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!
- 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
- Place zest, lemon juice, dijon, vinegar, capers/brine, and minced garlic in a bowl and mix well.
- Place chopped onion and the rest of the garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Put drumsticks on top of onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Pour lemon mixture over top of chicken and let marinate for 3-12 hours.
- Cook chicken on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours
Serve with whole grain (or gluten-free) pasta
Sauce for Pasta
- 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)
- Heat oil over medium heat and sautee onions and garlic.
- Add lemon juice and mix. Heat until simmering and add capers.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes
- Toss with pasta
It was great and we have leftovers for lunch!
There is so much information out there about how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. The do’s, don’ts, rules, regulations, and laws are just enough to make you crazy! Much of the nutrition information out there isn’t even from someone legit. Side note: I’m not here to call out the fakes although some days I would like to, I’m here to give you feasible and educated information so that you can work through it to find whats best to move your health forward.
There’s no cookie cutter right way or wrong way of eating. There’s no perfect diet and that’s the great thing about nutrition! It’s always a journey to be better, to eat better. I don’t want to tell you what to eat, I simply want to give guidance and recommendations letting you choose what to change.
Here are 10 simple guidelines for a better diet:
- Eat less. Even if that’s all you change, just eating less will improve your overall health because chances are you eat more than you should. This not only helps with weight management but studies show that being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Try smaller plates, keeping food in the kitchen instead of on the table, and ordering smaller sizes at restaurants.
- Eat more often. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to keep you from getting ravenously hungry and lets your metabolism run smoothly. Small nutrient rich snacks in between meals are key. Think about foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, string cheese, fruit, and veggies.
- Slow down. Enjoy the flavors of your food. It should take you 15-30 minutes to eat a meal. As a mom of twins and a four year old sometimes when I give that advice I think HAH yeah right! But seriously food should be savored not scarfed. When is the last time you truly smelled, tasted, and felt what you were eating? Food is as much for nourishment as it is for the soul.
- Eat more vegetables. The recommendations are to eat at least 3 servings daily. If you can get more than 3 servings that is AWESOME! Eat up! 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup lightly steamed or raw are considered servings. Lunch and dinner are perfect for vegetables but there’s no stopping you from sauteing mushrooms and spinach with your eggs for breakfast or crunching on some snap peas with hummus for a snack.
- Eat just enough fruits. Shoot for at least 2 daily. Local seasonal fruits are packed with nutrients and super delicious! Blueberries in the summer, apples in the fall, tropical fruit in the winter, strawberries in the spring. Head to your local farmers market for the best deals and watch the sale adds in your grocery store for budgeting.
- Work in some whole grains. Don’t box yourself into just whole wheat. I mean, wheat is fine but branch out a bit! Think about barley, farro, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, brown and black rice…the list could go on! Whole grains provide tons of fiber, protein, and B vitamins. Get as whole as possible!
- Forget the fat fear. Fat should not be avoided! Especially plant fats. Eat avocados, olives, oils, nuts, and/or seeds regularly. Animal fats like butter, sour cream, and cream cheese are fine in small amounts. Try to buy organic animal products when possible. That’s a post for another day!
- Spice it up! Instead of adding a ton of salt to food try herbs and spices. I’ve used Gourmet Garden’s guide when trying new ones http://www.gourmetgarden.com/en/herb-guide. I think it’s the most helpful pairing guide out there.
- Love the legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients. Not only are they amazing for your health but they are budget friendly. Legumes go great in soups, salads, and side dishes. Because they are so high in protein you can use them instead of meat!
- Go to a dietitian and talk about your nutrition goals. When looking for the best nutrition advice do not go to a doctor, chiropractor, “nutritionist”, health coach, or any other self proclaimed nutrition guru. I promise that I have made right so many wrongs from past clients that have gone to these people about their diets first. Interested in seeing a dietitian, check out: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert. Look for the credentials “RDN” (Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist), “RD” (Registered Dietitian), “LD” (Licensed Dietitian), or “LDN” (Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist).
Diet isn’t a four letter word. Diet is simply what you eat day in and day out. Having a love hate relationship with food is no way to live. Enjoy food and be comfortable with it and around it. Health and wellness isn’t about torturing your body, starving yourself, avoiding food, and guilt trips. It’s about saddling up for a delicious adventure that will take you from where you are to a healthier you.
Final thoughts: I don’t know where each and every one of you are at on your journey through the wide world of nutrition but I do know this: I’ve been a dietitian for over a decade and I’ve talked to many people. The ones who are willing to take the guidance, take action, take the steps to improve their diet, and take accountability for choices are the ones who continue to progress towards a healthy eating pattern.
Nutrition Challenge: this week take a look at your diet and decide what you’d like to change about it. Work on one change that is most important to you.