Avocado and Arugula Salad

I eat a lot of raw fresh produce. The longest I ever lasted with a 100% raw food diet was a month. I definitely felt great but 100% just isn’t practical for my lifestyle. The whole premiss behind this way of eating is that cooking foods above 115 degrees F kills the enzymes in food that help us digest and absorb nutrients. Now I just incorporate as much seasonal fresh produce into my day to day eating habits as possible.

When I was on the raw food kick, I ate this Arugula salad at LEAST once a week. It was so filling and satisfying. Stew and I were wanting a lighter meal, so we had this for supper. 

Avocado and Arugula Saladserves 1

2 cups arugula

1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

2 Tbsp craisins

2 Tbsp slivered almonds

1 Tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped mint

Create a bed of arugula in a large bowl. Arrange the apple and avocado fanned out in a circular patter on top of the arugula (To cut the avocado, slice down the center around the pit. Then tap a large chef’s knife into the pit and twist. This should make the pit come right out. Then peel the avocado by pulling the skin off). Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with a little bit of the red wine vinaigrette. Now you have yourself a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner!

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Grilled Rosemary Chicken

Here’s another chicken idea. I find that chicken can get so boring, and I’m always looking for new ideas to spice it up! Start with the chicken breasts. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Then, in a gallon size ziplock bag, combine the remaining ingredients. Mush the ingredients together with your hand in the bag. Using tongs, place all four pieces of chicken in the bag. Squeeze the air out and zip the bag closed. Then, move all the chicken pieces around in the bag to get them completely coated. Place them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8.

Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, pull out one piece of chicken at a time. Shake off excess marinade, and place on the grill pan. Grill on each side until chicken is cooked through. This is delicious by itself, or cut up over a salad. Enjoy! 

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

serves 2-4 depending on portion size

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (slice through the center to make 4 thin breast pieces)

1/4 c. olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Start with the chicken breasts. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Then in a gallon size ziplock bag, combine the remaining ingredients. Mush the ingredients together with your hand in the bag. Using tongs, place all four pieces of chicken in the bag. Squeeze the air out and zip the bag closed. Then move all the chicken pieces around in the bag to get them completely coated. Place them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8.

Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, pull out one piece of chicken at a time. Shake off excess marinade, and place on the grill pan. Grill on each side until chicken is cooked through. This is delicious by itself, or cut up over a salad. Enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

There’s something about chicken noodle soup that has healing qualities. Stew caught that cold that’s been going around. He came home from work, and I could tell he was not well. So, I cooked up some chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what he needed.

I usually buy chicken in bulk and then freeze it in meal size portions in ziplock bags. I’ll take it out the night before I plan to use it and leave it in the fridge. By the next night it’s defrosted perfectly. Of course, if you don’t plan that far ahead, you can always take it out a few hours early and place the bag into a bowl of water in the fridge. Place something heavy on top to keep the bag submerged.

Now, this recipe calls for 1 chicken breast in the crock pot, but I did two and shredded them both. I put one in a tupperware in the fridge for quesadillas the next night. The more I can do to make cooking easier, the better. You can even cook the chicken in the morning so they’re ready when you make the soup. While those cook, I cut the veggies. I saute them once the chicken is almost finished cooking.

Then I cook the pasta, strain it, and put it into a bowl to sit while the rest of the ingredients are cooking. I add a tbsp of olive oil and mix it up so the noodles don’t turn into one big block. I found that the soup turns to mush if I add the noodles in and let it sit overnight in the soup. If I know I’ll have leftovers, I keep the noodles in a separate container and add it to the soup as I serve it. But if there are enough people  to eat it all in one sitting, add the noodles in.

When the chicken is finished cooking, shred it with two forks into big chunks. Add the broth and chicken to the veggies and let it simmer so that all the flavors blend together. Ladle the soup (and noodles if they’re separate) into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley. The fresh herbs add a pop of color. Feel better! 

Chicken Noodle Soup-serves 4 to 6

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

4 carrots, peeled diced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup small pasta noodles (I used ditalini)

salt

pepper

  1. Place one chicken breast into the slow cooker and add enough water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper corns, and 1 bay leaf. Cook on high for 2 hours. Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Set aside.
  2. Peel and dice 1/2 an onion and 4 carrots. Dice the celery and mince garlic clove.
  3. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, chicken broth, and shredded chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is al dente, drain and place in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. I keep the pasta separate until I serve the soup. Otherwise, the noodles absorb the liquid and get too big.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and add pasta. Garnish with some fresh parsley.

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Chicken With Lemon And Capers

This is one of my go-to meals. I served this chicken the other night with whipped potatoes and an arugula salad. It’s a great way to stretch out your chicken. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Pound each piece out so they are about 1/8 inch thick. This helps them brown evenly. Just place each breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound away. Once they’re all finished, set them aside on a plate.

I always set up my breading station before I start cooking, because the process all comes together quickly once you start cooking the chicken. Crack the egg and whisk with 1 tbsp warm water. This keeps the breading from being too eggy. In another bowl, combine both breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. I use two different kinds of breadcrumbs because the regular crumbs coat well, and the panko add nice texture. Mix well with your fingers.

Next, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers in a glass measuring pitcher. Now the sauce is ready to go as soon as the chicken is finished cooking. Set up the breading station right by the skillet so it’s easy to keep the process moving.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook chicken, 2 pieces at a time, until browned on both sides and cooked through the center (Add more oil to cook the second batch).

Set chicken aside and tent with foil to keep warm. Time for the sauce! Lower the heat to medium and pour the liquid mixture into the saucepan to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Slowly sprinkle in the flour while whisking so no lumps form. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will get. Plate the chicken and drizzle the sauce on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for a pop of color. Enjoy! 

Chicken With Lemon and Capers

Serves 4

2 chicken breasts (or 4 thin cutlets)

1 egg

1 Tbsp warm water

½ cup fine breadcrumbs

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups chicken broth

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp capers

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp fresh parsley

Use a serrated knife to slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise. You should have 4 chicken breast pieces. Layer each piece of chicken between plastic wrap and set on a cutting board. Pound each piece out to about 1/8 in thick. Set them aside. In the meantime, set up the breading station. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with 1 Tbsp warm water. In a separate bowl combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Next, prepare the sauce mixture. Pour chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers into a glass measuring pitcher.

Once everything is ready, heat a large saucepan to medium-high. Coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tbsp). Use tongs to dip the chicken into the egg and then the bread mixture. Place chicken into your saucepan. You may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches. Cook until brown on both sides and cooked through the center.

Once chicken is cooked through, move to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the saucepan to deglaze the pan. Scrape with a wooden spoon to get the brown bits off the bottom. Lower the heat to medium. Slowly add flour to the saucepan, whisking constantly until dissolved. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer about 10-15 minutes until sauce is thick. Plate the chicken and top with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

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Sausage Tortellini Soup

This is one of Stew’s favorites. I love the flavor of the hot Italian turkey sausage. It’s less greasy than pork and it adds great flavor! 

I wait to add the zucchini and tomato until after the sausage cooks, because if you add it too early, it turns to mush. They only need to sauté for a few minutes, because when you simmer them with the broth they continue to cook.

Add the tomato sauce and broth and let the soup simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes. The longer it sits, the more the flavors marry. Taste to see if you need more salt. I added a few teaspoons. It’s a big pot of soup!

I time it so I start cooking the tortellini when the soup is just about ready to serve. They only cook for about 7 minutes. Another trick is to add the tortellini to each bowl, rather than the large pot. When the tortellini sit in the broth, especially if you have left overs, they absorb the liquid and get really big! Top with a touch of parmesan right before serving! Perfect for a cool winter night.

Sausage Tortellini Soup

Serves 6-8

3 links hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

½ yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

8 oz can tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz package whole-wheat cheese tortellini

2 tbsp dried Italian herbs

salt

pepper

grated parmesan for garnish

In a dutch oven or large pot, sauté onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, remove the casings from the sausage. Put them in the pot and break up with a spatula. Keep breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Once the sausage is cooked, add the tomatoes and zucchini. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs. Sauté for another 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add the tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In the meantime, cook the tortellini according to the package instructions. Ladle the soup into bowls and add tortellini to each bowl. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

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