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6 May

I think I may be the only person in the blogosphere who didn’t make a Mexicanspired meal tonight – it completely slipped my mind! I was just happy to have my camera ready in time for dinner. Since we had a couple of errands tonight (including a quick trip to el gymo), I started on a red lentil soup this afternoon, simmered it to perfection, and then just reheated when we came back. Guys, this was a serious soup – E said that he’d order it at a restaurant, pay for it gladly, and return over again to eat another bowl. Now that’s a compliment!

I based it off of Courtney at The Hungry Yoginis, and it was super simple:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 3 cloves garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (NSA if possible)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 3 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
  1. Heat up a medium pot over medium-high heat, and spray with olive oil.
  2. Saute onions until soft and translucent. Add in all seasonings, except for the bay leaf, and stir until onions are coated and spices are fragrant.
  3. Add in the carrots and celery, and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, lentils broth, coconut milk and the bay leaf. The coconut milk will look like it’s separating, but don’t worry – it’ll reincorporate with everything else as it cooks.
  5. Simmer for an hour over medium-low heat, and enjoy!

I also had a tuna, hummus, spinach and carrot wrap and some strawberries – good, but definitely not as good as the soup. I’m looking forward to lunch tomorrow already!


Digging the Daregal

23 Apr

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Matt.
Matt, as it turns out, works for Daregal, a company that specializes in fresh frozen herbs.
Matt wanted to know if I’d like to try out these oxymoronic herbs, and tell y’all about them.
And be completely honest about the whole thing.
I bet you could tell how quickly I said yes, huh?

Herbs, for me, are like water and air. I can’t function without them, and am beyond annoyed when I run out. I also try to keep as much salt out of our food as possible, so herbs are the be all and end all around here. I use a lot of dried herbs, which are great in the long run – shelf-stable, convenient, and easy to use. Sometimes, though, a girl just needs some freshness in her life. Fresh herbs around here are really expensive and can be hard to find. They also seem to go bad in our fridge rather quickly, putting a damper on our wallets.

Enter Daregal and their ingeniousness (and generosity!).
Not only did I receive 6 varieties to sample, but they were the full-sized containers! Shipped with dry ice, I received Dill, Oregano, Italian Parsley, Cilantro, Basil and Original Blend (a combination of basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme).

As you can see, in my enthusiasm, I swiftly opened every single container upon arrival as quickly as my hands would move. I’ve been using these babies in everything lately, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m beyond satisfied. Not only do the herbs keep beautifully in the freezer for up to 36 months, but they’re super-convenient! Pre-chopped, it’s so simple to just throw them in any dish, and they defrost instantaneously. Also, because they’re lightly misted in vegetable oil before packaging, there’s no clumping inside the container – just shake and use. I’ve also tasted them on their own, and not only do they look like fresh herbs, they taste like them, too – amazing!

I’ve sprinkled dill on brown rice, cilantro on nachos, and on roasted vegetables for a quiche. My absolute favourite combination so far was today’s post-workout snack – nonfat Greek yogurt, honey, sliced strawberries and basil. This just screamed summer, and was incredible; the basil brought everything together without being overpowering. I could seriously eat this every single day. So cheery and yummy! Plus, how beautiful and fresh does that look?

Now for the downside.

For now, the only stores where Daregal herbs are sold are A&P, D’Agostino, Giant Food, Kings, King Kullen, Stop and Shop, Waldbaum’s and Shaw’s, none of which are in our area. You can also buy them online at Daregal, but with shipping it becomes a little pricey. Well worth it, but pricey.
Also, I’d love to see mint and chive added to their product line, because I’d be on it like peanut butter on toast!

When it comes down to it, I would totally buy these herbs. They’re delicious, convenient and ‘shelf’-stable, and the quality is exceptional. Seeing as my biggest issue is that it’s a PITA for me to get another batch, I don’t know that I’ve ever been this satisfied with anything before. They would make a great gift, and they’re worth trying – I’d be shocked if you weren’t completely satisfied.

Right now, Daregal is hosting Gourmet Sweepstakes 2009, where they’re giving away an 8-pack of fresh frozen herbs every week (I’ve totally entered). Plus, Daregal does offer some great deals:

  • buy any 4, get any 1 free
  • buy any 6, get any 2 free
  • buy an 8, get any 3 free
  • buy any 12, get 4 free

Since I’ve gotten a few e-mails on my lack of food posts lately, I’ll leave you with one of our favorite dinners of this week, Spaghetti Sauce Sandwiches. Served on Ezekial with a little 2% shredded cheddar on top, these were totally satisfying, quick to make and great as leftovers. It would also be really good on top of pasta or over some rice or a baked potato.

I used Morningstar Farms Griller Crumbles instead of ground turkey or beef, and it was a great substitution – they looked and tasted like the real thing, and was better for you, too. What more can you ask for?

Spaghetti Sauce
makes 4 servings

  • 2 cups Morningstar Farms Griller Crumbles
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 16 oz. no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tap water
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian Seasoning blend
  • 1 Tbsp. each of Daregal basil, oregano and Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and spray with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic powder and Italian seasoning blend, and saute for another minute.
  4. Add in the crumbles, and stir until defrosted and they begin to brown.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce and the water. Add in the balsamic vinegar and the bay leaf, stir and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add in the basil, oregano and Italian parsley, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve!
nutritional information per serving:
106.9 calories, 1.9g fat, 1.5g polyunsaturated fat, 0.4g monounsaturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 260.8mg sodium, 111.1mg potassium, 13.4g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 4g sugar, 9.6g protein
12% Vitamin A, 59.7% Vitamin B-12, 23.2% Vitamin B6, 9.5% Vitamin C, 15.6% Iron

Easy Breezy Breakfast

30 Mar

When E and I first started, I didn’t eat breakfast. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it now, but breakfast and I didn’t really jive outside of Sunday brunches, usually at IHOP. Never hungry right after waking up, I didn’t see the need. 3 months later, I’m a convert, and I’ve eaten breakfast every single day. One of E’s favourite breakfasts is oatmeal, but I could never get past the textural consistency – it was always too gloppy or too runny, and reminded me a fair amount of wallpaper paste. I really wanted to like oatmeal, since it’s such an inexpensive, filling breakfast. It’s healthy, too – over 40 studies worldwide have shown that eating oatmeal can both lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, and doctors are now noticing that it may reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers and lower your blood pressure, as well. Oatmeal can also help control weight due to its fiber content, and it’s a 100% natural food that can be found in 80% of American homes. Oats themselves are also a nutrition-rich food, and is a good source of protein, vitamin E, iron, zinc, selenium, and more. What more could you ask for to help start your day?

In walks in baked oatmeal. The lovechild of an oatmeal cookie and a bread, this is a really delicious alternative to that boring bowl of oats. Not only can it be prepped beforehand in no time, but it can be eaten hot or cold, on its own or in a bowl with some milk and brown sugar (should you desire).

For a change of pace, add in mashed banana, apple, berries, raisins, nuts or chocolate chips – the possibilities are endless! This is seriously good (and good for you!), as E and some of my fellow contestants can attest to. This does make 8 fairly large servings, so feel free to cut it into 16 pieces.

Baked Oatmeal
makes 8 servings
Note: if using sugar-free applesauce instead of apple butter, up the Splenda to 1 1/2 cups. This can also be prepped beforehand and refrigerated overnight, then baked.

  • 1 cup sugar-free apple butter
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 cups quick-cook oats
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt substitute
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups nonfat milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients in order listed.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned. Cool, cut into pieces, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information for per serving:
298.9 calories
7.2 g fat
307.2 mg sodium
336.8 mg potassium
51.2 g carbohydrates
6.8 g fiber
1.5 g sugar
12.8 g protein
22.8% calcium
19.4% iron
8% vitamin B-12

Cutting down on costs (and chemicals!)

12 Mar

Between the “Eat Less, Move More” diet and the economy, we’re always looking for ways to cut costs (and calories). Meat isn’t big in our household, so I only buy chicken when it’s less than $2.50/lb. and bake or poach it, eliminating a lot of the fats and sodium in prepackaged meat. When I’m out, I’m out. As the meat-eater, I feel guilty spending tons of money on something that I can only eat, so doing this eases my conscience a little bit.

We do spend a lot of money on produce, which isn’t something we’re willing to cut back on, and hey, why should we? What’s better – spending more money on fresh, whole, nutritionally-packed fruits and veg or spending less on pre-packaged, HFCS-toting, chemically-made crap? We’re even going to try our hand at gardening this summer to see if that lightens the load a little bit. Seeing as we’re a (mostly) vegetarian family, we do buy a lot of frozen veg food, like Morningstar Grillers Prime and Gardenburger Riblets (our favourite). They’re certainly better for you than a hamburger or a McRib, and they’re delicious to boot, but they have one area that I’m just not satisfied with: the sodium. With Grillers Prime coming in at 360 mg per patty, that’s more than 10% of your daily requirement, 20% of it if you’re on a low-sodium diet.

As much as I enjoy them, I knew I could do better. Using a recipe from Self magazine’s February 2009 issue, I came up with a great burger that we both enjoyed. I’ll definitely be making a big batch of these again! They’re meaty, filling and quick, reheat well and pretty easy on the pocketbook. Even if you are not a vegetarian, I’d recommend you to at least try them once.

Bean & Portobello Burgers
adapted from Self magazine
makes 4 giant patties or 6 normal-sized patties

  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup Panko
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s Naturals makes a vegetarian version)
  • 1 Tbsp. pepper mustard (honey mustard is a good substitute)
    1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms and onion, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
    2. Add beans, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper. Cook, smashing beans with the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes more.
    3. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, mix in eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Panko. Form into patties.
    4. Wipe out skillet; heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat and cook burgers until brown and firm, 6 to 7 minutes per side.
    5. Place onto bun of choice with condiments of choice, and serve.

Nutritional Information for 1/4 recipe: 241.4 calories, 7.6 grams of fat, 203.5 mg of sodium, 30.5g of carbohydrates, 4.1g of sugar, 6.8g fiber, 11g of protein,

Soup Glorious Soup!

15 Jan

There’s nothing quite like a warm, home-cooked meal on a cold night, especially one that can clear out your sinuses at the same time. E and I get quite sniffly on and off all winter long, so many nights feature soup as our meal of choice. Thanks to the crockpot and some foresight, this can stop any sniffle in its step. It’s hard to decide what I like best: vegetarian, fat free, frugal, easy and full of zippy flavor, this soup is definitely an all-around winner that doesn’t require any special shopping trip. Sprinkle with some cheddar and crushed tortilla chips for that little extra special something.

Why not, this is healthy!

Smoky Refried Bean Soup
adapted from FatFree Vegan Kitchen and A Year of Crockpotting
serves 6

  • 1 can of fat-free refried beans
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup baby carrots, halved
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Turn your crockpot to high, and add in the refried beans. Take a couple of minutes to stir the beans, melting the blob of beans.
  2. Dump everything else in, and stir together.
  3. Cook on low 6 hours, or on high for 3. Keep in mind that you’re not cooking anything, just softening the carrots and beans, and allowing for the flavors to marry.