Real. Good. Fud.

and other joys in life


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Quick and Easy

I often get asked what I kinds of things I regularly eat, and where I buy my food.  People who know my passion for healthy, homemade foods sometime think that always means lots of work and lots of money.  I’ll write a separate post on the money situation- and where I buy my food.  For now, I’ll focus on some tips and ideas to incorporate healthy food into your everyday diet… not just on the weekend when you have some extra time.

First and foremost- PLAN!  I could write a whole post on how I do my meal planning, but just think ahead.  And, when you do your grocery shopping, only buy healthy options- what you have in your house is what you will eat.  If you don’t have any canned soup and Cheetos, you probably won’t eat them!  Check out a previous post on more ideas for planning.

For now, I’ll share some recipes to use after you’ve done your planning.

A few great weeknight meals regularly consumed at our house:

Pasta, with pesto made from pureed kale and olive oil, with random vegetables I needed to use up!

Sweet Potato Tuna Melts

Tilapia with Roasted Garlic, Potato, and Kale Crust (you don’t have to roast the garlic- just microwave potatoes and stir in other ingredients).

Whole Chicken– just put it in the crock pot, and use the leftovers all week.

Greens with Carrots, Feta, and Brown Rice (use any cheese, grains and vegetables)

Learn to use what you have, and don’t pressure yourself by thinking every dinner has to be extravagant.  Make a big salad, and use leftovers as toppings.  Toasted sandwiches.  Breakfast for dinner- make a quiche, homemade pancakes and eggs, or French toast.

And finally- get creative.  Use the following ingredients to mix and create something that your family enjoys, depending on what you have available and what your personal preferences are.

Eggs, beans, lentils, leftover meat/chicken/fish

Grains- barley, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, pasta

Vegetables- onion, garlic, carrots, greens, peppers, broccoli

Use the above Greens with Carrots, Feta, and Brown Rice recipe and play around with it!  Make extra- and use leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  You could even stir in some raw greens and avocado, sprinkle with some lemon juice- and there’s a hearty, healthy, and delicious salad.

I leave you with my meal from last night- nothing fancy, whatsoever.  But, practical… easy… I think it took 10 minutes

Saute onions and peppers in coconut oil until just cooked, but still crunchy.

Add spinach and garlic and stir together.

In a separate portion of the pan, or a separate pan… cook an egg (or two, or three…).

Serve your greens, with the egg on top.

I had a protein bar before dinner, so I just ate this with some sweet potato chips (from Food Should Taste Good).  However, serve over some grains, with some leftover chicken, or with a side such as sweet potatoes for a more filling meal.

What are your very favorite, busy night meals?  Or, what tips have saved you from running through a drive through after a long day?

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Dress With a Friend

Salad dressing: friend or foe?

It can go either way, really.  Kraft Fat Free Zesty Italian Salad Dressing.  Sounds healthy, right?  Free of fats.  That part is true.  First of all, most any ‘light’ dressings have a first ingredient of water.  Therefore, an equal amount has less flavor than ‘full fat’ options, meaning you probably use more of it.  High fructose corn syrup is the 3rd ingredient.  I stop there. Foe.

Beloved Ranch?  Interestingly, first ingredient is water again.  Third is sugar.  A little later comes monosodium glutamate.  Yuck.  12 grams of fat.  370 milligrams of sodium.  And remember that these dressings keep for quite some time.  Convenient, yes; but what is in there that makes it keep for so long?  Foe

So where can you find a friend?  In your pantry and refrigerator!  Making homemade salad dressing sounds a little intimidating.  It can be done very simply, or more complex for various kinds.  Practice makes perfect.  And as always, experiment and change to suit your tastes!

The basics:  acid, oil, something sweet.

Here are a couple of recipes, beginning with the most simple.

Equal amounts vinegar (my favorite is balsamic) and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).  Stir in a tiny bit of something sweet (e.g., maple syrup or honey) and some pepper.  This is my go-to.  If I have nothing prepared, this obviously takes seconds to prepare!  It is the base for most others.

Sometimes I will even just squeeze some fresh lemon, drizzle some EVOO and sprinkle some pepper on my salad!  This works especially well if you have lots of ‘yummies’ on your salad like nuts and fruit.

My very favorite salad dressing that I typically always have made is this:

In a small blender or food processor, blend together:

a garlic clove

a few slices of onion

balsamic vinegar

pepper

a spoonful of Dijon mustard

maple syrup

lemon juice and/or zest

Once these are mixed, stir or whisk in some EVOO (about equal amount to vinegar)

Still pretty easy, huh?! But so good I could drink it.

Of course you can get adventurous and make ranch, Caesar, etc. homemade too!  Think lots of flavor to minimize the need for much ‘cream’.  And for the cream, try out plain yogurt and low-fat milk and soft cheeses. 

Here is a prime example of taking something that could be really terrible for you; the bad fats, sugar, salt and preservatives from most  bought dressings, and turning it into something that will make your whole body smile.  Full of antioxidants, omega-3 fats; and vinegar is claimed to have a wide array of healing powers.  Out with the bad, in with the amazing!  The great part is, the amazing even tastes amazing!

Final notes:  the better ingredients you begin with, the better your final product will be.  That being said, I typically buy a ‘mid’ level EVOO, not generic, but not the real fancy stuff either.  My vinegar, I do spend a little more on.  Still not the little bottle that costs $30, but something rich and full of flavor.