Monday, January 25, 2016

Quick and Easy 20s

This post is in honor of my not having time to create any new 20s at the moment.  These are quick and easy ideas when you're wanting to make something sweet!

Monday, January 18, 2016

80--- Crockpot Kamut and Mushroom Pilaf

Another whole grain recipe!

Kamut is a nutty, chewy, whole grain that is very versatile.  Check out my Kamut Fruit Salad recipe of another twist.  This grain is high in fiber and B vitamins, but make note that it is NOT gluten free.  Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in some grains, and this is one of them.

Often times, whole grains take a long time to cook.  Put your slow cooker to use to make the cooking process a lot easier!

Crockpot Kamut and Mushroom Pilaf
Serves 6

3 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
2 cups dry kamut, rinsed well
2 tsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
8 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp white truffle oil

In your crockpot, combine 3 cups broth and kamut.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

In a skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes.  Add mushrooms, pepper, and thyme.  Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and cook until mushrooms are softened, 7-8 minutes.

For the final hour of cooking, stir mushroom mixture (with remaining broth) into the kamut, then drizzle with truffle oil. 

*If you have remaining broth in the crockpot that did not soak into your grain, you may remove some and whisk in 2-3 tsp cornstarch, then return the mixture to the slow cooker to thicken.  All slow cookers are slightly different!

*The grain will still be chewy- don't over cook it!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

80--- Wild Rice Breakfast Porridge

My January goal is to experiment with as many whole grains as possible.  Why?  Well, they are a great source of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.  Also, I have been accumulating fun ones for quite some time and my cupboard is OVERFLOWING!  

I am breastfeeding my wee one and craving carbohydrates like crazy.  Whole grains are a great choice to settle those cravings because they will help keep me fuller longer than less fibrous options.

My dear friend Kara is a Minnesotan.  She turned me onto this breakfast idea- its a good one doncha know!

Wild Rice Breakfast Porridge
Serves 4

2 cups cooked brown rice/wild rice mixture (you may use entirely wild rice if you would like)
3 Tbsp chopped pecans
3 Tbsp slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried blueberries
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup vanilla almond milk, divided
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Combine rice, pecans, almonds, dried blueberries, maple syrup, and 1/2 cup almond milk in a large pot.  Heat over medium-high heat until milk is absorbed and mixture is hot.  

Serve in four bowls, pouring remaining almond milk over the top and sprinkling with blueberries prior to serving.

Nutrition info per 1 serving: 384 calories, 16 g fat, 10 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 46 mg sodium

Monday, January 4, 2016

80--- Chicken and Zucchini Parmesan Soup {Crock-Pot}

This simple soup is a wonderful combination of zucchini parmesan and chicken parmesan.  The Italian flavors will warm you instantly!  I served this topped with my homemade whole grain croutons (see previous post) and shaved parmesan cheese.

Check your grocer for low sodium or no sodium-added versions of canned tomatoes!  They are in demand so many are easier to find than they used to be. If you can't find them, make sure to put in a request!  Most grocery stores are more than happy to stock them for you!

Chicken and Zucchini Parmesan Soup
Serves ~6

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
4 cups tomato broth (made from bouillon found in the Mexican aisle- substitute low sodium chicken broth if unable to find tomato broth)
8 oz low sodium marinara sauce (I like the simple canned version of Hunts)
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) low sodium diced tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced

Combine all ingredients except for zucchini in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 hours, adding zucchini slices for the last 1-2 hours of cooking.

One hour prior to serving, remove chicken breasts and shred.  Return to the pot to heat through.

Serve topped with croutons and shaved parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups: 178 calories, 6 g fat, 15 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, ~450 mg sodium

80(ish)--- Homemade Whole Grain Croutons

Croutons can be a lovely addition to a salad or soup- they add a nice dimension and flavor.  However, packaged croutons can be LOADED with sodium and fat.  Making your own is easy and you can control those less-than-healthy elements.

Why use whole grain bread? Well it adds more fiber, and more flavor than it's lighter counterpart.

Homemade Whole Grain Croutons
Makes 4 cups

4 cups 1 1/2" cubes cut from a crusty whole grain bread
1/3 cup basil-infused olive oil (I used Pomora's olive oil)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (low or no sodium preferred)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Dash salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

In a medium mixing bowl combine oil and seasonings.  Add bread cubes and toss gently to coat.  Lay out cubes onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking to ensure even browning.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Nutrition Info per 1/4 cup: 69 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 58 mg sodium (if using no sodium seasoning)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Note about January 2nd

It's not that I'm against resolution making.

Goal setting is an important piece in lifestyle change.

However, the thought that you can make a pact to yourself on January 1st and stick with it through the end of the year has a relatively high failure rate.

Did you lack the willpower to follow through?

No.  You're simply human.  A homo sapien. And, like most other mammals, humans are built genetically to take the past of least resistance.

The path of least resistance is the most frequent pattern you have been following for the longest amount of time.  And following that path expends the least amount of additional energy for your body, making it the most efficient road to follow.

Are you trying to make consistent exercise your resolution for the new year?  

Expect that it will not be easy.  Doable?  Yes.  With time.  But your body is having to expend extra energy to do so.  Therefore, working out is not the most efficient path to take.  

This is not only the case for exercise, but for changing any habit, such as choosing healthier foods and quitting smoking.

Research states that it takes approximately 40 "experiences" to build a new pathway of least resistance.  And that varies of course.  

What happens if you lose track of your goal? Say, on January 2nd you miss your morning workout.  Do you wait until January 1st of 2017 to start again?  I hope not.

The sooner to get back to that desired change the better.  Don't get discouraged!  After all, you are a homo sapien.  Laziness is built into our genes as a means of survival, to preserve energy.  Fight it!

Change is difficult, but realizing that it will be, and that it is for everyone, can help you to embrace the challenge and not be discouraged with yourself.

What's your resolution?