Monday, September 10, 2007

just another reason...

why I "heart" Trader Joe's.

Just so y'all know, I plan on not being such a stranger here on the Mess. My apologies. *B

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Obesity Epidemic

"A researcher in the United States claims that the reason for the obesity epidemic is more than just the calories we eat and the lack of exercise. It's a substance that food manufacturers are widely using."

Listen to, or read, the entire transcript here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

anybody up for some commentary?

Hello to everyone (whoever stops and visits, and thereby reads what I'm writing here)! Just wanted to let you know that I've got everything as linked as possible (at the moment) for everyone's meal plans. Remember that contest? Well we had a bunch of contributors, which was so great and fun! I am going to have to steal so many ideas and recipes from these gals, it's/they are that awesome!

Anyway, and also, I just wanted to let you know that the reason I haven't gotten most of my plan linked, or recipes written, is because we have yet to make a trip to the grocery store!!! So, as soon as I try and test the meals that I have planned, I will get them up here.

Thanks everyone who participated, and thanks to all you out there who comes to this site! It's fun (most of the time ;) Oh, and one more thing. I've added another link list called, the handy and dandy. It's some sites that I frequent to get some new (and most of the time healthy... you know me) ideas! So check them out! And one of these days I'll get around to labeling and posting some "just plain tasty" recipes like I talked about. Baby steps my dears, baby steps!

Take care and I'll be keeping you posted!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Meal Plan (March)

Saturday-3: Pasta bake
Sunday-4: Stir Fry

Monday-5: Salmon with Fancy Honey-Mustard Green Beans
Tuesday-6: Grilled steak with veggies
Wednesday-7: Leftovers
Thursday-8: Gooey Enchiladas (slow cooker)
Friday-9: Hearty Tomato Stoup w/ sammies
Saturday-10: Nachos
Sunday-11: Chicken Crock-pot Pie w/biscuits

Monday-12: Grilled chicken Caesar salad
Tuesday-13: Disneyland!!!
Wednesday-14: Gooey Enchilada Filling w/ rice (leftover twist from Thursday)
Thursday-15: Hawaiian Haystacks
Friday-16: Chicken Noodle Soup (slow cooker) w/ homemade noodles
Saturday-17: Cucina Salad
Sunday-18: Oriental Chicken (slow cooker)

Monday-19: Fish tacos
Tuesday-20: Leftovers
Wednesday-21: Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Leftover twist from Sunday)
Thursday-22: Steak Fajitas
Friday-23: Garden Veggie Minestrone Tortellini Soup (omit pasta and substitute package tortellini; chicken is opt.)
Saturday-24: Sweetness Salad
Sunday-25: Southwestern Chicken w/ rice

Monday-26: Salmon with Stuffed Portobellos
Tuesday-27: Spicy Beef Stir Fry
Wednesday-28: Shredded Southwestern Chicken Tacos (Leftover twist from Sunday)
Thursday-29: Thai Beef Salad
Friday-30: Veggie Lasagna
Saturday-31: Curried Salad

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Robin's Curried Lentils

- my variation of "Dahl"

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped up
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 can coconut milk, about 1/2 cup (I use lite/low-fat, if you can't get it, just use less and increase the water)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed dried red peppers
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (just the regular powdered kind)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add the mustard seeds, garlic, and onions. Cook on medium heat until onions are transparent and seeds begin to pop. Then add the lentils and cook until shiny and a little transparent (about 3 min). Add coconut milk, 1 cup water, and spices. I just add spices to taste. Simmer 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender and it has a thick soup-like consistency. It will reduce as cooking, so feel free to add water, coconut milk, and adjust spices during cooking. Serve over Basmati rice. It's delicious served with fresh sliced green, red, and yellow bell peppers. It also freezes and reheats well.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

oh la la, a contest

ETA: I guess the main purpose for this is because I'm lazy and wanted help coming up with some new and exciting meal plans for next month. I don't really know what will be the prize... just something, that's sure to have my "stamp" on it :) whether or not it's really worth anything is up for debate!

Check it out, I'm running a contest ! I thought it might be fun to have everyone, who is interested, submit meal plans for next month. So here's how it works: an entry counts as one planned week and you can enter up to 4.5 weeks (a month's worth) of meal plans. You can submit your plans here or there, either as a comment or an email (found in my profile). At the beginning of March I will have a drawing and the winner will receive a little prize or a gift of sorts, Beth style.

Now don't fret my dears, this isn't supposed to be stressful to anyone. So if your week's meal plan happens to contain three off days (whether it's take out, restaurant, frozen dinner, etc.), that's ok because it's your plan! And you don't have to use any of my recipes or any of my tastes (aka. healthy meals :) This is just for your family, however and whatever you want to cook. Savvy?

I'm also thinking of expanding my Mess to include more meals outside of my style of cooking. So you are more than welcome to email me one of your favorite recipes (even if it calls for a cup of mayonnaise) if you'd like it to be added to the site, just for fun. I'll also be adding another label to the site named "just plain tasty" for recipes that aren't necessarily concerned with calories and taste dang good! Basically, I want people out there to feel like they have a variety of recipes and meal plans (not just mine) to choose from and to have the courage (because it does take time, initially) to plan their meals. I guess I decided this because there are so many cute girls out there posting their digi-recipes for truly tasty, albeit sinful, dishes and treats... and what do I post? Protein Bars! Hahaha! I've accepted the fact that I'm a food nerd, particularly a health nut nerd. But not everyone is and that is just fine with me :)

So happy planning! You have the next few days to plan away, so get busy! And have fun, I don't want this to be a chore or a bore!

credits: Shabby Princess & Misprinted Type.

A Holistic Hopeful

This is my application essay for my Masters program in Holistic Nutrition. Just thought I'd share it, with those who are interested... and it kinda explains why I cook the way I do, in relation to some aspects of this site a wee bit :)

I have suffered and lived with headaches all my life, or for as long as I can remember. And then came the summer of my sophomore year in college. The headaches had become less than tolerable, to the point that I was nearly passing out with each occurrence. It was then that I decided I had to do something; that this problem had to be fixed. I went on a nutrition overhaul and cut out everything sugar-related in my diet, whether it was ketchup, bread or fruit. Sure, many of my friends and roommates teased me with such sayings as, “Life’s too short to not enjoy sweets!” to which I would reply, “Yes, but it’s too long to suffer with blackouts!” My headaches were just the beginning.

That same summer I had the opportunity to work on a research paper about diet intervention for the autistic. Through my personal experiences with food and pain, through my studies of others’ relationship with nutrition and illnesses, and through my education as a health science student, I cultivated my passion for nutrition. I thirsted for a better understanding and turned to books outside of my required texts. Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition became a favorite amongst my ever increasing library. I would pore over its pages, finding answers to many of my questions, as well as discovering questions I needed to ask for myself: What did I want to do with my knowledge - of biology and of how the body works, of the effects of nutrition and exercise on the body? And the main question: How can I learn more?

When I refer to my knowledge, I am not professing to be anything but a student who has learned from her teachers and texts and has retained them and applied them to her life. In addition, my life’s mission and goal is to be a student, always. I love learning. When I first went to college I thought I wanted to be a doctor, to go off to medical school. Then my interest morphed into nursing, which quickly transformed into Health Science with an emphasis in Health Promotion & Lifetime Wellness, which finally developed into my underlying love for nutrition. I know that our connection with food, whether it is a good or bad relationship, affects our physical health, our mental health, and even our spiritual health. To be truly healthy, everything must be equally balanced and unfortunately, nutrition is most often at the forefront of a downward spiral.

I must admit that I thought of becoming a dietitian. However, I do not necessarily agree with how they approach the food and wellness relationship. Nutrition goes beyond calories and food groups. Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves and our food can facilitate that power. No, what I wanted to pursue was something offering a more holistic approach. 

I look forward to not only refreshing my basic comprehension of human anatomy and physiology as I studied in college, but also toward the expanding of my simple understanding in holistic human development. There is so much to be learned! What’s more, I feel like I have finally found the answers to my questions. I can expand and apply my knowledge of biology, how the body works, the effects of nutrition and exercise. As for my headaches, they never vanished completely but they are more manageable. A dear, understanding friend once commented that to be cursed with such pain only blesses me with the desire to search for more answers. Ergo, this program will provide me with the tools to learn how to use a holistic approach in helping myself and others.

Protein Bars

I've made these a few times now, and I rather like them. I eat one of these bad boys every morning for breakfast, with a protein shake. However, if you're expecting these to taste like brownies, you will sadly be mistaken! They taste like healthy food, which I happen to like (you know me...). And there are some really "good" protein bars out there that taste like candy! But I HATE, read it, HATE, sugar substitutes and their aftertaste. Also, I happen to have these ingredients on hand. So, I guess what I'm getting at is don't try these unless you really think you'll like them, because you'll end up spending a lot of money (if you don't already have said stuff) just to throw them away. The original recipe can be found here (love Alton Brown).

a click on image = a readable recipe

Nutrition Information
(per 2 inch squares):
159.04 Calories; 22.4 g. carbohydrates; 8.45 g. protein;
4.79 g. fat; 2.31 g. fiber; 91.96 mg sodium; 17.78 mg. cholesterol

Credits: Shabby Princess, Misprinted Type, and Margarete Antonio.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

indulging in laziness

Hey dolls! I know it's been a while since I've been on here and updated some recipes due for this month... but you know, things never do work out as expected. I've shuffled around a few days, here and there, but I don't think I'm going to bother applying that to the month's plan. Just wanted to let you know that this site is on my mind, if not on my to do list! Is that terrible?! I guess I feel that there are enough recipes on here for now for you guys to come up with your own plans if you want, and if there is something I've listed but not linked, you're all resourceful enough to find a recipe elsewhere, rather than wait on me... right?

Anyway, I just need to remind myself that I started this site for my own reasons, being that I would have an online source of tried and true recipes for my family so that I won't have to be a slave to cookbooks if we happen to visit or move somewhere shortly. Just let me know if you do indeed want me to write some stuff up, otherwise just enjoy the site as it is (because I have an index! Yippee!)! Happy cooking y'all!

Love, B

Friday, February 02, 2007

words from the author

I'm such a goober!

Anyway, just a little note: although it won't appear that any new posts have been made very often, there will be! Let me explain... the top post, next to this one, will most likely be the meal plan for the month, and the recipes that correspond to the plan can be found in "previous" posts (back-dated). So the monthly plan will be updated with the necessary links each time I enter in a new recipe.

PS- I now have an in-depth index! Woot woot! Hopefully that will help and make things a little easier to navigate...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Meals for the Month (February)

So far, here it is (and as you can see, most meals have already made their debut here on the Mess). I think I am going to go ahead and try to post meals after I've made them. So for example, I will make the Simple Chicken this Friday and I will post it this Saturday, which will allow you to fix it either that night or the next. Sound good? And I think that I will just keep this very post - Meals for the Month (February) - as the top post, with all of the meals that correspond beneath or as "previous" posts... Savvy?

Thursday-1: Dinner w/ the Folks
Friday-2: Simple Chicken w/ Quick & Fancy Broccoli
Saturday-3: Beef Stroganoff
Sunday-4: Chicken Enchiladas

Monday-5: Chicken Cacciatore
Tuesday-6: Ginger Soy Chic Lettuce Wraps
Wednesday-7: Chicken Crock Pie (version: cobbler/biscuit topping)
Thursday-8: Veggie & Chicken Stir-fry w/ Yogurt Peanut Sauce
Friday-9: Steak Fajitas
Saturday-10: Leftovers/Scrounge Night
Sunday -11: Quick Cassoulet Stuffed Bread Melts

Monday-12: Mango Salsa Chicken
Tuesday-13: Chicken Marsala
Wednesday-14: Salmon & Lemon-Watercress Sauce w/ Fancy Schmancy Rice and Quick & Fancy Broccoli
Thursday-15: Thai Beef Salad
Friday-16: J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference Dinner
Saturday-17: Leftovers/Scrounge Night
Sunday -18: Southwestern Chicken (slow cooker)

Monday-19: Steak w/ Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms
Tuesday-20: Curried Salad
Wednesday-21: Tortilla Soup
Thursday-22: Herb Grilled Salmon Fillets w/ Green Beans
Friday-23: Bucca di Beppo (belated sweetheart dinner)
Saturday-24: Leftovers/Scrounge Night
Sunday -25: Chicken Fingers w/ Stuffed Potatoes

Monday-26: Spicy Beef Stir-Fry w/ Peanuts
Tuesday-27: Dill-Lemon Chicken w/ Roasted Broccoli
Wednesday-28: Veggie Lasagna

Diet Tweaking

The diet needs a little bit of fixing... We've had to change it and lower the calorie level we were following and it has yet to be reflected on here. I'll eventually get to it though. I guess that's just a little FYI for now for those of you who are interested... Thanks!

Shopping List, Part I (February)

Make your personal changes; adding and subtracting to this list as needed. And don't forget to check up on what you already have, etc. (shopping tips). If I forgot anything, I'll just make a note in the comments section, m'k? Oh, and just a head's up: this is your more expensive grocery trip, where the bulk of the stuff you'll need comes from. The second trip will only be 30 dollars, give or take... Happy shopping!

  • frozen veggies (C)
  • frozen fruit-2 (C)*
  • lettuce (C)
  • bananas (C)*
  • broccoli
  • bell peppers-3
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • onions (C)
  • tomatoes
  • celery*
  • garlic, if needed
  • Froze. Chicken (C)
  • Froze. Salmon (C)
  • sliced turkey (C)*
  • sliced ham (C)*
  • turkey bacon*
  • tofu-2 (C)*
  • peanut butter (C)*
  • Cheese (C)
  • Egg whites (C)*
  • yogurt (TJ)*
  • cottage cheese*
Grains- whole wheat*:
  • English Muffins*
  • Bagels (C)*
  • pasta (TJ)
  • flour*
  • canned mushrooms (C)
  • can green chilies
  • rice milk (TJ) - or substitute milk, both of which can be bought at a reasonable price at (C)
  • dried fruit & nut medley (C)*
  • broth/bouillon (chicken and beef, if you don't have it on hand)
  • can black beans
  • mustard
  • honey
  • protein powder (C/TJ)*
  • apple sauce*
  • raw almonds (C)*
  • large can of diced tomatoes-2
  • olive oil, if needed (C)
  • Italian dressing/recipe mix
  • canned tuna (C)*
  • canned chicken (C)*
  • canned pineapple*

C = Costco or some other warehouse
TJ = Trader Joe's; great prices for health-nut food!
*NOTE*: if you plan on following the diet or making the protein shakes and/or protein bars, etc. (all of which we follow every day).

Chicken Cacciatore

A basic Italian dish with the main flavor derived from the bell peppers. Serve with lots of Parmesan and shredded Mozzarella, and some nice yummy, crusty bread... mmmmm. Risotto would also go well with this, in place of the bread (if you're watching your carbs per meal).

  • 2-4 chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Italian Seasoning, to taste
  • 1/3 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tomato, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • zucchini & squash, chopped, to taste (opt.)
  • 7 oz. tomato sauce/ pureed tomato
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • olive oil - no more than 2 T.
1. Heat oil in pan and brown chicken on both sides.
2. Add veggies, except tomato; cover and cook for five minutes, toss if needed.
3. Add seasoning and tomato, stir.
4. Add tomato sauce and chicken broth; bring to bubble and cook till chicken is done.

Beef Stroganoff (slow cooker)

Sorry I didn't get this out sooner... it is pretty basic though. So I'm just going to write this as we made it and feel free to make your own substitutions (for the mushrooms, dairy and noodles).

  • 1.5 lb lean beef stewing meat, trimmed of fat and sliced
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cans of mushrooms (or 1 lb fresh)
  • 1 can cream of 'shroom soup
  • 1/2 c. beef broth (this is because our meat was frozen and the liquid that was bound to melt was enough for the dish... the original recipe called for 1 cup)
  • 1 c. plain yogurt (or fat-free/fat-full sour cream)
1. Combine everything but the dairy in slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (frozen or unfrozen alike).
3. Stir in dairy and serve warm.
4. Serve with cooked whole wheat pasta or brown rice (or no-yolk noodles).

Simple Chicken (slow cooker)

A while ago I bought this little magazine-booklet that was all about slow cooker recipes. It's wonderful! And here's one of them. This is planned for Friday, 2 February (or a day later, as mentioned in the planner). Dang ginas, there's only three recipes and four steps!

  • 4 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 package dry Italian dressing mix
  • 1 c. warm water OR chicken broth
1. Place chicken in cooker.
2. Sprinkle dressing mix on top.
3. Pour water/broth over chicken; cover.
4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.

*Serve with Quick & Fancy Broccoli and some rice if you'd like.

Basic Stir Fry

Do I really need to describe how to make stir-fry???

Your choice of veggies (although frozen mixes are the easiest) with/without your choice of meat and then your choice of seasonings...

Cook at relatively high heat with oil/water/broth, depending on your desired fat content.

There, it is said and done. Let it suffice.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Protein Shake(s)

I make these for my son every morning and he absolutely LOVES them. Who knew? Anyway, this is a great way to sneak some more protein into your diet. And you can mix up the flavors every day so as not to get monotonous. It just depends on what fruit and protein powders* you choose. So you could have a peach shake, a tropical shake, a chocolate/peanut butter, etc. The possibilities and health benefits are endless here! Enjoy!

  • 1/2 c. vanilla rice milk
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 3 oz. tofu (1 large spoonful)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • handful of frozen berries/fruit
1. Blend rice milk (or dairy of choice) with yogurt and tofu.
2. Add fruit and turn up the juice (of the machine that is).
3. Serve cold, with a straw of course! And be careful, because this will stain if let to its own devise.

PS- I make *Brad's pretty much the same: increase rice milk to 1 c. and add 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (and omit banana).

Break Over

I apologize for just leaving you hangin' there high and dry! But amidst our kitchen woes (such as flooding and an ant invasion, plus the extra stress of working around a diet), there were many a-times where I ended up not cooking and my whole plan went bonkers! So to save myself from insanity, I just opted not to post any more meals for the month, especially since it was just me and maybe one other person that I know of that was following along... But if there was something on the plan that sounded like it was something you wanted to try, then let me know and I'll get it up on here.

I also have been feeling weird about posting recipes that I haven't even tried! I'm not sure how to circumvent that problem... unless I just post the meal plans and if you choose to follow it, just push everything back a day. That way I can make my meals one night and the next day post it (since so many of my recipes I personally modify) for you to follow for that night. Make sense? Is anyone getting any of this???

Anyway, there's also enough meal ideas already posted on here to help you guys in your quests for dinner that I'm rather confident you were all ok while I was MIA... So, I'm going to try this again but try to not let myself get stressed out about things. I'm working on my meal plan for February since I'll be shopping tomorrow. So I will get that up as soon as I can, with the shopping list. And for those of you who are wanting to try this whole method of cooking via planning on your own, then please refer to the shopping tips and start coming up with your version of meal plans and shopping lists (then you won't suffer if I do decide to take a break). I really do think that this method has helped our family in so many ways and promise that it can help everyone out there (who doesn't have a personal chef), so do give it, or a variation of it, a try and let us know what you're doing (successes, failures, etc.).

Oh, and I'm not going to post which version of the diet that the dinners go with anymore, because I think my family is the only one it concerns and I've already got everything down on paper and it would just be one more thing for me to figure out and develop migraines over...

On a side-note: please comment on this post if you are even reading this blog! I would like to know who is even interested in any of this and what meals/plans have worked for you. And please share some ideas with us! I don't want to be typing to myself, it's rather lonely...



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hiatus Time

I'm just taking a break...

and that's all I have to say for right now...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's Updatin' Time!

It's not yet "Saturday, January 20, 2007." Ok, so you probably all know that I try to have the meals posted by the week. Since I date them according to the plan, it gets a little confusing at times when trying to navigate your way through this site. So I will post this exact post each time I update a week's meals.

The purpose of this post, the very one you're reading, is to give you the links you might need for that week. And this very post will also be updated each time I re-post it, and will be removed from its former location.

Who knows if that really makes much sense when reading it, but it is typed and done. Hope this helps... Heck, I hope any of this helps (not just this particular post)!!!

Helpful Links:

Meals for the Month (January)
Shopping List (January, part I)
Shopping Tips
Diet plan (and explanation)

Leftovers/ Scrounge Night

Click here and enjoy!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mexican Pasta w/ Chipotle Sausage

Yummy in my tummy! SO excited for this one, but haven't done it yet. This will be an experiment y'all, so make the necessary adjustments for taste and consistency, m'k?

  • 2 links Chipotle Chicken Sausage, chopped
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes w/ green chillies
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cheese, shredded
  • chicken bouillon, maybe

1. Preheat oven to 400 and bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta if you didn't make any/enough from last night.
2. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat, spray with a little olive oil or water.
3. Cook sausage in skillet. Once their juices get flowing and they start to brown a bit, add onion and garlic; cook.
4. Add tomatoes w/ chillies and simmer until it reduces and becomes nice and "saucy." Taste test it and add bouillon and seasoning if needed.
5. Toss with pasta (1 c. pasta per person) and top with cheese (1 oz. per person).
6. Option: place in casserole dish and pop it in the oven for a pasta bake.
7. Top with cilantro and serve with a salad.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Italian Garden Veggie Minestrone

I loooove this one. It's my kind of comfort food. Who needs chicken friend steak and mashed potatoes when you can have this (and not the added inches to your waistline!)! Need I mention it's a slow cooker recipe! Yup, definitely a favorite...

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can mushrooms OR 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow squash, chopped
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Italian Seasoning, to taste
  • Dried Basil, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

1. Place all ingredients except dried herbs and cheese in crock pot; cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Stir in dried herbs into pot for last 15-20 minutes.
3. Cook pasta in separate pot. The point of this is for leftover purposes. You can cook pasta with the crockpot, but they may end up too soft or too hard upon serving. But if you let the pasta sit overnight inside the soup, they expand and you end up with goulash.
3. Serve; add pasta to each bowl and top with Parmesan.


PS- this is minestrone people, so keep that in mind when you cook and add the pasta. However, if you're not concerned with the diet, then you could morph this into a pasta dish. Just omit the broth and make it into a sauce and serve on top of pasta. You may want to add some bouillon to the sauce; taste test it first.

Time Saver: as you cook the pasta, make enough for tonight and for tomorrow's pasta bake.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stuffed Potatoes

Just be careful with the consistency here. Add less or more yogurt/ sour cream to match properly with your potato amount... and taste test (as always) for the right seasonings amount. Serve with bacon wrapped chicken.

  • 2 potatoes, cleaned and "forked"
  • olive oil
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • garlic, minced (1 clove at most)
  • dried thyme, to taste
  • S&P, to taste
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt OR fat-free sour cream
  • shredded cheese (1 oz. per person)
1. Heat a little bit of olive oil in skillet. Microwave potatoes, rotating half-way through nuking (and preheat the broiler while you're at it).
2. Add mushrooms and onions; cook/saute.
3. Add garlic, thyme, S&P.
4. Cook, stirring frequently.
5. Cut cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the insides (be careful- don't rip the skins).
6. In a bowl, mash potatoes with yogurt until combined.
7. Stir in the sauteed mix and add some shredded cheese (1/2 oz. per person) and more S&P if needed.
8. Mound filling back into potato skins and top with rest of cheese; place on a baking sheet and under the broiler until light brown (3-4 minutes).

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

This originally called for beef tenderloin, but we sure as heck couldn't afford such meat! So I'm using chicken instead (once again...). Serve with stuffed potatoes and steamed veggies.

  • 2-4 chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • 2-4 slices turkey bacon
  • steak seasoning, to taste
1. Preheat skillet with 1-2 T. olive oil (basically, a tbsp. per person = 1 fat according to the diet plan).
2. Season chicken with steak seasoning and center on bacon slice and wrap.
3. Place seam side down and cook on each side (or you could use the handy-dandy GF!).


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chicken Stir Fry w/ Peanut Sauce

An old favorite, just reocurring. Just follow the veggie chow mein recipe for the sauce, and serve with chicken and a frozen stir-fry mix (cooked/unfrozen, of course). No rice tonight if you're following the diet.

VERSION 4 (using 2 T. peanut sauce per serving; omit 2 oz. dried fruit from your snacks).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken

This is a relatively simple, and yet another, chicken recipe. I'll just be serving this with either a salad or some roasted veggies (bell peppers and such) or both!

  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • olive oil
  • S&P
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cheese, shredded

1. Combine chili powder, cumin and S&P.
2. Rub chicken with olive oil (not too much remember); coat with spice mixture.
3. Grill chicken (we'll be using our belove George Foreman once again. It should be fine cooked in a pan though).
4. Top with cilantro and cheese.
5. Eat it! -- Would be good served with nacho type toppings: olives, salsa, avocados, etc.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hold Your Spatulas!

It's not yet "Sunday, January 14, 2007." But I've got the meals for the month, shopping list, and this week's meals all lined up. Hence, our time-shift.

Before you go checking out this month’s meal plans, I must tell you that we are on a diet. Gasp! No seriously, I’ve gotten lazy with my cooking so I’m taking it to the next level in healthy! Besides, Brad got P90X for Christmas (he asked for it, honest!) and you have to follow the nutrition guidelines, which makes sense to me, for obvious reasons. I’m quite satisfied with this program because it’s no quick fix, easy guide; it’s a lifestyle change. It tells the truth and the truth is you need to eat well to live well.

The nutrition guide is surprisingly similar to what I came up with when I worked on a weight management program for the Wellness Center my senior year at BYU-Idaho (pregnant and all!). I was in charge of the nutrition aspect of weight management and well, I guess great minds think alike! Anyway, we’re following what’s called the portion approach and I spent some time creating meals that would incorporate all the required servings for each food group by the end of the day.

I don’t know if many- or if any- of you are at all interested in all of this, but I have posted my 4-6 versions of meal plans, which includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner (The Not-So-Dreadful Diet). I’m doing this so I have a record of it stored online for information backup purposes. But if anyone is interested in how we’re eating or would like to try some of these healthy meals, feel free. What’s more, all the dinners are worked out so that they will fit with our family’s new needs (satisfying daily requirements, etc.) AND will work for you and your families. You are more than welcome to make changes, if you’re not feeling like wheat pasta, etc. But trust me, I hate gross food as much as the rest of you! So this stuff will taste good, I promise!

Wish us luck! And good luck to you if you choose to follow!

Quick and Fancy Broccoli

I use this recipe all the time because I love it! Is there really any better way to eat broccoli?! Maybe roasted you say? Hmm, it’s your call. Anyway, this goes really good with roasted rosemary potatoes and Coq au Vin… my famous meal I’ve made for just about everyone! Don’t worry; it’s bound to show up on the Mess sooner or later. Until then, eat this broccoli with whatever you choose (such as the Quick Cassoulet Stuffed Bread Melts that's set for tonight)!


  • Broccoli, 2 crowns
  • 1-2 Tomatoes
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced
  • 1 T. Olive oil
  • S&P
  • Italian seasoning

1. Heat an inch of water in a skillet until it’s bubbling.
2. While water heats, cut broccoli into flourettes; toss them in when ready.
3. Cut tomato(es) in half and carefully de-seed it/them; chop.
4. Drain broccoli (we’re just blanching them, not entirely cooking them).
5. Add olive oil to hot and dry pan; add garlic and cook for a minute.
6. Add broccoli and tomatoes to pan; season and toss to coat.
7. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Leftovers/ Scrounge Night

Enough said. Except, knowing me, I always have a surprising amount to say about nothing. For a night such as this, clean out what you have in the fridge/freezer/pantry that needs to be eaten. Or you can have takeout if you’d rather… whatever is the easiest (which is my favorite)! Try to think ahead of time, as much as possible, of what you would like for tonight (if you want to follow the diet plan). Then you can decide throughout the week whether you really want to finish off a meal as lunch or save it for dinner later on instead (regardless of the diet).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ginger Soy Chic Lettuce Wraps

As with any of these recipes, how much chicken you decide to cook up depends on how many people you’re cooking for and if you want seconds and/or leftovers. Since we only need a chicken per person, but I want some for leftovers, I’ll be making 4. So adjust according to your needs, as always.


  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • S&P
  • olive oil
  • ginger, minced (you can use powdered/fresh; I happen to have pickled ginger on hand, so I’m going to give that a whirl)
  • garlic clove, minced
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 6 scallions/green onions, julienned- 2 in.
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and minced
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, drained and minced (opt.)
  • 2 oz. raw peanuts, toasted (opt.)
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, prepared and minced (plain mushrooms are fine, just sauté them up and then mince)
  • about ¼ c. soy sauce (a little less)
  • 1-2 T. honey- depending on how sweet you want it
  • Lettuce
  • little crispy rice noodles (opt.)

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add a little oil to start off with, then add water when needed- a tbsp. at a time.
2. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper (lots of pepper for extra spice).
3. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes (the latter two according to taste); cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add scallions and cook for another minute.
5. Add soy sauce and honey to form a sauce and glaze the chicken.
6. Remove from heat.
7. Serve wrapped in lettuce, or on top of shredded lettuce.

PS- Another variation of this would be to follow the Oriental Chicken recipe, which is a crock pot meal and a less spicy variation. Serve it as you would here; wrapped in lettuce.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chicken Fajitas

A classic in our family. Steak fajitas are optimal, of course, but chicken works well, too, especially on a budget. I always season this differently every time I make it. I basically just taste test from start to finish. Since we’re on a diet, we’re not using a marinade because of all the oil it calls for. I recommend a fajita marinade if you want to be on the safe side of taste. So no promises on my end!

  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • bell peppers, sliced (about a cup; so try to get as many colors as you can in 1 c.)
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • ½ small onion, sliced
  • garlic clove, minced
  • S&P, to taste
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • brown sugar to taste (1-3 t.)
  • olive oil
  • a little red wine vinegar/lemon juice, to taste (for balance)
1. Notice how I did not ask for the chicken to be sliced. That’s right. So cook chicken and then set aside to rest (it’ll be more juicy).
2. Add a little oil and cook onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms.
3. Slice chicken and return to pan.
4. Add seasoning until everything tastes just right (vinegar, water/broth instead of adding more oil if it seems like it’s getting dry on you).
5. Serve with tortillas (and/or rice if you prefer), sour cream/ plain yogurt, avocados, salsa, and cheese.


Italian Sub Stoup

The original version of this recipe (a la Rachel Ray) called for lots of bad for you yummy food (aka. Italian sausage, ham AND pepperoni). But will it kill any of us to be slightly healthier?! No. I should probably mention this now, since they’re sure to pop up frequently through this month’s meals: we have chicken sausage links. We sampled them at Costco and bought a couple: Chipotle Sausage and Sundried Tomato w/ Basil. They are absolutely awesome, in taste and healthiness, and I totally recommend them. So please, check out Sausage’s by Amy and please welcome them in their first Beth’s Mess debut!


  • 2 links ST-B Chicken sausage, chopped (or one/some of the original substitutes, see above)
  • 2 ham slices, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 can mushrooms (or fresh, my personal preference when “rich”)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 4-6 c. chicken/beef broth (your preference: more stew-like vs. more soup-like)
  • ½ spinach bunch
  • Croutons (2 slices of bread, cubed; olive oil; small garlic clove, minced; Italian seasoning; Parmesan; red pepper flakes)

1. Heat a soup pot to medium high. Add just a little (half T. at most) of olive oil, and then add sausage and ham.
2. Brown meat and then add onion, mushrooms and bell pepper.
3. Season with S&P and add tomatoes.
4. Stir in broth and bring to boil.
6. While stoup simmers, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for a minute.
7. Add bread cubes, toss and toast (about 5 minutes). Season with pepper flakes, seasoning and Parmesan while hot.
8. Stir the spinach into the stoup.
9. Serve with some shredded Mozzarella and floating croutons.


Roasted Broccoli

I kind of just made this one up, since my internet was down and I wasn’t able to follow the recipe I was thinking of. But it turned out very well and it’s one that I will remember, internet or no internet!


  • broccoli, 2 “crowns”
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • S&P
  • seasoning (Italian, All-purpose (the no salt kind), Onion powder… whatever you want it to taste like!)
  • 2 capfulls lemon juice (if you use Lemon Pepper as a seasoning, omit juice)
  • parmesan cheese (dash it all around till it looks right… however much you want).

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Chop up the broccoli (not too much stem-age action please).
3. Toss with rest of ingredients on baking sheet.
4. Roast it in the oven until cooked (about 15-20 minutes). Be sure to toss them every now and then and frequently check on them to prevent any serious burn-age.
5. Serve with toothpicks.

Quick Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is my easy-speedy version. By all means, pound out your chicken, roll them up, dip them in buttermilk, coat them in cornflakes and such and bake. But as for me and my household…


  • 2-4 chicken breasts
  • cheese (Swiss, but we’re using Mozzarella b/c it’s what we have on hand), 1 oz. per person
  • ham slices, slice per person
  • seasonings to taste

1. Butterfly chicken.
2. Place a slice of ham and an ounce of cheese (about the size of a domino) in each breast.
3. Sandwich it all together and season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper, parsley and thyme (it sometimes helps to have just a bit of olive oil on there before seasoning).
4. Cook – we’ll be using our George Foreman. I’m sure this would be insanely good on an outdoor grill, but pan cooking, or even baking, is just fine.
5. Serve with Roasted Broccoli.

* An even easier option (can you believe it?!) would be to just cook some seasoned chicken and top it with ham and cheese, pop it under the broiler for a bit and bam, you’re done…


Shopping List, Part I (January)

This list is meant to work with the diet plan and with the meals for the month. Make sure to refer to my shopping tips and then make the necessary changes to this list in order to fit your needs.




bell peppers (1 of each)

lettuce (C)









water chestnuts

28 oz. diced tomatoes (3)

mushrooms (C)

black beans

tuna (C)

chicken (C)




bread (C)

pita (TJ)


brown jasmine rice (TJ)

bagels (C)

English muffins


hams slices (C)

turkey bacon

chicken (C)

eggs (C)

almonds (C)

other nuts (peanuts/cashews)


cheese (C)


cottage cheese


tofu (TJ)

* C = Costco; TJ = Trader Joes

Meals for the Month (January)

Sorry that this is coming a couple of days late. Our internet keeps cutting it and out, so I wasn't able to get this on when it should have been... But you can refer to anything that's "old" for future recipes or as replacement recipes for others.

I'll keep coming back and updating this post with links to each meal. And if you're wanting to follow the diet plan, make sure to check which version the dinners correspond with (they'll be labeled in their individual posts).

And the only real theme nights are Mexican Monday and Leftovers/Scrounge Night. Nothing too clever; my brain has already been exhausted trying to make everything in the puzzle fit. Enjoy!

Tuesday-9: Quick Chicken Cordon Bleu w/ Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday-10: Italian Sub Stoup

Thursday-11: Chicken Fajitas

Friday-12: Ginger Soy Chic Lettuce Wraps

Saturday-13: Leftovers/ Scrounge Night

Sunday-14: Quick Cassoulet Stuffed Bread Melts w/ Quick and Fancy Broccoli

Monday-15: Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken

Tuesday-16: Spicy Stir-fry w/ Chicken and Nuts

Wednesday-17: Bacon Wrapped Chicken w/ Stuffed Potatoes

Thursday-18: Italian Garden Veggie Minestrone

Friday-19: Mexican Pasta w/ Chipotle Sausage

Saturday-20: Leftovers/ Scrounge Night

Sunday-21: Grilled Chicken w/ Stuffed Zucchini

Monday-22: Salsa Stoup w/ Chicken Quesadillas

Tuesday-23: Chicken w/ Mustard Lemon Sauce

Wednesday-24: Thai Chicken Salad

Thursday-25: Chicken Stir-fry w/ Peanut Sauce

Friday-26: Chicken Breast Subs w/ Sausage

Saturday-27: Leftovers/ Scrounge Night

Sunday-28: Spicy Chicken Rolls w/ Avocado Dip

Monday-29: Southwestern Pasta Bake

Tuesday-30: Honey Mustard Chicken w/ Salad

Wednesday-31: Chicken Stir Fry

The Not-So-Dreadful Diet


Level III: portion approach

I) Breakfast

A) Version 1

1) Scramble I

(a) 6 egg whites (1 protein)

(b) 1.5 oz. ham slices OR 1 slice bacon (½protein)

(c) 1 oz chese (1 dairy)

(d) 1 small potato (1 carbohydrate)

Total: 1.5 proteins, 1 dairy, 1 carbohydrate

2) Scramble II

(a) 6 egg whites (1 protein)

(b) 1.5 oz. ham slices OR 1 slice bacon (½ protein)

(c) 1 oz chese (2 dairy)

Total: 1.5 proteins, 1 dairy

3) Scramble III

(a) 6 egg whites (1 protein)

(b) 1.5 oz. ham slices OR 1 slice bacon (½ protein)

Total: 1.5 proteins

B) Version 2

1) 1 c. oatmeal (1 carbohydrate)

2) 8 oz. yogurt (1 dairy)

(a) 2 T. honey (1 condiment)

3) 1 serving fruit (1 fruit)*

Total: 1 carbohydrate, 1 dairy, 1 fruit, 1 condiment

C) Version 3

1) 1 English muffin (½ carbohydrate)

2) ½ c. yogurt (½ dairy)

3) 1 serving fruit (1 fruit)*

Total: ½ carbohydrate, ½ dairy, 1 fruit

D) Version 4

1) Half bagel (½ carbohydrate), toasted with:

(a) 1 oz. cheese (1 dairy)

(b) 3 oz. turkey (1 protein)

2) 8 oz. yogurt (1 dairy)

(a) 2 T. honey (1 condiment)

3) 1 serving fruit (1 fruit)*

Total: ½ carbohydrate, 2 dairy, 1 fruit, 1 protein, 1 condiment

II) Lunch

A) Version 1

1) Salad I

(a) 6 oz. chicken (2 protein)

(b) ½ c. cottage cheese (1 dairy)

(c) 4 c. lettuce (2 vegetables)

(d) 4 T. dressing (50-100 calories)

Total: 2 protein, ½ dairy, 2 vegetables, 1-2 condiments

B) Version 2

1) Salad II

(a) 6 oz. tuna, drained (2 protein)

(b) 1 oz. cheese (1 dairy)

(c) 4 c. lettuce (2 vegetables)

(d) 2-4 T. fat free dressing (50-100 calories)

Total: 2 protein, 1 dairy, 2 vegetables, 1-2 condiments

C) Version 3

1) Chicken Salad Sandwich

(a) ½ pita (½ carbohydrate)

(b) 6 oz. canned chicken (2 protein)

(c) ½ c. cottage cheese (½ dairy)

(d) 1.25 oz. mayo (1 fat)

(e) ½ c. pineapple (½ fruit)

(f) water chestnuts

(g) 1 oz. cashews (1 snack)

(h) ½ c. celery + lettuce (1 vegetable)

Total: 2 protein, ½ dairy, 1 fat, 1 snack, 1 vegetable, ½ carbohydrate, ½ fruit

D) Version 4

1) BLT sandwich

(a) 4 slices turkey bacon OR 6 0z. ham slices (2 protein)

(b) 1 slice bread (½ carbohydrate)

(c) 1 c. lettuce + sliced tomato (1 vegetable)

(d) mayonnaise (½ fat)

Total: 2 protein, ½ carbohydrate, 1 vegetable, ½ fat

III) Snacks

A) Version 1

1) protein drink

(a) 1 c. rice milk (1 dairy)

(b) 1 scoop vanilla soy powder (snack)

(c) 3 oz. tofu (1 protein)

(d) 1 c. frozen berries (1 fruit)*

Total: 1 dairy, 1 fruit, 1 protein

2) muscle milk

(a) muscle milk powder

(b) 1 c. water

3) 1 oz. almonds

4) 2 oz. dried fruit

B) Version 2

1) protein drink

(a) 1 c. rice milk (1 dairy)

(b) 1 scoop vanilla soy powder (snack)

(c) 3 oz. tofu (snack)

(d) 1 c. frozen berries (1 fruit)*

Total: 1 dairy, 1 fruit, 1 protein

2) muscle milk

(a) muscle milk powder

(b) 1 c. water

3) 1 oz. almonds

4) 2 oz. dried fruit

C) Version 3

1) muscle milk

(a) muscle milk powder

(b) 1 c. water

2) protein bar OR 2 T. peanut butter w/ celery

3) 3 oz. string cheese

4) 2 oz. dried fruit OR 2 oz. turkey jerkey

D) Version 4

1) protein drink

(a) 1 c. rice milk (1 dairy)

(b) 1 scoop vanilla soy powder (1 protein)

(c) 1 c. frozen berries (1 fruit)*

Total: 1 dairy, 1 fruit, 1 protein

2) muscle milk

(a) protein powder

(b) 1 c. water

3) 1 oz. almonds

4) 2 oz. dried fruit

IV) Dinner

* The way this works is you follow one version throughout the entire day. So version 1 breakfast goes with version 1 lunch, version 1 snacks and version 1 dinner. When I post this month's meals, I will have a number assigned to each dinner, which then determines the versions of meals you follow for the day. Once again, this is how we are eating to make sure we're getting in the requirements for the day. You on the otherhand, can mix it up and change it around, to match your family's needs.

Wait Just a Second...

I had wanted to do this earlier, way earlier. I realize it’s been a long time since my last post, and in all honesty, the crème de la crème of holidays has passed. But I wanted to talk a bit about my family’s traditions surrounding food, since this is a site dedicated to food!

My maiden name is Borgia, which most of you know. No, it’s not French, it’s Italian. And although I may only be ¼ Italian and don’t even look it, I am proud of it and I take it to the extreme! All of us Borgias do! ;)

Every Christmas I hear stories of my great-grandmother’s feasts, and how it’s changed over the years. Back then, prospective additions to the family were measured according to how many raviolis you could eat! But I grew up with relatively simple spreads in comparison. Christmas Eve we have Italian Sausages, with homemade marinara, of course. We also have an anti pasta platter and a few families over to share in the goodness. And Christmas morning we’d sit on the stairs munching on sfincies, Italian drop-doughnuts made with sourdough and coated in powdered sugar. But Christmas day is the coup de grace: homemade raviolis, which are prepared a couple of weeks before and left to adorn our kitchen until the big day when they’re cooked. Sometimes we’d stick them in the fridge or freezer if we wanted our room back, but the only place we really wanted them was in our bellies! Mmmmmm.

Brad’s family did things a little differently, but just as special and memorable to him and his kin. Brad comes from a German lineage, which I’ll talk about more on our family site (when I talk about the rest of our traditions besides food). His family has a big get together with several friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve where his mom serves up taco soup with Frito chips. Don’t forget the chips (my mistake)! Christmas day is then filled with cold cereal from their stockings (a treat in the Summers family) for breakfast with the rest of the day spent munching on goodies they’ve received. Whatever is easiest for mom is their motto!

Now on with the show!