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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

change up your grains

whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and they are usually cheaper than the meat or veggie part of the meal so they are good "padding" for the cost of the meal too. i try to use some sort of grain in every dinner i cook. it is easy to get bored if you use the same grains in the same ways all of the time so here are some grain ideas from my kitchen:

  • brown rice - chewy and delicious and much healthier than white. it tastes better as a side dish with heartier meals. it's harder to cook than white, but here's the perfect ratio: 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup brown rice - combine, salt water, bring to boil, turn down to low and simmer covered for 40-45 minutes (until water is gone). i like brown rice with black beans in enchiladas or on a mexican-sytle salad, too.
  • white rice - not as good for you as brown, but way yummier with asian cuisine like curry.
  • pasta - whole wheat is best, but its expensive, so make your choice here! pour your favorite sauce over it, bake it, put it in soup, make a cold salad out of it. mmm...
  • potatoes - i love red, but they are, again, more expensive, but ohhh so yummy! i buy whatever is cheapest usually. do a baked potato bar, make soup, mash them, turn them into oven fries or chop and bake them coated with a tiny bit of olive oil and a package of onion soup mix - that is one of my favorites!
  • bread - i love bread. i would be an atkins diet failure for sure. i like to do homemade wheat (or 1/2 white 1/2 wheat) rolls or breadsticks or use it as part of the main course and make pizza or calzones.
  • tortillas - again, go whole wheat. my husband rebels against whole wheat so we alternate white and wheat at our house. we love corn tortillas too. love these under a cafe rio style salad or in a mexi-casserole, make as a quesadilla, taco, enchiladas, burritos (try breakfast burritos for dinner some time!), etc, etc, etc. when i'm out of town my husband eats them with peanut butter and jelly.
  • quinoa - actually not one of my favorites, but it is a fun one to use once in a while if you're bored!
  • cous cous - a fun and different alternative to the typical grains. it's really yummy and makes a great side dish on a plate with meats and veggies. see a recipe below to try. i usually buy it in the bulk section of the whole foods market.

here's a yummy dinner i made last week. i love parmesan crusted chicken and this one was perfect.

parmesan crusted balsamic chicken and tomato florentine couscous

1 chicken breast and 1 1/2 cups couscous (about 3 servings - double all if you need more!)

parmesan crusted balsamic chicken
pound 1 chicken breast (or cut into thin peices) and marinate all day in:
1/4 cup italian dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oil

for coating, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (chop smaller if you have the fresh, grated kind so it will stick to the chicken easier)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
black pepper to your liking

simply pull the chicken out of the marinade and coat each side with the parmesan mixture.

bake at 350 in a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish for 15-20 minutes (may vary depending on the thickness of your chicken!)

tomato florentine couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups (or more, to your liking) fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 roma large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

bring broth to a boil. add couscous and spinach, stir then turn off heat and set lid in place. let stand 5 minutes. add dried herbs, tomatoes and onion and toss with fork.

have a happy turkey day everyone! i'm making my dad's stuffing this year. it's fabulous. i'm drooling just thinking about it! what is everyone else's favorite thanksgiving food?


Holley said...

mmm, i made this last week and it was really tasty! i used asiago cheese for the chicken for a little twist on it. thanks for the fun recipie!

Kristi Chase said...

I used this recipe last night, with a few of variation. Since I didn't plan a head and I don't have italian dressing or vinager, I just sprayed with some olive oil and used some italian-feeling herbs. I didn't have bread crumbs so I used crackers. Thanks for the idea, it turned out good and I was able to make my husband something besides "the usual."

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!