Yum on the Run: Honey Mustard Chicken and Rice

As I strive to balance a home, marriage and part-time job, as well as care for a 4-month old baby who is usually a little fussy around supper time, I’m always on the prowl for quick and easy nutritious dinner ideas.  Whenever I get in a dinner rut, I go prowling on Pinterest, natural health and cooking magazines and around the blogosphere to find something new, and this dish was my latest find.  I chose it because I always keep the ingredients on hand, and it’s gluten-free.  Plus, I’m always looking for a new spin on hum-drum grilled chicken (Check out these other chicken recipes: Chicken Marbella, Chicken Walnicot Delight, Cilantro Lime Chicken).

Honey Mustard Chicken and Rice

Ingredients (Serves 4):
1 cup brown rice
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1 large bunch (8 oz) of greens (I used spinach, but you could also use chopped kale or mustard greens)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preparation Instructions:

  • Prepare the brown rice according to the instructions on the packaging and set aside.
  • Saute chicken in a large nonstick skillet for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Saute the onion, greens and red pepper until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the brown rice and cook until warmed, or another 2 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

Don’t hold back on the antioxidant-rich greens. They cook down quickly!

Adding veggies is a great way to dress up basic brown rice dishes.

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the honey, mustard, vinegar, oil, garlic and 2 tablespoons of water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk together.
  • Put the chicken back in the skillet and pour the honey mustard mixture over it.  Save a little of the mixture to go on your rice.  Saute for about 3 minutes, turning the chicken often to coat it with the sauce.

The combination of ingredients in the sauce adds a punch of flavor!

  • Serve the rice pilaf on a plate, then top with chicken.  Drizzle with remaining honey mustard, and sprinkle with parsley.  Enjoy!

This meal is great for a busy weeknight, and could even pass at a dinner party!

My husband and I both really enjoyed this dish.  It’s definitely one I will be adding to my quick and healthy dinner repertoire!

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A Splash of Summer: Fruit and Herb Salsa

We’ve had a beautiful spring in Georgia, and summer is now upon us.  Now is the time to load up on all the colorful produce you can get your hands on, and enjoy antioxidant-rich entrées, salads, smoothies and snacks.  Mexican food is my absolute favorite, and I was recently inspired to make my own salsa, but with a summer twist.  It’s packed with flavor from fresh cilantro and mint and sweet strawberries and mango, and the jalapeno and green onion give it a little kick.  Just throw all the ingredients together in a big bowl, serve with your favorite chips and enjoy.  (I’m loving Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Black Bean Tortilla Chips lately….they’re gluten free too.)

Look for creative ways to add antioxidants into your diet this summer.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 16 oz package of strawberries, diced
1 mango, diced
3/4 of a small purple onion, diced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (just the white and light green parts)
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1/2 an orange bell pepper, diced
juice of 2 limes
salt to taste

Next time I’m going to try this salsa as a topper for fish tacos!

This take on salsa is a combination of several different recipes I found online (Oh, how I love Pinterest!).  If you’re not a big mango fan, you could swap it for pineapple.  One recipe called for ground ginger and another for green chiles.  I might add a little corn next time.  Feel free to take this dish and make it your own!  It’s sure to be a hit at any summer gathering.

Make this your healthiest summer yet!

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A Nutritious Take on Breakfast: Nuts and Berries French Toast Casserole

Hi Everyone!  I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful spring.  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve got a good excuse this time.  I had a baby boy on February 25!

Introducing Longevity's tiniest staff member, Sawyer Brown!

The last six weeks have been a blur of bliss and sleep deprivation, but we’re slowly finding our new normal, and that means getting back to cooking nutritious meals.  I saw a recipe for a french toast casserole in a magazine a couple months ago and have been looking for the time and a good opportunity to put my own spin on it.  Spring is the time for fresh berries, and this wholesome dish is filled with them, as well as apples and walnuts for a power-packed breakfast!

Berries are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Nuts and Berries French Toast Casserole: Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 cup milk
10 slices of whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread, cut into cubes
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 small package of fresh blueberries
1 container of strawberries, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Pure Maple Syrup

I used the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread.

Preparation Instructions:

  • Whisk together milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl until well combined.  Stir in the bread cubes and mix well.  Let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the liquid is absorbed and evenly distributed.
  • Cut and combine the apples, strawberries and blueberries.
  • Grease a casserole dish and arrange half the bread mixture in an even layer. Top with half the fruit, half the walnuts, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Arrange the remaining bread mixture evenly, followed by the remaining fruit, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the casserole is set and the center temperature is at 160 degrees.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.  Top with maple syrup if desired and serve.

I love that the total prep and clean-up time for this dish is only 15 minutes!

This dish makes a great stand-alone family breakfast, or a tasty addition to a brunch gathering.  I prepped my casserole the night before so all I had to do was pop it in the oven before church on Easter morning.

This easy-to-assemble casserole brings fruit, whole grains, nuts and eggs to the breakfast table. Not a bad way to kick-start the day!

If you don’t do so well on wheat, you could easily switch out the bread for a gluten-free variety.  This is definitely a dish that I would make again.  Enjoy!

Just for fun, I'll leave you with one more pic of my baby boy. You can't tell I'm a proud mama can you?

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The Ultimate Sinus Cleansing Recipe: Roasted Green Chile Chicken Soup

Hi Everyone!  Even though it’s hard to believe it now that we’re finally getting some winter temperatures, spring is right around the corner, and that means allergy and sinus season will be at its peak in just a few weeks.  During the spring months, the Longevity pharmacy gets countless calls from people struggling with headaches, runny noses, congestion and other sinus/allergy symptoms.  (Here are a few ideas for Spring cleaning your diet this year, and here are some nutritional/supplemental ideas for combating your allergies before they start!)

Speaking of allergy season, I came across this soup, full of sinus-cleansing ingredients, and just had to give it a try.  It was the perfect comforting dish for a chilly winter weekend.  (This recipe is gluten and dairy free, for all of you with these common food sensitivities.)

Roasted Green Chile Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
2 tsp organic coconut oil
1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 full chicken breasts (6 individual), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 roasted poblano peppers, skinned, seeded and diced
1 roasted anaheim pepper, skinned, seeded and diced
4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, or 1/2 tsp cumin
8 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation Instructions:

  • To roast peppers, place in a casserole dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a sealed ziplock bag to steam for 15 minutes.  The skins should peel right off after this process so you can easily remove the seeds and dice the chilies.

    Get ready to add some sinus-clearing heat to your hum-drum soup recipe!

  • In a large pot heated to medium high, add the oils and sauté the onions until soft.  Add the garlic.  Remove this mixture and set aside.

This little concoction alone makes the whole house smell wonderful!

  • Sauté the chicken in the same pot until the pieces are firm and cooked through.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on high for at least 20 minutes.

The chilies and fresh cilantro pack so much flavor and health benefit.

  • Simmer until ready to serve.  Adjust and add seasonings to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Your healthy, hearty dinner is ready!

This is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.  Stay warm and enjoy!

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Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

Hello there.  I hope that your 2012 is off to a great start.  I’m checking in with yet another recipe.  My husband is away on business this week, so I’m using the opportunity to experiment with some new recipes, especially ones that call for beans and other ingredients he may not be such a fan of!

I love grain salads, whether I’m using bulgur, couscous, brown rice or quinoa.  It’s nice that you can serve them warm or cold, and they are a bit more comforting than your traditional green salads during the cold winter months.  I pulled ideas from a few different recipes to come up with this Southwestern spin on quinoa salad, and I must say, it was a total success (At least Baby Brown and I think so!).   This salad makes a great entrée, side dish or pot luck addition, and the cumin-lime dressing makes it unique and delicious!  Did I mention it’s also gluten-free?

I love when I can combine my favorite colorful ingredients!

Ingredients (Makes about 6 servings):
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
1 lb. of chicken breasts, baked and shredded*
2 avocados, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups of cilantro, chopped
1 pint-sized package of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of corn, drained
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
The juice from 2 limes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste

*The chicken is optional.  I included it since it was a main entrée, and I need all the protein I can get right now, but feel free to skip it if you want to make this a side dish or just want a vegetarian meal.

One recipe I saw called for purple onion, but I skipped it since raw onions and I aren’t friends right now (Holy heartburn!), and another called for black-eyed peas.  The beauty of this dish is that you can mix it up and make it different every time!

Preparation Instructions:

  • If you’re including the chicken, bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  I seasoned mine with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  When they are fully cooked, let cool for a few minutes and then shred into small pieces.
  • Combine the quinoa and water in a small covered sauce pan and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the grains are light and fluffy, or about 20 minutes.  Uncover and let cool.
  • While the chicken and quinoa are cooking, chop your avocados, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and bell pepper and combine in a large bowl.

    When it comes to adding cilantro to any dish, I say the more the merrier!

  • Add the corn, beans and quinoa and toss evenly.
  • Next, prepare your cumin-lime dressing: whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and salt.

    Here’s a shot of the salad without the chicken.

  • Add the shredded chicken to the salad and pour the dressing on top, stirring well so that the dressing coats the salad evenly.
  • Serve warm, or let it cool in the refrigerator to serve later.

This dish might make a great healthy addition to a Super Bowl party…just sayin’!

Colorful, nutritious, gluten-free, protein-packed and a Southwestern flare…what more could you want in a recipe?  Feel free to garnish with a little shredded cheese or sour cream, or serve with a side of tortilla chips.

Enjoy, and let me know your feedback if you give this dish a try!

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Going Into Hibernation Mode: Italian Butter Bean Soup

I realize I’ve been on a little recipe run here lately.  Between being 33 weeks pregnant and the rainy weather, I’ve just wanted to hole myself in my house and do a little nesting.  It didn’t hurt that my husband just did a big farmer’s market run and stocked our house with all kinds of beautiful produce.  To me, January and February are all about hibernating, and I’m taking it to the next level this year.  Might as well rest up while I can, right?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, I’m a big fan of chili, soups and stews, mostly because they are EASY to prepare, but also because they pack a lot of nutritional punch and are so filling during the dreary winter months.  I was flipping through Natural Health Magazine awhile back when I came across a tasty looking Italian Butter Bean Soup, so I just had to try it out and make a few tweaks of my own.  I’m a big fan of cooking anything with a bunch of fresh herbs, and I’ve never cooked anything with butter beans before.  Plus, I’m always looking for ways to sneak in some greens, so I loved that this recipe includes fresh kale leaves.

I think this may have been my first time eating butter beans, and I’m definitely a fan!

Before I give you this recipe, here are a few other soups I’ve shared with you on this blog.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Working Woman Soup

Naughty and Nice Sweet Potato Chili

Chicken Noodle Soup

Italian Butter Bean Soup Ingredients (Serves 8):

1 can of Italian butter beans, rinsed and drained
8 cups vegetable broth
A few fresh thyme sprigs
A few fresh oregano sprigs
A few fresh sage or rosemary leaves
6 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
3 bay leaves
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup carrots, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, quartered and diced
1/3 cup white wine
1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed, torn into ribbons

Preparation Instructions:

  • Place beans in a pot, cover generously with water and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside to soak for 1-2 hours.  Drain beans and rinse well.
  • Combine 6 cups vegetable broth, beans, herbs and leaves in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered until the beans are cooked all the way through, about 90 minutes.

    Feel free to use whatever combination of herbs and leaves you prefer. Once these bad boys start cooking, your house will smell DIVINE!

  • While the beans are cooking, heat a little oil in a saute pan and add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the onion begins to soften, about three minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or so.  Stir in carrots, peppers and zucchinis, another 1/4 teaspoon of salt and another pinch of black pepper and cook about 10 minutes, adding a little broth as needed to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan.  Pour in the wine and cook 3 more minutes

    Time to give your soup some vibrant color!

  • Add the vegetables to the soup pot, along with the remaining broth and the rest of the salt and pepper and cook about 20 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes.  Add more seasonings to taste.

    Holy Antioxidants! I know it looks like a lot of kale, but don’t worry, it will cook way down.

  • Remove the herb sprigs and leaves, serve and enjoy!

    One dish wonder!

Even my husband, who is “just not a bean guy” and usually not into vegetarian meals, was a fan of this soup.  Miracles can happen!

I hope you give this nutritious, comfort food a try.  Happy Hibernating!

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Healthy Kid-Friendly Breakfast On the Go: Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Have you ever found a recipe that you really wanted to try, but it required you to go on a wild goose chase to track down all the unique ingredients? Every once in awhile, that scenario can make for a fun little food adventure and help you and your family try new things. To me, the worst is when you see a recipe and realize that you have everything you need except for one key ingredient, so you have to make a special trip to the store (or persuade your husband to stop on his way home) to get it.

But every so often, the stars align, and you come across a recipe you want to try, and you realize you already have every single ingredient required. When this happens, I must admit my heart skips a beat, and that’s exactly what happened this weekend when I came across this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Muffins. It just so happened that I had a bunch of browning bananas on my counter that needed to be used or tossed out. I found the recipe on Pinterest (from a blog called Green Lite Bites), which I finally joined this past week (and am already completely addicted to!). The muffins are gluten-free, kid-friendly and go great with breakfast or if you’re hosting a brunch. Did I mention it took me approximately 5 minutes to prepare the batter? The oven wasn’t even preheated and I had it ready to go!

Why buy a store-bought muffin mix, which is full of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and other artificial ingredients, when you can make your own wholesome muffins in the same amount of time?

Ingredients (Makes 15 muffins):
3 bananas
1 cup vanilla flavored almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups gluten-free oats
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp mini chocolate chips, blueberries or raisins (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mash up the bananas.
  • Add all the other ingredients, except the chocolate chips and stir until it makes an even batter.
  • Gently stir in chocolate chips or or fruit if you’re including it. I chose to use the mini chocolate chips in half of my muffins.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!

When it comes to the bananas, the riper the better!

These little beauties made my house smell delicious on a Sunday morning!

If oats aren’t your thing, don’t forget about my recent post on Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. I hope you enjoy this quick and dirty recipe and add it to your breakfast arsenal!

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