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Chicken Enchiladas

14 Nov

This is one of my favorite meals… EVER! It’s so delicious, and rather than being packed full of heaping amounts of cheese and excess fats (like you might find at some restaurants) this version is made with tons of veggies, chicken, cheese, corn tortillas and enchilada sauce. It’s very simple and the best part is that you can customize the ingredients to your own preference.

You will need:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted (or Rotel)
  • 1 package of chicken breast (2 or 3 breasts)– or use leftover chicken
  • 1 package of cheese (I prefer Mexican blend but it’s your choice!)
  • 1 package of corn tortillas
  • 1 package of Frontera Enchilada Sauce
  • Cumin, Salt, Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Dice all the veggies and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Put in a large pan together with the canned diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper over low/medium heat.
  2. Chicken: For raw chicken, you can either cut it into small pieces, add to the veggie mixture, season with cumin and cook. OR for shredded chicken you can cook the chicken ahead of time (in boiling water with salt, in the crock pot, in the oven, etc) and then take the chicken breast and shred it. Using a fork, go from top to bottom (rather than side to side) and the meat should peel off in shreds. For chicken that has already been cooked, you can just follow the instructs to shred it.
  3. Once you have your cooked/shredded chicken, add it to the veggie mixture if you have not already done so.
  4. Heat your tortillas a few at a time in a pan so that they become more sturdy. Once heated on both sides, place the tortilla in the baking dish and fill with chicken/veggie mix. Wrap tightly and place the side with the exposed ends facing down. Repeat this process until you have made one full row of enchiladas.
  5. Top the row with cheese and enchilada sauce. Repeat the process to make a second row sitting on top of the bottom row. Top again with cheese and enchilada sauce.
  6. Bake the enchiladas at 350for about 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!!

The Wheat Free Challenge

9 Nov

For the next two weeks I will be challenging myself to a diet free of wheat. This sudden diet change is not to lose weight, but to find out if I’m allergic to wheat! My younger cousins Sawyer & Sander are allergic to wheat and it has prompted me to do some research, but I haven’t fully followed through with the actual testing because lets be frank here people– wheat tends to be in really delicious foods. Bagels, bread, pizza, crackers, cookies, cupcakes, banana bread, beer, pasta– the list goes on and on! But my holistic doctor Aunt & Uncle in Arizona have told me to the easiest way to find out if you are allergic to wheat is to go two weeks without it, then eat a bowl of your favorite pasta. They warn though, that when you do eat the pasta, be sure to be near a bed/couch because you could immediately fall asleep from putting the allergy back in your body.

It’s actually thought that a lot of people have a wheat or gluten allergy, but because wheat is in a lot of foods, it seems that our bodies just get used to it. One way our body fights off toxins is to flush them out of our systems. By doing this, our bodies hold onto excess water weight and water retention (also called edema) and our lymphatic system tries to flush the toxin out of our bodies. If you constantly feel somewhat bloated or have a few of the other symptoms below, you should consider trying to cut out wheat for two weeks!

Foods I’ll be AVOIDING:

• White and Whole Wheat Bread
• Wheat flour
• Cookies, Muffins, Cakes made with white or wheat flour
• Crackers
• Breading on “fried” foods
• Pizza crust and dough
• Pasta (semolina, whole wheat, artichoke)
• Soy Sauce
• Beer
• Whiskey and some Vodka’s
• Cous Cous
• Tempura
• Many packaged foods—check labels!
• Malt, malt flavoring and caramel coloring (which is in dark colored soda’s such as Coke)
• Wheat Cereals—i.e., Raisin Bran, Fiber One, Cheerios, Grape nuts, Lucky Charms
• Oats and Oatmeal (wheat free but not gluten free)

Instead, you can still eat startchy foods like corn, potatoes, white and brown rice, as well as corn tortillas, breads and pasta made of rice flour. A good place to find these is in your grocer’s freezer isle. Also look for foods labeled “gluten free” which means it’s safe for a wheat/gluten free diet.

SYMPTOMS OF WHEAT/GLUTEN INTOLLERANCE:
• Arthritis
• Water retention
• Gas
• Acid reflux
• Bloated stomach
• Constipation
• Trouble losing or gaining weight
• Chest pains
• Depression or mood swings
• Diarrhea
• Eczema
• Feeling dizzy or faint
• Joint and muscle aches and pains
• Nausea or vomiting
• Palpitations
• Psoriasis
• Skin rashes
• Sneezing
• Suspected irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)/similar effects
• Swollen throat or tongue
• Tiredness and lethargy
• Unexplained cough
• Unexplained runny nose
• Watery or itchy eyes

Even though this diet change is not for weight loss purposes, I did weight myself just to see how a wheat free diet affects the number on the scale 🙂 I’ll be posting some great gluten free recipes during these next two weeks, so stay tuned!

Any Green Tex readers out there who are already on a wheat/gluten free diet and care to share tips or stories? And if you’re joining in on the challenge let me know so we can share stories, post results, etc!

Andddd the Wheat Free Challenge starts… NOW!

Let Me Upgrade Ya!

7 Oct

Oh college life, you were so good to me. I basically ate whatever and at whatever time I wanted to. But since graduating and feeling the pressure to ‘grow up’ I’ve changed a few things to upgrade my usual choices. Though I like to think (key word here people) that I make somewhat healthy food choices, it’s incredibly discouraging to look at a label and not understand what some of the words mean. Hydrogenated this, saturated that, and if natural flavor is so freaking natural then why won’t they tell us what’s in it?! I am certainly no saint when it comes to cutting junk food out of my life, but below are some delicious upgrades I’ve made and had to share.

Salted & Oiled Cashew Pieces upgraded to Organic Whole Raw Cashews

Did you know that cashews are actually somewhat sweet? I finally figured that out after switching to whole, raw cashews. The salt was the addicting factor and without it I can now enjoy a moderate amount of cashews like nature intended. You can find these in the bulk bins of Whole Foods and Central Market.

 

organic raw cashews

 

Anything gummy! Watermelons, peach-o’s, gummy bears upgraded to Blueberry Acai Organic Gummy Pandas from Bissinger’s Naturals

Why are gummies so addicting?? Probably because they’re filled with corn syrup and then coated with some more sugar on the outside. They have some pretty addicting qualities, but its easy to quit them all together when you hear that high fructose corn syrup is a major factor in making America obese. HFCS leads to weight gain, obesity and even diabetes. So do something good for yourself if you’re dying for something sweet and gummy, and try these organic gummy pandas with acai berries and made from organic tapioca syrup! I haven’t seen these in stores– I actually tried them at a hotel in San Fran– but you buy them online here!

 

 

Organic Gummy Pandas, $4

 

Mango Sorbet upgraded to Organic Nectarines

Sorbet- mango, raspberry, lemon, ALL FLAVORS- is so delicious. I could seriously eat it every night. But its full of sugar and definitely not something I want to eat right before I go to bed. So instead I switched to organic nectarines. This fruit is so sweet and juicy—definitely a satisfying switch from the extra sugar packed into sorbet. You can find these at your local grocery store (in season: May– September) or at a farmers market.

 

delicious nectarines

 

Goldfish upgraded to Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies

Let’s be honest here- goldfish are pretty delicious. And addicting. But the hydrogenated oils are something I can’t get over. I’ve switched to Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies which uses ingredients grown without chemicals and pesticides. They also don’t use any hydrogenated oils or GMO’s. So now I feel less guilty about eating small, animal shaped cheese crackers. You can buy them online or find them at Target.

 

organic cheddar bunnies, $4

 

Splenda upgraded to Stevia.

They’re both non-calorie sweeteners that are alternatives to sugar. Splenda is made in a chemical factory, while stevia is from a plant. And if you’re not into either, then use sugar in the raw, which is unrefined sugar to be used in moderation!

 

Stevia

 

BBQ Lays chips upgraded to POP BBQ chips

I’m pretty sure it’s in a southern gal’s DNA that she’ll love BBQ. But skip greasy fatty BBQ Lays and instead opt for a newfound obsession, POP chips. They’re super low in fat, as satisfying as regular chips, and best of all, they’re actually yummy! Easiest place to find these are at Target.

 

 

bbq pop chips, $2

 

Butter Popcorn upgraded to Newman’s Own Organic Pop’s-Corn 94% Fat Free

How delicious is buttered-up popcorn? Pretty darn good! But its all artificial flavoring (which is made in a chemical factory) and something that’s easy to give up for a healthier alternative. I love the Newman’s Own 94% Fat Free popcorn. Deeeeelicious! And found in all grocery stores!

 

Pop's-Corn, $4

 

Vodka Sprite Lime upgraded to Vodka Soda Lime

Sprite is pure high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring so switching my signature drink to include club soda rather than sprite was an easy change. And being able to taste the vodka in my drink? Easy way to keep from becoming sloshed.

What’s All The Buzz About?

6 Oct

Bees are pretty powerful insects packed into a little size. No I’m not talking about the pain of their sting! I’m actually referring to the important role they play in helping to make our food. Bees pollinate the flowers of many of the delicious foods we love to eat— fruits, nuts, and plants.

Their roles in helping to make our food are so important that every year, about 1 million hives of honey bees (nearly half the population) are trucked to the almond orchards in California each spring for pollination. New York’s apple crop requires about 30,000 hives and Maine’s blueberry crop uses about 50,000 hives each year.

 

Image Courtesy of MorgueFile

But in the past few years, bees have been mysteriously disappearing leading to front-page headlines questioning why. So far, researchers believe that one in three honey bee colonies have died. One reason that researchers have come across is Colony Collapse Disorder or “CCD”. When a hive experiences CCD, the honey bees mysteriously desert their hive and die. CCD symptoms have been reported by more than thirty-five states across the U.S. and in many other countries. Possible factors contributing to the problem include viruses, mites, chemical exposure and poor nutrition.

Haagen-Dazs has taken note of the sudden bee catastrophe, ultimately because TONS of their delicious ingredients are all in thanks to bees, but also because they are committed to helping get the bee population back on track as well as educating their customers about how to help. They started the Save The Honey Bee Foundation to help educate their customers and to donate to the research groups at two universities that are hoping to solve the crisis. So far, Haagen-Dazs has donated:

  • $275,000 to Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • $225,000 to University of California at Davis, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility

You can check out their website to see what those funds are being used for!

These are all of the  Bee-Built ingredients that Haagen-Dazs uses:

  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Mango
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pomegranates
  • Coconuts
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts

 

So how can YOU help out?

  • Respect the bee. Scared of bees? Don’t be! There much more interested in making their delicious honey, pollinating flowers and being part of their little bee hive than in stinging you. And as Phoebe from Friends taught us all, a bee dies after it stings a human. So leave them be! If a hive is somewhere that’s an inconvenience to you, then call you local bee peeps who will remove the hive consciously and relocate it to a bee friendly area.
  • Bee Friendly. If you live in a house and take care of your own lawn, take a few steps to becoming more friendly towards the bees. Cut back on pesticides and fertilizers as these chemicals are lethal to bees and they can weaken their immune systems, allowing parasites, disease and other stresses to finish them off.
  • Bee Beautiful. Bees need plants for nectar and pollen so consider planting some beautiful new flowers. They’re attracted to blue, purple and yellow flowers, and you can always consult your neighborhood nursery on which kind of plants are best for bees. Consider also putting a beautiful birdbath in your lawn, as bees need water to survive and enjoy shallow, calm sources.
  • Support the Bee. Haagen-Dazs will continue to support their foundation as long as they’re still in business. Consider trying their delicious Vanilla Honey Bee flavor! They also have a store with t-shirts like the cute one above. You can also buy honey that is locally raised, as well as support products that are made of beeswax from a company that is supporting the research of bees!

Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Honey Bee

 

Burt’s Bees Medicated Lip Balm $4

 

Beeswax Lipbalm

 

How To: Pasta with Squash & Cauliflower

29 Sep

sooooo yummy!

So a few years ago I saw chef Lidia Bastianich cooking this to-die-for dish on The Today Show. I literally went out that day to my local Central Market, bought everything I needed and whipped up this yummy meal at home. It’s an incredible dish that could be considered “comfort food” without all the extra fat, but packed full with yummy flavor. It does take a little time to prep/cut the veggies, but the rest is easy! It’s perfect for this time of year since butternut squash is in season. If you’re in the mood for a delicious and easy meal, then give this recipe a try!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for lower calorie recipe substitute half for water)
  • 3 plump garlic cloves, crushed, peeled
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced (1 cup slices)
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2″ cubes
  • 3 cups cauliflower, cut in small florets (about 1-inch)
  • 4 tablespoons small capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste, plus more for cooking pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
  • 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
  • 1 pound [dry] fettuccine or bavette
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino
Preparation

Pour the olive oil into the big skillet and set over medium-high heat. Scatter in the sliced garlic and let it start sizzling. Stir in the onion slices and cook for a couple of minutes to wilt. Spill in all the cut squash and cauliflower pieces, scatter the capers, salt and peperoncino on top and with tongs toss all together for a minute or so. Pour a cup of water into the skillet, cover tightly and steam the vegetables for 2 or 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes along with a cup of water sloshed in the tomato containers. Stir well and cover. When the tomato juices are boiling, adjust the heat to keep them bubbling gently. Cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are softened, uncover and continue cooking to reduce the pan juices to a good consistency for dressing the pasta, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and keep at a low simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, heat the salted pasta cooking water to a rolling boil (at least 6 quarts water and a tablespoon salt) . Drop in the fettuccine or bavette and cook barely al dente. Lift them from the water, drain for a moment, then drop onto the simmering vegetables. Toss and cook all together for a couple of minutes, over moderate heat. Moisten the dish with pasta water if it seems dry; cook rapidly to reduce the juices if they’re splashing in the skillet.

When the pasta is perfectly cooked and robed with sauce, turn off the heat. Sprinkle over the grated cheese, toss into the pasta and serve.

Recipe Link