Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From Nightmare to Heaven


Trying to be a vegetarian after growing up with meat on my plate every night has proven to be a challenge.  Don't get me wrong I love researching foods that will give my family a balanced diet, and keep some variety going in the meals so the boys stay interested.  I have learned a great deal about how food can change our lives and our health. 

Daniel 1:3-16 

Daniel and his friends refuse to eat from the king's table which has meat on it, but eat vegetables instead.  After ten days they are found to be healthier than those who eat at the king's table.

Nightmares in my kitchen can pop up in a variety of ways.  Just like when you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat that is how it happens in my kitchen!  I can cook any kind of meat with my eyes closed but handling vegetable yikes!  Not to mention what we think should be standard kitchen items if you are a carnivore are definitely not the same if you do not eat meat.  This leads to I NEVER have what I need for my new recipes in my kitchen!

Shopping can be difficult, but I am learning what I can use multiple times and what needs to be fresh.  My current shopping horror is the lack of availability where we live.  I am sure this will change in a few months when we move though, so I am not giving up based on that.  Whole Foods here I come!  Today’s recipe for instance went from fresh spinach leaves to a frozen bag of brussel sprouts!  I am sure that substitution has you laughing to tears!  Don’t worry I do get the last laugh on this, because it was delicious!

We all know that multiple dreams occur during the course of one night’s sleep, so on to Nightmare in My Kitchen 2.  Almost reminds me of a bad horror movie sequel…. I can’t handle a knife!!!  How am I supposed to be a good faithful vegetarian if I can’t chop, dice, slice, and julienne??!!  I certainly can’t be the star of my own nightmare!  That is where my husband comes in to the scene.  He is great in the kitchen, but alas does he really enjoy it?  Let’s see; teach Lisa how to do it, or just save us all the grief and do it myself?  CUT THE VEGETABLES STEVEN!!


Nope!  He was determined to teach me how to separate the poor sprouts while my beautiful onions and sun-dried tomatoes were burning in the pan instead of sautéing.  CUT THE VEGETABLES STEVEN!!  Maybe that should be my new catch-phrase!

Here is tonight’s delight enjoy!  I have to acknowledge that I took this recipe from Vegetarian Times http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/natale-stuffed-portobellos/

But of course I had to revise!

Natale Stuffed Portobello (Revised!)

Mushrooms

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

4 large Portobello mushroom caps (Used 6 medium)



Filling

2 Tbs. breadcrumbs (used panko crumbs)

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup chopped onion

8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

2 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

½ cup soy milk

10 oz. fresh spinach leaves (8 cups)  (used 14oz bag of frozen brussel sprouts)

¼ cup grated Asiago cheese (Used a bag of blended Italian cheeses)

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped (Used a bag of blended Italian cheeses)

Followed Step one for mushrooms as mentioned in recipe.  The filling I had to go with God’s Grace!

1. To make Mushrooms: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic in bowl. Brush mushroom caps with oil mixture, and place on baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.

2. To make Filling:  Cook sprouts in covered dish in microwave for 8 minutes with 2 Tbs of water.  Remove and cut off ends loosening leaves.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in cream, and cook 2 minutes. Add sprouts, and cheese cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.  Spoon Filling into mushroom caps, serve.

Proverbs 15:17

New International Version (NIV)
Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spending Less and Feeling full!


I forgot how much less I spent at the grocery store when we stopped eating meat and processed foods.  Thank goodness we are back on track with our healthy lifestyle and of course a healthy budget :)  Not to mention we all seem to have more energy, and are in much better moods.  We still find ourselves at a crossroads when it comes to the types of dishes and recipes, but that is okay.  I understand even in the world of vegetables people have different tastes.
The myth that it is too expensive to eat healthy is just that: a myth.  If you stop buying all the processed food like chips, hamburger helper, frozen meals, cookies, etc. and the meat and dairy products then add in the fresh fruits and vegetables you will save so much money.  How can that be you ask?  A large bag of chips is $1.99 but a large bag of apples is $4.00, so there is no way eating healthier is cheaper.  All I can say is just try it!
It is fact that whole foods are much more filling than processed foods.  So if you eat a large bag of chips to get full, and all I eat is one apple how many bags of chips will you need to buy to equal my bag of approximately 12 apples?  Exactly!  I have saved money just on this one item!  Imagine how much you will save on a cart full of groceries! But, how on earth can eating one apple fill you up?  Just try it!  There are no words for me to say that will prove it...  eat an apple,  a bag of carrots, or even celery then wait 10-15 minutes and see if you are still hungry. You are going to find when you eat real earth foods you will eat less not because you don’t like it, but simply because you are full!  Can you imagine how much you will save on your bill each trip?!
And….. for those of you who do the shopping it is so much easier!  You really only have to go to one section of the store and you are done!

So here is the meal for Day 2.  I am again pulling from my new cookbook Veganomicon which I have found to be very educational.  It was a hit with the adults, but no bueno for the hijos.  This dish has a spicy flair to it and can be served over, grits, polenta, or even pasta.  I have seen some blogs where they did not serve it over anything but with a side of greens.  The flavors and aroma were outstanding in my opinion.  We will definitely make this again, but I think I will add more garlic next!   I think the kids had a hard time with the grits, and maybe the size of the vegetables.  I think if I diced the onions there may have not been so much resistance!  Don’t be afraid of the time; most of this is the eggplant in the oven.

Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas

Serves 6

Time : 1 hour and 10 minutes


Ingredients

* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 2 large eggplants ( 3 pounds )

* 1 bulb garlic

* 2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed

* 1 white onion, sliced into thin half moons

* 3 cloves garlic, minced

* 1/2 cup white wine or veggie broth

* 2 tsp dried tarragon

* 1 tsp dried thyme

* 1 tsp ground coriander

* 1/2 tsp paprika

* 1 tsp salt

* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

* 2 bay leaves

* 1 ( 28 ounce ) can whole peeled tomatoes

* 1 ( 15 ounce ) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas


Directions

1. Arrange two oven racks so that one is in the upper third and the other is in the lower third. You're probably not going to be able to fit both of your pans on one rack. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Quarter the eggplant lengthwise and slice across into 3/4 inch slices.

2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with baking parchment and brush the parchment with the olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheets and brush or spray the tops with olive oil. Leave a little room on one pan for the peppers. Brush the outsides of the peppers with olive oil and place them, cut side down, on the pan. (The parchment is not necessary for the cooking process.  It is only a step you can take if you do not like ugly pans! )

Remove the papery skins from the garlic bulb (as much skin as will come off easily). Place the garlic on one of the pans as well. Place the pans in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.

3. Remove the pans from the oven. Place the red pepper in a paper or plastic bag and close up the bag (so that the pepper skins steam off). Flip the eggplant pieces and brush a little oil on any pieces that look dry (they should be fairly browned, albeit unevenly).

4. Return the eggplant to the oven for an additional 15 minutes and remove the garlic, setting it aside to cool. The garlic should have been in for 40 minutes, but if you did the eggplant flipping with lighting speed, give the garlic a few more minutes to bake.

5. On the stove top, preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions in 1 Tb of olive oil for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. The eggplant should be ready while the onion is browning, so remove the eggplant from the oven and set it aside (if you are running out of counter space, use tongs to transfer the eggplant to a bowl).

6. Add the garlic to the onions and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the white wine and herbs and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tearing up each tomato with your hands before adding to the pot, and add the remaining tomato juice from the can.

Add the eggplant to the pot and mix well. Don't be afraid of crushing the eggplant; in fact it's good if it gets a little crushed.

7. Remove the peppers from the bag and peel away the skin. If for some reason the skin won't peel, don't sweat it. Chop the peppers into bite-size pieces and add to the soup pot along with the chickpeas. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. To prepare the garlic, wet your hands (to avoid sticking) and squeeze each roasted garlic clove into the soup pot. Mix well, turn off the heat, and let the stew sit for as long as you can stand to let the flavors to develop!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chicken For Dinner Again??!!!


So, most of you know our family crossed over to the green side back in October in an effort to live our lives healthier.  This concept of eliminating meat products from our diet came from bad genes, bad eating habits, and a great deal of research!  The movie http://www.forksoverknives.com/   really sealed the deal for us.  It helped us realize that we can become vegetarians!

We jumped in the deep end with both feet and low and behold we treaded water the first couple of weeks.  Keeping a journal of medical data as well as the recipes and ingredients we used.  After one month the results were significant.  Medically wow!  Weight loss 20 lbs, cholesterol drop of more than 30 points, blood pressure lower; what more could a person ask for in such a life changing event!

I also learned that food boredom happens no matter what you eat....  All those nights we would stand in the kitchen and say chicken again.....  Well the same thing happens when you eat vegetables!  We found ourselves saying eggplant again?!!!!  Unfortunately this happened at the most inconvenient time of the year; during the holidays of course!  This made it so easy to give up on what was obviously good for us.  I didn’t fight the urge to eat something different; after all meat hadn’t killed me yet.  I now found us caught in a bear trap with no way out.  Where’s the beef?!!

Here I am 5 months later, having gained back my weight and then some, scared to go to the doctor, and really feeling like crap.  I woke up Sunday with an overload of information and an intervention from God that I never expected.  I knew that come Monday I would be a Vege Girl again!  So here we go, a new version of an old journey.  Can I do it?  Absolutely!  I prepared myself with a bigger variety and larger pool of resources for vegetarian recipes.  One of my newest finds is Veganomican by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. 

I am adding day one here with family comments! Get ready for your pallet to explode with this crazy dish with pineapple!  Besides it being good for you there is only one pan to clean!  The boys and I loved it!  After the first bite of pineapple shocks you take a deep breath and savor all the other flavors that envelope the deep sweetness.  The Head Chef just couldn’t handle the sweet, but I wish he would have given it a chance.

Keep in mind I did not use Mirin (plus I have no idea what this is!) that was not available or the lime wedges, otherwise I followed this recipe exactly as listed.

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir-fry

 (Veganomicon)

 Ingredients:

 Quinoa:

 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained

1 cup pineapple juice

 1 cup cold water

 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce



Stir-fry:

 4 ounces cashews, raw and unsalted

 3 tablespoons peanut oil

 2 scallions, sliced thinly

 1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds

 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

 1 cup frozen green peas

 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced in thin shreds

 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

 10 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks

 3 tablespoons soy sauce

 3 tablespoons vegetable stock

 1 tablespoon mirin

 Lime wedges for garnish

Monday, May 21, 2012

Second Chances



Being my first time blogging, and the fact that I find technology leaving me behind I have found this to be very taxing on the brain cells.  I guess that is a good thing; this may be a way to prevent dementia from setting in!  I am hoping that all my younger blogger friends send me tips and helpful hints along the way.


I have spent the last two years in a whirlwind of personal turmoil, and as a spectator watched many friends’ battle demons of their own.  I have learned many lessons along this journey, and do not regret it for one second.  The most important lesson I have learned is that people do not always have the same values, opinions, or priorities as I.  I also learned that there will always be people who have different opinions, could care less, and still feel the need to judge, slander, and just be downright hurtful.  This is all the while claiming their virtuousness in this unchristian like behavior.  This saddened me a great deal, but again it is not my battle to fight.  I know the Lord is my Guardian, and will protect me from all evil.


2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

After spending the last several months on a personal journey of physical and mental healing, I know I am ready to move on into a new chapter of my life where happiness is abundant.  This may draw me away physically from people I care most deeply about, but I also know this will also draw us much closer together.

Psalm 109:4 and 109:5 speaks volumes in regard to the number of false friendships we will encounter in a lifetime, but only one true friend Jesus Christ will never forsake you.  The bible teaches us many lessons on love and friendship, but do we truly listen?  Do we hear what is being asked of us?

I am truly blessed to have met wonderful, endearing people over the years who I can undeniably call a friend.  They love me unconditionally, as I love them.  We do not judge, blame, or accuse.  We accept.

I bid my final goodbye to the victim, and bow to the return of the warrior within.

“The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength.” 1 Samuel 2:4



Have a Blessed Day!