Simple Curried Chicken Salad

10 May

I haven’t posted in months, but since I just survived my SEVENTH Chicago winter, I am in the mood for crispy salads and fresh ingredients!

I am also, quite frankly, pretty sick of being diabetic right now, and feeling sad that I can’t subsist on a diet of Italian-style thin crust pizza and ice cream (not that anyone really can, but the blood sugar swings are affecting my mood).

So, I dragged myself to the grocery store after a week of resisting it, did some batch-cooking, and I’m already feeling healthier and more motivated. My blood sugars are liking it, too.

See below for my lunch all week (and sometimes dinner):

1-2 cooked, chilled chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
1 small apple, chopped (Granny Smith are good, or last night I used Gala, since that’s what I had)
1/2 cup dried cherries or raisins (or some other tart, dried fruit – the cherries are great!)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dressing:
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt (personally, I go for the full fat version, but it’s your choice)
2 T (or more) curry powder – (just keep tasting until it’s at your desired flavor)
1 T honey or agave (optional – I made it without and it was perfectly fine)

That’s it! You can add/subtract ingredients as you choose. I basically guess-timate, you can’t go wrong.

I serve it over crispy romaine lettuce.

Food for Thought

9 Dec

First of all, I haven’t blogged in 2 months now! So if anyone was reading and/or checking (which I doubt), I apologize!

Life has been really good and really busy lately, and I’ve also had a week of ups and downs with blood sugar levels with all of the festivities going on this time of year, so this blog post I read today over at Mark’s Daily Apple is rather timely.

I wanted to share it with you because I think it speaks to quite a lot of questions/issues everyone has with the daunting question of “What to Eat?” on a daily basis.

I think food is about so much more than “diet” or “nutritional survival” even though those are MAJOR factors.

As for me, I’m ready to re-commit to finding ways to fight cravings, eat what I know is nourishing my body and soul, and to continue on the healthiest path I can, while still enjoying my life and not punishing myself for transgressions.

So, without further ado, the article in question:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-stop-eating-junk-food/

Butternut Squash Apple Bisque

10 Oct

I’m back (a month later, eesh)! Fall is in full swing, and I’ve been doing a lot of batch-cooking so that I’ll have great food to pack for lunches during the week. I’ve been incredibly busy, so taking an hour or two to make a huge batch of soup is really saving me when it comes to eating. I’ve also been making a lot of chili (I make it low carb by skipping the beans and adding more veggies or meat). I can’t wait – our meat CSA starts in a few weeks! That will save me some time for sure.

It was one of my goals to make the perfect butternut squash soup this year – I’ve tried it before, and somehow never quite perfected it. Until now! I came home from a nice weekend in Colorado with a recipe my Mom had given me, and after a few modifications, ended up with the below concoction for a creamy, hearty soup, sure to warm you up against the fall chill. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Butternut Squash Apple Bisque

1 butternut squash
2-3 small apples (I used Jonathan, but it’s your choice)
2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock if you are vegan)
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Cut butternut squash in half and discard seeds (or perhaps toast them for snacking?) Peel and core apples, and cut them in half or quarters. Put apples and butternut squash in a baking pan with 1/4 cup of water. Cover the ban and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until squash is tender. Scoop cooked squash out from the skin, and put apples, squash, broth, and coconut milk into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour into a pot on the stove or a crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 15 minutes or until desired temperature – then serve! Serves 6-8.

Fitness Goals, Life, and Coconut Ice Cream

8 Sep

I haven’t posted in awhile, because things have been rather busy, and also rather status-quo in my life. I couldn’t think of any new recipes to post or anything too exciting, frankly. So today I’m forcing myself to post a few musings that have been on my mind lately:
1). I’d like to set a goal to lose 20 lbs. For me, that would mean I would weigh 135. That seems perfectly reasonable (I am 5’5″), but for some reason, mildly unachievable. I have never weighed this amount in my adult life – ever. Not that I’ve tried and failed, it just isn’t my average. Luckily I carry my weight well and am a pretty strong person. I will not kill myself to get there, but I’m going to give it the old college try anyhow.
2). In order to achieve the previous goal, I am going to make a real commitment to fitness this fall. I’ve got the eating thing down for the most part and don’t want to restrict myself any further for now, so I am going to ramp up the fitness. What this means for me is a commitment to do something active every day, and push myself at least 4 days out of the week. I sit at a desk Monday-Friday, so I have to counter-act that somehow. I already “walk” quite a bit…to work, to the train, at lunch hour, so now it’s time for something different. I’ve found some great classes in kickboxing and regular boxing, so the goal is to go to one of those every night I have “off” during the week, and reserve the weekends for “play.” In other words, no gym obligations on the weekends, unless I want to (and I probably will if I can get into a more active routine).
3). I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the phrase “don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.” I think it’s absolutely true. My blood sugars are better, I feel pretty good, my health is in good shape, so why stress about the fact that I’m not perfect?? And yet…being the ambitious person that I am, I still do! I am going to repeat this mantra in my head often, in order to remind myself to chill out. (This does not negate goals 1&2, as even at 135 I will not be perfect but I think I’ll feel pretty darned good about myself).

Finally, I’ve been obsessed with Coconut Ice Cream lately (and all things Coconut). It really is a wonder product. Here’s a recipe I whipped up last night in my ice cream maker – as an afterthought, I flavored it with cinnamon and it was a great choice:

1 can organic coconut milk (make sure it is not “light”, but rather, the fatty version)
1-2 TBS raw honey (really just a touch of sweetness, I find it doesn’t need much)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

That’s it – throw it all into the ice cream maker and voila! I make a ton of variations on this recipe – berries, chocolate, what-have-you. It totally solves my ice cream craving and fits right into my idea of healthy living, too!

P.S. Is anyone else so grateful for this awesome early-Fall weather we are having in Chicago? I love this season!

Yoga Friday

28 Aug

I love Fridays. It is my favorite day of the week. I only have to be in the office for half the day so I get to enjoy my afternoons. It’s a huge perk of my day-job. I don’t get to relax much in life, so I really cherish this window of time in which I can do, well, whatever I darned please. I have found a 3 p.m. Friday yoga class at Bloom, a lovely, airy, light-filled studio only a few stops north of me on the train. I always forget that yoga is not only really restorative but it’s actually active work. I tend to think I’ll just be stretching for an hour, rather than using my muscles to build strength. In the end, though, I always feel fantastic. I mean, who wouldn’t love any class that begins with breathing exercises and ends in at least 10 minutes of lying on the floor? My blood sugar loves it too, as yoga lowers it a bit and completely mellows it out. Sometimes I think 60+ minutes of class is too much, but I actually have come to appreciate the long classes because they force me to slow down – something I’m not very good at, I admit. I’ve been finding that hard exercise that raises adrenaline (like weight training and my boxing class) is kind of tricky, because while most exercise lowers blood sugar, those intense workouts can actually have the opposite affect and raise it. I think it has to do with “fight or flight” response in my body – being pushed to the limits causes my liver to release stored glucose. (This is my theory, anyway). It’s really frustrating, because I do like to do intense workouts sometimes. I’m still figuring out how to handle them properly. Ah well, I guess I will just have to become a yogi and have my Zen moments with my Zen blood sugar level. 🙂 Just call me Miss Mellow.
Now, a nice evening of relaxing and some kale chips and bbq for dinner!

A Case of the Mondays…and Almond Crusted Chicken

23 Aug

Ah, Monday. The start of the week. A day in which one should be nice and organized, geared up for the busy work-week ahead. Well, today, not me.

These are the things I did NOT do this weekend:

1. Laundry
2. Grocery Shop
3. Cook/prepare food for lunches during the week
4. Clean the house

But I did have a lot of fun with friends!

Luckily, today I was able to have a quick yummy bacon & eggs breakfast, and I knew I’d be out of the office at lunchtime so I bought a chicken apple salad, that I must say, was disappointing (and I spent $7.75). So tonight, on the agenda is boxing class, then creating my very OWN chicken apple salad to pack for tomorrow! In order to do this, I will be making some chicken strips in the manner described below:

Ingredients
2 breasts of chicken
1/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste (or lemon pepper for a little kick!)
Coconut oil or butter for frying

Directions:
Slice up the chicken into strips
Whisk egg in a bowl or plate
Coat the strips in the egg, then roll the chicken in almond flour/salt/pepper
Heat up 1TBS of coconut oil in a frying pan and fry up the strips at Hi or Medium-Hi

That’s it. The perfect, healthy, “fried” chicken salad topping! I am looking forward to it already. I plan to add mixed greens, some sliced apple, a few raisins, and some feta to the salad as well, and probably top with balsamic & olive oil. So simple it hurts (and definitely less than $7.75 per serving). I’ll try to post a picture of my creation tomorrow if I can find my camera cord in the house. Now, on to the house cleaning and laundry….hmmm

*Also, since I am feeling the pull of my lack of organizational skills this week, a small plug for my friend Theresa who is a Professional Organizer, and who I someday hope to emulate! Check out her great tips at Ready Aim Organize, subscribe to her blog, and hopefully next Monday I’ll be in ship-shape.

Product Review – Glenny’s Almond Cranberry Bar*

18 Aug

*I have decided to review some on-the-go snacks to help people navigate the scary (and usually gigantic) grocery store and be able to pick healthy choices. Let’s be honest, in the modern world we do not always have time to cook everything from scratch, even though that would be the most ideal way to live. No one has asked me to do this, I just think it will be fun. 🙂

So, I posted one a little while ago about Cultural Revolution yogurt, and today I am posting one about the delicious snack I just consumed, an Almond/Cranberry bar that was an impulse purchase at Trader Joe’s yesterday. Overall, the flavor of these bars is great – just sweet enough, not overly sugary, and really hearty with all the nuts in there. The best part, however – is that they were priced at $0.99! In a market where bars are usually selling for upwards of $1.50, this is a major bonus. (I once saw a Kind Bar priced over $2 and that’s a little sad – though they are also delicious). I really hope this was not just the “sale price” and that they will continue to be reasonably priced. The only thing I am not totally in love with in these bars are the brown rice crisps and the brown rice syrup, as it goes a bit “against the grain-free” (ha! I just made a pun). Still, overall a very healthy once-in-awhile snack.

Stats: The bar clocks in at 21g carb (a little high, so I sometimes eat just 1/2), 5g protein, and 190 calories.

I’d recommend it if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby – or you could purchase online? Let me know if you see them popping up anywhere else.

Spicy Shrimp Salad and My New Meter

18 Aug

I recently stumbled across a low-maintenance recipe and all I can say is, “why didn’t I think of that?” So delicious, and so simple. I made it even simpler by modifying it a little bit to serve what was in my kitchen. I do this a lot – I look at an online recipe, decide what the key ingredients are, then tweak to my purposes or to match what I already have lying around. So, without further ado, a link to the original recipe.
I bought a bag of frozen shrimp at Trader Joe’s, and added their “hot” fresh salsa rather than worry about chopping up garlic, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro – otherwise it’s basically the same. Super simple, and a great, colorful summer salad. Warning – it gets really spicy with the jalapeno, so you can always tone it down by ditching that.

Geek Alert – I ended up getting a great deal on the new Bayer Contour USB meter. It’s like having an iPod meter – I love it that you can just plug it into your computer with no cord at all, and it makes fancy charts and graphs. Plus a color screen and re-chargeable battery? So great. Maybe others are more ahead of the times than I am, but this is really floating my boat this week. 🙂

Dear Pizza, why must you be so hard on me?

16 Aug

I love pizza. I admit it freely. Lately, however, pizza has not been loving me back. I’ve had a really hard time bolusing (for those of you who don’t know, this is when a diabetic takes short-acting insulin to cover meals) for pizza meals. I think it’s the combo of the delicious cheese/toppings on top, and the bready, carby crust. It makes it very hard for my insulin, since the blood sugar reaction from the crust gets delayed by the slow-reacting toppings…so I tend to spike out of control many many hours past eating. *sigh* Such a wonderful combo for the taste buds, so tricky for my poor little pancreas (note: I did in fact look for a picture of a “sad pancreas” to post, but then decided that was kind of gross. 🙂 I shall try to take a picture of my homemade pizza next time around).

I’ve been trying alternatives. None are quite like the real thing, but they satisfy my need to put pizza-like toppings together and eat it with my hands. The closest I have come is an almond-flour crust, and it’s pretty easy to make. Here is the recipe I like:

1 cup almond flour (or almond meal, from Trader Joe’s – it’s in the nut section rather than baking for some reason)
2 eggs
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of oregano, sea salt, and pepper for flavoring (you can go crazy with these if you want to, just sort of mix in as much/little as you want for “flavor”)
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan (optional)

Mix all ingredients together to make dough (the dough will be a pretty sticky consistency). Put a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet (or pizza pan if you have one) and press/roll the dough out to make the crust. To do the rolling, make sure you put another piece of parchment paper on top to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin. I’d keep it pretty thin, no more than 1/2 inch. You can also make individual mini pizzas by flattening it out with the bottom of a glass or jar. I don’t own a rolling pin, so I use empty wine bottles – they seem to do the trick. Once it is the shape you desire (or had hoped for but didn’t quite achieve), gently peel the top piece of parchment off and bake at 350 for about 13 minutes, or until the edges are looking slightly brown.

Top with whatever your heart desires, and re-cook for as long as you need to get the toppings to crisp up (or the cheese to melt if you’re a cheese-lover) Mine usually takes an extra 15 minutes at 350.

Eat, and most importantly, Enjoy!

Other People’s Opinions

12 Aug

My blood sugars have been pretty up and down lately – due to a really busy social schedule; and eating out can be difficult if I am in a place where few substitutions are possible. Time to re-commit to what I know works for me, and throw caution to the wind with what other people think (this is my Achilles’ heel). For some reason, it’s a lot easier to be respected as a vegan or a vegetarian these days than a grain-free person. Probably because people don’t quite understand your choices unless you launch into a super long explanation about it. I love the environment too, people! 🙂 Besides, I think it’s all in my head. No one really cares what you’re eating, and if they did care, they’d just ask you about it, right?