04/14/16
Poached Broiled Salmon

Broil-Poached Smokehouse Maple Salmon

Poached Broiled Salmon

So, at our house salmon is a weekly menu item, and we have some amazing recipes for this most perfect of fish. This is a great one, in that to only does it create a perfectly moist, perfectly delicious dish, but it’s also crazy easy to make!

McCormick "Maple Smokehouse" SeasoningBroil-poaching might be a new method for you, but it’s a great way to get a moist-in-the-middle, crunchy on the top fillet.

You can spice however you like, a bbq rub, or Italian seasoning is nice, but for my money, this stuff is the bomb.

I found these McCormick spice blends recently and they are amazing!

Broil-Poached Smokehouse Maple Salmon

1 Lb. fresh Pacific salmon or steelhead fillet
4 tsp. Better Than Bullion Organic Chicken Base
4 cups boiling water
2 Tbs. McCormick Grill Mates “Maple Smokehouse” Seasoning

Bring oven broiler to 500F

Better Than Bullion Organic Chicken Base

Bring water and chicken base to a simmer over medium heat in an oven safe pan.

Smokehouse Maple Salmon Recipe

Season salmon fillet with maple-smokehouse seasoning, and place gently, skin-side down, into broth.

Smokehouse Maple Salmon Recipe

Cover pan and remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes.

Smokehouse Maple Salmon Recipe

Uncover and slide the pan under broiler and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes.


MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.


Smokehouse Maple Salmon Recipe

Serve over steamed spinach cooked with lots of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

03/28/16

Braised Lamb Shank Tacos

Braised lamb shank tacos

In the United States, we tend to like chicken as our white meat of choice and beef as our red meat, but 63 percent of the world’s population eats goat. mutton, and lamb.

Lamb and mutton are the primary source of animal protein in regions in North Africa, the Middle East, India, and parts of Europe. There is a growing popularity for lamb in the U.S., especially among people of specific ethnic backgrounds. The USDA defines “lamb” as the meat of sheep less than 12 months old. Most of the American lamb comes from six to eight month old animals. 

Lamb shanks and stews have become particularly popular due to their superior and intriguing taste.

Given my ‘druthers, I would probably choose lamb over beef nine out of ten times!

Braised lamb shank tacos

Braised Lamb Shank Tacos
1 Tbsp. cumin powder
1 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. chile powder
1 16 -ounce can tomato sauce
2 lamb shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
Corn tortillas*, warmed, for serving
Cilantro, chopped
White onions, chopped

*I found a corn/flour mix that I really liked. Corn flavor, with the softer flour tortilla mouth feel.

Combine cumin, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, brown sugar, chile powder and tomatoes; whisk to combine.

Braised lamb shank
Put the lamb in a large bowl and add 2/3 of the marinade; coating on all sides.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, transfer to the oven and braise until very tender, about 2 hours. (Flip the lamb shanks at 1 hour).

Braised lamb shank tacos

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Skim off any excess fat and spoon any reduced marinade from the pan into a small mixing bowl and mix with the reserved (uncooked) marinade.  

Remove the lamb and pull the meat off the bone, discarding the bones and fat.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Braised lamb shank tacos

Shred the meat with your fingers (or forks) and transfer to a bowl. Pour the warmed braising liquid over the meat and toss to coat.

Braised lamb shank tacos

In a dry pan, brown tortillas on both sides.

Braised lamb tacos

Divide lamb among corn tortillas and top with cilantro and onions.

Braised lamb shank tacos

08/23/15

The Truth About “Super-Foods”

https://pacificsource.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/superfood.jpgIn our over-priced, over-lit, over-hyped media-crazed society, it should come as no surprise that there has been some serious lily-gilding on the subject of “super-foods.”

Oh, it’s not that these new and exotic foods from far-away lands aren’t really, really good for you. Acia and goji berries are loaded with phytochemicals, quinoa is a solid source of meat-free protein (which, unfortunately has become so hyped that it’s now too expensive for the native peoples who grow the stuff to eat anymore…)

It’s not that “super-foods aren’t, well…super, it’s just that there are lots and lots of amazing, if not quite so exotic, foods (blueberries, legumes, nuts, etc.,) that are every bit as good for you, with a much less over-hyped price tag, and a vastly smaller carbon footprint.

The only difference is that big-media isn’t blasting us 24/7/365 with revenue-greedy hype over the amazing power of a kidney bean, while we stand, en-mass, mouths agape, credit cards in hand, nodding like a bunch of glassy-eyes children of the (non-GMO) corn.

Take a look at this great infographic from EVOKE.ie



the truth about superfoods

11/27/14

Eating for Black Friday

Black-Friday-Phone-Deals

Consumers spent $59.1 billion on Black Friday last year. With so much up for grabs, shoppers make detailed timelines, store maps, and priority item plans for the big morning…but most don’t think to strengthen the one part of the equation that can make or break a successful shopping spree…themselves!

Planning a light, nutritious, easy-to-make breakfast, that will assure hours of energy and mental focus can be what separates the uber-shoppers from the wanna-bees on Friday morning!

Here are 5 ideas for Black Friday Breakfast that can give you the mental clarity and physical energy to elbow your way to the best deals, stay focused on your plan, and win that final sprint to the toy aisle! (Personally, I’ll be home sleeping off a turkey coma, but…best of luck to you!)

Much like preparing for a marathon, the secret to staying in black Friday fighting form is to eat a breakfast rich in high–quality carbs with some protein.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week.)

Consider these winning morning meals…

(Oh, and each of these can be pre-made and packed along for you seriously…um…committed shoppers who will be in line the night before…)

BR73721. A whole–wheat bagel topped with nut butter and banana slices. Pack in a sandwich baggie, and you’re ready to go! If you’re going to be waiting in line for several hours, cut your finished bagel into quarters and eat one quarter per hour, finishing just before the doors open, to ensure that your energy stays peaked.

2. Scrambled eggs, sliced tomato and whole–wheat toast sandwich.

Egg_Tomato_Mozzarella_Basil_Sandwich

oatmeal3. Oatmeal topped with berries and nuts/seeds. This will stay warm for hours, in the bottom of your shopping bag. Be sure to bring a zip bag for the dirty bowl and spoon.

4. Yogurt with granola and fruit.

Cup-o-coffee-not_small5. AVOID COFFEE! I know, you hate me, but it’s a diuretic, and do you really want to put all this energy into the one Black Friday of the year, just to miss the last PlayStation, ’cause you were waiting in a mile-long line to pee? Reward yourself with a trip to your favorite java shack when the battle is over.

Remember to drink plenty of water the day before (but not for the three hours proceeding the store opening) and be sure to finish your breakfast at least 20 minutes before the shopping spree starts!

Happy Black Friday!

-Chef Perry

funny-celebrity-pictures-those-black-friday-sales-are-the-scariest-things-ive-ever-had-to-face

11/8/14

3 Tips for Surviving Holiday Buffets

Tips for holiday buffets

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza…they’re are coming up, and some of us are already feeling the guilt of all those “bad foods” we’re not going to be able to resist!

If you’re watching your intake for medical reasons, trying to keep the extra pounds off, or just want to stay clean and healthy through the holidays, here are three quick tips:

1. For those holiday buffets, either at a friend’s house, or eating out, plan to go through the line TWICE. On the first pass, look at everything, but only plate reasonable portions of the best, healthiest options.

2. Then immediately go BACK through the line (same plate) and add a small portion of the two best-looking, but “not-as-healthy options” that had you drooling the first time through!

3. OR…skip the second trip and indulge in a small dessert.

It’s not about denying yourself, it’s about having choices, and making the right ones.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

(This is an excerpt from our upcoming “Keeping the Holidays Healthy” free class at the  Diabetes Support Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center Wed, Nov 12, 2014 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Please join us!)

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists! Your free membership helps us teach valuable cooking skills to at-risk youth!

11/5/14

Canned Beans vs. Dry

Canned beans vs. dried beans

So, we all know that canned beans are convenient, right? Sure, they’re high in sodium, mushy, and taste like the can that they’ve sat in for who knows how long, but they’re so much easier to deal with than dry beans that they’re worth it, right?

‘Fraid not.

As I tell our MY KITCHEN students…if you have the culinary skill to pour yourself a glass of water, you can rehydrate dry beans into an ingredient that is cheaper, tastier, and much much healthier for you.

In fact, just to prove my point, I picked up a can of black beans, and a package of dry black beans, and did a little comparison experiment…

Let’s start at the end. Comparatively, the nutritional data for canned beans vs. dried beans is pretty similar…until you get to the sodium:

Sodium in dried beans

Dried beans – 20mg of sodium per serving. Not too bad! Canned beans, however…

Sodium in canned beans

430mg of sodium per serving! PER SERVING! Ho-lee crap!

What’s worse is that they don’t even taste salty…so you’re probably going to add MORE salt to whatever recipe you use them in.

FYI…a large order of McDonald’s French fries is a measly 290mg of sodium…that’s right, a half-cup of canned beans, plain, is more than 1/3  MORE sodium that a large order of Mickey D’s salt sticks.

Yikes!

Oh, and speaking of healthy…

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists! Your free membership helps us teach valuable cooking skills to at-risk youth!

Okay, so how about taste? Well, I can’t take a picture of how much better the cooked (formerly dried) beans tasted, but without the metallic aftertaste and chalky starch that the canned beans had – and, yes, I rinsed them – I could, surprise, surprise…taste the beans!

And the beans were delicious.

Beans soaking

Beans beginning to soak

So how about ease of use?

Well, yes, dried beans have to be re-hydrated, and that takes a little time, but seriously…it’s not like you’re having to stand at the sink, patiently basting each bean with water until it’s ready to cook.

You need a bowl, some water, and room on the kitchen counter for Pete’s sake.

Cover the beans with 2-3 inches of cool clean water, 8-12 hours before you plan to start cooking, and then walk away. That’s it! Most folks let them sit overnight.

Beans soaking

Quick Soaking

If that’s too much time for you, try the one hour “quick soak” method:

Place beans in a pot and cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil and simmer briskly for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Drain.

Boo-yah! You’re beans are ready to cook!

Before we go one, let’s dispel a common myth:

The Musical Fruit

Common kitchen lore has it that soaked dried beans cause more… intestinal turbulence, if you know what I mean…than canned beans.

Not so much.

Beans are loaded with fiber and some complex sugars like alpha-galactosides, which aren’t particularly compatible with the human digestive system.  Bacteria in our gut gobbles up those sugars, releasing carbon dioxide.

In other words, they kinda have the same problem with them that we have!

One of the primary alpha-galactosides in those beans is called stachyose, and studies have found that a long soak (4 hours or more) led to a 28% reduction in stachyose (about the same as the canning process), but a quick-soak (1 minute boil, 1 hour soak) removed 42.5% of stachyose.

So, yeah…do your co-workers, your loved ones, and your poor innocent pets a favor…quick soak your beans.

Value

Lastly, lets talk dollars and sense. The .99 can produced 1 1/2 cups of rinsed black beans (minus 2oz of sludge) or about 3 servings.

Canned beans

The $1.49 bag of dried beans produced a whopping 6.5 cups of beans (after soaking & cooking plain) or 13 servings.

Dry black beans

That breaks down to around .11 per serving, versus .33 per serving for canned…1/3 the cost! To look at the another way, if the dried beans cost the same per serving as the canned beans, the bag I bought would have set me back $4.29 instead of a buck and a half.

Oh, and even better…this was fairly expensive for dry beans – you can find them for less than a buck a pound in the bulk-foods section of your grocery store.

So, there you have it…time to can the can, and go for the easy-to-prepare, better tasting, less expensive, and (much) healthier option of dried beans!

Please, just remember the quick soak…if not for us, do it for your dog.

-Chef Perry

 

10/22/14

Turkey hotdogs as part of a healthy diet…

opinion

Looking for some brains to pick…

As you know, we’re spending the month of November developing our “Dollar Dinners” – a new series of free dinner plans featuring the healthiest possible recipes we could develop that  fall at or below the average SNAP benefit allotment.

Our goal is that most will be 15-25% below the $1.50 per-serving average, as we want to allow for some fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, as well.

Here’s my question:

Obviously, at that limited of a budget, occasionally we’re going to have to go with the “best possible option”, when preferred (& more expensive) foods simply won’t fit in the weekly budget.

Growing up as I did, where I did, things like chicken-turkey hotdogs and bologna were a staple of our diet. While I’m certainly not going to advocate those as a “healthy food option”,  I’m wondering what your thoughts are on how often, if ever, items like that could be included in limited portions and as one ingredient in a otherwise healthy dish? (Something like a cabbage-zucchini stir-fry.)

  • No more than once a week
  • No more than twice per month
  • No more than once a month
  • Never!

Again, we’re making no pretense that these will be the healthiest meals one can cook, but that we’re making the best with what folks have available to them, and looking to vastly improve their current diet. The vast majority of the meals that include meat will still be a fresh, unprocessed, lean-protein options.

Please comment below!

Chef Perry

PS – We’re not interested in vegetarian or vegan commentary. These plans will include 1-2 meatless dinners per week already, so this is not the question. Thanks!

PPS – I know that subject line was pretty inflammatory…but it got you here, right? :)

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists! Your free membership helps us teach at-risk youth valuable life skills!

10/9/14

Knowing what’s in your kitchen – a printable fridge & pantry list.

Printable Food Inventory List

Reducing food waste & saving money with a food inventory list.

A favorite saying from the long-gone days of my youth was, “Knowing is half the battle” (Thanks Joe…) and this is just as true in the kitchen as it is on the battlefield.

I’m often surprised at the great lengths folks will go to to clip coupons, drive from store to store to shop loss leaders, face rude crowds and disinterested employees at bulk stores…all to save a couple of bucks on groceries that end up getting pushed to the back of the fridge and rotting there.

And, yes…I was a major player in the “40% of food in America goes to waste” scandal myself…until I decided to get organized and know what I needed to know to be a smarter consumer and a better citizen of the planet. (I love that phrase, btw, it makes me feel like Captain America…)

The second best ways you can save money…and protect your food investment is to KNOW what’s in your fridge and pantry, what you’re out of, and what you’re actually using between shopping trips.

Here’s a little something to help…

Printable Food Inventory List (Excel)

Print this excel spreadsheet, keep it on the door of the fridge, and make a habit to updating it when you take something out, or put something in. It’s just that easy!

Also, if you have a big family, or go through a lot of a certain items, jot down the number of the item you want to keep on hand if possible, next to the product name. Example: Tuna (6) This will help you remember that your total inventory of canned tuna should be six cans, and so you can adjust your shopping list accordingly.

 

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Now this is a very basic list, based on what happens to be in my fridge and pantry (minus a couple of items you just don’t need to know about), so feel free to tweak and customize as needed to fit your family.

Oh, and if you don’t have Excel, here’s a PDF version. It’s not as easily customized, but it’ll work!

Printable Food Inventory List (PDF)

Here’s to saving money and reducing waste…you domestic superhero, you!

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

PS – In case you’re wondering what the “first best way” you can save money, and protect your food investment is…well, that easy…

Stick to a weekly meal plan and itemized grocery shopping list so you always know what you need, what you’ve got, and what you’re shopping for! In fact, you can sign up for ours right here, right now, and it’s FREE!

See what I did there? :)

08/17/13

5 ways to outsmart snack cravings

cravings

First of all let’s get one thing straight:

Struggling with food cravings doesn’t mean your weak…let’s kick that notion in the butt, straight off. Most often, the foods we crave are processed carbohydrates, which change the brain’s chemistry by increasing the level of serotonin, our feel-good neurochemical.

food-cravingsOur brain will remember how that food made you feel and create neural pathways that trigger addictive cravings when you experience a similar stimulus.

Continue reading

08/6/13

How to Grow Your Own Garden Indoors

Indoor Gardening

How to Grow Your Own Garden Indoors
Marcela De Vivo, Guest Blogger for hautemealz.com

Those living in apartment buildings, townhomes or suburban areas where grassy space and good ground is hard to come by, have few options when it comes to planting their own food.

The only real solution is to move your garden indoors.

If you have the extra space, an indoor garden can be an incredibly fun and successful endeavor, and will save you the work of having to till up an area of land or go outside to take care of it.

In order for an indoor garden to be successful, you need to spend a little bit of money and make sure you have the right equipment and items on hand (as well as a little bit of extra space in your home).

Having a garden inside your home still requires the same amount of work and attention that an outdoor garden would take, therefore, make sure that you are prepared to commit a reasonable amount of time and resources before you start the process.

Once you’re ready, here’s how to get things started.

vegetable-growing

1. Pick a Location

No matter how big of a home you might own, space always seems to be at a premium. Typically, a basement or porch would be the best place for an indoor garden, but just make do with what you have and choose the area of your home that is best suited for the job.

You might consider picking a spot where you can open a window to allow fresh air in or an area that gets a healthy amount of sunlight from a window.

Sunlight will be more necessary if you don’t plan to buy indoor lightning for your garden, but just take that into account ahead of time.

seed-starting2009-5-l

2. Things to Buy

Once you have a location established, you’re going to need to invest in your indoor garden project. How much you need to buy will ultimately depend upon what you already have at your disposal and what you can find around the house.

Regardless of how you obtain them, make sure you have the following items on hand for when you’re ready to start your garden:

  • Light — As mentioned earlier, light may or may not be necessary, depending on where you have your garden located. If you’re going to keep the garden where it won’t get much sunlight, you’ll need to invest in a few heat lamps or some plant growth lighting.
  • Potting Soil — Potting soil is effective for growing seedlings and not tremendously expensive. If you’ve already got dirt, you can still use it, but a mixture of regular dirt and potting soil is still advisable.
  • Seeds — This is one of the more obvious items on our checklist. Be discretionary about what seeds you buy based on how much space you have. Anything that grows really tall or spreads out (like corn or cantaloupe) probably isn’t going to work well indoors, so stick to the basic veggies and flowers.
  • Containers — You’ll need two different size containers; a small one for seedlings and larger containers for transplanting once the seedlings mature. You will likely already find these around your home, so just make sure you have both sizes available before you start.
  • Support Beams or Shelving — You’ll want to have your plants raised so you can easily tend to them, which is one of the biggest advantages when gardening indoors. How advanced this system is might depend on your lighting situation, but just make sure you can keep everything raised and adequately supported.

when-start-seeds-indoors-1

3. Transplanting to Larger Containers

Once your seedlings start to mature, you’ll need to get them into deeper containers with more soil so that they can grow and begin to bear fruit.

The depth of those containers will depend on what kind of plants you’re growing and what they require in terms of space. Plants will usually have space requirements that include depth for rooting and space between other plants.

Putting in the Work

Once you have everything in place, it’s just a matter of consistent watering, nurturing and caring for your plants. Growing a garden inside can be tough, but if you’re willing to put the work in, you can see a lot of success and bag a lot of fresh vegetables.

Since a garden can be such an enjoyable and rewarding experience, it’s worth a try at least once, even if you don’t have much of a green thumb.

Either way, don’t let the limited space of urban living be a deterrent!

-Marcela

MarcellaMarcela De Vivo is a freelance writer whose writing covers a wide range of topics, including everything from tech and manufacturing to fitness and beauty. In addition to sharing her tips on how to improve home gardens, she also writes content for ProcessSensors.