Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zucchini Bread

Well to say I love coffee cake style breads is a gross understatement. I love to have a nice thick slice and dunk it my one cup of coffee in the morning. Oh heck, let's be honest, I could grab a chunk of that stuff and stab someone with my fork if they made an attempt to share a piece with me. Don't mess with my canoli's or my coffee cakes.

I had purchased three zucchini's thee other day as an emergency to hold us over until we got to the produce stand. I did not get to use them in a recipe until today. I was thumbing through two of my favorite books and could not find anything under zucchini. But I was obviously looking in the wrong place. I was scouring the entire recipe index and low and behold, looky what I found. A zucchini bread recipe. My oh my! This is so good. Takes me back to wintertime. OK so in Florida our winter is a wee bit different than the rest of the world. But a girl can hope, can't she?

Simple ingredients and oh so healthy and good. Imagine that?! Make this and you will love me in the morning. And who can we thank for this lovely recipe? You guessed it, Sarah Kramer's, 'How it all Vegan. I still say this book will save my life. Her vegan recipes are easy, simple and yet still tasty and delicious. Chalk one up for Miss Sarah folks!

1&1/2 cups flour (we ground our own)
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1&1/2 t cinnamon
egg replacer (to equal 1 egg) (we used cornstarch for our replacement)
1/2 cup sweetener (we used raw sugar)
1/3 cup oil
1t vinegar
1t vanilla extract
1&1/2 cups zucchini, grated (about 1&1/2 small zucchini's)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used almonds)
1/4 cup water (we had to use another 1/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the egg replacer, sweetener, oil, vinegar, and vanilla, and mix. Stir in zucchini, raisins, and nuts and mix together gently until 'just mixed."

Add a little water if the dough seems too dry. Spoon the batter into a lightly oiled loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Test with a knife to see if done. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving . Makes 1 loaf.

YUMMO! This is such a KEEPER!!!

Hidden MSG

I will never forget the first time I heard those three letters. I was still in high school and was a waitress at Denny's. A man came to sit at the counter and wanted to order a bowl of the days soup. But he asked me if there was MSG in it, for he was allergic to MSG. I promptly went to one of the cooks on duty and asked him. Looking back now I relaize that he most more than likely did not know himself, unless he had a container the soup came in sitting right in front of him.

Once I learned what MSG it hit me that my grandmother used it All-The-Time. Why do I know this. Well she was a frequent user of the product Accent. And get this, she laso loved her salt shaker. But, she did have a viable argement for using said products. Every time she went for her check-up, other than her weight, her blood pressuer, cholesterol and everything else connected to hyper-tension was not there. So in her mind, why give it up if there have been no reprecussions. I have to agree, but not with the MSG thing, that stuff is just wrong. I say we start a anti-MSG campaign, or group, or something.

But on to the point of this post.

I was reading a small snippet in a little magazine that you can most more than likely find in your local grocery store, or health food store or somehting related to health. The magazine is called: delicious living

And here is what the snippet said about MSG. And darned these companies for hiding and lying to us about hidden ingredients. *&#!!$^) companies.

The food additive monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is linked to migraine headaches and hyperactivity in children. If you see hydrolyzed in an ingredients list, the product contains MSG. Watch for the following terms, which also signal MSG.

*autolyzed yeast
*calcium caseinate
*glutamic acid
*hydrolized corn gluten
*hydrolized protein, such as wheat, soy, or vegetable protein
*monopotassium glutamate
*sodium caseinate
*textured protein

Well there you have it folks. Now it will be my job to get in touch with some of the companies I still purchase processed products form to see if they do inject their foods with derivatives of MSG or not. But if this keeps up then I will soon have nothing from a box in my pantry. This is getting to be a wee bit more difficult that I thought. Guess I will have to rethink, once again how I will be cooking and or planning out our meals.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The 12 Commandments of Food

If you have access to Natural Awakenings, by all means pick up July's issue, it has some rather amazing articles. It has a small blurb about a on line movie/video about stuff. Which I blogged about in my regular blog just thee other day. But then I happened upon a small article with a questionnaire with Michael Pollan. I wish I could put thee entire article here, but suffice it to say his ideas are like none other I have read about. And guess what? They make perfect sense. At leas tot those of us how try and eat as naturally as possible. But what I found interesting, is that he has 12 commandments of food that people should follow. And once again, they make utter and complete sense. And here are those 12 Commandments:

1. Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
2. Avoid products containing ingredients you can't pronounce.
3. Don't eat anything, that won't eventually rot.
4. Avoid food products that carry health claims.
5. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle aisle.
6. Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or community supported agriculture.
7. Pay more eat less.
8. Eat a wide variety of species.
9. Eat food from animals that eat grass.
10. Cook, and if you can, grown your won food.
11. Eat meals, and eat them only at tables.
12. Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure.

Surprisingly enough, many if not all of these I follow, save for a few items we purchase (meat analogs), but we are so desperately trying to let go of those items. But it is difficult to make your own veggie bacon, hot dogs and such. But it is my goal to at least attempt to make these foods and from scratch. Wish me luck.

But try if you can to implement as many of these commandments as you possibly can. You know them all to be things we should all be living by, but we will endlessly make up excuses to try and find ways not to do these things, that we know will better our health and in turn better our lives. Do what you can and keep on trying.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Would You Like With Your Fast Food?

Fast Food: Would You Like 1,000 Calories with That?

Could someone tell me why any company/restaurant would even make a meal with that many calories. If I am not mistaken the AMA says we should eat on average a 2,000 calorie diet, which of course should not be laden with fat calories. And yet you walk into any fast food joint and their dishes are a majority of fat. Not good. I prefer my calories to come from veggies and even those who still consume meat, yes there are leaner types of meat to consume. Trust me when I say you do not need to eat a double-cheese-triple bacon- two stacker burger. Oh...yeah there is a half a leaf of lettuce on there, maybe 2 pickles and a slice of tomato. Woooooeee!

I love watching the commercials for the fast food joints, for they portray their consumers as lean, healthy vibrant folks. And yet, if you sit and watch the type of folks that do frequent those establishments, you would be hard pressed to see anyone coming form the gym to stop by Mickey D's and slide up to the booth and eat a meal slathered in fat and calories.

I have taken the liberty of going to a few different fast food websites and looked up nutritional information. This is nothing I am making up, for it is right on their own website. And I have to believe, or want to believe that if some people had this information put in their faces, they might make different choices. But there are those few (and that few, is an ever growing number, that being overweight people) who may still never make that choice. So here for your viewing please some of the numbers of what is out there and the fact that we call it food.

Chicken Pot Pie=
690 calories
360 calories from fat
Total fat - 40 (That is more than a days worth of fat in just one small meal)
Saturated fat - 30
Cholesterol - 95 mg
Sodium - 1760mg (no, that is not a typo)
Dietary fiber - 3 grams
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese++=
450 calories
290 calories from fat
Total fat - 32 (An entire days calories in just a sandwich)
Saturated fat - 14
Cholesterol - 130 mg
Sodium - 360mg
Dietary fiber - A Big Fat "0"
Pizza Hut:
12 Inch Medium Hand Tossed Style Pizza Cheese=
(I am going on thee assumption that most folks eat 2 slices. And that will be the numbers I am crunching)
440 Calories
140 Calories from fat
Total Fat - 16 gm
Saturated fat - 8 gm
Cholesterol - 40 mg
Sodium - 1100mg (Again, that is not a typo)
Dietary Fiber - 2gm

As you can see from a slew of different menu's, it is not the interest of any of these companies to give us anything healthy. And if they even try to claim that I would call them a liar to their face. I was also wondering if they themselves, meaning the top executives eat their own food. (I also say the same thing about the tobacco industry, would they promote their product to their own kids. Makes you think doesn't it?)

We have the power through our dollars to stand up and tell these places that we are not going to stand for the crap they are serving us and calling it food

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yes You Can

Giving up things should not always be depicted as deprivation. I gave up meat and my table is not hurting. And neither is my stomach. And yet, my stomach does not seem to be getting bigger, and man oh man can Savanah and I put away some food. And it dawned on me this last Thanksgiving that even though I made a Turkey for my husband, son and in-laws, our table was filled with mostly vegan food and it was dee-lish-us.

I used to be a very snobby vegetarian, the first time around that is...back in 92-95. But then I matured, and listened to my daughter. who knew you could learn wisdom from a 14 year old. Well I did. I would ask, (to no one in particular) why couldn't so-and-so, get with the program? And it was not in reference to becoming a vegetarian. I don't expect thee entire world to give up meat just because I did. OK, I do but I am not going to get all preachy about it.

What I do is throw it back into their laps and make them think about it and it's funny. By them just being in my presence, they kind of get this guilty look on their face when they even mention meat. As if it is a bad thing. You think? And most of the time they immediately rebound by saying, we do what we can. And I will give them that. But what is it that you are doing that makes you say that? Have you changed your eating habits in any way? Even a small one, such as letting go of some processed foods, go meatless one night, or even one meal a day, how about losing fast food. Pick a type of fast food, any fast food, and you will see what I am talking about.

But every time I talk to people who keep telling me they can't do something...anything, I gently remind them that it's not that they can't, it's that they won't and there is a difference. My all time favorite is, of course, with me begin a vegetarian, is that, 'Oh, I can't give up meat.' Yes you can, you just choose not too, big difference. I don't say it in a condescending manner, just a statement of fact. They don't say much and usually agree with me.

But what I do tell them when we get on any subject of health is that all they have to do is make small changes. Get use to those small changes, let those changes become part of their every day life, let them become instinctual, then move on to the next thing. For instance, when I roll my grocery cart down the cereal aisle, I no longer even look to see what I should buy, for I no longer think in that manner. To me cereal is a foreign object now.

But I tell my friends who try and make excuses for not getting something done in their lives is, 'Yes you can.', if you want it bad enough. You find a game plan and make it work. Save financial situations and some, not all health issues. People will excuse their lives away if you let them. I try to give them hope that they can do whatever they want. You've got to want something bad enough first. I knew I wanted to have my back heal after going through surgery in July of 2008. The doctors had done what they were supposed to do, now it was my turn to take the baton and run with it (not literally). I could find a hundred and one excuses why I could not get out and do a daily walk, but bottom line, the responsibility falls on to my shoulders...no one elses'.

Now, I walk at least 4-5 times a week, and anywhere from 30-45 minutes per walk. There are days I have to make myself, but most of the time I am good to go. And the one benefit I never saw coming was that I dropped 10 pounds, without even trying. I, as Nike says, 'Just Did It'.

So my words of wisdom to those who feel it is hopeless in any aspect of your life is, 'Yes, You Can.' If I can recover as well as I have from major spinal surgery, then you my friends can tackle whatever you want.

I love these words from a father to his daughter in the movie Contact. The young character wants to move ahead by leaps and bounds in the science world, but her father keeps reminding her, 'Small moves Ellie, small moves.'

And how did the ant eat the elephant...one bite at a time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cousin Natasha's Rice & Bean Salad

OK, Sarah should be giving me commission for all the free press she is getting on her book. Naaah, just kididn'. Anyhow, I took a good look at the front cover of her , 'How it all vegan' book and I saw this salad. So, I went in the book, and I am guessing I found the right recipe, or so I hope. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Because the one I made was fabulous. Great ingredients and I could have had this one as an entire meal, but we had some tempeh to cook before it went, and there you have it folks...cooking out of necessity. Ahhh, what a shame.

1 cup cooked rice (we use brown)
1 large red onion, diced
2 or more medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1/2 medium green pepper, diced
1 cup corn (we used frozen, thawed)
2 cups cooked black, or kidney beans
1 avocado, diced
6-10 sprigs cilantro, chopped (we were out)
2 T red wine vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)
dash of cayenne pepper
juice of one lemon
dash of hot sauce (we used saracha) sp?)
Wash and prepare all the vegetables and place them and the other ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir together well and chill before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Just so you all know I am mad, that I had to share this dish. Next time I will send everyone away and have it all to myself.

Vegan BBQ Sauce

I have been looking for a BBQ sauce for ages. And since I am not a full fledged vegan, have a vegan recipe was not on the top of my priority list. But every where I looked many recipes had Worcestershire sauce in it, so I started looking for recipes and added the word vegan to it.

Well, it must have been fate, for I had come across this recipe before. Whoa! This is easy schmeazy and most of us have all these ingredients in our kitchen. We made about three new recipes tonight so hold on to your butts, because it's about to get crowded in here.

I found the recipe here a while back and never made it, now when I needed a vegan recipe I got sent back here. Fate? I think not.

SmarterFitter Blog

1/2 cup catsup
1/8 cup water (more or less for desired thickness)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (or more ( I mean, why not?)
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
Combine ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

I swear, I would pour this over my ice cream and eat it, it is that good. Nah!, but you get my meaning. Now stay tuned, for I am going to post a tempeh recipe in which you can use the BBQ sauce. Woo Hoo!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Pay The Price

So yesterday was our 28th anniversary, yep and to the same man. Hector wanted to take me to dinner, but told our daughter how difficult it was, now that I was a vegetarian. Has he forgotten that he has changed his eating habits quite a bit as well, even though he has not for gone meat? Well, we find out this morning, just how much our eating habits effect what we do.

Dinner was decent enough. I, of course, pick thee only vegetarian option on the menu. Yes I could eat a salad, but been there done that. So I order the black bean veggie burger with fries. (I openly admit to 'loving' fries). My husband ordered some salad with blue cheese dressing and I think small fried chicken strips. Trust me when I say there was more crap in there than salad fixin's. And lest we not forget the dressing. Nothing beats the heck out of my fresh homemade dressings.

Se upon hubby's rising he made his way to the little boys room. then he found me in the kitchen making coffee and admitted that he now understands why we do not eat out. That is the price we pay for eating healthy. But was that a complaint? I'm still not sure. By eating at home, we; know what is going into our food, like what we eat, don't get sick from it, digestive track not out of whack from it, are not drinking tons of liquid to flush out the excess sodium in whatever we ate.

But all in all it was a great experience. Oh and since it was a sports bar, I got, on a huge screen TV nothing but that UFC fighting. How glorious to view a bunch of @$%&(# trying to beat the living snot out of one another while I am trying to eat. Not to self. No more sports bars.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

I love bread. I love everything about it. Grinding the wheat, setting up my supplies, kneading the dough, watching it rise and then the smell of it while it is baking. There is nothing more satisfying then to have warm bread colling on a wire rack then cutting into it with some softened butter. Ooo la la.

This is a recipe I got form Sue Gregg. She is the queen of bread making and I thoroughly recommend you visit her site and buy her books. They are worth it truly.

1)Proof yeast: Dissolve yeast with honey in water in a glass measuring cup; let stand 5-10 minutes until bubbles up:
1/4 cup lukewarm water (100-115 degrees)
1 T honey
1 T (1 package) active dry yeast

2) Blend in mixing bowl in order given:
2&1/2 cups hot water (120-125 degrees)
2t salt
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1/8 t vitamin C crystals or 250 mg. crushed or 1 T Dough Enhancer, optional
3 cups whole wheat flour

3) Blend in yeast; mix in remaining flour while easy to stir; then turn dough out on a floured surface to knead in rest of flour as needed to prevent sticking:
proofed yeast mixture
3-3&1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Oatmeal addition:
Follow directions as above but change these directions:
Add to hot water and allow to soak for 30 minutes:
2 cups uncooked rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds, optional (we did not have any so they did not go in)

Omit or reduce honey and /or oil if desired ( we did not omit anything)
Reduce whole wheat flour by 1-2 cups as needed. Finish loaves as directed.

4) Knead until smooth and elastic, and resistant

5) Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, oil top of dough lightly, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1-1&1/2 hours.

6) Gently punch down in center, knead lightly

7) Shape, let rise, bake and cool according to recipe used for breads, rolls, or pizza crust.

Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Once dough has had a second rise and placed in the loaf pans, put the bread in the oven then turn down to 340 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes.

I found the dough to be a bit stickier, but kneaded it the same exact way. I did not however add more dough, even though it was tempting. Once I ran out of required amount of dough I stopped kneading, which was exactly the time I was use to.

This was thee most delicious bread I have ever tasted to date. This will definitely be made again in this home.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How Did That Happen?!

I don't step on scales any longer. You want to know why? Because you should not have to...that's why. If you feel good, are eating properly, fitting into your clothes, then why would you...get on a scale that is? Does it really truly matter? The last time I stepped on a scale was when I went to the doctors office, and that is because I am made to. I may not do that next time I am in, what's the relevance?

So I had noticed that my jeans were feeling a bit loose the last few times I put them on. Even when they had been freshly washed. And we all know who tight jeans are at that time. But I blew it off and kept on keepin' on.

Now for the record, my husband has been steadily losing weight these last few months. And truth be told, thee only thing that has changed (other than losing processed sugar) is the fact that he has added exercise to his daily routine. That is not to say that he goes to the gym 7 days a week. Oh not, he hits the gym about 4-5 days, depending on his schedule or how tired he is. To date, he has lost 34 pounds. And yet he still feels the need to step on a scale.

We talked about it before dinner. Here is my theory. If you started out a a size 44 waist and your goal is a 24 waist. Who cares whether you are 210 pounds, 200 or 180. As long as you fit into the clothes you are striving for, who cares.

So here I sit with the size that I am happy with, and all I have left to do is firm up what I already have, which is just a baby pooch. Those muscle need to be worked and worked a lot, but since my back surgery 1 year ago, my ability to or the types of exercising I coudl do was extremely limited. To date all I do is walk 20-30 mint es 4-5 times a week and a little bit of weight training, if I can remember that is. I hit the pavement between 6AM and 7AM and there you have it.

So what did the scales say when I got on them? I am now 10 pounds lighter than I was 1 year ago. How did that happen? I am now doing what is right for me and my body so we can live a long and healthy life.

Vanilla Cake

You people are probably tired of me singing the praises of this woman and her cookbook. Her, being Sarah Kramer, the book being How it all Vegan! I simply cannot rave enough about this book. It's stylish, catchy retro styling, the ease to which the recipes are laid out and the not having to go out and purchase super weird ingredients that you will only use for one recipe. Yeah, who likes that. No one that I know of. So, hold on to your waistlines honeys, I got a cake that will knock your socks off. And could you serve it for a Birthday? By all means. The Icing/whipped cream recipe that I sued did not fit the bill for what most of us know as 'traditional' icing, but I made this cake last night and it is 75% gone as I type this post.

Please keep in mind that I use fresh ground flour and my cake is going to be heavier/earthier than those of you who use lighter, whiter flour. With that said, let's get down to some serious baking.

1&1/2 cups flour (we used whole wheat)
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup dry sweetner (we used raw sugar)
3/4 cup milk (we used almond)
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 cup oil (we used peanut)
egg replacer (to equal 1 egg) (we used cornstarch)
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sweetner, milk, oil, and egg replacer and mix together gently until 'just mixed." Pour into a lightly oiled cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a knife to see if done. When cooled, ice and (recipe to follow) serve.

I wish there was some way I could hug Sarah, but all I can do is sing the praises of her book and let you folks know just how much I enjoy using her recipes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nugget Style Hot Cereal

We found this recipe when we lived in Michigan. Yes we lived up north and we miss it terribly. And when living there, we ate more hot food in general. More soups, and more hot breakfasts. When we turned over the back of a box of Grape Nuts we found a hot cereal recipe. We no ,longer buy anything from Post so we buy the generic version and get the same results.

However I usually was not the one making this dish, for Daddy always seemed to have made them so much better. But due to Daddy's early morning shifts mom had to learn to make them in Dad's absence. Hence this post.

I am not a wing it kind of gal. I like a recipe to follow, at least initially, then I can work with what I have in front of me. But today I walked on the wild side and figured I would measure as I went along and see if my measurements worked. VIOLA! First time I out nailed it. Yeah to me. So go get a box of nugget style cereal and make this, you and the kiddies will not be disappointed.

1&1/2 cups of nugget style cereal
1&1/4 cups milk (we used almond)
1/4 cup raw sugar
2T butter (vegans do your thing)
Put all ingredients in a medium-sized pot. Turn to medium high for 2-3 minutes then turn down to simmer until butter is melted. Serve hot. This recipe serves 2, so if you have a crowd, adjust accordingly.