Happy New Year to YOU! I can't believe we are in the first week of 2022. It feels like just yesterday we were beginning 2021 then I blinked... it flew by! This being mostly due to busy-ness; things reopening and creating activity again. Hopefully 2022 can continue on this path of normalcy after the pandemic. I think we are all ready for things to "get back to normal". A lot of things have been out of our control and we are all in the same boat. We must abide by current conditions and rules; some are more easy to follow than others.
One factor I am so grateful that we can control is what we put in our body. Yes, the pandemic caused shortages in certain foods and higher prices in our meats; but in a broader view we still have control of what we consume. Nutrition is at the up most importance for our physical health and it has been shown time and time again to be one of the major factors controlling our immune system.
I want to emphasize this to you today: Take control of your nutrition. Don't wait for "the right moment". The right moment is right now. It is never too late to start eating better.
With all of this being said, I have taken it back to basics in terms of food. Having fun in the kitchen doesn't have to be daunting or scary. Many people find that following recipes with a lot of ingredients and too many steps is just a pain and decide to grab the easiest, most convenient food in the pantry. So today, I want to share three recipes that are simple, easy and very nutrient dense.
Sherry Cream Chicken
Chicken thighs are a great replacement for chicken breasts and provide loads of nutritional benefits. Not only are thighs richer in flavor, but they contain way more micronutrients than breasts do. For instance, chicken thighs have 30% of your daily intake of niacin vs 6% in chicken breasts. You can find similar data in regards to riboflavin, B-6, and phosphorous. So changing your traditional breast for a thigh is a great choice! In this recipe, I cooked with bone broth (high in protein) and sherry. These flavors combined with herbs become absorbed by the chicken thighs and pack in a great taste. Lastly, the creme fraiche creates a creamier sauce that tastes incredible when poured over the chicken on a bed of rice or zucchini noodles.
Crock Pot Beef Brisket
Beef is another protein source that gets a bad reputation. It has been embedded in our minds that beef is higher in cholesterol and saturated fat that can lead to heart disease. Well, here's some news: consuming the cholesterol in beef does NOT mean that your cholesterol will raise. It doesn't work that way in your body. And the saturated fat content is not nearly enough to cause heart conditions. Unless you're eating massive quantities of red meat at every meal, you more than likely don't have anything to worry about. What beef does provide is ample amounts of zinc, niacin, protein and B12. Red meat helps with healthy cell function, vision, immune system and repairing muscle damage after difficult workouts (naturally, beef is loaded with creatine!).
This recipe is extremely simple and easy to make. I love adding in carrots for the addition of fiber and nutrients. You can add in onion and other vegetables as well; but I made this dish FODMAP friendly. Once the beef brisket is cooked, you can pair it with almost anything! You can top salads, add into a sandwich, or eat with sides like roasted new potatoes and green beans.
Mediterranean Chicken + Vegetables
You've probably seen sheet pan recipes on the internet, right? This one is extremely easy to toss together and incredibly nutritious! I used healthy fats all throughout this dish by cooking with olive oil. Olive oil is one of the most nutritious fats we can consume. It has a high smoke, meaning it won't break down in the cooking process. If your oil has a lower smoke point (like peanut, canola, or vegetable oil), the nutritional value decreases tremendously and its terrible to consume.
What does consuming fat do for you, might you ask? Eating healthy fats is the trick to satiety. We fill up when we eat fat. Think about taking a spoonful of peanut butter; the sticky, hard-to-swallow goodness actually fills you up, correct? You wouldn't want to consume 2-3 more spoonfuls despite the fact the quantity is small. Eating healthy fats naturally fills us up where we don't think about consuming more calories through carbs or junk food. So cooking with olive oil is a great, healthy diet hack!
As you can see, following nutritious recipes doesn't have to be hard or daunting. These three protein rich, nutrient dense and vegetable heavy recipes can be tossed together and ready in less than 30 minutes with ingredients you have at home. I hope these recipes make eating healthy easy and fun again!