japchae (Korean glass noodle stir fry) with beef.

Have you ever heard of japchae? I hadn’t, until I was standing amongst boxes and bags of noodles at the Asian section of my grocery store. I was intrigued by a small tube of sweet potato glass noodles. I am always on the lookout for gluten free noodles, as I try to limit my gluten intake as I tend to have an inflammatory reaction if I consume too much. On the package of the sweet potato noodles, there was a recipe for japchae, which was compromised of stir fried vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, squash), tossed with a simple soy and sesame sauce, served with thinly sliced beef. Sold! Once I got home, I did a little research into japchae, and immediately added it to list of must make dishes.

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I am so glad I did! Japchae is a dish that is typically served at parties and special occasions. It is so flexible! Can be served hot or cold, as a side dish with just the veggies and noodles, or served as a main dish, topped with meat, seafood or tofu, like I did here. You can use any vegetables that you have in your fridge, or that are in season. I used baby white mushrooms, julienned carrots, and napa cabbage, topped with scallions and sesame seeds. You can use any vegetable that you would use in a stir fry – bell pepper or green beans would be delicious here! I went veggie-heavy as per usual, but you can scale down or up to suit your ingredients and your preferences.

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These noodles are treated in a similar fashion to rice noodles. Soak them in warm but not boiling hot water for 30 minutes, and then once ready to use, you will cook them in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then add to the pan with the vegetables, beef and sauce. These are the brand of noodles I used:

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As a bonus, this dish is incredibly  travel friendly. It can be eaten hot, warm, room temperature, cold, you name it! I particularly enjoyed it straight out of the fridge; the flavors had time to meld and the texture of the noodles was best when cold. Enjoy this Korean specialty, all!

japchae with beef.

ingredients
4 ounces sweet potato glass noodles
1/4 cup low sodium tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup napa cabbage leaves, sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, light and dark parts, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
8-10 ounces top sirloin or flank steak

directions
Soak noodles in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes. Cook in boiling water for 30 seconds, and drain. Run cool water over the cooked noodles to stop the cooking process and then toss with a half a teaspoon of sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Combine tamari, coconut palm sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside 2/3 of marinade. Use the remaining 1/3 to marinate the steak for at least one hour, but can leave up to 12.

To cook steak: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat and sprinkle the steak with black pepper (no salt needed as the tamari is salty). Cook 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5-6 minutes for medium/medium well. Remove, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice very thinly against the grain. Set aside.

Heat the hot chili oil and grapeseed oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, and then add the cabbage and mushrooms. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes longer, just until vegetables soften slightly and get color to them. Add the steak, noodles and reserved marinade and reduce heat to medium, stir frying everything together for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Plate on a large serving bowl/platter, and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately, or chill prior to serving.

Serves 2-3.

simple red lentil dal.

Have you ever had dal? Dals are an Indian staple, and come in a variety of styles. Today I am making a simple, classic red lentil dal that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

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Dals are a staple in Indian cuisine and there are about a million different recipes out there. This is the first dal I ever made, and I always go back to it. At its simplest, it is lentils, tomatoes, and spices. Served with rice or naan, or both!, it is extremely flavorful, comforting and nutritious.

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Dal could keep me going for weeks, and I know if you try it, you’ll feel the exact same as I do. As a bonus, dals freeze incredibly well, so make a double batch, portion it out, and you can have a comforting Indian classic in less time it’ll take you to order takeout!

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simple red lentil dal.

ingredients
1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup tomatoes, seeded (I used a combination of fresh and canned roma)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
cooked brown or white basmati rice, for serving
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

directions
In a 3 quart saucepan/skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent and the garlic and ginger become fragrant.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes, to allow the spices to toast and ‘bloom’ (you’ll know when they bloom as they become very fragrant and bright). Add the chopped tomatoes and lentils. Stir for a minute and then add the 3 cups of water or stock.

Increase the heat to a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for the doneness of the lentils after 15. Lentils should be soft but not completely broken down. Stir and remove from heat; the dal will thicken as it stands.

Serve with steamed rice or naan if desired, and top with cilantro. Serves 4 for an entree.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

light chinese chicken salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette.

It seems ubiquitous that my 100th post(!) is a salad. I suppose it would be completely appropriate if my salad was lemon-themed, but let’s face it, I am just not that organized, and lemons were not in my meal plan this week, aside from my daily warm lemon water routine (<– SO good for you!).

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However, today’s recipe is a salad of Asian inspiration, which is fitting, seeing as Asian flavors are ones that I never, ever tire of. Do you have flavors/cuisines like that? Even with the copious and frankly embarrassing amounts of ginger I consume on a weekly basis, I can never get enough. So I bring you a light and healthy Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think this recipe is authentically Chinese in any realm, but these salads have enjoyed massive popularity for years. Sadly, most restaurant versions are positively laden with sodium and fat, and before you know it, your “healthy” meal has turned into a calorie bomb. No thank you.

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Here, we are grilling our lean chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless thigh meat if that’s what you prefer), throwing tons of delicious veggies into our salad, and topping off with a delicious dressing that is rich, thanks to the sesame oil, but not cloying at all. Sliced, roasted almonds provide the crunch factor, and provide us with healthy fats which keep us fuller, longer. This is one recipe I can make over and over again, and never tire of. I hope it’ll do the same for you!

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light + healthy chinese chicken salad.
inspired by many of the Chinese chicken salads I’ve had over the years. 

1 heart of romaine, chopped
2 cups savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup roasted, sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
sea salt and black pepper

dressing:
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

directions
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients except oil into a blender. With the blender on medium, stream in the tablespoon of oil to emulsify. Pour into a container and set aside.

To cook chicken: Turn the grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet onto/over medium-high. Season chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. If using a grill pan or skillet, add in one teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the pan to heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter, and cut into thin slices.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl add cabbage, lettuce, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. Add half the dressing, and lightly toss. Top with chicken and additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish salads.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.

Do you ever get an idea in your head and it will. not. go. away. until you make it?? That is today’s recipe for me. A colleague brought in leftover stuffed peppers (mmmmmm) a few weeks ago for lunch, and an idea suddenly popped in my head: chicken parmesan stuffed peppers. Sounds delicious, right? Well, I thought so too, so I looked around on the internet and the few recipes I could find weren’t calling out to me, so I decided to create them. If I do say so myself, these are a winner.

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Inside of frying the chicken a la chicken parm, I decided to impart that crispy crunchiness by topping the peppers with a whole wheat panko, cheese and parsley topping. Delicious, and a great way to cut down on calories. We are using whole wheat orzo pasta in the filling, but feel free to use regular orzo pasta. I also found these super cute teeny tiny little fresh mozzarella balls, but any small fresh mozzarella will work for this. Mine were about 1/2 inch big, but you could always buy a big ball of it, and cut it down. That would probably be more economical, but hey, I was all about convenience, and cuteness.

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This recipe seems long, but it’s really just cooking each component, adding them together, and then assembling the peppers. Beautiful! My friend James and I devoured these the night I made them. The recipe makes five as written, and three of my peppers were on the smaller side. One big one was almost too much. As with many casserole type dishes, these get better the next day.

A portable, healthy way to get my chicken parmesan craving? yes, please!

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.
a ‘PTL’ original recipe. 

ingredients
12-15 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached or roasted, shredded or cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
scant one cup whole wheat orzo, cooked
5 assorted bell peppers, tops cut off, seeded, tops reserved and diced (preferably red/orange/yellow)
1/2 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup fresh baby mozzarella balls
1 1/2 cups jarred marinana sauce, 1/2 cup reserved
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

topping:
1/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon each)
5 baby mozzarella balls (optional)
fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oval 2 quart dish, add cut peppers, standing up to the dish. Cover with foil, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes to slightly soften the peppers. Remove dish and let cool. Set aside.

To cook the chicken: Heat a deep skillet with one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, cover and let cook for 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat, let cook for 3-5 minutes, and then shred or cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat a pot with boiling water and cook orzo to package directions for al dente. Remove, strain, and then add cooled orzo to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Make the panko topping: combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper. Toss together with a fork.

While orzo is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium high heat with remaining tablespoon of oil. Add diced onion, diced pepper tops, and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring often for 5-7 minutes, until slightly softened and lightly charred. Remove and add to mixing bowl. Add cooked, chopped chicken, marinara sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, basil and crushed red pepper is using. Lightly toss. Add baby mozzarella balls and lightly toss again.

Using a spoon, carefully fill each pepper with filling to the top of the pepper. Add a small spoonful of sauce to each top, and spoon the remaining sauce around the peppers in the casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to assess softening of peppers. Once peppers “give” a little (about 45 minutes), remove foil, add the panko topping, and top each pepper with remaining mozzarella ball. Turn the oven to the broil setting, and broil for 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them to ensure no burning.

Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes. Serve, topped with ribbons of basil.

Serves 5.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.

The cider love continues! This dinner is super fast and perfect for a weeknight. In my overzealous fall shopping, I picked up a gallon of local apple cider. Turns out, I don’t really drink all that much apple cider, so after a week or so, I still had over half of the gallon left. Cider makes a delicious pan sauce, and this one is so simple. Just cider, dijon, salt, pepper and finished with a pat of butter. So much flavor with very little effort!

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I used a whisk to break up the mustard and smoothly incorporate it into the apple cider. This will bubble, and you’ll want to stir and/or whisk it often while it thickens. No cornstarch necessary here! Butter at the end makes the sauce oh-so silky and rich. Perfect for the chicken, although this would be equally delicious with pork chops or tenderloin. This sauce is SO. DELICIOUS. I loved the bitter greens agains the sweet sauce, but pick your favorite veggie if swiss chard isn’t for you.

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This comes together in under 20 minutes, making it a super fast and elegant weeknight dish that will make the return of short days that much easier!

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.
adapted from cooking light. 

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ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4)*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

swiss chard:
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pinch of sea salt
splash (1 teaspoon-ish) red wine or cider vinegar

directions
Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to remove all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes while sauce is bubbling until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat, and swirl in tablespoon of butter. Pour over chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat heat. Add minced garlic clove, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add swiss chard to pan, and add crushed red pepper and sea salt. Toss together for one minute, and add in slash of red wine vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, until the swiss chard begins to wilt. If finished before the pan sauce, remove from heat and cover.

Serves 4.

*I typically buy a pound chicken breasts, which yields two breasts in a package. I cut each breast in half, and pound to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness with a meat mallet.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats.

I know this is my second zucchini recipe in a row, but if you’re anything like me, you are positively overflowing with zucchini right now. I tell you, every summer! My grandmother gifted me with a few from her garden, and while most of them were of normal size, there was one gigantic squash. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I waited for inspiration to strike. I had just made cookies, so I didn’t want to use it for another baked good. I wanted to use the whole thing in one dish, so I decided on stuffed zucchini, or zucchini ‘boats’! I decided to play around with the flavors for this recipe, and went with Mexican flavors.

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Stuffed with Tex-Mex spiced ground chicken, hearty healthy black beans, and rounded out with some extra vegetables, and we have a very healthy take on tacos!

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Naturally gluten free, the filling is chock full of protein, thanks to the black beans and lean ground chicken. If you’re avoiding dairy, just omit the jack cheese and the cotija.

Now I had a huge squash, so a quarter of the squash would serve on person. If you have normal sized zucchinis, you can plan on one half per person for a medium sized one, or two halves for a small squash. This comes together quickly and is so incredibly filling!

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats. 

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ingredients
2 large or 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with seeds scooped out
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning (homemade or purchased)
1 10 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup of salsa, plus extra for serving
monterey jack cheese, for serving
cotija cheese, for serving
cilantro, for serving
sea salt
black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray each zucchini half. Place skin side up and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is shimmery and hot, add the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add your taco seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Add in bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in fire roasted tomatoes with chiles and salsa. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer softly until everything is heated through and the flavors combine (about 5 additional minutes).

To assemble: Divide the chicken mixture evenly amongst the zucchini boats, top with desired melting cheese (NOT cotija) and put into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve, topping with cotija and cilantro. Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**