This one-pan dinner brings together chickpeas, marinara sauce, broccoli and mozzarella in a single skillet. A crunchy Parmesan and bread crumb blend is the final touch to this comforting, easy, and nutritious meal. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.com.
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (*recipe called for Panko and I used Italian bread crumbs.)
Preheat over to 450°F, with a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet on middle rack. (*The original recipe asks that you cut the broccoli lengthwise and then cut larger pieces in half again (also lengthwise) to create long florets. Instead I used the entire head of broccoli including the stalk. No waste here.) Remove skillet from oven; swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add broccoli and turn to coat, then arrange so a flat side of each piece faces down; season with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
Stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Transfer broccoli to a plate. Add marinara to skillet; top with mozzarella and chickpeas. Return broccoli to skillet, browned-sides up. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumb mixture. Roast until bread crumbs are golden, mozzarella is melted, and sauce is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Serve. (*Because my cast iron skillet wasn’t large enough to hold all of the contents, I used a bigger skillet [not oven-proof], added the ingredients and finished the dish off on the stove top instead of the oven. The Parmesan cheese did melt but the bread crumbs did not get golden. No biggie.)
When you think of a stack of breakfast pancakes, what do you picture? Thin and round steaming cakes with a tab of butter on top? A light and fluffy flapjack covered with maple syrup and other delicious toppings? Did you know that pancakes are basically flour, butter or oil, eggs, baking powder and salt?
Have you ever tried blintzes? A friend of mine calls them lumpy pancakes and loves them. My blintz recipe is high in protein and is more substantial than traditional rolled or filled blintzes. Plus this recipe does not use sour cream, ricotta cheese or cream cheese. My middle son, Bruce, says that he likes them “much more than boring pancakes.”
I have made blintzes for over twenty years and have experimented by adding baking powder, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, nuts, flavored yogurt, large curd cottage cheese, etc. The combinations are endless. See which one you like best! Enjoy!
1 cup unsifted flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
1 cup yogurt (flavored, non-fat, low-fat or Greek)
1 cup cottage cheese (non or low fat)
4 eggs, beaten
In a large mixing bowl, add flour, yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs. Mix well. If consistency of batter is too thick then add a little milk.
Heat nonstick griddle to 325-350 degrees F.
Using a large mixing spoon or a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour batter onto hot griddle. Each blintze will be about 4 inches in diameter. On our 22 inch griddle, we cook 2 rows of 4 blintzes: 8 total. It’s important to leave enough space between blintzes and room for flipping.
Cook for about 5 minutes. Then flip. You can tell when the blintz is ready to flip when: 1) The edges of the blintz are slightly pulling away from the griddle. So it is easy to get the spatula underneath and it doesn’t stick. 2) When you see the top of the blintz bubbling slightly. Cook approximately 5 minutes until done.
Serve with fresh blueberries, sliced bananas or your favorite fruit. Of course, drizzle a little Wisconsin maple syrup on top.
The other day, my 8 year old son, Roy, excitedly grabbed his pail and ran outside to collect blackberries. We have blackberry bushes surrounding our vegetable garden and at the edge of our woods. A few minutes later he came back inside and showed me his full pail. “Try one.” he said. I did, and they were delicious. Blackberries are great on their own, on top of hot or cold cereal and in crumbles, tarts and cakes. Soooooo Heather whipped up a dessert in no time at all. She did add fresh mulberries from some of our mulberry trees. It turned out great!
Enjoy this Old-Fashioned Blackberry & Mulberry Cake. (Recipe adapted and modified from Favorite Recipes of the Michigan 4-H Family)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of allspice
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 tablespoons butter, cut it in
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cups blackberries
1 cup mulberries
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a bowl. Cut in butter. Add honey, eggs, walnuts, vanilla, yogurt, brown sugar and applesauce. Mix well. Stir in blackberries and mulberries.
Spread batter in greased 9×13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done.
Serve and enjoy.
Two weeks ago, Heather and I hiked a portion of the East Bluff Trail at Devil’s Lake. We’ve been to Devil’s Lake a few times but haven’t hiked this section since my parents visited in 2004. Wow! How time flies! Since it was going to be a warm and sunny day, we made sure to get an early start and arrive in the morning. . . and to beat the crowds. By the time we left, the beach, trails and parking lot were all full.
There is something energizing and peaceful about going on a hike. Nature, fresh air, scenic views. My mind relaxes. My eyes relax. My muscles relax. We didn’t have a set time to return to the car or specific mileage we wanted to accomplish or particular overlooks that we had to see. Just enjoying. Being in the moment. Step after step. Breathing. What’s around the next bend? We took a break every now and then to see where we were and where we came from. Great views. As an added bonus to he hike, we ran into my sister-in-law and her family along the way. Unexpected and very cool.
In my industry, Personal Trainers have more than just a tendency to track workouts, monitor progress and evaluate goals. What you don’t hear often enough, if at all, is encouragement to just go for a walk or a hike or leisurely stroll. It’s always about getting your heart rate up, burning fat, counting steps, etc. Maybe that’s true at the beginning when you are just starting your exercise routine. But, in my opinion, the goal is to become intuitive and body aware. Train by feel. Outdoor activities like this hike remind me that lifting weights, stretching and doing cardio at a gym or fitness studio is great. But it’s just one component of the bigger picture of health and fitness. Like pieces of a puzzle. For the complete picture, you need a sufficient amount of quality sleep, proper nutrition and a balanced diet, positive and supportive people and stress management skills. And most of all, you need to learn to HAVE FUN. So where are you going for our next hike?
Up, up, up I go. It was a lot easier than going down.
Heather takes a little rest in the shade.
Getting to enjoy scenic views like this one was a big reward.
My feet are important to me, and they are involved in every activity that I do: training clients, lifting weights, going for walks, hiking, playing basketball and doing yard work. Sometimes it can be difficult to know why my feet or legs or back are sore after a particular activity. Is it the shoe? Is it overuse? Or both? Some people say that it’s age catching up to me. That’s not very nice :-)
A close friend and I have talked about shoes, shoe inserts, socks, and general footwear for many years. We’ve had long discussions on the subject. Given that my friend, Dave, who works as a postal carrier, walks 10+ miles a day and is an avid runner, I feel that he is an expert on the matter. What conclusions did we come up with? What are some solutions? First of all, we need to understand that shoes get compressed over time just by standing in them. I’ve had 6-month old shoes that outwardly look new with no visible signs of wear, but they feel like bedroom slippers when I put them on. And that’s not a good thing if you need a supportive shoe for certain exercises. Another thing Dave and I agreed on is that I am a sensitive person. Like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea”, I fortunately or unfortunately notice small changes in the performance of my socks and shoes. These changes can result in foot and calf soreness. If I continue wearing those same shoes and socks, sometimes the discomfort will move up to my hip, back or even neck.
I’ve been told by long distance runners and have even read on shoe manufacturer’s websites that running shoes have a preset mileage built into them. Usually 400 to 500 miles. Is that just marketing so you buy next years’ model? Hmm. Whether it’s 400, 500 or 1000 miles, eventually the synthetic leather, plastic, knit polyester, foam and rubber will degrade with each footfall. Be watchful. Depending on how you walk or run, your shoes may wear unevenly. And that “unevenness” and imbalance may further contribute to foot, ankle, knee, hip or back soreness or injury.
Eric, are you saying that I need to buy a new pair of shoes every 4 or 6 months? That depends on what activities you’re doing, your budget and how your body is feeling. I have a client who has worn the same athletic shoes for 13+ years and feels that they are supportive. He says that he only wears them to train with me, but I’m sure they are waaaaaay overdo.
The same is true with socks. Socks can help wick away moisture (which reduces rubbing and blisters), add support to your foot and ankle, provide cushion under your heel and the ball of your foot and help regulate temperature. All this with a sock? Yes. As a matter of fact, I have almost entirely replaced all of my socks with Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 socks. I’m wearing them right now, and I can’t say enough about them.
What are some ideas to add longevity to your shoes and socks?
- Alternate shoes. We often put new socks on every day, but we put on the same shoe. That shoe may still retain moisture from the previous day and is still recovering. So wear another pair.
- Wear the right shoe for the job. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT wear old athletic shoes for yard work or going for walks or taking the dog out or anything. Remember different activities require different footwear. I remember training a client who was complaining about ankle pain after participating in some outdoor bootcamp classes (with another fitness trainer) at a nearby park. Looking at her running shoes, I asked if she was wearing those same shoes at the park in the morning on the dewy grass. She said Yes. The soles of her shoes were worn down so she would have no grip on the grass. I added that doing any side-to-side movements in running shoes wasn’t a good idea either since running shoes provide no lateral support.
- Don’t let your feet get cold. Have you noticed how your car performs differently in the winter? It takes longer to warm up and the tires may feel harder on the road. That’s because of the cold. If your feet get cold and you go for a run, for example, your footfalls, propulsion, ankle extension, etc will be abbreviated. That may lead to poor technique, reduced performance and/or injury.
- Stretch your legs and feet. We are usually pretty good about stretching quads, hamstrings and calves, but don’t forget to stretch your ankles and feet.
- Take a break and get off of your feet. If possible, give your feet a rest. I have joked over the years that since I stand and exercise for a living that I can sit for a loooong time. . . and watch TV. . . and nosh. When you are in a standing position, blood flows down to your feet. If blood pools in your feet, they may swell making your shoes and socks feel tighter and uncomfortable. Muscle contraction in your feet and legs send the blood back up. Blood pooling can even happen when we are sitting. So sometimes it’s a good idea to kick off your shoes and put your legs up when you get home.
Let me begin by saying that I love Indian food. I love the flavors, the aromas and the spices. As a matter of fact, we make some kind of Indian dish every week. Here is one that Heather made the other day. It’s an Indian Butter Chicken recipe with a side of Chickpea Tikka Masala. Just writing about it makes me hungry. I think there’s some leftovers in the fridge. Enjoy!
The Indian Butter Chicken recipe was adapted from an article in the magazine Slow Cooker Favorites Volume 7.
The Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe was born of Heather’s culinary experience.
Ingredients for Indian Butter Chicken
3 Tbsp butter
2 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chopped onion
In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.
Add ginger, garam masala, garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Toss to coat. Stir in tomatoes and onion. Cover and cook on low 6 hours or high 3 hours.
Serve over rice and with a side of warm naan.
Ingredients for Chickpea Tikka Masala
1 15 ounce can organic garbanzo beans (aka: chickpeas)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces cauliflower, chopped
2 Tbsp cow ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 15 ounce jar of Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce (from Aldi)
In a skillet, heat clarified butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add cauliflower. FYI we used cauliflower that we had previously chopped and frozen. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Add chickpeas and mix ingredients thoroughly. Then add simmer sauce and stir to coat. Set heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until dinner is ready. Enjoy!
Looking for an easy to prepare and tasty chicken curry recipe? Here’s one from Costco Connection magazine that we tried yesterday. How did it turn out? It was nice, but compared to my Mom’s chicken curry recipe that uses chicken thigh meat and drumsticks, it was not quite as rich and flavorful. And remember that you can make adjustments to this recipe based on what ingredients you have in the kitchen and your own personal tastes. Enjoy!
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided (we used grape seed oil)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced (we used 2 cloves)
2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (we used homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. Add chicken. Cook for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from skillet.
Lower heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp oil, then add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the curry powder, spices and salt. Cook mixture 1 minute.
Add chicken back to skillet. Stir in pumpkin and coconut milk. Once sauce is simmering, reduce heat to low and let cook additional 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve with rice or another grain. Makes 6 servings.
Optional: Garnish with shredded coconut, peanuts, raisins, diced apple and sliced banana.
My Recommendation: For more flavor, use chicken thigh meat and cook in cow ghee (clarified butter).
Also, remember that curry powders are not all the same. I like to kick it up a notch and add more chili powder.