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Japanese-Style Salmon Bowl

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Do you ever find yourself with little bits of a bunch of different vegetables and no idea how you’re going to use them up?  This dish is not only incredibly healthy and a change from the same old boring dinner, but you can throw just about anything in and it will taste great!

This kind of reminds me of a deconstructed sushi roll with the avocado, cucumber and nori, but since the salmon is cooked it’s a good thing for the sushi-weary to try.  It’ll get you used to Japanese flavors at least before taking the plunge into full-fledged sushi 🙂

If you aren’t familiar with nori, it is Japanese roasted seaweed.  It is crispy and adds some crunch to this dish, and it’s extraordinarily nutritious.  You can find it in the Asian section at most grocery stores.  It is usually dark green and comes in big sheets, like 8×8 size or in smaller snack-sized packs, about the size of a pack of ramen noodles.  It can be flavored with different things or unflavored.  I personally like the sesame flavor and we actually buy the snack sized packs at Costco and eat them like chips.  Nori really is tasty, but if the idea just totally grosses you out, just leave it off.  The recipe won’t be ruined without the nori.  You can learn a little more about the nutritional value of seaweed here.

I originally found this recipe at www.skinnytaste.com and I’ve made it many times, always with different ingredients and it always comes out tasting great.  So feel free to play around with the ingredients as much as you want- you probably will be happy with what you get!

Japanese-Style Salmon Bowl

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 t wasabi (or Sriracha)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup green onions (may substitute leeks, scallions or chives)
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups chopped peppers, mushrooms, sprouts, carrots, broccoli, or nappa cabbage
  • 1 strip nori, crumbled
  • 1 lb wild salmon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, wasabi, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium-high heat.  Season salmon pieces with salt and pepper.  Cook salmon in frying pan 4 minutes per side.  Divide rice among each of 4 bowls.  Add a piece of salmon to each bowl.  Then divide the cucumber, sesame seeds, avocado, and other veggies among the bowls.  Pour 1/4 of the soy sauce mixture over each bowl.  Top with crumbled nori and serve.

Anti-Inflammatory Cherry Amaretti Smoothie

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My dietician taught me something really cool: tart cherries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.  Like, as strong as ibuprofen.  I thought she might be spouting some nutty new age hippy nonsense, so I researched it, and she was right- tart cherries have TONS of health benefits and there is actually a lot of good science to back it up!!  Good news for all us cherry lovers out there!

According to www.choosecherries.com, tart cherries ease post-workout soreness, fight inflammation related to arthritis and gout, promote sleep and reduce risk of heart disease.  They recommend drinking tart cherry juice twice per day to get these benefits.

Tart cherry juice isn’t the most flavorful thing in the world, so drinking it straight twice a day can get old.  I got the concentrate pretty early on after discovering it, because then you only have to take a tablespoon of it instead of a whole cup.  The concentrate tastes pretty good mixed in to yogurt, juice, and it’s amazing in smoothies.

This cherry amaretti smoothie is one of the best tasting smoothies I’ve ever made, and it’s chock full of nutrients.  It’s a perfect workout recovery smoothie, meal replacement, or arthritis/gout remedy.  Give it a try!

Anti-Inflammatory Cherry Amaretti Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen tart cherries
  • 1 T tart cherry juice concentrate
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt OR 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • brown sugar to taste

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.  

Crock Pot Freezer Meal: Stuffed Peppers

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I’ve been obsessed with stuffed peppers lately- they’re such a classic comfort food, and with the right fillings, they can be super healthy too!  One thing I don’t love about them is how much time it takes to make the filling, stuff them, and then bake.  I was so excited to learn that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and then when you’re ready to eat them, cook them in the crock pot all day while you’re at work. That’s my kind of meal.

I’ve been seeing a stuffed pepper soup recipe around the internet lately but honestly, it looks like just about as much work as the real thing!

My recipe is based on this one that I found on Pinterest.  I added a few spices and changed up a few other things.  If you want to save time, you could use Minute Rice instead of regular brown rice.  I kept the tops off my peppers and chopped them up to put on salads.

For the steak seasoning, use your favorite brand.  I personally love Dove Chocolate Discoveries Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Cocoa Rub, but it is only available through Dove chocolatiers- kind of like Avon or Tupperware products.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

  • 6 bell peppers, cleaned with tops removed
  • 1 lb uncooked ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T steak seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix ground meat, rice, onion, tomatoes, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and steak seasoning.  Stuff peppers with the mixture. Place in covered freezer-safe container with stuffed side up until ready to cook.

To cook peppers: place frozen peppers in crock pot with stuffed side up.  Add enough water to crock pot to cover the bottom of the pot.  Cover and cook peppers on low for 8-10 hours.  30 minutes prior to serving, top peppers with the cheese and turn the crock pot to high to melt the cheese.  Serve hot.

Beer and Cocoa Chili

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Do you love beer, chocolate and coffee?  How would you like to have all three for dinner, guilt free?  This unique chili recipe has them all, and it’s the perfect opportunity to eat something that tastes rich and fattening when you need to detox from all the holiday goodies you ate 🙂

I’ll be honest with you, this is not a quick recipe.  It has to simmer in a great big pot for 2 hours, and a slow cooker won’t work- I’ve tried.  It also has more ingredients than most chili recipes.  I promise it’s worth the effort- this is, by far, my favorite chili.  All the different flavors come together during the long simmering time to create a symphony of spicy, sweet and tangy that is unlike any other chili I’ve ever tasted.  This is a great one to make on a football-watching Sunday, or during a snow storm, or when you just want a good excuse not to go anywhere.  It’s a great way to feed a crowd, so don’t hesitate to break it out if you’ve got company coming.  Who doesn’t love a steaming bowl of chili on a cold day?

Don’t worry if you don’t like some of these flavors.  I can’t stand beer.  Like, at all. But the beer flavor cooks out and you’re left with a tang that wouldn’t be there without the beer.  The coffee and cocoa play off the chili very nicely and add a richness of flavor, but you can’t particularly taste either of them, either.

I made this in a 6 quart Dutch oven.  This recipe could easily be halved if this is too much chili for you.  For the beer, I used Guinness, but any dark beer will work.  For the strong brewed coffee, I just dumped in a cup of water and added a packet of instant coffee powder- the same stuff I use for the Irish cream.

If you want, you could use a packet of chili seasoning and omit the chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and probably the hot sauce.  Just don’t omit that cocoa powder!

I served mine topped with shredded cheddar cheese, little bits of green onion, and a side of skillet corn bread with homemade honey butter.

Beer and Cocoa Chili

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 2- 14.5 oz cans peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1- 12 oz can dark beer
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 2- 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 T chili powder
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1 t salt
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 4- 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Cook onions, garlic, ground beef and stew meat in oil for 10 minutes or until meat is well browned and the onions are tender.  Mix in the tomatoes with juice, beer, coffee, tomato paste, and beef broth.  Season with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, coriander, salt and hot sauce.  Stir in 2 cans of the beans.  Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1.5 hours.  Stir in the 2 remaining cans of beans and simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

Healthy Workday Lunch Every Day- How To Start a Salad Club!


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Happy New Year everyone! I promised you all we would start the new year off with an exciting post that might just revolutionize your workday lunches… here it is!!

Imagine spending less than $10 every week on a couple of ingredients, taking them to work on Monday and then having a fabulously nutritious, beautiful, tasty lunch every day for the rest of the week.  I know this sounds insane, but it really, truly can be done!

You could eat like this every day!

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My office started a salad club in March of 2015, and it has been going strong and gaining members ever since- nine months now.  Starting it up was very easy, and keeping it going from week to week has been even easier.

Since we started the salad club, I have lost 10 pounds.  My dietician is totally in love with each and every one of my lunches.  Every salad gives me about three servings of veggies.  According to Harvard University, eating five servings of fruit and veggies per day is proven to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, decrease your risk of cancer, improve digestive health and prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

One of my recent salad club lunches.  It’s like having a gourmet salad bar in the break room every day! 

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The first questions most people ask me about salad club are “how do you get everyone to cooperate?” or “what do you do if people don’t bring what they’re supposed to bring?”.  This does require cooperation from members, but people love the convenience and cost effectiveness of the salad club so much, they will do whatever it takes not to get themselves kicked out.  Seriously, it just works.  It’s not like an office potluck where you have those people who totally don’t bring anything and then scam on all the good food you brought.  We have not had a single issue in nine months.  It has brought my colleagues closer together, fostered relationships that might not have blossomed otherwise, and it is so great to see my office mates gleefully skipping (I’m not even exaggerating about this one, it has happened) to the break room at lunch time, excited about the healthy lunches they were about to eat.

Another concern I hear about is boredom.  “Don’t you get tired of eating salad every day?”  Honestly, I love salad.  It’s one of my favorite foods, but yes, I do occasionally not feel like eating salad and I just go to the cafeteria and buy lunch- no big deal, that day’s salad club cost me less than $2.  Sometimes I will bring leftovers from the previous night’s dinner and just make a side salad from our salad bar to go with it.  We usually have a stunning variety on our salad bar so I can make a different salad every day of the week if I want.  We also do some really fun themed salads- we’ve done taco, Asian, Greek.  We also did a baked potato bar one week, and we’ve talked about having slow cooker soups to go with the salads too. Another boredom-busting aspect is all the new things you get to try. I had never tried pickled beets, but since someone brought them and they were sitting there and they were free, I put one on my salad, and you know what? I love pickled beets and often bring them myself!

With this variety, how often would you really get bored?

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How to get started:

  • Choose one or two people to be “in charge”.  These people will take the lead in the planning stage and will also make sure the sign up sheet gets put up every week, and make sure people are bringing what they need to bring, etc.  Make sure this is someone who will do the job but not go on some crazy power trip!
  • Send out an email to the entire office explaining what the salad club is, how it will be beneficial, and asking anyone who is interested to respond to the email.
  • Set up a time to meet with people who are interested to discuss how everyone wants to do things.
  • At your meeting, discuss what items will be shared, where they will be stored, when they will be set out and put away and who will do that.
    • There are a lot of different ways to structure this.  I’ve heard of salad clubs where one member buys all the ingredients for the week, where it is more of a potluck and there are a lot of homemade salads like tuna salad, etc., or where salad club is only one day per week.  These may work best for your office, but they seemed like too much work for us!
    • My group shares lettuce and all salad toppings except meat.  If people want that, they bring their own- it’s too expensive for one person to provide that for everyone.  Also, we usually say each member should have one bottle of dressing that they are sharing at all times but we don’t expect people to bring a bottle of dressing every week- we’d have tons if we did that.  We usually have people bring lettuce 2-3 times per week, and people who aren’t bringing lettuce during a particular week usually bring 2-3 other salad toppings of their choice that week.  We put up a sign up sheet on Thursday and people write on there what they will be bringing the next week so we know who is bringing lettuce and we don’t end up with 6 people bringing tomatoes and no cheese, or something like that.  It works well for us, but each office should do their own thing!
    • Label items for the salad club so people know what’s what, and perhaps designate an area in the break room fridge for salad club items.
    • Create your sign up sheet, and hang it up, and have everyone sign up for the next week’s salad club!

A recent week’s sign up sheet.  Some members don’t participate every week since we’re in a hospital and people work crazy hours or rotate through different areas- no big deal at all.  

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What questions do you have for me?  Don’t hesitate to ask!  The best advice I can give you is don’t overthink it, or try to have too many rules, and it will work.  We all agree that salad club is the best thing our office has ever done.  I hope your salad club is as wildly successful as ours has been!

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