Meanwhile Back At Mama’s

Its been a while! I’ve been in the processes of moving back into moms house, working two jobs (yes, I got another job), and prepping for whats going on right now. Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in. In the meantime, lets focus on this recipe! Ever since I can remember, my mom and I have been obsessed with Stouffer’s Vegetable Lasagna. Its a white lasagna using chopped vegetables and a beschemel sauce.

Vegetable (Noodless) Lasagna

4-8 serving

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 large eggplant (approx. 1lb 1/4 to 1/2oz), sliced lengthwise to 1/4 inWP_006541
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 pkg of chopped spinach, frozen
  • 1/2 cup ricotta, fat free
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream, fat free
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (15oz) jar light Alfredo sauce, like Classico (about 45 cal per 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, fat free, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, fat free, divided
  • 2 Tbsp Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 8oz chicken breast (optional)

For those of you trying to figure out why the title of the post sounds familiar…

Wrap the cloves of garlic on aluminum foil and broil 450 F for 30 min. Take this time to prep everything else. On a skillet or griddle, sprayed with non stick cooking spray, lay the eggplant and grill it, flipping after about 5 minutes on either side. Remove from heat and allow it to sit.

Add the chopped broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, and roasted garlic in a skillet, sprayed with non stick spray, and 2-4 Tbsp water, over medium heat. Sweat the veggies down. In a medium sized bowl, combine the ricotta, sour cream, pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil together. By the spoonful, stir the hot, sweated veggies into the ricotta mixture, until all the vegetables and ricotta are thoroughly combined.

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Preheat the oven for 350 F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Pour about 3 tbsp of the jarred alfredo sauce into the sprayed pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Pour the remaining jar of light alfredo sauce into the ricotta mixture, along with 3/4 cup water. Mix well. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Begin to layer the cooled eggplant on the bottom. Spoon half the ricotta  mixture over the eggplant and spreas evenly.

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Chop the shredded mozzarella cheese finely and sprinkle half of it over the layered eggplant and ricotta. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated parm over top. Place another layer of eggplant down, followed by the remaining ricotta, mozzarella, and parm. Lastly, top with the bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

The filling was so darn tasty, I just kept eating it with the spoon! Focus, Sammy, this is for dinner…

The layers are thin, full of flavor. I’ve figured out a few things with making this dish a meal:

  • Cook 1 ounce of pasta and serve the lasagna over top.
  • Make a protein (chicken works fantasticly well).

I shredded up about an ounce or so of chicken breast, tossed it with and ounce of cooked pasta, and served it up to pops.

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Dad devoured this plate in record timing… just saying…

Nutrition: (1/8 of dish)

Calories: 127, Fat: 3.3g, Sat. Fat: 1.9g, Cholesterol: 24g, Sodium: 467mg, Carbs: 15.8g, Fiber: 3.7g, Sugar: 5.2g, Protein: 8.1g

For those of you trying to figure out why the title of the post sounds familiar…

 

Smells Like Curry

With the leftover eggplant from the Eggplant Barley Risotto, I felt compelled to play with Indian spices. Have you cooked with curry powder? The smell, alone, drives me crazy and I can’t wait to dig in! Then it colors the remaining ingredients with such a beautiful golden orange! Oh man, I’m making myself hungry, again!

Curry Chicken and Veggies

serves 2

  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chunks
  • 1 cup onion, chunks
  • 5 oz chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cubed into 1/2 in cubes
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, reduced sodium
  • 3 cup eggplant, skin on, chunks
  • 3/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large skillet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over medium heat, add the garlic, chopped onion, and green pepper. Cover to steam vegetables, until onion begins the become translucent. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, raise the heat to medium-high, and recover. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes.

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This was such an easy, one pot meal! Gotta love it!

Barley Babe

I have really been trying to embrace healthy carbs, lately, such as whole grains. I have always loved barley. I remember being a little kid and stealing the barley out of my moms chicken soup pot. I remember the chewy texture sucked me right in!

I was on an oatmeal kick, last year, and then heard of quinoa bowls. I made one for breakfast one morning and thought how great of an idea it was to switch out my oatmeal and top this grain with berries! Then I heard of breakfast barley bowls, which I, still, have yet to try! But, today, I bought a bag of barley and I’m ready to rock!

With an eggplant on the discount rack and a bag of cauliflower in the freezer, I was more than ready to try Julie’s barley risotto. I’ve always had risotto made with rice and I have heard that it is rather difficult to make. Bring it!

Heres my take:

Eggplant Barley Risotto

serves 4-6WP_005243

  • 2 1/2 cups cubed eggplant, skin on
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 16oz bag cauliflower florets, frozen
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat grated Parmesan
  • s/p to taste

Heat the oven to 440 F. On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, spread the eggplant and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Roast int heat oven for about 8 minutes. While the eggplant is roasting, Add the onion and garlic to a large pot, cover, and simmer over medium heat, until the onions start to sweat.

Add the barley, along with 1 cup of broth. Bring to a boil. Add the eggplant and frozen cauliflower. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium high. Stir the pot frequently. As the broth is absorbed, add another cup of broth. Once the last cup of broth is added, add the thyme and granulated garlic. Stir until spices have been disbursed.

Lastly, add the cheese wedges and stir. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the parm in a little at a time, stirring constantly.

Each serving is 3/4 cup. If you’re really hungry, this dish can be divided into fours!

Damn I love barley! I’m already planning another barley dish! Stay tuned!

Good Days

I have picked up quite a few shifts at my new job and today I realized I am finally getting the hang of things!

At first, I was constantly behind and never even got a chance to eat! Today, however, was completely different! I ate breakfast, lunch, got done everything I needed to do, not only on time, but early! Plus I went to Zumba! It was a really good day today!

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Backing up a bit, I just had to share some pictures with you. On National Spaghetti Day, January 4th , I whipped up some gravy, with a side of steamed broccolini, onion, and roasted red pepper. It was a beautiful and delicious meal!

On my pay day, I took Barry out to breakfast and treated him to the “Ich Liebe Dich” Omlete! It was massive and tasty! I, of course, ordered my banana fosters coffee to pair. The omelet was stuffed with sausage, smoked cheddar, sauerkraut, onion, and bell pepper, topped with a dollop of guacamole, with a side of toasted sourdough, apple butter, and fruit. And “just because,” we ordered the Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge Pudding Cake! Talk about dense and rich, and we couldn’t get enough! It was quite the combination of ingredients to make our Friday breakfast!

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That Saturday, the family celebrated the Bar Mitzfah of Frank’s nephew. It was the first Jewish celebration I had attended actually in Temple. The cantor had a a fantastic voice. I wanted him to serenade me with Frank Sinatra music. Haha! The Rabii took me by surprise, as she was female! I did not know that females could be Rabbis. It was definitely a new experience, as I tried to sing the hymns and and follow along.

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Following the two hour ceremony, we drove about 10 minutes to the luncheon, that was more like an afternoon of food! It was like a 4 course meal! It began with appetizers of fried calamari, eggplant rollatini, and mozzarella rolls stuffed with prosciutto and roasted red peppers. the Eggplant was my favorite!

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This was followed by salad and penne a la vodka! I kept picking out the peas! It was delicious!

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The waitress took our orders. James, one of my brothers, and I could not decide between the chicken and the bass so we decided to split! I ordered the chicken piccatta with double veggies, and James got the Chilean Sea Bass. The bass was perfectly cooked and I loved the lemon of the piccata sauce!

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Dinner, as if that was not enough, was followed by an array of cookies, pastries, and the above cake, which was spectacular! I am not an icing girl, but I would have licked the cake clean! Despite a day filled with food, I was incredibley proud of my self control, portions sizes, and overall eating!

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Mozel Tov, Evan!

FYI: This is how excited I get for Zumba!

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Holiday Fiending

WP_004120The end of my shift went quickly, and I couldn’t wait to get home to get breakfast. With today being Apple Betty Day, I attempted to make a shake from this. I’ve never had it, but from what I’ve read its like a mash between bread pudding and cobbler. I looked up a recipe for Apple Brown Betty and tried something out. Ya know that I got? A belly ache. Noted!

This tummy ache was followed by giving the stinky puppy a scrub down and then a nap. Waking up, I still didn’t feel much better, unfortunately so I took it easy.

My appetite was non existent until dinner time. Dad and I had run out to the grocery sore to grab some staples and he kept tempting me with the idea of grabbing sushi. No, no… I have enough indulgent events in the next week… Well, guess how that turned out… with a full on indulgent night!

Dad found a package of Cajun seasoned flounder on Manager’s Special, and we decided that for National Taco Day, we make fish tacos. (Well, ours were more like burritos). I began with sauteing some broccoli rabe, with minced garlic, onion and thinly sliced celery. While this was cooking down, I sliced an eggplant, lengthwise, into 1/4 in slices and browned them in another skillet. Once the eggplant was cooked, I transferred it to a paper towel to rid of excess moisture, and added the seasoned flounder to the pan with the vegetables.

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I sprinkled a bit of fat free cheddar on the tortillas and warmed them in the microwave. Top the tortillas with the cooked fish, followed by the vegetables. Slice the eggplant and chop romaine lettuce to finish the wrap!  We added the Chipotle salsa, and jalapeno lime bean dip, too!

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Dad and I were feeling spicy and added chopped cherry peppers to ours! Dinner was served with a side of steamed vegetables. I seriously enjoyed this meal!

WP_004124Following dinner, mom came home with what I call Holiday Crack  …. AKA gingersnaps. There are alot of foods, such as oumpkin that also fall into the holiday crack categorie…

Immediately, I ran to the freezer and began sandwiching the Edy’s Slow Churned Pumpkin ice cream between two wafers. And so it began! The sweet tooth frenzy! I literally ate anything in front of me. Everything tasted so good! I don’t know why, but I just wanted EVERYTHING!

Mom and I headed out to Payless with our eyes on the prize. I not only had had a coupon from the mail, but a coupon that was sent to me on my birthday. Mom and I bought a total of 4 pairs of shoes and saved over 45 dollars! Thats what I’m talking about!

Making the cut was a pair of hot pink running shoes by Champion and a cute pair of Fioni bootines (I didn’t know bootine was a word,either), both of which I plan on wearing tomorrow!

Giving

The past few days I feel like I haven’t slept… I wake up tired…

Today, I hit the snooze alarm until the last possible minute. I finally got up, slammed a bottle of water and headed off to the blood bank. I try to make it a point to donate blood as often as I can… Mostly for the free Nutter Butters that follow…

I’m totally kidding! I am a universal donor and love feeling like I’m saving lives for the 1 hour I take to donate!

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Following my donation, a little blurred vision, and getting my purple badge of courage, I meandered over to the canteen. The older volunteers are so sweet there! One of them showed me a variety of K cups to choose from and brewed me a Southern Pecan coffee. I sat down at one of the tables, and after examining the goods (ie. the snacks), I switched up my usual Nutter Butter craze for an adorable two pack of Oreos! Who doesn’t like chocolate in the morning??

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Afterwards, I snuck into Barry’s house to wake him up to go to Cowtown. I know I was just there, but the day was beautiful, Barry had never been, and it kept us out of the house. We explored for about 2 hours, and I showed him around the barns. My last stop of the trip was to an older gentleman that I always buy gladiolas from. These are my moms favorite flower and since we have been getting along the last few days, I wanted to surprise her. The generous man, then asked if I like eggplant and gave me one for free along with a handful of jalapenos!  How nice!

Mom had picked up eggplant on Saturday when we went and now with all the eggplant in the house, it was time for Eggplant Parm (but we’ll get to that in a second)!

As we drove over the Delaware Memorial, Barry and I could both feel hunger approaching, as neither one of us had really eaten and it was much hotter day than we anticipated. I suggested Saladworks, one of my favorite places to eat out, and their was definitely no regretting this decision.

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Both, Barry and I, got the “Create-your-own” option. Mine consisted of spring mix, egg whites for protein, roasted red peppers, corn and bean mix (so sweet), cucumbers, and chopped tomatoes with fat free Balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I like to load up on toppings with moisture and and high flavor so it limits the amount of dressing I need. I adored the colors and fragrant of my salad! Its so pretty! I omitted my beloved wheat roll, but I really didn’t need it. One thing I adore about the Saladworks website is that I can calculate everything on their without a hassle!

Barry and I were content with our meals and it really hit the crisp stop that was need to break up such a warm and humid day! We took advantage of an hour to watch some Twilight Zone in the new living room, at Barrys, after which we went separate ways… Barry to the firehouse, and I home.

I couldn’t wait to play with the Hungry-girl eggplant parm recipe. I was inspired by my salad today and decided to add roasted red peppers to dinner. I have grown up on eggplant unlike Barry who only recently tried it when I made stir-fry. My mom always double breaded and fried it. Don’t get me wrong… its delicious… but it pretty much takes every thing nutritious out! My mom would make eggplant parm layer upon layer of the breaded, fried goods, with lots of full fat cheese in between the slices. I have learned ways to stretch flavor, resources and calories, and this dish was created with huge portions!

Eggplant Parm

serves 4

  • 1 large eggplant

Breading:

  • 1 cup Fiber One bran cereal
  • 1/2 tsp reduced fat grated Parmesean cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • WP_0038511/4 cup liquid egg substitute

Sauce:

  • 1 cup jarred sauce, plus 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

The Rest:

  • 2 oz jarred roasted red peppers
  • 3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the end off of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in large coins, to produce about 10. Dab the sliced with a paper towel to try to grab some excess moisture.

In a food processor, blend all the breading ingredients, except egg, until the cereal becomes a bread crumb texture. Dip both sides of the eggplant slices in the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Transfer the coated slices to a well sprayed (with non stick cooking spray) baking sheet/ pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip the coins and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, over low heat, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. In the mean time, Further chop the shredded mozzarella cheese (this helps the cheese spread more). Then chop the roasted red peppers. Set aside until assembly time.

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Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with non stick spray and spread a thin layer (about 1/4 cup of sauce) evenly over the bottom. Lay half the baked and breaded eggplant on top. Sprinkle half the chopped, shredded cheese, and 1 Tbsp grated parm over the eggplant. Spoon about another 1/4 cup of sauce over this, and top with the remaining cheeses. Lastly, Pour the remaining sauce over the entire dish and sprinkle with basil.

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Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and let set for about 3-5 minutes. Cut into 4 squares and serve it up.

We paired ours with salad.

I love the sweetness that the roasted red peppers add to the dish! MMMM! I forgot how much I loved roasted red peppers!!

It was so good, nothing was left! Not a drop in the pyrex! With so much eggplant on hand, I made another, this one turning out even better than the first. Whats also nice about this is that it can be frozen.

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Nutrition: (1/4 recipe)

Calories: 160, Fat: 1.5g, Sat. Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 6.2mg, Sodium: 648.7mg, Carbs: 33.1g, Fiber: 14.8g, Sugar: 8.4g, Protein: 12.7g

A big topic of conversation at dinner was the madness that ensure in college town last night. Main Street was flooded with kids, jumping on cars, yelling, etc… I thought it was about the Eagles winner! I was wrong! Apparently, the cops broke up a huge party and the 1000 kids flocked to Main Street and swarmed! Thats just dumb! It caused enough of a ruckus, though, that not only did campus police get involved, but also, city, county, and state! Here one guys YouTube video of the events…

Blew my mind! I’m so glad I was in the safety of my home, last night, 20 minutes away from the mayhem!

Eggplant Pie

It was nice to sleep in yesterday and not have anything to do! I spent all day studying for the NCLEX, filling myself with brain food, like Saturn peaches, sugar free chocolate pudding, and a delicious dinner! (recipe to follow) My family has really been lucking out these past few weeks. Since I’ve found an outlet in cooking, my family has been eating really well. During my studying, I reward myself with breaks to cook, or prep to cook. Yesterday the result was baking Strawberry Muffins, and Eggplant Pie. Both were so good! Frank, my biggest critic, said the muffins were very good and the Eggplant Pie was,”Outstanding!” Having the word “outstanding” come from him was definitely a treat!

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The muffins came in handy when I woke up this morning to find a tray of donuts on the table from an apparent late night craving they had while out on the town… To resist the urge, I warmed up a strawberry muffin, sliced it in half, and added to the already gooey strawberries inside it with some sugar free strawberry preserves. Take that, donut!

After dinner, and along day of brain overload, I rewarded myself with Zumba. Unfortunately, my booty shaking was cut short when a girl got light headed and fainted. I ran to help her. Behind me, I hear my girlfriend yell,”It’s okay! She’s a nurse!” It was thrilling hearing someone yell that so close to my exam!

WP_003511Following Zumba, I got really hungry. Thank goodness Zumba is early on Monday nights and I went home to enjoy an Orange Cream Dannon Light & Fit Greek, with cheerios for crunch. I got antsy and wound up finishing a head of romain with salsa, filling up on water. I’m such a bunny rabbit…

I headed to bed with a mug of chamomile tea and fell asleep in NCLEX-mode.

After Sunday’s adventure at the Ren Faire, and my brief time at Zumba, last night, my calves we starting to feel it today. I began the WP_003512gloomy day with my normal routine of a shake. Since my vanilla protein powder has been replaced, I began with an Apple Eggnog Shake:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 md fuji apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free Eggnog Da Vinci syrup
  • spinkle apple pie spice
  • water
  • ice

A total winner that Barry didn’t think would work! I made Frank a very bright Watermelon Shake.

Today was so gloomy that my dad’s boss told him not to come to work because there was so much flooding! It was also gloomy in my kitchen when my spare Magic Bullet bit the dust. I’m glad I had my smoothie maker to fill in.

Before heading to work, I filled up on some watermelon and I’ve really been digging the beet scene lately. I actually made another beet salad for dinner tonight, for work. I even used some Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh! And what goes well with bacon? Bleu Cheese! I steamed together sliced onion, chopped tempeh, sliced petite carrots, and chopped, sliced beets and served it over a bed of spinach, topped with crumbled reduced fat bleu cheese. The warmth from the vegetables warmed up the cheese and this salad was “no dressing required!” I’ve been trying to talk dad into trying beets, but I haven’t quite gotten there. Maybe I’ll sneak it into something one day. What can I say? You can’t beat beets!

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Usually, being clerk at work makes me want to eat. Not because I’m hungry or burning calories, but because I’m bored. Tonight was great because I ate my delicious salad for dinner, and had some grahams and PB for a snack! Plus, with studying and all the paperwork at the desk, I kept busy!I’m serious! As soon at 7pm hit, this place went crazy, like full moon crazy! Eureka!

I picked up a pack of sliced eggplant from the farmers market last week and wanted to use it up before it began to turn. My intent was to make an eggplant parm pizza, but then this brain of mine began to crank some gears and this little beauty was born. Its like if eggplant parmesean and spaghetti pie had a baby…

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Serves 4

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/8in
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup fat free ricotta
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pkg Fettuccine Tofu Shirataki noodles
3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
4oz 96% lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed (25g)
1 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan

Peeling the eggplant is your preference. Over high heat, in a skillet, cook slices of eggplant until they begin to shrivel from the water loss, flipping to ensure both sides cook. Transfer to a paper towel while cooking the remaining slices of eggplant. While eggplant is still pliable, lay the eggplant strategically in a sprayed 9in pie pan to create a pseudo-pie crust (about 7 slices). Sprinkle the bottom on the pan with 1/4 cup of mozzarella.

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Empty the noodles into a colander, rinse, and snip through the noodles with scissors, as these these noodles can be pretty long. In the hot pan, after the eggplant has been cooked and removed, briefly toss the noodles in the pan, tossing constantly to remove excess fluid, and return to the colander.

Spray skillet with non stick cooking spray and briefly cook down onions, garlic, and bell pepper, until onions are
mildly translucent. Transfer warm vegetables into a bowl with uncooked mushrooms, ricotta, spices, and egg. Then add the noodles to the ricotta mix. Transfer into eggplant crust and distribute evenly.

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Brown the ground beef. Once crumbled and browned, add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir together and top over the noodles in the crust. Sprinkle a pinch on mozzarella and the grated cheese. Add the chopped spinach and cover with the remaining eggplant (about 5 slices). Top with remained shredded mozzarella and bake in a preheat oven  at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

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Slice and enjoy!

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Nutrition (1/4 recipe):

Calories: 149, Fat: 0.8g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 22.5mg, Sodium: 294mg, Carbs: 15.8g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4.7g, Protein: 16.8g

Ode to Kathleen and Drinks Before Noon

I can honestly say, that even as a college student, I have never once drank before noon.

This week started off with excitement: the LAST two days of clinical of nursing school!

Mondays features were coffee and cafe… I saw OIKOS Cafe Latte Greek Yogurt, and I was curious. But I really liked it! It was smooth ans creamy with a mild coffee flavor, not espresso like I was expecting.

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Monday was miserable! It was pouring and gloomy. The best way to combat one of these days is with some soup: Lentil soup with some grilled ham and cheese! I still can’t find affordable raspberries, so I improvised for dessert to get my kick: Breakstone’s Raspberry Cottage Cheese Double, sprinkled with cocoa powder.

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Now, onto Tuesday!

This is it! Its so surreal! I finished all my paperwork and projects, and this is the day. The LAST day of clinical as a nursing student! I was very attached to two of my patients and both they and I were said that I was leaving. I feel like I will visit them, though. I was actually contemplating applying for a job at this facility. I work with kids, but maybe my calling is to be with fragile patients. I’m not quite sure if a nursing home is the right start for a career for me, though.

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After we were finished on the unit, I hugged my patients, and met up with friends at Border Cafe, as we had done a few weeks earlier. I learned, today, that I really am a light weight. One rum and coke and I was toast! And it wasn’t even noon yet! Oh boy!

After I sobered up I headed home to prep tonight’s dinner.

Kathleen is a nurse that I work with. She also happens to be a Kappan alumnus (referring to Phi Theta Kappa). Anyway, Kathleen and I have a lot in common. She has been very supportive of me throughout my entire illness and recovery, as well as a cheerleader for my continued education. One thing Kathleen and I have consistently found in common is our love of food, especially ethnic foods!  Although Kathleen and I usually talk about sushi and Indian food, I’m dedicating today’s recipe to her, as Kathleen is a vegetarian, and newcomer to the blog, and today’s recipe uses tofu.

I’ve made this recipe before and loved it! Now, for a little tweeking.

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serves 4

Sauce: (you will be making this recipe three times)

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp. reduced-sodium/lite soy sauce
2 tsp. sweet Asian chili sauce
1 no-calorie sweetener packet (like Splenda or Truvia)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Meat:

1 large peeled eggplant cut into 1″ cubes
1 (14oz) package lite firm tofu

2 tsp. minced garlic

Vegetables:

1 md. onion, cut into thirds and then quartered

2 bell pepper

4 cups frozen broccoli

3 oz baby carrots

6 button mushrooms, quartered

Combine all ingredients for the sauce except the cornstarch and set aside. Drain the water from the tofu and slice into 8 slices. Lay the slices between a towel, and weigh the tofu and towel down with a pan (I used a nursing text book). Allow the tofu to sit for 30 minutes and for the towel to absorb the excess moisture.

Spray a pan with nonstick cooking spray and “dry-fry” the tofu (AKA brown the tofu), pressing with a spatula occasionally to remove excess liquid. Once one side is toasty brown, flip and press the tofu again. When browned, remove from heat and let cool. When cool, cut each slice into 6 pieces. Place cubed tofu in a resealable baggie and pour in the sauce. Allow to marinate at room temperature, turning the tofu occasionally. (The longer the tofu has to marinade, the more flavor it will pick up. I marinated mine for about 4 hours).

Meanwhile, roughly chop vegetables into large pieces and cube the eggplant. After marinating the tofu for a while, its time to cook.

Spray a wok or large skillet with non stick spray, and on medium high heat, add the cubed the eggplant. Toss every so often to brown the sides and until the eggplant becomes fragrant. Add the minced garlic and empty the contents of the sealed marinating bag (tofu and marinade) into the skillet. Meanwhile, steam the vegetables as you would prefer to do so. (I used the stove).

Make two batches of the sauce. Combine the water and cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. (Remember to make two batches). Toss the eggplant and tofu and pour one completed batch pf sauce over the “meat” and toss. Lower the heat to medium/ medium-low. Add the last batch of sauce, toss, and allow to thicken.

Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!

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cube up the eggplant

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press and dry-fry the tofu

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cool and cut the tofu

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marinate

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rice boiling, vegetables steaming, and “meat” cooking

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Reading this recipe back, it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. I promise!

I love the sweet and spicy notes of this meal! Plus, I got dad to eat tofu! (Another added bonus: each serving is around 200 calories). I served dads meal over brown rice and mine over the remaining bag of Miracle Rice. I also made a samosa salad with a thinly sliced cucumber, some onion, and a tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar.

Eggs and Doctor’s Day

Prepare yourself for a recap of the last day and half, complete with a crazy amount of pictures.

Wednesday night, I ate some homemade wonton soup I found in the freezer. Yum!

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It was an easy shift since I was placed in a 1:1. Although I did not have any school stuff with me to pass the time, I spent my night researching downtown San Jose and eateries to better prepare myself for next week’s trip. I found a variety of places including Indian, sushi and vegan!

Arriving home, I made a cup of decaf tea and sleepily waited for my uncle to drop of some much anticipated cookies. Ever since my grandmother passed away, he has turned into “Barry Crocker.” His specialty is ricotta cookies. I love his ricotta cookies! The texture is so unique! He typically makes Lemon Ricotta Cookies that I devour every time! I mean, these cookies go fast! Everyone wants them! He called me and said he would drop off his latest creation: Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cookies! They looked like chocolate chip scones, but wow! They had the same texture as before, but no with a chocolate treat. One word: Addicting!

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I’ll talk to him and see if he’ll share his secrets with us!

After a brief nap, I woke with one focus. As promised, I used those strawberries in a shake: Chocolate Covered Strawberry:WP_001672

2 scoops Chocolate protein powder

1 Tbsp unsweetened Cocoa powder

strawberries

handful of spinach

1/4 tsp xanthum

water

ice

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I spent the remainder of my afternoon taking a brisk walk to the supermarket for some few essentials for the weekend, then tidying up the house, and doing a bit of ab work.

Before I left the house, mom really wanted to make some popcorn. Last year, when I was in Nashville, TN for the International Convention, I picked this up. I though the novelty of it was too cool! Its a cob of corn… to make popcorn! You just slide this, what looks like Halloween corn, into the provided bag, fold the bags edge closed, and pop away!

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I arrived on night shift apt! I don’t know why… this energy, though, helped power me through a night of 10 patients! I was greeted on the unit by these little dudes:

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I forgot we had an egg decorating contest to help raise money for the asthma foundation. In first place, was Angry Birds.

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I had one of the best night shift meals in a while! I told you that falafel dip was going to be a Bundo house staple, and I meant it. I mixed the remaining dip left over from the falafel with some tuna fish. I laid this on a bed of spinach, along with tomato and onion and wrapped in an Everything tortilla! At work, I lucked out and found some roasted red peppers on the salad bar and threw those on there, too! To join the party… some celery and carrot sticks with reduced fat Ranch dressing and a fresh and crunchy bean salad, also from the salad bar. Dessert was a Fiber One brownie!

It figures that the one day I mess up on eating meat, it would be the morning of Good Friday! Ugh! My girlfriend and I split some chicken fingers! I haven’t eaten them in ages!

During this shift we also decorated for our unit’s Doctor’s Day. Our night shift crew prepared everything for breakfast while today;s day shift staff will set up lunch. We had bags of Quaker Quakes, Fage yogurt, coffee, fruit… etc.

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But the niftiest of all was the cake! We filled empty sterile syringes with red icing and med cups with M&Ms:

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I headed home in fun because I ate a bit more than I had wanted. After chatting with mom for about an hour, I started to feel a hungry stomach (which kind of cheered me up slightly knowing that I recognized what my body wanted). Before heading to bed, I pulled out OIKOS Pomegranate Greek yogurt and topped it with chia. MMMM I forgot how much I liked this one! (And my Scooby Doo spoon from the bottom of the Rice Krispies box, to embrace some childhood).

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I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep before I woke up. I guess I turned off the alarm I had set for Church, but I still woke up on time. I guess the Big Guy really wanted me there! This is something I look forward to every Good Friday. (Today is Good Friday, by the way… the day Christ die on the cross.) Every Friday during Lent we celebrate what is known to Catholics as the Stations of the Cross, marking key points leading up the the crucifiction. On Good Friday, the congregation meets a few blocks away and processes towards Church with a large wooden cross. We pause at intervals to read the stations, and as we process we sing hymns. I love the unifying feeling of this event and the fact that we take time to reflect on our lives, faith, each other, and our blessings.  I am a lector at my Church as read a station every year. This year, I also acted as song leader, leading the congregation in the hymns between stations. I wanted to be more involved this year, and I helped carry the cross in between two stations. I had three favorite parts about today’s procession: 1) all the new faces, 2) it was my mom’s first time attending, and 3)even the little kids got involved this year!

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Afterwards, I whipped up a new recipe that I guarantee you will see again on this blog! My mom and I love eggplant. I eat mine in any way but fried, and my mom ONLY eats hers fried, therefore, I am always looking for healthy eggplant recipes to snag my mom from the dark side. I used Hungry Girl’s recipe for an eggplant stir-fry and let me tell ya, I was impressed! I find with some of her recipes, that theres a potential for bland-ness or that I need to acquire the taste, but not with this one! And an added bonus what how absolutely easy it was!

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To top it off and add some different textures, I steamed up some frozen stir-fry vegetables. I can’t wait to try this with tofu! I’ve had a decent amount of requests from readers about tofu recipes, so this is a contender.

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MMMM! It was everything you’d expect! Sweet and sticky and just a little kick!

I had gotten a coupon for Payless Shoes for 20% off my purchase  and since I’m going to be hitting California soon, I thought I could use a nice pair of black staple pumps. After playing around with some shoe indulgence and a fashion shoe (haha puns!), I decided on a comfy pair of peep-toes.

My absolute favorite!

My absolute favorite!

Feeling like a superstar!

Feeling like a superstar!

The winner

The winner

Roasted Vegetables: Crock Pot Recipe #7

Wednesday:

I went to class this morning and while waiting, enjoyed a Muller Mousse Parfait. A girl I’m in clinical with loves these, so I gave it a try.

WP_001225I tried the peach passion fruit, figuring if I was going to try something, I might as well try the most exotic sounding. I topped it with both ground flax and chia, and it was delicious and filling! I only have one complaint: way too much sugar! Seriously, it had a whole days worth of sugar in it!

After this cardiac cram session, I hit the gym. I had a full workout planned but as I was doing it, I realized I was not going to be able to complete it, if I needed to get some sleep for night shift. I only worked out for an hour or so. I was so bummed when that I had to leave. Have you ever been so into your routine, you just didn’t want to stop. Seriously, even the shuffle on my iPod just kept giving me great songs to power up to!

I hit the sheets when I got home, unfortunately  only getting about 2 hours of sleep for my 12 hour shift. I made something that was LONG overdue: a shake. Iv’e been checking up on this blog I found and she made a shake that sounded delicious, so I gave it a go. The following was whipped up:

handful of kaleWP_001227

handful of frozen, pitted dark cherries

1 scoop Herbalife Vanilla Formula 1

1 scoop Herbalife Vanilla PDM

half a frozen banana

1 Tbsp sugar free cheesecake pudding mix

and lots of ice!

Pretty darn tasty… Actually, dad asked me to make him one for Thursday morning!

WP_001228Thursday:

Over the course of the long night, I did some pretty wise snacking choices, suck as graham crackers, sugar free pudding, and 94% fat free popcorn. I have to same, though, my favorite meal of the night, was the Raisin and Spice Oatmeal. I stirred in a little PB, and mmmmmm good!WP_001231

After I got home, I started preparing the crock pot. Tonight’s recipe is in preparation for tomorrow’s dinner (I can’t wait!)

Once all the ingredients were in the crock, I sat down to finish some homework and enjoyed a nice bowl of Banana Nut and Peanut Butter Cheerios, a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee with some sugar free french vanilla powdered creamer and a few dark chocolate covered espresso beans to keep me going for the day!

Katie loves crock pots too and I remembered a while back she posted about roasting vegetables in a crock pot. Being the sucker for veggies that I am, I starting thinking up ways to use these veggies. Over rice? with sausage? In a pita? The possibilities are endless! Needless to say, I hit up the discount produce shelf…

Roasted Crock Pot Veggies

2 bell pepper (I like using colors)WP_001233

3 cloves garlic, slivered

half an onion, sliced in rings

a few baby portabellos

1 large carrot stick, sliced into very thin coins

handful of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin

1 small eggplant, sliced to 1/4 in thick

spices, to taste

Prepare all the vegetables, adding or subtracting vegetable that you enjoy, and toss them in the crock pot. Season, cover, and cook.

The original recipe calls for oil, but instead, I just gave the top of the veggies a quick spray with some non-stick pray and few shot a liquid aminos. I couldn’t find my Italian seasoning in the cupboard, so I used some granulated garlic, black pepper, parsley, oregano, and basil, and gave it all a nice toss.

WP_001235Cover the pot and look on low, stirring occasionally.

During class, I was starting to sense some hunger creeping up on me. I looked around the room, and wouldn’t you know like four people were chopping on protein bars! AHHHH! I knew this would be tough!

When I got home from class, the house smelled like a warm garden… fresh veggies in the air! I hustled into the kitchen to give them a stir and a try. I was so happy with how they turned out! The carrots were just the right consistency  the onions became translucent  the peppers and mushrooms cooked down, the tomatoes got soft and sweet, the eggplant absorbing all the flavors…

I had some leftover turkey sausage to I put a little in a tortilla with some veggies and I was in heaven! This most definitely will be a meal another night.WP_001237

As for tonight’s dinner, I was jonesing for a Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger, and mom was really eyeing up the chili. My creation was a chili dipped burger! YUM! I snacked on some mixed fruit for dessert!

Over all, the last 24 hours was pretty decent with food… only a few minor binges.

After meeting up with Mike to finish our assignment, I tried to squeeze in a workout before being detained in nursing labs for 3 hours. I was able to squeeze in the following workout, based off of Julie’s Beat Boredom Interval Workout:

Weights:

Sitting Crunches 15reps 4 set 53 lbs
Tricep Extensions 15reps 4 sets 20 lbs
Sitting Crunches 15reps 4 sets 53 lbs

Elliptical:

0-10 min 11 resistance
10-1230 13
1230-15 14
15-20 11

Repeat Weights

Treadmill:

1-5 minutes 4.2 speed 8 incline
5-630 7 1
630-8 5 1
8-10 4.2 1

Now, I ready to crash, wake up refreshed, workout, watch some lectures, and cook you all a wonderful Friday Lenten dinner!Even though, I was totally sleep deprived, I did not want to leave. These last two days I’ve really been in the workout zone!