Chana Saag

Chana Saag – Undoubtedly the easiest and cheapest Indian dish I’ve ever made. You throw $9-worth of ingredients into a Crockpot and let it simmer into luscious curry heaven, or put in about 5 more minutes of hands-on time and make the dish on your stove in about 30 minutes. Easy, peasy, lemon…err, curry… you get the picture.

Chana Saag - nevernothungry.com

Why Chana Saag? Let me count the ways I love thee:

- Freezer meals: This recipe portions out to about 6 whopping bowls, which can easily be divvied up into separate Tupperware’s and frozen for up to 4 months. (*I suggest making a big batch of brown rice to freeze alongside for a balanced meal, ready to be nuked and served in minutes.)

- There are 9 ingredients. And you probably have 3 in your kitchen right now.

- It’s the least intimidating Indian dish ever, said me. So much so, I wish I hadn’t told you it was Indian. Now you’re going to be all “Do I havvveee to buy curry?” and I’m going to be all “No, but it’ll probably improve the flavor of the dish, and your life for that matter, and you should grow up and stop being scared of curry.”

Do yourself a favor and make some chana saag. You’ll be happy you did in 3 months when you’re 10 minutes late for work and need a quick, delicious, healthy meal in seconds. It’s silky smooth, exotic deliciousness y’all!

Chana Saag

Makes 6 (approximate 1-cup) Servings

- 1 tablespoon olive oil -  one quart extra virgin olive oil runs about $6 at most grocery stores and will last you a long time

- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped -  about $1/bulb

- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced -  about $1

- One 8-ounce can diced tomatoes -  about $1.50

- 1 pound frozen spinach -  about $2

- One 15-ounce can garbanzo (chickpeas) beans, drained and rinsed -  about $2

- 3/4 of one 14-fluid ounce can light (or regular) coconut milk -  about $2.50

- Curry powder -  an average 13g costs about $3-4 and will last you for years

- Turmeric -  an average 13g costs about $3-4 and will last you for years

- Brown rice, for serving, optional

Approximate cost: $9, which makes 6 servings at $1.50 each

Approximate cooking time: CROCKPOT: 10 minutes hands-on time, 4 hours 10 minutes total. STOVETOP: 15 minutes hands-on time, 35 minutes total.

*See after the instructions for step-by-step photos.*

Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the chopped garlic and diced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.

CROCKPOT METHOD:

Add the softened garlic and onion mixture, the tomatoes, spinach, beans, and 3/4 of the canned coconut milk to the Crockpot. Add a generous dash of curry and turmeric and stir all the ingredients together. Cook on low for about 4 hours until the mixture is lightly simmering and the spices are fragrant. *Do not cook on high at any point or the coconut milk will curdle.*

STOVETOP METHOD:

Transfer the softened garlic and onion mixture to a medium-size soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the tomatoes, spinach, beans, 3/4 of the canned coconut milk, and a generous dash of curry and turmeric. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes until the spinach begins to defrost and the dish takes on a soup-like texture. Let the mixture simmer, begin careful not to let boil, for about 20 minutes until the dish is soup-like and the spices are fragrant.

Serve over a bowl of brown rice for a balanced meal.

*Disclaimer: I’ve been receiving some feedback lately on the quality of my blog and the photos. This is a very amateur blog: the recipes are tested in my little college appartment kitchen, served up on $2 clearance Target bowls, and photographed on my iPhone. Maybe one day I’ll have a real camera to shoot from, but for now, the purpose of this blog is to deliver healthy, easy, and cheap recipes that work every time. Chana Saag is no exception. While the photos may be below subpar, the recipe is not. I assure you, your dish will look infinitely more appealing in real life, as well as smell and taste great.*

onions beforeonions after

 add ingredients

stir

done

bowlw ith spoon

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

The Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream You’ll Ever Eat

I could sit here apologizing endlessly for my five month absence, or we could talk about important things, like dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream that tastes like cream and sugar and all the bad stuff……

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Oh good, you chose the latter. And don’t worry, I haven’t gone off the deep end and glorified some trending Pinterest recipe as my own. This is not, NOT I repeat, about blending a frozen banana and calling it dessert. This is so much more than that. Because let’s be real, how many people have blenders that can actually pulverize a frozen banana into a smooth cream? (Answer: not mine.) This recipe is pulverized banana, plus some. It’s undeniably an ice cream substitute, but a creamy, luscious substitute with an almost-matched smooth texture. And yes, your $20 knock-off Magic Bullet can actually make it.

Say hello to the magic ingredient, my new love, your new life changer: Almond Milk. Why almond milk? It’s lactose-free, healthier than soy, low-calorie and low-fat, relatively cheap, keeps longer than cow milk, makes this recipe vegan, helps with blending, has a neutral taste and makes dessert creamy and delicious. Shall I continue? Almond milk is the bomb diggity. Period.

Here it is folks: the easiest, healthiest, dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream you can actually make in your crappy blender, and it tastes delicious. The banana and almond milk serve as the base. Once you’ve blended these two to a creamy, clump-free consistency, you have a blank slate for creating whatever flavor ice cream you like. I’m partial to a tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of dark chocolate chips blended in mine. Vanilla extract makes it simple and delicious. Agave syrup goes a long way. Coconut flakes, walnuts and chocolate chips work too. Crumbled candy and cookies make it decadent. It’s a blender full of healthy ice cream, add whatever the heck you want and feel good about it!

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The Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream You’ll Ever Have

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 ripe banana, fully frozen (peels removed pre-freezing) -  .20¢
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond milk -  $2.50 – $4.50 per quart (I prefer the brand SoDelicious Unsweetened Almond+ 5g Protein)
  • Salt
  • Optional mix-ins:
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Agave Syrup
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Walnuts, or other types of nuts
  • Cookies
  • Candy

Approximate Cost: .70¢ for the base

Total Time: 20 minutes

Cut the frozen banana into slices. The smaller the slices, the easier it is to blend. Add the banana slices and 1/4 cup almond milk to a blender. Blend until the mixture reaches a smooth, clump-free consistency, adding more almond milk as needed. You may have to redistribute the mixture with a spoon between blending cycles. Do not add too much almond milk or the consistency will become too smoothie-like.

Add a pinch of salt (trust me on this one) and whatever mix-ins of your choosing. Blend until the mix-ins are well distributed. Pour the “ice cream” into a bowl and let chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Rejoice in guilt-free, creaminess….try not to make a quadruple batch and convince yourself its ‘for later’.

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Chinese Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

The first time I discovered the lettuce-wrap trend, I had a total OMG moment. It was also my first time eating at PF Chang’s, which is an experience in and of itself. I ordered an appetizer of peanut chicken wrapped in lettuce and I thought, ‘ohmygahd, why didn’t I think of this?!’ It’s friggen brilliant, these lettuce wraps, or cups: a calorie-free vehicle for your food that enhances the freshness. Plus you get a serving of veggies. Also, I’m not a huge fan of wraps and tortillas. They’re so bulky and distract from the goodness stuffed inside. Lettuce wraps are the solution, people! (and so are burrito bowls!)

This recipe was not actually inspired by my OMG-PF Chang’s moment, but actually by an Earth Fare coupon for salmon. If y’all (and I’m speaking to you Carolinians here) haven’t heard of Earth Fare, you need to check it out. We’ve got one right over the bridge in West Ashley. (And a few other places.) They send out awesome coupons once or twice a week, so sign up for their email list! I got this wild-caught salmon for $6/pound.

Fresh salmon isn’t always affordable for a college student. Frozen salmon isn’t as pretty and bright (loook!), but, it’s a fine substitute. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s frozen fish because they come packaged in all different weights so you can get just the right portions.

If you’re afraid to invest in some of the condiments for this recipe, fear not. All of these condiments are great staples to have around, especially if you like cooking Asian food.

Rice Wine Vinegar can be used in my awesome ramen recipe, or add a tablespoon to cooked rice for a sushi rice taste.

Sriracha….if you don’t know, now you know (also uses sriracha: a, b)

Soy sauce  Who doesn’t own soy sauce? You should. It’s lovely and salty and makes everything better. (also uses soy: a, b, c, d)

Honey  also uses honey: a, b, c ….or um, you could just eat it stirred into yogurt or on an apple

Chinese Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

Makes 2 servings (4 lettuce cups)

  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon, or frozen and fully thawed -  $6-12/pound fresh; $5-8/pound frozen
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped –  less than $1 for a bulb
  • 1 teaspoon honey -  about $2.50 for a 12-ounce jar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce – about $3 for a 10-fluid ounce bottle
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or red chili flakes – about $3 for a bottle that will last a long time
  • Juice from 1/4 fresh lime – about .70¢ for 1 lime
  • 1 cucumber – about $1.50
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar -  about $3 for a 10-fluid ounce bottle
  • 1 head firm, cup-like lettuce, such as Romaine, Iceberg, or Boston -  about $2.50 per head

Approximate Cost: $13, which makes 2 servings at $6.50 each

Approximate Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the salmon in the center of a large sheet of foil. Sprinkle the salmon with the garlic, honey, soy sauce, Sriracha, and lime juice. Fold the foil over the salmon to form a pouch.

Place the foil pouch in the oven and bake until the salmon is cooked all the way through, 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the quick-pickled cucumbers. Cut the ends off the cucumber, then cut the cucumber in half length-wise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds from the cucumber.

Not the easiest photo to capture without the help of a third limb, but hey, look at me actually having painted nails!

Not the easiest photo to capture without the help of a third arm, but hey, look at me actually having painted nails!

Cut the hollowed-out cucumber halves into small half-moons. Place the cucumbers in a bowl and mix with the rice vinegar. Snack on a few. They’re healthy and delicious. Be careful not to tip over the bowl, soaking the contents of your fridge in rice vinegar….oh wait, that only happens to me. Refrigerate the cucumbers until ready to prepare the wraps.

Get yourself some purdy lettuce, like this:

And place a few leaves on a plate. These are your ‘wraps’.

Add some salmon and cucumbers, wrap, and enjoy.

And while you’re enjoying these super healthful wraps, have yourself a listen to my new song obsession: William Fitzsimmons – So This Is Goodbye (Pink Ganter)

Want more? Check out two articles I wrote for The Jew & The Carrot:

Easy roast chicken. A whole meal in one pan: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/164378/shabbat-meals-perfect-roasted-chicken/

Two vegetarian dishes that take 15 minutes or less. Kitchen Sink Shakshuka and Warm Garlic, Spinach, and White Bean Hummus: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/164821/culinary-dreams-of-israel-interrupted/

I’M BACK…with Oil-Free, Fat-Free Pesto

I’m back! I’m sorry I was gone for so long, but I made you some oil-free, fat-free pesto. I know pesto doesn’t make up for a 5 month hiatus, but I was really busy. First there was my amazinglifechangingbestsummerever in New York City, interning at Food Network. Then I had to move into this ridiculously beautiful apartment in Charleston with my best friend. And then I started another AMAZING internship with Leite’s Culinaria (check them out, you’ll like it) The important thing is I’m back now, with pesto.

Oil-Free, Fat-Free Pesto

(This recipe was inspired by eatliverun.com’s oil-free pesto)

This stuff is amazing. Traditional pesto is too, but it packs on about 80-100 calories per tablespoon (1 tablespoon, people!). I don’t know how many calories my pesto has (because I’m not a nutritional analyst- weird!) BUT it’s definitely less than 80 calories per tablespoon and it’s fat-free. How is that you might ask? I thought you’d never ask…

Miso creative, right?

White miso paste! Trying so, so hard to resist more miso puns….White miso paste takes the place of olive oil in this nontraditional pesto, making it essentially fat-free, with only 20 calories and 1 gram fat per tablespoon. Now before you go ixnaying this recipe because it uses an ingredient you probably a.) don’t have in the fridge and b.) maybe haven’t heard of, let me convince you on why white miso paste is a worth the investment:

White miso paste is very mild. You can use a teaspoon of miso in salad dressing for a subtle Asian flavor. You can add miso to a marinade. Slather it on fish, chicken, steak, mushrooms, whateva. It’ll be good. Promise. And most obvious of all, make miso soup! Just add a few tablespoons of paste to boiling water and voila, Hibachi at home! Sprinkle in some 99¢ Trader Joe’s seaweed snacks and you’ve got some legit Japanese soup.

Oh, you actually wanted a recipe and not just a long-winded tutorial on miso paste. Right then, PESTO….this stuff is potent. So even though this recipe does not yield a whole lot, all you need is about 1 tablespoon to mix into some warm whole-wheat pasta, or smeared on top of a chicken breast, or even less if spreading directly onto bread for a sandwich. And if you really love it — which you will — you can easily double the recipe and keep it in the fridge, in a sealed container for up to 4 days.

Makes a bit more than 1/2 cup

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves -  about $2 for 2.5 ounces (you only need 1.25 ounces)
  • A little over 1/16 cup (wholewheat or panko) breadcrumbs -  about $2 for a 15 ounce container
  • 1/8 cup water, more or less depending on desired consistency
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste -  $5 to $6 for an 8 ounce container (lasts 1 year refrigerated)
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese -  about $4 for 8 ounces (splurge on the real stuff, it’s worth it)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced -  about $1 for a bulb
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 teaspoon) -  about 50¢ for 1 lemon
  • Dash salt and pepper

Approximate Cost: $2.50 / Approximate Time: 5 minutes prep time

Clockwise from the top: breadcrumbs; white miso paste; Parmesan cheese; fresh basil; garlic clove; lemon wedge

Mince the garlic. Put the basil, breadcrumbs, miso paste, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and dash of salt and pepper in a blender. Add about 1/16 cup water. Pulse until blended, about 30 seconds. Add more water to thin out. **You may need to use a rubber spatula or spoon to push ingredients to the bottom of the blender, between pulsing.

I used this knock-off Magic Bullet blender and after lots of blending, removing the top, pushing the ingredients down with a rubber spatula, putting the top back on, pulsing, REPEAT, I got this awesome stuff…

Gettin all up close and intimate with my pesto

Then I smothered a chicken breast in this heavenly stuff, wrapped it in foil and grilled it on my handy dandy George Foreman. I served it on a bed of roasted tomatoes, leeks, onions and garlic. But that’s another blog post, for another day. Be easy on me, I’m just getting back into the bloggin swing!

Grilled Pesto Chicken

Happy Sunday!

The Healthiest Soup Ever

Seriously, this is the healthiest soup you will ever eat. Just try and prove me wrong…..

A sprig of fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for delicious Spring flavors

A sprig of fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for delicious Spring flavors

This soup has a whole lot of ingredients, and guess what? None of them matter! Too often young/inexperienced chefs are scared off by recipes with long elaborate lists. Don’t be! You can always subtract and add whatever ingredients sound good. In this recipe, specifically, you can use any combination of vegetables that sound good to you. I used a few of my favorites, and added more of the chard and spinach for extra health benefits. Did you know one serving of rainbow chard provides 110% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A? I didn’t either!

Rainbow Chard- Doesn't it just scream HEALTH

Rainbow Chard- Doesn't it just scream HEALTH

I cooked the brown rice separately and stored it separate from the soup. I added 1/2 cup brown rice every time I had a bowl of soup. 1/2 cup brown rice = one serving grain. You should be eating 6 servings of grains/carbs per day…that’s 6 bowls of soup with 1/2 cup brown rice in each. Woohoo, eat up!

$$Money Saving Tips for this recipe: FROZEN VEGETABLES! I purchased half the vegetables in this recipe fresh and half frozen. Frozen vegetables are way cheaper, but don’t offer the same fresh taste or nutrition.

The Healthiest Soup Ever

Makes 6 Servings

  • 1 cup brown rice, dry (makes 3 cups cooked) -  about $2 for instant, frozen rice or about $3-4 for 2 pounds dry (I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s 15-minute Organic Brown Basmati Rice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil -  one quart extra virgin olive oil runs about $5 at most grocery stores and will last you a long time
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup) -  about $1
  • 4 large garlic cloves, diced -  I like to buy pre-peeled cloves to make life easier, about $1.50 for one bulb
  • 1 trimmed leek, chopped (about 1/2 cup) -  about $3 for a 1 pound frozen bag or about $1 fresh for one fresh stalk
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced in half -  about $2.50
  • 1 large head of rainbow chard, chopped (about 2 cups) – about $3
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped -  about $2 for a 1 pound bag
  • 1/2 cup peas -  about $2 for 1 pound bag frozen
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted -  about $2
  • 1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed – about $1.50
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock  – about $2 per container (you’ll need 2)

Optional Garnishes (I highly, highly recommend trying all three of these. Such an amazing flavor combo!)

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges -  about $1
  • Fresh mint, removed from the stem -  about $2 for a large bunch/ 1 ounce
  • Grated Parmesan cheese -  Approximately $4 for 8 ounces (Splurge on the real stuff, it’s worth it!)

Approximate Cost: $18, which makes 6 servings at $3 each

Approximate cooking time: Crock-Pot: about 2 hours / Stove-top: about 35 minutes

Cook the brown rice based on directions on the product. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat on the stove-top. Add onion, garlic and leek to skillet. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until leeks and onions are soft and slightly mushy, stirring occasionally.

Cook onions, garlic, and leeks in olive oil over medium heat until softened

Cook onions, garlic, and leeks in olive oil over medium heat until softened

If using a Crock-pot: Add onion, garlic, leek mixture to crock pot. Add snow peas, rainbow chard, carrots, peas, spinach, cannellini beans and chicken stock to Crock-pot and cook on low for 3 hours or high for 1.5 hours.

If cooking over a stove-top: Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add rainbow chard and carrots and simmer for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the already cooked onion, garlic, leek mixture. Add snow peas, peas, spinach, cannellini beans and remaining 3.5 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add 1/2 cup cooked brown rice to desired serving of soup. Mix in some lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and serve with a sprig of fresh mint. Enjoy the deliciousness!

What I’m listening to right now. Can’t.get.enough.

What I ate last night for dinner: a bangin’ low-fat shrimp dish Chantal made me :)

3-Minute Gooey Chocolate Banana Dessert

3-Minute Gooey Chocolate Banana Dessert

This is my first dessert post! As much as I’d like to think I have a mild-mannered sweet tooth, truth be told, I have a secret obsession with this recipe, and this one, and this one.

This is one of those recipes I never actually plan to make, it just kind of happens. Usually after making myself a delicious dinner of something like, say, chicken piccata I find myself craving a “real” dessert. And if you’re like me and usually have a rotten banana on the counter, some butter and chocolate chips in the freezer, and some honey in the pantry, you are good to go on this deeelicious dessert.

How this dessert is healthy: While this dessert does taste spectacular served over vanilla ice cream, non-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt is a wonderful substitute. When the warm banana melts the yogurt, it will become creamy and be just as delicious as ice cream but more satisfying with no guilt. One serving of yogurt is 2/3 cup or 6 ounces, which you’ll be surprised to see is quite a lot. If you choose to share your serving with someone lucky, you’ll both be eating 1/2 serving of protein. If you use a normal sized banana (nothing massive….that could elicit some questionable jokes anyway) then you will be eating 2 servings of fruit (3 is the recommend daily intake.) The chocolate is an optional add-on. For me, chocolate is always a necessity. I opt for dark chocolate; the darker the healthier.

Makes 1 Serving

  • 1 teaspoon butter -  about $2 for a pound of butter (keep it in the freezer for prolonged use)
  • 1 banana (ripe or rotten is fine) -  about .30 cents
  • 1 teaspoon honey -  about $2.50 for a 12 once jar
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips -  about $3 for a 12 ounce/ 1 1.2 cup bag
  • 2/3 cup non-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt -  about $2 for a single serving container (buying larger containers saves $)

Approximate cost: $3

Approximate cooking time: 3 minutes

DISCLAIMER: This recipe photographed horrendously. The ooey gooey deliciousness came out more, well, pooey ewwy. I promise yours will look much better in real life.

Place a small skillet over medium high heat. When burner begins to heat up, add 1 teaspoon butter.

Melt the butter

Melt the butter

Slice banana directly into the pan.

Slice banana directly into pan (Photo cred compliments of Lizzy Swartz)

Slice banana directly into pan (Photo cred compliments of Lizzy Swartz)

Drizzle one teaspoon of honey onto bananas and stir.

Drizzle one teaspoon of honey onto bananas and stir.

Drizzle one teaspoon of honey onto bananas and stir.

Let the bananas get nice and mushy. The honey may begin to caramelize a bit on the pan. To prevent sticking, keep stirring. Add chocolate chips, if desired.

Add chocolate chips

Add chocolate chips

Let the chocolate chips melt. Serve over yogurt! (I warned you, these pics are not great….)

Final product

Final product

Happy Friday!

Spring Eating

Spring has officially arrived! Commence Spring cleaning and light eating! Of course, here in Charleston, Spring is more reminiscent of summer in normal, non-Southern regions. Since March began I’ve been to the beach twice and already have tan lines. I’d call it a solid start to the season. Other than lounging like a dead person in a beach chair, my other favorite spring activity is creating light and delicious recipes. Here’s one of my favorites….

Easy Asian Peanut Noodles

A delicious Spring meal in under 5 minutes

A delicious Spring meal in under 5 minutes

Technically makes 2 SERVINGS, but who are we kidding, you’re probably going to want that whole bowl to yourself.

I’m a huge proponent of Ramen noodles. They’re super cheap, around 30¢ when you buy in bulk. They cook fast. They’re delicious and versatile. This is my other favorite Ramen recipe which uses many of the same ingredients and tastes amazing on a cold, rainy day.

  • 1 package Ramen -  70¢ or cheaper if you buy in bulk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter -  about $2.50 for a 16 ounce jar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar -  about $3 for a 10 fluid ounce bottle
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water -  FREE
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil -  about $3 for an 8 fluid ounce bottle
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey -  about $2.50 for a 12 once jar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced or grated ginger -  about $2.50 for a 23g jar or about $1.50 for a fresh branch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce -  about $3 for a 10 fluid ounce bottle
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste (like Sriracha) -  about $3 for a bottle that will last a long time

Garnish (All ingredients optional. You can always pick and choose a few that sound good to you)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro -  about $2 for a large bunch/ 1 oz
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced lengthwise – about $1.50 per pepper
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced- about $1.50 per cucumber
  • 2 oz firm tofu, diced – about $2 for a 10 ounce package
  • 1 head of baby bok choy, blanched and chopped -  about $1.50 per bok choy

Approximate cost: $6, which makes 2 servings at $3 each

Approximate cooking time: 5 minutes

*A note on Rice Vinegar and Sesame Oil: This Chinese version of vinegar is a clear liquid with a less acidic taste than typical vinegar. If you’re hesitant to buy a bottle just for making this recipe, here are three other ways Rice Vinegar comes in handy: 1.) Douse fresh veggies in rice vinegar for a snack. I suggest julienned carrots and jicama. They taste similar to the pickled veggies that are served in Japanese restaurants. 2.) Add one tablespoon of rice vinegar to white or brown rice for a consistency and taste similar to sushi rice. 3.) Add rice vinegar to homeade salad dressings. I’m particularly fond of this one. Similarly, Sesame Oil can be used in salad dressings, stir frys, and on rice.

Bring a pot of water to a steady boil over high heat. Add the Ramen noodles (omit the spice packet). Cook for about 3 minutes. Drain Ramen and set aside in a bowl to cool. Mix the peanut butter, rice vinegar, warm water, sesame oil, honey, minced ginger, soy sauce, and Chinese chili paste together in a bowl. Mix noodles into mixture. Add desired garnish.

I used cilantro and bell peppers in mine. My one packet of ramen counted as 2 servings of grain; the peanut butter is one serving of protein; add some veggies and you’ve got a simply delicious and balanced meal. One I could not stop taking pictures of….

 

What I’m Snacking on Right Now: Trader Joe’s Organic Sandwich Pickles…I’m a pretty big fan of anything with zero calories and still tastes delish

What I’m Listening to Right Now:

Yeah, you wish I was kidding. Sadly, I have a special spot in my heart for excruciatingly bad, yet addicting pop songs such as this.

Doble Mexicano

Doble Mexicano, or Double Mexican, means this week I’m giving you TWO Mexican recipes. I thought it was only fair to write two considering my recent slacking on updating this blog. So here you have it people: two equally delicious, über healthy, and easy to make recipes. Yes, I said über, because these recipes are unreal kinds of healthy. They use no fats or salt and I have lots of crafty ways to use Greek Yogurt and spices and herbs so you don’t sacrifice on flavor at all.

Mexican Chicken Bowl

Makes 4 Servings

I couldn’t think of a good name for this recipe. It’s mostly chicken made with Mexican-esque flavors and I ate it in a bowl. Got a better name for it? Comment below!

This is a Crock-Pot recipe! If you are not the lucky owner of a Crock-Pot, here’s how you make this dish: Boil a pot of water on the stove. Add chicken and boil for 30 minutes, until chicken is white through center. Refer to this recipe for picture and direction on boiling chicken. Drain and let chicken cool. Cook the onions and garlic, with some oil, over medium heat in a pot for 5 minutes. Add cooked chicken, canned tomatoes, chili powder and beans to pot and boil.

This dish can be served alone or over 1/2 cup of brown rice (1/2 cup= one serving) for a balanced meal. Garnishes (see below) listed in ingredient list are optional.

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast  – about $2-4/pound or $4-6/pound for organic chicken
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with chillies (non-chile works fine, too)  – about $2
  • 1 14-oz can black beans, washed and strained – about $1.50
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced  – about $1
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced  – I like to buy pre-peeled cloves to make life easier, about $1.50 for one bulb
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)  – an average 13g costs about $3-4 and will last you for years

Place all ingredients in a Crock-Pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Run a fork through chicken when done cooking and still in the Crock-Pot.

Done from the Crock-Pot!

Done from the Crock-Pot!

Possible garnishes:

  • Brown rice (I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s 15-minute Organic Brown Basmati Rice)  – about $4 for 2 pounds
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped-  about $2 for a head of lettuce
  • Scallions, diced – about $1 for a ‘bunch’
  • 1 tablespoon of nonfat Greek Yogurt (healthy sour cream substitute)- about $2 per carton

Approximate Cost of Recipe with Garnishes: $10.50 which makes 4 servings at $2.63 each

This is how I served my Mexican Chicken Bowl. The yogurt mixed in tastes exactly like sour cream. Uncanny!

This is how I served my Mexican Chicken Bowl. The yogurt mixed in tastes exactly like sour cream. Uncanny!

Enchiladas Verdes

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I felt particularly accomplished with this recipe when my notoriously picky roommate/best friend ate every last bite of her enchiladas. To please a girl whose palette never wanders far from plain pasta, is what I call a success. Try this with a picky friend of yours and let me know how it goes! I think one of the tricks for picky eaters is to only offer them food by its name, do NOT tell them the ingredients until after they’ve tried it.

*I strive to make all my recipes as healthy as possible, cutting out all possible extra fats. With almost any recipe that requires shredded cheese, I like to use a soy-based cheese substitute. They have less calories and fat than dairy-based cheese and have more protein. I think it has more flavor than dairy-based cheese, too. It’s a total win-win! I recommend Linatti SoySation Shredded Cheddar Style…and yes, you can freeze cheese.

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast -  about $2-4/pound or $4-6/pound for organic chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic  – I like to buy pre-peeled cloves to make life easier, about $1.50 for one bulb
  • 8 corn tortillas  - about $3 for a pack of 12 (I keep mine frozen and defrost them in the microwave as needed)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese – about $2.50 for a 8 oz/2 cup bag
  • 8 teaspoons nonfat Greek yogurt  – about $2 per carton
  • 1 8-oz package/can of Green Chile/Verde Enchilada Sauce -  I used Frontera Green Chile Enchilada Sauce/ Medium Heat for about $2 per package/can
  • optional garnish: 1 tomato, diced – about $1
  •                                   Scallions, diced – about $1 for a ‘bunch’

Approximate Cost: $10 which makes 4 servings at $2.50 each

Approximate Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Sorry I forgot to take pictures for this recipe, but it’s still a simple process:

1.) Pre-heat oven to bake 400.

2.) Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add chicken and garlic cloves (for flavor) to boiling water and simmer for 25-30 minutes until chicken is white through center. For picture reference, see this recipe.

3.) Drain chicken, let cool, then chop into bite size pieces.

4.) Lay the tortillas side by side in an oven-safe casserole pan. Put 1 teaspoon nonfat Greek yogurt in each tortilla. Distribute 1/2 cup cheese among tortillas. Distribute the cooked, chopped chicken in the tortillas. Roll individual tortillas or leave them open faced like a taco. Pour sauce over tortillas. Distribute remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top.

5.) Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

6.) Remove from oven and let cool. Add garnish, if desired. Enjoy!

I made my enchiladas verdes with black beans and brown rice. So yummy!

I made my enchiladas verdes with black beans and brown rice. So yummy!


A Romantic Quiche

Happy National Single’s Awareness Day!! This year I will not be wasting away as a singleton on Valentine’s Day, gorging myself with chocolates and sappy romance movies. No, this year I will gorge myself with chocolate, sappy romance movies, AND wine! Big changes this year: still single, but now legal! Ya win some, ya lose some? What can I say! In spite of my not-so-spitefulness for being single, I do have a recipe for you folks, single or taken. Whether you share it with your lovey or savor it alone, there’s something a tad romantic, and undeniably chic about a lovely quiche. (For the record, if I did have someone to bake a quiche for on this special day, might I suggest baking it in heart ramekins or cutting slices out with a heart cookie cutter. Awe!)

Nothing Says Romance Like a Quiche Straight From the Oven….OR This…

There are two things I love about quiches:

1.) They make a great breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. Quiches are truly an unbiased meal. And they are best accompanied by a green salad with a simple vinaigrette, like this one.

2.) You can buy a pre-made pie crust, and save yourself some time and ingredients for about $3 or you can follow the video recipe on this page. Also, you can fill a quiche with whatever sounds appealing to you. Some suggestions: different cheeses such as parmesan, mozzarella, brie, or swiss; mushrooms; spinach; bacon; sausage; asparagus; bell peppers; olives.

Caramelized Onion, Broccoli, and Cheddar Quiche

Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil -  one quart extra virgin olive oil runs about $5 at most grocery stores and will last you a long time
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion, diced -  about $1
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey -  about $3 for a 12 oz jar
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs -  approximately $2 for a dozen
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt -  $1.50
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese -  about $2.50 for a 6 oz block
  • 1/2 cup broccoli heads, cooked and diced -  about $2 for a frozen bag or about $2.50/pound fresh
  • 1 pre-made pastry or pie crust -  $3

Approximate cost: $7.50 which makes 6 servings at $1.25 each

Approximate cooking time: 40 minutes

Preheat the oven to bake 400. Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onions, honey, and salt and pepper to taste to sauce pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and slightly browned. Mix eggs, yogurt, and shredded cheese in a bowl.

Mix eggs, yogurt, and cheese

Mix eggs, yogurt, and cheese

Distribute onions and broccoli (and any other desired ingredients) inside pie crust.

Place ingredients in pie crust

Place ingredients in pie crust

Pour egg, yogurt, and cheese batter (after being fully whisked together) on top of ingredients.

Distribute batter on top of ingredients

Distribute batter on top of ingredients

Smooth the surface of your quiche, making sure ingredients are well distributed.

Pre-baked

Pre-baked

Bake at 400 for 35 minutes until you can poke the center of the quiche with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Allow quiche 10 minutes to cool out of the oven before enjoying.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Recovering from the Super Bowl with Chinese Eggplant

You know that feeling, when you’re somewhere between wiping the duck sauce off your duvet cover and realizing you no longer fit in any of your jeans? Yeah you know what I’m talking about. The tragic aftermath of Super Bowl weekend. (Not to mention the depression that follows your team loosing – The Patriots, obviously- bummer…)

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If your weekend looked something like this, don't fret- cook eggplant!

If you’re weekend went anything like mine, that being you spent your weekend in Miami, FL at a double header horse show competing for your college’s equestrian team, then you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m especially in need of incorporating a whole lot of healthy into this week. The College of Charleston equestrain team is notroious for having a massive spread of deliciously tempting but oh so highly caloric food at every event. The buffets are nothing short of an average man’s once a year Super Bowl blowout meal…except this year I experienced it three days in a row. Like I said, time to eat HEALTHY! So with the inspiration of an amazing dish I had in a restaurant in Flushing, Queens (the less commonly known but mind blowing Chinatown of NYC), I devised this super simple, healthy, satisfying eggplant recipe. I served my eggplant with Ahi Tuna steaks (frozen from Trader Joe’s) and whole grain rice and it was heaven on a plate!

A note on scallions: Scallions taste like a mix between chives and onions. Mild in flavor, except for the white part that is considered the “bulb.” They are very yummy and go nicely with nearly anything: eggs, chicken dishes, pasta, soup, etc. This is what a scallion looks like:

Scallions

Scallions

Sweet and Savory Chinese Eggplant

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock -  $1.50 for a standard sized 28 oz carton
  • 1 pound eggplant cut into 1-2 inch cubes-  about $2.50 per pount
  • 3 large cloves garlic, diced-  I like to buy pre-peeled cloves to make life easier, about $1.50 for one bulb
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger -  about $2.50 for a 23g jar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce -  about $3 for a 10 fl oz bottle
  • 2 teaspoons honey -  about $3 for a 12 oz jar
  • 4 scallion branches, chopped -  about $1.50 for a bundle

Approximate cost: $4.50, which makes 2 servings at $2.25 each

Approximate cooking time: 15 minutes

Heat the vegetable stock in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add eggplant.

Add cubed eggplant

Add cubed eggplant

Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until eggplant begins to soften and darken. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and scallions. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately. Add a squirt of Sriracha for a spice kick or more soy if you desire a saltier taste.

Chinese Eggplant with Ahi Tuna Steaks and Whole Grain Rice

Chinese Eggplant with Ahi Tuna Steaks and Whole Grain Rice