Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Greek Turkey Meatball Gyros

I don't know if you've ever had an authentic Greek Gyro, but they're AH-mazing.  I'm a really big fan of Greek food, it's very acidic and flavorful with tons of herbs and spices.

They're actually not all that unhealthy as they are, but you want to make sure you don't get a ton of salt and the pitas that you get at restaurants can be thick and chewy.  (And so yummy).  In my opinion, especially when you're watching what you eat or how much you spend, it's always a better option to make it at home.  These meatball gyros are FULL of flavor, and surprisingly easy to put together.   There are a few components, but you can use store bought items, or just leave some out and make it your own!

I started with the pickled onions.  If you've never had pickled onions, GET ON IT.  They are SO easy to make, and add such bold flavor to dishes along with a nice crunch. They also last forever in the fridge.  I used a recipe that I found online after searching on my phone, and I cannot for the life of me find it now.  I wish I could, so I could give the author credit but here's what I did:

Pickled Onions: 

1 large onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp pink sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp honey

Place the sliced onions in a mason jar.  Heat the rest of the ingredients, just to a boil on the stove and pour over the onions.  I pushed the onions down to make sure they're in the brine.  Refrigerate and allow to rest for at least 24 hours.

(Now, pickled onions are life and SO good on these gyros but you don't need 'em.)

The second component was the tzatziki. It's a delightfully cool, refreshing, tangy sauce that makes gyros more then just a heavy sandwich.  You can use store bought if you have a favorite but it's delicious and better for you if you make it yourself.

Homemade Tzatziki

Two cups Greek Yogurt  (I like Fage)
2 garlic cloves FINELY minced or mashed
1 large cucumber
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh parsley

Peel the cucumber, slice in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.  Place a paper towel in a large bowl, grate cucumber into a the bowl, or run through a food processor and pulse a few times til it's nice and chopped up and place on top of the paper towel (you want to try to get most of the liquid out).

Add Greek Yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, dill and parsley to a bowl.  Add the grated cucumber and stir to combine.  Refrigerate.

Now, for the meatballs.  They're not unlike my usual recipe for turkey meatballs but with a few twists.

Greek Turkey Meatballs

One lb. ground turkey (94% fat free)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place a piece of parchment paper or tin foil on a rimmed baking sheet.  Stir all ingredients to combine.  Form into about 1/8-1/4 cup sized balls and drop onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes. (Broil for the last minute to get them nice and brown on top).

Those are all the components, now for the assembly.  I use these amazing pita breads from Joseph's.  They're made with oat bran, flax and whole wheat.  Only 60 calories, and 8 grams of carbs for the WHOLE THING!  I warmed them up over the toaster, flipped on both sides for about a minute and placed on a plate.  On goes the meatballs, then the tzatziki, then some shredded lettuce and those amazing pickled onions!

It's a great summer dish, and a great low calorie option! I hope you enjoy it!
(I served with zucchini chips, here's the recipe:

Tips:  Make these with lamb!  Or you can grill up some delicious marinated chicken!  Go nuts!

(21 Day Fixers:  For the gyro, I counted 4 small meatballs for a red, the pita was 1 yellow (if you use a different brand, I would cut it in half and use it that way for 1 yellow or just count 2).  Green for the lettuce, and red for the tzatziki. I didn't count the feta because I used 1 blue for the entire pound of turkey!)

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Lemony Quinoa and Kale Salad

Barbecue Season has arrived my friends!!!! 

Obviously everyone tends to appreciate the more "meaty" aspects of a barbecue.  The kebabs, steaks, hot dogs, burgers, veggie dogs, etc...drool, drool, drool. 

I don't think everyone appreciates the accompaniment of a beautiful salad.  This Kale and Quinoa salad is absolutely perfect on a hot summer day! Although I'm not one to talk smack about some yummy, creamy, mayonaisy potato salad,  this is a much better alternative.  Tons of flavor, nice and refreshing, and full of superfoods!  Kale is loaded with antioxidants, minerals and nutrients and quinoa is full of protein and provides energy! 

Ditch the mayo, and try this salad at your next barbecue.  It's so flavorful, you won't even miss it! 

Lemony Kale and Quinoa Salad

Lemon Vinaigrette: 

3 lemons, juiced 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
3 tbsp dijon mustard 
3 tbsp honey 
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil 
Sprinkle sea salt and pepper 

Mix together the lemon juice, garlic, dijon and honey.  Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking the mixture rapidly until it becomes thicker and creamier.  You may not need the whole 1/2 cup, use your best judgement.  You can also add or subtract some honey or dijon, make the taste work for you.   Once it's combined, place in the refrigerator to chill. 

For the Salad: 

1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces.  Or half large bag of pre-cut kale.  (You want about 6-7 cups) 
2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa 
4 radishes, sliced thin 
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin 
1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced thin 
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans. (to toast, add to a hot pan and keep moving until they're brown). 

In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients.  Add half the vinaigrette at first, and mix together with your hands.  Really massage the dressing into the kale, the citrus in the vinaigrette will soak into the greens and make them more tender.  Once it's all combined, taste test and add more vinaigrette if needed.  


(21 Day Fixers- The salad itself is green, the dressing is orange, and the nuts are blue). 

Tips:  Go crazy!  Add halved grapes, pine nuts, sprouts, dried fruit, avocado, etc.  The dressing is versatile and will taste good with just about anything. 

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

It's not really a big secret that I don't come up with a lot of dessert recipes. 

Don't get me wrong, sweets are my life but I don't usually have a knack for how things work, because baking is more scientific then cooking.  Baking powder, baking soda, flour, etc.  There need to be precise measurements and ain't nobody got time for that.  I'll slap some peanut butter on a piece of Ezekiel bread and add a few chocolate chips and some honey in a pinch.  Or I'll refer to Skinnytaste because that lady is a freakin' genius.  (See: Black Bean Brownies). 

This cake just sort of got thrown together on an evening that I was truly in the mood for chocolate chips and oats (seriously...that happened.) 

I hope you'll check it out, you won't be sorry! 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake 

1/2 banana-mashed 
2 tsp peanut butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 tsp honey
2 tbsp almond milk 

1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp whole wheat flour 
1/4 tsp baking powder 
1/4-1/2 cup of oats (I used gluten free rolled oats, about 1/2 cup).

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mash the banana and beat together with the wet ingredients.

In a separate bowl, add 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tbsp whole wheat flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4-1/2 cup oats. Mix together and add to wet ingredients, beat to combine.

Stir in 2 tsp dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut, pecans.

Pour into a small ramekin sprayed with coconut oil and bake 350 for 30 minutes. 

Serve hot, room temperature, or cold! Trust me, it's delicious any way! Enjoy!

(21 Day Fixers- I ate half and counted 1 yellow, 1 yellow treat, 1/2 purple, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 tsp.) 

Tip- Use what you like! Leave out the chocolate chips and use dried fruit, nuts, Go nuts! 

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Easy Sesame Garlic Stir Fry

Super good.

A little spicy, a little salty, a little crunchy, YUM.

I think I can speak for most people when I say that Chinese Food ROCKS.  I could seriously eat it every day.  (Big up to Winner in Mt. Pocono!) But realistically, who can do it?  Besides it being loaded with grease, fat, and MSG, there is also a crap ton of sodium in chinese cooking.  I still hold to treating yourself now and again, but when you really want to take the edge off, this is a great recipe to go to.

I start by marinating the chicken.  This gives it so much flavor, and helps it keep from drying out.

What you'll need:

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Sriracha sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vineger (lime juice is okay too)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic.
1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients together, and pour over chicken in a ziploc or bowl with a tight fitting lid.  Add some water to help cover the chicken if you need to.  I let it marinate overnight, but at least an hour is okay too.

What you'll need next:

A large wok or non-stick frying pan
6 cups of vegetables (I used red pepper, broccoli, zucchini)
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chipped garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil

Now, take the chicken from the marinade (DO NOT THROW AWAY- set it to the side) and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Add 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil to the hot pan, and add the chicken.  Brown on all sides, and remove from the pan and set to the side.  Lower the heat, and add garlic and ginger and allow to become fragrant and softened.  Add vegetables to the pan, pour the remaining marinade over the top and cover.  Stir occasionally, allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are at your desired level of doneness (nice word, huh?).  Mix the chicken back in and serve!
(You can add more oil to the pan if you need to, or add more soy if it dries out. I try to be minimal).


(21 Day Fixers- I served with brown rice, so my portion in the end was 2 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 tsp).

Tip-Replace the chicken in this recipe with any protein you like!  Beef strips, shrimp, or a meaty fish.  If you're marinating shrimp or fish, don't let it go longer then 30 minutes.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dijon Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Side dish, anyone?

I LOVE POTATOES.  I don't think I'm alone in that, either.  When you're having a delicious and warm meal, potatoes always round everything out beautifully.

I've made many different kinds of potatoes, and I've made them all in very different ways.  This recipe was a first in many ways for me, the first time I've mixed sweet potatoes with regular potatoes (I just didn't have enough of each alone so I mixed.  Not a very exciting reason).  The other is my use of the herb tarragon.  Because of it's pungent, licorice aroma it's one of the herbs I've used fairly infrequently in my life of cooking.

I was so, so wrong.

I served these delicious, crispy, garlicky little bites with a hearty Spiced Pork Tenderloin* and simple steamed green beans.

Dijon Garlic Roasted Potatoes:


3 medium russet potatoes, cleaned and rinsed
3 medium sweet potatoes, cleaned and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
2 tsp olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.  Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add garlic, herbs, mustard and olive oil.  Toss to coat.

Lay in a single layer on your baking sheet.   Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

*Spiced Pork Tenderloin 

2 tsp each of the following:

Chili powder, cumin, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder
Pork tenderloin

Clean and try tenderloin.  Rub with spices.  Heat a pan to medium heat and sear to brown on all sides.  Once browned, transfer and add to the oven with potatoes at 400 for about 30 minutes.  You can put 1/2 cup chicken broth in with it to keep it moist.

Please enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Coconut Chicken with Pineapple Rice and Spicy Orange Maple Glaze

Allow me to transport you to the Islands, won't you?  The warm summer breeze, blue water, soft sand under your fe....

Alright, chances are pretty high that it's cold as shit where you are and the chicken won't change that but trust me when you I tell's REALLY good anyway.

Also, it's not as hard it sounds.  My step by step photos didn't turn out (probably due to the fact that I didn't TAKE any step by step photos...lay off me). But I'll still walk you through it.

What you'll need-

3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup almond flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 egg whites
1-2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder.
1 tsp coconut oil
2 oranges (zested and juiced)
1 clove garlic,minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup dry brown rice
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
2 cups no sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped pineapple.

Fine, now that it's all typed out it seems like a lot.  Stick with it, the finished product is 100% worth it, ESPECIALLY that spicy sauce, mmmm.

Ok, so to start.  Preheat your oven to 375.

Now, get your rice, pineapple, chicken broth, ginger and garlic into your rice cooker or on your stovetop.  (Just follow the package directions and when you put the rice in, add your garlic, ginger and pineapple with it).

For the chicken- 

On one plate, mix the flour, garlic, onion and chili powder together.  In a bowl, add the egg whites and whisk with some water.  On a third plate, add the coconut flakes.  In an assembly line, dip the chicken in flour to coat, dip in the egg whites and coat with the coconut.  Place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or a roasting pan with a rack.  Once all the chicken in coated and on the cookie sheet or pan, spray with a little bit of coconut oil spray and place in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking,

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the coconut oil and add the garlic.  Allow to soften for a few minute (don't brown).  Then add the juice and zest of the oranges, the maple syrup and the red pepper flakes.  Allow the sauce to thicken on medium heat, until it's reduced.  Don't walk away from it, or it'll burn! If it gets too thick, splash some water or chicken broth into it.   Cover and set aside until the chicken and rice are finished.

Voila!  I know it's not the simplest of recipes but on a night you'd like to try something different or you're feeling tropical, go for this.  It's a really wonderful dish!

I hope you enjoy it!

Tips- Shrimp, yo!  Ditch the chicken and dip the shrimp!

21 Day Fixers- (3 tenders counts as 1 red, 1 orange.  1 yellow container of rice is 1 yellow, 1/4 purple.  The orange sauce is a treat, honestly. Between the syrup, the reduced orange juice, etc. it's going to be super sugary and sweet. If you want to count it, I'd count as 1 tsp).  This count isn't an exact science, but the closest I could figure it!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Crock Pot- Pot Roast

Pot roast is definitely one of my rediscovered favorites.  I can't say I appreciated it much as a child, but I definitely do now.  It's soft and tender and has SO MUCH FLAVOR.  I've been working on using my Crock Pot more, so I decided to try this roast using that method!

What you'll need:

1.5-2 lbs. beef shoulder or butt (I got a nice lean shoulder cut)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
2 celergy stalked, cut into pieces
1 small onion, sliced
A few garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 cups no sodium added beef broth (or no sodium beef bouillon with 3 cups water)
A sprinkle of sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
Thyme and Rosemary (I used a few sprigs of each)
1 bay leaf

Equipment you'll need

Crock Pot
A large pan

Okay, so.  Super easy.  Turn your crock pot to high and toss your veggies in while your pan comes to medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil to the pan and let it heat up.

 Dish your flour onto a large plate and coat your roast.  Add it to the hot pan and brown on all sides. (Save the flour)

Once the meat is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan.  If it looks oily you can pat it dry with some paper towels.  Then place the meat on top of your veggies.  Add the fresh herbs, bay leaf, wine and broth (you want to ALMOST cover the meat.  Use less or more then I suggested if you need to).  Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, cover the crock pot and let it go for 8 hours.

And that's almost it.  Once the roast is done, you can just remove the meat and eat it as it is with the veggies over some mashed potatoes (just try to fish out the stems from the herbs).  

If you want a thicker gravy, here's what I do. 

About an hour before I'm ready to serve, I remove the meat from the crock pot and set it aside.  Using a slotted spoon, I remove all the veggies and throw out any stems from the herbs and the bay leaf. 

Then I strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.  Add the liquid back into the crock pot and add one of two things. 1.) A few tbsp of your reserved flour mixed with a cup of water. or 2.) A tbsp of corn starch mixed with some cold water.  Then I whisk the mixture into the cooking liquid, add the meat and veggies back in and allow to finish cooking without the lid. 

Now, that's really it.  You can eat this with some yummy whole grain egg noodles, some mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes like I did.  

For the full recipe without photos, please see below. 

Tip- Don't feel like dirtying a pan and searing the meat?  Don't worry about it, just add all your ingredients to the crock pot, put the lid on and flip it to high.  I would let it go another hour, just to be safe. 

21 Day Fixers- I measured the meat into my red container, the veggies into my green and the sweet potatoes into the yellow.  You can include a tsp for the initial sear, but I don't think there was enough flour in the whole thing to add another yellow. 

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Crock Pot Pork Roast: 

1.5-2 lb. beef shoulder roast 
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
6 carrots, peeled and cut 
2 celery stalks, cut 
1 small onion, sliced 
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups no sodium beef stock
1/2 cup red wine (optional) 
A few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
1 bay leaf 

Turn crock pot to high and add vegetables.  In a pan, heat the tbsp of olive oil.  Coat roast in flour, and add to the hot pan.  Sear to brown on all sides.  Remove from the pan (pat oil off if you want to) and add to the crock pot.  Add herbs, stock and wine. Cover and allow to cook on high for 8 hours. 

1 hour before serving, remove the meat from the crock pot and set aside.  Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables (throwing away stems from the herbs and bay leaf) and set aside.  Pour the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.  Add the liquid back into the crock pot, along with 2 tbsp flour mixed well with 1 cup of water OR 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with a few tbsp cold water.  Mix well, add meat and veggies back in.  Allow to cook another hour with the lid off the crock pot. 

Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or mashed sweet potatoes!