Clare's Chaotic Cacophony

This is my little piece of cyberspace where I chronicle events in my life. Where I can vent, or dream, or wax poetic… Grab a heavily alcoholic beverage and join me, if you will.

Archive for January, 2012

Recipe of the Day… Mmmm Mediterranean

So night before last I made a pretty fun dinner. I made Turkish Meatballs with Tzatziki and paired that with Broccoli Couscous and Greek Salad. It was like a little tour of the Mediterranean on a plate and very fun to eat. Breaks up any dinner time rut, that’s for sure. But….my kids complained the whole time I was making it. 


“Ewwww you’re putting bulgar in those meatballs?”
“Oh what is that green stuff?”
“Bulgar sounds like booger…”
“I don’t think I like couscous.”
“What is that dressing you put on the salad? That’s not Ranch!”


And so on and so forth.


I tried to ignore them. I kept reminding them “Try it, you’ll like it!” even imitating the Yo Gabba Gabba song. No dice. Then we sat down to eat. And they ate….and wanted seconds…and then thirds of the salad. Mother 1, Kids 0….flawless victory. Jason loved every inch of it. He said it was like Mexican food  in the way that everything goes together perfectly and even if you mixed your plate together, it would taste just as good. 
So without further adieu, here is the recipe for the meatballs and dipping sauce. Parent loved, kiddo approved. (Be sure to check out my tips at the bottom!)


Turkish Meatballs and Tzatziki Sauce


(For the Meatballs)
1/2 cup(s) uncooked bulgur
1/2 pound(s) uncooked 93% lean ground beef   
1/4 cup(s) scallion(s), sliced  
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground allspice


(For the Tzatziki Sauce)
1 cup(s) plain fat-free yogurt  
1/4 cup(s) cucumber(s), finely diced
1 Tbsp dill, fresh, chopped
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped


Cook or soak bulgur according to package directions; drain any excess water and let cool.
Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 425ºF. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.
Put beef, scallions, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, 1 teaspoon each of garlic and cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, paprika, allspice and drained bulgur in a large bowl; combine ingredients with your hands until well-mixed.
Roll meatball mixture into twenty-four 1 1/4-inch balls; place on prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make dipping sauce, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, dill, tablespoon of cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic, cumin and salt; mix well.
To serve, place meatballs on a serving platter with toothpicks and spoon sauce into a small bowl. Yields 2 meatballs and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sauce per serving


Tips from the Healthy Preggie:
Alrighty, this recipe was originally written as an appetizer\party food dish. I doubled this recipe and got 36 small meatballs out of it instead of 48. This was fine with me though since we were having them as part of dinner and didn’t use toothpicks anyway. I baked them for 15 minutes, just in case and they were still crispy on the bottom but tender on the inside. 


(The WW PointsPlus value on the specified serving of 2 meatballs and 1 1\2 T tzatziki is only ONE point. It’s just that lean. I’m not counting points in my pregnant days, but I do watch my portion sizes with an eye on the calories.)


My Misshapen Gym Adventures

I decided last week that the time was beyond past to get my behind back to the gym. My joints have had me feeling more like an old lady than a young pregnant woman, so I figured I needed to move. Armed with knowledge about safe workouts and heart rates from my “Exercising while Pregnant” pamphlet, I packed my long neglected bag, tied my shoes, and out the door I went. There is something intoxicating about the smell of the gym when you walk in the door…it almost invites an adrenaline rush. I signed in, went to the locker room and pleasantly found it smelling like perfume. After critically examining my awkward appearance in the mirror for a bit (my old work-out pants make me look more than a bit misshapen these days) and using the restroom, up the stairs I went. There my burst of confidence, well..burst. I suddenly felt a bit lost and definitely out-of-place. Determined, however, I pushed on. I did stair-stepping and not-so-vigorous elliptical work for 15 minutes. I ignored the sylphlike chick in front of me with “BOY TOY” written in giant pink glitter letters across her shirt. I also decided that I needed one of those shirts that say “I’m not fat, I’m knocked up!” I persevered. I figured this was a good start, did a little bicep and upper thigh work and tripped back downstairs to the locker room. Now, if I thought my workout clothes made me feel awkward, my maternity bathing suit was a killer. The elastic is apparently deciding to give up the ghost, so I did a lot of tugging at my top. Also, there is nothing remotely sporty or even muted about my purple gingham skirted bathing suit. I bought it during my first pregnancy and it’s definitely time for an upgrade. Thanking God that I brought a big ole’ beach towel, I wrapped it around myself as much as possible and headed for the pool. There I honestly found my stride. I swam any way I wanted to. I used only my arms or only my legs, I did Matrix-style stretches and spins, I felt deliciously weightless. I did things in that pool I could never do on land and I loved it. In those moments, I forgot awkwardness and just enjoyed the exercise. It was wonderful. There was, of course, the funitude of getting out of the pool and going back to the locker room to shower, but I cared a lot less. When I was sitting on the benches drying off afterwards I heard a young woman who’d hopped in the shower singing in an Asian dialect. She sounded like a bird…it was beautiful. Nevermind that I accidentally brought the bleach-stained leggings to wear home or that I’d had to wash my hair with foam body wash. I felt good. I’d done something good for myself and SugarPlum, my brain had received some quiet time,  and I felt revived. All was right with the world.

Damn skippy I’m going to be buying some maternity yoga pants and a new bathing suit soon, though.


Molina’s Table Relish

When I was little (I mean really little…) my parents used to go to Molina’s Mexican Restaurant every now and then. It was always tasty, but one thing stood out. Instead of just your basic salsa, they had a relish they’d put on the table with their fresh tortilla chips. It was soft yet crisp carrots, onions, jalapenos and garlic and it was amazing. My mom actually found the recipe in the Houston Chronicle (the family was awesome enough to release it) and used to make it periodically to store in the fridge. I haven’t been to Molina’s since I was a kiddo, so I’m not sure they serve it anymore? I sure hope so. I’d love to go back there one day for old times’ sake. And hey…what pregnant woman could turn down a big cheesy plate of spicy Mexican food goodness?

Anyhoo I’d kinda forgotten about the relish recently but then I looked in the veggie drawer and found a big bag of carrot rounds. Suddenly it clicked! Oh yeah…Molina’s Relish! In fact, I do believe I’d referenced it once before in this very blog. Preggie brain fart. Go figure. This is simmering on my stove right now and it’s starting to smell wonderful…. I will be piling it on Baked Tostitos later on for a healthy, yet delicioso snack.

Molina’s Restaurant Relish

2 Carrots, cut into rounds
2 Onions, sliced
1\3 c Sliced Jalapenos (you can use fresh or jarred if they’re thick and crisp)
2 Cloves Garlic
1\2 tsp Salt
1\2 tsp Pepper
1-2 Bay Leaves
White Vinegar

Put the carrots on the bottom of your pot, top with onions, jalapenos, garlic cloves, and all seasonings. Add enough vinegar to barely cover everything, then add 1\4 c water. (You can adjust this to your liking depending on how vinegary you like your relish) Simmer on low heat until onions are almost clear. The idea is for the veggies to be soft, yet still crisp. Store in the fridge, preferably in jars with screw-on lids.

Pile liberally on chips. Enjoy.
Seriously…there’s really no way you can’t enjoy this.

Peace out.


Long time, no see…

Hmmm it’s been since mid-November since I’ve blogged…geez if I could just figure out why I haven’t been able to keep up with a blog or have been too interested in healthy eating…let me see….

Ohhhh right! The holidays! Thanksgiving and Christmas, the annual double-whammy to dieters and people struggling to live a healthy lifestyle….of course. *sigh* You know you’d think that two days a month apart would constitute two “splurge days” that you could navigate around, right? WRONG. I think it takes a super human to navigate around the amazing and wonderfully delicious yet horrible-for-you food that floods supermarkets around that time of the year. Seriously, they even dipped pretzels in peppermint bark for crying out loud! *sigh* It was wonderful. But…not for my healthy eating endeavors. To top it off, we were sick constantly. Right after Thanksgiving, we passed around a killer cold. As soon as that was done, the kiddos got an evil stomach virus. Nothing like the smell of barf and poo to warm a preggie woman’s heart. *feeeeeeel the sarcasm* Small break for Jason’s office Christmas party (more amazing food…oh my gosh pub grub is so fun!). Then the wicked mutated brother of the stomach virus knocked on our door. It hit Erik so hard I rushed him to the ER. Bren fell soon after. It even hit poor Jason. I must have a pregnant guardian angel bubble around me, though…I missed out on every stomach virus that came our way. Anyhoo that one surrounded Christmas and we got well just in time for New Years. This of course means more awesome food. We don’t do that whole cabbage and peas thing…we do trays and plates full of dips and finger foods. Fun, delicious, and totally anti-healthy.

And now the aftermath…

I gained a little bit *nose grows a little on that one* more weight than I probably should have in my first trimester. But, believe it or not, I’m tired of constantly rich foods. My body must be craving nutrients because I find myself eating raw veggies, hummus, and light yogurt with fresh berries a LOT here lately. I found a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries at Kroger around New Years and it made me sooo happy. 🙂 So I’ve been back on the wagon. Dinners are healthy recipes again, and lunches do NOT involve chips. I put a bunch of craving-blockers in the house. When I start to jones for buffalo wings, I have a box of frozen vegetarian “chicken” nuggets and a bottle of spicy wing sauce. Mexican food cravings will get knocked out by Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Enchiladas Suizas (which is amazingly delicious) or some baked tortilla chips and salsa. For pizza, there’s some lean french bread pizzas in the freezer, or the option of making my own on whole wheat thin crusts from HEB. Ice cream is taken care of with those Weight Watchers or Skinny Cow bars. There are crazy delicious alternatives out there…alternatives that don’t leave me feeling tired, bloated, and sluggish. Sugarplum deserves better than that anyhoo.

Ah yes, Sugarplum! I need to update on him\her also! We are already in our second trimester and 15 weeks along. I’ve had my 12 week ultrasound and a few OB appointments since my last blog post and that is one healthy little person in there. Measurements look great, blood work has been coming back negative for any kind of birth defects, and the heartbeat is nice and high (160’s). I’m hoping beyond hope that it’s a girl this time. Seriously. It’s never felt this dire or this well… “right”. The name “Sugarplum” came from a babycenter.com update that described that baby’s size as about the size of a plum. This was during the holidays, therefore “sugarplum” seemed appropriate. Baby is now the size of a “large apple” but Sugarplum kinda stuck. Let’s hope that when he\she is born, the sweetness of the nickname will stick also. hehe..

Anyhoo I’d better jet for now. I just finished my yogurt and berries and the little guys are clamoring for coloring pages. I’ll touch on exercise the next time I post and hopefully share a recipe or two. I have a killer Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya recipe that I made last night that is just…awesome. Healthy, full of flavor, and compatible with just about any eating plan you may be on. Peace, love, rock n roll, and adios for now!