Trying to Eat Healthier (Again)

Now that our little one is eating “real” food, I’ve started changing what I buy at the grocery store. She needs healthy, nourishing meals — foods without fillers (pink slime, anyone?) that are dense in nutrients. I don’t want her to grow up to be a vegetable-hater, like me.

It took until I was 21 to eat a salad without gagging. I still don’t enjoy them, unless it’s a salad full of things that aren’t good for me. Caesar salad is delicious for some reason that I can’t figure out — maybe it’s the anchovies in the dressing? I’m also the same person who doesn’t like tuna fish but will eat raw tuna sushi.

The biggest change has been an increase in the fruit and vegetables in the house right now. I like a combination of fresh and frozen veggies, as the frozen ones last longer and can be portioned out.

Right now, Little Frugalista is OBSESSED with meatballs and bread. It might be our Italian heritage, or it might be her mommy’s predisposition to loving anything that’s carb-filled or full of fat, but a toddler can’t live on meatballs forever… right? So I decided to make a healthier version of my mother-in-law’s delicious red-meat Italian meatballs.

I substituted turkey meat for the ground beef and add minced broccoli florets. I call them…. broccoli balls. I don’t put anything fancy in them, and I’m sure you can substitute other soft-cooked, minced vegetables. I’m going to try increasing the veggie content and reducing the bread crumbs in the near future. But for now, here’s the recipe I came up with on my own.

Broccoli Balls

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/3 cup chopped broccoli florets (I buy them frozen)

1 egg

1/2 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray or olive oil. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. Shape into balls. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Other Food Ideas

Some other toddler food recipes I’ve come across include “veggie patties” made using flour, eggs and vegetables. I’ve even gone so far as to smear pureed peas on a slice of bread, adding a piece of cheese and grilling it like a grilled-cheese sandwich. Everything still has to be cut up into little bite-size pieces. We also give Little Frugalista white-meat chicken bits, diced fruit, diced peas and carrots, and bananas, which may be her favorite food, ever. For fruit, I’m looking forward to introducing her to cantaloupes and honeydew melons next!

Any other ideas for getting more vegetables into our diets?

Tostitos “Bloodbath” Photos & Resolution

Remember my little story about our crazy experience with our Southwestern Ranch Dip? For a refresher, here’s my Tostitos story and The Consumerist‘s take.

What I forgot to post last time were the photos I took from that bloody night. Here they are, by popular demand:

The bloody bandages and tissues

Mr. NSF's Tostitos wounds

The cut on my finger

The offending jar showing 1 of the 2 chips

The Resolution

I spoke with someone from PepsiCo, the parent company of Tostitos and Frito-Lay, and explained to her the crazy story, as much as I was embarrassed to admit to what happened. She said they would send me a SASE box in which to send it back to the company so they could take a look at it. Perhaps it was something that occurred during the manufacturing process. But it makes me wonder why some manufacturers choose to use glass jars, while others package their goods in plastic jars.

The company also sent us a few coupons for free Frito-Lay-brand products, which will further help us forget about that crazy Monday night!

Readers: What do you think about the company’s response to our issue?

Is There an Easier Way to Shred Chicken?

Now doesn't that look insanely delicious?

One of my favorite appetizer/snack dips of all time is Buffalo Chicken Dip, a recipe I found on the Frank’s RedHot Sauce website a few years ago. Mr. NSF just looooves hot sauce, to the point where he’ll pour a few tablespoons down his throat for a “snack.” I’m not 100% behind hot, spicy foods — it usually depends on what the dish is, and how the heat is added to it — but this dip is great. To be honest, I reduce the amount of hot sauce I put into it, but it still has plenty of kick. Our friends love it.

Anyway, I was making this dip tonight, and it calls for shredded chicken. I dutifully boiled two chicken breasts and then set about shredding it the old-fashioned way, with two forks. I’m thinking there has to be a better, easier way to tear that stuff apart. After a while, my knuckles start to lock up and I get fed up.

After searching the Internet for alternate methods, I only found two — and neither appeals to me. One says to put the chicken breast in a food processor for a few seconds, “but be careful that you don’t puree it.” Ick. The other isn’t much better — using an electric hand mixer to do the job.

So two forks it is!

Here’s the recipe, modified the way I make it, for anyone who’s interested. You can use any kind of shredded cheese, too. Double the recipe for a crowd.

I substitute lower-fat or fat-free items where I can, but it’s still pretty damned indulgent. I serve the dip hot with tortilla chips.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel or 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (I use light or fat-free)

1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce (I knock this down to 1/3 cup)

1/2 cup cheddar cheese (cheddar/Monterey jack blend is delish, too)

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.

Mix in ranch dressing, Frank’s RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.

Bake for 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or vegetables.