Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love and Cheesecake

There's something about being snowed in that just makes me want to cook or bake something. It's probably due to some boredom and the usual procrastination from doing school work, but I decided to go for it last night. 

With my limited fridge and pantry, I went to this really cool website where you type in what ingredients you have and it pulls up recipes that you can make using those ingredients. 

That website is www.supercook.com

So I entered in a few ingredients that I knew I could use to bake something and I found a cookie recipe, which is truly what I was looking for. I looked at the recipe and it called for 1 cup of butter, which equates to 2 sticks of butter. No way. 

I looked at another cookie recipe. Same thing. So I took butter away from my ingredients list at which point the supercook.com snow angels opened up the gates to my amazing new plan: MINI CHEESECAKES!



Cheesecake is my favorite dessert. Last year, Steve drove an extra 40 minutes to go get a cheesecake we heard was to die for and surprised me with it on Valentine's Day. Isn't he great? 

Unfortunately, the cheesecake wasn't all it was cracked up to be but you know what is better? Things that are homemade. Which brings me back to the recipe I found.

Before you do anything, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. I made these using a 24 mini muffin-tin. I had the linings for cupcakes too and that was really key here to allow the crumb to stick to the cheesecake and not my pan.


The recipe called for 8 oz of cream cheese (which is the whole container shown above), 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I used the graham crackers I had for the crust and you can see them broken up in the bowl in the front. I just used a cup I had to smash them into small crumbs. (If you want to make a more substantial crust, you can add a little melted butter to make the cracker crumbs stick...but let's not go crazy) 



I also added some cinnamon. There was a time when Steve and Matt (the guy with the pizza from my last post) would brew their own beer and when they attempted to make a beer with cinnamon flavoring, they bought about 10 different containers of cinnamon (instead of buying cinnamon sticks like they should have). Therefore I have TONS of it so I add it whenever I can. If any needs any cinnamon, let me know. I seriously have so much.

Back to my cheesecakes...

So I started to combine the cream cheese when I realized that it seemed like a lot and that defeats the whole purpose of eliminating the butter. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea! 
I used half of the container of cream cheese and then added one 7oz container of plain Greek yogurt I had! (It's not that brilliant, but I was pretty damn proud of myself for thinking of it) 

I used Fage's 2% plain Greek yogurt. Then I added 1/4 cup sugar, a dash of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Start mixing this with a spoon so all the ingredients combine.  Once it's combined, add the egg. If you have an electric mixer, use that. If you are like me, continue to blend it with the spoon and then use a whisk to really mix it well. 

Now you are ready to put a little of the crumbs on the bottom of the lining.


Once that is done, add the cheesecake mixture.


These will bake for about 25-30 minutes. I was worried about their consistency since I didn't use all of the cream cheese. But they turned out AWESOME. Let them cool, maybe put them in the fridge to allow them to really blend. Amazing. 





As always, hope you enjoy and stay warm!

Lots of LOVE,

Eva



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Love and Tilapia

After a wonderful weekend, with eating a few too many meals out, I was in need of a good healthy meal tonight. I love going out to eat and having some drinks with friends. Like many new couples, Steve and I would go out to eat all the time when we first started dating. Although we still do it more than we probably should, I have really grown to enjoy eating at home and cooking. Plus, it doesn't hurt to save some money. 

As I've said before, balance is key. It is OKAY to indulge. Enjoy it, love it and eat what you are craving. Overindulging is another story, but the more you allow yourself to eat what you want and start listening to your body, the easier it will be to maintain a balance between feeding your body healthily and happily. 

It is also important to be smart about our choices. Last night, I had a light dinner and within hours, I was hungry again. Luckily, the bar we were at was still serving food. The second I walked in a saw a couple eating a pizza, I knew I had to have some. I wasn't sure if it was my hunger pulling me towards the pizza or a little of my white zinfandel talking. Once I had some pizza, I knew it was hunger. Is pizza healthy? Not really. But I wanted it and I needed something to eat. 


This is our friend Matt. We started a new tradition last night with pizza and I look forward to keeping it going for years and years. Anyway, late night pizza and wine isn't the healthiest so needless to say, today I was craving something fresh and light.

If you couldn't tell by the title, I made tilapia. Plus lots of VEGGIES. As you can see in the photo below, I made a medley using brussel sprouts, baby carrots, broccoli and a mix of greens (it has spinach, kale and swiss chard), but you can just use spinach..or not. Whatever you want. Plus some garlic towards the end. I also baked some sweet potato.


For the tilapia, you just need the fish itself (I used two filets), some grated parmesan cheese, ground pepper and a little olive oil. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the tilapia with a LITTLE olive oil. Then put some ground pepper on and cover the tilapia in parmesan cheese. It should look like this.


This will bake very quickly, only about 10-12 minutes. I tried to turn the broil on at the end for about 2 minutes to give it a crust but didn't want to dry it out too much. I am not a big lemon fan on my fish but I am sure squeezing some fresh lemon at the end would be good. You don't really need any salt for this because the cheese is salty.

For the veggies, start sautéing the brussels and carrots first in a little olive oil. I cut both in half. Since I used frozen broccoli, I defrosted it in boiling water then added it to the veggies. Lastly, I added the garlic (minced, of course) and the greens. Add salt to taste.

If you want to do this exact meal, you should start with the sweet potatoes as they will take the longest to bake. I just cut it into small pieces and put it into the oven while it was preheating. It'll take about 20-25 minutes. Aim to make them similar in size (so they cook evenly), drizzle some olive oil and dash with salt. 


Once it is all done, compile on a plate and EAT. So good.



Tilapia was the first fish I ever cooked. It is delicious. It has a mild flavor so for those of you who aren't big fans, I suggest starting with something like this. It is really tasty with the addition of the veggies. 


Hope you enjoy!

Lots of LOVE,

Eva



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Love and Soy Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken

That's right. I said Soy Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken. Before I get started, I have to admit this is not my original recipe. This is a dish that one of my very best friends used to make for us in college all the time and I have to give her 100% props on this one. That person would be my girl Natalie, who currently lives in Chicago and who I miss dearly. However, having this dish brought me right back to our little apartment we had in North Philly that was literally falling apart at all times. It was kind of gross, but it was our little home!

This recipe is SO easy and a good way to add flavor to chicken. We eat grilled or baked chicken all the time and this was a nice little change up. Some readers who have known me in the past may be a little confused because for about a year and a half, I was a vegetarian. Truth be told, I ate MOSTLY vegetarian. As per my philosophy on eating, I never wanted to feel like I was on a diet so if I was craving something non-vegetarian, I would eat it. 

Inevitably, because of my new graduate school schedule matched with working at a restaurant/bar, eating a vegetarian diet just was not enough for me to feel healthy. I like to eat healthy but sometimes the healthier meat-free options did not keep me full for very long and it just wasn't an option with my schedule. I also didn't want to live off the very little options at my restaurant, like vegetable quesadillas, french fries nor did I want to just eat greek salads every day (but if you ever go to Kitchen Bar Restaurant in Abington, PA, I HIGHLY recommend our Greek salad!)

Little by little, I began eating more chicken and now I eat it several nights a week. I eat fish too. But as you may have noticed, many dishes I make are still vegetarian because I love me some veggies. It wasn't working for me at this point in my life, but if you are a vegetarian, vegan or barely even eat veggies and it works for you, then keep it up. Adding veggies to your diet never hurts.

The message I want you to take from this is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
 People used to see me eat meat and quickly fire at me, "I thought you were a vegetarian!" but I don't need a label and neither do you. Eat what you want, when you want it...and don't forget to LOVE it.

I digress. Back to the chicken.


So easy. Only 4 ingredients: soy sauce, honey, fresh garlic and chicken. For this recipe I used drumsticks but I think I would like to try it next time with skinless chicken breast. This would probably be awesome with tofu or a mild fish like tilapia too. The glaze can be made as just a sauce which can be used to top any good protein.

You will need to mince the garlic, which essentially means just chop it up into little pieces. It should look like this.


Once that is done, add a good amount of soy sauce and the garlic in a sauté pan. Turn it on LOW heat and add the chicken. Once the chicken is in, drizzle some honey. You'll want to keep it on LOW heat with the pan covered. I turned it up a little towards the end to give my chicken a good crust, but it was still medium-low heat. I also periodically turned the chicken so that the sauce covers all ends and then drizzled a little more honey.  

It will cook for about 20 minutes or so. If you notice the sauce starting to burn up, stir the chicken in it and then you can add a little more soy sauce. Consistently turn the chicken so that you are getting a good glaze on it. I did it about 6-8 times throughout the whole process. Once the chicken is all cooked, plate it and drizzle the remaining sauce over it.


Delicious. Thank you Natalie for the inspiration! 

Serve this with some veggies and salad. Or rice. Whatever you are feeling at the moment. 

I hope you enjoy. Any comments or question, don't be shy.

Lots of LOVE,

Eva


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Love and Ramen

I don't know about you but Asian cuisine has to be top 5, if not my favorite, cuisine. I am not sure if calling it Asian cuisine is politically correct, but I am referring to noodles, soy sauce, sesame, garlic, VEGGIES and other ingredients I am unable to think of right now that have all types of delicious variations to create simply amazing food. I love it. 

Another thing I've been loving as of late is saving money! 

I am the worst with saving money, but I am trying to change. Have you ever watched Extreme Couponing? It is insane. These people save SO much money. On the other hand, they are mostly buying products that are processed, full of preservatives or different variations of frozen foods so I am not exactly saying you should go and mimic them. 

The point is, to eat healthy and happily doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend tons of money. Which brings me to my next point, ramen noodles. 




Yea, I am talking about those noodles. The college staple that is so cheap. These are perfect to use to make a ramen stir fry! I use ONLY the noodles in this recipe and not the spices that come with. 

Ingredients
Serving: 2

2 packages ramen, noodles only
15 brussel sprouts, cut in halves
1 package mushrooms, chopped
2 cups spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil (optional, but recommended)


Directions

1. Begin by boiling water. Ramen noodles cook VERY fast so when you drop the blocks in, they should be ready in about 4 minutes. So this will be one of our last steps.

1. While the water boils, start preparing the veggies.

3. Heat the sesame oil, if you have it, on medium to high heat. If not, olive oil or canola oil work just fine.

4. For the brussels, cut the bottoms off and cut them in half. I would add the spinach second to last as it does cook fairly quickly as well. Last but not least, add the garlic. Garlic can burn easily so I always add it last. 

5. Remove a bulb from a garlic clove. Then take your knife and smash it. It removes the skin easily. At this point, you can mince it. 

6. When the veggies are almost done, add the ramen noodles to the water. Just the noodles! The spices they include have tons of sodium, preservatives and who knows what. 

7. Once the noodles are done, drain them and add them right into your pan. 

8. Add the soy sauce, toss it all together and enjoy!



So what's the healthy message today? There really isn't one, other than I wanted these noodles so I found a tasty way to do it. Plus, I added veggies so that's always key for nutrients, flavor and crunchy texture. And I loved it. 

So I hope you enjoy! 

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave it for me down below.

Lots of LOVE,

Eva


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love and Lox

Not to be the typical Jewish girl, but when I said love and lox, I really meant LOVE and lox. One of the things that I spent years not allowing myself to eat were the most delicious bagels with cream cheese. Now that I have finally allowed myself to enjoy this fantastic Jewish staple, I am just hooked. This post isn't meant to teach you how to make a bagel with cream cheese and lox, or why it is the healthiest thing for you because technically, it is not all that "healthy", but in the land of love and grub, we eat what we love which is just important for our health.

As you can imagine, I have been exposed to bagels, cream cheese and lox for years and years. In the past, I would either not allow myself to eat it or shame myself for eating it. Or I would order a bagel, get the cream cheese on the side, scoop out half the bagel and put a little reduced-fat cream cheese on it.

Just google bagel and healthy. You will get post after post with articles discussing if bagels are healthy or not. If YOU want to eat a bagel with cream cheese and lox, or whatever topping you like, I am asking you to eat the damn bagel. 

For me, the days of scooped out, reduced-fat cream cheese with no lox are long gone.



The reason I prefer the lox with it, aside from the fact that it tastes so amazing, is that it adds a good source of protein which makes this meal filling and allows it to be something that will keep me satisfied and sustained for a few hours. It's true that bagels are going to make your sugar spike, then crash which will leave you feeling tired and hungry in no time. So when you add a good source of protein, it can make all the difference.  Also, salmon has tons of nutrients. Most importantly, however, is starting my day with something I truly love to eat which makes the rest of the day more enjoyable. 

I also buy whole wheat bagels that are smaller in size, because in truth, the bagels you get at your local bagel spot are probably way too big. As I have said before, portions are extremely important. But once in a while, we'll go to this bagel place near me called Fill-A-Bagel and it is such a treat to have a fresh baked bagel (no matter what size) with delicious cream cheese and lox. 

You'll be surprised at how once you allow yourself to eat the foods you love and actually enjoy eating them,just how much less you'll think about food. That little voice in your head tends to be louder than your actual body telling you whether or not it is hungry. 

Remember that learning how to eat foods that taste good and will fill you up will make a huge difference. I hope that each of these posts helps you to begin to allow yourself to stop restricting, start listening to your body and learning how to balance your food to achieve happiness and healthfulness. 




In case you were wondering, it is pretty easy to prepare this dish. Start with a bagel, toast it if you like, fill with your favorite schmear and toppings and eat it up! Sometimes I add some veggies too for some added nutrients and crunch. Make it how you love it!

Hope you enjoy!

Lots of LOVE,

Eva


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Love and Tacos

TACO NIGHT! We love taco night...which we tend to have more than one night a week. There are many reasons why tacos are a great choice for dinner. 

It's super easy.
It's super delicious.
It's super healthy...if you do it right.

Now, don't forget to make them how you love them. If you love it with lots of cheese, do it. Make it delicious. Make it how you want it. 



You can see in the photo above all the ingredients I used, minus the bananas, coffee and potato. I like to make veggie tacos, but usually if we have leftover chicken or anything, I will warm that up too. The tortillas are small, corn tortillas. I really love mushrooms so that is a must have. I decided to add brussel sprouts, which I sliced thinly, as well as thinly sliced peppers. You can saute the veggies together, with a little olive oil. I add the peppers first because I like to cook them down a little extra. I add some salt and pepper towards the end, to taste.

Speaking of adding salt, lets talk about canned or already prepared foods. The canned refried beans on the right are really good! I don't own any fancy appliances, nor do I have time to soak my beans, cook them myself and learn how to make them refried. I wish I could, but let's be real. If you have the ability to have fresh made foods, absolutely go for it, but that just isn't a reality for all of us. So if you do go with something canned, buy it low sodium or no added salt. I promise you won't miss it! Excessive sodium intake is so common and can be easily adjusted by just being smart. 

You might have noticed the weird bag in the back of the ingredients photo. That's rice. Love rice. I like to cook it with veggie broth, which adds so much flavor. As you can guess, I buy the broth with low or no added sodium. 

Seriously, I want you to be able to eat what you want and ENJOY it. But it's important to be knowledgable about our foods so we can make good choices too. If you can limit the sodium intake by simply buying a slightly different product, it won't hurt the taste of the food. I can assure you that. 

This is what you can get at the end of all that...


Take the tacos and pile it up as you please! Guess which taco is mine and which is Steves?


I can usually eat about two of these. I pile mine with rice, refried beans, veggies, avocado, salsa, sour cream and little tabasco. So delicious. 

I know tacos don't always seem like the healthiest, but it is an easy way to incorporate a lot of veggies into your meal. Use whichever veggies you love. Incorporate some fresh tomatoes, spinach or onions. One of first things Steve and I bonded over was our mutual hatred for onions, so you won't be seeing any of that here!

Enjoy every second of it and when you start to feel full, slow down. It kind of sounds like a burrito and essentially has the same components, but by using the smaller tortilla, it helps with maintaining good portion sizes. 

Hope you enjoy!

Lots of LOVE,

Eva



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Love and Caprese

The theme of this little blog is eating what you love and loving what you eat. I have two basic methods I use to decide what to eat for dinner. What do I want to eat and what have I eaten already today?

I read Bethenny Frankel’s book “Naturally Thin” a few years ago and one of the rules she created was “You can have it all, just not all at once”. I think this sums it up well. Portions are so key. Some foods, such as fresh vegetables, can and should be eaten in huge amounts. However, if you really want to eat something like cheesy tortellini with a lot of parmesan cheese (like I do), eat it and add some veggies! Enjoy every bite and don’t make yourself feel guilty. The less you listen to the voice in your head making you feel bad, the more you can enjoy what you are eating without that feeling like you can’t stop. You CAN have it all, just not all at once. 
The second thing to take from this is BALANCE. Steve (that wonderful boyfriend I mentioned before) makes fun of me for the way I eat sometimes, because at the end of the day, I am studying to become a dietitian and I don’t always eat the healthiest foods. However, the reason I consider the way I eat healthy is because I balance my food. I try to have fresh vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins in my diet throughout the day. If I want to eat a cheesy quesadilla for dinner, then I am going to eat it. But I also think about what I ate for breakfast and lunch and maybe I’ll decide to start with a salad first, or some grilled vegetables. But if you don't feel like it, then don't force yourself to eat something you don't like or want. Eat that quesadilla and keep it moving. 
Try to remember that no one is perfect. Food is something that we need and nutrients are more important than most of us fully understand. But don’t forget to enjoy the food and love what you are eating because being mentally healthy is just as important as being physically healthy.
With an impending snow storm and an empty fridge, Steve and I ventured to the grocery store to stock up. While in the produce section, I noticed the smell of fresh basil. I see this all the time and wish they sold it in smaller sizes because it seems like a lot of basil. But then I noticed it was less than 3 dollars, so we decided, why not? I have made a caprese salad in the past. I even bought a little bottle of balsamic reduction, but opted out of the basil. It tasted fine, but it wasn't the caprese salad I love so dearly. When you really want something, you have to do it right. The basil did the trick! I also sprinkled a little olive oil. And now we have more to use throughout the week in other random dishes. Now I know you may think that eating a caprese salad for dinner is not a lot..and you are right. I also ate that cheesy tortellini I mentioned earlier (I was craving that too!), some broccoli, mushrooms and ground turkey for dinner. The caprese salad was part of our dinner. 



Back to the caprese...

Start by making a few slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella and stack tomato, mozarella, tomato, mozarella, etc. With the basil, you can grab a few leaves and stack them up. Then you want to roll it up and just slice. The fancy term for this is chiffonade (but who actually cares, right?) I had to take a basic food prep course as a requirement for my degree in which I basically learned how to cook with a lot of butter and how to make some fancy knife cuts. 
Anyway, you can see what I mean in these photos... 
Then sprinkle it over the tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzle a little olive oil and the balsamic reduction. Simple, delicious and a good balance of fresh tomatoes and basil with that yummy mozzarella.



Hope you enjoy! 

Lots of LOVE,

Eva