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Simple Air-fried Chicken Nuggets

Simple Air-fried Chicken Nuggets

When you hear the word “nuggets”, you likely picture the pre-formed type that you buy frozen or get from a pickup window at a popular fast-food chain. Whether you have kids that want chicken nuggets, or you want them for yourself, I’ve got a healthier, cheaper alternative.

Despite my girls being older, they still like chicken nuggets. I think they have fond memories of eating them when we’d go out to dinner or a quick road trip meal. We’re not a big “fast food” family but you can’t always avoid it entirely. Don’t judge me. Dietitians aren’t perfect.

Why Air Fry?

I’ll admit- I was a late adopter to the air fryer. It’s a heavy, bulky appliance that takes up a lot of real estate on your kitchen counter. We store ours in the basement but I’m developing nice biceps from bringing it back and forth to the kitchen.

I picked one up at a discount home store in Cincinnati. It’s a decent brand that may or may not have been refurbished. Either way- I use the thing for all sorts of food!

What I like about the air fryer is the minimal ingredients and ‘thyme’ that I need to make delicious food. I love roasted veggies, for example. But roasting broccoli or carrots takes a good 30 minutes in the oven. They only take about 8 minutes in an air fryer.

In addition, because food is cooked via convection heat, you use less (or no) oil or other fat to cook things. Recipes are much lower in fat and calories this way. Some of my favorites include air fried Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and French fries.

I decided to try my hand at chicken nuggets after a friend used frozen ones in his air fryer. The frozen type are convenient but are also higher in fat and sodium. Not to mention- expensive. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients and know exactly what’s in the mix. Below is my easy recipe:

Ingredients

1-pound skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tsp. paprika (optional)

Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the air fryer for 3 minutes on 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs with paprika.
  3. While the air fryer heats, roll the chicken pieces in the breadcrumb mixture and set aside.
  4. Once the fryer is heated, spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray and place the nuggets in the fryer. Try not to have them overlap.
  5. Close the fryer drawer and set the timer for 8 minutes. Check the nuggets after 8 minutes and continue to cook if not done for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (optional).

Makes 4 servings (4-5 nuggets each): 222 calories, 4.23 grams fat, 28.6 grams protein, 15.4 grams carbs, 1.1 grams fiber, 83 mg cholesterol, 446 mg sodium.

Share is caring! If you have an air fryer recipe you’d like to share, send it to me with a clear image. I’ll analyze it and share it on my blog for others to enjoy.

 

Classic Italian Pasta Fagioli

Classic Italian Pasta Fagioli

I could never pronounce it but always loved pasta fagioli (pronounced fah jol), Fagioli in Italian means beans, in case you didn’t know. I just started learning Italian on Duo Lingo and am really enjoying my grandparents’ native language. I wish I could say this was their recipe but I never met them.

But, on to the soup! My mother used to make this on cold winter days in Youngstown, Ohio. What I love about this dish is that I always have the ingredients on hand. Wintertime means comfort food- AKA soup. I’m usually stocked up on celery, onions, carrots and of course, canned beans this time of year. You can use cannellini, Great Northern or Navy beans for the soup.

In addition to the veggies, pasta fagioli also has tomato sauce and a generous helping of paprika, which gives it that savory taste and beautiful color. If you’ve got any kale or spinach in your fridge, feel free to chop it up and add it to the soup! This adds more vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium to the recipe.

From a nutritional standpoint, you can’t beat this recipe! It boasts 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of dietary fiber per serving with under 250 calories. The soup is also a good source of potassium. It’s filling but doesn’t leave you feeling “heavy” as the fat in the recipe is from olive oil and a smattering of cheese if you add some. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern or Navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole wheat ditalini or elbow pasta

Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the paprika and oregano and toss to coat the vegetables.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and beans and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta to the pot and cook on low-medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked.
  5. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Makes 6 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 237 calories, 6 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 10 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 832 mg sodium

 

Cream Cheese Stuffed “Cannoli” Dates

Cream Cheese Stuffed “Cannoli” Dates

Do you have “olfactory flashbacks”? It’s a term I use to describe food or aromas that bring me back to a previous time in my life. I have very fond memories of my dad giving us dates rolled in coconut and almonds at Christmas each year. I loved the chewy, sweet texture then and still enjoy dates today.

Olfactory flashbacks inspire me to make new recipes of old favorites. As an ambassador for Natural Delights, I received free samples to make this date recipe. Medjool dates are naturally sweet and a good source of fiber and potassium. They’re versatile and require no refrigeration. Just open the box and eat them!

Cannoli are a popular Italian dessert, though my family never made them. We’d buy them occasionally at little bakeries in Youngstown and I will still seek them out at Ferrari’s Little Italy and other Cincinnati bakeshops. I had the pleasure of making this recipe on WCPO Cincy Lifestyles this morning.

This recipe will take much less ‘thyme’ than traditional cannoli AND it has much lower fat, sugar and calories. There are less than 100 calories per date. I used whipped cream cheese for the filling instead of ricotta or mascarpone which is typically used. They can be made ahead to serve at your favorite party or bring them to your next holiday event.

Ingredients

1 box pitted Medjool dates

1 (8 oz) container whipped cream cheese

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles.

Directions:

  1. Split the dates down the middle but do not cut in half.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, cinnamon and powdered sugar.
  3. Add 1 tsp. cream cheese mixture to eat date.
  4. Add 4-5 mini chocolate chips on top of the cream cheese.
  5. Decorate with colored sprinkles as desired.

Makes 20 stuffed dates. Nutrition information per serving: 98 calories, 2.2 grams fat, 1.3 grams saturated fat, 6.5 mg cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrate, 1.7 grams fiber, 1.4 grams protein, 57 grams sodium

#samples #ambassador #notpaid

 

Kale Quinoa Salad with Citrus Ginger Dressing

Kale Quinoa Salad with Citrus Ginger Dressing

This seasonal salad will become a favorite among your guests. I’ll be honest. I was not a huge fan of kale initially. We didn’t eat it when I was growing up and I honestly saw it as a garnish on the salad bar. Who is with me here?

Be Kaleful!

Kale is definitely worth your thyme! It comes from the mighty cruciferous (AKA cabbage) vegetable family and is chock full of phytochemicals that help reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, kale is great for bone health as it’s a source of vitamin K as well as calcium. Finally, kale is beneficial for your blood pressure as it’s a good source of potassium to boot.

To improve the texture of kale, place it in a Ziplock bag after cleaning and chopping. Massage the kale for 3 to 5 minutes until it starts to turn a bit shiny.  This helps wilt and sweeten the rough green.  Honey crisp apples pair nicely with any winter greens but Granny Smith or other crisp apples will do.

Why Quinoa?

Quinoa is technically a “seed” but health experts put it in the grain group. It’s considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body can’t produce. I like it because it’s versatile, cooks quickly and is a good source of fiber and protein. It’s also gluten-free for those that follow a gluten-free diet. I often find it at Aldi and it’s less expensive than other grocers.

I like to use walnuts in this salad, but pecans, slivered almonds or other nuts could be used, too.  For cooking demos, I typically use sunflower or pumpkin seeds given the risk of nut allergy. Feta cheese or blue cheese are optional but add a savory taste to the salad. Leave them out to make the salad vegan.

Salad

6 cups fresh kale, chopped, rinsed and massaged

1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed

1 Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apple

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup feta cheese

Dressing

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (juice of 1/2 an orange)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. ginger paste or freshly grated ginger

Directions

  1. Place quinoa and 1 cup of water in a medium pan. Boil the quinoa for 1 minute stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook quinoa for another 12 to 13 minutes until all the water is soaked up. Allow the quinoa to cool.
  2. Wash and rip the kale. Place in a zip lock bag and massage kale until it’s shiny.  Place kale in a large salad bowl.
  3. Slice the apples into chunks and add to the kale.
  4. Fluff up the cooked quinoa with a fork once it’s cooled.
  5. Add chopped walnuts, cooked quinoa and feta cheese to the kale and apples.
  6. Whisk together orange juice, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, and ginger paste.
  7. Dress salad prior to serving.

Makes 6 servings.  Nutrition facts per serving:  212 calories, 16 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 13.7 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 4.3 grams protein, 127 mg sodium.

Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Although Halloween is behind us and pumpkin spice latte might be seen as a bit played right now, pumpkin itself is still quite popular, especially with Thanksgiving on the horizon.

If you think pumpkin puree is just for pie, think again! Personally, I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie (it’s likely a texture thing), but I do enjoy using pumpkin in other dishes. Have you ever used it in chili or stew?

Why Pumpkin?

Pumpkin has got a lot of nutrition prowess. It’s a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene in addition to being a source of potassium vitamin C and fiber. Canned pumpkin is versatile, accessible, and affordable for most. I’ve never cooked a pumpkin to make pumpkin puree and honestly, don’t see this in my future. If that’s your jam, more power to you! Canned pumpkin is packed in BPA-free cans, so no need to worry about that.

Lentils offer up plenty of fiber, protein, and iron- the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. When lentils are paired with a food high in vitamin C (such as peppers, tomatoes, or hey- pumpkin), your body absorbs more iron. Bonus! They also cook up much faster than other dried beans or legumes.

I made this simple pumpkin chili in my instant pot the other night, but it could also be prepared on the stove. With a handful of ingredients, I had dinner done in roughly 20 minutes! I used chipotle chili powder which gave the chili a smoky taste. Traditional chili powder or extra cumin could be used if chipotle’s not your thing.

If you want to keep the recipe vegan, use vegetable broth. Low-sodium broth would reduce the sodium content of the soup. This is a perfect dish for a tailgate party, book club, or simple dinner with friends or family.  If it’s too spicy, add a dash of plain Greek or plant-based yogurt to cool it off. I hope you like it!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. canola or corn oil

½ white or yellow onion, diced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. chipotle pepper

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. paprika

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup red lentils

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Set the Instant pot to sautee and add the oil. Allow to heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sautee for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine.
  5. Close the lid of the Instant pot and reset the pot to “soup or stew”.
  6. All the lentils to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro (optional)

On a stovetop:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot.
  2. Sautee the onions, peppers and garlic until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin, and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine
  5. Allow the stew to simmer on low for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 190 calories, 2.1 gm fat, 9.5 gm protein, 29 gm carb, 5.6 gm fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 550 gm sodium

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Mid to late September makes me a little wistful as summer ends, but ‘eggcited’ that fall is right around the corner. I love the end of the year produce, including tomatoes, melon and squash, but look forward to apples, pears and more leafy greens. I’m also OK with using pantry staples to create simple meals.

Oatmeal is one of my favorite foods. I like overnight oats, but really prefer the taste, texture and warmth of hot oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent grain to include in your diet. In addition to being a good source of soluble fiber (which helps lower bad cholesterol) and manage blood sugar), rolled oats have been found to help reduce appetite. They’re also a source of B vitamins, and inexpensive and versatile to use.

If you’re thinking that “old fashioned oats” take too long to cook, think again. You can whip up rolled oats in the microwave in 2 minutes. If you can spare one minute on instant oats, you can certainly spend 2 minutes on rolled oats. While they may have roughly the same fiber and calorie content, rolled oats are less processed, have zero sodium and no added sugar. Those little packs of instant oats pack 3 teaspoons of sugar and up to 200 mg of sodium per pack. Hard pass!

I made the recipe below with 3 ingredients including a little something spicy. My gal pal Barbie Hahn created this overnight sensation she dubs, “That dam jam”. Like me, Barbie is a foodie and enjoys simple, delicious ingredients. Her jam is no exception. She will tell you, “It’s nothing special”, but it really is! Barbie is the quintessential host. She creates beautiful trays of goodies and charcuterie and serves her delicious pineapple jam with cream cheese as a sweet and savory spread.

Her “sweet with a little heat” jam became so popular as a holiday and housewarming gift, her friends and family urged her to launch it commercially. It’s a really versatile jam that can be used in appetizers, main dishes with meat or hey- why not breakfast?

I combined rolled oats, unsweetened coconut and “That Dam Jam” for breakfast this morning. So. Dam. Easy! I hope you enjoy it as the weather changes from summer to fall in the next few days. Feel free to adjust the recipe to make more for a crowd.

You can find That Dam Jam at several markets around Cincinnati and Kentucky: SHOP LOCAL | That Dam Jam

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

1 teaspoon unsweetened coconut flakes

1 Tablespoon That Dam Jam (pineapple habanero)

Directions

  1. Place the rolled oats, water and unsweetened coconut in a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid and cook the oats for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the oats from the microwave and stir in That Dam Jam.
  4. Allow to cool for a minute, then enjoy with gusto!

Makes 1 serving. Nutrition facts per serving: 211 calories, 37 grams carbs, 4.8 grams fiber, 4.1 grams fat, 5.6 grams protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.4 mg sodium 

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