Archive for November, 2011
Christmas is a time when we think of family get-togethers, memories and traditional treats and meals. With many of the traditional ingredients: white sugar and flour, dairy products, trans and saturated fats, and refined carbs, on the “no-no” list you may be wondering what you’ll eat this holiday season. We don’t want our families to feel deprived of the traditional treats they’ve come to associate with the holidays, yet we want to provide healthier choices.
You might want to try some raw food desserts and see how friends and family respond. Most people make faces when you tell them you’ll bring something raw, but once they’ve tasted it, they come away grinning and smacking their lips. With just a few simple kitchen appliances you can put together a great dish. Jenny Cornbleet’s book called Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People is a great place to start. I’ve tried a number of recipes in this book and they’ve all be delicious. In it there are dessert recipes for cakes, cookies, fruit crisps, pies, tarts, puddings, mousses, shakes, and ice cream. All of them are totally raw. Guess what? They taste better than their sugar-laden counterparts.
One recipe is for a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. It calls for 1 ½ cups walnuts, dash of salt, 8 pitted medjool dates, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp water. For the raspberry sauce you use 1-cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thaw and drain if frozen) with ¼ cup pitted medjool dates, soaked for 30 minutes and drained. Place the walnuts and salt in a food processor with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla … process until mixture becomes sticky. Add water and process briefly. Transfer to a serving plate and form a 5 inch round cake. Place the raspberries and dates in a blender and mix until smooth, pouring over the cake just before serving.
You don’t need to give up all your comfort foods, just find a healthier recipe for it. The taste may be a bit strange to you the first time, but after you’ve switched to healthier ingredients for a while, you’ll find the original recipe inedible. Should you choose to nibble on a few old favorites, don’t go down the guilt trail, thoroughly enjoy those few bites, but use moderation. Over time you’ll replace the unhealthy treat with a healthy one and start a whole new set of traditions for you and generations to come.
Over the past few years I’ve found some of my favorite foods skyrocketing in price. The reason? They’ve been found to have high nutritional values, especially when it comes to antioxidants. Let’s see… pomegranates. You know those weird fruits that you used to have at Christmas that hardly anyone knew what to do with, so they would just sit around until they shriveled up. Well, I’ve eaten and enjoyed them since I was a kid. A few years back you could get a really, really nice pomegranate for 99 cents. Now, on sale they’re $1.50. At regular price, you’re looking at $3 apiece!
Another favorite is pumpkin seeds. Again some amazing curative powers and they went from around $4 a pound, to $8 a pound in one year!
Blueberries are another. You used to get a pint on sale for 99 cents. Now? This past season they were on sale for $1.50 one time, the rest of the season $2.29. Thank goodness we have 6 blueberry plants that had bumper crops this year.
The thing that most people don’t understand is, just adding a few of these items to your diet isn’t going to do much good. If you’re constantly living an unhealthy lifestyle, filled with fast food, sodas, couch potatoeing, alcohol, etc., a few antioxidants might knock a few free radicals out of your system, but they aren’t going to protect you from degenerative diseases. It takes a dedication to a healthy lifestyle to make any real changes.
A few years back we were at an expo. At that time my husband was on a 100% raw diet, I was on about 50-60% raw. They had this machine that measured your level of antioxidants. The average level was around 15,000, my husband was at 80,000, I was at 60,000. We’ve been dedicated to a healthy lifestyle for our entire marriage and even before. Over 22 years of watching what we eat, drink, how we move, and think, now that’s a recipe for health.
So, those of you that are just eating a few of the new “fad” health foods, but still living an otherwise unchanged lifestyle, either start really changing your ways or stop eating them, so that they’ll become affordable for those of us that really do take care of ourselves.
Maybe this is your first holiday as a vegetarian, or your college age child just announced they’ve gone vegetarian. Maybe you’ll be having some vegetarian guests, or you just want to eat less meat yourself. Whatever the reason, having several options for a holiday meal is a good idea.
For main dishes there’s the mock turkey recipe from my last post, but you can also have winter squash. I remember attending my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. The people had cooked a huge, and I mean gigantic squash. They’d taken zucchinis and turnips and made legs out of them and made the whole thing look like a giant turkey. It was really fun!
You can still have your usual sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, and stuffing (made outside the bird, but it still tastes great!) You’ll have to buy vegetarian marshmallows, though. Bean casserole is OK, too, as long as you make sure the sauce doesn’t have any meat or meat broth in it. Use honey or evaporated cane juice for sugar, as some white sugar is processed using bone char, which they may object to. Everything will have a nice earthy sweet flavor and will be good for you, too!
You’ll have to substitute something for your usual Jello salad, as gelatin is made from animal hooves, maybe a green salad. Gravy can be done, but not from the bird drippings, and you’ll need a good pumpkin pie recipe that doesn’t use eggs.
You can also ask a vegetarian to bring one of their favorite dishes to share, as well. Most often they’ll be happy to oblige. I’ve even offered to cook several dishes when I’ve been visiting family. That way they get introduced to new and delicious altrenatives and I have more than one dish to eat!
Here’s a good vegetarian pumpkin pie recipe. It may not taste exactly like what you grew up with, but it is darn good! This is a recipe from a friend of mine, who likes to bake.
Tofu Pumpkin Pie from Anna
Servings: 1 – 9″ pie
Cooking Time: 55-60 min.
- 1 16 oz. can pureed pumpkin
- 3/4 c Sucanat
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1 10-12 oz. pkg. firm tofu
Blend tofu until smooth. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in a 9″ pie crust. Bake at 425˚ for 15 min., then lower heat to 350˚ for 40 min. Cool and serve.
When I first became a vegetarian I didn’t miss any meat, except turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had it every single holiday that I could remember and the first without was interesting. What was I going to fix? At that time there was no Tofurky available. For a number of years we just ate butternut or acorn squash to replace the turkey. Then I found this recipe from Ann Gentry. I first used it about 15 years ago. I was amazed to find her sharing it in a recent blog post.
I’ll tell you, if you want the taste of turkey without having to kill one to eat it, this is the recipe for you. I love this recipe. It does take a little bit of prep time, but it’s delicious. The recipe also makes a huge amount, so I usually halve it, because there’s only two of us. Even then we can have “turkey” leftovers for several days afterward, just like we did in the “olden days.”
I serve it with my own herbed gravy, which I’m sharing below. So, here’s a great base for holiday meals without the meat. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Prep Time: 20 min
Servings: 1.5- 2 cups
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rice milk, unsweetened
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp safflower or sunflower oil
- 1 tsp dried, crushed sage
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ¼ tsp dry marjoram
- pinch black pepper
In 2 qt. saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add flour and stir often for 2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk together with the flour/oil, half at a time to avoid lumping. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally. If gravy seems too thick, whisk in additional water, 1 Tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
You can substitute soy or almond milk for the rice milk.
With the holidays just around the corner, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for entertaining. Often at least one of these parties requires evening attire. You’re probably fretting these events if you’re not a Make Up guru. The last thing you want to do is to host your gourmet group and feel like you look like somebody hit you in the eyes. If you don’t do the techniques right you can end up looking pretty bad.
Sometimes your friends can help you out with Cosmetics Tips. However, even they may not know all the make up tips for the smokey eyes, or how to apply a metallic shadow effectively, as it’s not something they would do everyday. In those instances some good online Make Up Tutorials can really help you achieve the sultry look you desire. So, be the talk of the party this year, but for all the right reasons. Be the one that turns heads this year.
Guest post written by Erin Wooster
I am quite the cook. Or I guess that I would rather say the baker. See I’m not that into cooking, but I really love baking things. I just think it’s so much easier to mix something up and let it bake on its own instead of standing there and supervising it. To me, that’s just plain annoying and too much trouble.
Plus, it seems to be a general consensus that most of the things that you can bake are far yummier in comparison to things that you just plain old cook. I love to look online for all kinds of new things that I can try baking as fun. I was online a few weeks ago looking up some new fall baking recipes when I ran across some info on internet providers. I looked through it some and after that I decided to change over my home internet service to it.
I found these really awesome sounding pumpkin cookies and made those for my family. They were quite the hit! But so are all of the other things that I bake for them.
Recently a friend of mine found out she’s gluten intolerant. Wow, what a change that has made in her life. She’s had to totally rethink everything she eats. Today gluten intolerance is one of the fastest growing segments of the population.
Sometimes finding gluten free products can be challenging, especially that taste good. Schär is at the forefront, bringing new and innovative gluten-free products to the consumer.
Recently they’ve re-launched some of there heat and serve items. Now you can have Ciabatta rolls, baguettes, or simple sandwich rolls, all gluten-free. What could taste better than bread fresh from the oven! You can enjoy them slathered in butter, or be more creative and prepare a grilled-veggie sub.
They even have a club specifically for people who are gluten intolerant. Members of the Schar Club get free product samples, coupons, and advice on how to live a gluten free life. Right now they’re offering members who request it a Schar free sample of the Ciabatta rolls.
Once you’ve signed up for the club look at the left side of the page. You’ll see a column titled “Toolbox.” “Giveaways” is under this column. Just click there and you’ll be taken to a page to order your free Ciabatta sample. But hurry, because it is limited to the first 2,000 requests.
I’m going to let my friend know about these products and the offer. I’m also going to keep these products in mind for her Christmas gift. She especially misses crackers and pasta, as she hasn’t found anything she likes that’s gluten free. Ordering her some of those might be the best present I can get for her, as Schar is not readily available in our local stores.
Shar products are available at many stores. However, if your area doesn’t carry them, you can order online and have it sent to your home. You may want to do that anyway, with the cost of gas. A truly no hassle way to get healthy products in your hands.
If you have any comments, tips, or questions regarding how to eat gluten free, please add a comment to this entry. We enjoy sharing helpful information. That’s what this blog is all about
Are you left with a kitchen full of green tomatoes due to an early frost? There are a number of things you can do with them.
- Wrap them individually in newspaper, store in a box at room temperature. Check them regularly and eat them as they ripen. We did this one year in a zone 5, where the first frost hit at the end of September and we had tomatoes all the way until after Thanksgiving. Really fun to actually be eating some of your harvest, since that what the holiday was originally all about, being thankful for a bountiful harvest after almost starving the year before.
- Eat a lot of fried green tomatoes. These are really yummy and super easy to fix. All you do is slice the tomatoes and fry in a little bit of olive oil, salt them and munch them down. Wonderful tangy taste.
- I found an very interesting recipe for Green Tomato Mincement as a Dave’s Garden article:
- Also, there are recipes for green tomato chow-chow.
- Check out Ruth Blair’s Picallilli. I’ve not tried it, but learned to love picallilli when I lived in New Mexico.
- You could probably replace tomatillos with green tomatoes for tomatillo salsa.
The one thing you shouldn’t do is despair. There are plenty of ways to eat green tomatoes that are really delicious. If none of these are to your liking, just do a search on the Internet and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you.
This year I have almost no green tomatoes as we had a long warm fall. I don’t even have enough to make a decent pan of fried green tomatoes!
Looking at the calendar today I was shocked to see we’re just two and half weeks away from Thanksgiving! Now’s the time to start looking through your cookbooks to pick out those just right recipes. Most families have their traditional favorites, but why not add a little something new and different. Maybe it’s just a new pumpkin pie recipe, that uses different spices than you ordinarily do. Or maybe you want to try something entirely different, something healthier than in the past.
Whatever it is, having the right ingredients and equipment on hand makes the day run much more smoothly. Nothing like getting ready to make the whipped cream for on top of the pies and finding out you forgot the whipping cream.
If you’ve never cooked the main meal before then checking things out on Google or Wiki could be in order. Our favorite saying around here is, “Google knows everything.”
Feeding a large crowd may be a little hard on a tight budget. Now you can save on goods and groceries with coupons at Savings.com. They have the latest coupons for savings on all your favorite items and they’ve recently added groceries to the list.
So whether you’re going for the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes, or going to give a vegetarian meal a try, there’s probably a coupon to help you save on doing it. Now that’s giving yourself a early holiday gift and leaves you more to spend on other’s gifts, too.
It’s amazing how, as you get older, the type in your cookbooks can appear to get smaller and smaller. Or maybe you feel like you need to hold it further and further away to see it clearly.
If that’s the case, then it’s probably time to make an appointment with your eye doctor. In many instances you may just need reading glasses. You might want to buy a pair of cheap eyeglasses to keep in the kitchen. That way you’ll never have to run all over the house locating your glasses before you can prepare a meal.
Just the other day I heard a funny story. This guy owned a Mexican restaurant and was very well known for his delicious salsa. One day, one of his servers comes into the kitchen and tells him that there’s a customer complaining about his salsa. The owner is livid. How can anyone have a complaint about his famous salsa, he thinks. Once in the dining room he sees it is a friend of his who has complained. He’s about to give him a piece of his mind, when his friend plunks the salsa in front of him and tells him to taste it. The owner does and gets a horrified look on his face. His salsa tastes terrible! What had happened was the prep chef had accidentally grabbed the sugar instead of the salt, and the result was ghastly.
The point is, you could be reaching for sugar instead of salt yourself if you can’t see the ingredients well, or adding too much or too little of a key ingredient. So, in order to keep your friends and family munching happily, take the time to get the cookbook in focus with a fun or fanciful pair of glasses.