Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Love Coconut and That's Okay!

This is a post from my awesome, healthy sister Heather:

I have been eating a lot of coconut products lately. A few months ago I gave up dairy in hopes that would help my baby's reflux issues. So coconut is a great alternative. Years ago when the "low fat" diet was the craze coconut got a bad rap and I know I for one stayed away from it. But coconut is actually really good for you. here is some info from greensmothie girl:

"Coconut oil is 64% medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which burn as energy quickly rather storing in the body as fat (especially belly fat) like the long-chains. MCFAs are quite rare in foods and have massive positive implications for your health, although the processed vegetable oil industry tried to malign the tropical oils years ago and many consumers have no idea what great nutrition they are missing out on. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasite, and anti-fungal. It prevents heart disease, linked by recent research to lingering infections in the blood and tissues that coconut oil kills. It has been documented to inhibit carcinogenic agents that cause colon cancer and breast tumors in animals."

read more here:

So I have been baking with coconut oil, instead of butter:

Here is a simple cookie recipe that even my non-sugar eating husband will eat because they aren't too sweet:

1 cup oat flour ( blend regular oats in blender)
1 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 egg
chopped walnuts
mix all ingredients and bake at 350 F for 10 mins. or until lightly browned.

I have been making smoothies with coconut milk:

Here is an awesomely easy recipe:

2-3 cups coconut milk
4 frozen bananas
1 can frozen pineapple (pineapples in their own juice, I put the pineapple in a Tupperware and froze them the day before)
Unsweetened coconut flakes or powder
Blend the first three in the blender and pour into cups. Top with unsweetened coconut.

And I have ever once in a while been splurging on coconut ice cream, when I am feeling particularly deprived:

We have also made blueberry/banana coconut pancakes:

1 cup wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tblsp coconut shreds
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 tblsp honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup almond or coconut milk
2 tblsp coconut oil
blueberries or sliced bananas

Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well until consistency is smooth.

Pour a scoop of batter (1/4 cup) onto preheated pan at medium heat. Sprinkle with blueberries or sliced bananas on top. Flip over when batter begins to bubble.

Sorry no pictures but these were awesome. We eat them for our traditional Sunday night breakfast with scrambled eggs and green smoothies. Yum!!

So don't worry. I now give you permission to love coconut again. Go get some virgin coconut oil and use it any time a recipe calls for butter. You can also use it for sautéing. I have even used it to "butter" the bread on grilled cheese sandwiches.-Heather

Monday, November 15, 2010

Healthy Family Challenge-Week Two

2. Cook one meal this week with wheat pasta.

Why? – If you haven’t heard, whole grains are much better for you. More fiber, more nutrients, don’t raise your blood sugar level, less likely to make you gain weight, etc… You also eat less because it fills you up faster.

How hard is this? Whole wheat pastas are super easy to find at the regular grocery store. They are a little more expensive but not outrageous. Look for it when it is on sale and stock up! There are several different brands and varieties.

I know that a lot of people are resistant to this change. I am not sure why. I have been using wheat pasta for everything from spaghetti to baked ziti to lasagne for most of my married life. My kids eat it. It tastes better. If you get used to eating wheat pasta, if you ever have occasion to eat regular pasta, you will realize how incredibly bland it is.

Trust me. This is an easy change to make. If you think your kids (or your husband) might throw a fit, cook it in a spaghetti pie or baked ziti recipe. They probably won't even notice. Then break the good news to them later.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Summary of Our Gardening Adventure

Last summer when we were planting our garden I promised that I would give updates about how the whole gardening thing was going.

Then reality hit.

Then I stopped blogging.

And there you go.....

Let me sum up.

The garden was pretty much a flop for a few reasons.

First of all, we planted it in the rockiest soil known to man. Okay, that might be a little bit of an overstatement but not much.

Secondly, we have this major ongoing project to get the irrigation water going in our yard. It is November and it is still not done. We were able to get irrigation water to the garden but the rest of our yard became home to thousands of weeds because we were not able to plant grass etc because of our never-ending project. This created a lot of extra work.

I started out the summer with great intentions. But then I found out after pulling my 10,000th weed that the pesky things were responsible for my severe case of asthma which was keeping me from being a mom, exercising, and functioning in general (such as walking across the room). So I had to quit working outside. My Mom took over with occasional help from my reluctant children.

Blah, blah, blah....

Long story short ( I did say this was a summary, right?) is that the only reason anything grew in our garden at all was because of my hardworking mom.

By some miracle we were able to grow many, many tomatoes. And with the help of an awesome neighbor, I was actually able to preserve a lot of them.

We also grew a lot of zucchini --not that that is at all impressive but we enjoyed eating it nonetheless. Especially the chocolate zucchini cake. Yum....

In addition to the tomatoes and zucchini we eeked out some cabbage, some onions, some yellow squash, and artichokes of all things.

-- and that was about it. I did get a handful of basil and cilantro before I managed to kill the plants.

But we were blessed by other people's efforts.

We were thankful to receive lots of potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and peppers from again, our awesome neighbors.

So how did my garden grow?


I tried. I pretty much failed.

But there is always next year!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just an Idea

I always buy what I consider to be "good" flavored yoghurt for my kids to eat. I buy "all natural" and/or organic brands like Mountain High, Stoneyfield Farms, Cascade Fresh, Brown Cow, or Nancy's.

But lately I have been wondering about just feeding them good old plain yoghurt and adding my own flavors. I am thinking this could be more healthy and when I get around to actually making yoghurt in my yogurt maker, cheaper.

I always have plain yoghurt in the fridge because my husband likes to eat it in place of mayonnaise. I hate mayo so I use plain yoghurt in any recipe that calls for it or sour cream and I have even used it in place of buttermilk and cream cheese. Yoghurt is awesome!

So anyway, I did an experiment with my 4 year old. I gave her a cup of plain yoghurt and then mixed in about 1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup-you know the kind that comes out of a tree?

She loved it. She loved it so much she ate 3 bowls in one sitting. Then her siblings joined in.

Maple syrup is expensive so I may have to use something else if I am going to save money on the deal because most of my kids went crazy over this.

You could use honey or agave to sweeten the yoghurt and of course, fruit.

Try it. You may like it.

*Apparently yoghurt made from whole milk is best for you. So if you want to be healthier than me do not buy "Low Fat" as pictured above. Also, look for brands that say they pasture feed their cows. That way you are getting a product from healthy animals who are eating the way they were created to eat and high in Omega-3's!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chicken Apple Pecan Salad

After watching Food, Inc. I may never eat chicken again-well at least until we start butchering our own. But you might like this recipe...

Seriously, it is yummy. Ellie made this up and called to tell me all about it. Lee and I ate this twice last week. Simple dishes like this are my favorite kinds of food to eat. The apples are the key ingredient in this dish.

Chicken Apple Pecan Salad

*Chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, & lemon juice, (and a dash of Kirkland's Signature No-Salt Seasoning if you have it-but it is good without it too.)

*Apple (we used Gala-the preferred apple at our house)


*Romaine Lettuce

* Parmesan Cheese

Combine all the ingredients and top with your choice of salad dressing. I personally do not like salad dressing and love this salad as is. My husband used Balsamic Vinegar dressing. Raspberry Vinigarette would also be a good choice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Healthy Family Challenge-Week One (Take Two)

I like to use Costco's Kirkland Signature Sea Salt.

So when I started this blog a few months ago, my sister Heather had the idea to do a weekly Healthy Family Challenge.

I have decided to revisit that idea and issue a challenge to all my many readers (all two of you) and I would like to know if you accept that challenge and how it goes for you.

My idea was to post this every Monday, but as you may have noticed, it is Tuesday. That is how I roll....

Anyway, look for a new challenge every Monday and if it isn't there, check back on Tuesday.

I am now plagarizing Heather:

There is probably something each one of us can do to be a little healthier in our eating habits. But making changes can be really stressful. A lot of kids, and sometimes husbands, are resistant to some of the changes moms want to make in their diets. And it can be really stressful to come up with new recipes and to find good sources for food. And let’s face it, a lot of the time the healthier foods are more expensive. So let’s think baby steps.

This is an easy one:

1. Switch to unrefined sea salt instead of iodized table salt.

Why? It is less processed and has all the natural trace minerals left in it. Plus there are no additives in it like table salt.

How hard is this? This is an easy switch. You can find sea salt at most grocery stores. It is a little more expensive but your family will not notice the difference at all in taste. I personally think sea salt tastes better!

Movie Recommendation: Food, Inc.

Yesterday the kids and I watched Food, Inc.

Of course I had to watch this because my food geru Michael Pollan was in it.

That is one knowledgeable guy.

I highly recommend that you watch this film.

My kids proclaimed afterwards, "I am never eating at a fast food restaurant again!".

This was much more convincing than Supersize Me.

My 10 year old son said, "Mom, I never really knew what you were talking about before when you said that so much of the food we eat is bad for us. Now I believe you."

How is that for indoctrination?

The film does have somewhat of a liberal bent so I do not necessarily agree with all the suggested solutions. But I am all for truth no matter where it is coming from.

I kept wanting the film to go into more detail but it is only an hour and half long. But if you haven't read much on the subject, it is a good introduction to what is going on with food in this country.

And it might just make you want to change the way you eat.

Which is probably a good thing.

*I love the review of Food, Inc. that you can read here. I am watching Fresh next week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter

You light up my life!

Since I have a "Product Review" tab at the top of my blog, I thought it would be a good idea to actually post some product reviews once in awhile.

I am not sure if this will be helpful to anyone but I do have a few things that I buy that I absolutely adore and so I am sharing the love.

One of those things, is Kirkland Signature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter.

Yes, it is all natural.

No, it does not have any added sugar or any other scary ingredients.

Just Peanuts and Salt-that's it.

It is pure.

It is wholesome.

And it tastes so good!

I have been eating Natural Peanut Butter for the past 15 years. Before that I was a consumer of Skippy or JIF or Peter Pan -whatever. I love Peanut Butter.

But then my husband had that brilliant idea to stop eating sugar and so I started buying Adams.

Don't get me wrong, Adams served our family well for many years.

But once I discovered Kirkland's version, I was easily converted.

The best thing about this Peanut Butter is the taste. It is so yummy. The best Natural Peanut Butter I have ever tasted. It is silky smooth- it melts in your mouth.

The next best thing about this peanut butter is that it stirs together easily compared to other brands I have tried and it stays that way. (In case you didn't know, when you buy Natural Peanut Butter, the oil floats on the top and must be stirred in). I have never had mine separate again after I have stirred in the oil after opening.

A lot of people complain about the fact that it is a pain to stir in that oil. I say, "Oh yeah, well all that convenience is killing us ya know. Don't you think you could just stir in that oil so you don't end up with cancer one day?"

Except, I do not say that. I just think it.

Except, I guess I just did say it....


So here is what I do:

I get a mixing bowl and scoop all the contents from the jar into the bowl and then get my hand mixer out and beat that stuff all together until it is mixed well. Then I scoop it back into the jar, maybe wipe off the jar with a wet cloth if necessary and stick it in the fridge. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. I timed it because I am trying to make a point.

5 minutes is worth your health, people!

Yes, keep it in the fridge. It doesn't have any preservatives so it will last longer if you refrigerate it. Plus it will be runny if you don't.

My kids eat this stuff up. I have 10 jars in my pantry right now and that is nowhere near a year supply for this crowd.

Is it expensive compared to fake peanut butter? I have no idea. I haven't bought that nasty P word stuff in 15 years. I decided years ago that it was worth it and I haven't ever considered for one second buying unnatural peanut butter.

Kirkland's Signature Organic Peanut Butter is available at Costco* for around $6 or $7 for two 28 oz. jars.

It is worth every penny.

*And yes, you can only get this at Costco so you also have to have a Costco membership. But Kirkland Signature has a lot of other great products besides this glorious, amazing Peanut Butter. Say what you will about Costco, but they listen to their members and therefore have a lot of healthier choices available for purchase. This is not a Costco commercial because nobody pays me to do anything! I wish! But it is my opinion that the price for a Costco membership is also worth every penny!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes. It is made with honey, natural peanut butter, and whole wheat flour and is therefore a little bit more nutritious than the typical cookie.

Have I told you that I love peanut butter? Because I do. I really, really do.

The natural variety of course.

I am not talking about the pornographic kind. (To my sisters: No, I am never going to let that one die. But even though you make fun of me behind my back, I still love you!)

I am talking about peanuts, ground up into peanut butter.


I love this cookie recipe. It is one of my favorites and I can usually eat them with little guilt involved as long as I have plenty of people to share them with lest I eat all of them myself! They are so moist- they melt in your mouth. They are addictive.

You have been warned.

Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cups softened butter

1 1/3 cups honey

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter (that means no added sugar etc, kids!)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Beat the butter, honey, eggs, and peanut butter together. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix into the cream mixture. Scoop tablespoon size balls onto cookie sheets and press lightly with a fork using a criss cross pattern. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. Cool and eat and be happy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dutch Oven Artisan Bread

Variations of this recipe have appeared all over the internet in recent years. I personally love Artisan bread. It is my favorite, but buying it is expensive and possibly not as healthy. I never imagined I could make my own and that it would taste so good! Cooking it in a dutch oven imitates using a steam oven which I am assuming you do not have unless you are the owner of a bakery.

My husband would prefer if I made a fresh batch of this bread every day. Unfortunately, I do not have my act together enough to make it every single day! But I have made it often

You need to plan ahead when you are going to make this because of the raising time. It needs to raise at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours! So you might have to do some calculating in order to ensure you are going to be actually baking it when it is most convenient for you.

This makes a delicious, simple, rustic bread. The crust is hard while inside it is airy and soft. It is beautiful and so incredibly yummy.

You can use just white flour but why when wheat is so much better for you and so much more flavorful? I started out by using two cups white to 1 cup wheat, then kept increasing the amount of wheat with every batch. The best results seem to be either half and half or 1 cup white and 2 cups wheat.

I will walk you through what you do, complete with pictures!

There are 4 ingredients. That's it!

Dutch Oven Artisan Bread

3 c flour

1 5/8 c water (room temperature)

1/4 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

Combine the dry ingredients in a large glass or metal bowl, then pour in the water and mix together well with your hand. Seriously. This shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds. This is a no knead bread and the dough will be quite sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in your pantry. Somewhere away from light is better than just on the counter. Let it sit undisturbed for 12- 18 hours.

You will know your bread is done raising when it has raised significantly. It will look wet and very bubbly.

Remove the dough from the bowl and work in a small amount of flour-just enough to work with- the dough will still be pretty sticky. Shape into a round loaf-it doesn't have to be pretty. The less you handle the dough, the better. Place on a floured surface, then toss some flour on top of the dough and cover with plastic. Let it rest for about 20-30 minutes.

The dough will have expanded. Fold dough into the center from the top, bottom, and sides. Place it on a smooth cloth (like a cloth napkin, not terry cloth or something that the dough will catch on) with corn meal or bran. Shake a small amount on top too and cover with a second smooth cloth.

After it raises for about 90 minutes, preheat your oven with the dutch oven inside to 450. After 30 minutes, carefully and quickly throw the dough into the hot pan. Place the heated dutch oven lid on top. Cook for about 45 minutes, then remove lid and cook for 30 more minutes.

Try to refrain from cutting into the bread immediately. Rather give it a few minutes to cool.

This may seem like a lot of work but it really isn't. Truly. The times on all of this are flexible. I have had to rush it or leave things longer due to the craziness of my life and it still turns out great!

This is delicious with just butter or you can use it for sandwiches or bruschetta-whatever! One of my favorite ways to eat it is to dip it into olive oil with some salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Yum!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here We Go Again.....

So, I have come crawling back to Blogger.My previous posts over at Food Ophelia will eventually (mostly) make it over to my blogspot. So, add this address to your blog roll, follow me, leave comments, and let me know you have missed me.

Just kidding about that last part.

Unless you really want to....

But at any rate, this is where my food blog lives now, for better or worse.

I have given up on ever learning how to be tech savvy enough to make my blog look like what I want and my husband is way too busy to rescue my silly food blog.

Not that he thinks it is silly.

He loves it, because I cook more when I am working on my food blog.

And somehow I am happier.

How is that possible?

It just doesn't make sense. I have too many things to do to have a food blog.

Too many things that are not getting done.

I could list them here but then you might judge me harshly.

So, this is an experiment.

I am back.

I think.....