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Become a Pomegranate Pro

1 Nov

Pomegranate season is upon us and this year I’m taking full advantage of it.

Last year I got enough nerve to buy and open up my own pomegranate.  It wasn’t fun and it definitely wasn’t pretty.  This year I was determined to change that because pomegranates seeds (arils) are delicious and along with my produce delivery I received 2 pomegranates and I am not one to waste good healthy foods.

I decided I wanted to learn how to open a pomegranate the right way which would also be the easy and less messy way.  I searched the internet and watched many videos, all demonstrating varying ways to de-seed a pomegranate.  I took a chance on a method of choice.

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How to de-seed a pomegranate

1. Take a knife and slice off the top near the stem, about a 1/4 inch deep.

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2. Slice into segments (like an orange).  For a small pomegranate I sliced it into 4 segments, but for a large you’ll want to slice into about 6-7 segments.  You should see where the membrane separates the segments, so follow those lines if you can.

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3. Fill a large bowl with cold water.  Place a segment in the bowl.

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4. Begin to break off the seed from the while membrane.  The seeds will fall to the bottom while the membrane floats at the to of the water.  Repeat until you’ve done this with all of the segments.

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5. Once you’ve de-seeded all the segments, remove as much of the floating membrane as possible.

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6. Pour into a strainer.

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7. Dish up.  Now you’re ready to eat them up!

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This method is so much better than my original way of prying the seeds out with my fingers after cutting the pomegranate in half.  Look at the small mess I had – not bad.

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I’ve enjoyed munching on these seeds on their own, in smoothies, with veggies and also in a simple fruit salad.

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Oh and you can’t forget about on op of custard oatmeal.

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How do you like to eat pomegranates?  Any de-seeding tips you’d like to share?  Please do!

Chinese Beef and Bok Choy Noodle Soup

30 Oct

Comfort.  That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of soup.  Thankfully I’m feeling 100% again, but while I feel great I passed my cold onto my husband.  On his worst days he just wanted soup for dinner. 

The first night I opened up a can of chicken noodle soup for him while I still had the dinner I originally planned to make.  The second night I thought I’d take advantage of his willingness to eat soup and make my own.

I had a lot of bok choy on hand from not 1 week, but 2 weeks of my produce delivery.  I’d been avoiding it because normally I use it in a stir fry and I just haven’t been in the mood for that.

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Then it hit me – put it in a soup.  I try to get as many veggies in as I can and I knew it would wilt down a lot once cooked.  I think this may be my new favorite way to eat bok choy.

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Chinese Beef and Bok Choy Noodle Soup

about 5-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (tip: after peeling the ginger keep it in the freezer in a zip lock bag that way you always have ginger on hand when you need it)
  • 3 cans (14.5 ounce each) low sodium chicken broth (homemade chicken broth would cut down on the sodium level here)
  • 2 bunches bok choy greens, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat add the oil, beef, onion and ginger.  Cook, stir and break up the meat until it’s just fully cooked –  no longer pink.  Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. Add the broth, bok choy, noodles, tarami and vinegar to the pot.  Bring to a boil and cook 8-10 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.  Add the beef mixture to the pot and sea salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Serve in a bowl garnished with sesame seeds and chop sticks if desired.

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Variations

  • Instead of beef use ground chicken or ground turkey
  • For extra heat add in some Sriracha hot sauce
  • Instead of spaghetti or angel hair use soba noodles for a more authentic Chinese dish

This was actually pretty fun to eat because I used chop sticks.  My chop stick skills definitely need more practice.  Good thing there are left overs.

Filling fall pancakes

25 Oct

Have you been following along with Wednesday’s mini workout challenge?  I’ve done quite a few pull ups since Wednesday morning, but do have to say I skipped out on it from Wednesday afternoon till Friday evening.  I was not feeling well and exercise needed to be taken down a notch. 

Luckily I’m better now and was able to do the mini workout challenge the rest of the weekend and the couple days this week.  I hope it’s going well for those that took on a mini challenge.

Just one more day to enter the GYMBOSS interval time giveaway.  The winner will be picked tomorrow morning.

Weekends mean I have more time for involved breakfasts.  I do make these pancakes throughout the week sometimes but usually a half batch because it’s quicker. 

I’ve posted pumpkin pie pancakes before, but this updated version is much better.

The ingredients are pretty similar but the outcome is very different.  Both are filling with the combo of cottage cheese and egg, whole grains and a winter squash or pumpkin.

They re-heat really well if you make extra.  I bet they would freeze well too if you wanted to make a huge batch for quick morning breakfasts.

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Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup pureed butternut squash (or pumpkin)
1/2-3/4 cup milk of choice (depending on how thick you like your pancakes batter)
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.  Pour in the wet mix from the blender and whisk until the large lumps are gone.

Pre-heat a large skillet to medium heat and coat with olive oil spray.  Pour the pancakes a 1/3 cup of batter at a time. 

Once the batter begins to bubble on top and is golden brown on the bottom on the bottom flip and cook on the other side for another 2-4 minutes until the both sides are golden brown.

Makes 12 pancakes (4 servings).

These pancakes are an easy way to sneak more veggies into your breakfast.  I bet kids wouldn’t even know there was a vegetable in there… I know my husband didn’t.  Winking smile

Color your diet

22 Oct

If you were to think about your daily eats, what color would they be?

Green filled with salad, spinach, broccoli or avocado?

Overflowing with orange sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oranges, carrots, apricot and mango?

Purple?  Blueberries or eggplant anyone?

Red tomatoes, beets, strawberries or cranberries?

White onions, mushrooms and pears?

Yellow bell peppers and corn?

Brown bread, rice or whole grains?

Or is there a lot of beige?  Processed foods lacking natural colors?

It can be easy to fall into the processed foods rut.  Even if you know vegetables are important for your health, it can still be challenging to make sure your diet is full of many colors. 

Did you know only 26% of adults in the US eat 3 or more vegetables a day? source 

The recommendation (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) is 9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day.  Sounds like a lot huh?  Let’s see how this can be done.

Note – I eat 5-6 times a day but smaller meals.  Eating this way keep my energy levels stable and also keeps me from eating and arm and a leg at each meal.  After trial and error I’ve found this works best for my body.

Breakfast: Egg white oatmeal with blueberries and almond butter

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Morning snack: Curry sweet potato round with cottage cheese dipper

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Lunch: Pasta salad with a pear or plum

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Afternoon snack: Spinach and artichoke hummus with bell peppers/cucumbers and a side of grapes or apple

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Dinner: Ruby red mixed veggie hash with crockpot Italian chicken

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Possible evening snack: A piece of dark chocolate, a chocolate peanut cluster or fruit

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Looks like there are a lot of colors throughout the day.  Win!

Tell me, what colors are in your diet?  Are you part of that 26% that eats 3 or more servings of vegetables a day?  Want to be?

Ruby red mixed veggie hash with crock pot italian chicken

21 Oct

I felt pretty crummy last night when I got home from work.  I’ve been battling a head cold since the weekend when I did my 15 intervals in the cold outdoors.  When  40 degree wind goes in my ears it just gets to me… I really should have worn a hat or headband.  Lesson learned.

Usually when I’m feeling sick all I want is carbs – oatmeal, PBJs and crackers.  Last night was different.  Last night I wanted veggies.  It was the perfect choice because my produce delivery came that day too.

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The night before I prepped the crock pot with a whole chicken seasoned with Italian spices, sea salt and pepper.  I also coated it with a mist of olive oil too.  I had the butcher remove the skin so that I wouldn’t have to.  It definitely saved me some time.

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In the morning Jacob pulled the chicken out of the oven, set the crock pot for 6 hours on low and I came home to a wonderful smelling house.

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The chicken was out of this world tender.  Falling off the bones good.

Next up were my veggies and a whole lot of them.

Ruby Red Mixed Veggie Hash

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Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yukon gold potato, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 small beet, grated
10 green bean, chopped
6 swiss chard leaves (or beet greens if that’s all you have), chopped – include the stems if you’d like
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the potatoes to the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often. 

Add in the onion and bell pepper once the potatoes look half way cooked through. 

After 2 minutes add the add the grated beets and beans. 

Cook for another 2-3 minutes then add the swiss chard. 

Season with sea salt and pepper and cook until the swiss chard has wilted down a bit, for about 3-4 minutes.

This makes enough for 2 sides or 1 large meal.

Top with some chicken, or whatever protein you have on hand.

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Finish with some grated parmesan cheese to make it extra special.

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I feel better already.

Mexican pasta bake

15 Oct

I came up with this recipe in the best way possible – trying to clean out my fridge. We had left over taco meat and what usually happens is taco salad, more burritos or taco omelets (mmm those are good!).

The day Mexican Pasta Bake came alive in my kitchen I had arrived home from work, tired and just wanting to lay on the couch with Jacob, Netflix and my silly cuddly animals.

Jacob was not taking the queue so I quickly threw this together and in the oven.  The result was so delicious that I’ve made it again without random leftovers.

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Mexican Pasta Bake

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb taco meat (1 lb ground beef cooked with 4 tbsp taco seasoning and a bit of water)
6 ounces whole wheat egg noodles
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 peppers (2 bell peppers and 1 anaheim), de-seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 peach, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup salsa (peach salsa works well in this)
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated (half in the mixture, half on top)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and coat a large casserole dish in olive oil spray.

Cook your pasta to al dente according to directions.  I like the egg noodles because they take about 5 minutes to cook – great for quick meals.

Once the pasta is done cooking combine everything in a large bowl (only half of the cheddar) and stir until the creamy yogurt and salsa is evenly distributed.

Pour into the prepared dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

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Bake for 30 minutes, until fully warmed through and the top becomes a bit crispy.

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Serve with your favorite taco toppings – avocado, salsa or sour cream/plain yogurt.

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The peach may seem like a strange addition to this but with the hotter anaheim pepper it compliments the dish well.  Leftovers are superb.

Requests for this dish come with open arms because it is so easy to make and the outcome is comforting and delicious.

How to make egg white oatmeal

13 Oct

In the morning when I wake up from dreaming about bed sets, I don’t like to feel like I’m already behind.  When I have more free time at home I try to plan ahead, prep and make my life a bit easier.  I did that with freezer meals not too long ago and it’s left me with more time to bake in the kitchen.   Mmmm snickerdoodle cookies.

I also try to prep my meals for the next day when I’m making dinner or cleaning up the kitchen.  It makes my morning so much less stressful and also leaves me with more time to workout, write, read, study or just relax.  A rushed morning is my enemy.

Sometimes I’ll prep breakfast too, like my warm quinoa or make extra pancakes to re-heat, but most of the time I like to cook a warm breakfast.

It doesn’t have to be tricky, but it does take longer than plopping a plate or bowl in the microwave.

Oatmeal with a whole egg or egg whites cooked in is something I really enjoy.  If you’ve never made egg white oatmeal before then today is your lucky day.  Check out how easy it actually is.  It really adds a ton of volume to your bowl of oats and gives you that fullness factor from the extra protein.

How to make egg white oatmeal

Begin by heating your water up to a boil (I use 1 cup water for 1/3 cup oats).  Add the oats with a pinch of sea salt, stir and reduce to about medium heat.

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Separate your egg whites (I’ll use 2 egg whites) into a bowl.

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Beat until fluffy with a fork.

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After about 8 minutes your oatmeal should look like this.  Still a bit watery, but the oats are softened up.

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Turn the heat down to low, slowly pour in the egg whites and stir a lot really quickly.

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Keep stirring until your oatmeal begins to get really creamy.  That’s when the eggs whites will be cooked thoroughly.  Add any spices, like cinnamon, that you want.

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Pour into a bowl at top with fresh fruit, nut butters, granola, seeds or whatever you like.

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While I was making this bowl I actually forgot to add cinnamon.  One bite in I grabbed it and stirred a ton in.  I just can’t live without it.

Do you like to make breakfast in the morning, or do you have something that you re-heat quickly or eat cold?