Category Archives: Main Dish

CHINESE SHRIMP TRICK

Shrimp FitQuestMom Balanced Grettie (2)

My husband and I have been together for 20 years and married for almost 17 (times flies).  In that time I have learned a ton about cooking from my in-laws.

Leave it to the Chinese to figure out a way to make each and every ingredient taste the very best it possible can.  Their tricks/methods are usually really simple, but man do they yield great results.

This morning one of my clients emailed me to ask me how I prepare shrimp and though I have been using this method for years, it never dawned on me to write a post about it until today.

I don’t know if you have ever realized that texture makes a huge difference in the taste of shrimp.  In my opinion there is nothing worse than soggy shrimp; it needs to be crisp and crunchy.

Shrimp FitQuestMom Balanced Grettie (3)

To achieve that crunch, peel and devein the shrimp.  Place the shrimp in a colander along with 1/2-1 tsp of sea salt or kosher salt.  Mix the shrimp and salt together with your hands and leave it in the colander to drain over a plate for 10-15 minutes (this is where the magic happens).

After 10-15 minutes some of the liquid from the shrimp will have gathered on the plate.  Rinse the shrimp really well under cold water to remove the salt.

After thoroughly rinsing the shrimp, lay down 2 layers of paper towel and beginning on one side place the shrimp on the towel in rows touching each other.  Once all of the shrimp are on the paper towel, cover with another layer of paper towel and roll it up (like you would roll-up a log of cinnamon rolls before cutting them).  This will remove any remaining moisture.

If you are not ready to cook the shrimp, place the roll in the refrigerator until it is time.

I usually saute a bunch of shrimp in my wok on high heat with a little oil and then add some of it to a stir-fry for dinner, but I have also made them into shish-kebabs and grilled them.  I keep the remaining shrimp in the fridge to use in meals for the next few days; burrito bowls, tacos, etc.

You can cook the shrimp using any method you prefer and I guarantee you will notice a difference because of the time you took to salt, drain, and dry them.

Shrimp FitQuestMom Balanced Grettie (1)

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Filed under Gluten Free, Main Dish, Paleo, Recipes, Seafood

PALEO CHICKEN TACO BURGERS

I came across these Paleo Chicken Taco Burgers on Pinterest and knew I had to try them.  The recipe was posted to Tablespoon.com and created by the Cheeky Kitchen

I made the patties for dinner last night and my daughter raved about them.  She isn’t naturally drawn to protein and last night she ate 4 and I had to cut her off!

This morning when I came up from my workout she was eating the patties for breakfast!  I’d say this recipe is a clear winner and will definitely be making another appearance on my table.

I didn’t prepare the recipe exactly as written.  Here are the modifications I made:

  • I used 2lbs of lean ground chicken (vs. 3lbs)
  • I still used the entire packet of taco seasoning (I used THIS Simply Organic Southwest Taco Seasoning)
  • I added 2 eggs and 1TBS cornstarch
  • I used 1/2 a lemon (vs. lime…I didn’t have any limes)
  • I seeded the jalapeno so it wouldn’t be so spicy
  • I used olive oil (vs. coconut oil)

Click HERE to be taken to the recipe.

 

 

Images from Tablespoon.com

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Paleo, Recipes

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

Shredding pork with mixer pulled pork kalua pork

This is seriously the easiest shredded pork recipe I have ever made.  When Fall comes around my crockpot / slow-cooker gets dusted off and is responsible for a lot of my meal prep.

I saw a recipe for Kalua Pork and Cabbage in the Taste of Home magazine I randomly started getting (I didn’t subscribe) and was really excited to try it because it looked so easy.

As usual I made some modifications to suit my taste.  The original recipe called for salting the pork prior to putting it into the slow cooker.  I did that and it was WAY too salty (I used about 1/2 of the recommended salt).  Needless to say, this step is totally unnecessary and I will omit it all together next time since bacon is salty enough on its own.

The original recipe also called for pork shoulder / butt and all I had on hand was pork sirloin roasts from Costco (They come in a 4-pack; see image below from 2 Wired 2 Tired).

Costco-Pork-Medium

The pork turned out really well and is definitely something I will be making again.

RECIPE

2 Costco Pork Sirloin Roasts (6-8 pounds total)

1 package bacon

crockpot kalua pork recipe bacon

METHOD

Line the bottom of the crockpot / slow cooker with 4-5 pieces of bacon.

Place the 2 pork sirloin (or shoulder/butt) roasts on top of the bacon and cover the roasts with the remaining bacon.

Turn the crockpot / slow cooker on to low for 8-10 hours.

Shred the pork with either 2 forks OR a handheld mixer (only takes 10 seconds…be careful not to overdo it with the mixer or it will become mush).

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Filed under Crock Pot, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Paleo, Recipes

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

SLOW COOKER COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN

With chicken thighs in the fridge and a hankering for coconut curry, I set off on a web search for a recipe that I could put together before lunch and have ready for us to eat when we cruise on in after saxophone lessons around 6:30pm.  I came across this recipe on the blog, Sweet Treats and More.

Mondays are our CRAZY BUSY days and the slow cooker is my saving grace.

This recipe was an absolute winner! I served the curry with jasmine rice for those who wanted it and poured my portion of the curry over steamed veggies.  At the end of the meal all the slow cooker was left with was sauce.

The next time I make this recipe I will be doubling the amount of chicken which will leave us with enough food for two meals.  I love making a big pot of something and freezing half for dinner on another day.

I also used 1/2 tsp. chili flakes vs. the 1 tsp the recipe called for since my youngest is not a fan of spice.  I then put more chili flakes on the table for those who wanted more heat.

It would be great to add some sweet potato or Yukon golds to the recipe as well.

Click HERE for the recipe.

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Filed under Crock Pot, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes

SAN-J GLUTEN FREE ASIAN DRESSINGS

San J Dressing Collage

San-J is a favorite brand in this gluten-free Asian household.  Their Thai Peanut Sauce has been a staple in our fridge for years as has their Szechuan Sauce & Terriyaki Sauce.

That being said, I was excited to try their new salad dressings (which they sent to me free of charge).  The flavors are good basic Asian flavors:

While admittedly HIGH in sodium, I am a fan of these dressings.  I used them on seaweed salad and to lightly marinade some cucumbers (they tasted best after only marinading 30 minutes…when left overnight they became too salty).  I did however cut the dressing with a bit of rice wine vinegar because I like a more “vinegar-y” dressing and I also added some red pepper flakes to the cucumbers.

Using the dressings on a regular salad produced a great result.  My favorite 2 dressings were the Tamari Peanut and Tamari Ginger since they had more flavor than the Tamari Sesame.

Some more good news…San-J has Reduced Sodium Tamari now…yay!!!  HOPEFULLY they will come out with Reduced Sodium Travel Packs soon (I keep the travel packs in my car for when I go out to Asian restaurants).

San-J graciously shared a recipe for one of their favorite ways to use the Tamari Peanut Dressing…

TAMARI PEANUT PASTA WITH ZUCCHINI

Created by: Amie Valpone

INGREDIENTS Serves 4.

12 oz. whole grain spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil (eliminate if water sauteing)
1 large zucchini, diced
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp. San-J Tamari Peanut Salad Dressing Sub out for either ginger or sesame dressing and add 1Tbs. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
.

PREPARATION

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Then, drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (eliminate if water sauteing). Add the zucchini; cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add white beans, garlic, sea salt, pepper and crushed red pepper; cook for another 4 minutes. Remove from heat; add bean mixture to the spaghetti along with San-J Tamari Peanut Salad Dressing and mix well to combine.

Serve warm and top with sesame seeds.

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Recipe courtesy of San-J. www.san-j.com

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

ALL-PURPOSE CURRY SAUCE- Slow Cooker

All Purpose Curry Sauce base (18)

I recently linked this recipe to the Running on Happy and The Fit Foodie Mama #MeatlessMonday recipe link-up.

 

Sur La Table recently had a big sale (still going on) on the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker and I couldn’t resist.  With holiday gift cards in hand I marched right in and upgraded my slow cooker.  Man, I am glad I did.  It is SO nice to be able to brown onions in the slow cooker and then just pour in the rest of the ingredients.  This slow cooker is going to get some major use in my household.

I saw some split red lentils at Trader Joe’s the other day and I was inspired to make a red lentil based slow cooker curry sauce.  I love that this “sauce” is packed with protein and fiber.

This recipe makes A LOT of sauce, so get ready to freeze some for later.  I have also enjoyed the sauce as a soup…simply add broth and thin it out.  Good stuff!

.

INGREDIENTSmakes an ENTIRE crockpot full…more than enough to freeze for later

1 onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced (I do a rough chop since I like carrot chunks)
1 bag Trader Joe’s trimmed leeks 
2 Tbs. curry seasoning (I used Spice Hunter)
two 6 inch stalks of lemon grass, cut into four 3 inch pieces and smashed
OR
1-2 Tbs Gourmet Garden lemon grass paste (I used 2 Tbs…LOVE lemongrass!)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped (Dorat makes an incredible ready to use product)
1-2 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
2-3 cans (depending on how “saucy” you like it) light coconut milk (approx 14 ounces each)
1 bag Trader Joe’s split red lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
32 ounce container vegetable broth
2 cups water
cilantro, chopped (as a garnish)
parsley, chopped (as a garnish)
Serve with Sriracha for those who like extra spice (ME!!!)
 
Curry Sauce Process Collage

Water sauté the onions, celery, carrots, and leeks for 5-7 minutes.  Add the curry seasoning, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Stir together to combine the flavors and cook for 1-2 minutes while continuing to stir (If the mixture is getting too dry, add a tiny bit of water).

Add the light coconut milk and stir to combine.  Add the split red lentils, broth and water.

Set your slow cooker on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10.

Serve on top of roasted squash, steamed veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash) potatoes, brown rice, etc.  Would be fantastic over brown basmati rice.  Have each person salt their own food upon serving…that way the food will taste salted, but will not be LOADED with sodium.

*Remember to remove the lemongrass stalks before serving

All Purpose Curry Sauce base (24)

For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Crock Pot, Gluten Free, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup, 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
.

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…

.

Jessica

I emailed my best friend!!

.

Thank you to all who entered!

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