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Posts Tagged ‘Grains’

Well, hi there.  I hope everyone is doing well!  Can you believe tomorrow is already Friday?!  This week seems to have flown by … I hope the same is true for all of you.

Jumping right in, this week’s Craving Ellie selection was chosen by yours truly.  Me, myself and … Devin.  Yep, that’s right.  I allowed him a vote during the selection process since he would be consuming it right alongside me.

After a few weeks of delicious sweets, I thought it would be a good time to break out the savory.  This dish hit the spot perfectly.  Chock full of flavorful veggies, whole grain rice and zippy Asian flavors, this dish is sure to make mouths happy.  I’m actually still smiling. 😀

 

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu

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The original recipe can be found on page 176 of Ellie’s The Food You Crave cookbook.  Here is my modified version …

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. EVOO, divided
  • 4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp. ground ginger (or 1 tbsp. peeled/minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cooked + cooled long grain brown rice
  • 3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen/thawed corn kernels
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

**NOTE** The original recipe called for garlic and finely diced red pepper, which I chose to eliminate completely.

Preparation:

Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Add scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 – 2 minutes.  Add the rice, edamame, corn and tofu.  Cook mixture, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice.  Add the remaining 1/2 tsp. oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly scrambled.  Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add the soy sauce and incorporate throughout.  Serve hot.

 

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I can tell you that this was an instant hit in our house and it will be joining our “Favorite Meals” list.  We normally think of Fried Rice as a splurge food, but this healthy version made us feel like we were not only getting the goods, but also plenty of nutrition.  Another bonus is the endless options for modifications if a certain craving strikes … chicken, shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc. would all be fabulous additions.

Ok, I’m off like a dirty shirt.  It’s our favorite night for TV … both Gray’s and CSI are back.  Finally.  It seems like forever since we’ve had a new episode to watch.

Tomorrow’s Friday … sleep in just a little bit.  It will make your day a little brighter!  Ciao!

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Lucky Toes

Good Morning!  Hope all is well and dandy.  I took the night off from blogging last night to spend some time with my boo.  Since the holiday hustle and bustle, it seems like we haven’t had many chances to sit down and relax … just the two of us.  Plus, his toe nails were looking like talons yet again and, being the fabulous wife that I am, I went to work, nail file in hand. 

 

Warmed granola with sliced banana, flax, soy and TJ's Cranberry Apple Butter

B: Warmed granola with sliced banana, flax, soy and a drizzle of TJ's Cranberry Apple Butter

 

Now, if you are curious as to why he can’t trim his own toe nails, see this post here.  He does more harm than good, so I just took over this daunting chore.  I was even able to get mine trimmed and buffed, all ready for a fresh polish.  While I was working away like a busy bee, we tuned into our latest Netflix arrival, Tropic Thunder, with Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jack Black

 

Impromptu lunch date with my hunny and in-laws at my fave place, Jason's Deli

L: Impromptu lunch date with my hunny and in-laws at my fave place, Jason's Deli

 

My opinion … don’t waste your time.  If you’ve seen it and liked it, please no hate.  Just not my cuppa tea.  It did have a very few quirky moments, but that was about it.  The funniest character in the movie was played by Tom Cruise, bald and wearing a fat suit, as a crazed movie producer.  Good thing I was focused on 20 toes during the movie, or I probably would’ve high-tailed it up to bed.  Ha!

We finally had our lucky New Year’s meal for dinner last night.  I added rice and tomatoes to the peas and ham this time around and it turned out great. 

The South is also known for a dish called Hoppin’ John, which is a mix of rice and BE peas, so I went off that idea.

 

Lucky Rice with Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with jalapenos, with juice reserved
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice, cooked

Preparation:

With a small amount of oil in a skillet, saute onions until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.  Add ham and continue to cook for for 5 minutes.  Add peas, tomatoes and rice to pan; stir well and cook for 5 additional minutes.  Add reserved juice from tomatoes (eyeball it) to your desired liking.  This will keep the dish from being mixture from being dry.  Allow to heat thoroughly and serve.  Enjoy!

As for the greens, those were just chopped and thrown in a microwavable steamer with a bit of water, white wine vinegar and seasoning (red pepper + salt.)  Nuked for 2 1/2 minutes, they were perfectly cooked with a little crunch remaining.

 

So, what’s on everyone’s agenda for this Saturday?  As for me, I will be taking down the Christmas trees and the rest of the holiday decorations.  We’ve been using one of the spare bedrooms upstairs as our storage room.  I’m ready to get it cleaned out and all our festive paraphernalia back up into the attic.

Have a fabulous day, ladies and fellas!  😀

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Take A Hike

We’re back!  We had a fabulous day hiking in the North Carolina mountains!  The weather was perfect – the sun was shining, the air smelled crisp and we had good company … each other! ❤

As I mentioned at breakfast, we headed to South Mountains State Park

From the brochure/trail map – “The park includes elevations up to 3,000 feet, a waterfall dropping 80 feet and more than 40 miles of trails.”

We decided to first take the most popular trail, High Shoals Falls Loop, so we could catch a glimpse at the waterfall –

The trail was moderately-strenuous and we had a TON of stairs to climb before and after seeing the gorgeous waterfall –

(Yep, that’s Devin WAY ahead of me!!!)

Once we finished that loop, we had time to hit another trail and decided on the Chestnut Knob Trail – the park’s most strenuous of all.  We made it about a 1/2 mile UP to the Jacob Fork River Gorge overlook before calling it quits on this trail.  Here’s a great tree I spotted along the way –

I’m lovin’ all the great fall color!

As for the trail, we would have been fine going up, but Devin got concerned about the trip back down and I agreed, so we called it a day.  The trail climbed to an elevation of 2,291 and it was pretty rugged and steep.  The short hike back down was not very enjoyable … I’m glad we decided to save this one for another day.  It would definitely be a better trail to start with first when your energy levels are the highest.

We stopped and enjoyed a picnic lunch along the trail.  I didn’t find any “picnic” food in my search of the kitchen earlier, so we stopped at the grocery store and ordered turkey hoagies from the deli.

My sammie had turkey, swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers and pickles on a wheat hoagie

We also grabbed a box of Kashi crackers at the store.  I’ve seen them on so many blogs and I’ve been curious to try them.  My thoughts??  These crackers are really good … almost too good!  They are a bit addicting and I could easily see how you could wolf down the whole box without realizing it! 🙂

 

Once back home, I almost immediately started on dinner … it was that time and we were starving!

Tonight’s meal plan was Chicken with Mushrooms, Carrots, Turnips and Barley

It was quite tasty!  Here’s how I prepared:

(For two)

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces and sprinkled with S & P
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. EVOO, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 turnip root, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp. sherry
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. parsley
  • Parmesan cheese

Cook chicken in 1 tsp. oil until browned and remove from pan.  Add remaining tsp. of oil to pan, add onion and mushrooms, cooking until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add wine, 3/4 cup broth and barley to pan.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Check pan for liquid and if needed, add small amount from remaining.  After 25 minutes, add carrot, turnip, sherry, thyme, parsley and any remaining broth to pan.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in chicken, mushrooms and onions.  Bring heat up to medium and continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

We both really enjoyed this dish – it was hearty enough after our hike, but not at all heavy.  Also, the turnip gave it a nice zing, which I really liked.  Just another great flavor of fall … ahh!

We also had our normal salad –

I got a little spunky and added a couple croutons tonight!  Watch out! 😀

 

So, I got to thinking about my granola this morning after my chocolatey oats – I’ve been out for quite a few days and I miss it!  Hence, I’ve got a batch baking in the oven now!  Be on the lookout for a crunchy bowl tomorrow morning …

 

I’ll wrap it up tonight with a pic of us as we just got started –

 

Sleep tight!

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Back On Track

Hey YA’LL!  A little Southern talk thrown at ya …

I feel so much better after I pounded it out on my treadmill for 40 minutes.  A good sweat always puts me back on track … this world is a much happier place when I run.  Otherwise, look out!! 

 

Dinner tonight was extra yummy, which also helped!

Southwestern Salmon and Quinoa

How I prepared …

Ingredients:

(For two)

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tsp. each chili powder & cumin
  • 1 tsp. EVOO

 

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I also used 1 tbsp. red quinoa for color)
  • Assorted veggies – I used 1 thinly sliced carrot, 1/8 cup chopped onion, 1/3 cup frozen peas, 1/3 cup frozen corn, heaping 2/3 cup black beans
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

For salmon– add 4 cups of water to large skillet and bring to a boil.  Add salmon fillets, skin side up, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until salmon flakes easily.  Remove carefully from skillet with slotted spatula.  Remove skin, rub with EVOO, chili powder and cumin.  Place on baking dish and broil in oven for 2-3 minutes, allowing spices to “melt” into salmon.

For quinoa– add broth, quinoa, spices and any raw veggies to pot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in any additional veggies (this is when I added frozen veggies and black beans) and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. 

You will know when the quinoa is cooked when you can see that the germ has separated from the grain (it looks like a comma.)

Here’s a close-up –

Quinoa is a wonderful grain with many health benefits.  Not only is it super high in protein, it is actually a complete protein, meaning it supplies all nine essential amino acids.  It also supplies a good amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The crazy name is pronounced ‘keen-wa’ – nothing at all like it looks!  It has a slightly-crunchy texture when cooked and the taste is a bit nutty.  I adore it!! 😉

 

We also had our usual salad –

I should mention that I normally sprinkle a small amount of balsamic vinegar on my salads after I take my pictures.  I think the vinegar ruins all the great veggie color!

Tonight we are going to settle in for a marathon TV session … Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy and CSI are all on.  We will most likely hold off on watching Grey’s Anatomy until the weekend.  We took a vote earlier and decided to go with CSI (which is on at the same time as Grey’s) since it is the season’s first episode.  It’s gonna be a good one too!

Have a great night!  The weekend is in sight …

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Magic Touch

This afternoon went by so fast … I wouldn’t mind having a few hours back!  I was out of the house all afternoon and ended up at friends’ house to see their new baby granddaughter!  Her name is Chloe and she is ABSOLUTELY adorable.  She was quite content in my arms and dozed in/out for a good bit of time.  I guess I have the magic touch!  🙂

 

Here’s a picture of her that her proud grandma sent me a few days ago …

Sweet baby girl!

Backing up a bit, on my way out the door this afternoon, I grabbed a Chocolate Mint Builder’s Bar and got hungry for it around 4:30.

This was mid-way through while stopped at a red light –

Dinner tonight was a Chicken & Bulgur Stir Fry.  This was the first time I have used bulgur in this type of dish and I must say that I really enjoyed the texture.  It had a bit of a crunch to it that cooked rice is missing.

The following went into the skillet:

  • 1 cup fresh broccoli
  • 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables for stir fry – which included carrots, snap peas, mushrooms and onions
  • 2 chicken breasts, pre-cooked earlier
  • 1 cup bulgur, frozen/thawed
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 sliced green onions
  • ~1/4 cup chopped water chesnuts

The stir-fry sauce was based on a recipe in my current fav book, Whole Grains Every Day Every Way, with some minor modifications:

  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp. tamari
  • 2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Dash red pepper flakes

I think that was it?? 

I poured most of the sauce over the stir fry and allowed it to simmer for about 10+ minutes.

The final result –

My bar this afternoon, along with my filling lunch, really didn’t leave me with a big hunger for dinner.  I decided that the stir fry was enough for me, so no salad tonight.  Big shocker, I know!

I might have room for something sweet later though … I’ll let you know! 😉

 

I noticed a twitch in my right calf earlier today, but didn’t think much of it.  Well, it’s really hurting now – I must have strained it earlier when I was weight training.  Oh no!!  I can’t afford for any pulled muscles.  I’m going to put some heat on it plus a good massage and hopefully it will be better tomorrow …

Adios!

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Mental Health Break

I tried.  I really did.  I just couldn’t get into the workout mode today.  I ran a mile with the girls and then hopped on the treadmill when I got home.  I only made it another mile.  I wasn’t into it at all … so, I declared it a Mental Health Day.  I haven’t had a rest day in a while, so this was needed anyways.  My rest days always help me “reset” my body and gear me up for the next workout.

On my way out the door for GOTR, I grabbed a Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bar –

This is one of my favorite Luna bars, but I have to be in the right mood for it.  Today it was great!  Notice the little specs of peppermint in the white icing –

Oh, I got a SURPRISE in the mail today – yeah!

I am so excited to try out my new toy now that I have the pouch!  It fits perfectly on my running shoes –

I will definitely be going for a run tomorrow!  I think I will head to the pool early and do a late-afternoon run.  I will make sure to have a product review for you very soon … it may be a few days though since I want to build up some activity for the computer to chart first.

Ok, on to dinner …

Tonight’s meal was Popcorn-Crusted Grouper, served with Bulgur and Broccoli with Caramelized Onion and Mushrooms.  We also had a lovely spinach/romaine and veggie salad.

To make the “popcorn” crust:

Put 1/4 unpopped corn in a small bowl and stir in 1 tsp. olive oil.  Place oiled kernels in a brown sandwich bag and fold the top over two times.  Place a paper towel in the microwave and set the bag sideways on the paper towel.  Microwave for 2 minutes, or until popping stops.  Allow to sit in microwave 1 minute before removing.  Watch for steam!!

In small batches, grind the popped corn in a spice or coffee grinder until you have a medium grind.

To coat the fish:

Dip fish fillets in whole wheat flour and shake excess.  Next, dip floured fillets in 1 beaten egg (seasoned with 1/8 tsp. cayenne) and then coat fillets with ground popcorn.

The Bulgur and Broccoli with Caramelized Onion and Mushrooms was very simple to make.

I steamed the broccoli ahead of time and set aside.  Using the same pot, I heated 1 tsp. olive oil and added chopped onion.  I cooked the onion for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, making sure to stir often.  After 10 minutes, I added sliced mushrooms and 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.  Allow to cook for an additional 5 – 10 minutes. 

The bulgur was easy since I had made a big batch a few weeks ago and stuck individual serving bags into the freezer.  One bag was defrosted overnight and went right into the pot with the onions and mushrooms.  I also added the broccoli, allowed it all to reheat and voila!  I topped it all with toasted sliced almonds for a little crunch!

My salad –

If you decide to give this meal a try at your table, I hope you like it!  I’m sure there are ways to jazz it up a little more … any ideas??

Off to watch some Dancing with the Stars … I’ve never really watched this show, but it’s been on while I’ve blogged and has caught my attention.  Go Misty May-Treanor!

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Whole Grain Goodness

My afternoon with Girls on the Run was great … they are all so adorable and have such distinct personalities, even at their young age.  Our lesson was focused around promises and how important it is to keep your word. 

So, I promise to eat my whole grains and I promise to let you know ALL about them! 🙂

 

I grabbed a snack on my way out the door and stuffed it into my bag. 

As I was walking home from the school, I felt my stomach rumbling and remembered the Luna Bar I had packed.  When I started to peel back the wrapper, I noticed that the “icing” had melted while it sat in my bag in the warm sunshine.  Instead of getting all sticky (and probably messy) I decided to wrap it back up.  Once home I popped it in the fridge and 5 minutes later I was enjoying a more solid form of Iced Oatmeal Raisin.

The new recipe I made for dinner tonight centered around barley.  Barley is a chewy, sweet grain, that is very versatile.  Many would be familiar with barley in a vegetable soup.  Whenever I think of barley, I go back to childhood and remember Campbell’s Vegetable Beef & Barley soup.  

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash, Ham, Sage and Toasted Walnuts was a recipe I found in the Whole Grains  book.  The recipe actually calls for the use of farro, a grain in the wheat family.  Authentic farro is imported from Italy and can be found at gourmet food shops.  I looked around some and couldn’t find it, so I decided to give barley a try.

Here’s what I put together:

(For two)

  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. barley
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 3 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c. grated butternut squash
  • 1 c. chopped ham
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 c. frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Grated parmesan cheese

In large saucepan, heat 1/2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender.  Stir in barley and wine.  Allow to simmer until barley has absorbed most of wine.  Add 1 cup of broth, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add additional broth, in 1 cup increments, as liquid is absorbed.  Once barley is chewy, stir in grated squash and sage.  Increase heat and stir well so that squash “melts” into a sauce.  Add ham and frozen peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Top with the toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese.

We also had asparagus spears on the side, plus a dinky little salad … we are completely wiped out of veggies!  Panic!!!

I really liked dinner, but I think I could have cooked the barley a bit longer (I adjusted the time above.)  This recipe is going on the “make again” list.  The flavors really blended well together.  The sweetness of the grain and squash, paired with the salty ham was perfect.  Let me know if you make it and what you think!

An old episode of Grey’s Anatomy is on right now and it’s got me antsy for the new season.  All the fall shows should be starting soon!

Tomorrow is a swim day, so I will be up and out early.  Good night!

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