So Denise travels about 60% of the year and we have grown accustomed to the pre-travel preparation. I generally get all the clothes cleaned, groceries ready and business contacts up to speed. This allows me to focus on the kids and worry less about those details. After 10 years of dealing with the traveling I am pretty good at getting ready to be a single parent with three kids. Recently however I have added a new pre-travel activity. I get a lot of cooking done so Denise can have good clean food choices while on the road. Keeping meats moist is a hard accomplishment, especially when the meats are low in fat content.
Chicken tenders are our go-to food for her travels. Keeping this flavorful is important so I have come up with this recipe to make the chicken moist and tasty. I like to use very savory spices and vegetables to help boost the flavor and it has chilled a day or so. (think of soup or chili). The Chicken Poblano is a great way to add serious flavor, very little fat and intense moisture.
1 Pack of Banana Leaves
2 pounds chicken tenders
1 Poblano Pepper
1 Tbs Lime Juice
1 Tbs Sazon Tropical (or combination seasoning of your choice)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pepper up in cubes and blend in mixer or blender with 1 Tbs lime juice. The Pepper adds some mild heat to the dish and the lime juice acts as an acidic tenderizer. Once the pepper and lime juice are blended finely and a thick froth forms add the mixture and 1 Tbs Sazon to the chicken breasts in a separate bowl.
Wash the banana leaves and make approximately 1 foot sections for the wrapper. With a sharp knife cut the thick outer membrane off so the wrapper can fold easier. Lay three pieces or 4 oz. of chicken on one leaf and wrap the chicken up along all four sides so the juice does not run out. Take another banana leaf and wrap the packet of chicken in the opposite direction. Place the packets of chicken in a deep pan. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and bake for 45 minutes. Pull from oven after cooking time and let stand about 5 minutes before unwrapping. If you are making this for bulk meals just leave in the wrapper, place in baggies and freeze or store in refrigerator.
If you try it out, let us know what you think. There are lots of ways to change this up. Think of the leaves as a natural crock pot. You can add vegetables or oatmeal or quinoa to the little packets and when you open them they are all warm and moist together. This is the same way they make tamales (one of the greatest foods on the planet).
Below is the nutritional information based on the personal recipe in MyFitnessPal.
Our oldest daughter is currently in the midst of learning the wonderful world of percentages, fractions and comparative equations in fifth grade. Denise and I try to take opportunities to show her real world applications of these new methods of mathematics while running errands. The grocery store is always a good place to put this in practice, but recently we have found where even the product manufacturers seem to calculate percentages quite differently.
While shopping last week, Whitney pointed out that ground buffalo meat was 90% fat free! She was a little disappointed when I told her that the percentage fat on the packages are not always in our best interest. She didn’t seem to understand that so I further explained that 90% fat free is what is implied but the actual package is stating that the content is 90% Lean Meat and 10% fat and has nothing to do with calories. When the label is scruitinezed we found that the actual percentage fat by calorie was over 50%! (seen on label as calories from fat) Most people would say buffalo is a lean good choice meat, but not in this case.
We have found this to be the case in a number of products at the grocery store. Did you know that some candy corn is actually fat free? Or that peanut butter only has 3 grams of trans fats (displayed on front of label). Labels have to tell the truth by law, but unfortunately the marketing can be slightly misleading. If we are not smart with our consumption, we can get bitten in the butt with the wrong calories. You can’t depend on the “marketing jargon’ on the label, you must evaluate the nutritional information. Just think the Wendy’s Baconator has the same amount of trans fatty acids (good fat) as two tablespoons of some peanut butter (3 grams). It sounds so healthy, doesn’t it? Those little details about the 63 grams of total fat at 9 calories per gram are really irrelivent when it comes to marketing. I mean who would want to buy a burger with a label that read “Only 41% fat free!”?
The lesson is to be informed and read the nutritional labels carefully.
While Denise travels and has opportunities to consume great tasting food, she has to find ways to limit the calories. One place on the plate that can add up fast is the salad dressing. Typically restaurants and hotels provide rich high calorie dressings so finding a healthy alternative is critical. This last week Denise was in New Orleans–home of marvelous rich food and she was able to still eat healthy with a few solutions you can do anywhere. An easy solution is to make her own table-side dressing that is fat-free and low in carbs. A simple mustard vinaigrette is easy to make, has just three simple ingredients and does bring a lot of attention at the table.
When ordering salad Denise asks for a side of balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. She keeps a few packets of Splenda in her purse but many times it’s available at the table too. She mixes the three ingredients up and then adds it to her salad. It’s a tasty good dressing and doesn’t waste those precious calories.
Table side vinaigrette:
Dijon or spiced mustard
Packet of splenda
Mix and enjoy!
Last week Denise and I did pretty good finding food the kids enjoyed while staying within our nutritional guidelines. That doesn’t mean we struggled with cravings but we managed to appeal to our taste bud’s wants while staying within our health food needs. One recipe I came up with this weekend was a spin off of Robert Rodriguez Puerco Pibil he cooks on his 10 minute cooking school video.
The original recipe is a delicious slow roasted pork that is cooked in banana leaves. The pork butt is a big no no, so I changed it up a bit so we could still enjoy the dish. Instead of pork I used lean turkey tenderloin (drier but still meat!). The dish also calls for a lot of orange juice, so I used a liquid called bitter orange that has very little sugar.
Overall the taste was dead on and the kids ate it up. We had it over brown rice and then a couple of days later with corn tortillas. Best part of this dish is preparation. The kids thought the banana leaves were really cool and Zoe enjoyed squeezing limes. Give it a try and let us know what you think. It’s definitely a new staple in our recipe box! Almost all the ingredients you have to get at a Fiesta or Sellars Brother but shopping for new stuff is also a fun adventure.
Two turkey breast tenderloin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup bitter orange
Preheat the oven to 400. squeeze limes and mix with garlic, about 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup annatto seasoning, and bitter orange. Cube the turkey into 1 inch cubed. Add the turkey and seasoning to a zip top bag and set aside. Take the banana leaves and line a deep pan so there won’t be any liquid escaping. Dump the turkey mixture with the liquid on top of the leaves then cover with more leaves. Seal the pan up tight with aluminum foil and set in the oven. Cook at 400 for about 20 minutes then back off the heat to 300 for 20 more minutes. Unwrap and enjoy!
Our family loves chili but the problem is making it low fat from the meat and low sugar from the sauce. It’s also hard not to get that big FAMILY size chip bag to go with the chili.
Tuesday night’s dinner is chili night so I decided to try something a little different. I wanted to bulk up the chili without adding a bunch of calories so I decided to add veggies to the chili. I know it’s sacreligous to add anything other than meat but the kids don’t like real CASI chili. Now if I was making this just for Denise and I, we would just throw veggies in there and not think twice about it but I needed to conceal them a little. Also I didn’t want to use two cans of sauce because there is a lot of sugar added, so I came up with a new solution. Instead of two cans of tomato, I substituted one can for a can of fire roasted tomatoes. The kids don’t like it when there are lumps of tomato in the chili and really start picking at it like a baboon on her young at the zoo. So I grabbed my blender and pureed the tomatoes into a sauce. I also added about two cups of carrots and blended them down as well. The best part was that the chili got really bulky, filling and a little bit healthier.
For the recipe I also use extra lean ground turkey. Unfortunately this is about as flavorless and dry as a C-SPAN morning show, so I went back to my cook-off days and added a little richness to the chili by using coffee. Some of the old diners would add coffee and dark unsweetened chocolate to their chili to make it richer. All in all the chili was great and the kids ate it up. It also made it extremely filling for me and Denise. Yes, it would have been better with chips, but we survived. We also added a little fat free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Bulked up kid approved chili.
1 onion chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups carrots
2 pounds extra lean ground turkey
1 pre made chili pack like Three Alarm Chili
2 cups of espresso or black coffee (blacker the better)
Optional (1 can of kidney beans)
Blend the tomatoes and carrots until they are like a purée. Sauté the onions in a pot then add the turkey. Once turkey has browned, add all the other ingredients. Bring to a good boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes. The longer it simmers the softer the carrots will get. Serve and enjoy.
Hope you enjoy! Danny
Like any new diet or “Lifestyle Change” there is a lot of time dedicated to being prepared. Unfortunately, with three kids, preparedness tends to be as elusive as the Jaguarundi in south Texas! (no really, look it up). So in an effort to make things as simple as possible, I create a menu for the family that we really try to stick with. The only difference is that I have to figure out how to make this menu work with three picky eaters, as well as fit in our nutrition plan.
A few years ago I was struggling with the groceries and putting good food on the table for the kids. At the time, our youngest was a newborn and Mommy was traveling a lot. So I did like any other good boy would and talked to my Dad about what my grandmother, GiGi did while raising 6 kids without a microwave, super markets and even a dish washer. Dad said, “It was awful! Gigi would make us eat everything and we always knew what day of the week it was by what we had for dinner.” According to Dan (my Dad) he hated Thursday because “we would have green peas!”
So I set out to make a meal plan that we would stick with and not give the kids too many choices. It was simple, I made meat loaf on Sunday so the left overs could be used in spaghetti sauce on Tuesday. BBQ chicken on Wednesday turned into chicken tacos on Friday. It was actually really good but like everything we got busy and things sort of fell back to bad habits. One of the best parts of this menu was a strict, no exceptions grocery menu. I could get in the store and get out in less than an hour all while feeding the kids for 7 days. When I made the menus I used the idea that nothing we got should require a microwave (processed precooked frozen and convenience foods) and surprisingly the amount of junk we bought was limited. Almost all the shopping was done on the outside aisles. It was awesome. It also put us on a nice grocery budget.
So for this new meal plan I sat down this weekend and did the same thing I did a few years back. I made a simple healthy menu with the requirements of the diet and created my grocery list. Where this gets difficult is when deciding on recipes. I know what the kids will eat and if they question anything they won’t eat it. A lot of diet cookbooks are great but the biggest challenge is low carb, low fat healthy eating that kids will enjoy.
Ideally this will be what me and the kids will eat while mommy trains for her competition. It is limited but not as much as her diet will be in the coming weeks. Basically the menu is driven on dinner. From there lunches and snacks are created as well.
Sunday dinner – grilled chicken, salad and fruit
Monday dinner – chicken fajitas with black beans
Tuesday dinner – Turkey chili and salad ( easy to make ahead of time)
Wednesday dinner – chicken tenders and pasta (healthy recipe for tenders)
Thursday dinner – sloppy joes ( Denise and I eat leftovers)
Friday dinner – Turkey, salad and lentil soup
We get one free meal a week so Saturday is our free meal dinner. Most of the dinners also become lunches for Denise and I during the week. As the weeks go by, I will update you on the progress of the menu and share more of the grocery list. Once it gets refined I will share more. Let’s hope the kids enjoy this new meal plan. They just might have to go a little hungry.
“Hello there world”. Yes that is important to state as it is customary with any new blog. Now we will get on with the good stuff.
We are the Clark family and we are phat. We don’t spell it with an f because that’s just too negative. Danny and I live large and enjoy our friends, family and city. Most of all we enjoy each other and love to embark on life changing events together.
A little BG about us.
Danny – 39 – Texan
Danny owns a photography studio in the Rice Village and an art studio in Winter Street Studios. He loves anything with a motor and is passionate about music. Yadda yadda bottom line, he is almost 40 and needs to get in shape. He would like to one day complete an iron man competition but really just wants the tattoo.
Denise – 39 – married to a Texan
Denise is the mom to 3 crazy kids and a pharmacist that works for a pharmaceutical company, but in her off times helps her husband with their two studios. She has run/walked a marathon (Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego), rides a Harley (well kinda..I own my own Harley but still learning to safely ride it), and is determined to be the best mother and wife possible. But her big goal here is to compete in a fitness figure competition by the time she turns 40. That means looking good and rocking a bikini.
So here is the deal. We have both been on a diet over the last 6 months. I got to my goal weight through Weight Watchers but have added a little bit back. Most would consider me thin, but I am what you would call a thin fat person according to my percent body fat. Danny lost over 65 pounds and has also gained a little back. So in an effort to not doom ourselves we decided to set goals and march on. We hired a nutritionist and have set out to make our bodies better, our lifestyles healthier and our children more aware of good clean nutrition.
From this point forward we will be documenting our progress, triumphs and failures. We hope you enjoy the ride and hopefully it will inspire you to join us in eating healthy and getting fit.