Sunday, November 13, 2016

Turkey (or chicken) Meatballs the don't suck - HMR Phase 2!

Turkey/Chicken meatballs can suck.  Dense, dry, DISGUSTING.  I don't care how low calorie a food is, if it tastes bad it doesn't get made.

There are a couple key things to remember.

1)  You must use a Thermapen.  Poultry has to be cooked to 165 degrees.  But anything over 170 and it gets dry, especially if your using the breast.  Thigh meat is a little more flexible, but higher calories. A thermapen is the only true instant read thermometer there is.  Spend the $100 - best kitchen tool ever.
2)  You must use fresh ground poultry, or at very least the fresh Turkey Store ground turkey.  Those frozen turkey chubs turn turkey into dog food.  Just say no.
3)  Use raw veg - they will cook and release moisture as they cook, helping keep the meatballs moist


1 lb fresh ground chicken or other poultry
8 oz of finely diced RAW vegetables.  Options can include:
- mushrooms
- onions
- spinach
- peppers (red, green, whatever)
- think creatively - use several to add up to 8 oz
2 ounces of COOKED (this adds some bulk and keeps them from getting too dense)
- quinoa
- wild rice
- brown rice
- barley
- any cooked grain
Salt, pepper, seasoning ( I like 1 tbs of pizza seasoning, but hey, go mexican, asian, whatever)


Heat teflon pan (medium)
Get out a wide, shallow bowl
Spread half of the veg and other items in the bowl
Spread the meat over it
Spread the rest of the fixings, including spices
Mix gently as you can.  You do have to work the meat, but try to go easy
Make meatballs - I go for about 1 to 1 1/2 inch in diameter
Spray pan with a shot of spray oil
Put in pan
Cover pan!
When meatballs begin to brown, rotate
After rotation, be sure to check, and keep checking their temp - when they hit 160, turn the stove off and take off the burner!  DO IT.  It will naturally rise to 165.

Use whatever sauce you like.  I like using the HMR chicken soup made with chicken stock

Chicken - 500 calories (I used 99% fat free chicken breast)
Veg - depends on what you use - 40 calories
Cooked wild rice - 2 ounces - 60 calories
HMR Chicken Soup (1/2 package) 50 calories
Fat Free Chicken Stock, 1/2 cup - 10 calories

660 Calories, three servings - 220 calories per serving.  Add more vegies, a great, filling meal for under 300 calories.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

WOW - Creamy (non dairy) Jalapeno Green Sauce (Vegan even) - Low Calorie! HMR Compliant!

A.K.A. the Green Stuff.

This is awesome.  I mean really good.  And it takes a fairly typical salsa/sauce at Taco Trucks (the green stuff) and makes it far more nutritious with far fewer calories.

The bottled green sauce you get at taco trucks and Taqueria's is pretty basic - boiled jalapenos and onion, pureed in a blender with vegetable oil and salt.  Sometimes with garlic, sometimes with cilantro.  Some may add avocado, but most don't, even though everyone thinks it's in there.  It is really good.  To cut the heat, you take out the seeds and the membranes before boiling (which is where most of the heat in a pepper is).  Boil them with the seeds and membranes the heat goes up - your choice.

I have made it without the oil, but it is missing something.  Missing more than the 500 calories a 1/4 cup of oil brings.  The oil adds fat, smoothness and tames the heat some.


The solution for not using oil?  Soft Silken Tofu.  Yes, Tofu.

Tofu gets you that smoothness, the texture that oil brings to the sauce.  It has just enough fat to taste great, not enough to bust your diet.  It has 180 calories for 12 ounces, not 500 calories for 1/4 cup.  Plus 16 grams of protein, some calcium, iron and other nutrients and minerals.

And it tastes great.  On to the show.


One lb fresh jalapenos, seeded and de-ribbed (wear vinyl/nitrile gloves when cutting and don't touch your eyes!
One onion, chopped (nothing special, it is getting boiled and pureed later).  I use white onions as that is more typical in mexican cooking, but whatever.  You could even use green onions, tops and all.
1 Box (12 oz) Soft Silken Tofu
Salt to taste
Garlic if you like
Cilantro if you like

Boil jalapenos and onions for 20 minutes in sufficient water to keep covered
If you like, in the last 5 minutes, add peeled garlic to the boiling water.  As much garlic as you like.

Drain and blend all three ingredients for a minute.  Be careful - it will be hot.  I use a blender, you could use a food processor.  I think the blender gets it smoother.

While blending, scoop in the tofu.  Blend for another 30 seconds.

Add salt to taste (as in, add a tsp, taste, add more as you like, or don't)
Add fresh cilantro as desired, or not.

Serve warm, or put in the fridge to cool.  This will keep for at least a week

If you de-ribbed and de-seeded the jalapenos, the sauce will be quite mild, especially if you put it on food such as HRM Turkey Chili, eggs, as a veggie dip, etc.

Calorie count for the entire recipe 355 - 180 for the Tofu, 130 for the Jalapenos, 45 for the onion. So 355 calories for the entire sauce, which will be about 2 cups.  That is about 11 calories a tablespoon, 22 calories for two tbs.  So this is actually OK on the No Decisions HMR diet as a condiment!

Woo Hoo!

HMR Pancakes - Phase 2 - The new, the improved, the awesome

Or so my wife says.  She also said write down the recipe now!  So here it is.


Bowl 1 - the dry
3 apples, peeled, cored, diced fine
2 Multi-grain HMR cereal
2 HMR 70 Shakes
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 cup quick cook/instant oatmeal (no sugar added!)

Bowl 2 - the wet
1 banana mashed
1/2 oz dried cranberries - no sugar added!  Just dried!  No Craisens!
1 tbs Vanilla extract
1/2 tbs Almond extract
1/2 cup water
Let sit 5 minutes for the cranberries to rehydrate


Mix Bowl 1 up
Mix Bowl 2 up
Add Bowl 2 to Bowl 1, mixing with silicone spatula

You are looking for a fairly dry mix, very chunky - not liquidy

Having said that, 1/2 cup of water will likely not be enough

Let sit 5 minutes for the oatmeal/cereal to absorb the water.  Add more as needed, understanding this is a fairly dry (think brownie thick)

Heat non-stick pan on stove at medium heat - DONT USE A VERY HOT PAN.  These pancakes both burn easy and need a while to cook through.  So you need a medium heat pan to accomplish this

Add pancake mix to pan in whatever size pancake you like.  I recomend mushing out the center of the pancake so it spreads out - the center takes the longest to cook, so you don't want it thickest there.

When the pancake mix bubbles up, the bubbles burst - AND STAY OPEN - that is when it is time to flip.  Otherwise the pancakes will be too wet.

To calculate the calories, cook all the pancakes and divide by the total calories.  The size I make them come in at about 65 calories each.  Four pancakes is one shake and one fruit, at about 260 calories.

The extra I cool down, then put on a waxed paper lined baking sheet, then put in freezer.  After frozen, bag in freezer bags.

They reheat well in either the toaster or the microwave.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

HMR Apple Banana Bars


This is only when you get to add fruit to your diet

It is also a high calorie low volume thing, so it is not an every day type food.  Basically my wife and I have them for when our choices at work or family is things like pie, donuts, etc.  So it is an HMR in the box treat.  Count the calories!  This is low calorie when consumed in moderation and compared to the usual office things.

Turn oven on to 350 degrees
Line 9x9 pan with parchment paper, spray with non stick

Bowl One

1 ripe banana mashed
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Mix together

Bowl Two

2 apples, peeled, cored, diced fine
1 Vanilla 70 Shake mix package
2 Multi Grain Cereal package
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs Baking Powder
Mix together


Add Bowl One to Bowl Two
Let sit for five minutes so that Bowl Two absorbs all the water
If it is very dry, you can add more water, one tbs at a time.  It should be fairly dry, almost crumbly

Place into prepared 9x9 pan, bake.... 20 to 30 minutes ... or more.  I cook it until a toothpick put in the center comes out dry.  The temperature in the center should be about 200 degrees if you have a thermapen.

This is more a raised fruit bar - the baking powder "puffs it up".

This is about 800 calories for the pan - divide by the number of bars you cut and that gives you a per bar calorie count.  One third of the pan counts as one shake and one fruit - One sixth is 1/2 a shake and 1/2 a fruit.

They will keep several days in the fridge.  We cut them into 12 pieces, then freeze separately, then bag and keep in the freezer.  They thaw nicely for eating at work/road/party/etc.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

HMR Five Bean Casserole - Becomes.... West African Peanut Stew - Maafe!

The HMR Five Bean Casserole is pretty good.

And you can do a number of things with it - my favorite is making it into Peanut Stew.

Peanut stew is, typically, root vegetables with chicken, and of course, peanuts and peanut butter..  Which is not exactly hmr material.  So, what to do, what to do.

Well, this is what you do

The simple adds are

PB2 - yes, that wonder of modern science, freeze dried, defatted peanut butter.
Green Onions
HMR chicken soup

Get to add Vegetables?  Time for some fun

Cooked Sweet Potato or Butternut squash are classics
Sweet corn
Fresh or canned tomato
Garbanzo beans (1/2 cup equals one serving of veg)
Cooked potato
Diced red peppers

This is a delicious stew - really!

Leek and Potato Soup - 100 calories a cup!

I like this soup in the fall when leeks are cheap.  As in 69 cents each.  When they are $2.69 each, I don't like them as much.  Plus, they are cheap when potatoes are cheap also - 50 cents a lb - so a big win on the budget front.

To determine calories, you must of course base it on what you use.  Your calorie count will vary...


Leeks (3 @54 calories each, 162 calories total)
Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled (18 ounces @ 26 calories per ounce, 468 calories total)
Swanson or Progresso Chicken Broth, low sodium (8 cups, 15 cal per cup, 120 calories total).  Or go with vegetable broth.
1 cup water (free)
salt and pepper to taste (free)
Thyme to taste (free)

Yields 8 cups, so 94 calories per cup with what I used.

Cut the dark green portions of the leeks off, slice in half the long way, then slice fine.  Put in a big pot of water and swish around to get the dirt out of them.  Drain.

Add to big pot and sweat (that is, cook at low to medium heat till they soften).  You don't need oil, butter or anything else.  They will release moisture as they cook down.  Salt with about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper.

Peel and slice potatoes into 1/4 thick slices.  I do it this way because they then cook evenly no matter how big the potato is - every slice cooks at the same speed.

When leeks have gotten soft (10 to 15 minutes), add potatoes, thyme, broth and water.  Cook at medium until potatoes are soft

Put half at a time into a blender, blend till smooth - be careful and put a towel over the blender and don't fill it more than 1/2 way - to much is a good way of blowing the top off, burning yourself and painting the walls with the soup.

When pureed, serve.  Good hot, good cold.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

HMR Lasagna with Meat Sauce - Pump It Up!

The HMR Lasagna with Meat Sauce is fine.  I mean, it's not great, but its ok.

However, it can be so much more....

There are a few things you can add in the no decision phase, for example....

Penzey's Frozen Pizza Seasoning - spices, garlic, it amps it up some

Hot sauce of your preference

and.... not sure what else goes in.

Once you get to add Vegies to your diet....then it can become quite good.

My fave is spinach and mushrooms

Saute the spinach with garlic
Saute the mushrooms with the Penzey's Frozen Pizza Seasoning

Layer with the Lasagna in a microwave dish

Spinach, Mushrooms, Layer of Lasagna, repeat.  Top with Spinach and Mushrooms

Cover and nuke.

Serve with a salad...Pretty good.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

HMR Turkey Chili with Beans - Best HMR Entree?

HMR has about a dozen plus entrees that largely remain the same - they add some, they drop some, but generally there is little change.  Some are good, some ok, all of them are at least edible.  All of them are improved by adding things.

Having said that, I think the Turkey Chili with Beans is the best entree, and certainly better than most packaged chili's.  But it still can stand to be spiffed up some.

Flavors - rule is, must be under 20 calories, or be an HMR product.

HMR Chicken Soup is a good addition to add a little more to the meal.  Makes it more soup than stew, but....

Chili Powder - if you need to amp it up a little.  I recommend Penzeys.  If you just want chili flavor, add some of their chili con carne seasoning (no heat, lots of flavor).  If you need some heat, they have lots of chilis that can bring it.

Chop up and add
  • a jalepeno
  • green or regular onion (keep it under 20 calories!)
  • Some canned green chilis or other peppers
  • Sunday Lunch - with corn, fresh tomato,
    green onion, cilantro, cocoa, coffee, jalepeno
    salsa over power greens.   Really good
  • Cilantro
Fat free sour cream is nice

Salsa is available at this point, as are most hot sauces

PB2 is an interesting addition (hey, don't knock it till you try it)

A half teaspoon of cocoa powder (really!)
A tablespoon of strong coffee (really truly!)

Ingredients - Now we are cooking!

Corn is always a winner
Fresh tomato
More beans (1/2 a cup is one vegetable)
Make a taco salad - serve it over lettuce (with tomato and avocado!)
Sweet potato, butternut squash or even pumpkin (cook ahead of time)
Some people like mushrooms in their chili
Red, green, yellow or orange peppers (or go for others)
Hominy is interesting (or disgusting, depending on your preferences)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Hacking the HMR Vegetarian Thai Curry with Brown Rice

HMR Vegetarian Thai Curry with Brown Rice - Pumping up the Thai

The HMR Veg Thai is ok.  A little spicy, but not too much. They use Gardein as the meat substitute, and it's actually good.  However, the meal is a little boring.  So, what to do.....

Two questions really - what are the options when you are only using HMR products, and what can you do once you add fruit and veg.


Mixing the Thai Curry with a Chicken soup makes it more like the curry you get in a restaurant, which tend to be quite soup like

To pump up the curry, try Green Curry paste - just watch out for calories.  Some pastes are quite low - some are not so low.  I find green curry paste is often the lowest calorie of the red, yellow, etc. types.

Fish Sauce is an added feature, but it can be salty, and the HMR meal has a fair bit of sodium

Some add Soy Sauce, which is a flavor, but see fish sauce.  I usually skip the Soy Sauce

PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter, 85% less fat)  makes an interesting addition (but remember to measure accurately).  Makes it more of a pad thai type meal.  Add it to the chicken soup when you are adding the water.  You may need to add a little more water as it will thicken

Chopped Green Onions - one onion is less than 20 calories, and it adds a little crunch and bite

Cilantro - fresh herbs are always free

Coconut extract (1/4 teaspoon) - I am not a huge fan, but some like it since coconut milk is definitely out, although technically a 1/8th of a cup of lite coconut milk would be about 22 calories.....

Lime - half a fresh lime, squeezed over the heated meal

Splenda Brown Sugar - just 1/2 a teaspoon packed is 10 calories

Garlic powder (rehydrate in the chicken soup)

Minced garlic, although I would probably only use it with vegetables when I stir fry them

Thai Basil

Hot sauce, such as sriracha

Vegetable (and Fruit!) add ins

Things get a whole lot more fun at this point.  I still would mix the meal with the chicken soup as the start, add your choice of flavorings above... then you can think about ...

Red Pepper (or green, orange or yellow), sliced thin and stir fried briefly
Onion, sliced thin and stir fried (no oil remember!)
Snow pea pods stir fried
Sugar Snap Peas, just cooked lightly
Bean Sprouts (no need to cook at all)
Frozen Peas (just add to the soup to warm)
Sweet potato - peeled, then sliced or cubed and cooked just al dente, not mushy
Cauliflower rice!
Cooked sliced carrots (or raw for some crunch)
Peeled, cubed, stir fried eggplant (but don't over cook!)
Birds Eye Chili's - if you like it hot!

HMR Pancakes - official version, and oh so much more

HMR Pancakes, in multiple options

The "official recipe" is good, and fits in with the no decision diet well, so long as you take their advice and make it an occasional item.  I have tweaked both the ingredients and the recipe, and I think it improves on the original.

1 HMR 70 Plus Vanilla Shake
1 HMR Multigrain Hot Cereal
1/8 th Teaspoon Baking Soda (this is less than 1 calorie)
½ cup Water
1 Non-Stick Cooking spray

Method to Madness
  • Mix the Shake with Cereal and Baking Powder.  DON'T Blend both packets in a blender until you have a flour consistency. Instead, use the cereal as is, or just pulse one second the cereal after you have taken out the fruit.  If you are cooking for two, pulse one and leave the other as is.  I think this gives a better texture.  And the baking powder gives the pancakes some lift.
  • Add water until a pancake batter is reached
  • Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes (batter will thicken; add more water if needed)
  • Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray
  • Pour ¼ cup batter for each pancake
  • Cook until bubbles form, pop and stay open, then flip to brown the other side
If your cooking for two, I use three cereals and two 70 plus shake (thus a 1/2 batch is equal to two shakes).  I would also add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for a double recipe.  And of course you have to increase the water amount.  I add about 2 cups, but vary based on thickness.  The mix should be thick.

Once you start adding fruits and vegetables to your HMR diet, things get really interesting

Favorite things we add include:

  • Finely diced apple, not pre-cooked.  I use one apple for a double recipe
  • Blueberries.  1 cup for a double recipe
  • Mashed Banana (mash ripe banana and mix with water, then add to the pancake mix.  1 Banana for a double
  • Zucchini, finely diced (I spiralize, then chop into rice size pieces).  I also do not precook.  Half a zuchini (med) per double recipe
  • Sweet potato, sprilized, chopped and microwaved with a little water until soft (1/2 cup per double)
  • Apple pie or pumpkin pie spice
  • Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (1/2 cup per double
  • Cooked carrot, diced fine or shredded

There are lots of things you can add and stay in the box - get creative and experiment!

This is our Saturday morning breakfast - that's how we keep it "occasional"

And these freeze pretty well - if you wanted to make them as a treat, just reheat in toaster or microwave.  Pretty good a work when others bring in treats or a pot luck - gives you an in the box option.