Stuffed Artichokes: A family secret revealed

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When I was younger, people would fight over these during the holidays. They are a coveted item on the table.

Ingredients:

4 medium fresh artichokes

2 -3 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

2 -3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced fine

Extra olive oil for drizzling

Directions:

1. Rinse artichokes well, tugging leaves outward to loosen slightly for stuffing.

2. Trim off stems so artichokes sit on a flat surface.

3. Trim off the pointed tips of each leaf and set aside

4. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients listed above (minus the artichokes obviously & the extra olive oil for drizzling.

5. Mix well and until moistened enough to stick together.

6. Stuff each leaf of the artichoke, starting from the bottom and working your way around, with crumb mixture, until you get to the middle which we stuff A LOT.

7. Continue this step with remaining artichokes.

8. Place artichokes in a large baking pan and fill bottom of pan with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.

9. Drizzle olive oil over top of stuffed artichokes and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil.

10. Cook on 375 degrees for approximately 60-80 minutes (depending on size of artichoke) or until leave comes out easily.

11. Cool for 10 minutes; serve and Enjoy!

Soup for Nourishment

Running in the cold creates cravings for warm, hearty food. After a long run especially, my body needs substance. It needs protein. Over the weekend, I was really wanting to avoid the usual stagnant, cold lunch, I prepare for my family when I don’t really feel like cooking. So, I went scrambling through my cabinets and thought: soup. But I wanted easy soup. I also wanted tasty/healthy soup. Staring me in the face was the bulgar wheat I had just purchased. Bulgar wheat is fantastic for you and much much better than the usual pasta that I sometimes throw in my soup. Then, unexpectedly, my husband offered some cooking advice, he asked: why not throw some tomatoes in there? Hmmmmm, not a bad idea and out of no where, this meal was born. It was delicious and we ate all of it over the course of three days. It kept getting better. So go ahead and get cold out there and then give your body something really tasty.

Ingredients:

6 Cups Chicken Stock

1 can pureed tomatoes (14.5 ounces is the size I usually buy)

1 large bag Organic frozen mixed vegetables

2 cups green beans, cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup bulgar wheat (cooked separately, according to package instructions, makes about 2.5 cups)

1 package (3 chicken breasts) all-natural, Organic chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Cook your bulgar wheat according to package instructions, usually takes about 30-40 minutes. Set aside once done until needed.

2. While you are waiting for your bulgar wheat to cook, season your chicken with salt & pepper, throw it on the grill, cook until done and allow to rest until needed.

3. While your chicken & wheat are cooking, place your 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot (everything is going in here so make sure it’s big enough) Place your heat up to med-high.

4. Throw in your frozen veggies and your green beans, saute for about ten minutes.

5. Toss in your chicken broth, can of tomato puree and your thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Bring it up to a nice simmer, toss in your bulgar wheat once it is done (make sure to drain the bulgar wheat if there is any excess water), then cut up your chicken and chuck that in there too.

7. Allow to sit and simmer for about an hour, keep it low, then scoop and enjoy.

The bulgar wheat will puff up a little as it sits, if you have left overs, and it will absorb a little of the liquid, which I loved. But if you like a more brothy soup, simply add a little more chicken stock while reheating. Enjoy with a little shaved parmesan and BAM, you have just given your body something really tasty and really good for you.

Chicken Tacos: Healthy & Delicious

On my constant search for a healthier lifestyle, I am always trying to reinvent the foods I love. As a runner, I need a variety of real foods to keep my body going. I also need a variety of flavors so that I don’t fall into a slump. It’s extremely easy to fall off the wagon when one starts eating the same repetitive foods every day. And, it is a fact, that many runners choose to “repeat eat” because it is indeed safe, in terms of not gaining weight or losing weight while training. It is also true that most who run, don’t have a lot of spare time. We are busy people, trying to cram in our mileage, so a recipe that takes forever and involves eight thousand ingredients, won’t work either. This recipe is pretty straight forward, tastes incredibly fresh and adds a little spice to your boring repertoire of meals. It also has lots of ways to customize it to your choosing. For instance, you have many choices of tortillas. You can use corn which is typically less caloric (not a lot of nutrition there though), flour (also not very healthy but does come in low-carb options) and wheat (my thumbs up choice). Or, you can do what I do sometimes and skip the tortilla entirely and build a nice bowl of goodness. Now remember, skipping the tortilla is not about going without carbohydrates, we need those, desperately when running a lot. But you have to choose your carbohydrates wisely, white flour tortillas are just going to whiz through your body and turn into sugar, providing you with empty calories. However, life can not be so boring all the time, they are a great vehicle for your chicken taco, so if you go that option, have two, not ten.

Now, I’m only putting measurements here as a general guide. You have to choose amounts really by your personal taste. Some like it hot. Some do not.

For the Pico de Gallo:

8 tomatoes, cut into small cubes

1/4 of a red onion chopped extremely finely

1 jalapeno

The juice of 2 limes

1/2 cup of cilantro (although sometimes I use more)

Chop all the ingredients as stated above, mix in a bowl and allow to sit together for 30 minutes. (DO NOT STICK IN THE FRIDGE, things will get creepy)

Salt & Pepper

For the chicken:

I usually use one package (3 breasts) for my husband, myself and two children. They are 7 & 2, so they eat almost nothing. That leaves a breast for me and a breast for Josh. If you are feeding more people, use more chicken. It gets chopped up at the end so factor in that a little goes a long way.

The juice of 6 limes

2 tablespoons of cumin

1 tablespoon of chili powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a large bowl (breasts still in tact), throw all the other ingredients on top of it, mix it well so the chicken is evenly coated and let sit for about 2 hours. Grill when ready until breasts are firm. Allow to rest at least ten minutes. Once rested, chop into small pieces.

As I side dish I make the following corn thingy, I say thingy because I’m not really sure what to call it, but it is delicious:

6 ears of corn with the corn removed before cooking (slide your knife down each side) Or say screw it and use a bag of frozen corn

1/4 red onion chopped finely

1 teaspoon of cumin

Juice of 1 lime

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 fresh cilantro

Olive oil

Throw it all in a saute pan (except the cilantro), with just enough olive oil to get it covered, I would say medium heat. Cook until corn is hot, sprinkle with the cilantro.

NOW! Your chicken is prepared, your pico is in its bowl and your corn is sautéed. Put it all on the table and let people build the healthiest taco ever. I like a little low-fat sour cream on the side but that’s totally up to you.

Don’t go adding cheese or any of that craziness to it because that defeats the purpose. This meal is clean and easy. Keep it that way.

Again, I would say typically serving size is two tortillas with about 6 oz. of chicken distributed evenly, eat as much pico as you want, there is nothing unhealthy in there but stick to 1-2 cups of the corn side.

Enjoy!