Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken and Roasted Winter Vegetables

Today's meal features another recipe from Cuisine Lite magazine.

I have to say, so far I'm impressed with this publication and will be attempting another recipe tonight - going on a limb to try a new ingredient *for me* the tomatillo - which will become a vegetarian sauce to serve over whole wheat spaghetti.

Normally such fare wouldn't appeal to me, but because the recipes this far have been so darn good, I have to give it a try.

Really good vegetarian dishes are like gold to me - especially since one of my new health goals is to serve a meatless meal once a week.

Back in the day when I actually was a runner, our family went vegetarian over the winter and I can remember making many terrific dishes and quite a few "memorable" ones.

Memorable because several have become long running family jokes like "bird seed burgers" and "pooplenta" (don't ask)

And so, this ampler, slower version of myself, is conscious of not re-creating those recipe disasters of the past because, let's face it, life is too short to eat bland food (or drink cheap wine).

Which brings me to today and another flavour packed, easy to prepare, weeknight dinner.

The recipe for the chicken is from the magazine and turned out tender and moist. The sweet mustard glaze was a perfectly tangy (and much tastier) alternative to a store bought sauce.

Winter veggies in foil was my idea and I was so happy with the way they turned out!

Have a Fabulous and healthy Thursday everyone - and who's tuning into Grey's Anatomy tonight? I am SO excited!

Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken
225 calories, 2 gram total fat
For printable recipe click here















Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil and spray with PAM cooking spray.
  2. Stir together Dijon, maple syrup, whole grain mustard, brown sugar, and thyme in a small bowl.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place on prepared sheet and brush with the mustard mixture.
  4. Roast 30 minutes, then baste with mustard mixture again. Return chicken to oven and roast until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165, 15-20 minutes more.
Roasted Winter Vegetables in Foil Packets

Ingredients
  • 1/2 small turnip cut into small squares
  • 1 medium red potato cut into small squares
  • 5 Brussels sprouts cut in half
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 5 button mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 a white onion sliced into thin rings
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • zest from one whole lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
Directions

Mix ingredients together in a medium bowl and transfer to tinfoil. Bring foil together to make pouch. Bake pouch on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet for 90 minutes. Add the chicken to the same baking sheet at the 30 minute mark.




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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crusted Tuna with Soy Ginger Sauce and Vinegar Rice

Another great thing about changing the way I eat has been discovering foods I've never cooked before.

Though I've often thought Ahi tuna looked amazing while watching the Food Network, for some reason I felt too intimidated to make it.

But when I saw the following recipes in a magazine called Cuisine Light, I knew I wanted to try it - not only for the tuna, but for the ground pepper and coriander in the spice rub.

I wondered what on earth it would all be like together and decided to take a chance.

After all, it's only cooking.

So that's what I did - and to spectacular results because this dinner was better than I could have ever imagined. The tuna was light, and moist, and flavourful, and the sauce - to die for!

I was also impressed by how well the vinegar rice paired with this. The avocado and mango provided the perfect balance for the spices in the tuna and cooled it off somewhat on the palette.

As an added bonus, the meal was also very quick and easy to prepare - crucial for a weeknight.

A nice crisp chardonnay goes well with this dinner or even a beautiful red. I opted for my current favourite - a cabernet sauvignon called Stormy Bay that comes from South Africa. Not only is this wine at a fabulous price point, I find it to be absolutely delicious.

One of the secrets to happiness, I believe, is in finding balance because life has ways of throwing curve balls throughout the day.

That's why my mornings and evenings are sacred and why I try not to think about work or any of the stressors of the day once I have clocked out.

Mornings are for drinking coffee, stretching, preparing a good breakfast, showering, taking time to get ready for the day ahead, and writing - both in my blog, and my novel - a project I plan to have completed and ready sometime in September.

And evenings are long walks or a run with the dog before dinner, cooking with my husband, enjoying our meal with a nice glass of wine, a little TV, a good book, meditation, and sleep in a warm, comfortable bed.

Balance.

It's not always there, but when I make a conscious effort to remember my own "wheel of life" giving equal time to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual everything just feels better.

I hope you enjoy to today's recipe - and if you're inspired to add a little more balance to your own life, so much the better - at the end of the day, it's all about supporting one another toward each of our own higher purposes.

At least, that's what Oprah says.

And I'm sticking to it ;)

Happy Wednesday all!

Crusted Tuna with Soy Ginger Sauce
317 calories
For printable recipe click here

















For the Tuna
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tuna fillets (5 oz each)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chile garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
Finish with:
1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 T fresh lime juice

Preheat grill to medium high.

Pulse coriander and peppercorns in a coffee grinder until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add salt. Set aside.

Brush both sides of tuna with olive oil, then press seasonings onto both sides. Grill fish covered 2 minutes on each side, remove and let rest 5 minutes. You may need to adjust cooking time based on thickness.

Saute ginger in butter in a small skillet over medium heat until soft, 1 minute. Deglaze with wine, simmer until reduced by half, then stir in soy sauce, chile garlic sauce, molasses, sugar and dry mustard. Simmer 2 - 3 minutes.

Drizzle sauce over tuna, then finish with scallions and lime juice. Serve with vinegar rice (recipe to follow) and steamed green beans with a little sauce drizzled over as well.

Vinegar Rice
123 Calories

Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry basmati or jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup diced avocado
  • 1/2 cup diced mango or mandarin orange
Directions
  1. Prepare rice according to package directions
  2. Stir in vinegar , and top with avocado and mango



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ideas for Controlling Blood Sugar and Power Packed Breakfast Sandwich

Over the last few weeks I've been doing some reading about health, weight loss and some of the science behind it.

As such, I've been finding tips and ideas that I find interesting and helpful that I wanted to share...

Acetic Acid and Blood Glucose (sugar)

Acetic acid, the compound that gives pickles and vinegar "tang" acts as an anchor to keep blood glucose from rising too high. In fact, in a study published in the Journal of the American Diabetic Association, people who ate a buttered bagel and orange juice - a breakfast that packs a glycemic punch - saw their blood glucose shoot up in the next hour. But when participants also drank about 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, their blood glucose levels after the meal were 50% lower. A similar cut in glucose happened after a chicken and rice meal.

Scientists aren't completely certain why this is, but they do know vinegar interferes with the enzymes that break apart the chemical bonds in starches and the kinds of sugars found in white sugar and milk. This means it takes your body longer to break down those foods into blood glucose.

It also means the old wive's tale of taking a tbsp of apple cider vinegar with meals to aid weight loss has validity.

Cut calories, eat smaller portions, eat more complex carbs, eat more fruits and vegetables, have protein with every meal, favour good fats, exercise, and your new "silver bullet to weight loss" add acidic foods to your meals!

Here are some other ways to add acids to your meals...
  • Use mustard instead of mayonnaise or alongside lower fat mayo on sandwiches (I love dijon) It also makes a nice coating or marinade for chicken and fish.
  • Eat pickles with your meals.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over fish, seafood, vegetables - even soups and stews because it helps to liven up flavours.
  • Squeeze lime juice over avocados, fish, turkey, lean pork and beef, melon, and even sweet potatoes.
  • Eat more citrus fruit - including grapefruit - perhaps acids are the reasons behind the popular grapefruit diet of the 70's.
  • Cook with wine.
  • Add salsa to recipes.
  • Drinking wine (one glass a day for women, 2 for men) can help keep blood insulin levels low, and is linked with a lowered risk of developing diabetes and a lowered risk of heart disease and stroke.
Another way to keep blood glucose steady is by starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Today I'm going to share a recipe for a delicious sausage and egg breakfast sandwich - along with another tip:

Convenient Tip

Place 12-24 turkey sausages on a baking rack. Prick each with a fork and bake in a 350 oven for one hour. Cool, cut into bite sized pieces, and store in freezer bags in your freezer to use as a low fat, high protein alternative to pork sausage in breakfasts.

Breakfast Sandwich




















Ingredients
  • 4 whole wheat English Muffins, toasted
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cooked turkey sausage cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs (preferably free range, omega 3)
  • hot sauce
  • salsa (good acid for lower blood glucose)
  • low fat mayo
  • tomato slices
  • baby spinach leaves
  • PAM cooking spray
Directions
  1. Toast English muffins, spread one side with 1/2 tsp low fat mayo, the other side with a Tbsp salsa
  2. Saute vegetables over medium heat in non-stick pan sprayed with PAM until soft.
  3. Whisk eggs together, add a few shakes of hot sauce.
  4. Pour eggs into pan, sprinkle sausage over top and cook omelet style, flipping once, or scrambling.
  5. Divide into four and place on prepared muffins. Top with tomato, spinach, and a little black pepper.
If you're brave enough, drink a Tbsp of apple cider vinegar in ice water. I do this while I take my vitamins. I do a multi everyday along with salmon oil and a baby aspirin.

Talk about a powerful way to start the day!!

Until tomorrow, SMOOCHES everyone!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kentucky Un-Fried Chicken Strips and Sweet Potato Fries

I've been in the mood for one of my favourite guilty pleasures: Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But since the Colonel's original method of deep frying the cluck out of isn't recommended for a heart healthy lifestyle (not to mention I also LOVE my chicken and fries dipped and smothered in the Colonel's gravy) I needed to come up with something that would soothe the craving without sending my cholesterol through the roof.

Somewhere in my blogging travels, I located a spice mix that claimed to be the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs, spices (and MSG) - a recipe I have kept intact except for the MSG because, people, it's 2011.

Do we really need Mono Sodium Glutamate in our lives?

Instead of doing whole pieces of chicken, I lightened it up by breading boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut into strips and served with baked sweet potato fries, creamy coleslaw, and a curried apple dip.


















All in all, a tasty and healthy alternative to a high fat deep fried meal.

Want the recipes?

















Kentucky Un-fried Chicken Strips
Sweet Potato Fries with Curried Apple Dipping Sauce
Fruity, Creamy Coleslaw

Stay tuned tomorrow for some wonderful ideas for "Breakfast on the Go" and watch for another installment of the Cherry Hill saga when Amanda starts "Slimming" - 1940's style - later in the week!

Until then, here's wishing everyone who stops by the blog a happy and healthy week ahead!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Roasted Chicken Breasts stuffed with Quinoa, Feta, and Kalmata Olives

I haven't been around as much the last couple of days as my son is in town for the weekend and he's been keeping us busy. I have, however, managed to keep the health train going and today - weigh day - I am happy to report I lost another pound despite the fact I was away and had to eat restaurant food two days in a row, or that - in a bout of starvation Friday evening - I succumbed to an overwhelming desire for a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Thus bringing my grand total of weight loss to ten pounds in three weeks - ten pounds I plan to never see again!

By eating the recipes I have been providing, subscribing to reasonable portion sizes, drinking loads of water, getting adequate sleep, and exercising at least 30 minutes every day I can't wait to say "sayonara baby" to the next ten pounds because - not to completely wax rhapsodic every day about it, I have just never felt better - and what could be better than that?

Well, maybe today's recipe...

This one's a little more time consuming than my regular weeknight fare, but for shere deliciousness and wow factor, it is certainly worth the effort for a lovely, Mediterranean style weekend dinner.
The chicken is stuffed with a savory blend of quinoa, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and tomatoes, and then drizzled with a pan sauce made with onions and balsamic vinegar.

I served it with an arugula salad and a crisp white wine. Book mark this one friends. It's sensational.

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video:




Roasted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Quinoa, Feta, and Kalamata Olives
For printable recipe click here


Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup quinoa that has been cooked in low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Directions
  1. Combine the quinoa, feta cheese, tomato, garlic, oregano, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
  2. Staring on one end, make a slit in each chicken breast using a sharp pairing knife to create a pocket going from end to end.
  3. Stuff each chicken breast with the quinoa mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Brush each chicken breast with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Bake on the prepared sheet at 350 for 45 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees.
  6. Serve drizzled with onion, balsamic pan sauce.
Onion Balsamic Pan Sauce

Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon butter

    Directions
    1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
    2. Add finely chopped onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken broth, white wine, and balsamic vinegar; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and serve.
Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Healthy, Budget Friendly Steak Wraps

While red meat isn't the mainstay in my kitchen it once was, I still like to include it in our diet because I enjoy variety and ease when it comes to meals - especially on weekdays when life gets so busy.

It seems to me those are the best times to enjoy good food.

But good food can sometimes be expensive, making it more and more challenging to eat healthfully while sticking to a budget.

One of my favourite budget friendly tricks for quick and healthy meals that feature red meat is to purchase sirloin minute steaks.

A family package of these wonderfully thin iron rich steaks can usually be purchased for under $12.00 at your local grocery and today's meal features them in kid and diet friendly wraps.

I say "diet friendly" because on the health front, things couldn't be better. I'm not only noticing a change in the way my clothes fit, my skin looks better and I have a lot more energy. I also marveled this afternoon while out on a jog how quickly the body returns to exercise - I am already able to run - albeit slowly - for 30 minutes straight without stopping, making me realize my goal to once again call myself a "runner" is neither off base or out of reach.

Nothing is.

And today, as the third week of my "return to self" comes to a close, I am relieved to write that I am no where near finished and that I have absolutely no desire to get off this road.

Stay tuned Sunday for "Weigh Day" and later for a recipe I'm developing for chicken breasts stuffed with quinoa, feta, and olives.

Until then, how about a Steak Wrap?



















Healthy, Budget Friendly Steak Wrap
For printable recipe click HERE

















Ingredients
  • 1 pkg Multigrain soft burrito shells
  • 6 minute steaks seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Philly Light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 avocado. diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Place steaks under the broiler and broil until desired doneness (2 minutes per side for medium) Remove steaks from oven and let rest at least ten minutes.
  2. Mix the salsa and cream cheese together and spread an even amount over 6 soft burrito shells
  3. Slice steaks very thinly and place one on each shell
  4. Cover each with an even amount of avocado, tomato, spinach, and cilantro, and wrap.
  5. Serve with veggies and dip



 

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quick and Healthy Creamy Creole Shrimp

Hello everyone,

I hope this blog entry finds you well :-)

From my end this is going to be short and sweet as the last two mornings have been early and my work week has been busy.

Despite that, however, my healthy eating and exercise have prevailed.

Yesterday I faced the challenge of having to eat at a restaurant and, for the first time in my life, I got picky about my order. The lunch special was turkey on a croissant with basil mayonnaise and fries and I had the nerve to order it on whole wheat with dijon and a side salad - dressing on the side.

To my surprise the restaurant didn't kick me out, and the waitress was happy to accommodate my wishes.

Go figure.

The biggest torture was coffee breaks.

I was at a symposium and the people hosting catered in pastries and muffins from a local bakery.

To make it worse, I ate breakfast very early so that by the time the pastries arrived I was STARVING - and the apple and banana I packed as snacks were cold comfort.

I survived it, though, and realized that the good feelings I had at the end of the day as I went for a power walk before dinner, were worth the temporary pain and suffering earlier.

I realized that I like being the kind of person who chooses an apple and herbal tea as a snack because it tells me I value myself.

And I can always use a little more of that :-)

As you can imagine, I was tired and starving by the time I got dinner going.

The meal I put together was perfect because it was so quick and easy.

We loved it, and I hope you will too!

xoxo

Happy Thursday!

Quick and Healthy Creamy Creole Shrimp
For printable recipe click here




















Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb large shrimp or prawns, peeled, tails removed
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper diced
  • 2 stalks diced celery
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp creole spice (I use Emeril's blend)
  • 1 tin stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup low fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 bay leaf
Directions
  1. Saute the onion, celery, green pepper, and jalapeno pepper or medium high heat until onion soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and stir just until you begin to smell it cooking.
  3. Add the shrimp and creole spice, continue to stir until well incorporated.
  4. Add the stewed tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, cilantro, and bay leaf. Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice or riced cauliflower


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Salmon in Sweet Chili Glaze

"Keep it simple stupid" - a mantra people with a tendency to "go big or go home" might want to come back to every now and again.

Not that I know anyone like that ;)

But when you have a cooking blog (or a whatever blog - as this one has certainly morphed itself), the tendency can sometimes lean toward difficult recipes with a gazillion different ingredients - and while these have their place in the world of great cooking, when you arrive home at 5:30 pm on a weeknight, starving after a long day and still have to get a run in before dinner, Beef Bourguinon isn't really your best option.

Connected to that, those who read me regularly know of my commitment to eating heart healthy foods like spinach and salmon at least twice a week - keeping things about as simple as they get.

But how do you embrace simple without making it boring?

If I had to eat some kind of same old oven baked salmon twice a week, it wouldn't be long until it would be off my menu. The same applies for any type of healthy eating - we have to get out of the mindset that tells us healthy doesn't taste as good as, say, fried dough.

While I have always been an advocate of all things fried - particularly bread products - I have come to learn that fresh food cooked lovingly with simple, yet tasty, ingredients can be every bit as crave worthy - like today's featured recipe for Salmon in Sweet Chili Glaze.
















I would like to tell you I came up with this simple, easy and delicious glaze/marinade myself - but if I did, I'd be lying.

The base for this actually came from Epicurious: Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils.

In truth, I almost didn't try this because the pea tendrils - a decidedly not simple ingredient - threw me off.

But then I read the recipe reviews (good practice) and saw that other cooks had made the dish as a stand alone or with spinach to accompany.

So that's what I did.

A really simple recipe that I hope you'll try as you make a commitment to your own good health. I served mine with sauteed spinach and quinoa cooked in low sodium chicken broth and sprinkled with green onion (Deelish!)

Salmon in Sweet Chili Glaze
For printable recipe click here






















Ingredients
  • Non stick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 6-ounce wild salmon fillets with skin
Directions
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk chili sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon ginger in small bowl. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on prepared sheet. Spoon chili sauce marinade over and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat broiler. Spoon any marinade remaining on baking sheet over salmon fillets. Broil salmon without turning until almost opaque in center, 6 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet.
**Make sure to turn your fan on as marinade may smoke a little**



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube




Monday, March 21, 2011

What's for Dinner Monday? Sweet and Sour Spaghetti

I came up with the recipe for tonight's dinner while roaming the grocery store after work last week in a froth of starvation.

And while I know it's never advisable to shop for groceries while hungry - sometimes it's unavoidable.

For some reason I had my Jones on for sweet and sour ground beef with whole wheat pasta - no idea where the craving came from, but at least it was better than chocolate chip pancakes with whipping cream - right?

Right.

Even though my food photography could use a little tweaking, this recipe was very good.

Packed with vegetables, fibre, and a savoury sweet and sour sauce, it is sure to please served over whole wheat spaghetti or rice.

I hope you enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Spaghetti
For printable recipe click here



Ingredients

Sauce
  • 1 398 ml (14 fl oz tin) pineapple chunks
  • 1 tin sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp hot Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 1/8 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Stirfry
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 4 large sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 Tbsp powdered garlic
Directions
  1. Drain pineapple juice into a medium bowl. Reserve pineapple chunks.
  2. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, stir well, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok and stir fry all of the vegetables just until the onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to lose their water. Add the pineapple chunks and water chestnuts to heat through. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. In the same skillet brown the ground beef adding the garlic powder and five spice. When cooked through, add the vegetable/pineapple mixture and the reserved sweet and sour sauce. Sit everything together, bring to the boil, turn down to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes stirring often.
  5. Serve over whole wheat spaghetti noodles cooked to al dente or rice.


Confessions of a Determined Dieter: Lights Camera Action!

Those of you following my weight loss journey have already had a chance to see my inaugural video diary - whereby I channel the spirit of my alter ego Cam from Modern Family.















Forever, my kind of fabulous.

But what you didn't see was the production that went on behind the scenes.

Much like The Making of Oprah, except shot in my kitchen using a digital camera and minimal production staff - aka The Man I Married - there may or may not have been crazed accusations hurled his way regarding the container of cupcakes I found hiding in the deep freeze, or his inability to stay out of my way as I stuffed myself into the white spandex trac suit.

Further to that, even though the video you've seen was the first one taken, it is possible that at least six more were filmed featuring me in a variety of different outfits (each one worse than the last) - and that by the end of the whole production my husband was hiding in our bedroom afraid to come out.

Begging the question yet again: How am I not divorced?

In other news, it's Monday.

I know. Sorry to disappoint you.

And with it, a whole new week to lay some dieting fabulosity down.

I'm gonna need it.

I posted on Facebook yesterday, "You know you're in trouble when the dog food starts to smell good" - and that pretty much sums up the first two weeks.

You start gung ho - and, feeling like a super hero, convince yourself that "this is easy!" - but by the end of the second week you're having dreams about mushrooms in garlic butter sauce.

Talk about food porn!

My husband told me I muttered "Oh yah baby," several times in my sleep.

Don't even get me started on the Peek Frean shortbread cookies that taunted me from the pantry Saturday night.

I'll save that, though, for another blog.

Until then, onward to a healthy and happy week!

***

What's for dinner Monday? Not sure what to cook?

How about a fabulous recipe later today for "Sweet and Sour Spaghetti"

Extra lean ground beef, pineapple, and vegetables simmered in a savoury sweet and sour sauce and served over whole wheat spaghetti or rice make for a tasty and easy weeknight dish.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Best Natural Recipe for Younger, Brighter Skin

One of the reasons I called this blog The Kitchen Witch is because I'm interested in incorporating the lore of the Kitchen Witch into everyday practice.

This is all about embracing the natural, herbal, and organic to create flavours and experiences that are magical.

















Whether that be through cooking, decorating, or taking care of self - a life that embraces the simplicity of the good things mother nature has to provide is one that is well lived.

And today I would like to share a natural skin care treatment I guarantee will change your life - especially if you are someone who has been spending big money on exfoliants as part of your skin care regime.

Let me tell you now, those days are over.

Along with adequate rest, water, and healthy foods, moisturizing the skin, protecting it from the sun, and exfoliating are your top three secrets to a youthful complexion.

And an incredible way to exfoliate is contained in the following Kitchen Witch recipe:

Soft Skin Exfoliant
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Mix the two together in a small dish and gently rub over over face and neck in a circular motion. Remove with soft wet facecloth that has been wet with warm water.

Apply moisturizer. Repeat once a week.

For added youthful glow, rub 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil into skin every morning before applying moisturizer.

You will notice a difference to your skin almost immediately.




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From Flabulosity to Fabulosity! The *Video* Diary of a Determined Dieter - Part One

Well, here I am - taking another one of those risks I talked about earlier in the year.

In order to increase my accountability on this, the last diet I will ever go on, I plan to document the journey via a series of poor quality videos.

Mind you, there's something to be said for grainy - after all, it provides automatic air brushing which can only ever be a good thing.

That being said, this is the first in what is going to be a series of video diary entries chronicling the misadventures of your favourite determined dieter as she makes her way from Flabulosity to Fabulosity!

Our video today begins with our heroine strategically stuffed into a white spandex casing that she will continue to wear as the diaries go on. You, the honoured viewer, are asked to watch for any shrinking from diary to diary and are encouraged at any time to lie and tell me how fabulous I am even on weeks when you don't notice a thing.

People, I don't mind dishonesty if it's flattering, so by all means, bring it on.

In the meantime, be sure to check out my latest healthy recipes and try them for yourself. A big part of sticking with a weight loss plan, I believe, is in having food that tastes good.

(Listen to me, the Deepak Choprah of the diet world )

Anyways...

Sweet and Savoury Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Asian Maple Salmon
Light and Tasty Tortellini en Brodo
Creole Sirloin with Avocado, Bean, and Tomato Salad
Lentil Stew with Maple Turkey Bacon, Apples, and Swiss Chard

And now onto the show.

In which our heroine eerily channels the spirit of Cam from Modern Family



Until next time everyone!

Stay Fabulous :-)

Lentil Stew with Maple Turkey Bacon, Apple, and Swiss Chard

I popped by the grocery store today to pick up organic swiss chard for today's delicious  stew.

















Guilt free eating at its best, the flavours of bacon, maple, and apple, meld perfectly with the sweet heat of  cumin, curry, and Swiss Chard  making this an absolutely wonderful (and comforting) weekend meal.

Lentil Stew with Maple Turkey Bacon, Apple, and Swiss Chard
For printable recipe click here


















Ingredients
  • 5 slices turkey bacon, diced small
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium red potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch organic swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
Directions
  1. Mix the diced turkey bacon together with the maple syrup and dijon mustard.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large non stick dutch oven or soup pot. Add the turkey bacon and chopped onion. Saute until onion begins to get soft and turkey begins to crisp (app. five minutes)
  3. Add the cumin, curry powder, carrots, celery, and potato. Continue to saute another minute stirring constantly.
  4. Add the apple and garlic, continue to stir. Add the lentils. Stir until everything is incorporated.
  5. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then turn to med low. Cover and simmer stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped swiss chard and vinegar. Continue covered at a simmering boil over med low heat 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft and cooked through.
  7. Remove pot from heat and let sit covered for 30 minutes before serving.


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creole Sirloin with Avocado, Tomato, and Bean Salad

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but cooking and eating without all the fat and butter has become fun. I love the challenge of putting together recipes that taste really good and are also healthy to eat.

Recently Chef Rick Bayless (a hero of mine) was asked how he stays so thin and fit when he is constantly surrounded by beautiful food. He replied: No processed foods, modest portions, and he stays active - which, right there, seems to be the holy trinity for a healthy lifestyle.

But it was with him and this philosophy in mind that I came up with today's dish, which is not just healthy and delicious but also quick and easy to prepare - another component to my cooking of late. Especially during the week because my first half hour after work is now spent jogging with the dog making it imperative dinner be quick to prepare when I return.

Those who have been around awhile know how much I love steak, but for a weeknight meal, a huge slab of beef felt like too much; so even though I took a nice sirloin out to defrost, I spent my drive home thinking about how I might prepare it with a healthier twist.

One great way to come up with recipe ideas is to do a running inventory of what's in the pantry, then think about the produce you have and go from there.

















Friday night's dinner of Creole Sirloin and Bean Salad turned out so well it's going into my regular meal rotation - both my husband and I loved this.

Pictured above is my plate. For someone who likes their steak more well done cook 3 or for minutes longer per side.

I hope you enjoy!

Creole Sirloin with Tomato, Bean, and Avocado Salad
For printable recipe click here


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thin cut beef sirloin steaks
  • 1 large ripe avocado, halved, stone removed, peeled, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 540 ml (9 fl oz) tin mixed salad beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste (about 1 tsp each)
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice
Directions
  1. Rub steaks with olive oil and Creole seasoning.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan or grill over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a large plate. Cover with foil to keep the steaks warm.
  3. Combine the avocado, tomato, green onions, cilantro, beans, lemon zest, and juice, in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place a couple large spoonfuls of the bean salad on each plate. Thinly slice the steaks on the grain and place atop the salad. Enjoy!




***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan with Love

What I have come to accept is that "making a difference" is not about changing the circumstances surrounding a tragic event.

Making a difference is simply about saying "I see you, you matter, and I care."


To donate in the US: For Japan with Love

To donate in Canada:

Red Cross
ADRA Canada
Christian World Relief
Doctors without Borders
Unicef Canada
Plan Canada
World Vision Canada

For more information or to participate go to: Utterly Engaged
or Ever Ours

"I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

~Edward Everett Hale


The Dog Whisperer as Diet Guru?

With everything going on in Japan, there is a part of me that feels a little silly writing about food, life, or diet while so many have suffered or are suffering.

But sometimes we need silly.

Especially during times of crisis when the world is forced to sit back and watch helplessly as a country is thrown into devastation.

I want to acknowledge for all of us in other parts of the world that just because we continue to go about our business, doesn't mean we care any less.

For Japan, and let's not forget Haiti, these are times of crisis; I encourage anyone who would like to do something to make a difference but isn't sure how, to check out the following websites.

Many of these are specific to Canada, but it's pretty easy to find their American counterparts by googling.

Red Cross
ADRA Canada
Christian World Relief
Doctors without Borders
Unicef Canada
Plan Canada
World Vision Canada

Think about what you can afford to give, then - in the immortal words of Nike - just do it.

I will too.

***

Getting back to silly...

On the diet front, things are going remarkably well.

As of today I am officially two weeks in with no sign of giving up or giving in.

But I have discovered through this process of journaling that food isn't really the issue with me - like my predecessors on Celebrity Rehab (I told you we were getting back to silly) poor lifestyle choices are merely the band aids I tend to reach for to cope when life becomes stressful or overwhelming.

Further to that, March is always a good month for me.

Do other people experience this, that some months are better than others?

I know I've written about it before, and have awareness of my "seasons" but the rub is that I have yet to conquer them.

Which brings me to silly reality TV reference #2: The Dog Whisperer.

As a dog lover I have become quite enamored of Cesar Milan and his philosophy to "be the pack leader."

But there are many of his teachings that apply to more than just dogs - with another being: don't anticipate stress and hard times before they happen but rather live in the moment.

What Cesar is saying is that just because things have gone a certain way before, doesn't mean they're going to be that way again - especially if we don't give our energy to the anticipation of things going wrong.

Is anyone else having a light bulb moment or is it just me?

I have the power to choose and create my experience - even when life gets hard or takes a downturn, it is my attitude that will dictate how the journey is navigated; and my choices - either positive or negative - will help or hinder as I travel forward.

No matter the road, we have no choice but to move forward.

We do, however, have a choice when it comes to our minds.

Do we let them stay stuck in the past - in the ruts of old experience?

Or do embrace fully - The Present - and trust that it will take us exactly where we need to be going?

And that's the blog!

***

On the menu today:

Blueberry oatmeal
Fruit
Roasted turkey breast with spinach, apple, and mushrooms - lunch
Fruit
Beef and broccoli stir fry - dinner, watch for the recipe...
1 glass red wine

45 minute walk/jog after work

Herbal tea, green tea, water, water, water!

If you missed yesterday's easy and delicious recipe for Tortellini en Brodo, be sure to check it out!



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe while browsing through a Weight Watchers magazine last week and it looked so easy and tasty I ended up going back to the pasta section to buy tortellini.

Truth be told, I didn't have super high expectations, but because most of the other WW recipes I've tried over the years have been good, I decided to give it a try last night.

Talk about easy and tasty!

My husband and I both loved this and agree it will now be a part of our repertoire for busy weeknight dinners.

Give it a go as is. It seems simple but it really doesn't need anything else.

And don't skip the cheese - I garnished with fresh grated asiago, but parm would also be great.

I hope you enjoy...

Tortellini en Brodo
For printable recipe click HERE

Ingredients
  • 1 32 oz carton low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (2 1/2 inch strips lemon zest)
  • 1 9 oz package refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp grate parmesan or asiago cheese
  • 1 Tbsp minced parsley
Directions
  1. Bring broth and lemon zest to boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Stir in tortellini, cover, and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in peas and pepper; simmer uncovered until tortellini is tender and peas are heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Discard lemon zest. Serve sprinkled with cheese and parsley.
per serving (about 1 cup): 205 cal, 7 G total fat, points plus value: 5



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube



Diary of a Determined Dieter - It's Just the Addiction Talking

Let me start by saying, I love you guys!

Who knew a slightly crankish morning post about the politics of dieting could spur such love and support?

But it did.

Not only did I receive a whole bunch of much appreciated emails - including one particularly heartfelt note from my mother - your comments left here and on my Facebook account have been incredible.

And I had to smile - one of my Facebook friends took the time to send me the recipe for a bliss inducing bath - sensing rightfully that a little bliss was needed.

Stat!

It looks so great I decided to share:

Bliss Inducing Bath
For printable recipe click here





















Ingredients
  • 4 cups glycerin liquid soap
  • 4 to 6 drops of mint oil extract
  • 4oz dry chamomile flowers
  • 6 to eight drops Valerian root extract
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  1. Heat your glycerin and grape seed oil on low heat until just short of simmering. Drop your Chamomile flowers into the mixture and allow them to soak until the whole thing cools to room temperature. Strain through cheese clothe into decorative bottle (Personally, I leave a few flowers in the bottle because the longer they soak, the stronger the effect of the potion). Add the drops of the Valerian and mint. shake until throughly incorporated.
  2. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons (2 liberal squirts) into a very hot bath. The longer you soak, the more relaxing the effect.

***
After watching every single episode of Celebrity Rehab - twice - I have been made aware that my mind works in much the same way as people who struggle with addiction.

And Dr. Drew said something last season that stuck with me.

This in regard to negative or destructive thinking like:

"This is terrible"
"My quality of life is being robbed"

or
"One more (insert cookie of choice) won't hurt anything"

Like the devil himself, according to Dr. Drew, this is your addiction talking and not a reflection of what you truly want or need.


If you can find a way to ride out the storm, your own voice of reason will eventually kick back in.

I mentioned this yesterday to a friend who is in recovery, telling him about the the tug of war that goes on within me and he validated that this is exactly what happens in active recovery.


He also told me we should never suffer those kinds of thoughts and feelings alone - but rather try to immediately talk with someone who can help bring our thoughts out of addiction and back to reality.

In some ways, this is what happened yesterday.

I believe I referred to my diet efforts as the second level of Dantes hell and accused the world of judgmental pandering while lamenting the futility of it all.

But that simple act of typing the words to a group of people who I know are listening and cheering me on, actually made me feel better.

In other words, I was able to let it go and the rest of the day was fabulous.

I enjoyed a productive day at work, went for a "world's slowest jogger" walk/run with the dog and noticed that I am already able to run a little longer and a little farther each time.

Then I came home and made the easiest, most delightful, and satisfying Weight Watchers recipe for Tortillini en Brodo that dieters and non-dieters alike are going to thank me for - watch for the recipe this afternoon.

In the meantime, I am off now to make a breakfast burrito with fresh Omega 3 eggs, turkey bacon, green pepper, green onion, cilantro, and salsa verde while the non- addicted part of my brain screams: "This is the way to live!"

***

Stay tuned tomorrow to see which side of my brain will be in charge...

Until then, here's to everyone's good health and have a truly Fabulous Wednesday - tonight's guilty pleasures: American Idol and Survivor!!


xoxoxo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Diary of a Determined Dieter - The Frustrations and Challenges

I was once in a restaurant where a pleasant looking overweight woman was having lunch.

Although her food choices were certainly none of my business, my dining companion took issue that she was having gravy on her french fries and spoke of her as though she were some kind of criminal - something I'm sure wouldn't have happened had she been thin.

But this is nothing new.

From an early age we are taught to believe that being fat is bad. Something shameful, and hideous - an affliction of the weak minded, instead of a very real combination of genetics, and lifestyle that have placed some of us in the unhappy position of waging life long battles with the very bodies that house our souls.

We are told it is essential to love ourselves - that to be successful in this society it must start from within, yet in the next breath and in every way possible, we, the overweight, are reminded of our flaw so that no matter what we do, or who we become, we are always lacking.

Whether other people see us as lacking or not isn't the issue. Unless we've been living under a rock, our poor battered psyches have been bridging defenses against media messaging, judgmental strangers, and even well meaning friends - there to remind us with every diet tip or suggestion that we're not good enough as we are.

Quite frankly, the only reason most of us go on diets is to gain acceptance.

To be seen as people who are strong, confident, and attractive in the same way as people who are "nice and thin."

And there's the next rub.

The journey to achieving permanent weight loss is like being in Dante's second level of hell - uncomfortable, guilt provoking, and seemingly endless.

You change everything in your life, go to bed most nights hungry, and force yourself to workout in the hopes that one day you will actually learn to enjoy it - all for changes on the scale that, miniscule at best, never seem to equal the amount of hard work, guilt, and suffering you have put in.

I have said this before: If losing weight was easy, Oprah Winfrey would be thin.

So why am I doing this?

For all of the reasons I mentioned above.

When I went to the Recipe to Riches audition in Vancouver, for the first time in my life while standing amongst the competitors, I felt invisible.

A dichotomy really - being the heaviest person in a group yet feeling the least visible.

I am fortunate, however, to have a personality and presence that was able to rise above and breakthrough - but no matter how fabulous a person is, as long as that little voice inside continues to remind us of our fatal flaw, we will only get so far.

And I am sick of it.

That's why I'm doing this.

Because I know I'm not going to beat em - our cultural perception of what it is to be overweight isn't going anywhere anytime soon - I'm fed up enough to join em.

Or die trying,

With today marking five days with absolutely no weight loss since my initial six pounds, you can imagine how frustrating it feels.

I know a 1 -2 pound gradual weight loss is a good thing.
I know that some weeks I won't lose anything.

But that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

And so I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again...

***

Update, I was little cranky this morning when I posted this. Made the mistake of weighing myself daily which is a recipe for frustration - but to the good, a pair of pants I haven't been able to get on in over a year fit.

Towanda and Happy Tuesday!

xoxoxo

What's for dinner?

How about an easy and healthy recipe for Maple Salmon?




Monday, March 14, 2011

The Diary of a Determined Dieter - Week One

I started this thing on a Friday - which was completely on purpose as every single other "diet" I have ever been on started on a Monday.

Dieters know the drill.

Eat like crazy over the weekend while planning the eventual blitz of healthy eating and exercise to begin first thing Monday morning.

The excitement!

The anticipation!

The clearing the cupboards of all things "junk" because this time we know we're going to do finally do it.

We're going to lose those extra layers of subcutaneous fat we've been lugging around and make Dr. Oz happy.

We're going to invest in running shoes, and hand weights - newly committed to an exercise plan that will have us up and working out by 6 am!

In short, this time around we're going to be fabulous and will keep this thing going until...

And right there, the rub.

I have learned that any kind of dieting strategy that contains the world "until" is pretty much doomed from the start because "until" is conditional and impermanent and in order for any kind of lasting change to occur, this "new way of life that began on Friday" has to be just that.

Each change I make has to be a permanent change - not an "until" one.

Which in the broadest sense, and at only a week and a half in, is daunting because at heart, a change in lifestyle requires a re-programming of all the old tapes.

Even if they're bumpy and not particularly easy to navigate, the ruts, and grooves in the road of a long worn path are not easy to get out of - and even if the new road feels smoother and, yes, even better at times, there is comfort in the familiar and feelings of comfort can be difficult to fight.

Especially when the roads surrounding us become stressful or overwhelming.

I, better than anyone, understand the power of self medicating with pie crust; of staying up too late, or adding extra butter to the mashed potatoes because it's raining outside and the world is closing in - I understand.

When I want to turn left, I must turn right... when the old tapes begin to play and I want to give up and get back on the old road, I must talk myself out if it - believing that if I stick with this for the long run, the day will come when I automatically turn right and will have left those old roads behind for good.

At a week and a half in, I sound so brave and sure.

Talk to me in a month when my body is tired and the voices in my head are screaming for custard filled restitution.

Until then, and yes - I guess there is always an until - I have lost six pounds.

Towanda!

And that's the blog.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Delicious Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Today was a great Saturday.

I woke up at 7:00 am to the smells of fresh coffee brewing.

Yesterday we treated ourselves to a bag of coffee beans from Saltspring Island and they were well worth the little bit of extra money they cost.

That's the thing I've discovered about food - some things are just worth paying a little more for.

***

After a bowl of delicious cinnamon blueberry oatmeal, two cups of coffee, and some time spent reading the paper, we put on our hiking clothes and took the dog for a 7 km up and downhill hike.

Determined to stay in the moment, I noticed everything: moss on trees, the stillness of the water, and that feeling telling us the long days of winter hibernation are coming to a close.

This is why I love March.

It is both an ending and a beginning.

***

After our walk, we drove downtown, situated the dog in his car crate with a bone and some water, and took ourselves to the library.

I don't know about you - but I love libraries - always have. It's like a whole world of possibility opens every time I walk through the door and I'm free to roam the stacks, browsing for titles, ideas, and inspiration.

I came away with two fabulous cookbooks - one that is so good I'm tempted to take it to work and photocopy the whole thing, and the other, a book from Weight Watchers filled with the most amazing salads, soups, and appetizers.

And then I found a real treasure. Alexandra Stoddard, author of Living a Beautiful Life has written a new book: Time Alive, Celebrate Your Life Everyday.

As a lover of her all her books because they celebrate home, family, beauty, and living well, I can't wait to get up early tomorrow morning to dive right in.

In the meantime, I'm excited to share my recipe with you for Delicious Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps.





















I have had lettuce wraps many times before, but have to say, this little concoction of mine is so absolutely delicious, you just have to try them - I know I will make a convert out of you :-)

Delicious Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps
For printable recipe click here






















Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 16 iceberg or butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • PAM cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin or honey hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian chile garlic sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 2-4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
Directions
  1. Prepare the lettuce by cutting out its core (this will make removing the leaves easier. Now gently pull apart the leaves, starting with the leaf-end rather than the core-end. Pile the leaves back together on a serving plate or store in a ziplock bag in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. Spray a non-stick skillet with PAM and bring to medium high heat, brown the ground turkey stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chile sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile garlic sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked turkey; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  4. Arrange lettuce leaves on a large plate. Serve warm meat mixture in a dish or bowl next to it. Invite each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube