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Crunchy Peanut Chicken Strips

12 Nov

One of my favorite condiments is peanut sauce, or what I like to call saute sauce.  When we lived in Holland that’s what it was called.  My mom would make chicken strips or skewers and we’d dip our chicken in that warm peanuty sauce.  Anytime I eat Thai food I have to order peanut sauce.  I’m slightly obsessed. 

Peanut sauce isn’t loved by everyone in my house though.  Since it’s me and the husband by logical deduction that means he’s the one that doesn’t like it.  I don’t force him to eat it anymore, but I did find a way to enjoy the peanut and chicken flavor profile last night.

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Crunchy Peanut Chicken Strips (gluten free)

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1.5 lb), sliced into strips
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powders
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder, pepper and sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup peanut flour
  • Olive oil spray

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet lined with a wire rack.  Coat the rack with olive oil spray.
  2. In the food processor combine the oats and peanuts.  Pulse until it becomes a finer mixture but still with some larger chunks.  Place oat/peanut mixture in a bowl and stir in the garlic powder, chili powder, pepper and sea salt.
  3. In a large ziplock bag place the chicken and peanut flour.  Shake to coat the chicken with flour.
  4. Whisk together the egg and milk in a bowl.
  5. You should place your liquid and oat mixture placed near your rack.  Take the chicken, one piece at a time, and dip in the liquid, let the excess egg drip off, then dredge in the oat mixture.  Place on the wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
  6. Coat the top of the chicken strips with olive oil spray.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until fully cooked through, but not overcooked. 

Variations

  • You could easily make this an almond chicken by substituting in almond meal for the peanut flour and whole almonds for the dry roasted peanuts.
  • Change up the size of strips.  Make little nuggets or large pieces – whatever works for you!

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How to make custard oats

11 Nov

A few weeks ago I posted my how-to on making egg white oats.  Truth be told I eat custard oats much more often than egg white oats.  Egg white oats give you a ton of volume whereas custard oats give you a more creamy bowl of oatmeal. 

In the past I used to only eat the whites of egg – no yolks please.  Those days are in the past and I regularly eat 1-2 whole eggs a day now.  The yolk is full of vitamins and minerals that help our bodies function properly, plus it’s a good source of healthy protein
An egg a day keeps the doctor away, right? Winking smile

How to make custard oats

Begin by heating your water/milk up to a soft boil (I used 3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup soymilk for 1/3 cup oats). 

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Add the oats with a pinch of sea salt, stir and reduce to about medium heat.

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Crack your egg into a bowl.  I use 1 egg for my oatmeal.  Beat with a fork until light yellow and a bit frothy.

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After about 8 minutes your oatmeal should look like this.  Still a tiny bit watery, but the oats have softened up nicely.

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Turn the heat down to low, slowly pour in the egg and stir a lot really quickly.

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Keep stirring until your oatmeal begins to get really creamy and custard like.  That’s when you know the egg has cooked thoroughly.  Add any spices, like cinnamon, that you want.  I added peanut flour + some extra milk into this bowl.

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Pour into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, nut butters, granola, seeds or whatever you like.  Pomegranates go great with a subtle peanut flavor.

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Have you tried custard oats or even egg white oats before?  Which do you prefer?

Did you join in on the mini-challenge?  Those that have, how’s your second day going?  Keep up the good work!

Also, yes it’s a shocker but you CAN train your cat to use a toilet.  It’s a lot of work and persistence at the end, but we’re about 90% there.  It’s the funniest looking thing too.

Energize Yourself with Food

9 Nov

The past few weeks we’ve been in the process of training our cat to use the toilet (again).  We almost got there last year, but with much resistance had to revert back to the litter box.  I look forward to the day I can finally throw out the litter box for good, and not have to clean up any litter for that matter.

Unfortunately for me, with the time change my cat Stoner decided that he still wanted to wake up at his normal time.  Normally he wakes me up at 4:45am, just a bit before my alarm goes off.  Monday morning 4:45 turned into 3:45am.  Usually I’d just put him in the downstairs bathroom where his litter box is and go back to sleep.

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Why am I telling this story?  Well because with the potty training he has to be supervised which meant I had to be awake.  Once awake I’m awake for good so I was quite the early bird Monday morning.

I was pretty productive for a few hours, but then my productivity dropped off around 9am and the tired feeling hit.  I’d already had my 1 cup of coffee and didn’t want to rely on more.  If I was home I’d take a nap, but at work that’s not an option.

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I opted for food to energize me.  Most of the time when I’m super tired I just crave carbs – pasta, bread or oatmeal are my go to foods.  But when I’m dragging tired I know one food that will actually give me lasting energy. 

Vegetables

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I’ve found that when I eat a spinach salad with nuts, fruits and/or other veggies I become instantly energized.  Same goes with green smoothies. 

Green Monster

I put as much spinach in them as possible along with banana and peanut butter and after a few minutes of blending I have energy in a cup.

Vegetables are full of water which helps keep you hydrated.  Put that together with the enormous amount of vitamins and minerals you get from vegetables and it makes sense that they would be an energizing food.

Try this – the next afternoon when you’re ready to go for that extra cup of coffee, eat a small spinach salad with some sliced apples and almonds on it.  Drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  I bet it gives you some energy. 

It’s worked for me any times.  Ever since I discovered this I try to keep an extra small salad at work with me just for this reason.  Vegetables really are my go to energy food.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think it would work for you?

Sweet and Savory Brussels Sprouts

5 Nov

My Aunt and Uncle introduced Jacob and I to brussels sprouts a few years back and ever since then it’s been a favorite veggie of ours.  Brussels sprouts are part of the Brassica family, along with broccoli and cabbage.  They provide a superior amount of vitamin K and C, and make a great addition to any high energy meal.

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My preparation no where compares to how delicious their brussels sprouts are.  They just have the magic touch, but I think I’ve come up with a tasty and quick dish that would even work great along a Thanksgiving meal.

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I incorporated pomegranates into this dish for a touch of sweetness.  If you aren’t sure how to open and de-seed a pomegranate easily, check out my how-to.

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Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Bacon

makes 3-4 side dish servings

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups brussels sprouts (about 1.5 lb), cleaned and quartered
  • 2 slices bacon (either maple or pepper works well), cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt and pepper depending on preference

Directions

1.  Begin by cooking the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

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2.  Once the bacon is almost all browned add the brussels sprouts.  Cook and stir at least once a minute.  When most of the brussels sprouts have browned a little bit and are softened (about 5-7 minutes), pour in to pomegranates and pecans.  Add salt and pepper then as well.

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3.  Cook the entire mixture for another 2-3 minutes.  Taste a brussels sprout to make sure it is done, then plate up.

I served this side along with Cranberry Pulled Pork in Sweet Squash Boats.  It was like eating an early Thanksgiving and that was a-okay with me.

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Coming up: another 10 minute interval workout – major upper body burner.

Check out the core-focused 10 minute interval workout for a quick workout right now.

The Best Waffles

4 Nov

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  When I wake up in the morning I’m usually already hungry and look forward to a warm, comforting breakfast.  I really enjoy oatmeal, quinoa, pancakes, french toast and eggs for breakfast, but for some reason thought waffles just took to much time.

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Not sure where that thought came from because it seems to take less time than pancakes.  The nice thing about making waffles is that once you pour the batter into the waffle maker it does the work for you.  I don’t have to keep a close eye on it and once the light changes it’s cooked perfectly.

This recipe for whole grain cottage cheese waffles is similar to my butternut squash cottage cheese pancakes, but a more basic recipe.  It’s a good base to start with if you want to add in variations.

Jacob has even said these are the best waffles he’s ever had!  I’ve made them at least once or twice a week for the past 3 weeks.  The extra waffles hold up well in the fridge.  It’s nice making a big batch and having waffles ready in the fridge.

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The Best Whole Grain Cottage Cheese Waffles

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/4 cup whole wheat pasty flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • optional: 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Turn your waffle iron on and begin to heat it up while you make the batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a blender combine the eggs, cottage cheese, milk and vanilla (plus optional maple syrup).  Blend until smooth and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Once the waffle iron is ready,coat it generously with olive oil spray.  Pour the batter into iron (about 1 cup batter) and cook until your waffle iron lights up as done.  Repeat with remaining batter for 4 waffles.

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I had my waffles with some quick homemade cinnamon applesauce and almond butter, but you can top them with whatever you enjoy.

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Quick Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce 

makes 1-2 waffle topping servings , depending on the side of your apple

Ingredients

  • 1  apple, finely chopped with the skin left on
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp water
  • optional: honey or sweetener

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except the sweetener in a microwave safe bowl. 
  2. Cook on high for 60-90 seconds, or until the apples are completely soft.
  3. Mash with a fork or potato masher until it reaches you desired consistency.  Taste and add sweetener if you’d like.

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Pomegranate and Peanut Smoothie

3 Nov

Did you join in on this week’s mini-challenge: kitchen lifts?  It takes less than a minute of your time each time you go into the kitchen so come on – join in!

After discovering how easy it is to de-seed a pomegranate, I’ve been having fun using the seeds in many recipes.  I’ve also enjoyed just eating them on their own too.  I had fun with this refreshing pomegranate filled afternoon pick up me and loved how simple, quick and pretty it was too.

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I finally made the trip to Trader Joes to pick up some peanut flour.  I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else and really wanted to give it a try.  It’s lower in fat and higher in protein than regular peanuts, plus it gives that peanut butter-y taste to my smoothie that I love.

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Pomegranate and Peanut Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup peanut flour
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, diced
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • optional: extra pomegranate seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Pour the milk, peanut flour and pomegranate seeds into a blender.  Blend until smooth and combined.
  2. Add the frozen banana and ice cubes.  Blend for 1-2 more minutes until fluffy and frothy.  Pour into a glass or mug and top with extra seeds.

Cranberry Pulled Pork in Sweet Squash Boats

2 Nov

What’s better than coming home to a meal that has been simmering away all day?  Especially one that took about 3 minutes to throw together in the morning.

…..

Nothing right? 

Right.

When I saw the recipe for Cranberry Pork Roast I knew I had to make it.  I have a thing for pulled pork recipes.  It’s one of my favorite meats to have as left overs too.  Pulled pork is versatile, always delicious and oh so tender when made in a crockpot.

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Cranberry Pulled Pork adapted from PreventionRD

about 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb pork loin, fat trimmed off
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup  raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a large plastic zipper bag, put dry spices and cornstarch and add meat. Shake to coat. Put contents into your slow cooker.
  2. Mix together cranberries, sucanat, raisins, water and lemon juice.  Pour on top of the pork.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for about 4. The longer you cook the meat, the more tender it will be.  Shred the pork with 2 fork in the slow cooker once done.

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Sweet Squash Boats

for 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 delicata squash
  • olive oil spray
  • sea salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice squash length wise and remove all seeds and strings.  Place on a baking sheet, flesh side up.  Coat with olive oil and sprinkle on sea salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until flesh is extremely tender.

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Top your sweet squash boat with cranberry pulled pork and a side of delicious sweet and savory Brussels sprouts (recipe coming soon) and you’ve got a filling, comforting fall meal.