Tag Archive | clean eating

Crispy Chicken & Savory Collard Greens (No Oil;Gluten Free)

So we’re a little over 1 month in, how are those new year resolutions going so far? What? Don’t bail on them just yet. I’m cooking up some goodies that will make you forget they are “healthy”! As mentioned in a previous post, I went gluten free out of necessity not because it appears to me the “in” thing to do these days. With that being said, I learned to tweak certain recipes so that I could still enjoy some of my favorites.

Today, I’ve cooked up some crispy chicken that I made using not one drop of oil.  To go along with that is a family favorite: savory collard greens. Let me tell you, since I put together this greens recipe, I’ve been the “you bring the greens to the party” person. If it’s possible to make comfort food into health food, then this is it!

First off, let me introduce you to my new best friend. Her name is Bella, she’s an air fryer and she has changed my life forever. You can actually fry chicken completely crispy on all sides with no oil! It works best with parts that have a natural fat content like thighs and wings. For other parts with less fat, all you have to do is spray with an oil spray which still adds no additional calories. Do yourself a favor, buy one. They are usually on sale somewhere, I bought mine on sale at Macy’s for $50. I’ve seen them as low as $20 around black Friday so look around but definitely get one!

Air Fryer.jpg

For the greens, I took the easier route and purchased two bags of pre-cleaned and pre-cut collard greens. It saves time on the preparation and makes it more convenient for a week day meal.

Bag of Greens

I always make my own stock using smoked turkey tails. I like this part of the turkey for its flavor and fat content. It gives greens a rich and savory flavor. Put these in a large pot and cover with about one inch of water. Boil covered on medium high for about an hour until it becomes fork tender.

Smoked Turkey Tails

To the stock pot, add in your “wet seasoning”:
1 green pepper
Half red pepper; half yellow pepper (or use mini peppers like I did)
2 medium onions (or 1 large)
4 cloves fresh garlic

Chop all of the veggies finely or use a food processor until it looks like this:

Chopped Onions Peppers

This is where it gets tricky. I like bold flavors, so my seasoning blend may be more “robust” than others. You really have to tweak it to your preference but this is what I use:

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp paprika ( I really like paprika)
1 tbsp minced onion (I hate onion powder so I use this instead)
1 tbsp salt free garlic & herb seasoning
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar

Add the greens, “wet seasoning”, and dry seasonings to the pot with the turkey tails. Cook uncovered for one hour; stir occasionally. The water will dissipate and concentrate flavors so only tweak seasoning at the end of the hour.

Greens in Pot_edited-1

For the chicken, I used chicken thighs and use the same seasonings as above minus the sugar. The amount will vary depending on the number of pieces you prepare. Estimate about 1/8 tsp each per piece. I put all the seasonings in a bowl to make a “seasoning blend”.

Season Mix for Chicken

Half of the blend is added directly onto the chicken. The other half is added to a separate bowl with 1/2 cup of Brown Rice Flour.

Brown Rice Flour

Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Preheat for 5 minutes. Place chicken in without overlapping. Cook for 20 minutes, turn over, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until completely done.

Chicken in Fryer

You are now ready to enjoy this crispy and savory delight. I know what you’re saying, “where is the macaroni & cheese and cornbread!” Trust me, this is so good, you won’t even miss it! You can even get seconds while staying true to your resolutions!

Chicken Greens Finished Plate

Oh no, I’m not done yet! I have more yet to come that I’m sure you don’t want to miss. Be sure to follow and tune in next time for a new treat!

 

Gluten Free & Delicious: Jerk Shrimp Pasta Parmesan

After receiving the very good news from a food allergy test that I am allergic to wheat, nuts, soybeans, and sesame seeds, I realized that I would have to completely change the way I eat. It was sad at first, knowing that I would have to break up with some of my favorite dishes. Eventually, I learned to tweak recipes so that I could build a repertoire of foods that I can eat.

I’m going to share of few of my recent favorites for some of you that may have similar allergies or just looking to try something different. Either way, you will not be disappointed! Up first, is this super spicy, creamy, and decadent jerk shrimp pasta parmesan. If you like spicy foods, you’re gonna love this one. For those that prefer a more tame dish, I’ll share what to use to tone down the heat without compromising the flavor too much.

I’d like to call this a “recipe” but the way I cook is like “a little bit of this and a little bit of that…oh, it might need a little more this…” you get my drift but I’ll try my best to estimate proportion but I believe you should always try to tweak things to your own liking. With that being said, here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Gluten Free Pasta : 1 1/2 cups
(I love this brand pictured found at Aldi)

Parmesan Cheese : 1/2 cup
(freshly grated; not pre-shredded)

Frozen Broccoli Spears : 1 1/2 cups
(or fresh if you’re fancy)

Medium Shrimp: 12 oz

Pasta

Hot Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (I found this one at Walmart): 2 Tbsp
(Use Old Bay or similar to make a milder version)

Heavy Whipping Cream: 1/3 cup

Garlic & Herb Salt Free Seasoning: sprinkle till satisfied

1 Tbsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Paprika

Add the jerk seasoning to the shrimp; stir until all the shrimp were covered. Spray a nonstick pan with oil and warm the pan on medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 3-5 minutes until they are opaque. Remove the shrimp into a bowl and set aside.

Jerk Shrimp in Pan

For the pasta and broccoli, bring a pot a water to a bowl then add salt (and a tbsp of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together but that’s optional). Add both pasta and broccoli to boiling water and cook till pasta reaches desired tenderness usually 8-10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Pasta Broccoli in Colinder

I wiped that same nonstick pan clean of all the excess jerk seasoning then added the pasta, broccoli, parmesan cheese, cream, and garlic herb seasoning. Stir and cook until the cheese has completely melted and all are covered with a creamy rich sauce.

Pasta In Pan Seasoned

Last, add the shrimp to the pan and stir together shrimp, pasta, and broccoli. Garnish with some paprika for color and Voila!Now you are ready to enjoy this spicy, creamy delight!

jerk-shrimp-pasta-parmesan.jpg

Trust me, with this recipe, you will not feel like you are missing out on anything simply because you have to eat a gluten free diet!

Stay tuned for more because I have transformed many food favorites to gluten, nut, and soybean free. You don’t want to miss what’s next so follow this blog now so you don’t miss out!

 

 

Clean Snacks Reviewed! Which Snacks Are Best for Recovering Junk Food Addicts?

Ok, I must make a confession. I’m a snacker. I like snacks. As I attempt to become more and more health conscious, I may spend minutes upon minutes in the snack aisle of the grocery store scouring the ingredients and analyzing calorie, fat, and carbohydrate content. Even deciding between fried, baked, popped or freeze dried will make your head spin! So, what else is a confused, recovering fried potato chip person to do but attempt to make their own healthy snacks. Duh duh duh duhhhhhh!!!!

Ok, it wasn’t so bad but there were some clear hits and definite misses. And I’m hear to break it down for you so you can make the decision for yourself.

I may as well start with my favorite which happened to be one of the simplest:

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

I was surprised at how easy and delicious this was and more perplexed by why I haven’t done this before! One potato yields a generous serving of potato chips. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus (source: http://whfoods.org). So, a snack thats delicious, simple and super nutritious?? Sign me up, baby!!

Ingredients:

1 medium organic sweet potato
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Using a mandolin or knife, slice into 1/16” to 1/8” round pieces…depending on the thickness preferred.

In a large mixing bowl, add sliced potatoes and oil, toss to coat.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick foil, place potato slices next to each other until the cookie sheet is filled.

Bake for 20 minutes, turn potatoes over and bake an additional 20 minutes. If the edges are crispy remove from oven, if not, bake an additional 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy around the edges.

Allow potatoes to cool at room temperature. Chips will continue to get crispier as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


This next snack may seem basic but not only is it simple to prepare but it is very filling and delicious!!

Spicy Air Popped Popcorn

Spicy Popcorn

When I invested a whole $15 in an electric popcorn popper, I had no idea how valuable it would be in preparing a quick and satisfying snack. A bag of popcorn kernels is super cheap and darn near non perishable which makes it a no-brainer to keep it around. With all the scary things being said about microwaved popcorn (who didn’t grow up on that stuff??), I’m glad to have a healthier, almost as convenient option. “Air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has only 35 calories per cup. When lightly buttered, popcorn contains about 80 calories per cup. Popcorn is a whole grain, making it a good-for-you food. Popcorn contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet.” (source: http://www.popcorn.org) For a savory treat, I add coconut oil (instead of butter) and Tajin Classico Seasoning (picked it up at Aldi). It hits all the senses for a salty, spicy, crunchy snack!

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Popcorn Kernels
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
Season with Salt or Preferred Seasoning

Directions:
Add popcorn to electric popper. Melt coconut oil. After corn is popped, add coconut oil and seasoning. Enjoy!


So, now we make a turn to a less familiar territory. Snack beans. Don’t get me wrong, I love beans in it’s many forms: chili, refried beans, red beans & rice, lentil soup, hummus…the list goes on. However, when it comes to snack beans, I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet but nonetheless, I tried.

Parmesan Garlic Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

Garbanzo Beans

So, yeah, by now you know that I like my snacks savory and crunchy and honestly, this does meet those marks. I like parmesan. I love garlic. I like garbanzos. Now combining all these for a snack…..I’m not there yet. “Chickpeas are a type of legume that offer a range of health benefits. Chickpeas help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. Chickpeas nutrition is a potent package of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is why they are often included in many healing diets .” (source: draxe.com) So yeah, I may toss these in a salad for a little variety and crunch but on its own…nahh.

Ingredients:
2 (14.5 Oz.) Cans Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, Drained, Rinsed & Dried
2 Tbsp. Shredded Dry Parmesan
1 Tsp. Dried Crushed Rosemary
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/8 Tsp. Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil. Give the foil a light spritz of some non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chickpeas are crisp.

Carefully remove the sheet from the oven and set aside to cook slightly before serving.


Now here I go, trying to be fancy and delving into creating sweet snacks. I was born and raised in Chicago so Garrett’s Popcorn is the penultimate of a sweet, savory, crunchy snack to me. I’m sure I’d shutter at the nutrition facts of that popcorn and there’s no need to ruin it, its Garrett’s and when you pass one, you buy it, point blank. However, when you’re home and crave a sweeter popcorn, it’s great to be able to create one. Did this one hold up as a replacement????

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

peanut-butter-popcorn.jpg

Now, I like popcorn. I like chocolate. I like peanut butter and honey. All of these together, not so much. Now, in all fairness there’s probably a flaw in my execution. Apparently, there is a fine line between letting these sit while the crunch develops and letting it sit so long that it becomes stale, sigh…. Overall, I believe it has potential and with a few tweaks, it just may work so stay tuned for an update.

Recipe:

Heat 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract. Stir until smooth; pour over 16 cups hot popcorn. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (you can sweeten this for enhanced flavor). Spread on baking sheets and let cool.

Eating Clean, Deliciously!!

So I’ve been pinning clean eating recipes for a while now and threatening promising to make them all the time. As usual, I get caught up in the cycle of making the same things all the time because, well, it’s easier. Now, however, I want to explore and try something different, healthier, and weight loss inducing. Bikini season is right around the corner and if I keep up this healthy eating kick, I’ll be ready for it in about 4-5 years, lol! So anyway, I wanted to share with you all a few of the recipes I tried to help us all get as fine as our bodies are willing to get this summer 🙂

Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Canned Mushrooms (feel free to use fresh)
  • 5 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. I used chicken broth instead of water. Heat olive oil in a separate pan. Add mushrooms, garlic, and thyme and sautee for 3-4 minutes. Stir mushroom mixture into quinoa, season to taste, add parmesan cheese.

This dish was honestly very good and I didn’t miss my usual unhealthy carb laden rice at all! Quinoa is 100% whole grain and is high in fiber, protein, gluten free, low on the glycemic index as well as a whole host of other nutritional benefits. Seriously, doctored up just the right way, this can be a go-to grain side dish.

Original recipe found here:

http://damndelicious.net/2014/05/02/garlic-mushroom-quinoa/

 

Oven Baked Parmesan Crusted Cod

Cod edit

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Cod (fresh or thawed)
  • 1 tbs Parsley (dried)
  • 1 tbs Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse fish pieces and pat dry, brush both sides with olive oil and set aside. Mix parsley, paprika, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Coat fish in mixture and place in lightly oiled (nonstick foil lined) pan. Press any excess mixture on top of fish and bake for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Remove from oven and let stand 3-5 minutes while fish cools, it will form more of a crisp crust.

I liked this recipe because it is heavy on two of my favorite seasonings: paprika and parsley. It gives this dish such a powerful flavor, you will forget it is healthy. I added in garlic powder to the original recipe because well, I need garlic in everything to fight off vampires for added flavor. The recipe from which this was adapted called for tilapia and since it has been getting such a bad rap lately (seriously, google tilapia, it’s scary), I opted to use cod instead. Cod is known to be one of the “world’s healthiest fish” and is chock full of vitamin b12 and a great source of omega -3 fatty acids. It is high in protein and low in fat. With this recipe, I’m sure cod will become, if it’s not already, one of your favorites.

Original recipe found here:

https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/oven-baked-parmesan-crusted-tilapia/

 

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies edit

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Instant Oats
  • 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 Grated Carrots
  • 2 tbs Golden Raisins (optional)
  • 2 tbs Chopped Walnuts (optional)

In a bowl, mix oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mix coconut oil, egg, vanilla until blended then add maple syrup. Combine dry and wet ingredients by slowly stirring in the dry ingredients. Fold the carrots into the blended mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper and/or oil. Spoon cookie dough in rounded balls on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 or until it appears to have solidly formed together. Cool for 5 minutes unless you like a little mouth roof burn, lol.

I tried to be a little fancy with this recipe and created a cream cheese topping. Well, let’s just say we’re still in the developing phase on that so stay tuned for when it’s not a mini fail and can share an edible version of my recipe. Other than that, these cookies were moist, delicious and a great substitute for a more fattening carrot cake. It will satisfy your sweet tooth in a delightfully healthy way 🙂

Original recipe found here:

http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/10/10/carrot-cake-oatmeal-cookies/#.VDlij9S9KK0

Cod Quinoa Broccoli edit

So that’s today’s episode of “Finally Try Out Those Pinterest Recipes You’ve Been Holding Onto for Years”. I hope you stay tuned for our next episode.

In the meantime, feel free to see what else I’m pinning and follow me here: