Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas

Shakshuka Polenta

My morning oatmeal habit single-handedly turned breakfast into the most beloved of all meals,  so it was only a matter of time before I became enamored with polenta, a creamy cornmeal dish from northern Italy (similar to grits).

While this recipe started as an empty-pantry-desperation-dinner (requiring just a few canned goods and some eggs), it has quickly become one of my most dependable weeknight suppers, eliciting frequent cravings, roommate food envy, and a new tendency to stockpile canned tomatoes. The Eggs Shakshuka from the Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square inspired this unlikely pairing, as they serve the traditional, North African tomato dish over a creamy puddle of warm polenta.

Taking recipes to a more porridge-like level is always a winning strategy in my kitchen, so it is no surprise that this Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas is heavy on rotation at my place this season. In fact, it just might be better than having oatmeal for dinner. I’ll let you be the judge.

Shakshuka Polenta

Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons harissa sauce (you can also substitute 1 roasted red bell pepper, finely chopped, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, or you can omit altogether)
  • 1 cup milk (I use nonfat organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup corn grits/cornmeal (preferably whole grain)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
  • optional: zatar seasoning 

Method:

  1. To make the sauce, put the tomatoes and harissa in a small pot and heat on medium low, stirring occasionally. When the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, reduce heat to low, and let stay warm on the stove.
  2. In a small pot, add the milk, water, and corn grits and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook covered, stirring frequently. Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until mixture reaches desired creaminess.
  3. To prepare the eggs, crack the eggs into two individual small bowls or ramekins.
  4. In a medium to large pot, bring water to a simmer, where the edges are bubbling but it’s not quite a full boil.
  5. Add a few teaspoons of vinegar, and swirl the water in one direction .
  6. Gently pour one of the eggs from the bowl into the water, and let cook until the white becomes opaque, and egg reaches desired level of doneness.
  7. With a slotted spoon, gently remove the poached egg and set on a paper towel. Repeat with the next egg.
  8. To serve, divide the polenta between two bowls. Top each bowl with tomato sauce, chickpeas, and a poached egg. Garnish with zatar or freshly cracked black pepper.

Shakshuka Polenta

Nutrition per Serving: 420 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 67g carbohydrates (11g fiber, 20g sugar), 22g protein, 190mg cholesterol, 460mg sodium, 43% Vitamin A, 49% Vitamin C, 25% Calcium, 36% Iron

– Kelly

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Blueberry Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Almonds

Blueberry Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Almonds 1

Blueberry Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Almonds

Blueberries, oats, Greek yogurt, almonds… the gang’s all here! These are basically all of the go-to “superfoods” in a dietitian’s arsenal, so naturally I had to combine them into one recipe.

Instead of my usual splash of milk, thick and creamy Greek yogurt offers more protein and probiotics, and helps keep you full. I usually hesitate to add refined sweeteners to porridge, but the scant ½ teaspoon of maple syrup here (yes, I got out the measuring spoons) is just the right touch of sweetness to tie the ingredients together. This is a prime example of “everything in moderation.” I don’t necessarily say no to sugar, but I insist that it be used with care.

This recipe was inspired by my mom, who always cooks her oats with a large handful of frozen blueberries. We’re obsessed with these particular oats from Bob’s Red Mill, so she sent me home with a large package the last time I was in Houston. The texture is what makes this Scottish oatmeal unique; it’s somewhere between steel cut oatmeal and cream of wheat. But just like my tried-and-true rolled oats, this creamy breakfast is microwave friendly and ready in a flash. Plus, if you do it my way, you end up with purple oatmeal. How’s that for a Monday morning?

Blueberry Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Almonds 3

Blueberry Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Scottish Oats
  • 1/3 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat Organic)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds (about 16 almonds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

Method:

  1. Combine the oats, blueberries, and water in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Then stir the mixture, and microwave for an additional 2 minutes. (Trust me about the large bowl.)
  2. Let the oatmeal sit in the microwave for one minute (this is the hardest part). Then, transfer oatmeal to a serving bowl if desired.
  3. Stir in the Greek yogurt, drizzle the top of the oatmeal with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup, then top with almonds and serve.

Nutrition per Serving: 350 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated fat), 22g protein, 40g carbohydrates (11g sugar*, 8g fiber), 6mg cholesterol, 42mg sodium, 1% Vitamin A, 2% Vitamin C, 21% Calcium, 16% Iron

*Only 2g added sugars, all of the rest are naturally occuring

– Kelly

Blueberry Picking + 10 Healthy Blueberry Recipes from the Web

Blueberry Picking at Parlee Farms

Gloomy (and thankfully, exaggerated) forecast aside, I started my Sunday with a blueberry picking double date to Parlee Farms, about an hour north of Boston near the New Hampshire Border. The pick-your-own prices were reasonable ($3.99 per pound), which means I now have three pounds of fresh picked, local blueberries to work through (kid stuff compared to Ashley and Josh’s ten-pound haul).

Whether you also have a plethora of fresh blueberries at your disposal, or you just want to take advantage of current sales and seasonal abundance, I’ve gathered up plenty of meal ideas to kickstart your culinary creativity. See below for ten healthy blueberry recipe ideas from around the web…

Ambitious Kitchen Muffins

^^ Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen // I love that this recipe works in whole wheat flour, zucchini (another abundant summer ingredient), and applesauce.

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^^ Turmeric Breakfast Muffins from Green Kitchen Stories // I’ve been dying to try this recipe for months now. These muffins are gluten-free (not what I usually lean towards), but luckily I have whole grain buckwheat flour (and plenty of blueberries!) on hand.

peach blueberry oatmeal (4)

^^ Peach Blueberry Oatmeal from The Oatmeal Artist // So simple, yet so delicious. I had a similar dish (“slow cooked oats with chefs topping”) at The Willow Rest in Gloucester, MA a few weeks ago, and have been craving this combo ever since.

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^^ Baked Blueberry Oatmeal from Nutmeg Nanny // This oatmeal bake is a tried-and-true recipe in my kitchen. (I’ve featured it here and here).

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^^ Blueberry + Avocado Detox Smoothie from Jillianastasia // When in doubt, throw your berries in a smoothie!

berryzinger

^^ Berry Zinger Smoothie from The Crunchy Radish // Lemon and ginger can elevate a common berry smoothie into something special.

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^^ Brain Power Salad (Spinach Salad with Salmon, Avocado, and Blueberries) from Gimme Some Oven // Salmon and avocado pair wonderfully with nearly any fruit, but antioxidant filled blueberries keep this “brain food” recipe on theme.

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^^ Grilled Chicken Salad with Feta, Fresh Corn, and Blueberries from The Pioneer Woman // It’s not often that I link to a Pioneer Woman recipe on this site, but the grilled chicken and fresh summer produce are a refreshingly nutritious foundation.

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^^ Blueberry Pizza with Honeyed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto from In Sock Monkey Slippers // I will definitely be using blueberries on a flatbread pizza this week. If things go well, you might even have a recipe post coming your way!

Healthy Cheesecake Made with Greek Yogurt

^^ Lightly Sweetened Greek Yogurt Cheesecake from Kelly Toups // I couldn’t end this list without sharing a recipe from my own collection!

What’s your go-to blueberry recipe?

– Kelly

My Favorite Healthier Menu Items Around Boston

Wondering how a registered dietitian navigates the Boston casual dining scene? When eating out, it helps to have a few go-to healthy menu items in mind–dishes that are loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. See below for 5 of my current favorite nutritious menu options around town!

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Museli from Tatte

Muesli from Tatte Bakery ($9 bowl pictured, or $6 cup): Unsweetened whipped Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, black sesame seeds, sliced almonds, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, oats, and a drizzle of honey

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Grilled Veggie Whole Wheat Burrito from Annas Taqueria

Grilled Veggie Burrito from Anna’s Taqueria ($6.85): I choose the whole wheat tortilla (whole wheat is the first ingredient!) and fill it with black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, and grilled veggies (an impressive mix of bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, corn, and green beans). That’s it. No meat, no cheese, no problem!

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Sweet Potato Sandwich from Crema Cafe ($6.95): Toasted whole grain bread filled with sweet potato, granny smith apple, hummus, sprouts, avocado, and sherry vinaigrette. Great for sharing!

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Salad from Sweetgreen (approx. $8.50-$10.50) I almost always go for the seasonal salads, but I also LOVE the Hummus Tahina and the Wild Child (with chickpeas)… and basically the whole menu!

Whole Wheat French Toast from The Paramount

Whole Wheat French Toast with Fruit from The Paramount Beacon Hill ($11): This is one of the few places that I have been able to find whole wheat French toast. Unfortunately, it was recently taken off the menu (to make room for new lunch specials), but the staff informed me that I will always be able to order it because they keep the whole wheat bread stocked for turkey sandwiches. So go ahead and ask for it, even if it’s not listed!

Do you know of any delicious, Boston area restaurant meals that are loaded with nourishing ingredients? Do tell! Also, for more of my food adventures, don’t forget to follow along on Instagram (@kellytoupsrd)!

– Kelly

5 High Calorie, Nutritious Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

While many Americans are struggling with obesity and overeating, there is still a significant portion of the population that is looking to put on weight. Sounds easy, right? Load up on junk food, and you’ll hit your calorie goal in no time. But surely there has to be a healthier way.

Many people were shocked to learn that Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps had to consume roughly 10,000 calories a day in order to keep up with his strenuous training schedule. His meals consist of mostly high fat, energy dense foods. See his breakfast below, on display at the American Museum of Natural History through August.

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

While this doesn’t appear to be the healthiest diet, there is no doubt that eating 10,000 calories of fibrous fruits and vegetables would not only require a lot of eating (those are low calorie foods) but also likely cause intestinal turmoil (too much fiber… way too much fiber).

That being said, there has to be some middle ground. Here are some of my top picks for healthy foods that are energy dense AND nutrient dense.

  1. Avocado: healthy fats add calories, and heart healthy nutrients
  2. Quinoa: so much nutrition packed into this power grain
  3. Nuts & Nut Butters: a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats
  4. Dried Fruit: more nutrition concentrated into a smaller package
  5. Smoothies: an easy way load lots of healthy foods into a portable beverage

So what what kind of breakfast would I recommend for someone looking to add more healthy calories?

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Perhaps 2 slices of hearty whole grain toast topped with a generous serving of turkey and avocado, topped with a fried egg. (Image via a splash of vanilla)

quinoa

Another filling breakfast would be a big bowl of quinoa cooked in milk, topped with honey, and a large helping of raisins and almonds. (image via Pinterest, original source unknown)

smoothie

A hearty smoothie made with fruits, yogurt, and nut butter would also be an energy dense accompaniment to any athletes breakfast. (image via 100 days of real food)

And if you were burning as many calories as Michael Phelps, I might recommend that you eat all of these things together 😉 What foods do you gravitate towards when your body needs energy?

– Kelly

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for Two

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for 2

I’ve been looking for a way to make my daily oatmeal habit more conducive to the warm summer weather, and after stumbling upon this recipe from The Oatmeal Artist, I think I’ve found the perfect solution! Usually my oatmeal recipes are single serving. However, 1 serving of this recipe would leave me with half of a grapefruit and half of a yogurt carton, so it’s easiest just to make 2 servings. If you don’t have anyone else to cook for, you can save the other bowl of oatmeal for the next morning. It will keep a few days in the fridge.

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for 2

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for Two (inspired by the Oatmeal Artist)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (divided)
    Old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 individual container (divided)
    Plain Coconut Yogurt (vanilla is also good!)
  • 4 teaspoons (divided)
    Chia seeds
  • 1 whole
    Grapefruit (segmented)
  • 1 cup (divided)
    Water

Cooking Directions

  1. Evenly divide ingredients between two cereal bowls. Each bowl gets 1/2 cup oats, 2 tsp chia seeds, half of a grapefruit (segmented and in chunks), 1/2 cup of water, and half of the yogurt cup.
  2. Mix well, cover, and place in fridge overnight (at least 7 hours).
  3. Give it a good stir before serving. Enjoy!

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for 2

Most overnight oats recipes are made in Mason jars. I don’t have Mason jars. But I do have cute Anthropologie Latte bowls! So that’s what I use. As long as you can cover it in the fridge and give it a good stir before serving, bowls work just fine. Plus, digging my spoon into the bottom of a tall Mason jar does not seem appealing. Latte bowls for the win!

Overnight Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal for 2

Nutrition per serving: 322 calories, 10g fat (3g saturated), 8.5g protein, 52g carbohydrates (16g fiber, 17g sugar), 0mg cholesterol, 35mg sodium, 200mg potassium, 20% Vitamin A, 110% Vitamin C, 22% Calcium, 16% Iron

I do wish this recipe had more protein, but believe me when I tell you that the healthy dose of fat and fiber will keep you full for HOURS. And did I mention that this recipe is vegan?

– Kelly

Healthy Valentine’s Day Menu

It’s almost that time of year! Instead of spoiling your loved ones with sugary treats that could lead to upset stomachs and dental carries, show them that you care by cooking some extra special, wholesome meals. Here is an entire day’s menu of healthy Valentine’s meals. The images are meant to inspire you, while the accompanying text will guide you through how to keep each meal nutritious. Enjoy!

Breakfast: Heart Shaped Pancakes

Healthy Valentines Breakfast

Image 1 via More Design Please, Image 2 via a pretty cool life

You can get these lovely heart shaped pancakes by using a squeeze bottle, cookie cutters, or even a plastic sandwich baggie with a snipped off corner. Serve with fresh fruit and a protein source (such as Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, or scrambled eggs). Make sure that you are using a whole grain pancake mix, such as one of these below.

Healthy Pancake Mixes

1) Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix, 2) Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix – Whole Wheat Oat and Honey, 3) Hodgson Mill Multigrain Buttermilk Pancake Mix with Milled Flax Seed & Soy

Lunch: LOVELY Sandwiches

Healthy Valentines Lunches

Image via Lisa Storms

The possibilities with this one are endless! I love the balance with the fruits, veggies, and nuts. Just be sure to aim for a whole grain bread.

Snack: Heart Fruit Kabobs

Heart Fruit

Image 1 via Parents.com, Image 2 via Spoonful.com

A great set of cookie cutters goes a long way! Feel free to serve with either low fat or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese on the side.

Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup for the SOUL MATE + HEARTS of Palm Salad

Valentines Dinner

Image 1 via Recipe by Photo, Image 2 via Paula Deen

This link has a great tutorial on how to make the heart shaped carrots. For a basic chicken noodle soup recipe, start here. I also like the one in my new Ellie Krieger cookbook. Paula Deen’s Hearts of Palm Salad with strawberries and spinach looks great as is, but hearts of romaine and heart shaped veggies (such as cucumber slices) would also make for a special thematic treat.

Dessert: Healthy Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Image via the Berry

It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without something sweet. I love the look of these X’s and O’s cupcakes. Instead of sugar laden box cake mixes, try this winning Red Velvet Cake recipe from the New York Times, which includes whole grain flour, cherries, apple sauce, and beets, among other healthy ingredients. Also on my list of healthy Valentine’s Day desserts to try is this Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Icing, and these Gluten Free + Vegan Red Velvet Brownies.

For more heart shaped food inspiration, check out this page on Pinterest. What will you be making this Valentine’s Day?

– Kelly