07-07-2014

Mini Summertime Pot Pies

Ever get the craving for a certain food… in the wrong season? Chicken pot pies are a winter comfort food but here they are making a summertime appearance!

I added some summer vegetables & lightened up the traditional pot pie recipe to give you this creation below… Super easy & athlete approved!

Mini Summertime Pot Pies

Adapted from: Meal Makeover Moms

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 small can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
1 yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
12 pre made refrigerated biscuits (Immaculate Biscuits)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more.
2. Stir in the chicken, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add in the squash and zucchini. Cook for a couple more minutes.

Mini Pot Pies-1

Mini Pot Pies-2

3. Add 3/4 of the can of cream of chicken soup to the skillet along with the peas and corn stir gently until the sauce is spread evenly, about 2 minutes.

Mini Pot Pies-3
4. To prepare the mini pies, use a muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups (do not coat with nonstick cooking spray). Gently place 1 biscuit into each cup, letting it extend over the sides by gently stretching it.

5. Place a generous 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture into each wrap. Fold the corners up and over the top of the filling and press to seal the edges. They will rise & look like this:

Mini Pot Pies-4
6. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.

Mini Pot Pies-6

Nutrition Facts (1 pot pie): 230 calories, 7g fat, 30g carbs, 2g fiber, 13g protein

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for lunch during the week!

Mini Pot Pies-7

 What’s your favorite “mini” recipe?

Mini Summertime Pot Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6-12
Ingredients
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ small onion, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 small can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
  • 1 yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 12 pre made refrigerated biscuits (
  • Immaculate Biscuits
  • )
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more.
  2. Stir in the chicken, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add in the squash and zucchini. Cook for a couple more minutes.
  3. Add ¾ of the can of cream of chicken soup to the skillet along with the peas and corn stir gently until the sauce is spread evenly, about 2 minutes.
  4. To prepare the mini pies, use a muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups (do not coat with nonstick cooking spray). Gently place 1 biscuit into each cup, letting it extend over the sides by gently stretching it.
  5. Place a generous ¼ cup of the chicken mixture into each wrap. Fold the corners up and over the top of the filling and press to seal the edges.
  6. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.
  7. Nutrition Facts (1 pot pie): 230 calories, 7g fat, 30g carbs, 2g fiber, 13g protein
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 230 calories Fat: 7g Carbohydrates: 30g Fiber: 2g Protein: 13g
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07-04-2014

Happy Fourth

What does the word “freedom” mean to you?  For me, it starts with being thankful for the many freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis… freedom of speech, the ability to choose & share our beliefs. These freedoms, and others, are part of what makes our nation so special.

 

As the late President Eisenhower once stated, “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men, and so it must be daily earned and refreshed.”

 

Army

I am thankful for the many men and women from our past and present who have helped defend these freedoms. I am especially thankful for the many men that I personally worked with over the past year and a half. Whether they are deployed, safe at home with their children or traveling across the country, they have all done more than we will ever fully comprehend.

Most of you know I worked with Special Forces soldiers at my previous job. I’ve always had a strange love for anything involving the military and fighting for our country. My grandfather and uncle both served in the military but it wasn’t that I heard lots of stories from them or even knew much about their journey during that time. I’m just drawn to the men and women who fight for us, for our country, for their kids. It’s amazing and humbling and courageous… all at the same time. How could you not be drawn to a person like that? A person that is willing to sacrifice everything for someone else?

While I was working at THOR3, the “regulars” (guys I met with regarding nutrition) frequently stopped in just to say “hi”. Some of them had just returned from a deployment and were still on leave. Some were heading out soon. A few took the time to sit down and share some of their stories. When we had down time, the stories would go on for a while and get pretty specific. Most of them weren’t happy stories… they were surprising and hard to hear. The stories involved fighting, shooting, wounds and some tragedy. As some of them sat there reliving the story, I could literally see the wounds they spoke of. However, the happy stories came soon after the sad ones… stories of reuniting, plans to visit family, plans to recover & get back in shape using our program of strength training, physical therapy and nutrition.

I’m not sure why these brave men chose to share such personal experiences with me but I will be forever grateful. Few of us get the glimpse into their real lives. Many of us depend on movies made about them, books written about them and stories passed down. I saw into their real lives. Present day lives. And I loved it.

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite days. It’s not about BBQs, beer, or red, white & blue desserts. It’s about remembering that freedom is precious. It’s about remembering that many people are still fighting the good fight. It’s about remembering that while we’re here, they are still overseas.

On this Fourth of July weekend, I hope each of you is blessed to spend time with friends and family. I also hope you will join me in reflecting on how blessed we are to live in a country where freedom is valued and protected. In the midst of the picnics, fireworks and precious time with family and friends, please take a moment to remember those who gave their lives protecting our freedom, and offer a prayer of thanks and safekeeping for those who continue to defend our independence.

Happy Fourth!

 

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07-03-2014

Inside the Life of a Personal Chef!

Personal chef services have really increased in the past few years. With many people lacking cooking skills or time yet still wanting to eat healthy (& homemade!) meals, the market for a Personal Chef is really taking off.

 

I recently came across a really delicious recipe for Basil Pesto Chicken, Farro & Nectarine Salad. I’m always looking for something new to make… and this recipe caught my eye when I saw that it won an original recipe contest. It must be good if it won, right? RIGHT. VERY RIGHT. It was not only easy to make but also became my new favorite lunch meal since it almost tastes better the next day. Almost.

 

The creator of this recipe is Whitney Reist, the owner of Dietitian in the Kitchen. She’s actually a colleague of mine and with both of us making moves in the past couple of years, I completely lost track of her Personal Chef journey. I thought it would be really neat for those of you interested in cooking healthy dishes to see how she got started on this path and how she has done so well running her own business based on healthy & REAL food! Read on for a short interview with Whitney…

 

Whitney Reist Headshot       dietitianinkitchen

 

1.     Did you always know the Personal Chef role was your end goal?

Absolutely not!   This was an opportunity that evolved for me as I was in culinary school and still working as an Oncology dietitian at Baylor University Medical Center.   To further practice what I was learning at Le Cordon Bleu and help pay my tuition, I moved in with a family and worked as their live-in personal chef.

Through  experience at school and working as a live-in personal chef, I began to see that working as a personal chef was something I wanted to pursue for a career.  By the time I had graduated culinary school, I had enough people interested in using me as a personal chef that I decided to do it on a part-time basis.  After about 6 months of doing this, I made the decision to resign my position at the cancer center and took on more personal chef clients so I could do it on a full-time basis.

 

2.    What helped you the most when trying to combine good nutrition with tasty food? 

Remembering that simple preparation methods with highest quality ingredients are what makes healthy food look and taste most delicious.  Buying ingredients seasonally, using fresh herbs and bold spices, and using citrus juices to brighten flavors are key tips for making this happen as well!

 

3.    What’s your advice to those just starting to cook healthy for themselves?

Make a small goal that you can easily attain to start out with.  That may be cooking a healthy meal 3 times per week and making enough to have leftovers the next day.  Planning your menu of what you will cook a week to a month ahead of time is also key to making your goal happen.  The last thing you want to do is get to the day that you are supposed to cook and not know what you want to make and on top of that have to shop for the ingredients.

 

4.     What’s one (or more) good resource you recommend when looking for recipes?

My favorite healthy recipe sites with simple preparation techniques and minimal ingredients are www.cookinglight.com and www.myrecipes.com.  You can search for recipes to fit in specific diets, calorie ranges, and save them to menus as well as create shopping lists for the recipes you choose.  Both sites are a “one stop shop” for planning, organizing, and making healthy cooking happen!

 

5.    Do you remember your first “aha” moment when you made a really delicious yet healthy recipe? What was it?

This would definitely be when I made Basil Pesto at home for the first time and started adding a bunch of spinach or arugula to it.  It was a nutrition powerhouse condiment that tasted amazing and looked beautiful.  I learned that I could take salads, grains, pasta dishes, fish and chicken dishes to the next level with a spoonful or two of this delicious stuff in minutes!  It also makes a good pizza topping, sandwich spread, and egg mix-in.  The possibilities are truly endless!

 

6.    Any suggestions for time management when the average person is trying to meal prep for a few hours on the weekend?

Yes – I will even provide tips with bullet points for extra organization!

  • Make a prep list – before you start your cook day, jot down a list of the recipes you will make in order that you are going to make them.  This will keep you focused and organized while ensuring that you won’t forget anything in the hustle and bustle of cooking.
  • Follow the rule of “Mis en Place” – Have all of your ingredients and cooking tools that you need for the day organized and within easy reach on your countertops before you start cooking.  Making multiple trips to your fridge, pantry, and cabinets add lots of time to your cooking day, so try to minimize this as much as possible.
  • Streamline putting a recipe together by having all your veggies and/or fruit washed and cut into the size you will use before you start cooking.  Also measure spices, dry ingredients, and liquids before you put the recipe together.

 

7.    How did you learn to pair certain flavors with foods?

I read LOTS of recipes and cookbooks – this is something that’s somewhat of a hobby for me.  I find it so intriguing to note the differences in how different authors and magazines write recipes and the flavors that they tend to pair together.  After a while, I notice trends in food pairings that I try in my own kitchen and then from there figure out what my personal pairing preferences are.

 

8.   Do you have any go-to recipes for a quick weeknight dinner that is fail-proof?

I find that if you always have a whole-grain bread/flatbread/wrap available with low fat cheese, a lean protein, and 2-3 vegetable options with a marinara sauce, hot sauce, or salsa that a healthy well-balanced pizza or Panini sandwich is only a few minutes away from satisfying a hungry belly!  This never fails to be our go-to on busy nights when we are tired and time is limited.  I also try to keep 1-2 dishes in the freezer for backup dinners – enchiladas, chilis, and soups tend to work well for this strategy.

 

9.    Do you have advice for those interested in pursuing a personal chef career & targeting clients that want healthy options?

Before you get started, it’s important to know what your state’s health codes are in the event that you ever need to cook out of your own kitchen or to know if that is even an option.  I prefer to cook food in my client’s kitchen so that I can store it for them as it is prepared and limit liability issues.  Applying for an LLC is also worth the time and effort.

For obtaining clients, word of mouth has been my most valuable avenue of advertisement.  Talk to people everywhere you go about your business – wear your chefs coat to the grocery store when shopping for yourself to drum up conversation with potential clients and visit gyms and health clubs to talk about your services.  Chef In Demand has a great blog and LinkedIn community that offers wonderful advice for personal chefs looking to build their business and find clients quickly.

 

…Head on over to Whitney’s site where you can get the recipe for this amazing dish:

Salad Smackdown Banner

 

Questions for Whitney? Have you ever considered using a Personal Chef or becoming one? Leave a comment below!

 

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06-30-2014

Sweet & Salty Snacks: Featuring Sahale!

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Many of us tend to get in a rut with our snacks. We find something easy, convenient to pack up for the work (or school) day, and hopefully *healthy* too.

Some of my go-to snacks are fruit, hardboiled eggs, almonds & Kind bars. A new snack food I’ve come across is definitely sprucing up the snack time!

Sahale Snacks has a few different nut & fruit mixes: Glazed nuts, Sahale crunchers, Premium blends, Nut & fruit mixes and Grab & go snacks. I’ve come across some of their Grab & go snacks before while traveling, but recently I tried a few of the Premium blends… and I have to say: YUM!

Out of the flavors I tried, I found Pomegranate Pistachio & the Crunchers {Cherries, Apple and Maple} to go really well on a cheese plate when entertaining friends. They have a slightly sweet but also salty flavor that goes along with cheese just right.

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The Maple Pecan Premium blend was just right served over some Greek vanilla yogurt.

The absolute BEST part of this company… their products are made with real, whole foods. No preservatives. No artificial sugars.

From the Sahale Website:

We use whole ingredients in their natural form — such as cashews, almonds, pecans, and pistachios — and combine them with naturally dried and preservative-free (unsulphured) fruits, then add fabulous ingredients like organic honey, lemongrass, balsamic vinegar, or pure ground Madagascar vanilla beans. They are delicious snacks that go beyond ordinary.

Since they do use ALL real ingredients and no artificial sweetener, it’s important to remember portion size! These blends make the perfect topping or little snack, but avoid consuming the whole bag in one sitting. Many athletes struggle with under-eating throughout the day, especially those trying to put on muscle mass. For these athletes, this is a great dense snack for getting in quality nutrition & gaining or maintaining weight. For the weight-loss athletes, watch the portion size & even try separating portions into small size Ziploc baggies for easy snacking access throughout the week.

One portion comes out to 1/4 cup of the blend with ~120-160 calories, ~9g fat, ~12-15g carbs and ~5g protein. The carbohydrate and protein ratio is actually great for someone needing a small snack. For a more substantial pick-me-up or a small meal, pair it with a Greek yogurt or a cup of fresh fruit. For those trying to gain weight, use 2% Greek yogurt & use 1/2 cup of the blend with 1-2 cups fresh fruit.

Since Sahale snacks is known for their innovative creations, I plan to find even more ways to use these yummy concoctions… I’m already thinking energy bites, blended granola bars & possibly smoothies?!

 

Have you tried the Sahale snacks before? What’s your favorite way to snack with them?

 

 

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06-11-2014

Spotlight on: Lemon

Summer is really here! I don’t know about you, but summer makes me think of snow cones, BBQs and lemonade.

The classic lemonade is always tasty in the summer heat or while lounging by the pool, but what about something with more health benefits and less sugar??

I come across lots of lemon “detox” drinks that have way too many funky ingredients in them… so I decided to try a simple mix of some fruit & mint for a refreshing Citrus Mint Lemonade.

Some benefits of consuming lemon/lemon juice on a regular basis include…

Vitamin C: antioxidant that works against free radicals

Beneficial for the liver: dissolvent of uric acid & other poisons

Powerful antibacterial properties

Lemon juice helps to cure problems related to indigestion and constipation

For those of you wanting to try it – here’s the recipe!

Ingredients

1 cup cubed pineapple
1/2 orange, peeled
3/4-1 lemon, peeled
16 oz brewed green tea
8-10 mint leaves

Directions

Bring 16oz water to a boil. Add in 2-3 green tea bags of your choice and let steep for 3-4 minutes (do this while you peel the fruit & get it ready).

Peel orange & lemon. Cut pineapple if needed. Add the fruit & mint leaves to the blender.

Summer Lemonade-2
When tea is ready, add 16oz green tea to the blender.

Summer Lemonade-1
Blend it up!

It tastes best when chilled, so leave it in the fridge for a while before serving or pour over ice.

Summer Lemonade-4

Nutrition Facts {8oz lemonade}: 63 calories, 0g fat, 16g carbs, 2.5g fiber, 1g protein

 

 

Spotlight on: Lemon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Perfect summer drink!
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • ½ orange, peeled
  • ¾-1 lemon, peeled
  • 16 oz brewed green tea
  • 8-10 mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Bring 16oz water to a boil. Add in 2-3 green tea bags of your choice and let steep for 3-4 minutes (do this while you peel the fruit & get it ready).
  2. Peel orange & lemon. Cut pineapple if needed. Add the fruit & mint leaves to the blender.
  3. When tea is ready, add 16oz green tea to the blender.
  4. Blend it up!
  5. It tastes best when chilled, so leave it in the fridge for a while before serving or pour over ice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 8 oz Calories: 63 Fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 2.5g Protein: 1g
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