Tag Archives: low calorie

Quick & Easy Julienned Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Thyme

<img alt="quick easy zucchini and yellow squash with thyme"/>

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve come across at least one comment I’ve made about squash in general.  It’s something I didn’t learn to like until I was in my early twenties with two babies at home and a small garden that produced zucchini the size of battleships.  I became quite adept at figuring out what to do with those behemoths, and more importantly, our resources were meager, so being creative with squash became a fascination in general.

It seems like that was a few lifetimes ago, and since then, although I continue to learn about and experiment with different kinds of squash, I am always amazed to find how good it really is even with very little preparation.

When the friend I was visiting recently on my trip east graciously allowed me to prepare dinner my last night with her, she volunteered to make a veggie side dish which happened to be squash.  She used a julienne peeler tool I’ve had in my kitchen for several years and have been less than successful with to slice some zucchini she’d purchased from a roadside stand that day.

I’ve only recently tried spaghetti squash and love it, but this was so much more easy — no baking required!  And yes, it really did remind me of pasta if I need to say that.

Have you tried squash prepared this way before?

Continue reading

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Chilies with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

When you live in San Diego, it’s not difficult to find great Mexican food as long as you’re willing to avoid the more obvious chains.  Each neighborhood seems to have a local favorite and as much as many can agree that there are special places tough to compete with, sometimes, close to home is just better — especially when dinnertime is approaching and the resident cook isn’t in the mood to fire up the stove.  My husband and I might email one other on a day like that with a question about dinner.

Me:  Not sure I’m into cooking tonight.

Him:  Want me to pick something up?

Me:  Smack your lips together and tell me what sounds good.

Him:  Not Chinese.

Me:  Mexican?

Him:  Carnitas plate?

Although this wasn’t necessarily an every week event, it was very nearly that.

If you asked me what I miss most about the change in eating habits I made four months ago, I’d say I miss Mexican food — not chocolate, not pasta, or bread.  Mexican food from the neighborhood favorite we call Los Dos on Garnet in Pacific Beach across the street from Albertson’s is what I miss.  It’s the most tiny place you can imagine, barely large enough for more than a couple of people to stand inside to place an order, and an enormous stainless steel range I swear the shop was built around.

It isn’t that one taco shop’s menu is  different from any of the dozens of other shops within a reasonable driving distance — it’s more about how each prepares those items.  The salsa, or guacamole — and especially the refried beans — many will say the particular flavor of typical menu items are what makes a shop their favorite.  I miss the carnitas from Los Dos, a plate of food I can smell the minute my husband walks in the door with it.  Wrapped in foil and filled with little mounds of shredded pork, rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo just waiting to be loaded into a piping hot flour tortilla, smothered in both red and green salsa, and then folded like a burrito.  Oh, my.  So very, very delicious.  Although I rarely finished the entire plate, I routinely failed at not eating that second flour tortilla all by itself — the giant sized version.

Each time after dinner, with my stomach so uncomfortably full I swore I’d never order another carnitas plate, it was only a matter of weeks before I’d find myself in the same situation, feeling miserable.  I don’t miss that feeling — something that comes more from overeating in general.  And because my success rate at eating only a portion of that plate — about half — was so poor, I decided doing without was the best way to go.

So how have I compensated for not eating something I used to enjoy so much?  By choosing similar flavors in far more manageable quantities that are delicious — and doing some heavy planning when we do decide to have take out for dinner.

There’s nothing quite like the flavor of a roasted poblano chili, and when they’re stuffed with the perfect mixture of ingredients, my taste buds are completely satisfied.  So does that make this recipe “Mexican?”  Not by a long shot, but the flavors are reminiscent and that’s good enough for me right now.

And if you’ve never roasted a chili, this is a great reason to learn.  It’s easier than you might think!

Continue reading

Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

It’s official.  My husband and I are two months into our decision to change the way we eat and guess what?  It works!  Works, as in, we feel pretty darn good and have lost weight.  His loss of 18 lbs. has been steady and sure with minor plateaus here and there, and true to my personality, my loss has been a series of ups and downs — most recently dipping to 14.5 lbs. then back up to my goal of 12 lbs. total for the two months.  Six pounds a month.  That’s all I need.  Only six.  I can do that for the next six months, right?

Whew.

When I catch myself analyzing it all too much, he patiently reminds me we said we weren’t going to turn any of this into a crazy hair-splitting quest to starve ourselves to thinness in as little time as possible, or to beat ourselves up over numbers on a scale.  And no, we weren’t going to count every single calorie we ingest.  Instead, it is more to consider that we do have to exercise more consistently and appropriately, and also monitor the types and quantities of food we eat throughout each day to balance everything out.  I guess I just need to do all of that while waving my arms about in the air.  But, we can already see changes in one another, and that’s fun.  Did I say fun?  All right, then.  Motivating.

Continue reading

Crab Stacks with Ginger Lime Dressing

If the end of January is approaching then I know I can expect a variety of things:  emails from sites I subscribe to sharing the perfect Super Bowl snacks, bloggers swapping their tried and true party dish faves, and people talking about whether they’re planning on a game day get together or not.  None of it has been discussed in our house yet, because we’ve been busy, busy, busy with life enjoying a long weekend making like tourists in West Hollywood, soaking up the last bits of our youngest’s company before he returns to San Francisco for the spring semester, celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries, and in the past couple of days, nursing one of our cats back to health after a run in with a neighbor’s kitty.  Goodness!  And it’s not over yet.  Any time now, my husband will ask about what’s on our  Super Bowl agenda.  It always seems to be a last minute sort of thing most years, and that’s just fine with me because it doesn’t take too much thought to decide which snacks football fans will expect to have at their fingertips whether they’re for our small family, or a larger group.

I doubt there has ever been a time we haven’t had fresh salsa or pico de gallo with guacamole and tortilla chips.  A pot of chili with all the fixin’s and a salad for halftime eats are also the norm even though the chili recipe varies from one year to the next.  But I’m also known for sneaking in something that may raise eyebrows, causing certain guests to cast one another a nervous glance before pointing and asking, “What is that?” then politely suppressing the urge to continue with, “Do I have to eat it?”  as they reel their fingers back in.  Actually, they now ask, “How do I eat it?” because it seems my food often has rules that accompany it — or must seem like it does.   Is it supposed to be dipped, or layered?  Which of the ingredients on the plate create the best bite?  Is it finger food, or do I need a plate and fork?  To their credit, they seem much more enthusiastic than they did years ago, so I know my risks to encourage people to try something new haven’t failed, and that makes me happy.

Continue reading

Chicken Wrap with Spicy Greens

I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable.  It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house.  At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun.  But I’m a gardener — I always have been.  And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.

A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound.  Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely.  The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise.  Tearing it down took little thought.

I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots.  About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well.  This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot.  It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box.  And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot.  Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?

Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to.  In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs.  I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be.  Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.

My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.

Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book.  All in due time.

Are you a gardener?  Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?

Continue reading