Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spaghetti Squash/Spaghetti Sauce

I love squash! I love the varieties it comes in, I love winter squashes that you harvest in fall and can store through the winter, I love summer squash on the grill, I love it all (not to mention that pumpkins are one of my favorite foods).

One variety I am particularly fond of is the spaghetti squash. It's sort of an oblong yellow winter squash (a harder shell) that you can find in most grocery stores. Inside it has a yellow flesh, that when cooked comes out in strings that retain a certain amount of bite, or crunch. It's pretty easy to cook (most squashes are). Cut it in half, lengthwise, remove all the seeds and then place cut side down in a baking dish. You can add about 1/4 inch of water to the dish and then cook it in a 375 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes. The flesh will give easily to a fork when it is cooked.

Once it cooks, let it cool for a bit or use a pot holder to hold the squash and then use a fork to scrape the flesh out of the shells. You want it to be stringy. It ends up looking like, well, spaghetti. I like it with a dab of butter and some salt. Yum! Of course given the name you can also treat it like spaghetti and add some sauce.

Spaghetti sauce is not something I am fond of. Never have been. My daughter and husband however eat it like it's going out of style, and my daughter will pretty much eat anything if it's doused in spaghetti sauce first. As the main grocery shopper in our household, I really do not like buying spaghetti sauce at the store. It can be pricey (it's just cooked tomatoes for goodness' sake) and it's hard to find brands that don't have added sugars or some other additive in them. Why does spaghetti sauce need sugar?

So I make my own. It's easy, really. First I apologize to anyone who is Italian out there or who knows how to cook Italian food. I am not Italian, and as I mentioned before I don't really like the stuff, so this recipe is not a take all day spaghetti sauce. I am sure there are fabulous recipes out there that result in the most amazing sauce ever. The goal of this recipe though is to be quick, easy and nutritious.

Start with whatever veggies you have on hand; bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, beans, whatever (the more vegetables and variety you use the more end up in the sauce and the more you and your family will be eating-sneaky huh?). Puree them in a blender or food processor. Amounts are not important. If you want a chunkier sauce, leave the veggies slightly chunky. Heat some oil in a sauce pot and add the veggie puree. Add some chopped garlic (garlic powder works too), and season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, etc. Use fresh or dried spices, and use whatever combo you like. Let the veggies cook for a couple of minutes. Then add some tomatoes. Canned diced or crushed or freshly chopped. Again use what texture you want. Crushed will be a smoother sauce, diced or fresh will be chunkier. Fresh tomatoes will be fresher tasting obviously, and if you have the time grilled or roasted tomatoes would be yummy too. Cook for about 5 minutes more to let the flavors blend.

Use the sauce to top whatever you like. I used mine to top our spaghetti squash last night. It was pretty basic with red peppers, onions, crushed tomatoes and some spices. I added some baby spinach at the end so it just wilted. If I had had some garbanzo or cannelini beans on hand I would have added those. The result was this:

It was yummy, and both toddler and husband approved. A great way to get a kid to eat some vegetables. Spaghetti squash is a fun kid food, and of course spaghetti sauce is a classic. If you make your own sauce you'll know exactly what's in it, and there won't be any added sugars or other stuff, and you can throw in some extra veggies that your kids won't know about. It only takes a few minutes, it's way better for you, and in the long run, it's cheaper!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Taco Epiphany

Maybe this comes as second nature to some people, but it took me a while to figure it out. One day as I was sitting planning my meals for the week and writing out my shopping list, I got "cook's block". I could not for the life of me figure out what to make for dinner one night. I love experimenting and trying new recipes, but every meal can't be a gourmet feast. As much as I love to cook, after working long hours, sometimes you just want something fast, easy and mindless. And then it hit me: Tacos!

Who doesn't love tacos? I mean really. They're yummy, and a hit with kids and husbands alike. And now there are lots of ways to make them healthier and add some nutritional punches that no one will even notice.

I make mine with "soy crumbles", or textured vegetable protein, basically fake meat. Mostly because we don't eat a lot of meat. I'm not saying fake meat is any healthier than regular meat. We eat more vegetarian food because I don't think you need to have meat every day (you really don't) and also because I want to make sure we get the best meat out there, 100% grass fed and pastured meat, totally organic. 100% grass fed meat costs more, so we eat less meat, but the meat we do eat is wonderful.

So go ahead and pick your protein, be it grass fed beef or veggie crumbles. Tacos are a great place to use ground turkey or chicken because you season them really well. (Again I recommend pastured turkeys and chickens.) You could make them with fish or just use beans.

Skip the packets of taco seasoning you find next to the shells, most of them contain MSG and a whole lot of other unnecessary and unhealthy additives. Experiment to make your own seasoning mix or buy a good quality blend from a spice trader, my favorite is Savory Spice Shop and they ship anywhere.

Now you can find whole grain taco shells, and some stores carry organic whole grain shells. Or if you prefer soft tacos, finding whole grain or multi grain organic tortillas is really easy, most mainstream stores carry them now. And the plus is they don't cost that much more than generic, and they're much healthier for you.

As for toppings, be creative and do what you like, but I tend to be fairly traditional with my tacos. I like lettuce (try Romaine or something other than iceberg for better nutrition), tomatoes, salsa and cheese. Try making your own fresh salsa, so much better than jarred versions, plus when you make your own you don't have to add the sugar that most brands have in them. And if you have an avocado on hand, add some slices of that for some extra nutritional punch and taste!

It's easy to update a classic meal to be more healthy, and it couldn't be faster to make! And that's our goal right? Healthy, fast, and easy meals to feed our families.

Basic Salsa recipe:

  • 6 chopped roma tomatoes (or tomato of your choice)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 seeded and minced jalepeno pepper (add more for more heat or try different kinds of chiles)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Chile powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro, scallions or parsley to taste

Mix all ingredients and let sit for at least half an hour for flavors to blend. Enjoy!

You can make the salsa any way you like by adding other vegetables (corn, beans, carrots, radishes) and different kinds of peppers and spice.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Spring!

After a week of 60 and 70 degree weather, it snowed the first day of spring, left 10 inches and then melted away today in 70 degree weather again. Ahh yes, it's springtime in the Rockies.
Here's a picture of my garden early in the season from last year. This year I plan to start a cool season crop in April and try to get 2 seasons out of my garden.
I've also become a member in a local farm that is starting up near me. The link to it, Ekar, is on the right. It's an exciting venture that community members are putting a lot of hard work, heart and soul into, and I cannot wait to see where the adventure leads.
So what do gardens and farming have to do on a food blog? Besides the obvious answer that those are places we get our food from, there are some other answers out there. I am not Michael Pollan or Barbara Kingsolver. I highly recommend their books though, because there are plenty of people who can explain more eloquently than I why having a connection with the earth, the soil and our food chain is so important. But here is my simple reason: connecting to our food increases the likelyhood that we will eat healthy.
I'm still relatively new to this motherhood thing, but I try to get my daughter to eat her vegetables by two methods: a blitz attack, and getting her connected to the veggies. The blitz method is simple, I let her try everything I eat. She surprises me, she passes up carrot sticks and loves salad, celery and peanut butter do nothing for her, but artichoke and leek soup she can't get enough of. The second method of connecting her to her food is more complex.
People often say getting your kids involved with planning and cooking meals will help them want to eat better, and I wholeheartedly agree. Older kids can help you plan a simple, healthy meal, shop for it and help you cook it. Preteens and teenagers can practically do this all by themselves. I did a lot of cooking as a child. Little kids can also get a great experience at the grocery store. I talk to my daughter when we food shop about the different fruits and vegetables and what we might do with them.
Take it one step further; help your kids plant their own veggies. If your kids are old enough let them plan a small veggie garden, or even a container garden to really get connected. Pizza gardens are very popular (tomatoes, garlic, peppers, basil) and who wouldn't love a homemade fresh pizza? (As a nutritionist I totally support this type of pizza!) Salad container gardens are easy too, pick out your favorite salad veggies and plant them in a pot for fresh salad all summer long. The variety of veggies you'll have access to if you plant your own garden will be amazing. Your kid doesn't like carrots, but loves the color purple? Plant purple carrots and see if they'll eat those.
If for whatever reason you can't plant a garden with your kids, take them to a local farmers' market, or a local farm for that matter. Go strawberry or apple picking. You can pick your own broccoli at some farms, hey kids might like it if they pick it themselves. Don't forget pumpkins are a vegetable and when you go pick your jack'o'lantern, pick up some pie pumpkins for the kitchen.
There are a million ways to get involved and get your kids more connected to the food they eat. In the long run, if they know where it's comming from and have a sense of connection and maybe even ownership, I bet they will be more likely to ask for fresh fruits, veggies and other fresh food versus the overly processed food that spits out of vending machines.
I think I'm rambling a bit here, but my point is that the more we can do to be involved with and understand how our food gets to us, the better (read: healthier) our food will be. I have listed a whole bunch of links to the right that can help you find ways to connect. Some of them are based near me, and some of them like LocalHarvest and EatWild will help you no matter where you live.
Here are your action items: find a local farmers' market in your area, join a CSA, plant a garden, visit a farm, let your kids help you plan a meal and shop for and cook it together. I promise, you will eat better for it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Of Cabbages and Kings...

My plan for a St. Patrick's Day dinner was to make Spring Artichoke and Leek soup and a pasta that had cabbage in it. Since it was a very warm day, soup didn't seem like a good idea so I switched to pasta and one of my stand-by's: Caesar Salad. I make my own dressing with plenty of anchovies, and I made my own croutons last night as well. My daughter was happy because the salad is one of her favorites. Just proof that kids have interesting tastes. I mean who would think that a 21 month old would enjoy anchovies? I use a head of Romaine lettuce washed and dried (the drier the better) and 1 can of anchovies, about one half of a lemon, juiced, salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic for some real garlic taste or garlic powder for a milder taste. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small food processor or blender or use an immersion blender. Blend until it is smooth. Drizzle some olive oil over the lettuce and then add the dressing. Toss the salad really well. You can adjust the lemon juice, olive oil or seasoning to taste. You could add some fresh Parmesan cheese and also some croutons. Yum!

As for the second part of the meal, well it was not as successful. I tried a new recipe that consisted of egg noodles tossed with some steamed cabbage and Swiss chard. It wasn't bad, but I probably won't make it again. It was somewhat blah, and didn't end up being as colorful as I had hoped. I decided to go ahead and include a picture, just so you can see what I'm talking about. It was really too bad, because cabbage is a wonderful vegetable that is usually underrated.

The cabbage family, Brassica, includes everything from regular green cabbage to red cabbage to bok choy and Brussels sprouts. While some of the fancier cabbages can be more expensive, regular old green and red cabbage are usually pretty cheap. I love shredded red cabbage in a salad for some added crunch. Cabbage is high in dietary fiber (good for everyone, but especially good for losing weight). It's also high in Vitamins C, K, A and B6, as well as Folate, Potassium, Manganese, Thiamin, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. So it is definitely worth adding to your diet.

One last note about trying new recipes and new foods. I try a ton of new recipes, and some of them make their way back to my dinner table over and over again, while some I try once and then never again. Sometimes I figure out how to adjust the recipe more to my liking, or it sparks an idea of how to make something else. Either way, you never know what will turn out to be a favorite and it can't hurt to try new things. You don't have to be an expert. I'm certainly not, I just try a lot of things, and the more I try and practice, the better I get. You can see from the picture above of the cabbage dish, it's not one of my best creations, but I'm glad I tried it all the same.

Besides, we had to have some cabbage for St. Patty's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

St. Patty's Day-Popeye Style

I realize it isn't St. Patty's day yet, but I figure if you want to try this I should give you the recipe early. More "green" food to come on Wednesday. My poor husband seems to only be getting green food this week, but I love a theme!
Hands down this is one of my favorites, it's fast, easy and super tasty. When I get around to writing a cookbook, it will be in there. In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day I choose to be generous and share it with all of you. (I don't know if St. Patrick was generous or not, he certainly wasn't to all of those snakes, but I don't really like snakes, so I'm not judging.)

Spinach Burgers
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A little less than 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in food processor, blend well and season with salt and pepper. It won't be smooth, more like a chunky dough. Shape into 4-5 patties. Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat in non stick skillet and add burgers. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Add more oil if necessary.

I serve mine with a tahini sauce and Israeli salad. I use raw tahini, but regular will work too. 2 tbsp tahini to about 2 or more tbsp water, a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper then mix really well till it's creamy. You can add more water or tahini depending on the consistency. Water thins, tahini will thicken. I also added some chopped cilantro because I had some left over from last night.

For the Israeli salad, be creative. Typically it's tomatoes, onions and cucumbers diced small with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. I added some parsley, radishes and red peppers.

Put the spinach burgers into whole wheat pitas, top with tahini and salad and enjoy!

Eat your spinach. It's good for you. That's what Popeye was trying to tell us. This meal is packed with good stuff, all the nutrients in the spinach, tahini and raw veggies really add up. This meal will give you about 16 grams of protein!

Bonus: they are toddler approved! My daughter crams them into her mouth and asks for more.

Phabulous Pho

One of my all time favorite soups is Vietnamese Pho (fuh). Traditionally pho is made with all sorts of meats to create a fragrant and tasty broth. While I do make a pure beef broth, I was delighted to come across this vegetarian version. We tried it last night and it was delicious. Husband was happy, and daughter ate some of the tofu and a bite of mushroom. In the future I may make her a bowl with some additional veggies in the broth. She generally likes vegetables from soup broth (miso broth is her favorite). Parents of older kids might want to note that I started eating this soup when I was probably 9 or 10. It's fun to add your own toppings and personalize your soup. (The pictures above are of my bowl of soup and the toppings plate.)
On the health side, sometimes we forget that the herbs and aromatics we use while cooking are as beneficial to us as the nutrients in the food. In this soup, which has lots of garlic (that you don't necessarily taste) there are plenty of immune boosting properties. The shitake mushrooms add some cholesterol lowering properties as well. The garlic and cinnamon together have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and antiviral attributes. And ginger is pain reducing, anti-inflammatory and nausea fighting.
(serves 6)


  • 6 cups low sodium veg. broth
  • 3 larges shallots sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms
  • 10 cloves of peeled, crushed garlic
  • 12 1/4 inch thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy broth
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used brown rice vinegar)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 5-6 basil stems, leaves reserved for soup
  • 5-6 cilantro stems, leaves reserved for soup

Bring all ingredients to a boil with 8 cups water. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Strain and return to pot, discard solids.


  • 1 8oz package rice noodles
  • 1 8oz packages of Asian flavored baked tofu, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups watercress, arugula or spinach
  • 4 scallions sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • a few fresh mint springs

Cook noodles according to package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Divide noodles among 6 bowls. Add some of the tofu to each bowl. Ladle broth over noodles. Serve, allow each person to add their own toppings.

Alternatively to make a meat soup, you could start with a beef broth (or veggie, either will work) and then slice a skirt steak into really think slices. The trick with this version to get the meat slices really thin, put them on top of the noodles in each bowl and then pour really hot broth on top so that the meat slices cook in the broth in the bowls. It does work and is delicious. Although you'll want to be careful of the heat with small kids.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Pancakes! Pancakes for Breakfast!

Before I get into pancakes, I need to clarify a few things from my "fish sticks" post. Who knew fish sticks were such a hot topic?! Firstly, an apology to my mother. Everyone should know that she never fed me fish sticks for an entire year. My mother always made homemade meals, no fast food or TV dinners for me. In fact I truly do credit my mom with my healthy eating habits and general love for out of the ordinary food and for cooking. It was my grandparents who fed me the fish sticks when I visited them. And they did it out of love. Because I really do love fish sticks.
Secondly, the point of the post was not to suddenly get a craving for fish sticks and go out and buy them. The point was to eat whole, fresh fish. The point was also that we need to give our kid's palates more credit than we do. They will eat more than just mac and cheese and hot dogs, we just have to offer it to them.

Okay. Enough about fish sticks already! On to pancakes...

Pancakes are a particular love of mine. I remember once for Hanukkah when I was a kid, getting a brand new spatula especially for pancakes. And I know my mother will back me up on that-she gave it to me. It's just not a weekend without them.

I used to be a Bisquick girl. However, in an attempt to be healthier and offer more variety I have started making buckwheat pancakes from scratch. They honestly take no more time than making a mix, and offer so much more nutritionally.

First off, refined white flour is something our body doesn't really need. It is really high on the glycemic index, meaning eating it raises our blood sugar really fast. Most of us are aware that refined white flour is not a whole grain, and even when enriched, just does not offer the same nutritional benefit as a whole grain. It's taken me a long time to make the switch over to eating more whole grains, but I do believe it is worth it for our health.

Buckwheat on the other hand has lots to offer us. Buckwheat is low on the glycemic index as well as being a gluten free grain. Buckwheat offers a lot of protein, fiber and complex carbs. It's a good source for B vitamins, which are so crucial to our health. It's also high in Zinc, a nutrient most of us are deficient in. 1 serving of buckwheat offers 100% of your daily requirement for magnesium. Super grain!

But I don't like to eat it whole. So for me, using buckwheat flour is a good solution, and now you can find it in almost any grocery store.

Here's the pancake recipe. I like to serve it with strawberries on top. In the winter I use frozen organic berries. Strawberries are another food you always want to get organic. Heat them up on the stove and they produce their own little syrup. No need to add additional sugar. Organic butter and pure maple syrup are other healthy, delicious toppings.

Buckwheat Pancakes
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup milk (can substitute soy or rice milk)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Combine all ingredients until just blended. Drop in 1/4 cup scoops into pan that is over medium heat. When edges start to dry, flip. Cook until done. Makes about 8-10 standard size pancakes.

Note: these don't really "bubble" up like other pancakes when they are ready to be turned, so flip right after edges start to dry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1 Potato, 2 Potato, 3 Potato, 4!

When my husband travels for work, I find myself falling into that trap that a lot of us have. Cooking for one. Well, for me it's really cooking for 1.5. But still, even for me, who loves to cook, it's hard to justify making an entire meal for one and a half people. But we gotta eat.

One of my favorite, made for one meals is the loaded baked potato. Quick, easy, nutrititous and varied, it makes for great solo eating. And of course you could make it for more than one too.

I use Idaho russets, but any decent sized baking potato will do. ALWAYS buy organic potatoes. Potatoes grow in the ground and by their nature soak up so much nasty pesticides and chemical fertilizers. So if you have to use your grocery dollars carefully, make sure that potatoes are on your list of veggies to buy organic.

If you are watching your carbs, you might be worried about eating white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great substitue, so go ahead and use those. Also depending on what you add to your potato, fats and proteins will help slow down the metabolizing of the carbs in the potatoes and so loaded potatoes are in fact a better choice than just plain potatoes.

Some of my favorite toppings:

  • Steamed broccoli (or any veggie you like, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, etc), cheddar or parmesan cheese. (Natural bacon bits/soy bits are yummy too)
  • Vegetarian Chilli (or just black beans), sour cream, chopped tomatoes and green onions (surprisingly good with sweet potatoes)
  • Turkey (ground) sauteed with some bell pepper and garlic, then add 3tbs chilli powder, 1 and 1/4 cups beer, 3/4 cup chilli sauce or ketchup, 4 ounces diced green chiles and 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce. Simmer until the mixture thickens. Garnish with green onions.

While there is a lot of debate about cooking in the microwave, I myself use it. I make sure to always microwave in glass (no plastic) and use it sparingly. If you prefer to bake your potatoes in the oven, you can do that too (I like the taste of this method better, but in terms of quickness, I use the microwave.)

Have fun and experiment. Make it a meal by adding a salad on the side (I loved bagged salad greens with some salt & pepper, olive oil and lemon juice on top), or if you already topped your potato with a veggie, it's a whole meal by itself!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The "Lure" of the Fishstick

I like fishsticks. There, I said it. In fact, I think for at least one year of my childhood I lived off of fishsticks (from the freezer section) and mac and cheese (the kind in the little blue box). I think I spent another year in college doing the same.

And parents seem to like giving kids fishsticks. They're easy and most kids seem to like them. There seems to be some unwritten rule of parenting that kids won't eat fish unless it is in the form of fishsticks. We want to give our kids fish because it is good for them, and an easy meal. Lots of fish is chock full of Omega-3 fatty acids that are so important for brain health and development, not to mention tons of other healthy stuff.

Fishsticks, unfortunately are not really going to meet this need. Let's hope that most fishsticks found in the freezer are made from cod. Cod is a great fish, but unfortunately after all the processing, battering/breading and frying that happens to create the fishstick, you aren't really left with the original nutritional value.

Fresh fish on the other hand will give you all of that fabulous nutrition. And fresh fish shouldn't be "fishy". If it's too "fishy" tasting, it wasn't fresh. In virtually the same amount of time it takes to cook those fishsticks in the oven, you can bake or grill a piece of fish. Salmon happens to be one of my favorites. Always buy wild caught. It's better all the way around, tastewise and healthwise. Wild caught is also lower in mercury levels. And my 20 month old daughter eats it like it's going out of style.

3 of our favorite ways to prepare salmon filets:
  • 2 tbsp honey and 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce mixed together, pour on top of the salmon before cooking, the honey will caramelize and turn dark, especially on a grill, but don't worry, that's just making it more yummy

  • BBQ sauce (store bought or homemade, my husband doctors his up with a little bourbon) either poured on top before putting in an oven, or applied while on the grill

  • A little olive oil drizzled on top, salt pepper, dill sprinkled on top and then cooked

Generally I cook salmon in the oven at 350 F for about 18 minutes, depending on the thickness, or on the grill over medium-high heat for about 12-15 minutes (times will vary depending on ovens and grills). You don't want to overcook the salmon, so watch it and when it turns opaque, it's ready. If you press the thickest section it should be firm, but still give just a little bit. You can always try it and if it needs more time, put it back on the heat.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just Desserts

I was inspired to try some "healthy-ish" desserts this week by a client. She professed to loving desserts, and really, who doesn't have a sweet tooth for something? Part of my take on eating better is that food is meant to be enjoyed, and tasty and healthy are not mutually exclusive.

I was happy to try this recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine for an Apple Custard Pie with Oatmeal Crust.

It's a great dessert choice because the oats and the apple are packed with nutrients. Oats contain plenty of protein, B vitamins, calcium, iron and a form of fiber that helps lower your LDL cholesterol. An apple a day of course, keeps the doctor away.

A few recipe hints: if you can't find oat flour or milk you can substitute with whole wheat or white flour (of course I recommend whole wheat flour) and either soy or regular milk. Make sure to use old fashioned oats (not the instant kind) and use an 8 inch pie pan so the crust turns out ok. You can also cut the sugar in half, literally, trust me it will still be sweet. Just use 1/8 cup brown sugar in the crust and 1/8 cup sugar in the filling. You can omit the extra sugar on top. Also the original recipe calls for vegan margarine instead of butter, but I recommend real butter, organic if you can, it's a much better choice health wise...more on the butter vs. margarine debate later.

Apple Custard Pie with Oatmeal Crust


  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) butter melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, coat 8 inch pie pan, greased with cooking spray or butter

Stir together oats, oat flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, in large bowl. Stir in butter and 1/4 cup of water until dough forms. Press dough into bottom and sides of pie pan, moistening fingers with cold water to prevent sticking. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until crust is light brown and bottom looks dry.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 2tbsp, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oat milk
  • 3 small apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each (I used one and a half large apples)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Whisk together eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla in bowl. Whisk in oat milk until smooth. Arrange apple wedges on bottom of prebaked crust. Pour filling into crust, over apples, and return to oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling is set. Stir together remaining 2 tbs of sugar and 1/8 tsp of cinnamon, sprinkle over hot pie. Cool on wire rack.

This was a very tasty dessert and a hit with everyone around the dinner table.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Green Rice & Vegetable Stir Fry

Last night's dinner consisted of one of my new favorite "quick and easy" meals: Stir Fry. While I am generally not a huge fan of Chinese food in restaraunts, I do enjoy a fresh home made stiry fry and it seems everyone else at home does too.

I usually make it as an end of the week meal and use up left over veggies, but my mainstay vegetables for stir fry are red and green peppers, mushrooms (plain old button ones), broccoli, and carrots. Last night I added some water chestnuts, spinach and scallions. You could use whatever veggies you have on hand (peas anyone?). I make a quick sauce consisting of 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water and then whisk in 2 tbs of low sodium soy sauce, about 1 inch worth of minced fresh ginger, 2 tsp of some sort of chile sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. You could also leave out the ginger and garlic and use about 1 tsp of Chinese Five Spice. Whisk it all together, and then when your veggies are stir fried to the level you like (I like mine with a little "bite" to them) pour the sauce over the veggies and mix a little more.

I like to serve my stir fry over rice, and my rice of choice these days is Lotus Food's Jade Pearl Rice. It's a pearl rice mixed with bamboo extract. I like it becaus it is light in flavor and cooks in 20 minutes. It's rich in chlorophyll, fiber, iron, vitamin C and magnesium. It's a great choice if you love white rice but want to try something a little less processed and don't really like brown rice. In fact I recommend all of Lotus Food's rices. They are all yummy.

I also like to cook some tofu slices till they are nice and brown and crispy and put them on top of the stir fry. Altogether it makes a great, hearty meal that satisfies husbands and children alike (some kids love foods that are funky colors, and so green rice can be really fun). Last night I served some pineapple chunks and madarin orange slices on the side.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Egg Follow-up

Here is what I turned those delicious fresh eggs into. Salmon-Veggie Benedict. Whole grain English muffin, wild caught smoked salmon, tomatoes, spinach, poached egg with Hollandaise sauce a la Julia Child. Yum! My daughter enjoyed the tomatoes and a bit of the muffin with some egg on it.


My daughter loves artichokes, which is indisputable proof that we are related.

Artichokes happen to be one of my favorite foods and I eat them whole and steamed fairly often. At first I would just give her the leaves to play with, at her request. Then I started giving them to her and realized she was scraping the "meat" off of them, pretty tricky for a toddler. Now she and I eat them together. She also loves artichoke heart omlettes and artichoke ragout. I made the ragout with onions, crushed tomatoes, mushrooms and red peppers, served it over whole wheat rigatoni and it was a huge hit.

Artichokes are not everyone's favorite I know, but it just goes to show that kids will eat things that will surprise you (aside from rubberbands and grocery lists). Chances are if you like a vegetable, you child will too, so why not try giving it to them?

And just so you know, artichokes are a great source of fiber, have more antioxidants than red wine or chocolate, contain as much potassium as a small banana, have Vitamin C and Magnesium, as well as 4 grams of protein.

So along with your peas, eat your artichokes!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yummy Birthday Presents

My birthday was this weekend and one of my friends brought me fresh eggs from his chickens as a birthday present. The eggs came in the six-pack box for "Farmer's Friend" Ale. My husband is angry because this friend was supposed to keep his backyard chickens a secret from me, but really it's only a matter of time before I start a chicken coop in the backyard. Anyhow, I cannot wait to put the eggs to use in the kitchen. I'm thinking eggs benedict, with smoked salmon instead of ham. Yum! Only I am the only one in the house who likes eggs benedict. My daughter has never had fresh eggs like this, maybe she will like them better than grocery store eggs. Even though I get only organic, vegetarian fed, cage free, eggs that are as local as I can get, it's still not the same as eggs harvested the day before from chickens who I know are happy and living real chicken lives.