Thursday, October 30, 2014

My 10 Must Have Pantry Staples

"Healthy eating is too expensive".  How many times have I heard this from friends, family and even customers?  Countless.  So when one of my readers asked me for a list of pantry staples to have on hand to make quick meals I needed to make sure that not only did I provide a pantry list and some recipes but I wanted to keep it inexpensive as well. So I came up with a list of 10 pantry items and 6 recipes for under $25. Here are my top 10 must haves and the recipes I use them in.

1) Canned beans - black, kidney, white or navy
2) Canned Tomatoes- Whole, diced or crushed
3) Whole Wheat Spaghetti
4) Taco seasoning pack
5) Salsa
6) Brown rice
7)Frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrot, lima bean and green bean mix
8) Frozen vegetable stir-fry - mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and onion
9) Liquid amino or low-sodium soy sauce
10) Whole Wheat Tortilla
First is my version of the Filipino noodle dish Pancit.  This is one of the first dishes I learned to make and served it a lot when I first got married.  This dish requires pasta, liquid amino or soy sauce, frozen stir-fry vegetables, garlic and onion.
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 medium onion sliced thin
1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti
1 16 oz. pack of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons of liquid amino
1 tablespoon of safflower oil
Boil pasta according to the directions on the package and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside. Reheat pasta pot over high heat and add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté until the onions are softened and opaque.  Next add the frozen stir fry vegetables and stir until heated through.  Add the cooked pasta, the pasta water and the liquid amino.  Mix well and check for seasoning.  Add more amino, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

The next recipe comes from my daughter's love of Chinese fried rice.  For this recipe I use the frozen mixed vegetables, cooked brown rice and the liquid amino.

Landry's "Fried" Rice
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
 2 Tablespoons plus more for seasoning Liquid Amino
Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Once hot add 2 tablespoons of liquid amino and the frozen mixed vegetables.  Stir the vegetables until coated with the amino and reduce the heat to medium and cover.  Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes stirring once or twice to make sure they are not sticking.  If they are add some liquid amino or water to steam.  Taste the vegetables to make sure that they are heated through if not cover and let cook for 2 more minutes, if heated through add the brown rice and stir thoroughly.  Season to taste with more liquid amino and salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Who doesn't love Mexican food?  These next two recipes are my favorite next to Tacos. First up is a vegetable fajita using the taco seasoning, stir fried vegetables, whole wheat tortillas and the salsa.
Vegetable Fajitas
1 16 oz. pack of frozen stir fry vegetables
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 32 oz. jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas
1 cup of water
In a large skillet sauté the frozen stir fry vegetables over high heat in 1/4 cup of water for 3 minutes.  Add the taco seasoning and the rest of the water bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.  Let the vegetables simmer for 3-5 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  While the vegetables are cooking separate the tortillas and restack placing a paper towel between each of them and microwave for 15 seconds to warm.  Once vegetables are cooked spoon 3 tablespoons into each of the tortillas and top with salsa.
Enchiladas are a recipe that I like to serve when I have lots of people coming over.  They are easy to assemble and can be make ahead of time which is the best kind of food for company.  For these I use the tortillas, cooked brown rice, canned beans and the salsa

Bean and Rice Enchiladas
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 canned of beans rinsed ( I use black)
1 jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the bottom of a casserole dish with 1/2 cup of salsa and set aside. In a large bowl add the cooked rice, beans and salsa and mix well.  Lay a tortilla flat and add 1/2 cup of the mixture, roll the tortilla up to close and place fold side down in the casserole dish.  repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.  Once all of the tortillas are in the dish spoon 1/2 cup of salsa over tortillas and add optional shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.

Another of my favorite make ahead to feed a crowd recipes is chili. This chili only has five ingredients and doesn't take all day before they can eat.  For this you will need the canned tomatoes, canned beans ( black and kidney), taco seasoning and brown rice

 Vegetarian Taco Chili
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 16 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
1 16 oz. can of red kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups of cooked brown rice
optional ingredients: frozen corn and bell peppers

Add the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes and bell peppers if using to a large sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the beans and reduce heat to low and simmer for if using corn add it now.  Simmer for 30 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over 1/2 cup of brown rice.

The last recipe is a quick marinara sauce that is so easy my 10 year old daughter can make it.  All you need are canned tomatoes, sugar and fresh basil, garlic and whole wheat spaghetti.  We like to serve our Spaghetti marinara with steamed broccoli

10 Year Old's Marinara
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of diced tomatoes with basil
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pound of cooked whole wheat spaghetti

Add the canned tomatoes, garlic and sugar to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the fresh basil and stir.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon over pasta.  Serve hot.

So there you have it, some of my favorite pantry staples and just a few of the possibilities you can make quick easy and never again should you say that eating healthy is too expensive.  So now I ask you. 
 What's your favorite go to meal?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whatcha' Eat Today - Mom of two

As a busy working mom raising children, keeping house and taking care of all the other grown up responsibilities, our healthy can easily be pushed to the back burner, including our eating habits. Our relationship with food  goes from being one of quality to one that is cheap, fast and easy. This way of eating leaves you with a tired, unsatisfied feeling leading to more eating of the same and the cycle continues.  Here is the Whatcha' Eat Today journal of a 40 year old widow and mother of two who might be falling into that cycle.

Day 1
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs w/cheese, grits, two pieces of wheat toast and coffee
Snack: grapes and water
Lunch: A piece of Veggie Stromboli and water
Snack: Tastycake apple pie, half a bag of Doritos with water
Dinner: Meatloaf, pasta and mixed vegetables with raspberry ice tea
Dessert: One scoop of Fudge Ripple ice cream and 4 Nutter Butter cookies with water

Day 2
Breakfast: pancakes, eggs, two pieces of bacon, coffee
Lunch: none
Snack: two pieces of wheat toast with jelly
Dinner: homemade bbq chicken fingers and fries
Dessert: pistachio and almond ice cream

Day 3
Breakfast: Bacon, egg and cheese on an onion bagel and coffee
Snack: two chocolate chip cookies
Lunch: two shrimp rolls and ginger ale
Snack: banana with peanut butter and plain Hersey bar
Dinner: homemade beef cheese steak with fries and iced tea

Day 4
Breakfast: bacon, egg and cheese croissant and coffee
Lunch: Baked Ziti and buffalo chicken salad with blue cheese dressing ½ wheat roll and Pepsi
Dinner: fried tilapia and fries with water

Day 5
Breakfast: pancakes with bacon and coffee
Snack: two pieces of toast with water
Lunch: 2 hot dogs and fries with peach iced tea
Dinner: Meatball sandwich with fries and iced tea

Day 6
Breakfast: oatmeal with coffee
Lunch: two cheeseburgers with fries and a fruit punch
Snack: chocolate chip cookies
Dinner: hot wings, mini burgers and potato skin platter

Day 7
Breakfast: Pancakes with bacon and eggs and coffee
Snack: banana and water
Dinner: Baked chicken and vegetable stew and mac and cheese
Dessert: two chocolate chip cookies

Two suggestions for you are to drink more water and eat more high fiber snacks.  Drinking more water and higher fiber snacks will keep you from having those spikes of energy and then crashes causing you to look for a sweet treat to get you that energy rush again causing you to eat too much.  Switching out your soda or sweetened iced tea with fruit infused water or tea will help you to feel fuller longer.  The recipe is quite simple and can be used with any fruit.

Infused Fruit water/tea
6 cups of cold water
2 oranges (or your favorite citrus) sliced
1 cup of berries or fruit of your choice
Optional: Mint, 3 herbal tea bags

Add all of the ingredients in a large pitcher and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.  Drink with meals or snacks.  Be careful not to let it sit more than 2 days as the citrus will get bitter.  All the more reason for you to drink it all every day. If you pair this water with a high fiber snack like a raw Larabar that has fruit and nuts and 4 grams of fiber or an apple or pear with 4 grams of fiber each and high in water content you will be satisfied longer.

If you need a more savory snack try some popcorn or my favorite frozen Edamame (soy beans) just pop them in the microwave, season with salt and serve warm.

Now at this point I would usually stop at two small changes but I know you guys are thinking, what about all that fried and fast food. Well I did promise that I would not get preachy and try to change eating habits around completely but when I gave the first draft of this to the journal owner she herself called me on the fact that I was brushing over the worst part of her diet. So I have no choice but to talk about it. 

This diary is not lacking in meals as in past diaries but it is missing nutrients. Because of the lack of nutrient dense foods you eat more empty calories because your body keeps craving what it needs to work and it keeps receiving the wrong things. So let’s work on getting your body what it needs.

Since you usually get breakfast and lunch on the go you may want to try the Mason jar options from the last food journal but, if you still need to buy these meals from a convenience stores make sure you get the healthiest options.

For breakfast go for a cut apple and peanut butter cups and a dry toasted whole wheat bagel or a mixed fruit cup and a Kind bar or a grab and go instant oatmeal cup and some grapes. 

For lunch why not swap the fries for a homemade stuffed baked potato?

You can easily make these on Sunday night for the week by baking 5 potatoes and wrapping them individually in foil to store in the fridge.  The night before work take one potato split it open and place it in a microwave safe bowl.  Add frozen broccoli, 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, cover and microwave at work.  Switch up your topping for chili or this spinach and mushroom one that I love.

4 tablespoons of vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic chopped
14 oz. of fresh assorted mushrooms
10 oz. bag of fresh organic spinach
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of white wine or vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper

Add 4 tablespoons of vegetable broth to a pan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and the mushrooms and sauté until both begin to soften.  Add the vinegar and the white wine and stir until the liquid begins to be absorbed and reduced.  Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon mixture over a baked white or sweet potato.

I know this is a lot of information to take in and I appreciate your willingness to confront your eating habits and make steps towards a healthier lifestyle.  I applaud you as you take care of all of your responsibilities every day and hope that you will take some of these suggestions and take care of you.

To the rest of you: How do you take care of you?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Stop walking by the Squash

Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, Red Kuri, Kabocha, Delicata and Pumpkin are all varieties of Winter Squash.  These beautiful and delicious seasonal jewels can be intimidating to many, causing you to walk right by them in the Produce section.  Well you are missing out on some wonderful tasty ingredients that is high in fiber and if stored like you would potatoes (unrefrigerated), can last up to 6 months. Because I would hate for you to go any longer without them in your life, here is a quick and easy guide to getting to know 3 of the most popular Winter Squash.

Butternut - Large, smooth peanut shape and tan in color.  This squash is best baked or mashed. The best way to prepare it is, to remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, pierce it with a fork and microwave for 3 minutes to make it easier to cut. Cut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, cut into chunks and roast on 400 for 25-30 minutes. I use it to make muffins.

Butternut Squash muffins

Mix together dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine in a large bowl:
1 cup roasted or steamed winter squash

1/2 cup canola oil
6 tablespoons of grade B maple syrup
Egg replacer equal to 2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pecans
Add the dry ingredients and the pecans to the wet ingredients in stages, mixing gently. Pour into greased muffin tins or bread loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees.

Check mini muffins after 10 minutes, standard muffins after 18 minutes, and bread loaves after 40 minutes. Bake until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed.

Pumpkin- When choosing a pumpkin make sure you choose a pie pumpkin to eat or you can buy the puree in a can.  The whole ones look like mini versions of the one used for carving and decorating.  I found a delicious pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I make a dairy free version of.  If you like dairy skip the cashews and add real cream cheese but I don't think you would miss it at all.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 1/4 cups raw soaked cashews
1 cup maple syrup
1 16 oz. can organic pumpkin puree 
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
1 tub (8 ounces) tofu cream cheese
optional: 1/2 tsp salt to taste (depends how much salt you soaked your cashews in)
One standard vegan graham cracker pie crust

1. Soak about one cup of raw cashews in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 – 1 tsp of salt to the bowl – mix to dissolve. The salt allows the water to absorb more efficiently into the cashews and also adds some salt for your recipe. 
2. Soak this cashew bowl overnight in the fridge. You want well-soaked cashews so that your pie mix blends up perfectly creamy. I soaked my cashews for about 18 hours. At least 8 is optimal. Don’t soak for more than two days or the cashews can get grimy.
3. The day of your actual pie making allow at least 3 hours from the time you start to the time you wish to serve the pie. I like a cool time of at least 2 hours.
4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
5. Drain the water from your cashews. They should be very soft to bite and a slight purplish dark hue. This is normal. Add 1 1/4 cups of cashews to your food processor – or blender.
6. Next, add in the maple syrup, vegan cream cheese, pureed pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Blend on low then high for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture is completely creamy. If your mixture is a bit thick for some reason – you can add in a few teaspoons of either water, maple syrup or even non-dairy milk. After blending, do a taste test and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt if needed. I added in about 1/3 tsp extra salt. But taste before adding.
7. Pour your mix into a graham cracker pie shell (store-bought or homemade).
8. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. Your pie will firm up significantly upon cooling and chilling in the fridge.
9. Remove pie from oven. Cool on counter for at least 30 minutes. Then place in fridge until ready to serve. At least 2 hours cooling and/or chilling time is my preference. A warm pie will be tasty, but still a bit “wet” to slice.

Spaghetti Squash - these semi-soft and yellow squash are mild in flavor and when cooked it's flesh resembles spaghetti.  

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Pierce the whole squash with a fork and microwave for 3 minutes to soften.  Let cool.  Once cool to touch cut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds (DO NO THROW SEEDS AWAY set them aside for the next recipe).  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place squash flesh side down.  Bake squash for 50-60 minutes or until skin is fork tender.  Remove from oven and let sit until it is cool to touch.  turn flesh side over and use fork to scrape the squash "spaghetti" strings.  Add to a serving bowl.  In a saucepan heat your favorite marinara and add 1/2 cup to the squash and season to taste. Serve immediately with additional Marinara on top.

Don't forget the seeds.  Most of us know that the seeds of the pumpkin can be roasted and eaten but so can the spaghetti squash ones.  You can go crazy with the seasoning of your choice. Try a little seafood seasoning or garlic powder or cayenne pepper before serving.

Roasted Pumpkin or Spaghetti squash seeds

Seeds from 1 spaghetti squash or Pumpkin
1/2 tsp. safflower oil
Sea Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove seeds from squash and rinse.  Dry thoroughly with paper towels.  In a small mixing bowl, combine seeds, safflower oil and sea salt.  Spread seeds on ungreased cookie sheet making sure none are touching.  Bake 10-15 minutes on one side.  Turn seeds using a spatula and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Seeds are done when golden, slightly brown on ends and edges and have a nice crunch.

Now that you have the basics, stop walking by those squash in the Produce department and enjoy these wonderful fall and winter favorites.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whatcha' Eat Today- Newlywed edition

Getting married is a beautiful thing but, it does come with lots of changes including, when and how you eat.   For some it's the first time you are on your own. You don't have mom cooking meals for you and you have to figure out the eating habits of your new spouse. In our first year together my husband and I ate like college students.  Fast food and late night dinners and I am ashamed to say we had a "goodie" cabinet stocked with family size bags of Doritos, chips, chocolate, gummy candies and many, many other not so good for you "goodies".  So I was curious to ask a newlywed, "whatcha' eat today" and here is what I got. Our food journal today belongs to a 24 year old new bride and recent transplant from Philadelphia to New York. 

When looking at her journal it took me back to those first years of marriage and sorry to say my 20 pound weight gain.
Day 1
Breakfast: None
Lunch: None
Dinner: Italian salad, Pasta with Chicken and mushrooms, glass of wine

Day 2
Breakfast: None
Lunch: None
Dinner: French fries, Buffalo wings
Dessert: Chocolate cake
Day 3
Breakfast: None
Lunch: None
Dinner: French fries and Buffalo wings
Snacks: Klondike Oreo bars, Doritos, Mike and Ikes
Day 4
Breakfast: McDonald's fruit cup and hash browns
Lunch: 10 piece nuggets and fries
Dinner: Buffalo wings
Dessert: Klondike Oreo bar
Day 5
Breakfast: Sausage, egg and cheese bagel with hash brown
Lunch: None
Dinner: None
Day 6
Breakfast: Cereal, milk and banana
Lunch: None
Dinner: Beef Pastelitos ( stuffed fried pastry) and Spanish rice
Snacks: banana, Doritos, clementine, yogurt
Day 7
Breakfast: Cereal, milk and banana
Lunch: None
Dinner: Beef Pastelitos ( stuffed fried pastry) and Spanish rice
Snacks: yogurt, fruit snacks and hot chips.
 I have two words for our newlywed: Mason. Jars.
Mason jars can be used for so many things from crafts to storage but for you I want you to use them for grab and go meals.  Let's start with breakfast.  Yes it's true, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and fuels us mentally and physically for whatever we have to do. But sometimes our schedules have us too busy to cook breakfast so overnight oats are a perfect recipe for you.
Overnight Oats
1/4 cup of dried raisins or cranberries
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup of milk ( I use almond milk)
1 Tablespoon chopped unsalted nut
16 oz. Mason Jar
Pour the raisins in the Mason jar then the oats and pour milk over top.  Cover the jar and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  In the morning sprinkle the nuts on top.  This can be served cold, room temperature or heated up. 
Lunch and Dinner can be made just as easy with these simple Mason jar salads. 
Mason Jar Salad
2 oz. salad dressing
3 oz. of protein ( grilled chicken, tofu, beans etc.)
 Hearty Vegetables: cucumber, shredded carrots, bell peppers
Softer Additions: tomatoes, red onion, broccoli, mushrooms, nuts and seeds
Leafy Greens: Romaine, Spinach, Arugula, Mixed Greens
32 oz. Mason Jar
Start layering the jar with the dressing on the bottom, the hearty vegetables on top of that, the protein next and the softer additions on top of that and fill it to the top with leafy greens.  Cover the salad with the lid and refrigerate. To serve either shake the contents on to a plate or shake up and enjoy in the jar.  Here's what you will have.
Both of these recipes can be made up to two days in advance and you can play around with the ingredients and create your own on the go meals.  I hope this is helpful to our bride's new life and makes food one less thing to figure out in her new life. 
Have you used Mason Jars for meals?  If so what's your favorite recipe?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Go out and get your Greens!

In my last post Whatcha Eat Today I told my food journal volunteer to eat more greens.  I told her that greens would be great in a smoothie or in her morning omelet and you know what, the next day she tried it and I was so excited!  Then later that day I was in line at the the grocery store and  I noticed the couple behind me asking each other what the different greens were as the cashier rang up my order.  Then it hit me greens might be familiar to me but other than Spinach and Cabbage do people know greens?
Well welcome to your introduction to wonderful leafy greens.  This will be easy I promise.

There are a large varities of greens including, Arugula, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Collards, Dandelion, Endive, Escarole, Kale, Mizuna, Mustard, Swiss Chard and Turnip.  Some are sweet, bitter and earthy, some are pungent, peppery and sharp and some are tender with a mild flavor.Some have hard inedible stems that need to have the leaves taken off before cooking and some you can eat the entire leaf.  Greens can be eaten raw in a salad or mixed in a smoothie.  Greens can be Steamed, sauteed,braised added to soups, stir fried and in stews and are often interchangeable in your recipes.  If Mustard greens are too bitter for you try Kale, if you don't like the toughness of Kale try Chard.
Once you decided to try different greens you need to know how to pick them, how much to get and how to store them.
Most greens can be found year round but this time of the year the hardier ones like Collards, Kale, Turnip and Mustard greens are at their peak.  When shopping for greens look for crisp leaves with nice vibrant green color.  If you see yellow leaves it is a sign of aging and they may not have their full flavor potential.  If you are making greens for you and your family remember that they cook down quite a bit so you need to get about one pound for every 2-3 people you are feeding.
Once you get them home you need to store them in the refrigerator, most people store their greens and other fruits and veggies in the crisper drawer but unless you are saving them for a special day I like to keep mine wrapped in a damp paper towel on the top shelf so that I remember to use them instead of forget about them and they go bad.  No matter where you put them in your fridge they will lose a bit of their crispness so the quicker you use them the better.  
To prepare your greens for cooking you need to wash them really well and cut off the stems if they are tough like in the case of Collards, Mustard and Kale.  As for Chard, Bok choy Turnip and Beet greens eat the whole leaf.
Now that you know how to pick, store and prep greens here are three of my favorite greens and the recipes I use them in.

Spinach- tender, sweet and adds it self well to be eaten raw or cooked. This is my husband's favorite vegetable and you will always find it in my fridge and freezer.  My morning are complete after this quick 3 ingredient smoothie.

2 cups of milk of choice
1 cup of fresh spinach
2 fresh mangoes - peeled and chopped
Mix all ingredients in Blender. Serve cold

My next favorite green might not be that familiar to everyone but once you try it, you will love it
Escarole - is a member of the endive family and looks a lot like green leaf lettuce and has a mild flavor and is great in winter salads raw or in this Escarole and White Bean soup.

For this soup you need;
1 head of Escarole, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 28 oz. of diced canned tomatoes with basil
1 large carrot, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 cans 14 oz. cans of white beans drained and rinsed
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 dried Bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

Heat a large soup pot on medium high heat.  Add the shallots, carrot and celery in 2 tablespoons of the broth until the vegetables are tender adding more broth as needed.  Add the garlic, Escarole and canned tomatoes, Bay leaf, Italian seasoning and the rest of the broth to the pot and bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cook the soup until the escarole is tender  about 20 minutes and add the rinsed beans.  Simmer uncover for 10 minutes and serve hot.

The last of greens for the night is an oldie but goodie for me and anyone who is a lover of Soul food but was a complete stranger to the couple n line is the lovely Collard green.  
Collard greens- big round flat leaves that have an inedible stem.Collards don't cook down as much as tender greens like spinach but need at least 15-20 minutes to cook. This recipe is a winter time staple in my house.
Collard Greens with Black Eyed Peas and Rice

1 large bunch of fresh chopped Collard greens with stems removed
1 can of black eyed peas and their liquid
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of  vegan Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
1 cup of cooked brown rice
Heat large soup pot over medium high heat and add the onions and garlic and 2 Tablespoons of broth.  saute the vegetables until the onions are opaque adding more broth if needed.  Add the greens, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and the 2 cups of the broth.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add more broth as needed.  Add the black eye peas and their liquid and the rest of the broth and simmer for 5 minutes.  Spoon into a bowl over 1/2 cup of brown rice and season with Tabasco, salt and pepper.

If you didn't know greens I hope you will give them a try with one of these recipes and send me a picture.  If you use greens all the time and have a recipe you would like me to try please email me at
Now go out and get your greens!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Whatcha' Eat Today?

I have to admit.  Food has always been and always will be on my mind.  The first thing I ask my family when I get home after hello and how was your day? is "Whatcha eat today?" I want to know about every dish someone had at a restaurant or baby shower or wedding reception.  Maybe it's the foodie in me but I just have to know whatcha eat today. So what I did was ask that question to a few people from different backgrounds, home situations and even different countries.  I asked that they keep a food diary for one week and take pictures just to see what they were eating.  I didn't plan on doing anything other than showing what a week in different people's food lives looked like but the first thing some of them wanted in exchange for keeping the dairies was for me to look them over and give suggestions on how to make their food better.  So reluctantly I agreed.  Isn't that the reason I started this blog?  To help people transition to a plant based way of eating.  As the diaries started to come in I was surprised at how people had so much food guilt.  Instead of just a list of food and pictures I started to get apologies for what they did or didn't eat.  "Sorry I didn't eat enough today" or "On vacation so our food was terrible".  The bottom line is this: Food should not only be healthy and nourishing but also delicious and fun.  So hopefully with a few small or large corrections in some cases food can be just that.
So without further ado here is the first diary.  The dairy belongs to a 31 year old female.  She's married and has a 3 year old son and is 5 months pregnant with her second child (congrats!).  Her food diary includes some family meals, some for just her and her son and some for just her.

  The Edwards Family Dairy
Day 1 ( Family breakfast and dinner - mom and son lunch)
Oatmeal, bacon, eggs, grapes and citron tea whole wheat toast and coffee
California roll, Turkey and cheese on wheat
Dinner was roasted chicken, broccoli, and mushroom risotto.
2% Yogurt, 10 Teddy grahams, two toffee sandies
mocha latte (dad)  Chai Latte (mom) Tea (son)
Day 2 (Family)
French Toast, Bacon, Fruit cup, Apple sauce, Tea, Whole Milk
Hot Dog, fruit cup and chopped chicken salad with leafy greens
Olive Garden - Soup, salad and Tour of Italy and breadsticks
Peach yogurt blueberry flax granola, peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Day 3 ( family breakfast, mom and son snack, mom dinner)
6 egg omelet, roasted potatoes, wheat toast and bacon, Tea,
White Bean Chicken Chili, Caesar salad
Teddy grahams and fruit cup, Wendy's frosty
Day 4 ( mom solo)
Greek yogurt and blueberry flax granola decaf chai latte
White Bean Chicken Chili, Caesar salad, root beer
3 pieces of fried chicken
Day 5 (vacation - mom)
Blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, home fries, sausage
Chik fila sandwich
Papa John's pizza and buffalo wings
Pita chips and muffin
Day 6 (Vacation - Family)
sausage, eggs, grits and danish
leftover pizza
Mexican take out ( rice and beans, turkey tacos, guacamole and chips

This family is on the right track with eating enough during the day and everyday eating a meal or two together.  I love that the little one enjoys drinking tea and eating salad with his mom.  The two biggest suggestions I have are for them to eat more leafy greens and whole fruit.  Being pregnant, mom needs the energy from the greens to keep up with a busy toddler and also the folic acid and vitamins and minerals for her and her baby on board and her growing son.  I would love to see you add spinach to your morning omelet and some lettuce to your sandwiches and maybe some Kale chips as a snack.  As for the fruit, Why not take the yogurt you eat and blend it with some frozen fruit and greens to make smoothies for snacks or freeze some grapes on a flat toothpick for a Popsicle?  These small changes will make a big difference in getting you and your family getting more plants into your way of eating. Thank you so much to the Edwards family for letting me ask
 "Whatcha eat today".