Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Veggie-lious!

vegetables_MP910221091We all know vegetables are part of a healthy diet. In fact, many of my patients admit that they need to eat more vegetables. But for some reason, the majority of Americans are still not meeting their recommended daily consumption of vegetables.

  • In the United States, it is recommended that adults should consume a minimum of 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.
  • Active adults should be consuming more than this.

I always tell my patients that non-starchy vegetables are like Mother Nature’s weight control pill. They’re low in carbs, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a win-win-win situation. The fiber in vegetables often requires more chewing.This can help slow down your eating pace so your brain can register earlier when you are actually full. Fiber itself can also lead to higher satiety levels meaning you generally will stay full longer after consuming a fiber-rich meal. Vegetables also have a high water content. This is one of the main reasons why they are so low in calories.

  • One cup of cooked zucchini slices is a mere 30 calories!
  • One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is over 200 calories.

They also increase the flavor of a dish whether you’re adding some sweetness from red bell peppers or a savory touch from mushrooms and garlic. Filling, delicious and low in calories-what more could you ask for?!?!

Fresh vegetables fallingTomatoes, potatoes and sweet corn are the top three vegetables consumed in the US.1 Unfortunately, white potatoes and corn are known as the starchy vegetables; they contain a higher amount of carbohydrates and calories and both have a high glycemic index. This makes them less-healthy vegetable choices, especially if one is diabetic. Another interesting fact is the form of these vegetables that are most commonly consumed. Canned tomatoes make up the largest portion of tomato consumption while frozen potatoes and corn are the forms that Americans most commonly devour. My guess is this is related to a high consumption of tomato sauce, pizza and French fries.

A recent European study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that consuming 7 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day reduces one’s risk of all-cause death (cancer, heart disease) at any point in time by 42%.2 Additionally, researchers found that fresh vegetables had the strongest positive effect with reducing overall risk of death. Fresh fruit also showed a positive effect; however it was much less than the risk reduction rate of fresh vegetables. Even though we really didn’t need a study to tell us that fruits and vegetables are healthy, this does support the concept that consuming more vegetables and fruits can help you live a longer, healthier life!

Make vegetables the priority of the meal-not the after-thought! Find out what counts as a serving size.

Also try to limit consumption of peas, corn and potatoes and focus more on dark green or bright red/orange vegetable varieties.

 

 

1.http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/detail.aspx?chartId=40452

2. http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2014/03/03/jech-2013-203500


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Dietitian and Husband Approved!

img_3802If you’re like me and need a go-to recipe that’s quick, easy and doesn’t take many ingredients —then this one is for you! This recipe takes a healthy spin on a classic dish.It’s gluten-free and packed with tons of vegetable servings and lean protein.It’s perfect to make on Sunday afternoons and use as lunches for throughout the week  or enjoy it with a large group of people.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1-2 lbs of lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I used an organic garlic and herb tomato sauce)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried basil

1. Pre-heat oven to 425oF.Cut off one of the ends of the spaghetti squash. Lay the cut end down on cutting board and cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and lay flat sides down on baking dish. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender and squash threads easily with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink and internal temperature of 165oF is reached. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drain excess liquid and set aside.

3. Once spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to scoop out the threads into a large casserole serving dish. Add turkey and onions, mushrooms, sauce and basil and mix evenly. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together and then mix into spaghetti squash mixture. Stir until eggs are no longer visible.

4. Reduce oven to 350oF and cook mixture for 60-75 minutes or until top layer has slightly hardened over. Serve warm and enjoy!


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Start Making Healthy Changes Now

Woman Tying Measuring Tape Around Her WaistI am not an advocate for “quick fixes” like weight loss supplements, juice cleanses and the like. While quick fixes may result in fast weight loss, these results are only temporary and chances are, your depressed metabolism will cause you to rapidly gain the weight back…and then some. Seven-day or 21-day weight loss plans typically instruct you to drastically cut caloric intake and often severely limit the variation of food in your diet. Once these week-long or month-long fast diets are over with, most people resume their previous eating habits and unfortunately circle right back to square one with their weight loss efforts.

What’s unfortunate is these quick diet plans do not teach you how to eat for the long-run. You can’t drink a “body by Vi” shake forever; eventually you’re going to have to learn how to make real food for your meals. Research has shown that a multitude of different diets such as low-calorie/low-fat, high-fat/low-carb, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet, paleo dietetc., can all help individuals lose weight. Sometimes, losing weight is not the problem; it’s keeping the weight off. This fact stresses the importance of lifelong habits that one must take on, not quick diet fixes, in order to maintain their weight loss efforts. Here are some “quick” healthy changes that you can make today and turn into lifelong habits.

1. Start your day with protein. Breakfast is the most commonly missed meals reported by Americans of all ages. And when we think of breakfast, we typically think of a large bowl of sugary-sweetened cereal and a tall glass of orange juice. Breakfast meals high in these simple sugars can lead to a quick drop in energy come 9:00 a.m. Try to find ways to incorporate more protein with your breakfast meal. Add nuts into oatmeal, make a veggie omelet or pair fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt.

imgres2. Switch to water. Water is essential to one’s health and its benefits far surpass the simple purpose of hydration. Drinking more water is a habit I have been working on for quite some time now and it’s really sticking. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I previously was consuming about 4 diet sodas per day. To wean myself off of the diet soda, I would tell myself for every soda I consumed, I would have to drink a bottle of water. Now I keep a water bottle with me at all times so there are no excuses for not drinking enough water.

3. Stop serving multiple starches with meals. This is an easy fix that will help you naturally control your carbohydrate intake with your meals and make them more well-rounded. Our typical American western diet revolves around meat, potatoes, bread or some other starch like noodles and rice or corn and peas with most of our meals. Begin your meals by choosing a healthy lean protein, add one starch (preferably a healthy starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, if preferred.

4. Bring your own snacks to work. It seems almost every week, someone brings in a new “Pinterest-inspired” sweet treat to share with everyone at work. Sure, these decadent treats look great, but consuming these items regularly as snack choices can lead one to a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in energy. Plan ahead and make sure you always have healthy, nutrient-dense snacks packed with you for your workday. If you feel bad about turning down your co-worker’s cheesecake bites, you can politely decline by saying you had already packed an apple with almond butter for your snack today. Or a simple, “No thanks, but thanks for asking,” always does the trick too!

exercise_02F026015. Exercise. Daily physical activity is one of the most important keys for a healthy metabolism and weight management. It’s time to put the “excuse book” away and start moving today.


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Keep an Open Mind

 

photoOne thing I have been trying to work on is being more open to recipe ingredients I am less familiar with. When I first looked at this recipe, my immediate reaction was “fennel seeds?…next please.” It’s a good thing I am overcoming my fears, because this chicken dish was a burst of citrus, fresh air for these cold snowy winter days.

I used the leftover lemon for my haricot verts (basically fresh green beans) and this became one of my new favorite side dishes. Haricot verts are a low-cost, low-carb side dish that goes well with any entrée!

Chicken and Haricot Verts with a Lemony Twist 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 chicken breasts


For the Haricot Verts:

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans/haricot verts (I use a 1 lb bag of haricot verts from Sam’s Club)
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Mix first 5 ingredients for chicken recipe together in a small bowl. Pour ingredients over chicken and coat evenly.

2. Place chicken in oven and cook 30-35 minutes.

3. While chicken is cooking, place steamable bag of haricot verts into microwave and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add shallots, garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes until onions and shallots become tender, but do not brown.

5. Add steamed haricot verts to skillet and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir into mixture for a couple minutes and serve warm. Optional–you can garnish this dish with chopped almonds or tomatoes.


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Chicken For All Ages

photoChicken nuggets and chicken tenders are food favorites for people of all ages. The downfall for these menu items is that they are breaded and fried and rank low in nutritional value. Even if you bake these items, remember that they were originally fried and then flash frozen to preserve freshness. Keeping up with my goal of exploring a new chicken recipe each week, I found this healthy and gluten-free alternative. Instead of using exact measurements when seasoning the chicken, I simply coated each piece of meat evenly with the spices.

Coconut Dusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
3-4 chicken breasts

Salt

Pepper

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Smoked Paprika

Ground Cumin

2 eggs

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup almond flour

Honey Mustard Sauce

5 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Season each chicken breast evenly with spices. Meanwhile, combine coconut and almond flour in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk both eggs together.

2. Once seasoned, dip each chicken breast in egg mixture and then dip into coconut mixture. Make sure each side is coated evenly.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes. (The thicker your chicken breasts are, the longer time is needed to cook thoroughly.) These will not brown up like regular chicken tenders. If this is desired, then cook an additional couple minutes under the broiler setting.

4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the honey mustard sauce ingredients and set aside.

5. Serve with your favorite vegetable side dish. I chose mashed garlic cauliflower garnished with chives with a mixed green salad.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.paleonewbie.com/recipe-entree/paleo-chicken-strips-honey-mustard-sauce-recipe/


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The Perfect I’m Sorry Dish

We’ve all been there. That moment when you need to swallow your pride and admit that you were wrong. My most recent episode occurred a few days ago. I had brought home a cat assuring my husband that he was already

Portrait of a male tabby catproperly trained and would get along great with our Australian shepherd, Bamboo. To get the cat accustomed to his new environment, I shut him in one of the guest bedrooms with food, water and a litter box for the night. To my horror the next morning, the cat had shredded up a good chunk of the carpet next to the door in attempts to free himself from the locked bedroom. The cat ended up going back to his original owner and I was left with the silent treatment from my husband.

If there’s a way to get to back on my husband’s good side, its bacon. Since bacon is a higher fat meat, it is not consumed on a regular basis in our household. That means when it is served, it is a real treat. This bacon stuffed chicken recipe not only cheered him up, it was also loaded with healthy vegetables.

Bacon-Vegetable Stuffed Chickenphoto 1

  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5-8 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5-8 strips of bacon
  • 3 chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterfly

1. In a medium-large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and spinach and continue stirring until spinach is wilted. Add just a pinch of salt and pepper, for taste. Once cooked, remove pan from heat.

2. Meanwhile lay bacon strips on baking sheet and cook at 375oF for 10 minutes. Flip bacon and cook an additional 10-12 minutes until crisp.

3. Chop cooked bacon and mix evenly into vegetables.

photo 4

4. Spoon mixture evenly onto thin chicken breasts. Fold one half of the chicken breast over mixture and secure with a toothpick. Bake chicken at 375oF for 25-30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165 F is achieved. Serve with your favorite vegetable dish.


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Fall – The Season of Sweet Potatoes

Taking advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables is a cost-effective way to consume healthy and nutritious foods all year long. The sweet potato is one fall vegetable that happens to be one of my favorite starches. If you asked me a year ago if I liked sweet potatoes, I probably would’ve responded with a big “Yuck!” The first time I tried sweet potatoes was at Thanksgiving. They were smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar and in my opinion, were a mushy mess. I later tried sweet potato fries and was also very disappointed. Knowing that sweet potatoes were good for me, I was bound and determined to find a way to prepare them that was to my liking.

steamables_sweet_lgDid you know sweet potatoes are actually not related to the potato family? They are a member of the morning glory family. Personally, I enjoy sweet potatoes with my eggs in the morning or roasted with mixed vegetables as a side dish for lunch and dinner. My favorite way to spice them is with garlic, sea salt and pepper. However, most people prefer using cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. Sweet potatoes served with egg whites also make an excellent post-workout snack. If I’m in a rush, I grab a bag of steamable sweet potatoes at the supermarket and can have a quick side dish on hand in a matter of minutes.

A small sweet potato (about 5 inches long or about 1 cup) contains 112 calories, 2 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of fiber and is also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are most known for their content of Vitamin A and the antioxidant, beta-carotene which is excellent for skin and eye health. Beta-carotene is found within the deep orange pigment of the sweet potato. Other sources of (orange-pigmented) beta-carotene include carrots, pumpkin and squash and it is also found in green-pigmented vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale. Beta-carotene is best absorbed when it is consumed with a small amount of fat. This can be easily accomplished if you use a small amount of olive oil when sautéing or roasting your sweet potatoes. They also are a good source of Vitamin B6 which is essential for red blood cell formation and protein metabolism.

Using sweet potatoes in unconventional ways is a great method for consuming nutrients, especially for individuals with food allergies.  Here is a kid-friendly, gluten-free and dairy-free recipe for making:

Sweet Potato Pancakes

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2-1 large banana
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • Canola, olive or coconut oil (for cooking)
  1. Wash and pierce potatoes with a fork; cover with a paper towel and microwave for 5-6 minutes until soft.
  2. In a food processor, add the scooped out portion of the flesh of the sweet potatoes, eggs and ½ – whole banana (for sweetness) and puree until smooth.
  3. Add baking soda and spices, to taste.
  4. Heat oil on skillet over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter onto skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip carefully and cook an additional 1-2 minutes on other side.
  5. Serve with fruit, yogurt or your favorite breakfast protein for a balanced breakfast or serve by itself for a healthy, sweet treat.

A zesty way to roast potatoes in the oven:

Baked Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

  • 2 sweet potatoessweetpotatowedges
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Olive oil (1-2 tsp)
  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Slice potatoes into even wedges.
  3. Combine spices in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, add potato wedges and drizzle with olive oil. Add spices and lime juice; lightly toss together.
  4. Spread potatoes on baking sheet and bake 30-35 minutes, turning half-way through.
  5. Enjoy!

 

**Extremely high intakes of Vitamin A can lead to toxic levels in the body. Please consult with your physician if considering taking a Vitamin A supplement.

 


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It’s Zoodle Time!

zuc boatsLet’s serve up some Zoodles for dinner tonight!

“I don’t buy vegetables because they go bad too quickly!” It’s an all too familiar phrase I hear in my office. Often, people purchase vegetables with healthy intentions, consume them once and then forget them in the fridge to sadly go to waste. Before you throw in the towel with buying vegetables, there are a couple ways to better handle this situation.

1) Plan Ahead. Individuals who jot down a week’s worth of menus before grocery shopping are more likely to purchase the right amount of food for the week. If you simply walk through the produce section aimlessly, you may be more likely to take more food than what you actually need before your next shopping trip.

2) Think Outside the Box. One of my favorite ways to use vegetables is to come up with unconventional ways to prepare and serve them. Start simple. Spinach should not be reserved only for a salad. It can be added to any sandwich, folded into an omelet or blended in a smoothie. Each week, feature a new vegetable an try to come up with at least 3 ways to prepare and serve it.

Remember the nursery rhyme, “There was an old lady who lived in a shoe; she had so many children she didn’t know what to do.” That is how my cousin, Marianne, felt except instead of children; she was dealing with a surplus of zucchini from her garden. Her family quickly became tired of having sautéed or grilled zucchini with meals, so she surprised them one night by making zucchini lasagna. Replacing noodles with long zucchini slices creates a low-carb, gluten-free twist on this classic dish. For detailed recipe directions and nutrition facts, please visit: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/zucchini-lasagna.html.

Zucchini is an excellent source of potassium and is also a source of antioxidants that play an important role in eye health. It is also considered a “high-volume” food meaning a large serving of zucchini contains a low amount of calories.

For the Kids: You can thinly slice zucchini with a julienne peeler to create “zoodles” and substitute for spaghetti noodles. Try making Zucchini boats for a healthy, gluten-free treat:julienne peeler

  • Slice zucchini in half (long-ways) and top with mozzarella cheese, fresh veggies and basil.
  • Place “boats” on a baking sheet and cook and bake for 30 minutes at 350oF.
  • Remove boats from oven and top with parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower used to be a vegetable I could only consume if it was dipped in light Ranch dressing. Now I love eating cauliflower mashed, roasted, steamed, grilled and as a pizza crust! In fact, I hardly ever eat cauliflower raw. Anymore, which is how most people typically consume it. Unique for its white pigment, cauliflower often gets overlooked in the produce section. We have always been told that the best diets are rich in color. White colored items also get a bad reputation because they are commonly associated with white bread, white pasta, white rice, donuts etc. As a part of the cruciferous family, cauliflower has actually made a name for itself as a potential cancer-fighting food.

For the Kids: Creating “fauxtatos” is a simple trick for increasing the amount of non-starchy vegetables your kids will consume.

  • Chop one head of cauliflower into florets.
  • Fill sauce pan with ½ inch of water. Place florets in pan and cover.
  • Steam cauliflower for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Drain any excess liquid and run steamed florets through a food processor until it reaches a “mashed potato consistency”.
  • Season with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, butter or lemon juice and serve. This can be served by itself or even blended in with potatoes.

Vegetables are one of the least-consumed food groups, which is sad because vegetables are such an important source of nutrients in our diet. Being creative with the way you prepare vegetables can breathe new life into our old, traditional meals.


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Recipe of the Week

Don’t forget to join us today at the Illinois Products Farmer’s Market at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL from 4 -7p.m. The Illinois Products Farmer’s Market will be taking a two-week break following this week for the Illinois State Fair and will resume again on August 22. Come out and buy fresh local produce, enjoy a beverage, and grab some delicious BBQ.

This week’s healthy recipe is Mediterranean Vegetable Strata from Springfield Clinic’s health library.

Vegetable strata

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small Vidalia onion
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large whole-wheat roll
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces garlic and herb feta cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly oil or spray a cookie pan with olive oil. Slice vegetables and roast for about 20 minutes, turning once. Onions and peppers will take longer than mushrooms, which can be added when you turn the vegetables. While vegetables are roasting, cut roll into small cubes (less than an inch). Spread cubes evenly over the bottom of a two-quart baking dish. Layer vegetables on top of bread. Spread crumbled feta cheese evenly over vegetables. Beat eggs with sour cream and cream cheese. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves eight

Each serving contains about 178 calories, 11 g protein, 10 g fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, and 326 mg sodium.


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Grilling, Baking, Marinating — OH MY! Part 1

pork chop peachesWhile I just earned 50 brownie points from my sister for making a Wizard of Oz reference, for many people, food preparation, especially grilling, can be as scary as flying monkeys.(That’s another 50 points!)

Grilling is most commonly associated with the meats: chicken, burgers, steak and hotdogs. But did you know, this cooking method is also a wonderful opportunity to prepare fruit and vegetable sides too! And, summer is one of the most bountiful seasons for produce, making it easy to purchase fresh, colorful additions to your meals.

For vegetables, all you need is three simple ingredients: olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Zucchini, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus make excellent choices for first-time vegetable grillers. Simply brush a little olive oil on the vegetables, add your seasonings and in less than 10 minutes, your vegetables should be done! Adding fruits and vegetables to your grill plate has benefits of color, nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber) and they help make up a well-balanced meal.

Too often, I see grilled items being served with potato salad, beans and mac n cheese. While potatoes are a vegetable and beans are a good source of fiber, all three of these items are starches. A well-balanced meal should only contain no more than one starch item and most of the time, that role is filled by the bun (preferably whole wheat) used for meat.

When you grill fruit, you often intensify its flavor. Peaches, pineapple slices and apples are some of my favorite fruits to throw on the grill. They make fantastic additions to meals or add a new twist to healthy desserts. Season apple slices with cinnamon and nutmeg, grill and serve with 1 ½ cup scoop of frozen Greek yogurt for an instant hit with the family. Kabobs can be created using fruits or vegetables. Try marinating vegetable kabobs in Italian dressing or drizzle a little bit of chocolate sauce over cooked fruit kabobs.

Serving food on a stick is another secret weapon for getting kids of all ages to eat their fruits and vegetables.

This Lemon-Mint Pork Chop and Grilled Peach recipe is an Olympic Gold Medalist at our household.

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 small red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 1 inch wedges

1. Combine all ingredients except for peaches in a large Ziploc bag. Shake ingredients and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight, preferred).

2. Grill pork chops on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning only once.

3. Place onions and peaches on grill and cook for 4 minutes, turning frequently until crisp and tender.

4. Divide among 4 plates and serve with a couple leaves of mint and parsley for garnish.

 

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