Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Linguine with Broccoli and Peas

I made this dish for dinner last night, and my pasta loving daughter kept asking for more broccoli.  I had to sort through the pasta to dig out broccoli spears for my toddler; I was more than pleased with that!  Even better, this came together in 30 minutes using a pot, and my food processor.  Love it!

One box of whole wheat linguine
head of broccoli cut into bite size spears
bag of frozen peas
1/2 cup plus one tbs of natural peanut butter
3 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs lite soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Boil water in a large pot.  Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta.  About 7 minutes before the pasta will be ready, add the broccoli to the pot.  Three minutes later, add the peas.

Meanwhile, put all other ingredients into the food processor.  Process until smooth.

Combine the dressing with the pasta, broccoli, and peas in a large bowl, and toss well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Convenience Foods That Are NOT Worth It

Previously, I wrote a blog about the packaged foods that I consider useful, healthy, and inexpensive.  This  post is just the opposite, where I will spend my time writing about convenience foods that I do not buy, for health or budget purposes.
Most of the local grocery store is full of ready to eat, fast cooking menu choices.  However, convenience usually comes at a high price, whether we are talking nutrition or your wallet.  Of course, you can buy Ramen Noodles for ten cents, cook them in two minutes, and eat them almost anywhere; but what are you really getting out of it?
I have read self help articles on dieting, and one tip is to only shop the perimeter of your supermarket.  However, I find this advice to be foolish, since there are nutritious packaged foods in the aisles.  Rather than skip over every shelf, use good judgement before purchasing a food or drink, and know what the labels mean.
Here are some items I do not buy, and the reasons why they are on my list:

Pre-cut produce - This is obviously a budget concious decision, since fruits and vegetables are super good for you.  If I had money to throw around, I might re-consider this one due to the convenience.  The prices are usually super marked up, and with a little extra time on my part, an unnecessary expense in my eyes.

Salad dressing - It is easy to make healthy, delicious dressing; and it literally can take one minute to make a simple salad topper.  (1/4 cup of red wine or balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 Tbls Dijon mustard, shake well in a glass jar)  The healthy fats in the olive oil help to absorb the vitamins and nutrients in the vegetables, and you are not ingesting the million unnecessary ingredients in the store bought bottles.

Baby food - I rarely used this aisle for my daughter.  Making your own baby food is easy and cost effective. Simply cook food until tender, and puree in a food processor.  If you would like some recipes I used, just ask!

Dinner in a box - To me, anything in powder form that claims itself as a complete family meal should be considered false advertising.  Unless you are going into space on a shuttle, there is no reason in the world to eat food that is so far away from it's original form.  Just make a sandwich.

Frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - Really?  How hard is it to make a PB & J?

Frozen dinners - I am referring to meals that come in mini cardboard containers and get zapped in the microwave.  Just read the label.  There is a novel of ingredients, mostly unrecognizable, and the nutritional value is virtually irrelevant to humans.  I admit, there are times grabbing a Lean Cuisine is helpful, but do not make it a habit.  That is not healthy or cheap!

Instant Potatoes - If making potatoes is too hard or too time consuming, just buy frozen potatoes with minimal ingredients.

Lunch Kits - I only have one word, "ew."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Crock pot Rice and Beans

This is one of my favorite dishes to make in a slow cooker.  Super easy, no fuss, and yummy too!
When I make this, I fill up the crock pot and cook a ridiculous amount.  The leftovers can either be frozen into portions, or used for lunch the rest of the week.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

1 large Spanish onion chopped
8 cloves of minced garlic
4 bell peppers (various colors) chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (black or pinto)
dash of hot sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano

3-4 cups cooked rice (I use brown rice)

Combine everything into a large crock pot except the rice.  Mix well.  Cook for about 6 hours.  Before serving, mix rice into bean mixture.

*Sometimes I will add meat to this dish, it makes my husband happy when I do.  I have used sausage, chicken, ground beef, and leftover cooked rib meat.