Sunday, May 30, 2010

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

This salad can be a main dish, side dish for grilled chicken, or topping for lettuce. But I say skip the lettuce and go for the good stuff.

The key to this salad is fresh lime juice and good extra virgin olive oil. If your olive oil comes in a plastic bottle, it is not good olive oil. If you use it in this salad, your salad will taste like plastic and will be no where near as good.

2 large avodcados, diced
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 large ears of corn, or 1 small bag of frozen corn
1 red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 garlic clove, pressed
juice of 2-3 limes
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves (chop them off the stems)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste

1- In a large bowl, combine the avocado and black beans. Mix with approx 1 tbsp of lime juice to keep the avocado from browning while you do the rest.

2- Options for corn:
  • Boil the ears in salted water for 7-8 minutes. You want them slighlty cooked but still crispy. NOT mushy. Cut the corn off of the cob, allow to cool to room temp and add to big bowl
  • Brush the ears with olive oil and roast at 450 in oven, or on grill until they are slightly done but not mushy. Cut kernels off the cob, allow to cool to room temp and add to big bowl
  • Open the bag of frozen corn and pour it into a collander. Run the collander under warm (not hot) water until the corn defrosts, but you don't want it to cook. Blot with a paper towel to dry it off a bit, and then add it to the big bowl.
3- Add in the red onion and chili powder

4- For the dressing, use a mortar and pestal or a food processor to pulverize the garlic, cilantro and lime juice. This should look something like the beginnings of a pesto. Drizzle in the olive oil and wither whisk or whir a little bit longer in the food processor to combine it. Now it should really look like pesto, but thinner. Add a little more oil or lime juice to taste.

5- Toss the dressing with the avocado mixture, add salt to taste and chill for at least 30 mintues to let the flavors combine. If you let it sit overnight, it won't be as pretty, but it will taste even more awesome.

Black Bean Chicken

Adapted from Sparkpeople member LOSER1231's recipe on
Yields 6 servings

1 lb frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
16 oz jar of your favorite salsa (green or red)

Place all of this in your slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. While its a slow cooker recipe, you really want to watch it a bit so the rice doesn't get over cooked and mushy.

Before serving, stir with a fork to break up the chicken. It should shred pretty easily.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Menu- Week of May 31, 2010

This week we start with Memorial Day. I'm volunteering for a trialthlon in the morning, so we will have our Meat Fest in the afternoon. On the menu are guacamole (avocado mashed with lime juice, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt), Ana's salsa, Tostitos Baked Scoops, and the grilled smorgasboard- tri tip steak, chicken sausage, asparagus, zucchini, and green onions.

Tuesday- Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tabbouleh

Wednesday- Quick Curried Chicken

Thursday- Beef Tamale Bake

Friday- Chicken Pot Pie

All of these recipes make 4-6 servings, so the leftovers will be used for lunches and/or frozen for sometime in the future when I am too busy to cook on the weekend. Sometime life happens.

Tip of the Week:
Chop all of the vegetables first portion them out for the recipes, so you can cook more than one thing at a time without losing your mind.

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tabbouleh

Adapted from Pampered Chef  "It's Good For You" cookbook
Yields 4 servings

1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked bulgar wheat
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup sliced green onions with tops
1 cup snipped fresh parsley
2 tbsp snipped fresh mint (optional)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice

1- Bring water, salt and oil to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add the bulgar, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

2- In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with the bulgar, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to let the flavors blend. It can be refridgerated overnight (great make-ahead option)

Grilled Lemon Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

1- Heat grill to medium high. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning.

2- Grill 6-7 minutes per side, turning once.

Grilled Pita Bread Wedges

Cut Pita into 4 wedges. Brush with olive oil and grill 1-2 minutes per side, until it is crsipy and lightly browned.

Quick Curried Chicken

Adapted from Pampered Chef's "It's Good For You" cookbook
Yeild 6 servings

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders, cut in 1in pieces
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 14oz can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1 14 oz can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained
2 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
Chopped peanuts or toasted coconut
3 cups cooked brown rice

1- In a medium bowl, combine the curry powder, cornstarch, ginger and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly.

2- Heat large skillet over high heat with 1tbsp olive oil. Add chicken and garlic and cook until chicken is no longer pink, so 6-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet.

3. Reduce the heat to medium high and add the bell peppers. Cook 1-2 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk, pineapple and chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

4- Add cilantro and mix gently. Serve over rice, and top with peanuts or coconut if desired.

Getting Started

I love to cook, but I hate to clean. I might as well just put that out there. I have a very busy schedule, so having to come home, make dinner, and then clean up afterwards does not sound very good to me. I'd rather spend my evenings relaxing and eating than cleaning up the kitchen.

Also, I am so tired of Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine that I can't even stand the sight of them. They have been my staple lunch for years, as I tried to control calories and portions. However, I was filling my body with preservatives and tons of salt, which negated all my efforts to be healthy.

My friend Shayla started cooking all the meals for the week for her and her husband on the weekend. She lost a significant amount of weight that way, without very much change in her activity level, as far as I can tell. Watching her shrink has been an amazing motivator for me to start a system myself.

My fiance R is a meat eater, and he also loves fresh veggies. He's not so hot on cooked ones. This is a challenge for cooking in advance, because I am not fond of microwaved steak and I still end up preparing fresh veggies to go with dinner. However, we are embarking on this adventure, and I want to share it with all of you.

I'll post a menu for the week and then the new recipes. My recipes are adapted from many sources, but I always change them, and rarely measure accurately. I'll give credit where credit is due, however. I might even be able to include nutritional information sometimes, although we aren't focusing so much on counting calories as we are having proper portions of satisfying foods that adequately fuel us for all our activities.

Here we go!