Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Splurging on EPA

Part of the new year for me will be working on my health. I have a ways to go. I am a little overweight and I have been a smoker, so I really want to start repairing some of the damage I've done over the past decade.

Lean Cuisine has been really good to me, since they have no preservatives, are low priced, and offer a rewards program that allow me to shop (no shipping and their merchandise is quality). With a strict budget for food (another project for the new year--finances) I don't feel as guilty if I splurge on one item.

This supermarket trip I decided to try a product I've seen in Woman's Day several times. Jif now makes a peanut butter with DHA and EPA.

DHA and EPA are believed to help a number of issues including ADHD (check), mental health, cancer, and pregnancy (un-check). Fish oil is another supplement that adds Omega-3's to the body's system but I think you'd agree, this one tastes better. Peanut butter is also a protein that helps you feel more full for longer.

If you're a local resident and would like to try Jif Omega-3 let me know. I picked up an extra jar.

Saving money helps us to be more generous. That's my number one resolution.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Savvy Shopper: Pineapple Salsa

The holidays are over but we've all made our resolutions and if you're strange like me, you starting to buy discount gifts for next Christmas. One of the best gifts I received this year were homemade gifts. I think you can appreciate these gifts more when you attempt to bake for Christmas yourself. You realize how costly and time consuming it becomes.

I imagine most of you have made resolutions to eat more healthy. This issue of Woman's Day lent a few great tips on how to eat healthy and I couldn't wait to make the pineapple salsa (pg, 107).

We've all heard fresh is better and, although you can't buy fresh pineapple unless you live in Hawaii, fresh pineapple has an enzyme that aids digestion and a higher percentage of vitamin C (the heating process of canned pineapple reduces the quality of nutrients).

I was excited to buy my pineapple and make my salsa, because I have a special contraption specifically for slicing pineapple that I received from Tomeca Paige, Pampered Chef representative. It works really well and helps guard against cut fingers:

Here is a reiteration of Woman's Day's tips that I thought were pretty helpful:

1. Lift the pineapple and sniff. The leaves should be crisp and green and the skin should be golden yellow. Also, a ripe fruit feels heavy.

2. Pineapples last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks refrigerated.

3. The core is tough but it makes a great syrup to drizzle over pound cake or cocktails. Pampered Chef's pineapple corer makes that easy: it slices a perfect cylinder of pineapple.


  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into ½-in. pieces
  • 1  jalapeño, (seeded for less heat) finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon(s) lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine jalapeño, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, olive oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

I was able to reuse a mason jar given to me as a Christmas gift (a layered cookie treat) or you could get one for a good price at your local flea market (I recommend Kemper Street Flea Market locally) and I grabbed a bag of tortilla chips (you can make those too--pg ).

The salsa was grand and I was able to give my Mom an instant post-Christmas gift AND reuse a gift at the same time! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Fortune Cooking

I can understand why black-eyed peas bring good luck: they are low in calories and rich with a number of nutrients including fiber, calcium, folate, vitamin A, zinc, iron, and potassium. Southern culture may not have been the author of the new year superstition but they certainly have perfected the culinary sentiment. Those of us native to the region enjoy them with greens, cornbread, or other vegetables--and feel as proud as Paula Deen.

January's edition of Woman's Day clued me into local author (he's from our neighbor North Carolina) Rick McDaniel who celebrates this very dish in his book An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Whole Hog Barbecue. His "Hoppin' John" recipe suggests salt pork and rice for the new year. I decided to go the healthier route with turkey bacon (which does not crumble as well by the way) and spinach:


4 slices of bacon

2 cloves garlic

15 oz can black-eyed peas

1/4 cup water

10 oz cup spinach (stems discarded)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook 4 slices bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Break into pieces. Add 2 cloves garlic (sliced) to skillet and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add a  15-oz can black-eyed peas (rinsed) and 1/4 cup water and cook until heated through. Add one 10-oz pkg spinach, season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing, until beginning to wilt, 2 minutes. Toss with bacon.

This dish went well with my New Year's Day family meal which included pork chops with roasted carrots and oranges (pg 110 Woman's Day January--Easy Every Day Meals). This particular meal came out to a little more than $2.45 a serving because we made it for 6 and purchased additive and hormone free pork from Bedford Avenue Meat Market. The fillets were tender and juicy, only simply seasoned with salt and pepper:

  • 2 teaspoon(s) honey
  • ½ teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  •  pound(s) medium carrots, cut into 2-in. pieces (halved lengthwise if large)
  • 1  navel orange, cut into wedges
  • 3  scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup(s) fresh dill, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 4  1-in.-thick pork chops, trimmed (about 1¼ lb total)

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, cumin, 1 Tbsp oil, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with the honey mixture and arrange in an even layer. Nestle the oranges among the carrots and roast until the carrots are tender and beginning to turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Toss with the scallions and dill (if using).
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ½ tsp each salt and pepper and cook until browned and nearly cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Serve with the carrots and roasted orange wedges for squeezing.

You'll remember my special dishes from Kemper Street Flea Market. I love using them for special occasions like this.

I don't usually like cooked orange vegetables (the only thing I will consistently refuse is fennel) but the roasted oranges and honey added a unique, distinct flavor to the experience. 

I hope good luck and quality food will find you in the new year.