Monday, February 27, 2012

Snacks for the Weekend

My mission for weekends are:
have my family eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  
This equals many snacks.  Keeping the snacks on the counter or easy to access  to take with us are helps this be possible.  Weekends can be a trouble spot for me to overeat or pick poor choices.  Fresh fruits like strawberries and cucumbers are favorites at my house.  A container of strawberries goes quick. 

We often have snacks on Sunday evenings.  Our two top picks are popcorn and nachos.  Years ago, our nachos mainly had chips and cheese.  I have slowly, added more and more veggies to our nachos and less cheese. 

I asked my daughter to take a picture of me in the kitchen.  When I read other peoples blogs, I always wonder what they look like.  Which is why I am adding this picture of me.

I love wearing an apron.  Yes, the purpose is to keep your clothes clean, but, I love how it makes me feel.  It makes me feel like I'm in uniform, ready to accomplish something,  to revive something good.  Making food that tastes good and is good for me is my goal. 
Happy snacking to you.  Eat well.  Live well.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

I Have Decided

I love food.  I love words.  On my fridge, are words that pass by my eyes everyday.  I have a decided heart.  I will persist without exception.  Today I will seek wisdom.

1. Shopping smart for food
2. preparing fresh food
3. taking time to come up with a plan
All of these take persistence. 
Holidays throw me off for  a short bit, (while my body recovers from a sugar buzz.)  Getting enough veggies is always my go to plan.  When I am eating nutrition that fuels my body, I feel better.  I have been on a kale kick this week. My Kale Quiche was a hit with my family.

 Quiche is a quick and easy dinner for me to prepare, as long as I have eggs, the possabilities are endless.
Kale Quiche
1-2 cups chopped kale (rib discarded)
9 eggs
1/2  cup crumbled feta cheese
1 deep dish pie crust
salt and pepper to taste 
Mix filling and put in pie dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. Sprinkle with your choice of cheese before serving 
I also served a blueberry cake with dinner.
Making food from scratch tastes so yummy.  I also feel like I can control what kind of fat, how much sugar and salt  is going into my diet.  The big picture is, it is worth it to take the time.  It is worth it for my family's nutrition.

 Today I will seek wisdom.  I will persist with good choices.    Friends, eat well, live well. 
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kale Pizza

Kale is a strange looking vegetable.  I feel like it should be growing in the jungle somewhere, and not on my dinner plate.   Kale for me is a surprise vegetable.  I am continually surprised that I  like it.

Kale is full of nutrition that is powerful, and has impact for my health.  I keep trying to figure out ways to include it into my daily eating.  It takes thought.  I recently decided to try it our our pizza.  The results were really good.  It took on the taste of the red sauce and oregano.

 Taking the tough rib of the kale out, and chopping up the leaves was effective for sprinkling it on the pizza.  We eat pizza at our house about once a week.   I have tried several pizza crust types from several different sources; store bought, no rise, biscuit, english muffins, all white or all wheat.  My current favorite pizza dough is homemade half white/half wheat.
It is easy, fast, and the results are hard to mess up.
Pizza Dough
1 1/4 c. hot water
3 tsp. yeast
2 T sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c.   oil (olive oil, canola oil or your choice)
4 c. flour ( I use half white half wheat)
I let the yeast sit in the bowl with the water and sugar for a few min.  Then I add the rest of the ingredients.  Use a mixer or Kitchen Aid until starts to form as a dough.   I then put the dough on the counter and knead it a few times and put into an oiled bowl covered with a kitchen towel to rise for 50 min to 1 hour.
  When the time is up, I put it on the counter and split the dough into two pieces.  I then roll out into a rustic looking oval or circle.  The fun part of this dough it will take a different shape each time you make it.
The above recipe makes two medium size pizzas.  I have saved the second dough ball in the fridge and that seems to keep for about a day.
I cook my pizza on a high heat of 425 degrees for about 12-15 min. 

Picking foods that are high in nutrition help me fill full longer, satisfied, and put a smile on my face.  Having enough energy and stamina to be a mom are high on  my list of why I try to eat healthy.  This morning huge snowflakes came out of the sky.  My girls and I smiled and giggled as we tried to catch them on our tongues.

I hope that you keep growing and learning about new foods.  For me Kale is my surprise smile vegetable for this week.  If this post put a smile on your face, go to the top of this and click  "join this site."  It is free. 
Eat well, live well!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blueberry Muffins and Basketball

I was in the kitchen listening to the NCAA basketball game playing in the other room.  I heard the announcer say something like "It all comes down to good choices and bad choices for this team,  the good choices helped them pull out a win."  I thought to myself, "that is so true for about everything we participate in."  The path we choose  for family, friends, work, eating, exercise, can be good or bad.  When it comes to eating and exercises, I hope to not just make good, but, the best choice. 
I love blueberries and lemon.  My family really enjoys when I add sugar and other yummy ingredients to make Blueberry Muffins.

This muffin recipe is basic and does well with most fruit.
Blueberry Muffins  
2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 6 oz yogurt or sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 lemon zest and half of lemon squeezed of juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat butter with mixer, add sugar, until well combined.  Then add rest of wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir in blueberries and lemon with a spoon (not mixer.)  Bake 18-20 min.
I used frozen blueberries, and a fresh lemon.

These muffins are great for when you are on the go.  My husband and I have been coaching basketball for our third grader and fourth grader.  We have needed many types of food that are easy to eat on the go. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cleaning Up

Once a week I dedicate a few hours of prep work.  This means I get the food chopped, baked, boiled etc. for the upcoming meals.  Getting a jump start on my meals for the week is a huge help.  I make:
brown rice, barley or beans
chop up onions, carrots, and celery.  It is messy!

After the whirling storm of cooking and baking, I'm really wishing for a kitchen fairy to come and clean up everything.  Cleaning is not my favorite thing to do.  I have found that I really like Myers Clean Day products.  The Lavender scent is my favorite.  It reminds me of being outside and fresh flowers. 

After baking bread my counters, cupboards, and floor get a major dusting of flour.  I felt so happy after cleaning up this week.  Lavender scent saved the day.
We still have snow in our yard and the air is still chilly, but, I am getting the itch to start spring cleaning projects.  I also need constant reminders to stay and be motivated.

Kitchen duties can take a lot of time, but I find that the rewards of healthy homemade choices are worth it.  My families health and well-being are a priority to me.      

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Party Foods

Party food is fun.  I try to offer may fruits and vegetables to keep it healthy.  My daughter and I recently made a fruit bouquet.   Beware, the skewers are sharp.  We poked ourselves a few times.  Grapes are such a beautiful color.

When ever I am invited to a party, I offer to bring a veggie tray.  It is in my own best interest to offer to bring a veggies.  First, when I am preparing it, I can nibble on veggies, rather than a sweet treat.  Second, knowing that vegetables will be at the party,  I can fill up on low calorie veggies like carrots and red peppers and still have a treat.

My most favorite salsa to serve at almost any type of party is Fresh Salsa.  It is such a scrumptious dip for tortilla chips.

My recipe for Fresh Salsa:
6-7 Roma tomatoes diced
1 med. Red onion diced
1/2 small jalapeno diced
1 whole bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
1 small can green chilies
1-2 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper
Combine all these in a bowl and let it sit over night in the fridge.  This allows for all the flavors to combine and meld together.
Each bite tastes juicy, fresh, with little kick of summer.  I love it!
Another favorite is a Layered Dip

Layers of refried beans, sour cream/cream cheese mixture, cheese, tomato, olive, green onion and cilantro.  My friend brought this over to my house.  It was tempting to eat too much, it tasted really good.  It also brought back memories of when I was at my heaviest weight.  I use to open a can of refried beans and eat the whole thing by myself for lunch.  The salt in one can is not meant for one person.  I now often make my own low salt refried beans or stick to whole cooked black beans.   My friend ate her dip with veggies as her dipping scoop rather than chips.  I thought that was a really good choice.
Whatever your party foods are, have fun, eat well and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Noodle Lunch

I attempt to re-create food from my favorite places to eat. A place called the Noodle Bowl, that is near two of my most favorite stores to shop at, Costco and Michaels.  If I get to go to all three places in one day, I'm on cloud nine.  In re-crating the noodle dishes, I try to make sure that the veggies, are abundant to outweigh the carbs in the noodles.
The real star of this dish is the red pepper, sweet, nutritious and with a crunch.
This is a fairly easy dish to assemble once the noodles are cooked, it just takes a large saute pan. My whole family loves the taste of Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sweet and Savory.  The main ingredient is soy sauce, beware to not add too much if you are watching your salt in-take.
Once one package of regular spaghetti noodles is over-cooked (about 15 min.)  I drain it and put it back into the pot, then, pour Yoshida's over it.  Stirring every 10 min, letting the noodles soak up the sauce for at least 30 min.
Vegetables Chopped for a high heat saute:
Red Pepper
Once the vegetables are cooked (firm and slightly crunchy) I add the noodles and stir to coat the veggies with the sauce.  Just before serving add a few chopped peanuts to give it that extra crunch.

  This dish makes a great dinner too, you can add chicken, pork, or beef sliced thin. The colors are beautiful from the veggies and the leftovers are great. When I make this at home, I have to put the leftovers quickly into the fridge, dare I might eat the whole pan.  Noodles are easy for me to over-indulge in.  My friends, eat well, live well, and make a beautiful lunch    

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Simple Inspiration

I find inspiration in beautiful things, quotes, stories,  and food . The quote that keeps mulling around in my head is "Positive Energy Is the New Pink."  Being around positive people is like fuel to me. 
I try to drink about 20-30 ounces of water first thing in the morning.  Sometimes, it is hard to drink it before I start eating or drink coffee.  I saw my friend at Bible study with a mason jar with lemons in it.  She said it was helping her to drink water.  I tried it.  Drinking water out of a beautiful mason jar helps me to drink more and feel happy about it. 

I am reading a book by Katie Couric, The Best advice I Ever Got, Lessons from Extraordinary Lives.  It inspires me to read about, passion and focus in others lives.  Last night, I was reading about Alicia Keys.  She said,      "When you make a decision because you really love what you are doing, because you're really passionate about it, believe in it, and because you'd do it no matter what the outcome-that's when you become most successful." 
Passion is what drives me to write on this on-line journal called a blog.  I am passionate about continually learning about being the healthiest I can.  Writing about what I'm cooking and inspired to try, helps me.  I made a broccoli soup yesterday.
The Pioneer Woman has a beautiful blog, a show on the food channel and wonderful recipes.  She is an inspiration to me.  Her broccoli soup recipe is made with whole milk and half and half.  I took her recipe and made it much lower in fat. 
In the original recipe it had 5 cups whole milk and 2 cups half and half.  I used 5 cups chicken broth and 1cup half and half.  To thicken the soup, I started with a butter flour rue.  I simmered the broccoli for about 20 min, then blended.  It was super simple and super creamy.  I feel that healthy food does not need to taste bad.  Even my oldest was very skeptical before she tasted, but ultimately, gave it a thumbs up. 

Ingredients for Simple Broccoli Soup
1 clove garlic chopped
5 c. chicken stock
1 c. half and half
2 c. cut broccoli
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

 After I made it on the stove I put it in the crock pot.  Having dinner ready and hot when we walk through the door is a beautiful thing.  It helps with "I'm hungry" from the kids and anxiety from a long day.  Happy tummies makes me, a mommy, happy.   My kids of course,  liked extra cheese and lots of tortilla chips in their bowls.  I was satisfied without the extras.  It was creamy and filling.   
I hope that we can all find beauty in small things like a mason jar, chopped broccoli, or satisfying soup.  My friends, eat well, live well, and live out your passions.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cupcakes Part Two

In my book cupcakes equals love.  Everyone at my house loves cupcakes. 
I wanted to try a new recipe for a low fat one.  I had my children help me.  As I got the applesauce out, they begged me, "No, don't put that in, you will ruin them."  The finished cupcakes turned out tasting great. 

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Tip # 1  to get cupcakes to have that soft, fluffy texture is to sift the dry ingredients.  This helps get any clumps from the baking soda or flour.  I use to think it was a waste of time, but it is totally worth it, plus it is fun.

Tip #2  Use a lowfat milk and a tsp of vinegar to thicken it.  This tricks the cupcakes and our taste buds to think it has high fat buttermilk.

Tip #3  I reduced the oil to 3 T. and added a 1/4 cup plain applesauce.  The finished cupcakes didn't taste like apples at all.

My other favorite thing about cupcakes is that they bake up and cool so much faster than a cake.  This satisfies my kids need to taste them the same day that we make them.   Cupcakes in general, help me with portion control.  One cupcake isn't so bad, and tastes oh so good.

  With all the cupcake love that will take place before valentines day, try a low-fat recipe, or experiment with a new recipe.  Eat well, live well, and "love thy cupcakes."