Alaskan Salmon with Mustard Chive Yogurt Sauce

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These past two months I have focused on eating clean and healthy as often as possible.  My healthy eating tends to be not as strict on the weekends, but I figure that is okay as long as I am focused on healthy eating during the week.  I also have been working out about 3 times per week.  The number on the scale doesn’t seem to want to budge.  It’s frustrating and I know I shouldn’t go by the scale, but I am human.

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Picking up a 4th work out day each week hopefully will help as well as learning a bit more about nutrition.  I recently finished reading the book Clean Green and Lean.  The book is a bit extreme with clearing out the toxins – no candles (combustion fumes), get rid of all carpet (ok I don’t have the funds for that project), no febreeze spray.  I mean some points in the doctor’s book were at bit extreme.  However, he definitely explains the benefits of eating certain foods organically and what foods to avoid entirely from your diet.

There’s a portion of the book that discusses fish and how farm raised salmon contains a lot of toxins.  I knew this from reading other articles and nutrition books, but this book had a lot more detail on the subject.  Although it is cheaper and bountiful, the benefits seem to be not worth it.  The night I finished the book I went to the store and stocked up on organic produce, Alaskan salmon and other organic goods for the week.  In a future post, I will what foods I always buy organically and what ones are clean enough to buy regular.

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I love this recipe for a simple weeknight meal and also when you aren’t interested in making a fuss in the kitchen.  The Mustard and Chive sauce is not cooked at all and the salmon is baked or grilled in under 10 minutes.  Prepare this simple meal on a hot night to avoid having to use much heat.  The oily, protein-rich salmon is complemented nicely with the creamy, slightly spicy, fresh lemon sauce.

Do you eat organically?  If so, what foods are your MUST eat organic?

salmon with mustard chive sauce

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 8-10 minutes   |||   Servings: 4  |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
4 Alaskan salmon fillets
1 lemon
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp chives, chopped
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of cayenne
sea salt
black pepper

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or grill to medium heat.
2.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
3.  Cut 1/2 of the lemon into thin slices and place on top of the salmon.
4.  Bake or grill for 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness.
5.  Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the yogurt, chives, juice of lemon, mustard, oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
6.  Once salmon is done, top with yogurt sauce and serve with a lemon wedge.

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Enjoy

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Penne + Shrimp & Cilantro Pesto

From the beginning of our relationship Bryan knew I was a foodie – he may have known before we even met since all I contributed to the camping gear was food.  We met on a camping trip up in Ludington back in September 2011.  On that trip, I brought a ton of food.  On our second “meeting”, I made a delicious meal while up north skiing in Boyne.  Third date, I prepared homemade pasta carbonara for him in Chicago.  Needless to say, he caught on for my love for food and knew he had to step it up on his kitchen knowledge.

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The first homemade meal Bryan prepared for me was this Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto.  We lived together at this time and for the most part I had done most of the meal prep.  However, one day he said he was going to try out a recipe and cook for me.  I was very excited and came home to find him in the kitchen adorning an apron.  He was slowly removing each leaf of cilantro off of the stem.  It took him a really long time to pull off all those leaves and I didn’t mention that you can use a little bit of the stems., but I won’t forget him tearing all those leaves.. it was his meal, his preparation and boy was it good.

This dish has become a regular in our weeknight meal rotation.  Super quick to make, minimal dishes and a delicious and satisfying result.  Do you remember my Tilapia with Cilantro pesto post?  This pesto is basically the same, but with a couple adaptations to the pesto.  It is made a bit thinner so that it coats the pasta nicely.  Also, I don’t use nuts because I want to avoid the nutty flavor in order to maximize the cilantro flavor.  Over the years, we have tweaked our version of the pesto and continue to make improvements to it.

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I strongly recommend this dish when entertaining guests too.  It is a very pretty dish and since it is easy to make (pesto can be made ahead) you have more time to hang out with your guests instead of spending the whole evening by the stove.  Use whole grain penne, wild caught shrimp and organic ingredients in the pesto for a clean & wholesome meal.

Penne + shrimp & cilantro pesto

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  15 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 8-10 minutes   |||   Servings: 4  |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
half box whole grain penne pasta
1 lb wild caught shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 bushels of cilantro, leaves only
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pasta water
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
1 tsp dried oregano
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions
1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add penna when boiling and cook according to package directions.  Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the water once the pasta is drained.
2.  Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the cilantro, parmesan, oil, garlic, and seasonings.  Pulse until combined then slowly add 1/4 cup of water at a time, pulsing until smooth.
3.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.
4.  In the pasta pot, combine the pesto, shrimp and pasta.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
5.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy & have a wonderful weekend!!

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Summer Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

{the summer soup}

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I used to hate soups.  I never was a big fan of them growing up.  Chicken noodle soup was served when you were sick, but soup was never a frequent visitor to the dinner table.  I did LOVE beef stew.  However, stew is not soup is not chowder.  In my old age, I have grown to love soups, stews, chowders, bisques, gazpachos etc etc.  They definitely appear on my dinner menu often, but in the fall & winter more.

However, I don’t discriminate soup in the summer so I add some delicious summer flavors to keep it light.  You’ve probably noticed a decent amount of posts including corn lately.  Well, it is summertime and I really cannot get enough of it.  [I will be posting a Mexican Corn Salad shortly where I use the corn straight up off the cob.]  This recipe uses the corn’s kernels and “pulp” to add creaminess to the broth.

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So what exactly is the difference between a stew, chowder, and soup?  I did some research to answer this question for you…..

  • SOUP:  Liquid is very thin.  Can be cream based or broth based.  It is majority liquid with some, if any, added pieces
  • CHOWDER:  Broth is thickened using an agent such as flour and has more “stuff” in it than liquid.
  • STEW:  Mainly solid pieces of veggies & meat cooked in a small amount of liquid (beer) cooked slow resulting in a gravy base.

Based off of these Sara-determined definitions, this is a soup because I didn’t use any flour as a thickening agent.  I am still going to call it a chowder because I like the word chowder and there is more “stuff” than liquid.

This is the ultimate summer soup.  It has many bold flavors, is light, creamy, salty, sweet, and in my chowder, spicy.  If you aren’t a shrimp fan, substitute crab or lobster – yum!  This dinner sounds a bit fancy, but it is yet another “Dinner in 20″ meal.  It requires one pot too which makes for easy clean up :)

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summer corn & shrimp chowder with bacon
Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
3 slices of thick bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk [I used fat-free]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
Optional:  cilantro, cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs over a bowl.  Squeeze any excess “juice” from the cores.
2.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium and add the bacon.  Cook until crispy.  Remove about 2 Tbsp from the pot & set aside.  If there is a lot of grease, discard all but about 2 tsp.
3.  Add the onion and celery & saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic & thyme and saute an additional minute.
5.  Add the corn and any pulp acquired during cutting and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for 2 minutes.
7.  Stir in the milk.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and cayenne.
9.  Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro and remaining bacon pieces.

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Enjoy!

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Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Curry Sauce

{food so nice, they named it twice}

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I am so glad that the weather is finally warm.  Although still not my optimal temperature, it has been really nice to soak up the vitamin d.  On Easter Sunday, my poor pale skin got fried.  We were outside at Bryan’s grandparents the whole day and I didn’t even think twice about my white skin seeing sun for the first time in forever.  Needless to say, I didn’t put sunscreen on and my chest and forearms decided to turn bright red.  Luckily, my wonderful coworker brought me a cute little aloe plant for my birthday that I was able to smear on my burn.

Anyways, moral of the story:  wear sunscreen.

Beautiful weather in my eyes means using the grill to whip up dinner.  I love when Bryan uses our charcoal grill because the flavor is absolutely delicious, but sometimes it is just easier to use the propane grill.  I still get a great grilled taste so it works for me.

While at the store deciding on dinner – which was going to just be grilled chicken – I came across some beautiful, very on sale pieces of Mahi Mahi.  I bought these two fillets for a total of $7.45.  I even went as far as asking the meat guy if there was a reason they were so cheap.  He said it was simply the deal of the day.  I didn’t want to buy them and learn the cost was so low due to being old or whatever.  However, they did not have an fishy odor so I suppose a deal it was!

IMG_3952So out went my idea for a simple grilled chicken dinner with a side of green beans.  My creative juices started to flow and I decided I would top the fish with a mango avocado salad.  However, when I got home as I fished through my cupboards I came across a can of coconut milk.  I changed my direction a little bit and opted to create a mango coconut sauce.  The sauce was very sweet so to balance the flavors I stirred in some curry powder and WOW it was delicious.

I am not the biggest fan of curry flavor, but I do like it in small doses.  This sauce is a perfect example of curry being utilized in a subtle, but bold way.  All of the different spices in the curry plus the sweetness of the mango complement each other nicely.  A sauce with sweet, spicy, and salty notes – what more could you want?

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I served the fish with a side of quinoa and some sauteed broccolini [will be posting this recipe soon].  The fish is very hearty and this healthy meal left me very satisfied.  So if the sun is shining in your neck of the woods, dust off your grill and throw on some fish.  This sauce can easily be used on any type of fish or even chicken breasts.

Grilled mahi Mahi with mango curry sauce

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  10 minutes    |||     Grill Time:  9-12 minutes   |||    Servings:  4   |||   Difficulty Level:  Low

Ingredients:
4 pieces of Mahi Mahi
salt and pepper
1 mango, peeled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered [optional]

Directions:
1.  In a food processor combine mango, coconut milk, water, cilantro, and seasonings.  Pulse until smooth and season with salt and pepper.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.
2.  Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
3.  Heat grill to a medium flame.
4.  Place the fish on an angle,tops side down first.  Grill for 3-4 minutes.
5.  Turn a quarter and grill another 3 minutes.
6.  Flip the fillets and grilled 3-4 minutes or until just cooked through.
7.  Drizzle the sauce over the fish and top with cut tomatoes.

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Enjoy!

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Shrimp Scampi {lightened up}

{same taste. no guilt.}
IMG_3468So I have to give myself a huge pat on the back.  Go me.  I did a great job eating clean and light last week.  The result: a pleasant reduction on the scale.  I hate scales and I try to avoid using it, but I was involved in a Diet Bet so it was required. The month was coming to an end and I needed to submit by final weigh in for the challenge.  I ate so well and the motivation to win the diet bet definitely worked because.. I won!  I was able to lose 4% of my weight in the month of February, resulting in being $50 richer.

I was back at Bikram three times a week & 1 day at the gym.  On top of that, I was only eating clean and organic.  It definitely paid off and I am even more motivated now.  I joined another Diet Bet and plan to lose another 4% in the month of March.  Hello more money!  Cheer me on & enjoy my healthy recipes this month!

Onto the yummy meal pictured above….

Isn’t so annoying how all bad things taste the best?  It seems the higher the calories, the better it tastes.  Not with this recipe though.  It contains the same delicious flavors, but way less calories that the original scampi.

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For this recipe, I used all organic ingredients including the pasta.  The silky sauce perfectly coats the shrimp and noodles and the broccoli is an added blast of nutrients.  Compared to heavily buttered scampi sauces, this lightened up version contains no butter or wine.

I tried to avoid carbs as much as possible, but I thought a small splurge with this meal was OK.  I just worked out extra hard & ate light for my other meals.  Shrimp is one of my favorite proteins. They are very light & healthy, aiding in the production of the good LDL cholesterol.  Shrimp is a great addition to a heart healthy diet.

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If you are in a rut and thinking that it is hard to eat healthy and that you have to give up all your favorites.  Pull yourself back up and tell yourself that is not true!  Any high calorie, high fat meal can be altered and still provide the same wonderful tastes.  This shrimp scampi dish is light, healthy, and incredibly tasty!

Shrimp Scampi [lightened up!]
Recipe Adapted from:  Cooking Light Magazine
Hands on Time:  20 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  20 minutes   ///   Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 lb wild caught shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 small organic shallot, minced
8 oz organic spaghetti
2 cups organic broccoli
1 cup organic, low sodium chicken broth
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp organic parsley, chopped
zest of juice of 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp H2O, mixed together into a paste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese + additional for serving
salt & pepper

Directions:
1.  In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
2.  About 2 minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli.  Cook 2 minutes & drain.
3.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the shallot & 4 garlic cloves. Saute about 1 minute.
4.  Add the shrimp and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until pink.  Remove and set aside.
5.  Add remaining garlic and chicken broth to the pan.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat and add lemon and cornstarch mixture.  Whisk to incorporate.
7.  Slowly add in the parmesan and stir until melted.
8.  Add the pasta, shrimp, and broccoli and toss to coat.
9.  Stir in parsley and serving with a sprinkle more of parmesan cheese.

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enjoy!

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Creamy Linguine & Clam Sauce with Sage

{a twist on the original}

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Linguine & Clam Sauce is one of my go-to meals at any Italian restaurant.  It also is a quick and simple weeknight meal.  If you are weird about canned clams, don’t be.  They do not give off a strong fishy smell, they are not slimy, and they are not gritty.  You get a ton of clams for not a whole lot of money.  Obviously, you can use real clams for this recipe, but that hurts my wallet and isn’t as quick to prepare.

I added my spin to the traditional white wine based sauce.  I used a bit of fat free milk to add creaminess to the sauce.  Also, fresh chopped sage gave that hint of wintry goodness that I can’t seem to get enough of right now.

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This recipe can easily be adapted to your preferences.  Afraid of the clams?  Add chicken or shrimp.  Want a tomato based sauce?  Use canned, diced tomatoes instead of wine.  Sage too strong?  Use thyme or parsley.  The beauty of pasta dishes is that they can be altered in so many ways and still taste delicious.  This recipe is no exception, but in my opinion it needs no adjustments :)  Make my Copycat Olive Garden Bread Sticks and you will think you’ve apparated (Harry Potter, anyone?) to Italy.

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Sara’s Linguine & Clam Sauce

Hands on Time:  30 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  30 minutes   ///   Servings:  4   ///   WW+Pts:  9

Ingredients
1/2 lb linguine, cooked
1 (10oz) can of whole clams, juice reserved [I used Bumble Bee]
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp Urban Accent Mushroom Truffle Hunt
1 cup fat-free milk
1 Tbsp flour
2 tsp oregano
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp chopped, fresh sage
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions
1.  Heat a large pan over medium heat.  Add the butter and once melted add the onion.  Saute about 5 minutes or until soft.
2.  Add the garlic and saute 1 minute.
3.  Add the Urban Accents seasoning and clam juice.  Bring to a boil.
4.  Add the wine and oregano. Reduce to a simmer in add the clams.
5.  Mix the flour and milk together until combined and no clumps remain.
6.  Slowly add the milk and flour mixture to the clam sauce.
7.  Stir in the sage, cayenne, salt and pepper.
8.  Dish the sauce over a portion of the linguine.
9.  Serve with additional sage and shredded parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy!

xoxosara

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Orange & Garlic Shrimp Saute

{gourmet weeknight}

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I love cooking shrimp on weeknights because it only takes about 5 minutes.  This is a quick & delicious meal that will satisfy you & impress.  I was grabbing a salad for lunch at Whole Foods and saw large, beautiful shrimp on sale.  I didn’t even plan to make dinner that evening, but I couldn’t pass by these yummy shrimp.  I grabbed a box of 5 minute couscous to make along with the shrimp.

When I got home, I raided the fridge and cupboard to see what was on hand.  I had a whole bag of navel oranges that were about to go bad so I was decided to make an orange sauce to coat the shrimp.

I started preparation right away and dinner was ready about 10 minutes later.  First, I squeezed the oranges into a measuring cup & zested the fruit.

The shrimp was added to a saute pan and turned pink & yummy in less than 5 minutes.

I added the orange juice mixture to the same pan (quick clean up) and boiled it.  Once the butter was added, the sauce took on a beautiful sheen & the aroma was to die for.

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The shrimp was tossed back into the sauce and voila.  Dinner was complete.

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I strongly suggest this recipe!  Bryan and I really enjoyed it.  The heartiness of the couscous sticks to your ribs, leaving you feeling satisfied.  The sauce has a creaminess to it without any cream which sticks nicely to the shrimp.  I personally love the pairing or citrus and garlic.  I can’t wait to make this again!

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You can click here for the recipe!

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