Health, Health and fitness

Chicken, Spinach, Tomato and Feta Fettuccine

Recipe time!

I had some left over bbq chicken in my fridge, only one breast, and I was trying to figure out the best way to take that small amount of chicken and stretch it further to feed two people. I chose to make a pasta dish since the carbs would make us feel fuller.

You can use plain cooked chicken and any type of pasta you wish. I only had fettuccine (white flour) but in order to make this a little cleaner you could chose whole wheat pasta (if you like that sort of thing) or even make your own! UPDATE: I heard from a couple trusted friends that brown rice pasta is really good. I found some in the healthy section of the pasta isle in my regular grocery store.

The sauce will thicken if you let sit for longer but I was so hungry I just used a slotted spoon to dish up.

This recipe makes two healthy sized portions.

Chicken, Spinach, Tomato and Feta Fettuccine

2 servings of pasta, cooked al dente (any cut will do, I like longer cuts like spaghetti or linguini but only had fettuccine), reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 generous handfuls spinach, about 2 cups packed
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 chicken breast, cooked
2 oz feta cheese (goat cheese would also work and make the sauce creamier)
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente (chewy but firm)

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic and onion. Sauté until soft and fragrant (about 3 minutes).

Add spinach and sauté until wilted (1 minute).

Add canned tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. The starchy water will thicken your sauce. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce thickens.

Add chicken, cooked pasta, feta and seasonings and toss until all incorporated and warmed through. Add fresh parsley at the end and toss.

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Snap Saves

We all know that sometimes eating clean can be expensive. I’ve scoured over pages and pages of flyers from different grocery stores looking for the best deals and I’ve searched endlessly for coupons on the internet.

But I’ve noticed a sad trend: there are rarely coupons for fresh produce and fresh, wholesome foods altogether. Sure there are plenty of coupons for prepackaged, crap filled, frozen section, but what about the grass fed, hormone free chickens and beef? Why should we have to pay more to be healthy? Last I checked all those hormones and steroids cost a lot more than grass that was already growing.

Well I found some help. This app called Snap Saves. You can use it for android or iPhone.

It’s so simple. Just take a picture of your receipt and chose the offers you qualified for. There’s always tons of savings for produce. Usually $0.25-$1 for fresh produce, up to $10 for some items libel vitamins. Once you get to $20 you can request a cheque! It might not be much but every penny counts! Plus they always have a chance to win $100 by uploading a $40 receipt. And it’s not just for food either: right now there is air fresheners, Aveeno products, Lysol cleaning products and even wine!

This also allows us to be “extreme couponers” in a way in Canada since you can get the deal in the store and then go home and get more money back from your purchases.

I’ve got $7.25 in my account but I buy a lot of my produce at farmer’s markets (no receipts) so it’s kind of low.

You can sign up for this app (which is free) by clicking here. I wouldn’t promote it if I didn’t use it and like it. I really do use it every time I shop at a brick and mortar. It doesn’t cost you anything, I promise, and I’ve seen people actually get checks! I can’t wait for my first one!

snap saves

Photo courtesy of http://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=w2h5fl0Wf1CZUM&tbnid=d81jrOSxrSZc9M:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.canadianfreestuff.com%2Fsnap-saves-canada-offers%2F&ei=JPHLU-bvLMXwoASE-4GgCg&bvm=bv.71198958,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNF7D8EEjCOwbskXoQpKMBNmpE-RdA&ust=1405960784598547

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A Little Off Topic

I haven’t been around much these last couple days and for that, I apologize. I have been working hard to try and take this blog to the next level, to revamp it so as to make it more interesting to read. Then, I got so caught up in trying to make some extra cash out of the deal, I lost sight of why I actually do it in the first place: because I love it. I love just writing my thoughts and feelings down. I love sharing with all of you my day to day life and I love that you love reading about it.

Then one thing after another happened to us and it seemed like the universe was working against us. First, our dishwasher went on us, then my husband broke his cell phone, then the car was acting funny, then the truck died, the next day the car died, then a couple hours later my work laptop crashed.

It is taking every effort I’ve got to stay positive and look on the brighter side of things. It would be all too easy to bury my head in a large carton of double chocolate fudge ice cream, but I settled for a beer and a slice of lemon cake with raspberries. Only one slice.

It’s my cheat of the week.

Anyways, I promise to get back on track and keep on writing daily, or every other day maybe. I will continue my quest to rid my fridge and pantry of the processed and the refined, of the artificial and the chemical. I vow to continue to provide healthy alternatives to old habits and hopefully will pick up a good workout routine as well.

Thanks for reading folks.

P.S. If you have a special way you use to stay positive in troubled times let me know by leaving a comment.

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Jamie Oliver Brings It Home

While searching my TED Talks app for something completely different, I happened upon a presentation by Jamie Oliver. Perhaps you’ve already seen it. It has over 5,000,000 views. If you haven’t seen it you can do so here: 

He really drives home how important it is for our health and well being to eat clean and how important it is to teach our children about how to prepare and eat real, wholesome food, which was one of the main reasons I started this whole clean eating experiment. I hope that, through my own actions, I can teach my young son the importance of cooking at home and eating right.

I am not saying that my child will never set foot in a McDonald’s or taste the sweet amazingness of Ben & Jerry’s (which is still on sale, by the way). But I hope he will develop a mature palate and a love of all foods whole. Baby fat, after all, is only cute on babies!

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Slowing Things Down

It’s been 30 days since I’ve started this clean eating experiment and I feel really good about it. My body is not quite back to where it was pre pregnancy, but it’s getting there.

I am sitting pretty at a healthy 130lbs, my skin is clear, my energy levels are great (for a new mom), and my waist is slimming down. AND (tmi coming up) my poops have gotten so much better! You can always judge how well your diet is by your bowel movements. I found this cartoon that helps explain my point:

20140714-081011-29411129.jpgCourtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/25/poop-and-health_n_5530202.html

Lets just say, I was eating way too much fatty foods before.

I have decided that telling you day to day what I am eating is getting monotonous and, frankly, I am getting bored with it. Because of this, I will not be updating this blog daily unless I find something worth discussing and feel inspired to do so.

Also, until my fridge and pantry has been cleaned out of it, I will sort of, kind of, be reverting back to not-so-clean ingredients. I just can’t throw out food when there are still cliches in Africa. Plus, my budget for groceries is running out and I can’t run to the store every time I run out of something healthy when I have a perfectly good, albeit, not so healthy alternative in my cupboard. I will only do this occasionally and sparingly, however.

For instance: I have some white flour left and I am running low on whole wheat flour. I will use half and half in my recipes until the flour is gone. I still have some artificial coffee creamer in my fridge (notice how these expire like 6 months later?) and I will use it up in my morning coffees before buying sweetened condensed milk (which is the same price!) to make my own. I will keep my white pasta but only because whole wheat pasta is disgusting. I will, however, limit my pasta intake to once or twice a month.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading about my clean eating experiment as much as I enjoyed writing it and I hope you continue to enjoy what I have to say about the clean eating revolution. Thanks for all your support. Happy reading, happy eating.

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Health

Day 30: Sometimes Whole Wheat Isn’t A Good Thing

It’s so hot out, I am melting. After a quick breakfast of strawberry whole wheat French toast (good), my son and I packed quickly to head to the beach. Unfortunately the sun was hiding behind a cloudy haze so we left after a couple hours.

Just in time for the farmer’s market near by! I was looking for some quality natural bacon from a local farm but, sadly, there was no meat guy. I grabbed some potatoes, a large container of raspberries and a yellow zucchini. I had $10 left so I decided to splurge on lunch. They had a food truck at the market. Anyone who knows me knows that I have an obsession for food trucks. This one has a pizza forno and makes pretty good pizzas. Although the crust was made with white flour the ingredients were simple: yeast, flour, salt and oil. I ordered the Margherita which used fresh tomatoes and basil straight from one of the vendors. It was damn good pizza. My splurge of the week.

For dinner I decided to try this creamy avocado pasta. I thought I would make it healthier by using whole wheat pasta. I cooked the pasta (4 servings) according to the directions on the box. I tested the pasta before draining to ensure it was al dente. It tasted fine. I drained the pasta and mixed it with the sauce (which took forever in my blender! I really need a food processor) and some sautéed prawns. It did not taste so good. The pasta, upon hitting the sauce, turned to cardboard. It was like eating a pile of wet saw dust. We had nothing else so we both choked it down but I threw out the leftovers and I don’t even feel bad about it. Somethings were never meant to be whole wheat.20140714-074749-28069890.jpg

For desert (I had to cleanse my palate after that one) I made a strawberry frozen yogurt earlier using this recipe. I was using my blender (again, really needed a food processor) so I did it in batches. One cup of strawberries, one tablespoon agave, 1/8 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice at a time. Tedious, but it got the job done. I made this in the afternoon after the beach and froze it until after dinner, about 6 hours or so. Sweet and tart, albeit delicious. Perfect ending to a hot, hot summer day.

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Day 29: Revamping Old Classics

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of telling you what I ate for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, I’m going to share with you a classic recipe that I swapped out some ingredients to make more “clean”.

That’s right I’m not going to tell you that I had strawberry overnight oats for breakfast and Albacore Tuna Niçoise salad for lunch. I’m not.

Instead I’ll tell you about just dinner:

My dad used to make us this Spanish rice casserole all the time when I still lived at home and we all loved it. Except for mom. Three against one, sorry mom.

Anyways, when I started making it for my husband a couple years ago, it became a weekly staple in our house. The recipe used ground beef and white rice. Well I thought I would take it to a whole new level today by substituting lean ground turkey and quinoa.

An interesting fact I found after was that, nutritionally speaking, there is not a huge difference between extra lean ground beef and lean ground turkey. In fact, the beef might be a better option, I am now reading.

Similar in calories, extra lean beef actually contains less fat, more iron and less sodium.

What ever animal you choose just make sure it’s grain fed, and hormone free if you are eating clean.

Where my revamping really makes a difference is swapping out the white rice for quinoa. Quinoa packs a punch in the protein department as well has more fibre, folate, iron and zinc than rice. It even beats out brown rice.

So here it is:

Turkey Spanish Quinoa (serves 3-4, unless your really hungry like my husband usually is)

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground turkey breasts (or extra lean ground beef)

1 onion (I used red), diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 sweet bell pepper, diced (I used red)

1 large (28oz) can of diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp salt

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 bay leaf

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 Celsius.

Sauté turkey, onion and garlic in large skillet until no longer pink. Drain.

Add red pepper and cook until slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Combine cooked turkey mixture and the rest of the ingredients in a 3-4 qt Dutch oven. Make sure all the ingredients are incorporated and you don’t have all the quinoa concentrated at the bottom.

Cook in oven for 65 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Remove bay leaf before serving. Enjoy! 20140713-091554-33354147.jpg  

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