Clear the Clutter, Hope's Healthy Kitchen

How to Stock Your Kitchen

We are off on another road trip starting today as an early celebration of our wedding anniversary……I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we got married and in October, we will be together 20 years!  Where does the time go?

No, this is NOT a picture of our kitchen in our forever home But we do have lots of space.  As a result, I am always on the hunt to find ways to keep things well-stocked and organized.  What about you… do you have an organized kitchen and pantry?  Are you ready with plenty of items on-hand to whip up a healthy meal anytime – without having to leave the comfort of your home?  Keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping and putting groceries away to be a prep pro!

PANTRY PERFECTION

Your pantry may not be this big (not mine BUT ours is about this big!).  Organize your pantry or cupboard in sections:

  • Baking ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Mine also includes chips, brown sugar and anything else I may need when baking.

  • Oils & vinegar (mine are actually over my stove in a cabinet so they are easy to reach)

  • Herb & Spice blends (a totally separate cabinet close to the stove so I don’t have to go to far)

  • Canned goods: beans, lentils, fish, tomatoes, vegetables

  • Dry goods; pasta, rice, quinoa

TIP: Put veggies like onions and potatoes in bins and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Mine are in Tupperware bins in yet another cabinet in the kitchen.  LOL.

STOCK YOUR FREEZER

Is meal prep a thing at your house?  The closest I get to meal prep in the freezer is having lots of frozen vegetables, and meats on had.  Extra portions of meals (aka leftovers) are also frozen for those quick easy lunches or dinners when I’m not feeling well.  For many, meal prep means making big batches and then lay soups, broths, and chili flat in resealable bags for use during the week. Always keep frozen veggies and fruit in your freezer, along with your favorite protein.

TIP: Freeze leftovers in family-or-individual-sized containers for a quick “heat-and-eat meal” for the nights when you’re too busy to cook.

FIND IT FAST IN YOUR FRIDGE

Divide your fridge into sections:

  • Dairy/eggs, condiments (in the side door)

  • Veggies/fruit, meat/fish/poultry on a tray or plate to avoid leaks or in drawers if you have them.

  • Beverages

TIP: Keep prepped veggies and fruit near the front for quick access

SHOP WISELY 

The foods you choose to fuel your body directly impact your health. Whether you’re shopping online or stocking up on groceries to avoid the grocery line, here are some kitchen staples to keep you going:

Greek yogurt | Buy: 2%, plain, non-sweetened | Why: Fat-free can mean added sugar, and flavored yogurts can greatly increase your sugar intake.  Plain greek yogurt adds extra protein and can be “sweetened” with fruit or granola or a little Stevia.

Canned tomatoes | Buy: Low sodium | Why: We want to live well and feel great. For some people, too much sodium can make them retain water.

Olive oil | Buy: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil – this is the healthiest because it comes from the first pressing and no chemicals were used in extraction | Why: Light olive oils do not mean light in calories, often, it means light in flavor.

Canned beans | Hack: Rinse your beans before use and reduce sodium by almost 30%

Pasta | Buy: Look for the first words to be “whole grain” on the ingredient list | Why: You want to avoid overly processed refined grains

Nuts & seeds | Buy: Natural, unsalted | Why: Sometimes nuts and seeds are coated with partially hydrogenated oil and added salt

Canned tuna & salmon | Buy: Packed in water, low sodium | Why: It will have less sodium and added fat

Crackers | Buy: Look for “whole grain” to be the first words on the ingredient list. They should have at least 3 g of fibre per serving and be low in sodium Why: Crackers can be overly processed and made with refined grains | Hack: Make your own healthy crackers with Everything Bagel Crackers.

 

 

Finally, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Buy real food. Use wholesome ingredients.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry (in-store or online).

  • Always have a list and stick to it.

For kitchen tips & tricks, recipes and more, check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook or my website at www.HopesHealthyKitchen.com

Have an Epic Day!

Clear the Clutter, Hope Wissel, Unclutter Your Life

Top 5 Cooking Hacks

Kitchen hacks are clever solutions to every day kitchen dilemmas which could save you time, money and maybe even help to avoid an embarrassing situation.

If you are an avid cook, you probably know lots of them, right?  Maybe they are things you found out by googling a question.  Or, they were passed down in your family – you know like those “old wives tales”.  I have found each time I am in the kitchen making a recipe – I am googling another question and then am amazed at the results.  Sometimes it is even the same question over and over because I forgot the answer. LOL.  You would be surprised but sometimes you get different answers.

1 – Removing Eggshell Fragments

This is one of those hacks I thought wouldn’t work because it seemed too good to be true BUT I was wrong!

Simply use a larger piece of eggshell to scoop up those pesky little fragments. It’s like magic.  I am surprised how often I use this especially in the mornings when I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee  and am fixing breakfast.

2 – Evenly Portion Batter

Use an ice cream scoop to evenly portion out muffin batter or cupcake batter or anything you are using individual pans for. The kind with the trigger release makes it easy to transfer the batter to the muffin tin: no trying desperately to get the batter off of a spoon.  If it is a “sticky” batter, spray pam on the scoop FIRST, then scoop.  The batter will slide out, easy peasy.

3 – Freeze Flat 

OMG!!! I wish I knew this when we lived in the condo.  Our freezer was small and when I pulled one thing out, it all could come tumbling.  LOL. Whether it’s soups, stews, or ground meat, the flatter and wider you can get them, the faster they’ll freeze and defrost.  Place foods in heavy-duty freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, lay the bag flat, and use your hands to work the contents into as flat and even a shape as possible.

4 – Dry Bean versus Canned Beans

It has taken me awhile to learn this AND I usually google it every time I get ready to make something just to be sure.   REMEMBER…. 16 oz of canned beans DOES NOT equal 16 oz of dry beans. Dry beans DOUBLE in size when cooked. Yup, I have made this mistake more times then I can count.  LOL. If I am using the crockpot, I just rinse the dry beans off and throw them in – no pre-soaking here.

5 – How To Reduce Bacon Shrinkage

I was skeptical of this one too!  I had heard rinsing the bacon would cut out some of the salt BUT was surprised to find out it did even more.  To reduce bacon shrinkage, I first trim off the excess fat, then I rinse it off with cold water.  I used to cook bacon in the fry pan just like my mom and grandmother BUT not any more.  With smaller quantities (just for hubby & I) I put it in the air fryer for 10 minutes, turning it half way through.  If we have company, I cook it in the oven at 375F for 10 minutes or more until crispy.

Want more tips and tricks?  Check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook.  Have a hack you want to share…….comment below or send me an email.  If I use it in my blog post, I will send you a free gift as a thank you.

Have an Epic Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesday Recipes

Southwest-Style Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

Thank you Pillsbury.com for today’s recipe….I know crockpot season may almost be over at least for me since I really only use it during the winter month BUT this looked too good to pass up. It’s not the same old pork chops! Tender chops slow-cooked with flavorful creamy mashed pinto beans make a tasty dinner for four.

Prep:  10 minutes     Cook time: 4 hours & 10 minutes     Servings:  4

Ingredients

4 – bone-in center-cut pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick (about 2 lb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
2 cans (15 oz each) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

Directions

  1. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning. Cook pork chops in skillet 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until brown.
  2. In 3- to 4 1/2- quart slow cooker, mix remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon seasoning, the salsa, corn and beans until well blended. Top with pork chops, overlapping as necessary, pressing gently into bean mixture.
  3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Remove pork chops to serving platter. Cover to keep warm. With fork or potato masher, mash beans slightly until slightly thickened. Serve pork chops over beans. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Additional Tips

  • Browning the pork chops before placing them in the slow cooker adds flavor to this dish.
  • Substitute black beans or red beans for pinto beans in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts:  Calories 360, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 3 1/2g, Cholesterol 85 mg Sodium 1110mg, Potassium 760mg, Total Carbohydrate 32g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 9g, Protein 33g.  Daily Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 4 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat;

Since I am the Queen of leftovers – LOL.  I love when there are 4 servings because it ensures I have a meal or two to freeze for hubby’s dinner.  Since he works the swing shift, he uses Thirty One’s Picnic Thermal.  It holds his dinner, snacks  and LOTS of other stuff. We actually weighed it one day and it was 35 pounds! So whether you are headed to the beach, campground or family picnic with your favorite foods. The Picnic Thermal Tote has a Leak Lock® thermal lining to hold ice when you need to keep things cool for a longer time. A removable, adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry when you have your hands full, and the zip-around closure ensures everything stays put while you’re transporting it from the car.

Share your favorite recipe with us, and if I publish it….YOU will get a FREE gift from me.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

Tasty Tuesday: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

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I love CHILI and I am excited to have a new recipe which has lots of the zero point foods from Weight Watchers.  This is a delicious, filling chili. You can serve it topped with sour cream (or cheddar cheese) and tortilla chips!

Prep Time: 20 minutes     Cook Time:  30 minutes    Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 pound butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can white hominy, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes, then add the turkey, and stir until crumbly and no longer pink.
  • Add the butternut squash, chicken broth, green chilies, tomatoes, kidney beans, hominy, and tomato sauce; season with chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Have some leftovers, why not take them for lunch in one of ThirtyOne’s AMAZING thermals, like the Go To Thermal.

 

It is called the Go-To Thermal because you should think of it as the universal lunch bag. With clean lines a simple handle and a variety of prints, this tote is perfect for every member of the family. Features a zip closure and an exterior pocket. Ideal for work, school, sporting events, road trips, golf outings, play dates, fishing trips, pool days and a bunch of other places. Makes a great gift for teachers, neighbors, friends and anyone else who loves to lunch or snack! Machine washable and wipeable lining. Key features are: keeps contents cool or warm for up to 1.25 hours; holds up to 10 lbs. (that’s ALOT of lunch) and can be personalized.  It measures: 11”H x 12.5”L at top opening x 8”L at base x 5”D

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!