Tag Archive | food

Have a Happy Thanksgiving…And a Healthy Leftovers Week!

Thanksgiving is one week away and most people are looking forward to indulging in all of the richest foods of the season. There are a slight few who might be concerned about the inevitable weight gain that happens over the holidays.  Welp, I don’t have an easy solution for you because I’m most likely going to eat some stuff that will cause me to acquire a pound or two. However, I do not plan to turn Thanksgiving Day into Thanksgiving Week so I do have a solution to minimize the impact of “leftover calorie-pocalypse”.

Three dishes that are of the most popular and calorific are: Dressing (aka stuffing), Macaroni & Cheese, and Candied Yams. I’ve lightened these dishes up and created a tasty & healthy substitute that combined with baked turkey and my greens recipe, will lessen the weight gain impact. 

So, here we have Quinoa “dressing”, Mac & Cheese, and Sweetened Yams. I realize that the three of these together are still a carb explosion so….maybe eat one at a time.

First up, Mac & Cheese. I used gluten free organic brown rice & quinoa pasta…. I know what you’re thinking but when you boil this pasta in chicken broth and add a dash of salt, flavor explosion!

I made a cheese sauce using fat free half & half  slowly melting in shredded cheeses until I reached the desired consistency (approx, 1 cup of each).

Layer pasta with cheese sauce making sure to add cheese/sauce to the top and bake until you get these lovely brown bubbly bits on top….enjoy.

thanksgiving-sides-macncheese1.jpgAccording to Webmd: a 12-ounce serving of Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese has 529 calories, 25.7 grams of fat, and 10.6 grams of saturated fat. This recipe has 215 calories, 27 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 11 g protein, 5 g sugar.

Next up, my version of dressing that has all the same flavors with a fraction of the calories/fat. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions substituting in chicken broth for the water. Saute the seasoning blend until softened and lightly caramelized. 

Combine the above ingredients with these seasonings. I season according to taste so keep adding teaspoons until it tastes like you like it!

When its all mixed together, you have this yumminess. And it tastes just like dressing with a slightly different consistency!

According to USDA data, a single one-cup serving of prepared bread stuffing provides 390 calories, 5 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 134 mg of sodium, and 27 grams of total fat. This version has 82 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of protein, 22 mg of sodium, and 0 grams of sugar!

These yams (sweet potatoes) aren’t “candied” but they are no less delicious. Coconut sugar is far lower on the glycemic index than white or brown sugar. Coconut oil has many health benefits over butter and has been shown to even help burn fat! So I sliced the potatoes, and sprinkled with coconut sugar (to taste) and a tablespoon of coconut oil distributed throughout. 

Season with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, a teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of salt. Cover with foil and bake in a  400 degree oven until softened.

I added a dollop of whipped cream to mimic the highly sugary marshmallow topping. 

According to a highly rated recipe for candied yams on Allrecipes.com: 
Per Serving: 397 calories; 7.9 g fat; 79.4 g carbohydrates; 3.7 g protein; 20 mg cholesterol; 179 mg sodium. This recipe has 165 calories, 35 g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 2g protein, 83 mg sodium, 11g sugar. 

All in all, Thanksgiving is a holiday for enjoying food and family. It’s ok to indulge for one day and if you normally eat a healthy diet, one day of extra calories is not going to hurt. The day after however, is no longer Thanksgiving so enjoy my recipes until all the turkey is gone….your body will Thank you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Transition to Spring…Outfit Ideas

Spring season is here even if it doesn’t feel like it most days in my neck of the woods. Nevertheless, I wanted to at least mentally pack away my winter shroud in exchange for some lighter fabrics.

Often you’ll find that I like to layer a structured jacket over a dress. Sometimes the jacket just completes the look. Other times, it’s really not warm enough yet to wear the short sleeves by themselves. Either way, it has kind of become my signature look.

blue-striped-dress-denim-jacket.jpgGray Jacket Peach Dress edit_edited-1

Continuing on with the jacket-wear theme, it could be used to add a pop of color to an otherwise color-less look like I did with this green jacket.

Green Jacket Black Skirt2

As you can tell, a jean jacket is usually my go-to in order to top off a look. It is truly a wardrobe essential.

Denim Jacket blue skirt_edited-1

Then we move on to warmer days (hopefully sometime soon). Since I did this try on in the comfort of my own home with the thermostat set comfortably at 70 degrees,  I decided to try a romper. Honestly, I didn’t think I would like it but the generous off the shoulder sleeves and shorts cut just right won me over.

Blue Romper edit

This last look shows how I would rock a sleeveless and very form-fitting body con dress. I paired it with this over-sized sheer blouse. I wore a belt on top to put some shape back into the look. You can have the balance of having a cute trendy look without showing it all if you know what I mean.

Peach Dress Printed Blouse.jpg

I hope you enjoyed these looks as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

Just so you know, I will listing all of these pieces for sale. Many are not yet listed so if you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll give you the details. Any unclaimed pieces will later be listed on my ebay store here

Thanks for reading and stay tuned or follow me so you don’t miss my next post!

 

Crispy Chicken & Savory Collard Greens (No Oil;Gluten Free)

So we’re a little over 1 month in, how are those new year resolutions going so far? What? Don’t bail on them just yet. I’m cooking up some goodies that will make you forget they are “healthy”! As mentioned in a previous post, I went gluten free out of necessity not because it appears to me the “in” thing to do these days. With that being said, I learned to tweak certain recipes so that I could still enjoy some of my favorites.

Today, I’ve cooked up some crispy chicken that I made using not one drop of oil.  To go along with that is a family favorite: savory collard greens. Let me tell you, since I put together this greens recipe, I’ve been the “you bring the greens to the party” person. If it’s possible to make comfort food into health food, then this is it!

First off, let me introduce you to my new best friend. Her name is Bella, she’s an air fryer and she has changed my life forever. You can actually fry chicken completely crispy on all sides with no oil! It works best with parts that have a natural fat content like thighs and wings. For other parts with less fat, all you have to do is spray with an oil spray which still adds no additional calories. Do yourself a favor, buy one. They are usually on sale somewhere, I bought mine on sale at Macy’s for $50. I’ve seen them as low as $20 around black Friday so look around but definitely get one!

Air Fryer.jpg

For the greens, I took the easier route and purchased two bags of pre-cleaned and pre-cut collard greens. It saves time on the preparation and makes it more convenient for a week day meal.

Bag of Greens

I always make my own stock using smoked turkey tails. I like this part of the turkey for its flavor and fat content. It gives greens a rich and savory flavor. Put these in a large pot and cover with about one inch of water. Boil covered on medium high for about an hour until it becomes fork tender.

Smoked Turkey Tails

To the stock pot, add in your “wet seasoning”:
1 green pepper
Half red pepper; half yellow pepper (or use mini peppers like I did)
2 medium onions (or 1 large)
4 cloves fresh garlic

Chop all of the veggies finely or use a food processor until it looks like this:

Chopped Onions Peppers

This is where it gets tricky. I like bold flavors, so my seasoning blend may be more “robust” than others. You really have to tweak it to your preference but this is what I use:

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp paprika ( I really like paprika)
1 tbsp minced onion (I hate onion powder so I use this instead)
1 tbsp salt free garlic & herb seasoning
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar

Add the greens, “wet seasoning”, and dry seasonings to the pot with the turkey tails. Cook uncovered for one hour; stir occasionally. The water will dissipate and concentrate flavors so only tweak seasoning at the end of the hour.

Greens in Pot_edited-1

For the chicken, I used chicken thighs and use the same seasonings as above minus the sugar. The amount will vary depending on the number of pieces you prepare. Estimate about 1/8 tsp each per piece. I put all the seasonings in a bowl to make a “seasoning blend”.

Season Mix for Chicken

Half of the blend is added directly onto the chicken. The other half is added to a separate bowl with 1/2 cup of Brown Rice Flour.

Brown Rice Flour

Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Preheat for 5 minutes. Place chicken in without overlapping. Cook for 20 minutes, turn over, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until completely done.

Chicken in Fryer

You are now ready to enjoy this crispy and savory delight. I know what you’re saying, “where is the macaroni & cheese and cornbread!” Trust me, this is so good, you won’t even miss it! You can even get seconds while staying true to your resolutions!

Chicken Greens Finished Plate

Oh no, I’m not done yet! I have more yet to come that I’m sure you don’t want to miss. Be sure to follow and tune in next time for a new treat!

 

Gluten Free & Delicious: Jerk Shrimp Pasta Parmesan

After receiving the very good news from a food allergy test that I am allergic to wheat, nuts, soybeans, and sesame seeds, I realized that I would have to completely change the way I eat. It was sad at first, knowing that I would have to break up with some of my favorite dishes. Eventually, I learned to tweak recipes so that I could build a repertoire of foods that I can eat.

I’m going to share of few of my recent favorites for some of you that may have similar allergies or just looking to try something different. Either way, you will not be disappointed! Up first, is this super spicy, creamy, and decadent jerk shrimp pasta parmesan. If you like spicy foods, you’re gonna love this one. For those that prefer a more tame dish, I’ll share what to use to tone down the heat without compromising the flavor too much.

I’d like to call this a “recipe” but the way I cook is like “a little bit of this and a little bit of that…oh, it might need a little more this…” you get my drift but I’ll try my best to estimate proportion but I believe you should always try to tweak things to your own liking. With that being said, here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Gluten Free Pasta : 1 1/2 cups
(I love this brand pictured found at Aldi)

Parmesan Cheese : 1/2 cup
(freshly grated; not pre-shredded)

Frozen Broccoli Spears : 1 1/2 cups
(or fresh if you’re fancy)

Medium Shrimp: 12 oz

Pasta

Hot Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (I found this one at Walmart): 2 Tbsp
(Use Old Bay or similar to make a milder version)

Heavy Whipping Cream: 1/3 cup

Garlic & Herb Salt Free Seasoning: sprinkle till satisfied

1 Tbsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Paprika

Add the jerk seasoning to the shrimp; stir until all the shrimp were covered. Spray a nonstick pan with oil and warm the pan on medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 3-5 minutes until they are opaque. Remove the shrimp into a bowl and set aside.

Jerk Shrimp in Pan

For the pasta and broccoli, bring a pot a water to a bowl then add salt (and a tbsp of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together but that’s optional). Add both pasta and broccoli to boiling water and cook till pasta reaches desired tenderness usually 8-10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Pasta Broccoli in Colinder

I wiped that same nonstick pan clean of all the excess jerk seasoning then added the pasta, broccoli, parmesan cheese, cream, and garlic herb seasoning. Stir and cook until the cheese has completely melted and all are covered with a creamy rich sauce.

Pasta In Pan Seasoned

Last, add the shrimp to the pan and stir together shrimp, pasta, and broccoli. Garnish with some paprika for color and Voila!Now you are ready to enjoy this spicy, creamy delight!

jerk-shrimp-pasta-parmesan.jpg

Trust me, with this recipe, you will not feel like you are missing out on anything simply because you have to eat a gluten free diet!

Stay tuned for more because I have transformed many food favorites to gluten, nut, and soybean free. You don’t want to miss what’s next so follow this blog now so you don’t miss out!

 

 

Summer to Fall Fashion Transition…The Finale

So, there were quite a few looks in this series but one thing you may note is that they were all dresses and skirts. If you read my previous blog posts, you may already be aware of the fact that I tend to avoid pants when it’s warm. Who am I kidding….I’m an unapologetic girly-girl-woman. I’m often a little too glam for the occasion and am often met with the question, “where are you going?” You know, that’s what you’re asked when you just so happen to be a little more dressed up than everyone else…like high heels to a picnic….don’t judge. So back to today’s look, which based on the previous statement, is my going to the grocery store look (lol):

red-dress-gold-belt.jpg

Aside from the heels, this is an extremely comfortable ensemble. The dress is nice and stretchy. It has a loose batwing style sleeve that is about 3/4 length. It has a drapey, fall off the shoulder neckline which to some may be annoying if you’re going for a look. Sometimes it covers both shoulders and sometimes if falls off one shoulder. The elastic waistband gives it some shape and you can change the belt to create a new look every time you wear the dress. I paired it with these metallic peep toe pumps because you know, peep toe for transition season (see my previous post on that).

red-dress-gold-belt2.jpg

Did I mention the pockets? Oh, it has pockets because we just love dresses with pockets. I feel like red is the perfect season transition color because it’s still a bright vibrant color indicative of summer but essentally is more a fall/valentine-sy day color.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together. I have lots more nuggets on other areas of my interests to share so I hope you come back for more.

Red dress (old) similar here and here and here

Metallic pumps (old) similar here and here

 

Summer to Fall Fashion Transition Part 2!

So today we are continuing on in this series of transitioning summer pieces in the period leading to fall. Today’s look is almost a full fall look but with a twist.

White Sweater Black White Skirt

This white 3/4 sleeve sweater works for cool summer nights or when you know you’ll be in air conditioning all day. This slinky black pencil skirt is lightweight enough to wear on a warm day and also transitions into fall nicely. Now for the twist, these bright pink polka dot pumps are traditionally worn in the spring/summer as a rule (but rules are only for those who lack creativity lol). So the combination of these 3 pieces makes it a summer to fall transition look :).

White Sweater Black White Skirt2

And there is your 2nd look in this….I haven’t figured out yet how many parts series….of summer to fall transition looks. Be sure to tune back in tomorrow for my next look!

 

Clean Snacks Reviewed! Which Snacks Are Best for Recovering Junk Food Addicts?

Ok, I must make a confession. I’m a snacker. I like snacks. As I attempt to become more and more health conscious, I may spend minutes upon minutes in the snack aisle of the grocery store scouring the ingredients and analyzing calorie, fat, and carbohydrate content. Even deciding between fried, baked, popped or freeze dried will make your head spin! So, what else is a confused, recovering fried potato chip person to do but attempt to make their own healthy snacks. Duh duh duh duhhhhhh!!!!

Ok, it wasn’t so bad but there were some clear hits and definite misses. And I’m hear to break it down for you so you can make the decision for yourself.

I may as well start with my favorite which happened to be one of the simplest:

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

I was surprised at how easy and delicious this was and more perplexed by why I haven’t done this before! One potato yields a generous serving of potato chips. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus (source: http://whfoods.org). So, a snack thats delicious, simple and super nutritious?? Sign me up, baby!!

Ingredients:

1 medium organic sweet potato
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Using a mandolin or knife, slice into 1/16” to 1/8” round pieces…depending on the thickness preferred.

In a large mixing bowl, add sliced potatoes and oil, toss to coat.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick foil, place potato slices next to each other until the cookie sheet is filled.

Bake for 20 minutes, turn potatoes over and bake an additional 20 minutes. If the edges are crispy remove from oven, if not, bake an additional 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy around the edges.

Allow potatoes to cool at room temperature. Chips will continue to get crispier as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


This next snack may seem basic but not only is it simple to prepare but it is very filling and delicious!!

Spicy Air Popped Popcorn

Spicy Popcorn

When I invested a whole $15 in an electric popcorn popper, I had no idea how valuable it would be in preparing a quick and satisfying snack. A bag of popcorn kernels is super cheap and darn near non perishable which makes it a no-brainer to keep it around. With all the scary things being said about microwaved popcorn (who didn’t grow up on that stuff??), I’m glad to have a healthier, almost as convenient option. “Air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has only 35 calories per cup. When lightly buttered, popcorn contains about 80 calories per cup. Popcorn is a whole grain, making it a good-for-you food. Popcorn contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet.” (source: http://www.popcorn.org) For a savory treat, I add coconut oil (instead of butter) and Tajin Classico Seasoning (picked it up at Aldi). It hits all the senses for a salty, spicy, crunchy snack!

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Popcorn Kernels
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
Season with Salt or Preferred Seasoning

Directions:
Add popcorn to electric popper. Melt coconut oil. After corn is popped, add coconut oil and seasoning. Enjoy!


So, now we make a turn to a less familiar territory. Snack beans. Don’t get me wrong, I love beans in it’s many forms: chili, refried beans, red beans & rice, lentil soup, hummus…the list goes on. However, when it comes to snack beans, I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet but nonetheless, I tried.

Parmesan Garlic Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

Garbanzo Beans

So, yeah, by now you know that I like my snacks savory and crunchy and honestly, this does meet those marks. I like parmesan. I love garlic. I like garbanzos. Now combining all these for a snack…..I’m not there yet. “Chickpeas are a type of legume that offer a range of health benefits. Chickpeas help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. Chickpeas nutrition is a potent package of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is why they are often included in many healing diets .” (source: draxe.com) So yeah, I may toss these in a salad for a little variety and crunch but on its own…nahh.

Ingredients:
2 (14.5 Oz.) Cans Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, Drained, Rinsed & Dried
2 Tbsp. Shredded Dry Parmesan
1 Tsp. Dried Crushed Rosemary
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/8 Tsp. Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil. Give the foil a light spritz of some non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chickpeas are crisp.

Carefully remove the sheet from the oven and set aside to cook slightly before serving.


Now here I go, trying to be fancy and delving into creating sweet snacks. I was born and raised in Chicago so Garrett’s Popcorn is the penultimate of a sweet, savory, crunchy snack to me. I’m sure I’d shutter at the nutrition facts of that popcorn and there’s no need to ruin it, its Garrett’s and when you pass one, you buy it, point blank. However, when you’re home and crave a sweeter popcorn, it’s great to be able to create one. Did this one hold up as a replacement????

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

peanut-butter-popcorn.jpg

Now, I like popcorn. I like chocolate. I like peanut butter and honey. All of these together, not so much. Now, in all fairness there’s probably a flaw in my execution. Apparently, there is a fine line between letting these sit while the crunch develops and letting it sit so long that it becomes stale, sigh…. Overall, I believe it has potential and with a few tweaks, it just may work so stay tuned for an update.

Recipe:

Heat 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract. Stir until smooth; pour over 16 cups hot popcorn. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (you can sweeten this for enhanced flavor). Spread on baking sheets and let cool.