Here Fishy Fishy…

I remember when I was younger I had a huge aversion to fish, like many children do.  The texture, flavor, and smell are unlike anything else.  I used to fight my parents to not have to eat it, used to get chicken or something of the sort at Red Lobster if we went there (and yumm, yes, the biscuits).  As I got older, I started to LOVE fish.  All kinds of fish.  And SUSHI.  Oh, what would I do if I didn’t have sushi?!

When my mini me got diagnosed with food allergies to Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Fish, and Shellfish, my thoughts immediately went to  what she couldn’t have, and how we were going to be able to find foods for her to have.  I worked thru it.  I found substitutions for some of our favorite foods and got creative in the kitchen.  We ate less processed foods than ever!  We found that Oreos are actually Vegan, so she could have small indulgences like the rest of the kids she knew as she grew up.

Earlier this summer, we had our annual allergy appointment where the doctor did a skin test for some of her allergies.  We were ESTATIC to find that she could eat fish and shell fish.  She was so excited to be able to eat fish and shellfish, even though she had never tasted them before.  Just given the opportunity to eat something she has never been allowed to had her all reved up.  We bought some fish sticks the very next day (I figured that was a safe bet for a 3 year old to try fish for the first time) and cooked them up.  She sat down and tried them.

She LOVED fish.  I was so scared that she was going to not like it, and we would have gone thru all of the testing for no reason.  Since then, we’ve had shrimp, salmon burgers, and pollock burgers, all of which she loved.

Last night was the true test… I had plans to make fish tacos.  Not too extreme, but still something I would picture a 3 year old eating.  So I went ahead and started making them.  I didn’t write down a recipe, but it was simple enough that I’ll give details below.  I even had some slaw and avocado to put on top.  I tell you, this small child of mine will try anything once!  I put a taco together for her, and was expecting her to try it and hate it… But she didn’t!  She loved it!  Devoured the whole thing in a matter of minutes, and asked for more.  She makes my heart smile – her courage and adventurous nature makes me so proud to be her mom, and makes me want to continue to strive to be better in every way.

Oven Roasted "Blackened" Tilapia Slaw Slaw & Avocado Smart & Delicious Mini Multi-Bran Wraps Tilapia with Seasoning

Oven Roasted “Blackened” Tilapia Tacos with Slaw

  • Tilapia seasoned with chili powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • Baked for about 15-20 at 400 if frozen (which mine was because I didn’t think far enough ahead to take out of the freezer), less if fresh or thawed
  • Cole Slaw Mix combined with Walden Farms Thousand Island dressing and put in the fridge while baking

I topped small multi bran tortillas with some crumbled tilapia, a bit of slaw, and some chopped avocado.

I hope you enjoy if you give it a try!

Go home Mother Nature… You’re Drunk

brrrrr

Brrrr…. This extreme winter weather is about killing me!  Woke up this morning to -9 degrees with a feels-like temperature of -28.  That’s in Fahrenheit to all my international, folks.  IMG_7220  Not even kidding.  Right now, it is actually warmer in Antarctica than it is Chicago.  It’s a nice 29 degrees Fahrenheit there.  See ya later folks, I’m moving to Antarctica.  Go home, Mother Nature… You’re Drunk.

The temperatures are more than just cold, they are draining.  I used to be able to get outside for a run in the mornings, but when it is this cold (anything lower than 15 degrees I don’t run outside) I don’t even bother – too dangerous for me.  No outside run, means no fresh air, no Vitamin D, no energy.  I’ve been supplementing with my ½ bottles of 5 hour energy pre-workouts, a nice little shot of espresso after my workouts, and a mug of coffee on the way into work.  This is probably waaaaayyyy too much caffeine, but I’m dragging.

Because I’m dragging, and it’s the first full week back to work, I wanted to have some easy meals to be able to fix for us.  The GIANT batch of soup I made this weekend helped with warming me up throughout the week, and Mini Me loves eating soup, but sometimes you just want a little something different.  Different, yet easy.  Enter cobb salad.  To me, it feels a little more like summer when I eat salads.  Don’t ask me why, but cheers me up a bit.  I’m funny like that, I know.

Easy Cobb Salad for Two

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Ingredients:

  • 9 ounces romaine mix (one bag, I used Dole)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped (I cheated, bought precooked and peeled eggs from Eggland’s Best)
  • 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ avocado, about three ounces
  • 4 ounces ham, chopped (cheated again, bought the pre chopped stuff)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons ranch dressing (I like Walden Farms)

Feel free to add other ingredients for your tastes or macros!

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Directions:

Prepare all ingredients.

This took me about two minutes.  I split the bag of lettuce between two bowls.  I used a fancy egg masher (like the one in this little set – Multi Function Kitchen Tool) and easily mashed my eggs.  Measured and crumbled my block of blue cheese (less expensive than the already crumbled cheese).  Sliced my avocado and weighed it to be sure I was getting the right amounts.  I was a little over, so I let Mini snack on some pieces – she loves it and I really can’t blame her.  Weighed and split the ham between the two bowls (chicken would be a good addition for extra protein, too).  Used my kitchen sheers to cut my green onion directly into the salad bowls.   Measured and poured my dressing into the bowls.

Viola!  Yummy salad done and in a hurry.

Sure – I could have done something fancy or taken the time to prep all of the ingredients myself, but if it’s healthy, yummy, and makes us all happy and think of summer (ok maybe that is just me), why not?

Enjoy!

What’s After Christmas, Mommy?

IMG_6821     After all the holiday celebrations were completed in our house, the question we kept hearing from Mini Me was “What’s after (fill in blank with a holiday)?”  I would get her a calendar and explain to her when things happen, but (1) she can’t read, (2) she has no concept of time (nap time and night time are the same concept to her – she sleeps and wakes up), and (3) she will just forget anyway.  Oh, to be a young child again.

“What’s after Christmas?” Mini Me questions me one night while I’m making dinner.  I open the fridge, faced with leftovers from various gatherings.  Yes, indeed… What is after Christmas?  A fridge full of leftovers and a puzzle of how to put them all together.  One item is glaring me right in the face, taking up an entire shelf in and of itself – The Veggie Tray.  Every one of my family’s gatherings has one, and every family gathering there is one left over.  Too many other yummy things to feast on, I suppose.  My cousin was gracious enough to let me take it home (thanks, Sarah!), knowing that we eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day.  But, the holidays came and went, and the ominous Veggie Tray was still taking up shelf space instead of space in our bellies.

I decided that I was going to use that Veggie Tray once and for all, cleaning out additional fresh veggies from our produce drawer along the way!  Challenge….. Accepted!

Enter….  Veggie Tray Soup.


Veggie Tray Soup

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
7 ounces celery, diced (about 6 stalks)
7 ounces carrots, diced (about 1 ½ cups baby carrots)
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
80 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
14.5 ounce can of diced chipotle chili tomatoes
1.5 ounce sugar snap beans (about ¾ cups)
3.5 ounce grape tomatoes, quartered (about 1 cup)
15 ounces broccoli, chopped (one 12 oz bag, plus around 2 cups)
7 ounces (half package) polish kielbasa, cut into ¼” coins and quartered
1.5 pounds chicken breast, cut into small cubes

 

Directions:

Prepare all ingredients as listed.  I chop all vegetables, then sausage, and finally chicken so that the raw food is the last thing to go on the cutting board.  Even though it all gets cooked together in this meal, I’m pretty methodical on how it gets prepared.

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Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add celery, carrots, onions, salt, and pepper.  Saute until fragrant and onions are translucent.

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Add all remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.

Cover and bring to a boil (about 5 minutes).  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

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Makes 8 large servings (around 3 cups each).

Cals – 320, Fat – 13g, Carbs – 15g, Protein – 34g

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I think she is satisfied with what came after Christmas.

Starting Somewhere

The illusive first post…  Bahhh!!!!

Having some time off work for the holidays, I found myself being drawn into the kitchen rather than the gym.  (Ok, ok…  I also spent my fair share of time eating and drinking in the kitchen over break as well, but we will get to that later…)  My brain was in creative overdrive.  I was able to be creative without the constraints of work bogging me down.  I knew I needed to get back on track with eating right, and being the healthy caregiver that I am deep down I knew that had to start in the kitchen.  No more chicken nuggets for Mini Me or takeout for D (the hubs) and I.

Cooking from scratch is something that I love to do, but I usually haven’t just put recipes together on my own.  I’ve usually started with someone else’s and adjusted.  I suppose that is what most chefs do, right?

Well, yesterday I made my interpretation of a Jambalaya (no shellfish because of Mini Me’s allergies).  After serving it, D says, “This is good.  Remember this recipe to make again.”  Crap.  I was so busy winging it, I failed to record what it was… I’ve never actually turned a meal I made into a recipe before.  I was able to piece it together so you can taste it, as well. Hopefully you like it!

Jambalaya

Jambalaya 1.2.14

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 14oz package andouille sausage (I would have prefered this, but had kielbasa to use), cut into 1/4″ coins, sliced in half
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package of frozen three color bell peppers (or fresh peppers)
  • 14.5oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1T olive oil, separated
  • 1.5T cumin
  • 1.5T paprika
  • 1T oregano
  • 1T dried cilantro
  • 1/2t cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Directions:

  1. After prepping all ingredients, heat 1/2T olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken breast to sear on all sides.  Remove from pan until later.
  2. Add remaining 1/2T olive oil to pan, and add in onions and garlic. Saute until fragrant and onions are becoming translucent.
  3. Add the package of frozen peppers (or fresh), and cook until peppers are no longer frozen.
  4. While peppers are cooking, mix cumin, paprika, oregano, cilantro, and cayenne pepper to the crushed tomatoes and stir until combined.
  5. Add chicken back into the skillet, and add sausage.
  6. Pour tomato mixture into skillet. Stir to combine.
  7. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Enjoy!

Serve over rice or quinoa if desired.