Thursday, August 28, 2014

Avocado Yogurt Dressing

Food can be both very healing and very damaging to your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, I was recently diagnosed with shingles, and after getting the appropriate prescriptions and advice from the doctor, I set to work figuring out how I could help heal myself through food and other lifestyle choices. If you're not familiar with shingles, it is the chicken pox virus reactivating in your nerve tissue, causing headaches, achiness, fatigue, and a blistering rash that makes the affected area as sensitive as an open nerve (the right side of my torso and back, in my case). And what's worse, this usually lasts around a month. Considering a light breeze or simply my shirt touching my skin causes a lot pain, I've had a much more relaxed lifestyle lately, leaving me with ample time to do some research on what else I could do to heal myself. I'm a scientist, so I'm very critical when it comes to buying into to folk remedies and the like, but I did find some evidence that diets high in lysine and low in arginine can help fight off viruses in the same family as shingles. I was disappointed to find out this means cutting back on nuts and chocolate, two of my favorite things, but I don't mind getting permission to eat a little more cheese, eggs, and meat, and the avocado and yogurt that compose this dressing.

And it doesn't get much easier to sneak in some edible medicine than making a dip or dressing! The avocado and yogurt are wonderfully rich and creamy, and the lime, garlic, and hot sauce liven it up just enough with brightness and spice. I've happily poured this over salads, spread it on sandwiches, used it as a dip for crackers, veggies, and chicken strips, and even used it in a dressed-up tuna salad. Whether you're looking for a little extra nutrition or simply a delicious new condiment, this dressing has you covered.

Avocado Yogurt Dressing
makes about 2 cups

1 large avocado (about 6 ounces flesh)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup + 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/2 T. hot sauce (I like Chipotle Tabasco or Sriracha), plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Taste and season with additional salt and hot sauce, if desired

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chicken, Blueberry, and Feta Wrap

I've got a pretty good thing going with putting fresh fruit on my sandwiches, so I figured there was no reason not to continue. Raspberries, strawberries, and cherries have all gotten their turn, and it's only fair that blueberries get a chance to play too. Michigan might be known for blueberries, but we do pretty well here in Wisconsin as well, but when their season is so fleeting, you've got to chow down on them when you can. While in this prime blueberry time, you'll find me adding them to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt, preserving them en masse in Perfect Blueberry Syrup, and just generally adding them to everything that I can. Like the other fresh fruit sandwich recipes I shared, this recipe relies on the harmony of fresh fruit, bitter greens, and salty cheese, a template with infinite combinations yielding delicious results. Sweet pops of blueberry liven up each bite, mingling perfectly with the savory feta and crunchy veggies that surround the chicken with complementing, contrasting flavors. The chicken isn't strictly necessary here, but it does make this into a much more filling meal; vegetarians can substitute white beans for the same satisfying result. This wrap is good warm, room temperature, or cold, so whether you eat it as soon as it's prepared for dinner or the following day for lunch, you won't be disappointed with your meal.

Chicken, Blueberry, and Feta Wrap
serves 1

4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Cooking spray
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon light mayo
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 whole grain tortilla or wrap
A few leaves of arugula (about 1/4 ounce)
Thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 ounce feta cheese, sliced or crumbled

1. Preheat a pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and cook, flipping once halfway through, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Set aside to rest for a few minutes, then slice into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick slices.

2. In a small bowl, combine mayo, mustard, and vinegar and mix thoroughly. Spread on the center of the tortilla. Top with the arugula and red onion and then the blueberries, lightly smashing them to an almost jam-like consistency.

3. Add the cooked chicken and feta and roll up the tortilla. Cut in half and serve.