Friday, April 26, 2013

Polenta with Portabellas and Asparagus and a salad

I love a meal filled with complex flavors and textures. But sometimes a simple meal just hits the spot. Last night I made Jim and I a simple dish of polenta with vegetables. We both love polenta, and granted, usually when we eat it, Jim's step dad makes it and fills it with mozzarella and covers it in marinara and it's to die for! But it's not the healthiest way to eat it, especially since we're not really doing cheese anymore.

This simple recipe uses fresh ingredients and is still packed with flavor. It may have been enhanced by adding some marinara, and I'll probably give that a try next time.

asparagus polenta2



Polenta with Portabellas and Asparagus


1 cup polenta

1 portabella mushroom cap, sliced

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into short spears

1 tbsp oil (I used truffle oil, but you could use olive or coconut or whatever you wish)

1-2 tbsps Bragg's liquid aminos

Salt, pepper, garlic, to taste

Cook polenta according to directions on the package. It takes about 30 minutes and constant attention, so plan accordingly. Meanwhile, saute the vegetables in the oil. Sprinkle with spices and liquid aminos. Heap veggies over polenta and serve with a small salad.

Simple, right? You can easily add a protein or some Parmesan cheese to the top of this or it's pretty delicious just the way it is.

asparagus polenta3


And I promised a salad.


This salad is simple, let delicious and accompanied the polenta nicely. It's light and perfect for summer.



Steph's Spinach Salad


1 large handful of spinach

8-10 strawberries, sliced

1 large handful of walnuts, chopped

1 large avocado, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (From Trader Joes...you can use any vinegar, though. This one is just my fave!)

salt & pepper, to taste

Toss spinach with strawberries, walnuts and avocado. In a glass measuring cup whisk olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Dress salad.

spinach salad1


It was really a delicious and refreshing dinner. It kind of made me excited for summer, which I never am. Summer heat and I don't get along at all. But this year I'm actually a little excited about it.


I love summer produce. We have the boat this year, and we plan on taking it out a lot. We also plan on taking Katie to the lake to see what those webbed paws of hers can do!


I hope everyone is having a lovely Friday!



P.S. I lied. I actually made this for dinner two nights ago. Eeeeeep! Don't hate me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mr and Meatless' Thai Noodles and a little update

I love Thai food. Jim does not. I mean he'll eat it every once in a while, but we don't go out for it nearly as much as I'd like to. So when I decided to make a Thai-inspired dish for dinner last night, I was a bit apprehensive. I needn't have worried, though, because Jim loved it. And I think you will too.
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This really is the simplest dish to make. Which is a good thing because Jim and I got home late last night. And honestly, I'm super proud of myself because in the past, after an hour and a half yoga class followed by grocery shopping and returning home after 8 p.m., I would have abandoned my dinner plans and picked something up while we were out instead of cooking. We would have spent more money and inevitably put crap into our bodies that we didn't want there.

I must be making progress. This new lifestyle Jim and I have been living must be working. That alone is proof of it.

Anyway, I promised you a recipe and taunted you with a photo, so here we go! The update can wait.



Mr and Meatless' Thai Noodles


2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (you can use whatever oil you want, I just like the sesame flavor for this dish)

1 tbsp red curry paste (more if you want...or less. But don't worry, it's not that spicy)

1 heaping tbsp peanut butter

A few squirts of Sriracha sauce

1/2 can coconut milk (I used full-fat for a creamier texture, you could probably use lite too if you wanted)

1 1/2 cups veggie broth

As many veggies as you can stand, cut into spearish shapes (I used carrots, zucchini, little mushroom guys, broccoli and spring onion)

Handful of rice noodles (again, use as much or as little as you want)

Water for boiling

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Add noodles and leave them while you do the rest of your preparations.

Heat oil in a large pan. Add red curry paste. Mix it all around and let them mingle for a moment. Add your firmer veggies (carrots, onions and broccoli for me). Let them saute for a few minutes. Add more oil if you need to.  Add the rest of the veggies and saute for about a minute. Add veggie broth. Cover and let the steam cook your veggies a little bit more, maybe 2 minutes. Remove lid. Add coconut milk. Let the milk warm, about a minute. Stir in the peanut butter and Sriracha. If you like it a little thinner, add more  broth.

Drain the noodles and divide them between your bowls. Spoon vegetables and sauce over noodles. Enjoy!


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*Note: This recipe is very versatile, and you're not going to mess it up by changing things, adding things, etc. Jim likes his extra spicy, so he added a bunch more Sriracha. If I'd had some cilantro, I probably would have put some on top to garnish. You could add shrimp or chicken if you feel it lacking in protein. I actually sprinkled a little bit of salt into mine. You could add soy sauce. It's not terribly Thai, but then again, I don't think salt is either. I don't claim to be any kind of an ethnic cook. That's why I said this recipe is Thai-inspired.

We both thoroughly enjoyed this meal. There was some sauce leftover, so we're excited about using it with some brown rice and veggies on nosh night this weekend.

A Little Update

As of April 18th, Jim and I have been juicing, eating mostly vegan, avoiding caffeine, working out weeks we don't juice, getting enough sleep, I've started doing yoga, and overall putting our health before anything and everything else. Mostly. Hey! We're not perfect! And honestly in those moments of imperfection, I've paid dearly. For the pizza and alcohol I consumed last weekend, my tummy paid all Saturday night and most of Sunday. For the hash brown casserole we ate all day the Saturday before, I paid dearly. And when I finish this lovely soy latte my amazing little brother brought me at work (and forgot to get decaf) I'll be paying dearly this afternoon with jitters, a racing mind and a need to run nine miles. My body is losing it's ability to handle having crap inside of it. I'm healing!

But mostly, I feel amazing.

I have energy. And without a daily morning latte!

I have a clear mind. I have control over my mind.

I have motivation. To workout. To eat well. To write. To work on my business. To do crafts and hobbies I lost the will to do long ago.

I have a positive attitude. Even about this job which drives me mad but is necessary for, well, every thing.

I have confidence. I KNOW I can succeed. At yoga. At photography. At getting my novel published (you know, once it's finished).  At losing weight. At being a good wife. Maybe even someday a good mother.

I've lost 12 lbs.

I'm happy. Content. Looking forward to the rest of my life. Looking forward to seeing my husband tonight, to going fishing with him on Sunday. To my lovely friend Stephanie's bridal shower this weekend. And her wedding in June!

I've never felt so good in my life.

And that's your little update for today.

And while I'm feeling so damn positive, what's your favorite thing about life right now? Anything. Tiny or huge. Share with me!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mr and Meatless' Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

I've had a lot of people ask me what kind of flour I use in my gluten-free recipes, so I figured I'd share. I posted it with the Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes recipe, but here it is again, for easier access.


Mr and Meatless' Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour


1 cup coconut flour

1 cup sweet sorghum flour

2 cups brown rice flour

1 cup potato starch

Whisk it all together and keep it in an air tight container in the fridge.

I use this four for everything from cupcakes to pancakes to soups and sauces. It sounds like it might be sweet, but it's not an overpowering sweet, so don't worry about using it in savory recipes. Also remember if you're baking with it, you need to add xanthan gum or some other binding agent so that everything sticks together properly.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recipes: Favorite juices and smoothie

Lately I've been telling you all about Jim's and my juicing experiences, but I haven't posted any recipes for you. Partly that's because I wanted to come up with a few favorites before I posted any. So here they are, just a few of our favorite combinations.  All recipes are for two people. Keep in mind you may have to add more or less depending on the size of your fruits and vegetables. My recipes are just a guideline to work with.

Jim's Favorite


2 apples

2 plums

1/2 head of purple cabbage

1 cucumber

Handful of kale

Handful of spinach

Wash it all, trim and cut it into pieces that will fit in your juicer (if necessary), and juice away!

Rather than showing you a photo of the finished product in a glass, I figured I'd share with you the just-juiced photo, before we mix it all up and pour it. Pretty amazing, huh?
juicing


Stephanie's Favorite


1 bulb of fennel

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

6 carrots

3 oranges, peeled

1/2 head of purple cabbage

Wash, trim, cut, juice!

juice2Pretty, huh?

It's really fun for me to watch the pitcher fill up in such weird color combinations. In a way it's kind of satisfying because we all know that the more colorful the food we eat, the better it is for us. I love knowing that such amazing nutrition is going into my body!



Jim and Steph's Morning Smoothie


No matter what else we're doing for food during the week, whether we're just juicing or incorporating meals into our days as well, we start with a smoothie.

2 frozen bananas

1 big, big handful of spinach or kale

1 heaping scoop of peanut butter

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

1-2 tsp spirulina

Almond milk  (to desired thickness)

Wash your spinach, throw all ingredients into the blender and let 'er whir!

smoothie1

Sometimes we'll also add a scoop of protein powder to our smoothies, but there's really plenty in there between the peanut butter, chia seeds and spirulina.

A lot of people ask us if our green drinks taste...well, green. The answer to that depends on what we put in them. Last night I made our juice with a cucumber, a couple of zucchini, lots of greens (collards and kale), and a couple of oranges. The result tasted pretty green. It didn't bother us, but the if you can't take such an earthy flavor, add another orange. Or an apple. Apples are VERY sweet. The recipes above are all delicious and the greens sort of melt into the background flavor-wise, especially in the smoothie. Banana is a pretty potent flavor and so is the cocoa powder. It tastes more like a banana, chocolate, peanut butter shake than a green smoothie, but you still get the benefit of the greens.

We've learned that juicing is a very personal thing. In fact, we don't even look at recipes anymore. We just check the fridge and fill up the juicer with things that seem like they'd taste good together. Sometimes we don't do so well, like the time we put too much ginger in. And sometimes you come up with something you want to use over and over, like the ones above. If you're interested in juicing, there are plenty of recipes out there. Try Reboot with Joe or one of Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy recipes. They have plenty of inspirational recipes to get you started until you feel comfortable to create your own.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life Altering Change

Jim and I have been making some major changes over the past month. I told you a little bit about our juice reboot, but it's gone beyond that. We've decided we need to overhaul our entire attitude toward food and change what we put into our bodies while we still have the chance to make a difference in our own lives.

It all started on St. Patrick's Day as we sat down to feast on processed food and plenty of beer. I was scrolling through Pinterest during a commercial on tv and the following image popped into my screen.

fat sick and nearly dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. "Interesting," I thought, and checked Netflix to see if they had it. They did. And we watched (you can watch on Netflix if you have it, or through Amazon, free with prime or a $2.99 rental).

It's about Joe Cross, an Australian who suddenly realizes he needs to make some changes in his life. He goes on a 60-day juice fast while traveling around the USA promoting healthy living. For whatever reason, this film struck a chord with us and we embarked on our own 4-day juice fast the very next day.

But somehow that wasn't enough and through the "Reboot with Joe" website, I learned about a new documentary, Hungry for Change, that was showing for free for a limited time that week (also available for rental through Amazon).

hungry for change

This one was huge for us. Not only did it tell us a lot of stuff we already knew was bad for us, but it explained why, and that's huge when you're talking about stuff like diet soda, which I knew was bad for me (sadly, other people think it's good for them), and I already stay away from, but did you know that it causes blurred vision, headaches, nausea, vertigo, memory loss and seizures and for those reasons pilots are not allowed to drink it while or prior to flying? Holy Cow! I won't go into all of the details of the movie, but I highly recommend it. It features many prominent figures in the health/wellness world and Jim and I both found it to be insightful and eye-opening.

Along with these two videos, I read a book.

crazy sexy dietThe word "diet" turned my head the other way when I first saw this one. I didn't want to read a diet book, but after reading the first few sections of Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen, a book devoted mostly to recipes whereas Crazy Sexy Diet is mostly information, I decided I needed to read Crazy Sexy Diet too. Carr never thought she was going to be a diet guru. She was an actress and photographer and when she learned she had cancer, her entire life changed. Doctors gave her a prognosis and she said screw that! From there, she transformed her life, started following a plant-based diet and claims she's never felt better, cancer and all. But that's her story, and you should get her books and let her tell it. Check out her website too. It is an amazing source for information, recipes and community support.

But back to Jim and I, because we don't have a book and if you want our story, you're going to find it here. Granted, our story isn't that long yet, and you'll have to keep coming back if you want to learn more, but here it is so far.

As I mentioned, we did a 4-day juice fast just after St. Patrick's Day. I felt more energy after the second day of that fast than I have in so long. But then we had a crazy Napa 30th birthday party to go to, and we needed to quit the fast so we could have some fun (also, we weren't so sure about fasting for longer than that at a time. We want to be healthy, not crazy and dangerous with our bodies). Having fun, by the way, is okay. We also went to the Food Trucks event in Roseville last night and had Po'Boy sandwiches from the Cajun truck. It's okay.

We did another juice fast last week and we plan on doing one next week. The weeks between, we've been replacing one meal with juice and eating healthfully the other. We have smoothies for breakfast (usually filled with fruit, spinach or kale, protein powder, chia seeds and spirulina...it's a seaweed) when we're on the fast and when we're not, and sometimes a little snack like a handful of walnuts and raspberries if we need it. We've also been kicking up our workouts, and by kicking up I mean doing them. We take Katie for long walks or go to the school down the street and play basketball. We both kind of hate working out, so we try to make it fun.

We've had very few desserts in the past month. We cut our added sugar down to almost nothing (okay, sometimes I have a few chocolate chips with my walnuts, but again, its okay!), and in the month we've been doing this, I think we've had caffeine twice. We've almost completely cut out dairy products and eggs and started eating more quinoa, wild rice and tons and tons of vegetables!

Mostly, I feel amazing. I have energy (except when I can't sleep at night, like last night...argh!), I have a positive attitude toward the world. I want to get outside and do things. I want to cook. When I find myself craving something, it's not tater tots or ice cream, it's walnuts or carrots or oatmeal (oatmeal, people!). I was on such a tater tot kick before I started this and they don't even sound good anymore!

As I mentioned before, though, this doesn't mean we won't partake in foods we've enjoyed in the past. Jim fully intends to continue eating meat when we're out with family or friends or on special occasions. And I don't see myself passing up roasted figs with goat cheese and honey come fig season. But we're no longer okay with putting so much crap into our bodies. There's increasing research that concludes that filling up on fats, simple white foods like pastas, breads and sugars and the plethora of lab created, chemical "food" products on grocery store shelves these days causes cancer and chronic diseases, and we just don't want to risk it. It's like stepping into a fire and just hoping you don't get burned. We've seen too many people we care about...and so many people those people care about get diagnoses of cancer and heart problems that it seems stupid to us not to do something to stay off that increasingly long list.

So stay tuned for more tidbits and tales of our journey to health. I'm sure it's going to be a bumpy ride, and it won't always be easy, but we're going to make the trek and hopefully come out on top as a result.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go enjoy my "lunch." I've got carrots, oranges, fennel, red cabbage, baby kale, spinach and sweet potatoes today all wrapped up in a pretty purple juice. As Tucker would say, "Aaaaahhhh."

If you find yourself intrigued, please ask me about our experience. I have tons of information, recipes, opinions, and advise if you're interested in making a change like this in your life.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On my second yoga experience

I like yoga. I haven't done a ton of it because it's kind of a "luxury" I can't justify paying for on a regular basis, so when I found a groupon for ten classes at a local studio, I lassoed my sister-in-law and we went to our first class on Tuesday.

As I previously mentioned, this was my second yoga experience. Of course I'm not counting doing poses from magazines and the Jillian Michaels dvd I picked up as experiences. I'm just referring to classes. And this one sort of scared me.

The first time I took a yoga class was with my other sister-in-law, and it was lovely. The poses were challenging enough, and I left the class feeling calm, relaxed and refreshed.

This class had one fundamental difference: heat. And humidity. Which I wasn't aware of when we showed up for the class. And I felt like I was going to die about 70% of the class. I got dizzy and slightly nauseous and definitely went through all of my water way too fast. But I'm kind of proud of myself because I stuck it out and finished, even though I (and sister-in-law!) sat out several of the poses.

I'm not sure what I think about going back. I mean sure, we'll go because we have nine more classes, but I think next time we'll try one of the two classes they offer without heat.

And may be we'll go back to heat....eventually.

 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Getting away for a weekend

This past weekend, Jim and I were finally able to take a long weekend and do some good relaxing. Even though it meant missing Easter with the families, we took Monday off and spent the weekend at my family's house on the coast in Northern California. It's about the most relaxing place I've been. The house is beautiful, the view is unparalleled and there's nothing like the sound of waves crashing against rock to release life's tensions.
shelter cove2

Of course, we had to overcome a few obstacles before we could actually do any relaxing.

Like find a way to get propane to the house.

We arrived late on Friday night to a little blue card on the door that said the propane tank had been capped off because the account wasn't current. We called them and apparently the card on file had been declined (we later learned it was because of a fraud alert), and of course, there was nothing they could do until Monday. So we had no heater, no stove, no HOT WATER. Until Jim came up with the brilliant idea to buy a 5 gallon tank and attach it to the line to the house.

So we went down to the cove to find propane.

And walk around the tidal flats a bit.
shelter cove1


And get a delicious fish burger.
shelter cove3

We LOOOOOOOOOOVE our fish burgers!

sc2

Fortunately for us, the general store sold 5 -gallon propane tanks. Full. It looked pretty funny sitting next to the big tank, like it was the little brother tank learning to warm the big house.
shelter cove17

That problem finally under control and we were darn ready for a shower, so we go upstairs to this beauty and turn on the tap. It's cold. Wait for it. Still cold. A few more minutes. Still like ice. So now we need to find the water heater. But there isn't one to be found anywhere. We deduce the following: it's tankless. So we look around some more, and finally I point to the crawl space panel on the ceiling in the master bathroom. "Maybe up there?"

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Except it's dark, so I go back downstairs for a flashlight. Armed with the light Jim, who is the only one tall enough to even touch the panel let alone get his head into the hole, takes a peek. There are no lights on. It needs to be reset. But it's quite a ways in there. Jim can't reach it at all. I told him I'd go find him a poking device, head back downstairs and return with a pool cue. So Jim's standing on the bench with the flashlight in one hand, the pool cue in another poking at a hole in the ceiling. If he'd been sufficiently clothed I totally would have taken a photo! Instead you get the tools out of place in the bathroom.
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So we take our shower and it's amazingly luxurious. This shower is Jim's number one reason for wanting to come to this house. We each get our own lovely shower head, plus body jets. It's pretty amazing.
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Once we're done with our shower (it's about 3p.m. by this point), we're ready for a snack, so we go back to the kitchen where we left our food on the counter only to find ants crawling all over the dirty pancake batter bowl from breakfast (I left it because it had raw egg in it and I wanted to wait to wash it until we had hot water) and heading for the rest of our food. We quickly moved it all to the kitchen island, checked everything that was open and bagged it all in freezer bags so they couldn't get in if they found it again. Then we went about killing all the ants we could find and putting traps (which we found under the kitchen sink) by the window where they seemed to be getting in.

Ok, so we're halfway through the first of our two full days of relaxation and finally we can sit down.

We brought a puzzle, which we put together while partaking in "adult coffees."
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Katie lounged around the house, being lazy and trying to sneak upstairs whenever she thought we weren't looking.
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I spent a lot of time reading Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.  I am thoroughly enjoying it. I bought her Crazy, Sex Kitchen book a few months ago, and was so intrigued by her philosophies that I decided I needed to read Crazy, Sexy Diet too. Initially I turned away from this book because I hate the word "diet." It's so unfriendly. But I took a peek inside the book on Amazon, and decided it wasn't really a diet book, so to speak and bought it anyway. It actually outlines exactly how I want to live my life in regards to what I put in my body and what I expect from it in return. I've been a vegetarian for eighteen years, but I feel like I'm ready to take that next step and cut out dairy, eggs and processed foods as well.

Ok, so back to the weekend. One of my favorite movies was on: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Even Jim thinks this movie is hilarious! We sat down with our "nosh" dinner and watched the movie.
shelter cove11

The sunsets up there are absolutely gorgeous, and we were fortunate that the clouds didn't completely block our view either night.
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Sunday morning we again cooked breakfast on the griddle. We had propane, but we weren't sure how for five gallons was going to get us, so we didn't want to waste it where we didn't need it. After breakfast we took Katie down to the black sand beach. It was really really foggy, but she enjoyed running in the sand and trying to avoid the waves, sniffing around at everything she saw.
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She was a happy pooch.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging, being lazy, doing that relaxing thing. We watched a Friends marathon, followed by a marathon of our favorite show of all time: Monk.

We made sausages (meat for him, veggie for me) on the griddle and ate them with a big salad for dinner.

After dinner we took a bath, one of my favorite parts of this house. Technically it can fit three people and has amazingly relaxing jets and changes colors and makes tons of bubbles and the freaking works. It was amazing. A glass of wine, a few chocolates and we were in heaven. Well, at least I was.
shelter cove15The blanket is up over the window because people finally moved into the house next door. The other window has the sun shade down.

Someone thought it was appropriate to light off fireworks for Easter. We weren't complaining. They were small, but they were pretty.
shelter cove13

The next morning we packed up and headed home, feeling much more refreshed than when we started. I could have used a week. Maybe not there because there's so little to do I'd get bored, but a good week vacation definitely must be in my future, hopefully sooner than later.