Put Your Best Fork Forward

National Nutrition Month is an educational campaign celebrated each year in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, serves as a reminder that small changes toward a healthier lifestyle can be made with each bite!

Mealtimes are the foundation of your health and nutrition and it’s important to incorporate a variety of foods. Try including…

Mealtimes are the foundation of your health and nutrition and it’s important to incorporate a variety of foods. Try including…

  • a vegetable at every meal, focusing on dark green vegetables like leafy greens or broccoli and orange vegetables like carrots.
  • a lean protein source with each meal, such as chicken and turkey.
  • fish, like salmon or tuna twice weekly to increase healthy fat sources.
  • plant-based protein sources such as beans and lentils throughout your week.
  • a variety of grains at each meal, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.

Don’t forget adequate hydration from water is essential to living a healthy lifestyle! Aim for at least 40 ounces of plain water daily!

 

For more information on National Nutrition Month, check out http://www.eatright.org/resources/national-nutrition-month

Key Messages of this year’s theme:

  • Create an eating style that includes a variety of healthful foods.
  • Cook more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  • How much we eat is as important as what we eat.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days.
  • Manage or lower your weight by meeting with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. RDNs can provide personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle and health-related needs.

3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Shredded Italian Chicken

Hello, my name is Megan Klemm and I’m so glad to be writing this guest blog post, but more so, I’m finally here as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator for Springfield Clinic! I’m also a very busy mom. So how do I manage to put a decently healthy meal on the table with my hands full and working part-time? My secret is a crock-pot! I love to make all sorts of meals in the crock-pot, and many times you can make a complete meal all in one.

How do I manage to put a decently healthy meal on the table between working and being a mom? A crockpot!

In our house we follow the plate method (¼ plate carbohydrate, ¼ plate protein, and ½ plate non-starchy vegetables) to plan our meals and make sure we get in each food group, especially at dinner time. The recipes I use ones where you can throw everything in the night before or the morning of, set the crock-pot and walk out the door. If the recipe takes too much prep time, you can be assured that I will not use that recipe. Additionally, if the recipe says to cook less than 4 hours, I’m not going to use it either. It would be burnt by the time I got home.

I’ve gone so extreme as to have a crock-pot meal almost every night of an entire month. I did allow 1-2 nights a week for leftovers and if the leftovers can be frozen, I will do that to stretch the meals for another time.

My quick clean up secret is CROCK-POT LINERS!!! They are fabulous; the 2 brands I have used are Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners and Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Liners. Don’t use your crock-pot without one!

Try this 3-ingredient shredded Italian chicken recipe. It’s popular because it’s so easy and scrumptious!

PLATE METHOD
Carbohydrate: buns
Protein: chicken
Non-Starchy Vegetable: broccoli, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower mix, brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, or lettuce salad with spinach, romaine, and/or kale.

3-ingredient crock-pot shredded Italian chicken
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Ingredients
  1. 4-6 skinless boneless chicken breasts (to make it easy, I often don’t thaw the chicken beforehand)
  2. 1 packet dry Italian Dressing
  3. 1 jar pepperoncini, juice and all (my family doesn’t like spicy, so I use the whole pepperoncini, so I can take them out after cooking)
  4. Whole wheat buns
Instructions
  1. Line crock-pot with liner. Spray liner with cooking spray.
  2. Place frozen or thawed chicken breasts in crock-pot.
  3. Top with 1 packet dry Italian Dressing and jar of pepperoncini, juice and all.
  4. Cook on LOW approximately 6 hours (I’ll tell you, I’ve let this cook 8-10 hours before, with no problem).
  5. When you get home, take 2 forks and shred the chicken. At this point, I take the pepperoncini’s out, as my family doesn’t like spicy. Use the whole or sliced pepperoncini depending on your preference.
  6. Serve on whole wheat buns.
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/

 Interested in learning more?

Join us for Doctor Is In, a free lecture open to the public  on Wednesday, February 3rd featuring three Springfield Clinic dietitians.

  • Time: 6:30pm
  • Location: Springfield Clinic Main Campus EAST, 2nd Floor ASC waiting area
    1025 S 6th St, Springfield

Register today!

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Megan Klemm

Fall in Love with Soup

For some reason, making soup is not one of my culinary gifts. I find that my soups always end up bland, so I end up throwing out the majority of the batch. After this cool autumn weekend, I thought I’d give soup-making another try. I came across this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Danielle Walker at www.againstallgrain.com. This soup combines the savory flavors of roasted chicken with the richness of seasonal vegetables. When I make it again, I plan on increasing the vegetables by 50% so I can create a larger serving of vegetable puree, to give the soup a thicker texture. Of course, I always add extra garlic too! This soup was so delicious, my husband and I found ourselves fighting over the leftovers!

Fall Soup

 

Rotisserie Chicken Soup with Roasted Vegetables

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • ½ yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups of organic chicken broth
  • 3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (at least ½ the chicken)
  • ¾ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  1. Preheat oven to 425o. Toss cut vegetables (except spinach) in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock in large pot to a simmer. Add the chicken, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add half the roasted vegetables to soup and place other half in a blender or food processor. Add water and blend until pureed.
  4. Add pureed vegetables and fresh spinach to soup and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

Simple Skillet Italian Chicken

Sometimes the best tasting meals are the ones made with the simplest ingredients. I had leftover basil and tomatoes from some veggie kabobs I had made and decided to make an Italian-style chicken dinner. My husband asked if I could make the chicken a different way since I typically bake our chicken. Many times, people avoid cooking their chicken in the skillet because it can add more fat and thus more calories to the dish. However, a new study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that when individuals followed a low-carb/high-fat diet that was still rich in fruits and vegetables, they had greater improvements in reducing cardiac risk factors and weight loss compared to participants who followed the standard low-fat diet. This information doesn’t give you a free pass to eat truckloads of bacon and cheese, but it does give us some wiggle room to enjoy some higher fat cooking methods guilt-free from time to time.

Skillet Italian Chicken

Skillet Italian Chicken

• 4 chicken breasts

• 2 Tbsp olive oil

• Salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning

• 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved

• ½ cup fresh basil, chopped

• 1 can of organic Italian herbed tomatoes, drained of liquid

• 6 large garlic cloves, minced

• 2-4 Tbsp butter

1. Pre-heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Let the oil heat up for a couple of minutes before adding your chicken. As the pan heats, season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

2. Lay chicken breasts in pan. You should hear the pan sizzle. If it didn’t, then your oil is not hot enough and this will leave you with greasy chicken. Cook on one side for 4-8 minutes and then turn over. Depending on your thickness of the chicken breasts, you may need to increase your cooking time.

3. After the chicken has been turned over once and continues to cook, add tomatoes, basil, garlic and butter. Stir gently to mix ingredients. Continue to cook on low heat until chicken is white all the way through and the juices run clear. (I always use my meat thermometer to help with this).

4. Serve with your favorite green veggies, a kiss from your hubby and a hungry belly!

Skillet Italian Chicken

Bring a Taste of the Caribbean to the Dinner Table

photo 1

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take off for the day and go to the beach? Since the nearest ocean is over 1000 miles away, it’d be much easier to bring a slice of the island life to your home. One of the reasons I love summer is the bright flavors it brings to the dinner table. This tropical dish is great to share with friends or can jazz up any weeknight’s boring old recipes. I’ll admit, I’m a big weenie when it comes to spicy flavors so if this recipe needs a bit more zip for your liking, feel free to add some chopped jalapeno to the slaw or a dash of chipotle or cayenne powder to the chicken.

Caribbean Chicken with Pineapple Slaw

For the Chicken:

  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • Zest of one orange + juice from one orange
  • 1 tbsp of lime juice
  • 2 tbsp of coconut amigos (a gluten-free and low-sodium alternative to soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 chicken breasts

For the Pineapple Slaw:

  • ¼-1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1½ cups of fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp of lime juice
  • 1 big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put all chicken ingredients except chicken in a food processor. Blend together. Add marinade to a Ziploc bag with chicken breasts and refrigerate overnight.

2. Once, ready to cook, preheat oven to 375oF. Place chicken on baking sheet and pour remaining marinade over it. Cook chicken for about 30-35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine all pineapple slaw ingredients in medium bowl.

4. Serve pineapple slaw over chicken or use as a summer-packed salsa.

 

Lime It Up!

Nothing screams summer better than a flavorful lime-infused dish! Using lime juice or even lemon juice in recipes instantly adds a burst of zest to any meal. These citrus fruits pair well with proteins and veggies. For years, lemons and limes have been used in home remedies as natural cleansers in the body. In fact, many physicians recommend patients consume ½ of lemon/lime juice daily to help raise the level of citrate in the body to help fight against kidney stones. Here are two recipes (one borrowed and one my own) that I recently paired together for a flavorful Monday night dinner. Anytime my husband’s first words are “this is delicious” after taking his first bite, I know it’s a keeper in our household (and worthy of a blog post!).

Bacon Lime Sweet Potato Salad (adapted from paleomg.com)photo 1

  • ½ pound bacon
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Put foil down on baking pan and lay bacon flat across the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes turning once halfway through cooking until bacon is crispy. Set aside to cool and then roughly chop.
  2. In another pan, combine chopped sweet potatoes, garlic and coconut oil. Roast at 375oF for about 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are slightly tender.
  3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss in green onions, dill, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and mix well.
  4. Once sweet potatoes are done cooking, toss them together with the dressing and baconphoto 2

Smokey Lime Chicken

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • Juice of 1 lime (2-3 Tbsp lime juice)
  • ½ tbsp pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Meanwhile; pulse garlic, shallot, lime and spices in food processor.

2. Slowly add in olive oil while blending and mix until smooth.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay chicken breasts on top. Evenly cover each chicken breast with marinade. (The flavors really set in if you refrigerate the chicken with the marinade on it for a couple of hours)

4. Place in oven and cook for 35 minutes or until done.

 

You can find more delicious and healthy recipes just like these two in our health library!