Thursday, April 30, 2015

Set a Pretty Table

With nearly 40 years of cafeteria management behind me, I know that selling food was just as much about the setting and the service as it was the menu.  That's no different than enjoying food at home.  Which brings me to my final tip for meal planning:

 Tip #10 for Meal Planning:  Set a pretty table.
We eat at our snack bar, facing each other.  Even when the boys were home, the four of us ate dinner at the snack bar.  My sets of dishes are now in storage, and I have several pairs of pretty china plates, most of them smaller dinner plates.  Placemats are a given.  I actually have a couple placemats I made the first year we were married-39 years ago.  The best of memories are made around the dinner table!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Making Healthy Snack Packs

We've an 1100 mile road trip starting tomorrow, 5 nights in motels, then the return trip home.  These are snack packs I made for the journey.  Dried fruit-raisins, dates, figs and apricots, nuts-pecans, almonds, pistachios, mandarin oranges and "onsies" (dried prunes).  

Tomorrow, I'll slice a few carrots and peppers to eat with my lunch along the way.

 Tip #9 for Meal Planning:  Make healthy snack packs.

I'm taking a pack of graham crackers with us too.  While I can't take my Almond Butter (the natural kind has to be kept in the refrigerator once opened), I'm taking a couple individual packs of Peanut Butter!

I keep those individually wrapped prunes in my purse-and so many times, they have saved the day.

The mandarin oranges are stress busters.  I usually eat 2 at a time!

Enjoy your evening!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Zucchini-Veggie Boats (Meatless Monday)

Leaving on a trip in two days, I've just the right amount of luscious produce and cheese in the refrigerator to make a great dinner. 

Zucchini-Veggie Boats

(Serves 2)

Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Using a small scoop, remove flesh from squash.  Chop.
1 zucchini squash

Chop other vegetables.
1/2 yellow squash
6 Cremini mushrooms
1 broccoli crown
3 garlic cloves

Saute vegetables in olive oil.
2 teaspoons olive oil

Mix in bowl with seasoning and cheese.
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 ounce shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Fill squash boats with sauteed vegetable and cheese mixture.

Garnish with shredded Gouda.
4 tablespoons shredded Gouda

On lowest rack of oven, bake squash at 450 F. for 10 minutes.

Ours is served with cucumbers and tomatoes, marinated in vinegar and oil with onions.


Puffy Pineapple Pancakes

What to do with lots of pineapple?  You've heard of carrot cake pancakes. . . how about pineapple pancakes?  These are very tasty by themselves!

Pineapple Pancakes

(Serves 3-2 pancakes each)

Puree pineapple in food processor.  Drain in sieve.
3/4 cup pineapple sauce

Beat eggs and sugar.  Add vanilla.
2 eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Mix dry ingredients.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash salt

Add milk to egg mixture.
1/4 cup skim milk

Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing just to combine.
Drop by 1/4 cup dippers onto griddle surface heated to 325 F. Bake for about 1 minute and turn to bake the other side.

My pancakes were topped with 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt, nonfat, and grated whole nutmeg.  I added 1/2 teaspoon honey.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Going for the Gold (Picnic)

Pineapple Caprese and Beef Noodle Soup among gorgeous tulip gardens set the scene for a perfect Sunday afternoon.  We visited Oglebay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia just when the tulip gardens were at their best.

The soup was inspired by Rachael Ray.  Here's how I made it:

Beef Noodle Soup 

(Serves 2)

Place in crock pot:
1/4 cup onion, sliced
3 cups low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
2 anise stars
6 ounce sirloin tip steak, raw, sliced thin
Cook on high for 3 hours.

6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced in rings
Heat on low for 1 hour.
Cool quickly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat soup thermos by placing boiling water in it and tightening lid.

Cook spaghetti in soup broth.
1 1/2 ounce whole wheat spaghetti

Heat soup.
Rinse spaghetti and add to soup.
Empty thermos and add soup.  Seal tightly.

At picnic, when ready to serve, add spinach and fresh basil leaves.
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves (remove stems)
2 fresh basil leaves

The Pineapple Caprese was inspired by Rachael Ray.   Here's how I made it:

Pineapple Caprese

(Serves 2)

Slice fresh pineapple.  Store in pineapple juice.  Slice fresh mozzarella.
4 pineapple rings, cored and cut in half
4 slices fresh mozzarella

Make basil oil in mini food processor.
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup fresh spinach
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

When ready to serve, arrange mozzarella between pineapple.  Garnish with basil oil and more fresh basil leaves.

We brought some local New Day Bakery Bleu Seven Grain Bread!

We found a sunny picnic table on a hill:

The sun and the beauty of the gardens added the perfect touch!

Have a great week! 

Never a Leftover (Tip #8 for Meal Planning)

Remember the Orange Cardamom Roasted Chicken with Potatoes?  Dinner Wednesday made Dinner Thursday too!  On Thursday, we picked the chicken from the bone, served that and the potatoes on a salad.  That's my homemade Challah Bread I made Monday toasted, on the side.

Tip #8 for Meal Planning:  Plan for use of leftovers.

We're off to a picnic today!  Enjoy yours!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Grits No Gravy & Tip # 7 for Meal Planning

The recipe from Cape Fear Nutrition was for Polenta, but I used my Palmetto Farms stone ground grits instead.  This took less than 30 minutes to make and was very satisfying!  

Creamy Grits with Almonds & Fruit

(Serves 1)

Bring milk to a simmer in a non-stick pan.  Stir in grits.
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup stone ground grits
Lower heat and cook until thick.  This took about 15 minutes.
Stir in honey before serving:
3/4 teaspoon honey

Top with yogurt mixture:
2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt, plain, nonfat
3/4 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Sprinkle with fruit and nuts:
2 tablespoons toasted almonds
1/3 cup berries

Tip #7 for Meal Planning:  Eat high quality protein at breakfast.
The recipes called for cooking the grain in water.  To increase the protein, I cooked mine in milk.  I had to be careful not to scorch or curdle the milk, so I kept it cooking at a low temperature and stirred frequently.

My cup of drinking milk, plus the cup of cooking milk brought the high quality protein to 16 grams.  Adding the 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt brought it up to 20 grams.  Now I can work hard (house cleaning day!) for several hours before eating again.

Enjoy your day!  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Steamed Dream & Tip #6 for Meal Planning

I guess this meal in less than 30 minutes would qualify as a nap instead of a dream.  Steamed fish and vegetables, instant rice and a few sauteed vegetables is a colorful, healthy meal inspired by a recipe in Food Network Magazine. Here's how a put ours together:

Steamed Flounder and Vegetables

(Serves 2)

Place a rack in a large pan with 2 inches of water.  On top the rack, place a steamer basket.  Spray with Pam.  Layer in basket:
1/4 cup sliced onion
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 flounder fillets
Steam for 10 minutes.

Cook rice:
1/2 cup instant brown rice
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon sesame oil

 In a small saucepan, saute peppers and garlic in oil:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 mini peppers, cut in rings
Add reduced sodium soy sauce:
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

To steamer basket with fish and vegetables add:
2/3 cup fresh broccoli flowers
Steam 8 more minutes.
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
Turn off heat and cover.

Arrange plates with:
Fish and vegetables
Sauteed pepper,garlic, soy sauce mix.
Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.

Tip #6:  Include low fat dairy with meals.
 Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Seedy Start & Tip #5 for Meal Planning

With the heater running again, this was a breakfast that warmed my tummy!  Sweet Breakfast Quinoa from Loren Brill was posted on Kitchen Daily.  Crunchy Homemade Buckwheat and Seeds Cereal was from Kristine Duncan at Veg Girl RD.  Here's how I put everything together:

 Breakfast Quinoa

(Serves 2)

Heat quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until water is absorbed.
1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups water

Add nuts, syrup, zest, apricots and cinnamon.
2 tablespoons toasted pecans
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 dried apricots, snipped with kitchen shears
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Stir, cover and remove from burner.

My cereal is topped with 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt and fresh mandarin orange segments.  I garnished it with fresh grated nutmeg.

 Groats and Seeds Cereal

(Serves 8-10)

Cook groats in water for about 15 minutes.
1/2 cup oat groats
1 cup water
Drain, rinse and stir.

Mix in chia, hemp, figs, raisins, apples and nutmeg.
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup hemp seed meal
4 figs, stemmed removed, snipped
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons dried apples, snipped
Fresh ground nutmeg

I made a fresh fruit cup and topped with 2 tablespoons groats and seeds.

Tip #5:  Vary whole grains.

Now for a morning walk! 



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Flight of the Fancy & Earth Day Tip

After butterflying a turkey for Thanksgiving, doing that to a chicken was a snap!  Roasting it was quicker than usual too-only 40 minutes at a very high temperature.  The recipe is from Aarti Paarti as published in Food Network Magazine. 

Orange Cardamom Roast Chicken

(Serves 4-5)

In a small bowl mix buttery spread and spices with a fork.
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash
Fresh ground pepper

Place chicken breast side down on a board with the neck toward you.  Using kitchen sheers, cut through the bones on either side of the backbone.  

Flip the bird over, breast up and closest to you.  Push down until you hear a crack.  

Rotate the drumsticks toward the center line of the body so the bird looks knock-kneed.

Deposit the spicy buttery spread under the skin of the bird.

Cut potatoes in 1/4 inch slices.
6 small potatoes
Coat potatoes in oil and seasoning.
2 teaspoon olive oil
Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash

Place potatoes in a foil lined baking dish sprayed with Pam.
Cover with chicken, arranged with the wing tips under the bird.
Roast at 500 F. for 20 minutes.  Rotate the chicken and roast another 20 minutes.
Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken.  Drain the potatoes and roast them 10 more minutes to crisp.

Tip #4:  Buy local.
Even though it's still winter, potatoes are available year round.  The local co-op and the winter's farmers market (held bi-weekly) has potatoes when there's little else available.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Latin American Rice Bowl & My Tip #3 for Meal Planning

Cuban Style Rice & Beans was inspired by Clean Eating Magazine.  Mine has local sausage from Working H Farm.  See how I enhanced it with my Tip #3 for Meal Planning.

Latin American Rice Bowl

(Serves 3)

Crumble and brown sausage in onion.
1-3 ounce Italian sausage link
1/4 cup onion, diced

Drain on paper towels.  Return to pan and add pepper and garlic. 
2 mini sweet peppers, cut in rings
1 clove garlic, diced

Add spices, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and broth.
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

Stir and bring to a boil.  Add black beans.
1 cup cooked black beans (I use the frozen, cooked without salt kind)
Add brown rice and water.
1/2 cup instant brown rice
1 cup water

Bring to a simmer.
Add juice.
Juice of 1/2 lime

Stir in cherry tomatoes.
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat covered for a few minutes.  Mine's served with sauteed squash and mixed fresh fruit bowl.

My #3 Tip for Meal Planning:
 I added a cup of fresh tomatoes to the original recipes, then served the rice bowl with a variety of vegetables and fruit on the side.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Gouda Eating (Meatless Monday)

The perfect grilled cheese starts with the perfect bread.  Homemade Challah, Gouda cheese and sliced pears, pressed in a waffle iron.  Can't get much better!

The recipe is from Fleischmann's Yeast .


(1 loaf)

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

Heat water and buttery spread to 125 F.  Mix in saffron.
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Pinch saffron
Slowly add to mixer.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.

Add eggs (I soaked in warm water to quickly bring to room temperature).
2 eggs
Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.

Gradually add remaining flour.
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
Knead for about 6 minutes until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
Place in bowl sprayed with Pam.
Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down.
Divide into 2 pieces, one piece is 1/3 the dough, the other piece 2/3 the dough.
Divide each piece into 3 and roll to 12 inch ropes.  Braid, starting at center.

Add smaller braid on top the other.
Brush with egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water.
Sprinkle with poppyseed.
Cover and let rise until double.

Bake at 400 F. for 20 minutes.

I also added the first of my homegrown fresh basil to the sandwiches.  The parfait has fresh raspberries, raspberry greek yogurt and hemp seed meal.

 My #2 Tip for Meal Planning:

Today when I shopped, I purchased 1 whole chicken breast, about .8 of a pound.
1/2 that breast is enough protein for the two of us.  I cut the breast in half and froze the pieces in separate zipper bags.

 I'll share more tips throughout the week!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Curds and the Way I Plan Menus

Recently retired from my job in Healthcare where I planned menus for thousands, I'd like to share my tips for planning healthy meals at home.  First, here's Friday's breakfast for Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd over thin pancakes.  The recipe is from Rachael Ray

Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd

(Serves 2)

In saucepan, whisk juice, zest, sugar, yolk, cornstarch and water over medium heat until thickened.  Boil, whisking, 1 minute.
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons, 2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
2/3 teaspoon cornstarch
2 2/3 teaspoons water

Remove from heat.  Stir in buttery spread.  Strain through sieve.
1 1/3 teaspoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Thin Pancakes

(Makes 6)

Mix melted buttery spread with milk.  Beat in egg.
1 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/2 cup skim milk
1 egg

Stir in baking powder and flour.
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup flour

Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto heated griddle.  Cover and bake on one side.  Flip and finish baking on the other side.

Garnish with confectioners sugar.

Now for my #1 Tip for Meal Planning:

Today I sort through my recipes and pick one for each protein source.  I plan a grocery list, then tomorrow morning I'll shop.  First at Aldis, where I can buy items less expensive than the regular grocery store.  I'm not sure what produce I'll find there, so I'll buy what looks good, then plan the rest of the menu after shopping. The first grocery stop takes 1/2 an hour, then I'll stop at Giant Eagle to buy the rest of my list. 

I'll share more of my Top 10 Tips throughout the week!