Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Sardine Sandwich and a Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

When it comes to wild-caught fish that sport those ever so famous fats that support brain, eye, and cardiovascular health, yes...they really could be the kings of fat when it comes to us humans...DHA and EPA as we have named them, sardines don't usually make the list of entree worthy fishies.  That's right, we usually think of sardines as the poor little guys who give their precious fat up to a little gelatin capsules that we can swallow in order to reap the benefits of the fabulous fats without having to really "eat" anything at all.  Anyway....I love tuna salad, but the more briny fishiness of sardines combined with some fresh garlic and red onion, the juice of a lime, and a little olive oil I thought would make for a sandwich spread that would have so much flavor when paired with some crustily toasty bread that I had to make it a reality.  That's when I woke up in the middle of the canned meat aisle at the grocery in a puddle of my own drool and realized that it was almost time for dinner.  OK, so I got to the house and mixed up 8 sardine fillets with a small clove of garlic, a quarter of a red onion chopped finely, I squirted some lime juice up in the mix and added some Dijon mustard and black pepper.  For just a tad of sweetness and extra flavor I added several tablespoons of pineapple juice and mixed it all up and threw it in the fridge for the flavors to come together.  

So in the meantime, seeing that it is pretty much's time to take some stuff to the grill.  I decided to blog an awesome roasted corn and bean salad.  This is a really easy little something to make that provides a load of veggies and complimentary amino acids with corn and black beans contributing their proteins to the mix.  So, I grilled some corn, tomatoes, and green pepper first.

To complete the roasted corn and black bean salad, I trimmed the corn off of the cobs and I peeled the tomato and pepper skins away from the meat of them both.  I gave a rough chop to the pepper and tomatoes and threw all of this in a bowl with two cans of black beans.  I'm usually a big fan of soaking beans for 24 hours and then cooking them on the stove, but guess what....tonight I bought two cans from the grocery.

  I chopped the rest of that red onion from before, threw it in the mix, and then drizzled a little olive oil over that with the juice of a lime, some salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder and tossed it all up and called it done.  So, I got my sardine spread out and gave it a taste - craziness - salty and sweet with the hints of raw garlic and onion throughout but balanced by the pineapple that came through subtly.  I just needed two crunchy slices of bread and some lettuce and mater to bring this intriguing little sandwich to life.  I'm glad I did, and I hope my brain, eyes, and little arteries are glad too for getting them lots of little DHA and EPA to feast on.  By the way, I used Udi's gluten free whole grain bread. 

Don't think you can do sardines?  I'm willing to bet this would be good with canned tuna or salmon also.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Whoa, has it been too long to post about some potatoes?

So, it's been a long time and I didn't realize how much I missed the simple act of sitting here and writing about the most exciting part of our days...eating good food.  As I have looked back through this blog with time to reflect on how the ways my own eating habits have changed and cycled, I have watched as I have come full circle, squarely landing on whole foods with plants as the star center.  I think it's easy to over-think our diets today as our options for food have expanded way way way beyond what would be available to scavenge from the woods, and disease and the media have stretched our perceptions about how almost every food can kill us and how every food can heal us...the dilemma is bigger now than ever.  Stress takes over our lives and we forget how to enjoy the very wonderful and powerful pleasure of gently preparing whole ingredients in to a sensual experience that nourishes our bodies and minds and keeps us healthy for what may come...which is life, but in these times we are consuming foods that prepare us less and are we living lives that demand more.  OK, so enough of the little black letters that depending on what mood you're in might make sense or might sound like a bunch of rubbish...I am sorry to those who enjoy reading my posts since it has been so long, but that little thing called LIFE has really been taking a toll on me lately but I am proud to say that even though it's about 8 years late, I have graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor's degree in Food Science with a focus in dietetics...woohoo!!!  I have missed this blog and I regret not committing more time to keeping it fresh, so for that I will expand my horizons while always keeping it simple from now on.  I encourage anyone reading these posts to share with me your own experiences so that we can all learn about eating, living, gardening, and feeling well.  I'll kick it off with a fast and fresh recipe that is straight from the garden...Herb Roasted Taters with Oregano, Purple Basil, and Dill.
Alright, this happens to be my favorite way to eat potatoes.  I should have some red potatoes to harvest out in the garden, but I used some that I had in the kitchen this time.  However, my red basil, oregano, and dill are straight from the garden, and if I had a few goats or a dairy cow I might have made the yogurt too, but the Greek yogurt on the side here came from Trader Joe's and I'm pretty sure it is better than any yogurt I could make.
So, for these taters, all you need is a sprig or two of fresh can pick whatever you like...chop them up fine, quarter about 6-8 small red potatoes, chop a glove of garlic, throw it all in a bowl with 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a couple pinches of salt and toss it all together until the herbs coat the potatoes.

  Throw them in a 400 degree preheated oven, skin side down until you can stick a toothpick through the taters with no effort.  Serve 'em up with a nice side of Greek yogurt for dipping and you have yourself a little pre-dinner pleaser that rocks!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh come on...y'all know how much I like to make soup...I try to limit soup posts...ok no I don't

At least this one is pretty darn unique.  We will call it the eye opener due to the fact that you may be able to cure night blindness just by eating one bowl...not really...probably two bowls though.  This is a slightly sweet but a little spicy (not in a hot way, but a tasty way) sweet potato and roasted butternut squash concoction with some beans, and to max it out in the end, just add a pat (or 6...I mean 2) of butter to your bowl and you can just feel those carotenes splittin' on up in to those retinols and being sucked right through your small intestinal the whole point here is that this soup has a few sources of vitamin A...I really hope you got that because....anyway, on to the soup.  For this spectacular soup you will need:
One medium or large sweet potato cubed - leave the skin on or you're not cool
One medium butternut squash halved
2 medium yellow onions chopped or stringy however you like
5 cloves of garlic with medium chop
1 package of frozen lima beans
1 cup red lentils (oooooweeee yummy)
3 cups veggie stock
8 cups water
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
If you are like me - a little bit of grass fed butter for your personal bowl (totally optional)
First thing...preheat the oven to about 375-400.  Throw those onions in a hot stock pot with about 3-4 tbsp olive oil and toss a pinch of salt over them.  Give them a little toss around and then throw that cumin over them and stir it up to let that cumin get nice and toasty.   As the onions start to get clear and soft, throw those cubed sweet potatoes in there and be careful not to drool in to the pot while you are smelling the nice toasty cumin.  Throw a little pepper in and toss the garlic in also.  Stir it all around a little bit, just enough to let the garlic get fragrant and then pour in the veggie stock and let that deglaze all of the good sticky cumin and onion residue off the bottom of the pot.  While that returns to heat, place the squash halves skin side down on a pan and throw them in the oven and leave them alone for about 45 minutes.   Let the mixture in the pot return to heat and then dump the frozen lima beans all up in the mix.  Toss a couple of pinches of salt in there, let it return to heat and then add all that water.  Get the whole mix up to boil and then smack a lid on it, turn down the heat and let it simmer while the squash gets soft in the oven.  After the squash is soft, take it out and scrape all of that soft orange flesh out in to a bowl and then add it all to the pot and stir it all up.  For the last step, about 20-25 minutes before you want to eat it or store it, throw in the lentils while it is still simmering.  They don't take long to cook and are done when they are yellow instead of orange.  All done - you may want to salt to taste, or add a little cayenne to your bowl for some extra kick, just be sure to taste along the way and make sure you let the lima beans and sweet taters get cooked all the way through and you are golden....or more of an orange color in this case.  See better tonight!

Gluten free as always

Fruit...veggies....protein...millet and flax......oh yeah and chocolate baby!! Today's lunch!!

A long day at school going to class, studying for tests, working on projects and waiting around for this semester's first community gardening meeting calls for one thing....the Bento Box.  That's's a today's lunch post.  I just have to be extremely careful because I am on Clemson campus with a box that has almonds and peanuts in it...very dangerous situation here at Clemson due to the squirrel intelligence agency.  These nuts will have to be contained behind closed doors today. for lunch today we have a New Zealand grass fed sharp cheddar cheese sandwich on toasted millet and flax bread with some nice baby greens and some cracked peppercorns - which is some kind of speak for what we call pepper where I come from, but the sandwich sounds so much more "bistro" when I say cracked peppercorns, but let's face it...ain't nothin' bistro about this sandwich that was tossed together in about 2.634 minutes this morning while I tried to keep my dog from eating the over easy egg I had just made for breakfast.  In addition to the cracked peppercorn and cheese sandwich, we have a delightful carrot, dried figs, roasted peanuts, some raw almonds, and if you look very closely through the dark shadows of the snug little compartments of my lovely little lunch labyrinth you might just spy a small piece of chocolate lying in wait to melt in my mouth and deliver all of its yummy, bitter, 85% cocoa, short and medium chain fatty acids in to my bloodstream.  While you think that was a dramatic and ridiculous....borderline insane way of describing the smallest item in my box, think again and look it up.  There is a lot we don't know about fat....and then there is much we do know.  Try to love yourself more today and put some things in your body (through your mouth of course) that your body might just thank you for in ways that make your brain say nice things to you.  

Gluten free as always

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Staple

Here is a must have side for your arsenal of quick and tasties that can go along with pretty much anything.  I was in the grocery trying to pick up a few things to cook Sunday night dinner at my parents' and I noticed how nice and yellow the winter squash were so I picked one up.  The bulk portobella mushrooms looked darn good too so I grabbed a couple of those and I was off.  If you don't have an onion, garlic, a block of parmesan, a little olive oil and some butter lying around the house then you may want to grab those staple items also.  This side dish is quick and easy, but so good that if you're not cooking for four, you'll be dreaming all night about how you get to eat it again for lunch the next day (or maybe even breakfast).  Spaghetti squash is so called because after you cook it up, you can scrape the flesh out with a fork and it comes out in strands that are so similar to spaghetti noodles it is quite scary - it's like a little spaghetti noodle making machine.  If you're being carbohydrate conscious, or just trying to eat more veggies as we all probably should, then the spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta - you can even save the seeds and roast them up for a snack later.  For the spaghetti squash and mushroom side dish you will need:
1 heavy, yellow spaghetti squash (they're the oblong, round, yellow ones)
2 large portobella mushroom caps sliced
1 medium yellow onion chopped
3 large cloves garlic chopped fine or minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter (optional)
Salt and pepper
Get a pot of water (big enough to hold the squash) boiling.  You can throw in a generous portion of salt so that while the squash is cooking it takes up a little of that salty flavor.  Cut the squash in half longways - be careful cause these things don't just cut in two like a summer squash.  Lay the two halves in the boiling water and let them boil while you get over to the rest of the ingredients.  In a large skillet, heat up about 4 tbsp olive oil.  Don't do like I did and stick your finger in the oil to see if it is hot because that will burn your finger and it will hurt - it's hot when it just starts to give off a little smoke.  Throw your chopped onions in now and throw a small little pinch of salt on 'em.  As the onions are getting soft, you can slice up your mushrooms and check on your squash or if you're like me you can cut off a little pat of butter and eat it while no one is really looking.  Seriously though, make sure your mushrooms and garlic are ready before the onions start to get that nice little brown coloration - and when the onions are soft and slightly browned, throw the mushrooms in the skillet toss a half pinch of salt over 'em and let them get soft.  I always see on tv where they never wash the mushrooms or salt them because supposedly it changes the texture and all this mess, so if I am cooking them, I don't wash them - just thought I would throw that out there, but I did give them that little pinch of salt.  After the 'shrooms get dark and soft, toss in the garlic and give everyone a little stir around - if it's dry in there you can add a little more oil.  At this point, the squash should be done.  It will be soft to the prick of a fork.  Take the halves out and rake the flesh with a fork and watch the magic.  Dump all of the "spaghetti" in to the skillet with the 'shrooms and onions and garlic and mix it all up.  This is where I add the butter - if you're trying to avoid saturated fat or you don't like butter for some horrible reason then you can just add a little more oil or just don't add anything.  Grate a little Parmesan on top of the whole mess and you've got a side that might just take over the whole meal and decide that it is not a side anymore and that it is not going to take any abuse from anybody and it will now name itself the star of the yeah, it's pretty good.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  By the way, a piece of baked wild salmon and a nice green salad goes really well with this one.  Enjoy!!

As Always, Gluten Free

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Stews

Yeah, I know it's not Winter - I like stews throughout the year because for me, throwing several really good ingredients in to a pot, stirring it all up and simmering it down is magic.  The smells that waft through the kitchen are amazing and watching the bubbling little concoctions evolve in to something that is so much more than the sum of its parts is where it's at.  One last thing is that I can always throw some in the canner and have some rockin' stuff to eat when it is Winter again.  First one is kind of like a thin oyster chowder som'n erother.  
How ever many live oysters you feel like shuckin' - I used 12 and wished I'd had a lot more cause they were small - you could use canned oysters
1 cup raw milk
2 cups water
1 cup fresh okra (or frozen) chopped
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 medium red potatoes cubed
Cayenne pepper
About 10 shrimp frozen thawed or fresh peeled and deveined
Off the cob fresh corn - about 2 ears or half a can 
4 stalks celery chopped to suit your own liking
OK, this is enough stuff to make a small pot of stew enough for two people to eat on for a couple of meals.  Get a stock pot and put your milk, water, potatoes, onion, okra, corn, and celery in and get the heat going medium to high.  While this is heatin' up chop your oysters and shrimp or leave 'em whole - whatever.  As the mixture comes to a low boil give it a stir and turn it down to simmer.  While it's simmering season it with a little salt and cayenne if you like - take some time to maybe try out some other spices. I kept this one simple.  Give the stew some time to simmer down and lose some of that water, stirring often.  When the potatoes are soft and you've got a really low simmer goin' on, throw those oysters and shrimp in until the shrimp turn pink and you've got stew number one - let it simmer for an hour or so and you've got super stew number one - put it in a glass container and in the fridge for a day and you've got the ultimate stew number one - I am so corny it is painful - let's move on to stew two after a nice pic of the first.

I won't say that this one is way different than the first one as far as ingredients go anyway, but the taste is way different.  This second stew is a sort of real comforting and thick type of stew with a critical last step big event that I'll keep you on the edge of your seat for the rest of this post and you'll be biting your fingernails and...OK that was stupid, the last step is just to add about 2 tbsp butter and stir it in to the simmering pot which just sets this stuff up and gives it some sort of special powers I think...anyway...
10 shrimp frozen thawed or fresh peeled and deveined
1/4 cup dry white Basmati rice
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 small to medium red potatoes cubed or diced
2 medium carrots diced
1/2 yellow or white onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
3-4 cups mixed baby greens or spinach whole (fresh)
2.5 cups water
2 tbsp butter 
Throw in the rice, taters, carrots, onion, celery, greens, garlic, and water in a small stock pot, give it all a good stir, throw on the lid and get the heat going medium to high.  Remember, there is rice in there so get it on up to boil.  While that is gettin' up to temp make sure your shrimp are prepped and ready, and have 2 tbsp butter on hand gettin' soft on the table top, but make sure that no one...or no dog sneaks by and grabs the fresh butter off the counter and swallows it down because I myself have been known to devour straight up butter and 2 tbsp ain't nothin'.  Some people tell me their dogs eat butter but I wouldn't know anything about that....OK, so when the stuff gets up to boil turn it down to low, get it all mixed up, season it with a little salt - maybe some oregano which I did and found it was a very nice addition, and put the lid back on and leave it alone for a little while.  Once the rice gets finished and the taters are soft, lay the shrimp in and put the lid back on.  When the shrimp are pink, you can pinch them and if they don't wake up then they are that's another thing - if you pinch them and they are slightly firm but not rubbery then they're perfect and now for the BIG EVENT!!!  Put the butter in and stir until it is all melted throughout - make sure you have enough salt and there you have stew 2!!

The Basmati rice sort of disintegrates in to little pearls on this one which gives the whole thing a really cool texture, and who can resist the taste of Basmati rice and shrimp anyway?  Not me. Please check out my facebook albums for current pics of the garden - there is a lot going on this Summer and Fall and hopefully I can get some good recipes going that include everything I grow. Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free

Sunday, February 13, 2011

5 Star Veggie Tacos

No no no, don't get confused - this ain't no tofu taco recipe where I tell you to go out and buy some firm little square pieces of fermented soybeans so you can slap it on a corn shell and call it a taco.  No way.  This recipe actually stems from a breakfast that Mandy and I currently enjoy of quinoa, millet, and amaranth grains done up just like grits or oatmeal...but so much better, but there's more...these three grains are three of the only ones consistently listed as alkalizing on many of the "alkalizing foods" lists that you can find in books, on the internet, wherever you can find acid/alkaline balance information on foods.  Yeah, I told you that I was on an alkalizing kick, and now I will be for life...not because of all of the breathtaking evidence for it, but for the way I feel - I've never been better.  I didn't tell you that I have started letting my former enemy (grains) slip back up and make their way back in to my digestive tract.  Well, in this case, we had a little talk over breakfast one morning, and while I was telling them how disgusted I was with the sorry excuse for food that they were, the quinoa, millet, and amaranth leapt out of the cabinet and just so happened to fall in to my mouth - along with a little bit of butter...and some salt...OK OK, I shouldn't have to make excuses - so if you're going to get some whole grains in your diet, here are two excellent and perfectly tasty ways to do it.  It all started with breakfast when Mandy noticed the unique texture of the quinoa.  That is when she said "You know what?  This stuff would make awesome tacos if you seasoned it up like chili!"  That was that, and after tonight - I don't think we ever have to worry about not having a freakin' awesome taco again - here they are. (Look, don't give me a hard time about the corn - everyone deserves a real taco every now and then...or maybe once a week or so.)

For the tacos you will need:
Organic taco shells (Trader Joe's - be sure they are corn only)
1/3 cup whole quinoa
1/3 cup whole amaranth
1/3 cup whole millet
1.5 cups veggie broth
1.5 cups water
1 white onion chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped fine
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave it out if you don't like the kick)
Iceberg lettuce (Mandy said so)
Sour cream
1 can diced tomatos
2 tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cilantro fresh (dried parsley works too)
And the usual extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt

Alright, sorry...I didn't realize that the list was so long - stay with me cause it's so worth it.  You can do this part way ahead of time, it's just the salsa.  It's tough to find a salsa made with apple cider vinegar (let alone raw unfiltered), so I just improvised my own that turned out pretty good.  Just saute half of your white onion with about 2 cloves garlic until soft, pour the tomatoes over that and add the apple cider vinegar and cilantro - let it get hot and bubbly and then take it off the heat and chill it in the fridge - that'll make a decent salsa for topping the tacos or with chips.  Now we can start on the "chili".  Start by sauteing the rest of the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Then add the veggie stock, water, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, a few good pinches of salt, and all the grains.  Stir it all up, bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it and turn it on low heat to simmer until the grains take up all of the liquid and spices - about 20-25 minutes.  While the chili is going, get your lettuce chopped up, get the taco shells toasty in the oven, and get a couple spoons out for sour cream and salsa.  When your chili is finished, slap some in a shell, put down a nice portion of sour cream on that, layer on the lettuce, and drizzle on the salsa.  What you have there is the best veggie taco can thank Mandy.

OK, so really quickly - if you like your whole grains in the morning, take that 1 cup mixture of whole grains from above and just do 2 cups water for 1 cup grains, bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it and turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  This makes an awesome replacement for corn grits or oatmeal.  Just stir in some butter and salt, maybe some milk, maybe some honey - hell, whatever you put in your grits and oatmeal.  It's organic unsalted butter and some sea salt for me...perfect.  Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free  (that's breakfast up there)