Archive for the ‘low carb’ Category

Egg Roll Cravings

December 28, 2016

Sometimes we have cravings.  For me, that craving is often Chinese food, and not just any Chinese food, but the old-school greasy appetizers that barely qualified as any sort of nutritious meal, but were so delicious and addicting.  One of those favorites of mine was egg rolls: deep-fried flour-wrapped ground pork, cabbage, carrots, and green onions.  I’m not sure what else was in these exotic delicacies of my youth, but as I grew older and my taste buds matured, I learned how to make a variety of versions of various rolls.  All were delicious, and all were very time-consuming.

Recently during a craving for these Asian flavors, I decided that it was time to go the easy route.  The easy route is also a bit healthier as it requires no flour wrappers and no deep frying which also meant much easier clean up as well!  What I’m talking about here folks, is a big pan of egg roll filling.  Yup, just the good stuff.  In a big bowl. Comfort food at its best.  So here you go:

Egg Roll Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 12 oz shredded cabbage*
  • 6 oz shredded carrots*
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 achopped green onions

*shortcut alert: One 12 oz bag of cole slaw mix which is primarily cabbage and carrots can take the place of manually shredding cabbage and carrots

Method

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, white part of chopped green onions, ginger, and garlic. Set aside.

Brown ground pork, then add a third to half of the sauce mixture**.  Add cabbage, carrots, and the rest of the sauce mixture.  Cover and cook on low until cabbage is softened.

Serve in a bowl, as is or over rice. Top with green part of chopped onions and a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil.

**shortcut alert:  Prep all veggies and sauce in advance.  Cook pork and refrigerate up to a day in advance.  When it’s time for dinner, heat up pork and add veggies and sauce.  Pork mixture can also be made ahead and frozen for a future meal – just add veggies and sauce!

Grocery Shopping 101

July 9, 2016

So here’s the deal, you don’t have time to cook full meals because you work, and have kids, and have to go to the gym, and you don’t have the right ingredients in the pantry, and…I get it!  Step 1 for healthy, home-cooked meals is having the food available to cook.  If you only have frozen pizza, canned soup, and condiments then there’s not much available to cook even if you found the time.

Cooking full meals requires planning (until you become so good at it you could MacGyver that pizza and soup into a 4 course gourmet meal).  Even then, there will still be some planning involved and this starts with filling the fridge and pantry with versatile ingredients.  Remember that bag of frozen chicken tenders we discussed previously? Not only could that be used for the Chicken Enchilada Bake, but also: Asian stir fry, shredded BBQ chicken, Greek chicken kabobs, chicken in mushroom sauce, and tons of other quick and easy recipes.

Then there are the add-ons like cheese, salsa, herbs and spices.  Keep your favorites handy.  Shredded 3 cheese blend is great for Mexican dishes, omelettes, and even on top of burgers.  Choose a couple of sauces and salsas you like. Yes, you could make these from scratch too, but let’s start simple.  For now, buy the sauces and condiments.  There is an array of sauces available depending on your mood: BBQ, Asian peanut, green and red salsas, curries.  Keep a couple of options in your pantry.

Next are the veggies.  Again, we’re keeping this simple for now.  Pick one or two you like that can last a while.  I almost always have broccoli and avocados.  I get carrots and celery as needed (you know, for stir frys or chicken salad).  Seasonally others may show up in my cart like spring asparagus or winter squash for variety.  Onions also go in just about anything.

A few other staples to keep on hand are good quality butter, coconut oil, eggs, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, and good quality salt and pepper.  If you can find these in the grinder jars, even better!  By keeping versatile staples available, meal prep will be so much easier and you can even prep a meal on the fly when the mood strikes.image

To get the most out of your shopping trip  and to keep it as short and painless as possible (you are very busy after all), make a list. If possible, put the list in order of your grocery store layout.  This will keep you from backtracking and ending up with a cart full of items you probably don’t need.  My local store has produce just inside the door, then fresh meats, frozen, pantry, then dairy.  I can usually fill a cart from my list in 10 minutes and I’m outta there!

Lets say you now have all of the ingredients listed above.  What can you do?  The last post gave you a Chicken Enchilada Bake (chicken, salsa, cheese).  This time, let’s go for an Asian Stir Fry (chicken, broccoli, rice). We are keeping this simple, and there’s no need for a wok, so I guess technically it would be a chicken vegetable sauté. Whatever.

Ingredients

  • chicken (estimate 1-2 tenders per person, cut into 1″ chunks)
  • broccoli (about 1/2 cup per person)
  • rice (about 1/2-1 cup cooked per person)
  • soy sauce

Directions

Do yourself a favor and buy a rice cooker.  Rice can be cooked on the stove, but you don’t have time for that, remember? Follow the directions on the bag of rice and your cooker for amounts, typically 1part rice to 2 parts water.  A full pot of rice will take less than 45 minutes and will stay warm until you need it.

Put the rice on and go do some chores, a quick workout, or relax with a cold beverage.  A rice cooker will automatically switch to warming mode when rice is cooked and stay warm until you are ready.  Since the stir fry will only take a few minutes, you now have some time to chill.

Once the rice is cooked, add a table spoon of coconut oil,to a heated frying pan.  Toss in chicken cubes and cook until done (the small cubes will only take a few minutes).  Drizzle soy sauce to taste (go light at first, a little goes a long way and you can always add more).  Turn heat up, add a splash of water and broccoli.  Cover and let steam about 5 minutes.  Serve over or next to rice.

This is a very simple version to get you started.  You can embellish with additional veggies like carrots, onions, and celery.  Toasted sesame oil sprinkled on top after cooking gives a fantastic depth of flavor.  To have this meal during the busy work week, you can cut up the chicken and vegetables beforehand and store in the fridge.  They will then be ready to toss in a pan and ready in 10 minutes.

You can just do vegetables for a vegetarian meal.  You can make a larger portion of meat and veggies and omit the rice for low carb.  Once you get the hang of a basic one-pan meal like this, the sky is the limit on which ingredients you use!

It’s Been A While

July 3, 2016

Yes, this project fell by the wayside.  There are so many activities to keep up with: weaving, spinning, hiking, kayaking, and even work.  This is what got me thinking again.  People are busy. I am busy. You are busy.  Because of this, many young people never learn to cook with whole food ingredients.  Many older people just stopped cooking at all and rely on heat-and-eat meals from the grocery or eating out.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good restaurant meal, especially if it’s at a locally owned and operated, non-chain establishment.  But as busy as we are, real food at home is a necessity. And learning how to cook real food is a crucial life skill.

As busy as we are, it can be done, it just takes a little planning, both at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

When I first started writing and really getting in to cooking, I was working at home and raising my children.  My time was more flexible and without a commute to work, I had a bit more of it. This made for an easier transition to a whole food cooking life.  Now that I’m back in an office with lots of extracurricular interests, my time is limited, but there is still time for cooking and eating well, and that’s what I plan on sharing with you!

For you who have gotten away from home cooked meals due to lack of time and you who are young and just learning how to fend for yourselves in the real world, I have tips and recipes to share to get you (back) in then kitchen and enjoying preparing your own healthy meals.

No more chatter for today, let’s get to a recipe.  One of my favorite stand-bys, Chicken Enchilada Bake.  This is not a traditional enchilada recipe.  In fact, technically it’s not enchiladas at all as there are no tortillas.  It’s just a quick and easy 3 ingredient meal that can be made for one person or six with no extra effort.

Grocery Store Tip:  Purchase large bags of frozen chicken breast tenders (boneless, skinless, not breaded, just chicken). Trader Joe’s sells them in a zip lock bag.  If you only need one or two or six, just throw the rest back in the freezer. They thaw quickly and can be cooked from frozen.

Ingredients

  • chicken tenders (however many you need for the people you are feeding)
  • salsa verde (enough to cover the chicken in a baking dish)
  • Monterey jack (or pepper jack) cheese, shredded

Directions

In a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken in a single layer, place the chicken and cover with salsa.  You want to be able to see the chicken through the salsa, so not entirely covered or you’ll end up with soup.  Cover and bake until chicken is cooked. These don’t take long, maybe 20 minutes for 6-8 tenders if thawed.  A bit longer if frozen.  Remove cover and generously top with cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted.  Voila!  Dinner is served.

Add a side veggie or salad if you like.  Spark it up by seasoning chicken with cumin before baking.  Add extra chilies or chopped sweet peppers.  You can customize this as you wish.