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Eat Like a Greek, Feel Like a God!

Practical Nutrition would like to introduce Joe Stapleton! 

Hey there everyone! My name is Joe Stapleton. I’ve been working with Practical Nutrition for a couple of weeks now and am exited to be able to contribute my first blog post! So to keep things official, I’ll start with a little about me: I’m a Master’s Student and RD to be (both to be completed in June, yippee!) with a B.S. in Nutritional Science. I’m also a NSCA certified personal trainer and love absolutely everything about health and wellness! My love of nutrition and fitness spawned from my own personal experiences in the Marine Corps, in which I learned through the rigors of military life (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level, because you never know just what life is going throw at you!

Enough about me though. Without further ado, here is some information that will hopefully help YOUR journey to optimal health  and wellness…enjoy!

One of the diets generating a lot of buzz around both the scientific and the foodie communities lately is the Mediterranean diet. Don’t let the word diet fool you though, this is no fad. The Mediterranean diet sprang from the observation that mimicking the typical diet consumed in the Mediterranean area led to a reduction in incidence of heart disease and obesity, despite the macros of the diet being high in fat and accepting of moderate alcohol (red wine in particular). Essentially, the diet consists of eating mostly plant-based foods, with the majority of grains being whole. While high in fat, the fat comes mostly from oils and nuts. Fish and poultry are emphasized over red meat, and herbs and spices are used much more significantly to flavor dishes rather than salt. The ‘Mediterranean diet Pyramid’ is shown below to give a visual representation of the relative proportions.

The one thing about this diet that we would tweak here at Practical Nutrition though would be the significance of protein. As longtime readers/clients already know, over here at Practical Nutrition we like to skew our intake a little more in the direction of lean, organically sourced (if possible) protein. Increasing the proportion of lean protein in the diet has shown benefits for the athletic population (more efficient muscle recovery), the elderly (staving off sarcopenia and bone loss), and those looking to lose or maintain their weight (through extending the period of satiety before feeling hungry again). So we love the idea of the Mediterranean diet, and the data looks great regarding its effect on many chronic diseases, but don’t forget to keep up your intake of lean protein! 

So to celebrate this fantastically simple way of looking our food, today we’re providing a recipe for a delicious chicken, green bean, corn, and farro salad with goat cheese. With the relative proportions of ingredients, the use of the ancient Tuscan grain farro, and the inclusion of goat cheese, this makes for a decidedly Mediterranean dish. Just a little aside on farro by the way: this grain reportedly was what kept the Roman Legion’s bellies full during their long marches whilst conquering southern Europe (Spartan Race fuel, anyone?), is quick to cook, and each serving provides both 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, wow! It is wheat derived, but has decidedly less gluten than other wheat products, so those that are gluten conscious shouldn’t worry (for those readers that are gluten-free or Celiac, simply swap out the farro in the recipe for brown rice, still delicious!).

Enjoy!

Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese
Recipe Type: Lunch/dinner
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Joe Stapleton
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
  • 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 12 oz green beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups yellow corn kernals
  • 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Boil farro in a medium saucepan until just tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in skillet until golden brown, roughly 8 minutes each side. Allow to cool and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.
  3. Cook green beans in a saucepan of boiling water until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse.
  4. Mix chicken, farro, and green beans in a large bowl. Add corn and green onions.,
  5. Combine 2 tbsp oil, marjoram, and sea salt in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad, toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle with goat cheese just prior to serving. (this recipe is great chilled or room temperature!)
  7. To really capture that Mediterranean vibe, serve with red wine. Cheers!

 

Shepherd’s Pie

Hi Everyone!

I  have gotten a lot of requests for a Shepherd’s Pie recipe after I posted a picture of it last week so here it is! This recipe is definitely under the comfort foods category. It has tons of flavor and is a deep, warm dish. The best part is that because I used mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes it leaves you feeling light and satisfied.

 

Enjoy!

Amanda

 

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Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe Type: Comfort
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 3lb Organic Grassfed Beef (www.tfchealthfoods.com has great discount meat)
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 5 large Carrots (I like the multi-colored carrots from Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped Green Beans
  • 1 large head of Cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp Organic Butter
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Chili Pepper Sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add in all of your chopped vegetables and cook covered until the carrots are soft. Place vegetables in a large glass baking dish (9″x13″).
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, fill the bottom of a large sauce pan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Chop up your head of cauliflower (I like to do this over a sink because it is SUCH a mess) and place inside of a steaming basket in the large sauce pan. Steam for 5-8 minutes or until soft.
  5. Add your meat to the large pan and cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain the fat from the pan and add beef to vegetable mixture in glass baking dish.
  6. Once cauliflower is done steaming, grab your blender/food processor and in 1-2 batches (depending on the size of your machine) add cauliflower, butter, almond milk, and salt and pepper. Blend until you get a thick, creamy mixture.
  7. Before adding the mashed cauliflower to your beef and veggie mixture, add 1/2 a cup of Trader Joe’s Chili Pepper sauce and mix until everything is coated.
  8. Spread your mashed cauliflower on top of the meat and veggie mixture. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until your cauliflower is slightly browned.

Buffalo Chicken and Egg Muffins

Hello everyone!

I wanted to share a delicious and simple recipe that I have been making to have as meals or snacks. These egg muffins are great as an afternoon pick me up. They fill you up with protein and the healthy fat from the eggs leaves you feeling satisfied. Just pack them up in your lunch box and you will be all set!

Here is a link for the silicone muffins cups that I mentioned in the instructions. They are so worth buying. I use them all the time and nothing ever sticks. They are also great to make your own Reese’s with. Just melt dark chocolate and place in the bottom of the muffin cup. Then add 1/2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter and pour a little more chocolate on top. Place in the freezer and if you used those silicone cups they pop right out.

Have a great weekend!

Amanda

Buffalo Chicken Oregano and Egg Muffins
Recipe Type: Breakfast/Snack
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • .75lb of Organic Free Range Chicken Breast
  • 6 large Organic Free Range Eggs
  • 1/2 an Onion, chopped
  • 1/8 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breast seasoned with black pepper in a baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Once the chicken is done (or if you are using leftovers) place in a large bowl and shred with 2 forks or chop up with a knife.* Add your 1/8 cup of hot sauce to the chicken and mix until all pieces are coated.
  3. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and add garlic powder, oregano, and onions. Mix until even distributed.
  4. Fill silicone muffin cups halfway with egg mixture then fill the rest of the way with shredded buffalo chicken.
  5. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes to see if browned on top. Bake for a few more minutes if not.
Serving size: 1 muffin Calories: 76 Fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 1g Protein: 11g
Notes
*I usually end up using chicken that I had made in the beginning of the week. You could also prep chicken ahead of time in the crockpot and just add a little liquid (1/8 cup water, 1/8 cup Frank’s Red Hot). Then after 8 hours on low you have delicious shredded buffalo chicken.

Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)

Cobb salads are delicious and full of high protein, healthy ingredients! However, they are one of those foods you don’t really want to order at a restaurant. It’s hard to know that you’re getting  healthfully sourced ingredients, such an unprocessed, uncured bacon from humanely raised pigs, a dressing made without any vegetable/canola oil or fake mayo, and free range, organic eggs and chicken! Finding a restaurant that values the integrity of all of the main ingredients of a Cobb salad is tough- that’s why I love making these at home! The dressing is my favorite part…check out the recipe and let us know what you think!

 

Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups organic mixed greens
  • 4 slices all natural, uncured bacon (cooked crispy and crumbled into bits)
  • 2 organic hardboiled eggs (sliced into pieces)
  • 1 medium organic roma tomato
  • 1 medium organic chicken breast (you will need 1 TBLS coconut oil, 2 TBLS coconut flour, 4 TBLS coconut flakes, and 1 egg if you’re not using leftover chicken)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 carrots (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 4 TBLS fresh dill (finely chopped)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. First cook your chicken breast, or slice some leftover chicken you have into strips. I like to cut mine into strips, batter it with 1 egg and 2 TBLS coconut flour and then sauté lightly in 1/2 TBLS coconut oil in a pan in coconut oil for about 4-5 minutes, or until brown. I then place the strips on a baking sheet on the other 1/2 TBLS coconut oil and top with coconut flakes and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees (no longer because you don’t want the chicken to dry out). If you don’t like coconut chicken you can do this same process with olive oil and sea salt/pepper.
  2. Next, place the mixed greens on your plates and top with all of your vegetables, crumbled bacon, and sliced egg. I like to do it in rows, but you can do different style of layer depending on your visual preference.
  3. Lastly, to make the dressing simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together until well combined. Add a touch more oil and lemon juice if you like it thinner. When the chicken is done, place the strips on your salad while still warm, put the dressing on the side in a small bowl, and enjoy!
  4. PN RX (per salad): 4 free veggies, 1.5 protein, 3 fats

Avocado Dream Salad

avocado salad

My younger sister, Amy, recently got back from Hawaii and brought this delicious recipe with her! The Avocado Dream Salad is similar to a tuna or chicken salad. Chop up a bunch of vegetables into little cubes then use the mashed avocado to mix in like a mayonnaise. You can even add some chopped up grilled chicken or fish in there to complete the meal. This also tastes great with some goat cheese or nuts crumbled on top. It is the perfect, refreshing recipe for the warm weather coming our way. Enjoy!

 

 

Avocado Dream Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Amy
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 avocado, scooped out and mashed
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped up into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Chop up all of your vegetables into small pieces and put in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon on top and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the crushed garlic.
  3. With clean hands, pour avocado on top and mix into the vegetables with your hands. Keep mixing until you get everything covered with the avocado, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  4. You can top with some nuts and/or goat cheese.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

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Everyone should try out this healthy side dish that is full of vitamins, minerals, and complex carbs. I have had sweet potato and quinoa cakes in the past and loved them so I decided to make my own at home. I love the quinoa cakes at whole foods but they have Canola oil in them so I try to avoid them. Canola oil is inflammatory as are other vegetable oils. This recipe is a little different from the sweet flavored cakes. It has more of a Mexican flavor but I am going to make a sweet version too. These cakes would be a great addition to any meal!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked (1 c dry)
  • 1.5 Tbsp organic butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • sea salt
  • 1/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs or almond flour
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat up a large skillet and add butter, sweet potatoes, and red onions. Cook on medium heat until soft (about 15 minutes).
  3. Bring 2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa and bring down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.
  4. In a large bowl, add sweet potatoes and mashed. Add the cooked quinoa and mix well.
  5. Now add all of your seasonings and bread crumbs. Mix well.
  6. Add 1 egg and mix with hands until everything is incorporated.
  7. Form into medium size patties. I made 17.
  8. Place patties on cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes then flip and bake for another 10 minutes.
Serving size: 1 cake Calories: 83 Fat: 2 Carbohydrates: 13 Protein: 2

 

 

Horseradish Almond Crusted Chicken

Chicken

This recipe was inspired by a mustard crusted chicken my Mom used to make when I was growing up. I think it had breadcrumbs and a bunch of other seasonings including ground mustard. I really wanted to replicate an even healthier, gluten-free version. This recipe is very simple and easy so even if you are new to cooking you will be able to handle it. It tasted good cold on a salad too! Enjoy!

 

Horseradish Almond Crusted Chicken
Recipe Type: Lunch/Dinner
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2lb Organic Chicken Breast Tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour
  • 4-5 Tbsp Horseradish (I like plain old Stop and Shop Brand)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Organic Butter/Coconut Oil
  • .5 Tbsp Garlic Powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Melt the organic butter or coconut oil (on stove top or microwave).
  2. Place your chicken in a large, glass baking dish and cover with butter/coconut oil.
  3. Now sprinkle the 1/2 cup of almond flour and garlic powder over each piece of chicken. Spread horseradish over each piece as well.
  4. I sprinkled everything on top then mixed it all together when I put the horseradish on top so everything is combined. You can do this with your fingers to make it easier.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until center is no longer pink.
Serving size: 4oz Fat: 6g Carbohydrates: 2g Protein: 28g

Chicken Parmesan With Mung Bean Fettuccini

It’s a snowy day in New England and on snowy days when I’m stuck at home I like to cook! I can remember growing up and every time we were stuck in the house because of the snow my Mom would start cooking up a storm of good food. I had some organic chicken that I got on sale, marinara sauce, and this Mung Bean Fettuccini so I decided to make chicken parmesan. It came out SO good! I used tapioca flour before I breaded them this time and it really made a huge difference. The breading didn’t fall off at all and they came out a lot crispier. The Mung Bean Pasta is from this brand Explore Asian. They have a ton of different types of pastas made from beans and seeds. They have very few ingredients (usually just the bean and water) and taste great! They also have a lot of protein and fiber in most of the different types, which is a plus. I definitely recommend trying some out! Enjoy the recipe!

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Chicken Parmesan With Mung Bean Fettucini
Recipe Type: Lunch/Dinner
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 13
Ingredients
  • 2.5-3lb Thinly Cut Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1.5 cups Rao’s Marinara Sauce*
  • 1Tbsp Basil
  • 1Tbsp Oregano
  • 1Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2Tbsp Thyme
  • 4-5Tbsp Butter or Coconut Oil
  • 1 Bag Mung Bean Fettuccini
  • Spinach to plate
  • Herb Goat cheese (or any other) to top with
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare 3 bowls for dipping and breading chicken. Bowl 1: tapioca flour; Bowl 2: 2 eggs, whisked; Bowl 3: almond flour and rest of seasonings. Place a plate at the end of the bowl station. Then place a large glass baking dish next to that to put the chicken in after you pan fry them.
  3. Heat large pan with 2.5Tbsp of butter or coconut oil (so a total of about 5Tbsp for 2 batches). As soon as you turn your pan on start preparing the chicken strips.
  4. First, cover with tapioca flour, then dip in egg, then cover with almond flour mixture. You can place the chicken on the plate until the pan is ready.
  5. Fry chicken 2 minutes on each side. I did 2 batches of the chicken breasts in a large pan.Once the chicken is done browning on each side place in the large glass baking dish.
  6. Get a large pot and set up on stove. Fill pot with water to cook pasta in. Turn burner on high.When water boils at add pasta and lower heat to medium for 7-8 minutes.
  7. Bake chicken in oven for 15-20 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
  8. When pasta is done, strain in colander and set aside.
  9. To plate take about 2/3 cup pasta and place a handful of spinach on top. Then place 1 chicken strip or 1/13th of recipe (mine had 13 strips) on top of the spinach and top with your favorite cheese. I used about an ounce herb goat cheese that tasted delicious.
Calories: 527 Fat: 24 Carbohydrates: 26 Protein: 62
Notes
*You can use any pasta sauce you want. I just like the Rao’s Homemade Marinara that I found at Stew Leonard’s because it doesn’t have any sugar or vegetable oils in it.

Homemade Zesty Herb Dressing

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Store bought dressings often contain inflammatory vegetable oils that can harm our bodies. It is very difficult to find dressings actually made with olive oil and that do not have offending ingredients. Many people will just use oil and vinegar but that can get boring. Making your own dressing is VERY easy! You just need olive oil, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, some herbs and a blender. Using a blender allows the mixture to emulsify and not separate.

Homemade dressings are also a great way to incorporate more unfiltered apple cider vinegar into your diet. To learn more about apple cider vinegar check out our blog post on it here.

 

Homemade Zesty Herb Dressing
Recipe Type: Dressing
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 2 tsp Parsley, dried
  • 1 tsp Thyme, dried
  • 2 tsp Basil, dried
  • 1/4 tsp Local Maple Syrup or Stevia
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes.
  2. Store in a glass container. Does not need to be refrigerated.
Serving size: 1 Tbsp Calories: 63 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 0 Protein: 0

Lemon Garlic and Herb Crockpot Chicken

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Here is another low maintenance and delicious meal! I had chicken breasts in the freezer and lemons in the fridge so I decided to make lemon chicken. I did not want to put a lot of energy into baking it or sautéing anything so I just threw it in the crock pot. It came out moist and full of flavor. I was very pleasantly surprised. I will definitely be making this again! I enjoyed it on a salad with some black beans and avocado. Enjoy!

 

Lemon Garlic and Herb Crockpot Chicken
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 6 Organic Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Lemon, thinly slices
  • 4 Cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2c water
  • Mrs. Dash Original Blend
  • Oregano
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Place half of lemons and all of the garlic on the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Place chicken breasts on top of the lemon and garlic. Cover in oregano and seasoning then turn over and add salt and pepper.
  3. Add 1/2c of water to protect crock pot.
  4. Heat on low for 7 hours.
Notes
4oz of chicken breasts= 1 Protein