Kale…mmm

20140223-181145.jpg

Yes, her body is sick and yes I stole this picture from Perez Hilton on my phone at 10:54 am.  But this is all about kale not Jen’s stripper body.  I’ve been hearing so much about kale lately especially people juicing with it (Yuck, no thank you).  I realized that I had never tried it and I had it in the back of my mind that one of these days I will venture into a kale recipe.  Then I saw this video.  Click here.

tone it up girls

It’s the girls from the tone it up show on bravo.  All these tips in their videos are great for snacks but this one stood out because I had been wanting to try this amazing nutrient dense food.  They pointed out it is a great lunch to take to work because kale is so hearty it won’t wilt with dressing on it.  So, I went out the next day and bought some prewashed kale from Trader Joes and made a kale salad!  My husband and I had it for lunch on our first day of our recent cleanse.  See here.  His was thrown together in a Ziploc with strawberries, goat cheese, sliced almonds and homemade dressing.

20140207-225434.jpg

Then I decided to make a white bean soup with kale the next week.  I seriously love white beans and white bean soups are my favorite because they are so creamy. I googled white bean kale soup and got ideas for recipes from many sources and came up with this yummy delight.

20140223-181257.jpg

For my husband I added Chicken sausage to my vegetarian soup.  We had grilled cheese sandwiches for a meal during one of our many snow storms here in the suburbs of Philly this winter.

20140223-181307.jpg

Here’s the breakdown with no measurements because I just threw it together.  I used kale, carrots, shallots, onion, vegetable broth and white beans.  I admittedly go overboard am a snob about beans and refuse to use canned beans.  So these I lovingly soaked for 8 hours and then cooked for an hour like I always do.

20140223-181318.jpg

I sautéed the carrots, shallots & onions with olive oil until soft then added the kale for a couple of minutes.

20140223-181329.jpg

I mashed up some beans with a fork in some vegetable broth to add to the soup to help make the soup creamy.

20140223-181403.jpg

This is a little blurry but I threw the sautéed veggies and kale along with the mashed up beans and then some more non mashed up beans in my crockpot.  I added rosemary, oregano, basil and some roasted garlic and voila delish!  The kale holds up great in soups and provides an interesting texture combined with the creamy beans.  I ate this soup for a week!

20140223-181418.jpg

Back to Jennifer Aniston for a moment.  Apparently to get that toned stripper ready body for We’re the Millers she ate veggies, greens, lean proteins and kale.  (Sounds like my soup!)  Also, she did yoga.  And when she wanted to cheat she ate kale chips.  Huh?  Is that a typo eonline?  My cheat is chocolate cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies or even chocolate chips not kale chips.  But one cannot help looking at that picture and not be inspired.  I’m going to add kale chips to my next Trader Joes or Whole Foods shopping list.

Mediterranean Feta Salsa

Christmas Eve I was dropping a small fortune shopping at Whole Foods for our Christmas night get together at our place.  Of course they had samples out to try and no doubt will end with me adding 20% more to my grocery cart and this beauty was one of those samples.  Mediterranean Feta Salsa!  One word:  Dill.  Okay more words:  Feta, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives.  This stuff is amazing.  Kerry came to visit the day after Christmas and I had some left over.  She literally shoveled it in her mouth until it was done.

20140125-172939.jpg

I went back last week and picked up another tub of this heavenly salsa.  I used it as a topping for a delish salad.  I made a simple mustard vinaigrette and added celery, carrots and peppadew peppers.  Then topped it with a little parmesan cheese.  Side note:  next time you are in Whole Foods pick up some mild peppadew peppers.  So amazing.  I found them on amazon here.  But they seem really expensive.  I’ll have to check how much they were at Whole Foods.

20140125-172950.jpg

Healthy Eating Out – Seasons 52

It’s rare that my husband and I REALLY love the same restaurant.  He loves seafood, steak & potatoes.  And, I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms.  (Seriously, have you ever driven within 5 miles of a mushroom farm?  The smell…ugh)

We both love Seasons 52.  It just came to Kansas City a couple of months ago.  It’s a restaurant where they promise that each dish is under 475 calories!  They use fresh, seasonal ingredients with healthy cooking methods to keep calories down.  Not only do they focus on healthy, fresh food but they have a separate vegetarian & vegan menu!!!

The vegan menu is on the opposite page that is not shown.  I’ve tried about 5 different dishes and my favorite is the Housemade Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli.  It’s really a perfect dish.  The pasta is delicate, the goat cheese creamy & the grilled bread has a wonderful charred taste to it & I use it to sop up the organic tomato broth.

It really is such a treat as a vegetarian to have so many choices.  I’m always so disappointed when there is no vegetarian dish on the menu at restaurants.  Then, when the chef says he’ll make something for you it comes out with pasta, a ton of garlic & rubbery vegetables with no flavor.  Seasons 52 did such a great job for both a vegetarian & a seafood lover.  My husband loves their Ahi Tuna & Scallops.  In fact, the 4 times we have been he has gotten those 2 dishes every time.

Check out their website here.  It may even inspire you to try and cook their dishes at home.

Italian Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers.  They leave you feeling full for a long time and they are so healthy.  The key to getting them properly stuffed is to cut the peppers lengthwise.  Here are my Italian Stuffed Peppers I put together.  I made the marinara with olive oil, shredded carrots, chopped onions & canned tomatoes.  The next day I took the left over marinara and blended it up with a lot of basil, a little milk and heated it up for tomato soup!  I couldn’t finish it all and had some the next day for lunch.

Recipe:

Produce:  2 bell peppers, 1 cup of marinara sauce

Whole Grain:  1/2 cup cooked brown rice

Lean Protein:  1/4 cup of white beans, 1/8 cup of parmesan cheese

Plant-based Fat:  1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (in the marinara), 1 tablespoon of pine nuts

SASS:  Basil, oregano

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Make the marinara or use a store bought.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Cut peppers lengthwise and put them on the cookie sheet.  Mix the rice with the marinara sauce, basil, oregano & white beans.  Stuff the peppers and top with the parmesan cheese & pine nuts.  Cover the peppers with foil and cook for 25 min then remove the foil and cook 10 min more.

Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It is the season of the apple.  I am trying to come up with some fall inspired recipes.  Here I took thin slices of apples on whole grain bread with cheddar cheese & basil.While I toasted up this delicious sandwich I ate the rest of the apple to get a full serving of fruit.  Here’s this delicious and easy lunch ready to enjoy!
Here’s the Cinch Breakdown:

  • Produce:  one apple
  • Whole Grain:  2 slices of smaller 100% Whole Grain Bread
  • Lean Protein:  Cheddar Cheese
  • Plant Based Fat:  EVOO
  • SASS:  Basil

Weekly Weigh In

Weight Loss (Gain) Results-

Laura + 2 lbs (Goal -2 lbs/week)

Well, I got the number correct but it went in the wrong direction.  I’m not surprised.  I celebrated turning 35 (also seeing my husband for an entire weekend) from Wed-Sun.  We ate out and had dessert every night!

So, I’ll take my 2 lb weight gain.  I am now planning out my healthy menu for the week and headed to Whole Foods today on this beautiful 60 degree Labor Day in Kansas City.

If you ever make it to Kansas City or Pittsburgh or New York.  I’d check out Lidia’s.  This is where we went for my birthday dinner.  Check out the website here.  Click on the restaurants tab to see the different locations.  In Kansas City, Lidia’s is located near Union Station in a former railroad house.  Here’s the view from our corner table:

They bring you out these delicious cheese sticks & rustic bread with 2 dipping sauces.  They have a great wine list with a lot of Chianti options.  Everyday they have 3 fresh, homemade pastas that they bring out to the tables and it’s called Pasta Tasting.  The assistant waiters walk around with sauce pans and tongs freely doling out pasta!  Since, I’m a vegetarian they made all 3 vegetarian for me.  We had goat cheese raviolis, creamy rigatoni & a pasta with tomato sauce.  My husband had shrimp and a sweet Italian sausage in his.  A small touch that I appreciate is the quality of the cheese that is sitting on your table to add to your pasta.  And of course, they had delicious homemade desserts.

Here we are before our 2 bottles of Chianti:

On Friday night we headed to Cheesecake Factory to use a gift card I received.  I had their new Veggie Burger which was very good.  I really enjoyed it.  It is on their Skinnylicious Menu and it is served with a small salad but being my birthday weekend I requested fries instead.  Also, we got desserts to go.  I always get a cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory, Duh!  But for some reason the tiramisu was calling me.  This was the BEST tiramisu I’ve ever had.  I can’t wait to get it again.  If you want to splurge you have to give it a try.

So, I am back to Cinch and I’m excited to rid my body of all the salt & sugar and get back to my “new” normal.  I may do a 2 day fast forward some time this month but I’m not feeling like it today.  Also, my other sister really wanted to read Cinch.  It’s only $14.99 on Amazon right now.  I’m going to order her one this week.  If you don’t have a copy yet what are you waiting for?  Check it out here.  Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds & Lose Inches. Let’s Go People!

Herbs & Spices for Mexican Food

When I cook Mexican, which is quite a bit, these are my go to herbs & spices.

  • The Chipotle Tabasco sauce is my new favorite find.  It has this delicious smokey flavor that adds another layer to every dish and it is not too spicy.  I’m not sure if this is Cinch approved.  But I just use a couple of drops.
  • I found this salt free Mexican Fiesta herb mix, in the middle, at Whole Foods and really like it.  A little goes a long way.
  • I go through Cumin almost as quick oregano.  I add a ton of it to beans to give them a lot of flavor.
  • The other must is cilantro.  I love cilantro and I can never have enough on Mexican food.  I try to get it fresh but it doesn’t last long in the fridge.  I have a small shaker of dried cilantro but I honestly don’t even taste it when I use it.  I think I need a potted cilantro plant for my window.

Just as Cinch points out, using herbs & spices can really help in avoiding adding salt.  With all of these flavors I doubt you will miss the salt too much.