Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New found love...

Who would have guessed that I would ever say goat cheese?! It's true, the soft, rich, deeply creamy, slightly tangyness of it has won me over. I had tried it in the past and remember enjoying it but for some reason had stopped buying it. Well, it's back on the shopping list again because after I paired it with sauteed spinach, fish, and my garlic, onion balsamic reduction I am again hooked. The flavors and textures together were like a symphony! Salty, sweet, creamy, tangy, and so rich. What a wonderful complexity it added to my meal. Perhaps I'll start swapping out my crumbly blue in salads for goat cheese now and try adding it to my roasted butternut squash! Back to the drawing board but a quick recipe for the back pocket...

Sauteed Spinach with Balsamic and Goat Cheese

2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 T olive oil
1/4 of an onion, julienned
3 cloves of garlic sliced very thin
1 ounce of goat cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee garlic and onion in oil on medium until golden and soft.
Pour in 1/4 cup balsamic and let reduce to half.
Once reduced, add spinach and season with s and p and sautee just until wilted.
Remove from heat, plate, and crumble goat cheese all over.

Delicious as is or perfect as a bed for chicken, fish, etc.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Healthy, Holistic living.....Me on my Soap Box

Reading about healthy living is a no-brainer for me, especially when I feel like I'm learning about the benefits of eating well. As an early-riser, I usually have some free time before I go to work and it's in these wee hours that I will sit and read through nutrition articles online. I'm always amazed by how ridiculous some of the nutrition information is, though I am even more shocked by what people are willing to do to lose weight. No, I'm not a doctor or a registered dietitian yet, but what I do know is that the most basic of all the theories is the best... keep it simple.

There is no magic to weight loss. If you want to lose weight, feel better, live a longer and healthier life, than eat a diet that consists of vegetables, fruits, lean meats and healthy fats. Yes, yes we've heard it all our lives, but maybe that's because there is such validity to eating this way. Free your bodies of all the chemicals, preservatives, additives and refined foods that you're consuming, on a daily basis, and eat the way nature intended. Foods that work with our bodies, rather than against them, provides nutrients with each bite rather than yellow-5, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated soybean oil.

Not only are these highly-processed foods filled with artificial preservatives, but are addicting and nutrient-deficient. The added sugars, fake flavors and complete lack of vitamins and minerals trick your brain into making you want more. That's why it's easy to finish an entire box of Cheeze-Itz without blinking an eye. Now, not only have you consumed all of those laboratory-created ingredients, but you've just put away 2000 calories of nothing but junk. Now guess where those 2000 calories are headed... Yup, right to your fat stores.

Try eating some apples and see how many you actually can eat. I have yet to hear about someone being able to consume a thousand calories worth of apples. Why? Because it's real food. Your body is satisfied when it is given nutrients and will signal you to stop before you can polish off no more than a couple hundred calories. 200 is a lot fewer than 2000 and that apple packs more nutrients in that amount than the monstrous amount from the junk food.

Think of it this way... WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. Would you rather have your body creating cells from preservatives and artificial ingredients or from foods straight out of the earth; wholesome and pure? The sad part is that most people would rather keep eating poorly and be worse off than eat holistically and live a longer, healthier life.

Let me leave you with one thought... You're worth it!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Farmer's Market Trips

I love Saturday mornings. For one, I wake up for nothing. Even though I'm a very early riser naturally, I crawl out of bed and relish in the fact that I don't have to go into work. It is truly my day to do whatever I want, whenever I want. One thing in particular is the quaint farmer's market downtown. Although small, it is filled with a bounty of local produce, meat, and eggs, handmade crafts and jewelry. It opens at 8 am and you better believe that I am one of the first ones there. Noodle and I hop in the car, windows open, the new day's cool air swirling around us and make the 12 minute drive downtown.

I love being there early because I get first dibs on everything. My favorites there are the red bell peppers and farm fresh eggs and I am sure to load up on both of them. While I am a fan of all the vegetables there, these two go very quickly and cannot be purchased in the grocery store. The red bells are gorgeous, nothing like the ones out of grocery stores. Their flavor is so concentrated and sweet and their imperfect shapes make them even more beautiful. The eggs are so fresh that most were just collected off the yard the day before. After I started eating these, tasting an egg from the grocery store was almost flavorless. It is evident from the flavor and color of these golden yolks that the birds are fed well, roam free, and are cared for well.

I usually leave the farmer's market with bags hanging all over filled with butternut squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, onions, tomatos and my eggs and peppers. It looks as though I'm feeding a family of four for the next two weeks when really... it's just me! Amazingly I'm right back there again in a week ready to collect yet again!

The best part is bringing them home and creating delicious, healthy, fresh meals from them all week long. Stuffed peppers, zucchini pasta, roasted butternut squash and so on. My mind spins with all the ideas! One of my absolute favorites that I could truly subsist on daily is my butternut squash recipe with walnuts and sage. If you're not a fan already you soon will be after this!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbs, Walnuts and Parmesan Cheese

1 large butternut squash 2 T dried sage
1 t dried thyme
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder 2 T olive oil 1/3 cup chopped walnuts 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese 1 t salt

Skin, seed and cube squash. Toss with 1 t salt, sage, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and olive oil. Roast at 375 until tender, about 45 minutes tossing half-way through or until squash begins to golden. Add nuts and cheese and let sit in oven five final minutes minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for three minutes. Makes a perfect side dish or meal on it's own.

Serves 4

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Incredible, Edible Egg!

I haven't met many people who don't like eggs. Sure, we all have our favorite ways of eating them, scrambled being the most popular nationwide (last I heard), but it's rare to find someone who doesn't find Eggs Benedict or a big, fluffy, cheesy omelet irresistible.

The egg may seem like a simple food but really and truly, it's incredible! Eggs have been celebrated in many different forms since the dawn of civilization. Not only have they served as a source of food since their discovery but they have been used to symbolize everything from fertility, the creation of life, friendship, love, and religion by people of all statuses worldwide.

Aside from the history, the nutrient profile for eggs is just as impressive. Yes high in fat and shunned by many, this incredible food is jam-packed with nutrients. Inside that bright yolk lies more than just cholesterol. Vitamins such as A, D, and B, Heme iron, folate, carotenoids, calcium, essential fatty-acids, amino acids and about a dozen more minerals fill the contents of the delicate shell. The protein in egg whites is 99% digestible, which is the highest percentage of all other protein sources available.

Incredible but simple, delicious and versatile the egg is an amazing little gem. Make it savory, make it sweet, eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner but overall just make sure to eat it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ooo, ooo, ooo I love you!

I say fa-hi-ta, my husband says fa-jy-ta but either way I love fajitas! I can remember always begging my mom to let me order them when we went to TGIF's for dinner as a kid and even then I never had a problem polishing them off. Whatever it is about this delicious dish has me hooked and in all honesty, I could eat these everyday. Any time of the day. Yes, even breakfast.

Who doesn't love peppers, onions and chicken sauteed up in smoky southwest flavors, wrapped up in a warm tortilla and covered in salsa and sour cream! I'm salivating! I make these at least once a week and only because I'm doing too much other experimenting to make them everyday. Trust me, I would.

Everyone makes fajitas differently. Even I change things up sometimes in an attempt to explore different flavor combinations. What I don't stray from though is the basic ingredients. Well, I lied. I have been known to top them with peanut butter instead of sour cream or guaca mole but that's a different post!

My Fajitas! Ole!

1/2 pound chicken breast, sliced into strips or small chunks
1 lime
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic
1 t sugar or honey
1 t salt
2 T oil
1 medium onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper

Combine chicken through 1 T oil in a large resealable bag and let marinate at least 1 hour.

Thinly slice onion and peppers and add to a medium-high heated pan coated with 1 T oil. Let vegetables brown 1 minute before stirring around. You want to let them sear rather than mixing them to create that carmelization.

When vegetables are beginning to soften and brown slightly (5-8 minutes) add chicken reserving marinade.

Let chicken brown as well and once cooked through pour marinade plus a splash of water (2-3 T) into pan and cover. This will deglaze the pan and get all the yummy bits off the bottom.

After 30 seconds remove lid, give the chicken and veggies one more mix and then serve.

Eat like a salad or put into a warm tortilla with whatever you desire. Guacamole, sour cream, cheese, salsa, etc.

Variations of this dish are endless but this seems to be my favorite. The touch of lime and sugar take this to a whole new level and really help to balance out the smokiness from the cumin and chili.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spaghetti Squash

I started playing around with spaghetti squash years ago but was never really impressed with the end product. It always turned out mushy, soggy and when I would scrape it out of the skin it never really came out stringy but rather in big chunks. I eventually gave up on trying to like it and stopped buying it.

Years later brings us to today and I again decided to give this guy another shot. I was seeing recipes including it that sounded wonderful so I went and bought myself a nice big one from the farmers' market. Eureka! I just made a dish that is an absolute keeper with just one little change... cooking the heck out of it! I put it in the oven for about two hours at 375 degrees F and it came out PERFECTLY! The flavor difference from what I remembered was night and day and the texture was just as I always thought it should be. I let it cool for about 45 minutes and began the scraping process; perfection. No mush, no sogginess and no chunks. Just beautiful al dente strands of squash.

I tested the taste of it with a sprinkling of salt and knew I had found a new staple ingredient for my kitchen. It was flavorful, slightly creamy with just a bit of firmness in the center. I used this in a new recipe for lunch and absolutely loved it! Didn't miss the pasta one bit!

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Mushroom Sauce

1 1/5 cups spaghetti squash, cooked
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 large onion julienned
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 ounces ground turkey
1 ounce parmesan or asiago cheese
1/2 c tomato sauce, unflavored
1 T oil
1/4 t each, salt, dried rosemary, sage, thyme

Sautee onions and mushrooms in oil pan set at medium heat.

Once veggies begin to brown and liquid has evaporated lower the heat to medium low and add garlic.

Once garlic has softened and lightly browned add ground turkey and season with salt and herbs.
Once turkey is fully cooked pour tomato sauce into pan and coat entire mixture.

Add squash to pan to re-warm and toss with sauce.

Plate and top with tons of freshly grated asiago or parm!

This serves one!