pita

Radish Avocado & Farro Salad

After a long winter, and unseasonably cold Spring, I am so grateful for the weather to be improving. I could have done without the deluge today, but I am sure my garden loved it.

I've been on a bit of a "hiatus" with the blog, but there has been plenty going on at, what now I refer to as, the "Turner Homestead". Most of our weekends have been spent in our backyard, on some exciting projects.

The Garden:

In late March I ordered seeds from Johnny's Seeds, which had a great organic selection. Things were looking promising, with kale, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and peppers sprouting fast.

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In April we "broke grown" and built a raised garden bed to start growing some of our own produce this summer. We have tried to grow tomato plants in pots before, but before we ever had a chance to enjoy their fruit, a pesky squirrel or chipmunk would ravage the juicy ripe tomatoes.

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I was really excited to be growing produce from seed, but once we translanted the little sprouts into the garden bed, many stopped suspended in an infant state. We suspect it was because of the weather, but I'm sure it also had something to do with our little experience in growing vegetables.

With such a short growing season in New England, we purhcased some addtional plants, that were more mature so we'd at least get something out of it. However, in the last week or so, some of what I started from seeds have started growing like crazy. Our kale and boston lettuce is going through a growth spurt and the Rudolph Radishes I planted are ready to pick!

This week for lunch I enjoyed a delicious salad served in a pita pocket using fresh radish straight from my own garden. There is truely something special about eating food your grow yourself. Thats what I love about having a dedicated vegetable garden. I can grow what I want, how I want it, organically, without pesticides and enjoy it FRESH. I am the only one who is handling it before it gets on the plate.

Backyard Chickens:

Speaking of fresh, it doesnt stop at the garden. This year we got chickens. Yup! You heard right, we are raising our own flock of egg

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laying hens. Most of our time the last month or so has been dedicated to builidng a coop for the girls. They've just officially moved out of the brooder we had inside, to the custom coop at the end of May and are LOVING their new home.

You probably have a few questions:

Are you crazy? Maybe, but I'm okay with being a crazy chicken lady. I'll have the freshest eggs on the block!

Are you getting eggs yet? No. They are still too young. And sorry they do not still look like this (warning: the next image may be too cute to handle):

You'd be amazed in just how fast these things grow! I swear, the first couple weeks, I'd come home from work and they'd look totally different than they had that same morning. They are 9 weeks now and resemble mini-chickens. Here is the same girl, all black.

8 week backyard chickens
8 week backyard chickens

If you want to see more pictures of the chicks, you can head to the Mindful Glutton Facebook page. You can expect I will have some amazing recipes using the freshest eggs you can imagine come August. But lets get back to those RADISHES.

A Delicious Radish Recipe:

If you haven't tried radishes, or are looking for ways to use them, salads are perfect. They are slighly peppery, crisp like an apple, and add a great crunch (not to mention packed with awesome vitamins and nutriets).

Ever wonder what makes a perfect salad? For me, its about fresh mixed greens, something crunchy, a creamy fat, and a tasty vinegrette. Chances are, at anytime, I will have all those "essentials" at home. For this healthy lunch option, I employ organic mixed greens, avocado (radish's best friend), some leftover farro I had from earlier in the week, and a tangy soy ginger vinegrette I picked up a few weeks ago.

This lunch comes together so quickly. After warming up the farro in the microwave, I squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, and toss it, with the rest of my salad ingredients into a bowl. Sometimes I will make my own simply vinegrette with a flavored vinegar and olive oil, but I've come to love this store bought dressing,

Tessemae's Soy Ginger Dressing

. I tried a sample at Whole Foods and loved it. They keep their ingredients simple, which I appreciate, and stay away from icky articifial ingredients. I cant speak to all their products, but this one has no preservatives and I can pronounce and know all the indredients listed. I suppose I could make my own, but love this as a quick go-to.

The salad itself is small, so I serve it in pita pocket. My favorite right now is

Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat

version, thats low in calories, but filling. You can certainly opt out, or use half a pita, and eat the rest of the salad as a side.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of organic mixed greens
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 2 small radishes, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup of cooked farro
  • squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • 1 tbs of your favorite vinegrette
  • 1 pita pockets

Instructions

  • Mix salad, radishes, avocado, farro, vinaigrette, and squeeze of lemon into bowl and toss. Serve as a salad, or stuff inside of a pita pocket and enjoy.

Mindful Buffalo Chicken Pita Pockets

There seems to be a misconception out there that healthy versions of meals never taste as good as the original. I beg to differ. I say my Mindful Buffalo Chicken Pita Pockets rival their fried chicken component in terms of flavor. It will absolutely satisfy that craving for spicy buffalo chicken and creamy dressing and even better, has a fraction of the calories and fat. One of my favorite lunches to get at my work’s cafeteria was this Buffalo Chicken Wrap. Crispy Fried Chicken with buffalo sauce and creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing in a soft wrap. I love spicy food and every time this was a special on the menu I’d order it. You’d think because it was a wrap, it would be somewhat of a healthy lunch, but the stats are staggering: Calories: 490, Fat: 25g, Carbs: 48g.

My version has only 300 calories, has less than 6g of fat, 27 carbs, and actually has twice the protein (31g vs 17g) than that Fried Buffalo Chicken Wrap. And to be completely honest, I actually prefer this version.

To make this recipe healthier we have to get rid of the fried chicken and the traditional high calorie and fat dressing. But don’t despair; those are getting swapped out with something just as good.

The cafeteria did offer a grilled version of the wrap, but I never found it as satisfying. For some reason, grilled chicken always comes out dry and unpleasant. For this recipe, instead of grilling chicken, I roast it, which leaves it tender and juicy.

If you are trying to start eating healthier, one thing that helps is to plan some of your meals in advance. For me, Sundays are a great day for this. You can roast a few pounds of chicken breast, shred and store in the fridge about 4 days to have over the course of the week. Chicken is so versatile you can use it in several different meals, or make the same ones over again. (I’m having this Buffalo Chicken Pita Pocket a 2nd day in a row its so good!)

With the roasted shredded chicken made ahead of time, this lunch comes together in a pinch! I roast mine with salt, pepper, a little bit of grapeseed or olive oil for about 30 mins in a 400° oven. Every oven is a little different and the cook time can vary depending on how big your chicken breasts are, so just keep an eye on it and pull it out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.

Next comes the dressing. Whether you are on Team Ranch or Blue Cheese, you can easily adapt this creamy dressing to your taste. I start off by mixing 2 heaping tablespoons of non-fat greek yogurt with about 1 tbs of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. You can adjust the amount of hot sauce you use, based on your personal preference. I found these to be just the right amount of dressing, but if you want to add a few extra tbs of the non-fat yogurt feel free… each tbs is only about 15 calories. Next I added .05oz of crumbled goat cheese (about 1 tbs). Blue cheese would work too if you prefer, but I happened to have goat cheese on hand. Finally, I diced up some green onions I had on hand to add some color and crunch. Chopped celery is another alternative, but I like the mild onion flavor from the green onion.

I’ve found people to be very polarized about greek-style yogurts. They either love it or hate it. I’ll admit I defiantly didn’t not like greek yogurt for a long time. However, because it can be a great addition to a healthy diet, I started to try different brands and flavors and eventually started to enjoy it. It's still unlikely that I’d eat plain greek  yogurt by the spoonfuls, but as a base for a dipping sauce it is excellent and has made its way as a staple in my refrigerator. If you are on the fence, I urge you to give it another shot with this recipe.  

Back to the recipe… When its time for lunch, heat up 4oz (about a cup) of the shredded chicken and then mix it with your buffalo yogurt dressing and shredded carrots. Fill half a pita pocket and enjoy!

The recipe below is for 2 servings so you can share with another or enjoy it again later in the week!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted shredded chicken
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 large pita pocket, cut in half

Dressing

  • ¼ cup non-fat greek style yogurt
  • 2 tbs your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 oz of crumbled goat or blue cheese (about 2 tbs)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped

Instructions

  • Warm shredded chicken in microwave or oven.
  • Mix yogurt, hot sauce, crumbled cheese and green onions in small bowl.
  • Add warmed chicken and shredded carrots to dressing to evenly coat.
  • Divide chicken and dressing mixture into two halves of the pita bread (or save half for another meal)

Nutritional Information*

Per Serving: Calories: 300, Fat: 5.5g, Carbs: 27g, Protien: 31.6g

*Calculated with MyFitnessPal