New Year Eating Challenge — Day 2

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Day 2, or (as someone posted on Facebook today): the Monday-iest Monday that ever Monday-ed. Back to work for me after the holiday was hard. Love my job, but getting back into the rhythm after the holiday always kind of sucks.

At least I got to wake up to a yummy breakfast: Carrot Cake Oatmeal.

(By the way, we were either too hungry or distracted to take pictures of any of the main food for today. Please visit the source material for some glamour shots of the food and detailed instructions, found here .) The instructions for the challenge instructed me to prep the oatmeal the night before and let it chill out in the fridge overnight. This morning I took my bowl of oatmeal out (made accidently with cow milk instead of almond milk because apparently I can’t read), mixed in cinnamon, raisins, vanilla, almonds, honey and some plain greek yogurt on top. I have a little cold that is affecting my taste a bit, so the strong cinnamon taste, along with the warmth of the oats, the creaminess of the yogurt, and the texture of the almonds and the raisins was so nice this morning. I loved it so much. I did add a single packet of stevia just to amp up the sweetness, but this may not have been as necessary when I can taste to my full ability. Later in the morning, I called Chubby Hubby to ask something else, but asked how he liked the oatmeal: he said it was terrible.

Me: Really? You didn’t like it?
CH: No, it was so bland! You liked it?
Me: It was bland? Did you not add the other stuff in?
CH: What other stuff?
Me: The cinnamon, honey, vanilla… (etc.)
CH: (pause) No, I didn’t.  (Another pause) That probably would have helped a lot.

Bless him.

Lunch for him was leftover Frittata from yesterday, but he did report it held up well and was still good when warmed.

I worked late so dinner was made by the beloved, yay! Roasted chicken breast, barley, and leftover Brussel sprouts. We did buy the wrong chicken, it was supposed to a bone-in, skin-on breast and we bought boneless and skinless. Oops. Chubby Hubby said that there was nothing to cooking it. “Put the barley on to boil with chicken broth, chicken in the oven with the sprouts, and came in the living room and watched Jeopardy while it cooked.” Bonus: It was really good as well as easy. The barley had a little more bite than rice or cous cous (more like quinoa, kind of chewy), and it was nice and starchy compared with the bitterness of the sprouts. This one is a keeper.

Snacks today were “Fancy Ants on a Log” during the day and Pumpkin, Pistachio, and Pomegranate Yogurt Bark at night. The ants on a log were fancy because it was almond butter instead of peanut butter, and dried cherries instead of raisins. Hubby gave it two thumbs up, “I like all the ingredients, what’s not to like about it?” When asked if he felt fancy eating it, he replied that he did indeed feel as though he were at Downton Abbey being served from a silver tray. I think he’s mocking me.

I knew I would like the bark when I was making it last night. I love pumpkin anything, and have recently discovered the yumminess of pomegranate seeds so I was very excited….but I was a little disappointed. The bark was frozen very hard, had little ice crystals on top, and was not as sweet as I’d hoped. I do think that part of the problem was I had it spread too think to actually be bark, so it was more chunky than anything. I also think I’d have liked it prepared as more of a soft frozen yogurt with the nuts mixed in. I’ll keep tweaking this one, it has lots of promise. Hubby also reported it was “kind of bland.” Gotta love the protein in a dessert though.

So, overall rating of day 2, scale of 1-5.
Now, again, I’m only rating breakfast and dinner since lunch was leftovers.
Me: 4
Chubby Hubby: 4

On to day 3! Very excited!

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7 Day New Year Eating Challenge — Day 1

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Happy New Year everyone!! I hope 2016 brings you blessings.

A little bit of background to these posts…

Several months ago, Chubby Hubby ordered the DDP yoga program. He has struggled with sciatica for years and when he saw Arthur’s video (found here) he immediately told me he wanted to order the program. **Side note, watch this when you can, its incredibly inspirational! ** I was skeptical, because we all have those DVD’s we order “to get healthy” that gather dust shortly after arriving. He pushed, I gave in, and he began doing them religiously and lost about 45 pounds. I was so super proud of him for a) proving me wrong (really, I was!); b) sticking to it; and c) his success and how good he felt.

…Then the holidays came…we all know the story. A little here, a little there, and we end up hating ourselves between Christmas and New Years. So, Chubby Hubby sent me a link to this Buzzfeed 7 “clean” eating challenge. We both were talking a lot about how badly we’d been eating and how much we needed to get back on the horse. As he said, “there’s nothing on here I wouldn’t eat”, so I set to the grocery store to purchase items for said diet challenge.

Here is the link for the plan. The site is great that it has a shopping list, nutrition facts, and tips to save money. Also, if needed, prep help videos. Check it out and follow along!

Things I learned from this shopping trip: First, apparently Chubby Hubby had simply made a suggestion with this plan–I thought he was really urging us to do it, but apparently he was introducing it for consideration…oops. I called him and told him to meet me at the grocery store to buy for the plan. He seemed surprised, but game. Secondly, and very importantly: This plan ain’t cheap. The plan mentions that the specifications/amounts are for 1 person and differ slightly according to gender. I pushed my l’il buggy to the produce section fully intending to buy double the list to feed us both. Around the pomegranates and acorn squash(es) I vetoed this part of the plan. I figured that since I’m a bariatric post-op patient (story for another day), surely we can share and just supplement any necessary foods. Of course, not everything on the list was at one store, so I finished up the list this afternoon.

Chubby Hubby went to bed last night, since he has to work, and asked if we were starting the plan on Sunday. I said yes, excitedly, and told him I would prep his breakfast, lunch, and snack and come to bed soon after…

…that took about 4 hours. Now, to be fair, there were a couple of things that delayed the process.
1) Cleaning the kitchen — call it my inner chef desperate to have my “Mise en place” in order, but I had to clean the kitchen before I started. This took time since pots had to be washed by hand and counters had to be cleared and cleaned.
2) Making one item at a time. Once all was said and done, I realized it would have been faster to prep several of the dishes concurrently, such as seeding the pomegranate while the egg whites were whipping (which took a lot longer than I thought it would by the way). The actual preparation of the food was really not that hard, I was just slow and careful throughout but that definitely slowed the process.  Oh well, live and learn.

Now, here is the link for day one of the plan, and the verdict on the actual food:

Frittata — I’m not big on sweet potatoes or onions, so I passed on this one. Chubby Hubby really enjoyed it though, he said he’d like to have it again at some point (which is good, since the plan instructs him to eat the leftovers for lunch at some point).

Spinach salad with tofu — Full disclosure, I had never had tofu before. I was very pleasantly surprised, and Chubby Hubby walked in the door from work and said “that salad you made me — was EXCELLENT.” I told him I was glad, I had been worried he would be starving and he said “surprisingly, no, I’m good.” The orange vinegarette dressing had a nice pop. I just wish the chickpeas were crunchy, like, at all. I followed the instructions on roasting them, maybe next time I’ll just buy the ones that are already roasted.

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash and Brussel Sprouts — “This is great, you should make this every night!” Chubby Hubby gave this one a big thumbs-up seal of approval. I liked it, I’m not a huge fan of squashes in general, but I liked the one dish prep, the Brussel sprouts, and the flavors of the turkey. Maybe next time a bit fewer onions and chop the kale a little finer for me. Chubby Hubby says I’m crazy (which he does a lot anyway) and that its perfect the way it is.

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Snacks for Day 1 are pomegranate seeds and raw almonds during the day, and dark chocolate at night. We cheated with the almonds as I had roasted ones on hand, so I used those. Pomegranate seeds though, who knew?! Those suckers are delicious.

Overall rating of food for day 1, scale of 1 to 5 (5 being highest because…well, it’s bigger…):
Chubby Wife: Eh, 3.75.
Chubby Hubby: “5! Ok, maybe 4.5.”

Next up, day 2!

Yummy Broccoli…No, Really!!

I don’t like vegetables. There, I said it. Yes, I’m an (almost) 31-year-old woman. I pay taxes, I do my own laundry; I’ve unclogged a drain, fixed a flat tire, and dealt with things where my first impulse was to find the nearest adult. I still just don’t like vegetables.

I decided a few years ago that eating vegetables was just going to be a necessary evil. I Googled (as we all do so frequently now when we want to know things in the immediate moment that we wonder them) what the most overall nutritious vegetables were and decided to learn to eat them, not like them, but eat them. If I had to force myself to consume something, I may as well go for broke, right?

The list included spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, and many other foods of the green persuasion (if you’re actually curious of the most nutritious foods, a list can be found here). Some, like kale, I’ve still not developed a taste for; but most can actually be quite yummy if you know how to make them. Like the star of today’s show: Broccoli…or, as I used to refer to it: evil little trees.

Oven Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan

  1. Start with dry, fresh broccoli (frozen won’t work, as it just won’t crisp up right), as much as you desire to make. I will say, it roasts more evenly if it’s chopped up small and uniformly.
  2. Grab a bowl, and toss it in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (to taste).
  3. Lay it out on a foil-lined sheet pan, arrange it in a single layer, and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 mins.
  4. Remove from oven and squeeze the juice of a lemon over it (ranging from 1/2-1 whole, depending on the amount of broccoli and how much you love lemon juice). Return to oven for another 5 minutes. (At this stage, the broccoli will be dark green, and maybe beginning to brown a bit)
  5. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese (shredded works best, but grated will work fine) to taste. Return once more to oven and roast another 5-7 minutes, to allow the parmesan to brown and crisp.
Browned Broccoli Goodness

Browned Broccoli Goodness

When finished, the broccoli is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, slightly bitter with the saltiness of the Parmesan and the brightness of the lemon juice.

It.Is.DELICIOUS.

I can literally eat an entire batch by myself, me, the girl who doesn’t like veggies.

Give it a try, I know you’ll like it as much as I do. Enjoy!

A Spoonful of PB Helps the Noodles Go Down

What to do with this chicken from the other day? Hmmm… Chubby Hubby to the rescue!

We were watching TV and someone was eating some Asian noodles.

CH: “I could SO eat some noodles…”

Me: “Me too. We might could make some black bean noodles and peanut sauce.”

CH: “You know how to do that?”

Me: “I think so…”

CH: “Then why aren’t you doing it?” (He was kidding guys, I think he’s funny. Calm down.)

I start by putting the noodles on.

noodles

I got these at Costco and was thrilled to see how much protein they have! As a member of the “Tiny Tummy Club” (15 months post-op for Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. That’s another post though.) protein is super important and empty calories are no bueno. Every once in a while you want a treat though, so these are a great choice even if they are a bit high in the calorie department.

nutrition facts

Click to enlarge nutrition facts

Obviously, rice noodles are customary with a peanut sauce. I’m also sure that regular noodles would taste good too. the thing I do like about these noodles is that they’re a bit more firm than regular noodles, reminding me more of Soba noodles than plain flour noodles, which worked perfectly for this recipe.

It was then a matter of making the sauce. I looked quickly online and saw that the basic ingredients for peanut sauce are peanut butter, chopped peanuts, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Many of the recipes also used coconut milk, but since I didn’t have any I left it out. I honestly just kind of combined the ingredients and taste tested until I liked it and it passed the Chubby Hubby test.

Roughly, here are the amounts:

-2 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter

-1 1/2 Tsp low-sodium soy sauce

-1/2 Tbsp minced ginger

-2 1/2 Tbsp of sesame oil

-1 Tsp sesame seeds

-Sriracha to taste (we used about 1 1/2 Tbsp)

-1 Tbsp chopped dry-roasted peanuts (for garnish)

-1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken

Noodles and PB sauceI heated all of the sauce ingredients in a pot, tasting regularly, until warm and combined, and then added the chicken to warm up. I did notice that the sauce was a lot darker in color than I thought it would be, but it tasted good. I was actually really pleased with the taste, especially considering I was kind of making it up as I went along (don’t you love it when that happens!). Also, as much as I like these noodles the appearance is not very appetizing. This is really one of those recipes that tastes a lot better than it looks, and both Chubby Hubby and I ate a good bit of it (leftovers are being set aside for lunch tomorrow), and agreed we would make it again soon.

I hope this inspires you to try new things using the things you have on hand in new and creative ways! Let me know if you give this a try and if you like it!

Happy Eatings! 🙂

Two Whole (Rotisserie) Chickens…(and a Coke)

Hello my lovely followers! I haven’t been posting in a while and apparently you missed me! I feel so loved and honored!! So, since it’s November, here’s something you can be thankful for: new posts! 🙂

My friend Susan and I (HI, SUSAN!!) were out the other day and she mentioned that she needed groceries. I told her that we actually had plenty of groceries but needed some meat/protein to actually build meals around. We were at Costco later (HI, COSTCO!!) and I had an idea. Instead of going to the regular grocery store and getting individual packs of meat like normal, I decided to get the Costco package of two chicken fryers and use them for meat for the week.

Everyone loves the convenience of a rotisserie chicken. I try to cook mine in the rotisserie on permanent loan from my parents instead of buying them at the store for two main reasons: one, it’s incredibly easy and two, I can control exactly what goes into them. I did end up buying the regular chicken fryers even though I did STRONGLY consider the organic kind, just to save a bit of money. I ended up getting 11 lbs. of chicken for $12, can’t beat that!

Brought the “chicken baby” home–called it that because I carried these chickens around the store like an infant because I forgot to get a cart– and got them prepped and ready. Easy as pie. For those not familiar:

-Removed the giblets and dried the chicken with paper towels

-I seasoned the skin by rubbing it with butter (olive oil works well too), salt, and pepper

– I inserted some fresh rosemary (one of my absolute favorite herbs) into the cavity along with a lemon in one chicken and an onion in the other (each cut in half or quarters, to make it fit in the cavity)

-I trussed the chicken, which is not hard once you get the hang of it. For those unfamiliar, here is an instructional video on the “proper” way to do it. I don’t always do it this way, the important thing is to tie it so that the chicken isn’t flopping in the rotisserie and the contents don’t fall out.

-Cook the chicken in the rotisserie for about 15 minutes a pound. If you don’t own a rotisserie, no big deal! This is totally transferable to a roasting recipe. Instead, just roast the chicken (on a rack, if you have one) at 425 degrees for about 90 minutes.

Yay! Now I had two rotisseried chickens! (Full disclosure, I had planned to have a picture of them to post because they were so pretty. When I got up the next morning, apparently Chubby Hubby had located the chickens and had helped himself to a leg quarter. Oh well, you guys know how they look anyway, right?)

I let them cool completely overnight wrapped in foil before I broke them down. This is no fun, but is not as bad (in my opinion) as doing it raw. I cut the chicken up, deboned it, and cubed the meat. I saved some of the skin in case I wanted to use if for flavoring later, but I gave most if it to the pups (who enjoyed it).  This left me with two big bowls of cooked white and dark meat chicken to use as I saw fit for the week. I did not do it this time, but I try to save the bones when I do this to make stock (which, as Alton Brown says, is for another show).

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what I did with the first portion of this meat!

Happy eatings!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Alright, who’s missed me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Just kidding.

Been busy with school lately, but I did make time to make my hubby one of his all time favorites and I thought I’d share it with you, because I’m nice like that. 🙂

In all seriousness, my mom gave me a great tip a long time ago that my grandmother gave to her about how to make crust. They are a 1 to 1 ratio. For savory dishes, it’s 1 stick of butter/margarine, 1 cup of milk, and 1 cup of flour. For sweet dishes (like cobbler) it’s 1 stick of butter/margarine, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of sugar/sweetener.

So when I saw fresh rhubarb at the farmer’s market, I thought I’d give a go at the cobbler. Playing on Pinterest, howeverrhubarb, I found a recipe for a crisp, I thought it looked like an interesting twist. Found the recipe at Sugar and Spice by Celeste and it turned out quite good.

So we started with:

-2 stalks of rhubarb (her recipe calls for 6, but I had only bought 2, so I just rolled with it), diced

-1 pound of strawberries, hulled and sliced

-1/2 cup of sugar

Chubbystrawberries Hubby helped me wash and prepare the fruit…is rhubarb a fruit? I washed and prepared the filling and combined with the sugar and set aside to work on the crust.

 

 

Crisp Crust:

Looks pretty good, right?

Looks pretty good, right?

-1 cup of flour (I had whole-wheat all-purpose, so that’s what I used)

-1/2 cup of rolled oats (NOT instant)

-1/3 cup of sugar

-1/3 cup of brown sugar (packed)

-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon of salt

-1 stick of butter (unsalted and melted or softened)

I softened the butter in the microwave (low heat guys!) and added all the other crust ingredients together. I mixed with my hands until it had the consistency of wet sand. I like to do this with my hands because you can get a better feel for when everything is combined.

Chubby Hubby greased the dish with butter and added the filling to the pan. I put the crust on top and it was ready to slide into the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

When it was all done and bubbly, this is what it looked like:

all done

 

It would seem that this was a big hit with Chubby Hubby as only a small piece made it to daylight, and none made it to the following sun-down. Chubby Hubby reported that I could make this for him any time I felt like it. Contrary to what it may appear on this blog, I don’t make desserts often. We all deserve a treat now and then, and this was one to keep in the rotation for next now and then!

Happy Eatings, guys! 🙂

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 7 (Hallelujah!)

Faithful readers, this week has taught me a lot of things.

1) We waste too much food.

2) We eat too little food. A lot of the stuff in my cabinets was/is heavily processed and full of edible ingredients that are not, in fact, food.

3) If planning to undergo such a challenge yourself, I strongly encourage that you make sure you have what you need to complete it. That was part of the challenge when I started was to not reinforce my supplies and just eat what we had. That being said, it has definitely been a challenge. 🙂

So, the final day of the challenge. We ate oatmeal for breakfast, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (by sandwiches I mean he had an English muffin and I had a wrap since we were out of bread). Nothing we couldn’t handle and nothing we wouldn’t have done on a normal day anyway. I think the knowledge that we were so low on some things was messing with our heads more than the actual food we were eating.

Dinner was another one of our quick, simple, “I’m hungry-and-tired and you’re hungry-and-tired” weeknight meals that we both enjoy. Simplest thing in the world, but very good. Smoked Sausage with Potatoes and Onion. Simply take a smoked sausage and slice it up (I try to do it on the bias just so it’s a little bit prettier, Chubby Hubby just slices it…men 🙂 ) along with some potatoes and an onion.  There are options in regards to both to change the flavor or textures of the dish. We prefer to use Turkey smoked sausage as it’s a bit lighter in calories and is not greasy at all. We also generally use red potatoes because you can get such a nice crust on them when you roast them in a hot cast-iron skillet, and we prefer yellow or Vidalia/sweet onions to white because it’s a mellower flavor.

We just heat our trusty cast-iron skillet in the over before we start the prep at about 400 degrees. This helps make a nice, crisp, crust on all the ingredients (as Chubby Hubby refers to it: crusty goodness).  Then slice all the ingredients, toss them in a little olive or canola oil (we prefer olive in general) and season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.

CUMIN IS IMPORTANT TO THIS DISH.

We’ve had it before with just salt and pepper, and it’s fine, nothing wrong with it. Add the cumin and it becomes a party. It’s just so much better with this little bit of extra smoky flavor. When the skillet is heated nicely, (carefully) add the ingredients to the skillet and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes get soft.

We generally add an egg to the meal, and I prefer mine either “sunny-side-up” or “over-medium” for this meal. Chubby Hubby hates and detests the idea of a runny yolk, but when it’s all mixed in with the sausage and potatoes of this dish, it makes like this rich, yummy sauce and it just can’t be beat.

So yummy, complete with "crusty goodness"

So yummy, complete with “crusty goodness”.

This is another one of our fallback meals, and it never disappoints.

I hope you all have enjoyed reading about this challenge and it has opened your mind to different methods and recipes to try when you get low on groceries. I, on the other hand, and heading to the grocery store! Later guys! 🙂