How to Break Out of a Rut & Starfruit Salad Recipe

crossfit bar

Adding CrossFit to my running training is one way I’ve broken through a rut! I love the CrossFit WODs because you never know what it will be!

Ever feel like you’re stuck in rut? Going nowhere, immobilized with indifference, apathy, laziness or the even fear of trying something new? I know I have. Most of my ruts have come on slowly over time like the long deep tracks made by the repeated passage of bikes on a trail. I think about times when I’ve been on auto-pilot, just mindlessly along for the ride of life. Usually I’m the lucky type and reasonably good things come my way without too much of an ordeal, so why rock the boat? But often I wonder what I have been missing by not putting myself out there more. Tending to a super-hectic work-family-training schedule,

try-something-newI am also guilty taking the easy way out, doing things mindlessly and over-relying on my creature comforts. For example, I run the same route in my neighborhood, sit in the same pew at church every week, order the same meal at my favorite restaurant, and haven’t changed my training plan in ages because it’s working (or, is it?). Really, these are just minor little ruts but, they do keep me from meeting new people, challenging myself and trying new things – I constantly have to tell myself to “mix it up.”

Occasionally, I feel like these little ruts are completely overshadowed by a big, gaping, capital letter RUT that literally appeared as quick and furiously as a polo horse can kick up divot. Hello, I’ve lost a client, a friend, an important teaching moment for my child or an opportunity for personal growth that was just under my nose but I was too stupid to smell it. It feels like a crisis. It feels like my house is on fire. It feels so unfair because I have been taking the safe ride through life and not been reckless behind the wheel.  Really these big ruts are just the small ruts flaring up to catch my attention. It’s best to stomp the divots down as soon as possible, minimize the chances of more tripping and falling, and keep the game moving forward!

crossfit clean woman

Ways to Dig Out of a Rut:

Set and share a goal: Having a plan of action helps you lay out the steps needed to achieve a goal. Some of the most successful people in the world say luck had nothing to do with it; instead it was setting tangible goals to work toward. Don’t forget to share your goal with a friend and check in often; this will keep you accountable.

Don’t wish for it, work for it. Remember that a goal that lacks action behind it is just a dream. Sorry to say that dreams are imaginary and don’t come true, but goals can become a reality if you put in the work.

Embrace the uncomfortable. Stepping outside your comfort zone is essential for growth in all aspects of life. Being happy with the status quo prevents progress. Not wanting to go above and beyond keeps you stuck where you are. It’s so cliché, but no pain, no gain!

Make a new connection daily. You can break through a rut by making at least one new human connection a day and preferably someone who is not a carbon copy of you! Introduce yourself (finally) to person you see every day at the coffee shop, gym or carpool line that you’ve never bothered to meet. You never know who will inspire you to make a significant life change!

Try something new daily. Break out of your humdrum habits by trying something new each day. Mix up the monotonous by trying a new fruit or vegetable (see my Star Fruit Salad recipe below) or try something a little more challenging like a new yoga pose or learning a foreign language. You’re never too old to learn a new trick!

Since, uh, I love food and getting creative in the kitchen, especially with my healthy salads. Trying new ingredients is one of my major little rut-busters. It’s also why I have a pantry full of only-used-once-or-twice spices and exotic ingredients. Because I’ve never had a starfruit before, I took my taste buds on a taste adventure and made a salad featuring this unique-looking ingredient. Officially called a “carambola,” this fruit is grows on trees native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and there-about parts of the world. When you cut this guy crosswise, the slice look just like little stars which is what makes it such a fun way to jazz up a mundane salad. So, what does it taste like – it is hard to say?  It was slightly sweet with hints of apple and citrus with the texture of a firm grape. By the way, loved the baby kale I used in this recipe – so tender and delicate that the massaging required for the full-grown green is not needed.

star fruit salad

Starfruit & Orange Baby Kale Salad Recipe

  • ½ large starfruit
  • 2 ounces baby kale
  • ½ cup orange slice segments
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 ounce feta cheese crumbles
  • ¼ cup toasted almond slivers
  • ¼ cup vinaigrette of choice (I used Tangy Orange Citrus Vinaigrette)

Slice starfruit crosswise into ¼ inch slices; remove any seeds. Assemble all ingredients on platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette before serving. Serves 2.

star fruit

Excuse the hideous post-run hair but this is what a starfruit looks like before cutting.

Sweet Treats For Easter – Layered Smoothie and Lightened Strawberry Cake

 

litehouse jennifer fisher  strawberry cake overhead

You better hop to it if you are still looking for sweet treats to share with family and friends this Easter weekend. If the bunny that visits your house is anything like the one who hides eggs at mine, I’m pretty sure you’ll have enough chocolate goodies and jelly beans to last until the Fourth of July!  But if you are hosting an Easter brunch, luncheon or dinner, you probably need a delicious dessert that is showy enough for a Sunday celebration of this magnitude.

But don’t fret, I have an easy and “healthier” option that I whipped up for Lighthouse Foods — a Lightened Strawberry Bundt Cake and it is just perfect for the season! Several decadent ingredients found in traditional pound cake recipes have been swapped with sugar-free and reduced-fat products to keep this cake a little from exploding with excess. Plus, fresh strawberries for garnish are always a good thing! Check out the Living Lighthouse Blog for the full directions.

litehouse jennifer fisher cut strawberry cake lemonade

You may want to spend some extra time (especially if you have today off) enjoying the perks of great outdoors in spring – warmer weather, longer days and verdant vistas with beautiful wildflowers. Fuel up with long-lasting healthy energy with the Layered Spring Smoothie I created for CorePower.com. Sweet layers of fruits and vegetables blended with a Core Power High Protein Shake not only looks pretty, but will have you feeling pretty good too – it’s packed with 26 grams of quality protein!

easter-inspiredsmoothie

Layered Easter Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 bottle Vanilla Core Power (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 large banana, sliced and frozen
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh spinach (a handful)
  • ½ cup sliced frozen strawberries
  • Whipped cream and pastel sprinkles, if desired

Pour entire bottle of cold Core Power into blender. Add frozen banana slices and blend until smooth; blend in ice if mixture seems too thin. Divide banana mixture evenly into three parts, leaving one part in blender and pouring the other two parts into two small bowls or cups.

Add handful of spinach to portion remaining in blender and process until smooth. Pour this into bottom of tall glass. Over this “green” layer, pour the “yellow” portion that is just banana and Core Power.

Quickly rinse out blender and pour in the remaining bowl. Add strawberries and blend until smooth. Pour this “pink” layer on top. Garnish smoothie with whipped cream and pastel sprinkles, if desired.

strawberry banana spinach layered smoothei

Note: For “no bleed” stripes, freeze serving glass between each layer. For a more casual “dip-dyed” look (as in photo), this step is not necessary – the colors will seep together a bit by design!

If you are still looking for a sweet and stunning end to your meal, check out the gallery of Best Easter Desserts from CookingLight.com. The Black and White Angel Food Cake has definitely grabbed my attention!

easter desserts cooking light

Are you planning a special dessert for Easter? Let me know in the comments below!

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Anemia in Runners & Healthy Iron Rich Recipes

iron rich recipes thefitfork

It’s normal to feel tired after a long run or strenuous session in the gym, isn’t that the point?! However, if you notice increased fatigue, unexplainable muscle soreness or begin having trouble finishing workouts that were once part of your normal routine, the culprit could actually be an iron deficiency. One recent study suggested that more than half (56%) of recreational joggers and competitive runners suffer from an iron deficiency that may negatively affect performance.

jennifer fisher austin runner zooma

Iron topped off (thanks Team Beef) and running strong at Zooma Texas.

As a quickie science refresher, iron is needed to replenish the constant turnover of red blood cells (at the rate of 1% a day) and to keep this troop of tiny oxygen-deliverers adequately stocked with hemoglobin. Without oxygen moving from your lungs to every part of your body via the red blood cells, organs and tissues are not able to perform as they should, let alone at the optimal capacity demanded by the rigorous training schedule of an athlete.

So, why would a seemingly healthy person, especially an athlete, find themselves battling the malaise brought on by “tired” blood? Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons for iron deficiency in long distance runners and other endurance athletes.

  • Diet: A diet that chronically avoids foods rich in iron may cause anemia, or at a minimum, lower than desired levels of iron. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, or iron-fortified foods are the best sources of iron found in food.
  • Vitamin Deficiency:  Vitamin B-12 and folate both play a role in red blood cell development and can cause anemia if levels are low. A diet without leafy greens, fruits and beans (for the folate) and animal products (for the b-12) can be to blame, as can autoimmune diseases and intestinal problems.
  • Disease and Drugs: Some people consume adequate iron through their diet, but have absorption issues due to diseases including Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease.  Certain drugs may also inhibit the absorption of iron. Consult with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy & Woman Issues: Anemia is fairly common during pregnancy; a woman needs to consume enough iron for herself and her unborn child to avoid becoming depleted. Additionally, heavy menstruation and uterine fibroids can also wear away stores.
  • Sweat: Because iron is a mineral that can be lost through sweat, athletes (especially in endurance events) can become depleted, especially those who perspire heavily and during the summer months.
  • GI Distress: The gastro-intestinal distress, or “runner trots” that affect many athletes during and after events can cause iron deficiency through lost blood. Many are not even aware of the blood loss, as it is eventually passed as waste.
  • Footstrike: Believe it or not, some research suggests that the repetitive and jarring impact of the foot to the ground during running can damage red blood cells in the foot. This “footstrike hemolysis” only reduces trace amounts of iron in the body at a single event, but can add up over time.

So what can be done to increase iron levels and fend off that feeling of fatigue? Depending on the severity, medical professionals would recommend taking supplements and increasing the consumption of iron-rich foods. If you suspect an iron deficiency, please visit with your doctor. In the meantime, be proactive by boosting the amount of iron in your diet with these foods:

foods high in iron

  • Red meat (beef, pork, liver)
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins, apricots)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains (read the labels)
  • Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
  • Fish (tuna, cod, sardine)
  • Turkey or chicken giblets
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Artichokes

Tips:

Combine with vitamin C. Iron absorption is increased when paired with foods loaded in vitamin C. Toss papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, kiwi, pineapple and even cauliflower into your iron-rich recipes; they are all very high in vitamin C.

Pair with protein. Protein helps release the iron contained in beans, so serve them with beef, chicken, tofu, or fish (for example, beef chili with kidney beans).

Cook in cast iron! Research has shown that the iron content of food prepared in cast-iron was 2 to 12 times higher than foods cooked in other types of pots.  Acidic, high-moisture foods (like spaghetti sauce) have the highest levels of desirable leached iron.

Keep iron and calcium apart: As much as possible, try to eat iron rich foods at a different time than calcium rich foods — calcium can inhibit the absorption. So, for example, don’t eat a steak and wash it down with a glass of milk. If you take supplements, do the calcium in the morning and the iron at night, or vice versa. Thank you to Runnng Hutch at Matters of Course for reminding me of this tip.

Iron-Rich Recipe Ideas:

Crock Pot Sugar Snap & Orange Beef

Orange Sugar Snap Pea Beef – You’ll never tire (literally) of this beef slow-cooker dinner thanks to the spicy citrus sauce and orange slices.

Blue Cheese artichoke spinach eggs

Artichoke Spinach & Blue Cheese Baked Eggs – Artichoke, spinach and egg yolks makes this breakfast the best!

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - farmers market beef veggie salad

Farmer’s Market Beef & Brown Rice Salad – High-iron beef unlocks even more iron in chickpeas, plus vitamin C veggies – it’s a three-way winner!

Simply green smoothie

Simple Green Smoothie – The spinach and hemp seed smoothie will kick up iron consumption for vegans and vegetarians.

What is your favorite iron-rich food? Have you ever been diagnosed as anemic?

 

Southwestern Roasted Veggie Wraps, Veggie Snacks & Workouts

You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy the wholesome goodness of this Southwestern-Spiced Roasted Veggie Wrap. A spinach tortilla is lightly charred on the grill (or gas burner) and then stuffed with roasted vegetables kicked up with a light dusting of cumin and chipotle chile powder. Perfect for a #MeatlessMonday meal.

roasted veggies in tortilla

Southwestern-Spiced Roasted Veggie Wrap Recipe

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼” planks
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut into ¼” planks
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 spinach tortillas
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 4 spinach tortillas
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  1. Preheat grill or broiler. In large bowl, toss together zucchini, squash, red bell pepper and carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, chile powder and cumin with oil. Place in single layer on large baking sheet. Grill or broil vegetables 4 to 6 minutes per side, turning once.
  2. Remove veggies from oven and let cool for 5 minutes; cut into long julienned strips approximately ¼ inch wide.
  3. In small bowl, mash avocado with lime juice. Spread in even portions across each tortilla, leaving a ½ rim at the border.
  4. Spread out a pile of fresh spinach on top of each tortilla. Arrange remaining filling ingredients in a row along in the center of tortilla.
  5. Roll of tortilla as tightly as possible, cut in half crosswise and secure with toothpicks if needed.
  6. If packing in a lunchbox, switch the avocado and spinach steps so that tortilla doesn’t become soggy. Serves 4.

vegetable platter

Three servings of veggies are the recommended bare minimum amount for the daily diet of an adult – are you getting enough?  Snacking on vegetables is a great way to help you meet and surpass this good health goal. this Forget about the chips and cookies; it’s so much easier to reach for a healthy handful of veggies if you’ve prepped them and have them waiting in the fridge.  Keep cut up veggies in single-serve zip-top baggies for on-the-go grabbing – I also love to make mini veggie dip cups to serve the kids after school (great for a party too).

jennifer fisher litehouse mini veggies in dip fridge 2

Oh, one last thing to mention! In a rare moment of organization, I pulled all my workouts and put them on one page that is easily accessible by the category bar under the header.  The precious minutes you save by not having to hit the search bar can be reallocated to some extra burpees. You can thank me later!

workout screen shot

Mint Melon Smoothie Recipe + Apera Review

mint cataloupe smoothie

This Melon Mint Smoothie may be one of my favorites yet – it definitely ranks in the top three! The key to the refreshing minty-melon taste is to use really, really ripe cantaloupe and the freshest mint you can find. It was really my frugalness that was the basis for this protein smoothie; you see, I had an entire cantaloupe get over ripe on the counter because of a too-busy-to-cut-it-up week. It was a little mushy, so rather than throw it away (the horror!), I cut it up in cubes and dry-packed for the freezer.  My thought was I could throw a few chunks in whatever smoothie I was whipping up for the day, and the frozen melon would help with the smooth frozen consistency – I never expected the melon taste to come through so strong! The perfect way to cool on a warm spring day here in Austin!

mint smoothie

Mint Melon Smoothie Recipe

  • 10 ounces almond milk
  • 1/3 cup (approx. 1 scoop) vanilla or unflavored protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen cantaloupe or honeydew chunks
  • 10 fresh mint leaves

Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Serves 1.

aspera active pack

I also wanted to share a quick review of an awesome backpack sent to me by Apera Bags. There are a lot of gym bags out there, but what I love about the Apera Bags is that they are protected on the inside and out with an antimicrobial finish – not that my stuff stinks or anything (jeeze), but it’s just reassuring to know my bag has these germ-fighting superpowers!  There are pockets and pouches galore, all with various functions – to hold shoes, water bottles, a change of clothes, wet towel, etc.

gym backpack

The particular Apera Bag I picked is called the Active Pack and it is perfect for both work and play (there is a padded area where you could stash a laptop or tablet).  Of course, I wanted to get the hot pink color, but knew that my husband wouldn’t help carry the load on or weekend hikes if I didn’t choose a “manly” color.  And actually, I’m happy with the black color, it will go with all my gym and running fashions and won’t end up looking scuffed up in a few months. But, now I’m fighting with my husband over who gets to use it and when!

Protein for Performance & Living Well | Baja Beef Avocado Bowls

boots on the farm

Taking a tour of the organic farm at Travaasa Resort.

I know a thing or two about how lean protein plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle. I blog about it here all the time and I even take my show on the road every now and then to demonstrate how to make the most awesomely delicious and healthy recipes using lean proteins.  But, last week I spent a couple days with the Texas Beef Council (TBC) learning even more about lean protein and how it can be optimally incorporated into a diet that supports the active regimen of an athlete. Fittingly, the event was called Living Well and took place at the gorgeous Travaasa Experiential Resort near Lake Travis (in Austin) and at TBC headquarters not far away.

hen house

Farm fresh eggs for my high-protein breakfast.

We toured the resorts organic farm where they grow much of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and eggs used in the restaurant – there are even chickens laying eggs that end up on your breakfast plate!

chickens eating

We were treated to a delicious farm-to-fork style dinner complete with wine pairings specifically chosen and described by a sommelier.  While the wine was lost on me (not a huge fan), the delicious food made a memorable impression and showed just how creative one can be cooking with lean beef and fresh, seasonal produce.  Here is a small sampling of our meal which included Beef Carpaccio with Roasted Oyster Mushrooms, Beef Short Rib Zucchini “Cannelloni” filled with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Charred Tomato Sauce, Grilled Marinated Vegetables and Seasonal Salad. Oh, and Chocolate Chipotle Cake with Berries for dessert.

Shredded beef wrapped in zucchini

Beef Short Rib Zucchini “Cannelloni” stuffed with goat cheese and butternut squash.

Here are the important take-away points about protein and nutrition I want to share with you:

Caloric Cost of Plant Protein: The caloric cost of plant protein is very high compared to lean beef. For example, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef has about 150 calories and 25 grams of protein. By comparison, I’d have to eat 540 calories of peanut butter (while I LOVE it) or 382 calories of black beans to total 25 grams protein.  It’s not that you shouldn’t have plant proteins in your diet (variety is the spice of life, right?!), it’s often much more effective to eat a more nutrient-dense serving of lean meat.

Protein Satisfies Hunger & Prevents Snacking:  Higher protein meals, especially at breakfast, increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) that can keep you from snacking on unhealthy fatty and sugar foods later in the day. I can seriously vouch for this.

Behold the Protein Threshold: The “protein threshold,” meaning how much protein it takes to feel satisfied is approximately 30 grams per meal regardless of your body size. This means that a larger or more active person would need more eating occasions to meet their protein needs. However, don’t try to eat all your protein in one sitting, it won’t be effectively used — I space mine out into about four to five 25 – 30 gram “experiences.”

When to Eat Meat (or other Proteins): The timing of protein intake should start at breakfast and continue at a fairly steady state throughout the day. The average person only gets 10 grams of protein at breakfast, 17 grams at lunch and then overdoses with 65 grams in the evening.  These meals should be more like 25 – 30 grams each with protein snacks in between for larger people or athletes with muscle recovery needs. Of course, most of us know that after an intense workout, a protein to carb snack with the ratio 1:3 should be consumed within a 30 minute window for optimal muscle recovery.

Yoga + Extra Protein for Healthy Aging: A research study conducted by one of the presenters showed that muscle mass may be improved and maintained during the aging process with the combination of yoga and increased protein intake!  This researcher recommended the habitual consumption of protein in an amount approximately twice the RDA (so aim for 1.6 grams per kilo) and routine yoga practice.

yoga class

Sunrise yoga at Travaasa Resort.

Finally, we also had a wonderful culinary demonstration focusing on the taste of umami and flavors to pair with beef to maximize the umami-ness! After that, we broke off into groups to do a “Chopped” style cooking competition where we were allowed an assigned cut of lean beef (ours was ground beef) along with four other ingredients from the pantry/fridge and unlimited spices and seasonings. Whoot, I love to cook with lean beef!  So, guess which team won? Bam, that’s right, mine – winner, winner, beef dinner!  Even with the most pedestrian cut of beef, ground beef, we created a vibrant and healthy recipe worthy of your healthy dinner plate. I’ve replicated the recipe to the best of my memory below:

beef and vegetable stuffed avocados

Baja Beef Avocado Bowls Recipe

  •  1 lb 93% or leaner ground beef
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 12 ounces frozen (or preferably fresh) corn
  • 2 tablespoons steak seasoning of choice
  • 2 large avocados
  • Salt
  • Sriracha sauce
  1. In large skillet, over medium-high, brown ground beef into crumbles (temperature should reach 160 F degrees) and season with 1 tablespoon of steak seasoning. Drain off any excess fat. Transfer to large mixing bowl; set aside.
  2. Add oil to same skillet (unwashed) and add frozen corn, red peppers and remaining steak seasoning. Sauté over medium-high to high until vegetables are beginning to “roast” and blacken slightly on the outside, approximately 10 -15 minutes.
  3. Add ½ of sautéed vegetables to bowl with ground beef; stir to combine. Reserve remaining vegetables
  4. Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove seed. Using spoon, remove some of the flesh to create a bowl with the remaining flesh and exterior skin. In small bowl, smash together removed avocado flesh with salt to create guacamole; set aside.
  5. To plate, mound ¼ of reserved vegetable mixture (without meat) onto center of plate. Top with avocado bowl. Fill avocado bowl with beef and veggie mixture, top with a dollop of guacamole and red bell pepper garnish. Drizzle with Sriracha, if desired. Repeat for remaining three avocado bowls.

Serves 4.

Eat More Fruits & Veggies | Confetti Lettuce Wraps #Recipe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hum along now. There’s fresh produce for shopping with vine-ripe goodness a popping, to nourish my family held dear. Yes, it’s the hap- happiest season of all, with foods so darn delicious and purposefully nutritious, for friends come over to call.  Okay, while I might not be a songwriter at heart, I certainly am a natural-born lover of warm weather and the wonderful bounty of byproducts the spring season brings – namely an abundance of fruits and vegetable, beautiful flowers and the invitation of mild mile upon mile on the running trails.

running through flowers

Today I’m so happy to share a trail running tempo run I created for CorePower.com (and awesome, high-protein recovery shake I frequently drink) and a rainbow-inspired dinner idea for Confetti Veggie, Fruit & Bean Lettuce Wraps – perfect for a  #MeatlessMonday!

Now, onto the food! I love this healthy recipe because it uses more fruits and vegetables that can be counted on two hands. Gobble up a few of these lettuce wraps for lunch or dinner and you’ll be well on your way (if not exceeding) daily consumption goals for fruits and vegetables. Did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control, only a third of American adults report eating two servings a fruit a day and less than 27 percent consumed three or more servings of veggies, the minimum recommended daily amount (RDA)?  Notice how I bolded the word minimum? That’s because the RDA sets forth only the lowest level of nutrients needed for the average, already healthy person to keep from becoming malnourished. The minimum.

fresh fruits and vegetables
Much more than the MINIMUM in this healthy salad recipe!

I truly believe we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables, as opposed to the minimum. I wrote a post for Living Litehouse about how, as Americans, we are blessed to live in a country with easy access to high-quality, fresh foods that are reasonably affordable in the scheme of things. If you don’t agree, put your Starbuck’s latte or iPhone down and think about it for a minute — I’m taking a soapbox stance here.

vintage fruit and vegetable poster
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables!

I recently gave an affordable healthy cooking demonstration in a 300+ packed auditorium in the lower-income part of town. The participants were friendly, engaged and open to learning my healthy cooking tips. Many approached me afterward talking about the woes of chronic health conditions (created by being overweight). I got home and, at first, thought it unusual that I had about 250+ more “direct” referrals in my Google Analytics for the day – that is, until I realized that as I was on the stage, all these low-income people were hitting my blog from their smart phones.  This argument that eating healthfully is too expensive gets a reality check. Remember,  you don’t need to shop at Whole Foods (unless you have money to burn) to eat well. Put down the $6 fruit cup and buy a sale-priced 10-pound bulk bag of the grapefruit (or whatever) for half the price at the “regular” grocery store.

A recent Harvard study reports it only takes $1.50 per day to eat a “healthy” diet as opposed to the processed, packaged and convenience diet that has become a way of life for many – I’d even say it costs even less if you know how to shop sales. So, in the end – it’s a priority, do you want a data plan or to die? Okay, I know that’s a little extreme – but you know what I’m saying.

rainbow lettuce wraps

Confetti Veggie, Fruit & Bean Lettuce Wraps Recipe.

  • ½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup diced strawberries
  • ½ cup diced pineapple
  • ½ cup diced papaya
  • ½ cup diced mango
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. diced fresh Jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp. green onions, sliced
  • 2 head washed and dried baby romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 oz. snow pea shoots
  • 4 oz. Litehouse Food’s Huckleberry Vinaigrette* (extra  for dipping)

*You can use any “sweet-ish” vinaigrette you prefer like a poppy seed, honey Dijon, balsamic, etc.  I just love the Huckleberry Vinaigrette by Litehouse Foods because it is so fresh and flavorful, not too sweet – and has actual whole huckleberries in the bottle!

  1.  In large bowl, toss together cucumber, carrots, red onion, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, mango, black beans, cilantro, jalapeno and green onions.
  2. Stir in Huckleberry Vinaigrette (or dressing of choice) and allow mixture to sit for five minutes so herbs rehydrate.
  3. Add a spoonful of fruit and vegetable mixture to the center of lettuce leaf. Repeat for remaining lettuce leaves and mixture.
  4. Sprinkle feta cheese on top of mixture and garnish with snow pea shoots.
  5. Serve with additional Huckleberry Vinaigrette for dipping
rainbow confetti salad

Also makes a great topping for fish, pork and poultry!

 

Healthy Grilling | Mojo Chicken Breast with Citrus Recipe

grilled chicken breasts and oranges

I rolled into the house a 6pm tonight after being away on a most delicious food experience at Travaasa Spa in Austin (more about that next week). Even though the kids are learning to hold their own in the kitchen and can make a few meals (mac & cheese, quesadillas, frozen pizzas) when I’m away, I did promise to make it back in time to get a more “mom-approved” meal (read, one with fruits and vegetables) on the table. Since I hadn’t been to the store in a while, there was no telling what would be left in my fridge after the four “bachelors” were left to fend for themselves.

This is where creativity in the kitchen comes in; no need to head to a drive thru when you can slice up the fruits and veggies found your fridge, whip up a quick sauce and serve with a lean grilled protein. Tonight I found a couple margarita-leftover limes and unloved oranges in the produce bin, along with some starting-to-wrinkle grape tomatoes that needed to be used ASAP.  Knew I had some chicken breast in the freezer, and that’s about it. Came up with this fresh and vibrant dish inspired by the Mojo Beef Kebobs I’ve made time and time again – the garlic citrus sauce pairs insanely well with beef, but also works wonders with chicken, pork and fish! Since I was too tired to chunk up the meat and fire up the patio grill, I just threw these pounded chicken breasts in an indoor grill pan. I even skipped the marinating step that I am recommending if you have time.  The family gobbled this healthy dinner recipe up and loved the fact that I added oranges to the mix (made the onions more tolerable said one son).

grilling chicken and fruit

This recipe works equally well in an indoor grill pan as on the outdoor grill.

Mojo Chicken Breast with Grilled Citrus Recipe

  • 2 large chicken breasts (approx. 1 lb)
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 large lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 small oranges, slices crosswise
  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 (10 ounce) container cherry tomatoes

For Sauce:

  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1.  Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Butterfly chicken breasts and pound down to even 1/3” thickness.
  3. Pour half of the Mojo sauce as a marinade over the chicken in a medium bowl or food storage bag; cover or seal.
  4. Cover the remaining sauce; refrigerate both at least 2 hours.
  5. Heat outdoor grill to 400 F degrees or indoor grill pan to medium-high.
  6. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Season chicken with the pepper.
  7. Grill chicken for approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in center.
  8. Remove chicken from pan and add limes, oranges and onions, grill for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and grill for another 1 -2 minutes until soften, but not popped.
  9. Serve drizzled with the reserved sauce.

Serves 4.