Monday, December 27, 2010

Straight up, with a twist - We're talkin' water!

Straight up - with a twist - I made sure to find the terms here first.

Instead of buying filtered water for work, how about using the Brita pitcher, the Zero pitcher, or even the Pur water dispenser.  These save the environment, as well as your pocket book, in the long run, and you can refill them at work.

This year for Christmas I received a water pitcher.  The plastic components in this pitcher are all BPA free!  It's also red which I love, it's my favorite color.

Mavea Water Filtration Pitcher

In going through the Medifast Diet I learned an easy way to figure out how much water you should be drinking. Figure what ever your weight is, and divide that number in half, drink that number in ounces each day.  It may seem like a lot, but when you increase your activity level and your fiber content you need to help flush your system out.  It also helps to keep you feeling satisfied when you reduce your calorie intake, along with helping your skin looking fresher and more radiant.  Keep yourself hydrated.  Drinks with caffeine actually dehydrate you, so those can not be counted towards your water goal, as well as soda type drinks which are just pure sugar and carbonation.  I learned in going to India as well as being on the swim team in high school, carbonation is not good for you.  It dehydrates you, and does not help you be the best in your athletic performance. 

Some related information:
If It's good for Kitty Acne it's good for your acne too!
Wonders of Water - many people can't tell hunger from thirst, so I disagree with their findings on the quantity of water that they no longer recommend.
Water may be a secret weapon in weight-loss
Benefit of Drinking water

I have also found a new BPA free water bottle, it was at Costco, and I'm a big fan of this one. Again, along with being BPA free it is spill proof when you put the lid on properly.  I have to have spill proof things.  It also comes in multiple colors, and it fits in my drink console in my car.

Contigo water bottle

There is no straw, you squeeze the neck and the top opens up.  The whole bottle is dishwasher safe, and there are no places for bacteria and mold to grow if you wash it properly.  The one with the straw had a habit of things growing in the mouth piece which is just disturbing.  The link takes you to Amazon, but like I said, I found mine at Costco.  It's a nice way to keep your filtered water with you when you are on the go.  It helps me remember how much water I've had through out the day, and it also helps me not go for the soda when I'm out and about. 

Find what works for you, but this is my new favorite bottle.

Remember that adding small amounts of fruit to your water keeps it tasting new and refreshing. Options include lemon, lime, orange, raspberries, strawberries, cucumber, mint...well you get the idea. You are limited only by your imagination, or lack of fruit and herbs. 
Stay refreshed!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It looks like I will have to try some Kale

Photo credit goes to:
For all of you who love to try new things, this is probably nothing scary or adventurous in trying a new vegetable or even re-trying something that previously you were not fond of.
I've tried kale before, but it was bitter, and not what I wanted to eat in my salad, so I've left it alone.  In fact I've never tried kale again. (insert frowny face here) I know I should, but I'm hesitant to spend money on a vegetable that I might just toss, and that is something to think about.  But I've been told that adding kale is something I should do, and now I'm seeing all sorts of my favorite bloggers talking it up.

Kale - Incyst link

Fare to Remember:
All Hail Kale Part-1
All Hail Kale Part 2 Obsessed
Call of Cauliflower part 3 cauliflower - with use of kale
Chipotle Prawn Tostadas - recipe uses kale
If you live in marin county ...

even Elana's Pantry loves kale

More than Burnt toast mentions kale

My Kitchen My Worldireland Potato Farls

So, my darlings, it would seem that I need to belly up to the bar as it were and give this leafy green another shot.  I will have to come back and share how it all worked out for me, I think I will try the kale chips first since those have received the best press thus far.  But seriously, take the time to check out the photo's at A Fare to Remember's site, she can make food look good.

Here are some other places mentioning kale, and kale recipes.

Top rated recipes from All Recipes

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Secret Spaghetti Sauce

Old Family Recipe - Spaghetti Sauce
Written by my mom - Julie

     Paul & I (Julie) met in 1970 at Olympic Jr. College, in Bremerton, Washington.  A year, maybe a year and a half later, we are talking about spaghetti his favorite food.  Paul explained how his Aunt and Uncle would fix this for him when he went to visit them and how much he liked it.  He also said that his family (I assume Peggie & George) had an old family recipe for Spaghetti that took all day to cook. It had a lot of special spices and tasted great.
     We married in June of 1972.  We as many newly married couples were on a budget and needed to watch pennies.  I fixed a lot of low cost recipes for dinners but spaghetti was not one of the meals.  Once in a while Paul would ask if I would fix spaghetti, and I told him he should fix it because he knew the recipe. This went on for several years.
     Around seven to ten years later, Paul asked again if I would fix spaghetti.  He was rather hurt, I knew that it was his favorite food and I had refused to fix the meal.  I again mentioned he knew the old family recipe, and I would be happy for him to fix it.
"What old family recipe?" I retorted, "the one that has been in your family for years and takes all day to fix!"
"What are you talking about?"
"What do you mean what am I talking about.  You told me years ago that you had a special old family recipe for fixing spaghetti, that took all day to cook."
"I did? We never had any old family recipe for spaghetti."
"I don't remember telling you that, is that why you never fix me spaghetti?"
"Well, why don't you find a recipe for spaghetti sauce that has a lot of spices and takes a long time to cook?"
     Actually now our budget could handle the extra spices, and I thought I remembered a recipe that I had found in "Spices of the World" by McCormick for a great sounding spaghetti sauce.  So I fixed it either the next day or by the weekend.  Paul loves it!
And ever since, we laughingly call it our "Old Family Recipe for Spaghetti Sauce."


This was written to be included in a family cookbook that my sister and I were working on, but my father did not want her to share the story.  She decided not to share it, but I am, not for the story itself but because it was from my mom. She died Dec 11, 2004 of congestive heart failure.  I love her and I miss her.

Here is the recipe as it ended up, changes were made from the original recipe, and I've made some since then.  My sister has also made changes to her version of the spaghetti sauce as well.  I do add more spices and things than are listed here, but I'll keep those as my secret.  I have made some notes of swaps, but I have not included the additional items that I now add.

Secret Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 pds hamburger meat - I use lean turkey meat most of the time, or a very lean hamburger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sugar - I use 1 packet of stevia
1/4 crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp season all
1/4 MSG - I never add this
2 bay leaves
1 tbls oregano
1 tbls basil
1 tbls parsley
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp (secret ingredient)
1 tbls Italian seasoning
4 6 ounce cans tomato paste
2 quarts water or 8 C's water
1 C red wine (optional)
1 C sliced olives
2 4 ounce cans mushrooms - I use fresh mushrooms that I've cooked
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook hamburger meat with the seasonings from the garlic powder to the msg (which I omit) when meat is cooked add it into a huge stock pot with the remaining ingredients minus the spaghetti or
grated parmesan cheese. Cover tightly and simmer 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and continue cooking until sauce thickens to desired consistency, scoop out the 2 bay leaves throw away. Cook spaghetti following directions on pkg, allowing 1 pound for 4 servings. Ladle sauce over spaghetti. Top with grated cheese and serve.
Makes about 3 1/2 quarts sauce enough for 4 pounds spaghetti, since you may not need such a large quantity of sauce you can freeze it for several months. 

Julie, Grandma Peggie, and Aunt Bessie

 No pictures of food this time, but the spaghetti sauce is great.  I really wanted to share the story above since it was the last thing that my mom wrote.  She and I used to write things together, funny stories and letters to my pen pals.  These are memories beyond just the story themselves, and I wanted to share them.  Today I remember momma.  This is the 6th anniversary of her passing and I miss her as much as ever, I just don't break out into tears every time I mention her now, except at night when I'm drinking tea and quietly thinking.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I love Nutella, have I mentioned that before?

I happen to love Nutella I found this love when I went to India and Mrs. Huldah Buntain brought some back, from one of her speaking engagements, for us to try.  There and then I began searching for this treat when I returned to the states.

Myself, Doreen, and Auntie Buntain - The gentleman in gold was throwing a 16th birthday party for his son

Myself, Mrs Higgins, and Huldah Buntain - My 19th Birthday dinner

Now my life has changed a bit, and my foods list is changed as well, and Nutella does not really fit in well.  I was browsing through Lexie's Kitchen, The Spunky Coconut, and Elana's Pantry and I can not remember who it was that mentioned Justin's Nut Butter as being a more healthy alternative.  I had been looking around, but it's not easy to find and Whole Foods is a bit of a drive for me.  I then remembered that Futter's Nut Butter sold chocolate nut butters as well as their regular nut mixes.  Futter's does not add anything but the nuts and the chocolate, no additional oil or sugars or preservatives, their products need to be refrigerated.  Now, I ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Butter I happen to really like this nut butter, but it is not easy to spread, and you will not confuse it with Nutella I did get the Justin's Nut Butter recently, and I love it as well. It spreads easy, and is shelf stable, so there are some extra ingredients in it.  You will not confuse it with Nutella either as it is not as creamy and smooth, or as sugary sweet, but it is good.  If you have children who have texture issues, be warned that Justin's is a bit gritty.  The Futter's Nut Butter is a bit gritty as well, once you get it warmed enough to spread on your bread.

I was then so excited to see InCyst post a link for a recipe as well. 

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Here is a recipe from Lexie's Kitchen and how she uses the Justin's Nut Butter on brownies.  There are just so many possibilities.
Lexie's Kitchen Hazelnut-brownies (gluten, egg, and grain free)

You never know how or where you will find treasures, and you never know when you will want or need to find alternatives for your treasures.  I know that these things in moderation are fine, but some days moderation is just a ridiculous notion.  Rather than set myself up for failure, I would prefer to find things that help me indulge without over doing it.  I know that some of your kids have already become fans of Nutella, and that texture issues make it impossible to switch it on them now, but for those of you who have not gone down that path, it is much easier to start them on something a bit more healthy.  I enjoyed a whole wheat tortilla with the Futters chocolate almond spread tonight, and it was delightful.  Hot tea, chocolate, and a movie with my hubby, these things bring that deep sigh and help me relax during these stressful moments before Christmas.  Find the things that help you unwind, and don't send you into a tail spin, and just enjoy. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Subway Highschool Heros

High school: Florin High School
State: California
Nominated by Jude L.
A hero MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Martha's "job" is to teach History but her attitude is to CARE for the care-less, give HOPE to the hopeless, to CHALLENGE every student to REACH HIGHER & she walks their path with them! She has achieved GREATNESS in lives.
This is a shameless plug for votes for Martha.  There is only so much they can put in these blurbs, but she does so much more for the youth that she teaches.  She encourages and inspires many many youth who need the motivation to do better in their lives.  Take the time to vote, and share with others, there are only 12 more days to cast your votes.
Thank you! 

Alternative Binding Agents

I'm sure that you have already been thinking of egg whites, and those are helpful unless you want to avoid egg completely.   Then there is the 1 tablespoon soaked in 3 tablespoons of water.  I have been looking for other alternatives as well.  It is always good to have backup plans an substitutes in cooking, just in case you run out of something.

Eggs of a Quail (Coturnix sp.), in comparison to a chicken's egg.
German description: Wachteleier (Coturnix sp.) im Vergleich zu einem Hühnerei.
  • Photo by: Mnolf
  • Date: 16.07.2005
  • Location: Rum / Tyrol / Austria
Eggless has many great suggestions and how to best use the different egg re-placers.
If eggs are binders in a recipe, it can be replaced with Arrowroot, Soy, Lecithin, Flaxseed Mix, Pureed Fruits or Vegetables, Silken Tofu, Unflavored Vegetarian Gelatin Powder (agar agar). The ratio is, for every egg replaced, 1/4 cup of the substitute is used.If eggs are leavening agents, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Baking Soda, Commercial Egg Replacement Powder such as Ener-G can be used.
If eggs are moisturizers, Fruit Juice, Milk, Water or Pureed Fruit can be used.

Egg SubstituteQuantityBest Suitable ForHow is the result? Based on the information provided in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Cooking Free: 200 Flavorful Recipes for People with Food Allergies and Multiple Food Sensations by Carol Fenster. 
Silken Tofu
Substitute ¼ cup of whipped silken tofu for each egg.Rich, dense and moist cakes, cookies, breads and browniesBaked goods won’t brown as deeply, but they will be very moist and heavy. 
Flaxseed Powder
Whisk/blend together 1 teaspoon of flax seed powder with ¼ cup of water for each egg to be replaced. Flaxseed has a nutty flavor, so it works best that are grainier and nuttier, such as waffles, pancakes, bran muffins, breads and oatmeal cookies. Best in dark colored dishes.The baked goods are heavier, dense. 
Pureed Fruits (mashed bananas, applesauce, apricots, pears, prunes)¼ cup for each egg. Increase leavening by 25-50%. Bake items slightly longer, if necessary.Cakes, quick breads and brownies. 
Vinegar and Baking soda1 teaspoon of baking soda along with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar and white distilled vinegar can be used.Cakes, cupcakes and quick breads. 
Buttermilk, Yogurt or Baking SodaIf there are no other ingredients to make the baked item rise, then one of these can be used in place of the egg. Replace the liquid in the recipe with same amount of buttermilk or thinned yogurt. Replace baking powder with ¼ as much baking soda.cookies, bars and flatbreads.
Commericial Egg Replacer Powder (like EnerG)Whip together in a food processor or blender 1 ½ teaspoons powder and 2 tablespoons water. Sometimes 2-3 times as much powder in the same amount of water gives better results.All baked goods, especially cookies.Flavorless, won’t affect the taste of the baked goods.

Potato Starch

Potato starch is the active ingredient in many commercial products such as Ener-G egg replacer and Orgran No Egg natural egg replacer. Potato starch provides leavening, or a rising, effect in baked goods. Potato starch, which is tasteless, comes in a powder form that must be mixed with liquid before adding it to a recipe. Other starches, including cornstarch and xanthan gum, also can be used to replace eggs as binders and thickening agents in baked goods.

Pureed Fruit or Vegetables

Applesauce, mashed bananas and pureed pumpkin can all be used to bind bread or muffin dough. Approximately 1/4 cup of puree is equivalent to one egg. Applesauce and other pureed products also have the added benefit of providing appropriate amounts of liquid for each replaced egg.


When egg is used in a recipe to bind together a dough, unflavored gelatin may be an adequate, though tasteless, replacement. Gelatin comes in powdered form and must be mixed with a liquid. Approximately 1/4 cup of gelatin equals one egg as a binding agent.

Baking Soda

At times, egg-free products can be dense after baking. In recipes that include baking soda as a leavening ingredient, additional baking soda may provide a more airy texture. Similar effects can be seen with liquid leavening agents such as yogurt or buttermilk. Replacing eggs with egg substitutes in recipes requires patience and experimentation.
Homemade Egg Substitutes
All these homemade and easily accessible egg substitutes, can be used as a nice fill-ins in cakes, pies, cookies and food products, where eggs are used as fillers and binders.
Flax Seeds
This is the best egg substitute used for baking. Flax seeds have great nutritious value. Flax seeds contain a reasonable amount of the alpha-linolenic acid, which is a very useful cure for the inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, arthritis and many such diseases. Flax seeds also contain a chemical, named lignans, that helps to prevent cancer. Flax seeds can be used in both whole as well as ground forms. You can replace one egg by mixing the flax seeds in water in 1:3 ratio (1 spoon of flax seeds and 3 spoons of water) to make a gelatinous batter.

Potato Flour
Potato flour is made of the cooked, dried and ground potatoes. It is a good form of egg substitution as it is totally gluten-free. Potato starch, mashed potatoes, etc. are also good egg substitutes. To replace one egg you can use some potato flour, ¼ mashed potato or two tablespoons of potato starch.

Applesauce is also pretty useful as an egg substitute. You just have to use the unsweetened applesauce. ¼ cup of applesauce easily replaces one whole egg. It helps the allergic people to enjoy the baked recipes, as well as the weight-watchers, because it helps to make fat-free recipes.

Mashed bananas can serve as good egg substitutes. One medium sized banana replaces one egg.

Commercial Egg Substitutes

Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is used as a rheology modifier and a food additive. It is made from the fermentation of glucose and sucrose, with the help of the exoskeleton of the bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris. The Xanthun gum is a white powder, used as a binder to enhance the texture of egg-free cakes and milk-free ice creams. The amount should be one teaspoon per recipe.

Soybean Lecithin
Lecithin is a class of animal tissue phospholipid that contains esters of glycerol, one molecule of phosphoric acid and two molecules of long-chain aliphatic acids. The lecithin in egg yolk is replaced with soybean lecithin. It is used as an additive and emulsifier in many food products. It works as a wetting agent that makes it, a good egg substitute, even though it must be used in amounts of about one percent of the total weight of the recipe.

It is a good example of the commercial egg replacers that are easily available in the market. They are relatively less flavored and can be used in baking cakes, muffins etc.

Other Egg Substitutes
  • Egg is also used as a leavening agent. So, to replace one egg you can use the mixture of one tablespoon of vegetable oil + one tablespoon of water + one tablespoon of baking soda.
  • Egg white is used as a glaze on some recipes. For the purpose you can use beaten margarine. It proves to be as good as the beaten egg white.
  • When using as a binder, you can use two tablespoons of powdered gelatin + one cup of boiling water.
  • One tablespoon of smashed Tofu and a tablespoon of water, can prove a good egg replacement.
  • Cornstarch, arrowroot starch, vegan custard and chickpeas also work as egg substitutes.
The choice of egg substitutes may depend upon the dish that you are cooking. There are many options available, so choose the best and the most comfortable substitute. Above all, it becomes highly important to read the labels of the ready to eat food products as even the products that are said to be egg substitutes may contain eggs.

With such a wide range of egg substitutes, you really don't need to sacrifice your urge to eat variety of foods by worrying about the egg allergy.
By Rutuja Jathar

So here is a good start, and you can find more on the website.   
Okay, so it's not a sexy post, here but it is informative.  In using coconut flour many many eggs are used for a binding agent, and if you want to replace one or two of them you need alternatives.  If you have an egg allergy you really need to know that there are options.  I'm fond of eggs, and I use them often as well as egg whites, but I do know that there are others with concerns or sensitivities to them, including our vegan friends.  Personal convictions are included in sensitivities in my book, and should be held in high regard.

PCOS and other health concerns do not need to slow down your love for baking or good food, and not all substitutes taste awful, find the things that work for you and keep good notes on your recipes so you never forget them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Banana & Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins

 I have been traveling and getting ready to travel for a while.  The drive to my sisters was long and cold.  Normally the trip take 9 hours, it took 16 hours.  I had many, many thoughts on the drive here to think of all the funny titles, and things I could say about our trip, things like "have you hugged you're tires today?"  Inspired by our many times putting chains on our tires, and taking them off in bellow freezing weather.  Yes, I've hugged a tire, and I didn't like it.  Yes, the trip has worn me out, and I'm a bit punchy.  The good news is, I made treats for our journey, and they were delicious.  I combined two recipes, and made a delectable treat.  The only thing is, after putting chains on and off your tires a couple of times, you just can't get that rubber smell off your hands with wipes. So, we come to my sisters house with treats to share, and they were well received.

Banana Coconut Flour Muffins
Pre-heat oven at 350 F degrees.

1 - Mix coconut flour and baking powder (put it in separate bowl.)
2 - In a mixing bowl, beat eggs gradually, and then add milk, honey, coconut oil, butter, vanilla and salt.
3 - Continue mixing.
4 - Then add the coconut flour with baking powder and mashed bananas. Blend well.
5 - Grease 12 muffin cups with coconut oil.
6 - Fill greased muffin cups with the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Yield: 12 muffins

These are exceptionally moist and delicious.  I'm sure that agave could be used in place of the honey and quite possibly eliminated or reduced, depending on your desired amount of sweetness.  Just make sure that if you eliminate it, to add in more milk or banana to make up those three tablespoons.

I baked these for our long drive, and loved them so much I made more once I got there. I let my friends and family try them, and they loved them.  These muffins even had to be hid from the kids in order to save them for the party so that others could enjoy them.  We had a great time, and miss everyone we saw during our visit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner's, we have two days of celebration

Our first celebration is with my husbands family, and we all get together on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. 

This year I have a tripod, and was able to get all of us in the photo.  We had a great night, and I brought sweet potato dishes to share, and a green lettuce salad.  This is much more of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, with all the sweetened foods and such I took the first sweet potato dish for the family, and so that my husband would be happy. The second was for me, and something that could be converted if we ran out of the first one and I had to dump marshmallows on it and serve even more to the crowd.  It was not necessary, but they both turned out good and everyone was filled with good food.

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

Top this lightened version of the classic sweet potato casserole with both marshmallows and toasted pecans. (For more classic dishes, visit our sweet potato recipes collection.)

Yield:  16 servings

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
Cooking spray
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°.
Place the sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain; cool slightly.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla). Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Fold in 1/4 cup pecans. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans; top with marshmallows. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden.

CALORIES 186 (27% from fat); FAT 5.5g (sat 2g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.9g); IRON 0.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 8mg; CALCIUM 23mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.1g; SODIUM 272mg; PROTEIN 1.6g; FIBER 2.5g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007

Brown Sugar-Glazed Sweet Potato Wedges

Make this tasty brown sugar-glazed sweet potato side dish up to two days ahead, and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat at 350°, covered, for 20 minutes or until heated through; if desired, finish the dish under the broiler to recrisp the edges of the sweet potato.

Yield:  12 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in half crosswise, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, water, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Discard cinnamon stick. Combine sugar mixture and potato wedges in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Arrange potato mixture on a large jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until tender, stirring after 20 minutes.

CALORIES 182 (19% from fat); FAT 3.9g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.2g); IRON 0.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 44mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.1g; SODIUM 211mg; PROTEIN 1.7g; FIBER 3g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2004

We then traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.  My sister this year has a brand new house, and she hosted the crowd at her place.  It was festive and fun with everyone there.

There was now room to set up another Norman Rockwell type photo, so we stood by the fireplace for this one.  The kids had their own table, so only one of them joined us in this photo.  He does not like to leave his mothers side.  

This is the salad I made for this Thanksgiving dinner.  My sister already had the yams taken care of.  She cooks them with butter, and sprinkles them with cinnamon, hmmmm yummy.

Quinoa adds vegan protein and heft to simple green salads- perfect for lunch or a light supper. Use pears or apples in this recipe- either one will work.

First you'll need to make the quinoa:

1 cup organic quinoa
2 cups water
Sea salt

Place the quinoa in a saucepan or a rice cooker. Add 2 cups fresh water, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and cook on a low simmer until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender- roughly 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and dump it into a large salad bowl.

For the salad you'll need:

2 good handfuls of organic baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
1 large ripe pear, washed, stemmed and cored, cut into pieces (I've also used craisins)
1/2 cup chilled chick peas, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of pecans, pan toasted and salted to taste

For the Maple Vinaigrette Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar (I've used Rice vinegar once & White Balsamic both were good)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Whisk together.

Add the baby spinach, pear, chick peas, and chopped parsley to the quinoa and fluff. Pour on the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.

Just before serving, add the toasted pecans and lightly combine.

Makes four main course servings, six side dish servings.

This recipe was found on the, her pictures are amazing as well.  But this side dish has just become a favorite of mine.  I have made it again for dinner with cranberries instead of pear, since I did not have pears.  This is very very good, and versatile.  I tried it because it incorporated so many things that are PCOS friendly, and I was delighted to see that it was well received at the dinner.  My husband was the only one that only liked it, but was not wanting seconds, everyone else wanted more.

Instead of doing a full turkey, we do the turkey breasts at our second Thanksgiving.  These were delicious!

My step-mother brought a delicious cranberry salad.  This is very easy. Toss cranberries into a blender, an orange, and sweeten to taste.  She used some sugar, last year we used some stevia, use what ever sweetener you prefer, just blend it all together.

Here are the rest of the kids, enjoying their meal, although I did seem to be interrupting their conversation.

We also brought our dogs, and introduced them to my sisters new puppy.   Some moments were good, others were not.  Little patch was all puppy, and wanted to play all the time.  Mandy was rather feisty with him, poor thing.  They did do much better later on in our visit, but there was a bit of an adjustment period.  Bear and Mandy are quite protective of anyone else getting attention from us, or touching us, or people wrestling, or pretty much anything to do with us. So there was barking and following us around everywhere.

Here is Patch, I was unable to get one of all the dogs together.  They were quite mobile and so were the kids.  There are many other things to share about the trip, and I will be posting one about our journey there, but I will post these in intervals.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin and PCOS - Thanksgiving treats

Picture from Gluten Free
     Pumpkin Pie Smoothie - Gluten Free Easily

    (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free + More Free)

      1 cup pumpkin puree, chilled (fresh or canned)
      ½ cup full-fat coconut milk, chilled
      ½ cup filtered water
      1 sliced, frozen ripe banana
      1 tbsp almond flour (optional) (I would use coconut flour instead)
      1 tbsp hemp seed (optional) (I don't have these, and would just omit this)
      A tablespoon or two of honey, to taste (or other sweetener, agave, stevia, etc)
      ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, or more to taste
      Prepare glasses by dipping rims into shallow bowl of water and then cinnamon.
      Combine all ingredients in blender. Cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds.
      Pour into prepared glasses or pint-sized Mason jars as I did.

This recipes was highlighted by InCyst today, and since I have lots of pumpkin to use up I may have to make a shake tonight.

     Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream - Elana's Pantry
      ½ cup cashews (raw)
      ¼ cup coconut milk
      2 cups roasted pumpkin, or other squash (learn how to roast pumpkin in 10 easy steps!)
      1 ¼ cups water (I would use more coconut or cashew milk to make it creamier)
      ½ cup agave nectar
      1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      1 tablespoon cinnamon
      1 teaspoon ginger
      ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  1. In a Vitamix (blender) combine cashews, coconut milk, pumpkin, water and agave
  2. Blend ingredients on high speed until smooth
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
  4. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to instructions
  5. Serve
Now this one from Elana's Pantry is nice, but thin. It is more like a sorbet, and I was hoping for something a bit more creamy.  Luckily she included links to others posts and recipes, and this one sounds delicious, although not dairy free or vegan, if that is what you are looking for.  Next time I might even add in the heavy cream in place of the water.

More From Elana's Pantry - this one was found in the notes, and uses coconut flour! I'm a fan of coconut flour, and I'm glad to see recipes popping up using it in seasonal favorites.

     Pumpkin Cookies

         1/4c butter, softened (or coconut oil)
         1/3c pumpkin puree
         3 eggs
         1/4c agave
         1/2tsp vanilla
         1/2c coconut flour
         1/4tsp salt
         1/4tsp baking soda
         1 1/2tsp pumpkin pie spice

     1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
     2. Combine wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
     3. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl.
     4. Blend or whisk dry ingredients into wet, making sure no lumps remain.
     5. Let batter sit for a couple of minutes to thicken. Dough should be soft but hold its shape when scooped.
     6. Scoop dough onto parchment-lined sheet, about 1" scoops.
         Cookies will not spread much during baking.
     7. Bake 17-20 minutes. Cookies will be set and very lightly browned.

It should be noted that Monika brought to my attention that Almonds have plenty of Omega 6 in them, so it does add up over time, and we need to focus more on getting our Omega 3's, you can also read up on it here.

"You can make flour out of any nuts with your food processor. You may want to mix up the nut you choose since almond is high in omega-6 and that will add up over time. Try pecan for the holidays!" - Monika

Well, have a great time celebrating and being thankful. I will have more posts on food, and celebrations to come.  We get to celebrate twice every year! So how wonderful is that?  Luckily our celebrations are very different. One is much more the "traditional", cream based type foods. The other is much more like a fall roast, with the foods being very unadulterated. Those recipes are much easier to post, example. Cranberry side, one bag of cranberries, one orange put in blender, and puree. Mix in Stevia, or honey to taste (this is generally still very tart).  The sweet potatoes are similarly made, by cutting into chunks and sprinkling with cinnamon and baking, add a bit of butter (or Brummel and Brown) as desired.

I found this free e-cookbook over at the Baking Beauties

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes, and tips for Holiday eating.

Posted: 18 Nov 2010 12:00 PM PST

Martha Stewart has created a Free Thanksgiving Cookbook to download!  It’s got great photos (I hate cooking without a picture) and some recipes that I definitely want to try, namely the Sweet Potato Gratin, with granny smith apples and bread crumbs on pg 37, by Wolfgang Puck!  It’s a 63 page cookbook, which works out to $0.00 per recipe.
Click here to download the Thanksgiving Cookbook!  Thank you to the Krazy Coupon Lady

Here are some tips I received from my Medifast Coach, these are good things to remember even if you are not doing Medifast, swap a 100 calorie meal for the medifast meals noted below, of course keep them low carb too.

Thanksgiving Tips!
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to remember all of the things and people we have been blessed with, but somehow it became more about food. We come together and eat, then eat more oh yeah then we eat some more! The next day we regret how much we ate because the scale tells the story and we feel miserable. Was is worth it? Are you ready for a change? By choosing this program you made a decision to start changing your habits so that you can have a long and healthy life. So lets continue down that road and make this Thanksgiving different then it has been in the past.
Facts:* According to the National Institutes of Health, the average American will gain seven pounds this holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. The stress of the holidays combined with the continuous presence of fattening foods makes healthy eating difficult to achieve during this time.
*According to the National Institutes of Health the average number of calories consumed by one person during a typical holiday dinner feast is 7,100. This underscores the problems many Americans will face managing their weight this holiday season.
*Many Americans wait until New Year's to begin their weight loss resolutions - after they have already put on additional holiday weight. "By using Medifast's quick, easy-to-use meal options, people will be able to begin working on their weight loss goals now and look great by the New Year."
Fact Source: PRNewswire
Thanksgiving isn't the only time of the year that you are surrounded by unhealthy food. This is a great time to start changing those habits so you can be successful in making healthy decisions on a daily basis.
Following are some tips to help you stay successful on your journey to health!
Before the "Big Day"
1. Get the right mindset. Please take the time to do the following 3 things:* Identify your eating triggers: This is the first step. Put it in writing. By keeping a food and feeling journal in your Support in Motion you will realize how you are feeling. By staying in touch with yourself and your emotions around different events you will know what your food triggers are.
* Read Chapter 3 of Dr A's Habits of Health and do lesson 3 in Living a Longer Healthier Life.
* Stay in touch with your Health Coach ~ he/she is there for you!
2. During the Holiday, make your goal to maintain your weight and not to gain any! Lesson 5 of Living a Longer Healthier Life takes you through the steps of setting goals. If you haven't done this, then talk to your health coach and get started. Having this goal will help you stay on track and make healthy decisions through the holiday.
Be positive. Focus on your health goals and choices and you will avoid cravings and regrets.    
4. Holiday traveling, don't forget to pack your convenient Medifast meals! Put your Medifast meals in zip lock bags and use them as cushion around items in your suitcase. Bring a cooler of fresh vegetables and water whenever possible.
5. Tell your friends and family ahead of time about your goal to eat healthier this year. Be prepared with what you are going to say. Example of how to say it "I have begun a program that is teaching me how to make healthy choices and get control of my health again. I would love it if you would support me in my journey and not be offended if I respectfully decline some of the food. Would you mind if I brought some food to help out?" Talk to your health coach to practice how you are going to say it.
Participating in the "Bid Dinner"It is extremely important to be very aware that "dinner" can pack thousands of calories that we would not normally indulge in. 1. Continue to practice your healthy eating habits. Do not skip meals or save calories for the "big meal". That sets you up to overeat!!!
2. Make sure to have a Medifast supplement before going to a meal or gathering (about two hours before eating)... ALWAYS plan ahead. That way if dinner is served late then you are okay.
3. If going to dinner at someone else's house, offer to bring an appetizer and side dish. That way you can be sure there will be healthy choices for you. If you are throwing the party, have lots of vegetables available, instead of chips only. Prepare lower fat dips and offer salsa. Explain to your guests in advance your determination to make this a healthier holiday celebration, and ask them to keep this in mind when preparing any dish they may be bringing. If you are in MAINTENANCE, bring fresh fruits like diced apples, pears, and strawberries for a dessert choice, if that will help your program.
4. Make Lean and Green compliant dishes to share. Example: Creamed cauliflower instead of potatoes, roasted vegetables, If in Maintenance then bring healthy rolls (sour dough, whole wheat or pumpernickel are best) , low sugar dishes, fruit..... Talk to your coach for more ideas.
5. Be watchful of your portions. Dish up your plate then sit down. Try not to sit close to the food if it is on the table. Maybe suggest they set it up buffet style. Then the table it not so cluttered and you won't be tempted to have more.
6. Beverages: Limit high calorie beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies, and blended coffee drinks or skip altogether if indulging on a particular dessert. There are nearly 150 calories in one 12-ounce can of soda or juice. Smoothies and coffee drinks are often
250-500 calories, excluding the whipped cream. Alcohol is packed full of calories and carbs. It can also lead you to lower your goals and overeat or make poor food choices.
7. At the event, choose healthy foods and stay away from the chips, bread and sugars as much as possible.
8. Always have a meal replacement or beverage (healthy) in your hand so you are not as inclined to reach for the appetizers as they pass on by.
9. Remember to eat slowly, which will help you to eat less and feel full and satisfied.
Dessert Time1. Remember to STOP CHALLENGE and CHOOSE (lesson 3 of Living a Longer Healthier Life.)
2. If you are in the
WEIGHT LOSS STAGE of the program then bring your favorite meal replacement for dessert time. Dress it up. Maybe top your brownies with a little bit of cream cheese (regular would be a healthy fat serving, low fat would be a condiment.) Or take some of your soft serve ice cream! (Make it ahead of time and put in freezer.) Or add sugar free syrup to your pudding.
3. Make a "Medifast" dessert to share! There are some great recipes online. If you need some ideas just call your coach.
4. Take a sugar free drink or diet soda with you!
5. If you are in
MAINTENANCE then allow yourself one dessert per social event, and stick to this decision no matter what. It would be best to follow the "3 bite rule" for desert.
6 If when you get to the party, and you find yourself wanting more then one dessert, ask yourself immediately what you really want, and maybe have that favorite.
7. Freeze your favorite dessert. If you are in the weight loss stage and there is a dessert your really want, but you don't want to mess up your weight loss then freeze it and have it after you have reached your goal.

After the "Big Dinner"

1. If the holiday party is at your house, send some of the left-overs home with your guests, especially the desserts
2. Plan active play dates instead of the movies where you would have a tendency to sit more and ask for "junk foods." Take some time for exercise (if you are at that point in your journey.) Choosing to "take a day off" on a day the you may eat a little extra may end up working against you. Incorporate it into your time with family - walk, play sports......
3. Get enough sleep. Remember if you don't sleep well your body will produce chemicals that make you crave food when you are not really hungry! (Please see Dr A's Habits of Health chapter 17.)
4. Remember the reason for the Holiday and focus on 'fellowship' and not on 'food'!
5. Habits are habit forming... People form habits but habits transform people!

Let's Take Shape for Life! Let's transform our thinking to become choosy about what we eat. We can act out our choices and form our habits of health, by selecting healthy foods and planning to integrate Medifast foods as part of our "prescription for life"! Have a Happy Holiday!!!!

Grace ParksCertified Health Coaches

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can you say...Murder?

I've been planning this last weekend for some time, and I love having friends over.  This party turned out quite a bit different than how I had envisioned it, very very different.  I have been thinking about whether I wanted to post pictures, or share this experience with the world, but I thought about the similarities between the planning for this party and my plans for life.  Neither one turned out how I planed, but the party was a great success and we all had a great time, and then I thought that's how my life should turn out as well. In the end, there should be laughter and although different than planned, it can be a wonderful experience.  PCOS knocked me for a loop, I was diagnosed after being married to my husband for three years.  This was not something I thought I would ever have to deal with, I had never had issues with loosing weight, but all the other signs were there but no doctor could figure out what was going on with me.  I have always been a positive person, although there are times when I have dark moods.

I've been reading others battle through this diagnosis and feel hopeless, and that is just to much for me, it would swallow me whole thinking that there was nothing that could be done.  I've been doing what I can to eat right, and exercise and just listen to to the wisdom of others. As you can see there are recipes and things that I have tried, and there are others that I don't like and have not posted.  I'm still unsure about the Shirataki noodles, praised by Hungry Girl, but I may grow to appreciate them eventually. 

So, back to the party. I had invited three couples, about a month in advance.  One of the husbands was immediately unable to come, and I was making adjustments to read the extra part for him.  Well, closer to the event another husband dropped, and then finally the night before the final  husband dropped out from sickness.  His wife found a replacement, and I had found a replacement for the previous player, both of these replacements were female.  This left my husband to be the only male playing a male character, and the rest of the party were all female.  He was also coming down with something, and so I left him bow out and rest.  Finally the night of the party and it was a girls night, we had a great time talking about all sorts of things beyond the Murder Mystery Characters and were quite comfortable with one another.  The evening was fabulous and now I'm looking at doing another.  The plans of mice and men sometimes go awry, and then we make the best of it and make it work.

And now another disaster, my computer didn't download all of my pictures from my camera but wiped the card clean, so I have lost all of the pictures that I did take that evening.
Here are some links to find Murder Mystery Games.  We played The Last Train From Paris.

How to Host a Murder Mystery Party Game

The Last Train from Paris

Last Train from Paris Murder Mystery Dinner Party Game

Dear Friend:
      It seems that the German troops are about to enter Paris. The roads south are a hopeless snarl. The trains are full, and one cannot find space aboard them. Yet to remain in the city under Nazi control will not be pleasant.
      This letter offers you what may be your last chance to escape.
At 5:00 p.m. on 13 June 1940, a government train under military guard will depart platform 7, Gare d'Austerlitz, for the relative safety of southern France. Attached to this train will be a private Pullman car and dining car. The accompanying transit authorization will see you past the military guard and on board.
      I do hope you will come.
      Who am I? Well, for the time being, I will not tell you. Think of me as someone much like yourself, a citizen of the world. There will be eight guests. I have listed them all below and, as you can see, they are a distinguished group. I will make it a party of nine.
      Do bring proper attire. We will dine elegantly. Our chef is the man who made travel by train a delicious experience, Master Lester ("Les") K. Arrgowe. Oh yes, each of the train cars has its own name: the lounge-dining car named "Délice" and the Pullman sleep car named "Désire."
      Don't be late. Miraculously, the trains are running on time.
     Number 9


A well-traveled and worldly individual, Mr. Ageante is seldom home in the British Isles due to the necessities of business travel. Distinguished, impeccably dressed and courteous to a fault, he is welcome in the finest hotels and restaurants in Europe. Yet there is an aura of mystery about him, and no one seems to know exactly what his business is or why he travels between Berlin and Paris with such regularity.
Costume Suggestions: Crisp, 1940s-style suit and briefcase.
A royal refugee driven to Paris by the advancing German troops, Princess Idelle is the sole surviving representative of the ancient and noble Chattre family. Those European rulers descend directly from Nonnes Taupe Chattre, who, in 1124, at the head of an army of fierce Northern tribesmen, conquered and carved out a small, heavily wooded land where his descendants now live. Despite her youth, Idelle is aware that she alone carries on the family line. Strong-willed and quick to anger, she is quite beautiful and, it is said, possessed of considerable family wealth safely invested overseas.
Costume Suggestions: Regal but not without style; jewels; crown and scepter might be a bit overdone, but acceptable.
"Mal" is a soldier of fortune. Restless, cynical and secretive, he is well-known in Paris society; it is whispered that for some undisclosed reason, Mal cannot return to his home in the United States. Some say he killed a man; some say it was an affair of the heart; others say he makes his living in the active and thriving black market of Continental Europe. Whatever the truth, Mal is a welcome participant in Paris high society where his worldly toughness stands out against a backdrop of leisured affluence.
Costume Suggestions: Gangsterish; dark shirt and suspenders, white tie, fedora.
A journalist for a large metropolitan U.S. newspaper, Mary has lingered in Paris to send the true story of the war in Europe home to her readers. She has interviewed men in the street, soldiers and generals, ministers of state and celebrities. Her articles are published in metropolitan papers across the United States under the byline Mary Trairie, but those who know her past remember her as little Mary Kohn, daughter of the late Augustus Kohn, journalist, publisher and newshound. It was Augustus who said, "There's them that wants news and there's them that wants truth. Don't ever confuse one with the other." Mary was briefly married to a young city editor named Harold Trairie, but it didn't last. She has kept Harry's name, feeling her father's too austere.
Costume Suggestions: Tailored, possibly a man-style suit; no frills; steno pad.
Known to his men as "Wey," Capt. Awfcorce is a pilot of renown. His squadron of Laklustre Bombers is likely to prove one of the most formidable armaments available to the British Armed Forces. Shot down on a reconnaissance mission over Germany before hostilities commenced, Wey evaded capture and made his way to Paris, and is now trying to return to England. Born of English nobility and educated at Oxford, Wey epitomizes the strength, endurance and noble character of that island race.
Costume Suggestions: Flying jacket, scarf and goggles.
Barbra may be described in a few words - "rich, spoiled and beautiful." Daughter of the late French perfume king, Louis Z. Enhussie, she was brought up in extravagance and has carried on the tradition of the Enhussies in all respects. Châteaux Enhussie, on the outskirts of Paris, and Barbra's luxurious apartment in the city, are centers of lavish social activity. Everyone who is anyone is a regular at Barbra's.
Costume Suggestions: Something frilly and flowing; dripping jewels; a fur.
Another royal victim of the German advance, the Duke fought his way through enemy lines to reach Paris. His own small army in tatters, he and a few hand-picked men succeeded in bringing valuable information concerning German troop disposition to the French High Command. The Duke remains a hero to his now captive people, the sturdy peasant stock of the region known as AlzŠse-Laverne. He is a man of noble bearing, schooled extensively in military matters and a swordsman of considerable talent. Young to be the leader of even so small a nation, the Duke is not married and is considered to be one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe.
Costume Suggestions: A regal military uniform with sword; horse optional.
A "couturière extraordinaire" is the way Belinda is described by her wealthy clients. Usually she just blushes and responds, "Really, I'm only a simple dressmaker," but those in the inner circle of Paris society know better. Owner of a thriving high-fashion studio, Maison de Screete, this clever and well-educated American has thrust her way into the Paris fashion world. More than a caterer to the patrons of high-fashion, Belinda participates in that society as actively and as well as any. Vivacious and charming, she is a frequent guest at the mansions and châteaux of wealthy and influential citizens of Paris.
Costume Suggestions: Extremely stylish or, at the other extreme, extremely dress-makerish (pins, thread, tape measure, scissors...).

Of course I can not tell you who dunnit, that would be cheating!

Other games can be found through these links:
Dinner and a Murder

Murder Mystery Games

Murder Mystery Games UK

Mystery Game Central

I know how to set a proper table, my mom drilled it into my head growing up, but for those of you who did not have mothers like mine here is a link to a site that will show you the proper ways to set a table:
Table Settings with cheat sheets My home
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