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JECKIE
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Getting creative with meals

Monday, January 07, 2013

Something that many people struggle with when eating healthy is making meals interesting. I know, I get it. I love rich sauces, too. And cheese. But there are so many other options out there!

Words of advice: don't be afraid! What is the absolute worst thing that can happen if you experiment with dinner? It sucks and you eat a salad, right? I mean seriously, if a meal is lousy it's not the end of the world. So get creative! try things that sound good. Taste and alter as you go along. Read cooking blogs and change the recipes there up to be healthier.

Here are some examples from the past week that have worked for me:

Chicken. Boring stuff on its own. And sometimes I just coat it in Italian seasoning and blacken it, which is fine. But I really wanted a sauce. So what to do?

Take a bag of frozen dark cherries (nothing added in the ingredients!) and toss them in a pan over medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff, not that Mrs. Butterworths or whatever the heck it is), juice of 1 lemon, and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Cook it over medium-low heat until the cherries are soft and mash them with the back of a spoon. This should create a sort of puree type thing. Taste it and add whatever seasonings you think would work (I added a bit of Brady Street from Penzeys). Then use this as your marinade for the chicken! Delish!

Beef: I had a pot roast I bought on sale. So I put that in the crock pot, surrounded by chunks of pumpkin I had frozen after Halloween. Added some balsamic, some apple juice, some seasoning, and let it cook for 6 hours on low. Then (this is the fun part), take the beef out and set it aside. Pour everything else from the crock pot into a bowl and blend it with an immersion blender until it's smooth. I added some water and a bit of salt/pepper to get the taste and consistency I wanted. Voila! The perfect pumpkin sauce for the roast!

I have also done a similar thing with cranberries cooked down into a mash, seasoned, and mixed with sauteed brussel sprouts.

My point is, sauces full of taste and texture don't have to be unhealthy! Fruit is a wonderful base to work with, there are tons of amazing spices out there, etc.

Don't relegate yourself to grilled chicken and lettuce! Eating should be fun! Eating healthy is even better! It's fun, AND you feel great afterward!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v SACHABEE
    Sound great! You should have your own blog! :)
    1266 days ago
  • v FLORNH
    Yum! Yum! Yum!
    1271 days ago
  • v EYES_ON_THEPRAZ
    You're being very adventurous in the kitchen... and that is awesome!!
    1271 days ago
  • v MNGIRLIE
    Cooking new recipes is one of my most favorite things in the world. I'm so terrible with winging it though and I'm pretty reliant upon recipes I find online. I'm especially having a great time trying out all sorts of new paleo and gluten free recipes.

    P.S. A friend of mine gave me that same 13.1 sticker for christmas (the one you have as your background). :)
    1271 days ago
  • v GRACEANAQAH
    Wow! My mouth actually watered with the cherries puree. What a great idea! To make my meals more filling and interesting I have been making salad bowls. Today I made like a burrito bowl with 2 cups of salad and added some Mexican-style rice and chicken taco meat as a condiment.
    1271 days ago
  • v LITTLEGUYSMOM1
    Thanks for the inspiration. I think with a fruit base even my kids will like it. ;)
    1271 days ago
  • v STRONGDAWG
    oooohhhhh! Invite me over. The Hubster doesn't eat meat any more and that pot roast sounds delicious.

    I get creative using beans as a base for sauces for pasta and grains. This weekend I cooked chick peas with salt and garlic. I added some rosemary at the end. I pureed about half (with most of the cooking liquid) and then put the remaining whole chick peas back in the sauce. Today's lunch is whole wheat pasta, some of the chick pea sauce and spinach. I'll add a little parmesan cheese after I re-heat it.
    1271 days ago
  • v LIZRUNS22
    This is excellent! I've had cranberries in the freezer for a little while wondering what to do. I'm going to make a sauce for my chicken. Thanks for sharing this, you've inspired me!
    1271 days ago
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