Carrot Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts

I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. 

Are you ready for a week of delicious walnut recipes?

Walnuts are a delicious and versatile ingredient that is the perfect complement to other whole foods for nutritious, tasty meals and snacks. I hadn’t cooked much with nuts in the past, so I used my sister’s book, called The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, to get inspired. This book suggests pairings and ideas for creative cooking. I was impressed by the wide range of foods that walnuts pair with, including cauliflower, grapes, chicken, pear, and many others including the main ingredients in this simple salad recipe: apples, carrots, honey, cinnamon, and ginger!

Walnuts taste bittersweet, but the tannic flavor is minimized when you roast them. This also brings out the roasted nuttiness of the walnuts and enhances their crunchy texture, both of which work wonderfully in this light salad.


Carrot Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fresh, sweet, and crunchy summer salad.


Ingredients

1/2 cup walnut halves

1 large green apple

3 medium carrots

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant but not dark. Set aside to cool.
  2. Grate the apple and carrots into a large bowl using a box grater or food processor with grater blade.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, cinnamon, and ginger. Pour over the carrots and apples.
  4.  Chop the walnuts roughly, add to the bowl, and stir everything together. Serve immediately or chill for an hour or two.

I’m not a huge fan of dried fruit, but it would be a fabulous way to add some extra sweetness to this salad. The next time I make it, I may toss in a handful of dried cranberries or raisins. If you try that, let me know if you like it!

 

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad

This spicy pork tenderloin salad is served with seared tomatoes and a creamy harissa yogurt dressing. Enjoy it with a glass of riesling!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad with Harissa Yogurt Dressing

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad with Harissa Yogurt Dressing

  • Servings: 4
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A flavorful entree salad that won't weigh you down on hot summer days! Delicious with a glass of chilled riesling.

Adapted from: cookinglight.com

Ingredients

  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, jarred
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2  garlic cloves
  • 1 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1  (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ thick disks
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place bell pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons juice, sambal oelek, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, coriander, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth. Place half the harissa in a large bowl and set aside. Place the remaining harissa in a microwave safe dish and cook, covered, in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. Combine yogurt, mint, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1 teaspoon cumin in a bowl.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add pork to harissa in the large bowl, turning to coat. Sear tomato slices in the hot pan for 60 seconds each side. Remove from heat.
  5. Place pork on a rack in a pan; brush with remaining harissa from the large bowl. Bake at 425° for 11 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes; cut crosswise into 12 slices. Serve 3 slices over 2 cups of mixed greens with tomato slices, a drizzle of microwaved harissa, and a dollop of yogurt sauce.

This recipe is an adaptation of one of Colby’s favorite meals of all time, North African Pork Tenderloin. He has enjoyed other variations of pork tenderloin that I’ve made, but this remains his top pick.

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad

If you like riesling wine, you’ve gotta try this one! One of my sister’s favorites, Kingfu Girl, is sweet, crisp, and reasonably priced at Trader Joes! It pairs perfectly with the spiciness of the pork tenderloin in this salad.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Low Calorie Cucumber & Elderflower Mojito

I really love summer cocktails, but traditional margaritas, daiquiris, mudslides, and mojitos easily pack over 500 calories, largely from sugar! Make the most of your summer drinking with a refreshing low-calorie concoction like this one. The St. Germain liqueur adds just enough sweetness and floral flavor that you don’t have to rely on any added sugars. Mojitos have always been my favorite cocktail because the mint and lime are such a light and refreshing flavor combo. The addition of cucumber seltzer and elderflower liqueur add another layer of complexity!

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Low Calorie Cucumber & Elderflower Mojito

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A refreshing, light cocktail for summer boozing.

Ingredients

5 fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime, quartered

1.5 oz white rum

0.5 oz elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain

1/2 cup ice

6 oz cucumber Spendrift seltzer

Optional: Sweetener of choice (Stevia, Splenda, raw sugar, etc.)

Directions

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the elderflower liqueur, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with cucumber seltzer water. Stir, taste, and add a bit of sweetener if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.


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PSA: Seltzer water is a low calorie mixer, therefore the alcohol in this cocktail will hit you faster than when you use a sugary mixer! Keep this in mind and be cautious. A small (16 participant) study in 2013 suggested that blood alcohol concentration is raised more from sugar-free cocktails, but drinkers do not notice this effect.

I personally appreciate the fast, happy buzz that comes from a low-cal mojito! You can, too, but be sure not to drink and drive. Have an awesome Memorial Day Weekend!!

Oh yeah! Also be sure to check out the VIDEO version of this recipe. Whaaaaat??!

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Skinny Mini Calzones

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “Small Bites” and I’ve been craving pizza, so here’s a fun twist for you to try! My sister and I used to love snacking on Pizza Rolls and 3D Doritos (remember those??) when we were kids. These  mini calzones are like the adult version of Pizza Rolls. Kids would probably love them too, of course!

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Skinny Mini Calzones

  • Servings: 8 palm-sized calzones
  • Print

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough (homemade or store bought. I’m partial to the Trader Joe’s Herb dough!)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/3 cup diced mushrooms

1/3 cup chopped spinach, frozen

6 ounces light mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 ounces salami, diced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

Flour, for rolling the dough

1 egg white, in a small bowl

1 cup marinara sauce


Directions

  • Set the pizza dough out on the counter to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over high heat. Sauté the onion for about 1 minute, until beginning to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and chopped spinach. Sauté for 1 minute more. Set aside.
  • Make the filling by stirring together the cheese, sautéed veggies, salami, and fresh basil in a bowl.
  • Cut the dough into eight 2-oz pieces. Work with one piece at a time: Make a ball our of the dough piece and set on a lightly floured surface. Press the ball into a disk and roll out into a 6-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Scoop a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of filling onto one half of the circle. Fold it over to form a half-moon shape and press the edges to seal it. Place the calzone on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Crimp the edges with a fork and brush with egg white. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.


Each dough ball should look like this:

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And then you fill it like this:

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This is how they should look before they’re baked:

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Once they’re fresh out of the oven,  you can enjoy these cute little calzones with marinara sauce!

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As always, check out other Recipe ReDux posts below!

Stock a Healthy Kitchen

I’ve put together this guide to help you prepare for healthy eating success!

Are you ready to lose some weight and improve your health? The first thing you need to do is go through your kitchen and purge all the unhealthy foods. Give them away or toss ‘em out. This includes things like cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, crackers, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals, sodas, juices, beer, mac n’ cheese, and other processed foods. You know, the stuff you’re most likely to overeat in a moment of craving, boredom, worry, or exhaustion. Take it from me, if you keep only healthy food in your house, you will eat healthy food at least 70% of the time! There’s research to back me up on that. Furthermore, if you bring snack food into your house, at least 50% of it will be eaten within the first 6 days of bringing it home, even if you bought a Costco-sized package of it. Once you’ve cleared out the junk food, use this guide to re-stock your kitchen with the right foods that will help you improve your body composition and overall health!

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In the Fridge

Skim or 1 percent milk, or fortified soy milk. Almond milk is a good option too, but it’s lower in protein.

Eggs. Whole eggs or liquid egg whites are good option.

Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where you can see and grab it easily.

Hummus. Dip veggies in this chickpea spread.

Plain Greek yogurt. Sweeten with fresh or frozen fruit, Stevia, and vanilla extract.

Cottage Cheese. It’s high in protein and tasty with fruit. If you’re not a fan, try it blended in a smoothie for a shake that tastes more like a cheesecake dessert than a post workout recovery drink.

Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicolored lettuces like mesclun or field greens. Bagged spinach is handy for everything- you can easily add a handful to smoothies, ground meat, eggs, etc.

Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef. Look for under 4g fat and 400 mg sodium and as few ingredients as possible. Typically the meats that you buy from the deli counter taste waaaay better than the pre-packaged kinds.

Tortillas. Use corn or whole wheat flour tortillas, no larger than 8”. An easy meal is a quesadilla made with low fat cheese, shredded chicken, spinach, and salsa… mmm!

Fresh veggies. Keep veggies front and center in the fridge! Buy your own to wash and chop, or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery. Need a tasty veggie dip? Try this: Combine 1 avocado, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. SO GOOD.

Low-fat cheese. Stock reduced-fat block cheese such as 2 percent milk cheese, reduced-fat string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, Babybel, and part-skim shredded cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken. SO handy! Pair a chicken breast or leg with some veggies and beans or whole grains for a quick and easy meal. Use the leftover bits in salads and toss the bones in the slow cooker with a carrot, stalk of celery, half an onion, and a bay leaf to whip up chicken stock. No part goes to waste!

Cold Brew Coffee. Concentrated coffee is handy as a quick pick-me-up pre-workout or as an easy mix-in for protein shakes.

Butter. Make a healthy spreadable butter by combining equal parts butter and olive oil in the blender.

Sriracha Sauce. Ok, am I starting to sound like a hipster now? Take my word for it, this stuff is awesome on everything from breakfast sandwiches to roasted cauliflower!

Club Soda. When you’re tired of drinking plain ol’ water, go for the fizzy stuff! Hint- combine with a shot of vodka or tequila, a few drops of stevia, mint, and fresh lemon or lime juice for a guilt free cocktail ;)

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In the Pantry

Sweetener of choice. Top picks are local honey for mediating allergies, maple syrup for depth of flavor, and stevia or Splenda for the calorie conscious. A word of caution: your goal should be to cut back on all sweeteners overall, even the calorie free ones.

Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, and Avocados. Don’t store these in the fridge, but have them on hand because they work well in lots of different recipes.

Lemons and Limes. Use citrus fruit and fresh mint to jazz up your water. This will make it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day and keep from snacking excessively.

Red Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts olive oil along with some garlic power, salt, and pepper for a quick and easy vinaigrette dressing.

Whole-grain pasta and Quinoa. Both cook in 15 minutes or less.

Canned and Dry Beans. Try black beans for southwestern soups and salads. Lentils are versatile and cook up quickly.

Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavored instant. You can grind oats up in a blender to use in place of breadcrumbs when making meatloaf.

Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.

Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.

Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and fat-free refried beans are rich in protein.

Whole wheat couscous. cooks just as quickly as the regular kind and can be used in cold salads.

Brown rice. A great source of whole grains. Cook up a bunch and keep in the fridge.

Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A.

Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar. Rather than serving up a huge bowl of cereal, measure out ¾ cup into your yogurt or use as part of a trail mix.

Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.

Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.

Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini, diced mushrooms, onions, and spinach.

Dried fruit. ¼ cup counts as a serving of fruit. Choose unsweetened varieties to mix into homemade trail mix. Trader Joe’s carries unsweetened dried fruit.

Canned salmon and light tuna. For salads and sandwiches. Swap an avocado for the mayo to make tuna salad extra healthy and satisfying.

Peanut butter. or other nut butters.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Use unsweetened cocoa in your protein shakes, coffee, or mixed into almond butter with a few drops of liquid stevia (homemade Nutella without all the sugar!).

Whey Protein Isolate. This protein powder, whatever the brand, should pack in 20-25g protein per scoop with <1g fat and sugar. Whey protein isolate is absorbed quickly, so it’s perfect as a post workout supplement.

High Quality Protein Bars. Look for 20g protein with as little sugar and as much fiber as possible. Quest bars pack in 20g protein with 17g fiber and only 1g sugar… hard to beat that! Use these as a snack ONCE per day! Remember to eat real food too ;)

Chia Seeds and Ground Flax. Opt for cold-milled flax for the most omega 3 benefit. Stir this into yogurt, smoothies, and cereals for a boost of fiber and protein. Flax and chia seeds help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Craving dessert? Stir 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into ½ cup of milk with sweetener of your choice and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes and you’ll have a healthy pudding to snack on!

Olive and Coconut Oil. Use these for cooking. Keep some of your olive oil in a spray bottle to mist vegetables for roasting.

Spices. Keep a variety of spices on hand to add flavor to your food without too much salt. Mrs. Dash blends are great.

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In the Freezer

Boneless chicken breasts. Grill a bunch and add to pasta, salads, stir fries, and more throughout the week.

Lean ground beef and bison. Buy 90 percent lean.

Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.

Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.

Ground turkey. Look for 93%  lean and drain after cooking.

Veggie burgers made from soy protein or black beans.

Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies. Freeze your own by peeling and slicing bananas and storing in Ziploc bags.

Do you have anything to add? What foods keep you prepared and in control of your eating?

10 Best Places for Workout Clothes

If you recall my post about getting motivated to exercise, you’ll know that I love to use cute workout clothes as a reward for sticking with an exercise plan. This post is all about my 10 favorite places to score sweet workout gear. I am 5’3″ tall, weigh 130-140 lbs depending on the time of year, and am bottom heavy. My calves, thighs, and butt are definitely where I carry my weight. I’m smaller chested, but have arms that are proportional to my chunkier legs.

IMG_5879Whether this is your body type or not, I hope you will find this list helpful:

1. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Nordstrom Rack ($)
Best for lots of brand names at a discount! I tend to find great running tights and capris for $20 and fun tanks for $10-$15 at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I seriously need to limit how often I shop at these stores because I always find tons of cute stuff at really reasonable prices. These are great places to buy socks, too! The only thing I haven’t had luck with are the shorts.

2. Target ($-$$)
Another reason to love target! I’ve purchased a couple of the Champion brand tank tops and my favorite long sleeve running pullover here. You can usually find nice things on the clearance rack, but full price can be justified if you spot something you really love. It still won’t break the bank. I bought some sports bras here awhile ago, but they stretched out and looked unflattering after a short time. I wasn’t crazy about the fit of the shorts or capris either.

3. Forever 21 ($)
I just recently discovered that F21 has activewear! I scored a cute highlighter yellow sports bra for $9. I’m willing to bet it won’t hold up very long, but their workout gear is a good option if you like to shop for stylish new pieces fairly often.

4. Victoria’s Secret ($$)
I’ve only bought workout clothes here during their semi-annual sale to keep cost down. I really like the PINK brand shorts; they have a nice wide waistband, fun colors, and flattering fit. They’re only $15 if you find a pair on sale! I haven’t tried on their sports bras, but a friend tells me they make your cleavage look fantastic. Makes sense since they specialize in lingerie, right?

5. Fabletics ($-$$)
Generally I would say you should definitely shop for workout clothes in person, not online. You can’t be sure that something will fit well until you try it on and it can be a pain in the rear to return clothing online. When I saw that Fabletics was offering a whole outfit for $29, I made an exception and signed up for the introductory offer. I stuck with Fabletics for two months. My first outfit consisted of a V-neck, awesome sports bra, and AMAZING capris. The next month I got a tank top with built in bra and the same fabulous capris in a different color. With Fabletics, you pay $59 per month and pick out a new outfit each time. If you don’t like it, you send it back and pick another. After two months, it didn’t seem worth it to me anymore because I wasn’t loving everything I ordered. Cancelling was a breeze, though. I think you should at least give the intro month a try!

6. Old Navy and The Gap ($-$$)
Old Navy is a bit less expensive, but selections are hit or miss. I have a couple of really cute running jackets that have lasted me a few seasons from there. Stuff at the Gap looks adorable, but I haven’t bought anything yet because it’s a little pricey and doesn’t suit my shape very well.

7. Nike Outlet ($-$$)
I love Nike sports bras. They’re cute and last forever! I sometimes find them at Sports Authority or Dick’s in the clearance section. I used to love the shorts, but now I realize that they look kindof puffy on the front. Nike tanks and pants are flattering, but not my favorite either.

8. Lorna Jane ($$$$)
I probably would have never shopped here, but Colby surprised me with a gift card! Let’s just say that $100 won’t even buy you two sports bras… I tried on at least a couple dozen things in the store and was only thrilled with a few unique pieces. The bright colors are stunning and I like that the sports bras have generous, removable padding that makes me look like I’ve had plastic surgery. For the price, I’m surprised that Lorna Jane clothing requires such heavy maintenance. The tags state that clothing must be soaked in salt water, then cold washed in a garment bag, then line dried and not allowed to lay wet. Yeah right, like I’m ever going to do all that! The return policy is ridiculous too. You aren’t allowed to return anything because of “changed your mind”, and exchanges are only allowed within 21 days if all tags are still attached and clothing has not been worn. That’s just too much of a gamble… Worth it only if you want your boobs to look super hot.

9. Lululemon ($$$)
This is the ultimate place to get activewear! It’s pricey, but not as expensive as Lorna Jane. The sports bras last and last and last (here’s my fav). The fabric is odor resistant. I’ve had two sports bras from Lulu for the past four years and they still fit great and look new. I don’t do anything special to wash my Lulu clothing. I just machine wash it with everything else and even throw most things in the dryer. I am in love with the running shorts (my favorite here) from Lulu and their bras. Tanks are great, too! I could just buy everything… Their bread and butter are the running tights and capris, but I don’t own a pair of those yet. I have to give spending $90 on workout pants some serious thought, especially since my $20 pants from Marshall’s have held up great and are comfortable to exercise in!

10. Mika Yoga ($$)
This is the place to buy hot yoga gear! Specifically, this is the place to buy booty shorts!! I love the fold-over shorts. They are short, but don’t roll up your butt or thighs and the waistband stays put without digging in. Even Lulu’s booty shorts can’t compete with these! BTW, these look promising, too. Some of the colors are on sale right now!

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Plan for a Cooking Demo in 10 Steps!

Have you considered doing a cooking demo? Don’t feel overwhelmed! Cooking demonstrations may seem daunting, but they’re a great way to show clients how to cook a healthy meal. Here is a step by step guide to planning your first cooking demo.

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1. Find out how many people you’re cooking for.

It’s important to know how many people you’ll be making samples for and what kind of space you’ll be working in so you can plan accordingly. I recommend an audience of no more than 20 unless you have a professional show kitchen setup available to you.

2. Find out what kind of space you’ll be working in.

It’s also critical to be aware of the space you’ll be working in. Will everyone be able to see what you’re doing? Is the demo in a kitchen, or better yet, a demo kitchen with overhead mirrors?

3. Find out what equipment will be available to you.

Find out if you will have access to a refrigerator, sink (very important!), countertop or table, oven, stove, microwave, blender, etc. Based on the equipment available to you, you can plan the recipes you want to demonstrate.

4. Find out what additional equipment you’ll be able to bring in.

Depending on the location of your demo, you might be able to bring in some of your own cooking equipment. It’s nice to have some portable equipment available to you if you plan on doing cooking demonstrations on a regular basis. I have a blender, slow cooker, food processor, toaster oven, rice cooker, and induction cooktop with pots and pans that all come in handy depending on the type of demonstration I’m doing.

5. Find out what your audience wants to learn.

It’s good to know what your audience is interested in learning. Are they interested in practicing basic knife skills? Are they intimidated by the idea of healthy cooking? Do they want to see some quick breakfast meals prepped in real time? The possibilities abound, but it’s very helpful to choose recipes based on what your class will find most beneficial.

6. Find out how much time you’ll have.

Clearly, time will be a huge factor in the recipes you choose to demonstrate. I recommend having 30-60 minutes available for the class.

7. Find out who will be responsible for purchasing food, paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware that you’ll need. Set a fee for the class and budget for the ingredients.

You don’t want to leave any of the details for after the demo. It’s important to find out what you’ll be reimbursed for and who will be doing the shopping. I strongly recommend that you are the one responsible for doing to grocery shopping and asked to be reimbursed after. There’s nothing worse than showing up on the day of your cooking demo to find that some ingredients are missing or incorrect! Base your fee on the amount of time you will dedicate to planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Don’t sell yourself short by only charging what you would for an hour of your time. There’s a lot of work outside of the demo itself!

8. Figure out which recipe(s) you want to make.

Use answers to the previous questions to direct the recipes you will demonstrate for your class. Choose recipes that use a limited number of ingredients and that you are confident you can make well. It’s very important to practice ahead of time to make sure they taste good and that you can prepare them in the amount of time you have for the class. For an hour long class, you can probably plan to make 3 different items start to finish.

9. Practice ahead of time!

To finalize your recipes, practice making them at home and make adjustments as needed. Time yourself and consider what you will talk about as you go through each step of the process. It’s nice to have some talking points about what you’re doing and why you’re using the ingredients you chose. Is there a special nutritional benefit? Is there a trick to prepping the item you’re making? How do you know it’s ready? Practice cooking and talking at the same time.

10. Make a checklist of EVERYTHING you will need to bring so you don’t forget anything!

Don’t forget your ingredients in a cooler, knives, dish towels, cutting boards, measuring cups & spoons, spices, cooking oil, and any other knick-knacks you might forget in the rush of cooking demo day.

10. Depending on time restrictions and audience size, make samples ahead of time. 

The morning of or night before your class, you may need to prepare all your samples or do some prep work to make good use of your time in the class. For example, I’ve done a 15 minute cooking demo showing students how to make an easy stir fry. Since rice takes longer than that to cook, I set the rice cooker ahead of time so the only things I needed to make during the class were the protein (scrambled egg) and sautéed vegetables (broccoli and tomato).

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I’m doing a couple of cooking demos this week. I used to get very nervous about them, but now that I’ve had some practice and the process is more streamlined, the classes are something I look forward to immensely! I’d love to host a hands-on cooking workshop and/or present a video recording of meal preparation. Hopefully those will be things you can look forward to seeing from Karolina’s Kitchen in the near future!

 

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Do you pack a lunch to work or school? It saves me a lot of money to pack food for myself and Colby each morning. My typical go-to packed snacks are:

-Asian salad: shredded cabbage, spinach, grated carrots, wonton crisps, rotisserie chicken, and sesame soy ginger dressing

-Greek yogurt parfait: plain nonfat Greek yogurt, stevia, frozen mixed berries, and granola cereal

(Actually, that’s been about it lately!)

I love this month’s Recipe ReDux theme because it got me thinking of ways I can branch out and try some new packed lunch ideas. I’m lucky to have a fridge and microwave at work, so almost any meal works for me. If you don’t have that luxury, this meal tastes great chilled! You can pack the seasoned turkey filling in a plastic container, lettuce in a zip top bag, and pack it all in a lunchbox with an ice pack!

I tried making a shortcut tuna fish version of this. Let’s just say that recipe is still a work in progress ;) This version is good to go! I’m happy with the addition of chopped spinach and grated carrots. You get some extra veggies and flavor that way!

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, broken up a bit

1/2 cup grated carrots

1 can water chestnuts, drained and diced

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (if you choose one with more than 300 mg sodium per serving, skip the garlic salt)

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Sriracha sauce (optional)

head of butter lettuce

Preparation: 

  1. Cook the ground chicken (or turkey) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the chunks with a spatula and stirring frequently until no longer pink. This should take about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped spinach, grated carrots, and diced water chestnuts. Continue to stir and heat until everything is hot and bubbling, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining seasonings (hoisin sauce through green onion), and continue to stir to combine the flavors for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Scoop into leaves of butter lettuce and drizzle with sriracha sauce if you like it spicier!


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I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen to develop more recipes. Colby has pointed out that the dinners I’ve been making have been “weak” lately. It’s true! We’ve been dining on easy meals, like quesadillas, quick pastas, smoothies, and protein shakes. Challenge accepted- I will make more fast and easy recipes that are a little more imaginative. Can’t wait to share them with you all too :)

Check out more lunch ideas in this month’s Recipe ReDux linkup below!

Breakfast Pizza

There’s a restaurant in Las Vegas that serves a delicious breakfast pizza on the weekends. If you’re in town, I highly recommend checking out Honey Salt for a great mimosa brunch on the patio. Even if you aren’t a Vegas local, you can recreate Elizabeth Blau’s tasty breakfast pizza at home with this simplified replica I came up with. Did you know you can buy raw pizza dough at most pizzerias for just a few bucks? This is great news for making pizza at home easily! Just call your favorite pizza shop and ask. I got the dough for this recipe from Trader Joe’s. They have a great wheat dough ball that’s only $1.19.

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Ingredients:

(serves 4)

1 lb dough ball of your favorite pizza dough (preferably whole wheat!)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Splash of milk (about 2 tablespoons)

6 oz reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

8 large eggs

1 tablespoon butter

Salt & Pepper

Grated parmesan, parsley, and/or hot sauce for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  2. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and shape each portion into an individual pizza crust. Place all four on a large baking sheet or two smaller baking sheets that will fit side-by-side in the oven.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the spinach for about 2 minutes until hot and add a splash of milk. Continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
  4. Extend the spinach mixture evenly among the four pizza crusts, spreading it as close to the edges as you can.
  5. Top each pizza with about 1.5 oz of shredded cheese. Bake for 12 minutes or until the cheese is becoming golden and bubbly.
  6. While the pizzas are baking, whisk the eggs vigorously in a medium mixing bowl. Scramble slowly in a medium nonstick skillet coated with melted butter over low-medium heat. Scramble until nearly finished, but not fully cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top each pizza with an equal portion of the eggs and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes more, or until the eggs are fully set.
  8. Serve with your favorite garnish and a side of fruit. I topped my pizza with freshly grated parmesan, parsley, and sriracha sauce. Enjoy!

I was nervous about the timing of baking the crust, adding the cheese, and knowing when to incorporate the scrambled eggs, but it ended up being a very intuitive process. The basic idea is that you’re baking a pizza 90% of the way through and adding eggs that are 90% finished, then finishing the last 10% of the cooking process with all ingredients combined. I think you’ll like it!

Here’s a close up of the eggs and cheese, pre-hot sauce.

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Make it a little messy for a nice plated look:

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Nutrition information, per individual pizza without garnish:

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