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.

roasted

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.

tip21

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.

IMG_6959

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.

IMG_6960
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.

IMG_6961

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!

IMG_6962

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!

IMG_6965

photo-1

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?

Share
Nov 062012
 

Do you have certain foods that you try to ALWAYS have on hand? Recently I wrote a post about foods I don’t buy at the grocery store anymore. Most of it was what you’d imagine: stuff from the bakery, junk food, juices, and processed crap I don’t eat anymore. Well, what about stuff I always buy?

This post is about the food I try to always have on hand. It’s stuff that we eat all the time. I’ve said before that our meals are pretty boring. My snacks are a daily rotation of whatever fruits are in season and dinners are a protein + seasonal veggie. Having something basic like that makes it easy to always have healthy things available. NOT having junk food in the house makes it easier to choose a healthy snack if that’s the only option!

Foods I always have on hand:

CANNED

One of the things the Slow Carb diet taught me (or reminded me of, either way) was how magical beans are. They are so filling, healthy and really versatile. I love having a variety of beans in our pantry because in a pinch, I always have a meal I can make. Our “Mexican salads” are a favorite (salad, veggies, black beans, salsa), quick and easy black bean quesadillas or burritos or enchiladas are also an option. I went through a phase where I put chickpeas on my salads every night. There’s just an endless number of things I can do with beans.

I also have soups available. This works great for me when I’m running late and want to grab something quick and easy for lunch. Tomato soup is my favorite, so I always have a few cans.

Canned pineapple of various types are always in my pantry, too. I like to add some chunks of pineapple to my plain Greek yogurt for a snack. Or as a homemade pizza topping!

Tuna is also in my pantry because I like it (Michael never eats it). I either make tuna salad sandwiches or I add the plain tuna on top of salads for some protein.

Did you see my tip about pickles? Such a good snack to have available!

FRUITS and VEGGIES

We buy our lettuce or spinach at Costco. It’s a huge vat of greens and most of the time we eat it all before it goes bad (sometimes we’re not as good at that). Salads are often my go-to dinner when I’m home alone and don’t feel like cooking, or for a quick lunch at work.

I tend to always buy broccoli. I don’t know why that’s the veggie I always buy but we nearly always have some in the fridge. Dinners are a protein + salad and + steamed veggie (and yes, it’s usually broccoli!).

I’m especially looking forward to Brussels sprouts being back in season again, soon. That’s my new favorite thing. Winter is approaching, so the veggies I am starting to buy and keep handy are things like squash and cauliflower.

For the fruit, I buy whatever is in season. Berry and cherry season is my favorite!

PROTEINS

There are a few things that we always have on hand. In terms of seafood, we ALWAYS have salmon, shrimp and tilapia in the freezer. It works great having something healthy we can quickly defrost and fix for dinner.

Michael buys our chicken, ground turkey and pork chops at Costco and puts them in the freezer. Those usually take some planning to defrost but it’s nice having a complete meal always available. It means we’re less likely to say “dang it, let’s just get pizza.” Tip: the pork chops at Costco are humongous, so cut them in half lengthwise to make a proper portion size AND double the amount of chops you have! The ground turkey is good for turkey burgers (pre-make the patties and freeze them for easy cooking later), taco night, taco salads, enchiladas or turkeyloaf.

OTHER

Some other things we buy at Costco because we eat a lot of it and it’s cheaper to buy it in bulk are eggs, string cheese (easy snacks), plain Greek yogurt and hummus.

Make it Easy For You to Make Good Choices

I can’t stress enough how much it has helped me NOT having trigger foods in my house and always having healthy options around. This is not to say there are not days when I grab some tortilla chips instead of Greek yogurt and fruit, but I do my best. When you get used to having healthy foods in the house, it becomes a habit and not really a hard choice to grab that apple or string cheese.

QUESTION: What are some things you try to always have available in your house?

Share