Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I know I am going to be crying pretty much all day. I have to say goodbye to a dear friend, our 14 year old dog Shelby, who has bone cancer. He has gotten to that place that there is no turning back. He is in a lot of pain. It is hard for him to get up and down the stairs to go in and out of the house now and I cannot ask him to limp around for my benefit any longer. It is so sad. I cannot stand the thought of him going away today. He will be joining our beloved Sugar who was his playmate when he was a puppy. She has been gone for 7 1/2 years now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another take on Oatmeal

Okay, so it is getting cold and oatmeal is my go to breakfast right now. The add-ins are endless and so I have to share my latest and greatest:

Quinoa & Oatmeal with Toasted Seeds and Dates

1. Toast up some pumpkin and sunflower seeds (and a few raisins LOL) in a skillet. This makes them aromatic and deliciously nutty. Do Not Burn!!!!

2. Chop up a few dates (I used 5) for some natural sweetness

3. Precook about 1/4 cup of Quinoa (rinsed) in a Pyrex measuring cup with about 1/2 cup water. I cook it in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes.

4. Cook 1/2 cup of Old Fashioned Oats in your favorite 2 quart pan with about 1 cup water and a sprinkle of salt. Add in the above ingredients.

5. Add your favorite flavorings: cinnamon, maple syrup whatever you like best. I also finish this with a little Almond Milk. Serve warm and get that instant "OMG! this is soooo good" feeling!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cold Morning, Hearty Breakfast

Aaaaghh! November arrived (temperature-wise) in the form of cold rain and sleet and even a little snow this morning. So what better to comfort ones' self but to make a hearty bowl of warm oatmeal.

Ahhh, but not just any oatmeal. This one has that nifty protein laden quinoa added for a nutty taste. I also added chopped walnuts, some raisins, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup.

Talk about yummy, warm comfort food.... ahhhhhhh!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My favorite Veteran's Day story

Reposted from my earlier Panda Pause blog:

Vegetarian Day!

Yesterday was a NO SCHOOL DAY for my grandkids and also at the school I work at. So my daughter Heather and I decided to take the kids to visit their great grand parents out of town so they could see the new baby.

On the way up, Jocelyn asks “Grandma, do we have any vegetarians in our family?” I am sure I must have looked puzzled while answering…”Umm, no, I don’t think so.” She continued “Well we are singing for the vegetarians next week for chorus at school and we are supposed to bring pictures of our vegetarians.”

I thought for a moment confused as ever. That did not make any sense. Then it dawned on me that soon the kids might be celebrating “Veteran’s Day”.

“Oh Jocelyn! You mean Veteran’s Day. Yes, as a matter of fact, Great Grandpa Ned is a Veteran and you can ask him about this when we get to their house.” I had to smile at this as it was such an adorable moment.

So of course Great Grandpa Ned helped to explain what a veteran was to the children. And that there are many Veterans in our family including our most recent veteran, James who was just in Iraq. But it got real interesting when they were sounding out the word V-e-t-e-r-a-n and GGrandpa said it sounded kind of like Veterinarian, which is a whole other ball of wax. Talk about confusing!

Anyway, I got this great shot of Ned and Jocelyn for her school that she could take to school for Vegetarian Day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Awesome Pancakes

I love to make pancakes for my grandkids and they love these. They are very much like buttermilk pancakes.

Vegan Pancakes - Delicious No Dairy, No Eggs

Mix dry ingredients together:
   1 cup whole wheat flour
   1/2 cup old fashioned oats
    1 tsp baking soda
   1/2 tsp salt


In a different bowl mix:
   1 cup almond milk (you can use rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk - your choice)
   1 to 2 T of your favorite unprocessed sweetner (agave, rice syrup, palm sugar,
                           less if using stevia, adjust to your level of sweetness)
   2 T apple cider vinegar

Add dry & wet ingredient together and stir
Add a little more milk if you need a wetter consistency

optional add-ins:

   1/4 cup mashed bananas or applesauce or pumpkin puree
            (adjust more or less sweetner (above) as needed)
   If don't add fruit you may want to add: 1 T oil (canola or coconut)
   1/2 cup of raisins (I soak them a while in the milk mixture ahead)
   1/4 cup of chopped nuts or seeds
                (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)


Serve with your favorite syrup or sauce.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What?

A real conversation I heard this week. I wasn't trying to listen in, but she kept getting louder and louder. It was very cute. I could not help chucking a bit.

Elderly woman (in her late 80's maybe) on phone speaking to her twin sister who had been ill:

"Hello Sis, how are you? What? Oh, I just called to see how you are. What?... I called to check in on you, did you remember to take your medicine? What? ... What? Your medicine, did you remember to take your medicine ... What? Yes. [more conversation...]

...Well I have to go. I ...What? I said I have to go. I will see you later, What? I have to go, I will see you tonight, ok? What? Oh, ok, I will see you tonight. Ok, bye, I love you. What?..."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zucchini Blahs?

What the heck do you do with an over-sized zucchini?

This is a the question a lot of summer gardeners have when they have a bounty of zucchini and some have grown to enormous sizes. Sure, a lot of you will grate it up an put it into zucchini bread or slice it up and stir fry it peppers and onions etc. But have you ever made spaghetti with it? or hash browns?

Today I used my handy "As Seen On TV" peelers that I got at my local Walgreens. Boy are they sharp, so be careful using them. I almost got myself good. Whew!



First I peeled the outer skin and discarded it. Then I used the nifty hashbrown peeler and quickly cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strands. The really cool thing is that you never have to deal with the zillions of seeds, because you cut down to where they are and stop. After you cut all the flesh from the zucchini, discard the left-over column of seeds in one big chunk. No seed mess!



At this point you can do a whole lot of fun cooking.
  1. Sautee some up with olive oil, garlic, onions, peppers. Remove from heat and mix in some of your favorite pesto or marinara.
  2. Lightly toss some in rice flour (regular flour is ok too) and fry them up for a plate of hash browns. I added some black sesame seeds for a nutty flavor. Salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Steam some up. Season with olive oil or your favorite butter or spread and herbs for a quick side dish.
  4. Use it as the base for a great casserole. A little cheese, a little butter...top with bread crumbs? What's not to like here.
  5. Cut the strands into shorter pieces and add into any salad or cole slaw recipe. 
  6. Pickle the shortened strands in your favorite pickling recipe.

I'll bet you can think of some great ideas to do with all this zucchini pasta.

Move over fettucini! Zucchini pasta with creamy hummus, pesto, chopped green olives, diced up oven roasted tomatoes and garlic.


Zucchinni Hash Browns


Enjoy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Farmer's Market Cooking

I love our Omaha Farmer's Market down in the Old Market. I went with a list in my head and came back with everything except mustard greens.

When I got home, I went straight to the kitchen to make some guilt-free snacking, veggie chips out of kale and collard with olive oil, sesame seeds and sea salt.


Then I quartered up tomatoes, squeezed and seeded them, placed them cookie sheets with olive oil, herbs de provence, thyme and garlic. I then popped them into a 200° oven for a slow roast. When they are out of the oven, I packed them in olive oil, let them cool and refrigerated them. Got this recipe from Chef Keith Snow at Harvest Eating...my favorite online chef.




Next up is roasted eggplant and garlic that I will mash into a spread for the lovely sourdough baguette I picked up.

How do I love my market...let me count the ways. I wish you could smell my kitchen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Roasted Veggie Couscous

Roasting veggies brings out a sweetness and flavor that cannot be matched with stir-fry or steam-fry.

I roasted zucchini, onion, tomato, garlic and sweet red and orange bell peppers tonight for about an hour at 325° on a cookie sheet. I had lightly brushed them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

After they came out of the oven, I cut them into bite-sized chunks and added them to whole grain wheat couscous that I had flavored with hot veggie broth, let sit and then fluffed with a fork. This was really wonderful with layers and layers of flavor, very healthy and very filling. Most of all, super easy to make.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tomato Tofu Scramble

Jeff is a wonderful gardener (even though he hates to eat veggies). He knows that I love them and that is all the encouragement he needs to get his hands into the dirt. Yesterday he harvested about a dozen and a half of Fuji apple-sized tomatoes. They are beautiful, vine ripened and OMGD delicious!

So of course that was the first thing I thought of for breakfast this morning. Tomato scramble with tofu and sweet bell pepper. I always add a bit of tumeric, celery salt, and basil to my scrambles. So delicious and easy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shitake and Cabbage Springrolls

Shitake mushrooms are so yummy. I decided to steamfry them with a combination of Napa Cabbage and regular Cabbage til the cabbage was wilted and soft but not coming apart.

I soaked my Springroll Skin in warm water til soft and placed it on a damp paper towel. I then soaked another as I was working with the first one.

I put a bit of Chinese Oyster Sauce in the middle and topped it with slivered scallions. Then I took the steam-fried cabbage and mushrooms and put that on top. I rolled them up burrito-style. Nummy!

These are a nice change from my tortilla wraps and definitely lower calorie.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mango & Blueberry Pancakes

Need I say more?

I buy the bulk 5-grain pancake mix at Wholefoods and I love it for taste and ease. I always add a little rolled oats as well. Today I also added diced mango and blueberries. All I can say is yummmm!


I really love the bulk foods isle in Wholefoods. I find myself buying a variety of whole grain flours to make breads, hummus mix, falafel mix, whole grain rice & pastas, trail mix etc. You get really great ingredients and green packaging (brown paper bag) which I transfer to airtight jars at home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vacation Time and Gathering for the Fourth of July Weekend

Summer school is finally over and I have six full weeks of vacation to look forward to.

I'll be starting this out at my brother and sis-in-law's gathering today. Jerry is firing up the grill and barbecue (he is doing feather bones for everyone). I will be bring a few vegan choices to add to the table. I am making a chilled pasta with basil pesto, lemon, toasted pine nuts, diced cucumber and topped with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I think some great chips and dips are in order as well. So I am making a black bean, tomato and green chili dip. I will also make a creamy hummus to bring along.

This morning I found a great banana bread recipe at: http://www.thekindlife.com/post/katie-bs-banana-breads. I twisted mine to use stuff I had on hand, so I added a mango and switched the agave syrup for palm sugar. The results were absolutely delish.


Looking forward to seeing Paul and his daughter Haley this weekend. They are on-route to Mike and Petra's and stopping here for the night. They catch a flight in the early morning. Jeff and I are really happy to have them over.

Then tomorrow night it should be lots of fun at Mike and Pam's for friendship, fun and food...not to mention great fireworks.

Hope you all have a great holiday.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot Summer...Cool Salad

This week and weekend have been in the upper 90's with a heat index of 105°. My husband and I were watching the College World Series that is being held here in Omaha and the temperature on the field was nearing 110°. Friday our students at summer school held their field day and it was so hot that I nearly had heat stroke and had to come in off the field to cool down. That was a peculiar feeling to see everything begin to go black as I was swaying on my feet. I realized I was in trouble and headed inside to cool off.

Needless to say, cooking over a hot stove just does not really cut it right now. I was looking for some cool ideas and cucumbers always make me cool. I had to think what would go well with this. My friend Gabi is from Bethlehem originally and is always telling me how good the middle eastern foods are. Cucumbers and mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Simple but delish! So I stacked up some spring greens that I got at the Farmer's Market yesterday, diced up a chilled cucumber and topped it all with a lemon and mint vinaigrette. To balance this out, with a little protein, I had bought a delicious bulk Falafal mix from World Market. One fourth cup of mix and a little water to make a dough. Shape into little balls, I flattened mine somewhat because I was pan frying them in some oil and did not want to deep fry them for such a few (I was only making one serving).

I gotta say...this was sooooo good! I cheated and ate a bite of falafal before I could snap the picture.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Check out GlobalBuckets.org

Two brothers are out to feed the world...

I am pretty impressed with these two young men. They have big ideas that are worth listening to. Their 2-bucket growing system saves water, protects the plants from weeds and soil pests without herbicides and insecticides, requires very little gardening skill and uses unused space like rooftops or paved areas in urban areas. Families can plant these container gardens to feed themselves and be successful using resourced materials for very little money to set up.

I hope you will help to spread the word on this idea. Check them out.
http://www.globalbuckets.org/

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cholesterol DOWN 85 POINTS!!!

Here is why I switched to a vegan diet...I just dropped my cholesterol from 221 to 136 since March 22nd! That is down 85 points in 63 days!!!

If that is not enough to make you consider a vegan diet, I do not know what to say.

My Dr. nearly fell over when he saw my lipid results from my blood tests last Monday. Not to mention my A1c (diabetes test) came back dropping from 7.3 to 6.0.

Oh and did I mention that I am now down 19 pounds?

It is pretty clear that a vegan diet is a very healthy diet for me. I am so freaking happy!!!

Phenomenal Organic Asian Dressing!

Green salad blues? Getting tired of your normal vinaigrette, or Italian dressing?

This super simple Asian dressing is so yummy on your greens. Add some sliced mushrooms, red onion, snap peas, sunflower seeds and even orange slices or what every you want...but this dressing makes the salad. It makes my mouth water to even think about eating a salad with this on it.

My ingredients:
  • Organicville Sesame Teriyaki Sauce
  • Your favorite Oil (Olive or Canola)
  • Organic Blue Agave Syrup
  • Salt
  • Pepper
I proportion my oil to sauce 2:1
So depending on if you want to make a little or a lot, 2 T oil to 1 T Sauce and so on.
I whisk the first two ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
Add Agave to your taste. Mix well. Being diabetic, I put in very little but enough to sweeten.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Evolving...

This blog seems to be evolving with my current interest, namely cooking vegan. So I feel like I should apologize to those of you who follow for other interests.

Most of the posts from here on out will be recipes, food porn, and related health finds that I MUST share or the occasional squawk when I am feeling politically motivated. I would blog more about my day if it weren't so damned boring most of the time. Well ok, I am not really that bored, but I don't want to bore you.

So I guess I will go to visit Minnesota this week at some point. We have a date with a fish. Although I am eating vegan these days, I do occasionally still eat fish as I stated in earlier posts on pescetarianism.

I visited my Doc yesterday and he seemed very happy with my choice to eat vegan. As a diabetic, I am 4x likely to have heart and stroke issues. Vegan diets are heart happy and cholesterol free. At any rate, I had lost weight and my blood tests will be back tomorrow (I hope) to show if my new diet has made a significant change for the better yet. On the downside (literally) he scheduled me for a colonoscopy! Crap!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The US Govt's Food Pyramid is...unhealthy!

The US Govt's Food Pyramid is not as healthy as they would lead you to believe. Dr. Mark Hyman makes a good case why you should ignore it.

The more I learn about our food industry, monopolization by large corporations of our food sources, and how they influence our government in setting food standards that help them to profit, the more I want to turn to organic food sources.



The dairy industry's "Got Milk?" campaign boasting the benefits of cows milk should be answered with "Got Proof?"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spinach, Soy Nut, Almond, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry & Orange Pesto

The other day I was at Costco and picked up a jar of Ann's House Soy Energy Blend to snack on. It is a trail mix blend of toasted soy nuts, almonds, pumpkin seed kernals and sweet dried cranberries. Nice mix.

Then yesterday I was at the Farmer's Market in downtown Omaha and bought a big bunch of fresh spinach and other greens. I have a ton of greens to make salads with, so I decided to make a pesto out of the spinach. But I didn't have any pine nuts. I was about to run to the grocery when it dawned on me to try the toasted soy nut mix in the pesto.




In the food processor:
    Spinach leaves (cleaned and spun dry)
    1 1/2 cups soy nut mix
Mix until leaves are mostly processed

add:
    olive oil (I drizzled in enough to make a paste)
    fresh squeezed orange juice (I used the juice of 2 clementines)
    sea salt (to bring out the sweetness of the cranberries and orange juice)
    cracked black pepper

WOW was that yummy. Serve it on whole wheat pasta or crusty toasted bread or pita chips.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fried Mushrooms (or veggies)

Okay once in a while I splurge with a little something fried. Coming up with a dredging batter that is dairy-free and egg-free was my goal here.

1/2 cup whole grain rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup rice milk (I used Rice Dream)
Panko Bread Crumbs
9-12 large button mushrooms (or what ever mushroom/veggie you prefer)

Mix the rice flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add rice milk until desired thickness, add more if needed. Coat mushrooms in batter and finish in Panko Bread Crumbs.

Fry in canola oil until golden brown.

Serve with Sesame Ginger Sauce. (I used Organicville Sesame Teryaki sauce)

These were mouth watering delish!

Sweet potato slices were wonderful this way too!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Losing Weight, it's a good thing.

Well since switching to a low-fat vegan (no meat, no dairy, no eggs) diet, I have now lost 16 pounds. BUT... I am never hungry, in fact is seems I eat all the time LOL. I am finding that you have to eat a truckload of the green stuff to actually overeat. I don't watch calories, I don't count carbs. And eating bread (whole grain only) is tremendous when you don't have feel guilty. I have brown rice, polenta, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, really all sorts of whole grains that are good for you, fill you up and are naturally low-glycemic. I am not really exercising any more than I did before (walking about 3 miles, 1-3 times a week).

You would think that this would be a boring diet. Think again! The choices for vegans are huge. I rarely eat the same things and am actually making an effort to try a different veggie and fruit each day. The variety is amazing. If I don't know how to use a new veggie or fruit, I look it up on the net to get new ideas. I also have tried some meat replacements like Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers and veggie based seitan which tastes like chicken chunks in stir-fries. Tonight is going to be fresh Shitake mushroom stir-fry with baby bok choy and a sesame ginger sauce served with jasmine brown rice. I feel like every day is gourmet food.

Restaurants have been a pleasant surprise. I didn't know if they would have anything besides salads to order. I was very wrong. I recently went downtown to Dixie Quicks and to a North Omaha gem...Finicky Franks, 9520 Calhoun Road, 402-451-5555.

Chef René at Dixie Quicks made an amazing Vegan Chorizo & Tofu Scramble, served with a side of some deliciously seasoned black beans and a side of assorted fresh cut fruit, which had me wanting more even after I was stuffed! It tasted soooooo good!

Finicky Franks made me a gourmet veggie burger topped with grilled onions & peppers that was so delicious. I also had their mushrooms and a salad with lemon poppyseed dressing. Yummy!


Eating like this and still losing weight...all I can say is WOW!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Straw Bale Garden

What an interesting idea. This replaces your soil and elevates the garden. No weeding needed, no back breaking bending or hard on the knees kneeling. The elevation would keep my dogs from running through it and less likely to have bunny rabbits climbing the bales.

http://strawbalegardens.com/

I like this idea.

Banana Nut French Toast

This was sinful tasting, too good for breakfast. Almost dessert, bananas caramelizing on the griddle make this breakfast absolutely scrumptious.


Banana Nut French Toast

1 ripe banana (medium sized)
1/2 cup rice milk (I use unflavored Rice Dream),
                          use a little more if large banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp maple syrup (or your preferred sweetener)

3 slices whole grain, multi-grain bread
nuts of your choice to sprinkle

In blender mix: banana, rice milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and syrup
Pour into small flat container to dredge bread.
Coat bread on both sides and cook on griddle that has been oiled lightly.

Served warm with your favorite nut toppings and a little more maple syrup.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Viki's Hummus Burger Recipe

This was a real lemony and minty treat!


1/2 c of quinoa
1 c vegetable broth
Bring to boil and cook quinoa til all broth is absorbed, let cool to warm and place in food processor.

Add:
1 can of chickpeas (garbonzo beans) that have been drained and rinsed.
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon of prepared tahinni (sesame seed paste)
1 clove garlic
1 sm bunch fresh mint leaves
1 sm bunch of fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper to season

Process until mixture is smooth mixture. Add 1Tablespoon vegetable broth if desired or needed.

Optional: add 1 green onion and process til onion is incorporated.

Make balls of mixture and then shape into patties.
Cook on griddle or heavy pan (preheated with 2 T olive oil or sprayed with PAM)
Serve on toasted sesame seed bun or bagel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tofu Scramble

Okay, so I haven't posted in a while. This blog is quickly becoming a vegan food porn site LOL. But I cannot help sharing great tasting, healthy recipes with you.

I love eggs, that is a fact. But I cannot have eggs without sending my cholesterol to the moon. But I gotta tell ya, tofu scrambles have made my longing for eggs a thing of the past. They are delish! Tofu has the same consistency as egg white and takes on the flavors and spices you cook with it. There are spice packets you can buy to add to your tofu, but it is pretty simple to use your own mix of spices as well.



This one is about 3 oz of silken firm tofu with pea pods, mushrooms, roasted bell pepper, sliced sun dried tomato and Morningstar Farm's breakfast sausage.

I used a spice mix of steak salt, onion powder and turmeric. I used my mortar and pestle to grind them together to a fine powder to add to the tofu which I added to the stir fry last. Gave it a quick toss to warm it to eating temp and served it.

Note: you can also add nutritional yeast flakes (get them at Whole Foods or your favorite health foods store). They add a really tasty cheesy flavor that is fabulous! Don't confuse with regular baking yeast.

This was sooooo yummy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mmmmmmmm!

Lunch today was simple and delish! Roasted corn and black bean salad.


This was really yummy.
1 can of drained and rinsed black beans
1 cup of oven roasted corn
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1/4 cup each of diced celery and red onion
2 roasted red bell peppers diced
a dash of salt
1/4 tsp smokey paprika
I had ordered some books when I started this and they arrived the other day. I have been pouring over them without being able to put them down. The first one is "Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes". I also got Dr. Barnard's "Breaking the Food Seduction". It is pretty clear that my food cravings were never for chocolate, sweets or meat so much. But cheese, now that is the thing that I could not seem to have a meal or a snack without. It never occurred to me that every morsel of cheese I was eating was so full of fat. This is the culprit, my daily drug if you will. Everyday it lured me back for more and more. Now that I have identified my main enemy, I can put it aside and I have. My blood sugars are coming down already and it has only been a couple weeks. I don't ever feel hungry because I can eat whenever I want. I don't have to stress over calories or carb counting (a huge relief) and I can have pasta without feeling like I robbed the carb store.

A third book that I bought is Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet". Her approach is so subtle and understanding of those of us who have so recently changed to this lifestyle. Her recipes are amazing and varied. I am beginning to think that I can actually pull this off. I am not pacing around wondering if I will backslide into eating a steak. Her website "The Kind Life" has been a great support and I love the forum which is quite active.

I think it is so ironic that a few short years ago, I had gone the exact opposite direction with "The South Beach Diet" to help me with my diabetes. Long term though, I found it impossible to stay on that diet. I craved bread and cereals constantly. After initial positive results, I could not maintain the diet. My diabetes and high cholesterol conditions were worse than before and my weight loss was null and void as if I had not done it at all. In actuality, I had done more harm than good. Well I am rectifying that now. I believe I am finally on the right path to reversing my diabetes and living healthy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu challenges when you live with a carnivore

One of my dinner planning challenges is that I am trying to eliminate 99% of the meat I used to eat in my diet while my husband continues to eat a normal carnivore diet. I plan to use a lot more fish in my diet and indulge with an occasional bit of steak (like once a month). Bottom line, my cholesterol level MUST improve...or else.

Tonight's solution:

For Me: Sauteed in a little olive oil - zucchini sticks, red onion, sliced roasted red bell pepper, sliced sun-dried tomato. Served over a small portion of cooked and plated cheese tortellini. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan and toasted and crumbed garlic croutons.

For Jeff: After I removed the sauteed veggies (I left in a tiny portion to flavor the meat), I stir fried a sliced up link of Italian sausage in the same pan, picking up the flavors of the caramelized veggies. He got tortellini, topped it with the sausage (minus the zucchini that he thinks he hates) and continued the garnish of fresh grated parmesan and toasted and crumbed garlic croutons.

What an amazing solution that made us both very happy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pescetarian Food Diary Day 1

Luckily I already have a pantry full of veggies and vegetarian friendly ingredients. I just need to incorporate them more into my day.

Breakfast - I buzzed up a can of black beans, a handful of mushrooms, a half can of Rotel Tomatoes and peppers and a cup of leftover cooked whole grain rice. I heated this up and served it in a warmed up tomato flavored tortilla for a yummy bean breakfast burrito. I didn't really miss my eggs and bacon so bad. Oh and I have plenty of leftovers for bean dip with chips or more burritos.

At my snack time I made a quick banana smoothie with vanilla soy milk.

Late lunch was a Romain, mushroom, red onion, salad with a little Caesar Dressing, croutons, and a shake or two of fresh grated parmesan cheese. I had a glass of coconut milk to wash it all down.

Dinner is grilled salmon steak, stir fry veggies and whole grain, Jasmine brown rice.

I think this was a great start...don't you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Leaning into Pescetarianism

Okay, I gotta get more healthy.

Two years ago I was healthier than I am now. I had lost weight and was doing well. The trouble is, I was not able to stay on my low carb diet for life. I just don't want to have to work that hard at counting carbs and tracking every morsel of food that I put in my mouth. I just want to eat something tasty and not have to worry about it.

This is hampered by the fact that being a diabetic, my intolerance for high glycemic foods screws up my blood sugar and reeks havoc with my overall health.

I watched a program the other night on PBS on reversing diabetes. The speaker talked about vegetarian diets and how getting most of my proteins from vegetable sources could actually turn my diabetes around entirely. I think this is worth strong consideration. The problem is, I love meat.

I love a good roasted meat: beef, pork or chicken. I have over the last few years moved to more turkey and fish in my diet, but perhaps I should move even further to fish only. I don't think I can give up meat entirely. But if I seriously stick to fish and seafood for the majority of my meals, I think I could actually wean myself of meat.

The thing is, I am not doing this because I am on some sort of fad. My life is beginning to depend on it. My diabetes is simply not getting better, it is unfortunately getting worse. I have to face facts. Plant protein is healthier for me and creates less health problems. 

I have to get away from processed foods, meats and even my love of cheese that I indulge way too much of. These foods are trying to kill me.


So I am leaning into pescetarianism. I love fish. It is a way for me to restart the journey back to good health. Giving up meat will be a lot easier if fish is still on the menu.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Morning Dementia


It was quarter after seven as I was preparing to leave for work this morning. I poured myself a cup of coffee to take with me thinking how I hate wasting perfectly good coffee. I went through the house turning off the lights. I put on my jacket and gathered up my lunch and purse.

To my surprise, I went to grab my cup of coffee and it wasn't where I had left it. My forehead immediately produced those ugly frown lines between my eyes as I went off to backtrack my path through the house to discover where I had left my cup of coffee. My dogs were faithfully in my shadow as they accompanied me on my search. They broke into a run as they tried to keep up with me. We all ran into each other in the hallway when I did a quick turn around to go the opposite direction. I tried to de-tangle myself from the ball of legs and fur as I looked up at the clock frantically... it was now twenty-five after.

"Damn, Damn, Damn-it!" I screamed as I thumped down all of the stuff in my arms, back onto the dining room table (with a great deal of disgust mind you), so I could restart my search more thoroughly...only to discover my cup of coffee in my other hand.

I am now searching for my inner peace.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Struggling for the right words...

It happens everyday. You may find out that someone you care about deeply, is in fact, dying sooner than one would say was a proper length of life. You want desperately to help, but cannot. You try to "be there" for that person, but cannot "really" be in that person's shoes. You cannot know the feeling of a life battle that is losing.

The knowing, makes it hard to carry on, conversation, daily life, just keeping pace as you always have. How is it possible with this giant gorilla in the room with everyone. ...and EVERYONE struggling for the right words.

You clearly don't want to make things worse, but by trying so hard, do we make it worse in the struggle? Probably. But it cannot be helped. You can say too much, you can say too little. You can say the wrong thing, or even say the right thing, but at the wrong time. How many times can you say "I'm sorry" before even that rings empty and clueless. I think you just have to be honest when you do speak because the time for playing games... well even that may be a way to cope, everyone is different.

Well I find myself struggling for the right words these days.

I hate cancer.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Keeping it fresh

Can there be anything more annoying than buying wonderfully fresh foods only to have them spoil before you have a chance to use them. Firstly, I am trying harder to only buy fresh for the day I am going to use them, however that is not always the best way to take advantage of sales and quantity discounts.

When I go to Costco for instance, I often buy in quantities that Jeff and I would be challenged to use up before spoilage. I sometimes am able to pass some of these great items on to my kids by sharing with them, but they are 20 miles away and it is not always easy to get things to them.

So I am stuck with trying to figure out the best way to store things like cheese, fresh spinach or greens, mushrooms and other veggies. Over the years I have happened on to some tips that have saved my "freshies" for much longer than before and I am happy to share the knowledge.

Fresh veggies are still alive. This is something that many people forget. They need to breathe. Don't mix that thought up with open air in the fridge as this will often dry them out. The FoodSaver folks would have you believe that everything needs to be vacuum sealed and void of air entirely. Not so true for fresh veggies.

spinach at 3 weeks in fridge

When I opened my packaged of fresh greens and spinach, I noticed that the top of the package had condensation on the lid as the still-live leaves give off their gases, much like a mini hothouse in my fridge. The plastic bin protects from the dry frigid air. But if too much condensation builds up and drips back on the greens, they start to get slimy as they begin to spoil. I therefore wipe dry the top of the lid daily. I also give them a light shake to loosen the leaves. I place one clean dry paper towel loosely on top of the greens and replace the lid. Doing this I have been able to purchase large bins of greens at Costco and use them over a month's time with very little spoilage.

paper towel wicks away damaging moisture without drying out produce

Similarly, I will repackage mushrooms, mini carrots, snap peas or green beans into a larger more airy gallon sized zip bag, add a paper towel and not remove all the loose space in the bag. Side note on mushrooms: NEVER wash them under water or get them wet. They should be gently brushed off with a soft brush or paper towel to clean them. Water will make the spoil quickly.

fresh down to the last mushroom

For tomatoes...I never put them in the refrigerator unless it has been cut and partially used. I have a airy basket for them. I have a paper towel on the bottom of the basket.

 wrap cheeses in parchment and then place in zip bag

I have learned that cheeses too are living products. Now if you have huge quantities, vacuum sealing and/or freezing may make sense, but to extend the life of my cheeses, I have discovered that kitchen parchment paper is my friend. I take the cheese out of its original plastic wrap and re-wrap the cheese in parchment paper and then place it in a zip bag. This allows the cheese to breath and wick off excess moisture, but not dry out. The only cheese that I would not wrap this way would be a fresh mozzarella or type of moist/wet cheese. It works great for any dry cheese like Italian grating cheeses, cheddar, Swiss or Gouda.

Fresh herbs are placed in a shallow vase with about 1/2 inch of water and placed into the fridge.

There you have it, my favorite "freshie" tips. Hope you like them and they are beneficial to you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can I Blog from my BlackBerry?

Why yes, as a matter of fact I can.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Listed

Sometimes I just have to have this stuff in my life to give it meaning. I admit most of it is simply crap.

• Playing online poker for hours and hours

• I love teaching myself Spanish.
Sometimes I try to think in Spanish (it's not easy to do)

• I love watching the Food Channel whenever I can (I love to cook)

• I love watching Dog the Bounty Hunter
(I still ask myself, "...why do I like this shit?")

• I love Rachel Ray
(she's funny and quirky and the perfect friend to make you smile)

• I love kitchen gadgets
(men have power tools, women have kitchen gadgets)

• I love Martha Stewart (even though I cannot organize a house —
I even download her podcasts...hey they're free!)

• I love to watch Antiques Road Show, A&E's Pickers and Pawn Stars,
even though I have no interest in antiques or collecting them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Waiting for the snow to melt

February is always a cold bleak month. By now the winter is old and we are weary of it. Snowfall even though beautiful, fluffy and clean, is an unwelcome sight. Maybe if I was an avid skier or snowmobiler I might find something to celebrate. But with every new snowfall, I find my eyebrows knitting together in disgust.

When? When will it be gone? I ache to see the sun and a little patch of green. I want feel a light warm breeze on my face while I go walking with my dogs instead of feeling the sharp bite of single digit temps and a wind that cuts through layers of clothes in minutes.

I find myself daydreaming about daffodils and tulips, crab apple blossoms, lilacs and freshly mowed grass. Spring cannot get here fast enough. I'll lament the fast passage of time later. But can I please thaw out soon?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heritage languages are a birthright

I just read a blog that stated "Heritage languages are a birthright." And...I passionately believe that to be true.

Growing up Chinese-American, I often lamented that my mother's generation let go of their language in order to fit in to the American culture of the 40's & 50's. I understand, but I still feel like our generation somehow got cheated out of our heritage language. I was fascinated as a child to listen to my grandmother Ng Fong Hai, speak in her native Cantonese. At the same time, I was sad because I couldn't understand her. In the 50's and 60's, learning your heritage language was simply not a priority. Yes, I feel cheated.

I wish now that my mom had felt that her heritage language had value instead of treated like something to be overlooked, forgotten or worse...ashamed of. Nowadays, being bilingual in corporations is a leg up the corporate ladder because we live in a global economy.

My cousin Jeff went to live in Bejing for a year of his college to become bilingual with Mandarin Chinese. He is teaching his children by speaking Mandarin at home. I think he is giving his children a wonderful advantage that will ultimately broaden their lives.

Learning language as a child is like learning to breath. My granddaughter Gabby is half El Salvadorian. Her parents see the importance of teaching her both languages. At two, she often speaks to me in Spanish and English both. I am amazed at how effortless it is. Children have the capacity to learn and embrace as many languages as you want to teach them. I remember taking a class as a child, but I never did anything with it later. I wish I had.

"Growing up bilingual is a perfectly normal human state; being able to speak, read, and write in more than one language is not harmful. There are plenty of places in the world where bilingual education is the healthy norm.

Why can’t we get it right in the US? A) Because it’s politicized. B) Because education is underfunded. C) Because monolinguals don’t understand bilingualism." — JP Villanova speaks 5 languages and teaches. Read his blog at http://jpv206.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/english-only-is-for-chumps/

Today, I work at a school that has children of African American, Hispanic, Somali African, Indigenous American and European American descent. I am trying very hard to learn Spanish. We have an ESL program, but no translators at the school. I am saddened when I hear others I work with cluck about wishing that "these people" would learn English. I am acutely aware of the political overtones. Of course I understand that it is important for immigrants to learn English in order to communicate, and participate fully in our society, but I hope it is not at the expense of their children's birthright to communicate with their own grandparents.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Really, really good film making...Avatar

Can I just say I was blown away. I remember how I felt the very first time I saw Star Wars when it first came out, it was such a fun futuristic swash-buckler that took us places we had never imagined. I remember the first time I saw Dances With Wolves and the incredible cinematography on the biggest screen in Nebraska at the amazing pre-IMAX Indian Hills Theater (unfortunately now gone.) Avatar ranks right up their with those movie experiences for me.

Avatar seen on IMAX in 3D simply was jaw-droppingly amazing. I loved it. I don't know how James Cameron conceived of Pandora, but I wish there were such a place. So incredibly beautiful. The detail that was in that film was mind-blowing.

The story was a sweet touchstone to Mother Nature and romance and a great justified battle to protect home and hearth and a culture worth saving. I laugh at those who read a political message into it. But that said, it is a great story of the little guy up against corporate greed. It is not a new story, but a new telling of it. So if you find yourself defending corporate greed and not enjoying the movie for what it is, you miss the point of seeing it at all. It was a fun film and I was totally entertained.