Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Guest Post: Coconut and Almond Crusted Tilapia and Coconut MapleRoasted Broccoli

My coworker, Jackie, was kind enough to share one of her go-to healthy recipes on Officially Forked.

Coconut and Almond Crusted Tilapia and Coconut Maple Roasted Broccoli


By Jackie Liu

This is one of my favorite healthy weeknight recipes and the best part is that it’s so easy to customize. I try to make dinner at home about 4 times a week and I do my best to meal plan, but LIFE happens. Recipes like this help keep me on track. The best part is, I can purchase every single ingredient at my local Trader Joe’s. The other best part: this is a really legit alternative for satisfying those cravings for breaded/fried food and is the oven equivalent of a one-pot dinner:Everything cooks together at the same time.

Regarding the broccoli: I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a huge fan and never have been. But it’s amazing what happens when you toss the florets with some coconut oil and MAPLE SYRUP and roast them until they’re softened, slightly crispy and sweet. Broccoli is full of fiber and therefore very filling, which is what you need with a light white fish that doesn’t always fill you up. With this side, you won’t need rice or starch at all.



Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

For the fish:

  • Approx 1/2 cup of almond flour 
  • Approx 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • Approx 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs 
  • Approx 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Approx 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, gently whisked 
  • About 16 oz of tilapia filets or a similar white fish of your choice, deboned 



For the broccoli:

  • Approx 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil 
  • Approx 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup 
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, chopped into 1” florets 


Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Line a standard baking sheet with foil.
  3. Measure out the first three ingredients and pour them into a large plate or large shallow bowl. You may need a little more or less, depending on how much fish you have.
  4. Season with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Your seasoning levels will vary depending your individual tastes! I like a lot of garlic and I think at least a few dashes of cumin really brings out the coconut flavor, but if you hate that musky, exotic seasoning then by all means omit it. I try to limit my salt intake, so I only season the breading and not the fish filets. Set the breading aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 
  6. Dip each filet into the egg wash, and then into the breading. Note: because you are not “double dipping” into egg, milk and/or flour the way you would with normal breaded foods, the coconut/almond/panko mix isn’t going to stick quite the same. These are not going to be like chicken tenders from Applebee's. Press firmly, coating each filet and transfer them to the center of the baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, measuring cup or saucepan, melt the coconut oil down and combine with the maple syrup. In a separate larger bowl, toss the broccoli florets with the oil mix and coat evenly. 
  8. Arrange the florets around the tilapia filets and create a border around the edge of the pan. (Note: as a rule, you shouldn’t crowd your roasting pan, but I’ve never noticed a huge issue with this dish)
  9. Place on the middle rack of the oven and roast for approximately 20-25 mins, depending on your oven/general preferences.
  10. Serve with the condiments of your choice. 


Monday, March 21, 2016

Teaching Michael Monday (3/21) -- Oregano and Paprika

Yes, yes, I know, I missed a week. The life of a hobbyist blogger gets a tad crazy at times.

Last week, Michael decided to make a veggie burger and top it off with sauteed peppers. Should've been easy, right? Especially with the frozen pre-sliced peppers.

Michael had bought in bulk to save money, and as a result, is the proud owner of a gallon jug of vegetable oil -- which may or may not be the cause of his oil overuse issues.

Sure enough, Michael decided to forgo measuring said oil, and instead poured too much oil into the pan. Not to be undone, he then proceeded to measure a serving of frozen red, yellow and green peppers to the EXACT gram using his handy-dandy new electronic food scale.

Those things measure liquid too, Michael. Do me a favor, and don't take my word for it. Try it yourself. Measure the oil. For science, Michael -- FOR SCIENCE!

Next came seasoning for the peppers, which, to his credit, Michael recognized that he needed to do. Garlic powder, he figured, is usually a safe choice (correct). Dana (the non-girlfriend, we're told) had given Michael smoked paprika, too. So that gave him a dish with red, yellow and green veggies and red and yellow spices. Michael's internal Julia Child urged him to add a green spice. But what?

OREGANO. Clearly, this will be perfect.

Spoiler alert: Wasn't perfect.

Ok, so smoked paprika and oregano don't often play well in the sandbox together. However, the creativity was there; and to Michael's credit, he could've turned to mint and made a REAL mess. Ironically, two out of three would've been a solid start -- either the garlic/paprika or the garlic/oregano combo would've turned out some great additions to that veggie burger. Next time.

Also, bonus points for a non-pasta dish.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Teaching Michael Monday (3/7): Banana Bread and Snapchat

This weekend, my siblings and I all made the trek back to Flemington to spend some good ol' fashioned time with the family. While we were home, Mama Goldman decided to teach Michael her "foolproof" Banana Bread recipe; and yours truly decided to live-snapchat the whole event.

For those who'd like to follow me and any cooking episodes (both my successes and Michael's fails) on snapchat, feel free to connect -- I'm sgoldman328.


video

video

"Foolproof," she said....
video
"This is what exasperation looks like"

video
"The saga of adding sugar"

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"The sass factor"

Apparently, the banana bread recipe withstood the test of Michael. Those who know me well understand my "hard no" policy against bananas, so I didn't stick around for the final product.



Till next time, S.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Teaching Michael Mondays (2/29): Defrosting 101

Last Monday, Michael wanted to do a protein-heavy dinner as he was scheduled to donate blood the following day, and wanted a high iron count. He figured chicken was his best bet (red meat works better, kid.) Unfortunately for Michael, he'd purchased a pack of two chicken breasts and had forgotten to defrost them.

Being the problem solver that he is, Michael looked online and found advice to stick the frozen meat in a sealed plastic bag, and run cold water over the bag to thaw the meat. He also knew that his microwave had a defrost setting, but had never used it. Two options -- What to do?

Now those who follow this blog know that Michael often deviates from directions, but somehow still maintains that he follows them to the letter of the law.

Arguably, if Michael did follow directions, there might not be a need for this delightful segment, so maybe we don't tell him, hmm?


With utter determination and gusto, our daring young cook took the chicken out of the package, said "screw the plastic bag," and proceeded to put the frozen block of chicken breast in a clean Tupperware container that he then overflowed with water, so that it circulated.

After a short time, and a change of fresh water, the chicken softened to the point that Michael could roughly break the block of meat in half. He patted dry one piece, put it in a new ziploc baggie, and put that back in the freezer. And attempted to cook the other.

Now, Michael didn't do so bad on this one, but improperly defrosted and cooked meat puts those eating the meat at risk for food poisoning. (Also, that second piece of chicken has a 90% chance of being frostbitten).

Which brings me to today's lesson: Defrosting 101


The three "safest" ways to defrost frozen meats are as follows:

  1. Allow the meat to come to temperature "naturally" -- by placing in the refrigerator a day or two before intended cook time. Do NOT leave meat out on the counter -- this will allow harmful bacteria to bloom
  2. Use the microwave's "defrost" setting -- I usually don't use this technique, I don't trust microwaves to cook evenly and I find that microwaves often compromise the texture of the protein.
  3. The "water" method -- essentially what Michael attempted to do, but without the risk of salmonella. Put the meat/fish in an airtight plastic bag and either submerge in, or run cold water over the protein until it has thawed. Do NOT use hot water, you have a much greater chance of allowing bacteria to come in contact with chicken in conditions that allow it to bloom.
Other tips:
  • When living alone, it is often best to separate meat out into preportioned freezer packs using plastic bags. Alternatively, to save time -- some companies sell individual packs of chicken that you can toss into the fridge to thaw overnight. I am a big fan of the individual portions of frozen fish, which will thaw in the refrigerator during the day while I'm at work.
  • Those living with cats: Make sure there is a sealed cover over your container, as mischievous kitties may go for the raw meat or fish. Case in point: SNOOP DOGG THE FISH THIEF
  • If, like in Michael's case, you forgot to separate meat into portions and have defrosted multiple pieces -- cook them all, and keep leftovers in the fridge to add into pastas and over salads in the next few days. Just remember to consume the cooked chicken within 3-4 days. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Teaching Michael Mondays (2/22) -- The "Beany Pasta" Experiment

Michael texted me last night:

The conversation continued:


Oh gawd... it sounded terrible. Who puts green beans into pasta with marinara sauce?? Where does he come up with these combos?!

But being the supportive sister that I am, I simply told him to rinse the green beans thoroughly, and to send pictures and a detailed review.



Finished product... I still can't get behind those green beans

"I've cooked (and made myself eat) far worse things"..... Wonderful. Our mother will be gratified to know

My recommendations:

First of all, I would've avoided canned green beans like the plague. Canned products are useful pantry items -- I regularly use canned mushrooms, kidney beans, chick peas, cannelloni beans, water chestnuts, corn, and tomatoes -- however, I stay away from all other veggies. I find that the canned vegetables often have this overwhelming bland, metallic taste that can't be overcome, no matter how much seasoning I use. 

I recommend keeping frozen vegetables on hand instead. In fact, Michael, Trader Joe's has a great selection of frozen veggies -- including green beans, onions, pearl onions (highly recommend for stews), and asparagus. 

I also think that one needs to be more heavy handed with spices when working with canned and/or frozen products. In a sense, you need to bring these ingredients "back to life."

Another idea to "fix" this one -- turn the mishap into soup. Add a can of tomato soup, plus vegetable broth until you've got the right consistency. Up your spices, and you're good for round two.

Michael, I understand you wanted to use up the green beans -- maybe look for a simple minestrone soup recipe for the last few cans? Also -- I've got a great recipe with cannelloni beans and pasta you might love -- check it out here.

I think this pasta thing is getting old -- time to step up your game to proteins, kid. Don't worry, we'll tackle it next time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brian's Slightly Homicidal Juice Cleanse

Once upon a time, a nice man named Brian did a juice cleanse --- and for what we can only imagine was a complete and utter lapse in usually sound judgment --- agreed to document it for my use.

This was Brian's first cleanse - in fact, he'd previously been openly vocal about how ridiculous cleanses are, not seeing the point of having to drink juice when you could easily just eat the fruits and vegetables.

A relatively healthy individual, Brian is a dutiful gym goer and meal planner, although he's the first to admit his more committed moments come in waves:
"If I wanted to lose weight, I wouldn't go through the pain and agony that people go through when doing a juice cleanse, I would just cut out carbs and eat healthy." 
Tasty!

The Gameplan:


  • Six juices a day
  • One juice every 3 hours from 7:30am to 7:30pm (five juices) with one juice split with two time periods
  • Three days -- over #StormJonas weekend [ya know, because its super fun to drink JUICE when everyone else plans on weathering the blizzard with booze]

The Flavors (originally planned to be drunk in listed order):

  • Lucky Seven -- carrot, pineapple, pear, orange, ginger, beet, lemon
  • Gravity -- celery, cucumber, lemon, kale and E3Live
  • Doctor Earth -- apple, kale, cucumber, celery, pineapple, Swiss chard, lemon, dandelion, parsley and ginger 
  • Glo -- grapefruit, lemon and orange
  • Fountain of Youth -- coconut water, strawberry, banana, raspberry, blueberry, agave nectar, hemp protein and coconut oil
  • Love at First Sight -- carrot, pineapple, pear, orange, ginger, beet, lemon

DAY 1

Even though yours truly thinks a weekend [read: snowstorm] cleanse is particularly masochistic, Brian thought it would be easier than during the week when people are around, work is crazy and vendors are bringing in all kinds of food (and hey, some people like it that way). He also brought up the point that this was weekend where he didn't have plans and could focus on punishing himself in the comfort of his own home. 

Brian: 

On Thursday night I had put all of the juices in order based on how I thought they would taste.  I chose what I thought would be the disgusting ones first (start of day to get them over with), the good tasting last (end of day) and the one juice I thought would be best, I put that right in the middle to break up the day.  Friday morning comes, and I could not have been more inaccurate.  Chronologically, the first two juices were the best tasting, the second juice being the best of the six which was called Fountain of Youth.  After that juice it was all uphill.  Not only uphill, but at times uphill carrying 7 bags of bricks, blindfolded and missing one leg.  The two worst juices were called Doctor Earth and Gravity - Gravity being the ultimate worst of the six.

     Some Day 1 Flavor Reviews

Doctor "I Am Going To Make You My Little Bitch" Juice:  Way too many flavors going on here that all add up to a mouth full of a disgusting science experiment that only on paper would be amazing.  Everything is healthy, yes.  Everything is good for you, yes.  But all together?  Too much! Second of all, do they think I am in a lab, naked, hooked up to wires and treated like a circus animal?  Dandelions?  Really?  What's next, eating tulips, branches, bark from the trees and mulch from the side of the yard?

Gravity:  Simple ingredients, but when put together you want to stab yourself in the eyes 17 times while throwing up on yourself because covering yourself with blood and puke will actually be a more positive than the feeling you are experiencing at the moment.  Also key fact, for those of you who don't know what E3Live is: it is algae. Just call the %$^&ing thing algae if its going to taste like sh*t covered in grass mixed around in shit.

Darling readers, it seems the once 
mind-mannered Brian may be homicidal.
Let's continue to observe his journey, shall we?

At the end of day 1, I had mixed feelings. I was proud of myself for not only completing one day on a new health cleanse that I previously said I would never do and didn't understand.  I was also starving, and I mean STARVING.  My worst times were between late morning and early afternoon as well as after my last juice at night.  The company said that if you are starving while you are waiting for your next juice, just keep drinking water.  Yeah... didn't really help me at all.  I was dreading day 2 because I now knew what to expect, and the thought of the more disgusting juices made me want to pull out a gun and shoot myself in the foot because a slow death of bleeding out would have been less painful compared to those juices.


DAY 2

I switched the order of the juices. Knowing how they all tasted, I mixed them up with an on and off approach - good tasting juice first, bad juice, good, bad, etc.  When I say, "good" I really mean, "tolerable."  When I say. "bad," I really mean, "so %$^&ing disgusting that I hope this company goes under tomorrow." 

I am an all or nothing guy, extreme to one end or the other.  Hardly anything in between and hardly any room for moderation.  I was either going to stick with this cleanse 100% or I wasn't going to do it at all.  The last thing I would have done was start this cleanse and quit early - that was not an option.  

The company warns you that 50% of people feel extremely tired and drained while cleansing.  This is because this cleanse, although giving you every nutrient the body needs, is a liquid diet and due to the lack of solids, the body shuts down a bit.  (You are shocking the body.) The other 50% of people feel the exact opposite -- they are more energetic and feel like they just ran a mile. 

I personally had highs and lows from both sides of the spectrum.  I felt very tired late afternoon and late night during Day 1.  Silver lining: for the most part during Day 2, I felt great and was semi-energized. 



DAY 3

I felt the same, drank the juice in the same order and basically just kept drinking every 3 hours because I wanted to finish this cleanse and get it over with. 

I purposely haven't weighed myself since Friday morning. I'll weigh myself tomorrow morning and see. My luck I probably gained weight.

All of these new fads and new health diets may not be the greatest things in the world.  I mean, in 5 years from now something may come out where mixing sand or pebbles into your hot tea will cause you to not only lose 10 pounds in 12 hours but it is good for your digestive system.  Get a life!  What happened to normalization???!!

THE AFTERMATH AND REVIEW

Whew, what a weekend. The big questions -- how was it, and would you do it again? I still feel that if I wanted to lose weight, I'd cut out carbs and fats so, no, I do not plan on doing a juice cleanse again.  That being said, despite my previous statements about punishing and killing myself over bad tasting dandelions, I do feel good overall.  I would rather start a healthy diet like I have done in the past rather than a cleanse.  However, a cleanse like this is a damn good prelude to starting a diet. 

I used to question why a person can't just eat fruits and vegetables instead of buying these juices that have been blended down to liquid form, and I no longer think this way, at least not entirely. It is much easier to have a juice with the fruits and vegetables that one would normally want to eat.  In today's world of no wait time and being constant bustle, you can just grab the juice and go as an all-in-one meal. More importantly, I think the point, at least for me, is that yes I do eat fruits and vegetables but not consistently enough or in volumes like I would with a juice. The point of juicing is that you have everything you need in one bottle, and I think it is more consistent of a process than the one-offs of "I will have a banana today and grapes tomorrow."  With a juice, you have 5-6 different kinds of veggies and fruits in that one meal.

You mentioned your scale -- any weight loss? I dropped 3 pounds (I expected 4-6).  But I did the cleanse to lead into a healthy diet, so it is a smoother transition and allow me to lose weight in the process.  

Would you recommend this particular juice cleanse?  Sure, because everything is worth a try.  Life is all about trying new things but also sticking with what you know works.  I know that when I eat certain foods and incorporate exercise, I can be in great shape.  I know my body.  Why change that if that is what works for you?  At the same time, I now think that trying something new, one of these new innovative fad diets, doesn't really hurt.  As much as the "middle of the road" doesn't really work for an extremist like myself, I think the plan that you stick with that you know works can always be tweaked a little if it is for the better.


You go, Glenn Coco

Many thanks and some serious kudos to Brian for this post. Comment below if you've enjoyed his journey!