Monthly Archives: March 2013

Roasted Red Potato and Langostino Chowder

by

Boy do the Irish love their potatoes. Embarking on my recent Ireland adventure, I knew that the food scene there would be largely meat and potatoes. I just didn’t realize how prevalent the potato would be in literally every meal of the day.

Granted, my view is from the tourist perspective, where I was eating the provided hotel breakfast or dining out for other meals. So I admit that it is entirely possible that in the average local home, the potato is not the same prevalent meal accessory. However, judging from the locals that I interacted with, I think it is safe to say that they love their spuds.

The “full Irish breakfast” served at the hotels and most cafes consists of 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 pieces of ham, 2 pieces of blood sausage, toast, tomatoes, and, you guessed it, potatoes. You will see potatoes at lunch and dinner as well, whether they are embedded in a thick and hearty Beef and Guinness Stew (delicious!), mashed on top of that same stew, or served as chips (aka fries) on the side. Order a pasta dish or rice dish, and you will often get a plate of chips on the side.

It’s no wonder the potato famine devastated this wee island, I’m not sure they know what else to eat. I am simply amazed that with that high carb and protein intake, though, the country doesn’t struggle with the same obesity epidemic that the US does. Add to that the immense amount of beer consumed, and I am truly puzzled. So being the curious person that I am, I had to delve into this a bit and understand how that is.

Based on my observations, I think it comes down to whole, natural foods, consumption in moderation and moving more. Yes, the Irish consume a lot of meat and potatoes — actually a lot of lean seafood as well, fishing is a huge industry there as it is an island after all. However, they don’t consume much processed food at all, you don’t see people snacking on crisps (aka chips) or the like, I’m not sure I ever saw a local drinking a soda, you rarely see people indulging in sweets, and, while there is a McDonald’s in Dublin, fast food is a rarity there and drive-thrus simply don’t exist. (By the way, I find these statements to be true of every European country I have visited thus far.)

Society moves at a slower pace, meal time is a social event that is savored and shared with friends and family. Food is not something you pick up at a drive-thru and eat behind the wheel. The meals served in the pubs are typically locally sources and very fresh. Drink is consumed slowly, the purpose being not to get drunk but to enjoy a good time with the company you’re in. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful world to live in?

Finally, people walk a lot more, particularly in the larger cities. You won’t see massive supermarkets with overflowing parking lots and customers jockeying for the closest parking spot. Instead, shops are smaller and typically only have street parking. Customers typically visit multiple shops to get the provisions they need (i.e., butcher, fresh produce, bakery), walking between the shops and parking only once or using mass transit.

It dawned on me, that these principles — whole foods, consumption in moderation, moving more — are exactly what I have tried to follow and promote as part of my healthy lifestyle. As innovative as we Americans are, maybe there’s a lesson here that we can take from our old world counterparts. What do you think?

Roasted Red Potato and Langostino Chowder
Recipe by Colleen Fields
This creamy – yet creamless – chowder is full of red potatoes, roasted to bring out a smoky, sweet flavor, and tender, buttery langostino tails. It’s guilt free deliciousness at it’s best!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs red potatoes, chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1.5 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 4 cups homemade, salt free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed
  • 1/2 lb. frozen, cooked langostino tails, thawed
  • 1 bay leaf

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and pinch of coarse sea salt. Spread on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes, turning them about halfway through to ensure even browning.
  3. Heat a soup pot over medium heat and spray with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Add the celery, onion, red bell pepper, thyme and pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are transparent.
  4. In a blender or food processor, combine half of the roasted potatoes, 1-2 cups of the broth and the Greek yogurt. Puree until the mixture is smooth and creamy, adding more broth as necessary.
  5. Pour the pureed potato mixture into the soup pot with the vegetables and add in the rest of the roasted potatoes, broth, corn and langostino tails. Stir to combine well.
  6. Submerge the bay leaf into the soup and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Serve immediately, add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 4 Servings

Nutrition Facts
  4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 290.2
  Total Fat 4.3 g
  Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
  Cholesterol 50.0 mg
  Sodium 316.4 mg
  Potassium 936.8 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 46.4 g
  Dietary Fiber 5.2 g
  Sugars 4.5 g
  Protein 20.9 g

 

Traveling While Healthy

by

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently on holiday in Ireland so no recipes to share at this moment. However, I thought this would be a good time to talk about strategies for traveling while healthy.

Traveling while sticking to your health resolutions can be a bit of a challenge. You don’t always have access to a fitness center, and let’s not even talk about the tempting food and drink that always seems to be in abundance. So what’s a girl like me to do?

This was a challenge that I had to deal with early on in my weight-loss journey for at the time I was in a job that required me to travel quite frequently. I found myself seeking help online from other people facing similar challenges, and the tips and tricks that I learned then stick with me today. Here are things I do to keep those vacation pounds from creeping on:

  1. Practice moderation. You’re on vacation, you don’t want to deprive yourself of enjoying it, or give in to temptation, eat too much and then spend the rest of your time feeling guilty. Practice moderation, balanced with physical activity. Instead  of eating that whole piece of cheesecake, share it with someone or stop after a few bites.
  2. Stay hydrated. Pack an empty water bottle through airport security and then fill it up at a water fountain on the other side. There are fountains all over airports, usually located near the bathrooms. Once I get to my destination, I buy a couple of gallons of drinking water (or here in Ireland that would be 2 liter bottles) and keep those in my hotel room in order to refill my water bottle. And of course I carry my water bottle with me everywhere I go, neatly tucked in my purse or backpack.
  3. Pack  snacks. I always pack healthy, portable snacks in my bag, such as granola bars, nuts, or dried fruit. I look for snacks that are high in protein so will fill me up but low in added sugar.
  4. Look for opportunities to move. In Europe, I do a ton of walking because everything is so close together. However, I also always pack my gym shoes in order to take advantage of a hotel fitness center (if there is one) or a good adjacent park or neighborhood. My hotel here in Dublin is very close to Phoenix Park and I can tell you that I am praying that it’s not raining tomorrow morning  so that I can get a nice run. I have also been known to pack an exercise dvd and run that on my laptop in my hotel room in the evening. Opportunities for exercise abound, you just have to look for them.
  5. Do your research. If you can, research the restaurants near your hotel or places you might go to eat at ahead of time. Many places have their menus online now. Strategize ahead of time what you’re going to eat so that you won’t be faced with temptation in the moment.

What tips do you have for traveling while healthy?

Chipotle Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew

by

Over the past couple of months, I have been working on improving my food photos. I’ve invested in new dishes, props, backgrounds, and lights in an effort to boost the quality of the photos.

 

 

One of the limitations I have in taking these photos is a lack of natural light. You see, I video myself preparing these meals for my family’s dinner. That way food doesn’t go to waste and you all get a nice instructional lesson. I then take photos of the finished product after I am done filming (can I even still use that word if film isn’t actually involved?) and before I sit down to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Because I’m preparing this in the evening, I have to rely on artificial light for my photos.

I get out various props, set up the lights, and unfold my little step-ladder then clamber about the house shooting multiple photos from all different angles in search of the perfect shot. What do you think of my efforts? Have you seen an improvement?

I have made it my personal goal to get a photo on FoodGawker, which is basically a foodie porn site. They are extremely picky about their photos. I’ve submitted multiple photos to them over the past couple of months and I keep getting rejected with comments like: “underexposed,” “overexposed,” or (my favorite) “composition too tight.” Argh.

This week I learned that I am getting a nice very nice bonus from work, so I decided to buy a new camera. I did some research and found one recommended by other food bloggers that is a nice point-and-shoot camera with lots of great features, including a background defocus function. I ordered it Thursday and am impatiently waiting for it to be delivered like a kid waiting for Christmas.

And it seems this was just in time, too, for last night I experienced a death in my kitchen. I was in the middle of recording a new video when suddenly the tripod — with my camera attached to the top — tipped over and crashed loudly onto the floor. Now the lens won’t open when I turn it on, it keeps telling me I have the lens cap on. This is a nice SLR camera that I bought 5 years ago and has accompanied me on many adventures so I am more than a little sad at its loss. Plus, I couldn’t finish my video last night and let’s just say I was not at all happy about that in the moment.

Many of you know that I am embarking on a new adventure this week to Ireland. So now I’m a little panicked at the thought of not having my favorite camera in tow. I anxiously checked my Amazon ship notice last night and was relieved to see that my package was scanned into a Portland FedEx facility yesterday. I’m crossing my fingers that means that I will have my new camera on Monday so that I can get some play time in before I climb on the plane Thursday.

So next time you hear from me, I will be on the other side of the pond, getting in touch with my Irish roots and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style. Hopefully I will have a camera to show some evidence of this as well. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t retain evidence of some events. 🙂

Chipotle Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew
 
Recipe by Colleen Fields
This sweet and spicy Chipotle Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew is just the recipe for a hearty apres-ski meal that will warm you from the inside out after a day on the slopes.

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless turkey cutlets, cubed
  • 3 tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry, marsala cooking wine
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced + 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1 4 oz. can diced, roasted green chiles
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp minced fresh sage leaves

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep pot. Add the onion and cook until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. The onion should be brown and gooey.
  2. Toss the turkey cutlet pieces with the flour until the turkey is well coated. Add to the pan and cook just until the turkey is no longer pink on the outside — it should still be pink on the inside though.
  3. Add the marsala wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, chipotle pepper, green chiles, salt, cumin, honey, cinnamon and sage. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Serve, eat and enjoy!

 

Nutritional Information per per serving: Calories 279.6, Total Fat 4.3g, Cholesterol 45.0mg, Sodium 359.7mg, Total Carbs 27.0g, Dietary Fiber 2.2g, Protein 32.4g