Friday, September 13, 2013

Healthy Homemade Italian Dressing

Oh man.  I LOVE Italian dressing.  I do NOT, however, like it from a bottle.  My dear friend who gave this recipe to me once told me that once I start making my own dressings, I will no longer like any from a bottle and boy she was right.  So let's get down to it.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1:3 ratio of white balsamic vinegar
  • 2:3 ratio of extra virgin olive oil  (I normally go for 1/3 and 2/3 of a cup as my ratios)
  • Pinch of powdered ginger
  • Shake of cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of the following: basil, oregano, parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste (to be honest, I've never added salt or pepper but I'm sure it would be fine)
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  I use garlic powder because that way I can keep it at room temp.  If you use the garlic, you need to keep it refrigerated

  1. Place all ingredients in a salad dressing mixer
  2. Mix well!  You will also need to mix well before every use as vinegar and water separate (science, kids!)

This lasts about 2-3 weeks at room temp.  A serving size is 1 tbsp and here is the nutrition info:

83 calories
9g fat
2mg sodium
1g sugar

FYI, the majority of the calories come from the olive oil - but remember EVOO provides good fats and good calories!  Just take a look at a nutrition label of a bottled dressing next time you go to a grocery store.  They're normally laced with ridiculous ingredients, tons of unnecessary sugar, and artifical colors or flavors.  Stick with this.  Natural and delicious!  I will for sure be trying some more homemade dressings in the future :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Almost) Caprese Salad

Pardon the poor picture quality, this was taken on my phone.  At work.  BECAUSE AMERICA!  And let's  be real - I don't have an SLR camera at home anyway so this is about as good as it gets.

ANYHOO, just wanted to share a super quick and easy snack that I LOVE.  As you can tell from the glorious photo above, this is basically a dumb downed version of a caprese salad.  No basil.  The balsamic isn't reduced just poured on.  But it's light, filling, and a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.  Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 medium roma tomato (I got mine local.  For me, I would MUCH rather have local over organic)
  • 1-1.5oz fresh mozzarella (I got mine from Aldi)
  • 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar, depending on your preference and size of your tomato
  • 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (I think we have Star at the house but it honestly doesn't make a difference)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  1. Slice your tomato to your desired thickness.  I like to end up with an even number of slices to make the mozzarella cutting easier (This is also called OCD)
  2. Cut a slice of mozzarella about 1/4" thick
  3. Salt and pepper tomato if desired
  4. Cut that slice into 4-6 smaller slices depending on how many slices you got out of your tomato
  5. Place them sweetly on top of your tomato
  6. Drizzle oil and vinegar on top.  Since I packed this snack for work, mine was in a container so mine was shaken together
Voila! Delicious snack with super low calories!  For those health conscious folks like me, here are your nutrition specs*:

Calories:  165
Fat:  13g
Sodium:  105g
Protein:  6g


5 Foods Always at The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is a museum I really wanna go to.  It's also what I call our house since our last name is Smith.  Anyhoo, as we have been endeavoring on (and actually really enjoying!) this healthy, mostly 'whole food' eating lifestyle, I have come to notice there are 5 things that are really healthy, versatile, and delicious that usually stay in our house at all times. FYI, none of these pictures weren't taken by me.  I Google image searched them.  Holla.

1.  Spinach

Baby spinach.  Adult spinach.  Frozen spinach.  Doesn't matter.  We use this for everything!  As I still love to juice, I mostly use this as a base for my juices.  Have a smoothie recipe?  Throw a handful in there - you honestly won't even taste it!  Also for sides and salads, the possibilities are endless!  And now that I found this that shows you how to freeze spinach in an ice cube tray for smoothies, GAME OVER!

2.  Eggs
Dang.  First, I never realized how expensive eggs can be.  Second, I'm not sure what's gotten in to The Smiths, but we go through SO MANY TINY BABY CHICKENS in a week.  Okay, so maybe not THAT many, but still - it really is a lot.  After reading TONS of health blogs and consulting with my dietitian friend, there is nothing different from white eggs than brown eggs other than breed.  You hear me?  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.  That means when you see brown eggs next to white eggs and price difference is 40 or 50 cents different, save your change!  You just want your eggs to be high in Omega-3's.  Also, if you don't believe in chickens being in cages,  you can buy free range, too, but you'll be paying higher for it.  And again, no nutritional difference until you get into to the "No hormone fed, only vegan fed" crap, but honestly, I eat them for protein reasons and they're delicious!  Scrambled with a little Texas Pete is a personal fave.  I also have a go- to breakfast for on the run:
  • 1 Thomas Everything Bagel Thin
  • 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin sharp cheddar
  • 1 egg white, cooked in the microwave (you heard me! MICROWAVE PEOPLE! 30 seconds per egg white - I just spray coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl, put my egg white in there, and heat for 30 seconds)
We also use egg whites a lot for cooking/baking too.  And honestly, the whole 'should I eat only egg whites or the whole egg' debacle is dumb.  The yolk is not that bad for you.  But whatevs.

3.  Greek Yogurt
To admit, I was TERRIFIED of doing the whole greek  yogurt switch out for mayo, sour cream, etc ... BUT I PROMISE YOU, I put this stuff on our healthy tacos we made the other night and I literally COULD NOT tell a difference.  It was incredible.  Smoothies.  Throw some cinnamon and mix it around and make a great dip for apples.  Exchange it out for oil, butter, or heavy cream by following these guidelines I found on Pinterest.

4.  Garlic
Or as I like to call it ... OMGarlic.  It's unhealthy how much I love garlic.  (Actually it's real healthy how much I love it because garlic is super good for you!)  We keep garlic ON DECK at all times.  Wrap it up in tin foil and roast it for a delicious smell and spreadable garlic you can use on your healthy whole grain bread! Throw minced garlic in vegetables and coconut oil and roast in the oven.  We usually have whole cloves as well as the minced stuff in a jar - it's like pennies on the dollar at Aldi and SO worth it!  I also get our garlic from Aldi, too, because you can get 3 cloves for 79 CENTS! Wheeeeee!  No vampires in The Smithsonian.

5.  Cucumber
My best friend HATES cucumber.  I still love her, but I think she's nuts.  I can do so many awesome delicious things with cucumber!  My fave is just to slice it up, add a touch of salt and pepper and eat away.  I love dipping cucumbers in hummus (side bar, I am not a carrot fan. Blech.)  I also saw recently on Pinterest to make little sammiches with them!  Save on your carbs!  I also have this recipe I'm DYING to try from Eat Yourself Skinny of Cucumber Cups stuff with Spicy Crab! They sound so freaking good.  I also eat a TON of salad (see #1) and love having cucumber as a topping - adds a crunch and a veggie serving instead of saturated fats and carbs with crutons. 

To be fair, we also have a lot of other things we keep on deck at home - avacados (which has to be an honorable mention for me because I LOVE LOVE LOVE them), tuna, and boneless, skinless chicken.  They're also healthy too, but in thinking of the top 5 staples we are never without, these things make the list every time!

Happy Thursday!

Juicing - Day 3

Head: Carmen, you're starving

Tummy:  Seriously. No you're not.  Feel how full you are.

So that was my day 3.  Literally.  ALL. DAY.  

We went to Ikea and hoping to try to occupy my brain, it only made me hungrier.  Over the loudspeaker they kept talking about their "delicious meals starting at $1.99".  2 of my favorite things - food AND a sale??? My husband was staring at the business end of a hissy fit.

Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast - SunnyG
Lunch - Lemon Lime (this is one of my faves)
Dinner - Cinnamon Apple Squash (omg. add the cinnamon. if not, it tastes like buttfeet.  which is a scientific thing, just ask scientists)

Happy Mother's Day to all mamas! :)

Juicing - Day 2

So today was hard.  I don't know if it was just that I was at home most of the day instead of work or what but I could NOT stop thinking about food.  And to make things worse, my best friend of 20 years sent me a picture of her delicious sushi takeout she got for dinner >:(

Yea. My sweet gentle Jesus.  

I did try to occupy myself since my husband got called in to work today.  I took Tiny Sir and Fat Madam (that's nicknames for our pupchildren - yea, we're gonna make great parents one day) to the dog park today.

Yea, he cute. Ignore the ridiculous COWHIDE RUG my husband insists on keeping on our floor.  Ugh.  

Anyway, today was hard, but here were my meals for today:

Breakfast:  Orange Sunrise
Lunch:  Veggie Garden
Dinner:  Good Morning Juice (breakfast for dinner, I guess?)


Juicing - Day 1

So, day 1 done. Under ze belt.  That's pretty cool.

Today was honestly a lot easier than anticipated.  I never felt "hungry".  I did not have any "detox" symptoms.  For me it was more of a mind game because I never realized how much I thought about food.  Like, I'm talking all freaking day.  ALL DAY (in my best Schmidt voice.  New Girl fans out there?  Anyone?  Mmmmmk).  I am a meal planner so normally I'm thinking of what I will be cooking when I get off.  I'm constantly on Pinterest trying to find new recipes.  I'm subscribed to a ton of food/home recipe blogs so I'm constantly reading about it.  So today was hard because I had to distract my mind.  I have a wonderful job that I sincerely love.  A perk of my job is a lot of down time.  Especially on Fridays.  So I played a LOT of Candy Crush, looked at a LOT of deal websites for stuff at bargain basement prices that I'm not going to buy anyway, and refreshed Twitter every 3 and a half seconds.  And I kept thinking about the "before" pictures we took of my body today and how phenomenally disgusting I looked. VOM.COM you guys.  It's outta control.  That's enough to motivate anyone.

For my husband on the other hand, today for him was awful.  After he threw up (but before he passed out asleep) he has already told me he's quitting.  We both knew the first 3 days would be rough especially for him because of the detox, but if he can JUST make it through, he will be fine.  I know it and he knows it.  But after having a migraine all day and not being able to sleep because he's so uncomfortable, he's not into it.  My husband's not the "I'm up for a challenge" kinda guy.  Sinful, but he's working on it and I'm loving him through it.

Oh, and a disclaimer: My husband did seek the approval from a family physician because he is a tad overweight and diabetes runs in his family.  One of my very good friends is a dietician and I have been consulting with her as well.  All systems a go and everyone approved for takeoff.

For those of you who may care at ALL, here wre my meals today:

Breakfast - Super Defender (Kale, Carrots, and an orange)
Mid morning snack - Grape & Green (Kale, Spinach, Celery - which I omitted - and a grapefruit)
Lunch - Green Lemonade
Dinner - Apple Lullaby (Red apples, Lettuce, and a Lemon) *the lettuce is supposed to have a 'sleep inducing' effect. Not seeing that yet but whatevs.

Failed It: Homemade Almond Butter

You've seen the pins.  I have too.  They're beautiful.  Creamy, delicious almond butter "so easy a 2 year old can make it".  Well ... I guess I'm only 18 months old cuz this fell apart.  Literally.  I fell apart.

So, after seeing these pins hereherehere (oh, and also here), I thought it couldn't be that hard.  This many people wouldn't be posting about it if it wasn't doable.  We keep raw unsalted almonds on deck at our house because we need healthy snacks so I don't drown my emotions in Trolli Sour Gummi Worms.

Enter my Memorial Day morning.  And all afternoon.  And the beginning of the evening.

After my blender fiasco of having a blender explode on me and have frozen berries stain our white cabinets >:( I very calmly threw the old blender out the window and immediately called my husband and told him we would be purchasing another one.  I really reeeeeeaaaallllly wanted the Vitamix, but we didn't have $400 laying around even though we're ballers.  (<---That's a lie.  We aren't ballers.  We're newlyweds.)  So after mucho research, I decided to go with the Ninja even though I had my reservations about it since they have their own (ridiculous) infomercial.  Whatever.  It was at Target and we had giftcards which made it about free.99 which I always love.

We got the Ninja that also comes with 2 single serve smoothie cups as well as a food processor since I'm starting to process more foods.  All you have to do is put these in a blender.  I read some things that said it was a test of patience and I'm all, "whatevs. I got this".

Freaking LOL.  So 10 minutes in, I got a bunch of powder.  Which is what I was told would happen.  Okay, that's fine.  Scrape it down the sides and start again.  Another 10 minutes in, I got a bunch of powder.  Mmmmmk...Starting to get a little worried but still it all says "you will  think you've done something wrong but the magic will soon happen when the almonds release their oils".  Okay, I thought.  Just gotta let the little buddies release their oils.  JUST LET GO LITTLE OILS!  So this time, I turned the food processor on again, took my little man out for a walk around the block for about 10 minutes because his ears were hurting I could tell from the loudness and came back.  I GOT  A BUNCH OF POWDER.  And the base of my Ninja was literally so hot I could barely touch it.  Which, again, it said may happen.

Well, since we just bought the thing, I was a little less worried about it because it's still within the 30 days at Target and it came with a year warranty.  But I did give it a break.  Watched a recorded TV show for about 45 minutes.  Then went at at it again.

This time, I switched it out to a small food processor....for a second, because the minute I turned it on, the plastic piece that controls the blade broke clean off.  OMG.  I HATE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!

So, I put it in the blender attachment of the Ninja instead of the food processor attachment.  Instantly, it got a little more "creamy".   YAY!  I should have done this the whole time.  So at this point, I started adding the salt and honey to sweeten it up.  And turned the blender on for about 15 more minutes and walked away.  Came nothing any different than when I'd left it.

By now it's lunch time and I'd started this around 9:30.  Seriously.  I timed all this.  So I decided to give the Ninja another break while my husband went and got Moe's for lunch since it was our "cheat (on your healthy eating, not your spouse) day".

Came back.  Put the almond "stuff" back in the food processor and turned it on it's lowest setting.  Maybe it was spinning too fast.  About 20 minutes of letting that sit, I furiously said "FORGET IT I'LL JUST BUY IT" ... turned it off, let the smoke dissipate from the heat of my Ninja (seriously, it was smoking), and threw it all away.  But not before I tasted it and snapped a couple of pictures with my phone.  The taste was mealy and not at ALL creamy goodness.  I was livid.  I'd literally spent all day to get this:

I know what you're thinking.  That doesn't look bad!  Which is why I took this picture:

To me that looks like this brown sugar body scrub I got from my best friend one time.  Ugh.

Literally HOURS of work later, a smoky Ninja (that does still work PS), and a broken mini food processor and all I ended up with was 2 cups of (freaking expensive) almonds in the trashcan.