Thursday, November 27, 2008

Feast Fit for a Vegetarian King!

Wishing Everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! I started cooking some of the food for today's meal yesterday. My very first time making cranberry sauce from scratch! It was much easier than I thought and so very good! Definitely a success with the family. The only thing that I didn't make from scratch was the tofurky... No one in my family has ever liked it before. Today, it only lasted about 2 minutes on the table and there is not one bit of it leftover for tomorrow. (sigh) These mashed potatoes were to die for! Hurray! I loaded them with chives and they were delicious. Of course they were the spuds that we dug up in October.... I hope you didn't miss out of this great sale from Zach's boy scout troop.... These taters are the best!!! Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete to me without the corn pudding. I replaced the white sugar with sucanat, it worked out great and the corn pudding was delicious!
This was a brand new recipe to me. I took it right off the cover of vegetarian times! It was loaded with mushrooms, red peppers(the ones I didn't eat while cooking) and believe it or not I put mushrooms in it too! pretty good... I also made stuffing(although it wasn't stuffed into anything) made with whole grain bread, apples, walnuts, some seasonings and fresh apple juice. I forgot to upload a photo sorry... No Thanksgiving is complete without dessert, this one was crisp made with apples (of course) oats, spelt flour, a bit of butter and sucanat.. This was fabulous. I haven't had any dessert in a LONG time, but I justified it being that I went to the gym and did an hour and half aerobics class this morning! Our Y does it every year, admission is non-perishable food item... What a killer workout... Ariana gives dinner the thumbs up!!! Dasher is enjoying the fire today, the first time we have lit it this season! Boys will be boys! What more can I say.... may not want to enlarge this photo ;) No Thanksgiving is complete without turkey, so here's ours. Ariana made it at school and he is cute and patriotic, no antibiotics, hormones and well he's free range too!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vegetables In The Winter?!?!

When I first moved to upstate NY from WA State, it was such a change in terms of buying produce. Since we arrived in August, the shock wasn't so apparent until the winter months. My favorite produce/farm stand closed down in December. That's when reality set in. What am I going to eat???

This is when I really started focusing on learning even more about nutrition. Hence the addition of this ol' mom going back to school. I digress. I started learning that sometimes us Americans have gotten so far away from nature, that even in our eating patterns we have really done ourselves a disservice. What do I mean?

Aside from the fact that many of our very own children don't have a clue about where food comes from besides Price Chopper/Albertsons/Safeway, some children are even mortified by the fact that their food grew in the dirt, and maybe even had bugs on it(Vitamin B-12- another post). How did we get to this point? It is just too easy to go into the store and pick up the first box with pretty writing that says 'All Natural' if it was truly all natural would it be in a box? So many people say, I can't afford to buy vegetables right now. Why? We are programed that we are supposed to eat salad EVERY day to be healthy, truth be known that spinach doesn't grow in upstate NY in the winter. So What do I do? Of course out of season vegetables are going to be more expensive when they are out of season. Ever tried to buy a watermelon in February? Not only is it expensive but it is not tasty, nor did it retain it's nutrients for the thousands of miles it's traveled. So why buy it?

Winter has its own vegetables that grow, harvest season by nature is in October! This is when SO many of our fabulous winter vegetables are ready to be eaten. Nature is an amazing thing and we should all spend more time thinking about how much we have deviated from this and how to get back to it. It's amazing because, I went to visit a local farm a few weeks ago and stocked up so now in my basement (used to be known as a root cellar because that is where all root veggies were stored for the winter) I have spaghetti squash, delicata squash, acorn squash butternut squash and about 70 lbs of fresh local grown spuds! This is where most of my winter meals will come from! When bought in season these vegetables are cheap and are in their best nutritious state! Ever bought a pumpkin in May? Of course not, this is because you can't get them. This is the thought process we should have for MOST veggies. Sadly most of us don't.

I have to admit that I have struggled with this myself. More last winter than I will this one. It doesn't mean that I wont miss my cucumbers, it will mean I will love them that much more next summer. I can't say that I will never eat them all winter. I will spend more time focusing on what's available and in season, knowing that all my favorites are coming back next year and they will taste even better.

The reason that winter vegetables and fruits cycle is amazing. In the summer when it's hot we need more water, we do not necessarily drink all we need, so nature has provided us with high water content foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and berries. In the winter when we need warmth, although the media would disagree, we would naturally need more insulation hence heavier foods that may even put a few pounds on us. This is a natural process for humans that goes way back. We didn't used to gain weight from Christmas cookies so please don't get confused with that. This winter, try to stick to warming soups and chilli's that use produce in season or closer to it. Not only will your health notice but so will your checkbook. If you must splurge once in awhile do it, but just remember it is not your only option.

Changing our thinking is hard, however, we can do this in a slow process and be successful in it. The rewards will be there, in every way. I am looking forward to sharing more great winter recipes with all of you! We can eat our veggies in the winter. Fruits too.

PS: I am practically living off of apples right now, I can't even express how grateful I am to be living in a such a place that is so full of delicious apples!! Yummy!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Finally Here...

The recipe and review of the Black Bean Burger! I am thrilled to be able to kick one more processed food off my grocery list, with the successful making of this black bean burger recipe. I have been eating the Morning Star Farms ones, much less than I used to, but keeping them around for days when I need a quick meal. No more, I am planning on making a large batch of these to freeze for busy days. Really they were so easy to make and all the ingredients were things I keep in the house. I only had to make my bread crumbs....

This recipe is from Veganomicon Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen.
Are you ready??

Black Bean Burgers

2 Cups cooked Black beans or 15 oz can drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 plain whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp chile powder (or more if you like more spice, I will add more next time)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
1 T tomato paste (or ketchup)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional, I did not use it)
2 cloves of garlic (or all the garlic you own)
1/2 small onion
@ 2 tablespoons olive oil plus olive oil spray (I did not use spray, I had no problems browning on both sides)
Whole Wheat Buns ( I made mine from Tam's Best Yet Whole Wheat Bread)

Mash the beans in a mixing bowl, don't puree them just mash till no whole beans were left. ( I still left a few and mashing will help the burgers stay together) Add Wheat Gluten, Bread Crumbs, chile Powder, cumin, water, and tomato paste (cilantro if using) don't mix yet... use a micro plane grater of garlic press and add garlic, do the same with onion, I actually just finely diced the onion. Mix together with a fork, then proceed to knead until the mixture is completely mixed and firm.

Preheat skillet with oil. Divide mixture into six balls and proceed to cook, a few at a time as you need to really flatten them out so they will cook all the way through. Press with a spatula while cooking, turn to brown both sides. The patties will be firm when finished.

I suppose that you could really get creative with the seasoning, of these burgers and season any style you liked. They were simple to make and we just added some veggies and fruit and had a complete meal.

I would love to know what you all think.

Veganomicon is quickly become my favorite cookbook. I have only had it for a few weeks now. I had a 40% off coupon for borders and I am so glad that I brought it home. I have tried 3 or 4 recipes from it all a success so far, eaten by the whole family. Nothing is better than a meal that passes by all 5 of us!

* Just a hint I use when cooking, I will make notes in my cookbooks after making a recipe for the first time, what I would like to do to make the recipe better, tastier, mistakes I made etc. I really helps. Sometimes I will just write Dud.... if we didn't like it at all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eat This.....

I have not posted much, does wanting to post count? I have in the midst of lots going on, felt a strong need to have healthy whole foods to supplement healing and stress reduction. Yes I strongly believe that immunity to disease(physical and emotional) comes from what you put in your body. So I will say it again, You are What You Eat. (for the most part)

Here's a great soup recipe It's delicious, easy and vegan, and I just can't stop thinking about and in the matter of fact, I am going to make it again this week... Not to mention those yummy spuds that I have in abundance and need to eat.

Corn and Potato Chowder

2 TBS Vegetable Oil (I think I used coconut oil)
2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 medium onion
1 leek (white part only, saved the rest for broth)
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen, or cut from 4 cobs, wouldn't that be yummy)
2 medium russet potatoes (I used our eastern whites, might be fun to try with yams too)
5 cups rich vegetable broth
2TBS chopped fresh basil or 2 t dried
1 t chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 t dried
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot over medium heat, warm the oil, add carrots, celery, onion, and leek, stirring until soft. (10 min)

Add the corn, potatoes, broth, thyme and basil. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is reduced to just cover the ingredients (I admit I didn't pay much attention to this part, and I added a bit of garlic too)

In batches transfer into the blender and blend, I only blended a portion of it (maybe half) as I really like more texture to my soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy...

*This recipe if from The Big Book of Vegetarian by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley (here)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jumping off the Rollar Coaster of Life...

I can not express how busy life has been, the one thing that I can be very grateful for these days is that my self care habits have really made a difference. What do I mean, well eating and exercise of course. Along with good old healthy stress reduction methods(yoga and meditation, plus exercise) For the last few weeks, I have had to be put into a roll of taking care of everyone and carrying the load for my husband as well. This is no easy task for a family as busy as ours. I can only say that I did, maybe not so gracefully but I did it just the same. Perhaps the rollar coaster ride is stopping and normal life can resume (if there is such a thing as normal)

On top of it all, I finished a very challenging class, Physiology and Anatomy of the Digestive Process, I learned more than one would really ever imagine about intestinal function, balance and yes microbes (otherwise known as intestinal bugs, bacteria, microflora etc....) I have been ruined for life in eating fast without chewing my food fully and I guess that is just ok by me! I feel even better than I did before.

I just got off the phone with my sister and it's been awhile since we have really talked, I always feel so good after a conversation like this because so many people don't feel the way I do about food, or really get it, Denise does. How many people are excited to hear about what you are storing in your pantry and how you are preparing food, and how it makes you feel? I guess that is why I come here, because many of you (not that there are that many of you) feel the same way, and I need to connect with others out there.

In the mist of family chaos, I have managed to maintain healthy whole foods in my diet. Yeah! Not an easy task being I barely sat in my own house. I have tried many new recipes, most have been a total success. My favorite is a vegan corn and potato chowder. I will share that info soon as I really feel like everyone should try it at least once! I really can't stop thinking about it, and being that I have 70 lbs of potatoes I must use them up. Remember the pototoes we dug up with the scouts. Well they are SOOOO good I don't think I could ever buy another store potato again! I have made SO many recipes with them. Veganomicon is filled with little markers of recipes to try.

I haven't made it to the gym much, but I am happy to report that I am back on schedule this past week. My gym added indoor cycling and that is fabulous. I just love it. I am hoping in the next few weeks to regain my regular routine of school, gym, and cooking during the day and find myself having a good time with the family in the evenings. I have been knitting a yoga mat bag ,that will be felted, and I am really happy with how it is turning out. I am finishing up the strap now and I will post photos of it, before and after felting. I find knitting to be very mediative and relaxing and even if I am watching tv and such in the evenings, I feel that I am being productive as well.

What has everyone else been up too?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catching Up!

Here's the kids on Halloween. One of the last stops on our block for trick or treating...
Zach dressed as Zorro.
Ariana dressed on Halloween, She was the flag pole with Betsy Ross' 13 star flag, notice the eagle on her head. She really cracks me up! Watch out bad guys the Green Arrow is on the street. It's Nikolas!