Lighten up

Pictured is Amy's recipe for a Mediterranean Salad.

It’s a new year and it’s time to lighten up. To “lighten up” suggests a couple of different connotations; one of the meanings focuses on a person’s food intake, and another definition refers to someone who needs an “attitude adjustment.” If you are ready to lighten up physically, then fix some less fattening meals and start a new exercise routine. If your mental well-being calls for some lightening up, try yoga or reading, or maybe turning over a new leaf would be helpful in the year ahead. This could be a great time to start that new hobby you keep putting off, or maybe you need to reach out to a friend you lost contact with years ago. Look for ways to lighten up. Lighten up your caloric intake for a while and, at the same time, find a reason to be less doomsday and, instead, choose to be more cheerful and optimistic. In the food area, why not try some lighter versions of chicken soup or seasoned vegetables? Take a big chill pill, turn off the nightly news, lay down some of those burdens, and pick up a cooking pan and, I promise, these recipes will help to lighten your load!

Organic Chicken Soup

• 1 ½ lbs. boneless fresh chicken breasts

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 8 cups fat-free chicken broth

• 2 cups thinly sliced organic carrots

• 3 cups broccoli florets

• 1 (15 oz.) can organic sweet peas, drained

• 2 cups celery, chopped

• 4 garlic cloves, minced

• 3 TBSP. parsley

• 1 TBSP. apple cider vinegar

• ¼ tsp. turmeric

• ½ tsp. crushed red pepper

• 1 ½ tsp. sea salt

• 2 ½ TBSP. olive oil

Coarse ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté in olive oil the chopped onion, celery, and garlic for 6 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, chicken broth, carrots, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, crushed red pepper, and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and let rest on a cutting board. Add the broccoli, parsley, and black pepper to the pot; simmer until the broccoli is softened. Stir in the peas. Shred the chicken with two forks and add to the soup pot. Once the broccoli and peas are tender, add extra seasonings as needed and serve.

Mediterranean Salad

• 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well

• 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained well

• ½ cup red onion, diced

• 1 cup cucumber, diced

• 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

• ½ cup small black olives, pitted

• ½ cup green olives, sliced in half

• ¼ cup fresh parsley

• ½ cup olive oil

• ¼ cup red wine vinegar

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

• ½ TBSP. lemon zest

• Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

In a large bowl with a lid, toss together the chickpeas, black beans, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and parsley until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest together until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss; place in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.

Roasted Cauliflower

• 1 head cauliflower, rinse and cut off into small florets

• ¼ cup olive oil

• 1 ½ tsp. paprika

• 1 tsp. onion powder

• 1 tsp. garlic powder

• ¼ tsp. chili powder

• ½ tsp. cumin

• ¼ tsp. pepper

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. garlic powder

• ½ tsp. Cajun seasoning

Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil; add all of the other ingredients and toss to coat. Spread cauliflower evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned; stir once or twice during the roasting process. One head of cauliflower yields 4-6 cups florets.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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