Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Saute the Squash

30 Jul

I am always looking for something new with my side dishes. At meals, I like to feature more protein, veggies, and fruits than starches. Oh sure, starches are super yummy,  but I tend to opt for fresher options. Since i enjoy cooking, I also like to keep up with food trends and techniques.

That said, I work full-time, am a mom, and have a pretty packed lifestyle. Time is my most valuable commodity. I usually save my big new cooking adventures for weekends when I have more time to tinker in the kitchen. Sometimes I luck out and trying something new can be added into my weeknight “quick cooking” repertoire. Which is exactly what happened recently.

I had a gift card for a cookware store from my sweet sister in law Kathy. What fun! Going into a kitchen store, for me, is delightful and indulgant. But even with a gift card I look for the biggest bang for my buck. In a kitchen store, that means that I would not invest in a “single use” kitchen gadget. What I mean by that is if a kitchen tool only has one use, it has no place in my kitchen. Unitl now…..

I had seen the new trend with sprializing zucchini and squash. “Zucchetti” was the clever moniker, and this new technique for zucchini resembled pasta like spaghetti and lasagna noodles.  So naturally I was drawn to this cool new kitchen tool, and sought it out gift card in hand. Bingo! I found one and couldnt wait to get home and try it.

This gadget was a snap to work from the get go. I spiralized large and small width “Zucchetti”. I sauteed tomatoes to pair with it, and it turned out so well it is now on the dinner table (and lunch leftovers at the office!) quite often. Let me show you what I did.

 

I placed some freshly washed grape tomatoes into a small saucepan with a bit of olive oil, and let that simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes. The tomatoes got saucy, fragrant, and creamy. After that,  I simply sautéed the spiraled squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then combined the two, and voila! I finished it off with some fresh parsley and basil from my summer garden. With a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese it was a complete, and completely delicious, side dish.

 

 

Zuchetti has become so much more than a simple side dish this summer. I have used this with marinara sauce, a bright lemony shrimp sauce, and other pasta sauces using zuchetti instead of pasta noodles. Whether using this as a side dish or a feature in the center of the plate item, this is a tasty replacement for starchy rice or pasta.

So even though I purchased a kitchen gadget that had basically one function, the flexibility of what can be done with the spriralized zucchini is endless.  Now my zuchetti is a mainstay for light and tasty meals. What can you do with it?

 

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The Big Banjo

22 Feb

Eating in restaurants is a much larger part of the american lifestyle in 2015 than when I was young.  Being one of five kids in a big catholic family, it was a feat to not only get us all out, but surely it was a budget buster too.  Good thing we had the Big Banjo just a short car ride away.  When I was little, going out to the Big Banjo for pizza was a big treat.  Families lined up on picnic bench seating while old black and white films showed on the back wall.

When the movies stopped, words to sing-a-long songs appeared on the screen, and we would sing old favorites like Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  Big Banjo was a blast.  The kids got pizza and soda pop, a big treat, and the parents got a pitcher of beer with all of the other parents because, after all, it was Friday night.  The restaurant was always packed.

The Big Banjo.  A Friday night favorite for my family when I was a kid.  This picture does NOT include my parents huge evergreen colored Oldsmobile Delta 88 parked out front...

The Big Banjo. A Friday night favorite for my family when I was a kid. This picture does NOT include my parents huge evergreen colored Oldsmobile Delta 88 parked out front…

(photo Courtesy of Jean Turley)

Family restaurants are a little more sophisticated these days, and it just isn’t the big family event to dine out like it was 15 or twenty years ago.  A generation ago about 25% of the family food budget went toward eating out, and now that number has more than doubled.  Since families dine out more, it isn’t the “splurge” it was years ago.  Today when a family dines out, healthier options are available.   How do we eat healthier when we eat out?  Lets talk about that.

Healthy choices now abound at restaurants.  Here are a few tips to remember when dining out:

  • Order your protein steamed or baked instead of fried.
  • Make water your beverage of choice.
  • Ask for salad dressing on the side.  You tend to use less dressing when you dip.
  • Have tomato sauce over cream sauce.
  • Eat slowly.  Set your fork down between bites and sip your water.
  • Order veggies as a side dish with your meal.  If you are getting pizza, leave the meat off of it.

Even a small change can make a big difference toward healthy lower calorie dining options.  Do it for yourself, and be a good example to others.  At Big Banjo, we splurged with our food.  Now, eating out as a family happens more frequently, so choosing more nutrient dense food is important and getting easier at restaurants.  .

My beloved Big Banjo is long gone.  You can still find restaurants that are a splurge with the food.  But for a family, dining out is a regular event these days.  So make good choices.  What changes can you make with your family?

 

 

bar food and leftovers

19 Aug

We are busy.  Kids, careers, appointments, and life in general keeps us busy.  As a nutrition professional, I get asked what I eat all the time, and how to eat healthy when time is tight.   Like I am some kind of benchmark for perfect eating habits.  Or always ready to dispense advice.   Um, I like to get away from my job too.  It’s true that I enjoy healthy food and an active life style.  But hey, even I get tired, cranky, and just want to cheat a little with my meals every once in a while.

It’s no secret that I think leftovers are fantastic to have around.  I like leftovers because they can either be a quick meal or a starter for something else great.  Leftover chicken can be eaten by itself or added to some other dish to create something else, like a chicken veggie pasta dish (healthy) or a quesadilla (bar food).  Either way, leftover chicken, or any leftover protein, is great to have in the fridge.  That is why I cook big and try to keep leftovers handy.

I usually try to have extra’s in the fridge or freezer to get a meal together in a snap.  Staples are a must, and by staples, I mean a well stocked pantry.  That leaves the option of then taking one or two fresh things along with leftovers and easily creating something great.  Sometimes leftovers stand alone, sometimes they becomes something else, like bar food.

By bar food, I mean eating something that is not quite a complete meal.  It’s a nibbler, but more filling, and is great for when you are just too exhausted to put a whole meal together.  Sprinkled into a healthy diet, it isn’t all that bad.  Moderation is key.

It happens to be Sunday evening.  This weekend was not particularly, well, rejuvenating.  My busy week carried over to a very busy weekend.  So tonight it is bar food and leftovers.  We have leftover chunky horse radish spread.  Slap it  on bread, add some cheese, pop into a pan and it’s a little grilled cheese.

Next comes a few bites of leftover melon.  Using fingers.  No utensils to wash.  Then a handful of salt free almonds along with a big glass of refreshing ice cold water.  Yum.  Next, a small portion of leftover spaghetti with a tomato vegetable sauce goes in to the microwave for a quick heating.

That’s it.  A little of this, a little of that.   Not ideal, but for a tired mom, this works every now and again.  True confessions…it’s okay to piece together a meal every now and again.