Balancing Val

Posts Tagged ‘cooking

On our first date night with the help of my Twitter friends, I decided to make Salsa Chicken for dinner. This is one of those super easy dinners that just taste good and have endless possibilities.

Besides a Crockpot, you will need these . . .


(chicken breast, salsa, black beans, corn)

Of course, these ingredients are interchangeable. No corn, different beans, add peppers and onions . . . Ect.

Put your chicken breast at the bottom of your crockpot (i had 4 small thin chicken breasts on hand that were thawed) and pour salsa over them. Your going to want enough to cover the chicken. They don’t have to drown in salsa, so a jar should do it.


Next, pour your beans and corn on top or whatever components you chose.


Then, turn it on low for 4-6 hours. It is finished when the chicken shreds easily with a fork. I went in and shredded up the chicken using two forks then mixing everything together. It may seem watery at first but it gets better after the shredder šŸ˜‰


Serve on top of salad, tortillas, baked potato or just eat plain by itself! It is good šŸ™‚


Yeah ummm . . . That’s it! I told you it was easy, now go make it and tell me how it was!

What is your easiest dinner recipe?

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Honestly, I feel bad even calling this a recipe since it literally is just things being thrown together with a pre-made sauce, but it was so good I just have to share it.

Lately, I have been getting into Indian and Thai food. I decided to buy a curry sauce at the store to see if I could come up with something at home rather then spend the money to go out. I ended up finding a Thai yellow curry sauce at Stop & Shop and went to town.

Here’s what I had to work with . . .

I literally threw together whatever I had. Originally I just planned to use the pepper, onion and eggplant I just bought, but I decided to look in the freezer to see if I can bulk up the life force a bit. I ended up finding multi colored pepper strips and brussels sprouts that I knew had a small chance of ever being used. I also dug out 2 potatoes from the fridge for some density. A side note though, before I put them in the pan with everything else, I poked some holes in them with a fork and microwaved them for a few minutes just to soften them up enough so they wouldn’t end up being undercooked and it worked like a charm.

After it all went in the pan, I kept it at medium heat until everything started marrying together. I threw a little sea salt in there so the veggies could sweat out one last time. I added the curry sauce and then just let it simmer with a lid on until all the veggies were cooked through and a mushy parade of semi-spicy goodness unveiled.


I served it over some pasta although rice might have fit the bill better. Honestly, it would have been good just by itself! I know it doesn’t look amazing, but I promise it is.


As always I made sure I put some in plastic containers for pre-made meals AND I ended up freezing a good amount of it for a rainy day.


Whats your go to ‘throw everything in the pot’ sauce?

On the way home from a bunch of errands, I had a profound moment in the car after I left the farmers market with $13.42 worth of vegetables. I thought about all of the things I could come up with using what I had. A bunch of options came to me and there it was . . . I was EXCITED.

For the last few years I have only focused on losing weight and being healthy. My whole life in one way or another was connected to why I wasn’t where my mind thought I should be(mostly the way i looked). If i could fix this one problem, I would be perfect and so everything I did on my spare time, and every thought I had the energy for HAD to go towards fixing myself. The funny thing is, all this time, obsessing, and energy I spent hoping to come out ‘healthy’ on the other side was actually unhealthy! This re-enforced one of my health mantras from long ago . . .

‘just because you are doing healthy things, it does not mean you are healthy’

I learned this lesson a while ago while in one of my deeper quests for this ‘perfection’ but I didn’t actually start BELIEVING it until recently. To me, this statement means that to achieve health, you must attempt balance in each aspect of the mind body and soul. You can not focus just on one and not the other you must explore and find a balance of all. I don’t think there is ever a point where I will be able to tell myself . . ‘yep! your balanced now . . congrats!’ because life is one big j roller coaster journey with ups and downs a plenty.

I’m straying from my story though šŸ˜³

Anyway, a lot of books I read brought up the point that people with a weight/diet obsession often are scared of losing it. They are scared because they really wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they were ok, or not broken. It occurred to me in the car that I honestly hadnt been living my life acting like i was broken. Sure, i have my moments, but i learn from them now. Today, I was really doing what I wanted to do without any hidden wannabe healthy person agenda behind it. I wasn’t buying vegetables because I had to get certain things for my latest diet attempt. I genuinely wanted to use my spare time and energy to cook food!

It may seem strange, but this is so comforting to me. This really makes me feel like I am in control. I actually feel good about the direction I am going.

Thank you $13.42 worth of vegetables . . . šŸ™‚

Mondays are usually looooong workdays, and today was no different. However, I did get something really important done . . . .

I HALF APPLIED TO SCHOOL!!!!

Sound weird? 8)

I was finally able to send out my actual application with the $150 fee. I still have to send a bunch of other documents, but I feel better knowing the preliminary stuff it’s on it’s way. I know applying to school a little under 3 months seems a little tight but I’m testing my power of positive thinking and truly trying to believe that I will be accepted. But because this helps me(obviously), let’s think about the worst thing that could happen if I don’t get accepted . . . .

A.) My dad/family/chris/friends/me will be disappointed

B.) I would have to wait until next semester which starts in April 2011

C.) . . . ? I really gotta stop writing C’s šŸ™„

I would be more upset with the disappointment then anything else. I don’t want to say I procrastinated because I really didn’t, but sometimes it’s really hard for me to get going with a big decision like this. I’ve been hyping this up for myself for so long and getting so excited and it would just be cruddy to know that I would have to wait another 6 months when I am ready NOW. Either way though, life will go on and I will deal with whatever happens when it happens.

I wanted to tell you a little bit about how i lead up to this moment though, and I will try my best to not draw it out.

My interest in nutrition started in my college health class. I was originally going to school for business management because i had no idea what i wanted to do. The professor who taught was also a nutritionist. I remember being so attentive in that class and really actually enjoyed the whole process. I was easily convinced by him to change my major to exercise science which was the closest health related major they offered. I remember learning about everything that had to do with exercise but it seemed as if i was just going through the motions. I’d only really light up when we would rarely study something about food and nutrition. I however took the easy way out and became a personal trainer.

At the time I left school, I was working for a local sports supplement company during the day, and personal training at night. I was working very long hours being immersed in exercise/fitness in every way. I had my own trainer that would send me workouts to do, i was on strict diets, and I even trained for a figure/bodybuilding competition that i never did. Something still didn’t feel right and I should have trusted my instincts. It took me about 2-3 years of doing this to finally admit to myself that I wasn’t in love with the exercise part of health. This was NOT easy. I built up such a reputation around this life and tried for so long to believe that it was what I wanted and loved but in reality, I just had to let it go and involve my life around something i am truly passionate about.

I left my job then and started looking for something else. I promised myself that if I didn’t find anything, i would start looking at culinary schools. Eventually, I landed a job being an assistant to a chiropractor which i am still at today. I am grateful for this job because it turned me on to a whole new aspect of natural health and wellness that i never knew existed. I’m always learning something new and I have a lot to thank for here, but still i felt the need to broaden my knowledge and personal satisfaction with something i love.

I heard about the Natural Gourmet Institute online when I was looking up culinary schools. I was looking for a school that combined cooking with nutrition and natural organic foods, and this honestly seemed to be the only school in the whole country that did that. The school is located in NYC and has had many many successful chefs train in their program who have written cookbooks, opened restaurants, started health movements in their cities . . . You name it! One of the more recognizable (to the average reality tv junkie) chefs that graduated there would be Bethenny Frankel.

Anyway, long story short (or saved for another time) I got right to an open house and fell in love with it there. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to live close enough to make the commute and become a part of the food world in the big city. There are so many opportunities and so many doors that could be opened for me. Even though it would be such a huge change, and there will be many many challenges if I get in, I am incredibly excited, and it feels like the right thing to do.

So . . . Here’s good luck to the second half of applying :D!



  • Ayla: My easiest dinner recipe? PB + banana sandwich. Takes 2 minutes which makes me a very happy girl.
  • kristisn: Yum! That looks like a great dinner.
  • Kate D: After two scarring experiences stuck in big city rush hour traffic (facing the wrong direction) while on vacation with my parents I totally understand

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