Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shopping For Local Produce

I found this enticingly quaint, yet comfortably modern, farmer's "stand" yesterday and then shopped there this morning for my produce.

Although the prices are not phenomenally great, they are not unreasonably high. After all, these items are not coming from huge commercialized farms.

Apparently this farm started out smaller, and at one point their sales occured in a nearby house. Then they built this huge wooden structure that is rather rustically romantic and reminiscent of days gone by. It's an interesting hybrid of pine-scented barn, and up-to-date modern fixtures. I found it intriguing and charming.

I took a picture of the roll butter because that alone sold me on the place. Show me a handmade, old fashioned item and I chomp at the bit and drool like a mutt.

Side note: They sell rabbit meat here.... not so sure what I think about that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Squash Eggs Are AMAZING!

This morning I wanted to make sure my son got a really nutritious breakfast, so I opted for eggs.

I decided to check out Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook for recipes that would make eggs even more nutritious.

Here is the recipe I used, based on hers, with my changes marked with an asterisk.

2 Eggs
4 Egg Whites
1/4 C. Yellow Squash Puree*
1/2 C. Skim Milk*
2 Tbsp. Shredded Cheese (I used a chedder and colby combo)*
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder*
Pinch of Kosher Salt*
Pinch of Freshly Ground Pepper
Whatever oil you want for frying.*
A Non-Stick Pan for better eggs and less oil needed.*

Put everything, but the oil, into a bowl and whisk it until it is all mixed together.

Heat up a non-stick pan on medium. Put oil in the pan. Put mixture in the pan.

Do your scrambled egg thing.


Side note: You can't really taste the squash in these eggs, but they are amazingly flavorful and fluffy. I am a big fan of this recipe, and so is Jack! He ate all of his rather enthusiastically, and then came over and pilfered some of mine.

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grape Smoothie- Vegan Friendly

I tried something new with today's smoothie. A few days ago I noticed that the seedless red grapes I bought were loosing their firmness. I am a bit of a grape snob. I like them to be really taut. So instead of ignoring them until I felt justified in chucking them, I decided to blend and freeze them.

I poured the pureed grapes into ice cube trays, set my freezer to power freeze and then popped out the cubes into a ziploc.

The pic of this smoothie isn't especially attractive. It doesn't give a realistic idea of how tasty it is. That is happens when I use my macbook to take pics. The texture you see is the ground flax seed I added.

Here is today's recipe:

1 Cube of frozen pureed swiss chard

1 Cube of frozen pureed seedless red grapes

1 Frozen banana

1 Cup apple juice

1 Cup enriched vanilla rice dream

1/4 Cup frozen pineapple

1/4 cup frozen orange segments
(peel and cut up an orange and freeze it on a cookie tray)

1 Tbsp. of ground flax- My son doesn't get this in his smoothie b/c of his nut allergy
(if you grind it yourself keep it for about a week always refrigerated)

Some notes of the benefits of flax meal:


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I don't have a picture of this, but trust me, it's good.

I took some frozen concentrate 100% orange juice, put it in my blender once it thawed a bit. Then I added a can of water and 1/4 cup of pureed carrot and mixed it all together.

Afterward I added the rest of the recommended water (plus extra to dilute it for the little one). I added the water later b/c it all wouldn't fit in the blender carafe.

The carrot hides really well inside the juice and you get the nutrients. I actually couldn't even tell it was there, and my son certainly had no idea!

Our Little Visitor

Most people would not be happy to have this little guy infiltrating their garden... but he really is cute! Once he puts a little meat on his bones he won't be able to fit through the fence anymore. Until then I guess I can sacrifice a few beet tops!

French Toast

This is a recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's book, "Deceptively Delicious" with elements I altered marked with an *.

4 Large Eggs
2 Tbsp. of pumpkin puree (I stole mine from a can)*
1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice*
4 slices whole-wheat bread
Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar*
1 Fuji Apple, sliced in thin slices and sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice*

1. Mix the eggs, puree and spice in a bowl.
2. Coat your bread in the mixture.
3. Cook it in the pan, I recommend non stick (calphalon unison in particular)
4. Put on plate, cover in nectar and apple slices.

Calphalon Unison Nonstick 12-Inch Round Grill Pan

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

Friday, June 18, 2010

Healthy Cookies

This is a remake of a Jessica Seinfeld recipe that is in her book "Deceptively Delicious". Basically I altered the recipe to meet the contents of my pantry.

The alterations I made are marked with an asterisk.

"Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"

1 c. 8 Grain Hot Cereal (Dry)*
1 c. Wheat Pastry Flour*
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 c. lightly packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp. Butter*
1 Egg White
1/2 c. Banana Puree
1/2 c. Yellow Squash Puree*
1 Large Egg White
1 Chopped Fuji Apple*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie/baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, cereal, baking soda and salt.

3. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl, don't over mix. Add squash and banana, egg white, stir to blend. Add dry ingredients and apples.

4. Scoop them on the sheet about an inch apart. Bake about 12 minutes. Put on cooling rack about five minutes after taking out of the oven.


Following Up on All That Pureeing

Here are a couple of visuals to add another level of understanding to the value in pureeing and freezing your vegetables for future food prep.

In the ice trays and plastic bag are the cubes of swiss chard. I ended up with 46 cubes from 75 cents of greens. That means that I can make a smoothie for 46 days on just $.75!!!!!!

Think back on my post about how much it would cost you to do a month of bagged spinach!

That is a savings of around $19... seriously! And it took me about twenty minutes of work to get all those little cubes ready to go.

Did you notice the huge bag of frozen strawberries? That was five dollars and about twenty minutes of work!

The smoothie you see next to the strawberries is the Pink Swiss recipe I posted earlier. It utilized the chard and the strawberries. Side note: Jack sucked his down. HAHA!!! Tricked him yet again. :)

Then there is the pic of my freezer brimming with bags of frozen carrot, squash, avocado, chard, and beet puree. There are also blackberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas in there.

I am not going to take the time mathematically evaluate all those items. But, I am pretty sure that we both know there is no need to!

Pink Swiss Smoothie

Today's smoothie is sweet on it's own, but would probably appeal to unseasoned green smoothie drinkers more if it had a shot of agave or honey in it.

The calories for the entire recipe comes out to about 350. This recipe makes about 2.5 to 3 servings.

Here is the recipe:

1/4 c. tofu
1/4 c. skim milk
1/4 c. apple juice
1/4 c. water
1 frozen banana
1/3 c. frozen strawberries
1/4 c. frozen pineapple
1 ice cube of swiss chard or a few leaves
handful of ice
shot of vanilla extract

Pros and Cons of Swiss Chard:

Strong flavor and some aftertaste


Swiss chard like spinach is the store house of many phytonutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.

Very low in calories (19 kcal per 100 g fresh, raw leaves) and fats; recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

Chard leaves are an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Its fresh leaves provide about 33% of recommended levels per 100 g. As an anti-oxidant, vitamin C helps to quench free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) through its reduction potential properties. Lab studies suggests that regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps maintain normal connective tissue, prevent iron deficiency, and also helps body develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity.

It is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

It is also rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A and flavonoids anti-oxidants like ß carotene, alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.

It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.

Regular inclusion of swiss chard in the diet is found to prevent osteoporosis, iron deficiency anaemia, vitamin A deficiency and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.

- http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/swiss-chard.html

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Buttered Noodles

I can't eat anything bland. My brain recoils at the thought. My stomach balks at the suggestion and my tongue is just plain offended. So, whenever I see any recipes that call for salt as the only seasoning I know that inevitably my hands and nose will be busy mixing, matching and melding spices from my pantry in order to make the recipe my own.

As I posted in my last entry, my sister gave me a book that a friend of hers gave to her to give to me. It's the "Deceptively Delicious" one by Jessica Seinfeld. Yeah, Jerry Seinfeld's wife. She's amazingly down to earth and realistic in this book. I was surprised.

The first recipe of hers that I tried is called "Buttered" Noodles. Basically, it's healthy wheat pasta with a milk, margarine, grated parmesan cheese, salted yellow squash sauce. The infiltrater here is the squash, obviously.

I am going to post the recipe with my adaptations marked with an asterisk. Some notes first:
1. I added a few spices, obviously.
2. I didn't have whole wheat pasta so I opted for Barilla enriched pasta so I can feel like I am eating more healthily as I gorge on those ill reputed carbs.
3. I usually use smart balance. But, I only had butter to use.
4. She calls for only 2 Tbsp. of cheese. But I upped it a bit for my son's tastebuds.

On to the recipe:

8 oz. barilla enriched penne*
1/2 c. yellow squash puree
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tbsp. butter*
1/2 c. parmesan*
A couple of pinches of of rosemary infused salt*
Freshly ground black pepper*
Pinch of dried tarragon*
Pinch of garlic powder*

I popped the pasta into the pot. Then I put all the other ingredients (only half of the parmesan) into a small saucepan and whisked it together and set it to simmer. Once the pasta was finished I poured the pasta into the saucepan, mixed it up, and added the rest of the cheese.

I'd say it took less than 20 minutes to make this, if that. However long it takes for pasta boil is how long you have until it is done.

Now, my assessment of this recipe? VERY tasty. The squash gives the sauce an amazing flavor, just wonderful! I recommend this recipe wholeheartedly. Jack ate three kid sized bowls of it and I ate rest. I couldn't help it!

My Affordable Nutrition Philosphy

Lately I have been combining four different eating philosophies when it comes to my food prep.

The first is derived from Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". The premise here is that if you eat what is locally in season, you are giving your body and the environment good mojo. Additionally, the items you are eating taste wonderful, and better than migratory food.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.)

The second is from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "Eat For Health" compilation. My main interest in his findings is the scale he discusses which rates food on it's nutrient to calorie ratio. That means that food like donuts rate low b/c the nutrients are low and the calories are high. And foods like kale, bok choy, swiss chard and cocoa are high because they are rich in "micronutrients" like minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals and they are incredibly low in macronutrients such as fat, protein and carbohydrates. Find me one person who has porked out on kale.

Eat For Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2 book set)

The third philosophy that appeals to me is that of the Green Smoothie concept that is championed by Robyn Openshaw. This idea is that if you take those less than tasty greens and blend them up in a crazy ass blender with tasty healthy things you are getting more healthy food. As evidenced by this blog, I have been playing around with this for a while. In addition, Openshaw proposes that by breaking those greens down you can absorb more of the nutrients.

Green Smoothies Diet: The Natural Program for Extraordinary Health

The fourth idea is new to me. This is from Jessica Seinfeld and her book "Deceptively Delicious" which was gifted to me from a friend of my sister. The idea here is that if you puree veggies and fruits, you can hide them in regular kid friendly foods and fool your kids into eating more healthy foods.

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

So... that being said. Here is the hybrid spawn that I have birthed from all my nutritional mating. I like to take local, recently harvested (Kingsolver) high nutrient produce (Fuhrman) and puree (Seinfeld) them and hide them in foods and smoothies (Openshaw).

So, to be more specific, now that I have placed credit where it is due, I will describe to you what I mean. I am growing my own garden right now, joined a CSA and I frequent my local farmer's stand. I search for items at the stand that are on sale b/c they are on the verge of going bad. Then I bring those items home and either freeze them, or puree them and freeze them. Now, if I can use them fresh I will. But, since fruit and veggies have a habit of going bad even when they are bought newly ripe, I like to freeze them. I use as much as I can prior to freezing, and then am happy knowing that nothing went to waste!

Another idea I have stumbled upon is using greens that have been pureed, poured into ice cube trays and then frozen. If I take this green puree and throw it into my blendtec blender I know that I am getting great nutrition without stressing that my bag of spinach will go bad before I can use it. I also know that I am getting a great deal financially.

Here's the thing. Let's say you buy a bag of spinach for three bucks. Then you end up using about 75% of it before it gets slimy and has that smell. You know the smell. So you wasted only .25. But, since you only used 75% of the bag, you probably got about five or six smoothies out of that bag. That is if you are using about 1/2 cup of spinach per smoothie. Those 3.00 bags hold about four cups of spinach (I am guessing). And if 1-1/2 cups of it went bad, you probably only got a weeks worth of smoothies out of your 3.00. So monthly you'd be spending around 12.00 on spinach for your morning smoothies.

Well, what if instead, you went to a farmer's market and bought the huge ass bag of spinach that is only 2.00. Then you take it home, wash it yourself (how novel), and then puree it and freeze it. After adding a smidge of water you have probably 30 ice cubes of spinach. I am sure that one per smoothie would do the trick, simply because when you puree it you are condensing those leaves. So you get around 30 smoothies out of 2.00. That means 2.00 a month instead of 12.00. See the logic? My math may not be perfect, but I am confident that the concept is dead on.

I bought a huge bag of swiss chard the other day. What does anyone do with a huge bag of swiss chard??? I gave half to a friend and then took the other half (still a large amount) and pureed it in my blendtec. The bag was 1.50. Above is a pic of how much I got out of it. That is a very large bowl of green sludgy nutrition folks. How many ice cubes do you think that would make?? That bowl cost me 75 cents.

Realistically, unless we are using green smoothies to bathe an army, we can't use the amount of greens we get when we buy them at the best price. I bet there really is a place that uses pureed greens for expensive spa baths... hmm....

Anyway, above are two pics of items I pureed last night: the .75 worth of swiss chard, beets, avocados, carrots and yellow squash.

I also went on to do some bok choy that I will sneak sparingly into smoothies for my kid.

So, if you are looking for affordable ways to add nutrition to your lives, here you go. I know, it all takes time. But let's be realistic, everything in this life costs either time or money. You choose.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Side Notes on Nutrition

Here are a couple of ideas for increasing the nutrition in your life.

1. Join a CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically it is a contract between you and a local farm/farmer. You commit to buying regularly throughout the season, usually by slapping down a one time fee, and the farm/farmer commits to giving you freshly picked produce as it comes into season.

Not only does this setup support your local farmers, but it teaches you and your family when produce comes into season. AND, it teaches the value of eating in season. EVERYTHING tastes better when eaten in season. Otherwise, the produce you eat is trucked to you. Therefore, it is harvested prior to being ripe so that it can ripen en route to you. You might get a tomato in January, but is it a really a tomato? Just ask Barbara Kingsolver if you really want to know. Her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" touts the value of eating local, and in season.

2. Buy fruits in season and freeze them. I dare you to find a single frozen bagged strawberry that has the color of these local, in season, strawberries I bought from my local farmer. The price was cut because they were so ripe. And a word of advice, you might think that the goopy looking ones shouldn't make the cut... but those are the BEST ones! They have the most flavor, and while the texture is not so great, it doesn't matter because you are freezing them.

3. Grow a garden. After joining a local CSA I looked down their harvest schedule and then planted my own garden full of the items they do not provide. Not only am I ensuring that my food is organically grown, but putting my hands in the soil regularly keeps me much more grounded and thankful for the food I eat. Oh, and also once you put in your initial money for the garden you are done. The produce then comes to you and you can take the vegetable allotment out of your grocery budget.

Cantaloupe Strawberry "Green" Smoothie

This one isn't the most wonderful smoothie I have concocted, but it warrants mentioning. I bought a migratory cantaloupe from my local farmer's stand. My word of advice is to make sure that the cantaloupe is very ripe, almost too ripe. That will ensure that the melon doesn't present with too much of an earthy taste in the smoothie.

If you are interested in using the most fresh and tasty local cantaloupe you may have to wait until later in the season. Here is a great site to reference if you are a locavore. It gives you an idea of when to expect fruits and veggies to truly be in season.


My goal is to stock up this fall on as much fresh, ripe, local cantaloupe as possible by freezing it as I did last night. Except the melons I get at that point will be much more tasty. Then I will have access to it for smoothies throughout it's off season.

Here are some facts about this musk melon.

"Cantaloupe is one of the most common fruits but its full health benefits may not have been fully understood, and often taken for granted. It is extremely nutrient-packed but yet has very low calories.

This wonder fruit is highly concentrated with excellent levels of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber. It is also one of the very few fruits that has a high level of vitamin B complex¾B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine).

Cantaloupe is rich in anti-oxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart diseases."


So, on to the recipe:

1/2 c. plain yogurt

1/2. c. skim milk

1/3 c. shredded carrot

1 tsp. agave nectar

1 c. frozen or fresh cantaloupe

1/2 c. spinach

1/2 c. ice

1 c. apple juice

1 c. frozen strawberries

Shot of vanilla Extract


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I adapted this recipe from a Bon Appetite article from the June 2010 issue on page 78.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Rosemary-Orange Dressing

Chicken and Stuffing
1 cup pitted green olives
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Garlic Clove, peeled
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
1/2 C. bread crumbs (I use Italian flavored ones from a canister)*
3/4 C. Crumbled Feta Cheese*
Freshly Ground Black Pepper*
Rosemary Infused Sea Salt*
6 Flattened Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I use a big ole ziploc and a copper pot)*

6 Tbsp. Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange peel
3/4 C. olive oil
1/2 C. chopped green olives

Set your oven to 400 degrees.*

Mix all the ingredients except the salt, pepper and chicken in a bowl to make stuffing.

Mix up the dressing in another bowl with all the listed ingredients.

Lay out the chicken.
Stuff all the stuffing in the breasts.*
Fold them over.
Put them in a pan rubbed with olive oil.

Separate the dressing into two bowls, put one in the fridge.

Use the other bowl and brush it onto the chicken.

Season chicken with rosemary salt and pepper. Be sparing with the salt because the olives are salty on their own.

Pop it in the oven.

Bake until chicken breast is 160 degrees (I don't know how long that is, so be ready to do some babysitting).*

When it is finished in the oven serve with the dressing on the side, and some steamed carrots seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary.


* Elements I altered.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rainbow Smoothie!

You have to admit, this is one pretty smoothie. Look at that color. Here's the thing, that color should tell you how very nutritious this smoothie is! Now, click on the bar graph and chart above and you'll see the approximate values of this particular smoothie. It makes two servings at 166 calories per serving. 86% of the calories are from carbs, 4% are from fat, and 10% are from protein.

"The more reds, oranges, greens, yellows, and blues you see on the plate, the more health promoting properties you are also getting from your vegetable and fruit choices. Nutrition research shows that colorful vegetables and fruit contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that your body needs to promote health and help you feel great."


So here is today's recipe. This one is for the more adventurous smoothie maker. However, it is rather tasty and I was able to get this two year old to suck this down. I will tell you that if you hate beets, you will not like this smoothie. You can taste the essence of beets. I LOVE beets. So, this smoothie works really well for me, and Jack too apparently!

Rainbow Smoothie

2 Tbsp. shredded raw beets
2 Tbsp. shredded raw carrots
3 Large Spinach Leaves
1/4 C. Skim Milk (replace with soy milk or rice milk to veganize)
1/4 C. unsweetened apple juice
1/4 C. ice
1 frozen organic banana
1/4 C. frozen wild blueberries
1/4 C. filtered water
Shot of agave
Shot of vanilla

Look at all the colors my kid drank!
Yellow: Banana
Blue: Blueberries
Purple: Beets
Green: Spinach
Red: Apple Juice

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Clams, Spaghetti, Roma Tomatoes... HEAVEN

Yes, it is not a smoothie recipe! Surprise.

This recipe is a Mark Bittman adaptation.

How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Here are the components:
4 Roma Tomatoes (chopped, seeded and if you are really good, skinned)
1/2 lb. Good Spaghetti (I like Barilla Enriched)
Fresh Basil (chopped)
Fresh Tarragon (chopped)
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped)
Fresh Oregano (chopped)
Freshly Ground Pepper
Coarse Salt
2 Cans of Clams (for us lazy people) ----- you will use the juice
1 Cup Good Dry Wine (don't go sweet on this one, you'll regret it)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil (the good stuff)
1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic

Ok, here is the deal. I adapted this recipe for the laziness of us all.

Put your pasta in the water you have already been boiling in a big ole pot with a pinch of salt.

Just take the cans of clams and separate out the juice, set aside.

Put the clams in a pan with half the wine and let them simmer for a bit on medium heat. Take them out and put them back into their own juice.

Put the oil in another deep pan and warm it up on medium heat and then add your garlic.

Let your garlic get a little color, throw in the tomatoes. Simmer for a minute, throw in the rest of the wine, the basil, oregano, and tarragon, salt and pepper.

Once you feel like the flavors have melded well, put in your clams and as much of the clam juice you want depending on how saucy you want your pasta.

By then your pasta should be done, al dente of course.

Drain the pasta, throw it in the pan, add more pepper (if you are me). Take your temp down to medium/low heat.

Mix it up and let it simmer a bit.

Put the tastiness in a pretty bowl and throw your parsley on top. Enjoy a kick ass meal.

I recommend paring it with a nice simple salad with oil and vinegar.

Ok, this is already a long post. But, let me tell you how well this meal goes over. I made this and not only did my two year old scarf it up. But, my husband followed me with his plate to the stove when I went to load up the serving dish with seconds. No joke.

But most importantly. As the cook, I loved it.

Side note: I used this amazing Swedish Rosemary Salt to add an amazing depth to the taste. Thanks Hilary!