Friday, October 25, 2013

Low-Carb Chili Experiment

Low-carbing is hard. I'm not gonna lie.

There are days I dream of french fries and pasta and pizza and Chinese takeout.

Okay, so maybe the pizza becomes a reality pretty often on the weekends.. but everyone's allowed a little cheat day every now and then.

Somehow, I wound up with a relentless craving for a bowl of chili yesterday.

So I decided to experiment with some low-carb alternatives, even though regular chili isn't really that bad in the carb department.

Here's how it went.
To begin, I mixed some mushrooms, ground beef, diced onions, and diced peppers into a skillet set on medium heat.

I cooked the ground beef until it browned, and covered the skillet for a few minutes at a time so that the mushrooms would steam properly, stirring often. After the mushrooms had softened, I began cutting them into smaller pieces with the edge of the spatula.

After the ingredients had cooked for several minutes, I added a splash (or maybe a little more than a splash) of red wine for flavor. I waited another three minutes or so until the mixture heated up, stirring everything together, and then drained the liquid out of the skillet into the sink.
I found some lower sugar pasta sauce at the grocery store today. The light Ragu claims there is no sugar added, although the ingredients state otherwise. However, only 2 grams of sugar in half a cup of tomato sauce works well in the low-carb arena.

Okay, so the skillet goes back onto the stovetop, and I added in about 1/3 of the jar of tomato sauce (obviously you can add as much as you want, depending on the consistency you're looking for-- if you're looking to make more of a spaghetti sauce here, you'd want to add even more) and sprinkled some shredded mozzarella in just for a little more flavor.
And voilà.
(I'm a parmesan addict, so I added a sprinkle on top as well)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Uncommon Displays of Kindness

There's a story that has been in the news this week that has really struck a chord with me.
Two down syndrome students at a high school in Florida were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.
What an absolutely wonderful story.
It really gives you a sense of pride in that we, as Americans, still have the ability to be kind-hearted, loving human beings.  
But then, of course, the peanut gallery pipes up.
In the comments related to the article on the website, several people remark that we shouldn't have to highlight this as a top news story, simply due to the fact that these types of displays of kindness should be commonplace.
Sure, in a perfect society, this would be an everyday practice.
Everyone would be treated equally, and no one would judge others on the basis of their appearance.
We would all get along peacefully and the heavens would shine down upon us.
Apparently these naysayers are not familiar with the America of today.
The human condition is in no way a perfect, or even semi-perfect element.
This is not the America we knew back in the 1940's.
Our world is a terrifying reality where horrible things take place.
Where wars and profanity and constant bullying and terrorism and downright hate are the elements that comprise our modern society.
It's hard to watch the news these days. We're constantly being reminded of the overwhelming dangers and vulgarity that surround us in our lives.
So when something this wonderful takes place, as a direct result of the kindness of high schoolers nonetheless, it bears acknowledgement.
There is still good in this world.
With that said, it is important for us to focus in on the loving kindness that often goes unnoticed in our lives, and stop giving so much credence to the evil in this world.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

French Onion Stir-Fry

Ever since the institution of this "vegetable and chicken" diet a few weeks ago, I've discovered a new appreciation for cooking.

I love being able to take different types of vegetables and turn them into dishes that I actually enjoy eating.

My favorite is French Onion Stir-Fry.

There was actually a month-long span in college where a few of us would try our hand at cooking healthier alternatives to our usual pizza/fast food/junk food routine.

One night, after we had steamed up some vegetables, my friend had an idea.

"Let's just mix in a dab of french onion dip and see how it turns out."

Best. Idea. Ever.

I've been making this dish ever since, and it's been a hit every time I make it.

Now, if you don't like french onion dip, keep in mind you probably won't like this.

Otherwise, give it a go:

Heat up the frying pan to medium, add a package of mushrooms and some pre-cooked chicken strips (you can find packages of these chicken strips near the cold-cuts at the grocery store), and add in a little olive oil.

While the mushrooms and chicken begin cooking, chop up some onions, peppers, zucchini, squash, and broccoli. Sprouts are a good addition as well.

After about five minutes, add in the chopped up vegetables and be sure to stir well. Place a lid on the frying pan to allow the vegetables to steam. Continue to stir every few minutes until everything is properly cooked.
Add a dab of stir-fry sauce, mix it in, and give the vegetables another minute or so to cook without the lid. Then empty the vegetable mixture into a large container, add a dab or two of french onion dip, and stir well.
This meal is great when it is first cooked, and the leftovers are still great when heated up. I usually make this meal at dinnertime, and then will eat the leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. It's incredibly easy, very healthy, and unbelievably inexpensive!

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