2/8/08

Top Chef

I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old. I swam in HS and in College and started running my senior year of college (2000). For 13 1/2 years I have been learning how to eat like an athlete. I would say that the first 10 years of being a vegetarian were really hard. At first I cut out the meat for animal reasons but kept my normal diet. Therefore, cheese on everything, salads w/ ranch dressing, cheez-its, chips, a few veggies every now and then (like carrots w/ ranch and celery w/ PB) and lots of pasta and pizza. Although I had no idea what my insides looked like with much of my diet being filled with carbs and fat, I was kinda bulky, but strong, due to all my days of swimming. From HS to the end of college my life was swimming. I swam 6 days a week and with most of the weekdays being two-a-days (especially in college), I probably averaged 10,000-12,000 yards a day of swimming. I was burning A LOT of calories in those days! However, I was eating like a teenage/college athlete and we all know what the kids today are looking like (sedentary and active) from unhealthy eating patterns like my own back in the days. After reading a library of nutrition books and devoting my education to understanding the body and exercise, I learned how to eat like an athlete. During that time, I also developed a LOVE for cooking.
Now I wouldn't say that I could open a gourmet restaurant but I love watching the food channel and creating my own dishes...with a little healthy twist. Since I don't eat meat, I have to be very creative in squeezing in the protein and not overwhelming my meals with carbs. Even though I am not crazy about pasta, I love carbs especially from thin crust pizza and bread. My main goal with my cooking is combining protein w/ carbs in order to stabilize the blood sugar. My other twist is creating meals that people may think are high in calorie but presenting the dish in a way which you get a little of everything and not a lot of one thing. Oh, and when it comes to presentation, a plate w/ food has to look beautiful before you can eat it. The other night Karel came home and I told him to not come into the kitchen for 2 more minutes cause I was still working on the presentation :) I come up with recipes all the time from watching shows on TV. I like to incorporate good nutrients into the meal so that the meal is not only delicious but filling. I posted a few pics of some things I made in the past couple of weeks.

This is a chicken meal I prepared for Karel. Since I can't taste the chicken and test for seasonings, I buy frozen chicken strips and leave the seasonings to Karel. I used egg whites and a little corn meal and "breaded" the chicken and cooked it on a non-stick pan. I also scrambled the eggs and added in a little rice pilaf to the eggs. I then laid spinach on the rice/egg mixture and topped it with the chicken. I always prepare more food than I plan on us eating so that we have leftovers for another meal. That night I had the extra eggs, rice and spinach and served my dish w/ cottage cheese.




This was one of the best deserts I have made! We actually had this after I made Karel's chicken dinner (above). I must of had a little extra time that night (Most of meals only take around 15-40 min. to prepare. I like to be fast in the kitchen!) I found a recipe for an apple struddle and what is better than hot apples w/ cinnamon and brown sugar. I cooked the apples on the stove (I could have used the oven) and topped it with a little brown sugar. I used a tbsp of Smart Balance Omega fortified butter as the apples were cooking.
I then cooked 1/2 cup instant oatmeal for about 45 min. Just enough for the oatmeal to stick together. I added a little cinnamon and put the oatmeal on the apples. I then spooned the oatmeal all over the the the apple and brown sugar (I use light, not splenda. If you look at calories and ingrediants, there is really no difference)and pressed it down. I cut up a few more apples (not cooked) and placed them in a rectangle cooking dish. I then spooned the hot mixture into the dish and topped with a little more brown sugar and cinnamon. WOw...this was a yummy dish. I had a some vanilla Lit n' Fit yogurt on top and I was amazed on how healthy (and yummy) my desert came out!


This was lasts nights dinner. I made "pizza potato skins"!!! And veggies. I microwaved a white potato (I prefer sweet potatos but Karel enjoys the white ones) for about 10 minutes until semi-soft. I then cut it in half and scooped out the inside like a twice baked potatoe. I added a little oregano to the insides and stirred it up in a bowl. I then put a little less than half of the potato/oregano mixture back into the potatos. Karel can now have mashed potatos another night and we saved a bunch of calories from the inside and kept the good stuff on the outside. I preheated the oven to 345. On the potato, before going into the oven for around 5-10 min. I spooned mushroom/green pepper marinara sauce on the potato and topped with part-skim cheese and a little parmesean. When the potato came out of the oven, the cheese was melted and the outside was crispy. And, since i cut the potato into slices, I made 1 potato go along way. I also prepared fresh cooked veggies (I usually have veggies w/ every dinner meal, either w/ eggs, cooked or in a salad) and a side of scrambled egg beaters. Sorry about the spoon on the plate and bad presentation with my veggies. Karel was super hungry and he wouldn't wait for me to take a picture!