Beet, Swiss Chard, and Garbanzo Bean Salad

At the New Eastern Market on Friday I was drawn to some grubby looking beets (they’re usually the best kind of beets). Then right beside them some giant green leaves – which could really be anything. They turned out to be Swiss Chard, something I’ve never really used before. We actually picked our own last fall but I was panicked by the unfamiliar ingredient and it got pushed to the back of the frig where it wilted and eventually got tossed. Disappointing to say the least. Even though this bunch wasn’t quite the same (nothing can be the joy of picking your own) I decided to give it a second try after finding success with kale. I cheated with kale because I bought the bagged stuff at Trader Joe’s but have since switched to the fresher, unprepared stuff. Anyway…

We happen to be going away for the weekend so I really had to use everything in the frig or waste it (again). What better way than to throw it all into a salad? I started with this recipe, but as usual deviated quite a bit.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Beets
  • 1 bunch of Swiss Chard, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a can of garbanzo beans (about 1 cup), drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Goat or Mozzarella Cheese (optional)

Step-by-step:

  1. Boil the beats for approximately half an hour, until fork tender. Let cool enough to enable you to peel the outer layer. Then to get a roasty flavor, add them to a skillet or grill for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put olive oil in pan and add the minced cloves of garlic.
  3. Add the Swiss Chard then cook for 3 to 5 minutes before adding the garbanzo beans. Cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until Swiss Chard is cooked through.
  4. Add sliced or chopped beets, then dress with red wine vinegar and sea salt.
  5. If you would like, you can top with any kind of cheese. We rarely have goat cheese on hand so I was going to add mozzarella before I realized we were out of that too! I think a nice, fresh Parmesan or feta could also lend a different flavor.

This was something very out of the box for us! We’ve made beets a few times before but combining them into a salad (a common thing for many other people) had never really occurred to us. In the fall when we get our own hands dirty picking our own beets we’ll have to remember this recipe! It came out great and was an alternative to romaine or spinach.

Chicken Curry… or Something Like It

Alright, I admit it. I have no idea how to make a proper curry, and based on my research I probably don’t have the best tools or the most authentic ingredients. But I decided to throw together a random assortment of things found in my kitchen and it turned out surprisingly well. It had a great flavor, the perfect consistency, and to top it off the chicken was actually cooked well.

Ingredients:

  • Oil
  • Cumin
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
  • Curry Seasoning
  • Ginger
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Sriracha
  • White wine (optional)

Step by step…

  1. Season the chicken with curry seasoning, ginger, and salt a few hours before cooking.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet with cumin and bay leaves.
  3. Add the onion and green pepper and cook until soft.
  4. Mix in chicken and cook until seared.
  5. Pour in a little white wine to deglaze the bottom of the skillet (optional).
  6. Add tomato sauce (or paste). I was concerned the sauce would be too thin but it thickened up to the perfect consistency. It also had ‘roasted garlic’ in it, which added a great flavor.
  7. Let the mixture simmer before mixing in Sriracha and cayenne pepper until you reach your desire heat intensity.
  8. Serve over whole grain rice.

Jalapeno-Jelly Chicken Breast

This isn’t the healthiest chicken dish I’ve ever made but it turned out great. Leaving the skin on is a major splurge but it really boosts the flavor. Of course this can also be made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a healthier alternative.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Olive Oil
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Jalapeno Jelly
    • This was given to me as a homemade gift but can also be purchased… or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can always make it at home.

Instructions

     Total cook time: 30 to 35 minutes

  1. Prepare your grill. We used charcoal, piling it on one side to take advantage of indirect heat.
  2. To prepare your chicken, drizzle some olive oil over the top. Then cover the chicken with your desired amount of seasonings (chili powder, onion salt, and garlic powder). Just as an aside, we probably should have used some paprika.
  3. Place the chicken on indirect heat and cover for 20 minutes.
  4. Move the chicken closer to the direct heat (or even directly above it) for another 5 minutes.
  5. To get a char on the skin, flip the chicken over right about the direct heat for a minute or two. Leaving it too long with result in burnt skin… or even no skin.
  6. Flip the breasts over and finish by topping with the jelly (about 1/2 tbsp per breast) and cooking for yet another 5 minutes. We had to turn the chicken about halfway through because the jelly wasn’t caramelizing at an even rate.
  7. Done! We paired it with this Grilled Corn on the Cob and there was plenty for leftover lunch salads!

Grilled Corn on the Cob, sans Butter

We fired up the charcoal grill for some delicious corn on the cob, Santa Fe style (or so I like to call it). I spent a good part of my day looking for alternatives to butter… and apparently mayonnaise. I didn’t come up with anything that sounded particularly tasty, so I decided to wing it.

We set the charcoal up on one side to provide a low-heat setting. While the grill heated up, I soaked the corn in water – it’s apparently not entirely necessary, but something that’s always worked for me. I then pulled down the husks and yanked off all those pesky hairs.
Toppings:
  • Olive Oil
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Salt (or Lawry’s Season Salt)
  • Garlic
Just apply whatever toppings you want. I assume it works with any number of seasonings, but as we were going for something that paired perfectly with Jalapeno-Jelly Chicken Breasts these seasonings worked perfectly. It was completely different, satisfying, and I didn’t miss the butter. Never imagined I’d say that!As for the cooking instructions, just place the corn (husks returned to the original setting) on the low heat side. Ultimately, you want to cook the corn for a total of 15 minutes turning three times. That’s once every five minutes. That’s it! Super easy and gives it a much more complex flavor than simple boiling would. Fair warning: it’s not as sweet and a little more chewy.

Low Fat Crock-Pot Recipes

The crockpot is a great invention. Throw a random assortment of ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning and you have a fully cooked, delicious meal by evening. I often get stuck in a rut, however, with pot roasts and stews and salsa chicken. Luckily, I recently came across a compilation of Low Fat Crockpot Recipes that includes all the nutrition information, along with the Weight Watchers Points.

Problem is, it’s Points not Points Plus, but considering all of the recipes are under 10 points I figure it’s safe.


I actually own two crockpots, mostly because I couldn’t afford the one I really wanted. I started out with the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go crockpot in a discontinued white. I use it frequently and it’s fairly beat up but it does it’s job well and the latching feature was a major plus. It’s a must if you travel with your crockpot a lot and are tired of fighting rubber bands. The biggest issue with this crockpot is that it does not have a ‘set ‘n forget’ feature. I outgrew this crockpot mostly because when I make stew I insist in overflowing the pot with veggies. I then acquired a Wolfgang Puck 6 qt crockpot that had many different settings and a timer. The timer is, if I may exaggerate, a life-changer. I don’t even have to remember to turn it off. This slowcooker would not travel well. It’s massive and heavy (and impossible to store) but when I’m making enough stew for an army (we like leftovers) or hosting a party it’s my go-to pot that makes everything easier. Because yes, I have overflowed the 4 qt on a couple of occasions. 

Burgers Don’t Have to Be Boring

I always have trouble with ground beef. I tend to stick to 93% but then I get stuck: there are about four options for where I go from there. Chili, burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf? Usually, I stick to the American standby – hamburgers. And I don’t usually mix it up much, maybe worsterchire or sriracha.
Today we had an excess of tomatoes and you probably do too. Maybe not from your garden, but they’re pretty cheap from the farmer’s market right now. We made some salsa. Nothing special, not a recipe… it was pretty good, but nothing to write home about. We didn’t have enough chips leaving us with plenty of leftovers. What to do? Salsa burgers.
The main reason I don’t have a picture was that these were just too good. And so easy. Just take some burgers and mix in some salsa! They were restaurant quality with literally no effort. Yum! Plus if you’re following Weight Watchers the salsa adds zero points. We topped it off with some pepper jack cheese and then I ate it with a fork. No added carbs from an oversized bun!

Other ideas for hamburger mix-ins:

  • Olive tapenade
  • Crumbled cheese like feta or bleu cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Mustard
  • Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Black beans if you want to cut down on your meat intake
  • Apples work well in turkey burgers
  • There are also a variety of seasonings that can transform your burger, from cajun to curry!

Burger toppings that won’t hurt your waistline:

  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Olive tapenade
  • Mustard
  • Any variety of veggies: onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms…
  • Avocadoes are a great alternative for mayonnaise
  • Guacamole
  • A mini-caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

One thing I crave on a regular basis is potatoes in all forms, but mostly french fries. Occasionally, we make them at home, but in general it’s something we try to avoid. Last year we went through a phase where we made potatoes almost every nigh. I definitely put on some weight even though we were only roasting them in olive oil. This is when I realized carbs are a major problem for me, which is why we currently have a potato-free home.

I decided to purchase some sweet potatoes. I’ve always hated sweet potatoes dressed in sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows because they just become too “cloyingly sweet” (thank you, Alex Guarnaschelli). I prefer them drenched in butter and salt. Of course, this isn’t much better.

As it’s grilling season, I set out on a mission to find a recipe for grilled sweet potatoes. As usual, I wasn’t quite happy with anything I found. So I just kind of winged it.

Ingredients

  • Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1-inch squares
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh, sliced Garlic
    • We actually chopped it but it fell through the grates. Lesson learned

Instructions

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender (about 3 to 5 minutes)
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let sit. If you’ll be mixing with a spoon or spatula, then you can dress them now. I’m a fan of using my hands so I let them cool a little bit.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and seasoning. Mix in the garlic. For a stronger, more even garlic flavor, you can also add some garlic powder.
  4. Place a grilling basket, like the one seen above, on the grill above the charcoals to let it preheat, then dump the potatoes in.
  5. Because you’re only trying to get a good seared, grill flavor you can put them right over the direct heat.
  6. Cook until you’re happy with the char! But once the potatoes start to disintegrate, you’ll know you’ve left them on too long.

About the Grilling Basket (Wok)
We bought a Bobby Flay basket at Kohl’s, which worked great initially. Sadly, the non-stick didn’t hold up to the grill. I’d suggest stainless steal or porcelain. Also, it had a cedar handle that actually got in the way. Covering the grill is not an option and storing it was not fun. If you don’t own or aren’t interested in purchasing a grill basket, you can always put your vegetables on foil or skewers. Otherwise, take a look at some great options below!

Battle for Breakfast

Breakfast and I have never been friends. It’s been a constant battle since sometime in middle school, but of course I know that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” so I’ve been making an effort to eat it.

The egg got a bad rap in the diet world during the whole low-fat craze and never really recovered. It’s not until recently that its become more widely accepted and I still have a difficult time finding recipes that don’t call for “egg whites”, which really is such a waste isn’t it? But back to breakfast… I generally rely on the ‘incredible, edible egg’ most mornings. It’s a good value, can be easily found at trusted farmer’s markets, and is an excellent source of protein. Just ask Dr. Oz!

Why yes, I did eat that whole tomato.

Eggs, scrambled, are one of the first things I learned how to make as a child. Over time I’ve broadened my horizons to omelettes, poached eggs, over-medium, and hard-boiled eggs. Since I’ve been trying to avoid carbs and am still struggling to find some true whole-grain bread I’ve been making a lot of scrambled eggs. Occasionally I mix in some sriracha or onions but I don’t make it much more complex than that.

As a substitute for bread I put a veggie on the side, like a delicious salted tomato. When I’m craving something sweet I have a side of fruit, like strawberries or cantaloupe.

Now that I’m trying to eat better, I also want to try some new breakfast items. Maybe even oatmeal? If anyone has any suggestions I would be happy to hear them!

Jalapeno-Jelly Chicken Breast

This isn’t the healthiest chicken dish I’ve ever made but it turned out great. Leaving the skin on is a major splurge but it really boosts the flavor. Of course this can also be made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a healthier alternative.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Olive Oil
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Jalapeno Jelly
    • This was given to me as a homemade gift but can also be purchased… or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can always make it at home.

Instructions
     Total cook time: 30 to 35 minutes

  1. Prepare your grill. We used charcoal, piling it on one side to take advantage of indirect heat.
  2. To prepare your chicken, drizzle some olive oil over the top. Then cover the chicken with your desired amount of seasonings (chili powder, onion salt, and garlic powder). Just as an aside, we probably should have used some paprika.
  3. Place the chicken on indirect heat and cover for 20 minutes.
  4. Move the chicken closer to the direct heat (or even directly above it) for another 5 minutes.
  5. To get a char on the skin, flip the chicken over right about the direct heat for a minute or two. Leaving it too long with result in burnt skin… or even no skin.
  6. Flip the breasts over and finish by topping with the jelly (about 1/2 tbsp per breast) and cooking for yet another 5 minutes. We had to turn the chicken about halfway through because the jelly wasn’t caramelizing at an even rate.
  7. Done! We paired it with this Grilled Corn on the Cob and there was plenty for leftover lunch salads!

Grilled Corn on the Cob, sans Butter

We fired up the charcoal grill for some delicious corn on the cob, Santa Fe style (or so I like to call it). I spent a good part of my day looking for alternatives to butter… and apparently mayonnaise. I didn’t come up with anything that sounded particularly tasty, so I decided to wing it.

We set the charcoal up on one side to provide a low-heat setting. While the grill heated up, I soaked the corn in water – it’s apparently not entirely necessary, but something that’s always worked for me. I then pulled down the husks and yanked off all those pesky hairs.
Toppings:
  • Olive Oil
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Salt (or Lawry’s Season Salt)
  • Garlic
Just apply whatever toppings you want. I assume it works with any number of seasonings, but as we were going for something that paired perfectly with Jalapeno-Jelly Chicken Breasts these seasonings worked perfectly. It was completely different, satisfying, and I didn’t miss the butter. Never imagined I’d say that!

As for the cooking instructions, just place the corn (husks returned to the original setting) on the low heat side. Ultimately, you want to cook the corn for a total of 15 minutes turning three times. That’s once every five minutes. That’s it! Super easy and gives it a much more complex flavor than simple boiling would. Fair warning: it’s not as sweet and a little more chewy.