Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Num-Num: Cooking at home

I’ve been trying extra hard to prepare all of our meals at home, in the attempt to save cashola (take-out is EXPENSIVE) and to really control what we’re eating.  With MY commitment to losing weight and being healthy, it’s really important to me that my family eats well too, without having to prepare separate meals.  So with that, comes the challenge of making meals that are healthy for mommy, yummy (and appealing) for a 6 year old, and filling enough for Señor Schmid.
We are typically pretty healthy shoppers.  All of our carbs are healthy carbs, if not 100% whole wheat / whole grain, pretty close. If something is in our pantry or fridge that ISN'T the 'healthIER' alternative, it's because it doesn’t exist in a healthy version.  I am okay with paying a little more for something, if it means I’m saving calories or fat.  Blue menu,  sugar free, diet, less fat, less salt.  Less taste? I've never noticed. We only use olive oil, or olive oil-based margarine and recently switched to omega-3 eggs..  We always have fresh fruit and veggie trays in the fridge.  Always.  And our crisper drawers are always full - even when we’re running low on everything else in the kitchen.  
Do we ever eat like crap?  ABSOLUTELY.  Who doesn’t?  I’ve got a husband that goes through withdrawal if he goes longer than a week without pizza!  And what can I say, we’re suckers for fast food, ice cream and Thai Express.  Of course, we have to find ways to incorporate the ‘bad stuff’ - even it’s just once a week - in order to keep our sanity.  And we used to be hardcore snackers, so it’s been tough trying to kick that habit... but a small bowl of (baked)chips here and there are allowed & popcorn (mmm..popcorn), especially when we’re watching all of our Chicago sport teams kick butt!
I’m up at 7am to get Xierra ready for school and head to the gym -- I’ll typically have a bowl of oatmeal so that I have some energy for my workout.
When I get home from the gym, I prepare a ‘real’ breakfast for Brian and I -- always high protein, always delicious.

Eggs:  We always buy NatureEgg Omega-3 liquid eggs, and we recently started buying Omega-3 brown eggs as well.  
If I’m making an omelette with 4 regular eggs, I will only use 2 of 4 yolks, and the rest, whites. 
Meat:  We only buy Canadian back bacon (even though we LOOOOVE regular bacon..mmmm...).  Sometimes I’ll throw some extra lean sandwich ham into a pan to heat it up -- it’s just as good as the bacon.
If there’s any leftover meat from dinner the night before, that can sometimes find it’s way into our eggs too.
Fruit / Veg:  I always try to incorporate veggies into our eggs, or sometimes will include half an avocado with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper with breakfast.  It all depends on what we have 
Carbs:  I’ve tried to cut down on my carb intake, so lately I haven’t been serving toast with our breakfast... but every now and then, I’ll make breakfast burrito’s using whole wheat wraps, or on occasion we’ll have 1 slice of whole wheat raisin toast on the side.  Just depends on the day.
Condiments:  Salsa with our eggs is a huge one.  I’m also huge into sprinkling cayenne pepper into our eggs. 

Since I’m usually at home alone with Xander during the day, lunch for me is, most often, leftovers from the night before.  If I’m not eating leftovers, I’ll prepare myself a salad and always include a protein with it -- it’s pretty easy to open up a can of flavoured tuna and plop it on top of the greens.  The juice from the tuna is always enough to flavour the rest of the salad so I don’t really ever use salad dressing.  


Here are my rules for preparing dinner -- 
  1. Only lean protein  
  2. Veg is a MUST and should primarily be green
  3. If there isn’t orange or red in the veg, it must be incorporated into the carbs
  4. Never more than 3/4 cup of carbs
  5. Either the veg or the carbs (never both) must be quick and easy - i.e. microwavable
Baked salmon, grilled zucchini, wild rice w/ red peppers and onion:

  • salmon is seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon
  • zucchini is grilled with olive oil and a LOT of garlic
  • Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express long grain wild rice: nuked and thrown in a pan with peppers and onions for flavour and colour

Grilled chicken, whole wheat penne w/ meat sauce, brussel sprouts:

  • chicken marinated in yogurt, curry and fruit jam - grilled
  • pasta sauce made using 1/2 cup of leftover seasoned beef, 2 1/2 cups of canned diced tomatoes, garlic and spices - no added fat
  • Green Giant frozen brussel sprouts in ‘butter sauce’ : surprisingly very low in fat, and delicious

Coconut shrimp, brown rice, mixed veggies:

  • shrimp dredged in (whole wheat) flour, dunked in [pina colada & marshmallow fluff] mixture, coated in shredded coconut - baked
  • Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express brown rice: nuked and thrown in a pan with fresh pineapple, salt and pepper
  • Veg: fresh broccoli and carrots, sauteed in olive oil and herbs

Baked pork chop, wild rice w/ red pepper and onions, caesar salad:

  • pork was lightly coated with bbq sauce and breaded using seasoned bread crumbs - baked
  • Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express long grain and wild rice: nuked and thrown in a pan with red peppers, onion and garlic
  • Light caesar salad kit -- vinaigrette put in a separate little dish, dip fork in dressing before forking greens - gives you a taste of dressing with every bite, without drenching the entire salad with dressing

Baked salmon, sauteed spinach w/ red pepper and onions:

  • salmon is coated with seasoned bread crumbs, salt and pepper
  • onions and peppers and garlic sauteed, spinach wilted into mixture - balsamic vinaigrette poured into pan at last minute of cooking, salt and hot pepper flakes

A ‘healthier’ potato salad -- it’s not your typical mayonnaise-based potato salad - it’s much lighter and a whole lot healthier.  I made a vinaigrette using dijon mustard, red and apple cider vinegar, olive oil, green onion and dill.  Added grilled corn and refrigerated.



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