Archive for the 'nutritious' Category

06
Jul
10

Boy, did we have fun!

I decided to try my hand at making a little movie presentation of our Fourth of July gathering.  We had some of our very special friends over to help celebrate the holiday with us.  As always, there was more than enough food.

We played darts, cowboy golf, badminton and of course, pool!  I spent a lot of time in what Katie calls my “natural habitat,” the kitchen, cranking out the goodies.  I even made a new barbeque sauce using rhubarb!  Thank goodness I had my grasshopper, Emily, there to help me.

We had hummus, pita bread, guacamole, bagel chips, grilled corn on the cob, grilled veggie skewers bathed with that rhubarb sauce,  kale and carrot salad, wheatberry salad and quinoa salad.  There were no lack of sweets.  I made peanut butter cookies, oatmeal triple chip cookies and lemon coconut pixies.  Emily baked a raspberry buttermilk cake which was the perfect foil for my homemade strawberry frozen yogurt.  Robert brought a perfect watermelon, beautiful fresh raspberries, red and gold, and blueberries.

I only wish I had taken more pictures.  Especially of us all shooting firecrackers and bottle rockets off!

Enjoy the film presentation.  (Ignore the date on the title page – this really was filmed on the 4th of July)

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21
Jun
10

How does your garden grow?

Welcome to Vampire Gran's Garden!

On March 30th of this year I started planting a raised bed garden.  It’s difficult to believe that tomorrow is the official first day of summer, June 21st.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we have had days and weeks of unending rain and very sporadic bursts of sunshine.  And somehow my garden seems to be thriving.  We’ve already harvested and consumed all of the lettuce that was planted at the end of March.  It was my first attempt at growing lettuce and it was a success.  Not one head was lost.  Probably because I identify with the Evil Queen from Snow White and not the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland!

Harvesting my very first beet

Wow, look at those beautiful beet greens!  Life is truly wonderful when a simple thing like pulling a fresh beet from the earth can bring a smile that I could feel through my whole body.

I look like a proud parent

Growing our own food is so awesome.  Everyone should do it, no matter where you live.  The cool thing about beets is that you can eat the whole plant, not just the root.  I’m steaming these greens tomorrow for dinner.  The root is going into our fresh veggie juice  this afternoon.  It’s gonna be delicious.

Five raised beds all in row

The bed in the foreground used to hold large heads of lettuce, but we’ve already enjoyed those.  There’s a jalapeno and a butternut squash starting there now.  You can see basil, dill, chives, Italian parsley, orange thyme and summer savory closer to where I am standing.

View from behind the garage

I’m standing in front of the shelling peas.  Those things really grew fast!  Leeks and onions are in that bed as well.  To the right are the beets and broccoli.  To the left you can see tomato plants.

Checking out the peas

It was just last weekend that the pea pods appeared.  They are so sweet and tender.  We like to pick and eat them right there on the spot.   What a treat!

Just beautiful!

Such a beautiful shade of green

OK, one more shot - jeez, who knew peas could be such hams!

Not to be upstaged by the peas, the beet greens make another appearance

Seriously, look how gorgeous those greens are.  When I was a kid, people used to tell me I would make a good farmer’s wife because I used to get up before the sun was up.  Who knew I was the one who would end up being the farmer.

Thanks for coming to check on our garden's progress

Well, now I’m heading to the garage to ditch my gloves and gardening garb.  Then off to the kitchen to rinse my beloved beet and enjoy it our afternoon juice.  Cheers!

20
Jun
10

Deli? We don’t need no stinkin’ deli!

And neither do you.  Here is an easy, quick deli style salad that you can whip up in the privacy of your own kitchen.  It features quinoa, one of my personal favorite grains.  If you are not yet familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) I strongly suggest that you two should get acquainted.  It cooks up like rice, is packed with protein and it looks pretty cute!

Colorful, tasty Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I prefer to use the whole pepper including the membrane and seeds, but if you are a light weight, you can ditch them)

2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro

Bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir and lower heat to simmer.  Place lid on pot and simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir to fluff.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.  Make dressing:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you want more kick to it

Whisk all together in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for it's close up, just to make you hungry

I think this is best after the ingredients have had a chance to mingle and marry.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  This will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long at our house!

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ’em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!

20
May
10

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Tasty

I am so glad I planted early this year!

A couple of months ago, March 30th,  to be exact, I wrote a post about planting our garden.  I likened myself to Martha Stewart, sort of, well, in the fact that we both have gardens on our estates.  I sure wish I had a couple of henchmen though, like Martha, who could help with all of the details of said garden.  Oh, I guess they are called gardeners, not henchmen.  Drat!  I really want a henchman.

Anyway, this short post is an update complete with a few photos of how the garden is progressing.  The top shot is of a Golden Beet plant.  We’re pretty stoked about growing our own beets.  I think I’d like to show some before and current views of the raised beds.  Here goes:

Day one - Lettuce

When I first planted the lettuce, some kinda bug thought it was Hometown Buffet or something.  Small bug teeth sized holes started to appear in the leaves almost immediately.  Katie was concerned as was our friend Emily.  I’m the kind of gardener who plants things and just expects them to grow.  I believed that if I was meant to grow lettuce, it would grow.  My inner being never lets me down.  Here is what the lettuce looked like this morning and, mind you, I added nothing to the soil nor did I put anything on the leaves.  100% natural and organic, baby.

Can you believe it?

Here’s a nice close up shot:

Pretty!

So, let’s take a look at the beets progress.  We are really looking forward to not only eating the beet roots, but also the tasty greens.  This is the ultimate no waste vegetable.

Day one - Beets

The plant front and center in this shot is the same Golden Beet whose picture graced the beginning of this report.  Not bad, eh?  Here’s a shot of the whole group.

Growing like, dare I say it, weeds?

The plants in the background are broccoli.  You may be noticing the yellowing outer leaves here.  I’m leaving  those leaves on, even though the pictures would look better if I manicured the plants a bit.  But I’m thinkin’ maybe if the moocher bugs return, they can gnaw on the crappy leaves a bit, get pissed off and move on.  Ours is not the only garden on the block, ya’ know?

Some new additions

If you recall, the chives, on the right, were the only thing that survived the winter.  Since March, I’ve planted parsley and some Orange Thyme, back in the corner.  I still need to buy some basil and I would also like cilantro.

Yeah, I know I need to weed, but it's been raining cats and dogs here in Portland!

These are shelling peas and in the background you can see leeks.  In the past I have only ever grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a few herbs.  This is really fun growing our food.  Speaking of tomatoes, I need to get some planted soon.  I mentioned in my other gardening post that our next door neighbor is a Master Gardener.  She generously shared three tomato plants and a green bell pepper with us.  She has the coolest little greenhouse and always something growing in there.  No, I haven’t noticed any bright lights coming from there at odd hours.   Man, you guys!

Thanks to Miss Snowy, we will have tomatoes

Okay, well that’s my update for now.  Oh, there’s a break in the rain.  I’m outta here.  I have some weeds to pull!

17
Mar
10

Enchilada casserole tutorial

 A few weeks ago we had  a party at our place  and I made a vegetarian “chicken” enchilada casserole.  Everyone loved it!  Some people were very confused, saying “I thought you guys were vegetarian; there’s chicken in here!”  Well, yeah, but no.  There wasn’t any dead yard bird in there, just good ol’ Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips.  I’ve posted a picture of the box a few posts back.  I like using those things.  They are so handy when it comes to doing recipe reduxes involving chicken.  Trying to make mostly vegetable heavy meals now days, I like to indulge in some processed stuff once in a while.  Moderation in everything, right?

The night before last I decided to make the casserole for dinner.  Since it was such a hit at the party, I thought I should share it with my blog audience this time.  So here goes:

The first layer

This is made like a lasagna, in layers.  The first layer I spooned in some green enchilada sauce (yes, from a can!), two corn tortillas (or what ever fits in your dish), sprinkle a little grated cheese (I used pepper jack and cheddar), chopped onion, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, and chopped Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips (I sauted these first in a little olive oil, added garlic powder, cumin, salt and chili powder to taste).

Layer two more corn tortillas

Ladle more green enchilada sauce on top

Add a little grated cheese

Add the chickenless strip chunks, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, chopped onions

Load the top up with cheese

And bake it until it looks like this!  Preheat your oven while you are building your casserole to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling.  The other night when this was baking I made Spicy Quinoa instead of rice and refried black beans.  I’ve shown you in past posts how I make refried beans so I’m not going to get into that this time.  I am, however, going to show you  a little step by step action with the quinoa.

Before you heat the pan, have a measuring cup with the liquid ready.  I have a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that has all of the cool markings on it.  I put 1 – 2 tablespoons of chili paste or salsa into the cup and add water or stock up to the 3/4 cup  marking.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, saute a couple tablespoons chopped onions, add some salt, cumin and chili powder to taste and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Stir often until quinoa starts to brown a little.

  Add your liquid and reduce heat to low and cover pan with lid.  Cook until all of the liquid has evaported, about 19 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.

And this is what it looks like when it is done!  My lighting is a little strange here, so don’t freak if you make this and it isn’t this color, okay?

Add a  green salad and you’ve got yourself a nice balanced meal.  This is better than any Mexican restaurant and a lot lower in fat.  The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.  And, yeah, we really eat meals like this almost every day.  Just ask Katie!

25
Jan
10

I see healthy people…….

Fantastic salad meal with quinoa, purple potatoes and chickenless strips

Ever since my spouse had her surgery in early December of 2009, I’ve had to change my way of thinking about food.  She told me, in a narcotic haze, that she needed nutrition to facilitate healing.  Yes, even in a Oxycodone  stupor, she still talks like that.  Nutrition has always been a nasty word to me.  In my silly mind, nutritious foods always sounded bland, dull and boring.  And vegetarian nutritious food, even worse. Yes, people, I am the worst vegetarian because I don’t cook or eat a lot of vegetables, until now……….  

After getting over my 2 day pout fest about having to rethink how I cook and what I have been feeding us for the past two years, a light bulb went on in my head.  Yeah, just like in the cartoons! I  know how to make things taste fantastic.  Garlic and spices!  Everything tastes better when it is properly spiced.  I also looked at it as a culinary adventure.  This is my chance to perhaps try some vegetables that I’ve never had before or to discover new methods for preparing the old stand bys.   Lilias Folan, a television yoga instructor, used to always say “The joy is in the journey” and boy, was she ever right.  

Oh, we still eat pizza and veggie burgers and fries now and then, but a lot less frequently.  Quinoa and brown rice are our new carbohydrate.  We hardly ever eat pasta and we both have noticed that when we do, we always feel too stuffed.  I try to make sure we have at least one dark green vegetable each night for dinner.  I’ve replaced the anemic Romaine hearts from Trader Joe’s with the dark green Romaine heads for our salads.  There is an awesome kale and carrot salad at the deli at New Seasons Market that I am totally addicted to.  

The other night I came up with the salad meal you see pictured at the top of this post.  It was soooo yummy!  

I cut a purple potato into bite sized chunks and steamed until tender firm.  Set aside to cool.  I steamed some broccoli until still bright green and crisp, then I removed it from the heat and plunged the broccoli into ice water to retain the color and stop the cooking process.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels and set aside.  

I had some left over cooked quinoa in the fridge.  I added the beautiful bright green broccoli to it along with some shredded carrot, finely chopped red onion, some grape tomatoes that I halved, about a tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese and a handful of Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend ( dried fruit blend of golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries) and tossed gently to distribute everything.  

I cut up about half a package of Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Strips.  If you have not tried these, you should.  They are better than the Morning Star Farms brand, also cheaper and much lower in calories, fat and sodium.  Also, the list of ingredients is a lot shorter and all full of natural stuff that we have all heard of and can pronounce!  And they are VEGAN!!!

The first word on the back of the box is "Nutritious!

 Using a non-stick pan, I heated 2 teaspoons of olive oil and when nice and hot, I tossed in the steamed purple potatoes and sautéed them until lightly crisped, then I tossed in the chicken-less strips and a clove of minced garlic and some poultry seasoning.  Once everything had a nice golden look to it, I removed from the heat and set aside.  

Next I cut up several dark green leaves of Romaine and thin slices of red cabbage. and tossed in a large bowl.  

OK, almost ready to plate this wonderful nutritious meal up!  

I made my dressing:  

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil  

1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar  

1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce  

1 tablespoon raw honey  

Whisk together until emulsified.  

I took the bowl with the quinoa mixture in it and tossed with just a little of the dressing, saving the rest for the greens.  

Next toss the remaining dressing with the greens mixture.  

Place Romaine salad on the plate.  

Place a generous position of the quinoa mixture on top of the greens.  

Final step, place the potato-chicken-less saute on top.  

Eat your NUTRITIOUS meal!




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