Hi2mommy's Blog

Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Hi! I’m back, still committed and excited as ever to continue my quest to cook/eat through David Grotto’s “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods.” Yeah, I know – the original 1-year deadline has come and gone. I should be flogging myself, but instead I choose to continue, out of the sheer joy of discovering great new foods, increasing energy, decreasing bloat and sharing cool recipes and stuff with the 10-15 TRUE FRIENDS who will read this.

Almost everyone I know complains that life is moving too fast. Work, family, travel, activities – where in this whirlwind do we find time to plan and consume fresh, optimal-life meals or even snacks? One particularly expeditious route is to jam a bunch of healthy ingredients into a blender, hit puree and drink the goodness. Perhaps my favorite recipe in “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life,” is the Whey Protein Smoothie from Dave’s three beautiful (and now nearly grown) daughters (p. 351). It’s a great bet for kids who are either finicky or pressed for time, before school or between sports practices.

INGREDIENTS:

1 t vanilla extract

8 oz. nonfat milk (soy, rice, almond, oat)

1 packet frozen Acai pulp

1/2 c. frozen mango or mixed tropical fruit

1 scoop non-denatured whey protein*

2T agave nectar

Blend, garnish with fruit chunks and SLAM. So. yummy.

*Full disclosure: I have no idea if my whey protein is denatured. It’s the Whole Foods 365 brand (vanilla), and I DO know that it does not taste like Play-Doh, unlike some others I’ve tried.

Another wonderful find in this category came courtesy of my aunt, Molly Hawley (incredible portrait artist, in case you feel like being immortalized in vibrant color), on a recent visit to her home in Vermont – a place with health and soul-boosting properties of its own. While Uncle Rick was the head chef (and what a chef!), Aunt Molly treated us every morning to one of her savory smoothies, also labelled “green drinks.” Salad in a glass is not your typical breakfast fare, but these raw concoctions are refreshing, cleansing and delish.

You might want to start with a basic recipe like this one, and then experiment, based on your taste and vitamin needs (I add a handful of baby carrots and, sometimes, red bell pepper). I use a food processor instead of a blender  because mine’s easier to clean, but the results are chunkier. Convenience. Texture. Do what you gotta.

1/2 avocado

1 small tomato (or a handful of grape tomatoes)

Organic baby spinach (2-3 good handfuls or enough to pack the food processor bowl)

Sprinkling of fresh cilantro and/or basil leaves

1 c water (add more for a lighter texture, flavor)

I’m sure it’s imaginary, but I actually feel my skin glowing after I drink one of these  (in a healthy, non-alien way).

Mrs. Darlene Parker, an incredible baby sitter that I’m happy to recommend (available through College Nannies and Tutors in Glenview, IL), turned me on to this one:

Pineapple (two rings, cut into small wedges)

Cucumber (1/3 of a large or 1/2 of a medium-sized cucumber)

Organic baby spinach (again, enough to fill the FP bowl)

Somewhere, I think there’s a cocktail version of this with vodka and champagne, but I may have dreamed that.

You’d be hard pressed, I think, to come up with another way to prepare 3-5 servings of fresh raw fruits and vegetables in 10-15 minutes (including clean up), with such a tasty result. It almost makes you wish that all meal prep could be this easy. Why not?  Just cram and blend some pork chops, noodles, green beans, applesauce et. al. into a tasty, hearty smush.

Yeah…but don’t.

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OK, SO…

I am counting on the belief that the 12 or so loyal friends and cousins who read this blog knew with absolute certainty that, although I disappeared for 7 months after committing to doing a Julie and Julia
through my friend David Grotto’s “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods,” I would return to honor my commitment.

Here’s the thing:

– Two weeks after my last entry, The Optimal Life Romantic Train Picnic (for VALENTINE’S DAY, thank you very much), I started a new job (a job at Red Hat, a job that I LOVE) that proceeded to kick my butt for six months. I have finally reached a point of sufficient clarity and control that I feel comfortable picking up extracurriculars.

– Have to confess – perusing a copy of the book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, I had a bit of a panic that, in identifying this project with that book, I had set an unrealistic expectation. In the 5 months that remain of this project, there will be few, if any, personal epiphanies, and there will almost definitely not be anything worthy of a film starring Meryl Streep. On the upside, I will probably not say “fuck” as much. We’ll see.

– Let’s face it – I still get off on the adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last minute. SOME things – I’m never late to the airport anymore, we do our taxes a month before the deadline – just give me this.

So, without further ado…

OMG, we need new things to do with chicken! Are you with me???? AND someone needs to force the FDA to add “tasteless” to the “boneless, skinless” chicken breast label.

The answer for our family, lo these past seven months, has been Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums* And Garlic in “101 Optimal Life Foods” (p. 323). It’s fantastically tasty and so easy, but presents like a gourmet entree (or, as my kids say, with little wrinkled noses, “DINING ROOM FOOD”).

Dave has passed along his publisher’s permission to share this great recipe with you in its entirety (occasional individual recipes are OK, as long as we’re not giving away a whole book  – you understand). This will be a slightly “mommified” version, offering modifications for tighter schedules and less expertly appointed kitchens (do you own a pestle? I don’t  – haven’t used one since college botany lab).

Coming clean on the health front, this recipe does contain more fat than a simple roasted chicken breast (11g as compared to 3g for a 4ish oz. portion), and slightly more saturated fat (3g as opposed to 1g). The protein level (29g) is comparable. As always, free-range, organic chicken will be lower in fat, free of chemical crap and, best of all – TASTE LIKE CHICKEN!

Here goes:

Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums* and Garlic

Ingredients (with “mommifications”):

8 pitted dried plums (or more to taste – I always use more)
8 cloves garlic, peeled (or 2  TB minced garlic)
2 whole cloves (or 1t ground cloves)
1/2 cinnamon stick, bashed with a pestle (C’mon now – 1t ground cinnamon)
1 fresh rosemary sprig, bashed with a pestle (or not)
8 chicken thighs (a 2 lb. package of 8 serves two adults and two children under 5)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth works well)
Juice of 1/2 an orange (or 1/2 c of orange juice, not from concentrate)
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used pomegranate wine once, in a pinch – nice; not so much for drinking, btw)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Scatter the dried plums, garlic, cinnamon, cloves and rosemary in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, skin side up (meaty side up if they’re skinless). Mix the broth, orange juice and red wine together. Pour over the chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours (I baked for 1 hour when time was tight and no one got sick). Let the chicken rest in the juices for 10-15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter. Pick out the dried plums and garlic cloves (if you used whole cloves) and serve one with each piece of chicken. Strain the juices and ladle off the fat. Check for seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes (include the chicken juices!), and steamed kale, green beans, turnips or any vegetable you like.

Bon Appetit! And PLEASE, if you have interesting, healthy, family-friendly chicken recipes, please share!

*Prunes, re-branded – so much sexier, yeah?


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  • hi2mommy: Thanks, Laura - I'll never give up! YOU post some of the most exquisite recipes I've ever seen. You are going to be featured here very soon.
  • susie: well im not really sure what the 2nd reply post was all about, but i reckon this is still a classic game, whatever way you look at it.
  • Laura: Yum! I love a fruit smoothie - especially on a hot summer day. I'm with you on the fruit - mango or raspberries. Picking up where you left off is a

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