Tag Archives: healthy

Play with your food: natural skin care

All right, I’ll be honest.  I’m a girl.  And I like some girly things.  But I what I don’t like is strange people touching me.  One of my good friends took me out for a spa facial for the first time last year.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  I’m all about skin care, don’t get me wrong.  In fact, I’m probably more obsessed about my skin than one would assume.  I drink 9-10 glasses of water a day.  I eat a diet full of vitamins A, C and E.  I wear sunscreen although not nearly as often as I probably should.  I shower in lukewarm water, moisturize daily and exfoliate often.  I inspect myself regularly for spots and bumps.  I take care of my feet.  I’m all about soft, healthy on every part of the body.

I know you’re wondering, “Yeah, it’s great that you’re a skin freak.  Why are you telling me this?  Where are the pictures of the food?”  There is a point.  I promise.

So what does a girl do when she wants a skin treatment but is iffy about having random people touching her face, feet and hands?  And “in this economy” (I think it’s a mandatory rule that every person in America use that phrase at least once this year), spa treatments and skin care products can be expensive luxuries.  So how do you treat your skin nice without breaking the bank or subjecting yourself to the prods of strangers?

Well, food obviously.

In the words of Home Simpson, it is the cause of and answer to all of life’s problems.

I am a big fan of do-it-yourself facials and pedicures, and because I’ve developed a dislike of adding chemicals to my body over the past few years (or should I say, my body has developed a dislike of me adding chemicals to it over the past few years), I’ve found a few good natural ways of softening and smoothing skin.  And cheaper too. Continue reading

At the kofta, kofta cabana…

Josh and I are trying a new thing this month: not spending half our take home pay in food costs.  Radical, I know.  Especially when there’s only two of us.  Well, and Winston, but he doesn’t get people food, much to his dismay.  But between eating out fairly often (especially lunches during the work week, Sunday breakfasts at Afternoon Delight or Mark’s Midtown Coney Island and the frequent dinner out alone or with friends) and shopping at some not-so-wallet-friendly places just because they happen to be right across the street (coughwholefoodscough) and have an excellent meat counter, we do spend an inordinate amount of money on food.  That and we tend to not eat leftovers, and we buy expensive ingredients because well…we’re foodies.  We like to make and cook food of various types, and we get bored easily so…well, you can see how it lands us into trouble.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah.  Economizing.  Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale!  I adore ground sirloin.  So we bought a family pack of the stuff because hey, we eat beef pretty often (can you tell?), we have a ton of plastic baggies AND we have one of the greatest kitchen tools ever–a countertop scale.  We are in business.

And because I had this lovely pack of ground beef, I decided to try something new that would also utilize mostly ingredients I already had in the cupboards: beef kofta.

Kofta, or kefta, are basically Middle Eastern/South Asian meatballs which have variations numbering in the hundreds.  Often you’ll see them shaped like sausages and grilled on sticks.  That’s more or less what I was going for here.  Emboldened by the fact that kofta can be so varied, I didn’t worry about whether it’s truly authentic (I can assure you it’s not) and just focused on making something tasty, easy and quick.

Which brings us, finally, to the recipe. Continue reading

Salsa + Spaghetti = Salsagetti

Inspired by reading over Noelle’s entry about her delicious-looking salsa, I decided tonight to utilize the tomato-y bounty given forth to me by Josh’s beautiful heirloom variety tomato plants growing out on our deck.  But instead of a salsa, a fresh tomato sauce that I could mix in with the whole wheat linguine I got on sale at Busch’s yesterday, and serve it with the boneless skinless chicken breast I had thawing in the oven.  AND it would be a light healthy dish.  I love it when a plan comes together.

The smug foodie in me (I am writing this on a Mac after all) was also pretty proud of the fact that just about all the produce in this dish was locally grown, too.  The tomatoes, thyme, parsley and basil came from our own deck garden (we live on the third floor of an apartment building, but are lucky enough to have a big long deck which we line with various pots containing leafy and delicious products).  And the peppers, garlic and onion came from our farm share.  Delicious. Continue reading

The Immunity Boosting Salad

So I’m on my own again today.  And still sick.  It’s been over a week at this point and while I don’t feel terrible, I just can’t get the congestion, tiredness and fever to go away.

Well it’s moved on towards lunch time and I need to eat something.  I don’t have a car today, which takes care of that pesky lazy thought of “Well, just go to Panera and get some soup.”  And while, yes I do live just half a mile from a Panera–and 3/4 a mile from Whole Foods–my tiredness and the 83F took care of any inclination to walk someplace where I can simply hand over a credit card and some kind person will hand me a giant bowl of already prepared food.  No, we’re on our own today.  And since we’re tired and tired of being sick (and for some reason, speaking in the royal “we”), we want something that’s not just delicious but about as healthy as we can possibly stand it to be.

As luck would have it, I have a freezer full of chicken breasts and a fridge of nutritional goodies, so I can indeed accomplish this weighty task and I will not submit to the tiny voice in my head that says, “You could just order in Chinese.”  Even though my favorite Chinese restaurant is simply around the block (near the Panera, y’know) and they not only deliver but deliver quickly and the delivery guy is great.  But no.  No, we’re cooking ourselves well today.

So this is what I put together: a salad.  No, not just a salad.  THE salad.  An easy, delicious salad full of flavor, vitamins and antioxidants.  In fact, there is not a single unhealthy thing on this salad.  It is the exact opposite of certain other meals I have made while sick that may or may not have contained over an entire day’s worth of fat.

The great thing is that I made this with ingredients that I normally keep around anyway: chicken, fresh baby spinach, lemon, red onion (okay, I normally don’t but red onion, but I got some from the farm share this week), walnuts, olive oil, part-skim mozzarella, strawberries and basil.  Little known fact about me: I bleed strawberries.  It really freaks out the phlebotomist, but eventually they get over that when they realize I am made of deliciousness.  (Ok I made that last part up.) Continue reading

Piri piri, agua fresca and other fun words I ate today

Piri piri.  Just say it, “piri piri.”  It sounds adorable.  It tastes delicious.  It’s easy to make.  It’s a win for everybody.  Well everybody who likes to eat foods with fun names.

I was on my own for dinner again tonight and after a lot of deliberation (seriously, I dwell at length on the existential question of “What to eat for dinner?” just about everyday), I decided to try making my own piri piri sauce and using it with some grilled chicken.  I figured I could have a nice couple of sides by cooking some broccolini we just got from the farm share this week and by cooking up some quick whole wheat couscous AND I could make enough to have a hearty lunch for tomorrow.  Epic win.

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I have superpowers. I can freeze bananas…

…in my freezer.

Seriously, there’s a whole comic book in the works and everything.

Tonight, it was a particularly useful skill–I mean, superpower–because it was 84F today and while I really wanted to fry some strawberry pies or bake a cheesecake, I just didn’t want to heat up the apartment and thereby waste the hard effort the air conditioner was putting out in order to keep Josh from melting into a puddle of human goo.  Clearly what we needed tonight was a nice, cool dessert, a good compliment to the (grilled) dinner of barbecue pork sandwiches and (store-bought and therefore no cooking necessary) chips and raw (i like crunchy) carrots.  So I fell back on one of my favorite healthy cold desserts: frozen bananas dipped in chocolate.

Wait a minute! You want to yell out in a classically drawn speech bubble with italicized, bolded AND uppercased letters.  How healthy can a banana be dredged in chocolate?

Well, duh–it’s dark chocolate.

And coconut.  And walnuts.  So that’s like, calcium and healthy fat and antioxidants all right there.

Moving on (at the speed of melting chocolate, another of my superpowers), this dessert is one of the easiest ever to make, and less rich than say, my strawberry tiramisu and less formal than the semifreddo (mmmm semifreddo).

This recipe serves 6; I cut it down to just make one banana each for me and Josh, but I’m putting the full recipe (adapted from a Whole Foods recipe) below:

Chocolate Dipped “This Day is” Bananas!
Serves 6 Continue reading

When life gives you lemons, grill those sour little suckers

Josh is out at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival right now and so it’s just me and the dog for dinner tonight.  I enjoy these rare occasions for a couple reasons: I feel less bad if I screw up a recipe, and I get a chance to try out recipes that either I know Josh doesn’t like or wouldn’t be a huge fan of.  Since I’ve been wanting to make these chicken skewers for a while and Josh has seemed less than enthused, I figured I’d go with that.  Besides, it’s a very simple recipe to make for one.

Making dinner for yourself is not always easy.  Especially when you’re used to feeding more people.  For a while, I was used to to cooking for three, then for two, and occasionally now for one, not to mention the occasions where we have company over and I’m cooking for 4-8.  And generally when you’re looking at recipes, they feed 4 or more, which is great if you have a family or you really like leftovers.  However, we rarely eat leftovers and somedays we end up hungrier than otheres and so it can be tricky to make just enough food.  This meal worked out really well for just one, though.

I got the inspiration from an Ellie Krieger recipe for chicken and grape skewers, which I do still intend to try.  She had it garnished with lemons though, which gave me an idea: why not just chop up lemons and put them on the skewers as well?  I love the taste of lemon, especially with chicken, grilling lemons really brings out the sweetness in them, adding depth to a variety of dishes.  And I reasoned that as the heat warmed up the lemons, circulating their juices, they would baste and moisturize the chicken wedged between them.  And instead of just regular chunks of chicken, I would do meatballs.  This idea I can’t claim; it was inspired by the grilled Vietnamese meatball sandwich recipe on SeriousEats.  Only I would use chicken instead of pork and season it with my usual blend of spices, plus some basil, which goes fabulously with lemon.  But what to go with it?  I thought about whole wheat couscous, but rice seemed a better fit, and perhaps a bit of green–some steamed spinach thrown in.  Perfect.  The flavors were coming together in my mind–sweet basil, tart lemon, spicy ancho chile goodness, nutty rice and maybe a good sprinkling of salty parmesan.  Deliciousness on all fronts. Continue reading

My Big Fat Greek..nah, that’s too obvious a joke.

The chicken was actually moroccan inspired, as was the flatbread…so…really the only Greek thing about this dinner was the tzatziki sauce.

But whatever.

I’ll skip talking about the chicken, having covered that before, and focus on the really important parts of this meal: the carbs and the dairy. Continue reading

Strawberry Tiramisu

I like tiramisu.  I like the idea of it even more.  I don’t make the traditional version at home because I don’t keep coffee in the apartment (for anything, ever) and Josh doesn’t like the taste of coffee anyway.  Also, it’s a bit indulgent and we wouldn’t want to eat a whole tiramisu ourselves.  One summer I really wanted a lighter, fresher version of the dessert though and luckily, a few weeks later Giada de Laurentiis did a raspberry version on her show and then I found a recipe for a low-cal tiramisu in Everyday Food. .  I thought, I could do something with this, with a bit of inspiration from FoodTV.  I picked strawberries because they are one of my top three favorite foods (the other two being chocolate and barbecue), not to mention healthy and delicious.

And thus, the recipe below:

Ingredients
1 8oz package lite cream cheese
8oz heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
1 small jar sugar-free strawberry jam
1 c. fresh strawberries, cut
few pinches of powdered sugar
1 small baked angel food cake

Mix the cream cheese, whipping cream, and sugar until soft peaks form.  Layer a little on the bottom of a large dessert pan or bowl.  Cut the angel food cake into flat slices and layer on top of cream.  Spread more cream on top of the cake slices, and then spread strawberry jam.  Layer with more cake, and then cream and jam until almost all the cream is gone.  Top the final layer with the cream mix, then top with fresh strawberries.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.

Farm Share Goodies: July 10

So I was extremely ticked when Josh brought home this week’s farm share on Tuesday because it included three of my favorite vegetables of all time: cabbage, potatoes (red skin!) and broccoli.  Not only are all three of those foods extremely tasty, they’re also versatile and very healthy.

Cabbage is not only low in calories but is rich in iron and sulfur and  contains phytonutrients, works to protect the body from free radicals that can damage the cell membranes.  Broccoli, which is also a member of the cabbage family, is loaded with Vitamins C and A, iron and fiber and even calcium.  And small potatoes are moderate in calories and nutrient dense, particularly when it comes to Vitamin C, potassium and iron.  And they’re delicious.  What’s not to love?  (By the way, a lot of information about various vegetables, their production and their nutrition can be found at HowStuffWorks. Neat!)

Well tonight I put two of those vegetable goodies to use–potatoes and the cabbage (don’t worry, broccoli, your time will come).  They went together for a very simple dinner of citrus chicken cabbage wraps and grilled potatoes with thyme.

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Sorry Nemo: Fish Tacos

Those who know me know that I…hate fish.  I don’t want to hate fish, but I do.  I don’t like the smell, I don’t like the texture.  I want to like it because it’s versatile and because that’s a whole arena of the culinary world that I don’t get to participate in.  Luckily, Josh does like fish, so from time to time we try out something new in the hope that maybe I’ll come around (I haven’t).

However, having only previously grilled tuna and salmon, this was my chance to experiment with whitefish.  We got a half pound filet from the store (I had been thinking tilapia, but we asked the fishmonger and she showed us a pretty, thin filet of whitefish that she said had great flavor and held up well.  Great flavor, maybe, I dunno, but it definitely didn’t hold up well) and some other staples: corn tortillas from the local Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory (that was Josh’s experimentation; I love corn tortillas but he’s pretty strictly a flour-only kind of guy), roma tomatoes and Serrano peppers for homemade salsa (we like ours spicy) and ripe avocados for homemade guacamole (which went excellently with the fresh limes we’d gotten from Eastern Market the previous week).

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SnackTime!

I like to snack, and I like healthy but delicious snacks.  So the other day at work, I made up this beautiful little concoction:

This is a delicious little yogurt parfait made with Fage 0% Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt, if you’ve never had it, is much thicker than the yogurt we normally pick up at the store, because it’s strained in order to remove the whey.  The Fage yogurt has the consistency of say, warm cream cheese.  It’s comes plain, but I would never eat it like that.  It’s traditionally the base for tzaziki sauce, which is that great cucumber-dill sauce you often get on gyros or other Greek dishes.  Here, it’s flavored with a couple tablespoons of my grandmother’s homemade strawberry jam and topped with the crumbles from my last homemade granola bars and the last few strawberries from my trip to the farmer’s market. The combination of the sweet strawberries, the chocolate and the coconutty crunch of the granola was excellent, if I do say so myself.

Try it out, and customize it…use raspberries, peaches, blueberries, apricots…after all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  :-)

I don’t really eat breakfast foods, but this one is an exception

So, yeah, I don’t really eat breakfast foods, per se.  I know, I’m odd.  I’m told that on a regular basis.  I used to eat breakfast foods.  I used to eat pancakes, french toast and waffles until I realized that those delicious yet sugary carbs were exactly the reason I was crashing and feeling crappy by midmorning.  Again, I tend to have low blood sugar and reactive hypoglycemia and the worst thing I can do is start out the day with a metric ton of sugar pouring into my bloodstream.  So I stopped eating those.  Eggs tend to make me sick, and I only ever ate them scrambled anyway and not very often.  And breakfast meats like sausage and bacon are full of fat, which I tend to avoid not only due to my preference for eating somewhat healthy but also because meat tends to make me sick to my stomach for some unknown reason, and the fattier the meat, the worse it is (I know, I know, I’m so oddly delicate, right?).  So I avoid breakfast foods.  We go out to brunch on the weekend and my husband gets an omelet or french toast…I get a chicken caesar salad.  Or a gyro.  Go out with coworkers during the week; they get bagels and cream cheese, I get chicken salad.  That’s just sort of the way I am.  Besides, in my opinion, lunch foods are way superior–and more varied–than breakfast anyway. Continue reading

Oh Granola

Lately I’ve been making my own granola bars.  I blame Whole Foods for this development; I got the inspiration while looking through the snack recipes on their website and found one for chocolate chip granola bars.  It looked pretty simple (it IS pretty simple) and besides, I love granola bars but often they make me sick.  I tend to have bouts of reactive hypoglycemia fairly often and commercial granola bars are usually full of sugar and corn syrup which is a bad thing for me to have, and natural store-bought granola bars are pretty expensive.  So I thought, why not?  I’ll make my own.  It’ll be like the culinary equivalent of cutting down your own trees for wood.  Or something like that.

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