Thursday, January 29, 2009

If at first you don't succeed....

... get back online and do some more research!

My undying gratitude to Bob and Lynn for heading me in the right direction. Watching various YouTube videos as well as further educating myself on the differences in flours, have finally made it possible for me (ME!) to bake the perfect loaf of bread.


As it turns out, in my quest to bake 100% whole wheat bread, I've been using the wrong flour all along. Today I learned the difference between hard and soft wheat, and why the whole wheat pastry flour I'd been using does not work well for bread baking. Off to the store I went this morning, in my pj's I'll confess (hey.. I was wearing a coat!) to purchase some King Arthur 100% whole wheat flour. I also found a web site that encouraged letting the dough hook on my KitchenAid do the kneading work for me. No mess, no fuss. It was a piece of cake! (or should I say bread...lol)

I'm so tickled I could just crap. I can't wait to try other recipes. A bread-baking monster has been created.
Thanks again Bob and Lynn.
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OK... the following is an edit to the original post. (just so I can hopefully duplicate my success.
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The verdict is in. The family voted the bread as my "best ever." Now, if you've been following along, you know that heretofore, the competition has been scarce in that area. However, I've finally found a keeper bread recipe and I'm posting it here as my new (first) go-to bread recipe.

The author of this recipe is Crystal Miller. I didn't change any of the ingredients or divert from method. I just needed to make note of my own personal touches.

2 cups warm water (I used hot tap water, 100-110 degrees)
1 T yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
2 t. salt
1/3 cup gluten
5 to 7 cups whole wheat flour (I ended up using a little over 5 cups. I whisked 3 cups of flour with the wheat gluten as the initial flour, then kept the rest in a separate bowl to add in as needed.)

In a stand up type mixer such as a Kitchen Aid combine water, yeast and honey. Let this sit for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is nice and bubbly. Add oil, salt, gluten flour and 3 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Knead this with your mixer and continue to add more flour until the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl and does not feel sticky to the touch. Knead for another 7 to 8 minutes.
When dough has finished kneading let it sit in the mixer bowl and rise until doubled in volume. (my notes: I preheated the oven to 100 degrees then turned it off. Covered mixing bowl with plastic wrap and put it into oven...let rise for almost an hour.) This usually takes about 45 minutes. When it has finished rising, turn on your mixer and knead again for a few more minutes to get all the air bubbles out. Remove from mixer and divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into loaves and put in bread pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Let the loaves rise until they are about 1 inch above the rim of the bread pan. (my notes: covered loaves with linen towel and put back into oven to rise for almost an hour) Bake at 350 for approx. 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spinach Salad

While I unfortunately did not have the "crusty/chewy slice of bread" I'd so anticipated to go with this salad, I thoroughly enjoyed the salad itself, none-the-less.

This isn't so much a specific recipe post as it is a post about method. Pick your base, add your toppings, and wrap it all together with your favorite bottled or homemade dressing.

The days of the boring iceberg lettuce salad have long been put behind me. I now enjoy a variety of greens, topped with any number of tasty and (usually) healthy ingredients. Romaine lettuce is now my "regular" go-to salad base, but I also enjoy bib lettuce, arugula, and spring mix, which is a mixture of greens that offers various textures and tastes... sweet, spicy, peppery, etc. Today's salad however, was based upon my most favorite green of all, spinach. Baby spinach, to be exact. If you think you don't like spinach, you were probably force-fed the nasty canned kind as a child and have absolutely no idea what fresh spinach tastes like. Give it another try; you won't be disappointed.

When I serve a salad as a meal-within-itself, I usually try to find a way to incorporate a lean protein into the mix. Today it was boneless, skinless chicken breast. I marinated the breast for a few hours in some light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (Newman's Own, to be exact) then seasoned it with today's choice of spice (Northwoods Seasoning by http://www.penzeys.com/ ) and then sauteed it in just a little bit of olive oil. The bed of spinach leaves was topped with an ounce or so of blue cheese, a handful of dried cranberries, and a sprinkling of pecans. The chicken breast then stepped onto center stage where it and its surrounding cast was lightly sprinkled with more of Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.

How could this production be rewritten to suit your own tastes you ask? The supporting cast can be changed in the blink of an eye. The role of cranberries could be played by sliced strawberries, or perhaps a Granny Smith apple would enjoy the understudy time. Walnuts easily sub for pecans. If blue cheese is too strong of a character for you, tone it down with some crumbled goat cheese.... or feta. Don't like balsamic vinaigrette? Italian dressing perhaps? Or your own oil and vinegar creation?

The point is... salads can be eaten every single day without achieving the disdain of monotony, if you break way from the iceberg lettuce/plain grilled chicken breast mentality. Change it up!


This is why I don't bake bread...

Every couple of years I have a spell of amnesia and forget that I lack the ability to make homemade bread. I get all excited and spend hours checking out recipes and deciding just which bread I will bake. Glassy eyed with anticipation, I imagine the accolades from family members as they sink their teeth into their first crusty/chewy bite. I purchase yeast with pride, knowing that everyone in line behind me at the grocery store is highly envious of this obviously seasoned baker in front of them.

On the day of the big event, I go to great lengths to ensure success. All ingredients are carefully measured and liquids are heated to the exact temperature. Knead and rise times are followed as instructed. Lovely little loaves go into the oven and I sit back and wait, thoroughly enjoying that smell that only baking yeast bread can emit.

And then it's time to take my precious baked babies out of the oven to cool and admire. I'm giddy as I open the oven door.

Here they are..... shortly before I plopped the little brick bastards into the trash.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cluster Fork Chili

Cluster Fork Chili... the first in my "Cluster Fork" series of recipes. Leftovers, mishaps, and poor time management culminated in one of my most delicious recipes to date.

I've stated in a previous post that I love cowboy beans. I love sweet, heat and spice together and that is exactly what ground beef, taco seasoning and Bush's Baked Beans have when they bump heads in the same pan. And I'm always on the lookout for a way to duplicate Bush's Baked Beans for that purpose.

A few weeks back I bought a bag of dried cranberry beans. NEVER HEARD OF THEM BEFORE. That, in fact, is why I bought them. Something new to try. I did some Googling, but never really came up with a recipe that tickled my taste buds, so yesterday I decided to just soak and boil them, then figure out what to do with them.

Last night we had tacos for dinner. First ingredient in Cluster Fork Chili... leftover taco meat, about a pound's worth.

I then took about a half a pound of cooked cranberry beans, tossed them in a crock pot, seasoned them with salt and pepper, then added the taco meat on top. Next I sauteed some green pepper, onion and garlic in some olive oil, added in 8 ounces of tomato sauce, 1/3 cup ketchup, 1 tsp mustard, 2 TBSP molasses, 2 TBSP worchestershire sauce, 1 TBSP brown sugar, 1 beef bouillon cube and a dash of cayenne pepper. After allowing some simmer time to marry those flavors, I then added them to the crockpot.

Additionally, I tossed in one dried, stemmed and seeded Cascabel pepper (I love http://www.penzeys.com/) I stirred the whole shebang thoroughly, tossed on the lid, then simmered on low for 4 hours. About half way through I noticed the beans were looking kind of dry so I stirred in about a cup of V-8 juice. (Remove Cascabel pepper shell before serving)

Before serving, stir in some pepper jack cheese and top with some crumbled baked Tostito chips. This had enough kick to make it seriously good without making it seriously spicy. Perfect blend of flavors

Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe was an experiment of sorts. I have a favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I wanted to make it a little bit healthier. It is my belief that desserts are meant to be rich, thus eaten only occasionally, so I usually don't tamper with my tried-and-true sweets recipes. However, hubby has a sweet tooth the size of Texas and he refuses to adhere to my rule of only eating dessert occasionally. Most often, I don't even have his dinner plate in the dishwasher before he's scrounging through the cupboards for something to scratch his sweeth tooth's itch.

So I took my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies recipe, divided it in half, and experimented with two different variations to see where (and if) I could make it a healthier version of itself without compromising too much on the taste and texture.

In the first batch I used whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, regular Splenda and brown sugar Splenda in place of the traditional ingredients of all purpose flour, white sugar and brown sugar. They weren't terrible on the taste buds, but they didn't spread at all and sort of resembled little oat hockey pucks.

For the second batch, I used all whole wheat pastry flour, regular white sugar and brown sugar Splenda. The result was a very nicely shaped cookie, slightly crunchy on the outside, but tender and chewy on the inside. Excellent.

Please keep in mind that while these cookies offer the benefit of whole grains, they are NOT low fat. *sigh* Ya win some, ya lose some.

Also of note, the original recipe that I altered was created by Diane Neth and was featured in Taste of Home Magazine, Aug/Sept, 2007

Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar Splenda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted then measured
1 small package sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and eggs. In separate bowl whisk together the oats, flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips. Take tablespoon sized scoops, roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Baked for 11 minutes or until very slightly browned. Let cool for a minute or two on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

The original recipe says that this makes 7 dozen cookies. I got a little over half that amount.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffins

More whole grain goodness today. These pumpkin muffins are a delicious way to incorporate some wonderful nutrients into your diet without adding a lot of calories. With the chocolate chips they average out to around 150 calories apiece. Without, they're right around 115 calories each.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

1 egg plus 1/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters)
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 of a 15 oz can of pumpkin (just a bit under a cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP canola oil
1 3/4 cup Splenda

Whisk wet ingredients and Splenda together.

Combine wet with dry ingredients, stirring just to moisten. Stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional.)Spray 12-cupcake baking tin with cooking spray and divide mixture amongst cups.Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 23 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sloop Doggie Dog

A freshly groomed doggie basking in the sunshine deserves his very own photo op.
Hang On Sloopy is a favorite song amongst Ohio State fans and thus the origination of our little guy's name.

Sloopy is half Cairn terrier and half shih tzu and as expected, exhibits characteristics of both breeds. He has the underbite, nose and neediness of the shih tzu, but the rest of him is all terrier.

We immediately fenced in our back yard when we moved to Indiana because if he gets out the door, he's gone... sometimes for miles. He just loves to explore!

He has two speeds, hyperactive and semi-comatose. We enjoy both.



But mostly, we just really enjoy him period.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yellow Split Pea Soup

When most people think of split pea soup, they picture the green variety, which can be quite tasty in its own right. However, for a change of pace, I thought I'd make a pot of yellow split pea soup today. While similar in taste, I think the yellow peas are sweeter and pair well with the carrots. I also had two quarts of stock that I'd made from smoked turkey bones that added a very nice depth of flavor to the soup. Regular chicken broth would work here as well.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 quarts smoked turkey stock
1 pound dried yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed

In soup pot heat oil, add onion and season with turmeric, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add carrots, potatoes, stock and split peas. Bring to a boil, season with additional salt (2 tsp,) reduce heat, cover and simmer until peas are falling apart, approximately one hour. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fish oil

Middle-age is a mixed blessing.

At this stage of life, most of us have already barreled through the stress of continued employment, relationship angst, and the bitter-sweet joy that "Parenting For Dummies" never quite gets around to fully describing/fixing. By hook or by crook, for the most part, we've also managed to secure ourselves financially. If not to the point we'd dreamed of in our early years, we've at least hopefully thought far enough ahead to ensure that we can indeed afford the price of our late-life Depends, if not our mortgage. Of course, all of our pre-middle-aged planning was both precariously and erroneously originated at a time in our lives where we knew we would live forever. When one has the silky hair and perky breasts of a twenty-five year old, one can never imagine that one could eventually lose both to breast cancer. Along with free will, a soul, and love for fast food, God also implanted the "it'll never happen to me" gene into almost every human being. We're all players in His game of Russian Roulette. We all know the risks. We check the odds. We still play. Yes... we're that stupid.

The point of this post, you ask? Well geeze... I don't have to have a point. It's my blog...lol.

However, in a Mag-like-roundabout way, I do have a point.

Middle age brings with it so many health related issues that would have been insignificant or ignored in younger years. A stiff shoulder in your twenties meant you slept on it wrong. A rapid heart beat meant you were either sexually excited or the cops were on your ass for speeding (or worse.) Stomach aches defined too many tacos or too much tequila (or both,) Knee pain was a signal to stop going to Mass so often.

OK... that was just for affect. Knee pain is serious and shouldn't be joked about. It is the number one cause of lost blow jobs in the United States.

But once again, I've digressed. (duh)

Ok... here's the deal. I've been reading about the health advantages of adding fish oil to your diet. Research shows that the right kind can help prevent heart disease, maintain optimum blood pressure and cholesterol levels and give almost immediate relief from joint pain, migraines, depression, autoimmune diseases and many other conditions. And, by improving brain development and memory functioning, from conception through old age, certain Omega-3 oils also provide the perfect brain food.

Sign... me... up

So, last weekend I started taking fish oil capsules. The directions stated to take one, three times daily... which I did, for four days. By the second day, I started to notice changes, first in my sleep patterns, then in joint paint. However, to fully appreciate the affect, you'd have to know that I already suffer from both insomnia and joint (knee) pain. So when I noticed a PROFOUND negative difference in both ailments, and so suddenly, I could only assume that there must be some type of correlation. Google (my life, my love) showed that although most people benefit in both sleep patterns and joint pain by the addition of fish oil (omega 3) to their diets, a small percentage do suffer from negative side effects. Yup... I'm the freak... the one who screws it all up for everyone else. If a pill says it will put you to sleep, it will invariably wake me up. If it claims to calm you, I will come up swinging every time, more agitated and aggressive than what is normal for me.

I stopped taking the fish oil on Wednesday. By last night (Saturday) I was back to normal (my normal) sleep patterns. And.. today was the first day this week I didn't need to take some type of pain medication for my knee pain..

Bottom line. Even those supplements deemed "natural" or those that contain supposedly botanical or organic ingredients can be a cause of trouble to those who are intolerant freaks of nature (me.) If ONE person Googles the symptoms I had and stumbles across this blog in the process, it will be worth every hour it took to write it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oven Roasted Vegetables


About once a week I roast a big batch of vegetables in the oven. The selection varies from week to week, depending on what's on sale, what I have on hand, and what I'm hungry for. This week it was green beans, red onion, red pepper, carrots and mushrooms. The vegetables are chunked up into similar sized pieces, doused with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and seasoned liberally with whatever spices I'm in the mood for. This week it was herbs de provence, salt and pepper. I covered two cookie sheets with Reynolds Release foil and distributed the vegetables between them. The oven was preheated to 425 degrees and I roasted them for 30 minutes, stirring them and rotating cookie sheets about half way through. I then tossed them with a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar and the end result was a delicious, caramelized treat with a tiny vinegary tang to offset the distinctive sweetness that oven-roasting imparts. So good!




I then like to use the leftovers later in the week to make pizza. A whole wheat pizza crust (Boboli) is topped with pizza sauce, cheese, chopped leftover vegetables, and diced turkey pepperoni, then baked in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.





Thursday, January 15, 2009

Milk Noodle Soup (the sequel)

When I was a kid, my mother made what is still to this day, my favorite comfort food. We called it milk noodle soup (we weren't very culinarily creative.) I'm certain that the recipe came over on the boat with my German great-grandparents and because it is made with relatively inexpensive ingredients, I'm also sure it was popular during the lean, Depression years.

My challenge was to remake the original, which was laden with butter and full fat cream, into one that is at least a little more healthy. I substituted some of the butter with olive oil and I added in the cabbage as a way of cutting back on the quantity of noodles as well as a way to incorporate more vegetables. Also I totally cut out the cream and replaced it with skim milk.

Milk Noodle Soup (the sequel)

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery (with leaves) diced
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 medium head of cabbage, shredded
2 medium red potatoes, diced (I left the skins on)
8 ounces of egg noodles
1 cup skim milk
handful of fresh parsley, chopped

In soup pot over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add onion and celery. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and thyme. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Stir in flour and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly. Add in chicken broth and bring back to a boil. Add cabbage, potatoes and noodles. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables and noodles are tender. Remove from heat; stir in milk and parsley.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Sweet Potato... A Super Food!

I love it when I stumble upon a food that I love and then discover that it is also good for me. I shunned sweet potatoes all my life because my only experience with them was the (disgusting) super-sweet casserole version on our Thanksgiving table. A few years back I decided to try them with a more savory twist and they've quickly become my new favorite vegetable. The health benefits of the sweet potato are substantial, elevating it to super-food status with the likes of broccoli, blueberries, spinach and salmon. Rich with fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamin E and beta-carotene, the sweet potato is being heralded for its disease fighting properties.

I serve this chicken sausage and sweet potato hash on its own, or topped with an egg for breakfast.

3 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled. Cut in half length-wise, then again length-wise, then into thin slices.
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
salt, pepper
4 fully-cooked chicken or turkey sausages, diced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In microwave-safe dish, place potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon or two or water, cover, and microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Stir and return to microwave; microwave for another 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In large skillet heat one tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper, and saute until translucent. Remove from heat.

In another large skillet heat one tablespoon olive oil. Add sausage pieces and saute until lightly caramelized, remove from skillet and drain on paper towel.

To that same skillet add the final tablespoon of olive oil. Add in drained sweet potatoes and season with cumin, oregano, garlic powder, paprika and red pepper flakes. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Allow potatoes to finish cooking until soft and lightly caramelized, then stir in veggies and sausage pieces. Continue cooking for another five minutes or so to allow flavors to combine. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pulled Pork Panini

Hubby got me a panini grill for Christmas and I've had the most fun trying out all different kinds of recipes for grilled sandwiches. For the most part I use cold cuts and whatever cheese I have on hand, but when I looked at my leftover pulled pork this morning, I thought it would make a great panini as well. And it did!

3-4 lb. pork loin roast
Montreal chicken seasoning
1 cup chicken broth

Season roast liberally with chicken seasoning and place in crockpot. Add the broth, cover, and cook on low setting for 6-7 hours, or until fork tender. Shred meat with two forks into smaller pieces. If there is quite a bit of broth, drain a bit of it, leaving just enough to moisten meat.

To the pork add:

2 red bell peppers, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 small bottle Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, or your favorite sauce

Simmer on low for several hours to combine flavors.

To make the panini, separate whole wheat pita into halves and assemble sandwich using pork, creamy cole slaw, and pepperjack cheese. Grill on panini press on low for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

Now that cream cheese season is officially over, I've been looking for a recipe to make a healthier dip. In this month's Cooking Light magazine, Maureen Redmond shares her recipe for Spicy Black Bean Hummus. Black beans are high in fiber and there's negligible oil used to help get them to a creamy consistency, so this appeared to be a relatively healthy dip recipe. The only problem I encountered was in not being able to find tahini at my local grocery store. A quick internet search yielded a recipe for a "mock" tahini that really worked well in this recipe. I simply ground up a half a cup of toasted sesame seeds in my food processor, then added in a few tablespoons of sesame oil to bring it to a paste-like consistency.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

1 garlic clove, peeled
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small jalapeno pepper (you can remove seeds and veins if you don't want much heat)
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp olive oil
dash of ground red pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until desired consistency.

Serve with pita or tortilla chips. (I used Baked Tostitos Scoops)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who's the biggest loser?

The after-holiday dulldrums (misspell intentional) have left me without inspiration or direction, therefore I'm left to fixate on a subject that would perhaps not otherwise interest me or consume me. I'm not generally a television watcher, but since we've acquired a DVR, I've discovered that there are several programs off the beaten network path that I am drawn to on a weekly, train-wreck basis.

My favorite reality (freak) shows:
  • The Biggest Loser (Tuesdays at 8:00 on NBC) Morbidly obese people compete to lose the most weight in a secluded setting, with the help of two personal trainers who simultaneously berate and encourage them (where your dysfunctional parents may have left off, Bob and Jillian will take over.)
  • I Lost It (Discovery Health, times varied) Morbidly obese people succeed in their weight loss battle through various weight loss sItrategies. More dysfunctional childhoods, trysts with Dunkin Donuts, and generalized self pity.
  • X-Weighted (Discovery Health, times varied) Morbidly obese people attempt weight loss (if you're not noticing a theme here, you may be a few fries shy of a partially hydrogenated Happy Meal) Personal Trainer Paul Plakas (complete with his sexy/dorky Canadian accent) attempts to remold eating and exercising habits in a six month time frame. I'm in love with him, but I'll never get why he makes people throw out their peanut butter. Those are good fats Paul!
  • Big Medicine (TLC, times varied) Bariatric surgeons, father-son duo Drs. Robert and Garth Davis, team up with plastic surgeons and a psychotherapist to transform (once again, the Happy Meal) morbidly obese people into slimmer, psychoanalyzed, and bodily sculpted versions of their former selves.

I think you get the point. I'm drawn to this type of program.

And while I will always believe that there are physiological reasons for obesity, I will remain adamant that our society in general is not overweight due to those physiological reasons. Also, even though I'm a firm believer in the "we are a product of our dysfunctional upbringing" theory, I still feel that the percentage of the "dysfunctionally" overweight in our country accounts for only a nominal number of the obese. The majority are simply victims of the life style that has become the norm for most of us living in the United States. Fast food and fast life have turned us into a nation of people who have relegated their meal ticket to corporations who do not have our best interests (health) at heart. Many studies have been directed at the addictive properties of high fat, high sugar, and processed foods. And even though we're years away from legislative intervention for the most part, we only need the proof of the shape of today's youth to confirm that childhood obesity is indeed an epidemic.

There was just NOTHING on TV tonight...lol.... end rant.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Curried Chicken Salad

I just returned home after spending a very therapeutic weekend with my best friend. Lots of belly laughs and long talks into the wee hours have left me relaxed and ready to face the new year. She really is my human Prozac.

I like to pre-make some of the meals when I travel to see her, because it allows for less time in the kitchen and more talk time. Food is never the focus during our get-togethers, but hey, ya gotta eat. I made this curried chicken salad before I left home and we enjoyed it for lunch yesterday.

Curried Chicken Salad

1 cup light mayo
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
1 stalk celery, small dice
1/2 cup onion, small dice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Combine mayo, curry powder, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in chicken, celery, onion, cranberries and pecans. Combine well. Chill well before serving.