Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Whole 30 Day 2

I'd rather not talk about today. It was rough. 

Bad Earl Grey tea with unsweetened almond milk {shudder} Bad. 
Sweet potato, red onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, 2 eggs and red salt

More sweet potato hash
Sauteed asparagus, garlic, mushrooms, and red onions

Poached asparagus with black salt
Green salad with cucumbers, strawberries, balsamic and black sesame seeds Alaskan smoked salmon, mushroom, red onion and garlic scramble with cracked pepper

Cracked pepper and sea salt peanut, almonds, and sunflower seeds

Monday, April 29, 2013

Whole 30 Day 1 - French Onion Soup and Caesar Salad

My biggest challenge is going to be keeping my kids' food out of my mouth. 

Aside from the half and half in my tea this morning (I mixed it up last night, but didn't drink it), I tasted a yogurt, cocoa krispies, and cinnamon toast crunch. All concessions I made to my children in anticipation of not wanting to cook breakfasts that I can't eat. I can't wait to run out.

Iced English breakfast tea with half and half. I was happily surprised that the cream did not add to the experience. I can now happily drink my creamless tea without a pang of longing. 

Bagged green salad topped with shredded carrot, green bell pepper, chopped boiled egg, sunflower seeds, mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and grey salt, diced fresh tomato and balsamic vinegar.
Yummy. Standard lunch for me. This part was easy. 

I was really hungry about 2 hours later, so I made a second, small meal.
Sweet potato hash, fried in olive oil. Sauteed mushrooms, green bell peppers, and fresh tomatoes, one egg, seasoned with Slap Ya Mama.
I drank another glass of iced English Breakfast Tea, sans cream. It actually tasted better. 

French onion soup (recipe follows)
Caesar Salad (recipe follows)

The kids had :
Fruit blended yogurt topped with cocoa krispies.

Hard boiled eggs
Cinnamon Toast Crunch, dry

French Onion soup
Caesar Salad
Whole wheat toast with cheese

French Onion Soup
6 onions, thinly sliced
Olive oil
2 bouillon cubes or soup base
dash Tabasco 

Raw onions
Saute onions in oil, sprinkled with good salt, over low heat until soft. 
Soft onions

Add water to cover. Stir in bouillon cubes or soup base.
Onions with water and soup base

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes. 
Add Tabasco to taste.
Garnish with minced fresh parsley.

Serve hot. 

Caesar Salad
2 heads Romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 red onion sliced thinly, and soaking in cold water 15 minutes
2 boiled eggs, diced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 TBS lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
dash salt and pepper
Splash olive oil
Nuts/seeds if desired

Place lettuce in large salad bowl. Top with drained onions, and eggs.
In a small blender or food processor, combine mustard, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper with enough olive oil for the blades to run smoothly. Blend until smooth and frothy. 
Whizzing up the dressing

Pour over salad. Toss and serve. Garnish with nuts and seeds if desired. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cajun Boil Chowder

Did you go to a boil last night, and now you have a ton a leftovers you don't know what to do with?

Don't live in Louisiana, you want to pretend that you do?

D boiled some potatoes, sausage and corn last night. We had 2 gallon bags in the fridge, so I got creative for lunch. 

The resulting chowder is deeelicious, and it only took a few minutes to make. 

First we're going to make a white roux.

Add 1/4 a cup each oil ( I used olive) and flour to a good sized soup pot. Heat on low, stirring constantly until it's nice a bubbly. Cook and stir one minute. 

To the pot, add diced boiled red potatoes, corn, cut from the cob, and whatever else you have - smoked sausage, cooked shrimp, cooked, cleaned crab, peeled crawfish, cooked onions, cooked garlic, cooked mushrooms, etc. Total volume of add-ins should be around 3-4 cups. Cook and stir, still over low heat, for about a minute.

Now, add milk to cover (I used almond), one bouillon cube, or equivalent soup base, and Cajun seasoning to your liking. Stir well to incorporate liquid into roux (no doughy lumps), then frequently. Heat until just heated through. 

Serve warm. Makes 5 serving. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Overnight bread and starter plus many uses

Note: I don't have a lot of pictures at the moment. I will come back and add them later, including a complete tutorial. For now, use your imagination ;)

I love artisan bread. 

I LOVE having my own dough at all times to use as a base for whatever I feel like making. 

I LOVELOVELOVE that it takes me a whopping 2 minutes a day to keep that fresh bread dough in my kitchen. 

First, let's take about overnight bread. 

The premise here is simple. You mix the ingredients together, cover it, and set it aside overnight. In the morning you have a soft, easy bread dough ready to go. Pizza crust, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, a round of artisan bread, or a loaf of crusty, yummy, hearty bread. Sky's the limit. 

The first time you make this bread, you will need a little yeast. 

3 cups flour
2 cups water
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Stir it all together. It will be dry and shaggy. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Set in a warm, safe spot for 12-24 hours. I put mine on top on the refrigerator. 

Now the dough will be very soft, even runny. If it is too soft, work in a little flour. 

Pinch off a small amount and put it in a clean bowl. Set it aside. 

Heat a covered casserole in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Dump the dough into the dish, cover it and bake for 30 minutes. It will come out looking like a beautifully handcrafted artisan bread. 

For cinnamon rolls, roll the dough out into a rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Roll and slice. 
Lay out slices on a baking tray. Let rise 15 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Glaze if desired. 

For pizza crust, work the dough into a circle or rectangle on a baking tray with your hands. 
Top with sauce, cheese, and topping. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. 

For Stromboli,

  roll out dough as with pizza. Top with sandwich fillings. Roll as with cinnamon rolls. Do not slice. Place seam side down on a baking tray. Slash top. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Cool slightly, slice and serve warm. 

For monkey bread, pinch off small pieces. Dip in melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar. Pile into baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until gooey. Serve warm. 

If you don't want to use the dough at the moment, put it in a zippered freezer bag and pop it into the fridge or freezer. When you are ready to use it, let it thaw if frozen and use as above. 

Now, return to your starter in the clean bowl. 
Add 3 cups of flour and 2 cups of water. Stir until just mixed. Dough will be dry and shaggy. Cover with a clean towel, and place in a warm, safe spot for 12-24 hours. 

Repeat every day. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Smoothie greens for green smoothies

What is a green smoothie?

A green smoothie is a thick, frosty drink made with dark, leafy greens.  Dark leafy greens are a powerhouse of nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. 

They are super good for us, but we don't always get enough. Green smoothies get the good stuff in painlessly. If you don't care too much for the green stuff, what better way to eat them than hidden in creamy chocolate

Most smoothie recipes call for spinach because it's tender texture and mild flavor easily vaporize into the depths of even the blandest concoction. But using the same leaves over and over robs you of the variety of nutrients that occur in so many different greens.

In the bag pictured above, I have spinach, yes, but also turnip greens, collard greens, parsley, cilantro, penny wort, wood sorrel, apple mint, and any other green leafy thing (edible, of course) I could get my hands on. I chopped everything coarsely, put it in a zippered freezer bag and popped it in the freezer. 

Now, whenever it's smoothie time, I add a handful or 2 of the green goodness, whizz it up, and enjoy a delicious, refreshing glass of good health. 

Branch out, chop up some leafiness of your own and toss it in your blender. Drink up to your good health.

Whole 30

My beautiful and talented friend Megan is starting a Whole 30 challenge group. She talked me into it.

The premise is simple. Eat real foods, like those humans would eat in the wild, for 30 days. No junk that is bad for our bodies or hard to digest. 

The rules:
No sugar.
No processed foods.
No alcohol or tobacco.

No grains.
No legumes.
No dairy. 
No white potatoes. 
No "healthy" junk food.
High quality meats.

Healthy fats.
For vegetarians and non-meat-eaters, there are exceptions

I do eat eggs and seafood, I don't eat soy, with the exception of sauce. I'll be using some lentils, but nothing more. 

I was looking over this information and the thought occurred to me that this is not so different from the way we eat now. It's very much the way I prefer to eat. 

I have noticed that a lot of carbs have snuck in on me. I'm ready to kick them to the curb. Or onto the kids' plates, because they need all that extra growing energy, and I just pack it onto my backside. 

I only have a few minor changes to make.
#1 Swap my morning coffee for a smoothie. My standard smoothie right now is Green Chocolate Almond Butter
#2 Eliminate dairy. I generally avoid dairy, but as a concession to my cheese-lovers, I do cook with cheese. No more!
#3 No more carb-based meals. Asian noodles, rice, potatoes and pasta are frequent guests on our table. 
My kids are slim and have powerhouse metabolisms, unlike their pudgy parents. Whenever I have cut back on my carbs, and by extension, theirs, they have become gaunt and insatiably hungry. So, I will still be serving rice, noodles and potatoes to them, but I will not partake. D can choose for himself. 
#4 No baking. This is a big one. If you're familiar with my blog, you know how big. Fortunately, it's already steamy hot here, so I'm ready for a hiatus from the oven. 

I made my menu and shopping list for the first 2 weeks. It is subject to change depending on what I find at the various markets when I shop this weekend. I used the same basic menu plan and cookbooks that I'm currently using for this week's menu. I veganized the meaty meals as usual. I'll toss a few lentils into the stews and bump up the veggie content with sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and whatever else looks good.

Here's the preliminary.

Veggie soup and Greek salad

Country stew with rice 

Salmon and Mushroom Salad and baked potatoes

Sushi-Tamago and bay shrimp (hand rolls for me-no rice- maki for everyone else)

Leek soup and Caeser salad 

Dilly Stew w/ lentils and sweet potatoes over noodles

Fish soft tacos (tortilla-less for me)

Herb omelets and green salad

Broccoli soup and pea salad

Oyster Stew with rice, cabbage, and Sweet potato latkes

Baked fish w baked potatoes and roasted veggies

Broccoli ( or other veggie) quiche and green salad

Cream of Spinach soup (made with coconut cream) and Salmon salad on greens

Flemish Stew with lentils, sweet potatoes, and cabbage 

I always keep at least one big salad in the fridge for my lunches and to serve with dinner. Salads and leftovers, smoothies for breakfast, eggs whenever I need a protein boost. 

My biggest concern right now is breakfast and lunch for the kids. I know what I'll be eating, but I'm not sure what I'll be feeding them. Pantry foods for sure. Noodles, rice, beans, corn, and oats are filling the shelves. Along with fresh fruits and veggies, that should keep everyone happy for a while. 

Green Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie-Whole 30 version

It isn't actually green. It's beautifully chocolatey. But it does have nutrient dense greens hiding inside.
It tastes like a decadent dessert. But it's sooo good for both the body and the soul.

2 dates for sweetness
2 tbs coconut cream or milk (cream is thicker. Do not use Cream of Coconut or Lite Coconut milk)
2 tbs almond butter
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 large handful leafy greens 
almond milk or water to cover

Blend until smooth. 
Add ice and blend again, if desired.