Easy Indian cooking…Yay for Chhole!

5 Aug

This dinner is one of my FAVORITES to make mainly because it’s super easy to make, low cost, healthy, and can be made in under 30 minutes!  It’s the perfect weeknight meal and is a great vegetarian dish.  Punjabi Chhole is an Indian dish made of chickpeas and spices. The spice packet can be made by combining spices you may already have but because I’ve yet to master the perfect blend, I purchase the Punjabi Chhole spice packet for $4 at fresh market.

Punjabi Chhole

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas
  • 1 15.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 packet Punjabi Chhole spice packet (Arora Creations)
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium high heat
  2. Add onion and fresh ginger until translucent (about 2 minutes)
  3. Add chickpeas and tomatoes and cook until chickpeas are cooked through (about 5+ minutes)
  4. Add spice packet, tomato sauce, and water and stir to combine
  5. Turn heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes
  6. Garnish with cilantro

Serve with brown rice, naan, or whole wheat pitas. Serves 6.

New fun running accessory

2 Aug

Since I’ve been running with my iPhone (which doubles as an iPod), I thought it might be time to find a better way to take it along with me while running.  I had been holding it in my hand and since I live in Florida and it’s hot outside, my hands would quickly become sweaty and I could feel the phone slipping.  This always made me nervous. I kept having visions of dropping the phone and the screen shattering into a million pieces.  I finally took some initiative, went online and found an awesome solution.

I purchased an arm band.  Sounds simple, but this one is great!  This arm band comes with a clip, a case, a screen protector, and a wipe cloth for your screen–all for $21.70 plus shipping!  The Marware SportShell Convertible Arm Ban ford iPhone 3G/3Gs works well because I have the arms of Olive Oyl (think Popeye) and usually have a pretty tough time using arm bands comfortably (especially while running).  This arm band stays on tight during my runs and doesn’t slip.  The clip is used to insert the phone into the arm band and is removable, but I tend to just leave it on so I can easily slip it into the armband without too much fuss (and you could also use it to clip on to a waist band) .

Marware SportShell Convertible Arm Band for iPhone 3G/3Gs

How does your garden grow?

28 Jul

A couple of months ago, I finally got sick of spending money on herbs at the grocery store and decided to have a go a growing my own.  With very little effort, my herb garden has become quite the success.  I originally purchased these plants for $2 each at Lowes and since then I can’t imagine how much money I have saved.  Also, having fresh herbs around really allows me to whip up great dinners with what I have on hand.  Thus far, I have planted basil, rosemary, Greek oregano, parsley, cilantro and mint.  I would eventually like to add sage and chives.

Are you growing herbs? Which ones are your favorite/do you use the most?

Life After Soda

27 Jul

We’ve all heard time and time again, “Soda is bad for you. Don’t drink it.”  I always assumed this sentiment was only true about regular soda.  It’s loaded with sugar (and calories), and this is obviously not good for you.  Up until recently, I’d been drinking an average of one diet soda per day and not thinking too much of it.  I discovered that soda, even DIET soda, isn’t really good for you at all.  For one, a skinny girl HATES to be bloated.  It turns out that the carbonation in the soda can cause bloating and other gastrointestinal issues.  Also, soda can contribute to dehydration, heartburn, and increased blood pressure.  Another issue with soda, specifically diet soda, is the aspartame.  Even though it’s technically safe, there is a huge list of health issues attributed to aspartame. Since I started reading up on soda, I’ve been trying to stay away from it.  I’ve gone a couple weeks with only a soda here or there and it’s no longer part of my daily routine.

I’ve since switched my daily soda for water (since I wasn’t drinking nearly enough).  I think this change alone has made a great difference in my skin, bloating issues, and overall hydration. Let me be clear, I don’t think soda is evil and will still have a sip from time to time. I’m just a lot more aware of some of the potential consequences of drinking soda (especially on a daily basis).

Are you a soda drinker or anti-soda?  Do you ever think about the effects of soda?

Fast & Furious Guacamole

26 Jul

It’s movie night at our house and that means snacks.  I’ll admit I can be a true couch potato so I try to chose healthy snacks.  This “fast and furious” guacamole is simple, super tasty, and healthy!

Fast & Furious Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 1 60z. container plain non-fat Greek yogurt (I like FAGE)
  • 1 large or 2 medium ripe avocados (I’ve used both hass and Florida)
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. dash table blend

Directions

  1. Drop ingredients into a large bowl
  2. Using a fork, mash/blend/mix to combine
  3. Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash (or other salt seasoning) to taste

Tip: Celery and carrot sticks work as a great alternative to chips with this guacamole.

I heart Blueberry Pancakes

21 Jul

My husband has a bit of a food crush on “food mob.”  I’m not sure how exactly he stumbled upon Chef Niall Harbison but I’m sure glad he did.  One of the recipes he’s easily mastered are the pancakes.  For quite a while, I was into the idea of creating great whole wheat, flax, super healthy pancakes.  While I still enjoy healthified pancakes,every now and then I long for simple, original pancakes.  These are amazing!  The blueberries provide a wonderful surprise sweetness.  The original recipe calls for white chocolate chips.  I think they make the recipe a little too sweet (since syrup is a requirement of my pancakes) and would only add them as an extra special treat for a sweets lover.

Apparently, I’ve also been informed that the pancake base (minus blueberries) can be used as a crepe  batter.  I’m always into a BOGO deal!

Blueberry Pancakes

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs (Egg Substitute)
  • 1/2 cup skim organic milk (may need to add more to achieve desired consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, eggs, and milk.
  2. Whisk until smooth/creamy consistency is achieved (think cake batter)
  3. Add baking powder and combine
  4. Lightly coat large frying pan with nonstick spray
  5. Using a ladle, fill ladle half full to make silver dollar sized pancakes (or bigger if you wish!)
  6. Ladle mix onto pan over medium heat
  7. Let pancakes begin to cook, 1 minute or so, then add blueberries on top
  8. Once edges begin to crisp and batter starts to show bubbles, flip pancake
  9. Cook until lightly golden

Tip: The most difficult part of pancake making is figuring out the right consistency.  Not every time will be the same.  It becomes an art. Sometimes, the batter may be too runny, in which case, adding more flour will fix the issue.  Other times, its too thick, which means adding more milk to fix.  Don’t get discouraged!  It may take a couple of attempts to achieve the perfect blueberry pancake.

Check out the chef’s videos at http://revision3.com/foodmob. I love his no BS attitude toward food (and the slight bits of cursing will catch you off guard)!

The Secret To My (Summer) Success: Iced Skinny Starbucks drinks on the cheap

20 Jul

I’m a bit of a Starbucks junkie.  Not such a great thing for the wallet (or the belly).  I decided long ago that if my Starbucks addiction was to continue, then I would need to figure out how to build my own lower-fat drinks that didn’t cost $5 a pop.  Since it’s summer and my drink list is forever evolving, I’ll share some of my current iced drink favorites.

Iced Coffee, Nonfat milk, shot of Toffee Nut syrup, and a Splenda

I wont take all the credit for this coffee drink. My sister is in her second year of college and sometimes her college budget inspires creativity. This drink has become one of my favorites. I would consider the Toffee Nut syrup a small splurge (being that it isn’t sugar free) but it really makes this drink something special.  If you are looking to be extra “good,” switch out toffee nut for sugar free vanilla or caramel.  Also, sometimes the coffee comes out too dark for my taste.  If this is the case, head over to the do-it-yourself bar and add in some more skim milk, 2%, or creamer.  This is truly a poor man’s latte!

Nonfat Iced Tazo Chai Latte

I love the Iced Chai for its spicy, yet refreshing flavor.  How do they concoct this magic?  The last time I ordered this drink, I became extra nosy so I could find out how they make it.  Apparently the Chai flavoring comes from a concentrated syrup.  Being the stickler I am for knowing exactly what I’m putting in my mouth, I headed over to the Starbucks website to verify I wasn’t inhaling a million calories.  I wasn’t (thank goodness).  In fact, a tall Iced Chai Latte contains 150 calories and 0 grams of fat.  Not too bad!

What are some of your favorite caffeinated summer iced drinks (Starbucks or otherwise)?

Tip: I was in a Starbucks today and sampled the new Starbucks Iced Via Ready Brew. I was REALLY  surprised how great it was!  If you don’t have time (or extra cash) to stop into Starbucks daily but still need your fix, I think this might be your answer.  Simply pour the packets into cold water, shake, fix to your liking and enjoy! Be your own Barista :)

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