Friday, October 18, 2013

Tortilla "Chips"

I love tortilla chips, but unfortunately making my own out of corn tortillas has never worked because quite frankly, I'm not wild about homemade corn tortillas. I love corn and I love tortillas, but never the twain shall meet in my kitchen, at least not ones that are homemade. Instead, I have always used whole wheat flour tortillas to make wraps,  Mexican dishes, and my beloved tortilla chips, and they were...just okay.

So the other day when I went to Trader Joe's and saw these Whole Grain Flour Tortillas with rolled oats and flax seeds, I knew I had to try them. 

I had also bought some hummus from TJ's and wanted to make chips to eat with it, so I used these speckled tortillas to do just that. I assembled  the tortillas, my Misto filled with olive oil, sea salt, and my pizza cutter. I set the oven to 350 to preheat while I prepared the "chips."  I spritzed each tortilla (both sides) with olive oil and sprinkled each with a little sea salt.  I really like using the Misto because it  sprays a fine, wide misting of olive oil that helps me to coat the tortilla without saturating it. The Misto is also non aerosol, unlike other nonstick oil sprays you find at the grocery store. Both types of sprays will work, I just prefer my Misto.  I used only a  little sea salt because while we rarely eat added salt in anything anymore, to me, chips should be least a little bit. Then I cut each tortilla into 4 large  triangular pieces and put them on a cookie sheet to bake. Until you know how long your oven will take to cook these "chips," I would watch them carefully. After about 4-5 minutes, the bottom of my tortilla pieces were getting brown so I flipped them and baked about 2 minutes longer to brown the other side.  Then I removed them from the oven and cooled them for just a few minutes before putting the next filled cookie sheet in. This is how they looked when they were finished. They were great and everyone like them. They were perfect with hummus and as a compliment to a big ole delicious chock full of veggies salad.

Finished "chips"

I saved one tortilla for DH to use to make a wrap. Let me just say: best. wrap. ever! These were inexpensive, easy to work with, and totally tasty. These tortillas are my new favorite Trader Joe's find. If you try them, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Red Beans and Rice.

Dh really enjoyed this dish. I have been making it for awhile now, but usually I make it vegetarian. This week I happened to have some Jennie-o turkey kielbasa so I decided to use it. Either way, it's a great dish.

It's unfortunate for me that because of the green peppers, I cannot enjoy this dish. Leave them out you say?  It wouldn't be the same. I do love to smell it though because the aroma is to die for. And, I think it's one of those dishes that is even better the next day. It does make a lot though so scale it down if  need be. I hope you enjoy it.

Red Beans and Rice

  •  1/2 of a Jennie-O turkey kielbasa, sliced and cut in halves (optional)
  • 1/2 c heaping diced onion
  • 1 stalk chopped celery
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 4 c low sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cans no or low sodium red beans, drained
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a generous sprinkle of thyme
  • a pinch of cayenne

    Prepare all your veggies and the kielbasa if using. Put in a pot  with minced garlic and bay leaf and water saute all till veggies are tender. Add 4 c  low sodium vegetable broth, beans, and spices.  Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or so. Add tomatoes and simmer 10-15 minutes more.
    Remove bay leaf. put some of the veggies and beans mixture in a blender with a little of the juice. I put about 1 1/2 cups in my blender. Blend till smooth, and then gently pour back into pot.Stir to incorporate all and taste so you can re-season as needed.
    Serve over a bed of rice and garnish with diced green onions. Add hot sauce to taste if need for heat. Dh likes to add extra Tony Chachere's as well.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Vegan Kickstart, Day 1

I had overnight oatmeal today for breakfast. Basically, I added  1/2 c oatmeal and 1 c almond milk, 1 tsp chia seeds, and 1 Tbsp  ground flax in a bowl. Then I put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning I simply added 1 spoonful of the apple butter I made yesterday for flavor and sweetness. Lastly, I warmed it up on the microwave because I cannot eat cold oatmeal. I'm not sure  I liked the "raw" oats. They were chalky, like oat flour.  They did fill me up quicker than cooked oats, probably because they had swelled overnight soaking up all the almond milk. The chia and flax seed meal also added more bulk sitting overnight. I have been researching the nutritional value of cooked v. raw oats, and have found nothing substantial to support one way over the other. In my mind, I would think raw would be better, much the same way that boiled vegetables lose some of their nutrients when boiled too long, while raw veggies maintain their nutritional integrity. One small spoonful of the apple butter I made yesterday was the perfect sweetener. I think I will have to try other butters and homemade jams, perhaps pumpkin and blueberry to sweeten future bowls.
My lunch consisted of a mixed green baby kale and spring mix salad with carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, and 3 green olives with a cup of canned tomato soup made with water and sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Some delicious red seedless grapes finished off the meal.  I used canned soup because I have yet to find a really good tomato soup recipe that I like. I'm still on the hunt though. The baby kale came from Sprouts and it is sooo good
 I had a banana snack with a little Nutella between lunch and dinner. Then I realized Nutella had  milk in it...damn it!  I L-O-V-E Nutella!  : (

Dinner was whole wheat linguine with my spaghetti sauce, a small salad, and a half a glass of wine.

Lots of water and tea today...all in all, a pretty successful start.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Just Checking In....and Apple Butter

After reintroducing some meat back into my diet, I have ditched it once again. 

Originally, my doctor thought it might be good for me to add a little meat for the extra protein. I ditched that advice, however, because I didn't feel any better eating more meat, and I gained 7 pounds.  I don't blame that only on eating more meat, but it didn't help. I only added chicken and a little fish, and I never really enjoyed it. Still, eating a little meat did make me want more meat. It was a vicious cycle. So once again, I am meat free.

I also gave up most dairy products since my doctor said that the sugar in milk and yogurt was not good for me, and egg yolks since they were a carrier of oodles of cholesterol. I had actually been eating eggs frequently before that,  probably 4-5 times a week, which, I admit, was way too much. So I went to eating eggs once a week, mixing the whole egg with an egg white, and then, just the egg whites. Now, no eggs. I have not had yogurt or skim milk in months. My last dairy holdouts were cheese and cottage cheese (mainly for the protein), butter, half and half in my coffee, and sour cream, just because I love it (I don't eat it very often, though). Now, only half and half remains  as a regular staple for me. I still eat sour cream and butter occasionally but not very often.

Last week, I started back to being vegetarian. I felt a ton better.This week, I'm going mostly vegan. I had 2 slices of cheese last week and for me that is amazing. I would be completely happy living my life on cheese and bread, but I'd be bigger than a house if I did. So tomorrow, I will be redoing the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart . I just feel the need to get back to basics (mostly). My biggest challenge is to find a vegan protein powder that I like. I am a little concerned since I don't like tofu, and since I don't eat soy everyday, that  I may not be getting enough protein, but I'm going to go with it for now. I am also investigating acceptable ways to eat quinoa (which I do not care for) that will not make me want to hurl.

I am also trying desperately to get off artificial sweeteners. I'm doing better, but that is still a work in progress.

Currently, I am reading  Dr Neal Barnard's 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart.
I find it helpful to read about health, healthy eating, and making healthy choices when I am trying to change my eating patterns because I feel like it helps to keep me grounded and focused.  I also have been using this almond milk in my oatmeal. I can't go drink almond milk because it still doesn't satisfy me the way a glass of ice cold skim milk always did, but I can sometimes bake with it or use it in oatmeal with no problems. At least it's progress.

I am trying to refocus my health quest by not actually focusing on my weight, but more on just what I am eating and putting into my body. that way even if the scale doesn't move, I'll still feel successful by just eating real foods and putting  good things into my body.

Today, I made a crockpot apple butter recipe that my beautiful sister, Tricia, sent me. You can find the recipe here. Basically the ingredients are apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and brown sugar. Excellent flavor and consistency, but way too sweet for me. We will still eat it, but next time I make it, I will use even less brown sugar than I did this time. I cut the recipe in half including the brown sugar, but it's still too sweet. I think if I had used a tart apple like Granny Smith, it might be okay, but I used a mixture of Golden Delicious, Jongold, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, and Jonathon. The apples had so much natural sweetness already that a lot of extra sugar was not needed except to make the butter truly brown maybe. Since I want to try to cut out as much unnatural sugar as I can, I think I'll still used a mixture of apples, just less brown sugar. I'd rather have the natural sweetness anyway, even if the apple butter is lighter than normal apple butter. Anyway, the flavor is great, and I will definitely make it again with modifications.  Here is a picture of how it looked this time. Consistency is spot on. Tomorrow morning it will be swirled in my overnight oatmeal.

It's not my own recipe, but it get 5 spoons.