Thursday, August 5, 2010

Meals for Week of August 9, 2010

Home Cooking Can Help
There are studies that show that the rise of processed and prepared foods from outside the home contributes to the rise of obesity in the US.  One of the reasons I created is to help families reduce the need for excessive eating out and consuming overly processed foods and instead help promote healthy home cooking.   I’ve been reading the report from the Task Force on Childhood Obesity from the Let’s Move website and I have to say it’s not really new found facts or ideas, we've been hearing this information for a few years now, however it's great to have a push to promote healthier eating for children and there’s an action plan for ending obesity.  But as I’ve said before, saying and doing are very separate.  I’ve got my work cut out for me in my own house with getting all of us on board with eating healthier.  But learning to cook and making the effort to cook more at home from scratch can make a difference in being healthier.

I wanted to share a couple of resources that are useful to read.  I actually shared these in a newsletter a couple months ago but now that I have the blog and new readers, it’s worth sharing again.
The No High Fructose Corn Syrup List-

The other item I have is not a specific article but a section of the Eating Well website that is full of articles and recipes for healthy diets for kids.  There are tips for packing lunch, nutrition guidelines, and articles on getting kids to make healthy choices.

Cooking Tips

  • Drink a lot of milk in your house? Save some money and keep dry milk powder on hand to mix up and use for cooking and save your milk for drinking.
  • When making a stir fry with any meat or poultry, you don’t have to completely defrost it. Meat slices clean and easy with a sharp knife when slightly frozen. It’s a great way to get very thin slices.
  • A common mistake in cooking is to over-soften butter. Don’t try to speed things up by heating it. To soften butter for baking- Over a mixing bowl, shred the amount of butter you need on a grater. The little pieces will soften faster than a solid stick. In no time, the butter will be bake-worthy. (From Martha Stewart)
  • Always dry your steak before cooking it. A wet steak steams instead of fries when you put it in a pan.
  • I'm always having you purchase fresh herbs for recipes. Take your unused herbs, tie the stems together with twine and hang upside to dry. Store them in a container in a dry place for future use.
  • When slicing juicy fruits like melons, place in a colander over a bowl to drain and allow some of the juice to drain which saves it from getting mealy when storing the cut fruit.
  • Substitute for wine in cooking: Use 1/2 cup broth plus 1/2 tsp red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice for 1/2 cup wine
  • Did you know that you can freeze buttermilk? If you buy a half pint for recipe that calls for one cup, just portion out the rest into 1 cup or ½ cup portions into paper cups, set them in the freezer and once frozen you can wrap each one with plastic and then store them in a zipper freezer bag.

This week's meals are varied like usual, but I provided a couple of recipes that focus on using summer fruits and veggies like corn, zucchini, tomatoes and nectarines that you may either have bursting from your garden or will find on sale in stores and markets.

Meals for Week of August 9, 2010

Don't forget to use to build your shopping list!

Rigatoni with Tomatoes and Mozzarella- Easy to make and great with garden fresh tomatoes. Swap oregano with basil and it’s like a pasta caprese.

Grilled Pork Fajitas- A healthy fajita recipe. Would you believe that using pork makes it leaner than beef? Of course, you could use chicken instead if pork is not your thing.

10 Minute Thai Curry- It’s so easy to make what you probably love from a restaurant! This recipe calls for shrimp and it’s what helps make it cook so quickly. But thinly sliced chicken will work just as well. Or even make it vegetarian with just a variety of veggies. The recipe is written to serve 2 but it makes a lot of sauce so if you want to increase it to serve more, I would not automatically double the coconut milk, but just increase the curry paste and milk a little bit at a time based on how much sauce you want.

Quick Glazes for Grilled Chicken- Two different easy glazes to make for grilled chicken, no need for bottled sauce! There’s an apricot Dijon mustard glaze or a barbecue glaze.

Ultra Thin Crust Pizza- *COOK’S NIGHT OFF*- Use a tortilla for your pizza crust! The recipe uses onions, mushrooms and ricotta cheese, but you can try other toppings. Just remember that the tortilla will crisp up quickly, so you need to use toppings that will cook quickly or sauté them in a pan on the stove first.

Turkey Burgers- These are moist and delicious. Ground turkey tends to have a looser texture than beef, so turkey patties can fall apart easily before they are cooked. If you need to skip the crushed crackers they still hold up, but it does help to stick them in the freezer before grilling.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas- I love these. A nice change from the traditional enchilada as well as containing a lot of nutrition.

Grilled Pork Chops with Pears and Blue Cheese- Simple, inexpensive and a great flavor combination.

Ranch Parmesan Chicken- Ranch dressing tenderizes and flavors the chicken. I would suggest soaking the chicken in it rather than just dipping it before coating it with the panko bread crumbs.

Hamburger Buddy- Sort of like a boxed hamburger meal, but much better for you. It’s a one pot dish with vegetables and whole grain pasta, but you can also add a salad to get more vegetables in.


Zucchini Breakfast Casserole- Great way to put garden zucchini to use. You can make this on Sunday and eat squares of it throughout the week. Lighten it up by replacing some of the eggs with just the egg white only. You could also make it a higher protein meal with a few less calories and carbs by skipping the bread cubes. It will not be as thick with the less bulk, so watch it closely when it’s baking.

Corn and Zucchini Sauté with Basil- The recipe calls for a tablespoon of white vinegar and my suggestion is to use balsamic instead, when it cooks it will caramelize and sweeten which is delicious with the corn and zucchini.

Sweet Potato Fries- This is a recipe for baked fries and it includes make a basil salt to season them with a garlic mayonnaise for dipped.

Nectarine and Strawberry Pops- Stone fruits like nectarines are everywhere right now, and if you have nice, ripe fruit you may not need any sugar or sweetener. Peaches would work just as well. You don’t need to own a popsicle mold, save some individual yogurt cups and use them.

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