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!