Barbecue Chicken Wrap

I’ve found myself wanting to make a lot of wrap sandwiches lately, maybe because they’re portable for me to carry and enjoy outside in the lovely spring weather. Here’s what I’m eating for lunch today.

Barbecue chicken (I went with one grilled boneless, skinless chicken thigh diced, because I had them on hand, but you could pick up heat-and-eat pulled barbecue chicken from the store.

1/3 cup mashed sweet potato, baked or canned and drained

1 burrito-sized tortilla


Spread the sweet potato on the tortilla.  Top worth the chicken. Roll away!

Notes: If I had them on hand, I’d also add baby spinach leaves and thinly sliced red onion. You could also add an additional 1 or 2T of barbecue sauce for additional tangy goodness.


Savory Turkey Ham and Quinoa Salad


I started off intending to make this salad from Leite’s Culinaria (by way of the book The New American Olive Oil), but I worried that it wouldn’t taste the same without the sherry vinegar, so I worked around it. Here’s what I ended up doing:

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Things I Learned From a Month of Salads

My 2012 started off with me stocking up on lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, red cabbage, peppers, and other kinds of raw vegetables to turn into salads. In the month of January, I embarked on a challenge to eat a salad a day.

I was sick and missed dinner on Day 7, and on Day 26, the realities of salad fatigue had set in. But after those two missed days, I ate two salads on the following days. So I eventually crossed the finish line into February, today, with 31 bowls of veggies and proteins having made their way through my body in the month before. Someone figure out how to turn a radish into a medal for me!

I am happy to have completed my challenge with minor hiccups. I will be glad to get back to not having to limit my food options, but I think I will incorporate more salads into my life in general. I came up with a bunch of tasty ideas that I won’t let go to waste!

Besides filling up my mental recipe box with ideas, I learned a bunch of other things about salads and their place in my life. Here are 10 of those things: Continue reading

Two Days, Four Meals, Few Hours

I am a firm believer in cooking the majority of my food. But when you do that, you have to have a good plan to get everything done as efficiently as possible.

Here’s what I did this past weekend to get together meals for lunch and dinner. The things I made were two types of chicken breast, turkey kielbasa, a Cajun-spiced turkey dish, two types of rice, and pasta for my son. And then I made dessert! Here’s the chef’s log:

Saturday morning: started the Cajun turkey. This is a slow-cooker dish that became easier because I didn’t have onions or peppers on hand to chop. I placed two turkey thighs, skin on, in the slow cooker, topped them with a large can of crushed tomatoes, and added Cajun spice and onion powder. I let the meat go for 10 hours, checking in and mixing occasionally.

Saturday evening: I took the thighs out off the sauce and discarded the skin, gristle and bones. I shredded the turkey with two forks, then returned it to the slow cooker. That didn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Sunday morning: I marinated the chicken. There were 16 breast tenders in the package; I put 8 in a bag with hot sauce and canola oil, then the other 8 in a bag with apple cider vinegar, oil and Adobo seasoning. I shook the bags and placed them in the refrigerator. That didn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Sunday afternoon: I started the white rice for my husband in a slow cooker, with a 32-oz box of chicken broth and some butter. I refrigerated the rice when it was  finished. Prep time was approximately 5 minutes.

Sunday evening: to grill the chicken and kielbasa, I started my indoor electric grill. While it was heating up, I started jambalaya rice in the microwave: two boxes of rice and seasonings, water, and some oil. I covered the container and let the rice cook for 25 minutes.

With the grill hot, I grilled one batch of chicken, then the other. Then, I grilled the kielbasa. It took maybe 45 minutes to an hour to thoroughly cook the meat. In the middle of doing this, I boiled the pasta water and then cooked and drained the pasta.

In the meantime the jambalaya rice finished cooking, but I heated it for another five minutes. I also mixed up a batch of diet Coke brownies and put them in the oven. They were the last thing to finish cooking.

As far as vegetables, I had heated a steamer bag of spinach earlier in the day, for breakfast. I will need to heat another bag of vegetables later this week.

Without a lot of effort, I was able to cook several meals for the week. The things that saved me time were the slow cooker, rice cooker, grill and microwave. Also helpful were the carton of chicken stock, the can of tomatoes, the large package of chicken, and the pre-seasoned jambalaya rice boxes.

This was the strategy I used to feed my family and save time. What divide and conquer strategies do you use?

Six-Word Weight Loss Stories

As an avid user of Twitter, I’ve come across six-word stories before. The grandchildren of an Ernest Hemingway urban legend that has eluded verification, six-word stories and the clear meaning packed into the meager word count are perfect for the Twitterverse.

I decided to try my hand at six-word stories related to weight loss, as an elevator pitch of inspiration and encouragement for my fellow “losers.”

Here’s an anthology of these stories for you. I think I will add to this list from time to time. Please check back, and feel free to share yours, too!

For undercover nutrition, just add spinach.

Always plan to have a snack.

No-fat yogurt; low-fat cheese.

Omelets for a quick, easy breakfast.

Depriving yourself is a dangerous thing.

Want French fries? Bake them. Seriously.

An indoor grill: a valuable investment.

Always avoid in-a-rut eating.

Don’t forget to drink your water.

If you like it, eat more seafood.

You control your eating, not others.

Reward weight loss occasionally, but meaningfully.

Food is not a good reward.

Filling snacks have protein and fiber.

Use measuring tools for honest eating.

When you want chocolate, eat chocolate.

Portion control and moderation are key.

Salad dressing is not a necessity.

Have a dining out game plan.

Slow and steady loses the weight.

My Salad Days of January: 10 Ideas

In years past, I’ve felt no interest whatsoever in eating salads this time of year. Who wants cool, crisp lettuce when the outdoors ground cover it resembles is coated with a layer of frost every morning? This was my previous line of thought.  Roasted veggies, or those that have taken leisurely baths in soups or stews sounded cozy and nutritious, while raw veggies fresh from the fridge sounded as appealing as a December swim in the English Channel.

But for some reason I’m interested in salads this winter. Maybe it’s the guarantee of getting in a bunch of veggie servings, or maybe that means I, as someone who dislikes winter, am really trying to ignore the fact that the season is here.

Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to kick off the New Year by eating a salad every day for the month of January. I look forward to this challenge after having had a heavy eating holiday season.

This Web MD article agrees that a salad a day is a good idea, for the fiber, the nutrients in the ingredients, the ability of salads to fill you up on minimal calories, and because it can be a good way to get in healthy fats (if you add nuts, avocado, or olive oil to your salad).

Here are some salad ideas I will undoubtedly use in January:

  1. Turkey or chicken Caesar salad: top lettuce with the meat, add a light Caesar or Caesar vinaigrette dressing, and a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan. Pass on the croutons and opt for a carb side instead.
  2. Tuna salad: top your veggies with 1/2 cup of tuna (packed in water), with 1T of light mayonnaise mixed in. Salad dressing is optional.
  3. Taco salad: the next time you make tacos, add the leftover meat to your vegetables, along with reduced fat cheddar. As dressing, try mixing salsa (1/4 or 1/3 of a cup) with 1 or 2T of fat-free ranch.
  4. Salmon salad: top your greens with grilled or blackened salmon, or canned salmon. If I’m eating blackened salmon or a flavorful grilled salmon, I might pass on the salad dressing. Otherwise, I’d go with a fat-free honey mustard vinaigrette.
  5. Grilled shrimp salad: just like it sounds, grilled shrimp over veggies. I’d choose the dressing depending on the spices the shrimp are seasoned with (or go with no dressing).
  6. Jerk pork or chicken salad: toss a little avocado in with the meat. I might also try adding a little pineapple or mango. I’d probably pass on the dressing to let the spicy flavors have control.
  7. Cheeseburger salad: crumble a turkey or lean ground beef burger over the greens. Add reduced fat cheddar, Swiss, feta, or any other kind of cheese that you’d normally put on a burger.
  8. Buffalo chicken salad: microwave and dice a breaded chicken patty. For the dressing, mix 2T of light or fat-free blue cheese dressing with hot sauce to taste.
  9. Harvest turkey salad: along with the turkey, go with an ounce of Havarti cheese and a tablespoon or two of dried cranberries.
  10. Italian salad: pair part-skim mozzarella or provolone with  turkey pepperoni and/or salami. Add pepperoncini if you’d like.

Here are 10 ideas, enough to get me a third of the way through my month of salad days! I’d generally eat 3 or 4 ounces of the meat (exception: 2 oz of sliced turkey breast, and 2 or 3 oz of the shrimp) and a carb side with the salad–pretzels, baked chips, tortillas or cheese curls, or a a slice of toast or a light hamburger bun (served plain or topped with light butter substitute or olive oil, with or without spices). As far as the greenery, I’d recommend anything but iceberg lettuce (like romaine, spinach, spring mix, etc.), because iceberg will have the least nutritional value.

If you are interested in ramping up your salad eating, I hope you find something you enjoy! If you have any additional easy salad ideas, please feel free to share.