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When I posted a picture of the supper I served Wednesday evening, I received a lot of positive email asking for the recipe for the Blue Cheese Dressing that I make with Fage Greek Yogurt. It is truly yummy and I cant think of anything more delicious to top my tomatoes, or to MOISTEN tiny bites of grilled chicken or steak.
POST OP TIP: use lower fat sauces to turn food into a moist smushy chewed up bite in your mouth. You want to put a combination of food, vegetable, and sauce into your mouth so when it is chewed up, it is going to be soft and squishy – sorry for TMI, but it is important to get this concept!
I also got many questions and comments that many of you found that it was hard to put together a meal in a hurry because you don’t know what to do first. It made me realize that maybe its not just the recipes, but how to time everything and organize it! So I have used this space to create a step by step walk through for this simple and inexpensive meal.
I keep vegetables in the fridge plus my pantry staples in my cabinets that I shop for each Saturday – and stop at the grocery store to pick up my protein each evening after work. I don’t stock up on or freeze meat, because that involves thawing and preparation that I don’t have time for. I find it is time efficient to run in and pick up fresh chicken, or pork chops, or salmon, or shrimp, buying whatever happens to be on sale … then I can just insert that protein into my meal! There is ALWAYS something in the meat or fish case that is rock bottom priced on a sale – salads and vegetable can be served with anything. So I am flexible when I walk into the store
I posted my meal the other night to make a point about budget cooking. There is some resistance in the bariatric population when I talk about ‘Healthy Eating’ and people actually get a bit defensive. Healthy Eating has nothing to do with having or not having a lot of money – it doesn’t mean that one must shop at Whole Foods, or buy all organic food – fresh wholesome food does not have to be expensive or organic, so please be open minded. I buy organic produce when it is on sale, in season, and makes sense, but healthy eating really means that we no longer buy or eat ready made processed frozen packaged or canned convenience foods, take out or fast food.
If we were all experts and knew how to prepare healthy food, there would not have been a need for us to have had bariatric surgery. We were/are all guilty of making not just bad, but terrible choices. Even after having weight loss surgery, many of us still feed our family unhealthy food. We are not bad people, nor are we necessarily bad parents – but lets at least admit that we can always make better buying and cooking decisions no matter how little or how much we have to invest in the health of our families.
If there is $5 in a budget for supper, it can be used to make grilled chicken and vegetables just as easily as it can be used for frozen pizza or Hot Pockets. To go really deep into a low budget, for under $2 we can make homemade pasta sauce and serve it on top of a dish of whole wheat spaghetti. For a buck, a bag of lentils, an onion, and a bouillon cube turns into a delicious thick soup. On our message board when we talk about ‘Cheap Eats’ we mean cheap price, but definitely NOT cheap quality. Cheap quality is a shame and people not only get sick, but they can die – as has been illustrated by recent salmonella and e coli outbreaks.
The other night, when I popped into the grocery store after work, Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs were $1.99/lb – so a package of 6 was $2.23, those nice Campari Tomatoes 2.99 but BOGO made them half price, packages of wax coated Blue Cheese were two for $4, fresh Broccoli was two for $4 – too bad there are only two of us as this spread feeds six. The Blue Cheese Dressing that I made with Fage Greek Yogurt… priceless.
TIP: when a grocery store has a product on sale BOGO, which means Buy One Get One Free, you must take TWO. However, when they price an item 2 for $5, you CAN buy just one and the price will be $2.50 – however, we sometimes get caught up in the marketing. If you want 2 items, great… but many times do we really not need 2 and don’t want 2 but the way its positioned the marketing gets us to place two items in our cart.
When I saw the price of that package of chicken I knew I could either season them to roast in the oven or pop on the grill – done deal. When I saw the tomatoes, I knew we would have a gorgeous bowl of red tomato wedges, ditto for the broccoli as I could steam or roast it depending on what I did with the chicken. When I saw the sale on the really good Blue Cheese – it sang for me to put it with those tomatoes. If Blue Cheese was not on sale, I would have dressed the tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar – no problem. If Brussels sprouts were on sale, we’d have had Brussels sprouts instead of broccoli.
Let’s Make Supper!
When I got home, I put the grocery bag in the kitchen, my computer bag and purse on the bed, washed my hands and assembled what I needed. Just like Rachel Ray – get out everything you need, so the cooking goes faster and you know if you are out of something before you begin!
Turn on the grill and group your ingredients. The package of chicken on waxed paper on the counter – next to it, the salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Tomatoes on the counter – next to it the Hellmann’s, Fage Greek yogurt, and shallots.
Chicken takes the longest time to prepare and cook, so it goes first. On a plate – seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika – flip it over, season the other side. Grab tongs and out to the grill. Chicken goes smooth side down and lid of the grill is closed. The plate and tongs come back inside with me to get washed since they were used on raw chicken.
Next fill your pot with water to about half, add a tablespoon of sea salt, turn the stove to high to boil for the broccoli. Lop off the top of the broccoli in one slice with a kitchen knife – and into a bowl. We don’t eat the stems, but if you have a bigger family, take off the tough outside using a vegetable peeler and slice them for the bowl as well.
While waiting for the water to boil make the Blue Cheese Dressing. I often use raw rather than caramelized shallot, if using raw use, just 1 tablespoon of minced shallot. This dressing is off the charts delicious when you take the time to caramelize the shallots or red onion – but it is faster and still excellent with a bit of raw when you don’t have the time.
Blue Cheese Dressing
per 1/4 cup: Calories 90, Fat 7 , Carbs 2, Protein 6
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise
3/4 cup Fage Greek yogurt
4 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
Saute shallots in oil until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and yogurt; add blue cheese mashing with rubber spatula to blend until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the caramelized shallots. Cover and chill before serving to blend flavors.
Set dressing to the side, grab plate and tongs and back outside to flip the chicken, leaving tongs and plate next to the grill. Back to the kitchen, water is boiling, add the broccoli and turn down the heat.
Wipe down cutting board and cut five golf ball sized tomatoes into quarters; into a glass bowl. Add a few dollops of the dressing and set it aside.
Drain the broccoli and return it to the pot, toss with olive oil and sea salt – back on the stove with the burner off.
Retrieve the chicken from the grill – back into the kitchen to plate the meal. Toss the tomatoes with the dressing and spoon onto the plates, next is the broccoli, and then the chicken – and that is the dish!