Thursday, December 5, 2013

Breakfast Sandwich

Quick, easy, healthy. What could be better?

1 egg + 1 egg white
1 oz diced meat (ham, smoked turkey, spicy sausage)
1/2 oz shredded cheese
2 slices bread

 In a microwavable container that is approximately the size and shape of the bread you are using, whisk the egg.
 Add meat and cheese. Because these are both salty, don't add any salt, but do consider other spices like pepper or curry. You can also add up to 1/2 cup leftover cooked vegetables. Raw diced bell peppers are also nice if you like some crunch.
 Microwave on high heat for 1 minute. Check if done - bottom center solidifies last so a clear container is nice so you can see. Cook up to 1 minute more. If you are adding frozen ingredients or vegetables, it may take 2 mintues total. Let sit for 1 more minute to finish cooking.
Invert your egg patty onto your bread (plain or toasted) and enjoy.

Cost: Fall 2013    $0.60

 Nutrition: 330 calories, 30 carbs, 26g protein, 650 mg sodium, 18% DV calcium, 14% DV Iron. (Compared to a commercial egg muffin, this has similar calories, but equivalent of 1 ounce more protein, 120mg less sodium and 3 g more fiber.)

Convenience Tip: I bought some portion cups at a restaurant supply store. I pre-portion the meat and cheese and freeze them for later. These can be washed and re-used several times.

Nutrition Tip: 2 egg whites in place of 1 whole egg saves 32 calories from fat with 2g more of protein.

 Nutrition Tip: Another way to increase flavor while decreasing fat is to add your own sausage seasonings to lean ground chicken, turkey or pork. As a compromise, cook your favorite spicy sausage with an equal amount of lean meat to cut fat in half.

Crustless Quiche

One of my first nutrition blog post was the recipe for an appetizer called "Spinach Squares" which I now make all the time as a crustless quiche with endless variations.

 Non-stick vegetable spray
3 eggs or 6 egg whites or 3/4 c egg substitute
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup non-fat milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 packages (10 oz each) frozen spinach, thawed & drained*
1/3 cup minced onion.
 * can substitute 4 cups of any cooked, diced or minced vegetables for the spinach & onion

Heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Mix in flour, milk, salt & baking powder. Add cheese, spinach and onion. Spoon into baking dish and bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into 12 squares

 Nutrition information: 144 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 10g protein, 8g Fat, 480 mg sodium, 90% DV of vitamin A and 24% DV Calcium. (lower fat and calories with egg whites or subs)

 Cost: Fall 2013 pricing     $6.29/recipe, $0.52 per serving

Lower Sodium:  Reduce or omit the salt.  Reduce the amount of cheese.  Buy lower sodium cheese.  Then increase the flavor by adding fresh herbs with the vegetables or try spices like curry powder.

Flavor:  Change the cheese:  by using strongly flavored cheeses you can use less, saving both sodium and calories.  Add herbs:  parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage are all great in this.  Vary the veg: onions, mushrooms, cooked greens, chopped broccoli, last night's leftovers.  Add some meat:  1/4-1/2 cup diced finely just to add flavor.  In addition to traditional "breakfast" meats, consider smoked salmon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Healthy on a Budget Challenge

One of my greatest frustrations as a dietitian is when people tell that they can't eat healthy because "it costs too much."  Hogwash.  My daughter K has agreed to help me prove my point.  She is in her first apartment and now realizes that her lack of interest in mom's effort to teach her to cook has left her with a repertoire of 3 dishes.

I designed a 2 week menu for 1-2 people.  In many cases, it reflects the preferences of the menu tester more than the nutrition goals of her mother.  It does require several hours of cooking on the day that you shop, but then the rest of the time it's mostly  assembly and reheating.  They can be eaten in any order desired.  However, anything not to be eaten within the first 3 days should get moved to the freezer.

Oatmeal with Spiced Apples*
Egg Sandwich*
Eggs Benedict*

Lunches (most need to be cold/non-reheat for work)
Ranch Chicken Wrap*
Chicken Sandwich, carrot sticks
BBQ Chicken Sandwich  with lettuce & carrot slaw *
Chicken Pasta Salad *

Baked Chicken, Baked Potato, Green Beans *
Clam Chowder, Toast or Biscuits *
Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons *
White Chicken Chili, Toast *
Chicken Noodle Soup *
Bean & Rice Burritos *
Chicken Quesadilla *
Chicken a la King *
Chicken Rice Bowl *

*Recipes and Posts to follow

I assumed (and was mostly correct) that she had NOTHING to start with.  My first buy was about $110 which included $23 of staples and storage, $25 of foods of basics that would be covered by WIC vouchers for those who would qualify and the remaining being $48 Nutrition Bargain Foods, $8 special ingredients and $7 bakery outlet bread.

Our first round of cooking included:
roasted chicken
baked potatoes
clam chowder
pre-prep of cheese, ham, caramelized onions, cinnamon sugar, pumpkin  pie spice sugar
ranch flavored croutons

and once the chicken cools down: homemade chicken stock

Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Final Tic Tac Recipe

Just when you thought the foolishness was over, I decided to post one last Tic Tac Recipe.  Truth be told, I did all of the recipes on my day off but thought y'all might be too overwhelmed absorbing them all at once.

I've never had any luck doing a brine for chicken.  I tend to forget I was brining and when I remember it's a salt lick.  These were chicken thighs that I put in a brine solution that was 1 cup orange tic tac simple syrup, 1/4 cup salt and a quart of water.  After 5 hours in the brine, I patted them dry and added the dry rub that I put on the lamb.  They then were baked at 350 for about 25 minutes and served with mashed potatoes and a big salad.

The brine did keep the chicken very moist.  There was a very faint orange Kool-aid type of flavor which was neither offensive nor awe inspiring.  The cardamom was very subtle...which frankly is a hard thing to do with cardamom since it has such a strong flavor.

I lost interest before I made anything with the green apple or wintergreen Tic Tacs.
Would I ever make any of these again?  Well, I would put cardamom in a muffin again.  I would also use the ground tic tacs as a sugar sprinkle on top of muffins or to rim a glass for a fancy drink.   Pardon me while I toddle off to make an orange-tic-tac-rimmed pineapple juice spritzer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tic Tac Soup

Squash Soup

1 large onion, diced
1 med butternut squash, diced
2 med apples, diced
1 cup mint tic tac simple syrup
1 quart chicken broth
cream (optional)

Caramelize onions in a small amount of olive oil.  Add other ingredients.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes until tender.  Puree.  Serve topped with cream.

We tried adding a little more mint syrup or some crushed tic tacs at the end on a couple samples, but it didn't really make it taste and better and reduced the chances of leftovers being eaten.


3 c whole grain pancake mix
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 c orange tic tac simple syrup
orange tic tac powder

Combine all but the tic tac powder.  Pour into greased jumbo muffin tins.  Sprinkle the batter with the tic tac powder.  Bake 15-20 min.  Makes 5 muffins.

Alternatively, use your favorite muffin recipe.  I just had some pancake mix that no one at my house was eating.  Because it had been in the cupboard for ages, I did add an extra tsp of baking powder to make sure they rose.  

The squash soup turned out alright - could have been thinned with some broth.  Family rating was an 8.  The mint flavor was undetectable.  The muffins were a 9.5.  We all liked them.  Only thing keeping it from a perfect 10 is that the orange flavor tastes just like Tang rather than like oranges.

Monday, March 4, 2013

TicTac Lamb

One of my first ideas for Tic Tacs was to somehow pair it with lamb since mint jelly is a traditional accompaniment to lamb.  I'm probably automatically disqualified from the challenge on this one since I didn't have lamb at home, but here it is anyway. 

I ground up some of the Freshmint (white) tic tacs and gathered some spices for a dry rub.

Lamb Dry Rub

1 tsp freshmints tic tac powder
1 tsp powdered cumin
1 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom

Lamb is surprisingly hard to find around here and the only thing I could afford was a shoulder cut with bones.  I figured it would be similar to ribs, so I baked it at low heat (250 F) for about an hour and a half. 

I made a bbq sauce with equal parts of catsup and simple syrup made with freshmint tic tacs.  If you missed it, process for making the tic tac simple syrup is on this post

As for rating this recipe, the flavor was amazingly good and rated about a 9 from my family.  The spice rub was no surprise, but the fact we liked a mint bbq sauce was a shocker.   The cut of lamb I bought was all bones and made it impossible to eat dropping the overall rating to about a 7.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment:  Mint Butternut Squash Soup and Orange Tic Tac Muffins.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Joe's Pomegrateless Exotic Pomegranate Chicken

This is the mess that I've already made this morning. We couldn't find pomegranate juice at the store so I substitued the lemon juice that I already had in the fridge. Now it will marinate for 6 hours and then I'll go to the next step. Still haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the tangerines.

If nothing else I'll add them as sides along with the salad.

Challenge Complete

By Joe:

Since the rules required, for the most part,for me to create our meal with items available at the time that the challenge was accepted, I had to substitute some ingredients

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander*
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de provence**
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bottle lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

* I don't have coriander so I looked up a substitute for coriander (see next post)

** I don't have herbes de prvence so I looked up a substitute for herbes de provence (see next post)

1. Mix the cumin, coriander, herbes de provence, black pepper and cajun spices together in a small bowl. Place the chicken and garlic in a bowl; sprinkle about 2/3 of the spice mixture over the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken to a resealable plastic bag. Pour in the lemon juice. Seal and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (it should have be 12 hours but I didn't have time).

2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season with the remaining spice mixture and salt. Coat with olive oil, then arrange the chicken in a large baking dish in one layer.

3. Preheat oven to 350degrees. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees, depending on how hot and even your oven cooks will determine the amount of time it takes

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Margie's Challenge

I don't have any cooking photos to upload right now so I thought that I would upload a picture of my wife and I.  This is to give Margie and the dear reader the correct impression that I'm a gentle soul.  Please take it easy on me.  I feel that I'm the Washington Generals vs. Margie's Harlem Globetrotters. 

Having written that, I do have somewhat of a plan to respond to Margie's cooking challenge.  I found a recipe on that I'm going to adapt.  The recipe is Exotic Pomegranate Chicken (  It doesn't look very exotic but I'm going to do the best that I can.

Thank you so much Margie for allowing me to post on your blog.  Please don't slamdunk directly over my head.  That's just going to be embarrassing to me.   

Friday, March 1, 2013

TicTac Cardamom Challenge 1


1/4 c Orange Tic Tac Simple Syrup*
Juice of 1 mandarin orange (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup club soda
Orange Tic Tac powder for rim

* Simple Syrup

1 oz package of orange Tic Tacs
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
20 small cardamom pods
zest of 1 mandarin orange

Bring all but the zest to a boil, stirring constantly.  Simmer 1 min. Remove from heat and add zest.  Cover and let sit for 1 hour.  Strain before using.

 I had a cute spiral of orange rind but it defrosted and unwound before I figured out the perfect set up for photos.  Time to work on my food stylist skills.  The TicTac powder was made by whizzing them in a spice grinder.

I cut the "twist" from the mandarin, then used a microplane to take the rest of the rind off before I cut it in half and squished the juice out.  I used the still-juicy rind for the liquid to rim the glass.

Time for me to scoot and make a tic tac brine for chicken.

New Food Challenge

I issued a challenge to my friend Joe:

"I am issuing you a cooking challenge. If you accept, you have 1 week to make a meal that includes at least 4 of the 6 ingredients pictured (shrimp, bell pepper, pomegranate, mushrooms, salad greens, tangerine/manadrin). You may purchase the challenge ingredients but the rest of the meal needs to be items in your house at the time the challenge is received. The meal must include all the food groups (meat, milk, fruit, veg, grain). After you post your meal and recipes, you can issue a return challenge. I will post my meal and recipes from these ingredients after you do. Interested?"

My meal turned out like this:

Pilaf: 1 onion diced, 5 mushrooms diced sauteed in olive oil. Add 1/2 head of broccoli diced and 2 cups of leftover cooked barley. Cook until barley is warm and broccoli is tender. S&P to taste.

Shrimp marinade: juice of 1 lime, powdered ginger, powdered garlic. Sauteed in 1 T olive oil 2-3 min. 

Salad dressing: 4 oz cherry pomegranate greek yogurt + 3 T rice vinegar.

Stay tuned for more.  He complained that the only thing he had in the house was Tic Tacs and Cardamom.  I accepted the challenge.