Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Go-To Green Drink

I will have you know that I've been drinking green drinks since my teens (many thanks to my mother), and I've been making them since college.   Apparently it's all the rage nowadays, as even Jamba Juice is making veggie smoothies.  But, I will have you know that mine taste WAY better!  Seriously, my coworker (who is always such a willing guinea pig) told me that she tried one that had bell peppers in it.  Bell peppers?!?! Seriously.  Anyway, she told them theirs are yucky and mine are yummy.  She literally told them that mine are better!  Because they are.  True story.

  • 1 c. apple juice
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 T. chia seeds (opt)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, frozen
  • 1 frozen banana
  1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen bananas or spinach, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
I have a few more versions up my sleeve, so stay tuned!  But this particular recipe is the best for converting vegetable haters to the green side.  Honestly, my kids (and meat obsessed husband) love them.  No joke, they request them!  They really do crave them...  And some most days it is the only way I can get anything even remotely green into their picky little (big) mouths.  I make it, and they drink down it.  It keeps them healthy (and regular), and even makes them smile.  And there's nothing better than a green smile.  *B

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the magical fruit

We're talking beans, people!  Legumes are as nutrient dense as they are cheap, making them a worthwhile addition to your meals.  I use them regularly in soups, salsa, salads and even baked goods, like my super yummy not-so-guilty chocolate muffins!  You really must try them, they seriously are a big hit anytime I make them.  Seriously.  Anyway, so beans are good for you.  Very good for you.  But, they can sometimes be a little hard on your tummy...

To mitigate unpleasant side effects, simply drain and rinse your canned beans.  For bagged beans, discard the soaking water and rinse before cooking.  I like to cook up a big pot of beans to freeze later, so I also throw out my cooking water.  But if you're making soup, just be sure to remove any foam or bubbles that form at the top.

Legumes are low fat, cholesterol free and full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals (like calcium and iron).  Like I said, very good for you.  So please, eat them.  Not necessarily at every meal... But, the more you eat the better you'll feel!  *B

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meal Plan: 3/28 - 4/3

Mexican Monday: Black Bean Salsa burritos w/ carrot sticks
Oriental Tuesday: teriyaki chicken stir fry w/ brown rice
Twisted Wednesday: baked potatoes w/ awesome meatless chili
Authentic Thursday: avocado pesto pasta
TGIFriday: tomato soup w/ cheese sammies
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
Special Sunday: pot roast w/ roasted veggies

Upcoming recipe: The infamous Green Drink!  Be excited.  Be very excited.  *B

Friday, March 25, 2011

the book that changed my life

[I ♥ iPhone pics]
"Nutrition goes beyond calories and food groups. Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves and our food can facilitate that power."  Yes, I'm quoting myself (I can do that, right???).  How about Hippocrates?  Ever heard of him?  Of course you have!  This is my favorite quote of his: "Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food."

I went off to college with the intention of becoming a doctor, or something.  I ended up with a B.S. in Health Science, a minor in Biology and an emphasis in Health Promotion & Lifetime Wellness.  I took several courses dealing with the human body, and I loved  But no textbook taught me what I knew to be true.  And then I came across Paul Pitchford's book, Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions & Modern Nutrition.  I lovingly refer to it as my food bible :)

This book also played a key role in my marriage.  True story!  Once I read said book, there was no going back...  My roommates and professors alike were concerned with my "quackish" beliefs.  I even had a quasi boyfriend at the time who thought I was borderline sacrilegious, all because I experimented with brown rice syrup and drank copious amounts of green smoothies.  Oh, and not going to the doctor for common ailments = dangerous.

A friendly admirer (Brad) took me out for my birthday (not the pseudo BF).  Over our dinner conversation we talked about what we wanted for Christmas.  I sheepishly and quickly mumbled the name of the book.  Because that's all I wanted; the school library was tired of me hoarding it... I braced myself for the oncoming scorn that never came.  Not only had Brad heard of this book, but his own mother owned it!  I wasn't crazy.  I was NOT crazy!  Poor pretend boyfriend never had a second chance after that fateful night ;)

I love food.  I love my body.  I love this book.  And I love my husband.  *B

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Soup Sans Cheese (aka. Cheesey Cheeseless Soup)

This soup is smooth and creamy, without the dairy.  It's naturally nutritious, and deceivingly delicious :)

  • 5 medium-small russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch chunks -or- 1 2lb bag of country style hashbrowns (frozen/rehydrated)
  • 3 smallish carrots, cut into 2 inch segments -or- 1 can carrots, drained -or- 1/2 lb carrots (frozen/rehydrated)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped -or- 1-2 T. dried onions
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 c. milk (DF works fine)
  • 2 T. chicken bouillon (MSG-free please!)
  • 1/2 c. white beans, drained & rinsed (opt)
  • 1/2 c. sweet potato puree -or- pumpkin puree
  • 4 T. butter (1/2 stick)
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of paprika
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 small bag frozen vegetables, Normandy style (redhydrated in chicken broth)
  • 2 handfuls of shredded rotisserie chicken -or- 1 can chicken, drained (opt)
  1. Place potatoes, carrots and onions into large soup pot.  Add water, then add salt until water tastes salty.
  2. Bring to a boil, and cook until veggies are tender.  Add bouillon, then (s)mash potatoes and carrots.  Blend with a hand mixer until smooth.  Reduce heat to simmer.
  3. In a food processor, add sweet potato puree and white beans and process until smooth.  Add puree blend to soup.  Blend with hand mixer until smooth.  Add spices and stir.
  4. Add frozen vegetables and chicken and heat through.  Garnish with shredded cheese and green onions.
This is perfect for those avoiding or limiting dairy.  It looks and tastes cheesey!  But if you're wanting to cheat, you can top your bowl with a handful of cheese and only feel slightly guilty ;)  Change up your mixings and fixings and slurp to your heart's content!  *B

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

freeze your greens

It is still March, right?  I haven't gone and missed all of April or anything...  Well, in honor of the month o' green, I thought we'd start our first Tipsy Tuesday talking about everyone's favorite green: spinach!  Oh, you don't like spinach?  How unfortunate.  Because it really is worth your liking :)

Now, my little family "likes" spinach.  I love it in a salad, my husband tolerates it, and my children (loudly) acknowledge its existence.  I love it in soups, and I love it steamed.  My husband tolerates it in soup, and he only likes it steamed if bacon is involved.  My kids like love bacon.  So why do we buy the huge bag of spinach from Costco?

More often than not, we drink our spinach!  I'm addicted to green drinks.  And my husband/offspring?  They love it!  Seriously.  Both of my kids request green drinks.  And when they hear my blender whirring, they start doing little happy dances.  I love that they love it, almost as much as (if not more than) the drink itself.  I'll be sure to post a recipe soon, alongside a pic of some of the cutest green mustaches you've ever seen ;)

So, back to the freezing.  If you've ever had good intentions of eating your greens, and end up buying them in bulk, only to find out that it's not so easy eating that huge bag of spinach before it goes bad, then you're not alone.  Been there, done that.  But, there is a solution!  Freeze those leaves.  Here's what I do: Stuff two HUGE handfuls of spinach into one freezer bag.  I get about 10 freezer bags' worth of frozen spinach out of one large bulk bag.  Pop them into the freezer and they're good to go, all fresh and ready for all those yummy soups, drinks and the like.

Going green has never been cooler.  *B

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beth tested, and approved

This post is for you, dear cousin and loyal reader of mine :)  I have gone through and removed any recipes I have not personally tried.  I hope that helps you sleep better at night...  Thanks for having such confidence in me and my culinary skills!  *B

Meal Plan: 3/21 - 3/27

Mexican Monday: Tortilla Soup topped with avocado chunks
Oriental Tuesday: Peanut Satay w/ tofu & cilantro
Twisted Wednesday: Pancakes w/ strawberry-banana syrup & whipped cream
Authentic Thursday:  Noodle Cheese w/ peas (thanks Ash!)
TGIFriday: Mini Pizzas & green drinks
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
Special Sunday:  dinner with the folks... my daddy's bday :)

So far, Candra has been my go-to-gal... and she's pregnant!  She puts me to shame, planning AND freezing her meals.  So let me know if you're interested in linking up, too.  Because I have a vision!  *B

my plans on planning

Perhaps you noticed yesterday's post was lacking some vital information: my meal plan.  Oh, you didn't notice?  This is the second time in six months you've visited my blog?  Right.  So it's just me then.  Well, that's a relief!  That means what I'm about to propose will probably influence/excite me more than you, whoever you are...

I've been planning my meals based on themes for the past who-knows-how-long, and with much success!  No, I do not always stick to the plan.  But I don't stray too far from the planned genre du jour either.  It's been nice knowing that at least something in my life is somewhat organized, and I don't have to play the dreaded "what's for dinner" game unless I'm feeling peckishly frisky.  And so I've decided to bring a little planning into my posting!  And I'm ok being the only one excited about it ;)

Meal Plan Monday
Tipsy Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Food-for-Thought Thursday
Feature Friday

I'll now be sharing my meal plans with the world wide web on Monday rather than Sunday.  Anyone still interested in linking their meal plans OR recipes, let me know and I'll bring the link-up back.  Tuesday will be used for sharing any kind of kitchen tips/tricks, including healthification suggestions and the like.  We'll see how Wednesday works out, but I'd like to have some kind of picture posted (because this poor blog is seriously lacking in photos).  Whether that photo is taken by me or found elsewhere on the internet will depend entirely on where the wind blows that day.  Thursday will be recipe day.  Either made-up recipes by yours truly, or adaptations of others' (aka. healthified).  And Friday.  Friday is fun day!  Friday is the day I'll feature blogs, recipes, products, books, etc.  It's the day I'm most excited about :)  I can share/show off all my fancy kitchen utensils, cookbooks, etc.  Yeah, baby.

So be excited!  Or not (see last sentence of paragraphs #1-2).  *B

Sunday, March 20, 2011

ramblings of a (health) food addict

When me and the hub were in Vegas, we were lucky enough to have brunch at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill.  OH.MY.HECK.  If you ever have the chance to go there, you simply must go!  Everything was super yummy.  Like, super-hero yummy.  We foolishly tried to walk-in for dinner, and ended up making reservations for the next afternoon.  If we canceled, it was a hundred smackaroos automatically charged to our card.  They mean business!  But what an excellent business they have.

We shared the following: Rough Cut Tuna "Nachos" + Tiger Shrimp Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale + Barbecued Lamb Cobb Salad.  I honestly can't tell you which was my favorite.  Even their bread basket was an assortment of deliciousness!  Four different biscuits/scones, and we HAD to try each and every one.  So much goodness.  And everything complimented each other.  The flavor(s) in our mouth by the end of the meal was almost as rewarding as the food itself.  Almost ;)

Brad and I tried to explain our Mesa Grill experience to our friends.  Pretty sure we failed...  You just had to be there!  But, Mr. friend noticed how much my face lit up and how excited I got when I was describing the food.  And you know what?  I get like that anytime I talk about good food!  For example, the Buffalo Blasts at The Cheesecake Factory: life changing.  Seriously.  And I don't even like chicken!  When I was trying to convince my husband how amazing they really were, he noticed my immediate animation.  Because nothing turns me on like food.

Pretty sure I'm a foodie.  And I think I'm a pretty good judge of what constitutes as good food.  But my real passion: good food that is good for you.  After a week(end) of indulgence, my body was crazy out of whack.  My stomach hurt.  I was lethargic.  Headaches galore!  No amount of tasty food is worth a life of discomfort.  I love the occasional Tiramisu cheesecake.  But I can't eat it every day.  What once tasted amazing now tastes... gross.  Because I'd feel gross.  Sometimes I have a hankering for a Whopper.  Yes, meat.  So I eat it.  But having a burger every single day?  No thanks.  When I'm planning meals for my family, I make sure it tastes good.  And I make sure it feels good.  It makes those trips to Chuck E. Cheese and Coldstone, or the Mesa Grill, that much more special.

Sometimes my mouth craves the unhealthy.  So I eat it.  I enjoy it.  And I relish in the flavor(s).  But then it's time to move on.  Because my body craves healthy. And I listen to it.  Because my body is worthy of good food.  I deserve to be healthy.  I enjoy being healthy.  And a healthy body is much more appreciative of what Life has to offer, such as food.  I eat to live, and I live to eat.  It just makes sense that food can (and should) taste good and be good for you.  It is not about denying what tastes good.  It's about tasting what is good.  *B

Sunday, March 13, 2011

this week's plan: 3/14 - 3/20

And we're back!  Time to restore our tummies to healthiness ;)

Mexican Monday: Veggie Fajitas
Oriental Tuesday: Tofu Coconut Curry
Twisted Wednesday: french toast w/ peanut butter syrup
Authentic Thursday: rice pasta w/ grilled vegetables & avocado sauce
TGIFriday: pesto portobello burgers with spiced fries and applesauce
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
Special Sunday: Pot Roast w/ roasted veggie medley

Looking forward to a healthy week, and a happier tummy.  *B

Monday, March 07, 2011

Parmesan Popcorn

Guess what?!  You can make microwave popcorn, from scratch!!!   I got the idea from Our Best Bites, but made a minor tweak here and there... It's cheap and beyond easy, and there's no fake nothin' about it.  Just pure yumminess :)

  • scant 1/4 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 t. canola oil (you can use a good flavored olive oil, too)
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • scant 1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 brown paper bag
  1. Pour popcorn kernels into bag.  Flatten out bag and then fold the top of the bag over twice.  Make two notches about 1.5 inches apart, and fold flap over (see picture).
  2. Place bag in microwave and cook for a little over 2 minutes, depending on your micro.  Mine turns out great at 2:15, with just a few kernels unpopped.
  3. Lightly shake bag and dump popcorn into a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Melt butter (about 15 seconds in the zapper); add oil and salt and stir well.
  5. Pour butter mixture over popcorn and immediately toss.  Add Parmesan and toss to coat.
I'm normally anti-micro, but for quick air-popped popcorn I can make an exception ;) This is our family's new favorite snack!  Everyone from the oldest to the youngest just loves it.  I'm excited to try some different flavors...  I'll keep you posted if/when I do.  But imagine all the possibilities!  Most excellent snacking indeed.  *B

Sunday, March 06, 2011

curious still

Wow, who knew grocery budgeting would be so... conversationlistic?  I haven't quite figured out how much is too little or too much, but I definitely appreciate the feedback!  Thank you, thank you :)  The problem with eating cheaply is that most cheap meals are overly processed.  Example: Top Ramen or boxed Mac & Cheese.  We do eat those on occasion, especially when we're feeling pinched in the pockets.  But I do my best to healthify them as best I can when we do eat them.  Like my Fancy Ramen or my Sneaky Noodles!  Otherwise, my pantry is seriously lacking in prepared food.

Which brings me back to coupons.  I definitely admire those who take the time to make them work.  It's a skill I do not have.  But as many of you said, unless there are coupons on produce or whole food items, coupons just don't do it for me.  Call me lazy, but I don't like driving around to five different stores to find the best priced item either.  I'd rather save the money in gas...  But we do buy stuff in bulk.  Costco is our friend :)  We have to be very careful though to go there with a list in hand.  Something that we have learned with a small wallet and a small house (no real room for food storage) is that overbuying is the ultimate downfall.

My best trick for making my groceries go farthest is to plan my meals.  If I know what I'm buying and why I'm buying it, then we're pretty safe.  I'll never buy 20 boxes of Fruit Loops, because we won't even eat one box.  But I look forward to the day when we can afford to buy 10 pounds of oatmeal, and have a place to store it.  On the other hand, I'll never have room for Kool-Aid ;)

Next question(s):  Bountiful Baskets vs. CSA.  What's the difference?  Anyone have any experience with both?  And how do they compare to a Farmer's Market?  Thanks (much) in advance!  *B

this week's plan: 3/7 - 3/13

Me and the hubs are going out of town this weekend.  ALONE.  I know!!!  I think it's the first time in five plus years... Super exciting!  Anyway, this week's meal plan might be super lame for everyone else but us ;)

Mexican Monday:  Taco Salad
Oriental Tuesday: Hawaiian Haystacks
Twisted Wednesday: Biscuit Quiche
Authentic Thursday: Elsie's Bday - probably mac & cheese followed by cake/ice-cream ;)
Super Saturday: VEGAS
Special Sunday: super potato soup