Thursday, November 4, 2010

Here Ya Go, Dianna!


I resisted this idea for a long while because I don't have a Vitamix or Blend Tec blender nor do I have the $900 to purchase one. I have a decent one (Cuisinart) but I doubted whether it could make a green smoothie palatable. Would it be chunky? Would it be slimy? Would I throw up? These were the questions on my heart.

But I am happy to report that an average blender can indeed make a delicious green smoothie that does not induce vomiting or even gagging. Crucial.

Here's what I do...

1. Fill the blender with ice and water (approx. 1/4 of the container)
2. Stuff as much kale, spinach, or other green matter that you can until the blender is about 3/4 of the way full.
3. Add frozen fruit. Definitely banana because it will give you much need sweetness. My children NEVER finish a whole banana anymore. I used to make them chocke it down until I just started collecting the leftovers and tossing them in a baggie in the freezer. If you don't have that problem at your house, you can just peel a whole banana and freeze by itself. I also like frozen berries or peaches. Frozen grapes are good, too. Just whatev.
4. Add some yogurt or kefir if you like. Gives it a little creaminess but it's not essential.
5. Finally, the magic ingredient: orange juice. Especially if kale is your main green, the acidity in the OJ really mellows the strong kale flavor. Unless you like strong kale flavor in which case feel free to omit this step, too.

Blend it all on low at first and then when it has all be processed fairly well, kick it up to high for a few seconds. And then, enjoy RIGHT THEN! A cool, room temp, or warm green smoothie is just BAD. It is pond sludge in a glass. Just say no. If you can't drink it right away, stick in in the fridge until you ar ready for it. I'm not kidding.

This is such a great way to get in a lot of greens in one sitting. I'm not a big salad eater unless the salad is all fancied up with fruit and nuts and gorgonzola. I'll eat a plain salad but I'm way more likely to drink a green smoothie and this way, I get in way more nutrients than a small salad would offer.

(Are you happy now, Dianna?)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

DIY Overpriced Fruit and Nut Bars

Love: A snackbar with very few and very pronouncable ingredients

Don't Love: Paying like a dollar a bar for them

So once again, the fact that most things can be homemade and will taste WAY better and cost WAY less remains true in the case of Larabars. These are my favorites and they are really easy to make as it turns out.

The base of most bars like Larabars are dates and some kind of nut. And then some kind of dried fruit is added. And then they wrap it up and sell for a profit margin of roughly 800%. Yay for Lara. Boo for the rest of us.

So here's what you do if you, like me, enjoy a tasty snackbar and also enjoy being able to pay your electricity bill...

1. Grind up the nut of your choice (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, whatever) in a food processor. I used about 1/3 c. of almonds for the bar pictured above (yes, it has a bite out of it.) I probably could have ground mine a little longer. I think it just depends on how much crunch you want your bar to have.

2. Add about 1/2 c. of dates and whatever dried fruit you want to use (cranberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, you get the idea) to the nuts and continue to pulse them until you get a sticky mixture that holds together fairly well. You can add a tiny amount of water or coconut oil if it isn't holding together well. I put in maybe a tsp. of water and it seemed to do the trick.

3. Form the mixture into a loaf about the length and width and thickness you would like your bars to be. You can do this on a plate or a glass dish. With these measurements, you will have a really small batch--I got about 4 bars out of mine.

4. Refrigerate your bars long enough for them to firm up a little more. Then they should cut easily and you can wrap them individually in wax paper, parchment paper, saran wrap, etc.

I made almond/date/cherry bars. They were pretty crumbly but I think processing the nuts longer will take care of that. They turned out really well--even Asher gave them the "Picky 3 Year Old 2 Thumbs Up" Award.

High praise indeed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

She's Baaaa-aaack! I had a baby. I saw 2 pink lines and everything I knew and embraced about eating cleanly and intentionally went out the window. Oh, and the gym? I basically forgot how to get there.

But I am now the proud mother of another little boy who,quite frankly,was completely worth getting fat for. Oh and I did. I gained my usual amount despite my heartfelt declarations that I WOULD NOT.

So it is what it is. And now I'm ready to jump back into the kind of eating that my body loved. I felt great and I was a size that I felt comfortable being. Again, my mindset will be day-by-day decisions to make good choices that will move me towards my goal. I hope to post my menus here and document my journey back to the land of health. I like it there. And I like fitting into my clothes. Let's be honest--there's nothing quite like walking into a closet full of clothes that are no where near fitting to motivate you.

So here we go...Project No More Elastic Waistbands 3.0 is officially underway!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Monday...on MONDAY!

Actaully posting on Monday...I am something else.

A facebook message from a sweet friend reminded me that I needed to post my menu for the week. Hopefully a few more weeks of this and I can loop back around and finally reap the benefit of this whole menu-planning thing.

But first, I have to mention that this is my first week to cook with the meat I ordered from Fran's Fryers. His animals are well-cared for and are minimally processed with no frightening additives. His prices are really reasonable considering the size of his operation (relatively small) and the quality of the products.

I'm cooking one of the whole chickens I ordered today to use for tonight and tomorrow night's dinner. I'll make stock from the "remains" and use it for Wednesday night's dinner.

Ok, menu for the week...

M--Coucous Chicken Salad with Citrus Dressing (from the book Whole Grains for Busy People--which I love!)
T--Chicken Soft Tacos
W-Pumpkin Black Bean Bake
T-Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
F-Kris is working late--you think I'm cooking? Not happening.

The produce that I have been encountering as of late is not spectacular. I'm looking forward to spring! My big plan is to have our raised boxes built by then and we will grow us some goodness right in our own backyard. Lord willing. Let's hope He is.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Menu Monday...on Wednesday

What's on the menu this week?

Surviving. It's been quite a week. But since ya still gotta eat, here is the plan...

Monday--White Chicken Chili
Tuesday--Jason's Deli
Wednesday--pasta with olive oil and parmesan, chicken, salad, and whatever frozen veggies I can find in the freezer
Thursday--taco salad
Friday--another dinner out, please Dear Lord.

Eating out is my primary love language you know. I can't help it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Menu Monday...on Tuesday

Just for my own personal records, I'm going to start writing out my menus here. If you see any meals that you would like the recipe for, just email or leave a comment and I'll link to them.

Monday--crock pot green beans, new potatoes, and ham; cheddar biscuits
Tuesday--fish tacos (Ellie Kreiger recipe)
Wednesday--white chicken chili
Thursday--parmesan chicken (Real Simple recipe)
Friday--take out!

Notes to self: The boys hated the potatoes but liked the green beans that had no potato on them. Those were hard to come by after spending 8 hours together in a crock pot (the beans, not the boys.) Next time, make them separately as the boys seem to have food-mixing issues.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baking Bread

I wish I could say that my only motivation for baking our bread is the pure joy that slaving away in the kitchen on behalf of my family brings me. That's part of it of course. And the smell--the smell is nice, too. And it's cheaper. Again, bonus.

But if I get right down to it, the reason I love to make our bread is because I feel like I'm stickin' (that's right--stickin'--a "g" would be inappropriate here) it to the industrial bread people and their industrial chemicals and their industrial little nutrition fact box that would lead me to believe that what I could purchase from them is actually bread. As Michael Pollan puts it, if not for the indulgence of the FDA, what is sold in those long plastic bags and twist-tied closed could not be truthfully labled so.

Not that the higher-ups at Mrs. Bairds or Orowheat are sitting at a conference table right now trying to figure out how to minimize the "Jamie Effect," but I like being able to say, even if just on this blog for all 5 of you precious people to read, I will pass, Bread Big Wigs, on your ingredients list longer than my arm, and make it myself. The fact that it is healthy, more cost-effective, and tastier is the icing on my industrial bread rebellion cake.

And here is the recipe I use. I cannot remember where I found the original one, but I have modified this one quite a bit so hopefully no one's intellectual rights are being too badly violated.

2 pkts. dry active yeast
2 c. warm water
1/2 c. honey (I've used agave nectar too and it works, but I like it with honey better)
a little salt (maybe 1/2 t.)
1/4 c. olive oil
4 c. all purpose unbleached flour
2 c. whoel wheat flour
4 t. vital wheat gluten

In a large bowl, dissolve the honey in the water and then sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.

Next, add the salt and oil and stir to combine.

Then, work in all the flour and the vital wheat gluten. Knead it for a few minutes until it is smooth.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn the dough once to make sure it is all coated in the oil. Put a towel over the bowl. If you are as fortunate as I am to still be enjoying temperatures in the 90's and 100% humidity, you can just place your bowl in the garage to rise. I hear some people turn their oven on low and place to bowl on the top of the stove. So do what you gotta do, just put it somewhere warm to rise for about an hour.

After that, punch the dough down and knead it for a few more minutes, then divide it into 2 loaves and place in well-oiled loaf pans. Preheat your oven to 350 and let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. Bake it for 25 minutes.

Of course, there are some weeks when I'm not in the mood to single-handedly bring down the corporate bread world. When that occurs, I buy Ezekiel 4:9 bread--a little pricey, but so delicious and full of healthy sprouted grains. Even rebels need a break now and then.