Thursday, June 11, 2009

summer grillin’ and chillin’

clip_image002I absolutely love the summer time, especially for all its nutrient-dense produce in season. . . sweet fruits, a little relaxation and plenty of sunshine gets me excited to jump in the kitchen (or backyard) and put together refreshing recipes to savor the season. In the winter time I love making soups, stews and anything I can throw in the crock-pot because it’s so easy, but during the summer, especially with the 100+ degree weather here in Vegas, it’s hard not to want to eat anything but smoothies. The grill or grill pan can be a great friend because it can be really easy to marinate anything from chicken, pork, veggies, etc and throw it on the grill for a quick meal. I’m also a big fan of contrasting flavors and textures. Pairing sweet, savory and slightly spicy flavors makes my mouth sing. That is why I really enjoy this summer recipe of Jerk Chicken with mango salsa. It’s the perfect recipe for summer grillin’ and chillin’ in the backyard with a nice frosty margarita. Enjoy!

I did a post awhile ago regarding nutrition fact labels in restaurants.  Here is a recent statement from the ADA and I would have to agree!  I think this is so important for the future health of everyone, including myself.  Even though I know what to look for when it comes to eating out, there are times when I’m eating that oh so delicious restaurant meal and wonder. . . how much butter did they hide in here to make it taste so good?  On the other hand sometimes I just don’t want to know so I can enjoy my indulgent meal in moderation.  If I did have the counts I would definitely think twice!  But of course labels will be worthless without a foundation of nutrition education, so that consumers can understand the important information presented to them.

"The American Dietetic Association is a strong advocate for policies that will improve the lives of Americans through food and nutrition strategies. There is no goal more important in the current debate over health reform than to have a lasting, positive impact on all Americans' health. Nutrition is at the foundation of health - necessary to be healthy and effective in preventing delaying, offsetting and managing disease. We support policies that facilitate good nutrition, including consumer-tested nutrition information and education and financial support for research.


"We see the inclusion of restaurant menu labeling provisions in health reform appropriate to achieving that goal. People need scientifically valid and understandable nutrition information to make healthful choices in all venues, including restaurants. Providing good, accurate and tested information to a consumer educated in nutrition basics can have a powerful effect on food selection at the point of sale. Over time, the act of millions of people making healthful choices can impact the health of the nation and improve the food supply by consumer demand.”

What do you think?

~Jamaican Jerk Chicken~

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients: (Many of these steps can be done in advance, it’s kind of a long one!)

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tsp lime rind 
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pound fairly thin so they are not too thick)

Place all the chicken ingredients in a zippy bag and marinate this mixture at least 2 hours in the fridge, turning occasionally.

For the Sweet Potato base: (Do this while the Chicken is marinating)

Stab 2 large yams/sweet potatoes with a fork, spray lightly with oil or pam and wrap in foil.  Place in a 375-400 F oven for about 1 hour, depending on the size of them.  They will feel very tender when done.

For the Mango Salsa: (Do this while the sweet potatoes are baking, close to eating time)

  • 1 tsp finely diced jalapeno (you can add more if you like it hot)
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ to ½ English cucumber, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup non-fat greek yogurt

Mix all the salsa ingredients together and place in fridge until ready to plate. 

Time to Grill the Chicken:

Prepare the grill.  Grease grill with canola oil to keep the chicken from sticking.  For great grill marks place chicken on grill for 3-5 minutes, turn chicken about 35 degrees and cook another 3-5 minutes on the same side.  Baste chicken with the extra marinade.  Turn chicken over and repeat on the other side.  Total cooking time, depending on the thickness, should be about 12-20 minutes.  Instant Thermometer should read about 160 in the thickest part.  Let chicken rest 5 minutes covered with foil when done.

For the Presentation:

Cut the sweet potato in half widthwise then in half again lengthwise and fan open ½ the potato on the plate, place about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa mixture over the sweet potato, slice chicken thinly and fan slices on top.  Dollop with more Greek yogurt, lime slice, and sprig of fresh cilantro.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. It’s a flavor explosion in the mouth, yum!


What’s your favorite recipe or drink of summer?


Chow and Chatter said...

looks amazing wow must get hot in vegas!

Anonymous said...

in the summer, less cooking is better, just love FRESH fruits! opinion on that article with nutrtion labels in restaurants is that I agree ADA should regulate the nutrition of restaurant dishes, but it should be flashed into the faces of customers. honestly, sometimes a little indulgence is perfectly ok and I don't want to be constantly reminded that the pasta I'm eating is 1200kcal. And also, most of it is common sense. Fried chicken obviously is not good for a low-cal diet, and those who care abt such things are already aware of the rough nutritional value of a dish.

Emily said...

I love summer for the same reason...all the fresh fruits and vegetables are gladly welcomed back after a long and boring winter.

I think labeling is a good idea and that a lot of people will be shocked to find out just how many calories they're eating in a typical entree. On the other hand, I know what you mean about wanting to just enjoy a meal without looking at labels!

Gina said...

Great sounding recipe, and it looks great too. Did you put it on the plate? It looks like a restaurant did it! As for the nutrition facts at restaurants, I agree that it should be mainstream. OF course there are always those people who just don't care,but I think more and more people care each day! MY favorite drink in the summer is probably a margarita, on the ricks with salt! Or one of my delicious fruit smoothies :)

Anonymous said...

Great recipe Kristen!

Definitely not the healthiest- but my favorite summer drink is pina colada- I love to have a few on vacation- that means summer to me!

kristen :) said...

Great comments, thank you!

burpandslurp- I would agree with you too, they should be available, but it shouldn't be flashed in their faces *1200kcals* because that could not be good for younger age groups and other body image aspects. Very tough issue, even if it is 'hidden' Maybe they shouldn't emphasize the calories, but more about it's nutritional qualities, but again consumers would have to be educated to understand.

kristen :) said...

Gina - yes I did plate this! I love working with plate presentation and even thought about food styling. I would love to go to culinary school someday! Now if I could just get a better camera . . .

kristen :) said...

Gina- yep I did plate it, kind of crazy! I love plate presentation and thought about going into food styling. I would love to go to culinary school someday! Now, if I could just get a better camera . . .

Astra Libris said...

I am SO excited about trying your jerk chicken recipe!! It looks absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for the great recipe!!

Three cheers for nutrition facts labeling in restaurants, too!

Thinspired said...

I know what you mean that sometimes ignornance is bliss, but overall I would really appreciate menu labeling, and I think it would help a lot of people out there. I forget that there are some people who truly don't know that say, fettuccini alfredo is an indulgence and not an everyday thing! I think overall the benefits would outweigh the negatives. Thanks for posting the link to the statement.