Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

Days I’m out of the house until 7 pm are rare, but when they do occur, I am usually hungry when I walk through the door and want something to eat right away. It’s tempting to  do what I did in my twenties, pour dinner from a cereal box into a bowl, and call it a day. Now that I’m older, I like to think.. I’m wiser. Call it what you want, but honestly,  I’m a bit of a stickler for adhering to a schedule of protein intake that  helps my body maintain rates of protein turnover necessary to aid in the building and repair of tissue, as well as maintenance of muscle protein.  What’s the schedule?  Taking in 25-30 grams of high quality protein at each meal and paying attention to the interaction between protein and exercise (more on that in another post, I promise).

In case you’ve missed it, here’s one of my breakfasts, a savoy Dutch pancake.  And one of my lunches, a 5 minute citrus salad. Today’s post showcases one of my dinners. This slow cooked chicken tangine is prepped early in the day and put into a slow cooker. Vegetables are add in  during the last 30 to 60 minutes to keep from over cooking.   I love it because it packs in the necessary protein (key for my optimal health), and it’s savory good.
IMG_1083What do you think of when you think cinnamon?  I think of toast and lattes. But after making this savory slow cooked chicken tangine, seasoned with cinnamon, I’m seeing it from a different  perspective.


Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quatered
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped


1. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken thighs and toss to coat evenly.

2. Add tomatoes and chicken broth to slow cooker. Top with seasoned chicken thighs. Cover slow cooker and set to high for 4 hours.

3. After 3 1/2  hours, stir contents in the slow cooker briefly and return lid. Add olive oil to a saute pan and cook shallots with garlic for about 5 minutes or until just turning brown. Add to slow cooker along with butternut squash, and dried apricots. Replace lid and continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

4. After cooking time is complete, place in a large casserole or other serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately with tricolored couscous.

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Brownie Points or Epic Failure: No Bake Chocolate Mousse

I thought long and hard about a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe to tout to the twenty something gal who’s smart and savvy, but has little time to spend in the kitchen. The ease of  this chocolate treat made me curious; it is soooo easy to prepare even kids can make it. I’m not talking You, twenty something gals, I’m talking first and second graders, here! I watched them at a local Williams-Somona. It was a promotion for Jennifer Tyler Lee’s book The 52 New Foods Challenge. And so, that’s how the story begins, of this Valentine’s Day chocolate recipe…IMG_1173

Although appealing to me, I must be honest with you, I didn’t score any brownie points with ‘the man’.  He would have been happier with.. ahem… Bobby Flay’s version (which btw takes over one hour and fifteen minutes to prepare). While cleaning up, He (aka the man) challenged me, “Are you altering the recipe for some minor nutritional improvements?” 

So here’s how it break downs, Honey:

Bobby Flay’s Dark Chocolate Mousse recipe  per serving : 450 calories, 33 g fat, 21 g sat’d fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 234 mg sodium, 17 g sugar, 2 g fiber.

Made according to my recipe (posted below) per serving: 227 calories, 14 g fat, 4 g sat’d fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 15 g sugar, 7 g  fiber

Clearly this one was not so minor. That said, if you know your man loves to get jacked up on sugar and prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS RECIPE. It will fail. Save it instead for a girls night in. But, if he’s from California, you may proceed.IMG_1188

For the interest of anyone who may be reading,  and asking me (along  with members of my family whose names I will withhold),  the obvious question: Why do you continue to use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate or avocado instead of heavy cream, if you know,  no one you’re cooking for  will appreciate it (except yourself)? These are some of the internal conflicts a blogger often faces and legitimately described by Regan Jones R.D. in her post How My Blog was Ruining Dinnertime. (If you’re interested in this topic and you haven’t read this, you should.) I have those same blogging issues. And yes, sometimes my family  accuses me of.. gasp.. cooking for the blog. So do I believe I should have made the dessert Bobby Flay’s  way?  No. For whatever it’s worth, I try to follow a give and take. Sometimes making the family favorites, other times pushing the envelope.  I do find that getting individuals to expand their palates is not an overnight process. (Twenty years ago my husband would not touch yogurt with a ten foot pole, now he reminds me when we’re out.) Yes, I said twenty years!!! Don’t give up! I do think it’s important to continue to expose individuals to healthier choices, mixed in with  familiar foods. It’s not perfect, but I’m not trying to be perfect at what I do, just good at it: wife, mother, blogger, and dietitian.

Let me know how you try to introduce new foods to your family? or do you prefer to just play it safe?

IMG_1157No Bake Chocolate Mousse (serves 2)

(Adapted from Chocolate Avocado Pudding published in The 52 New Foods Challenge)

by Diane Boyd


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 3/4 ounce dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 pitted date
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
  • handful of pomegranate seeds for garnish


1. Add avocado, cocoa powder, date, skim milk and vanilla to blender or food processor.

2. Process until smooth.

3. Melt dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add melted chocolate to mixture in blender and blend again until creamy and smooth.

4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or up to 24 hours. Serve with whipped topping. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Dinner Idea: DIY en papillote (cooking and serving in a paper wrapper)

photo-254Every once in a while I get a special request for a recipe. I usually oblige; never in a public way. Today is different.  Here’s how Ashley coaxed me,

 ‘You know so much about food and cooking.. you need to help us twenty-something gals…  the smart gals, the fit gals… the gals who still haven’t gotten their full act together in the kitchen.’

Violà! How did she know my passion is getting  people to prepare more meals at home? Have you noticed that learning to cook is frequently one of the top items on lists like things I wish I knew when I was twenty? Cooking is now perceived as a desirable lifestyle habit, if  you cook  healthy.  Even if you don’t cook regularly, everyone should have at least one meal they can showboat make reasonably well.  So listen up all you twenty-something gals.  This is the meal you can  add to your “life portfolio”! IMG_1121.copy

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner,  why not  forgo the restaurant fare and share  this rustically romatic dinner in the comfort of your home? Sounds good, but who has the time? You do, if you can spare 25 minutes. I promise you, it’s that easy. Not to mention,  you can rack up some extreme brownie points from the man! Pardon the pun.

It take’s 5 minutes to assemble the food and fold it into a parchment paper parcel (en papillote, pronounced ON-poppy-YOTE). Pretty cool, eh? But they’re more than just a fun way to serve something  wrapped up like a surprise.   What appears to be a flashy technique, is actually an ideal way to steam food, locking in flavor and moisture. While they bake for 20 minutes,  assemble a tossed salad.  Keep the anticipation building; wait  until you’re at the table to open the packets and create a  little dinner time drama.

Below is the recipe for the meal pictured in the images on this  post. Use it if you’re a recipe follower. If you like to wing it, here are some tips.  Use a firm fish. I used Wahoo (I had some in the freezer from a fishing promise fulfilled). I think swordfish would work nicely and even salmon. Choose any  potato you like. Yukon gold would be yummy; I went with a purple sweet potato just for something different. Top with a non-starchy vegetable, use one that complements  the colors in your other ingredients.

Final tip, don’t let folding the paper freak you out. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to cut your paper into a heart, I just found it easier to fold  that way plus it tied into the Valentine theme.  Here is a quick video on folding the parchment paper. I have also described my steps in the instructions. Have fun. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Fish and Veggies En Papilotte

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 pieces of parchment paper about 15” X 24”
  • 2 – 4oz pieces of white fish (filet)
  • 1 potato (your choice) cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 8 mini zucchini, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed


1Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Fold each piece of parchment paper in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each peice with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out hearts, open and lay flat.

3. On one side of the fold, place 2 sliced potato rounds. Sprinkle potatoes with garlic. Place fish  on top of potatoes. Top fish with julienne zucchini. Repeat with second peice of parchment paper.

4. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, dill. Pour half of melted butter mixture over each assembled fish  and vegetable combination.

5. Fold parchment paper over food to cover. Starting at the bottom of the heart, make small overalpping pleats all the way around to seal the edges completely. Make your last fold turn under.

6. Place both parchement parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the parchment puffs up.

7. Using kitchen shears cut open the tops of the  packets just before serving.

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Working Lunch


I’m  not the only one eating at my desk these days. According to a survey from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods’ Home Safety program, eighty-three percent of Americans regularly are dining on their desk tops, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I really DON’T recommend it…but I’ve got no song and dance. Just one word of advice, if you’re going to eat at your desk, make sure it’s healthy.  Today’s post is a continuation  on my theme of spreading protein throughout the day, important for maintaining and/or building muscle  and also for keeping you from getting hungry an hour after you’ve already filled your belly.

This salad takes only 5 minutes to make with foods you purchase at the grocery store. I used prewashed spring mix, precooked chicken breasts, one half of a grapefruit and a homemade citrus vinaigrette (or  you could substitue Culinary Treasures White Balsamic Citrus Basil Dressing). The entire salad is under 300 calories and provides 21 grams of of protein . It’s  also a very good source of vitamin C, A and K.

Don’t cop out! If you tote your lunch to work, this salad is easy to make in a mason jar! Simply  layer the ingredients in this order: dressing on the very bottom, chicken, grapefruit and fresh greens. So take care of yourself (including maintaining your muscles) with this nutritious salad. You going to love working lunch!

So tell me, are you a desk top diner? What  are your favorite  protein foods to eat at your desk? 



Five Minute Citrus Salad (serves one)

by Diane Boyd


  • 3 ounces cooked chicken
  • 1/2 grapefruit, sectioned
  • 2 cups Spring mix

for the citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Arrange salad greens on medium sized plate. Top with grapefruit sections and cooked chicken. Stir vinaigrette to combine and drizzle over salad. Toss. Enjoy.

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IMG_0045.3Who’s the most quoted registered dietitian (RD/RDN) in America? I actually don’t know the answer to this, but I’d  bet on Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD. Here is an awesome fact, since 2007, she’s been quoted over 4600 times!  This lovely lady has combined her love for food and science with her passion for teaching.View More:

Marisa is not only a valuable resource to the media, she provides up-to-date evidence based consulting to worksites,  the food industry, as well as private individuals. She thrives on the diversity of her career which is anything but dull, and she affirms, ” On any given day I may be prepping for a cooking demo or presentaion, researching and writing an article for a magazine, or blogging for a brand  or creating and testing recipes.”   Outside of work she enjoys “salsa dancing and seeing the world”.

In anticipation of Super Bowl Sunday, I’m thinking of making  Marisa’s caramelized onion dip that she healthified by substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream.  Connect with Marisa on all of her social media sites: Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest Google+


Throw back to September, at the Blog Brulee where I first met Marisa and these lovely ladies who have all been an inspiration to me! Photo Credit: Gretchen Brown of KumquatBlog and one of the founders of the Blog Brulee.


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