Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Day of Hunger

Well friends, it's the last day of 2009 and the end of a decade.  As the year ends, I am thinking about my goals for next year.  I decided that New Years resolutions are not enough!  I am making pledges for the new decade- 2010 to 2020!  My optimistic soul wants this to be the last day of hunger.  Since I am blessed with life that is abundant in love and things, I pledge to do my best to help those who are hungry.  I hope you join me in this ambitious goal.  Below are some links to help you get started.  Just click on the pictures and start making this the last day of hunger.  Peace, Laura

Mercy Corps -- Be the Change









Fight World Hunger












Monday, December 28, 2009

Mom's Mash: Chickpea, Eggplant and Tomato Over Rice

Mom made this awesome dish last night.   It's from one of her favorite books- Vegetarian Pleasures.  I went back for thirds, so I know it was a hit.  She made it look ridiculously easy to make.  I'm definitely keeping this recipe in my back pocket for quick get togethers.  It's nice served over rice, but you could also load up a pita or serve over couscous.

Saute in a large pan:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 large onion
2 minced large garlic cloves
1 can large diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes)
1 can drained chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste

Lower heat and simmer until everything is melded and soft.  Garnish with fresh parsley and plain yogurt.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The 7 Foods Experts Won't Eat

Thanks to the several people who sent me this link.  This article discusses foods that food safety experts won't eat.  Truthfully, there are many things I shouldn't have eaten over the past week (holiday gut bombs), but this information is interesting.

The 7 foods experts won't eat

 How healthy (or not) certain foods are—for us, for the environment—is a hotly debated topic among experts and consumers alike, and there are no easy answers. But when Prevention talked to the people at the forefront of food safety and asked them one simple question—“What foods do you avoid?”—we got some pretty interesting answers. Although these foods don’t necessarily make up a "banned” list, as you head into the holidays—and all the grocery shopping that comes with it—their answers are, well, food for thought:
20 ways to feed your family for $100 a week.
1. Canned Tomatoes
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.
14 worst health mistakes even smart women make.
2. Corn-Fed Beef
The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.
25 ridiculously healthy foods you should be eating now.
3. Microwave Popcorn
The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,
The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.
Your nutritional guide to grocery shopping.
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation's most popular vegetable—they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."
The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.
14 ways to make veggies less boring.
5. Farmed Salmon
The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.
The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.
The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.


6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society
The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."
The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
Don’t be fooled by these 11 health food imposters. 
7. Conventional Apples
The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods
The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.
The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.

Source:  http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/the-7-foods-experts-wont-eat-547963/

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gorgeous Gingersnaps




Ginger Snaps!  They are so simple and so tasty!  This is a staple recipe from The Joy of Cooking.  Enjoy these sweet and spicy treats.

Preheat oven to 325F.  Cream in a bowl:

3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Then add:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Drop by the spoonful onto grease cookie sheets.  Bake 12 minutes.  They are delicious warm, but the joy of this recipe is that they are nice and soft when they have cooled.  Dip in tea, coffee or eggnog and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brumous Brussel Sprouts


These little beauties are delicious and great for your health!  My friend swears that most people don't like brussel sprouts for genetic reasons.  She say that brussel sprout lovers have a genetic mutation that makes them taste okay (not bitter).  I consider myself fortunate to have the right DNA to enjoy brussel sprouts.  Here's a nice take on these green gems!

Steam brussel sprouts in a large saucepan with 1/2 inch water until soft.

Stir fry brussel sprouts with a handful of the following:

pumpkin seeds
raisins
chopped walnuts

Put into a serving dish and drizzle with walnut olive.  Savor!

Twinkling Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes


I love stuffed baked potatoes, but I love sweet potatoes even more.  So, I decided to try something new- twice baked sweet potatoes.  It's a little time consuming, but if you plan ahead, it's a doable feat and well worth it.

Scrub large sweet potatoes and poke holes in them.  Bake sweet potatoes at 400F until guts are soft.

Allow to cool and scrape out the guts into a bowl.
Save the skins.
Mash potatoes with milk, salt, pepper, and fresh chives.
Add 4 ounces of soft goat cheese and mix until combined.
Stuff the skins with the mashed potatoes.  Crumble goat cheese onto mashed potatoes.

Broil the potatoes for 5 minutes or until cheese and guts are lightly toasted.  Enjoy this delectable treat!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Comforting Curried Coconut Butternut Squash Soup



Sundays are good for soup!  We had some butternut squash, so I adapted my mother's delicious coconut curried lentil soup to feature butternut squash as the main ingredient.  The secret to this recipe is to pre-cook the squash.

Cut a large butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Microwave in a glass pan with 1/2 inch of water until guts are soft.  Scoop out guts and save.

Saute in a large pot:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add:

butternut squash
1 cup shredded coconut
3 cups of water

Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.  Add 1 cup of coconut milk and juice from 1/2 lemon.  Puree in blender.  Serve topped with cilantro.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gas We Pass



Good news!  We all pass gas.  Not just you!  It's okay and I thought I would share this article about diet and gas.  Being the Chunky Chef, I am well aware that eating whole and healthy can provoke some flatulence.  This article discusses ways to minimize the gas you pass.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Darling Dal

Ever heard of dal?  Dal is the Indian name for any member of the legume family- chickpeas, split peas, beans and lentils.  When you order dal at an Indian restaurant, what you're asking for is spiced or seasoned legumes.  I've made dal about a dozen different ways- depending on the legume available and the ingredients in the house.  Here's Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant's recipe made with mung beans (nice little green legumes).

Soak 1 cup dried legumes overnight.

Saute in a large pot until soft:

1 cup chopped onions

2 dried chiles
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Add:

Legumes
2 cups water (4 cups if you did not overnight soak)

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium.  Simmer until legumes are soft and split and excess water has steamed of.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Serve and Savor!

You can mix it up by adding more vegetables, additional legumes, tomatoes, etc.  I served the dal with rice and eggplant, pepper and greens curry.  Pic in the entry below.

Extraordinary Eggplant, Red Pepper and Greens Curry



 Another hit from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.  Here it is:

Saute in a large pot until soft:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add 16 ounces of greens (spinach, kale, mustard or collards).  Cover and steam until greens are limp.  Stir in 3/4 cup of coconut milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Transylvanian Eggplant Casserole

So, I was cruising the cookbook section at Half Price Books and found a copy of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.  Moosewood Restaurant is in Ithaca, NY and is a well known vegetarian restaurant.  Sunday night is "ethnic night" and this cookbook offers some of the favorite ethnic recipes from the restaurant.

Last night, we made this tasty Eggplant Mushroom Casserole and it was amazing!


Cook 2 cups of brown rice.  Combine rice with the following:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped pine nuts (we substituted almonds)

Cut 2 eggplants into rounds, salt them lightly and bake at 400F tender, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.  Take them out and lower the oven to 350F.

Saute in a large pan until soft:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups sliced mushrooms
4 fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons marjoram
3/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Assemble casserole in the follow manner:

rice layer
eggplant layer
vegetable layer
Repeat

Pour 4 beaten eggs over the casserole.  Top the casserole with the following mixture:

1/2 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup chopped pinenuts (or almonds)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bake the casserole covered at 350F for 3 minutes.  Serve garnished with bell peppers, parsley or Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hello Little Lemons


Yeah!  I grew lemons.  This is our first little harvest.  I planted this lemon tree back in May 2009.  At the time, it had some blossoms on it.  I've been nurturing her carefully and now I have lemons.  What am I going to do with these beautiful babies?  I'll think of something and post this weekend.

Have you grown anything this year?  It's not too hard- just find out what grows well in your area and plant.  It's fun to watch your plants grow and produce fruit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dashing Dhosas!


Today was an exciting day at our house!  I made Dhosas for the first time.  Dhosas are Indian crepes from the southern part of Indian.  They are made from beans, rice, or chickpeas.  They are delicious when made fresh at restaurants, but I cheated and used the mix from the Indian store.  I mixed the powder with water, added salt and fresh garlic and blended to a watery consistency.

Here's the stuffing recipe:

Saute in a large pan until vegetables are soft:

2 large carrots
1/2 large onion
2 mashed garlic cloves
1 large or 2 small hot peppers
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon tumeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Add and cook until soft:

2 russet potatoes (pre-baked in the microwave)
1 cup peas
1 large tomato
1/4 cup water
handful fresh cilantro

Serve warm mixture wrapped in dhosa.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Silly Spaghetti Squash


 I love the intrigue of spaghetti squash!  It's a vegetable, but when scooped out, it looks like noodles.  You can do a lot of things with it, but I like it nice and simple.  I serve it up like plain noodles, pair it with some veggies and enjoy it.

Cut squash in half.  Cook in a glass pan with 1/2 inch water until guts are soft.  Scoop out guts.  Mix with fresh Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Savor!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Recovery

The problem with Thanksgiving indulgence is that is seems to extend way beyond Thanksgiving Day.  I have been eating like crazy for 5 days!  Really, I ate chocolate cookies for breakfast on Saturday and strawberry cheesecake for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Even the dog overindulged!!  It's time to get my nutrition sorted out before we start again for Christmas.  I stumbled across this article the other day and thought it has some good advice.  Good luck to all!




Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oh My Gosh- I Am In Love With These Chocolate Cookies



I confess- I am a complete addict to these chewy chocolate cookies.  There is no comparison.  I found this recipe in the NY Magazine website.  I made two small modifications:  I substituted pecans and I reduced the vanilla.  They are so good that we made a batch yesterday, ate them all and made another batch today.  Yum!

Here's my version.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Trust me, this step is necessary or you'll lose half your cookies on the baking sheets.

Mix together:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt

Once mixed, drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Bake 14 minutes.  Cookies will be shiny on the outside and chewy on the inside.  Enjoy!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Open Your Eyes Oatmeal


On chilly mornings, it's nice to start your day with a hot, healthy breakfast.  I love oatmeal!!  It's nutritious and so versatile.  Just prepare the old fashioned oatmeal according to the following:  2 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of dry oats.  Then add an fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.  Here's today's version:

Oats
Wheat bran
Pumpkin seeds
Flax seeds
Sesame seeds
Raisins
Apples
Almonds
Cinnamon

Cook and serve.  You can sweetened with a little bit of honey, maple syrup or agave nectar.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crazy Cranberry Polenta

Here's a twist on Thanksgiving cranberry and cornbread dishes as adapted from The New York Times.  I like it best as a dessert.

Boil 4 cups of water.
Add 1 cup cornmeal.

Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Stir in one cup of fresh cranberries.  Press into a glass dish.  Chill into refrigerator until firm.  Slice and serve drizzled with agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amazing Apple Pumpkin Sweet Potato Puree

I found this recipe on the New York Times website and it looked tasty and healthy.  And it is!  Here is my version of this yummy Thanksgiving dish.

Microwave in a glass bowl with one inch water until soft:

1 pound peeled sweet potatoes
1 pound fresh pumpkin (with seeds scraped out)
2 large cored apples

Scoop out pumpkin guts.  Combine all ingredients in a food processors and add:

1 tablespoon walnut oil
2 ounces goat cheese

Puree until blended and soft.  Turn into a glass baking pan.  Sprinkle with pecans and goat cheese.  Bake at 350F until warmed through.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stuffed Acorn Squash: Suburban Spoon Scores Again

So, my fellow blogger buddy, Suburban Spoon, posted this great recipe about a month ago on Meatless Monday.  You can find the recipe here:  http://suburban-spoon.blogspot.com/2009/10/meatless-monday-stuffed-acorn-squash.html.

I was inspired!  Here's my version.  Thanks Sara.




Cut an acorn squash in half.  Microwave in a glass pan with an inch of water until guts are soft.

Saute in a pan with safflower oil:

1/3 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup chopped apple

Stuff acorn with the rice mixture.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Terrific Tapioca Pudding

You might have noticed that bubble tea has been the rage for the last years.  Those mysterious, scrumptious tea "pearls" are tapioca!  Tapioca originally derives from Brazil, but is now found all over the world, especially in Southeast Asia.  Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root and is sold as powder, flakes, meal or "pearls."  It is gluten free, protein free and often used as a thickening agent.  When I was a kid, all I ever knew about tapioca was that it was sold in those pre-made pudding cups and those were yucky!

A couple of years ago, I started making my own tapioca pudding and discovered that it is divine!  You can find tapioca pearls in most grocery stores and especially in Asian and Indian shops.  This recipe is super simple, scrumptious, great for guests and can be served warm or cold.




You can prep the pearls the night before or cook them the same day in with the rest of the ingredients.  I like to prep the night before so I have less chance of burning the pudding.

Place in a jar, close the lid and let sit overnight:

1/2 cup tapioca pearls
water to cover the pearls

Drain excess liquid and combine in a pan:

tapioca pearls
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or sugar)
1/4 teaspooon vanilla extract

Slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn heat to low, simmer until pearls are soft and milk is a little bit thickened.  Garnish with fruits, seeds, nuts, coconut, etc.  Serve and savor!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Angry Moms




Recently, I read about filmmaker Amy Kafala's movement to reform our schools' cafeterias.  She was trying to teach her children about healthy food choices and nutritious meals but was being undermined by the school cafeteria's daily offerings of junk food to children.  Amy and activist Susan Rubin started the Angry Moms movement to bring more healthy food into school cafeterias and they documented their efforts in the film Two Angry Moms.  

I love this idea!  Everyday, I counsel families on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, only to be disappointed to hear about what the school cafeteria serves.  So, if you would like the schools to offer healthy foods and teach our children about healthy eating, check out the Angry Moms website at www.angrymoms.org.  This website has nutritional information, hints for healthy lunch boxes, and healthy kids facts.  If you are really motivated, you can obtain a copy of the movie and host a screening in your neighborhood.

So, let's get started on reforming our schools cafeterias and helping our kids grow up healthy!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lovely Lentil Rice Soup



According to my friend, Janette, lentils are the new super food.  I always knew they were tasty, full of protein and fiber, but she read about their anti-cancer properties.  So, there is one more great reason to eat lentils.  And did you know that there are dozens of different types of lentils?  This is my staple lentil soup recipe and I like it because it can easily be embellished or is comforting on its own.  So, curl up with a nice hot cup of lentil soup.

Saute in a large soup pot:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots
2 leeks
1 onion
2 garlic cloves

Add:

1 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 teaspoons dill
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups of water

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve it up!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ballyhoo Banana Curry



Bananas are a tropical fruit and you make think they are out of season, but not in crazy Houston!  I picked these bananas from my father's banana tree.  Since these are home-grown, I decided they deserved a special recipe, so I invented this curry.  It is a surprisingly nice combination of sweet, salty and spicy.  I hope you enjoy it.


Sautee in a large pan:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 small hot peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add 1/2 cup water and 3 to 4 very ripe bananas.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Simmer 20 minutes, then add fresh or frozen peas.  Simmer until peas are soft.  Serve over rice and garnish with coconut.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Kind Diet


I'm in love with my new food book, The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone.  I know what you're thinking-  she's that California actress who probably doesn't eat and is best known for being Clueless.  So not the case!  Alicia follows a vegan, macrobiotic diet and focuses on happy, healthy eating.  It's a well-written book with thoughts on life, nutrition, the environment and with great recipes.  The book is not judgmental or critical, it is inspiring and motivational. 

I recently made the Lentil Sweet Potato stew that was tasty and comforting.  So, check out the book at your local library or book store and be inspired!

Here's a nice article from The Daily Green on Alicia and The Kind Diet.

6 Principles of Alicia Silverstone's 'Kind Diet':  She's beautiful. She's healthy. She's happy.... And this is how she does it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hooray for Hummus

Hummus has become the "It" food over the last few years.  Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas.  It is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and is good for you:  hummus is rich in iron, vitamin c, folate and vitamin B6.  Pre-made hummus is abundant in stores, but I like to make my own- it's cheaper and contains only the raw ingredients. 

Combine in a food processor:

2 cups of cooked or canned chickpeas (garbanzos)
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste- can be optional)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Puree into a medium paste.  You may add water to achieve desired consistency.  Garnish with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika or parsley.  Serve in wraps, on chips, crackers, tortillas, on bread or even on a salad.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shopping Spree at the India Grocers

To celebrate the end of the Eat Down, I went on a mini-shopping spree at the India Grocers.  I love shopping at ethnically different grocery stores- the different colored foods, the smells, the foreign names are fun and fascinating to me.  Here are today's finds:  lentils including Moong, Masoor, Urad, tapioca pearls, ganesh papad (Indian tortillas), Dhosa mix (lentil pancakes), garbanzos, tumeric and snacks.

If you have an ethnic grocery store in your area, check it out and try some new foods.  Don't be afraid to ask questions, most people like to share their cultures and foods with you.  So, get out there!

Update on the Eat Down

Whew!  As you may remember, I embarked on an EAT DOWN two months ago.  As far as eat downs go, this has been the longest in my history.  Perhaps I have been storing food for the apocalypse.  Thankfully, it's done.  I'm out of brown rice, couscous, lentils, millet, quinoa, cereal, chips, crackers and most canned foods.   It was good to get the pantry cleaned out and to be creative with the recipes.  Now, I have the fun of restocking the pantry.  This time I am going to build up the pantry with more whole grains, legumes and less processed foods.  I consider it a chance to start again a little healthier.

Have you done an Eat Down yet?  Give it a try!  You'll be surprised at how creative you can be.  Then, build up a little healthier.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zoom Zoom Zoom Zucchini Pancakes



It's a simple recipe and they're delicious as breakfast or dinner pancakes.  They're sort of like potato pancakes, but lighter.  Serve them with fruit, sour cream goat cheese or whatever you like!

1 pound zucchini
1 egg
1/2 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper

Puree in food processor.  Cook on medium-high heat.  These are pretty wet, so let them stay on one side for a really long time before you flip them.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm a Quitter



About two months ago, I took the plunge:
I quit soft drinks.  And I feel great.

I used to get this weird high from drinking a liter of diet soda.  And then came the crash.  I knew that I didn't need the caffeine and the artificial sweeteners couldn't be good for me.  And what about my bones?  I was spending money on a product that was weakening my bones!!!

Oh, I was contributing to environmental detriment:  production, transportation and disposal of a unnecessary product.

What Soft Drinks Are Doing to Your Body

It's good to be a quitter!  So check out this article about soft drinks and start spending your money on something that's good for you.

Photo from:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/hannah_riedel/2439421459/

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Buzzworthy Butternut Squash Soup


I love fall's comfort vegetables and I can't think of a more flexible vegetable that butternut squash.  It is delicious as a dessert, soup, spicy curry, mellow pasta topping or alone with a drizzle of walnut oil.   This recipe is adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

Combine in a large soup pot:

2 cups chopped and peeled butternut squash
1 large honeycrisp apple
2 large carrots
1 large yellow onion
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinammon
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Cover vegetables with water.  Broil to a boil, then simmer on low until all vegetables are soft.  Puree in a blender  Salt and pepper to taste.  Delicious garnished with chopped chives, green onions or cilantro.  Savor with your favorite rice and green vegetable.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Little Word on Soups

Soups are the ultimate busy person's food because they mostly cook themselves, they reheat well and they freeze great.  I love to make soups because it is so easy to get creative with whatever is in the pantry and fridge. 

Some soup staple vegetables:

carrot
onion
garlic
celery
leeks
tomato
any type of squash
potato (all types)
apples

Some pantry soup staples:

rice
beans
lentils
breadcrumbs
sea salt
pepper

Equipment:

large chopping knife
chopping board
large pot
blender
wooden spoon

So dig in that pantry or fridge and throw some stuff in a pot and get cooking!  Don't be afraid to experiment and get creative.  Anyone can make soup, so get started!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Put These in Your Mouth- Portobello Mushrooms

Have you tried cooking portobello mushrooms?  They are the large mature mushrooms that contain vitamins B and D, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and anti-cancer properties.  I love them because they are juicy, satisfying and can be substituted for meat easily.

If you're new to portobellos, give this spicy recipe a try.  You can almost always find portobelllos at the farmers market.  Savor!

To make marinade, combine in a jar and shake until mixed:

1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons honey (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Place two large portobello heads and 1 chopped onion in a plastic sealable container.  Pour marinade over mushrooms.  Let marinate 30 minutes, shake once or twice while marinating.

Heat oven to 425F. Bake mushrooms and onions in a glass pan until mushrooms are soft but browned outside.  Serve with your favorite rice (or grain) and vegetables.






Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OH, SNAP! Try these delicious peas.

This is a tasty snack or yummy complement to any meal.  Get ready for this awesome, easy vegetable treat.

Heat a non stick saucepan.

Throw in a handful of fresh snap peas.
Sprinkle tumeric, sea salt and black pepper over them. 
Sprinkle with some water (1 to 2 tablespoons) to make steam.
Stir fry until the outsides are just a little crisp.

Enjoy.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Have You Met Mochi?




I have an incurable sweet tooth and I realize I can't live on cake, cookies, candy bars and junk food most of the time.  A couple of years ago, I discovered sweet, satisfying mochi.  You might know mochi from the delicious mochi ice cream served at japanese restaurants.  Mochi is brown rice pounded into a rice cake.  You can buy it pre-made in sheets or you can be really adventurous and make your own.

What do you do with Mochi?  Here's a few suggestions:

  • Bake small cubes of it and serve with butter or honey almost like petit fours.
  • Stir fry cubes of it with apples, raisins, nuts and eat like a pudding.
  • Cut into strips, arrange in the waffle iron and cook until puffed up.  Serve the waffle with fruit, nuts and syrup.
  • Bake cubes in the oven at 450F for 8 to 10 minutes until puffed up.  Garnish as you like.

Mochi is delicious because it is sweet in a mellow way, crispy on the outside and warm and gooey inside.  It comes in original flavor or delicious flavors like cinnamon raisin.

If you are extra adventurous, you can make your own mochi.

Cook:

2 cups sweet brown rice
2 1/8 cups water

Once rice has cooked and is soft, turn into a large bowl.  Pound the rice until it gets soft, like taffy.  You can press on a cookie sheet into sheets, let them harden and then store in the refrigerator as sheets or you can cook right away like cookies.

So, branch out and meet your new friend Mochi.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Green Is Tofu?

This article caught my attention and I learned something new about soy and tofu.  I'm not much of a tofu fan, but I have been known to indulge in edamame (soybeans) or tempeh (soy cake) every now and then.  I've often wondered about the environmental impact of soy- wondering if some rainforest was being flattened for my edamame snack.  Well, this article is a brief overview, but it answers the basic questions. 

So, give this a read before you bite into that Boca Burger.  Perhaps, the goal is not to find a synthetic meat substitute, but to eat natural protein sources like legumes and rice, nuts, etc.  Just some food for thought....





Photo from Huffington Post

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feisty Feta with Roasted Veg



This is a savory Greek recipe adapted from Relish Magazine.  It's a little trickier than most of my recipes, but it's so worth it. 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Roast in a glass pan:

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow (or orange) bell pepper
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
drizzle of olive oil
salt
black pepper

Roast until vegetables are soft inside and crispy outside.

Combine in bowl with:

1 tablespoon capers
24 olives (blend of black and green is nice)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh dill

Now, here's the tricky part.  Make sure the oven is now on BROIL and ready to broil.  If it's still warm from the peppers, but not ready to broil you will just melt the feta and make a mess.  Trust me, toasted feta is worth it.

Crumble 8 ounces of feta cheese on a baking sheet.   Broil until bubbly and lightly browned- about 2 minutes.

Toss cheese with the vegetables.  Enjoy on couscous, corn tortillas or pita bread.  Smile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall in Love with This Pudding


Here's a fall version of Righteous Rice Pudding.  You can use your favorite fall squash or root in this pudding such sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash or pumpkin.  Dress it up with ice cream, custard, vanilla yogurt or cream.

Cook:

1 cup brown rice (I like short grain)
1 1/2 cups water

Combine in saucepan:

cooked rice
2 cups milk
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 pecans
1 cup chopped winter squash
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring to a boil, then turn to low.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Savor and enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ready Set Eat Roasted Vegetables



This is one of my favorite easy dinner recipes.  Peppers are the staple of this dish, but you can easily add any other vegetables to the roasting pan.  Roasted vegetables are delicious served over rice, couscous, quinoa and in tortillas.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine in a large glass pan:

Peppers
Whole garlic cloves
Salt
Pepper
1 cup of water

Suggested other vegetables:  eggplant (shown here), squash, tomatoes, onions, green onions and mushrooms.

Cook until vegetables are soft with crisp outsides.

Quickee Quinoa




If you aren't already friends with quinoa, get ready to love this superfood!  Quinoa is a grain from the Andes and has long been appreciated in South America for its high nutritional value.  Its protein content is very high (12%–18%),  it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, it is high in fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.  It's also gluten free and easy to digest.

Most importantly, quinoa works well in so many dishes.  I like it as a breakfast cereal, salad topper, rice alternative, casserole bulker,  main coarse item and stuffing staple.  I like to make up a batch and store in the fridge for cooking.  You can find quinoa in the bulk section of the market.  It's easy to make and delicious to eat.  Cook quinoa like rice using 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water.  Just make sure to rinse before cooking to avoid a bitter taste.

Here's my combination for a quick and delicious breakfast:

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 chopped pear or apple
handful of whole almonds
handful of raisins
handful of flax seeds
splash of vanilla soy milk

Heat one minute in the microwave.  Enjoy!