Collard Green and Bell Pepper Hash

Ooooof, y’all it’s been a while. And for that, I apologize. A lots happened in the month that’s taken place since my last post, however I’ll just spare you the details and say I’ve been super busy. 

Had a wonderful break in Florida with my family and friends, followed by a stagnant period of readjusting to my only-slightly-different-single-status in Alabama. But it feels great to be back just doing me. Today I cleaned my apartment, read, meditated, had a sweet and relaxing yoga sesh, and made two bomb ass meals. (Lunch pictured below)

  
I’ve been eating pretty “vegetarian” lately as a result of trying to go more plant-based in general coupled with the sad loss of two of my family’s chickens. I’ve been able to emotionally distance myself from my family’s pets and my favorite food in the world – fried chicken. But their brutal death by raccoon made me think- I was genuinely saddened by their deaths but at least they lived a good life plucking around my yard instead of living and dying in a cage like so many other chickens…  I digress. Point blank- I am eating less meat

By less meat I mean less meat. Not going cold turkey (get it? Bad joke.) but really making an effort into making meals that are so delicious on their own, they don’t even need meat! However, in the past week, I still have had meat about 3 times. Most of this was the result of being out with friends and feeling no desire to restrict myself (something I am adamantly against). But that is considerably less than usual for me. I don’t feel drastically different, but I wake up feeling lighter, I’d say that’s a win. 

  

And being the dietitian that I am, I’m having to make a conscious effort to get enough protein. Beans, yogurt, and cheese (arguably my other favorite food) have been consistently in the repertoire, so I think I’ve got my bases covered. 

Ramble aside- this Collard Green Bell Pepper Hash is one of those aforementioned meals that is so delicious and satisfying on its own that meat is simply unnecessary. I added portobella mushrooms into mine because I like the umami-ness that it gives and makes me forget there is no meat. 

I was given a bunch of collard greens about the size of a small tree from one of my favorite farmers at the farmers market- Belle Meadow Farms. He actually gave me a “half batch” for a whopping $1.50 which was again, the size of a small tree. I told him whatever I don’t use, I will repurpose into a houseplant. (Top right of this picture shows about 1/4 of my batch.)

  
I’ve never cooked collards before, but have worked in quite a few kitchens that make them and I’m not gonna lie- I didn’t think I was a fan. I knew there had to be a way to use collards without boiling the crap out of them in fatty water. And the resulting recipe was my experimentation of keeping it light, crisp and delicious. I truly think it accomplished all of those things, and I hope that you will try it and agree.  

 
Collard Green and Bell Pepper Hash

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Two russet potatoes – diced 
  • Half of one onion- diced 
  • Three cloves garlic- minced
  • One bell pepper (any color)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms 
  • 4-5 collard green leaves, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese- shaved 
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat generous drizzle of olive oil in pan on medium high heat. Add in potatoes and cook, tossing, for 4 minutes. 
  • Move potatoes to outside of pan, leaving empty hole in middle. Add onion and garlic until fragrant, then stir in with potatoes for another 3 minutes. 
  • Move everything to the outsides again, then add peppers just like above cooking for about 5 min. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Move everything to the outsides again, and add mushrooms similar to above. Mix together. 
  • Mix in collard greens and any fresh herbs you’ve got on hand (I used some fresh rosemary). Cook until slightly wilted but still crisp, about 2-3 minutes. 
  • Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and more salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Top with other half of Parmesan cheese and extra lemon zest. 

  
As always, feel free to play around with this. Omit or add roughly anything (including meat). Hashs are kind of meant to be a hodgepodge of different stuff. But don’t forget those collard greens! I promise they are much better than the ones you had in the middle school cafeteria. Promise. 

– Pam  

Adobo Chicken Tacos

If you love tacos, you will love this taco recipe. Hands down. And I’m not talking about that tired, standard, ground beef, tomato, lettuce taco. I’m talking authentic mexican taco. Full of plenty of cilantro, lime, and fresh ingredients. That’s the Mexican food we should all be accustomed to, not the cheesy downgraded meat out of a hose kinda taco. (I’m lookin’ at you T-Bell)

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On a real note, this taco is everything that you should want in a taco. Spicy, peppery (from that delish adobo) meat topped with completely fresh pico, lime, cilantro, radish, and a bit of cheese; wrapped up in a light (gluten-free) corn tortilla in order to hold all the ingredients without overwhelming them.

PS: While I use chicken as the meat in this recipe, feel free to experiment with beef, steak, shrimp, or anything really! I bet even Tofu can really take on that adobo flavor.

Honestly, I had no intention of blogging about these tacos, they kind of just came to me in an odd inspiration, and I decided not only that it was TACO NIGHT, but also MARGARITA NIGHT in order to use the bottle of Don Julio that’s been in my possession since my boyfriend gave it to me for graduation (6 months ago). I haven’t been avoiding the tequila for any reason, other than it kind of turns me into a psycho. But I decided that just one margarita would put me in the perfect mood to then get a beer with some friends at the jazz bar later, but that’s neither here nor there.

Point being- that these tacos were surprisingly amazing. Like topping the charts of all-time taco experiences. It helps that I added only ingredients that I like, but that’s the beauty of tacos! Put in what you love, and leave out what you don’t! I think we could learn a thing or two from that.

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Ingredients: (for two)

  • Two chicken breast
  • 2 Tbsp Adobo sauce (or canned chipotle in adobo, you’ll use the rest. trust me)
  • Corn tortillas
  • Small bunch of cilantro- roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 radish- sliced super thin
  • 1 small Tomato
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar (any type is fine)
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion
  • 2 limes
  • Shredded cheese (I used pepper jack)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

  • Make the pico de gallo: Dice tomato and onion together with a good chunk of chopped cilantro and juice 1/2 of the lime onto it. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix.
  • Pickle the red onion: mix  2 Tbsp vinegar (I prefer wine vinegars), 2 Tbsp water, 1/2 Tbsp honey and 1 tsp salt in microwave for ~30 sec, pour over sliced red onion and let cool in fridge til ready
  • Make the adobo skillet sauce: Mix 2 Tbsp adobo paste/sauce with other 1/2 lime juice and 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Slice chicken into thin strips and toss with plenty of adobo skillet sauce

Cook:

  • Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan on medium heat and spread around
  • Add adobo chicken and saute until cooked through, flipping as necessary (Inside temp: 165. About 5-7 minutes)
  • Warm tortillas: For a big batch- cover a stack completely in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-15 seconds. Alternatively, heat one at a time on stove.
  • Once tortillas are steamed, add the adobo chicken. Top with cheese, shaved radish, cilantro leaves, fresh pico de gallo, pickled red onion, and squeeze of lime
  • Serve alongside extra lime slices, cilantro for garnish, and a fresh limey margarita if you’re feelin it (like I was)

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And there you’ve got it! While my recipe is only written for two, this would make an awesome taco display for a group. Simply plate the chicken, tortillas, and various toppings in separate containers for your guests to use at their leisure 🙂 I’d recommend you add margaritas into the mix as well.

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Enjoy!

-Pam

Quick Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

Sweet Potato gives this breakfast a satisfying feel without the heavy carb-loaded blood sugar rush, while eggs, avocado, and goat cheese pump you up with healthy fats to keep your heart happy.

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So I just realized my last recipe was about sweet potatoes too. I’ve been on a sweet potato kick recently, and it’s not really because I am crazy about sweet potatoes. It’s because I have a reeeally hard time saying “No” to people, especially at the farmer’s market. Just yesterday, one of my favorite people to buy produce from was trying to convince me to buy a huge bunch of collard greens even though I’m leaving town in a few days for Thanksgiving break and I knew in my heart they would go bad. I ended up staying on the fence and promising that I’d be back after my Advanced Vitamins and Minerals class. I wasn’t. 😦

Just a few weeks prior, the same farmer loaded me up with about 8 sweet potatoes just for lil old me. Now I like sweet potatoes and all, but I can only think of a few ways to really use them. Well, not anymore!

Thanks to my wonderful spiralizer, I was able to make sweet potato hashbrowns! Y’all, they are incredible. This was my first attempt with them, and I am so very pleased with the result.

Essentially, spiralize the hashbrowns and saute them along with some onions for flavor. Once they’re nice and crispy, make a well in the middle for an egg. Pop in the oven for a few minutes to cook the egg through, then top with whatever fresh ingredients you’ve got on hand, and you’ve got yourself an instagram-worthy breakfast hash.

I had mine with some GT’s Kombucha, because I seriously love it. Kombucha freaked me out at first (SCOBY sounds a lot grosser than it really is) but now I really enjoy the flavor along with the probiotics and effervescence.

This breakfast took me under 15 minutes to prep and cook, which is a real time-saver in the morning. I’m not gonna lie to you like I did to that poor farmer, but I rarely eat breakfast. However, meals like this would (and probably already have) change my mind!

Alright, let’s get cooking.

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Ingredients: (for one, double up for two)

  • One large sweet potato
  • One large egg
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • Large slice avocado
  • One green onion- sliced
  • Goat cheese
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook!

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  • Spiralize the potato (I kept mine on the thin setting) and dice the onion
  • Heat some oil in a pan, and add the onion until softened, then add the potato hashbrowns (don’t feel the need to keep it all tight and together, it browns best when it’s all a mixed mess anyway)
  • Once hashbrowns start to get crispy (after about 5-7 min), make a well (hole) in the middle of the pan, add another small bit of oil, and crack an egg into it. Season with salt and pepper or whatever other seasonings you like.
  • Pop entire skillet into oven for a few minutes- depending on the consistency you like your eggs. If you like them super runny take it out after about 3 minutes. I ended up leaving it in for about 8 min, because I like my egg firm.
  • Using a large spatula, transfer the entire hash onto a plate. Top with goat cheese, avocado, sliced green onion and a drizzle of sriracha if you’re into that kind of thing. Season again with salt and pepper if desired.

And voila! I told y’all that was easy!

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Side Note: made this again for my boyfriend the next morning, only about three times as large. He thoroughly enjoyed it. And I thoroughly enjoyed how easy it was for me to make again, only I ran out of goat cheese and he got…. feta. The horror, (jk: I love feta too)

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Unfortunately for me, this one ended up photographing 100 times better, and I had already written this blog post full of pictures of my single sad little egg. Moral of the story, invite some friends (or a hungry cute boy over) and just cook a big version of it, like the one above. It makes for a better Instagram picture at least 🙂

Fresh Sweet Potato Protein Nachos

Sweet Potatoes are more of a Southern thing, I get it. Recently, my campus farmers market actually had “Sweet Potato Fest” and I picked up A LOT of sweet potatoes from one of my favorite farmers. Like way more than I could use. So I decided to get a little creative with them.

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I typically see sweet potato chips with barbeque- yet another Southern thing, but I decided it was totally going to work with Mexican nachos, one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Nachos were one of the first “meals” I made as a kid, because it was so easy and I could do it in the microwave. Half the time I said screw the microwave, and just ate tortilla chips with cold shredded cheese. I loved cheese as a child, and still do to this day.

While the homemade sweet potatoes definitely take the most effort in this dish, the real shining stars are what you choose to put on. At my disposal I had: avocado, radish, pico de gallo, green onion, black beans, and ground turkey. (Most of which came from the farmers market). So I am writing this recipe based on that, but as always feel free to do whatever you’d like with them. The beauty of nachos is that they really work with just about anything.

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One reason I did choose to use turkey and black beans (aside from the fact that I just had leftover turkey from meatballs I made over the weekend) was that they are incredible sources of protein! Protein is important for so so so many bodily functions, but from a culinary standpoint- protein keeps you full. I couldn’t finish this plate of nachos. But I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this, you’re going to try!

However, if you’re more the vegetarian type, feel free to omit the turkey completely and maybe double up on the black beans. If you’re gluten-free, good news 🙂 this one is perfect for you!

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Ingredients: (for two-three servings)

  • Two large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup avocado
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo
  • 2 small radishes, sliced super thin
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Lime and cilantro for garnish

(Note: While I did put measurements to make prepping easier, feel free to use however much of whatever you’d like. Don’t like radish, don’t use it! Like your nachos extra cheesy? Load it on up!)

Cook:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into very very thin slices. Use a mandolin on the smallest setting if you’ve got it. (Tip: once sliced, soak the sweet potatoes in cold salty water for an hour or two prior to cooking. This makes them leech some of their starch content, resulting in a crispier sweet potato chip!)
  • Drizzle the sweet potato slices with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper and whatever else you’d like. Place them on a tin foil-lined baking sheet that is sprayed with light cooking spray.
  • Pop the sweet potatoes in the oven. Check on them after about 8-10 minutes and flip for another 3-5 min.
  • While the sweet potatoes cook, brown the ground turkey on medium meat until cooked through.
  • Once sweet potato chips are sufficiently crispy, let cool for about 5 minutes (they’ll crisp up more this way)
  • Arrange chips how you like, I clump mine in a generally flat pile, and add on a layer of cheese. Place back in the oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
  • Add cooked turkey and black beans. Add another layer of cheese, if desired. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Once nachos are ready, place on serving tray or plate using a metal spatula. Then top with diced avocado, sliced radish, pico de gallo, scallions, extra cheese, cilantro, whatever you’ve got! The more the merrier when it comes to nachos!

 

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And there you have it! Fresh, healthy sweet potato nachos with some serious protein power! The lovely mix of vegetables in here gives it wonderful color as well as an awesome array of nutrients. Colorful plates are typically the healthiest! (Someone must have told that to whoever made that awful purple ketchup.)

-Pam

Lean Green Refreshing Machine

Perfectly blended spinach, cilantro, pineapple, green apple, and ginger make this an incredibly refreshing, yet filling smoothie. Blending this juice keeps the fiber IN (instead of out, like juicing.) Plus, did you know that most of a fruit’s nutrients are hidden right under the skin’s surface? Those are also lost with juicing, making this a one-two-punch for both your immune system and your digestive system.

Now let’s get blending!

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You may recognize that cup. It’s for my wonderful NutriBullet! I’ve had mine for about two years now, and have NEVER had any issues. It’s wonderful, and can blend just about anything. I even make pesto in here. However, for the most part, my NutriBullet is reserved just for yummy juices like these. And this one is my absolute favorite.

Now, I love cilantro. If you don’t love cilantro, this recipe may not be for you. I’d recommend only using a little bit, or even omiting it completely. It’s still great without it. Research has shown there is an actual genetic defect in a small percentage of the population where to them, cilantro literally tastes like soap. That sounds terrible. While I am glad to enjoy cilantro on essentially anything, how horrible would it be to have a delicious fresh taco with some soap spilled on it? Pretty bad, right. So cilantro haters, I am sorry. But this one just may not be for you.

I also choose to use spinach in my juices rather than kale. I rarely juice at all, and stick mostly to blending. Kale just doesn’t do as well in the blender as spinach does. Kale leaves a lot of its tough stems and leaves in the mixture (no matter how hard you blend, trust me. I’ve tried.) while spinach very easily turns into a cohesive juice. After all, spinach is predominantly water anyway.

Important note is to use frozen fruit in this smoothie, because this will cool it down to a very pleasant temperature. Some smoothies use ice cubes, but I think that waters them down too much. Frozen fruit blends perfectly, and really does the trick temperature-wise. I used frozen pineapple from a larger variety of frozen fruit that I bought from the grocery store. The apple I used, however, was not frozen! So don’t worry about freezing your apples. (Side note- I do refrigerate my apples, but that’s a personal preference.) If you still want a colder smoothie, just add ice cubes at the end!

Ginger is also added because it is seriously fantastic for your digestive system. It has been used for hundreds of years as a digestive helper and adds a wonderful freshness to any smoothie/juice. If you haven’t used it already, now’s your chance! Tip: mince the ginger before blending, it will eliminate any chunks.

Chia seeds are optional, but I highly suggest them. If there’s anyway to get a smoothie to “stick to your ribs” its chia. Chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, making them the perfect addition. They’ve also got a ton of fiber and omega-3’s. Win-win!

Alright, so get your blender and let’s get to it!

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Ingredients: (for one large smoothie)

  • Two large handfuls of spinach
  • One small bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • One small apple
  • One-inch “thumb” of ginger
  • One Tbsp Chia seeds (optional)
  • Slice of lemon (optional)

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Blend:

  • Place spinach, cilantro, pineapple, apple, and ginger in a blender. Try to place the tougher stuff (like frozen pineapple, ginger, and apple) closer towards the blade and spinach more at the top.
  • Fill with as much water as desired. You can kinda see the water line in the above picture, but I usually aim to cover most of the greens, and that’s it. Side note: you can also use coconut water, aloe water, non-dairy milk, or pretty much anything in place of water. I just like to keep it simple.
  • Blend, blend, blend until it has reached desired consistency.
  • Top with a squeeze of lemon and chia seeds

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And there you have it! The lean, green, refreshing machine. The fruits in this smoothie add a nice bit of natural sweetness, which is balanced out by the ginger, cilantro, and lemon with a solid base of spinach.

Clean-up tip: Wash (or at least rinse) your blender immediately. It will come right off, and nothing is worse than leaving that stuff in there to stick on for eternity. Nothing.

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Happy blending! 🙂

-Pam

Chicken Piccata Zoodles

Lemony, flavorful chicken on top of delicately cooked spiralized zucchini may just be your new weeknight meal.

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So yes, I spiralize a lot. I’ve said before that the Veggetti is my favorite kitchen accessory, and at $8 its really not too out of budget for most households. However, an upcoming blog post will feature other ways of making vegetable noodles that don’t involve this accessory (despite how truly awesome it is).

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Just look at that zoodle-y goodness!!!

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While I was prepping to make this dish, I actually got a text from one of my friends asking how to make “veggie spaghetti” without a spiralizer so that she could satisfy her Italian cravings. Explaining this through text was not my greatest feat, so its in the plans to make some large scale zoodles using various cuts and devices. (Get excited)

Hannah ended up doing just great with my terrible text directions and even uploaded it to Instagram! I love helping friends with cooking 🙂

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Back to the matter at hand.

Chicken Piccata is likely my favorite Italian dish. It’s basically fried chicken italian style, only with less oil (pan fry helps) and has such freshness from lemon and capers! Ugh, just thinking about it makes me satisfied.

Another plus for this meal is that it only takes one pan! Yes, just one. The prep may take a few extra plates and stuff if you choose to do an egg wash-flour process. I do suggest this, but if you don’t have any eggs or don’t have the time, feel free to just flour the chicken breast as is. The directions call for flour to make it easier for y’all, however, I make mine half flour and half breadcrumb to give it a bit more texture.

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I’d like to apologize if you follow me on Instagram (@mindtotable) because I pretty much promised this recipe would be up a month ago. Unfortunately, life gets in the way. So does technology. I try to take my blog-worthy pictures with my camera, but (of course) it died mid-cooking. So the final pictures were taken with my iPhone which let in a lot of unfortunate shadows. Not a huge deal. just how life goes 🙂

Ingredients (feeds 2)

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 3 Zucchinis
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parsley for garnish

Prep:

  • Butterfly chicken breast so that they are nice and thin
  • Make egg wash- Beat one egg with a tablespoon of either milk or water until mixed well
  • Season flour- As mentioned above, I add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to my flour
  • Juice and zest the lemon
  • Spiralize Zucchini- I did mine on the “thin” setting

Cook!

  • Heat oil and butter in large pan over medium heat
  • Dredge chicken in egg wash, then flour, and pan fry
  • Flip chicken breast until golden brown, and set aside
  • Add broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, mushrooms, and capers to pan. Whisk together while scraping the (delicious) brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Place Chicken back in the pan with the yummy liquid and let sit for three minutes- flipping as necessary
  • Take chicken out (again) and add in spiralized zucchini to liquid for 30 sec- 1 minute
  • Plate zoodles with tongs and place chicken on top. Reduce the liquid on high for another 1-2 minutes and pour over the top of everything
  • Garnish with Parsley and any remaining capers

Enjoy!

-Pam

One Pot Honey Sriracha Chicken Noodle Bowl

Sometimes there is nothing as satisfying as a warm bowl of Asian noodle soup on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. It was also incredibly satisfying to finish the meal with some mint-chocolate brownies that I had made for Tommy’s birthday- got the recipe from Here and while they are not even remotely healthy, they were delicious. Tommy is extremely patient as the guinea pig for many of my healthy dishes- especially attempts at dessert that have no recipe basis whatsoever- so it was about time I actually made something specifically for him to enjoy.

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Last night, I made him a birthday dinner comprised of a brie-baguette appetizer, lamb burgers with a curried tzatziki, feta, arugula, and pickled onion, as well as lemon asparagus and those mint-chocolate brownies. I wish I had documented them more, because it was a delicious meal. I’ll be using the leftovers for quite sometime. I actually made a nice “leftover” breakfast this morning with a lamb-feta hash and apple-brie toast. I try to make the most of everything in my fridge, especially because I will be leaving on another extended-weekend at the end of this week. It’s Fall Break at school, and I am taking full advantage by heading to Nashville.

Okay I got really off-topic there, back to the noodles!

So probably the most interesting piece of this dish is that the “noodles” are not noodles whatsovever, they are my favorite veggie invention on earth spiralized zucchini !

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I had two different types of zucchini at my disposal, both bought from the farmers market. I really enjoy the hybrid one (totally forget what it’s called, and I have consulted with google with no luck) that is half yellow, half green. I’ve made some really good noodles with them in the past. However, the fully green one (however a different pattern than most zucchini I see in the store) spiralized beautifully.  Very little seeds (read: lots of moisture) and was perfectly firm for noodle-making. I was very, very pleased with the end result.

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And that was just the noodle! Just the vehicle for this delicious trip down the totally-Americanized version of Asian food that I am accustomed to. Not really by choice- I would love to experience some real asian culture and cuisine, but I have not been afforded that wonderful opportunity. Yet.

Next, I chopped up literally every vegetable I had in the refrigerator- carrots, bell peppers, onion, squash, garlic, and ginger to make this delicious stir-fry noodle dish. I love eating a meal that is almost entirely composed of plants (I think I’ve mentioned it before) but I needed some protein as well. I had some grilled chicken in the fridge from a previous meal so just used that. But if you’re making this meal from scratch just cook some chicken breast in the pan before you proceed with the directions below. The chicken flavor should lend well to the saute-ing vegetables.

A quick word about the sauce- when I make a “sauce” sometimes I go through the process of adding ingredients teaspoon by teaspoon, whisk up, and taste. Sometimes, on the other hand, I simply add ingredients to what is already cooking and hope for the best. This was one of those times. The sauce is comprised of soy sauce, sriracha, honey, and a little dijon mustard to bring it together. The result is a tangy, sweet and spicy sauce that lends very well to the multitude of vegetables that are tossed in it. The first time I made this sauce I was floored, this time wasn’t as great and I actually ended up making a pan sauce at the end to add more flavor. (To do this, I simply took out all the vegetables/noodles/chicken and reduced the leftover liquid. I added about 2 teaspoons of flour just to make sure I’d get it nice and thick.) Point is- you can make the sauce in a bowl like a civilized person and then add to the stir-fry, or you can just open each bottle and make quick-tiny swirls into the “noodles” and stir.

Spiralizing is such an awesome culinary invention in my opinion, and I’m so glad it has caught on in the trendy-insta world. Again, I use the Veggetti, which costs about $10 from Amazon, and I think it’s a wonderful asset to any kitchen- but especially college students and families, as it takes up little to no space, is inexpensive, and simply works well. If you so desire, there are some higher quality ones out there as well, such as the Paderno (but that costs 2-3 times as much. Just sayin’.)

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This noodle bowl was well received by my boyfriend, and even more so because he usually does the dishes after I cook (wonderful trade-off in my opinion) and he only had one large saute pan to clean! Wins all around.

Ingredients: (serves two)

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For the sauce:

  • Two tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
  • One tablespoon sriracha
  • One teaspoon dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon honey

For the noodle bowl:

  • Three large zucchini/squash
  • 1-2 chicken breast (cooked)
  • Half of one white onion
  • One bell pepper
  • Three large carrots
  • Two-three cloves garlic
  • One thumb ginger
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep:

  • Spiralize zucchini on thick setting. Chop remaining zucchini (that can’t fit into spiralizer) into small “coins”
  • If chicken breast is raw- cook it first (gotta say it.)
  • Dice onion and bell pepper
  • Peel carrots and slice into “coins”
  • Mince ginger and garlic

Cook:

  • Pour a good amount of oil (just enough to totally coat the bottom) in a large saute pan. The biggest one you’ve got.
  • Add the carrots, bell pepper, and onion to the pan and let saute for 3 min.
  • Add squash, ginger and garlic (adding them later helps protect the flavor) and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add spiralized zucchini noodles and chicken to pan and top with sauce. Mix all ingredients together.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then taste. Add more of the sauce ingredients depending on what you like. (For example: Didn’t taste too spicy? Add more sriracha. Too much spice? Add more honey. Not enough flavor yet? More soy sauce, or more everything!)

DSCN1587And there you’ve got it! A deliciously complex noodle bowl filled with numerous vegetables, healthy lean protein, and just one pan to clean! Like I said before- wins all around.

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This dish is very low-calorie, and low in carbs as well. Inherently gluten-free as long as you stick to tamari instead of soy sauce. (It always makes me laugh when “gluten free” girls won’t eat a sandwich, but will dunk sushi into soy sauce with no second thought.) Can be made vegan with the omission of chicken. I made a similar stir-fry that was completely vegan for Meatless Monday last week and it was amazing.

Try it and let me know what you think!

-Pam

Falling in Love with the North Carolina Food Culture

Southern lovin’ meets locavore passion.

cattleexploration

This past weekend was such a great break for me. I went on an extended weekend trip with my family to just outside Asheville, North Carolina and completely fell back in love with a place I had rarely visited.

I have a somewhat illogical place in my heart for the culinary styles of the Carolinas, especially as someone who is rarely in the area. Chefs such as Sean Brock (of Charleston, SC’s Husk) and Vivian Howard (of Kinston, NC’s Chef and the Farmer) seem to perfectly embody the southern, yet locally refined style of the area. And I freaking love it. Btw: both of these chefs have been featured on PBS TV Shows Mind of a Chef, and A Chef’s Life.

While chefs such as these bring light to the movement, almost all restaurants in the western north carolina area (at least in my experience) try their best to do their state and customers proud in offering local, delicious ingredients that fit along with what the restaurant needs.

Exhibit A: Rocky’s Hot Chicken.

My brother and I found this restaurant as a result of browsing UrbanSpoon and Yelp. I was the only one that had ever heard of hot chicken, because the BBQ restaurant I used to work at had Hot Chicken that was so hot, I don’t think a single customer enjoyed it. I’m fairly positive I actually lost tips through this menu item- it was soon taken off. However, Nashville is notorious for Hot Chicken (despite what my Nashville-raised boyfriend will claim) and I figured Western North Carolina was close enough to Nashville that we should at least try! Plus, fried chicken is probably my favorite thing in life- yes I am a dietitian- everything in moderation people! If you deprive yourself of fried chicken, you’re just not doing life right.

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This was on display at Rocky’s Hot Chicken- A fried chicken place with authentic southern food that ALSO made a huge point to support not only their local farmers, but other local businesses as well. Stickers line the inside with various North Carolina organizations and especially local Asheville companies and ventures. I knew I was in the right place.

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Many restaurants followed this trend as well, blending southern tradition with modern local fare. In addition to the restaurants, there were SO many farmers markets to visit. Before visiting the largest farmers market I have ever been to (pictured below), I’d seen many small “markets” between hillsides and on the side of highways after entering a new town. All stuffed with local fruits vegetables and trinkets.

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DSCN1513Farmer’s markets and outwardly local restaurants may have wow-ed me, but other less obvious events occurred that made me realize the impact this movement has on the Western North Carolina culture even beyond what the typical consumer sees to the naked eye.

On a hike up Bearwallow Mountain, my brother, my dog, and I hiked up a windy two miles before reaching the summit. I had expected a picturesque lookout or maybe a clearing in the trees, but I did NOT expect to find an entire pasture of cattle.

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No rancher in sight, no other human life forms around, just us and the cows. My dog is an Australian Shepherd and has the innate desire to herd. I truly don’t think he will ever forgive my brother and I for keeping him on his leash in order to avoid being trampled by a bull despite his heroic attempt to herd the cows into a coherent formation.

Aside from being a wonderful treat at the top of the mountain, this experience really drew home how the relationship with agriculture shapes how and what we eat. The last night of my trip, my mom and I picked out some veggies at the farmers market and decided to make dinner with the two types of squash we scooped as well as a wine-cider drink with the beautiful apples we bought- and tasted first! I had never had a “Pink Lady” apple before, it was my favorite! We made a Mexican stuffed spaghetti squash and bacon-wrapped butternut squash- Amazing! (The fire alarm went off once, but everything was fine)

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I hope to return to Western North Carolina very soon to truly dive into the experience and to fall more in love with the food culture.

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Smoky Guacamole

Smoky guacamole!! (Say that out loud and tell me it’s not fun.) seriously though, this guacamole is awesome. I tend to think of myself as a guac master, and most people don’t know how I make it, but I always get amazing feedback. I had a chef taste the batch that I had made in this blog post, and he looked at me and said “I could eat only that- every day.” I’m serious!

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So why am I letting you in on my secret? Well Chipotle just released their guacamole recipe and I decided to follow suit. Mine has a few more ingredients, but that’s what makes this recipe great! I love chipotle but their guac is just alright in my opinion. Mines better. Promise.

Yes, the basics of guacamole are avocado, onion, lime, salt and pepper. Lots of people put tomato in their guac, and I do too- about 75% of the time. It gives it a nice color but is not a necessity. In my opinion, you can barely even taste them. Another thing that may or may not be in your typical guac is jalapeño. When I’m home with my family, we constantly have jalapeños in the garden (hot peppers do well in Florida- not incredibly surprising) and I do like to use fresh jalapeños, but it can be overpowering to some. Especially when you have a particularly hot jalapeño.

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My solution to this issue- chipotle peppers. I got a jar of Chipotles in Adobo from an awesome HelloFresh Recipe for a seared steak hash with a creamy poblano pan sauce. It’s one of their best, in my opinion. I can imagine fresh would be best, but these canned ones do the job beautifully. They have the spice of peppers with a perfect smoky flavor. It sounds a little weird to want a smoke flavor in your guacamole, but trust me. It’s freaking good.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 ripe haas avocados
  • Half of one onion- diced (red, white, yellow, whichever)
  • Juice from one lime
  • Diced tomato- either half of a roma tomato or 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • One chipotle pepper in adobo
  • Small bunch of cilantro
  • One-two gloves minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Make!

  • Cut avocados in half and remove pit, scoop out of shell and place into medium sized bowl
  • Squeeze lime juice over avocados, break up the larger chunks of avocado and set bowl aside
  • Mince garlic, dice onion, chipotle and tomatoes, and chop up cilantro until very fine
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, and if desired, add cumin or other mexican spices
  • Mix all ingredients together with a spoon, but leave it a bit chunky for texture

And there you have it- smoky guacamole!

DSCN1417Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think!

-Pam

Incredibly Easy Sweet Potato Crisps with Avocado and Fresh Salsa

Y’all, this one is reeallly good. I made it about an hour ago and I rushed to my computer to blog about it, because it is THAT good. And it is so easy. Easy prep, easy cook, easy clean-up! What more could you ask for?

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I got the inspiration for this dish from one of the girls I follow on Instagram. (Ps. if you don’t already follow me @ mindtotable, you totally should! Just sayin’.) However, I put my own twist on it by making a fresh, homemade pico and a generous sprinkling of cilantro (I really, really like cilantro. I actually had a spinach-cilantro-cucumber-ginger juice earlier today, but that’s another subject.) 

I used a mandoline to cut the sweet potatoes, and I would highly suggest using one. If you don’t have one, it’s definitely possible to just use a knife, but I’ve found that I get very inconsistent slices with a knife, mostly because I don’t have the hand strength to get through a sweet potato most of the time. This makes for very unevenly cooked sweet potato crisps where the edges are burnt while the middle is soft. (The exact texture of every single one of my attempts at sweet potato fries). However, if you are more ept with a knife than I am, go for it!

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Look at that freshness! I especially love how every ingredient in this dish is a plant. It reminds me of my favorite Michael Polland quote. One that I try to utilize in every day life. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This dish is a perfect embodiment of Polland’s ideology- delicious ingredients from the earth in a reasonable portion! Did I mention it was extremely easy?

To make it even easier, you could just buy pico de gallo-like salsa from the store, but this way tastes much much better, and is incredibly easy on it’s own. You probably already have the ingredients in your fridge!

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Ingredients: (feeds two)

  • One large sweet potato (if you can, look for one that is relatively flat)
  • Three medium sized tomatoes
  • One ripe avocado
  • Half of one white onion
  • Juice from one lime
  • Tiny bunch of cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper
  • EVOO

To make the Pico de gallo:

  • Chop the tomatoes into tiny cubes, finely chop the onion, and chiffonade the cilantro.
  • Put above ingredients into small bowl, add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Marvel at how easy that was, and let salsa rest in the fridge for about an hour (if you can)

Cook:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Using a mandoline, slice sweet potato into thin, chip-like slices.
  • Place sweet potato crisps onto a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes, flipping as necessary. Keep an eye on them, they go from ready to burnt real quick.
  • Transfer crisps onto plate and top with mashed avocado and pico de gallo. Sprinkle with a generous amount of cilantro and some freshly cracked pepper

That’s it! Told ya it was easy!

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I had this for dinner, and was very satisfied, I think the avocado gives it a real body that can stand on its own as a meal. If you have a bit more of an appetite, this would make an awesome appetizer, it’s basically a healthier version of chips and guac/salsa. If I were to make this for others, I’d definitely have it as a yummy appetizer before fajita night. Keeping with the mexican/spanish mood, this would make an incredible tapa! (Tapas are just about my favorite thing ever. Who doesn’t like to sample a little bit of everything?)

Gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, deliciousness!

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

-Pam