All The Veggies, All the Flavor!

It’s that time of year when the humidity decreases, the air cools and those cozy sweaters start to make their way out of the back of the closet. Fall is on it’s way! I know we still have a couple weeks until we officially declare it fall… but its enough for me to make my first chili of the season!

Chili is one of those meals that instantly warms and comforts the soul.  It brings me back to my childhood when my mom and grandmothers would make pots of chili and vegetable soup around the holidays. The process of making chili makes me especially happy.  It’s an easy one pot meal, packed with flavor and always a crowd pleaser!

I decided to go with a vegetarian chili tonight, and I did not hold back with the veggies! In a saute pan, I mixed diced onion, garlic, and jalapenos with some vegetable oil, a tsp of cumin, a tsp of coriander, a tsp of paprika, and a tsp of chili powder. I stirred all of this together and let the flavors blend with a bit of salt and pepper. Once everything soften and became fragrant, I added them into my large pot with vegetable broth. I turned the heat on and added some more of my fresh ingredients! These ingredients included: black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, diced zucchini, diced orange pepper, diced celery, canned tomatoes, yellow corn, bay leaves, oregano, and some more salt and pepper.  I added a dash more of my spice combination from earlier to further enhance the flavor of the chili (cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder).  I stirred this all together, covered the pot and let all of the ingredients simmer together. I let them work their magic for about an hour (half hour for my husband because he couldn’t wait any longer). At this point, the beans were cooked through and veggies had softened.  The celery still had a nice crunch and the flavors had blended together nicely.

I served my hot vegetable chili with a topping of raw sweet onion and avocado slices. The avocado added a creaminess to the dish and the onions added some nice crunch. This was a home run meal! The best part is… I have leftovers! The chili flavors will enhance even more over night and I can’t wait to taste it!

Enjoy!

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Not Your Average Lettuce Wraps 

Guilt free, delicious eating is right at your fingertips (literally- you’ll be licking them clean), with my shrimp lettuce wraps! I am always looking for unique flavor/texture combinations that marry well together in a dish. I truly enjoy this exploration process and look forward to when a meal just hits the jackpot- like tonight! In addition to finding delicious food combinations, I also have a passion for healthy living and finding food alternatives that taste just as good! Here is a dish that mixes these two passions of mine. 

I started by cutting into my cabbage and gently peeling away the layers that I wanted to use as the base of my lettuce wraps. Next, I cut the fruits and vegetables for the salad or healthy “slaw” that would go into my lettuce cups. This included thinly sliced (julienned) mango, green apple, and red onion, diced orange pepper, jalepeno, cucumber and chopped fresh cilantro. I dressed this in some lemon juice and a drizzle of rice wine vinegar to add that Asian flair I love so much. Subtle Asian flavors will be apparent in my sautéed shrimp, creating harmony within the dish. I added a nice helping of this healthy slaw into my lettuce cups. 
Onto the shrimp! I purchased farm raised, raw, peeled jumbo shrimp (that’s a mouthful- and it’s about to be literally 😉) from my local grocery store. It’s at a great price right now and such a quick protein to cook! Considering that I started creating this dinner at 7:00pm, the time saver is a huge plus!  I tossed this shrimp previously in a spice mixture that included sweet Hungarian paprika, sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, chipolte, rosemary and thyme. I added some sesame oil to my sauté pan and got it nice and hot. I added my shrimp in with a drizzle of soy sauce and cooked them for 3 minutes on each side. 

I added this beautiful and tasty protein element on top of my slaw with some lemon zest, feta cheese and chives. 

This combination of ingredients was extremely fresh and texturally pleasing to the palate. The sweet, soft mango, the crunchy, tart apple, the acidic notes from the lemon and vinegar (which toned down the biter bite from the red onion), the creaminess of the feta cheese and the hint of heat from the jalapeños made for a delicious, balanced dish! Stay tuned for more creations to come!

Shrimp Avocado Cups 

Okay food family, this recipe is to die for and one of my top favorite homemade recipes! I started with prepping all of the parts to the dish. First up, basil pesto! In a blender, I combined 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, juice of one lemon, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of shredded parmesean cheese and salt/pepper to taste. I poured this beautiful combo in a bowl and set it aside. Next, I cut up my veggies (orange pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, green onion, and  jalapeño). I put the peppers, red onion and jalapeño into a sauté pan with some oil and let them soften. Meanwhile, I sliced two avocados in half long ways and took out the pit. Using a spoon I took out most of the avocado (except for the rim) – creating a cup for the rest of my veggies and protein. I made guacamole with the extra avocado and added red onion, salt, pepper and lime juice. I set this aside as well. The peppers and onions were softened and fragrant, so I took this off of the flame and set this aside and started cooking my beautiful jumbo raw shrimp! This shrimp had been tossed previously with some olive oil and chipolte lime dry rub. I added this to a pan with some oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. I let them cook for about 3 minutes per side (or until pink and cooked through). Once cooked, I set these aside to cool. NOW the fun part begins! Time to assemble the avocado cups! Add a bit of your pepper/onion/jalapeño mixture, topped with some pico de gallo, a couple pieces of cut up chipolte-lime shrimp. Add as much pesto and guacamole as your heart desires with a topping of chopped green onion and a squeeze of lime juice. There you have it! One of my very favorites- a healthy, beautiful meal without compromising flavor!

Mad for Mangos

We have a 4 ingredient, “go to” summer salsa that doesn’t need to be dressed up fancy. The flavors just work on their own! The salsa includes mango, red onion, basil and lime juice/zest. You’ve got your sweet mango, acidic lime juice, the bite of the red onion and the fresh basil. No salt and pepper needed 😎

One Pan Fish and Veggies

One pan dishes >> 😍Okay guys, this delicious and colorful meal only took me about 30 minutes to make! That’s my kind of meal- especially when it’s pretty darn tasty 😋 There wasn’t much vegetable prep, so I washed my veggies (a colorful assortment of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini). I tossed them in a square baking pan with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and some freshly torn basil. This went into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes were about to pop. While this cooked, I prepared my white, flakey fish- I chose Green Turbot, which is similar to a halibut. I drizzled both sides with some olive oil and lemon juice, then seasoned it with salt, pepper and fresh garlic. This fish went directly onto my veggies to cook for another 15 minutes. To serve, I laid the fish on a bed of fresh sprouts and added some more basil, chopped green onion, lemon zest, and finishing salt to top it off! Winning meal tonight 🙌🏻

Homemade, Restaurant Quality Food- Whole 30 Style

My husband and I have recently started The Whole 30. For 30 days, the goal is to cut out ALL artificial foods, added sugars, GMOs, MSG, grains, dairy, and yes, alcohol…in hopes to have a better quality of life. They preach that they are not a diet, but a lifestyle. The creator of this plan does not want participants to count calories or even weigh themselves while on this plan. Many people have claimed that by the end of 30 days their usual headaches subside, skin clears, energy levels are more consistent throughout the day, sleep improves, knowledge of day to day foods increases… and that’s only the half of it. 

The first couple of days have been hard, but I must say, this Whole 30 thing ain’t bad if I can make meals like this 🤗😋 We have organic top sirloin steak that was cooked stove top with some olive oil and rubbed with generous salt and pepper. I got the pan nice and hot before cooking the steak 3 minutes on each side to result in a perfect medium rare (more on the rare side 😊) After you take the meat out of the pan, lightly cover it with some foil and let it rest. This part is more important than it seems! If the meat does not have the proper time to rest, it can result in inconsistently cooked meat. Give it some time and let its juices distribute throughout the steak. It’s worth the wait! Moving to the right, we have mushrooms and onions that were cooked down in a pot with some garlic, coconut aminos. Next we have roasted colorful carrots that were simply dressed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked in the oven for 30 min at 400 degrees. For these golden potatoes, I cooked them stove top at high heat until they got nice and crispy! They cooked with some olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and I added garlic for the last two minutes of cooking time. I made sure to toss these often so they could get crispy on all sides. AND lastly, I cooked a Anaheim pepper over the open flame until it blistered and became soft (I’m in love with the smokey, spicy flavor). A bite of steak with that spicy pepper and some mushrooms… just wow. Bon Appetit! 

Hopefully there will be some noticeable change at the end of these 30 days (onto day 3! We got this). If anything, the Whole 30 will be a great learning experience for us. We will most likely introduce foods back in slowly, but hopefully we will become more educated about what’s in our food. This will help us know what is best to eat and what to avoid, allowing us to adapt this information into a realistic lifestyle for us.