Friday, March 26, 2010

Healthy Obsessions

Frozen vegetables. Not very exciting. I know...

It's like your first run to the library, pre-DVD. There's all this knowledge and books and it's freeeeeeeeeeeee. You get to take it home for nothing. Vegetables are like that. Only, you can't loan them out. But, they're low calorie, some nearly calorie free, and you get all these health benefits for next to nothing.

Lately, I've been noticing coupons for Green giant vegetables. They have a steamed variety similar to Bird's eye Steamfresh as well as having a "Just for one" variety. They also go on sale frequently, so coupon + sale = healthy food for 1-2 bucks.

I like using the lightly seasoned ones with pasta, easy and nutritious.
It's also portable, you can take the box or bag to work, and if you have a microwave, you have fresh veggies all you have to do is add some lean protein (last week I snagged canned tuna for 50 cents) and you're good to go.

It would be awesome if vegetables had their own card. I'd use a veggie card. Only, the vegetables can't be "used" and on loan. That would not be awesome.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have Item #7


No, not the acid you trip on. I mean the big C, citric acid, the one you find in citrus fruits like lemons, lime and grapefruit.

A little acid goes a long way. Although citric fruits can be tart and sour, bits of juice and their essential oils behave like the right degree of bass and treble to a song. It amps up the dish's flavor and perks up the subtle notes.

So, what if you hate lemon? Use a lime, tangerine, grapefruit, even strawberries. These all have vast amount of vitamin C, and all of them (except strawberries) can be zested (grated with a hand grater or microplane) to provide the same flavor bump, but without added liquid or juice.

If you're lazy (I could say opposed but not buying fruit and squeezing a slice is kind of lazy) try the bottled kind, but get the true lemon or true orange instead of the concentrate. While the latter keeps really long in the fridge, (I admit to having lemon concentrate, I do -- shame!), it lacks a lil' something, something. I also prefer having the fruit because I can use it for both juicing and zesting; zest in a spice bottle can dry out over time and buying juice in a bottle -- lacks a lil' something something.

I like saying, a lil' something, something.

Just did it again. Anyhow. That's why acid is a must for me. The fruit, not the bad acid.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have #8

Olive and canola oil!

They share the spot, they are BFFs in my kitchen.

Olive oil is like the really hot friend with the killer shoes. It's a great butter swap and the extra-virgin variety has the highest amount of monounsaturated fat of all oils.

I know, I know, nothing can replace butter, but have you ever made a stir-fry with garlic infused olive oil??? It makes butter look like a prom queen -- 20 years later -- with all it saturated fat and easy plasticity. Using the spritzer bottle trick, you can use it as a go to fat to start most your recipes and reduce the amount of butter you usually use (I know butter-lovers -- it's hard to let go).

Canola oil is kinda the unattractive friend with the awesome personality and dry wit. It doesn't have a flavor to it. However, it's got a great ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat. You can use it to replace some of the butter in cake recipes, usually up to half, and still get a nice moist product. I learned this from Elie Krieger.

I've also used canola as a "fatback." I add a teaspoon of it to nonfat products. Seems dumb -- why don't I just buy the full fat product?? You can't control the amount of fat when you buy the full fat, with adding back canola oil, I know the fat I'm chewing. It's really great to add to nonfat yogurt and nonfat hot chocolate (when blended with a mixer or blender), you get the rich taste and mouthfeel and the benefits of unsaturated fat.

I <3 my BFFs and so does my actual heart!!

(Good EVOO cooking tips can be found here)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have #9 is...

Stock in a box!

Totally stolen from Rachael Ray. Stock in a box is AWESOME! Firstly, it's shelf stable like canned goods, until opening.

Stock in a box is my go to for adding flavor in recipes where water is used. So, for rice, grains, some sauces, soups, even boiled meatballs, I use stock. I love that Kitchen Basics makes an unsalted variety now. The amount of stock you use in a recipe is equal to the amount of water, but I find that I can stretch (in other words: be uber cheap) by using a mix of water and stock actually. The flavor is usually concentrated enough that it survives being watered down.

Another great thing about stock in a box is that it tends to be actual stock. Someone else has done all the work for you -- making actual stock is a patient, time consuming process, one that I hope to never perform.

Now,if I could get Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake to make a digital short about it...