Balsamic Chicken and Eggplant

Foodie Friday!

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French Food ~ And we all know French women don’t get fat! Balsamic Chicken & Eggplant

I saw some absolutely BEAUTIFUL eggplants in the produce section, which inspired me to pull out an old recipe from the summer I was obsessed with French food.  It’s simple and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant cut lengthwise into 4 thick slices (fit chicken breasts) OR as I did, cut into enough rounds to match your chicken – I used boneless, skinless thighs And made 6….
  • (4) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – or see above
  • 1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, cut into quarters – save some of the juice!
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + some for greasing the pan
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • fresh ground black pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400, oil baking dish – large enough to fit eggplant slices in a single layer ~ place eggplant in the dish and top each slice with chicken breast (or whatever)

2. Combine tomatoes, capers, vinegar, oil, 1/2 cup tomato juice, and sugar/honey- mix well.  Spread tomato mixture over chicken

3.  Bake until chicken is cooked through (the thighs took about 40 minutes, thinner pieces would be less; the recipe said 20-25 minutes, but those must have been thin chicken breasts)

~to serve, sprinkle with basil and pepper and spoon some of the yummy balsamic-tomato vinaigrette over the top!

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Fresh from the oven ~ each chicken sits atop a round of eggplant

Butternut Squash Stew

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Butternut squash with kale & quinoa stew: Very FABULOUS!

Foodie Friday rolls round again!

This week I have been strictly sticking to the 21 Day Fix portion control meal plan – which mean EAT MORE VEGGIES and EAT MORE PROTEIN!  This delicious stew has been a lunch staple all week – so much veggie goodness!!!

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • splash of white wine vinegar (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (or 1.5 cups cooked quinoa)
  • generous amounts of salt & pepper
  • a few big handfuls of chopped kale
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. Add the butternut squash cubes, another few pinches of salt, and stir again.
  2. Let the butternut squash cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika and chile flakes. Stir, then add a splash of white wine vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, broth and quinoa. Cover and simmer until the butternut squash is tender and the quinoa is cooked through (about 40 minutes). Halfway through, I like to taste and adjust seasonings. Add additional spices if you like.
  3. When the soup is nearly done, add in a few handfuls of chopped kale. Stir and let it cook until wilted (about 5 minutes more). Taste, and adjust seasonings again.
  4. Store leftover soup in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze.
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This picture is from “Love and Lemons” ~ They have a beautiful blog full of delicious!

Setting up for Foodie Friday… A whole new meal plan!

Insanity Max:30 meets 21 Day Fix!

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I am on week 5 of ShaunT’s Insanity Max:30 workout program.  It is serious, hardcore fitness, and I LOVE ME SOME SHAUNT!  What I wasn’t really doing until this week though, was following the meal plan exactly.  I eat pretty well anyway, with whole foods and made from scratch everything and all that…

21-Day-Fix-bannerBut this week I also started  mentoring a group doing the 21 Day Fix.  With 21 Day Fix, it’s such a short time, so following the meal plan is INTEGRAL to success – and coincidentally, the meal plans for Max 30 and 21 Day Fix are the same.  It’s all about portion control, eating a few less carbs, and eating a few more servings of protein and vegetables.  The group is a PERFECT opportunity for me to get serious about the meal plan for Month 2 of Max 30, and continuously post meal ideas for the 21 Day Fixies.

The Eating Plan:

containersHonestly, there isn’t a “diet” in 21 Day Fix or Insanity Max:30. The eating program uses a color coded system of containers and a Shakeology Shaker Cup to give you perfect portion sizes every time.  I think most people don’t have a clear idea what the right portion sizes are for various foods ~ well, seek and ye shall find.  Indeed, the container-measured meals often end up much larger than anticipated!

  1. Green Container: For vegetables
  2. Purple Container: For fruits
  3. Red Container: For proteins
  4. Yellow Container: For carbohydrates
  5. Blue Container: For healthy fats and cheeses
  6. 2 Orange Container: seeds and oils
  7. Shakeology Cup: For mixing drinks

How it works:

  • First, the diet plan will show you how to calculate your caloric intake based on your current weight and your caloric needs:

calorie level

  • The caloric intake will lead you to know the exact number of each container and teaspoons (oils, butters) a day. The eating plan comes with 4 caloric levels, as you can see in the picture :

daily intake

  • The best thing about this program is its simplicity: fill up the containers with the food that goes with each one’s color and enjoy! You don’t have to count calories. Just choose the foods from the list that comes with the program. It’s all about portions. Portion control is what makes this program so special and revolutionary, it teaches you how to make healthy choices without restrictions or obsessions and it’s something that you’ll be able to take with you for the future.
  • The program recommends drinking a lot of water and also allows coffee and tea (I’m pretty sure you can even have a glass of wine!).
  • Autumn also recommends taking an extra green container when you are hungry because it’s hard to overeat veggies.

ANYWAY, so far so good!  It’s actually a perfect amount of food for me, eating at the 1200-1500 calorie level, and I am making some AMAZING meals.  I also can’t wait for STAT-urday, because I feel REALLY LEAN.  

Meal plans matter, folks.  You can’t outrun your fork!

Foodie Friday

Winter Garden Win!  So this year I just didn’t pull out the kale plants in the garden.  They looked fine after the frost, and then we had a serious cold snap, yet the kale was set to prevail!  So it’s still out there in the middle of winter.  It might not be as pretty as it is earlier in the year, BUT, I read that the taste is less bitter and less “kale-y” in the cold – TRUE!  I was inspired to USE SOME OF THE MAGIC FROZEN KALE….

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photo by localkitchener.ca

So what I made…  Hearty, delicious, filled with colour – the dressing was DIVINE.

Barley Kale Tabbouleh

Prep time  15 mins;  Cook time  20 mins; Total time 35 mins 
From Michael Smith’s Family Meals Cookbook
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4 large kale leaves, tough center stems trimmed away (I used more)
  • 1 cup (250mL) of any barley
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) of salt
  • A handful of finely chopped parsley
  • Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint (500mL) of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large dill pickle, minced

DRESSING…

  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) of honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) of your favorite mustard
  • ½ teaspoon (2mL) of salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2mL) of your favorite hot sauce
 
Instructions
  1. Stack the kale leaves, then roll them up tightly. Slice them as thinly as possible, forming fine threads. Cram into a small saucepan and add ¼ cup (60mL) of water. Cover and cook over high heat until the kale softens, just 2 or 3 minutes. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool.
  2. Measure the barley into the same saucepan and add 3 cups (750mL) of water and the salt. Bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Cover tightly and continue cooking until the grains swell, absorbing the water and tenderizing, about 30 minutes.  (I did mine separately right in my rice cooker)
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Throw in the tender barley, the kale, parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes and pickle. Toss the works together, evenly mixing the flavors, textures and colours.  Serve and share!
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So at the end I cut up some left over chicken satay skewers and put them on top with some feta cheese… FAN-FRIKKIN-TASTIC!!!

 

Smokey Black Bean Hummus

Smokey Black Bean Hummus

Even though “Hummus” is actually Arabic for “chickpea”  and there’re no chickpeas here….

Start to finish @ 25 minutes; Makes: 1 2/3 cupsblack-bean-green-chile-hummus

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (I used chives from the garden
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (I used EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or make from scratch!)
  • 1/2 cup water (I didn’t add this….)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped canned chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Saute onions in oil with coriander and cumin until very tender, stirring (10 minutes or so)

Transfer onion mixture to a food processor or blender; add black beans, lime juice, chipotle pepper, cilantro, and salt; blend until smooth.  SO here’s where you could add 1/2 cup of water.  I looked at it and thought “why would I do that, it looks perfect….”

We had this spread on a whole wheat tortilla/wrap with spinach, romaine, tomato, green pepper and a sliced grilled chicken breast.  It was a PERFECT lunch!!!!

Chicken & Vegetables en Papillote

I made these delicious packets of goodness for dinner tonight and they were WONDERFUL!  Just the right amount of tanginess from the lemon and artichoke, and just the right cookedness for the asparagus   Prep: 35 minutes; Bake @ 30 minutes; Oven 400F; 4 servings

  • 1lb boneless Moldiv_1399946664099skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dry)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 10 oz asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 6 oz pea pods, trimmed (2 cups)
  • 1 cup (I used the whole can) canned artichoke hearts, quartered (I halved)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp (or more!) chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives or chopped green onions

1. cut chicken breasts into 1 inch slices (I cut the long way to make strips, but it says to go crossways).  In a medium bowl combine oil, oregano, thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, pepper.  Add chicken and toss to coat, let stand while preparing veggies

2. on “large enough” pieces of foil, arrange asparagus, pea pods, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and parsley – I layered them all; top with servings of chicken; then with servings of the green onions (amount will depend on how many packets you want to make).

3. fold up foil packets, place on baking sheets, and bake for 20+ minutes at 400F.  Check and see if chicken is pink.  (I ended up cooking for 35 minutes, but my chicken strips were THICK)

If you make this into 4 servings:  250 calories each, 8g fat (1g saturated), 498mg sodium, 13g carbs, 6g fiber, 31g protein