Butternut Squash Risotto

Fall is here!  And this means it is time to make soup, eat squash, and bake all sorts of pies.  The Colorado weather has definitely cooled off, making the atmosphere perfect for these foods.  But, sometimes it can be hard to make all of these delicious things and stay healthy.  This is a great fall recipe that Peter and I both think is yummy and comforting but is also healthy.  I made this dish a couple of times last year, but even though it was the fall season, Hawaii never felt like fall.  I remember a few nights when the tradewinds gusted and felt cool.  We put on a sweatshirts and pretended the weather was changing.  But no more Hawaii warmth for us – this year it has already snowed!

Tucker is already freezing!  It is going to be a long first winter for him

Tucker is already freezing! It is going to be a long first winter for him

So, in the spirit of the changing season, I wanted to share this dish and more to come.  Here are the ingredients you will need for the Butternut Squash Risotto:

Don't forget the onion! I forgot to put it in the picture

Don’t forget the onion! I forgot to put it in the picture

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 (3-lb) butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-in cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Step 1:  Place the broth and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

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Step 2: In the meantime, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the squash cubes adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Stir occasionally until the squash is golden in some spots (about 8-10 minutes).

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Step 3: Stir in the thyme.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth mixture to the skillet.  Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and the broth is evaporated (about 8-10 minutes).  Remove the squash from the heat and set aside.

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Step 4:  Meanwhile, in a heavy pot, cook the onion in 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium heat.  Stir and cook onion until it softens (about 6 minutes).

Step 5:  Add rice to the onion, stir to coat it with oil, and let it toast for 2 minutes.

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Step 6: Stir 1/2 cup of the simmering water-broth mixture into the rice and cook it at a strong simmer, stirring continuously, until the broth is absorbed.  Keep adding 1/2 cup of the broth at a time, stirring continuously, and letting the broth completely absorb until you add more.  Add broth until the rice is creamy-looking (about 20 minutes total).  When you add the broth in small amounts like this, it allows the rice to get perfectly creamy.  It should be the consistency of a thick soup and you may or may not use all of the broth.

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Step 7:  Stir the butter, cheese, and squash into the rice (or if you are like me, add the cheese after you take out your portion!)

Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat Pancakes

Wow its been a while since I have been able to post a recipe!  Actually, since the movers packed up our kitchen back in Hawaii in May until just recently, I have not had any of my cooking stuff.  My kitchen in Colorado is now completely unpacked and everything is in its place.  This has rekindled my desire to get in the kitchen and get creative.
I have been dying to share this recipe for quite some time now, since Peter and I eat these every single weekend!  Even when the kitchen was in disarray, I still made an effort to throw these together (although I was guesstimating measurements because I didn’t have any of my measuring cups or spoons yet!).
Here are the ingredients you will need for these simple Whole Wheat Pancakes:
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1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (uncooked)
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder (make sure its baking powder NOT baking soda!)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (optional…we actually prefer to toss these on top rather than cook them in)
Step 1: Preheat a skillet to 325 degrees F.  We make these on an electric skillet so if you are doing them in a non-stick pan on the stove, heat the pan to medium/ low heat.
Step 2: In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, flax and salt.
Step 3: In separate bowl, mix together almond milk, water, honey and vanilla extract. While mixing, slowly add the blueberries if you want to cook them in.
Step 4: Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet into the dry and mix until smooth. If you need to, add a little extra water so that you can more easily spoon the batter onto the skillet. Interestingly, this is a step we always did in Hawaii, but now that I am in Colorado, it makes them too watery.  So, adjust for your altitude and preference!
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Step 5: Drizzle a little oil onto the skillet (I prefer coconut oil) or use a non stick spray. Pour ~ 1/4 cup of the batter on to the skillet per pancake.

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Step 6: Cook for 1:30 – 2 minutes or until bottom begins to turn golden and then flip. Peter is the best pancake flipper around and he uses the method of
looking at the bubbles in the batter.  Once it is nice and bubbly, flip it over!  Cook the other side for 1 minute.
Top with some fruit and Enjoy!
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Making pudding with chia seeds

Peter and I usually crave something sweet at night after dinner but eating ice cream and cookies is not the best option.  I have had a lot of fun lately trying recipes with different combinations of healthy ingredients to create sweet snacks that are still delicious.  I think it is important to use ingredients that are nutritionally rich so that the snack not only satisfies your craving but also benefits your health and aids in recovery.

The feature ingredient in this pudding recipe is the chia seed.  These seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, are high in fiber, and are full of antioxidants and minerals while also being gluten-free.  You can find more detailed information on chia seeds here.  This recipe is extremely easy to make, it takes less than 5 minutes. It just needs to sit in the refrigerator for about 4 hours before you can eat it.  I found this recipe in the Food and Wine magazine.  Here are the ingredients you will need for this Chia Seed Pudding:

2 1/2 cups almond milk (I like to use vanilla almond milk)

3 tablespoons agave nectar (I have also used brown rice syrup, it just gives a slightly different flavor)

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

 

Step 1: Take out a medium-sized bowl and pour in the almond milk and agave nectar. Whisk to combine.

Step 2: Add the chia seeds and lemon zest. Whisk again until everything is combined.

Step 3: Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  It will thicken until it is the consistency of pudding.

This is delicious by itself or you can throw a little diced fruit on top.  My favorite are sliced strawberries or mango chunks. Enjoy!

Whole-wheat pasta and chicken with roasted garlic

I used the remainder of my leftover roasted chicken to make this pasta dish.  Peter and I like to have at least one carb loaded dish during the week to replenish our energy stores.  This recipe actually lasted for 2 dinners and one lunch so it goes a long way.  It also only takes 20 minutes to make since I already prepared the chicken earlier in the week.  Here are the ingredients you will need for this Whole-Wheat pasta and Chicken with Roasted Garlic dish:

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8 oz package whole-wheat spaghetti

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup roasted garlic (see my post on braised kale for making roasted garlic)

1 3/4 cups chopped parsley

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

juice of 1 lemon

3 cups leftover roast chicken, torn into chunks

1/4 teaspoon salt

grated parmesan cheese

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Once the pasta is cooked, make sure to keep 1/4 cup of the pasta liquid for later.  Drain the pasta.

Step 2: Take out a large skillet and heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, (this time I cheated and bought 1/2 cup of roasted garlic from the olive-bar at whole foods…I didn’t want to spend the time chopping up 1/2 a cup of garlic) pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chicken stirring until the parsley is tender and chicken is heated through.

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Step 3: Add the pasta to the skillet and pour the 1/4 cup pasta liquid over the noodles.  Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

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Sesame chicken and veggie stir fry

This meal takes about 15 minutes to make because you are using some of the leftover roasted chicken.  It is nice to have a few different flavored dishes throughout the week so that you don’t feel like you are eating the same thing every day.  I use sesame seeds and soy sauce to create the asian flavors in this dish.  Here are the ingredients you will need for this Sesame Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry:

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2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon tahini or sesame oil (see my post about my Veggie, Quinoa and Brown Rice Bowl for an explanation of tahini)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like it a little more spicy)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cauliflower head, cut into florets

1 1/2 cups green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 cups leftover roasted chicken

Step 1: Take out a small bowl to make the sauce.  Whisk the soy sauce, honey, tahini (sesame butter), and crushed red pepper together.

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Step 2: Chop up the cauliflower into small florets, trim the green beans, slice up the bell pepper, and tear the roast chicken into small chunks.

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Step 3:  Take out a large skillet and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the ginger to the oil and toast it very lightly.  This will pull out the flavor, but only toast for 30 seconds or it will start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

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Step 4: Add all of the veggies: bell pepper, cauliflower, and green beans.  Cook for about 6 minutes until the veggies just start to get tender.  Keep stirring, making sure to continue scraping the ginger from the bottom of the pan and mixing it in with the veggies.

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Step 5: Stir in the chicken and sesame seeds and keep cooking until the chicken is hot.  Pour the sauce over the veggies and chicken and cook for another 2 minutes making sure the chicken is heated all the way through.  Enjoy!

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Kale, my new best friend


If I can make this kale dish and have Peter ask me to make it again, I think you will enjoy it too!  Kale can be difficult to eat on its own (especially when it is raw) but when you cook it and add a few things to spice it up, I think it is delicious.  Kale is also extremely nutritious so I try to add this into my meals anytime I can.  My mom sent me the picture above, did you know it had so many vitamins?!?! I found inspiration for this Braised Kale recipe at Health.com and this side dish goes well with grilled meat or my roasted chicken recipe.  Here are the simple ingredients you will need:

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1 large bunch of kale

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

grated parmesan cheese

Step 1: Tear the leafy part of the kale away from the stems.  Throw away the stems and then coarsely chop up the leaves and rinse.

Step 2: Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook it, stirring every once in a while, until it turns golden brown and you can start to smell it.  Take the garlic out of the skillet and put it in a bowl off to the side.

golden brown and aromatic

golden brown and aromatic

Step 3: Turn the heat up to medium and add the kale to the hot skillet. Pour the chicken broth over top of the kale, cover the skillet, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.  This helps to steam the kale but don’t let it cook too long or boil down because you will lose all of the nutrients.

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Step 4: Season with the salt and pepper.  Remove the kale from the liquid and then serve with garlic and parmesan cheese on top.  Enjoy!

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Roasted Chicken All Week

When you have a busy week ahead of you, it is nice to have easy but nutritional dinners planned and a few servings of leftovers in the fridge.  I don’t have kids so I realize that my definition of busy may be a lot different, but I do have to balance multiple training sessions throughout the day while still working full-time.  I don’t have time to cook every night and I have found it can be stressful if you don’t plan ahead.

Last week my meal plan for Peter and I revolved around roasted chicken.  It is super easy to make multiple dishes from the leftover chicken.  In this post I will start with the basic Roasted Chicken recipe that I made on Sunday night and then provide links to the other meals we had all week.

The ingredients you will need are very simple:

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6 lbs Bone-in Chicken Breasts (approx. 7-8 Breasts)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lemon, quartered

1 onion, quartered

You can adjust this recipe for how much chicken will feed your family for a week.  Some of you may be thinking that 7 large breasts of chicken is an enormous amount of food for only two people…and it is!  But when you burn as many calories as we do, it goes pretty fast.  Peter ate 2 of them the first night!

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Pull out a roasting pan or large baking dish.

Step 2: Cut up the onion and spread the slices around the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place the chicken breasts on top of the onions.

Step 3: Rub the chicken all over with the salt and pepper.  Squeeze the lemon quarters evenly over all of the pieces and then arrange those lemon peels on top of the chicken.

Step 4: Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes and then increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breasts are 165 degrees (use a meat thermometer).

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Step 5: Remove the chicken from the oven and serve with your choice of side!

For the first night, we had the chicken with braised kale on the side.

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The next two nights we enjoyed the leftover chicken in a sesame chicken and veggie stir fry dish and then we used the rest of the chicken in an easy whole-wheat pasta and chicken with roasted garlic dish.  This is a versatile, easy, throw it in the oven and forget about it kind of meal that even Tucker goes crazy for!