Thursday, October 22, 2015

Parmesan Oat Crusted Chicken

Our clean eating alternative to a fried chicken. Perfect for the whole family!

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)*
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)*
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 thick all over
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop the garlic. Add oats, cheese, salt, paprika, & pepper (also basil, oregano & parsley, if desired, and mix. Pour olive oil in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dip chicken in olive oil, let excess oil drip off, then roll chicken in oat mixture .  Place chicken in large, shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pat the oat mixture into the chicken gently; this helps it make contact with the olive oil to help the coating brown and crisp. If it looks dry, give it a light coating of cooking spray. Bake uncovered for approx. 20-25 minutes until an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from oven, and let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes to allow juices to settle.  These freeze well, even coated with the oats first!
We even loved it served with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce!


  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 6 Tbs. honey (add more if desired)
  • Dash salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper


Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and store in the refrigerator. Use it as a dip, sauce, topping, dressing, or anything!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sweet Kale Salad

Oh my Kale!! Yes, that's right. I was afraid of kale but I decided to try it anyway. I put this salad together in about 10 minutes, and wah-LA!!! Divine. Seriously, even the kiddos loved it!

  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 4 cups packed)
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    Poppyseed Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice of
  • 1/2 small orange, juice of
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garlic or onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Add kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and endive (if using), cranberries to a large salad bowl. Toast pumpkin seeds in a small skillet on low-medium heat until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Stir frequently and watch closely not to burn. Transfer to a salad bowl.
  2. In a small bowl or salad dressing shaker, add Poppyseed Dressing ingredients and whisk or shake to combine. Pour over salad, gently stir and serve.
    Storage Instructions:
    Refrigerate assembled salad for up to 24 hours. Dressing can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and added to salad as needed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crockpot applesauce

This time of year, apples are delicious and why not make up a batch of homemade applesauce. Your kids will love it and your house will smell amazing! Super simple too!

**any apples will work, but this is the combo I prefer:

 favorite blend.


2 Honey Crisp apples5 Golden Delicious apples7 Gala apples2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Cut the apples into quarters and slice out the pieces of core in each one. Leaving the peels on or off is your choice. If leaving them on, be sure to wash the apples very well (even if buying organic). If you want a chunkier applesauce, I'd suggest peeling all the apples so you can leave the sauce with texture and not get bits of peel all over.

In a large, oval slow cooker (about 7- to 8-quarts), toss the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Blend with a handheld immersion blender or by scooping the applesauce into a blender (may need to do this in batches - take care since hot foods expand in a blender so only fill it half full).

Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. This will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for a week or two and can be frozen for a couple of months

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Crockpot Pulled Pork Tacos

You know the feeling. You’re in the car on the way home from work and you start thinking about dinner… and how the thought of cooking a meal from scratch sounds like too much work. And there’s the Chipotle you are just about to pass by and wouldn’t that be so much easier than cooking something at home tonight…

Not if you have pulled pork cooking in your slow cooker, just waiting for you to arrive home and assemble the most delicious tacos you have ever had in a mere 15 minutes! Healthier, tastier, cheaper, and even more satisfying than picking up Chipotle. (Trust me.)

*I made a 6 lb pork shoulder because frankly, that was the smallest my grocery store had! This made enough for 3 meals for four people (8 tacos/meal). To freeze the leftovers, put the pulled pork in an airtight container and cover with the juices from the slow cooker (there will be a lot of them!). When ready to eat, defrost and drain the liquid.

Juicy pulled pork cooks to perfection in the slow cooker. Then, it's fried until crispy and topped with fixings in a toasted corn tortilla. Authentic, easy, and fresh!
  • For the pulled pork:
  • 2-3 pound pork shoulder*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • For the tacos:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • fixings (chopped cilantro, chopped onion, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, avocado, etc.)
  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder.
  2. Mix together the cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Rub pork with olive oil until coated, then rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Place in slow cooker.
  4. Mix together the onion, jalapeno, garlic, and orange zest. Spread on top of the pork.
  5. Squeeze the orange juice on top of the pork and place the orange rinds in the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  7. When the pork is done cooking, take the meat out (careful- it will be very fall-apart tender!) and place on a large platter or dish. Pull meat apart with two forks.
  8. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and fry the pork until crispy.
  9. Meanwhile, toast corn tortillas over gas burners, in the oven, or in a skillet.
  10. Add pork to tortillas and top with fixings.
*Pork shoulder is also called a picnic cut or a Boston butt. I don't know why. Also, I used a 6 pound shoulder and saved enough leftovers in my freezer for two meals. If you want to freeze, put the meat in an airtight container and top with the juices from the slow cooker. Defrost and drain when ready to use!

Crockpot Mexican Stuffed Peppers

These Crock Pot Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers are easy and delicious, and you don’t need to turn on the stove or the oven to prepare them. Just chop and mix and they are ready to go. This is perfect because, you do not need to brown the ground beef ahead of time. When I use my slow cooker, I am always looking for a way to avoid precooking. The slow cooker insert takes up enough room in the dishwasher, I don’t want another pan in there too!

Finely dice 1/2 of a yellow onion. Pour a cup of prepared enchilada sauce into a heat proof measuring cup and add diced onion. Heat the onion/enchilada sauce mixture in the microwave for about 5 minutes to soften onions. I usually cover mine with a paper towel to avoid splatters.
Cut the tops off of four bell peppers, I use yellow, red or orange as the green bell peppers are not as sweet. Remove stems and seeds and dice the tops of the bell peppers.
Pour 1/3 of a cup of water into the bottom of the crock pot and nestle bell peppers in.

In a large mixing bowl, combine one pound of uncooked ground beef, onion/enchilada sauce mixture, diced bell peppers, 1 cup of shredded jack cheese, 3/4 cup of cooked mexican style rice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Fill bell peppers with ground beef mixture and top with more cheese. Don’t forget that you need to have the water at the bottom of the crock pot.

Cook on low for about 6 hours.

The bell peppers are soft, but not too soft, and the filling is so flavorful. I kept my bell peppers kid friendly, but you can bump up the flavor by adding a little canned chipotle chile in adobo if you want more spice!
We topped ours with a little bit of plain greek yogurt and green onion, and had a simple salad on the side.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours

4 bell peppers
1 pound of 85 percent lean ground beef
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1 cup of canned enchilada sauce
1 1/4 cup of shredded jack cheese
3/4 cup of cooked (leftover) mexican rice
salt and pepper
sour cream and diced green onion for toppings

1. Finely dice a 1/2 of a yellow onion. Pour a cup of prepared enchilada sauce into a heat proof measuring cup and add diced onion. Heat the onion/enchilada sauce mixture in the microwave for about 5 minutes to soften onions.
2. Cut the tops off of four bell peppers. Remove stems and seeds and dice the tops of the bell peppers.
3. Pour 1/3 of a cup of water into the bottom of the crock pot and nestle bell peppers in.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine one pound of uncooked ground beef, onion/enchilada sauce mixture, diced bell peppers, 1 cup of shredded jack cheese, 3/4 cup of cooked rice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
5. Fill bell peppers with ground beef mixture and top with more cheese.
6. Cook on low for about 6 hours. You can test mixture with meat thermometer for doneness. It should be cooked to 160 degrees.
Note: You must used pre-cooked rice. I used leftover mexican rice,  but you can also use cooked white rice. Just bump up your seasoning so that the mixture is not too bland. You can add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle in adobo. Whatever sounds good to you!

Clean eating while traveling

Speaking of travel, I’ve been receiving lots of requests recently from my health coaching clients and readers for a post about how to eat clean when away from home. I figured that if they’re wondering, some of you might be as well. So today, I’m giving you a peek into how I maintain my healthy eating regime while away from my own kitchen, as well as some tips to help you to do the same.

#1 Prep and Packing 
Again, it probably won’t shock you that I think about packing snacks before a single article of clothing goes into my suitcase. After years of traveling to and from my home in the Middle East each summer, I’ve become good at knowing which foods sit well in my stomach on plane rides and which ones cause problems. On any given flight, you’ll likely find these things in my hand luggage:

  • apples
  • baby carrots
  • sliced cucumbers, celery, and bell peppers
  • hummus
  • dried fruit
  • whole grain crackers
  • Simply Bars (dairy free, gluten free, vegan, non GMO, kosher protein bars) and/or Quest bars (no added sweeteners, gluten free, whey-based protein bars)
  • gum (not great for digestion but good for ear soreness when the plane takes off and lands)

  • #2 Scope Out the Surroundings

    The first thing I do once I find out I’m going to be visiting a new city is look for healthy food options near where I’ll be staying. (I know, I know – most regular people would probably look for other fun attractions but this is a foodie whose blog you’re reading!) Thanks to Google, food blogs, and restaurant review sites like UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, and Trip Advisorit’s really easy to find healthy places to eat before you arrive. But it’s not just restaurants I look for. I also map out grocery stores nearby so that I can stock up on fresh items like produce and yogurt when I arrive, and keep them in my hotel fridge.

    #3 The Grocery Store
    After getting settled in at my destination, I stock up on a few groceries at the nearest grocery store. If your hotel room has a fridge, clear it out and re-stock it with some of the following items:
    • pre-chopped veggies
    • fruit
    • Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt if necessary)
    • hummus
    • salsa
    • tuna pouches
    • pre-cooked chicken strips (look for organic with no funny ingredients – can be an expensive option, but if you really don’t want to spend much money on eating out in restaurants, it’s important to have a good source of protein!)
     If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods nearby, or another grocery store that has pre-made salads or a salad bar, you can package up a few things for yourself and store those in your fridge as well. Not having access to a cutting board and knife isn’t a good excuse for skipping your greens!

    #4 Always Eat Breakfast
    Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Always start your day with a healthy breakfast. Eating a breakfast that includes whole grains, protein and nutrient-rich dairy foods gives you a boost of energy and jump-starts your metabolism. Your metabolism slows while you sleep because your body is not burning energy the same way it does when you are awake and active. Avoid the hotel breakfast buffet and stay away from the fast food places for breakfast. Locate a supermarket or health food store near your hotel or motel and stock up the mini-refrigerator with some low-fat milk and yogurt, fresh fruit and whole grains like granola. Breakfast shake drinks can also be a good choice, especially if you don’t have a refrigerator in your room, or if you are running late for an activity. Add some flavor and texture to your morning low-fat yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, such as blueberries. If you have to eat out for breakfast, choose a whole grain cereal with low-fat milk or a whole grain bagel.

    #5 Drink Up
    Stay hydrated, and make sure you take in enough fluids. The stale air circulating in airports makes me super dehydrated, so I always bring an empty shaker bottle with me through security to fill up at the drinking fountain before boarding my flight. I pack all my travel day meals in my carry-on so I'm set in case of any delays.

    #6 Eat a treat a day
    You’re on vacation, so of course you want to indulge. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you place limits on it. By committing to a single decadent treat per day, you won’t feel as though you missed out, nor will you feel uncomfortable by the end of the trip.

    Of course, nutrition goes hand in hand with fitness. While I don’t normally stress about workouts when I’m traveling (unless of course I’m doing a race!) I aim to make my holidays as active as possible. This typically means doing a lot of exploring by foot, or using a hotel gym if I happen to be staying in a hotel. 

    Wednesday, October 7, 2015

    Slow Cooker Chili Verde

    Perfect for a chilly, fall day. This chili recipe is a family favorite. It not only smells amazing, but its actually good for you!!
    Let me know what you think!
    • 2 lbs. Tomatillos, husks removed
    • 2 Poblano or Anaheim Peppers
    • 2 T. Olive Oil
    • 3 lb. Pork Shoulder Roast, cut into 1" cubes
    • 2 Yellow Onions, cut into thick chunks
    • 5 Garlic Cloves, chopped
    • 1 t. Oregano
    • 1 T. Cumin
    • ½ t. Paprika
    • ½ t. Chili Powder
    • 2 t. Coarse Real Salt
    • 1 bunch Cilantro, bottom stems cut off
    • 4 oz. Can Green Chilis
    • 2½ C. Chicken Broth
    • Lime wedges, to garnish
    • Avocado Slices, to garnish
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the tomatillos(halve them if they are large) and the poblano or anaheim peppers on the lined baking sheet and place them on the top rack of the oven.
    2. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are charred.
    3. While the tomatillos and peppers are roasting, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat.
    4. Add the cubes of pork to the oil and brown on all sides. Place the pork in a slow cooker.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium/high and add the onion. Saute for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt and saute for another minute. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer and pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker.
    6. When the tomatillos and peppers have finished roasting, remove them from the oven. Remove the charred skin from the peppers and place them, and the tomatillos in a blender along with the cilantro and green chilis. Blend until smooth.
    7. Pour over the pork in the slow cooker.
    8. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
    9. Check seasonings before serving and add more salt, if needed.