Vegetables

I totally forgot to add this link to my post yesterday and it’s probably my favorite. I feel like I am constantly trying to eat for veggies and, why not, most of them are zero point on Weight Watchers! I have been utilizing all of these ideas recently and they really work. Veggies can bulk up anything you are eating quickly and easy!

#1: Shop for veggies one day a week. This one is easy to follow if you visit a farmer’s market once a week. Set aside $20 each week and wander around the market and ask what is best that week. Fruits and Vegetables can have short seasons, so this will ensure that you can try the best of each season’s bounty! Right now, load up on squash (butternut, acorn, kombucha), apples, beets, brussels sprouts, and root vegetables (carrots, kohlrabi, celery root). A good rule of thumb is try to and make your plate look like a rainbow.

#2: Prep your veggies. I don’t usually cut up my veggies but I do remove them from the bags/containers and organize them nicely in a colander or two. I wash them all and then put them in the fridge still in the colander. It makes them look pretty (almost on display) and it’s easy to see what you have to use. I find I waste a lot less by doing this.

#3: Breakfast. Adding peppers, onions, broccoli or even brussels sprouts to an omelette or scrambled eggs. Or try…

#4: Blendtastic. Try making a fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning. If you have a lot of dark, leafy greens that might go bad before dinner time, try my kale smoothie. This is a great way to sneak in a serving or two of vegetables.

#5: Snack time. I always have cucumbers, bell peppers and baby carrots in my fridge. Always. I also always keep some sort of healthy dip in there- baba ganoush, hummus and tzatziki are my favorites. It takes about 3 minutes to chop up the peppers and cucumber and these snacks are guilt free!

#6: Lunch. Salad in a mason jar. Enough said.

#7: Dinner. Cooking veggies in a crock pot is a great but not everyone has one sitting on their counter. I love roasting vegetables, especially all the fall/winter root veggies. Just cut them into bite size pieces, spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet (lining with foil or parchment will make clean up a breeze), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. It will probably take a bit longer than 20 minutes, so check them at that time and then check them every 5 minutes until they are done to your liking (it will probably take more like 30-45 minutes).

#8: Dessert. I haven’t personally tried using vegetables in dessert but think zucchini bread, banana bread, etc. Or anything pumpkin- just try using another type of squash!

I hope this helps some of you eat more vegetables. Let me know any tips or tricks you might have!

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Clarified Butter

First, I want to apologize for not posting all that often recently. As anyone who lives in NYC knows, using a stove top and oven during the summer in the LAST thing you want to do because it increases the temperature of your apartment by at least 10 degrees. Once it has been hot enough, long enough there is no way your apartment’s temperature will drop below 80 degrees (unless of course you have an air conditioning unit in your common areas- kitchen, living room and hallways). Knowing that I am always on a budget, I cannot afford to have AC anywhere but my bedroom and this is why my momentum with this blog and cooking in general has decreased significantly.

OK. Now that that is out there, I will share a fun and easy kitchen essential you can make with butter. Clarified butter is used in almost all professional kitchens because it is full of flavor and it has a higher burning point than normal butter. It is so easy to make and can take a dish to the next level. Here’s how to make it:

clarifiedbutterskimWhat you’ll need:

1 1/4 cup of butter

Saucepan

Spoon

Instructions*:

Place butter in a saucepan over a very low heat. Let the butter melt slowly, do not stir the butter while it is melting

As the butter melts, it will separate into three layers. The top layer is a thin layer of foam, the middle layer contains the bulk of the liquid (weighing in at about 80% of the total), and the bottom layer is where the water and most of the milk solids are. This natural separation is what makes clarifying possible

Skim the foam off the surface of the butter, discard the foam. Be cautious to avoid dipping the ladle into the butterfat while skimming, as the fat should remain intact

Use a ladle and skim the fat up and out of the pan, making sure not to let any of the water get into the ladle

Pour your newly clarified butter to a separate container, and discard the water and small amount of remaining milk fat

If the clarified butter sits for a moment, you might notice more foam float to the top; use a spoon to remove this last bit of foam

WW Points: 1 point per teaspoon

Use the clarified butter to get a nice sear on meats, seafood or even vegetables. I made some last week and used it to get a nice brown sear on both sides of some beautiful diver scallops I got at Whole Foods. I use small mason jars to store the clarified butter in the fridge. It will keep for months so it is worth making a big batch. You’ll be surprised how often you go into the fridge to use it!

*I used this “recipe” to help me along. Here’s Allrecipes.com’s step-by-step with pictures (which helped me a lot the first time I made clarified butter)

**Photo from www.asian-recipe.com

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I love ranch dressing! One of my favorite snacks growing up was carrot sticks and ranch. And, everyone also knows that I love Ina Garten. So you can imagine how much I LOVE Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing? I have made this recipe twice before.  I always forget how easy it is so I’ll go months without making it! Nick and I bought some green tomatoes at a road side stand on Monday so I figured I would make this dressing to go along with some fried green tomatoes (I’ll post about them soon!) This is definitely not a low fat, WW recipe but you can alter it in a few ways to make it better. Give it a try with full fat first (it’s AMAZING and worth the splurge!) then alter as you see fit.

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Ingredients

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon good olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (maybe a little less)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise (I used reduced-fat)

1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken (I used light buttermilk)

Directions

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

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Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture.

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Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth.

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Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.

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…or eat some right away… just to make sure it tastes good 😉

This is a great time to use mason jars. This recipe makes 3 cups so it will fill about 1 1/2 mason jars. Definitely let it sit in the fridge for a bit (at least one hour) before using it- the flavors develop so nicely!

WW Points: 1 point for 2 tbsp 

(with reduced fat mayo and light buttermilk)

Picnic in Central Park

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My picnic was a success (well still is because I am still sitting here in the sun)! The egg salad is delicious and the salad in a mason jar kept my dressing away from greens on the trip down to the park! I packed a seltzer water, small plate and fork into my left over Organic Avenue insulated bag along with the egg salad (securely in a tupperware), toasted rolls, and my mason jar. All I had to do was toss in an ice pack and I was on my way. It’s just too beautiful to be inside!

Salad in a Mason Jar

I love this idea so much, I had to share it. Honestly, I wish I was smart enough to think of this! My friend from college, Bryarly, has an adorable blog “Everything that Flickers” and she posted this a week ago. It is the perfect way to bring a healthy meal with you on the go!

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Mason Jar Salad

1 tbsp of your favorite salad dressing (I used Tessemae’s)

Lunch meat of your choice (I used turkey plus a little chicken salad)

Miscellaneous salad toppings (olives, tomatoes, cheese, etc)

Greens of your choice (arugula, spinach, etc)

Directions:

Start with putting the salad dressing in the bottom of the mason jar. Next put the lunch meat in on top of the salad dressing (this will help keep the salad dressing away from the lettuce and prevent it from getting soggy). Top the lunch meat with the misc. toppings and fill the rest of the mason jar with the greens.

WW Points: varies with toppings used

When you’re ready to eat it just dump it out on a plate and the dressing will be on top! Check out Bryarly’s post about Mason Jar Salads here!