Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

lemon-turmeric-energy-balls

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and am so excited to try it.

I have a tree bursting with Meyer Lemons in my backyard and just got a fresh delivery of Medjool Dates from Hadley Fruit Orchards in Cabazon, CA.  I can’t possibly ONLY drink date milkshakes (although I’d love to try), and I need to find a way to get more turmeric, with it’s anti-inflammatory gifts, into my diet, so this is a win-win.

I may even make a batch that substitutes blood orange for the lemon because I also have a tree full of ripe Blood Oranges. #CaliforniaGirlCitrusProblems

In the ginger family, turmeric is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes in many different regions’ cuisines: South Asia, Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia), India, Eastern Asia, the Middle East, Iran, South Africa, and Thailand among others. In Medieval Europe it was known as Indian Saffron because it was used as an alternative to the more expensive and harder to get spice.

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

  • 12 dried Medjool dates
  • 1 cup old-fashioned gluten-free oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, for dusting
  1. Remove the pits from dates and soak them in hot water for several minutes. When the dates are softened, drain them and place in food processor. Save the water.
  2. Add the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until mixture turns into a dough-like consistency. Add 1 tablespoon of water from soaking the dates if the mixture is too dry.
  3. With the small spoon scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Store energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

    Notes: Energy balls can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

    You can find the original recipe at http://www.natalieshealth.com/

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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

slow-cooker-chicken-cacciatoreNobody likes to worry about cooking dinner after getting home from work on Monday night.

The weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of activity.  Kids games, recitals, activities, parties, chores, and maybe some adult beverages have left you with no energy to plan a meal after your first day back at the grind of the work week.

Thankfully Cooking Light Magazine has come to the rescue with a YouTube video to guide us all through a “fix it and forget it” healthy and hearty weeknight meal that will bring the whole family to the table and make you look like a SUPERSTAR!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 (6-oz.) boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in a 6-quart electric slow cooker, stirring with a whisk
  2. Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms)
  3. Add chicken thighs to stock mixture; submerge in liquid
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours
  5. Remove chicken
  6. Add oil and pasta to slow cooker
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done
  8. Stir in spinach until wilted
  9. Divide pasta mixture among 8 shallow bowls
  10. Top evenly with chicken
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

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Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

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Beef Stroganoff

beef-stroganoff

There are few things I enjoy more than a hearty, thick, rich beef stroganoff.  My grandma used to make this hearty Russian dish, finishing it with a dollop of sour cream.  I loved taking her in her later years to a local Marie Callendar’s restaurant who did a pretty good job with their version of this comforting dish.

I tore this recipe out of the September 1999 edition of Bon Appétit Magazine and it’s been my go-to ever since!

Ingredients

    • 1 + 1/2-pound piece beef tenderloin, well trimmed, meat cut into 2x1x1/2 inch strips (I prefer chunks)
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 12 tablespoons (1 + 1/2 sticks) butter
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
    • 1 pound small button mushrooms, thickly sliced
    • 2 cup canned beef broth
    • 4 tablespoons Cognac
    • 1 + 1/2 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
    • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
    • 1 tablespoon paprika

Preparation

    1. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until very hot.
    3. Working in batches, add meat in single layer and cook just until brown on outside, about 1 minute per side.
    4. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet.
    5. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat.
    6. Add chopped shallots and sauté until tender, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes.
    7. Add button mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper and sauté until liquid evaporates, about 12 minutes.
    8. Add beef broth, then Cognac. Simmer until liquid thickens and just coats mushrooms, about 14 minutes.
    9. Stir in crème fraîche and Dijon mustard.
    10. Add meat and any accumulated juices from baking sheet.
    11. Simmer over medium-low heat until meat is heated through but still medium-rare, about 2 minutes.
    12. Mix 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into the sauce to thicken
    13. Stir in chopped dill.
    14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    15. Meanwhile, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes.
    16. Drain.
    17. Transfer to bowl.
    18. Add remaining butter and toss to coat.
    19. Season with salt and pepper.
    20. Divide noodles among plates.
    21. Top with beef and sauce. Sprinkle generously with paprika.

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7 Superfoods to Add to Your Dog’s Diet


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Valentine’s Day Quick Carnitas Tacos

fullsizerender-3On a whim, I decided to make carnitas tacos for Valentine’s Day dinner at home.  I didn’t have to worry about not thinking ahead because my pressure cooker would cook the meat even if it wasn’t all the way thawed in time.  Whew!

Thankfully I’d thrown a pork shoulder in the freezer when they’d been on sale at the grocery store, so I’d just have to rummage through the refrigerator and cupboard to see what I could cobble together to make a meal.

Appetizer:  Spicy Pickled Carrots & Jalapenos

  • 6 Carrotsfullsizerender-4
  • 2 Large Jalapenos
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water

Boil the water and apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When at a full rolling boil shut off the flame and immediately add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir once and let stand for about an hour.  Serve at room temperature, or if you have time, refrigerate to bring out even more flavor.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within a week.

Now on to the main course.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 4-6 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Large Fresh Lemon
  • 1 Jalapeño Sliced in Half
  • 1 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth

Preparation

  1. Set the pressure cook to brown setting
  2. Pour the oil into the pressure cooker
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and cloves on all sides of the pork
  4. Place the pork in the pressure cooker and brown on all sides
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the pork, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, halved jalapeño, the squeezed lemons and the chicken broth
  6. Cover the pressure cooker, lock on the lid, and bring to high pressure
  7. Cook pork at high pressure for 45 minutes
  8. Turn off and allow pressure to release naturally
  9. Transfer pork to a baking sheet
  10. Preheat the broiler to high
  11. Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet
  12. Broil until the pork starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
  13. Serve with warm corn tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, pepper jack or cojito cheese, hot sauce and wedges of lime

A can of refried beans, a couple of street tacos and a beer and it’s a meal!

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Easy Roasted Tomato Soup

fellp20150820_lowCalifornia’s multiple personality disorder has reared it’s ugly head again.  The weather, which had been giving us a normal winter for a change, has turned on a dime and we have Santa Ana winds, sunshine and warm temperatures just a day after rain clouds and temperatures in the low 60’s.  Ugh!  This is really screwing with my pre-planned menus!

Screw it!  I planned to make soup for dinner and soup it will be.  I don’t care if it’s warm outside or not.  If anyone complains they can chill theirs like gazpacho.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 1 Poblano Chili (Stem and Seed Pod Removed if Desired)
  • 6 Large Tomatoes (Hard Stems Cut Out)
  • 1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion (Peeled and Halved)
  • 5 Large Carrots (Peeled & Tops Removed)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Place the onion, cut side down, onto an oiled baking pan along with the peeled carrots, the poblano chili and the 6 tomatoes (cut tops up). Tip:  For added flavor, I roast my chili with the stem and seed pod in and remove them before throwing into the Vitamix.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tomato skins begin to crack and peel.

Preparation Option 1 – VITAMIX:

If you have a Vitamix with a soup setting like I do (it’s on the Professional Series 750), the steps are simple from here.  All you do is throw all of the roasted vegetables into the container, place the lid on securely, turn the dial to the soup setting, depress the start button and wait for the cycle to end when it’s done chopping/blending and cooking the soup.

Preparation Option 2 -Blender or Food Processor and Stove Top:

Place the onion, chili and carrots into the blender/processor container and pulse to chop the vegetables up.  Then turn the blender to puree and mix until the vegetables are well chopped.  Add the tomatoes 1 at a time blending on high until all are well incorporated.  If you run out of room in your container, move 1/2 of your vegetable mixture to the pan you’ll be heating the soup in.  When all of the vegetables are blended/pureed, heat in a pan on the stove until warm enough to eat.

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Healthy Apple Dessert or Between Meal Snack

Dessert doesn’t have to be made of ingredients that are bad for your diet!

You can take something healthy, like an apple and add some sweet or salty ingredients and it can feel like the most decadent treat without throwing you off of your diet track.

Large Granny Smith or Fuji Apple

Peanut butter (or Nutella, any other nut, seed, or soy butter/spread)

Granola or peanuts (or other favorite nuts, coconut, or seeds)

Dried cranberries (or raisins, dried cherries, apricots, dates or other dried fruit)

  1. Core the apple with an apple corer or melon baller. 
  2. Lay the apple on its side and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. 
  3. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the slices. 
  4. Top with a few chocolate chips, a few peanuts, and a few dried cranberries. 
  5. Drizzle with thin lines of caramel or chocolate ice cream topping if desired.
  6. Enjoy without any guilt!

 

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Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup

broccolichickensoupCooking Light is my favorite “Go-To” resource for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.  It’s been cold and blustery this week and the last thing I wanted to do was put together a big fussy sit down meal, but I wanted something hearty enough to be filling.

This soup, that they did a recipe rescue on, has 40 percent fewer calories and 62 percent less fat than the heavy original.  It satisfied the need for something hearty and filling without completely blowing the diet while also giving a big sit down meal feel with some crusty bread and a glass of wine!

Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces uncooked vermicelli, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light)
  • 4 cups (1-inch) cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Coat pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; add butter to mushroom mixture, stirring until butter melts.
  5. Sprinkle mushroom mixture with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly.
  8. Add pasta to pan; cook 10 minutes.
  9. Add cheese to pan, and stir until cheese melts.
  10. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to pan; cook 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender and soup is thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information

Calories 317 Fat 12.3g Sat fat 6.8g Mono fat 2.9g Poly fat .9g  Protein 27.5g Carbohydrate 23.8g Fiber 1.9g Cholesterol 74 mg Iron 1.6 mg Sodium 723 mg Calcium 179 mg

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A Lemon Bar That Won’t Derail Your Diet

6021601_SYYOL12299Most people who put themselves on diets at the beginning of each year wrongly assume that they have to deprive themselves of anything sweet and especially anything that falls under the category of dessert.  Thankfully they are wrong on both counts.

This week my main focus is finding low fat & calorie conscious ways to satisfy your sweet tooth whether you are dieting or not.

This recipe from Cooking Light Magazine cuts the sugar from a standard lemon bar recipe down from an estimated 36 g of sugar to 6 g of sugar and only 129 calories.

Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

  • 4 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, almonds, powdered sugar, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; pulse until almonds are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pat mixture down into an even layer, patting firmly without compacting too tightly (which will make crust tough). Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; cool completely.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.

4. To prepare filling, rinse processor, and wipe dry. Place yogurt and next 6 ingredients (through cream cheese) in processor; process until smooth. Add eggs; process until smooth. Pour mixture over crust, spreading evenly. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until set.

5. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until chilled.

Nutritional Information

Calories 129     Fat 7.7 g       Sat fat 3.5 g      Mono fat 2.6 g
Poly fat 0.8 g   Protein 4 g  Carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 1 g     Cholesterol 37 mg    Sodium 130 mg    Calcium 34 mg

Sugars 6 g     Est. Added Sugars 5

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