This one’s super-simple to prepare, although it does require a few extra pre-cooking steps. First, head to Reading Terminal Market, or anywhere else that sells free range, locally grown chicken parts ( thighs, breasts, legs). The ones that we used in this recipe were only $2/lb at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
(NOTE: An in depth look into all of those buzzwords you here these days, like “free range”, “grassfed”, will be in an upcoming post)
Marinate a bunch of chicken overnight in a plastic bag in the fridge with Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing if you’re strapped for time, or make your own dressing with 1-2 T each of Italian spices (oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper) with 2/3 cup of olive oil and a few teaspoons of vinegar ( white or balsamic. keep adding and testing, until you get the amount you like). Save the leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. The Newman’s Own version is one of the best store-bought options, but it does include some non-foods in there.
Where was I? Oh yeah, so marinate that overnight. The next night, remove from the fridge and fire up the grill. While the grill is heating up….
Rinse and chop up some baby spinach and/or arugula and pat dry. Chop up a bunch of salad toppings (red onion, red peppers, baby bella mushrooms, broccoli, cucumber, or whatever you want!). Combine the greens with the toppings, and add some sundried tomatoes on top, or a little of that Italian dressing that you made the other day ( no, not the stuff that’s at the bottom of the chicken bag). Toss and set aside.
Put the chicken on the grill on a low temperature. Continually check it and flip it. Some good tips are not to let it catch on fire, and to cook it all the way through . For more grilling tips that are specific to the type of grill you have, use Google.
During the first 5 minutes of the chicken on the grill, turn on the oven to 375. ( or, you can skip this part and just use the grill for double duty, if there is room on it).
Slice a purple Italian eggplant into rounds, season with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Lay the pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 min, flip the pieces, then cook for another 15 minutes or so. OR, put them on the grill with the chicken, and flip occasionally. Cook until the edges start to get a little crispy and the middle is really soft.
While the eggplant is cooking, continue to flip the chicken every 5 minutes. The chicken should be done cooking after about 20-25 minutes on the grill. The skin should be crispy and golden brown.
Start with the salad, continue to check on the eggplant in the oven, and when it’s done, enjoy the meal!Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Oil, Vegetables | Leave a comment August 19, 2010
If you’re a beginner to intermediate level cook, you’ve probably found out by now that there are certain regional dishes that are best left up to the experts. Sure, there are a handful of international standards that are easy to replicate, or to add your personal touch to and call your own – a great meat sauce, perfectly seasoned taco meat, grilled lamb, to name a few. There are other sauces, marinades, cooking techniques, and complete dishes that will remain as foreign to most as the land from which they hail. Many of these said dishes come from the East, and contain specific spices, oils, and cooking methods that aren’t easily procured here in the US, or are to intimidating to even try in one’s own kitchen. Try as we might to replicate the aroma, consistency or taste of Asian and Indian dishes, they tend to turn out ‘good’, but a little ‘off’ in one way or another.
It’s for these dishes that we turn to prepared sauces or spice blends to help us capture the true essence of international cuisine. We’ve recently discovered Patak’s Original sauces and have had great success with every type that we’ve tried! Not only are they delicious and sooo easy to make, they also don’t contain artificial colors or flavors, and little to none of the unpronounceable chemicals that often accompany many conventional jarred or canned sauces. While they are a departure from our normal mantra of ‘only eat real, whole foods’, they are a close second choice.
The preparation and cooking is so simple.
1. Choose a sauce that you think you’ll like. Take a look at the ingredients, and pick up a few different types, if you are undecided.
3. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, put the sauce and the chicken into a pot with a lid. Let it heat up on high for about 5 minutes, then lower to simmer for an additional 20-25 minutes.
4. For a complete meal, serve with some vegetables. Pictured here is some kale that we chopped, tossed in olive oil and sauteed in a pan with some diced red peppers, as well as some parsnips that we boiled while the chicken was cooking, and seasoned with pepper.
These delicious sauces can help you to savor the flavors of Indian cooking without venturing too far from our dietary recommendations, and without spending $$$ on a meal prepared at a restaurant. Try one this week!Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Curry, Vegetables | Leave a comment August 6, 2010
Chicken is a great source of protein, it’s mild enough for picky eaters, it’s easy to tell when it’s done, and there are a ton of recipes for it. The problem with chicken, though, is that it’s pretty boring and it often dries out if you saute or bake it.
Thankfully, I found a great new recipe for chicken that’s flavorful, juicy, and looks like a leaping frog! I first heard about the recipe when I heard an interview on NPR radio with Maricel Presilla, a food historian ( best job EVER?), who discovered the recipe in Argentina. The recipe is listed here at Gourmet.com. Since the recipe isn’t one of our originals, I refrained from posting it here, but I did include a helpful tutorial about preparing the chicken for the grill ( also from Gourmet.com) , and some photos from our experience.
“(1) With the drumsticks of the chicken facing you, cut between the body and one drumstick, leaving the drumstick attached. (2) Widen the area around the thigh joint and bend the leg back until it pops out of joint but still remains attached. It’s not difficult to do; it’s actually a matter of feel. You’ll see, the next drumstick will go much faster. (3) Exchange your knife for kitchen or poultry shears. Lifting up the breast, cut through the ribs all the way to the shoulder joint, first on one side, then on the other. Now the bird is essentially in two pieces that are hinged at the shoulders. Turning over the chicken so that it is skin side up, open it so that it’s splayed out on the work surface. (4) With the heel of one hand, press down hard on the breastbone to crack and flatten it. (5) Stand back and admire your work.”
If you have any questions, or if there is something that you don’t understand from the recipe listed on Gourmet.com, post them below! If you make this recipe, post your thoughts!Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Oil, Vegetables | Leave a comment July 16, 2010
This Just In: Parsnips are soooooo good! If you haven’t cooked them before, please try them in this recipe!
Chicken with mushrooms and roasted eggplant with a side of parsnip fries
Turn the oven onto 325 degrees and put one medium and one large pot of water on the stove to boil.
Cut 3 chicken breasts into 2 or 3 pieces each and drop them into the larger pot of water.
Slice two baby eggplants lengthwise into thin pieces, place them on a baking sheet and cover in 2T olive oil (not enough to saturate each piece, but try to get every piece at least somewhat coated)
Cut up 3 medium parsnips into chunks put them into the medium pot of boiling water.
Flip the eggplant slices after 8-9 minutes in the oven.
Slice up 1/4 of a red onion into thin strips and cut up about 6-8 baby portobello or crimini mushrooms into slices. Place both into a large saute pan with olive oil on low-medium heat.
Drain the water from the two pots on the stove after about 15 minutes, or when the center of each piece is white ( slightly pink in the very center is okay, just as long as it’s not fleshy). Set aside and let cool.
Remove the eggplant from the oven. The pieces should be dark, but not burnt, and should look pretty dry.
Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, chop the parsnips into rounds, and cut the eggplant pieces in half.
Put the parsnips in a saute pan with 2T olive oil on medium heat and shake back and forth to coat all of the pieces. Flip the pieces over often ( just flip your wrist a little to get the pieces to ‘jump’ in the air.
Make a quick dressing for chicken dish – combine 2T olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some stone ground mustard and some ground pepper. Mix those ingredients together and pour on the chicken and other vegetables.
Serve and EAT!Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Vegetables | 2 Comments June 28, 2010
So…we’re your personal trainers. You pay us to make you sweat a lot, lift heavy things, and push your body really hard. What you DON’T pay us for is our advice and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym. That part we give away for free. ( lucky you!)
Why do we do this? Why don’t we just work you hard and send you home? You sweat a lot while you were here, so that must mean you are getting healthier, right? Kind of. Just about everyone who does CrossFit notices a positive body composition change and an increase in aerobic capacity and strength within the first few months, which is great, but it’s not everything. By only concentrating on what you do in the gym, you’re only reaping some of the benefits of the whole experience.
When you pay close attention to what you are putting into your body, and how your body reacts when that happens, you will be able to tweak your diet to ensure that you will have full nights of sleep, energy all day, and make significant progress in the gym. After all, food is a drug for your body. Food can only hurt or heal your body. And why would you want to hurt your body after you’ve spent your time and money to whip it into shape?
Here are a few guidelines for choosing foods that will help you Feel Good, Look Good, Perform Better and Live Long.
1. Only eat real foods. If you can pick it from the ground or a tree or hunt and cook it, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s a real food. Examples of real foods are vegetables, herbs, beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil and coconut oil. Edibles that seem like real foods but are NOT are things that require processing before eating, such as grains and legumes (peanuts, beans and things made from beans such as tofu). Also, anything that contains a nutrition label or a list of ingredients isn’t a real food. For example, frozen dinners and pre-made dips and sauces might be made from real foods, but probably also contains some nasty chemicals, fillers and sugars – in which case, you’re better off just making that food at home. Also fruit, nuts and seeds are real foods, but don’t constitute a well-rounded meal. Instead, consider these your real food snacks.
2. If you eat meat, make sure it’s Grassfed and raised on a small farm. Small farms that let their cows and chicken roam free and eat what they are supposed to eat ( grass, seeds, etc) produce high quality meats that you can feel good about eating. Plus, if you are choosing not to eat grains, you are shortchanging yourself by choosing meat from factory farms, where the cows are fed grains (ie: you’re just eating grains that have been processed through a cow. yucky.)
3. End your love affair with sugar. We’re talking all added sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, etc. All sugars, even the kinds made from plants, are highly addictive and are out to hurt, not help, your body. Your doctor would never recommend increasing your sugar levels to increase your health. So why do we eat them? Ingesting sugars will raise your blood sugar levels, causing an insulin spike, which signals the body to store away the sugar in your fat cells, rather than using it as energy. The only sugars you should be eating come from fruits, and we recommend to only eat a single serving of fruit per day.
4. No Grains. Ever. At all. We learned from #1 that grains aren’t included in the “real foods” category, but it bears repeating because it’s simple to forget some of the foods that contain grains, such as all breads, cereals, crackers, chips, sandwiches, and anything that contains flour, breading, or the words ‘whole grain’.
Gluten is a protein found in grains that causes some really nasty side effects upon consumption. These sharp little proteins don’t get broken down completely upon digestion, and cause small tears in the lining of the small intestines. This allows nutrients from your intestines to float out into your bloodstream. When this happens, your body doesn’t absorb the nutrients of the food you just ate, and your body recognizes the free floating food particles as foreign bodies, inflammation occurs, and your body’s autoimmune response kicks in to help bring things back down to a normal state. Therefore, people who are sensitive to gluten, and even those of us who don’t notice much of a difference either way, are constantly engaging in an internal battle to return your body back to it’s normal state.
Plainly put, our bodies aren’t equipped to digest gluten. More on this here from Whole9, if you’re interested.
5. Beware of dairy. Dairy contains a protein called casein, that acts a lot like gluten and does some pretty bad things to your body. Also, milk contains sugar, which we know is bad for the body. The one exception to this is breast milk, which babies thrive on. Heavy cream and butter from pasture raised cows ( try Kerrygold) contain milk fat, but none of the proteins or sugars that are found in milk, so they are OK in our book, too.
6. Drink Water. And only water. And a lot of it. It’s the only beverage that will truly quench your thirst without giving you any extra calories or weird chemicals. It should go without saying that all sodas and juices are out, but sneaky advertising has made many people falsely assume that diet sodas and iced teas are fine, natural, or ‘good for you’. They aren’t. Just stick with water and you’ll start to see differences right away. If you’re attached to the fizz of sodas, try sparkling water. And if you love the sweetness of juices or sweetened iced teas, then squeeze a lemon, lime, watermelon or orange into your water. (Coffee and tea, are also OK in our book. Just don’t overdo it on the caffeine!)
7. Go food shopping often and cook your food every day. Try a new vegetable each week and find a recipe online for how to cook it. Use a slow cooker for meats (they are designed for people who can’t cook or people with limited time). Experiment with new recipes and how to cook and eat meals only using real foods. We have a lot more on the topic of cooking, but for now, we’ll just say -DO IT. It’s surprisingly easy and delicious!
If you’ve gotten this far in the post, you’re might be freaking out a little right now. Maybe you have a ton of questions, of you’re wondering why we recommend you eat this way, you don’t think this applies to you, or you think it will be impossible to stick to. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to make the big switch over to this style of eating all in one step.
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting “Baby Steps” to help you through the transition from what you’re eating now, to what your body actually wants. We’ll explore unhealthy relationships with food, and explain the thinking behind this way of eating. Finally, we’ll discuss ailments (everything from acne to bloating) and how they can be remedied by eating the right foods.
Now that’s you’ve seen our general diet suggestions, take a moment to read everything over again, absorb the information, and formulate your questions. Post them to the Comments, or email Alycia@crossfitaspire.com for some one-on-one Q&A.Posted in Nutrition Articles | Tagged Chicken, Fruit, Meat, Nutrition, Nuts, Oil, Seafood, Seeds, Vegetables | 9 Comments June 23, 2010
Meat and veggies = good for you.
Grains and legumes = bad for you.
More on that in another post.
A diet of only meats, vegetables, good fats, some fruit and some nuts is ideal. And that’s all that we eat, for the most part. However, every once in a while, the memory of a great homemade pasta dish, or a slice of doughy pizza comes floating into our heads. Do we give in, and indulge? Every once in a while. Do we knock it out of our heads and continue making a delicious meat and vegetable-based meal? Almost always. Or do we find a way to satiate that craving without compromising our healthy diet? Yes!
PASTA: You can twirl it on your fork, slurp it up off the plate, serve it with sauce, veggies or meats.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH: You can twirl it on your fork, slurp it up off the plate, serve it with sauce, veggies or meats.
Hmm…. I think we’re onto something. Here’s a healthy way to enjoy your favorite pasta dish without feeling bloated, tired or crappy afterward.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half ( use a sharp knife, a non-slip surface like a towel, and be very careful and slow) and scoop out all of the seeds and the stringy stuff in the middle. Cook one of two ways:
OVEN: Place both sides down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45min – 1 hour, or until the outside softens and the inside is all a darker shade of yellow and is more translucent than before cooking.
MICROWAVE: Poke some holes in the skin of the squash. Cook each side separately, face down on a plate in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes each ( check on it halfway through).
While that is cooking, cut up chicken breasts and boneless thighs into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Chop up some broccoli, red onion and white mushrooms and toss into the pan with the chicken.Stir and add sun-dried tomatoes from the jar, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.
When the squash is cooked, turn the halves over and let the insides cool a little. Then use a fork to scrape along the sides to get spaghetti-like strands of the squash.
Serve the squash with the veggies ontop, and a side of avocado, if you have it handy.
Buon Appetito!Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Vegetables | Leave a comment June 16, 2010
When I’m home alone and cooking for a party of one, my desire to cook a spectacular meal (and therefore produce a massive amount of dirty dishes) is usually non-existent. And some nights, my desire to cook ANYTHING, let alone a grand feast, is barely there either.
What’s a girl to do?! Fast food? Gross. Take Out? Takes too long, and requires driving. Order In? Can’t wait that long. Hungry now! Eat out? Too expensive. Plus, all of these options aren’t ideal because I don’t know how the food was prepared, and I can’t account for the quality of ingredients.
And then it dawns on me…not every meal has to be the result of creative culinary genius. Sometimes, just making an old standby is a great way to get dinner made quickly, and ensure that you continue to treat your body with some respect.
10 minute chicken and veggies is my old standby. It’s so easy, it’s barely considered a ‘recipe’. Don’t forget to triple or quadruple the ingredients to make sure that you have leftovers for lunches during the week.
Slice 2 chicken breasts lengthwise into strips and place in a pan with a little bit of water ( about a cup) and cover.
While that’s cooking, rinse and chop up some broccoli, squash (cut into rounds), white onion, and red peppers ( cut into strips).
Turn the pieces of chicken, and drain the water when the chicken is white on both sides.
After the water is drained, add a liberal amount of olive oil, the chopped veggies, black pepper, garlic powder and any other seasonings that you like. Cover again and cook until the chicken is white all the way through, and the veggies are softened, but still a little crisp.
Ten minutes from when you started, you’ll be sitting down to relax with a simple, yet delicious dinner that was quicker, cheaper, easier and healthier than any other option.
Go ahead, pat yourself on the back for making a good dinner decision.Posted in Recipes | Tagged Chicken, Vegetables | Leave a comment