Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spicy Chicken Gumbo

Gumbo is a soup or Stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th Century. It is made from a strong flavored stock with either meat or shellfish, a thickener, onion, celery and bell pepper. The name, Gumbo is derived from  two different sources. The Bantu (African) word for okra is Kingambo and the Choctaw (Native American) word for File (Fee-lay) (thickening powder). Gumbo is categorized by the type of thickener used, therefore okra is the African method of thickening, File powder is the Choctaw method and also, there is roux (a mixture of butter and flour) which is the French influence in Louisiana cuisine I have researched many recipes as I usually do to see how I can use them for my healthier version. Most of the modern recipes for Gumbo calls for andouille sausage. Classic andouille sausage is made from pork chitterlings (intestine of a pig) and tripe (the stomach of a cow). The gourmet Chefs call for 5 pounds of pork and 2 pounds of pork fat for their Gumbo recipes.I have changed my eating habits so much and I really do think you are what you eat. I cannot fathom eating Andouille Sausage, but if I ever make it to Louisiana, I surely will eat a "Classic Gumbo". I just know better now and to have just a small portion at best..and perhaps ask the chef what the ingredients are. I tried a soy chorizo a few months ago and it was so good (and I know most people would say yuck to this), it immediately came to mind for this Gumbo recipe. It is made from: textured soy protein, water, soy oil, distilled vinegar, salt, spices, red pepper and garlic, a 3oz serving has 140 calories, 10 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 700mg sodium, 8g carbs, 9g protein, 4g fiber. *It's high in fat (in my standards) and sodium, so use sparingly.* Vegans and Vegetarians, just leave out the chicken and add a little more Chorizo and you are set. I am looking at a photo of Shrimp Gumbo right now and that looks amazing. I would use jumbo shrimp for the recipe.I have decided to use okra since I found some fresh and will also use the roux method of thickening this Gumbo.
8-10 Servings
3 T Extra virgin Olive oil, divided
2 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Diced
Salt & Pepper To Taste
1 Tsp. Sage, Crumbled
1/2 Tsp Thyme, Crumbled
1 Tsp Marjoram Crumbled
1 Pound Soy Chorizo, remove casing and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Quart Low Sodium (Strong) Chicken or Vegetable Stock 
4 Ribs Celery, Chopped
2 Green Bell Peppers, Diced
 1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Bay Leaves
 2 T Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (or Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
3 Cups Chopped Fresh Okra
2 Pounds Peeled and Seeded Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
3 T Fresh Chopped Thyme
8 Scallions, sliced thin on an angle
2 1/2 Cups Brown Rice, Cooked
Fresh Parsley, Coarsely Chopped
Preheat large Dutch Oven (heavy bottomed pot)over medium high heat. Brown the chicken with 2 T olive oil, salt, pepper and spices. Add the soy chorizo to the chicken mixture and brown for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and drain. In the same pan, add 1T olive oil and heat. Add celery, pepper, onions and bay leaves. Season with salt (optional), pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Add Flour and cook for 2 minutes. slowly stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add okra, chicken and chorizo to the boiling broth. Then stir in tomatoes and 1/2 of the fresh thyme. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. simmer for 5 minutes. Scoop brown rice into bowls and serve with chopped thyme and scallions to garnish.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Best Ever Low Fat Banana Muffins

Cleaning out the cupboards today and found lots of sugar from last Holiday Season~~I love to bake and this year I found out how through experimentation that sugar is my nemesis. I absolutely do not believe in Artificial Sweeteners though and I am researching Stevia to see if it's alright because it is in my Whey Protein Powder. In my opinion, I would rather have good old sugar, organic, in the raw (4 Grams per Tsp) and in moderation.  I also Love Honey, but it is so high in sugar (16 grams per Tablespoon) that it is a treat to splodge it on my spoonful of Almond Butter and it helps with those hunger slumps that I sometimes fall into. This Recipe can be altered by adding nuts to the mix. This will add fat as well, even if it is the "good fat". When I am trying to maintain, even "good fat" is minimal on my plate. A "secret" to baking healthier is to replace whole eggs with egg whites and replace oils or fats with applesauce. This Culinary Rule applies to packaged mixes too. Try it for those Brownies and see if the family notices the difference! These Muffins are very moist. Sifting the dry ingredients and lower heat in the oven helps keep them that way. These would be good with  low fat whipped cream cheese!

Yields 2 Dozen Medium Muffins-Can't just eat one, So Serving Size is 2 :)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 2 (12 cup) Muffin Tins with a little bit of Earth Balance Margarine

3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (Use Gluten Free Flour if desired)
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

5-6 small very ripe Bananas 
1 Cup Organic Sugar
1 Cup Organic Applesauce
1/3 Cup (2) Egg Whites
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar, softened
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Margarine
~Mix topping together with clean hands and set aside
~Sift dry ingredients and set aside
~Mash Bananas and add Sugar, mix lightly
~Add Egg whites and Applesauce to Banana Mixture and mix lightly to incorporate
~Slowly Add Dry Ingredients to Banana Mixture until mixed thoroughly, rest for a minute
~Drink a glass of Lemon Water~~
~Fill muffin tins evenly  
~Top with Topping
~Bake on Top level of oven for 17-20 Minutes, turning tins around 1/2 way through baking
~Cool on Racks for 2 minutes and transfer to a large platter 
~ Yummiest When eaten warm
~ BEWARE: High In Sugar...Eat Responsibly!!!!! I AM NOT KIDDING!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Delightful Bean, Rice and Veggie Salad

I absolutely LOVE to whip up a recipe with the ingredients I already have in the house. I also often wish I had the ingredients in the food kitchens on food network! I call my dishes, "Something from Nothing" most of the time and thankfully most of the time, they turn out delicious. I look at cooking as an Art form and a Science and I have trained myself to use a plenitude of color in my kitchen works of art. (LOL) Here is a recipe for a meatless, high fiber and a complete protein main course or side dish. It would be lovely as a filling for Boston Lettuce wraps or on top of a bed of Wild Arugula. The ingredients are not set in stone. You may use any beans or veggies that you have in the house and you could switch the Brown Rice with Quinoa if you like. I love the addition of fresh Spearmint along with Italian Parsley and Basil. Dried Herbs may be used too. Dill is very flavorful and I use a seasoning blend that is sodium free as well.
This Recipe Serves about 12 Side dishes:
Mix Together with clean hands in a Huge Bowl:
2 C Cooked (and cooled) Brown Rice, Seasoned with a touch of Olive oil and dry seasonings
1 Can Each Rinsed and drained: Black Beans, Kidney Beans and Pinto Beans
2 Medium Zucchini, Washed, Dried and cut into 1" cubes
2 Cups Chopped Baby Carrots
1 Cup Chopped Celerey
1/2 Large Purple Onion, Chopped
1 Large Garlic Clove, Minced
1 cup each Fresh Basil, Parsley and Spearmint, Chopped
1 C Vinaigrette:
    1 Tsp Dijon Mustard, 1/2 Cup Balsamic, 1/2 cup Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper
   Place the mustard in a small glass measuring cup. Add S/P to taste. Stir in Vinegar until mustard is dissolved.
   Add the oil and stir constantly until mixture is blended
Thanks for the compliment, Joanne! We have some here to have for a mid-day meal :)