Loaded Shepherd’s Pie

 

Loaded Shepherd's Pie
Loaded Shepherd’s Pie

Loaded Shepherd’s Pie
(Courtesy: Jennifer Warren)

 

1 lb 80% ground beef

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup plain bread crumbs

½ teaspoon dried sage leaves

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 egg

4 medium potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into 1” squares

¼ cup butter

½ tsp black pepper

⅓ cup sour cream

1 tbsp horseradish (optional)

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)

¼ cup chopped fresh tomato

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 medium green onions, chopped (2 tablespoons)

 

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, bread crumbs, sage, ½ tsp salt and egg until well blended. Press in the bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Place potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a bowl and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Add butter, ½ tsp salt and pepper to potatoes. Use a hand masher or electric mixer to blend together. Add sour cream and horseradish. Mix until smooth, adding more sour cream, if necessary. Allow to cool for 30 minutes

Once potatoes are cool, spread evenly over the top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160℉. Sprinkle with tomato, bacon and green onions.

Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

6 servings, 495 calories per serving

Hack:  2½ cups Horseradish Mashed Potatoes can be substituted for the fresh potatoes in this recipe.

Hack: ¼ cup of chopped frozen onions can be substituted for fresh onion in this recipe.

Hack: Separate any remaining uncooked bacon slices and roll them into individual pinwheels. Place on a cookie sheet in the freezer to freeze bacon slices. Place in a sealable freezer-safe bag or container. The frozen slices can then be used in the portions desired.

Hack: Store any leftover bacon grease tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. It can be used as a substitute for butter in various dishes. Caution: Use caution when cooking with bacon grease. It has a smoke point similar to butter, which is lower than oils.

Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.

 

 

Asian Cold Noodle Salad

Asian Cold Noodle Salad
(Courtesy: Yuhong Sun)

 

1 lb spaghetti or dry noodle

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cucumber

Sauce:
1 green onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp)

1” knob fresh ginger, minced (1 tbsp)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp dark (Chinese) vinegar

2 tbsp chili sauce

Pinch of salt

 

Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. Stir in olive oil. Allow to cool or chill in the refrigerator.

Peel the cucumber and cut it into 2” matchsticks.

In a small bowl, combine green onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, chili sauce and salt.

Assemble salads by placing 1 cup of cold noodle in a bowl. Top with cucumbers and 1-2 tbsp sauce. Serve immediately.

 

8 servings, 275 calories per serving

Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.

Hack: Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root? Grating it in its frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it! Simply place it in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.

 

 

Authentic Naan Flatbread

 

Authentic Naan Flatbread
Authentic Naan Flatbread

Authentic Naan Flatbread

 

1 ½ cups warm water (115℉)

2 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

3¼ cups flour

1 tbsp oil or ghee

 

Fit stand mixer with a dough hook.  Place water and yeast in the bowl.  Add salt and flour, mix on low speed until all ingredients are well incorporated.  The dough can be mixed by hand if preferred.

Transfer dough to a storage bowl and cover.*  Note: This will not have the consistency of regular bread dough.  It will be thinner and will easily and quickly mold to the shape of the bowl.

Let dough rise until it has risen and then begins to fall.  This will take at least 2 hours but can take longer depending on the room temperature.  Bread can be left at room temperature for up to 5 hours without any ill effects.

Transfer the bowl of dough to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 36 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and cut off ¼ of the dough.  Return the rest to the refrigerator.

Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal onto a piece of parchment paper.  Shape dough into a ball and, using a rolling pin and your hands, roll dough into an 8” circle on parchment paper/mat.  Use oil or cooking spray on the rolling pin and hands if the dough is too sticky.

Preheat oven to 450℉.

Transfer the rolled dough, on parchment paper, to a cooking sheet and put it in the oven.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until browned around edges.

Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter, if desired.

Repeat with the remaining dough to make 3 more naans or leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to make as needed.

Can be served warm or at room temperature.

*Cover on the bowl should not be airtight.

 

4 servings, 360 calories per serving

Hack: Use this bread to make a Chicken Pesto Naan Pizza or Spinach Feta Pizza For One!

Hack:  Cooked bread will remain fresh for 3-4 days at room temperature or up to 2 weeks in the fridge.  Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Hack:  Naan dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Hack:  Naan bread can be used as a side for saucy meals, soups or stews.  It can be used for fillings in a similar fashion as tortillas or wraps.  Flatbread pizzas are also a popular item!

 

Creamy Cheesy Polenta

Creamy Cheesy Polenta

Creamy Cheesy Polenta

 

4 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tbsp butter

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

 

Heat water to boiling over medium-high heat. Add salt and cornmeal, whisking gently. Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk constantly for about 2 minutes or until thick.

Cover the pan and continue to cook for 30-35, whisking vigorously every 5-10 minutes, taking the time to scrape the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and cheese until melted.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional butter or cheese if desired.

 

4 servings, 255 calories per serving

Hack: Polenta can be eaten alone or as a side dish to replace rice or potatoes.

Hack:  Use this polenta to make Eggs With Polenta!

 

 

Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

 

Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans
Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

 

1 tbsp olive oil

¾ cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

1½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp allspice

¼ tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup dried pearl barley

⅓ cup cranberries

⅓ cup raisins

⅓ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

 

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir curry, turmeric, allspice, salt, pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.

Add barley, cranberries and raisins.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until barley is tender and all water is absorbed.

Remove from heat and allow barley to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.  Stir in pecans and serve immediately.

6 servings, 200 calories per serving

Hack:  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one week or frozen for up to 3 months.

 

What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?

What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?
What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?

 

We have talked (a lot) about how processed foods are chemical-laden, addictive wonders of scientific labs all over the world. Well-paid scientists the world over have, and continue to, come up with processed foods that are highly addictive and make you want to eat them again and again.

These foods are well-known to cause weight gain and all the health issues that go with it as well as causing our bodies to react to chemical additives resulting in migraines, brain fog and even some that can lead to organ failure and serious disease.

But what happens when we stop eating processed food? Aside from avoiding the negative consequences, what positive reactions can we expect from eating whole foods?

 

Here’s To Your Health

Here's To Your Health
Here’s To Your Health

Eating more fruit can lower our risk of cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that can cause cancer.

The role of healthy food in avoiding, controlling and/or reversing diabetes is essential. The introduction of fiber, high quality protein and fats help to maintain a slow, steady level of glucose in our system, as opposed to the “sugar rush” that is the result of sugary, low fiber and low protein processed foods.

The fiber, high quality protein and healthy fats found in whole foods help to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in your body by helping you feel full faster and longer than processed foods.

An interesting study showed that people who eat an ultra processed food diet tend to gain weight.
When those same people ate unprocessed whole foods, they lost weight. Intriguingly, the weight differences on the two diets occurred even though both kinds of foods had been carefully matched from a nutritional standpoint, including calorie density, fiber, fat, sugar and salt.

 

Stronger and Stronger

Stronger and Stronger
Stronger and Stronger

A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy is vital in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis later in life.

High quality protein helps to build and maintain healthy muscle mass. When these proteins are paired with fiber rich carbohydrates (for energy) and healthy fats (for more energy!), they create the building blocks for strong muscles.

Water is also important when performing the exercise that builds up your core strength and muscle mass. Yes, it replaces the fluid that’s lost when you sweat but it also replenishes electrolytes, sodium and glucose. Not only that, a couple of glasses of water before exercising will lower your perceived effort while consuming water after exercise will ward off muscle cramps, remove toxins from your body and deliver the nutrients your body has burned.

Create Beauty From Within

Create Beauty From Within
Create Beauty From Within

 

Eating a whole foods diet can help cleanse toxins from your body while increasing nutrients which are essential for healthy skin. This is because the liver, kidneys, adrenals, thyroid as well as the intestines work together to make that happen. If your liver and kidneys are overtaxed trying to filter out an over consumption of toxins, it can cause skin breakouts. If your hormones are out of whack, your thyroid can’t function properly causing the skin to be dry and flaky. If the intestines are having trouble expelling waste, it can cause the skin to become thick, blemished and oily.

Whole grains such as brown rice and oats contain B vitamins, silica and zinc which can alleviate brittle and thinning hair. These B vitamins will also help to keep your lips hydrated, relieving cracking and chapping.

Vitamins K and C can be found in dark green and leafy vegetables can boost circulation and strengthen capillary walls in the skin, improving its strength and color. Potassium, such as is found in avocado, can reduce puffiness by reducing water retention. Since avocados also contain healthy fatty acids that help keep your skin soft, it sounds like a spinach/avocado smoothie is the perfect breakfast to keep you looking your best!

Tossing back a few nuts will supply your nails with some much-needed B7, zinc, iron and protein to keep them strong!

 

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After

Antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant based foods reduce inflammation and repair damage to brain cells while restoring balance to our neurotransmitters. Studies show this leads to reduced episodes of depression compared to those who consume more processed foods. There is even evidence that a whole foods diet can reverse depression without the aid of medication.

The proper amount of quality sleep is also important to regulate your mood. A low fiber and higher saturated fat diet has been shown to lead to a lighter and less restorative sleep, resulting in more awake time over the course of the night. Fatty foods can also be harder to digest, making it harder to fall asleep in the first place! On the other hand, eating foods rich in melatonin and magnesium, such as almonds, can improve sleep by regulating your inner clock and reducing stress hormone cortisol,

Magnesium will also help to reduce headaches.

Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)

Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)
Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)

 

So here’s the bottom line: Switching to a whole foods diet will help you lose weight faster, age slower, get fewer headaches and have better hair, skin and brain function. It will also lead to a better night’s sleep!

Think it’s hard to give up the junk? Maybe at first. That’s because many processed foods are made with “perfect” amounts of added sugar, salt, fat, and other chemicals designed to make us want more. Shockingly, studies have shown that this combination addicts us in a similar way as drugs.

But many people will testify that once they get away from processed foods, they no longer have any desire to eat them. It doesn’t mean you’ll never slip again…it just means that each time you do, you’ll enjoy it less and less, much like an ex-smoker becomes intolerant to the sight and smell of cigarettes over the course of time.

So go ahead. Climb on the bandwagon and begin to live your best life. You can do it!

All my best

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

Simple Chicken and Gravy

 

Simple Chicken and Gravy
Simple Chicken and Gravy

Simple Chicken and Gravy

 

2 tbsp olive oil

½ onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)

2 tbsp flour

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup sour cream (4 oz)

1 cup cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (12 oz)

 

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent (5-7 minutes). Add garlic and saute until fragrant (1-2 minutes).

Add flour, whisking constantly, and cook until bubbly. Add stock slowly, whisking constantly. Allow to simmer until gravy thickens (1-2 minutes).

Add sour cream and chicken. Stir just until warmed through. Do not allow it to come to a boil.

Serve over rice, potatoes or noodles, if desired. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

 

3 servings, 300 calories per serving (excluding rice, potatoes or noodles)

Hack: Frozen chopped onions would work well in this recipe.

 

 

Vegetarian Tortellini Soup

 

Vegetarian Tortellini Soup

 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

¾ cup tomato paste

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp sugar

1 bay leaf

½ tsp Italian seasoning

½ tsp salt

1 cup cheese tortellini

 

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until tender but not brown, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomato paste, tomatoes, broth, sugar, bay leaf, Italian seasoning and salt.  Bring to a simmer and add tortellini.

Simmer until tortellini is tender, 10-12 minutes or according to package directions.  Add additional chicken broth to thin soup, if desired.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

3 servings, 300 calories per serving