What a busy fall!

Let me begin by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE!!!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZA!!! My beautiful niece and beautiful ‘adopted’ daughter share this birthday. It’s the big 21 for Liza….I wish you both love and joy!!

This has been an amazingly busy month and it’s not over yet. Two weeks ago our younger daughter was home for the weekend. Last weekend number one child was here. We had a visit from Liza, and there is more to come. This weekend a childhood friend is coming to visit. Phew!

Of course this means there was a lot of food prep and consumption! For our Moose there was an amazing Harvest Minestrone soup. The recipe is from MindBodyGreen and is amazing.

I made a six quart pot of it….. And then for my carnivorous hubby, I took out two quarts, added 16 oz of beef stock and mini meatballs. Everyone was happy.

20131023-093016.jpg

I made kisir with both Moose and Liza. The recipe can be found in my previous post “Food is love…… A totally fun afternoon…..”. Both girls enjoyed it and will hopefully make it themselves.

With Tammy there was a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So much fun! And a leisurely dinner at Aroma Thyme. where we enjoyed great food and lovely company. The festival was a hoot too.

20131023-093922.jpg

All of the usual suspects continued in my day to day planning….. Meatloaf, quinoa, chicken…..ooooh!!! So for Sunday dinner with Tammy here, I made a YUMMY pasta dinner….
Pasta
Pesto
Sundried tomatoes
Chicken medallions
OH MY MY HOW DELISH!!! And super simple.

20131023-094358.jpg

This morning I prepared the fruit and nuts in sherry for the first fruit cake cookies of the season. Thanks Ina Garten!

What have you been cooking up?

The flavors of fall are the best. Get cooking people! And enjoy!!!!

Sweet cool treats ~ Smoothies and Sorbets

I have been getting more than my money’s worth from my Ninja lately. If you have a Vitamix you can play along with me too. I have been making smoothies and just started with sorbets as well.

I am drinking the last of this morning’s smoothie as I write this.

This is a protein smoothie, so here goes:

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 6 nice sized strawberries
  • a little water (1/4 cup?)
  • ice cubes ~ mine I use 6 -8 but ice maker may be different

Put the whole thing in the Ninja.

Pulse until smooth.

Drink!

I also put sorbet in the freezer. Ready?

Strawberry/banana sorbet:

  • 1 1/2 banana
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen fresh  strawberries
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (you could use agave or honey if you wish)

Pulse until smooth. Pour into a freezer safe container. Freeze. Eat!

image

These treats will be a regular part of my diet this summer. I have ideas and recipes for other fruit and combinations. In fact, you can make some of the a little spicy!

But for now, I am finishing my protein smoothie and waiting for my sorbet to set. I made a luscious salsa for dinner, but I will show you that tomorrow.

Try a smoothie. You can use the yogurt and fruit without the protein too. Either way… ENJOY!!

 

 

 

Summer salads ~ Easy and delicious carrot salad

The weather has been amazing so it has been hard to sit at a computer and write. If I had the photographic talent of others like Saltypalatte, I would be sharing pictures…but suffice it to say I have been drawn outdoors by that big beautiful spherical source of light and joy.

LET THE SALADS BEGIN!

This is a time to put away warm comfort foods and bring on the salads!! I started this weekend with one of the easiest and most delicious… Carrot salad. Now this salad has three – yes I said three – ingredients. That’s it. Two of these ingredients my husband dislikes, but the combination is so yummy it even pleases him.

You need
~ carrots, shredded
~ raisins
~ mayonnaise

Yup. That’s it. Put the shredded carrots in a bowl, add raisins to taste. Barry likes quite a few, so probably 2 cups carrots to nearly a cup of raisins. (You can also use craisins instead.) Put a healthy dollop of mayonnaise on top and mix. Taste a little. If you want more mayo, add a little more.

image

The only ingredient Barry likes is raisins. But the mixture of flavored makes a light and tasty salad. And it gets my hubby to eat carrots. This is amazing!

There are so many tasty salads and it is only May!!

Try this one. You can even buy the carrots already shredded … Can’t get much easier!

Ok, back outside in the sunshine to … Enjoy!

Finding Balance

Finding balance may be easy for some, but for me it is sometimes a challenge and the journey is always interesting. As things change in your life, as you encounter new obstacles, it is best to pause and consider…something I do often. Reflection is always better than abrupt lifestyle change.

And so I did what I have always done: plan, plan, plan!! So much of what I already do was perfect for my current circumstance, that being ‘medicinal eating.’ LOL The same preparations that come from that planning have gotten me through the worst of the adjustment with little effort. Again, I had to tone down the seasonings, herbs, and spices in my food, but the basic premise of planning ahead and planned leftovers has worked marvelously. One thing…

I MISS MY COFFEE!!!!

Aahhh…that’s better…not really, but it was nice of you all to let me share.

The key to any change has always been the same for me. Make changes wisely. Make changes thoughtfully. Make changes you can live with, not just temporary diets. Though my doctor will undoubtedly makes a few minor tweaks when I see him again in a month, the changes I am making are comfortable and doable. And when I am back to eating three times a day, that will be gradual. And adding the flavors I have come to love back into my cooking will be gradual too.

When the healing has taken place, we had a discussion of building up the stomach wall again to ‘tolerate’ spices, coffee, and so on. So I know that my flavor seeking days are only postponed and not denied. I did find in the midst of this that I had gradually altered my husband’s palate, an accomplishment which makes me quite proud. He loved the hot chilis in the North African eggs, where before he would have set the plate aside. He ordered a soup when we went out last week… it was a chicken tortilla soup…. spicy though he denied that it was! {wink} I am happy for him to be ignorant of what I have done to him.

Well, my thoughts for today… I have to go make Barry more of his favorite apple bread. We have added raisins to it now! The fridge and freezer have ample planned leftovers at the ready to make dinner for the week. Planning ahead and cooking ahead are the way I live. You should try it and always be able to enjoy!

 

Finding Balance ~ Eat well. Food heals.

So I have been on and off for a couple of weeks because I have been struggling to discover the reason I was having ‘tummy trouble.’  This is the kiss of death to a foodie! LOL!!

Three visits to the doctor, one to the ER, a dozen tests, and one final face to face with my beloved gastric specialist, and I have an answer and a cure. It is nothing drastic! Fear not. But it is something that must be attended to. So I have some medicine in pill form. And though I told the doctor I had all but stopped eating because it hurt to eat, he said his other prescription was food.

Food! I have to eat six small meals a day. And I need to add back some carbs for acid absorption.

Oh, and…. No coffee! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

I CAN DO THIS.

I think.

And my research began again. I looked for foods I can eat that are healthy, easy on the stomach, and have some, but not a lot of carbs! I found that what I already eat is good, with some adjustments to the herbs, spices, and seasonings.

I love cracked black pepper. For a while, this has to go. And garlic powder is a no-no.

Boyfriend’s AMAZING North African eggs (thank you Gordon Ramsay) with their hot chili peppers…. they have to wait too.

But my favorites are ok.

Dinner last night was Dutch oven pork tenderloin and apples. Delish and will make great pulled pork sammies tonight and tomorrow for Barry…he can have the BBQ sauce!  There is chicken in the Dutch oven today and quinoa with veggie broth on the stove. I hard boiled eggs to eat ~ and make egg salad. Edamame in the freezer. Yum! As I think about flavor I need to think gentle.

In the middle of all of this, there was also a dip in my potassium. The ER pumped me with an IV of it, and sent me home with a prescription. I looked up potassium rich foods and when I spoke to the gastric specialist I said I actually eat a potassium rich diet. He challenged me a little (with a grin) and said, oh yeah!? What foods would that be? Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocados, salmon…. and on and on. I ticked off the list and he smiled. No potassium supplement. Eat well. Food heals.

I was concerned that eating all day was going to be a weight issue. I have to say I am surprised by two things. One, I am tired of eating LOL! Two, I have lost 4 pounds eating ‘medicinally.’

So, remember as you search for recipes and for flavors, food is healing too. Listen to your body and then find the answers in food…but the right foods. All the more important to eat healthy, and eat fresh.

I have to go tend to my kitchen. We’ll talk more…. meanwhile, go enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ Lighten up!

After the holiday I feel weighed down. I mean, I indulged a bit. I keep close tabs on my weight and ridiculous as it seems, I came home 3 pounds lighter from the holiday weekend than I left. Yeah. Weird. After the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, and the cheeses, it is time to lighten up. At least for awhile. Then there is another holiday!

I have watched my cat, Fiona, plump up for the winter. Her fur is SO FLUFFY and it keeps her warm as the temperature has dropped. I believe we humans tend to change our eating with the seasons in part for the same reason. We need to plump up and keep warm. . . or so we think.  In the summer Barry and I live on salads. In the fall, the produce is abundant and we move to root vegetables. Then I start with the soups.

By winter, there is comfort in eating warm rich foods that fill our bellies. The truth is, though, that we have warm clothing and heated homes. We don’t need to bulk up and hunker down for winter. Think about it . . . then lighten up.

I think it is all about finding balance. If you keep it healthy and keep it fresh, there is room for indulgence. I always advocate seasonal eating. I also think that we can enjoy the holidays and the fun foods that come with them if we make it an exception and not a rule. There are websites that advocate ‘meatless Mondays’ but I propose a different thought. I propose choosing one day a week for summer eating. Make that day a salad day. Eat light. Find balance.

Make a new salad every week. In between the chili and the mac and cheese, have a light meal once a week. And if you have not started making your own dressing, PLEASE do so. It adds the final touch to a delicious fresh meal you have put together. My cupboard holds at least 6 kinds of vinegar: white wine, pear infused, tarragon, apple cider, red wine, balsamic, and distilled white. I change the flavor to enhance the salad ingredients.

Fresh dressing is delightful and easy to make. Pick out a bottle of dressing in your fridge and read the ingredients. Make your own and choose them. I propose you start with a simple tarragon dressing.

In the bottom of your salad bowl, put 2 tablespoons of tarragon vinegar. Add one teaspoon of mustard. I use a Dijon. Crush in tarragon leaves, about a teaspoon. In summer, go with fresh. In winter I admit I use dried. Now get your whisk ready and stream in olive oil. You will end up putting in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. It depends on you. When you have the 1/4 cup in, taste a little, then stream some more until it tastes good to you! A good dressing doesn’t really need salt and pepper. And a well dressed salad doesn’t need to be surrounded with bottles. Even on a holiday I make the salad with dressing and serve it ready to eat.

Now despite having a cupboard full of vinegar, Barry and I are not huge vinegar lovers! The variety of flavors make the dressings unique and delicious so I use them. Sparingly. And here is a little trick. If the vinegar is too sharp add a little squirt of clear agave or simple syrup. It cuts the sharpness.

Now I did say put the ingredients in the bottom of a salad bowl. Then create the salad in the bowl and on top of your delicious dressing.  Add chopped Romaine, maybe some chopped endive, chopped radicchio, diced pears and a soft cheese, like goat cheese. toss gently. Steam some edamame to add protein to the meal and enjoy.

So, enjoy your fall and early winter meals. Find a little balance by adding “Salad Sunday” to your week and lighten up! As always… enjoy!

Planning ahead . . . Planned leftovers and the Big Feast!

We won’t be home for Thanksgiving. We are the happy guests of Boyfriend’s dad, Jack, and his lady, Kay. Off to Rochester we go on Wednesday for the Big Feast Day!  There are plans to be made for laundry and packing, but more importantly ~ the food! 🙂

It is Monday and I will tell you that I have been mulling the idea of the meal for at least a week. There was correspondence between BF, Kay and me. Tammy is on that email list, but she backs away from the planning and defers to BF and me. Actually, after last Thanksgiving (evidence above!!), so does Kay! LOL

Mike and Tammy went to their lovely Farmer’s Market and bought the following:

  • 6 Pints of Brussels sprouts
  • 2 large red, 2 large white onions
  • 2 lbs of green beans
  • 1 huge head of broccoli
  • 1 quart of heavy cream
  • 2 large bunches of carrots (regular and heirloom)
  • 5 lbs of red potatoes
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 lb of locally roasted coffee (Cro-Magnon)
  • 2 medium and 1 massive butternut squash
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Lots of rosemary

This is actually a copy and paste of BF’s list. And then he wrote… “So I hope the entire eastern front is coming to dinner.” LOL!!! We are going to have a spectacular meal and many great leftovers. With all of these lovely flavors, we will have 3 turkeys (Jack loves the smokers and Kay puts one in the oven.), garlic and dill potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, a plethora of lovely fresh veggies ~ steamed broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans with almonds and onions, roasted root veggies, etc, ~ and I have no idea how, but dessert.

Before we leave the Catskills and head to Rochester on Wednesday I have some work to do. Last year I was a little crazy, but the beauty of my journey is this… I am learning to do things better! Planning is key. So I have the list ready of what I am bringing and what I am making. Last year I tried to make garlic dill potatoes and was surprised that there was no dill in her house. Silly me. I use so much dill I couldn’t imagine anyone who didn’t have it in theirs! Ha. So I will bring dill.

I am not convinced that is enough onions, so I am bringing more. I am going to bring bacon. Here is the trick, I will buy it and freeze it. On the trip up it will be safely cold and begin to thaw for morning! I am doing to same with bread. I am going to buy bread and freeze it today. On the trip up it will also defrost and be fresh and ready for eating.

So today I am going to the market to pick up the last few things I need. I am also bringing Wednesday’s dinner. I am going to make soup, salad, and bread. That discussion will continue tomorrow.  I will talk about the menu and how I will prepare it to carry and put it together in 10-15 minutes when we get there!

I am also making planned leftovers. I am going to pick up the makings for one of Barry’s favorite foods, mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli. I will make enough for today and tomorrow. Then I will freeze a couple of servings for when we return. I will eat the chicken and broccoli, but without the pasta. So I am not really making two meals.

Now you know I am not a baker, but there are a couple of things I am pretty good at making, so I will make and bring those… fruit cake cookies and chocolate chip cookie bars. Maybe apple bread too, but not sure.

So listen people, the message is this. Plan! Plan! Plan! Make sure you have thought out the meal itself and the meals around it. I am already planning meals for turkey leftovers… And plan something simple for dinner in the meantime so that part is easy.

I need to go shopping now. But tomorrow we will talk about a meal to go of chicken lemon soup, tarragon salad, and bread.  If you are interested in making the soup with me you will need: 6 – 8 cups chicken stock, parsley, 2 – 3 lemons, the rind of a chunk of Parmesan cheese, chicken (rotisserie if you can get it on sale), 1 bay leaf, 2 carrots, 1 cup orzo, salt. (optional: Shredded Romano cheese to sprinkle on top when serving.)

Make that list and make sure the day is not full of stress, but rather full of food, fun, and family! Enjoy!!