What's for Dinner? Italian Chicken in Envelopes, Quinoa Salad with Beans and Pralines Salad

Italian Chicken in Envelopes
Italian Chicken in Envelopes

What you'll need:
4 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 medium cooking Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 large Tomato, chopped 
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 tsp dried Oregano
10 fresh Basil leaves, cut into ribbons
4 Bay Leaves
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp freshly Ground Black Pepper

What to do:
Cut 4 (10-inch) pieces of aluminum foil; grease with 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Place Chicken Breast in center of each piece of foil.
Combine: onion, garlic, tomatoes, celery, olive oil, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well. 
Spoon mixture over each Chicken Breast.
Add one Bay Leave to each envelope.
Fold foil into neat sealed envelopes.
Place on cookie sheet.

 Bake at 425F for 40 minutes
Serves 4 (you can serve from envelopes!)

Quinoa Salad with Beans

Quinoa Salad with Beans

What you'll need:
 1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Green Beans, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
 1 can Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
 2 Green Onions, finely chopped
1/2 English Cucumber, diced
2 Tbsp fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp. fresh Lemon Juice

How to cook Quinoa:
In a saucepan bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup Quinoa, bring back to a boil, cover, cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until Quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Yields about 4 cups.

The Salad:
Steam Green Beans for 2 minutes. Soak in ice water bath and drain well. Set aside.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large salad bowl or casserole dish with lid (I use this....no clean-up involved. Leftovers straight into refrigerator)
Refrigerate salad for 1 hour before serving.
Serves 4 (leftovers can be kept in refrigerator for 3 days! Hello, lunch!)

Pralines Salad

What you'll need:
1 cup Stevia
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sweet Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 cup Whole Raw Pecans

To make the Pralines:
Combine: 1/2 cup of the sugar, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Heat sunflower oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir in pecans and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
Continue to saute, stirring frequently until the sugar has caramelized and the pecans turn golden brown.
Remove from heat and toss the pecans in the spice mixture until completely covered. 
Sift pecans with hand strainer.
Turn onto baking sheet to cool.
You can serve the nuts warm or store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. 

To make the Salad:
8 cups combination of Leafy Green Lettuce, Kale, Spinach and Arugula
1 cup sliced fresh Strawberries
1 small Red Onion, finely sliced
1/2 cup soft Goat Cheese, crumbled
1 cup Pralines (see above recipe)
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Honey or Agave Nectar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fabulous Fiber

Dietary Fiber plays an important role in keeping our body healthy and processing the food we eat. Fiber is known to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids, help with weight loss, lower cholesterol and can lower the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones and kidney stones.

Fiber can be found in: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds.

The two main types of fiber are Soluble and Insoluble Fiber.

Soluble Fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble Fiber passes through our intestines largely intact. Both types of fiber are important to our health.

Soluble fibers are commonly found in fruits (especially pear, apple and citrus), vegetables (such as carrots)oats, barley, nuts, flax seed and legumes.

These water-soluble fibers form gels that provide beneficial effects including:

* Slow stomach emptying which contributes to fullness and decreased appetite.

* This delayed stomach emptying slows the absorption of carbohydrates which reduces

after-meal blood sugar spikes (this helps regulate blood sugar especially those who have diabetes)

* Binds to fatty acids

* Lowers LDL (bad)cholesterol
Insoluble fibers are commonly found in wheat and corn bran, whole grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds and vegetables (green beans, dark leafy greens and skins of root vegetables).

Insoluble fibers beneficial effects include:

* they promote regular bowel movement and prevent constipation

* help prevent colon cancer by keeping an optimal pH in intestines to prevent microbes from producing cancerous substances

* eases the removal of toxic waste in colon

Tips to Increase daily Fiber intake:

* Include raw fruits and vegetables in your diet.

* Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables in place of sugary or refined foods.

* Make a fresh fruit smoothie and add a tablespoon of ground flax seed.

* Include whole grains in your diet: oats, brown rice, bran, quinoa, barley and spelt.

* Substitute whole grain flour in recipes which call for white flour.

* Add ground flax seed to oatmeal or yogurt.

* Snack on unsalted/unbuttered popcorn, dehydrated vegetable crisps or whole grain crackers in place of potato chips, corn chips or pretzels.

* Add legumes to soups, stews and salads. Dip your whole grain crackers or vegetables crisps in hummus or sunflower pate.

* Avoid refined and processed foods which contain little or no fiber.
Important considerations

* Increase fiber intake gradually to avoid gas and bloating.

* Drink plenty of water: Divide your body weight by 2 than divide by 8 to get the number of 8oz glasses of water you should drink per day.

Find out your daily fiber intake requirement here:

The information presented here is not intended to replace professional medical care when needed. Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for disease diagnosis, therapy choice, medicine selection and dosage.