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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the great meat debate

There is nothing wrong with eating your vegetables, or even just liking them in the first place.

So many times I have been asked, "Are you a vegetarian?" "Do you not eat meat?" "What's with the bird food?" No and no. That bird food, it's actually healthier for you than those candies or chips sitting in your cupboard.

I think so many people are scared to try anything different, and get their protein from other sources than meat, meat, and more meat. Sure, for some people it's all about flavor and texture and the fact that they're digging into a big ol' hunk of meat. But the real reason, in my opinion, that people are so "steak and potatoes" is that they are scared to try new foods, because they might just like them. Also, extra lean meat does not mean less flavor!

I asked my dad quite frequently when he was home, "Could you go a day without meat?" He told me he couldn't, and wasn't quite sure why. Every time I cook something and invite my boyfriend over for supper, "Is there meat in this?" I just don't understand. Neither of them really care for lentils or beans or any veggie burger. (<- one of the best veggie burgers out there )

I am not, by any means, saying don't eat meat. Just make healthy choices! That triple-layer burger with all the fixings? You could have had a full meal including dessert for all of those calories! Your body will thank you later. 


While I do enjoy some extra lean ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey (when our little grocery store actually has it in) once in a while, it isn't cut it out of my diet completely. I just don't depend on it. And there's a little thing called portion control! Our plates are often full of veggies in this house! 


Sorry to all of you carnivores (or as I was once corrected, omnivores) out there, but there are so many wonderful foods out there, that don't include meat, and rely solely on the flavors of the dish, not the meat that's served with or in it!


*end rant*


Yesterday, as you all know, was Meatless Monday. I have been the top chef for supper for most Monday's for the last 2 or 3 months. Sure there were a few weeks when my dad made supper and we kind of all did our own thing, but mostly it was up to me. Well, I kind of volunteer myself every week. No big deal. :)

In our house, my mother and I have been on a spaghetti squash kick lately, and our little grocery store needs to keep up with the supply and demand. So basically, stock up when you can!


I got up yesterday at 1 pm, after working a night shift at my new job (woot!). Did my regular morning routine of breakfast and tea, then sought out a new recipe to use my spaghetti squash in. 


Stuffed spaghetti squash was out, since we've made that quite a few times lately. I came across a recipe for pad thai, then I thought about curry.

Sure enough, the Google never disappoints and I found this wonderful recipe! It was super easy, one pan and one roasting sheet! Next time I will definitely be using light coconut milk, and more spice. Yum!!



Thai Curry Spaghetti Squash
Adapted from Aggie's Kitchen



Ingredients:
  • 1 spaghetti squash, roasted and scraped from shell
  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
  • 1.5 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk (LIGHT if you can!!)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • green onions
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions:


Roast your spaghetti squash, about 45 minutes @ 400 degrees, or until insides fall away easily when scraped with a fork.


Heat oil with red pepper flakes over medium high heat in a large skillet/frying pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft.
 Add veggies to pan and saute. Add your curry past to pan and mix everything together. Add tamari and brown sugar to pan and mix til well blended. Add coconut milk (don't forget to shake!) and stir to blend well. Simmer.
Add fresh lime juice, green onion and cilantro (if using) Serve hot over spaghetti squash.


For a recipe I had never tried before this was amazing! Next time I think it'll need a little more heat, and light coconut milk would have DEFINITELY made a difference in the fat! But I haven't seen the last of this one.


For 1/2 cup sauce + 2 cups spaghetti squash (calories will vary according to brands used)
Calories - 263, Fat - 16 g, Carbs - 30 g, Fiber - 5.4 g, Protein - 4 g

xo
Lauren

- Do you eat meat every day? Do you think you could survive a week without?
- Do you get your servings of vegetables each day?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

comforting

I love my family. I love food. That is all there is to it. I mainly crave food because of the good feelings that surround it. I can eat turkey dinner with all the fixin's and say "You know what would be good for supper tomorrow? *insert tasty food here*" regardless of how full I am. It is definitely because of the amazing foods and desserts I had growing up. I have learned to appreciate a good meal, and the hard work behind it. 


I grew up with my grandmother's cooking for all of my life. She could take the simplest things and make magic! She worked hard to feed her man and her squawking children my mom and aunties. I mean, I don't think I know anyone else that could take tomato soup, macaroni, cheese, and crackers and make a meal fit for a queen. 

The aforementioned mac and cheese!


She definitely is a lady with a knack for cooking and a wicked green thumb! She and my grandfather had this house with gardens of all sorts around it. Most of the gardens she started when my mom and aunts were just little babies. Every time I would come down, even for the weekend, we would always walk around the gardens, and see what was growing. If it was summer we would go out and pick currants or carrots or snap yellow and green beans off of their little vines. My grampie would usually be in his little shop tinkering around with some parts, making his latest invention. There would always be a pot of my favorite stew with doughboys cooking in the house, because Grammie knows that is my favorite meal! I will sure miss going back to that house this summer. So many memories.


HODGE PODGE!
My mother also had (and still has) a love of food and gardening. Our house in Nova Scotia had so many flower beds, and we had a small garden every summer in the back yard. We would go out and pick home-grown baby potatoes, carrots and string beans and make the most comforting thing in the world, hodge podge. It is just what its name says - a hodge podge of fresh vegetables and cream and salt and pepper. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but most comfort foods never are! I know she misses her gardens just as much as I do. There's something about flowers and fresh vegetables that I love. Not to mention the finer things in life, like a delicious slab of that french chocolate cheesecake, with ooey-gooey caramel sauce staring you right in the face.

I miss my homeland. The family that is there. The good times. I am blessed to have such a great family. 
Maritimers turned Albertans at the beach!
One of my favorite cousins. Miss you bud!!
These are all pictures taken around my grandmother's gardens... Nature is the best model.









The meal I made today just made me think of all of this. Comfort. 


Slow-Cooker Chili with Chicken 
Adapted from Kraft Kitchen's recipe


Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 jar of salsa (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (if you don't have this, just use regular)
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt, pepper, seasonings of your choice
  • Optional toppings : cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, crackers

Directions:


Combine first four ingredients in slow cooker.
Top with chicken, onion, red peppers, corn and seasonings. 
Cover with lid. Depending on your crock pot's settings, cooking time will vary. My chili was cooked for 4 hrs 30 min. 


Serve and enjoy!
Makes 10 servings
Per serving (without toppings):
Calories - 162, Fat - 6 g, Carbs - 14.4 g, Fiber - 3.6 g, Protein - 13 g

This was the ultimate comfort food. The whole family slurped it down! The whole time I was eating it, thoughts of home flooded my brain along with the feelings that went along with those good times! 


Love you guys, and miss you so much!


xo
Lauren

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

spring is finally here!

Springtime is....

..being able to have a fire and makes s'mores,
 ..touches of new life everywhere,
..laying in the green grass that is slowly peeking through,
And looking slightly dead...

..bringing out my favorite flip flops,

 .. the warm sun shining on my face,
..highways in the sky,
..spring colors in the napkin holder,
..and colorful (delicious) food!! 
Well that's an all season kind of thing!!


Today's recipe was adapted from Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life's recipe. It was so colorful and so tasty, it just reminded me of all these wonderful things that spring will bring.


Veggie-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Makes 2 big servings 


Ingredients:
I am very possessive of my cheese :)

  • 1 spaghetti squash (this one yielded about 3.5 cups)
  • 2.5 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (one can never have enough garlic)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup button mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I used Hunt's Diced - Basil & Oregano)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup pasta sauce/marinara sauce + 1/4 cup for topping (I used Eating Right Tomato Basil pasta sauce)
  • Basil, oregano, salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp shredded cheese (Kraft Tex Mex Light)
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping
Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Prep your spaghetti squash by cutting in half length-wise and scooping out the seeds. Drizzle each half with a SMALL amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet and roast until squash comes away easily when scraped with a fork.
Cooking time will all depend on the size of your squash. Mine took about 40 minutes.
While your squash is in the oven, cut up all of your veggies.

In large pan over medium heat, saute garlic and onion. 
Add carrots, mushrooms and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach has wilted down.

Once your squash is cooked, let cool for about 10 minutes. Or less, if you're impatient and hungry like me. Scrape insides of squash into a large bowl.
Add your sauteed vegetables, breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup pasta sauce, 3/4 cup cheese, and your spices to the bowl. 
 Mix until well blended, and divide filling between the two squash bowls. Top with remaining pasta sauce, cheese, and fresh parmesan. Bake until heated through and cheese has melted!

For half of this recipe (not half of a half!) :
Calories - 359, Fat - 14 g, Carbs - 48, Fibre - 9.8g, Protein - 18


It was absolutely freaking delicious, and I can't wait to make it again. Next time though I will play around the different cheeses I could use (feta, dry curd cottage cheese) to make it a bit healthier. But I HEART VEGGIES! YAY MONDAY!


Thumbs up for 20 degree temperatures!

I feel like Emma Pilsbury. HOORAY! HOORAY!! GLEE KIDS HOORAY!
xo
Lauren


- What is your favorite part of spring?
- Do you have a favorite season?