Monday, March 21, 2011

Breakfast boredom!

I could try different recipes for lunch and dinner and never seem to get bored.  Where I get tripped up is breakfast.  I want something easy, healthy and quick.  I typically eat in the car on my drive to work in the morning.  I need something that is safe to eat in the car, not messy and doesn't use up half of my days calorie limit.  I am creature of habit when it comes to breakfast for some reason.  I eat the same things over and over again and it gets old quick.  I work out in the mornings so I need something that has enough protein to help me recover and to keep me full until my morning snack.  This week I have tried two different things.  One is absolutely more appealing than the other but I wanted to share both.  The first is a delicious blueberry oatmeal muffin and the second was a green smoothie.  I will discuss the muffin first.  These were pretty yummy and easy to eat in the car on my way to work.  I had frozen blueberries that I had purchased over the summer at a local farmers market and just enough oatmeal left to make a full batch of these.  The recipe calls for the oatmeal to be ground up which I thought was a little odd.  I didn't notice a difference while eating them with the oats ground to almost a powder.  These muffins are fairly low in calories and seemed to keep me pretty full throughout the morning.  Overall I would say they are a winner.  The picture on right is literally straight from the oven.  I couldn't resist.  I promise if you let them sit they will not be this messy :)

My second change for the week is trying a green smoothie.  I have been wanting to dabble in this new "trend" for a while but was always intimidated with the thought of putting veggies in a smoothie.  This does not sound yummy to me.  I am a lover of smoothies in the morning.  My favorite being oatmeal, chocolate protein powder, banana, powered peanut butter and coconut milk.  So yummy.  So veggies....yea not so much.  I am obsessed with reading about different healthy options and this one keeps coming up.  Most recently a friend of mine from college discussed it in her newsletter.  My friend Penina is a certified health coach through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and has a wealth of knowledge about following a healthy lifestyle.  Follow her blog or subscribe to her newsletters to find out more about her and learn new healthy tricks.  I asked her about these green smoothies and learned a couple of her favorite recipes.  This morning I tried what she calls her "basic recipe"  It consisted of 
  • 2 large kale leaves (stems included)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup of water
Blend to your desired consistency.   I used an immersion blender because its easy to clean up and I don't have to mess with the blade from a blender.

This blended smoothie did not taste terrible however is not as enjoyable as my normal smoothie I make.  I definitely think this is an acquired taste.  I will absolutely keep trying to make these though so stayed tuned.  Kale is a bitter green and I almost felt like I had to chew this smoothie.  Strange, but by 9am I already had 2 servings or fruit in veggies in me.  You can't deny the health factors in these smoothies.  I think the trick is finding a blend you like and changing up your blends to avoid the breakfast boredom.  I will keep everything posted on my journey to find a blend I like :) 

Nutrition facts for the blueberry oatmeal muffins:

Calories: 190, Fat: 5g (sat 0.6g,mono 2.4g,poly 1.2g), Protein: 4.2g, Carbohydrate: 33.3g, Fiber: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Iron: 1.6mg, Sodium: 248mg, Calcium: 74mg

Nutrition facts for kale and banana smoothie:

Calories: 144.9, Fat: 1.1g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.4g,poly 0.2g), Protein: 3.6g, Carbohydrate: 35g, Fiber: 5.4g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 31.1mg

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Leeks, and Fontina

I have really enjoyed blogging about my food endeavours and enjoy all the feedback and requests I have been getting.  Keep them coming guys!  I am all about making meals that will have leftovers for meals throughout the week.  One of my new favorite shows to watch is Rachael Ray's week in a day.  The premise of the show is to do all of your cooking in one day for the whole week.  This is exactly how I like to cook so it is definitely my type of show.  This recipe has a ton of servings and tastes just as good reheated in the office microwave.  This pasta dish is unique, delicious and easy.  I first made this with my friend Glenda and we were in love with the flavor this pasta had.  What can go wrong with sausage and fontina cheese? NOTHING!  I have seen a lot of recipes made with leeks and really never knew what to do with them.  They are big, look intimidating and taste like onions.  When I made this recipe the first time it was my first experience and now I am hooked.  If you have never tasted or cooked with leeks, this is a great first try.  There is one important fact about leeks that you need to be aware of when using them.  Leeks are grown is sandy soil and have many layers of leaves, therefore the perfect the place for sand and soil to hide.  Slice the dark green tops of the leek off as they are tough and don't taste to good.  Then slick the stalk in half and then into little moons.  Next fill up a big bowl with cold water and throw in your sliced leeks as you chop.  Separate the moons into slices so the sand and grit can settle to the bottom. Gross look at all that grit.  

While you are waiting to the grit to settle to the bottom of your bowl start cooking up your sausage and heating up your water for your pasta.  I had angel hair pasta on hand this time but any pasta will do.  Once the grit has settled to the bottom pull your leeks out and dry in a clean kitchen towel.  If the leeks are to wet when they hit the pan it will cause the grease from the sausage to pop.  Grease in the eye and all over the stove is not so fun so this step is important.  Once you add the leeks start in on your cabbage.  I love this green veggie.  I liked it sauteed with garlic as a side or as a little added crunch in my salads.  It is so versatile, cheap and easy to handle.  Once the leeks are soft and look like sauteed onions (left) add the chopped cabbage (right)

Once the cabbage hits the pan you are in the home stretch.  Once the cabbage is soft add in some chicken broth and start grating your fontina cheese.  Fonita is a yummy, easy melting cheese.  Which also means it can get difficult to grate.  Make sure your cheese is super cold, I even stick mine in the freezer when I first start my cooking.  Once it is time to grate it is the perfect temperature to hold its shape for easy grating.  This recipe doesn't call for a lot of cheese so feel free to add more. 

The end product isn't very pretty once you mix it all up, but trust me, its a party of flavors in your mouth.  This recipe makes a TON.  You will be able to enjoy this one several times throughout your work week.

Nutritional Information

385 (21% from fat)
8.9g (sat 3.2g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.2g)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday night dinner, French Onion Soup

I LOVE soup.  I mean I love love love it.  I could eat it everyday if I could.  It is always so warm and comforting.  Homemade soup is great because you can control exactly what you are putting in your body.  Canned soup...not to much.  The sodium levels on canned soup is unbelievable high.  Not many people would consciencely put THAT much salt in a meal while cooking....I would hope.  On tonight's agenda, French Onion Soup at the request of my sweet sister Rachel.  She tried making it a couple weeks ago and according to her it was disgusting.  She burnt the onions and it was all over from there.  My sister is a good cook and knows her way around the kitchen.  So this was just one bad meal for her, but a meal she loves.  She is obsessed with french onion soup and asked that I try to find a good recipe.  I believe I have done just that.  I searched high and low for a healthy but tasty one.  I landed on Tyler Florence's ultimate french onion soup.  Tyler is one of my favorite food network chefs and has never steered me wrong on any recipe I have ever tried of his.  And its from his ultimate it can't be bad right? RIGHT!  It was delicious!  It was a little time consuming and there is a fine line between caramelized and burnt onions but it was way worth it.  The trick to getting the onions to cook quickly is to slice them very thin.  Another trick when cutting this many onions is to keep the root end of the onion connected while chopping.  It helps keep the onion together when you are concentrating on your cutting. 

Once you have all your onions cut through them in your pan with the melted butter and add the seasonings.  The trick to caramelizing onions is the keep the heat at about medium high and stir often.  The point of carmelizing onions is to add a rich flavor to them, not to sweat them or fry them.  This step will take time.  Once the onions have hit a golden brown creamy stage they are done. 

Once the onion's are at this stage you are in the home stretch.  Add beef broth and simmer for 10 mins.  Taste for seasoning and you are done.  I toasted a baguette with shredded fontina and presto....dinner is served.  I made a couple of changes to Tyler's recipe because of ingredients that I had on hand but for the most part I followed exactly.  I swapped out white wine instead of red, wheat flour instead of AP white flour, fontina cheese instead of Gruyere, and dried thyme instead of fresh.  I am not a fan of swiss cheese and had fontina cheese on hand for another recipe I plan on making this week.  Fontina is a beautiful melting cheese and tastes creamy and delicious.  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it.  It can be found in your specialty cheese section at your grocery store.  Enjoy my friends! 

Nutrition for this recipe with my changes are below.  The calories and fat are a little on the high side from the butter, cheese and bread.  I have included 2 sets of facts for you.   First set is with cheese and bread.

6 Servings

  Total Fat20.2 g
     Saturated Fat11.3 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.8 g
     Monounsaturated Fat5.2 g
  Cholesterol58.5 mg
  Sodium2,185.3 mg
  Potassium151.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate25.6 g
     Dietary Fiber2.1 g
     Sugars2.0 g
  Protein10.3 g

Facts without cheese and bread. 

  Total Fat
16.9 g
  Saturated Fat
9.6 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat
0.6 g
  Monounsaturated Fat
4.5 g
48.1 mg
1,928.3 mg
145.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate
11.5 g
  Dietary Fiber
1.6 g
1.4 g
5.5 g

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Here fishy fishy!!

I don't know about you guys, but it has been a rough week for me.  I have had a migraine since Sunday night and I am just exhausted.  By the time I get home from work around 7:15 my energy and desire to cook something healthy for dinner quickly diminishes.  I was so pumped to find that this morning in my half awake state before heading to the gym that I threw some tilapia in the fridge to defrost.  BONUS for me.  I love that my half asleep self is looking out for my even more tired self at 7:15pm.  How do I not remember that?  No clue but it made for a quick, easy and most importantly healthy dinner.  I pre-heated the oven to 375, sprayed my cookie sheet with olive oil spray and seasoned my fishy with salt, pepper and adoba seasoning.  Meanwhile I quickly boiled some asparagus and started a quick hollandaise sauce.


If you have never cooked asparagus before it is really easy however there is one important key to it.  Get rid of the woody ends.  GROSS!  If you hold the asparagus in your hands and bend it, the asparagus will break at its natural point.  This will get rid of the woody, gross ends.  Once you have bent one you can cut the rest to that size.  I like my veggies crispy too.  I boiled my asparagus for 5 mins and then threw them in an ice bath.  This stops the cooking process and keeps the asparagus green and yummy looking. 

Hollandaise sauce...seems hard but it is so easy.  The one important point to make with hollandaise sauce it that it must, MUST be cooked in a double boiler.  The base of this sauce is egg yolk, therefore you don't want to end of up scrambled eggs.  I followed these simple steps to create this delicious sauce:
  1. Separate one egg yolk ( i freeze the egg white and use for an omelet)
  2. Whisk the yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl
  3. Heat some water in the bottom portion of your double boiler (tip here, measure to make sure the water does not touch the bowl you put on top of this pan)
  4. Place your bowl with the yolk on top of the pan with the warm water.  Whisk constantly under the sauce thickens.  You will know the sauce is done when it coats the back of a spoon
  5. Pull your bowl off the heat and continue to whisk to cool the sauce a little
  6. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt and pepper to taste

From start to finish this meal took about 30 minutes.  I finished this meal off with a glass of moscato wine and easy clean up!  Nutrition facts for this meal is as follows:

  Total Fat8.0 g
     Saturated Fat4.1 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.4 g
     Monounsaturated Fat1.6 g
  Cholesterol53.2 mg
  Sodium487.9 mg
  Potassium469.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate10.9 g
     Dietary Fiber3.5 g
     Sugars0.0 g
  Protein24.9 g