It's Winter & Soup's On!

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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Soup is one of the best parts of winter. It's warm, it's comforting, and one pot meals are super easy. Plus the varieties are endless. And as I discovered last year, January is National Soup Month. So I had to share with you a couple of my tried and true favorite soups to keep you nourished and healthy through the winter months. I hope you enjoy them. I'd also love to hear about your favorite soup recipes, so please share!

Bean & Chicken Sausage Stew

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

**Marci's suggestion: I'd also throw in crushed red pepper and a dash of your favorite Italian seasoning blend. I love seasoning blends and blogged about them here Spices are my all-time favorite for blends.

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
**Marci's suggestion: if you like heat, get fire-roasted for added flavor 1 bunch kale leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces
**Marci's suggestion: save time and buy the super convenient bag of pre-chopped kale kosher salt and black pepper

1 loaf country bread (optional)

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic (and any additional spices you want to add) and cook for 2 minutes more.
Add the beans, broth, and tomatoes and their liquid and bring to a boil.
Add the kale and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the bread, if using.

 

Red Lentil Soup With Lemon
Time: 45 minutes
 
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils (I used yellow lentils, don't think it mattered)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste (all I had was a lime, worked great)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (didn't have on hand, didn't miss it)
 
Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

TBT: Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salad

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I originally posted this recipe last summer so I'm calling this Throwback Tuesday. This is one of my favorite and easiest recipes. It's Spring (although admittedly feels like late Fall here in Boston) and this salmon dish is perfect for grilling! But if you aren't ready to fire up the grill quite yet, it's a cinch to prep this indoors. Enjoy!

You have probably already heard but the omega-3s in salmon are fantastic for brain health and mood regulation. Around 4-6 ounces of salmon per week is a super boost to your health!

Salmon Ingredients

1 lb salmon, cut into 2 pieces
Garlic salt, ground cumin, paprika powder, chili powder, cayenne (if you like spice)- lightly sprinkle on top of the salmon, no need to measure it out. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Avocado Salsa
1 avocado, sliced
½ small red onion, diced
Juice from 2 limes
1-2 tbs finely chopped cilantro (depending on how big of a cilantro lover you are)
Salt to taste (I used garlic salt)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil for easy clean up and place your salmon on top. Sprinkle with seasoning and bake for 15-20 min depending on how well you like your salmon cooked.

While the salmon is baking, mix the salsa ingredients together. The marinating of flavors does all the work for you.

Serve the salmon topped with a hearty portion of the avocado salsa and any sides you like. I strongly recommend adding some mango to the mix. It's the perfect blend of flavors and unbelievably delicious.

Breakfast Cookies? YES PLEASE!

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Friday, February 06, 2015
  

I love cookies. They might be my favorite dessert. It's actually a toss up between cookies, cake, and brownies which makes up like 75% of dessert options. I digress...I also like a very simple breakfast because as much as I would like to make more time for breakfast, I don't. So when I started seeing recipes for breakfast cookies it sort of felt like a revelation. 

I'm really excited to share this particular recipe with you because it's really yummy. The texture and flavor combination is super duper satisfying. And they're also nutritious. They contain this awesome blend of whole grains, fiber, and healthy fats. I like decadent baked goods as much as the next girl (have you been to Ohlin's Donuts???) but for a quick breakfast option that's rooted in solid nutrition for the day to day, this will be a new go-to. 

I like to pair a cookie or two with yogurt and fruit for a balanced meal. They also make a totally lovely snack mid-afternoon without the sugar rush that leaves you feel kind of sleepy. If you make them, let me know what you think!

To be clear, I didn't develop this recipe. I found it at random on this website. But my linking to the recipe is not necessarily an endorsement of the site, I haven't read anything else on it!

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flaxmeal (ground flaxseeds)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 cup raisins
INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, and maple syrup. Mix on medium until well-blended.
Add in the flour, oats, flaxmeal, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Mix on medium until well-blended.
Fold in the raisins using a wooden spoon.
Drop rounded tablespoonfulls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch between cookies. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and solid. Let cool for five minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire baking rack to cool completely.

Putting the Smooth in Smoothie

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, August 16, 2014

Original post located here on The Academy for Nutrition and Dietetic's Blog- Stone Soup.


As a dietitian, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been way behind the smoothie bandwagon. Sure, I've made smoothies before. But over the past year or so, juicing and blending everything — from spinach and kale to berries and chia seeds — has become quite a food trend.

Now, as summer temperatures settle in Boston, I decided that the time for smoothie making had come, and the Dynablend Horsepower Plus blender was going to be my tool.

I'm a believer in using whole foods rather than supplements. Most of us aren't athletes and don't require large amounts of any one nutrient (like protein). So I wanted to find a couple of different smoothie recipes that provide balanced nutrition using whole foods. But I was also eager to blend up some different ingredients that I had never used in a smoothie before. I also wanted these ingredients to challenge the Dynablend.

In the past, I used a so-so blender that stalled out and left massive chunks of food in my smoothies. I was hopeful that this shiny new blender could put the "smooth" back in "smoothie."

Test #1: The Pink Breakfast Smoothie

After scouring Pinterest, I decided on two different but yummy sounding smoothies. The first, called "The Pink Breakfast Smoothie," caught my attention because it's a fully balanced meal in a glass. It contains a banana, oats, honey, peanut butter, almond milk — all ingredients I love! Plus, I was eager to see how the Dynablend would handle the oats. Let me say — it was absolutely fabulous.

The Dynablend created a smooth-yet-thick drink that was not only delicious but successfully kept me full for a few hours. I used the 60-second blend button which uses a variety of mixing speeds and pulses. After one use, I was sold, both on the smoothie recipe and the blender!

Test #2: A "Damn Delicious" Blueberry Green Smoothie

The second was a blueberry green smoothie from the blog Damn Delicious. This was my first attempt at using both chia seeds and spinach (along with those ingredients, this was made with frozen blueberries and raspberries, banana, milk, oats, and sugar) in a smoothie. I couldn't wait to see how it would turn out.

It was oh-so-good! The color was not the least bit green, which is useful because many people are averse to trying a green smoothie because of the color. For those afraid of drinking your greens, know that this one tasted like a good, old-fashioned fruit smoothie. But the great news is that it's packed with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, omega-3s and antioxidants. This is literally a powerhouse in a glass.

The only caveat is that this drink did not come out as smooth. Between the chia seeds and the little blueberry seeds, it was a much grittier drink, even with the Dynablend's powerful motor. I don't mind this but if you or a family member don't like textures, this might not be the drink for you.

After my experimenting I can say that I am in love with the Dynablend Horsepower Plus — and I am an official smoothie convert. As Dynablend's marketing materials attest, it is one of the most powerful and affordable blenders on the market. I whole-heartedly agree and can't wait to see what new recipes I can add to my repertoire with this great addition to my cabinet of culinary gadgets.


Morning Bars

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A friend of mine passed along the following recipe for a homemade granola bar and I'm completely in love. These bars are simple to make and super filling. They are a fun breakfast alternative with fruit and milk or make a great afternoon snack. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
Cooking spray
2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats (gluten-Free, if needed)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped (by hand or in food processor)
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or any other milk you prefer)
1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal, use GF, if needed (I used Whole Foods brand)
1 cup natural, unsweetened almond butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and then spray with nonstick spray.

Spread the oats and pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl; add the chopped cranberries.

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the multi-grain cereal and remove from the heat; let stand for 2 minutes. Add the nut or seed butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat for 6 to 7 minutes or until thickened; remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Immediately add the cereal mixture to the oats mixture, mixing with a spatula until coated.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and flatten with the back of a measuring cup.
Place a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper atop the bar mixture and use it to spread, flatten, and very firmly compact the bars evenly in the pan. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil or parchment and cut into 16 bars.