dinner

Sesame Orange Chicken

When someone thinks "healthy," Chinese foods is rarely the first thing to come to mind. I looove Chinese foods, but rarely ever order it because it's so heavy on the greasy, sticky, salty sauces and so light on the veggies. Once in a while you'll find me with some fried rice, egg rolls, or lo mein, but I have to say this popular take-out dish is quite easy to make yourself (and MUCH healthier). It's been tested and approved my both myself and a client. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Orange Sesame Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

For the sauce:

  • 3 oranges, zested and juiced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (if you prefer spice, add more to taste)

Whisk all sauce ingredients together and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add sauce and chicken. Cook about 30 minutes until the sauce is thick and sticky. Top with sesame seeds and serve with a side of white or brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Tip: Don't have enough time? Throw the chicken and sauce in a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8. Steam some broccoli in a basket steamer with some cooked, frozen brown rice (takes 5 minutes) and enjoy. 

 
 

I Tried Hello Fresh - Here's What Happened

I talk to so many clients who experience very real barriers when it comes to cooking. Long work weeks and lack of energy are just the start. Many people I talk to complain that cooking healthy food is "boring" or they feel like they have an undeveloped, what I like to call "cooking vocabulary." The truth is, to really eat healthy in the long-run, you have to make cooking for yourself part of the program, unless you're going to hire a personal chef to cook your healthy meals for you. Luckily, I discovered an intermediate option, Hello Fresh

Here's how it works: You can decide if you want enough meals for 3, 4 or 5 days of the week. You can also specify if you want vegetarian or omnivore boxes. Then, they send you 3-5 different recipes, and perfectly portioned ingredients for each recipe, all divided into individual boxes. My box included bean burritos, oven roasted chicken and vegetables, and a simple steak recipe (not pictured below). Each recipe took about 30 minutes to make and each had a few ingredients I would have never used, which definitely took the "boring" away from these meals.

Is this something I would do again? Probably not. I actually love creating recipes of my own, going to the grocery store, and cooking everyday. So this service is not for me... but if you're something who doesn't like doing any of those things, I highly recommend you giving it a try! Then, let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: Hello Fresh did send me a complementary box in exchange for this block post. The opinions are my own and I did not receive any monetary compensation. 

Have any questions about my experience? Drop them in the comments below and I'll get back to you. 

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Have you ever made a dish that came out sooo delicious, you then preceded to make it every week for the rest of your life? That's how I feel about this butternut squash mac & cheese. I will never tire of it. Well, at least not until winter is over. Let me not waste anymore of your time with these words, and let's dig in. 

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

  • 1 butter nut squashed, halved lengthwise 
  • 10 pieces nitrate-free bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pound pasta (I used brown rice penne pasta)
  • 1/2 head kale, de-veined and chopped
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place butternut squash on lined baking pan face down for 25-45 minutes, until fork tender. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Begin cooking bacon in non-stick bacon pan. Cook until crispy, stirring occasionally. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper-towel. 
  3. Add pasta to boiling and set timer for time on package instructions. 
  4. When the squash is completely cooked, remove from oven. Scoop out seeds from butternut squash and discard.
  5. In a blender, blend broth, cashews, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Blend until smooth. Then, scoop out butternut squash (seeds removed) and transfer to blender. Blend until smooth, adding extra broth if necessary. 
  6. In a large pan, over medium heat add kale and a few splashes of water. Cook until wilted. Then, drain pasta and add to pan. Top with sauce, bacon, and parmesan cheese. Stir until well coated. Serve and enjoy!
 
 

Kitchari - Immune Boosting Recipe

Last year when I met with Jill Talve, an Ayurvedic Practitioner (check out our recent interview), she told me about this amazing Ayurvedic recipe called Kitchari (also spelled, kitcheree) to help support digestion and boost immune function.  The turmeric and ginger in this recipe are potent antioxidants and the mung daal and rice are easy to digest. Plus, it's so simple to make and insanely delicious.

To get you super excited about this recipe, my friend Sarah let me come make a mess of her kitchen and helped me take some of these fabulous photos. She's a quite literally a jack of all trades; an amazing chiropractor, cook, craftsman, and photographer. Enjoy!

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo by Sarah Granite

Photo By Sarah Granite 

Photo By Sarah Granite 

Basic Kitchari

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1⁄2 cup mung dal
  • 1 tablespoon kitchari spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup radishes, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash rice and mung dal and soak overnight. Drain soak water.

In a medium saucepan on low heat warm the ghee, be careful as this burns easily. Add the kitchari spice mixture and sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice, mung beans, and salt and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add additional salt, if needed. 

Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30-45 minutes).

Turn the heat off, then add radishes and cilantro. Salt to taste. Pour into bowls and top with additional radish and cilantro for garnish. 

If you're not sure where to grab these items, take the lazy way, like I did, and buy the Kitchari Making Kit from Banyan Botanicals

A big thank you to Sarah Granite of Granite Chiropractic for helping me take these amazing photos!

Farro Salad

Move over pasta salad, this light, but hearty dish takes the cake. Bursting with the summer flavors of basil and cherry this salad can serve as a main dish or a side to your grilled favorites.  This dish is my 'ode to the end of summer... I hope you enjoy!

FARRO SALAD

Serves 4

  • 1 cup farro, dried
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, OR balsamic reduction

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add farro and let simmer 30-45 until water is soaked up. Meanwhile, mix together mustard, lemon, and optional yogurt.

After farro has cooled pour dressing over the farro, then mix in basil, arugula, and cherries. top with balsamic to enjoy!

 
 

Restaurant Redo: Mac & Cheese

Hey everyone! I'm Alix, Jessi's (former) intern. Let me just say that it has been an AWESOME experience working with Jessi. I can only hope that my first post in first person will even slightly rival her on point weekly posts.

(Jessi here - I swear I'm not paying her to say this).

My direct inspiration for this Restaurant Redo? A combination of three things:

  1. My and my roommates’ love for late night snacking
  2. The cauliflower craze (ever heard cauliflower is the new kale?)
  3. The BOWLS and BOWLS of Mac ‘N Cheese I sell to guests every shift at Cafeteria Boston (the restaurant I work at as I finish up my senior year at Boston University). 
cauliflower

The great (and not so great) thing about this menu option is that you can order it all kinds of ways... lobster, chicken, or shrimp; lobster, chicken and shrimp; scallops, peas and carrots... you get the picture.

I have learned by now that the guest looking up at me has either ordered the same dish 100 times over, or they have newly discovered the pot of gold on the menu. In the second case, I ALWAYS tell them that they won’t finish the whole bowl. They usually challenge me, but I win every single time.

Bottom line? The unbelievable gooey, noodley goodness is worth of salivation from just walking by it. But, how do you think they get it that way? Yup, lot's of pasta, heavy cream, and four kinds of cheeses. It's worth every bite, but definitely not something to indulge in on a daily basis.

I couldn’t live without being able to come home and satisfy a craving that had been building up for hours at work, but I wanted to do it the right way. So, here we have it: Chicks & Cheese. Instead of refined pasta noodles, heavy cream, and 4 kinds of cheeses, we have a complete meal made without any refined carbohydrates, but still loaded with hearty flavors and a creamy texture.  

cauliflower-mac-and-cheese

Chicks & Cheese

  • 1 head (or 1 lb) cauliflower, use different colors to liven up the dish!
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup shredded fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ cup almond flour (you can make this my pulsing ½ cup of almonds in a food processor).

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and let simmer. 

While the quinoa is cooking, cut the head of cauliflower in half, cut the stem off, and chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. In a saucepan, heat 1 tbs of coconut oil. Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute until tender and light brown on the surface.

Once the quinoa is done cooking, pour the contents of the saucepan into the pot. Break up the goat cheese and stir it into the mixture. Add additional salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.

Scoop out the mixture and place in an oven-safe container. Sprinkle the cheese and the almond flour . Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on how crispy you like it). Remove from heat and serve warm. You can also add chicken, or shrimp for extra protein. 

 
 

Blood Orange Broccoli

Broccoli has never been one of my favorite vegetables, but lately I've found myself craving it. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little... I usually crave cookies. But when I'm thinking about what vegetables to eat with dinner, broccoli has been on my mind! So when I went to the grocery store I did a little trolling around for something to liven it up a little. Since the change of seasons this time of year tends to make me a little more prone to getting sick, I decided to jump for the citrus fruits. Bright and delicious, but also high in vitamin C. I picked up some lemon and my new favorite - blood oranges (in season and on sale most places now)!

Blood Orange Broccoli

  • 1-2 heads broccoli, broken into florets (you can keep or lose the stems)
  • 2 blood oranges ; 1 peeled and chopped, 1 juiced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Place broccoli in a basket steamer (or colander) and place in the pot with water. Let steam for 5 minutes. 

Place the broccoli in a bowl and add the chopped blood orange, the juice of the other blood orange, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and ginger with the greek yogurt. Plate the broccoli and dip in yogurt to enjoy!

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

Ever make a recipe and then forget about it? That's what happened to me with this soup. I made this a looong time ago, thought it was one of the most delicious things I ever made, and then POOF erased it from my memory. I'm not sure why but I am sure glad that this soup is back in my life. Even though I can hardly contain my excitement for winter coming to an end - I am going to miss these hearty soups, so let's have one last hurrah! One thing you'll notice is that I made this stew without oil. Now, you can certainly use oil or butter, but if you're trying to cut back, check out my tip below for sautéing onions without oil.  

Red Lentil Dahl Stew

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or substitute with a Soup Starter)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1, 28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions and stir continuously. With a higher heat, the onions will contract, and release a lot of water, which will prevent them from sticking. If they start to stick, add a small amount of vegetable broth (only about 1 tsp at a time). Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and jalapeño, and sauté, continuing to add small amounts of vegetable broth if necessary.  

Add the lentils, broth, and tomatoes. Cook 30-45 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Polenta Pizza

I love grits. I love polenta. Most people don't realize they are the same thing! You can eat it as a ball of mush (YUM) or let it set and put a bunch of yummy stuff on top of it for a simply delicious textured pizza crust.   Here's what I did...

Polenta Pizza

  • 1 cup polenta (grits)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 cups mushrooms, chopped fine parsley for garnish

To make the polenta: bring 3 cups water to a boil, let simmer and add polenta, salt, and olive oil. Stir constantly until thick and all of the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the egg and continue to stir until cooked and well combined (it should look nice and creamy). On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the polenta mixture evenly, just like a pizza crust. No rolling required! Set this aside. 

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium eat, saute the mushrooms (without oil), until they begin to release moisture and brown. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until browned.  While this is cooking, place the goat cheese in chunks over the polenta and set in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. 

Take out the polenta, and spread the goat cheese evenly across the top. Top with mushroom and onion mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley to taste, and enjoy!

Kimchi Fried Rice

If any of you have worked with me before, you know I'm a big advocate for a daily probiotic supplement. Those 'good' bacteria have been shown to have a beneficial affect on everything from weight gain to depression. The problem I most often come across, however, is that a high quality supplement costs anywhere between $45-$60 per bottle for about a 1 month supply. My motto is, you can pay for it now, or pay for it later... but when it comes to probiotics, you can actually get a pretty well-rounded supply from the foods you eat - if you choose wisely.   All fermented foods are a great source of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria, but they are an acquired taste for sure. They key is to make sure its naturally fermented and not just pickled in vinegar. Most sauerkrauts found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store fit the bill. 

One of my new favorites: kimchi. I'm not enough in love with it yet to eat it on its own, however, it's a perfect addition to my "fried" rice. Best part, it only takes about 5 minutes to make!

Kimchi Fried Rice

  • 2 cups leftover brown rice (I always use frozen brown rice)
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrot blend
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame or peanut oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup kimchi
  • 1 head baby bock choy, chopped

In a pan over medium heat, place rice and peas and carrot blend. Saute until everything is blended and defrosted. Add soy sauce, sesame or peanut oil, and crushed red pepper. As you continue stirring, add the eggs and quickly mix into the rest of the rice and vegetables, until completely cooked through. Turn the heat off and then add kimchi and bok choy. Fold in thoroughly and enjoy! You can also add chicken, shrimp, or tofu for a little extra protein.  

Do you have a favorite food-sourced probiotic?