Spring MEALS kick off...Happy-Healthy-Habits

*** Happy Healthy Habits ***
Spring MEALS kick off.
After the Christmas holidays...Valentines...St.Patrick's...
and now, right before, yet another eating bonanza at Easter...
I'm trying to squeeze in some common sense and hopefully...
at least, temporarily, until the next feast...
some practicing healthy habits.

I, like most, get on the cycle of enjoying the moment.
However, not too long afterwards...
I start planning how I can slowly wean off the past feasting period.
SLOW is key to acceptable success...isn't it?!?

How many times do we kid ourselves into
believing that this time will be different?
January brings on good intentions and a slew of empty promises to ourselves.
The false expectations of exercise and diet fall quickly out of popularity.
I figure, I'll be fine...as long as don't join the couch potatoes any time soon.

I do, however keep up my walking and swimming regimen...
albeit, not as many times as I'd like ;0( 
A while ago, I had to really comprehend that like so many others...
I am a vulnerable human being when it comes to controlling what I eat. 
Searching for an appropriate balance...has become a constant challenge!
I am absolutely in love with great food. 

Unfortunately, some of that great food carries too many calories that will go straight to you know where!
I still have way too many great tantilizing desserts like for example this flavourful
' Chocolate Clementine Nut Cake'.
Even this very moist Italian cheescake:
'Ricotta cheese Chocolate Rum cake'
has found its way around the table a few times.

Not to mention how the lingering chilly weather always brings us to make our comfort foods a little more comfortable than they should really be...if you know what I mean ;)
I'm still somehow living up my ' Dolce Vita '...albeit, along with some HAPPY regular good HEALTHY homemade cooking HABITS to keep things running fairly smoothly.
Thankfully, however, most of my meals and desserts are made with a lot of variant alternatives to the salts, sugars and flours used in most recipes.

This subject is very dear to my heart and extremely important to
sustaining a menu that is both pleasing to the palette as well as our health.
I'll definitely be getting into this topic a little later in my feature articles.

All this to say, not withstanding a few gluttonous moments here and there...I really did make an effort to realistically moderate myself through these past few feasting months.

Now, Spring is finally upon us.
The beautiful colors of its symbolic blooms will serve
to giving many people a new sense of purpose.

When it concerns influencing better life style choices for change...
Spring is definitely my season of choice.
Today, I thought of sharing some of my easy lighter menus
to kick start some better ways to eating.
Keep in mind...I do not believe in drastic changes.
I hate to feel that I am punishing myself.
Just moderate your portions and do not go stingy on flavours.

are key to succeeding towards a healthier way of eating.
Satisfy your tummy through your senses.

Here's a small peek at examples of a typical week in our kitchen
and how easily well we feed ourselves (most) of the time ;0)

First and foremost...the first aroma of the very early start to my busy day.
Alright...confession...this image is in my little dreamy world...' Hubby ' serving me with a little cute cappuccino message.  A girl can dream...can't she?
I do usually have a cup of coffee only in the morning...so I make sure to enjoy every sip.
Photo: Imagechef

Then, once a warm beverage has been enjoyed...not too long afterwards...I look forward to some solids. 
For me it has to be a few walnuts (rich in Omega 3) or some brazil nuts to make sure to get my daily dose of selenium.

photo: Rita Wren...on Flickr.com

On days for which I do not need to rush somewhere...
I take the pleasure of moving on to a few small helpings of yummy fresh fruits.

When I'm a little pressed for time...I'll put together a fast 'fruit smootie' with some grounded golden flaxseed.  Added fresh parsley or mint is really yummy too.

Mid-morning BREAKFAST
(during the week)
I do have a few favourites...one of them being:

A deliciously warmed up bowl of 'steel-cut' oats accompanied by a little more fruit, some grounded gold flaxseed, 'black strap' molasses, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup!
Breakfast usually satisfies me for a few hours at least.
Then, I can be patient about when lunch is coming around.

Of course...we've been good all week...
so we feel less guilty about our little
' Weekend BREAKFAST and BRUNCH Delights '.
Here's one of our favourites...
a slightly substantial breakfast...healthy, nonetheless ;0)

Lightly 'stuffed chocolate cheese Crepes'
Here are some main ingredients:
A filling of: smooth creamy cheese, melted chocolate, a few crushed roasted almonds...and just a touch of 'Grand Marinier' liquor. 
All this topped with a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

Something a little more filling...how about some...
' baked French toast with Strawberry and banana '.

Mid day light LUNCH meals to keep us going...
but not too heavy on the digestion.

Staying alert with a protein and fibre meal: ' Eggs and veggies platter '. 

Here are some main ingredients:
Goat cheese spread, semi-hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and an accompaniment of fresh olive bread.

Sometimes...a great soup or potage will hit the spot!  The sweet joy of this amazing  'Potage trio Butternut winter roots spiked potage '
Here are some main ingredients:
butternut squash, carrots, celery rave, roasted cashews, shredded combo Cheddar cheese.

How about sometimes having a filling lettuce meal accompanied with cheese, legumes and veggies?
I get very creative with this.

Or, maybe...
I'm feeling hungrier than usual...mummm...
how about a very hearty SANDWICH surprise.

Every time I make one of these...
I just go with whatever goodies I find in my pantry:
tuna, rich in omega 3 sardines and my favourite...'wild sockeye salmon'.

From the fridge...I'm sure to always have leftovers like chicken or fish.
I also make sure I have the right condiments ready:
Dijon, some roasted peppers which my mother-in-law generously provides me with.

Then, there are also my very favourites:

'Roasted Eggplant balsamic spread' and my creamy mock recipe for a guiltless (Tzatziki meets Mayo)
type spread:
'Medi Herb Yogurt spread'.

Also, something I've just recently discovered called 'Pindjur'...which is a Turkish puréed blend of roasted red peppers, eggplants, tomatoes...and no additives!
I've been amusing myself pronouncing the word as well as more importantly exploring the many uses of this new found joy of this contained, fresh tasting, pre-made spread.
I'm sure to be soon realizing and sharing the recipes I concoct in my kitchen.

Other very easy and flavourful fill-ins are my very dependable:
marinated wild mushrooms...also canned or marinated artichokes.

Now, all this would be futile if I were not to have the proper foundation to this sandwich.  I always make sure to have very nutritional rustic type breads so that I can create a fulfilling meal at any time of the week!
I still have not ventured in the world of homemade bread making. This is something I most certainly want to try baking. For some reason...I've been holding off to a time in my life where I feel like I can dedicate more of my attention to it.  I am looking forward to that challenge hopefully soon.
Who knows...I may start with one of the recipes I found on Irish Soda bread.

On weekends only...afternoon SNACKING...
is something both 'Hubby' and I enjoy immensely...
especially if there is no grand supper meal plan in the making.
Keep in mind...snacking can be achieved with some practically guiltless recipes.

Snack on corn tacos...with a 'tangy baby artichoke salad' and 'avocado yogurt dip'.  Another great choice would be this extremely healthy and tasty...'medi Sweet Potato Yogu Chickpea Dip Spread' 


Weeknight SUPPERS
(within 60 minutes or less)

MEAT based meals:

' Veggie Legume Veal Pork Meatloaf '
These very small (2 person) meatloafs were prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer for later use. 
Thaw the meatloaf the night before...pop it in the oven with some potatoes...and a great meal will be on the table within the hour!

The very same recipe from above...however transformed into handy quick baking ' Rustic Hamburgers '.

(within 30 minutes or less)
At times, the day has flown by and supper has to be made in a jiffy!
Therefore, I'll usually rely on my very practical, healthy choices such as:

MEAT based meals:

' Porto PORK tenderloin fillet with CHEDDAR, Swiss Chard Here are some main ingredients:
Lean pork tenderloin fillet, caramelized onions, and a little 'Porto' spirit.  
Some grated strong Cheddar cheese to combine all the flavours.
All plated on sautéed bed of greens.

Pasta and Grain dishes:

CAULIFLOWER mushroom Farfalle PASTA
Here are some main ingredients:
Cauliflower, garlic,  onions, olives, 
red peppers, mushrooms and a little 'Sherry' spirit.  Pasta: 'Farfalle' (aka bow ties) ...or other choice is fine too.

 'Linguini and Red Pepper Rapini sauce'
Here are some main ingredients:
Rapini, garlic, onions, sun-dried tomato, kidney beans and a little 'Sherry' spirit.

'Polenta Squash Cabbage casserole'
Here are some main ingredients:
Polenta tube (store bought), puréed squash, savoy cabbage, crushed canned Italian tomatoes...and a great blend of grated cheese.

Fish and Seafood selections:

'Basa fish fillet on a bed of veggies'
Here are some main ingredients:
Pangasius fish fillet (a.k.a Basa) or similar type, onions, roasted almonds and a little 'Sherry' spirit.  
All plated on a pre-made on a vegetable macedonia mix.

'Shrimp Veggie sauté on Asian noodles'
Here are some main ingredients:
Large shrimp, onions, red peppers, and brocolli with plashes of various Asian sauces.
All plated on some 'Mung Bean Sprout' Asian noodles.

And then...there are those
last minute crisis moments...
or I honestly just plain do not feel like cooking.
"Honey...on the way home...
can you pick up a roasted chicken please" ?
Well, alright...the least I can do is plate it nicely ;)

On weekends...
SUPPERS may consist of some lengthier preparations:

This amazingly tasty and comforting  'Mediterranean style SHEPPARD'S PIE'.
Keep in mind...there will probably be some leftovers for another time...Bonus!

Or have a try at this very tender-finger licking (2 hour) slow cooked oven roast.
'Sweet and Sour CHICKEN roast'

In some cases...and more importantly, is how we satisfy our sweet tooth.
Do not forget that through all this change for better habits...
stay sane by still enjoying what you selectively place into your mouth.

While keeping up a great health lifestyle...
don't forget to keep it interesting.

 That means...indulging in decadent chocolates like these slightly 'spirited CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES' once and a while.  This will most certainly go a long way to keeping us on the right path.

Some cheating moments are still allowed.
With controlled, intense moderation...
the sneaking of a small treats can be acceptable.  Right?

Speaking of intense...here's a great experiment I did making pungently tasting 'CANDIED (crystallized) GINGER'. 
Go ahead and give it a try...you'll never want to purchase the store-bought type again.

Other Lesser Sinful DESSERTS:

Here’s a delicious, albeit, less caloried sweet version of the traditional Pecan Pie...a Maple syrup based  'PECAN PIE with graham crust'. I've never gone back to making it the typical way again.

Enjoy this truly decadent, refreshing 'Frozen CHOCOLATE MOUSSE' consisting of only 3 main Ingredients.  Very easy.
It tastes and feels exactly like an Italian Gelato.

Finish any meal with these extremely easy to make lighter crunchy flat cookies: ‘NUTTY cookie CRISPS‘...otherwise known in Italian as 'Brutti ma Buoni'.


Also...as a last resort...and pleasant nonetheless...
don't forget to spoil yourself at your favourite bakery ;0)

Here’s wishing us all...
happy, healthy energy and time to take action on this...
Spring MEALS kick off.
Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com