Category Archives: Quick

How I Prep Chicken & Grilled Veggies

I am a big-time food prepper.  In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle it has to be easy and for me that means keeping healthy food in the fridge ready to go.  It’s easy to grab some carbs to round out a meal, so having some protein and veggies ready is key.

For years now I have been prepping mass quantities of chicken breasts every few weeks.  I’d rather do a WHOLE BUNCH every once in a while than every few days.  BBQ in bulk I say.

This is the method that works for me and I thought it might be of interest to you.  My Greek marinade recipe is so simple and not a perfect science in that it is a little bit different every time…I don’t do any precise measurements when I make it.  Growing-up my parents made a Greek Lemon Oregano Chicken and that is what this is based on.

With regards to counting macros, I know some people would count the lemon and the olive oil, but I take a somewhat laid-back approach to that and don’t include that in my daily macros because let’s be honest, most of the olive oil cooks off on the BBQ and just makes it so it doesn’t stick to the grill.  Now, if my chicken had a sauce poured over it after it had been prepared and was served to me that way, I would most definitely count that in my daily macros.

For the “cup” measurements I just use those that are written on the side of my Vitamix.  Today I doubled the recipe since I was making 15 chicken breasts as well as 2 bunches of grilled asparagus.

Balanced Grettie Greek Lemon Oregano Marinade Collage

Greek Lemon Oregano Marinade

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup organic olive oil (I buy mine at Costco)
  • 1 head of garlic, break apart the cloves and peel them
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs whole pepper corns
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano

Method

Place all ingredients EXCEPT for the dried oregano into the Vitamix and blend until smooth.  Add the dried oregano and blend briefly so you preserve the leaves and don’t pulverize them (just personal preference).

CHICKEN & VEGGIE PREP

When it comes to prepping the chicken, the best trick I have discovered is to pound it.  By pounding the chicken and making it all the same thickness, you end-up with evenly cooked chicken and chicken that BBQs a heck of a lot faster!  It is super moist vs. having uneven dry spots like so often happens with THICK chicken breasts  (as long as you don;t overcook it!).

I allow the chicken to marinade for 4-8 hours…with this amount of lemon overnight would be TOO much (learned that the hard way)!  Make sure you reserve some of the marinade for your veggies.  This works awesome with asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.

I like to place a flat black trash bag on my counter in order to avoid chicken juice flying everywhere (and it makes the clean-up a snap).  I also pound the chicken inside a produce bag from the grocery store for the same reason.  As for how the rest of the prep goes…I’ll tell it in pictures.

Balanced Grettie Chicken Prep pounded

Balanced Grettie Lemon oregano Greek Chicken prep pounding method Balanced Grettie Marinating Asparagus in a bag

Chicken Asparagus Prep 2

Once my chicken is BBQ’d and has cooled, I put about 4 breasts in the fridge and I vacuum pack bags of 4 and put them in the freezer.  When I am running out of prepped chicken in the fridge I pull out a bag from the freezer and defrost it in cold water (MUCH better result than defrosting in the microwave…I’m not a huge microwave fan).

Do any of you have food prep tricks you’d like to share?

 

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Filed under Gluten Free, IIFYM and Macros, Main Dish, Nutrition, Paleo, Quick, Quick Tips, Recipes, Sauce / Spread / Jam / Yogurt

High Protein Taco Trick

High Protein Taco Trick

I thought I’d share a quick trick with you that will help you get more protein in your diet.

The one glaring consistency I see among my clients is that prior to working with me they drastically under-eat protein.  Most of my clients struggle at first to find ways to add protein to their diets and this is one solution I use frequently in my own meals.

Egg whites are an amazing source of protein and they make an appearance on my table daily in one form or another.

To make the high protein taco base, I spray some olive oil (a tiny bit) into a pan, add in my measured egg whites (I used 1/3c per taco today), season with salt, top with a corn tortilla (I like the Don Pancho corn tortillas…only 10g carbs per tortilla), top with a cover and cook until no longer liquid, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

I love this method because it keeps the egg and tortilla together vs. trying to add scrambled egg whites to a taco which just ends-up getting messy and falling apart.

Today I had three tacos for lunch.  The egg whites and corn tortilla usually form the base of my taco because it is filling and nutritious…the toppings change and vary between:

  • grilled chicken
  • pulled pork (my husband makes the most amazing pulled pork!)
  • shrimp*
  • white fish
  • salmon
  • steak

*I have been buying shrimp pre-cooked from Costco and pre-portioning it into 3oz. bags to keep in the freezer for quick meals

You can pretty much guarantee that I will usually add:

  • Good Foods guacamole (the singles from Costco are a favorite)
  • Tapatillo
  • shredded cabbage (for further bulk)

What are your favorite tricks for getting your daily protein in???

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Filed under Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Protein, Quick, Quick Tips, Recipes

EGG-FREE PALEO MACAROONS

Elana's Pantry Egg-Free Paleo Macaroonsphoto provided courtesy of elanaspantry.com

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Summer is here for my kids…yay!!!  School just got out and I couldn’t be happier.  I just made these Egg-Free Paleo Macaroons and they are in the oven as I type.  The macaroons came together insanely fast and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry.  If the batter is any indication, these are going to be amazing.

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Egg-Free Paleo Macaroons

Recipe provided courtesy of Elana’s Pantry

  1. In a food processor, combine shredded coconut and coconut flour
  2. Pulse in salt, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla
  3. Dough will form a ball
  4. Scoop batter 1 level tablespoon at a time onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  5. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes
  6. Cool and serve

Makes 12 macaroons

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Cookies / Bars, Dessert, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

CHINESE-STYLE GRAPEFRUIT

grapefruit (4)

I have learned so much marrying into a Chinese family.  One of the first observations my husband and I made relating to our cultural differences was that (in general) Chinese people do not eat raw vegetables (salad is not a very Chinese dish) and they don’t cook their fruit (he tried apple pie for the first time with me).

Chinese people are also very big on peeling fruit.  Whereas I LOVE apple peels, etc. my husband had to acquire the taste since his father always peeled his apples (and the rest of the fruit he ate).

My father-in-law will painstakingly remove the membranes from my children’s tangerines.  Tangerine membranes are quite thin which makes this a very time-consuming job.

Fortunately it is SO EASY to remove the membranes from grapefruit and pomelos.  I had never eaten a pomelo before meeting my husband.  I always liked grapefruit, but I hated the time it took to prepare them buy cutting around the membranes, etc.  All of this changed when my hubby showed me the Chinese way.  The membranes on grapefruits and pomelos are very thick and loose which makes removing them a cinch.

grapefruit chinese style collage

The white grapefruits at my local farmer’s market are so sweet and juicy right now which means that I have been eating a lot of them…always the Chinese way.  I remove the peel from the grapefruit and keep them in the fridge (whole) so they are ready for a quick snack.  Remove the membranes as you eat them (this will keep them fresh).

Have any of you tried eating grapefruit or pomelos this way?

grapefruit segment collage

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Filed under Quick, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

SKINNY BITCH CHILI

I originally blogged about this Skinny Bitch chili recipe HERE and thought I would re-post the recipe since it is an awesome FAST and EASY one to make for the Super Bowl.

This chili tastes great over polenta, brown rice, with a side of cornbread or on its own.

DEB’S CHILI – Yields 6 servings

2 Tbs grapeseed oil (I omitted this)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 (4-ounce) can green chilis, diced
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, diced
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
2/3 cup vegan cheddar cheese, shredded (I omitted this)
1/4 cup vegan sour cream (I omitted this)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until soft, about 5 minutes (I water sautéed mine). Stir in the chilis, taco seasoning, tomatoes, kidney beans, and black beans. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes (after water sautéing the onions I threw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker around lunchtime and kept it on low until dinner).

Serve with salsa, cheese, and sour cream.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Holiday, Main Dish, Quick, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

UNFRIED TOFU & EZ Tofu Press Giveaway

Fried Tofu

I have been making this well-loved tofu dish for years, however due to my hypothyroid issues (click HERE for more details) I have avoided soy for a while now.  If it weren’t for my thyroid issues, I would include tofu, tempeh, and edamame in my diet…I don’t think there is any harm (actually there are benefits) to including unprocessed soy items in your diet rotation.  Having said that, I would avoid the processed soy foods that are über plentiful in the market today.

The creator of the EZ Tofu Press ($26.99) recently contacted me and offered to send me a free sample of his product to test and review.  I own the TofuXpress which retails for $39.95 now, but I paid nearly $50 for it when I purchased it…ouch!!!

I was curious to see how the two tofu presses compared.  While I like the fact that the TofuXpress I already own and use is a completely self-contained unit, it takes a hours for the tofu to drain completely which is a drag and means that you absolutely have to plan ahead.  The new EZ Tofu Press seriously drained completely within 7 minutes!  I put the tofu in the press, prepared the rest of the ingredients for my meal, and the tofu was ready to go.  Major bonus.

EZ Tofu Press Collage

The EZ Tofu Press was also easy to clean…all I needed to do was rinse it off.  Make sure you go to the bottom of the post and learn how you can enter to win your very own EZ Tofu Press.

The traditional way to prepare this tofu dish is to fry it in a bit of oil.  I thought I would try “frying” the tofu in a dry pan (I used my ceramic pan) and I was happy with the results.

The sauce I always served this dish with is Black Bean Garlic Sauce, which is NOT gluten-free.  If you would like to serve the tofu with a gluten-free sauce, SAN J has some really tasty ones (their Szechuan sauce rocks).  Keep in mind that you want the sauce to be a bit overflavored, oversalty, etc. since you are serving it with absolutely plain tofu.

INGREDIENTS

block of tofu, pressed
1 Tbs. black bean garlic sauce (or sauce of your choosing)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced
chilies, finely minced (optional)
green onions, minced
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Slice the tofu into 1/4″ thick slices.  Now slice the slices into thirds (See image above).

If using black bean garlic sauce, mix the sauce, the ginger, chilies if using, and 1-2 Tbs. water (depending on your personal taste) to a bowl and mix to incorporate.

Heat your pan on HI.  Place the tofu slices in the pan and dry-fry them for 2-3 minutes per side until browned.  If you insist on using oil, use it sparingly.

UNFRIED TOFU Collage

Serve immediately topped with a drizzle of sauce and garnished with the minced green onions.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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GIVEAWAY *** GIVEAWAY *** GIVEAWAY

We have a winner…

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Jessica

I emailed my best friend!!

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Thank you to all who entered!

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Filed under Appetizers, Beans/Legumes, Giveaways, Main Dish, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

homemade vegan peanut butter cups collage

Now that we are into the holiday season I do make a few more treats than normal (though I do feel the need to admit that I generally do not eat many of them).

People tend to think that making candy is complicated…it doesn’t have to be.  Last year the kids and I make homemade peanut butter cups.  These peanut butter cups were made with only three ingredients:

  1. Freshly ground peanut butter
  2. Chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life chips)
  3. Coconut oil

Melt the bag of chocolate chips over a double boiler along with 1-2 tsp. of oil.

Once melted, pour a small layer into mini cupcake liners and place it in the fridge for approximately 10 minutes.  Place the melted chocolate over the double boiler to ensure that it remains melted.

Top the hardened chocolate with some peanut butter and try to keep it in the center allowing a rim of chocolate to remain around it (this will allow the next layer of chocolate to completely cover the peanut butter).

Cover the peanut butter with another layer of chocolate and place in the refrigerator to harden.

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This year I used the same method to make chocolate covered pretzels (gluten-free) and peanuts.  My daughter and I broke small pretzel sticks in half and mixed them with the melted chocolate.  We then placed spoonfuls of the chocolate covered pretzels on waxed paper to cool and harden…little chocolate bird’s nests.  We had some left over at the end with a little too much chocolate, so we mixed in some peanuts and made spoonfuls of that.  They have been a total hit with my family!

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Filed under Candy / Fudge, Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays, Kid Friendly, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

QUICK & EASY BERRY JAM

My daughter has been chomping at the bit to make jam.  I’m not sure where she got the idea, but with all of the juicy berries we have been bringing home, now is definitely the time to preserve the berries while they are at the height of their flavor so we can pop into the jars when the bounty is no longer here.

My maternal grandmother was the queen of canning.  She grew-up on a farm in Minnesota with a gazillion brothers (she was the youngest and the only girl…even her twin was a boy!  Just based on that you know she lived in the kitchen).  I could go on and on about her canned peaches and have so many memories of all of the grandchildren being horrified when we discovered that there was only one can left in the pantry…they were THAT good.

Don’t even get me started on her huckelberry syrup…absolute heaven!

And her garden.  Oh her garden.  When it was dinnertime she would send my sister and I out to the garden to harvest the salad for the meal.

And her backyard.  It was HUGE and lined with fruit trees.  We would go out there and play for hours.  When we got hungry, we just reached-up and picked whatever we wanted to snack on.

Grandma Ruba made some amazing jam as well and I was always excited when she brought some on her visits.

Needless to say, I was definitely nostalgic while making jam with my daughter.  Perfect weather, cooking with my little one, and a tasty jam as the result of a wonderful day…another slice of heaven.

This jam my daughter and I created was definitely fresh vs. the cooked-down taste with a traditional jam.  I like both versions, but this version seems so appropriate for capturing the fruit in it’s prime.

We have one in the fridge and I froze the rest for later use.

INGREDIENTS
Inspired by 5 Dollar Dinners
 
3 lbs. berries (I used 2 lbs. strawberries, 1/2 lb. blueberries, 1/2 lb. raspberries)
1 box fruit pectin (I used Sure Jell)
2 tsp agar powder
1 12oz. container frozen organic apple juice concentrate (I used Cascadian Farms)
sweetener to taste (depends on ripeness of berries) with stevia, honey, or maple syrup.
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Wash, de-stem,  and dry the berries.

Mash the berries with a potato masher.  If you are using some blueberries, make sure to pop open all of the blueberries.  The kids will have A LOT of fun helping you with this.  Make sure they have clean hands and then encourage them to get their hands into the action and squish the berries.

Bring the apple juice concentrate to a boil and add in the pectin and agar agar.  Whisk until dissolved and pour the boiling mixture over the crushed berries. Mix well.

Pour the jam into glass containers and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate the cooled mixture to set.

The jam will stay well in the fridge for 3 weeks or freezer for 3 months.

I can’t wait to try this with the apricots we have been getting at the Farmer’s Market!

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Fruit, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Quick, Recipes, Sauce / Spread / Jam / Yogurt, Vegan, Vegetarian

SRC – PB BANANA BON BONS

After a one month break from the Secret Recipe Club (SRC) I am thrilled to be back.  I have so much fun participating in this wonderful group.  For those of you unfamiliar, the SRC is a club that was:

“[B]orn from an idea that it’s founder Amanda had one day while trying to come up with ways to bring more exposure to her cooking blog, Amanda’s Cookin’. She thought it would be fun to make a recipe from a friend’s blog and that friend could do the same. But instead of just the two of them, including several others would be even more fun. Plus, it would also help give added exposure to their food blogs. And so it began…”

Their first month yielded 19 participants and now there are hundreds. The concept is simple really. Each month you are “assigned” a participating food blogger to make a recipe from and it’s a secret until reveal day.

This month I was assigned the blog, Baking and Boys, penned by an amazing baker, Katrina.  In her words, “It’s a crazy house full of boys around here with me trying to keep it all together. Ya gotta love it! Welcome to Baking and Boys.”

It didn’t take me  long to choose which recipe I was going to make.  As I explored her blog I zeroed in on her recipe for Healthy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles which she found on a coconut recipe website.  I made this recipe as a surprise for my children during the last week of school.  They were thrilled to come home to it.

But you know me…I had to switch it up a bit by adding some sliced banana and turning these into frozen treats akin to a healthier bon bon.  The other changes I made were to eliminate the added salt and sweetener.  Since the banana slices were nice and ripe, they had a natural sweetness all their own and the chocolate coating was sweet as well.  I also upped the amount of chocolate slightly since adding the banana slices meant the bon bons were slightly larger than the original recipe, meaning more chocolate was needed for coverage.

This recipe came together so quickly, uses simple ingredients, and was a resounding success!!!


INGREDIENTS – Makes 20 bon bons

6 Tbs. organic peanut butter
¼ cup coconut flour
6 ounces Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil
1 banana
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METHOD

Slice the banana into 20 slices and place them individually on wax or parchment paper.

In a bowl combine the peanut butter and coconut flour using a spoon and eventually your hands.

Using a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon, form the peanut butter mixture into half circles and place one on each banana slice.

Freeze for 30 minutes to one hour.

Once the banana and peanut butter is frozen, heat the chocolate and coconut oil together over a double boiler until completely melted OR in the microwave at 30 second intervals (stirring in between) for approximately 2 minutes.

Insert a toothpick in the top of the bon bon and submerge it in the chocolate.  Shake off the excess and place the bon bon back on the waxed paper.  Continue with the remaining bon bons and place back in the freezer to set.

Serve straight from the freezer.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Candy / Fudge, Dessert, Frozen Treats, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Nuts, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

LENTIL SALAD IN A BELL PEPPER BOWL

I couldn’t for the life of me come-up with an interesting name for this meal, but that doesn’t mean that this meal doesn’t rock…because it does.  This salad in a pepper bowl covers all the bases; protein, complex carbs, and vitamins galore not to mention the fact that you eat the bowl…no dishes!!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher after school about food and recipes…an almost daily occurance between the two of us (my daughter knows to keep playing when we get on the subject of food, because we are GUARANTEED to be there for a long while) and she mentioned that the last time she was at Trader Joe’s they made a yummy salad by mixing together pre-cooked lentils and bruschetta.  Um, yum!

I think I might be single-handedly responsible for purchasing all of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.  While I can make my own, this product has saved me so much time and the flavor is amazing.  What is NOT amazing is the amount of olive oil they add to it.  Rest-assured, I have a solution for this problem.  When I buy the bruschetta I put it in the coldest part of my fridge for a day and all of the olive oil floats to the top and solidifies a bit making it quite easy to skim-off and throw in the trash can (better the trash can than my arteries!).

I have been eating this like crazy and it is now a staple in my fridge.  I took the liberty of adding some rice to the salad and really enjoy the results.

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INGREDIENTS

1 container Trader Joe’s Bruschetta (oil skimmed off)
1 box Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
1 bag Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley* OR Frozen Organic Brown Rice

*Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley contains barley which is not gluten free

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Cook the frozen rice by placing it in a glass bowl (NOT in the plastic as the directions suggest) and microwaving for 2-3 minutes.

Mix together the rice, lentils, and bruschetta (including all of the juice).

Cut the top off of a bell pepper and remove the seeds.  Spoon the lentil salad into the prepared bell pepper and enjoy!

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Grains, Main Dish, Product Reviews, Quick, Quick Tips, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian