Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The hills are alive...

And so are my buns! I just finished another good neighborhood walk, and do we ever have hills.

It took forever for Dwight to convince me that in our neighborhood there are the same number of uphills as downhills, and while I believe it, it sure feels like there are more uphills when I go clockwise around the 'hood. Which I did today. (The counterclockwise route seems way easier for some reason.)

I haven't posted for awhile, but things have been blessedly dull in our lives. My breakfasts have been either oatmeal or a PB bagel thin and fruit - you've seen enough pictures of both. Lunches are the hardest meals for me. I should really start planning ahead instead of rummaging when I'm starving. Here are a few things I came up with:

As a variation on the Breakfast As Lunch theme, yesterday I made scrambled eggs with mushrooms, low fat shredded cheese, and nutritional yeast.

I had some that I had bought from the bins at Whole Foods for a baked tofu recipe (that I have yet to make.) Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and a good source of vitamins, especially the B-complex. Its flavor has been described as nutty or cheesy (I think cheesy), and it goes well with eggs. So I gave it a shot. It was fine - and for 30 calories per rounded tablespoon and nutritional benefits, why not. Of course, that is what women who eat their placentas say....

I did try two new Cooking Light recipes for dinner, one of which I will be making again. The one that I will NOT be making again is Chicken Enchiladas. It was w-a-y labor-intensive for the results. It tasted good, but it took over two hours and the sauce still hadn't reduced down to what it should have. If you want to try it, I would suggest using canned green enchilada sauce for an easier and just as tasty meal. (Not to mention, the recipe called for 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream; I just threw the rest away. I hate to waste.)

A recipe that we did like a lot is Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry. As with all stir-fries, it came together in a matter of minutes after some prep time spent chopping and slicing. There was a nice little kick to this; I should have had milk to drink instead of cinnamon iced tea.

this is what a 35-year-old wok looks like

I have been cooking lately; just not posting. So sorry about the abundance of recipes today. I've made this before when Erin was home, and it was just as delicious this time: Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Mozzarella and Pesto from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run. (The link will take you to her blog.) I made it in a skillet, but with all the caramelizing happening, it will be better on the grill next time. (Says my kitchen helper - I cook and Dwight cleans. Pretty equitable, I'd say.) The flavors are just so wonderful; the balsamic vinegar, the balsamic reduction, and the pesto all mixed with the chicken and fresh mozzarella. What's not to love?!

sorry about the horrible picture; it really is a full chicken breast half

I made one of our family standbys last night: White Chili. It's so easy even Dwight can make it. While he's a good griller, he will freely admit that his expertise in the kitchen is limited to microwave popcorn and toast. That's not totally fair; he can make a pretty good Egg McMuffin. But anyway, back to the white chili. It's not only easy, but you can make it in quantity as it freezes well. It's my go-to for Meals on Wheels. You know, when you need to take something to a friend who just had surgery or a death in the family. The same friend just had BOTH, so I was cooking for her and her husband as well as for us.

So, first of all, cook some chicken breasts however you want, then cut them into bite-sized pieces. (You can even use the pre-cooked chicken strips or rotisserie chicken from the store.) Next, chop up and brown one onion and some garlic.

use a Dutch oven or large saucepan

Then, add the chopped chicken to the onions

Now for the hard part. You need to be skilled with this:

as these are the rest of the ingredients:

remember, I am doubling the recipe

Seriously. Don't even drain 'em. Just dump the beans and the diced green chilies into the pot, add some cumin and about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper or to your liking. I find that I need to add some water to get it to chili consistency. Let it all simmer for awhile, and if desired, serve topped with crushed Doritos, chopped cilantro, and some shredded Mexican cheese. I have been making this for DECADES, and I STILL like it. (Although there was a time in the mid-90's where we OD'd on it so I took it out of the rotation for about six months.)

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of that Dutch oven full, full, full of chicken and beans. You have a good imagination, though, don't you? A single recipe makes about six cups, so you know how the pot was with twelve cups. I figured out the nutritional data for one cup: 217 calories, 7 g fat, 23.8 g carbs, and 22.4 g protein.

Okay, on to exercise. I've been walking and riding my bike, but the bulk of exercise has come from yard work. I'm talking HOURS spent mowing, tilling the gardens, and digging up, splitting, and transplanting daylilies and hostas. On Sunday, we had an abbreviated round of golf - since it was so slow we just walked in after five holes and had lunch on the pub patio:

I know. Fries TWICE in one week after not having them for months. I wasn't worried about the calories since I knew we'd be working hard. I did learn a valuable lesson, though - the KIND of calories is as important as the AMOUNT. I felt not-so-great all afternoon working in the 90+ degree heat. (We have had the warmest spring following the warmest winter. I'm not complaining, but my body needs some time to adjust! I've been wearing shorts and sandals for the last few weeks, and our crabapple tree - which usually is in full bloom in time for prom pictures - is at its peak right now.)

That is a turkey burger under the onion rings. So it's healthy.

But I'll tell you what DID taste good after all our work outside on Sunday:

from Peace Tree, our favorite little Knoxville, IA brewery

Tonight it's dinner at the club (large house salad with grilled chicken and balsamic vinaigrette, hold the croutons and bread; 278 calories - not that I order it often or anything) with our friends to plan our upcoming annual trip to Pinehurst. I don't know what we're planning; I'm thinking it's an excuse to get together and drink some wine.


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