Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Watermelon Smoothies

These might be more of a slushie than a smoothie... is there a difference?  I know Summer is on its way out in most places, but still it lingers on in AZ!  So whether you're just suffering in surviving the Valley of the Sun, experiencing a random heatwave elsewhere, or making plans for your next poolside BBQ, keep this sweet chiller in mind.

  • 1 1/2 c. raspberry lemonade
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 handfuls of frozen strawberries
  • 4 handfuls of frozen cubed watermelon
  1. Combine lemonade and water in a blender.  Add strawberries and watermelon and blend.
Tip:  I like buying the little, round watermelons.  The ones that are the size of other melons.  They tend to be sweeter.  And they're just the right size for my little family.  BUT, if you plan on taking this to a party, get a normal watermelon and serve your chilled concoction inside a scooped out watermelon bowl!  *B

Asian Fusion Soup

I also call this "poor man's fancy ramen."  I invented this soup a while ago, when money was tight and so was time.  Isn't that always the case, though?  Anyway, it's a great way to really stretch your wallet and use up what's in your fridge/pantry.  Super cheap.  Super easy.  It's super soup!

  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 t. garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, diced (opt)
  • handful of spinach
  • 1/2 c. fresh/frozen/canned mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 can mushrooms, drained (opt)
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. honey/brown sugar
  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • dash of cayenne (opt)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 package of prepared pad thai noodles -or- handful of wantons
  1. Bring broth to a boil and add coconut oil.
  2. Add garlic, onions, spinach and frozen veggies.  Reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Add soy sauce, ginger and cayenne.  Stir.
  4. While whisking soup, add beaten eggs.
  5. Stir in noodles and heat through.
Tip: If you want more protein, add a handful or two of cooked, shredded chicken.  Add as much cayenne as you want spice.  Other yummy add-ins are mushrooms, celery, bok choy and brown rice.  I forget how much I like this soup until I make it, and then I wonder why I don't make it more often!  And believe it or not, my kids love it, too.  Family tested, budget approved soup for you.  *B

Combo Tacos

While I'm usually not a huge fan of meat, especially the ground kind, when I do use/eat it I prefer to pair the lean turkey with the more flavorful beef.  Adding black beans just brings more protein (and fiber) to the table.  Still working on the wannabe taco meat... but in the meantime, here's a more meat friendly version ;)

  • 1 c. ground turkey
  • 1 c. ground beef
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 T. taco seasoning
  1. Brown meat until slightly pink; add chopped onion and cook until onions are soft and meat is cooked.
  2. Add taco seasoning and stir.  Add about a 1/4 c. water and allow mixture to come to a simmer.
  3. Add black beans and cook until liquid is gone.
  4. Serve meat as a filling for tacos/burritos or as a topping for nachos.  Add additional toppings such as salsa, diced tomatoes, lettuce, olives, avocados, etc. as desired.
Tip:  We tend to buy our ground beef and turkey in bulk, from Costco.  When we get home, we chop up an onion and cook both meats simultaneously.  Once cool, we combine the cooked turkey and beef and divide it up into individual ziplock bags and pop 'em in the freezer.  Then, when it's time to make tacos, or spaghetti, or chili, the nasty-time-consuming part (aka. meat cooking) is already done!  Just add your spices and you're good to go.  *B

Sunday, September 26, 2010

this week's plan: 9/27 - 10/3

Does the title make sense to anyone else but me?  I hope so.  Also, I'm sorry I didn't post any recipes this past week...  Turns out we're super poor and I had to rearrange some meals to fit in with our meager budget.  Meaning I had to make use of what was in our pantry, fridge and/or freezer ;)  But back pats for me for remembering to post meal plans!

Mexican Monday: Combo Tacos
Oriental Tuesday: MSG-free noodle soup
Twisted Wednesday: french toast and eggs
Authentic Thursday: spaghetti and "meat" balls
Super Saturday: date night, with the kids.  No money = no babysitter.  Time to hit up Nana! Conference at the folks'!
Special Sunday: hoping someone invites us over for dinner ;)  Otherwise, cold cereal? Conference at the folks'!

Upcoming recipes: watermelon smoothies, combo tacos, MSG-free noodle soup, and hopefully "meat" balls.  And if there's time I'm feeling super ambitious, updating some posts with photos!  Almost as fun as buying groceries with our upcoming pay checks.  *B

so you want to lose some weight...

A few years ago at a family reunion I had a couple cousins, and my grandma, ask how I got "so skinny."  Let me just say that I've grown up a bit and lost some baby fat...  But, I also happen to have curves, extra baggage, and dimples.  Some days I like the way I look, and some days I don't.  I'm a girl.  That's what we do.  Anyway, so here I had family members ask me what my secret was.  And I've had friends ask me the same after I lost some weight in college.  "What's your secret?"  And every time I tell them, their faces drop and then they shrug their shoulders and keep on doing what they're doing (which isn't working for them).  So here's my secret.  You ready?  You sure?  You're sure you're sure?  Okay then...  Watch what you eat, and eat right.

For some strange reason, most people think it's easier (or more fun) to work their butts off.  Literally.  I'm not a huge fan of sweating buckets.  And frankly, I don't believe our bodies need to be pushed to exhaustion in order to be healthy.  But I pay attention to what goes into my body.  And you can workout as much as you want, but if your body isn't getting adequate amounts of GOOD fuel, then that might be the reason you're hitting a plateau.  So stop killing yourself at the gym.  Stop eating bad food.  Eat right and use (not abuse) your body.  And make feeling good, not just looking good, your main goal.  Got it?

I'm just going to throw these next few tips out there for anyone who may be interested...  it's worked for me in the past, it's worked for family and friends, etc.  It may or may not work for you.  So, here are a few suggestions.  Some might seem easy, and some may make you groan.  But you decide how you WANT to feel.  And I think you'll find the strength you need to make good choices ;)  Are you ready?  Here we go!
  1. Stop drinking pop.  Soda.  Whatever you want to call it.  I don't care if it's "diet "(don't even get me started!).  Just stop.  Drink water instead.  Lots of it.
  2. Stop eating/drink dairy.  Or at least seriously limit your intake.  If you must, eat a slice of cheese OR a small helping of yogurt.  One serving, once a day.  That's it.
  3. Eat a piece of chocolate a day.  Go ahead.  I give you permission.  But don't over-indulge on desserts.  Stop baking those cookies.  Or make them and give them away.  If you are addicted to sugar (and most people are), this will be the hardest choice to make.  But it will also be one of the best.  If you have to have some dessert, then eat one dessert a week.  Set aside Sunday (or whatever day) as your special day, where you treat yourself to a small slice of pie (or whatever it is).  Just one slice.  Eat that pie.  Enjoy it.  And then move on.
  4. Snack throughout the day.  Your snacks should include fruits, vegetables and nuts.  NOT that reduced -fat crap they sell at the store.  If you're hungry, then take a drink of water.  Still hungry?  Eat a healthy snack.  Then take another drink of water.  Still hungry?  Go do something to distract you until it's mealtime ;)
  5. Here comes the meal planning portion of this so-called diet:
    • Breakfast: Protein drink with a handful of almonds on the side.
    • Lunch: Huge salad with a serving of protein.  Light on the dressing.
    • Dinner: Just one serving of protein and whole-grains, and then as many vegetables as you want.  No, potatoes do not count.
And that's it.  You're not going to starve.  And it's not for forever!  The key is to keep things interesting.  Please, please, PLEASE, don't have the same protein drink/salad/dinner every day.  You will get so bored so fast which will lead to discouragement and self-doubt, both of which are more poisonous than you can imagine.  Listen to your body.  Love your body.  Eat what sounds good.  Try fun  and exciting recipes.  Go on walks.  Do yoga.  Smile.  Be happy.  And feel good about yourself.  *B

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the nitty gritty

I'm really going to try and be better about posting my meal plans.  Forgive me for being lazy!  But at least I'm posting more regularly, right???  Meh, you win some, you lose some ;)

First off, let me explain how my plans have been working for me lately -- just in case I haven't already.  I have themes for each day of the week.  I find that it keeps our food palate well rotated and our oral palates happy.  Who likes to have Italian three days in a row (besides me, but that's because I am one)?!  Another reason why I like our theme routine is that if a planned meal doesn't sound so good, of if I find myself running out of time, then instead of playing the what's-for-dinner guessing game, I can at least narrow our options down to one genre.  For example, if I have Oriental Chicken planned but forgot that I left my crock-pot at my mom's, then I'll throw some frozen veggie spring rolls in the oven and make a peanut dipping sauce as a replacement.

As of late, I have been labeling our days of the week as follows: Mexican Monday, Oriental Tuesday, Twisted Wednesday, Authentic Thursday, TGIFriday, Special Saturday, Super Sunday.  The first two are pretty self-explanatory... except for Tuesdays.  Most of the time it ranges from Thai to Chinese, but sometimes it's fish with rice.  Either way, rice is always a Tuesday ingredient.  I'll describe the rest so they make sense, lest you're interested in copying me ;)  Feel free to, by the way.  Please.  I don't mind.  Promise.

Wednesday is our day for leftovers.  But instead of just pulling stuff out of the fridge and plopping it on the table, I try to reinvent it.  Let's say a couple of weeks ago I made pot roast for dinner.  Instead of sticking the leftovers in the fridge, I would cut up the meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. and throw it in a big ziplock baggie, along with the leftover gravy.  Then I would promptly stow it in the freezer.  Two weeks go by, and I pull that bag out and throw it in my stockpot and make a killer stew (whilst adding some colored water!).  Brilliant!  If I don't have any leftovers to twist, then we'll usually have breakfast for dinner.  Because, you know, that's twisted too...

Thursday is the day for fancy French food or comforting Italian food.  That's about all there is to it.  Usually involves pasta of some sort.

Friday is our classic American family food.  Burgers, casseroles, pigs-in-a-blanket, etc.  The week is over, the weekend is nigh and it's time to have a picnic either outside or in front of the TV watching a movie.  It's our fun day.

Saturday is our date night.  We usually treat ourselves to a meal out via coupon clipping.  Brad and I LOVE eating out, so we've allowed ourself one night a week.  Just us.  No kids and no cooking.  It's a special day.

Sunday we either spend time with family, friends or the hub prepares the meal.  I've also deemed meat absolutely acceptable that day.  Without complaints from moi.  You can guess how super Brad feels about that ;)

And there you have it!  My week in meal plan form.  I realize it's Tuesday, but I'll go ahead and share this week's plan.  You know, just for kicks and giggles.

Mexican Monday: burritos and watermelon
"Oriental" Tuesday: tortilla crusted tilapia (a la Costco, love much), broccoli, brown rice revolution
Twisted Wednesday: Watermelon, grilled corn on the cob, a salad of some kind(?)
Authentic Thursday: Ravioli Bisque (coming soon to a blog near you!)
TGIFriday: veggie burger for me, chicken burgers for the rest, side of spiced fries, watermelon smoothie
Special Saturday: Chipotle (free) vs. Rubio's (coupon) ...decisions, decisions...
Super Sunday: plans pending

FYI: I'll try and post any upcoming meal plans on Sunday.  Sound good?  I know, now I'm hungry too.  *B

colored water

I was talking with a friend, before I started back up with this blurg, and she suggested I throw in a tip here and there.  Sound like fun?  Heck yeah  :)  Quick, pop quiz!  What do you do with your veggie water?  Throw it away or use it?  The correct answer, my friend, is to use it.  Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed correctly.  Do it now.  We I'll wait...

Moving on!  Today's tip is brought to you by tonight's meal: tortilla crusted tilapia from Costco (truly amazing!), steamed broccoli (go green!), and brown rice revolution (recipe coming soon!).  So here I had some broccolified water, and instead of dumping it down the drain, I added it to my rice.  Awesomeness.

In case you haven't heard, vegetables are fantastic.  They're just so full of goodness!  Eating them raw is great, but some people do better with them slightly cooked.  A little bit of goodness is lost when we cook it...  If you use a micro, that goodness is gone for good.  But if you steam/boil your vegs, you can use that goodness found in the water you cooked them in/with!  Make sense?

Basically, use your cooking water.  Use it right away if you're already cooking (like I did), or pour it into a jar and stick it in the fridge for later.  It makes for a great addition to soups, smoothies, rice, bread, etc.  It's kinda magical... maybe I'm that sounds crazy, but just try it and then see how you feel about it!  *B

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a post to keep you posted

Just in case you were twiddling your thumbs, wondering if I were sitting on mine... I'm not!  And no, I have not gone back into hiding ;)  In the past, when this bloggity blog came into existence, I would post recipes willy-nilly.  Not so anymore.  Nowadays I only like to post fail-proof and taste-tested recipes.

I'll have you know, I cook like my mom.  For example, if I bring a pot of soup over to a potluck and everyone raves and HAS to have the recipe... well, chances are high I don't have one.  I don't measure; I just add and dump, mix and taste.  Repeat.  My cousin finds it infuriating.  So I'm trying to be better about coming up with actual recipes.  Recipes where you, and I, can (re)create with some sort of guarantee that it'll turn out.

Currently tweaking:
  • wannabe taco meat
  • ravioli bisque
  • various crepe fillings
  • after-school snack ideas
  • caramel apple crisp
  • pumpkin spice granola
Oh, and I've been taking pictures!  It's much more exciting/entertaining/alluring to see pictures of food on a food blog, don't you think?  I concur.  *B