Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cooking Series #2 - 3 Easy, Healthy Habits

Crock pot sesame chicken with a side of green beans :)

So, let's get something straight... We are by no means health nuts. We don't follow special diets, eat gluten free or vegetarian. We like ice cream and carbs, and I love me 1 or 2 or 7 cups of coffee in the morning.

BUT, we realize that we better have some good eating habits if we want to make it to our 50th anniversary married. So, we eat vegetables.

Some healthy habits I have found to be very simple for us are...

I know you've heard this before, but here's how this works for us. We don't generally have pop around the house. Or any other kind of drink except for coffee, tea, milk, and water. This is a huge money saver & when we're thirsty, we drink water. Pretty simple - if you don't have sugary drinks around, you will be less likely to drink them.

At least 3-4 nights a week, I make a salad as a side for dinner. Our salads are plain jane. Our salads are not fancy. But they have leafy greens, so they're good for us.

We typically rotate through these 2 types of salads:
Spinach + strawberry + feta + walnuts + balsamic
Romaine + tomato + feta + croutons + balsamic OR homemade ranch. [Homemade meaning combine the mayo, buttermilk, and ranch packet in a container- this is surprisingly healthier than a store bought bottle of ranch dressing.]

But, you are sighing to yourself, how ever do you get your lettuce and produce to stay fresh all week, oh expert chef.  Well, dear friend, I'm glad you asked. The wise old internet once told me that if I wash my lettuce, and wrap it in paper towels, it'll last longer :) And it was right! I usually buy a bag of 3 Romaine Hearts for $3. Then, the first or second day I have it, I rinse/ wash it and pat it dry and wrap each one in a separate paper towel. Pop it into ziplocks and it's ready to go for the week. I usually chop up a whole romaine heart at a time and that chopped up lettuce lasts us 1 1/2 - 2 meals.

As my first graders used to say (in that sing-songy child's voice first graders do oh so well), EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY!

Um, please do not stop reading at the word's "pampered chef." This is an 11 dollar product that will revolutionize your vegetable experience. Plus, it comes in blue now, so that's fun.
1. Chop fresh vegetables. (You can use frozen instead if you want.)
2. Put them in the pampered chef micro-cooker
3. Microwave them for 2-3 minutes
4. Enjoy delicious, freshly steamed vegetables.
This is real. I kid you not. No added water, no stove, no catch. 

Though I don't use it much in the summer, this thing helps us survive the winter. We use it for broccoli (fresh) or frozen green beans most nights. The reason I buy green beans frozen is 1.)The fresh ones don't last as long & never seem to be that great where we are 2) you have to rip the ends off the fresh ones 3.)The frozen ones are delicious! I buy the whole/ fresh kind, not the cut kind that are tiny cylinders.  Broccoli on the other hand seems to be good all year long, is super cheap fresh, and lasts a long time in the fridge.

There are 2 sizes of the veggie steamer - I gave my small one away because it is that amazing, so now we only have the large one, which works great. If you're buying one, I recommend the large one. Go big or go home. Oh, the other reason you need the pampered chef micro-cooker is because it defrosts meat in less than 10 minutes. And goes in the dishwasher. And doesn't get too hot to hold. [Now that I think about it, I should ask pampered chef to pay me for this 5-star review.]

The other winter veggie we use on a regular is canned corn. Kernels. Not sweet cream (gross). I just heat this on the stove in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.
In the summer, we are corn-on-the-cob folks. I mean, we've been living in Nebraska for 2 years, people.  [Side note: I bought corn on the cob out here in Boston recently, and I was almost offended they even sold it in the store, it was so terrible. 1 point Nebraska.]

Up tomorrow - how to shop for fruits and veggies that will last you over a week.
How's that for suspense?