Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forget Lettuce Soup, I Like Pumpkin Soup!

I had a bunch of little pumpkins sitting around in my kitchen so I decided to roast them and make soup with them. I found a couple of recipes on the internet, and since my vegan daughter was visiting I merged the two recipes into one and came up with a very yummy vegan version. Basically, I took these two recipes: Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Soup from and Spicy Pumpkin Soup from Simply Recipes and combined them based on their seasonings and vegan-ness. I felt the Spicy Pumpkin Soup had more to offer in the seasoning realm and I sought to incorporate the vegan recipe into the non-vegan one. The end result was delicious!! Even my meat-and-potatoes husband loved it. The final recipe involved substituting one 14-ounce can of coconut milk for all of the milk and heavy cream listed in the spicy pumpkin soup recipe and of course substituting vegan margarine for butter as listed but staying with the seasonings. I have to say, it was "to die for." Oh, and I did use 6 cups of roasted pumpkin as opposed to the 3 cans of pumpkin puree which is the alternative. I think fresh pumpkin is definitely the way to go taste-wise. And it's not that hard to do if you have a nice, sharp knife.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinach is beautiful

Last night for dinner I made the eDiets version of beef stew, which means it had a few pieces of beef in it as well as a few chopped potatoes and a lot of carrots, mushrooms, onions, and vegetable broth. Not very tasty but it can be doctored. And doctor it I did. First, I decided to add a bag of spinach when it was ready to serve just long enough for the spinach to wilt. I also added a nice amount of freshly ground black pepper and some liberal dashes of Chipotle Tabasco sauce. It was excellent and not at all the high-fat and calorie-laden type of beef stew that we all love (we beef eaters, that is). The point of this is, spinach goes with everything and really added a lot to that otherwise lean version of beef stew. I think I will see what else I can add a bag of spinach to.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hey, where'd I go?

Well, it looks like I am posting about once a month these days. But it does seem true that when my mother is staying at my brother's house, I don't spend much time concocting and preparing new recipes. Now she's back at my house, and I am working in the kitchen again!
I found a recipe for Parsnip Fries, done in the oven, that I was eager to try. I like parsnips, they have their own unique taste. They are cousins or something along those lines to the carrot. So now I can identify them as looking like "white carrots." I used to get parsnips and turnips mixed up, maybe because I was never served parsnips or turnips as a child. At any rate, I just happened across a recipe for parsnip fries which when I read it I realized wasn't really a recipe at all, just common sense. Basically, you slice your parsnips into sticks, toss them with some olive oil and seasoning, and bake in the oven. The recipe I followed suggested 3 T. of olive oil with 2 pounds of parsnips, and I objected to that much olive oil. I only used 1 or 1-1/2 T. which I think was a mistake. I should have used more. They just didn't get browned enough on the outside. Plus, the recipe said to bake them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I had to bake them for 40-45 minutes; I think the oven should have been at 400 or 425 degrees. The parsnips just weren't soft enough on the inside. So a hotter over might be needed. The recipe said to use salt, pepper, and chili powder. I think it should be doctored a bit more because I couldn't really taste the chili powder; plus, the parsnips are so sweet that you need more savory-type seasoning but that should not be all salt. So I will try again with these few changes and possibly I will season the parsnips with some Adobo seasoning. One good sign: my husband liked them but felt they should have been more soft inside (again, the lack of a good, hot oven). So there is hope that in the future we will be trying parsnip fries again soon!
Now that I have bored you with tales of parsnip fries, I am off to look for more vegetable recipes, preferably soups. Lettuce soup to be exact. This is the start of soup season for me! Later!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Missing in action

I have been remiss of late, especially for much of the month of September. For some reason, having my mother at my house tends to make me lackadaisical these days about getting anything done when I am in the house with her. I feel like all feelings of productivity just fly right out the window when I come home from work, and the same is true on weekends. This is not a good thing since there is much to be done and much food to be prepared.
Preparing food is the one thing I cannot avoid since we have to eat our meals. I am still looking for creative ways of preparing vegetables since I feel that having a vegetable serving with dinner every night is extremely important. So, with that in mind, last night I tried a new way of preparing broccoli, which is one of my favorite veggies. Usually, I steam it and toss it with olive oil and lemon juice. That's an easy, no-fail method of preparing a lot of veggies. And it's pretty good, but after a while I feel like I need a change. So last night I decided to roast the broccoli. I looked at my little broccoli florets before I popped them in the oven, and they were crying out to me, "hey, we're lonely down here on this pan. Give us some action!" So I tossed in a few whole cherry tomatoes and combined all together with olive oil and sprinkled with the tiniest amount of coarse ground salt (which I mainly applied to the broccoli). It was a nice change, but next time I want to maybe drizzle the vegetables with a little balsamic vinegar when it comes out of the oven. Another idea to try is to substitute adobo seasoning for the salt. The upside of this new method is that my mother liked it too! And she didn't ask for more salt. Yay!
My husband very proudly informed me the other day that he has joined our local YMCA which means he is ready to start working out! I feel like this is a gigantic step in the right direction for him and I am so proud of him for doing this. The next step is for him to begin eating more carefully and making the right choices about his eating habits. I'm going to start working with him on that while my mother is off at my brother's house. She goes there today for a 2-week stay. Who knows, I may be able to get him to appreciate veggie bacon yet!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sweet potatoes - yes!!

I have a great recipe to share that involves sweet potatoes - big surprise, right? My 83-year-old mother is staying with me and we are starting our 3rd week together tomorrow. Ohmigosh!! Two weeks is okay, but 3 weeks? Help! Nevertheless, my husband went off to visit his dad, so I decided that we could have fish for dinner tonight since no hubby around (and he hates fish). As a side, I told my mother that we would have sweet potatoes. Sweet!! I love them and look for any opportunity to have some for dinner. So, I went online and looked up recipes. The recipe that I found, and that I wanted to try, was a Robert Irvine recipe from the Food Network . It's Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Wilted Spinach and it's totally comfort food! Try it, you will not just like it, you will love it - and you can veganize it if you want (which is how I had it - simply involves using margarine instead of butter). Very simple to make - I highly recommend it.
Tomorrow is Chickpea Salad - I will report on that after I have sampled it.
So, getting on with my running plans, I am now done with the Couch to 5k running plan and am in the middle of a 2-week self-imposed plan of just running for 30 minutes three times per week. I will do this and hopefully increase my speed and then start training for my first 5K! I also have to start running outdoors too. I would really like to find a running or workout journal that I can access on the internet. Somehow, using a notebook just doesn't appeal to me. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Woo Hoo!! I made it through!

Today I overslept and wasn't able to do my workout! Oh no!! Well, today I was scheduled for weights so it's no big deal if I miss that. Frankly, if I didn't have my mom staying at my house, I could just go over to the YMCA this evening and do my weights then. But I have to make dinner for her when I get home, then I have plans to go down to the Zoo Bar to hear my husband's band for a little while. It's my husband's birthday - 9/11! Yup, that's his birthday. Anyway, no time for the YMCA tonight. Can't do weights tomorrow because it's my running day - the last one of the last week on my running plan! Woo hoo! I made it through!
I saw a recipe posted on 101 Cookbooks' blogspot that I really want to try - it's Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry Recipe. I think I am going to give it a try on Sunday after I get back from New York, tofu and all (don't know how my mother will like that). I'm going to New York on Saturday to take some more furniture up to my daughter and while I'm at it, I'm going to give her a copy of this recipe. One of the things about it that interests me is that the chickpeas are stir-fried until golden and crusty. Yum, golden and crusty chickpeas sound good! I also have a recipe for a chickpea salad that uses toasted chickpeas. This seems to be a pretty cool trend in chickpeas. I'll let you know how it goes, unless you beat me to it and try it out before me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

mmmm, yeah!

I finally have some resolution to one of my food quests. For a while, I was searching for a good dish that would include both whole wheat pasta and vegetables and still be yummy. Oh, and a protein to complement the whole grain pasta would be nice as well. Well, finally, I found it! Once again, it's a recipe from the Food Network, courtesy of Giada deLaurentiis. The recipe is fusilli with spinach and asiago cheese and it filled the bill. Of course, I only used about 1/2 as much olive oil as was called for, plus I reduced the amount of cheese by one-half as well. Extra cheese can be on-hand for individual taste, but mine was fine with the reduced amount. Tonight we will try this dish as a leftover - can't wait!
Another idea I am eager to try is polenta lasagna a la Michael Chiariello, again of the Food Network. However, since I haven't tried this recipe yet, I am also not ready to post it. That will just have to wait a little while.
In running news, I am now up to 30 minutes/2.5 miles. Nothing earthshaking - it's very pleasant how everything has gone up to now. Hopefully it will continue this way. After this week, which is my last week on this running plan, I will concentrate on increasing my speed slowly for a couple of weeks, then transition to some outdoors running (weather depending, of course). Then I will begin training for running a 5K. Then who knows what will happen? Senior Olympics?
Currently, however, I am working out 6 days a week. I run 3 days, do weight training 2 days, and I also incorporate a long, cardio walk 3 times a week. Sometimes those walks are in conjunction with my run days. I get one day off. This suits me well - I seem to be getting enough sleep at night and am not having any aches or pains yet (I guess I should knock on some wood somewhere!). I keep a pretty strict schedule, and if I miss a day I usually am able to make it up somewhere, somehow. For now, it's fun.
I still believe that weight training is an absolute necessity for women, so girls, don't forget to lift those weights!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

s'been a while

Gee, I guess it's been a few weeks since I last published a post here. The fact is, I have been so busy with people moving in and moving out that I haven't had time to think about new ideas for food and have just been serving up the same ol' stuff. But I think that's coming to an end soon. I have been mulling and conjuring up some new ideas, and in a short while I will be ready to post them.
For now, however, I'll just have to stick with some tried-and-true recipes. For instance, one of my favorite ways to fix asparagus is to roast them. In fact, I love roasted asparagus so much that I usually fix this dish at least once a week. I think the turning point for me and roasted vegetables came when my daughter introduced me to roasted brussels sprouts a la Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa). Now I want to roast anything I can get my hands on. Only trouble is, roasting isn't the best way to prepare foods in the hot days of summer. But I do it anyway.
As I said, new ideas are coming, so stay tuned.
In the world of fitness, I am now up to running 28 minutes (or 2.32 miles) three times this week (I have already done this run twice this week, only 1 more day to go). Next week will be the last week of this running plan and it will culminate with my running 30 minutes three times over the course of the week. After this, I will start a training plan for running 5Ks. It seems like my only problem now is side stitches which I seem to get chronically but am able to control and get rid of if I concentrate fully on my breathing. That means, no music because the music is too distracting. So welcome boredom! It's not so bad - it's only 28-30 minutes. And I count every minute that goes by. I know it will get better when I start running outside, whenever that happens. My goal was originally to run in 5Ks and such with my daughters, but now I'm thinking about the Senior Olympics! haha, just joking of course.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"mothers are like that, yeh they are"

Don't ask me how that title is relevant to anything; it is just one of those lines from a commercial from my childhood that never goes away. I think the commercial was for childrens' aspirin, like St.Josephs, which was my favorite childrens' aspirin because it had a very unsweet orange-like flavor. Soothing goodness. There was also Bayer for Children, but that was sweet, medicinal, and grainy; and it always made me gag. Ugh!! Nowadays, things taste pretty much like grape, cherry, bubblegum, good stuff like that - and not just for children. Adults can have it too!
Today, I ran for 25 minutes straight. That came out to 2 miles according to the treadmill I was running on. Nothing exceptional happened except that I did it! I wasn't too bored - I had my tunes going and that helped passed the time. But no pains or aches, no nausea. I ate 1/2 a banana about 45 minutes before running and had some water, also a cup of coffee which I am trying to scale back before running but I still think I need that caffeine boost. Maybe the sugar boost from the banana will be a good substitute - we will see.
By the way, thank you to my wonderful and lovely running daughters for all their words of love and support, especially my marathon daughter who has given me so many great tips and suggestions, all of which I have tried and have proven successful for me. =) You ladies are the greatest! I love you!
Last but not least, since this is supposed to be a food blog - I have a great version of a turkey burger that I have to share. Unfortunately, I have no vegetarian or vegan version. I have prepared this 2 times in the past couple of weeks because it is so yummy. Essentially, it is a stuffed turkey burger, with 4 oz. of ground turkey stuffed with approximately 2 tablespoons of shredded, low-fat mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped roasted red peppers (I used ones from a jar that were already roasted). A little bit of freshly ground pepper on the top (or both sides if you prefer), then broil or grill for 5-6 minutes per side. This recipe is from Ellie Krieger of the Food Network who I love because, besides cooking healthy, wholesome, and tasty food, she also prepares vegetarian and vegan meals. Hers is one of the only shows on the Food Network that does that! Grrr! They must think we all love meat. I love meat but I also love good vegetarian/vegan food. Another thing I like about Ellie Krieger's recipes is that they often display the nutritional info afterwards. That's a good thing to have when you are considering what to make for dinner, etc. I for one like to know how much fat, how much protein, calories, sodium, whatever I am looking at adding to my diet. Getting back to the turkey burger - try it, you will like it or love it (if you love meat, that is). And it is very easy to prepare! That's all. See you next time!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yay for me! I could be a major idiot

How embarrassed am I? I realized shortly after publishing my last post that I had already written about the rice and soybean pilaf a couple of weeks ago when I made it for my daughter. We had the same complaints then about it being bland but agreed it was better when reheated as a leftover. The only thing different this time is that I actually made it for myself; the first time I only tried a spoonful as a taste test. So I guess it could be a legitimate post and maybe I'm not going too wacky or anything like that.
Just wanted to let everyone know that! Keep the faith!

so much edamame, so very little time

Last night I tried another ediets recipe, one for rice and green soybean pilaf. It sounded good enough, but the real finished product was pretty bland. When I thought about what I had assembled, I realized there were no seasonings called for. On my own, I had added freshly ground black pepper and a liberal dash of Tabasco, but that couldn't help it. After consideration, I decided that the next time I make this dish (which consists of rice, onions, garlic, celery, carrot, and mushrooms cooked in vegetable broth until broth is absorbed, then the cooked shelled edamame tossed in with rice mixture), I will saute the rice with the mirepoix first and maybe possibly add some saffron for color and a little mellow flavor.
This morning was another running morning for me. It was harder today even though I ran for only 5 minutes, then walked for 3, ran for 8, walked for 3, then ran for 5 again. Some days I guess it's just like that. No pain, I am happy to report. But I could really feel the effects of the humidity, even though I was inside on the treadmill. I felt like I could easily unravel and was happy to be running short runs. And the last several times that I have run I have felt nauseous afterward. Drinking small sips of water does nothing to help, only makes my stomach feel like it is filling up with acid which it probably is. Perhaps I should discontinue my early cup of coffee and save it for after my run. But if I do that, I probably won't be able to run or workout at all! What's a person to do?
My mother is back at my brother's house now so I am free to experiment with foods and recipes for the next 2 weeks. Everything I make for her apparently does not have enough salt. I do not like to use large amounts of salt in my food when I am preparing it. Salt is definitely something that everyone feels differently about, and I think it is best to let people salt to their own taste. Besides, we all know the hazards of too much salt. Salty chips and french fries, etc., are great once-in-a-while, but not exactly good for you on an everyday basis. But I don't know, when you are fixing and preparing meals for someone on a nightly basis, and that someone says it needs more salt, that can be considered a rude remark. People, my mother included, need to experience and savor the full natural flavors that are inherent in food. That's what it's all about.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My little big day

Today was my big running day - I had to run 20 minutes this morning with no walking, except for warm-up and cool-down walks. Considering that the most I have run before without stopping is 8 minutes, I was a little nervous and anxious about it. But I did it, it was successful, I felt good - now it's on to the next week which will conclude with my running for 25 minutes. Truthfully, after 20 minutes, I felt like I could have kept going but I was glad to settle into my final 5-minute cool down walk. And another good piece of news - no pain! No foot pain, no knee pain -nothing! I felt and feel great!!
Now on to food, glorious food. Last night, I made a really yummy ediets dinner. Believe it or not, I still follow the ediets meal plan; some of their recipes are pretty good. I started ediets back in December of 2006 and by summer of 2007 I had lost all of the weight that I had set out to lose. So here it is one year later and I am still holding off the weight-gain monster. Okay, getting back to last night's meal. I made crispy baked fish or whatever-it's-called from ediets. I used tilapia, coated it with panko bread crumbs mixed with a small amount of parmesan and a teensy bit of paprika to give it a nice color. Then I baked it for 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees. So there really wasn't very much to it but tilapia is such a meaty, non-fishy fish - it was very scrumptious (can scrumptious be "very"?) and probably pretty good for you too. I made this for my mother who never really commented on its scrumptiousness but did ask for the salt! Grrrrrr! Oh, I forgot, she did say that her friend had told her that tilapia was her favorite seafood and now she could see why. But I don't really count that as a compliment to my dinner that I prepared for her. It's just a comment on how flavorful that particular fish is. Oh well, she is moving on to my bro's house tomorrow so now he and his wife can haggle over what food to serve her for a couple of weeks. Then, when she comes back, possibly I will have some new goodies for her.
Having my mother here with me has really made me see how important it is to take good care of yourself, especially if you are a woman. This morning, before my run, I saw a memo on the bulletin board at the YMCA regarding the importance of weight training for women over 30. The gist of the memo was that weight training can be more important than aerobic exercise. I'm really glad that I have incorporated weight training into my weekly workout routine and I encourage my daughters to do the same except they probably already are way ahead of me! In fact, I know they are because they are the ones who told me to resume weight training.
That's it for now. Remember - take care of your muscle mass because you will probably need it down the road!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

quick, think of something!

I haven't published a post here in about a week, mainly because I have nothing new to write about. No new meals, etc. Last time I wrote about a side dish that I was interested in because it would contain whole wheat pasta and vegetables together. The one that I chose consisted of whole wheat pasta with broccoli rabe, mushrooms, vegetable broth, some parmesan cheese, garlic, and onions. It was tasty enough. Oh, I also included a small amount of red pepper flakes for some heat. Next time, however, I would like to add some veggie sausage and possibly some pine nuts. That would give it a little more substance and protein too which would really make it a meal in a pot.
On a more interesting note, I am into week 5 of my cool running plan. Yesterday, I ran for 8 minutes straight! Twice! Next run day (which will be Saturday), I will run for 20 minutes straight. I guess this will either make or break me, preferably the former. I was pretty anxious about doing 8 minutes and that wasn't so difficult. Hopefully, 20 minutes will be the same. But I think it will be long and boring. Fortunately, the foot pain I was having earlier has pretty much disappeared, even with the increase in my running times. During every run, though, I always experience some joint pain somewhere on my body (mostly foot- or knee-related) which only lasts for much of the duration of the run and is pretty mild and therefore I think normal. I will report back on how I do on my 20-minute run on Saturday. To a certain degree, I am fairly excited about running for 20 minutes, in spite of my anxiety.
So getting back to the pasta and vegetables. One of the reasons I chose to do this dish was because of my husband who is on a new, Adkins-like diet. It's actually a Suzanne Somers diet. When I told him that I had made this dish, something I thought he could eat, he told me "no way!" Since we were having some sort of meat product that he was cooking on the grill, he was apparently forbidden by his diet to eat any type of whole grain pasta or rice or the like and it would have to wait until the next day. So he did eat it for lunch the next day and said he liked it, although he so loaded it down with shredded Parmesan cheese that I think he lost all the other ingredients in there somewhere. Oh well, that's my so-called life and I'm lovin' it!
I hope to make the pasta and broccoli rabe recipe again this weekend, maybe with a few minor adjustments, and this time I will take a picture of it and post it here.
Happy trails, everyone! Wish me luck on my 20-minute run!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trying something new tonight folks

The old eating healthy and delicious every night has been difficult this week. It's been a stressful week, and sometimes you just want to come home from work and go out for a meal somewhere outside of your house where people bring things to you for you to eat and drink. Yeah, that's the life. But we didn't do that this week; we just ate leftovers or the usual old everyday/every week kind of stuff. Nothing new, in other words. Plus, my husband has started a new diet so that puts the kibotch on eating out.
My husband loves protein, such as hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, sausage, all that bad stuff that isn't necessarily good for you. So his favorite diet to go on is something akin to the Atkins diet. Right now he is following the Suzanne Somers diet. Gosh, how in the world did Suzanne Somers become a nutritional expert? Anyway, it doesn't seem to matter to him that me and my daughter both have successfully lost a decent amount of weight by eating healthy and controlling portions. He doesn't want any part of that. So he is actually dieting for a brief period of time so that he can lose weight fairly quickly and then be able to start taking walks and being active again. It's a long story. The upshot of this is that tonight's dinner has to consist of food that he deems to be part of his diet and that I deem to be healthy and delicious. I have come up with a meal that includes a serving of protein (meat in this case) and a vegetable and carbohydrate side dish cooked together in one pot, whole wheat pasta with broccoli rabe and mushrooms. This looks and sounds pretty yummy. The idea is to serve a side that includes a whole grain and a vegetable. That seems like a no-brainer, like why have I not done this before? I guess I will give it a try. Later!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My inspiration

Well, I am back from the big city where I went on Sunday to help my daughter move a few of her things before her big move-in later this month. Unfortunately, I have not conjured up any new ideas in cooking dinners for my mom. So far, we have had leftovers (the leftover Asparagus/Rice salad was better the second day!) or just stuff that is good but no new discoveries in my culinary world. I will get to that later this week. After all, it is only Wednesday.
I did, however, start my 4th week of my running plan. This is a big week because not only have I increased my running time and decreased my walking time but I have also increased my running speed slightly. That was at the suggestion of one of my daughters. I did quite well too. So, this week has me running for 3 minutes, then walking for 90 seconds, run for 5 minutes, walk for 2-1/2 minutes, run 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, then run 5 minutes. The first day I did this, I thought I would collapse and die during the first half of the first 3-minute run segment. Then I crossed over that psychologic-physiological hurdle and cruised for the rest of the workout. One of the things that helped me get through that increased run time was having really good music to listen to. But the other thing that made me really feel good was thinking about all of the support that I have gotten from my daughters. All three of them. They all run and they constantly support me and tell me I can do it and that I am doing an awesome job. So this post is for them - they are my inspiration. I consider myself very lucky indeed to have three such wonderful daughters. All I have to do is think about them and I get a big smile on my face. =)
So, no new food ideas today; but check back tomorrow. I hope to have some more interesting ideas then.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

She's baaack!!

Well, my mom is back at my house for a 2-week stay. She takes turns staying with my brother and me, two weeks at his place and then 2 weeks at my house. I don't think she minds the moving around, I think it makes life interesting for her to get to see a new perspective every 2 weeks. And, of course, she gets different treatment from each of us. My brother and his wife take her out to eat at an actual restaurant every once in a while. I just wait on her hand and foot, fix her meals when I'm home, and try to make delicious and healthy home-cooked meals to boot.
Tonight my daughter and I fixed a recipe that I had been wanting to try which I saw on one of my favorite blogspots - The recipe is Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice. My result did not look quite as good as the picture that she has on her post. Something about the chickpeas, they didn't get that crust to them and were actually a little mushy. Maybe I should have rinsed them when I drained them? However, it was delicious and very satisfying. It was very much like a meal in one pot. It had a tahini-based dressing with it that I was worried my mother wouldn't care for but she raved about it. She did, however, say it needed more salt. I told her she was wrong! If it needed anything more, it would have been extra tahini dressing. But the salad combines raw asparagus (which actually does get a little steaming action when everything is tossed together at the end) and toasted slivered almonds - loads of toasted slivered almonds. Absolutely delicious. You should give it a try.
I completed my 3rd week of my running plan. Week 4 has me running for 5-minute stretches. Who knew I would make it this far? If I don't injure myself, I just might make it to a 5K sometime in the near future.
Well, that all starts on Monday. Tomorrow I'm driving my daughter up to her new apartment in New York City, taking some of her stuff to get her started on her move. When I return, I'll be getting back to conjuring up more yummy food and concentrating on more working out.
Until then, have a happy weekend, what's left of it that is!

Monday, July 28, 2008

some very good food was had by all

On Sunday, I broke the ice and made some really delicious food. It's been a long time and it was fun. First, I made Edamame Hummus which came from a recipe at Cooking Light on the internet. Delicious and fairly easy to make, it was consumed practically the moment I set it out on the table. After that was prepared, I made a really yummy couscous salad that I had seen prepared on the Food Network. This too was pretty easy to prepare, and since it uses toasted couscous it had an extra visual appeal to it. A couple of things of note - Giada de Laurentiis likes to use a lot of olive oil and although olive oil is great I really prefer to cut back a little . So I used about half as much. The recipe also calls for chicken stock, but I used vegetable stock instead. I hardly ever use meat-based stocks. Great recipes - and they can both be vegan too!
I am now into Week 3 on my running plan, still gelling with my new running shoes. Day 1 came and went with no new pains. I actually ran for two 3-minute stretches. I think that's the longest I have run for in over 25 years! How pathetic is that, I ask! Tomorrow is Day 2 - I will report back on how it goes.
I need some new inspiration for recipes, since my mother will be coming back to our house for her 2-week stay this weekend. So off I go to search for something new and interesting to cook for her and my family. See you next time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It Is TOO Easy Being Green!!

Well, Kermit was slightly wrong. I'm talking Green as in environment, carbon footprint, etc. But the fact is, green is where it is at. Whether it be green soybeans (Yay!) or green living or green frogs, Kermit needs to just get with the times. Too many people are whining about having to go green when they could just embrace the fact that it's something that has to be done. Then they would find out it's pretty damn easy after all! So folks, give up your SUVs and take the bus or train or ride your bike or walk! Or even just get into your smaller car and drive that for a change.
Getting back to edamame, I just found a recipe for Edamame Hummus . You can check out this recipe at Cooking Light on the internet. I haven't tried it myself yet, but I plan to do just that this weekend. I have leftover frozen green soybeans and I would like to somehow sneak them into my hubby's diet. He'll never know what hit him! Stay tuned for the results.
Now for the running plan update. Today was Day 3 of my 2d week. Earlier this week, notably Day 2 which was Tuesday, I developed some foot pain involving my left foot which I (with help from primary running daughter) concluded had to do with the fact that I was running whilst wearing walking shoes. Last night I bought my first pair ever of running shoes! Today's run (90 seconds followed by 120 seconds of walking for 20 minutes) was uneventful; in other words, I had mild achiness but I think it was residual from Tuesday's run. Those new shoes are so cushioned I feel like I really know what they mean when people say, "I'm gelling," because I was definitely gelling. I know, I'm a dork. So what else is new?
With the help of my daughter who is at home for the summer, I found a couple of very easy ediets recipes that she can throw together for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. One that I actually got to enjoy a little bit of is Baked Tofu with green beans. It simply consists of 4 oz. of Italian Herb baked tofu that is cut into cubes and sauteed in a little olive or canola oil and then tossed with 1-2 cups of steamed green beans. Add a few dried herbs such as oregano and parsley, plus a little balsamic vinegar, and toss all together to make a delicious and satisfying entree. It's so easy and can be whipped up in just a few minutes. Of course, you can substitute any vegetable and even use fresh herbs which always taste so much better anyway. I do love tofu when it is sauteed in a little olive oil, just enough to give it some flavor and a slight crust. Yum! And baked or marinated tofu is even better because it has a flavor that is absolutely delicious!
Tonight I am eating out with a friend, at my favorite Italian restaurant, so no planning or cooking meals until tomorrow. Have a good weekend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Edamame Momma

Last night, I cooked with green soybeans for the first time in my life. Which means that I am not Edamame Momma yet, really; but maybe someday I will be. I made Green soybean and rice pilaf for dinner which is yet another eDiets recipe and therefore pretty bland. I added black pepper and Tabasco sauce but to no avail. Still bland. In spite of the blandness, it was fairly good and substantive. In addition to edamame and rice, it contained carrots, mushrooms, celery, and onions which sounds like a good recipe for mirepoix minus the herbs. Coincidentally, yesterday or the day before I noticed a new post on highlighting a recipe for Edamame soup . I briefly perused the recipe but didn't find any suggestions for other seasonings besides those which I had already used in my bland serving. On reflection, I think next time I make this soybean and rice pilaf I might use leeks instead of onions. Leeks have that little "edge" to them which might be what this dish needs. But then I would have to omit the celery possibly. I would also try adding another vegetable such as broccoli just to give it some extra substance and texture.
I am now finished with my 2d day of Week 2 in my running plan. Running for 90 seconds and walking for 120 seconds is not turning out to be too difficult except that I have immediately found that I need a good pair of running shoes. I already have a pre-injurious condition involving my left foot which I think is directly related to my shoes. Hopefully it will not prevent me from finishing this week. But if it does, what the heck? I've waited this long to take up running; so having to wait another few weeks certainly won't make any difference to me! I'm just astonished that I can actually run for 90 seconds without falling down dead and that I can do it repeatedly for 20 minutes. Who would have thought it possible?
Until next time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A flash from the past

Today I received a letter from my long-lost best friend from my childhood! What excitement for me! We haven't seen each other since we were both 16 years old and I went down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to visit her for a couple of weeks. She and her family had moved down there the year before after spending all of her childhood in the Washington, D.C., area, where she lived in very close proximity to me. Her letter means so much to me that I have read it and re-read it over and over again.
I'm in the middle of making vegetarian dinners from the eDiets menu for my daughter. Last night I made a vegetable bake that had mushrooms and potatoes in it with a sauce of ricotta, parmesan, and vanilla soymilk. I used vanilla soymilk because it was the only "milk" that I had in my house. As a result, the sauce had a certain sweetness to it; I think next time I should try to remember to get some plain soymilk. Even though it's called "vegetable bake," the only vegetables in this dish were mushrooms and potatoes, so I decided to saute some zucchini with onions and garlic to go alongside. Tonight I am making Asian stir fry with vegetables and tofu fried in a little olive oil. This dish has bok choy and snow peas in it. If we feel the need for another vegetable, I will probably cook up a pot of broccoli, which, after it is drained, gets tossed with a bit of lemon juice and a dash of olive oil to make a very tasty side. A small handful of toasted almonds will definitely enhance the broccoli. Almonds and pine nuts are always welcome in my kitchen.
Hopefully this weekend I will have the time to try some new ideas. I have been collecting recipes and ideas; now I just need to set aside some time to try some new vegetable dishes.
I did Day 2 of my running plan; feeling fine in the summertime. Day 3 is tomorrow then I start Week 2 which has me running for 90 seconds and walking for something (I forget which but I have it written down somewhere). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Uh, what's next?

Well, now that my mother has moved to my brother's house for the next 3 weeks, I feel like I'm in relax mode as far as meals go. But nothing could be farther from the truth! There is no time for relaxing because now I must concentrate on fixing nourishing and yummy food for the rest of my household which right now includes my daughter who is home for a few weeks and my husband. This will be a challenge since my daughter is a vegetarian and is very health- and fitness-conscious and my husband is neither. Tonight has to be a quick fix since we will be rushing out and up the road to Philadelphia to hear one of my other daughter's performance. Tomorrow night, however, I will begin in earnest to prepare food for both my daughter and my husband (as well as myself). I have 2 nights worth of meals already in the planning stage.
On another note, yesterday was the first day of my new running challenge. I went to the gym yesterday bright and early at 5:00 a.m. I started with a brisk 5-minute warmup walk, then followed that with 20 minutes of alternating between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking. It was a success! I thought I wouldn't be able to do it but I was able to complete the entire 20 minutes. That was followed by 30 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill. I think my biggest obstacle was worrying about how I looked while I was running; I kept thinking to myself that maybe I have a bad stride or maybe I looked goofy to everyone else, but no one seemed to take much notice. So I am planning on going again for day 2 on Thursday. Day 3 will be on Saturday morning. In case you did not read my earlier post, this running plan that I am currently using is the Couch to 5K Running Plan from Cool Running. Today is the day after Day 1, and apart from slightly sore thigh muscles, there appears to be no damage done.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming down the home stretch

Only 3 more days left with my mother staying at my house; then she moves on to my brother's house for 3 weeks. I have to say, I think I have done pretty well coming up with some tasty and wholesome vegetable servings for our dinners this week. And I also notice that she is regularly adding fruit to her breakfasts and lunches. Success!!
Last night I wasn't sure what to serve with our dinner of cheese omelets and whole wheat toasted bread. I had a couple of zucchinis in the refrigerator, so I decided to use them since they were still fresh and firm. I ended up chopping them into bite-sized chunks and sauteeing them with some sliced onions and dried (if only I had fresh!) rosemary in a little bit of olive oil. I also added freshly ground pepper and the tiniest amount of coarse salt. They were perfect. I have tried roasting zucchini but they had so much water in them that they ended up being a mushy mass. These last night were perfectly cooked, just the right amount of crisp-tender. So, all in all, dinner was delicious once again.
I'm trying something new this coming week - I'm going to start training for a 5K. Yup, I want to see if I can become a runner. I have my doubts, though. I will be using the Couch-to-5K Running Plan from Cool Running. It looks pretty good so we shall see how it goes. Three days a week for the first week I am to alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes, and then it increases in increments over the consecutive weeks. This is going to be really hard even though I have been working out at the YMCA gym for years and I think I am in relatively good shape as a walker. Running is a whole different hill of beans. I tried it a few years ago, although without a running plan such as this, and I thought I would absolutely die. So we shall see how the running plan works. Maybe I am just too old at this point to start running.
Tonight I will be babysitting my gorgeous granddaughter so I have no dinners planned - for the sake of convenience, it will probably be Lean Cuisine. My mom gets Lean Cuisine too, even though she asked for a t-bone steak yesterday. That will just have to wait until her next stay here (in 3 weeks). Darling hubby is on his own for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Soup as a vegetable serving?

I'm really working hard on getting five-a-day going with my 83-year-old mother to the point that I have decided why not count soup as a vegetable serving? Thanks to one of my favorite websites, which happens to be, I have a recipe for Spinach-Zucchini soup. This soup is so flavorful and rich and creamy it should qualify as comfort food. And it's easy to make! Also vegan, in case you care about dairy products in your food. There is absolutely no ingredient in it that is not good for you - no animal byproduct, no dairy. It's exquisite! It's not exactly something I can whip up when I get home from work, since I often want a quick-fix for dinner (quick and healthy). But it can be made the night before - it works well that way and lasts for a few good days.
I have had some recent success getting my mother to start incorporating more fruit into her diet. I sometimes feel like asking her, "now who's the mother?" because here I am telling her to "eat your fruits and vegetables!" But this is the best time of year to get those fruits in your meals - there is so much available, and they're all so juicy and sweet and yummy. A friend of mine suggested getting some watermelon and chopping it up into nice-sized chunks, then putting the chunks in the freezer for a nice frozen treat. I'll be giving that a try in the next few days.
You have to understand that this mission of 5-a-day is extremely important to me because I just came off of a diet where I lost 35 pounds about one year ago. The main thrust of this diet was to eat well-balanced meals. I have kept the weight off for about a year, maybe a little more. So when I found out my mother doesn't really care if she gets fruits and vegetables with her meals or not, I was kind of concerned. To her, breakfast is a cup of coffee and a piece of buttered toast. Lunch is sandwich and chips. Dinner is a piece of meat with some frozen vegetable stuff that she cooks on the stovetop. Then those 3 meals are interspersed with a lot of snacks e.g., chips, crackers, cookies, etc.- that kind of crap. Now that she is staying at my house, she doesn't get that stuff. At my house, she gets rice cakes, graham crackers, yogurt, fruit, and oh yes, the obligatory piece of dark chocolate that we cannot live without! I hope this will have a beneficial impact on her health, which at this point is good in spite of her age. She could stand to eat a little better, and I think I am steering her in the right direction.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Another day, another vegetable

My 83-year-old mother has come to live at my house with me and my husband until she can get a new place to live. She's getting older and needs to be in assisted living, but until we can get her into a nice place she takes turns living with me and my brother. So, while she lives at my house, I am trying to make sure she is meeting the old 5-a-day requirement. That includes both fruit and vegetable. Her idea of a vegetable with dinner is a package of frozen broccoli with cheese sauce. We will have none of that here. Only fresh ingredients will do. However, one of my favorite vegetable dishes that is quick and easy to prepare uses frozen green beans which I steam and then toss with soy margarine and some toasted slivered almonds. Not overly long on flavor but still delicious and satisfying. The other night though I used fresh green beans and chopped some waxy potatoes, such as Yukon, and tossed them together with a small amount of olive oil, enough to coat. I try not to overdo it with the olive oil - I like to think that 1-2 teaspoons per serving is enough. So for 4 servings, I used approximately 1-1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. I also added sliced onion and garlic and tossed all together with a slight sprinkling of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, then spread all out on a baking sheet, put into the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes-20 minutes. My oven cooks/bakes slow so it always takes a little longer. Suffice it to say, roasted green beans make the grade! They were delicious and I will do it again only next time I might add some fresh herb such as rosemary. The beans were nutty and flavorful. And my mother gobbled hers right up which I guess was the point of all of this.
Still seeing radishes in my future - probably roasted. tonight might be good for that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Radish a Day ...?

Today I ate a radish that's not in a salad. Apparently, the French eat radishes with unsalted butter. Ahh, butter. I love it, but unfortunately it's not a part of my dietary lifestyle anymore (except occasionally when I dine out or for special meals ). I stopped by the local farmer's market near my office and picked up a couple of bunches of some pink and white radishes (French breakfast radishes - so I guess that's when the French eat them with unsalted butter). My feeling was that they would go very nicely sliced on top of a flatbread or triscuit that has been slathered with a bit of veggie cream cheese (you could, of course, substitute tofutti if you prefer the non-dairy variety). It makes a fair canape or hors d'oeuvre as you would expect. In fact, they might even have a picture of this on the front of the Nabisco Triscuit box - probably topped with a sprig of dill. Later, however, I might try roasting some radishes. There are so many radishes out there, and I know that there has to be some delicious ways of serving them. My quest continues!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting Started

I love food. But like a lot of people, if I keep eating it the way I want to eat it I gain lots and lots of weight, don't look good, don't feel good, etc. For the past year-and-a-half, however, I have been dutifully and conscientiously monitoring what and how much I eat, to the extent that I have completely changed my dietary lifestyle. I have also lost over 35 pounds and kept it off successfully for about a year. So this means healthy eating, no more junk food (well, that's not an absolute), working out on a regular basis (you know, the 3-day cardio, 2-day strength training, etc., routine), I guess for the rest of my life. I am trying to incorporate really yummy, delicious food into this healthy eating lifestyle. That's not just for me, it's also for my family. My family includes my husband of 32 years, three grown and beautiful daughters, one son-in-law, and one gorgeous, adorable granddaughter who will be 2-1/2 years old in August of this year. Stop by and see how it goes! I think my first venture is going to involve radishes. I hear they're pretty good for you.