Love is a happy, healthy heart

Chicken breasts cooking on stove top grill pan.

I have no trepidation about Valentine’s Day.

While the arrow wielding, chubby little cherub has struck me with a few arrows that didn’t exactly stick, I am not jaded about love, nor do I have a myopic view of it either.

Love makes the heart happy

Me and my grandson. He makes my heart happy.

I have had the good fortune of experiencing deep, passionate love.

I’ve also been blessed with the honor and privilege of experiencing maternal love.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the sisterly love that remains wrapped around my life like a snug cocoon.

Love, oh love

The range of love I’ve experienced has led me to believe this one thing: the reciprocity of love is the essence of what makes love that splendid thing I do not want to live without.

I no longer  think of Valentine’s Day in term of flowers, cards or candy.  But I won’t turn them down.

I think of Valentine’s Day in terms of recognizing the people who continue to surround me with pillars of love.

Gee, I’m getting a little misty eyed.

The cost of Love

Valentine’s Day is just one of countless moments in our lives we pause to celebrate or proclaim those we love, those who bring value and beauty our lives.

That calendar celebration and proclamation is far too often a pricey exploit.

According to the National Retail Federation,” U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.”

That’s a lot of clams, lavish dinners, sparkling jewels and premium roses.

I say go for it. Participate. Partake. Celebrate – responsibly of course.

But after the flowers have wilted and died, the box of Godiva chocolates is empty, the lavish dinner is forgotten,  the heart stirring card is tucked into a cabinet or deposited in the round file, why not make a proclamation to give an enduring gift of love – the gift a healthy heart.

Healthy Heart Month

Valentine’s Day is just a day, albeit a somewhat significant one.  But the entire month of February is observed as American Heart Month which seems to get completely overshadowed.

Since 1964, a Presidential proclamation has been issued to commemorate American Heart Month. Why? Because cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of deaths in America.  The National Heart Association says that every 38 seconds a person dies of cardiovascular disease (stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attack). That’s about 2,300 people a day, and 2,300 families who lives have abruptly shifted and changed. My family experienced the untimely death of a beloved and cherished member due to heart disease.

There is good news Dear Heart

Knowing your family history and making lifestyle changes (managing stress, losing weight, getting physically active, making healthy choices in what you eat, and cutting back on alcoholic beverages) can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly, as much as 80%.

Healthy heart recipe – start here

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce

Your assignment during American Heart Month is to eat more heart healthy meals as a declaration of the love you have for yourself, and as a declaration of the love you have for those you cherish.

My Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce is a heart healthy gift I give to you. The chicken is moist, tender and flavorful. The Chick Pea Sauce, made with fresh thyme and lemon juice, is savory and soul satisfying.  An option is to finish the plating with pan grilled corn cut from the cob. This is a meal that will make your heart happy and your lips part with a smile.

I’d like to thanks the great folks at Goya Foods for providing some of the ingredients used in making this recipe.

Talk about it

Have a heart to heart chat with yourself Dear Heart. There is no time like the present, and no better time than during American Heart Month to give yourself and those you love the gift of a healthy heart.

Now that’s real love my foodie friends. Time for you to get cooking!

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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A delicious, hearty healthy meal

Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts (Simple Truth Organic Chicken Breast featured here)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice for chicken marinade
½ teaspoon lemon juice for Chickpea Sauce
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1~ 15.5 ounce Goya Chick Peas, drained
2/3 cup chicken stock
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ear of corn, husk and silk removed

Directions

  1. Wash and pat dry chicken breasts. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice each one in half to yield four pieces. Generously season chicken breast slice with salt and cracked pepper.
  2. To a small bowl add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Mix well and pour into a plastic zipper storage bag.  Add seasoned chicken breast slices to marinade, seal the bag and marinade 15 minutes. Massage and turn the bag a few times.
  3. While chicken is marinating, to a skillet or stove top grill pan set at medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of Grapeseed or corn oil and pan grill the ear of corn. Rotate the corn in pan until it is lightly browned on all sides. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.
  4. Remove chicken breast from marinade after 15 minutes and place them in the same skillet or grill pan. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes until medium brown in color.
  5. When done, remove chicken breast from skillet or grill pan and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Place in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.
  6. While chicken is in the oven, to a blender add drained Chick Peas, ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, cracked pepper, 2/3 cup of chicken stock.
  7. Use the liquidfy setting and blend until creamy.
  8. Pour sauce into a small sauce pan. Place sauce pan on stove top and bring to a gentle boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. When done, remove from heat, keep warm.
  9. Remove chicken from oven after 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. While chicken is resting, cut the corn from the cob (video here).
  10. Place a chicken breast on a plate, spoon Chick Pea sauce over breast, top with grilled corn and fresh chopped thyme. (Note: as featured here, chicken breasts are sliced at a diagonal before plating. See “Happy New Year, happy new food,” for example.

 

Summer time, chickpeas and a homespun vegan burger

Chick Pea and Jersey Sweet Potato Burger served on an onion roll with Swiss cheese, mayo, salsa and spinach.

Hello summer!

It’s so nice to see ya.

We are so ready to get into your flow with all the barbecues, picnics and family gatherings that will abound.

There will be  so many opportunities to invite folks over or be invited over for food and fun during the summer season.

With the 4th of July holiday looming, so are the decisions about your holiday menu to celebrate the independence of our nation. If you don’t live in the states, summertime is seldom without visiting guests from the states and various parts of the world, and the question “what am I going to serve?” is always a quandary.

The question is much more complicated when your guests are vegetarians and more specifically vegans.

Classic barbecue ribs, chicken and burgers

When grilled chicken, ribs and burgers are the centerpiece of your menu, your non-meat eating guests are oftentimes relegated to eating salads and bread.

But no more. I got you –  or I got them – with this tasty, moist and somewhat savory Chickpea and Jersey Sweet Potato burger that is gluten and dairy free. It will enthrall your most discriminating vegan guest. Pile on fresh vegetables and toppings, serve it on an artisan roll or plate it alone with an Asian coleslaw or arugula salad and you have a vegetarian burger that is worthy of celebrating.

If you plan on grilling the burgers on the outside grill, make sure you cook them first before you cook your meat and seafood proteins. You can also cook them  inside on your stove top in a skillet or a grill pan, as featured in this recipe.

Thanks to the folks at Goya Foods for providing some of the ingredients used in making this tasty recipe.

Have a beautiful summer season. Cook fearlessly and eat well my foodie friends.

Chickpea and Jersey Sweet Potato Burger

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

This moist and savory burger is full of flavor.

Ingredients


1 15.5 ounce can Goya Chick Peas
1 medium baked Jersey (white) sweet potato to yield ½ cup
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup chopped white or yellow onion
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon oil (olive, canola or Grapeseed)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Goya Adobo Light All Purpose Seasoning
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup oatmeal
1 ear white corn, roasted with kernel removed

Directions

  1. Open and drain the can of chickpeas. Pour them into a large bowl and  smash with a potato smasher or folk. The texture should be chunky.
  2. Cook Jersey sweet potato in microwave oven for 4 to 6 minutes or until done. Remove and let cool. Once it has cooled, scoop out ½ cup of the inside and add to smashed chick peas.
  3. Place a skillet or grill pan on the stop and set heat at medium heat. Coat the surface of corn with oil and place in skillet. Cook the corn until medium browned, turning constantly. Remove when done. When cool, use a knife and cut corn kernels from the cob. Separate kernels and add to the mashed chick pea and Jersey sweet potato mixture.
  4. In a separate skillet set on medium heat, add 2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil and 1 teaspoon of oil. When the oils are heated, add ½ cup chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add chopped garlic, fresh chopped thyme and ½ teaspoon of Goya Adobo Light All Purpose Seasoning and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce. Stir well for one minute. Remove from heat and add mixture to the bowl with the smashed chickpeas and Jersey sweet potato.
  6. Lastly, add ½ cup of oatmeal to the bowl, and the blend mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. (Add 3/4 cup of oatmeal for a more dense burger.)
  7. Form mixture into 4 patties. Place patties on lightly oiled skillet set on medium heat. Cook 3 minutes on one side, two minutes on the other. Remove from heat when done. Or if grilling outdoors, grill 3 minutes on one side, 4 to 6 minutes on the other side or until desired brownness is achieved.

Variation: Form mixture into 8 small patties for sliders. Reduce cooking/grilling times in half or until desired brownness is achieved.

Empty chick peas into a bowl and smash with potato smasher.

 

Microwave Jersey sweet potato and scoop out inside.

Grill corn on stove top and remove kernels.

Saute chopped onion, chopped garlic, fresh chopped thyme, and other seasonings.

Add sauteed mixture and mix thoroughly, form into patties and grill.

Remove from grill when done and serve.

Enjoy with you favorite toppings.