Tag: healthy eating

Fast Comfort Food Contest

cooking contest2So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂

Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun.  Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then.  I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!

rachel-at-party

So here are the rules to the contest:

All entries must be in by the end of 2013.

They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).

The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.

Make it your recipe, but if it is based off somewhere else tell me.

1 entry per person.

Winner gets 6 month birchbox subscription (3 months for birchbox man).   If I get a great response will do 2nd place.

I’m open to any cuisines, and while I’m not rolling in cash, the price is not a qualification for the contest.  I’m also just one person so try to keep the recipes down to a normal family size- serve 4.

Seriously guys I need your help on this.  Please send your recipes in.  I will do my best to judge recipes as quickly as possible and announce a winner in early January.

Fun times!  Email entries to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.  Also you can ask my friend Amber I’m good on giving out the reward.

cooking contest

Pudding Cups and Childhood Food Envy

Today I’m not feeling great.  Congestion, cough, sore throat. I suppose the best thing about my job is I work from home and can schlep around in my PJs if I want but it is also hard to really take a day off when I’m sick; however, I don’t mind because it keeps my mind occupied.    I swear like 4 people I know have this cold.  Sigh…

Anyway, I went to get some soup from Zuppa’s.  I love the Yucatan Chicken Tortilla soup.  Its flavorful and comforting.

yucatantortillaI also decided to get one of my favorite foods when I’m sick- a pudding cup.  Pudding cup you ask?  Well when I was little I always wanted cute little lunches with things like pudding cups but my family couldn’t afford them (plus, they aren’t exactly good for you).  I usually ended up getting hot lunch which was much cheaper. I think at the time my hot lunch cost 1.50.  I am sure it is much more now.  I could also get breakfast at school for a similar cost (or I ate breakfast at my seminary teacher’s house.  He made the most delicious sour dough biscuits and bread with a starter that went back generations).

My Mom has never been a big breakfast person, and usually had toast until she became gluten intolerant (now she can have gluten free bread but I don’t think she has toast as often as she used to).   However, her food allergies didn’t happen until I was nearly graduated from college so we had a lot of pasta, salads and sandwiches.  One friend I had said we had spaghetti every time she came to my house and she was my friend for about 7 years.  Perhaps this is why I’m so fond of the stuff today?  I love a good plate of spaghetti.

Interesting enough we almost never had the food my Mom grew up on- roasts, jello, canned goods and casseroles.  My Mom did make one yummy mexican tortilla style casserole but it was rare.  I don’t ever remember her using canned soups in anything.  When I went on my mission to Indiana all of these foods were very common and I had to get used to their high salt content.  I also don’t remember ever having wonder bread, plain yellow mustard, grape jelly, tv dinners or bologna.  Margarine was rarely used.

It was also a special treat to have cereal.  It was too expensive for a large family.  My siblings and I could go through a box of cereal in one morning sometimes and so you can imagine my feeling when I went to BYU and they had an entire wall of cereal!  It was very exciting!  My Mom also loves deli meat over the packaged slimy variety.  She would buy that on occasion and I still love it!

I don’t want you to get the impression that we were poor.  Far from it, but when you have a big family there are things that are harder to buy than others.

I also have a softspot for lunchables because they really are ridiculous.  Paying $4 for cute little crackers, ham and cheese, but then they are cute little crackers with ham and cheese.  Every once in a while I’ll buy one just to feel some sense of power in this world of chaos. 🙂pudding cups

But the ultimate coup de gras of treats I envied in my friends lunchboxes was pudding cups.  Tapioca, vanilla and especially chocolate.  I loved them and I still think they are tasty.  They are just so cute in their little cups.   So, if there is anything great about being an adult it is that I can buy pudding cups whenever I want without getting permission from anyone.  It’s the good life!

Can you relate to this?  Are there any foods you couldn’t have or afford as a kid that you love as an adult?  Any guilty pleasures? Please share in the comments section.  pudding cup

Peach Dish

I only have a second because I am working but my last box to try came.  Its called Peach Dish.  Its a meal service where you get delivered all the ingredients for a 4 course meal for 2 in the mail.  You can do it on a weekly basis for $20 or individually for $24.  They include all the recipes and everything is healthy and organic/grass fed (even the meat comes with it)

You can also buy grass fed beef and produce in bulk at very reasonable prices from the site.

peach dishI think this is a particularly smart idea if you are like me, single and cooking for 1, or married cooking for 2.  How easy to have everything ready to go? You just have to add oil, salt and pepper!

What do you guys think?  I will be posting a review of my favorite boxes later tonight.  What have looked the most interesting to you?  Which one’s would you subscribe to?  Thanks to all who let me try out there boxes for review at free or discounted prices.  It has been super fun.

Here’s my meal (posted later in the evening)

peach dish2

Whimsey, Blush and Watanut

So I figure I’d make it an record 3 posts today.  So much to get caught up on.  I came home to find more boxes to sample (some I paid for 1 without having to subscribe).

First one blush

http://www.blush.com/

blush august

This box had an incredible value and the nice thing is you can subscribe for $24.95 or buy it individually at $34.95

They also do a beauty profile and ask you to guage your fashion sense.

Here is the breakdown of the bag

Blush mystery bag
22 Mowie Wowie
18 Mor hand cream
2 Intelligent beauty restorative conditioner
20 Vapour Elixer Lip Gloss
5.71 Eminence Dermafoliant
22 Carita Progressif Mask
10 anastasia topcoat
4.48 coola sunscreen
14.4 pixi eye pen
1.87 dremu oil
8.43 sales tax
128.89 value of bag
price of bag 24.95 with subscription
34.95 for individual bag
 103.94  value

Pretty amazing value right?

The other two boxes I tried are whimsey, a craft box, and watanut, a food box.

I was very impressed with the packaging of whimsey box and the craft looks really fun.  Its $15 a month which is significantly less than other craft boxes.  This month is a bracelet and I think they look really pretty. I’m excited to get my craft on.  This would be a fun box for a group of girlfriends to all get or teenagers.  FHE activities!

Pretty packaging
Pretty packaging
The finished product bracelets
The finished product bracelets

Watanut is a nut box and everything seemed yummy; however, I don’t think it is as nice as naturebox.  With naturebox you can pick what you want and you get 5-7 bags as opposed to only 4 with watanut.  Still, everything tasted good.  Its $25 a month. Something to consider.  Would make a nice gift since you can order them individually

watanut

Box Month Continues: Goodies Co and Naturebox

Got two more boxes today for box month and they are both food boxes.  I think the last of my food boxes.  If you want to do a box month contact the different subscriptions, tell them about your blog and you may get lucky.  Its been really fun.

Goodies Co-

This is a great box for those that want to dabble in boxes but don’t want to invest much money . It is only $7 a month!  I spend that much on a cafe rio burrito!  They also have a points system where you can add reviews and get discounts, free shipping on products.   It is a smaller box and the value came to right about $7 so its not a huge value box but the cost is so low I think it has its appeal.

This is not specifically a healthy box; although all of the products appear to be all-natural and ingredient conscious.  Mostly its a snacking box. They have an adult box and one designed for kids.  I got the adult box to to try and enjoyed it.

goodies

Goodies
2.77 alo light exposed drink
0.31 tangy zangy
1.5 poplets sea salt and butter
0.4 sunflower seeds
1.1 veggie sticks
0.75 pronto
0.48 sales tax
7.31  total

Naturebox

I have already talked about this box on my blog because its one I have done for a couple of months.  I love it.  Its my favorite food box.  The great things about this box is you can pick what products you want, they are full size, all nutritionist recommended and yummy! This box is a great bargain too.  My box this month was valued at $27.11 and that is being conservative.  I think it would be great for an office breakroom.  You could get healthy snacks for your employees without having to go to the store or to Costco!

It is definitely the largest of all the food boxes I tried and still my favorite.  I highly recommend it.  They also have lots of gluten free and vegan options so you just pick what you like.   I can’t recommend it highly enough.

This month I tried a few new things like the guacamole bites and garlic pumpkin seeds and some of my favorites from past boxes like the cheddar pub pretzels (so good!).  You can also be suprised by snackbox if you prefer and you can add on to your box for a very reasonable fee.   Naturebox is not a sample box.  All of the products are made with the naturebox label which is part of the reason why you are given such generous amounts for the $19.95 cost.  I love it.  Give it a try!

naturebox

Naturebox
4 pumpkin seeds
3.34 cheddar pub pretzels
4 plantain chips
4 peanut butter nom noms
4 guacamole bites
6 veggie chips
25.34 subtotal
1.77 sales tax
27.11 total

Thai Chicken Soup and Turkey Curry

On March 9th Kate and I got a huge basket from bountiful baskets and it included a new thai pack they were trying out.  I just didn’t have time most of the week to use the pack so finally on Saturday I decided to do some shopping and cook up a bunch of food to have for the upcoming week.  I made the thai soup tom kha gai  and a big pot of curry.

Curry is a favorite of the Wagner household because it is easy, can be made with practically anything and aside from the spices relatively cheap.  It is also an easy dish to make vegetarian which it seems like we often have a vegetarian in our midst.  Oh and it is also gluten free and dairy free.  Makes everyone happy.

Tom Kha Gai is a chicken and coconut soup that uses a lot of lemongrass and ginger to give a rich, complex flavor.  My roommate gave it the stamp of approval.  There is something wonderful about drinking a hot, vibrant bowl of broth.  So good!

The recipe for the soup I got from Tyler Florence of the Food Network with a few changes and the curry I made up myself (I’ve made it tons of times but I will try and give you an idea.  It made a lot of food that will freeze very well but really finding the ingredients is the most difficult part of these items.  Cooking them at the same time reduces the amount of time spent washing and preparing because I could cut one onion for both, use 1 knife for both, one cutting board, etc.  I guess I’ve always been a mad bursts of energy kind of person.

576194_10151478881162239_88087403_n
Soup and curry bubbling away
295686_10151478882202239_1841379293_n
Turkey curry with Sweet potatoes and tom kha gai soup
Ingredients1 quart chicken stock, recipe follows
(I also added about 4 cups of water and bullion cubes to make the soup go further)
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife
(I added 1 onion, celery leaves, and basil because I had them)
3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn  (Couldn’t find, put some extra lime juice for the flavor)
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced  (I left my fresh ginger in the cart at the store had to use ground spice but it still tasted good)
2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, rinsed
4 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leavesDirections(Cook onion, celery in tbsp veg oil). Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilies, and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.

Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, lime juice, and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through; season with salt and pepper. (I let mine cook for quite a bit longer to get a strong flavor and added more fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar than the recipe called for) Ladle the soup into a soup tureen or individual serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger, or lime leaves.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Curry
1 1b turkey breast (or chicken I was just trying to be a little different since I had chicken in the soup) Pork would be good or lamb, anything
2 large sweet potatoes (or regular) cut into chunks
2 cups diced celery and celery leaves
1 bell pepper
2 large diced carrots
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup of chutney or tropical jam like I used mango jam
1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
2 thai chilis removed before serving if you like it real spicy.
2 heaping tbsp indian curry
cumin and garam masala start with tsp and add as much as you like
1 tbsp african spice blend (or hot sauce would be fine, sirache etc).
1 onion
10 ounces chicken broth and then water/bullion to fill up rest of pot.
You could put in greens or tofu or whatever you want.  Cauliflower is great in curry.  It’s so versatile.
Start by heating the onion, celery and bell pepper with a little oil.
Then add cooked turkey cubed or shredded.  Add potatoes, carrots and any other vegetables you want to use.
Add all of your spices.
Then add water, coconut milk, and chicken broth and let come to a boil.   Once the potatoes are soft add in your jam, fish sauce to taste.
So yummy!
(You can also use unflavored yogurt instead of coconut milk if you want to lower the calories but its a good kind of fat so I think its all right)
I like to serve it over couscous, rice or quinoa.
I’d be curious to hear of what variations you come up with.  Happy cooking!

A Defense of Curves

Got Curves? I do!

I’ve mentioned the infamous Maura Kelly op-ed in Marie Claire many times on this blog . The one where she compares fat people to heroine addicts

“”I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”

and

“I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”

It is hate speech of the worst kind and the fact that a major fashion magazine would publish and then defend the smut is unbelievable.

Anyway, I came across an article by Josh Shahryar for the Huffington Post refuted each of Kelly’s claims and her subsequent apology.  It is so awesome!

http://huff.to/992Yrd

I was particularly moved by his last segment called The Conclusion.

I don’t normally share whole articles on this blog but I was so moved I wanted all of you to read it.  Being on a new diet this last week I think I needed to read this article.  So beautiful and moving:

5. The Conclusion

I’m not a personal issues expert. But I’m a human being living in the West who knows what’s going on. And what I see is this: there is an incredible amount of bias perpetuated against overweight people in the media. They are almost never the central character — always neatly tucked in as a secretary, the nurse or a character who’s too old to rouse romance. The last time I saw overweight people in a movie as the central character was in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and recently in Precious. Both the movies had a bit to do with weight.

When they appear on TV shows, it’s about weight. Guess who the loser in The Biggest Loser is… Guess who’s huge on Huge (by the way, a very witty show that got canceled). And when it comes to commercials, There’re always those damn ‘fatties’ that can’t seem to lose their weight without this or that new magical drug or diet.

Criminals can and do get central characters, otherwise. Druggies do. Even rapists and child abusers get more frequently featured. Fat people just aren’t good enough. (And to come to this realization right now just truly, deeply and profoundly upset me.)

The only shows, commercials or movies in which they get treated as normal people are those oriented towards the African-American population. Kudos to them for having the empathy. Only the oppressed can feel the pain of the oppressed.

Overweight people have become marginalized by the media simply because they’re overweight. Just like African Americans were marginalized because they were black and more recently, gay people because they’re gay. I understand fully that unlike the color of someone’s skin or someone’s sexual orientation obesity is a medical condition and a problem, but obese people aren’t. That is the issue. That is the problem. That is what both overweight, “normal” weight and underweight people need to come together and fight against.

The first step towards losing weight is not putting your mind to it. It is not making a list of things you will absolutely not do. It is not locking up the fridge. It is knowing that even if you fail at losing weight, people will still love you for who you are and not the number of pounds you’re packing. That people will judge you by your character and not because you are unhealthy weight-wise (and some people are perfectly healthy even when they are overweight). It is that feeling that you are doing this for yourself not because you have to fit a mold created for you.

That cannot be accomplished as long as Western culture continues to brand people who weigh more than what it deems aesthetically pleasing as unacceptable. It’s gotten so bad that even a few people who’re skinny live in constant fear that they might add a few pounds and not look beautiful enough to not be judged by people. And since media plays a huge part in formulating our cultural perceptions, it needs to change immediately — whether people like Ms. Kelly like it or not.

To that end, I urge everyone who finds size-ism in the media as a menace to view this as a watershed moment. It’s time to come together and fight this bigotry to the bitter end. Change does not come without someone pushing for it. If we want this to change, if we want for us, overweight or not, to not be judged by our BMI, we need to not let this fire die down.

We need to stand up and demand change. Even if it means we need to force the issue daily on social networking sites. Even if it means we have to boycott media that continue to practice this bigotry. Even if it means we have to hold peaceful demonstrations for the end of this practice. If media does not change, we cannot change this culture that seems to have been forever marginalizing overweight people.

It’s not just people judging you on the street. It’s about losing job opportunities. It is about equal treatment in the health care system. It is about being able to breathe, knowing everything’s gonna be alright.

The media’s side-stepping the issue and pretending all’s well reminds me of a scene from the movie Good Luck Chuck. Chuck is hexed so any girl who sleeps with him ends up meeting the love of her life in the next few days. His overweight secretary finds out about this and like any woman, she wants to find the lover of her life. She corners him one night and begs him to have sex with her, but he won’t. It goes on for a couple of minutes. Then, finally when he’s on the ground and she’s on top of him and he refuses, she tears up and says, “It’s okay. Close your eyes and pretend I’m someone beautiful.” He looks up, visibly moved, and says, “I’ll pretend it’s you.”

Well, pretending is just not good enough anymore.

(So awesome!  I hope I can keep the discussion going and show people a different version of what a fat American can do.  I bet Maura Kelly couldn’t swim a 5k!)

It’s not just girls that need the positive body image messaging