Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spinach & Strawberry Smoothie

I haven't made a green smoothie in a while, so I thought I would try using spinach this go-around instead of kale. Spinach is a great alternative for those that don't care for the flavor of kale because the taste is not as strong.  I am a kale fan, but spinach is a nice change sometimes. It tastes great with pretty much any fruit you throw in the blender with it, but I think it is particularly good with strawberries and bananas. Like most smoothies, this is so easy to make and such a simple and great tasting way to fit in a large amount of leafy greens.

Spinach & Strawberry Smoothie

Makes ~6 (8oz) servings


4 cups fresh organic spinach leaves
1 cup frozen organic strawberries
1 fresh banana
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups ice


1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until liquified and there are no visible pieces of ice

2. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

What are the nutritional benefits of this smoothie? Spinach is very high in vitamins A and K, and also and excellent source of folate, iron, vitamin C, and calcium. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C, and contain a prebiotic substance called fructooligosaccharide which ferments in the digestive tract, encouraging the growth of probiotics, and enhancing the absorption of calcium in the body. Orange juice tops it off with even more vitamin C.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Potato & Pea Soup

Here is another delicious and healthy soup with a creamy consistency that is completely dairy free! This is the first time I have made a recipe out of our Vitamix cookbook, and it was really great.  And the best part, aside from the soup tasting really good, is that there are not very many ingredients in it, and I had everything in the house already to make it. This was a really nice hot soup to have on a cold winter day. We ate it with some fresh egg salad sandwiches on toasted multigrain bread and some raw carrots - quick and easy for a weeknight!
Potato & Pea Soup


5 1/2 cups organic chicken stock
4 organic russet potatoes, quartered, with skin
1 cup frozen sweet peas
1/2 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4-inch piece lemon peel


1. Place potatoes, peas, onion, and 4 cups chicken stock in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Place cooked ingredients, remaining chicken stock and lemon peel in blender and blend until smooth.

(Recipe adapted from Vitamix: Create Recipes cookbook)

What are the nutritional benefits of this soup? Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium. Peas are high in vitamins A, C and K, as well as B vitamins, and are also high in fiber. Onions are rich in quercetin (a type of antioxidant) and vitamin C. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oat & Chia Energy Bars

My husband, Ted, and I workout quite a bit and like to grab an energy bar to take as a pre or post-workout snack. There are some great pre-packaged bars out there, but they can get pretty expensive and often contain a lot of artificial sugars and sugar alcohols. I have had "attempting to make a homemade energy bar" on my to-do list for a while, so this was finally my first stab at it, and they turned out great! At first, I thought I should have left them in the oven a few minutes longer because the consistency seemed a bit soft for a take-n-go energy bar. However, the next day, they were much more firm, making them a much better transportable snack. I ate one of these before I exercised today and I felt awesome during my workout! These bars are packed with nutient-rich ingredients, and the chia seeds are a great energy booster.

Oat & Chia Energy Bars

Makes 24 bars


1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup black strap molasses
1 large organic free range egg
2 organic free range egg whites
2 Tbsp chia seeds + 3 Tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried fruit (I used raisins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp chia seeds for topping
Peanut oil for oiling baking dish


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish with peanut oil.

2. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl. In separate, medium sized, mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar and molasses and beat with hand mixer until smooth.

3. In small bowl, whisk eggs. Combine chia seeds and water in another small bowl and let sit for 3-4 minutes to gel.

4. Add vanilla, chia seeds and eggs to peanut butter mixture. Beat with hand mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir in with a spoon. Fold in oats, raisins and walnuts.

5. Spread mixture into baking pan evenly. Sprinkle 1 Tsbp chia seeds over the top.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely in baking dish. Cut into 24 bars.

(Recipe adapted from preventionrd.com)

What are the nutritional benefits of these energy bars? Whole wheat flour is less refined than all purpose flour so provides more fiber and nutrients, particularly B vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and iron. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and potassium. Black strap molasses is a very good source of several minerals, including iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Walnuts are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, and are also high in vitamin E and B vitamins. Oats are high in soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels.

According to the recipe that I followed on preventionrd.com, here is the nutrition information for one bar: 138 calories, 5.8g fat, 9mg cholesterol, 71mg sodium, 19.8g carbohydrate, 2.8g fiber, 3.6g protein, and 420mg omega 3 fatty acids

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce & Mexican Brown Rice

If you are looking for a delicious yet healthy Mexican style meal, this is for you! I have always wanted to try making a mole sauce but most of the recipes seemed a little too involved, especially for a week night. I came across this simple mole sauce recipe and so decided to make some enchiladas to go with it. Most enchilada recipes have sour cream and/or lots of cheese in the filling, but I wanted to do something that was healthier and also dairy free, aside from topping some of them with a small amount of cheese. I left one enchilada free of cheese for our son (because he has a milk allergy). And honestly, the mole sauce and enchiladas themselves are so good, the cheese isn't necessary! I also used multigrain tortillas instead of flour tortillas for a healthier spin on the recipe, and they were really good. The best part is that these enchiladas taste even better the next day, so make great leftovers. I made these for dinner last night and we had them again for dinner tonight. 

To make shredded chicken for dishes like this, I am a fan of slow-cooking the chicken breasts in chicken stock for 5 hours. When you take the chicken out, it pretty much just falls into pieces, making the shredding very easy. It is really simple to do it this way, but you just need to make sure you plan ahead since it takes several hours. You could pop the chicken in the slow cooker the evening before and store it in the fridge until you are ready to make the rest of the meal.

This Mexican brown rice is so flavorful, I think even those who aren't brown rice converts would like it. The key is slow-simmering the rice in the puree of tomatoes, garlic, onion, and chicken stock. To save some time, make the rice ahead of time if you can (since it takes an hour to cook) and reheat it at dinner time. 

Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce & Mexican Brown Rice

Chicken Enchiladas


1 pound organic free range chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp canola oil 
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 oz canned diced green chili peppers
1 (28oz) can stewed tomatoes
8 multigrain tortillas
1 cup 2% milk shredded cheddar cheese (optional), for topping


1. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour in 2 cups chicken stock, or enough to just cover chicken breasts. Cook on low for 5 hours.

2. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred using 2 forks. Set aside, or store in refrigerator until ready to use.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add shredded chicken, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, corn, chilies, and stewed tomatoes. Stir until evenly combined and cook, continuing to stir, until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Spread a thin layer of mole sauce (recipe below) on bottom of large rectangular baking pan so that enchiladas do not stick.

5. Fill tortillas with chicken mixture and wrap to hold together. Place seam-side down in baking dish. Spoon mole sauce over enchiladas, trying to cover as much of exposed tortillas as possible so that they do not dry out in oven. Top with cheddar cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Mole Sauce


2 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried cilantro
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 (10.75oz) can condensed tomato soup
1 (4oz) can diced green chile peppers


1. Heat canola oil in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Mexican Brown Rice


1 (14.5oz) can organic diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cups organic chicken stock, divided
1 1/2 cups organic long grain brown rice
1 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup frozen vegetables


1. Place diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, and 1/2 cup chicken stock in food processor. Process until smooth.

2. Place oil, rice and frozen vegetables in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.  Add tomato mixture and remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes, or until rice is no longer crunchy, stirring occasionally. Add additional chicken stock or water as needed.

What are the nutritional benefits of this meal? Multigrain tortillas are less refined than flour tortillas, and contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals as a result. Chicken is an excellent source of protein and is rich in B vitamins. Corn provides some fiber and vitamin C, folate and thiamin, as well as minerals phosphorous and magnesium. Onions are rich in quercetin, a type of antioxidant, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K, folate, thiamin, and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Canned tomato products, such as the stewed tomatoes, diced tomaoes and tomato soup in this dinner, contain more lycopene than fresh tomatoes, and also provide lots of vitamin C. Cocoa powder, used in the mole sauce, contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Cumin is a good source of iron and calcium. Brown rice is unrefined, so contains it's original abundance of iron, zinc, manganese, selenium, antioxidants and fiber.