Thursday, June 30, 2016

Food & Nutrition's Zucchini Noodle Mei Fun with Chicken

Here is a great example of a delicious meal made with zucchini noodles - and lots of other great vegetables! I saw this picture on the front of my latest Food & Nutrition magazine, and had to make it.

Not only does it look nice, but it tastes so good, and is a really healthy and easy weeknight dinner. There is chili garlic paste in this recipe, which adds a lot of great flavor, but a little bit goes a long way. I put in about 1/3 of the amount that was called for, and it was plenty spicy. I also omitted the bean sprouts in the recipe because I don't care for them. But if you like bean sprouts, they're a nice addition for some added crunch and texture in the meal. 

If you're not sold on replacing regular noodles with zucchini noodles, this is the recipe to try!

Food & Nutrition's Zucchini Noodle Mei Fun with Chicken

Makes ~4 servings


2 medium organic zucchinis
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
2 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 large organic egg
1 organic chicken breast, cubed
1/2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 organic red bell pepper, sliced thin
5 organic scallions, chopped


1. Spiralize zucchini into noodles. Cover and set aside.

2. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and chili garlic paste. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil over medium-high heat. Scramble egg then remove from pan and reserve for later.

4. Add 1 Tbsp sesame oil to same pan and heat. Add chicken and garlic. Cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.

5. Add onion and pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. 

6. Add egg and sauce mixture to pan and simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. 

7. Remove pan from heat and add zucchini noodles. Toss until evenly combined. Top with green onions.

What are the nutritional benefits of this meal? Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and also provides fiber, manganese, lutein and zeaxanthin (phytonutrients that are good for eyesight). Compared with traditional noodles, zucchini is much lower in calories, providing about 21 calories per cup. Traditional pasta provides about 200 calories per cup! Zucchini noodles are a fresh, whole food, whereas noodles are an enriched processed food product. Chicken is an excellent source of protein and is rich in B vitamins. Garlic is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. Bell peppers are one of the best food sources of vitamins A and C. 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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Shrimp Flat Bread Pizza

On a recent rainy day, my little guy and I decided to make some pizza dough to use for making flat bread pizza that night. He came to the kitchen equipped with his work goggles and then enjoyed playing with the dough when it was all mixed and ready to rise. We had a lot of fun, and ended up making our best ever homemade pizza!

Shrimp Flat Bread Pizza


Pizza Crust:
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1Tbsp kosher salt
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1Tbsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 pound cooked shrimp, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 organic red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced red onion
Olive oil, for brushing on rolled-out dough (~2 tsp)
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling (~2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
1/2 cup organic curly parsley, chopped


1. To make pizza dough, place flour and salt in large mixer with dough hook attached. Combine water, yeast and sugar in large measuring cup or small bowl and mix with a fork. Let sit for 5 minutes. Turn mixer on low and slowly add yeast mixture. Once all yeast mixture is added, allow dough hook to continue kneading dough for about 3 minutes.  Cover dough and bowl and allow to rise for about 2 hours. If you are not using the dough for several hours, place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Oil rectangular baking sheet with olive oil.

3. On floured surface, roll out 1/4 of pizza dough into thin rectangular shape. Place dough on oiled baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with olive oil. Top with shrimp, bell pepper, onion, balsamic vinegar, and cheeses.

4. Bake for 13 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Top with parsley and serve.

What are the nutritional benefits of this meal? 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. Shrimp are an excellent source of protein, providing 18g of protein in a 3oz serving. Shrimp are also a good source of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Bell peppers are one of the best food sources of vitamins A and C. 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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Not All Convenience Foods are Created Equal

Not All Convenience Foods are Created Equal

There is a lot of talk about "clean eating" and not eating anything that comes out of a package. Generally, I would agree with this suggestion. But there are some great pre-packaged and convenience options available if you look for them - usually in your produce section! I often hear from people that making salads is so much work because there is a lot to cut up (and I can't disagree, especially when there's not a lot of time for making dinner). Instead of buying lots of veggies that you have to cut up, fill up a container of fresh already-chopped vegetables from the salad bar at your grocery store, and grab a container of pre-washed organic salad greens of your choice. This is a pure convenience and pre-packaged dinner, but still really good for you!

I was recently introduced to this amazing Trader Joe's pre-washed, pre-packaged salad kit by my friend, Beth (thanks Beth!).  It is a broccoli and kale slaw that comes with a package of dried cherries, a mixture of almonds and sunflower seeds, and the dressing. I've been mixing it in with some organic spinach leaves and topping it off with grilled chicken for a super easy and healthy dinner.

Trader Joe's has a couple of other mixes with different types of lettuce and toppings that look really good as well! You can check them out in the produce section by the bagged pre-washed lettuce.

Another convenience option I recently learned about is that our grocery store (Mariano's) will grill any raw meat, poultry or fish for you - free of charge! So you could go in and grab some wild salmon or organic chicken breasts, and they will grill them for you while you finish shopping. What a great way to get most of your dinner cooked without having to do a thing (except the grocery shopping that you had to do anyway!). Why not have the store grill a package of chicken breasts while you go grab some hummus and a couple bags of pre-peeled, washed and cut organic carrots and sugar snap peas to go with it? Another purely convenience and pre-packaged dinner that is completely healthy and delicious!

The time and inconvenience of food preparation can be a major hurtle standing in the way of providing healthy meals for yourself and your family. It's a hurtle for me, too! It's time consuming to plan meals for the week, shop for all the ingredients and then prepare/cook them. But luckily, there are some healthy and convenient options available that taste good and will leave you feeling less stressed and more satisfied that you provided a healthy meal for your family :)