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Inexpensive healthy food

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspired by another blog post to share some of my current eating habits.

I frequently buy the big family pack of boneless chicken breasts from Wegmans ($1.99/lb), and with kitchen scissors trim off the remaining bits of fat (those go in a container in the fridge for cat treats). As far as I can tell, Wegmans does not inject this chicken with extra saline.

Then I chop up the breasts with the scissors into manageable pieces and freeze them, in handfuls of pieces, in ziploc bags.

To use I dump the frozen raw chicken pieces into a microwave bowl with some water and cook 'em. Usually it takes about 3 minutes on high, then I poke them apart and cook for 3 more, often adding a can of "Light" soup (Campbell's and Progresso both make soups which have about 150 - 200 calories per can.) Or I just add actual vegetables and seasonings and make soup from scratch. If I have the time I lengthen the second cooking time to 10 or 15 minutes on medium power. The flavor is better and there is less risk of boiling over.

I like to buy these packages of salmon and keep 'em in the freezer. They're individually wrapped, which is convenient. I take one out when I arrive at work and it's usually thawed by lunchtime.

Then I fire up the toaster oven, spread foil on the tray, spray with some olive oil,

sprinkle salt-free lemon pepper, slap that fish on top, sprinkle with more lemon pepper, and broil for 5-10 minutes.

You can do the same thing with shrimp and you don't even have to thaw them first, although I sometimes do. You can also add shrimp to soups. It's one of the lowest-calorie lean protein sources out there.

Sometimes I just microwave the shrimp, stopping every few minutes to dump out the water and move the cold ones in the center to the outside.

Then I dip in Tabasco sauce as I eat them.

I also buy giant Hubbard squash (anywhere from 1-5 dollars each), drop them from chest height on the front stoop to break 'em open, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin-side down for about 3 hours at 350. The seeds go into the bird feeder where the blue jays enjoy them.

Sometimes I rinse the seeds and bake sprinkled with salt-free seasoning. It depends on how ambitious I feel and whether I want a high calorie snack sitting around or not.

When a fork goes in easily and there are lots of nice carmelized edges I scoop the flesh into microwave and freezer friendly containers and freeze them. One squash often yields more than 16 cups of actual food. I think the flavor is superior to other kinds such as butternut.

Then I microwave with seasonings (any kind of alt-free one works) or add a dollop to the chicken soup, above.

Sometimes for dessert I just take the squash cold, add some nutmeg and cinnamon and sugar substitute and mix it up. It tastes like pumpkin pie.

P.S. The absolute best tasting squash, in my opinion, is Buttercup.


I didn't mention it above because Hubbard is so much cheaper and tastes almost as good. I bake it the same way, but because it's smaller it takes more like 1-2 hours. They're small enough you can cut them open with a knife. Sometimes I'll bake half of one in the toaster oven for lunch. (No one else uses the toaster oven at work between breakfast and lunch so it's available.)

It was bred in North Dakota to replace sweet potatoes which don't grow there because it's too cold:

Yeager, A.F. and E. Latzke. Buttercup Squash: Its Origin and Use. Fargo, ND: Agricultural Experiment Station, North Dakota Agricultural College, 1932. Bulletin/North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station no. 258. 19 p. NAL 100 N813 no.258

In 1922 North Dakota researchers Yeager and Latzke undertook a squash breeding program that was initially focused on the Hubbard squash. Their aim was to develop a desirable variety that would take the place of the sweet potato, which had proved unsatisfactory in variety testing in the region. This report, issued ten years hence, describes the origin of the Buttercup variety, a small turban-shaped squash selected from an accidental cross of Quality and Essex Hybrid, and also considers growing methods and the variety’s cooking and food qualities. A good portion of the bulletin consists of general instructions for cooking and several dozen recipes (p. 13-19). With black-and-white photos, and bibliography (sources cited in footnotes).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIBBYGEO 3/24/2011 1:47PM

    Thanks for the tips! They are good ones!

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DDOORN 3/18/2011 11:28AM

    More ideas:


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KAZINMICH 3/17/2011 8:29PM

    What an Awesome blog!!! What great information on food, I am sooo going to try this.

I also buy the similar chicken - boneless, not injected, skinless. I also trim (for the pets) and always keep some cooked in the fridge, and some cooked in the freezer.

I have tried following my mother-in-laws some what instructions on cooking squash in the microwave, and it didn't work out.. so I am SO going to try this. and I also am very excited to feed the seeds to the outdoor animals!! They are going to be so happy!!!

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ALYFITN 3/17/2011 9:14AM

    I always get a lot out of your blogs--what great information.

I am a new fan of electric pressure cookers. I grew up in a home with a mom who used the stovetop kind and was always afraid it would blow up. But the electric kind is easier--and it cooks squash really fast for supper. I LOVE squash---all kinds.

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JESPAH 3/17/2011 6:53AM


So many people feel that a meal's not complete unless it's got beef in it.

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    sounds like YUM i love salmon

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SEYSARAH 3/17/2011 12:17AM

    Loved the squash ideas..and have wondered for years how one is supposed to get into a Hubbard squash..and then what..thanks so much...

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CARRIE1948 3/16/2011 6:47PM

    I buy teh same chicken and salmon. I also buy the tilapia just for a change

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ANNIEMAC_98 3/16/2011 4:29PM

    Great blog! I plan on trying these things! Thanks so much!

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CHBADILLO 3/16/2011 2:49PM

    Love your BLOG, great infomation! What's a Wegman's , a grocery store? We don't have any of those here. GREAT ideas I'm going to use, all but the squash, it's a texture thing. LOL

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ZENMIND7 3/16/2011 1:48PM

    Great ideas. Thanks!

I love your method of opening up the squash! -- "drop them from chest height on the front stoop to break 'em open" (Although I'm a little scared of the germs on my front stoop, even if the thing is going to get cooked at 350!)

I wish my work had a toaster oven.

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MRDPOLING 3/16/2011 1:42PM

    Very good! going to use some of your ideas too! Thanks for sharing!

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PATTICAN 3/16/2011 1:26PM

    I'm a big fan of butternut, but I'll have to check out this squash. Thanks for the heads up!

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DDOORN 3/16/2011 1:19PM

    We're big fans of stocking up @ Wegmans when their chicken is on sale...they seem to have better quality than most of the other stores.


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ROZELL99 3/16/2011 1:10PM

  Good suggestions, thanks!

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Crawled out of bed, and back into my boat...

Monday, March 14, 2011

I spent most of the past week in bed with a nasty cold. Seriously. Most days I didn't even change out of my pyjamas. When I had the energy I watched episodes of Farscape streaming from Netflix. Most of the time I slept.

The cats definitely seemed to appreciate me being around. So did the birds because I actually managed to fill the feeders later in the week.

It was awful lying there, knowing that the spring thaw had started and that I was trapped inside unable to paddle all those lovely creeks and rivers. Friends were posting all kinds of reports of awesome paddling runs, and also skiing, and a few did BOTH the same day. Watching science fiction characters go through adventures didn't help much, because *I* wanted to be the one out there, having adventures.

But Sunday I had enough energy to get my stuff together and go do a local creek run with a friend. Here's the trip report on American Whitewater:

It helped that the creek is only 30 minutes from my house.

I feel better today. Still coughing up some residue, but well enough to go to work and try Body Pump class tonight.

A friend got me started taking "Wellness Formula" that she swears boosts her immune system. www.amazon.com/Source-Natural
We'll see. I paid more than twice that at the local health food store, for only 180 pills. *sigh*

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYAKKIM 3/18/2011 6:59AM

    Glad you are healthier again and that you got out to paddle! I got my first spring paddle in yesterday!

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CARRIE1948 3/15/2011 11:13AM

    Glad you're feeling better. Let me know how the supplements work.

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DDOORN 3/15/2011 9:54AM

    It's so TOUGH when the spirit is willing but our bodies let us down!

Glad to hear it sounds like you've turned the corner!


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FRECKS96 3/15/2011 7:46AM

    Looks like an awesome ride! We truly have some great paddling in our area. Hope you're back to 100% soon!

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JESPAH 3/15/2011 6:34AM

    Oy. Feel bettah soon.

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WOLFKITTY 3/15/2011 1:13AM

    I hope you feel 100% really soon!!
Take care of you!!


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BUNPOH 3/15/2011 1:04AM

    I've been sick for days too! Hope you fully recover quickly!

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TERESALANFORD 3/14/2011 1:29PM

    glad to hear you are feeling better

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2003 calories burned in one day! For fun!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

897 cal xc skiing
485 cal snowboarding
400 cal snowboarding
148 cal snowboarding
73 cal shoveling the driveway at 2am after arriving home so I could get the car in

I haven't seen a number that high since I did a bike century last September!
(3278 that day)

I am happy to report that I can now get off the chair lift on the board most of the time without falling on my butt. LOL

Kinda tired today. Will probably just XC a little around the neighborhood (there is a state park at the end of the block), and then lead a kayak rolling session tonight. Nothing ambitious.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WOLFKITTY 3/15/2011 1:13AM

    Gorgeous, gorgeous gorgeous, WOW!!

Very cool.

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HOTRODSANDY 3/6/2011 6:50PM

    Awesome! Makes me tired just reading it. emoticon

Hoping to be able to do that much activity by next winter! You inspire me!

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TEENY_BIKINI 3/6/2011 6:31PM



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JUNESHOPE 3/4/2011 2:35PM

    Sounds fun...Enjoy the ride of life! emoticon

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    whoa sounds like you have had a massive day, the last time i did that was when we rode to Fremantle and back. Great fun though, i so envy you to be snow boarding! Thanks for dropping by my blog, I will have to live vicariously through your legs for now. I'm thinking about trying some nordic poles when I can do a bit more as its supposed to give you more of a workout than just walking. Have you ever tried it , i guess its like cross country skiing without the snow. I did try a bit of Langlaufing in switzerland once a long time ago.

You are my benchmark to aspire too love the red leather pants! emoticon

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KAYOTIC 3/1/2011 9:36AM

    emoticonYou Rock!

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SUNNY2010 2/28/2011 10:08PM

    Awesome!!!!!! emoticon

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FRECKS96 2/28/2011 11:03AM

    Woo Hoo!!! Congrats on a super fun day!

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JESPAH 2/28/2011 6:34AM

    2003 was a good year. :)

Great job!

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DDOORN 2/27/2011 6:43PM

    Whew...! No one can incinerate those calories like YOU do when you get out there & have fun in the snow! :-)


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BREWMASTERBILL 2/27/2011 12:59PM

    Ummm . . . Wow!

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Chicken Fried Bacon Strips?!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My nephew posted this to Facebook tonight.

...and this


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

390TO130 3/14/2011 2:36PM


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    it is so scary that people are literally eating themselves to death, sugar, fat and salt, very vaguely disguised as food. emoticon

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DDOORN 2/23/2011 9:46AM

    Ugh! How many MORE ways can people find to shorten a body's life!


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HEALTHYASHLEY 2/22/2011 2:55PM

    It is scary. It is like they are doing purely because they know how stupid it is. I love bacon and that turned my stomach.

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SIMPLYJADED1 2/22/2011 2:19PM

    chicken fried heart attack. Don't forget the side of gravy to add to the grease in the arteries. I guess there aint nothing that some people won't dip in batter and fry. I'll pass. emoticonLOL

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ANNE7X7 2/22/2011 1:30PM

    I am so disturbed in so many ways... especially when I see the person layering on the salt onto the fried bacon strips. Oh my. My arteries clogged just watching it!

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JESPAH 2/22/2011 8:26AM

    ... for when you want your heart attack RIGHT AWAY ...

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Whey sorbet, anyone?

Monday, February 07, 2011

I sometimes get a terrible case of ice cream craving. This weekend I thought about it. Those chocolate flavored whey drinks I keep around for emergencies are a lot like chocolate milk. What would happen if I chilled one and dumped it into the little manual ice cream maker I have?

Chocolate sorbet is what happens. And you know what? At 110 calories for the whole 11 ounces, and 17g of protein it's pretty good for me, too.

And it tastes pretty good. Just make sure you get it out of the freezing bowl once it's done or it'll harden on there like glue and you have to wait for it to melt to get it back out again. LOL

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAVELNISTA 7/17/2011 6:04PM


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MABELPIE 2/25/2011 5:50PM

    ohh, interesting. that is some creative proteining!

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HEALTHYASHLEY 2/25/2011 1:31PM

    Great idea! See how easy it is to eat healthy when we get creative!

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SEESTARS 2/25/2011 1:29PM

    I think you just pushed me over the edge on my decision to buy an icecream maker. Looks so good!

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ALYFITN 2/23/2011 8:53AM

    I thought about this but did not try it for lack of an ice cream maker. Because my "sinful" food is ice cream--I can work it to my advantage. Thanks for posting this! I'm always trying to figure out wheys to get in more more protein!!

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JESPAH 2/10/2011 9:17AM

    Awesome. I imagine a lotta stuff that's similarly textured could work. Hmmm....

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CARRIE1948 2/8/2011 10:48AM


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TIME2BLOOM4ME 2/7/2011 4:41PM


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SVENJAH 2/7/2011 4:36PM

  emoticon Fun idea!

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