HARISSA CHICKEN WITH LEEKS, POTATOES AND YOGURT

This Melissa Clark recipe is AMAZING!!! I made this a few days ago and grilled the chicken instead of baking it in the oven. Either way, try it!

ingredientsdownload.jpg

2 tablespoons harissa

4 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons kosher or flaky sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 chicken thighs

3 chicken legs

1 pounds roasting potatoes (such as Yukon Golds) and/or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ -inch cubes

2 leeks, washed, sliced in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced crossways

grated zest of one lemon

½ cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

lemon or lime juice

1 cup mix of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chervil, and tarragon, very coarsely chopped

directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the harissa, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, 2 ½ teaspoons of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the black pepper. Add the chicken and potatoes, then rub the thighs and legs and potatoes with the marinade. Be sure to use your hands to rub the sauce under the skin of the chicken. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the leeks together with the lemon zest, ¼ of the salt, and the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
  4. Transfer the chicken and potatoes, and any sauce in the bowl, onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the chicken pieces so they are skin side up, and make sure the chicken parts and potatoes are in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Toss the potatoes (so they can brown on the other sides of them) then strew the leeks over everything on the baking sheet. It may look like a lot, but they’ll bake down.
  6. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, another 20 to 25 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the garlic, the remaining salt and pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
  7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon the yogurt sauce in various places over the chicken and potatoes. Top with fresh herbs and serve.

(Melissa’s Clark recipe found on www.tastecooking.com)

 

 

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I’ve fallen but CAN get up!

On August 18th, I had my first serious bike accident. I was going down a hill at 30 mph and must have hit some loose gravel and a fell off of my bike onto my right side. I came down hard on my right thigh, banged my head, and cracked my 10802-Sad-And-Stunned-Male-Biker-Clutching-The-Handles-To-His-Damaged-Mountain-Bike-Clipart-Illustrationhelmet. I don’t remember much about the fall but my husband, who was with me, told me that I screamed, fell, paused for a moment,  and then stood up. I was walking around in such a way that he thought I could get back on the bike. I couldn’t. I was very banged up, confused (had a mild concussion) and had 2 broken ribs on my right side.  Once he fully understood my state, he called an ambulance.

Given how fast I was going, it is miraculous that I walked away with these mild injuries. I was VERY lucky and feel extremely fortunate.

The one glaring lesson that I’ve learned, is this: STRONG LEGS ARE ESSENTIAL. It’s great to be able to do push-ups, but strong legs are imperative to being healthy—especially as you get older. Many older people can’t stand up from sitting in a chair, simply because it’s too difficult. This becomes a domino effect: Not being able to get up leads to inactivity. Inactivity leads to a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle leads to an increase risk of developing hypertension, coronary heart disease, anxiety and depression, and certain cancers. Reduced activity increases the risk for falling, which can lead to hip fractures. Hip fractures are a very serious health issue for people over 65. It could lead to crippling disability and even death.

Bottom line: Keep moving. Work your leg muscles! Work those muscles until you feel them fatigue or burn! Walk, jog, weight train, bike, squat, lunge, jump, hike, skip, play tennis! If you are a beginner, sit in your kitchen chair with your legs at 90 degrees and stand up and sit down. Keep this up so that you can stay active and healthy. This means when you fall you CAN  get up!

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BLACKBERRY-GLAZED CHICKEN

Summer is still here so fire up your grill and try this chicken dish. Super simple and screams SUMMER!!

ingredientsblackberry-glazed-chicken-1565022551

1 (6-ounce) package blackberries

¼ c. water

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. cold butter

1 tbsp. whole-grain mustard

8 pieces chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, quartered breasts)

Kosher salt and black pepper

Fresh, flat-leaf parsley

directions

Heat grill to medium. Combine blackberries, water, white wine vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan; simmer, mashing occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 Tbsp., 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in butter and whole-grain mustard. Transfer half the glaze to a bowl; reserve.

Meanwhile, pat chicken parts dry; season with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill, skin-sides up, covered, 15 minutes. Uncover, baste with some of the glaze and grill, turning and basting occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh flat-leaf parsley and serve with remaining glaze.

(recipe found on http://www.countryliving.com)

 

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THE DETRIMENT OF DIETING

Many of you know how I feel about diets: I HATE THEM. I know this is a strong statement but I would feel differently if they worked. They don’t. In fact, chronic images.pngdieting wreaks havoc on your psyche and on your body. Emotionally, unsuccessful dieting can make you feel like a failure, full or shame and self-hatred, and/or utterly frustrated. Physically, chronic yo-yo dieting can slow down your metabolism. In addition, it can change your body composition leaving you with more fat and less muscle.

Here’s another huge problem with dieting: You become so focused on the rules of the diet that you lose the  connection that you have with your body. You learn to accept feeling hungry, cutting out food groups, or eating foods that you don’t really enjoy. This is not conducive for long-term success.

A client of mine, let’s call her Jane, has been a chronic dieter her whole life. She’s a woman in her mid-forties, who came to me because she wanted to lose weight. After talking with her and understanding her long diet history, I knew she was looking for me to solve the problem. She would have been ecstatic if I handed her a sheet of paper, telling her exactly what to eat. In essence, she was looking for another diet.

I had to set Jane straight. I wanted her focus NOT to be dieting or weight loss but on other factors that were keeping her from losing weight—her real barriers. One of Jane’s barriers was her erratic work schedule. Often, she would go for long periods of time without food. By the time she had a break, she was “starving”, so naturally, when she sat down to eat, she ate too much and too much of the wrong foods.  However, when Jane’s work was more predictable, her eating was mindful and healthy. She had time to shop, prep and cook. Most importantly, she had time to figure out when she felt hungry (and not starving) and when she had enough (satiety). This is what mindful eating is all about.

My strategy for Jane was to have her armed and ready for the erratic days. She had to make sure she had healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts, to keep that “starving feeling” at bay. She is starting to see how this is making a big difference rather than following a strict diet, feeling strangulated with restrictions, and then  throwing in the towel because it’s just too hard. I am encouraging her to focus on her body to see what it’s telling her and to act accordingly.  In her case it means that she can’t ignore the hunger. This is a long-term strategy rather than, in the short-term,  counting calories on an app, and ignoring her body’s signals.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE:  If you want to lose weight, and have not been successful, DO NOT try another diet.  Instead, try a DIFFERENT approach: Take the focus OFF of weight loss and look for the underlying barriers that are sabotaging your progress.

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LESSONS FROM THE SHAMROCK

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine went on vacation and asked me to take care of one of her plants. She loved this plant—it’s called an oxalis (a.k.a. a shamrock). I know this sounds ridiculous, but after one day, I fell in love with this plant!

Her oxalis plant had greenish leaves divided into sections and each section looked like a 3-leaf clover. It also had tiny white flowers. What I love about this plant is that it moves—the leaves respond to light and darkness. In the light, the leaves are open and extended; in the dark, they collapse and fall in. It is so much fun watching this plant in action! You have to check out this video to see what I’m talking about.

http://plantsinmotion.bio.indiana.edu/plantmotion/movements/leafmovements/oxalis/oxalis.html

I loved watching nature unfold (or fold) right in front of me! The oxalis listens carefully to its environment and responds to it.

We can learn a great lesson from this plant by responding to our internal environment, too: INFORMATION FROM OUR BODIES. We need to rest when we’re tired, eat when we’re hungry (NOT eat when we’re NOT hungry), and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Moving our bodies will give us energy; stretching will keep us less IMG_1094stiff. So often, we ignore the messages our bodies are telling us. We need to pay attention and respond!

After my friend came back home, I went out and bought my own oxalis. My plant has 3-leaf clovers with deep reddish/maroon leaves and tiny purple flowers. It’s the ultimate slice of nature sitting right in my kitchen.

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IRIS’S BLACK BEAN DISH

Thank you, Iris, for giving me this simple, delicious black bean dish. I loved it hot, cold or room temperature!  This is a great side dish OR you can make it as a vegetarian meal and serve it with brown rice or your favorite grain. 

ingredientsIMG_1084

1 onion, finally chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow or red bell pepper, finally chopped

olive oil

1, 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper or cayenne pepper (optional)

1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

directions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, garlic, pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add rinsed beans. Stir to combine. Season with oregano, salt, freshly ground pepper (or cayenne). Cook for several minutes so that beans are heated through. Add vinegar, stir, and serve.

NOTE: This dish is also delicious served at room temperature.

(This recipe was created by my friend, Iris!)

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SALAD 101

Some of my clients only seem to enjoy eating salads when they’re out in a restaurant.  They find making them at home to be tedious and for some reason, their salads seem to be BLAH. Eating a lot of greens is a wonderful way to pour nutrients and phytochemicals into your body,  so I’d like to give you a few pointers so that you can enjoy delicious salads at home.

  1. Keep your greens dry. So often, we buy a giant container of mixed greens, spinach or arugula, only to find that there were a few wet leaves in the mix that caused rotting of a good portion of the salad.  To avoid this, open the container, pick out the wet leaves,  and store the remaining dry ones in reusable green bags. I use Debbie Meyer GreenBags and love them! The greens stay fresher longer and I can re-use the bags. You can also put a paper towel in the bag to absorb any additional water.  You will have crisp greens ready at your fingertips:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015Y7B57U/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  2. Be creative! Add things to your salad that you love. I love adding some fruit into my salads. In the summer, I add strawberries and blueberries. In the winter, I add apples, pears or grapes. You can add leftover cooked vegetables, any protein that you like,  or sprinkle your salads with beans. Aged cheeses, like Parmesan or feta,  go a long way—you will be surprised how little you’ll need to make a huge IMG_1073difference! Make your salads colorful! Add sliced yellow peppers, red spiralized beets, and/or orange carrots. You can include green avocado, orange slices and/or yellow corn.
  3. Season it! This is a game changer. Sprinkling a bit of salt on your salad will make your salad come to life. Flavors will pop and everything will taste better. I learned this trick when I lived in Italy for eight years. It was also reinforced when I read the cookbook, “Salt, Fat Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton. Salt enhances sweetness and blocks bitterness.
  4. Toss it! Pouring dressing on salad in a bowl and pushing it around with your fork is no way to eat a salad. Get a large wooden salad bowl so you have room to toss. I bought this one from amazon and love it.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q312WXN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

5. Top quality olive oil is the key. I am not a fan of salad dressings because many of them are full of chemicals. Olive oil, instead, is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. If you get a good brand, and choose extra-virgin, you might pay a bit more for it, but it will be worth it! For some tips on what to look for, check out this link:

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/how-to-buy-olive-oil-beginners-guide

In summary, having just a few tools—good storage bags for salad greens, and a wooden salad bowl to toss, will make salads easier to create.  Adding colorful ingredients that you love, a sprinkle of salt and some high quality extra-virgin olive oil,  will make home salads taste spectacular!

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