Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cwazy Wabbit

Rabbit Drink–not drink MADE from rabbit!!

 

I had a weird uncle. Not a ‘funny’ uncle, though Ed surely did have a sense of humor. Nope, he was just weird. A “health nut,’ who ran five miles a day long before it was called “jogging” and people were writing books about it. He was eating brewer’s yeast and scarfing down homemade yogurt while the rest of America was chowing down on Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip.

Anyway, My late uncle Ed was weird, not just because of his strange culinary proclivities and his addiction to vitamins and working out, but because he spent nearly his entire adult life building a boat. Yep, just ONE BOAT. It was called the SOHO, and it was the bane of our existence throughout my formative years. I liked my uncle; aside from the familial love, I mean…I thought he was a cool guy, growing up.

He used to take me to Kaiser Health Foods in Santa Barbara, California, where he would order me a ‘Rabbit Ear.’ Easy to make; a lot of folks think it sounds gross, but…they’re fun, and very, very good…The carrot juice HAS to be fresh–no substitute is acceptable, and in fact will ruin the drink.

What you need:

  • At least 12 oz. fresh carrot juice (NOT canned!! yikes!) and well chilled
  • Sugar free vanilla ice cream
  • Carrot sticks

Fill a tall glass with about 6 oz of the carrot juice, then place a scoop of the vanilla ice cream on top, making a ‘carrot juice float.’ Garnish with two carrot sticks and…voila!  “The Rabbit Ear!”

Enjoy!! 😛

Old-fashioned…With a Twist

Mama's...and mine

Gotta make it your own… 🙂

So today I was feeling quite under the weather, having had a bad reaction to a perfectly good flu shot (yeah, right). I needed some comfort food, and, of course, nothing comforts ME like…that’s right PASTA

I wanted to make my mom’s spaghetti sauce, and I did, but with just a few minor little itty bitty changes…For some reason, ever since my gallbladder decided it no longer wished to reside in its former spot near the rest of my innards I’ve had some trouble with beef. Nothing else, just beef. And I LOVE beef–go figure. So for this recipe I substituted ground chicken thigh meat–and before you scoff, you scoffers, let me just say…YUMMIFICATION!

Wow. Who knew? Good stuff. I tossed in a can of roasted, diced tomatoes as well, along with the previously verboten fennel (just a pinch) mentioned in the I Remember Mama post where I give my mom’s original sauce recipe. AND I used cappellini, which I prefer over ‘regular’ full-size spaghetti.

Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, and she will be 85. She says she still feels like she’s 16 on the inside, but does not, however, claim this is a good thing.

God bless moms everywhere, who managed not to kill us in our cribs (MY mom blames the ‘cuteness factor‘) and who did the best they could with the information they had…

September 29, 2012   Austin, Texas

Colorful Cauliflower Soup

Just for today...

Words to remember…

Hat Tip on this recipe to J, my friend from the law firm of Forman, Adcock and Stir (NOT their real name of course) as well as to the Pioneer Woman.

Cauliflower has a lot of health benefits.  It is high in fiber, and as a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli), it is thought to have many good health benefits for the intestinal system and the bod in general. Feed the Temple, peoples! Feed the Temple! 🙂

As a non-starchy veggie, it has a Glycemic Index load of 1. Which means you get a lot of bang for your buck with this stuff. An entire head of cauliflower contains about 145 calories and has 14 grams of fiber.

But the main thing about this soup, aside from the health benefits, is that it ROCKS! Cooler weather is on its way, and this is just the kind of thing we begin to crave as we eat ourselves slim into the Fall season.

This soup calls for a white sauce, and I have given you a recipe which is modified to be low-fat, not non-fat, and low-cal. You can tweak this sauce to use corn starch if you are a non-gluten person. I use a little butter in this recipe; as always, feel free to leave it out if you wish–just please, if you’re tempted to Paula Deen it (no disrespect here, she’s totally awesome!), try to control yourself.

What you will need for the soup:

  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 heads of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets or relatively uniform pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced fine
  • 1 yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1-2 medium stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf (aka Italian) parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp grape seed or canola oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 32 oz. reduced sodium or no sodium chicken stock
  • 1-2 large bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and the oil over medium heat until the butter begins to just turn brown. Toss in the onions and stir for about 3-4 minutes, or until they just gain a bit of color. Add in the carrots and celery and toss with the onions to mix. Add in the cauliflower and the parsley, stir together, then reduce heat and cover. Allow vegetables to simmer together, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes. Then add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and keep pot covered.

Meanwhile, prepare your white sauce.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of white flour
  • 3/4 cup of non-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups of non-fat half and half
  • 1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (you can also use mozzarella if you prefer, just use an easy hand, yes? 😛 )
  • 1 tsp butter

In a medium saucepan, add the flour and whisk to remove any lumps or bumps. Slowly add in the 3/4 cup of non-fat milk, and whisk together well until smooth. Turn on heat to medium and slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of sour cream, then add the 2 cups of half and half, still whisking. Add in the nutmeg and whisk thoroughly. Increase heat slightly, and, stirring or whisking continuously, allow mixture to thicken. Once you see it begin to boil even slightly, remove from heat quickly. Whisk in the cheese and the small amount of butter. You may, if you wish, leave the butter out, as this soup will have a nice, rich flavor whether you add in that extra fat or not.

Slowly add the white sauce to your soup, stirring to blend. Add in the bay leaves, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and your soup is full of soupy goodness. Add your salt and pepper sparingly–there is some salt from the white sauce already in the soup due to the cheese, remember.

Suggestion: Garnish with non-fat sour cream placed in the bottom of the bowl or on the side, and a bit of parmesan or mozzarella cheese for an even richer flavor.

yummification!

Mmmmm….good stuff for a cool fall evening!

Bon apetit!

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: The Simple, Complex Truth

This carb stuff is CONFUSING!! Help!

“Good carbs,” and “bad carbs.” What’s the difference, and why should you care?

You should care because eating properly is about BALANCE. As Mr. Miyagi points out in the REAL Karate Kid, balance is not just for karate; balance is lesson for whole LIFE!  You cannot have a balanced diet without carbohydrates. You CAN, however, have a balanced diet without simple carbohydrates. There are two kinds of carbs: Simple (example: Snickers bar), and complex (example: baked potato). One is like a straight snort of crystal meth to your brainstem, and the other is, well, not. Complex carbs ease into your bloodstream and give you longer-lasting energy and satiety (satisfaction, including a “full” feeling), along with fats and proteins.

When you feel that urge to snack on simple carbs like candy and cookies, try something different. Combine protein (low-fat cheese, like a mozzarella string-cheese stick) with some crackers such as Pecan Nut Thins (by Blue Diamond, found in the Nut Thins aisle at your grocery store). SOME, I said, not ALL. Take it slowly, and give your body time to realize you’ve fed it. Most of us who overeat do so because we either don’t get the same signs from our diet-damaged brains that our slim brothers and sisters do, or we’ve lost touch with the signals our bodies give us. Or, maybe we eat because we’re bored. Whatever, we need to CHANGE the way we think about food, and the best way to do that is…

Eat your way into a new way of thinking. Don’t try to THINK your way into a new way of eating. Your tastes will change, your cravings will diminish, but you have to be patient, consistent and disciplined. Okay, you don’t HAVE to…but if you want to see a new you in the mirror, I suggest that you try another way. ‘Cause if you’re like me, the way I was doing it…wasn’t ‘doing it’ for me, if you get my drift.

And one more time, check out the Glycemic Index and let IT be your guide when it comes to carbs. You won’t be sorry, I promise you! 🙂

Lovely Lentil Soup

nope! not river rocks!

Beautiful before, yummified after!

What is a lentil, you ask? Lentils are legumes. As such they are high in protein and fiber and are considered to be an ideal weight-loss food due in part to their treasured low spot on the Glycemic Index. They look a bit like split peas, but do not be fooled. These are special little sprites, and will spice up your soups and stews with satisfying, stupefying, savory, yet simple splendor. (ha! Take THAT, alliteration fans!) 😛

They are, like many legumes, not particularly flavorful on their own, thus they will take on a lot of spicing up or combining with other foods with good grace. The following recipe is quick and easy, (and cheap!) and will make a satisfying addition to your eatyourselfslimblog.com collection, I guarantee!

What you will need:

  • Lentils, about 16 oz. You will find the green variety in the market near the beans and rice, and they come packaged in 12 oz. bags. The lentils pictured above were obtained as pre-mixed from Whole Foods, and were found…you guessed it! In the Lentil Aisle. Which is near the Chickpea Aisle, for those of you who are fond of the Hell Yeah, Hummus! recipe.
  • 1 onion, yellow, white or red, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, coined or diced (or however you prefer, so long as the pieces are relatively uniform in size
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 32 oz. chicken stock, low or no sodium
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1-2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tsp salt (I prefer kosher)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Suracha sauce (for heat)
  • 1/2 Tbs grape seed or canola oil
  • Plain, non-fat yogurt (optional)

What you do:

Lentils are very easy to prepare, and do not require soaking. Toss ’em into a colander or strainer and rinse those puppies well, then be sure to check visually and with your digits for small stones. No one wants to lose a tooth to the cause of slenderization. It’s not worth it, man. Trust me.

So rinse your lentils, make sure they are stone-free, and in a large pot or Dutch oven:

Heat the oil over medium high heat, then add the prepared vegetables, garlic, curry powder, garlic powder (if you so desire), salt, pepper (I grind in about three to four turns), and turmeric. [click HERE for some interesting and fun facts about this spice! :)] Sautee together until the onions soften. Add in the wine, stir, and when the alcohol scent has disappeared add in the lentils, chicken stock, water and bay leaves. Use one or two bay leaves, depending on how much you enjoy the flavor of bay. I use two. Stir together and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally and re-season as needed.

NOTE: Check your seasonings by tasting the broth while the lentils are cooking, and add in Suracha sauce to taste, adjust your salt, curry powder etc. Doing this periodically while cooking will ensure that you get the seasoning level YOU want, and that you do not over-season your fabulous creations.

Suggestion: To serve, add a dab of non-fat yogurt and stir well. This gives a bit  of acid ‘bite’ to the soup and increases the richness of the color as well, without adding a lot of calories. It also helps as a ‘cooling’ agent just in case you happen to have gotten a bit too free with the Suracha (hey, it happens to us all, no worries!). Lots of ‘good’ carbs in this dish means you’ll be satisfied and happy–give these lovely lentils a chance to work their magic–you’ll be glad you did!

Bon apetit!

Pollo Para el Corazón Roto

This is a dish that is simply irresistible, and  that is loaded with carbs (the good ones–complex carbs) and protein. It is low-fat not no-fat, and has a high level of satiety in spite of its low-fat recipe. This should safely feed four reasonably hungrified adults. I do not include any ‘starches’ in this meal, as this is not how we cook and feed at eatyourselfslimblog.com. Oh, nay nay! We get our carb fixes like good little kittens who found their mittens, so we can have PIE later 😛 Oh yes, my friends. We too can have pie…As you will see!

[Translation of the name: Chicken for the broken-hearted. Why do I call it this, you ask? Hey, let’s not get personal! This is a food blog, not a romance novel for Pete’s sake. And who the heck is Pete anyway? Let’s move on.]

Pico de gallo

Fresh is muy bien!

This recipe is made with pico de gallo, a fresh salsa which I prepare ahead using:

  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 medium shallot, diced fine
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded* and diced
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Suracha sauce (optional, for heat)

Set aside some limes to garnish the completed dish and to add acid, if necessary, after cooking. Chicken does not have a lot of flavor on its own, so can tolerate–and often requires– a lot of seasoning and heaps of elements like acid, heat, sweetness and crunch, so always remember to TASTE, SEASON, TASTEat all  stages of preparation and cooking.

NOTE: You may substitute white or yellow or red onion, leave out the green onion and use one of those mentioned instead, change up the peppers, or build this however you prefer. This is how I do it, and I find it muy delicioso, naturally. This part of the caloric equation is all vegetable, therefore not worth measuring. Lots of taste, practically zero calories. That’s how we roll up in la casa, ora le, ese! ^5 <–digital high five, for the uninitiated. 

Mix all ingredients together and let them marry either at room temperature or in the fridge. Be sure to taste for proper seasoning (and go easy with the salt, there peoples), especially heat. If you want more heat, add some Suracho. Less? Well, too late now!  (That’s what we call an educational moment.) If I’m going to use it in a recipe, as this one, I do not refrigerate, as that just gives the oven more work to do. If I’m going to use it as a salsa, then definitely refrigerate. PS: Watch out for touching your sensitive eyeball type area after handling peppers like jalapenos. ¡Lave las manos, and be thorough or usted será lo siento!

*If you prefer more heat, by all means, leave in the seeds. I take mine out, but this is your call 🙂

Now for the pollo part of the chicken for the broken-hearted.

What you will need:

  • About 1 to 1 and 1/2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Low fat buttermilk (optional)
  • 1 can (small) of low or no sodium black beans
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella or queso fresco cheese
  • 1 Tbs of oil (I prefer grape seed or canola for this recipe)
  • A large baking pan, glass or metal, 8 X 13 in size
  • Non-fat cooking spray (such as Pam ®)

Before making your pico de gallo, rinse your chick chick thighs under cold water and IF YOU DESIIRE,  place into a large bowl. Cover with buttermilk, cover and place in refrigerator to marinade. Two hours is a good time frame, longer will not hurt. Skipping this step also will not hurt–especially if you use chicken thighs. If you substitute breasts (and you surely may), I suggest brining or marinading in buttermilk to help them retain moisture when cooked.  Do I have to tell you be sure to follow proper handling instructions after messing around with chicken, etc.? (I thought not. But there’s a link for that further along, just in case.)

When you are ready to create your fabuloso Pollo Para el Corazón Roto, remove your chicken from the fridge and shake off the excess buttermilk, rinse, pat dry and set aside. (If you skpped the buttermilk soak, I don’t hold it against you.)  Heat the oil over medium  in a large frying pan. When the oil shimmers, it is ready to cook with. You do not need to wait for it to smoke–often by the time oil reaches the smoking point it is too hot, at least for browning.  Place each piece of chicken into the pan and cook until just browned on each side (about two or three minutes per side).

Once all the chicken is browned, give your baking pan a spray with the non-fat cooking spray to keep the chicken from sticking. Place the chicken in the pan, and cover with the black beans then the pico de gallo. Do not use all of the liquid from the beans–about 1/2 can worth is plenty for this recipe. and place uncovered in a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove and cover with the mozzarella cheese,.  Cook for approximately 25 minutes more. The cheese will be melted and bubbling. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 160°. And don’t tell me you don’t have a meat/poultry thermometer! We take our internal temperature issues very seriously here at eatyourselfslimblog.com!

Better safe than poisoned by your own cooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, for Pete’s sake GET ONE! [How did that Pete guy get in here again?]

Remove when done and let ‘rest’ for at least 10 minutes.

Garnish with lime wedges, and serve with non-fat sour cream on the side, sliced avocado, whatever vegetation you prefer. Even, if you like, a salad of your choice. Just watch those dressings. And to those of you saying, “I want chips and salsa!!” (oh yes, I hear you out there, I know your cravings), I say, GET A GRIP. Once you snarf up this dish, I promise you won’t want chips and salsa. Just try it, that’s all I ask 🙂

Bon apetit!

Not My Mama’s Spaghetti

A bit of cat does add a somewhat piquant flavor to your meal…

Okay food fans, now that you’ve been exposed to the old-fashioned Mom’s Spaghetti and Sauce, here’s my modern day, eat yourself slim alternative. I am a total pasta ADDICT and I admit it. Therefore, I do not eat pasta very often. And by that I mean every chance I get. Ha! Just testing you to see if you’re paying attention…

Seriously, pasta is not a ‘bad’ food according to the Glycemic Index, rather it is all the stuff we slather it with that makes it not a weight-conscious person’s first level of eating choices. So you might want to take it easy, regardless. Personally, I limit myself to once a week (or less), and a reasonable portion.  Here’s how I do pasta, typically…aside from making couscous salad. [The biggest time element is for this recipe is cutting up the veggies…so this one makes a good work-day dinner.]

This recipe should serve at least two reasonably voracious adults. If you don’t have the majority of the fresh herbs, feel free to use dried; keep in mind you may need to adjust all quantities of spices and herbs to taste. The fresh basil, however…Oh, I must insist! 🙂

What you will need:

  • Penne regata pasta, about 16 oz
  • 1 red onion or two small shallots, diced fine
  • About 8-10 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • 1  green zucchini, cubed
  • 1 yellow zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • About 6 oz of fresh cremini or button mushrooms, sliced moderately thick
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fennel
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (I use dried, sorry fresh fiends)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs  olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • Salt (I prefer kosher), to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced small, about 1/4 cup
  • Shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
  • 1-2 leaves of fresh basil, chopped fine

For the vegetables:

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the onion, garlic, oregano, fennel, thyme, rosemary, bell pepper, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook until onion is soft. Add in the wine and allow it reduce until there is no alcohol scent. Add in the tomatoes and allow to soften (you can ‘kill’ them by squishing a bit as they cook if you like–I do, it helps with all that work-day resentment and aggression and emotional waxy build-up…). Season with salt (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) and freshly ground pepper. Once the zucchini is fork tender, you are ready to serve, so remove from heat, cover to keep warm and make sure that meanwhile you have managed to…

Prepare the pasta:

  • In a large pot or dutch oven, bring several quarts of salted (use about 2 tbs) water to a boil. Taste the water–if you don’t taste salt, you need to add more.
  • Once at a rolling boil, add in the pasta, and stir to separate.
  • Cook until al dente
  • As soon as pasta reaches desired state of doneness, drain into a large colander. Do NOT rinse. We only rinse our pasta if we are going to put it into a salad, yes? YES!  Bueno!
  • Once drained, pour pasta into the pan with the vegetables and toss together. You may also do this by pouring into a pasta bowl and adding the veggies on top, then tossing.
  • Add in the mozzarella cheese and toss a bit more.

Serve with a garnish of parmesan cheese and the fresh basil, and there you have it! Not My Mama’s Spaghetti–which is appropriate, since this uses penne instead. 😛

 

   Helpful Hint: If you want to save ‘leftover’ pasta please anoint it with a bit of olive (or other) oil and toss it to coat. This will prevent your pasta from becoming a disgusting, gooey mess in the pot as it cools, or in the fridge. To re-heat, either boil fresh water and re-cook for about 10 seconds, drain and serve, or take the easy way and warm up in the (gasp!) MICROWAVE with the lid cracked just a tad.

Bon apetit!