I recently did a fun food styling TV segment for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on the Bethenny show and NBC New York Live. The segment featured Mario discussing his new cookbook Extra Lean, demonstrating how to use fresh avocados in your everyday cooking for delicious healthy meals. I made his Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa for the show – it turned out absolutely delicious and was a hit backstage! I also made some gorgeous Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato SaladBites for the Bethenny Show that were super cute and delicious. Here’s the recipes and some fun behind the scenes photos from the show!
Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa
6 corn tortillas
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 tbsp canned green chiles
1/2 cup mild tomato salsa, divided
1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack recommended)
Hot sauce (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Season with salt and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
Remove tortillas from the oven and spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and transfer to baking dish; repeat with remaining tortillas.
Top tortillas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and cheese and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Garnish with chopped scallions, additional Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and serve with hot sauce, if desired.
Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa
Serves 4 – 8
1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper. Add avocado; toss gently. Season with salt, if desired.
photo: Kristen Hess
Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
Serves: 4 – 6
2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes
1 pound mozzarella
1 1/2 ounce bunch of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
With a small knife or “shark”, cut the little stem end out of the tomato using a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
Slice the mozzarella 1/4 inch thick.
Alternate slices of Avocado, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves like playing cards on individual plates.
Chili is one of my go-to recipes when the Autumn leaves start turning colors and the weather starts getting cooler – especially on a crisp weekend night cuddled under some fuzzy blankets with me and my kitty cat watching some movies. Or with a group of friends watching everyone go crazy on college football game day. There’s nothing better than that. And, it’s an easy thing to make and dishes out a big dose of comfort. The best part is once I make a big pot, I can eat it for a few days and then throw the rest in the freezer for later (unless all my crazy friends dig in and there’s nothing left to show for it which actually makes me the happiest!)
I decided I wanted to make a spicier version of the chili I normally make and added a kick to it with some Cajun/Creole seasoning Tony Chacere’s (or you can try Emeril’s Southwest Essence) which adds an extra layer of spicy, savory flavor with green and red bell pepper and celery flavors. I added some red pepper flakes, diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of hot sauce to the mix and used half ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey) / half ground beef and threw in some garlic, onions and black beans to make it a little healthier too. If you want to make it even more authentically Cajun, you could throw in some Andouille sausage or corn or green and red peppers for even more flavor and texture.
It’s perfect on its own, but you can cool the heat a little bit with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. If you want it even spicier, just throw in a little extra hot sauce – I love Evil Ooze by Hotline Pepper Products (my friend Kerry Stressel makes it in Texas) and classic Tabasco hot sauce, or you can do a little milder sauce like Frank’s RedHot or Cholula) and top with extra diced chilies or sliced jalapenos. I usually serve my chili with plain crackers or corn chips, but you could also make some yummy cheesy garlic bread to serve with it instead. Cozy up and enjoy! 🙂
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere's)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 -28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce or 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced green chilies, drained (or 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced)
1 cup of corn kernels (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, for garnish
Extra hot sauce, diced chilies or jalapeno (if desired)
Crackers, garlic toast or corn chips, for serving (if desired)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the chopped onion until soft and translucent, for about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the ground chicken or turkey and beef to the pot and mix with the garlic and onion, stirring with a wooden spoon to brown the meat. Continue to cook until all the meat is brown and no longer pink, for about 8-10 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat into a colander and place meat and onion-garlic mixture back into the pan.
Add the Cajun-Creole seasoning and all the dry chili spices and red pepper flakes, stir and cook for another minute or so.
Pour in the stock, water, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (or chopped fresh tomatoes) and hot sauce; turn up the heat until chili starts to bubble, and lower heat to a simmer.
Stir in black beans and and diced green chilies, cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Note: You can play with the thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock as it simmers, but be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking if you do this.)
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. Top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.
You can play with the desired thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock but be sure to taste and season it to your liking if you do this.)
You can also add some fresh or canned corn to the chili while cooking.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. You can also top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.
Fresh cilantro or lime adds great flavors as garnish for a little bit more green.
Enjoy with a big hearty glass of red wine or a beer and some crackers, corn chips or cheesy garlic bread.
Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to cook and do food styling for a special healthy food segment on the “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” TV Show featuring Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Dr. Barnard sits down with guest host Marilu Henner to discuss how saturated fat makes you sluggish and which colored foods are good for your brain and improve memory. Barnard says, “Greens, foliage — that contributes folate, which is a B vitamin which protects the brain.” He adds, “So when you see the greens, you know that’s good for the brain.” He also goes into discussing what foods to avoid such as heavy carb and fat-laden foods that make us tired and lack energy.
I was asked to cook and style four of Dr. Barnard’s recipes from his new book “Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory” to display during the TV interview food segment. The recipes were all colorful and healthy and made with Power Foods and all-natural ingredients: Summer Salad made with Rainbow Chard, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic and pecans, Minted Fruit Kebabs made with a Citrus Lime and Mint light dressing, Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs marinated in a balsamic and herb dressing, and Super Raspberry Protein Brownies made with black beans, raspberry jam, cocoa powder and figs.
Could that glass of milk affect your memory? Is that aluminum can increasing your risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Can a banana be a brain booster? Everyone knows that good nutrition supports your overall health, but did you know that certain foods can protect your brain and optimize its function?
In POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN, Dr. Neal Barnard has gathered the most important research and studies to deliver a program that can boost brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other less serious malfunctions, including low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability, and lack of focus. The plan includes information on:
The best foods to increase cognitive function and boost folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
The dangers dairy products and meats may have on memory
The role alcohol plays in Alzheimer’s risk
The latest research on certain toxic metals, like aluminums found in cookware, soda cans, and common antacids
Plus, 50-75 recipes and timesaving kitchen tips.
Here are the recipes I made and styled for the show. Enjoy!
Summer Salad – The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.
Chard’s slight bitterness is beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the corn and grapes, resulting in a surprising depth of flavor.
½ small white onion
3 cloves garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch chard
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
¼ cup pecan halves
1 cup seedless black grapes
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mince the onion and garlic, then smash them together a couple times with the back of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.
Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly, as it tends to be gritty, then slice it into ribbons by tightly bunching the leaves together and slicing them with a sharp, heavy knife. Place the chard in a salad bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and toss.
Marinated Grilled Veggie Kebabs – these are super easy to make and super colorful, and healthy. Marinated in a dressing made with balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, mustard and maple syrup with Italian season before grilling, they are super tasty too.
Serve these savory kebabs over a brown rice pilaf for a satisfying and easy meal.
16 cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, each cut into 8 bite-size chunks
2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 8 pieces each
16 button mushrooms
1 small yellow summer squash, cut into 8 pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into 8 pieces
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 metal skewers, or bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
Place the cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and whisk well. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and stir to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill or your oven’s broiler. Onto one skewer, thread the ingredients in the following manner: 1 tomato, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper piece, 1 mushroom, 1 yellow summer squash slice, 1 tomato, 1 zucchini slice, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper, and 1 mushroom. Repeat with remaining ingredients and skewers. Place the kebabs on the hot grill or a broiler pan and brush with the marinade. Grill for 7 minutes, or until desired tenderness, turning the kebabs a few times. Serve immediately.
Minted Fruit Kebabs – Power up with blueberries and grapes. These “brain berries” get their deep colors from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning and recall in studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Fresh fruit makes a striking appearance in these antioxidant-rich kebabs. Enjoy them for a refreshing, light dessert!
8 red or green grapes
4 large strawberries
4 1-inch-square cantaloupe chunks
4 1-inch-square honeydew chunks
4 1/2-inch-thick slices peeled kiwi
4 1-inch-square watermelon chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 10-inch bamboo skewers
Thread 1 grape, 1 strawberry, 1 cantaloupe chunk, 1 honeydew chunk, 1 slice kiwi, 1 watermelon chunk, and 1 more grape onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining fruit and skewers. Place the finished skewers in a shallow container.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, mint, and vanilla. Pour the marinade over the fruit kebabs, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours) in the refrigerator before serving.
Super Raspberry Protein Brownies – A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse. Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse.
Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
1/4 teaspoon safflower oil
2 15-ounce cans low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup all-fruit raspberry jam
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with the oil.
Combine the black beans, dates, jam, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process again.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks set. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. The brownies will keep, refrigerated in a covered container, for up to 1 week.