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Quick Dinner Recipe: Coconut Skillet Chicken

coconut skillet chicken

Coconut Skillet Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon sea sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (adjust to taste preference)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed into 1 tablespoon water
2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:
1. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over a medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook each side for 5-7 minutes or until browned on each side.
3. In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Add the vegetable stock, lime juice, cilantro and chili flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, continue to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes to let the sauce reduce down.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to simmer again for another 5 minutes. Add the prepared corn starch and bring to a boil to thicken the sauce.
5. Add the chicken back to the skillet and let the chicken continue to cook until it is cooked through (about 5 – 10 minutes).
6. Serve over the brown rice.

Click here to watch a the recipe video.

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Lunch Ideas to Switch it Up!

Tired of the same old lunches? Here are some nutrient-rich ideas and product tips to switch up lunches either for yourself or the little ones in your life! Happy lunch packing!

Crunch + Protein

When you are looking to add something crunchy to a lunch, rethink-it and add-in roasted chickpeas. They come in a wide variety of flavors and some treat-like flavors too (e.g. milk chocolate!). What I love about these - each serving is about 130 calories plus it delivers 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. The fiber is important because it will help to slow down blood sugar level increases, in turn providing better long lasting energy.

Click here to buy some today or check your local stores like Target or Wegmans for them as well!

Click here  to buy roasted chickpeas!

Click here to buy roasted chickpeas!

Add a Protein Boost

Pack along a milk box to add a boost of 8 grams of protein to lunch! I love these Horizon Organic milk boxes, they are also available in flavored options like chocolate and strawberry, which are perfect for refueling after practices, workouts and games. Plus for an added bonus these milk boxes are shelf-stable and they don’t have to be refrigerated, which makes them really portable and easy to bring along.

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Salads for Lunch

If your little ones are tired of sandwiches, switch it up with a salad! They can be really quick and easy to make. Start with a base of leafy greens, then top it with sliced veggies or fruit, sunflower seeds for crunch, and some sliced cheese. Or even add some baked chicken or tofu for a protein boost. Drizzle it with your favorite salad dressing.

Note - also pictured here is a mini yogurt parfait, which are great to pack along with a salad or even with a sandwich. Check out the Back to School Lunch Favorites for more on parfaits - click here.

Warm Up with Soup

pacific food soup.jpg

Soup can make a great addition to lunches. Plus choosing a vegetable-based soup like Tomato Soup, is a great way to squeeze in extra vegetables. Remember to send the soup warm in a thermos style container so it will still be warm to enjoy at lunch time. Send along the soup with a half of sandwich, salad, or a parfait to complete the meal.

Pictured here is Pacific Foods roasted red pepper & tomato soup, a favorite at our house! Also check out the Pacific Foods new line of bone broth soups.

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Product Picks

I'm on a constant quest to try new foods, and products! Here are a couple of recent options that were a hit. 

Cotton Candy Grapes from the Grapery

Cotton Candy Grapes from the Grapery

UNIQUE + DELICIOUS CANDY GRAPES

These Cotton Candy grapes from the Grapery are full of flavor and delicious. They are super sweet and definitely have a cotton candy-like taste. 

In my opinion they are worth putting on your shopping list and can even double as a dessert. 

The Grapery website explains more about the way that these grapes get their unique flavor, its really interesting and worth a read, click here! And don't wait, they are only available for a short period of time, according to their website now through September 20. 

Pressed By KIND Bars

Pressed By KIND Bars

ON-THE-GO FRUIT

Sometimes schedules call for on-the-go options and Pressed by KIND bars are a perfect way to add in fruit on busy days or in lunch boxes! Plus the bars have a simple ingredient list and each has 2 servings of fruit per bar.

For example, the Cherry, Apple, Chia bar ingredient list is literally - cherry, apple, and chia. There is not any added sugar or sweeteners, which is great! Each bar has 130 calories and delivers 3 grams of fiber. 

They are also available in additional flavors including: Mango Apple Chia, Dark Chocolate Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Banana, Strawberry Apple Cherry Chia, and Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach. You can order Pressed by KIND bars direct from KIND Snacks website or look for them in grocery stores, Target, and more.  

Green Giant Riced Veggies 

Green Giant Riced Veggies 

INNOVATIVE VEGGIES

One of the newest ways to enjoy veggies is 'riced' veggies. The texture of veggies when they are chopped fine is so interesting and especially cauliflower, takes on the texture of almost being rice-like. 

You can make your own riced veggies but these frozen bags are super convenient! Plus they come in great flavor combinations like pictured here, Cauliflower with Lemon and Garlic. 

Once cup of riced veggies has only 30 calories and is a perfect side dish! Or try plain riced cauliflower as a stand-in for rice with stir-fry or even made into a fried 'rice' dish. Look for riced veggies in the freezer section of the grocery store. Click here for more information on Riced Veggies from Green Giant. 

Note: These product picks are not an advertisement, just products that Creative Nutrition Solutions owner and registered dietitian, Molly Morgan loves! 

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Dinner Idea: Mango Ginger Chicken

Are you in need of quick dinner ideas? Grab this delicious Mango Ginger Chicken recipe from my Olum's Cooking project. Click here for the recipe video and recipe. 

Mango Ginger Chicken - Quick and Easy! 

Mango Ginger Chicken - Quick and Easy! 

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Quick Salad: Mexican Quinoa Salad

This salad recipe has a homemade jalapeno vinaigrette dressing that is absolutely delicious and not too spicy! Plus it is really beautiful and colorful. 

Grab this recipe and watch the recipe video from Molly's cooking project with Olums: https://youtu.be/oJPCQnuarBQ

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

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Game Day Snack: Red Hot Chicken Fingers

Looking for an appetizer that is perfect for game day snacking? Try this Red Hot Chicken Finger Recipe with Greek Yogurt Blue Cheese Dip from Molly's cooking project with Olum's. 

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Meatless Monday Recipe: Falafel with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Eating meatless at least one day a week can help the environment and better your health. If you have never tried falafel, it is worth a try! Falafel is a Mediterranean dish that is chickpea-based or sometimes made with fava beans. 

Serving up falafel with whole grain pita bread, veggies (e.g. lettuce, tomato, kalamata olives, cucumber), feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce! 

Making your own tzatziki sauce is easy and tastes even better if you can make it up ahead of time, at least the night before! It will allow the flavors to come together better, although if you are short on time you can make it with the falafel, the flavors will just be a little less intense. 

Falfel (Photo Source: iStock)

Falfel (Photo Source: iStock)

Falafel with Homemade Tzatzki Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients - Falafal:
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 medium shallots
2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil (for cooking) 

Ingredients - Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cucumber (pressed to remove water)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
 

Directions: 
1. In a food processor add: chickpeas, parsley, shallot, garlic, tahini, cumin, salt, pepper, and coriander. Pulse to blend and scrape down the mixture as needed. The dough should be crumbly.

2. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time (you may not need the full 1/4 cup), until the mixture is somewhat firm and you can shape into a ball. 

3. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or more). 

4. After the falafel dough is chilled, scoop about 2 tablespoons worth of the mixture and gently form into patties (makes about 12).

5. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add 3 - 4 of the patties cook for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from skillet and then repeat for the remaining falafel patties. 

6. In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the tzatziki sauce ingredients. Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate.. 

Serving suggestion: Serve falafel with pita bread, chopped veggies, kalamata olives, and homemade tzatzki sauce. 
 

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers and Homemade Pickled Red Onion

If you are looking for a homemade veggie burger recipe, this recipe is full of flavor! What is great about it too, the base of the burger is sweet potato, rice, beans, and pecans can then be spiced up to your preference. Instead of the cumin you could use onion powder and garlic powder, or even try an Indian-style veggies burger with curry powder!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

The only trick to making the burgers is to press the mixture firmly together when forming them into patties, as the mixture will be a little sticky. Then during cooking, when you go to flip them half-way through, press them gently with a metal spatula before flipping and it helps them stay together. 

As a side note, the homemade pickled onions are a great addition as well and are quick and easy to make!  

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger with Home-made Pickled Red Onion

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger with Home-made Pickled Red Onion

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

Serves 12

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinshed
1 1/2 cups white rice, cooked
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup scallions, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprkia
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Add the black beans to a large mixing bowl and mash. Then add remaining ingredients and mix well. 
3. Use 1/3 cup of the burger mixture to hand form patties. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
4. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, flipping carefully half way through. 

Serving suggestion: Serve on mini rolls topped with sliced tomato and pickled red onions (As pictured above)! Other topping ideas: sliced avocado, lettuce, fried egg, cheese, Dijon mustard, etc. 

Nutrition Facts (per burger): 125 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat,  5 milligrams cholesterol, 180 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar, 4 grams protein 

Homemade Pickled Red Onions

Serves 12

Ingredients:
1  red onion, sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:
1. In a small sauce pan combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. 
2. Place the sliced onion in a glass container and top with the boiling mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Let the onions marinade for at least 20 - 30 minutes. 

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Korean BBQ Cauliflower

During my travels for work in Ottawa, there is a favorite restaurant of mine (Pure Kitchen) that serves Korean BBQ Cauliflower that is so delicious! I have been trying to replicate that dish at home and I finally have gotten pretty close. If you try this recipe, I hope you love it as much as I do and would love to hear from you. 

The Korean BBQ Sauce recipe calls for Gochujang which is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju (fermented soybean) powder, yeotgireum (barley malt powder), and salt. You can typically find this in the Asian food aisle at the grocery store. If you can't find it, you could use red chili paste instead!

Korean BBQ Cauliflower

Korean BBQ Cauliflower

Korean BBQ Cauliflower

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 small heads of cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 8 cups)
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium scallions, sliced
1 cup Korean BBQ Sauce (See below)

Korean BBQ Sauce Ingredients:
1/3 cup lite soy sauce or gluten-free
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang or chili paste
1 tablespoon corn starch - blended with 2 tablespoons water

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
2. Place the cauliflower florets on a baking tray and spray lightly with olive oil. Roast the cauliflower florets for 20 - 25 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. 
3. In a small sauce pan, whisk together all of the Korean BBQ Sauce ingredients - except the corn starch. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes more. 
4. Stir 1 teaspoon of the corn starch and water mixture into the sauce and stir, allowing the sauce to thicken. Note: use more of the corn starch and water mixture if needed.  
5. Heat a skillet and add the roasted cauliflower and about 3/4 of the prepare Korean BBQ Sauce. Stir to coat the cauliflower generously with the sauce.
6. Transfer the cauliflower and drizzle with remaining sauce. Top with sliced scallions and serve. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 90 calories, 2 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 470 millgirams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar, 4 grams protein

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Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Where I live (Binghamton, NY area) Spiedies are a local staple. The history of the spiedie is debated some but the story is that the spiedie was brought to Binghamton by Italian immigrants in the 1920's. Most traditionally, spiedies were marinated lamb that was then grilled and served on fresh Italian bread.

Today around our area you mostly find that spiedies are cubes of marinated meat typically - pork, beef, or chicken. So, when I started eating vegetarian a couple of years ago, I had to figure out a plant-based solution to the traditional spiedies. Sometimes I make my own version of spiedie marinade (recipe below) and other times I use a local favorite - Lupo's spiedie marinade!

Here is a how-to and recipe (Skinnier Spiedie Sandwich - page 28- 30), that is in Skinny Size-It (Harlequin Non Fiction 2014). 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

 Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup Spiedie Marinade (See recipe below or store bought)
4 whole-wheat flat breads (such as Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
 

Directions:

1. Remove the tofu from the package and drain the excess water by placing the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels and letting it sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Then cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place the cubes in a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the Spiedie Marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes (works great to marinate overnight!). 

2. Lightly coast a medium-size skillet with cooking spray, and then heat the skillet over medium heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon and saute it int he skillet, turning gently with a spatula, until it has browned on all sites, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

3. Fill each flatbread with tofu cubes, shredded lettuce, and tomato slices. Fold in half and then serve!

Other tips: serve the spiedies as a salad topper or another favorite is to served topped with sauteed peppers and onions. 

Nutrition facts (per serving): 230 calories, 132 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 460 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 17 grams protein

Spiedie Marinade

Yield: 1 cup (16 tablespoons)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all the ingredients, and whisk or shake, mixing thoroughly. 

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