For the majority of our society, I think it is unfortunate that people can't truely enjoy/look forward to a meal on-the-go (restaurant/fast food). Perhaps you enjoy it while you are eating it but I think most people would agree that if you eat out more than 2-3 times per month, there is generally some feeling of guilt, uncomfortable fullness, bloating or unhappiness. Although I agree with many people that eating out (on occasion) should be a time to enjoy something new or different (even if it is higher in calories, fat and sodium than your normal foods) without feelings of guilt, there is no reason why you can't create restaurant-style meals at home. For people who feel as if you don't have time to cook, think back to the last time you ate out/ordered out and how long you waited/stood in line for your food. Also, think about what you paid for your meal? Sure, it may seem as if restaurant/fast food is quicker and cheaper than preparing your own food but in the bigger picture, you have so much more to look forward to (and save) by creating your own healthy meals.
For example, let's look at the nutritional breakdown of the Caribbean Salad, served at Chili's, if we were to prepare it:
Fresh pineapple - 1/2 cup (chunks): 41.5 calories
Mandarin (tangerine) oranges - 1 small: 40 calories
Dried cherries - 1/2 ounce: 50 calories
Green onions - 1/2 cup sliced: 12 calories
Cilantro - 1/8 cup: 1 calorie
1 tbsp honey: 64 calories
1 fl. Ounce lime: 8 calories
Grilled shrimp: 4 oz: 120 calories
If you were to serve yourself this salad (which would be rather simple, cheap and quick to prepare at home) over a bed of romaine lettuce (1 cup shredded = 8 calories) your meal would come to 344.5 calories. Doesn't this meal sound super yummy and healthy? Why not try it tonight for dinner?
Need inspiration? Here is a beautiful shrimp, feta, cucumber, tomato salad that my dad made (I'm very impressed because my dad isn't a big salad eater)
On average, I only have a colorful salad as the main part of my meal once or maybe twice, a week..but you've seen my "barbara" salads, I put anything and everything in them. But if salads as a "main" dish aren't your thing, how about my latest creation.
All credit goes to my mom who prepared this dish for us on Friday evening. All I can say is YUM!!! Although we modified the recipe (which I am giving you today), the original recipe only came to 350 calories per serving.
2 cans No salt added diced tomatoes (add your own herbs and spices)
1 Large Eggplant
2 tbsp water
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup part-skim mozzarella shredded cheese
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Open cans of tomato sauce, lightly rinse and drain.
2. Cut eggplants into 1/4 inch slices. Mix egg and water in shallow bowl.
3. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in shallow bowl.
4. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, then coat w/ bread crumb mixture.
5. On a non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat pan w/ 1/2 tbsp oil. Cook eggplant slices for about 5 minutes, turning once, until light brown. Repeat with the rest of the slices (adding 1/2 tbsp oil if needed).
6. Place half of eggplant in ungreased rectangular baking dish (11 x 7 x 1 1/2") overlapping slices slightly. Spoon half of tomato sauce over eggplant and sprinkle w/ 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce and cheese.
7. Bake (uncovered) for 25 min. or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly brown.
Here is my tofu, white bean, baby tomato, zucchini, garlic mixture that I cooked on a non-stick pan w/ 1 tsp olive oil...it went perfectly, alongside steamed broccoli, with the eggplant.
Ready for dessert?
Healthy Blueberry and Walnut muffins
(according to my family and Karel, these are the BEST muffins I have EVER made)
Makes 18 muffins
1 apple (peeled, then shredded)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 tbsp honey
1-3 tbsp water (at the end)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
1 cup blueberries (fresh, washed)
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp chopped dark chocolate (or shaved)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (except blueberries). Stir until combined.
3. Mix together wet ingredients (except water). Stir well.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry bowl and mix. Add blueberries.
5. Add additional water until batter is easy to mix (consistency should look a little lighter than pancake batter).
6. Pour a heaping TBSP of batter until muffin tin (about 3/4 full).
*optional: top with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
7. Bake for 30-40 min or until top of muffin is golden brown.