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Turkey meat sauce in one of my favorite recipes my Mom makes. Anytime I can create something similar to it in my own kitchen is a good day.

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This recipe takes sausage ragu (inspired by My Recipes) and serves it over millet polenta (inspired by NYTimes Recipes for Health) as an alternative to pasta. Feel free to sub pasta for the polenta if you wish. Using seasoned turkey sausage and pre-made marinara sauce makes this recipe super flavorful without too many ingredients.

Turkey Sausage Ragu over Creamy Millet Polenta

Serves 4 | Recipe by Lauren Larson | Print here!

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 55-60 minutes

For millet polenta:

1 cup millet

3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or water

1 cup low-fat milk

¼-½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1 tablespoon butter or ghee

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For turkey sausage ragu:

1 ¼ pounds hot Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups marinara sauce

½ cup water

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

¼ cups chopped fresh parsley (optional for garnish)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional for garnish)

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Heat a 10-inch oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add millet and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown; about 3-5 minutes. Carefully add milk, vegetable stock, and salt; stir to combine. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes, stirring half way through. Stir in butter and bake for another 5-10 minutes until liquid is completely absorbed. Remove from oven, stir in Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, break up with back of spoon and cook until browned; about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, wipe skillet clean, and return to medium-high heat.
  4. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add onion to cook for 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cooked sausage, marinara, water, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes while millet polenta continues to cook. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  5. Serve ragu over millet polenta topped with chopped fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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I could seriously eat that entire pan of millet polenta…in one sitting,

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Serve sausage ragu over polenta with steamed broccoli on the side for a complete, well balanced meal.

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We opened a delicious Orin Swift Location I wine to go along with it. Kind of a nice bottle for a weekday but I certainly didn’t mind.

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Enjoy! Have a great day!

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I have been having some serious cravings for Matcha Green Tea Lattes lately, so when Kiss Me Organics contacted me about trying out and reviewing their Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, it couldn’t have been better timing.

Organic Matcha

If you are not familiar with Matcha, it is high-quality green tea milled to a fine powder. Originally drank in Japanese tea ceremonies, Matcha is now commonly found in Starbucks’ Green Tea Latte, mochi, green tea ice cream, and other confectionaries. Matcha has numerous health benefits as it is a concentration of the whole green tea leaf. It has more antioxidants (including EGCG) than blueberries, it contains the amino acid L-Theanine which promotes relaxation and a state of well-being—preventing you from getting that jittery caffeine high you get from drinking coffee, it boosts energy while increasing focus and potentially endurance performance, it boosts metabolism while being low in calories, and it promotes detoxification with its chlorophyll content.

Anytime you consume something that is made from highly concentrated plants, you may want to consider choosing organic to minimize your exposure to toxins, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This is particularly important if you are consuming the product on a regular basis. Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder is Certified Organic and culinary grade, so you can feel good about adding it to your daily smoothie or latte and cooking with it!

Since receiving the sample I started out simple, making delicious green tea lattes.

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To make them, I add 1 teaspoon Kiss Me Organics Matcha and 1 teaspoon Organic cane sugar to a mug. Then I boil about a cup of water until just boiling, pour it over the Matcha and sugar mixture, and stir until well combined. I then top them with 2 ounces of steamed and frothed 2% milk. Voila—your very own homemade green tea latte!

Then, I became more adventurous and started adding the Matcha powder to waffles.

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And eventually these Matcha Ginger Oatmeal Cups (recipe inspired by fauxMartha with modifications suggested by Mag-Pie’s & More).

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Matcha Ginger Oatmeal Cups

Makes 12 | Recipe by Lauren Larson | Print here!

Prep time: 7 minutes | Bake time: 25-30 minutes

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup chopped crystallized ginger* (or raisins, chopped dates, or some combination)

¼ cup oat flour

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups almond milk

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 large egg, beaten

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-muffin tin with liners or grease with oil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, ginger, oat flour, brown sugar, Matcha, walnuts, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine almond milk, applesauce, egg, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add milk mixture to oat mixture and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
  5. Fill 12 lined or oiled muffin cups about 2/3-3/4 of the way with batter.
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown and firm in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Freeze for an on the go breakfast, snack, or workout snack anytime, or refrigerate for up to one week. Eat cold, at room temperature, or reheat for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.

*I like a lot of ginger, but if you don’t (or you can’t find it) you may want to replace the ginger with raisins, or chopped dates, or use half and half.

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These oatmeal cups would be perfect for breakfast on the go, a mid-afternoon snack, or a portable snack for a hike, bike ride, or run. Freeze them for long term storage, or refrigerate and consume within one week.

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If you would like to try these recipes out for yourself, Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea can be found on Amazon. Thank you Kiss Me Organics for rescuing me from Starbucks and inspiring me in the kitchen! Excuse me while I go drink a Matcha Green Tea Latte with a Matcha Ginger Oatmeal Cup on the side!

References

Health Benefits of Matcha Tea. Retrieved April 12, 2014.

Kiss Me Organics. Retrieved April 12, 2014.

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Bike Your Butt Off!

Now that the sun is sticking around later in the evenings, it is time to start getting on the bike! Over the past few years, the winters in Colorado have been conducive to outdoor riding year round, but not this winter—at least not for this fare weather rider. So, basically, I took the entire winter off the bike. When Bicycling Magazine contacting me about reviewing one of their new cycling books, Bike Your Butt Off!, it couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

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Each individual chapter focuses on one cycling concept, providing appropriate tips and skill drills, and has a workout to reinforce the concept. At the end of each chapter there is supporting nutrition advice from from Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, the director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Center for Sports Medicine—hello dream job! After spending the last 5 weeks reading through the chapters and doing some of the workouts, here is what I have to say about it:

  • Great for beginners or seasoned cyclists. The first few chapters focus on topics such as getting the right gear (including a bike), changing a tire, hand signals, and general rules of the road, all of which are important for a beginner to learn and seasoned cyclists to review.
  • The workouts can be done indoors or out. Each chapter has a separate workout for indoors or outdoors. The indoor workouts could easily be performed at a gym or at home on a stationary bike or on your own bike with a trainer. This flexibility prevents crummy weather from getting in the way of a workout.
  • The workouts ease you into it. Cycling can be challenging, and so can getting back into it. These workouts ease you into things, teaching you skills for improving form and minimizing the risk of injury. Again, great for the beginner or seasoned cyclist looking to get back into things.
  • Emphasis on strength training, core strength, and stretching. In conjunction with a cycling program (or any program for that matter), cross training, core strength, and stretching are extremely important for preventing muscle imbalances and reducing the risk of injury. Each workout has a corresponding core workout and suggested stretches for afterwards. The indoor workout has you jump off the bike in the middle of the workout, do the core workout, then get back on to complete the workout—a concept called cardioresitance (CR) training. CR training has been shown to build fitness and strength in about half the time it usually takes to do both! Win and win!
  • Practical and relevant nutritional advice. Leslie guides you through “gearing up for healthy eating”, keeping food logs, a healthy eating plan, portion control, and fueling for rides, all of which would benefit anyone looking to improve their eating—cyclist or not. Her advice is clear, and the fact that it is broken down chapter by chapter helps with making small, lifestyle changes that are sustainable for supporting an active lifestyle.
  • Personal testimonials give extra motivation. Reading about others in your same shoes who have overcome challenges and achieved their goals is inspiring. Throughout the book, you will read about others who have found success with the program, which may come right about when you are ready to give up.

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I have enjoyed everything about this book. It has motivated me to get on the bike inside, given me ideas for outdoor rides, reminded me of basic bike maintenance and safety on the road, and inspired me for my future dietetics career. Thanks Bicycling Magazine for the opportunity to read, try out, and review Bike Your Butt Off! Check out their website and the book on Amazon!

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