Sunday, July 22, 2012

90/10 Week 5

Two more weeks until the "after" picture!  Time to step it up and start getting serious.  Like cramming for an exam in college: same concept.  Now it's time to do the things you should have been doing all along.  More sleep.  More ab ripper.  More yoga.  Less wine.   Maybe it will be more effective than cramming for an exam. 

Monday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney, Steamed Green Beans, Steamed Brown Rice

(for 90/10, substitute 1/4 C. agave nectar for the brown sugar)

Tuesday: Lime Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Mexican Corn on the Cob

Lime Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
3 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. ground red pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
cooking spray
2 C. water
1/2 c. diced sweet red pepper
1 T. chopped purple onion
1 C. dried canned black beans
1/2 C. unsweetened orange juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy duty ziploc bag, add chicken and seal bag.  Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade.  Place marinade in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat; set aside.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray.  Grill chicken at med heat (350-400 degrees), until chicken is done, basting chicken occasionally with reserved marinade.  Set aside and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan; add pepper and onion, cook 30 sec; drain.  Plunge into ice water; drain well, and set aside.

Add beans and next 5 ingredients to food processor.  Process until smooth.  Pour mixture into saucepan; cook over medium heat until heated.

Spoon bean sauce evenly onto 4 dinner plates.  Place chicken breast halves on sauce; top evenly with diced pepper mixture, and serve.

Wednesday: Roasted Ratatouille, Whole Wheat French Bread

Roasted Ratatouille

1 1lb eggplant, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
2 t. olive oil, divided
veg. cooking spray
3 med. zucchini, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onions
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 C. seeded tomato, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Cut each eggplant slice into 4 wedges; place in a bowl.  Drizzle with 1 t. olive oil, and toss well.  Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 14 min or until browned.  place eggplant wedges in a large bowl, set aside.

Place zucchini in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 t. remaining oil, and toss well.  Arrange zucchini slices in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 7 minutes or until browned; add to eggplant and set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over med heat until hot.  Add onion and next 3 ingredients.  Saute 10 min or until tender.  Add tomato; saute 5 additional minutes.

Add eggplant mixture, parlsey, and remaining ingredients to skillet; stir well. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer `15 min.

Thursday: Salmon Cakes with creamy dill sauce, Spinach salad

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Amazing French Toast with Maple-Peanut Butter Sauce, Fresh Berry Medley

Amazing French Toast with Maple-Peanut Butter Sauce

What makes this french toast amazing is that it is healthy and tasty at the same time.

8 slices Ezekiel 4:9 bread
1 1/2 cups egg beaters
2 T. pure maple syrup (avoid maple flavored syrups or table syrups)
1/4 C. natural peanut butter
2 T. fat free milk (more or less to taste)

Soak bread slices in egg beaters until most of the eggs are absorbed.  Cook over med heat in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.

Mix syrup and peanut butter until well combined.  Add milk, 1 t. at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Sunday: Onion Smothered Pork Tenderloin, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

90/10 Week 4

I'm trying not to be snobby about food, even though I really have developed quite the attitude --or is it an obsession?-- about food choices, but I'm trying to keep in mind that these are MY food choices, and that each person must make his or her own.  So, when I go to Starbucks and my friend orders a Mocha Chocolate Chip Frappuccino with whole milk and extra whipped cream, and I order a coffee with skim milk and honey, I buy both and bite my tongue and try not to preach calories.  No one wants to hear it.  After all, it's a personal choice.  It's a personal choice based in education, but if you're not ready to be educated, all you hear is lecture.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened a Martha Stewart Magazine, a magazine I've long since abandoned due to its unhealthy and unobtainable ingredients, and found several 90/10 compatible recipes, containing ingredients that are commonly found at my local store.  What a weird, fun, surprise!

I'm quite eager to try them out, as I'm feeling a little stuck and finding it difficult to come up with new stuff every week that I can eat and stay true to my commitment.

Tuesday: Chicken and Pineapple Skewers, Tomato and Parsley Quinoa

Wednesday:  Supreme Nachos

(for 90/10, I will be eating the ground chicken version and omitting the chips and the cheese)

Thursday:  Grilled Portobello Caps with Spaghetti Sauce, Romaine Salad

Friday: Flank Steak Stir Fry, Brown Rice

Saturday:  Black Bean Burgers with Pineapple-Cranberry Relish, Kale Chips, home fries

(90/10 skips the fries)

Black Bean Burgers

1/2 Green Pepper, seeded, roughly chopped
1/4 med. onion, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinse
1 t. italian seasoning
1 t. dried basil
1 1/4 t. salt
2 T. sugar free pizza sauce
1 large egg
1 C. whole wheat breadcrumbs
cooking spray

Puree pepper, onion, garlic and half the beans, ital seasoning, basil, and salt and pizza sauce in blender until the consistency of guacamole.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and add remaining beans, egg, and breadcrumbs.  Divide into 7 balls and flatten into patties.

Heat in pan coated with cooking spray.  3-4 minutes on each side until deep brown.

Serve on whole wheat buns with pineapple cranberry relish, lettuce, red onions, and coarse ground mustard.

Pineapple Cranberry Relish

3 C. fresh pineapple chunks
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 c. honey
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1 T. grated orange rind

Pulse pineapple and cranberries in blender several times until coarsely chopped.  Pour into 2 qt. saucepan and add honey.  Mix well, bring to a boil over med high heat.  Reduce heat to med low and simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in almonds and orange rind.  Place in storage container and bring to room temperature.  Cover and chill until needed.

Sunday: Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze, Brown and Wild Rice Mix, Steamed Green Beans

To alter the recipe to make it 90/10 Compatible, substitute agave nectar for the sugar and reduce to 1 1/2 Tablespoons.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

90/10 Nutrition Challenge, Week 3

Tomorrow marks the start of week 3 of my second 6 week 90/10 nutrition challenge.  Whoa that is a lot of numbers in one sentence.  My Jr. High English teacher is cringing right now.  All that means is that for approximately 9 weeks, I've been following, to the best of my ability, the 90/10 nutrition challenge, eating ninety percent of my total calories from the top two tiers of Michi's Ladder.

It hasn't been that hard.  Some situations are harder than others, of course.  And, I've found that my relationship with food has changed.  I no longer think that everything I eat has to be a treat.  I no longer think everything I eat has to be great, or even good.  I have come to the conclusion that everything I eat has to be first a conscious choice: why am I putting this in my mouth?  What are its calorie sources?  What nutrients or vitamins will this food provide for me?  How much of it should I have?  (Notably, "how could this taste better?" or "is this the best --fill in the blank-- that I've ever had?" are not questions I ask anymore.)  And second, it has to satisfy a need.  (It's important, here to distinguish between NEED and WANT.)  It has to satisfy a NEED.  If it's hunger, it has to make me not hungry anymore.  If it's thirst, it has to make me not thirsty anymore.  And if it's fuel, it has to provide me with enough energy to get me through my workout without me feeling drained.  (Again, taste does not factor into the primary criteria.)

So, it doesn't have to taste good?  Really?


Of course it has to taste good.  But it doesn't have to taste great.  At least, not all the time.  Good is good.  Palatable for sure.  But tastes for foods can change just as tastes for fashion can, and as habits change, so does taste.  In other words, one who prefers unhealthy foods, when substituting health foods consistently, can come to prefer healthy choices.  (Yes, prefer them.  Not tolerate them.  Not get used to them.  PREFER them.)

There are so many healthy choices out there, one can certainly find ones that work in the taste department as well as in the right-choice department.  But sometimes it takes a search.

Welcome to your search engine:

Monday: Buffalo Burgers, raw carrots and celery, steamed corn on the cob

Tuesday: Red Beans and Rice

Wednesday: Pineapple Lime Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pineapple, Citrus Quinoa, Spinach Strawberry Salad
(grill the pineapple in long strips, and place the chicken on top of the pineapple on a plate.)

Thursday: Egg Bake, Fresh Berry Salad

Friday: Salmon Ginger Meatballs over steamed brown rice, steamed edamame

(For 90/10, make meatballs as directed, but place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Omit oil.)

Saturday:  Veggie Fried Rice

Sunday: Pesto Chicken, romaine salad, baked sweet potatoes

Pesto Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless skinless

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • 5 cups arugula
  • cloves garlic, peeled and divided
  • lemon, halved
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Grill the chicken breasts. 

  • Add the arugula and 5 cloves of the garlic to a food processor fitted a blade. Pulse 3 to 4 times, then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lemon and pulse 3 to 4 more times. Add the pistachios, and with the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down sides and pulse a few more times. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Spread pesto onto chicken and serve.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Taking 90/10 On the Road

Good intentions have a way of getting derailed as soon as the slightest change in routine occurs.  This is no more evident than when taking a diet or fitness plan on vacation.  On a long drive, the food choices are abundantly limited, the fitness opportunities are fewer, and the energy and motivation decline faster than the gas gauge.

The attitude changes as well.  "I'm on vacation, I'm going to enjoy myself" or similar mantras are easy to adopt and make one's own.  It's easy to justify a binge eating or drinking fest.  It's easy to justify sleeping in or opting against an exercise session.  In other words, it's easy to become a victim of the circumstances.

It takes hard work to keep the momentum, and a good deal of planning and forethought.  And, if there is a lack of support, it's even more difficult. 

The good news is it can be done.  Road trip food, for me, has become hard boiled eggs, raw almonds, fresh berries, dried apples, and sunflower seeds.  No chips, no drive through, no candy, no Starbucks mocha frappuccinos.  The difference is, I arrive at my destination feeling fresh, not drained, energetic, not lethargic.  And, most notably, encouraged, not discouraged.

I help my host plan the meals, and if I allow that they don't want to eat my way, they are more likely to allow that I don't want to eat their way, and we manage to present a meal that works for both.  If I'm going to a picnic, cookout, or potluck, I bring something I can eat, so I know there will be at least one thing on the table that works toward my ultimate end.

Anyone familiar with weightloss efforts knows that it takes weeks to come off and days to put on.  I'm just not willing to take those steps backwards and start over right now.  I'm too close to my goal!

Sunday: Sliders, Sweet Potato Fries, Corn on the Cob, fresh peaches or pineapple

(If you're a 90/10 participant, make chicken sliders and eat them bunless or make whole wheat buns.  Eat baked un-sweetened sweet potatoes instead of the fries, and eat your corn plain.)

Monday: Spinach and Feta Frittata, fresh fruit, turkey bacon

(90/10 variance: omit bacon)

To make the frittata cook faster, divide it into 4 individual au gratin dishes.

Tuesday: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(90/10: no change)

Wednesday:  Grilled Chicken Breasts, Simple Green Bean Salad, Baked Sweet Potatoes

(90/10: no change)

Hint: make extra chicken to speed up tomorrow night's meal

Thursday: Chicken Fried Rice

(90/10: use olive oil instead of vegetable oil)

Friday: Zen Salmon, Steamed Brown Rice, roasted asparagus

Saturday: Pizza

(90/10: make this pizza, without the mozzarella cheese blend, and use a whole wheat bagel instead of the storebought pizza crust)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back on the Wagon

Ladder, wagon....whatever.  I've had my break, and the scale has shown me just what happens when I do.  So, it's back on the wagon.  Back up the ladder.   Here we go!

Monday: Zen Salmon, Steamed Edamame, Steamed Brown Rice

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Applesauce, Steamed Green Beans

Roasted Applesauce

4 Honey Crisp or Fuji Apples
4 Granny Smith Apples
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. orange zest
1/4 t. cloves

Oven to 400.  Peel, core and dice apples into large chunks.  Toss apple chunks with remaining ingredients until well-coated.  Spray jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Spread apples evenly into one layer on jelly roll pan.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until apples are soft.  Using large fork or potato masher, mash apples until desired consistency is reached.  I prefer large chunks in mine.  Serve warm.

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, Strawberry Salad, Baked Potatoes

Strawberry Salad

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
3 T. fat free raspberry vinaigrette
1-2 T. raw walnuts

Combine lettuce and strawberries in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing and toss well.  Sprinkle with nuts.

Thursday: Lemon Pepper Tilapia, Citrus Quinoa, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Sprouts

1-2 lbs brussels sprouts
1-2 T. olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Stem and halve sprouts.  Toss with remaining ingredients, to taste.  Roast at 450 10-12 minutes or until beginning to brown and tender-crisp.  Serve warm.

Friday: Chicken Salad Pita Pocket, Kale Chips  (If you're doing 90/10, skip the pitas)

Saturday: Pizza (for the fam), Mock-Pizza (for me)

Mock Pizza:

1/4 lb ground buffalo or venison
a few mushrooms, sliced
1-2 T. red onion, finely chopped
a few black and green olives, chopped or sliced
1 c. spinach, wilted
1/4 C. sugar free or reduced sugar pasta sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bell pepper, halved lengthwise, stems, seeds, and membranes removed
 1-2 T. parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler or grill.

Brown meat, drain and set aside.  Wipe pan with paper towel.  Add mushrooms and onions to pan, saute just until mushrooms are starting to soften.  Add meat, olives, pasta sauce, and spinach.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir well.  Heat until contents are hot.  Divide meat mixture between the two pepper halves; sprinkle with cheese.  Broil or grill until peppers start to brown and cheese melts.

Sunday: Honey Jalepeno Chicken Wraps (eat it "naked" for 90/10)

Honey Jalepeno Chicken Wraps
4, 4oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 t. coconut oil
1 t. garlic powder
4 T. honey
4 T. dijon mustard
4 T. finely minced fresh jalepeno
2 t. garlic powder
8 5-6" whole wheat tortillas
8 tsp. grated low fat cheese

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into strips.

Place coconut oil in skillet over med. heat; add chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Thoroughly cook chicken, remove from skillet, and set aside.

Combine honey, mustard, and jalepeno in a small bowl.

Heat fresh skillet over med. heat and place tortilla in pan.  Heat tortilla 30 sec, flip, and add 1/8 of chicken and 1/8 of cheese.

When cheese is melted, remove from pan, roll up, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Repeat for remaining tortillas.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taking a Break

After 6 weeks on the 90/10 Challenge, I've memorized Michi's Ladder.  I don't know who Michi is, but at times I've wished she would fall off that damn ladder and have a horrible concussion.  Denying myself food has never been my favorite thing, and I've never been all that good at it.

Committing, though, is something I'm good at.  If I say I'll do it, I do it.  And this resolve has been my saving grace the last month and a half.  I think I had one cheat day.  One thing in 42 days that I knew wasn't anywhere on the allowed tiers.  It was a bag of Snyder's 100 Calorie pretzels, and I regretted every bite.

And here's what my results are: In 42 days, I've lost 6 pounds and over 5 percent of my total body weight.  I've dropped a clothing size.  My wedding ring falls off and my shoes are too big.  My attitude about myself has changed, in a positive way.  People are noticing these differences, especially my husband who claims I am "getting more and more beautiful every day."

In summary: it was worth it.  6 weeks is a blink.  Day to day it was tough to continue not just making good choices, but making EXTREMELY good choices, but after awhile it got easier, and looking back it went by so fast.

And now it's time for a break.  It's time to re-introduce myself to what junk food feels like.  I expect I will regret it, and re-learn the difference in how I feel after a binge versus how I feel after a responsible day.  And, come Monday next, I will embark once again on Michi's Ladder.

So, here it is: Dinner Diva's Down and Dirty Doggone Damn Good Dinners (that will make you feel ill the next day)

Monday: Grilled New York Strip Steaks, Steamed Green Beans, Home Fries

Tuesday: Perfect Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Roasted Applesauce

Wednesday: Flank Steak Stir Fry, Rice, Egg Rolls

Thursday: Raspberry-Balsamic Glazed Chicken, Steamed Pea Pods, Rice Medley

Friday: OUT TO EAT

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Graduation Day

My niece is graduating from High School next week.  In her honor, I will be visiting her in Florida.  It is, truly, a time to celebrate.  She has worked hard for this achievement, and it is one of life's big milestones.  It also gives me a chance to reflect on my own high school graduation (a mere 21 years ago) and where, exactly, I've come from there.

In some ways, I've stagnated.  I haven't achieved many of the goals I had back then.  I'm not a pilot, like my dad.  I haven't become a published author.  I only completed one year of college sports.

In other ways, I've come far.  I've been married for 15 years, I have 2 lovely children.  I've run two marathons and many half marathons and triathlons.  I've trained 4 service dogs.   And I have a life of which I am proud and in which I am happy.

Life takes you where it takes you, there isn't always a plan, and the path seldom follows the plan that is set as of completion of 12th grade.  I've learned to cook.  I've learned to snowboard.  I've become a women's breastfeeding consultant, and a doula.  I've learned some life lessons.  I've learned to live in the now, and not wish the time away.  I've learned to live a healthy lifestyle.

I'm fitter now than I was then, even as a varsity athlete.  I'm thinner now than I was then, and I make much healthier choices.  And I still have room for improvement, as we all do.

This menu will only go to Wednesday.  Then Dinner Diva Menus is taking a vacation until June.  Cook well, my friends.

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Sweet Orange Salmon, Steamed Broccoli, Steamed Brown Rice

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Red Bell Peppers

Wednesday: Stir Fry Asian Veggies, Steamed Quinoa

Stir Fry Asian Veggies (adapted from P90X2 Nutrition Guide)

1 T. sesame oil
3 t. bottled minced garlic
1 T. bottled minced ginger
8 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 med. red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 C. shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
1 C. shelled edamame (I've learned this is called Makimame)
2 T. lime juice
2 T. soy sauce
3 T. orange juice
1 T. sesame oil
2 t. pure maple syrup
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 C. cooked quinoa
sea salt, to taste

Heat sesame oil in large skillet or wok over med heat.  Saute garlic and ginger about 1 minute.

Add mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes.

Add bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, and edamame.  Cover, turn heat down to low, and steam veggies for 3-4 min.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine lime juice, soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, maple syrup, and cornstarch and whisk together.

Pour lime juice mixture over veggies in skillete and let cook 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Sauce will begin to bubble and thicken.  Don't over cook veggies; they should be crisp and brightly colored.

Season with sea salt and serve over quinoa.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What is Clean Eating?

Clean eating: what does it mean?  Seriously, I wash my grapes, everything I buy is tightly sealed in plastic wrap, and even though my floors aren't so clean one could eat off of them, we don't actually eat off the floor (that's why we have dogs).  Even raccoons wash their food before they eat it out of garbage cans, so, really, doesn't everyone eat clean?

Depends what you define as clean, I suppose.  If clean, for you, is a score of 97% on a surprise inspection by the health department, displayed so proudly right by the menu of your favorite fast food joint, read no further.  This menu is not for you.

For some, clean eating is toxin-free.  It is becoming more and more difficult to admit that our bodies are full of toxins, from what we eat to what we breathe, even what we wear.  You are no longer seen as crazy-granola-tree hugger if you start talking about toxins in your body.  (Just don't tell anyone they came from the alien abduction.)

For others, clean eating is eating as close to non-processed as you can.  Whole foods, unprocessed.  Foods that came from farms not factories.  These are the foods that are brightly colored themselves, not their packaging. 

For me, it's pretty much chucking the junk.  My aim is to eat next to nothing processed, nothing refined, just actual, tasty food.  You know, the way it was before food became an industry.  Basically, I'll eat any food that doesn't have its own lobbyist.

Sunday: Pear Pork Medallions, Goddess Green Beans, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Pear Pork Medallions
16 oz pork tenderloin, sliced thin into medallions
salt to taste
pepper to taste
garlic powder, to taste
8 pear halves, canned in juice (reserve juice)

Preheat oven to 350.  Place pork medallions in a rimmed baking dish.  Lightly sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper and garlic.  Drizzle 1 t. pear juice over each medallion.  Thinly slice each pear slice and fan slices over each medallion.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 min, or until pork is cooked all the way through. 4 servings

Goddess Green Beans
for each serving, you'll need:

1 c. fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 T. butter
1 shallot, chopped
slivered raw almonds, for garnish
pinch sea salt
pinch white pepper

Saute butter in saucepan with the shallot.  Stir until the shallots look translucent.  Turn off heat.

In a separate saucepan, boil enough water to cover the green beans.  Once water boils, add the beans and let them parboil for 2 min or until they turn bright green. Remove beans from heat and rinse with cold water until they become lukewarm.

Add the green beans to the sauteed shallots along with the slivered almonds.  Turn heat to high, mixing the buttered shallots with the almonds for two minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(4 Servings)
1 cup Traditional Quinoa
2 cups Water
4 large or 6 medium  Green Peppers
1 medium Onion, diced
1/2 lb. fresh Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 - 28 oz can Tomatoes, coarsely diced (reserve juice)
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 - 12 oz jar Mexican Salsa
2 Tbs. Dry Sherry
5 oz  reduced fat Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 325° F. Cook traditional quinoa following basic directions (add 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups boiling water, return to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes). Steam 4 large or 6 medium green peppers until soft but not limp. In a large skillet, saute the onion and mushrooms in butter. Add the diced tomatoes (reserve the juice). Add the crushed garlic and Mexican salsa. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the sherry and simmer 10 more minutes. Fold in quinoa. Place peppers in baking dish and fill with quinoa mixture. This will take about half the mixture. Thin remainder with reserved juice and pour around peppers.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over peppers and bake in 325° F. oven for 30-35 minutes.

Tuesday: Teriyaki Halibut, steamed brown rice, steamed edamame

Teriyaki Halibut

4 Fresh or Frozen Halibut Steaks, 6-8 oz each
1/2 cup low sodium  soy sauce
2 t. chopped fresh ginger
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/4 c. dry sherry
1 t. worcestershire
2 T. chopped green onion
2 cloves minced garlic
cooking spray

Rinse fish and pat dry.  Combine low sodium soy sauce, worcestershire, ginger, sesame oil, sherry, onions, and garlic in saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer slowly 5 minutes.  Strain liquid and chill.

Place the halibut steaks in a shallow non-aluminum pan and cover with marinade.  Refrigerate 15 minutes.  Remove fish from marinade and drain.

spray broiling pan with nonstick cooking spray.  place under broiler 4-5 inches from heat and cook 8-10 min per each inch of thickness.  Turn over halfway through cooking time.  Garnish with additional green onions.

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken with Roasted Kale

 Thursday: Naked Chicken-Pico Tacos

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and cayenne
homemade pico or storebought fresh pico
8 large boston or iceberg lettuce leaves

Grill the chicken until done, and dice.   divide chicken and pico evenly among lettuce leaves; wrap up and serve

homemade pico
two tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 T. lime juice
1 T. minced jalepeno

Combine all ingredients.

Friday: Very Veggie Egg Bake, fresh fruit

Very Veggie Egg Bake

4 eggs
1 cup egg beaters

1/2 cup broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup red bell peppers
1/2 c. mushrooms, quartered
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped green onions (optional)

Oven to 350.

Saute the vegetables in a nonstick pan with cooking spray until tender crisp.

Beat eggs and egg beaters together in a bowl. 

Spray 4 individual au gratin dishes with cooking spray.  Evenly distribute the cooked vegetables in each dish.  Pour eggs on top, evenly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with green onions, if desired.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.

Saturday:  Leftovers

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

90/10 Challenge, Week 1

In the 90/10 Challenge, I and several other participants are committing to eating 90 percent of our total calories from tiers 1 and 2 of Michi's Ladder, with up to 10% from tiers 3 and 4.  To help myself achieve this, and to support my group, I'm going to publish my weekly menu to meet this standard.  If you're interested, here's the ladder:

Sunday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin smothered with Grilled Onions, Grilled Asparagus, Citrus Quinoa

For the pork:

Trim fat from pork; preheat grill to med-high heat.  spray grill rack with cooking spray

Reduce heat to med or med-low.  Cook pork directly on grill rack 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, turning occasionally for those pretty grill marks.

let rest 5 minutes.

Slice into medallions, fan the medallions onto a platter, and top with grilled onions, and serve.

To grill onions:

Vertically slice two large yellow onions, and toss with 1/2 t. dried thyme, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper.  Spray grill basket with cooking spray.  Dump onion mixture into grill basket and grill 10 minutes or so or until onions are tender and translucent, stirring often.

To grill asparagus:
Wash and trim asparagus (1 lb).  Cut into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal.  Toss asparagus with 1 t. kosher salt and 1/2 t. pepper.  Coat with cooking spray, and grill in a grill basket coated with cooking spray for 10-15 minutes or until tender-crisp.  You have not had asparagus until you have had grilled asparagus!

Monday:  Bruschetta Chicken, steamed green beans, toasted garlic bagels

Bruschetta Chicken

6 med. roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup finely chipped fresh basil leaves
1/2 t. sea salt
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. olive oil

1 T. chopped fresh oregeno
1 T. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 t. chopped fresh italian parsley
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. sea salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1. For topping, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

2. For chicken, combine all ingredients in a large zip top plastic bag.  Shake to distribute well, seal, and marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade

5. Place chicken in glass baking dish.  Cover with foil and place in oven for 30-40 min, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

6. Serve with salsa on top; garnish with fresh basil leaves. 

Toasted Garlic Bagels:
1 whole grain bagel, sliced
2 T. plain, nonfat yogurt
2 t. minced fresh garlic

Spread yogurt evenly onto the cut sides of each bagel half.  Top evenly with garlic.  Broil 2-3 inches from heat for 2-3 minutes or until toasted.  Cut each half in half.  Serves 4.

Tuesday:   Zen Salmon, steamed broccoli,  steamed brown rice

Wednesday: Chicken Kabobs with Greek Barley Salad (reduce olive oil to 2 T.)

Thursday: Awesome Omelette, Fresh Kiwi and Red Grapes

Awesome Omelette:

1/4 c. sliced mushrooms
1/4 c diced bell pepper (any color)
1 c fresh spinach
1/4 c. diced tomatoes

1 c. egg beaters or 4 egg whites, beaten
2 T. reduced fat feta cheese
2 T. chopped green onions

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat nonstick pan over med heat.  Add mushrooms and peppers and saute 4-5 minutes.  Add spinach and tomatoes and saute until spinach wilts and tomatoes are warm.   Put veggies in a bowl and set aside.  Wipe pan with paper towel, and coat with cooking spray.  Add eggs and swirl the pan until they are pretty thin.  Cook 3-4 minutes or until top is barely wet.  Add reserved toppings to one half of your eggs.  Sprinkle feta over veggies.  Fold the half of the eggs without the toppings over the toppings and cook until eggs are done, about a minute.

Slide omelette onto a plate, and sprinkle with green onions.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Friday: Naked Buffalo Burger, Colsen Slaw, baked sweet potatoes (no toppings)

Naked Buffalo Burger (adapted from Eating For Life's Colorado Buffalo Burger)

1 lb ground buffalo, divided into fourths and formed into patties

Grill patties on med 5 min on each side or until desired doneness.  Serve bunless with homemade or commercial sugar free ketchup and mustard.

Colsen-Slaw (named for my son, who LOVES it!)
  • 4 cups packaged cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw mix
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and diced
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine coleslaw mix and apple and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients. Add dressing to veggies and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.
Saturday: Orange Roughy, Grilled Zucchini, Steamed Brown Rice

Orange Roughy (this is technically a breaded food, which is on tier 5, but since you're making your own breading out of 90/10 compliant foods, I consider it to be compliant.  If it's too iffy for you, skip the breading.)

1.5 lbs orange roughy (4 fillets)
1/4 C. bread crumbs (make your own by putting one whole grain bagel into the blender or food processor and pulse until crumbly, then measure out 1/4 cup.)
1 t. italian seasoning
1/4 C. reduced fat parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg white, or 1/4 c. egg beaters
3 T. fresh parsley, chopped

In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, and parmesan.  In small bowl, mix egg white until slightly frothy.

Lightly brush both sides of the fish with egg white, and then coat with breadcrumb mixture.  Arrange fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with parsley.   Bake at 400 or until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Grilled Zucchini
Mix 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 t. olive oil, 1 t. agave nectar or honey, 1 t. minced fresh garlic, 1/4 t. salt, and 1/2 t. coarse ground pepper in a shaker cup or small bowl.  Shake or whisk until well combined.  Add marinade and 3-4 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal, to a zip top bag.  Marinade at least 30 minutes.

Grill over med. heat in a grill basket coated with cooking spray, 10-15 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Kitchen Innovation

I often "invent" things in my head, or out loud to my husband, and that's as far as my idea goes until someone else, equally brilliant, has the same idea and takes it all the way to market, at which time I slap my forehead and say with a smirk of satisfaction, "I knew that was a good idea." 

Well, one idea that I've had for quite awhile and have yet to see it on the market, is an interactive, wi-fi compatible, cabinet-mounted touch screen.  I have about a hundred cookbooks, but most of my menu planning is done online.  (I confess, a big reason for this is that I'm too lazy to transcribe each recipe into my blog each week, when posting the link is so much easier.)  And, although I have a laptop or four, I lack sufficient counter space to place a laptop on the counter while I'm cooking, and it makes me nervous to have liquids near my keyboard.  So I usually print the recipe so that I can have it in my kitchen while I cook.  This is a waste of ink and paper and natural resources.

I also have a counter mounted DVD player, and when I have a big project to do in the kitchen, I'll put on a movie to keep me company.  I would love it if my drop down screen would also display my recipes and play Netflix movies!  Killing two birds, or seven, with one stone.

So I need a screen that goes online, with no keyboard (hence the touch screen), plays movies, and maybe even has an option for tracking my grocery list and the ability to send that list to my phone.  Okay, so there is the ipad option, and they do make ipad holders that are cabinet mounted and drop screen.  But they are quite pricey.  My invention would cost a third of the ipad!

Someone smarter than I will take this one to Shark Tank, I just know it, and I'll buy it once it hits the scene.

Sunday: Zen Salmon, steamed green beans, steamed brown rice

Monday:  Stuffed Potato Skins, Steamed Artichokes

Stuffed Potato Skins

4 large baked Idaho potatoes, with half the flesh scooped out
4 cups chopped steamed broccoli
1 cup shredded low-fat, low-sodium cheddar cheese
8 pieces well-done turkey bacon
8 T. chopped scallions or fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325.  Stuff each potato half  with 1 C. broccoli.  Top each half with 1/4 c. cheese.  Crumble 1 slice bacon over each half.  Place on a baking sheet and bake 15-20 min or until cheese is melted and each half is warm throughout.  Garnish with scallions or parsley.

Tuesday:  Seafood Gazpacho, Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Bread

Seafood Gazpacho

1 C. chopped cucumber, skin on, seeds removed
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 orange bell pepper, cleaned and roughly chopped
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups low-sodium tomato juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1 pinch salt
1 T. ground black pepper
1 lb large shrimp, cleaned, shelled, and boiled
cilantro, chopped, to taste

Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until all vegetables are uniform size.  Add tomato juice, oil, and vinegar and pulse until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer soup to a soup bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.  While soup is chilling, chill shrimp.  When ready to serve, slice shrimp lengthwise.  Portion soup into soup bowls and lay one fourth of shrimp on each portion.  Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Fresh Bread (as copied from

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4-4 1/2 freshly milled hard spring wheat flour (sifted)
  • 1 Tbs yeast
I make this recipe in my bread machine by adding all the wet ingredients and then all the dry ingredients. Add the yeast last. I use the dough setting, but if your machine has a whole wheat setting you can use that too and bake it right in your machine.
If you are making this recipe by hand combine all the wet ingredients. Then add yeast, salt, and half the flour. Mix until the dough is smooth. Then add the rest of the flour. Add the flour slowly so you don’t use too much. Knead for about 10 minutes. Let rise until doubled. Shape into desired pan and then rise again until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. This will make 2 loaves of bread or two large pizzas.

Wednesday: Shaun T's Easy Sirloin Tip Roast, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Shaun T's Easy Sirloin Tip Roast
3 lbs beef sirloin tip roast, trimmed of all visible fat
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 t. coarse ground black pepper
cooking spray

preheat oven to 400.  secure roast with cooking twine.

make 8 1/2 inch slits around the perimeter of the roast and insert 1/2 garlic clove in each slit.  Sprinkle entire roast with pepper. Spray roasting rack with nonstick spray.  Place roast on rack in roasting pan.

roast in preheated ofen 20 minutes.  reduce temp to 325.  Continue cooking about one hour, or until meat thermometer reaches desired level of doneness. Loosely cover with foil, and let rest 15 minutes.  To serve, slice as thinly as possible against the grain.  10 servings

Thursday: Power Corn Pancakes, fresh berries

Friday: Sweet and Spicy Citrus Tilapia, Citrus Quinoa, Steamed Edamame

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Training Food

It's happened, finally.  I've accepted the fact that I'm in training.  I was resisting for a long time, telling myself that I was just exercising.  And though I have not yet chosen a race, I have resigned to train for it.  With that comes early, really freakin' early, mornings, TONS of laundry, lots of planning ahead, texting of training buddies, and with it also has to come my food choices.  So here they are: just one week's worth of protein packed, smart carb-full, very veggie meals.  By the way, they're also very tasty.  Try 'em.  Even if you're not in training.

Sunday:  Bruschetta Chicken, Steamed Brown Rice, Roasted Cauliflower

Bruschetta Chicken

6 med. roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup finely chipped fresh basil leaves
1/2 t. sea salt
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. olive oil

1 T. chopped fresh oregeno
1 T. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 t. chopped fresh italian parsley
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. sea salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1. For topping, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

2. For chicken, combine all ingredients in a large zip top plastic bag.  Shake to distribute well, seal, and marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. Remove chciken from bag; discard marinade

5. Place chicken in glass baking dish.  Cover with foil and place in oven for 30-40 min, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

6. Serve with salsa on top; garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Monday:  Kathy Smith's Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken, steamed pea pods, Herbed Quinoa

Tuesday: Healthy Pancakes, fresh berries, turkey bacon

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 canola oil
2 cups low fat milk
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup wheat germ

In med. bowl, mix eggs with oil and milk.

Stir in baking soda, wheat germ, and flour; mix until blended.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over med. high heat.  Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle.  Brown on both sides, turning once.

Use fresh fruit or a small amount of pure maple syrup, honey, or molasses as a topping.  Opt not for pancake syrup.  

Wednesday: Grilled Salmon, Spicy Green Beans and Kale, roasted beets

Thursday: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

2 large red bell peppers
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 t. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
8 oz organic tempeh, crumbled
1/2 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 T. raw pine nuts
1 C. cooked brown rice
1 T. freshly chopped parsley
1 T. freshly chopped basil
1 T. raisins

Preheat oven to 375.

Halve peppers lengthwise, leaving stems intact.  Scoop out seeds and place cut side up in a shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they're soft but retain their shape.

Put 1 cup of water on to boil in a small pan.

While peppers are baking and water is boiling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until soft.

Add tempeh, tomatoes, and pine nuts to skillet and saute about 5-7 minutes.

Stir in Rice, parsley, basil, and raisins.  Remove from heat and season with bit more salt and pepper

Spoon mixture into peppers in the baking pan.  Pour just enough boiling water around pepper to touch the base of each so they won't burn in the oven.

Bake 15 minutes.

Friday: Peppered Flank Steak with Salsa, Asparagus Blue Cheese Salad, Roasted Klondike Potatoes

Asparagus Blue Cheese Salad
1 lb fresh asparagus
8 red leaf lettuce leaves
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 T. fat free raspberry vinaigrette
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Cut off fibrous ends of asparagus spears.  Lightly steam spears and cut into one inch pieces.

Chop or shred lettuce leaves.

Combine asparagus, lettuce, lemon juice, and raspberry vinaigrette in large salad bowl.

Top with crumbled blue cheese and serve.

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Appliance Celebration Week

What? What do you mean you've never heard of "New Appliance Celebration Week"? Well, maybe it's one of those "inside" holidays, you know, like an "inside joke" only for holidays. I guess you'd have to be here to appreciate just how celebratory having a new double oven and new QUIET dishwasher is. Let's put them to good use, shall we?

Sunday: Taco Soup, Quinoa chips and salsa

Monday: Bacon and Apple Stuffed Pork Chops, Steamed Green and Yellow Beans, Wild Rice

Tuesday: Leftover Taco Soup served over brown rice or baked potatoes

Wednesday: Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Onions, and Celery

Thursday: Mom's Chicken Enchiladas (use the leftover chicken from the roast)

Friday: Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree, Buttermilk Biscuits, Steamed Peapod and Carrot Medley

Saturday: Pizza Night

(There's a lot of chicken this week. Feel free to substitute ground beef for the shredded chicken in the taco soup!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The P90X way.

Being that I'm starting week 6 of a modified P90X2 as I train for a half iron man, I thought it was high time I followed the meals as they are suggested. And, since I share my real menu each week, I also thought it was high time to share. Don't be afraid of the source. This is good, healthy food. Even if you don't want to take on the workouts (which, by the way, are SO good and SO worth it), the food isn't anything to be intimidated by. It's just food, but it's food whose recipes are ones that someone else researched, tested, and published. I can speak from experience: these taste good.

Sunday: Black and White Bean Chili

Monday: Fish Tacos, black bean and corn salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 1 can, 14 ounces, black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, half a palm full
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, just eyeball the amount (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut into thin ribbons
Combine first 8 ingredients and serve over nests of romaine ribbons.

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Breasts, Corn Muffins, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday: Southwest Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries (commercial), raw carrots and celery

Thursday: Island Pork Tenderloin, steamed green beans, roasted red potatoes

Friday: Shrimp Pasta Pomodoro, romaine salad, whole wheat french bread

Saturday: Xed Pizzas, raw peapods

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Food For Thought

The way we think about our food plays an enormous role in how we choose our food. As a culture, we have become more accustomed to food being good, and less accustomed to food being good for us. Flavor outweighs nutrition in most of our choices, with few exceptions.

Flavor enhancers are so overused that foods in their natural forms seem tasteless and bland. Sugar, in its many forms, has found its way into almost everything, from the places we expect to see it (cookies, ice cream, and other sweets) to places a lot of us would be shocked to see it ("health" foods such as yogurt and bread). High fructose corn syrup is only the most common culprit. (And, while I've mentioned that, and since it's become a source of debate at least on TV commercials, I'd like to point out that the corn coalition goes on TV to try to make us think that HFCS is just like sugar, and is safe in moderation. While it is not just like sugar, and it does process in your body differently than sugar, it probably is safe in moderation. But how can one possibly moderate its consumption when it is in almost EVERYTHING we eat???? Ponder that with me, please.)

Salt is another flavor enhancer that is difficult to steer clear from, both because it's in almost everything and also because we are so used to it being in everything that foods without it lack flavor. And, like sugar, it is safe in moderation but isn't healthy in overdoses, but is extremely difficult to moderate because it is found in most store-bought and especially processed foods.

And yet another flavor enhancer is artificial sweetener. This one is probably the worst, since it actually slows your metabolism and makes you crave more food (making you burn fewer and consume more calories throughout the day and therefore making you gain weight over time), and in its many forms, has been proven again and again to cause illnesses such as cancer.,8599,1711763,00.html

And, lastly there is fat. Enough said.

So here is my challenge: Take this week to study labels. Look for added sugar in any form, and avoid it when you can. Look for added sodium and avoid it when you can. Make one meal this week that is made without anything processed. The ingredients can only come from the produce aisle or the meat counter (and not the deli meat counter!). Feel free to add your own flavor enhancers (read the labels). If you add them yourself, you can control them. And, if you can control them, you tend to use less. Less is more, and not just proverbially. Kosher salt, sea salt, black pepper are my most used flavor enhancers. A little goes a long way with these, and black pepper offers nothing bad--no calories, no harmful effects on your body, just flavor. Olive oil is the wisest fat additive. Again, a little goes a long way. And finally, if you must add a sweetener, try something natural, like honey, sugar in the raw, agave nectar, as these have a lower glycemic response (your blood sugar won't spike nor plummet as quickly, leaving you with fewer cravings and therefore more control).

Then, leave a comment for me as to how you felt about your challenge meal (be sure to tell me what you made!). Did you like it better or not as well as something processed? Did it take more time or less time or the same to prepare? How did your family respond? Are you more likely or less likely to cook like this in the future?

Good luck and have fun with it!


Monday: Onion-Smothered Pork Tenderloin, commercial bagged salad with homemade dressing, roasted potatoes

To roast the potatoes, heat oven to 450. Take a pound to a pound and a half of small red potatoes and quarter them. Put them in a medium bowl and drizzle with 1 1/2 T. olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 t. kosher salt and 3/4 t. black pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Place potatoes on a cookie sheet (line it with foil first to make clean up easier, if you wish). Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until beginning to brown (watch them closely at this stage). Be careful: these are better than french fries!

Tuesday: Garlic-Ginger Shrimp

Wednesday: Garlic Flank Steak, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Sugar Snap Peapods (make two pounds steak, and reserve half for tomorrow's wraps)

Thursday: Flank Steak Wraps, Apple Wedges

Flank Steak Wraps
Mix 2 T. tomato paste, 2 t. chili powder, a pinch of salt and a cup of salsa until well blended. Heat reserved steak (from last night) in a med pan over med heat until hot. While steak is reheating, warm up 4 tortillas in the microwave, sandwiched between paper towels, for 1 minute. Spread tomato mixture onto the tortillas, top with warm steak, shredded cheddar cheese, and shredded iceberg lettuce. Roll up, cut in half, and secure with tooth picks.

Friday and Saturday we will be eating out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reality Bites

A word about food: reality. I plan, I prepare, I pack. I plan healthy meals, I prepare healthy meals, and I pack nutrients onto my family's plates with pride, at least most of the time. Some of the time, reality gets in the way. I didn't get to the store. I forgot an ingredient. I forgot to thaw. I ran out of time in the day. So we get stuck with what I like to call Reality Bites. Whatever I can find to make a meal out of something. A lot of the time it's frittata or pancakes. Sometimes it's grilled cheese or even cereal. The point is, it's not perfect, it's not even pretty. And that's pretty ok.

Sunday: Healthy Blueberry Pancakes, Turkey Bacon, Cinnamon Raisin Toast


1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. canola oil
2 cups low fat milk
2 t. baking soda
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In med. bowl, mix eggs with oil and milk.

Stir in baking soda, wheat germ, and flour; mix until blended.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.

Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle. Sprinkle immediately with blueberries. When bottom is browned, flip and heat until cooked through. Serve with pure syrup, honey, yogurt, or my kids' favorite: unsweetened applesauce.

Tuesday: Meal Swap Meal (Jill's turn to cook)

Wednesday: Roasted Vegetable Pasta with chicken, breadsticks

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

1 orange bell pepper, julienned
2 zucchini, cut into half inch pieces
20 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 red onion, cut into half inch pieces
16 mushrooms, stems removed
2 T. olive oil
4 t. oregano
sea salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz whole wheat fusilli pasta
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
8 oz chicken, cooked and diced
4 T. freshly chopped basil

Preheat oven to 450.
Place first 5 ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add sea salt and oregano and toss to coat evenly.
Place vegetables on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until browned.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and return to pot.
Add broth and chicken to pasta and place over low heat. Heat through.
Add vegetables and toss to coat.
Add basil and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve immediately.

Thursday: Broiled Lemon-Basil Salmon, Romaine Salad, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Broiled Lemon-Basil Salmon

1 T. olive oil
4 4 oz salmon fillets
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
4 t.bottled minced garlic
2 T. dried parsley
1/2 C. finely chopped fresh basil
1 whole lemon (half for juice, half for slices)

Line a baking pan with foil and coat foil with olive oil.

place salmon fillets skin side down on foil and brush with olive oil.

sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and half of basil.

Squeeze juice of half of the lemon over fillets.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat broiler. Broil salmon 6-8 minutes or until opaque in center and flakes easily.

Transfer to serving plate. Garnish with lemon slices and the rest of the basil.

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Whole Wheat Pizza with roasted bell peppers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love. It is not in the air.

Love: it is not in the air. The air is frigid and threatening snow, and that is not conducive to any kind of love that I know. Except maybe the love of snow, which does indeed have its place. It is edging close to Valentine's Day, and pink hearts and sweet chocolates dance before our eyes everywhere from grocery store shelves to TV commercials. But that is not love.

Love is the every day. It's the hard. It's the I don't want to do this right now but I'm going to because I love you. For me, it's the food. It's the meals I plan and execute. It's the bodies I nourish. I guess food is my love language, or at least one of them. Love is that the boxed or take-out meals would be so much easier and in some cases cheaper, but I'll make you something from scratch because it's healthier, and your health matters to me, because I love you.

So I guess one could say that my time in the kitchen is a labor of love. I do love food, too, though, so I guess it's love in more ways than one.

At any rate, Happy Valentine's Day. Let it bring you the ones you love the most.

Monday: This is the day we will celebrate, since Tuesday is a sports night. My love of 14.5 years loves tacos, so that's what I will make. I will follow it with a chocolate cake because my husband loves chocolate. More than most. More than even the hardest core chocolate lover. Every year I try to out-chocolate him. Every year I fail.

Tuesday: Sports night. This requires something easy, or a crockpot, or a time bake. Or two of the above. Since the air is cold, I think Chili would work.

Chili Grande

1 lb ground beef (lean), or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cans chili beans (such as bush's, mild or hot depending on preference)
1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 packet or 1/4 cup taco seasoning

Combine all ingredients in the pot of a crockpot. Cook on low 8 hours, on high 4 hours, or on low 4 hours followed by high 2 hours. I love this recipe because there's no need to brown the meat first.

Serve it with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced green onions. Or, serve it over freshly made cornbread. My favorite is the one right off the Quaker White Cornmeal container. It's easy and tasty!

Wednesday: If my husband can have his favorite, then I can have mine: grilled steak, baked sweet potatoes, steamed edamame (and, since I'm training for a half iron man, nothing for dessert) ... I have to say, these colors look so good on the plate. You should try it. Do it. Then comment on how impressed you are with yourself, and how impressed your family is with you.

Thursday: Another sports night. Easy peasy, nothing greasy. Croque Monsieur, salad, sweet potato fries

Friday: Shrimp Avocado Tacos (yeah, yeah, I know this is the second taco listing for the week, but I have some avocados that need to be used and shrimp sounds really good. Deal with it, or make your own dang menu! JK)

Saturday: Pizza night

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Alive: it's a great word, isn't it? I mean, firstly, if you're alive, you're not dead, and that's always a good thing. My son, who just turned 8, frequently likes to point out how near death I am, at my age (which is, I guess, old in his eyes even though I still feel twenty something). Still, it's a little disturbing to have a miniature person taunting you with the O-L-D word. But, I AM still alive, at least for now, and I plan to live like it.

Secondly, my cousin just celebrated her 5 year "alive" anniversary, because 5 years ago this week she survived an enemy attack while serving with the armed services in Iraq. I am grateful for both her survival and her service. What a great reason to celebrate: just being alive. We are all so lucky!

So, while we're alive, let's enjoy it. Let's eat good food that also makes us feel good. Let's eat like we want to still be alive in 5 years, or longer. Let's eat food that makes us LIKE being alive, and makes it continue for a long, long time.

So, jump for joy. Go do it. For real. No matter who sees. Because you're ALIVE, and that is totally awesome.

Sunday: Grilled Cheese and leftover soup

Monday: Hamburger Stroganoff, steamed peas, dinner rolls

Tuesday: Spicy Sausage and Black Bean Soup, Speedy Quesadillas

Speedy Quesadillas (these are from the Cooking Light 5 Ingredient, 15 Minutes or Less cookbook)

Cooking Spray
6 Oz Turkey Kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 c. diced green, sweet red, or yellow pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup salsa

Coat med. saucepan with cooking spray, place over med heat until hot. Add sausage, and saute 1 min or until sausage begins to brown. Add pepper, saute 1 min.

add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add beans and salsa. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Top with cilantro if desired.

4 servings

Wednesday: Grilled Sirloin Steak, Roasted Butternut Squash, Steamed Green Beans

(grill enough steaks for tomorrow night's sandwiches)

Thursday: Steak Paninis, Broccoli Slaw, baked potato chips (commercial)

Friday: Meal Swap

Saturday: Pizza

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Sometimes in life we are faced with difficult decisions. "Should we buy a new car or keep spending money fixing the old one?" or, "Is this a battle I will choose with my kids?" or even, "Should I sell my house now at the bottom of the market, or try to wait out this slump?" "Should we have another baby?" The list goes on and on eternally.

For me, each week, I face difficult decisions. Okay, truthfully? Deciding what to make for dinner on a difficulty scale from 1-10 is pretty much a 2, especially when compared to the above dilemmas. Still, it FEELS difficult each time I sit down to write this blog. "Oh I really like that one, " says my left brain. "But you made something similar to that last month," says my right. "Oh my gosh all 216 recipes from this month's Cooking Light look soo good! I have to make them all!," says my left brain. "But you only have 7 days," says my right. There are so many great recipes out there; how will I ever choose?

This week I'm going to let you choose. Because I'm taking a break from decisions and because we all need more decisions in our lives. I know, I know. You're quite welcome.

Monday A: Tacos

Monday B: Peppered Flank Steak and Salsa, Roasted Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday A: Sloppy Joes, raw carrots, home fries (try making these with egg whites instead of oil--fabulous!)

Tuesday B: Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy, smashed potatoes, steamed peapods

Wednesday A: Meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

Wednesday B: Bacon and Butternut Pasta, Crusty French Bread

Thursday A: Rotisserie Chicken, boiled red potatoes, Roasted Carrots and Onions

Thursday B: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, Buttermilk Biscuits

Friday A: Spaghetti, French Bread, Salad

Friday B: Herbed Fish and Red Potato Chowder, Whole Grain Crackers, Red Bell Pepper Strips

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food, Glorious Food

I love food. I love to eat. It doesn't even have to be comfort food. It can be anything and it will be comforting. I'm pretty sure it's an addiction, similar to cigarettes, alcohol, or online scrabble. This affinity I have for what is ultimately only fuel for my body is counterproductive to the desire I have for a nicely shaped body. But, though it is an addiction, I can't just quit cold turkey, no matter how strong my will power or how talented the hypnotist. And so, like much of life, I strive for balance--balance between fuel and fun, need and now, provision and processed. Fortunately, many times the flavor and the fuel aren't mutually exclusive.

Monday: Stuffed Glazed Pork Chops, Steamed Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes

Stuffed Pork Chops
4 Pork Loin Chops, 1 1/4" thick
1/2 lb pork sausage (or turkey sausage)
1 C. onion, chopped
1 cup cornbread, crumbled and dried
3/4 C. shredded apple
2 t. fresh thyme, minced, or 1/4 t. dried thyme
1/3 C. apple jelly
1/3 C. apple Juice
1 1/2 T. lemon juice

Cut a slit in each chop with a sharp knife, the length of the fat side almost to the other side, but not all the way through. Refrigerate chops while preparing stuffing. Cook sausage and onion in large skillet until sausage is brown, drain well. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Return to skillet and and stir in cornbread, apple, and thyme. Spoon 2 T. of apple juice over stuffing mixture and toss to combine. Spoon 2 T. stuffing into each pork chop pocket, use toothpicks to secure stuffing in pockets. Set aside remaining stuffing. Place chops on a rack in a roasting pan. In small saucepan combine jelly and lemon juice. Cook over low heat and stir until jelly melts. Brush chops with glaze and bake, uncovered, in a 375 oven for 20 minutes. Brush chops again with glaze, and add the remaining stuffing around the chops. Return to oven for another 20 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes

1 bag small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 c. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper

Toss above ingredients until well coated.

Bake in single layer on cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 45 min or until potatoes are soft and beginning to brown.

Tuesday: Chili Grande, corn bread

1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 cans chili beans
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 envelope taco seasoning

Combine all ingredients in crock pot (no need to brown the meat first). Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Serve over yesterday's leftover corn bread.

Wednesday: Steak Frites with Herb Mustard, Romaine Salad

Thursday (vegetarian, breakfast for dinner): Spanish Tortilla with Bell Pepper, Fresh Fruit

Friday: Baked Chicken Legs, Steamed Sugar Snap Peas, Lemon Wild Rice

Saturday: Pizza night

Sunday: Shrimp Soup, Baked Tortilla Chips

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dinner Diva Delves into '12

Regardless of what will likely happen in subsequent weeks, this week we're starting out with healthy meals, exercise, good attitudes, plenty of sleep, and a strong work ethic applied to household chores and homeschool academics. . . Well, a girl can dream. At least I have a small say over the meals. Handily, this month's Food Network Magazine is dedicated to great food, light. It is here inspiration for the week will be found. Come hungry to the table, my family, and I will cheerfully feed you well.

Monday: Bobby Deen's Baked Spaghetti, Whole Wheat French Bread, Romaine Salad

Tuesday: Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans, baked potatoes

Wednesday: Cajun Stuffed Peppers, Whole Wheat Garlic Toast

(Use the leftover bread from Monday. Slice, spread with nonfat plain yogurt and sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil for just a few minutes until toasty.)

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing, Steamed Brown Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: pizza

Sunday: Beef and Barley Soup, whole wheat crackers