I’ve Been Cooking Up a Storm This Week, Who Am I?

Truth be told I usually cook the first 3 days of the week and re-purpose my foods into new meals two other days.  This week I’ve been on a cooking and baking kick.  You would think fall has arrived!  I’ve made ratatouille, grilled fish with bok choy & brown rice, cauliflower crust pizza (yes, that’s right – cauliflower in the crust), grilled chicken, pesto, steak and roasted potatoes, and Chocolate Girl Scout Cookie Truffles.

Today I baked chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.  There’s no big ta da for dinner tonight though.  I’m going simple with chicken burgers, roasted sweet potatoes and chard.  All of it will be cooked on the grill, including the chard.  The a/c worked hard enough while I baked!

Most of the cooking was done in two days with light prep and finishing touches on the other nights.  I’m a big believer in cook once, eat at least twice.  I do not feel the need to stand in front of the stove for every meal every day if I can help it.  If I’m chopping zucchini and eggplant for ratatouille I’m going to chop enough to have it for a few meals.  It was a side dish two nights and the topping for the cauliflower pizza crust another night.  The trick is spacing it out and re-purposing them so you don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing over and over. It can as simple as adding the pesto into the ratatouille to change up the taste or using left over chicken for chicken soup another night.

The cauliflower pizza crust is not a recipe I can claim as my own.  There are a bunch of versions of it on the internet and I picked the one that went a little easier on the cheese.  It’s simple and it tastes good when topped with whatever you’re in the mood to put on your pizza.  For me it was ratatouille, pesto, mushrooms, turkey bacon and a little more shredded cheese.  It’s not really something you can pick up and eat with your hands but it is satisfying.  The picture above is a double recipe, but I still only used one egg.  It stayed together just fine.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
1 cup riced cauliflower
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 tsp Italian herbs

To rice the cauliflower pulse 1/2 a small head of roughly chopped cauliflower in the food processor.  It should resemble rice pellets.  Put into a bowl and add the egg, cheese & seasoning; mix well and spread out on to a baking sheet to form a crust.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake another few minutes until they’re warmed.

If you don’t have a food processor, steam the cauliflower a few minutes to soften.  Use a grater to grate the cauliflower into little pieces.  Let cool and then add in the rest of the ingredients, mix together, and bake.

Need help in creating healthy meals for your busy week?  Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and together we can set up a plan that works for you.  You can also visit my website:  http://empowerdplate.com.

Kind of Bummed so I Made Truffles

I’m kind of bummed and not be these very yummy truffles.  Two of my favorite sites have closed.  One has “reinvented itself” and I’m not sure I really like the new format.  The other sent out it’s daily email as usual and then this afternoon sent a goodbye email.  No warning, just thanks but we’re closing the doors here.  Weird to not even make it to the end of the month.

I know it’s hard to keep things going.  Getting new ideas and keeping things fresh on a daily basis is sometimes trying.  I just can’t help but think there’s still more that can be explored and more stories to tell. Truth be told, the site that folded is one I get some of the ideas I share on Facebook and Pinterest.  I will still have healthy bits to share but I’ll have to broaden my scope of where I find them.  That’s a good thing for me and who ever reads these items.

One of my recent findings is Chocolate Covered Katie, a vegan healthy dessert blog.  I’ve made several things and the chocoholic that I’m married to has no clue the treats are vegan until I tell him.  The chocolate chip muffins with garbanzo beans were a hit (no taste of bean at all), as were the Fudge Daddy silken tofu brownies.  Honestly, I could have eaten the pan myself.  Have I piqued your interest?  I tinkered with her Girl Scout Cookie Truffle and the recipe is below.

Chocolate Girl Scout Cookie Truffle
Recipe based on Girl Scout Cookie Truffle by Chocolate Covered Katie
http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

1/2 c pitted dates (packed)
2 Tbs unsweetened coconut shreds
1 Tbs raw cacao or unsweetened coco powder
1 Tbs coconut milk or 2 tsp coconut oil
1 Tbs chocolate chips
1 dash vanilla
1 pinch of salt

Put the items into the food processor and blend until mostly smooth.  Roll into balls and you can garnish with a few extra chocolate chips.  I made 8 small truffles.

Do you want to live a more energetic & vibrant life?  Then send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com and we together we will create a plan that works just for you.

Doesn’t Look Like a Last Minute Meal

I was tossed on a few ideas for dinner the other night but none of them sounded like what I wanted to eat.  We had chicken a few times, I didn’t want fish and dinner had to be a fairly quick affair because my husband was running out to teach a guitar lesson.  Which also meant he was not going to have time to grill a steak.  By the time he called me to tell me he was leaving work and on his way home I still had no real clear plan on what to make.

And then I saw a recipe for chickpeas and broccoli with onions over pasta.  It sounded good but I didn’t want pasta.  Then I thought about what I did have and the fact that I had about 30 minutes to get everything together and on the table.  So out came the small pink eggplant, the onion, the tomatoes, and the broccoli.  All sauteed together in some olive oil and garlic and  topped with fava beans.  I love fava beans because they’re firm and meaty.  And, yes, they go nicely with a glass of Chianti.  (for all of you Silence of the Lamb fans).   I would use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  You could also add some broth or tomato paste if you would like to put this over pasta.

Ingredients:
1 small head of broccoli, chopped (trim the stems & slice them into coin size pieces and use them as well)
1 small eggplant, chopped into 1 – 2 inch cubes
1 small onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1 can of organic fava beans, rinsed & drained
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large garlic clove, smashed
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add broccoli stems and saute for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the broccoli and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the eggplant, tomatoes and fava beans, sauteing until cooked through, about 5 – 7 minutes.

I served this over amaranth grains but you can use wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa instead.  I put some feta cheese on my dish and my husband put some Parmesan on his.  This is a great choice for Meatless Monday or any night when you just need a quick dish.  It’s hearty enough not to miss the meat.  We also had the leftovers as a side dish a few nights later, it was still tasty.

Need ideas for meal planning?  Send me an email at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.

Constant Cravings

I’m an emotional eater and when something bothers me my instinct is to reach for something sweet.  I know this and I have tools for dealing with the cravings rather than eating.  Still, there are days like today when I find myself walking over to where the biscotti are taking a deep breath and having some water only to find myself holding the container of ice cream and a spoon.  More deep breaths and thinking about what I want, am I hungry and what the hell is bugging me?

So no, I’m not hungry but I’m having an intense chocolate craving.  Yes, there are some things on my mind and a call just triggered them into a bit of overdrive.  So I decide to visit the thoughts and see what’s going on there.  The feelings might be intense but they won’t kill me.  I most likely will not solve the problems right now but I can change how I respond to them.  I cannot change other people or their behaviors, I can only change my own.  Starting with putting the spoon back in the drawer and the ice cream back in the freezer.  Sometimes I put it in the downstairs freezer so temptation is that much further away.

If nothing was bothering me and I wasn’t hungry I might have a little chocolate. Since I really prefer to have a treat at night I come up with an alternative to something sugary.  It’s always good to have a few go to items that help with a craving.  I’ll make a smoothie from spinach, banana, almond milk and raw cacao powder; a plain yogurt sprinkled with cacao nibs and some honey; a frozen coffee drink (blending coffee, unsweetened cocoa, almond milk and ice); or I’ll take a frozen banana and put it in the food processor with cacao powder to make a coco-banana “ice cream”.  (you can use unsweetened cocoa instead of raw cacao if that’s what you have on hand).

There are other tips and tools to use if you are experiencing emotional eating.  You are not alone in this and it can be solved. If you want further information please send me an email at  janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.  

Tired of Figuring Out What To Eat?

I’ve had a few people tell me recently that they were just tired of figuring out what to eat.  What was healthy and what hasn’t, who had the best diet and what they did not want to give up.  It’s tough, I know.  There was a segment this morning on Good Morning America with three people featured in People Magazine.  All three had lost 100 pounds or more and none of them did it exactly the same way.  What they all had in common was they changed their eating habits and exercised.  All looked fabulous and no one was rich or famous.

But what diet do I follow?  Well, it depends on if you have allergies or not and what feels good to you.  Do you like eating raw foods or mostly vegetables?  Do you like grains or prefer protein?  What gives you the most energy?  You learn this over the course of a few weeks, of adding in new foods and writing down what you ate, what your mood was and how you felt later on in the day.  I feel my best eating steel cut oatmeal with nuts and fruit, having smoothies with vegetables and fruit or, if I’m running, sprouted bread with almond butter and banana.  (peanut butter gives me agita when I run).

Do you notice what all of those breakfasts had in common?  All consisted of whole foods.  Nothing was overly processed or came in a box.  I could identify all of the ingredients and my great-grandmother would recognize them as food too.  No added sugars, no weird ingredients and real foods – not food like substances masquerading as food.

Buying foods in season will keep costs down and frozen vegetables and fruits are always an alternative when fresh are not available.   Bulk bins are a great way to buy grains, nuts and seed while also keeping costs down.  I get very large bag of oatmeal at the bulk bin for less than $2.  There is a great website called 100 days of real food that can also give you some great tips.

As always, I am happy to support you on your healthy journey.  Send me an email,  janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, at or visit my website, http://empoweredplate.com, if you would like a complimentary consultation.  

What Is In My Ice Cream?

Yes, I eat ice cream and, yes, I have a sweet tooth.  I believe the occasional treat keeps me happy and prevents all out binges.

A friend and I were talking snacks recently and she said she only eats real ice cream.  I mentioned that I liked a churned variety that was lighter in calories.  She asked if I read the label and I had to admit I didn’t.

It wasn’t a particularly long ingredient list, sugars weren’t off the charts and the calories were low.  However, the second ingredient was sugar and the third was corn syrup.  Not high fructose corn syrup but, still, why two sugars?  Because when you take away the fat you need to add more sugar, which I’m sure you know by now.  I do too but I was hung up on the calorie count.  So I decided to read the various ice cream labels, since my husband was off looking for something else.  He has patience but I only like to push it when I really need or, let’s be honest, want to.

So, most of the ice creams have a list of really long ingredients, with a lot of odd or undesirable ones.  And Breyers, who I always thought of as the natural ice cream, now has cartons labeled ice cream and others labeled frozen dairy dessert.  Um, what the heck?  It turns out that frozen dairy dessert has a lot of ingredients that I don’t want to ingest.

Breyers ice cream, on the other hand, had a short list of ingredients and the only one I wasn’t sure of was tara gum.  Tara gum is a thickening agent that, from what I’ve read, is not linked to anything funky the way carrageenan is.  The Breyers chocolate clocks in at 140 calories, 7g of fat and 16g of sugar, which is respectable for a treat.  Most importantly, it tastes rich and chocolatey.

Yes there are other ice creams and non-dairy treats that have a decent ingredient list too.  I like So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate as well as a few other brands.  Read your labels and let your taste buds help you out.

What is your favorite brand and are you comfortable with the listed ingredients?

Need help figuring out labels?  Send me an email at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.

Pizza with Shrimp, Arugula and Roasted Tomatoes

This was one of my favorite dishes at a restaurant we used to go to.  I haven’t seen it on any menus in a while and I’ve been craving it.  It was very filling with the shrimp and tomatoes.  I served a salad and some roasted Parmesan fennel as an appetizer.

I spread pesto, the same recipe I blogged on last week, on as the base but you can use tomato sauce or brush the crust with garlic olive oil.  I’m a big advocate for using what you have on hand.  I used a pre-made wheat pizza crust.  You can use your favorite pizza dough for this and if you make a wheat crust from scratch share the recipe please!

1 pre-made pizza crust
Pesto to cover the crust
1 large tomato, roasted (recipe follows below)
1/3 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2  bunch of arugula, washed and spun dry
feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the pesto on top of the pizza crust.  Put on your shrimp, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese.  Bake according to dough directions.  Put the arugula on top to wilt.  
Roasted Tomatoes
2 – 3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into large wedges and squeeze gently to remove seeds*
Olive oil, 1 TBS or mist with olive oil sprayer
3 – 4 garlic cloves
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 450
put tomatoes on a jelly roll pan or in a large shallow pan
Drizzle the olive oil over them
Add in the garlic cloves randomly
Season with salt
Roast tomatoes for 35 minutes – should start to turn brown but not black.  You can keep them in the fridge for a few days or freeze them for up to 6 months.
* You can use cherry tomatoes for this but don’t remove the seeds

If you are interested in learning more about seasonal cooking send me an email at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com,

Do You Have Olympic Fever?

I’ve been asked by a few people if I’ve been watching the Olympics and even my nine year old godson is quite taken with the games.  He’s smitten with Gabby Douglas and wanted Ryan Lockte to beat out Michael Phelps for the gold.

In truth I have watched some of the games.  I get nervous for the gymnasts and it doesn’t matter what country they’re from.  I get the same way with the skaters in the winter games, I’m really not sure why.  The other sports I can watch much more calmly.  I guess they just bring up more emotion for me or maybe I can relate to the disappointment of a teenage girl more readily than that of an adult.

And the games inspire me.  I’m in awe of what they do and what they sacrifice in order to make their dreams happen.  Just to be picked to be on the Olympic team is amazing and far more than what most of us accomplish.  I certainly can’t imagine being at swim practice at 5:30 am every morning before school or work, can you?  And then more practice later in the day?  It kind of boggles my mind.

And while I don’t expect to be an Olympic runner, gymnast or skater, I let them motivate me during my workouts and runs.  I figure I can give up an hour or so and live with some soreness as I push myself just a little bit further than I have.  Maybe I can try the next difficulty of a workout, add some weights to my squats, or add a little mileage onto my weekly runs.  Again, not going crazy but pushing things up one notch.

So what do the games inspire you to do?  How can you let yourself answer the challenge of your next level?

And, send me an email if you need help in planning workouts or figuring out what to eat to support your lifestyle.  I can be reached via my website, http://empoweredplate.com/, or at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.