Archive for July, 2008

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Crackers Recipe!

July 30, 2008

On Sunday I was planning on going to the beach, but unfortunately that didn’t quite work out. I was considering slugging through the day whining “woe is me!”, but then decided that I’d be more productive and a good deal less annoying if I made crackers instead.

I stumbled upon this recipe from The Kitchen Illiterate some time ago and filed it away as something that I really wanted to try to make in the vague future. Taking a look at it this past weekend, I realized that this looked incredibly easy to put together and that I had all the ingredients at hand (I love finding recipes that use normal ingredients that are already in stock in my kitchen). So I took to my kitchen and started mixing the dough!

These crackers are titled “Wholewheat Rosemary Crackers”, and call only for whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, dried rosemary, garlic powder, olive oil, and water. Simple and basic, just the way I like it. She also suggests that you could substitute the rosemary with any other spice, and offers the idea of cumin, so I divided the recipe in half and did half rosemary crackers, half cumin crackers.

I thought that rolling out the dough to be thin enough would be tricky, but it was surprisingly easy to accomplish (or maybe I’ve just gotten good at rolling dough out really thin since I made the tortillas). Cut them into cracker-shaped squares, popped them in the oven to bake (using my beloved parchment paper instead of oiling the pan, of course!), and took them out about 20 minutes later.

And: they worked! Not only do they look just like the ones in the photos over at The Kitchen Illiterate, but these crackers were gobbled up by everyone I offered them to (I personally prefer the rosemary ones but the cumin ones taste good with curry). They’re alright on their own, but having a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top of a cracker is my favourite way to eat these. They’d also be good dipped in hummus or any other kinds of salsas and dips.

I think that my family’s store bought cracker days are over. From now on, it’ll be homemade crackers! And the best part is that you can use any spice you want to give these crackers a unique flavour each time you make them. If you’re really creative and clever with spices you could probably mix different spices together to make one very special little cracker.

Go now, get to your kitchen, and whip up a batch of crackers. Eat ’em with cheese and a glass of wine. It’s the middle of the week, you deserve a nice little treat to make it to the weekend!

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Lists and Arms Exercise: Action!

July 28, 2008

More and more lately I have found myself becoming restless and a touch stir-crazy. During these summer months in between the school year, I really lack a proper routine. Working part-time has the benefit of leaving plenty of time for me to play, read and write, see friends, experiment with cooking, and explore my fitness limits. But without any real routine, it is harder to keep myself accountable and keep on top of all of these things. It is too easy to wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed and munch on whatever food I can find before wandering between a book and my laptop, trying to decide what I should do with my day. There’s lots of things that I need to do, and should do, but “there’s always later”.

Today Cammy wrote a really great post at The Tippy Toe Diet about not only making a list of things to do (I adore making lists), but also tacking on beside each item just how long it will take to accomplish each of them. For example, today, part of my list might look something like this:

– Walk to travel agency for ISIC and walk back home: 50-60 minutes
– Make whole wheat buns for lunches: 20 minutes for total prep work
– Tidy/vacuum room and organize my crazily disordered and teetering bookshelf: 15 minutes

Looking at that now, its not that difficult to accomplish those things. I can easily do all of that this afternoon and still have some time to relax and read in addition to doing some abs work (crunches have been falling by the wayside of late and I gotta get back on that). In fact, lets add that to the list right now:

– Read “The Watchmen” (I know, a graphic novel? But I’ve never read one before, and I figure I’ve got to try everything once): while the buns are rising/baking
– Abs exercises: 10 minutes

This is shaping up to be a pretty good day!

Everything Arms

It seems as though most of us bloggers have an obsession with toning up our arms. Hence the pull up craze and push up challenge. How are you all doing for the push up challenge, anyway? Feeling stronger? I know that I am! The first time I tried to do Week Six I collapsed halfway through (literally. I would have laughed at the time but I was so out of breath that all I could do was lie unmoving on my floor, trying to will that glass of water to come to me), so I am doing Week Five again. But I’ve only got a couple weeks left before I leave for my travels, so I really need to buckle down and work my little butt off to complete this challenge! I don’t really fancy belting out 100+ push ups on the floor of some youth hostel with everyone else in the room watching me in amusement as my face gets redder and redder until I finally collapse in a rubbery-armed heap on the ground. And I can only imagine the consequences if I tried to attempt these same push ups in a train… although that would be a good way to work on improving my balance…

And whatever happened to the pull ups, you ask? Pull ups seem to be a lot more difficult than push ups, which is why, I think, they have become neglected by just about everyone. I know that I stopped attempting them a few weeks ago. But, yesterday I happened upon a playground and couldn’t resist giving it another shot. Well, I guess all of these push ups are really paying off, because wouldn’t you know it but I easily did 3 pull ups in a row, with as much nonchalance as my sister did the first time I ever tried to impress her with my spectacular failure of a pull up! It made me ecstatic beyond belief to realize how much stronger I’m getting with every passing day.

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Dehydrating Food: Rounds Two and Three

July 25, 2008

The Banana Chips

If you can recall, one of my great ambitions with the dehydrator was to make banana chips. Come to think of it, I’m not sure exactly why. I just always see them at the store and they often seem to find their way into trail mixes, but I’d never tried them. I thought that they would be great!

Hm. Not so much.

I did follow the instructions correctly. I even made half of them plain, and half of them with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top to be all adventurous. And I let them dry for the required amount of time, true to the book.

But the taste! I love bananas. I love frozen bananas and banana bread and bananas in my oatmeal and banana pancakes. Bananas with peanut butter. Bananas in fruit salad. Banana splits. Bananas in smoothies.

You get the point. Bananas, in my book, are great (although things that are banana flavored, like candies and medicine? YUCK. I hate banana flavored things. But real bananas are yummy). Dried bananas, in my book, are not. I suppose its the concentrated flavors that just taste odd to me. They are so sugary when dried that it just about hurt my teeth. And thats just the plain dried bananas (you can imagine how sickeningly sweet the sugar and cinnamon bananas are).

Luckily I managed to pawn some of these disappointing banana chips onto my family- if you live with me, you have the unfortunate guinea pig status of obliging me by tasting all the food I make. So I don’t think I’ll be making these banana chips again, but I’m happy that I tried them out, at least.

Beef Jerky

The beef jerky was a whole other story! After soaking the jerky (thinly sliced round steak) all day in a marinade of 3 parts soy sauce, 1 part brown sugar and 1 part liquid smoke, I placed each piece onto the dehydrator trays and let them dry overnight. By morning, the strips had turned a crispy black and were thoroughly dried. Tasty and delicious! Normally I’m not the type of person to go out and buy myself jerky, but this beef jerky was really fantastic. It was gone within two days and everyone who tried it loved it.

I’m so glad that the beef jerky turned out so successfully in addition to the dried apple pieces that I made before. These are both going to be frequenting my kitchen all the time now!

But amidst drying beef and apples, I want to experiment with drying other foods too. What do you all think? I’m considering trying nectarines. But I’ve never been a big dried fruit eater in the past, so I’m uncertain as to which foods will yield the best results (especially after the banana chip failure:)). If you’ve got any recommendations or suggestions I’d love to hear them!

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Deconstructing Salads

July 23, 2008

Most people look really freaked out when I say that I prefer salad without the dressing. Sometimes at restaurants I won’t even order the dressing on the side; I’ll just ask for no dressing whatsoever. When we have salads at home, I request that we don’t mix the dressing in the salad so that I can have my veggies plain, or with just a hint of the dressing.

It is not entirely the health aspect, although that does play a part. In restaurants, I don’t even begin to want to think about the heavy hand that drenches my salad in sauce, and the high fatty/salty/sugary etc ingredients in that dressing. But at home, we always have homemade dressings, usually ones from the LooneySpoons cookbook or an equally healthy dressing. And even those ones, I don’t want someone out to dole the dressing onto my salad.

Perhaps its partly the control issue. I like knowing exactly whats going into my food and I like to be the one to put it all together. But even if that is part of it, the other big issue for me is that I simply enjoy the taste of a variety of fresh vegetables. I love the combination of their flavors and to me, a dressing should enhance those vegetables, not drown them out. I know that a lot of people don’t enjoy veggies and thats why they’ll coat them in sauces so that they don’t have to taste the vegetables, but I want to taste them. That’s why I like just a hint of dressing on my vegetables.

Surprisingly, it took me a while to figure that out. Here I was, ordering Caesar salads with the dressing on the side for months and being disappointed with the results- and not understanding why I was so disappointed. Well, no wonder! A Caesar salad is just romaine lettuce with croutons (if you’re lucky, they’ll at least be homemade croutons), sometimes a bit of grilled chicken, and loads of dressing slathered over the whole thing. When you take the dressing away, it’s pretty darn boring. If you’re ordering Caesar salad, you’re not going to enjoy it without at least some of the dressing. So months ago I stopped ordering the “safe” and bland romaine lettuce-and-boxed-croutons choice. Now I like the spinach salads with chicken, the salads with cranberries and feta cheese, and the steak salads. No dressing required for any of those.

But a salad can still be wonderful without the dressing. In fact, that is the art of a good salad. When you can have it dressing-free and be pleasantly satisfied with that. A salad can have just about anything in it- you can mix and match countless vegetables and fruits and cheeses, add in shrimp or strips of beef or chicken, throw on some nuts or chickpeas, and you’ve got a fantastically flavorful plate. No dressing required. A little dressing is still nice, but to me, its not a good salad if I need more than a teaspoon of dressing on it. And usually if I add dressing I’m only going to add about 1/2 tsp. It’s all thats necessary.

Got a salad combo that you love? Whats your opinion on dressings? Share!

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Book Review: "Don’t Eat This Book" by Morgan Spurlock

July 21, 2008

How great are the bargain sections in bookstores? I picked this book up for about $3 because the back cover has a very slight tear in the corner. Considering how often I spill food on books/drop them/fold them inconsiderately, a little tear doesn’t do much to worry me. Especially not when the book is of the health variety!

Morgan Spurlock is the “producer, director, and guinea pig” of the documentary Super Size Me (I’m SURE you all remember the controversy that the film sparked!). This book is a sort of follow-up to that movie, with a focus on the schemes involved in the marketing business and the effects that it has on kids. He discusses the connections between tobacco companies and fast food chains, and provides detailed research information on various studies that have been conducted. He also talks about his experiences with Super Size Me, so its interesting to read about what happened even more so behind the scenes of that movie and the days and months following the making of the film. His tone, especially when peppered with anecdotal evidence and hard facts regarding the changes in our society, is a very comfortable one. This is the kind of book that you can pick up, read a couple pages, and then set down again to wander off in search of a snack. You can return hours or days later, read a few more pages/chapters/half the book, and then wander off again. Sometimes I find that health books can be very heavy and written in an intense voice, requiring some concentration or at least a certain mindset in order to process and understand the information given. They can become tedious if the writer isn’t all that engaging, and in an effort to be as professional as possible the author can occasionally get carried away with a more literature-based voice (which, if you aren’t in the mood for it, can be rather tiresome).

Luckily, Spurlock’s book isn’t of that variety, and it is instead a breezy read that will grab everyones attention. If you’re trying to convince someone of the dangers of junk food or the appalling practices of marketing schemes, all you have to do is flip open this book to virtually any page and hand it over. You’ll convince them pretty quick of the validity of your argument!

I would love to provide you with some short quotes from the book, but to be honest, as I was reading I couldn’t choose from all of the information that he presents to the reader. Every page is filled with fascinating information and really engaging ideas that its impossible to make a choice between them. Among other things, he talks about the state of medical schools and doctors’ lack of nutrition knowledge, the state of our education systems and the efforts to reel children in to fast food at an early age, the history of the fast food industry and the global issues involved with obesity issues and food distribution. He also brings to attention how celebrities and even Olympic events are sponsored by companies such as McDonalds, and the ridiculous contradictions involved with these people selling out in this way.

I sincerely enjoyed this book, especially for all of the snippets of info that Spurlock offers. You can really just open this book on any page to learn some random fact. Its a good introduction piece to getting started into reading health books or if you are just starting to learn about nutrition. Even if you do know a thing or two about nutrition, its a great eye-opener and its really interesting how it delves into the history behind restaurants and processed food in our society. This is a leisurely sort of read if you aren’t interested in anything too heavy, and if Super Size Me intrigued you, then this will be ideal for you.

What books will you be reading this week? What books have you read recently that were really good?

Happy reading!

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What’s the Rush?

July 18, 2008

It seems as though traffic is getting worse with every passing day. People are impatient. We need to get places, and we need to get there now. Never mind that we left the house a little bit late; what’s with the traffic holding us up? What kind of stupid driver drives that slowly when its a 70 zone? And for the love of God, is it entirely necessary that such-and-such a driver cuts me off/doesn’t turn on their signal/beeps the horn/screeches on the brakes/makes ridiculously wide or tight turns?

Driving has lost its pizazz and finesse. It’s now a frustration of daily life; the art has been crudely taken out as everyone steers wildly and seemingly forgets the simple courtesies of the road. And every driver has something to complain about, between gas prices and construction work on the street and lights burning out and other drivers on the road- we’re all a cranky bunch (although not in a good Cranky Fitness kind of way- maybe if we had a cupcake we’d be a friendly cranky bunch, too?).

There’s a few things that I don’t really understand about driving, most of which are things which I myself am guilty of as well:

I don’t understand why we all speed. It’s not worth it; you might get to your destination about a minute earlier but you’ve also likely endangered the lives of yourself and everyone else in the street. Not only that, but theres a good chance you’ve racked up yourself a nice littleBIG speeding ticket.

I don’t understand why we creep forward when the lights haven’t changed. For bikers, I can understand- you want to get ahead of the traffic and not slow down any drivers who might be turning in your direction (and if there’s no one driving crossways from you, then theres no chance of getting hit or in the way so its really to everyones benefit if you get a little head start before the vehicle traffic). But for drivers? Why do you creep forward? You’re not saving yourself time because you’re going to get caught at another light or get stuck behind another car. It’s not a race with the person in the lane beside you. Trust me, their little sports car can outdo what you’ve got. And you’d better believe it can, because if they can afford that luxury sports car then they can also afford the hefty speeding tickets that come along with the showing off (unless you bought your sports car as the result of a midlife crisis and can’t really afford the car- but then, you’re probably not the type of person to go about racing your car).

I don’t understand why we all hate bikers and pedestrians. Sure, sometimes they get in the way, but sometimes they can’t help it. We’ve got to share the road with everyone, and pedestrians do have the right of way- so don’t snarl at them just because they’re crossing the street. Remember that they’re dealing with weather conditions, whereas you’re in your fancy car with air conditioning/heat/a roof.

I don’t understand why we all hate other drivers. Oh wait. It’s because we all drive like idiots.

I don’t understand why we all drive like idiots. Why the road rage? Why the incessant need to get places NOWNOWNOW? Why the lack of gratitude waves and turning signals? Why the excessive horn honking and rude gesturing and exasperated complaints?

Everyones in a rush. Why don’t we all slow down and take a time out? Instead of rushing your way through traffic, weaving in and out of cars and muttering under your breath like a crazy person, watch the speed limit and drive it. Stop at stop signs and lights. Follow the rules of the road and let people go in front of you like the friendly, generous person you are. And if someone gives you one of their dirty, pissed-off looks, smile and wave cheerily. Because you’re not going to be putting anyones life in danger, and you’re not going to be getting into an accident. And because you’re driving carefully and safely, you’ve likely got the good sense to leave a couple minutes earlier so you’ll make it to where you want to be on time.

It’s pretty easy. Be polite and courteous to your fellow drivers, to pedestrians and bikers, to officers and tow truck people, to wildlife crossing the street. Don’t drive under the influence (its appalling how many people put everyone at risk in this stupid way). Don’t multi-task with reading maps/eating food/texting on the cell phone.

Then again, we’re a cranky bunch, us drivers. So if its possible, the best way to avoid all of the above silliness is to simply avoid driving! Get in a little exercise, save money and/or lend the environment a helping hand by taking a bike, public transit, or walking. The time it takes to bike/bus/walk won’t be that much longer when you factor in the slowness of traffic and difficulty in finding a parking spot. And you’ll even get the added benefit of not needing to deal with the stress of driving a vehicle. Now that is the way to do it!

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Mmm, burned food!

July 17, 2008

It was with great excitement that our old dehydrator was re-discovered whilst combing through our storage unit! Visions of beef jerky and banana chips danced in my head and yesterday I tried it out for the first time, using apple ring slices and chopped up celery.

I had hopes that the celery would turn into some kind of vegetable chip (gotta be honest here: while I don’t dislike celery, its not exactly top of my list when it comes to taste. So if I can find some way to make it more appealing, I’m going for it), but as per my nature I conveniently wandered away from the dehydrator and didn’t wander back until some six hours or so had passed. By that point the celery resembled crinkled up burnt (green) paper, the kind that you might find when your campfire goes out. Not particularly the most appetizing, and after a brief taste-test I learned that it really wasn’t the most tasty, either. And then my dad kindly explained to me that the purpose of drying celery is more for soups than to eat as a snack. I think that the dehydrator manual should include an explanation of the purpose of drying the various fruits and veggies for people like me:)

However, the apple slices turned out beautifully! I only used the one apple but I’d use more next time. They really did look just like store-bought dried apples. And they taste marvelous. So all in all the dehydrator experiment was a success, and now that I’ve discovered how quick and easy it is I’m sure I’ll be testing just about every food I can get my hands on to see what tastes best.

My other experiment yesterday was to make roti- I sincerely love curry and especially roti, so I wanted to try making my own thin roti bread to wrap the curry in. Unfortunately the recipe I chose seemed to be under the impression that roti is more of a naan bread than a thin wrap, so now I have three pita bread-esque rounds of “roti” and three very thin, brittle crisp bread-esque “roti”. I tried rolling out the last three very thinly to make it more roti-like, but instead it just became brittle like a burned pappadam (I had the same problem of becoming bored during the baking process and wandered away, not watching to see if I’d overcooked it. Oops).

I think that the last three attempts at roti will be going straight into the bin but I might try one of the softer breads tonight with dinner. Perhaps I will even have some curry along with it, as was the plan.

To top off my interesting day of experimentation, and because I hadn’t made too big of a disastrous mess in the kitchen (gasp!), it was necessary for some kind of mishap to occur in the way of a clumsy act. Right on cue as I was just getting ready for bed, I somehow managed to drop the glass jar that I use for my homemade sugar scrub onto a tile floor. Luckily the jar was almost completely empty, but even so it smashed everywhere. Miraculously, none of the tiles broke! But it was a pain to clean up. It did, however, make my mum quite pleased because the jar that I was using had been a mayonnaise jar- “hurray now we get to buy more junk food so you can have another jar!”.

But I’m sure that an empty peanut butter jar will do just fine:)

Anyone else use a dehydrator and care to share some tips with the rest of us amateurs? Also does anyone happen to have a real roti recipe? Please spill!

By the way, I also tried quinoa for the first time! (I might have tried it once before, but if so it was a teensy tiny taste and I don’t really remember it). It was delicious. We used it instead of rice for our Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes, and I can’t wait to try it again in all kinds of recipes. It’s wonderful to discover new foods. Also, regarding the Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes: this second time that we made it with the quinoa, we also completely eliminated all of the oil it calls for because ground lamb is rather a fatty and greasy meat. The oil wasn’t necessary at all and the meal tasted, if possible, even better. So if you’re going to give the recipe a shot, try it with no oil (and maybe quinoa instead of rice)!

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Make Your Foods Super!

July 15, 2008

We’re a healthy blog over here, so finding healthy recipes is one of my top priorities. Something that I think is fun to do is to find as many different books/websites as I can get my little paws on and find the healthiest recipes among them. Even from “restrictive” diets, like vegan or fad diets, you can find some decent recipes (note to all vegans: not saying that your diet is at all on par with the fad dieting phenomenon. Just that its very limited in terms of what you can eat). Its the same with trying to eat according to different cultures and religions; you can find all sorts of super recipes from different places even if the values of the diet aren’t necessarily something you agree with.

Rice almost always tops the list. In the past couple days I must have found a dozen Cajun Rice recipes featured as a staple for a ton of different diets. And once you start looking into these kinds of patterns and see the same sorts of recipes cropping up time and time again, we can learn more about a) what kinds of foods we especially adore and therefore try to convert into a healthier meal; and b) which foods are overall considered a health food and important to our way of eating.

Consider the Superfoods. You’ll see them everywhere, in just about every dieting book and in every article trying to explain how you can up the nutrient content of your next meal. Plus, most of them are of the Supertasty variety as well (I’m still in shock from that one time years ago that I found out a friend doesn’t like blueberries. Is that even possible?!).

No one wants to eat stuff they won’t enjoy, and thats part of the real value of Superfoods. They have the appeal of being versatile and easy to incorporate into foods as well as having lots of flavor. And if you still don’t like that SuperFood, there’s the SuperSidekicks you can choose from so you can still get a ton of nutrients out of a food you enjoy. And periodically, it doesn’t hurt to try out a food again, several months or a year after you originally tasted it and disliked it. Our taste buds change over time, and no doubt you’ll discover at least one healthy food that you will fall in love with, even if you disliked it whole-heartedly before (some of mine include tomatoes, salmon, spinach… actually, the list could go on quite extensively. I’m sure I caused my parents many a headache as a picky-eater of a kid. Now they get headaches from me nagging at them for us to eat more healthy foods).

Have your tastes changed drastically of late? My challenge for you today (or tomorrow, if you don’t have time to go to the store today), is to find one healthy food that you’ve tried in the past and disliked. Buy it and find a recipe that sounds like it could be tasty with that food in it, make the meal and see how it goes. You might get a very pleasant surprise!

Also, as an aside: I love almonds but usually don’t buy them because I know I’ll eat handfuls in one sitting. But a little while ago I mustered up the courage to buy a container of almonds to see if I could control myself. I was amazed at how filling they can be and how much energy they give me for my workouts! I still might eat a couple too many, but I try to pay attention to how many of them I’m eating so that I don’t overeat by huge amounts. Anyway, the concluding tip is thus: if you’re looking for a good energizing snack and way to ward off the hunger for a time, munch on some almonds. It really does work!

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Cookbook Review: "The Healthy Carbs Diabetes Cookbook"

July 12, 2008

A short while ago I was offered this cookbook and asked to try some recipes and review them. And of course I was only too happy to oblige! After testing four recipes and carefully scrutinizing the book, I am happy to say that my conclusions have been all drawn up regarding this cookbook. And please note that although I did get this copy for free, I have been keeping my viewpoint as objective as possible to give you the most accurate review of it.

The Critique

I’m not diabetic, and no one in my family is either. But that doesn’t really matter, because although the recipes offered in this book are for diabetics, they’re all geared toward health in general, so anyone can benefit from them. The book itself has a very nice, easy-to-read font in a large enough size that you don’t have to strain your neck to read the instructions as you make your meal. There are little cooking and nutrition tips alongside each recipe with useful advice such as adding cayenne pepper to add a bit of spice to one curry dish, and which type of tofu is the best to use in a teriyaki tofu recipe. And my favorite part about the layout is that all of the nutrition information is clearly stated! I love a cookbook that shows the nutrition information.

The whole book is in black and white with only a couple pictures, but it falls open fairly easily to the desired page and its the kind of book that can be in the kitchen right there with you (which is good for a messy someone like me. I wouldn’t dream of bringing a Nigella Lawson book into the kitchen while I’m making her food!).

So what about the recipes themselves? Well, to be honest I was incredibly disappointed at first at the sheer number of recipes that require either mayonnaise (unhealthy, processed food) and Splenda (again, unhealthy and artificial). But, Splenda can be replaced with real sugar, and mayonnaise can be homemade, so this problem could be fixed. I went through the book and my family and I chose four dishes to make (all of them using natural, real ingredients:

Marinated Caprese Salad (we ate it with steak, peas, and mushrooms)

Turkey Gyros

Green Italian Tuna Salad

Indian Lamb-stuffed Tomatoes

They were all delicious. Not one of these recipe disappointed, and we were all in agreement that we would definitely want to make them again. The Caprese Salad was really refreshing for a hot summer day, and the Turkey Gyros tasted impressively just like the gyros that I had in Istanbul! The Italian Tuna Salad is delicious with a loaf of French bread, and the Lamb-stuffed Tomatoes were out of this world.

Don’t want to just take my word for it? Then here’s one of the recipes for you to try out! I’ve chosen the Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes to share because its very unique and I’d never had anything quite like it before. It was a bit too greasy and oily for my liking, but we think that if you cook the lamb before adding it to the other ingredients and drain it then it would be a little less greasy. Also you probably don’t need to use quite as much oil as it calls for, but that might be my own personal taste. Don’t like ground lamb? Try ground beef or turkey instead! I’m sure it would work just as well. We had smaller tomatoes so we ate two each and that was a good amount, but if you can find big enough tomatoes that would probably work out just fine. Also it would probably be nice with some crusty bread on the side (it was only 2 of us eating so we just ate the tomatoes with nothing else for dinner).

*Note about this recipe: it states that the Prep Time is 5 minutes, but thats deceiving, because you need to cook the rice and everything. In all, the whole recipe takes about an hour including baking time. It might have been better if this cookbook calculated total time for making the recipe rather than just the 5 minutes of throwing the ingredients together, and it looks as though the other recipes are set up in similar fashion. So if you do buy this book and try out the recipes, just remember to read through it all first to calculate the time for yourself more accurately!

Indian Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes

Serves 6; Serving size: 1 tomato.

Ingredients
6 large, firm tomatoes (each 3-3 1/2 inches in diameter)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 lbs ground lamb
1/2 cup reduced-sodium, fat-free beef broth
1 tbsp curry powder
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut off top third of tomatoes; chop tops and reserve. Scoop out seeds, juice, and pulp from tomatoes and discard.
2. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add lamb and saute until browned, about 7 minutes. Add chopped tomato tops, broth, curry powder, 2 tbsp parsley, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in cooked rice.
3. Place tomatoes in a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Spoon lamb mixture into the tomatoes. Sprinkle each tomato with Parmesan cheese and remaining parsley.
4. Bake about 25 minutes or until cheese begins to turn golden brown.

Nutrition Info
235 Calories (110 from fat)
12 g fat (3.4 g saturated)
50 mg cholesterol
195 mg sodium
16 g total carbohydrates
3 g dietary fiber
6 g sugar
17 g protein

If you’re interested in learning more about this cookbook, check out the reviews that these two wonderful bloggers wrote for it: Fitarella and Nutrition Fitness Life. Enjoy!

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Links for Body Confidence and Self-Exams

July 10, 2008

Normally I don’t pay all that much attention to the world of celebrities, but yesterday I came across this site, and its now one of my favorites! Healthy Hollywood treats these celebrities like real people and shows how awesome some of them are with their fitness and nutrition regimes. I particularly love this entry about Jennifer Lopez in a bikini, mere months after giving birth to twins. That’s real confidence, considering the amount of cruel publicity that celebrities can get about how they look. Kudos to Jennifer Lopez for doing this!

When I first saw this next site, and saw that it was labeled 10 Stars over Size 2, I was kind of wary. After all, size 2?! They could only find 10 celebrities that are over a size 2? And what would they be, maybe a size 4? But then I took a proper look at this slideshow and I knew I had to show it to all of you because its so encouraging. I’ve always adored Scarlett Johansson but I think my favorite image in this slideshow is of Chandra Wilson (by the way, how awesome was she on Grey’s Anatomy?! Before the show started to go all lame and overly dramatic, that is). And check out what they say about Penelope Cruz: “Although we’re not entirely sure she isn’t bigger than a size two, at least she embraces her natural figure”. Love that.

And this link is an important one that probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves- I’ve got a history of cancer running in my family so my doctor recently told me that I should be doing regular breast self-exams. That’s all very well, but what exactly constitutes such a self-exam? Health.com supplies a good explanation of what to look out for, so check it out, regardless of whether you’ve got cancer running in the family. We might as well take care of ourselves now, before anything becomes problematic, than wait until its too late. Preventative measures are far better than needing to find a cure for something!