Monday, August 31, 2009

Try it, you'll like it - maybe

Tonight for dinner it was just me so I decided to heat up this chicken-less cutlet that I had picked up at Trader Joe's. I had gotten them (there are 2 cutlets in a package) for one of my vegetarian daughters who had visited last week; she ate one and said it was pretty good, and I was looking forward to trying one of them myself even though I am not vegetarian. Anyway, to make a short story short, it was pretty good! Very tasty and nice, the only problem is that you feel like you could eat several of them. So just be sure to have them with some rice and a salad or vegetable. If I were rating them, I would definitely give them 4 stars - I can't give them 5 since they are a little on the light side and leave you wanting more!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pantry Staples Revisited

A short while ago, one of my daughters posted here about Pantry Staples. I would like to add my thoughts about pantry staples here because I think personally that these pantry staples should be everyone's pantry staples. The items I have listed here go a long way towards adding flavor, and should always be on hand.

Lemons - limes can be substituted for a slightly different twist.
Soy sauce - use low-sodium; soy sauce has so much flavor, and you really do not need the added sodium.
vegetable broth - again, low sodium works well. You don't need the sodium when you have the full flavor of the veggie broth which is so much better than just plain water.
vinegar - preferably apple cider vinegar, but you can try any variety. Go easy on balsamic, however. It has a lot of acidity.
capers - I don't know what these little buggers are but yum, they give a nice little kick when added with lemon juice. And just a small jar goes a long long way.
Roasted red peppers - chop them up and add them to rice, vegetables, or whatever and you've got a blast going on! They're great!

Well, that's all I can think of for now. But I think that's a good start to a well-stocked pantry of flavor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

how to prepare some pretty good rice

We eat a lot of rice in our house. My daughters grew up with rice as a regular side, one that was more commonplace than potatoes or pasta. Very early on I learned a valuable cooking tool from my mother-in-law who is quite a good cook. She taught me how to make really good rice. And it's very easy. Here's how: Take a little bit of chopped onion and saute in your rice pan with some olive oil. After the chopped onion begins to sweat, add your measured rice and toast the rice with the onion. It doesn't matter really how long you toast your rice, as long as you don't over-toast it. I actually walked away from mine the other evening while it was toasting and I forgot about it for a couple of minutes. When I came back to the pot, the rice was golden-toasty and no worse for the wear. I was afraid I had burned it but luck was mine and the rice was fine. After you have toasted your rice in the olive oil with the onion, you can add your liquid. Here you can use your own imagination and add or substitute whatever liquid strikes your fancy. I frequently use vegetable broth, low-sodium, but water works well here too. When the liquid comes to the boil, cover your pot and cook as directed, which usually means on a low flame for approximately 15 minutes. When your cooking time is up, voila! You have pretty tasty rice!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Best Breakfast (or anytime food) Ever

One thing you may not know about me is that I read a few food blogs, in which the bloggers chronicle pretty much everything they eat over the course of a day. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with these blogs. On one hand, in most cases they are written by women who are around my age who have transformed their eating habits, lost weight, and are maintaining their new lifestyle, which I find inspirational. They also tend to have good ideas about recipes and new foods that I might not hear about otherwise. At the same time, reading these blogs makes me feel a little inadequate about my own eating habits. But that's not hard to do considering my somewhat wonky relationship with food and fitness. So I guess it's par for the course, really.

At any rate, one thing I read about close to 1,000 times on these blogs was something called the Green Monster. People rave about these things; apparently they are good for your energy levels, low in calories, pack a nutritional punch, and help promote healthy skin. That's a lot of good in one glass. I was intrigued by this from the first moment I read about it, especially considering that your basic Green Monster has a total of four ingredients, about 240 calories per serving, and potential for a lot of add-ins or substitutions. The only problem was that in my previous apartment, there was no blender, and once I realized I was going to be moving, I didn't feel like buying one. So I waited to try my hand at the Green Monster...until this morning! We now have a blender (my roommate and I, that is. It's her blender), so this past week I remembered to make sure I would have ingredients for a GM on hand. Basic ingredients are as follows (for one serving):
  • 2 cups spinach (you could substitute any green here, though. I know other people use kale pretty frequently. Just keep in mind that you probably want something fairly robust [lettuce might not be the best choice!] but also on the mild side);
  • 1 cup soy milk (as with the spinach, you could substitute here and use cow's milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. I used the Silk Light variety);
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax (once again, something you probably don't necessarily need if you don't have it on hand, but it does add fiber and healthy fats, especially Omega-3s);
  • 1 banana (I froze mine but you could skip that step, I'm sure).
Put all these ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. The result is a seriously delicious concoction that is almost like a smoothie in texture. Don't let the green color scare you--the taste is mostly banana and soy milk. I can't even say how good this was from the first sip. It's not overly sweet, and it doesn't taste disgustingly healthy. It's just really, really good. Plus, you're getting in two cups of greens without any effort at all, and that's not easy to do.

If you're looking for a quick way to get more greens into your diet, a pleasant way to refresh on a hot day, or just a fun and different snack or breakfast (I complemented my GM this morning with some yogurt and Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which is also really good), I think you should give a Green Monster a try!