Healthy and Hearty

Zucchini Lasagna

Lately, I have been trying to incorporate as many vegetables as possible when cooking. Whether its sautéing all the older veggies in the fridge and throwing them into pasta, or adding them as a side to a nice piece of steak. Either way, getting our vegetables in on a daily basis is important for overall health. As it is passover week, we are steering clear of bread products, and I decided it was time to recipe test a fan favorite, lasagna. Only, this lasagna, is made solely from zucchini. BOOM. (mic drop)

Zucchini happens to be one of my all time, OG vegetables. It is versatile, easy to cook, and a slow-resistant starchy vegetable. It’s also predominately made out of water, so it can be very filling due to the water content. Nevertheless, I decided that tonight was the night to make lasagna using zucchini as the noodles. Granted, it definitely does not taste the same as regular noodles, it was still rather yummy. I also don’t have a mandolin, so I had to make sure my slices were fairly thin, but not too thin that they would break easily. I should mention here, that I laid the zucchini out with salt to wick the moisture out, as I stated zucchini holds a lot of water (even after baking, there was still a good amount of water).

The lasagna is assembled much like a regular one would. Start with some marinara on the bottom of the pan to hold the zucchini in place. Then, add in the first layer of zucchini (I used a 13×9 pan and fit six zucchini slices across the bottom). I added ricotta and smoothed it across (as best as I can) to coat the zucchini. Next, dollops of marinara sauce, followed by a thin coating of mozzarella cheese. I repeated this until I had no more zucchini left (approximately equal to 4 layers).

I topped off the final layer with a generous serving of cheese, and baked this in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Towards the end, about 3-4 minutes, I turned the oven to broil. Let cool down for a bit before serving, especially as the zucchini will let out a lot of moisture so this will help everything set. This is such a good party dish, although it is a bit difficult to assemble. Still, very tasty, and healthy 🙂 NOMaste!

Shrimp Scampi

Finally, the weather is catching up to the changing seasons. April is upon us and while it started out rather dreary, it’s starting to grow warmer, days later, and sun shining stronger. A perfect example of this is getting sunburnt just sitting out in the sun for one hour. Literally, ONE hour. I digress. Part of my journey this week for fish week is to try out new recipes that I have been yearning to try, which obviously includes shrimp. We had a slight mishap with flounder (which went rancid way too quickly…) and so I resorted to shrimp a day early.

Shrimp is one of those proteins that I feared cooking with. I always get nervous about over-cooking it, or under-cooking so that it’s practically raw. This was my moment, to try and make shrimp that tastes really delicious in a sauce I know I can make with my eyes closed: Shrimp Scampi. The amount of butter, garlic, and lemon juice used for this recipe may sound like a lot, but in fact, with the shrimp on a low simmer in the scampi sauce, the results were perfect. Tender pieces of shrimp, cooked to perfection, with a side of broccoli rabe and on a bed of Banza rice (we all know my obsession with Banza. If you haven’t tried Banza yet, you can find it here!)

I started making this dish by defrosting shrimp in the sink as I went to work. I was actually very surprised to see that when I came back, the house didn’t smell like shrimp, which already meant I was winning. I rinsed the shrimp and decided to cut it into smaller pieces, I tossed the shrimp with salt and set it aside. In a large pan, I added two tablespoons of butter and layered the shrimp into the pan, heat medium. I let the shrimp sit for two minutes then flipped over, adding in chopped garlic.

I continued to cook the shrimp and toss with the garlic, butter, and added in two tablespoons of lemon juice. I lowered the flame to low heat and simmered the shrimp for another three to four minutes. Simultaneously, I made my Banza rice (cooked similarly to orzo). Once the shrimp were done, I took a scoop of the rice and plated the shrimp on top, and sprinkled fresh grated Parmesan cheese for finish. I must say, this was a home run. Round two, I will be sure to add some more green, like fresh basil or parsley. NOMaste 🙂

Shrimp Scampi

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian, Seafood
Keyword butter, easy, garlic, italian, scampi, seafood, shrimp
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 3 servings
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 15-20 medium Shrimp wild, cleaned, deveined and peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped, but not finely.
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup banza rice (or regular rice)

Instructions

  1. Start by cleaning shrimp and pat dry.  Cut shrimp into smaller bite size pieces and toss with salt.  Set aside

  2. Heat a large pan on medium heat, and add the butter to melt.  Place shrimp into the pan and sear for two minutes. Turn shrimp over and continue to cook for another two minutes.

  3. Add in the chopped garlic and lemon juice.  Turn heat to low and continue to cook the shrimp, tossing and flipping regularly.  Let simmer for five minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, prep Banza rice or regular rice as package indicates.  Take some of the scampi sauce and mix with the rice.  Layer shrimp on top of the rice and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Pan Seared Salmon with a Lemon Yogurt Dill sauce.

It’s fish week! No, for those inquiring, this does not mean I dress as a shark and go swim in the ocean. “Fish week” is a week where I test recipes all focused on various fish. I happen to love (most) fish, but didn’t always. I loathed, like LOATHED fish when I was growing up. When my grandmother made salmon I would get violently mad, cry, and stomp my feet. No joke. I’m not really sure when the transition happened, but I started to grow fond of fish; coincidentally liking probably the most fishiest one of all: salmon. Up until a few years ago, I had no clue how to make it. What happens if it sticks to the pan? Do I start by cooking it on the flesh side? Skin side? How long does it cook? The beauty of cooking is all about trying things out, and if you fail, try again. Tonight was a perfect example of trial and error, and being patient with heat.

Whenever I can, I buy wild fish. The reason? Wild fish are never caught and farmed with antibiotics or feed that is contaminated or in pellet form. Wild fish are packed with nutrients and have a very distinct dark coral color. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself here. Doing research on what you put in your body does wonders for how you spend your money, and where you shop. I am not saying go spend $300 at Whole foods every week just for 5-6 items, but be conscious of your choices, and when available, buy wild fish. Anyway, the cut I chose is the Chinook, or King salmon. I like the flavor better than Sockeye, as it is more subtle and takes on flavor easier. I started by lathering the salmon with avocado oil and bulletproof brain octane (more high quality fats, aids in brain function, cognitive development, and weight loss). I sprinkled salt and pepper and let sit. *I should have added more salt and pepper but that’s for trial #2 next week*

In the meantime, I created my dill sauce. I LOVE dill. The color, the smell, the texture, and flavor bring back many memories for me. I know lots fo people do not like this herb, but trust me, paired with salmon it tastes really great. The sauce is easy:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sprigs of dill (chopped)

Mix together and set aside. Now comes the even easier, but patient part: cooking the salmon. Start with a hot pan on medium heat, add a drop of oil. Add the salmon skin-side down to crisp the skin. Let sit for around 10 minutes, then check under the skin to see if it comes up easily. If not let sit for two more minutes. When it can come off the pan, flip onto the flesh side for approximately five minutes. Turn heat off and plate the salmon and spoon some of the yogurt sauce on the salmon, to taste. Paired with your favorite veggies (mine: brussel sprouts – recipe here!) and you’re ready for a super healthy, and delicious meal! NOMaste. Fish week, night one, SUCCESS!

Slow Cooker Chicken and White Bean Chili

Happy April! It’s literally feeling more and more like spring, even if it was relatively cold outside today. The flowers are budding, the birds are chirping, and I cannot wait for the warmer weather to fill my apartment with spring air. March came and went in a snap, and I feel like it had its ups and downs with weather, which always causes colds, sniffles, and questions of “what is appropriate for dinner?” I will always be the first one to opt for something quick and easy, and making a chili in the crockpot is no exception.

This was my first time ever making a chicken chili. It definitely has a different feel to it than a traditional beef or turkey chili, and I have to say I really loved it. It was a good balance of spicy and savory, from the chipotle powder to the sweet corn kernels, this is something everyone can enjoy, and did well as a lunch leftover.

I started by rinsing two large chicken breasts and laying them flat in the slow cooker. I measured out about 2-3 tbsp each of dried basil, dried thyme, chipotle powder. cumin, onion powder, garlic, powder. Then I took some red pepper flakes and added them to the mix. Sprinkled in some salt and pepper, then added crushed tomatoes (my personal favorite) and The New Primal Classic marinade (you can find this here!).

I mixed everything together then poured in a can of cannellini (white) beans and a can of sweet corn. Stirred again, placed the top on the slow cooker and set the setting to low cook for 6 hours.

Feel free to top with cheddar cheese, a dollop of greek yogurt, or eat over some sweet potato (maybe fries?) NOMaste:)

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

Another night, another chicken dinner. Chicken can get so boring sometimes, and I forget how to get creative, because it’s either stewed chicken in a broth, cutlets, or something that I end up not liking. Standing in my kitchen last night, I glanced up and saw my crockpot staring at me, begging to be used. I’m also grateful to be off from work this week and was able to start the crockpot at noon rather than at 8am, but nevertheless, the crockpot came to the rescue!

I love using a slow cooker for many different purposes, and am sure I have yet to try a bunch of recipes, but the mere fact that I can throw in all the ingredients at once and it come out really delicious is a MAJOR win.

Chicken thighs are a great cut of chicken to use in the crockpot, whether they are on the bone or off the bone, because they are such a tender cut of meat they naturally release fat into the sauce which creates a glorious texture and flavor. This dish was simple in ingredients and it starts with seasoning, crushed tomatoes, and The New Primal classic marinade (found here!). The New Primal makes healthy alternatives to marinades and sauces, and is Whole30 approved – for my Whole30 compliant readers! Also, they make delicious jerky, so give them a try while you’re at it.

For the seasonings, I used sea salt, oregano, chipotle powder, garlic powder, basil leaves, and onion salt. I added one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the marinade, stirred together and topped with fresh thyme.

The crockpot I have has two settings: low cook or high cook. I chose low cook and set it for 6 hours and 30 minutes, when really, it cooked for about 7 hours. I stirred several times through, but did not open the lid until it was at least halfway done. I did add a touch of half and half to add extra flavor but that is totally optional. About an hour in, the chicken thighs started to fall apart so I stirred and used a wooden spoon to help break apart the pieces even further until they looked like clumps of string. I roasted sweet potato and vegetables to add to this amazing chicken and it was perfect! NOMaste 🙂