Chile Verde…yum ~By: Steph

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Chile Verde, only healthy carbs

Last Friday at the supermarket, I decided I was buying tomatillos.  I have never even unwrapped a tomatillo before.  I knew they went into homemade chile verde sauce.  Yep there’s my expertise in a tomatillo husk. Is it called a husk? Hmm…

I realized on Tuesday that I had forgotten about the tomatillos and they were going to end up going to dead vegetable land. More commonly known around these parts as, the trash bin.  Alas, many a vegetable has met this terrible fate in my home.  I decided to stop the madness and do something with these little green, wrinkle wrapped thingys. I went to…wait for it…Pinterest, and found a recipe that sounded pretty yummy/pretty easy (once again…I do not really follow recipes as much as I look at them to see what should go into something.) and I got to work.

Tomatillos are sticky little suckers under that covering.  It was weird and I got great satisfaction at washing their stickiness away before quartering them.  I threw the tomatillos, some chunked up green peppers (yep, chunked up), a couple of halved jalapenos, a rough chopped onion, and an entire head of peeled garlic, on a baking sheet.  Coated everything in roasted garlic olive oil and seasoned with chipotle chile powder, salt, pepper, and cumin.  Took about 15 mins to prep and get into the oven.  I roasted this until the house smelled phenomenal…that means about an hour.  They were so pretty but, I forgot to take a picture of their slightly charred gorgeousness.

After the veggies cooled down a bit I threw them into my Cuisinart with about 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of cilantro leaves.  Whirled it until it looked Chile Verde sauce-ish and set it aside.  It was at this point when I realized it made enough for two recipes.  I threw half into a jar to be popped into the freezer.  After it got it’s picture taken, of course!

I cubed up a pork tip roast that I had quick thawed in a pan of water, while the veggies roasted.  They are very lean and I definitely prefer them with some kind of sauce to keep them moist. I seasoned the cubed roast up and popped it into a hot cast iron skillet to brown up. I contemplated throwing the meal into my slow cooker. Which is where I usually make my cheater chile verde with the jarred salsa and canned green sauce.  I thought better of using the slow cooker when I realized it was already after 12:45 and I wasn’t positive the meat would get tender enough before dinner.  I almost put it all away to make the next day and then GENIUS STRUCK.  Okay not really but, I did remember that I had some of those Reynold’s oven bags in the drawer.  I grabbed one out, added the meat, covered it with the sauce, sealed it up, stabbed the bag a couple of times so the steam could escape, and cooked it at 325 for about 2 1/2 hours.  The result was a really ugly looking bag that sort of scared me when I opened the oven. That’s why I included it in the picture.  I was totally convinced I had cooked dinner into an incinerated oblivion.

When I opened the bag up, there was bubbly, green, deliciousness! That’s not a phrase you use often.  I was totally ready to mash up some pinto beans and chow down for dinner that night.  NOPE, Big Guy had an errand to run so I went with him.  Ended up eating the kids meal of grilled chicken nuggets and fruit salad at Chik-fil-a. I LOVE that place.

Wednesday I made some Mexican riced cauliflower.  It was pretty delicious yet, still cauliflower and not rice.  I am not going to lie and say I like it as well as carby, delicious, rice but, I do think it was a nice substitute.   Mashed up and seasoned some pinto beans for fat free “refried” beans. Shredded up a little lettuce and diced a tomato because, I like the fresh crispness with Mexican food. Warmed up the Chile Verde in the oven and ta-da dinner!

I’d say that I spent about 40 mins of prep time on the meal.  There was a lot of waiting patiently (I’m so very good at that…) for the oven.  The end result was definitely worth the time it took.

Healthy carbs, veggies, lean pork, homemade sauce, and some new favorites.  I call this meal a win.

Everyone ate this meal except for My Monster Boy. Well, The Bee didn’t eat the cauli rice.  As I have said before, my son would think I was trying to kill him if I served him something other than pizza with any kind of sauce on it.  Took out a Flatout, coated it very lightly with Ranch dressing, threw on a bit of shredded cheese, and added some turkey pepperoni (shh…don’t tell him), and put it in the toaster over until it was crisp and melty.  That and a bowl of fresh fruit with some cucumber spears, and he was a happy kid with a fairly healthy meal. I love that he enjoys Flatout’s and they have great fiber and protein.

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For my wls friends, I know this looks like a lot of food. I am very near, 4 years out of surgery and can eat a decent portion of food.  This is a salad plate with 2 TBL of beans, 1/4 cup of cauli. rice, 3 oz. of chile verde, and maybe a quarter cup of lettuce with 3 pieces of diced tomato on top. There isn’t even a TBL of cheese on top of the meat.  Maybe 1 1/2 cups of food total. The lettuce and cauli. rice don’t really take up a lot of space for me.  If this plate contained all solid foods, I could do about a cup.  If this plate was a bag of popcorn, chips, cookies, or something else carby and easily digested, I could unfortunately probably do closer to 50 cups.  Okay that may be an exaggeration but, I can do way more of something that breaks down easily like those off limit foods. That is why they are off limit foods for me.


P.S.  I like to grab a few head of cauliflower at the store, and forget them in the fridge until I panic about them going bad.  Then and only then do I drag out the food processer and make cauliflower rice.  I never actually want to use it that night because, honestly I hadn’t planned on using it that night and only touched it because, I was afraid I’d have to throw it away if I waited any longer. So it gets bagged up and put into the freezer for when I actually do want to use it and have absolutely no fresh cauliflower in the house.

 

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Chicken, Broccoli & Mushroom Alfredo

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My serving of Alfredo-ish stuff. My cute little appetizer plate and my new cocktail fork. It’s itty-bitty and adorable!

Healthy and delicious meals, don’t have to be relegated to nights when we have hours to spend in the kitchen.  Today during the daycare kids naptime I threw together dinner for myself and the family. Cubed up some boneless skinless chicken thighs.    Seasoned them up and Sautéed them in a tiny bit of roasted garlic olive oil.  Set the chicken aside. Made florets out of a couple crowns of broccoli.  I have to say that I love the Ziplock steam bags.  I sprinkled the florets with a touch of kosher salt and popped them in the bag.  Microwaved them for 4 mins and shocked them in ice water to keep the color and stop the cooking. Grabbed some cremini mushrooms and sautéed them in the pan from the chicken. Grabbed a jar of Alfredo sauce from the pantry. Okay yes, I skipped making my own sauce today.  I was lazy and in a hurry, those kids don’t sleep forever!  That’s it, combined about 2 svgs of sauce with two cups of the cubed chicken,  3 cups of broccoli and the mushrooms. (I used the sauce sparingly, I didn’t want to Swan dive into a vat of sauce. I just wanted to add a little moisture and flavor to the other ingredients.)  Seasoned it well and ta-da. Dinner for Big Guy and myself plus, my lunches for the week.

The girls had the rest of the sauce,  chicken thighs, and broccoli, combined with some Protein Plus pasta. WHAT??? They didn’t even complain! That happens…never.

The boy will have a chicken thigh with steamed broccoli, fresh pineapple & kiwi for his sides. NO SAUCE…he’d think I was trying to kill him. I know he’ll happily gobble his meal up because one, he likes everything on the plate. Two, he has no other choice for dinner. Three, he will be STARVING when he gets in from playing with his friends. The stars are aligned in my favor!!!

Everyone will eat roughly the same meal.  I was able to prepare it all at once and it was healthy 🙂

Sometimes we over think and make things harder than they have to be. Not me…but, some of you probably do.  I’m never an overthinker-ish kind of gal.  No…I did not just get struck by lightening!  Anyway, simple is really tasty and well,  SIMPLE.  I cooked from the freezer, pantry, and fridge.  No need to run to the store.

Update..Big Guy ate while he was prepping his lunches for the week.   So much for the whole family eating roughly the same meal.  Oh well,  it almost happened!

 

 

Fajitas and Zoodles and Salad, oh my! ~By: Steph

Well, I have made it to Wednesday and not killed anyone.  Laying off of the unhealthy carbs kind of makes me feel murderous…I mean less than Mary Sunshine. This shall pass and hopefully my family will survive my mood swings and they in turn do not lock me in a closet. Personally I think mood swings are awesome. My lucky husband gets a new wife each time he walks in the door. SURPRISE, BIG GUY! At least I’m not boring to live with. Hmm…anyhow, let’s move on 😉

I’m in the zone.  Not sure exactly what zone.  I am using our pantry, freezer, and fridge like a pro. Saturday’s leftover grilled steaks became, Monday’s fajitas with fresh peppers, onions, and homemade mango salsa. Wish I’d snapped a photo of it.  It was a very colorful and pretty dish.

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Zoodles w/meatballs & sauce.

Tuesday I grabbed a container of 7% ground beef/hot Italian chicken sausage meatballs and sauce out of the freezer.  Meatballs are one of my favorite foods to make. (I used to make them with 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 lean ground beef.  I love the chicken so much more.  It has great flavor and the texture is nicer than ground turkey.) As my friend Becky would say, “SQUIRREL!” I got sidetracked with the meatballs and forgot to mention what I made with them.  I zoodlefied (yep that’s the word I’m stickin’ with.) some zucchini, julienned red pepper/onion, sautéed them with cooking spray and seasonings, then set aside.  Added a bit of garlic infused olive oil and mushrooms to the pan and sautéed until golden.  Mixed it all together, added a couple of meatballs and sauce on top. This =’d YUMMINESS.

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Taco salad with mango salsa.

Today’s meal was the leftover mango salsa over a taco salad.  My carby indulgence besides the salsa, was black beans cooked in chicken stock, with chile, cumin and onion. They were delicious on a plain little taco salad.

Simple meals, using up what’s on hand and keeping on track.  I’ve been setting aside a portion of dinner for the next day’s lunch. Making a protein shake for breakfast. Reduced fat cheese, fruit, a slice of lunchmeat, etc have been my snacks. Yay for 3 days of good choices!

Oh, I have to mention how much I love my little appetizer plates and bowls.  I have several different ones and I love eating off of something pretty 🙂 I think my next purchase is going to be little cocktail forks. It feels weird using a fork bigger than the plate.  Using bigger plates leads me to pushing past my limit. In my head I’m still a clean your plate, kinda gal.

Trying to stay accountable and lay it all out here.  It’s a struggle to reset your eating but, we have to value ourselves enough to do it.  There’s no, “good reason”, to knowingly make frequent unhealthy choices.  We can blame our circumstances but, that won’t change anything.   We have to work for what we need. That’s what I’m once again deciding to do.

 

Salad in a Jar is kind of adorable and handy! By: Steph

Ok so, I came across several different sites featuring salads in a jar recipes. I am pretty sure no one really needs a recipe for a salad but, it’s nice to have the proper order to layer the ingredients. Here is my first attempt at them and I’m hoping they are as tasty 3 days from today as they are on day 1.

My oldest daughter Jessie, requested I try Taylor Farms BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad Kit. I bought it as a serving is 130 cals and that isn’t awful. I decided to add in a bit of protein and some extra veggies to bulk up the yummy factor a bit.

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I layered the ingredients as follows; dressing in the bottom of a jar, red onion diced, shredded carrots, diced tomato, grilled cubed chicken breast, BBQ sauce (only used half of the packet provided), shredded cheese, cabbage/lettuce/veggie mixture, some torn romaine leaves and finally a small zip top bag with the bacon bits, and lime tortilla strips that came with the salad kit. I took the bag of toppings, sealed it and placed it into the top of each jar as I didn’t want it getting soggy.

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Seal the jars with a lid and here is where sites vary. Some sites vacuum seal the jars and others say they will keep nicely just with the lid in place. I am trying it the non sealed way with just the lid screwed on. We will see how this works out. I must say the salads look tasty and adorable in the pretty canning jars. Shake it up to distribute the dressing and voila…you have your salad in a jar. Ok some of you are totally rolling your eyes at me thinking…ok crazy lady it’s just a salad in a jar. Why are you so excited?…Well, because, I can be! Because, I like the visual appeal of my jarred salad and the idea of grilling extra meat up at the beginning of the week and making these jars to enjoy all week. I will be even MORE excited if they actually stay crisp and lovely like they are now! Updates to come…

OH WHATEVER…you know you’re on pins and needles to see if they are crisp or not! You don’t fool me 🙂

Salad

Recipe for this salad jar (Yep a salad recipe, you knew it was coming!)

1- Taylor Farms BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad Kit
2- 2 cups romaine leaves rinsed, dried and torn
10 oz. grilled chicken breast cubed
1- tomato diced
1/4 red onion diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Divide equally and Layer ingredients in your jar in the order detailed above (Not the order listed in the ingredients). Put lids on and refrigerate. Btw…I purchased 24 0z jars to use for these and they look about perfectly sized for a lunch or dinner. (I will probably only eat half at a time because of my limited capacity but, I intend to use the other half as a snack so it won’t waste.)

Makes 4 salads.

Nutritional info
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256 calories, 16 carbs, 12 fat, 22 protein and 8 sugar

I will probably skip the tortilla strips and bacon bit topping but, that’s just because, it doesn’t sound very good to me currently. The calories include everything that comes in the salad kit and all the extra ingredients I added. I also think next time I will use my own light salad dressings to save on the fat and calories a bit.

Next week I am thinking taco salad jars sound delish!

Enjoy friends,

~Steph

P.S. If you look really closely you will see that these salads look so good that a tiny yellow rescue helicopter flew in to get a closer look in the final picture! That doesn’t happen everyday now, does it?
P.S.S. The joys of a home with kids and running a day-care to boot!

Asparagus Frittata By:Steph

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Asparagus Frittata

16 oz. Eggbeaters or egg whites
8 oz. chopped fresh asparagus
6 oz. mushrooms
3 oz. diced onion (I used yellow)
3 oz. Gruyere shredded (divided)
2 oz. bacon (I removed excess fat and only used the meat portion)
2 cloves garlic minced

In an oven safe skillet preheated to medium heat, combine onion and bacon with a spray of olive oil cooking spray and cook until onion is translucent and bacon is cooked. Add in asparagus, mushrooms and garlic. Season to taste with favorite seasonings. I used a little salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until asparagus is desired consistency.

In a bowl combine egg with half of the shredded cheese and a bit of salt/pepper and whisk. Pour egg mixture over the veggies stir a bit and evenly distribute in skillet. Turn broiler on high to warm up. Let frittata cook over medium heat for 8 minutes. It should be mostly set but, wet on top. Place in oven and broil 1 1/2 minutes, turn 1/2 turn and cook for 1 1/2 minutes longer until lightly golden and set on top. Remove from oven, sprinkle top with remaining cheese and let sit for 5 minutes.

It is very nice served with a crisp salad with light dressing or with fresh fruit. We eat it for any meal it’s very versatile and yummy.

Serves 4
Nutritional information per serving:
205 calories, 8 carbs, 9 fat, 23 protein, 2 fiber, 4 sugar

Sweet Potatoes:Truth in Advertising!

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Hello. I guess I have a story for everything. Sweet Potatoes do not escape that fact. Four months back I was watching the food network trying to increase my limited culinary knowledge. Executive chef Bobby Flay said the sweet potato is the most nutritious item in your pantry.

I am one of those analytical types. I immediately thought…..whoa, you are so very wrong Mr. Flay and I am not even talking about the fact that I do not have a pantry. I have not eaten a sweet potato since 1987 at a Christmas shindig at Grandma’s house. It was gross and so I moved on to other life decisions. Hence they are not in my house.

I then reasoned with myself. Bobby Flay guess starred on HBO’s “Entourage” one season and that show was awesome. Perhaps I should listen to this guy.

I purchased one of these fine potatoes and cooked it like a common baked potato and it was still pretty gross. Thankfully I am not the quitting type. I searched for sweet potato french fries. All the recipes called for a whole bunch of olive oil. I remembered back to my Food Network learning and recalled somebody saying olive oil was by volume one of the worst ingredients possible from a health standpoint.

Being somewhat of a math guy I easily figured out how stupid that would be. Kind of like putting hot fudge on a salad I suppose.

With the help of mommy I began to experiment. It did not take to long to come up with the final product. Here is how you do it. After peeling the potatoes chop them up to look like french fries. Spray with that healthy canola oil stuff in the picture. Season with something that is not salt. I use either one of the lovely Mrs. Dash offerings or this pepper blend I found at Fleet Farm two rows over from the fishing supplies. You only need to season on one side. If you want them a bit crunchier cut them smaller. Bake for 12-15 minutes flip them and bake them for another 12-15 minutes. (450 degrees)

They have become my “junk food.” I literally (sorry Zang) eat them 4 times per day. I do not want you to think I am weird for sweet potatoes but I did recently become upset at the Piggly Wiggly because they were out of stock.

Give these a try. Experiment until you find a seasoning you like. This is a great way to get your vegetables into your day. Feed them to your children. They will love them and perhaps one day they will write a poem about how excellent you are.

Enjoy! -Clint

Mexican style stuffed peppers By: Steph

peppers filling

peppers no sauce

stuffed peppers

4- medium green, red, orange or yellow peppers steamed until pliable
2/3 cup prepared Minute Rice Whole Grain Brown Rice (1/2 cp raw)
8 oz. 9% lean ground beef
1/2 cup red onion diced
1/2 cup celery diced
3 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
1 10 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes (flavor or your choice)
1 8 oz. can Hunt’s no salt added tomato sauce
Seasoning of choice to taste.

Clean and cut tops off of sweet peppers. Place in microwave safe dish and fill each pepper 1/2 way with water. Microwave until just pliable (about 8 minutes). Set aside.

Fix Minute Rice as per directions on box and set aside.

In a skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat with onion, celery, and seasonings (I chose salt and pepper, chili powder and cumin to taste). When ground beef is no longer pink and veggies are translucent add garlic and mix thoroughly. Next add Rotel or Mexican style canned tomatoes and stir. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Add rice to mixture and stir.

Coat an oven proof pan with cooking spray and 1/2 can of tomato sauce. Add peppers and then fill. Lastly, top with remaining sauce and bake at 350 degrees until heated through. Approximately 15-20 minutes if ingredients are still warm. These can be prepared ahead and baked the next day. They also freeze well.

Makes 4 servings
218 calories, 29 carbs, 6 fat, 15 protein and 6 fiber per pepper.

Hope you enjoy & let me know how they turn out 🙂

~Steph