Ham, Broccoli, Spinach, & Mushroom Quiche Recipe

Or “Fill in the Blank Quiche.” I talked about the health benefits of eggs in yesterday’s post and have talked about making breakfast for dinner a few times, so I thought I’d share a quiche recipe we’ve made for dinner. It’s very easy to throw together and only takes 30 minutes to bake in the oven. I never remember to take pictures of my food until I’ve already eaten it, so I’ve provided a picture of the final product made by Andrea at Simple Organized Living, one of my favorite sites I follow. Click the picture to see step-by-step directions with pictures of how to make the recipe on her site:
I’m sure the crescent roll dough would have been delicious, but I skipped it when we made ours because I ended up using it to make a chicken pot pie (also from Andrea…also very delicious). Crescent rolls are so flaky and melt-in-your-mouth delicious because they contain a lot of fat, so by not including it in this recipe made my quiche healthier. This type of dish is so versatile because you don’t really have to follow the recipe; you can throw in whatever vegetables you’d like (frozen, fresh, or canned) and can use more or less eggs depending on how many you’re cooking for.

Ingredients
1  8 oz. pkg. refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 c. chopped spinach (I thawed frozen spinach & drained it well)
1-2 c. chopped broccoli
1  4 oz. can mushrooms; drained
6 eggs
3 T. sour cream (I used fat free)
1 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (I skipped the salt since deli meat contains a lot)
1/2 c. shredded cheese {any variety you have on hand}
sliced ham, chopped ham, ground sausage, or other meat of choice {optional}

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream, garlic, and cheese
2. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies
3. {optional}Place sliced ham, chopped ham, or cooked sausage over the top (I just stirred chopped ham in with the mix)
4. Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes or until the center is fully set

Do you have any egg-celent breakfast recipes?

Buy in season, do some freezin’

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post on how to find what fruit & vegetables are in season, be sure to check it out in addition to today’s post.

Strawberries were on sale last week for $1 a pound, so I bought 6 pounds, cut them up and froze all but one pound. We kept one pound fresh and packed whole strawberries in our lunch this week. I usually scoop out a few frozen ones and put them in my yogurt. They thaw out overnight since I pack my lunch after dinner. Strawberries aren’t always that cheap, so when I see the sale, I stock up! If a pound of strawberries usually costs $2.50 per pound out of season and I find the $1 per pound sale, I’ve saved $9 on the 6 pounds I bought! If you have a deep freezer, you could save some mad money by grabbing seasonal produce when it’s cheap. We only have a standard bottom fridge/ top freezer in our apartment, so I can’t go too crazy with these sales. Someday…

If you want some awesome tips on freezing produce and all sorts of food, check out this helpful post from Andrea at Simple Organized Living. You’ll find great ideas on how to freeze foods like baked goods, dairy, baking supplies, and whole meals. She’s developed a freezing system that works for her and uses various sizes of Ziploc bags, Tupperware, and even shoe boxes to make sorting and stacking foods easier. There’s even a Freezer Cooking FAQ from all the questions Andrea got after the first post. Her site is definitely in my top favorite sites I follow, so check her out. Just don’t forget about Budget for Health as you browse in awe through her savvy organizing/decorating/kitchen skills ;) Another useful article I found from Eating well shows how to prep 16 fruits & vegetables.

Even if you don’t have a freezer, there are other ways to preserve foods like canning or making jams. I made 6 jars of jam when blackberries were on sale for 50 cents a pint. Believe it or not, I actually got my recipe to make jam from Andrea. Other foods I buy in bulk and freeze are bread, berries, chicken (our local store has Michigan-farmed chicken breasts for $1.79 per pound on Saturdays), broth (I buy the 32oz carton since it’s often cheaper and just freeze the rest in little Tupperware bowls), and vegetables (I buy bulk red & orange peppers when on sale, chop, and freeze for soups, tacos, stir fry, omelettes, etc). It’s important to keep an eye on your grocery budget when buying in bulk so you don’t go over, but you can typically save a good chunk of change from this practice!

Do you stock up on produce in season? What else do you freeze in bulk?

Chia Seeds: No miracle food, but still a healthy choice

Remember the chia pet, the clay figurines that grew grass-like fur? They used to be a popular item, but fast-forward to today and you’ll find the new trend is to forget the pet and just eat the seeds. With only 50-70 calories in one tablespoon, you also get fiber, heart healthy omega-3s, protective antioxidants, and 27 other nutrients thrown in with the deal. No wonder they’re being promoted as a super food!

The ratio of nutrients in chia seeds is about 44% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 31% fat. The fats are unsaturated and good for your cardiovascular system, but fat is still fat and should be consumed in moderation. Chia seeds are flavorless, so there is a wide variety of ways to incorporate them into your diet- sprinkle them on a salad, blend them in a smoothie, mix in with rice, sneak into baked goods, stir into your morning oatmeal, tuck them in a casserole…my sister-in-law even put them in Jell-o to make it look polka-dotted. Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds don’t need to be ground to reap the benefits, although that is an option. If you do decide to try chia seeds, I’d recommend getting them as a grocery item, not from the chia pet set since they aren’t approved as food by the FDA.

You’ll see ads promoting chia seeds as a weight loss aid because the seeds absorb water and expand, offering the claim that you feel fuller sooner and will eat less. While there is little evidence for weight loss benefits, it’s still a nutritious food to incorporate into your diet. Chia seeds are a healthy ingredient we can enjoy just like other seeds (flaxseeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds…) but don’t get caught up in the marketing and think this is a cure-all miracle food. The best diet comes from a balanced plate and portion control!

Have you tried chia seeds? What ways do you use them in recipes?

Hide your Veggies

Raise of hands—how many of you eat the recommended number of vegetable servings every day? The recommended servings of vegetables are 3-4 or 4-5 depending on your caloric needs (one serving = ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup raw).

If I asked a room of 100 people this question, recent stats from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention say that only 27 of you would be able to honestly raise their hand.

How to fix this dilemma? Try hiding your veggies. Researchers at Penn State did a small 41-person study on hiding vegetables in food and it produced some interesting results.

How it worked:
The university offered these participants breakfast, lunch, and dinner once a week for 3 weeks. The catch was that pureed vegetables replaced some ingredients in one of the items at each meal- carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni & cheese at lunch, and chicken-and-rice casserole at dinner.

When enough pureed vegetables were added to triple the amount of vegetables in the dish, the calorie content decreased by 15%. When enough were added to increase the veggies by 4.5 times, the calories decreased by 25%.

The results
Participants consumed the same weight of food regardless of the amount of pureed vegetables the dish contained. This means that on days the veggies were tripled, they ate 200 less calories. On days the veggies were multiplied by 4.5, they ate 360 fewer calories.

Try your own study
Play around with some pureed veggies & see if it works for you. If you’re looking for places to hide, here are a few suggestions:

Spaghetti sauce- sauté and then puree peppers, mushrooms, onions or even broccoli & add to your sauce for
Casseroles: Dice carrots, celery, corn, turnips, cabbage, leeks, green beans…what can’t you add to a casserole?
Soups: Puree some cooked carrots & broccoli to add to the broth and then add even more by throwing in some bite size pieces
Smoothies: Add some green leafy vegetables to your fruity smoothie
Pasta: This might be a new idea to you, but you can make your own vegetable noodles and use less real pasta. Use a peeler long ways on a zucchini or carrot and eat raw or boil them for a little bit with your noodles (not too long though or you lose some vitamins). Spaghetti squash is a good alternative too since they’re already noodle-shaped for you!

As for un-pureed vegetables, you can always throw more in a salad, sandwich, wrap, on an omelet or breakfast burrito, or just dip them in some hummus or a light dressing. If you have a salad with your meal, eat it before your entrée and you might not need to finish the entrée. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Do you hide your veggies? What methods do you use to eat more vegetables?

Fresh, Canned, or Frozen?

What’s cheaper? What’s healthier? Can they be used interchangeably? Let’s compare and contrast our options.

Fresh
Fresh produce is my favorite to pack with lunch. I love enjoying a crisp apple for a snack or crunchy carrots & radishes with some hummus. However, the time it takes to harvest produce, distribute it, and finally appear on the shelves can be weeks, consequently diminishing the nutrient content. Shopping at a local grocery store, farmer’s market, or buying frozen may significantly close that time gap from harvest to purchase.

Canned
Canned vegetables are great to have stocked in the pantry. It saves so much time on prep and can easily be incorporated into many soups, casseroles, or just served as a side dish. When choosing canned vegetables, look for the phrase “no salt added.” You’ll see a huge difference when you compare sodium content. For example, Hunt’s tomato sauce contains 820 mg per half cup, while the same brand with “no salt added” contains only 40mg/ half cup. WOW!

Choose canned fruit that’s packed in 100% juice. You’ll see options of heavy syrup, light syrup, or some kind of juice (often pear). The fruit itself already contains fructose, a natural occurring sugar, so there’s no need to have the unnatural stuff in there.

Frozen
Like canned produce, frozen is a convenient option to stock in the freezer and add to soups, casseroles, or stir fry. A bonus about frozen produce is that it is packaged and frozen soon after picking. Much of the nutritional value is retained, making them convenient and sometimes even superior than fresh. I buy frozen vegetables plain and add my own flavors rather than buy the kind that comes with a sauce. It can add loads of sodium, fat, and calories. I like tossing broccoli in a glass dish with the lid on and microwaving it for a few minutes while I finish up the main dish.

Since fresh produce spoils if not used in a short time frame, prep and freeze fresh produce for a later use. If you enjoy smoothies or making your own parfaits, buying frozen fruit can save some money. Compare price per ounce to see for yourself. On average, fresh strawberries can cost up to $2.25/lb fresh, $1.00/lb frozen. Blueberries can cost up to $2.50/lb fresh , $2.00/lb frozen.

There are a lot of options to choose from, but once you know what to look for, shopping healthy for a good bargain becomes an easy task!

How do you incorporate fresh, frozen or canned produce into your diet?