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Turkey bacon sweet potato hash for brekkie!
Growing up, I seriously didn't know what hash was really made of. My mom only ever used canned corned beef hash, so I always thought it was some mushy mixture of meat-esque stuff and some cubed white stuff (though, it never occurred to me the little white things were potatoes...I was so naive). On top of that, she only ever used it for dinner (hash and eggs and rice); I didn't know it was a breakfast food, and I didn't really wake up for breakfast ever anyway. I didn't find out until late into high school when I was dating a guy whose favorite meal was breakfast that hash was actually supposed be for breakfast and was a diced mixture of potatoes, meat and spices. Whoa, the revelation! (If you don't believe me, Wikipedia backs me up here).

Now that I'm cooking for myself, I've realized how much I love breakfast food (hash included)! And since I've discovered yams/orange sweet potatoes, I've fallen in love with them! So this obviously evolved into a sweet potato hash...the healthier version that's missing the fatty unhealthy meats, the less nutritious russet potatoes, and the excessive amounts of oil that people cook it all up in.


 
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Italian supplì
I'm pretty sure everyone knows what a meatball is....the round balls of meat that get served with spaghetti? Yah, that thing. But it's a lot harder to find someone that knows what supplì are. Long story short, supplì are Italian snacks that are breaded and fried rice balls (normally using risotto) with mozzarella in the middle (similar to arancini or arancine, if you know what those are).

SO I'm at my boyfriend's apartment one night and realize how lacking the fridge/pantry is of ingredients...again. You'd think he'd learn by now? Anyway, I scrounge for something low-carb to make and end up with ground turkey breast (click here to find out why I get ground breast meat, specifically), cheese, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), and stuff from the spice rack, and I ended up turning out this random recipe for what I think would be the result if a meatball and a supplì got together and had a baby. In essence, it's a turkey meatball with cheese in the middle that's been breaded in panko and baked instead of fried....with a little tomato sauce on the side.


 
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Gyoza on the left, tofu-turkey patties on the right!
I'm half Japanese and an eighth Chinese, so loving Asian foods just seems sort of obvious. One of the things I stopped eating when I decided to be healthier was gyoza (i.e. the little dumplings that have all sorts of names depending what Asian culture you're talking about). I call it gyoza, my little sister calls it mandoo, my boyfriend calls it wonton, my cousin just says dimsum, and the list goes on.

There are lots of different fillings, different preparation methods, different wrapper recipes, blah blah blah blah. Most of the times I've bought them, they've been filled with pork and veggies....I normally say no to pork these days; it has too much fat. Also, a lot of places fry them, which adds more unnecessary oil to the mix. BUT...I was at a point where I missed it so much that I decided to just try and make it myself...for the first time ever. I was amazed that they didn't actually turn out that bad, hahaha.


 
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That doesn't look too bad, right?
Okay, so not really in a tree, more like in a bowl. Today I give you a cold avocado and crab soup. Sound weird? I know, it really really does. I get it. I thought it, too. Honestly, I was kind of skeptical about the results, but the truth is that it actually turned out pretty dang well.

I created a Pinterest pin to share the original recipe, but I didn't actually find it on Pinterest. I had some avocado to finish off, and wanted to find something interesting to do with it. I feel like this hit that "interesting" mark. The original recipe also called for some ingredients that I just did NOT have...like creme fraiche. I know what creme fraiche is; it's kind of like sour cream but richer and creamier and more expensive (i.e. not something I ever have in my home). I used greek yogurt instead as an easy switch.

Has anyone out there ever heard of chervil? Because I've never heard of this herb before seeing this recipe. SO that means it got replaced with parsley, hahaha. While cooks everywhere say that fresh herbs are better, I just don't have them around. I don't have the green thumb to grow them and don't use them fast enough to warrant buying them, so I normally end up using dried herbs instead. If that bothers you, you can use the fresh stuff. :P

Instead of lemon zest, I used lime zest, and why not? I needed the lime juice anyway, so easier to use lime zest than let it go to waste. It tasted fine, I promise. And I also added spinach to the soup. Why? More nutrients and it added a slightly brighter green color. Anywho, this makes for a great summer soup, but I live in Hawaii, so it's fine year round, tee hee. Enjoy!


 
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From the Pilsbury homepage
Kind of dramatic post title, I know, but here I am thinking about carbs again...they taste so good, and they're so hard to get away from, especially when you love bread and baked goods. Out in the grocery store and newspaper ads, that means that after a childhood full of the stuff, when I see Pillsbury products go on sale my first instinct is, "Oh cool! That would be so easy to make into (fill in the blank with your own ideas)!" Which is normally promptly followed by, "Wait, crap...no, bad self! Can't have Pillsbury! SO bad for you!" It's so troubling having to fight myself (-_-") arg.

When I'm at the store, even if I'm pretty sure I'm not going to buy it, I'll still look at the nutritional information on the back/side to prove to myself that I'm making the right decision in not buying it, hahaha. Actually, though, Calorie Count has created a pretty comprehensive list of all the Pillsbury products and their corresponding nutritional information; they've even gone so far as to give a Nutrition Grade to most of the items! While a C might be a passing grade in school, it's definitely not a pass for my health, much less many of the other items that they ranked as D's. Have a look for yourself, click on the Pillsbury products that you've bought or eaten and see if you're happy with the results. First of all, pay attention to the serving size, and THEN look at the information below it. For example, ONE Grands Flaky Biscuit is almost 200 calories by itself!! *SHOCK* That, and the accompanying 9g of fat and the 24g of carbs (5g come from sugar), whoa! There's barely any fiber, a small amount of protein, and in comparison to the "bad" carb and calorie numbers, it's nutritionally just not worth it. Think of it in terms of something else, like a car; you wouldn't pay $40k for a car that has a great body kit, a nice paint job, and a super luxurious and comfortable interior, but doesn't have tires or is missing the windows and/or the engine, right? It's normally just not worth it.


 
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You're average run of the mill yellow (corn?) tortilla chips
Yesterday I posted a recipe to make a healthier version of a spinach artichoke dip, but I realized today while I was eating some of the leftovers that I probably should have included something about the chips, oops?

Tortilla chips are something I see all over the place normally being served as part of an appetizer like chips and salsa, or chips and spinach artichoke dip, or just a basket of chips to go with your meal. Let's be real, you know chips aren't good for you. Most kinds of chips are [deep] fried to make them crispy. I know there are bags of chips at the store that say they're baked instead of fried, but don't be fooled! Turn the bag over and look at the nutritional values on that thing! Sure, it's not AS bad as the regular chips, but just because they're baked doesn't mean that all the unhealthy ingredients they used have just disappeared!
This is the point at which I realized that making chips isn't all that hard (tortilla chips, at least). Normally, all you have to do is buy your own tortillas, cut them up, and crisp them up in the oven (instead of frying them). The problem arises when you try to find a tortilla to buy and take home; there are so many different brands and different kinds, it's almost as bad as looking for a "good" bag of chips, hah. If you're still intent on buying the store bought kind instead of the make it yourself version, at least go to HealthCastle.com's chip comparer. It's a website apparently created by dietitians, and this comparing tool allows you to filter through the top 40 chips to figure out which is the "healthiest" for your needs.

 
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The oh-so-famous CPK Spinach Artichoke DIp
Let's be real, I don't personally know anyone who doesn't like spinach artichoke dip with a heaping side of tortilla chips or bread. I completely understand the sentiments because I used to order that stuff from California Pizza Kitchen almost every time I went there. Hell, when I realized Costco sold Spinach Artichoke and Parmesan Dip in a container, I bought a container, bought some chips, warmed the dip up in the microwave, and tried to recreate my CPK experience at home. I definitely don't do that anymore  (see my Dining Out: CPK post), and the truth is that I don't have to! There's a healthier option people!!

Sure there are lots of copycat recipes out there that recreate the original spinach artichoke dip, but there aren't a whole lot of healthy options out there. I found a "skinny" spinach artichoke dip recipe on Pinterest, but it still called for mayonnaise and a lot of cheese. So what does that mean? Let's make it healthier! My version is in the pictures below. I think it looks pretty similar if you ask me...and I don't have to feel nearly as bad eating it either!!


 
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This was one of the first few recipes I tried out when I started cooking my own "healthy" meals. I found the original recipe here on the Betty Crocker website. I thought, well, this is simple-ish, it'll make enough for tomorrow, and I don't have to make a crust! Sweet!

If you have a look at the original recipe, it calls for some pretty simple things. You'd think I was being ridiculous for trying to healthify it, but yes, it can be further healthified....and that's how I ended up with the recipe below. I switched out liquid egg whites for whole eggs, almond milk for regular milk, left out the oil, and left out the cheese. I'm not totally sure what the consistency on the inside was supposed to be like, but the first time I made these, I followed the recipe to the letter and ended up with a pretty cake-like middle...i.e. not at all the chicken pot pie I was hoping for. The second time I made them, I kept sticking them with toothpicks until I was sure that they would hold together, but still be a bit gooey on the insides...I love me some pot pie gravy!


I also just want to add here how much I hate recipes for always starting with "Preheat the oven at...." before you get to the ten million steps that follow. What they're telling me is that while I'm taking half an hour to follow all the other steps, my oven is on and wasting electricity for an extra 20 minutes. Silly, silly recipe writers. That being said, I add in the preheating step into the recipe where I think it should be done (see below if you don't believe me).