Monday, May 10, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have Item #5

Leafy greens!

I've been yammering about them for some time. To be honest, I didn't know what #5 should be, but as I've been deciding what foods should be "ubiquitized," leafy greens kept pooping up, finally taking their spot at #5.

Remember, I hate them, but I love what they can do for me.

Their best use for me is bulk. I can bulk out a canned soup, an omelet, a burrito, smoothie (green monsters, roaar!) or a meat entree with them. I up the nutritional value of any dish with them, without added effort. I also don't taste them, and when I add them raw, I lower the chances of destroying all of the water-soluble vitaminy goodness (vitamin C, B complex).

Another use: lazy side dish salad. Sometimes, I can't think of what I want to go with my meal, however, if I have some greens and haven't eaten enough veggies for the day, I put out some greens, lemon juice and fresh herbs (if I have on hand) or just salt & pepper, and I have a quick side dish.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do you know the muffin man?

You should. Then you should find out what he bakes in.

Muffins tins are excellent multitaskers as they can play a major role in portion control. Last week for lunch, I used a modified muffin tin, a mini-loaf pan, to make individual meatloaves. I had meat that I could eat hands on! So, aside from the gluttonous-perk, I had built in calorie/portion control as each loaf weighed in at 2 oz of meat.

I've also used muffin tins to do assembly-style breakfast, such as mini-quiches and egg scrambles for breakfast sandwiches.

Another benefit: by increasing the surface area of your entree, you shorten the cooking time. So, where a meatloaf can take as long as 40 minutes to an hour to cook, mini meatloaves take about 25 to 30 minutes. It takes no extra effort as you "downsize" some of your favorite recipes. The only additional step is that you have to grease/lin the tines and perhaps adjust the oven temp or cooking time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

There's a monster in the blender...

One of my co-workers will periodically ask me about leafy greens, although I don't know why. I suppose she figures that since I eat healthy that I must love to eat all healthy things.

So, I tell her leafy greens are probably some of the best nutritional bargains out there. They're full of vitamins, minerals, and very low in calories. They're gorgeous to look at while they're still in bunches. You can get several pounds of them (when frozen) for a mere 1-2 dollars at the grocery.

They also are notoriously bitter. Ugh. I can eat them, but I have to hide them in casseroles, wraps, soups and omelets. I kind of hate them, but I won't tell her that.

Incidentally, we discovered green monsters: shakes or juices that incorporate greens and yield a drink mixture. Google it!

Her doctor recommended blending greens such as spinach, kale, and collard with a bit of ginger. It was horrible. I suspect her doctor has no taste buds because they all committed suicide from drinking that thing.

Fear not! There's a better way. One of my healthy obsessions, Herbal Flavors, serves its own variety of a green monster, and it's pretty good. The banana in it kills the bitterness, but since it's a smoothie, it's raw, so little or no nutrients are lost. It also keeps your taste buds from committing suicide. I make a copycat of their green monster because their green monster is five bucks-a-pop. Their green monster eats all the green out of my wallet if I indulge too often.

It's pretty nifty when you can replicate dining out faves at home. For a green monster, use my smoothie guide and a basic/bland base (milk/juice -thickener- sweetener - extra: vanilla) . Adjust it by adding a cup of leafy greens. I also like to add nutmeg, it's spicy and pungent which compliments well with baby spinach (my green of choice).

I have pics, but have no idea how to get them out of my phone. That's a whole different monster to contend with.