Green Giant Keeping Healthy Food Fun, Functional, And Convenient

If veggies had a number one fan, it would be me. Yes, hands down, I’d be the one with the glitter and pompoms up front. That, or I’d be threatening someone in effort to secure some…

I’m the one with the hair dryer…

I’m not necessarily partial to brands when it comes to vegetables, though – I do prefer fresh, but for convenience (and a more likely guarantee of peak freshness) I tend to hoard the frozen kind. (“Hoard” is not an exaggeration, however slightly misleading (in that I consume them as feverishly as I amass my supply.))  

Anyway, I don’t have to have a certain name on the package, or even organic depending – it’s more about value in this case. That said, I do like the brands who innovate – frozen foods do not have to be unhealthy, number one… And number two, they can make life a whole helluvalot easier. Especially if you eat like a zoo animal (—-> ME.)

Although Green Giant is not alone in the pursuit, they were one of the first companies to make riced vegetables accessible. For those of us with limited counter space and / or those not wanting to clean the food processor every two minutes, these frozen, steamable packages are a godsend.

Green Giant launched the plain, riced cauliflower variety first, along with a basic, healthier take on tater tots, but have since added to the lineups. They also have a nice selection of roasted veggies, though I confess to not really caring for those as much. 

In addition to bulking up the options within each category, they have since come out with veggie spirals – not new if you like to cook or follow healthy eating trends…BUT…no one has come out with them for the freezer aisle until now. YAAHHSSSS!

I actually spotted – and purchased – the zucchini spirals recently (above.) Though I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan, I think it’s because I didn’t drain the water right away (which I would highly recommend doing.) Because I go through my veggie stashes so rapidly, I often steam them and leave them in the bag – for the riced variations, you’d be fine with that. For these guys, though…definitely drain.

What’s so great about all these seemingly fancy preparations? As I said earlier, the convenience can’t be beat. In addition to that, however, these are THE perfect way to bulk up your meal. If you love to eat, or enjoy larger portions (the brain *can* be tricked!), adding extra servings of vegetables is a healthy way to fill you up without adding too many calories. 

Now…all that said…keep in mind WHICH variety you choose – obviously the options with a sauce mixed in, or the comfort food remakes will have higher calorie counts in the nutritionals than the plain variants. Still, it’s better than housing french fries!

I applaud Green Giant for pioneering these ranges – I do buy other brands sometimes, and have seen a few come to market with newer options (such as a healthier stir fried rice option from Hanover, whose plain riced is good too.)  But Green Giant has the broadest mix, albeit not ALL the versions are as easy to find in every super market. Definitely worth trying for yourself if you haven’t yet!

Happy munching!

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The Amazingness That Is The Grill

I never really had a reason to grill in the past, but I feel like it’s worth knowing and that I should at least learn…espeically if it means I can be more helpful every so often.  (That said, I’m always admittedly a little nervous about ruining the food – if it’s for anyone other than myself, I feel petrified of messing it up!) My husband is incredibly good at it.  I don’t think there’s anything he can’t make because everything he’s ever cooked, I’ve enjoyed immensely. (And if I like it, you know it’s good.)  

One of the key reasons I am so finicky, though, is that my system is ultra sensitive – I have to stick to basics, and keep my food free of the “extras.” In that case, I feel like cooking a good meal is even more of a task (no sauces to come to the cover-up rescue!)

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Truth be told, though, I think food tastes better without the extra jazz.  I definitely love various sauces but I remember when I had them more frequently that those were all I tasted – I missed out on the flavors of the foods themselves.  Shrimp for one thing are delicate – I love how mild and sweet they are (scallops are another favorite!) bust as such, they are easily overpowered.  My hubby grilled some the other day with nothing more than Old Bay and salt and pepper – amazing.  

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He grilled fresh bell peppers too (the red, orange and yellow are the sweetest varieties) which were incredible. 

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I feel like you don’t really need much – beyond knowing how to grill properly of course (and he definitely has that down!) It’s always a nice treat because I’ll generally stick to a skillet, an oven or broiler, or the microwave if left to my devices. The grill gives a tiny bit of blackened char, which you just can’t get any other way, and a little bit of crisp that makes the softer insides even more delicious.

 

Nutrition Humor – The Omelette Attempt

I’ve managed a *few* times to get a lovely, half-circle with jazz in the middle. But the flip is dicey.  Sometimes. . .

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Incidentally, I make my eggs the microwave – ALL the time.  Scrambling eggs in the micro is incredibly easy – in a microwave safe container, you don’t have to clean up more than once either. Pair them with steamed veggies and VOILA!  Healthy, satisfying meal without a stitch of hassle. 🙂

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Ahhh..simplicity!

Nutrition – The Easy Way To Add Volume

I definitely need to eat “volume” – a small snack will never cut it for me, despite that I am constantly snagging something to munch on.  I need to feel satisfied not only because I don’t want to feel hungry, but because my body doesn’t react well without the appropriate, and fine-tuned, amount of fuel.

The easiest way to add volume – the most obvious, also, but for some reason not as often as looked to as you might expect – is to load up on veggies.  A few sites are good about recommending this simple, incredibly effective “trick” but I feel like people still neglect to use it.  

One of my favorite recipes is an enormous sauté of vegetables and ground chicken – I use my Curtis Stone pans, with which I don’t need to use a stitch of oil.  (Yes, oil IS good for you, so a dash of olive isn’t the end of the world, but I try to be mindful, and not use it all the time if I don’t need to.)

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I sauté diced onions for a few minutes so they brown, then I add in fresh mushrooms (and, often, peppers too – red, yellow, and orange preferably, since they are the sweetest!) I later add diced tomatoes to it to make kind of a “sauce” – one, mind you, that is more vegetables than sauce! In a separate pan, I sauté the chicken, with nothing more than himalayan pink salt and spices.

Separately, I steam – in a BPA free microwaveable container, of course! – diced (or pre-riced!) cauliflower.  If I don’t have pre-diced (sometimes it is hard to find), I steam cauliflower florets – when they are done, and nice and soft, I use a potato masher to make little “diced” or “riced” type pieces.  You can use a food processor to do the same thing – this just takes less time and clean up to use a masher. 🙂 

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I have everything going at the same time, and will reduce the “sauce” to a simmer if necessary.  Once the cauliflower is ready, I mix it – and the “sauce” – into the pan with the chicken. And that’s it!

It makes a HUGE amount a food, and because of the volume of vegetables, each serving is less calories than it would be with just chicken…not to mention, it lasts longer, so you get more meals out of it. 🙂  

Hard Boiled Over Eggs – Tried And Tested

So I love my protein – eggs are a perfect food and I eat, generally, at least one a day with a TON of egg whites.  Hard-boiled eggs are a great grab and go snack also, so I like to have some on hand.

Boiling is a little bit of a pain (and more to clean up) so I thought I’d try the oven bake method. 

Did it work? YES.

Perfect? About 99%.

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I like medium-boiled so I personally need to tweak the temperature and /or time because they were – as designed – hard-boiled.

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Each egg also had two little spots on them (on the inside of the egg, once peeled), I’m guessing from the heat of the pan.  I’ve also read (and mine had them too) that the eggs get little spots on the surface of the shell – they are completely harmless and disappeared in the ice water.  Spots inside – or outside – aren’t a big deal, but worth the mention in the event you had wanted to serve them for any reason!

I also, as an aside, used my new egg piercer – piercing before boiling (apparently even with the oven method) seems to help the peeling.  YESSSS!!!

HOW TO BAKE YOUR BOILED EGGS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 or 350 (posts vary on this – I did 350 to start, but again, may tweak for more medium-boiled)
  2. Place the eggs into a muffin tin (this keeps them in one place 🙂 ) 
  3. Bake for 30 minutes
  4. Remove the eggs and place them into ice water for 10 minutes

VOILA!

(For more Nutrition Stuff...)

Wait…120 Calorie LAVA CAKE!?

I came across this recipe on FoodieFiasco the other day and nearly fell over.  120 calories for the awesomeness that is lava cake?!  SIGN ME UP!

Let’s just be clear from the get-go…because my jumping for joy chocolate dance may seem a little strange, especially to those who regularly indulge in sweets.  For starters, I don’t eat sugary foods – Fresh fruit and maybe whatever is in my coconut creamer constitute the bulk of my regular intake.  I never order dessert when I’m out, and I haven’t in years – if it isn’t in front of me, it’s much easier to behave.

I have the kind of willpower that would have the Gods (take your pick of the Pantheons) emerald with envy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to cuddle up to all things warm and chocolatey sometimes!  I also work my ass off when I’m in the gym, doing cardio, or attending my Martial Arts classes, so the idea that I’d be negating those efforts for short-term, short-lived deliciousness doesn’t balance out.  “It smells better than it tastes!” I remind myself.  

Often.

My crazy habit – and total “cheat” – is snagging a Dr. Praeger’s chocolate chip muffin in the middle of the night.  But the prospect of a lava cake for the same amount of calories?  I’m not going to lie, it’s more than kind of tempting to whip up the ingredients and have it ready when I wake up…

Anyway, this is designed for one person – I rather like that idea since you don’t end up with more than one serving (that will – make no mistake – be heard calling even when the fridge door is shut.  Amazing how those voices work!)  A little bit annoying from an ingredient prep standpoint but whatever – once you get the hang of the recipe, maybe it will be easier! 🙂

I don’t really cook much, but I might be willing to give this one a go… Volcano cakes are probably the one dessert I actually WOULD break down and have…were my Olympian self-discipline to falter.  Which (furrowing brow into a determined look) it won’t.  (And thanks to this rockin’ recipe, I don’t have to chance it either!)

PS, check out my Low Cal Yums board on Pinterest.  Ohhhh, the shenanigans! 

 

Humor, And The Perfect Woman

I give myself a SERIOUSLY hard time sometimes.  I’m not exactly a typical female and though I am thankful to be as I am, there are times when I have felt badly when other impose their own interpretations of what a woman “should be” on me.

Heaven forbid I say “I don’t cook.”  I mean that generally.  You won’t find me with an apron on baking casseroles, for sure, but that doesn’t mean I’m a total dolt.  I can manage with the smaller variety of things I eat…and I’m absolutely certain I can follow a recipe (I cooked a lot with my parents when I was little.)  But just because baking isn’t my favorite hobby…or being ultra feminine won’t work for my sportier lifestyle, I shouldn’t feel badly.

And you shouldn’t EITHER.

Don’t let anyone else define you, put you down, or place you in a box. 

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that another person’s definition of “perfect” may well deviate (even substantially) from our own.  There is nothing wrong with that!  

We all have gifts, and all have room to grow.  

We all have preferred activities, and those that just aren’t so much our thing.  

And in the end, that’s kind of what makes the planet so interesting, isn’t it?  If everyone was cookie cutter, I think I (for one) would be highly disturbed! 

I appreciate my glamorous friends, as much as my sporty ones, my bohemian ones, and the workaholics… I love them all, and appreciate most that THEY are happy.

Conforming just doesn’t work for me – it’s such a drag, and not worth anyone’s time to stress about!  If, as a human being, you do feel down about it, remember that YOUR “prefect” may not be everyone’s “perfect”…but there are countless others to whom your ideal is also perfection.

It’s all in the way you define your terms anyway.

I DO cook.  

I definitely “IRON.”  

And I always make sure home is nice and clean. 🙂

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My Current Go-To Meal

Despite my immense propensity for “getting bored,” I never seem to tire of healthy foods.  I’m enormously thankful for that, as I am scarcely exempt from getting cravings.  Fortunately a giant bowl protein and vegetables is generally enough to derail those venomous “you know you want a cookie”s, but it doesn’t mean it is always easy!  My willpower is tightly tied to my goals – I do my best to adhere to those, and focus on the end result as much as I can, which helps me see past the immediate satisfaction I *think* I’ll feel. 

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Eating protein DOES help – you are providing your body with a slower-digesting source of fuel that registers as “satiety” for a longer period…and I definitely need that!  If not, I’d be in trouble – after my late 20s, food started to “stick,” whether I protested or not.  Staying well hydrated helps to stave off cravings as well, which helps me stick to my goals as best I can.

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Lately my protein choices have changed (just a hair!) – since I eat a lot of the same foods, it isn’t at all surprising!  That said, it also isn’t so dramatic a change, my body will have any issues processing.  I’ve swapped out chicken breasts and tenders for ground chicken.  At least for now. I can’t say why specifically, but it totally hits the spot! 😀 Regardless of the protein source (salmon, shrimp and mild fish are other favorites!), I will always add vegetables.  

I add a few veggies into this recipe, but I add even more with it for a meal – I probably go through about 8  lbs of vegetables a day.  Yes…I said A DAY.  You know those enormous 4 lb frozen mixed vegetable packages at the supermarket?  I go through at least two a day (sometimes I use one, along with several smaller packages, varying the “mix.”)  Veggies add healthy, less calorically-dense VOLUME and, because I love to eat, volume is key.  My favorite picks are:

  • California Blend – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. (I use these for the bulk)
  • Italian Blend – broccoli, cauliflower, Italian green beans, zucchini, carrots
  • Asian Blend – broccoli, snap peas, water chestnuts, red peppers, mushrooms
  • Ranchero Fiesta – broccoli, white beans, chickpeas, carrots, red peppers, dark red kidney beans, Italian green beans. (I generally use half a bag, mixed with less starchy vegetables, but I love these for the extra fiber and protein (which, again, helps you stay satisfied longer!))

Those aside, my favorite vegetables to prepare with the ground chicken are organic red, yellow, and orange peppers (sweeter than the green), sliced baby bella mushrooms, and fire roasted tomatoes.  Sometimes I also add baby spinach, but I’ll toss it in towards the end if I do so it doesn’t get cooked too much and lose nutrients.

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I slice the peppers into small strips, after removing the stem and seeds, and quartering.  The mushrooms just need to be rinsed, and that’s it!  I will heat the stove on high and toss all the veggies with some salt and pepper into my snazzy Curtis Stone pan (which I don’t have to use any oil with! 🙂 ) I generally put the cover on and let them simmer, stirring occasionally, for about six or seven minutes.  

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Then I put two pounds of ground chicken (Whole Foods can grind breast meat for you if they are out!) into a second, larger pan, over high heat – again, no oil is necessary, but I do sprinkle Jane’s Mixed Up Salt on both sides (it’s easy to sprinkle on one side while in the package, then when you place it in the pan face down, you can add to the second side.)  I give it about two or three minutes on high to let one side brown gently, then I flip.  I’ll give it a minute or two and then start to chop it with my spatula, and flip as necessary.  

I DON’T like dried-out meat, so I will get it cooked about 75% through, then add in the vegetable mixture, which is softened by now, but not overcooked.  I’ll let that simmer on a medium to high heat mixing periodically until it’s cooked through.  

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And voila…easy as that.  The whole thing doesn’t take more than about 15 minutes or so, and it lasts me through a few meals.  I DO tend to eat “dinner” a few times at Night, though… 🙂  It really is like feeding a raptor.

For more of my Nutritional Choices… 😀