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My Favorite Ingredients.

Hot Sauce: If you don’t like spicy foods, then this is not for you. I have a true love for hot sauce and use it every day. I use hot sauce in everything from eggs, meat, vegetables, potatoes, sauces, pasta, sandwiches and more. I have many different types of hot sauce, each one has a distinctly different heat. It’s such an easy way to add a burst of flavor!

Reduced-Fat Sour Cream: I love using reduced fat sour cream because it makes me feel like I’m eating something creamy and sinful, when in fact, 2 tbsp only have 40 calories and 3 g of fat. Using this in moderation and adding it to various recipes can help add a new taste and texture. Try mixing it with potatoes, tomato sauce or steamed vegetables.

Garlic: Who doesn’t like garlic? Garlic can be used with literally everything. I keep a jar of crushed garlic in my refridgerator so I can quickly grab a tsp when needed and not have to deal with chopping a clove of garlic. Easy and simple!

Garlic Salt: I like salt, that is easy to see. Instead of using regular salt in and on foods, I like use garlic salt to add a bit of seasoning along with it.

Dry Ranch Mix: Ranch dressing is notoriously bad for you, but dry ranch mix has all the flavor without the fat and calories- there are only 5 calories in a whole pack! Keep in mind there is a lot of salt, so use in moderation. You can also make a great ranch dip by adding dry ranch mix to reduced fat sour cream or Greek non-fat yogurt. You could also sprinkle it on grilled chicken for extra seasoning or mix into your favorite potato recipe to add some punch.

Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs are great to have around. It adds bursts of fresh flavor in any food you cook. Right now I’m really into the flavor of fresh dill, as you’ll see in upcoming recipes. Fresh basil is always an amazing flavor to spice up a simple pasta dish or vegetable.

Canned Tomatoes: It’s great to keep a can of crushed or diced tomatoes in the cupboard for cooking. Sometimes I’ll steam vegetables and then add in some tomatoes for a bit more substance. You can also use with chicken, eggs or brown rice.

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TBLT Sandwich

Turkey Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

It doesn’t get much easier than making a sandwich! Try this as a healthier alternative to a classic BLT sandwich with mayo.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 piece store bought Greek style flatbread (Oasis is my favorite brand)
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • reduced fat cream cheese

Heat up the turkey bacon in the microwave in between 2 pieces of paper towel for 3 minutes. This allows the paper towel to absorb any excess fat. Cut the flatbread in half and toast. While bread is warm, spread 1 tbsp of the cream cheese onto the bread evenly. Add lettuce and sliced tomato along with the hot turkey bacon. Serve with a dill pickle, of course!

Saturday Girls’ Lunch.

I had a great girls’ day today with one of my greatest friends, Ashley, and we went to lunch at Shine Morida. (www.shinerestaurant.com) There were so many yummy things on the menu, so we decided to order a few things to try, taste and nibble.

Pad Thai: This traditional noodle dish is made with rice noodles, chicken, egg, and sprouts. It’s topped off with greens, cucumber, cilantro and crushed peanuts. Squeeze some lime on top and it is de-lish!

Mexican Maki: (on top) Made with tuna tobiko, cilantro, avocado, jalapeno & lime.

Chef’s Spicy Maki: Made with salmon, avocado and cilantro with spicy sauce.

String Beans: These green beans are stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce. My favorite!



Happy Halloween!

Gilly’s Garden.

These fresh fruits and vegetables are all from my (future) mother-in-law, Gilly’s, garden in Wales. I had never seen this type of beans before, they are called runner beans. Gilly steamed the beans and carrots as side dishes for our traditional roast meals. They were delicious!

Runner Beans

Apples

Shallots

Carrots

 

Candy Corn Overdose.

Halloween is quickly approaching, and that means one thing: candy corn season is upon us!  People generally feel one of two ways about candy corn; they either love it or hate it. In my case, I happen to love, love, love it. It’s not so much the flavor I love, as it doesn’t really have one other than sugar, but it’s more about the chewy texture. When I start eating them I cannot stop (especially with the candy corn pumpkins.) This mass consumption of candy corn leads to what I call a “candy corn overdose”. This is when you eat too much candy corn too quickly and soon enough the sugary goodness takes over you body and gives you an horrible, incapacitating stomach ache.

It’s no surprise that candy corn isn’t exactly good for you in any way, shape or form. If you happen to have good self control, you may be able to enjoy candy corn in moderation. Unfortunately, I lack control when it comes to this particular candy, which is why this year I am choosing to bypass my usual overdose and instead focus on finding other things that can give me a sweet, satisfying flavor without the stomach ache.

Sweet Ideas:

  • Chocolate & Bananas: Cut up a banana and put it into a sugar-free or 100-calorie pack of chocolate pudding. To add a nice crunch, you can add a small handful of Special-K cereal.
  • Fruit & Whipped Cream: Heat up no-sugar-added frozen fruit (berries, peaches, cherries, etc) on the stove or in the microwave and then add 1 tbsp of cool whip lite on top. For me, this mimics the taste of a fresh fruit pie.
  • Fruit & Yogurt: Using that same frozen fruit, you can either thaw or heat the fruit and add it to a low-calorie or no-sugar-added yogurt. This gives the yogurt a bit more substance and texture. If you want to get fancy, you can top it off with a dollop of cool whip lite.
  • Strawberries & Chocolate: Chop up fresh strawberries and sprinkle in 1 tbsp of dark-chocolate chocolate chips. You can always change it up by adding a small handful of Special-K cereal for some crunch, some cool whip lite to add some creaminess or sugar-free chocolate pudding to add more chocolate taste.

London.

After our trip to Wales, Gareth and I traveled to London for a long weekend before returning to Chicago. It was great to sample so many different types of food. Here are some highlights.

Lamb Pizza: We went to a Lebanese restaurant in Covent Garden called Sofra (www.sofra.co.uk/) and Gareth ordered lamb pizza. Yummmm.

Full English Breakfast: This was Gareth’s breakfast order at a small cafe we found. Complete with baked beans!

Smoked Salmon & Eggs: This was my breakfast choice at the cafe. It was a fresh and light way to start the day, not too filling.

Pork Scratchings: Gareth was very happy about his order of pork scratchings at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Barbecoa (www.barbecoa.com) near St. Paul’s in London. Pork scratchings are fried pig skin (also called pork rinds or cracklings). Doesn’t he look like he was caught in the act?

Pickled Vegetables: My starter at Barbecoa was pickled vegetables, because clearly I love anything pickled.  Lots of hot peppers!

Bread: As a result of all the hot peppers, we ordered a TOWER of bread.

Pulled Pork Shoulder: As Gareth’s entree at Barbecoa, he ordered pulled pork shoulder on cornbread.

Calamari with Smashed Avocado: As my entree, I went for a starter (as I was filled up on bread). The calamari was light and tastey with lemon, avocado and a hint of hot pepper.

Duck Fat Chips: (aka fries) We also got these at Barbecoa. Potatoes fried in duck fat? Enough said.