Week 19 – Diet Foods

Happy New Year, everybody!!

It’s that time of year, resolution time. Time to resolve to do things differently in 2016 – to follow through for the next 12 months.  To promise yourself you’ll go to the gym everyday, you’ll cook more, volunteer more, focus on positive things in life.  Resolutions are full of positivity, optimism, and hope that the coming year can be even better than the year before.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably break (or at least adjust) those resolutions within the month.  But every year, I make some more.  And every year I hope to follow through.  Sometimes they’re successful, sometimes they evolve into something else. I do genuinely try to stick with them through out the year.  This year I’ve made a few – some general things that I just want to keep in the back of my mind as the months progress.

To start things off on a positive (and resolution-focused) note – we picked Diet Foods for the first week of the year.  Which is related to something on most people’s resolution lists – it’s on mine.

Diet foods is quite broad – I think it can mean healthy foods, or foods that you eat if you’re on a specific diet (like Atkin’s) or a restricted diet (like Vegetarian).

I turned to my favorite ‘Diet Food’ blogger – Skinny Taste’s Gina Homolka.

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Do you guys know SkinnyTaste?  Do you love her as much as I do?  I’ve talked about her before, I’m sure.

She does an awesome thing – she creates really delicious, easy-to-follow recipes that happen to be health conscious.  She focuses a lot of her recipes on finding ways to remove the unhealthy stuff, without sacrificing the yummy factor.  The cookbook is awesome too. She includes the nutrition facts (and Weight Watchers Points) for all her recipes.

I picked quinoa stuffed red peppers.  Which is healthy and vegetarian.

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Isn’t my little garlic storage container adorable?

The recipe called for crushed tomatoes, which come in large cans. I wasn’t going to use the whole thing, and I’m very limited on freezer space. Rather than waste it, I used the petite diced tomatoes and did some crushing of my own.

I also skipped the fresh basil and opted for dry basil leaves.  I did buy fresh basil, but I accidentally bought  regular ‘basil’ instead of ‘Sweet’ or ‘Italian Basil.’  I discovered this midway through my chopping as it began to smell like black licorice or anise.  Gross. So I had to use dry basil leaves that I had on hand instead.

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I rinsed my quinoa – as Lisa taught us.

I’ve never made quinoa before.  I’ve been nervous about preparing it correctly.  I’ve also see seen various discussions about the negative environmental and economic impact that the rising popularity of quinoa has had on the places and people that grow quinoa, and rely on it as staple of their diet.  That being said, I did zero research for this post – so I’m not going to dive into the sociopolitical ramifications of eating quinoa.  But if you’re curious – do some googling.  All I know is that it seems complex.

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I made my vegetable stock – using Better Than Bouillon which is amazing. Seriously, if you’re limited on space, but don’t love Bouillon cubes or spending money on cartons of stock, it’s a great alternative.

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I boiled my quinoa in my vegetable stock.  While that simmered I chopped up my garlic, spinach, and crushed those tomatoes.

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I fluffed the quinoa with a fork and let it sit.  While that sat I roasted the garlic and added the tomatoes and other vegetables to cook for a bit.

Then the quinoa and cheese was added to the tomato mixture.  The recipe called for pecorino romano – but I had parmesan on hand.  Both are a saltier cheese to balance the mozzarella, and I thought the substitution was fine.

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Then evenly distribute the quinoa into your de-seeded, halved red peppers with some more tomatoes and cheese on top.  The recipe also called for a bit more stock in the bottom of the baking dish.  Into the oven for 50 minutes at 350.

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Finished product.  One pepper-half was plenty, they were very filling (so I’ve got leftovers!)

Things I learned

  • The peppers were a little undercooked and tough to eat.  I might consider grilling them a bit before I bake them.
  • I like, but don’t love, quinoa.  I’m glad I tried making it on my own, it was much easier than I expected – I’ll probably make it again, but not regularly.

I hope everyone had a fun & festive New Year.  Care to share you resolutions?

Lisa will be back next week with “Food You Hated as a Kid”!

 

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