Friday, June 22, 2012

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup

So… with the hot weather I’ve been really lazy about making dinners and since turning on the oven or stove is just about the worst idea I can imagine, we’ve been eating out a lot wayyyy too much.

Alas, last night, the wind showed up and the weather cooled, which meant it was the perfect time to use up all my fresh veggies that were close to going bad.

I call it “Fridge Soup,” however, admittedly, its not the most appetizing name, so for aesthetic purposes I’ll call it “Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup.” This recipe has a couple staple ingredients, but the rest is up to you, just use whatever you have in your fridge. It’s low-cal, super filling, and simply amazing with a couple slices of buttered French bread. Enjoy!

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup (Or-What-Have-You)

**Note: This recipe made enough for 3 meals for 2 people—I froze what wasn’t eaten, more on that later.

The Staples:
1 box of Chicken or Beef Flavored Rice-A Roni (I actually used the Trader Joes kind)
2 tbls butter
1 Qt. of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1.5 Qt. of Water
1 Chicken Bullion Cube
Roughly 6-8 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Thyme
Salt & Pepper
4 Bay Leaves

The Optionals:
The rest of the ingredients are totally up to you! I used EVERY veggie I could find, I figured, the more the merrier! Here’s what I used:

1 lb Ground Turkey (Ground Beef is great in this recipe too)
2 Carrots Chopped
½ Red Onion
1 Zucchini Chopped
1 Orange Bell Pepper Chopped
1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
Some Cauliflower
Some Broccoli
Some Frozen Corn
Some Frozen Peas
A Big handful of Chopped Cabbage
Some more Garlic (because I’m a SUPER fan)
A few dashes of Cayenne Pepper

The Process:
1. In a GIANT pot I browned my ground turkey using a touch of olive oil on the bottom. Once that’s cooked, transfer to a bowl—but keep the pot on the heated stove.

2. Put the butter in the bottom of the pot. Once melted, put the rice contents of the Rice-A-Roni into the Pot and brown (just like it says on the package). Once the vermicelli starts to brown, add your Chicken Broth, Water, Bullion Cube, and Rice-A-Roni Flavor Packet. Stir.

3. Add Thyme, Bay Leaves, Pepper (I advise not adding salt until after it’s close to being done cooking, as there is a lot of salty flavors in the broth, bullion and flavor packet.)

4. Add back your ground meat and throw in any veggies you can find in your fridge. 

5. Bring to Boil. Let mixture boil at a low rumble for about 20-25 minutes, until you can see that the rice is fully cooked.

Soup in zip-lock, on paper towel, on cookie sheet, ready for freezing.

Yay! Frozen Soup!

I love eating this soup fresh, but I think I love it after it’s been frozen even more. The flavors all meld together and rice takes on the broth flavor even more. It’s jut delish! I am generally cooking for 2 people, so I like to use the quart size freezer bags.

With the help of a friend, ladle the soup into the ziplock bag until it’s a little less than half full (see how positive that was?). Then fold over the top to get as much of the air out of the bag as possible without spilling the contents and zip ‘er up.

I like to lay them flat to freeze, so that once frozen, I can stand them up like books and they take up a lot less of my freezer.

Before placing the bags in the freezer I also layer them with paper towels so that if any water/condensation gets on the outside of the bags they don’t freeze together. Note: Putting the bags on a cookie sheet, then taking them to the freezer makes your life a whole heck of a lot easier.

It's just SO Pretty!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Sodium: A Reality Check

For years I have had a general understanding of how many calories are in the foods that I'm eating, whether or not I am actively counting them. While this has become somewhat second nature for me, I've recently started looking at some of the the other things on the Nutritional Label. 

Now, I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but in my very limited knowledge I know that sodium is used in many processed foods to preserve or flavor. It is also what makes you look and feel bloated and one of the leading causes of high blood pressure. So, along with calories I'm starting to take a look at the sodium content in what I'm intaking. Just start taking a look at the sodium in your food--I think it will shock you! 

Just a quick example: I was in Trader Joes and I grabbed their Organic Free Range Chicken Broth and the Organic Free Range Low Sodium Chicken Broth and checked the labels... here's what I found:

And The Winner is....


Apologies for the CAPS, but SERIOUSLY?!? This really opened my eyes and I will absolutely be taking a look at sodium content as well as calories from now on. 

...and just for fun, check out the Worst Restaurant Foods In America (as of 2011). Note the sodium content of Wendy's Baconator *cough* 2780mg *cough*!!!! 

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