Tag Archives: Healthy

What Is a Meal?

Pancakes with bacon hidden inside, topped with apples

I have an ongoing discussion with my friend Nicole on what constitutes a meal. I vehemently defend anything I’ve ever posted on this blog, and she denies most of it.

Nicole: Macaroni and cheese is NOT a meal.
DISAGREE

Nicole: Pancakes are cake, NOT a meal.
DISAGREE

Nicole: A muffin is NOT breakfast, it’s cake.
DISAGREE

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can pretty much call anything into a meal. For one solid week last year I ate nothing but chocolate cake and red wine for dinner. If it’s 6PM, and I eat a slice of cake and drink a glass of wine, and then I’m full, and then I go to bed… how come that’s not dinner? I’m not feeding it to my growing children, or even my hungry boyfriend. Nicole would probably argue that there is literally zero nutritional value in chocolate cake and red wine (except for all those antioxidants! what whaaaaat). And that’s her argument against macaroni and cheese, and pancakes, too. Zero nutritional value. Does a “meal” have to have a certain amount of nutritional value to actually be worthy of the name? I dare you to find a single, city-living lady who has never called cheese and crackers dinner.

What do you think, guys? What’s a meal? Are pancakes a meal if you add bacon? Or top them with apples? Why is spaghetti with sauce and garlic bread considered dinner, but not pancakes? Why is a bowl of Lucky Charms breakfast, but not slice of pound cake (FYI: they both have TONS of sugar). Is greasy Chinese takeout a meal even though it has endless amounts of MSG, fat, and oil? How about a pepperoni pizza?

I rarely ask outright for your comments, but this time I want them! Go ahead. Comment away. That’s right… I’m lookin’ at you.

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Avocado Shrimp Salad

Did you ever have one of those days where you’re a food blogger and you make something really delicious and then you and your dinner guests devour it and you realize you forgot to take a picture of it? Don’t you just hate when that happens? I made this dish, and was so super proud of it, and as I was cleaning the plates off The BF said, “You forgot to take a picture… huh?” Rest assured, friends, this dish is beautiful and tastes just as good. You won’t regret making it. Pinky promise.

On the menu:
Avocado shrimp salad
Serves 4 

3 Tbsp red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned and tails removed, cooked and diced
2 avocados, ripened
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Combine red onion, cilantro, shrimp, lime juice, and salt in a plastic bowl.

Cut avocados in half, careful to keep the skin intact. Remove pit. Scrape out the flesh, leaving a thin layer of flesh on the skin. Mix the avocado insides with the rest of the fillings, careful not to mash it too much [the salad is better if you leave the avocado a little chunky].

Divide the sprouts up between the 4 avocado shells and then fill each shell with 1/4 of the salad. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

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Chocolate Therapy


Ever have one of those days? You know what I mean. THOSE days. When anyone who crosses your path is gonna get an earful whether they asked for it or not? That was Saturday. I blame the phases of the moon.

In any case, here’s a recipe for one of those days. This recipe is surprisingly healthy, compared to store bought muffins. If you’re craving something sweet, these definitely fit the bill without completely desecrating your diet.

On the menu:
Chocolate muffins
Makes 24 muffins

2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 apple, shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a different bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, water, milk, apple, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line each cup of the muffin tin with a paper liner. Fill each cup 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Note: this recipe originally had vegetable oil instead of an apple, but I find most recipes use oil to make cakes moist. Apples will do the same thing with none of the fat! You can also use 1/2 cup apple sauce. The only downside to this substitution is that the cake might stick to the liner… but that’s what your teeth are for.

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The Sweetest Thing

I’ve heard a lot of diet tricks. Drinking a cup of tea staves off hunger. Chewing a piece of gum can satisfy a post-meal sweets craving (seriously, Biggest Loser?? Gum?). An apple, full of fiber, makes you feel fuller.

I think these tricks are crap. When I want a piece of coconut cake, no stick of gum is going to make me think, “Man, now THAT was a meal-capper!” And when I think these tricks will work and I don’t bring a little sweet treat with me to work for after lunch, I end up at the vending machine gorging on Twix and getting evil glares from my boss, who undoubtedly thinks I am some kind of sugar addict. So I thought, there must be some sort of less-sweet dessert recipe out there that will satisfy my sweets craving and also not have 1,000 calories per bite.

On the menu:
Dark chocolate brownies (Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Dark Chocolate Brownies)
Disclaimer: these are not your typical Duncan Hines fudgy, oily brownies. If you’re looking for a square of decadence, this is not it. But these are chocolatey, they are cakey, and one little square is enough to make me feel contented and sufficiently sleepy at 3PM. And that’s all I’m asking for.

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
6 oz. plain yogurt (one small container)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler, or in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. In another separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Add yogurt, applesauce, vanilla, and oil to eggs and sugar. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the other liquid mix. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until the batter is completely moistened.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*I had to use a slightly smaller baking dish, and ended up baking these for 45 minutes, so do keep an eye on them. If you bake them for too long they will be dry and inedible. Gross.

As I said, these are not your Betty Crocker standbys; but they are sweet and cakey and only my thunder thighs will know the difference.

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Peachy Keen

As I mentioned, I’m trying not to chunk-ify in the month of June, so here is a quick and simple and DELICIOUS dessert idea that my lovely friend Becca came up with to satisfy my crazy sweet tooth without killing my new health plan.

On the menu:
Grilled Virginia peaches with cinnamon and sugar
Serves 2

2 ripe peaches
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Slice peaches in half and remove the pit. Heat up grill, or grill pan to medium/high heat. Spread butter on face of peaches and place face-side-down on the hot grill. Let grill for around 2 minutes. Remove from grill and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon while still hot.

Easy as pie, right? And honestly… it IS a pie! A peach pie. Without the buttery crust and 8 pounds of sugar. You could also make this even healthier by spraying the grill with cooking spray and leaving out the butter, or by using just cinnamon instead of the brown sugar and cinnamon. Peaches have so much natural sugar that comes out even more when you heat them, that you barely even need the extra sweetness. As a man in a coffee shop once told me, “You don’t need all that sugar! You’re sweet enough already!” And so are you, dear readers. So are you.

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A Fish of a Different Color

Lately I’ve been feeling a little… chunky. Not like sophomore year of college where I literally had to buy a new pair of pants whilst working at the mall because the pair I was wearing was cutting off my circulation, but… chunky. It’s bathing suit season, you know? Time to lay off the extra mayo and pancake appetizers at brunch. Forget I just indulged in all-you-can-eat gnocchi. It never happened.

It is in the spirit of lighter options that I experimented with tuna and planned a weekday lunch for myself that won’t lead to high cholesterol at the young age of twenty-COUGH.

On the menu:
Mediterranean tuna salad
Serves 2

1 can of albacore tuna in water (or 1/2 cup tuna steak, roughly chopped)
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions on box (I used elbow macaroni, but you can use any little chunky pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THESE DIRECTIONS THEY ARE VERY VERY COMPLICATED: Toss pasta with olive oil. Add tuna. Add fruit. Add cheese. Add zest. Add salt and pepper. Toss. Eat. Feel healthy. Be happy.

I like this in a bowl with a fork, but you could easily put this on some toasted Italian bread, or melted between two pieces of flat bread with the chunks of mozzarella binding it together. But, as I mentioned, I’m trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe and extraneous bread ain’t gonna help me there.

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