Welcome to 'Keeping the Bulge at Bay'
This blog is designed to discuss the hardest part of losing weight...keeping it off! To understand my story and what my reasons are for creating this blog, please follow this link to my first post: "The REAL Beginning..." It's raw, real, and honest.
Hope you enjoy reading my posts, and please feel free to leave any feedback you may have!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ravishing Recipes!

Once again, it has been what seems like an eternity since I have last posted-sorry! I’m going to go ahead and blame the amount of stuff I’ve been doing lately, like planning my wedding (which is 42 days away-not like I’m counting or anything), my summer Baroque Art class, full-time job, creating my paintings/drawings, etc. sooooo much going on!

Any who, I have been reworking some classic recipes and will post them hopefully next week (in the effort for full disclosure, I have a dress fitting and am a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s weddings next week so it may not be until the week after haha). But before I release the refined recipes I’ve been working on to showcase some of my healthy eating tips, I want to send you all two of my favorite go-to recipes-one of which is a weekly “go-to” meal. I promise they are healthy and will last a verrrry long time in the frig.

The first is my version of ratatouille! I originated it off of a version that my dad created and I ran long and fast  with it, and may I just say, it is my fiance’s favorite meal I make (allow me to take a big domestic bow right here).

There are two very important steps to this recipe-are you listening? FIRST KEY STEP-do not measure anything-no I’m not crazy… I’m serious! Don’t measure a gosh darn thing that goes into the pot. STEP TWO-let it simmer for at least an hour if possible (or if you like firmer vegetable less time). The reason for an hour is that all of the ingredients get plenty of time to get relaxed, loosen up, and show their true colors and flavors to their fellow veggy friends…now maybe I’m starting to get a ‘lil cray-cray’.

Staying on track [it’s Friday and I’m under tons of stress, what else would someone expect ;) ], those are the main steps, and the rest could not be simpler. I like to make the biggest batches I can at a time because that way we have it for days, but please feel free to adjust according for your living needs, styles, and healthy habits!

Here is what I usually put in:

(Note, yes I will be counting some vegetables but that’s just to give you a ball park ‘guesstimate’ of what I put in, the amounts truly change according to what our garden is ‘spitting out’ at the time.)

(Note # 2-our garden is completely organic so the vegetable size is probably a bit smaller and more regular than some versions in the grocery store or at your local farm market-just adjust it to your tastes…i.e. if you love tons of zuchinni-bulk up on that instead of or in addition to squash…this truly is a fool proof recipe-I PROMISE!)

·         1 or 2 medium squash
·         1o r 2 medium zucchini
·         ½ to 1 whole red or yellow onion (whichever kind you have in the cabinet)
·         ½ to 1 whole Bell pepper (whichever kinds you have available-we use green bells the most because it’s what he have, but we also put in banana peppers (frying peppers) now that they are being ‘spit out’ by the garden)
·         2 cans of diced tomatoes (Italian seasoned version is my favorite
·         1 can of stewed tomatoes (Italian seasoned again)
o   I will be making this and canning my own version once tomatoes start coming like crazy-which I’m praying will be soon-we have 9 tomato plants!
·         A little salt & pepper, and Italian seasoning

Now to how I cook this, pay attention I know this is going to sound hard haha...
  1.  Thinly cut up the zucchini and squash and put in it a pot to start cooking-cover it with a lid
  2. After just a few minutes add the chopped up onion and peppers-cover it with a lid
  3. After a few more minutes add the three cans of tomatoes-cover it with a lid 
            a. Let it simmer for about an hour, stirring every 5-10 minutes (give or take) –simmer with lid on.
  4. One important thing to do is CHECK ON IT during that hour! I don’t like it too ‘soupy’ so if you see it getting too liquidy for your preference, take the lid off and let some of the juice boil out of the pot-then return lid back on.
  5. A few minutes before serving add S&P and a little Italian seasoning for flavor
  6.   ENJOY it as a side dish or (our favorite way of consuming this delectable delight) having a large portion of it over 1 cup of egg noodles with parm cheese on top-yummmmmmy!
Looks amazing, no?!?
And now to my FAMOUS pesto that has gotten RAVE reviews (don't I sound so humble and modest? haha). This, unlike my ratatouille, does require a bit of measuring-but don’t be afraid to play around with it-I surely did. The way I came up with it is by following the recipe below and tweaking it to be heathier…allow me to explain.
Below is the recipe with my added notes to make it healthy…and let me tell you…it worked wonders!
  •  2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
    • Use MORE than 2 cups. I probably used closer to 3 cups. This causes a more intense basil flavor which means you’ll need less pesto to achieve the same flavor-saving calories! Get it fresh from the garden or farmers market-it works much better! 
  •  2 cloves garlic
    •       I've made it with three before...just make sure you don't have to kiss anyone that night ;)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • Regular S&P work just fine
  •  1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • I DID NOT use freshly grated cheese from a block of cheese. I used the kind you get in the bag at the cheese/deli section of the grocery store. It has a stronger flavor then Kraft parm in the bottle but has the same fineness which is needed. I tend to use more than 1/2 cup as well-I prefer a stronger parm flavor than oil flavor. Again, the stronger parm flavor means you will need less to achieve the same expectations-which means less calories consumed!
  •  Combine the basil, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil and cheese and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
 (Picture is a double batch in large jars)
Pesto is healthy for you (good fats), but too much isn’t good for your waistline. I found that by making the flavors more intense-especially the parm flavor, I ended up using less than half of what I would have used regularly. TRY IT! I promise you won’t be disappointed J
Now that I’ve shared my two favorite garden creations, I will be sharing my healthy alterations and revamps to meals shortly-they are coming out amazing, you will certainly be surprised (I sure as hell was haha).
Please share, what meals do you want to see revamped? What healthy recipes have you created that you want to share with the world of people trying to keep the bulge at bay? Please post them here!
Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay…