Category Archives: Food & Recipes

No Free Lunch

Standard

Are you willing to spend more money to purchase better quality food?  Do you find a difference in quality of food at organic/health stores (i.e., Whole Foods) versus your local chain grocery store (i.e., Pathmark, ShopRite, Kroger, Ralph’s, Safeway)?

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Standard

Ahhhh, autumn.  Pumpkins and squash and apples, oh my.

I borrowed an idea from Mixxedtape for an oatmeal add-in this morning.  I sautéed an apple with a little bit of olive oil and a lot of cinnamon, stirred some honey into my oatmeal, and mixed the apples in with my morning bowl of oatmeal.

I poured myself a cup of ambition, and enjoyed a yummy, comforting breakfast.

Adventures in Pumpkin

Standard

The local grocery stores have been sold out of canned pumpkin for weeks so, when I finally spotted some yesterday, I loaded up with at least eight cans of the stuff.  I was anxious to use some right away and decided to experiment with pumpkin soup.  I browned a tablespoon of diced yellow onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.

I poured in 3.5 cups (a 29-ounce can) of pumpkin.

I mixed in half a cup of unsweetened applesauce.  I thought it might add some natural sweetness but balance out the pumpkin.

I poured in 1.5 cups of vegetable stock, added a dash of nutmeg, and dumped probably a tablespoon of cinnamon in it.  (I love cinnamon.)  I mixed everything up and let it simmer, covered, on low heat.  (Please–cover, cover, cover your pumpkin or you will quickly have a pumpkin-colored kitchen!)  There was no need to use a blender–I just poured a bit into a bowl and garnished it with roasted pumpkin seeds.

It was…okay.  It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t knocked out by it.  I definitely should’ve chopped up the onions a little finer.  Other than that, I’m not sure what I should’ve done to give it more flavor.  Left out the applesauce?  Added a tablespoon of maple syrup?  Added cream?  I don’t know.

What do you use in your pumpkin soup?

Going Blog Wild

Standard

There’s a “pay it forward” movement among the blogging world.  A lot of bloggers who write about similar interests feel a real kinship with one another, and we try to support each other.  In that vein, I’d like to share some of my blogging friends with you:

  • homemadeadventure:  A young woman balances medical school with travel, running, and healthy eating in the Boston area.
  • A Curvy Girl Running:  She had an idea to run a 5K, and now she’s training for half-marathons.
  • Love Eat Run:  This Baltimore girl loves to run, cook healthy, run (yeah, that much), and cheer on the Ravens.
  • A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That:  Boot camp, hot yoga, intense gym sessions–there’s nothing this Toronto woman can’t do.
  • IT’S SCANDELICIOUS:  Her dad’s weight-related health issues inspired her to make major changes in her life and join Overeaters Anonymous.
  • What Would Cathy Eat?:  Major health issues forced Cathy to change her diet habits, but she does it with flavor.

I hope you visit and enjoy their sites.  There are a lot of great bloggers out there, and I hope to share more of them with you in the future.  And I hope you pass the love forward!

Curried Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup

Standard

Hubby loves spicy food.  I just got an immersion blender.  How do we marry the two?  With curried sweet potato and carrot soup!

I peeled and cut up 3 organic sweet potatoes, along with 4 (skinny) organic carrots.

The pan heated up with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil while I prepared and chopped up a couple of tablespoons of leek.

I browned the leek, then added 2 teaspoons of curry, the sweet potatoes, and the carrots.  I mixed everything together and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Then, I poured 3.5 cups of vegetable stock into the pan.

The soup simmered, covered, for about 25 minutes.  Finally, I used the immersion blender to puree the soup.

It was thick with a consistency somewhere between a bisque and mashed potatoes.  Hubby loved the curry and thought it really gave a punch to the sweet potatoes and carrots.  It was tasty and very filling.  We each had a bowl, and there was enough left over for at least 2 more bowls.

Sing For Your Supper

Standard

 

If you’re not much of a cook, or you’re new to preparing healthy foods, spending time in the kitchen can be daunting.  I like to turn my cooking sessions into mini-parties to get me in the kitchen and keep me there awhile.  Sometimes I enjoy a glass of red wine while I cook, and I listen to a kitchen-inspired playlist on my iPod.  Here are some of my favorite cooking songs:


 
If I Knew You Were Comin’ – Eileen Barton
Everybody Eats When They Come to My House – Cab Calloway
Cornbread and Butter Beans – Carolina Chocolate Drops
Home Grown Tomatoes – Guy Clark
When I Take My Sugar to Tea – Nat “King” Cole
You’re the Cream in My Coffee – Nat “King” Cole
Sugar Dumpling – Sam Cooke
You’ve Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby – Tommy Dorsey
Tea for Two – Benny Goodman
Coffee in the Morning – Terra Hazelton
Hey Sweet Potato – Buddy Johnson
Beans and Cornbread – Louis Jordan
Boogie Woogie Blue Plate – Louis Jordan
Chicken Soup with Rice – Carole King
Peel Me A Grape – Diana Krall
How Do Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning – Dean Martin
Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee – Glenn Miller
It Ain’t The Meat – The Swallows
Sing for Your Supper – Mel Tormé
Shortnin’ Bread – Fats Waller
Hey, Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams

 

What are your favorite food songs?  What gets you in the kitchen and ready to cook?

Ten Weeks Way-In

Standard

I can’t believe it, but I’m already 10 weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’m truly astonished and pleased that I’ve made it this far.  No matter how healthy (or unhealthy) I am right now, it’s quite an accomplishment to stick it out this long considering that my prior attempts lasted maybe 2 months.  Here’s hoping I’ve really developed long-lasting habits.

This past Tuesday, I joined a gym.  I went to the gym 4 times last week and used the treadmill and the weight machines.  (I also did yoga and other things at home.)  I definitely felt it as my muscles have been a bit tight or sore.  Nothing serious, but I wonder if it means I should work out more or less?  In any event, I really killed it on the treadmill and ran a mile in 11:47 on Friday!  Then I ran another mile!  It was a big day for me.  Not only did I run two miles, but I did it in 24:40.  Two months ago, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be able to run two miles, much less at a pace of about 12 minutes per mile.  I followed it up on Saturday by running a mile in 12:21, then I did a cool down for a quarter of a mile and called it a week on the treadmill.  (Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the type to set big fitness goals for myself everyday.  I’m more the type to keep going slow and steady, and then be really surprised when it actually works one day.)

I’m surprised that I’ve been able to maintain the home cooking aspect of my healthy diet.  Last year when I tried a healthy lifestyle, I got frustrated at meal planning and preparation, and ultimately I gave up and went back to pre-packaged junk food.  I think that’s because, last year, I was focused on counting calories, so it was very easy to quickly throw up my hands at the thought of planning meals every day with a certain amount of calories.  It was overwhelming.  Now, I’m focused on eating real, whole foods, and it’s been more of a pleasure exploring new foods and new ways to cook them.  I’m also surprised by how easy it is to prepare a lot of meals with whole ingredients.  (I’m talkin’ to you, soup.)

For this upcoming week, I’d like to tweak my workout at the gym.  I’m kinda afraid of the elliptical machine, so I’d like to tackle that and see if I can handle it for a few minutes.  I’m also kinda afraid of the bikes, just because I’m worried it’ll really mess up my knees, but I’d like to try a bike for at least a couple of minutes.  Finally, I think I need to spend a couple of days doing some restorative yoga.  I feel like I’ve haven’t really devoted much time to truly practicing yoga lately, and the little bit of yoga I’ve done lately has felt rushed.  I need restorative yoga to balance everything out.

What are your health and fitness goals for this week?

Tomato Soup

Standard

I got a new toy:  an immersion blender.  Of course, I had to try it out and make soup.  I decided to make tomato soup for the first time.  First, I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a hot pan, then added 1 chopped clove of garlic and about a teaspoon of chopped onion.  (I’m not a big fan of onions.)

I washed 6 medium-sized, vine-ripened tomatoes and cut each tomato into 8 pieces.  After the onion and garlic browned, I dumped the tomatoes into the pan, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and added bits of fresh thyme.

The whole concoction was covered with 2.5 cups of vegetable stock.

I cooked the soup for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Finally, I used the immersion blender in the pan to puree the tomatoes.  I ladled the soup into a bowl and enjoyed it with a hunk of rosemary olive oil bread.

It was tangy yet smooth, and truly delicious.  I couldn’t believe I actually made something that tasted so good!  I used the bread to sop up the last bits of soup from the bowl.  There was enough for about 4 bowls, so I put the leftovers into a sealed plastic container.  I’m really looking forward to leftovers at lunch!

p.s.  Sorry the photos aren’t the greatest quality.  Seems like I find myself cooking when there’s no natural light in the kitchen.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie With Almond Milk

Standard

Seems like all the cool kids are using almond milk these days, so I decided to try it out for the first time.  Pure almond milk is made from almonds and water, but the packaged store brands usually contain some other ingredients like vitamins and vanilla extract.  Not only is almond milk vegetarian-friendly, but it has no lactose and no cholesterol (a big bonus for me).

I poured 1 cup of almond milk into the blender, along with 1 banana and 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries.

I pulsed the ingredients until smooth.  Voila–smoothie!  So simple, quick, and delicious.  It made the perfect amount for one tall glass, and it was just (naturally) sweet enough for breakfast.

What’s your favorite smoothie recipe?  What’s your favorite almond milk recipe?

Lemon & Goat Cheese Veggies

Standard

I love the combination of lemon juice and goat cheese.  It seems strange to combine the tartness of lemon with the creaminess of goat cheese but, trust me, it works, kinda like lemon pie with a meringue topping.

My latest creation stemmed from running around the kitchen at lunchtime wondering what the heck I was gonna make with the ingredients on hand.  Asparagus?  Tomatoes?  Goat cheese?  Presto–lunch!

I washed the veggies, threw the grape tomatoes into a plastic container, trimmed the woody ends off the asparagus, broke the remaining stems into pieces, and threw the asparagus into the container with about half an inch of water.

I covered the container and microwaved the veggies for about 1.5 minutes (until the tomatoes started to explode, teehee).  I drained most of the water, splashed some lemon juice into the container, and mixed in about a spoonful of goat cheese.  Yum, yum.

This dish also works with pasta.  If you use pasta, drain most of the water from the pasta, add the goat cheese, mix well, then add the lemon juice and veggies.

Quick Hot Cinnamon Dark Chocolate

Standard

There’s a chill in the air which makes me crave warm, soothing drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  I’m eating healthier, but I treat myself once in a while to chocolate, so I wanted to find a healthier hot chocolate.  I tried a hot chocolate experiment at home.

I broke up six pieces of Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate into a mug.  I nuked the mug in the microwave for about a minute.

While “whisking” the chocolate with a fork, I nuked one cup of fat-free milk, in a separate mug, in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes.

I gradually poured the milk into the chocolate mug while whisking.  Halfway through, I whisked in a generous helping of cinnamon.

Although I think it might be a tad tastier with 2% or whole milk, it was still pretty darn tasty.  Dark chocolate gave it depth, and the cinnamon was just the kick to bump it up a notch.

All of this for just 210 calories–which is 30 fewer calories than Swiss Miss Cocoa Indulgent Dark Chocolate Sensation made with fat-free milk!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Standard

‘Tis the season for pumpkins and a nice hot breakfast.  I had a jar of pumpkin spice butter in my pantry and decided to finally put it to good use.

I mixed about a tablespoon of the pumpkin spice butter into my oatmeal.

As usual, I threw in a handful of blueberries.

It was delicious!  It’s amazing what a difference a tablespoon of pumpkin butter made to the oatmeal.  Sweet and spicy and very, very yummy.

Layered Tomatoes & Eggplant

Standard

I tried a variation of homemadeadventure’s scalloped tomatoes using eggplant instead of polenta.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and coated the bottom of a casserole dish with a thin layer of olive oil.  I sliced a small-to-medium-sized eggplant and a couple of tomatoes.  A row of eggplant was laid across the dish, followed by a row of tomatoes, and so on.

I sprinkled salt and pepper over the layers.  The fridge revealed some left over Chavrie goat’s milk cheese and Montchevre goat milk cheddar cheese which I dabbed on the veggies.

I’m a sloppy cook.  I wanted to use balsamic vinegar in this dish.  Did I check to see if I had any before I sliced up the tomatoes and eggplant?  Nope.  Did I have any?  Nope.  So I improvised and used red wine vinegar instead.  I splashed olive oil and red wine vinegar over the dish.

I shredded bits of oregano and sprinkled it over the layers.

I cooked the layered tomatoes and eggplant for 25 minutes.  It wasn’t as pretty as the dish from homemadeadventure, but I enjoyed it.  The goat cheese and vinegar were a nice, tart contrast with the meaty eggplant and fresh tomatoes.