White Bean and Cilantro Soup with Herbed Parmesan Croutons

White Bean and Cilantro Soup
2 Smart Points (per 1 cup serving)
*Points Subject to change per serving size
7 Servings
Ingredients:
1 Large Can Cannellini Beans (1 lb 13 Oz)
3 Cups Water (added by 1/4 C until reaching desired thickness)
1 Bunch very fresh Cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lemon Juice (or White vinegar)
2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro
2 Cloves fresh garlic
1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 Tbsp Parsley (dried)
1/4 tsp oregano (dried)
2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Directions:
➡  Preheat a hot pot on low with 1/2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
➡  Add 2 cloves of garlic and stir until fragrant and soft do not over cook
➡  Add half of the can of Cannellini bleans to a blender and puree for broth. Add water 1/4 cup at a time reserving about 1.5 cups for later use. (The puree should be thin and translucent.)
➡  Remove the softened garlic from the pot and add it to the blender along with 2 bouillon cubes and the turmeric.
➡  Remove the puree from the blender and add to the pot that the garlic was cooked in.
➡  Add the remainder of the Cannellini beans to the pot and stir.
➡  Add the remainder of the dried ingredients to the pot and the vinegar or lemon juice. Save the cilantro.
➡  Separate the leaves of the cilantro from the stems while the soup simmers on low.
➡  Chop half of the stems and add to the simmering pot.
➡  When the soup is hot and fragrant (about 20 minutes) add the leaves of the cilantro and take off the heat (to prevent browning)
➡  Add 1/2 Tbsp of butter to the pot and stir in. This creates that pretty and shiny gloss finishing your broth!
English Muffin Croutons
3 Smart Points (per 1/3 serving)
3 Servings

*Points Subject to change per serving size

Ingredients:
3 Light Wheat or white Thomas’ English Muffin’s
 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp garlic Powder
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
Directions:
➡ Remove the outer “skin” of the English muffin (Do Not Slice the English muffins down the center) thinly slice the exterior to expose the spongier interior. (This helps the croutons to absorb the flavor)
➡ Cut the muffins into large cubes and lay onto a sheet pan.
➡  Drizzle the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive oil over the entire pan of cubed English muffins and then sprinkle the dried herbs and cheese across the top.
*Tip: Always sprinkle seasoning from high above to get the whole pan*
➡  Roast at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden in the oven or air fryer.
The remainder of the croutons made an exceptional Pansanella salad with Grilled Radicchio.I threw the radicchio on the grill with some non stick spray, salt and pepper. I then tossed the grilled pieces with some fresh thinly sliced pieces and an herby greek vinaigrette which made for a great pair!

Living With Hashimoto

 

Wake up, yawn, cringe at the sunlight (or lack thereof) sigh (sometimes cry) repeat…

This has been my experience for longer than I’d like to admit. It’s my hard honest truth that no matter how lovingly a cappuccino, cup of coffee, or any caffeinated beverage is prepared for me, by myself OR my favorite local cafe, some mornings, I just cannot do it. Some days its the hardest task to just will myself to simply exist.

“What an ugly little secret I keep…” I have thought on some mornings, languidly preparing for the day before me. Some days are just full. Full of meetings, tests, get togethers or gatherings that I could attribute my reluctance to start the day to, but more often than not, my day has been clear, or even filled with an abundance of sunshine, activity and sometimes love to make me feel wildly convicted at my lackluster disposition. I have often thought of how I could possibly have a “chemical imbalance” and what that would mean in terms of my general holistic approach to my health. I’ve felt even worse at the prospect of taking antidepressants, especially because of the stigma surrounding such a thing (though that stigma is ever fading as we bring awareness to mental health in this time.)

I’ve come to understand more today the reasoning behind my struggle, after my pursuit to find the overall reason of my – dare I say – depression rather than the symptoms. Cue many months of blood work and monitoring, some weight struggles and vitamin deficiency’s, and welcome my new friend Hashimoto.

 

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to be exact.

 

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that triggers my immune system to attack my own self (as if I wasn’t doing enough of that for many years BUT I digress.) For the sake of transparency, there are so many palpable feelings I have at having a real and tangible understanding of my body and my emotions for the past 6 or 7 years (maybe more.) I have struggled in silence with the symptoms of a very treatable condition for so long because of my own aversion to medication. Finally — while figuratively — a hard pill to swallow (the supplement, not so much — it’s so tiny!) I gave in to my body’s calling to see a physician and begin treatment. I am still very much in the beginning stages of my diagnosis and treatment but I can safely say without hesitation that the effects of that powerful, albeit tiny, pill are definitely noticeable. I notice it when I wake in the morning and breath a deep breath free of anxiety and when I look out the window and notice how vibrant the day is without the looming sadness and all around lethargy that I have lived with for so long. I noticed it the first week with a real appetite and still very evident weight loss. I am learning every day that I have no need to feel shame over symptoms of a condition that I have no control over (my family history plays a strong role in my case) My desire for a child in the very near future spurred me to monitor my condition and my desire to care for that said child in the future has spurred me to continue treatment for a foreseeable lifetime (unless otherwise directed by my physician) It’s a journey unique to me that I have hidden and struggled with for far too long and I write this with a sigh of relief for those who are in the beginning of their own journey who can draw some comfort from the fact that someone with as much of an aversion to the “pill pushing” and “symptom treating” society we currently live in is finally OKAY with taking proper care of herself, both physically and emotionally.

 

**Please keep in mind that all situations are unique and different and I am only sharing the beginning of my own.**

 

Be well,

Lee

 

 

5 Smart Points Yeast Bread Dinner Rolls!

There is something about fresh baked carbohydrates that make me swoon! 5 Smart Points for a yeasty tender roll with a slight bite on the outside is a bargain to me for sure. I can think about how 2 slices of bread on a regular day from my local supermarket is 4 smart points for two slices or I can think about the love and satisfaction that comes from baking from scratch — a bread with no added ingredients but the basics – milk, yeast and butter – who could deny such a special treat?

Yeast Bread Dinner Rolls
5 Smart Points (per 1 roll serving)
*Points Subject to change per serving size
24 Servings
Ingredients:

2 cups warm milk

2 Packets of Hodgson Mills Instant Yeast

1/8 – 1/4 c  white granulated Sugar

2 teaspoons Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

8 Tbsp Softened Unsalted Butter

2 large eggs

6.5 cups bread flour

Directions:
➡  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. (You can do this a little later but I like to start the oven before I even set my dough to rise. I believe it helps the rising process in my sometimes drafty home)
➡  In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine warm milk, yeast sugar, salt butter (reserve 2 tbsp) and eggs.
➡  Add 6 cups of flour (Reserve 1/2 C)
➡Using your dough hook attachment switch your mixer to the lowest setting as you see the flour become moistened start to raise the setting being careful not to create a flour storm. (I use a clean towel to drape over my mixer in the beginning of mixing so the flour doesn’t puff up)
➡ When you start to see the dough pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl stop the machine to check the consistency (it should be sticky and not to wet but still soft) if its still wet start to slowly add the remainder of the reserved flour until it becomes sticky.
It should look something Like this:
➡  Oil a large glass bowl with 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
➡  Knead the dough into a well rounded ball and place in the oiled glass bowl and cover it with your clean towel.
➡  Let rise for 90 minutes until it has puffed up above the edges of your bowl.
➡  Grease an 11 x 17 baking sheet with 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
➡  After 90 minutes punch down the dough and form into 24 rolls (six rows of four)
➡  Drape your clean towel over the baking sheet and let rise for 1 hour.
➡  After 1 hour bake the rolls for about 10 – 15 minutes (keeping an eye on them as oven temps vary)
➡  Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with 2 tbsp of your softened butter
➡  Place the rolls back into the oven until they have the desired color (my family likes a lighter colored roll but you can absolutely make them more golden which is how I like them!)
Place a towel in a bowl and serve the warm rolls at your next dinner party wrapped to keep them warm. These bad boys don’t even NEED butter on them to enjoy!

 

Garlicky Spatchcock Chicken With Herb Butter

The spatchcock, also known as “spattlecock” is in this case,  whole chicken, prepared for roasting by removing the backbone of the chicken, and flattening it out before cooking. This is also known as butterflying. Not only is this an easy and fast way to roast a whole bird, I  just love the look of a finished spatchock chicken. It reminds me of an alternate life, with a farm but still the same love of cooking, entertaining and all things rustic and family style. The juice of these sweet tomatoes paired with the herbaceous butter spread on this chicken lends moisture and complexity to this very easy weeknight dinner. Serve with a pilaf or a salad and you have dinner and lunch and perhaps a few snacks in between for up to 3 days.

12 Smart Points (per 1/4)
*Points Subject to change per serving size
4 Servings
1 5lb whole chicken
5 small to medium yukon gold potato’s
1 pint sweet yellow cherry tomatoes
1 Whole Lemon
2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro
1 clove fresh garlic
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic Powder
1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp red chilli Flakes
2 tsp chilli powder or paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp old bay
Bonus: Fresh Thyme and Rosemary go a long way added in whole sprigs on and under the chicken
Directions:
➡  Pre-heat Oven to 350
➡  Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on a sheet pan and set aside
➡  Slice potatoes into quarters, and the cherry tomatoes in half. The potatoes should look like even small cubes.Toss right on the sheet pan coating with olive oil.
➡  Remove the chicken from its packaging and discard any of the inside organs.
➡  Use your kitchen sheers to cut the bird down the back.
Note: Some people remove the entire backbone and save it for stock but I know that can seem daunting. Cutting just straight down the back gives the same effect with less work for the beginner.
*When completed and butterflied, the breast, thighs, wings and legs should be facing up with the cavity facing down.*
➡  Clean the chicken with half a lemon, rubbing the skin, legs, things and wings first and the exposed cavity last,
➡  With the cavity of the chicken still facing up sprinkle half of the salt and pepper all over
➡  Flip the chicken over. using the kitchen sheers or a sharp knife gently cut underneath the skin being careful not to pierce
➡  Using your hands rub the other half of the lemon under the skin and remove
➡  Rub half of the butter under the entire skin sprinkle with salt and old bay and stuff the thinly sliced garlic pieces underneath leaving some whole. Make sure the skin is pushed up by the garlic and not sunken so it can crisp! You can also cut some slits into the chicken to stuff the whole garlic inside of when sliced its decadent and buttery!
➡  Rub the remainder of the butter on the outside of the chicken and sprinkle the remainder over the top making sure to get the potatoes, cherry tomatoes and chicken covered
*Tip: Always sprinkle seasoning from high above to get the whole pan*
➡  Drizzle the remaining 1 Tbsp of Olive oil over the entire pan of chicken and potato/tomato mixture
➡  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or at 300 for about an hour until the internal temperature is 165
The great thing about this method of preparation is that you shave 15 minutes off of typical roasting time but I like to roast the chicken longer on lower heat so that the skin is VERY crisp.

Earn The Burger: How a change in mentality can change your life


Brown Rice Bowl

12 Smart Points
4 Servings
Spicy Sesame Salmon Bowl Recipe:2tsp Mirin
2tsp Sherry
2tsp Sesame oil
2tsp Sriracha
1Tbsp Garlic Powder
Salt to taste
2 c Broccoli
4 eggs
1/2 c Thawed Frozen Peas
1/4 c Shredded Carrots
2 c Cooked Brown Rice
1 8oz Salmon Fillet
1 Hass Avocado
2Tbsp Bragg’ liquid amino’s (or low sodium soy)

➡ Whisk the first 5 ingredients and marinate salmon fillet then sear to desired doneness flake and set aside.
➡ Heat Oven to 350 and roast broccoli with 2 tsp hot chili oil (or canola and red chili flakes) and 1T Bragg’s liquid amino’s
➡ Use remainder of marinade to season cooked brown rice and mix with cooked peas and shredded carrot stir and toss in non stick skillet with 1T Bragg’s liquid aminos.
➡ Assemble all in 4 bowls and top with a sunny side up egg and sriracha and half of avocado

I’ve always had what seemed to be an illicit love affair with burgers. It was a favorite food probably upon exiting the womb. I can guiltily unashamedly say that I have enjoyed the love hate relationship with mammoth burgers, I’m talking juicy squirt you in the eye burgers, for much of my life.Way back in the day, I would make my way to the greasiest fast foodiest place and treat myself to that said burger and then berate myself for not adhering to my vigilant diet NAY plan for healthful eating. I would then give up on anything healthy, period, and just throw in the towel, thinking:What’s the use? It’s over!I would then willfully resort to death by cookies!I have to tell you having the new understanding that I have, has really helped me greatly in times such as these.  This new understanding whispers sweetly and lovingly to me when I am hard on myself, she says:

Hey you! Know what? You’ve exercised most days this week

OR

 “X” amount of calories is probably a lot to have in a single meal, snack, treat or indulgence but coupled with your consistent healthy eating resolve on most days and how you will probably have a healthy Spicy Sesame Salmon Bowl for dinner, I think you earnedtheburger this week.

So the moral of this story is: Eat Junkfood…I mean mostly healthfully and mindfully, live a life of wellness and be happy! A life of wellness sometimes includes indulgent treats and just so you know I’ve learned this from repeated failure.