Friday, May 25, 2012

Dry Rub Flank Steak and Black Bean Salad

I have had an exhausting week. I think it’s fair to say I’ve got a little too much on my plate right now.  I was stressing out that I wasn’t getting everything done- everything I thought needed to get done.  Then I remembered that it’s ok to just get by sometimes.  I did what was absolutely necessary and everything else had to wait- and the world didn’t end!  I’m very thankful that the weekend is here.  I’ll be spending some time with the kids enjoying the beach, regrouping and trying to get back on track. 
In light of the craziness this week we haven’t eaten much blog-worthy food.  I’ve been going for the easiest option since time has been short.  I did manage to pull this meal together earlier this week though.  I thought we would have leftovers for lunch but it disappeared.  This is a great meal to get you in the mood for summertime.  I was pretty excited to find organic local corn at Whole Foods this week so I couldn't pass these guys up.

It is very important to look for organic corn if you're going to eat it.  In addition to the pesticides, conventional corn is likely to be genetically modified.  We avoid GMO foods as much as possible since there is not enough research that indicates these are safe.  If you can't find organic corn, or if you'd like to keep the salad grain free, simply omit the corn. 

Dry Rubbed Flank Steak with Black Bean Salad

1-1 1/2lbs flank steak

Dry Rub
1 1/2 tsp chile pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Black Bean Salad
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 ear corn
2/3 cup red onion, diced
2/3 cup green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 avocado, chopped

Mix all dry rub ingredients together.

Boil corn for 2-3 minutes, turning during cooking.
Slice corn kernels from ear.  
Combine all salad ingredients together except for avocado.
Add 1 tsp of dry rub and mix well.

Add avocado and gently stir together.

Pat steak dry and rub with olive oil.
Cover both sides of steak with dry rub.

Grill on medium high for 4-5 minutes on each side.
Let the steak sit for a few minutes and then slice thinly.
Serve your salad and steak with some raw greens to aid in digestion.

The kids were super excited to eat their fresh corn.

They each ate an ear and a half.

This didn't stop them from eating all of our 3/4 lb steak.

Seriously. Kid approved.

So make some delicious food this weekend and remember to relax and enjoy the important things in your life! Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cod with Pineapple Salsa

Maybe you’ve noticed I like to make salsas? It’s true, I love to cover my proteins with some sauce, chutney, and salsa!  Sometimes a nice fresh topping is all you need to make the meal a little more exciting.  I like to dice up fruits and veggies and keep them raw. This adds a cold component to the meal which is nice since it’s already plenty hot here.  It also keeps all of the awesome nutrients and vitamins in the foods from breaking down.

Tonight I whipped up wild cod with pineapple salsa.  I served it with some brown rice and spinach and it was gobbled up in minutes.  Fresh salsas are quick and easy to prepare and you can make one out of just about any fruit or veggie.  I decided to add ginger and mint to tonight’s salsa.

Cod with Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa
1 cup pineapple, diced
½ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
juice from half a lemon

Mix all salsa ingredients together (see, it really is that easy).

3-4 cod filets
olive oil

Heat pan over medium heat.
Wash cod and pat dry.
Lightly rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until white throughout.

Top cod with salsa and serve!

Today was another crazy day for us- running errands, dance class, diaper prepping.  Aidric is still trying to get over a nasty ear infection so he wasn't in the best of moods.  I was feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much so my mom (bless her!) took Aidric with to Kota’s dance class so I could finish dinner and get some work done.  The kids came back in a stampede and were ready to eat!

Aidric was so hungry he needed two utensils!

 Now that everyone has full tummies it's time to get some rest- we all need it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chicken and Yellow Rice

One of my favorite quick meals used to be chicken and yellow rice.  It was so easy to open a packet and shazam- tasty rice!  We stopped eating yellow rice and all processed foods when Aidric was diagnosed with his allergies.  Even though there are none of his allergies listed in the ingredients there are plenty of things that don’t need to be in yellow rice. MSG? Preservatives? Artificial colors?  I don't want my family eating these things.  This is yellow rice we're talking about, not rocket science.  So I made my own- It's simple and painless and equally tasty. 
My yellow rice is also much healthier because it's made with long grain brown rice.  Why is brown rice so great?  Brown rice contains naturally occurring B vitamins and iron  making them easier to absorb by the body than the B vitamins and iron that white rice is "enriched" with.  It's also higher in magnesium and selenium than white rice but it's big benefit is it's fiber content.  Brown rice has 4 times more fiber than white rice.  Diets high in fiber reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar levels and can help you lose weight.  Fiber is also essential to helping your body eliminate wastes and toxins that you come in contact with every day. 
To learn more about all the amazing nutrients & vitamins that brown rice contains (and has been processed out of white rice) check out this site.

And then make this rice! It's good for you and tastes good too.

Yellow rice

1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1 diced shallot
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup long grain brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp dried red bell pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup dice green onions

Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat. 
Add onion and sauté until almost opaque. 

Add garlic and sauté another minute, then add rice. 
Sauté the rice for a couple of minutes and add in your broth. 
Add the red pepper, saffron, turmeric & salt and bring to a boil.

Once it's boiling reduce the heat and cover.
Simmer for 45 minutes.
When fully cooked, gently fold in tomatoes.

Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

I served my rice with chicken (what else?) bowl-style over spinach.  The kids also had broccoli.  I would have had some too if they hadn't eaten the entire head by themselves.

I cooked my chicken on the grill, seasoned with herbamare, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.  We only ate one breast but we'll have the other for lunch tomorrow.

The kids love yellow rice.  I normally have very little left over from this recipe.
Aidric loved showing it to me tonight.

He wanted to make sure I got a closer look.

He also wanted to make sure no one took his zucchini muffin.

Meanwhile Kota was busy with an interpretive dance called "The Lion"


I hope you make this rice.  I also hope you get to enjoy it without being threatened by a hammer or a lion (unless you like that sort of thing).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Salmon with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Today I want to talk about fat.  Somewhere along the way fat got a bad rap- being blamed for causing obesity, heart disease, cancer... the list goes on!  But fat is not only good for you, it's necessary for proper body function.
Fats are used in many different functions in our bodies.  They make up cell membranes and protect our nerve fiber, facilitate the usage of vitamins, regulate the production of hormones, and contribute to healthy skin.  Fats are also our source of essential fatty acids, which our bodies cannot make on their own.
Part of the reason fats have such a negative stigma is processed foods.  These foods are full of fats that have been taken from their natural state and processed down to stabilize other ingredients and lengthen shelf life.  These are BAD fats! The good fats are fats found directly in whole foods or extracted using a cold press.

There are so many sources of good fats.  I’m still exploring all of the different oils in my cooking.  Food sources that I like to use include raw nuts, avocado, salmon and other fatty fish, nut butters, flax, hemp and chia seeds and cold pressed olive and coconut oils.  Olives are a great source too but there are no olive fans in our house.  Keep in mind that many oils and fats are broken down by heat so it is best to eat them in their raw state when possible.
This meal was inspired by a friend of mine who is concerned about her husband's weight loss after reducing their grain intake.  While many people may think losing weight is great, there are some that struggle to keep it on.  Breastfeeding mothers, athletes, people with fast metabolisms and people with anxiety, stress or other illness can have this problem.  Adding lots of healthy fats to your diet can help maintain healthy weight and will help your body feel its best.  So with my friend in mind I whipped up a quick and easy meal that is full of good fats.  Let's all eat some good fat and feel better!

Salmon with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

 Cucumber Avocado Salsa
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cucumber, cubed
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 tbsp basil, chopped
1tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp salt

Here's how I cube my avocado.

If you use a knife to chop it in the skin it will easily pop out with minimal mess!

 Combine avocado with the rest of your ingredients.

Mix gently and refrigerate until use.

3-4 salmon filets
1 tsp olive oil
Lemon juice

Rub salmon filets with olive oil.
Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on each filet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill on medium high for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve this over a dark leafy green like kale or spinach for a full meal!  There are tons of great fats in this dish which are balanced by the freshness of the lemon and basil.  It will keep you full and nourish your body!

Dakota desperately wanted me to take her picture and then insisted on making sad faces every time I did.  She really did like the salmon...

Aidric was taking his cues from Kota tonight.  This is his interpretation of a sad face.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cilantro Garlic Marinade/Dressing

Marinades are a great way to add flavor to meat or veggies.  If I’m stumped on what to make for dinner I fall back on a marinade.  They are easy to make and perfect for busy nights because you do the work ahead of time. 
The grocery stores are full of bottled marinades but I’m sure you can guess how I feel about those.  Yuck!  Here’s an example of the ingredients in an “herb and lemon juice” marinade.

Why is high fructose corn syrup the second ingredient?  Why is it in a marinade at all? Modified Food Starch is also listed.  Modified Food Starch is a highly processed thickener used in many processed foods.  I don’t need that in my marinade either. I opt out of the highly processed and sugar filled marinades from the grocery store and make something fresh! 
I like to make my own with a couple easy ingredients.  They are simple to pull together and you can be as creative as you want with them!  This marinade was based on a big bag of limes I just bought and the huge bunch of cilantro I picked up at the local organic farm this weekend.  The result was so full of fresh flavor- something you won’t find in a bottle.  It also makes a great salad dressing!

Cilantro Garlic Marinade and Dressing

1 cup fresh packed cilantro
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender.

Blend on high until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Turn blender to low and add oil.
Blend until oil is incorporated with other ingredients.

To use as a marinade coat chicken or veggies and allow to sit for 1-3 hours.
For a dressing simply pour on your favorite salad fixin's

I marinated both the veggies and chicken and grilled everything up.

The kids wanted to put the chicken in lettuce wraps.  Who am I to say no?

I added a little drizzle of extra dressing inside- so good!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cauliflower Shepherd's Pie

My mom brought me another huge batch of tomatoes to can. Yay!  This time she was here to help and we got so much done.  Here’s what we accomplished yesterday.

That’s 12 jars of tomato sauce and 15 jars of whole tomatoes.  That’s a lot of tomatoes!
Thanks to my mom I was able to get this done, clean the kitchen and fix an awesome dinner for us last night.  We were all a little exhausted but I’m so happy to have the boxes of tomatoes gone from my countertops!
So on to our dinner… Last week I was talking to my sister-in-law, Sarah, about birthday dinners (mine is coming up next weekend).  It’s a tradition in our family for my mom to make a special dinner around our birthday and we get to pick whatever our favorite meal is.  Sarah’s is shephard’s pie.  This isn’t exactly my favorite but it got me thinking about a healthier version.  One of my favorite things to do is switch up recipes and try and up the veggie and nutritional content.  I’ve seen people use cauliflower for mashed potatoes before so I thought I would give it a try.  It came out awesome and is chock full of veggies- carrots, zucchini, peas and cauliflower!
Did you know that cauliflower is one of the many cruciferous vegetables?  This category of veggies includes broccoli, cabbage and kale to name a few.  Cruciferous veggies have tons of health benefits so we like to load up on them at our house.  Studies have linked them to cancer prevention and even shown them to help stop the growth of cancer!  One of the reasons for this is the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables which cause our bodies to make detoxifying enzymes.  These enzymes help remove carcinogens from our bodies.  Cruciferous veggies also reduce inflammation in the body caused by processed foods.  What’s not to love about these veggies?
So for this meal we traded out the traditional potatoes for cauliflower.  While potatoes do offer nutrients and vitamins, the cauliflower is a more nutrient dense choice.  Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, which makes it a great addition to your diet if you are feeling a cold coming on.  We are all suffering from a bug around here so we have been loading up on all forms of vitamin C.  This version is also made from whole foods, and is dairy, gluten and soy free!

Cauliflower Shepherds Pie

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb grass fed ground beef
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 cup peas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic and ground beef and sauté until fully cooked.

Add oregano, basil, broth, tomato sauce, vinegar and salt.
(recipe update: add 1 tsp arrowroot powder to broth if you'd like a thicker sauce)

Simmer for 5 minutes then add carrots, zucchini and peas.

Mix well and pour into a 9x13 baking dish.

Mashed Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp sea salt

Mince cauliflower using a food processor.
Combine cauliflower and water and steam until well done.

Mash remaining ingredients with steamed cauliflower.
(recipe update: I've found using my Vitamix to blend the cauliflower works really well!)

Spread mixture over filling and bake for 25 minutes.

 When the edges start to bubble it is done!

I served it on some spinach and it was perfect!

I was a little worried Aidric wouldn't eat this since he's not a fan of mixing up foods but he had no problem letting me shovel it in.

And after a few bites he was doing a happy dance!

 Kota came home a little later from her dance class and was pretty please with dinner too.