Saturday, November 6, 2010

What's Eating You?

Why is it that almost every day we are delivered a new food warning through the media only to have it retracted a couple of years later? I don’t know if it is because the researchers doing the study are so excited to get their news out that they release it before it’s actually finished, or it is such a slow news day that someone just makes it up.

Case in point, this morning on the news they announced that the Omega 3 oils in salmon are no longer believed to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Well, crap! My poor mother in law has been buying salmon and vitamin supplements for years in hopes that she will retain all her marbles to the grave. All of her poached fish eating, vitamin taking and passing on grilled hamburgers and dessert might have done some good, but tomorrow we might just find out that not eating them is killing us too. Poor dear, I guess she should have saved her money and bought herself a new car. Personally, I think maybe her wine drinking has preserved her heath more than anything else. I don’t know about you, but that gives me some hope.

Speaking of food and health, I also got a chance to see an author on TV this morning that has written a book on the secrets of people who never get sick. Well, I’m betting that you will never guess what keeps them well. Ok, I won’t keep you guessing for too long. They stay healthy by eating dirt and raw garlic. Now, why in the name of all that is holy, do so many “super foods” have to taste so bad? I mean wouldn’t this be a perfect world if butter and Snickers bars were chock full of fat fighting, cancer curing, Alzheimer hating enzymes that would run through your body while reclining on the sofa watching The Real Housewives of New York City?

This dream is right up there with my wish for world peace and a vacation home on Maui. Maybe those food researchers ought to think about doing something really valuable for mankind and invent something like healthy whipped cream instead of dishing out all of that doom and gloom…just saying. Now I hear that the great minds of the world are trying to force McDonalds to take the toys out of Happy Meals. I guess they just now caught on to the fact that kids are ordering food just to get a toy. So what, I gladly admit that I bribed my children with a Happy Meal a time or two just to get them to eat something. Besides, I kind of like those toys too! Oh well, I’m sure they probably cause cancer anyway.

I must admit that these studies do get me thinking about how I eat. After pondering the subject, I realized that maybe I could lighten things up by cutting the fat and calories a bit. I racked my brain and decided to make a favorite soup of mine that, while it may not be a nutritious as dirt and raw garlic soup, it is on the lighter side. I am also including a healthy snack for kale chips that I discovered on my blogger friend Conor’s blog at This is a surprisingly quick and easy little snack of crispy leafy greens that are as light as air and you can flavor in a variety of ways. I had some cheese sprinkle leftover from my Savory Spice giveaway a few weeks ago and tossed it with some of these cooled chips and the results were addictive to put it mildly. I also had some spice blend that I picked up in Texas that is no more than seasoned salt with MSG but boy is it tasty. I mixed this with just a pinch of cayenne pepper and it was delicious as well. Basically these chips are a blank canvas that you can just have fun with.

Tortilla Soup

Not only is this a simple and delicious dish, it is super economical. Using just one chicken breast and one avocado to feed four hungry people makes it just about the perfect dish. If you would like to try a vegetarian version, substitute the chicken bouillon with vegetable bouillon and try hominy, sweet corn and/or black beans instead of the shredded chicken.

1 medium size chicken breast
5 cups (approximately 1 litre) water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
4 corn tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray
4 tablespoons light olive oil
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (reduced fat if you must)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, tops coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).

Place chicken breast, 4 cups of the water and bouillon granules in a large saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken breast from the broth and transfer to a cutting board to cool before slicing into 4 equal size portions across. Tear each section into shreds with your fingers; set aside. Strain chicken stock and reserve.

Spray tortillas lightly on both sides with non-stick cooking spray. Stack tortillas one on top of the other and cut in half, then in 1/2"strips in the opposite direction. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 8 minutes or until the tortilla strips are crispy and golden brown; remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use.

Pour oil in a large saucepan and heat over medium high heat. When the oil is glossy, sprinkle flour over the top and whisk constantly to form a roux; lower heat to low. Pour chicken stock gradually into the roux, whisking constantly. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, granulated garlic, and onion powder; stir well to blend spices in completely. Add the bay leaf and shredded chicken; increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cook at a simmer for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

To serve ladle equal amounts of the soup into four warm bowls. Garnish each serving with desired amounts of the tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro or chopped green onion and shredded cheese.
Serves 4.

Kale Chips

Non-stick cooking spray
Salt or other favorite seasoning

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160C).

Wash and thoroughly dry desired amount of kale. Toss and spray kale with non-stick cooking spray before placing on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Watching carefully, bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt or other seasoning.
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