What do you do when you have a whole lot of bits and bobs in your fridge that need to get used up? Make soup!
I was faced with this dilemma this weekend while fighting off a bit of a bug of some sort. all I wanted was soup. So I looked around and found that I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but not a lot of anything that seemed useful, until I started pulling things out of the fridge. I like to call my soup creations that are made in this fashion “kitchen sink soups”. You just throw everything you have, sometimes including the kitchen sink! 🙂
The summertime isn’t a usual time for soup, I’ll admit, but since I’ve been on this lower carb kick, I’ve been eating a lot of soups and stews. Avoiding too much pasta cuts out a lot of casseroles, right? So I had a pre-cooked barbecued chicken in the fridge from the grocery store. But honestly, I am not a fan of chicken noodle soup. I think I got sick too many times when I was a kid, so I’m just not a fan of one of the best home remedies in the world. I’ll eat it if I’m sick, but I’m not going to eat it “just because”.
So, I thought, why not make something heartier? Why not make something more flavourful? I still had barley in the cupboard and a lot of veggies in the fridge and freezer that could be used up. Why not? Before long, I was saying to myself, “Soup’s on!” I’ll warn that since I don’t use a lot of salt anymore, my soups are getting heavier and heavier in the seasonings department. But don’t worry, it’s worth it, and it’s not as bad as it looks.
I think I posted something very similar to this a while back, but I’m revisiting it. I’ve changed up the ingredients a bit, including the amount of hoisin sauce and spices, as well as adding a can of water chestnuts (which were a fantastic addition!).
Stirfry lunch or dinner is a nearly no-guilt meal for me. So long as I watch the sodium, don’t add much in the way of oil, and am careful with what sauces I add (and how much), I think it’s a pretty healthy way to eat. And loading it up with veggies but just a little bit of meat allows you to spread out a small portion of meat (especially if that’s all you have) between more people/portions.
You see, I’m not much of a raw-veggie fan, but stirfry needs to be crunchy. Warmed through but still undercooked enough to have that crunch. A floppy, mushy stirfry is just nasty, so the key here is a high enough heat to warm quickly while preserving the crunch of the veggies, but not so high that it burns, along with cooking it very quickly. Cooking it on a lower heat just boils or simmers it in whatever you’re cooking it in. I am by no means a master at this. I just kind of eyeball it and judge by how the food feels against the spatula.
So I had some strips of an Eye of Round roast in the freezer that I hadn’t cooked up yet and decided that was going to be the meat of the dish. Here’s what I did…
In my quest to eat better, I’ve also been looking for some pre-made meals for ease and to give me a break from cooking. As much as I enjoy cooking, I do have weeks where I don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking, after all.
I’ve tried one of the Irresistibles dinners from Metro, but I’ve also bought a couple of Weight Watchers Smart Ones meals. The first one I tried is the Broccoli & Cheddar with Roasted Potatoes.
Due to the summer heat, I’ve been using my crockpot a lot more than my oven, especially for cooking large quantities of meat. I recently threw two large turkey breasts into the crockpot with a seasoning rub (that I threw together) and some reduced sodium chicken broth.
From this, I decided to reserve some of the meat for a turkey-potato-veggie dinner, some for sandwiches (turkey club anyone??) and the rest, I threw into a stewpot on the stove with some barley and vegetables. Yes. Soup in the summer. I’m okay with eating soup in the summer. I like to freeze it into smaller portions and then pull it out on a rainy day! Here’s what I did:
I’m sure that I’ve probably posted my chili/chili stew before somewhere, but let me state for the record that it is not what most people think of when they think of chili. It’s more of a stew or soup with chili seasonings. I throw all kinds of vegetables into it and there are no beans.
But lately, I’ve been watching my sodium intake and carbs, so I’ve been changing some of my old favourites up, as mentioned in previous posts. For this one, I focused on cutting right back on the sodium. Did you know, for example, that 1/2 a cup of diced tomatoes from a can generally has about 450-500 mg of sodium, but the same amount from a ‘no salt added’ can of tomatoes may only have 20-30 mg? It’s a HUGE difference! It allows you the room to regulate the salt how you’d like it, rather than dealing with all that sodium right from the start.
I managed to get my chili stew to the point of only being about 170 mg of sodium per 1 cup serving, which means I could have two servings if I wanted to! 😉
I was craving Chinese food one lunch-hour while I was on vacation. But Chinese can get expensive and I’ve been trying to cut back on MSG (which gives me migraines), sodium, and extra spending. 😉 So I raided my fridge and freezer to see what I could do. Before long, I had drummed up the fixings for a really quick stir-fry for lunch. Here’s what I did…