Monday, April 27, 2009


Hot Italian Sausage

Ever since I got my grill at the end of last summer, I have been obsessed with grilling. In the past week or so I've grilled mahi mahi, marinated chicken, sirloin steaks — now hot Italian turkey sausage.

Yesterday I did a freezer clean out and restacking because I was sick and tired of having the box of frozen pot stickers bean me in the head every time I opened the freezer door. And in the back, I found two hot Italian turkey sausages wrapped up.

I wanted to take advantage of the great weather we're having, so I decided to grill them up. I treated them like I do brats by cooking them in simmer water until cooked through. Then, tossed them on the grill to brown them up. I dressed these as I do any grilled brat or hotdog with spicy deli mustard. I had sweet potato fries and a salad on the side. Simple, but great.

Here's the eats:

Breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin toasted, topped with 1 tbsp orange marmalade, apple slices and a slice of 2% cheddar cheese and broiled

Lunch: A serving of Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tomatillo Salsa, 3 small corn tortillas and an orange

Snack: 4 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt with 2 tbsp homemade granola around 3 p.m. and then a handful of salt and pepper cashews when I got home

Dinner: Grilled hot Italian turkey sausage on a white hot dog bun with deli mustard, sweet potato fries with ketchup and an arugula salad with 1 tbsp vinaigrette and a little bit of feta

Snack: Probably some milk or a milk serving of some sort because I'm low on dairy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coconut Curried Tofu with Green Jasmine Rice


I've been eating a lot of non-postworthy food lately. A lot of random leftovers, fried egg sandwiches and more cafeteria lunches that I care to admit to. At least my cafeteria has a "healthy" station, but trust me when I say their turkey meatloaf and cauliflower mash is nothing to write home about let alone an entire blog post.

I found this photo tossed in a bunch of my photos and realized I hadn't shared it, so now's as good of a time as any.

This meal was definitely atypical for me. I don't do many curried dishes in general and I shy away from coconut in dishes. I think the flavor is not something I'm used to. I associate coconut with the the Easter bunny cake my mom used to make every year from her Betty Crocker cookbook (the coconut was its "fur") so when I taste it in a savory dish it just seems out of place. I tried a Thai green curry at a local Thai place and half way through my meal I realized I hated the coconut milk.

But, because I firmly believe you have to try things more than one time before you can really decide whether you like them, I made Coconut Curried Tofu with Jasmine Green Rice. And you know what? I really, really liked it. The coconut milk didn't bother me one bit. I used light coconut milk, maybe that makes a difference? I don't know that much about it so I have no idea.

I think I liked the tofu better than the rice, and if I make it again I'll probably add more vegetables along with tofu. Tomatoes were a good start, but without other veggies the serving size was teeny tiny.

My only real complaint was that my entire apartment smelled like curry for DAYS. :)

Here were my eats today because I haven't done it in a while. Like most weekends, it's kind of lacking in nutrition. I worked out both days, though. My goal next week should be to eat a balanced diet on the weekends.

Breakfast: Cinnamon-oat pancakes with maple syrup. I'll have to photograph these next time. They were DELICIOUS and fluffy. Also had coffee with a little 1/2 and 1/2.

Lunch: Family dinner with my parents, sister, and her fiance: Brats on the grill on a whole wheat bun with yellow mustard, and some asian slaw. Tiny piece of carrot cake from a Cooking Light recipe.

Mini-snack: about a handful of homemade granola just to try it. I burnt the first batch to a crisp and the second batch only burnt in parts. Despite what the recipe says, I think I need to add the nuts and coconut in mid-way through the baking. So far, I'm still not loving homemade granola. Anyone have any tips? Please?

Dinner: Grilled sirloin steak and roasted potatoes with an arugala salad.

Snack: While cleaning up from dinner and packing tomorrow's lunch I ended up eating some multigrain tortilla chips with fresh salsa. Just a couple though!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

Cajun Shrimp with Cheesy Grits

I have had horrible headache all afternoon. At first, I thought it was from drinking too much caffeine, so I slugged down a CamelBak water bottle full of plain water and took a few Advil. It went away but came back not even 2 1/2 hours later. So, I ate a little something for a snack and that didn't help, so then I slugged down more water and finally took more Advil. Still had a headache.

It wasn't until I ate dinner that I finally got some relief.

With a pounding headache I didn't want to fuss. No chopping and I wanted dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less. So I ended up making Cajun Shrimp with some cheese grits (and some green beans because I realized I hadn't had any veggies other than peas today. Oops.).

When I got home tonight I knew I had shrimp I could thaw, but I had no idea what to do with it. So, I went to one of my favorite recipe sites, It's a database of recipes from Time Inc. publications like Cooking Light, Real Simple, and Health. I use the enhanced recipe search the most. Tonight, I used shrimp as my search term and checked off all three of the above magazines because I knew they'd all be healthy choices and clicked "quick/easy." Then, I sorted the results by rating. Cajun Shrimp came up near the top and it sounded great. Truthfully, it was the idea of cheesy grits that sold it for me. Yum! Both were great, actually.

Their Dinner Tonight feed is another place I look for new recipes, and if you're a beginning cook, these recipes include a video that helps you see the dish being made first. My only complaint is that keep the videos short, they use pre-chopped vegetables, which is what I needed help with most when I was learning to cook. Understandable, though, because who wants to sit and watch a 45-minute YouTube- style video?

When I was learning to cook I watched a ton of Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals. I know she grates on people's nerves sometimes, but she doesn't use swap outs on that show, so that's how I learned to cut a vegetable. I never actually made her recipes, though, because most have a zillion calories. It's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. At least the Dinner Tonight dishes have reasonable calorie counts for those of us trying to cut back.

I'm always looking for new recipes, so where you look for recipe inspiration?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zucchini-Cheddar Soup

Zucchini-Cheddar Soup

Speaking of recipes that use up odds and ends, I bring you... green soup. Zucchini-Cheddar Soup, to be exact.

It doesn't look all that appetizing, but it wasn't so bad. The recipe came from the Eating Well Diet book, which I actually like a lot. Every once and a while I check these diet books out of the library just for some ideas. Food magazines and other cookbooks are great for finding lunch and dinner recipes, but when I'm looking for simple weekday breakfasts and snack ideas, some of these books have great real food suggestions. I get bored easily and need to switch things up. I frequently browse the Weight Watchers' community for ideas, but they are either snack ideas I've already tried or they rely on heavily processed foods I generally try to avoid or at least keep to a minimum.

Anyhow, I had two large zucchini in the back of my fridge from a risotto recipe last week. Not sure why I bought the 3-pack from Aldi, but I did. And since they were pushing a week old, I decided I'd better do something with them. This recipe seemed interesting and I had most of the ingredients on hand.

At first, the zucchini seemed a bit overpowering, but it really grew on me and was surprising filling for a pureed soup. Reminded me a bit of the golden winter soup I made a few months back. If I used potatoes in this next time it would be even tastier — although not as low-calorie. Only change I made was using dried marjoram instead of fresh tarragon or dill. I didn't even have the dried versions of these.

I might make this again, especially if I have zucchini that need eaten. But I think I'll try adding some pureed potatoes in next time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Basic Pancakes with Strawberries and Bananas

Pancakes with Strawberries and Bananas

Excuse me while I share a boring meal. Basic pancakes topped with strawberries and 1/2 a ripe banana with a little maple syrup. My weekends sometimes are "use it up" kind of meals, and this one was definitely one of those!

Last weekend I made a batch of basic pancakes. I always split the recipe in two, then freeze the other portion. Because the recipe calls for 1 egg and it's hard to split an egg, I use fat free egg substitute in this case. It also has a lot of oil in the batter so next time I make them I might substitute unsweetened applesauce for half the oil. In Weight Watchers world, that saves a point per serving, or about 30 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. It isn't much, considering I use canola oil instead of butter for its healthier fats, but that's extra calories I could use for more syrup, which is the best part if you ask me.

To freeze, I let them cool, then lay them out flat on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen I transfer them to a freezer bag. To reheat, run them through the toaster on a low setting for a couple of cycles, or pop them in the oven. Put them flat on a cookie sheet, cover with foil, and bake about 8 to 10 minutes at 350 until hot.

I topped these with bananas and strawberries because both were on their last days. Sometimes produce goes bad before I have a chance to eat it. So this was an excellent way to avoid waste.

For activity today, I burned 500 calories according to my heart rate monitor for 30 minutes or so on the elliptical and lower body strength training. I also did my normal Sunday deep clean in my apartment. I suppose if I truly kept up with it through the week, it wouldn't take so much time on the weekends, but that would require me to do something other than crashing after work. :)

Here's the eats for today:

Breakfast: Three basic pancakes topped with a couple of strawberries and 1/2 a banana, 2 tbsp grade A maple syrup, 2 tbsp 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee

Lunch: Giant sandwich with 4 slices of deli turkey, lettuce, tomato, red onion, slice of 2% cheddar and deli mustard on a whole wheat bun with 1/2 a grapefruit on the side

Snack: 1 cup fresh pineapple leftover from last night's dinner

Dinner: Zucchini and cheddar soup and a grilled cheese sandwich

Snack: chocolate pudding while I watch Desperate Housewives. It's finally new!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mahi Mahi with Mojito Marinade and Tropical Couscous Salad

Mahi Mahi with Mojito Marinade

I've been a terrible blogger lately. I haven't blogged mostly because I have been slammed both and work and at home this past week or so. The Thursday before Easter my sister came home and looked at one more place for her wedding. She ended up booking it and is officially getting married on November 13 (that's a Friday the 13th!)

So, we ate out that night for our "Easter" dinner since my sister had to drive back home the next day. I had tons of errands to run on Saturday and worked out, then did some hardcore cleaning on Sunday. Monday was busy at work because I was out Tuesday and Wednesday because my sister was in town again to try on dresses. She found one on Tuesday so Wednesday we drove to the outlet malls for shopping and to IKEA just to walk around. Again, eating out for most of my meals and they weren't good choices.

Thursday and Friday were busy again at work because I was out for two days.. and my eating was all over the map. Friday's highlight was two donuts. Ugh.

But I'm back to my normal eating habits today, although I haven't had time to work out. My dad cam over to put together my new bistro table for my porch. And because it was so nice out, I grilled some Mahi Mahi with Mojito Marinade on my grill and sat at my new table to eat. I'm so glad I finally put a table out there.

The fish was fantastic. I'm not sure I could really taste the marinade, but I love the mahi mahi grilled. I was afraid it would be too minty for my tastes, but it wasn't at all. Alongside I made the Weight Watchers recipe for tropical couscous salad and it was delicious, too. And I'm not normally a fan of WW recipes. I also had steamed green beans. I wanted to grill asparagus, but it was nearly $4 a pound today so I bought the green beans that were on special instead. Overall, a great dinner.

Here's the food journal:

Breakfast: 1 Ezekiel cinnamon raisin English muffin with 2 tbsp light cream cheese, 1 cup skim milk, coffee

Lunch: Turkey sandwich (whole wheat roll, 2 oz. deli turkey breast, slice of 2% cheese, spicy brown mustard, lettuce and tomato), 1/2 grapefruit

Snack: Kashi blackberry cereal bar

Dinner: 4 oz. mahi mahi fillet marinaded in mojito marinade, 1 serving tropical couscous, steamed green beans with 1 tsp oil.

Snack: Most likely it will be air popped popcorn with grated Parmesan while I watch a movie.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oikos Greek Yogurt

Oikos Greek Yogurt

I have been so busy at work. It's definitely feast or famine. Monday was slow and dull and I wanted to poke my eyes out. But Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday morning were rush rush rush. And unfortunately, exercise and eating well were the first things to go when the going got tough.

I would have continued to work out, but a last minute request caused me to miss my afternoon workout. Same thing Wednesday, and today, well, I had no idea what to expect so I didn't even bother bringing a change of clothing. Sure, I could've pushed myself to go after work this week, but I'm tired, hungry and the gym is packed. Like most, I make a zillion and one excuses.

But I do look forward to getting back into the swing of things.

I didn't even cook much this week. I did try a new yogurt, though. Stoneyfield Farm was kind enough to send some coupons my way so I could try their greek yogurt, Oikos Organic. I've had Fage before, but I hadn't tried Oikos, and I hadn't yet tried a flavored greek yogurt.

So far, I've tried the plain and the blueberry, but I'm wanting to try the honey and the vanilla if I can find them.

Overall, they're good. The blueberry was higher in Weight Watcher's Points than some of the other nonfat yogurts I eat. Probably because it has regular sugar instead of the artificial sugar most have. The blueberry does have a better taste and texture than other blueberry flavored fat free yogurts and it was the fruit at the bottom kind.

The plain had similar nutritionals as other plain yogurt, but I believe greek yogurt has more protein. Some say protein gives it staying power, but honestly, I didn't notice a different in my fullness. I like the texture of nonfat plain greek yogurt over regular plain nonfat yogurt, mostly because definitely doesn't do that weird separating thing. And maybe it's in my head, but it doesn't seem as tangy, which I like.

But even though I really liked it, I'm not likely to buy this very often. For one, it's really difficult to find. I used the product locator on their website and it said it was at the Kroger closest to me, but it wasn't. I did find the plain and blueberry at Whole Foods, but they were out of the honey, and they didn't even stock the vanilla. I don't normally shop at either store, so both trips were a little out of my way.

Plus, like all brands of greek yogurt, it's pricey. At whole foods they were 1.99 for a 5.3 ounce cup. I'm not only wasting gas trying to find the yogurt, but I'm paying a lot for it. It's organic, which is good for the environment, but I feel like driving all over creation kind of negates it.

Still, I'm looking forward to trying the other flavors — if I can find them. Also wondering how the price and flavor compares to their regular nonfat organic yogurt.

As for my food journal — I haven't been journaling at all. I know, terrible!

But here's yesterday's eats. It's not good. We also ended up going out as a family for our "Easter" dinner since my sister was home last night. It was not healthy in the least. I'm off to a better start today, thankfully.

Breakfast: Oats from the cafeteria with maybe a tbsp each of brown sugar, granola, and dried cranberries. I think it was about a 12 ounce styrofoam container. Plus a giant coffee. Good to be caffeinated even though I got about 10 hours of sleep last night.
Lunch: Enchiladas from the cafeteria, with a side of steamed mixed veggies. They claimed the enchiladas were 460 calories per serving. The veggies were just plain frozen veggies cooked without oil or butter. None of tasted very good.
Snack: PB cookie in the breakroom. Ugh. I always fall for the cookies.
Dinner: Blackened Tilapia sandwich and fries. I caved big time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spanish Tortilla with Bell Pepper

Spanish Tortilla

I'm not sure this picture captures just how colorful this dish is. It's really impressive looking, actually. And it looks a lot harder than it actually was. Just sliced yukon gold potatoes, red pepper and onion with egg and parsley.

Super simple and delicious. I made this even healthier by using only 4 whole eggs and using egg beaters for the other 4 the recipe calls for. When you mix the two, you can't even tell the difference. After my cookie-fest on Friday night, I needed a lighter menu on Saturday to balance the gluttony. And not only was this Spanish Tortilla with Bell Pepper good for dinner, it was just as good for breakfast the next day. It's just a good anytime kind of meal. My version only came out to 5 points, too.

I returned to a healthy balance of food today, thankfully. And even squeezed in another C25k session this afternoon. I love working out at work now. It's so easy to make excuses after work when I'm tired and hungry.

Breakfast: 2 slices cinnamon raisin bread, toasted and topped with 2 tbsp part skim ricotta, large banana
Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese frozen dinner (it's all I had on hand), big salad with mixed greens, cukes and tomato, 1 oz. feta, 2 tsp evoo and a dash of vinegar
Snack: small apple and 1 tbsp almond butter, 1 cup skim milk
Dinner: Red beans and rice with andouille sausage, loads of roasted broccoli
Snack: 5 oz. plain greek yogurt, fresh strawberries and drizzle of honey

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicken and Chorizo Fajitas

Chicken and Chorizo Fajitas

I got the idea for these fajitas from a local Mexican joint. They have fajitas you can order that has chicken and Mexican chorizo, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. I think they even have mozzarella cheese on them, which sounds weird, but is actually really good. I love them. Wash them down with a premium margarita and plenty of chips and salsa and I'm in Heaven.

Unfortunately, I'm sure they're not the healthiest. Especially considering I feel compelled to drink a margarita and overindulge in chips. So, I decided to make a version at home.

They came out pretty well, but something was missing. Probably the extra oil or lard or whatever they cook it in. Or maybe, they just have better chorizo? Overall, a fairly good version. I might add chili powder and cumin to the chicken next time to give it a little added flavor.

Chicken and Chorizo Fajitas

Serves 2

2 tsp canola oil
6 ounces boneless skin less chicken
2 ounces Mexican chorizo (no the pre-cooked Spanish kind)
1 garlic clove
1/2 medium onion sliced
1/2 medium orange or red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium green bell pepper sliced
3 oz or so white button mushrooms, slice
2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
6 small corn tortillas

Warm a tsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and chorizo and cook until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the other tsp of oil and the garlic, onion, peppers and mushrooms and cook until all the veggies are tender. Then, add back chicken, chorizo and add the tomatoes. Cook until warmed through. Serve with tortillas.

Optional toppings I added: light sour cream and pico de gallo.

Food Journal: April 3, 4 & 5

food journal

I thought I would make this a separate post because I have a regular post to make that includes a recipe. Keeps everything from getting too wordy I suppose. Looking at my weekend's journal, it doesn't look great. Ate waaayyy too many cookies on Friday and then lacked general nutrition on Saturday and Sunday. Most say they overeat on weekends. But because I sleep until lunch time I'm usually fine on calories, it's just random foods I manage to eek in around errands. At least I kept up with workouts.

Eating was awful. I'm human to say the least. I got a 30 minute c25k session in, though!

Breakfast: Strawberry-Orange Smoothie, 1 tbsp 1/2 and 1/2 in coffee
Snack: M&M cookie and a Timbit
Lunch: Leftover lighter beef chili and a corn muffin
Snack: 2 oz. lean ham, 1 tbsp light cream cheese and about a 1/4 of a bell pepper, sliced
Dinner: Cookies. I lost count, honestly. And possible some orange juice

I spent most of the day sleeping, so I had a scattered eating approach, but I didn't eat too much. Light on fruits, though. Plus, I burned 400 some calories on the elliptical in the afternoon.

Breakfast: corn muffin, 1 slice Great Harvest honey wheat bread with 1 tbsp Smart Balance Light, 2 overeasy eggs cooked in 1 tsp olive oil, 2 tbsp 1/2 and 1/2 in coffee
Snack: Banana
Dinner: 2 servings Spanish Tortilla (I'll post tomorrow on this), about 1/2 cup sliced strawberries with 6 oz. nonfat vanilla yogurt
Snack: Mini bag of Orville Redenbacher's natural salt and pepper popcorn

Still slept late and didn't get enough healthy stuff, but again, didn't eat too much and am planning 45 minutes of yoga tonight.

Breakfast: 2 servings Spanish tortilla, 2 tbsp 1/2 and 1/2 in coffee
Snack: Kashi strawberry cereal bar while I was running errands
Dinner: Leftover lighter beef chili and the last corn muffin, 1 tbsp light sour cream
Snack: I am planning to try a new greek yogurt with some sliced strawberries tonight. I'll review it later in the week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lighter Beef Chili - Take Two

Lighter Beef Chili

Ugh. This day started off rough and it's my own dumb fault. I blew off exercise last night and sat on my butt watching TV. Then, I couldn’t fall asleep and ended up being awake past 12:30 a.m. I struggled to be awake before 7 a.m. this morning.

Feeling tired in the morning is a recipe for disaster. Chocolate chocolate chip cookies were sitting in the empty cube across from mine — calling my name. I caved around 10:30 and had one. Oops.

I even flirted with the idea of ditching my lunch and buying it in the cafeteria. But not surprising, today's cafeteria options sounded more disgusting than my leftovers.

After lunch, I slugged more coffee and it gave me a short pick-me-up. But I was already feeling the crash by 4 p.m. And I was facing a busy evening of stopping by the library to drop off my overdue books, the grocery store to pick up breakfast goodies for the office’s breakfast for charity thing tomorrow, exercising, blogging, cooking dinner and after dinner clean up and folding the three giant baskets of laundry that have been sitting in the middle of my kitchen since Sunday.

Even if I weren’t exhausted, looking at that to-do list is tiring. Maybe I’m trying to accomplish too much. By the end of the day, I just felt inspired to finish something. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather.

Because I was so lazy last night, though, I failed to cook the pinto beans for tonight’s chili, so I ended up throwing in black beans instead. Then I added a handful or so of frozen corn and some cumin, and used fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead of plain — just because it sounded good. Like I said, I felt inspired. I liked it the first time I made it, but I think this was a fun twist. In fact, I really liked it this way.

I also made a boxed corn bread mix, but lightened it with egg beaters and skim milk. I’m generally not a fan of egg beaters, but I don’t notice the difference in most baked goods.

I’m a day behind on my full disclosure food journal.. so here's yesterday and today.

Breakfast: Smoothie made with ¾ cup nonfat vanilla soymilk, ½ large banana, 3 tbsp orange juice, 5 oz. frozen strawberries and a slice of Great Harvest honey whole wheat with a tbsp natural PB on the side

Lunch: Leftover spicy asian noodle dish with the snow pea and water chestnuts on the side. I don’t think I’ll share the photo, it didn’t look that appetizing. Oh, and an apple.

Snack: ½ cup of the leftover tuna salad with 4 Kashi party crackers. Meant to eat only 2 crackers, but I was snacky.

Dinner: Chicken and chorizo fajitas, which were a take off the fajitas I order at a local Mexican joint. They were good, but not as good as the Mexican place. Probably healthier though.

Late Snack/Dessert: 2 small corn tortillas (snacked while cleaning up the kitchen. Ugh.) and yogurt with strawberries.

Breakfast: Ezekiel sprouted grain English muffin, roma tomato, slice of 2% cheddar.

Snack: Cookie. Oh well.

Lunch: leftover fajitas, apple

Snack: 2 oz. lean ham, 1 tbsp light cream cheese wrapped around green bell pepper slices.

Dinner: Chili and cornbread. Yum. Looks like I’m light on veg again today. Cornbread counts, right?

Dessert: Yogurt and strawberries… again. I heart them.