Cornmeal and Chia Crusted Tilapia with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce

DSC_0054You might be familiar with the chia seed because you have pasted the tiny seeds onto a porous clay figurine and heard the catchy/slightly annoying ch-ch-ch-chia jingle on the infomercials, but did you know that Chia seeds make a great addition to your diet and are said to be a “superfood”?  Chia comes from the Mayan word for strength, and the seeds were a staple in Aztec and Mayan diets.  Chia seeds are a good source of fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants.  They are thought to help stabilize blood sugars, reduce joint inflammation, sustain a high level of energy, and lower your blood pressure.  They are also thought to have more antioxidants than fresh blueberries.

Chia seeds can be either black or white and used raw or cooked.  They have a mild, nut-like flavor and can be sprinkled on your cereal, salads, or yogurt.  The seeds, unlike flax, do not have to be ground, so they can are very easy to use!  The seeds also swell when mixed with liquids, so they can be soaked in a liquid of your choice to form a gel or pudding. That same swelling nature makes them a great substitute for egg in baked goods.  In Mexico, they are mixed with water and lemon or lime juice to make a drink called “Chia Fresca”.

When chia seeds are not soaked in a liquid, they have a nice, light, crunchy texture.  That light crunch is what makes them a perfect breading option for delicate fish.  Cornmeal and Chia Crusted Tilapia is a great swimsuit friendly way to work fish into your weeknight meal plans.  It only takes 20 minutes to prepare, and the Chipotle Yogurt Sauce adds a nice kick to keep your taste buds happy!

Cornmeal and Chia Crusted Tilapia with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal ground
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 8 ounces Greek yogurt, plain
  • ¼ cup chipotle flavored hot sauce (Tabasco or Cholula brands work well)
  • Pan Spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a shallow bowl, mix together cornmeal, chia seed, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  In another small bowl, mix Greek yogurt and chipotle hot sauce.  Set aside.

Lay tilapia fillets on a cutting board and spread one generous tablespoon of chipotle yogurt sauce over the fillets.  (do not double dip into the mixture because the remaining amount can be used as a serving sauce.)

Lay the fillet, yogurt side down in the cornmeal mixture and press lightly.  Remove from the cornmeal mixture and place on a greased baking sheet cornmeal side up.  Spray each fillet with pan spray to help the cornmeal mixture brown evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes or until fillets are cooked through and the cornmeal mixture is golden brown.   Serve with reserved yogurt mixture.

Serves 4


Sweet & Spicy Braised Kale

Kale has become a favorite in my house.  Most of the time it’s served in the form of kale chips for a guilt free late night snack,  but lately I have been adding this incredibly easy and good for you side dish to our menus.  I love the combination of sweet & spicy and the contrast of the tender kale with crunchy almonds.  Occasionally, I have even been lucky enough to find bags of pre-cleaned and torn kale to make this dish even quicker!






Sweet & Spicy Braised Kale

  • 6 cups fresh kale, washed and torn, tough stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tablespoons garlic, fresh grated
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted



In a large saute pan using high heat, saute coconut oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add white wine, water, vinegar, agave and kale.  Let braise, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is dissolved and kale is desired level of doneness. (about 2-3 minutes)  Season with kosher salt, using more if needed.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds

Serves 4.


Cinnamon Banana Leathers

My son has been pretty hit and miss on eating bananas lately and there are only so many loaves of banana bread that a person can eat, so I decided to see what his thoughts were on one my favorite Trader Joe’s snacks, Bananas Flattened.  (Man, do I miss having a Trader Joe’s right down the street!)  I am also always looking for “car friendly” snacks and as I found out one day, bananas, a 2 1/2 year old, and a black interior do not mix!  But these delicious little bananas, or “banana candies” as my son calls them, are perfect for packing on the road!  They get so deliciously sweet in the oven that you will find the first batch gone almost immediatly, so it’s best to plan ahead for more!



Cinnamon Banana Leathers

  • 2 large ripe bananas, sliced lenthwise 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with a silicon baking mat.  Using a filet knife (they are thin and flexible), slice bananas lengthwise 1/8 inch thick.  If necessary to make it easier to control, slice each banana in half first so that your strips will actually be only 1/2 of a banana long.  Lay slices on a silicone baking mat or very lightly greased parchment paper.  (you don’t want greasy bananas!)  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake for 2 hours.  Turn oven off and let remain in the oven for 8 hours.  This step may not be needed, but it I it allows for extra drying in case your slicing wasn’t the most even and works well with my busy lifestyle because I can either leave them in the oven over night or while I am work.  Remove the pan from the oven and carefully peel the bananas off of the baking mat.  They should have a slight bend and chewiness to them.  Store in an airtight bag.  Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal for 2

On this cold and rainy fall morning, what better way to wake up than to a breakfast that tastes just like a fresh from the oven cookie.  I have seen a lot of recipes for baked oatmeal, but they are usually very high in sugar and contain a hefty portion of butter.  In my recipe, I used less sugar and substituted applesauce for all of the butter.  I was able to keep the fresh baked taste by adding in a little vanilla extract and the secret ingredient of butter flavor.  Of course, that is optional, but I find that it really helps bring out the “cookie” taste.  I have also substituted stevia and agave nectar for the sugar, but I love the taste of molasses in dark brown sugar.  If you would like to double this recipe for a 9×9 baking dish, it keeps beautifully in the fridge and you can just heat up as needed all week long.  It reheats in just 1 minute in the microwave and saves you the time of measuring and stirring fresh oatmeal every morning.  What a tasty time-saver!





Baked Oatmeal for 2

  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp iodized salt
  • 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp butter flavor
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk and it still works great)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl combine the oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In separate small bowl whisk together applesauce, egg, milk, vanilla extract and optional butter flavor.  Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.   Pour into greased 7×7 (or any small size) glass baking dish.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until middle is set and top is golden brown.  Serve warm with fresh milk and any of your favorite oatmeal toppings.  Enjoy!

Bengali Style Salmon

I know it’s been a few months since I have posted a recipe, but I have had quite a busy summer! (As I am sure most of you have)  This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend an evening with family at the lake and it was brought to my attention that I promised to share a recipe with them a few months back.

This is one of my favorite go to meals.  It’s light, yet tastes to buttery, rich and flavorful.  I usually serve it with brown or delicately perfumed Jasmine rice, both of which can be found raw or precooked in the rice isle at the grocery store.  As a bonus, this recipe is so quick and easy that it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner, but trust me, this will knock the socks off of your pickiest dinner guests!


Bengali Style Salmon

to rub on the fish

  • 6- 6 ounce skinless salmon fillet (if you use skin on, just give it a good sear skin side first)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the mustard sauce

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup of fresh ginger root “shreds”, I use a vegetable peeler to peel the exterior layer and then continue to use the peeler make 1 inch long pieces

Rub salmon fillets evenly with the salt, turmeric, and cayenne.  Put the mustard powder, cayenne, turmeric, and salt in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoon water and mix thoroughly. Add another 8 tablespoons water and ginger pieces and mix. Set aside.

Pour the oil into a medium frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to “pop”, add the salmon and sear one side for 2-3 minutes.  Gently turn it over and add the mustard water mixture.  Bring the pan to a quick boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through, spooning or basting the sauce over the fish the entire time.  Once the salmon starts to want to flake apart, it is cooked.

Carefully remove the fish from pan and place on serving platter.  Pour any remaining sauce over the top.  Enjoy!

Spinach Dip

Photo from Knorr

This afternoon I had some time to play around in the kitchen and was in the mood for snacking.  Here is a recipe remake that is sure to keep your tastebuds happy!  I have always had a weakness for creamy dips and spreads at parties and barbecues so I decided to make one that I could feel good about eating.  Typically this vegetable dip package calls for mayonaise and sour cream, but I used plain greek non-fat yogurt, which is only 60 calories in 1/2 cup and double the protein of regular yogurt!  Plus, greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt, so the texture stays very close to regular spinach dip.  I have been enjoying this dip with special k multi-grain crackers or celery sticks,  but torn french or Hawaiian bread is another crowd pleaser.





Spinach Dip

  • 1 pkg knorr vegetable dip mix
  • 3 cups non fat greek yogurt, plain (I prefer Greek Gods)
  • 1 can water chestnuts, finely chopped 
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed, all excess water squeezed out

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until well combined.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Curried Pita Chips

The other night I had my sister and her family over for dinner and after a long day at work, I needed a quick appetizer to ease the hunger pains while I prepared dinner.  I knew this hummus would be perfect!  It’s high in fiber and protien and lower in fat and calories than traditional hummus because it’s missing the tahini paste.  Plus, it gets an extra boost of flavor because of the red pepper and the lemon zest.  The pita chips are great and also guilt free because they are baked and we control the amount of salt on them.  These recipes make enough for a crowd, or enough for few people to munch on all week long!


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  • 2 cans garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 whole roasted red bell peppers, drained if using jarred  (I use melissa’s brand and the whole jar is perfect)
  • 2 cloves garlic, fresh, whole
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sqeezed lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Serves 12.

Curried Pita Chips

  • 6 whole pitas, split and cut into pizza style wedges
  • non stick cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place pita wedges on 2 baking sheets, being sure not to overlap.  Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with curry powder and kosher salt.  Bake for 9 minutes or until desired crispness.  Serves 12.