Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf (Gluten-Free!!!!)

This is my son's plate from dinner tonight
I usually make a double batch of this recipe in the hopes of having leftovers. This is one of maybe 4 recipes I make that the kids (and Dwayne) actually cheer for when they find out it's for dinner. I found the original recipe on allrecipes.com

1/4 cup quinoa (I use the red but the white is fine)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (Cuisinart!)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (20 oz) package of ground turkey (I use Jennie-O, lean)
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. hot pepper sauce (I usually use Frank's Red Hot; if you have a family member who's sensitive to spicy food you might want to use less or omit all together.)
2 Tbs. A1 sauce (the original recipe called for Worscestershire but I didn't have any so I subbed A1 and it was delicious!)
1 egg or egg replacer
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp A1
1 tsp water

1. I use my rice cooker to pre-cook the quinoa and follow the directions for brown rice. Here's how to cook the quinoa stove-top: Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. If you purchase raw quinoa, you will want to rinse it first. Quinoa in the box should be ready to go.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.

4. Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 Tbs. A1, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined (I put surgical gloves on the kids and have them help with this step). The original recipe has you form this into a loose loaf on a baking sheet. I actually make something more like meatballs in a muffin tin. It doesn't take as long to cook and it makes portion control simpler

5. The original recipe calls for mixing the brown sugar, 2 tsp. A1, and 1 tsp water in a small bowl and then rubbing it over the top of the meatloaf. I actually skip this step as the meatballs taste great and I figure "why add the extra sugar?" If you make it once and feel it needs a little extra sumthin', try adding the glaze next time.

6. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes for a loaf, about 15-25 minutes for balls, depending on size.

When I put this into the Weight Watchers recipe builder a few months ago it came back with 2 points for a muffin-tin sized ball. If you are tracking points, you should make a batch and figure out how many servings you end up with because the size of the balls can vary so much. I'll be interested to hear what other people get when they enter the recipe into the recipe builder. I have not figured out the exact nutrition information and I wouldn't use the original recipe as a guide because that author used fattier ground turkey and I changed a few of the ingredients. But I can tell you that it's got lots of great nutrition and is a yummy dish that will hopefully please your whole family the way it does mine!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Italian Bean Dip

This is a recipe I've made for a few parties and people seem to really enjoy it. It's great as a dip for veggies and would be fantastic as a sandwich spread. I put a TJ next to the ingredients I got at Trader Joes. I'm sure most are easily available at other stores as well. I "cook with love", which is the lazy cook's way of saying, "I don't measure ingredients". You might need to taste as you go and play around with it.

1 -- 15 oz. can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed TJ
1 -- 14 oz. can of Artichoke Hearts in water, drained TJ
1 -- 12 oz. jar of Fire Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers, drained TJ
1/2 -- bag of Sun-Dried Tomatoes (in a bag, NOT a jar of oil!) TJ
3 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar (splurge on the good stuff, it's worth it!)
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
Fresh Herbs to taste: Basil, Oregano, Sage
Can add garlic to taste (definitely more yummy, but also more smelly!)

All you do is throw the ingredients into a food processor and whirl away.

The recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups total. For a 1/4 cup serving it is 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus. It has fiber, protein, healthy fat, and above all, it's yummy, yummy, yummy, and easy, easy, easy! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Rock Me" Zumba Demo

If you'd like to see a routine we do in my Zumba and Boogie Body classes, click here. The song is "Rock Me" by the Bastard Winos and is available on iTunes. So get up and dance!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 Healthy Swaps for Cravings

Cravings suck. They can be induced by

1. Environmental triggers:
  • Seeing a photo of food or a commercial on t.v. -- I've heard the Food Network described as food porn.
  • A certain time of day -- "It's time for Grey's Anatomy and a glass of wine"
  • Something you just ate -- I always crave something sweet after I have something salty and spicy (like chips and salsa)
2. Emotional triggers:
  • You come home after a hard day at work and feel like you "deserve" certain foods
  • You are angry or sad about something and believe that food will help you feel better
  • For me, my cravings are sometimes not even about a specific food but about finding MORE food to eat. I don't get a chance to sit very often so sometimes, when I'm wiped out, I eat past satiety because it gives me an excuse to keep sitting. Hello binge.
3. Hormones:
  • Do I really need to explain?
So how do we deal with them? There are a lot of great answers to this. In The Beck Diet Solution, Judith Beck suggests distracting yourself or telling yourself forcefully, "No Choice!". She believes that if you tell yourself the food is absolutely off-limits, your brain will soon focus on something else and the craving will go away. Unfortunately for me, my brain is sometimes a petulant child and it doesn't like to follow directions. So in those instances, my trick is to substitute a better alternative for what I'm craving. Here are my personal swaps:

1.Salty/Crunchy/Filling: Rather than reach for a bag of chips, I pop some air-pop popcorn. I usually spray grapeseed oil with a mister over the popcorn. The grapeseed oil is a healthy fat, has very little of it's own taste, and gets "stuff" to stick to the popcorn. The mister ensures I don't use a lot. Weight Watchers even has a sprayer that measures out 1 Points Plus worth of oil. Depending on whether or not I'm watching my sodium, I use Hawaiian Salt, a BBQ seasoning, or some of the Mrs. Dash salt-free blends (I particularly like Fiesta Lime and Carribean Citrus) to add flavor. This usually takes care of the craving and I can eat enough to feel full and satisfied. Popcorn also has health benefits such as being high in fiber and packed with polyphenols, antioxidants that help battle all kinds of icky stuff our bodies are exposed to every day. Most of the antioxidants are in the hull, so make sure you're eating that part as well (at least the ones that don't get stuck in your teeth!).

2.  Sweet: Extra Sugar Free Dessert Delights gums. They have a wide range of flavors like Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Creme Pop, Rainbow Sherbet, Key Lime Pie, and Apple Pie (better than it sounds, I swear!). My personal favorites are Mint Chocolate Chip and Root Beer Float. They satisfy my craving for something sweet and my desire to chew. I know there are concerns about artificial sweeteners and I do try to avoid them, but I'm willing to indulge on some sugar free gum if it keeps me from eating a tub of frosting ;)

3. Just want MORE: Ginormous salads. I've been known to fill a large mixing bowl with spinach, spring mix lettuce, and a variety of veggies. Some of my favorite toppings are: roasted bell peppers, artichoke hearts packed in water, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, beets, snap peas, corn, grilled zucchini, asparagus tips, and avocado. If I actually want a meal, I might add beans, lentils, or meat such as grilled chicken, tuna salad or steak. I try to use oil-based salad dressings and sometimes I just mix up good balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I either dip my fork before I spear some salad, or I pour a measured amount on the salad and toss it really well. It takes a long time to eat a salad that big and by the time I'm done even MY jabber-jaw is too tired to chew anything else. Plus, I've just given my body lots of good nutrition!

4. Night-time snacking: Yogi Bedtime Tea and Angry Birds. The tea gives me something warm to put in my mouth and Angry Birds on my phone keeps my hands busy.

How do YOU deal with cravings?