Recipe for low cost, low calorie Thai Yellow curry with Shiratake Tofu noodles and vegetables*

Posted on May 26, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating | Tags: , , , |

There is a noodle house near where I live that makes a delicious but high calorie yellow curry with thick Shanghai noodles and vegetables. The entree comes in a large bowl and is about $9.00 (before tax and tip).  So I made up my own version of the recipe that is very tasty, healthy, low calorie and low cost  (about the same price as in the restaurant, but you get approximately 6 generous servings.)
Ingredients
1 13.5 oz can lite coconut milk (280 cals for the entire can, .99 cents)
1 T red curry paste  (I use Thai Kitchen – 25 cals/T)
2 T fish sauce
2 large cloves garlic minced
2 T minced ginger
1 can 99% fat free chicken or vegetable stock
1 T vegetable oil (e.g., canola)
1-1.5 lbs boneless breast of chicken cut into bite size pieces (optional if you want to stay vegetarian/vegan)
1 cup of sliced onions/leeks/scallions (your preference)
3 8 oz. packages  Tofu Shirataki noodles, spaghetti or fettucini style (An entire package has only 40 calories. That’s only 20 calories per 4 oz. serving, and it is low carb and vegan.  I bought mine at Whole Foods for $1.39 each.)
2 cups chopped bok choy or baby bok choy (shredded Napa or Chinese cabbage works well too*)
2 cups green beans chopped into bite size pieces
2 cups sliced red, yellow and/or orange pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
1 large carrot sliced
1 large zucchini sliced
1-2 large sweet potatoes cut into chunks
fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped for garnish/to add on top
* you can add or exchange with almost any vegetable you like that is in season/on sale, e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, yellow summer squash, etc.
Cooking Instructions
1.  If you’re making this with chicken, chop and brown the chicken in 1 T vegetable oil. Then add the onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and sautee.  I like to make this recipe in a wok.
2.  Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, stock and let simmer.  If you like a little more sweet with your heat, add 1-3 tsp of sweetener to taste  (honey, sugar, agave nectar, splenda, etc.)
3.  Add the root vegetables that need a longer cook time. Then add the other vegetables.
4.  Rinse the tofu noodles very well under cold running water and let drain in a colander.
5.  Add the noodles and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
6.  Ladle into serving bowls and top with fresh chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
This recipe makes 6 good size portions at only about 300 calories per satisfying serving.  Enjoy!
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Article from EverydayHealth – Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!)

Posted on May 7, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Health & Beauty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!)

Tightening your belt these days? You don’t have to cut back on healthy foods as you’re trimming your family food budget! Here are 10 top picks for economical and delicious healthy foods

1. Oats

2. Healthy Frozen Mixed-Vegetable Blends

3. Fresh Fruit: Bananas, Apples, and Oranges

4. Lentils

5. Beans (Canned or Dried)

6. Peanut Butter

7. Canned Salmon

8. Fat-Free Yogurt

9. Eggs

10. Sweet Potatoes

I’m happy to say these are all a part of my regular diet, though I should try to eat beans and lentils more often.

For the complete article, click here

(more…)

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The Oprah Winfrey Show/KFC Grilled Chicken Two-Piece Meal Coupon

Posted on May 6, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Entertainment, No Money Fun | Tags: , , , , , |

The Oprah Winfrey Show/Kentucky Grilled Chicken Two-Piece Meal Coupon

Kentucky Grilled Chicken

Get two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit!

Limited Time Download
Coupon download available from 9 a.m. CDT on May 5, 2009, to 11:59 p.m. CDT on May 6, 2009. Coupon is redeemable at participating KFC® locations in the United States from May 5, 2009 to May 19, 2009—excluding Mother’s Day, May 10, 2009.

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San Jose Mercury News article: The basics of freezing

Posted on February 5, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Home & Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

The basics of freezing

Mercury News staff and wire reports
Posted: 02/03/2009 05:00:00 PM PST

Nothing ever rots. That’s the good and bad of the freezer. Good because its preservative powers let you stock up on bargain meat, save perishable ingredients, revisit your summer garden in February. Bad because, without the motivation of stink, it can become a bleak tundra of mysterious packages, their contents iced and freezer-burned beyond redemption.

To bring your freezer back from the dark side, some tips and inspiration:

The first rule of freezing

Do it fast. Slow freezing allows the formation of large ice crystals that will damage food’s cell structure. The two main components of quick freezing:

Cold. Keep your freezer at 0 degrees. If your refrigerator’s freezer gets opened a lot, consider using a stand-alone freezer for long-term storage.

Shallow.  Food to be frozen should be no more than two inches deep, so look for flat-storage options, such as shallow containers and bags laid flat. Don’t stack packages to be frozen.

The second rule of freezing

Reduce the amount of air around the food, by vacuum-sealing or storing in a tightly sealed container or bag. (Containers need an inch of head space to allow for expansion.)

The third rule of freezing

Label and date.  How long will it be good?

Safety: Food is preserved indefinitely at 0 degrees, though it needs to be handled properly before and after freezing. Bacteria or mold can become active again when thawed.

Freshness: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s maximum recommended storage times for quality range from a month (sausage) to a year (uncooked beef roasts). The main enemies are ice crystals and freezer burn.

Freezer burn — dryness caused by air — isn’t unsafe; just cut away the damaged spots.

Defrosting
The easy way is in the refrigerator, where food won’t get warm enough for bacterial growth. Next best are immersion in cold water (in a leakproof plastic bag) or, if you plan to cook immediately after thawing, in the microwave. The USDA warns against defrosting in your car, dishwasher or yard. Refreezing It’s OK to refreeze raw food that has been thawed in the refrigerator (though the texture may suffer). It’s OK to refreeze partly frozen food as long as it hasn’t been warmer than 40 degrees for more than two hours.

Containers
Food will be a lot better protected by containers intended for the freezer than by your old yogurt containers. A test of various methods by The Washington Post food staff yielded some general rules:

Plastic wrap and food storage bags tend to become less airtight over time. Even the heavier bags intended for freezing shouldn’t be trusted much past a month. For best results, use two layers, wrapping food in plastic wrap, then sealing it in a freezer bag. If microwaving to thaw, remember to vent bag at least an inch and watch that it doesn’t melt. Home vacuum-seal methods, like Food Saver, sometimes require multiple tries to get an airtight seal; most problematic are meats or items containing moisture. Recheck the seal after a month in the freezer.

Polypropylene freezer containers, of flexible plastic, are available in a range of prices, from supermarket products to more expensive models with easy clip or snap fasteners. The inexpensive ones are prone to lose their tight seal after a month in the freezer. And read the labels: Some are not made for microwave and dishwasher, and some should not be used for fats or oils. Polycarbonate freezer containers, of rigid, clear plastic, are good options for long-term freezing and for microwaving — though you’ll pay more. Brands include Freshvac and Snapware.

Eggs
Don’t freeze eggs in the shell. Egg whites can be frozen easily; some people freeze them in ice cube trays, then store in plastic bags. Yolks are more problematic, because they get gummy. The solution: Beat a quarter-cup of yolks with 1½ teaspoons of sugar or 1/8 teaspoon of salt, then freeze for up to three months. Then remember to use appropriately, sweet or savory.

Meat and poultry
They can be frozen in supermarket wrapping for a month or so; any longer than that, and you’ll want to give it more solid packaging. Meat vacuum-packed by the manufacturer generally doesn’t need more protection.

Produce
Most vegetables should be blanched before freezing — cooked in boiling water for two or three minutes — to halt enzyme activity that can diminish flavor and color. Most fruits benefit from freezing in syrup or with a sprinkling of sugar; some also need citric acid or ascorbic acid to prevent discoloration. Bags of purchased frozen fruits and vegetables should be double-packaged inside a freezer bag to prevent ice crystals and extend shelf life.

Sources:
Washington Post, U.S. Department of Agriculture Resources General freezing guidelines: www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets
Freezing produce: www.extension.umn.edu/living; click on “food preservation” in the left column

Products:
Among retailers of freezer containers are the Container Store and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

What’s in your freezer? Some of my freezer staples include:

Homemade Stock

Tomato sauce

Butter

Bacon

Grey Goose Vodka

Parmesan rinds

Ginger root

Cookie dough

Frozen bags of organic fruit (for yogurt smoothies)

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FitDay.com Free Online Diet & Weight Loss Journal

Posted on July 3, 2008. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Health & Beauty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I know it’s not the only one out there, but along with 2.2 million other members, I really like FitDay. FitDay is a free online diet journal that allows you to track your foods, exercises, weight loss, and goals. FitDay also has a PC version of the fitness journal for $29.95, but the free online version suits me just fine.

You can use your free online account to enter your daily foods and exercise. FitDay analyzes all your information and shows you:

– Daily Calorie Counts
– Carbs, Fat, and Protein
– Weight Loss and Goals
– Detailed Nutrition for 1,000’s of foods
– Long Term Diet Analysis
and much more…

It takes time initially to input any and everything you have eaten in a day, but once the data is in there, FitDay stores the info in a “recently eaten” list so it can be re-used. You can also create customized foods. For example, I don’t need to look up 1 cup steel cut oatmeal with 1/2 a granny smith apple or 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1 tsp of cinnamon every time I eat that for breakfast (a few times a week). I just need to select and enter it from my recently eaten list.

The detailed info and charts on nutrition show you how close you came in a day (or a week) or what you’re missing as the day progresses in meeting the FDA daily recommended allowances for vitamins and minerals. I take a multi-vitamin every day, so maybe it’s my personality, but now that I am tracking what I eat, I want the most bang for the buck or, in this case, calorie. FitDay certainly helps me really think about what I am putting in my mouth. I now find myself making better choices to lower consumption of “empty” calories while increasing my choices of things like nutrient rich “superfoods”. Kale has suddenly become part of my culinary repertoire, a first for me.

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