Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vegetable Ragout

Okay so this is one I tried the other night because I was looking to make a healthy choice, and use up some veggies in our fridge. I put it on ravioli, so that probably wasn't the most healthy option one could use, but it's a lot better than a white sauce or some such (I used to just toss the ravioli in butter, parmesan, and some garlic powder...definitely not a good choice!) You could easily put it on whole wheat spaghetti, or any other pasta out there.  I do recommend you serve it with some kind of protein.  Because I was having it with a mixture of beef and cheese raviolis (half a bag of each kind) we had plenty in the dish, but if you were serving it with spaghetti, I would maybe add a chicken breast or something.

Anyway, here goes.

Vegetable Ragout

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced and separated (I'll include some handy tips below)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones) or 1 regular eggplant, peeled and diced
1 jar or can of plain traditional marinara sauce (not the four cheese or the meat flavored, though the mushroom would work well)
salt and pepper

Slice the little rooty end off the leek, and take off the tough green top (you just want the tender white part which will be about 4 inches long).  Slice the white part thinly and place the slices in a bowl of cold water.  Once all of the slices are in the cold water, then use your fingers to separate the layers. This hopefully will loosen the dirt and grit that gets between the layers of the leek and the dirt should sink to the bottom of the bowl while the leek should float to the top.  Skim off the top and dry well with a paper towel or clean dish towel.

Place the eggplant in a microwave safe dish and liberally sprinkle with sea salt. Microwave for 6 minutes, then drain off the excess liquid and set aside. (this helps get rid of excess water from the eggplant so the sauce doesn't end up really wet.)

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add leeks and saute for awhile til they reduce in size and become tender. Add carrots and continue to stir, keep going til the carrots become tender but do not lose their texture or become mushy. Add the eggplant and stir and cook for a bit, and then add your marinara.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you like, feel free to add some granulated garlic or oregano.

Serve over your favorite pasta, or on chicken or whatever you like. Enjoy!

**A serving of this recipe by itself without pasta or chicken, etc., is roughly 70 calories, depending on the marinara sauce you use. Much less than if you used a meat sauce made from ground beef or even ground turkey.**

Monday, February 25, 2013

Turkey Tacos

As my first recipe for my "get healthy lifestyle," we tried ground turkey tacos tonight. One of my closest friends suggested substituting ground turkey where I would normally use ground beef and see if I could tell the difference.  I decided to give it a try.  So tonight we had ground turkey tacos in whole wheat tortillas.  They turned out fantastic!  Definitely a repeat recipe.  I hope you'll try them and like them as much we did.

Ground Turkey Tacos

1.25 lbs of ground turkey or ground turkey breast
1 tbsp olive oil (to keep things from sticking)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, coriander, chili powder
1 c water
pkg of whole wheat tortillas

optional toppings: grated cheese (can use low fat, I chose to use regular and just use less. extra sharp cheddar allows me to use lots less and still get good flavor), fresh guacamole (I made it with 1 avocado, a bit of salt and cayenne pepper, and some lemon juice.  It's a heart healthy fat, so don't use too much of it, but don't skip it because of the fat, either), diced tomatoes, shredded green leaf lettuce, salsa, light sour cream, jalapenos....the possibilities are endless.

In a hot skillet, add olive oil and turkey and brown as if it's ground beef.  Add taco seasoning and other spices, and stir.  Add water and simmer for about 5 minutes to allow to thicken. Add beans and peppers and stir and saute a bit.  Serve hot with tortillas and toppings. I had 2 and with the toppings I used, including the tortillas and turkey and beans, they were each about 250 calories.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Getting Healthy

Okay, dear readers.  I am going to try and change things up just a little bit.  I have realized that my life could use a bit of a face lift, if you will, in the way of more activity and less calories.

Two weeks ago, I began watching The Biggest Loser (starting with season 1) on our Hulu Plus account.  I realized that I was heavier than several of the contestants, and shorter too.  I realize that not everyone is the same, and that I have certain limitations of course, but I need to do something to get back on track and get healthier. Watching the transformations of the contestants, and also watching their journeys, and hearing the trainers tips has given me some motivation to really get myself going again.

I need to do this for a 2-fold reason: the first is because I need to be here for my husband and son for many more years. Not only has my weight gotten out of control, but my cholesterol has, too. I can't keep going on the way I have if I want to keep going for another 60 or so years.

The second reason is because I would REALLY like to get back to the size I was when I met my husband 6 years ago. I'd be happier if I could get smaller, but being realistic here and knowing I have had a baby since then and my hips are not what they once were....pre-wedding size would be great!

In order to achieve my goals I have decided to change my diet and be more active. I am not going crazy about the diet, just less carbs, more protein, more veggies and fruit, and lots less fat (especially of the red meat, butter, cheese and egg variety).  I am trying to incorporate more fish into my diet, and chicken, and I will be trying some egg white recipes as well. I've been using olive oil a lot more than butter.  And while I love cheese, it's just not great for my cholesterol.  I have some health limitations that do not allow me to take cholesterol medication, so I need to be very careful about my diet as a result.

I'm working on being more active by playing some games on the Xbox Kinect my husband and I own, and in the spring I plan to walk outside more and take my son to the park, and overall just get moving. I plan to also eventually add in some yoga, some weight lifting, and other stuff. But for now I am just trying to get off my rear and do something better than sit on the couch.  Right now that is in the form of dance games on the Kinect because I enjoy it and I can keep at it because it is fun.

This relates to this blog because of the recipe aspect of things.  Because I will not be eating a lot of butter, red meat, cheese, and egg yolks, you may see some marked changes to my blog with recipes involving quinoa, ground turkey, ground chicken, egg whites, other grains, etc. Some things will just be substituting ground turkey for hamburger, and some will be just different because I am changing my lifestyle.

I hope you will join me in my new quest, and I hope you enjoy the recipes as well.  I'd love your feedback if you have any, so please feel free to comment when you feel like it. I'd love to hear some substitutions you've used that would help my life style changes. Of course if anyone wants to join me in trying to lose weight and cooking in a more healthy way, please feel free. I may start posting progress as I go, as far as weight lost and such.

Until then, here's to happy, healthy cooking!