Thursday, March 1, 2012

National Nutrition Month is Here!!!!

National Nutrition Month has officially started! What does this mean? Morgan and I will be writing more posts and explaining the health benefits our meals more thoroughly! Also, keep in mind March 14th is RD day! Stay tunned we'll have more posts coming soon!

Got a recipe you'd like us to take a look at? Maybe it needs to be revamped to make it healthier? Email the recipe and we'll look it over, tweak it, and post it on the blog!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef BBQ

Zeina's BBQ Chicken Pizza got me craving that sweet and smoky BBQ flavor.  I love BBQ... in fact our rehearsal dinner, the day before Sonny and I got married, consisted of pulled pork BBQ that was made by my father in law, with the help of my Dad and Texas Dad.  One of my favorite meals EVER!

Now I can't come close to the tangy finger-licking, melt in your mouth yumminess that is created by all the awesome dads I know, especially without the intense grilling set-ups they all have in their back yards.  But, I think I did pretty dang good with my slow cooker and a crazy delish homemade sauce. 

A pretty crucial ingredient to homemade BBQ sauces is ketchup.  Yes, SHOCKER!  For those of you who know me well, you know I can not stand ketchup- the smell, the appearance, and everything else about it grosses me out.  But I put my feelings aside and sure enough used ketchup in my BBQ sauce.  I added some vinegar (I've always been a fan of more vinegar-based BBQ's), Dijon, cayenne and worchestershire.  Here's my secret ingredients- instead of using brown sugar or anything else to sweeten my BBQ sauce, I found this awesome product from South Mountain Veggies.  Hickory syrup is kind of like maple syrup, but has a smoky, hickory flavor- perfect for sauces or marinades (not something you would pour over your pancakes).  If you can't find this, you can of course use a bit of maple syrup as a substitute.  My second secret ingredient is liquid smoke- this is a great tool for bringing the taste of outdoor grilled foods inside when you can't light up the charcoal. 

So, I whisked up my sauce and set it aside.   I set my chuck roast in the bottom of my crock-pot, then thinly sliced a red onion and spread it over the meat.

Then I poured my yummy sauce overtop...

Cover that sucker up and let it cook at low heat for about 6-8 hours (or internal temperature reaches 145).  Then you can remove the roast from the sauce, place on a cutting board, and shred the meat using two forks, discarding any fat and connective tissue.  Alternately, you can use a knife to chop the meat into small pieces.  As you can see, Buddy was sure to stand close in case any delicious beef came his way!  After shredding your beef, place it back in the crock-pot with the sauce and let it set under the warm setting for at least 30 minutes. 

What better to go with BBQ, then coleslaw.  But no boring coleslaw here!  I wanted some vibrant colors and bright flavors on my plate.  I started with half a red cabbage and sliced it into thin slices...

Then I used the large side of the box grater to shred up my carrots...

Then I mixed in red pepper, scallions and jalepeno.  Lastly, I added some fresh Asian flavors including rice vinegar, peanut oil, soy sauce, agave nectar and lime juice.  This was the perfect compliment to my BBQ Beef which I served on a whole wheat bun.  It was a wonderfully balanced meal and many of the ingredients are items that can be found in you cupboard.  I highly recommend trying my recipes!

BBQ Beef Sandwich
2lb Chuck Roast
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tb worchestershire
2 Tb Hickory syrup (or use maple syrup)
2 Tb dijon mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp cayenne pepper sauce

1- Place the chuck roast in a crock-pot and place sliced onions over top.
2- Pour your sauce on top of the roast.  Cook at low heat in your slow cooker for 6-8 hours (internal temperature should be at 145).
3- Shred the beef with two forks or chop into small pieces with a knife. 
4- Put shredded meat back in the slow cooker, with the sauce, and set at "warm" or low setting for another 30 minutes.
5- Serve beef on whole wheat buns or kaiser rolls.

Asian Slaw
1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1 small bunch scallions, diced
1 jalepeno, minced
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tb peanut oil
2 Tb low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tb agave nectar (or honey)
1 Tb lime juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

1- Place cabbage, carrots, red pepper, scallions, jalepeno, and peanuts in a large bowl.
2- Whisk together vinegar, oil, soy sauce, agave nectar, lime juice and black pepper. 
3- Drizzle sauce over your veggie mix.
4- Cover slaw and chill for at least 1 hour before serving (to let the flavors develop).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Sometimes I cook in batches. I start to cook and I just can't stop, I think that's normal. :)

After going out to a local pizza place Friday night I decided I wanted a little bit more pizza, it's just so delicious! I set out to make a BBQ chicken pizza. I should also note that this happens to be my all time favorite pizza "flavor". It all started when I was working at a pizza place in Raleigh during college. There was a pizza called Dantes Inferno at Lilly's Pizza (back then they didn't have bacon on it, I highly recommend you order it without bacon). That is hands down the best pizza I've had. In fact, I ALWAYS go back there when I go to NC. While I didn't recreate this exactly, I went with that theme.

I started with store bought whole wheat pizza crust. I prefer to make my own but realized I didn't have yeast and the grocery store was crazy on Saturday afternoon. When I remembered I needed yeast I just so happened to be in the bread section that had whole wheat pizza crust, so I bought it and got out of there ASAP. Though I absolutely LOVE grocery shopping, I hate when it's crowded.

I started by preheating the oven to 375F to bake up the chicken breast. I used the BBQ sauce I'd be using as the base for my pizza to marinate the chicken. Bake for about 20 minutes (it really depends on how thick your chicken strips are and how quickly your oven cooks), chicken should be fully cooked.

I decided to sauté the red onions, garlic, and mushrooms to bring out the flavor. Note: whenever you cook mushrooms you should NOT wash them. Just take a damp towel and brush off any dirt that might be on them. If you wash them they won't brown well and tend to come out rubbery. It'll look something like this when finish.

Next I shredded up some smoked gouda cheese to give the pizza an extra smoky flavor, after all it's a BBQ pizza! I mixed this with part skim mozzarella cheese to not only cut back on calories and fat but also to make sure the smoky flavor wasn't over powering. Gouda has a very rich flavor, it's also very creamy (great for melting) so you don't need a lot of it.

I used the remainder of the BBQ sauce as a base for my pizza. And then piled on the fresh spinach. I learned this trick while working at Lilly's Pizza. If you put the spinach on top of the cheese it'll burn while you cook it. This way the spinach with wilt and cook up without burning!

At this point the chicken will be done and you should increase the temperature of your oven to 400F to bake the pizza.

Then it was time to pile on the cheese. I like to use about 3/4 of the cheese on the base and then sprinkle a little on top, that's just my personal preference. Once I put a good base layer of cheese on I added the chopped up BBQ chicken, sauteed veggies, and the final bit of cheese. Then I popped the pizza in the oven (use a cookie sheet or pizza stone). I have both, Morgan bought me a wonderful pizza stone for Christmas but I forgot to let it heat up while the chicken was cooking, so I used the cookie sheet. You don't necessarily have to let the pizza stone heat up before you use it but you're supposed to.

After baking for about 20-25 minutes the pizza will come out looking like this...

YUMMY! Now let's talk nutrition here. Yes this is pizza, yes it has regular cheese on it, and yes it's healthy! Let's break it down, shall we? We've got whole wheat crust which provides us with heart healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates that prevent our blood sugars from spiking up the way refined (white) breads do. Not to mention fiber helps us feel full longer! Then we've got a bunch of vegetables which are also high in fiber and micronutrients. Remember when we talked about antioxidants and eating the rainbow? Well we've got white (mushrooms), green (spinach), purple (onions), and red (if we are counting the tomato in the BBQ sauce). We've also go lean protein from the chicken breast. And lastly the cheese. We need a little bit of fat in our diet and while saturated fats found in cheese aren't the healthiest, a little is certainly ok. I also use significantly less cheese than your average fast food pizza joint and mixed it with low fat cheese to cut calories/fat. All together this makes for one healthy and delicious pizza! Pair it with some veggies for added volume and you've got yourself a meal!

BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe:
-1 store bought or homemade whole wheat pizza crust (I suggest using Morgan's awesome recipe she posted before in her calzone post)
-1/2 cup BBQ sauce (any brand you happen to like) for the base of the pizza + 1/4 cup for the chicken breast
-1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast (you'll have extra, I only used 1/2 of this but I kept the extra for  another meal later this week)
-1.5 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
-1 tbsp garlic
-1/4 cup sliced raw red onion
-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
-1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
-1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella (you can use more if you like your pizza extra cheesy)