Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PS...I Love You

I read a Weight Watcher article about 7 Ways to Eat Smarter. The first tip was to sneak veggies into your dishes. I was all, "I do that already! That's great! But why is it sneaking?!?"

Theory: we shy away from vegetables for so many socially primed reason we don't even realize how awesome they can be.

This is where I will yap about salad PS..I Love You.

Pasta Salad: The Next Generation.

Yesterday I did a "cabbage in the straw" quick fix. Cabbage in the straw is a 30-min meal recipe from Rachael Ray. Basically I matched thin whole wheat spaghetti up with shredded green cabbage. I paid just 1.59 for the cabbage, which is 3x as much as I paid for the pasta.

Yup. I paid 39 cents for the pasta. Coupons baby!

The point is...aside from bragging...pasta and vegetables come in such a large variety and many of them are very, very, very cheap. Or, can be made very, very affordable. If a box of pasta costs let's say 2 bucks. Eventually it goes on sale because of it's shelf life (gotta clear inventory) or you have a coupon. Now, it's affordable. It's very, very, very affordable when you stretch out an 7-8 cup serving box of pasta with vegetables.

So, back to dinner: I took one of my splurgers, pesto, and added it to my quick fix. You can can also stretch out pesto with a ubiquitous item, chicken stock. So, literally my dinner costs me under $2 a serving. Maybe 3 when you add the pesto.

What is also great about pasta salad is that you can flavor transfer, so you're not eating the same ol' salad. You can match like shapes with like with like such as thin spaghetti with shredded cabbage, floret vegetables (broccoli or cauliflower) with elbow noodles (macaroni), spherical with spherical (gemelli w/ beans). Or, jsut go against the grain and mix it all up. You really have a great tabula rasa with pasta salads. You can get gluten free mixes or whole grain if you don't do white starch or looking to up your nutritional profile.

Go where no man has gone before people. Yes, I made a star trek reference. Shush and make me a salad.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wrapmaster Flash

Today, I successfully made a lettuce burrito. Many, many, many times I have tried to do the deed and many, many, many times I have failed. The stem is too tough and wham -- burrito breakage. The filling is too great or goupy and wham --- burrito breakage. Or, I just can't hack the wrap, folding this way or that way -- and wham -- no breakage -- just me impatiently dumping the contents onto a plate and calling it a salad.

So, be it dumb luck or just ascertaining a new level of wrapping skill, I got it.

Here's my theory.

There's a certain technique yes, but also a certain leaf. I had a very large romaine leaf, about the length of a sheet of paper, and it was half-crisp and half limp. I cut off half the stem, placed my filling (chicken breast) towards the stem part, not the side of the leaf or the middle, as you would normally place filling in a wrap or taco. Then, I just went for it. The limp end, I folded envelope-burrito style and left them stem alone. The sturdiness of the stem supported the chicken breast, while the leaves, limp enough so that they behave like a blanket, encloses the filling. Note that by folding just the one end, the stem behaves as an opening, or a tasty entry into deliciousness.

I got skillz.

Sort of.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Urge to splurge - Part II

So, last time on MacGuyver...

So without listing what foods I think you should have as splurges -- because the whole point of this site is for you to decide -- I will give examples of my own splurge worthy items as inspiration.

So, technically it's a list but it doesn't include specific foods. Yay technicality!

I splurge regularly. But that's because I can, I love to, and I don't eat out to frequently because this currently fits my needs & lifestyle. So I shell out $$$ for certain items. And they are...

  • Treats! If I love it, I should have it, and just set aside a bit of cash for one or two of my favorites to have on hand. Sometimes, having a treat is the healthiest thing you can do. Just not every day, and every meal. Treats can be anything, fancy cookies, artisan breads, select cuts of meat, whatever you deem a treat is a treat.
  • Nuts! I had some curried nuts from a Farmer's market, and they were awesome. I bought them for company. But, instead of serving the whole container, I put it into two cute little bowls along with other snacks, and served them. I still have half of a container left. And, if I like, I can freeze them. And I liked the idea, so I did.
  • Oils! A ubiquitous item for starters and other oils like sesame or peanut, can be very valuable and splurge worthy because a little bit of oil can go a long way.
  • Cheese! Specifically, a nice aged cheese like parmesan, or my current favorite, Peccorino. I can grate it over eggs, salads, pasta, mac & cheese, pizza...sometimes, I just eat a sliver. And, when it begins to mold, you can actually just shave/slice the mold off and the rest of the cheese is okay. For germa-phobes or those serving others, you can usually buy the cheese wedge in various sizes, as it is often sold by weight, so grab a smaller wedge.
  • Weird Fruit! I like sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil) and avocados. Avocados can actually be prepped and frozen to be used in recipes were they're usually cooked. Sundried tomatoes can be rinsed, dried and stored in the fridge to last for months without a spec of mold. Certain fruits just have odd staying power and great flavor. You have to discover which weird fruit suits you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Urge to splurge - Part I

Healthy eating is usually synonymous with ZZzzzzzzZZZZ.

Or $$$$.

For ZZZzzzzZZZ...wake up. If you choose to eat dull, bland foods, of course it's a chore. Wake up and be creative, but really let's explore the other issue for a sec.

The $$$ because nonfat foods are often harder to produce. Or, ingredients used to make healthy foods require labor intensive production. I was watching Bizarre Foods last night.; the amount of time, labor and process to yield cashews were just ridiculous. But, cashews are sooo good, so I deem it worth the money, especially once you know the effort it takes to get it.

Sometimes spending some cheddar on good cheddar can solve both problems. You just have to do some prep work to do it. Here are some guidelines:

  • What am I buying? If I don't know what is, I'll seek info and see where I can use it. I love for this very reason.
  • Shelf-life...freezing things does wonders for shelf life...the longer the items last, the better the cost/time ratio.
  • Flavor. Your food should nourish you, yes, but it can also taste awesome. These things are not mutually exclusive.

Many of my ubiquitous items, so far 4-10 are up on FLNI. A lot of them take these guidelines into consideration, making them excellent staples for your kitchen and your diet.

More to come on this topic......tune in, same bat time, same bat channel.