Thursday, January 28, 2010

Loaded Marinara Sauce

I had a fun day visiting with my mom and aunt who came to visit. They took the kids and I out to lunch at Super Mex (I had their Lite beans and green rice with warm corn tortillas and salsa - which I will try to recreate soon - it was delicious!) Then we shopped around at thrift stores for treasures - which my oldest son called "worse than a garage sale." (The skeptic ended up getting a really cool tie!) By the time we got home it was homework, clean up and time to think about dinner. Luckily I had leftover Marinara sauce in the fridge along with some fresh veggies. The old fallback.

The interesting thing about this Marinara sauce is that it is secretly loaded with veggies and hence tons of nutrition and yumminess.

Here is what I did:

Cut up some carrots, red bell pepper, yellow onion, and garlic - steam fry in pan (with water, but allowing them to still get some color). When they are semi-tender, toss them in your blender with a jar of low-fat (less than 10% calories from fat) marinara sauce. Puree til almost smooth.

Heat sauce until bubbly, and add more spices if desired. I love to add crushed red pepper and/or fresh basil.

Serve over your favorite pasta!

For the veggies: I rinsed the snow peas and tossed them in a hot pan until they all turned bright green (about 4 minutes) then I added some garlic salt. I didn't even cook the carrots, just sliced and threw in at the end. It was super hard, I don't know if you can handle it.

For the natives, I broiled them some garlic toast - and all was well. They never blink at pasta. We're Italian. Could eat pasta everyday a different way - but that's not the title of this blog now is it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Veggie "Fried" Rice

I think the theme this week is one dish meals.
That, or I've just been too lazy to dirty more than one pan.

Anyhoo - here is something most of the family enjoys: Veggie "fried" Rice
I took out my portion and then threw in some shrimp and a little oil to appease the natives, but you can serve it as is too, if your people aren't so picky.

(Forgot to take the picture before the "add ins")

No real recipe, just throw these items together:

First, chop the veggies, I used carrots & green onions

Next, add them to the hot pan and steam fry for 3 minutes. (That means add a tablespoon of water at a time if they start to stick)

Then add the rice , 3-4 cups cooked leftover rice (I used sticky Japanese rice) and sprinkle with soy sauce as it heats up.

Finally add the frozen peas and continue stirring til everything is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Other fun add ins:
Firm tofu (crumble it)
Fake meat (seitan)
snow peas
any veggies leftover in your fridge!

MMmmm comfort food. I WILL NEVER FEEL GUILTY FOR EATING RICE. There. I said it.
And I mean it. Do you LOVE grains?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Penne Genovese

Today was a rough day. I had to send off my 5th grader to Outdoor Science Camp. I'm not a fan of school enforced outings. So I was feeling a bit blue, praying the bus would get safely up the mountain - and hoping he wouldn't get too homesick. He's definitely mama's boy.
So needless to say, I wanted something warm and comforting on this cold, rainy, melancholy day.
I retrieved this recipe given to me by my neighbor and friend. I changed a few things, and ended up with my 14 year old calling it "brilliant" a word I've never even heard him use. When I asked what he meant by that, he said, "All the flavors just go together so well"

The original recipe called for olive oil , so I just replaced it with broth and made it a chunky pasta "soup." But on the hardy side of soups - not very much broth. I'll definitely be making this again!

Whole Wheat Penne Genovese
adapted from Good Housekeeping Feb. 09 Issue

12 oz. whole wheat penne or rotini
1 c. packed basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 can white kidney beans (cannellini) rinsed and drained
1 pt. grape tomatoes , cut in half
2 Tablespoons vegetable broth powder (or bouillon)

1. Cook pasta as directed.
2. Put basil, garlic and water into blender and blend (don't liquify) #4 on Vitamix
3. Heat a large skillet and add onion. Cook onion until golden brown by adding a few tablespoons of water when it starts to stick to the pan. (This method is called steam frying.)
4. When onion is browned, add basil mixture and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add tomatoes, beans, vegetable bouillon, cooked pasta, and 2 1/2 cups of pasta water. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

My kids had parmesan on theirs, but I didn't even miss it with all the flavors going on.
I did however miss this face at the dinner table


Monday, January 25, 2010

Oatmeal. Everyday.

I love oatmeal. I didn't discover it until my 20's so maybe that's why, but I could (almost do) eat it every single day for breakfast. I change it up by using different fruit. Lately it's been frozen blueberries or Granny Smith apples.

Once, a friend was visiting and I made her a bowl using frozen mixed berries - she LOVED it! I was so surprised that she hadn't eaten it "this" way. So just in case you aren't an oatmeal lover, maybe I can turn you into one?

Fruity Oatmeal

1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1 hand full of fruit (frozen berries, or cut up green apples etc.)
add enough water to just cover the oatmeal - not enough to cover the fruit (about 1/2 c. water for 1/2 cup oats)
microwave for 1 min - 1 min. 30 seconds (if using frozen fruit)
garnish with cinnamon and brown sugar or your favorite sweetener

It's even yummy as a dessert - when the natives are eating cake.

Oh, and if you are terrified of eating a little brown sugar, this is what Dr. John McDougall has to say, "When used in small amounts, simple sugars can enhance the enjoyment of the McDougall Diet without adverse consequences." Or read more about sugar here.

Biggest oatmeal mistake in my opinion?

Not adding enough water.
It turns gluey and hard instead of creamy. If this happens I have to start over. I just can't bring myself to eat it. I don't measure the water - I always eyeball it, so sometimes I mess up.

But I did measure for you : )

Happy Breaky!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

(Make your own) Frozen Burritos

Most of my greatest discoveries are made out of desperation.
I desperately need to eat.
And make it healthy.

I LOVE eating bean & rice burritos for lunch - I make them ahead and freeze them. I could eat one everyday. If you work or are going to be away for lunch, take one with you and it will be room temp by lunch. I like them like that - or you can find a way to heat them up. They are surprising filling too!

Not a real complex recipe - but here is my latest -

Mexican Rice (in a hurry!)

Into your rice cooker goes:

3 - 4 cups of short grain brown rice - (or white)
correct amount of water (look on package - I use my hand to measure - but hard to explain)
1 can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1 package Burrito seasoning packet (or your favorite)

Press "cook" and walk away.

Serve in (my favorite) Mission white or wheat 96% fat free tortillas with (my favorite) canned pinto beans (or make your own - some times I do) with NO cheese for you - but add some cheese for the natives. (I call them natives cause sometimes my kids remind me of natives scouring the land for food, meat, and anything with loads of fat and sugar. - hope that's not a politically INcorrect word)

Some thoughts:

You can serve these for dinner the day you make them- adding veggies like: lettuce, tomato, sprouts, avocado ( if losing weight isn't an issue) and fresh or canned salsa. OR freeze like I said above - without the veggies.

I wrap mine in wax paper - so I can microwave them in it.

Experiment with different seasoning packets, make up your own, or use a packaged seasoned rice and DON'T add the butter/oil.

Let the natives put on: cheese, sour cream, gobs of butter, whatever will make them eat it. (I'm joking - but not really - at least they are eating brown rice and that's a start!

If you make your own beans, then this might not be "in a hurry" anymore. Unless you froze your homemade beans and defrosted them.

You may need to add salt to the rice per your liking. I love salt. Probably not a great thing.

Try dipping your burritos in your favorite taco sauce ( I Love Taco Bell's mild) or try barbecue sauce!

A note on fake cheeses:
They are expensive.
The ones that taste like anything are full of fat.
If I want fat, I'd rather have avocado.
Therefore I don't use them.

Have I talked enough about these things that are supposed to be EASY???


Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm back...

A week's worth of groceries...
check back and see what's for dinner all week!

No excuses. I haven't been making time for my passion. When things get super busy that's usually the first thing to go (the blog). That and my 5:15 am spinning classes. But I'm back and I have a fun month planned. I am going to (try to) post everyday for 1 month, usually about what I'm making for dinner. I'm hoping that those of you out there will come out of hiding and let me know if I am any help to you at all!

I went shopping today. Fresh and Easy. I haven't always been a fan but they are growing on me. It may or may not have anything to do with $10 coupons you can always find online.

For those of you new to my site, let me clear somethings up - so you aren't expecting something I'm not. Technically I'm not vegan. I will eat some fresh parmesan once in a while, a little turkey at Thanksgiving, and I have a pair of leather shoes. I don't eat vegan for ethical reasons (although I know I should) I'm just not that good of a person yet. BUT I can say that I think about it a lot and need to educate myself more in that area.

I have 4 children who were raised on a varied diet. Not vegan. And although they are very super amazing for eating what's on the dinner table, there are times my 11 year old and 14 year old boys BEG me for steak. It's hard because they remember the old days and the old favorites. And although they have MANY new favorites there are still times that they crave it. And so I will prepare some meat for them once in a while. This blog is about just that.

For many of us, life can not be 100%. Especially if you are just beginning to introduce veggie meals to your family - you need some tips so they don't FREAK out - as kids (and sometimes husbands) will do. But not mine of course. Oh no.

Here are a few tips that will help the natives not FREAK out if there is no meat on the table:

1. bread & butter. Always have some kind of yummy bread, cornbread, rolls, biscuits etc. if you are serving a low-fat vegan meal. Don't stress about it being healthy. YOU don't have to eat it!

2. Whatever you make: soups, quick breads, pastas, etc. - if it is not "rich" enough for non-deprived palets let them add a bit of butter or olive oil to theirs on THEIR plate, instead of putting it in the whole dish. Again, YOU don't have to eat it! And they won't use very much.

3. Once in a while make your kids something they want. We do this about once a month. If we go out we don't force them to eat veggie - but sometimes a few of my kids will anyways.

4. Don't frown on what they eat. (Or make them feel guilty) Just enjoy what you are eating. Eventually they will start to like your favorites too.

Do you have any tips to share?

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