Bethany Bruns of Overland Park is passionate about nutritious, delicious cooking and enjoys cooking for people who want a healthier lifestyle.
She blogs at convenientlynourishedlife.com, a blog devoted to nutritious food preparation and healthy living. She is certified in nutrition and healthy living from Cornell University.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
I learned to cook from my mother, who was vegetarian and taught me to love vegetables. I am making a commitment to eating healthy and food is my creative outlet.
Q: Are your meals vegetarian?
No, the recipe I am sharing today includes chicken. But vegetables, especially raw ones, are very important so I try to plan a raw vegetable meal twice each week.
Q: Where do you shop for vegetables and how do you serve them?
I often shop at farmers markets. Vegetables picked in the morning and eaten for dinner that night offer superior nutrition. They may be a little more expensive, but the flavor and nutrition are worth it. I also like to support the local farmers who are using good farming practices.
Every day I prepare a salad with two cups of greens and other seasonal vegetables. Now it is easy to add ripe tomatoes, as well as lots of herbs to the salad.
In the winter I might add root vegetables, or I look for ingredients from farmers with a winter option in their CSA.
Once each week I make a Dump Salad, which means I combine the vegetables left in the refrigerator, dress it lightly with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice, then maybe add a little feta cheese.
Q: What tips can you offer if someone wants to prepare healthy meals?
Devote a couple hours one day each week to preparing the healthy ingredients so they are ready for quick meals. I trim and cut vegetables and cook meat for three meals and snacks. I try to be as efficient as possible so, for example, I cook all the chicken I may need for those meals at one time. I often use my electric pressure cooker to quickly cook the chicken, then I can easily shred it for the dishes I am preparing.
For fresh herbs I wash the herbs and trim off the bottom portion of the stem. Then stand the herbs up in a glass of water, much as you might stand flowers in a vase, and place it in the refrigerator. I find they last much longer and are ready to use.
I also recommend using a food processor to grate, chop and mix.
Q: What recipe are you sharing?
Zucchini Enchiladas combine zucchini and chicken in a great tasting dish that is perfect this time of year when zucchini are plentiful. It makes more chicken and sauce mixture than needed, so I use about half for this recipe and freeze the remainder to use another time.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
½ tablespoon avocado oil
2 to 3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced and a few spoonfuls of sauce, to taste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1¼ cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (see tip below)
3 large zucchini, not peeled
1/2 cup grated queso oaxaca, or shredded Mexican blend cheese
Topping options: Sliced jalapeno, lime zest or juice, chopped avocado, minced cilantro, Greek yogurt, sour cream, queso freso or salsa
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine garlic and onion and pulse until finely minced (or mince by hand).
Add avocado oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic-onion mixture for about 4 minutes or until onions begin to soften and become translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add chilies, adobo sauce, tomatoes, broth, cumin, chili powder and salt to the garlic and onions in the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes, until thickened. Taste and add salt, seasonings or adobo sauce as desired.
Once the sauce is thickened and seasoned to your liking, stir in the chicken.
To make zucchini ribbons, cut both ends off of the zucchini, and use a mandolin or vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini very thinly lengthwise. The strips should be thin enough to be very flexible and not break when gently bent.
Place three slices of zucchini, making sure to overlap each slice in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Place 2 large spoonfuls of the shredded chicken-sauce mixture at the bottom of the zucchini slices. Add a small handful of the grated cheese. Tightly roll the zucchini up over the chicken and cheese. Arrange the zucchini rolls in rows and place so that the loose ends of the zucchini are under the roll to prevent it from unraveling while baking. (If you have chicken-sauce mixture left, freeze it for use another time.)
Repeat with the remaining zucchini strips until the dish is filled with enchilada rolls packed in tightly. Spoon more enchilada sauce over the top of the rolls. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
Once the enchiladas are cooked, remove from the oven. If there is a lot of excess liquid at the bottom of the dish, use a baster to remove it and discard. Allow enchiladas to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Top with your favorite toppings.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over fourteen cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com