Clean Eating Challenge, Days 12-15

Sorry to all my readers for my lack of posting. Let’s just say, I fell off the clean eating bandwagon face first and am now scrambling to get back on. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were long days of working and foodie temptation.

Let me just start the remainder of this post off by saying, I am going to be confessing to you all, to get rid of my guilty conscience.

Friday, I had alfredo sauce at Olive Garden. Saturday was processed maple syrup on waffles, Sunday was a turkey, bacon, guacamole sandwich and fries, and yesterday was a taco bowl from Qdoba. Now, all of these were screw ups at one meal in the day…so some people would say don’t sweat it. But I don’t agree. This “clean eating thing” I’m doing is supposed to be a lifestyle adjustment, not a fad diet. So while after the 28 days I may indulge in something that’s not clean, during this initial detox period, I need to be less lenient. I wish there was a clean eating friendly restaurant.

stuffed-bell-pepperThat being said, dinner last night was stuffed bell peppers with ground turkey and dairy-free cheese. They weren’t bad! I take my accomplishment from the fact that my hubby said they looked and smelled good. Reminder – stuffed bell pepper is meat stuffed in a vegetable and not the other way around. If you knew him, you’d understand the accomplishment. I didn’t use rice in my peppers, just the meat and veggies (zucchini, tomatoes and spices), and it was really tasty.

Now let’s focus on some good habits moving forward.

1) This morning, I tried a trick I learned from my Arbonne consultant and added some organic peppermint extract to my banana chocolate shake. Add a straw and it tastes like a milkshake! Hello pick-me-up!

2) Oh, and I’m excited because Cooking Light put out a gluten free cookbook!

3) I’m now actively involved in training for a 5K after the first of the year with one of my coworkers, and going to be trying out a Tuesday night boxing class to get moving more often and be held accountable for what I’m doing.

New adventure, here we come.

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Farmer’s Market Finds

DSC_0353This weekend we went to the Clarksville Downtown Market, and got to experience a completely different type of farmer’s market than what we had experienced before. This one was smaller, calmer and much more friendly. There were fewer merchants, but they were all different, rather than a monopoly on veggies like we tend to see in Nashville. There were also a lot more artisans of handcrafted goods, which was very cool.

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We got a huge bushel of apples that I turned into apple butter and apple pie apple sauce. We also got some heirloom carrots and tomatoes, beautiful, fat zucchini, a huge basket of green beans and a wonderfully colored acorn squash.

DSC_0363I used some of the veggies in a stir fry as a complement to some frozen veggies and leftover rotisserie chicken. I then created a cheesy pasta primavera with whole wheat pasta. There were 8 different types of vegetables that were lightly steamed and delicious and a lighter mozzarella sauce that blended everything together. Recipe below!

By the way, I’m in love with my new camera, and it has a “food” setting on it that helps to bring out some of the beautiful colors. Hence the silly amount of pictures today!

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Pasta Primavera with Market Veggies

Market fresh vegetables, cleaned and chopped to approximately the same size. I used: 1 large zucchini, 1 eggplant, 4 heirloom carrots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 3 sweet peppers, a head of broccoli, a handful of green beans

3 cloves of garlic, diced

olive oil

2 tbsp white wine of your choice

whole wheat linguine, about a quarter to half of a box

Fresh basil, 1 large bunch, julienned

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

Approx 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or three cheese blend

1/4 – 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

approx 1/2 cup milk (you can substitute soy or almond milk – I did!)

Approx 2 tbsp each: ground sage, ground thyme, dried dill, black pepper

Approx 1 tbsp each: paprika, ground oregano

Approx 1/2 tbsp dried cardamom

Salt to taste

  • Prepare all the veggies, cleaning and chopping. Put all but the garlic in a large bowl. Warm a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil – once around the pan. Then add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • While the pan is warming and the garlic cooking, prepare your pasta pot with water and set to boil. Once  boiling, add in a handful of sea salt and olive oil to add additional flavor to the pasta itself. Then add in the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant, dump the bowl of veggies into the pan and toss well. Add another round of olive oil and continue to toss to coat. Top with sage, thyme, dill, and oregano, as well as 1 tbsp black pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat and cover pan, cooking on medium for 2-3 minutes. After this time, add in the wine, and stir. Then re-cover, and let cook on medium low heat while pasta cooks, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the sauce, first melt the butter in a pot. Once melted, add in the flour, stirring vigorously. Once that creates a paste, add in about 1/2 the milk, continuing to stir. Add in the parmesan and the mozzarella, continuing to stir. Add the rest of the milk, the paprika, 1 tbsp of black pepper and the cardamom. The sauce should be creamy as it melts, and if needed, add a little more milk to increase the creaminess. Continue to stir to evenly incorporate the heat and melt the cheese, as well as preventing burnt cheese on the bottom.
  • At this point, the pasta should be done. Taste test for texture. Drain, and return to the pot. Add 3/4 of the basil to the veggies and stir, cooking just long enough to wilt. Once wilted, add to the pasta, top with the cheese sauce and toss well to coat. Serve with fresh basil on top.

Spicy Chicken Chorizo Frittata

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I don’t normally make a big deal about breakfast. Every so often I will make waffles or french toast…but usually it is scrambled eggs and an english muffin. Or better yet, cereal. For some unknown reason to me, I got a wild hair this morning to make a frittata. I’ve never made a frittata. But I started pulling things out of the fridge and into my cast iron skillet they went. And you know what? It was freaking delicious. Even my hunny proclaimed that this was his new favorite breakfast. Weird. That never happens, he is normally very set in his eating habits, especially when it comes to favorites.

A little bit spicy, very savory, and very filling, we served this with honey covered biscuits and we were happy campers until almost two this afternoon.

Ingredients:
1/4 onion, chopped
1 cup shredded frozen hashbrowns, defrosted and patted dry
1 small casing of Mexican chorizo, about 1 cup
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup corn
1 cup chopped leftover rotisserie chicken
4 eggs
1 tablespoon each onion powder and garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon each cumin ground black pepper
3-5 tablespoons oil, I used canola oil. Dependent on how good your pan is at being not sticky.

Directions:
1. Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet. I really liked using my cast iron skillet for this one (thanks sis-in-law!!). Cook the onions until they are fragrant. Add in the potatoes and one to two more tablespoons of the oil. Let those cook on a mexium low hezt until they start to get crispy. Preheat broiler to low.
2. Add in the chorizo. Stir everything together, and let cook for one minute. Ground chorizo typically comes precooked, so you’re basically just warming it. Next add in the corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and chicken. Stir everything together and let it warm through for about a minute while you prepare the eggs.
3. In a bowl, mix the spices and the eggs with 1/2 a teaspoon of water. Pour over the mixture in the pan. Move it around so that everything is relatively even, and let cook for one minute.
4. Put the pan in the oven under the broiler, and let cook for approximately 8 minutes until the eggs are set. They will spring back when pushed if they are ready. Slice like a pie and serve!

Marinated Veggie and Tomato Chicken

I was bored. That’s a dangerous thing around dinner time in my kitchen. I was not only bored and hungry, but I was also bored with what I’ve been eating lately. Therefore, experimentation gets to running rampant.

We have a marinated olive and vegetable mixture that we got from our honeymoon, and I’ve been itching to try and find another way to use it. I took my vegetable mixture and threw it in my food processor. Then I did the same thing with a can of stewed tomatoes.

For the rest of the meal, I sauted garlic in olive oil just until it was fragrant, and then put in some cubed chicken thighs. To balance out the tangy flavors of the vegetables, I made the chicken a little on the spicy side. I added in chili powder, red pepper flakes, onion powder, basil, salt, pepper and just a pinch of cinnamon to balance it out. Once that was mostly cooked through (it doesn’t take long), I added in the veggies and most of the tomatoes – I tried to avoid using the liquid and mostly used the meat of the tomatoes. Let that all work together, and I also threw in some frozen corn to, again, help balance out the flavors. I served it over some linguine with a side of garlic bread.

Of course, I’ve never tried this, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. The spice only came through a little bit on the back-end, and otherwise it was just a very tasty blend of a lot of flavor.

What kind of kitchen experimentation have you done lately? How did it turn out?

 

Scrambled Veggie Delight

Today I had plans to go shopping for some “grown up” clothes in preparation for finding a new job. But before I made my way down to the city, I had to get a good workout in, and follow up with some delicious breakfast.

(I have found that if I write about my workouts, I am more likely to stick to working out, because then I’m being held responsible. Skip the next paragraph if you’re just here for the food!)

Without my hunny here, I can get away with having breakfast that’s filled with vegetables. He would never hear of that. But first, the workout. I kind of invented a new workout that is based on some stuff I’ve seen on Pinterest. I did five exercises – jumping jacks, squats, crunches, mountain climbers, and push-ups. I started with 50 jumping jacks, then 40 squats, so on and so forth, and worked down the repetitions until I did 10 of each. Then I followed that up with some boxing strikes as my cardio. All in all, made for a good half hour.

Back to the food.

The original plan was for an omelet. I have yet to master the art of making eggs into a tortilla-type shape and folding them over in a pan. Therefore it became scrambled eggs with good stuff mixed in.

Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and bell pepper, tossed over some light heat with some cooking spray, salt and pepper. Add in the egg that’s been mixed with garlic powder, ground sage and a touch of seasoned salt. Scramble. Just before it’s fully cooked, add in a few leaves of julienned spinach leaves and some feta cheese. Finish and plate with a whole wheat english muffin and tasty avocado. I have an avocado obsession. Did you know apple butter only has about 25 calories per tablespoon? That makes me super happy.

And yes I know I’m have a squirrel-complex moment.

Anyway, all that works out to be 554 calories, which works out just fine when I wanted to stay full for a while. It did mean that I ate a few too many calories today, but it was well deserved. I’m actually kind of excited for breakfast tomorrow.

Birthday Goodies

Yesterday was my birthday… the big 23! Not one of those get down and crazy birthdays, but one of my best friends came over for dinner, and that was just fine for me. Not everything has to be extravagant, right?

I decided that I wanted to make dinner on my birthday. Confused mom a little bit. But I like to cook, and I don’t get to do it a lot anymore, so it was a treat for me.

I started off making a Berry Coffee Cake. Now, what I haven’t told you yet, was that this was the second try on this cake. I made it a couple days ago and much to my dismay and frustration, it came out way undercooked. I followed the instructions, may have added a little too much liquid, and the cooking time just wasn’t adequate. Teach me to just eyeball amounts when baking.

What’s cool about this coffee cake is that even though it’s light and fluffy (when you cook it right), and tastes like it should be utterly fat-filled and unhealthy, it came out of a fantastic new cookbook by Marlene Koch, called Eat What You Love. She takes every day recipes that people love (it’s a book filled with comfort food) and makes it healthy. What’s super cool about this cookbook is that she doesn’t substitute flavor for calories. There’s even a paragraph in which she goes into detail about how if substituting a “low-fat” versus “non-fat” item will decrease the level of flavor, she’ll opt for “low-fat.” I like this lady. Thank you Grandpa for introducing me to my new favorite cookbook!

Anyway, I had the first piece with my coffee this morning, and it was delectable and believe it or not, filling! Score for low calorie items! I’ve put in the bibliography and the recipe on the appropriate pages for your cooking pleasure.

And on to dinner. Once again editing one of my favorites, I made a creamy version of my Medling. And since the recipe was requested by my best friend, here it is… Mom said it was a little too spicy for her tastes, but she ate her portion worth, which means it was good enough to overcome the spiciness. The difference here is that I added artichoke hearts, a little bit of parmesan cheese (freshly grated of course) and more sauce than I normally would. Let’s just say there was more goodies than pasta and I was totally OK with that. And of course, I made my favorite garlic bread to go with it. Like I would have it any other way with my obsession for garlic.

Oh yeah, and thanks dad for cleaning up the disaster I made in the kitchen. I really need to learn how to be a cleaner cook. Though it’s not quite as much fun that way…

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

The perfect end to a hectic week!

So my apartment has been torn apart for almost a month now – but we’re not going to go in to that. Basically, my kitchen is in a shambles, there are a ton of things in boxes, and it makes it hard to cook a really scrumptious meal. But, take one pan, one casserole dish, a spoon and knife…Oh my goodness the possibilities.

This is hearty, makes a lot, tastes DELICIOUS and is somewhat healthy. What’s not to love?

So, I used chicken thighs. I’m sure you could use chicken breasts. But I like dark meat. Wait. I need to back up. Start by chopping up garlic, onions and bell peppers. Add in a small handful of chopped sweet yellow peppers (like the kind they put on your sandwich at Subway), and saute together for a bit. Add in the chicken, that’s been all chopped up pretty. Then goes in a bunch of paprika, some cilantro, garlic powder, a dash of red pepper flakes and a couple tablespoons of hot sauce. (No it’s not spicy it’s delicious!)

So all this gets cooked up together until the chicken is done and it’s all bubbling away in the sauces. Then goes in some salsa, a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of corn and of course cheddar cheese. Proceed to bubble.

Get a big casserole dish, and put some tortilla chips in the bottom. Smush them all up so they are semi flat. Then pour the hot, bubbly, yummy goodness over top and level it out. Pour more cheese over top, cover with tin foil, and bake 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Let rest 5 minutes and enjoy!!

If I had sour cream in the house, I’d probably put some on top. But I didn’t.

Please do try this and please tell me how it is!