By: Leanne Ely
It’s time for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe! And in honor of this most ultimate summer squash, today we’re giving it the attention it deserves. Sound good?
Zucchinis are packed with beta-carotene, potassium and B vitamins. They also provide fiber and a bit of Vitamin C, but a large zucchini contains only 16 calories!
While zucchini can be used in muffin and loaf recipes, I prefer to eat it in its pure form, simply stir fried as a simple side dish. Oh you know what else is good? Grated zucchini sautéed in olive oil and a bit of garlic with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and almost rice-like in texture.
This is one versatile and delicious veggie!
Now, it’s time for your Trick:
If you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini in your garden, grate it up and put it in the freezer, sealed individually in one-cup servings.
Select small to medium sized zucchini if you’re eating them for flavor. The bigger guys start to lose their taste after awhile. They’re okay for purposes like zucchini bread, but they won’t do much for you in a stir fry.
And your Recipe from our new 21 Day Knock Out!
Fried Egg and Veggie Skillet
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 pound zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
4 large eggs
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: In a very large skillet over medium high heat, melt half the coconut oil. Add onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in thyme.
Move the veggies to the outer edges of the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil. Crack eggs into the center and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip eggs over and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until eggs reach desired doneness.
Carefully scoop vegetables out and top with eggs. Season eggs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
If you want more tasty recipes to help you stay on track and get ready for summer, join me on our new 21 Day Knock Out here!
By: Leanne Ely
Not all bell peppers are created equal. First there are the colors – red, orange, yellow, and green are the most common. Second is the flavor – from sweet to hot. It is all from the same plant. The only difference is when they are picked. As the pepper gets riper, it gets not only a better taste, but it also gets more nutritive value. A red pepper is actually a fully ripened green pepper with a milder flavor.
Here’s Today’s Trick:
Bell peppers freeze well without being blanched, but it is better to wash them first. For maximum flavor and nutritional value, store them whole. Sweet peppers lend themselves well to drying and keep at least 1 year when dried. They are also good marinated.
Here’s a Tip:
Red pepper has more vitamin C than oranges and are also high in beta-carotene.
And your Recipe:
Chicken Verde Fajitas
1 1/2 pounds green tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium limes, juiced
2 small jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
2 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
Preheat broiler to high.
Slice the tomatillos in half lengthwise, and place cut-side down in a baking dish. Roast under the broiler 6 to 8 minutes, until skin takes on a darker color. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a food processer, add cooled tomatillos, chopped onion, garlic, lime juice, jalapeños, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Blend until a puree is formed. Pour this mixture into a small freezer bag, remove excess air, and seal.
In a small mixing bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over chicken breasts. Place seasoned chicken in a freezer bag, remove excess air, and seal.
In a final freezer bag, place sliced onion and bell peppers, remove excess air, and seal.
To prevent freezer burn, place the filled bag in a second 1-gallon freezer bag; carefully squeeze the bag to force out any air, then seal. On the outside of the bag, label with the recipe name and date of preparation; place it in the freezer
Defrost your freezer meal the night before in the fridge. If you don’t have a full thaw at cooking time, remove it from the holding bag and place it in a sink of water to speed-thaw your food. New rules allow for thawing in hot water (100 degrees) with no issues regarding quality or safety (old rules said to use cold water for thawing, but this is no longer necessary – hot water is fast, effective and safe).
At time of cooking ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 head romaine lettuce
In a large crock cooker, add half of the tomatillo puree. Place chicken breasts on top of tomatillo puree. Add all vegetables and the rest of the tomatillo puree.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock cooker. With two forks, remove chicken from bone and shred. Return chicken to crock cooker and mix well.
Serve in romaine lettuce cups topped with fresh avocado.
Dinner Answers will give you what you need to get all your meals on the table, pronto. Click here!
By: Leanne Ely
As far as I’m concerned, basic kitchen skills are every bit as important to teach our children as are basic hygiene skills. We brush our teeth and wash our hands multiple times every day of our lives, and we also have to eat multiple times a day, every day of our lives. So, why is it that we don’t seem to put an emphasis on teaching our children basic kitchen skills at an early age?
My children were up at the counter helping me with age-appropriate tasks right from the time they were in diapers. I never had to worry that they wouldn’t know how to put a meal on the table when they were out on their own!
If you are among the thousands of folks who love our Saving Dinner freezer menus, I hope you’re using your prep as a teaching opportunity.
The way our freezer menus work (in case you’re not familiar) is that you do all of your prep at once so that you can cook your meals fresh from the freezer on those nights when you’re frazzled and tempted to order takeout.
Not only are these freezer menus a real life saver and an essential tool in the kitchen, in my opinion, but they are also an ideal way to get the kids involved in dinner prep. Depending on the age of the child, this could give you a bit of help and we all know that when kids have a hand in the meal, they are much more likely to eat it! If you’re tempted to chase the younger kids out of the kitchen because it creates more work, remind yourself that the teaching opportunity is worth it!
The following are the ways you can involve your children in freezer meal prep:
Have the kids help with the grocery list. Meal planning and grocery shopping are essential skills! Our freezer meals come with shopping lists, so go over them with your child before you head out to the market. Have them help you determine which items you already have on hand. When you’re at the store, show them why you’re choosing those darker avocados over the light green ones. Explain best before dates and why you buy certain items in bulk. Talk about budgeting and why you buy certain items frozen rather than fresh. Grocery shopping is a giant teaching opportunity, so don’t leave the kids home—take them along!
Make your child the sous chef. When you get home and are ready to do the meal assembly prep, while you handle the protein, let the kids set up the produce required for the recipes. Depending on age, this might be simple stuff like passing you two onions or selecting the right spices from the cupboard. If your children are of chopping age, let them do some of that prep while you supervise. If they aren’t old enough to master knife skills, they can stir spice mixes and help place the assembled meal into the plastic bag, sealing it for the freezer.
Have them do the labeling. Hand your child the marker and ask them to label and date the bag for you.
When it’s time to take that meal out of the freezer and cook it, get junior back in the kitchen! Go over the cooking ingredients together and see what you need to get from the store and what you have on hand. Not only does this teach cooking skills, but it also helps with literacy and math skills.
Then, show the kids how you safely thaw the meal (in a bowl of cold water), and let them help you prepare the side dish you’ll be serving alongside the meal. Kids are great at making salads!
If you have multiple children, put someone in charge of setting the table, someone in charge of clearing it, and make sure to enlist help with the dishes—preferably someone who didn’t help with the cooking!
I am so passionate about getting the family around the table together, and having everyone pitch in at dinner table is a fabulous way to let everyone have a stake in the meal you’ll be enjoying.
PS–We just released our first BRAND NEW Freezer Meals of the year! 6 amazing new menus and we have them on sale for over half off this week! Click here to learn more
By: Leanne Ely
Salmon is one of my all-time favorite fish and one of my all-time favorite meals for that matter. There are so many nutritional benefits to eating from its lovely healthy fatty omega 3’s to it’s outstanding source of protein, it’s important to make sure you eating the right kind of fish.
Instead of choosing farm-raised fish, scrutinize the label (if buying frozen) or ask your fish monger for wild caught only. For one it sounds more fun and makes your groceries sound a little more exciting than they really are, LOL. But the most obvious reason to choose wild salmon and other wild fish over farm raised, is that its clean. There’s a bunch of stuff you don’t want to be eating via farm raised fish, including dioxins (also found in plastics).
According to naturalnews.com, farm-raised salmon has 11 times more carcinogens than wild. Carcinogens root in dioxins and are directly linked to radiation that can mess with your metabolic system and is a prominent cause of cancer. Long story short: you do not want that in your body!
Naturalnews.com also touches on how this stark difference in environment comes to be. The dioxins creep more into farm-raised fish because the various types of feed those farmers will give to their stock contaminates the waters.
Even though wild will cost you a bit more, it’s worth the health benefits. So be a little wild (pun intended), and make the better buy!
By: Leanne Ely
I almost always have a batch of bone broth simmering in my kitchen. This healing broth is more to me than soup. It’s a wonderful elixir that helps heal my gut and guards me from getting sick.
If you have an autoimmune disorder (like I do), making bone broth a part of your regular daily life helps tremendously with energy levels and digestion, too.
And by the way, I do not mean the cartons of broth you buy at the grocery store. In order to have a good healing bone broth, you need to make your own.
But I understand that’s easier said than done, so I’m here to take you through the entire process start to finish.
First of all, let me remind you why you should be making bone broth a part of your day.
Nutritional Benefits of Bone Broth
Your bowl of bone broth contains a healing helping of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which work together to reduce inflammation, joint pain and other symptoms of arthritis.
Bone broth is excellent for digestion (it will do wonders for your gut), but it’ll also aid your nervous and immune systems and help your muscles grow and repair.
That same broth will also give you a huge boost of minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. It’s also rich in proline, glycine and amino acids.
And did I neglect to mention that bone broth helps to prevent bone loss while building healthy hair, nails and skin?
Now that you know why it’s so good for you, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Start With Good Bones!
Find yourself a very good butcher. You can use bones from any animal as long as it was a good, healthy one. I prefer locally sourced bones, organically grown if possible. At the very least, grass-fed. Do not use factory-farmed animals—they aren’t going to result in a nutritious broth. (Hint: If you can’t source good bones locally, buy bones online from US Wellness Meats).
Keep in mind that the flavor will change based on the kind of animal you use, but it’s okay to mix your bones. And the absolute best bones are marrow bones. You want big bones like knuckles, which contain cartilage. That means more collagen, which means a healthier broth.
How To Make Bone Broth
For best flavor, start by roasting your bones. To do this, place the bones in a pan in a 350 degree oven and roast for one hour. Then move them to your slow cooker with some salt, pepper, onion, celery, carrots, herbs and a few cloves of garlic. Add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar so that the minerals and nutrients can be leeched from the bones. Cook on low for at least 8 hours for poultry, 12 for beef. I tend to go much longer, up to 72 hours. You’ll need to replace the water from time to time, so the crock cooker is filled almost to the top.
When the broth has cooked as long as you need it to, strain the broth and let it sit in the fridge until the fat hardens on the surface. Spoon off the fat and in the morning, if you’ve done it just right, the broth should be good and gelatinized.
If your broth doesn’t gel, you might have added too much water, or perhaps you didn’t cook your broth long enough or too vigorously. Remember, the larger the bones, the longer they will need to cook! Also, they need connective tissue—that’s where the gelatin is so bones with joints are helpful. That’s why I LOVE chicken feet! (yeah, I know…gross, but magnificent, delicious gelled bone broth!)
Jiggle Achieved…Now What?
What do you do with that healing elixir?
Drink it from a mug like you would a cup of coffee. This is a great way to start the day! I also make soup from my broth, and I use it in recipes calling for stock. I aim to consume about 8 ounces of bone broth per day (more during flu season because of the immune boost it gives me), which really isn’t that difficult.
Storing Bone Broth
You should use up your broth within 3 or 4 days. If you need longer than that, move it to the freezer. It will keep there for up to a year.
Store some of your bone broth in an ice cube tray so you always have some on hand when your recipe calls for a little bit of stock! (2 cubes for recipes calling for 1/4 cup, 4 cubes to the 1/2 cup).
Want more recipes? Click here.
By: Leanne Ely
It’s 5pm. Songs of “What’s for dinner?” ring through the house, and you realize you have no idea. You have nothing thawed, nothing planned, and you have a house full of hungry people.
This is one of the reasons why I’m big on meal planning, but this exact scenario happens to all of us from time to time.
While meal planning is the real life saver (check out Menu Mailer, seriously!), if you take a bit of time every week to prep your fridge, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it will be to feed your family.
Here are some tips to help you get your food and fridge (and life) under control.
Organize your fridge.
There’s something about a clean, organized refrigerator that makes cooking a more enjoyable experience. If you’re just stuffing your groceries in the fridge so that they fit, you will never know what’s really in there. Besides that, a refrigerator is designed to store your food so that everything stays as fresh as possible.
The crisper drawer is meant for produce, so that your vegetables stay nice and hydrated. Eggs should be deep inside the fridge where it’s even and cool. Don’t store them (or anything perishable) in the door of the fridge where the temperature fluctuates every time the door is open. The door of the fridge can be used to store condiments. Your fridge probably has a meat keeper drawer. That is the coldest part of your fridge, so use it for your meat (which is likely the most perishable item in there anyway). You can keep fish in there, too.
Prep your produce.
It’s going to be much easier to get a meal on the table if your fridge is full of prepped veggies. When you get home with your produce, take a few minutes to wash/chop/and bag your food. Here, I’m talking about washing the salad greens and putting them in a zipper bag so it’s ready for you. Wash and slice the cucumbers. Wash/trim/chop the broccoli and cauliflower. Wash and slice the bell peppers. Clean and chop the mushrooms. Get the pineapple diced and peeled. With all of that done ahead of time, you’ll be able to quickly pull together at least a salad or stir fry on the fly!
Chop the meat.
If you’re buying chicken breasts for a stir fry, slice them when you get them home. While you’re at it, why not make up the marinade and store the sliced chicken with its sauce? If you have a favorite rub or marinade for your pork tenderloin, prep it when you have a free minute. Buying ground beef for burgers? Make up the patties ahead of time, and dinner will get on the table that much quicker the night of. (Bonus tip: When you freeze meat, try to freeze flat in a single row so it will be quicker to thaw in a pinch.)
Why not roast up all your sweet potatoes at once for the week? (If you have your oven on to roast chicken or something, take the time to roast up some veggies or potatoes while you’re at it.) If you’ll be having quinoa or rice a couple times through the week, cook it in batches, and portion it out ahead of time.
Once you get into the habit of prepping meals, you’ll start to naturally find short cuts for the types of meals you like to cook. You’ll be amazed at how much a bit of prep can change your life!
PS–Did you hear about the BRAND NEW 21 Day Knockout? This will be our third knockout, and the success stories from the first two were amazing! Click here to learn more