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Chicken Mustardos March 10, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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3/16 Update – This makes a huge amount of food and could easily feed 6. Also, my husband reported that it needed more curry (What? There’s 2.5 tbsp in there already!) and could use some lemon. The sauce was thicker than I anticipated. Next time I’m going to try leaving out or reducing the amount of potato, which was really intended to be a thickener, and give him a lemon wedge on the side that he can sprinkle over the top. StEx

Many years ago, my husband introduced me to his favorite (maybe only?) family recipe, Chicken Mustard. Family lore tells of a happy accident where his mother messed up a recipe for Chicken Divan, apparently by forgetting the cheese and adding a whole jar of curry powder. Oops, it slipped.

If you’re familiar at all with Chicken Divan (or my mother-in-law), then you can probably guess most of the ingredients in Chicken Mustard: chicken, broccoli, disgusting amounts of mayo, several cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a jar of curry powder, all baked up in a casserole and served over white minute rice.

It should be noted that unless there’s mustard powder in the curry, there’s no actual mustard in Chicken Mustard. It just looks like mustard. My husband comes from a very visual family.

It should also be noted that Chicken Mustard is DELICIOUS. It is sick and wrong and one of the tastiest meals on the planet.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for our waistlines and general well-being), I discovered that mayo and cream of mushroom soup are both headache triggers, and so we haven’t had Chicken Mustard in years. (It’s probably just coincidence that I’ve lost 50 lbs since the last time I made Chicken Mustard. Really.)

Well, bitches, I’ve been pondering a way to make Chicken Mustard headache-safe. All the usual healthy substitutions for the mayo and creamy soup are still migraine triggers. Coconut milk? Can’t do it. Yogurt? Migraine city.

This will not come as a surprise to any of you, but once again I find myself reminded that I am in fact a genius. Yes, it’s true. I have figured out how to make a delicious, healthy, headache free Chicken Mustard. Below is my version of Chicken Mustard, which is really a version of Chicken Divan. Actually, the version of Chicken Divan my MIL was attempting was a quick version, utilizing canned soup and jarred mayo. So this is really a bastardization of a bastardization of a bastardization of Chicken Divan. Enjoy.

I give you: Chicken Mustardos.

Servings: 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes
1- 2 head(s) broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower
1 medium sweet potato
2.5 tbsp curry powder (make sure you get a blend that doesn’t include msg or any migraine triggers like dehydrated onion)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place cauliflower in covered microwave safe dish with 1/4 cup water and nuke til soft. Remove from microwave and nuke sweet potato til soft.

Saute chicken in batches, if necessary, in non-stick pan with a little dash of canola oil. The chicken should be a bit brown, but doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. 

Gently steam the broccoli for about three minutes. Place the broccoli and chicken in a 9×13 casserole.

Put cauliflower and it’s cooking water, the sweet potato (no skin), and the curry powder in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Mix puree into casserole with broccoli and chicken.

Bake, covered with foil, for about 30 – 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve as-is or over rice.

Calories 268.3
Total Fat 4.6 g
Cholesterol 73.1 mg
Sodium 153.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.6 g
Dietary Fiber 10.4 g
Protein 35.2 g



I Ate a Squash January 20, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in MIgraine, Recipes and Food.
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Ever said this? “Sure, it’s hot, but you don’t really feel it because at least it’s a dry heat.” I’ve said it myself about Seattle in the summer, on those three days a year (on average) that we have 90+ Fahrenheit degree temperatures. Boy, am I a dupe. YOU DO TOO FEEL IT. Stop lying to yourselves, bitches!

Fortunately, Seattle doesn’t get hot very often. Actually, it’s kind of too bad. For the last week, Seattle has been choking in a miasma of fog, a beautiful and damp blast of frigid meh. Ok, wet cold (being the opposite of dry heat) ain’t so grand, either. I have had a headache on and off for days, and I think the weather isn’t helping (also not helping: the bananas, peanut butter, and Chinese food I ate this week).

I recently discovered a mad pash for wet heat. I know, right? I hate hot weather. I hate humidity. Or do I? That day in hot yoga when we had so much steam rising off of people’s bodies that we actually formed a cloud inside the studio, that was awesome. And recently I had the opportunity to go into a wet sauna, and it was like I could breathe for the first time in forever. It was hot in there, people. And wet. The migraine I’d been feeling finally started to go away. Ok, when you’re butt naked in a room full of women you don’t know, it’s awkward to lay on the bench and put your legs up the wall, but I did it anyway. Best. Savasana. Evaaaa.

Conversely, when I went into the dry sauna…nope. Head hurt more. Hated it.

Today I’m less headachy than the past few days, but it’s there, lurking in the background, ready to come roaring back if I eat the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, think the wrong thing, whatever. There’s headache and then there’s migraine. Headache is just one symptom of migraine. As long as I feel pressure at my temples, my eyes are tearing, or I get that crawly feeling inside my head, I’m going to watch what I eat. That means no migraine triggers at all, even the ones that are safe in small quantities.

No bananas. No citrus, no sake, no PB2. Dammit.

So, what’s a girl to eat? I’m usually pretty careful to make sure I’m getting all the right amounts of protein, veggies, etc, but when I feel like this I give myself permission to eat what I feel like eating, as long as it’s not a migraine trigger. This usually means lots of fruit. Like, bordering on unhealthy quantities of fruit. Partly, because I love fruit. Also, because the last thing I want to do when I have a headache is exert myself, and fruit is usually pretty easy. Just wash and eat.

Well, here’s yesterday:

Go Away Stupid Headache Breakfast

1/2 cup leftover brown rice
2 cup fresh spinach
1 egg + 1 egg white
Garlic Powder

  1. Spray big bowl with canola oil (not cooking spray, that stuff has soy; fill up a Misto if your local grocer doesn’t sell pure canola oil in a spray bottle)
  2. Beat egg, mix in remaining ingredients
  3. Nuke 40 seconds. Mix, nuke again for 40 seconds. Mix, nuke for 10 or 20 seconds. Repeat until cooked to desired done-ness.

Not Really Hungry Lunch

Fresh blueberries

  1. Wash
  2. Eat

My Head Hurts, Might Skip Dinner Snack

One small Kabocha squash (botanically speaking, squash is a fruit)
kosher salt, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash skin, because it’s totally edible.
  3. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds
  4. Place cut sides down on baking sheet with sides, because there will be liquid
  5. Roast for about thirty minutes
  6. Let cool for about 20 minutes
  7. Sprinkle with kosher salt and eat

I’m still not very hungry but more just peckish Second Snack (What am i, a hobbit?)

Fresh strawberries

  1. Wash
  2. Eat

OK, Now I’m Hungry Even Though it’s Almost Bedtime Dinner

Oven roasted Yukon Gold potatoes (1/2 large Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1 inch dice)
Oven roasted asparagus (about 10 spears)
Fried egg (One egg)

  1. Prepare two baking sheets with tin foil and canola oil to prevent sticking (I spray mine on).
  2. Scrub and cut potatoes. Arrange on baking sheet and roast in oven at 375 for about 40 min or until done.
  3. Wash asparagus, arrange on baking sheet and throw in oven for last 10 – 12 minutes of potatoes cooking.
  4. You know how to fry an egg, right? I like mine over-easy, so the yolk runs all over and I can sop it up with the potatoes.

Confession: The potatoes and asparagus were left over from dinner the night before. All I did was re-heat them and fry up an egg.

Dammit, I Want Pie Dessert

One bag frozen mango

  1. Put mango in food processor. Turn on.
  2. Slowly add small amounts of water until mango is smooth.
  3. Add whatever spices you like. I put in some maple syrup and cinnamon. It was just ok. I think I’m going to try this with frozen cherries next.

Eat Meat, Bitches! August 5, 2012

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When I was 13, I somehow got my hands on a copy of Mother Jones magazine. It didn’t take long for me to join PETA and announce that I was becoming a vegetarian. My mother’s immediate reaction was to fret about the chops she had in the freezer, and next to take me to the doctor to make sure I wouldn’t become malnourished. Protein is so important, and there are B vitamins that you really only get from meat.  I seemed to do just fine with B supplements along with eggs, dairy, nuts and beans for protein.

Fast-forward about 10 years, and I’ve started dating the man who is now my hubby, the most meat-and-potato-eating-est person I know. Honestly, the path of least resistance was to start eating poultry and fish again. Although widening my dietary selections did make our lives easier, I think he felt a little guilty about it.  He once commented that he felt like “the heroin junkie with a curious friend.” He’s the junkie, I’m the friend, and the heroin is dead animal flesh.

Anyhoo, fast forward another 10-years-ish, and I discover that I have many, many, many migraine triggers including beans, nuts, cheese, and a huge list of other very common foods. I quickly realized that sometimes, particularly in restaurants, my only safe choice would be some form of red meat. I hadn’t taken that plunge yet, but I figured since I had so many restrictions that I couldn’t control, I should drop the ones that were self-imposed.

So I discovered that I like meat.  Preferably, as rare as possible.  This still freaks out my friends and family who haven’t seen much of me since I was staunchly veggie. Hee hee. 😛

This is my current favorite way to prepare steak, and my current favorite go-to meal.

Company Steak and Spicy Broccoli with Fresh Corn on the Cob

Serves: 4

For the steak (based on a Weight Watcher’s recipe)
12 – 16 oz of top sirloin (Depends on how big you want your portions. 3 – 4 oz per person is technically plenty, but we have learned to expect bigger portions.)
5 big cloves of garlic (or lots and lots of little ones)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano leaf (less, if ground)
.25 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the broccoli
2 cups broccoli florets
.25 tsp red pepper flakes (or more/less, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the corn
Four fresh cobs of corn (the fresher the better, corn gets old fast – still edible, just not as good)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Separate garlic cloves, but don’t peel them. Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes or as long as necessary to make them soft enough to mash up. Cool garlic enough to handle, unwrap and peel (they will be squishy and sticky!) and mash in a small bowl with oregano, salt and pepper. Prep meat (cut any yucky stuff off) and rub all over with garlic mixture.  Refrigerate anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours (the longer the better).

Before cooking the steaks, prep the broccoli and corn.  Put clean broccoli florets into large bowl and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Toss with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. Spread in single layer on baking sheet prepared with aluminum foil and non-stick cooking spray.

Pre-heat grill pan on stove (or bbq), and broiler.  Spray steaks with non-stick cooking spray, and grill for 4 – 6 minutes per side, depending on thickness of steaks and desired done-ness (I like rare to medium rare). Let rest for at least 10 – 15 minutes.

While steaks are resting, cook broccoli and corn.

Slide broccoli into the oven on the middle shelf, or 6 – 8 inches under broiler. Roast broccoli until bright green and starting to brown around the edges.

Dump corn in boiling water (yes, I boil my corn, get over it), boil for about a minute and then turn down to low and cover. Remove corn from heat after about 7 -10 minutes and drain.

Slice meat into .25 inch slices.  Serve with broccoli and corn on the side. Enjoy!

I Don’t Have a Green Thumb…I Have a Green Middle Finger May 13, 2012

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I’m a conflicted girl this time of year. I long to eat fresh vegetables grown in my very own garden, but I’m much, much, much too lazy to do anything about it. Heck, these days I’m too lazy to even go to the store, I have a CSA deliver most of my groceries to my front porch.

I wasn’t raised this way.  My grandmother was an amazing gardener. The hours my brother and I spent helping her in the garden are some of my best childhood memories.  Then I grew up, and eventually had a house of my own, with a lawn and landscaping that needed maintenance.  That’s when I discovered that it wasn’t the gardening I loved, it was spending time with my grandmother.  Grandmom was awesome.  Gardening and yard work can suck it.  I sure enjoy the results, but I don’t want to do the work.

So, I had mixed feelings when I received a pretty little potted plant as a favor at a baby shower a couple of weeks ago.  I was assured by the gardeners in attendance that all I needed to do was transplant it into full sun in the yard or a bigger pot (because the tiny pot it came in was cute but too small), and it would grow like a weed and flower all summer.

I had the best of intentions.  Unfortunately, after two weeks of sitting in the same pot on my very dark kitchen windowsill, the plant wasn’t looking so pretty.  Seeing as how it was almost dead, I figured I had better do something about it, and since I was going to the garden store anyway, I decided to get a really big pot and some thyme, basil, cilantro, peppermint, tarragon, and dill to grow with my baby shower prize, in case the original plant didn’t make it. Ya gotta have a Plan B, right?  Between the trip to the store, the planting, the second trip to the store because I didn’t have enough potting soil, and the watering, the whole thing must have taken at least an hour. If you add on the time I spent thinking about it, that’s like, two weeks and one hour.  This is an awfully big investment of time for one puny plant.

I have since been informed that thyme is a bully, and cilantro has a tendency to bolt (which I think sounds pretty, but apparently ruins the flavor).  I’m also told it’s a perfectly legitimate strategy to stuff these herbs in the same container and wish them luck.  It’s not quite as dangerous as putting the wrong fish together in the same tank, but there might be a bit more tending than I had anticipated. So today, I took another three minutes out of my life to transplant the thyme into its own pot and cut back some of the cilantro.  Damn gardening is taking over my life.

Since I now have some stupid herbs growing (or more likely, dying) on my back deck, I may as well make use of them.  Here’s a tasty thing to do with cilantro, before the damn stuff bolts:

This Turkey Doesn’t Suck

Servings: I dunno

1 boneless, skinless turkey breast
1 cup water
2 tsp curry powder
.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp turmeric
.25 tsp cayenne pepper
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp  ginger powder
.25 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 – 5 garlic cloves, sliced

Spray inside of crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.  Place turkey breast inside and add water. Mix the spices together and sprinkle over the turkey breast.  Throw the cilantro and garlic in the crock pot, cover, and cook on high for four hours or low for 6 hours. I served this with steamed broccoli and brown rice, with the juices from the pot spooned over the whole thing.   My husband and I both agreed, it didn’t suck.

Since every turkey breast is a different size, I don’t know how many it serves.  And, since I’m too tired from all that gardening to research it, I have no idea what the nutritional information may be.  But, I do know that one 3 oz portion of plain skinless, boneless turkey breast is low calorie, low fat and high protein.  And with cilantro, how can you go wrong?

I Like Meat March 16, 2012

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When I was 13, I somehow got hold of a copy of Mother Jones magazine.  After reading an article about veal calves, I went downstairs and informed my mom I wasn’t eating that anymore.  Banning veal from my diet was my gateway to vegetarianism, and I ended up a happy lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 10 years.

Enter my husband, who says he’ll eat spinach if it’s mixed into something (as in, not on it’s own or on top of something) but when I put it in stuff he pokes at it and asks “Is that spinach?”  I have to admit, he was a bad influence on me, because not long after our relationship began, I started eating fish and poultry again.  I stayed strong on the red meat front, however, for over twenty years until I drastically changed my diet to avoid migraine triggers (it’s a longer list of no-no foods than you can imagine).  I’ve since found that sometimes in restaurants the only thing I can eat is a steak.  Hunger wins out over ideals.  Sorry.  Well, not really.

I still have friends and family that freak out when they see me eat meat.   Maybe it’s because I enjoy it so much.  I love my beef rare.  Really rare.  Blue, even.

But, you can’t always go for the filet mignon.  Sometimes, you need a concoction that is easy on the cook, easy on the wallet, and easy on the waistline.  I have it on good authority that the following recipe is delicious: (more…)

I Made a Fish Thing March 4, 2012

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My poor little man is feeling poorly, so I decided he needed some emergency pasta for dinner.  That meant preparing a fine spaghetti dinner, complete with an onion-laden meat sauce. But while my honey appreciated the heck out of the sauce, I couldn’t eat it.  Those who know me are well aware that I can’t eat onions because they are a migraine trigger.  Nor can I eat tomatoes or many other foods.  And even if I could eat tomatoes, I can’t eat anything canned, smoked, jarred, pickled, cured, dried, fermented, aged, or preserved in any way other than frozen.  Consequently, most processed foods are not on the menu for me. There is virtually no such thing as convenience in my diet.

My two exceptions to the no-processed food rule are corn tortillas and brown rice pasta.  Since I was already making the pasta for the hubby, it seemed reasonable that I use it for the basis for my own dinner, too.  But no oniony tomatoy meaty sauce for me, so what to pair it with?  Frankly, a bowl of gooey gluten-free pasta is not very appetizing.  It needs some flavor to make it taste good, because the brown rice pasta has a yucky, sour taste on its own.

I rummaged through the fridge and found a salmon fillet and a bag of pre-washed, chopped kale.  With a shrug and a prayer, I threw three big handfuls of the kale right into the boiling water at the same time I put in the pasta.  I then immediately slapped that ol’ salmon fillet in a hot saute pan with some canola oil spray, skin side down.  I let it cook for about 5 minutes, then covered it and moved it off the heat to finish.  The kale cooked up with the pasta.  After draining out the water, I dropped about a cup of the kale and pasta in a bowl, flaked about 3 oz of the salmon on top, and sprinkled the whole thing with a pinch of kosher salt and a dash of garlic powder.  OMG. It was good.  Or maybe I just have mutant taste buds.

The beauty of this meal is that it was tasty, so easy, and not including the seasoning, there are only three ingredients.  Three.  THREE.  Did you hear, there are only THREE INGREDIENTS IN THIS DISH.  Yes, I know I’m yelling.


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