Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deliciously Healthy Family Meals: Free Cookbook

I recently received a free copy of a new cookbook published by the National Institute’s of Health’s We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) Program. This book is available for free yes, I said FREE!) in pdf form and in print.

I would definitely recommend looking through this book. The photographs are fantastic; they truly succeed at making healthy food look mouth-watering.  There are a variety of recipes included for dinners, snacks, side dishes, and lunch/brunch. Some of the recipes really appealed to me, and I will definitely be giving them a try, like Spinach and Corn Pancakes, Zesty Tomato Soup and Mexican Lasagna. The recipe that I found most intriguing was for Watermelon and Tomato Salad. Although watermelon is not currently in season where I live, I’m going to include that recipe below as a harbinger of warmer weather to come.

I think this cookbook is especially valuable for beginning cooks. There is a glossary of cooking terms, a guide to common cooking measurements, basic cooking instructions, and photos illustrating cutting terms that many will find helpful. Also included are suggestions for estimated calorie requirements for children based on their age and activity level and a food guide for children. I personally could have done without these materials because I’m not sure how useful they are.

I would recommend this cookbook for anyone who is searching for new recipes to make for their family. You may be inspired to attempt something new…plus you’ve already paid for it with your tax dollars!

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

2 large tomatos, rinsed and cut into slices each
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
4 cups diced watermelon, with seeds removed
¼ tps salt
¼ tsp black pepper

1. Arrange three tomato slices on each of four salad plates.
2. Combine vinegar, oil, and basil in a bowl, and mix well.
3. Add watermelon, and gently toss to coat evenly.
4. Spoon watermelon over the tomatoes.
5. Top with salt and pepper, and serve.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Comfort Foods - Chicken Soup 2 Ways

We've had a little cold virus running through our family this week, and nothing says comfort food more to me than chicken soup - especially when I'm a little sick. Today I'm going to share two chicken soup recipes. The first is my favorite one to make lately and is modified from a recipe I had found in Cooking Light. For the second recipe, I am grateful for this contribution from Jeannie Spiro, a health coach at Healthy Weighs. Thank you Jeannie ~ I can't wait to try this one. I have a weakness for anything served with tortilla chips!

Chicken Orzo Soup

6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked orzo
2 Tbs olive oil
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups water
6 fresh parsley sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
8 cups fresh baby spinach (about half a bag of baby spinach salad mix)
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
  • ·      Cook orzo according to package directions.
  • ·      Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  • ·      Add carrot, celery, onion, and chicken. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • ·      Stir in broth, water, parsley, and thyme.
  • ·      Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • ·      Discard herb sprigs.
  • ·      Add cooked orzo, spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • ·      Simmer for 1 more minute.

Serves 8.

Note: I use the 32-oz boxes of chicken broth. I store the remainder in the fridge and add it to any leftover soup when I reheat it since the orzo absorbs a lot of the liquid in the soup.

Mexican Tortilla Soup

4 split (2 whole) Free range Chicken breasts
Good olive oil 
Sea Salt 
2 cups sweet Vidalia onions (2 onions) 
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks) 
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots) 
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1⁄2 quarts chicken stock, homemade is best (or choose high quality store bought) 
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed 
2-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed 
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano 
chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Add Ons: Avocado, Plain Yogurt, Organic Cheddar or Goat Cheese (for a little extra fat!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake chicken which has been slightly coated in olive oil and seasoned with a small amount of s&p. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool and then shred with forks to add to soup later.

Meanwhile, heat 3 T. of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook over medium low heat for 10 mins or until onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and puree, jalapenos and spices. Add sea salt depending on the sodium content of your stock. Add 1 t. of pepper and cilantro.

Bring soup to a boil, then lower and heat for 25 mins. Add chicken and season to taste.

Garnish with: More cilantro, sliced avocado, a spoonful of yogurt or cheese. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips.