A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “diet

You Won’t Eat this and Think about Cabbage…or Money

Eureka! I have found a recipe that is brimming with health benefits for mere pocket change. Cabbage casserole, how did I never come across such a delicious AND nutritious casserole??  In one of my late night Pinterest “How to Install a Natural Water Feature” moments I made one more click to a recipe off on the sidelines.  I saw a beautiful, colorful, 7 ingredient recipe of pure healthy genius; an I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-the-fridge-and-pantry meal serving up to six.  Click! and my life changed.

I don’t remember the pin. I had to go to bed because the recipes can easily turn me into a wee-hour Pinterest zombie.  This is what I remember and it worked out fine…so fine:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep heavy pot
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 head of large red cabbage sliced in thin strips (you will want to make it again with the other half at the end of the week)
  • 1/2 bunch collard greens (about 5 leaves stemmed and sliced chiffonade style
  • 1 Tsp Steak seasoning plus a couple of pinches
  • 6 oz hand shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 100_1776Preheat oven to 375°. Dice your onion, slice the cabbage and chiffonade the greens and keep them in separate piles. Heat the oil until it shimmers on the bottom of the pot.  Add your onion and cook on high heat until they are clear and beginning to brown. Brown the ground beef with a teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Add the piles of cabbage and greens and simmer until the mixture softens down to about a third its volume.  Give it a good stir.

Empty the pot into  a 9″x 9″ casserole dish and spread it evenly.  Top with your pepper cheese and sprinkle a pinch or two of the steak seasoning around on top sprinkle a little Parmesan to brown the top nicely, then bake for 20 minutes.

It’s fast, it’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s delicious it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, it’s delicious!


Fried Rice With Beef

100_8589I love eating Chinese food but it’s not the friendliest food when you want to save on calories.  Fried rice is often very fattening and usually contains head ache inducing MSG, but I’ve come up with a flavorful way to make fried rice that is MSG free and contains only two tablespoons of butter per pot, instead of enough grease to float The Queen Mary.  I use the following ingredients:

  • a pot of just about cooked rice (four or five cups when fully prepared)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • a couple of Spring onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • one medium carrot sliced thinly using the carrot peeler (yes, that thin)
  • a couple of ribs of bok choy roughly chopped
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 2/3 cup cooked/smoked/even barbequed beef or pork rib meat in small dice
  • a few dashes of black pepper and garlic powder or a fresh clove of minced garlic

100_8593In the pot of very hot, nearly cooked rice, add the onions and soy sauce.  These ingredients will seep into the rice and really 100_8594deepen the flavor as it finishes cooking.  Stir it in and keep the lid on while 100_8599you saute the vegetables in the butter or olive oil in a small non-stick skillet.  With one tablespoon of butter or oil, cook the carrot slices until they are tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Scoot them off into the rice, onion, and soy sauce mixture and stir and again cover.  With the remaining butter or oil, cook the bok choy greens with their snappy peppery taste in that same skillet until they are nicely wilted but the chopped up pieces of stem are still firm.   Crack an egg right into the bok choy season with the pepper and garlic, and stir it vigorously until it is well scrambled and cooked throughout. Toss this too into the pot of rice and onion, stir everything together.

100_8604When ever the rice is done, shut off the heat and keep covered.  After cutting the meat away from the rib bone, cut it into 100_8609tiny dice and stir it into the pot  as well.  As the rice and all its layers of flavor warm the meat, the smokey taste comes out of the meat and gives this dish a balance of flavor that really satisfies.

The best thing is that this meal  for three or four costs mere pennies!  Rice is about the cheapest food out there. The ribs were left over from an event where my husband works and with a few stray vegetables rolling around in the crisper that might be forgotten until they need to be thrown out, a hunk or two of butter, and an egg from our neighbor worth a few clucks… that’s pretty much all there is to this meal, but the fewer calories without sacrificing taste part, is what really turns this diva on!


To Cheat Or Not To Cheat

I say Don’t do it!  You’ve got it so good!  You’ll only live to regret it.  Don’t eat that luscious raspberry banana ice cream!  …Wait a minute…it’s made with only bananas and raspberries…  That is to say, it’s made totally from fruit?

The clouds clear.  Angels sweep across the sky.  An ethereal voice booms out, “You’ve been good my child.”

That is the dream I had while tasting this yummy frozen smoothie.  If you have a freezer and a food processor, you can make this yummy treat that looks just like home made ice cream and tastes just like Heaven.

Firstly, freeze two bananas peeled and chopped into chunks (a banana with a few brown speckles on the skin is ideal).  The raspberries are also frozen.  I purchase them by the bag but you could freeze fresh ones as well.

With a cup of berries and the banana chunks, just whirl them in the processor for a several minutes (you might need to scrape the sides a few times) until it becomes the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  You may also put it in a plastic container, freeze it again, and it will be a scoopable mixture you could put in a cone.  You could also use frozen strawberries.

Finally, a truly guilt free dessert that really tastes and melts in your mouth like something Ben and Jerry would invent.

As long as I have a freezer full of fruit I will be able to resist the temptation to cheat while trying to reduce.  I have my daughter Bonnie to thank for turning me on to this yummy frozen treat idea.

What Does One Do With Forty Tomatoes?

Five words will answer that question…Make a pot of sauce!  Actually, I have many more than forty tomatoes, but making sauce is a start to managing such a wealth.  I’ve been learning how to can and preserve recently and I find that tomatoes are the easiest thing to put up in the Mason jars.  No pressure canner is needed, just the water bath method will be enough to kill off any bacteria.

My friend Gayle planted 150 plants and is having an incredible crop this year.  Almost every surface in her kitchen and dining is covered in tomatoes.  She’s got a lot to manage as well.  Part of her management scheme has been giving me the tomatoes that need immediate attention.  Lucky me!

I started by blanching, coring, and peeling the tomatoes just like in the previous post.  To make tomato sauce though, I needed some other flavors. This sauce was made with the following:

  • 40 ripe tomatoes, blanched, cored, and peeled
  • 2 ribs of celery sliced thinly
  • 2 carrots also sliced thinly
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cans (6oz. cans) of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salt (I salt on the low side)
  • a dash or two each of cayenne pepper and black pepper

I put all of the tomatoes in a big stock pot, and in a skillet with a good coating of extra virgin olive oil, I cooked down the aromatic vegetables.  I added the garlic, a bit of salt, then tipped it all into the pot that was getting pretty steamy by this time.  Everything continued to cook as I stirred the pot every so often smashing the tomatoes as I went.  I even ran the electric mixer through it to further crush the tomatoes.  After  about an hour and a half of simmering, I added the fresh herbs and dry herbs (not yet with the bay leaf) then I added the two cans of tomato paste.  It really started to smell good!

After another half hour of simmering, I turned off the flame and used a big 6 cup measuring cup to scoop out the sauce into batches and run each scoop through the blender to further puree the tomatoes.  I dumped the now pureed tomatoes into a large bowl.  When I transferred the last scoop of tomatoes to the blender, I poured everything from the bowl and blender back into the stock pot on the stove, added the bay leaves, salt, and sugar, then cranked up the heat to high.  Since tomatoes vary in size, this is the time to check the taste and make adjustments to the salt, sugar or spices.

To insure being bacteria free, I brought this smooth and lovely sauce to a good boil and checked that it read 210° on an instant read thermometer for at least 5 minutes.  I carefully poured the sauce into sterilized quart jars, wiped the rims, and placed sanitized lids and bands on each one.  I got exactly 4 quarts out of this batch, but I really had to scrape down the stock pot to do it…otherwise I would have had to make a batch of spaghetti to go with it at 9:30pm.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to do that!  I’m still saving myself for after that physical examination to eat pasta again.  Anyway, with the lids on and another pot of boiling water waiting, I further heated the jars in the water another 10 minutes just to be sure of sterilization.  Out of the water bath and on the counter I heard the lids pop one by one as they cooled.  The news was just starting when everything was finally cleaned up again.

This was a lengthy process that took about five hours total but I assure you when something is made with this much love. it’s got to be good!



A Rubenesque Sandwich

Since writing a food blog I’ve run the risk of becoming a bit reubenesque myself.  But I don’t want to look like the subject of Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ work.  We will soon be “renewing our vows” with the life insurance company and since June, long walks, and leaner meals have become a necessary habit.  I’ve had a measure of success getting my weight down to the prime rate zone by cutting waaaay down on sugar and bread.  When I do eat bread it is whole wheat and only after a really hearty work out.  Now after  today’s  5 mile power walk, I decided I want my favorite sandwich of all …a tangy, cheesy, meaty Reuben

I still wanted to stay in the 500 calorie per meal place so this reuben sandwich would require some adjustments.  Instead of two slices of marble rye grilled with butter, I used a whole wheat bun of 60 calories.  I then sprayed a skillet with canola oil spray, toasted the bun, and browned off the meat.  I used deli thin ham that I had on hand, but you could definitely use turkey, ham.  Red meats like the traditional pastrami have more calories but this ham had only 70 calories per serving.  A slice of swiss cheese is only 60 cal/ serving and I found fat free Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut combined to finish it off adding only another 25 calories.  So the total of calories for this very tasty sandwich came to only 215!  That’s so good that I could afford to have another one plus a garden fresh sliced tomato on the side.

My sandwich craving has been completely satisfied with this reubenesque version, and my figure will continue to become less reubenesque as a result…The Three Graces would have loved this.  (credit goes to wikipedia for this lovely picture)

Fried Egg Blossoms

Being on a diet doesn’t mean food must be bland and boring.  I feel much more satisfied by a meal that has a spicier kick to it and is loaded with pleasing colors.  The thing that makes me happiest about this breakfast is that it is only about 375 calories and will leave you much more nourished than a dinky bowl of cereal.  Besides this was really fun to make and even more fun to eat.

Roll over the photos for details on how to make these yummy egg blossoms.

Veggies Are Great, But Lemon Meringue Pie Is Too

Besides refusing to eat fast food any more, I’ve been cutting out the bread things in my life recently.  I thought I would miss my beloved bread …and there is still a place for it in my life …but not as much or as often.  I find that when I do without carbs all together, I don’t feel as hung up on what to eat to fill me up.  I’m not even really so hungry ever, that I can’t wait until dinner to eat something.  Doing without bread and sweets has been easy with such a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available in summer.  I crave these things all winter so we’ll see how my style of diet changes from now.

With being so busy (the one with the truck moves the most stuff) and eating way less but of better food, I’ve lost about 12 pounds since mid June without much effort.  Staying busy is the key for me.  If I’m not too busy I gravitate towards the kitchen, so I’ve made the outdoors the place to be and have tons of stuff growing, only a little of which is food.  Keeping things from parching in the high temps we’ve had lately can be an acrobatic event, hosing and sprinkling all around the house.  One day it reached 108° and I think I sweat about 10 pounds off just by watering all of the garden beds.

When it’s so hot who wants to cook?  I’d rather not heat up the  house and the grill has become my best new friend.  Anything that you can cook inside can be made more robust when grilled outside…anything from apricots to zucchini.  I’ve been pairing grilled and fresh foods a lot recently and keeping meals so simple gives us more of this long daylight to play.  Walking, biking, and hanging out with the kid at our local playground have been easier too.  Picnics are so memorable for us…it’s not the grill chicken sandwich I packed, it’s the green grass, big sky with happy puffy clouds, an interesting bird flower or bug that we’ll look up later, and a breeze in the shade at our picnic table.  When it’s too hot to go to the park we have snacks like these:

Salads have made quite a comeback in our house these days also.  I find that if I wash and prep a head each of romaine and iceberg and store it in a two gallon zip-top bag, it is so easy to grab a hunk of lettuce, throw it on a plate, dress it up a bit, and be on our merry way. We’ve been saving tons of money eating this way too!

It’s nice to eat so well for a while but sooner or later an event comes up that deserves a special treat.  We went to a going away party for a friend last night and I was asked to bring a dessert.  A cool lemon meringue pie was my dessert of choice and apparently it worked out nicely.

Here is a recipe from the 1976 version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook that was what I used in this pie.  For the custard put the sugar and starch in a saucepan, slowly add the water and heat to a boil stirring constantly.  Add a small amount of the sugar mixture to the bowl of egg yolks and stir quickly.  Add a little more and stir again.  Then add the yolk mixture to the sugar mixture with the lemon juice, zest, and butter and stir constantly until thick.  Pour it into your baked shell then begin work on the meringue.

I hope you try it for some summery soiree. It’ll surely be a hit!