Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smart Fart Granola

So last weekend I realized that I would be extremely busy this week. Between group presentations, training for a run, being nice and cooking for others, a show on thursday night (which was really fun), and pulling a concert out of my ass on Friday, my food blog seemed really trivial. Although, last weekend I was smart enough to "check myself, lest I wreck myself," and make food ahead for the week.

Story behind the name is this: My mother comes up with the funniest things on the planet sometimes. You know Smart Start Cereal? Well, it makes you pretty gassy--all good cereals do! Thats how you know it works! But be careful, if you don't usually eat a lot of fiber, and you start downing granola as easily as I have, your body can have a more gaseous reaction than you want. It is okay to slowly introduce it into your system, but try not to eat it twice a day at first.
For nutrition factor, the big one here is fiber and all the health benefits from whatever nuts you decide to put in it! Also, the antioxidant power of dried cherries and nutrients from raisins will give you a super-boost. I felt bad about the stick of butter though, so if you want, do half a stick of butter and 5 Tbls vegetable oil. Also, if you want to use ALL honey instead of honey and brown sugar, that is an option. (Try using Agave nectar too. I need to get me some of that, but it is expensive).
Which reminds me, this is a pretty expensive thing to make but here are some tips:
-Buy your dried fruits and nuts at Trader Joes (so much cheaper) 
-Buy store brand oats 
-Buy the cheapest honey (honey is honey no matter what, but the taste usually gets better as the price goes up. Don't be fooled by a neat package!)
-If you can't find wheat germ (like me) use something like "Scottish oats" I found those at the "Greenwise" section at Publix.

Smart Fart Granola
4 c rolled oats
1-2 c chopped walnuts
1 c sliced almonds
1 c wheat germ or Scottish Oats
1-2 c dried fruits (I like cherries, craisins and raisins)
3/4 c sunflower seeds
For the stick stuff:
1 stick unsalted butter (or half oil-half butter)
1/2 c honey or agave
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
cinnamon + whatever spices you like!

1. Put first 6 ingredients into a LARGE mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a small saucepan, melt butter, sugar and honey together. Add the vanilla, almond extract and spices. Let it come to a boil and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. (mixture should look like the beginning stage of caramel)
3. Pour mixture over oats and stir well. Place on a greased or lined cookie sheet and press the mixture down tight. Bake for 10 minutes only--mixture will not be browned. Let it cool for 15 minutes. (when I took my granola out, only the edges and top of the mixture was clumped. So if you want more clumps, take out the already made clumps, repress the mixture into the pan, and have a second go. 10 minutes in the oven, then 15 cooling) Repeat if necessary, but try not to cook the fruit, it gets a bit hard and gross!
4. Eat with yogurt or milk, or on its own!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On a Whim Banana Pudding

After much deliberation, I have decided to omit the "Total Tally" for most of my posts. It is incredibly time consuming and not completely accurate. I will however have some suggestions as to how you can cut costs.
That being said, this past week was Spring break and I have been in and out of Atlanta for the past week, so the time I've had to cook was limited. Desperate for something to occupy my time off from school work this morning, I rummaged around in my pantry....I found some sugar free pudding, old 100 calorie packs, nuts, and bananas. All I ever needed for some home cookin'!
So I got everything together and went to work! If you have random things lying around, try combining them, you might be surprised in what you can come up with.
I threw the cookies on the bottom of the pan (those chocolate oreo ones would be good too, maybe with a different pudding), chopped up some walnuts, threw them on top. Then I sliced a couple bananas and put them on top of the "crust" layer.
Finally, make your pudding, 2 c milk, sugar free banana pudding mix, maybe add some vanilla. This is where you can get creative. I would have added vanilla had I had any and I also thought about putting a top layer of white chocolate pudding. (Sometimes I find the banana pudding TOO banana-y so maybe try leaving out a bit of the banana mix and adding a vanilla or white chocolate pudding to substitute.) 
Now, I didn't take a picture, but I found a way to sneak some chocolate in. I grated, or finely chopped, some super dark chocolate right on top of the bananas. It was like chocolate snow....mmmmm....! But if you use dark chocolate with a 60-80% cocoa, you will get the most nutrients. Bananas--loaded with potassium! Walnuts--omega 3 fatty acids; they help keep your skin and hair healthy! As for pudding and 100 calorie cookies, you can figure that one out.


Banana Pudding
1 pkg banana pudding mix
2 c milk
20 small cookies (Nilla wafers are the BEST!)
handful of nuts (optional)
dark chocolate (optional)
vanilla (optional)

1. Follow directions on the box for making the pudding.
2. Layer ingredients in ANY WAY YOU WANT!
3. Cover and store in refrigerator.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spinach and Feta Frittata

My new go-to meal is the Frittata. I usually make it when I have forgotten to thaw out a protein for dinner or lunch.

It is pretty simple to make, and you can customize it however you like! Chopped ham would be yummy too!
I added spinach for its nutrients and flavor. Spinach, along with those fruits and veggies high in Vitamin A like carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mangoes, guavas, kale, and pumpkin, are excellent for people with acne. As David Grotto states in his book 101 Optimal Life Foods, "Six to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day will keep acne away. These same vegetables also support your liver's detoxification ability" (25).


Spinach and Feta Frittata
6 eggs
3/4 package frozen chopped spinach
1/4 c milk
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
Feta cheese
salt & pepper

1. Chop the garlic. Sprinkle with salt and mash with the side of your knife to make a paste. Slice the onion. In a small pan, sautee onions with salt, pepper, and olive oil on medium heat. As the onions start to get softer and brown, add a splash of water. Do this every couple of minutes until you get the consistency that you want (I made them soft, easy to cut with a fork). Then add in garlic paste to slightly cook it.
2. Thaw the spinach in the microwave (about 6 minutes) then place in a couple paper towels and squeeze it until most of the excess moisture is out. Meanwhile, heat a large, oven-proof pan on medium and turn on your oven broiler to a high setting (about 425). In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk with milk. 
3. Thoroughly spray the pan with cooking spray. Add the onions and spinach to the egg mixture, season with salt and pepper, then pour into the pan. Using a rubber spatula, stir the eggs around a bit until they start to set. Turn down the heat a little bit as not to brown the bottom. Run the spatula around the edge of the frittata as it is cooking so it does not stick.
4. Let the frittata cook on the stove until most of the eggs are set. Place pan under the broiler until all eggs are cooked. Slice into thirds and top with Feta cheese.
(good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)

eggs= 1.59 carton =.79 (for 6 eggs)
feta= about 3-5
half onion=.74

Total Tally= $3.00* (for whole frittata)

*prices based on individual ingredients, not the whole package they come in.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Cure-All

No matter how long your week is planned to be, or how long it ends up being, you are always glad it's over. Tuesday night hit me like a sack-uh-potatoes. Sore throat, slight aches, and FATigue. Probably cause school closed before I could get to the gym.
Here's my home remedy for any ailment. It might already be yours, but I modified it a smidge.

Some health benefits: lemon is said to help aid in digestion (it also tastes really yummy, ginger is believed to cut through congestion by opening nasal passages and lungs, and honey soothes the throat. Also, ginger helps settle the tummy. Overall, just a lovely, comforting thing to drink.
I could drink this every day.

Cure-All Tea
2 bags Sleepytime Tea (it has chamomile and other good things, your favorite mild tea will work)
2 c water
1/3 lemon
fresh ginger (size of your thumb depending on how much you like it)

1. Either in the microwave or on the stove, heat water until it boils. Add tea bags and steep.
2. Cut a third of the lemon, from the end, and take out sections. (I cut mine like a grapefruit to remove very small sections of the lemon.) Slice large pieces of the lemon zest, avoiding the white parts. Peel ginger, finely cube or coin it. For a bigger ginger flavor, grate over a micro-plane. You might want to strain the tea if you do this. Add all and Steep for another minute.
3. Strain this mixture (possibly leave behind the lemon sections or slice a piece for garnish) and stir in honey. You may want to re-heat it.

lemon= .50
ginger=5 something a lb (who would buy that much ginger?) =.50
honey= <.25
tea bags= 3-5 depending on brand= .50

Total Tally= $1.75

Also, if you have a ton of drainage/phlegm try mixing water, a couple capfuls of apple cider vinegar, lemon, honey. Heat and stir. It may taste funny, but boy does it work!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Class is Canceled Hot Chocolate

So, in my 9:30am class, there are two tall windows that flank each side of the south wall. Although I sit on the other side of the classroom, it was quite apparent to me that it began to snow at approximately 9:45 am. Of course I follow the weather but had not expected it to snow (for it had been raining throughout the night) and it wasn't very cold. Anyway, I then went to my 11:00 class, still snowing, not sticking, but slushing....
Someone in my English class said something about hot chocolate. I was immediately filled with warmth and excitement. When did I have hot chocolate last? I vowed to make it when I got back to the apartment.
(view from apartment)

Luckily, my roommate and her friend were already in the apartment and I had someone to share my brilliant idea with. Hot chocolate is so much better when you share it with other people!
Now, I know you can probably buy hot chocolate packets for cheaper than you can make it from scratch, but trust me, it is SO worth it! Now, I know that what I present you with should be healthy, but you are allowed to have these things in moderation. Especially when it snows about 4 days out of the year! And this recipe is a little more in-depth than I'd normally allow, but honestly, it's fun!
So chocolate is good for your skin and (if it is high in cocoa and low in sugar and fats) it is probiotic, which promotes bacteria growth for a healthy bowel. Yes, I went there, but it's true. Also, I used milk, so maybe argue the fact that you need your daily calcium...and dairy.
Also, I added delicious spices. Which brings me to another point: spices and extracts are expensive. If you start investing in basic spices, it will pay off. Cinnamon! This basic spice is pretty versatile, and it will "spice up" things like coffee, hot chocolate, and even chili! (Cinnamon and chocolate in chili is great!) Also vanilla and almond extracts, cocoa powder, garlic salt, chili powder, etc. I added ginger to this recipe because once I made a ginger-chocolate cake and it was the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth.
Luckily my roommate said, "OMG I have a huge thing of dark chocolate we can use!" 
If you don't have dark chocolate, you can use something like baking chocolate and maybe chocolate chips; chocolate chips usually have wax to make them harden when cooled. But since this is HOT chocolate, you shouldn't have any problems with that. (Keep in mind that dark chocolate has a higher cocoa percentage [60%-80%] which makes it "healthier." This means it has less milk, fat, and other products.) But when worse comes to worse, and a random blizzard of snow comes through your area, whatever you have lying around is good. 

Class is Canceled Hot Chocolate
3-4 c milk
1/4-1/3 c cocoa powder
4-5 oz dark chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 drops almond extract
sprinkling of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
sprinkling of ginger (optional)
pinch salt

1. Start with a medium sauce pan on low-medium heat. Do not boil. Add milk, spices, salt, extracts, and cocoa powder. Whisk together. Let the milk heat up, but not bubble.
2. If you used all of the spices above, you might want to run the mixture through a fine coffee filter. Otherwise the spices will give the hot chocolate a weird texture and may float on top.
3. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and whisk into warm milk mixture until melted. 
4. Serve with marshmallows if you want.

notice: I didn't have exact prices for these items, so what I found on the internet is what I used. Some items may have been guesstimated--but you may already have these things so your budget will be smaller.
cocoa powder= 2.50 (for 8 oz container)= .45
milk= .88 (for 4 c)
vanilla= 3 (for smaller container) = .20
almond= '' =.20
spices= ~3 each, so =.10 (all combined)

Total Tally: about $2.00