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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables

Happy Post-Halloween!

Unfortunately, we live on a long dead-end (bwa-ha-ha… appropriate) and get no trick-or-treaters. I went to a few events, both yesterday evening and Saturday night, though, and rocked my punny costume: I bought a bag of Smarties and taped some to my pants, making me… wait for it… Smartie Pants! Ha ha!!! (Best of all, it was a cheap costume, and one we could eat afterward!)

Anything fun that you all did for Halloween?

I continue on my rehab path… (which one? you ask. recovering from the hip surgeries is the most straightforward one.) I set a pretty lofty running goal at the beginning of October, and I met it on Saturday! Go, me! I remember at the beginning of September, I hadn’t even tried running (post-op) at all, and I didn’t even know if it was an option anymore. Now, after only 6 weeks back at it, I’m able to finish 30 minutes of run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute intervals!! It’s not easy, but I also imagine I’ll be able to run 30 minutes nonstop before the end of the year… just set your mind to it, and you can do it!!!

The holidays are soon upon us!! (for better or for worse…) My link list today is all food-oriented, but with a healthier spin. Let’s all vow to not gain the Holiday 10!

1. This is a Mark Bittman article that I have printed out as a reference on my cookbook shelf… 101 Simple Salads. It also teaches you to cook by eye and by taste, as he doesn’t give precise proportions. Trust your brain and tongue!

2. Halloween may be over this year, but this is one I’ll have to remember for next year, because it’s so darn cute: Frozen Boo-nana Pops

3. Can’t avoid pumpkin spice lattes during the holiday season? This healthy pumpkin spice latte looks yummy!

4. It’s totally soup weather (just went for an 11am run, and it’s in the high 30’s outside!), so here are a few healthy soup recipes.

5. And I’m intrigued by this one. If someone tries it before me, let me know what you think… ??? 100 calorie moist chocolate cupcakes It looks like they’re bigger than a thimble, so that’s not how they get away with the calorie count.

Finally… for those who have done any traveling like me, if you have been to the Cinque Terre in Italy, sadly, two of the towns were devastated by flooding last week (see photos here). I’m thinking the restaurant and the market were ones I visited and enjoyed. One more reminder to go out and see the world while we still can.

Stay strong and healthy!

OK, peeps, it’s October. That means I can officially share some fun Halloween things and not feel like the retail industry… you know, where they start Easter right after they pack away the Happy New Year goodies? I figure if it’s the same month as the holiday, it’s fair game. And Halloween’s a fun one, so why not think of fun times? 🙂

But before we get there: it’s getting colder (at least here), so I’m bundling up more. Less motivation to show some skin, which for some of us means less motivation to work out. How do you keep yourself going as the weather starts cooling down? For me, it’s actually more comfortable to run in slightly (I said slightly) cooler temps, so until mid-November or so, it still feels great to be outside. And the weather inside the gym is the same, no matter what. As for the deeper motivation–my joints and orthopedic problems won’t stay happy unless I treat ’em well every day, and working out is their treat. If I slack off, they let me know. I do it for my joint and bone health!

Speaking of bones and skeletons (what a great segue!)…

1. Anyone out there expecting? Here’s a great pregnancy Halloween shirt.

2. Look out for skeletons climbing on the outside of your house! (They’d get washed away here, sadly)

3. Some ghoulish ways to do Halloween veggie platters

4. Is that a spiderweb in your soup?? 😮

5. What a great way to serve your guac at a party!

So, does that give you ideas for your Halloween party? Get those brains going now….. ’til then, stay safe and healthy!

Hey, it’s the end of the week!

And seeing that October is fast on its way, I’ve been making a few soups (even though–Seattle, weird weather, here. Why were we sunny and 70 for a bit again yesterday? Not that I’m sending it back…). Conveniently, The Daring Cooks’ challenge for September involved making broth or stock from scratch (then, the more super-involved folks cleared the sludge from their broth to make a consomme. While it’s a great learning experience, I happen to like the flavor of the sludge… and I don’t make homemade broth often enough…)

Yes… this is the first challenge I’ve posted in months. It’s not that I haven’t participated: but I try to keep recipes here relatively healthy, for the most part, and the past several months have been super-rich (uh, cheese-based gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce being one example…) The end product of this challenge–onion soup with cheese-herb brioche–also wasn’t the healthiest, but I’ll share with you how I made the veggie stock to start it all.

While the stock took time, once I got the veggies rough-chopped and in the pot with water, I could just let it go, boiling for hours. And it made enough for 4-5 servings of soup plus another dish on top of that!

So, here’s my recipe, give or take:

Homemade Vegetable Broth
adapted from the internet

1/4 c vegetable oil
4 medium yellow onions, diced
6 medium carrots, rough sliced
4 large ribs celery, rough sliced
2 leeks, rough chopped and rinsed well
1 3/4 oz dried mushrooms (I used shiitake)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 large broccoli stalks, rough chopped
bouquet garni (I just tied together a bunch of fresh parsley, three sprigs of fresh thyme, and a bay leaf)

**Note that I haven’t added any salt. I prefer to add salt to the final dish rather than to my broth.

1. In a large (your largest possible!) stock pot, heat the vegetable oil on medium. Add all ingredients except for the bouquet garni, and let the veggies “sweat” until soft.

2. Cover the veggies with cold water… about 3 quarts. Bring to a low boil. Drop in your bouquet garni, and cover the pot.

3. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, and let your broth simmer for about 2 hours. Strain your broth, and discard the solids.

Your broth is now ready for use in such wonderful dishes as this onion soup that I made:

onion soup

Or, use it in a risotto, or another grain dish, or your favorite veggie soup, or… the possibilities are endless!

And… you now see how easy it is! That’s my favorite thing about veggie broth: no bones or meat carcasses to deal with… yet it’s still so much tastier than something from a can!

So tell me: what are you guys going to do with your veggie broth? Come on, be creative! 🙂

Good morning! (Well… it is here…) In fact, it’s Saturday when I’m posting my Recipe Friday, again. However, first of all, spent more time at medical facilities yesterday, and secondly, after last night’s dinner I made for friends, I changed my mind on the recipe for this week!

I guess the biggest excitement is that the treatment that the UW people are giving me is significantly helping my voice problems… going from 2 1/2 months of nothing to finally being able to make sound is incredible! (I might sound sometimes sultry and sometimes like a 12 year old boy, but–I’ll take it over nothing!) Such a huge breakthrough…

On to the recipe: we’re experiencing one last round of summer up here. It was actually almost unbearably hot here yesterday–80’s and really sunny–so when I made plans to have friends over for dinner, I didn’t want the stove on too much.

Additionally, many of our grocery stores are selling wonderful late-season peaches, and I wanted to take advantage. So, I found a lovely salad, posted by Mother Thyme on her website:

Spinach Peach Caprese Salad

Her pictures are superb. I made the following changes:

  • Used red instead of yellow tomatoes, just due to price/availabilty. I imagine she uses yellow mostly for aesthetics.
  • I used all spinach, no arugula. I love arugula, but I’ve found that this year, it’s had too woody a texture, here. I thought it would detract from the softness of the peaches and the mozzarella.
  • Not a change that I actually made, but I might actually up the lemon:balsamic ratio next time, and reduce the amount of liquid added. Too much dressing, and the greens were threatening to get soggy. Maybe I didn’t reduce my balsamic enough…

All together, this was a wonderful salad that even Bruce ate! (though I know he was going through the serving bowl to find the cheese) and I loved the flavor of the whole basil leaves mixed in with the spinach.

So, make this NOW while there are still a few fresh peaches around! You will not regret it! It definitely got me out of the ritual “peach cobbler”, “peach smoothie”….. etc etc…. hum-drum recipe mode.

Wow, it’s almost the end of Friday, and I’m finally posting this! Between scoring a last-minute sale on a collectible item and having to drive to deliver it, then having a dental emergency this afternoon, the day is gone! (At least we scored on the old archery set… yay!)

It’s nights like tonight that I want to throw something together that’s nutritious, flavorful, and fast. I have an answer for you! It’s a bean salad, but not the overly-marinated, lifeless bean salad of our parents’ generation. (Ick.) This has fresh vegetables in it! (Which also means… it really only keeps one day, so eat it up fast!)

Mediterranean White Bean Salad
loosely based on a Mark Bittman recipe

3 c cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 c chopped tomatoes
1 c chopped cucumbers (seeded)
3 tbsp finely minced red onion (I like to soak slices in ice water for ~15 minutes, first. Takes the bitterness out.)
1 tsp dried, or 2 tsp fresh minced mint
1 tsp dried, or 2 tsp fresh minced oregano
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
Juice of one lemon (about 3 tbsp)
About 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Place the beans, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

2. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, mint, oregano, and paprika. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while still whisking, aiming for emulsification. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and whisk again.

3. Pour dressing over bean mixture, and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings (salt and pepper) to taste.

There–less than 15 minutes if you’re a quick chopper! Again, I recommend finishing this within a day, to keep the veggies crisp.

**If you’re really daring… add some crumbled feta. Sometimes, I live life on the edge like that.

Anyone else have a favorite quick bean salad variation? (I have another one to share later–think Moroccan spiced chickpeas…)

Have a great weekend! I’ll be out playing with the band both days…

Hi!

It RAINED here yesterday. What, do I live in Seattle? (ahem. OK, so I do.) Lots of rain.

But you know what? It had actually been sunny for a few weeks. (Alert the media! The Great Wet Northwest was sunny! Wait, it had been alerted. It was in the news.) And to me, the few days’ break in the sun is nice.

In life, we learn to find the joy in the sunny days as well as in the rainy days.

This past weekend, I attended Pilates On Tour, a continuing education conference for Pilates instructors (and practitioners) put on by Balanced Body Pilates. This was my first time at this type of event, and I was impressed! If you’re as much of a geek as I am about kinesiology, movement, and Pilates, you can get a small taste of what it was like to take courses from the gurus by watching podcasts at the Balanced Body website. I’m looking forward to the next Pilates On Tour!

And now, a few interesting and informative links for your entertainment (while I still have a network connection):

1. These chocolate bowls look easy to make, and would be great filled with ice cream (sinful) or sliced fresh fruit (better)!

2. Periodic table of heavy metal artists.

3. Fantastic idea: spiff up your ordinary cork board/message center with some vintage frames.

4. Here’s something I could definitely use: a vegetable cooking cheat sheet. Tells you how long to boil, steam, or saute a variety of different vegetables!

5. Have I mentioned Katie’s Snickerdoodle Pancakes before? If I haven’t, they’re amazing. Make them NOW. I’m going to try them in my mini Belgian waffler next. So tasty, you don’t need butter or syrup.

And with that… we’re having utility work done in our neighborhood in a matter of minutes, so I’m signing off while I still have a network connection! See you soon…

So it’s not Friday…. but I’m sugar-hungover from the not-surprise birthday party my friends had for me last night (long story… one of the group accidentally got phone numbers mixed up on the group text invite. All in good fun, though!) Since I knew all about it ahead of time, it meant I could try out these cookie cupcakes from Jessica’s blog. I think the cookie recipe will become my go-to chocolate chip recipe!

(I now have enough leftover frosting to frost an army. Anyone care to join my army??? Really. I’ve had it with sugar!)

To offset the OD on sweets, I tried something MAGICAL this past week. It’s a sauce that comes together in your food processor in less than 5 minutes. It’s vegan, it’s healthy, it’s a good source of B-12 if you are vegan… and it’s DELICIOUS. I swear to you, it’ll get you to eat mounds of veggies, so long as they’re covered in creamy, cheezy, lightly curried Mmmm Sauce.

I don’t want to steal Mama Pea’s thunder, so I’ll post the link to her blog right here:

Mmmm Sauce

So, what do you do with it?

Dip veggies. Dilute with a little water and use as salad dressing. Use its healthy goodness as a dip for fries. (I won’t tell.) It would probably make a great spread for sandwiches in place of mayo. Heck, the first batch I made went straight onto a whole bag of romaine! (sauce delivery mechanism.)

Caveat: do be sure to find and use nutritional yeast for this recipe. It’s an inactive form of yeast, and lends this (and other) recipe a nutty, cheesy flavor–while staying vegan. This is a relatively new ingredient in my world, and I’ve really enjoyed its flavor! Try looking for it in the bulk section of your health food store or Whole Paycheck.

Once you try this, there’s no turning back! It earned its name with good reason. I always have to have a batch of this sauce in my fridge. (And it’s savory, so it really counteracts all of the overly SUGARY from yesterday.) Make it, and tell me how you’ve used it! 🙂


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