Tag Archives: summer recipes

Rustic Mediterranean Pork Chops

A healthy main course that you can make in 15 minutes.

A healthy main course that you can make in 15 minutes.

I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump in the kitchen so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe! That doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking at home (I actually cook almost every night), just that I’ve been feeling uninspired and resorting to a lot of the same old stuff. None worth sharing. Even though I spend much of my day talking about food with clients, I have times when I wish I could delegate the task of feeding myself to someone else. I’m sure you can relate! Anyhow, this was a really fast and easy main course that I came up with based on random ingredients that I had in the fridge and pantry and it was really good. I can’t say it enough – but keeping your pantry & freezer well stocked means you can make tasty stuff with short notice – even when you wish you had a healthy take out fairy godmother. Moving on . . .

These pan cooked boneless pork chops and rustic tapenade will only take about 15 minutes to make. The topping is like a rustic tapenade (only cooked) of capers, spinach, tomatoes, olives and lemon juice. You could easily sub out some of these ingredients for other staples (roasted red peppers or artichokes would work well). These would also be good on the grill though you’d probably want to marinate them a little beforehand (as lean pork can dry out when grilled).

Pork is one of the hardest foods to find organic or humanely raised. We don’t eat a ton of it but if we can’t find something I’m comfortable eating in the local grocery stores or if there isn’t any available at a local farm, as a backup I order online from US Wellness Meats or Tendergrass Farms.  Yes, avoiding factory farmed meat is very expensive. The way I see it is I can spend money now on high quality food that nourishes my body or I can continue buying meat that came from diseased and tortured animals on the cheap (with questionable country of origins) and pay extra at the doctors office. I prefer to avoid the doctors office if I can. When making a switch to higher quality animal products, it’s helpful to plan to eat less of it. You’ll find that a whole pasture raised chicken may only be 3.5 lbs, whereas you can find grocery store ones that are 6 or 7 lbs. Chickens that aren’t force fed or kept in tiny little cages rarely get huge – you’re not going to find a chicken breast that is 13 oz on one of these chickens, more likely that a chicken breast is going to be 5 or 6 oz. which is a heck of a lot closer to how much we should be eating anyhow. It takes some getting used to, but if you’re getting enough fat and eating lots of vegetable variety, you won’t miss it for long.

Hope you have a great 4th of July!

Rustic Mediterranean Pork Chops

Ingredients
For the pork
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
4 boneless Organic pork chops, fat trimmed and pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
sea salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves minced garlic

For the topping
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
7-9 large green olives, roughly chopped (pit removed if there is one)
2 tsp organic capers
2 – 4 sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions
Heat 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. While it’s heating, sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder (if using minced garlic, rub it into the chops). When the pan is piping hot, add the chops and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. When you flip the pork, it should flip easily and have a good sear on it. You may need to cook for less or more time depending on how thick or thin you pounded the chops to. When the pork is cooked through (slightly pink is okay) remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the spinach, green olives, capers, tomatoes and onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and scrape up any burnt pork bits while you cook.  When finished cooking, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the mixture and then serve on top of the pork. (You won’t need salt for the topping – olives, capers and sun dried tomatoes are usually quite salty!)

Makes 4 servings.
Note:  This would also work great with chicken or fish.

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German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad - Light, tangy and crunchy!

German Potato Salad – Light, tangy and crunchy!

Potatoes have a bad reputation.  They’ll make you fat.  They’re a nightshade vegetable. They’ll raise your blood sugar.  They’re a white simple carbohydrate so we shouldn’t eat them.  I turn up my nose at all of that.  Potatoes are the bomb!!

They’re an amazing source of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B3 and fiber and these are all things we need more of.  Due to the high amount of processed food people in America eat, most don’t get enough potassium in their diet and this can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Sadly, when people eat potatoes the most common way they eat them is fried, as in french fries and potato chips.  It’s not the potatoes fault we choose these horrendous versions of them. Poor potatoes.

But if you keep the skin on (organic and well scrubbed), pair potatoes with protein and eat a moderate serving of them in a non-deep fried version, they can be part of a healthy diet.  Potatoes are a whole food. A single ingredient.  From the earth.  These are all good things.  I’d much rather see people eating potatoes they made at home, than purchasing processed white hamburger rolls, pasta, white rice etc.  Please don’t put the potato in the same category as these white simple carbs.  It’s really all about making good choices.  If you’re going to eat a huge helping of potato salad and have two hot dogs on white rolls – yeah, you’re going to have a massive blood sugar spike and feel like crap (especially after you top it all with a bowl of ice cream).  But if you have a moderate serving of potato salad, with some grilled chicken or a burger on a portobello mushroom cap (and with some veggies), you’re going going to fare much better (even if you do have a little ice cream later).  It’s actually pretty simple.  Just eat smartly and you can enjoy potatoes for a good dose of potassium and fiber.

My love for the potato grows strong this time of the year because it’s cookout season and that means lots of opportunities for it’s appearance in cold salads.  While a creamy, mayo or buttermilk drenched salad is delicious occasionally (especially if there are delicious herbs and veggies in there), sometimes my stomach churns at the thought of yet another overly mayonnaised potato salad.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of mayo (the homemade kind) but come on, sometimes it seems like some recipes are just potatoes and mayo.  That’s ridiculous.  That is not a recipe.  That is phoning it in.  Driving to the store and buying premade pasta salad would actually take more effort. When I feel mayo-ed out, I turn to German Potato Salad to change things up.

This isn’t a fancy recipe and you don’t need much to make it, some yukon or red potatoes, vinegar, oil and then some herbs or veggies.  Maybe some mustard (and bacon if you are feeling it).  You probably have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.  So for those times when you just might dump the whole bowl of mayo salads over the head of their maker, you can smile and hand them this instead.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you're ready to eat.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you’re ready to eat.

Ingredients
2 – 2.5 lbs Medium sized Organic Red Potatoes (or Yukon Gold)
3 scallions, sliced thinly
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
a big handful of fresh organic parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp white vinegar*
1 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Wash the potatoes well, cut them in half and boil in a pot of salted water for 15 minutes (until they give slightly with a fork). When they are mostly tender, drain the water and put the potatoes in a colander, then put the colander back over the pot you boiled them in and cover the potatoes with a clean dish towel.  Let them steam for 15 minutes.  Finishing them off this way instead of boiling for longer time prevents that overly mushy crumbly thing that happens to potatoes when you stir them a lot.

After the potatoes are done steaming, cut each potato half into quarters (depending on the size of your potatoes) and toss into a big bowl.  Add the scallions, parsley and celery to the bowl, then add the vinegars, oils, mustard, salt and pepper and give a good stir.  Serve at room temperature or chill for at least two hours to give the flavors time to develop.  If the salad seems too dry when you are ready to eat it (potatoes are thirsty buggers), add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth or a little more oil and vinegar. Serve with whatever amazing bbq you’ve got going on and don’t forget to invite me over!

Makes 4 – 6 good sized servings

*I didn’t put the gluten free tag on this because it contains white vinegar.  Most celiacs and gluten sensitive people tolerate white vinegar just fine but for the very sensitive, it could be an issue since it is made from grain, including rye or wheat.  The distillation process breaks down the gluten proteins so that the product is virtually “gluten free” from a testing standpoint (under 20 parts per million) but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for everyone.  Complicated stuff!
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Red White and Blue Popsicles

Strawberry, Coconut & Blueberry Popsicles

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

No one is ever going to tell you I make pretty food.  I make tasty food that is usually pretty good for you but it usually looks like a train wreck.  But that’s ok with me if it’s ok with you.  Don’t judge my ugly 4th of July popsicles by their outer appearance.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And if you make these yourself you won’t have to go dig up some change when you hear the ice cream man’s music come rolling through the neighborhood. The best part about these popsicles is that you don’t need to worry about gross ingredients like food coloring and high fructose corn syrup and since they contain real fruit you are giving your kids (and yourself) a treat that you can feel good about.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of most store popsicles?  They’re usually not even food. I’m looking forward to trying these with other fruits – I’m thinking mango & lime juice would be good too! This made 6 good sized popsicles out of small solo cups.  Despite using small solo cups they were still pretty large popsicles.  I think if you are using molds you’ll get a few more out of the mixture. It’s strawberry season right now in NH so by all means, use fresh if you can get them!

Ingredients
3/4 can full fat Coconut Milk
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen strawberries
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen blueberries
4 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

Directions
If your honey is very thick or crystallized, you’ll want to melt it first.  You can do this by heating it in the microwave but I prefer to put it in a glass measuring cup and then setting the measuring cup in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes.  Once the honey is melted, blend the strawberries with 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of honey, plus a dash of vanilla and a tiny bit of salt.  Once they are well blended, scrape the blender out and set the strawberry mixture aside.  Rinse the blender and then do the same with the blueberries (+ honey, vanilla and salt) and again with the coconut milk, setting each one aside in a separate container.   Once all have been blended, spoon a heaping tbsp of the strawberry mixture into each popsicle mold, then a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk, then a heaping tbsp of the blueberry mixture and so on until you run out of the mixtures.  Freeze for at least 4 hours before eating.

Freaking out because you don’t have popsicle molds? If you don’t have popsicle molds (I certainly don’t!), you can use small plastic or paper cups instead!  The popsicles won’t look as fancy and they may be a little awkward shaped but it will do. You just pour the mixtures in then cover with plastic wrap and make a small hole for a popsicle stick or plastic fork/spoon, then insert one into each hole.  The plastic wrap will keep the stick in place.  Pop into the freezer and wait patiently.  When the popsicles are frozen you may need to run the sides of each cup under warm water for a few seconds to release the popsicle from the plastic cup.  If you use paper cups you can probably just peel them off.  We used plastic forks in ours in place of popsicle sticks (since we didn’t have those either) and the cool thing about that was as your popsicle starts to melt you can just stick it back in the cup and eat it with the fork that has been acting as your stick.  So fancy.

You don't need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles.  Look around your kitchen, you'll find something that you can use.

You don’t need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles. Take a good look around your kitchen and I’m sure you probably have stuff you can use in a pinch!

I will totally be having one of these tonight! Yum!

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Wild Cod with Parsley, Lemon & Shallots and Arugula Salad

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots - can't go wrong.

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots – can’t go wrong!

Yay for summer!  I secretly (or not so secretly) love heat and humidity but that doesn’t mean I love being in a hot kitchen on those days (like today!).  When it’s a perfect summer day outside, I want to minimize the amount of time I have to spend indoors so I love having quick dinners at my fingertips and that’s where fish and a raw salad come in.

Wild cod takes just a few minutes to cook and a little chopping and slicing is all this arugula salad takes to make.  You can have healthy and delicious dinner on the table in 15 minutes tops.  Feel free to use any white mild tasting fish for this recipe.

If you are brave (and have amazing grill skills), feel free to grill your cod outside.  I find fish a little too delicate to do on the grill with my clunky bear-like coordination (unless it’s on a wood plank).  But by all means show me up with your gracefulness and report back.  And then come over and get grilling, thanks!

A tip for you:  Keep things like parsley, lemon, shallots, garlic, vinegars and oil/butter regularly in your kitchen.  Why?  Because almost anything tastes like you slaved over it when you add some of those ingredients.  Almost any combo of those ingredients makes a delicious salad dressing, chicken marinade, pasta or potato salad dressing and of course in this recipe, a topping for fish.  Get into the habit of keeping a few simple ingredients in your kitchen and you’ll always be able to whip up something delicious at a moments notice.

Ingredients
4 Wild cod fillets (skinned/skinless)
1 tbsp olive oil

1 organic lemon zested and juice reserved*
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp pastured butter
1 large shallot, minced
sea salt to taste

Arugula Salad
4 cups baby arugula, chopped (try other baby greens if you don’t have arugula)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 large carrots, shredded or sliced thinly
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste

*it’s really important to use an organic lemon in any recipe that uses the peel or zest.  That is where all the pesticides are and they are not easily washed off.  If you are just using the juice of a lemon, conventional is ok but please go for organic when using zest (and rinse well before using anyway).
Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Directions
Cook cod in a hot sauce pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. When hot, cook the cod for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip and then immediately put in hot oven.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes in the oven (exact time will depend on the thickness of your fillets) and remove when fish is opaque and flakes easily.

While the fish is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan, cook shallots for 3 minutes or until softened/browning.  Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, parsley, sea salt and remaining butter.  Spoon over fish.

Make the arugula salad before you begin making the fish or during (it takes just 5 minutes to make). Chop and prepare all your veggies and then dress with the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Serve the cod and salad immediately.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

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Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)


giardiniera3
I have a confession to make. I love sausage. I know that’s probably odd coming from someone whose business is health coaching. I’ve recently realized that sausage is my favorite meat.  It just adds so much flavor to anything you put it in!  My husband finds this hilarious because when he met me, the only animal protein I ate was fish, chicken and turkey.  On the rare occasion that I did decide to eat pork or beef it could not be what I referred to as a “circle” meat – meat that was cylindrical in shape and was comprised of lots of bits of unknown things (think salami, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni etc).  I just never liked it and frankly they grossed me out (bologna and hot dogs still do).  It wasn’t until I started to learn to cook after I moved in with him that I even considered the possibility that sausage could have a place in my diet.  These days, it appears on our dinner plates at least a couple times a month.  I get local when I can (our meat share from our CSA at Middle Branch Farm provides some) and the rest of the time I purchase chicken or pork sausages whose ingredient lists only contain things I recognize (applegate organic, aidells, organic prairie and al fresco are some brands that have simple ingredient lists that I see where I live).  They all have more salt in them than I would like but let’s be honest that’s partially what makes them so delicious.

This week, during one of my sausage cravings, I decided to make a fast version of italian giardiniera salad and serve them together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out (cold salad & hot sausage?) but it was a good idea and very filling!  The actual making the salad only takes about 10 minutes (between chopping and lightly cooking the veggies) but you’ll want to serve it chilled so throw it into the fridge for an additional 20 minutes or so.  The flavor of the salad will get better the longer it sits (real giardiniera is marinated for a couple days usually before eating) but I wanted crunchy, tangy cold veggies right away so 20 minutes it was (and that’s why this is the super fast version).  Super yummy.And don’t feel like you need to serve this with sausage or any other meat – it’s pretty delicious on it’s own.  This may make an appearance at a few BBQs this summer.giardiniera2giardinieraI know you’re wondering, where’s the starch? carb? bread? grains? for this meal or for most of my recipes. I do eat grains (whole ones mostly) and starches but I find filling up on vegetables, protein and fat for most of the day keeps me the most satisfied and least bloated.  And, the less I eat grain/starchy carbs the less I get urges to binge or eat uncontrollably because my blood sugar isn’t being subjected to spikes.  I probably eat only one or two servings of grains or starch a day. I know this may not work for you but it’s something to think about if cravings or binging are something you struggle with. It’s taken me my entire adult life to get in touch with how the food I eat affects me physically (and emotionally) so I’m sticking with it.  The key is making sure I get a good amount of fat and protein plus bulk (from the veggies). Okay, sorry I’ve gone off on a tangent (but one that I love to talk about).  Here’s the recipe!!!

And my apologies for the blurry photos.  I was in a rush to get this into my belly and really wasn’t thinking it would be blog worthy before I ate it.

Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)

Ingredients
1 small head of cauliflower
2 large carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 roasted red peppers, diced (make your own or buy them)
14 green olives, chopped (I used pitted unstuffed ones but anything you like goes!)
2 green scallions, diced
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste (I use Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt by Selina Naturally)
freshly ground black pepper

4 – 5 links chicken sausage, casings removed (skip this if you bought pre-cooked sausage*)

Directions
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in the cauliflower, carrots and celery. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes, then drain water and put veggies in a big bowl.  Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for sausage) and stir well.  Put in the fridge to chill.  Cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Once cooked, set aside for a few minutes until your giardiniera is cold enough for you then top the giardiniera with the warm sausage and get crunching.

*If you are using pre-cooked sausage, leave the casing on, dice up and then just cook until warmed through.

Serves 4 (and assuming you choose gluten free sausage, this is gluten free & dairy free)

I ate the leftovers cold (both the sausage and salad) for lunch the next day and it was even better!  I’m thinking this would also be delicious with some white beans and pepperoncini mixed in.