Healthy food can taste good. Really good. Case in point: this one-skillet dish that has become a family favorite for us.
Zack found it on Twitter, from the Beach Body website (here). He challenged, I accepted.
Of course, as is usually the case with recreating an American recipe in Norway, I made some modifications.
It all starts with the sweet potatoes. A food that made me gag as a child has now become a favorite in my quest for mixing it up when trying to cook healthy.
Two potatoes, ready for baking
And the rest of the ingredients, sitting and waiting while the potatoes bake. I used ground chicken instead of chicken breasts, and I was very pleased with the results.
I also have quite an assortment when it comes to spices. Sage brought from the states. Pepper from Norway. Paprika purchased in Germany. And Hawaiaan sea salt that was a gift from some Norwegian friends. Also included: apples, raisins, red onion, and olive oil.
Apples and onions. With a little OO. Yum.
Chicken, raisins, and spices.
Toss that all together.
Throw it all back in the skillet with the diced sweet potatoes, and let it brown a bit. Then get ready to devour it.
Yeah, you can thank me later.
Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato & Apples
3 teaspoons Olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 apples – recipe called for cooking apples, I used what was on hand: Gala – cored, diced (the menu said peeled – I did not peel them)
2 cups cubed baked sweet potato (I baked two medium sweet potatoes)
¼ cup raisins
400 grams (@1 lb) ground chicken
1 tsp. dried sage
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. paprika
Bake the sweet potatoes. (Oven is always best, but use the microwave if you must)
Remove from oven. Cool slightly, remove skin, and cut into cubes
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook chicken, using a little bit of the seasonings listed above (I ended up using more paprika & sage than the recipe suggested). Place in a large bowl.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the skillet.
Add onion and apples; cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until mixture begins to brown. Place in bowl with chicken.
Add all other ingredients in the bowl; mix well.
Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add mixture, pat into an even layer in pan; cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Stir gently; cook an additional 2 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Serve immediately.
Yeah, yeah. It’s really more of a mediterranean or Middle Eastern food. But I don’t think it is possible to drive through a city in Norway – regardless of the size – and not find at least one kebab restaurant. It is like the national fast food of this country.It is also one of the cheaper restaurant options. It’s usually available fairly quickly (prepared to order, but doesn’t take long), and typically at a counter service establishment. It isn’t the healthiest food, but from time to time I find I must indulge! The meat is typically lamb, but many restaurants offer a chicken option, as well as some beef or blend options.
The lamb is often cooked on a large upright spit. In that case, the meat is shaved from the spit. At other restaurants it is chopped.
Daniel prefers kebab i pita: a warm pita filled with lettuce, meat, and other toppings like onions, corn, tomatoes, cucumber and sauce. We all like kebab tallerken as well. It has all the stuff you would find in a pita, but spread over a bed of French fries.
Used in a sentence
Det er min mening at man ikke har vært i Norge før man har prøvd kebab.
(It is my opinion that you haven’t been to Norway until you’ve tried kebab.)
kjøtt – meat
tallerken – plate/platter
salat – lettuce
løk – onion
agurk – cucumber
sterk – spicy
The Five Healthiest Foods in Norway (original post here) – carrots came in at number one.Carrots are fairly inexpensive here. And very common, as are most root vegetables. I often have a big bag of carrots in the fridge. I use them in soups and stir fry, and last week I made carrot apple bread (it was really good! – I found the recipe HERE via Pinterest).
I’ve had a lot of Pinterest success stories lately – I really should start sharing them more often! In the meantime, feel free to visit and follow my Pinterest board “Pinterest Success.”
The NRK article stated that everyone likes carrots, both raw and cooked. I am afraid I must disagree. I can handle them cooked in things, but I have a difficult time eating raw carrots (unless they’re covered in dip or humus!). I really want to find more ways to prepare them since they are so good for you. So if you have any favorite recipes involving carrots, I would love to hear about them!
Used in a sentence
Jeg trenger to gulrøtter for suppe.
(I need two carrots for the soup.)
grønnsaker – vegetables
fiber – fiber
vitaminer – vitamins
rot grønnsaker – root vegetables
The Five Healthiest Foods in Norway (original post here) – at number two was mackerel in tomato sauce. (And hooray – Zack is writing today!…)
Would you eat a food if the nickname for it was “plane crash”? Yeah, me neither. I grew up seeing my dad eat sardines from time to time when we were fishing or hunting, but I think mostly his reason for doing it was to try and gross me out. Probably the same reason why he would eat raw chicken liver when we were fishing for catfish.
Anyway. Plane Crash or mackerel in tomato sauce. Sounds delightful. And with a shelf life of just over a decade, why not??
I was not much of a fish eater when we lived in the US. I ate some fresh water fish that dad caught and then salmon and tuna from time to time. I had to make some adjustments to my diet when we moved here because people (most people) eat a lot of fish. Beef and chicken are crazy expensive, and we found cod and salmon to be quite reasonable.
The day after our first Norwegian constitution day here, we went on a weekend cabin trip with some friends. We stopped on the way and bought some food to share over the long weekend. My friend K bought some mackerel in tomato sauce and brought it along.
Let me set the stage. It was hot by Norwegian standards, probably low 80’s and we had been hiking most of the day. We are in an awesome cabin that was very rustic in many ways. It did have a toilet, but the toilet (poop, bæsj, crap- whatever you want to call it) basically went through the floor and into the woods outside. To help cover the odor, you put bark and soil over the top of it to “flush”. It worked great and we had no problems at all, IF the rules were followed.
The first – and possibly most important – rule was to keep the door closed. Well, D and W apparently did not really remember that rule too well and we had just sat down to lunch. My friend K opened the can of “plane crash” and smeared some on a piece of whole wheat bread. He offered some to the boys and to Jenn and me as well. The boys loved it and asked for more. Jenn declined politely refused, and I took a piece.
Just before I put the piece of bread with the fishy tomato sauce smeared on top, a gentle breeze blew outside, coming up through the toilet and through the door that one of my little guys had left open. It went right up my nose and felt like it punched me in the face.
I went ahead and put the bread in my mouth and took a bite. My first thought was, I’m gonna hurl! I silently asked Jesus to help me swallow this food and he did. I am not very good at hiding what I am feeling or thinking, so they knew I didn’t like it. After some good natured teasing and ripping, it died down and I was able to finish eating. K did however send D to shut the bathroom door, for which we were all thankful.
Fast forward about 1.5 years later with some small intervals of teasing from my friends about mackerel in tomato sauce and I am now eating it. I eat it once or twice a week. How did this happen? I will explain.
I was at a leadership conference in Kristiansand (south of Norway) last year and I saw a guy whom I consider to be in really good health and in good shape eating “plane crash” for breakfast. Mental note number one.
I heard a commercial on the radio where the mom was talking about healthy food and she was talking about mackerel in tomato sauce, but she had to speak English because she didn’t want the daughter to understand and know that she was eating something so delicious and was so good for her. She then switches to German when the older son comes in (because he’s school age so he would of course already be learning English!). Mental note number two.
My family has a history of heart problems and strokes. I know taking care of myself is very important. Fatty fish is good for your heart, memory, skin and also helps with seasonal affective disorder. I decided to give it another try. I bought a can of mackerel in tomato sauce and brought it home. I opened it up and put it on a slice of bread and it wasn’t bad at all. I continued to eat it, but just out of the can with no bread and I REALLY liked it.
So now, at least 2-3 times a week I eat a can of makrell i tomat (Norwegian). I like it a lot and it is great to take with you on a hike, in the car, to a meeting, when your wife has surgery and you are at the hospital all day and just for a snack before going skiing or something when you need some quick energy.
(Here are a few TV commercials about mackerel in tomato sauce, based on a song ‘tre små fisk‘)
Makrell i tomat
(noun) Mackerel in tomato sauce.Related Words
fettsyrer – fatty acids
fisk – fish
sunn/sunt – healthy
tre små fisk – three small fish
The Five Healthiest Foods in Norway (original post here) – at number three was oatmeal.
The nutritionists that participated in the study encouraged the importance of whole grains. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, vitamin B, iron and other important minerals. (I also like the way it leaves you feeling full for quite a while.)We eat quite a bit of oatmeal. I probably cook it an average of three times every week for breakfast. I use it when making multigrain bread. And it is a major component of the granola I make as well. The boys love it, especially with a bit of jam mixed in.
It seems the majority of people eat oatmeal with something sweet added, whether it be fruit, jam, or cinnamon and sugar. I am a bit odd in that I prefer mine with butter, a splash of milk, and a little salt. I blame it on my mom; that’s how she gave it to me when I was growing up. So sweet oatmeal is really weird to me!
Used in a sentence
Vi spiser havregryn omtrent tre ganger hver uke.
(We eat oatmeal about three times each week.)
havre – oats
fullkorn – wholegrain
grøt – porridge
jern – iron
The Five Healthiest Foods in Norway (original post here) – at number four was blueberries.
Homemade blueberry muffins, made
from the berries the boys picked in
the mountains on a hiking trip
Berries are quite popular here. And berry-picking trips are popular in the summertime. Last summer, the boys enjoyed picking lots of blueberries while we were hiking in the mountains.
We all like blueberries. Sometime alone, other times in a fruit salad or smoothie, and occasionally in a treat like muffins.
The NRK article’s nutritionists appreciated the antioxidants in blueberries. They were concerned that people do not eat enough berries, and also focused on the importance of ‘five a day.’ Furthermore, they liked that picking the berries yourself means additional physical activity!
Used in a sentence
Guttene plukket blåbær og vi laget muffins.
(The boys picked blueberries and we made muffins.)
bær – berry/berries
antioksidanter – antioxidants
The Five Healthiest Foods in Norway (original post here) – at number five was milk.The article explained that is the best source of calcium in Norway, and also a good source of iodine. We typically buy Ekstra Lett Melk because it has added Vitamin D – especially important in the dark winter months! (Eskstra Lett also has less saturated fat.)
We really like the milk in Norway. It is refrigerated! Sounds strange to some of you maybe, but in Ukraine we learned that this is not always the case. Yeah, unrefrigerated milk was kind of strange to me!Price
There are two brands we can choose from: Tine Melk or Q-Melk. Most of the time we buy Tine, mainly because I have better luck finding the kind I prefer in the 1.75 liter carton instead of the 1 liter that seems to vanish as soon as it is opened.
The 1.75 liter costs a minimum of 21.90 Norwegian kroner. Our current conversion rate is quite favorable for us (not for Norwegians traveling to America!), so that is currently around $2.90 for 1.75 liters. That is the equivalent of about $6.24 per gallon (about double the price of a gallon in Georgia!)
We are occasionally able to find it marked down for as much as 50% off due to only a couple of days left on the expiration date. But the boys love milk, and we use it in a lot of recipes, so a short date is no problem!
Tine changes their packaging at Christmas and Easter. For the majority of the year, the photos on the cartons show scenes from the dairies located in your region. But at Christmas the nisser (the little trolls/elves) show up. And at Easter, Tine pays homage to the Norwegian tradition of Påskekrim – Easter crime novels* – by including mystery-based comic strips on the boxes.
Our boys love Pop Tarts. And I have to admit, they are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me as well.
Growing up, you could almost always find them in our pantry. Okay, not really. What we typically had were generic ‘Toaster Pastries’. You know, the store brand knock-off that came without frosting, and often with at least one major fracture, if not totally crumbled. Yeah yeah, I gripe, but we certainly ate them!
I know the boys enjoy them, but a couple of things keep us from having many on hand. First is the artificial stuff. I am really trying to reduce the amount of artificial stuff we eat. I won’t totally eliminate it, but less is better, right?
But the bigger reason is the price. I’ve only found one store in Norway that carries them. And since they are an import item, they come with the hefty price tag of around $10-11 per 8-count box. So I won’t be picking them up anytime soon. Yeah, there are some things you will pay a high price for to have a taste of home. [Like white cheese jalapeño dip – which I have yet to find anywhere.] But Pop Tarts are not on that list!
We are grateful to friends and family who’ve brought Pop Tarts to the boys when they’ve visited us. The boys always ration them out, saving them for weekends and special days. But I now have a solution that keeps my boys happy, saves me money, and keeps the artificial stuff and preservatives out of their tummies!
I attempted homemade strawberry Pop Tarts yesterday. And while I still need to perfect the process, I am quite pleased with how the first batch turned out. Like the generic wannabes, they lack frosting. But unlike any of the boxed treats, they have nothing fake and I can feel a little better about them!
The boys each had one with their breakfast this morning. No mention of no frosting, only “wow, these taste like Pop Tarts!”
Thanks to the Smitten Kitchen – fantastic recipe that does not call for any ingredients that are unavailable in Norway!! You can find the recipe HERE.
I would imagine you have a room, activity or place that is your go-to when you need to unwind or decompress. For me, it is the kitchen. Cooking is like therapy for me. I am able to be creative, try new things, and provide for my family. I can work out frustrations, think things through, or maybe even disconnect and zone out a bit while mixing, kneading, chopping, and mixing. I also love being in there with any one of my three guys. And I love trying out new tools and gadgets, too.
This is my new best friend in the kitchen. I love this versatile – and rather inexpensive – gadget. We bought it last week, and so far I’ve had quite a few success. I created some restaurant-style salsa, made creamy black bean dip, whipped up eggs for omelettes, and chopped veggies for my tuna salad (in about a quarter of the usual time!). But my favorite thing to make? Peanut butter. Yum! It is so much better than the stuff we can buy here, and cheaper & healthier, too. We are also looking forward to trying our hand at smoothies soon!
I’ve always enjoyed cooking. It’s almost like therapy for me. I like trying new things and getting creative.
In the US, many things are quick and easy. There is almost always some mix, packet, or machine to cut down on preparation time. Not as much here. While you can find some short-cut items, they are less common and seem to be typically saved for hiking or hytte tur (time spent at a cabin).
Aside from that, it is more affordable – and much healthier – to make things yourself. If you will recall, one of my first friends in Sandefjord gave me a critical lesson in Norwegian baking (see that post HERE). It was a great way to spend time together, and to learn the recipe that is used as the base for many Norwegian baked goods.
My newest from-scratch item is bread. We were buying loaves of bread at the store. We bought the cheapest bread, a store-brand Kneipp. But it lacked flavor and the texture was not great. Norwegian grocery stores have other loaves that are really good, but fairly expensive. So I decided to strike out and find a good, healthy, and easy bread recipe.
I came across a recipe on Pinterest for peasant bread. It is a no-knead recipe that you can bake in a bowl, a loaf pan, muffin tin, or as freeform rolls. I switch around with the types of flour (usually a blend), and sometimes add some seeds or herbs.
And now that I’ve started, I doubt my family will want to go back!
Other homemade items I make include lots of soups (this is typically based on whatever is in the cabinet), pizza dough, flour tortillas, waffles, and pastries.