Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rainbow Salad

Tonight I made a lovely salad. Most times, salad isn't my first pick if I'm making dinner at home. Tomato, cucumber and spinach just doesn't sound satisfying. I'd rather have a hot meal w gooey sauce and a piece of toasted artisan bread. But tonight was different. Eric and I are going on a five-day trip and I wanted to use up some produce I had in the fridge, I was inspired to eat more raw foods because of a raw vegan foods cooking demonstration we went to. ...And I didn't want to dirty my kitchen.

From left to right:
Orange segments, lime wedges, spiced raw pepitas, avocado, purple carrots, garbanzo beans and fennel.

So I chopped up some vegetables, used the garbanzo beans I cooked the other day, topped w some raw pumpkin seeds and butter-free popcorn Eric popped. I also added some roasted butternut squash leftovers. Toss with 1 spoonful of Bragg Ginger & Sesame salad dressing and voila! Look at all of that color! These live foods really are magic. My skin glows, I feel gutbomb-less, and I'm happy. I'm actually happy. 

Happy chewing!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Years Resolutions Update, plus Vegan Pesto!

The 2012 New Year's resolutions are not a flop! I'm pretty proud of myself, because I always fail at the NYRs. I have been really good at purchasing dry goods from the bins, increasing my fiber intake, and eating more vegetarian meals, still not eating out as much, etc. Now, most of my meals are plant-based (not mac n' cheese, doritos, french fries) and dairy-free.

I've also incorporated some other practices:
- Drink 1 T. Bragg's apple cider vinegar with a glass of water before/after meals
- Fresh, green juice every morning (more on that later)
- Less Diet Coke!
- At least one green salad a day
- Snack of an apple/orange a day

Bottom-line: I feel so much better! Seriously. Sooo much better. I don't crave Diet Coke like I used to, my brain fog isn't as apparent, I feel lighter in my gut, my skin is really clearing up. I feel so good. I have a ways to go and there is always room for improvement, but my small steps of Healthy Living is making it easier everyday. I think my health issues have been a blessing in disguise because I'm healthier for it. I want to heal myself by the food I eat, and I see a difference so far. My health is the catalyst for my healthful eating.

So onto something tasty: I made this vegan pesto tonight. I adapted the Vegan Pesto recipe from the Whole Foods app. It's so delicious, I think it tastes better than the classic pesto recipe with parmesan cheese.

Vegan Pesto

1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
1/2 c. walnuts
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 packed c. basil leaves
1 packed c. kale - roughly chopped
5 t. mellow white miso
3/4 c. silken tofu (approx. half a package)
2 T. Bragg's nutritional yeast
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. black pepper
Juice from 1/2 lemon

In a food processor, blitz the nuts. Add the garlic and blitz again. One cup at a time, add the basil/kale to the food processor. After all of those ingredients are incorporated, add the miso, tofu, nutritional yeast and S&P. Pulse until creamy. Add the lemon juice. You can put the pesto on top of vegetables, pasta, quinoa, a baked potato, etc. Possibilities are endless!

I mixed a heaping spoonful of the pesto onto cucumber slices and tomato wedges.  I lightly wilted some spinach in a saucepan, and cooked some quinoa in a separate pan. I poured the spinach into the fluffy quiona and a couple of dashes of Bragg's amino acids (salt replacement, like soy sauce). I squeezed the other half of the lemon onto my dinner. The dish was light and vibrant-tasting, but still really satisfying. This would be a perfect dish for summertime.

This also makes great leftovers for lunches! I also sprinkled the leftovers with raw chia seeds, which are full of fiber and calcium. This meal was filled with calcium, protein, fiber, lycopene (Steph, are you reading this?!).. so much nutrition.

Apple Cinnamon Scones

Hi, it's Me! This month year has been kind of stressful for me. Nothing catastrophic, which is a great thing... but blogging has fell to the wayside, once again. I made some very tasty scones for my sweetheart. And our wonderful neighbor, John got some too. He is so lucky to have me for a neighbor. So I love scones. Eating a scone whilst drinking some tea and reading is one of my favorite things to do. I don't do it that often though, so I need to step it up a notch and partake in some of the things I enjoy.

I picked up the February issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine (I rarely buy magazines anymore, so this was another treat for me!), and lo and behold --- a SCONE article! I picked the healthiest recipe of all the scone recipes and they were delicious.  This recipe also noted that because of the oat and apples, this recipe was high in fiber. Bonus!

Apple & Oat Scones with Cinnamon & Nutmeg
February 2012 Issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

1-2/3 c. all-purpose flous, plus more for rolling
1-1/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping
1/4 c. plus 2 T. light brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 c. diced Granny Smith apples (2 apples peeled, cut into generous 1/4-inch cubes)
2/3 c. cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
Sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers (I used my fingers because I don't have a pastry blender). The largest pieces should be the size of small peas. With your fingertips, flatten butter pieces into small disks. Add apples and buttermilk, stirring until dough just comes together.

2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle, and cut into twelve 2"x2" squares with a floured knife. Place about 2" apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with sugar and oats. Bake until golden brown, 20-22 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Scones keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 day.)

We celebrated our 4-month wedding "anniversary" snacking on scones at the Phoenix Open. Happy days are here to stay.  <3

UPDATE: I have adjusted my diet to exclude dairy. I'll have to attempt this recipe again, sans dairy and report back the results and new recipe. Regardless, this recipe tastes great and I would recommend it to anyone who eats dairy. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Feelin' Good & Fiber Friday: Downward Facing Dog

Feelin' Good: I went to yoga today! Sad to say, it was my second "practice" since being married. I had an amazing yoga practice today though. I walked in feeling defeated from a very crummy day, had a mini emotional breakthrough (anyone else experience this in yoga?), and left feeling like there was some wind in my sails. I was also proud of myself for actually going to yoga instead of dunking my emotions in honey mustard and watching Mad Men reruns from 4-9pm while my husband coached a soccer game. If you are truly upset about something, I encourage you to not wallow in your sorrow in your bed and watch tv. Engaging in a physical activity, whether it's a walk, going to the gym, yoga, even some deep cleaning, is purifying.

Fiber Friday: Quinoa is a high-fiber grain, and lentils are high in fiber (as are all legumes), so my dinner consisted of quinoa and lentils with some fresh ginger, sauteed bell pepper and fresh cilantro. I put the quinoa/lentil mixture on top of sliced cabbage and added some roasted sweet potato. #fiberinsanity

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I'd love to hear what has made you feel better when you've had a crummy day. I'm going to end the day with some herbal relaxation tea, Easy Now. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolutions!

Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve! My brother-in-law gave me two amazing cookbooks (blog post coming soon!), so E and I stayed home on New Year's Eve and I made a very sophisticated chicken and dumplings soup, and watched 30 Rock episodes. Wild, right?

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year's Eve. I hate NYE because it's amateur night and everyone and their dog is out, but I love NYE because I like starting the new year off fresh and creating New Year's resolutions. Some people don't make resolutions because they're afraid of failing. But you can't fail if you don't try. Who's with me?! Anybody? (crickets better not be chirping). Sure, I have the overall goal like most to be Healthier, Happier and Wealthier in 2012, but I won't be able to achieve it if I don't know have specific goals to focus on which will allow me to achieve my goal to be a smiling, rich girl. ;)

This is a cooking blog, so I will stick w my food-related goals on this blog. :)


1. Increase my daily fiber intake! Not very exciting, but a necessity. Foods that contain fiber are more voluminous (fills you up sans mucho calories), as well as nutrient-rich. All very good things!

2. Eat like a vegetarian 90% of the time. And when I say "vegetarian", I don't mean french fries and a Snickers. This 90/10 plan will allot me about 1-2 meals/week where I can opt for chicken or seafood or anything else I want (but it's usually salmon or chicken).

3. One day a week is dedicated to eating vegan foods/dishes. I got an amazing vegan cookbook this month (blog post coming soon!), and I can't wait to try out some tasty and very healthy and full-of-fiber dishes.

1. Be a smarter food shopper! I'm going to shop from the dry goods bulk bins more to make rice/farro/barley and beans "from scratch", which will really save. I'm also going to practice a little "cross-training" with my specialty ingredients, and not buy that package of dill unless I know I can use all of the dill in a few recipes before the said herb spoils. Speaking of packages of herbs... maybe I should make an earnest attempt out of growing my own herbs. ??

2. Bringing my lunch to work more. I've been pretty consistent this past year about bringing my lunch to work, but got pretty lax with it last month.

3. Not eating out as much, which goes hand-in-hand with Wealth Resolution #2. There are certain times where eating out can't be avoided, but for the most part we eat out because I'm too lazy or have a craving for Chik Fil A waffle fries and a diet coke (not part of any of my Health resolutions). I'll apply the 90/10 rule to this as well. Two times a week for eating out. I feel as though I enjoy the meals I prepare at home more than going out anyways.

1. Cook more! If you're lucky, I'll invite you over. :)

2. Blog more! Oi, I've neglected my little blog. I have a few weekly feature posts planned. Not only will I post recipes, but also tools, cookbooks, and cooking methods that I've found helpful. Stay tuned!

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions? I'd love to hear them! 2012 is going to be a great year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Risotto: A Watched Pot DOES Boil!

I've adjusted my cooking "practices" quite a bit this past year: Implementing more fruits & vegetables, limiting the number of times I go to the grocery store within a week, and reducing how much I use canned/boxed/processed foods.

E had a soccer game to coach tonight and I didn't feel like going to the store, so I thought I'd attempt making risotto from scratch for the first time. It was easier than I thought and much tastier than the box version of risotto (and healthier too). What's great about risotto is that it can be modified to your diet/tastes/ingredients on-hand. The most important thing is that you have to watch the pot and stir regularly until it's finished. Risotto takes about 25 minutes to make, so it's a fairly quick and healthy dinner.

Ingredients you'll need:
2 T. total of butter and/or extra virgin olive oil
veg from the onion family (onion, shallot, green onion, leek), chopped
1-1/2 c. arborio rice (the type of rice makes the difference!)
5 -6 c.Some type of stock/liquid (chicken stock, veg stock)
1/2 c. white wine (if you don't use alcohol in your cooking, you can use more stock!)
Salt and Pepper

Suggested Ingredients to add:
Carrots (my fav), celery
Butternut Squash
Fresh herbs
Lemon Zest/Juice
Parmesan cheese
Mascarpone cheese

Here's the method:
-Saute your onion and other root vegetables in the butter/EVOO mixture over medium heat, approx 5-7 min. I chose my beloved onion, celery, carrot combo.
-Add the rice and stir for about one minute.
-Deglaze the pan with 1/2 c. white wine (or stock)
-After the wine/stock has been absorbed by the rice, start adding your stock about 1 c. at a time. Keep rice to a low simmer. The rice will absorb the liquid and that's when it's time to add some more liquid.
-Continue to stir the risotto. When you're about 10-15 minutes into the cooking process, you can add your fresh herbs or gentler vegetables, like asparagus or peas. I added lemon zest, thyme and rosemary.
-After about 20 minutes into cooking the risotto, taste the risotto to see if it's done. You'll want it to be slightly more cooked than al dente (or according to your liking).

Divide the risotto into bowls and top with cheese/chives/lemon juice. This makes great leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day!

I'm Back!

Hello, Friends! My apologies for not blogging in such a long time. The last several months have been busier than normal for me. I got engaged, married, and work has been picking up: all very good things!

The Little Blog That Could was on the backburner, but my cooking was not! I have made several healthy meals and have taken several pictures. My new goal is to post on a weekly basis. Mark my words, it will happen. Stay tuned!