Sunday, April 29, 2012

Healthy Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo with Soba Noodles

I LOVE when I find a good Chicken Alfredo, but usually try to avoid it; unless of course, it's a special occasion.  The main reason that I tend to shy away is because I know how filling and unhealthy the meal can be.  However, who am I kidding?  Chicken Alfredo is oh so delicious and addicting!

Due to my love for Chicken Alfredo, it was no surprise how incredibly excited I was when I happened to stumble across this recipe for a healthy version.  At first I couldn't believe it, and I'll even admit that I was a bit skeptical; mostly thinking that it wouldn't be flavorful.  To my surprise, it was amazing!  I just love when food proves me wrong!  This is definitely a meal I'll be making again!

Healthy Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo with Soba Noodles

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied, grilled, and cut into chunks
2 cups roasted broccoli florets
8 oz. buckwheat soba noodles
1 ½ Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup, low sodium fat-free chicken broth
¼ cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
¼ cup skim milk
¼ tsp. pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
¾ cup, grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish – Red pepper flakes

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions, drain and then set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, over a medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and cook until it starts to turn a nice golden brown.  This should take around 1-2 minutes.  (To keep the garlic from burning, make sure to stir frequently)

Add in the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, Greek yogurt, milk, pepper, and nutmeg.  Continue to whisk together until all the ingredients have been combined and the mixture comes to a low boil.  Lower the heat and let simmer until the mixture begins to thicken.  This can take 3-5 minutes, or longer.  Continue to stir gently.  Once the sauce is ready, mix in the Parmesan cheese and stir together. 

Lastly, add in the grilled chicken pieces, roasted broccoli, and soba noodles.  Toss together until all ingredients are well combined.  Garnish with a little extra Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flakes.  Serve immediately!

Source: Slightly adapted from Celebrations!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Chili Lime Burgers

With spring in full swing, weeknights have been becoming very hectic around here.  Therefore, I've constantly been trying to search for or create recipes, that are quick, easy, healthy, and of course, tasty.  One such meal, that always seems to be a success around here, are homemade burgers!  I absolutely love being able to create my own hamburger (chicken) patties; mostly because the possibility of flavor combinations are endless, (or at least they seem to be) and I appreciate any chance I get that allows me to be creative! 

Chicken Chili Lime Burgers

1 lb. ground chicken
1 green onion, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lime cut in half
4 slices reduced fat, pepper jack cheese
4 buns, toasted

In a medium/large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, green onion, red bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and the juice from half a lime. 

Using clean hands thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.  Form the mixture into 4 patties, and lightly spray each side with a little cooking spray.

Heat a grill, griddler (fitted with grill attachment), or grill skillet over medium-high heat.  Grill the burgers for about 4-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through.  Place a slice of cheese on top of each burger and then cover with a large pot lid for about a minute.  This will help melt the cheese.  Once ready, remove the burgers from the grill and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes.  Serve immediately on toasted buns, garnished with your choice of toppings.

Optional garnish ideas:
Lettuce                                    Onion
Tomato                                    Salsa

Last summer, I posted a recipe for my homemade jalapeno-cheddar burgers, which in my opinion, were to die for. To this day, those burgers are still my absolute favorite (mostly because I love cheddar and jalapenos); however, this new recipe comes in a very close second, which really says a lot. Even Jeff, who's a picky eater, and hates red peppers, devoured the entire burger.  Jeff even ate all the leftovers for lunch the next day!

Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Skinniest Turkey Pasta

If you're like me and constantly looking for a healthy and delicious recipe, then stop right here!  You've found it!  This dish is not only amazing, but also takes on a completely healthy alternative compared to traditional pasta.

I'm not sure about all of you, but I often feel that too many noodles in a pasta dish, especially at restaurants, can be a bit overwhelming.  Due to this I've been on the search for what I could use to sometimes replace noodles.  Well, after quite a bit of searching, I finally found something that worked!  Zucchini!  It's an idea that I probably never would have thought of myself, but it happened to work out perfectly.

Just to clarify:  I don't plan to use zucchini in all my future pasta recipes, but in this case it worked out perfectly.  It even tasted good the next day, when I got to enjoy the leftovers!

Skinniest Turkey Pasta

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. 99% fat free ground turkey breast
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

Dash of salt and pepper
1 (15oz) can low sodium tomato sauce

¾ cup water
2 large zucchinis, finely sliced (directions on how to cut them are found below)
for garnish: grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the olive oil in a medium to large pot, over a medium heat.  Next, add in the ground turkey and minced garlic cloves and break apart the meat, using a wooden spoon.  Continue to cook until the turkey is no longer pink in the center.  (If necessary, drain the excess grease from the meat.)  Once the meat is ready, add in the bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and season with a little salt and pepper.  Stir around.

Add into the pot the tomato sauce and the ¾ cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and season with another dash of salt and pepper.   

Allow the sauce to simmer for about 5-8 minutes, but once ready, add in the finely sliced zucchini.  Allow the zucchini to cook in the sauce for 3-5 minutes, or until the zucchini is slightly cooked, but still “al dente”.  Scoop onto a plate, and garnish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

To cut the zucchini:
Cut the ends off the zucchini, and slice them lengthwise so that they’re about ¼ inch thick. Next, lay the slices flat on a cutting board, and cut the slices into even smaller strips, that look like fettuccine noodles.

Source: The Fit Cook

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken with Broccoli in a Garlic Sauce

Chicken and broccoli are pretty much one of my favorite food combinations, other of course, than peanut butter and chocolate!  Typically any recipe I find, containing these two ingredients, gets immediately added to my must try list.  This particular recipe was no exception.  However, I sometimes find that I wait to try out recipes I find (because I have so many), but seeing that I've been trying to eat healthy lately, and this is a healthy recipe, I decided to make it right away.  I'm very glad I did too, because it was great!  The recipe was, without a doubt, the perfect combination of flavors!  I will definitely make it again.

Chicken with Broccoli in a Garlic Sauce

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced, or more to taste
2 cups broccoli florets
1 ½ cups reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups cooked brown rice

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and add in the thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir around until the chicken pieces are coated and then set aside.  Add the garlic to the skillet, and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Make sure to continuously stir around so that the garlic doesn’t burn.  Next, add the chicken into the skillet and cook until it’s completely cooked through, and lightly browned on all sides.

Now, add the broccoli florets to the skillet; cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.  When ready, add in 1 cup of the chicken broth and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. 

In a small measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the remainder of the chicken broth.  Pour into the skillet and stir around.  Let simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, making sure to stir around constantly.  (If you want it extra thick, you may want to add in a little more cornstarch).  Serve over a bed of warm brown rice.

Source: Sparkrecipes

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sesame Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry

I always forget how quick, easy, delicious, and filling stir-fry can be! 

A great thing to keep in mind when making stir-fry at home, instead of ordering it out somewhere, is that when it comes to ingredients, the possibilities and flavor combinations are endless.  With the wide variety of vegetables out there, it definitely leaves room for creativity, which just so happens to be something I enjoy. 

(Feel free to modify some of the vegetables in this recipe to meet your desired taste.  I'm positive it will still be incredible!)

Sesame Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry

2 tsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 lb. chicken breasts cut into bit size pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
½ cup or less of onion slices
1 cup snow peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger or 1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
1 cup fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
3 tsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 cups hot cooked brown rice

In a wok, or a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil and soy sauce over a medium heat until hot.  Add in the chicken pieces and stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Remove the wok from the heat and place the chicken in a bowl.  Set aside.

Place the wok back onto the burner and add in the broccoli, red bell pepper, onions, snow peas, and garlic. Stir-fry the vegetables for about 5-8 minutes, or until they become crisp-tender.  Sprinkle with the ginger, or the 5-spice powder, and continue to cook and stir around for another minute.

Return the chicken to the wok, stir around to combine the vegetables and the chicken then pour in the chicken broth.  Let the broth come to a gentle boil.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and the water.  When ready, pour the cornstarch mixture into the boiling chicken broth and let the mixture continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, while stirring constantly.

Remove the wok from the heat and let stand for a few minutes.  This will allow time for the sauce to thicken.   Feel free to serve over a bed of rice or alone.  Either way you choose, it will be delicious!

Inspired by and adapted from Spark Recipes

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inside Out Spring Roll Salad

Lately, I've been trying my hardest to eat healthy again. 

I originally set this goal at the beginning of the new year, but for some reason strayed away from it.  I know that it can sometimes be a difficult goal to stick with, especially due to the variety of celebrations, holidays, and other gatherings that unexpectedly appear throughout the year; but in the end it's worth it.  I truly believe that there's no better feeling then when you eat well and exercise.  I also know that it's ok to reward yourself every once in a while, otherwise temptations will find you and you might over indulge. 

Let me take a minute to give you a little bit of background information about me.  Up until around 3-4 years ago I never really cared about exercising, or eating healthy.  One reason is because I'm completely flat footed and would use that as an excuse not to run.  It wasn't until some of my teacher friends started dieting that I decided, what the heck, I'd give it a try too.  That's when I officially hopped on the "healthy living" bandwagon and lost a total of around 50 pounds.  I ended up going from a size 12 to a size 0 and realized that I'll never go back to my unhealthy habits, because I  definitely love the feeling of being fit! 



In order to accomplish the original goals I set for myself, I watched what I ate and I walked/ran on my treadmill everyday.  Some people may say I was/am obsessed with exercise, but I call it dedication to a healthy lifestyle. 

I think I'm the only one I know who has actually broken a treadmill, after 3 years, from overuse.  Even the Nordiac Track repair man couldn't believe it and didn't really know what to do.  The company ended up giving me a credit for what I paid for my original treadmill so that I was able to purchase their brand new one for basically nothing (Thankfully I have a husband who is excellent at negotiations).  While I waited for my new treadmill to arrive though, we were in the process of moving, and I threw my back out, so I wasn't able to exercise as much as I use too.  I hated every minute of it and due to the lack of exercise, and the holidays, I happened to gain some weight back.  Now that I have my new treadmill though (which is awesome!), and have started exercising again, I find that I'm more committed to eating healthy.  For me, the two really do go hand in hand.

For the past few weeks, I've been doing a pretty good job at sticking with my goals, and have finally started losing some weight.  I know that I don't need to lose too much, I'd just like to get back down to where I was before the holiday season and have my pants fit comfortably again. 

I know that I can accomplish this by eating healthy recipes, like the one listed below, in combination with running/walking a little bit everyday.  After a few weeks, I'm already beginning to notice a difference and am pleased to know that I'm almost back down to where I was a couple months ago! 

Inside Out Spring Roll Salad
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2 oz. Bean Thread noodles (usually found in the oriental food aisle)
3 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, cut into matchstick size strips
½ cup seedless cucumber, cut into matchstick size strips
½ cup red pepper, cut into matchstick size strips
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. mint, chopped
4-5 oz. shredded chicken

1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger root, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. lime zest

Garnish: sesame seeds

To begin, you will first need to soak the bean thread noodles in a bowl full of warm water for about 10 minutes, or until they become pliable.  Next, drain the noodles, and then place them in a pot of boiling water and let cook until the noodles expand in size and become translucent in appearance (you may need to lift them slightly out of the water to check for the translucent appearance).  Drain the noodles in a colander then rinse them under cold water until they’re no longer hot.  Lay the noodles out on a cutting board and cut into 4 inch strips.  Place the noodles in a large bowl along with all the other salad ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine and thoroughly whisk together all the dressing ingredients.  Pour the dressing evenly over the salad, and toss to coat.  Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy!  

Source: Adapted from Better Recipes

Monday, April 2, 2012

Petite Turkey Lasagnas

Holy moly, are these little lasagnas ever scrumptious and addicting!!!

Lasagna happens to be one of my favorite dishes, but I hate how full of empty calories and carbs. it can be.  That's why I decided I needed to find a good alternative that would remain just as tasty and fulfilling.  "Mission accomplished!!!"

Today I'm going to share a recipe with you that's not only quick and easy to follow, but it's perfect if you're trying to eat healthy and watch your portion size, even if you're not, it's worth a try.  Another nice thing about this particular recipe is the fact that it does not require pasta.  Instead, you make these tasty little cups using only a few wonton wrappers, which helps save on carbs.  You can also be as creative as you would like and add additional ingredients to satisfy your taste requirements.  Next time I might try adding some chopped up baby spinach.

Petite Turkey Lasagnas
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Servings: 12
1 lb. lean ground turkey (I use 99% fat free)
¼ tsp. salt, divided
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup chopped onion
15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp. dried oregano, divided
½ tsp. dried basil
1 ½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese
24 small square wonton wrappers
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Add the turkey, onions, salt and pepper to a large skillet, set over a medium heat, and sauté the ingredients together.  Make sure to crumble the turkey as it is cooking.  Once the turkey is cooked through, add in the garlic and continue to sauté for 30 seconds or so.

Next, add into the skillet the tomato sauce, and 2 tsp. of the oregano.  Stir around until the turkey crumbles are well coated in the sauce.  Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Once ready, remove the skillet from the heat.

While the turkey mixture is simmering, in a medium size bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. basil, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Stir the ingredients together until well combined, and then set aside.

To assemble:

Firmly press one wonton wrapper into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup, making sure to press up the sides as well. 

Using half of the ricotta cheese mixture, divide it evenly among the muffin cups, making sure to gently press down onto the wonton wrappers.  Next, using half of the turkey mixture, place it evenly in the muffin cups on top of the ricotta cheese.  Sprinkle with some of the mozzarella cheese.

Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella cheese and repeat the same process as before. 

Bake the lasagnas for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese appears melted.  Once the cheese has that just melted appearance, turn the broiler on and broil the lasagnas for another 2 minutes or so, to get the cheese to bubble and turn that nice golden brown.  Keep your eye on them during this process so that they don’t burn.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Garnish with with a little fresh parsley and enjoy! 

Helpful Hint: Remove the petite lasagnas from the pan using a spoon.

Source: Adapted from Can You Stay for Supper?