Recipe of the Week: Italian Chicken with Strawberry Balsamic Salsa

Ok, friends, we've heard you loud and clear. Strawberries are your favorite produce of the season. We are starting our strawberry recipe collection right here at Health-full because we happen to LIVE FOR fresh California strawberries as well. The following grilled chicken recipe is a great one for early strawberries that haven't quite reached the prime sweetness. You can also substitute grilled fish for the chicken if you like. Try mahi mahi or even salmon and get in that extra dose of omega-3s.

Serves: 4

Marinade Ingredients:
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon chives
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 boneless chicken breasts

1. Assemble marinade. Coat chicken breasts.
2. Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes.
3. Set aside and make salsa.

3 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons wine (I used chardonnay.)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 teaspoon mint, chopped

1. Chop ingredients and combine.
2. Refrigerate salsa until needed.
3. Grill chicken breasts. Grill approximately 5 minutes at a time on each side for about 15 minutes.
4. Top with cold salsa and serve.

Side Dish Suggestions: Grilled asparagus, cooked quinoa


Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Mint Lemonade

I love fresh-squeezed lemonade. Once you've had the real stuff you can't go back to the mix. Of course, there's an advantage to living in the Central Valley where citrus is plentiful and usually inexpensive. My favorite lemons for fresh lemonade are meyer lemons, which tend to be smaller with an orange tinge and a sweeter taste. However, the classic lemons (which I usually get in abundance from neighbors and friends) will work just fine. My parents bought me a fancy juicer to save my wrists, but you can always put your kids to work with the plastic hand juicer.

2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries (could substitute raspberries or blueberries)
1 cup raw honey
6 cups water

1. Throw it all in the blender (except the water). Give it a whirl.
2. Pour into serving pitcher. Add water and ice. Taste and add more water if you like.
3. Serve with sprigs of fresh mint. (Make it fancy and freeze mint leaves into ice trays for mint cubes.)


Dorina's Exercise Tips for Busy Beings

This morning I laced up my running shoes, dusted off the jogging stroller and headed out for a run. I have to admit I've been in hibernation for a few months. My workouts have been spotty at best. Back in November Ericlee and I ran in the Trail of Two Cities Half Marathon here in Fresno-Clovis. After that, I fell victim to holiday busyness, cold weather blues and life with no exercise goals. Not good.

I need exercise not just to maintain a certain weight or look but because it helps me deal with stress. Regular exercise is an important key to an overall healthy life. Unfortunately, as Americans we spend too much time busying ourselves in front of our computers or televisions. Entertainment or free time is enjoyed sitting in a chair rather than outside drinking in the sun or playing with family and friends.

There's something about the sun shining and flowers blooming that jumpstarts my urge to get out and exercise. I hope it's inspiration for you too. As I was taking my "get back into the groove" run yesterday, I started thinking about the challenge of exercising when your schedule is swirling, kids are demanding your time and you don't feel motivated.

Here are tips to spring into Spring:

1. Make a goal. As much as I hate the pressure, I love the sense of accomplishment at the end. Make yourself a chart and mark off the days when you work out. (There is power in being able to check off the box!) Choose a local running race (For ideas, see here) if you want to lose weight or need a cardio goal. Otherwise, join a local gym or sign up for a class. I have several mama friends who do yoga or dance classes once a week. The scheduled time to exercise (even just once a week!) may help.

2. Start small. Keep it simple. Maybe you just want to start with 50 situps and 25 pushups each day. That might be a big deal if you've just had a baby or you're a working daddy. When I'm not training for a race, I try to make weekly goals. I might run 2-3 days a week and then weightlift 2 days a week. Don't think you need a gym membership to get in shape. After I had Meilani, we gave up our gym membership and started workouts at home and in our neighborhood. My pastor and his wife have a nightly ritual of walking around the block. They process the day together (which is so important to their relationship) and they get a little exercise in the process.

3. Get a partner. It's always easier to do something with a friend. Grab your spouse, your kid or a friend and commit to doing something together. I'm always more motivated when I'm with Ericlee or a girlfriend. First of all, talking to someone can help distract you from the pain (wink. wink.) Also, you need the accountability of meeting up with someone for a walk at the park or to notice if you skip that "Buns of Steel" class.

4. Seize the moment. Multitask. For example, I coach high school Track & Field. When my girls are doing their warm-up, I'm instructing them and doing my daily goal of 50 squats. It's mindless. I can squeeze in the squats and still check up on the team. You might try this while you're watching your favorite TV show or while your little one is sitting in the high chair. Seize that 10 minutes and make it yours. Who says working out needs to take a long time?

5. Forgive yourself. If you skip a day or can't quite make your goal, don't give up. Whenever I miss a workout day, I feel those bad thoughts creeping in, telling me I can't continue or it's too late and I might as well give up. Ban the bad thoughts, pick yourself up and get back to it. Life happens. If you skip a day, it's not the end of the world.

I realized I had actually missed my exercising routine. The 30 minutes sped by because I was so busy drinking in the sights of the neighborhood and spending time with my daughter. We smelled trees blooming, heard the whistle of the train, waved to neighbors in Fig Garden, giggled at a squirrel chasing up a tree, sang a song. And when I pulled the stroller in the driveway, I realized it was time to get out of hibernation.

**Your turn: What are your exercise secrets? How do you juggle a busy schedule with the need to stay in shape? What kind of exercise is the best stress relief for you? I'd love to hear your advice too.


Recipe of the Week: Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew or Soup

My husband and I coach high school Track & Field. That means starting in February our lives and schedules get a little hairy. We spend our afternoons practicing with our athletes or going to track meets, which sometimes last long hours. Now that we're on this healthy living journey meals on the fly are an extra challenge. I'm looking for fast, nutritious meals that can be prepped ahead of time or take nearly no prep at all. Got suggestions? Leave a comment about your fast faves.

When all else fails, get out the crockpot and start creating. I threw all this stuff in the pot and it was ready to go when we got home from practice. This is a hearty meal served up with a crusty whole wheat french bread.

Barley is the hard-hitter in this meal. Barley is a great grain for the heart and has the ability to lower cholesterol, reduce the formation of blood clots, improve digestion and reduce cancer risk, according to THE DOCTORS BOOK OF FOOD REMEDIES by Selene Yeager. Barley is loaded with beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that forms a gel in the small intestine. Cholesterol binds to this gel and then is excreted from the body. Maybe more than you wanted to know about barley...

Dorina's Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew

1 lb. grass-fed stew beef or sirloin
3/4 cup pearl barley (Available in bulk at Winco or Kristina's Market.)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced organic tomatoes (I use Trader Joe's brand.)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 (quart) box organic beef or vegetable broth
3 cups water

Serves 4-6

1. Cook meat in crockpot for 1 hour on HIGH.
2. Add other ingredients and cook additional 3 hours (or more) on LOW.
3. Add more liquid as desired, depending on if you want a soup or a stew.


March Menu Planner

Each week we will offer new ideas for planning a healthful dinner menu for your family. We will include one-dish meals, Farmer's market features and ethnic foods for the adventurers. These are all recipes we have created or tried from other sources. Feel free to steal our ideas & e-mail us with questions about recipes or feedback at dorinakailani@yahoo.com.

WEEK OF March 2-9

Baby Salad with tomatoes, avocadoes
Trader Joe's Cheese & Herb Pizza Bread crust
Toppings: Chicken, Kale, cashews, black olives with Asiago cheese

Beef & Barley Crockpot Soup
Sunflower & flaxseed bread

Chicken Chorizo Jambalaya
Brown Rice

Mahi Mahi with Meyer Lemon Herb Sauce
Roasted Asparagus
Israeli Couscous

Dinner out with Small Group

Caesar salad
Eggplant Parmesan
Foccacia bread

Enchiladas Suizas with Tomatillo sauce
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
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