This week has me absolutely swamped in getting ready for Christmas celebrations. Last night, Garth and I attended his Christmas party for work. It was at Vinny’s here in Fredericksburg, a nice little italian place I had never tried before. I indulged (way too much!) in a spicy vodka rigatoni with chicken and one (ok two…) pieces of garlic bread. What’s Christmas without a little carbohydrate loaded treat?
Today has me finishing up my holiday cookie/candy baking extravaganza. Every year since I was a little girl, my family always made huge amounts of cookies and candy (all from scratch of course!) to give as gifts to hosts, family, and friends. Even though I’m not traveling back to KY for the holidays, I still had to keep the tradition alive. It just doesn’t seem right.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon Balls, Snickerdoodles, and molasses cookies are at the top of my to do list, but yesterday I whipped up a quick buffalo chicken chili in the crockpot to munch on this week. I didn’t take a ton of pictures, but you can find the recipe below. Enjoy!
- Coconut oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, diced
- 4 whole carrots, chopped
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 can white beans (your choice)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar based hot sauce (I like Louisiana)
- Buffalo sauce, for garnish
- Diced avocado, for garnish
- Chopped green onion, for garnish
- Blue Cheese, for garnish
- Extra carrots and celery. for garnish
- Add a small amount of coconut oil to large pot and sauté garlic, onion, carrot, celery, cumin, chili powder until onions start to soften.
- Add chicken and brown over medium-high heat until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes.
- When chicken is fully cooked, pour in broth, tomatoes, beans, and hot sauce, stir well.
- Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings
Who says oatmeal cookies can’t be healthy and delicious? These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were made to be a sweet indulgence, without all the guilt. I hope you like them!
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (dark or semisweet)
- 2 eggs
- 2 TSP pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of milk (doesn't have to be dairy)
- 3 cups of old fashioned, rolled oats
- 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 all purpose: 1/2 whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 TBSP ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 325F
- Mix applesauce and brown sugar together until smooth
- Beat in 1 egg at a time, add both teaspoons of vanilla
- Whisk together flour, baking soda,and cinnamon. Stir into the sugar/applesauce mixture. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.
- Drop heaping teaspoons onto baking sheets (with cooking spray). You should have enough or about 36 cookies.
- Bake 15 to 17 minutes (depending on the size of your cookie drops). Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Most of you guys know I am cooking my way through the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I’m really trying to “broaden my horizons”, as corny as that sounds, to explore different types of proteins, etc. The most successful eating habits and lifestyle changes (health care professionals and registered dieticians agree) are those that are varied, sustainable, and intuitive. The best way to make healthy choices every day is to mix things up! If you are always trying something different, you won’t feel deprived of anything.
I have a HUGE amount of respect for bodybuilders and people who strength train for aesthetic gains, but there is no way I could be successful at eating 4 oz of chicken, half a sweet potato, and broccoli for six different meals a day. I would probably eat two meals and then find myself in the Taco Bell drive thru without even blinking! All that being said, Thug Kitchen is helping me explore some fun meatless options.
Hence my latest adventure with tofu….
Warning: I had never cooked with tofu before. This was an absolute first. It wasn’t pretty. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted fantastic but there are no beautiful photos to accompany this post. Sorry….
I made the Mixed Veggie and Tofu Chilaquiles. Chilaquiles, while I’m not 100 percent sure on how to describe them, are very much like a loaded nacho platter without the distinct layers. This vegan recipe replaced cheese with nutritional yeast (which I LOVE!) and used a medium-firm tofu, which has the consistency of scrambled eggs. In addition, it incorporates a ton of veggies, which could be easily interchanged for whatever you had left in the fridge or your family preference. It called for lots of peppers and spinach, but I threw in a zucchini and some greens that were on there last leg (I hate being wasteful).
It was also a super quick meal! Start to finish it took me about 25 minutes and there is no thawing ingredients involved. The flavor was strong and definitely worked for my constant need to satisfy a Mexican craving. I think next time I will wait till much later in the cooking process to add the corn tortillas, I would like a little bit more crunch in my bowl. Overall, a big win and despite tofu, I think it would even be Garth approved!
courtesy of the Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*** Cookbook
I’ve been trying to incorporate more meatless meals into my diet weekly. Not because I want to cut calories necessarily or want to forego meat, but because it really makes me expand my cooking techniques and I try lots of new ingredients that otherwise I would just neglect. Discovering Wegmans has not helped either (it makes Whole Foods Market look like absolute weak sauce…no offense).
I picked up the Thug Kitchen cookbook at Target a few weeks ago, and I’m slowly cooking my way through, my sort of “cooking challenge”. It’s a vegan cookbook, with some very raunchy language (parents beware!), but they have super easy and creative recipes.
I started out by making these Black Bean Tortas with Coconut Chipotle mayo. A torta is essentially a mexican sandwich, and I made a few changes to the recipe in that I used a few different types of hot sauce and changed up the bread that was used (just personal preference).
I started out making the coconut chipotle mayo. Combine 1 cup of canned coconut milk, 1/3 cup of hot sauce ( I used Cholula, a personal favorite, but it recommended any chipotle hot sauce), 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon), 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt to taste
Throw all these ingredients as is into a food processor or blender and run on high for 1 minute. Add more hot sauce if you want, then store it in the fridge until ready to use. It will get thicker the longer you let it cool.
After finishing the mayo, start on your black beans. Heat a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil ( I used coconut) in a medium to large pot over medium high heat. Saute 1 onion, finely chopped, until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add 2- 15 oz cans of low sodium black beans (drained) and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until completely warmed through and well combined. Mash up the beans to a chunky consistency. Add the juice of 1 lime and salt to taste. It’s not going to look pretty…just trust me.
While the beans are cooking, toast a crusty bread/roll of your choice. I used a loaf of ciabatta bread, cut into 4 sandwiches, and toast in the oven.
Toast well, you don’t want a soggy sandwich in case there is some liquid left in the beans (lesson learned ). Smear a generous amount of mayo on the toasted bread, pile on 1/4 of the bean mixture. Some great add on ideas are lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, some fresh cilantro, and of course, more hot sauce. I enjoyed mine with a side salad, but it’s a full meal on it’s own! Enjoy
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 1/3 cup hot sauce; like Cholula
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 TBS ground chia seeds
- 1 TSP lemon juice
- 1/2 TSP garlic powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 TSP olive/coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, medium, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBS chili powder
- 3/4 TSP ground cumin
- 2 15 oz cans low sodium black beans; drained
- Juice of 1 lime
- salt to taste
- 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
- lettuce/tomatoes/red onion/avocado/fresh cilantro
- Chipotle Mayo
- Throw all ingredients directly into food processor. Run on high for 1 minute. Add more hot sauce to taste. Store in fridge to thicken
- Creamy Black Beans
- Heat oil in pot on medium high heat. Saute onion until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Add beans and stir well. Simmer on medium low for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through. Mash up until chunky in texture. Add lime and salt.
- Cut ciabatta loaf into fourths and toast well. Smear generously with mayo and black bean mixture. Add lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, cilantro, etc. and top with more hot sauce. Serve with side salad, lightly dressed.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately at the pharmacy about getting the most bang for your buck when purchasing nutrient dense food. Superfoods by definition are foods that have multiple, over the top nutritional benefits. We all know about salmon, almonds, eggs, and spinach; but many of their lesser known counterparts can add a real boost to your meal options. Here are few options to check out the next time your headed to the grocery store!
Acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee, in case you had NO clue like me) is a small, purple berry that is making waves as a weight-loss aid and anti- aging product. The berry has very high levels of anthocyanins, which help heart disease and cancer by fighting free radicals in the body. Oddly enough, it is also a source of oleic acid, which is the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. Acai is popping up all over the grocery store in the forms of frozen berries, dried berries, powders, and juices. Avoid the juices (packed with added sugar) but a few options are:
-Added to a smoothie with other berries, greek yogurt, and some hidden veggies. Add a little honey for sweetness.
-In a bowl with bananas, homemade granola, and fresh strawberries/blueberries.
-In a baked dish, like this recipe for acai truffles
Maca is a root vegetable that is grown in the Andes Mountains. It’s picked, dried, and then processed into powder. Maca has been used to boost energy, endurance, and libido (yes please ). It’s known as an adaptogen, which means it can undo fatigue and helps with regeneration and repair. It has a rich, nutty flavor and lends itself best to:
-incorporating into baked goods, like this mexican chocolate maca bark (what a great holiday treat!)
-mixed into a post workout protein shake or smoothie
-homemade energy bars for during those long runs when you need a little boost!
Goji berries are super easy to find in just about every major supermarket. They have tons of vitamin C and are great for vision, poor circulation, and to boost the immune system. Look for them in the dried food bins.
-Sprinkle them over oatmeal or yogurt
-Make a homemade trail mix with almonds and shredded coconut
Kefir is similar to yogurt, but is made from fermented milk. It is a huge source of probiotics, which are excellent for immune health and good digestive health. It can be found in the refrigerated dairy aisle (usually with the yogurt) or you could try making it yourself!
Cacao, like its cousin chocolate, contains flavonoids, which are known to help lower blood pressure and increase circulation to the brain and heart. It has less than 15 calories/tablespoon, has no fat, but tastes very, very much like chocolate(!). Make sure and choose the raw/non-alkalized versions to get max nutritional power. Mix into a smoothie or try these amazing brownie batter balls.
FYI, not psychoactive ingredients here. These seeds are super high in protein and contain all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair. They also contain the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. They have a very neutral taste, so you can add them to just about anything; like soups, salads, or rice dishes. This pesto sauce sounds really fun!
Kale has taken a back seat to spinach for many years now, but it is making a HUGE comeback. Kale is actually a member of the cabbage family (a cruciferous vegetable aka see Sheldon’s theory from BBT ). Kale is packed with vitamins, is super high in fiber, and is incredibly nutrient dense while being very low in calories. It makes a great salad, but it is also amazing sauted with some garlic, crushed red pepper, and balsamic vinegar over the top. Blend it in with a smoothie and you will never even know it is there. Try this recipe for a great green smoothie. It’s my personal favorite
Nutritional yeast is actually deactivated yeast and has no leavening agent left. It’s a great source of protein, fiber, and B12 (which is really hard to find outside of beef). It has a super cheesy flavor, so sprinkle it on top of anything to get back that cheese taste without all the fat and calories. This can also be found in the bulk dry bins, easy to try just a little to get you started. Try it as popcorn topping for your kids, sprinkle it on top of a baked potato, or on top of a pasta dish. Try a lasagna recipe and replace the top layer of cheese with this, you will see the calories drop!
This article was long winded, but hopefully it gives you some great ideas for incorporating a few new foods into your diet. Spontaneity fends off cravings and helps keep everyone on track!
Do you have any favorite superfood recipes? What are your favorite brands?
Zucchini noodles are an amazing addition to the low card, diabetes friendly diet. I’ve been playing around with a lot of different recipes the last few weeks trying to find one that kept the noodle like consistency without turning into mush after cooking. This flash cook stir fry hits the spot. Asian Zucchini Noodle Stir-Fry with Shrimp is a great alternative to those take out cravings.
An easy, low sugar homemade stir-fry sauce + zucchini noodles + chopped veggies + garlicky shrimp means a quick 30 minute meals from start to finish.
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons sesame oil ,divided
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced small
- 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
- 2/3 cup sliced red onions
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles (using a spiralizer)
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch. Set the mixture aside.
- Place a large sauté pan or wok over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons sesame oil and and heat it for 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring as needed, until the shrimp are cooked throughout and pink on all sides, about 3 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and then transfer them to a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, then add the red pepper, carrots, red onions and snow peas and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are crisp but tender. Add the prepared sauce and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Return the shrimp to the pan, stirring to combine, then add the zucchini noodles and cook, tossing to coat, for 1 minute.
- Transfer the stir-fry to serving plates, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.
- Recipe adapted from Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste
I work incredibly long shifts, most that cover at least 2 meal times, not to mention snacks,etc. One of the biggest reasons people fall prey to bad choices and fast food is because they fear the time it takes to put a packed lunch together. They just don’t have time to pack lunch for work or school. I mastered the art of packing a variety of lunches since college,grad school, etc. because eating healthy (and cheap!) has always been high on my priority list. All you need is an extra five to ten minutes to open your fridge and throw together an awesome, healthy, and cheap meal!
Some people choose to plan there meals out very specifically for the week; whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. While it sounds like a great idea, it is not sustainable for me. Things come up, a friend wants to go out to eat, or I’m just not “in the mood” to eat. This leads to me wasting a good portion of the fresh groceries I buy during the week. Because of this, I find it much easier to have some regular ingredients always on hand, high quality snacks, and utilize leftovers/odds and ends to put together a quick lunch. One of my favorite go-to lunches is what I call a “garbage salad”. Here is the breakdown…
I start with a good size storage container, bigger than you think you need (trust me ). I throw in a variety of mixed greens, whatever you like. I love mixed greens and arugula.
Optionally, I add some sort of grain. This is not very often. If I have extra rice, quinoa, barley, etc. I will throw in ~1/4 cup or so, just so it’s not going to waste. Careful if your watching your blood sugar, but makes sure it’s a high fiber, 100 percent whole grain, high protein option always.
Next up, load up on veggies. Precut rocks. Buy them before hand or take some time while your prepping dinner one night to cut up a little extra. My favorites are matchstick carrots. mini cucumbers, red and green peppers, red onion, and snap peas. Feel free to mix it up and use up whatever is hanging out in the fridge. I’m a huge fan of fat so this is a great time for me to use up avocado. I love to add 1/4 to 1/2 of avocado to the salad for some healthy creaminess. Careful with your portion sizes!
No garbage salad is complete without some protein. Never ever skip this step, no matter how small. This is what stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps you from binging on horrible food later! Whatever leftover meat/eggs/etc. you have in your fridge just throw it on top. If your starting from scratch, I love canned beans. Cheap and easy, doesn’t get any better than that. I love black, chick peas, cannellini, and black eyed peas. They hold up really well in salads of all types. Just dump 1/4-1/2 a can on top of that salad and go. Save the rest for tomorrow
Now comes for the fun part. Top it with some dressing and get creative! Salsa and mustard, on their own or in combo with a little salad dressing, is a great low calorie way to add flavor to your garbage salad. In addition, cut your salad dressing use in half by cutting it with rice vinegar. This thins the dressing and gives great acidity to any dressing, creamy or oil based. Big calorie slasher! If you want. add some cheese, just go easy I love feta…never gets old.
To go with your garbage salad, throw a piece of fruit in the bag for a little sweetness. Don’t forget a few snacks! I like plain greek yogurt (no added sugar) with berries and a sprinkle of granola or cinnamon, a low carb protein bar (recipe to come!), and some roasted almonds. Mix it up! Just make sure they are good quality, clean foods. So many snacks, even if low sugar or “healthy” are packed with preservatives and junk fillers. Keep it simple, your body and pocket book will appreciate it!
And a serving of roasted almonds!
All packed and ready to go!
Salads aren’t the only way to go. Stay tuned in the future for quick recipes that can be prepped ahead of time and ready to go in no time.
What’s your secret for a quick and healthy packed lunch?
Speaking of, I need to head to work. Better get my own lunch ready
Check out my boards on Pinterest for more packed lunch ideas!
Tacos are such a versatile food. A quick fix for any day, this vegetarian option (once again adapted from the American Diabetes Association cookbook, gives you a chance to have a meatless day!
Roasted Veggie Tacos
2 medium zucchini, small dice
5 large carrots, small dice
1 small onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1 cup shredded lettuce
½ cup Queso fresco cheese (or reduced-fat shredded cheddar)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place zucchini, carrots, onions, and red pepper on baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; toss to coat. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven.
- While vegetables are baking, heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add tomato and sauté for 1 minute. Add beans, chili powder, cumin and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Add cooked vegetables to pan and mix well.
- Serve ½ cup veggie mixture in each taco and top with lettuce and cheese.
On days when I’m spending all day at the pharmacy, the last thing I want is to come home and spend another hour on my feet preparing dinner. At the same time, I don’t want to succumb to the temptation of “just grabbing something”. Once again, adapted from the American Diabetes Association Cookbook This chicken recipe is a quick fix for both!
Oven Barbecue Chicken
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 of a finely diced onion
2 tablespoons brown sugar (splenda mix is fun!)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
4, 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Place chicken in a 9×13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover chicken evenly with 1 cup barbecue sauce.
- Back for 20-25 minutes, baste with remaining sauce, and cook another 5-10 minutes.
Eggs are a staple for just about every breakfast at the Wiechart household. This recipe for Huevos Rancheros makes a great weekend brunch fix, or even breakfast for dinner! Once again, I adapted this from the American Diabetes Association Cookbook.
4 corn tortillas
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon of fajita seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large eggs
1 ounce shredded mexican-blend cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place tortillas on baking sheet and bake 3 minutes on each side.
- Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, and fajita seasoning in a medium nonstick skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Break one egg into a measuring cup. Carefully slide egg onto the tomato mixture. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Simmer gently over medium heat, covered, 2 ½ to 3 minutes or until whites are completely set and yolks just begin to thicken slightly.
- Place a tortilla on each of four dinner plates. Top with the tomato mixture and eggs. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro.