Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes And a Great Blog to Check Out

Adding more vegetables and healthy carbs instead of simple ones to my diet has been one of my biggest improvements.

Yes, today started with french toast made out of homemade Brioche bread with some egg and almond milk (I just had one slice with fruit but it WAS good)  It was Sunday and my skinny husband managed to eat several slices and a couple of  scrambled eggs.

So our mid-day meal was going to be light and healthy and dinner will simply be a salad with LOTS of veggies.

Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes. The recipe is from

which is my all time favorite go-to website for really easy healthy foods, many vegan and gluten free and all heavy on plants.

All you need is a can of chick peas (garbanzos), some spices to toss the beans and a little oil in,  four sweet potatoes, and a few simple ingredients (hummus, lemon juice, dillweed and garlic)  you likely have in your fridge for the cool and creamy sauce.  She also gives suggestions for toppings and sides and the recipe is really easy to follow.
As suggested, cutting them in half made them roast with the chickpeas in just a little more than half an hour, so it was less than an hour from start to table.

Served with a green salad on the side, my husband said "it's a keeper" and he didn't miss the meat with Sunday dinner at all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sometimes they just don't make enough Dynamite. . .

Well Folks - after two weeks that included my Dad being in the hospital again, a LONG commute and a lot of stress at work which was soothed by a deep dish pizza and a beer, I pretty much ate my way through the weekend, and found I'd gained two pounds this morning. I was tempted to blow up the scale.

Back on track tomorrow, to stay on top of maintenance, but for today, a video.  I was not present when this happened, but we had a vacation cottage just up the road and I DO remember it, and my friends at school talking about it.

Exploding whales - you can't make this stuff up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Company Chicken Made Lighter

A creamy dish that's good enough for company, made with low fat sour cream, it's high on flavor and low on fat.

Sour Cream Chicken 

6-8 pieces of free-range chicken (thighs and legs)
olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and core removed and finely chopped
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 large sweet onion chopped
a pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (about 3 pinches).
1/4  teaspoon dried marjoram
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon Jane's Crazy salt (or sea salt)
several grinds of cracked black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon low fat sour cream

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet until oil begins to shimmer on medium high heat. Cook chicken pieces 15 minutes, flip, salt with the Jane's Krazy Salt  and  cracked pepper and cook another 10 minutes until chicken is starting to brown (it will NOT be cooked through). Remove chicken from pan and set aside..  Drain all but a couple teaspoons of drippings.  Cook garlic, onion and peppers  in the drippings with a pinch of sugar until softened (about 3 minutes).

Add chicken pieces, pour chicken broth around and bring to a boil, covering and cooking on medium low (a gentle simmer) partially covered for 25-35 minutes until chicken is done (use a thermometer - the temperature of chicken should be 160 F. before removing to set aside covered with foil)  Remove chicken pieces  to a plate and cover,  turning heat to low and adding sour cream  to the liquid, stirring until blended and warmed, adding heat as necessary but not letting it get to a boil.

Serve chicken over rice with steamed green beans with some of the sauce, using a slotted spoon to get some of the pepper and onion bits, and an additional sprinkle of paprika and dried parsley.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chilly Outside - Low Fat Chili Stew with Flavor

Are you going to eat all of that?

A bowl of chili (and yes, I'm one of those "Damn Yankees" who puts beans in mine so I know it's not authentic chili, more like a stew) is good for a cold winter day.  But many recipes can have quite a bit of fat in them (cook the meat in bacon fat and then add lots of meat).

I made this recipe up today to use a lean cut of meat (or you can use the Gardein ground "beef" which is great), using lots of different sweet and savory spices and seasonings to give it a depth of flavor that's surprisingly good without the added fats. With the added veggies, you get some good quality protein without all the saturated fat and calories.  It may seem like it has a fair amount of sugar in it, from the secret ingredient - Ginger Ale, and a little honey but this makes an entire large crock pot full - so the per serving amount of sugar is about a gram for a small bowl
Ginger Chili Stew (named for those of you going "That's NOT chili!" and since my biological father was a Texan, I can say that with a grin).
In a pan saute a large onion chopped, in a teaspoon of  oil until softened and remove. Wipe oil form pan with a paper towel then cook up 2 pounds of ground turkey or venison (any lean cut) or  fat free veggie protein

In a crockpot add

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juice
2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 Tablespoon (1 and 1/2 teaspoons) Molasses
5 teaspoons minced garlic
1 can green chilies chopped
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Janes Krazy Salt (a lower sodium salt/herb blend found in a lot of grocers)
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper.

Stir and add onions and meat (drained of any fat in the pan)  Add 4-5 cups canned veggies, drained and rinsed. I used all beans as I was cycling through some by date from the prepping cupboard, but you could use beans, corn, hominy, or mixed veggies.

Stir in one 12 ounce can of ginger ale (NOT diet) and simmer on low a few hours.  Serve with a dollop of  fat free sour cream and a pinch of cheddar.
My husband said this was as good as the chili with the bacon and dark chocolate in it (that won several chili cook offs) but was a lot less "heavy".  So it's a winner!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Catch of the Day

I head (no pun intended) to the hair stylist about every four-five weeks as my hair grows beyond fast. Usually, though, the visit is after a 10 hour work day, the salon being open until 9 PM. I give my regular stylist a lot of credit.  My hair is baby fine, curly (I refer to it as "free range") and well, red. I was hoping it would turn that beautiful silver grey color like some of my gal friends hair did after we turned 50, but when my husband checked out my roots the other day he said

"Red - with two grey hairs - even your HAIR is stubborn".

So back to cutting and highlighting trying to hide the grey in with the highlights.  It's the hair stylist equivalent of  juggling knives.

I went in this week for a hair cut and some more of those "natural highlights" which involve a transfer of cash similar to ransom, and an hour and a half with enough foil on my head to attract a number of  conspiracy theory admirers.

I also went in without lunch or dinner due to the day I had at work.

I had a ladies magazine on my lap, while, with glasses off,  as the beautiful genius that does my hair,  finished up.

Did I mention that when I hit 50 I had to get "reading glasses"and anything a foot a way is a bit blurry?

There was a picture of soup in the magazine.  I started to get really hungry  It looked SO good and that bagel and apple and coffee at 6 a.m.were distant history. I think I drooled on the page. Someone mentioned that, looking perplexed when I said "I SO want a bowl of that."   I couldn't wait  until I was free of sculpting gel and a dryer to get home and make me some of that, the broth the succulent chicken,  some shrimp,while I curled up with a glass of expensive white wine and Bach.

Then I put my glasses on.
I'd been drooling over cat food. Friskies Fancy Feast no less.

After that,  I stopped  McDonald's for a Filet O Fish and the liquor store for bottle of white wine, just grabbing one from their "pick of the week" display as I was tired.   When I got home and tried to open it with the wine opener and I couldn't puncture the top I realized it was a twist off cap.

Filet O'Fish and McWine.

I learned my lesson about skipping meals. But maybe I should have just gone for the cat food.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hunger Games - Playing at a Freeway Rest Stop Near You

I guess there's times you're driving down the freeway, stomach empty and rumbling and you think. "Dang, a giant prepackaged lukewarm dill pickle with Ding Dongs would hit the spot right about now."

With a 500+  mile weekly commute for four years after I met and married my husband and awaited a transfer to a field office near home, I got a LOT of experience with road hunger.

I would suggest for road trips.

A bag of cut up raw veggies or fruit. (Celery with almond butter is easy to snarf when you are driving)
Roasted almonds with a bit of granola and a container of non dairy or yogurt of choice (do NOT eat while driving).
A protein shake in a thermos.
High protein/low sugar nutrition bar.
Turkey Jerky (if you are a meat eater try Perky Jerky - incredibly tasty and my husband loves it).
My favorite "gorp".  Lots of roasted non salted almonds, flaked dried coconut, dried cranberries and just a few mini dark chocolate chips.
A Sandwich with Cashew or Almond  Butter with Low Sugar Raspberry Preserves on Dave's Killer Bread.
Water - not soda.  Caffeine just makes you hit more rest stops and you don't need the sweeteners, natural OR artificial.

If it's going to be tossed out of a window at you because you are hungry you better be a seagull.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Accupunture - a Month Update

Did I pay the Comcast Bill? Did I make my order to Why are we out of white wine?

 I had a couple of readers ask about my experience with acupuncture.  My therapist focused on "stress". Let's just say I was totally skeptical as to its benefits.  Until I had an appointment.  Four weekly treatments in:

I sleep like a baby

My sugar cravings are seriously derailed.

No hot flashes.

I lost a pound more than what I usually lose with calorie reduction.

Totally mellow - yet mentally sharp.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Smoothie Taste Test

I've continued to have smoothies several times a week as a high protein snack or meal replacement with a piece of fruit.

I've tried several brands and for the price, this is my favorite by far in a Vegetarian Protein Powder which you've seen me use in a number of posts. The Vega powder is vegan, very low in sugars (and calories) while still packing in 20 grams of protein and lots of great amino acids. Those that visit here regularly know I'm not vegan, but I've made a conscious effort to consume MUCH less animal products than I used to, eating meat only a few meals a week, and only ethically raised, not factoryfarmed. It's a journey, but I feel much better and my skin is definitely clearer.

The Vega powder is great.  It also has some "greens" (powdered freeze dried healthy green vegetables) that bump up the nutrition without tasting like "eww, salad smoothie".

I've tried several versions including the "Protein and Greens", the "Smoothie" in a bag, and the "Sport" but there  was only one version I didn't care for and that was "Vega One" with added fiber, that was a bit  too gritty for my personal taste.

This one is perfect  - blending with sugar free almond milk into a thick, creamy shake, even without extra ice cubs.

And the taste - I got my husband (NOT a smoothie fan) to taste it and he said it was quite good, tasting like a thick old fashioned chocolate milk, without all the dairy and with WAY more protein.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Raspberry Lemonade Smoothie - Meal Replacement Perfection

I have a post coming up of my favorite protein powders in a few days, but today, is a recipe that blew me away, not just for taste but for how FULL I was.  I had this vegan smoothie in late afternoon as I'd had a light veggie soup lunch, figuring I'd have dinner in 2-3 hours..

But then dinnertime rolled around.

I wasn't hungry.  Not at all and it had been four hours since I finished this  less than 275 calorie smoothie.

The secret, I think, was using full fat, in the can, coconut milk, the kind you use in Thai cooking, instead of the watered down "coconut milk" you'd  pour on your cereal.  Still 1/3 can was only 50 calories and less than 5 grams of saturated fat (and the good kind).  Sounds exotic?  I found it at the local Village Polish grocers, and the generic store brand no less (found in the oriental food item section with the chow main noodles).

Raspberry Lemonade Smoothie
In a blender, layer as follows.

1/3 can coconut milk (keep cool and dry but do not refrigerate, otherwise the coconut cream will solidify on top).
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 scoop Vega brand Berry Protein and Greens Protein Powder
5 ice cubes
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup pink grapefruit sections (yes, for the time sensitive, they do make jarred ones).
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup.

Blend well and serve.  Makes one very large, yummy glass.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Enchiladas Lightened Up

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food. Unfortunately, much of it is chock full of fat and salt.  How to make a dish that's lower in both and still tasty?  Chicken breast and a spicy, no salt sauce with veggies on the side instead of refried beans and rice.

You will need:
3 cups of chopped cook chicken breast (or cooked veggie protein source such as tofu or "chicken" strips)
lime juice
quesadilla cheese (or use low fat cheddar/jack)
a jar of green taco sauce (or can or enchilada sauce).

Preheat oven to 400 F and spray an 11 x 7 pan with non stick spray (or place an additional 1/2 cup taco sauce in the bottom if you have enough).

In a small bowl mix:
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 good pinches of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's roasted garlic powder (or a small spoonful of minced garlic).
a dash of white  pepper

Toss cooked chicken or protein source in mixture and stir until coated with the sauce
Get out 9 corn tortillas, warm them first wrapped in a moist towel in the microwave for a minute or in a pan.  If you try to roll up cold store bought ones they often split. (Note  - leftover tortillas are great torn up in a veggie/egg scramble).

In each tortilla -  place  1/3 cup of the chicken mixture, When enchiladas are all rolled up -  top with the bottle of the green taco sauce, or use a 10 ounce can of green enchilada sauce. Sprinkle the top with one cup  of Quesadilla cheese (often found with the tortillas that are in the refrigerated section of the supermarket).

Bake 20-25 minutes - until heated through and the cheese melted.

Serve topped with Rotel and/or some  non fat sour cream. Each enchilada is just under 300 calories. My husband ate two, but one with veggies on the side was plenty filling for me.  With my other meals being a smoothie w/fruit and low sodium, homemade  soup with a piece of whole grain bread (and a glass of wine,)  I was still well under 1500 calories for the day and had leftovers for another meal with my husband.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

DIY Pancake Mix - With Regular and Vegan Recipe alternatives

Want big fluffy  fat free pancakes on the weekend but don't want to make them from scratch?   Sure there are mixes, but they contain Trans fat raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol -- not good for your heart's health period. If you make the vegan version of these, they are totally fat free. Even the version with egg and milk  has no trans fats.

Just find a big glass jar (such as old pickle jar) or container that has a very tight seal and mix up the following.  You'll have pancake mix for Saturdays for the next 3 months.  It's a very moist and fluffy pancakes that does not need a lot of syrup to taste great.  Makes 10- 12 pancakes medium sized pancakes.

Pancake Mix

12 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup baking powder (check the date, if close to expiring, get a new one for this mix)
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

When ready to prepare, mix:

1 cup mix
1 cup fat free Kefir (cultured milk found in the yogurt section) or 1  cup buttermilk*
1 egg
drop or two of vanilla

I will admit I sometimes add a Tablespoon of melted butter or non dairy spread to the liquids, but they are perfectly fine without the added fat.

 If you want to make a vegan version, replace dairy with almond or coconut milk and use 1/2 of a ripe (starting to turn brown) banana  that's well mashed in place of the egg and serve with fruit.

Cook on the griddle and serve with your favorite sides.  Pictured is Applegate Farms chicken and sage all natural sausage cooked in a little maple syrup (found at health food stores and finer grocers)

Note:  This batter is quite "fluffy" so don't make big plate sized pancakes or they will be beyond cantankerous to flip. I made little ones and they were really easy to cook and turn.

*you can make your own "buttermilk" by replacing a Tablespoon of milk from a cup of milk with lemon juice and letting it sit five minutes

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kitchen MacGyver

Egg whites are good for a lot of things -
lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators.
- MacGyver

I will only concur on the pie and Angel Food Cake. I'm sure you've all had angel food cake from the grocery.  Most of it tastes like Styrofoam.  Making one from scratch isn't the easiest thing to make, but  if you wear your special MacGyver pants for cooking,  it helps, as do detailed instructions.  Plus it's one of the lower fat, lower calorie baked goods out there.

That being said, some baked items can take a little practice.  Should your spouse or friend be kind enough to attempt this recipe, remember, like with handymen, there are certain things one should NOT say while your loved ones attempts such things. 

Phrases to avoid saying to either a handyman OR chef.

Is this all you've done all day?
What exactly IS that?
Isn't the top supposed to be level?
How much did you spend on THIS?
I'll get the broom and the dustbin.
Am I holding it the right way?
What's that little thing sticking out of the top.
Maybe we should check our homeowners policy before we try it

And the worst?

Insert an ex's name here 's never looked like that!

Even a lopsided angel food cake is good (but make sure you grease the pan well so the batter can climb up the sides and cook evenly).  If it's not perfect (or even if it is) it makes a dandy low fat, fairly decent low in calories dessert.

This recipe (not mine) is easy and makes one loaf, perfect for when you don't want a ton of cake lying around but want something for dinner or guests.
Top some cubes of this cake fresh from the oven with strawberries, a little vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of honey and serve in a Champagne glasses.  Your guests won't care about how long it took, the mess you made of the counter or whether there is flour all over the seat of your MacGyver britches.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Which "less than 350" calories would YOU rather have?


Asian Drumsticks. (serves 4)

I thought so. The sauce is thick and rich tasting and free of any synthetic fats or oils.

Asian sauce

1/3 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons minced jarred garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder (I use Penzey's)

Mix and set aside.

In a Tablespoon or two of olive oil brown 8 free-range chicken drumsticks in a pan on medium high heat for 8- 10 minutes per side, until lightly brown. Remove from pan and pour off any oil or dripping and wipe down pan with a paper towel. Add chicken back to pan, pour sauce over top and cook on a low/medium simmer, covered, until chicken is 165 degrees F, internally (for these pieces, fresh from the local butcher, it was 8 minutes in the pan per side, then 45 minutes on a low simmer).

Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. To the sauce add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons of water. Raise temperature to a boil and whisk until sauce is thickened. Pour over chicken and serve.

Serve with 1/2 cup rice, additional crushed pepper and green onion as garnish (optional) and some salad drizzled with rice vinegar or lemon juice. My husband gave it a "two thumbs up" and asked me to make it again.

Serving as shown - less than 350 calories.