Instead of "resolving" to eat less, vow to eat more - more vibrantly, healthfully, and deliciously. These recipes will start you off right!
New Year's Resolutions don't really seem to work for most of us. A better, more sustainable approach may have to do with word choice. How about we "focus on ______ "? Or is "prioritize" better? Either word seems to take that edge off of "resolve".
This year, try focusing on eating less processed foods, and make the time to cook at home. Prioritize your health. To put it in perspective for you, I'm not a chef or Martha Stewart, and I budget one hour to make a dinner that consists of one protein and two vegetables. My meals must be delicious, nutritious, easy, and fast (must complete all three dishes in 60 minutes or less). I always make enough for leftovers the next day for lunch (a great hack, but I'm also lazy), and I go grocery shopping on Sunday mornings because the stores are empty at 8:00 a.m. I also firmly believe that eating should be fun and interesting, not boring or tedious. Am I right?
I've chosen a variety of recipes that can be easily adapted to your taste buds, so don't discard the recipes if there's an ingredient you don't like or doesn't work for you. Think about what foods or ingredients you do like that could be substituted. I'm currently dairy free, so I didn't include the cheese in these recipes. You could also consider a vegan cheese as a substitution. Also, you can try any of these recommendations at any time and in any order.
This "nourishing new year" cuts close to the bone for me. I'm choosing to prioritize and focus on my health this year. Why? I'm having shoulder surgery this Friday, and not only is it going to be incredibly painful, but the recovery will be long and arduous. My physical therapist warned me that I wouldn't be able to swim laps again until January 2023. If I want to fully heal from this surgery, and maintain my health and fitness for the rest of my life, not only do I need to do ALL of the physical therapy exercises, I also need to avoid inflammatory foods and focus on anti-inflammatory foods. My husband will be cooking for a few weeks while I'm in a sling. Sadly, I'm very left-handed and the surgery is on my left shoulder, and frankly, I think cutting anything with only one hand sounds dangerous. This will also be a great excuse to avoid alcohol for at least 8 weeks while I'm recovering. Alcohol is inflammatory, and my body will need all the help it can get.
I'm hoping you aren't having major surgery this year, but that you will also prioritize your health, and have a nourishing 2022!
Eat more beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are small, but mighty sources of plant-based protein. Also known as "pulses", they are also full of fiber and important minerals such as zinc, iron, and folate. Sustainable to produce, inexpensive, and super versatile - think hummus, lentil soup, and Latin-inspired meals like this that add variety to your diet. This is an easy one pan meal that's ready in 30 minutes. Feel free to sub pinto beans for black beans, and definitely don't leave out the garnishes - cilantro, radish and cotija cheese bring flavor and color to this dish.
Photo credit: Greg Dupree
Black Bean–Quinoa Skillet Casserole Active: 30 mins. Total: 30 mins Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped poblano chiles (from 2 medium chiles)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 (15-oz.) cans no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
Mexican-style hot sauce (such as Cholula) (optional)
Step 1 . Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add poblanos and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, quinoa, salt, and cumin; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed liquid and is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Step 2 . Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Top with Cotija, radishes, cilantro, and, if desired, hot sauce. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts. 444 calories; fat 11g; saturated fat 3g; cholesterol 10mg; fiber 14g; protein 21g; carbohydrates 67g; sugars 4g; sodium 804mg; iron 5mg; calcium 220mg.
Eat more probiotics
When it comes to these live organisms, definitely believe in the hype. (More detailed information coming in my next blog post on the gut microbiome). Having a healthy balance of good gut bacteria helps support a strong immune system, helps your digestion, and may even promote better memory and more stable mood. Add more to your diet by including fermented foods such as yogurt (live, active cultures), sauerkraut, miso, kimchi - fermented cabbage that gives the savory-sweet zucchini bowls their mouthwatering kick. Find kimchi at your local grocery or Asian market. A forkful of fermented food per day is all you need to feed your "gut garden."
Photo credit: Chihyu
KimChi Chicken Stir fry with Zoodles
Ingredients For the chicken
1 lb. chicken breasts thin sliced
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1 tsp arrowroot powder
½ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups kimchi see note below
2 medium zucchini spiralized
2 large cloves finely chopped garlic
2 bulbs scallions chopped and separate white and green parts
3 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp coconut aminos optional & only if you want it more salty
Drizzle Toasted sesame oil optional
Sprinkle Toasted sesame seeds optional
Thin slice chicken breasts to about ¼ to ⅛ inch thin. Season them with ingredients from coconut aminos to olive oil. Mix well and set aside in the fridge while preparing others.
Press the kimchi, with a little pressure and using the back of a spoon, to drain through a sieve with a bowl under to catch the kimchi juice.
Prepare the zucchini noodles, if using. Chop the garlic and scallions.
In a well-heated large stainless steel skillet or cast iron or wok, add 1.5 tbsp cooking fat. Sear the chicken breasts in one even layer over medium-high heat without disturbing until they are in golden brown color, about 2 minutes, then use a spatula with a firm tip to flip. Cook the flip side about 1 minute. The chicken should be almost cooked through before setting them aside along with the pan juice and oil in the skillet.
Use the same skillet and add 1.5 tbsp cooking fat, saute garlic and white scallion parts over medium heat until fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt and stir fry frequently to prevent them from burning ,about 8-10 seconds.
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the drained kimchi, saute for 1 minute. Add zoodles, if using, and toss for 30 seconds.
Return chicken to the skillet and add 4-5 tbsp kimchi juice. Toss for 30 second. Taste test and see if you want to add the coconut aminos.
Off heat. Garnish with green scallion parts and sesame seeds, if using. Drizzle with sesame oil. Serve warm.
If desired to make a thicker sauce, after all the ingredients are cooked, take out the kimchi, chicken, and zoodles and reduce the sauce to make it thicker by turning up the heat for a few minutes then pour it over the dish.
Recipe courtesy of iheartumami.com . Chihyu makes wonderful Asian-inspired paleo & Whole30 dishes.
Eat more seafood
There are as many types of seafood as there are fish in the sea, and you will get health benefits from almost all of them. White fish like halibut and cod are rich in minerals and protein. If you aren't a fish fan, white fish is very mild-flavored. Look for "wild caught" fish as opposed to "farmed" fish. Much more healthy and environmentally sustainable. Paired with fiber-rich brown rice and broccolini, this satisfying supper will soon be in your meal rotation.
Photo credit: Greg Dupree
Miso-Honey Cod With Broccolini Active: 20 min Total: 30 mins Serves 4 Ingredients
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 (8-oz.) bunch fresh Broccolini, trimmed
3 medium shallots, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup sesame oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (gluten and soy free)
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or more to taste
4 (5-oz.) skinless cod fillets
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Step 1 . Cook rice according to package directions.
Step 2 . Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F. Toss together Broccolini, shallots, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until just tender and beginning to crisp, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Step 3 . Whisk together miso, 1½ tablespoons of water, honey, vinegar, coconut aminos, Sriracha, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small bowl; set aside.
Step 4 . Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium- high. Season cod fillets evenly with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Arrange cod in skillet; cook until golden brown on bottoms, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip; cook until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Step 5 . Divide cooked rice evenly among 4 plates; top with Broccolini mixture and cod. Drizzle with miso sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Nutrition Facts. 495 calories; fat 18g; saturated fat 2g; cholesterol 61mg; fiber 2g; protein 33g; carbohydrates 51g; sugars 8g; sodium 668mg; iron 5mg; calcium 67mg.
Eat more healthy fats
Don't let the word "fat" fool you. Unsaturated fats like those found in salmon, nuts, olive oil, and avocados can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of heart disease, and support the absorption of other essential nutrients. Think of these crunch, golden avocado wedges as healthier than friends: dunked in a lightly spiced herb dip, they are an exceptional snack, appetizer, or side dish.
Photo credit: Greg Dupree
Baked Avocado 'Fries' With Chipotle Ranch Active: 15 mins Total: 30 mins Serves 4
1/4 cup gluten free flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup gluten-free panko
2 medium-size firm-ripe avocados, each cut into 6 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt or plain coconut yogurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Step 1 . Preheat oven to 450°F. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Place panko in a third shallow bowl. Dredge avocado wedges in flour, tossing lightly to coat; shake off excess. Dredge in eggs; let soak 1 minute. Flip to fully coat in eggs. Dredge in panko, tossing to fully coat.
Step 2 . Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil; arrange avocado wedges on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until evenly golden brown, about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through bake time. Remove from oven; sprinkle evenly with ¼ teaspoon of the salt.
Step 3 . While avocado wedges bake, stir together yogurt, chives, dill, adobo sauce, garlic powder, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Serve with avocado wedges.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 333 calories; fat 25g; saturated fat 4g; cholesterol 50mg; fiber 9g; protein 9g; carbohydrates 23g; sugars 2g; sugars 2g; sodium 319mg; iron 2mg; calcium 51mg.
Eat more vegetables
Enjoying more vegetables is probably the #1 thing you can do to boost your overall health. These nutritional superstars can minimize the effects of aging, as well as fend off cancer and other chronic diseases. More importantly, they are absolutely delicious, especially when served like "pasta" topped with a hazelnut gremolata and parmesan cheese. Served together with your favorite protein, this is an excellent meal!
Photo credit: Greg Dupree
2 cups spiralized or zig zag butternut squash (I bought mine @ Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice, divided
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely shredded, divided
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 container sliced fresh cremini mushrooms
1 bunch chopped fresh Swiss chard
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Step 1 . Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together butternut squash and 1 tablespoon of the oil on a baking sheet; spread in an even layer. Roast until almost tender, about 14 minutes. Set aside.
Step 2 . While squash roasts, stir together hazelnuts, lemon zest, half of the Parmesan, and 1 teaspoon of the thyme in a small bowl; set aside.
Step 3 . Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add mushrooms; cook, undisturbed, until bottoms start to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes. Add chard, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme; cook, stirring constantly, until chard wilts, about 2 minutes. Add roasted squash; stir to combine. Remove mixture from heat; stir in lemon juice, butter, salt, and remaining cheese until combined. Divide mixture evenly among 4 bowls; sprinkle with hazelnut mixture. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts. Per Serving: 299 calories; fat 19g; saturated fat 6g; cholesterol 18mg; fiber 5g; protein 11g; carbohydrates 25g; sugars 6g; sodium 705mg; iron 3mg; calcium 299mg.
Eat more dark chocolate
Yes, I said it. I can't live life without chocolate. This recipe almost sounds too good to be true, but don't worry, dark chocolate is the real deal. It is rich in antioxidants, (cancer fighters), magnesium, helps encourage blood flow to the brain as well as improve cholesterol. I eat one ounce per day which is just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. In this recipe, the espresso powder and sprinkle of flaky sea salt bring out the deep flavor and fruitiness of the chocolate.
Photo credit: Greg Dupree
Dark Chocolate Almond Bark
12 ounces organic 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
3/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) Instructions
Step 1 . Fill a medium saucepan with water 2 inches deep; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer.
Step 2 . Place chocolate in a large glass bowl; place bowl over saucepan with simmering water. Heat chocolate, stirring constantly, until completely smooth and melted, about 5 minutes. Add espresso powder, if desired; stir to combine.
Step 3 . Remove from heat; pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread into a 14x6-inch rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with almonds, coconut, and salt. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Nutrition Facts. Per Serving: 197 calories; fat 17g; saturated fat 8g; fiber 4g; protein 5g; carbohydrates 15g; sugars 9g; sodium 97 mg; iron 1mg; calcium 24mg.