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Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Noodles

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This recipe is the sixth in my month-long series of healthy, weeknight recipes from all around the web. This is stuff I make time and again, usually with some modifications, and still love! Check back (or follow this blog) to see all of the recipes I’ll be featuring this month!

Zucchini-Noodles-with-Lemon-Garlic-Chicken-Spinach-GF-healthy-dinner

This recipe is a concatenation of a few recipes from other food blogs. The ingredient inspiration comes from this Inspiralized dish and the flavors come from this chicken and rice recipe on MidEats. I love the combination of the two. The flavors are light and fresh – a perfect pairing for the veggies. I know it isn’t exactly (or even close to) zucchini season, but even in the winter I still enjoy cooking and eating this dinner.

If you are new to spiralizing and/or making zucchini noodles see my post here about making zucchini noodles. I go through a couple extra steps to get zucchini noodles with a great texture. It takes a little longer because you have to let the “noodles” sit and drain for a little while, but I promise the results are worth it. Plus, this is still a quick meal, even with the extra steps. You’re looking at about 30-40 minutes, with only about half of that time actually being active cooking.

In terms of healthfulness, it’s hard to beat this dinner! Lean chicken, protein packed spinach, and a few zucchinis. I top mine with a few feta cheese crumbles, but that hardly ruins a healthy meal. I can’t give any guarantees or promises that this is a kid friendly meal, but I can say that both adults in this household love eating this!

Zucchini-Noodles-with-Lemon-Garlic-Chicken-Spinach-Healthy-Gluten-Free-Weeknight-Dinner

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T + 2 t olive oil, divided
  • 3 T lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t cumin
  • 4 large hand fulls spinach
  • feta cheese for topping, optional

Directions

  1. Spiralize each of the zucchinis. Place the zucchini noodles in a stainer in the sink. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the zucchini is soaking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add 2 T olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Stir to coat chicken. Put in the refrigerator to marinate for 15 minutes (up to overnight).
  3. After at least 15 minutes, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken + marinade to the skillet. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the chicken is done and all the juices are absorbed, about 10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking use a thin towel or cheesecloth to wring out the excess liquid from the zucchini noodles (more detail on this step can be found in this post).
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate. Add the remaining 2 t of olive oil to the skillet.Give the oil a minute or two to warm, then add the zucchini noodles to the skillet. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, to let the noodles heat up.
  5. Add the chicken and the spinach to the skillet. Keep on the heat just long enough for the spinach to wilt.
  6. Top with feta cheese crumbles before serving, if desired.

Serve this with

  • NOTE: This skillet can be a stand alone meal. As is, the recipe is grain free and paleo. Personally, I feel lousy without whole grains in my diet, so I usually include a quinoa side dish with this meal. Feel free to serve the skillet on it’s own if that works for you!
  • Quinoa Pilaf
  • Lemon Risotto
  • Coming soon . . . quinoa patties.

Spicy Lime Foil Packet Tilapia

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This recipe is the fourth in my month-long series of healthy, weeknight recipes from all around the web. This is stuff I make time and again, usually with some modifications, and still love! Check back (or follow this blog) to see all of the recipes I’ll be featuring this month!

There are so many reasons why this recipe is one of my healthy weeknight favorites. I gotta say, the absolute best part of this recipe is that you won’t dirty any pots of pans making it! Fish + veggies cooked in individual foil packets that are baked right on the rack in the oven. I only use four items total to make this: a knife, cutting board, small prep bowl, and a spoon. Just rinse and throw in the dishwasher. Talk about easy clean up!

Spicy-Lime-Tilapia-Foil-Packet-Dinners

Let’s talk about the food, too, instead of just the prep and clean up. These foil packets are loaded with moist, flakey fish and tons of green veggies. A bit of chili-infused oil and lime juice is spooned over the fish to flavor it. The packets are really easy to put together too. You just stack the asparagus and spinach, top with fish and a few ingredients for flavoring, and then fold up. Serve with a whole grain (see links to a few ideas below) for a a complete, 100% healthy meal that’s ready in under 30 minutes!

Foil-Packet-Spicy-Lime-Salmon-Healthy-Gluten-Free-Dinner

Spicy Lime Foil Packet Tilapia

Many of the ingredients here can be approximated. This is not one of those recipes where everything needs to be measured out perfectly for it to work. If you have a bit less asparagus, prefer more red pepper flakes, etc, the recipe will turn out fine!

Original Recipe Source: Women’s Health

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 3/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 c  spinach (approximately), divided (1/2 c per packet)
  • 20 asparagus spears (approximately)
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 8 t lime juice, divided (2 tsp per packet)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Tear off 4 large sections of aluminum foil (I use foil sections that are about twice as long as they are wide. Better to tear off a bit extra foil than to end up with too little).
  3. Cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces and lay an equal amount in a rectangle in each of the 4 packets.
  4. Top with the spinach, and then a tilapia fillet.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and red pepper flakes. Microwave for 30 seconds (this infuses the oil). Spoon 1/4 of the oil over each tilapia filet.
  6. Drizzle 2 t of lime juice over each packet.
  7. Sprinkle with green onions.
  8. Roll up the edges of each packet and press securely.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tilapia is white and flaky.

Serve this with:

Healthy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

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My first healthy favorite for January are these Healthy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes. I promised quick, healthy, weeknight recipes and although this takes about an hour to cook I think you’ll find that it’s still a great choice. Most of the time is hands off baking time while the sweet potatoes are in the oven. Set a timer, walk away, and do something else!

Healthy-Twice-Baked-Sweet-Potatoes-Gluten-Free-Vegetarian-2

Don’t be fooled by the cheese topping, these sweet potatoes are still healthy! Just a tablespoon of mozzarella per sweet potato is a great way to add another flavor and saltiness without becoming overly indulgent.

This recipe is adapted from Pinch of Yum. It is naturally gluten free, as written. I’ve increased the recipe size to make more servings and swapped out a few ingredients for healthier counterparts that I always have on hand.

My favorite part about this recipe is how filling it is! The sweet potatoes are so tasty, yet I’m usually stuffed after eating just two. The leftovers are so great warmed up in the toaster oven for a few minutes, too!

Healthy-Twice-Baked-Sweet-Potatoes-Gluten-Free-Vegetarian

Healthy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes vary greatly in size, so consider all the measurements in this recipe approximate. If you feel the ratio isn’t going to be quite right adjust as necessary. As long as you don’t change the baking times, you should end up with a good result!

This recipe is adapted from Pinch of Yum’s Healthy Sweet Potato Skins. Thanks for the great recipe inspiration!!! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced (you can also use 1 small onion)
  • 10 oz spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, divided

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke each potato several times with a fork. Bake the potatoes for about 1 hour, or until they are soft and tender.
  3. Towards the end of the baking time cut the shallots and spinach.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. When the oil is hot add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are fragrant and tender.
  6. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
  7. When the potatoes are done cut them in half. Scrape out the insides (put in a large bowl), leaving about a half inch around the skins to hold the shape of the potato.
  8. Mash the removed sweet potato, and add the greek yogurt. Stir in the shallot/spinach mixture and chickpeas.
  9. Fill each the empty potato skins with the sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the mozzarella onto each potato skin.
  10. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Curry Lentils with an Egg

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I found a recipe for Spiced Lentils with Eggs on theKitchn a while back. I loved the idea, but when I tried the recipe I wasn’t a fan of the garam masala taste. I add garam masala to flavor plenty of foods, but it’s not something I love as a main flavor (that’s just me – if you enjoy give the original recipe a try). I added some curry powder to my next batch and this time I did love the flavor!

Curry Lentils with an Egg 1

While my curry flavored lentils with an egg were delicious, I knew that as a meal it was really lacking in the vegetable department.  Adding an onion and some leafy greens made me feel a lot better about the vegetable content of this as a meal.  I’ve used both spinach and kale successfully – delicious either way!

Curry Lentils with an Egg 2

This meal is cooked in two steps. First, the lentils, spices, and vegetables are combined and cooked. The second step is to bake the lentil mixture, topped with an egg. You can bake the lentils in 4 or 5 ramakins right after preparing the lentil mixture on the stove or store the mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. Since I eat this one serving at a time I tend to store a big container of the lentils in the refrigerator. When I’m need a lunch I scoop some into a ramakin, microwave it for 2 minutes to warm up the lentils, crack the egg on top, and then bake. I know it sounds weird to microwave something before baking it, but I’ve found that this method really works the best when using refrigerated lentils. Otherwise, the baking time ends up being much longer.

Curry Lentils with an Egg 3

This has quickly become one of my favorite lunches. The curry lentils are so good on their own, and even better with an egg. It’s something about the smoothness of the egg against the spices and slight firmness of the split peas. I find myself fishing through my eggs looking for the largest ones each time I’m making this, just so I get more to eat!

Curry Lentils with an Egg 4

Curry Lentils with an Egg

modified from The Kitchn.
See post for modifications for baking one serving at a time.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 c red lentils
  • 1 c green split peas
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or a minced garlic clove)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs curry powder
  • 4 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c chopped spinach or kale
  • 1/3 c chopped cilantro
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper for seasoning (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, stir, and cook a few minutes until the onion is softened.
  2. Add the lentils, split peas, broth and stir. Stir in the garam masala, garlic powder, and curry powder. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 30-45 minutes. The red lentils will cook down into a mush and the split peas will be the texture of al dente pasta.
  3. Stir in the spinach/kale and cilantro.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Grease 4 small ramekins or glass dishes and scoop lentil mixture into each. Crack and egg on the top of the lentils, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until the egg is opaque and mostly set. Let sit for a few minutes before eating to let the egg finish cooking.

P.S. I’m going to use this recipe for my submission to this week’s Gluten Free Wednesday at Gluten Free Homemaker. Thanks to Linda for organizing the event! Check out the event; there are lots of great recipes and meal ideas there!

Spanikorizo (Spinach & Rice)

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I LOVE Spanikopita! The dill and feta cheese have give it such a strong, unique flavors. It’s chock-full of spinach to make you strong and healthy. What’s not to love? Well, if you’re a celiac, the phyllo dough.

Spanikorizo 1

One of the foods I was saddest about giving up after finding out I had celiac was Spanikopita. I tried making my own phyllo dough but it took so much time and was nothing like the original. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

Over the years I have come up with a few GF Spanikopita “hacks”. This one is called Spanikorizo, which means “Spinach & Rice”. It’s not my own idea by any means. Spanikoriza is another Greek dish that is very similar to Spanikopita. Instead of using phyllo dough Spanikorizo uses rice and is cooked right on the stove top. I crafted my own version to accomplish two things: first, have all of the strong, Greek, flavors I love and second, use up the ingredients I buy specifically for this meal. You won’t end up with half a bunch of dill and a cup of leftover spinach.

Spanikorizo 2

Spinach and rice doesn’t sound like the most desirable, tasty meal, but trust me, this stuff is good. I probably spent a full year eating this for lunch nearly everyday. It cooks up with little effort and tastes just as good leftover. It’s a great GF choice for healthy eating, and (like all of my other favorite recipes) is full of flavor!

Spanikorizo 3

Spanikorizo

Ingredients
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (use both green and white ends)
  • 1 c rice (white or brown)
  • 2 c water (may need up to 4 c for brown rice)
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is warm add the minced onion and saute until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the spinach, green onions, and dill to the skillet and mix, breaking up the spinach as it defrosts.
  3. When the spinach has mostly defrosted add the rice and water to the skillet. Cook until the rice is done (time will vary, about 20 min for white rice and about 40 min for brown rice. If needed, add more water).
  4. Stir in the crumbled feta cheese and serve hot.

Lemon Risotto

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Risotto has the reputation of being difficult to make. All that stirring.

Lemon Risotto 1

My introduction to risotto was through my first boyfriend’s mother.

Oh, high school relationships.

I was a senior in high school at the time and had done some cooking before, but this woman made things far more fancy and complicated than I was used to at home. My parents weren’t bad cooks or anything like that, but they didn’t enjoy cooking the same way she did. Naturally, people who enjoy cooking tend to spend more time in the kitchen creating intricate dishes than just your normal weeknight dinner.

Anyway, risotto. This boyfriend’s mom had told me how complicated risotto was. That it took so long to make. And the stirring, so much stirring. Me, being competitive, thought “psh, I can do that”. I went online to the Food Network, printed off a risotto recipe and tried my hand at it.

Lemon Risotto 2

That first risotto was a success, and it quickly became one of my favorite foods! It’s a comfort food for me, really. Risotto is so smooth and creamy, yet it fits my qualifications of not having any of the fatty, overly processed type ingredients (I don’t even add any cheese to my risotto anymore. It creamy enough as it is, and you really won’t notice the cheese is gone)! Sure, risotto is essentially a fancy white rice – not the healthiest, but definitely not the worst. I just eat it in moderation. The evening I made and photographed this particular risotto I also had some oven baked tilapia and some vegetable (asparagus, I think).

I topped my risotto with a bit of extra spinach. Other garnishes could be freshly grated parmesan or mozzarella, or parsley, oregano, or basil.

Lemon Risotto 3

Lemon Risotto

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2/3 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c chopped spinach
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the garlic and shallot and cook about 3-4 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the arborio rice. Let this mixture cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until the ends of the grains of rice are translucent.
  3. Pour in the lemon juice and let it absorb, stirring frequently.
  4. When the lemon juice has absorbed add about 1/2 c of the chicken or vegetable stock. Again, stir this frequently. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, add another half cup of broth and repeat until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. This will take some time and lots of stirring.
  5. Finally, stir in the chopped spinach and let the risotto cook for just a minute or two more while the spinach wilts.
  6. Optional: garnish risotto with extra spinach, freshly grated cheese, or herbs before serving.

 

PGF: Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

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This 20 minute, 7 ingredient dinner is perfect for a busy day. Pick a sweet or spicy sausage to fit the flavor to your own tastes.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach

This dinner was birthed out of Christmas chaotic-ness. It was about 7pm and I’d spent all of my cooking energy on cookies. I’d meant to go grocery shopping but ran out of time. I checked for leftovers, but there weren’t any in the refrigerator. My next thought was to make pasta and sauce, but I didn’t even have any pasta sauce in the house! So I scrounged through the near empty refrigerator, found a bag of spinach and some uncooked ground sausage that was nearing the expiration date and got to cooking.

In the time it took to cook pasta I actually ended up with a really delicious dinner. I took a few bites, and was pleasantly surprised, so I snapped a few photos before I devoured the entire plate.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 2

This is a PGF (portionally gluten free) recipe. Reflective of how I cook at home, I’ve written this recipe to make half a batch with GF pasta and half a batch of wheat pasta. The recipe calls for 1 pound of pasta total and that pound can be split up in whatever combination of GF/wheat suits your situation.  Like I said, I usually do half and half, but there are lots of options. If you have just one person out of a family of 4 or 5, make just 1/4 of a pound of GF pasta and up the wheat pasta to 3/4 (or vice versa). You can make a full pound of GF pasta, a full pound of wheat pasta, etc, etc.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 3

When you’ve finished cooking the pasta it’s time to stir in the sausage and spinach. Don’t worry about measuring out the exact right proportions of spinach and sausage to match the two batches of pasta. Just eyeball it or do a rough measurement; this is not the type of recipe that requires an exact measurement!

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 4

Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

Although this recipe is written to split half and half between GF and wheat you can easily vary the amount of either type of pasta. See the post above for more info on doing that.
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound GF pasta
  • 1/2 pound wheat pasta
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/4 c shredded asiago cheese (may use parmesan)
Directions
  1. Fill 2 pots with water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling add the GF pasta to one pot and the wheat pasta to the other. Cook each pasta for time listed on the package. If/when you stir the pasta, be sure to use a separate spoon for each pot. Drain pasta when it has finished cooking (I drain the GF pasta in a colander and the wheat pasta using the lid of the pan it was cooked in to avoid contamination) and return to the pot.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the sausage into the skillet and brown, breaking up into small bits.
  4. To the GF pasta, stir in half of the sausage, half of the spinach, and half of the cheese. Add the other half of the sausage, spinach, and cheese to the wheat pasta.
  5. When serving, be sure to use two separate spoons.

Spinach & Garlic Noodles

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In this time, when GF pasta is so readily available at grocery stores, it might seem silly to make your own. Even though I love all things cooking I still use store bought pasta most of the time, just because of the convenience factor.

One thing I really miss with GF pasta is the many, many varieties. Walking down the pasta aisle in the grocery store there are a plethora of shapes, sizes, and flavors to choose from. The GF section has a few options; maybe spaghetti, elbows, and ziti. Sometimes I miss the fancy pasta! Farfalle, acine de peppe, vegetable flavors, whole wheat – I can’t get any of these in GF (at least at my local, and not so awesome, grocery store. Maybe if you live in a big city you have more options).

I make GF pasta to fill that fancy pasta void in my life. With a basic dough, some creativity, and a pasty/pizza dough cutter your plain GF pasta will get much more interesting!

This dough comes from a recipe from The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food, and it is indeed more time consuming than using dry pasta, but requires little manual labor. You just throw the ingredients in the food processor and let it do the work (You don’t need a fancy food processor to do this. I have an 8 cup generic Sears brand food processor I got for $17 a few years ago. Its low quality, but it gets the job done)! The dough comes out soft and mold-able, making the rolling and cutting a breeze. When it’s time to cook, the pasta will only need 2 or 3 minutes in boiling water before it is done.

This dough can be modified to have many flavors, but this spinach and garlic variety is one of my favorites. If you’re not a garlic lover, I can vouch for how tasty the pasta is without the garlic, also, because I’ve made it that way a number of times, too. I cut mine into long fettuccine-like noodles but the shape options are endless!

Spinach & Garlic Noodles

 
Ingredients
  • 1 c packed spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 c white or brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c tapioca starch
  • 1/2 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 3 tsp xantan gum
  • 1 tsp gelatin powder
  • 1 Tbs ground flax
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Cooking Directions
  1. Microwave the spinach and water for 90 seconds.
  2. Drain any excess water from the spinach (whatever comes out naturally, you don’t have to press any extra water out of the leaves) and puree in the food processor. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Add the eggs and oil to the food processor, and mix until combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and mix one final time. The dough is ready when it has formed a ball. You may have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times in this step, too.
  5. Once the dough is mixed, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/16 – 1/8 inch thick. I’ve found it to be quicker to do this in three smaller batches.
  6. Slice the dough into long strips with a pastry or pizza cutter.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add a couple handfuls of the freshly cut pasta. Be careful not to overfill the pot. Stir to make sure none of the noodles are sticking together.
  8. The pasta will float to the top when it is finished cooking, this will take 5 minutes or less so keep your eye on the pot as it cooks. Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon, and repeat with any remaining pasta.

Lemony Quinoa & Spinach (GF)

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When I need a quick and nutritious meal this is what I make. Great things about this dish:

1. It will be done in about 15 minutes, and most of that time is just letting the quinoa simmer.

2. It only takes one pot.

3. It uses feta cheese. Personally, I love feta.

4. Quinoa and spinach are both really healthy. I eat this whole recipe for lunch often and I feel totally energized (and not at all guilty). I’m all for foods you can feel good about eating.

5. Did I mention, quinoa is really healthy?! Once you learn about it and try it you’ll be sold. Just ask my husband; he didn’t know what this stuff was before we got married and now he goes around showing people at work his leftover quinoa at lunch telling them “its one of those superfoods!” He’s correct. It contains more fiber than any other grain (good for us celiacs), tons of protein, and lots of other nutrients (iron, magnesium, and others). The price tag may be a little scary, but it’s well worth it. I’d suggest buying in bulk if possible – it cuts down on the cost, and then you have more quinoa to eat!

 

So, anyway, that was my quinoa rant. Now, onto the recipe!

Image

Lemony Quinoa & Spinach

Ingredients (makes 1 serving as a meal, makes 2 servings as a side dish)
  • 2/3c water
  • 1/3c quinoa
  • 1c packed spinach 
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • feta cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring quinoa and water to boil in a small pot.
  2. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot (it will be boiling pretty hard, so just watch and make sure nothing overflows until the boiling slows down). Let the quinoa cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. When the quinoa is done add the lemon juice and stir, just a bit.
  4. Dump the spinach on top of the quinoa and cover it again. Once the spinach is wilted, stir it in.
  5. Finally, add a few crumbles of feta cheese, though this will be tasty with or without it!
 
 

 

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