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Friday, July 15, 2011

Budgeting for Flavor

The funny thing about trying to save your money so you can do things like get married is that that’s when everything goes to hell. A couple months ago, my laptop died so I’ve been without computer other than my smart phone which isn’t really working so well anyway. So, obviously, without a computer, keeping up with a blog is pretty difficult.

Anyway, I’m sure it’s evident that I have been taking my eating habits a little more seriously lately. It seems I’ve hit a point in my life where I can no longer rely solely on my metabolism to stay thin. Everyone told me this would happen and sadly, everyone was right. I enjoyed eating what I wanted without consequence while it lasted but now I have to actually workout and eat right to stay trim. I would like to tell you how terrible it is but honestly, being at the gym on a treadmill before 6am makes me feel like I’m not wasting a moment of my life and eating healthier foods makes me less irritable and tired. I love living a healthier lifestyle and now that I’m doing it, I can’t believe more people aren’t.

I read an article the other day about some states considering removing super obese kids from their homes as a form of child abuse. I realize that when you first hear it, it sounds a little over-the-top but this is a measure I completely support. If a child were under-fed and therefore malnourished, they’d be taken away. I think if you’re putting children in a situation where they’re likely to have type 2 diabetes or a heart attack by 30, they should be taken away as they’re also being malnourished. My favorite part of the article was the reader comments at the bottom – most of which were from people who parent obese children stating that healthy foods are too expensive. This is an excuse that absolutely appalls me. For the cost of two meals at McDonald’s, I can make a pot roast with potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes and a side salad to feed four people. It’s NOT more expensive, it just takes more time. It painted a picture to me of just how lazy so many Americans have become.

Immediately after reading the article, I felt incredibly grateful for a mother who made sure we were fed fairly well. My mom was never fond of having to cook dinners every night particularly when she had more than a few picky eaters on her hands and she worked long shift so we could eat. Despite the workload, stress and general dislike of planning and preparing meals, my Mom did it anyway. Not to mention, I can’t remember a time that there weren’t oranges and granny smith apples in the fridge, free for the taking. Had she gone the fast food route every night, she’d have four fat, sick, unhappy adult children setting a bad example for her grandchildren but she doesn’t. In my mind, making sure your kids are healthy and safe is the epitome of being a responsible parent. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t have kids.
Mom, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU for always making me finish the “horrible” and “disgusting” quiches, lasagnas or whatever else you made me as a youngster. Your arguments have finally paid off.

As a “Thank You” to my Mom and in the spirit of health & wellness, I’m taking one of her most popular recipes and revising it. Our entire family was always fond of my Mom’s “Mexican Casserole” (the term “Mexican” is used loosely in this recipe). My Mom’s version is made with a tube of sausage, a bottle of tomatoes (home-canned), some elbow pasta, a bunch of chili powder (that’s the “Mexican” part) and sour cream. It’s incredibly easy, fast and delicious and I still occasionally make it like this. My version goes like this though....

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 jalapeños, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 or 2 carrots, minced
1 box whole wheat pasta
Black pepper
Salt
Olive oil
Ground cloves (if you have it)
Cilantro, chopped

In the largest skillet you have, cover the bottom with olive oil and heat to med-high. Add turkey, some salt, pepper, and ground cloves. Brown turkey, breaking apart with a fork. Meanwhile, get a pot of boiling water going for your pasta.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, jalapeños, celery and carrots.
Add pasta to the boiling water and leave until slightly under-cooked.
Add pasta to turkey/tomato mixture and cover. Stir occasionally until pasta is fully cooked.
Add cilantro about 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe is SO easy and SO fast, it’ll quickly become a staple. It’s full of necessary vitamins, antioxidants, healthy carbs and fiber. Feel free to tweak as you want. Don’t be afraid to add different veggies, replace ingredients or throw in all the fresh herbs you can dream of! For a creamy taste, you can add sour cream or cream cheese (preferably fat free). I occasionally add fresh mozzarella and replace the cilantro with fresh basil. Tweak, play, have fun and most of all, enjoy!

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