Great Greens!

Did you know that you are supposed to eat 3 cups of green veggies every day?  (And no – iceberg lettuce does not count!)  Some people go nuts over salad, so this isn’t a problem for them.  If you’re like me, the thought of salad EVERY DAY gets old after a while.  I like to change it up a bit.  Here are a few tasty ways to prepare greens that I serve at my house, and you may just want to try.  For all of you knowledge junkies, click on each picture to learn about the nutritional value of each of these “Great Greens”!

Spinach                                                       

Grab a bag of fresh spinach and throw it in a saute pan on medium low heat with some butter, fresh minced garlic, and salt and pepper.  Use the whole bag (about 4 servings) because it will cook down considerably.  Saute, stirring frequently for about 4 to 5 min.  It tastes GREAT when you serve it up fresh – NOTHING like the canned stuff. Yuck!

Bok Choy

Chop a head of Bok choy and throw it in the saute pan with some butter or olive oil and salt and pepper as well.  Saute on medium heat for about 5 min.  This is a tasty green that not a lot of people think to use.

Swiss Chard or Green Chard

Chop the chard and add to saute pan with about a tbsp of olive oil.  Add shiitake mushrooms and fresh minced garlic, a touch of lemon pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  DO NOT SALT this green as it tastes salty enough with the olive oil – even for salt lovers!  You can also swap the Chard for Kale, which is very rich in nutrients.

These are a few of my ideas for easy ways to get your servings of greens in.  Now let’s hear from you.  What are the ways your family does greens?  Do you get creative, or is your family good with the basic green beans, etc.?

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Fail-Safe Spices

Like most people who enjoy cooking, I have always liked to play around with different flavor profiles, trying new tastes and experimenting with various spices.  However, I have a certain combination of spices that I always come back to that go with just about anything you can imagine.  I use them on meat, poultry, and fish; they go great in soups and stews; and they even work very well in olive oil for homemade salad dressing or dipping oil for crusty bread.  Most people have their fail-safe spices they always fall back on, here are mine.

 

Garlic Pepper

Garlic Salt

Lemon Pepper

Season All Seasoned Salt

Parsley

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

 

I would also like to point out while I am talking about spices that they do need to be replaced from time to time.  No, they are not made to last forever, and yes they do lose their flavor.  Your herbs should all be greenish in color; if they are brown, it is time to replace them.  They do not have to be thrown out as often as, let’s say, old cereal, but you should probably look at them about the same time you would your canned goods or perhaps medicines.

So these are my fail-safe spices.  I use them on everything.  They even taste great on grilled asparagus and in my tomato soup (which is in my posted recipes if you would like to have it).  But I think my all-time favorite is a juicy steak using these particular seasonings.

Potato Chips Are My Kryptonite

I think you should know before I write anything else that I have a weakness for potato chips.  The reason I exercise is so I can eat chips.  Yes, I am shamelessly one of those people.  Unfortunately, the older I get the more I have to exercise in order to eat smaller and smaller portions of chips.  At least the chips that we typically know as chips.  You know the ones: hydrogenated oils, artificial coloring, monosodium glutamate (whatever that is), and the list goes on.  BUT I have discovered a new way to make homemade chips in the microwave, and I’ve got to tell you – I am in love.  No hydrogenated oils – in fact, no oils at all!  No artificial coloring or flavoring of any kind.  No mystery ingredients of any kind.  How are these wonder chips made you might ask?  I will tell you, or rather, I will show you.  I’d like to give a special thanks to my friend Lani who clued me in to the Pampered Chef Microwave Chip Maker.

You can use potatoes (russet, red, or yellow), Sweet Potatoes or yams, apples, or yucca.  I tried the               russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apple.

 

Now, this would be an exhausting project if you tried to slice everything up by hand – unless you just LOVE to slice, and you are so adept you can generate slice after slice of 1mm-thick cuts. Otherwise I would suggest using a slicer.  I used my Simple Slicer (also by Pampered Chef) and was able to have everything sliced and ready to go in a matter of minutes.  (If you are starting to sense I am a Pampered Chef junkie, then you are right.  They have the best kitchen products – great quality, great functionality, and almost everything they sell comes with a warranty.)

 

 

 

 

After you get everything sliced, lay them out on a paper towel and season.  I used Season All Season Salt on some and regular salt on others.  You could use sea salt or low sodium salt to keep the sodium down if you prefer.  Then press with a paper towel to eliminate extra moisture.  Next lay them on the Microwave Chip Maker in a single layer.

 

 

 

 

Then you can stack the chip makers in the microwave to double up on batches.  The suggested cook times for all of these items are around 4 min, but every microwave is a little different so you will want to keep a close eye on them for your first couple of batches.  It took my chips about 6 min until they were light and crispy.

 

 

 

They were so tasty too; my family gobbled them all up – apple, russet potato, and sweet potato chips.  These are great for packing in school lunches or taking to work for an afternoon snack.  And best of all, I don’t have to exercise myself to death just to have my beloved chips!  I highly recommend the Pampered Chef Microwave Chip Maker and the Simple Slicer.  See my endorsed Pampered Chef link for more information and to get yours too; you will not be disappointed!

The Fried Egg Sandwich

When you hear the term “Comfort Food” what do you think of?  Sure there are certain types of foods that come to mind.  Foods that are universally satisfying.  But I mean what are some of the things that really speak to you; the things that are near to your heart for a specific reason.  When I think “Comfort Food” I think of fried egg sandwiches. Now if you have never tried one, you might consider a fried egg sandwich to be the weirdest thing you have ever heard of.  For me, they are heaven.  You see, I don’t merely think of the sandwich itself; I think of my mother.  I am thinking of all the times I heard my mom ask with her special smile, “Do you want a fried egg sandwich?”  They became a tradition between the two of us.  So many times we worked together in the kitchen in unspoken agreement to create our favorite breakfast.  I think of all those mornings when she loaded me up with an egg sandwich and a mug of hot cappuccino for my hour drive back to the university every Monday morning.  The combination of the salty, cheesy sandwich with the strong, sweet coffee was divine.  Then later when I would go to her house for a visit, she would ask on Saturday morning, “Do you want a fried egg sandwich?”  Always with her smile.  We would sit with our sandwiches and drink our coffee together, talking for as long as we could get away with before the household became alive.  Such a simple thing really, but the memories make all the difference.  And I cherish every one.  So many important moments happen over food.  Now you will find me with my children on some random Saturday morning, talking and laughing over fried egg sandwiches.  And I look forward to the time when I will see my mother again.  Do you think there will be coffee and egg sandwiches in heaven?  I do.

Fun For All Salad Bar

Family Salad Bar

 

If you are like me you are always trying to find ways to get the kids to eat their vegetables.  Sometimes I hide them in sauces and mixtures; at other times I try to make them fun so they want to eat food that is good for them.  This was a fun family salad bar we made to encourage them to pick out and add to their own salads however they wanted.  As you can see we had some nice greens accompanied by some color and tasty additions; like olives and mushrooms.  I could have gone all out and added croutons, boiled egg, cauliflower, colorful sweet peppers, etc.  You get the idea.  The trick is to put the things you absolutely want them to have in your base – in the greens.  Then give them a nice big bowl for them to fill on their own.  Everyone really enjoyed our salad bar; so much, in fact, that there was only enough left for me to have as a side salad for lunch the next day.

Crunchy Mixed Greens and Brussel Sprouts Salad

My base greens require a lot of chopping, which works fine for me because I enjoy slicing and dicing.  If chopping is not your thing, consider making one big salad and storing in an airtight container to eat on for the week.  Add fresh tomatoes and cheese to daily portions.

Combine mixed leafy lettuces (bag salad is fine), chopped fresh spinach, chopped fresh Brussel sprouts, chopped fresh basil and parsley, chopped green onion, chopped broccoli, shredded or chopped carrot.  Anything else that appeals to you.

Homemade Dijon Dressing

3 tbsp Plain Non Fat Yogurt

1 tbsp Miracle Whip or Mayo (Optional – use more Yogurt if you prefer to skip the Mayo)

2 tbsp sugar or Agave Nectar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp vinegar

Whisk all ingredients together.  This dressing has somewhat of a coleslaw dressing taste with a little kick to it.  It is meant to be lightly used; toss in salad to lightly coat.

The Healing Power of Food

I am usually a skeptic when it comes to eating regimens and diets.  The very idea of someone else telling me how I should eat, while they look down their noses at my greasy bacon cheeseburger, makes me balk.  This presentation, however, caught my attention.  After listening to this speaker, I have changed my whole way of thinking in regards to food.  One thing she said in particular struck home with me.  You see, I have a dear little grandma with Alzheimer’s disease.  This speaker was diagnosed with MS (Muscular Dystrophy).  Both of these diseases have something in common, and that is they both destroy the brain.  She went in search of a diet that would help heal her brain, thus healing her body.  This speech is amazing, and I encourage you to take the time to listen to it; it is somewhere around 15 to 20 minutes and worth every second of it, believe me.  I had my notepad and pen out in no time!

http://wimp.com/mindingmitochondria/

Special thanks to my friend Rita for sharing this with me!