Category Archives: Stay Healthy

Gluten-Free / Soup / Stay Healthy

Easy Homemade Chicken Stock

February 10, 2017

Here in the Netherlands they don’t have ready-made chicken stock like they do in the states — only bouillon (which I assure you, is not the same thing). And while bouillon is fine for some recipes, for others (like Winter Minestrone), I find that it just doesn’t work well. I decided to make my own chicken stock since I have Winter Minestrone plans this weekend, and I have to admit that while making stock is time-consuming, it’s pretty dang basic.

I used chicken carcasses in my stock, rather than whole chickens, because I make roast chicken somewhat regularly and throw the carcass in the freezer until I’m ready to make stock. I do this with my veggie odds and ends as well, which you could totally just throw in with your old chicken bones, but I save mine for when I’m making veggie stock, which is why I opted to use fresh veggies in this.

Here’s the recipe I used, in case you’re looking to make your own stock and/or wondering what you should do with your old chicken carcasses and vegetable odds and ends. Please note that this recipe is totally open to interpretation, so feel free to toss in what you have on hand. Leeks, parsnips, dill, etc. would all make delicious additions.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Active time: 20 minutes / Total time: about 5 hours
makes about 3 quarts

  • 2 chicken carcasses
  • 2 yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 4 carrots, halved or quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into thirds
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
  1. Throw it all into a big pot, cover with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours.
  2. Remove solids and chill overnight. Skim any fat that has accumulated overnight off the top. Use within a week or freeze in quart containers for up to 3 months.

 

Resolutions / Stay Fit / Stay Healthy

Healthy New Year

January 4, 2016

img_6611Now that 2016 is officially underway, and the holiday break has ended (sob!) I thought I’d share with you all one of the things I’m doing to get healthy and feel like my best self this year.

Like many (most?) people, I indulge a bit over the holidays. And one of my biggest weaknesses? Sugar. Strangely, I’m not someone who lives and dies for dessert, but I have this huge soft spot for candy. So, since the holidays are laden with sweets and treats, especially candies, I tend to go a little nuts on the sugar.

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a fan of dieting. I don’t really see how eating nothing but cabbage can be a solution to any sort of problem. But, I do believe in eating mindfully and consuming foods in their purest and most natural form. And, having endured 38 weeks of pregnancy followed by the birth of that sweet face at the top of the post, my body could use a little more love and care to get back to feeling as strong as I did pre-pregnancy. So, in that vein, I’ve decided to limit the amount of added sugar I’m consuming on a daily basis.

In case you’re curious, added sugar is obviously found in things like cookies, cakes, candy, and other sweets, but it’s also found in processed foods; some crackers, breads, and even pastas; and also in those low-fat or no-fat “diet” foods. For example, one of the ways full fat dairy products become no-fat dairy products is by adding sugar. So, while I won’t be depriving myself of many things (including natural sugars like fruit and honey), I will be taking a more mindful approach to what I’m eating and consuming foods in or closer to their natural state, without the added sugar.

And given the sheer amount of sugar I’ve consumed over the past month or so, I think it’s going to be a bit of a transition!

I’m not looking to convert anyone to my approach, as everyone has their own way of “getting healthy” in the new year. I just thought I’d share my plan on here because I’m always curious about what people do to feel healthy, and also because I think it will help me stick to it during those first few weeks without all the Christmas treats. (insert crying emoji here)

I’ve decided to start with the month of January and see how things go. I’m hoping that it’s something I can be rigorous about for the first few months of the year and then use as a loose guideline going forward, as eliminating added sugar altogether makes life a little boring, but overall I think it’s a good goal for the type of lifestyle I strive to lead.

Washboard abs, here I come!

Dairy-Free / Dinner / Easy Meals / Gluten-Free / Savory / Stay Healthy / Vegetarian

Easy Meals: Tabbouleh

March 30, 2015

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I have this thing about freezer meals — I just don’t love things that have been defrosted and reheated most of the time; so I’ve been trying to think of easy meals that I can prepare once the baby arrives.  Specifically, meals that come together in 30 minutes or less, and utilize fresh ingredients.  I’m still planning to make some frozen things to have on hand (like my favorite cookie dough), but our freezer is small, so I think I’m going to be limited in what I can really prep and freeze.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m exhausted and have zero energy for cooking, I tend to get into this rut of ordering out and not eating well, which really just makes me feel even worse after awhile.  So a quick meal like this that will last through multiple shifts?  I think it might just be a lifesaver.

This week I went back and revisited one of my favorite easy meals — tabbouleh (or, my interpretation of tabbouleh).  This recipe is so simple and healthy, plus it makes a lot of food and saves well in the fridge — all of which add up to a good meal for post-baby.  You could totally even throw some of the leftover tabbouleh over lettuce, dress it up with a dijon/oregano/red wine vinaigrette — and voila! it’s a delicious salad.  Put a dollop of hummus on top and you’ll really be in business.

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Tabbouleh with Tzatziki (+ Hummus and Pita)

serves 4-6 generously

Tabbouleh:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat (feel free to substitute quinoa here to make it gluten-free)
  • 1 large chicken breast (to make this veg, omit the chicken and add in cooked chickpeas for protein)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • optional: couple large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped; kalamata olives; cooked chickpeas; crumbled feta
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • small handful of fresh mint leaves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook bulgur wheat (or quinoa) according to package instructions.*
  2. Grill or roast chicken breast with some olive oil, salt and pepper — then dice.  (I roast mine at 350° for 30-35 minutes).
  3. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl, season with fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper, then toss to combine.  (Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper — you’re seasoning a lot of food here!)

*I generally just cover the wheat with 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a bowl, then place a dish or lid over the top and let it steam until the chicken is done cooking (about 30 minutes).  Once it’s ready, I’ll dump it into a strainer and press out any excess moisture before adding it in with the rest of the veggies.

Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 large English cucumber, grated
  • 8 oz greek yogurt (I use Fage 2%)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • small handful fresh mint leaves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place grated cucumber into a clean towel and squeeze over the sink to release excess water.
  2. Once well-squeezed, combine cucumber with rest of ingredients in a small bowl, season with lemon juice, salt and pepper, then stir to combine.

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Spoon tabbouleh into pitas and top with tzatziki and your favorite hummus.  So delicious!

Breakfast / Dairy-Free / Stay Healthy / Sweet

My Favorite Protein-Packed Smoothie Recipe

February 17, 2015

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Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve been craving fruit in pretty much any form, including in smoothies.  One of my favorite smoothies is from Jamba Juice — the Protein Berry Workout smoothie.  The ingredients are pretty minimal, so I decided I should try to recreate the smoothie at home.  It ended up being surprisingly easy (and delicious!) so I figured I’d share the recipe with you all.

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Copycat Protein Berry Workout Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 small or 1/2 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
  • optional: 1 tbsp agave nectar (I just eyeball this and add one big squeeze)
  • optional: 1 serving protein powder of your choice (I’d use this)
  1. Blend together.  (It’s a smoothie, not rocket science.)

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I like this smoothie because it’s not overly sweet and it’s packed with protein.  Even if you omit the protein powder, you’re still getting 9g of protein from the soy milk (the protein powder I linked to would add an additional 5g).  Plus the whole thing is under 300 calories (including the agave and protein powder), which makes it a great breakfast or snack on the go.

Whip one up and try it out for yourself!

Food Journal / Pregnancy / Stay Healthy

Pregnancy Diet

January 27, 2015

citrus obsessed

Being pregnant is weird for a lot of reasons (your body changes, you feel like there’s a little alien moving inside you for most of the day and night, etc.), but one of the weirdest changes for me has been the modifications I’ve had to make to my diet while pregnant.  First of all, I have never really been able to eat a lot at one time.  While I’ve always loved to eat, I’m much more of a grazer than a 3 large meals kind of gal.  Since becoming pregnant I still graze most of the day, but the amount of food I can put away in one sitting now is, frankly, pretty impressive.  (Um, one night I made a giant pot of soup and ate four giant bowls of it.  Like, large, cereal-size bowls.)

Also, when not pregnant my diet is usually veggie-heavy with not a lot of meat.  In fact, I eat vegetarian probably 80% of the time, if not more.  Not because I’m opposed to eating meat, but more just because the recipes I tend to make lean more on veggies and grains than on meat.  (Not to mention that I like to buy quality, sustainable meat, which is not cheap; and I’m not exactly rolling in money over here.)

Most of the literature I’ve read about eating while pregnant recommends shooting for 72 grams of protein per day.  For me, this is A LOT of protein.  To break this down, 20 grams of protein is: 5 egg whites; one chicken breast; 2 servings of yogurt; about 2.5 cups 2% milk; or 3 eggs.  So you basically need to shoot for 3.5 servings from that list every single day.

I, by no means, have a perfect diet when not pregnant, and I certainly don’t have one since getting knocked up.  (Hi, I love sugar in all its forms.)  However, I realized that I needed to focus more on getting the recommended amount of protein more than on cutting or tracking calories (since my weight gain has been on the normal-to-low side so far), so that’s where I’ve been focusing my energy most days.

The fact that I literally want to eat my weight in fruit (most notably citrus), is just kind of a fun and weird side-effect.  (Um yeah, I’m eating 14+ oranges a week over here…)

So here’s a rundown of what I’ve been eating most days, in case you’re curious (I have to admit that I’m very nosy and love to know what people are eating and also what’s in their purse.  But I guess that second one is a post for another day…)

Breakfast: cereal (usually Cheerios or high-fiber Trader Joe’s Oh’s) + banana + 2% milk

Snack: Grande decaf 2% mocha with one less pump of syrup
the milk from breakfast + the coffee = about 20g protein

Lunch (Let’s use the term “lunch” loosely, because I basically just snack on this stuff all day long): peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, probiotic yogurt smoothie, 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 oranges
peanut butter + yogurt + eggs = about 30g protein

Snack: hummus and pretzel thins or Think Thin Lean Protein bar
about 10g protein for either choice

Dinner: this is where things vary the most, but I’ve switched up my cooking a little to make sure that I include protein in dinner (something I don’t always do when not pregnant), so usually we’ll have a big salad with chicken or turkey and/or beans added, a veggie-heavy soup, or something I can put together on the fly (which, last night was homemade BLT’s).  I’ve got sausage sandwiches and maybe breakfast burritos planned for later this week.
I usually shoot for about 20g protein in whatever I make for dinner

Dessert: lately it’s been my go-to organic dark chocolate bar with almonds, but last night it was half a pint of Haagen Dazs, soooo… y’know.
2-10g protein depending on what I eat (and how much…)

PS:  I’ve yet to do my glucose test, so all of the above is obviously non-gestational-diabetes related.  (And, sadly, if things don’t go as planned in the test, I think my 14-orange habit will need to go away.  Fingers crossed it all comes out normal!)