Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

Classic Stir-Fry & Green Tea Brown Rice

Summer before last, while I was interning in Boston, and my friend Karen was living in Boston (because that’s where she’s from), we fell into a routine, which somewhere along the way got named Kitchen Cooking Chem Lab. Said name came about due to our tendency to run around Shaws, buy an assortment of things, bring them back to either of our kitchens and proceed to make magic food out of it.

And sometimes there were explosions.

Last night we made dinner, and we did something magical yet again, but so simple that anyone (like you!) can take these same ingredients and turn them into delicious, healthy, nutrient-rich vegetarian food.

Classic Stir-Fry

  • Yellow Squash

squashhhh

  • Red & Orange Peppers
  • Sugar Snap Peas

peppers and snap peas

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Long Grain Brown Rice
  • 2 Green Tea Tea-Bags (not pictured)
  • Almond Slivers
  • Chili Powder (not pictured)

riceoilalmonds

  1. Heat 2 cups water in medium-sized saucepan & put tea bags in the water. After 5 minutes, remove tea bags from water and add rice. Stir frequently to keep rice from sticking. Allow rice to cook normally. Once cooked, add almond slivers (1/2 cup, or however much you like).
  2. rice

  3. While rice is cooking, heat olive oil on a pan on medium heat.
  4. When oil is hot, add the yellow squash.
  5. When squash starts to brown slightly, add the peppers and snap peas, stirring to keep squash slices on top of the peppers.
  6. Be liberal with the oil, make sure there is oil on the pan as well as on the vegetables, but don’t drown them.
  7. veggiesonpan

  8. When the peppers are cooked (they’ve started to go limp), add chili powder.  I just shook chili powder lightly over the veggies, mixed them and covered them lightly again. The point of the chili powder isn’t to make the dish spicy, but to bring out the flavors of the vegetables.
  9. Serve veggies either over or on the side of the rice.

foodddd
Enjoy with your drinks of choice! Ours just happened to be Harpoon Celtic. 🙂

Before Winter REALLY sets in – Jamba Juice

jambaaaa

Featured: Chunky Strawberry Topper and Mango Topper

It’s about to cool down to freezing in Boston (and let’s face it, in anywhere north of Florida) and soon it will be too cold to justify one of my favorite dining establishments: Jamba Juice. The Tampa, Florida locations opened years ago, so I’d already become familiar with Jamba Juice by the time of my arrival at Boston University. Then, I found out that the only New England location was conveniently located in the George Sherman Union – a student center/food location in the center of BU’s campus. Success!

When I had dining points as part of my BU meal plan my first two years at BU, I’d have Jamba Juice for lunch every day, literally.  My Jamba intake decreased exponentially when I moved off campus and began cooking more at home, but recently I’ve been on a Jamba craze.

My favorite blend is, without contest, the Chunky Strawberry Topper. This Jamba “Ideal Meal” is a blend of frozen strawberries, frozen bananas, nonfat plain yogurt, soymilk, organic pumpkin flax seed granola, and peanut butter topped with fresh granola and fresh bananas. The 12 oz keeps me full for hours, so it’s the perfect lunch for me. I tried the Berry Topper too, but I think I’m partial to the peanut butter and granola in the Chunky Strawberry Topper.

For an afternoon snack, I love the Strawberry Nirvana. This Jamba “Light Smoothie” is made with lower calorie dairy base, frozen strawberries, apple strawberry juice blend, frozen bananas and ice. It’s delicious and it’ll keep you full for a couple hours – at least until dinner!

Unfortunately, the Jamba Juice location in the BU GSU is limited and doesn’t have the Jamba Bakery, which is an excellent source of delicious, healthy, and sometimes vegan goodies.  The Sourdough Parmesan Pretzel, Zucchini Walnut Loaf, and Greek Goodness Wrap make my top three!

If you’re a BU student and you haven’t gone to Jamba Juice yet, you’ve been missing out! This is a healthy, tasty and wonderful choice of dining out, and they will be cutting their hours soon for winter, so grab a Jamba while you can!

  • If you’ve been to Jamba Juice, what’s your favorite drink? Why?
  • Do you find the Jamba Light as fulfilling as the regular Jamba blends?

P.S. Jenny at Enjoy Your Cheerios blogged about Jamba Juice a while back.  Check out her blog if you’re a college student motivated by living a healthy lifestyle!

Scrambled Eggs or Omelettes?

Vegetarians often have a huge problem with variable sources of protein, so growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of eating eggs and cheese.  Conveniently, I’m not a vegan – there’s nothing that could get me to give up ice cream, milk, quesadillas, scrambled eggs… and the list goes on.

Backing up to the scrambled eggs, let’s talk about more breakfast options.  I have to be in the mood to eat eggs, but once I get into the mood, I love them cooked in several different ways.  However, my favorite has to be two classics: scrambled eggs and omelettes. I’ve experimented over the years with different types of cheese, different combinations of vegetables, and different ways of cooking the vegetables. I’ve also switched to Egg Beaters (egg substitute in a carton) instead of real eggs in order to keep my cholesterol in the normal to low range.  Yes, I realize I’m 21, and I also realize that most people don’t worry about cholesterol at this age.  Genetics, however, likes to spite me, and I’m reminded that high cholesterol tends to run in my family and that my father had his own fight to bring down his cholesterol levels several years ago.

Because I don’t want to go on a seriously restricted diet and take medicines in 5 or 10 years to combat this unnecessary sign of aging, I watch my cholesterol intake carefully.  So long as I avoid fast foods – done easily as most restaurants don’t use different frying oil for say french fries or chicken fingers (take Rhett’s, located in the Boston University George Sherman Union, for example) and most don’t section off their grills when cooking hamburgers and veggie burgers (UBurger, and I’m sure many others I’m unaware of) – and maintain awareness of how I cook my foods, I know I’ll be fine.

Sorry about the cholesterol tangent – back to eggs.

Step 1: Choose your eggs

  • Real Eggs (I grew up eating white eggs in FL, but my friend Karen grew up in MA eating brown eggs… so it’s really personal preference. I’ve never noticed a difference in taste.)
  • Egg Beaters (egg substitute)
  • Egg Whites

Because Martha Stewart would disprove of any method otherwise, if I’m cooking with real eggs, I’ll always beat them with a whisk, and never with a fork.  I add a little milk to make the eggs lighter and fluffier (amount variable, never more than 1/4 cup per 2 eggs), salt and pepper.  I like to use a spice grinder with a coarse setting, otherwise I feel the eggs drown out the flavor of the pepper.

Step 2: Choose your grease

Okay, that’s not as gross as it may have sounded. Unless you have a large egg skillet – mine is really only large enough to fry an egg on – or a nonstick pan, you’ll want to grease the pan before cooking the eggs. Otherwise, they’ll stick and they’ll burn and your whole place of residence will reek of eggs.  These are my usual options:

  • PAM cooking spray – this is the low cholesterol, flavor-retaining option.  Don’t overdo the spraying though, or you WILL taste the PAM, and trust me that’s gross. Dab the pan with a paper towel once you’ve sprayed it to make sure you’ve just coated the pan lightly.
  • Butter – real butter, on a stick.  You don’t need to cover the whole pan, just run the stick over the surface of the pan lightly in a zig-zag method.  Remember when you’d use a glue-stick in elementary school to paste something onto paper? Same idea.
  • Spreadable butter – place a pat of butter on the pan, turn on the stove, and as the butter melts, slowly lift and rotate the pan to spread the butter.
  • Margarine – I really dislike that margarine is high in trans fat, so I only use it if I have nothing else.  And usually, I don’t have margarine anyway.

Step 3: Choose your cheese

  • My favorite: Grated sharp or extra-sharp cheddar.  I love the flavor of cheddar and sharp/extra-sharp stands out against the flavor of the eggs.
  • Kraft Mexican Blend
  • Grated mild cheddar
  • Cheddar & Monterey Jack
  • Swiss

Step 4: Choose your veggies

This step is wholly dependent on personal preferences, but here’s the assortment of veggies I love to choose from.  Several friends of mine love to roast their veggies first before putting them in the omelette, but I prefer them fresh, thrown into the omelette/scrambled eggs halfway through cooking the eggs.

  • Diced red onions – yellow onions work too, obviously. I just like the color of the red onions.
  • Diced bell peppers – choose a mix of colors.  Orange peppers are pretty.
  • Diced tomatoes – yes, coming from the girl who doesn’t really like raw tomatoes.
  • Sliced black olives – I dislike green olives, but if you don’t, go for it.
  • Diced zucchini
  • Chopped broccoli
  • Fresh spinach

I never put in all of these veggies at once, though it would probably still taste good if I did. The last three, I would probably roast a little before adding them to the eggs, because they tend to be tougher vegetables if uncooked and the texture would contrast a little too strongly with the eggs.

Step 5: Cook it!

Before you begin doing anything with the eggs – put the toast in your toaster! For toast options, see my breakfast post from November 4th.

My first instinct is to assume everyone knows how to cook eggs, but assumptions are dangerous.  So here’s a short crash course on cooking eggs.  Whether scrambling or making omelettes, crack your eggs on the side of the bowl or edge of the counter and open them up into a bowl.  Add salt, pepper and milk. I also add crushed red pepper, but only add that if you can handle the spice.

Whisk using a whisk if your like your eggs properly beaten or beat with a wooden spoon if you like the white/yellow mix of color more distinct in your eggs. Turn your stove on and grease the pan with your choice from Step 2 above.

Once the pan is warmed up, pour in your egg mixture and let sit for a minute. Make sure you keep the stove flame on low/medium otherwise the eggs won’t cook from the inside out and you will burn your mixture.

Scrambled eggs

As the eggs start to whiten and solidify on the bottom, start moving them in the pan with a flat spoon or spatula.  The trick is not to let the eggs stick or sit for too long.  You can flip the eggs as they begin to fluff up to make sure they’re cooked evenly.  When the eggs are 2/3 cooked, add in the veggies so they cook a little with the eggs.  Just before you remove the eggs from the pan, add in the cheese and mix into the eggs thoroughly so the cheese melts.

Here’s a short YouTube clip from One Pot Chef, an Australian guy who simplifies cooking in an easy-to-follow manner:

Omelette

As the eggs start to whiten and solidify on the bottom, move the eggs gently from the outside edge toward the middle and tilt the pan in the direction of your flat spoon/spatula so the still-runny part of the mixture moves off the top of the solidifying eggs and fills in the space you create on the outside.

When no more runny mixture remains but the eggs are still whitish, flip the pancake-shaped eggs and let the top cook for a minute.  Sprinkle your veggies and eggs on top and fold over the eggs like a quesadilla. Let cook another minute or two, but don’t let it burn.

Place the toast and eggs on a plate, put some ketchup or hot sauce on those eggs and enjoy!

P.S. Cholula hot sauce is the best.

Nix the Fruitcake, Bring on the Fruit Salad

I love cake, I’ll admit it.  I love baking cakes, making icing, frosting cakes, eating cakes, smelling cakes, okay I’ll stop now.  But, really, I love cake.  But in my baking career, which started my junior year of college when I moved into my apartment, I’ve noticed that I gravitate toward baking mass quantities of goodies.  Cookies, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, pies, cakes… notice a trend?

For example, here’s what happens when I have a free Sunday afternoon:

cookiemonstahcupcakes

[Yes, Cookie Monster cupcakes: Chocolate cupcakes, vanilla frosting dipped in blue sprinkles, half a chocolate chip cookie in the mouth, canada mints with black gel frosting dots for eyes. 🙂 Go bake!]

Okay, now that we’ve established how much I love cake, I’d like to point out that in my house growing up, we rarely had dessert.  We would have dinner, which consisted of rice or a choice of Indian bread (Chapathi, naan, roti, etc.), two or three kinds of curry (there’s 5-6 servings of vegetables right there!), daal (a thick, high-protein soup made from lentils or beans) or sambar (a thick, lentil-based, vegetable soup), and homemade plain yogurt.  Dessert, we regarded as a delicacy, to be enjoyed on holidays, birthdays or other special occasions.

Introducing desserts in high quantity into my diet formed a habit I should start reversing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cake and I won’t stop eating it.  But, I have been looking into healthy alternatives to cake to serve as the “dessert” portion of my meal.

Some good options are fresh fruit:

  • Sliced champagne mangoes (my favorite mango variety, usually imported from Mexico)
  • Sliced apples with a spoonful or two of peanut butter
  • Sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar
  • Peaches/plums

Here are some good, non-fruit options:

  • Yogurt cups (Dannon Light is my favorite)
  • Wheat thins and peanut butter
  • Ritz crackers and peanut butter

Now, finally, for a recipe.  If you’re going to the trouble of slicing up the fruit, turn it into a fruit salad!

Fresh Fruit Salad with Cool Whip

  • Cool Whip (Get the Cool Whip brand, not the dinky “Whipped Topping.” Trust me on this one.)
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Sliced melons (I prefer watermelon, you might not)
  • Peaches, peeled & sliced
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Seedless green grapes
  • 1 banana peeled & sliced
  • 1 Mandarin orange, peeled & sliced

Mix the fruit with enough Cool Whip to cover all of the fruit lightly.  Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes, then enjoy cool fruit and Cool Whip (pun mostly intended) as a delicious complement to a flavorful dinner.

Fruit & Granola Smoothies with Toast

It’s a Saturday morning, which immediately calls for an elaborate mid-morning brunch. While my go-to for brunch is the standard American veggie omelette, pancakes, and breakfast potatoes, every once in a while I find myself thinking: If I didn’t fill myself up with such heavy breakfast foods, maybe my Saturdays would be far more productive. Well, in my search for something equally delicious, but significantly healthier, I settled on smoothies and toast.

Now, the specifics of the smoothie and the style of and spread on the toast are entirely up to your personal palette, but as I generally do, I’m going to offer my two cents on what I believe are delicious smoothies and types of breads.  The only heavy machinery required for smoothies is a good blender (okay, I’m kidding about the heavy machinery part, but really, invest in a good blender).  My favorite blender is the Oster brand.  Oster is relatively inexpensive, running about $20 for an average quality blender, but you can invest in a $60 stainless steel blender if you happen to be a blender enthusiast.  Here’s my blender, a basic 10-speed:

osterblender

Strawberry Banana Granola Smoothie

(Change the quantities to taste – I’ll admit I’ve never actually measured my smoothie ingredient measurements.)

  • 5 oz. fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 3 drops vanilla extract

Making the smoothie is extremely simple: Wash strawberries and remove stems. Process all ingredients in your blender until smooth.

Now, for toast: I personally love whole grain or oatmeal breads because they have a distinct flavor that isn’t lost in the toasting process.  I grew up eating Nature’s Own Honey Wheat, which is still my go-to bread if I’m having trouble choosing from the generally extensive bread selection at Shaw’s (now Star Market).  There are two brands that make oatnut bread, one is Freihofer’s which I simply cannot stop eating. Cinnamon Raisin bread is great for toast, but I find the combination of a smoothie and cinnamon raisin toast entirely too sweet.  I toast my bread via toaster oven to a medium toast, flipping the toast the second it starts darkening. Black & Decker makes a simple, functional, but high-quality toaster oven.  This is the one I have:

toaster

For toppings, I love simple buttered toast with my smoothies because there’s enough sweetness in the latter as is.  Land O’Lakes Spreadable Butter and Country Crock Original (Margarine) are my favorites, because they spread easily without crushing or tearing the toast. Currently, I’m enjoying homemade peach jam, courtesy of my friend Christina’s dad, but otherwise I would opt for strawberry jam or orange marmelade.

And, I almost forgot. The best part of smoothies is they can be taken to go.

Enjoy your breakfast!

P.S. If you’re craving pancakes, Jenny offers a healthy alternate recipe for Banana Oatmeal Pancakes at her blog: Enjoy Your Cheerios.

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