “soaking overnight and then finishing  on the stove” thing.  After eating chickpeas made from scratch I have a whole new appreciation for this little ingredient, which by the way, I had never really liked at all (except for pureed in hummus) prior.

I have heard the argument that there is really no difference between soaking/cooking peas yourself or just buying them ready to eat in a can, but my taste buds and “brain” don’t believe that to be true At all.  I find chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked from scratch can have really amazing flavor and texture which I find totally lacking in canned chickpeas.  I love  cooking them to just barely  “el dente” after soaking them over night and then sauteing them in a variety of herbs, spices and sauces.

I came up this really healthy and tasty little curry dish on the fly the other day,  and it tasted amazing!  You can use canned chickpeas, but I highly recommend, if you have the time and don’t mind the planning, utilizing chickpeas made from scratch.  This is great to make ahead snack/dish and will keep well in the fridge for a couple of day.  This reheats well in the microwave.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cooked chickpeas or 2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or oil or your choice)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of cayenne (to your desired “heat”, I used 2 tsp because I loved hot spicy food)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry
  • 4 coconut milk cubes or 1/3 cup lite or regular organic coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat until hot
  2. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 to 3 minutes
  3. Add onions and carrots and begin to saute
  4.  About 2 minutes in, add the garam masala, cayenne and curry and mix in well, allowing the flavors to infuse in well with the carrots and onions.  About 3  minutes or until the onions soft and carrots with still a bit of crunch.
  5. Add chickpeas and saute  a couple minutes until heated through anl flavors well distributed to chickpeas
  6. Add tomatoes and stir a minute or too, again until ingredients heated through and flavors well distributed
  7. Finish by adding coconut milk “cubes” or or coconut milk and stir until heated through  brought to a slight simmer or slightly “steaming”
  8. Serve and enjoy!  Can be eaten alone, in a roti, or as a side dish

 

 

 



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” A Healthier” Spaghetti Carbonara

 

 

I know, I know, there is no such thing as a truly “Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara”. And I answer with a  “Yes” and “No”.  Hear me out with this little story I tell below about how I came up with this recipe a couple of weeks ago.

I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago to a major “Spaghetti Carbonara” craving, which is really weird because this is a dish I think I have only had a couple of times in my whole life.    Now I am going to be honest, I had been drinking alcohol with some old friends the night before… and you know what that leads to: Waking up the next morning craving food that is full of bad fats and starchy carbohydrates!  Hence the only explanation for my very unusual  “Spaghetti Carbonara” craving.  So here I was stuck  with this insatiable craving and knowing I had  never even made this dish before.  So I did what any self respecting girl with a healthy food blog wanting to create a plate full of “bad”  would do:  Went online and did a google search for a recipe, hoping there would be something healthy amongst the bunch.  No such luck.  There it was, as I expected, a bunch of recipes that were not remotely healthy. Albeit there were LOTS of recipes filled with some very delicious sounding  starchy carbohydrates and fat creations with not an ounce of nutrition.  What I ended up making was  a “happy middle”…Something kind of in between the “delicious tasting yet starchy carbohydrate/ bad fat hell” recipe, and then the something “I will not be mortified to post on my blog” recipe.

 

In ending I will say : this is a MUCH  healthier version than the original, I got my “fix”, and it passed my boyfriend’s picky “I don’t care if its not healthy”  palate (he’s also  Italian).

Serves 2: Can be doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces organic uncured bacon (pork works best, but you can use turkey)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 12 ounces of Whole Wheat or Multi Grain Pasta cooked el dente (I would not at this time recommend any of the qunioa pasta with this because it would come out too mushy.)
  • 1 large organic free range egg, beaten and seasoned with salt
  • salt
  • 6 ounces shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar hard cheese
  • 6 to 8 ounces  fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of organic butter or extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  • In large saute pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, and drain on paper towels (or you can cook in microwave for quicker results)
  • In pan large enough to hold pasta, heat oil or melt butter, and add garlic and saute for 30 seconds
  • Add pasta and bacon, season with black pepper saute for 30 seconds
  • Remove from heat and add eggs, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken but do not scramble
  • Add the spinach and stir in until wilted
  • Add the cheese and re season with salt and pepper
  • Mound the pasta onto a plate and serve

I have only made this recipe twice now.  If you make this dish and have any suggestions on how to improve, or alternative ingredients one could use, please submit them,  and I will post in the comments section.  Thanks!

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