Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Meal Planning.....oops!

Crazy busy week, with doctor & dentist appointments, and a couple of big work projects.  I'm at the end of my Sugar Smart Diet and I'm trying really hard not to fall back into bad habits.  Today I had my first sweetened chai tea at Starbucks, but now realize I can control how many pumps of syrup they use.  So I managed to get my favourite drink down to 2.5 tsps of added sugar, and only 100 calories!  I am impressed.  It tasted like heaven.

Next week I'm off to Toronto for my mom's surgery. That is going to be a real challenge.  Not sure how much I'll be able to cook....most likely will be eating out a lot.  I know of a good little Thai place near the hospital, and of course the old standby, Subway, in the basement.  Apparently there is also a new Starbucks within walking distance as well!   But for now, I'm being good.

Lunch - left over pizza with cucumber/tomato/feta salad
Dinner - left over Beautiful Fish Stew with a multi-grain roll

Lunch - turkey burger patty, roasted sweet potato, garlic steamed broccoli
Dinner - Mediterranean Mussel Pasta

Lunch - Mediterranean Mussel Pasta
Dinner - chicken breast, mashed potatoes, green beans

Lunch - turkey burger patty, roasted sweet potato, garlic steamed broccoli
Dinner - whole wheat pita pizza 

Lunch - whole wheat pita pizza 
Dinner - veggie frittata

Mediterranean Mussel Pasta

When I bought mussels at the market on the weekend, they came in 2 pound bags.  I learned from watching Michael Smith videos that you can keep them alive in your fridge for up to a week, but they need to be able to breathe.  You can't keep them wrapped in plastic, so it's best to keep them in an open container, covered with a damp cloth or newspaper.  So I kept a pound aside, and tonight I decided to add them to a pasta for a quick dinner.

Mediterranean Mussel Pasta

ChefMichaelSmith.com recipe & video

This dish is a marriage of my two favourite chefs:  Michael Smith's recipe (minus olives) & Jamie Oliver's products.  I got a sweet deal at Sobey's the other day - buy one JO pasta sauce and get a package of JO pasta for free.  I couldn't pass that up!

Being frugal, I also had the dregs of a can of diced tomatoes to throw into the sauce.  I chopped up a large clove of garlic, half of a red onion, and put these in some olive oil to fry for a few minutes.  I added the diced tomato juice and half of the bottle of tomato & chile pasta sauce and let it simmer.  Meanwhile, I added half the bag of pasta to some boiling, salted water.  I washed my remaining mussels, added them to the simmering sauce, and covered for about 7 minutes.

I took the time to remove the mussels from their shells, then added the pasta and a handful of grated parmesan cheese.  I loved this so much that I went back for seconds.  It is definitely going to become one of my favourite, quick, go-to meals.  The sauce has a nice kick to it from the chile.  The mussels are such a tasty addition.  I am so excited to have left overs for lunch tomorrow!  Thanks, Jamie & Michael.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beautiful Fish Stew

Phase 4 is here, which means sugar!  But in limited amounts.  LOL.  I treated myself to a Nepalese breakfast this morning at the market, including sweetened tea.  So freaking good. And tonight I'm making pizzas for some of the kids, which is another treat I haven't had in a month.  So for lunch, I thought I should cook myself something high in protein, and without sugar or bread.

410. Aegean Kakavia (Beautiful Fish Stew) (Jamie Oliver's Escapes, page 252)

JamieOliver.com recipe

I already had some frozen salmon & cod filets, but picked up some fresh PEI mussels at the market this morning.  The fish monger there told me I should check out www.discovermussels.com, for recipes and other interesting facts.  I discovered that Michael Smith did a couple of episodes of his online Food Country series about PEI mussels!

Mussel Seeding

Mussels 101

I also got an email the other day advising me that Jamie had uploaded a new video.  I cracked up when I opened it, because it's all about fish stew...with mussels.  It's worth a watch (or two). 

The Fish Stew Rap

So, while this recipe doesn't ask for mussels, I had to include them anyways.  They do make any broth taste about 100x better.  I started out by chopping up onion, celery, garlic, potatoes & tomatoes.  I put the onion & celery into a bit of olive oil to soften for a few minutes, then added garlic, then the potatoes & tomatoes, and finally some organic vegetable broth.  I let this simmer for a bit before adding my salmon & cod filets, and lastly, my mussels.  I put a lid on and let it cook until the fish & potatoes were done.

My version is nowhere near as authentically Greek as Jamie's.  I watched the episode of Jamie Does where he makes this dish in an old pot on a fishing boat, using sea water as his seasoning.  Wow.  I don't know why I don't cook from this book more often.  There is some great stuff in here!  And the pictures of the different countries are to die for.  One of these days, I'm going to visit all of them.

To finish, I seasoned with salt & pepper, added the juice of a lemon, and some fresh, chopped cilantro (in place of parsley & dill).  I did not dip any bread this time around, but I am sure I will do so with my left overs another day.  This stew is just delicious.  I ate two large bowls for lunch.  It's so easy to throw together and so healthy!  Just the thing for this cold, grey, windy day that feels more like winter than summer.

This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up on She Eats!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Meatballs Alla Norma and a World Record!

I went to Loblaws last week for a change of pace.  I like their kitchen area, and sometimes their "Joe" line of clothes as well.  I figured if the prices were ok, I'd buy a few groceries.  While I was standing at the meat deli, I was informed that the cutting of the parmesan would be happening at the front of the store in 5 minutes.  What?  I wandered over to check it out.

Apparently, all Loblaws stores across Canada were doing this in tandem, hoping to break the Guinness World Record for simultaneously splitting blocks of Parmigiano Regianno.  There was a countdown and photographers and the best part, free tasting!  And they put all cheese cut from these blocks on sale for half price.  People were loading up on the stuff.  I bought a large wedge for only $10.
I decided to try a recipe involving polenta, which is another grain substitute I'm allowed to eat.  It's high in fibre but not as high in calories as mashed potatoes, which have a simlar texture.  Jamie calls it the mashed potatoes of Italy.  However, the organic cornmeal I bought at the market did not have instructions on the package, so I googled and came up with this link:  Proper Polenta from Oliver's Twist. 
409. Meatballs Alla Norma (Save With Jamie, page 142)

Sobey's recipe

First of all, who's Norma?  LOL  Everyone asks that.  Apparently, "Norma" is a Sicilian-inspired sauce made with aubergine (aka eggplant) and tomato.  I have to say that I have never much enjoyed eggplant.  I've tried eating it different ways, but it's still not one of my favourite veggies.  However, I'm always up for new variations on old favourites.

I diced and generously salted my eggplant, to draw out the moisture.  While this was happening, I combined ground beef with chopped parsley and formed it into little meatballs.  I rolled these in fennel seeds and put them in the fridge to set.

The hardest part of this recipe was to squeeze the excess water out of the eggplant.  Jamie says to use your bare hands, but I found it easier to put little piles of eggplant into a clean tea towel and twist until the water starts dripping out.  By the end, my hands were quite sore.  I was glad when it was over, but I do appreciate the result - a thicker sauce.  I sauteed my eggplant in some olive oil for about 10 minutes, until golden, then added half a tin of diced tomatoes, some crushed garlic, a couple of tablespoons of sweet chili sauce and balsamic vinegar, and a splash of water.  I let this simmer while I got started on my polenta and meatballs.

I followed Jamie's advice, combining the polenta with boiling water and whisking vigorously, until the point where it told me to add two sticks of butter. I googled again, found this butter converter and recoiled in shock at the idea of adding half a pound of butter! In your dreams, Jamie.  I added maybe 3 tablespoons of butter, a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan, and seasoned with salt & pepper.  In the meantime, I browned my meatballs in a frying pan with a bit of oil, then added them to the sauce.

I dished this up to look like the example in the cookbook, but was quite skeptical that I would want this much polenta.  I got about halfway through and realized that I, in fact, wanted MORE polenta.  I finished the plate and went back for seconds, before I realized that my stomach was telling me I had to stop or I was going to overload.  It was so good!  It's been a while since I ate with such abandon that I ignored the "I'm full" messages my stomach was trying to send.
The best part of this dish, hands down, was the polenta.  The sauce was nice, the eggplant didn't offend, and the fennel seeds on the meatballs worked very well.  I saved the majority of the meatballs for my son, however, knowing that I would not want to eat red meat twice in one week.  I plan to eat my leftover Norma sauce and polenta with shrimp!  I served his meatballs with spaghetti, tomato sauce with garlic & oregano, and freshly grated parmesan (of course).
This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up on She Eats!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Phase 3 Meal Planning Monday

I've been enjoying whole wheat bread & buns the last couple of days.  It's amazing how we rely on it, in almost every meal if we're not thinking about it.  I need to not let myself slip back into old ways and fall back on old habits, so I'm consciously trying to plan meals with other sources of carbs and fibre instead.  Did you know that, generally, you get an additional teaspoon of sugar for every bread product you eat? 

Lunch - Fish filet on a whole wheat bun w lettuce, cheese, tomato & mayo
Dinner - Meatballs alla Norma

Lunch - turkey/havarti roll up with veggies & hummus
Dinner - left over Hungover Noodles with a fried egg

Lunch - left over Norma sauce/polenta with sauteed shrimp
Dinner - Jamie's Sag Aloo

Lunch -  left over Sag Aloo
Dinner - PC Jammin' Jamaican Lobster Bisque with toast

Lunch - turkey/havarti roll up with edamame
Dinner - Aegean Kakavia (Beautiful Fish Stew)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hungover Noodles

I deviated from the sugar diet one day this week.  It wasn't too bad - I didn't drink a 47g of sugar latte or anything - but I didn't make it all the way through my day in Toronto on plan, either.  I started out strong, with a non-fat tea plus a teaspoon of honey in Woodstock.  I packed myself a rolled up Mexican-filled omelet for lunch, and some fruit to snack on.  I resisted the allure of Tim Horton's donuts all around me at lunch, and instead opted for a bowl of potato/bacon soup.  Dinner was my downfall.
We ended up at an Asian Bistro.  Sushi, sushi, sushi.  I ordered a salmon teriyaki bento box, figuring it would be high in protein.  It came with 6 maki rolls, a mini spring roll, a couple of fried dumplings, and a mango salad.  I was surprised at how intensely sweet everything tasted.  Sugar in the teriyaki sauce, and definitely in the mango salad dressing.  I resisted the plum sauce on the side.  I savoured the white rice in the sushi and the deep fried goodness in everything else.  What a treat! 
I was determined to be good this weekend to make up for it.  But OMG the pull of sugar is strong.  I have been fighting crazy cravings the last two days.  Yesterday, at Starbucks, I got my unsweetened chai, but after a few minutes of sipping it and not being satisfied, I went back and asked for a packet of honey.  I'd already had my one sweet treat for the day, but I didn't care.  The barista said "sorry, we're all out of honey".  I think the universe was trying to tell me something.
I went home and decided to make this next dish for dinner.  Jamie describes it as a good dish to make when you're feeling down (or hungover).  Heh, alrighty then.
408.  Hungover Noodles (Save With Jamie, page 32)

This is pretty similar to a dinner I threw together on the fly last week, to be honest.  Shredded cabbage, broccoli florets, soba noodles, peas, all boiled together briefly and drained.  An Asian dressing made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic & ginger.  Toss the cooked noodles & veggies in the dressing, top with a fried egg, drizzle with chili sauce and dinner is served!
I had two bowls of this yummy goodness (but only one egg).  I didn't even eat the amount Jamie designates for one portion, but I was completely stuffed.  This is the second meal I've made with the head of cabbage I bought last weekend, and I still have enough for another dish.  Talk about economical!  Unfortunately, I had a wicked sugar craving going on when I was finished, despite being full, so I wolfed down a small ataulfo mango for dessert.  They don't call them "honey" mangoes for nothing!  Totally did the trick.
This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up on She Eats!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mexican-Filled Omelet

My kitchen was a disaster after work, so I found myself washing dishes before I could even begin to think about dinner.  I was determined to get this one in, though. There's a bit of prep involved (mostly slicing and dicing) but it's well worth it.  You could make it quicker by using a food processor with a slicing blade attached, if you wanted to.

407.  Mexican-Filled Omelet (Save With Jamie, page 26)

Cityline.ca recipe & video

This looked like a nice, light dinner, and I love a good slaw.  So I started by thinly slicing some cabbage, red onion and a bit of red chile, and grating a carrot.  Then, I washed up some cilantro and added the leaves to the salad bowl.  The stalks went into a container for my dressing.  I also added a small avocado, a heaping tablespoon of non-fat Greek yogurt, the juice of a lemon, and a swig of EVOO.  I blended everything up with a hand blender and seasoned the dressing with salt & pepper.  I poured the dressing over the slaw and combined until well coated.

Next up, the omelets.  I had made half the amount of slaw, so I only used 4 eggs.  I lightly beat them with a fork, seasoned with salt & pepper, and added a bit of water. I was a little nervous about making such a thin omelet.  However, I recently bought an expensive, non-stick frying pan on clearance, and I hoped that it would make the difference.  I preheated the pan and added a tiny amount of oil.

What a difference!  I swirled the beaten egg around and let it set, then topped it with a grating of Havarti cheese.  It slid right out of the pan, easy as pie.

I loaded it up with some delicious coleslaw, and then folded it up like a wrap.  Between the fresh veggies & the sun streaming in the window, it almost felt like spring.  Almost.

Jamie would probably say that the egg had too much colour.  I'd rather it had some colour and wasn't falling apart, so I'll take it.  I had so much coleslaw, and it was so tasty, I decided to add more on the side.  I was amazed at how filling this meal was, considering it contained no starches whatsoever.  The book lists this meal as 355 calories per portion.  And did I mention the slaw?  So creamy and flavourful!
This post has been shared at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up on She Eats!