Thursday, April 30, 2009

Making the most out of leftovers

Almost everyone I know is on a budget these days, and grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. I stock up way too much sometimes (I have like 10 cans of tuna, and haven't bought any in at least 6 months...haven't eaten any either!).

Last week, Hollywood Market had sirloin steak on sale for $5.99/lb, so I bought one, and, when following the correct serving size, that will make about 5 servings. Total cost per person? $1.20! Love it!

Anyway, I have way too much food I need to use, so tonights dinner is Steak Casserole (I couldn't think of another name).

  • 3 ounces steak
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joes Basmati Rice
  • 1/4 cup black beans (the rice and black beans were already cooked yesterday)
  • 1/4 cup Kraft natural shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients in an oven-proof bowl, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

The results? Not bad! I should have added crushed red pepper though to give it a little kick. Trial and error!

Calories: 394
Total Fat: 15 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 grams
Carbs: 24 grams
Protein: 38 grams (yay for lean cuts of meat with 26 grams of protein!)
Fiber: 4 grams

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


If you know me, you know I love a good steak. But I never order them at restaurants because 1) they are always overpriced and 2) I don't like how they are cooked. I order it medium and it's either overcooked or undercooked. So instead, I make my own at home.

A couple of years ago I discovered a new cut at the grocery store called a Teres Filet (also called Shoulder Tender, Bistro Tender and Petite Tender). The Certified Angus Beef website puts it in the Chuck category and says it's one of the most tender beef cuts, it resembles a pork tenderloin in shape and size, and it's a lean yet juicy, with excellent flavor.

And they are right! On the rare occasion that I splurge on myself and get steak to cook, I usually end up with this. It's only $5.99/lb and it is delicious. It is extremely tender and the flavor is delicious. A while back one of the steak restaurants in the area decided to buy the entire supply of these and market them as their own "signature" cut, and were charging like $15 for one. Ridiculous! Again, this is why I prefer to cook at home.

I prefer to grill it (because really, a steak always tastes better on the grill) and marinate it for a couple of hours with some A-1 steak sauce and worcestershire sauce (just enough to coat the steak) and grill on medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness, mine are usually about an inch thick) for a medium cooked steak.

I tried to find the nutritional information on this cut, but it was hard enough to just find a description of it, but if you happen to see one at the meat counter, pick one up, you won't be disappointed! (And if I ate a balanced meal like the one above every day, well, one can dream...)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


So, I'm doing this new workout program called ChaLEAN Extreme, and of course, with any workout program comes a food program too.

Those that know me know I hate the word "diet" and don't want to follow a structured eating plan, because even if I didn't want to eat say, artichokes, if you tell me I can't, then I want them.

Anywhoo, I was reading through the food guide that came with this, and a lot of the meals I would actually eat! It's real food! A burger with (gasp) RED MEAT! Everyone is all about ground turkey on a burger, but I'm sorry, if I want a burger, I want it to come from a cow (sorry, my vegetarian friends!). And the burger in the book is just that, ground sirloin on a whole wheat bun with oven baked fries. Something I make quite often. Her whole premise is picking leaner meats (which I already do). And steak quesadillas! Can't wait to make those.

Back to my post....I'm in the "burn" phase right now (the first phase of the program) and she has "burn breakfasts" and I just made my first, a goat cheese and tomato omelet.

  • 2 whole eggs with 2TB skim milk (I omitted the milk since I didn't have any)
  • 1 ounce crumbled goat cheese
  • Chopped tomato
  • I added an ounce of cubed ham
Well, the omelet came out kind of messy (hence the lack of picture), but it is really good! I love goat cheese but never thought to put it in eggs, but it has such a creamy texture, it's just delicious. (I just took another bite, and oh yeah, it's good, and good for you!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poached chicken

I just poached my first chicken breast. I don't know why I haven't done it before, it came out so f*$%&#)& good!!!

  • Place a chicken breast in a pot
  • Season with whatever you want (rosemary, salt, thyme, oregano, anything)
  • Fill pot with enough water to cover the chicken
  • Bring to a boil on the stove
  • Once boiling, turn to a simmer for 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat and cover for 30 minutes (add 5 minutes for bone-in chicken)
Holy crap it was good!!! It came out so juicy, and perfectly cooked. I used it for an imitation Waldorf salad (green apples, chicken, dried cranberries and yogurt). I didn't love the salad as much as I love the chicken breast, but this is definitely going to be my new method for cooking chicken when I want to use it in salads/wraps or anything.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No-knead bread

Success! (Well, almost total success).

I've been wanting to try making no-knead bread forever, so finally did it yesterday.

I made a couple of modifications though, the dough ended up sitting for about 24-26 hours instead of 12-18 (just because I was working), and I didn't get the bread out of the oven until 11pm last night, but I had a slice this morning, and it's really tasty!

Too much flour on it though, so I'll scale way back with the flour on the towels next time, and now I'd like to try and do a sourdough bread this way (if I can). Also, my dutch oven didn't have a lid (it broke :( but I just covered the top with foil and it was fine. I baked it exactly according to the directions and it turned out fantastic.

My dad is so excited to try it, and I think I'll do another loaf to take for Easter brunch on Sunday.

Here's the dough after everything was mixed together:

And the dough after 24 hours:
And how it looks inside:

Monday, April 6, 2009


I think I need a trip to Mexico. All I want lately is tacos, and I've been having them! Twice last week, and probably twice this week, it's tacos. Super simple too. I've been using Pampered Chef's Jamaican Jerk Rub on the chicken, and just slice it up and top with salsa and sliced avocado in a flour tortilla.


All about avocados

My current obsession is avocados. I love guacamole, but sometimes I don't have tomatoes on hand and don't feel like making it, so I've been tossing chunks of avocado onto my tacos lately, and the leftovers I'll just eat plain. So, I thought I'd share some facts from The World's Healthiest Foods website.

Avocados Avocados

Although the creamy rich Hass avocados are generally available throughout the year, they are the most abundant and at their best during the spring and summer in California and in October in Florida. During the fall and winter months you can find Fuerto, Zutano and Bacon varieties.

The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word "ahuacatl".

Food Chart
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Avocados provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Avocados can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Avocados, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Promote Heart Health

Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. In one study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."

One cup of avocado has 23% of the Daily Value for folate, a nutrient important for heart health. To determine the relationship between folate intake and heart disease, researchers followed over 80,000 women for 14 years using dietary questionnaires. They found that women who had higher intakes of dietary folate had a 55% lower risk of having heart attacks or fatal heart disease. Another study showed that individuals who consume folate-rich diets have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume as much of this vital nutrient.

Promote Optimal Health

Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein; it also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).

In a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an extract of avocado containing these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.

But when researchers tried exposing the prostate cancer cells to lutein alone, the single carotenoid did not prevent cancer cell growth and replication. Not only was the whole matrix of carotenoids and tocopherols in avocado necessary for its ability to kill prostate cancer cells, but the researchers also noted that the significant amount of monounsaturated fat in avocado plays an important role. Carotenoids are lipid (fat)-soluble, which means fat must be present to ensure that these bioactive carotenoids will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just as Nature intends, avocado delivers the whole heath-promoting package.

Increase Your Absorption of Carotenoids from Vegetables

Enjoying a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad, or mixing some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa will not only add a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body's ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.

A study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that since carotenoids are lipophilic (literally, fat-loving, which means they are soluble in fat, not water), consuming carotenoid-rich foods along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocado might enhance their bioavailability.

Not only did adding avocado to a salad of carrot, lettuce and baby spinach or to salsa greatly increase study participants' absorption of carotenoids from these foods, but the improvement in carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount-as little as 2 ounces-of avocado was added.

Adding avocado to salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when avocado-free salad was eaten.

Adding avocado to salsa increased lycopene and beta-carotene absorption 4.4 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these nutrients absorbed from avocado-free salsa. Since avocados contain a large variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, eating a little avocado along with carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to improve your body's ability to absorb carotenoids while also receiving other nutritional-and taste-benefits.

Avocado Phytonutrients Combat Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is even more likely to result in death than breast, skin, or cervical cancer, with a mortality rate of about 50% due to late detection, according to Great Britain's Mouth Cancer Foundation. Avocados may offer a delicious dietary strategy for the prevention of oral cancer. Phytonutrients in Hass avocados, the most readily available of the more than 500 varieties of avocados grown worldwide, target multiple signaling pathways, increasing the amount of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, that leads to their death, but cause no harm to normal cells. ? Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 May 17. Earlier research by UCLA scientists also indicates that Hass avocados may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer as well. When analyzed, Hass avocados were found to contain the highest content of lutein among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein accounted for 70% of the measured carotenoids, and the avocado also contained significant quantities of vitamin E. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jan;16(1):23-30.


The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word "ahuacatl."

Avocados are the fruit from the Persea Americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. There are dozens of varieties of avocadoes, which fall into three main categories-Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian-which differ in their size, appearance, quality and susceptibility to cold. The most popular type of avocado in the United States is the Hass variety, which has rugged, pebbly brown-black skin. Another common type of avocado is the Fuerte, which is larger than the Hass and has smooth, dark green skin and a more defined pear shape.

Avocados vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. The edible portion of the avocado is its yellow-green flesh, which has a luscious, buttery consistency and a subtle nutty flavor. The skin and pit are inedible.


Avocados are native to Central and South America and have been cultivated in these regions since 8,000 B.C. In the mid-17th century, they were introduced to Jamaica and spread through the Asian tropical regions in the mid-1800s. Cultivation in United States, specifically in Florida and California, began in the early 20th century. While avocados are now grown in most tropical and subtropical countries, the major commercial producers include the United States (Florida and California), Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.

How to Select and Store

A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor. A firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and will be less likely to have bruises. The Hass avocado weighs about 8 ounces on average and has a pebbled dark green or black skin, while the Fuerte avocado has smoother, brighter green skin. Avoid Fuertes with skin that is too light and bright. Florida avocados, which can be as large as 5 pounds, have less fat and calories, but their taste is not as rich as California varieties.

A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.

If you have used a portion of a ripe avocado, it is best to store the remainder in the refrigerator. Store in a plastic bag, wrap with plastic wrap, or place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes

Tips for preparing avocados:

Use a stainless steel knife to cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit, either with a spoon or by spearing with the tip of a knife. Place the halves face down, then peel and slice. If the flesh is too soft to be sliced, just slide a spoon along the inside of the skin and scoop it out. You can prevent the natural darkening of the avocado flesh that occurs with exposure to air by sprinkling with a little lemon juice or vinegar.

A few quick serving ideas:

Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.


Avocados and Latex Allergy

Like bananas and chestnuts, avocados contain substances called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. There is strong evidence of the cross-reaction between latex and these foods. If you have a latex allergy, you may very likely be allergic to these foods as well. Processing the fruit with ethylene gas increases these enzymes; organic produce not treated with gas will have fewer allergy-causing compounds. In addition, cooking the food may deactivate the enzymes.

Nutritional Profile

Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Avocados are also a good source of potassium: they are higher in potassium than a medium banana.

Although they are fruits, avocados have a high fat content of between 71 to 88% of their total calories - about 20 times the average for other fruits. A typical avocado contains 30 grams of fat, but 20 of these fat grams are health-promoting monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Avocado.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Avocados is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.
Avocado, slices
1.00 cup
146.00 grams
235.06 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin K29.20 mcg36.52.8good
dietary fiber7.30 g29.22.2good
potassium874.54 mg25.01.9good
folate90.37 mcg22.61.7good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.41 mg20.51.6good
vitamin C11.53 mg19.21.5good
copper0.38 mg19.01.5good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
very goodDV>=50%ORDensity>=3.4ANDDV>=5%