Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hamburger Buddy

Everyone loves Hamburger Helper, right? This recipe tastes a lot like the family classic but is full of veggies and has fewer additives. It's a great meal for kids who don't quite love vegetables (yet), and it makes for amazing leftovers too. I also really like it because (aside from the food processor), it's a one-pot dish!

Hamburger Buddy
Serves 6

3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 medium carrots, cut into 2" pieces (I used 4 carrots)
10 ounce white mushrooms, large ones cut in half
1 pound lean ground organic beef (try grass-fed!)
2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. Redmond's salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 14-ounce can reduced sodium organic chicken broth, divided
8 ounces whole wheat elbow noodles (I used brown rice penne)
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. all-purpose flour (I used rice flour)
1/2 C. reduced fat sour cream (I used organic regular sour cream)
2 T. tomato paste - I added this based on feedback on the EatingWell site
1 T. chopped fresh parsley


Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and processed until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and processed until finely chopped.

Turn it off, add onions, and pulsed until roughly chopped.

Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce (if using); bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8-10 minutes. If using brown rice pasta, make sure to not overcook.

Whisk flour with the remaining 1/4 cup of broth in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the hamburger mixture.

Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired.

Of course, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product because I made this on a Sunday for a Monday dinner and didn't whip out the camera when I actually ate it. You can imagine the deliciousness, however :) It's actually really good sprinkled with Cholula, and I served it another way later in the week by topping it with shredded cheese and heating it in the toaster oven. Yum!



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whole Foods Inspired Curry Chicken Salad

My husband Greg loves Whole Foods Curry Chicken Salad. At around $10 a pound, it's also pretty pricey. I wanted to figure out how to make it on my own so that I could control the ingredients AND save money. My inlaws enjoyed this with us a few weeks ago and really wanted the recipe; here you go, Chris! It would present really well for a baby or wedding shower, too.

It took me a while to find
this recipe, which is not on Whole Foods' website. It compares to what's on the ingredient list, and when prepared it tastes exactly like what you buy in the store. I will list the approximate price of each ingredient (for the amount of each ingredient actually used in the recipe) so that we can see how much ~2 1/2 lb of purchased chicken salad, which is about $25 at Whole Foods, would cost to make yourself. I bought the organic chicken thighs in bulk for $3.99/lb at Costco. I use thigh meat because that's what is on the ingredient list when you purchase the chicken salad, though it's not listed on the recipe I found.

2 lb organic chicken thighs ($7.98)
1/4 cup almond slivers ($0.50)

1/3 cup red currants ($0.67)

1 bunch scallions, chopped ($1.00 at the North Scottsdale Farmers' Market)

1/4 cup Major Grey chutney ($1.00)

1/4 cup safflower mayo ($0.50)

1 tsp. muchi curry powder ($0.16)

Salt and pepper to taste
Total cost: $11.81 - compare to $25.00 at Whole Foods for the prepared salad; that's less than HALF the price!)


Arrange your ingredients:
Steam chicken breasts in a steamer basket until no longer pink in the middle. You can also poach it in 1" water. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces.

Add scallions:

Add currants:

Add almond slivers:

Ideally, you would combine the mayo, chutney, curry, salt, and pepper together before adding to the bowl. However, for sake of time, I just added them to the bowl individually.
Mayo (using more than the recipe called for this time):


Curry (I use about 1 T), salt, and pepper:

Stir it all together:

It's especially yummy when refrigerated for a few hours to let the flavors set. It's a nice treat and a great price! Enjoy!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Seared Chicken with Apricot Sauce

I used to hate sweet-savory combinations, but my tastes seemed to change when I did the Clean Program last year. Now I really like strawberries on my salad or citrus with my chicken. This recipe (slightly adapted) struck my fancy because it utilizes apricot preserves and fresh (or dried apricots) for concentrated sweet taste without heaps of refined sugar. (For the record, I used reduced sugar Trader Joe's apricot preserves, which are made with less cane sugar - but no artificial anything - and more fruit than traditional preserves.)

This recipe went over really well in my house, and leftovers were devoured within a day. It tastes like something you would get in a restaurant and doesn't take long to make, either. It will soon become one of my go-to dishes when I'm craving something with a bit of sweetness. Come to think of it, I still have leftover apricot preserves and dried apricots...

I also made crispy oven-roasted vegetables to go with the chicken. Roasting is a great way to cook a large amount of hearty vegetables, and you can be really creative with spices and flavor combinations. I do a lot of raw veggies and salads, so it's nice to mix it up and roast any vegetables I have on hand. Bonus - the fat in olive oil helps you absorb fat-soluble nutrients and phytochemicals, and the spices and herbs add a disease-fighting antioxidant kick.

Seared Chicken with Apricot Sauce
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4 lb), trimmed and tenders removed - go organic!
3/4 tsp. dirty sea salt, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour; try brown rice flour if avoiding gluten)
1 tablespoon canola oil (I used organic pasture butter from Whole Foods)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium shallot, minced
4 fresh apricots, pitted and chopped (I used about 6 dried apricots)
2 T. apricot preserves
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp. dried (I used marjoram because I was out)


Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.

Pound with a rolling pin, meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch.

Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess. Discard any leftover flour.

Heat oil (or butter - I use butter because it has a higher smoke point than olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the center, 3-5 minutes per side.

Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm. (If necessary, cook the chicken in two batches with an additional 1 tablespoon of oil.)

Off the heat, add wine and shallot to the pan.

Return to medium heat and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Add apricots and cook until the fruit begins to break down, 2-3 minutes.

Stir in preserves, tarragon and the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.

Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Serve the chicken with the sauce (and veggies - see below!).

Roasted Vegetables
I used broccoli and asparagus here, but feel free to experiment with carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or squash.

Assorted in-season veggies
1-3 T. first cold pressed olive oil
Dried herbs - try rosemary, basil, or other preferred herbs
Garlic powder
Dirty sea salt


Place the veggies in a bowl.

Sprinkle with olive oil and toss to coat.

Add herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Stir, then spread evenly on a baking sheet.

Roast at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes, or until slightly browned.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicken Breasts with Green Chile-Almond Cream Sauce

I love almond milk, so I was intrigued when I saw this somewhat unusual recipe on It was absolutely delicious and tender, and I will certainly make it again!

Chicken Breasts with Green Chile-Almond Cream Sauce

(Makes 6)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (see Shopping Tip)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup chopped seeded fresh New Mexican green chiles (I used dried red New Mexican chiles)
  • 3 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (see Tip)
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 chicken breast cutlets or fillets (about 4 ounces each; see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (see Tip)


Assemble ingredients:

Combine almond milk, broth, green chiles, scallion whites, almonds, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.

Remove the seeds if you want to cut down the heat. I could only find dried chiles, but they just required a little cooking to fully rehydrate.

Kinda pretty, huh?

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the mixture until reduced by half, 20 to 30 minutes.

(This is where my fancy camera died, so I had to rely on the trusty Canon point-and-shoot):

Puree with an immersion blender or puree in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Sprinkle chicken with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook half the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining chicken until browned.

Add the first batch of chicken back to the pan. Pour in the sauce and cook at a low simmer, turning occasionally, until all the chicken is cooked through and tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Stir cream (if using) into the sauce and pour the sauce over the chicken. (I did this step while the chicken was still in the pan.)

Sprinkle with the reserved scallion greens and sesame seeds. Serve with lightly steamed vegetables or a fresh, crunchy salad.