Tag Archives: health

Black Bean Burgers of Awesome

So I’ve never been much of one for veggie burgers. But in keeping with my commitment to new, healthier foods in the new year, I decided to give these a shot.

What I Used:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (via food processor, of course)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (again, via food processor, of course)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 3 slices toast (turned into bread crumbs via food processor…of course)

(Note: the recipe I linked calls for bell peppers, but I think I’ve mentioned a few times how my husband doesn’t eat those)

What I Did:

Mucho Yummy-o! I didn’t even tell Trent what I was making before I had him try this. He agreed with my assessment: these are a keeper. We just had them for the second time, and this time I made a double batch, freezing four patties for an easy dinner sometime in the very busy future. And I highly recommend you give them a chance, too! Trent enjoyed some frozen french fries with his, while I had some of my beloved Mojo Corn Salad–which was a perfect accompaniment.

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Back to the Kitchen for Argentinian Red Shrimp Arrabbiata

When I posted the picture of this completed meal to FB and Instagram, I’m pretty sure people might’ve actually drooled on their laptop/mobile devices.  I got a lot of request for the recipe.

As you know, if you know me, I learned everything I know about cooking from Google. And most of my new year healthy recipes are on Pinterest. And that’s where this one for Shrimp Arrabbiata came from too (although I am now becoming more daring/confident and I’m not always–gasp!–following a recipe!).



I highly recommend you make this yourself because it was AMAZING. Trent and I both loved it. Devoured it. And writing about it right now and looking at the pics again just makes me want to make and eat it again. So.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 ounces fresh linguine (I used the Garden Delight kind for the extra nutrients. Trent thought this would taste terrible. He was wrong.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used Trader Joe’s Argentinian Red Shrimp because that’s what we had in the freezer.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Here are the directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with salt; add shrimp to pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add onion, minced garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or just until sauce begins to thicken. Return shrimp to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Add parsley to the pan, stirring well to combine. Serve over pasta.

And here’s what it looked like:

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Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans

So far I’ve been doing pretty good with my new commitment to healthier eating. Part of that commitment is a commitment to cooking more meals–you know, as opposed to take out, delivery, or heating up frozen, processed foods. I didn’t learn a lot about cooking growing up, so this is really an adventure of sorts. I’m not sure how I’d do it without Google, which comes in handy for figuring out strange cooking terms I’ve never hear before in addition to figuring out techniques for making food.

Another thing we’re trying to do is sit down at the kitchen table to eat together and talk–you know, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV, eating off TV trays. We even got some new chair cushions for the kitchen chairs, so they’re actually comfortable enough to sit on for more than just a minute. So far, so good. I hope we can keep it up–I’m really enjoying it.

Anyway–one of my recent kitchen adventures was this Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans recipe. We had a piece of salmon in the freezer and a bag of frozen lima beans. All the other ingredients were also already on hand (this is really one of the keys to successfully making good, healthy homemade meals on a regular basis–keeping the kitchen stocked with the right ingredients, so they’re always on hand). I’ve been trying to do that, too, and again, so far, so good.

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Even though I accidentally put all the paprika into the yogurt mixture, this came out good. Both Trent and I enjoyed it, and Trent noted that the sauce would be good to use on other fish dishes in the future. He really liked it. So we’re filing this one under “Make Again.” Success.

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Grilled Tuna and Broccoli w/ Garlic Drizzle

My latest kitchen adventure in the new year was this recipe for grilled tuna. As it happens, Food Lion had some frozen Ahi Tuna steaks on sale last week when I was there, so this was a good choice.  I used a little less garlic than the recipe called for because our tuna steaks were smaller, and it just seemed like 2 tablespoons was a lot.  Otherwise, I basically followed the recipe as written…with the only change actually being an error. See what happened was I was doing more than one thing at a time–which never works that well. I was trying to read the recipe, cook the broccoli and prep the tuna.  So where the recipe says, “Combine 1 teaspoon oil mixture and Broccolini; toss.” I actually put the whole mixture in with the broccoli in the pan.  So then, I made another little extra side of garlic drizzle in case we needed it for the fish.  While I was doing that, some of the broccoli burned just a bit. This is why there are also no pictures of the broccoli part of the recipe in the slideshow below. But all in all, it was a delish meal–Trent agreed–so we’ll probably do this one again in the future.

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Stress Reliever Smoothie

As promised, I decided to try this Stress Reliever Smoothie from my “Just for the Health of It” board on Pinterest.  I’m not sure if it actually reduced my stress, but I do know it wasn’t one of my favorites.  Even after I made some modification, it was just too chunky. By the time I got to work, I had to add more water to it because otherwise I’d have needed a spoon to finish it.  Like I said, I did make some modifications. First of all, I did not include the optional ginger root because I didn’t have any.  Second, I included some coconut water (because I did have that on hand). In the photos you’ll see my collection of ingredients.  I had the Greek yogurt out, but then I re-read the recipe and discovered that wasn’t in there.  That’s when I grabbed the Coconut water, because obviously, I would need more than just 1/4 lemon’s worth of juice to pull this off. Notably, I think that’s because, upon closer review, this is supposed to be made in a juicer, but whatever.

I think I’ve decided celery doesn’t go in smoothies.  And this isn’t one I’m likely to repeat exactly again.

So today’s green smoothie had Coconut water, spinach, 15 grapes, a tangerine, and some Greek yogurt.  I know I used grapes before, but I think I’m going to add them, with celery, to the list of veggies not to use in a smoothie. Not so smooth–too much chewing involved.

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So Smooth(ie)

One of the things I hate about having a smoothie or shake in the car on my ride into work is that I cannot simultaneously drink coffee to wake me up. Problem-solved, courtesy of this gem I found on Pinterest:

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So the recipe I found on Pinterest called for 1/2 a frozen banana. Negative. My Ninja did not appreciate that. Ice? No problem-o. Frozen banana? Not so much. A chunk of it just wouldn’t break down. So next time? I’m just throwing a regular ole non-frozen banana in there. Also, you’ll notice that in that final photo, I got more than just my regular cupful–I got extra.  If I’d waited for it to settle, it would’ve been fine because all of the foamy frothiness would’ve calmed down. So next time, I’ll make it early enough to let it sit, so it all fits in one cup.

Other than that, this was really good. Easy. Quick. Definitely do-able first thing on a work day. I’ll do this one again.

But not every day–because it’s not a green smoothie, which I prefer because of all the extra benefits from the leafy green vegetables like spinach. So this morning, I made a smoothie of protein powder, 1  cup (packed) spinach, 1 tangerine, 1 banana, and 1 cup almond milk. I highly recommend this green smoothie. Yummy.

Tomorrow morning I’m trying a version of this “Apple Pie Smoothie.” On Thursday, I’m going to try this guy called The Stress Reliever. I think changing it up on a regular basis is good so as not get boring. That’s my theory anyway.

Oh–also I got a new pedometer. Last night my husband and I worked on setting my stride.  I tested it out today. I walked 6766 steps, with 1092 of those being “aerobic steps,” which means I was trying. Apparently, one should try to get 10,000 steps a day…so that’s next on my list of things to try. Oh, and go back to the gym. I’ll figure that part out once we get back on routine after the school semester starts. For now, I’m lucky I’ve done this much.

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Going Green Again

So…as I mentioned previously, I fell off the Healthy Me Wagon over the last year, and now I’m trying to get back on.  One of the things I used to do when I was way more healthier (and more svelte), was drink green smoothies every morning. As time became ever more precious in the morning–having new job responsibilities and a longer commute, as well as adjusting to living with another person for the first time in 8 years–I stopped

Voila! Tastes sweet and spinachy.

Voila! Tastes sweet and spinachy.

spending the time to make them. I experimented with putting all the ingredients together ahead of time in Ziploc bags, so all I’d have to do is dump them in the blender (although afterwards, you always have to immediately clean the blender to avoid a huge mess later, which takes time). Eventually, even this was traded for a couple of breakfast bars and a coffee in the car.  I say “a couple” because a breakfast bar is not nearly as satisfying as a smoothie.  So anyway–eventually, I just stopped.

Now, I’m trying to start again.  Obviously, I started adding more smoothie pins to my Just For The Health Of It board on Pinterest. This led me to the recipe for this “sweet green smoothie.” Apparently, this is recommended by personal trainer Haley Pasternak, who says her celebrity clients love it “for helping them stay on the right track, especially after an indulgent period.” I decided to try it out. I’ve had a year-long indulgent period, after all.

It’s definitely not something I could pull off on a  weekday before work.  I also totally forgot about the avocado, so I just skipped it.  But I followed all the other directions as given. The end result was sweet and spinachy–not bad at all. It kept me from getting hungry for a couple of hours. I could do this one on the weekend, or I could find a way to pre-prepare it the night before–although I’m skeptical about how it would turn out.  Anyway–baby steps to better health, right? Right.

Here’s how it went:

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Made Up Mahi Mahi & Quinoa

So…I was putting some new groceries in the freezer when I discovered we still had some Mahi Mahi in there we hadn’t used. And this dinner was borne of that discovery…

It is basically made up of stuff we had around the house that seemed like it would make a decent dinner.  I had no idea what I was doing, so I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

I have never cooked quinoa before, nor even eaten it.  But I picked up a bag at Trader Joe’s the other day because I’d heard so much good stuff about IMG_6871it. I mean, it was all the rage in 2013, so why not finally give it a try in 2014, right? And I’m trying to eat healthier, and quinoa (which I’ve mispronounced in my head for the last year–thankfully, never out loud) is apparently some sort of super food that we’ve been aware of since at least 1955 but has only recently become vogue. Google it.

I figured I needed some sort of marinade for the fish, so that was first up. I pondered what to do with it while it thawed.  I checked Pinterest and Google, of course, but ultimately, did sort of my own thing–although I was partially inspired by this lime marinade. Here’s what I came up with:

Made-up Mahi Marinade

Then, I needed a side. I couldn’t decide what to do here. We had some broccoli, and I was thinking about it, but it didn’t seem right, so I threw open the cupboards thinking “orzo!” when I realized we had none….but there was that magic quinoa. I was a little afraid of it, to be honest.  But I resolved to make it.  I didn’t just want to dump some plain SEED on the plate. We had some cherry tomatoes I had picked up from TJ’s with another recipe in mind, and, thus, I decided upon this:

Quinoa with tomatoes and basil vinaigrette

The end result: thumbs up from both me and the husband.  Now, that I have it all recorded, we’ll definitely do this again.

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My Name is Jenn, and I’m a Junkie


But, Jenn! You seem so…high-functioning! Yes, ’tis true, my friends. Because I’m not a crack junkie or anything, but I’m pretty sure I might be a vitamin/supplement/all-natural/homeopathic treatment junkie. Yeah…I’m addicted to Mother Nature’s remedies. I know because I had to get one of those 7-day-a-week pill things to make life easier (see picture at right) because, you know, I had so many pills to take each day. And that’s how you know you’re a junkie, y’all.

In fact, as I write this, my face is on fire and my arms are all itchy because I’m in the midst of a Niacin flush–don’t worry–that’s how I know it’s working.

Another reason not to worry: most of these supplements have been recommended by my Primary Care Physician (who hates Big Pharm and therefore always recommends something natural first). For example, on the far left of the picture, you can see Horse Chestnut Seed Extract. My PCP recently gave me a “prescription” (he actually does print it up on an official prescription form and sign it–even though it’s just for me) for 400 mg 2x daily. Apparently, this will help with my “swampy leg syndrome” (lest you start to doubt my doctor, that’s just what I’ve taken to calling it now–he used a lot of big words I cannot remember).

Time-out: Swampy leg syndrome

So for the past 9 months I’ve suffered from an intermittent rash on both legs–same spot flares up on a regular basis. And it gets all scaly gross and super itchy. It goes away for a while and doesn’t bother me, so I forget about it. And then it comes back with a vengeance. Eventually, I cave and go to the doctor, who puts his hand on each spot and feels the heat coming off them. Then he lays it on me: You have varicose veins.

Um…say what? I have a rash. Eczema, I think. What’s this “varicose vein” nonsense? That’s for little old ladies. Just give me a cream!

Turns out that varicose veins (even if you can’t see them) can cause eczema rashes. My doctor explains this (the rash is just a symptom of the underlying problem, blah, blah, blah), but I don’t really believe him at first. So he lays this analogy on me: you know how when you have a body of flowing water, like a river or a creek? Everything flows along smoothly, all nice and clear. Unless something starts clogging up the flow. And then you get a swamp–everything’s just sort of stagnant. And if the water can’t flow–things get sort of icky–like in the swamp and there are all sorts of bacteria…(he continued his explanation, but I was now just visualizing the swamp in my leg). So basically, the blood in my veins in my legs doesn’t flow free and clear–there’s a swamp forming under the surface of each leg, causing the eczema.

I go home, and Trent asks me what the doctor said. My answer: I’ve got swampy legs! And thus, my self-diagnosis of “swampy legs” stuck.

Back to the Point

I’d rather give Mother Nature a shot whenever possible…I trust her more than those pharmaceutical companies. I figure what She’s got to offer is far better than any of the chemicals peddled by Big Pharm reps. I get a lot of my stuff vitamins and supplements (like Spirulina, Niacin, Fish Oil, Horse Chestnut Seed extract) online from Swanson (also recommended by my PCP).

I also have this fabulous book: Grandmother’s Kitchen Wisdom (10th anniversary edition). It’s full of useful information–including home remedies for common ailments. Just today, one of my Facebook friends (lovely gal from high school) was seeking feedback about natural remedies for heartburn (she’s pregnant and trying to find something safe). I jumped all over that one because I have heartburn like none other. I do have an actual prescription for generic Zantac, but there are other options, too. A very popular one that many people in the thread pointed out was to mix some apple cider vinegar into water and drink it to reduce the burn. This is listed in Grandmother’s Dr. Myles H. Bader’s book, which I promptly flipped open. It also lists (amongst others) the following: a) 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water and b) Puree a few iceberg lettuce leaves and 3/4 cup of cold water in blender, drink. Further, “Grandma” advises chewing (like chewing gum or oats) to reduce heartburn.

I love this book because it’s not just about home remedies, but it also includes all sorts of handy around-the-house tips and tricks:

  • Adding apple cider vinegar to the rinse water when washing your hair will give it more shine.
  • If you put an apple in a bag of potatoes, the potatoes won’t sprout. (Who knew?)
  • A pinch of baking soda in milk will increase shelf life by 2-3 days.
  • Salad won’t be soggy if you place a saucer upside-down in the bottom of the salad bowl (the water will collect under the saucer keeping the salad dry)
  • 2 antacid tablets in a toilet bowl will give the bowl a clean shine.

“Grandma” also has a whole section called “penny pinchers” and one on her “cooking secrets.” She even taught me the origin of the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs.” I’m sure a lot of these tidbits are things other people’s actual grandmothers (or mothers) may have passed down to them. But since I had no such women passing on wisdom to me, I love this book.

Do you have any natural remedies you stand by? Any tried-and-true tricks passed down to you from grandma/grandpa?

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