Feb 242015
 

veggies

Lately I’ve been craving vegetables like crazy. I’ve always been a fan of veggies but for some reason I recently started craving them. I made a switch in my diet and started incorporating more veggies in my diet to satisfy that craving and I found that I was really enjoying roasted vegetables for lunch during the week.

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I’ve been rotating what I roast. For awhile I was doing carrots, onions, broccoli and pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. Then I did carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and onions. I don’t know why it took me so long to roast these babies. They are so good! I use a little bit of olive oil or the spray-on coconut oil from Trader Joe’s, then use salt, pepper and the Costco no-salt seasoning. That’s about it! And they come out delicious, perfectly cooked (although the sweet potatoes are often a little softer than the rest of the veggies).

This has been a base for my lunches at work lately. I love it! I tried it with some rice; for a few days I added some half a cooked spicy bratwurst (splitting one brat between two lunches); I also tried adding some cooked cubed chicken. All of those variations worked well and kept me fairly full for the rest of the afternoon.

One of the problems with the frozen meals (Lean Cuisines, etc) was that I would be hungry again in 1-2 hours after eating lunch. Then I’d start snacking on the candy at work. I was sabotaging myself by eating processed food that wasn’t filling, wasn’t enough calories and just made me hungry.

A tip that I learned a long time ago was to spend 1 hour doing food prep after grocery shopping. I am so glad I adopted this habit. I get home from the store and I take the time to chop the vegetables and on Sunday nights Michael and I cook up various meats (like pork sausage for breakfasts for the week, chicken breasts for lunches, etc). It makes it so much easier to make a good choice when looking to make something to eat quickly.

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One night Michael and I went out for a date night dinner to Laughing Planet. It’s a great restaurant, especially if you have kids. They have tons of really healthy options, a rotating menu and they post the nutritional information for the meals. You also have the option to put your burrito in a bowl to make it low-carb.

laughingplanet

I ended up ordering the daily special. It was called the “Winter’s Bounty Bowl.” It was pulled pork with Korean BBQ sauce, spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts on top of a butternut squash puree. Then it was topped with an apple, ginger and mango relish. It was SO good! And it was really filling. I am totally going to try and recreate this recipe at home soon!

Back to lunches…I’ve been trying to look for some recipes and ideas for other lunch options. I’ve collected a few. Here is one:

Carrot Coconut Curry Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 204

From: http://www.acouplecooks.com/2014/09/carrot-coconut-curry-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Peel and mince 1 tablespoon ginger. Peel and chop 4 cups carrots.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, carrots, and 2½ cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. When the carrots are soft, carefully blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender) until the carrots are smooth.
  5. Return the carrot mixture to the pot and add 1 can coconut milk and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. Stir until well blended. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes if desired.
  7. Notes: Slightly adapted from Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45882

I recently had the Thai carrot soup at Whole Foods from their soup/salad bar and it was OMG AMAZING. I immediately tried to find the recipe because I had to make it myself. I didn’t find one specifically from Whole Foods but I found a bunch of options and settled on this one to try first. It was super easy to make and didn’t have a ton of ingredients. The only thing I changed: I used the Light Coconut Milk instead of the full fat like the recipe said. It’s what I had on hand and honestly,  I didn’t want the extra calories from the full-fat version.

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One thing I’ve learned making Asian dishes–never add extra salt. A lot of recipes call for a pinch or two of salt (sometimes more). But if you’re using jars of curry paste, or chili paste, or other Asian ingredients from a can/jar/package–IT ALREADY HAS SALT! And sometimes a lot of it. I learned that lesson the hard way and now I almost never add salt to recipes I make when using these ingredients. It’s just not necessary.

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I cooked everything up and let it simmer for awhile and then used my immersion blender to get the soup creamy. I love that blender! It’s so easy to use and it works really well. Plus I don’t have to mess with pouring things into a blender and then spilling it all over the place. So much cleaner and easier. I blended up the carrot mixture until it was the consistency of baby food then I added the curry paste and coconut milk.

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The one downside of the immersion blender–I did get splattered a few times when I used the fast speed. Ooops! After everything was all mixed in I let it simmer for 10 minutes and then tasted it. It needed a little something…I added a pinch of Splenda and then tasted it again. I added one more pinch of Splenda and then it was perfect. I hadn’t expected having to add sweetener because carrots are already so sweet but the soup was just a tad on the bitter side. The Splenda fixed that right up and the soup was perfect!

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I got 5 GENEROUS servings out of this recipe instead of 4, which made the calories more like 165 calories instead of 200+. This could have easily been 6 servings for dinner–with maybe some crunchy French bread and a salad. The soup was creamy and the texture was perfect. It was also surprisingly spicy!

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I loved the soup. It was SO CLOSE to the Whole Foods recipe. I’m not sure where it’s different. I need to have the WF version again. I’m sure they used fresh ginger (I used powdered) and they probably used the full fat coconut milk. Maybe those small changes made the difference? I’m not sure but I loved my version. It was tasty and filling, low in calories and spicy!  Yum! Yum! I also had a bunch of leftovers for work lunches. Perfect!

What are your favorite veggie recipes?

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Jan 282015
 

Spaghetti squash is one of my new favorite meals in our rotation. We had it a few years ago in place of spaghetti noodles and then for some reason, didn’t eat it again for a long time. The last 6 months or so we’ve been having spaghetti squash on a regular basis. At least twice a month.

The traditional method we’ve been doing was using it in place of noodles and having marinara sauce and meatballs. It’s been a tasty, filling meal for not a lot of calories. Recently I wanted to try a new recipe I found and I had a spaghetti squash already so I gave it a try. Here is the recipe:

Garlicky Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

Calories per serving: Around 250 calories

From: http://theseasalt.com/2013/11/05/garlicky-broccoli-and-spaghetti-squash/

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 head broccoli, washed at cut into medium florets
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • EVOO
  • 1 cup stock (veg or chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or parmesan)

Instructions

  1. To cook squash:
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Cut squash in to quarters (lengthwise and then width)
  4. Place in large pan filled with 1/2 inch water, cut side up (don’t want domes)
  5. Cook 35-40 mins
  6. Let rest until it is cool enough to handle, then shred in to a large bowl.
  7. Season with S&P and drizzle with olive oil.
  8. Top with your choice of cheese, and mix in so that cheese begins to melt (If squash isn’t hot anymore, just give it all a good turn in the microwave).
  9. To cook Broccoli
  10. Meanwhile, in a large pan coated with olive oil, saute garlic over medium-high heat for about 1 min stirring continuously.
  11. Add broccoli and saute for 3 mins stirring constantly, making sure not to burn garlic.
  12. Add 1 cup stock and continue to saute over medium heat until broccoli is tender and most of liquid is absorbed. (About 10-12 more mins)
  13. Season broccoli with S&P.
  14. Serve broccoli over a bowl of the spaghetti squash and enjoy!
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45688

It sounded amazing to me. I love garlic. The more the better. This was a new method of cooking broccoli for me and I really enjoyed it. I did change the recipe a tad because I though the garlic would burn if I cooked it first. Instead I cooked the broccoli first, then added the garlic, then the chicken broth. I cooked it down while the squash was baking.

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I loved this broccoli! It was SO good! The garlic was perfect and everything tasted so great. I baked the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the no-salt Costco seasoning. Because of this I didn’t need to add salt and pepper to the broccoli.

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Michael baked two chicken breasts (just seasoned with salt and pepper) to go with the squash and that was a good call because the dinner is super low in calories. I chopped up the baked chicken and tossed the “noodles” with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Really, the calories in this dish come from the cheese I think. We split a chicken breast.

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The dinner itself is less than 400 calories total. It’s a super low calorie, super healthy dinner and I felt satisfied and full. I didn’t feel like I was deprived because it was low in calories. This is one of my favorite new recipes we’ve tried lately and I will be making this dish on a regular basis. It can be vegetarian, or with chicken and I think shrimp would also work really well with this recipe. I can’t wait to make it again!

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