Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cleaning or Greening out the holidays (greens on greens)

The holidays were a feast and that's no joke. Chopper ended up with stomach bug symptoms and blamed the chocolate and rich foods. When I kept going (eating cookies, chocolate, and drinking eggnog 2 days after Christmas) he took the opportunity to give me a tisk tisk look and a few comments until I told him to "watch it" (that's a direct quote). So now I have caught up with Chopper, and I too, am relaxing on the sweets. I'm looking forward to the cleanse I have planned for the island at the end of January, and realize the prep for that starts now.

Because it seems that the exhaustion of over-eating and indulging, is a common sentiment this time of year, I will share with you my personal plan of attack to combat the sugar high and addiction that ensues. I get bitten with the sweet bug every year just like everyone else and every year the sweets linger past the holidays. I also usually feel a bit down once all the celebration comes to a hault and it can be quite cold and lonely come January/February (especially here on the island). We all know that cold, lonely and depressed are never the emotions that help us to make healthy choices for ourselves. So, that being said the sooner you start the shedding process the better.

My personal plan: Starts with Greens! Always. If you talk to any of my clients (perhaps you were one) you will recognize this pattern. Once your body starts to get the minerals, nutrients, and oxygen it needs, it will want for less. Dark leafy greens.

So for step one I've included a recipe here that is one of my favorites. It is a recipe from one of my teachers and mentors, Andrea Beaman.

Greens on greens (Andrea Beaman)

1 head of kale
1/2 bunch of scallions
1/2 bunch of parsley
3 Tbl soy sauce
3 Tbl Ume Plum Vinegar
1/3 cup Tahini
1/2 cup water

De-stem the kale and tear into bite size pieces (for a great how-to video go HERE). Then steam till bright green (using a steamer basket will keep the kale from getting to watery).

Put the rest of the ingredients into your food processor or blender (if you are not using a high-power blender you will want to chop the scallions and parsley first) and blend until smooth.

Pour the lovely green sauce over the lovely steamed greens.

Sideways parsley and scallions, chopped. Don't they look pretty sideways?

Kale steamed till bright green.

This is delicious as is, or you can add other veggies, a protein, or even soba noodles are yummy.

Stay tuned for step 2, in the meantime green away. You can never green too much.

Christmas Eve Feast (spinach salad with cranberry vinegarette)

Our tree colored lights and all

And now back to the food...

Christmas was a good time this year. My last post ended quite abruptly so here, I would just like to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.

On Christmas Eve we had a nice dinner with Chopper's family. There was Baccala, pea soup, salad, and shrimp enchiladas. It was a cultural feast. Chop's father is Portuguese and so brought the traditional dish, Baccala, which is salted cod and potatoes with olives, pimento peppers, eggs, and a few other ingredients. Apparently it is best with a little olive oil and vinegar drizzled over the top. Because of the tradition of eating fish on Christmas eve this is a popular dish, personally it is a little fishy for me, but those who like it, reaaaally like it. The pea soup was brought by Chop's brother and his wife, another family tradition from another culture. Kristen's family is polish, pea soup and pierogies is their Christmas Eve tradition. She made the pierogies for Christmas day, they are always delicious and the pea soup was yummy too (made vegetarian with no ham). The enchilada's were not family tradition at all, but they were delicious! Chopper's mother Natalie brought them. Natalie has a food blog of her own, her blog highlights eating local, and all of her recipes are made from foods that are sustainable in some most cases because they are all grown in very close proximity to where they are being eaten. She said she would have the enchilada recipe posted at some point and I would suggest seeking it out, they were really yummy.

The delicious enchiladas, obviously being eaten!

The baccala

It was a lovely evening around food and family, which had just the energy one would want to christen their new home for the holidays. Chop and I felt very lucky and our house is feeling more like home every day, it is amazing to think of the memories that have been created there in just the few short monthes we've been in the house (ok 6 monthes but still!).

Grammy with her new picture of Wesley.

Chop and the Boy

Wes and his new organic cotton penguin

The salad I haven't yet mentioned was my contribution to the evening. I don't like to usually put "green salad" recipes on my blog except for in my ode to salads post from last year, because they seem a bit simple and I don't want to undermind my readers. But I brought this salad to a brunch with friends a few weeks ago and then served it again on Christmas Eve and the comments were a flowin. People like this salad, as "simple" as it may seem to me and so I shall share it with you. This is a salad you can get in many restaurants, but what I think makes it stand above (besides the local mixed greens) is the love, that has got to be it. So if you make this salad, make sure to love what you're doing while you're doing it, otherwise it could come out rather pedestrian.

Salad and Dressing
baby spinach (or mixed greens..I used both)
toasted pecans (put on tray in toaster and toast for about 5 minutes)
crumbled blue cheese
sliced pears
finely sliced red onion

Cranberry Vinegarette

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic (I used white balsamic, I don't know how they clarify it-shouldn't matter-use what you have)
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 of a red onion chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Blend all ingredients except for the olive oil. Then with blender on a low setting pour the olive oil in the top. This will allow it to emulsify.
salt and pepper to taste

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas morning and my gift to myself is 15 minutes to write this post. I would give myself more time, but with Chopper making breakfast and Wesley sleeping, I have all the gifts I need...and there's laundry to fold.

I awoke this morning with that excited "santa came" feeling and I think that has everything to do with my new family. Wes won't remember this Christmas, but Chopper is giving me a glimpse into the excitement of Christmas for a little boy. Yes, the emotions of childhood Chopper are flowing and I am starting to see the magic (think A Christmas Story, red rider bb gun excitement). I am wondering if it is different for little boys and little girls, or just different for me and Chop. I would love to hear from some of the blog readers your insight- is there something about little boys and Christmas, or rather is there something about how men remember Christmas that differs than women. This is coming from the fact that I only ever hear men talk about it in that nostalgic whimsical way. I know women love Christmas but it seems to have more to do with creating that magic (oh boy, I hope I'm not way off base here...what a sexist!) Another man I know was talking recently about "laying the alter" with each ornament, (decorating the Christmas tree) for the gifts that santa would bring, he painted quite a picture with that one sentiment. So yeah, curious, not to get too psych-y on everyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to Open a Pomegranite

And now: How to open a Pomegranite.

These fruit always pop up around the holidays and I think they tend to be used more as decoration than they are eaten. It makes me sad to think of all the beautiful pomegranite being cast off into the markets trash bins (you know that has to be their fate, they aren't using the seeds at the deli counter). Pomegranites are also all the rage these days, being highlighted for their high anti-oxidant levels. You will pay extra for anything that claims to have been made with the juice, and a small bottle of pomegranite juice costs about $5-6 bucks. The juice has been pasteurized, so a lot of the anti-oxidants and vitamins are killed off in the process, you might as well learn now how to crack one open.

My uncle brought one of these funky fruits home to his kids and and tried to open it with an apple corer. Needless to say it made a mess and they were unable to enjoy the "fruits" of their labor.

Step 1: cut the crown off

Step 2: score the sides with a knife, be careful not to cut too far in (you don't want to damage the seeds), make about four shallow slices from top to bottom.

Step 3: place the pomegranite face down (where the crown used to be) in a bowl of water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4: break the fruit apart, the water gets into the meat and bloats it enough to easily pull it apart.

Step 5: pop the seeds out of the meat into a bowl (this is the fun part), they should separate pretty easily, if not, let it soak a little longer.

The seeds are the part of this fruit that you eat, and you can eat them one of two ways. Chop likes to lightly chew the fruit off the seed and spit the center out, I like to crunch the whole thing. I say crunch the seed, this makes it much easier to eat them and they are just as tasty. You can throw the seeds on salads or just eat them by the handful.

I meant to take a picture of the seeds sooner-but I ate them all. These are the few that remain, pretty aren't they?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tradition smack down (lemon coconut bars)

Traditionally my family is not one to raise the Christmas tree Thanksgiving weekend. We may have when I was little, but then I am not one who remembers many details from the past. Chopper tends to get nostalgic about the way things were when he was a kid, and he'll tell me lots of cute/funny stories with lots of detail. This reflects for me my lack of memory of childhood detail. I blame this on being an only child of divorced parents, and having noone to bounce memories off of. This sounds so sad, it is not meant to, I just believe there is a reason for my lack of memory and I think my reasoning makes sense.

Chopper and I decided to go get a Christmas tree last weekend (Thanksgiving), I suggested waiting a week, and he asked what the point of that would be. I had no answer. We then went to a local parking lot selling trees and picked out a lovely small tree that cost us $35, we were both a little shocked at the price. On our way home we stopped to buy lights, this was when I realized how different our ideas of a Christmas decorations are. Growing up we always had white lights, and some years, old bubble lights for a splash of color. When I was a teenager my mother had some more refined trees. The hodge podge of ornaments were put away and we had themed trees (as I called them at the time), one year the tree was decorated entirely with homemade babies breath ornaments, another year all glass ornaments, there was an angel tree, and one year I decorated the tree with ornaments made entirely out of recycled trash complete with bottle cap garland. We never had colored lights or candy canes (as Chopper did), and I'm certainly not knocking those, but I hadn't realized how close I felt to my own families traditions which excluded those things. We also never decorated the tree the same day it was brought home, the branches "needed to relax". A rule that I hated growing up, I now missed, and wanted to adhere to when bringing our tree home. The emotion around the Christmas tree and our individual traditions were magnified as we hung Wesley's stocking, and our awareness that how we chose to do Christmas were his future childhood memories. It felt odd, but I was happy to let go of the relaxed branch rule, and because Chopper got so flippin excited about the colored lights and candy canes, the "boring" white lights hardly stood a chance (though they were a little harder for me to let go of).

Our tree is beautiful, simple, complete with colored lights that have 8 settings for blinking, fading, that sort of thing. The ornaments that are hung are the few that we've collected over our last few Christmases together and the skirt is a colorful mexican blanket from the back of Chop's old volkswagon. There are candy canes, which Chopper excitedly remembers sucking the ends of the canes into a sharp point and finding old candy canes from the previous year, and their chewy texture. How can you say no to the corn syrup candies with memories like that?

This whole experience has made me start to think about other traditions that could be tweaked or new traditions that we could start for our new family. It occurred to me that this is something I tend to do in the kitchen all the time. New healthier twists on old comfort favorites. So I've decided to start there, with food.

Right now I am making Limoncello to bottle for Christmas. This is an Italian (when made in Italy) liqueur, which is absolutely delicious. I first had it in Nicaragua, of all places, and fell in love. You make it by steeping lots and lots of lemon rinds in vodka or grain alcohol and then there is a sweetening process. All those lemon rinds takes lots of lemons, these lemons then need a home. I got my limoncello recipe from another blog found here. The most important part of the process is time, so I am learning patience from this little project as well.

My jar of lemon rinds and vodka.

So I had a bowl of leftover lemons, actually 2 bowls, I used about 35 lemons. I juiced the lemons and have been drinking lots of lemon tea, unfortunately even the most lemon-y of dishes only require a tablespoon or 2 of lemon. I found a recipe for raw lemon coconut squares and decided to give them a whirl.

Lemon Coconut Bars
Adapted from Ani Phyo's recipe

Makes 12 bars

1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (Medjool, khadrawhi, or other semi-soft date)
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup dried shredded coconut

In your food processor, chop almonds into small pieces. Use some of this nut powder to “flour” the bottom of a 9 inch square baking pan.

Add remaining ingredients and process some more until well mixed.

Press into baking pan.

To serve, chill for a couple hours until firm. Then cut into squares.

Will keep for six days in the fridge

These are really good especially after a day or two when the lemon flavor really comes through. They are a great snack or breakfast despite their dessert facade, that's the great thing about raw desserts. I changed the recipe ever so slightly from the original, cutting down on the salt.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Feeling full

I hung laundry today, December 3rd, barefoot. The grass was green and soft and felt really nice.

Wesley watched, and laughed as the clothes blew over his head, he loves to be outside.

This fed me more than any pot pie or pint of ice cream possibly could.

Wes felt the same way.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I once was lost but now I'm found....(japanese eggplant)

Me and a very awake Wesley

I had a cup of coffee and found myself. I hadn't been feeling lost per-say, it wasn't until I was found that i realized things had been slowly changing, I had been slowly changing.

I noticed that in the last 6 weeks and the last 10 months, I have been making choices that I would not have normally made. Whether it be how I wear my hair (at 12 weeks pregnant I had bangs cut..bad idea), what I do with my spare time (less walks, bike rides, and swims, nevermind a lack of nights out dancing), what I talk about (baby, diapers, flu shots), and what I eat (turkey, chicken, and lots of ice cream). Looking at pictures of myself from last year, I hardly recognized that person and this bothered me a little. Everything has gotten a little wider, Chopper now calls me "mommy" instead of "babe", I haven't been out with friends, and my reasonably clean diet has been tainted with sugar powered energy and enjoyment.

Well yesterday, after my cup of coffee, I was me again! Though I wasn't out dancing, I was home with my sweet sweet boy and my other sweet boy, we were relaxing, nursing, changing, reading, and getting ready to take a walk. But my sense of humor was boomin, I was dancing around the living room, and I couldn't wait to start a million and one projects! Then I realized, I hadn't lost myself, I was just exhausted, and tired like I've never felt before. I told Chop I felt like I was learning a new depth of tired, and he said he felt a new depth of awake...he's so smart. Now what to do besides become a coffee addict, because that's not what a good health counselor would do (though tempting). I realized that all those changes weren't me losing myself, I am still the person in the pictures, but when you are so tired you can't see straight it makes it much harder to be yourself.

Well, what I know for sure is that you are what you eat, and your food forms your body and your mind(set). A healthy diet means a healthy mind, energy, and body (healthy food means healthy hair too, but the food won't do much for a bad bangs haircut). So I will start there. Fresh air, water, green vegetables, and whole grains will give me the energy that I have been relying on brownies, ice cream and coffee to provide (that's right I said brownies). It will help with the waistline as well, though that is less of a concern right now. My focus is to feel focused, enthused, and at peace. And I will kindly ask Chop to refer to me as "babe" for a little while longer, at least till Wes learns the concept of "mommy".

Since I became pregnant I have been eating eggplant like it'll never grow again. Lots and lots of it, usually roasted and then thrown over pasta or in sandwiches. Because I want to make a few healthy changes I decided to do up my eggplant a little differently. This was inspired by the beautiful Japanese eggplant I found at the farmer's market. Japanese eggplant is the smaller varietal you may sometimes see. It has a softer skin and can be a less bitter than the larger eggplants.
Why eggplant?

Its fiber content is high, which helps our digestive process and also acts against coronary heart disease. Eggplant not only features a number of vitamins, proteins and minerals but also contain important phytonutrients and antioxidants. The potassium in eggplant brings a balance to your salt intake and maintains a nice level of hydration and also plays a role in regulating blood pressure. Eggplant also contains folate, magnesium and niacin as well as copper, manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1), all important minerals.

Chinese Japanese Eggplant

6 japanese eggplant sliced
3 Tbl soy sauce
3 Tbl maple syrup
1 Tbl sesame oil
1/4 cup water

Heat the sesame oil till nice and hot, then add soy sauce.
Toss in eggplant slices, stir coating them in the oil and sauce.
Add water
Cook covered about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add maple syrup
Cook until eggplant is soft, add more water if neccesary

Once the eggplant was finished, I cooked a bag of mixed frozen veggies that had carrots, green beans, and peas the same way (you could do these together, but this was an afterthought).

I served all the vegetables over quinoa and sprinkled with a little gomasio (toasted sesame seeds and sea salt). It was really yummy. It had a nice sweet flavor too, which helped to stave off the sweet cravings later on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A promise is a promise (vegetable pot pie)

So how's everyone doing?

Well, we are sittin pretty over here. Splitting our time between Block Island and Warwick. Chop works through the week as we get acclamated with new parenthood, and then there is lots of visiting on the weekends. Introducing Wes to people is lots of fun (once they wash their hands of course), especially because he is so damn cute!

With the flu season and swine flu mania upon us, washing hands has become a very important health issue in our household. Of course the week we spent with Wesley in the hospital with respitory issues, certainly helped to fuel our fire. From what I understand hand washing is the number 1 thing we should all be doing to stay well this winter, so let that be my health counseling tip for today, keep washing people!

Another important health your vegetables. Fresh is best. Raw is better. Frozen is cool. Canned is ok. Cooked is great. Organic when you can. Local when it's available. Just get them in, and feel your immune system soar or at least feel better than if you left them off your plate. Greens are the way to go, dark leafy greens. They oxygenate the blood, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, promote healthy intestinal flora, improve kidney, gall bladder, and liver function, and help to clear congestion and mucus. Can you beat that? Try eating one full serving of greens a day for a week, and witness how you will start to crave them. Arugula is good cooked or as a salad, so is spinach and escarole. Chard, collards, and kale all liked to be cooked. Steamed, roasted or sauteed, finish them off with a little drizzle of olive or flax oil (Vitamins A and D need fats to be assimilated and absorbed).

Ok, so that being said, I believe I promised a pie crust or a vegetable pot pie. This counts as veggies, but of course it satisfies the comfort food craving as well.

As with most of my recipes here, I usually don't use measurements (I'm making them up here as estimates for you), if you find it could use a little more of this or that feel free, be flexible.

Vegetable Pot Pie

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
2-3 medium carrots*
4 medium potatoes
1 can corn*
1 can peas*
1 small head broccoli*
1 bunch chard
5-7 mushrooms
1 pie crust (store bought or homemade**)
1 tbl thyme
1 tsp sage (cut up small)
1 tsp rosemary (cut up small)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup milk (your choice)
1/3 cup flour

*You can always use a bag of frozen mixed veggies to simplify the process, less slicing and dicing. I would suggest this, especially because these vegetables will be cooked so much.

** Pie crust recipe at bottom of page

Chop and dice all the veggies to prepare for the pan.

In a large fry pan or pot (needs to be pretty deep, lots of stuff)..start by sauteing the onions and garlic till translucent and then add the potatoes. Purple potatoes make this look really pretty.

Once the potatoes start to soften ever so slightly, add the carrots. These take the longest to cook, so they just need a little head start.

As the carrots and potatoes cook, add the herbs (chopped and diced nice and small).

Then add the broccoli and frozen vegetables. Lastly add the mushrooms and chard.

The chard takes over the pan until it starts to cook down. Mix all the veggies and after the chard cooks down, sprinkle the flour over all the vegetables coating them evenly.

Then add the vegetable stock and stir, allowing it to simmer for about another 5 minutes.

The flour and stock will start to thicken and then add the milk, continuing to stir till it thickens again.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and see how you're liking things so far.

Remember that flavors will come out as the pot pie cooks in the oven, before you add too many seasonings. Once the filling is done (you don't want the vegetables cooked too too much, because they will have time in the oven as well), put it in whatever casserole dish you choose. I used my large cast iron skillet. Lay the crust over the top and make 3 nice little slits in the top to allow for steam and to make it look pretty.

Bake at 375* for 45-60 minutes depending on your oven.

This vegetable pot pie is easy once you've made it for the first time. You can get creative with the vegetables you use and seasonings since, well, like I've said before you really can't beat anything with a crust (recipe at bottom of page).

And while you are contemplating making your family a pot pie in this extremely warm November weather (maybe you should wait till you have leftover turkey to throw into it, and perhaps there will be a chill in the air by then)....I will let you contemplate the beauty of my son, Wesley Able Butterfield. We chose Able as his middle name, it means "breath" or "exhalation of breath" which has significance because of his entry to the world.

Pie Crust- some store bought crusts are just as good- look for crusts made with butter and with little additives (health food stores or wholefoods)

This recipe makes 1 crust. If you are making a pie with a bottom and top crust, double this recipe and form two discs of dough instead of one.
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp ice water, very cold

1 Start by cutting the sticks of butter into 1/2-inch cubes and placing in the freezer for at least 15 minutes (preferably longer) so that they become thoroughly chilled

2 In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.

3 Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into a discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4 Remove the crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Organized Archives

We are coming up on the 1 year anniversary of the Clean Up Clear Out blog! Perhaps not everyone who reads this has been following it from the beginning, but this blog started when I challenged myself to the 10 day Master Cleanse. I had decided that blogging my experience would keep me in line and help to share the cleansing process with my friends and family. I really enjoyed the kind of checking in, self maintenance, reflection, and journaling, blogging allowed and then realized that if I were to continue I wanted to share a little more with the readers. So the blog slowly evolved from different diets to just what's cooking in my kitchen, allowing me to share new foods as well as continue to experiment myself. As I've gone through different food phases my blog has too, and so I wanted to make the archives a little easier to follow. Since my last post was "crock pot chicken" and it has been a long time since one may have seen a new "green" introduced, I thought it best to make those recipes easier to find. So along with my cute and clever blog titles, I have now included the recipe that can be found with that post. I hope this encourages readers to jump around a little more and try recipes that may have been posted before they joined our blog bandwagon. So for all readers new and old, may I encourage you to check out or revisit some of the greens recipes or soups...I never did try a "dessert diet", perhaps I should give that one a whirl next! Head back to last January and get a taste of the more seasonal dishes from that time. AND Stay tuned...Next Post...Vegetable Pot Pie! Never want to miss a chance to wrap vegetables in pie crust!

Oh yeah..and here's another picture of my adorable baby boy...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nourishment (crock pot chicken, miso gravy)

"Garcon- Please bring me my mother's milk. Thank you."

What a time this has been! Wes is 18 days old, and we have spent the last 12 days holed up, staring at him. Yes, there is work to be done, but any free time is spent oggling the baby. Chop goes back to work next week and I have to admit I am a little nervous how I will handle everything on my own.

Wesley is a milk monster, eating frequently and this means that I must eat frequently too. Fortunately Chop has really stepped up to the plate and we've had some decent meals. I am most impressed with my breakfasts. Every morning as Wes and I feed and nap, Chop goes downstairs and fixes up what are some of the most well rounded, beautiful breakfasts I've enjoyed.

Steel Cut Oatmeal with shaved coconut, raisins, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Cinnamon raisin english muffin with almond butter.

Rice and beans with eggs, side of english muffin, and oatmeal.

I know these look like huge breakfasts, but they are necessary.

Chopper also likes to take the opportunity, whenever I am not cooking, to make a crock pot chicken. He gets really excited about this and I always wonder why he doesn't just do it more often (I guess then some of the thrill would be gone).

There is a whole diet (Westin A. Price diet/ Traditional or Primitive diet) founded on the idea that we are meant to thrive on animal proteins and fats that are derived from the purest sources (this all based on evidence through studies of indigenous cultures). The meat we buy at the market would not be considered one of these sources. We're talking cows that eat grass and graze in the sun, chickens that eat grubs out of cow manure and grass and get sunlight, or seafood that is not contaminated with heavy metals. There is so much more to this than I could possibly do justice here, so definitely follow the link to 'bone up' (pun intended). The theories behind this way of eating are pretty telling and can once again confuse this one time (many times) vegetarian.

Chop came across a "Nourishing Traditions" magazine while bringing me to the accupuncturist and since then was excited and hell bent on getting some marrow and gelatin into his diet. To do this, first you need a quality chicken. He purchased a free range, sun fed chicken at Wholefoods and got down to business.

Crock Pot Chicken

1 free range quality chicken
4 fingerling potatos
2 carrots
4 shallots
Bells Seasonings-heaping Tablespoon

Leave the innards in the chicken, place the whole thing in the crock pot with the chopped veggies, seasoning, and enough water to fill the pot. Turn crock pot on and let simmer for about 6 hours.

Falls right off the bone.

The fat, gelatin, and marrow has this lovely yellow color. According to the Traditional Diet (and Chopper), this is where the good stuff is.

Chicken, and purple mashed potatoes with Miso gravy.

Miso Gravy-awesome gravy for any dish-especially when you go meatless.

2 Tbl sweet white miso
1 cup soy milk (milk)
3 Tbl flour (your choice)
1/2 onion
1 Tbl thyme
Black pepper

Saute onion till translucent.
Coat the onion in the flour, add thyme.
Dissolve the miso in the soy milk, stirring till mixed thoroughly.
Add the soy milk/miso to the onions. Stir till thickens.
Add black pepper to taste.

I am someone who has a hard time eating mashed potatoes without gravy. This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. You can also add mushrooms for a nice flare. I love being able to whip up gravy, it seems so decadent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baby Butternut (stuffed squash version 2)

Baby Butterfield is here! Meet Wesley (yet to have a middle name) Butterfield. Wesley was born at home on October 2 at 10:55 am, after a 13 hour labor.

I worried before I had him that my heart would open up. I worried that I'd become a gusher, another annoying parent with a "perfect" child. Well, ahem, it's happened. He's absolutely beautiful and I can't believe how quickly the love rushes in. One minute I didn't know if the baby inside of me was a boy or a girl and the next I knew love like I had never known before for my baby boy.

Wesley did not arrive without some strife. He had some trouble breathing on his own due to a cord wrapped 3 times around his neck and body which led to fluid aspiration in the lungs. EMT's were called to our house and our peaceful homebirth quickly turned chaotic and scary. After a week in the neonatal intensive care unit, Wes had been put through the ringer (and put us through the ringer as well), but I believe came out stronger because of it. I have been asked by people since our ordeal, whether my mind has been changed on homebirth. Although what we experienced was scary and sad for our family, I have to say that it does not change my mind on homebirth. Rather my experience changed my mind about hospitals. I have a new respect for the care that is given when it is needed. We were blessed and amazed as we witnessed the doctors and nurses who took care of Wes do what they do, with such care and compassion. Everyone we met was on their game and so thoughtful and considerate of what we were going through, never mind so damn smart! They truly saved our baby.

So now we are home (this is day 6 of our time home-we have officially been home as long as we were in the hospital-moving on..) We have been loving our baby-moon, though a bit tired. I have managed to do some cooking, though in stages.

So in honor of our little Chops dad has taken to calling him, Butternut.

We had this today for lunch and it was delicious! Everytime we have something that Chop is really into, he adds it to our "someday cafe" menu. This was added today, he called it Cinco de Butternut Squash.

Cinco De Butternut Squash

1 small butternut squash halved and roasted (30-45 minutes at 400*)
1/2 can of black beans
1 avocado
2 inch cube cheddar cheese
tomato/ 1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 red onion (optional)

After squash is roasted spoon out about 1/2 the meat into a bowl.
Mix in beans, chopped bell pepper, 1/2 avocado and 1/2 the cheese grated.
Stuff the squash with the mixture and top with the other 1/2 grated cheese.
Bake for about 10 minutes at 350* (till cheese is melted)
When it comes out top with other 1/2 of avocado, diced tomato and red onion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Apple Coffee Cake

Bundt cake cooling trick.

Before I loved to cook, I loved to bake. Unfortunately baking, as delicious as the results may be, isn't always the healthiest of options. So with health counseling and healthy cooking, came less and less baking. But I still love to bake, and these days (being pregnant and all) I love baked goods as well, so I pulled out my mixer and went to work.

Few tips to getting the most out of your baked goods. Now I know that if you are craving a cookie, you aren't necessarily going to be looking for a healthy alternative. However, if you have a healthier alternative cookie on hand you will curb that craving by having something that is a little more modest and will lead to less cravings in the long run.

Also, if you do partake in a little baking at home, you can control how much you actually intake. If you make a batch of dough, freeze half. If you make a coffee cake, after its done cut slices and put the rest in freezer as well, make these treats last. Most people bake and then for fear of wasting, continue to eat the whole tray, pan, or dish throughout the week.

Experiment with flours, try rice, spelt, or coconut flour for different textures and some gluten free options. In general it is good to have variety in your diet, causing less strain on your intestines from wheat wheat and more wheat. Experiment with sweeteners, try agave, molasses, evaporated cane juice, honey, date sugar or maple syrup. Getting away from processed white sugar will help the baked treat to not wreak havoc on your blood sugar-causing less highs and lows and in turn less cravings.

So that being said. I made an Apple Coffee Cake that was a favorite at the cafe when I baked for them. Can't say I strayed too far from the original recipe here, the biggest change I made was playing around with the oil used. It calls for "vegetable oil", which is typically rancid rapeseed oil, that has been filtered and processed to remove all of the stank (lovely isn't it?). So in baking I use coconut oil. Because it is hard at room temperature you do need to melt it, but then it pours just like vegetable oil. Coconut oil has many benefits, which are listed if you follow the link. One of the coolest benefits, I think, is that it contains lauric acid which is only found in one other place...human breast milk. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin which is an antimicrobial, and antibacterial so it can help to prevent/cure viruses and bacterial infections. I like to add a spoonful of coconut oil to my smoothies, or at times if I am craving fats, I will eat it by the spoonful. Another great use is to lather it on your skin...mmmm.

Apple Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350*
Bundt Pan
4 med granny smith apples
4 Tbl plus 2 cups sugar (I used evaporated cane juice granulated-not to be fooled into thinking this is a "healthy" sugar, but it is just one step less processed and I like the added depth of molasses flavor using this sugar allows-it is also less expensive to bake with than my ideal, agave)
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup coconut oil (also great at high heat-wonderful to cook with. Make sure to buy unrefined)
1/4 cup oj
1 Tbl Orange marmalade (if you don't have it, any jam will be yummy)
1 tsp vanilla
3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix apple with cinnamon and 4 Tbl of sugar

*Mix apple with cinnamon and 4 Tbl of sugar
*Combine sugar, eggs, coconut oil, oj, marmalade, and vanilla
*Combine flour, baking powder, and salt
*Mix the dry ingredients with the wet
*Properly grease pan (coconut oil works for that too!)Layer the batter and the apples in the pan...starting with the batter and ending with apples

I laid these apples out all nice nice, these will be in the middle of the cake.

The apples on the bottom, not so much. Let them be a little messy and gooey.

Bake for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on your oven) at 350*. When it does come out, enjoy. Share this with friends or with enemies to turn things around....or skip it, and save this for yourself in your freezer for a rainy coffee cake kind of day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One of my firsts..(stuffed squash)

So it is officially fall, bugger! I always have a tough time transitioning from summer to fall, though this year I have a special package arriving, which makes the transition much much different. This summer was a blur, if it weren't for the squash showing up all over the farmer's markets, I'd still be expecting baby greens and I'd be ever so eager to eat them. The pumpkins tell me, that time has passed, it is getting cooler and time for more warming foods.

So have I got the recipe for you! I first made this dish one day when I was up at my mother's, I wanted to make her something for lunch, and I think I was eager to impress with how easy it can be to dish up something fantastic, quickly. So I perused her cupboards and fridge and went to it, the dish has stuck, it's become one of my favorites in a pinch, and my mother makes it from time to time as well.

Stuffed Butternut Squash
1 small to med. butternut squash
1 pear or apple diced
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
about 15 almonds chopped
3/4 cup frozen spinach (you can use fresh spinach or arugula too-just use more)
1/2 cup brown rice or quinoa
handful raisins or dried cranberries
garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
ground ginger (about 1/2 tsp)
chili (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
cumin (about 3/4 tsp)
feta (enough to crumble on top)

I tend to have cooked grains on hand, and I suggest this to everyone I work with. They are great with eggs in the morning, as a breakfast cereal (add some nuts, dried fruit, maple syrup), rice and beans can be a quick meal, or stir fry in a pinch. If you do not have rice or quinoa cooked on hand, throw them on, according to the directions. At the same time halve the squash and place face down on a baking tray with a little water in the pan. Roast at 400* for about 45 minutes (generally the same time it will take to cook the rice).

While the rice and squash are cooking-
-dice the apple
-chop the nuts (you can toast these too; optional)
-mince the garlic
-chop the onion

In a large pan saute the onions and garlic till translucent.
Add the apple, and spinach.
Add the rice, nuts, raisins/cranberries, and spices. Mix well.

Scoop out about half of the meat of the squash and add it to the stuffing. Scoop the stuffing into the squash and pile high if you'd like. Top with crumbled feta and pop back in the oven on broil (about 2-3 minutes) to brown the top.

This batch is a little light on the greens (if you follow the recipe it'll be a bit more green than this)

So I hope you make this, it's delicious. And if you use quinoa, know you are getting a nice kick of protein as well. Happy Fall!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mama wants Lasagna! (veggie lasagna)

Mama wants me some lasagna. Avoiding writing another post about this waiting period, I won't go on and on about my daily tasks and passings of time. But I shall say that I finally got some big cooking in and it has felt good! Forget the living room, perhaps the baby was just giving me some time in the new kitchen before he/she joins us for a meal.

But how can we forget the living room? Here it is, in all its cozy-ness (complete with newspaper strewn on the coffee table).

I have found the Italian cravings creeping back in later in pregnancy (this is what I craved the whole first trimester). I think it's the cheese. I have remained a pescotarian (meaning I eat fish, no other meat) throughout the past 9 months, which was easy, though I had to keep up with my protein or I would quickly begin craving grilled chicken sandwiches. This past week I, without shame or apology, ate half a "Thanksgiving Style" turkey sandwich; oh yes, complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mayonaise, and roasted turkey. I believe I have written here before about my continous shift in belief around food, and my repeated conclusion is that food, for every person, is a very personal relationship. As we let go of our own judgements around the food we eat, it allows us to let go of the judgement of others, and perhaps that is when the most opportunity to educate arises.

Ah, so enough about that delicious sandwich, and HOW, was it delicious. Italian. When my friend had a baby in February, I made her a giant sloppy delicious lasagna (inspired by my own cravings at the time). I wanted to do the same for us, but perhaps a little less sloppy. Also, I didn't realize till I started to buy the ingredients, if you want to make a yummy cheesy lasagna using organic ingredients, it can get a bit pricey (organic cheeses, you pay for). So I decided to replace the Ricotta with tofu and make my own filling. This lasagna is not vegan, I did put other cheeses in, but cut back on the cost, increased the protein and vitamin B, and made what I believe an equally tantalizing lasagna with less saturated fat.

"Less Sloppy" Vegetable Lasagna

1 28 oz can Crushed Tomato
1 lb Extra Firm Tofu/or a container of Ricotta
2 eggs
1 package shredded cheese of your choice (I used parmesan, asiago, and fontina blend)
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 package lasagna (no boil) noodles (brown rice for gluten free)
1 eggplant
1 med zuchini
1 small head broccoli
5-10 cherry tomatos
1 large portobella mushroom
2 T olive tapenade (or 3-4 T olives chopped)
2 T Pesto (or 1/2 bunch basil chopped finely)
2 cloves garlic
Optional: artichoke hearts, extra cheese (feta), any vegetable of your choice!

Lets start with the ever allusive tofu. Like anything else you don't want to eat tofu every day, you don't want this to be your staple source of protein. Soy can be very difficult to digest, and too much soy can cause hormonal imbalances. But so can cheese!! But in a healthy rotation it can be a great source of protein which is low in fat, so lets give it a whirl.

You may have heard that it is best to press the water out of it. True. Whether you are grilling it, stir frying, or using as cheese in a lasagna, it will be much more cooperative in retaining flavor if you get the excess water out.

To do this, I put the tofu in a metal baking pan, with another pan that fits inside it, on top. Then added my weights.
Beautiful juicing oranges act as my weights. I learned a "pressing tofu" lesson the hard way once, by using my entire stack of glass mixing bowls as weights and walking away a little to long, well long enough for a big clean up and a mourning of my bowls to be in order.

Leave the tofu, occasionally draining the water, while you start the rest of your prep.

Veggie lasagna has the potential to be very watery, dissolving the flavor. I wanted to use the rest of my BI grown zuchini, despite zuzhini having major water content. So I sweat it, like the eggplant. This draws out the excess water, as well as any bitter flavor in the eggplant-just slice, lay out, and sprinkle with salt (you can rinse any excess salt off before cooking if you'd like). So now you have veggies sweating, tofu sweating, time for you to start to sweat! Preheat the oven to 350*

Chop up your remaining vegetables. I used garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes (I cut these and deseeded them by rinsing them in a colander, again to cut out excess water). Saute the veggies with some olive oil, and add any seasonings at this time. I added about 2 Tbl of olive tapenade (you can finely chop olives if you don't have this made) and 2 Tbl of pesto, some salt and pepper (artichoke hearts, olives, basil, oregano, all would add great flavor).

OK, so now its probably been about 1/2 hour- 45 minutes. Take your pressed tofu and crumble it into a bowl.

Now for the cheese trick. Nutritional yeast, found at all/most health food stores in bulk section. Nutritional yeast is known for its deceptively cheesy flavor. An excellent source of protein, gluten free, rich in vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and an excellent source of folic acid. So add away, I used about a 1/4 cup, plus 1 & 1/2 tsp of sea salt to give the tofu the cheese flavor (though I have to admit ricotta always seems a bit flavorless to me anyway). Add 2 eggs and mix well.

Now press or squeeze the excess water out of your sweating veggies and toss on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes in the oven. While those are baking, start to layer your lasagna, starting with the sauce.

I used Muir Glen crushed tomatos with basil as sauce. Then a layer of lasagna noodles (no boil, rice noodles-made this lasagna gluten free) then sauteed veggie layer, more sauce, cheese (parmesan, fontina, asiago blend-buying the container of blended cheese saved money as well), noodles, eggplant and zuchini, tofu, sauce, cheese. You just want to make sure that you start with sauce and end with noodles (sauce and cheese), as you put it together just think how it'll hold together while eating (the noodles being the binders). I underestimated my pan size and ran out of noodles, so I used eggplant slices on the top to act as the book cover.

Top with sauce and cheese, cover, and bake for 45 minutes or until done. You can take the cover off and brown the top at the end if you'd like that toasted yummy cheese, and who doesn't?

I threw some feta on there too. mmmmm.