Summertime Orzo Salad

This is the perfect salad to bring to all your summer picnics. I first published it last summer here: Orzo Salad, but had to let it shine again.
Summertime Orzo Salad

1 pound dry orzo pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach, torn, best to buy organic
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
8 fresh basil leaves, torn, gentle with these as they bruise easily
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, no pine nuts? Try walnuts!
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain pasta and spread on a large baking sheet to cool. Transfer cooled orzo to a large serving bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Serve chilled.
Until next time…
look good, feel good, do good

Grilled Basil Chicken

With the holiday weekend upon us, I am sure many of you will be firing up the grill…give this delish and simple marinade a try while oooing and ahhhing over fireworks!
Happy 4th of July!
Grilled Basil Chicken

1 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T fresh chopped basil, reserve a leaf or two for garnish
1 T onion slices
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns or just fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
chicken breast
Marinade in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Grill and enjoy!

Your Grill Guide to Healthy Summer Eating
from and Shape magazine
Turn Down the Heat
Grilled meat is a source of the carcinogen (cancer-causing compound) heterocyclic amine (HCA), which forms when proteins in meats (including pork, poultry and fish) are exposed to high heat.
When fats and juices drip onto the hot fire, flare-ups can deposit the chemical onto meat surfaces. The good news: You can easily avoid the risk by reducing the heat. Grill meat on glowing embers instead of high flames or lower gas heat from high to medium. Don’t overcook your dish. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature and remove beef, pork or lamb when it reaches 160°F; chicken breasts and hotdogs at 165°-170°F.
Cooked meats should be kept hot (at least 140°F) until served. You can set it to the side of the grill, or in a warm oven (set to 200°F). When you’re ready to serve, use a new platter and utensils; the juices from raw meat can contain the bacteria salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning.
Marinate it First
A study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed that marinating chicken before grilling it for just 40 minutes with brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and salt cut HCA production by 92 percent.
Plus, marinades make lean cuts of meat much tastier and they’re easy to whip up. All you need is an acid-based liquid—wine, vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes—a little bit of healthy fat (like olive oil) and some seasonings.
Toss in freshly chopped oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary in place of salt to keep the sodium count low. Chopped onion and garlic will also add flavor.
To prevent contamination, marinate meat in a container in the fridge instead of on the countertop.
Sear it
You may think searing, as in “seared tuna,” means raw in the middle. Not true: Searing simply means cooking the outside of meat, fish and poultry over very hot heat, and then finishing the cooking by another method. Searing on the grill creates a crisp, flavorful exterior and moist, wonderful interior, locking in flavor without adding fat.
How to:
1. Place chicken on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken 45 degrees, without flipping, and cook for another 2 minutes (this produces crosshatch grill marks).
2. Flip and repeat on the other side.
3. If the food needs further cooking, move it to a cooler spot on the grill and close the lid. (Very thin pieces of meat, fish and poultry will cook through in searing steps 1 and 2 and may not need further cooking.)
Butterflying and Skewering
Butterflying is a technique that opens up thick pieces of meat, shellfish and poultry so the meat cooks more quickly and evenly, and the shrimp is kept from curling up. Skewering shrimp (or any meat or vegetable) is a timesaver because you won’t have to flip each piece individually.
How to:
1. To butterfly, lay a peeled shrimp on its side and, using a sharp knife, make a slice from about 1/4 inch from the tail through the inside curl, almost through to the other side but without cutting the shrimp in half.
2. With your fingers, open the shrimp and flatten it with the palm of your hand so it lies almost flat.
3. Skewer butterflied shrimp sideways, rather than lengthwise, so the skewer runs from one side of the butterfly to the other. When using wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before using to prevent scorching.
4. Place shrimp on a hot grill for two to three minutes and turn the skewer over. Cook two to three more minutes until shrimp is bright pink and cooked through.
Serve with a Side of Salsa
Don’t just limit yourself to the jarred tomato stuff: salsa can be made from a variety of fruits and vegetables and is a refreshing accompaniment to grilled meats or fish. It also gives you a hefty dose of disease-fighting antioxidants.
One combo that goes equally well with chicken as it does with fish such as salmon or tuna: mangoes, peaches and chilies. Simply chop the ingredients and let them sit refrigerated while you grill. Then serve atop your dish.
Rub in Flavor – check out Penzy’s Spices for awesome spices and herbs!
Use dry rubs, mixtures of herbs and spices that usually contain just a hint of sugar, to instantly season beef, pork, poultry or fish without tacking on unwanted fat. Sprinkle the desired combination onto the meat, then use your fingers to gently work the seasonings into the meat surface. Or place the meat in a plastic bag, throw in the rub ingredients and shake to cover. Store-bought rubs may be high in sodium, so mix your own.
Think Veggie
Grilling vegetables concentrates their natural flavors, giving them a richer taste than boiling or steaming would. And because vegetables (and fruit) contain no protein, they don’t form HCAs when grilled.
Beets are one of Schloss’s unexpected grill favorites. “Their natural sugar caramelizes during cooking, so they become deliciously sweet.” He suggests using canned beets (simmered) because fresh ones take longer to cook.
Vegetables can be grilled two ways: in foil packets or directly over the flame.
Use the foil method for small, irregularly shaped veggies. Cut-up onions, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, green beans, snap peas and cherry tomatoes are all good candidates. Place vegetables on a large piece of foil and season with salt and black pepper. Lift the edges and add 1 tablespoon of water. Bring up the sides so they meet and fold them over twice, leaving a little room for steam expansion. Then fold in the ends twice to seal the packet like an envelope. Grill the packet on the hottest part of the grill for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking to shake up the veggies for even cooking.
Cook larger vegetables directly on the grill. “Larger” veggies include tomato halves, 1/2-inch-thick slices of zucchini, or yellow squash or eggplant slices. Brush vegetables with olive oil (or spray with olive-oil spray), salt and pepper them, then place them on the hottest part of the grill. Grill 4-5 minutes per side, until fork-tender.
You can cook corn directly on the grill without wrapping in foil. To prepare corn, soak ears (with the husks on) in a large bowl or bucket of water for 1 hour. Drain, shake ears to remove excess water and place them directly on the hottest part of the grill. Grill 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool slightly before removing husks.
Fire up the Fruit
Grilling isn’t just for meat and vegetables — fruit works nicely too. A hot grill caramelizes fruit, bringing out its natural sweetness while softening the flesh. Since the flesh is tender, fruit needs only a few minutes per side. In fact, grilled fruit isn’t really cooked, just heated. Firm fruits like apples, pears and pineapple are traditionally grilled, but softer fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, mangos and papaya also work well. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite fruits in the recipe that follows.
How to:
1. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and bananas can be grilled with their skins on. Leaving the skin (or peel) intact helps fruit maintain its structural integrity as it cooks.
2. To cook on direct heat: Halve and core apples and pears; halve and pit peaches, nectarines, mangos and plums; halve and seed papayas lengthwise; halve bananas lengthwise; and cut oranges, tangerines and grapefruit into 1-inch-thick slices.
3. Brush the cut side of all fruits with olive or vegetable oil (the fresh flavor of olive oil pairs beautifully with fruit) or spray with nonstick cooking spray and place directly on hot grill.
4. Grill fruit for 2-3 minutes per side, until tender and golden brown.
Go Fish
Seafood kebobs with beets and potatoes make for one easy summer meal. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 10 minutes (so they don’t burn on the grill). Meanwhile, drain and blot canned beets and canned new potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss beets, potatoes and scallops or shrimp with extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Thread onto skewers alternating scallops or shrimp, beets and potatoes until the skewers are full. Grill for 10 minutes, turning twice. Top with chopped, toasted walnuts, parsley, and feta cheese.
Clams and mussels are excellent on the grill, too. To clean clams and mussels, first scrub them with a stiff brush under cold running water, discarding any shellfish with broken shells. Using sharp scissors, remove the “beard” from mussels (the hairy stuff protruding from one end). Put clams and mussels in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon each cornmeal and salt and let stand 1 hour (cornmeal pulls excess sand from inside shells). Drain the shellfish, rinse and drain again. Place the shellfish directly on the hottest part of the grill and cook until shells open, approximately 5-7 minutes (time varies depending on shellfish size).
Great Grilling Tips
1. Before preheating, brush grates with olive oil or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Watch cooking time when using an indoor grill. The Foreman grill works like a waffle iron (food gets cooked from both sides at once), so cut cook times in half.
3. Let food cook for several minutes before flipping. Flip too soon or too often and your food will stick.
4. Spatulas are not for squishing. Pressing food while it cooks forces precious juices out and into the grill.
5. Let meat, fish and poultry rest 5-10 minutes after cooking, before slicing. This allows juices to resettle in the meat.
6. A clean grill = great taste. Residue on the grill grates — such as burnt pieces of food and blackened sauces — causes flare-ups, and flare-ups char food. After cooking, brush grates with a metal grill brush to remove debris.
7. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. Toss any food that’s been left out for more than two hours (or one hour if it’s left in the car or if the temperature outside is hotter than 90°F).

Until next time…
look good, do good, feel good

new site coming soon…stay tuned!!!!! Have a fun and safe holiday!

Summertime Orzo Salad

It’s a rice, it’s a grain….no it’s ORZO 🙂 I know….so korny, but seriously what is orzo?
Orzo is actually a rice shaped pasta, that is very fun to eat and makes beautiful salads.
This salad knocked my socks off after fellow crossfitter, Tricia, made it at the last Crossfit Des Moines party.

Summertime Orzo Salad
thanks Tricia!
1 pound dry orzo pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach, torn
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain pasta and spread on a large baking sheet to cool. Transfer cooled orzo to a large serving bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Serve chilled.


Until next time…
look good, feel good, do good

Buy Fresh, Buy Local- on KCCI news tonight at 5

I am blessed with another opportunity to spread the word on living a healthy lifestyle!
Today on KCCI Channel 8 News I will be discussing

“Buying Fresh, Buying Local”

This is a topic I am very passionate about so I am excited to highlight it today on my blog. Agenda:
  • Share a couple tasteful and seasonal recipes for using your purchased local produce.
  • Highlight some benefits to buying fresh and local.
  • Share how easy it is to find farm fresh, local foods.
  • Resources to learn more.

Heirloom Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella Salad
from Simply Recipes


Heirloom tomatoes, sliced

fresh basil, leaves carefully chopped as not to bruise

fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

extra virgin olive oil

balsalmic wine vinegar

sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Assemble the salad with slices of tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella slices. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil over the salad. Add a dash of vinegar and a very light sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

Other popular recipes I have posted using local produce:

Portobello Mushroom & Chicken Ragu

Wilson’s Apple Orchard

Rhubarb Crisp

Where does your food come from?

Apple Squash Soup

Benefits to buying fresh, buying local:
1. Helps strengthen the local economy – buying local foods helps support growers in Iowa, who are more likely to reinvest their revenue back into their own community. This builds and strengthens Iowa’s communities.

2. Protecting the environment – local foods travel on average 45-65 miles while most food items found in the supermarket travel around 1500 miles. The added travel supermarket produce goes through increases pollution from the extra transportation, distribution, and packaging.

3. Protecting your family’s health – You can get to know your local farmers and learn about their farming practices. This enable you to choose farmers who avoid or limit the use of pesticides, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seeds.

Also, you get max health benefits from fresh produce. When a tomatoes is allowed to ripen on the vine it gains valuable nutrients. Local produce is typically harvested within a day of it being purchased, since it has such a short distance to travel to make it to your plate. This ‘on the vine’ ripening allows the produce to retain higher nutritional value than those harvested, handled, and transported thousands of miles. Basically, an increase in travel means a decrease in nutrients.

4. It just tastes better! No one from Iowa can deny the sweet goodness of peaches and cream corn purchased from a farm stand on the side of the road. I challenge all my readers to purchase some local produce this week and share their fine food moment with the rest of us.

So easy to buy local:

According to an economic analysis of Iowa’s farmers’ markets, in 2004 Iowa had around 160 farmers’ markets, the highest per capita in the nation. Full report:

Another wards….there is no excuse to NOT find one near you. To find a market.

I visited the Valley Junction Farmers Market last week:

scrumptious blueberries and scrumptious things made with blueberries

Timber Ridge Flax-fed Cattle

Another way to buy local is through a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture group. I visited Turtle Farms located in Granger, IA last week to learn more.
“A CSA Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between growers and consumers that seeks to recognize the importance of healthy food and the manner in which it is grown. Consumers (or CSA members) share costs of supporting the farm, including the risks. In turn, members receive locally grown, fresh, wholesome food grown in a sustainable and responsible manner by a farmer that they know.” -from Turtle Farm’s website

Turtle Farms was one of the first CSA’s in Iowa. Angela (owner) and Ben (farm manager) are proud to grow all organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

you receive your “share” as a box of produce each week throughout the growing season

Angela and Ben gave J and I a tour

they grow everything from okra and bell peppers, to sweet potatoes and strawberries

getting ready to plant more veggies!

Other resources:
Find CSA’s at

Take your family for a fun filled day at Picket Fence Creamery

Find local grassfed meat at

Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Until next time…

look good, feel good, do good

Portobello Mushroom & Chicken Ragu

Look at these beautiful heirloom tomatoes! Full of color, character, flavor, and nutrients.

Many people bite into these as they would an apple because they are so juicy and tasty.
In you haven’t treated your taste buds to these special delights…what are you waiting for!?!
Head on over to your farmer’s market and pick out a variety so you can try them all.

This is a great recipe to use your seasonal veggies that you pick up at the market.
Portobello Mushroom & Chicken Ragu
loosely adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
2 T olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves peeled garlic, pressed or minced
about 4-6 portobello mushrooms
2-3 summer squash and zucchinis, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2-3 chicken breast, grilled with Italian seasonings, chopped into bite size pieces
3-4 cups cooked whole grain such as wheatberry or brown rice

1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes or 2 c chopped plum tomatoes (canned tomatoes can be sweet onion and garlic or Italian seasoned)
1-2 T fresh basil chopped OR 1/2-1 T dried basil
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large casserole and saute the onions until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes, stirring ofter.
Add garlic, saute for 1 minute, then stir in mushroom, summer squash, zucchini, thyme, and half of the basil. Continue to cook over high heat until the mushrooms have softened and given off their juices, 2-3 minutes. Add chopped chicken and tomatoes and cook until the mixture in thick, about 10 minutes.
Serve over cooked wheatberry, bulgur wheat, pilaf, or brown rice. Add remaining basil over top of dish.

Abby came over and helped cook up the masterpiece. There was only one slight downfall to this recipe….

We had a big storm and the power went out when trying to prepare it! Abby did her best to slice and dice under candle light.

Using the flash on the camera you can spot the flashlight dangling over the cutting board.
Enjoying lunch in the dark.
On Wednesday I will be talking about local foods on KCCI Channel 8 news at 5 . Be sure to tune in!
Until next time…
look good, feel good, do good