Sunday, May 29, 2011

Best Work Lunch Ever!

I love making people jealous of my delicious food, don't you?
The last 2 days I've been especially mean with my lunch at work.
The drool my co-workers exhibited made me very very proud. Now you can cause an uprising at work too. Here's how:

Yeah, I know right? I made that at work... in 3 minutes....on a paper plate...with leftovers.
*insert evil laughter here*

Best Work Lunch Ever
1 ounce salmon
1 huge hand full Spinach
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup leftover whole wheat Couscous
McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
Combine salmon, couscous and mushrooms on a microwavable plate. Sprinkle some sort of seasoning on top. I'm addicted to McCormick's Steak Seasoning and put it on almost everything. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until the salmon flakes apart easily. Tear the spinach apart and toss it into the warmed mixture. As the spinach is warmed it will wilt, this is good... we like this. Now we eat it.

Now sure, you could pre-mix this together and heat it up at the office, but there is something fun about building a beautiful lunch in front of your peers.

I also broke the rules here. The allowed protein is 1 ounce, it's about the size of my thumb. A cooked piece of meat, the size of a deck of cards is equal to 3 ounces. I'm pretty sure in my hunger I tossed in about that entire deck. I also doubled the veggies.

I'm not too worried though because there were no fats added to this meal. None. Plus it was amazing.... completely amazing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ugh, that was tonight?! Couscous Salad

Last Minute Couscous Salad
2 cups whole wheat couscous
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 cucumbers
1 container grape tomatoes
1/4 cup green onion
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup sunflower seeds, deshelled
Rush into the house, try not to forget the kid in the car or trip over the mountain of shoes by the door. Bring chicken stock to a boil in the microwave. Quickly chop cucumber into bite sized pieces. Add couscous to chicken stock, stir and let sit. Resume chopping cucumber, or begin chopping tomatoes and green onion if you are one of them over-achieving choppers. Contemplate how nice grape tomatoes are because if time is really short you can just toss the whole darn container in with bothering to slice them first.

The couscous usually needs about 5 minutes to set so from here there are a few choices:
1) You can keep the couscous and veggies separate until you get to your party where you mix it together in a way that looks effortless.

2) You can quickly spread the couscous out on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil. Toss it in your freezer for a few minutes to chill.  Then combine everything into a fantsy pantsy serving bowl before anyone knew that you were in a panic.

3) You can mix the veggies and couscous and dressing into one container and run while praying there are no couscous bits stuck to your bits.

Whatever tactic you choose, always keep the feta and sunflower seeds out until the couscous is cooled.

This is actually a great recipe to whip up when you have plenty of time to let it cool and there are many variations on it. Try adding red pepper, or use balsamic dressing instead of the Italian. Leftover shrimp and chicken would be great, as well as any leftover roasted veggies.

For those of us on the exchange diet, this is a perfect lunch idea. It's got the carb/protein/veggie ratio that can be easily adjusted with what is on hand. The sunflower seeds count as the fat in this meal, so limit it to about 1 tbsp if making individual portions. The dressing can be counted as a free exchange as long as it is fat free.

This is a great party salad, and a fantastic way to use leftovers. Let me know what variations you come up with.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vegetable Mind Games - Spinach

To start I must admit that there are a few spinach dishes I like. However, most of them are delicious because they have smothered out all spinach flavor.

So why change that? Well I know there are a lot of nutritional benefits to spinach thanks to the teachings of Popeye the Sailor Man (I'm strong to the finich cause I eats me spinach.). I also know that spinach is a better source of iron than ground hamburger. And I recently learned that the list of vitamins it contains is so long my eyes glaze over while reading it. Don't believe me, try the link. It's also pretty cheap, so perhaps it is time to get over the cheesy gooey hurdle and learn to eat it plain.

So here it is, my first attempt to fully embrace the spinach flavor.
Truthfully I am still surprised at how easy and delicious it was.
Quick Spin Spinach
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, pre-sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic from the jar
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Saute mushrooms and garlic in oil for about a minute. Toss in spinach continue stirring until wilted. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Done. Told ya it was easy.

For the record, I'm not abandoning hope of a cheesy healthy hypo meal with spinach...some dreams are too good to deny.
Hmmm... actually I think I'll try this with whole wheat pasta and alfredo sauce sometime soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fake Fancy Fish

My husband and daughter haven't fully converted to my Hypo menu, and sometimes it's nice just make my own thing. One of my favorites is Fake Fancy Fish.  I buy frozen Tilapia fillets from Walmart, 6 fillets costs me about $4. While you could use almost any fresh or frozen fish that is available, frozen works the best for me because of the convenience and Tilapia goes well with many flavors.

Fake Fancy Fish

1 frozen tilapia fillet
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs capers
salt and pepper
1/2 tbs lemon juice

Grab tilapia out of freezer, unwrap it (duh). Toss in a small saute pan with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat before you turn, season the other side and cook another 3-5 minutes. Now I have to warn you that the garlic likes to pop and I would highly recommend a splatter screen to protect yourself from garlic missiles.
It will start to flake when it's done. I generally get impatient and break it into pieces as I check it's flakiness. However, when the minutes of torture have subsided and the fish is done, toss in the capers and lemon juice.  Serve over 1/2 cup whole wheat noodles with a side of steamed spinach for a nice fancy presentation.
Seems fancy, but it's super simple and very delicious.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Night of 1000 Polenta

Since my move from the traditional, predictable, delicious Midwest I have become infatuated with trying new foods. I love it here in the Seattle area because of all the different cultures represented culinary.
Despite this love of new food, I get quite nervous to prepare it on my own without having it somewhere else first. Obviously, because of that, I don't do it very often.

Now, after seeing the delicious pictures of polenta posted by fellow blogger Mai Ling over at Ruining Mom's Recipes I knew I had to try this one personally undiscovered dish on my own. Her Cinco de Mayo spin on the dish looked easy and so so yummy I was sold. Definitely check out her version.

Anyway I made a quick stop at Trader Joes over a lunch break and found the super affordable tube (yes a tube... kinda like what hamburger comes in) of polenta. I planned to follow her recipe...sorta. I didn't plan on using beans because 1)I don't like them, 2) I don't see a reason to change that in the near future and 3) I am stubborn. (Sorry mom maybe one day I'll convert to a bean eater.)

Instead I had leftover chicken that I had cooked with taco seasoning to fill in for the protein. I knew I had everything else I needed in the fridge so I sliced up the polenta and started cooking it in a little oil in a frying pan.

Next step, get the remaining ingredients ready. That is when I found the badness. Turns out that I had a container of sour cream for her amazing sauce, what I lacked was anything edible inside that container.
This is when all plans went out the window and I informed my family that we were gonna have a Polenta Party!

Any leftovers or condiments that seemed polenta friendly were put on the counter. As they finished cooking we took turns creating and eating our masterpieces. Please excuse the messy plates, they were far too good to pause and re-plate for you people. I mean, you're worth it and all, but we were hungry.

Pico De Gallo, Chicken Mozzarella Polenta
Buffalo Chicken Polenta
Balsamic, Olive, Garlic, Tomato and Mozzarella Polenta
Olive, Garlic, Tomato Hot Sauce and Mozzarella Polenta
Hot Dog, Tomato and Cheese Polenta
The winner: Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Polenta
So it wasn't literally 1000 polenta... the name just sounded perfectly dramatic. Overall I think it turned out pretty good and could actually be a great party food when done on purpose. Maybe one night we'll host a Polenta Bar and have even more fun varieties to share.
Oh yeah, and the carb, protein, fat ratio was perfect for us on the exchange diet. Frank's Red Hot is considered a FREE EXCHANGE, which is great because I could drink that stuff. Throw in a bowl of steamed broccoli and a banana for a very well rounded hypoglycemic dinner.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The short end of the genetics stick

As long as I can remember I've always been a sickly child. My family called me a hypochondriac so often that it could have been my middle name.  They thought I was exaggerating my ailments and I will neither confirm or deny that. (I was a good student, but PE in Middle School is tough for the tubby kids.)

Anyway, the more I think about it...that word haunts me. Anytime I feel an illness or an ailment my first inclination is that I am being a hypochondriac. I don't want people to see me as the girl that cried headache. I don't want people to see me as the girl who is always sick, so I try as hard as I can to suck it up and carry on with life. 

I've joked recently about my 3 week headache and then my week of dizziness and "old lady knee" that wouldn't support me...but it wasn't until the mobility in my arm started to go that I admitted defeat. Ok, ok, it wasn't until my co-workers insisted I was having a stroke that I decided to call the nurse.  After a quick 8 hours in the Emergency Room I was released with medication pumping through my veins for Atypical Migraines.

First off I'd like to say that my symptoms never prompted Migraines under WebMD's list of "WTF could be wrong with you." Instead I got the slew of possible infections and tumors. I'm very well versed in infections, and that other option was too scary to face. I'm not to thrilled about their error. (Dear WebMD, please fix your symptom checker for all the other chicken-shits like me that are too afraid to see a real doctor.)

Next I will admit that regardless of how scary the news could have been I was wrong to wait so long. After the Hypoglycemic diagnosis I became pretty good at telling when my blood sugar was getting low. I learned to distinguish the excited or nervous jitters from the "dang-it, I forgot to eat again" jitters. As much as I want to deny it, the Hypo label helped me listen to my body.

With the three week headache and the partial paralysis I knew something was wrong but couldn't face it. So here I sit, publicly admitting to you all that I am in pain with only a little fear that you'll call me a hypochondriac. (Please be nice.)

I know that I have been given the short end of the genetics stick. Maybe one day I'll blog about all the things wrong with me.  Feel free to email your suggestions so I can censor them as I see fit.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Egg Fail

I meant to write this sooner, but I haven't felt like myself all week, probably getting sick or something. Anyway, the problem with feeling off is that everything else seems to unravel. True to form I had several cooking disasters.
The best one started with the Easter eggs that I hardboiled. I took one to work for lunch only to discover it wasn't hard boiled at all. There was this half cooked, liquidy mess inside the colorful tie-dye shell.
It was awful.
I was annoyed.
Luckily I had a bowl underneath the egg so I was able to catch the eewey gooey contents. In my desperation I raided the fridge at work. Inside I found several packets of mayo and mustard along with relish. And this is how the Hypo Egg Salad was born.

Hypo Egg Salad 
1 failed Easter egg, or a fresh uncooked egg
1 packet of mustard
1 packet fat free mayo
1 packet relish
Crack egg into a microwavable bowl. Scramble the egg with a fork. Add some salt and pepper and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir, breaking the cooked egg into pieces. Microwave an additional 15-30 seconds or until fully cooked.
Break the cooked egg into chunks and stir in mustard, mayo and relish to taste. I used less than half a packet of mayo, half a packet of mustard and a small blob of relish.
Let it chill in the freezer or eat it warm like I do.
Because I keep a packet of whole wheat tortillas at the office this really was the perfect outcome to an other wise failed lunch.

So I guess my Easter Egg fail wasn't such a bad thing after all.
For a hypoglycemic meal this is pretty great. The egg is my one protein, the mayo is obviously the fat, mustard and relish are free, whole wheat wrap for the carb and some carrots and a grapefruit to round out the meal.
I even made it this weekend for my non-hypoglycemic neighbors, a 3 year old and a picky husband, they all loved it.
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