Quinoa with Sautéed Vegetables and Caramelized Onions

Quinoa (keen-wah). If you haven’t tried it, you really should give it shot. It’s a pseudocereal with a slightly nutty flavor, which makes it a great alternative to rice. Quinoa is extremely nutritious and has a very high protein content (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans and athletes.  Unlike wheat or rice, which is low in lysine, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it an unusually complete protein source. And the best part about it is…it tastes great! For this recipe, we prepared it like you would rice and mixed it with sautéed vegetables and caramelized onions for a quick, delicious healthy meal. You can use any vegetables you like in this dish…everything seems to go well with quinoa and you can find it just about anywhere these days…Nature’s Earthly Choice is a great brand.

Please click here for a printable recipe.

Oven Baked Spicy Crispy French Fries

crispy spicy oven friesEveryone loves french fries, but deep frying at home is messy and the clean up sucks. These oven baked fries are just as tasty, a little bit healthier and way easier to make and clean up after than the deep-fried variety. The secret is the pre-soak that removes some of the starch and helps the fries to crisp up on the outside while staying tender and moist on the inside. Pair these with my Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings and you have a great finger-licking good, faux deep-fried, quasi-healthy meal that everyone will love. If you prefer thinner, crispier garlicky oven baked fries, please click here.

Please click here for the printable recipe.

Crispy Baked Kale Chips – Another Simply Delicious Healthy Snack

Another simple, healthy snack that you’re guaranteed to love – a great alternative to potato chips (although they’re really good, too!)

  • Tear the kale leaves into approx. 2″ bite size pieces (discard any thick stems)
  • Wash and dry the pieces thoroughly (a salad spinner is best for this)
  • Toss the dried leaves with the ¼ cup olive oil and ¾ tsp of kosher salt, coating all pieces well
  • Place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350˚ oven for about 10-13 minutes ’til crumbly and crisp
  • Let cool and serve…

If you like, when you remove them from the oven, you can also sprinkle the crispy kale chips with some lime zest, cayenne, lemon pepper, Parmesan, chile powder, garlic powder or just about any other flavor or mix of spices, to add a personal touch.

Vegetarian Kung Pao with Broccoli and Peanuts

Vegetarian Kung Pao with Broccoli and PeanutsThis fantastic recipe is originally from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds, a cookbook based on the Asian philosophy of food as a health-giving entity. According to the author, the secret is in the Chinese holistic approach to food and its balance: countering yin, or cooling, foods, with yang, or hot, foods and neutralizers like rice and noodles.  But don’t just try this recipe because you buy into the Chinese philosophy (although a lot of it makes sense…I mean, they have been cooking for over 4,000 years.  In 2005, the oldest intact noodles yet discovered were found in Lajia, China and were estimated to be over 4,000 years old…but I digress)… just make it because it is one of the most delicious, satisfying and authentic tasting recipes I’ve found for homemade Chinese food, while still being relatively easy to prepare…and, believe it or not, it even manages to make tofu taste great!

Please click here for the  printable recipe.

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Chicken and Vegetable Stir FryThis is a great one skillet recipe for an easy, incredibly delicious and healthy stir fry. It does have a lot of ingredients, but as with most recipes like this, feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables for the ones you may not care for…just make sure to cut the pieces about the same size so they cook evenly…that’s all there is to it. Also, if you don’t have hoisin sauce on hand, here is a simple recipe that produces a reasonable facsimile that works really well with this recipe. Serve over rice or rice noodles, and make a big batch, because it tastes just as good the second (or even third) day.

Please click here for the printable Stir Fry recipe.

Click here for the printable Homemade Hoisin Sauce recipe.

Roasted Chicken and Cauliflower – Easy, Quick, Healthy and Cheap

Roasted Chicken and Cauliflower This is my favorite kind of recipe…Easy, quick, healthy and cheap…but best of all, it just tastes great. It’s easy because it uses just a few basic ingredients…it’s quick, with a prep time of about 15 minutes and a total time of about 40 minutes…it’s healthy because cauliflower is high in fiber and a good source Vitamin C and folate…and cheap, well, because the ingredients don’t cost too much. If you prefer the flavor of Balsamic vinegar, you can substitute that for the Sherry vinegar in the final step…either way, it’s delicious!

Please click here for the printable recipe.

Crustless Broccoli Quiche….Low Carb and Still Delicious

OK…I personally could care less whether this is high-carb, low-carb or no-carb…all I know is that it tastes (and looks) great, is really simple to prepare and you can just pop a slice in the microwave for a quick breakfast. If you happen to live with someone who cares about carbs (like I do), the best thing about this dish is that you can really enjoy it together (you don’t have to fake it)…it’s that good! If you want an even healthier version, just substitute Eggbeaters for the eggs. And for a great variation, replace the onions with a cup or two of caramelized onions…it really adds a ton of flavor to the quiche.

Please click here for a printable copy of the recipe.

Simply Sensational Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions are terrific on everything… pizza, burgers, hotdogs, chops, steaks, brisket and are delicious in scrambled eggs, quiche or mashed potatoes….they even make an interesting (and delicious) dessert when served on sliced apples with a side of cheese. In fact, they’re great all by themselves…I guarantee you’ll find yourself eating them right out of the pan.

I think that I first read about this technique for caramelizing onions in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine years ago and have been using it ever since.

When onions are cooked low and slow for an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, imparting an intense sweet flavor and a beautiful deep mahogany color.

Caramelized onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or they can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Please click here for the printable recipe.

OXO Pop Up Vegetable (and Chicken Wing) Steamer

OXO Vegetable SteamerAlthough I did post a technique a while back for simply steaming a small quantity of vegetables, there are times when that method isn’t practical (like for prepping my Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings). For these times, I highly recommend the Oxo Good Grips Pop-Up Steamer.

All you have to do is press on the handle and it pops up to make it safe and easy to insert into and remove from a steaming pot. One of the best feature is that you can unscrew the handle and it’s then perfect for steaming larger items like fish fillets (or huge batches of chicken wings!). It has foldable feet to keep the basket above the boiling water and it also expands to fit just about any pot. It’s a really cool kitchen tool with multiple uses…a practical (and inexpensive) addition to any kitchen!

And, if you really want to steam a huge batch of wings this simple, Asian-style 3 Tiered Aluminum steamer is great…it’s also perfect for steaming a couple of different vegetables (or a variety of seafood) all at the same time for a quick, healthy dinner.

One Dish Steamed Vegetables (with easy cleanup!)

This is a simple one dish, easy clean-up technique to steam a serving or two of vegetables. I’m using broccoli here, but it works with anything. Cut the broccoli into bite size pieces, place them into a microwaveable bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Take a knife and poke a few holes in one side of the plastic wrap. This is to let the steam out and, after microwaving, to strain the water through. Microwave on high for about 1½ minutes. Take the bowl out of the microwave (careful…it will be hot) and tilt it over the sink to drain the water out through the poked holes. Then just take off the plastic wrap, drop in a tablespoon of butter, some seasoning (I love a pinch of kosher salt and a shake or two of McCormick Lemon & Pepper seasoning), give it a stir and it’s ready to eat. Fast, simple, tasty and best of all, easy to clean  up!