Healthy Spanish Paella, An Amazing Family Style Dish

 

Wow!  What an amazing class and dish I learned how to properly make with Local Silicon Vally Chef Joni Sare.  The back story is I run and organize a local “Healthy Lifestyle/Fitness” meetup group here in the San Francisco Bay Area and with the guidance and incredibly instruction from Chef Joni Sare.  Joni was kind enough to allow me to organize a very reasonably priced cooking class to offer my members last weekend.  And boy was it a BIG hit.  Thank you Joni!  We made a really healthy and nutrient dense Veggie/Chicken and Shrimp Spanish Paella that was just amazing and am so excited to share it with you.

Paella, is a traditionally “peasant style” Spanish dish that has been round for many many generations, and a delight to serve large groups, dinner parties, or large gatherings.  Paella, is technically a four stage dish, which can be put together quickly with a little preparation.  Even better, with a few family member or assistants to help with the cutting and chopping of the vegetables,  its easy to piece together and just flow through all 4 stages easily and with little thought. When you get to the last stage of the final cooking process, you just allow the ingredients to finish their final cooking phase and you can enjoy a glass of wine or sparkling water chatting with friends.  The final product is finished in the last stage of cooking for about 20 minutes. Llastly you turn up the heat and allow the rice to toast and caramalize or that tasty crispy bottom at the end, the lid on, for about 3 to 5 minutes.

There are many variations of Spanish Paella:

To get an idea of a basic Spanish Paella “how to” you can see a great link here in an older “Fine Cooking” magazine link.  For basic Spanish Seafood Paella recipe how to with video see here through this link.

Here is the recipe for the Paella we made yesterday that are reflected in the photos I have included on this blog entry.  This was a veggie, seafood, chicken recipe but you can make any variation of this from excluding the chicken and seafood for just a super veggie version, of by just excluding the chicken or seafood very your own preferences.

Classic Spanish Paella Recipes Include Many Of These Ingredients:

Rabbit, chorizo, pork sausage, chicken sausage, chicken legs or thigh pieces, shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, greens beans and peas. Seafood options can include: Shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, scallops, and fish (any variety).  Veggies options can include: Marinated artichokes, green bean, zucchini (any type, bell peppers (green , red, yellow, and orange colored), chickpeas, carrots sliced, asparagus, parsley, mushrooms and potatoes.

Recipe below Created AND Developed by Chef Joni Sare

Serves 4 and should be prepared in aprox a 10 to 12 inch pan

Ingredients Stage 1 and 2:

  • Chicken legs or thighs bone in, or for less juicy or “lower fat” meat, chicken breasts quartered
  • 1 whole  chorizo , pork or chicken sausage sliced at a diagonal
  • 1 cup short grain arborio Rice
  • 1 large pinch of saffron (aprox 8 to 12 strings crushed)
  • 2 large bell peppers of any color, we used red and green for this particular dish yesterday
  • 2 tomatoes chopped into bite sized piece
  • 1 zucchini green or yellow sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red onion chopped1/2 cup of frozen green peas defrosted
  • 1/2 cup of green olives from a can (reserve liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced roasted piquillo peppers from a can

*** Remember that is just the ingredients from the recipe shown in the photos, you can be creative and use any of the ingredients I have listed as common ingredients used in Spanish Paella

*** Go to Stage 3 to make the cooking liquid if you have time before completing stage 2 so cooking liquid will be ready to go directly into pan at the end of Stage 2

Directions:

Stage One:

  1. Heat until soft in the olive oil the yellow onion dieced, the bell peppers diced, and the tomato diced
  2. Heat until soft aprox about 5 minutes, stirring often

Stage Two:

  1. Brown the meat in the onion, bell pepper and tomato mixture, until meat is nicely browned on all sixed, then remove meat and set aside.
  2. Add the rice, cook, stirring often allowing for the rice to have a nice oil and vegetable mix while allowing the rice to “toast” somewhat.
  3. Make a “well” or circular area in the middle of the pan, add the saffron and toast it for about one minute.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients except the browned meat

 

Stage 3 Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or crush (or 1 tablespoon can prepared crush garlic)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small 4 ounce jar of pimentos (liquid too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1.2 cup of the olive juice from the canned olive can
  • 1.2 cup of white wine or 1.4 of a cup vermouth

Stage 3 and 4 Directions:

Stage 3:

****If you have time while meat is browning in Stage 2, begin on Stage 3 while its browning

  1. In a 2 quart sauce pan , mix the liquid ingredients well, and keep warm on stove until time to add to Paella dish in Stage 4
  2. Mix the chicken broth or stock, the tomato sauce, the jar of pimentos with liquid, the bay leaf, the dried thyme, the reserved olive juice from the can, and the white wine or 1.4 cup of Vermouth

 

Stage 4:

  1. Add the broth mixture to the paella pan, mix well, making sure the rice is evenly distributed.  Add the brown meat to the paella pan in strategic places (wait on the seafood).  If you are using whole chicken legs or thighs, try to kind of nestle them into and within the rice in the pan so they are nicely surrounded by the warm mixture to insure complete cooking.
  2.  Keep the lid off and do not disturb the mixture until serving!
  3. Cook uncovered on a low simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is well below the rice and just about gone.
  4. 4. When liquid is about gone, at the point add the seafood, if using, in strategic places, and push down into the mixture.
  5. Turn the heat up now to medium high and allow the underside of the rice to toast and caramelize, making the “soccorat” aka the crispy rice bottom that Spanish paella is known for.
  6. Remove from heat , cover and let stand for 5 minutes, this allows the  “soccarat” or crispy browned rice bottom to loosen and lift from the bottom of the pan

Recipe Developed by Chef Joni Sare www.Jonisare.com

Serve and Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 430; Fat (g): 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 54; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 710; Cholesterol (mg): 65; Fiber (g): 2;

 

 

 

 

 



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Havana Style Breakfast Eggs

Its no secret I LOVE eggs.  I especially love eggs with Latin flavors. If I go out to breakfast or brunch, I always order eggs.  Usually in  a scramble or poached.  At home,  for breakfast, eggs are usually my first choice.  I found this simple classic “Havana” style egg recipe awhile ago in a Latin cookbook.  This recipe is inexpensive, easy to make, and quite tasty with the eggs being nestled and then baked within a bed of tomatoes.   I topped the eggs with a little sherry and tiny sprinkle of organic cheese to round out the flavor profiles.   This can be made in one oven proof skillet or cast iron pan, or as I did in little individual baking ramekins.  If your not going gluten free,  these eggs would taste delicious with some toasted baguette bread slices.  I only made enough for 2, but you can double the recipe if you want for 4, or even triple for 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of neutral oil
  • 1/2 of a white or yellow onion (I prefer sweet yellow onions)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Roma or Heirloom tomatoes seeded and diced (if desperate you can used 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • fresh ground sea salt and pepper
  • 2 to 4 large eggs (if 4 eggs, bake 2 eggs per individual baking dish I only do 1)
  • Optional: shredded organic cheese
  • Optional tobasco or hot sauce sauce for a little spicy heat

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree
  2. Heat a cast iron or oven proof skillet over medium and heat oil
  3. Add onion and garlic and saute, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly soft
  4. Add chopped bell pepper, saute for 2 to 3 until soft
  5. Stir in tomatoes and cook until the mix thickens
  6. Shake in the optional tabasco or “hot sauce” for a little spicy heat
  7. Add about 1 tablespoon of the sherry (saving the remaining for drizzling) , stir and allow to heat all the way through.  Aprox 3 to 4 minutes
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste
  9. To bake individually (as shown in photo) transfer the tomato mix to 2 ramekins or little baking dishes, making a little shallow well in the tomato mixture with the back of your spoon.
  10. Break the eggs individually into a small dish or bowl, and then carefully slip /transfer the egg into the well within the tomato mixture in the baking ramekin or dish
  11. Drizzle the eggs with an optional touch of sherry and a sprinkling of shredded cheese
  12. NOTE:  If baking in one pan, form 2 to 4 wells within the tomato mixture and use the same method as described above
  13. Bake eggs uncovered, until eggs are done to your liking, about 10 minutes for a soft to runny yolk.
  14. Serve and enjoy

Adapted from “Essentials of Latin Cooking” by Williams Sonoma, I could not find the publishing year,  228 page

 



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Basic Green Drink Recipe for 1

 

This is my basic “go to” recipe for my green drink I make in my high speed blender a couple times a week.  Great for beginners.  I like this recipe because the ingredients are easy to find, store and blend together in a snap.  There are a lot of “extras” you can add, or variations you can do with  this basic recipe which I will be going over here in the future.  I think adding in a a few basic “green drinks”  made for just one person is an simple quick starter item to add if your starting a healthy diet.  Just add in a couple of times a week if your just beginning out, and then start getting more creative.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped Dino (also called Tuscan)  kale
  • 1 small apple or 1/2 of a large apple,  sliced, skin on (your choice)
  • Half to one whole banana (I use frozen banana slices for a colder drink)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a high speed blender (I use a Vita Mix) for a minute or two, until well blended.

Optional: (you can add a small scoop of vitamin fortified “Greens” powders, there are many on the market, I use Green Vibrence, Vital Scoop, ect.  There are many on the market at Whole Foods or any supplement or vitamin store.

Drink and Enjoy

This drink is filled with lots of nutrition and less than 200 calories if using unsweetened Almond Milk, and around 230 with an added greens powder

 

 



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Healthy Sante Fe Style Sweet Potato, Veggie and Chile Frittata

 

 


A frittata can be an incredibly healthy egg dish made mainly on the stove.  For starters I love eggs so much its kind of a joke with my friends and family.  I can come up with almost any excuse to eat eggs at almost any meal.  Cooking a frittata is much easier than an omelet, and can be used as a  vehicle for almost any kind of veggie, cheese, protein, herb or spice you happen to have around. Frittatas  are traditionally served in pie shaped wedges, kind of like a deep dish pizza, and are easily transportable – in Italy it’s common to take a wedge to work for lunch. I love their versatility, the endless number of ingredient combinations and the fact that a frittata  can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.  Since its just my boyfriend and I here, I usually make one big deep dish style frittata, in an oven proof non stick pan. (usually a 12 inch  pan) I layer my favorite  ingredients of the day (usually with a lot of sauteed greens), aromatics/ herbs, and  spices and then pour the eggs on over them all and let it set. This size dish can provide several  meals and stores well covered in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

I almost always make my frittatas as flavorful and nutritious as possible, which is really easy to do by cranking up the veggie content, the aromatics, and by using less egg yolks and more whites if you choose.  This particular frittata’s flavor combination reflects my love of southwestern food.

The recipe, ingredients and directions below are exactly how I cooked my breakfast today.  I usually make all my frittatas with more  egg whites than whole egg .  I did include the directions for this recipe for the “regular” version of this dish, which is still extremely healthy on its own.  As a rule of thumb, I almost always add as many different veggies and ingredients as possible, for a more nutritionally dense and balanced meal.  I love potatoes for breakfast but but don’t eat them very often since they are a starchy carbohydrate with not much nutritional value, but sweet potatoes are a much more nutritionally complex version of their not so healthy cousin and play well off of the southwestern flavors in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled  and cut into 1/2 to 1/4 inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion chopped
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper (I prefer yellow) chopped
  • 2  fresh serrano or 1 Anaheim chile, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, cored , seeded, and minced (Optional)
  • one small can (aprox 4 ounces) of diced roasted green chile peppers
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped or sliced white mushrooms (Optional)
  • 1 cups of yellow or green zucchini chopped (Optional)
  • 1 small any color tomato seeded and chopped ( Optional)
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar,  pepper jack , Monterey jack  (optional: 1  cup of shredded cheese for much more flavor, yet more calories and fat)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice or if desperate bottle lime juice
  • 5 whole eggs plus 5 additional  egg whites ( optional higher calorie version use 8 whole eggs)
  •  Optional adds:  8 to 12  ounces chopped organic spicy lean sausage
  • Optional serving suggestions: a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, healthy guacamole, or cilantro stems for garnish

Directions:

  • Adjust top oven rack – with a skillet (ovenproof!) on it, you want the top of the skillet to be 4-6 inches from the broiler. Turn on broiler
  • Cooked the diced sweet potato in salted boiling water for 3 minutes then drain them, or just nuke them in the microwave whole until tender and then dice them. (I’ll admit I totally did the fast “cheater” way in the the microwave.  Its much easier)
  • In a large, aprox 12 inch, non stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and saute over medium heat the chopped onion, chopped peppers, diced fresh and canned chiles, stirring frequently for about 20 minutes until soft and onions are light brown. Then add the fresh minced garlic and chopped fresh Jalapenos, stir and set aside onto plate.
  • While chiles and onions are cooking take eggs and whites (or just whole eggs), crack them in a big bowl and whisk together until well mixed.  Set aside and return attention to stove.
  • Return non stick skillet to heat and add 1 more tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil until hot.  Add optional  chopped mushrooms and zucchini until barely soft and set aside on plate with chiles and onion
  •  Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil  to skillet over medium heat and add the sweet potatoes, stirring frequently and cook until the edges begin to turn light brown (7 to 10 minutes).

  • Then add plate to the now slightly browned potatoes the set aside plate of  cooked chiles, onions, and veggies back to skillet along with fresh chopped tomato, and optional chopped sausage, cooking until all is warmed through.
  • Stir in cilantro, lime juice,  salt  and pepper to taste. (about 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper)
  • Add 1/2 of the cheese mixture to the eggs before pouring  egg/cheese mixture over the cooked veggies in the skillet until its evenly distributed throughout.
  • Continuing at medium heat, cook eggs for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom with heat-resistant spatula. When eggs are mostly cooked but still very wet, stop stirring. You want to see cooked egg scattered throughout, but loose egg in between.
  • Continue cooking on stove for another minute so underside sets.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Put skillet under broiler. Watch carefully while top browns. This will take 2-4 minutes
  • Remove skillet from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes to finish cooking in center.
  • Cut in wedges and serve either directly from skillet
  •  Optional:  for a prettier family style service style, place a plate on top of the skillet about 15 minutes after egg has time to cool down, and flip the skillet and the plate over at the same time, so egg  holds it shape when you remove the skillet to serve at the dinner table.  Similar to how you would flip and serve an upside down cake.
  •  For serving suggestions,top each wedge sized serving with sliced avocado, guacamole, salsa, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and or cilantro sprigs.

Each large wedged size serving contains aprox 350 calories each,  is nutritionally dense and packed with about 12  grams of protein, lots of healthy carbohydrates and healthy fat.

 

 

 


 



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Roasted Carrots with Rosemary

I just love admiring carrots at the Farmer’s Markets, and they are one of the veggies that I consistently add to my cart at the grocery store.  They are super versatile and easy to work with.  They also have a long shelf life so even if I can’t use them right away, I know they will still taste great 5 days later.  Carrots are extremley rich  in Vitamin A and beta carotene as well as having natural anti inflammatory benefits.

On a funny note, my boyfriend is kind of obsessive compulsive, and for some reason,  has been currently obsessed with carrots for the past few months.  We live near a muti purpose grocery store with an amazing produce section, and lately he keeps coming home with bushels of carrots.  And when I say “bushels” he comes home with the whole “kit and caboodle” of the carrots: with the 2 foot long stems on them.  I tell him “You can have the long stems cut off buy the check out clerk or I’ll cut them off right now with some shears”.  But “NOoooooo” he does not want the long stems cut off until he eats them.  So basically we have what looks like a spider plant living in our fridge until he (the boyfriend) decides to eat them.  He  just loves eating them as snacks  while watching TV or working on the computer.  Lately when I go to the store,  he is always reminding me  “Don’t forget to get me some carrots, and only the real kind.  The kind with the stems”.  I have no idea why all of a sudden he has just become obsessed with eating raw carrots (with stems on, god forbid we cut them off first) all the time, but he is obsessed.  I’m not complaining since they are healthy, I just think its kind of funny or aka: weird. ( He will probably be very annoyed with me if he reads this.)

A few days ago my boyfriend came home with the above photographed,  multi colored carrots, and I thought they were way too pretty just to snack on raw, so I told him I would cook them.  He tried the cooked ones from this recipe and gave it a big thumbs up.

Ingredients:

  • Small bushel of carrots (Aprox 7 to 10) washed, greens cut to 1 inch from top of carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees
  2. Toss carrots, onion, and rosemary with olive oil.
  3. Lay out on a tin foil rimmed baking pan
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Roast for aprox 40 minutes until carrots are browned and soft enough to pierce through with a fork



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Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Vegetables


I had been wanting to try out some new coconut green curry recipes and found a version of this recipe posted on the “Epicurious” FB page last week. (Click here for Epicurious Recipe)  This particular recipe had all the flavors I loved, seemed fairly quick and easy. This made it a perfect base for a “Chicken Green Curry” or a “Vegetarian Green Curry” to come up with of my own.

So over this past weekend I tried out the recipe three ways.  With chicken, with shrimp, and then, a “Super Veggie” version. I found the vegetarian version, on this particular occasion, to be my favorite of the three, and was still eating the delicious leftovers from it, 2 days later.

This is one of those recipes that you can definitely play around with all the flavors and ingredients to suit your own liking. For a healthier version, I cut down on  the “unnecessary” calories  by using light coconut milk. less oil and omitting the noodles. (However, having tried this recipe, I can vouch it would taste pretty awesome with noodles)  I really amped up the flavor and the heat by using a bit more lemon grass, cilantro, ginger, and curry paste. If you prefer a more “tame” dish, perhaps stick to the measurements from the original Epicurious recipe tagged above.

As a little side note for anyone going through chemotherapy, or if your cooking for someone who is.  One of my absolute favorite things to eat during the 2 years I was having chemo was Asian curries.  This is a really great curry base with the kind of powerful flavors that really help neutralize that yucky chemo taste in the mouth one gets.   The tasty flavor profile and the aromatics like the ginger, lemongrass and cilantro have great healing properties and health and healing properties for the oncology patient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 medium sized shallots)
  • 2 or 3 fresh lemongrass stalks, with the outer 1 or 2 leaves discarded and the lower 6 inches of the stalks thinly sliced * note: if you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass, use a tablespoon of lemongrass paste from the fresh produce section of your grocery store (or you can bypass this ingredient all together since there is a little bit of lemongrass in the green curry paste)
  • 4 large garlic clove, chopped (you can use less if your not a fan of garlic)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 3 tablespoons bottled Asian green curry paste (click here for example)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 cup of water (preferably filtered)
  • 2  to 3 tablespoons of grape-seed oil or coconut oil (or any neutral oil for high heat cooking)
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups of non fat chicken broth or chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp ( If making chicken curry 1 lb chicken breast;  if making vegetarian curry, use 3 to 4 cups of chopped veggies (i.e.  broccoli,  onion, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced Shitake mushrooms (or white mushrooms is OK)
  • 2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion chopped

Directions:

  • Puree shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender or a food processor with the curry paste, salt, turmeric and water until as smooth as possible.  About 1 minute
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan over moderate heat and stir fry veggies until just cooked or al dente.  Start with onions, cook for 3 minutes until soft, add carrots and, and mushrooms.  If doing the vegetarian curry, cook all the veggies until just barely cooked.  Do not over cook or they will be too mushy after going in the curry. Removed veggies and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil in a large pot or dutch oven over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook the curry paste mix mixture, stirring frequently, until it just begins to stick to the bottoms of the pot, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not let it brown – than it’s starting to burn.
  • Add coconut milk  and chicken broth to the curry past mixture stir and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Depending on which type of curry you made add in shrimp or chicken and stir until protein is cooked. 2 to 3 minutes  for shrimp and a few extra minutes for chicken.  Take a shrimp or chicken out and cut through checking to make sure its cooked all the way through.

  • Stir in veggies and stir in fish sauce, salt and pepper.

 

Serve and enjoy



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Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Chicken with Fresh Crunchy Veggies

The first time I made this, when checking out the finished product in the slow cooker towards the end, I noticed it definitely needed more color and “crunch”.  I added in some veggies that I cooked really quickly over the stove. I use organic chicken breasts, but chicken thighs work really well, and some people actually prefer them. I cut down the calories in this dish by using lower fat coconut milk. I used a slow cooker for this but you  can cook it for a long time  over gentle heat as well. But, keep in mind, the intense Thai flavors really infuse into the Shiitakes and the chicken when cooked in the slow cooker!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons grape-seed oil
  • 1 to  1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • 1 small jar of Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 1 cup of homemade chicken stock or store bought non fat chicken broth/stock
  • 8 ounces fresh Shiitake mushrooms (less expensive mushrooms are OK as well), stems trimmed and halved
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh cut up veggies (i.e. broccoli, snap peas, red and yellow peppers, red onion, etc.)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • optional steamed brown to serve it over, but I just eat it on its own

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into thirds
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Brown chicken in batches, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden.  Transfer to slow cooker.
  4. Reduce heat in frying pan to low.  Add 1 more Tablespoon oil to pan, add curry paste and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Add stock and stir until curry paste has dissolved.
  6. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
  7. Pour mixture over chicken and stir to combine.
  8. Cover and cook on medium in slow cooker for 3 1/2 hours.
  9. At 3 1/2 hours: Combine fish sauce, brown sugar and coconut milk in a bowl and then stir into curry.  Reduce heat in slow cooker to low and set timer for 30 minutes.
  10. Heat remaining oil in large frying pan over medium high heat and add chopped fresh veggies and stir fry for a couple of minutes, to just cook through, yet still “al dente” and set aside
  11. At 4 hours: Add the fresh veggies to the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.
  12. Stir in the basil, and serve over rice or alone.  Enjoy!

    * Source:  Adapted from Super Food Ideas – August 2006, page 67



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    White Bean Kale Soup 2 Ways: Vegetarian or with Pancetta/Sausage

     

     

    I got the idea for this recipe from the website “A Cozy Kitchen”, that posted some gorgeous succulent photos of this dish on their Facebook page.  They featured it “French Onion Style”, with croutons and melted cheese over it.  Neither my boyfriend nor I are gluten sensitive (yes, we were both tested), but for some reason I’ve never been into bread in my soup.  “A Cozy Kitchen’s” version was a knock off of  a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook “My Father’s Daughter”, which I hadn’t really even thought of buying after seeing numerous articles circulating, making fun of some of the really unintentionally funny comments she had made in her book.  The basic premise of the recipe itself was pretty straightforward and simple, but after having made it, and then tooling around with it, there were some definite changes on my part.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 to 2 fennel bulbs (I love fennel so I use 2) stems and fronds removed, thinly sliced
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 3 large garlic cloves
    • Generous  shake of red chile flakes (I like spice so I went with lots)
    • 1/4 teaspoon oregano (Gwyneth’s recipe calls for this amount, but I say use generous serving of mixed Italian dried seasonings)
    • (2) 15 ounce cans cannellini beans rinsed and drained (use canned to save time)
    • 2 pints of non fat chicken or vegetable stock (I used more because I love lots of broth)
    • Salt and Pepper, to taste
    • Shredded Parmesan Cheese

    Optional:

    • 1/3 cup pancetta or organic spicy sausage, chopped added in at same time as the garlic
    • 1 cup chopped carrots added in about halfway through the onion/ fennel cooking process

    Directions:

    1. Heat Olive Oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion and saute for about 15 minutes until the moisture and sugar sweats out and is slightly caramelized.
    2. Optional: Add in chopped carrots at about 7 minutes in if you choose to use them… I like the color they add.
    3. Also Optional: When the fennel and onions are almost done cooking add in the chopped pancetta or sausage and stir until cooked
    4. Add the chile flakes, dried Italian herb mix, and pepper and cook for a minute or two
    5. Add the rinsed beans and stock, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer, add salt to taste.
    6. My recipe adjustment, after adding the beans and broth and allowing to boil then simmer, I added in the chopped head of kale around 25 minutes and allowed the kale to cook for it seemed like at least 10 minutes, but the desired result is really up to the chef.  More cooking, less crunchy kale.  I suggest tasting the kale’s crunchiness,  while its cooking until its to your desired liking.  Its a tough little plant so don’t be fearful you’ll accidentally over cook it really quickly, that takes a long time.  It also holds up surprisingly well stored as left overs in the fridge overnight or even for a couple days without getting soggy.  Like I said, it’s a tough little plant!
    7. Dish up and serve warm, sprinklingwith shredded Parmesan cheese.  The cheese really rounds out the flavor profile.

     


    *Note: Originally, the recipe called for cooking it for an hour, but I was afraid the beans would be too mushy, as that they were already from a can.  Additionally it said to stir in the kale leaves at the end and let cook for 2 -3 minutes, but if you’re like me, I don’t like really crunchy kale in my soup, I prefer it more “al dente”.

    *Additional Notes: Another suggestion, if you really want to make this a hearty soup, is to add in some cooked sausage or organic chorizo towards the end.  I had this both ways, vegetarian style (which was delish and super low fat) and with some added animal protein.  I really did prefer it with the chopped pancetta cooked in with the fennel and onion and with some added spicy sausage at the end.  Whichever you like is up to you.  Both are super healthy, and as long as you choose lower fat organic sausage, the meat version is low in fat and healthy as well.

    “Manly eating” meat-eater guys even love this!  My boyfriend scarfed down a huge bowl of it day 2 in the fridge and said “This still tastes awesome”



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    Fresh Heirloom Tomato “Carpaccio”

    I love Heirloom tomatoes.  Whenever I see them coming back into the Farmer’s markets, I get really excited.  Today I’ll introduce a really easy “Tomato Carpaccio”.

    This is  a fun, simple little snack that also has an air of sophistication to it.  It can be whipped up in just minutes. It tastes great, is low in calories, and packs a big punch in nutrition.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 to 3 yellow to yellow orange fresh Heirloom tomatoes
    • 1/4 chopped finely red onions
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    • Optional  1/4 organic goat cheese or feta
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
    • Organic  Olive Oil oil for drizzling
    • Optional reduced  balsamic vinegar

    Directions:

    1. Cut the tomatoes thin with a sharp knife or mandolin and lay out on serving plate
    2. Begin by evenly distributing the red onions over the tops of the tomatoes, followed by the fresh chopped basil.
    3. Sprinkle on the goat or feta cheese crumbles and toasted pine nuts, then drizzle with just a small amount of olive oil.  You can serve like this, or serve with the balsamic reduction.
    4. For the optional balsamic reduction, which I really do recommend. Take 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, and heat it over the stove in a small saucepan and let it cook down to about 1/2 of that, or aprox 1/4 cup.  Then drizzle the reduced balsamic over the entire plate and then serve.



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    Bright “Beet Up My Cold” Juice

    Playing around with my juicer I came up with this little concoction, which is really tasty, and I’d like to believe, kicking some butt on my current cold.

    Wash all the veggies and cut up to sizes that can fit in juicer.  Peel the ginger before putting through the juicer or a vitamix.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 Beets
    • 2 apples
    • 2 carrots
    • 1 stalk celery
    • 1 to 2 inch  piece of ginger (peeled)

    Put through juicer (mine is an ACME brand) or vitamix if you want to keep the pulp. If I’m feeling a bit whimsy,  I like to serve my more colorful juices in fun glasses, like wine or martini glasses.  If there is  extra, just store in fridge for up to a couple of hours, or in mason jar up to 24 hours.  However I suggest to drink right away after you make it.

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