Savory Spice Shop recently invited me to be their guest chef for a Back to School cooking demonstration. Whenever I do one of these, I always like to remind my audience that I am a Registered Dietitian by occupation, and self-proclaimed chef taught mostly by…the internet. Plain and simple: my cooking demos are more like Mr. Wizard meets Molly Shannon and nothing like Martha Stewart decorating a gingerbread house.
One of the many things I love about cooking demos is that I can 100% relate to my audience and vice versa. I know what it’s like to feel a little overwhelmed or flustered in the kitchen, and I’m not trying to hide it. Instead of saying, “check this out, so easy, happy trees,” my approach looks more like, “Oh, that didn’t turn out so great…but here is how we can fix it.” Truth bomb: you are going to mess up…a lot. BUT there is always a way to make it right. I have learned so much about cooking through trial and error; therefore, I bring a not-so-traditional perspective to the kitchen table. Not only do I incorporate ways to add nutritional value to meals without losing the flavor or quality of the dish, but I also share pointers that your glorified Top Chef may not think to share because it seems like common sense.
Let’s be real…you can feel like a real idiot in a kitchen pretty quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a humbling place for many…including myself. If only these little kitchen walls could talk…
Self-Taught Chef Tip #1: Never cut an onion again without a pair of these babies…
In preparing for a cooking demo, I like to come up with fun, relatively simple recipes that I have yet to share on P&P. This gives the demo attendees first dibs on tasting the new treats, and for this particular event, attendees also received little goody bags containing the recipes and spice samples used in each one.
Today I am sharing the recipe for Miniature Veggie Pizza Quiche, aka MVP Quiche. The other three recipes from the cooking demo will post soon, so make sure to check back to grab those as well. The MVP Quiche recipe can be a little bit tricky; therefore, I have included a few tips to help you stay out of the disaster zone. Good luck!
MVP (Miniature Veggie Pizza) Quiche *Crustless
Serving size: 1-2 mini quiche; Servings approximately 6
Cook Time 25-30 minutes
extra virgin olive oil spray
12 large eggs
2 cups chopped vegetables (I used bell peppers, red onion, broccolini, & mushrooms)
1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Savory Spice Pizza & Pasta Sprinkle *salt free
1 teaspoon Savory & Spice Granulated Onion
Preheat oven to 350. Generously coat silicone muffin pan with olive oil spray and set aside. *
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and spices.
Sauté vegetables and evenly distribute into 12 muffin cups.
Pour egg mixture over vegetables into each muffin cup. **
Dollop each cup with 1/2 tablespoon of pizza sauce.
Top pizza sauce with a little sprinkling of mozzarella and spices.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Allow quiche to cool in the muffin pan (~30 minutes) before carefully removing each one with a spatula or small knife.
*You will need a silicone muffin tin. The standard muffin tin simply doesn’t cut it. Trust me. I’ve tried. Purchase one here on Amazon.
**Before you pour egg mixture into muffin cups, place a baking sheet underneath the tin. This will help you transfer the pan into the oven without slinging your uncooked eggs all over the kitchen. Been there, done that.
Storage: Place quiche in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. For desirable freshness, eat within 2-3 days.
Freezing: If you’d like, place quiche in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for longer keep.
I often hear that baking granola is easy. But I disagree. Things that require eye-balling and provide a somewhat generous temperature range are a lot easier to me than baking…which is why baking is my favorite. It’s much more scientific and precise, and therefore, it’s a challenge. Who doesn’t love a good challenge? I know I’m not the only nerd out there. And if you’re reading this…clearly you are a nerd, too. So fold your cards, please.
I have burned so many batches of granola that I would be embarrassed if there was an actual running tally. Let’s just keep it at this…CPI has called a handful of times asking if they needed to dispatch fire trucks to my place. I had to explain that I burned granola but everything was under control.
My point here is, granola isn’t easy because you can’t just throw it in the oven and walk away from it. You must pay attention. So…pay attention!
Here’s one of the dandiest granola recipes I’ve ever tried and it all came together while I was experimenting with what I thought would turn out to be a huge fail. And I was oh so wrong.
Spicy Rosemary + Maple Crunch
Yields approximately 4 cups
Servings approximately 16 (1/4 cup = 1 serving)
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (½ cup almonds, ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup pecans)
½ cup unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
3 tablespoons Pour Olive’s Rosemary Olive Oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300 degrees F. line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the oats, walnuts, pecans, almonds, fresh rosemary, cayenne pepper and sea salt; set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat; stir in the olive oil and maple syrup until reaches a syrup consistency.
Add liquid to the dry ingredients and stir well until everything is well coated.
Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, or until the granola is lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and transfer parchment paper off of the baking sheet to allow cooling completely.
*Store in an airtight container. Keeps for up to one week…maybe more! 🙂
Salads don’t have to suck. For a long time (well before my nutrition career), I believed that salads were a form of self-punishment. I tried to like them. I couldn’t do it.
Later I learned they aren’t so bad, thanks to salad geniuses like my friends at Chop’t Salad Creative Co. But you don’t have to order takeout just to get a good salad. If you think you’re incapable of making an edible salad at home, try this recipe and change your perception. It’s a guaranteed winner-winner salad dinner!
Baby Kale & Quinoa Salad + Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yields 1-2 servings *If you’re really hungry, I wouldn’t share it 🙂
4 cups baby kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic raw honey
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 medium avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
For the Kale Chips
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Rinse and dry kale well. Toss 1 1/2 cups of the kale in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cayenne pepper. Massage the oil and seasoning into the kale leaves.
Divide and spread leaves into two even layers on baking sheets.
*Note: the more space between leaves, the crispier your kale chips will be. Therefore, try to keep overlapping pieces to a minimum.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Gently transfer kale chips with parchment paper onto a cool surface. Allow the kale chips to cool completely.
For the Orange-Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Whisk together orange juice, remaining olive oil (3 tablespoons), honey, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with remaining salt.
For the Salad
Massage the remaining kale with 1 teaspoon of Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette. This will serve as your base of the salad. Layer this on the bottom of a salad bowl or large plate.
Toss cooked quinoa with White Balsamic Vinegar. Add the cooked quinoa on top of the kale. Sprinkle chickpeas, cranberries, pine nuts, and avocado.
Top with kale chips, and pour remaining dressing over the salad, or leave on the side.
One of the biggest nutrition obstacles for most people is figuring out what to eat for lunch. When I worked at a desk full-time, I can recall several times where I just couldn’t bring myself to pack a lunch or plan meals ahead. When I didn’t have a plan, I was much more likely to be impulsive with my food choices and eat something I didn’t necessarily want all that much just to bring a little excitement to my day. Can anyone relate?
This thought process and reluctance to change behavior, aka packing a lunch when you would rather just wing it, is normal. We are creatures of habit, so it sometimes takes doing something with reluctance and witnessing the benefits in order to reinforce a new habit. We have the tendency to turn the idea of change into a much larger, more difficult dilemma than it really is.
Eggs are small but mighty nutrition powerhouses. This egg salad recipe not only satisfies the body, mind and tastebuds, but it is a great (easy!) option to throw into your weekly rotation of meals, especially if you are struggling with finding good options that do not require a lot of time or energy.
I am offering you this simple recipe in hopes that you will try it, like it, and start to make more meals at home instead of feeling conflicted about what to eat out in a world of endless food choices. It’s all about balance, so let this recipe be a part of that equation!
Easy Egg Salad
Yields approximately 2-3 servings
Cook Time 15 minutes
4 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoon light mayo
1 tablespoon light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon juice from sweet gherkins (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
Peel hard boiled eggs and dispose of shells. Separate the yolks from the egg whites by slicing each egg into halves, and place egg yolks in a bowl.
Mash the yolks with a fork, and add mayo, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper, and pickle juice. Mix ingredients until you reach a smooth consistency.
Gently fold in the egg whites.
Divide the egg salad evenly between two containers and store covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to consume.
For an added touch of fancy, sprinkle paprika on top of the final product just before serving and/or consuming.
Serving Recommendation: serve egg salad with Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten-free original crackers.
Easter candy smacks you in the face every time you walk into the grocery store, so shouldn’t we create a nice place for it to live before we shovel it in by the handfuls? Call it an excuse to buy the candy, but I’m calling it arts and crafts meets a perfect dessert pairing that’s festive and aesthetically pleasing. You’re welcome.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Spray mini muffin tins thoroughly with cooking spray and set aside.
Add egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla extract to a medium-sized bowl, and whisk well. Mix in the shredded coconut until evenly coated, and you’re ready to nest.
Fill each muffin tin (cup) two-thirds full with coconut mixture, and pack down. Then, make a deep indentation into the center of each cup with a wooden spoon handle, and lightly press mixture up the sides of each cup
Set a timer, and check the color of the mini cups after 20 minutes. The edges should be a crispy, golden brown color, and the centers a lighter golden brown. If edges still need to cook a little longer, check in increments of 5 minutes until you are satisfied with the aesthetic.
Remove tins and allow to cool (still remaining in tins) on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a paring knife to carefully loosen the edges of each cup form the tin and remove to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Decorate each cup with your favorite Easter candy, and wow your peeps!
Not only do these Mini Coconut Macaroon Cups require MINIMAL TIME and MINIMAL CLEAN-UP, but crafting them is truly easy-peasy and an activity for all ages. Give your kids something to do besides dyeing eggs this year, and then take pictures to one-up all of your friends’ kids. (Just kidding…that is completely up to you).
I highly recommend using a combination of Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs, Reese’s Pieces Eggs, and Cadbury Mini Eggs to decorate the macaroon cups and add a variety of textures and flavors.
Note: Recipe adapted from the lovely Martha Stewart. Check out her recipe video here.
As a dietitian, providing healthier options to my clients is the bare minimum of what I do. If it tastes like cardboard, what is the point? Therefore, if I am offering suggestions or recipes, I am going to try them out for myself first to make sure they pass the test. If I can’t find a realistic option, then I will create one. And this is one of the main reasons why I spend hours of my time in my kitchen working on new recipes to share with my clients as well as my readers.
The recipe development process is timely, yes. But it can also be also pretty fun if you like to taste-test. In my kitchen, a recipe is never 100% complete, but at some point you have to put the forks down to write it all down. This chicken salad tune-up is a healthier option to the mayo-overloaded chicken salad without sacrificing the flavor.
A Chicken Salad Tune-Up
yields approximately 3-4 servings
32 oz Organic Chicken Broth, Reduced Sodium
1-2 lb Organic Chicken Breast
1-2 stalks Celery (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Onion (finely chopped)
1/2 cup Organic Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tsp Kosher Salt
Pour chicken broth into crock pot and turn on high heat.
Once liquid begins to simmer, add chicken breasts, cover with a lid and turn heat to low. Allow chicken to slow cook for 4-6 hours until tender.
Chop celery and onion while chicken is slow cooking. Place into a small, covered container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a small mixing bowl, stir mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and spices. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Once chicken has cooked, remove from crockpot and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Shred chicken with two forks while it is still hot. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes, then cover container with foil and place in refrigerator to chill.
Once chicken has cooled, add remaining ingredients and combine well. Adjust seasonings to your preference.
I recommend pairing this chicken salad with Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps or Mary’s Gone Crackers depending on your taste preferences and diet restrictions. The Raisin Rosemary Crisps bring a slight sweetness to the chicken salad game for a great sweet and savory combo, and they are a good bang for your buck with respect to calories and taste (90 calories for 11 crackers). Mary’s Gone Crackers allows the chicken salad to take the spotlight, and they are organic, vegan, non-gmo and gluten-free! You really cannot go wrong with either choice.
Did you know that 1/4 cup of walnuts provides your daily recommended intake of plant-based omega 3s? Omega-3s are “essential” because our bodies need them, but we are unable to make them on our own…so we eat them! Think of them as the gateway drug to healthy eating and living. When our bodies get this nutritional gateway drug, our hormones become more balanced, our cells function more efficiently, inflammation decreases, and we are less likely to develop conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Here are a few more specific reasons you need to take these babies in…
Antioxidants. They combat free radicals in your body. We want this to happen. Think of Karate Kid versus Cobra Kai. Walnuts are the Karate Kid (and Mr. Miyagi). Sensei, Johnny and Cobra Kai are the free radicals. Walnuts contain powerful antioxidants that do some pretty astounding things – they are the good peeps. Free radicals are no bueno and sweep the leg like no other, bad news bears. The choice here is obvious. Eat a handful.
Heart health. Omega 3s reduce risk of heart disease and heart-related issues. Are you prone to hypertension, high cholesterol or heart disease? If you aren’t taking in Omega 3s, eating walnuts is one excellent way to increase its presence in the body and hence, benefit heart health. Note: I am a firm believer in getting your nutrients through food first and supplements only if your body is not absorbing them through food or you simply cannot find a food you enjoy enough that contains the nutrient. Food is the BEST method and in most cases, it is better absorbed!
Brain power. In addition to Omega 3s, walnuts also contain other neuroprotective compounds like Vitamin E, melatonin and folate that help support brain health in young adults, and also helps enhance cognitive and motor function by reducing oxidative stress during the aging process. Think about all the cognitive diseases and scary things that can happen as we age.
Blood Sugar. If you are concerned about your blood glucose levels, adding walnuts to your diet can be a great way to help lower those numbers. Studies have shown that diabetics who consumed 1/4 cup of walnuts per day in comparison to those who did not lowered their insulin levels significantly. What does that mean? It could mean less medication (or fighting the need to go on medication in the first place). Work on making these healthy changes now so you don’t have to hear your doctor’s spiel later.
Cancer Fighters. Walnuts contain phytonutrients (juglone, tellimagrandin, and morin) that have shown to help fight off certain types of cancer – either via prevention mode or through inhibiting or slowing tumor growth. Walnuts are legit!
As a parting gift, I have included a pretty spicy recipe to add some zing to your tastebuds. If you don’t like walnuts as they are, you should definitely give this one a try.
Quick backstory on the recipe name. This recipe started out as To-Go Oats. Then, a dear friend of mine started calling it To-Goats which quickly (naturally) morphed into Goats. It has nothing to do with goats, which actually makes sense because my friend who came up with the name is a hip millennial now living in Cali with a true knack for meshing words into new words that have nothing to do with the original meaning. Basically, Goats is our inside joke, and now you’re all in on it.
As a writer and a fellow recipe hunter, I understand that if you are choosing to land on a recipe post, you are likely just interested in obtaining a recipe. Therefore, I will only share a quick blurb, followed by the sought out recipe and nutritional information including any helpful tips that I find pertinent.
So without further ado, I give you Goats!
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3/4 cup Unsweet Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Oat Milk, Regular Milk, etc. (your choice!)
1-2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1-4 to 1/2 cup Fresh or frozen berries
1-2 tablespoons Unsweetened shredded coconut
1-2 tablespoons Nut butter (Big Spoon Roasters is my favorite!)
Raw honey or pure maple syrup
In a small bowl mix oats and chia seeds. Add milk and Greek yogurt. Stir to combine all ingredients.
Cover the bowl, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. *Note: set in the fridge overnight for a thicker consistency, but you may need to add a splash of milk in the morning depending on your texture preferences.
Once removed from the fridge, add toppings of choice and enjoy
*Nutritional info below includes the “base” for Goats: rolled oats, chia seeds, soy milk and Greek yogurt (2%).
One last tip. For groceries, Trader Joe’s has all of your needs, and mostly ORGANIC on the cheap. Also, I cannot recommend Big Spoon Roasters enough. Low sugar, real ingredients, and freaking amazing. Gah I just love them! <3