I recently taught a class for the Black Creek Community Association
. Love teaching classes, I get to talk about food and answer people's questions....perfect. I focused on how to make over favorite recipes and dishes to be more healthful. During the class I was asked to share my recipe for homemade taco seasoning. Why not share here too? I am in the works of offering another class in the fall. Please share any topics you would like to hear about because I would love to see you there.
Regular readers already know that I am particularly fond of Mexican food. I started making my own spice mix a few years ago when I got tired of the cost of the taco seasoning packs and the amount of sodium (even in the reduced sodium). Plus I liked it with a little more heat. This recipe has never failed me.
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
Combine together in a bowl. Store in an air tight container. Two heaping tablespoons equals the amount in the package. Adapted from here
Can't get easier than that. I have scaled this recipe up, it makes about 1/2 a cup of seasoning mix. I use 2 generous tablespoons of mix per pound of ground meat (choose ground chicken or turkey instead of beef to reduce saturated fat) and add about a 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the crushed chillies or adding some cayenne pepper. I really decreased the amount of salt, it can be adjusted to taste as needed. If you are feeling extra creative a nice dash of fresh cilantro after cooking is excellent.
I also use the mix to season black beans to put in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. A great way to get some extra fiber and have a meatless meal with all the protein. It is also good combined with non-fat Greek yogurt to make a dip or a great addition to a seven layer dip. Don't forget to use it in my Tex Mex shredded chicken
The best part: you are in control. You know exactaly what's in it and can adjust based on you own tastes. You will never buy a package again.....
The sun is shining which is the perfect weather for a Mexican feast....don't forget the margaritas!
Today Sawyer is one month old. He made his debut in today's paper as Baby of the Month. My husband and I were watching American Idol a few weeks ago when a contestants mother mentioned he was baby of the week way back when. I thought it was funny. Now I realize that will be me. It's my right as his mother to tell one and all (and probably mention it at his graduation, wedding, etc.).
So now that we have made it through the first month I have re-entered the kitchen. I have been making a few dinners here and there. A big priority is easy and fast recipes. I have had a month to adjust, but double header poopy diapers still take time away from meal prep. When you have a baby that eats as much as Sawyer does (gained a pound in two weeks) there is a lot of poop.
This recipe for Tex-Mex Shredded Chicken could not be any easier. If you can't manage this, there are larger issues. There are only three ingredients, not that you would know given the taste of the end product. This recipe is very popular on Pinterest, but seemed too good to be true. I love being proven wrong.
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of your favorite jarred salsa
1 envelope low sodium taco seasoning
Combine salsa and seasoning in a slow cooker and stir. Add chicken. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily with two forks. Adapted from here
With half of the chicken we made soft tacos. I froze the other half, which will probably be used for burritos, or nachos, or taco salad, or tortilla soup...endless possibilities! The chicken was very flavorful and tender. I could of ate it by the forkful. You can control how spicy it is with the salsa you choose. We went mild for our two year old. It passed his picky eater test. To keep it healthy stick with whole wheat tortillas, light sour cream and cheese, and lots of fresh veggie toppings.
Simple and delicious...passes my new mom to two test.
To see more of Erin Wallis' photos from Sawyer's newborn shoot look here
I know how important it is to write down goals, they told us in university, I watched Oprah and had many people tell me about The Secret. Have I done much writing down of goals though? Mmmm no. It's not that I don't think about them or have any, I just don't usually write them down.
I was doing some house re-organizing as we have moved our oldest son into his big boy room in prep for the arrival of youngest son into the nursery. I happened to find a 2008 monthly planner in the closet and right there on the notes section of January are some written goals. Most are to do with financial things, but at the very bottom of the list is: Tiffany to start business. So this didn't happen in 2008, it happened last year in 2011 along with my return to work after maternity leave. When I started Tiffany McFadden Nutrition Consulting it was out of necessity. I wasn't sure how many hours I was going to get at the hospitals I work at and figured I will have to make some work for myself. It wasn't until a few months in that I realized this is actually what I had always wanted to do (I had even written it down!).
I had also thought before that I would like to write a blog, but couldn't figure out what to write about. Funny how I didn't even think about nutrition topics. When I look back on 2011 I think of many things: friends, family, vacations, adventures and of course starting this journey into blogging and my business. I am grateful to have you all as readers and to have a creative outlet in my life that brings me more joy than I ever thought it would. I am so looking forward to 2012 bringing more adventure, a new baby, my in-laws to Campbell River and maybe a few goals written down....maybe.
After a great holiday it is time to get back to some home cooked, healthy meals. I think this recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto is a quick and easy way to get back into the swing of things.
12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.
Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.
Adapted from here
Super fast, easy and full of flavour. I used my beloved hand-blender with the mini-processor attachment, but am sure you could do this in a Magic Bullet as well, just don't over process. I served it up with a spinach salad heavy with veggies. This meal is high in fiber, vegetarian and rich in heart healthy fats from the olive oil. It is also a great way to use up the rest of a bunch of fresh basil (I used stems and all). This pesto can also be used on pizza, as a panini spread or a topping on grilled chicken.
Thank you all again for reading, commenting, encouraging and making my 2011 a year where goals were accomplished.
I am not a Christmas baker. The only Christmas baking that I look forward to (other people making) is shortbread, specifically my Grandpa's recipe, and something referred to as "Christmas Crack". My mother-in-law makes it, it consists of a layer of soda crackers with a toffee like layer smothered in chocolate. We are spending the holidays with my in laws in Edmonton this year and I have been assured the "Christmas Crack" has been made....fewf. A pregnant girl has got to have something while others are enjoying rum and eggnogs or mulled wine. That being said it is nice to have something sweet around, so I decided to make some glazed nuts.
1 egg white
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound walnut halves or pecans or mixed nuts (works out to about 3.5 cups)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. Add nuts, and stir to coat. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until well toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from here
I used mixed nuts and accidently bought salted nuts. I like the salty/sweet combo so no big deal. These turned out really well. I thought the amounts of spices sounded like a lot (especially the cloves) but they all blend really well together. When you take them out of the oven they will still be a little sticky but will harden up once they cool. I highly recommend the use of parchment paper or a really good non-stick cookie sheet.
Overall: really easy and great taste. They also make a great gift, are a perfect topper for salads and are add some tradition to holiday gatherings. They are pretty easy to get carried away with, so watch out. Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats but are also calorie dense, so try to stick to a handful (good luck).
Over the weekend we went to visit Santa at Woodland Gardens
, didn't go so well. But really, would childhood be complete without a crying with Santa photo?
I think it might be the best thing ever when something really simple turns out really delicious.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I am not a big fan of eggs, but I do like lightly "egged" French toast. I also like breakfast for dinner. It just seems fun, bucking convention. Breakfast at the dinner hour provides an excuse to have something sweet. If you are like our house we only have a breakfast that includes things like French toast, pancakes and waffles once a week....not enough! It also reminds me of how excited I would get when my mom would declare it was breakfast for dinner night when I was a kid, it was usually accompanied by a rush to get PJs on for authenticity.
On my drive home from work the other day I was thinking something like this: "yes breakfast for dinner tonight, I have a big bag of coconut that hasn't seen the light of day in a while, hmmm coconut French toast....yes please". So I invented a recipe. Ha....pretty much made my usual French toast but added a coconut dredging step, in my mind invention all the same.
8 slices 100% whole grain bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Wisk together eggs and milk. Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture then dredge both sides in coconut. Cook in frying pan on medium heat until coconut is browned and egg is cooked.
Turned out devine. Is there many things that are better in life than toasted coconut flavour? You don't need a lot of syrup for these as the coconut brings some sweetness. I think another great topper would be pineapple and vanilla yogurt, taking the tropical approach a bit further. I served it up with a side of turkey bacon and a fruit salad. The leftovers were great popped in the toaster the next morning.
Simple but perfect, like so many things in life.
So I got around to trying the microwave paper bag popcorn method I mentioned in my original post. Well you might as well call me the paper bag popcorn princess...it works, it really works! For nights when the thought of washing a pot after making stove top popcorn is too unbearable this is the way to go (I detest washing dishes by hand).
It is so simple I was sure it wouldn't work. Microwave popcorn bags are filled with food-like substances that ensure the popcorn pops and there is some sort of lining in the bag that super heats or something. Maybe there is, but not needed my friends.
I took a plain, brown, paper lunch bag, filled it with 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels, folded the top of the bag down twice and put in the microwave for 4 minutes. I stood and listened for when the popping slowed down and stopped it then (it was around 3:30). It took a little longer than conventional microwave popcorn to start popping, but don't panic. How did it taste? Heavenly. I was sure the folded top would not hold causing kernels to pinging all over the microwave or there would just be a black, smoking mass of kernels in the bag...no to both presumptions.
So as stated above the recipe is pretty plain, I wanted to try bare bones to see if it worked. You can coat the seeds in olive oil prior to popping and add a pinch of salt after or dress as you like. Keep in mind the popcorn itself is low in calories, it is the additions after than can add up. Three cups of plain popcorn has 3.5 g of fiber (insoluble fiber which keeps you pooping) and only 93 calories. A great choice for an after dinner snack.
So get out your dental floss and become your own paper bag popcorn prince or princess!
Lets talk salad dressing: sure it is available at any grocery store, but it is so easy to make….it is. If you have a Magic Bullet or some sort of blender or even a whisk or fork, you are in business.
Dinner tonight in our house was in need of a salad and therefore dressing, so into my Magic Bullet went:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup strawberries
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
Tonight I served it over romaine lettuce, with cucumber, snap peas, mango and goat cheese. Yum. Because it has fresh strawberries in it I would keep it in the fridge for no longer than 4-5 days.
Why do I love this? I control the salt and fat content. Trying to cut back on calories? Use less oil or skip the cheese in the salad. I also like anything that makes a salad more interesting. Plus we are squeezing in some extra fruit…yes!
There are endless recipes on the web for vinaigrettes and most are pretty easy and don’t always need a blender. I hope this encourages you to try your hand at it. Love a recipe? Feel free to share.