Lemon Poppy Seed Chicken with Rice Noodles

Lemon Poppy Seed Chicken with Rice Noodles

 

4 oz chicken

¼ cup Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing, divided

2 oz linguine rice noodles

½ onion, chopped

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)

½ cup frozen peas

Seal chicken in small bag or container with 2 tbls lemon poppy seed dressing.  Marinade overnight. Cut into 1” pieces.

Soak rice noodles in very hot water for 30 minutes.  Do not over soak. Drain.

While noodles are soaking, put onion in saute pan with ¼ cup vegetable broth.  Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until soft and golden. As vegetable broth evaporates continue adding, ¼ cup at a time. Turn heat up to medium and add garlic.  Saute 30 seconds.

Add chicken, rice noodles and peas to pan and stir fry until chicken is cooked through, 7-10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

1 serving, 440 calories

 

Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad

Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad


1 tbls olive oil

⅓ lb Brussels Sprouts, thinly sliced

1 tbls Caesar dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbls Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Heat saute pan over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Add olive oil and Brussels sprouts. Cook, stirring occasionally for 7-9 minutes until lightly browned. Add dressing to warm sprouts and toss to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

1 serving, 365 calories



Garlic Chicken with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onion


Garlic Chicken with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onion


3 tbls butter

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

2 tbls minced garlic (6 cloves)

2 tbls soy sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

1 cup cubed boiled potatoes (1 medium-sized), hot

Mix garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar in small bowl. Set aside

Place butter, onion, and mushrooms in skillet over medium low heat. Cook until liquid from mushrooms is absorbed and vegetables are caramelized, about one hour. Stir occasionally.

Turn heat up to medium and add sauce. Bring to simmer and add chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened, 5-7 minutes.

Serve over fork mashed boiled potato.

2 servings, 530 calories per serving



What Are Nutraceuticals? – Putting the Function in Food

What was that? Nutra…what? Are they animals? Vegetables? Minerals? What ARE nutraceuticals? Funny you should ask…

How Do You Define Nutraceutical?

The guys at Merriam Webster Dictionary define nutraceutical as “a foodstuff that provides health benefits in addition to its basic nutritional value”. The term was actually invented (coined? Made up?) by Dr Stephen DeFelice in 1989 to describe “food, or parts of a food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease”.

Dr DeFelice believed that by extracting the parts of food that provide extra benefit beyond nutrition, it could help cure health problems as well, or perhaps even better than, traditional prescription medicine. He received the 2013 Marconi Science Award for his research into the use of the amino acid carnitine in patients suffering from Primary Carnitine Deficiency as well as it’s promising cardiovascular benefits and positive effects on patients in dialysis.

Dr DeFelice actually started his research into carnitine back in 1965 and has helped give a boost to the market of products we commonly call dietary supplements.

The Rise of Dietary Supplements

Humans have always been on a quest to improve their physical health and/or performance. Back in the B.C. days, warriors and athletes might opt to eat a deer liver or lion heart to promote bravery, speed or strength.

In the early 19th century the discovery that certain diseases could be linked directly to vitamin deficiencies, rather than toxins or infections as had been previously thought, was a huge breakthrough.

This research continued as a new understanding of how protein, fat and carbohydrate affects energy usage began to develop.

The first marketed supplements may have been protein powders used by athletes in the 1940’s to improve their muscle mass and energy levels. This industry has exploded since its inception and continues to be a major player in the supplement market.

In the 1960s and 70s, health food stores selling various supplements began to gain popularity due to the rise of the counterculture movement. Since then, dietary supplements have grown to be a 58 billion dollar industry. (Yes, billion. With a “B”).

Are Dietary Supplements Safe? Are They Effective?

The term nutraceutical has no regulatory definition but is being commonly used in marketing dietary supplements. In addition to this, the supplement industry itself has little to no government regulation.

What does this mean for you? It means that these companies are under no obligation to prove that their supplements contain what is listed on the label nor to disclose any other ingredients that may be included, whether these additional ingredients are hazardous or not. Supplements have been found to include very little (or none) of the active ingredient listed and often what is included is of very poor quality. A high percentage of products include animal DNA and/or dangerous chemical contamination.

It also means that the companies that manufacture these products can claim that their products have any benefits that they want as long as they include this disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”. Many inflate scientific findings by funding their own research and clinical trials. In some cases the claims made by the manufacturers have actually been refuted by the medical and scientific community.

Another problem lies with the consumers themselves. Because there is no need to obtain a prescription to use dietary supplements, a consumer is free to decide for themselves what product they want to use and in what dosage. And because there is no need to consult a doctor or pharmacist, because anyone can just stroll into and buy them from the clerk standing behind the counter (after getting her to look up from her phone, of course), people assume these products are innocuous. Nothing could be further from the truth. They can interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed medications, worsen existing conditions or build up in the body, causing toxicity.

Want more information? Check it out here. And here. And here. Be prepared to have your mind blown!

So What’s A Girl To Do?

 

Good news! You can get all the benefits from dietary supplements in the food you eat! (I mean, seriously, where do you think they got ‘em in the first place?)

A new term called “functional food” is beginning to make the rounds in many health conscious circles. It’s being used to describe some of the naturally-occurring chemicals, or components, in foods providing health benefits that go beyond nutrition benefits. For example, an orange is not only rich in vitamin A, D and B6, it also has PMFs to lower cholesterol, fiber to control blood sugar and keep you regular as well as antioxidants to boost the immune system.

For an extensive list of foods and their benefits click here.

Always Choose The Food

The next time you’re can’t sleep or have a belly ache, instead of reaching in the medicine cabinet, try a cup of chamomile tea. Feeling foggy? Have the salmon for lunch. And by golly, grab an apple if you’re having trouble in the bathroom.

Always choose the food.

 

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Crustless Vegetarian Quiche


Crustless Vegetarian Quiche

1 tbls olive oil

½ cup frozen chopped onion

2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)

½ cup frozen chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped frozen green bell pepper

6 frozen broccoli florets

¼ chopped sun-dried tomatoes

6 large eggs

2 tbls milk

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

⅓ cup parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 425͒.

In large saute pan on medium low heat, add heat oil. Add onion and garlic. Saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper, broccoli and sun-dried tomato and saute another 2 minutes. Spread vegetables in the bottom of a lightly greased 9” pie pan.

Wisk together eggs, milk, spices and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Pour egg mixture over vegetables in pie pan.

Cover pan loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 425͒. Turn heat back to 350͒ and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm.

6 servings, 121 calories per serving

Hack: Cut leftovers into serving size pieces. Place on cookie sheet and put in freezer until solid. Move to freezer bag or container and store in freezer for future use.



Homemade Ranch Dressing /Dip

Homemade Ranch Dressing /Dip Mix

3 Tbls dried parsley

1½ tsp black pepper

4½ tsp garlic powder

¾ tsp salt

4½ tsp onion powder

2 tbls dill weed

Combine all ingredients in tightly sealed container and shake to mix.

For dressing: Combine 1 tsp mix with ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup milk (or buttermilk), 3 tbls sour cream and 1 ½ tsp lemon juice. 4 servings, 85 calories per serving

In recipes: Substitute 1 tbls mix for 1 packet of ranch mix.



Spinach Feta Pizza For One

Spinach Feta Pizza For One


1 large whole wheat pita

¼ cup ricotta cheese

⅛ tsp garlic powder

⅓ cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed with excess liquid squeezed out

3-4 slices fresh tomato

2 tbls feta cheese

¼ tsp dried oregano


Heat oven to 400͒.

Place pita on baking sheet. Mix ricotta and garlic powder, spread over pita to edge. Top with spinach, tomato and feta. Sprinkle with oregano.

Bake until edges of pita are golden brown, about 12 minutes, Serve warm.

1 serving, 340 calories



Best Freezer Food Storage Containers

In previous articles, we’ve talked a lot about how to use your freezer to help make your (cooking) life a bit easier. Whether it’s making meals or storing food prep items, it’s all about having tools to get it done right and, surprisingly, the list is not as long as you might think! Here is my take on the top 5 items you’ll need to master the art of freezer storage.

                                  Gorse Aluminum Foil Pan & Lid Set

These containers make are great for grab ‘n’ go meals. The 5”x4”x1.7” size make them perfect for single serving entrees. They stack nicely in the freezer and can go directly from freezer to oven.

 

 

 

Pros 

Single serving size

Freezer to oven

Stackable

Economical

Use in air fryer for easy clean up

Cons

Lid is not leak proof

Cannot use in microwave

Crushes more easily than plastic containers

Freshware Meal Prep Containers

These meal prep containers are great for hot or cold foods. They stack easily in the fridge, lunchbox or picnic container. Measured at 7.5” x 4.9” x 1.9”, these little gems make it easy to pack up some single portions sizes in advance!

They are also available in 3 compartment and bowl designs.

Pros                                                                       

Single serving size

Freezer to microwave

Reusable

BPA, PVC, and Phthalate FREE

Dishwasher safe

Economical

Cons

Lid is not leak proof

Cannot use in oven

Lids tend to crack with repeated use

Lids can be difficult to attach / remove

Mr. Lid Half Cup Storage Containers

These are my new favorite thing! These high quality containers are meant to hold up for the long haul. They are BPA free, reusable and recyclable. The best part? The lids are attached so there’s no more searching for lids and containers that match!

They also are available in salad and sandwich sizes.

.

Pros                                                                  

Heavy duty/long-lasting

BPA free

Reusable

Recyclable

Dishwasher safe

Microwave safe

Leakproof

Cons

More expensive than disposable containers

Uses more space to store empty containers

Cannot be used in oven or on stove top

LocknLock Storage Containers

This classic features a hollow cylinder silicone and 4 side locking mechanism that locks in twice the sealing power to keep your items fresh. There are many sizes to choose from but this 16.5 cup tall boy is my favorite. It fits nicely in my freezer and keeps things organized. I use it to hold things like individual rolls, hamburger patties and other items that would otherwise “roam” around the freezer creating chaos!

 

Pros

Fits well in freezer

Leakproof

Airtight

Durable and long-lasting

Microwave safe

Dishwasher safe

Stackable

Close side to side fit

BPA free

Cons

Lid may be difficult to snap on and off

Cannot be used in oven or on stove top

 

Ziploc Freezer Bags

When freezer space is at a premium, these bags come to the rescue! The pint size is good for packaging serving sized portions of soups and stews, individual pieces of meat and single sandwich rolls. The gallon size is great for double bagging items to avoid freezer burn and help with the overall organization of your freezer. Although the slider bags have many uses, I only use the zipper bags for freezer storage.

 

Pros

Space saving

Zipper style are leak proof

Economical

Dioxin and BPA free

Recyclable

Cons

May melt or rupture in microwave

Slider bags may leak and break easily

You’ve Got This

So this is it. This is all you’re going to need to get that freezer organized and ready to start working for YOU! I hope you’ve got your orders in and are raring to go. I know I am.

Do you have any freezer storage tips that are working for you? Let me know in the comment section below!

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

Best Creamy Potato Salad

 

Best Creamy Potato Salad

 

1 cup cubed potato (one large russet weighing ⅓ pound)

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)

2 tbls spicy brown mustard

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp pepper

1 tbls pickle juice

1 cup chopped tomato (1 large, ½ lb)

6 petite dill pickles or cornichons, chopped

Boil potato cubes until tender but still holding together (5-6 minutes). Drain and add to bowl with eggs.

While the potatoes are cooking, mix sour cream, mayo, onion, garlic, mustard, paprika, pepper and pickle juice. Pour ½ of dressing over hot potatoes and egg. Toss to coat. Cover lightly and refrigerate until completely cool, 60 – 90 minutes.

Add tomatoes, pickles and the remainder of dressing. Toss to coat and serve.

4 servings, 253 calories per serving

Hack: Hard boiled eggs keep in the refrigerator for one week so consider making a few extra while you’ve got the water rolling! They make a great snack alone, pickled or in egg salad.

 

 

How To Eat Well On A Budget

Now that you’ve embarked on a whole foods diet, you may be noticing something. It’s costing more money than that processed diet you used to eat. Sure, the food tastes better, you feel better and I’ll bet that even your –ahem– body constitution is thanking you. But, honestly, there are only so many eggs, peanut butter and chicken thighs a person can eat. You feel like one financially bad month is all it would take to drive you back to the Dollar Menu at your local fast food joint. I feel your pain.

I’ve put together a few ideas to share with you. Give these a try and let me know how it goes!



A Few Ways to Save Money When Shopping

Weekly Grocery Store Fliers. How many times have you taken those weekly grocery store fliers from the mailbox and deposited them directly into the recycle bin? Because who has time for that, right? Well, I’ve got the scoop for you…all the best promotions are on the front page! Make a list of the best deals (or just rip off that front page) and make a visit to each store. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go to all the stores on the same day. These prices are usually good for a week, although some holiday weekend sales may only run for that weekend. Then you can stock up! Go ahead and buy that 5 lb family pack, separate it into serving size pieces and store it in the freezer!

Online Customer Loyalty Programs. I love, love, love my grocery stores’ online customer loyalty program! The signup was painless and all I have to do now is input my phone number when checking out. I get free grocery coupons online as well as a money back reward quarterly that I can apply to my next grocery bill. The coupons typically more substantial than you might find elsewhere, offering bigger discounts and even some free items. Make sure to take advantage of the maximum number of items allowed.

Get a rain check. The better the deal, the more likely it is that you’ll discover that the store has run out. If that happens, ask for a rain check. There is generally no expiration date on these so you’re free to use it weeks or even months from when it was issued.

Look For Markdowns. Many stores will mark down items that are nearing their expiration date.* This can be a great way to obtain more expensive gourmet items that you wouldn’t be able to justify at full price. Just be sure it use it right away or get it promptly in the freezer. Ask department employees what days or time of day they do the markdowns so you’ll know when they’ll have a wider selection.



Take Advantage of the Moment

Carpe Diem. It’s all about knowing how to seize the day, how to take advantage of the moment. It’s all about…holiday sales. Having worked in the supermarket industry, I know that they’re willing to sell a few items at a loss during holiday seasons to grab a bigger share of the increased customer traffic. Be prepared to take advantage of the deep discounts you can get at different times of the year. During the summer months, you’re going to get great prices on items that are typically barbecued such as ground beef, chicken and sausages. Saint Patrick’s Day is corned beef, Easter is lamb or ham, etc. While Christmas and Thanksgiving are good for scoring great deals on turkeys, Cornish hens and hams, also be on the lookout for other things that can be frozen for later use such as butter and premade pie crusts.

I know the turkey thing didn’t slip by you. I know it’s waaaaay too big for just one person. I know it’s hard to find room for it in the freezer, All I’m saying is that if you like turkey, go ahead and buy one. January is a slow month for a lot of us and it might help those winter blues to invite over a group of friends for a potluck. You’ll be the star when they see that you’ve prepared turkey! (“Yes, it was a lot of work. *Wipes brow* But you’re worth it!”)

Post Holiday Sales. Also be on the lookout for post holiday sales when stores are trying to clear items that didn’t sell. These can be fancy, high ticket items that probably won’t sell once the entertaining has slowed down, foods dressed in holiday wrapping, candied fruit and the like. I will add to this section a caveat: Make sure these items can be frozen or have a long shelf life so you have time to consume them before expire. If you see an item that looks good, a quick search on your cell phone should give you the answer you need!



Food pantries

This is a subject that is not widely discussed and I can’t imagine why. Food pantries are a fabulous resource, whether you use them on a regular basis or just for those “lean times” caused by things like unexpected car repairs or reduced work hours.

Many of us have visions of government issued cans of Mystery Meat, boxed mac and cheese, canned vegetables and stale bread. While these things may have been true in the past, a lot has changed. Yes, those items still tend to be a staple of food pantries, but more and more pantries are offering fresh or frozen whole foods as well. Remember those marked down items at the grocery store? They are pulled off the shelf one day prior to their expiration date* and often donated to food pantries where they can be frozen and distributed. Many local farmers now donate any overabundance of product from their farms. And some wonderful, generous local organizations and private citizens donate as well.

Foodpantries.org has an extensive list of available food pantries, categorized by state and town. Some require (to a varying degree) proof of income, expenses or residency while others don’t. Check the links on this site or give them a call to see what, if any, information is required.

As you go through the line, remember that you don’t have to accept everything that’s offered. If you’re trying to stick to a whole foods diet, then just accept the whole foods. If they’re offering whole foods that you dislike, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline those as well. Accepting things you don’t want or won’t use is actually depriving another from accepting those items for their own home.

You don’t have to stick with just one food pantry. I’m not advising that you hit every one you can find in the hopes of filling your freezer but just suggesting that different pantries have different donors and offer different things. While you’re looking for whole foods, another person who has limited cooking facilities or abilities may gravitate towards a place that has more processed choices. There’s enough for everyone and it will all just work out in the end.



Government Sponsored Programs

This also tends to be a touchy subject but I’m going to list it here because I think it’s a valuable service to those in need. Many people are embarrassed to inquire or apply for government assistance, much less use it in public. Others assume they won’t qualify simply by virtue of the fact that they are working, married, have a car or a place to live. But many of these fears, concerns and assumptions are unfounded.

Gone are the days of presenting your paper coupons books for payment at the register or standing in line at the welfare office. The application process can, in most cases, be completed online with no face to face meetings necessary. If approved you would receive a debit card in the mail which would be loaded each month with your benefit amount. While income and possession value is a factor in the acceptance process, other factors are also taken into account such as family size, disability and extenuating circumstances.

Another issue to consider is that there are a number of different programs out there and they all have different acceptance guidelines.

WIC is a program aimed at helping women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have children under the age of 5. Those who qualify receive targeted nutritional foods for their entire household.

SNAP provides financial assistance for families within specified income guidelines and/or with special circumstances. This financial assistance is specifically allowed to purchase food.

Meals On Wheels delivers meals to the homes of seniors who have limited mobility and meet certain income guidelines.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides financial assistance to seniors who meet certain guidelines. This assistant specifically allows them to purchase certain food products from local farmers.



We’re all in this together

I hope I’ve provided you with some information that will help to ease the financial burdens that some of us face when trying to eat healthier meals.

If you have any other tips or programs I might have missed, please let me know in the comments below. We’re all in this together!


*Please note that a products’ sell by, use by, best by or expiration date DOES NOT mean the product is no longer safe to consume after that. Click here for an explanation from The Institute of Food Technologists.

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com