Tag Archives: yogurt

Chicken Shawarma

As part of my schooling, I participated in several cultural sensitivity programs. Food and diet are a huge part of every culture, so it was important to try to understand different cultural groups before trying to treat them. However, I think the thing I learned most from these programs was how culturally insensitive we all are, on purpose and completely on accident.

Ethnic-inspired recipes on this site are an area where I verge on being culturally insensitive. I hesitate to even use the traditional name for dishes, since I know that I have made changes to each dish. So please be aware, dishes on my site are often inspired by flavors from around the globe. But I don’t feel restricted from adding my own personal flair to dishes.

Chicken shawarmas are no exception. I first ate shawarma in London and fell in love. Juicy meat, chewy bread, an assortment of vegetables I didn’t recognize, and some sort of sauce that leaked out purple on my hands came together in a beautiful harmony. I’ve tried a few at a variety of restaurants since, but none have lived up to the one in my memory. This recipe is more of an homage than trying to recreate what I had in London. But it makes for a delicious, hearty dinner. Enjoy!

Chicken Shawarma (Serves 4)

Chicken Shawarma

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
4 whole grain pitas or flatbreads
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cucumber
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ recipe of roasted red pepper hummus
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
12 tomato slices
½ red onion, thinly sliced

1. Combine lemon juice, curry powder, oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and cloves in a large, resealable plastic bag. Add chicken. Toss to coat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, up to 24 in the fridge.

2. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Once chicken is done, lightly grill pitas until just warmed through.

3. Combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cucumber, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until combined.

4. To serve, spread about 1 tablespoon of hummus on flatbread. Top with chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, and yogurt sauce.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 453
Protein: 43 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 87 mg
Carbohydrates: 47 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 816 mg

Recipe Notes: You could marinate and grill the chicken breasts whole, and then slice when ready to serve. They will just take longer to cook that way. I was too lazy to make or buy pitas when I took this picture. This was some leftover naan bread I warmed up from the freezer. Not traditional in any way, but a decent substitute. You will not use all of the yogurt sauce. But it is delicious on salads, sandwiches, etc.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Citrus Berry Pancakes

Sometimes I surprise myself at how big of a mess I can make of a recipe. The first time I made these pancakes, I more than doubled the flour because I was trying to go from memory rather than look at my phone again. To make them work, I added unknown amounts of milk, yogurt, and eggs. The good news was they were delicious. The bad news was I had no idea how I made them.

Obviously I had to make them again. I managed to follow the recipe a little more closely this time. And they still turned out amazingly delicious. So good, I didn’t mind that I made them for myself for Mother’s Day.

Enjoy!

Citrus Berry Pancakes (Makes about 12 pancakes)

Citrus Berry Pancakes

2 large eggs
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup skim milk, divided (you may not need all of it)
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon lemon or orange zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup berries, rinsed and dried

1. Whisk together eggs, yogurt, ¼ cup milk, canola oil, zest, and vanilla in a medium/large bowl.

2. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir together until just combined. Add remaining milk as needed to get batter to desired thickness. Gently fold in berries.

3. Heat skillet to medium to medium-high heat. Spray pan with cooking spray. Pour about ¼ cup of batter per pancake onto skillet. Cook until bubbles begin to form, about 4 minutes. Flip. Cook until golden underneath, another 3-4 minutes. These are thick pancakes, so they take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes. You may need to lower the heat to prevent burning.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 120
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 32 mg
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 239 mg

Recipe Notes: I have to add all the milk. I have made this tried blueberries, blackberries, lemon zest, and orange zest in these pancakes. All are delicious. Tomorrow I’m contemplating strawberry banana. The world is your oyster. Experiment and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Overnight Oatmeal

In my last post, I discussed the importance of getting enough protein at breakfast and mentioned oatmeal as a protein-rich breakfast.  However, many people don’t want to cook in the morning or eat hot cereal in the summer.

Overnight oats are a great solution and are fast, simple, and endlessly versatile.  I will give you the basic recipe here plus three variations I have tried.  But you can change up the liquid, fruit, sweetener, and other mix-ins to make it yours.

If you are skeptical (like myself and my husband), don’t be afraid!  It kind of tastes like eating a parfait with less crunchy granola.  We actually don’t mind hot cereal in the summer (interpreted as we eat oatmeal about 5 days a week), but this provides a nice variation to our usual routine.

If you are starting to get ready for back-to-school, this could be a great breakfast to add to your repertoire. Prepping it the night before saves you time in the morning. Your kids can even eat it in the car (if you trust them). And a filling breakfast can help them focus at school.

Enjoy!

Overnight Oatmeal (Serves 1)

Basic Recipe:

½ cup dry rolled oats (NOT quick or instant oats)
½ cup liquid
½ tablespoon sweetener (more or less to taste)
Desired mix-ins

1. Mix oats, liquid, sweetener, and mix-ins in a sealable container. Place in fridge overnight. Stir again before eating, adding additional sweetener or mix-ins as desired.

Recipe notes: The liquid could be milk, juice, yogurt, soy milk, almond milk, etc. I probably wouldn’t sue water, but you could try it if you wanted. It doesn’t look like enough liquid, but it will be. I added more liquid because I was nervous, and I had soupy oatmeal in the morning. For a sweetener, I typically saw honey as I searched online. I’m sure traditional brown sugar for oatmeal would also work. If using a plain yogurt for your liquid, you might want to increase your sweetener amount. Most recipes I saw online said to put in seasonings at night, but add fruit/nuts/nut butters in the morning. I put everything in at night except for the chopped nuts, and it worked just fine.

Other mix-in ideas: cinnamon, chopped fresh fruit, berries (fresh or frozen), nut butter, chopped nuts, dried fruit

Here are my different concoctions. See the basic recipe for instructions.

Peach and Walnut Overnight Oatmeal (Serves 1)

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½ cup dry rolled oats
½ cup peach flavored, nonfat yogurt
½ tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Calories: 400
Protein: 14.6 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Carbohydrates: 62 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 74 mg

Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal (Serves 1)

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½ cup dry rolled oats
½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1-2 tablespoons milk (optional to thin it out a little)
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup blueberries

Calories: 326
Protein: 17.5 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 60 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 45 mg

Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal (Serves 1)

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½ cup dry rolled oats
½ cup skim milk
½ tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sliced strawberries

Calories: 257
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 6.5 g
Sodium: 55 mg

Source: adapted from many sources online

Low-iodine adjustment:  Use juice or water for your liquid.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

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All of us should be worried about our muscles, even if you are not lifting weights or training for some sort of athletic event. As we age, the amount of muscle in our body naturally declines, and this begins as early as our thirties and forties. Loss of muscle is associated with increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and death.

I have been learning quite a bit about protein intakes and maintaining muscle lately, especially protein in breakfast. More and more research indicates that eating the recommended amount of protein in a day may not be good enough. The timing of protein intake seems to be important. We should be eating equally balanced meals of protein throughout the day if we want to maintain our muscles.

For most of us, breakfast is a carb fest with a little protein thrown in on the side. Cereal, pancakes, toast, bagels, etc all are breakfast staples, but none provide much protein. Even the meat most people eat at breakfast – sausage or bacon – is mostly fat.

Here are some tips to boost your protein intake in the morning:

– Try oatmeal rather than cold cereal. One cup of cooked oatmeal made with milk provides 13 g of protein compared with 7 g from 1 cup of Cheerios with half a cup of milk.

– Eggs are a great source of protein. While many are concerned about the cholesterol, most people can enjoy an egg a day without negatively effecting heart health. Hard-boiled eggs are great for a breakfast on the go. You can easily prepare several in advance for the week ahead. One hard-boiled egg on a slice of whole-wheat toast provides 9 g of protein. Add one ounce of cheese and you are up to 16 g protein.

– Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, can provide a protein punch at breakfast. One container of Greek yogurt (5 ounces) with half a cup of granola can provide up to 26 g of protein, depending on the brand of yogurt.

– Try a non-traditional breakfast. A turkey sandwich is a quick, easy breakfast that can provide a nice protein boost for your day.

So eat a breakfast your muscles can appreciate, and you’ll feel better today and in the long run.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Q&A: Probiotics

Q: What is your opinion on probiotics? I’ve been having digestion problems for the last few years, and I was wondering if probiotics could help me.

A: Probiotics are live bacteria that are the same or very similar to “good” bacteria naturally found in our bodies. Probiotics can be found in pills, yogurts, and drinks. While there are some live bacteria in all yogurt (that is how yogurt is made), yogurt is usually only considered a “probiotic” for medicinal effects if bacteria has been added to it.

Probiotics are thought to help the body by “resetting” the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Based on currently available research, however, the benefits of probiotics are unclear. People have studied many different strands of bacteria, so it is hard to get a good picture of which ones are beneficial for which problems. There is some evidence that suggests probiotics are helpful in cases of acute diarrhea or diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. For other issues, like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, further research is still needed.

Probiotics don’t seem to have many side effects, although long-term safety has not been adequately studied. Still, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people with underlying health issues should definitely talk with a health care provider before using any probiotics.

My opinion: I think probiotics are worth a try for digestive problems, as long as your doctor is ok with it. Anecdotally, I have seen them work for people, including myself. Whether you try a pill, yogurt, or drink is a matter of personal preference. It does need to be taken regularly, so choose whichever you can deal with daily. Also, don’t expect to see changes overnight. Activia, for example, reports benefits after 2 weeks of regular consumption. If you are looking at a pill form, I have seen much better prices for these products at big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.

Thanks for the question!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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