From The Cupboard

Every few months I challenge myself to only cook and eat what I already have on hand. Sometimes the challenge will be for a week, or two weeks, even a month. I love these challenges because it’s a great way to save money, be inventive, and use up stuff that’s been in my cupboards or freezer for quite a while.

I’ll usually allow myself to buy a few staples like eggs or onions if needed, but the goal is to be creative with the food on hand.

I think it’s about time for another “no shopping” challenge.

Let me see…What do I have to work with? I have lots of dried lentils, brown rice, and quinoa. I have canned peaches, various gluten free flours, hot dogs, eggs, copious amounts of homemade sauerkraut. Time to get creative!

Speaking of sauerkraut – that’s an awesome way to use up veggies that are past their prime. I recently made my mom a small batch of sauerkraut from a couple of partial heads of cabbage, a handful of sugar snap peas that weren’t very snappy, a few partial bags of carrots, a red onion, and a few cloves of garlic. I have a feeling it’s going to be delicious!

So how do you make delicious nutritious meals with limited ingredients? Seasoning is key. It’s amazing what salt and a few herbs or spices can do to transform seemingly boring ingredients.

When I do these little challenges, I tend to eat a lot of Asian or Mexican-style dishes. Beans and rice are nutritious and a cheap source of protein – and a bonus of dating the guy who owns Black Market Hot Sauce is that I always have hot sauce on hand!

Another type of meal I lean towards is breakfast food. Pancakes, muffins, french-toast-in-a-bowl… all things that I can scrounge up with the random flours in my cupboard.

Google Search is my friend when I’m trying to use up stuff. Who knew there were so many different ways to use lentils?! If I can come up with a falafel recipe that uses brown lentils – I’ll be in heaven!

Usually one of the first things I run out of during one of these challenges is fresh vegetables. I’ll normally “splurge” and buy some kale or spinach – something green that packs a powerful nutritional punch. If you don’t want to spend extra money but still wanted the health benefits and variety that fresh veggies provide – you can grow your own sprouts! I’m not talking about growing vegetables from the ground up (although that is also an option), I’m talking about soaking and sprouting grains over a few days to get that added healthy green goodness. Lentils and quinoa both work, as do countless other grains and seeds.

Cooking from the cupboard/freezer can be challenging, and at times frustrating – but I think it’s worth it! It’s a chance to save some money and reduce kitchen waste. It’s a great way to learn how to cook new dishes and discover new food combinations that you haven’t thought of before. And it will naturally pull you out of any cooking rut you may have been stuck in!

So what do you think? Is this something you would ever do? Want to get creative and join me in a “no shopping” challenge?

Shirataki Noodle Stir Fry with Over Easy Egg

Dinner last night was easy, fast, cheap and delicious. My favorite kind of meal! This dish is extremely versatile and only requires one key ingredient – Shirataki noodles! Never heard of them? Me either, until I started following the Trim Healthy Mama Plan a few years ago.

Shirataki noodles are pretty much miracle noodles!

  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free
  • Grain free
  • Zero carbs
  • Zero fat
  • Zero everything

Sounds to good to be true. Shirataki noodles (also known as Konjac/Yam/Glucomannan noodles) are traditional Japanese noodles made primarily from glucumannan, which is a water soluble fiber. Water soluble fiber =  I know what you’re thinking – zero everything means zero flavor too, right? That is true, but it also means they will take on any flavor you choose to give them!

I see a lot of recipes that recommend using Shirataki noodles in Italian style dishes. I prefer to use them primarily in Asian style dishes, since that’s where they originated. So, dinner last night was an Asian noodle stir fry with an over-easy egg on top! I didn’t have any meat in the fridge and I had very few vegetables – so I improvised! Zucchini, onion, dried seaweed, Shirataki noodles, a few sauces, and an egg. Together – a very cheap and satisfying meal.

The key to enjoying these noodles depends on how you cook them.

  1. Rinse
  2. Boil
  3. Dry roast

These three steps are important. When you open a package of Shirataki noodles, they have a strong fishy smell. This smell will disappear in the rinsing/boiling process.

Nearly any kind of meat or vegetable can be added to this dish. Be creative! Just cut everything small and consider cooking the meat separately and adding it at the end. I think a fried egg is a nice addition (and it was my only protein), but you can choose to use a different protein source instead.

As written – this recipe is an S if you are following the THM plan.

*Shameless advertisement warning* I used my boyfriend’s Chili Garlic Lime Hot Sauce for this recipe!

Here’s my recipe for Asian noodle stir fry – Enjoy!konjacnoodleswithfriedegg

Shirataki Noodle Stir Fry with Over Easy Egg

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15-20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients

  • 1(70z) package Shirataki Noodles
  • 1 medium zucchini – diced small
  • 1/2 onion – diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger – minced
  • Braggs Aminos or soy sauce
  • butter or coconut oil for frying
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Asian style hot sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) 1 Tbsp dried seaweed – soaked

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse Shirataki noodles in a colander under cold water for at least 1 full minute.
  3. Add noodles to boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. While noodles are boiling, preheat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat (do not add any oil or fat).
  5. Drain noodles well and add to frying pan. Dry roast for several minutes  until noodles are visibly dry and “squeak” when  stirred.
  6. Move noodles aside so there is space in the middle of the pan. Add a few tablespoons of butter or coconut oil to the center of the pan.
  7. Add diced onions and ginger and saute for a few minutes, until the color starts to change.
  8. Add a few more teaspoons of oil if needed and add the diced zucchini. Continue to saute and then stir to combine all ingredients.
  9. Add several splashes of Braggs Aminos and hot sauce and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  10. Drain seaweed and add to pan. Stir to combine and remove pan from heat.

To fry an over easy egg:

  1. Preheat a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add a small amount of butter or coconut oil and melt.
  3. Crack an egg gently into the pan and cook until the egg whites are opaque and the egg moves freely in the pan.
  4. Carefully flip the egg over and remove from the heat.

Serve stir fry with a drizzle of sesame oil and a few extra drops of hot sauce. Top with the fried egg. Enjoy!

 

New Year, New Blog Post

It’s been almost a year since my last blog post. Ha ha! *cough* Sorry. That is going to change! The last year has been full of many changes. My computer died. I switched jobs and apartments. Went from regular internet access to buying coffee and borrowing a friends computer when I desperately needed to email anything longer than a paragraph. (Smart phones are only good for so much.) I just bought a new (refurbished) computer and my friend and I are sharing internet…one of the many perks of living next door to one of your best friends!

This year contained several other significant changes. Like I said, I changed jobs. I found my perfect play job! I get to cook at a place where I have the opportunity to spend my free time hiking during the summer and snowboarding or snowshoeing during the winter. Pretty much perfect! My co-workers aren’t half bad either. Actually, they’re pretty awesome 🙂

Other changes… One of my best friends had a BABY and I moved next door to her and her adorable little son. It’s so much fun! Because my work takes me out of town all the time it is incredible to know I’m coming home to two people who are always excited to see me.

Work has been crazy busy this year and since two of my jobs take me out of town pretty often, I haven’t been able to make it to my home church regularly. That’s been the hardest part of my “perfect job”. Thankfully, when I’m traveling for my catering job, I am able to go to my parents church or some other church in the area where I’m working! I’m pretty sure I’ve been to my parents church more often during the last few months than I have to my own church. I’m extremely thankful for a church family that calls to check up on me when they haven’t seen me in a while! I’ll be there this Sunday!

Here’s to friends, and church family, and family family. Here’s to change, and new beginnings, and fresh starts. Here’s to a whole new year!

For the Love of Cooking

There’s something about it…

The sharp stinging smell of freshly crushed garlic.

The satisfying connection as a sharp knife effortlessly slices through a ripe tomato.

The sizzle-pop as diced onions hit a pan coated in hot oil and the mouth watering smell that follows as they slowly caramelize in the heat.

The rainbow of colors that can be in an omelet pan or a shrimp salad.

Everything about cooking – I love!