Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Wonderful World of Cookbooks

For the past few months, I've been discovering the joys of having complete control over what I eat. From planing to purchasing, its all me (with input from my hubby of course!). I love this freedom to pursue a super healthy diet and to create delicious and satisfying meals in my kitchen.  And although its fun to create my own recipes, sometimes you just need structure. Ok, maybe most of the time. This brings us to the wonderful world of cookbooks! I L-O-V-E cookbooks. I'm talking all kinds of cookbooks, from the classic Betty Crocker to the brand-new The Best of Clean Eating 2. The cookbooks below are the ones I rely on in my kitchen. Some you may know intimately, but I'm willing to bet at least a few will be new friends for you to discover!

1. The Best of Clean Eating is hands down my favorite cookbook right now. The recipes inside these pages are delicious, healthy, and (mostly) uncomplicated. I highly recommend adding this one to your bookshelf- it's well worth the money!

2. Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free* is another well-loved cookbook in my house. When I purchased this cookbook I was living at home and my mom was living gluten-free for health reasons. Right now the hubby and I aren't living a gluten-free lifestyle, but I still rely on SS&GF for go-to recipes like the Make-Ahead Chicken I made Monday night. It's full of healthy recipes for entrees, salads, and side dishes not to mention desserts! And if you are trying to live gluten-free or even partially gluten-free this book is a MUST! *Just a note- she does use dairy in her recipes. I've found that its very simple to substitute a non-dairy milk or just leave out the dairy in most of the recipes without issues.

3. In our house the Betty Crocker Cookbook comes in handy whenever meats are for dinner. The handy charts that tell you exactly how to cook any imaginable type of meat are a MUST! Most of the recipes are fairly healthy or easily adapted to fit a clean eating lifestyle.

Those are my top 3 at the moment. I also have a few others that I am currently getting to know, but the jury is out on whether I love them as much as the first three:

4. The Best of Clean Easting 2 just arrived from Amazon last week. I haven't had a chance to really sit down with it, but after a quick skim it looks promising!

5.  I've had the Master Your Metabolism Cookbook for a while, but I never needed a cookbook until I was married and so it just sat on the shelf. I pulled it out Sunday and made a killer batch of Blueberry Banana Muffins. I guarantee this will become a favorite. All the recipes are clean and natural- what else would you expect from Jillian Michaels?! ;)

There is one more...but you'll have to stay in suspense because I have a special post planned for this baby. :D

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday! Monday is finally over and that means the weekend is one day closer! YAY!

On Saturday, I bought two-weeks worth of groceries (produce not included).  As part of this grand scheme of mine, I also created a rough, two-week meal plan. Costco has great prices on organic meats such as ground beef, chicken breasts/thighs, and whole chickens. However, like all things from Costco they come in LARGE packages! It took some fancy freezer rearranging, but everything now fits. :D

Last night I made the package of whole chickens. One was roasted for dinner and the other was stewed, poached, whatever you call it on the stove for future meals (i.e., Black Bean Tostadas from the cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free; chicken salad, etc.). It took a loooong time to make, but it will be so worth it next week when I am able to put delicious dinners on the table in a matter of minutes.

Our dinner was delish- Herb-Roasted Chicken, butternut squash, and sauteed kale. The Roasted Chicken was extremely juicy thanks to roasting with a lemon nestled inside! And we have leftovers galore for lunches and meal re-dos.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to share because, quite frankly, I was too exhausted after 4 hours in the kitchen to bother taking any.  I will leave you with a recipe for sauteed kale. It isn't the most amazing dish, but it is amazingly healthy and if you have trouble eating your greens, this is one way to make them more tasty. I may have said this before, but kale is also great to detox your body-perfect for me because I am now eating clean and back on a workout schedule! I promise a post in the near future on my workout plan-I'm already seeing muscle definition and that is the biggest motivator!

Sauteed Kale

1 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch kale
1 sweet onion, chopped
garlic cloves, minced (I think I used 2-3, but adjust depending on your love of garlic)
salt to taste

Saute onion and garlic. Once cooked, add kale and saute until the green are tender. It took about 10-15 minutes on my stove. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.

<3 K.E.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

Hello again!

Last week was quite the doozy for us- I came down with a bug on Wednesday that pretty much put me out of commission for the rest of the week. The hubby caught it a few days later. Fun fun fun- NOT. So our healthy fare tanked and we ended up eating Taco Bell, Jimmy Hulas, and Giovanni's Italian take out. Not the worst foods out there (so long as you choose carefully), but definitely not 100% clean eating fare either! Anyway, we're back on track as of this weekend and for lunch today had an amazing italian chicken salad with fresh romaine (Farmer's Market!), alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and Annie's Tuscan Italian dressing. It was a fabulous reminder of why I enjoy eating healthy. It will be on our quick, easy lunches list. :)

Despite getting off track, I managed to cook up a batch of my favorite pancakes this weekend- blueberry oatmeal pancakes. These pancakes are light, fluffy, and oh-so yummy! They're also pretty healthy. Here is the recipe and a few photographs as embellishment. Try these the next time you need a weekend breakfast, just pair them with scrabled eggs or chicken sausages for protein

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbs coconut sugar
2 Tbs aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1.5 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups almond milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
Step 1- Preheat a lightly oiled griddle over medium heat.
Step 2- In a large bowl, mix whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oats, almond milk, eggs, and oil. Mix until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries.

Step 3- Pour batter 1/4cup at a time onto prepared griddle. Cook 1-2 minutes until bubbly. Flip and continue cooking until lightly browned.

Serve with 100% maple syrup (not that artificial stuff!) and enjoy!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sunday Morning Breakfast

I know I promised to post my meal plan for the week...The weekend was kind of hectic and I ended up just buying meats and proteins that were on sale- salmon, shrimp, beef roasts, boneless skinless chicken thighs. I'm going to wing it this week and see how it goes. We're going for simpler meals that are well-balanced instead of elaborate recipes. I think it will be a refreshing change of pace.

To make up for my lack of meal planning and recipes, I have a photo of the scrumptious breakfast we had Sunday morning! I've been trying to use everything we purchase and sometimes there are leftover veggies so I turn them into breakfast! Last week we had leftover kale, mushrooms, bell peppers, avocado and onions. So Sunday morning I made a fabulous omelet and we paired it with whole grain toast and an organic orange.

The portions may have been a little large, but when it is 70% veggies...I think you can let it slide.

<3 K.E.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My First Flop & Meal Planning

After two months of married- and food- bliss, I finally met a recipe I didn't like: French Onion Soup. I followed the recipe exactly, but the end result was nothing like the photo in my cookbook and we ended up eating fresco Taco Bell. Oh well. I guess that is how it goes- you win some food battles and you lose some. Needless to say, I will be steering clear of onion soup in the future.

On a brighter note: it is Friday, which means it is time to plan meals, make a grocery list, and go grocery shopping- three things that I love doing. My meal planning usually starts by checking the weekly sales online for Publix and Whole Foods. Then I browse through clean eating blogs and my cookbooks to see if anything strikes my fancy and correlates to items on sale. 

Tip:  I always make a recipe that serves at least 4, leaving enough leftovers for lunch the next day.  This saves prep time in the morning and you end up with a more nutritious midday meal.

Just for fun, here is my meal plan from this week. I haven't developed next week's yet- I get to play with that goodness tonight! (Which I will share this weekend along with a few of the recipes!)

Monday- Shrimp Scampi
Tuesday- Grilled Flank Steak with Jicama Relish
Wednesday- Chicken Pot Pie
Thursday- French Onion Soup (Yes, this was the great idea turned total flop.)
Friday- Black-eyed Pea Stew

I know this coming week will have at least one dish with shrimp because wild caught shrimp is onsale for $5.99/lb at Whole Foods! What a great price! 

How do you plan your meals? What are you having for dinner this week?

<3 K.E.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Goals

Can you believe it is January 2012?! I feel like it was just January 2011 and I was planing my wedding to the love of my life. Now 2012 is here. I'm excited and a little nervous. 2012 isn't only the next year of my life- it is also my first New Year as a wife, so my priorities and goals are a little different then they were, say, last year.

In the spirit of "change" I have decided to choose goals for 2012 instead of making resolutions. Goals are things that enrich our lives. Things that make our lives more meaningful, more fulfilling, more exciting...more anything. Resolutions imply that something is inherently wrong or out of place with our lives. Resolutions set us up for failure because we are telling ourselves that already we are failures- too fat, too skinny, too unhealthy, not beautiful enough, not accomplished enough, etc. Fill in the blank. I think most people are guilty of this self-deprecation. This year I am choosing to believe in myself. Believe in my ability to accomplish something that will help me to live a full, happy life. So my goals for 2012 are... <drum roll please!>

2012 Goals

1.  Practice yoga weekly. Yoga clears my mind of all the stress and anxiety that comes during the week. It helps me to find my center and I leave my practice feeling rejuvenated, vibrant, and limber. Not to mention the health benefits- more flexibility, better posture, increased strength.

2.  Adhere to a monthly budget. This will most likely be the most challenging for me. I like to spend money. A lot. Eekk!

3.  Eat Clean 80% of the time.  I have a feeling we will easily exceed this goal, but I wanted it to be reasonable. After all, the 80-20 Rule really does work well in keeping perfectionism at bay- and I won't beat myself up if I throw clean eating to the wind every now and then. ;)

4.  Move my body 4x week.  Whether it is running, strength training, pilates, kickboxing, etc., I want to focus on movement. Being active at least 4 days per week is a small goal, but something I can achieve.

And finally...

5.  Spend an hour each week doing something that is personally enriching.  This could be blogging, writing, spending time with friends, reading, learning a new hobby, practicing my photography. Anything that cares for me as an individual and enables me to grow.

I plan on revisiting these goals periodically to track my progress. Hopefully, I will follow through on them since this blog will hold me accountable!

And no blog post is complete without a recipe! This one does not have any specific measurements. You just have to wing it.

New Year's Peach Fizz

Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Frozen Peaches

Combine sparking wine and frozen peaches in blender. Adjust amount until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Happy New Year everyone!