Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Canning Experiment

So Mike brought home about 100 lemons and 100 oranges from his mom's house a couple weeks ago. They were gorgeous fruit but they were starting to go bad quickly. I thought it was a good opportunity to try canning before our own garden gets that prolific. So with my visiting niece Samantha's patient assistance - we did get some gorgeous cans of fruit to last for a while.

We did oranges with honey and preserved lemons. We did a total of 9 cans but one did not seal correctly.

Forcing the lemons into the jars (recommend wide mouth jars...)...

Before we did the cans, we squeezed the fresh juice of about 15 lemons and made little freezer cubes out of them. We also made a complete meal with lemon juice sauce/topping. Green beans with lemon juice, potato salad with lemon juice, fish with lemon juice, salad with lemon dressing and lemon raspberry tiramisu. Yum!

I forgot to save the grated rinds so I'll have to do that next time...

The perfect lemon raspberry tiramisu for Aunty Nancy's Birthday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garden update

I've had 4 weeks of technical difficulties so updates with photos have been lagging. Finally, here is the garden. It's growing by leaps and bounds and really starting to produce. We have snap peas, radishes, carrots, bush beans, squash, tomatoes, cilantro, dill, lettuce, spinach and more. I even got a cucumber a couple days ago! So we are finally able to have a few completely homegrown salads, tho usually we supplement what we buy at the store....

We also added a whole new section (on the right) and just planted seeds. So grow grow grow!!! We even got a little misty rain - magic ;-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grocery List

People who are aware of this "healthful living journey" we are now on have so many questions for us. I'm still finding ways of making this all easier on us and I plan to share my tricks to hopefully make things easier on others as well. One of the reasons we are all so unhealthy these days is because it is so much EASIER! And CHEAPER!!
We have finally put ourself on an official budget. I'm going to share our food budget and hope you don't judge but rather appreciate that I'm giving you a point of reference. I'm sure many of you spend much less, but I'm sure that many of you don't add all that you truly spend all week either. For example, this budget does not include eating out - but we really only eat out one day a week at the most - and it's usually lunch. Most people eat out quite frequently!!

So our budget is officially $125 per week. We tried $100 but it seemed that $125 was really doable whereas $100 was stretching it a bit. It's only been 2 weeks so I'll update you in another month as to our progress.

I went to Trader Joes today and here's what I got for $76.

-Greek Yogurt (super yummy, a new friend just turned me on to this b/c it apparently naturally increases progesterone)
-Flax/raisin bran cereal
-1/2 gallon soy milk
-canned black beans
-brown rice
-whole wheat penne pasta
-sprouted wheat bread
-fuji apples (four)
-salad mix
-Dark Chocolate (my one vice, I eat it each night)
-mango vanilla soy ice cream (Mike's vice!)

-slivered almonds
-canned artichokes
-"green" juice
-crumbled goat cheese
-veggie burgers
-shredded carrots
-almond butter

Oh - and organic blueberries. SOMEONE literally stole them off the counter while I was taking the first photo. Without my knowing, she walked over to her high chair, got in it, put the tray on and started saying "peash, peash"...which means, please can I have some blueberries? How cute ;-)
Obviously this list doesn't account for alot of other things we eat each week including eggs, tofu, any meat, and most of our veggies which I already had in the house. This is where that other $50 will come in handy. We usually spend around $20-30 at the farmer's market on Sunday so I'll post our goods on that day too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

I feel like a trademark of any vegetarian/vegan is that they eat strange things like swiss chard, collard greens, and kale. And you most definitely see all of these thinks weekly, throughout the year, at the farmer's market. I know they have wonderful nutritional value, so we have incorporated them into our own diets now on a weekly basis. You can eat them like spinach which is easy (I usually add garlic, salt, and vinegar) but it gets a little boring. I'm still perfecting my ability to cook them all to the perfect texture, and I'm still exploring recipes. Here is one that is so much of a winner even Kaelyn begged for more!
This came from my Weight Watchers Versatile Vegetarian cookbook

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Chickpeas
2 t olive/canola oil
1/2 t ground cumin
2 t butter (optional)
1 T chopped green chiles
1 garlic clove
1 bunch swiss chard, cleaned and chopped (separate the stems and leaves but include both)
One 19-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (can also use dried beans and cook them first)
1/2 t ground ginger
3/4 t garam masala

Okay - I'll be honest and I didn't have the masala, so I used MARSALA and it actually was quite good.

Heat the oil and butter until bubbling nearly subsides and butter is melted. Add cumin, cook just until fragrant (10-15 seconds). Add chiles and garlic, cook, stirring constantly until garlic is lightly browned (30-45 seconds).

Add chard stems, chick peas, and 1/4 cup of water, cook stirring gently until stems are softened and most of the liquid is evaporated (3-4 minutes). Stirn in chard leaves, ginger, and another 1/4 cup of water. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring as needed, until the greens are just tender, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with garam masala; cook uncovered, stirring gently, until the remaining liquid is absorbed, 1-2 minutes.

166 calories, 6 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 157 mg sodium, 7 g fiber 8 g protien, 20 g carbohydrate, 97 mg calcium.

Weight watchers points per serving: 3

Just in time for the 4th of July!

My friend and colleague Marjorie brought this super yummy potato salad to a gathering we had last weekend. I was so impressed with it I begged her for the recipe (apparently it's from Sunset Magazine's website). I had a sneaky suspicion that it was pretty healthy so now I don't feel guilty for eating the leftovers. I even added some blanched broccoli the next day and mixed it in which was delicious. I think the dressing could be used on many things, including a general salad. Of course, whenever possible...use organic ingredients.

Fingerling Potato Salad with Gremolata Dressing
Great for salads because they hold their shape once cooked, these fingerlings are steamed, which enables them to retain more nutrients than boiled. The gremolata-inspired dressing (with parsley, lemon, and garlic) adds a twist to this side.

4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)

1/2 pound white fingerling potatoes
1/2 pound red fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained

1. Steam potatoes, covered, 12 minutes or until tender. Cover and chill.

2. Combine juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; slowly add oil, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in rind and garlic; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and capers.

3. Cut potatoes into quarters; add potatoes to juice mixture, tossing to coat.

Nutritional Information
Calories:125 (26% from fat)
Fat:3.6g (sat 0.5g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.4g)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


If there is ONE thing you do for yourself this year - please go see Food, Inc. It's at theaters now. Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your kids, heck - if nothing else, please do it for me.

See a trailer here:

Also - for more information on the food you eat, go to: www.whatsinmyfood.org

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lentil Soup

This is one of my old time favorites. You'll notice a theme in my upcoming recipe positings. Not only are the recipes going to be healthy but they will also be relatively inexpensive (at least for healthy food). I will be the first to admit, eating this way has increased our budget. But I'm trying to cut back on the amount that we eat, rather than the quality. Poor Mikey can't stop losing weight. He's going to disappear soon if I don't get him a cheeseburger. Of course, my scale stopped going down - go figure.

Anyway - I've made this soup since I was in college and I still love it. Shared it with friends last weekend and they loved it.

Bag/pound of dried lentils
3 bay leafs
1 chicken or veggie bouillon (you can use stock instead of water if you prefer)
3-4 celery stalks
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
1/2 chopped onion (optional - you get a lot of flavor from the celery)
3 garlic cloves
Big dash of sea salt and pepper
1 T olive oil (you can also just use water for sauteing if you prefer)

Saute all the vegetables in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the lentils
Add 6-8 cups of water. The water level should be twice as high as the lentils. Then you bring to boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours. I like my soup to be more like "bean mash" (as Mike calls it) rather than watery. But you can edit the consistency by not cooking the beans till they are mushy or adding water as they soak it up. Just note that if you refridgerate leftovers (this recipe makes soup for about 6-8 servings) the juice gets soaked up so you'd need to add water during reheating.
Here I added stewed tomatoes which was really a great addition...

If you feel like being naughty, you can add a dollop of sour cream and/or shredded cheese on top, or some people like salsa. I've also seen a recipe for adding a can of stewed tomatoes as you cook the soup. That would be good but I haven't tried it.

Oh - and Kaelyn loves this soup too ;-)


Monday, June 8, 2009

Hummus Recipe

So I'm having more requests for garden updates and recipe postings. Since I'm having technical difficulties, the garden pics will have to wait (though the garden is officially going CRAZY! - I love it!).

In the meantime, here's a recipe for super yummy and easy to make Hummus.

Buy dried Chick Peas (garbanzo beans)- I bought a pound and used 4 cups

Soak overnight in water that more than covers the chickpeas

Boil for about 3 hours (test the chickpeas and when they are soft enough to eat you can stop boiling them)

Cool for 15 mins so they are not super hot.

Put in blender with the following ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
3-4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon Cumin (depending on your preference)

Blend until smooth, adding the broth you boiled the lentils in to moisten and make smooth.

You can add other ingredients for flavor. I haven't tried it yet but plan to try red peppers, other spices, etc.

You can freeze this also - since it makes quite a bit. You can also freeze the cooked garbanzo beans and use for different things - on salads, in hummus that you make later, in other recipes (I'll post a good chickpea and swiss chard recipe later).

Have fun! Kaelyn just loves hummus. She dips her own crackers in them and also eats it by the fingerfull (or spoonfull!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rough week

I'm having a really rough week. I felt the need to come here and write. I feel that the only people I can really talk to are people who have lost their own babies so I will write instead of reaching out to anyone right now. I don't know what happened, but the loss of this last year is hitting me really hard right now. Our computer crashed this week and we've lost everything. We may be able to get it back after spending lots of money but I'm not sure if we'll do that or not. I feel like I keep getting kicked around while I'm down and I've tried to just put on a brave face and keep moving forward, but right now I don't feel like doing that. Of course, as usual, I don't have much time to just sit in sorrow. All day is spent with Kaelyn (we're working on potty training right now so it's quite time consuming) and we are going away with friends this weekend. So maybe that's why I'm writing - to try to get this all out.

I keep realizing all of the things that are on our computer and now gone. One of the big ones is a poem I wrote for Liliana. I wanted to post it to this blog but wasn't ready. I never shared it with anyone and therefore I will not be able to get it back. When we lost Maya, I wrote a poem and shared it. But after Liliana, I felt like everyone had already had enough of the strange and unfamiliar grief of losing a baby to a miscarriage. Heck, some people don't think it should be a big deal - it's not like you ever knew the child. But I tell ya what, I have YET to meet anyone who's had a miscarriage or lost a child at any point who does not have the same feelings that I do. So I know I'm not odd - only unfamiliar to those who have not had to walk in these shoes. If only they really knew how lucky they were. I feel like I'm trapped in a sort of hell. And with two losses behind us, I feel like I'm just in a hampster wheel going around and around.

Anyway, I wanted to include this poem I wrote for Maya on the day before I let her go. It is killing me that I don't have the poem I wrote for Liliana. I'm so mad that I didn't feel that I could share it with anyone, even her own father.

Dear Baby

Dear baby, who were you?
Who would you have been?

Would you have been like daddy?
Big brown eyes, the funny guy
A loving man with so much to give?

Or would you have been like mommy?
Baby blues, a strong attitude
A warm heart and a big life to live?

We’ll always wonder and never know
Who you would have grown up to be
But we’ll always have one extra seat at our table
And it’s you there we’ll always see.

As we grow our family number,
We imagine the good and the fun,
But losing you put a halt on our journey
And made us remember to not always run.

You’ll always be our baby
Though we never knew you well
There will be one more number than what people can see
But our love for you we will tell

In our yard you’ll always be seen
In the form of an olive tree
We’ll remember our dream of a little bean
Our baby Maya, our angel, who’ll always be so free

We love you, we miss you,
Keep us safe from high above
You are a special baby
Because you will only know our love

Love mommy, daddy, and your big sister Kaelyn