Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two Years and a blog rant...

I can't believe that I wrote my first post on this day two years ago. It started off as a place for me to share things about being a new mom and making healthy food for my baby. Originally I thought it would be more about my life as a mother, wife and hopefully a little about myself as an artist, but it seems to have evolved to more of my trials in the kitchen.

When making baby food my goal was always to make sure my son tried new flavors, introduce him early so he wouldn't have such a limited plate. What I have now just realized is that I have made it my goal not just to make healthy and more veggie based meals for me but to get my husband to eat more veggies and to expand his tastes. For some reason he has a very limited plate and it is hard to get him to eat healthier options. I always figured it would be harder to get my toddler to try things.

My boys

It has never occurred to me that I have this little mission going on, I really just want my family to eat a little bit better. I have mentioned in other posts that my husband is the one who usually makes dinner during the week. He gets home almost two hours before me, so unless I make something a head of time that can just be thrown in the oven or a slow cooker meal, he does the cooking. I don't complain, I am very grateful that he is able and willing to do this. However, a typical week of meals may include: fish sticks, chicken nuggets, pizza, hamburger helper, broiled pork chops. The sides may include: Macaroni and cheese (out of the box), green beans, peas, scalloped potatoes (out of a box), rice (flavored either from box or pouch), just to name a few. There is a trend here, anyone? A lot of processed food. I do the grocery shopping, so I can't fully blame him. I have been buying less and less processed and more fresh. Now that more items are in season it should get easier, or at least one would think. I try to go to the farmers market at least once a week, sometimes two. (There is one that is pretty close to the grocery store, so it will be easy to stop there first.) There is a growing trend of people wanting to eat less processed or shall I say 'clean', or at least all my friends seem to be. It should be easy, I live in a community within a rural area, there are farms all over. Now buying fresh is the easy part, getting my husband to eat it is a whole different story. There is not many veggies that he likes. Corn and carrots, I am pretty sure those are the only veggies that there is never a face or complain made. Here is the most recent problem I am facing, my son. Yes my husband will try most of what I make and he will eat the veggies that are on his plate, good right? Well he makes this face, it is almost a gag like face, not attractive and he doesn't even realize he does it. My son is picking up on the face and the fact he doesn't like the veggies, so in turn he doesn't want to eat as much as he used to. And even though I eat them, it isn't the same as daddy. I am starting to worry it will be two against one.

Let me back up a bit...I love my husband and he does SO much around the house, me dealing with his eating habits is minor compared to what he has to deal with with me. As you know I am training for a triathlon, which eats up a lot of my time, and (I will let you in on a little secret) I am a messy person.  A messy person how doesn't always realizes that she is messy. Yes, I know my dresser is a mess, my corner of my room and my studio space...but there are time I will leave something on the counter or table and forget about it, literally, even though I see it again and again.  For some reason it just doesn't bother me, key doesn't bother ME.  I have been this way my whole life, my parents just stopped trying to get me to pick up my room.  I do think I am better then I used to be, but...I am still a mess.  Now with a little copycat in the house, I should be more conscious of picking up after myself, before I get the "well you don't do it" the same as "Well Daddy doesn't eat it".  So anyway, I guess I have something to work on other than just getting my husband to eat his veggies, now don't I??

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Farmers market Easter egg radishes...

Mushroom & Kale Noodle Kugel

Trying to find meatless meals that my whole family will enjoy is not easy, the younger of the two is slightly easier since most of what i make are still new tastes/flavors to him, plus he really likes to help in the kitchen.  The older one, well you know...he has a few dislikes. I came across this recipe while looking through my Whole Foods Recipes app, I have a tendency to browse food apps during various down times. But I looked at the ingredients and there are a couple that my husband doesn't care for, but oh well. I know he likes (or at least doesn't mind) the main ingredients so I thought I would give it a go. (Needless to say, he isn't overly excited to try it.)  I mean come on, it a kugel, a baked pasta what is not to like. So for those who don't know, a kugel is a Jewish casserole that is traditionally made with egg noodles, it can also be made with potatoes or other vegetables, served as a side dish or like in my case the main dish with a salad or other vegetable.

This weekend my son and I went to our first farmers market of the season, and he made sure to sample everyone's strawberries and snap peas.  There were a lot of people selling greens, so I picked up a really nice bunch of kale from one of the local farmers.  (I also made some kale chips, but that is a whole other story.) I must admit that even though I added this recipe to my "favorites" is wasn't until I saw the kale that I decided that I would actually make this, that and the mushrooms looked good at the store. (We also bought the strawberries that were used in the Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream that I posted earlier.)

I didn't stray from the original recipe much other than halving it, since I didn't want to get stuck eating kugel for the next week because the boys didn't like it.  I did add parmesan cheese and a little pit of panko breading on the top.  I put this together the night before so my husband could just put it in the oven when he got home, I would think you could probably even make it ahead and freeze (if you aren't weird about freezing dairy, I know some people are.) Anyway here it is...

Mushroom Kale Noodle Kugel
(adapted from Whole Foods)

Serves 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (16 oz) package wide egg noodles
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced (I used some of both)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 cups cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch dish; set aside. Cook noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse and drain again; transfer to a large bowl. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Add mushrooms, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook until mushrooms are very tender, 8-10 minutes. Stir in kale and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes; add thyme. Add to noodles, toss and set aside.  Whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, remaining salt and parmesan cheese. Fold into noodles. Transfer to prepared dish, press down gently, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until lightly browned, about 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*This would be really good with spinach also, next time I would make sure to use small curd cottage cheese and I think I would even add one more egg.  I could have eaten the whole dish, my son ate most of the noodles, he wasn't too sure of the kale. My husband, well if he was my son he wouldn't get any ice cream.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Finding a good dairy free ice cream isn't too hard to find, I have always been fond of Rice Dream, but since I now have my own ice cream maker I decided that I wanted to make my own.  I thought of all the dairy free milks out there now and decided that almond and coconut would probably make a for good flavor.  Yes, soy and rice would be good too but I was looking for something just a little different. I settled on coconut.  I debated if I was just going to do straight coconut or add some fruit. Since strawberries are in season right now, it just seemed like a good pairing.
This is such an easy recipe, you could use the coconut milk in the dairy section but I used the canned because there isn't much more added to the milk. Honestly I didn't even look at the ingredients in the refrigerated version but I am sure there is at least sweeteners added.

The recipe:

2 cans coconut milk, full fat (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Mix the milk and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. (I mixed together and then placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours for the sugar to really dissolved, then stirred again) Mix in strawberries and coconut.  Add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions.  The ice cream is still very soft right out of the machine, so transfer to a container and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

OK so I had to look it up...

Here is the nutritional information for Silk Pure Coconut Milk and Taste of Thai Coconut Milk, I used Taste of Thai.  Taste of Thai is not as healthy, but is is the full fat version (comparable to 2% regular milk), if you were to buy the Lite Version it only has 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Silk is a lower fat version with some extras added.

<><> <><>
Taste of Thai Coconut Milk
Nutrition Facts
SERVING SIZE: 1/3 cup (80ml)
SERVINGS: 5 per container
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 120
Calories from Fat: 100
%Daily Value*
Total Fat: 11 g 17 %
Saturated Fat 10 g
49 %
Trans Fat 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 25 mg1 %
Total Carbohydrates 2 g1 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g
0 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A0 %
Vitamin C0 %
Calcium0 %
Iron4 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients: Coconut, water, guar gum (a stabilizer).
Allergens:Contains coconut.
Shake Well Before Using. Any Solids Will Liquefy During Cooking. Store Any Unused Portions In Airtight Plastic Container In Refrigerator Up To 10 Days; In Freezer Up To 3 Months.

Silk Pure Coconut Milk

Friday, May 11, 2012

Going Green: My Re-Pac Review

Just like a lot of other people out there I have been trying to be a little more green.  My most recent dilemma has been realizing how may plastic bags I go through a week with lunches.  I started trying to save some of the bags to reuse, but that didn't work very well.  So...when a Living Social deal came up for Re-Pac bags, I jumped at the deal.  I was able to get 4 reusable bags for the price of two.

They are great! They are lined with a water resistant fabric, and are able to be washed in the washer, dishwasher or you can just wipe clean by hand.  I wouldn't put really wet items in the bags because depending on how long it sits juices may start to seep through the fabric. But so far I really like them.  I did put them though the wash today and they held up great, I did not put them in the dryer.

I bought two sandwich size and two snack size bags. (Yes, my lunch bag says Cat Food, and the day I took this picture I didn't make a sandwich because I was meeting with my mom.)  I also make a lot of wraps, and those I still wrap up in either foil or plastic wrap, although I try to use the foil because I am more likely to use that again.

But anyway...I would give these 4.5 stars out of 5 and would highly recommend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mulligatawny Soup

This recipe is from a fellow food lover friend; when he made it awhile ago he let me taste a little. Lately I have been craving it, so I made it.  I made a few adjustments more because of what I had on hand.  I thought the result was good, but I will need to take some to my friend to see what he thinks.  So here it is...

Mulligatawny Soup

4 cloves of garlic
1 piece of ginger (about 1 1/2 inches long), minced
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
1-1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
7 cups chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium rib of celery, roughly chopped
1 medium banana, or potato

Place 2 peeled whole garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons of ginger with the water in a blender, blend until smooth. Leave in blender and set aside.

Heat butter, over medium heat in a large dutch oven, until it starts to foam.  Add onion and tomato paste. Stirring frequently, until onions are soft and starting to brown. Stir in coconut, continue cooking until the coconut is fragrant.

Add minced garlic, remaining ginger, curry powder, cumin, cayenne and flour until combined. Whisking constantly, gradually add broth.

Add carrots, celery and banana (or potato). Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Cover reduce to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

In the blender with the garlic and ginger, puree soup, in batches, until smooth.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

*I only had sweetened coconut, so I used it but opted to use the potato instead of the banana so it wouldn't be too sweet (and it was not too sweet).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Banana Chip Muffins (Vegan)

It seems as if we buy bananas at every trip to the grocery store, we usually eat them all but there are times when we have other fruit that needs to be eaten as well, which in turn leaves uneaten over ripe bananas. In our house once they are super yellow they are too ripe and if there are spots, forget it! I am always looking for something different to make with over ripe bananas, and because I seem to be on this dairy free, vegetarian kick, I am also looking for recipes that fit those catorgories. (Side note: I never throw out over ripe bananas, if I can't use them I freeze them for later.)  Since I made banana bread last time, I decided on a muffin.  This muffin ended up having more of a cake consistancy than a muffin one so it makes it even better.

Banana Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large ripe bananas. mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup carob chips
Cinnamon Sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat the ovon to 350 degrees, prepare muffin pan with paper liners or cooking spray.

Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together and set aside.  In a large bowl,  mix the bananas, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined. Fold in the carob chips.

Fill muffin pan about 3/4 full, decorate with a slice of banana and/or cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adventures in Training #6: April Recap & May Goals

Well this month wasn't too bad, the house hold was sick for a week that caused delay and because of the hospital opening I was on-call to pick up Thomas one week.  We only made one Wednesday of "running" this week (and we didn't run) but because we both need to get our butts in gear hopefully next month will be better. My first 5K of the year is May 5th, and honestly I don't feel ready (more about that in the May recap.) If you are interested in joining me on the 5th here is the information: The Law Enforcement Torch Run to support the Special Olympics

The Law Enforcement Torch Run History

Anyway, half way through the month I switched up my eating to eat more protein, but less meat. And all in all it seems to be going well.  I feel less hungry through out the day and after my workouts.  I eat breakfast, then a snack around 10ish, lunch around 12, a snack around 2ish, then dinner when I get home. The afternoon snack really helps, and I am still staying at or under my calorie goal. 

Now for May!  I changed up my lunch time routine to include either the treadmill or elliptical and I am going to continue to do that.  What needs to happen however is the biking, I am not 100% comfortable on a bike yet and I only rode twice this past month.  I need to start riding more often, find a local club or something.  I need to switch my focus to riding, I know I can swim and run (walk if need be) but riding is something I really need to get comfortable with.  So I guess you can say my biggest goal this month is to get on my bike more!

My April Notes:

4/1 - my bike was fitted today, by the wonderful Gramski! We rode around the school parking lot and down the road a ways to make sure it felt right. I surprised how comfortable I felt on it, I was really worried about my balance. I do however understand the need for padded bike shorts.

4/2 - swim day! I am starting to really look forward to my workouts. The ones in the middle of the day are nice, it really breaks the day up. On to the workout... 700 in 20. (someone hung their towel right next to mine, same color same brand about the same wear...let's hope I chose wisely)

4/4 - 3 mile brisk walk

4/5 - I did it! 800 meters in 25 min.

4/7 - rode almost 3.5 miles. It was really windy. I have a long way to go with the bike.

(4/8-4/16 off due to family and self being sick)

4/17 - after a week off, and even though I have a lingering cough, I decided I needed to get back into it. So today I went to the gym and did a half hour on the elliptical. Felt really good, I really needed a sweat!

4/19 - (our run yesterday was rained out) today I either swam an 800 or 900, I lost count. I hope I did a 9 but oh well.

4/20 - 25 min on the elliptical.(I am going to try to swim on Tuesday's and Thursday's and do the elliptical or run Monday Wednesday and Fridays, at least until my first race on the 5th)

4/23 - forgot my flip flops so I didn't go to the gym, I just couldn't bring myself to touch the floor with my bare feet. I did do some light cardio when I got home. (Side note: this week ended up being a really bad week for exercise, I didn't go to the gym at all because I was on call to pick up Thomas so I had every intention on doing something at home but if it got past 8:30 it was nixed, and well you will see the rest...)

4/24 - had an in-house training at work so once again not able to make it to the gym. Did a kick boxing video, 30 mins of high impact.

4/30 -  did 25 minutes on the elliptical.