Chicken Sausage with Peppers & Onions

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This was one of my favorite meals growing up.  A few simple ingredients and easy to make.  Perfect on a sandwich, in a wrap, over pasta or served with garlic bread.  Comforting and delicious.  Taste great reheated as a leftover.

Ingredients:

4 Italian style chicken sausage links

1 medium red bell pepper cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium green bell pepper cut into 2 inch pieces

1 large yellow onion cut into cut into 2 inch pieces

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan on the stove top pan sear the sausages until browned and fully cooked.  Set aside to cool.

While the sausages cook, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.  Add peppers and onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the peppers and onions stirring occasionally until caramelized.  About 10-12 minutes.

Slice the sausage into 12 inch thick coins.  Add the sausage to the pan with the peppers and onions.  Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Serve in lettuce boats, with crusty bread or a on a sandwich.

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Chili Roasted Chickpeas

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I love chickpeas so much, especially roasted chickpeas.  They can be eaten as a snack, along with a meal or a topping for a soup or salad.  You can season them to your liking either sweet or savory.  My favorite way to season them is with chili powder and sea salt because it gives them just the right balance of flavor.  I just can’t get enough of them.

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I like to use canned chickpeas.  I make sure they are in a brand that has a BPA free can.  Always drain and rinse them thoroughly before spreading onto a baking sheet.

IMG_4566 Parchment paper or aluminum foil both work perfectly fine!  Pre-heat oven to 400 F or if you like to use a toaster oven like me turn the heat up to 425.

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Season them up just the way you like.  Chili powder, garlic powder, lemon pepper and cocoa powder and cinnamon for a sweeter note are a few suggestions.  Spray with a little olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil spray and toss to fully coat.  Then get to baking!  Time varies on preference of crispiness.  I personally don’t like to make them too crispy if eating with a meal but like them extra crispy on top of a soup or a salad.

Chili Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1 can of BPA free chickpeas drained and rinsed

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 400 F or toaster oven to 425 F.  Spread the chickpeas on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  Dust the chili powder and sea salt (or whatever other seasonings you prefer), then spray with a light coating of oil spray.  Bake for 15 – 25 minutes depending on desired crispness.

They can be stored in a zip lock bag in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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Chickpea Pasta with Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Basil (Caprese)

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If you are looking for a comforting meal with refreshing Spring flavors made with lots of fresh ingredients this this Caprese inspired Chickpea Pasta with Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil is just what you need.  Dressed with a balsamic olive oil blend for a tangy and robust bite.

It’s super easy to make and can be made in advance to eat as a side dish with meat or fish, on top of a greens salad or a cozy pasta dish in itself.

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Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pasta (I used Banza Cavatappi Chickpea Pasta)

2 cups cherry tomatoes halved

2 cup fresh mozzarella cut 1 into 1/2 inch chunks

1 cup fresh basil leaves chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted & slices in half lengthwise

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Combine pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil & olives in a medium bowl.  In a separate small bowl blend together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss to coat.  Add additional salt and pepper if needed to adjust flavor.

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Nutty Grain Salad with Citrus Dressing

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This grain salad is nourishing, healthy and refreshing and can be customized to your liking.  I used buckwheat groats to make this but works perfectly with any other type of grain.  Bulgur, Farro, Brown Rice and Millet are some of my top choices or you can get exotic and use Freekah or Sorghum.  The choices are endless.  Can be used as a side dish, on a green salad as stuffing for a veggie boat or eaten on its own.  If you are not a fan of chickpeas you can use black beans or white beans instead and if you are allergic to pine nuts, almonds or walnuts can be added instead.

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Ingredients

2 cups buckwheat cooked** or sub any other type of grain (bulgur, farro, brown rice)

**(Bring 3 cups water or stock to a boil add 1 cup buckwheat groats reduce heat to simmer until groats are tender and fully cooked.  Drain excess water and rinse in a strainer.)

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed

1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks

1 bunch scallions, greens and whites finely chopped, about ½ cup

Handful flatleaf parsley roughly chopped, about ½ cup

½ cup pine nuts

Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the dressing:

½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

In a medium bowl add the buckwheat, chickpeas, carrots, scallions and parsley and combine well.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a separate small bowl make the dressing.  Combine olive oil, orange juice, agave nectar, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Combine well until fully blended and pour over the buckwheat mixture.  Mix to combine and let sit for at least 20 minutes for flavors to absorb.

In the meantime toast the pine nuts.  On the stove top heat a small pan on medium high heat until hot.  Add the pine nut tossing constantly until they start to brown.  Remove from heat and add to salad mixture for a toasty nutty crunch.

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Atkins Nutritionals – Eat Right, Not Less

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I am a big fan of the Atkins shakes because as a busy mom of 3 kids I don’t always have the time to eat and prepare meals, even if meal prep is involved. While I’m running errands, driving around, taking the kids to after school activities or going to the gym it’s much easier to drink something than it is to eat with a fork or spoon. The Atkins Mocha Latte Shakes fit perfectly with my healthy lifestyle and help crave my sweet tooth. Each shake contains 15 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and only 160 calories. They are creamy and delicious. Perfect for that moment when I’m feeling hungry and just don’t have time to eat.

You can find more information about Atkins shakes here:

https://www.atkins.com/products/atkins-shakes/shakes/mocha-latte-shake

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Choosing a low glycemic eating approach is beneficial to our health because the control of blood sugar and insulin levels is one of the keys to reducing our risk of heart disease and diabetes. This approach to eating is also useful for controlling your appetite – and for those interested in weight loss, it helps there too.

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“Glycemic” means “relating to the sugar or glucose in the blood.” The glycemic load simply estimates how much a food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. The greater the glycemic impact of a food, the greater and more rapid its impact is on your blood sugar level—and that may cause your body to produce greater levels of insulin to return your blood sugar to a normal level.

Source: https://www.atkins.com/our-mission

Eating foods with a lower glycemic index not only can help you to live heart healthy, it may reduce the risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which can increase your risk of having a heart attack or suffering a stroke.

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https://www.atkins.com/products/atkins-shakes/shakes/mocha-latte-shake

Celebrate The Big Game Day with Whole Foods Market!

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We all know that the Super Bowl is not just about the game but also about the food!  My local Whole Foods Market and their amazing catering menu makes it easy.

There menu offers a large variety of delicious choices to choose from including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, making it super convenient to please every type of eater!  Honestly I spent a good 45 minutes trying to make up my mind what I wanted to order because of all the options.

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/choose?utm_source=zestmylemon.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=influencerne&utm_content=zestmylemon

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I am all about the Thai Lettuce Cup Platter which includes all the proteins, veggies, sauces and toppings.  Everything is freshly prepared, individually packed and ready for your guests to build there own lettuce cup creations.  It also looks very appetizing and appealing set up on your table and will have your guests impressed.

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My carnivorous husband on the other hand likes to stick with the traditional favorites like buffalo wings, sliders and deli sandwiches so when he saw the Lower East Side deli platter on the menu he had to have it.  All the fresh baked breads and fixings are included plus I know the meats are nitrate free and sustainably sourced so the quality is at its best!

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Order your Big Game Day catering spread today!  Trust me you will see exactly what I am talking about!

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/choose?utm_source=zestmylemon.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=influencerne&utm_content=zestmylemon

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Lobster Salad with Chickpea Pasta

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This Lobster Salad recipe can be used by itself without the pasta and served on a buttered toasted roll with potato chips and a pickle on the side, on slider buns, on top of a greens salad or with crackers as an appetizer.  It can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

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Ingredients:

4 Lobster tails 4-5 oz. each

Extra virgin olive oil

garlic powder

1/2 pound chickpea pasta (or any other pasta of choice)

2 stalks celery chopped (about 1/2 cup)

scallion bunch chopped (about 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons red onion finely chopped

parsley bunch roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)

fresh dill bunch roughly chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

3-4 tablespoons good mayonnaise

juice of 2 lemons

fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Slice down the center of each lobster tail with a sharp knife and split crack the tails so meat is exposed.  Place each tail on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Season with garlic powder, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.  Wrap each tail with the foil slightly loose giving a little room to steam within the foil packet.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until lobster is pink and tender.

While the lobster cooks prepare the pasta.  Bring pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and let cook until tender and slightly al dente.  Drain a toss with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.  Set aside to cool.

Remove the lobster from the oven and set aside to cool.  If you like the claw meat  and prefer a full steamed lobster follow the same steps as the preparing the tails except reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes.  Once the lobster is cooled remove as much meat from the shell as possible using a claw crackers or a nut cracker if necessary and add to a large bowl.

Break up the lobster meat leaving some large chunks.  Add the celery, scallions, red onion, parsley, dill, lemon juice and mayo and combine well.  Season with ground black pepper.  Stir in pasta and season with sea salt.  Add the cherry tomatoes as desired and serve.  Serves 4

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Celebrate the Holidays with Whole Foods Market’s Better For You Options!

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Let’s face it.  The holiday’s are a busy time of year and as much as we love to entertain our family and friends sometimes you need some help.  I am all about healthier and flavorful when it comes to my meals.  Don’t get me wrong, we all need to indulge sometimes but serving up the most tasty yet healthy side dishes keeps everyone pleased.  Serving fish and meats is always a must but the vegetarian and vegan side dish options can always satisfy any type of diet.

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I know I can always rely on my local Whole Foods when it comes to my healthy holiday side dish options.

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/JER

Always veggie packed and filled with so many delicious flavors. All the choices are tasty and made with all natural clean ingredients like this Chili Lime Cauliflower and its gluten free and vegan!

Cauliflower helps reduce the risk of cancer, improves digestion and detoxification and helps to fight inflammation.  It provides high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.  Cauliflower is also very versatile and can be used to make cauliflower crust and cauliflower rice for a healthy low carb. option.

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And as for these Feta Oregano Sweet Potatoes I have no other words but finger licking delicious!! That’s right I said FETA OREGANO SWEET POTATOES! Yummy Yum Yum!

Sweet potatoes contain Beta Carotene and are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6.  Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.  Another gluten free option.

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THEN there is the Lentil Mushroom Stuffing.  Another amazing tasty and delicious vegan option.  What are the holiday’s without a good stuffing?  A nice change from the traditional all bread stuffing’s. Lentils + Mushrooms + Stuffing….UMM YESS PLEASE!  Plus lentils include beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins and are low in calories and contain barely any fat.  

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One of my favorites is the Sauerkraut Roasted Rainbow Carrots.  The carrots are roasted to perfection and the sauerkraut gives them a delicious tangy bite.  Carrots are loaded with vitamin A and contain high sources of antioxidants such a Beta Carotene.  They help protect against cancers and heart disease.

Sauerkraut is an anti-inflammatory food packed with benefits. It’s loaded with probiotics and a good source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. This colorful side dish option is a win win for all of your guests!

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NOW don’t even get me started on the Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts!  Anyone can throw some brussels on a sheet pan, drizzle with a little EVOO and roast away but THESE brussels are taken to a whole another level.  Perfectly charred with a sweet and spicy glaze and the addition of crunchy pumpkin seeds for the finishing touch.

Brussels Sprouts are probably one of the most nutritious veggies you can eat.  These cruciferous veggies are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of nutrients including folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.

For more healthy tasty options check out the full Whole Foods Holiday Catering Menu here:

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/JER

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Nutritional Information Sources:

https://draxe.com/cauliflower/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html

https://www.livestrong.com/article/374784-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-sauerkraut/

 

Induction Cooking & Heston Cue

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Im always trying to find new innovative cooking equipment and products to help make my life easier in the kitchen and the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System sure meets my expectations. https://www.hestancue.com/

          Regardless if you are good in the kitchen or not it can be just fun as well as helpful.  The Heston Cue is an induction burner and pan equipped with Bluetooth technology and is controlled directly off an app right from my smartphone or tablet. I was able to make this restaurant quality Zaatar roasted carrots and kale salad with toasted cashews and cumin spiced yogurt easy and quickly with the step by step instructions.

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My husband Jordan is a restaurant equipment salesman and knows a lot about this stuff and even he is impressed. I will be using the Cue often for sure and I look forward to trying out the many delicious recipes the app has to offer.

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I’ve tried a few recipes so far and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

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Induction cooking coils emit magnetic energy creating a current in the food pan base. The electrical resistance in the metal them heats up the pan. The induction service does not emit heat so it’s a cleaner more efficient way of cooking and it’s 35% more efficient than gas and 45% more efficient than electric stoves.

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I’ve cooked many types of fish with the Hestan Cue like salmon and shrimp to name a few but these Spanish style shrimp was my favorite so far.

For more info on the Heston Cue check it out here with the links below or can be found at Williams Sonoma or Amazon.

https://www.hestancue.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Hestan-Cue-Smart-Cooking-System/dp/B0737B68XD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511230667&sr=8-1&keywords=hestan+cue

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/

 

Eat The Rainbow

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A well balanced diet and exercise are the keys to being healthy and physically fit.  I always try to include a lean protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and lots of fruits and veggies in each of my meals if possible.  If I eat to many carbs. in one meal such as a big pasta dinner I eliminate the carbs in the next.

It’s easy to fit in some extra protein and nutrients to a basic meal. Toss your tomatoes with hemp seeds or sprinkle some on avocado toast, add chia seeds to your yogurt to give it a little crunch or throw some pumpkin seeds in your salad.

Healthy fats are important in giving your cells structure, are a major fuel source for your body and help provide the main way you store energy.  You need fat to help you absorb certain nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and antioxidants.  Omega-3 fats, a type of unsaturated fat, are important for optimum nerve, brain and heart function.  Some examples of healthy fats are nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut.

Some lean proteins include eggs, beans, lean meats like chicken breast, top round beef and turkey, fish such salmon which contain Omega-3 and cod.

Fruits and veggies have endless benefits. I always include a variety of different colorful veggies in my meals.  The different colors of the rainbow contain different nutrients and health benefits.

Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and beets contain a natural plant pigment called lycopene.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy.

Purple / Blue fruits and veggies contain the plant pigment anthocyanin which has antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage and can help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Orange / Yellow fruits and veggies contain carotenoids. One type of carotenoid is Betacarotene which is found in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. It is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Another carotenoid called lutein is stored in the eye and has been found to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.

Green vegetables like brussels sprouts contain a range of phytochemicals including carotenoids, indoles and saponins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are also excellent sources of folate.

White fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, garlic and bananas contain a range of health-promoting phytochemicals. Allicin found in garlic is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Bananas and potatoes are a good source of potassium.

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The Dr. Praeger’s Southwestern Hash Browns on my plate are a great source of this and they taste super yummy.  Dr. Praeger’s also have a variety of other delicious products that are veggie loaded and made with all good ingredients.  My kids love them as much as I do so it makes it easy to include veggies and essential nutrients in their diets.  You can find Dr. Praeger’s  products here:  https://drpraegers.com/where-to-buy/
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Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce & Soft Boiled Egg.

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Why does everything taste better with an egg on top?  Especially when it’s a runny soft boiled egg.  This pasta with roasted butternut squash sauce is made with a few simple ingredients garlic and caramelized onions to give it a sweet and smokey flavor and the richness of the egg adds that extra saucy and nourishing goodness.  Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised Eggs were perfect for this meal because I know they are American Humane Certified and USDA Certified Organic.  They always taste the best.

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Ingredients

2 cups uncooked penne pasta (sub gluten free if preferred)

4 cups butternut squash cubed

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth

1 1/2 cups kale finely chopped

2 Handsome Brook Farm Soft Boiled Eggs

http://www.handsomebrookfarm.com/find-us/

(bring water to a boil, add the eggs, boil for 6 minutes, immediately remove to ice cold water)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Garnish

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Pumpkin Seeds shelled and salted

Preheat oven to 425 F.  On the stove top bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until desired texture, drain and set aside.  While the pasta cooks spread the butternut squash onto a baking sheet.  Toss with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 30 minutes until squash is tender.  In the meantime heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan until hot.  Add the onion and saute for several minutes until it starts to caramelize.  Add the garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is tender.  Transfer onions and garlic into the same pot used to cook the pasta but do not wipe out the pan.  Add the vegetable broth and heat to a simmer. Add the roasted squash and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Once cooled use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree.  I find that an immersion blender works better so it doesn’t over blend.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set sauce aside.  In the same pan used for the onions and garlic heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the kale.  Saute until the kale is wilted. Add the pasta back into the pot, stir in the sauce and the kale.  Serve in bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds and the soft boiled egg. Slice the egg so the yolk runs into the pasta. Serves 2.