Shopping and Cooking for 2…

You know that the transition to shopping and cooking for 2 has not fully been embraced when icecream is left on the dessert plate. Served together with a delicious first time recipe “Pear and Hazelnut Cake” the icecream was inedible tasting like the ‘freezer”.

A quick survey of my freezer, pantry and refrigerator revealed that I am still buying in “bulk”. I’ve decided that my efforts to buy less since there are less mouths to feed really hasn’t tranlated into reality yet. I have been cooking less in terms of portions always having some leftovers in the freezer for the day I come from work and don’t feel like cooking but I still have way too much food in the house. Truth be told, some gets wasted and thrown out because it is stale, has mold growing over it, is out of date or “tastes like the freezer”.

I have a plan. I need to start meal planning again. Meal planning helps reduce waste because I shop from the plan and cook from the plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I usually only meal plan supper though when making my grocery list I add the staples that I know fit into breakfast and lunch.

So this week this is what I planned…Monday- Black bean Quesadillas with guacamole and applesauce on the side. Tuesday– Red Lentil, Sweet Potatoe/Carrot Curry with Coconut milk and Green Peas, served with Sprouted Brown Rice and Naan Bread. Wednesday– Leftovers. Thursday– I am going to try a new pasta dish with whole wheat fettucini, a simple sauce made with olive oil, ground almonds, basil and garlic from Jamie Oliver’s Italy cookbook and serve it with steamed asparagus, broccolini, toasted garlic bread and a caesar salad. Friday– Vegetable Stir Fry including carrots, cabbage, onion, celery and Kale with Sweet and Sour sauce, tofu marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds served on a bed of Sprouted Brown Rice and topped with sunflower sprouts and lightly toasted raw cashews. Saturday– Work Christmas Party. Sunday– Red Pepper and Onion Frittata served with a large side salad with walnuts, sliced pears, cranberries, avocado and shaved carrot topped with Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing.

That’s it. Most of what I planned for this week’s menu was taking into account what I already had in the refridgerator, pantry or freezer.  All I needed to buy this week was lettuce, red peppers avocados and a few breakfast and lunch staples.

Cooking for 2 has not been that hard but shopping for 2 has proved to be more of a challenge. Always mindful of getting “the deal” buying in bulk has been the standard.  I have been known to say more than a few times that ” a deal is not a deal if you don’t need it“.  That same line could be applied here where ” a deal is not a deal if it ends up in the garbage”.

Bulk buying is going to be a thing of the past for me. I am going to stick to buying only what I need for the week, limiting even what I “stock up”. I may even have to shop more than once a week.

There is still lots to buy local. Check back to see what is still available at our local Farmer’s Market! You will be surprised.

Pear and Hazelnut Cake

 1 ¾ cup whole spelt flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp grapeseed or organic canola oil

2/3 cup soy milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup maple syrup

1 cup pear, sliced into quarters (cored and grated)

Topping:

¼ cup hazelnuts, finely ground

¼ cup organic coconut sugar or sugar cane

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Garnish:

½ pear, peeled and sliced into thin wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg into a bowl. In a separate large bowl,  whisk together the oil, soy milk, vanilla,  lemon juice and maple syrup. Add the grated pear and stir well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a fork gently, do not beat. Pour the batter into an oiled 8 inch springform pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake batter and then arrange the pear slices around the edge of the cake in a circle.  Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Test with a toothpick being sure it comes out clean. Cool slightly then remove from springform pan onto a cake serving plate. Serve still warm or cold with a scoop of your favorite vanilla iced dessert. Enjoy!

Keep it simple…

It has been a while since my last post.  While thinking about what to write about next I realized that  we eat quite simply. I have shared many of our favorite recipes and for the most part I stick to doing pretty much the same thing. I have been close to ending my blog but then I bump into someone who encourages me to keep at it, that they check in regularly and love it. So…..I will endeavor to keep it going, with one simple thought each time and  a recipe we love.

FISH……….

We  still eat fish, though only about twice per month. I still am not sure where I stand on this issue, it’s one of those, should we or shouldn’t we? Is it healthy or is it not healthy?  When we do eat fish I make sure that I spend the money and buy fish that is oceanwise approved. See the link if you are not sure what that means.

http://www.oceanwise.ca/about

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/HB00087

 

Our serving size is limited to about 4 oz or the size of a deck of cards.

Broiled Salmon or Artic Char with Herb Mustard Glaze

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tbsp dry white wine

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp honey

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp whole-grain mustard

pinch salt

fresh ground black pepper

In a mini food processor combine the garlic, herbs, wine, oil, honey,  Dijon and 1 tbsp of grainy mustard. Grind until the sauce is combined. Transfer to small bowl and stir in the remaining tbsp of grainy mustard.

Preheat the broiler. Line the bottom of a heavy baking sheet with foil. Brush with a little olive oil. Place the fish on the baking sheet, skin side down, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the fresh ground pepper. Broil for about 2-3 minutes. Spoon over some of the mustard suace and continue broiling for another 5 minutes. Add more sauce and broil until the fish is just cooked through.  This can vary depending on the type of fish and how thick the fillets are. I have found it can take anywhere from another 2-3 minutes to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the fish as it cooks. The sauce may start to burn.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges on the side, with a large salad and dinner is served.

 

 

 

Juicing and a Friday morning tradition…

As promised in my last post, I was going to talk about Juicing.  It is something I have thought alot about, read alot about and spent considerable amounts of time researching juicers. I even invited myself over to a friend’s place with a friend, who has juiced alot and had her demo her juicer and favorite juice combinations. It was impressive but seemed like too much work. Too much time to clean the machine, too noisy,  too much waste, (the pulp) and some of the “healthiest” combos just didn’t taste that good.  But…I accidently came across a juicer in a new favorite kitchen store here in Kelowna(Lakehouse) where they were making samples available to customers. Delicious and simple, apple and carrot. By the time she showed me how easy it was to clean and how quiet it was I was sold. I splurged.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXTEPUggyuw

Now I realize most of you won’t be running out to buy a juicer anytime soon, but I have been juicing now for a little over 3 weeks. First thing in the morning, before coffee or breakfast and  before my workout,  I quickly juice varying combinations of fruit and vegetables.and we each have about 4-8 ounces. I am not going to say that I notice any great new burst of energy or better skin or any other noticeable health improvement yet, but I do feel good about getting a quick shot of nutrition into my body first thing in the morning.

Speaking of first thing in the morning..we’ve all heard it said “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I really do believe this to be true. We have kept it pretty simple with a standard repeat every morning of the week except Fridays.  I decided about 9 years ago that Friday would be our special treat breakfast alternating between pancakes, waffles and French Toast.

I found a new pancake recipe, my search was inspired by a local restaurant.  Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. A delicious break from the norm. We all love Fridays, enough to come back home for:)

BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL PANCAKES

 ½ cup whole spelt flour

2/3 cup fine cornmeal

2 tbsp coarse stone-ground cornmeal

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup plain greek 0%fat yogurt

1 ½ cups soymilk + 1 ½ tbsp vinegar added

1 tbsp grapeseed oil

1 egg, bring to room temperature

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

toasted pecans (optional)

Coconut oil for cooking

 

Measure the dry ingredients and stir them together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl lightly whisk the egg, then add the yogurt, the “soured soy milk” and the oil.

 

Combine the wet and dry ingredients gently until just mixed. Do not overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 5-10 minutes. (Don’t skip the last 2 steps!) It will be a bit runny.

 

Heat a griddle on medium-high heat. Brush just a little coconut oil on pan. Use about 1/3 cup per pancake and cook until  a few small bubbles appear on the surface, drop  a few blueberries into the batter, When  the edges look a little dry, flip the pancake over and cook just a little longer..the berries will begin to release their juice. Serve topped with a few more blueberries if you like, a small handful of toasted peacans  or just a little pure maple syrup.  Delicious!

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.

Soups On…fresh tomatoes, red wine… Minestrone Soup

This soup is worth the effort, especially now when the ingredients are all fresh,  local and in abundance!  Tomatoes… I think I planted a few too many this year, though there is nothing that tastes so wonderfully fresh than a tomato! I have diced and measured out many bags for the freezer already and I know I will be glad when January rolls around and grocery store tomatoes just don’t taste like tomatoes anymore.

I hope you enjoy this Minestrone recipe.  The wine adds something special:)

Speaking of wine, we are off on our very first Bike Tour to the Napa Valley in California. We will cycle (yes, on peddle bikes) an average of 65 km per day on rolling hills through vineyards, see the redwoods and do a little wine tasting. Can’t wait:)

 

MINESTRONE- SERVES 6-8

 

2 cups cannellini or white kidney beans, fresh, canned or dried and soaked overnight

2 bay leaves

2 fresh tomatoes, squashed ( I use a potato masher)

2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in half

Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

4 small red onions or 1 large walla walla onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped (large chunks)

4 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped

1 head of fennel, chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 small bunches of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated (finely chop the stems only)

5 cups fresh Roma (or a combination of) tomatoes diced or 2 cans of good quality no sodium added  plum tomatoes

4 small zucchini, quartered and sliced

2 glasses of red wine

1 good sized bunch of swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly chopped including stalks

4 cups vegetable stock

4 oz dried whole wheat spaghetti pasta

Grated Romano cheese, to serve (optional)

Your favorite hot sauce

 

  1. Beans- Cover the dried cannellini beans with a generous amount of cold water in a bowl overnight. (make sure the water is at least 2 inches above the level of the beans). In the morning, drain the water and put beans into a good sized pot with fresh water, again covering them with water by at least 2 inches. (If you are using fresh or canned cover with water- start now)  Add the bay leaves, squashed tomato and potato. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour (less if fresh or canned) or until tender and soft but not mushy. Keep an eye on them making sure there is water always covering them, and check by tasting after about 25 minutes to see if they are done. Drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water, and remove and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Season with the salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil and set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, heat a glug of olive oil in a stock pot and add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely chopped basil stems. “Sweat” on low heat, with the lid left ajar for about 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the diced tomatoes, zucchini and red wine and simmer gently for another 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add the chard or spinach, vegetable stock and the seasoned beans. Put the dried spaghetti pasta into a plastic bag and gently bash with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Add to the soup pot. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is done.
  4. If the soup is too thick add a little more stock or the reserved bean cooking water to thin it down. Season to taste with a little more salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Serve with torn up Basil leaves, a little grated Romano cheese and a few drops of hot sauce. Yum!

Quinoa salad… this is a good one:)

This is a very yummy quinoa salad…There are lots of recipes out there to try. I found this one and made it for lunch today. It was easy to make. I prepared it this morning before work. While I was eating breakfast, I had the quinoa cooking, soaked my oil packed sundried tomatoes in boiling water& toasted the almonds. Then after a bike ride and showering I finished the rest. (I already had corn on the cob leftover in the fridge.  I served it on some greens, and had a big, crunchy, local in season Honeycrisp Apple for dessert!  Click on the link below and enjoy:)

http://inpursuitofmore.com/2012/09/24/recipe-super-powered-super-protein-quinoa-salad/