Archive for the 'Play with your food' Category

Sep 04 2012

French Toast

When you keep balance in your meals you have a bigger variety to choose from.

This French toast is a savory variation that with a pile of fruit and vegetables gives you the nutrients you need and feels like a guilty pleasure.

Pay attention to portions: the fruits and vegetables are half of the plate.

For one serving size:

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp shredded cheese (try to make it reduced fat – any kind you like: Cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella)
  • 1.5 tablespoons oil (I combine coconut and olive oil)
  • Salt, pepper
  • Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, sweet paprika, chili powder, barbecue powder (use your imagination…)

Directions:

  1. Preheat pan on medium heat and add the oil.
  2. In a wide bowl whisk the egg and the milk.
  3. Add to the egg mixture all the spices that you like, whisk again.
  4. Add the shredded cheese and whisk again.
  5. I like to cut the slice of bread in half – it’s easier to handle.
  6. Drench the bread in the egg mixture and put in the hot pan. When I place the bread in the pan I kind of scoop it to make sure I get some of the cheese with it. Put the side with more cheese face down on the pan.
  7. After putting both halves of the bread in the pan, pour the left over egg mixture and the cheese on top of the bread.
  8. With a spatula, turn each piece over after a couple of minutes.  The goal is to get both sides nicely brown without burning it.

To serve, put on a plate with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

We love to add some cottage cheese on top, or just enjoy it as is.

Important comment: use spices that you like, regardless of what I wrote. In general the more spices you use when cooking, the less fat you’ll need to make it yummy and you are more likely to enjoy staying home and eating healthy.

 

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Jun 26 2012

Frappuccino

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this frozen drink.  It’s cold, sweet and satisfying – especially in the hot summer. The problem is the huge amount of calories it comes with – a 16 oz. drink is a minimum of 500 calories – even more than a meal.

In the last couple of weeks I created it at home and the results are great. For the same serving size of 16oz, you can make it yourself for about 80 calories.

Now I can have it more than twice a year and enjoy it without feeling guilty and suffering the result of extra sugar and pounds.

Here is the basic recipe, please feel free to play with it to your taste and liking. Make it your own and enjoy the drink, the fewer calories and… the much cheaper affect on your pocket as well.

Ingredients:

For coffee ice cubes (it makes more than for one time):

3 tsp instant coffee

2 tsp sugar (I like dark brown)

1&1/2 cups water

Preparing the drink (make one big serving or 2 regular servings):

3 coffee ice cubes

6 ice cubes

½ cup 1% milk

½ cup cold water

1 tsp vanilla

4 stevia packs

Instructions:

Make the mixture for the cubes:

Use instant or any other coffee making method you like and pour into ice cube tray and put in the freezer.

For the drink:

  • Put the ice and coffee cubes in the blender – pulse to break them up as much as possible.
  • Add all the other ingredients and, according to your blender, blend on high or on the smoothie setting until everything is blended really well. If it’s too thick – add a little water or milk until it’s the consistency you like.
  • Pour into a glass, add a straw if you like and… enjoy!!!

Personal notes:

  1. You can make the coffee cubes from any coffee you like, make espresso or any other method.
  2. Try to play with it – you can add more vanilla or none at all, or maybe you like cinnamon, or walnut extract or anything else you have around and feel like trying.
  3. I did try adding peppermint extract, it was good, however you need to be careful with this stuff – it’s very strong and a little goes a long way (½ tsp is about right).
  4. You can make it with no caffeine; add some fresh fruit and no coffee ice cubes.

I hope you’ll try it… I would love to hear what you think. You might even invent a new version that I didn’t think about, please share it with me.

 

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May 01 2012

Potatoes and Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

I have been making this dish for years. It’s great as is or with anything else that you’d like to add to it after it’s cooked. Always buy organic when possible.                           

The size of the veggie chop

Ingredients

1 big onion – diced

2 Garlic cloves – minced

2 Tbsp olive oil

4-5 big Potatoes – cut into one inch cubes

4-5 big Zucchini – cut into one inch cubes

1 big tomato – diced

3-4 Tbsp Tomato paste

1 cup water

1/3 tsp Cumin

Chili pepper

Salt & Pepper (as spicy as you like it)

What it looks like after adding the spices and tomatoes

Directions

  • In a big, wide pot on medium/high heat, add the olive oil and the onion. Let it sweat and get some color (7-8 minutes).
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Add potato cubes and cook while stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add zucchini cubes and continue cooking another 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomato.
  • Combine the tomato paste with water in a bowl on the side and add them to the pot – stir.
  • Add all spices, stir, and cover.
  • Cook for 30 minutes, taste and correct spices accordingly, if too dry, add more water.
  • Continue cooking about 20 minutes more or until the potatoes is soft.

This is one of the foods that taste even better the day after. I like to warm it in a pan and add an egg to it – stir it all together. Also consider adding beans when warming it up or anything else on your mind.

As always I hope you’ll like it and add it to your daily healthy cooking.

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Apr 03 2012

Fried Chicken?

This is a great way to have something very similar to fried chicken but without the extra fat. It’s a hit in my house. My daughters say they don’t miss the fried stuff that makes their tummy ache.

Please make an effort to buy chicken without hormones and antibiotics (make it a habit – it’s much better for your health).

Ingredients:

8 Chicken thighs or legs

Bread crumbs or Panko (Japanese kind)

1-2 eggs

Mustard

BBQ seasoning powder

Garlic powder

Sesame seeds (optional)

Oil spray (prefer olive oil)

Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • Remove the skin and any extra fat you find from the chicken parts.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder all over the chicken.
  • Using your fingers, massage the mustard in a thin layer all over the chicken.
  • Shake BBQ seasoning all over the chicken.
  • In a wide bowl, break the egg and add about 3-4 tbsp of water to thin it out – whisk well. Add a little salt, pepper and garlic powder to the egg.
  • On a big plate pour bread crumbs, and some BBQ powder and mix well with a dry fork. If you like you can add the sesame seeds to the crumbs.
  • Take a baking pan large enough to hold the amount of chicken you have and spray with oil so it won’t stick.
  • Take each of the chicken parts, drench in the egg by rolling it around a few times.
  • Next dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs. Roll it around a few times to make sure it is covered well and put in the baking pan.
  • Continue until all the chicken parts are coated in bread crumbs. It’s ok to put them tight in the pan.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and put in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • Take the pan out and remove the aluminum foil. Spray the chicken with oil, increase the heat to 400 degrees and continue baking till the chicken is cooked through and has a nice brown crust on top. You can put it under the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes for extra crunch on the top (careful not to burn it).

Put on a plate with salad and enjoy a great healthy meal.

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Feb 21 2012

Pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner

When you think about pancakes you imagine the fluffy stuff with mountains of sweet toppings on top – am I right?

At our house we eat pancakes once in a while and it can be for any meal of the day.Our version is different than the traditional pancake concept, it’s whole wheat pancakes and they are not very sweet.

I’d like to share with you our concept and hope you’ll find it interesting and give it a try.

We divide the meal into two: savory and sweet. In the savory part we’ll put on the pancakes: avocado, roasted or grilled vegetables, cheeses (we sometimes add spices to it), other kinds of healthy dips and anything else we like that we can find around. In the sweet part we’ll add fresh fruits on the side, and we’ll make our own home made sweet sauce (see below).

I don’t use a recipe for whole wheat pancakes. I found a healthy mix at a local bread store that I like to use (but please make them from scratch if you’d like).

I’m always looking at the ingredients, and if I know them all and there are no long words that are hard to pronounce, I can evaluate the product quality.

It’s ok to not do everything from scratch, just make sure you read the ingredient label and be responsible to chose products that are good for you.

Sweet healthy sauce:

  1. Put in a bowl some frozen strawberries (as much as you want) and microwave for about a minute or so.
  2. Take it out, cut them smaller with a knife and add about a teaspoon of strawberry jam and mix (you can add honey or brown sugar – just don’t overdo it).
  3. Continue cooking in the microwave for another minute or two (until they become really soft).
  4. Take the strawberries out and mash them a little bit with a fork and stir.
  5. Continue cooking in the microwave until they are warm to your liking.

Few more tips:

  • After making the pancakes for the savory part I add a little honey to the batter and make the pancake a little bit sweeter for the sweet part.
  • I sometimes add some fruit when I’m making the pancakes in the pan before flipping them to the other side (like sliced bananas or blueberries).
  • The key words when it comes to adding some sweet are: a little bit – not adding too much sweet stuff to keep it healthy.

The biggest thing here is to use your creativity and have fun with it. Food is a great way to be like a kid – play with it!!!

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Jan 24 2012

Simple Salad or Everyday Salad

In these modern times we have gotten used to too many ready-to-use products. I like my everyday salad to be as simple and healthy as it can be. To dress the salad, regular lemon juice and olive oil will do the trick with a little bit of sugar to balance the taste.

Give it a try, and play with it according to your taste buds and enjoy this simple, easy salad. Remember this is the basic recipe; you can add anything you like – your imagination is the limit.

Ingredients:

Spinach

Romaine Lettuces

Greens

Cucumber

Carrot

Bell pepper

Tomato

Radishes

Dressing:

1/3 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Sugar

2 Tbsp Lemon or lime juice

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:

Use all or some of the variety of vegetables listed above.

Wash and cut them into bite size pieces and place them in a big bowl.

Sprinkle the salt and sugar on top. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss well (I use my hands).

Voila – it’s ready to eat!!!

Personal comments:

  • I sometimes like it as green salad only without any other veggies like tomatoes and peppers.
  • Please adjust the amount of the dressing ingredients to your taste – if you like more lemon just add it and so on.
  • I use Stevia instead of the sugar.
  • I add a can of Salmon packed in water for a full healthy meal. You can add beans or pieces of turkey, avocado and seeds or anything else you like. Make it your own.

Go back to the basics. Your body and health will thank you.

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Jan 10 2012

Play with Your Food – Oven Fries

Potato wedgesWho doesn’t love French fries? Kids and adults all over the world love them. So what can you do when you’re health conscious and want to make the right choices and avoid the heavy deep fry? Or maybe you want to lose some pounds and still enjoy the food you love.

This concept is a perfect answer, and my daughters even prefer these “fries” to the regular-fried ones:

One note about potatoes – they are in the top 10 on the list of products that have the most pesticide in them. Choose organic whenever possible, especially if you want to eat the skin.

You’ll need a pound or two of little potatoes. I like the red ones for this method.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Leave the skin on, wash the potatoes well, and cut them into wedges, about half-an-inch thick. Put the wedges in a bowl, and use a paper towel to dry them a little.
Add spices:
The basics are garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
I recommend adding to the basics one of these two options (or use your own imagination):
Cumin and/or barbecue-chicken powder.
Or go Italian and add oregano, basil, and thyme (or an Italian mix, if you have it).
Add 2 to 3 Tbsp. of olive oil. Use your hands to mix the potatoes, spices, and oil until all wedges are coated.

Place a screen on a baking sheet and put the potatoes on top with enough space so that the air can go all around the potatoes. Put in a 450 degrees oven for 40 to 55 minutes (depending on the thickness of your wedges and your oven).

I know you’ll love them, and you’ll never want to go back to eating deep-fried French fries again!

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Dec 13 2011

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables – easy!

We all love pasta, kids and adults. This is a healthy way to eat pasta and your vegetables and feel good about it.

Ingredients:

1 big onion

2 big carrots

2-3 red/orange bell peppers

2-3 zucchini

1-2 yellow summer squash

Cauliflower

Broccoli

2-3 garlic cloves (sliced thinly)

Oregano

Basil

Thyme

Red crushed hot pepper

3 Tbsp Olive oil

Salt, pepper

Whole wheat pasta (penne, Rotini, Farfalle)

Optional: Grated cheese, handful (parmesan, cheddar or anything else you like)

Directions:

Cut all vegetables into bite size pieces. I like to make them all long strips, 2.5 inches long and a quarter of an inch wide.

Put in a big bowl and add all the spices.  (Instead of using the three different spices – Oregano, Basil and Thyme – you can use the Italian mix.)  Add about 3 Tbsp of olive oil and mix well (yes, with your hands if needed) to coat all the veggies well.

Spread the vegetables on an oven sheet, if you need more than one, use 2.

Put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. You can cook them to the way you like them. I like to keep them a little crunchy.

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and pour into a big bowl. Add the roasted vegetables with the pan juices to the bowl, along with the cheese (if you choose) – stir well.

Serve either warm or cold – enjoy!

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Nov 15 2011

Something Warm for the Cold Weather

The season is changing and there is nothing like a bowl of hot, delicious soup to keep you warm.  Soup is a great way to pile on a variety of healthy and delicious vegetables.

Vegetable soup

This is what I had when I grew up; I’ve learned it from my Mom and now my daughters love it too. This recipe is a great base for lots of variations, – just add what you want during or after its finished cooking. You can add… beans (from a can), cooked chicken or any other meat, tomatoes, pasta, noodles, lentils, brown rice or even all of them together – make it your own.

Ingredients:

These vegetables are just a suggestion – please feel free to use what you like – remember to have a big variety. You can use fresh or frozen, whatever you have handy or find at the grocery store.

Choose from:  * Onions * Carrots * Zucchini * Cabbage * Green beans * Broccoli * Cauliflower * Potatoes * Sweet potatoes * Mushrooms * Celery *

Fresh herbs and spices: * Dill (it’s a must) * Italian Parsley * Garlic

Dried herbs and spices: * Oregano * Cumin * Black pepper * Red Pepper flakes

Liquid:  Chicken or vegetable stock or broth (I use water and add chicken bouillon cubes or powder to it.)

Cooking directions:

Use a big pot – we want lots of soup, it will last for another 2-3 days. :-)

Wash, cut, dice, and prepare all of the vegetables. I like to cut most of them into little bite size pieces and the carrot and zucchini I grate very thinly on the grater.  It gives the soup some “body” and it doesn’t feel like water and pieces of veggies.

  1. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and add one diced onion – cook till it’s light brown.
  2. Add some finely chopped garlic (2-3 cloves) and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add all the prepared veggies and cook them on high heat by themselves for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.
  4. Add the broth or water to cover, about 2-3” above the veggies. Remember it’s your decision how much liquid to add. Adding lots of liquid will make thin soup or less will make a thicker soup with lots of veggies.  Remember to also consider what you plan to add to it later.
  5. Bring the heat up and bring it to a boil.
  6. When it is very hot add the spices – cumin, oregano, black pepper, and then add the dill and parsley.
  7. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  8. Taste after 20 minutes and fix the seasoning; add whatever you feel is missing.
  9. Cook for about 20 more minutes.

Please try it and share your experience with me. I’d love to know how it worked for you and how you made it your own.

Stay warm and enjoy!

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Nov 01 2011

Breakfast – A Great Way To Start the Day

We all know that it’s important to eat breakfast, but where we fail is with WHAT we eat for breakfast. Starting the day with food that contains refined sugar and fats is not the right way and actually can hurt you more than benefit you. You’ll start to have a sugar rush that will follow with a crash (insulin too high and then low) that will leave you hungry, tired, agitated and looking for more food way earlier than you should.

From working with many people I know that they try to take the healthy way and have oatmeal in the morning – what they don’t realize is that the instant packages they make give them the same reaction in the body like any other muffin they might have with very little nutrition.

Here is a breakfast that will sustain you, be good for you and set you on a great start to the day:

Steel Cut Oats
Is a 100% whole grain which will give you a lot of the nutrition you need, and will have many benefits for your health (try to buy organic, it’s not an expensive item). It keeps great in the freezer for many months.

Cooking directions:
The ratio is about 1 to 3, that means 1 part oats to 3 parts water.
In a pot, boil the right amount of water for the oats you want to cook (you can use milk too).
When boiling, add the oats and stir lightly, turn the heat to low and let it simmer.
Now you can add any flavor you like, salty or sweet.
For salty: add a pinch of salt and keep cooking.
For sweet: add some brown sugar or Stevia (No artificial sweeteners please). Optional cinnamon or any other spice you like.
Cook until all the water is incorporated into the oats.

After you make it a couple of times you’ll know how much water you like to add. I like my oatmeal to be more on the hard side (not mushy) so I put less water in at the beginning.

When it’s done, you can use your imagination and follow your taste buds: add anything else you like, nuts, berries or any other fruit, dried fruits, yogurt or just eat it plain.

Suggestion: Make extra servings one day, and you can keep the rest in the fridge for 3 days and not have to make it every day – just warm it in the microwave.

Yes, it takes some time to prepare, but you get a really great breakfast, that will support your health, energy, weight management and so much more!

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