Taking a day off …

No that doesn’t mean we’re going out to eat tonight … my husband is in the kitchen whipping up his famous chili! While it may only be famous in this house it is pretty yummy and I’m sure it could win an award. Beans and meat make a chili, please don’t argue with that. If it’s only meat then it may as well be spaghetti sauce; if it’s only beans then it’s a soup. GROSS. I just love that I don’t have to lift a finger for today’s dinner. What a blessing 🙂 As I type this he is wandering around the kitchen looking for things … so I’ll just direct from the couch as I sip my morning coffee. Today he picks up a flight so it’s a slow cooker dinner since we don’t know when he’ll be called in to work.

As for the last week, he got to grill a few more times before going back to his hectic schedule.

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Teriyaki pork chops, rice, and egg rolls … I decided to make my own marinade to control the ingredients and boy am I glad that I did! The recipe called for 3/4 cup of sugar which surprised me and after finding a few other recipes I saw they all called for sugar. Of course we don’t use real sugar so I did a quick look on my Stevia conversion chart: 1 cup of sugar = 1 tsp of Stevia. HOLY COW! It’s such a drastic decrease. Do yourself a favor and make the switch (if you can eat Stevia) – stop consuming so much sugar – GROSS!
1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water, just under 1 tsp Stevia, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp white vinegar, 3 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, just under 1 tsp ginger (I used powder, it called for fresh) … mix and pour over chops, let marinate for at least 30 minutes – I let them sit for maybe 5 hours.
Easy sides: 5 minute white rice, I put a few dashes of soy sauce on it and frozen egg rolls. How easy is that?! It was so good and even better since the chops were grilled. YUM!
IMG_8040 Not a grill night … just enjoying a glass of wine after a crazy day. Of course McLane had to be in the picture. These nights about about to be a rarity with my husband’s leadership class ending however that will make them even more special.

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I loosely followed this recipe by Giada for sausage and peppers … I think the marsala wine made the difference. It’s a keeper!  My husband helped make the side, squash and zucchini cakes (baked not fried, thank you Paula…). DO NOT USE a ton of salt, parmesean cheese is salty enough. We dipped the caked in the juice left behind from the hoagies, so good!

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The intended dinner was to be fajitas but that idea quickly faded when the peppers and avocado had gone bad 😦 So when life hands you chicken and onions … you make tacos! My husband asked for pickled onions which is super easy and added flavor to the chicken because other fajita seasoning, I had nothing, lol! I used leftover chicken pieces and let them sit (seasoned) for the day, bake and it’s done. As always, Mexican rice as a yummy side.

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I’m always looking for new pasta dishes and found this one on Pinterest, of course mine turned out nothing like the blog however it was pretty good. Yes it looks like a pile of poo-poo but I’m a home cook and who really has time for pretty presentations?

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Another popular dinner, pork chops – this time stuffed with blue cheese and topped with pears. I couldn’t find thick cut chops at the store so picked up butterflied chops, put a spoonful of cheese in the center, and tied the chops shut. Easy. The pears go in after to soak up all of the juices from the meat. Buy a steam bag of veggies and dinner is complete.IMG_8092

A super simple “gratin” also known as a casserole, lol. Mushrooms, potatoes, turkey sausage, and swiss cheese. This was a great diabetic friendly dish since there was no sauce (which is where most the “bad stuff” hides in a recipe). Mushrooms contain so much moisture that when cooked down and all of the seasonings have time to mix it flavors the entire dish.

Last but not least, mozzarella stuffed meatballs! There’s no recipe for this … it’s pretty basic.IMG_8097

Italian seasoned ground turkey, I added bread crumbs and an egg. Portion out a sch-medium meatball, flatten it, place a DRIED OFF moz ball in the center, and roll up! Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes (while the pasta boils/cooks) and dinner is ready.

So in the time that I wrote this post my husband got dinner ready and in the slow cooker. The house smells amazing and I can’t wait for some yummy chili. Sorry folks, he doesn’t follow a recipe … honestly! He tosses stuff in the slow cooker and it always comes out amazing. It’s a bit different each time and I think that’s what I like most about it. You never know just how yummy it will be, 5pm can’t come soon enough!

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You’ve been fooled!

I’ve been pondering on what my next rant should be … Lays brought back their new flavor contest – cappuccino flavored potato chips? God we  (Americans) are such fatties! Eating that chip screams “I’m too lazy to drive to Starbucks and pay $8 for a cappuccino but let me get to the store and buy a bag of greasy potato chips”.  I bet you raved to your friends on the money you saved with your smart purchase.; your cholesterol is hating you right now though.

Hhmmmm… something that caught our (me and my husband) attention, the other day we saw 2 very large women who were wearing work out clothes (it’s up for debate if that was their choice stretchy outfit for the day or if they were actually coming from/going to work out) anyway, they came out of Jamba Juice, which is described as a ‘health focused chain for fruit smoothies’, with the largest smoothie size the store offers.  It appeared to be a red smoothie, so I’m guessing something containing strawberries.  Let’s say it was the Razzmatazz smoothie: 500 calories … if they opted for the “make it light” version then they are coming in at 310 calories although the sodium doubles.  Let that sink in, 500 calories is usually 1/3 of someone daily caloric intake, someone who eats healthy I should add.  These women surely eat over 2,000 calories a day – fast food for every meal (there was a McDonald’s cup in the cup holder… so yeah, I’m gonna guess they frequent fast food establishments) + a 500 calorie smoothie will get you to 2,000 calories faster than you can blink an eye.  It’s so disgusting that this store is claiming to be healthy.  Why even offer something that is 500 calories? How about make those smoothies but only in the smallest size, still 290 or ‘make it light’ 180; that’d be doing the general public a better service. While these women may think they are being healthy the store has them fooled; makes me shake my head.

Fruit contains a high percentage of natural sugars; people who aren’t diabetic don’t have to worry about such a thing but take a step back and see what you’re snacking on or drinking … just because your grocery cart is all blueberries, apples, watermelon, carrots, etc. doesn’t mean you’re ‘doing it right’. Check the nutritional info on those items you will be shocked at the carbs/calories/sugars/fats.  So that “sugar free” apple pie you’ve been eying – yeah, it’s not really sugar free.  The baker may not have added extra sugar but apples have enough natural sugars to make a yummy pie all on their own.  Think about that the next time you tell yourself “it’s okay to eat that, it says sugar free”.  Your intentions are in the right place but read the nutrition label and educate yourself.

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Ahh, I feel better after that! On to some yummy recipes that you should try.

 

I made the best meatballs last week … after making them I don’t know how many times, I have finally, scientifically, come up with the yummiest recipe.

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I used ground mild Italian sausage, a precooked & cooled quinoa/yellow onion mixture, panko, FRESH garlic & shallots, s/p to taste.  I used to do ground pork and other spices (a recipe I found on pinterest) but I began to change things and wound up with this beauty.  It seems silly but a perfectly season meatball just hits the spot.

What else… ah, my husband loved this one, a sweet potato and black bean “burrito” or wrap.  We had plenty leftover for a few lunches.  When we ran out of wraps the mixture went into a bowl and sprinkled some cheese, it was good on its own. A vegan meal and the meat wasn’t even missed!

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Of course, as promised, a meal honoring Elvis (I posted about it on my instagram account) – as August is the month he passed away in.  How does one make an “Elvis meal” healthy … I’m pretty sure he was prediabetic but never knew it. Come on, he was pretty large at the time he died. Love him anyway, he’s the king. I have a cook book of his favorite meals “Are You Hungry Tonight?”.
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Click on the photos of the recipes to enlarge them.
HERE ARE MY CHANGES
SOUP: 2% milk, doubled the celery and onions, low sodium broth, I left the potato skins on since they do contain some vitamins
There’s not much you can change about the soup, it was freaking delish though.
BLT & CHEDDAR SANDWICH: the smallest amount of mayo possible, romaine lettuce (we almost used spinach but it had gone bad 😦 ), turkey bacon, whole wheat bread; make sure you look for the label “WHOLE WHEAT” not just “WHEAT” – yes, there’s a difference.
We toasted the bread, plain, then stacked the ingredients.

We wanted to have classic comfort food but we know that comes with regret, do what you can to swap ingredients but keeping the integrity of the meal.  That was such a yummy dinner, indulging every once in a while won’t hurt you.

So we all have those “need to clear the fridge” days, right? When you have a few items that are about to go bad and you really don’t want to toss them, that was last week for me.  Eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and the end of some salsa.  Well, I whipped together an easy brunch.

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I’m ready for tonight’s dinner … a 3 cheese pizza topped with turkey bacon and caramelized onions. YUM!

 

EAT HEALTHY! BE HEALTHY! THINK HEALTHY!

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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what happens in Vegas …

Sous Chef Geno has been getting the royal treatment lately.  He got into some trash (not our doing or fault… don’t get me started, I have the issue under control and have spoke to the appropriate people) and hasn’t been feeling or acting like himself. 3 trips later [to the vet] and slowly his usual cuteness is returning. The royal treatment per meal: 2 spoon fulls of pumpkin pie filling, 1 tummy ache pill, 1 steroid, and 1 pro-biotic … plus us having the pleasure of watching him go to the bathroom. I know I know, this is close to TMI (especially for a food blog) but I started off mentioning all of this because a dog eating trash and getting sick was similar to us eating crap … resulting in not feeling well. Could it be a metaphor for life? Maybe. STOP EATING TRASH! What’s that saying… you are what you eat? I think it totally holds true.

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So I’m home from Vegas and I’ll tell you what, I went against everything I’ve been working hard at since last year – eating right, not eating as much, etc. I did manage to not snack although it was tempting. You’re on vacation and you think “I can cheat”. DON’T DO IT. You’ll thank me later! I cheated, big time. I had fast food, sweets, soda, and mega-carbs. You name it, I ate it. Boy did my stomach hate me (maybe I could have used some of Geno’s pills.. JUST KIDDING. Chill). It was all so delish though! Geeze did I miss the flavor of grease and the sweetness of real sugar. Then again, I ended up with massive headaches and my guilt kicking in. The next vacation I really do need to stick to my new eating habits, not feeling well for 4 days while I was supposed to be enjoying time off, was definitely not worth it. Listen, in moderation I think all of things are okay but not jammed packed, back to back for each meal, 4 days straight.

Okay, okay – I’ll give you menu for this past week.  Thank you for sitting through my venting.

Tuesday- Zucchini Lasagna.
“When you said zucchini lasagna I didn’t know you meant no noddles” Josh. Who didn’t listen when I explained that this zucchini lasagna used NO NODDLES; the zucchini becomes the layer separation. Which also means he took too much insulin because he thought there’d be a lot of carbs. I did serve garlic bread though to help balance veggies vs. carbs but it wasn’t enough; he went hunting in the fridge for more food. MEN! 😉

This is not a vegetarian lasagna, it calls for ground beef (I used turkey). I’m sure you could remove the meat because there are a ton of veggies in it, or just double what the recipe says and there will plenty of “sauce” to add between the layers.

My dish did not come out as pretty as the allrecipes.com post, of course. It’s incredibly messy but it was sooooooo good! Bit of a change to the recipe: I forgot the thaw the spinach so it didn’t get added. Oh well. I honestly ran out of stacking space so it worked in my favor (Take out the meat and use spinach? You’d have the room for it). I think next time I might grill the zucchini (on the g.f.), the dish needed structure which stiffer/thicker noodles typically provide. By grilling, I’d think that it’d firm the veggies, giving it more structure instead of just slopping onto my plate.

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Wednesday was a slow cooker repeat, our favorite enchilada meal. I used baby shrimp this time around – so good! I love that recipe, it’s the easiest and tastiest. I didn’t double it, just made enough for one night. Thursday had shrimp planned again and I didn’t want insane leftovers of shrimp dishes although my husband wouldn’t care. He’s my garbage disposal after all!

Thursday brought on a new recipe via Paula Deen which we all know means there was a TON of butter in the recipe. I cut it by half and you wouldn’t know the difference (my arteries did and thanked me).  This was my best creation yet. I’m still trying to figure out the correct amount of s & p to use; I know that sounds ridiculous but I honestly can’t get it right! It’s either too much and I feel like I’m licking a brick of salt or there’s not enough and I may as well be eating cardboard. Cooking takes work on balancing spices, keep at it and one day, voila, success! I wanted to go back for seconds but I knew better. ImageImageImage

To make eating easier, I cut all of the shrimp tails off PRIOR to cooking. I don’t feel like working for my meal … either way I’d cut them, may as well do it before I sit down. On top of the called for ingredients I added my last zucchini, rather use it than toss it! You can add any veggie to this, at least that’s my opinion. We have leftovers which I’ll be enjoying tonight – Josh is off to Austin for a JROTC competition, only 1 night so he won’t get to enjoy that weird city (so many great food options out there!). 

That’s my week, feel free to wear it [the recipes] out! Bonus: my tummy is almost back to normal. I think my body absorbed more than I thought…

P.S. that enchilada recipe was my first pin on Pinterest … what was yours? Comment below! Also, how many of you actually make the things you pin? Sure, I have my “one day” kind of board, like artwork I’d love to create or furniture I’d love to own … but I stay true to my “yum-o” board. I’ve cooked almost everything pinned.

Don’t forget my IG food tags #kitchentails to see my current cooking adventures!!

 

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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