These recipes originally appear in the February 2023 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
It’s already February, and I was wondering how those lofty goals you set on January 1st are coming along? I’m asking because I’ve always struggled a bit with my New Year’s resolutions. Let’s just say I’ve been an enthusiastic goal setter with lousy follow-through. Then last year someone suggested a book titled Atomic Habits. I was intrigued from the get-go when author, James Clear, offers, “If you’re unsuccessful in reaching your goals the problem isn’t you, it’s your system.” Wait … I’m not to blame?
Last year I decided to make small changes in my eating habits and overall health by simply removing the sugar and grain from my diet and adding a robust workout regimen. You see, I have a milestone birthday coming up this month, and on top of that our son is getting married later in the year. Needless to say, I have all the motivation I need to change some habits in order to get a little closer to my best self.
The problem is most of us make a few changes but fail to see results, then we stop in frustration. In Atomic Habits, Clear suggests we make tiny changes to realize marginal gains over time, which produce big results. He then writes that when we decide who we want to be, we should prove it to ourselves every day with small wins because our habits shape our identity, and our identity shapes our habits.
I’ll buy that, but how can I do that from a practical standpoint?
I needed to make the habit-changing opportunities more obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. I also noticed many of the habits I wanted to change involved my kitchen. From a trimmer waistline and increased health, to desiring more time around the table with my husband and family, the habits I needed to change most were right there.
Here’s a habit I’ve recently broken: I used to run out the door to a meeting and end up eating snacks the office graciously provided — a bag of gourmet chips, a bakery-fresh cookie. Sure, they’re delicious, but now I see them as a roadblock to a healthier lifestyle. Instead, I now prepare fresh veggie packs of sliced peppers and hummus in easy to grab containers placed in an obvious spot in the fridge for after-meeting nibbles. Obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
As to wanting more time around the table, I set the table for dinner as I unload the dishwasher in the morning, and as often as possible I set out the recipe, dry ingredients, and tools for the meal on a cutting board. When I arrive back home, I’m not faced with what’s for dinner or tempted to go out for a high calorie meal.
So, if your aim this new year is better health or more time around the table with your family, you might look to get in the habit of changing your habits. Start with these easy and satisfying recipes that cut out the sugar and grains.
This year, don’t fear your resolutions, instead cheer them on and give yourself the gift of a better you.
Chicken and Broccoli Frittata | Makes 8 servings
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. half and half
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
3 scallions, chopped
1 c. cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1/2 c. gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, and onion and cook for about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and cook two more minutes or until the vegetables are tender. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, and parmesan cheese and set aside. To the skillet, add butter, scallions, and chicken. Sauté for one minute, arranging the vegetables evenly in the pan. Turn the skillet to medium low and add egg mixture to the skillet. Cook for two minutes without stirring. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until set in the middle. Sprinkle with gruyere cheese and bake for three more minutes or until melted. Cut into eight wedges and serve hot.
Tip from Laura:
Serve with a side salad of spring mix tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Tri-Colored Pepper Boats | Makes 6 servings
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. white onion (diced)
1 small purple onion (diced)
3 green bell peppers, seeded and one diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 c. marinara sauce
1 c. mozzarella cheese (shredded)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot over medium high heat, add four cups of water and bring to a boil. Next, in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat add oil, diced onions, and one diced green pepper. Cook for about three minutes. Add the sausage and the ground beef to the skillet, breaking apart and combining the meats. Add salt and pepper and cook for about six minutes. Add the marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then turn heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, prepare the peppers. Slice them down the middle from the stem to the bottom. Take the stem off, carefully removing the seeds as this will be the vessel for the meat mixture. Place six pepper halves in boiling water for about two minutes. Remove with tongs and arrange in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill the peppers fully with meat mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve pepper halves with a tossed salad.
Pork Chops with Apple, Fennel, and Lemon | Makes 4 servings
4 (6 oz.) bone-in pork chops (about ½-inch thick)
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large fennel bulb (rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch strips)
1 red delicious apple, cut into wedges
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 whole garlic cloves
1 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Generously season pork chops with salt and pepper. Add oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook pork chops until lightly browned (about two minutes per side), then transfer chops to a plate. Add fennel, apple, and onions to the skillet and cook for about three minutes. Add broth and lemon juice, then turn down heat to a simmer. Allow fennel and apples to cook through until tender but still crisp and liquid to reduce (about five-eight minutes). Add pork chops back to the pan and heat through, about two more minutes. Serve chops atop a bed of fennel, onion, and apples, then garnish with chopped parsley and a dollop of Dijon mustard.
Tip from Laura:
For enhanced mustard flavor, add the Dijon with the lemon juice while the apple mixture is sautéing.