Granola Bars for New Parents

by Laura

We have a lot of friends right now who are new parents or expecting and I always struggle to think of a thoughtful gift to take when the new baby arrives. I think you can't go wrong with food dropped on the doorstep. Katherine tipped me off to these granola bars from Smitten Kitchen a while back, and it has been my go-to for new parents ever since. They are delicious and can be a great snack or breakfast, they are relatively healthy and there are infinite variations depending on personal taste and what you have on hand.

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups oats

1/3 cup oats ground in food processor (can also use oat flour)

2/3 granulated sugar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

dash of cinnamon

2 cups mixed nuts (I like pecans best, but have used combinations of walnuts, pecans and cashews and all are delicious)

1/2 cup dried fruit (I have used raisins, craisins and a combination of the two. Want to try dried mango next!)

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup flax meal 

1/3 cup peanut butter (softened in microwave for 30-45 seconds)

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare an 8" x 8" glass pan with parchment paper so it hangs off the sides (makes it easy to pop out after cooking!). Spray pan with non-stick spray. 

Mix together both oats, sugar, salt, nuts, fruit, coconut and flax meal in a large bowl. Note that you can use varying proportions of the fruit/nut/coconut concoction depending on your taste (e.g. leave out all the fruit, add chocolate chips, etc.). In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and then combine with the dry ingredients. Spread the mixture into prepared pan (it comes up almost all the way to the top of the pan - don't worry!). Cook for 30 minutes or until they are golden on top and around the edges. Let cool and then cut into squares.

Taste one just to make sure they are good before delivering to friends -- it is the right thing to do!

 

 

Sesame Zucchini Noodles with Chicken

by Laura

I know you have all been checking the blog eagerly every day for the last three plus months hoping there would be something new, and I am sorry we've kept you waiting so long! Katherine had a baby, I got married, and Elissa continues to be a super star mom, lawyer, etc. But we will be better!

After spending the last month or so indulging at every possible occasion, I wanted to make something healthy to snack on and take for lunch this week. I added some grilled chicken to this recipe to make it a bit more substantial but it would be good on its own too! I also like that it can be served hot or cold, which is especially nice given our current heat wave.

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Ingredients

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

5 medium-large zucchini 

1 tsp olive oil

Dressing

Pack em in there - they will get smaller!!

Pack em in there - they will get smaller!!

2 tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy but smooth works too) - heated in the microwave for 20 seconds

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce (I like this one)

1 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp sesame seeds

Preheat a grill on medium high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Grill on each side for about 5 minutes until cooked through. Set aside. Using a spiralizer (I have this one and it works great) make zucchini noodles. Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook noodles for 3-4 minutes. You will notice the zucchini releases a lot of water as it cooks and you definitely want to drain them before adding them to the dressing!

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the peanut butter for about 20 seconds so it combines well with the rest of the dressing ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients to the peanut butter and whisk to combine. Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the noodles in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and combine well. Top with sesame seeds. You can eat it right away or refrigerate and eat it cold.




Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

by Laura

We can all agree that the main reason brussels sprouts have surged in popularity is that we figured out that if you fry them or add bacon they taste way better. Steamed brussels sprouts are the worst. And I never would have thought I'd like them raw but this salad has become one of my favorites that is in my regular rotation. As with most salads, improvisation is encouraged based on what you have in the fridge and personal preference. Adapted from Food52.

1 bag shaved brussels sprouts (if you are an over achiever and want to shred them yourself, it is about 3 cups)

1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion

1/3 cup almonds, sliced and toasted

1 avocado

1/3 cup grated pecorino

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the red onion in cold water for about 15 minutes or however long it takes you to assemble everything else. Juice your lemon (you may need 2 depending on size and juiciness) into a jar or bowl. Add honey and mustard in same bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Combine brussels sprouts, almonds (any nut will do!), avocado, red onion and the pecorino. Shake up or whisk the dressing one more time before drizzling over the salad and serve immediately.

Butternut Squash "Cream" Sauce

by Laura

This is a great meal when you are looking for something comforting but not trying to eat a 1000 calorie, cream-laden bowl of pasta. The pureed butternut squash makes the sauce creamy without adding any dairy and I used Barilla Plus pasta, which has added fiber and protein (and tastes much better than whole wheat pasta in my opinion!). It is also great leftover for lunch!

Served with roasted brussels sprouts and balsamic

Served with roasted brussels sprouts and balsamic

Sausage, Spinach and Butternut Squash Pasta

Recipe base from Skinny Taste

8 oz. pasta (I used penne)

4-5 links of spicy italian turkey sausage (chicken or pork would work too!)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopping red onion

2 cloves garlic minced

1 lb butternut squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (the pre-cut and peeled kind at the grocery store works great)

2 cups baby spinach

3 tbsp grated parmesan

5-7 sage leaves thinly sliced

Red pepper flakes to taste

Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Remove the casing from the sausage and cook sausage until browned through, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. While sausage is cooking, boil a large pot of water and cook the butternut squash until soft enough to easily stick a fork in it - about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the squash and place in a blender, keeping the water boiling for the pasta. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. If you can remember (I never do!!) reserve one cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta. Season the squash with salt and pepper and then puree it. I needed some water to get the squash to actually puree, so add a little if you need it. Remove sausage once cooked through and set aside. In the same pan, add the oil and cook onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pureed butternut squash, spinach and parmesan into the pan and stir until spinach is wilted. Add sage and stir again. Add sausage and pasta and combine until the whole pan of is heated through. I topped mine with some red pepper flakes and another sprinkle of parmesan. Enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Gluten Free Chicken Marinade

by Laura

If you know me well - or if you have ever shared a meal with me - you probably know that I am a big fan of gluten (or rather all the delicious things that happen to contain it). A number of friends have recently either been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity or are trying to be skinnier and blame gluten.

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I tend to have anxiety when I am in charge of cooking and there is a gluten free person in the mix, which is never really necessary since there are plenty of delicious meals that don't have it. I found this recipe by Googling "gluten free chicken marinade"  when a big group of college friends rented a house in Calistoga, one of whom has been recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. (For the record, this friend has a legitimate Gluten allergy as evidenced by her giving up beer - no one used to love Coors Light like J. Gal!)

This recipe is so simple and really delicious--I have already made it again for a non-gluten free people (but with a side of toast this time, obviously). It is great as tacos, over a salad or just on its own.

Adapted from Gluten Free Anna

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders

1/3 cup olive oil

Juice of 4 limes

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 red onion sliced in wedges (that are big enough to not fall through the grill grates if you're grilling)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Salt and Pepper

Place all ingredients into a large ziplock bag and kind of massage the marinade into the chicken breasts and let sit for 30 minutes to several hours. Preheat grill over medium-high heat and grill until cooked through (about 6 minutes per side depending on how thick your chicken breasts are).


Asian (Mayo-Free!) Slaw

by Laura

I've always wondered how much coleslaw is thrown away on an annual basis since it has to be the most poorly made and unsolicited side dish provided at restaurants. The mayo-drenched, soggy type that has become widely known really is terrible, but I've come across quite a few delicious ones that are fresh and healthy and even make you want to eat cabbage. This is one version I adapted from Dave Lieberman. As with most salads, you can modify this to include any veggies you love or get rid of those you aren't so fond of.

 

Ingredients:

For the slaw:

3 cups cabbage (red, purple or a combination), sliced thin

1 cup shredded carrots

Served on top of and on the side of a salmon burger (salmon marinated in Trader Joe's Soyaki for 20 minutes then grilled for 8 minutes flipping once), with avocado and Sriracha mayo.

Served on top of and on the side of a salmon burger (salmon marinated in Trader Joe's Soyaki for 20 minutes then grilled for 8 minutes flipping once), with avocado and Sriracha mayo.

1 cup sugar snap peas cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal

1/2 cup red onion sliced thin

Sesame seeds sprinkled on top if desired

For the dressing:

1/8 cup soy sauce

Juice of 2 limes

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced or grated

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cous Cous Salad with Peanut Dressing

by Laura

Even though I didn't have a good excuse like an amazing New Zealand vacation, I too have been overindulging lately, so wanted to make a big batch of something relatively healthy that I could take to work for lunch. This is a very filling salad, packed with veggies and whole grains and it also is very tasty if I do say so myself. And the variations are endless! Looking for something gluten free? Sub quinoa for cous cous! Feeding a vegan? Swap out agave for the honey in the dressing. Want more protein? Go crazy and add chicken. And unlike most salads, this one can sit in its dressing for days and doesn't get soggy!

Cous Cous Salad with Peanut Dressing

adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the Salad

3 cups cole slaw mix (purple and green cabbage, shredded carrots)

1 red bell pepper, seeds and core removed, sliced

1 cup whole wheat cous cous (quinoa or rice would work well, too)

2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced (or 1/4 cup chopped red onion)

3/4 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped

For the dressing:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tsp. finely chopped or grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp olive oil

Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste

water to thin as necessary

Before chopping up all of the veggies, cook cous cous to package instructions and allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Place peanut butter and honey in microwave safe bowl and heat for about 20 seconds. Add the remainder of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Add water or other ingredients until dressing is at the desired flavor and consistency. Add half of the dressing to the cous cous then combine cous cous and salad and top with the rest of the dressing.


Teriyaki Salmon

by Laura

As I have written before, I am intimidated by seafood. I've eased my way in, starting with shrimp (but they have legs so they don't really count). I keep reading how salmon is really great for you so decided I should try to weave it into my repertoire. One of the reasons I have been hesitant to cook seafood is that I think, more than other meats, fish needs to be of a very high quality or you are in trouble. I bought this salmon at CostCo and it tasted great (and I have 6 more servings in the freezer).

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Teriyaki Salmon

adapted from Self via Epicurious

Ingredients

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1.25 lbs salmon cut into 4 filets

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger root (I love ginger but if you aren't a fan, you might want to reduce this to 2)

2 tsp sesame oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all marinade ingredients and whisk well. Place salmon on an oven safe baking dish and cover with about half of the marinade. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.  Bake until salmon is cooked through - about 15 minutes for mine (but they were thick so check after 10). Use extra sauce to top rice and vegetables.

Served with over rice with roasted brussels sprouts and mushrooms as suggested by Self

Served with over rice with roasted brussels sprouts and mushrooms as suggested by Self


Green Smoothie

By Katherine

For years, I've been a cereal-and-milk-for-breakfast kind of lady.  But recently, with Sean preaching about the greatness of going paleo, I decided to experiment with reducing the amount of grains I eat every day. A few days a week, I've been trading my cereal for a smoothie.  In the past, I scoffed at a smoothie breakfast - it didn't feel like real food, and I was always hungry again by 10am.  I wanted to put together a smoothie that was healthy (but didn't taste horrible), that had substantial amounts of protein and fiber, and that wasn't full of sugar.  Here is what I came up with: 

Before...

Before...

1/2 cup coconut water

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

2 cups kale leaves, large stems removed

2/3 cup frozen blueberries

1 small banana

1 cup ice

Add all ingredients to blender and pulverize.  Our Blendtec blender on the "smoothie" setting works great (though does make quite a racket in the early mornings when I'm making this - sorry neighbors!).   This makes about 16 oz. of smoothie, which I drink all by myself, but could be shared by two people with lesser breakfast appetites. 

After! 

After! 

 I admit, the color is a little off-putting, but you shouldn't judge a book by its cover! This smoothie fills me up and keeps me going until lunchtime, which is a pretty rare occurrence for me.  Also, it has kale, so I feel totally virtuous.  I usually eyeball the ingredient amounts, and substitute liberally based on what's around (at times, I've used grapes, skim milk, and spinach instead of the blueberries, coconut water, and kale, all with pretty good success).  Please report back if you have any killer smoothie combos!

How to feed a (wonderful) lactose intolerant person

by Laura

Although it is hard for me to believe, there are ways to survive without 30% of your calories coming from dairy products. In fact, there are a lot of really nice people out there who cannot eat cheese, butter, ice cream, etc. It is very sad. But actually, as I learned tonight, it can make you try new recipes that are really delicious and usually a whole lot healthier.

I started out with cauliflower soup* from Smitten Kitchen (only thing I changed was to add bacon!) , followed by rice with Dijon chicken breasts and asparagus baked in the oven with olive oil, garlic and salt. I would recommend both recipes linked above almost exactly as they are and it was doable on a weeknight!

Worried about unadventurous eaters being enthusiastic about cauliflower? Top it with bacon!

Worried about unadventurous eaters being enthusiastic about cauliflower? Top it with bacon!

*Technically, this is not dairy free as there is some Parmesan cheese, but I was told it is dry and most lactose sensitive people can handle a little. You could always remove one or two servings before adding the cheese.

Dijon chicken breasts.

Dijon chicken breasts.

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Easiest Baked Chicken

by Laura

I don't frequent Pinterest that often but one of my go-to weeknight dinners came from a recipe I found there. On Pinterest it was titled, "Melt in your Mouth Chicken" and I have never been able to make it look quite as appealing as it does there, BUT it is easy, healthy and delicious. 

Final product

Final product

I seasoned the chicken with a little salt and pepper before putting the yogurt on.

I seasoned the chicken with a little salt and pepper before putting the yogurt on.

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup Greek yogurt (I've used both 2% and fat free)

1/2 cup Parmesan (plus extra to sprinkle on top) 

1 tablespoon Lawry's seasoning salt

Preheat oven to 400

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Place chicken in glass baking dish. Mix together yogurt, seasoning salt and Parmesan in a medium bowl. Spread over chicken evenly and sprinkle with Parmesan. Place dish in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes until top is golden brown.

 

 

Chile Lime Chicken

by Laura

After indulging for about 10 days nonstop, first in Martha's Vineyard (yay Katherine and Sean!) and then at the 2nd Annual Murray Aronson Labor day weekend at the Desert Ridge Estate, I was excited to make some healthy-ish home-cooked meals. This chile lime chicken was easy, tasty and great as leftovers. I also made a large batch of Mark Bittman's quinoa with corn and black beans.

Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp:

Wash hands thoroughly after this! 

Wash hands thoroughly after this! 

2 1/2 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken breasts

4 serrano chile peppers, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

Fresh lime juice of 2 limes

Zest of 1 lime

1 tsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, mix together peppers, garlic, lime juice, oil and salt. Place chicken in a baking dish and using your hands put half of the marinade under the skin. Pour the remainder over chicken and let it sit for 30 minutes. Roast in oven for about 50 minutes.

Before

Before

After

After

Kale Salad with Pine Nuts, Cranberries and Goat Cheese

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 Dino Kale from Farm Fresh

Dino Kale from Farm Fresh

By Laura

I get a box of fruits and vegetables delivered to my apartment twice a month through Farm Fresh to You. It is a great service and I love that it forces me to try cooking with new vegetables I might never buy at the grocery store. Plus, it is local and seasonal and blah blah blah.

I got a large bunch of kale last week, which I turned into a salad for an Oscar-viewing party. There are countless variations that would also be delicious, but the key (as Elissa taught me) when it comes to raw kale is to massage the leaves with a little bit of olive oil before adding the other elements.

Kale Salad

(adapted from Bon Appétit)

Ingredients

1 large bunch of kale (I used Tuscan/Dino kale but any type would work)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

4 ounces goat cheese (crumbled)

Strip kale leaves from thick stems and place in large bowl. Massage leaves with one tablespoon olive oil for about 3 minutes (the leaves will reduce in size considerably). Sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.

In small bowl combine remaining olive oil, vinegars, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Toss dressing onto kale and add pine nuts, cranberries and goat cheese.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. (kale holds up much better than lettuce when dressed!)

Almost final product (just add goat cheese)

Almost final product (just add goat cheese)