Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Eat Better

 You can eat better.

Healthy Burger with Onion Rings
You can eat better burgers…

Nutty Crunchy Veggie Burger recipe here

 

Thin Pizza with Arugula

and better pizzas …

 Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto recipe here

 

Strawberry Smoothie

and better smoothies …

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie recipe here

 

Pineapple Icebox Dessert

and better desserts.

Pineapple Ice Box Dessert recipe here

Here are some ideas of how to get started making changes.

1. Decide it's important to you and start thinking about what eating better looks like.  Most people know at least a few things that they are indulging in that is unhealthy for them.  

Although there are many fad diets, here are some healthy-food ideas that are commonly agreed upon by many reputable sources:

* whole grain products are more healthful than processed white flour products 

* fruits are good for you – raw is more healthful than cooking or adding sweetener, cream, etc.

* vegetables are good for you and are best cooked with little or no added sweetener, oil, salt, gravy, etc. –  flavor can be added by using spices

* natural foods are more healthful than processed foods

* oatmeal is one of the most healthful foods to eat for breakfast

* dried fruits and nuts are more healthful snacks than chips, cookies, 

* eating less meat and dairy than the typical American diet is a good idea (Read Eating Animals by  Jonathan Safran Foer)

* getting more of your protein and calcium from plant-based foods is becoming more widely accepted to be  more healthful (Read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II)

* you should eat as little sugar as possible (look up the episode called Sugar on 60 Minutes which aired  twice in 2012).  Also, sugar is sugar is sugar – that means honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, high fructose  corn syrup – it's all processed sugar and can lead to chronic illness and disease (look at this WebMD article on sugar)

* restaurant meals oftentimes has an astoundingly crazy amount of fat, salt and sugar compared to the same foods you would make at home (read Cook This, Not That by David Zinczenko)

2. After reading and thinking about your particular situation and your family's, decide on a strategy.  For example, if you feel that drastically changing your diet is too much, and the above reading has your head spinning, make your healthful changes in small steps. Start with the easiest changes.  Remember, everything is relative. 

3. Psyche yourself out. If you really know you need to eat better, but you are just in a vicious cycle, look at it from a different perspective.  From the Pride perspective:  How do Americans look to other cultures who are poorer than us, but eat healthier, because they have kept the same eating habits of their ancient ancestors who eat healthy, plant-based foods?  From the Anger perspective: How many large corporations are getting rich off our laziness and lack of knowledge about food? They try to trick us, through marketing and packaging, hiding facts about their products that we wouldn't buy if we understood the truth.

4. Stop trying to fool yourself. Is carrot cake good for you because it has carrots and raisins in it?  Are all yogurt products good for you no matter how much added sugar they have? Is a cheesy, chicken, potato chip casserole good for you because it has chicken in it?  Be honest with yourself.

5. Freeze stuff. Find out what healthier foods you want to make, and if you dont' have time to cook from scratch everyday, figure out what meals (or partial meals) you can make ahead and freeze.  Just thaw the night before and cook.  You can freeze homemade soups, healthy sauces for rice or noodles, nutrient-packed smoothies, veggies, pesto, herbs … an endless list.

6. Be prepared. Once you are eating better, the times you are most likely to eat poorly is when you are not prepared.  You're hungry at work at 3:20pm and you don't have heatlhy snacks.  You grab a bag of chips or  eat your co-worker's leftover birthday cake. 

7. And last but not least, give it time. Depending on your commitment, your personality, and personal situation, it could take you anywhere from 6 months to 6 years to meet your goals.  But if it saves you from chronic disease, then it's worth it.  Right?

Cute Dog Pictures

I'm cheating by posting cute dog pictures instead of a recipe.  But if you want a dog biscuit recipe, here.

Lessons from Gracie …

One Eye Open

Always sleep with one eye open.

Dog with Treat on Nose
Keep your treats handy at all times.
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A hair of the dog does not help a hangover.  Just chill.
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Even if you're really sweet, try to act serious and menacing.  See, I'm practicing. It's hard.
Dog Playing with Bubbles
Practice your bubble play every day for years.  Eventually you will be able to balance a bubble on your nose and the tip of your ear at the same time. It's worth it.

Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute

Quinoa with Sauteed Zucchini, Red Pepper, Tomatoes

I only learned of quinoa in the last 10 years or so.  As more people are becoming vegetarian or at least eating less meat, they are looking to plant-based foods high in protein.  

Speaking of plant-based protein, I recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD.  It's about a 20-year study of the effects of certain foods on the body, especially the relationship between certain foods and chronic disease.  Bottom line, a plant-based diet is best for our bodies – eat no animal products (meat, dairy) or as little as possible, and as little refined carbohydrates as possible.  

I also just watched (for the second time) a 60 Minutes episode on the effects of sugar on our bodies.  Has a direct relation to chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney problems, etc.

Quinoa Cooked in White Wine and Vegetable Broth
Meanwhile, back at the quinoa … like any other grain, in can be very plain if you just boil it in water. So it helps build in flavor if you use broth for the cooking liquid.  In this recipe, I also added a little white wine.

Quinoa with Hot Curry Veggie Saute
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES ONE SERVING

3/4 cup vegetable broth 
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup quinoa 

1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Pinch or two hot curry powder to taste (I used Penzy's)

Rinse the quinoa well.  Put the broth and wine in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Put quinoa in and stir, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot in a little oil over medium heat.  Add in mustard seed, if using, and stir around a minute.  Add squash and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and curry powder and stir until heated and tomatoes are softened.  Taste for seasoning, adding a little more curry powder if desired.

Serve the vegetable over the quinoa.  Enjoy while hot.

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping

Pasta with Black Beans and Toasted Bread Crumbs and Onions

 

Pasta and Sauce with Black Bean & Toasted Bread Crumb Topping
Compliments of JennaDish

original recipe

MAKES 2 GENEROUS SERVINGS

8 ounces fresh pasta (mine is from Bouchard's at Findlay Market)
2 cups pasta sauce (I used Muir Glen's Organic, Cabernet Style) 
2 cups toasted bread crumbs (mine is from Blue Oven's Spelt Bread, ground and toasted)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 

Saute the bread crumbs in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  After crumbs are heated, add the beans to the pan to heat up.

Meanwhile, heat the pasta sauce in a sauce pan, and cook the pasta according to package or vendor instructions.

Drain the pasta, serve in a bowl, top with sauce then the crumb/bean mixture.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes

Panzanella
Panzanella Salad

This salad, like most, is highly adaptable.  My first tip would be to use a dense, strong bread, in order to stand up to the saute and the liquids. 

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Other than that, substitute a fresh veggie (think Italian) that seems to make sense, for a veggie you don't have.

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I had some little pear tomatoes, so I used those instead of more peppers.  I also didn't have cucumber so I used a few of my fresh, homemade pickles.  If you're a pickle-lover go for it.  If not, nix that idea and sub something else.  It's too strong of a taste if you aren't thrilled with tangy pickles.

 

Panzanella with Sunflower Seed Bread & Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Ina Garten on Food Network.com

MAKES ABOUT 3 to 4 SERVINGS as a side

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups of 1" cubes of sunflower seed bread (or any dense, whole grain or sourdough bread)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 to 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used 1/3 cup fresh pickles)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 yellow pear tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 Tablespoons capers, drained

Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber (or pickles), red or yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.  The salad tastes even better the next day.

Almond Milkshake with Peanut Butter, Banana & Oats

 Almond Peanut Banana Oat Shake

If you are thinking of drinking a plant-based milk to replace cow's milk, try Almond Milk!  It's full of calcium and other nutrients, and even the unsweetened version tastes like a very thin milkshake.

Tastes great on Frosted Mini Wheats.  I know!

But it's also great as the base for a healthy breakfast shake. A healthy shake might have milk, a fruit or two, a little sweetener, wheat germ, an herb or spice …. but I had not heard of putting rolled oats in a shake.  But I guess it makes sense.  If wheat germ is ok, why not oats?

I got the oats idea from a recipe in my new cookbook that Alyssa bought me for my birthday, Big Vegan by Robin Asbell

 

Almond Milkshake with Peanut Butter, Banana & Oats
Compliments of JennaDish

MAKES ONE SERVING

1 to 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
1 frozen banana
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/8 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract (optional)

Put all ingredients in a blender.  Puree for a minute or so.  Serve immediately.