Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Day = Clean out the Pantry Meal

Well who says you can't be creative when imprisoned in your home due to a winter storm?  Not me!  I began to revert to my childhood this afternoon when I would endlessly bug my mom on a rainy day,

"Moooooommmmm!  What can I do today?" 

"Clare, go draw me a picture."

(five minutes later)

"Ok, mom, here's the picture.  What next?"

After watching the Philadelphia Eagles lose (sigh for Jamar Chaney, former MSU Bulldog), I felt that childhood rainy day restlessness come upon me.  My instincts grabbed the phone to dial mom, then I remembered I'm 31 years old and should create my own ideas of entertainment (although I did take up 2 hours of her time on the phone later on).

I decided to conjure up a meal in the kitchen using what I had in stock.  Turkey/veggie burgers, homemade bread, and dill cream cheese were the winners.

By the way, you can really have fun with burgers.  I had onion, fresh garlic, and spinach for my burgers today, but there are endless possibilities...corn, beans, mushrooms.  Combine these ingredients with turkey meat, add a little salt and pepper, and there you have it.

Pour a dash of EVOO in a frying pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  I spread my dill cream cheese (mixed low fat cream cheese and Pampered Chef's all purpose dill mix) on my homemade bread (whole wheat flour) and made a nice, healthy sandwich!

Homemade Bread

5 to 6 c. flour (whole wheat flour)
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Blend well. In small saucepan, heat water and oil until very lukewarm. Add warm liquid to flour mixture. Blend until moistened, then beat with beater 3 minutes. Stir in 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from side of bowl.

Knead 10 minutes, adding a little flour at a time, if dough feels sticky. Grease lump of dough. Put in bowl to rise and cover with towel. Let rise until double, then punch down. Divide dough into 2 parts and shape into balls. Let rise on counter covered with inverted bowl for 15 minutes.

Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased pans. Let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until it has risen about 1 inch above pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow. Remove from pans and brush top with butter. Makes 2 loaves.

See what you can do with a snow day and a kitchen!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

5 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

You can ask anyone that knows me.  I have not always been the healthiest eater.  And I am not a healthy eater every day.  But I try.  I began taking these simple steps a few years ago, and each year it seems I become more aware of my body, and add healthier habits to my life.  You can do this too, even if you begin with one change.  You have to start somewhere.     

1.  Don't eat everything on your plate.  It's my simple ground rule.  Lose the nagging mom-voice in your head, "You will not get up from the table until you eat everything on your plate, young lady."  Whatever amount of food you are served, or have over served yourself, there is no rule that states you must eat it all.  I take this as a challenge.  It has created what my friends call "A Clare plate" (always food left, and sometimes it doesn't look pretty). This habit reduces caloric intake, but more importantly, it gives you the confidence and will power needed to continue making healthier eating choices.  

2.  Replace (and avoid) fattening butters and oils.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO in Rachel Ray's world), Canola Oil, and Macadamia Nut Oil are the best oils to use for cooking, baking, and mixing salad dressings.  Butter, my friend, is not your friend.  Choose a healthy butter substitute such as Smart Balance or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.  I promise (from the bottom of my dear heart) that you will not be able to tell a difference using healthier butters and oils. Except on your hips.      

3.  Ask for your salad dressing on the side.  A salad  is healthy, until you add a bottle of dressing on it.  Order salads with low fat and healthier items such as chicken, tuna, almonds, cranberries, artichokes, and peppers.  Go light on the cheese and croutons, and omit the bacon.  Don't have some salad with your dressing.  The first time I actually tasted lettuce was about a year ago.  It feels good to savor the healthiest part of your meal.

4.  Choose Omega-3.  I know, I know, a good steak is a-ma-zing.  And well deserved sometimes.  But a piece of fish is a-ma-zing-ly healthier. Just ask the Mayo Clinic.  I won't argue with them.  

5.  Avoid bread as much as possible.  It is nearly impossible.  And how do I love thee.  Most people do not realize how much bread they consume.  A muffin for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, three pieces of bread with spaghetti for dinner.  It adds up.  Then it shows up!  Just be mindful of bread in the new year is all I'm saying.  Choose whole wheat/whole grain breads when possible.  And make a sacrifice every now and then.  Bread for lunch?  No bread for dinner. These sacrifices will slowly pay off.  You'll see.

The best way to become a healthier eater is to not overwhelm yourself with too many changes in your diet all at once, and simply, to be mindful.  Think about what you put into your body.  It affects how you feel, your energy level, your immune system, and your self esteem too. Be good to you.  And have a wonderful new year!

Here are some great websites where you can find healthy eating and lifestyle tips and recipes!

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