Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pumpkin alfredo pasta

I don't have a picture of the final product because I ate it too quickly, it was that good, so I will link you to the recipe on Manifest Vegan.  Seriously, it is that....freaking.....good.  It's like eating pumpkin pie pasta.  I loved it.  Dimitri loved it.  Paulo loved it.  Rene?  Well he thinks pumpkin should only be in a pie, but he ate it.  It is also very simple and quick to make, which is a huge plus on a weeknight.

Here's the scoop:

Cook your favorite pasta, I used GF rice spirals.
Combine, in a food processor, the following:
  • a 12 oz package of extra firm silken tofu
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Drain the pasta, drizzle olive oil on it, add the sauce and mix well until you get your right sauce to pasta ratio and eat...and then wish you had made an extra box of pasta.

The author recommends adding pecans on top, I didn't have any pecans so I used walnuts, they were a lovely addition.

So go, what are you waiting for?!  Make this dish now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bento lunch

The lovely, creative, Bento Mom posts a weekly What's for Lunch thread where readers can share what they've been sending our munchkins off to school with.  This is my first time participating.  It's for an excellent cause though, the more people post their bento lunches the more food she and her husband will donate to their local food bank-an excellent cause, hunger in America is astoundingly high and it affects men, women and children across all cultural and regional boundaries-it especially makes me sad to think of the children going to school hungry.  So here goes!

Paulo's lunch for today:
1 black bean tostada with olives, orange cherry tomatoes and avocado.
carrots and green olives
Coconut yogurt parfait layered with GF cereal, fresh blueberries and Trader Joe's dried strawberries

Sweet and savory side salad

We had a little family gathering last weekend.  It was my job to bring something with fruit, that was my only criteria.  I had cantaloupe on the counter, ready to be consumed so I based this dish around that fruit. 

To a large serving dish add:
1/2 cantaloupe, thinly sliced
2 green heirloom tomatoes
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
the juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt to taste

Allow to sit for at least an hour, mix well before serving.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Corn pancakes

We love corn pancakes here. I used to get the Jiffy box of corn muffin mix and cook those up as pancakes. The Jiffy mix is very sweet though and I have not looked at whether it's ok on the elimination diet Paulo's on. So last Sunday, after a full week of being pestered for corn pancakes by my 6 year old, I made these instead. They were a hit! Quick and easy to make and very light, I will definitely make them again.

Corn Pancakes (gluten free, dairy free, egg free)

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup GF flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup plain rice milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the milk and oil.  Mix well and cook as usual.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Keep It Simple Sweetie

Thursdays are a very long day for us in the Rodriguez household.  We leave our house by 7:25 for our commute to school and don't get home until about 7:15 because Paulo has soccer practice.  I decided to put my indentured servant to work for me and started dinner before I left the house.

Actually I started the process the night before.  I precut two yams and one sweet potato, two apples and one onion.  Then I tossed them in the fridge.  Took me about 5 minutes including scrub time.

In the morning I dumped them into the crock pot and seasoned them with sea salt, cinnamon and garlic powder and plopped a half dozen bone in chicken thighs (partially frozen, that's the beauty of the crock pot, it doesn't care if you remembered to defrost your meats!).  I turned it on low...and left.  When I came home all I needed to do was wash hands, put napkins on the table and plate the food, dinner was served!  Ah, the crock pot, I love my crock pot!  Hot dinner ready with roughly 10 minutes of prep time, that is the beauty of the crock pot!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1 out of 3

My morning news does a question of the day.  Today's question was "1 in 3 teenagers reported doing this, and the number is declining".  My immediate thought was sending snail mail.  Rene's was actually talking on the phone.

I was a little taken aback by the answer.  1 in 3 teenagers report eating with their parents!  So, only 33% of kids are eating dinner with their parents?  Really?! 

Having a regular family meal is important.  I know we're busy, I know our kids have activities, parents work nights, swing, anything they can to get by.  But it makes me sad that the family dinner table is becoming the stuff of myth and legend.  We're busy too, some nights we take the divide and conquer approach, i.e., Paulo eats with me and Dimitri with Rene.  But they each eat with one of us and 9 times out of 10 they're eating with both of us. 

We've made it a priority for our family and for information why click here or you can click here or even can click here.  There is no shortage of information out there on why it's important to sit down with little Timmy and Susie at the end of the day and debrief.  Ask questions, listen to the answers and provide feedback.  It might seem odd if you're one of the millions that have not been practicing the family meal but believe me it is worth every second of the effort you put in.  And like all new habits it gets easier and easier every time you do it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fruits and Veggies

I read a short article last Friday that stated that Americans are consuming less fruits and veggies.  Less.  Despite all the campaigns, all the awareness, all the common sense, we're consuming less.  This is one fairly easy and inexpensive way to ensure your health, it definitely costs less than high blood pressure medicine or a heart bypass.  It benefits all areas of your life.  Particularly Cancer prevention.  If you knew that simply eating more fruit and vegetables would prevent your untimely and painful death why not do it?  What's the hold up?  I do not get it.

According to the research roughly 1/3 of Americans consumed fruit or fruit juice at least twice a day.  1/3, 33%, of all of us?  We're a big Country-no pun intended-and only 33% are eating fruit at least twice a day?  I love fruit, I have a huge sweet tooth, and fruit is my go to for satisfying that.  There is always fruit in my boys' lunch boxes, sometimes two different kinds.  And fruit is a star in my green smoothie.

Again, according to this research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of Americans ate vegetables three or more times a day.  Almost 1/4 of our population is eating their vegetables.  How exactly do we expect our children to eat them if we're not?  We're big salad eaters here, well I am, and since I cook the boys have to go along for the ride!  Adding a nightly salad to the dinner table will increase your family's consumption and with relatively little effort on your part.

The other thing that jumped out, and alarmed, me was that according to last year's study the most popular form of fruit was orange juice and the most popular form of vegetable was potato.  Now I love a good french fry as much as the next guy but potatoes do not supply your body with all it's needs!  As for juice, honestly I hardly ever drink it.  I had a glass of OJ last weekend for the first time since....well I don't know was ok, not very satisfying though, I prefer the orange. 

In the interest of increasing all our consumption I'll share one of the lunches from last week, conveniently packed in a lunch boxes to go container

PB&J on Dave's Killer Bread.  Diced watermelon.  Fresh red bell pepper, carrot sticks and sugar peas.  I'm not mean, there's dessert, homemade mini muffins, two oatmeal raisin and one cocoa muffin

And another salad.

Baby spinach
Green lettuce
Roma tomato
English cucumber
1/2 of an avocado

Dressed in a tangy chile lime dressing that I borrowed from the recipe for Jalepeno Lime Kale Slaw. 

We can do better than 33% eating enough fruit and 26% eating enough vegetables.  We can do better than the most popular form of fruit being served with a straw and the most popular veggie dipped in ketchup.  It is not a mystery why we must do better.  You need only look around at the mall to see what's happening to our Country.  We must do better, not only for ourselves but for our children.  Increasing your consumption of fruit and vegetables will make a difference in your health.  You can make it easy.  You can make it fun.  You can make it tasty.  Just make it, and eat it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oatmeal raisin muffin

My oven has been getting a work out these past couple of weeks!  I have a freezer full of mini muffins and sandwich buns for Paulo.  I wanted something that made me feel fall-ish though so yesterday I baked these oatmeal raisin muffins.  As a bonus, they are oil free, of course diary and egg free.  I used oat flour, and for the sake of disclosure, I did not buy the certified gluten free oat flour-I'm walking on the wild side I suppose.  I bought the oat flour from Bob's Red Mill, so there was a cross contamination risk.  I thought about that after I was done baking them.  If however you are concerned about gluten contamination then by all means spring for the certified gluten free oat flour, I've seen in-at roughly triple the price. 

  • 1/3 Cup each of sorghum, brown rice and oat flours
  • 1/4 Cup each of tapioca and potato starch
  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1/3 Cup raisins
  • 1  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 1/2 Cup applesauce
  • 1 Cup vanilla rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix wet ingredients together in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Fill your muffin tins 1/2 way full and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Raw Lunch

I started a raw food challenge last Friday.  My commitment is not to eat 100% raw, you get to decide what your goals are, but to eat raw breakfast, lunch and snacks.  Dinner can be cooked, at least partially, but I still want mostly raw even at dinner time.  I find that I feel energetic and calmer when I up my raw food intake. 

In honor of this challenge I am posting yesterday's lunch:

Diced apple, diced cucumber, radishes and kalamata olives dressed in my homemade mango cilantro dressing with fresh, juicy watermelon on the side.  I was STUFFED!

I've also been busily baking more loaves of bread and sandwich buns for Paulo.  On the agenda today is oatmeal raisin muffins! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cocoa nutbutter muffins

Mini cupcakes

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoon ground flax
1/2 cup cocoa

Combine in a large bowl and set aside.

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup nutbutter (I used sunbutter due to peanut allergies in school)
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1 1/3 cup rice milk
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup applesauce

Combine in a small bowl, mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.  Spray a mini cupcake holder and add batter. 

The chocolate chip artist in action

Decorate with dark chocolate chips and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan then remove and let them finish cooling on a wire rack. 

Enjoying the fruits of his labor

The continued quest for bread

I love my honey oat bread and plan to make many more loaves of it.  But to be honest I've had difficulty with the rising of the bread.  I wonder if it's because I have to sub out the eggs for silken tofu, I also wonder though if I wasn't using the wrong size pan.  I read that if you want to use a 9x5 pan then you should double the recipe.  I had no idea!  I will try the honey oat bread recipe again using my old 8x4 and see if that doesn't help.

In the meantime I found a vegan bread recipe that did not require any substitutions.  I tried it out early this week.!  It works perfectly!  I had high hopes when I saw how beautifully it had risen and even had a sharp crisp edge develop as it lifted itself out of the pan.  I also tried a new method for the rising.  I had read on another blog about a steam method.  Take a clean towel, soak it, wring it out and warm it up in the microwave for 60 seconds.  Place your bread pan on the towel and shut the door.  Check on it later, reheat the towel if you need it to rise more.  Worked great. 

I was really excited to see how the bread had baked.  Nice and crispy, pretty brown color, that wonderful hollow thunk when you tap the loaf.  I set it aside and said a little prayer to the bread Gods that the loaf not fall during cooling. 

They answered my prayer.  My loaf did not fall.  My spirits were lifted.  I CAN do this!  Woo hoo!!

Sliced into that beauty after it had fully cooled to make my son a PB&J sandwich.  That is a pretty loaf of bread!  Taste and texture are both very similar to gluten full bread.  Paulo gave it his stamp of approval and declared "bake more of that bread Momma!"  Ok Paulo, I will!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Size matters

I've heard that one of the things that has contributed to our obesity problems is size.  Size of entrees.  Size of sodas-double gulp anyone?  Size of appetizers or desserts that are consumed by one but designed for sharing.  Size.  Even the size of our plates.  I had also heard that to lose weight try eating from a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.  A glance in my cupboard tells me just how much smaller my salad plates are than my dinner plates, and don't get me started on the bowls, they're enormous.  As I was putting dishes away Sunday morning I had a very vivid reminder of how our plates have increased in size right along our own societal increase in size:

The plate on the left is my salad plate.  It measures 9" across and has an eating surface of 5" across due to the decorative border-which let's face it can easily hold a nice piece of bread perched on it!

The plate on the right is a dinner plate made by the Crown Potteries Company that was in business from 1902-1962.  It is no less than 48 years old and easily much, much older.  It also measures 9" across but has a slightly larger eating surface of 6".  This plate was considered the standard size for a meal and can easily hold all the food that your body needs to consume in a single sitting-that's not to say that some wouldn't pile it high and come back for more, but having a smaller plate to fill might be a helpful visual cue for those that are trying to lose weight. 

If size does matter, and a smaller plate would be a good visual cue for you, perhaps a trip to your local secondhand store would be helpful.  I stocked up on mismatched dishes before hosting a dinner party last June, I no longer wanted to go the paper plate route, I wanted pretty dishes, I have three or four mismatched sets now, all varying degrees of antiques, all cute and all much, much smaller than the dinner plates that fill my cupboards. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Potato salad a la Krista

I had a little BBQ gathering last night.  We had the traditional burgers and dogs, with some veggie burgers thrown in for good measure, Rene requested a potato salad to go with dinner.  I, like most Americans, have eaten more than my fair share of potato salad.  It's comfort food, summer food, American BBQ food.  But it can be a little heavy.  I wanted something a little lighter but still with good flavor. 

4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 Sweet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 bunch of celery, finely diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup Veganaise
1 lime, juiced
5 slices of marinated jalepeno, finely diced
Cilantro, leaves removed and roughly chopped

  • Put the spuds in the pot, add enough water to cover by an inch, salt the water and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender, but not mushy.
  • Drain and rinse.  Add to the celery and onion.
  • Combine the Veganise, lime juice, chiles and cilantro.  Add non dairy milk, enough to make 1 cup of sauce.  Salt to taste and add to the veggies, tossing well to coat them. 
  • Chill until ready to serve, stir the veggies prior to serving. 
What's your favorite way to eat potato salad?  Are you a purist or do you break out of the mayo box?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Survival skills

For a lot of the Country school already started.  With school also comes the wave of activities.  Dance class, Tae Kwon Do, soccer, football, etc., etc., etc.  My own boys start school this month, one of them has already started soccer practice and the baby starts practice next week.  This means the end of my carefree summer.  No more leisurely mornings of breakfast and going to the gym.  No more laid back evenings for cooking.  Nope, things are going to get a lot more hectic in the Rodriguez House.

One of the ways I keep my sanity is to use my beloved servant.  I've heard it referred to actually as an indentured servant.  A kitchen item that many of us have but do not use often enough, if at all.  I'm talking about the crock pot.  I have two.  One is ancient, it was my Mother's.  The other is newer, shiny with a sleek black insert.  I actually use the old decrepit one more.  I use that one at least once a week.  When I was first together with my husband I attempted to make a pot of beans, or frijoles, on the stove.  It did not go over well, I made a huge mess, it boiled over all over my burners.  I was disheartened.  I did not try again.  I relied on canned beans-he's Mexican we eat a lot of beans so that got rather costly.  As time went on my Mother in Law shared a new discovery with me.  She'd, of course, always made beans the old fashioned way-the way I did not seem capable of doing!  Then she realized she could use her crock pot to make frijoles.  The crock pot!  Even I couldn't screw that up!  The trouble with the old stove method really was that you needed to keep an eye on it and frankly I didn't want to.  So she shared with me how to make them in the crock pot and I've been doing that ever since, at least once a week, sometimes more.  Now I will share with you!

  • Sort the beans, remove any broken pieces and stones-seriously look for the stones you do not want to bite into one!
  • Place sorted beans in a colander and rinse well.
  • Pour them into the crock pot and fill with water, I usually go about an inch below the top.  Turn the crock pot on low and walk away.  For about 8 hours.  Seriously you can leave the house.  You can clean the house.  You can go to bed.  Most of the times I do this before I leave for work but sometimes I do it before I go to sleep.
  • When the beans are almost done cooking salt the pot to taste, do not add salt too early I'm told that makes the beans "tough".
  • Heat a frying pan with olive oil.  Add one whole serrano chile and one wedge of onion to the oil when it's hot and let it sizzle.  Pour all of that, including the oil, into the beans and stir. 
Now you have the world's simplest, and one of the most nutritious, side dishes at your disposal.  This works with any dried bean.  Black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, anything your little heart desires.  If you have time and foresight you can sort them and soak them overnight, I've heard that takes away some of the less desirable side effects of the mighty bean.  Just drain the water in the morning and add fresh water before you cook.  If you have less time you can cook them on high for about 4-5 hours.  If you're not a vegetarian you can add ham bones or bacon to the pot, the sky's the limit!

What to do with your beans now?  Serve them whole.  Smash them and fill corn tortillas.  Mix them with eggs for breakfast burritos.  Add them to salad.  Add them to corn muffins.  Mix them with quinoa.  Whatever you decide to do cooking them in the crock pot will save you tons of time and that's something we all need as school restarts and the kids get busier and busier.

An amazing resource for inspiration if you're just getting started in the use of this dear, but somewhat intimidating, appliance is A Year of Slow Cooking.  The author decided to use her crock pot every single day for an entire year.  She has recipes for anything under the sun and tells you how to cook it while you're out of the house.  She even tells you how to cook an entire chicken in the crock pot so you can stop running into Costco for their rotisserie chicken on the way home from work.  I've used that recipe a couple of times and it's really good.  The chicken stays moist, the spices give the right flavor, and best of all I don't have to even think about it while I'm gone.  I know my beloved crock pot is cooking dinner for me.  All I have to do when I get home is finish up a couple of sides and get it on the table.  Another bonus for this website, it's gluten free.  Obviously you can gluten up the recipes if you want to, but hers are all written gluten free. 

Here's my challenge, dig out your crock pot, dust it off and use it-at least once-next week.  Then come tell me what you made-I'm always looking for dinner inspiration-and enjoy a stressfree dinner with your family!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Salmon and side

Side....not really sure what else to call it!  If you can think of a name for my dish, tell me! 

I made salmon last night.  We really love salmon.  The fish was very simple. 

2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together, pour over fish, add more sliced limes to the top and bake at 400 for about 12 minutes, depending on thickness.

The side dish was a bit more involved, but still very simple and quick to make, the whole thing took less than 30 minutes.  I had previously cooked a pot of navy beans and also had precooked millet and quinoa in the fridge from dinner the night before.  You could use canned beans but having the grains already cooked is a huge time saver!

To a hot pan add:

1 clove garlic, finely diced
4 stalks of kale, stems removed, pieces torn

Saute until kale is a beautiful bright green.  Add:

Left over grains
Precooked beans, with juice (about 1/2 cup)

Simmer on low, season with coriander and oregano.  Remove from heat and add one diced tomato.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mango avocado salad

Labor day is coming, add some fresh fruit to your BBQ table!  This is a very quick, easy and delicious side dish that compliments grilled meats well.

Spicy mango avocado salad

2 mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, diced

Combine in a bowl, to a blender add:

2 tomatillos
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2-1 serrano chile, remove the seeds if you don't want it spicy!

Blend together and add to the diced mango and avocado, toss well to coat.  Sprinkle with salt to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.