Sunday, May 19, 2013

Creamy, High-Protein Oatmeal

It turns out I'm genetically screwed. Just my luck.

I went in to my doctor for a general check-up in March and had a cholesterol test done (first one since I've lost all my weight). I was actually excited to see the results, as my cholesterol had been high the last time I had it checked (10 years ago, when I was pretty heavy). When the nurse called with the results, I was shocked: 240. She did say that my triglycerides were pretty low, and my HDL was really good (probably a result of my low-carb/high exercise diet). But my LDL was a bit high, so my overall number was too high.  She said we would re-check in 6 months, after I modified my diet and tried to exercise regularly. I laughed (assuming she hadn't read my chart), and told her I run 3x a week and do yoga 2-5x a week; I eat chicken, fish, and veggies all the time. What more can I do?

I realize that this is likely due to my genetics. My dad has battled his cholesterol through most of his adulthood, and has had some heart issues in the last 10 years. My grandfather (dad's dad) died of a heart attack at 36 years old.

So, remember when I posted a while back about the quick Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich I usually make for my breakfasts? Well, after examining what I've been eating, that's the only meal I figured I could really make changes to. I mean, research has shown that eggs aren't as bad for you as people used to say, and the cholesterol in them is not unhealthy. However, given my cholesterol level and my inability to find anywhere else in my diet to cut fat and replace it with more cholesterol-reducing fiber (without greatly increasing my carb intake), I decided to avoid the egg sandwiches for a while.

Enter oatmeal. I like oatmeal (though I've mostly eaten the instant packets with lots of added sugar...), and it's really not very high on the glycemic index so it's a pretty "safe" food for me to eat. But I also knew I needed protein in the mornings, and I needed to figure out a way to combine oatmeal with protein without making it gross. I also didn't want to depend upon protein powders, as I truly try to eat as much "real" food as possible, and avoid supplements/replacements unless absolutely necessary.

I was still terrified about gaining weight from adding that much carbohydrate to my diet.

So I experimented over spring break with a few oatmeal and egg-white recipes I found. And I found them to be delicious. I got the original idea/recipe from Can You Stay For Dinner? and I tried a few modifications to reduce the total calories, create the perfect serving size for me, get the right protein/carb ratio, add fiber (blackberries and raspberries have some of the highest fiber of most fruit), and have it be the right texture and flavor.

I got it figured out-- a large portion of creamy, porridge-like oatmeal with a slightly sweet flavor and the tartness of a few berries--with no eggy taste. :)  And I have been eating it every morning, ever since. Yum. I've also found that it helps keep me feeling full longer, so I'm not a starving grump by the time my lunch duty (before I eat) rolls around at school. The best part? No weight gain. By balancing the carb/protein/fiber ratio and keeping the total number of calories down, I've managed to add this to my diet without affecting my weight maintenance.

Try it!

Creamy, High-Protein Oatmeal (modified from The Best 300-Calorie Oatmeal You'll Ever Have)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup water
10 tbsp liquid egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 packets Stevia in the Raw (or other stevia product)
4-5 blackberries
4-5 raspberries 
*Can substitute any other fruit, really, but these berries have some of the highest fiber amounts, so that's what I went with.

1) Place water and oatmeal in a pot on medium heat for approximately 4 minutes.
2) Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy (approx 15-45 seconds).
3) Add vanilla, stevia, and egg white to oatmeal, stirring to mix well. Reduce heat to med-low. Continue to cook approx 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until oatmeal is fluffy and creamy.
4) Remove from heat. Add berries and stir one more time. Allow to sit 2-4 minutes
5) Serve and enjoy!

I think I figured that this oatmeal recipe has about 256 calories, including 7g of fiber and 17g of protein.  If you prefer steel-cut oats (which are delicious and nutty with a crunchier texture) be aware that they do have more calories per serving.

I eat my oatmeal with a Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt (80 calories) with about 1 tablespoon of milled chia seeds mixed in (great for Omega 3s and extra fiber!).

Hopefully, adding cholesterol-reducing, high-fiber foods and additional heart-healthy fats (Omega 3s via chia seeds and almonds) will help reduce my cholesterol naturally. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes & Parmesan

I've been on a bit of a spaghetti squash kick. Maybe because it is light, sweet, and goes with pretty much anything. Maybe because the leftovers keep well and are easy to prepare for lunches at work. Maybe because when I reheat it my co-workers don't freak out on me for stinking up the office area with steamed broccoli or cauliflower at lunchtime...

Anyway, it's delicious, and here is another way to prepare it--the simplest way I've found so far.

Roasted Tomatoes
Our local Baker's supermarket has an antipasto bar next to their cheese selections (for being one of their dumpier stores, it actually has a fantastic and reasonably-priced cheese selection). Ben discovered their Fire Roasted Tomato Bruschetta on the antipasto bar recently, and we've been adding it to salads, veggie side dishes, and anything else we can think of ever since. It's not like a traditional bruschetta, though--it's mostly just roasted tomato halves and garlic in a marinade of olive oil, vinegar, and some herbs. Roasty, tangy, rich, and garlicky, it's a great compliment to the mild flavor of spaghetti squash. You could probably also rehydrate sundried tomatoes for a similar (though not quite as delicious) effect, too, or use the sundried tomatoes from a jar.

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan

1 spaghetti squash, baked (see here or here for instructions)
1/4 C (approx--more or less to your taste) roasted or sundried tomatoes
1 Tbsp(approx--use more or less to your taste) shredded parmesan (I use Kraft Shredded Parmesan from the refrigerator section)

After the spaghetti squash has been baked and cooled slightly, scrape the inside of the squash with a fork to release the strands. Place desired serving amount in a bowl (I usually serve myself 4 oz). Add the tomatoes and 1/2 of the cheese and mix. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and serve.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baked Spaghetti (Squash)

In addition to the baked chicken parmesan I wrote about in my last post, I also had baked spaghetti--with spaghetti squash substituting for spaghetti noodles. Delicious, and virtually no carbs!

I made this again not too long ago, when we had a snowy weekend, and since we had plenty of advance warning of the snowstorm, I stopped by the UNO Outdoor Venture Center and rented some winter gear: snowshoes, cross-country skis, and poles. :) Ben and I went down to Fontenelle Forest to hike around in the snowshoes--and it was so much fun! We were exhausted afterwards, but it was much easier to snowshoe than I thought it would be. Cross-country skiing was a different story. After watching a how-to video on Youtube and a brief practice session in the backyard (of which Mamie did not approve--she kept attacking my skis), I headed out to the golf course and tromped around. Yes, tromped. I certainly didn't feel very graceful, and I didn't smoothly skim the surface of the snow with my skis. But I got a good workout in, I guess.
Mamie does not approve of skiing.

So, after so much activity in the cold and snow, the baked chicken parmesan and baked spaghetti (squash) was a delicious, warm, comforting dinner.

I got the idea for this dish from Pinterest when I saw a picture of baked spaghetti. I figured I could do something similar, but with spaghetti squash, sauce, and cheese, and it turned out really well. The only downside is that the squash does tend to release more moisture as you continue to bake it, so it got a little watery. I used my homemade marinara sauce, but in hindsight, I will probably simmer it down longer to thicken it, or purchase a low-sodium spaghetti sauce that is a little thicker.

Baked Spaghetti (Squash)

1 spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp light, part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 C grated mozzarella cheese
1 C spaghetti sauce (I used my homemade marinara with mushrooms)

Cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out seeds. Place squash on foil-lined baking sheet, cut sides down, and bake at 400-425 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then scrape squash out of shell with a fork. Reduce heat on oven to 375 degrees.

Place spaghetti squash strands in an 8x8 casserole dish. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce over squash, and place dollops of ricotta cheese (by 1/2 or 1/4 tbsp) on top of sauce. Spread remaining sauce over the dish, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place in oven at 375 degrees for approximately 7-10 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted. Remove from oven, let rest for 3-5 minutes, serve and enjoy.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Baked Chicken Parmesan

I love Italian food, but the Italian food we tend to eat in the US tends to involve a lot of carbs, high-fat cheeses, and fried food.

Except for this baked chicken parmesan. It simple, tasty, and just as good as the fried version. I originally found this recipe on, but made some changes to it to make it my own.

One whole chicken breast is a bit too much for me, so I usually cut mine into about a 5 oz serving (including cheese/sauce). directs you to slice chicken breasts in half, but I was worried that it might make the chicken dry all the way through--so I haven't done it that way yet, but I may for next time.

Baked Chicken Parmesan (adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3-1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/8 c. shredded parmesan (approximately)
spray butter or olive oil cooking spray
1/3 c. part-skim grated mozzarrella (approximately)
1/2 c. marinara sauce (approximately)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan in a bowl. Lightly spray chicken with butter or cooking spray, then roll in breadcrumbs. Place on foil-lined baking sheet, and lightly spray top of chicken. Bake at 375-400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, and bake additional 5 minutes.

While chicken is baking, mix paprika with marinara sauce (optional). I used my homemade marinara sauce (I just avoided scooping up mushrooms), and the paprika added a delicious, smoky depth to this recipe.

Remove chicken from oven to spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of sauce over each piece and top with some mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

I also made a baked spaghetti side dish, substituting--you guessed it--spaghetti squash for the noodles. Delicious! I'll be sure to post that recipe next!
Baked chicken parmesan, spaghetti baked squash, and bread with butter!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mushroom Marinara Sauce and Zucchini "Noodles"

I think I've mentioned a few times that I love carbs--especially pasta and rice. ;) No matter how much I've cut back on my carb intake, sometimes all I really want is a bowl of spaghetti with marinara and/or meat sauce. My problem is that I can't eat "just" a serving of pasta...I always want more, plus I'll crave it for days afterwards. So, how can I still enjoy the comfort of a bowl of spaghetti?
Zucchini ribbons, sauce, and ground bison!

Zucchini and homemade marinara sauce!

Most jarred spaghetti sauces are pretty high in sodium, and some even taste overly ketchup-y to me, so I decided about a year ago to start experimenting to make my own. It makes quite a bit of sauce, but it freezes well, so I usually save some for use in other meals--such as the baked chicken parmesan that I had last weekend (will post that one soon!).

Cooked zucchini ribbons.
For the "pasta," I use ribbons of zucchini that I make with a regular vegetable peeler (although I want to buy a spiral slicer--like this one--to do this with); just boil some water and drop the zucchini ribbons in for 20-60 seconds, depending on the desired texture you're going for.

I need protein in my meals, so I usually brown either super-lean ground beef or ground bison and add 4 oz of the meat to my sauce and zucchini, plus a sprinkle of parmesan on top. Add a small piece of crusty bread and it's a hearty, comforting, low-carb dinner!

Mushroom Marinara Sauce

1 (28oz) can Italian plum tomatoes, peeled
2 tsp EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 C-1C chopped mushrooms
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp red wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

1) Saute garlic in EVOO, approx 15 seconds.
2) Add all ingredients except parsley. Break up tomatoes with wooden spoon.
3) Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 20 mins.
4) Remove from heat and stir in parsley

Saturday, February 2, 2013

On Eating Out

Eating out can be a dieting/healthy-eating nightmare. But it doesn't have to be.

When I was actively trying to lose weight, I pretty much stopped eating out in restaurants altogether; the stress and anxiety of finding something diet-friendly, figuring out correct portion sizes, and knowing my weight might bump up regardless from the extra sodium just wasn't worth it to me at the time. This, however, could not last forever, unless I wanted to have no social life.

Once I hit the "maintenance" phase of my journey (no longer dieting, just trying to maintain), I started experimenting with eating out here and there. I still don't make a habit of it, but it's nice to know, for instance, that I can swing into Subway and grab a salad if I'm busy or traveling, stop by Greek Islands on the way home to pick up dinner if I just don't feel like cooking, or meet a friend at Outback or Cantina Laredo to catch up over dinner. But the key to eating out, I have discovered, is planning ahead!

Usually, we're already hungry by the time we arrive at a restaurant. Everything looks delicious on the menu, and it's easy to convince yourself that you'll "just have a bite" of an appetizer, or you'll fill up on the starter salad and won't eat the entire entree, so it's okay to order what sounds really cheesy/carby/filling/amazing. In my case, all reason seems to disappear when I'm really hungry. Not to mention, if I'm eating out with friends or family, someone is bound to order appetizers to pass around. Basically, before heading to a restaurant, I always try to plan ahead on three counts:
           1)Drinks/appetizers. Am I willing to splurge on those (I usually don't)? Should I plan to eat a lighter entree to offset that splurge?
           2)Menu. I generally try to look up the menu online ahead of time to find one or two dinner options that I think will work for me. This way, I'm not poring over the menu when I'm hungry or distracted, and I'm more likely to make a better choice/plan for special requests.
           3)WATER! I drink plenty of water before we eat out, while I'm at the restaurant, and extra water for about a day afterwards, all to counteract the extra sodium found in restaurant food (also, if I'm well-hydrated before eating out, I'm less likely to overeat).

So, what do I actually eat? Here are some of my "go-to" meals at a few of the restaurants I frequent in Omaha:
My Subway salad.

           Roasted chicken salad-- with spinach, lettuce, shredded cheddar, cucumber, tomato, banana peppers, and fat-free sweet onion sauce on top. I will eat this with 2 packages of saltines, or with a slice of Sara Lee Delightful bread if I'm at home. Note: I do NOT get the "chopped salad" that they just started selling; it's overpriced, and they way they "chop" it mostly just mushes and mangles the salad. I will, however, ask them to cut my cucumbers/tomatoes in half before they put them on my salad, just to make it easier to eat.

           Fire-Grilled Mahi, light style, no rice. This means that I don't get it with the "hearts of gold" artichokes and sauce on top, and my veggies are steamed without butter. I will usually have a piece (or two!) of the bread they serve at the table (with a little butter) while I wait for my meal.
          Grilled Salmon, light style. This comes with a side of steamed veggies, too. Again, I'll usually have a piece of the bread they serve at the table.

Greek Islands:
          Tilapia Dinner. I get the dinner salad with the dressing on the side to dip my salad bites into. I do not eat the bread that they serve while waiting (or if I do, I skip the rice with the meal). I will eat the broiled tilapia, which comes with steamed broccoli and rice--though I'll only eat about 1/2 cup of the rice.
          Chicken Santorini. This is a feta and spinach stuffed chicken breast. Again, avoid the bread, eat 1/2-3/4 of the chicken, approx 1/2 cup of the rice, and the steamed broccoli it comes with. Salad with dressing on the side.

Cantina Laredo:
           Chicken Tampico. I *try* to avoid the chips/salsa they bring when you sit down, but the salsas are soooo good here. So instead, I usually just avoid the Spanish rice served with my chicken. :)  I get the creamy poblano sauce served on the side (I usually don't use it at all, but it's nice to have in case I want to try it), and ask for no monterey cheese on my chicken (it's a pretty large chicken serving, I don't need the extra protein of the cheese). It comes with sauteed bell peppers/mushrooms on the chicken, but I also usually ask for a side salad with dressing on the side.

McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe:
           You would think an organic/vegan cafe would be easy, but organic/vegan food usually has a lot of hidden fat and carbs. I usually get the grilled/broiled salmon. It comes with sauteed or roasted veggies and some bread/toast. If I'm especially hungry, I'll add a side salad with dijon vinaigrette on the side.

In addition to having menus online (even locally-owned places have started putting their menus online), most of the chain restaurants (Outback, etc.) will often have nutritional information posted online. It's always a good idea to check that out, too-- sometimes what they mark as "healthy" or "lite" on their menu is not always as healthy or light as you think, as the sodium will often be much higher. Applebee's, for example, had a Weight-Watcher's-friendly chicken dinner that I ordered once; when I looked at the nutrition information online later, I discovered that the entree had over 1,200 mg of sodium (1,500mg is the recommended daily intake for sodium)! Not only that, but--to be honest--the meal was so salty-tasting to me that it was nearly inedible (keep in mind that I eat low-sodium and am now pretty sensitive to the taste of salt...but still!).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables

Part of the reason I haven't posted much lately is that I haven't had a lot of new recipes I've been trying, mostly because I enjoy cycling through a lot of what I've already posted (I'm also a creature of habit and tend to get into a rut). When I don't have much time to prepare dinner (which is most nights), I usually just steam up some veggies in my Pampered Chef microwave steamer. Easy and fast, even if it is boring.

However, I ran across this idea for balsamic roasted vegetables at Emily Bites and, given my recent falling in love with roasted cauliflower, decided to give it a try this last fall. This quickly became one of my regular rotations for vegetables throughout the fall/winter, and was what I brought to holiday family gatherings when I was asked to prepare some kind of veggie dish.

As Emily Bites points out, roasting vegetables brings out their flavors and, with some veggies, can carmelize them and intensify their sweetness. The balsamic vinegar and salt adds a nice contrast to these flavors. And, they look beautiful, too!

I did make a few changes from her recipe--I used baby carrots (easier and less chopping!) as well as white or sweet yellow onion (I don't like red onion). You could also toss in cherry tomatoes, slices of bell peppers, chopped turnips, or halved baby potatoes, I suppose (the potatoes would definitely add carbs, though).

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables (from Emily Bites)

4 oz raw broccoli florets (from about 1 small head)
7 oz raw cauliflower florets (half of one large head)
8 oz raw yellow Summer squash, chopped (about 1 small-medium squash)
8 oz raw zucchini, chopped (about 1 small-medium zucchini)
Baby carrots, I used about 1-2 handfuls.
5.5 oz raw white or sweet yellow onion, chopped large (about half a large onion)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T Balsamic vinegar
Kosher or Sea Salt, to taste

1.    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly mist a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. (I like to line my baking sheet with aluminum foil first--easy clean up!)
2.    In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables and mix them together. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the vegetables and sprinkle on your desired amount of salt. Toss to coat. Pour vegetables onto the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until caramelized.

Photo from

Snow day . . . and stuff

So, as usual, getting back into the school year has consumed my life. One of my non-teacher friends even joked to me a couple months ago that she has so many teacher friends that her social life goes dormant once the school year starts.

Anyway, I've been a busy girl. I started a staff yoga program at my high school as part of our wellness program--so I was teaching yoga twice a week to teachers and staff. I've also continued teaching yoga twice a week to Bellevue Public School bus drivers as part of their wellness program. Add to that my own yoga practice, running (still doing that!), work, family, and trying to eat healthfully, and it's been pretty crazy around here.

Mamie loves snow days with me!
We did get a snow day today, though, so I thought I'd use this gift of time to write up a few blog posts. :)

First, a few more updates!

As I mentioned, I've been teaching a lot of yoga to adults. However, I've really been wanting to start a student yoga program. Through, I was able to get almost 20 yoga mats donated to my school. I'm planning on having our first informational meeting sometime in the next week or so, and then start teaching yoga after school to students once a week! I'm pretty excited about this--yoga has so many benefits, and I wish I'd had this opportunity when I was younger.

Ugly Sweater Run, with my friends Julie & Marie
On the running side--I had been running about 3 times a week since school started, but had to take a few weeks off in November. I still came back strong in time for the Ugly Sweater 5K Run in December, though. It was really cold that morning--but even more exciting/holiday-like when it started snowing toward the end of the run. :) And it only got better when we went out for a huge brunch afterwards and went home to enjoy hot showers and a food coma.

It was actually hard to find an ugly Christmas sweater for the run, since everyone in Omaha was also looking. Luckily, I found a co-worker who loaned me this atrocious Snoopy sweater--which was huge, but allowed for me to wear more layers under it. I also had just bought the cold-weather compression leggings that I'm wearing in the picture, so I could run outside more comfortably throughout the winter. They work great--I've even been running on 15 and 18 degree days. As my sister put it: "Wow, you've become one of THOSE people." I guess I have... and it's hard for me to believe, trust me.
RunnerID bracelet

Since I've been running outside so much, though, I also bought some new bling: a RunnerID bracelet. It's a rubbery bracelet with a metal plate with my name, year of birth, and emergency contacts. Don't get me wrong--I run pretty safely. I am always alert and looking around me, I don't always run on the same days/times, I switch up my route regularly, and I try to stay on a sidewalk/trail whenever there is one. But still...accidents can happen, and I wanted to make sure I'm as safe as can be.

And so, I'm off to finish shoveling the driveway and try to make it to a 12:30pm yoga class; then it's to the grocery store, and home to deep clean (I was sick last weekend, so nothing got done), write a few more posts, and get ready for tomorrow!

Look for some more posts in the next week or so-- roasted balsamic vegetables, mock spaghetti and meat sauce, and eating out are just a few things I plan to post about in the near future. :)

Stay warm today!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Soup

This weekend was both exhausting yet relaxing.

On Saturday--after my regular class of teaching yoga to BPS bus drivers--I ran what was supposed to be a "Friends and Family 5K Fun Run" at Offutt Air Force Base. About 35 minutes into the race, I noticed that I was nowhere near the end of the course, yet I should have been just about done (I usually run them in about 35-36 minutes now). At 40 minutes in, I thought "This is NOT a 5K!" When I crossed the finish line at 45 minutes (after a giant hill at the end!), my friend, Julie, announced "Hey, guess what? They measured the course wrong, and it was more than 5K!" No kidding. We figured out that it was just over 4 miles that we ran that morning--about 6.5K. I was kind of mad about running that far without being forwarned, but rather proud that I did it! After a post-race massage (with Christine Thye at A Moment to Breathe--go get a massage from her!) and running errands that afternoon, though, I was thoroughly exhausted.

Today, though, was a wonderfully relaxing day. I ran a few errands in the morning, then went to visit my friend, Ferial. I made us a chickpea and roasted pepper soup for lunch, and then we enjoyed chai masala and a Bollywood movie for the rest of the afternoon. Ahhhhh... good food, good tea, and good company!

The soup I made was a recipe from Cat Cora that I had seen in my most recent Yoga Journal magazine: Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Soup. It turned out fantastic, though Ben wished it was a little more savory and a little less sweet (I thought it had just a hint of sweet from the onion and peppers, though, not overpowering).

Because the chickpeas would be considered my starch for lunch, I also brought some white wine and garlic turkey sausage/brats that I found at the meat counter at our local Baker's supermarket. Since I wasn't sure if the sausages would be any good, I cooked them separately in the oven and then sliced and added them to our individual bowls of soup at the end (I didn't want to end up with a big pot of sucky soup if the sausages were terrible). The sausage was good, though, so in the future I'll probably partially saute it, then slice it and add it to the soup to finish cooking. In the future, I might also consider using only 3 cans of chickpeas instead of 4, and possibly adding some other non-starchy vegetables, like zucchini, cauliflower, or something. The beauty of the chickpeas, though, is that they do contain some protein and are pretty high in fiber, so they're definitely worth having in the soup. :)

Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Soup (from Cat Cora)

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped (recipe calls for 2, but I reduced this slightly)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained (I used Bush's Best Reduced Sodium)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 cups vegetable broth (I used Kitchen Basics Unsalted)
2 Bay leaves
4 red bell peppers (recipe only calls for 2, I used more), roasted, peeled, & seeded
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over the medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the chickpeas and rosemary, mixing well. Add broth and bay leaves.

Purée the red peppers in a food processor or blender. Stir into the soup, cover, and simmer gently over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and season to taste the salt and pepper. Just before serving, garnish the soup with chopped fresh parsley, if you'd like.

I ate mine with a side of steamed broccoli, since this soup mostly contains starchy vegetables; in addition, as I mentioned, I sliced up some white wine and garlic turkey sausage and put it in my soup. You can choose to eat this soup plain, or add turkey meatballs, turkey sausage, or Aidell's chicken sauasage. 

Nutritional Information (Soup makes 8 servings, info for 1 serving)
Calories: 246
Fat: 6.5g     Sodium: 588mg     Carb: 41.1     Fiber: 9.2      Protein: 10.1     Sugars: 5.9

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Curry Roasted Cauliflower & Sweet Peas

Have I mentioned how much I've grown to love cauliflower? I used to hate it. HATE it. I didn't like the taste, but especially didn't like the texture.

Turns out it just wasn't being cooked right for me!

I fell in love with my friend Ferial's roasted cauliflower with parmesan a while back, and have been looking for some other interesting ways to season roasted cauliflower. One of my favorite food blogs, Can You Stay For Dinner? (this blogger lost 130+ lbs and has kept it off for a few years!) had a good-looking curry roasted cauliflower and sweet pea recipe that I decided to try the other night. I like curry. I like roasted cauliflower. I like sweet peas. No surprise that this recipe was a winner, then.

Catch of the day: drum fish
But first, I have to brag a little about fish. Yes, fish. As in, the-fun-time-I've-had-catching-some-big-fish-and-eating-them-and-they-were-delicious.

Two plates for so much good food!
My in-laws have a cabin up north on the Missouri river, near the Ft. Randall dam; however, due to the epic flood last year, the cabin was unusable for over a year, until it could be cleaned, gutted, and basically rebuilt. We finally got to head up there toward the end of July, and the fishing has been amazing! We also discovered that in addition to bass, walleye, pike, and crappie, the drum fish are apparently abundant, fun to catch, and delicious to eat! The guys grilled up the whole catfish with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and I breaded and fried up the drum fillets. Add some roasted green beans, corn, and slices of bread and we had ourselves a pretty amazing feast!

And now, back to the cauliflower.

In addition to yummy cauliflower, my friend Ferial has also taught me a love of Indian spices. Ferial is Kenyan, and her family is of Indian descent, so she is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Asian and African cooking (or just cooking in general. Because she's pretty much a domestic goddess as far as I'm concerned). I didn't have a chance to find out how Ferial mixes her own curry powder (did you know curry isn't a single spice? Me either, until I met Ferial.) before making this, so I just used a store-bought curry mix from Spice Islands, which seemed to be fine.

A few notes about this recipe: it calls for 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but it ended up being a little too hot for me. As in my-mouth-and-lips-were-on-fire hot. Ben loved it and thought it was great, though. I think if this was served over rice, as the original blogger did, it would probably temper the heat a bit. But I'm going to reduce the cayenne a little the next time I make this. Also, I didn't drizzle it with olive oil, I used my Misto sprayer--which, while more effective at covering the cauliflower, made it impossible to measure the amount of oil I used. Hence, I don't think I used enough oil--the cauliflower came out of the oven with less of a spicy glaze (like in the original blogger's pictures) and more of a covered-in-spice-powder look/feel, which may also be why the cayenne seemed so strong. Finally, make sure you use a very large cauliflower head (or more than one), as I only had a small one, and it didn't produce enough cauliflower for a sufficient peas-to-cauliflower ratio. That was probably another reason why the cayenne was too strong for me. ;)

Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Peas (from Can You Stay For Dinner?)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4-5 cups)
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups frozen sweet peas, thawed
Fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil in a large bowl. Add spices and toss again to coat each floret well.  Spread cauliflower onto a foil lined baking sheet.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is beginning to blacken and is easily pierced with a fork. Stir the thawed peas with the hot florets on the baking sheet, sprinkle with fresh cilantro, and serve.  Makes 4-5 servings.

I ate mine with steak and a slice of bread.

Nutritional Information (cauliflower/peas, 1 serving):
Calories: 130
Fat: 7.25    Carb: 15   Fiber: 5.5     Prot: 5