Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shakin' Things Up

Today while I was making my dinner, I came up with a solution for helping you eat better. My theory for why we crave unhealthy foods is that we get bored. Then our mind wanders to foods higher in fat, sugar and salt to satisfy the boredom. These foods excite more of our palate. But guess what else does? Something new! Something different! FLAVOR! Spice! New ingredients!

For example, instead of buying the pre-made turkey burger patties, buy ground turkey and make your own patties. Add spices, flavorings, and herbs. Tonight we had cilantro, sauteed onion, jalapeno, and applesauce burgers with a splash of Worcestershire. Other times we've added mushroom, thyme, and cumin. Or instead of regular old grilled chicken, make a new marinade. My go to is lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, a bit of sugar, and garlic. Next time you plan to make chili, think of taking it for a spin with Thai flavors. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cilantro, and peanut butter (add the PB right at the end to keep the flavors). Make a new spice rub for pork chops or fish with ground ginger, cumin, cayenne, white pepper, ground sage, salt and pepper. Marinate your pork chops in orange juice, garlic, olive oil and soy sauce. Take regular old rice or quinoa and add flavor with lime and cilantro. Mix leftover grains with frozen peas, chopped carrots and onions, scrambled egg and soy sauce to make a fried rice on the fly. Make a pasta sauce by pureeing grated onion and butternut squash or mix Greek yogurt and Parmesan with Italian herbs for a healthier spin on an Alfredo sauce.

All this excitement doesn't even touch salads. If there was a salad award, I would win it. I have an uncanny ability to turn a salad into an entire meal by adding a protein, beans, grain, specialty toppings, and of course vegetables. My salad tomorrow is grilled chicken thighs, kale, arugula, olives, grapes, goat cheese, chickpeas, broccoli, and guacamole with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for a dressing. Another great dressing is using different salsas. I had black bean salsa last night and it was amazing. I will have it with these awesome Doctor Kracker flatbreads that are more wholesome and filling than bread or crackers. Usually my
salad as some leftover quinoa on top but we didn't have in made. I also like to add cottage cheese and peas, but didn't tonight because I did last week. When a salad has all these ingredients and is paired with some crackers, bread, and/or fruit on the side it can be hearty and delicious. So next time you're packing your lunch, try a salad with a bean, mixture of cooked and raw veggies, cheese/nut/avocado, meat or cottage cheese, different types of lettuce, and fruit. Trust me on this one - every time I bring a salad to work or eat one in public, I get jealous stares and comments. I will make you a salad if you offer a good price.

My challenge to you the next time you go to the grocery store is to buy a new 1) vegetable, 2) fresh herb, and 3) spice. If you need some more guidance, start with 1) butternut squash, 2) thyme or cilantro, and 3) smoked paprika. If you don't have ideas about how to use your new ingredient off the top of your head, search for a recipe or post to collaborate with other readers and me. I'd love to hear about your new experiences!

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