Tuesday, December 30, 2008

may i direct your attention to...

Hello friends!  As most of you, I have been happily busy enjoying time with family and friends over the holidays.  Blogging has taken the back burner, but I have been thinking up some healthy and tasty treats that I will bring in the new year.  Another day of indulgence, right?  (In moderation, of course).

I wanted to point you in the direction of some really great recipes I've run across lately.

First, I'd urge you to try this locro soup.  I spent several months in Ecuador when I was in college, and I practically lived off of this stuff.  I was a vegetarian at the time, and that didn't seem to translate there, but this soup was a staple.  It's a creamy, delicious potato soup - and it is healthy, too.  I like to use yellow potatoes and top it off with a little reduced fat feta and sliced avocado. The recipe calls for achiote powder, but feel free to substitute paprika.  It really is worth a try!

Secondly, the CrockPot Lady saves the day again!  I made a batch of her chicken and rice the other night - and it was absolutely delicious.  I wanted an easy, healthy, tasty meal, and that's what we got. If you still haven't taken to brown rice, don't worry - it cooks up perfectly tender. And say goodbye to cream-of-whatever soups in this version - you make your own, and it comes together in a snap! *Just a note from me: it needs some salt, and I threw the chicken breasts in frozen, under the rice, and they cooked in under 4 hours on high.

I wish you all an enjoyable, safe, and happy new year!  Bring on 2009!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

a new take on chicken noodle soup

It is cooooold outside.  The ground is covered in beautiful, sparkly snow and I am house bound while my husband is off rescuing people who couldn't drive in the snow. He is such a good man.

I thought I'd whip up some soup while he is away so that he has something warm and hearty to come home to.  I found a recipe on my favorite recipe site and changed it up a bit, using what I have on hand and making it a bit healthier.  I think you're gonna like it.  And if you don't, don't tell me.

© One Healthy Mama 2008
Chicken Vegetable Ravioli Soup
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrot
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth (I used 2 cups of my chicken stock + 2 cups water)
1 cup dried cheese ravioli
1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes
2 med. zucchini, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2-2 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in oil 'til just tender.
Add carrot and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil. 
Add ravioli and reduce heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, zucchini and basil.  Simmer until vegetables and ravioli are tender.
Add chicken and parsley 5 minutes before serving (this way it doesn't dry out, as can happen with chicken breast in soup).

If you want, sprinkle with a little parmesan and serve.  Healthy, hearty - and it'll warm you right up!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

look what i made!

This is a proud moment. While I love to cook, I am just getting my feet wet as a baker.  (Maybe I shouldn't talk about feet and baked goods at the same time.  Sorry). Anyway, as a tribute to my recent jaunt to New York,  I tried my hand at bagels today. And I was pretty pleased with the results.  

If any of you are interested, here is the recipe I used. The only thing that I did differently was substituting half of the white flour with whole wheat. They turned out great! 

If you want to make them "everything" bagels like I did, just sprinkle the top with poppy and sesame seeds, diced onion and garlic and just a touch of kosher salt.  I actually toasted my onion and garlic before baking, but I don't really think you need to.  

And I wanna know - have you made bagels before?  What'd you put in them?  I'd love tips and ideas.  They take a little time, but they're worth it - I am looking forward to more experimenting!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

one of my most favorite foods

My experimenting was postponed.  Busy schedules, changed plans and snow storms intervened.  I promise a new and interesting recipe this week.  In the meantime, how about an old classic?  At least it is in my family.  This recipe is simple and quick to come together, and sure to please a crowd.  And I have loved it since I was a little kid, requesting it on every birthday.  Now that I am all grown up, I make it at least once a month.  

This meat sauce cooks all day in the crock pot.  We usually top off a big pile of spaghetti with it, but it's great in lasagna, atop ravioli, over grilled eggplant - whatever your heart desires.  And please don't be scared off by ground beef.  I use the leanest kind you can find (you can, of course, use ground turkey, but it's actually not that much better for you - they grind the skin and fat right in).   This rich, thick sauce is low in fat and extremely high in antioxidants (hello, tomatoes!).  It'll do your body good, and it'll make a cold day comfy.

Here's what you need:
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32oz. can stewed tomatoes
2 6oz. cans tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh parsley 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onion and garlic.  
Drain fat.  
Add meat mixture to the crock pot, along with the rest of your ingredients.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
How easy is that?

Try it, love it, pass it on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

it's been awhile, folks.

Hello friends!  I just got back from four glorious days in New York with some good college friends.  It was days of eating good food and feeling just fine about it because we walked everywhere.  Definitely got in those 10,000 steps!  

I promise you a good recipe coming right up.  I was inspired by a few things I saw on my flight (six hours with directTV = a lot of the Food Network), so I am going to experiment tomorrow.  I'll letchya know how it goes.  In the mean time, hope you all are enjoying the wonder of the season!  Peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

green bean casserole minus the soup

I love green bean casserole.  We didn't have it for Thanksgiving this year as we had about a million other things, so I am holding out for Christmas.  I made some this week, and the recipe was inspired by my friend, Sample Lady, at Trader Joe's.  I love that place.  

This dish has fewer calories and less sodium and no weird ingredients from canned soup (not that I can really bag on the stuff, because the original is so darn tasty).  But this is a very, very good alternative.  Really, you should try it.  Really.

OHM's Green Beans

© One Healthy Mama 2008
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed  (you can use frozen if you'd like)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup canned fried onions (I used TJ's and they don't have any weird chemicals either, but use what you can)

Put your beans in a pan and cover with water.  Add a dash of salt. 
Simmer for 5-7 minutes, 'til tender-crisp; drain.
In a baking dish (I used my pie plate), toss with cheese, almonds and onions.
Cover and bake for about 15 minutes at 350.
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and voila!

I promise this is good.  All those textures and flavors together give you a nice fresh alternative to the ol' standby.  Give 'er a go!

Monday, December 1, 2008

merry SITSmas!

For those of you who don't know, there is a great blog out there called The Secret is in the Sauce - it's a community of bloggers who have a lot of great stuff to say, cute creations to share, and alotta love to give.  And all day Tuesday they are doing giveaways in the spirit of Christmas (every hour!!  grand prize: target gift card. oh yeah.).  Gotta love it.

This is my cute little elf last Christmas.  Oh man, I love him.  And I love this time of year.  It doesn't get any better than December.  A time to be thankful for our abundant blessings.  A time to for appreciate small joys (lights, hot chocolate, Christmas music) and huge gifts (a loving family, a roof over our heads).  

I hope this season finds you full of love and joy and a deep gratitude for all that we've been given.  Peace be with each of you this day and every day!

Much love,

do you wanna win?

Who doesn't want to win something?  Well, if you have a blog and you want to be in the running for 200 bucks at Target (ooooh, I love that place), you might want to look here

Sunday, November 30, 2008

baked oatmeal

I don't know if you all have heard about the CrockPot Lady, but her blog is pretty amazing.  She has been making something new in her crock pot every day this year and from what I have seen, it all looks super healthy, and tasty to boot. 

I was browsing through it tonight and came upon this recipe for baked oatmeal,  which I am going to try this week.  As if oatmeal could be any easier, she comes up with a very convenient way to prep it for the week.  And she says it tastes like cookies, so really, how could you go wrong?

Shall we try it together?  Let me know what you think if you do try it.  I know one kid who is going to love it.

12/14/08 update:  LOVE IT!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

exercise of thankfulness

What are you thankful for this year?

here's mine (in no particular order):
sesame street

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Enjoy every moment of today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

holiday mind games

I read a disturbing fact the other day.  On average, we consume an average of 619 extra calories per day between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Yep, that's about seven pounds when it's all said and done. Yowsas.

On a more positive note, I read an article this summer that helped give me a better outlook on how much we eat.  Whenever the author was in front of something she really liked, like brownies, she always (as I do because I am normal) wanted to eat as much as she could.  Then one day she realized it wasn't the last brownie she was ever going to eat (or cookie or chip or slice of pie or beer or...).  That thought made it much easier for her to eat one brownie rather than four (or eight, whatever).  Her thought made so much sense!  

I don't have a lot of willpower.  But from that perspective, it has been a lot easier to have a small portion of whatever it is that is being served.  Studies are starting to show that you can actually train yourself to have willpower by making small daily choices in the right direction.  No better time to put that into practice than this week.  We are about to enter into a world of temptation!

I really believe in moderation.  No, fudge isn't good for you.  But oh man, it sure is good.  And stuffing?  It's not a holiday without it.  So don't deny yourself the pleasure of good food, just remember it's probably not the last time you're going to eat it.  What other tricks can you try to limit the high calorie intake?
  • drink a lot of water.  At least one glass between other beverages, and one full glass before you start snacking.
  • don't be afraid to load up on raw vegetables at the appetizer table.  (but watch the dip)
  • take a walk during halftime (or during the game if you are as bored by it as I can be)
  • grab a seat as far from the snacks as possible
And if all else fails, just get in a good workout (speed shopping, anyone?) on Friday.  

Got any tips or tricks up your sleeve?  Share them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

delicious baked salmon

Warning:  If you have an aversion to mayonnaise, read no further.  I always use light mayo to cut the fat and calories, even though I know it's isn't totally pure in it's ingredients.  I rarely use mayo at all, but I used it for my salmon, so there you go.

Salmon is unbelievably good for you.  It does amazing things for your heart and is one of the best sources of omega-3's that you can get.  If you want to read just how good it is, I found a great article here.  Check it out.  Now, let's get down to business.

This is a super quick and easy way to get delicious salmon that I think even fish-haters would enjoy.  It is so so good.  I got the recipe several years ago from a couple of friends, who happened to be brothers, that were avid fishermen.  So I trusted them with my salmon.  They knew what they were doing!

Creamy Baked Salmon
serves 3
1 lb. fresh salmon (I used atlantic)
1 lemon, sliced in half
1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
salt + freshly ground pepper

Drizzle your pan with just a touch of olive oil.
Place the salmon skin side down in the pan, like this:

Squeeze half of your lemon all over the salmon and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt (I like Kosher) and freshly ground pepper.
Spread mayo all over the top, like this:

(yes, I switched to a pie plate, sorry for the inconsistency)
Now just pop in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until it's light pink and flaky.
Squeeze on the rest of your lemon and voila!

Creamy salmon goodness.  By using light mayo, you're only adding about 15 calories per serving.  With butter, you'd be adding closer to 50-100.  And trust me, this is good.  (And if you're worried, it really tastes nothing like mayonnaise - my husband complimented the "sauce", so you don't even have to tell people what it is).  

Serve this up with some steamed asparagus and some oven fries and you've got a quick, healthy, delicious dinner.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

wholesome homemade chicken stock

I am a reformed vegetarian.  For ten years, I stayed away from the flesh.  But then, one fateful night my love interest enticed me with a chicken burrito.  I ended up marrying him, and have been eating meat ever since.  

Even though that was almost exactly five years ago, I still had a major fear of cooking a whole chicken.  A fear and a fascination. I was determined to cook a whole bird - bones, skin and all.  And this last weekend, I did it - faced that big, pink, bumpy bird right in its decapitated neck.  It kinda grossed me out, but once it was all said and done (and fully cooked), I was proud, satisfied and ready to eat.  I followed this recipe, and it truly was Real Simple.

I can't believe I haven't done this before.  It's so cheap and so delicious - and you can literally use the whole chicken.  The next day I made chicken stock with the leftover carcass (pardon the gross word).   You can do it, too!  Here's how it started:

And here's what you need:
Chicken Stock
1 leftover chicken carcass 
1 large onion
2 stalks celery 
1 large carrot (optional)
fresh parsley (I had a ton in my herb container, you can throw in whatever herbs you prefer)
salt + pepper

Stick the chicken, vegetables (roughly chopped) and parsley in a large stock pot.
Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmering and allow to simmer uncovered for 4-6 hours.
If there is any fat on top, skim it off.
Strain into a container and allow to cool completely before you cover and put in the freezer or refrigerator.  

It'll keep in the fridge for 3 days.  Otherwise, you can put them into individual bags and freeze for later use.  This is what it ended up looking like:

All that cooked down to four little cups of rich chicken goodness.  Perfect for soups, stews, sauces... 

So, if you haven't done it already, you really ought to try it.  A whole chicken for $5 and multiple meals?  Can't beat it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the pantry...

I used to go to the grocery store like five times per week.  I am not kidding.  Sometimes daily.  I am not an organized person by any stretch, but this is one area I needed to get my act together in.  I don't think it happened 'til after my little one was born and I couldn't just "run in" - I had to carry a carseat, which was carrying a baby and then that baby became a toddler... you get the idea.

So I started to think about the basics - the things that should always be in my pantry or freezer or fridge so that I could cook dinner without running out to the store.  Now it's like second nature and I only go to the store once a week, sometimes twice if I really need to.  And I don't make lists!  Well, sometimes I do, but they usually get forgotten in the car.  I am going to share with you my essentials, things that make a healthy meal come together fairly quickly.

beans (black, kidney and cannelini)
canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, sauce, paste, etc.)
rice (jasmine, brown, wild)
whole wheat multigrain bread
tortillas (whole wheat and flour)
low sodium chicken broth
oil (olive and canola)
frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
frozen peas
frozen spinach
frozen fruit (mangoes + various berries)
lots of fruits and veggies

There are a million combos just from that little list.  Tacos, spaghetti, stir fry, fried rice, rice and beans, dirty rice (I love rice, okay?),  soup, smoothies, endless pasta dishes, and on and on... We have other stuff, too - crackers and sauces and everything you need to bake something tasty, but you get the idea.  

So what are your essentials?  The stuff your family can't get enough of?  What is always in your pantry?  Are you a grocery store junkie?  I want to know...

Monday, November 17, 2008

why i am not big on artificial sweeteners

Okay, first let me say that I love diet coke.  And I'll throw a packet of Splenda into something maybe once or twice a month.  But that's where it ends, people.  And the diet coke thing - that's only once a week, at most.  I used to use artificial sweetener daily.  Like multiple times a day.  But those days are in the past.  Let me tell you why.

We've all heard that most artificial sweeteners are bad for us.  And then they came up with Splenda.  And now they sell it in the baking aisle.  So why not?  Well, for one thing it isn't natural.  It is made using chlorine.  Last time I checked, that's not something you want to ingest.  Whole Foods won't even sell it, or anything that contains it (there are 3,500 products on the market with it as an ingredient) because it isn't natural and there have been no long-term studies done to see its effects.  

Secondly, studies are now showing that artificial sweeteners do not yield the same response that natural sugars do.  So when we're craving something sweet and we eat something sugar free, we aren't going to experience a satisfaction for that desire.  In other words, we're still gonna want the chocolate. Plus, there have been no connections between eating and drinking sugar free products and weight loss. 

In short, I won't use it when I bake.  And I am trying not to use it in my drinks.  And I definitely definitely will not let me child eat anything made with it.  And if I don't let him eat it, I probably shouldn't either.  

So, what can we use instead?  I am all about the real deal.  I like to keep things wholesome, even if that means a little sugar.  I try to use evaporated cane juice (organic sugar), but I'm not above a little C&H.  I also use honey, blue agave nectar (it has a lower glycemic index so it prevents a crash), unsweetened applesauce, or mashed banana to make things a bit more nutritious.  Don't be afraid of the real stuff!  Remember, "you can't get somethin' for nothin'" has been quoted by parents the world over for a reason - it's true.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

an award for me? wow, thanks!

Thank you thank you to my friend, The Ordinary Housewife.  She gave me this very special award, and it's my very first!

Now it's my job to pass it on.  I have recently discovered a blog that I think is really cute.  
They have really cute stuff and monthly giveaways.  Check it out!

As part of receiving the award,  I need to list six things I love.
 artsy projects.
my family.
a good magazine.
whenever my kid says something i didn't know he knew how to say.

Enjoy your Sunday - rest, relax, be with people you love.

Friday, November 14, 2008

the 80 calorie cookie

I am pretty excited about this one.  Mostly because I love chocolate chip cookies and I want to justify eating them.  On average, a chocolate chip cookie has about 125 calories.  Some have a lot more, some have a little less.  So maybe it's not an average.  I never liked math.

Anyway, this cookie recipe is easy and chances are your kids won't be able to tell the difference between this one and the butter-laden cookies they're used to.

Don't Feel Guilty Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I like semisweet)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Combine flours, baking soda, and salt.  
Combine sugars, butter and sour cream.  Beat on medium until well blended.  
Add vanilla and egg whites and beat for 1 minute.
Add flour mixture and beat until blended.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoon onto baking sheets (which should be sprayed with Pam since you don't have tons of butter in these babies to keep them from sticking).
Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.  
Cool on pans for a few minutes before transferring them to a rack or plate, or wherever you cool your cookies.
Should make 48 cookies.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

one of our favorite things

Since he was tiny, my kid has loved books.  I don't know if it's the snuggling that accompanies it, the stories, the pictures, our voices... whatever it is, he can sit and listen to four or five books at a time.  We do it everyday before his nap and every evening before he goes to bed.  He is getting to an age where he likes to pick the books out, and has most of them memorized so that he can "read" them to us.  It's little moments like this that completely make my day.

One story in particular is requested almost daily.  It's to the point that he recites parts of it when we're driving because he thinks it's so funny.  And we love it, too.  It is a cute story with great illustrations. 

If you don't already have it, get it.  It is good for toddlers probably through age 5.  

So this is just a time out to remind you to grab some quality time with your kid(s).  They will cherish your undivided attention, and it will bring peace to your day.  Whether it's reading, coloring together, singing, playing a game - give them your all for a little snippet of their day - they'll thank you for it (eventually).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

healthy breakfast = scones?

Yep.  These little babies are good for you.  And they have less calories than the new mini scones they offer at Starbucks.  Seriously, I got one of those, thinking, "Well, it is petite".  Yeah, not so petite in the calorie department.  Anyway, here is a healthy and tasty alternative.  Have them for breakfast, have them for tea, have them whenever - they're good.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten until kinda frothy
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup skim milk

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper (or just spray it with some Pam). 
  • Mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and dried fruit. 
  • Make a well in the center. 
  • Add butter, milk and applesauce to your frothy egg (sorry, I know that sounds a little unpleasant).  
  • Pour into the well, and mix until you have a soft dough. 
  • Pat into two 1/2" thick circles and put them on your cookie sheet. Score 8 wedges into each circle. 
  • Bake 15 minutes until they rise a bit and turn golden. Split them into wedges and serve.  
And be proud of yourself when you eat them!  My kiddo loves these "cones" - I hope yours does, too!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

absolutely the best chili i've ever had.

Not only is this chili low in fat and calories, full of protein, and absolutely delicious, it's also super easy. So pull out the crock pot and get going. You aren't going to regret it.

Chicken Corn Chili
3-4 chicken breasts
24 oz. tub of fresh salsa
2 cloves minced garlic
scant tablespoon chili powder
2 heaping teaspoons cumin
2 cans black beans
2 cans kidney beans
10 oz. bag frozen corn

Put chicken (can still be frozen - even easier!), salsa, garlic and spices in the crock pot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. It pretty much falls apart at this point, and doesn't take much effort. Add remaining ingredients, give it a quick stir, and cook for another 2-3 hours on low. We like to add a dollop of non-fat plain yogurt or sour cream and sprinkle a little cheese on top. This has less than 200 calories per serving and about 2 grams of fat before you add your toppings.

I whipped up a batch of heart healthy cornbread to go with it. I am working on perfecting the recipe, so stay tuned for that addition soon. I even made enchiladas out of the leftovers, using whole wheat tortillas... You can use it for burritos, too.

This has become a staple at our house - let me know how you like it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

10,000 steps

That is the recommended amount we're supposed to take each day. On average, that's about 5 miles. And it means that unless you are on your feet all day long, chances are you are going to have to get in at least 30 minutes of concentrated exercise.

Okay, so there is no scientific data behind it - some woman in Japan came up with the idea as a way to get people up on their feet and get moving. And it isn't a bad one, is it? I mean, the average person walks about 5,000 steps per day, which isn't terrible, but it's only half of what is considered ideal.

I bought a pedometer this week to get an idea of how many steps I am taking. Keep in mind I have a toddler who likes to walk and climb and move and climb and explore and climb. You get the idea. So I figured my steps were up there. Plus, I try to get a little extra movement in there - walking, ellipticalling (did I make that word up?), etc. On a good day, I got to 8,000. On a slow day, I got to 4K. I definitely had to put in the extra mile (literally) at the gym to hit the ten thousand mark.

How many steps do you think you take? What is your goal? Hourly, daily, weekly? What can you do to go a little further each day? Want some ideas?

  • go for a walk (okay, kinda obvious). did you know you burn 20% more calories pushing a stroller?

  • dance with your child. or for your child. mine thinks it's hilarious (as would most witnesses).

  • go shopping. grocery store, farmers market, the mall (most have great play areas), main street - whatever

  • park (much) further from your destination than you normally would. (do you really need to be right near the entrance?)

Now I want to hear your thoughts. What motivates you? What creative things do you do to get moving?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

i promised you chocolate...

Okay, so this might not be classified as "healthy" but it is most definitely healthier than any frosting you are going to find on the shelf. Have you ever read the labels on those little jars? Trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and a bunch of other indecipherable ingredients that don't make me feel very good about putting it in my mouth (though it is incredibly tasty)... So this is my go-to chocolate frosting that is super easy and I promise tastes better than anything in a little plastic tub.

The Best Chocolate Frosting
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
6-7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons butter, softened (not quite to room temperature)
5 tablespoons non-fat evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift sugar and cocoa together and set aside.
Cream butter with electric mixer.
Gradually beat in sugar mixture, alternating with evaporated milk.
Beat in vanilla and continue mixing until fluffy.

Mmmmm... chocolate. It doesn't get any better. See how I made it healthy by putting it on some fruit? But don't be fooled, I ate cake.

Friday, October 31, 2008

coming soon...

My oh my. My computer has been out of country for many days (long silly story). But I have fun recipes coming! Scones, chili, chocolate frosting... Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

did you know?

Did you know that the acidity from a lime or lemon is a natural deodorizer and germ-killer for your wooden cutting boards?   Just slice off the end and rub it around on your board.  It will kill all the gross bacteria that lingers and get rid of any funky garlic/onion smells hanging around. Plus you get that fresh citrus scent!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

want some fries with that?

My kid's newest culinary discovery is french fries.  Since a recent trip to California where we made two stops at In-N-Out, he makes regular requests for fries.  I considered picking some up in the frozen food aisle the other day and then thought to myself, "Why?"  I mean, it takes about 3 minutes to prep your own, so that's what I did.
Here is what you need:
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch strips.
Put them on a cookie sheet and toss with oil, sprinkle with salt
Lay them out all nice and neat, give them their personal space so they can crisp up.
Cook for 12-15 minutes and then flip each of them over with a spatula, and make sure they stay nice and spaced out.  
Put 'em back in for about 10-15 minutes.

Mmmmm....fries.  Or as the kid likes to call them: fwies.
Russet potatoes are high in vitamins C and B6, and are even better for you if you keep the skin on.  Sweet Potatoes can also be prepped this way, and they are definitely a superfood, full of vitamin A and beta carotene.

Either way, you can feel pretty good about this side dish, and they are a snap to prepare!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the best dip ever

 Some people call it Cowboy Caviar, some people call it salsa, some people call it dip.  I just call it amazingly good. Not just because it is really good for you, but because it tastes so good, so fresh, so tasty.  It tastes so tasty?  Anyway, you really should try this as soon as possible.  It's so good you'll probably want to have some on hand all the time.   

Here are your ingredients:

(actually this photo shows how much you need to double it, so just pay attention to the recipe)

1 lb. bag of frozen white corn
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed
2-3 roma tomatoes diced (or 1 15.5 oz. can diced tomatoes)
1 bell pepper, diced (I used orange because it was on sale and it completed my rainbow, but any color will work)
1 large, semi-ripe (still kinda firm, no mush) avocado, diced (optional)
1 4 oz. can jalapenos (optional.  you can also use fresh or pickled)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced  *this was missing from my photo - oopsie.
1/4 cup italian dressing (I like the light balsamic vinaigrette myself)
juice from 1/2 lime
salt to taste (I don't use it because the chips are usually salty enough)

Combine all ingredients and chill for at least an hour to let the flavors kind of meld and marry and get prepared for delighting your palette to no end.

I serve mine with the blue chips because they are better for you than regular old corn chips.  You choose what works for you and yours.  This is so good, you could just use a spoon if the situation was right.  

What makes it so beneficial?  Corn has vitamins B1, B5, folate, and vitamin C.  Black beans have antioxidants and are full of fiber, plus they maintain blood sugar levels.  Tomatoes contain iron, vitamins A and C, potassium, and can seriously reduce the risk of cancer.  Peppers contain more vitamins, plus thiamin, beta carotene and folic acid.  Onions can also reduce your risk for cancer. Even cilantro is known to help control blood sugar and lower cholesterol.  And I've already told you about the avocados. 

So don't just make it because it's so delicious, do it because your body needs you to.
And let me know whatchya think.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

really really healthy (and delicious) soup

  This is an amazing recipe.  I adapted it from a "fat-burning" soup I found on my favorite recipe site - changed it up here and there to our tastes, and I think it was well worth the effort!  (Okay, it didn't take that long, but still.)

This super hearty, vegetable laden, semi-stew is so filling and only has about 170 calories per serving! It's a great lunch and makes about 10 servings, so you can freeze a bunch for later.  Don't be intimidated by the chopping - it took about 30 minutes of prep time.

3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, sliced in half, then sliced into thin strips
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1 head of green cabbage, chopped
3 yellow squash (like zucchini), sliced
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, chopped
1-1.25 lbs ground turkey breast (optional)
1 bottle (1 qt + 14oz) low sodium V-8 juice
32 oz low sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
1 packet onion soup mix
1 28oz. can whole tomatoes
pepper to taste

Don't all those vegetables just make you feel healthier?  Get chopping!
Now brown the turkey with the onions until cooked through.  Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes.  

I know something this good for you doesn't seem like it would be very satisfying, but this is seriously delicious.  And what better time of year for a hot, steamy bowl of soup?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

good for you granola

Granola is packed with hearty, filling, nutritious goodness.  It can also be packed with calories.  I looked at a few recipes, did some tweaking, altered some ingredients and came up with this delicious alternative to the high-fat, expensive stuff in a box.

As usual, you can adjust some things to your liking.  Switch up what nuts/seeds you use, alternate the dried fruit.  Do what you want.  A little of this goes a long way.  One serving is about a 1/2 cup with 230 calories.  Sprinkle it on your yogurt, douse it with milk, warm it up on a cold morning for a hot treat.

4 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flax seed, slightly ground in food processor or blender
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

Preheat your oven to 300 F.  
Mix oats, wheat germ, flax and nuts.  In another bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, applesauce, honey, vanilla and water.
Combine wet and dry ingredients until well coated.
Spray 2 9X13" pans with cooking spray and divide mixture evenly.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Once the granola has cooled a bit, add in cranberries and apricots and keep in an airtight container.  Makes about 18 servings.

This is a fiber-rich, protein packed, hunger-curbing breakfast that will keep you going all morning.  Did you know cinnamon naturally keeps your blood sugar from crashing?  And the flax seed has omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy heart, clearer thinking, and beautiful skin.  Every ingredient does something good for your body - and how fun is it to say you made it yourself?

i've been tagged.

Thanks to The Ordinary Housewife, I've been tagged.  Watch out - you might be next!

Here are 7 little known facts about me:
  • I love green tea.  I wish I loved it as much as I love chai, but I really do like it.
  • I love fun projects: from gardening, to sewing, to cooking, to painting.  Anything I can create that's "me", that's what gets me going.
  • I have been to 5 out of 7 continents.
  • I think reality tv makes us less intelligent, but I really like it.
  • I met Punky Brewster when I was little.  I know that's not her real name, but that's who she is to me.
  • I wish I was a good swimmer, but I'm really not.
  • I don't like bananas.  Unless they are baked into something or in a smoothie (see post below).

If you have been tagged (ha ha, gotcha), here are the rules of the game:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.  Some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving there names and links to their blogs.
4.  Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are some of my favorite blogs (I admit most of them don't know who I am). Check them out and let them know how much you love them, too:

Friday, October 10, 2008


Something I've realized lately is that I just don't eat enough fruit.  Vegetables I can eat until the cows come home, but fruit is just sort of meh.  My husband and kiddo down it like it's going out of style, and that just makes me feel guilty.  Solution?  

Smoothies.  I love them and it's basically a fruit salad by straw, which I can handle.  I throw in a few extras to make it more filling and even more nutritious. 

Here is my recipe, which can be altered to taste.  This version has about 120 calories per serving, and makes about two servings.

1 banana
1 cup frozen fruit (I mix it up.  blueberries + strawberries, mango +  blackberries, etc.)
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Put the bananas and frozen fruit in the food processor or blender and give it whirl to break it all up, but not pulverize it.   Add in the yogurt, milk and wheat germ and blend 'til smooth.  Taste it.  If it's too tart, depending on your fruit, add a little less than a tablespoon of honey to sweeten the deal.

For my toddler, I cut this with milk for a thinned out sippy cup treat.  He slurps it down in about 30 seconds. 

The frozen fruit makes it nice and icy without being annoyingly slushy, which is what happens with ice. Sometimes I even throw in a little frozen spinach for extra iron (you can't taste it, I promise).  You can sub juice for the milk if you like, but I like the extra calcium and less sugar that comes with milk.  But, like I said, mix it up to your liking and share the love with your kids.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

quite possibly the perfect snack

I love avocados.  I really, really love them.

Do you know how good these are for you?  They have vitamins A, C, K, E and B6.  Not to mention niacin, biotin, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein.  Oh yeah, and they cover 30% of your fiber for the day.  It also has plant compounds that help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. What more could you ask for?  Plus they are creamy and delicious.

They can also be a great snack for the little ones.  You can mash it up and throw in a teaspoon or two of wheat germ for an extra punch of protein.  Sometimes I'll throw in a hard boiled egg yolk.  Even a little pureed spinach for extra iron.  It's all masked by the buttery goodness of that yummy avocado.  My kid will eat just about anything smothered in it.

Yeah, I know, they run about 3 bucks a pop at the grocery store right now.  But, you can buy a 4 pack for about 4 dollars in most stores (we get ours at Trader Joe's).  The beauty of bulk.  

I am so thankful for the first guy that cracked one of these things open and dug in.  The world is a better place.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

let's start with the basics

Water.  We all know we're supposed to drink it.  Our parents, doctors, teachers have told us our whole lives: drink 8 glasses a day.  Did you know your body, which is 60-70% water, needs 64 ounces of water per day?  It doesn't want it, it needs it.  Did you know it helps circulation, digestion, concentration, energy levels, complexion and diet?  And no, coffee, caffeinated tea, juice, soda, alcohol, and milk don't count.  

So get going!  Fill up that bottle or glass and drink drink drink all day long.  You'll feel better, trust me.

(disclaimer:  this does not apply to babies - breastmilk, formula and milk - that's what the little guys need)