Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baked Chicken Penne

I got this recipe from the Kraft What's Cooking magazine holiday '08 edition. My 10 year old son made it, under my supervision, and it was delicious! He loves cooking and is going to be a good cook some day. :)

Baked Chicken Penne

1-1/2 cups whole wheat penne, uncooked
1 285 gram package baby spinach
1 T. olive oil
1 lb (450 gr) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces.
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 cups pasta sauce (half 700 ml jar)
1-2/3 cups canned, diced tomatoes, drained (1/2 large can)
1/4 cup light cream cheese spread
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 T. grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta, adding spinach to boiling water for the last minute. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet. Add chicken and mushrooms and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes.

Add pasta sauce, tomatoes, and basil. Simmer 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Stir in cream cheese.

Put drained pasta/spinach into a 2 L casserole dish. Pour chicken mixture over the pasta and add 1/2 of the mozzarella. Stir until well-coated.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese over and bake 3 minutes more, until cheese is melted.

Make 4 servings, 2 cups each serving.

Calories 480
Fat 14grams
Carb 42 grams
Protein 45 grams

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cyberpenguin's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

2 – 2½ lb. red peppers (6-7)
3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1½ cups yellow onion, chopped
1 c. vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you prefer.)
2 c. water
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
8 - 10 fresh basil leaves
1/3 to ½ c. heavy cream (I recommend substituting w/non-dairy creamer or plain soy milk instead for obvious reasons! ;-))

Directions: Cut peppers in half lengthwise; remove stems, seeds & ribs. Lay cut side down on baking sheet; place under broiler. Roast until skins blister & blacken, 15-20 minutes. Remove & cover with foil. Let cool 10-15 minutes. Peel off skins, chop into medium pieces, & set aside. (Note: This can be done the night before. Refrigerate the pieces in a covered dish. Add the pepper juice to the soup as well.)

Warm oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & sauté until translucent. Add chicken broth, water, salt and cayenne. Cover partially & bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15–20 minutes. Add roasted peppers & cook for 10 minutes more.

Drain peppers & onion in colander, reserving liquid. In batches, puree peppers & onions in food processor or blender. Return puree & reserved liquid to saucepan and reheat. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice & cook 1 minute more. Taste & adjust seasonings. Stir in 1/3 of shredded basil. Serve & float 1-2 Tbsp. cream on top & sprinkle with remaining basil. Serves 4.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gwennie's Yellow Split Pea Soup

1 16oz bag yellow split peas
4 cups fat free chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
1 quick spray of cooking spray
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium parsnips, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or more, to taste)
1 or 2 medium bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Add olive oil, a quick spray of cooking spray (to coat) onions, garlic, and thyme to a large pot and sautee until onions are soft.

Add carrots, parsnips and bay leaf, and sautee another 2 to 3 minutes.

In a colander, quickly rinse yellow peas, then add peas, broth, and water to sauteed vegetables.

Stir, and bring to a boil.

Cover and let sit until peas become soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(If you have a hand-held puree machine, I like to puree part of the soup while it is still in the pot. I also like to leave part of the soup chunky, so it's half pureed, half chunk. If not, the soup is delicious as it is!)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There's Hummus, and Then There's Hummus

Here are a couple of Hummus Recipes that Rambonie posted on his blog, Iron Newman , today. Hummus is a delicious and healthy snack, and I often eat it as the main protein in my lunch. I dip veggies when I'm trying cut down on the bread products.

Basic Hummus

Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).

Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.

This is very similar to my recipe but I can't eat raw garlic so I often just omit the garlic altogether which I'm sure would make some purists freak out. However, I've was thinking that a roasted garlic hummus might be kind of nice. Anyone have a good recipe?

Also, a note - you can use a little peanut butter if you don't have any tahini in the house (which I often don't).

Rambonie also posted this interesting looking recipe. I'm almost afraid to try it but it does sound kind of good.

Pumpkin Hummus
1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup tahini paste
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
salt to taste

Drain the garbanzo beans, reserving the liquid. Place the beans and 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid into a blender, and puree until a smooth paste forms. Add the pumpkin puree, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Cover and puree again until smooth. Use additional cooking liquid as needed to achieve a smooth consistency. Season to taste with salt.

He later told me he thought the Pumpkin Hummus wasn't that great, and thought it was too garlicky. He said he thinks "the next batch will come out better, a little less spicy, a little sweeter and more pumpkinier."


I'd love to find a good recipe for 60 Peppercorn Hummus that I buy at the grocery store. Yummy. I've thought about just throwing a bunch of cracked pepper into my home made hummus but I haven't tried it yet.

Update: Maybe this one for Peppercorn Hummus?

or this one for Roasted Garlic Hummus?

I'll let you know after I've tried them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Menu Plans

Not sure why I'm writing this down. I guess I was just thinking through my current way of eating and looking for ways to improve.

I've been trying to get more meat alternatives and more fruit and vegetables into my diet, and cut out as much processed foods as possible. The toughest thing is doing that when I'm tired, or busy. When I plan ahead, and shop properly, it's a lot easier to stay on track. Also, my family enjoys it when I make certain standards during the week and they are not always the best choices for me. We eat a lot of things made with burger so I've trying to replace beef with chicken or turkey for starters. I have also tried to replace regular pasta with whole wheat and often I will skip the wrap or the bread when the boys want to have soft tacos, burgers, or sloppy joes.

Things I've noticed.

When I was training, I ate about 55-60% carbs, 20-25% fat, 20-25% protein. Right now, in the off-season, I haven't paid a lot of attention to that balance but I doubt it's that far off.

To maintain my weight, I need to eat about 1400-1500 calories per day. If I eat extra to cover calories lost when working out, I have to be careful or I gain weight.

I would be happy if I could eat 1800-2000 calories a day because that's what I FEEL like eating.
Anything less than 2000 calories a day feels like deprivation.

Last summer when I was training hard for 8-10 hours a week, I could eat 'normally' (probably about 2000 calories a day) and not gain weight. To lose weight, I need to work out 30-60 minutes a day AND cut down on calories. To maintain my weight, I need to eat carefully and exercise regularly.

I find all of this very challenging but I have maintained a 20+ lb weight loss for over two years now. It's a constant battle.

So a typical day, when I'm being "good" looks like:

is always the same thing.

Yogurt, 1/4 c oatmeal, 1/2 oz walnuts, 1/2 banana or 1/2 cup mango.
Coffee with 2 sugar and cream

Snack- apple


- 1-2 pieces of fruit
- 2-3 raw veggies (carrots, peppers, snap peas most often)

Plus one of the following:
- turkey chili on brown rice (with veggies), 1/2 slice whole grain bread
- one of my filling vegetable/grain/bean soups
- whole grain crackers and hummous, tuna, cottage cheese, 1 oz cheddar
- big salad with a protein and a slice of whole grain bread

Snack - fruit, green tea

- 3-4 oz lean meat or alternate protein
-1/2 cup brown rice, whole grain pasta, sometimes 1/2 baked potato
- more raw veggies or salad with lemon juice or low fat dressing
- sometimes cooked veggies

dessert= fruit (blueberries or raspberries) with 1 piece dark chocolate
1 glass red wine.

- to eat blueberries, walnuts, kale, and other 'high nutrient' foods every day.
- olive oil only
- olive oil becel when I want butter
- strained plain yogurt instead of mayo on everything
- green tea, cold or hot
- low-glycemic carbs except after training

- white flour products
- processed junk food - chips, crackers, donuts....
- more than one cup of coffee a day (1 T creamo, 2 tsp sugar, can't stand it any other way)
- food high in fat
- food high in nitrates (processed meats, sausage etc)

- I drink chocolate milk and eat a lean turkey and veg sandwich. Depending on how hard the workout is, I will allow myself high-glycemic carbs at this point.

Easy Chicken Soup with Brown Rice

1 large chicken breast
garlic or garlic powder
salk and pepper
1-2 T olive oil

Chop 2-3 carrots, 2-3 celery, 1/2 onion
Could also add chopped mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes. snap peas....)
1 litre (1 quart?) chicken stock (or homemade or veggie or cubes...)
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown rice

(You could also add pasta or black beans or ?)


Chop one large chicken breast and brown with garlic powder, salt and pepper, (or diced garlic) in a little olive oil in a medium soup pot. Add chopped carrots, celery, onion, any other vegetable you want to add (mushrooms, peppers, diced tomato, snap peas...). Stir the mixtures to coat well and soften the vegetables. Scrape bits off the bottom. Stir in 1/4c -1/2c brown rice. Add 1 quart of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you simmer low, keep a cover on. If you cook higher, do not cover and add a bit more water as needed.

Check seasonings. Add oregano, basil, or thyme if you like.

You could make this with veg broth if you wanted.
Make about three 2 C servings.

Wheat Berry, Barley, and Tomato Salad

Taken from Canadian Living Eat Right Cookbook p.115

I made this and I like it for lunch on school days.

1 cup wheat berries (I had to buy bulgher wheat)
1 cup pot or pearl barley
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic(I only used one)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Rinse wheat berries, place in bowl. Cover with 2" water and soak for 12 hours., Drain
Stir into a pot of boiling salted water. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Stir in barley, cook covered another 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to large bowl.

Meanwhile cut tomatoes in half. Heat oil in skillet and cook tomatoes, vinegar, thyme, S&P until warm and softened, about 5 minutes. Pour over wheat / barley mixture. Toss well. Sprinkle with cut green onions and goat cheese.

Make 6 servings

Cal: 328
Pro - 7g
Carb - 52g
Fibre - 7g
Fat - 11 g (2g saturated)

* I think when I made this, I also added some diced red peppers to the final mix.