Archive for HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES

Tangy Coleslaw

This is not your typical coleslaw.  I created this recipe to go with my fish tacos (find the recipe here), but I wanted a healthier version of the tradition mayo-base coleslaw.

My recipe does not use any mayo, and it also has a few HEALTHIER-FOR-YOU ingredients that kick up the flavor as well as the nutrition.  

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Tangy Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags (10-oz each) angel hair coleslaw (or 12 cups finely shredded cabbage)
  • 6 tablespoons fresh parsley

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (you can use honey, but the molasses is healthier for you…read more about its amazing health benefits here.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia sweetener (or you can add 2 more tablespoons of honey)

Directions:

Place the sliced cabbage in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the parsley.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and parsley.

Toss the ingredients together. Refrigerate the coleslaw until you’re ready to serve your meal. This will give it time to let the flavors meld.

Serve along with your favorite meal and ENJOY!

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No Tomato Chili

My family loves chili. Chili with rice, chili dogs, chili with Frito’s corn chips, or Chili with Doritos chips — you name it, we love it.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I get heartburn when I eat foods that contain too much tomatoes, and most chili recipes (mine included) are tomato-based.

I created this recipe for two specific reasons. First, I wanted to create a tomato-less chili recipe to keep the heartburn at bay. Second, as you’ll read below, I wanted to create a healthier recipe that is right in line with my attempt at eating “cleaner”.

You’ll see my basic recipe below, but scroll down a bit for some ingredient substitutions that make this a better choice when you feel like indulging in this, a typically UNhealthy (but oh-so-delicious) menu option.

Give my recipe a try, and if you can, swap out the usual ingredients for the healthier options. I think you’ll like it, and your body will thank you for it too. 😉

No Tomato Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef *(see note 1 below)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 roasted poblano chilies, diced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *(see note 2 below)
  • 1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock *(see note 3 below)
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed *(see note 4 below)
  • 3/4 cup tomatillo salsa
  • Optional:  2 smoked chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce
  • Optional:  1/4 cup sour cream *(see note 5 below)

*Ingredient Substitutions for a Healthy Version of my Chili Recipe:

Note 1:  Instead of ground beef, opt for ground turkey, or boneless, skinless chicken breast. Look for free-range chickens (and turkeys too, for that matter) if you can find it (read more about this below).

If you have a husband like mine who prefers ground beef chili, buy good quality beef that’s relatively low in fat.

An even better choice is to buy grass-fed beef, if you can find any in your grocery store. Cows that are NOT grass-fed are typically fed a mixture of grains and animal byproducts. Now what cows do you know of that naturally feeds on animals? The photo below shows an example of a label for grass-fed beef. There is a stamp on the label that states it was inspected and passed by the USDA.  You should also look for a USDA Organic stamp on the label. Most importantly, in addition to seeing “Grass Fed” on the label, you should also see that there are no antibiotics, hormones or preservatives in the meat.

Note 2:  I’m not gluten-intolerant, but for the next few weeks, I’m going gluten-free AND corn-free. If you recall my recipe for Beer Chili, I add crushed corn tortilla chips to serve as both a flavoring as well as a thickening agent.  I had to figure out what type of non-wheat or non-corn flour would serve the purpose of thickening the chili without adding contrasting/offending flavors. 

This substitution nixes the all-purpose flour and tortilla chips and uses stone-ground rice flour instead.  The rice flour thickens the chili nicely without masking the traditional chili flavors.

Note 3: The best chicken stock in my view is homemade stock…if you have the time to make some, that is. I’m usually looking for time-savers in the kitchen, so I buy chicken stock most of the time. This substitution calls for organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens. Like grass-fed beef, free-range chickens are just that–chickens allowed to roam free and eat what they naturally eat, not a feed mixture that also usually contains animal byproducts, hormones and antibiotics.

Look for broth that is low in sodium. You also want to see that USDA Ogranic stamp on the packaging.

I’m a big fan of reading ingredient labels too. Not all organic and free-range broths are all that healthy. Most contain added sugar (to compensate for the decreased sodium). I’ve also found several brands that claim to be organic, but when you read the ingredient list, there is not one (or very few) ingredient that is organic! This is what you should see when you turn the box over and read the ingredient list. Organic…organic…organic…and no sugar added.

Note 4:  Now there’s not much you can do to substitute pinto beans, aside from choosing to soak and cook dry beans or buying canned beans. Remember when I stated earlier that I’m all for saving time in the kitchen? Well, that means soaking and cooking dried beans are out–I buy canned beans all the time.

The substitution I’m advocating for here is to look for cans that claim to have a Non-BPA lining. This photo shows what I’m talking about.

BPA is the common acronym for the industrial chemical, bisphenol A, found in thousands of commercial products. BPA has been linked with reproductive problems, brain impairments, cancer, obesity and more. Eliminating exposure to BPA is probably not possible, but you can take measures to reduce your exposure.

For example, rinse food (like canned beans) from cans before eating or cooking. Choose ceramic, glass or other microwave-friendly dishes, instead of plastic. Don’t use plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 (look on the bottom of the container for the number) and look for (and don’t use) plastic bottles with scratches on them.

 

Note 5:  Adding sour cream is completely optional in this recipe.  I do like the tang that you get by adding sour cream.  To go (cow) dairy free, substitute with sheep’s milk plain yogurt, or omit the sour cream altogether.

 

I hope I didn’t scare you off trying my recipe. It’s really delicious even if you DON’T make these substitutions, I promise!

With these 5 simple substitutions, you can turn this recipe into a healthy version of traditional chili.  At the risk of being repetitively redundant (get it? 🙂 ), give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

 

Directions:

1.  Place a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken pieces).

2.  Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, sea salt and black pepper to the pot.

3.  Stir well; cook until the meat is browned.

4.  Add the onions to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.

5.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.  Cook for about a minute.

6.  Add the flour to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly mix the flour into the meat mixture.

7.  Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring the mixture as you add the liquid.  Turn the heat up to high.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

8.  While the chili is cooking, roast the poblano chilies.  I just place the peppers over one of the burners on my gas stove.

9.  Rotate the pepper as it grills to ensure even cooking.

***Don’t do what I did and forget to peel off the charred skin! Or, you can forget, like I did, but then you’ll be fishing blackened pepper skin out of your chili. 😉

To remove the charred skin, let the peppers cool slightly.  After the peppers cool, use a damp paper towel to rub the charred skin off the peppers.

10.  Cut the peppers in strips, lengthwise, then dice them into small pieces.

11.  Add the peppers to the pot.  If you want to add the optional chipotle peppers and chipotle Tabasco, add them to the pot now.

12.  Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot.

13.  Stir in the tomatillo salsa.

Note:  I bought a jar of organic tomatillo salsa for this recipe, but you can make your own from scratch.

14.  Place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.

15.  The chili should be nice and thick by now.  Stir in the optional sour cream (note that I did NOT add any sour cream to the chile pictured in this recipe).  Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings and salt to your liking.

Serve with rice (I opted for brown rice) or chips and ENJOY!

 

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Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Tangy Coleslaw

This is not your typical fish taco.  It’s even better if you ask me, but then I might be a bit biased. 😉

When I think of fish tacos, I picture battered fried fish, cabbage slaw, and a spicy mayo, all wrapped in a corn tortilla.

I’m trying to eat healthier meals, so I created this version where I bake instead of fry the fish.  I also created a tangy coleslaw that uses no mayo, but some surprise HEALTHIER-FOR-YOU ingredients that kick up the flavor as well as the nutrition.  You won’t see spicy mayo drizzled over my version either.  Instead, I made a mango salsa that pairs so well with the fish and coleslaw.  To make this even better for you, I opted for lettuce leaves as my taco wrap.  Man-oh-man, are these tacos delicious!

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Fish Tacos

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Coleslaw Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (10-oz) angel hair coleslaw (or 8 cups finely shredded cabbage)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley

Coleslaw Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (you can use honey, but the molasses is healthier for you…read more about its amazing health benefits here.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia sweetener (or you can add 2 more tablespoons of honey)

Mango Salsa Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional:  1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

Fish Ingredients:

  • 4 whole orange roughy filets (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons

Other Ingredients:

  • Lettuce leaves (use Bib lettuce, Red or Green Curly Leaf Lettuce)
  • Avocado, sliced

Directions:

1.  Make the Cole Slaw.

Place the sliced cabbage in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the parsley.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and parsley.

Toss the ingredients together.  Refrigerate the coleslaw until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.  This will give it time to let the flavors meld.

2.  Make the Mango Salsa.

Cut the skin off the mango.  Dice the mango into 1/4-inch cubes.  Place into a small mixing bowl.

Add the red onions and the optional jalapeño to the bowl.

Add the cilantro.

Stir to combine the ingredients.  Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.

3.  Bake the Fish.

Cut the fish filets into halves (if they’re small) or thirds (if they’re large).  Place into a rimmed baking dish (I used a 9×13 pan).  Sprinkle both sides of the fish with the sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

Drizzle the olive oil all over the fish (top side only).

Bake the fish at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

4.  Assemble the tacos.

Slice the avocados.  Rinse and dry the lettuce leaves.  Set aside.

Place a lettuce leaf on a plate.  Add some Tangy Coleslaw on top of the lettuce leaf.  Place a piece of baked fish on top of the coleslaw.  Add a scoop of mango salsa on top of the fish.  Top with avocado slices, serve and ENJOY!

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Steamed Wild Rice

This recipe was first published with my recipe for Herb Crusted Salmon (find the recipe here).  Serve this with your favorite meat or fish dish and ENJOY!

Steamed Wild Rice

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups wild rice medley (use your rice cooker cup)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups water (use your rice cooker cup), or you can use organic, fat free chicken broth

 Directions:

Place all of the ingredients for the Wild Rice into your rice cooker pot.  Turn the pot to “cook”.  Let the rice continue steaming in the pot (keep the lid closed) for 5 minutes after the rice cooker turns to the “warm” setting.  Fluff with a fork if required.

IMG_3606 IMG_3613

ENJOY!

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Gumbo-laya

My family loves both Gumbo and Jambalaya. Today, we couldn’t decide which dish to make so I combined the two and made a combo that I call Gumbo-laya. 😉

What’s the difference, you ask?

Gumbo is a soup, made with a base of a very dark roux (made from cooking oil and flour until it turns dark brown). Gumbo also has okra, which helps to thicken the soup. The meat in gumbo depends on what you prefer, but it usually has some type of sausage (usually pork Andouille sausage) and seafood (shrimp and lump crab meat).

Jambalaya is a rice dish (not soupy at all) where the rice is cooked with the meat, along with onions, celery, peppers, stock and seasonings. It does not contain a roux since it isn’t soupy. Jambalaya also usually adds tomatoes.

My Gumbo-laya has a combo of the two. It’s soupy, uses a roux (but not a dark one) to thicken it, has okra and tomatoes along with the trinity of onions, celery and peppers, and of course, rice too. I use a wild rice medley in this recipe to up the health factor, but you can use the rice you have on hand.

Speaking of healthy, this recipe is actually pretty nutritious, believe it or not. Aside from the 1/2 cup of flour I used to make the roux, everything else is good for you. Here are the highlights:

  • Organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens
  • Turkey kielbasa instead of traditional high-fat Andouille sausage
  • Heart healthy olive oil (a good fat), and only a couple of tablespoons, not a half CUP like traditional gumbo
  • Organic wild rice

To keep the health benefits high, you can omit the shrimp and use shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast instead.

Give my recipe a try. It’s delicious…and I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Gumbo-laya

Ingredients:

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup wild rice medley
  • 3 cups sliced okra (you can use frozen okra)
  • 3 stalks green onions
  • Optional: Tabasco sauce

Directions:

1. Slice the kielbasa into 1/4-inch pieces, then cut each piece half. Place the sausage into a large soup pot.

2. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery to the pot. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

3. Make a small well in the middle of the pot by pushing the sausage mixture to the side. Pour the olive oil into the well.

4. Pour the flour (all at once) into the well, on top of the olive oil. Stir the flour and oil together, then stir it into the sausage mixture.

5. Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring as you pour.

6. Add the shrimp and chopped garlic to the pot. Place a lid on the pot; continue to cook over medium high heat.

7. In a small bowl (I used the measuring cup I used for the flour–why dirty more dishes?), mix the spices/seasonings together (paprika, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme).

8. Stir the seasonings into the pot.

9. Add the drained tomatoes.

10. Add the rice.

11. Add the okra.

12. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is done. Stir occassionally. Taste to adjust for seasonings. Optional: Add a few shakes of Tabasco sauce.

Sprinkle sliced green onions on top, serve and ENJOY!

 

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