Hi Salubrious Foodie Friends

Hope you haven’t missed me too much while I was away!  I know I sometimes get annoyed when I check a blog and it hasn’t been updated in a while.  Please forgive me! 

Last Wednesday, I attended the second EFNEP Advisory Board Meeting hosted by the LSU Agricultural Center.  You may remember me talking about it a while back.  The meeting was basically to share what activities have been taking place with high school students across Jefferson Parish as EFNEP and LSU promote nutrition and health.  At the start of the meeting I learned a new word, which will make you sound super smart when used on your healthy living blog or in everyday life as you aspire to be salubrious. ;)  Did you catch on to that?  My vocabulary has grown to include the new word salubrious, which is just a fancy schmancy word for healthy.  One of the members of the LSU Ag team made a point to say that he would now be finding as many ways as possible to work [salubrious] into his conversations which gave us all a laugh.

Aside from learning a new word, we were also able to sample some salubrious recipes including a salmon salad and a turkey hummus wrap.  I have eaten the latter of the two on quite too many occasions so that was nothing new, but I do plan on making the salmon salad in the future and I’ll share the recipes which have been tested and given nutritional breakdowns.

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Today was a holiday, which I was completely thankful for with the week I had last week; with prayer and Lifesongs I got through it.  This morning I woke up with a craving for oatmeal, which I hadn’t eaten in about two weeks due to my being stuck on peanut butter and banana sandwiches instead.

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This bowl of creamy hot oatmeal hit the spot.  The mixture included:

~1/3 c each of old fashioned oats, 1% lowfat milk, and water

~salt, cinnamon, vanilla

~1 ripe banana, mashed

All heated up on the stovetop with:

~2 spoonfuls of cottage cheese stirred in

~1 spoonful of peanut butter

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And a bowl of coffee on the side.

After breakfast my mom and I hit up the gym.  I did 15 minutes on the Precor elliptical and 17 minutes on the Stairmaster.  The session concluded with stretching and 10 minutes or so of abdominal work.  I did 2 sets of basic crunches (25 reps), 1 set of leg lifts (20 reps), 1 set of butt lifts (not sure of the exact name; 20 reps), 2 sets of torso twists with 6 lb weighted medicine ball(25 reps alternating sides), and a minute and a half plank hold.

Mom and I then headed to Phil’s Grill for lunch followed by a trip to the theatre to see Black Swan.  I had a veggie burger on a jalapeño bun with herbed goat cheese and a side of fried pickle chips.  I ate 3/4 of my own burger plus 1/4 of Mom’s beef burger.  The veggie burger had too much breading and was nothing to wow over.  I did enjoy the sour pickle chips though. 

Okay, I am still unsure about the Black Swan and thinking back on some of the scenes still makes me a bit squeamish.  It was certainly not the uplifting kind of movie, but the acting was superb. 

After all of the popcorn, I wasn’t hungry so waited a while before deciding on what to cook for dinner.  I finally decided upon spaghetti with a shrimp creole type of sauce.  I simply used jarred tomato sauce and doctored it up.

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First I sauteed a chopped bell pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil.  Next, I added the shrimp to cook until pink.  The sauce was added along with Chinese red pepper, basil, oregano, italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and two stevia packets to cut the acidity and tang of the sauce.  That simmered about 30 minutes until we were ready for eatin’.  It turned out delicious served over whole wheat spaghetti, topped with grated Romano cheese. 

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I also had a handful of sweet, cold strawberries, but no picture was warranted since I ate them as I rinsed them.

Have you seen the Black Swan?  What are your thoughts?

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Wrapping up 2010

I hope you all enjoyed the first day of 2011.  Chris and I laid low today both taking care of some household work.  I packed away all of the Christmas decorations while he went to my sister’s house to continue working on getting the over-a-thousand-piece swing put together.

Last night we attended a small get-together at a friend’s house to ring in the New Year.  It was just three couples with food, fireworks, and fun.  No big party scene, but we had a good time!  For some reason I couldn’t really get any good shots outside; my camera just wasn’t cooperating on a bunch of different settings I tried.  Perhaps it was due to rain, humidity, and smoke in the air.

Here I am just as we were walking out the door with hat in tow because I knew we’d be outside and the weather was super yucky.

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Our hosts provided all of the food and drinks, which was really nice.  I wanted to make something, but after running around all afternoon I ran out of time.  Here is a look at the eats.

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Creole gumbo with chicken, sausage, and shrimp

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Finger sandwiches, fruit tray, and veggie tray

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Spinach and artichoke dip

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And I made some frozen margaritas.

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Yeah, so that didn’t work.   I was hoping for at least one good one, but last night was not the night for pictures.

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We had a few fireworks and rockets to shoot, but the real show was around the corner at midnight watched from afar.

We headed home shortly after midnight; needless to say I slept late today.  I started off my first day of 2011 with a  bowl of creamy oatmeal and coffee.

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To make the oatmeal, I mixed the following in a saucepan and whipped for five minutes or so on medium low heat with a fork:

~1/3 c each of old fashioned oats, low fat milk, water

~1 mashed banana

~vanilla, cinnamon, dash of salt

Topped with:

~granola

~raisins

~peanut butter

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Lunch was an easy spaghetti bowl with whole wheat spaghetti from fridge, spinach, and french onion light laughing cow wedge all mixed up after heating in the microwave.

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Plus some honey greek yogurt since I was still hungry.

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And more coffee because I was coooollldddd…the weather changed drastically over the day after all the rain we’ve had the past two days.

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I’ve been waiting for mom’s traditional New Year dinner all day long.  She texted that it was ready and I headed over to pick up some food for the husband and me to enjoy at home.

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She sent me home with homemade-never-canned-in-this-family black eye peas and rice for luck; cabbage, rice, ground beef, cheesy, tomato casserole for money; rolls; and fruit with dip.

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The food was delicious, Mom!  I always look forward to your cooking.  Thank you!

I’m about to have some of the fruit with sweet cheesecake dip as I watch the ever so sad and make me ball my eyes out “The Green Mile.” 

Additionally, I am still working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions in my head.  I should get to sharing them with you all tomorrow.  Do you set New Year’s Resolutions?  What goals are you setting for 2011?

If you need to gain some insight into setting your resolutions, here are some blogs I found helpful.

*Assessing Your All Around Well-Being 

*How to Make Resolutions You Can Keep

*10 Tips for Making New Year’s Resolutions

Round 2 Recipe—What to Do with the Leftover Christmas Ham

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Mom and I headed to the gym to get our swole on.  I started with 16 minutes on the elliptical.  Next was about thirty minutes of full body weights on the machines.  I finished up with 11 minutes on the stairclimber and some stretching.

Before Mom and I could shop, we filled our bellies in at the food court of Esplanade Mall.  Mall lunch included a Subway veggie club with american cheese and mustard and Baked Lay’s for me and Sbarro’s baked ziti for Mom.

sub   After sales and shopping to use up my gift cards, we headed to my sister’s house and brought over three cafe’ au laits from the famous Cafe Du Monde:  Home of the Beignet.  We brought over some beignets for the nephew, but he wasn’t happy with the powdered sugar getting all over his clothes.DSC01437

DSC01435 Jett’s beignet with most of the powdered sugar dusted off.

After a day of shopping and a visit to my sister, I found the Christmas ham still in her fridge.  So I told her I would take it home and cook something up or freeze it for future use.  I decided to whip up some ham fried rice for tonight’s supper after Mom suggested it. DSC01438

I began by sautéing a bell pepper, onion, and carrots in olive oil.  Next I added two cups of the cubed ham. DSC01440 DSC01441

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Then I added 5 scrambled eggs to the center of the pot. Once the eggs were cooked through I added about 3 cups cooked rice and 10 or so splashes of soy sauce with salt and pepper to taste.  Once mixed and heated dinner was ready for eatin’!DSC01443 DSC01445 DSC01444 DSC01447

I still have three thick slices of ham left that I wrapped and stuck in the freezer for some soup or beans or some other concoction. 

And some miniature taffy candies the husband received from a coworker also made there way into my belly.  They taste just like Roman Candy, a holiday treat that was always purchased from the street vendor cart when I was little whenever we came across one.

Do you have any Round 2 Recipes that I might try to use up some of my ham?  Feel free to share a link.

Not Your Everyday Football Fare

Any Saints fans out there?  Tonight was a big game for the “Bless You Boys" against the “dirty birds.”  And thankfully the New Orleans Saints pulled it together to get a W on the board against the Atlanta Falcons.

Earlier today Mom and I went to La Madeleine’s for lunch and she asked if I was planning football food on the dinner menu.  I desperately needed to cook my spaghetti squash that I purchased a few weeks back, so I wasn’t planning on typical game food, but more of a meal to go along with squash.  Just before the big game I asked Chris what he felt like eating for dinner with the squash and replied pork chops.  So on to the store I went to collect much needed staples and pork chops, which just so happened to be buy 1 get 1 free today.  Score!

Prior to running to pick up groceries, I turned on the oven and prepped the squash for roasting as previously done here roasting the whole squash.  I asked hub to stick it in the oven so it would be nearly done by the time I got back. 

Once home, I seasoned my center cut bone-in pork chops with salt and pepper and browned them in a pan sprayed with nonstick spray for 5 minutes on each side.  The chops were removed and I added a sliced green pepper, sliced onion, and a tad of water to the same pan used to cook chops stirring and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  As the vegetables cooked sown I removed the seeded pulp from the squash and then scraped out the spaghetti strands to be added to the pepper and onion mixture.  Along with the veggies, I added about 3/4 cup of teriyaki sauce to the pan.  The chops were placed on top of the veggie mixture, covered, and  cooked on low for twenty minutes more to ensure they were cooked through. 

This meal came together on a whim and turned out great!

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The squash did not keep its natural yellow color; it absorbed the teriyaki brown color, but it was still tasty.  The dish reminded me much of braised cabbage and pork.  Chris said “dinner was great” and it reminded him of french onion soup. 

As for my earlier eats today, I started with oats—more because I wanted to use my new bowl and less of the fact that I had no banana or milk to put in it.

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So I stirred sweet potato pecan butter into my very plain oatmeal and topped it with Fage Greek Yogurt with Honey.  It turned out to be a satisfying, not very warm breakfast.

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Mom and I headed to the gym a while later for cardio.  I did 20 minutes on the killer of a stair stepper, 20 minutes on the arc trainer, and 10 minutes on the bicycle.  I finished with some stretching to try to relieve the pain in my lower back/tailbone area and left hip.

Mom and I then stopped for lunch at our usual.  I ordered the wild fields salad and a bowl of country potato soup with cheese and bacon, please.

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Spring mix with balsamic vinaigrette

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Totally.hit.the.spot.

I also had a few bites of Mom’s pasta salad and sandwich.

While waiting for dinner to cook I shared a piece of cheese with my German Shepherd, Niko.

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And during the game—no beer for me, just coffee…

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No nachos, wings, or burgers; just an apple.

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3 Reasons I Dislike Shopping During the Holidays

Starting with Reason #3: I don’t know what to get!  Each year I struggle with what gifts to purchase for coworkers, husband, family members(especially dad).  Honestly, the people on my list don’t necessarily need anything, but of course I want to give them something.  I want that special something to be a gift that they can actually use, not just shove in a closet never to be seen again until they themselves need a gift to give.  Re-gift anyone!?!  After all, I don’t want my gift to be the talk of the White Elephant Party.

Reason #2: People are nuts!  Shopping during the holidays means crowded aisles of stores where rude consumers push, shove, fight over the last medium sized shirt on the sale rack…where they refuse to say excuse me if they cut you off or bump into you (I personally must have said excuse me at least 20 times on Friday)…where they steal your parking spot as you wait in the lot with your blinker on. Or where they park their cart directly next to yours facing the opposite direction and proceed to take your cart with your purse sitting at the top of the basket in the child’s seat and only notice after being chased by the screaming woman (ME) saying, “Excuse me, ma’am; excuse me ma’am, you just took MY basket!”  I swear she appeared to have a wig with a hat on and is sure to be a scammer.  I would be the naive one that gets scammed by the woman who accidentally took the wrong cart.  Luckily she didn’t steal anything and maybe my analysis is completely off basis.

Reason # 1:  Because of the two latter reasons, my mind gets lost in the madness.  I forget to eat…I forget my budget…I forget who I need to buy gifts for…mainly I forget that the down escalator takes people from upstairs to downstairs.  On Friday I literally stepped onto the downward escalator tripping over my feet and after a few seconds I realize…I am on the wrong escalator.  So I turn around and see adults and children laughing.at.me.  So I shake my head, laugh, and say out loud, “I’ve lost my mind!”

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Likewise, today my mind got lost in the holiday luncheon held at work and I failed to bring my camera, err iPhone.  I will say I had a plate full of a scoop of red beans and rice, 4 seafood salad finger sandwiches(two too many), a deviled egg, marinated veggies two ways, 2 pinwheels, 2 mini meatballs and  2 mini sausages plus I went back for some salad and a scoop of decadent, rich Butterfinger brownie pudding trifle with douses of whipped cream.  Honestly, with all that I wasn’t overly stuffed; I definitely could have gone back for seconds on some things but withheld. 

I did eat a solid breakfast of oatmeal, banana, milk, water, cinnamon, vanilla, cottage cheese, peanut butter, granola, and raisins.

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With hot gingerbread tea.

Dinner was eaten out with the sister and her two babies.  At Sake Cafe I had a salmon avocado roll, California roll, and snow crab roll after a cup of miso soup.  I couldn’t finish all of the rolls eating 4 pieces of salmon and California rolls each and 2 of the snow crab, but they were tasty as usual.

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Once home I snacked on two dough balls which taste like chocolate chip cookies in case you’re wondering.

Do you have any bad shopping experiences to share? 

Pork Chops with Garlic Orange Reduction and Sautéed Mustard Greens with Potatoes

Often I forget about cooking pork chops, but if I catch them on sale I will scoop up a pack or two.  Generally, I go with center cut pork loin chops with the bone-in because that is what I grew up eating weekly along side Monday red beans and rice. 

Pork chops are a reasonable protein choice due to the comparable caloric values of that in other protein choices; a 100 gram chop has about 130 calories with 4 grams of fat compared to a 100 gram skinless chicken breast containing about 115 calories and 3 grams of fat.  

Of course calories are dependent upon the cut of meat and the cooking method used.  I recommend center cut pork chops and tenderloins as both are lean cuts of meat.  As for cooking, stay away from deep frying or dredging the pork in buttery marinades.  Use fresh herbs and spices for full flavor meats; also, fruit compotes or fruit juice and vinegar reductions pair nicely with pork.  Opt for pan searing or baking to cut out any unwanted fat and calories.  In addition, having chops that are pre-portioned help with managing portions more easily than having to measure out a serving from cooking a whole pork tenderloin.

Last Thursday morning, I took my center cut pork loin chops from the freezer in preparation for dinner.  I was unsure of how I wanted to prepare them, but knew I needed a quick cooked meal since arriving home near 7:00 that evening.  I decided on a quick pan sear with a garlic orange reduction and sautéed vegetables that I had on hand.

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Pork Chops with Garlic Orange Reduction and Sauteed Mustard Greens with Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 center cut pork chops

salt and pepper (to taste)

2 tbsp. garlic, minced, divided

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tsp. light brown sugar, divided

1-16 oz. bag mustard greens

1 medium red potato, diced

2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

Directions:  Steam potatoes in microwave in a bowl with two tablespoons water, covered with plastic wrap for 5 minutes or until tender.  Set aside.  Spray large pan with cooking spray and heat to medium.  Season chops with salt and pepper.  Pan sear pork chops 4-5 minutes on each side until done.  Remove to plate and cover.  Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp. garlic, orange juice, and 1 tsp. brown sugar to small saucepan; cook on medium low stirring frequently until mixture reduces by half about 15 minutes.  In same pan used for chops, add chicken broth, 2 tsp. brown sugar, and garlic.  Scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and stir for 2 minutes.  Add greens in handfuls until all fit in pan and stir in potatoes.  Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes until wilted and liquid is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper.  Plate greens and potato mixture.  Top with a pork chop.  Drizzle garlic orange sauce over the top.  Enjoy!

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The flavor combinations of the sweet orange sauce worked well with the salted pork loin chop.  The husband is a big fan of sautéed greens much more than I am so he thoroughly enjoyed this meal.

My eats today included:

Oatmeal with half a crumbled oatmeal cookie and peanut butter

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And instant coffee for quickness

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Lunch was some lentil, sweet potato and bacon soup from the freezer with a couple of mint dark chocolates from Mom’s visit to TJs Chicago.

My meeting after work today lasted until 5:45, so Chris and I ate last night’s leftover beef and spinach lasagna.

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Finally, my sweet tooth kicked in and the handful of wasabi peas from a coworker did not cut it.  I had peanut butter and sweet potato pecan butter on toast.

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**Added note:  When consuming pork, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 160* to prevent trichinella poisoning. 

Luckily, I’ve never experienced any major food poisoning, but a coworker was once hospitalized for over a week due to consuming undercooked chicken.  Have you ever experienced food poisoning?  Do you have any food safety tips that should be followed when cooking with meat? 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Winter is here and evident– The weather temperatures are in the forties, my hands are red and dry, it is so cold it hurts.  The frigid temperatures don’t stay long around here in southeastern Louisiana, so when it is this cold out it is quite the adjustment.

Waking up this a.m. all I wanted was some warming oatmeal.

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My oatmeal was cooked on the stove for 5 minutes on medium heat including:

~1/4 c old fashioned oats

~1/4 c water

~1/4 c low fat milk

~mashed banana

~pinch of salt

~dash of vanilla

~generous dash of cinnamon

I crumbled a small date, pecan, chocolate chip muffin on top with a spoonful of peanut butter.  I also sipped a mug of soothing mango black tea.

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Ummm, I need to invest in some winter placemats; please forgive my continuous fall colors.  😉

Lunch was more of my delicious gumbo with a crisp apple.

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I did add some water during the reheating to make it more soupy.  This picture was snapped fresh out of the refrigerator so looks slightly thick.

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After work today I headed home and decided to forego working out for a nap.  I felt sore from yesterday’s workout and worn out.  So after my snack, I took an hour nap.  I enjoyed the rest of my favorite hummus with some baby carrots.  I also had a few miniature chocolate peanut butter cups Mom brought back from her first trip to Trader Joe’s Chicago back in September.

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Tonight’s dinner was requested by Chris.  I told him I had ground beef and pork chops and asked him what he wanted for dinner.  He requested chili.  And of course with this chilly weather, I obliged with his request.  Using jarred tomato basil sauce and the recipe on the back of the chili powder I made the chili with a few adjustments.  I’ve made this twice before and Chris thoroughly enjoys it.

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 Chili Recipe (my changes in parentheses)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. olive oil (added)

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. cumin, ground

1 tsp. salt (more added to taste)

cayenne pepper to taste (added)

2 tbsp. honey (substituted this for sugar)

1 1/2 cup tomato basil sauce (substituted this for 8 oz. canned, plain sauce)

2 tbsp. ketchup (added)

1 1/2 cup water (original called for 1 cup)

1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (added)

Optional toppings: pita chip crumbs, greek yogurt, cheese (added)

Directions:  Heat oil in large saucepan.  Saute’ onions, garlic, and beef until browned.  Drain any excess liquid.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Cook on medium low for 30 minutes.  Plate and top with desired toppings.

I ate my chili with a dollop of 0% greek yogurt and some multigrain pita crumbs. (I knew I saved that bag of crumbs for a reason.)

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This chili recipe is super simple, super filling, and super comforting especially when the cold winter air is in full swing.

What is your “go to” cold weather meal?