Poached Green Tea Tarragon Chicken

End result.

Well, I just couldn’t help myself… Doesn’t this look incredible? I was inspired to create this dish last week when I was making my  morning cup of green tea and sprinkling of turmeric and tarragon on my breakfast eggs.  I thought, hmmm, ‘This tastes pretty good’…

And the rest is history.

A quick peak in the fridge fora some lonely chicken breasts and a light bulb went off in my head.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

I combined the chicken breasts with fresh green tea leaves with turmeric, tarragon and water in a pot over medium heat.

And let it simmer, covered for awhile, then reduce heat and keep it cookin’ for a soft, tender chicken.

Still cookin’…

Then, drained the excess water and was left with a beautiful array of tender chicken and blossomed green tea leaves.

I served this chicken dish with Gluten-Free Girl’s amazing Wild Rice Salad, which is one of my favorites.  A perfect side dish to compliment some tasty chicken.

Don’t ya think?

Poached Green Tea Tarragon Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup green tea leaves, dried
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. tarragon
  • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium sized pot, combine all ingredients over medium-heat.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce to a simmer; cook for another 25 minutes or until chicken is tender and fully cooked.
  3. Drain liquid.  Discard excess green tea leaves.
  4. Transfer to a serving plate.  Serve warm.
  5. Enjoy!

Cooking with tea is one of my favorite ways to create a unique taste to any dish from rice to tofu and chicken to stews…not only does this green tea create an incredible aroma and delicious taste, it’s full of antioxidants.

So, put down that cup of tea and pour those leaves into your favorite dish.

It may just surprise you.

Have you ever cooked with tea?

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Green Tea Jam

Well, you were probably expecting a holiday cookie recipe from me today, but I decided to save that … for a few more days…

I’m sure all of you will be busy baking holiday cookies this weekend…with your aprons on, your oven fired up, the good ol’ Kitchen Aid mixer churnin’ away and the sweet scents of nutmeg, all-spice and gingerbread lurking throughout your home…

So, instead of a holiday cookie, I decided to create a lil’ somethin’ that you can enjoy when you take a breather from the bakin’ this weekend…

So, go ahead. Sit back. Relax.

Bake some holiday cookies, dance in your kitchen to holiday jingles like nobody’s watchin’…toss on a Santa hat, deck the tree and hang that mistle toe.

Get into the season spirit.  ‘Fa-la-la-la-la’ …

And then escape with this divine recipe.

I present to you, my delicate n’ delicious Green Tea Jam.

Perfect served with any dish from hot oatmeal or toast in the morning, to salads and sandwiches for lunch or served as a condiment and glaze with poultry or fish.

Whichever way you choose to enjoy it.  Be sure to savor each bite.

“Green Tea in a Jam”, you say?

Yes, and I assure you … it’s much better than “Green Eggs n’ Ham”.

Sam I am. Hehehe…

Green Tea Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. brewed green tea
  • 16 oz. water
  • 2 lbs. fresh nectarines, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Lundberg Farms Brown Rice Syrup
  • 1/3 cup crystallized ginger

Directions

  1. Steep tea in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and place into a heavy saucepan with all ingredients except ginger.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. Add ginger.  Cook for another 20 minutes.  Remove from heat; set aside to cool.  Mixture will thicken when cooled.
  3. Enjoy!

And, just in time for the holidays, My Shop is offering a free shipping upgrade.  All eligible products are marked with the Blue Delivery Truck Icon noted below.

Here are a few ideas for Christmas Gifts that I thought you may enjoy for the ‘foodie’ on your list

These are some of my favorites!

Himalayan Salt Plate

VitaMix

John Boos Cherry Reversable Cutting Board

Yogitoes Yoga Mat Cover

OXO Mandoline Slicer

KitchenAid Food Processor

Ever order received before December 21st is guaranteed for delivery before Christmas!

Happy Holiday Shopping!

And, one last lil’ tidbit…here are a few foodie-fun websites worth your visiting and perusing…

Enjoy…

FoodDigger

Foodies Like Us (For Denver and Arizona folks)

Parties That Cook

And, Last But Surely Not Least…

In The News This Week…

2011 Menu Trends

New Guidelines Diagnose Food Allergies

The 10 Biggest Food Stories of 2010

Green Products Still Sell

Food Recalls Become Forgotten

Holistic Health Awareness to Lead 2011 Food Trends

Parent’s May Not Have Influence on Childrens Eating Habits

Re-Building the Food Pyramid

Experts Shun Fat-Free Diets

 

Coffee Alternatives

How do you jump-start your day?  The typical American wakes up with a large cup of joe…or two or three…

coffeeee

Interesting enough, Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee each day, making the US the world’s largest coffee consumer.

Now, we’ve all heard how coffee is supposed to enhance alertness, mental and physical performance and concentration, however, did you know that it inhibits the absorption of essential nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, iron and B Vitamins.

Coffee is simply a drug in a mug…it’s an adrenaline delivery system that jolts the body’s central nervous system.  This jolting action wakes us up and gets us going, however in the long term, the unnatural and constant stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that damage the resilience of the immune system (which protects against disease).  So, the question is, “Why would a healthy, normal person not be able to get through the day without this cup of joe (read: injection of adrenaline)?

Well,  coffee is part of a stress cycle; we need it to keep up with the pace of modern life.  However, did you know that drinking water and snacking on healthy foods throughout the day can help you to decrease/eliminate your coffee consumption?  Caffeine withdrawal is not a fun process; many people report mood swings and headaches.  Try switching to green, black or white tea in the morning.  I personally have 2 cups of green tea each morning and it gives me a healthy dose of antioxidants and caffeine.  Green and white teas have much lower caffeine levels than coffee and are a great way to relieve your ‘withdrawal headaches’.  Also, try pouring yourself a cup of 1/2 decaff, 1/2 regular coffee.

Go, ahead…you’ve got nothing to loose (except for a lotta caffeine)…Give my suggestions a whirl…Start by trying to decrease your coffee consumption.

For more information on caffeine, take a look at my Caffeine…Friend or Foe? post.

Here are a few alternatives to coffee for you to try:

  • Black Tea

Black tea is made from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, a perennial evergreen shrub.  The leaves of black tea are oxidized and heavily fermented before drying, which gives this tea a strong flavor.  Black tea varieties are named for their growing regions, such as Ceylon or Darjeeling.  Black tea has approximately 50 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup, compared to coffee which can have anywhere from about 100-190 mg per 8 ounce cup.  The amount of caffeine depends on how long the tea is brewed and the quality.

  • Green Tea

Green tea is known for its popularity in Japan and powerful antioxidant qualities.  Green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and lower LDL cholesterol.  Both black and green teas come from the leaves of the same plant, however, what sets green tea apart from black tea is the way it is processed.  The leaves are steamed, rather than fermented as in black teas.  This steaming process is said to enhance its disease-fighting qualities.  Green tea has about 30 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup.  Many people describe its taste as a grassy or earthy flavor–this is my favorite type of tea by far!!!

  • White Tea

White tea comes from the same plant as green and black teas however the difference is in the leaves.  These leaves are picked earlier in the season when the leaves are young and buds are covered with white hairs, giving tea its name.  White tea has gone through a minimal amount of processing and is not fermented.  It has a light sweet taste and has a small amount of caffeine, approximately 15 mg per serving.

  • Dandy Blend

This instant beverage is an herbal coffee substitute made from chicory, sugar beet and dandelion (known for its detoxifying properties).  Dandy Blend is rich in minerals and provides extra energy without caffeine.

  • Pero

This caffeine-free, instant coffee substitute is from Switzerland and is made from chicory, rye and malted barley.

  • Teechino

A blend of roasted grains, fruits, nuts and herbs make up this caffeine-free coffee alternative.  It brews similarly to coffee, can be used in a coffee machine and has a similar aroma and taste to coffee! Teechino has high levels of potassium, which helps to balance acidity in the body.  Moreover, it offers a natural energy boost from the nutrients, not from the stimulants

  • Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is a species of holly, native to South America.  It is prepared by steeping dried leaves in hot water, rather than boiling hot water as you would coffee or tea.  The flavor is bitter, herbal, grassy and some say similar to green tea.  The stimulant in yerba mate is called Xanthines, which is similar to caffeine, although many people report fewer side effects.  Yerba Mate contains potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Have you tried any of these coffee alternatives?  Give them a try and let me know how this ‘non-coffee’ experiment works for you…how do you feel?

Simply Satisfying Swaps

Here are a few tricks of the trade from my healthy kitchen to yours…read on for some great alternatives to your pantry staples.

newwww 

  • Swap your traditional mayo for plain Greek yogurt.  My favorite brands are Chobiani, Fage and Siggi’s.  These yogurts are a perfect substitution to mix into your typical tuna salad or spread onto your sandwich.  Moreover, Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, probiotics and protein–these benefits out way the typical sodium-laden mayo.

Here are a few other ways to swap Greek yogurt into your meals and snacks.

-When making a veggie dip, substitute for sour cream by using 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with lemon/lime juice, Nu-Salt and pepper, as well as dried herbs and spices of choice.

-Toss a salmon, chicken, pasta, or tuna salad with Greek yogurt and a dollop of Dijon with a few dried cranberries.

-Use Greek yogurt when marinating your choice of protein (Seitan, Tofu, Tempeh, Chicken, Turkey, etc.) By simply combining yogurt with a dash of balsamic vinegar, herbs/spices and sesame seed oil will make your mouth water and impress your guests at your next BBQ.

  • Add fruits and vegetables to everything.  By filling up at every meal with these antioxidant packed, water-dense foods–you’ll reap nutritional benefits and a ton of filling fiber.  This will not only increase the volume of your meals but it will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks for adding in more fruits and veggies.

Pile veggies on that sandwich! Add any fruit or veggie such as roasted red peppers, collard greens, kale, sprouts, sliced apples and pears.

-No matter what type of  ‘salad’ your menu is calling for (chicken, tuna, pasta, potato, etc.), add in fresh red grapes with pine nuts, toss in fresh pineapple chunks with blueberries, finely chopped red bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini, or toss in red onions, shallots, cherry tomatoes and black olives.  Any of these fruits and veggies will jazz up your ‘salad’ whether tossed in alone or all together.  Have fun and experiment with different flavor combinations such as diced apples with walnuts into your tuna salad or black olives with yellow corn in your potato salad.  Don’t forget to drizzle some balsamic vinegar along with fresh lemon or lime juice over the final product-this will ensure a lasting zest to any dish!

-Add orange, lemon, lime zest to top any dish including omelets, meats, grains, salads and oatmeal!

-In the mood for a pizza? Simply swap your pepperoni for grilled veggies with extra tomato sauce! Take a peak at some of my favorite pizza recipes on my Recipe page.

-Break out your blender! You know it’s hiding behind your bowls in your pantry–so break it out and explore the endless opportunities of creating delicious smoothies.  Simply blending a few ice cubes with fresh fruits and vegetables along with a dollop of Greek yogurt will leave you satisfied whether it’s for breakfast, dessert, or just an afternoon snack to cool off from the heat. I like to combine 1 cup Greek yogurt, with a banana, spinach, lime juice and a drizzle of honey!

  • Eat what you crave.  Have fun playing Martha Stewart in your kitchen and start experimenting with healthier variations of your favorite treats!  Check out my On-the-Go Snacks Category for more snack ideas.  Just be sure your snack is a nice combo of healthy fats, carbs and protein to keep you satisfied and your tummy happy.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to indulge with healthier and more nutritious options.

-Sub in dark chocolate for milk chocolate and you’ll get a nice dose of antioxidants and richer flavor with each bite!

-Alternate with non-dairy options such as rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk and coconut milk in your recipes.

-Try a non-dairy frozen treat with brands such as Toffutti , Soy Dream, and Rice Dream.

-Create a delictable dessert by starting with a whole wheat or gluten free tortilla, then spread with peanut butter and add a few dark chocolate chips along with a drizzle of honey.  Wrap up the wrap and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Enjoy this warm, delicious treat that packs in antioxidants from the honey and dark chocolate as well as a nice dose of protein from the nut butter.

-Bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Simply dip the banana  into melted dark chocolate and coat with crushed peanuts. 

-French toast is a breakfast favorite of many of my clients, however, try dipping your bread into egg whites and serve with Greek yogurt and berries.

-Toss in berries and crushed walnuts in your favorite pancake and waffle recipe for a heart healthy does of Omega 3’s as well as antioxidants.  Drizzle with organic honey and a nice spread of nut butter for a well rounded meal.

-Enjoy Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar or  honey, chocolate chips and slivered almonds for a colling treat!

-Make your own frozen juice bars. Simply use pop-sickle Tupperware holders and create your very own natural fruit juice…pour into the tray and once they’re frozen you can enjoy a delicious fresh squeezed juice ice pop!

-Enjoy a bowl of organic apple sauce with a few peanuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, all spice, numeg and Greek yogurt.

-Slice and core apples, place into a deep dish and cover with cinnamon, honey, lemon juice and water. Enjoy these freshly baked apples with granola for a decadent dessert.

-Dried fruit stuffed with nut butter.  Some of my clients enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter…I like dried apricots with cashew butter and dipped in melted dark chocolate. Give these a try-I assure you they will satisfy your sweet tooth in a pinch!  Experiment with different dried fruits and nut butters such as dried cranberries, cherries, pears, apples and bananas to name a few and simply dip into warm dark chocolate or for a protein boost dip into warm almond, cashew or peanut butter.

-Mix together a warm cup of oats with 3/4 cup of steel cut oats, cashews, unsweetened coconut and golden raisins.

-Toast up a delicious afternoon hold-me-over snack with your favorite bread.  Toast bread and top with natural nut butter, thin sliced apples and a drizzle of honey.

-Chop up quick crudities of raw veggies with a side of hummus, guacamole, and salsa dips for your afternoon ‘at-your-desk’ pick me up.

-Pair together a piece of all natural turkey breast with hummus and red bell peppers for a satisfying protein boost.

-Reach for those filling, high fiber crackers and top with 1/4 cup black beans, a dollop of Greek yogurt, salsa and melted SoyaKaas soy cheese.

-For your 3PM blood sugar drop, pack a fresh piece of fruit with a few slices of SoyaKaas soy cheese and raw almonds.

-Try topping your bran crackers with an all natural apple butter and a handful of tasty macadamia nuts.

-Reach for a bag of frozen edemame, heat up in the microwave and top with Eden Organic Pasta Sauce and a hit of melted soy cheese.

-Make a dip with mashed avocado, chili powder and Greek yogurt; pair with veggies and crackers for a pre-dinner appetizer.

-Make your own trail mix with carob chips, granola, puffed rice, almonds and dried fruit.  Pack into individual serving sized Zip-lock bags for easy go-to-snacks for the office or when out running errands between meals.

  • Switch up your cooking methods–choose a unique and tasty broth for a flavor boost.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to switch up broths when cooking.

Use tea bags while cooking.  I love using my green tea bags when making my chicken-not only is it delicious, but I enjoy all of the healthy antioxidants as well.

-Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock.  You can find delicious low sodium varieties in your local health food store, which are organic and quite flavorful.

  • Move over blender, reach in that pantry for your Cuisinart.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to puree foods with my handy, dandy Cuisinart.

-Hummus. Enough said.  Puree chickpeas, white, black or kidney beans with a dash of tahini and vegetables of your choice…puree well…and poof-your very own homemade hummus.  My favorite hummus recipe is black olives, chickpeas, fresh basil and roasted red peppers.  Enjoy with pita wedges for a fabulous appetizer.  Be sure to check out my Recipe Pagefor more of my homemade hummus recipes.

-Casseroles.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Fond memories (or shall I say nightmares of mom’s weird casseroles back in the ’80’s”…no, no, no…these casseroles are even more delish…simply puree parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. with bran  crumbs, a dollop of Greek yogurt and some orange zest for a nice side dish.

  •  Spice n’ Herb it up! Condiments can do wonders–Get zesty with new flavors.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate condiments and herbs n’ spices.  Be sure to check out my Condiments of Choice Page and Product Reviews Page for more ideas.

-Cinnamon is fabulous. Enough said.  Add it to your morning oatmeal, sprinkle it into your chicken salad, dash a bit into your yogurt with some nuts and granola.

-Salsa, salsa, salsa…and I’m not talking about the dance! Add salsa to your morning omelet, afternoon crudites, pile it onto your sandwich or jazz up your salad, and don’t forget to use it with your homemade tacos and burritos.  My favorite salsa is Amy’s Organic Black Bean and Corn—it is a hearty, chunky salsa with an amazing taste and a must for any dish!

-Mustard is a great choice to spread onto any sandwich, bun or wrap–the flavors and varieties are endless…

-Wheat free low sodium tamari sauce is a wonderful way to substitute your soy sauce sans the gluten!

-As I mentioned above, lemon and lime juice add a pungent flavor to any dish and marinade.  Adding this juice to spices, mustard and Greek yogurt will make a wonderful sauce in place of a heavy cream sauce.

-Vinegars can do wonders.  I love buying organic white balsamic vinegars–experiment with purchasing different vinegars and see what your taste buds have been missing!   

-My favorite herbs are fresh cilantro and basil, not to mention dried thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Top any dish with these delicious herbs instead of processed, calorie laden sauces.  It’s a cheap and easy way to add great flavor to your meals—my father has always grown a beautiful garden in our back yard with a wonderful array of herbs that we use for cooking.  Thanks dad for getting me hooked on healthy, antioxidant packed fresh herbs!  I can’t wait to see your garden this summer.

-Whip up a quick marinade at your next BBQ using tamari, fresh garlic and grated ginger–lather on top of veggie kabobs and throw ’em on the grill for  serious BBQ flavor!

I hope you enjoyed a few of my Healthy Food ‘Swaps’ …do you have any swaps that you use in your meals and snacks?

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