Top 5 Kitchen Tools

Posted by Seattlejo on May 29, 2017 in Deb |

My Top 5 Kitchen Tools.

I love cooking. I like firing up a frying pan and coming out with a healthy tasty dinner for my fiancee and myself. (Fiancee… that’s a new thing, very exciting) There are a number of  kitchen tools I use that make it easier, that I’d love to share with you.

5. A Good Cast Iron Pan

Start with something pre-seasoned so you can cook right away, a pan like this is ideal.( Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Silicone Hot Handle Holder – 12.5 inch – by Utopia Kitchen

The hot handle is a great benefit and either 10 inches or 12 inches is all you need for a normal size family of 2-4. It cooks up pancakes, sauteed vegetables, and with the right amount of heat will give you a great sear. Avoid acids at first, and clean it with only a little soap and hot water, and dry it right away.

4. A Coffee Grinder

Whether is creating a custom spice blend to rub onto steaks, breaking up cardamom pods for flavoring, or creating a little rice flour with a quick blend, this does everything but grind my morning coffee. I’m a huge fan of Bodum, and recommend this one, though you can often find it in other fun colors to match your kitchen.
Bodum Bistro Electric Blade Coffee Grinder, Black

3. Tongs

Tong-ta-tong tong. That’s the noise we make every time we pick them up or hand them over to another person. I have ones that are silicone covered, like the ones up there, ones with metal end, big sturdy ones for grabbing meat off the grill, tiny ones for tossing salads in a bowl with dressing.  I use them for fishing canning jars out of my Sous Vide  bath, I toss them on the platter when serving, letting guests help them selves.



2. Canning Jars

We’re not just talking about hipster salads. (Though I’m not immune to making a good hipster salad)

We’re talking canning jars for mixing up salad dressings. Storing broths in, baking small cakes in, using in a water bath for egg custards, for drinking out of, taking homemade instant soups to work and.. making hipster salads. Canning jars are an awesome kitchen tool, not to be overrated. Keep a variety of sizes on hand. I recommend:

4 Ounce Jars

8 Ounce Jars

16 Ounce Jars

Also, consider learning to do pickling, fermenting and jam making. These are awesome versatile kitchen tools.


1. A Sous Vide tool

This could have easily been my Phillips Air Fryer or my Instant Pot. Heck, even my Traeger Grill is pretty useful. The number one slot belongs to my Sans Air Sous Vide though. Sous Vid is still new to the home cook and frankly looks a little alien. You heat up a water bath, seal meat into an airtight container (I use jars, freezer safe zip lock, or food saver bags.) Slip it into the water at the designated temperature, cook for the designated time, and fish it out when done. A final sear makes it ready for the table.

The magic of Sous Vide is that meat cooks at a specific temperature is very very had to overcook, and retains a moistness and cooked thoroughness that no other cooking method can really achieve.  If you’re doubting the SousVide as my most important kitchen tool, consider this.

Yesterday, I turned the Sans Air Sous Vide on at 135degrees and cooked a pork tenderloin over 90 minutes. Fished it out and tossed it in the fridge. I changed the temperature to 160 degrees and dropped in 5lbs of chicken thighs. They were boneless , skinless and frozen. When the temperature came back to 160, I timed them for 3 hours, then fished them out. The chicken got chopped up, half of it got doused in some buffalo sauce for easy buffalo chicken salads this week (See recipe below). The rest is on hand to go into chicken tacos, burritos, stir fry, or chicken fried rice. (Paleomg has a great recipe here: http://paleomg.com/my-spin-on-chicken-fried-rice/)


The tenderloin got sliced up and sauteed for dinner. While the vegetables steamed and I chopped a salad it warmed up, remaining tender and tasty. Dinner was on the table, 15 minutes total from prep to plate.  That’s why it tops my list of kitchen tools.

Looking for More information?

More information on Sous Vide can be found at the following sources.

Chef Steps: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/what-is-sous-vide

LifeHacker :http://lifehacker.com/tag/will-it-sous-vide

More information on canning in jars can be found here:

Food In Jars : http://foodinjars.com/

Natural Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_home.html


What are your favorite Kitchen Tools?

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Week 4 Menus : Whole Foods WW

Posted by Seattlejo on April 15, 2017 in Deb |

This Week’s Menus

Challenge Menu -Week 4

Challenge Menu Week 4

Challenge Recipes Week 4

(Did you miss the previous weeks? We have those too!)

Challenge Menu – Week 3

Challenge Recipes – Week 3

Challenge Recipes – Week 1

Challenge Menu – Week 1

Challenge Recipes – Week 2

Challenge Menu – Week 2


Week 4 Recipes Week 4 Menu

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Whole Foods Weight Watchers Challenge

Posted by Seattlejo on April 8, 2017 in Deb |

Whole Foods Weight Watchers
30 Day Challenge

This Weeks Menu’s have been posted, including a fabulous Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Give it a try!

Challenge Menu – Week 3

Challenge Recipes – Week 3

(Did you miss the previous weeks? We have those too!)

Challenge Recipes – Week 1

Challenge Menu – Week 1

Challenge Recipes – Week 2

Challenge Menu – Week 2


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Whole Food Weight Watchers Challenge

Posted by Seattlejo on April 1, 2017 in Deb |

Whole Foods Weight Watchers Challenge


I’m currently hosting a Facebook group for women  on Weight Watchers.

We are focused on the Weight Watchers lifestyle choices while eating whole foods. We eat lean meats, fresh vegetables, whole grains, full fat dairy. This means no support for support fat free/sugar free processed foods.  Your food needs to have nutritional value. A sugar free brownie made with brownie mix and soda pop doesn’t have value.
Food substitutes like Halo Top are great, but we want to be able to eat ice cream in a non-Halo Top world. You need to know what a reasonable portion size looks like and how it fits into a healthy diet.

On March 25th, I kicked off a Whole Foods Challenge, with Menus and Recipes.

Want to play along?

Here are the menus and recipes for the first 2 weeks. Enjoy !


Menus – March Menu 1

Menus – March Recipe 1

Menus – March Menu 2

Menus – March Recipe 2


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52 Weeks of Cooking: Spiralized Italian Salad

Posted by Seattlejo on February 19, 2017 in 52 Weeks of Cooking |

Spirlalized Italian Salad

This week’s Italian theme inspired me to give a Spiralized Italian Salad a try, from the cookbook Inspiralized. I’ve had a spiralizer forever. In fact, I now have 2 different models. The first being a plastic paderno option, the second being a metal one that hooks onto my kitchen aid.

The problem is, though I like the idea of a spiralized vegetables, replacing my spaghetti and other noodley options, it always seems like a hassle pulling out the spiralizer. With the kitchenaid option, I have a really bad habit of putting the blades in a safe spot in the kitchen, then not being able to find them when I go to use it again. (My kitchen, she is small and mighty and needs organization help.)


An Italian Theme

The other problem is, that spiralized noodles don’t always work out right. Sometimes they are too soggy, sometimes too much sauce. So I turned to the Spirlizer queen’s cookbook Inspiralized for inspiration. A quick flip through the book gave me the perfect inspiration for a Spiralized Italian Salad.

I was looking for a fresh take on Italian, something lighter and less hearty. Italian salads are often vegetable centered, so this was an easy choice.

It got rave reviews, and made an easy dinner served with air fryed chicken breast strips.

Next time? I’ll swap the shredded cheese for mozzarella balls, and consider adding chickpeas in for the salami to make it a vegetarian option. There was plenty left over after tonight, and it’ll get packed up for an easy lunch. Maybe if I’m lucky there will be enough to take on my flight to St Louis on Tuesday.

Deb’s Spiralized Italian Salad

Inspired by Inspiralized


  • 2 Medium Zuchinni
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quarterd
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded
  • 10 slices salami quartered
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 can  quartered black olives


  • 4  tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 meyer lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Spiralize the zuchinni into thick noodles, catching them into your bowl.
  2. Add remaining salad ingredients to bowl and toss. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix dressing ingredients together, then pour over salad.
  4. Let chill for 3 hours, then serve

Serves 4
6 SP per serving

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New Orleans Trip 1

Posted by Seattlejo on February 19, 2017 in Adventure, Cruise Port, New Orleans, Travel |

Let’s go back to New Orleans (Food, Culture and Nightlife)

I think I’m ready to go back to New Orleans.  A few years ago, Mike and I cruised out of the New Orleans port. We tacked on 3-4 days on the front of the trip so we could explore the city as a whole.  I wanted more time in the city, because I grew up romanticizing it. In high school, I poured over  Anne Rice’s  Vampire novels, and steeped myself in knowledge about her and her life. As a teenager, New Orleans became my dream location. I was sure I was going to fall in love with the fair city, and that it would be hard to leave.

In a post-Katrina world, it was a little different then I expected. There was history, and nightlife as promised the sadness of Katrina recovery and the ubiquitous Bourbon Street nightlife invaded my day dreams.

New Orleans Houses
A normal house in New Orleans

The Food of New Orleans

I’m ready to go back though. The food of New Orleans, is the stuff of dreams. Fresh seafood, french sauces and home style cooking mix together on your plate. One taste of crunchy fried chicken livers, or finger licking sticky cornbread covered in honey, and it’s true love.

Boudin Balls
Jambalaya and Bread

We expanded on our interests in food by taking a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking

There Chef Kevin taught us to make Pralines, Gumbo, Jambalaya and Bread Pudding.

Chef Kevin Cooks


We came away with full stomachs, a cookbook, pages of handwritten notes about the recipes. As I revisit them, I’ll share the recipes at AlmostDinner.com 



The Culture of New Orleans

We went to Mardi Gras world and watched them build floats for the big parades, creating new floats from old, rebuilding from old ideas to new.

Mardi Gras world is in a warehouse down off the Mississippi river. It is a working art studio, storage facility and event venue. The Krewes of Mardi Gras don’t own their own floats, they only lease them from year to year , with Mardi Gras world’s artists helping recycle, restore and recreate the floats from year to year. For example, what is a hobbit hole this year, becomes Shrek’s hovel next year. The Krewes own the underlying trailers, which are worth up to 80K. Krewes have at least 14 floats in each parade, some holding as many as 40 people with their beads, plushies and other tokens. (The trailers even have bathrooms because float riders are often stuck on the floats upwards of 8 hours. )



We also visited a public art market at Frenchmen street. We got to see the works of local craftsman, and talk to people about what it meant to be an artist in a post-Katrina world.

Lots of recycled materials. The kind of work you’d see in the industrial areas of Seattle, but with a Louisiana Flair.

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Weight Watchers: Build Breakfast 7 SP or less

Posted by Seattlejo on February 18, 2017 in Deb |

Build Breakfast for 7 SP or less

I’m a huge fan of variety at breakfast. I simply can’t eat the same thing over and over. Every morning i like to build breakfast, coming up with something new that strikes my fancy. Fresh choices, often seasonal, keep me on plan. I look forward to creating fun combinations, trying different things,making new flavors work together.

Breakfast is often steeped deeply in one flavor profile or another. If it’s sweet, it’s very very sweet. When it is savory, it tends to be very savory. My breakfast formulas contain one that actually straddles the two.

Why Build Breakfast?

Why am I building breakfast instead of cooking? I describe making breakfast as building because like a great building it starts with key components, a strong plan, and a solid foundation.

Mornings are often rushed, so a plan helps a lot. I start with a key base. For savory, that’s usually eggs, though grains and breads are also welcome. I pick a base, think about the flavor I want, ensure that I am taking advantage of items that are 0 SP. We’re talking plenty of vegetables and fruits, seasonings and flavors.

I balance out those vegetables with small pieces of extremely savory cheeses, or meats that pack a big punch for few points. A tbls of cheese may not seem like a lot, but when it’s a super savory cheddar, or a briny salty feta cheese it’s worth ever point.

(Think of chocolate, which provides more chocolate flavor, milk chocolate or a rich dark chocolate)

The Build Breakfast Formula

Here are just a few of the formulas I use to build breakfast everyday, and a couple of recipes that come from that. Give them a try and tell me what you think.

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PreFab Food: Weight Watchers Meal Delivery Review.

Posted by Seattlejo on January 28, 2017 in Deb, prefab, Weight Watchers |

PreFab Food: Weight Watchers Meal Delivery Review.

In my previous post, I explained about the Weight Watchers new meal delivery service. Details included cost, how to sign up and meal examples. It’s great to know the details, but if it tastes like cardboard or another over salted, under flavored freezer meal, why bother?

What I ordered.

When you sign up for delivery, Fresh Realms starts with 3 days worth of foods. That’s 3 breakfasts, lunches, Dinners and snacks.  I switched it up immediately.

Snacks were overpriced, at $5 for a container of cantaloupe chunks or grapes was ridiculous. I picked the two snacks that looked interesting, a turkey roll-up and a bean and cheese roll up.

Some Breakfasts were  dumb. Paying $6 for a bagel and fruit, also struck me as impracticle for how I eat. Other breakfasts caught my eye, I specifically added a pumpkin parfait to the cart, excited to try it.

Lunches & Dinners looked good. So I maximized my Lunches and Dinners. My goal was to have my box delivery cover a full week of lunches and dinner.


This meant I had:


Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups with Carrots and Fruit (8SP)
Bean and Cheese Roll-ups with Carrots and Fruit (6SP)


Scrambled Eggs with Greens and Grains (5 SP)
Huevos Rancheros Wrap (6 SP)
Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait (6 SP)
Egg & Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwich (8 SP)

Turkey, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Cream Cheese, with salad (8 SP)
Market Style Salad with Chicken (2 SP)
Island Salad with Chicken (6 SP)
Roasted Vegetable Soup (0 SP)

Grilled Salmon with Citrus Butter (8 SP)
Curried Chicken over Jasmine Rice with Roasted (4 SP)
Chili Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry (4 SP)
Pork and Pintos Enchilada Casserole (8 SP)
Orecchiette with Bacon and Ricotta (10 SP)
Chicken Thigh Meat with Greens, Sweet Potato  (6 SP)

How it tasted (AKA, the Delivery Review)


The Good

The second day I had the meals, was the best day ever. Everything tasted awesome, and I was all excited. I told my boyfriend. “We’re eating these while I am in my pmp bootcamp and you have class”

What made me say that?


A perfect breakfast sandwich  that came with grapes. The grapes were so good, and so inspiring that I went out and bought grapes. I never do that!






Roasted vegetable soup that tasted like pizza in a bowl. I paired this with another of the dishes, and ended up with a turkey sandwich and soup. Yum.






An enchilada bowl with flavor and spice.While some cheese would have gone a long way, this was tasty. I served it over some wilted spinach. (I’m a huge fan of “more veg”





But the problems….

I had a choice of having the food delivered on Thursday or Saturday. I chose Saturday, hoping the food would cover my entire work week. In fact I was excited about this prospect.

See?? Look at the date

The food arrived and stamped on the front of each was the expiration date. Wednesday, January 18th. The food arrived Saturday January 14th.

Instead of having food for Monday-Friday. I had food for Sat-Wed. Not my ideal.
I contacted chat and was told “It should be fine”

In the end, it wasn’t. In fact I didn’t eat the following dishes because they smelled off, or were bulging at the seams of the plastic container when I went to eat. Disappointing.


Market Style Salad with Chicken (2 SP)
Grilled Salmon with Citrus Butter (8 SP)
Curried Chicken over Jasmine Rice with Roasted (4 SP)
Chili Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry (4 SP)
Bean and Cheese Roll-ups with Carrots and Fruit (6SP)

The Points? They don’t add up.

The program material was clear that the points wouldn’t be spot on, after all when fresh realm wrote up the nutritional information they don’t leave off the fruit and veg that WW gives you for free. So the number you scan with your barcode reader may be different then what’s printed on the top, and different then what you calculate on the back. It’s often just a point or two. Not a huge deal. With 1 exception.

The curious case of Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin Parfait.

I had really been excited for this dish. In fact I added an extra breakfast to make sure I could try this one. The first disappointment was the flavor. Despite having pumpkin, spices and maple syrup in the ingredient list, this was bland and sour, lumpy and not pleasant to eat. So I didn’t finish it.

The points on it are curious though. The package reads 6 SP.  See:

6 SP!









In fact, if you scan the picture, it pops up with it on the official WW app.
Then if you flip it over and look at the ingredients?

It doesn’t match. The calorie stats on the back are more then double what you expect. If you use the manual calculator it tells you it it 20 SP. Sure WW leaves off the good stuff like fruit and veg. There isn’t 14 SP worth of pumpkin in this dish.
So clearly, there is reason to second guess and not trust that what you’re getting is going to match up with what you need to stay on plan. Eating 30 SP a day, I can’t afford a 20 SP breakfast dish that tastes bland and gross.


How did everything else taste?



Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups with Carrots and Fruit (8SP) One of my favorite items, loved the fruit, the turkey and cheese was tasty. Should be a lunch at 8SP.
Bean and Cheese Roll-ups with Carrots and Fruit (6SP)  Went bad before I could eat it.



Scrambled Eggs with Greens and Grains (5 SP) Gross. No real flavor. The greens were stems of kale, hard to eat. Needed salsa, cheese, and something else to put it into the tasty zone.
Huevos Rancheros Wrap (6 SP) Good. I’d eat it again happily.
Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait (6 SP) Gross. See above.
Egg & Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwich (8 SP) Good! Lots of cheese, maybe even too much? A little high on the SP, but it fit.


Turkey, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Cream Cheese, with salad (8 SP) The sandwich was awesome. I’ll be making something similar. The salad was wilty, and didn’t appeal. The balsamic dressing didn’t bring much flavor. I tipped the chickpeas into the soup and left the rest.
Market Style Salad with Chicken (2 SP)  Went bad before I could eat it.
Island Salad with Chicken (6 SP) Was good. Not amazing, not terrible. I didn’t like the croutons but the rest was good.
Roasted Vegetable Soup (0 SP) Was good. Tasted like a bowl of pizza. I tipped the chickpeas into it from the turkey sandwich meal and that made it even better.


Grilled Salmon with Citrus Butter (8 SP) Went bad before I could eat it.
Curried Chicken over Jasmine Rice with Roasted (4 SP) Went bad before I could eat it.
Chili Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry (4 SP) Went bad before I could eat it.
Pork and Pintos Enchilada Casserole (8 SP) Good! I liked this. I would spend a few SP on cheese or sour cream to make it better, but it was a solid choice. 
Orecchiette with Bacon and Ricotta (10 SP) Good! I wanted more veg, but beyond that this was tasty and reheated well.
Chicken Thigh Meat with Greens, Sweet Potato  (6 SP) Gross. The greens were kale stems again, and fennel. The chicken thighs were tough, gritty, fatty lumps.  Never again.

The Bottom Line:

I won’t be ordering again. It’s too expensive, and unreliable to have to go out mid week to get more food. I also had a week where the delivery didn’t come at all, because of a winter storm in Memphis. (The box was traveling from Sacramento to Seattle, tell me how Memphis fits in, it got as far as Oregon before the delivery was scrubbed)

I also don’t trust the points. If I want to use this to stay on plan, I expect to be able to trust point counts. It’d be different if it was simply filling where you were just focused on what was in the food and the portion size you were eating.

Some folks have seen success in freezing the meals when they come in and reheating them from frozen. If I’m ordering something called Fresh Realm, I don’t expect to have freezer meals.

Questions? Please reach out to me via comments!

All of the pictures

Curious about what something looked like? Here are all the pictures I took for this.



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PreFab Food: Weight Watchers Meal Delivery Details

Posted by Seattlejo on January 28, 2017 in Deb, prefab, Weight Watchers |

What happens when you are on Weight Watchers and you are a food blogger?

You try all kinds of interesting foods. That means you build meal plans, take lots of pictures and check the points on everything. You sample Weight Watchers foods, packaged snacks and frozen meals.  When you make something awesome, you run the points on it. Just to see how good or bad it is.

Sometimes it means giving up the cooking for a week entirely to try out a new service.

What if Weight Watchers delivered meals to your door?

Prefab meal options are  big in the marketplace these days. This includes box meal services like Plated and Blue Apron, as well as full meal delivery like Freshly. It’s a no brainer for adding diversity to their portfolio of products for sale. After all, people are busier, but want to eat healthier. Staying on program is important.

The problem with most weight loss programs who offer food, is that the food is crap. It’s freeze dried/dehydrated, too much sodium, not enough flavor. There is little variety, and it’s just dull. Sorry Nutrisystems, you know it’s true.

I’m in a test area, on the West Coast. This service is finding it’s legs, and I assume if it’s successful they’ll be rolling it out to the rest of the world.

How this works

Before a giant food box arrives to your house, you have to jump through a few hoops.

  1. Be in a test area. If you aren’t on the West Coast, you are out of luck for now.
  2. Buy a Voucher from your meeting room or meeting leader.  This cost me $88.
    The voucher allows you to sign up on the website, and allows you to pick out the first 12 meals.
  3. Sign up on the website. You’ll put your information in, and look at the meals that are offered.(More on that soon)
  4. Pick extra meals. 12 meals is the minimum, but comes with $10 in shipping. If you get to 16 meals, shipping is free!
  5. Pick a Delivery Date. My choices were Thursday or Saturday. I picked Saturday.
  6. Weight for food to arrive! You’ll get an email when the meals ship and when they arrive. Shipping takes a couple days, but the magic “vessel” keeps them fresh.
  7. Eat and Enjoy! This is the easiest part.


Meal Cost and Selections

Weight Watchers and their partner Fresh Realm offer a selection of Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners.

Snacks are $5, Breakfasts are $6, Lunches are $7, Dinners are $8.

These are some of the selections I picked for the first delivery.


But what’s it look like delivered?

Food comes in individual packages, listing what the ingredients are. The packages are microwave safe, but not oven safe. Most of the packages just a single compartment, though a few like the breakfast sandwich and fruit separate the fruit out on it’s own.

Points are listed on the front, along with a bar code you can scan. A full ingredient list is on the back.

A Closer Look:

It’s a  New Era of Food Delivery


But it’s not perfect. In my next post, I’ll share what I ordered, what I ate  and what I thought of the service.

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52 Weeks of Cooking: Make it Healthy

Posted by Seattlejo on January 28, 2017 in 52 Weeks of Cooking, Deb, Weight Watchers |

Vegetables Cooking

52 Weeks of Cooking: Make it Healthy

Chinese New Year may seem like an odd time to cook something healthy. Chinese food though, is often the last minute take out, the mall food court conquest or simply something we eat when we need a shot of sodium, fat and carbs. Tasty stuff, but there’s a better way.

When I knew I wanted to cook for Chinese New Year but keep it within my eating plan I began to research  (It’s still January, resolutions you know. )

What is healthy?

The problem with the idea of healthy, is that it’s different for everyone. What I think is healthy doesn’t meet my best friends idea of healthy and doesn’t meet my bosses idea of healthy. Since I’ve struggled with my weight, I’ve tried lots of different ways to “eat healthy” to help shed some pounds. Bottom line, I believe it’s not the what you eat, but the calorie count involved, and the food itself has to bring you satisfaction. Folks who are success of Keto or Paleo are eating food they find highly satiating in calorie counts lower then what they ate pre “diet”. (I hate that word) Those who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, are satisfied with the content of their diet as well. It’s all about what makes you happy and feeds your soul.

I have standards (and privilege*).For me that means I look to whole foods. Ingredients I recognize, things I could grow myself, harvest myself or even butcher myself. (If I wasn’t squeamish. ) I limit low fat ingredients, and avoid unnaturally fat free ingredients. For example, I would rather have a smaller portion of homemade ice cream instead of eating a pint of Halo top.  A poke bowl of Ahi Tuna with a little avocado and a shake of sesame seed and seaweed feeds my soul more then a bowl of low fat macaroni and cheese, made with fat free cheese and skim milk. It might not work for you, but that’s what makes me happy. (and I balance my diet at about an 80/20 between whole foods/other foods )


*I’m lucky. I know I have the ability to buy the food I want to eat, and that I find healthiest. Not everyone does. I have grocery stores near me, fabulous farm stands, and last year I even bought into a CSA basket, where I had more vegetables then we could eat. I know not everyone is there.


Meet my inspiration



 Fresh Vegetables, Meat and Sauce

Nothing too weird, right? Chinese cooking is simple in this aspect. Sauces are made up of flavorful liquids (rice wine, soy, sesame oil), seasonings  (garlic, ginger, miso), sometimes a little sweetner (honey) and a thickener.

Meet my inspiration. The big book of Stir Fry was a discount book find, and has hundreds of great recipes, simple ingredients, but good flavors. My Weight Watchers book, which has a section on theme nights offered a miso ginger bok choy as well as a vegetable dumpling that I still need to get to.

The Paleo Takeout book may seem like an odd choice. After all, aren’t those paleo people just chowing down on buckets of bacon. (Incidentally, Buckets of Bacon is my GWAR tribute band.) People eating a paleo diet are interested in vegetables and meats, without additives or excessive processing. Sounds pretty whole foods to me.


Fully inspired, I began to cook

Moog Goo Gai Pan

Moo Goo Gai Pan and Chicken with Mushrooms


I started with the Boy Choy with Miso dressing, then  Moo Goo Gai Pan and so on.

All told I made.

  • Baby Bok Choy with Miso Ginger Dressing
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan (4SP)
  • Chicken with Mushrooms (6SP)  (just like Panda Express!!)
  • General Tso’s Chicken.   (6SP, not fried just sauteed)
  • Cashew Vegetables (7 SP, cashews are killer.)
  • Cauliflower Fried Rice (3 SP)

The bonus was that once I made one of the dishes, the Moo Goo Gai Pan, I realized that the rest of the dishes worked pretty much the same way, except the sauce ingredients changed and the vegetables changed. It reminded me a lot of ratio, and I think I know how to experiment with making Asian style sauces for vegetables.

More on that soon.


Baby Bok Choy with Ginger Miso Dressing.

  • Servings: 4
  • 3 SP Per serving

Bok Choy
1/3 Cup Water
1 tbls canola oil
3 large garlic clove , thinly sliced
1 lb baby bok choy cut in half, the long way.
1/4 tsp salt

3 tbls rice vinegar
2 tbls miso (lighter misos like white, are lighter in flavor and better here.)
2 tbls mirin
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp grated peeled ginger or 1/4 tsp dried powdered ginger.

Combine the water, oil and garlic in a saute pan, simmer then add the bok choy. Season with salt, and cook until tender 12-15 minutes.

Combine  dressing ingredients.

Drain the bok choy well. Set it aside. Add the dressing to the saute pan, cooking until it is simmering then gets thick and a little syrupy.  Pour over the bok choy, and serve either warm or at room temp.

From Weight Watchers Family Meals

I’ll double this one next time, it was fantastic.



Moo Goo Gai Pan from Paleo Takeout

  • Servings: 4
  • 4 SP Per serving. 

Sauce Ingredients

2 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 inch minced  ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp  Mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp arrowroot starch (this is a fine powder, looks like cornstarch in texture, I had to get it from a health food store. )
1 tbsp cold water

2 sprays olive oil 
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
splash of tamari or coconut aminos
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup snow peas sliced
5 oz white mushrooms, quartered

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the dish. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot starch and cold water to create a slurry, then set aside.

Heat up the skillet, and add a spray of olive oil.Add the chicken in batches, cooking until mostly cooked through.  Add a sprinklet of salt and  pepper  then transfer to a bowl. (Don’t crowd the pan, cook in batches)

Add another spray of olive oil, then add the carrots, snow peas, mushrooms,  to the pan  adding a little water if needed. Sauté until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, then stir to combine. Pour in the sauce and simmer; pour in half of the arrowroot starch slurry and stir until thickened, adding more slurry if needed. Taste and add salt if needed, then remove from the heat and serve.

Sample Plate


Was it healthy?

In the end, everything I cooked fit my needs of healthy. There were more vegetables then anything else on my plate, and I had a fridge stocked for the week.

Healthy life choices, healthy food.

Sounds like a win win to me.







The post 52 Weeks of Cooking: Make it Healthy appeared first on Almost Dinner.

Source: Almost Dinner


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