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?

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Satisfying Salmon and Kale

At this time of year, all I want to do is hibernate and drink copious amounts of creamy coffee. Christmas and New Years are past and the cold has officially set in here in the NW. Instead of embracing the grumpy bear persona – I should be taking brisk walks and eating delicious healthy fats and life-giving leafy greens.

Ha ha! Let’s not get too crazy now. One step at a time. Food first, walk later…maybe.

So the real question is: What’s for dinner? Answer: Baked salmon and wilted kale!                 Stay with me. It tastes better than it sounds.          Bake some salmon. Rip up some greens and add a little flavor. Enjoy! It really is that easy.

Wild salmon and kale are both considered super foods! Together they are full of iron, calcium, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, and vitamins D, B12, B6, B3, K, A, and C. I’m not even mentioning all of the other crazy nutrients salmon and kale contain.

I love salmon because it is just so satisfying and filling. And I love kale because I’m a little weird and I like the strong, deep, green flavor it has. I also like the fact that kale doesn’t disintegrate and get slimy the way spinach does when it’s cooked for longer than a minute.

20151231_175230This dish is so simple it doesn’t really need a recipe, but I’ll give you one anyway. This is a perfect deep S meal if you follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

But first, a few notes from my inner food/health nerd. Some vitamins, including A and K, are fat-soluble – meaning our bodies rely on the presence of fat to properly absorb them. Iron can only be properly absorbed when paired with vitamin C (found in vinegar), and calcium requires vitamin D (found in salmon). When you compare the nutrients found in these two super foods – you find a match made in heaven. You can find links to more detailed explanations at the bottom of the post.

Now the recipe!

Baked Salmon with Wilted Kale

  • Servings: 1+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • salmon filet
  • fresh kale – 1-2 large leaves per person
  • salted butter
  • vinegar of choice (flavored, rice wine, apple cider, etc.)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Braggs Aminos or soy sauce

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Place salmon (skin side down) in an oven safe pan and dot generously with butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until the flesh flakes apart easily with a fork. Remove from oven. While salmon is baking, prepare the kale. Begin by washing thoroughly and shaking off excess water. Remove the tough center core from each leaf and cut or rip remaining greens into large bit size pieces. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat and toss in kale pieces. Stir to heat evenly and continue to cook until kale is slightly wilted. A couple of tablespoons of water can be added if necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Pile wilted kale on a plate and drizzle with a few splashes each of vinegar, sesame oil and aminos. Top with a serving of salmon and enjoy!

Reference Links

The Healthiest Way to Eat Kale

Salmon Nutrients

Nutrient Absorption of Spinach (sharing because it’s similar to kale)

Do you have a favorite way to eat salmon or kale? I’d love to find some new ways to enjoy these super foods!

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
  • 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!