even the best cooks (HA!) need a sabbatical

So I’ve been at this “healthy cooking” shtick for almost a year and I feel like I need a make-over. One can only go on so many rants about: how a diabetic diet should look … that I keep reading FB posts “I don’t have time to cook” … complaints that people don’t know what to cook … and my favorite ‘gripe’ of wanting to feel/look better. Those will never go away.

If you take away ANYTHING from all of my posts, I really hope you’ve realized that healthy cooking/eating isn’t brain surgery.  Stop all of these nonsense “detox diets” – sure they give you immediate gratification but try staying on that diet for more than the suggested 30 days – who can live without carbs, sugar, or alcohol for more than that time? I’m sorry but your brain needs carbs, your body needs sugar, and geeze- I need alcohol come every Friday!  Stop that detox and you’ll balloon right back to what you were before. GUARANTEED. How about changing your lifestyle and maintain a weight loss pattern that you’ll be pleased with for years to come.

I have to say that I get excited when I see another person join the healthy living side of things … IG posts and blogs, you name it; it keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing. I love that there are more healthy cooking shows on my go-to channels (Food Network and Cooking Channel), they give me new ideas every Saturday (when I sit down to plan my weekly menu).

So I’m debating what improvements I can make on my blog for the year to come… The humor is slightly gone of me tripping over my dogs – we’ve moved into a bigger house, our sous chefs can watch from the stairs. There is no annoyance of trying to chop/slice/dice things on 2’x2′ counter space – I now have counter space for days! The frustration of not being able to buy fresh produce due to lack of fridge space or buy meat in bulk due to a freezer that defrosts has erased itself with our amazingly awesome new fridge.  The reason I started my blog was to prove that deliciously tempting and healthy meals could be prepared in the most depressing kitchen.  My new kitchen is far from depressing – I LOVE BEING IN IT!

I’ll continue my nightly #kitchentails posts on IG as I prep for dinner.  I’ll keep my blog-posts coming, they just might not be as frequent.  I’m going to start revisiting our favorite meals which I surely don’t have to post about every few days as I do now. We are going on vacation soon and I have every intention of reporting back to the blogging world about our food intake. I already let y’all know that taking a break on our healthy eating adventures was not a good idea on my last vacation. While I do some soul searching of how to update my blog take a look back and see how I’ve turned our eating habits around in 1 year.  Just remember: YOU CAN DO IT TOO! Have fun and be sure your sense of humor is around too – you’ll need it when a dish doesn’t turn out properly or if something doesn’t taste quite right… get in the kitchen and start experimenting.

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Brinner!

It’s not a term that IHOP made up for their newest commercial… It’s a term clearly made up by college students that when the cafeteria didn’t have anything tempting for dinner, you went directly to the cereal bar. How can you go wrong with cereal? It’s seriously a life saving creation and clearly needs its own triangle on the food pyramid. So you get aquatinted with ‘brinner’ but after 22 y.o. it seems unacceptable to eat only cereal for dinner (my husband will tell you I’m full of lies) … Introduce the frittata. It’s like the rich uncle to a scrambled egg. You can add whatever you want, I picked (actually, Martha) ham, fontina cheese, green beans, and chives.

It’s like a quiche but minus a crust. It’s like an omelette but minus the flipping and folding. It’s way better than scrambled eggs, and it just makes for a hearty meal. Whip up home fries and voila! Brinner is served.

Martha will instruct you to cook using a cast iron skillet but I haven’t made that purchase yet. It’s not necessary so no excuses to not make this… I sautéed everything on the stove and while that was going on, I popped a casserole dish in the oven to heat up. Throw the cooked mixture into the casserole dish, pour in eggs/cheese and it will turn out perfect. Promise*

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It’s pretty funny to see the difference in Josh’s plate vs my plate. That boy eats so much food! His doctor reminded him that he needs to keep up his carb intake because diabetics need that for their brain. Carbs = brain food, in moderation of course. That’s why I chose regular potatoes and made a huge amount of the home fries (more leftovers while I’m out of town). I got on this shopping habit of ‘no carbs’ but that’s what doctors are for, to keep you in check.

As usual dinner didn’t happen on Thursday (hopefully the ingredients are still good for Tuesday!) … We ordered pizza, which I felt bad about since my husband’s friend was over again. Although we didn’t just call Papa John’s, we kept it classy with BJ’s and got 2 yummy pizzas. One they messed up (ordered the 5 meat and asked for jalapeños to be added to 1/2… Yeah well only half got meat and the other only jalapeños. Really?!) we also got a buffalo chicken pizza and it was definitely spicy. It was no Frank’s Red Hot but it was still good.

I’m in Vegas for one more night, I return tomorrow… Back to the daily grind and figuring out my weekly menus. I’d have to say that I’ve enjoyed having a few days off from cooking but I sure do miss it. We all need vacations and while you may think it’s for one reason, it can easily inspire you for another.

Disclaimer
* if you can’t even boil water than this guarantee is void.

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To give thanks … part 1

Author’s note: I wrote this on Thanksgiving Eve … we’re without internet for a few more days but I was feeling the urge to blog.

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How do you prep for a diabetic Thanksgiving and keep traditions going?  I’ve gotten some grief for changing recipes you’d typically see on the table.  My gut feeling tells me that once you actually see what I’m doing, you might be inclined to change your eating habits for next year … or why wait, try it for Christmas.

1 carb count (1 dose of insulin) = 15g of carbs … be shocked as you read some of this info.

Green bean casserole … you know, the one drenched in cream of mushroom soup.
My spin on it: green beans, low sodium vegetable broth, sliced mushrooms, flour (to thicken), and top with a light sprinkle of crunch onions
Classic: 1 carb count/161 calories (per serving)
Diabetic Friendly: 1 carb count/98 calories (per serving)

Sweet potato casserole … you know, the one covered in candied pecans and marshmallows.
My spin on it: twice baked sweet potatoes – brown sugar, cream cheese, and various spices.
Classic:  3 carb counts/326 calories (per serving)
Diabetic Friendly: 2 carb counts/under 200 calories (per serving)

Cream corned / any kind of “gratin” dish / some kind of overloaded veggie with cheese
My spin on it is a huge stretch actually: cheesy mushroom casserole – grits, sliced mushrooms, and topped with shredded cheese.
Classic: creamed corn – 4 carb counts/376 calories … gratin dish – 2 carb counts/360 calories … veggie & cheese – 2 carb count/295 calories (all per serving)
Diabetic Friendly: 2 carb counts/235 calories (per serving)

So those are the sides that I’m whipping up and to keep people from going back for 2nd and 3rd helpings, I’m making 4-6 servings for each recipe (there will be 4 adults eating).  That’s the easiest way to cut your intake – if it’s not there to eat then how can you over-indulge?  My partner in crime (Chelsea) is taking on the task of mac n’ cheese, stuffing, and a few appetizers.  She’s also keeping in mind the 4-6 serving limit and is swapping out some bad ingredients for better choices.  Just to give you an idea: the stuffing calls for apples which are a complete no-no for diabetic folks. She opted for apple & chicken sausage; it calls for sausage anyway so by doing this she cuts out the ground beef too. You might be wondering about the mac n’ cheese; there’s no way to cut corners on this dish.  It is what it is and Josh will only be able to have a spoonful. Not everything can be improved!

At the end of the day Thanksgiving isn’t all about food, we need to be thankful for our family, friends, and health.  The last thing takes on a bigger meaning in this household.  I am thankful for the night I saw a diabetes commercial and forced Josh to see a doctor. I am thankful for my friends who we get to be with on this holiday but I’m also thankful for our long distance friends.  It’s hard to maintain friendships when hundreds of miles separate you but I think we’re all doing a pretty good job. I am thankful for our family, that no matter the distance our parents find a way to visit and they understand (with Josh’s job) it’s easier for them to come to us. Trust me, we sure do wish we could visit Florida and Pennsylvania but give us a few months and we’ll be able to make that happen. 

And to end on a lighter note, please, for the love of God … I hope you watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not the Macy’s Day Parade (unless the Pilgrims had Macy’s, then by all means…).

Tis the season for figgy pudding

With Halloween over we are officially in “Holiday Season” – time to indulge in food, drink, and good cheer … in small doses.   We had guests for the last two weeks which gave us a reality check that we really do need to be careful with how much food we intake.  While all meals were not horribly unhealthy, we just ate a lot of it; we also went through a few more six-packs if you know what I mean.   Restaurants were frequented as well, usually we have 1 date night per week but we went out maybe 2 times each week.  Even though we went on living our daily lives as normal it was hard to not have fun with our friends who just moved here. Yes we have 4 years to enjoy their company but we’ve really missed them the last year, it was good to catch up and hang out like old times.  Those old times are haunting us now, lol!

Josh’s sugar levels were all over the place, some reached 200.  He hasn’t seen those numbers since first diagnosed; he typically sits in the low to mid-100’s.  So even though I kept saying “we’ve been eating bad” – I got the cold shoulder.  I meant ‘bad’ with the concern of his sugar levels, not necessarily greasy or fast food ‘bad’.  This was a good lesson because it’s the first time we’ve had guests at our house [since the diabetes diagnoses] and it really showed us that with the holiday season fast approaching, we do indeed need to be more aware of what we eat while entertaining.   My family will be here for Christmas so you better believe I will be hounding Josh about what he eats; I’ll also do a better job of making just enough food so no one will be tempted with 2 or 3 servings!

On to the goodies we indulged in … man they were delicious.  I don’t regret the flavors of any meal but I sure do regret the amount I ate!

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Who doesn’t love a pretzel bun? It’s pretty much a trend right now and I completely understand why.  A giant soft pretzel that you can put your choice of protein (cheddar sausages for us) on. Hello! You can’t resist. Top that with American cheese, sauerkraut, and ketchup/German mustard, sign me up! We probably could have swapped out the tots & onion rings for a salad … but we didn’t. Talk about carb overload.  Now that we know where to buy these buns, I’m sure they’ll meet our dinner table in the future but making sure Josh doesn’t eat FIVE of them. Yepp.  *This recipe was a revamp courtesy of Chelsea – I’ll def. make it again; a great party/finger food sammie!  Originally planned were hot dogs/whole wheat buns, sweet p tots, and salad. As I started looking in my freezer I decided to clear it out and bake whatever we had.  Hence the salad getting cut, ha.
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Next on the line up: shrimp scampi pizza, 2 crusts: white & wheat. Another meal that doesn’t seem ‘bad’ but with all the butter for the sauce: fat turns into bad sugars.  How can one turn away butter though. I mean, it’s butter. It’s golden brick stature attracts people from afar. Of course you look at Paula Deen and what’s the first thing she cut from most of her recipes when diagnosed with diabetes – BUTTER! The sauce was amazing though, it had so much garlic I actually scared away one vampire that came to trick or treat 😉  No really, you could smell the garlic from our garage door before even entering the house. I loved it.  I’ll need to figure out a way to lighten up Chelsea’s recipe because we need that pizza in our lives.

Speaking of trick or treat … I have never seen so many parents driving along while their kids walked from house to house. Again, San Antonio is the most obese city in AMERICA for a reason. Get out and walk!!!!!

 

This was my Sunday activity:
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HOMEMADE PIEROGIES.  100% homemade in every definition possible.
I personally mashed the potatoes, diced the red onion and mushrooms, hand mixed the dough (Josh had to jump in and finish that), hand rolled the dough, hand cut the pierogi circles, and stuffed almost 3 dozen pierogies.  Josh boiled & pan fried them, kept them warm in a crock pot.  Was the 3 hours worth it to create these little boogers? YEPP!  Yes you read that correct – 3 hours.  I had packed my mixer and I don’t own a pasta thingy. Hey if you want something bad enough you gotta do what you gotta do!  So do you need a $300 Kitchenaid? Nope.  The mixer I have would have worked fine (old school Cuisinart that belonged to my mother); I could have used a hand cranked pasta thingy though, rolling took forever to get it thin enough and the consistency just wasn’t there [from pierogi to pierogi].

After all of that work I asked Josh how come bakers weren’t thin considering the amount of elbow grease goes in to baking … his response: because they eat everything they make. LOL 😉

 

 

 

 

Detox, schmetox. Cleanse, schmeanse.

I read a Facebook post the other day and it was like this person was in my head! Yesterday morning I was reading someone elses post about needing to detox and cleanse their system by cutting sweets.  Maybe there was sarcasm behind the post but since it’s the internet, everything is open to an opinion.  Just because you decide to not eat candy or cupcakes for 30 days it will not cleanse your system.  Think of all the other garbage you eat, seriously, write it down in a food journal… you’ll be surprised at how poorly most of us eat.  Going back to the post that was “in my head” – it was asked what eating healthy or clean meant to people.  Also, that we need to check on what a detox means. With so many people on “health kicks” I agree that the word DETOX is overused.  My version of eating healthy is cutting sugars and carbs, boosting proteins and fibers; three balanced meals (b,l,d) + two small snacks (nuts, yogurt, carrots, an apple).

Most of our fridge is filled with sugar free or fat free items (read the labels though, f.f. can actually have more sugar in it than a ‘regular’ version).  We don’t cook ground beef anymore, only turkey or chicken but it’s not often that we do (don’t worry, we enjoy a steak every once in a while); pork chops is our go-to meat.  Most of our meals are seafood or 100% meatless though. We don’t have an option for a “health kick”; this has to be a life style change.

So, unless you eat cupcakes for every meal, cutting them out for 30 days won’t do much for you. Plus I firmly believe that our bodies need a sweet treat every so often to keep us in check.

Which leads me to my next topic, diabetic desserts. Yeah, those two words don’t belong together! After reading a few diabetic cook books, I was surprised and appalled at what the “author” thought a diabetic dessert was. Basically they made smaller batches of everything or told you to cut thinner pieces of cake.  Really?! Making 12 cookies vs. 30 cookies doesn’t change the amount of sugar you eat; it only changes the amount you use to bake with.  Plus who makes 12 cookies? Don’t waste my time; if I’m going to bake, there better be a butt load of treats in the end. Also, have you ever tried to cut a thin piece of cake? You end up with a blob on your plate; it’s impossible to cut cake THIN.

My new goal is to bake healthier treats that we can enjoy. Josh has the biggest sweet tooth ever and so far my dinners are keeping him happy but I need to figure out a way so he can start having desserts again.  We’ll find out tonight if my first creation will be a keeper… the only unhealthy ingredient is Angel Food Cake (ended up using less than half of it though), everything else is f.f., s.f., or light.  The carbs aren’t bad compared to Marie Callender pies and other bakery items … 31g/serving is fantastic vs 60+g. We’ve tried the s.f. pies from the bakery section, but with only three or four choices they got old real fast.

Here is our delectable treat that has been chilling since last night (don’t mind the chunk of a.f.c. that’s missing… I enjoyed a few extra pieces)

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