Tag Archives: healthy

Resolutions. Really?

18 Jan

So it’s the beginning of the year, and the season of resolutions.  This is the time many folks decide to make healthy lifestyle changes.  People at work are buzzing about losing weight, eating better, detox potions, and avoiding fast food.  And, of course, I am no different.

I do not make new years resolutions.  I do, however, reflect on making  positive changes in the new year.  I too have been making an effort to eat a little healthier since ringing in the new year.  Getting kind of bored with my regular “go to” recipes, I have tried to energize my normal recipe repertoire by trying to put fresh new combinations together.  The other day I came up with a real winner.

I made a super healthy quinoa salad.  One day I took it for lunch at work.  Another day I had it in the morning after my workout for a healthy protein boost.  I do not limit my meals with traditional labels.    If I feel like chicken for breakfast, I eat that.  A bowl of cereal for dinner?  Sure. Why not.  So I enjoyed my quinoa all day.  And it was delicious.

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad!  Yum!

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad! Yum!

How did I make it?  I had about 2 cups of leftover quinoa, a handful of shredded carrots, a green onion, a half bag of spinach, and homemade vinaigrette in the fridge.  I tossed it together with a can of rinsed canned beets and Voila!  A healthful flexible meal packed with protein and veggies.  It had a nice crunch, great flavor, and a colorful appearance.

Vinaigrettes are easy to make and even easier to customize to certain tastes.  Want to try one?  Start with this.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork.  Use to dress vegetables or your favorite salad.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I customize this recipe by using different vinegars and different mustards.  Some times I use honey instead of sugar.  If I am in a crazy mood I will add some red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit.

So anyway, this is the vinaigrette that I added to my quinoa salad.  Simple dimple.  And so good.  So as 2015 rolls on, I hope to make some more fresh and healthful dishes.  No resolutions…just a positive change or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seven Super Spices-Going Yellow

8 Dec

Spices pack a surprising punch of positive health benefits.  Simply adding more spices into the daily diet can be an easy way to forge a new pathway to wellness.  So far we are creating new dishes with  cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger.

Continuing through the rainbow of spices is fun.  We are excitedly taking a leap to yellow on this culinary adventure.  Bursting onto the scene here is an unusual but not new spice for this country.  Here comes the “Queen of Spices” as it is known.  Time to discover, or rediscover, turmeric.

Turmeric is the main ingredient in curry.  But don’t chalk it off to being limited to Inidan dishes.  Yes, it is in many of our lentil dishes.  But surprise!  Turmeric is also what gives the mustard on our sandwiches its yellow color, so it certainly isn’t just for Indian cooking.

Turmeric has been used for centuries medicinally.  It is effective as an anti-inflammatory, and, like its relative ginger, can aid digestive problems as well.  Current research has indicated that turmeric destroys some types of cancer cells.  It can help improve glucose control in diabetics.  It is also credited with being an immune system booster.  Fantastic news, isn’t it?  Time to start cooking!

I have made chicken salad and tossed in some turmeric and curry.  I am pretty light handed with it because it packs a big flavor punch, and it is absolutely fabulous with chicken.  Unlike ginger, which I usually use fresh, I tend to use turmeric and curry dried.  Take your favorite chicken salad recipe and add 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric.  Or try my chicken salad recipe.  Try it as is or adjust the flavors for you and your crowd.  But at least this provides a jumping off point so give it a go!

Amy’s Curried Chicken Salad

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 to 2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 2-3 teaspoons curry powder (the turmeric is there)
  • 1 cup grapes cut in half (green or red)
  • 3/4 cup medium-diced celery, including leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and chill.  Serve on lettuce, put on bread for a sandwich, or grab a few crackers and savor this delicious salad.

Don’t have any chicken breasts on hand?  Go easy then, and make a smoothie using turmeric.  Here is a recipe, but feel free to customize it to your taste!

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 fresh mango, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • cinnamon to taste
  • Honey to taste for sweetening

Place ingredients in a blender.  Blend on high speed for 30 seconds.  Pour into a glass, pop a straw into it, and enjoy!

It is easy to start enjoying fresh spices.  There is no reason not to start using fresh new spices in a bold and flavorful step toward better wellness!

Just Squash it!

30 Oct

It is fall and time to cook up some squash!  And I am not talking about the little summer squash.  I am talking about the big honking fall squash, like acorn squash and my all time fav…spaghetti squash!

Squash is budget friendly, especially this time of year, so it is time to make the most of our food dollars!  Spaghetti squash is pretty big, and there are lots of ways to cook it.  I just plop it into a big soup pot, cover it with water, get it to boiling, toss the lid on, and then figure out what I am going to do with it while it simmers.

Spaghetti squash has a pretty neutral flavor profile, making it perfect to use in a million different ways.  It is packed with nutrition. low in fat, (if you allow it to stay that way) and wonderfully versatile!  Tonight I am making spaghetti squash bake with roasted vegetables.  You need a little time to do this because cooking a big squash cannot be rushed.  So pour a glass of Pinot Noir, and lets figure this out.

As I mentioned, I just boil my squash.  While that squash is simmering, I cut up 2 green zucchini. I had a package of precut mushrooms and some grape tomatoes too.  I placed the veggies on a parchment covered baking sheet, then added the mushrooms and tomatoes.  I doused this with a little olive oil, some vinegar, (true confessions…I love acidic food!), and dusted it with salt, pepper and herb de Provence.  The veggies cooked in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.

When the veggies were done, so was the squash.  It was out of the water, on the counter, and cut in half cooling.  I spooned out the seeds, much like cleaning out a pumpkin.  Only the flesh remained.  I raked it into strands and put that into a baking dish.  A little tomato sauce went on top.  Then the roasted veggies.  And here is when I got a bit naughty (sorry mom!). I sprinkled it with cheese.  Back into a 350 degree oven it went.

It baked for about 25 minutes, with lightly seasoned chicken breasts in the oven too.  The squash and chicken were ready at the same time.  Dinner was delicious!  Look at my story in pictures.

The strands of spaghetti squash.

The strands of spaghetti squash.

The roasted vegetables!  Yum!

The roasted vegetables! Yum!

spaghetti squab went into a baking dish and was topped with tomato sauce.

spaghetti squab went into a baking dish and was topped with tomato sauce.

Roasted veggies topped the tomato sauce, and cheese was sprinkled to finish it!

Roasted veggies topped the tomato sauce, and cheese was sprinkled to finish it!

Love the food…hate the breath?

13 Oct

I love great food.  And I eat just about everything, mostly in moderation.  Nothing beats an iceburg wedge salad with blue cheese on it.  Or a garlic infused roasted chicken.  But holy cow…that kind of eating can sure lead to some serious bad breath!

We have all done it. Cupped our hand from our mouth to our nostrils and huffed out.  Then breathed in deep. And thought “Is it bad?  Can I tell if it is bad?  What if I can’t tell!”

The anxiety of the possibility of bad breath is just too much, and we cannot resist the temptation to see four ourselves if, indeed, we have bad breath! But does this method work? Can we smell our own bad breath? Well, our nose is connected to our mouth, so this method is probably not effective.  We filter it out!

I think we all remember one teacher from grade school with the condition. They used to get right up close and personal, then whisper something discreetly. Man, a kid could just pass out from that blast of bad breath sent in our direction! Have we forgotten the juvenile nicknames for teachers possessing this affliction? Who can forget the 5th grade social studies teacher “Horse breath Hoffman” (my apologies to all horse lovers to whom this unfortunate nickname might offend).

As a mother, I know that I have been guilty of bad breath too. Driving carpool in the morning is not glamorous. I am certain that helping a kid get buckled in after a nights sleep, a cup of coffee, and no time to get a toothbrush in my mouth had to just about make my kids eyes roll into the back of their head! I guess none of us can escape bad breath every now and again.

Bad breath has a medical name. It’s halitosis. The word is as unpleasant as the condition. What causes it? Is it chronic?  Bad breath has many causes that range from offensive food to poor dental care. Eating strong foods such as garlic and blue cheese can contribute to bad breath.

Bacteria growing on the back of the tongue is also a major cause for halitosis. So is dehydration. It is a fairly common problem and can be chronic, meaning it is constantly present. Luckily it is preventable.

Good oral care helps rid our mouth of offensive breath. Brush and floss often. And don’t forget to brush your tongue too, all the way to the back of the tongue. Yes, your gag reflex may kick in, but try to do it anyway! Bacteria grows in our mouth, and good oral hygiene can get rid of halitosis causing bacteria.

Chewing gum can also help get rid of bad breath, in part because it stimulates saliva production. Drinking more water and staying properly hydrated can help prevent or get rid of halitosis too. The dentist is another great resource for helping get rid of bad breath.

So back to determining if we can smell our own bad breath. We may not be able to do it by cupping our hand from our mouth to our nostril, but there may be another way. Lick your wrist. Wait a few seconds. Smell it. That may be a good indication of what your breath smells like. So enjoy your garlic and blue cheese, drink some water, go to the dentist, and lick the back of your hand! Then sniffffffff!

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables Part Deux

4 Oct

Oops, I did it again!  Ugh!  I don’t mean to pat myself on the back in such an obvious way.  I am having a rare moment of confidence sprinkled with a dash of sassiness!  Anywhoooo, you know I love having leftovers around.  I made quinoa and roasted veggies the other night.  I also have some fabulous leftover grilled tuna medallions from last night.  Denis and I are heading out to the JV high school football game tonight, so no time to make dinner.  No worries.  I quickly packed up a cooler to take to the game.

Here is what I made to take to the game.  I sliced up the tuna, grabbed the leftover quinoa and veggies out of the fridge, along with some tortillas.  I laid a tortilla out and slathered the quinoa and veggies on it.  Next, I piled on some leftover tuna.  The great finish was some wasabi sauce.  Hey, what can I say?  I like a good kick of heat!  Then I rolled the tortilla up and sliced it in two.

I wrapped the tortillas in parchment paper.  Wrapping them this way makes them easy to eat on the run.  Into  the cooler they went, along with an apple, an apple cutter, some bottled water, and a few cookies.  After that kick of heat a bite of something sweet is perfect, so a few cookies were a must!

Out the door we went to cheer Quinn and his JV football team on!  We were able to munch on outrageously healthy food that was ready in a quick minute.  Sure beat the bleacher pizza and nachos that others were munching on.  Have a peek at my prerolled tortilla!  Yum!  What can you do with your leftovers?

Roasted veggie and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!

Roasted veggies and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!