I Simply Resolve to..

Be thankful.

For every breath I take.

For every breathtaking view I see.

LPW_5151

For my family.

For my Friends.

My daughters and I have watched the “Anne of Green Gables” series many, many times over the years. New Years reminds me of a favorite line in the movie “”Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
– Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Though New Years often causes us to reflect over the past year, I resolve  to live more  fully every day,  embracing each day with a clean slate and as simply as I can.

 One year ago I started  sharing recipes and  my thoughts about healthier living on this blog. It was on my heart to start for quite some time before it ever came to be.  This will be my 52nd post, not bad for a beginner:) The writing has not been easy but  I will press on.

Thank you for stopping in, for trying some recipes and for your encouragement.

My challenge for the New Year ..2 simple goals:

Serve and Eat more vegetables and fruit. Aim for 5-10 servings/day

Move more. Aim for 30 minutes/day,  5 days a week.

Miso, Tahini, what in the world?…

Are ingredients I had never heard of until we started our healthier eating journey. Almost 9 years later, I don’t know what I would do with out them. Miso, a traditional Japenese food,  is a high protein seasoning made from soybeans, cultured grain, salt and water. It’s many uses include adding it to soups, or as a sauce, gravy or dressing. There are different types but most importantly I choose one that uses select organic ingredients including, non GMO whole soybeans. I have stocked both “white miso”, which has a mellow, slightly sweet flavor and “amano miso” or “barley miso” which is a naturally aged blend of pearl barley and soybeans with a full-bodied flavor.

Miso soup which is traditionally served with every meal in Japan is delicious, easy to make and loaded with vitamin D and healthy vegetable protein. I made this a few days ago when I feeling a little under the weather with flu-like symptoms. It was just what I needed…nutrition packed, chasing the flu away.

MISO AND MUSHROOM SOUP

Makes 4-6 servings

5 cups vegetable broth

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms or 2 cups thinly sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms

1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (green part mostly)

1/2 pound firm organic, non GMO tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 sheet nori, cut into 1-inch squares (nori-dried seaweed)

2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 cups small broccoli florets or bok choy chopped large pieces

1 cup julienned or grated carrot

3 to 4 tablespoons white miso or 3 tbsp barley miso

Pour the broth into a large pot, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the mushrooms, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened. (if using dried shitakes) Remove the mushrooms from the broth with a slotted spoon. Cut off and discard the mushroom stems. Thinly slice the caps and set aside. If using fresh sliced mushrooms, add them to the broth together with the leeks,  bring to boil then simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until softened

Add the tofu, nori, and ginger to the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms (if you had removed them), broccoli, and carrot. Cover and simmer for 1 minute, just until the broccoli turns bright green. Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a measuring cup and stir in the miso with a fork until it is completely dissolved. Pour the dissolved miso into the soup and stir until it is well incorporated.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, Miso Soup will keep for up to 3 days.

Note: Do not boil the soup after the miso has been added, as high heat will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the miso.

Tahini, (raw and organic) is made using mechanically hulled sesame seeds. It is naturally low in saturated fat, and is an ingredient found in many asian foods. Instead of the high salt versions of teryiaki sauce, or soy sauce dressings and sauces, I have found a great recipe for topping stirfrys using tahini, a “no salt” added, surprisingly yummy sauce. There are a few ingredients in this sauce you may not normally stock and can be a little pricey.  They last a while when stored correctly, are healthier than the traditionally stocked condiments in your refridgerator and will open wide your taste buds to some unique and wonderful flavors. Try some new flavors in 2013!

Yummy Tahini Sauce

 1 small onion or ½ cup shallots roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp dark toasted sesame oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp Braggs ( low sodium soy sauce available in health food stores)

1/3 cup raw sesame tahini

1 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup vegetable stock (low sodium)

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup flax or hemp oil (found in health food stores in refridgerator)

 With a blender or food processor, blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

A little  goes a long way with this sauce. Try topping brown rice, lentils or quinoa and steamed vegees starting with  a tbsp at a time. The flavor is rich and delicious! I usually toast  raw sesame seeds and top it all with about a tbsp per person. Yum!

 

Vegetable Barley Soup….another delicious and nutritious grain

It is snowing, lovely and white and the perfect time for a hike outdoors then a steaming hot bowl of yummy soup.  I have adapted this recipe to exclude the beef and added in more vegetables. It is hearty and delicious. Barley, especially in whole-grain form (hulled or “pot barley” ) is an excellent grain to add to your repertoire. It is more flavourful and has a chewier texture than white rice, with a more subtle flavour than brown rice.

barley_pot

Barley is versatile: and like oats, it is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help in lowering blood cholesterol levels and is high in thiamin and fibre.

One serving of 1/2 cup cooked barley provides 97 calories, 1.8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 3 g fibre.

Whole grain pot barley contains high levels of numerous vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin and folate.

This recipe is easy to make. I like to make the soup in the morning (20  minutes tops), and adding it to the slow cooker. No matter what the rest of the  day looks like, whether off to work or out for a hike, a ski, snowshoeing or skating, nothing beats coming home to a hearty bowl of hot soup with a thick slice of whole grain bread.  Enjoy:)

Vegetable Barley Soup

 1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ tsp salt

1 lb mushrooms, sliced (any variety –white, cremini, shitakes, oyster or portobellos or any combination of)

1 each carrot and celery stalk, chopped

1 small turnip, diced

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried

2 tbsp no salt tomato paste

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

3 cups water

½ cup pot barley

1-2 bay leaves

1 can (540 ml) black beans or white cannellini beans or combination of

 

1. In a large deep pot, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic with salt until onion is soft. Add mushrooms, carrot, celery, turnip, thyme and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms.

 

2. Add the tomato paste and  vinegar; stir to coat the vegetables. Add stock, water, barley and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until barley is tender or after boiling, transfer to a slow cooker, set to low for about 3 hours.  Add beans and heat through. Remove bay leaf before serving with fresh ground black pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.

Is rice getting boring? Try something new…

My grocery list for Costco is pretty small with only a few very carefully selected items on repeat every 3-4 weeks. I go in with a list and get out with only the items on my list…at least most of the time.  I love rice and could eat it with a some steamed greens and other vegees several times a week, but everyone else at home would likely not be pleased with that kind of repetition.  My sister introduced me to this new product available at Costco, (here in Kelowna) Wildroots, Pearl Harvest Couscous, check out  http://wildrootsfoods.com/

It has Israeli couscous, red and green orzo, split garbanzo beans and red quinoa. So what exactly is couscous? Orzo? Quinoa? How do you cook it? Why should you try it?

Couscous is among the healthiest grain-based products. It has a glycemic load per gram 25% below that of pasta. It has a superior vitamin profile to pasta, containing twice as much riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate, and containing four times as much thiamine and pantothenic acid.

In terms of protein, couscous has 3.6 g for every 100 calories, equivalent to pasta, and well above the 2.6 g for every 100 calories of white rice. Furthermore, couscous contains a 1% fat-to-calorie ratio, compared to 3% for white rice, 5% for pasta, and 11.3% for rice pilaf

Orzo pasta is a type of pasta which is made in the shape of a grain of rice. Orzo pasta is often about rice-sized, as well.The word orzo is Italian for “barley,” and a reference to the size and shape of the pasta.

Red Quinoa is heart healthy and an excellent source of healthy fiber. It is rich in magnesium and folate B9 with 25% DV (daily value), a good source of protein, iron, thiamin B1, riboflavin B2, and vitamin B6, very low sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol free. Quinoa has the most complete amino acid profile of all grain, including lysine and threonine that are rarely found in cereal grains.

The basic recipe is on the back of the package..add 1 3/4 cups of Wildroots Pearl Harvest Couscous to 3 cups water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Our favorite way to finish off the basic recipe:

1 onion chopped

1 -2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (if olive oil packed- soak first in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then drian off liquid)

1/2 -1 cup chopped mushrooms

2 celery stalks chopped

  Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add onion. Saute until onion is translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms and celery.  Saute until soft, but not mushy. Add cooked couscous and saute and medium low heat for about 5-10 minutes stirring to ensure it does not burn. Serve topped with a fresh ground pepper, a little fresh chopped parsley.

The texture is wonderful, it tastes delicious and changes things up a little.

 

You might like to try the Wildroots Sprouted brown rice. The texture is also a little different and adds just something a little new to the same old brown rice. It’s natural, healthy and filling. Enjoy:)Sprouted brown rice