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Posts from the ‘Health’ Category

Simple Homemade Applesauce (Unsweetened)

This is my super-simple applesauce recipe…  Really, it couldn’t be easier. With less than 10 minutes of hands-on time, there is NO reason not to make this. Immediately.

(Full-disclosure – this recipe requires a slow-cooker/crock-pot).

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Ingredients:

9 medium apples of your choice (preferably NOT Granny Smith – too sour!)

2 large lemons, juiced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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With so few ingredients, it is easy to double or even triple this recipe (just make sure your slow-cooker is large enough!). For a batch and a half, I use this red 4-quart slow-cooker with no problem. If I was going to make a double or triple batch, I would move up to my 6-quart cooker.

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This is an unsweetened applesauce, and Tristan and I both love the taste. The combination of the vanilla extract and the cinnamon actually makes it taste a wee bit sweet, I believe.

Directions:

Wash your apples, but don’t worry about peeling them.

Core the apples, using the cheat-method like me – cut all four “cheeks” off the sides of the apple, leaving the core intact ( and ta-da! a cored apple).

Slice or chop your apples into large chunks. (you certainly don’t need to waste your time being precious about the size or shape – it doesn’t matter at all).

Plop the apple slices into the slow-cooker, add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and sprinkle in the cinnamon.

Put the lid on, and set your cooker to LOW.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours, and enjoy the most amazing smelling kitchen during this time!

Once your apples are soft and juicy, mash with a potato masher, to achieve the applesauce consistency you desire.

Then, if you’re like me – whip out the immersion blender and go to town. It doesn’t take long. The skins blend right up, giving the applesauce a lovely hue, and TASTE!

I for one, don’t like the mouth-feel of cooked apple skins (eww), but I want the nutritional benefits of the skin. (And let’s be honest – I don’t want to peel that many apples, either!). So, I found a way to leave the skin on, while ending up with a smooth final product…  blending!

I use my Cuisinart immersion blender, but you could certainly blend the cooked apples up a blender, (working in batches), as well. Or, if you don’t have issues with cooked apple skins separating from the apple bits (again – ewww), just stop at the mashing step.

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We keep this in the refrigerator for about a week… IF it lasts that long. A week is about my standard time-frame for food safety and freshness, when it comes to home-cooking, it seems. This applesauce also freezes well, if that’s your thing.

Enjoy!

~

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

On my own for dinner last night, I decided to make my house smell like curry!

While perusing the fridge, and checking out my “must make” recipe list from my favorite blogs, I happened upon a head of cauliflower. Thus, Mama Pea’s Cracklin’ Cauliflower BEGGED to be made. This has been on my radar for quite some time (January!), but I never managed to have cauliflower at just the right time to make it. I love anything even remotely Indian-flavored, so I was pretty certain it was going to be a winner.

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I have a killer Indian Spiced Roasted Chickpea recipe that I make often, so I made a batch of that as well, and threw some on top along with some Greek yogurt. (I also snacked quite a bit on the chick peas, as they were out of the oven first, while I was waiting on the cauliflower. I could eat the whole batch of chick peas). Y.U.M.

This is a nice, mildly spiced dish… I made it pretty much per instructions, aside from the fact that I left out the ginger because I didn’t have any. Nor did I venture out in the wicked storm to pluck some fresh cilantro from my garden. Next time I would probably bump the onions up quite a bit, as you can’t go wrong with more cooked onions. Mmm. Brilliant!

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Cracklin’ Cauliflower  (lightly adapted from Peas and Thank You)

2 servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. garam masala
  • 1 small chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut cauliflower into florets, wash and pat dry.

Put florets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, to coat.

Add salt, curry, and garam masala, stir to coat.

Add onion, garlic, peas and lemon juice.

Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if necessary.

Pour mixture into a baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.

Garnish with fresh cilantro (if using) and serve.

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For me, this was dinner last night and lunch today… (along with the roasted chickpeas and Greek yogurt topper). My belly is happy.

~

Cooking up and taking down…

Now that I’m amongst the land of the living again, I have been enjoying some pretty flowers…

spring flowers

… playtime outside with puppies…

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Tug of wubba

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They never stop!

… and being a busy bee in my kitchen…

Granola (of course!)… I make a big batch of this every 3-4 weeks.

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Spiced Vanilla Granola

English muffins… I make several batches of these at a time, split them and freeze them for easy breakfast and snacks. They are so wonderfully delicious! English muffins are something that I’ve really missed since cutting processed food out. I am so happy to be able to make my own whole-grain English muffins with minimal ingredients.

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Whole-grain English Muffins

Coconut Butter! This is so easy, it is ridiculous. Really. And, this 8 oz jar only cost me $2.79, to make.

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Coconut Butter

My favorite Almond Butter!! It was definitely time to make more! We’ll see how long this jar lasts. 🙂

jar of heaven

Heaven in a jar

Simple Broccoli salad with yogurt dressing…

brocc salad

Fresh broccoli salad with yogurt dressing

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins…

pumpkin carrot muffin

How could you go wrong with this?

Emily’s Vegetable Masala burgers

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Delicious with avocado on top!

Collards. Lots of collards. (My “fall garden” exploded with them, all of a sudden).

collards, spicy

Sweet & Spicy Collards

Panang Curry

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Panang Tofu Curry

Dolsot Bibimbap and Kimchi

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Dolsot Bibimbap

kimchi

Spicy!

And of course… Lilly’s favorite Crunchy Peanut Butter dog treats!

crunchy dog treats

World's greatest (and healthiest) dog treats!

On the cookbook front, I recently purchased Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, and am in love. (shhh, don’t tell Tristan). I’ve made several recipes out of it already… Brothy Vegetable and Lentil Soup (with some modifications), Skillet Tamales (w/local grass fed beef), Refried Black Beans, Arroz Con Pollo – and then some (with local pastured chicken), and Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.  I have dozens more pages bookmarked to try .

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Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

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Lentil Soup

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Skillet Tamales and Refried Black Beans

As for outside of the kitchen, we’ve had a very rainy and chilly week here… Spring? Not so much. I actually love rainy days as a rule, but I have to say – I much prefer the dry days now with Lilly around. Mud sucks. Mud on paws, sucks even more. And mud on my carpet? Don’t get me started.

Also making me long for sunnier days? The fact that our beautiful gazebo took a cartwheeling tumble about a month ago, and now resembles something a 2 year old would make with Tinker Toys, rather than an attractive and useful addition to our backyard.

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Anyone know what to do with 145 lbs of crumpled steel?

We’ve bitten the bullet and purchased a new one (ooh, it’s even bigger!) and can’t wait to put it up. However, it is far too soggy out there right now.

So I’m uncharacteristically ready for the sun. Spring. Not summer. Do you hear me, universe? NOT. Summer.

~

In it to END it

Oops, I did it again.

I am once again a Crew Member for the AVON 2-day Walk for Breast Cancer, in Charlotte.

my crew

My Crew!

I’ve Crewed in Charlotte before, and loved the experience. In 2009 my Mom and I crewed together. We met a lot of great people, and had a fabulous and exhausting weekend. Crewing is a HUGE commitment. We were tired. Very tired. We were wet. We were emotional. We were exhilarated!

As Crew Members (as opposed to walkers), we are not “required” to fundraise… but why on earth wouldn’t I? I want to do all I can to help stamp-out cancer in my lifetime! You can find my fundraising site here, if you are interested. I’ve just gotten started, and have set a very modest goal, but I’d love to surpass it!

There are two big players in the Breast Cancer walk area… AVON being one, and Susan G Komen being the other.

If you’d like to learn more about the Susan G Komen 3-day walks (in different cities from the AVON walks) that are being held around the country this year, please visit my good friend Betsy’s fundraising page. She is participating (as a WALKER! Go Bets!) in the Washington DC event in September. I’m so proud of her, and everyone that does either of these walks. They are intense! I know just how intense, from personal experience.

I participated in a 3-day walk with AVON about 10 years ago. We walked 60 MILES  from Kenosha, WI to Chicago, IL. In June. Wind, rain and lots of heat… that’s what I remember. I chose to participate in the Chicago walk partially because Illinois is my home state. It is also where my Gram lives, who is an 18-year breast cancer survivor! (She is also a colon cancer survivor. She is amazing). I do everything at these events in her honor.

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The tower of names. Opening Ceremony, Charlotte

 

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My Mom and I getting into the 'Mardi Gras' theme spirit!

 I’m not sure if my Mom is going to sign up to Crew again this year, or not. But as for me? I’m in it to END it.

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Closing Ceremony, Charlotte

 

I’m looking forward to October already!

~

Mickey D’s is at it again…

I love Mark Bittman.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/how-to-make-oatmeal-wrong/

Love.

If you don’t read his column(s) and blog, you should start immediately.

~

Forks Over Knives

I just purchased my tickets to a screening of Forks Over Knives.
You can learn more about the movie here, which is based on The China Study, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
I am not a vegan, but I do try to eat a mostly plant-based diet… and I think that this film has the potential to be very interesting.

Here in Charlotte it is being screened on Saturday Feb. 5th – and you can purchase tickets for $5 each, here.

Or, check out the official website to see if it is going to be screened near you, before opening in theaters in March.

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We all make mistakes

And I sure made a doozy of one this morning.

I started drinking “Green Monsters” at the start of the new year. I have known about them for a long time, but just never got around to putting spinach in my smoothies. Well, I’m hooked on my version of a “Classic Green Monster” now, and have been drinking one just about every morning for a couple of weeks. However, this morning I work up feeling the tiniest *start* of a cold coming on (the kids I work with have been sniffling and coughing for almost a month now!), and I wanted to try to up the vitamin content of my GM. Enter a packet of Amazing Grass Choco Superfood. In the interest of full disclosure – I have tried this before in chocolate milk, and it was very tolerable. I won’t say that I loved it or anything. But tolerable, yes. More so than I expected. However, putting the packet into my morning GM – BIG MISTAKE. It tastes just awful. I have been sipping on it all morning, off and on, trying to get it down. It tastes like I am sucking on a multi-vitamin!

I’m going to finish it. I’ll be damned if I am going to waste it – and hey, it’s part of my breakfast and I don’t have any other options now. But… blergh. I WON’T be making that mistake again.

Into the blender it goes...

Angie’s Green Monster

1 heaping TBSP of Flax Meal
1 c. 2% organic milk
2 c. baby spinach (raw, and tightly packed)
1 frozen banana
handful of ice cubes

Blend your little heart out, and drink up. It’s quite tasty. Honestly. Just leave out the Superfood.

SUCH a pretty green color!

 

 

Green Monster, on the go

Resolution-type things…

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions per se, but I am a compulsive list-maker and there are ALWAYS things on my “To Do” list. I seem to have a myriad of things swirling around in my brain, at all times. If I don’t commit things to paper  – BIG and small – fugetaboutit! Here are a few things that I have commited to paper, in regard to the New Year.

  • At the start of the New Year, we always decide where we are going to travel (internationally) that year. (I have to use my passport at least once a year or I start to get twitchy!). This year however, we have made a commitment to each other to save more money this year – for big, exciting things that we have planned on the horizon. We are still going to travel, oh yes indeed, but for the first three-quarters of this New Year, we are planning on doing things on a slightly smaller scale. I’m still going to see if we can get out of the country come fall, but nothing is decided yet. However, a visit back to Asheville (where we met and fell in love) is definitely first up in our book this year. With Beech Mountain, NC;  Washington D.C.; and New Orleans topping the list for our more localized travel this year.  In the past couple of years we’ve been all over… New York City (twice), Charleston, Western NY state, San Francisco, Georgia, Illinois, Jamaica and Ireland! 
  •  We are also making the commitment to have a “date night” twice a month. (I think anyone that has been in a long-term relationship/marriage understands this one!). T and I do spend a lot of quality time together, but sometimes we get busy and tired and forget how nice it is to dress up and get out of the house! We’ve made a list of new (or new to us) restaurants in the area that we want to try, and we have 10 on the list thus far. That should take us to May! 
  • I am committed to continuing with my real food/mostly vegetarian way of life.  I still like meat in my meals occasionally, and I don’t think I will ever go back to being 100% vegetarian again; and Tristan, well he was a meat ‘n potatoes guy when we met. He has been SO adventurous in the past year or so, trying new things, and eating a lot of vegetarian meals; but I still try to make meat about once a week for him. He obviously is able to eat meat for lunch during the week, and any time we go out to eat, etc. However, he has come so far in accepting this other way of life. I’m so proud of him! I think I eat meat about 4x/month now, and that works for me. 
  • I am committed to doing my backyard garden bigger and better this year, with the addition of TWO new raised garden beds. It was so much fun (and hard work!) in 2010, that I can’t wait until it’s time to plant my spring crops! 
  • Something that I am still striving for is learning to take more time for myself. I lead such a busy (read: tiring!) life, that I sometimes miss out the small things. Being able to listen to music more often, take a relaxing bath, take a cooking class, etc. are all things I would like to make time for.  I‘m a giver, and what spare time I do have, I tend to “give” away.  I am going to try to give some of that time to myself. 
  • I am working on being more positive on a day-to-day basis. It is really easy these days to slip into a funk and be cranky all day because some jackass cut me off on my way to work, or something.  I’ve always been a bit of a sarcastic pessimist (in a charming way, of course!), but these days it seems I’m often bitching and moaning about something, even if only to myself. I’m a passionate person, (Scorpio all the way!), and have always been feisty… I used to not care what others think of me – but lately, that has changed.  I want to be that feisty, spunky woman again. I seem to have retreated into my shell, but I’m coming back out in 2011!

 

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Couch to 5K!

I have convinced Tristan to start the “Couch to 5k” program with me! This is something that I had heard of a couple of years ago, but the idea of actually doing this program wormed it’s way into my brain this week. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that we HAD to do it!

I don’t consider myself a couch-potato, but I am certainly not a runner! I have never been interested in running – until recently. (I was a shy, rather busty teenager, and I hated P.E. class in high school, and all the running that it required. ALWAYS). However, now that I am in my thirties and have embarked on this new life plan (and have several good sports bras!) … running seems more than mildly interesting. 

Like most ideas and plans that I come up with, I wanted to have started this YESTERDAY! (Impatient? Who? Me?).  I popped on Amazon on Wednesday night and ordered us a stopwatch, that is supposed to arrive today. (Gotta love that Amazon Prime!). 

Tomorrow I am going to download the plan, make note cards and a music mix for us… and then… Sunday, we start!!

 ~

Process of Elimination

rev·o·lu·tion
n.  A sudden, radical, or complete change.

I have started my own personal revolution… a “whole food” revolution.

 I have been preaching the merits of a “whole foods” diet for quite some time. Since I moved back from England, in fact.  I ate a fairly whole foods diet while living there, and I never felt healthier than I did during that time. (That was also during my five-year stint as a vegetarian, I might add). I shopped at my little corner market nearly every day, and often went to Borough Market on Saturday mornings. Of course, it probably helped having Jamie Oliver as a mate! He was a wonderful influence. (Check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.).

However, shortly after Tristan and I moved in together at the end of 2006, I ceased being a vegetarian.  This was a huge change, and one that took some getting used to. Not to mention that I was without a job for about 6 months, and we were on a tight budget.  Fancy organic and vegetarian products were out, and cheapo convenience food was in. Yuck. After those first few months, my diet improved again – but I never really made it back to where I wanted to be. Until now.

So, back to present day… I am eating REAL FOOD.   

To quote Michael Pollan… “Eat food. Not much. Mostly plants”.

This means that I am eating…

  • Whole grains only
  • NOTHING white (rice, flour, etc).
  • Nothing  overly processed.
  • No sugar or fake sugars, (honey and 100% maple syrup  are okay).
  • No junk food, fast food, or convenience food.
  • Lots of fresh fruit, veggies, legumes and tubers.

If it comes in a box, bag or wrapping – it must have less than 5 ingredients, and follow the “nothing white” and “no sugar” rules as well.

I am not really eating much that comes in a package these days… except for… 

  • 100% whole wheat dried pasta
  • Oats
  • Popcorn (air-popped, o’ course)
  • Triscuits (which only contain three ingredients, even in their reduced fat variety! Yay!)
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Larabars (the Cashew Cookie flavor, only has TWO ingredients!)
  • Organic/all natural dairy products… milk, real butter, eggs, plain greek yogurt, cheese, etc. (2% or full-fat only, as nonfat products have many fillers and additives).
  • Beer and wine (mostly wine).

I am aiming to eat vegetarian for all breakfast and lunches during the week… and am only cooking meat (organic, definitely – and local, when possible) and seafood a few times a week for dinner.

 Needless to say with all of these “rules”, I am cooking A LOT.  

I’m now making my own pizza dough (whole wheat/flax), granola, applesauce, hummus, pancakes and waffles (100% whole wheat, from scratch – no mixes here!), etc.

Next up I’m going to tackle homemade granola bars with unsweetened/unsulphured/non-sorbate dried fruit, and homemade whole wheat tortillas.

I am excited about all of these changes. Tristan is a good sport, and is on board for any and all meals I will be making for us. He is enjoying my “whole foods”, but I know he is not following my lead for breakfast and lunch during the week (which we do not eat together). That’s okay. I’m not trying to change him, though I do want to him to eat healthier for his own good and our future – and am just happy that he enjoys all of my cooking.  He is helping in the kitchen more and more, and now prides himself on his herb “mincing” skills.

When we head to Jamaica this fall, I will throw all of my rules out the window for that one week. I’m not a saint, after all. I will lay back, and enjoy all of the exotic and wonderful native dishes that our personal chef will be cooking for us. And I will enjoy them!! Eating like a local is one of my travel goals… (It always amazes me to see Americans travel all the way to Europe, only to head straight for the first McDonald’s they see. But that’s another blog for another day).

~

* To learn more about this food movement, check out:

Michael Pollan’s books

Food, Inc. (a documentary film)