This is the best challenge I ever set myself. It’s really making me focus on planning my meals and putting lots of effort into thinking about what I’m incorporating and trying to create fabulous flavours. I printed 2 of these off from a Google search. I laminated them and I have them on the pinboard in my kitchen with a dry wipe marker hanging permanently alongside and when I’m totally on the ball I have a two week plan which of course I stick rigidly to (yeah OK well you know I try) and I can just wipe clean and start again. I take a photo of the shopping/ingredients list with my phone so when I’m shopping I can have a quick look at what I need for the next day or two as I’ve abandoned ‘The BIG Shop’ nasty habit.
It might be too much to steam everything you eat but doing a challenge like this can help you get back on tracks if you’ve had a week of over indulgence or it can just bring you back into line if you’ve started to stray a bit back to the darkside, or it can reintroduce something different if you’ve allowed your diet to become samey, predictable and boring. It could also assist with readjusting portion sizes. There are lots of benefits to doing a healthy food challenge, it doesn’t have to be a fad, it doesn’t have to include every meal every day and like I said yesterday it doesn’t have to go on for too long. Or of course you could try to steam a meal once or twice a week.
You could also match a challenge to a dietary need so you could have a five day challenge where you include as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible into one meal a day for 5 days, or as many natural diuretics as possible, or as many anti-oxidant foods…
Right so today we have garlic lemon and ginger chicken breast with cheesy broccoli and cauliflower. I do have photos this time but it would appear that all data cables have been spirited away and it’s too late to wake my son up so I’ll put my pics on tomorrow and use substitute illustrations for now.
OK so for this one I took:
I marinaded it all day in the following concoction which I mashed and bashed with a pestle and mortar:
- freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
- sprinkle of ground sea salt
- sprinkle of black pepper
- a crushed garlic clove
- a bashed lemon grass stalk (lemon grass is versatile have a read about it here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/lemon-grass)
- thin julienne strips of fresh stem ginger
- a few tips of fresh tarragon leaves (read about the health benefits of tarragon here and note the final point so don’t over do consumption just in case. It might seem odd to include an appetite stimulant but the quantity is small and I wasn’t starving after it, the flavour is worth it. It’s easy to grow too http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/tarragon-herb.html)
- a quarter teaspoon of ground turmeric
When I was ready to cook it I put the chicken into the bottom section of the steamer ensuring that the slices of ginger and the lemon grass were on top of the chicken.
In the section above I popped 3 decent sized florets each of broccoli and cauliflower (health benefits of these fabulous veggies here http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-cauliflower-broccoli-4162.html) I , had managed to procure organic varieties at a farmers market, always worth a nose around if you have one or one pops up near you. I added nothing to the veggies.
I added the obligatory filtered water to the steamer reservoir, stacked and lidded up and left it all to its own devices for 20 minutes. This made the veg quite soft so if you like it nice and crunchy put the veg section on half way through, but I wanted it soft for this meal.
While it was cooking I finely grated cheese using one of these contraptions which is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets and has been for years, it makes a tiny bit of cheese go a long way.
I know cheese is fatty and there is a nifty little calculator I found on Google which has the fat content of some commonly used cheeses which you can tally up by quantity (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=fat+in+25+grammes+of+cheese&rlz=1C1CHFX_enGB517GB517&oq=fat+in+25+grammes+of+cheese&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i64l3.5012j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8) but I am not removing dairy from my diet and there is mounting research to show that consuming dairy fat is beneficial to health rather than detrimental read http://www.todaysdietitian.com/news/exclusive0912.shtml and http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean which suggests that full fat dairy products may actually help us to be slim.
Into the cheese I mixed a teaspoon of grainy French mustard which turned it into something resembling a lump of ugly straggly butter. Don’t underestimate the nutritional values of condiments, read this all the way down to have your eyes opened about mustard, especially the grainy type http://www.collectivewizdom.com/Mustard-Top10HealthBenefits.html
When the steamer had done, I stirred the cheesy/mustard mix into the vegetables, it melted and lightly coated the florets just enough to give them a fabulously naughty flavour and I settled it all into a nice big dish and sliced my chicken fillet into generous chunks and popped it on the top and served with a wedge of fresh lemon on the side which I squeezed over the plate before getting stuck in.
It was divine! All cooked in the steamer with prep time of around 5 minutes and max cooking time of 20 minutes, washing up time of 5 minutes max. Thirty minutes… that is convenience food at its best.