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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Chicken- it’s what’s for dinner.

Chicken.  Most people concerned about health, but not wanting to go vegetarian, probably consume a lot of this famous white meat.

Not in my household… I can live with or without chicken, but the husband is not a fan.  Say chicken and he’ll think “dry, bland, and not good”.  So for the first 2 years of our marriage, I almost never cooked chicken.

In an attempt to cut back on deli meat, I decided to roast a whole chicken- and use the meat on sandwiches and salads.  The results were fabulous.  Full of flavor, unbelievably moist… even the husband thoroughly enjoyed it!

His wings fell off 😦

When looking into chicken, I was amazed to see all of the health benefits homemade broth has to offer.  There’s actually a reason for this soup of choice when ill!

So, we know it’s really great for your health.  It’s also a great way to be frugal.  The bird I most recently bought was $14 (almost 7 pounds, free range, organic).  That included a dinner for 2, a week’s worth of meat (for leftovers, salads, sandwiches), and lots of broth!

This is one of those dishes you can get really creative with!

Here’s how I cook the bird:

Remove giblets, pat dry, and place in a slow cooker with about 2 inches of water in the bottom.

Season with salt, pepper (I use whole peppercorns), garlic and onion powder, sage, and rosemary.  (the options are endless-try experimenting with orange, cinnamon sticks, fennel, paprika, thyme, and other herbs!)

Cover and cook until done!  My 7-pounder was done in 6 hours on high (maybe sooner).  (Of course this will depend on the size of your bird, so just check with a meat thermometer before taking him out.  And remember, it will continue to cook after you take it out and let it rest.)

When you remove the chicken, be very careful!  I recommend using some tongs and a huge spoon or sturdy spatula for underneath support.  This guy’s meat will literally slide right off the bones.

Now-very important- let the chicken ‘rest’ after you remove it from the slow cooker- for about 30 minutes.  By doing this, you avoid all the juices escaping when you cut it.

When you ‘cut’ it, there is really no ‘cutting’ involved.  You should just be able to pick the meat off with a fork and tongs or your fingers.  Sometimes I just pull the bones out, and then pick through the meat to ensure it’s ‘clean’.

Okay- so now you have your chicken meat.

Eat it, pack it up, freeze it, do whatever you need to do with it.

Now it’s time to make your broth:

Put all the bones and other ‘inedible’ pieces back in your slow cooker (along with the juices).  I throw the skin out, but some people leave it in.

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar, some fresh garlic and peppercorns (and onion, carrots, celery if you’d like).

Cook overnight on low.

Strain the broth.

If you want low-fat, store it in the refrigerator for a few hours and the fat will solidify on top- then just scoop it off!

I usually store some in the fridge for immediate use, and freeze the rest in bags or jars (leaving room for expansion- learned that lesson the hard way!).

Whew- looks like a long post, but it really is incredibly simple and takes little ‘hands on’ time.

This chicken is so moist and flavorful for two main reasons: it’s cooked very slowly, and it’s cooked with the bones in and skin on.  I don’t eat the skin, but leaving it on during cooking produces dramatically different meat!

If I haven’t convinced you- do a little research on chicken broth, and try it for yourself!


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Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Are you a seafood eater?  I used to despise the stuff.  Now, I eat more fish than I do beef and poultry combined.  Unfortunately, the Midwest doesn’t exactly boast of its spectacular seafood.  Understandable.  However, that shouldn’t keep you from eating it.  As long as you prepare it right, with a little seasoning and love, it can be quite tasty.  Without further ado, here’s my new favorite preparation of my all-time favorite fish:

Baked Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

salmon

2 salmon fillets

EVOO

salt

garlic pepper

tarragon

salsa

1/4 mango, peeled and cubed

1 avocado, cubed

orange zest

juice from 1/4 orange

green onions

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Coat salmon with oil and seasonings. Bake at 350 until cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, combine salsa ingredients.

3. Top cooked salmon with salsa and enjoy