Slow-cooker turkey breast over kale

As a spin-off to my slow-cooker turkey breast soup blog, I want to share a recent recipe I’ve been having fun with.

Like the soup recipe, I still coat the defrosted turkey breast in pesto and cook it in the slow-cooker. What’s different on this one is that I throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand (I’ve done onion and different squash varietals, red peppers, carrots, etc.), add in just enough broth to help their flavors mingle and keep them from sticking, then, I serve them on top of fresh kale. The heat from the meat and veggies wilts the kale just enough.

I add a little Israeli couscous for my son since he needs the additional carbs, but we don’t.

Using spinach or kale as a rice or pasta substitute is a great, easy way to completely revamp the nutritional profile of your meal. Between the fiber and the overall nutritional makeup of dark, leafy greens, you’ll stay full longer, and avoid unnecessary starches. You don’t have to completely change your diet to eat more cleanly; just make easy swaps like this one.

This meal is great all-around because it’s ready whenever we finish our whirlwind day and are ready to eat, and it’s family friendly. Eating well as a rule is easier than trying out a fad-diet. It’s just too hard to make a special, healthy meal for one person. You need options, like this one, that everyone can enjoy. Eating well should taste really good.

BBQ pork loin and cucumber, black bean, quinoa salad

Here’s a delicious, healthy recipe for you. It’s full of the things your body needs, and light on what it doesn’t. This dish has protein, loads of veggies, whole grain, citrus and fiber, while budgeting fat, sodium and sugar content. The bit of kick is an added bonus for your metabolism and circulation, if you can take the heat.

This meal is easy to make and convenient to prepare since you can make the salad ahead of time and let it chill while the pork marinates, leaving only the final step of grilling the pork loin. I knew I’d be in the gym all day, so it was nice to have almost everything done already when I got home. We will definitely be adding this one to the dinner rotation.

Pork loin rub

  • 0.3-0.5lb/pp pork loin

Ingredients below are per each pound of pork loin.

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil (just enough to make a paste)
My husband looked up how to grill the pork loin in a way that keeps it juicy and tender, and it came out perfect. He seared it for three minutes, or until it has black grill marks on either side, then turned the grill down to med-low to finish cooking (time will depend on thickness). Remember that it will continue to cook a little when you remove it from the heat, so take it off and let it rest for about 3 minutes before cutting. Use the rub recipe below at least 2 hours prior and let it marinate in the fridge, but bring it back to room temperature before you grill it.

Cucumber, black bean, quinoa cold salad

  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1 chopped, seeded red pepper
  • 1 diced, seeded tomato
  • 1 chopped avocado (optional)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 can rinsed, drained black beans
  • 1 cup prepared quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp agave nectar or honey
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp pepper
Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and set aside to cool. Rinse and drain canned black beans. Chop up all of your fruits and veggies and add them to a large bowl with beans. Mix all of your liquids and spices and pour them over the veggies and beans. Finally, stir in the quinoa, cover, and put in the fridge to cool until ready to serve.
Serve pork with salad. The hot pork right off the grill is great next to the cool salad. Enjoy!

Recipe: Tropical Summer Salad, Grilled Chicken and Veggies, and Spicy Chocolate Cake

What’s great about this meal? Aside from perfectly highlighting the amazing flavors of the season, your body gets tons of fruit, veggies, protein and fiber, it’s really tough to screw up, and the marinade adds enough flavor that you don’t need any sauce (read “added calories”) to enhance the flavor.

The portions below are for a 4 person meal, although the cake should stretch farther ;-). The entire meal takes about 45 mins; 15 to prep, 30 to cook – not counting the time the chicken is marinating.

Recipe #1: Chicken + Marinade

  • Gallon-size ziploc
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Blood orange juice – about 2 cups/enough to cover chicken when combined with other marinade ingredients
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Juice of two limes
  • 2 tsps Chipotle Tabasco.

Combine liquid ingredients and add to ziploc with chicken breasts. Marinate for at least 1 hour. We also marinated two portabello mushrooms since my sister-in-law is a vegetarian, and they came out yummy, too.

To cook: Preheat grill and cook chicken for about 12-15 minutes (depending on how large your breasts are…hee hee) on each side over medium heat. Let sit for 5 minutes after you take it off the grill.

Recipe #2: Grill Wok Vegetables

  • Grill wok
  • 2 large red peppers quartered
  • 1 pineapple halved and sliced
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO

Toss fruit and vegetables with olive oil and grill at medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently so everything is exposed to the grill flame.

Recipe #3: Tropical Summer Salad

  • Head of Romaine Lettuce chopped/torn
  • 1/2 English Cucumber chopped
  • 1 Mango chopped
  • 2 Tbsps EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 1/2 tsps chili powder
  • Juice of 2 limes.

Combine oil, honey, lime juice and chili powder. Toss with lettuce, cucumber and mango, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.

I recommend eating all of your grilled ingredients together (hello, party in your mouth) alongside the salad.

Recipe #4: Spicy Chocolate Cake

  • I pkg Gluten-free chocolate cake mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2/3 cup of natural, no-sugar added applesauce
  • one egg
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Mix cake mix, applesauce, egg and soy milk and pour into lightly greased brownie/cake pan. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp chili powder on top, drizzle with 1 Tbsp of honey. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

*If you can get your hands on a can of pumpkin – not the pie filling kind – you can mix that with the cake mix instead of the applesauce, egg and soy milk. It’s harder to find out of season, but it’s a great way to add fiber and serve up a really moist dessert.