Categories
Food

Art of Disguise: Sneaking Vegetables Into a Carb-Lover’s Diet

I might as well be watching Game of Thrones, blasting EDM and owning a cat I so hardly recognize myself: for the last several months, I’ve eaten ZERO vegetables. (Fine, zero may be an overstatement, but it’s been capped at, like, six total bites.)

Once a staple of my diet – I’ve literally been known to call kale chips my favorite food – vegetables have totally lost their luster for me this winter. And you can’t really blame me: New York City isn’t particularly known for its farm-fresh produce this time of year.

The farmers’ markets have been hawking nothing but cabbage, onions and last fall’s potatoes, and the perfect summer tomato is still a full fiscal quarter away. (Don’t @ me. I know its actually a fruit.) I even asked my west coast bestie to stop sending me salad recipes calling for “fresh spring greens” out of crippling jealousy. Bib lettuce may be paving the streets of San Francisco but it’s still an unattainable luxury in this concrete jungle where it definitely doesn’t yet feel like May.

But I’m wearing my spring bandana!

But (wo)man cannot live on carbs/meat/dairy/fruit alone, and I know I’ve got to find a way to add more veggies into my diet whether or not the arugula seeds I planted in my upstate garden ever poke through. Even if the off-season variety is boring as all heck, they’re still crucial for the fiber, nutrients and reduced risk of chronic diseases they provide, and I’ve got to convince myself to eat some.

So I’ve been doing everything I can to add more vegetables into my diet, or — let’s be honest — treating myself like a four year old in a bid to disguise all the healthy stuff I’m sneaking past my lips. For example:

  • To trick myself into eating carrots, I made this “carrot cake” smoothie, which, weirdly, was surprisingly good.

  • To trick myself into eating cauliflower, I made this cauliflower-crust pizza, which would have been better covered in pepperoni and/or build on top of a real pizza crust.

  • To trick myself into eating kale and sweet potatoes, I doused my Dig Inn “salad” in mac and cheese (no regrets.) 

Fortunately, my local upstate farmers’ market reopens on Sunday after a dark four-month hiatus, and hopefully it inspires me to love green things all over again. But in the meantime, at least I’ve been getting my green in other ways…

How do YOU sneak more vegetables into your meals?

Categories
Food Recipes

The Incredible, Edible Egg Substitute

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the older I get, the more affinity I find with Disney villains.

  • Like Scar, I have less patience for idiots.
  • Like Shan-Yu, I’ve conquered Mongolia.
  • Like Cruella, I like to be covered in dog fur.

But the bad guy whose characteristics I’ve most embodied isn’t Hook (though I also hate ticking clocks) or the Queen of Hearts (though I’m also bad at croquet) or Snow White’s evil stepmom (though I also choose my apples carefully.) The villain I most resemble these days is none other than provincial French playboy Gaston.

Why, you ask? Because I. Eat. So. Many. Eggs. (Don’t worry, I skipped the rampant misogyny part.)

If you haven’t watched Beauty and the Beast recently (cough cough fool), I’ll remind you that a line in Gaston’s big showstopper goes a little something like this:

“When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs

Ev’ry morning to help me get large.

And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs

So I’m roughly the size of a barge!”

Gaston’s 60 eggs a day IS a bit excessive, but I’m definitely eating more than that each month. While in childhood my egg consumption peaked around Easter time and Sunday morning breakfasts, my adult self has found eggs aren’t just for special occasions. At about 70 calories apiece, they’re packed with six grams of protein plus iron and nutrients, so if you don’t have cholesterol problems or follow a vegan lifestyle, they’re a great, inexpensive way to fuel up.

I eat eggs all sorts of ways — quiches, breakfast burritos, over grain bowls, mixed into cookie dough — but most of my eggs are made into veggie frittatas. No normal person has time to fry up an omelet before work, but you can cook a 10-egg frittata on Sunday night, cut it into five pieces, and heat it up at work for an easy, protein-packed breakfast on the go.

That’s what I’ve been doing every single Sunday since I finished Whole 30 more than a year ago, and it’s helped me avoid the sugar-laden cereal wall at work and start my days on a positive note. So imagine my horror when I opened the fridge last past Sunday to find the egg drawer bare.

I debated a grocery run, but with no cash in my wallet and a lonely bernese begging me to stay home, I decided to forgo my normal Sunday routine and search for something else protein-packed for my weekday breakfasts instead. I dug through my fridge drawers looking for chicken sausage or smoked salmon or anything remotely resembling an egg, but the only protein source I found was a block of extra-firm tofu.

Challenge accepted.

Although the tofu didn’t do much for Lucille, some quick googling revealed vegans have been making breakfast dishes with soybean curd for decades. Like eggs, tofu is high in protein and low in calories, making it a good base for my emergency mock frittata.

After draining it (note: something it took me years to understand was critical to proper tofu preparation), I added some soy sauce and cornstarch and spread it into a cast iron pan already full of caramelized onions, sautéed peppers and — fine — several tablespoons of bacon grease. (Hey, I said it was vegan inspired, not vegan.) Then I moved it to the oven to finish, like I would a traditional frittata.

Voila.

It may not look like much — tofu frittatas don’t look very yellow unless you add turmeric — but it tasted delicious. Sure, that was probably mostly due to the bacon grease and roasted peppers, but I’ll take whatever wins I can get.

Have you ever worked tofu into your diet in surprising ways?

Categories
Food

Chicken Broth, Part Deux

Congratulations! You’ve now made your own chicken stock!

(That is, assuming you treat my blog like a life coach and did exactly what I suggested in last week’s post. And if you DO do everything I recommend in my blog, you should probably rethink your life choices… and return that golden doodle you stole.)

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“Nah, I’m cool here.”

But really, this is the question I find myself grappling with every time I make homemade chicken stock. Now that I have it, what do I DO with it?

We all know chicken stock is great for us — it aids digestion, it’s rich with minerals, it helps beef up immunity against colds — but finding ways to use it beyond chicken noodle soup sometimes takes a little creative thinking. Fortunately, I’ve done it for you. Hashtag you’re welcome.

Here are a few ways I use up a big batch of broth, and I’m open to all your additional recipes and suggestions, because lord knows I can always use more.

  1. Cook a giant batch of grains in it. We’re talking risotto, rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, bulgar, kamut, sorghum, boogabooga, or any number of other funny-named foodstuffs that are now in vogue. [Note: One of the words in that list is made-up. The rest are, amazingly enough, real words.] A big batch of quinoa cooked in broth tastes a million times more interesting than a batch cooked in water.
  2. Boil up some lentils. The UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, and for good reasons: these little nutritional powerhouses are packing a healthy punch. Dried lentils are some of the most economic and greenest protein sources out there, so throw them into a pot of broth with a bay leaf and some spices, and let them amaze you.
  3. Make some soup. But it doesn’t have to be chicken noodle! This butternut squash/pear soup from my mama’s repertoire is a delicious way to put your homemade broth to good use. Or try this paleo sausage and kale soup, which has graced our kitchen table at least forty-five times this winter.
  4. Freeze it. When in doubt, load your broth into freezable containers and deal with it later. In addition to freezing cup and quart size batches, I also recommend freezing an ice cube tray worth of chicken broth. You can defrost these tiny portions quickly for when you need to deglaze a pan or braise greens or want to make a miniature bowl of soup for a mouse.

How do you put your wholesome chicken broth to good use? “I use it to lure away unsuspecting golden doodles” is a fair answer.

 

Categories
Food

Taking Stock (Well, Making Stock)

Anyone can make something from something. It’s making something from nothing that really impresses me.

That, and octopuses that can unscrew themselves from the inside of jars. You gotta admit that’s impressive, even with the eight-leg advantage.

When I say making something from nothing, I’m not talking about Kardashian careers or some dubious reporting on the worldwide web. I’m talking about making chicken stock.

For years, I purchased my chicken stock in tin cans from the local grocery store, aware that my recipes called for it but unaware that the store bought stuff wasn’t always so great. Often high in sodium and full of chemicals, commercially produced chicken stock isn’t necessarily the nutritional powerhouse I thought it was. If you don’t believe me, check out this ingredient list from Swanson, including MSG and corn syrup solids. Mmmm. Hydrolyzed soy protein.

stock

As I became more aware of where my food comes from and why that matters, I started to make my own chicken stock. At first, I followed recipes from the internet that called for virgin ingredients like a pound of chicken wings, or a bag of carrots, or eight stalks of celery or two sliced carrots. Some even called for an entire, uncooked chicken, no joke.

But then I realized that that was a huge waste. Why use perfectly good food to make chicken stock when you can make something just as wholesome and nutritious using the (read: free) food scraps that you produce in the normal course of cooking anyways?

That’s right, folks: you can make stock totally out of leftovers, and your tastebuds won’t even know the difference. (Though your wallet will.) Here’s how it works:

1. Put an empty gallon sized ziplock bag in your freezer.

2. Every time you use an onion in your kitchen, add the onion skins and scraps to the ziplock bag. Every time you use celery in a recipe, add the leftover hearts and leaves to the bag. Every time you peel a carrot, add the peelings to the bag. (Though I mostly just wash my carrots, instead of peeling them, but that’s a blog post for another day.) In my experience, here are the veggies whose scraps are worth saving:

  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • celery
  • onions/leeks/scallions/chives/shallots aka all the alliums
  • winter squash
  • herb stems, especially the ones Simon & Garfunkel sing about
  • mushroom stems, though not the ones Led Zeppelin sings about
  • potatoes
  • garlic
  • corn cobs (seriously)

Skip anything really fragrant (I’m not mad about fennel or broccoli, for example), or anything close to rotting (don’t forget you’re going to eat the results), but most anything else is worth experimenting with. If you do a lot of cooking, you’ll be amazed at how quickly that bag fills up.

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Onion skins! Thyme stems! Parsnip ends! Oh my!
3. On the day after you’ve roasted a bird, or bought a rotisserie chicken, or somehow come across a bag of bones some other [legal] way, put the picked bones into a large pot. If you don’t eat meat, skip this step and just use the veggies.

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Bonus points if you can convince your chef friend to carve it for you.
4. Add the frozen veggie scraps – several cups worth, hopefully – and anything else flavorful you have hanging around, like a few black peppercorns, a bay leaf or some garlic cloves. Skip the salt for now.

5. Cover the bones and scraps with cold water. I always add a splash of vinegar at this point, since I heard once it helps extract more nutrients from the bones, but I’ve never fact checked this and don’t intend to start today.

6. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook on low uncovered for at least an hour, but go for 2-3 if you have the time and all your liquid hasn’t evaporated.

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P.S. Everyone should register for a Le Creuset stock pot. I freaking love this thing.
7. Strain the broth (I pour into the sink through a colander into a bowl to catch the liquid below) and throw away the bones/veggies, which have now been leached of their nutrients and aren’t worth reusing again.

8. Once the broth is cool enough to handle, I recommend pouring into 1-cup freezer containers that can be defrosted easily when you know you’ll need it. Other people store in plastic bags, which lie flat, but I’m not that fancy. Or, if you don’t want to freeze it for later use, cook with it immediately!

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#storagesolutions
And, of course, step 9: Wonder why you’ve been buying chicken stock all this time when it’s so easy/cheap/hand-off to make yourself.

Do you make your own chicken stock? I’d love to hear from a convert who has finally taken the plunge!

Categories
Food Recipes

Ho-Ho-How to Avoid Santa’s Belly

Growing up, I never thought I had a sweet tooth. Sure, I liked Klondike bars with the rest of the 80s kids (and I guess I’ve already revealed my propensity for cereal) but set me free in a candy shop and I’d usually gravitate not toward the jelly beans but to the single bag of salt and vinegar potato chips up by the register.

Salt, not sweet, has traditionally been my flavor of choice, so it’s been strange to me that in the weeks since the wedding, I simply can’t stop craving sugar.

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Mine! All mine!

Normally my survival strategy for avoiding unhealthy foods is to just keep them out of my reach: the old “no cookies in the house, no cookies in my belly” diet routine. But there’s one time of year when that’s simply not an option, and it’s upon us: The holidays!

Nutrition bloggers the whole internet over will give you tips for keeping your sugar intake down between Advent and Epiphany, and I’ve even joined them in holiday seasons past. Some of the tips are good ones, like avoiding non-special holiday food (i.e. tree-shaped pretzels) you can eat any time of year, but other tips, like not even letting baked goods into your home, simply don’t make sense.

Why, you ask? Because I like baked goods! And I like holiday flavors! And I like sugar! And if someone gifts you a plate of homemade cookies, you’d be a real Grinch to decline.

That said, there are ways to have your cake and eat it too, or — since that idiom never made any sense — have your holiday treats and keep them from being total and utter sugar bombs. How, you ask? Cook them yourself.

Now I know between all the wrapping and caroling and decking the halls you won’t have time to bake all the holiday classics alone, but even opting to bring one (slightly) lighter dish to your next seasonal fête can be a smart move in waistline preservation. And that doesn’t always mean starting with a Cooking Light recipe. Sometimes, with a little practice and experimentation, you can take a traditionally heavy recipe and lighten it up with a few key substitutes.

When choosing what dessert recipe to make, I always look for three things:

  1. Can I swap out any of the white flour for whole wheat flour?
  2. Can I swap out any of the vegetable oil or butter for applesauce or yogurt?
  3. Can I find a way to incorporate fruit or nuts, even if they aren’t in the original recipe?

Now I know some bakers are turning in their graves, because these swaps won’t work for every dish. Some delicate nibbles would get too heavy with whole wheat flour, and some classic cookies wouldn’t crisp up without good old fashioned butter. But other recipes are pretty forgiving of swaps like these, especially bars and loafs with a little more give.

Take, for instance, the gingerbread I made last weekend from a Food & Wine recipe:

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Thanks, F&W! Copyright here.

I was first drawn to it because it already meets requirement three — it includes fruit. And since it’s in loaf form, I knew it would take more kindly to swapping out half of the flour for whole wheat flour. (I chose to do a mix to keep it from getting too dense while also getting most of the fiber and nutrition the wheat variety brings.) Canola oil is already one of the healthier vegetable oils, sporting low saturated fat content and some Omega-3 fatty acids, so I only swapped half of it — substituting one 1/4 cup for the same volume of unsweetened applesauce. And obviously, I kept the sugar content at full tilt. I’m not a monster.

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Bonus view of my new country house kitchen!

Now I didn’t remember to take a photo of the end product, but it was delicious indeed. And while no one could argue it was the healthiest dessert, knowing that some wholesome goodness went into it made me feel a little less guilty about having a slice of gingerbread smothered with beef stroganoff for breakfast the next morning. (No, I’m not pregnant; I just have unique tastes in food.)

It’s only December 17, so why am I giving you my holiday post today? I’ll tell you why: because I won’t be anywhere near a computer when actual Christmas week rolls around. Ben and I will be on our honeymoon down under, putting all my good advice aside and consuming our weight in beachside cocktails and kangaroo burgers. Don’t worry: I’ve arranged a guest post to publish on Boxing Day to give you a little taste of running inspiration while I’m out of pocket.

In the meantime, have a very happy holiday, folks! I know I will — I’m seeing this babe during a layover in Hawaii tomorrow!

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Categories
Food Recipes

Spaghetti Squash: The Final Frontier

My sister has taught me a lot of useful things in life: how to paper mache, where to hide Girl Scout cookies bought on the sly, which flavors of Lip Smackers taste good enough to eat (spoiler alert: all of them.)

Two and a half years my senior, she went before me in all walks of life — first to preschool, first to summer camp, first (fine, and only) to live in Mongolia — and passed on loads of wisdom and first-hand experience along the way as older sisters are wont to do.

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Like how to get a stubborn niece to participate in a Fourth of July photo shoot.

At the ripe at of 30, I thought I had completed my sister-led education, but then I visited her in the Midwest last month and she introduced me to something totally new once more: the spaghetti squash.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve HEARD of spaghetti squash — but due to some combination of fear and skepticism, I’d never actually bought or cooked one. Some of that is because it’s hard to trust something mascaraing as something else — is it spaghetti? is it squash? is it Keyser Soze?— but mostly because I simply didn’t know how to cook it.

I realize the internet is full of directions for how to prepare unfamiliar ingredients, but the masses were telling me all sorts of conflicting information: “Cook it whole!” “Slice it and roast face up!” “Slice it and roast it face down!” “Toss the squash in the trash and buy some pasta!” So I kept putting off familiarizing myself with this ingredient, much like I’ve put off watching The West Wing and other recommendations people say would be good for me.

And with so many other vegetables in my life, it hasn’t been a problem avoiding this specific one for three decades. But then I started Whole30 and I suddenly found myself needing a new vehicle for my tomato sauce. Flash forward to my visit with my sister, where she taught me to cook my very first spaghetti squash. And you know what?

I failed miserably! (And you thought I was going to say it was easy, didn’t you?) I didn’t realize you had to scrape seeds out of both sides, since I was afraid of losing the flesh that I knew eventually became the eponymous noodles. Still, once we picked all the baked seeds out of the piping hot squash halves, it was easier and more satisfying than I’d ever imagined to flake the squash into strands. We topped it with sauce and — more importantly — meatballs, and now I’m a convert.

For those of you like me avoiding this surprisingly delicious pasta substitute that doesn’t require a spiralizer, here’s how to do it:

  1. Buy a spaghetti squash. They are giant and yellow, and every local grocery store seems to have them.
  2. Wash it, cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds while leaving the majority of the flesh. (I guess this is also the step where I should tell you to preheat the oven to 450 degrees.)
  3. Bake face down in a 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Remove, let cook enough to handle, and then use fork to break up remaining flesh into noodles. It’s easier and more fun than it sounds.
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  5. Top with sauce! In this case, Whole30 approved turkey marinara, but I imagine I’ll be doing this again with parmesan-filled pesto in 15 short days.
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  6. Enjoy in front of a movie with your fiance (step 6 is not optional and is key to the success of the dish, I swear.)
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What’s your favorite spaghetti squash preparation?

Categories
Food Recipes

Recipe for Success?

When it comes to cooking, I’m what one might call resourceful.

Resourceful, or forged in the Depression era. You pick.

Raised in a family in which the only thing worse than wasting food was running out to the store to purchase a single item, I internalized young the idea that you cook with what you have on hand. Even in my tiny New York City kitchen, I keep enough pantry staples on hand — canned goods, pasta, frozen veggies, wine — that I can always whip together something nutritious and palatable without making a grocery run.

To put it another way, I half-marathon PRed this spring, toasted my Pulitzer Prize winning colleague, and watched my little brother commit to the woman of his dreams, and my proudest moment of the year was probably the time I opened a barren fridge to find a head of cabbage, two eggs, and leftover Indian food — and managed to make the best fried rice of my life.

With ingenuity and frugality the crux of my cooking philosophy, I was as surprised as you when I signed up last week to receive my first ever Blue Apron delivery.

For those of you not familiar with Blue Apron, it’s a subscription-based delivery service where fresh ingredients in the perfect pre-measured proportions arrive at your door with step-by-step instructions for putting the meals together. Unlike take-out Chinese, you still do all the chopping and sautéing, but unlike traditional meal prep, you don’t do any of the grocery shopping — or even recipe selection — yourself.

In a lot of ways, Blue Apron isn’t my style. But considering a friend sent me a three-meal free-trial box free (a $60 value — thanks, Nina!), and considering wasting free food is the cardinal sin of my childhood home, I signed up.

Hello, beautiful.
Hello, beautiful.

My box arrived a week ago tonight, and in it were the makings of three dinners for two. I knew what I was getting before it arrived — you have the option of declining a week of delivery if the meals don’t excite you — and I knew these three recipes looked right up my alley. Here are links to the three meals I made, plus really unappealing photos taken in bad light with my iphone. You’re welcome.

Curry-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Sugar Snap Peas & Fingerling Potatoes (recipe)
photo 5 (26)

Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwiches with Roasted Vegetables & Giardiniera (recipe)photo 2 (72)

Seared Salmon with Sorrel Salad & Creamy Barley (recipe)
photo 4 (46)

Now that I’ve prepped, cooked and consumed all three meals, here’s what I see as the major pros and cons:

PRO: They deliver the ingredients right to your apartment building.

CON: They don’t deliver the ingredients all the way up to your fifth floor walkup.

PRO: They send exactly the right amount of everything you need for two meals, meaning you don’t buy a whole jar of some obscure spice you’re never going to use again.

CON: They send exactly the right amount of everything you need for two meals, meaning there are no leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

PRO: Their recipes are full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, purportedly making for healthy end-of-day fare.

CON: With the excessive use of olive oil and butter, some of their recipes run more than 700 calories a pop.

PRO: Salmon fried in butter is, to be fair, delicious.
PRO: Salmon fried in butter is, to be fair, delicious.

So what did I think? The jury’s still out. If you don’t like grocery shopping or recipe selection, want to try new recipes you might not otherwise, or really like following orders, Blue Apron is undoubtedly for you. If you want more flexibility to cook what you want to cook when you want to cook it, it probably isn’t. Or if you’re somewhere in the middle, you can do what I did: start with their ingredients, and make some minor additions to use up other items already in my fridge.

What? It’s a habit. You know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The flower girl.
The flower girl begs to disagree.

Have you tried Blue Apron, Plated or any of the other ingredient delivery services? What did you think?

Categories
Food Weight Loss

Guest Post: RiledUpRunner + InspiredByMollie = Skinny Success

Note from the real RiledUpRunner:

Below is a guest post from my college friend, Tara, whose simultaneous appreciation for delicious food and healthy ingredients makes for some awesome recipes that are impossible to pass up. Tara is just two months away from her big wedding date (what up, Mike? Let’s meet someday, fo’ real.) and three-and-a-half months out from our five-year college reunion. Start gathering your favorite 80s gear now! (More for the latter event, but you never know…) Enjoy her post, and check out her blog for more recipes. 

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There are so many diet gimmicks out there – pills, shakes, drinks, juices, superstitions, tricks – and the list goes on. However, losing weight isn’t magic (unless you use Photoshop) – it’s a science, or a simple mathematical equation: calories in < calories out = weight loss.  For those of you who hate math, let me rephrase: eat less than you burn and you will lose weight.

Unfortunately, no matter how many math or science courses we took at college, they did not teach us this equation. What they did teach, however, was how amazingly delicious calorie-packed food can be. Anne and my small liberal arts college was ranked No. 1 nationally for food, and with an all-you-can-eat dining hall, we indulged – a lot. Between the delicious meals, intense studying and a lack of physical activity save for dance parties, we were eating more than we were burning for four whole years, which meant we quickly packed on the freshman 15 (or in my case, 50).

Before shot.
Before shot.

So when graduation came and we entered the real world where sweatsuits were no longer acceptable everyday attire, it was time to drop the freshman 15 (or 50). And instead of giving in to gimmicks, Anne and I each separately decided to do it the good old fashioned way (and the only way proven to work): we resorted to healthy eating and exercise, or calories in < calories out. While running became a passion for Anne, my passion became cooking and eating healthy food.

After shot! Woo!
After shot! Woo!

Two years (and negative 50 pounds) after making the switch to healthy food, I decided to start sharing my recipes with the world, and my blog InspiredbyMollie.com was born.

The philosophies I follow in my blog – and life – are as follows:

Use healthy ingredients. This means incorporating ingredients that are packed with nutrition so the calories that are consumed are beneficial to your body, including vegetables, protein, fruit, whole grains and healthy fats.  At the same time, it’s important to avoid empty calories, or foods that are high in calories but low in nutrition (e.g. processed white bread). Also, you can typically find low-calorie nutritious substitutes for high calorie favorites (e.g. spaghetti squash for traditional spaghetti or fat free Greek yogurt for sour cream).  Here are a couple of my recipes that are packed with healthy ingredients and incorporate such substitutions:

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs

Greek Yogurt and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Light and Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Make this. And send it to Anne for taste-testing, please.
Make this. And send it to Anne for taste-testing, please.

Exercise portion control. This is especially important when eating rich foods or treats. It’s simple: if something is higher in calories, eat less of it. And if you are anything like me, and you don’t have self-control, use portion-sized bowls and plates to help you. Also, if you just need a “big” meal, increase the volume of your meal by adding a bed of lettuce or a ton of low calorie vegetables.  Here are some of my portion-controlled favorites:

Mini – Crust less Mediterranean Quiches

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Mac, Cheese and Veggie Cupcakes

Yum.
Yum.

Indulge! Sometimes. Just because you are watching what you eat does not mean you have to deprive yourself of flavor or fun.  Use low-calorie flavors like spices and herbs to enhance the flavors of your healthy food without destroying their nutritional value.  Just beware of salt, as it causes water retention and thus apparent weight gain. And if you’re a sweets person, don’t skip dessert!  It’s OK to eat a small treat once a day. Just remember – portion control is key. Here are some great portion-controlled desserts that won’t break the bank:

Mini Blueberry Cobblers

Mini Crust-Less Pumpkin Pies

Mini Pink Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

Yes, please.
Yes, please.

Plan and prepare. Plan ahead and prepare your own food. This allows you to make good decisions, rather than impulsive hungry decisions AND it also allows you to control what you are putting in your mouth.  I try to avoid eating out more than once or twice a week and when I do eat out, I look at the online menu ahead of time and make my selection when I am not hungry. I know this could be considered a bit OCD, but if it allows me to order the beet salad (which I love) instead of the mile-high nachos, it is worth it. Also, if you are really busy and thinking to yourself you don’t have time to make your own food, think again. Make healthy food in bulk on a day when you have time and freeze individual portions for a healthy meal when you are pressed for time.  Here are some freezer friendly recipes:

Veggie Lovers Vegetarian Chili

Chicken Soup

Slow Cooked Bolognese

Heat up before eating, idiots.
Heat up before eating, idiots. ❤

Drink water. Lots and lots of water. This is very important when you are running and working out and also when trying to lose weight. It helps flush your body and also helps fill your stomach – and it’s calorie free!  Sick of water? Add some sliced fresh fruit to a pitcher of ice water for flavor. Lemon, limes, strawberries, watermelon and cucumber are all delicious options!

Of course, I do not always stick to these rules perfectly, but I do my best to make one good decision at a time. Like training for a race, you can get derailed and face challenges or temptation.  But overall, if you stick with the training and healthy eating, you will find success, just like Anne and I did.

For more information on my recipes and cooking, please follow my blog (www.inspiredbymollie.com) and like me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/InspiredByMollie). 

Categories
Food Recipes

Meat Free… Tuesdays.

Remember when I suggested everyone slowly up their protein intake with the calculated addition of more eggs, Greek yogurt, legumes and canned tuna into their daily diets?

Turns out, there’s a faster way to reach your targeted protein threshold: order a Double ShackBurger.

What's that? You didn't realize I was going to post this attractive photo all over the internet?

In addition to sporting a proprietary blend of premium beef and scientifically unparalleled deliciousness, a Double ShackBurger also comes complete with 52 whopping grams of protein, or more than three-fourths of my daily target. A Double ShackBurger is also calorie-free. (One of these statements is a lie, but I’m not telling you which one.)

But while inhaling two delicious Pat LaFrieda patties yesterday with one of my oldest friends was hands down the best decision of my adult life, I also recognize that a dish need not contain meat to be delectable. And so, without further ado, I present what may or may not become a recurring segment: Anne’s Favorite Fleshless Recipes. (The Focus Group did not approve that title.)

This fan favorite has already worked its way into my girl Sarah’s culinary repertoire, and I suggest you add it to yours.  I like to make two at a time and pop one in the freezer for a rainy day/a sunny day when I feel like eating lasagna.

For my vegetarian artichoke lasagna, you will need:

  • Cooking spray
  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (14-ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 (28-ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (4-ounce) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. (I use the thin, no boil noodles because I am lazy.) Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.

Spread 1/4 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.

Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Eat in one sitting.

What’s your favorite animal-less meal?