Asian Chicken Meatballs with Vegetables

Recently I’ve been watching videos of this chef organizing her food into bento boxes and have been finding the videos very calming to watch.  I’m kind of like those people who enjoy watching Youtube videos of Koreans eating, though that part I’m not into.  One thing I’ve noticed about the bento boxes it that they always contain majority vegetables, something acidic, a very small portion of protein (about the size of the palm of your hand), some gluten-free grains, and something probiotic.  I was inspired by the bento boxes when I came up with this recipe: Asian chicken meatballs with broccolini, maitake mushrooms, brown rice, and microgreens with lime.  I bought a premade dressing for the microgreens consisting of a variety of probiotics (pickle brine, sauerkraut brine, etc), but you could also add pickled vegetables or kimchi to the meal to include your probiotic component.  Though this meal takes about 45 minutes to cook,  it is a fairly easy recipe even for beginner cooks, and most of these ingredients should be staples in your pantry.

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

-1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce or hoisin

-1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce

-1 tsp. or more of sriracha depending on how hot you like it

-1 tbsp. honey

 

For the Meatballs:

-1lb. organic ground chicken

-1 egg

-1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

-3 scallions, sliced thinly and white bottoms separated from green tops

-1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger or ginger powder

-3 minced garlic cloves or 2 tbsp. garlic powder

-salt and pepper

 

For the Rice:

-1 cup brown rice

-2 cups water

-2 pinches salt

-1 tbsp. ghee, or preferred fat (oil, butter)

-1 lime + zest

-sesame seeds

 

For the Salad:

-Microgreens

 

Instructions

Note- Allow the rice to soak overnight or for some time before cooking (I soaked my rice this time for 40 minutes).  This will reduce cook time, release nutritional enzymes, and make the rice more digestible.

  1.   Fill a medium-sized pot with water, rice, fat, and salt.  Bring the water to boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat leaving the lid on. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Add lime zest and fluff rice with a fork.
  2. Wash and prep your vegetables while the rice cooks.  In a small bowl, make the sauce.  Zest the lime in a small bowl using a microplane then quarter the lime and set aside. In a large skillet, heat oil and add the white bottoms of the scallions, ginger and garlic and cook about 1 minute or until aromatic.  Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out the pan.
  3. Add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, half of the sauce, and the salt and pepper to the bowl containing the onion, ginger and garlic. Mix the ingredients and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes so it’ll be easier to form the meatballs.
  4. Reheat the pan to medium-hot and add enough oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the broccolini and mushrooms and toast in the oil.  Let cook without touching while you form the meatballs.
  5.  Flip the broccolini and mushrooms and brown the other sides.  Get two large bowls ready so you can divide the vegetables between the bowls when they’ve finished browning.  Wipe out the pan.
  6. Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add enough oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.  Add the meatballs, cooking 4-6 minutes per side.  You’ll know when the meatball is ready to turn when it’s no longer sticking to the pan.  Once cooked, add 1/4 cup water and the remaining sauce to the pan.  Toss the meatballs in the sauce to evenly coat and scrape up any remaining fond in the pan. When the sauce has reduced, remove from the heat.
  7. In the bowls containing the vegetables, add brown rice, the salad, lime, and the meatballs. Dress the salad with the lime, garnish with the green tops of the scallions, and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

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Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Whole Grain Living

Americans have seemingly been conditioned to classify all carbohydrates as bad.  Certain diets, like the Atkins diet, have created a bad rep for carbs, but there needs to be some distinction.

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Whole grains, a type of carbohydrate, are actually essential to our diet and have been central to the diets of several cultures around the world since ancient times.  It’s typical in Japanese culture, for example, to eat a carb-heavy diet consisting of lots of rice. Yet, most Japanese people are very thin, so explain that Atkins!

Everyone’s body is different, however, so a high-carb diet may not work for everyone.  There are pros and cons to every diet, so here is what to expect from a high-carb diet:

Pros:

  • Fiber
  • Nutrients
  • Constant energy drip
  • Protein in grains
  • Whole foods
  • Lowers cholesterol

Cons:

  • Diet doesn’t work for everyone
  • Some people gain weight
  • Some people lose weight
  • Affects blood sugar levels
  • Indigestion
  • Gluten
  • Phytic Acid

There are so many whole grains to choose from, some which may sound unfamiliar.  I recommend experimenting with different whole grains to see what you like.  Make whole grains a part of your daily diet and aim for at least three servings a day.  Whole grains have many health benefits, but are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

FYI- sugary cereals like Lucky Charms, although advertised as “magically delicious” and made with whole grains, does not count!  Those cereals, and similar products, are processed and full corn syrup, corn starch and sugar (bad carbs!) and don’t have the same healthful effects as unrefined grains.  The same goes with oatmeal.  Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast dishes and can be very healthy, unless you’re eating the packaged instant oatmeal that’s filled with sugar.  Try steel-cut oats instead and top with fresh fruit.  Just remember,  the more processed something is, the less healthy it is.

*Note- When choosing whole grain foods, be weary of false advertising words like multigrain, 12-grain, stoneground, high fiber, enriched, wheat flour, whole wheat and whole grain (surprise!).  Look for 100% whole wheat instead.  “Bad” carbs generally consist of processed foods, like breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies, fried foods, white bread (vs. 100% whole grain bread), etc.  “Good” carbs are those which are full of fiber, like vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains.

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Whole grains should be consumed daily.  Some unrefined grains you may not have heard of, but are now becoming more common in regular supermarkets.  Although some of the names of the following grains may sound unfamiliar, give them a shot and possibly try out some of the recipes I’ve provided.

  • Quinoa– mild, nutty, slightly bitter.  A gluten-free option that’s extremely versatile and can be used in salads, pilafs, stuffings for meat or vegetables, soups, stews, porridge and desserts. An ancient grain of South America full of protein and dietary fiber, quinoa has been linked to reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.  Rinse before cooking to remove the bitter coating around the grain.

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Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Cinnamon-Scented Breakfast Quinoa

  • Amaranth– herbaceous, grassy, sticky.  Gluten-free and is used in porridge, salads, soups and stews.  Originally grown by the ancient Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, and still cultivated in Mexico.

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Banana-Pecan Amaranth Porridge 

 Amaranth Fish Sticks

  • Buckwheat– Earthy, dark, slightly meaty.  Gluten-free and is used in risotto, salads, pilafs, soups and granola.  Use buckwheat flour for pancakes or other baked goods.  Found mainly in Russia and China.

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Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto 

Buckwheat Pancakes

  • Brown Rice– nutty, slightly sweet, chewy.  Gluten-free and used in salads, risottos, pilafs, stuffings, stir-fries and rice desserts.  There are now brown rice pastas being sold and I really like them.  A main dish in Asian culture.

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Brown Fried Rice

Stracciatella With Brown Rice

Chicken and Brown Rice

  • Millet– Buttery, corn-like.  Gluten-free and used in pilafs, salads, stuffings, porridge, soups, stews, desserts and to make polenta-like dishes.  A typical grain eaten in Africa and Europe.

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Millet Muffins

Roasted Chicken with Millet Stuffing

  • Oats– creamy, slightly sweets, toasty.  Made in granola, porridge, baked goods, and coatings (instead of bread crumbs).  A typical grain of Scotland.

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Homemade Granola

Maple Oatmeal Bread

  • Kamut– buttery, nutty.  Used in salads, pilafs and stuffings.  Flour is used for baked goods like bread and pasta.  This grain originated around Egypt and has more protein than common wheat.

Kamut

Kamut, Lentil, and Chickpea Soup

Falafel Burgers (with kamut flour)

  • Spelt– Nutty, slightly earthy, chewy.  Good with Mediterranean flavors like basil, olives, tomato, cheese and eggplant. Used in salads, pilafs, and stuffings for meat or vegetables.  Spelt flour is used in bread, pasta, baked goods, and desserts.

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Toasted Spelt Soup with Escarole and White Beans  

Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins

  • Farro (cracked)– nutty, mild, slightly chewy. Ideal with Italian flavors and used in salads, pilafs, risotto, stuffings, stews, soups and pasta.  This grain is believed to predate all other grains and originates with the people of the near East and Mediterranean.  It’s currently grown mainly in Italy. Farro is often soaked overnight to soften the grain and to reduce cook time.

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Farro Salad with Asparagus, Peas and Feta

Mustard Crusted Pork with Farro and Carrot Salad

Greens and Grains Scramble

  • Pearl Barley– nutty, slightly chewy.  Used in salads, pilafs, risotto, stuffings, soups, stews, and sweet desserts.

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Pearl Barley Casserole 

Beef and Barley Soup

Sources: LiveScience, ABCNews