All posts by Diana Gifford

Curried Chana Dahl Soup Low Fat

IMG_20150719_172746I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find many great deals on Amazon Prime day. I did wind up with an electric pressure cooker for $99! I have been eyeballing them ever since my poor crock pot crock broke. I have been trying to decide whether or not to replace the crock pot or start using an electric pressure cooker. 

The best thing about this new gadget is that it will replace 4 of my appliances: yogurt maker, rice cooker, crock pot, electric skillet. I really like the convenience of the crockpot with timer, and the speed of stove top pressure cooker. I have always owned a rice cooker because it makes the best rice and I don’t have to babysit a pot on the stove. I am curious to see how my new pressure cooker stacks up to my rice cooker. More on that later in another post. 

Let’s get down to business of the soup! This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever make. It only takes 1 pot, you put in all the ingredients at the same time. Perfect for working peeps and busy people alike. You can use either a crock pot, pressure cooker or stove. It is also very versatile and easily adjusts to your family’s tastes. 

Chana Dahl is a small yellow bean that looks like a mini chickpea split in half. It isn’t the same as a yellow split pea. It has a wonderful smooth consistancy, and mild flavor. It can be cooked dry or after soaking YAY me because I often forget to soak my beans! Here is a pic of the kind that I buy

Dry Chana Dahl Beans
Dry Chana Dahl Beans

To make this you will need the following items:

Chana Dahl, Chicken breast(whole or ground), kale, chicken stock(optional), garlic, bay leaves, dried or fresh onion, onion powder, salt, tumeric, paprika, korma masala, mild curry powder, can of stewed tomatos and greek yogurt or fat free sour cream (optional). 

To start assmeble all your ingredients in the increments listed below in the recipe. The prep time literally takes me 5 min or less. 

soup spices

 

From L to R we have dried onion flakes, onion powder, paprika, tumeric, bay leaves, korma masala and mild curry, salt, and garlic cloves.

 

 

Take your chicken breast and place it on the bottom of the pot. You can use fresh or frozen chicken. You can also use 97% lean ground chicken fresh or frozen, just remember to increase the cooking time if you are using frozen meat. 

kale in pot

Next, put your kale( stems removed) in the pot. I don’t chop mine because it breaks down well in cooking. If you don’t have kale use any kind of greens you have on hand. I have used the power blend from Costco and we like that as well. This is a great way to get greens in your meal plan. The kale will not overpower this dish especially with the curry powder in there. 

 

 

 

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On top of the kale, dump the soaked Chana Dahl,  all of the spices and salt, 4C chicken stock, and enough water to cover the contents of pot by 1/2″ to 1″ depending on how you like your soup add more or less water. We like ours kind of soupy with lots of broth. I often use left over veggies in this dish such as bell pepper, carrots, zuccinni, asparagus. Anything that I only have a small amount of hanging around. 

If you have a pressure cooker like I do, you will want to cook for 30-40 min on high pressure. The whole thing should take about an hour and 20 min. If you want to speed up cooking time a little, add hot broth and water. With this amount of food in the processor it takes about 30 min to bring the pot up to the temp that seals and starts cooking. Then it takes about 10-20 min for it to cool down enough to open. I wait 10 min and vent the cooker. After you open the cooker add in your can of tomatoes and stir, shredding the chicken as you stir. Serve yourself a bowl and put a dollop of greek yogurt on top YUM! 

This amount will feed a family of 5 with leftovers depending on how many bowls you eat. It is a hearty and cheap meal to fix. The whole thing usually costs me less than $10 for the whole pot. I have included directions for crock pot, stove top and stove top pressure cookers in the notes of the recipe card. 

If you don’t have all of the spices feel free to leave some out, or add a spicy curry if you like it that way. My husband likes it spicy and my kids don’t so he adds sriracha to his bowl. This recipe is very forgiving so feel free to make it your own by adding more or less spices.

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The finished product above in the pot. I hope you enjoy as much as my family!

Curried Chana Dahl Soup- Low Fat
Serves 5
This recipe is a delicious spin on curried lentil soup
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 lb Chana Dahl beans soaked overnight and rinsed
  2. 2 Chicken breasts ground, whole, frozen or fresh
  3. 1 bunch kale stems removed
  4. 3 bay leaves
  5. 7 cloves fresh garlic
  6. 4 tsp dried onion flakes or 1/2 med size onion
  7. 1 tsp onion powder
  8. 1 tsp tumeric
  9. 2 tsp paprika
  10. 1 tsp korma masala
  11. 2 tsp mild curry
  12. 2 Tsp salt (we like it salty so add less if you don't)
  13. 4 Cups chicken stock
  14. 2 Cups water
  15. 1 15oz can stewed or diced tomatoes (added after cooking)
  16. 1 Tablespoon greek yogurt or fat free sour cream
Instructions
  1. Add chicken breast, or ground chicken to bottom of pot
  2. Next add kale on top of chicken
  3. Sprinkle all dry spices, salt and bay leaves(whole) on top of kale
  4. Pour Chicken stock all over dry ingredients
  5. Pour in water to cover other ingredients. About 2 cups, more or less depending on what kind of pot you use, how large it is and how soupy you like your beans
  6. Cover and set the timer to 40 min if using frozen meat or dry beans, 30 min if using defrosted meat and soaked beans. It is hard to over cook so if unsure use longer time.
  7. Once the cooker is opened add in your can of tomatoes and stir.
  8. Add a T of greek yogurt on top of your soup in your bowl
  9. You are now ready to eat!
Notes
  1. Crock pot method: For soaked beans and defrosted chicken will take on average 4 hours. For dry beans and frozen chicken it takes me 6-8 hours to get the consistency where I like it.
  2. Stove top method: For soaked beans and defrosted chicken, it takes around an hour and a half to 2 hours. For frozen chicken and dry beans, almost double that. I bring my pot up to a rapid boil and then turn the burner way down to a simmer, stirring every once in a while.
  3. Stove top pressure cooker method: Same as recipe, use the pressure guide for your pressure cooker for poultry.
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cooking chicken breast in bulk

 I won’t pay for the “grilled” chicken that is already in a bag. I buy a large quantity of chicken breast and cook it all up at once. I slice or chop and freeze it, then pull out what I need! If you have a grill you can use that, but I cook it on my grill pan on the stove. 

Here is what I do step by step. It takes me about an hour from prep to washing pan.

I was all my breasts in a bowl. I didn’t take a picture of that 🙂

 

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 Then I butterfly all my breasts so that they will cook more evenly and quickly. Just slide your knife halfway through the thickest part. 

 

 

 

 

This is what it looks like when you flip it open. 
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I salt and use whichever seasoning I have on hand at the moment. You need to use quite a bit of seasoning and press into chicken as it will fall off a bit from cooking. You could also just use salt and leave off the seasoning until you use it, but I find I enjoy the flavor more this way.  

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This is what it looks like when I flip it over. My grill pan is well seasoned and I don’t use oil to cook my chicken breasts so that they are the most versatile for use in later recipes. The juice in the chicken will help it release from the pan. If it doesn’t release, then it usually isn’t ready to be flipped over. I take my chickens temp to test if it is fully cooked in the center. There is a chart for meat temp here. 

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Hope you enjoy this little tip and how to! 

Why I dry skin brush

I found dry skin brushing when I ordered the Total Workout set from Teresa Tapp’s website.  Her video demonstrated skin brushing and discusses why it is important. IMG_00000614_2

I am here to say that she is right! I started brushing in the fall of 2013. I had lost quite a lot on the Trim Healthy Mama Diet by that time, but I was not at goal. I was very worried about excess skin flaps. I have know people over the years that have lost a great deal of weight only to be dissatisfied with their bodies due to excess skin on their belly and arms. I knew that it couldn’t hurt to try this method so I began brushing twice daily.

The method is simple you brush fingertips to heart and toes to groin, going over each area several times in line with your heart or groin. If you have problem areas as I did you do circles then, brush across them. Here is a chart that I found helpful. 

Even a year ago when I started there was not much information on the whole thing. I knew that it would be worthwhile as I had massages that focused solely on my lymphatic system and I felt great afterward. I know that I tend to get puffy in certain places and have lymph nodes that are “clogged” because they are painful and I can feel them. Brushing has really helped me in that area. When I feel a painful node I brush below it to help it drain. 

Your lymphatic system is like the trashcan of your body; it helps carry waste out of your system yet has no pump to do so. Although being active can help your lymph system move things along; Things like jumping on a rebounder or trampoline, walking, even running are work because when your muscles contract, they help squeeze your lymph system. Sometimes they are just not enough. Skin brushing can also exercises the connective tissue that holds on your skin. It will cause your skin to shrink back to fit the muscle and fat on your body. It will stimulate new cell growth, and even can exfoliate (which is good news for me since I have very dry skin). No one likes the deflated balloon look! 

I have had great luck with brushing; I have lost a total of 60lbs and have gone from a size 20 to size 12 with NO loose skin anywhere. I wish I had taken pictures, but honestly I didn’t think that it was going to work! Before my diet, I had a very large stomach area, and  there is no reason that I shouldn’t have a skin flap there. Everywhere I have brushed my skin has gone back down to the appropriate size! 

Hope this helps you! 

~Love Diana

Pumpkin Pie “Syrup”

Pumpkin pie syrup

Missing my Lattes

Before my carb controlled diet, I never thought twice about stopping at my local coffee shop and grabbing a pumpkin pie latte. They are loaded with sugar!  I figured I could just give them up and be done, but then fall rolled around with it’s crisp air and apple cider, and pumpkins everywhere.

Before I give you the recipe–I need to tell you a secret…

I don’t like a lot of artificial junk, I am a “food from as close to it’s natural state as possible” kind of gal. So I may not always do things the easy way, but you can be sure that it is the most healthy for you. I’m going to give you several options for your syrup. One has regular old sugar, another honey,  one eryrithritol+stevia (Sweet Blend) , and the last one just stevia. You could even omit the sweetener all together and just make it pumpkin pie flavoring. It will be up to you. If you like this recipe…stay tuned because later this week I will have a pumpkin pie shake made with this syrup and it is out of this world! Scroll down for the recipe for pumpkin pie creamer made from the syrup. 

I don’t have many pictures of the different methods, but I hope to update with them. For now, I wanted to get this recipe into your hands!


 

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

What you will need:

1 Cup boiling water

1/8 Cup pumpkin puree (I make my own recipe coming!)

1/2 Cup Sugar, or truvia; OR 1/3 Cup Sweet Blend, or honey; OR 1/8 teaspoon stevia

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1/16 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/16 teaspoon clove

tiny dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Take your pumpkin puree and boiling water and mix together in a glass measuring cup along with the sweetener of your choice. Mix up and allow to steep for a few minutes. Take a fine mesh strainer, nut milk bag, cheese cloth etc… and strain liquid into a small pot. Turn burner on low and add all spices except vanilla. Stir everything together and simmer(not boil) for around 5-10 min. If you are using sugar the syrup will coat the back of a metal spoon when ready. For the other sweeteners, you will just need to watch it and allow it to reduce slightly. Remember this is a concentrate. You can taste it to see if it is right but it will be VERY sweet. Take it off the stove and strain again add the vanilla and then refrigerate until you are ready to use! 

For a pumpkin latte, I use one cup of coffee, 4 Tablespoons cream, and 2 teaspoons of the syrup. You should add a little at a time to see how you like yours.

To make a pumpkin pie creamer. Add 1 teaspoon of syrup for each Tablespoon of heavy cream. This will make it like a commercial creamer very sweet 🙂

Enjoy! Love Diana


 

Pumpkin Pie "Syrup"
Yields 2
Use this syrup for the base of any drink that you would like to taste like pumpkin pie!
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup boiling water
  2. 1/8 Cup pumpkin puree (I make my own recipe coming!)
  3. 1/2 Cup Sugar, or truvia; OR 1/3 Cup Sweet Blend, or honey; OR 1/8 teaspoon stevia
  4. 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  6. 1/16 teaspoon allspice
  7. 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  8. 1/16 teaspoon clove
  9. tiny dash of salt
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Take your pumpkin puree and boiling water and mix together in a glass measuring cup along with the sweetener of your choice. Mix up and allow to steep for a few minutes. Take a fine mesh strainer, nut milk bag, cheese cloth etc… and strain liquid into a small pot. Turn burner on low and add all spices except vanilla. Stir everything together and simmer(not boil) for around 5-10 min. If you are using sugar the syrup will coat the back of a metal spoon when ready. For the other sweeteners, you will just need to watch it and allow it to reduce slightly. Remember this is a concentrate. You can taste it to see if it is right but it will be VERY sweet. Take it off the stove and strain again add the vanilla and then refrigerate until you are ready to use!
Notes
  1. For a pumpkin latte, I use one cup of coffee, 4 Tablespoons cream, and 2 teaspoons of the syrup. You should add a little at a time to see how you like yours.
  2. If you don't feel like straining the second time that is ok it just may have bigger spice pieces.
  3. It may separate after it cools, just shake before using.
Sister Uglier http://sisteruglier.com/

 

How to Propagate Rosemary

My daughter Kelcy had to write a report for school. I think that she did a pretty good job even though she is my daughter!

I know many of you don’t know how easy it is to start a rosemary plant! I hope her report and instructions inspire you to garden. Take care ~Diana

Rosemary is semi-hardwood that has an almost pine-leaf appearance, and bracing herbal aroma. The mint relative has a long history of both medicinal and culinary use, and was believed to be particularly beneficial for memory enhancement.

Though native to the Mediterranean, rosemary cultivation spread to Europe and America, where it grows well. It is considered a drought tolerant plant and is well suited for the soil here in Texas.

The herb pairs well with roasted vegetables, meats, and poultry, grilled Fish, and cheese. It is also an excellent enhancement in rustic breads; rosemary oil is also good for preserving food.

Rosemary is a perennial plant growing all year. Rosemary usually blooms in the summer when it is sunny and warm. Rosemary is a full sun plant needing lots of sun throughout the day. Taking care of rosemary is very easy, I personally think that you can ignore it for weeks on end and it will be just fine. Once established they need very little water but checking on it weekly is best.

There are several ways to propagate rosemary, seeds, and cuttings. I chose to use the cutting method as it is easier and quicker than growing from a seed. The next page includes a step by step guide on propagating from a cutting.

     I chose rosemary because my family cooks with it often and it has an amazing aroma.


How to Propagate Rosemary step by step

 

  1. Cut a long piece of rosemary from the base of plant.

 

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2. Start preparing pot with rather wet soil and rocks in bottom.

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3. Strip the bottom leaves off the stem

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4. Dip the stem in rooting hormone or diluted honey

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  1. Place stem in dirt about 2-3” and pack dirt around.IMG_20141103_173941
  2. Water lightly, and keep moist every day.IMG_20141103_174006

 

 Savory Sweet Potatoes (low fat)

sweet potato

This is a quick and easy recipe that uses leftover baked sweet potatoes.

Serves 2

You will need:

2 baked sweet potatoes(cold works best), cooking spray, cumin, salt, powdered garlic, powdered onion, fresh cilantro, 0% greek yogurt.

Peel cold sweet potatoes and slice into rounds, while you are heating up a non-stick skillet sprayed with the cooking spray. Season your rounds with the salt, cumin, garlic and onion on both sides and place on the skillet. Brown both sides (use a bit more cooking spray for 2nd side if needed). On your plate sprinkle cilantro and add a dollop of the greek yogurt.

This was served with chicken breasts cooked with onions and peppers, Bragg’s liquid aminos and seasonings. It was a very filling and low fat dish!

If you want to splurge a little, use several tablespoons of butter to cook the sweet potatoes in, and add sour cream instead of the greek yogurt.

I tend to bake a whole oven full of sweet potatoes, in order to make the most of my energy! My kids love them cold, hot, sweet and savory so keeping them in the fridge on hand makes a great easy meal. This whole dish only took about 10min to make!

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

 

Savory Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 baked sweet potatoes(cold works best),
  2. cooking spray,
  3. cumin,
  4. salt,
  5. powdered garlic,
  6. powdered onion,
  7. fresh cilantro,
  8. 0% greek yogurt.
Instructions
  1. Peel cold sweet potatoes and slice into rounds, while you are heating up a non-stick skillet sprayed with the cooking spray.
  2. Season your rounds with the salt, cumin, garlic and onion on both sides and place on the skillet. Brown both sides (use a bit more cooking spray for 2nd side if needed).
  3. On your plate sprinkle cilantro and add a dollop of the greek yogurt.
Notes
  1. This was served with chicken breasts cooked with onions and peppers, Bragg’s liquid aminos and seasonings.
  2. It was a very filling and low fat dish!
  3. If you want to splurge a little, use several tablespoons of butter to cook the sweet potatoes in, and add sour cream instead of the greek yogurt.
  4. I tend to bake a whole oven full of sweet potatoes, in order to make the most of my energy!
  5. My kids love them cold, hot, sweet and savory so keeping them in the fridge on hand makes a great easy meal.
Sister Uglier http://sisteruglier.com/