Sicko

January 27, 2012

IMG_0133Remember that time when I sat outside in the cold for 3 hours to watch a hockey game? Yeah, turns out it doesn’t do wonders for your health. I woke up Sunday morning with a cold and a sore throat. I opted to stay home from church and take a lazy day, since substitute teachers don’t get sick days (I work when permanent teachers are sick, but no one covers for me if I’m not feeling well. I’m more than welcome to stay home, but they don’t like to pay me for that).

But being sick isn’t all bad – I stayed in my pyjamas until after 12, listened to music and a sermon on my iPad, watched some TV, and created a new healthy pancake recipe, among other things.

I wanted to tinker with an oatmeal pancake recipe – one that was simple, satisfying, and didn’t have lots of other stuff added in. The pumpkin was a last minute addition because the egg white wasn’t enough liquid. I REALLY wanted to add some Stevia, but I’m trying to make an effort to cut back on added sweeteners, even natural/non-caloric ones, so I didn’t put any in. Honestly, I think I would have liked the pancakes better with some Stevia, as they weren’t sweet at all, so go ahead and add some (or another sweetener of your choice) if you like. That being said, I still liked these guys. While not sweet, and not your typical fluffy pancake texture, they had a great heartiness, and just the right amount of chew (and while not officially gluten-free, they contain no wheat).

Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes – serves 1, 4 points plus

Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (please don’t use instant, or I might die a little inside)
  • 3 tablespoons canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 egg white (or 2 tablespoons egg whites from a carton)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and pre-heat on medium high.

Make 3 small pancakes. Cook until slightly brown on the bottom, about 2 or 3 minutes. Then flip, and let brown on the other side.

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Mix. Cook. Flip – You’re done!

I chose to top my pancakes with kiwi and pomegranate arils, served with a side of 1/4 lightly sweetened and mixed with vanilla extract Greek yogurt, a nice fruit salad, and my own DIY soy “latte” (I use that term loosely, since there was no foaming action involved, just vanilla soy milk, coffee, and a bit of Stevia) – 6 points plus altogether. This breakfast may not have cured my cold, but I sure enjoyed staying in my pyjamas and making/eating it! P.S…my camera battery died so I had to take all the pancake pics with the iPhone…not bad, eh?IMG_4327

Lunch time rolled around, I was still sick, but of course I still had an appetite Winking smile (remember, the first word of this blog is HUNGRY). And after making the decision to get dressed, I was craving something lean, green, and healthy, and preferably something that would come together with relative ease. Solution?

A big bowl of greens and spaghetti topped with ricotta! Now, before I go on and share the recipe, allow me a moment to speak for all of the “unsung greens” out there. We all know kale gets a lot of love in the blog world. And spinach is everyone’s standby for healthy salads and pasta. But people, there are a LOT more delicious and hearty greens out there – so get beyond your kale, and embrace Swiss chard! Try collard greens! They are also oh-so-nutritious, and unbelievably delicious. In fact, just talking about this makes me think I should do a post on alternative greens, it gets me so fired up…but I digress.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess, I used an “alternative green,” collards, as my choice for this dish (mixed with some spinach though). They are a nice option for in the winter when you want a big bowl of greens and pasta, and contrary to what many wonderful Southern folk may be used to, you don’t have to boil the heck out of them and serve them as a side. They are simply delightful sautéed in garlic and oil on their own, or over pasta, as in this case.

And, of course, since I’m on that whole “cook once eat twice (or more)” bandwagon these days, I made an extra serving. And let me tell you, come Monday night when I was exhausted after teaching all day with a cold (you try yelling at a noisy class when your voice is AWOL and answering the question “Are you sick?” multiple times over and see how you feel), I was SO glad I had a ready-made lunch in the fridge waiting for me so I didn’t have to devote the mental energy to thinking about what to have the next day. And I will report that this dish is equally as delicious cold (I would have heated it up, but I had lunchroom duty to get to, so I chose to forgo the microwave in favour of not having to gulp it all down in 10 minutes). Enough talking. You probably want to know how to make the stuff. It’s super easy. Grab your collards and let’s go!

Winter Green Spaghetti – makes 2 servings, 7 points plus each

Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 1 bunch collard greens (or other winter greens of your choice)
  • one LARGE handful fresh spinach (frozen would probably work too though)
  • one LARGE handful sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a pinch of chili flakes (leave out or reduce if you can’t take the heat)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • enough whole wheat spaghetti to make 2 cups cooked (just cook as much as you want, then measure after, and store any leftovers in the fridge, it’s what I do)
  • juice of one lemon (use the zest too if you can, mine was just a little on the ancient side and wasn’t in the mood to surrender its zest to me)
  • 1/2 cup light ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

First things first. Boil some salted water to the pasta.

While the water is boiling, chop up your garlic and greens. Put the spaghetti in the water once it’s boiled.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the collards, chili flakes and garlic. Cook until the greens have wilted slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook until they have started to brown, and the greens have wilted even more, about 3 more minutes.

Add in your spinach and let it wilt. At this point, your pasta should be almost done. Drain the pasta, but reserve a bit of the cooking water and add it to the veggies.

Stir in the pasta, add the lemon juice (and zest, if using), and season with salt and pepper. Stir together for just a few minutes until everything is heated through.

Divide the pasta into 2 servings and top each one with 1/4 cup ricotta, and more salt and pepper if needed.

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Chop to it! The bigger the knife you have, the easier your greens chopping will be.

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Greens are slightly wilted, pasta is cooking. Add the mushrooms now!IMG_4321

Am I the only one who is constantly amazed at how much spinach reduces in volume when you cook it?

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Pasta boiling, almost done, but don’t forget – save some of that starchy cooking water (thanks for the tip, Rachael Ray Winking smile)

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All wilted down, let’s add some pasta to the party, shall we?

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Pasta, starchy water, lemon juice, final seasoning check – yep, we’re good! All we need is ricotta.

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Oh double duty meals, how I love you!

Now I don’t know if it was because I haven’t been eating as many carbs these days, but that spaghetti tasted especially good to me. This meal was EXACTLY what I was craving – fast, delicious, and nutrient-packed. This is one of those great meals that you could totally customize based on what you have on hand, and uses a lot of pantry staples, so keep it in your go-to list.IMG_4328

Continuing on the going green theme, I even added greens to my “dessert”. I figured it couldn’t hurt my health. I found an envelope of “The Amazing Trio” – barley, wheat and alfalfa grass, and decided to green up my smoothie. Now, I normally add a touch of sweetener to my smoothies, so I decided to try and go without Sunday. This green smoothie might not have been a good first venture. In the mix was almond milk, frozen strawberries and raspberries, and my green stuff. I tried it. It tasted, um, grassy. So I added some unsweetened cocoa powder (hey, even more antioxidants) to try and cover it up. It improved the flavour a bit, but my smoothie was still fairly “earthy.” I drank it, it was ok, definitely seemed “healthy.”

So…in the end. Yes, being sick does suck. But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or pasta, pancakes and a smoothie). This cold seemed to hang on well into the week, so I’m not sure if any of my efforts to boost my immune system with all those greens did any good, but it sure tasted good going down (well, the pancakes and the pasta. Smoothie – just ok).

I hope you have a great weekend and that you’re staying healthy even with all the yucky things going around. Do you have any favourite foods to eat when you’re sick or any that you swear make you feel better?

5 Comments

  • Shana says:

    It seems like I crave citrus and fruits with a high water content when I am sick. I like to pretend that orange segments are in my body fighting the germs!

  • Kaylee says:

    I love the look of all of this food! Good for you for trying to cut back on all sugars/sweetners! I am trying to do a low sugar thing this January, and cutting even stevia would be sooo hard! I have been reading your blog since August, and thought I would finally leave a comment!!

  • Those pancakes looks super hefty!

    I’m sorry to hear about the illness…Its a sad life you substitute teachers have….Nobody covering you and all ;)

    Yay for chard!!! I agree, other greens get left out….Almost to a point of seeming non-existence but when we discover them, it’s like Christmas time!

    My go to sick foods are tea, soup and grilled cheese sammiches!

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