Sunday, July 06, 2014

O..M..G...

So THIS just happened! :) :) :)


We've fallen off the wagon.  No, that's an understatement.  We're BRUISED from falling off the wagon. We fell off the wagon, and it reversed, ran over us twice, and left us in the dust.  We can't even see the wagon in the distance anymore.   Yup.  It's that bad.

I recently started a new job and that's taken a lot of time.  I'm unable to work out now that I'm back in physical therapy, so I haven't been exercising like I was.  Rik is preparing for another shoulder surgery, so he hasn't been working out.  Needless to say, we've been eating out a lot and much of it hasn't exactly been healthy, though our 'junk food' now is nothing like it used to be, usually eating salads at Mad Greens, 'Naked Tenders' (boneless, skinless grilled chicken) at Buffalo Wild Wings, or noodles and vegetables at Noodles & Company.  Though honestly, none of it is homemade and none of it is as healthy as food I cook when I do cook.  For some reason, even when talking to a lot of you, there's something about summertime and not wanting to be in the house over a hot stove that makes sitting out on a nice patio somewhere with a basket of wings and a cold beer a more enjoyable way to spend your mid summers' eves!  And we've had more than a few of those!!

But, now that things are getting into a routine at the new job (which I love!!), I'm going to try to do better about getting our eating back under control. Starting tonight.  

Rik found this cool little gadget (did I mention he loves gadgets?) called a Spiralizer that you can find for about $10.  It looks just like this (but mine is white).  We did our usual Sunday grocery shopping routine and, our decision to do better about eating in the forefront of our minds, purchased three zucchini's that I vowed to use somehow for dinner.  Here''s what happened next!

(I still don't have a name for this!  It's just...)

Deliciousness

1/2 c. raw cashews
1 c. hot tap water
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 zucchini, washed well and ends cut off
1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cup red onion, diced fine
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup Kalamata olives
1 tsp. basil
Garlic salt to taste
1 tsp. sea salt
Vegetable steamer with water set on medium/high






Take the raw cashews (no substitutions: they cannot be roasted or this won't work) and soak them in the cup of hot water for at least 30 minutes.  Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the nuts and set aside the water you used to soak them in.  Put the soaked nuts into a blender with about 1/4 of the reserved water, and blend. You'll need to add water to make it the right consistency.  Think Alfredo sauce. Blend it until you get that nice, creamy sauce.  Once this is ready, set it aside. The way I did it for this recipe is I set the nuts to soak, did the entire rest of the recipe, and then made the sauce toward the end.  I'll mark it for you in the recipe :)







Chop your vegetables and set them aside.  NOW it's time to have fun!  Take your zucchini and use the Spiralizer. This turns them into spaghetti type noodles!  I had them fall directly into the vegetable steamer like so >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Put the lid on, and set them to steam.  You're almost done!






In a small saucepan, heat up your olive oil.  Saute the chopped onion and garlic until they're soft.  Add in the cashew cream that you made at this point, and make sure you turn the heat down to a low medium so it doesn't scald.  Stir it slowly and well until it's heated through.  Add in the chopped tomatoes, chicken, and basil.  Use salt and garlic salt to taste.  The measurements for the salt/garlic salt I've left off on purpose as everyone likes this at a different amount.  Use your own taste buds to make it perfect for you.  








Finally, add in the corn and the olives and heat briefly until they're warm also.  By now your "noodles" should be nicely steamed but not tooooooo steamed.  It should look just like this: >>>>>>>>>








I used tongs to put a good serving of the zucchini 'noodles' on each plate and then topped them with a good few scoops of the creamy chicken mixture.  I'm being perfectly honest here:  I'm pretty hard to impress with my own cooking.  But THIS...this was delicious.  As in, good enough to share with you!  Good enough to get me off my quickly growing butt over the past few weeks and share it with you before I even cleaned the kitchen after dinner!!!!  THIS was good enough to serve company.  


Ok...now down to business.  You can make this vegan by omitting the chicken.  There is no dairy, and it would taste every bit as good without the chicken.  

Don't have all of the vegetables I've listed here?  Exchange them for whatever you've got on hand!  Even the olives.  The basics of this recipe are the cashew cream (follow that exactly) and vegetables.  Any combination you have would be good.  Add in a protein (grilled tofu would work great!), and serve it over noodles.  Or over steamed spinach!  Or over a bed of rice or quinoa!  The basic recipe is:

1/2 c. raw cashews
1 c. hot water
2.5 cups of whatever vegetables you have on hand (frozen work too!)
Seasonings to taste
Something to serve it over

That's it.  Remember: a recipe is only a guideline.  You're under no obligation to make it exactly as written, mine included!  Use what you have on hand!  That's how all of the recipes like the one above come into being.  The corn?  I had an ear of corn left that didn't get eaten over the 4th of July.  The tomatoes?  I bought a little box of grape tomatoes that we didn't finish last week that were starting to wrinkle.  The onion and garlic were a 'gimme' cuz I love onion and garlic, but the rest were things that I had on hand that just needed using and I thought would taste good together.  That's all there is to it!  

Here are the stats!

Time spent:     30 minutes
Servings           3
Calories per    320
Protein           14.4 g
Fiber                2.8 g
Potassium       56.5 mg

As a bonus, it also has 30% of your daily dose of vitamin C, 13% of your iron for the day, not to mention vitamin A and magnesium!!!  Needless to say, Alfredo sauce wouldn't have any of this.  AND, you're using amazingly fresh summer vegetables chock full of deliciousness!!  Seriously people:  I'd serve this to guests. :)

Come on over!  We'll make another batch!  Cuz we totally ate every single bit of this and left nothing. :)