I’m Thankful for Many Things…Including Grown Up Mac n’ Cheese

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving dear readers! I’ve been absent from the blog for a long time, and I figure that Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to foray back into the blogging world – mostly because it’s Sunday evening, … Continue reading

Southwest Chicken Salad

This was dinner last night and lunch today – delightful, filling, and good for you too!

mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

You Need:

2 BBQ Chicken Breasts
2 cobs of corn
1 can of black beans
2 Avocados
1 lime
Lettuce and/or spinach
Salsa
Whatever else you might want to toss into your salad…

 

I BBQ my chicken and corn at the same time.  I always put the corn on the bottom rack of the BBQ, husk and all (just be sure to soak it in water for 20 minutes + before hand!), and then use some salt-free Club House Chicken spice and a bit of BBQ sauce for the chicken.  Meanwhile, I clean my lettuce, spinach, lime and avocado in some Purslane Veggie wash, and then open a can of black beans.  Anything canned is usually pretty high in sodium, so I always rinse my beans thoroughly and this lowers the sodium content dramatically.

When the corn and chicken are done, I husk the corn and slice it off the cob, and then dice up the chicken breast into bite size chunks.  I put these onto a bed of lettuce and spinach, then top with the black beans and cut up pieces of avocado.  I then squeeze the juice from the lime on top, and scoop on a couple of dollops of salsa.  Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

As I said earlier, this made for two pretty substantial meals for me.  If you’re planning to eat twice (as I did), I would keep your ingredients separate, and then cut up the avocado just before serving the second time.  I heated the chicken and corn in the microwave before putting into my salad today.  It was still fabulous the second time around!

Uh-May-Zing Quinoa Porridge

I had some leftover Quinoa after last night’s dinner, and, thanks to some inspiration from Rene Johnson of Shanti Yoga Studio, I decided to try making porridge with it.  Am I ever glad that I did, because HolyMotherOfGod it was delicious!

This is how I made the nutty flavoured goodness:

Step 1:  I put the leftover cooked Quinoa into a saucepan; I’d say it was about 2 cups-ish.

Step 2: I added enough almond milk to cover the Quinoa. This kind of seemed like too much, and I started to second guess myself…but the milk cooked down nicely and it turned out to be a perfect amount!

I use unsweetened almond milk

Step 3: I added in some other ingredients – 2tblsp of Agave Nectar, 1 full scoop of Mila cut Chia Seed, 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract (wish I had the natural stuff, but no luck today!), and a bunch of shakes of Cinnamon (I REALLY like my Cinnamon!).

Step 4: I cooked the whole mixture over medium heat, stirring OFTEN, until it came to a rolling boil and the almond milk was cooked down. It had a thick and creamy consistency at the end.

Step 5: I added fresh strawberries and blueberries, then enjoyed a DELICIOUS and NUTRITIOUS breakfast – yummy!

So why Quinoa instead of oatmeal, you ask?  Well, for starters, I had some left over from last night’s dinner, and sometimes I just like to try new things.  Secondly, though, Quinoa is so super good for you; it is full of protein and many other nutrients, it’s gluten-free, and it’s high in fiber.  You can read more about the health benefits of Quinoa here.  If you haven’t jumped on the Quinoa bandwagon yet, you should definitely give it a try!

Yummy Chicken Stirfry with Quinoa

I just finished eating a delicious chicken stir fry, and I’m checking out some of my favourite blogs online already, so I thought I’d tell you about my dinner while I’m here.  I even made it from scratch…well, except for the sauce – a busy girl sometimes has to cut corners!

I started by dicing up 1 1/2 large chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes and tossing that into my wok with a bit of olive oil, some Mrs. Dash spice, and a little bit of Mila Power Seed (a great brand of Chia).  While the chicken was cooking, I cut up some broccoli, red, yellow, and orange peppers, red onion and mushrooms – I tossed those into the wok once the chicken was no longer pink.  I also threw in some sugar snap peas and then grated some fresh ginger to stir in.  I usually put in a bit of finely chopped jalapeno or habanero pepper, but I didn’t have any on hand tonight…probably a good thing, since the stir-fry sauce I used this time already has a bit of a kick.

Ours came with a veggie steamer tray too, but my husband melted that on the stove top a while back, so now it’s just a rice cooker.

Meanwhile, I put some quinoa in my rice cooker.  If you eat a lot of rice or quinoa and do not yet have a rice cooker, you should run and get one right now.  Seriously – why are you still reading?  Get one NOW!  It is a kitchen staple, I swear to God.  You just put in your quinoa and your water and then push a button…then leave that shit alone.  It’s glorious.  I had quite a bit of stirfry and quinoa left over (there is only one person eating in this house right now, remember?).  I often eat the stirfry alone without any rice or quinoa, so I think I’ll do that tomorrow and try something different with the leftover quinoa…a little something I picked up from the lovely Rene Johnson at Yoga Teacher Training.  I have no idea if it will work out or not, but I guess you’ll have to read the follow up blog post to find out!

When the chicken and veggies were all stir-fry-a-licious, I poured on some VH brand General Tao stir-fry sauce – about 1/3 of the bottle.  One day I plan to make my own stir-fry sauce, but it’s far more efficient for me to buy it at this point in my life, so that’s just the way it’s gotta be.  Store bought stir-fry sauce is reeeediculously high in sodium (this stuff is 690ml for 100ml – a little less than what I used tonight), but VH brand is a lot better than most in my grocery store, so I refuse to feel guilty about it.

This is the final product.  Absolutely friggin delightful!  Yes, that’s a glass of Pinot Grigio in the background.  Yes, my husband is still away and I am home all by myself.  Yes, I’m drinking wine alone.  Stop judging me…I’m only human!

Apple Zinger Green Smoothie

One of my favourite ways to get in a few servings of fruit and veggies; it’s so delicious that it tastes like a treat!

Basic Ingredients

What you need:

2 apples
2 carrots
a chunk of ginger
2+ large handfuls of spinach
water (I used about 1/2 a litre)
a blender
I start by chopping up the carrots into bite-size chunks and tossing them into the blender with some water.  Blend until the carrots are pureed, then add in pieces of apple (skin too!) and some grated ginger. I LOVE me some ginger, so I use quite a bit (it’s what gives the smoothie its zing), but it can be overpowering for some people, so use it with caution.

I use the Pampered Chef Apple Slicer/Corer and a hand grater for the ginger.

Depending on your tastes, you might want to change up the quantity of some of your ingredients.  For example, if you like your smoothies a bit sweeter, you might want to use 3 apples instead of 2 – totally up to you!  Lastly, I add in my spinach.  I frequently have to push it down with a spoon, or it just sits on the top of the blender and doesn’t get mixed in with the rest of the smoothie.  Usually spinach is the only green I add in, but I was almost out tonight, and I wanted to make sure that I got my veggies in, so I added some Kale into the blender as well.

Smoothie and tuna for dinner

For some reason I wasn’t super hungry tonight, which is kind of odd, since I did TWO different workouts after work.  Weird.  Anyway, I decided that my smoothie would be enough to hit the spot, but I’m smart enough to know that after two workouts (and with an early morning circuit class to teach tomorrow), that I need to give myself a bit of protein, too.  I’m not normally a big fan of tuna, but it is a pretty nutritional choice, and it was a quick and easy option for me.  In order to make a can of tuna palatable, I usually mix it up with mustard and some fresh or frozen dill…that makes it almost yummy!

My old blender. See how orange the mixture is? That’s why I added the Kale…I needed to get my green on!

I’m finding that I am using my blender more and more, and as I wrote in a previous post, my blender is pretty old.  I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the Vitamix lately, and I am most definitely interested…but I’m not sure I feel comfortable paying over $500 for a blender.  I know that a Vitamix is capable of doing much more than just blending, but I’m not really sure I will ever use it for anything else.  Do you have a Vitamix?  Is it worth the hefty price tag? 

Mixed Berry Smoothie

There are grapes in with the bowl of strawberries; I did not put these in my smoothie, though I'm sure it would still be tasty if I had!

This is what I put into my smoothie yesterday:Okay, it wasn’t actually those particular pieces of food that went into the blender – I didn’t even think to take a picture until after I’d already blended and poured into my smoothie cup.  When I’m hungry I am usually thinking about eating the food rather than taking pictures of it…but I’m getting better and usually remember to snap a picture before I scarf down all the food.  Except for today at lunch.  I forgot to take a picture of my omelette until there were literally only two bites left.  I decided to forgo the picture because it seemed a little pointless…sort of like the rambling that I just realized I’m doing now.

Back to the smoothie.  I love smoothies and I make them a lot.  Like, I drink one six days a week, and on day seven I’m a little sad that I’m not drinking a smoothie and I wish that I had made one before leaving the house, a lot.  This mixed berry one is my favourite and I’d say it’s the one I make the most often.

This is a 16oz/470ml smoothie cup from Tupperware. Notice how the orange colour matches my new Lulu Run: In the Rain Jacket? I did not do that on purpose, I swear!

Ingredients:

strawberries – I slice the green bits off and then cut the big ones in half to make it a little easier on my blender; I probably don’t need to do this, but my blender is old* and I really don’t want to have to buy a new one anytime soon (those babies are expensive!)
blueberries
raspberries
blackberries
a big handful of spinach
I throw all of these ingredients in the blender until it is pretty much full up to the top, then I pour in some unsweetened almond milk, add a scoop of Mila*, and blend it all together.

What was left in the blender after I filled up my smoothie cup

Filling the blender right to the top before blending usually gets me two days worth of smoothie.  I could stretch it to three servings, but I’d feel like I was cheating myself out of fruity goodness, and who wants to do that?  If I really need to have three days worth of smoothie prepared in advance, I will blend to reduce volume, and then add in more fruit and blend again.  I don’t do this three-day prep very often, though, because by day three the mixture has a darker, greyish tinge, and it’s starting to be less than optimally fresh – sort of bitter, if you will.  Two days’ worth is perfect, though – I just pop the top back on the blender, and stick the jug into the fridge overnight.  I give it a super quick blend before pouring on the second morning, just to mix it up and keep it smooth and even.  Quick, healthy and delicious!

*When I say my blender is old, I mean old.  I have had this blender since the very first time a boy lived with me (my first year of University – 2000).  His mother gave it to us, and she had already owned it for a very long time (for some reason I think she actually got it as a wedding gift, or something like that).  Things didn’t work out really well with the boy, and when we split up he didn’t take the blender, so I’ve still got it.  She is a really nice lady, and sometimes I think about her when I make smoothies.  So if for some crazy – strange things are happening in the universe – reason you are reading this, thank you Lila Kinaschuk for the blender 🙂
*Mila is a great product – Chia seed – and I put it in a lot of things, including my daily smoothie.  It deserves some more attention, so I plan to write a whole post about it soon!

Eat and Tell: Some of the Meals I’ve Been Eating Lately

Two posts in two days…apparently it’s the weekend and I actually have a teensy bit of time for writing to you!  On that note, I feel like I have taken pictures of food lately, but then not had any time to write about my meals…so I thought I’d roll a few posts into one.

Sesame Fish:
Tilapia
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp rice vinegar
2 tblsp lite/low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp chopped garlic (I use 3 or 4 cloves)
2 tblsp sesame seeds
Spray broiler pan w/ olive oil cooking spray and place Tilapia.  Whisk together liquid ingredients and garlic, then pour over fish.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and broil at medium heat for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
I made this for dinner when Rob was still here, and he left for work up North on Monday morning…so I’m guessing this was dinner on Sunday.  The Sesame Fish recipe is straight out of the 17 Day Diet book, and it’s one of our favourites.  Healthy, quick, easy and delicious – what’s not to love?  As you can see in the picture, we ate this with steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower that had been sprinkled with a bit of Mrs. Dash and some KRAFT light 4 Cheese Italiano, accompanied by a tossed salad and a mug of green tea.  Delightful meal – super filling and perfect for next day leftovers!
Fajita Soup:
In a large soup pot sprayed with olive oil, saute:
Coarsely chopped onion
Chopped red, yellow & orange peppers
Finely chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds too!)

Sprinkle in a packet of low sodium fajita seasoning and stir, then add:

Baked chicken breast (I use whatever I have on hand – this time it was about 4 large breasts that I had sprinkled with Mrs. Dash, cooked, chopped and frozen last week)
Broth (I go for low sodium or no salt added whenever possible; this time I used 3 tetra packs of chicken and 2 of veggie)
796 ml can of no salt added diced tomatoes
540 ml can of Aylmer Spicy Red Pepper tomatoes
127 ml can of chopped green chilies
540 ml can of black beans (rinse these first to get rid of the goopy sauce and a LOT of unnecessary sodium!)

I let the soup simmer for a while (usually 1/2 hour or longer) and give it a little stir occasionally.

I usually make a giant pot of this soup so that I can freeze a few containers for quick meals when I’m rushed; it is one of my all time favourites!

Turkey Taco Salad:
Spray a large frying pan with olive oil and add ground turkey breast (I use 2 packages of Lilydale that come as a combo pack at Costco – I’m not exactly sure how much that is).  Fry, stirring occasionally, until browned fully.
Add a packet of low sodium taco seasoning mix and about 1/2 cup of water and stir.

While turkey is browning, wash, dry, and chop your salad veggies.  I use green leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, celery, cucumber, red onion and Roma tomatoes, but you can feel free to add whatever salad ingredients your little heart desires!

Add salad to a large bowl and top liberally with turkey, then sprinkle a bit of Light 4 Cheese Italiano (occasionally I leave out the cheese), and finally add a few spoonfuls of your favourite salsa.  Mix it all together and enjoy!

This was last night’s dinner (I actually ate TWO bowls of salad), and as you can see, I enjoyed it with a large green tea from Timmie’s.  Although I’ve won 7 free coffees (which I always sub with green tea), I was not so lucky last night.  I’ve been picking up the tab of the vehicle in line behind me pretty regularly, so I’m hoping good karma comes my way and I win a vehicle before Roll Up the Rim is over…positive thinking, right?!