Make Ahead Cilantro Lime Chicken

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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”!

Never have these words been more true than in my first 10 weeks of life with my brand new amazing baby boy.

Food has always been a top priority of mine. Cooking it, eating it, thinking about it, learning about it, talking about it, meal planning….it took up a lot of space in my brain.

Now my brain thinks about feeding my baby. People told me before he was born that newborns breastfeed all the time…but you can’t understand that until you have a baby. Holy smokes newborns DO breastfeed ALL THE TIME! During the first few weeks all I thought about was caring for my baby, if my husband or mom didn’t make me food and remind me to eat, I wouldn’t have. I found that startling.

Now that I fly solo with little man and have emerged from that “newborn brain fog” I am trying to put more of a focus of healthy, balanced meals.

But it’s hard to find time to do that and generally I don’t have two free hands for more than 5 minutes at a time! I have been typing this with my thumb over the course of a few days and generally in the middle of the night trying to keep myself awake while feeding. The struggle to find time is so real. Some days I’m stuffing “lunch” in my mouth at 4pm…and the foods I reach for are usually not veggies and fruit at that point

I know I’m not alone in this!

My new strategy is to PLAN AHEAD. I now make breakfast ahead if time. Overnight oats, homemade granola, prep smoothie ingredients ahead, etc. Lunches I now pack in the evening like I did when I went to work, that way I can grab it quickly out of the fridge and it now includes vegetables, yay! Supper I pre-plan a week at a time and buy groceries accordingly. Depending on the day I either prep supper during a nap (if he’ll let me put him down that is) or wait for hubby to come home. We’ve hence started branching out from pasta and Parmesan to meals with quality protein and veggies again.

Slow cooker or freezer meals are also an awesome idea. I made a bunch of freezer meals during my last couple weeks of pregnancy and I was glad that I did. On crazy days I thank myself for putting in the effort. I’m going to have to keep doing that.

This recipe is one of our favourites. You can either make it fresh or freeze it and cook it later. Depending on when you pull it out to thaw you can either cook it in a skillet or slow cooker.

Ingredients

2-3 chicken breasts or equivalent amount of thighs, cubed

1 cup corn

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

Juice from 2 limes

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

Dash black pepper

1/2 – 1 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

Directions for cooking

  1. Dice up chicken and onion. Fry in skillet with a bit of oil until cooked through.
  2. Add vegetables, lime juice and spices. Stir to combine and cook until tender.
  3. Add fresh chopped cilantro at the end before serving.

Serve this with steamed brown rice or on it’s own.  Top with fresh tomatoes, salsa, avocados, sour cream or whatever you like!

Directions for freezing

1. Cut up all ingredients, except cilantro, and toss in a large freezer bag. (If you don’t mind cooked cilantro add it at this step but I prefer it added at the end) Press out air and freeze flat for up to 3 months.

2. Thaw in the fridge the night before if using the slow cooker. Heat on low 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Or add to skillet with a bit of oil and cook on medium until heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Serve this with steamed brown rice or on it’s own. Top with fresh tomatoes, salsa, avocados, sour cream or whatever you like!

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Hearty Sausage and Bean Soup

Hearty Sausage and Green Bean Soup

Baby it’s cold outside…and definitely the season of staying warm with a steaming bowl of something tasty!

This soup is quick and easy, using frozen vegetables from Costco…no fuss or mess, organic and at discounted price!

Frozen vegetables are fantastic to have in your freezer – they last longer than fresh, are ready to cook and are harvested at peak freshness so nutritionally they get a gold star.

Ingredients:

– 1 package of hot or mild italian sausages (ensure gluten free if needed), casings removed

– 4 cups of frozen PEI mix vegetables (carrot, green and yellow beans)

– 1 cup cubed potatoes, keep skins on

– 8 cups of water

– Bay leaf

– 1 tsp each dried thyme and sage (adapt to your own taste)

– Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Remove casing from sausage with a sharp knife.  Add to large pot and brown sausage over medium heat until cooked through.  Drain excess fat.

2. Add seasonings, vegetables, potatoes and water to pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer soup for about 30-45 minutes or until vegetables and potatoes are soft. Could also be made in the slow cooker.

Serve with drop biscuits or make your own garlic bread for a quick meal!

Québécois-Style Pea Soup

Tabitha: I have had a bag of split peas on my shelf for a year. Finally I was inspired to use it when I got into a discussion about how canned pea soup doesn’t seem to taste good anymore when our taste buds are used to cooking from scratch.

Peas are a legume, which simply means edible seeds. Legumes, also called pulses are all great sources of protein and fibre. They are also a low glycemic index food.

Here is my recipe for pea soup (based off http://www.canadianliving.com/food/quebecois_style_pea_soup.php)

Ingredients
1 lb (454 g) ham, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) dried yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
1 dried chili pepper
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
Enough water to cover ingredients

Directions
1. Trim off and discard skin from ham, dice.
2. Chop vegetables and add all ingredients to your slow cooker.
3. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve!

So simple! So delicious! Tastes even better the second day.

Gluten Free Pizza Pops

Gluten Free Pizza Pops

There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than re-creating a food industry product in my own kitchen and making it even better.  TAKE THIS PILSBURY!  I made these yesterday after I found this simple dough recipe off of officiallyglutenfree.com.  Flour and sour cream!  That’s it!  The fat from the sour cream makes the pizza pops, crispy, flaky and tender….plus the dough isn’t sticky and impossible to work with like normal.  A pleasant surprise!

What’s in an actual Pizza Pop?

Enriched wheat flour, water, pizza topping (water, palm oil, rennet casein, modified potato starch, flavour, salt, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium phosphate, lactic acid, colour, may contain corn starch, milk ingredient, sodium citrate, potassium chloride, modified coconut oil, sorbic acid), canola oil, cooked pepperoni, tomato paste, sugar, green sweet peppers, mushrooms, salt, modified corn starch, baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, methlycellulose, spices, monocalcium phosphate, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, malic acid, potassium sorbate, garlic extract, onion extract, corn starch.

Ew.

Ingredients (Makes 12 pizza pops)

3 cups gluten free flour mixture (or 2 cup rice flour and 1 cup corn starch)

1 cup sour cream (14%)

1/2 can tomato paste + 1/2 can water

1 tsp each basil and oregano

1 cup shredded cheese

1/2 cup diced pepperoni

1 cup shredded bell peppers

Directions

1. Mix together flour and sour cream in a bowl.  You may have to use your hands to combine it well, add another tbsp or two of sour cream (or water) if needed.  The dough should be like a dry play dough consistency.  Cover and let it rest/hydrate in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.

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2. In a small bowl, blend together tomato paste, water and spices until smooth. Shred cheese and peppers.  Dice or thinly slice pepperoni or whatever ingredients you want to include in the pizza pops.

3. Take about 1/3 of the dough and work it a few times in your hands. Roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin until very thin. Using a large rimmed cup, cut out circles.

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4. Place about 1 teaspoon of sauce in the middle of one circle.  Add toppings in the middle making sure about 1 cm of the edges remain clear.  Place another circle on top of the toppings and press edges together to seal them.

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5. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Place on parchment paper and pierce each pizza pop with a fork to allow steam to escape.

6. Preheat oven to 425F.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

I haven’t had a chance to see if they will do well in the freezer and reheated (that would imply leftovers).  I would guess if you heat them from frozen in the oven they would be delicious!

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole (Dairy + gluten free)

Amy:

I’m a big fan of casseroles and particularly….making casseroles the night before and having them ready to go in the oven when I get home from work!  For this one I made extra chicken and rice for supper and then assembled it while I was cleaning up from dinner!  How efficient?!

I based the flavours of this casserole on a chicken enchilada but made it simple, easy and with rice instead of tortillas.  To amp up the nutrition factor, I substituted the ample amount of cheese and “enchilada sauce” that is usually in an enchilada recipe for some cashew cream and blended salsa!  I also used brown rice….shhhhh you’d never know!  Casseroles are very adaptable….add some cheese, beans or other veggies if desired.

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked brown rice (I always bake mine in the oven and find it’s very fluffy that way)

3/4 cup frozen corn or 1 can corn kernels

3 chicken breasts, diced

1 large ripe tomato, diced

Cilantro or parsley to garnish

Sauce:

1 cup cashews and/or sunflower seeds soaked for a few hours to overnight

1 cup of water

1 cup of salsa

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook rice and chicken breast until done.  Set aside to cool.

2. Soak the cashews and/or sunflower seeds overnight.  Drain.  Add to blender with water, salsa and spices.  Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

3. Dice chicken and tomatoes. Add to casserole dish.  Add rice and corn.

4. Pour blended sauce over top and mix well to combine.

5. Bake covered in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley before serving.

 

 

Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)

I love bibimbap (BEE-beem-bop)! I had it for the first time this summer. Thankfully I had scouted a recipe and it’s surprisingly simple to make. This recipe is basically a bowl of rice topped with veggies, meat, and often an egg. Make extra rice the night before and you have an almost instant meal.

Ingredients:
4-6 cups cooked rice
1 pound beef steak thinly sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I grate mine frozen, it grates easier and keeps longer)
Sautéed vegetables (spinach, chard, beet greens, zucchini, peppers)
Steamed vegetables ( broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots)
Raw vegetables (grated carrots, julienned cucumbers, pea pods)
4-6 eggs (fried, poached, or soft-boiled)
Sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish (optional)
Sriracha, for serving (optional)

Directions:
1. If your rice has been made ahead, reheat it in the microwave or in a drizzle of sesame oil in a hot skillet.
2. Combine the steak with the soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, sugar, garlic, and ginger and let it sit while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
3. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, cook the meat in a drizzle of oil, tossing it quickly just until it is cooked through. Top the rice with the meat, veggies, and your egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately, with Sriracha at the table.

Serves 4-6

Source: Today’s Parent

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Sausage and lentil casserole

Amy:

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Finally a meat recipe! I do actually cook meat a couple of times a week but I usually don’t blog it as it doesn’t interest me all that much. This recipe caught my eye in a collection of lentil recipes that I was sorting through! It’s a great intro recipe for lentils because it’s paired with meat and the sausages give it a delicious flavour!! The smell from the oven was divine! It was definitely hubby approved and his only comment was that there wasn’t enough of it!…..need to make more next time…

Recipe based off of lentils.ca  Makes enough for 3 good portions, double as needed

Ingredient:

1 can of lentils, rinsed (or 1/4 cup dry)

1/4 cup of stock or water

2 cups of cherry tomatoes

5-6 Italian sausages, pierced a couple times

a couple sprigs of rosemary, thyme or both (I used a Tuscan mix)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Scatter the lentils around the bottom of a casserole dish.

2. Add tomatoes over lentils, then place the sausages overtop. Pierce with a knife a couple times.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and other herbs.

4. Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until browned and liquid is absorbed.

Serve with potato or slice of crusty bread (gf if needed of course!)

Hot dogs…how bad are they really? Tabitha’s radio interview :)

Tabitha: I work as a dietitian in Inuvik, Northwest Territories and was contacted by CBC radio to do an interview about….”Hot Dogs, how bad are they really?”  listen to the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/#lorenmcginnis/hot-dogs-not-that-good-for-you

Highlights include:

1. Know where your food is coming from.  When  you eat beef or caribou you know it is made from cows and caribou.  There is no “hot dog” animal, so why are you eating it?  The more a food is processed, the less healthful it is.

2. Hot dogs are a low quality meat made out of “mechanically separated meat” which is the unpalatable parts of the animal ground up and mixed with fat, salt and spices.

3. Hot dogs and other processed meats are high in nitrates which increases your risk of colorectal cancers (according to Canadian Cancer Society).  One study in the United States saw that 1 serving of processed meat a day (such as hot dogs, sausages, bologna, salami, bacon, etc) increases your risk of colorectal cancers by 20%!

4. Hot dogs are high in saturated fats which are unhealthy for your heart health.

5. Hot dogs are loaded in sodium (salt), 4 hot dogs add up to your daily limit for salt….never mind the salty condiments that we add.

Better camping food choices?

1. Tin foil meals of meat, potatoes, vegetables and sauces heated in the fire coals.

2. Make pizza pockets out of pie irons with bread, sauces, vegetables and other toppings.

3. Make a camp stew or soup over the fire.

4. Lean hamburger patties, dried fish or meat.

 

Overall?  Know what goes in your food!  Eat processed foods in moderation.  Happy camping!

Cabbage rolls…with cauli-rice! (Grain free)

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Amy:

One of the foods hubby has missed while being on this elimination diet is rice and…cabbage rolls. Especially at Easter time! While I didn’t try to make him any then, I did try them out the other day using my handy-dandy “riced cauliflower recipe”! While it wasn’t exactly like cabbage rolls it was pretty darn close – I was actually pleasantly surprised! I will next time use green cabbage but I just had red cabbage in my fridge….just so you know 🙂

Ingredients:
1 head of green cabbage, core removed
1 head of cauliflower, “riced” and cooked
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt and pepper (important for flavour)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2- 1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 – 1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional but fun)
Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, condensed tomato soup (not GF)…whatever you like for sauce on the cabbage rolls. I used some leftover vegetable/meat spaghetti sauce for DELICIOUS results.

Directions:
1. Dig out the core of the cabbage with a knife while you bring a big pot of water to boil on the stove. Once it’s boiling, CAREFULLY slip in the cabbage (don’t splash yourself!) and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the outer leaves are tender but not completely soft. Remove from the pot with whatever utensils you have that will work! I used a BBQ flipper and a large slotted spoon….set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the cauliflower rice. Using a food processor, process cauliflower florets in batches until it’s about a “rice size”. Dump riced cauliflower into a large bowl. Once it’s all riced, heat in microwave for 5 minutes on high. This boils off some of the water to achieve more of a starchy texture. Add olive oil, herbs and spices and mix well, let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Peel off a leaf of cabbage, cut off the thick rib part if needed. Place a couple of tbsp of rice mixture at the bottom of the leaf and carefully roll up, tucking in the ends as you go to make a roll. Place in baking casserole dish. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage leaves. Note: You may need to reboil the cabbage head part way though as the center may not be soft enough. Tuck rolls tightly in beside each other. You may do two layers if your dish is deep enough.
4. Once all rolls are in the casserole dish, cover the rolls with the sauce of your choice. My Ukrainian mother-in-law likes to cover the cabbage rolls and sauce with a couple of cabbage leaves to keep them from browning too much as they bake.
5. Bake covered in a preheated oven at 350F for about 1 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until very tender which may vary depending on how large the casserole dish is. 🙂 Enjoy!