Garlic Lemon Artichoke Chicken

My family has had an “eventful” 2017. Don’t get me wrong it’s been full of blessings but it was also filled with multiple stomach bugs (one of which took out my younger son for over a month), learning how to handle very active twin boys (apparently this is not for the faint of heart!), my daughter starting kindergarten, and the passing of my beloved Grandmother. In this whirlwind, I lost sight of meal planning and my usual homecooked meals were comprised of quick fixes like sloppy joes, tacos, breakfast for dinner, leftovers (thanks Mom and Dad), and (full disclosure) fast food/takeout.

Look, this is life and seasons in life, but it doesn’t have to last forever (or for years on end). So this week I decided that I was going to plan meals (AND FOLLOW THROUGH). Sometimes though, you just need inspiration. I mean having the same thing over and over again is just not for me. Flipping through the millions of Pinterest ideas I came across one that uses garlic, lemons, artichokes, and caperberries along with spices I’ve never heard of before. So I decided to SIMPLIFY things without losing the flavor dimensions.

This is a slow cooker recipe but you could also brine this all day and then bake it before dinner. I made it with pasta but you could also serve it with rice, potatoes, quinoa or another grain/starch. Broccoli pairs well with the lemon flavor of the chicken but you could also serve this with a side salad or another vegetable of your choice.

Remeber I’m into EASY recipes that do not take a lot of prep time or purchasing power. This is one of those dump dump mix and set. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons capers plus the brine that is poured in with it
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 cloves garlic diced (larger chunks)
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place zest, lemon juice, dijon, vinegar, capers/brine, and minced garlic in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Place chopped onion and the rest of the garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Put drumsticks on top of onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over top of chicken and let marinate for 3-12 hours.
  5. Cook chicken on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours

Serve with whole grain (or gluten-free) pasta

Sauce for Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy spread (butter would work great too)
  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoons capers (with juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat and sautee onions and garlic.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix. Heat until simmering and add capers.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes
  4. Toss with pasta

It was great and we have leftovers for lunch!

Thai Chicken Salad

Guys no joke, this was a recipe that I’d never attempted before and I’m so sorry I waited this long. Sure I’ve eaten a Thai salad, I loooove Thai food, and I’ve Pinned tons of Thai recipes…but to be honest I cook very little Asian cuisine at home even though I love it. I went out on a limb just like I encourage all of my readers to do (I would never tell you to do something I would never do myself).

Sometimes people get freaked out when trying a new recipe or a new cuisine at home because they think they’ll need to spend a lot of money on specialty items. The only “specialty” ingredients that I had to buy were rice vinegar and sesame oil. To be honest sometimes I have rice vinegar hanging around because it’s delicious and sometimes it just adds that sweet and sour pop a recipe needs. Regardless, nothing super special except the TASTE!

I’ve talked about my daughter before…she can be a picky eater especially if she’s not
used to the food. Recently, she started cooking with me and this has helped her open up to the foods she has prepared. For this recipe she helped me shred veggies, pour and measure ingredients, and taste the final product. She loved the “brown peanut dressing” (that’s what she calls it). It got her stamp of approval!

This recipe is full of nourishment. From the vegetables to the edamame and the dressing, this salad will give your body so many nutrients from all of these plant foods. To be honest, you could keep out the chicken and it wouldn’t be missing a thing because these vegetables are so filling, crunchy, and satisfying! Can you tell how much I love this recipe?

Nutrition Side Note: Edamame are actually soy beans in their immature form. You can find these in the pods or already shelled either in the produce section or the frozen foods section. I usually get them frozen and just steam ’em up. Soy is beneficial for most people. It gets a bad rap but there is actually little scientific evidence to refute its benefit (given appropriate intake)…even for those with breast cancer and other estrogen related diseases. Take for instance the amazingly low breast and thyroid cancer rates in countries where girls begin eating soy at a very young age. The benefits of soy have been shown with edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk, tofu, miso, and tempeh. It is NOT beneficial to eat processed soy lecithin and other soy derived additives in food. Check out what MD Anderson (one of the countries top cancer hospitals) has to say about soy.

Lets dig in to this recipe just like you’ll be digging in to your salad!

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 English cucumber without seeds sliced (seeding it is optional)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup red pepper (julienned)
  • 1/4 cup shredded celery
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons green onion
  • 4 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed peanuts

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter (doesn’t have trans fats)
  • 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 Tablespoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Directions:

  1. Prep all of vegetables and split into 4 bowls. Place 3-4 ounces of chicken over veggies. Top with green onion, cilantro, and crushed peanuts.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing into a food processor and blend together. If you don’t have a food processor a blender will work or simply whisk very well in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad (you’ll have leftover).
  4. Enjoy!

NOTES:

  1. You will not need the entire rotisserie chicken so use it for a leftover meal!
  2. You’ll have extra peanut dressing…enjoy!
  3. Use more veggies! Radishes and purple cabbage would be a great addition.
  4. Shrimp would go great in this in place of chicken.
  5. If you are allergic to peanuts try substituting sunflower butter and coconut milk instead. Check out this recipe from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

Nutrition Side Note: Mom’s to be DO NOT be afraid to eat peanuts or peanut butter (if you are clearly not allergic). Parents of little ones: it is actually beneficial to start your kiddos eating peanuts/peanut butter at an early age to reduce the risk of a peanut allergy. Check out this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the new peanut guidelines. To be honest, I started all of my kiddos at 1 year but I also ate peanuts/peanut butter during pregnancy and ate a lot of peanut butter while breastfeeding. There may be no right or wrongs but it’s worth looking in to.

I branched out of my cooking comfort zone. Boy am I grateful I did. This recipe is a keeper and I’m pretty stoked about having it again in a few weeks! Try it…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Lemon, Lime, Garlic Chicken

I love the Food Network. Of course I have my favorite shows and hosts that I watch. One of the coolest is Ina Garten. Right after the twins were born, my mom, husband, and I were getting our daily dose of the Food Network while trying to survive sleeplessness. She was preparing her Lemon Chicken and we all looked at each other and knew what to do…we had to get that in our bellies! My mom made it for us and we were blown away by the amazing flavor!

This recipe is inspired by Ina and my mom being a rock star and making her wonderful recipe. Mine is not quite Ina’s but it’s good…good enough to make again and again and again.

This recipe features chicken thighs. And you’re thinking “But why!? They aren’t as healthy as chicken breasts?” Well, they are much more budget friendly. Please do not think that you have to always choose chicken breast to be healthy. Chicken thighs are a better option than beef and if you buy boneless skinless they are surprisingly pretty lean!

 

Listen: I’d rather you eat healthy on a budget than eat poorly because you think you can’t afford it.

At any rate, I’m not sure if you like back stories and the narrative of how I cook it. Usually when a blogger posts a recipe and has soooo much to say I honestly flip right past and read the recipe. If you do like the narrative, comment and let me know but for now I’m going to limit that and just put up the recipe with notes.

Lemon, Lime, Garlic Chicken

Photo cred: Molly Statler Photography

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion diced (I actually used frozen green onions that I had saved)
  • 6 cloves of garlic…more if you love garlic
  • 1 lemon with zest
  • 1 lime with zest
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • dash of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup water (in the crock pot)

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat combine oil, onion, garlic, lemon and lime zest, and the herbs and spices. Heat and then add the juice of the lemon and lime. Turn down to medium heat and add the honey when the mixture is simmering. Salt to taste (optional).
  2. Add chicken thighs to the sauce pan and allow the mixture to cover them. Cook for 1-2 minutes just enough for the coating to get on the chicken.
  3. Place chicken and all of the sauce in the crock pot and pour 1/2 cup of water over the chicken (if you are cooking it on low for 8-10 hours you may want to use 1 cup of water).
  4. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.

It came out deliciously! I served it with cilantro lime rice and baby carrots.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I love the frozen steamer bags in a pinch)
  • 1 lime zest and juice
  • 1/8 cup cilantro (or more if you love cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon Earths Balance spread (you can use butter or another type of trans-fat free spread)
  • salt and pepper to taste

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did. It was easy, simple, and pairs well with a lot of side dishes. Enjoy!

Smokey Chicken

This week my family (all 5 of us) were sick. We got a bad head cold and it ran through us like the plague! I hadn’t cooked all week because we were just surviving and who feels like cooking when you can’t taste it anyway, am I right? Finally last night I could kind of breathe again so I decided to make this delicious dish.

I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked really good a few months ago. What happens when I find recipes though, is I look for ways to “Amanda-fy” them…make them more of something that I’d like to eat, cook, or try out. This is one of those recipes that went from a Pinterest idea to something different.

Nutrition Lesson

Everyone talks about chicken breast and it being super lean source of protein. It really is BUT it can be more expensive than chicken thighs or drumsticks. Not everyone in the world has an unlimited budget that they can just willy nilly spend on food. I will be the first to tell you eating well does not have to be more expensive but there are certain tips and tricks I have in order to be able to say that with confidence. Like this chicken for instance. Although boneless skinless chicken breast is lean, chicken thighs and drumsticks aren’t as high in fat as most red meats.

I want us to be clear on what LEAN really means. When dietitians talk “lean meats” we are talking about the amount of fat in meats. For instance, haddock (the fish) is in the running for the leanest meat because it has a verrrrry tiny amount of fat in a 3 ounce serving (like about 1 gram of fat naturally). So when we say “lean” we are talking fat grams per 3 ounce serving. The leaner the meat the less fat it has, the less fat it has the less saturated fat (not so good for your heart fats) it has, the less saturated fat it has usually the less cholesterol it has (the stuff that can clog up your arteries), the less cholesterol it has usually the better it is for your heart and overall health.

Below is a nice little chart that shows how lean each meat is (I put them in order from least lean to leanest).

Meat Serving Calories Fat Grams

Saturated Fat

4 chicken wings 3 oz 426 35.9 14.1
Sausage links 3 oz 331 27 9.6
Prime rib 3 oz 276 21.6 8.7
Ground beef (80/20) 3 oz 230 15.2 5.7
Sirloin 3 oz 207 12.0 4.8
Bacon 3 slices 138 10.7 3.5
Ground beef (90/10) 3 oz 184 10.0 3.9
Chicken thigh (no skin) 3 oz 178 9.3 2.6
Ground turkey (93/7) 3 oz 128 7.1 1.8
Chicken breast (skin) 3 oz 156 7.0 1.8
Salmon 3 oz 144 5.7 1.2
Chicken drumstick (no skin) 3 oz 146 4.8 1.3
Pork loin or chop 3 oz 122 3.0 1.0
Chicken breast (no skin) 3 oz 122 3.0 0.7
Haddock 3 oz 95 0.8 0.1
Tuna 3 oz 99 0.7 0.2

Table information gathered from RD411, Calorie King, and Calorie Counter.

Yes. You read that right. Four wings. Not 6, not 12 but just 4. Regardless, the point of this blog is that skinless chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breast are all better choices than beef. Venison, grass-fed beef, buffalo, bison, and other wild game are in an awesome category of their own.

When eating well and eating on a budget needs to go hand in hand, stick with me and this blog. I won’t lead you astray!

Smoked paprika is the star of the show for this recipe. It’s not something I use often but it is good too have on hand, especially when you want to throw in a subtle hint of smoke and beautiful red color!

So here’s the recipe you voted for and were waiting so long to get your hands on!

Smokey Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 5 drumsticks (you can also use 2-3 breasts)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your love of spice)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place apple cider vinegar, canola oil, garlic, and all of the spices into an iron skillet (or oven safe pan). Heat until simmering.
  2. Place drumsticks with the skin removed or pulled down into the skillet. Cook on the stove top for 5 minutes on each side of the drumstick.
  3. Place skillet into the oven for 15 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

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NOTES:

  • For more drumsticks just double the recipe on the vinegar, oil, spices. Extra isn’t a bad thing!
  • For breasts make sure you don’t dry them out.
  • INTERNAL TEMPERATURE IS SUPER IMPORTANT! Get yourself a food thermometer ($5 at walmart) or a more fancy version (I have one that goes into the oven with the meat and tells me when it’s done).
  • For more smoke add more smoked paprika
  • I served my smokey chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli…it was delicious!

How do you use smoked paprika?

Healthy Kitchen Shortcuts

I have 3 kids, 4 and under. Don’t be alarmed, two of those are twins. My goal as a wife-mom-dietitian is to provide the best food I can for my family. That means making healthy, homemade meals in between diapers, spit up, and toddler problems.

Cooking dinner tonight I came up with this blog post. You can read about me in my bio section but I like to get as fresh and as local as possible. But let’s get real, sometimes we are looking for healthy AND quick. Taking shortcuts has been my go-to since having children.

Here are the 5 quick and healthy items I keep in my kitchen always:

  1. Minced garlic. Yep, I buy the garlic in the glass container and I LOVE IT! Almost everything I cook has garlic in it. Any time I need a clover or two I get in my refrigerator, grab a spoon and boom, it’s done! Fresh garlic is delicious but when I need a time saver (which is daily at this point) I go with it!
  2. Diced frozen onions. Similar to the garlic, I could grow my own onions, dice, and freeze them and someday I will. But right now I need diced onions without having onion juice all over my hands when the babies are screaming. Frozen diced onions it is! This only works if you’re cooking, if you are making a dish that isn’t cooked (summer salsa, salads, etc) then use fresh onions.
  3. Frozen veggies of all types. When I’m making vegetable soup in the winter I buy frozen. If I have any fresh then of course they go in the pot but frozen is so much better than fresh in the winter. All year long I keep frozen broccoli and cauliflower bulk bags in my freezer. Corn isn’t a veggie but that’s also a staple frozen food that we keep on hand.
  4. Lemon and lime juice concentrate. There’s nothing better than fresh lemons or limes but in a pinch, concentrate can be a recipe saver. You can use the concentrate in any recipe that calls for lemon or lime juice so it works well in fish and chicken dishes, salsa, sauces, and tea.
  5. Quick grains like quinoa, farro, and brown minute rice. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and farro (pronounced fare-oh) are whole grains packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients. All three of these power packed grains cook completely in about 15 minutes unlike regular brown rice or other grains that may take about an hour to cook. To flavor these up toast them in a dry pan first and then cook with vegetable or chicken broth or stock.

I’ve learned, after having twins, that sometimes shortcuts are A-OK and you have to be A-OK with the shortcuts. Cooking healthy doesn’t have to mean preparing a gourmet meal, using tons of ingredients or ingredients that you have to find at a specialty food store, or spending hours in the kitchen.

Final thoughts: We unfortunately do not live on a cooking show set where there are tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs/spices, and any ingredient we so desire. Sometimes we need shortcuts to make our lives easier especially when cooking for our family day in and day out. Use some shortcuts to make your life simpler!

Challenge – if you are overwhelmed with cooking and menu planning for your family, figure out which shortcuts would work best for you and run with it! Share your shortcuts with us!