An Artichoke a Day

Last night my husband and I made a healthy, delicious meal of fresh lemon and dill salmon and steamed artichokes. Artichokes have been my favorite vegetable since I was a kid and I don’t think I will ever get sick of them. We even grew them ourselves last year!

When I was little I would refuse to eat the heart of the artichoke. I remember my mom saying, “Why don’t you eat the heart? It’s the best part!”  My response would usually be something like “Eww, gross!” It took years until I finally told my parents that I wasn’t eating the best part of the artichoke because I thought it was a real heart. I was little and didn’t understand the difference between a real heart and the idea that something could be called a heart because it was at the “heart” of the vegetable.  When I finally learned the difference I was amazed by what I had been missing. The heart really is the best part! I guess mom’s always know best!

The problem with eating an artichoke a day is that most artichoke dipping sauces are loaded with fat and extra calories. Most people eat them with mayonnaise, or garlic butter, which clearly are not the healthiest choices. When my mom used to make them, we would dip them in Italian dressing mixed with Parmesan cheese. I know, it sounds weird, but it was really tasty and much healthier. Randomly one day I added cottage cheese to that mixture and ate my artichokes dipped in cottage cheese and Italian dressing for years after that. Of course I’ve had the mayo and the garlic butter as well, but now I am always trying to come up new healthy versions that still tastes delicious. This one is my favorite so far:

Lemon and Dill Yogurt Aioli 

  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to serve! Double recipe as needed for more artichokes (amounts don’t need to be exact. Add ingredients to taste)

Baked Lemon and Dill Salmon

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp room temp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix together butter, lemon and dill. Spread over top of salmon filets in a baking dish lined with foil. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (depending on size of salmon). Then broil for 5 minutes to crisp the top of the salmon. Squeeze lemon on top before serving and garnish with fresh dill. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Smoothie ‘Soup’

I recently stocked up on a few cans of pumpkin and am going to try to use it up in as many ways as I can think up. Last night I wasn’t hungry for a big dinner, so I decided to make a pumpkin smoothie. I wanted to add a few toppings to the smoothie to give it a little crunch, so I served it in a small bowl and ate it with a spoon, just like it was soup. It was delicious!

Here is what you will need:

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 whole banana

1 cup ice

1 cup (or more, depending on the consistency you like) soy milk, almond milk, or regular milk!

1/4 raw oats(not necessary, but I like the texture it gives the smoothie)

1/4 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt (I used plain and I think vanilla would have been better)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

Toppings-

2 tbsp. flax-seed

handful of granola of your choice (I used a chocolate hazelnut granola and it went so well with the pumpkin!)

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into a bowl and top each serving with 1 tbsp. flax-seed, a pinch of cinnamon, and a little granola.

How to: Make Delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup

I work a 9-5 Monday through Friday and eat lunch out way too often. When I don’t bring my own lunch I end up spending too much money on unhealthy food and regretting it later. So, this weekend I decided to make an easy meal that I could take to work for a few days during the week. I wanted something easy that I could just throw together in my slow cooker, but I wanted it to be healthy as well. So I pulled out my old slow cooker recipe book and found this one. Tortilla Soup! Notice my handy-dandy cookbook stand? This was a wedding gift that I absolutely love. You can still find it at Crate and Barrel.

Here is what you will need:

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I use organic)

4 large fresh tomatoes, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can green chilies

1 cup chicken broth (I use organic)

4 Thai chillies finely chopped (use one-two jalapenos if you have them)

1 Avocado, sliced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

4 corn tortillas, sliced into ¼ inch strips

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

*The recipe in the book called for canned tomatoes, but I really prefer fresh ingredients. Everything listed above I either picked from my garden, or bought from my local farmer’s market.

Place the chicken in the slow cooker. Mix broth, cumin, onions, garlic, chillies, salt, pepper, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour over chicken and cook on high for 3 hours (or slow for 6 hours). Take chicken out once cooked all the way through and shred into pieces. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker. Before serving add sliced tortillas and cilantro and stir. Serve with sliced avocado and garnish with fresh cilantro. This recipe was so easy and delicious! And very easy to transport to work. Enjoy!

Mixture of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chillies

Gotta go organic!

All the ingredients in the slow cooker. The chicken is underneath.

These are the thai chillies I used because our jalapeno plant didn't make it this year.

Topped with sliced avocado and fresh cilantro

The finished product.