Friday, June 20, 2014

From Scratch Cooking for Busy People

If you have read any of my food posts you know that I stress cooking from scratch and not buying the boxed, processed food that most Americans readily ingest simply because they "don't have time to cook".  I certainly know what that feels like.  Yes, I'm a stay-a-home mom and you might think that I have more time than a mom who leaves home to work but you would be mistaken.  See I'm not just at home doing nothing.  I am also the teacher.  I have to research curriculum, plan lessons, teach lessons, grade papers, report grades, and all other teacher activities.  In addition to that, both of my boys play sports so I am chauffeur and co-team mom.  I am the wife of the football coach so I do whatever I can to help him.  Then I am the cook, the maid, part time nurse, bookkeeper, main shopper for household things, and I'm sure that I could come up with more if I had time.  So you see, I know busy and what I have found is that I don't have time to cook when I don't plan ahead.  But who has time to plan, you might say.  You have to make time to plan.  You make time for what's important to you.  And not eating processed, fast food is important to me.
So let's start with Sweet and Sour Chicken.  I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks and made a few changes to the original recipe because that's what I usually do.  But for the most part, this recipe was a good "from-scratch" recipe.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 green bell pepper, cubed
2 carrots, sliced thin
2 onions, cut in wedges
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce ( I use Bragg's Liquid Amino)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks in juice
3 cups cooked rice

Stir-fry chicken in olive oil coated wok until done.  Remove and stir-fry veggies about 2-3 min.  Add back the cooked chicken.  Mix cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Add to pan with pineapple and juice.  Stir until thickened.  Serve over rice.

This is how planning ahead can help.  You can cut up your chicken before you freeze it or you can buy the chicken tenders that are already cut small.  You can also buy the fresh frozen veggies and you have no chopping to do.  How is this healthy?  Well you are making the sauce from scratch and we all know that the secret is in the sauce (ha ha).  But seriously, there is no unpronounceable ingredients and if you use Bragg's Liquid Amino, your sodium content is cut by more than half.  Also using brown rice instead of white rice is a huge step in healthier eating.
So start planning ahead and eat better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar.....It does a body good

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).  Today I want to devote an entire post to this wonderful stuff.  It's been almost two years since hubs and I first tried ACV.  I remember it well.  We mixed two tsp. in a bottle of water with some stevia to sweeten it.  OH! MY! GOSH!  It was horrible!  Neither of us could get past the smell and that stevia did nothing to sweeten it.  But we were determined to press on and find a way to take this stuff.  I visited Bragg's website and found that they have fruit juice with ACV in it.  But before I ordered a lot of it, I wanted to try it to see if it tasted any better than what we had already tried.  So off I went to our local health food store; low and behold they had it.  I asked the owner had she ever tried the fruit juice with ACV and how did it taste.  "Yes I have tried it",she said.  " It tastes like fruit juice with vinegar in it."  As you can imagine, I was disappointed because vinegar is at best an acquired taste.  But then this wonderful lady told me that ACV can be purchased in capsule form.  Oh joy!
Now let me say this, if you can stomach the taste and get past the smell, the liquid stuff is the best form because it works faster and better.  But for those of you who are like me, a wimp, the capsule is a God send.
As I said in a previous post, we began taking this because of the benefits associated with BP and blood sugar, but there are so many other benefits.  Did you know it helps with heartburn, acne, and bug bites.  Bragg's has an entire book devoted to the benefits of ACV and I highly recommend that you get this book.
If you are interested here's a couple of websites that has more info on ACV and it's benefits.
If you are looking for a remedy other than medication, do yourself a favor and try ACV.  It is truly wonderful.

                                           This is the brand of capsules we take.
                                           Here's the liquid form if you are brave.  You can cook
                                            with this, too.
Please do visit Bragg's website because they have many wonderful products.

*This is not medical advice and should not be used in lieu of a doctor's guidance.
*I am not being compensated by Bragg's.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Grilled Chicken Fajitas with Pico de Gallo

I love Mexican food.  How about you?  This is one of our favorites and it can be made low carb.

Marinade boneless, skinless chicken breast in beer for 2-4 hours.  Discard beer marinade and season chicken with fajita seasonings*.  Grill off direct heat until done.  The combination of beer and off direct heat grilling keeps the chicken from drying out.  Also grill onions and bell pepper with fajita seasonings.
Slice chicken thin and layer in a burrito shell with grated cheese, onions, and peppers.  Broil in oven about 2 min. until cheese is melted.  Top with pico de gallo and serve with Mexican rice and refried beans.

* Fajita Seasonings
2 Tbsp. Chili powder
2 Tbsp. Cumin powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. oregano

Mix together well and store in container.  I double or triple this recipe so that I don't have to mix it often.

Pico de Gallo

4 tomatoes chopped
3-4 jalapenos chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 bunch cilantro chopped
juice of 4 limes
1 can of Rotel
Salt to taste

Mix all together and refrigerate until ready to use.

So how do you make this low carb?  Well, one way is to use high fiber/low carb burrito shells.

This is the brand I use and they taste great.  They are not the cheapest in fact I think I pay anywhere from $2.95- $4.00 per pack but it's worth it.
Total carbs are 14g. and total fiber is 9g.  So that means that each shell has 5g net carbs.  That is fantastic.
This same brand carries a regular burrito shell that has 35g of carbs and 1g of fiber which means that each shell has 34g of digestible carbs.  That is a lot of carbs for one shell.  If you are trying to watch your carbs, you would only be able to eat one shell.
For people who are diabetic, this is a great product.  I hope you'll give it a try.