Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Choose Your Vegetables

Many of the principles of picking out your fruit also apply to vegetables.  Here are some simply rules to follow:

1) Buy in season.  There are many different seasonal charts for fruits and vegetables.  Here's one that I follow.

2) Buy from bins, not groups in bags. One spoiled apple will ruin the bunch.  Over-ripe fruit releases a gas that will make the fruit around them also begin to rot.

3) Use your eyes.  

  Here's what you don't want:
      - Mold
      - Soft spots
      - Bruising
      - Wilted leaves
      - Sprouts (potatoes, garlic, onions) 

   Here's what you DO want:
      - Bright and lively colors usually contain the highest level of nutrients.
      - Crisp and firm leaves.

4) Use your nose. Make sure that your vegetables don't smell sour.

5) Use your hands.  Gently feel the vegetables to make sure that there are no bruises, no soft spots, and the appropriate firmness. 

6) Choose the smaller vegetables.  This seems counter-intuitive since you want to get the biggest produce for your money, however, the smaller the fruit, the higher the skin:flesh ratio.  This ratio is important because the highest level of nutrients are found in the flesh just under the skin.

7) Don't settle.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE! Take your time in picking out the highest quality for vegetables.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baking Bacon

Bacon. Bacon. Bacon.  Is there anything better than baking bacon?  Absolutely not.  The age of hot splatters burning hands is over!  Hallelujah!  Here's the easiest way to make bacon!

You'll need:
- one sheet
- tin foil
- perhaps an oven (at 375F)

Now, pay attention because this is very complicated.

Step 1: Wrap the sheet in tin foil.
Step 2: Place bacon on the sheet.
Step 3: Place sheet into a preheated oven. (350 for turkey bacon, 375-400 for regular bacon)
Step 4: Walk away for 15 minutes (or you can take a hint from me and longingly gaze at your lovelies through the oven glass, I find that the anticipation makes the bacon taste that much better!)

Check out that view:

Once you take your bacon out of the oven, make sure that you place it on paper towel to drain and absorb the excess grease.

Last step: devour.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Finding Beauty

Challenge: At some point today, stop and gaze at something for a minimum of three minutes.

What do you see?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to intensify the flavor of the vegetables without adding tons of calories.  Traditionally, roasting vegetables requires coating the vegetables with oil before baking them.  You do this because the vegetables have a tendency to stick to the cookie sheet due to the caramelizing that occurs on the bottom of the vegetables.  However, I do not use any oil!  How do I do this?  Low Heat. Longer cooking time.  TIN FOIL!  Let's get started.

You need:
- vegetables
- knife
- cutting board
- cookie sheet
- tin foil
- seasoning
- oven/toaster oven

Oh! Pretty colors!

Step 1: Cut your vegetables in half.

Step 2: Season your vegetables (I only use pepper).

Step 3: Place your vegetables on the tin foil and place it in the oven!

Step 4: Once the vegetables have a little char on the top, the outsides have started caramelizing, the inside is tender.

Now you can use these vegetables in sauces, soups, as thickeners, in salads, etc.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Don't Skimp on the Shrimp Scampi

One night I was really hungry.  It was Friday. It was lent. I had meat, meat and oh, shrimp!  Three guesses what I chose to eat... Throw in a random frozen vegetable pack, butter, pesto and noodles, you've got a dinner!  Here's my version of Shrimp Scampi.

Gather your ingredients:
- 1 lb of medium/large pre-cooked shrimp
- one bag of frozen vegetables (or, if you're ambitious, fresh vegetables)
- one package of (gluten free) noodles
- small amount of butter
- small amount of pesto
- pepper/Ms. Dash to taste

Step 1: Thaw and de-tail your shrimp. (Also, make sure that your shrimp is actually deveined, half of the shrimp pictured below were not)

Step 2: Boil some noodles!  I use a full package of gluten free spaghetti, but you can use whatever you have laying around.

Step 3: Melt some butter in your pan for the shrimp.

Check out those cutie shrimp just waiting for their butter bath... aw!

Step 4: Let the butter bath ensue.  Heat under medium heat.

Add whatever seasoning you would like at this point.  I'm currently trying to stay lower sodium, so Ms. Dash and pepper is what I use!

Step 5: Add the pesto, about 2 TBSP.

You can definitely use your own pesto, but my stomach was yelling and I was short on time, so Classico to the rescue!

Step 6: Cook the vegetables according to the package.  I don't typically like to boil or microwave my vegetables, but once again, I was hungry!

While the vegetables are cooking, the shrimp have probably begun to curl up.  When this happens, take your shrimp out of the pan.  If you fail to do this, you are probably going to over cook your shrimp and make them chewy.  Gross.

Add the vegetables into the butter sauce and allow the excess water to evaporate out.  The butter sauce is going to reduce and become super thick and delicious.  Plus, the thicker the butter sauce, the better it coats the noodles.

Here's everything, you just need to mix it together!

And here's the finished product:

Yum!  This is also good with other types of fish, I put some leftover salmon on top of mine and oh boy... it's angelic.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oh, My Omelet!

"Good Morning, Good Morning! It's time to get up now.  Good Morning, Good Morning! To you, and you, and you, and you." Oh!  You weren't lucky enough to be woken up by your mother singing to you every morning?  Trust me, you're the luck one. (I love you, Mama!)

Well, if you don't have a mother bribing you with song, here's a good way to fuel your body for a full day: OMELET!

Here's what you need:
- small pan with cover
- cooking spray
- 2 eggs
- splash of milk
- seasoning
- toppings
- small amount of low fat, good melting cheese (love munster and american)

So I may have forgotten to take a picture, but
Step 1: mix together the eggs, splash of milk and seasoning and beat.

Step 2: cook your toppings together. (I usually go with onions, tomatoes, peppers and spinach)

Step 3: Take the toppings out of the pan and pour the eggs in.

Step 4: Cover the eggs. (It help the top cook a little bit)

Step 5: once the bottom of the eggs have set, pull up the sides of the omelet and tip the pan to allow the uncooked eggs to run to the exposed part of the pan.

When your omelet is almost cooked, place the toppings on top.

Like this: Yum!  And then cover to help it firm up on the top.

Last step: Flip the omelet in half and enjoy!

Optional: Top the omelet with pureed roasted tomatoes.  So good!!