Pulled Chicken Chili

Hello 2017! It’s been a while but we are back with some delicious and nutritious recipes to help you stay on track with your healthy New Years resolutions! 

What else is there to make when it’s freezing everywhere other than chili? Yes, usually the meat is on the fatty side and it’s normally paired with some sort of fat-inducing carb. But this recipe packs the protein and subs out the starch for a carotenoid rich squash. And, it’s topped with some cruncy kale because tortilla chips are certainly on no ones diet right now 😉.

Tomato Coating
Ingredients

Chicken: One red onion, One garlic clove, One (any color, yellow used here) bell pepper, One can tomato paste, 2 tablespoons apple side vinegar, 2 tablespoons agave nectar, 3-4 boneless chicken breasts

Coated Chicken
Chili: 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans (any combo of beans will work) 

2 Spaghetti Squashes (serves about 5) 

1 bag of chopped kale. Juice of 1/2 lime. 

Directions: Dice veggies. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Brown veggies and then reduce heat. Stir in tomato paste, vinegar and agave. Add any hot spices you desire (cayenne, chipotle, cumin and black pepper used here). Mix until a cohesive paste. Lightly coat each chicken breast. 

In a slow cooker, add 1/2 the can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 can of sauce. Add chili pepper and any other hot spices desired. Add both cans of beans. Place coated chicken on top. Add the remaining diced tomatoes and sauce. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours. After about 2 hours, use a fork to break apart chicken. 

Chicken in chili
Refer here for instructions on cooking spaghetti squash. 

For the crunchy kale topping, spread the greens out on a cooking sheet. Drizzle lime juice over and sprinkle with cilantro if desired. 

Crunchy Kale
This is just the thing to warm you up without costing you your diet. The squash serves as a great base that will make you forget all about that pasta. 

Pulled Chicken Chili over Spaghetti Squash 

Lettuce Wrapped Burrito

Happy #tacotuesday! Tacos are not the most unhealthy indulgence, but it’s the shell and certain fatty add ins like sour cream that break the meal and your diet. The good news is the dish is welcoming towards different veggies, so load ’em up!

ground beef
Ingredients: 16 oz lean ground beef (makes about 5 burritos), 1-2 bell peppers (any color), 1 white onion, 2 avocados, ), 1/2 of tomato, cheddar cheese (if desired), 2-3 stalks of romaine lettuce

Directions: Slice peppers and about a 1/4 of the onion. Place meat in a large bowl and season with cumin, garlic powder, various peppers (chipotle, cayenne and black were used here), cilantro, lime juice and salt. A dash of balsamic vinegar was also thrown in. In a greased pan, sautée peppers and onions until browned. Add meat and dice with spatula. Cook for about 15 mins. 

pico de gallo
Pick de gallo: Dice about half of the tomato and half of the onion like shown above. Season with cilantro, chipotle and salt. Mix thoroughly. 

romaine leaves
For lettuce wraps, we have found that it’s best to double up the romaine leaves for support. Plus, it adds to your veggie intake. We have layered the wet ingredients first, followed by the meat and some leftover quinoa, a bit of shredded cheese and finally the diced avocado. 

Lettuce Burrito
Try to secure an additional romaine leaf on top of the wrap to give it a burrito feel. The final product is hearty and requires two hands. It will make you forget all about Chipotle or Moe’s!

Steak Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera
Not all pasta is created equally. Well, actually it is, but then it’s processed, stripped of the majority of its nutritional value and has a pound of cream dumped  on top it and is then called cuisine. **cough** Olive Garden.

Whole wheat pasta has much more vitamins and fiber than its lighter component. Also, it has a much lighter taste and doesn’t give you that heavy gut feeling when you’re done eating. 

whole wheat pasta
Ingredients: Whole wheat shells (any whole wheat pasta will work), .87 lb of round steak, bunch of asparagus, bunch of carrot sticks, 1/4 onion, sliced mushrooms, 1 clove of garlic, Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions: Boil water, add pasta and sliced carrots. Taste to check if soft.

Steak with Veggies
Slice veggies. Cut up raw meat separately. Add garlic, mushrooms and onion to heated pan. Once browned, add meat. Once sufficiently cooked, add asparagus and tomatoes. 

Once pasta is in colander and dryer, add garlic powder, salt and pepper. In large bowl, combine pasta, meat, and veggies. Once mixed together, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Add a bit of Parmesan cheese to taste. 

Steak Pasta Primavera
Pasta tends to get a bad reputation for its heavy carb content. But it can be indulged in as long as it’s portion controlled. This recipe perfectly shows how to balance out good carbs with plenty of protein and veggies.  

Blazin’ Burgers over Coolin’ Quinoa

Coolin' Quinoa and Blazin' Burgers
Happy Memorial Day! MDW officially kicks off summer, so that summer body better be ready! It’s kind of ironic: we kill ourselves in the gym and with keeping a healthy eating plan, only to spend the summer eating fatty cuts of processed meats, nutrition-less fried startches, and washing it down with adult beverages. Then, it’s a sleigh ride into the holidays and their indulgences so we can start over again next January. Vicious cycle. 

But there are ways to stay on track even when attending fun events like BBQs and beach parties: BYOS (Bring your own sides). While hotdogs and hamburgers aren’t exactly tofu, the proteins aren’t the biggest culprits. Mayonnaise based sides like potato salad and cole slaw and heavily processed potato products like chips and French fries are the real culprits for the extra belly fat. Well, that and the beer (we’ll let you know when we find a comparable substitute for that one ;).

Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad
Quinoa: 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cucumber, half of a large tomato, quarter of a red onion, bunch of cilantro, 1 lime

Quinoa is usually described as a good fill-in for rice, but it’s actually more flexible in that you can serve it either warm or cold. In this case, we are using it as a nice, cooling base for our sizzlin’ hot burgers.

To cook, 1 cup of the quinoa was combined with 1 1/2 cup of water in a pot and boiled until all the water was absorbed. Quinoa does not have much of a taste on its own, so normally we heavily season it to give it a flare. In this case, we added a quarter of the lime and cilantro into the boiling water to add some zest to it. Once cooled, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, cilantro, and the juice of the remaining lime were added. Put in refrigerator to chill. 

Cilantro, Lime, Tomato, Red Onion, Cucumber
burgers on grill
Burgers: For our meat, we choose 1 lb organic, grass fed beef (makes about 5 burgers). It will give you all the flavor of a regular hamburger without the nasty, processed extras. 

To compliment the chilled quinoa, we went extra spicy with our seasonings. Cayenne, chipotle, cumin, black pepper, salt, a pinch of raw sugar, and a dizzle of balsamic vinegar for moisture were added, so these bad boys are anything but flavorless. They were cooked on a stove top grill for about 10-15 mins each side. 

Blazin' Burgers over Coolin' Quinoa
Garnished with avocado and green peppers, the meal has a southwest yet All- American feel. This goes to show you that BBQ food doesn’t have to be fatty and repetitive. Happy summer! 

#Leftoverremix: Chicken Cobb Spaghetti Squash Salad

Chicken Cobb Spaghetti Squash Salad
We have already covered how spaghetti squash makes for a great low carb alternative to pasta. But, that can’t possibly be its only reason for being. What’s great about spaghetti squash is that it’s texture and thickness are applicable to both a hot or cold dish, so adding a bit to a salad gives you a fun new throw-in to keep your salads vibrant and unboring.

We have taken a leftover half of squash from the previous entry using pesto and steak (which also includes instructions on cooking the squash). After forking out the goods and placing it on top of spinach, we added chicken, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, hard boiled egg, avocado, tomatoes and onions. Now, you may say that a cobb salad is not exactly the most healthiest of options, but the fattiest ingredients have been added in moderation (you got to live a little, even with a healthy lifestyle :).

Chicken Cobb Spaghetti Squash Salad 2
You’ll find that the squash is a good absorber of dressings or just the cheese and bacon. So the next time you’re whipping up a Greek, Caesar, or Chef for guests, give them a little yellow shock by throwing in a bit of spaghetti squash. 

Avocado Chicken Salad

Avocado Chicken Salad As I’ve said before, even the most delicious of meals can get boring day in, day out. But, any protein can be spun a different way (#leftoverremix). And given the good feedback that was received for the Avocado Egg Salad, as well as the leftover roasted chicken, Avocado Chicken Salad just seemed like the perfect thing to share.   Shredded Chicken First, every last morsole of chicken has been picked from the bones. I have spared the photo of the chicken carcass (very visceral and Game of Thronesy). Next, the shredded chicken has been seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Smashed avocado  chicken For the cream factor, about 3/4 of a very large haas avocado was used. Also, to give it a little bit of a twist, yellow mustard and a pinch of hot sauce has been added, as well as onion and about 2 teaspoons of chia seeds. While chia seeds don’t exactly add any flavor, they do give a bit of extra moisture. When diluted in liquid, the seeds omit a gel (don’t freak out, you won’t even notice it) that is beneficial for your digestive tract. Why not include that in your meal?Avocado  chicken salad

Also, if you’re looking to avoid carbs, the chicken salad can work well as a dip with carrots or zucchini.  chicken salad with carrots 

  

 

Avocado Egg Salad

 Avocado Egg Salad

There’s a lot of talk about how some fats are good, and some not so much. Mayonnaise certainly falls into the category of “fat” but, 9 times out of 10, it lands in the bad category rather than the good. This is because it’s normally highly processed with partially hydrogenated oils, including Hellman’s, the brand that most associate with Mayo. This kind of oil is bad for both your waistline and your cholesterol. 

But, if you are a fan of the creamy, flavorful taste that mayo brings to the table, try out a more healthy alternative in Avocado. Avocados contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are linked to lowering bad cholesterol and are a good substitute for saturated fat in your diet. And, because they’re a plant of course, they contain other phytonutrients and minerals that your body requires. 

Not only is it a good substitute on a nutritional level, but on a culinary one as well. Pictured above are two hard boiled eggs, mashed with half of a small haas avocado (which I personally find are the best for mashing). Seasoned with salt and pepper, the taste is nearly indistinguishable from regular egg salad and provides the creamy fix with a helping of good fat. Can also fill in well with shrimp, chicken, tuna, or as a regular spread on a sandwich.