Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Vitamix Salad Series: Strawberry Spinach Salad

It's finally strawberry season so I decided to try out this classic picnic recipe. Nothing makes spinach taste good like fresh strawberries!

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt

Dump ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7, then blend for 20 seconds. Serve with baby spinach, chopped fresh strawberries, and almonds.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: We used to have this in the summer at the peak of strawberry season. I remember eating this recipe at a friend's BBQ because it was the first time I ever had spinach that I liked! I don't know if the dressing would be that good with any other combination. This was the perfect blend of fruity, sweet, and leafy crunch!

Dislikes: Again, the vinegar is a little overwhelming. Since I only had apple cider vinegar, I'd probably use white if I had it. 

Nutrition score: 9/10
Spinach is a superfood full of vitamin K and it's really good for your brain, your eyes, and your bones. Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C. The sugar content of the dressing isn't ideal, but it's preferable to fatty ranch or creamy italian dressings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Faux Fried Zucchini

Maybe I should make this blog, 100 ways to use Fiber One breadcrumbs! We used to have garden fresh zucchini in the summers, sauteed in a pan with oil and breadcrumbs. Even though it was one of the only ways I would eat this green summer squash, I know that frying vegetables don't necessarily make them good for you. Since I always eat the crispy ones anyway, I tried popping them in the oven.

I used the same Fiber One mixture from the Faux Fried Chicken recipe:

I cut the zucchini into thin slices and drizzled them with olive oil. I then added a few shakes of Parmesan cheese and some salt to the breadcrumbs, dipped the zucchini in the mixture, and baked at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Some took longer to crisp than others depending on the thickness of the slice.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: This is even better than the oil drenched version, and that is a rare statement! Like I said, I always like the crispy ones, and the zucchini slices were perfectly golden brown. I had this as an after school snack, and I wasn't hungry hours later (probably because the combination of zucchini and the breading packs in a lot of fiber!).

Dislikes: I had to cook them in two rounds, because some burnt before others were fully done. But lesson learned- I can't wait to make this again!

Nutrition score: 10/10

Zucchini is full of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and folate. It's also low in calories and sugar. Aaand I paid a grand total of $0.52 for one zucchini. What's not to love?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coming soon...

Olive oil and parmesan sautéed asparagus

Oven baked onion rings

I have officially added onions to my list of eatable vegetables. Asparagus was on sale this week so I grabbed a bunch and wondered if it would share the same fate. Vitamix lovers, you are in luck!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Healthy Tips I've Learned So Far Part I

No, I don't eat all my meals from the Vitamix (just the vast majority!). Here are a few healthy eating tips I've learned since starting this journey:
  • You can still eat sugary cereal.
    I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I could eat it for every meal. The only problem is, there just isn't that much nutritional value. That's where Fiber One cereal comes in. It has almost half of the fiber your body needs for the day! Fiber One cereal tries really hard not to taste like cardboard...But it does. A mix of 1/2 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 1/2 cup Fiber One satisfies your belly and your taste buds. What a sweet compromise! 
  • Green tea doesn't have to taste like plants.
    There's nothing better than a cup of hot tea. And green tea is really good for you. Unfortunately, I think it tastes like someone boiled freshly mowed grass. Then I discovered citrus and peach flavored green tea. So what did I do with the entire box of plant flavored green tea I bought? I didn't waste it! I just boiled two cups and added a raspberry black tea bag to the green tea bag.

    Hot chocolate is a good source of calcium.
    I never understood those diet hot chocolate mixes. They're full of strange chemicals and you have to make it with water. Gross! In Buenos Aires, I used to order "submarinos," which are cups of hot milk with a small bar of chocolate at the bottom. Now I throw a few chocolate chips into a mug of skim milk, heat it in the microwave, and enjoy my low cal, calcium rich hot chocolate.

  • Fries can be healthy. I've always had problems making sweet potato fries crunchy. They just don't like to get crisp without being fried or rubbed with oil. I learned that if you cut them into thin strips, and quickly spray with Pam, they'll brown at 425 degrees in 20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. And make sure they're separated. Sweet potato fries do not like to be huddled together!

    Veggies taste good if you don't know they're there. Even if it were slathered in cheese, I would not eat cauliflower. The texture, the taste, the smell- it literally makes me gag. But I discovered that adding steamed cauliflower to smoothies makes for a creamier texture. And because sweet fruit (like pineapple or peaches) mask the taste, it's like I'm not eating vegetables at all! I can mix in equal parts cauliflower and fruit without noticing!

    Spinach pesto pizza

    I bought whole wheat naan and hummus a while ago, and my naan is starting to get a little hard. I didn't want to waste it because it's really good, so I popped it in the oven with baby spinach, onion, Vitamix pesto and some shredded mozzarella. Presto! Spinach Pesto Pizza! Definitely a perfect 10. Let's just say we had some Pizza Hut leftovers in the fridge and I opted for this instead:

    The Vitamix Salad Series: Peach Basil Vinaigrette

    Last time I tried making salad dressing, I made massive amounts of it. I ate salad with raspberry vinaigrette for a month. So now that I polished off the last of it, this time I'm going to cut the ingredients by a TON. Romaine lettuce was on sale this week, so I'll be experimenting with different salad dressings in the Vitamix Salad Series. Since frozen fruit was also on sale, first up is peach basil vinaigrette!

    2 T olive oil
    2 T apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp honey1 frozen peach (5-6 slices)
    4 basil leaves

    Dump ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7, then blend for 20 seconds. Serve with lettuce, chopped carrots, and almonds.

    Taste score: 7/10
    Likes: Refreshing and light! I've never seen peach dressing in stores, and I'm sure if it exists, it's probably gourmet and expensive. The basil was left over from the pesto sauce recipe. The combination was interesting and tasty.

    Dislikes: Although it was good, I couldn't really taste the peach as much as I would have liked. The vinegar was overwhelming. Next time I'll just do 1 tablespoon vinegar. 

    Nutrition score: 8/10
    Peaches are a good source of fiber and vitamin A. Apple cider vinegar is very low in calories, and the olive oil has heart healthy fats.