You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Healthy Beginnings’ tag.

20120803-110152.jpg

I might be in love. With two things, actually. The soup I threw together this evening and… Parsley. I’m not in love with having to write this post for the second time since I’m still coordinating the iPhone app with the online postings… Oh well. Some of my witty thoughts may be missing from this version. Can only hope I’ve learned my lesson: refresh the app before you edit and update the post!

Soup is a fickle friend to our family. I think I might be the only one who really likes it. My two little boys won’t eat it and my husband seems to view it as the last bastion of the ailing – he’ll usually only eat it if he’s sicker than a dog. Add to that my lack of proficiency in soup-making and, well, I don’t really hold it against him that this dish didn’t thrill him.

On the other hand, I was tickled pink with the results! This recipe was simple, filling, economical and protein-packed with an anti-inflammatory boost from the parsley. Parsley: it’s not just a throw-away garnish!

Edamame and Quinoa Corn Soup

1/3 c white quinoa (mine was pre-rinsed)
1 bag Cascadian Farms brand frozen, shelled edamame
1 1/2 c Imagine brand Organic Creamy Corn Soup
1/2 sweet onion, diced fairly large
1/8 c parsley, roughly chopped
Seasonings to taste (a dash of cayenne and a bit more salt are must haves)

Add the quinoa to 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer and cover for about 10 minutes. Add the frozen edamame and corn soup; increase heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to keep quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add onion and seasonings of choice – I like Nature’s Seasonings blend and a Kroger Pizza Seasonings blend in addition to cayenne and salt. Oh, and garlic powder. Cook for about 5 more minutes and test/adjust seasonings as needed. After a couple more minutes, turn off heat and add parsley (please don’t just skip it, I’m begging you – you’ll love what it adds). Serve immediately with crusty wheat bread and olive oil for dipping the bread.

Sometimes, just sometimes, things are so tasty that I’m not really all that sorry that I’m the only one in the house who eats them!

What ingredients are your favorite to use when you’re low on time, cash or patience and you need some at least a half-homemade fare?

If you’ve never encountered the art of Bento Boxes, you really must take a quick peek over here at Anna the Red’s amazing art. Her “My Neighbor Totoro”-inspired series is the best. I’ve loved that movie since I first saw it in Japanese at a friend’s house around 1989 or so. Our VHS copy is among those few that remain since converting most of our other movies to DVD.

One of my favorite Anna the Red creations.

So I’ve decided that this is the next food project I want to tackle… And I’ve made a few tentative forays so far. A few nights ago, I designed little pictures on my boys plates for dinner and, between the two of them, they ate every crumb on both plates. (Sure, there was a little food-swapping going on, but hey, whatever!)

I didn’t get any pictures of those two plates, but I did another for my little guy this evening and, while it certainly wasn’t any kind of proper Bento, I really liked the way it looked.

Hummus, Goldfish, Cheese, Blueberries and Edamame - Yum!

He gobbled up the crackers, hummus, cheese and blueberries but made a face at the edamame (though he did try it twice and didn’t throw any on the floor – yay!).

Inspired by my meager “success”, I decided I could do a little box of tuna-egg salad for my lunch for tomorrow. Here’s what was born:

My very first Bento - A Baby Bento, if you will.

This feels like the beginning of a very enjoyable creative endeavor… As if I needed another hobby! However, this one, at least, did not require any investment in special equipment. Thankfully. Certainly, I could have spent oodles and oodles on the amazing variety of beautiful Bento boxes and assorted paraphernalia. But my collection of plastic storage boxes is epic (thanks, in part, to my dear spouse who’s probably the most prolific lunch-packer I’ve ever known… Save maybe my mom…) so I’ll be using those for now and getting crazy creative later.

Wish me luck!!

I just can’t resist – I have at least three recipes hanging out in the wings, replete with photos, but summer seems to hold a premium on my time that just won’t allow for sit-down-and-type-a-proper-blog-post. A shrug of the shoulders follows and I figure I’ll catch up over the winter.

HOW.E.VER

I can’t resist throwing out a teaser of things to come, like a Zucchini Raw Pasta that was tested and found more-than-passable by raw foodies and those not so into that lifestyle alike. I’m also scheming an alternate version of my friend’s luscious mac and cheese recipe, probably with black beans because my littlest child loves his “bees” (we’re working on getting the “n” in there).

The Farmer’s Market near my home has yielded some wonderful food, including my first ever brush with garlic from somewhere other than the grocery store. W-O-W!! I couldn’t believe the difference – the soft, velvety texture and gentler aroma of the fresh garlic was just another reminder of why I’m trying to learn more about fresh, whole foods. Exquisite!

So. Teaser for you, my Dear Reader, and motivation for me to follow-up later! Happy Eating!!

Have window sill, can grow.

This could possibly be the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. No, really. I think it might even beat out the time when I was 18 and talked two elderly, retired gentlemen I’d never met before to motor me around Lake Lanier (in North Georgia) to find some friends who were out on a sailboat I’d never seen before and that had no working radio on board.

I. Am. Growing. Something. Edible.

Beans + Water + Time = Sprouts

Purposely. For the very first time. Ever.

They were shrivelled before they went into the cold water. I promise.

So, yeah, you can get technical with me if you really must and point out that I’m only sprouting them, not actually growing them into full and proper plants that will produce more of the same.

Bah, I say – These suckers are G-R-O-W-I-N-G!

Look at these lovely little sprouts!

Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about actually eating them once they’re grown. Especially since I missed a rinse cycle this morning. The instructions for sprouting all have a ring of absolute authority to them and I have no previous experience, even as a bystander, so I’m wary. I’ve rinsed them well to try and get the slightly slippery feeling mostly gone. There’s also a portion of the batch that’s grown more than the rest so I’ve separated them out. The “less grown” have gone back into my sprouting jar and the “more grown” (I’m tempted to call them “horny”) are in the process of drying out so I can seal them and refrigerate them until tomorrow.

It's horny... Like a unicorn!

Upcoming: Sprouted Raw Almond Hummus – Because I’m soaking some almonds now, too. Wheee!

Wow... Now I want ANOTHER!

There’s a lot of stuff in this one besides chicken, so I’m tempted to come up with another name for it. Honestly, though? I’m doing well enough as it is to be sitting at the computer writing a blog post. Not that I haven’t been at the computer enough already today (read: “real” work from 6:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) (yes, those times are correct) (no, I don’t intend to repeat that again tomorrow as I have already logged similar hours the first three days this week), it’s just that I really liked my thrown-together version and wanted to share it. Immediately. As in, without waiting for the Creativity Genie to show up and give me a good name for this concoction.

For the record, I categorized this as “Convenient & Conscious”, but truth be told, it’s closer to the former and rather far from the latter in most respects. Still, I made it myself which meant I had control of the constituent elements. Always a good thing in my book!

I started with a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken from our friendly, neighborhood Publix. I’d had a thought that I might just pick up some pre-made chicken salad from their deli but what I found in the case was far too “wet” for my preference. Yuck-o to mayo! Okay, most mayo, most of the time, the way most people wield it.

The chicken contributed the better part of one breast. Yes, I could have picked the carcass clean, but I had been hungry when I left work, driven to Publix, navigated the after-work crowds, and finished my drive home. I diced it up pretty small because I’m opposed to getting a huge chunk in my mouth. Textural issues, mm-hm.

Then I diced two celery ribs into small cubes, about the same size as the chicken. Good for crunch! Next I added about half a bag of – don’t shoot me – SunMaid Fruit Bits. I liked the variety: apples, raisins, peaches, prunes, apricots. Who could resist?

I contemplated adding nuts and settled on pinenuts. I don’t think they’re real nuts (seeds, maybe?) but they’re the sort of crunchy I was hoping to get. A sprinkle of pepitas (a.k.a. hulled, roasted, salted pumkin seeds) followed, then a very obnoxious generous helping of hempseeds. At the end of it all, I mixed in some Smart Balance mayo – the smallest amount I felt like I could get by with and have it seem close enough to something I could reasonably call “chicken salad”. I don’t know why it needed to fit under that umbrella, it just did. Deal.

It stinks that my husband is probably going to finish off the rest of it that I didn’t have for dinner but I suppose he’s entitled to eat, too. Drat!

Oh! And the wrap was a brand I’d never tried before but really enjoyed: La Tortilla Factory’s Smart & Delicious Whole Grain White Soft Wraps made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Each tortilla wrap is only 100 calories and has 13 grams of FIBER – that’s 52% of the RDA. Wheeee! They’re just a little stretchy rather than the dry, brittle standard flour tortillas you get grocery-marketing. I’m not brave enough to try making my own tortillas – okay, well, I really just don’t want to get the whole counter all flour-y – so these will do just fine.

What do you put in YOUR chicken salad?

Scrumptious!

Wondering how to make your tuna salad better than the slop they serve at the diner on the corner? There are lots of simple ways to improve on the standard tuna-mayo-relish-bread that many of us grew up eating. I must confess, though; I never ate tuna salad before I met my husband. It’s true: Never. I don’t like mayonnaise, fish has never been a favorite, and eating COLD fish always just seemed so ew!

Nevertheless, the hubby convinced me [shocker] to try it out. On Ritz crackers, of course. And I really enjoyed his version! Pretty standard alternate combo: tuna-hard boiled egg-mayo-salt-pepper. I’d never eaten egg salad before either so it was a totally new thing altogether.

There are several small ways to turn this into a conscious, while still convenient, meal that’s delicious to boot. Encorporate them all together for the most impact or simply choose the ones that you are most comfortable using.

Tuna: go for a wild-caught tuna that has a low mercury content, like Oregon’s Choice.

Eggs: Locally-sourced, organic, pastured chicken eggs provide the highest quality but may not be readily available in your area. Check your local supermarket, farmers market or CSAs to find ethically produced eggs.

Mayonnaise: If you’re feeling particularly motivated, you can certainly make your own. Or there are plenty of organic, vegetarian and vegan options in the average grocery store. We usually have one made with canola or olive oil hanging around our refrigerator.

Celery: Since you’ll be eating all of the stalk (i.e. there’s no peel to remove), it’s best to go for organic to minimize your exposure to unwanted pesticide residue. If that’s not an option, wash well with a fruit & vegetable wash. I like to diced mine into small squares to maximize their CRUNCH potential!

Salt: A good quality celtic sea salt or other salt that hasn’t been stripped of its naturally occuring minerals, like Himalayan pink sea salt really enhances both the flavor and the nutrient profile. Conventional table salt that’s been treated with caustic chemicals is a wholly different, non-nutritional additive that can contribute to a host of maladies, including high blood pressure. Not. Good.

Pepper: Get out your grinders! Use any variety of whole peppercorn you prefer, grinding it fresh into your tuna salad as the final ingredient. Such a wonderful flavor that really contributes depth to the taste profile of the whole dish.

Finally, get creative with your presentation. Sure, you can always dig out some stale crackers, but why not give it a gorgeous green gown? I piled mine on crisp green leaf lettuce and baby spinach leaves then sprinkled hempseeds on top. Roll into a wrap and voila!

Patience Required to Photograph before Enjoying

See the recipe for this dish on this blog.

Looks pretty simple, huh?

So, I was in the kitchen, looking through the pantry, trying to decide what to do with my pound of ground beef. There are some pretty standard options available for making use of ground beef. Burgers with canned corn and frozen fries. A childhood favorite: ground beef crumbles in instant mashed potatoes. Burritos. Quesadillas. Meatball sandwiches.

Hmm… Read the rest of this entry »

Mountain Rose Herbs

Mountain Rose Herbs