Monday, April 27, 2009

Angela has a good point about balance. I don't want to scare anyone with that responsibility post! There is a whole world of things I don't know and I agree that trying your best with what you do know is the key. I fear though, health education aside that our culture leans on the trust side instead of the thinking side. I'm not sure I really know many people personally like this I have just seen it culturally. By trust side I mean just going with what you leaned in school as a kid and what you hear on the news. But I want to help change the way you think about food. So you can look at a dish or ingredient objectively and draw a conclusion on it based on more logic then just what you know food wise. Like maybe adding in some ideas about people in other parts of the world, people in other time periods in history, what the food looks like or the ingredients sound like. I was thinking about this today because I was wondering about my own hypocrisy. My son is 2 and a half and I will absolutely not let him have candy. But I will let him share a donut... I was trying to decide tonight... why? I finally realized that to me a donut looks like food. Let's disregard for a moment that they are terrible for you. It is bread, sugar, and chocolate (I'm talking about bakery donuts...not from a package). Okay I can handle those ingredients... I can make that at home if I wanted to. But I cannot make a gummy worm or peppermint candy at home. I have no idea what kind of chemical composition and work made this thing... it doesn't look like food.
In my opionion if you are reading this blog than you probably don't fall into the catagory of people who are acting irresponsibly with thier diet, consequences and all. I also doubt that those reading fall into the category of faithful followers of health trends.
As for:
What health/food change that you have made would you say has made the biggest impact?
Personally, ditching the daily meat and throwing out the milk and all things canned changed my diet, body and health the most. At that time my son wasn't eating solid food so I was mostly eating flat bread sandwhiches, nuts, and steel cut oatmeal. As he started growing into a little boy and requiring breakfast, lunch and dinner I started learning how to use whole wheat flour and honey or agave nectar instead of sugar, to cook things that resemble your average meal type thing. Does that make sense??
So my advice to a busy family. Frozen fruits and veggies I am totally down with. A frozen peach looks and tastes like a peach so I'm okay with that. And get new recipes. I check out cookbooks from the library and I have never had a problem finding "cream of mushroom soup" in a mediterranean, vegetarian or vegan cookbook. The latter two have the most creative recipes and you can always add meat back in! At the risk of sounding like a PBS commercial... Look for these at your local library: How It All Vegan! by Sarah Kramer, Vegan With a Vengence by Isa Chand Moskowitz, The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook by Don Colbert, and I just returned on that I took a lot of recipes from called The Ethnic Vegetarian but I don't remember who wrote it.

Some normal things made healthy:

Apple Muffins
3/4 cup ww flour
3/4 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped apples (like 2 apples)
1/8 cup milled flax seed
1/2 cup olive oil

by the way if you don't have flax seed, up the oil to 3/4 cup.
Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Combine the rest until creamy in a different bowl. Add the dry until just blended. Fold in apples. Fill tins Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Oh here is the perfect pancake recipe...
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBL honey
3 TBl olive oil
1 cup yogurt <-- lately I have been doing half yogurt half water, just because)
2 Large eggs
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the honey and oil. Add the yogurt and egg - beat a little. Add the dry ingredients. As I learned recently, let the mixture sit for abuot 10 minutes before you start plopping them on the skillet. That lets the gluten develop and you'll have fluffier pancakes.
I usually substitute some millet flax seed instead of some of the oil - it says on the side of the box the ratio.
I also like to mash up a winter squash or sweet potato and add them to the mixture usually with 1/2 TBL more honey and a bit of cinnamon.

Friday, April 24, 2009


It's yours. We have responsibility for so many things in our life. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our families to take care of ourselves. I was pondering this while listening to Paula Dean talk about a hamburger patty in between two jelly filled donuts.
Would you take year old medicine, drive into on coming traffic (don't answer that Amber), walk in dark dangerous allies alone unarmed... would you drink kitchen cleaner if it tasted like chocolate or would you eat those dishwasher jet balls if it made you feel good? Of course not. Then why on a daily basis would you buy and eat things that contain ingredients that knowingly cause: cancer, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, depression, headaches... should I go on?
I think maybe we feel like food and medical issues aren't related and those things just "happen" or come with age. This world is fully of literature both anecdotal and medical that prove otherwise.
Don't freak out. I too like to get white shells pasta-roni, Sam's choice frozen pizzas (the real big ones that cost as much as the little puny ones in the frozen aisle) and cheesecake from the cheesecake factory periodically. But that's the key, periodically. If you can make responsible choices throughout your week then you can partake in some things that are out of that relm without much (if any) impact on your health.
Now I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know so here is the kicker. Most of today's eaters make choices under the assumtion that they are responible choices but further research would prove otherwise. For example... if yogurt is sweet in any way out of that container it has a sweetener in it... sugar, aspertame or splenda. (by the way these links where the first to come up on google search). Cream of mushroom soup... are you serious??!! Low fat or not I think I'll steer clear of it's monosodium glutamate and modified food starch among other things. Okay how about gelatin. Gelatin comes from animal skin and bones - this is not a hidden fact: Wikipedia and How Stuff Works. Just because some people in labs can extract it, add it to other chemical ingredients and shape it as a gummi bear, marshmallow, jello, ice-cream, pudding, ham and fruit snacks makes it unharmful and less nasty to EAT. I've even heard it said that doctors reccommend jello after surgerys and such because it is a healthy alternative to ice-cream. Let's think about this water, sugar, food coloring and animal skin/bones.... sounds like something my body would not recognize as food... ah edible non-food.
How about I end with a recipe that sounds kind gross (because I hate cabbage and apple cider vinegar) but is actually delicous. We like to put some avocado, sprouts and tomato on a sandwich and them pile this mixture on... my 2 year old can't get enough of it, we eat it almost every day. (Source: raw-licious cookbook).
Sweet Cabbage Delight
1 medium head of cabbage (grated)
3 carrots (grated)
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp oregano
3 TBSP agave nectar (raw) or use honey
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Put the cabbage, water and salt in a bowl and let set for about 20 minutes. Drain the cabbage (I have skipped this step before and it came out just fine). Mix the remaining ingredients and chill in the fridge overnight.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The long awaited

Alright... what to wrap those tortillas around!
Lentil Burritos
First of all you have to know that this isn't a sensitive recipe. Approximations are fine and experimentation is encouraged!
1/2 cup dry lentils
3/4 cup dry brown rice
1/2 can tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
1 2/3 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
I add: onions (maybe 1 small), garlic (3 or 4 cloves) and red pepper (dice like 1/4th of the pepper or so)
Plain Yogurt

Alright, cook up the lentils and the rice separately in water. Saute up your veggies in a bit of canola oil. Once you have those cooked mix all these ingredients into a bowl - well save the cheese out, add that to each burrito individually and sprinkle some on top. Put some mix into a tortilla add some cheese wrap it up and put it into a casserole dish. Keep going until you run out. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Mine ALWAYS taste better when I don't take them out early.

Next up in my mind is: why salt is really good for you... and some new recipes I have tried and loved in the past few weeks. Stay tuned

Saturday, April 18, 2009

An Ode to Garlic

Now I don't think I grew up really thinking much about garlic. I'm not sure my parents used it fresh for cooking and I never really had a taste for it. Interestingly though as you start to change the way you eat your tastes preferences change and now it is almost a game to see how much garlic I can put into... everything.
Let's start with the fact that garlic has medicinal properties recognized by the Israelites, Chinese, Japanese (who made medicine from it to fight the flu) and Romans (to name a few). It says in What Would Jesus Eat that it was used as an antiseptic in both world wars. It's antibiotic properties come from it's smell. It's an antioxidant... big word in today's news... cancer killer. Wikipedia says it helps to cure/prevent heart disease, regulate blood sugar levels, speeds up the recovery of strep throat, it's an antimicrobial and prevents the growth of all kinds of nasty things in your body such as tumors.
Okay and then the nutrients: Vitamins A,B,B2 and C, protein, potassium, calcium and name a few. It's got folate which is tough to get and good for pregnant mommas. It's got a whole list of phytochemicals but I don't know what they mean and if you do by all means check it out!
Cooking garlic reduces it's vitamin/mineral content so you can just throw garlic salt or garlic powder out the window (literally). [Besides after hearing about my Gramma's job in an onion factory where here job was picking the dead rats, hammers and nails out of the dried onions before they were turned into onion powder I've pretty well steered clear of all kinds of dried produts I can easily get fresh]. Now you can eat a clove raw each day like my husband (blech!) OR just put it in last when sauteing so it cooks for less time. The only way I have found that I can get garlic into my body raw is by making hummus.
1/2 - 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup tahini (I add more than that)
1 TBL olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon (1 1/2 TBL lemon juice)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain them, add fresh water and cook in a sauce pan for a couple hours (depending on how much you made - they will be fairly tender when done). Puree the chickpeas, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and cumin (now once I accidentally grabbed the cinnamon... that was interesting) in a blender or food processor. I like to add some of the cooking water from the beans, it gives the hummus a smoother texture. Take all this out of the blender, place into a bowl then stir in tahini. Now you can adjust whatever you need to make it taste the way you like it. Get some crackers, carrots, celery, or a spoon and enjoy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Now, we are sticklers at our house for whole wheat stuff...except for tortillas. A whole wheat tortilla recipe so far to me tastes like flat bread... and if I'm wrapping them around lentil and rice burritos a little white flour isn't going to hurt! I do usually substitute one fourth of the flour measurement with chapatti flour (atta flour or durum wheat) you could use chickpea flour if you can find it. Now I really shouldn't be starting with this recipe because it has a few other things that I don't normally use in baking because of health reasons but que sera sera.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp canola oil (I wouldn't sub in olive oil... I tried it, it made olivey tortillas)
3/4 cup warm milk (I mix up some dry milk powder)
*optional - 1 tsp gluten*

Mix the ingredients together, slowly adding the milk as the last ingredient. Stir into a loose sticky ball. Knead this dough for about 2 minutes making any adjustments you might need to. Put into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 20 minutes. Divide into 6 or 8 tortillas (depending on the size of tortilla you need). Roll them into balls and let them rest covered on the counter for 10 minutes. Roll each tortilla out one at a time and put them on a hot dry skillet (they should only cook about 30 seconds each - and they ought to bubble up like the picture pretty quickly).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just say no to edible non-food

One of my biggest annoyances in this society is the lack of critical thinking. I mean if you stop someone on the street and ask, "why do you do this?" I'm going with 9 times out of 10 you will hear back, "I don't know, I just do". Let's change the question… "why you do eat that", "where does your food come from?". Are the answers, "because it tastes good" or "I don't know" acceptable to you? Not to me, first and foremost we have to understand that the purpose of food is to give our bodies energy to survive. That said, I am by no means suggesting that social eating and enjoyment should be banished. But, how did it become less of a celebration and special occasion type thing to indulge in tasty morsels and more of an inherent right of daily life? Does the fact that mega corporations and the food industry have noticed this fact and done everything in their power to make sure you are coming back for more of their products. I heard a piece on National Public Radio once about the edible non-food phenomenon. I mean, what exactly is that yellow powdery stuff inside the macaroni and cheese box? Just because Kraft says that it is edible means that it is food… and not just food, but the primary source of energy in a child's lunch?

~ All right, it's hard. First things first, you have to change your attitude about food. You have to change the fact that you have no idea WHAT is going into your body: WHERE it came from and what it is made out of. You can help yourself by becoming informed. At least then if you still want to eat a chocolate donut (like I occasionally do) then by all means do so with full knowledge and responsibility. Here are some books to try on for size: What Would Jesus Eat by Don Culbert M.D. and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan

~ Second of all, learn how to cook again. I don't mean this dump in ingredients type cooking. Cook something you can be proud of, cook something that didn't start out in a box with 3 easy directions. Trust me it's hard, trust me it's fun and trust me again when I say, it's addicting… pretty soon you'll be making your own tortillas before you even start to assemble the burritos. (which reminds me I outta make that my next post).

~ Third of all, become a recipe researcher. Learn how to find recipes using the ingredients that are healthy, if you don't particularly like lentils how about a lentil burger patty with tons of other ingredients hidden away in a pita pocket with your favorite toppings on it (recipe coming soon). Hit your local library, check online, ask your friends, make something up… just get in there and start getting dirty! I'm sure I have much more to say but that can save for another day ;)