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    • Peek into my Pantry

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    •  9/3/2010 5:00:33 PM
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      I thought it might be fun to take a snap shot of everything in my kitchen and pantry.  I got embarrassed about how unorganized everything looked and decided to make a list instead!  The items in my kitchen change from week to week (especially with the garden vegetables) but it at least gives you an idea of the kinds of things that I stock my kitchen with.  The list is just what I happen to have today.

       

      I am one of those people that likes to keep my pantry completely stocked.  If I know I don't have a can of black beans for example, it will  drive me nuts until I purchase it (even if I am not planning on using it in a recipe any time soon).  I am kind of anal when it comes to my kitchen, and I always want to make sure I have everything that I "might need"....you know...just in case

       

      So please don't feel like in order to eat a plant-based diet you need to go out and buy the grocery store.  Start simple and then slowly ease your way into exploring new foods.  I also really like to cook and I love to try new things so some of the things on the list might seem a little foreign.  You'll  also notice from my list that I have a slight obsession with oils and vinegars (to make those salads a little more exciting)!

       

      My fridge probably looks a lot like the average person - ketchup, pickles, apple sauce etc.  The only differences might be the Veganaise, the Vegan butter (Earth's Balance), and my latest purchase of Tofurkey lunch meat (my kids have been asking for turkey sandwiches and don't mind the substitution).  My cupboards are also filled with regular things like baking soda, tortilla chips, and Ramen noodles.  I definitely don't consider myself that different from anyone else.....just an ordinary Mom trying to feed my family the best way I can!

       


       


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    • Vermicelli Salad Bowl Recipe

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    •  8/25/2010 10:21:09 PM
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      My sweet sister introduced me to Vietnamese and Thai food.  She has a great taste for delicious ethnic flavors.  One of the first dishes she recommended to me was the Vermicelli Rice Bowl.  I was in heaven from the first bite.  The great thing about this dish is that it perfect for vegetarian and meat-eaters alike (just throw on some grilled shrimp or chicken and voila).  It has the freshness of a delicious salad (due to the lettuce base) but also has noodles as the "meat" of the dish.  It is just the right combination of flavors for a fantastic meal.

       

      The thing with this recipe is that it is more of a list of ingredients rather than actual measurements.  You are basically just preparing each plate with an amount that you choose.  Here is a basic list:

       

      Chopped romaine lettuce

      A large handful of bean spouts

      A large handful of Rice noodles (found at any Asian store)*

      Carrots, julienned

      Cucumber, cut matchstick style

      Chopped mint leaves

      Chopped cilantro**

       

      * I had an Asian chef teach me the secret of "3" when preparing the noodles.  3 minutes in boiling water, then 3 minutes resting in the water with the heat turned of and then 3 minutes rinsing with cold water.  This will give it the perfect consistency without the sticky starch.

       

      **in the picture above I decided to put the freshly chopped herbs directly into the dressing.  The taste was fine, but the herbs looked soggy and didn't distribute evenly.  From now on I will put them directly onto the salads.

       

      Dressing:

       

      1/3 cup fresh lime juice

      1/3 cup water

      1/4 cup fish oil

      1/2 TBS chili garlic sauce

      2 TBS agave nectar

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    • A Better Banana Bread - Hooray!

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    •  8/18/2010 7:38:21 PM
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      The smell of  freshly baked Banana Bread is just one of those things that instantly triggers my salivary glands.   The only problem is that it is often not a guilt-free pleasure.  I fiddled around in my kitchen and came up with this FANTASTIC recipe (if I do say so myself).  I fed it to my hubby and although he knew there wasn't any butter in it (well duh), he did agree that it was pretty delicious!

       

      Since I am super picky about my bananas - which leaves about a 48 hour period to consume them - my pile of frozen bananas has been growing in my freezer.  By the way, click here to make sure you never waste a ripe banana again!

       

      A Better Banana Bread!

       

      Dry ingredients

      1 cup whole wheat flour

      3/4 cup rolled oats (I prefer regular, not quick)

      3/4 cup white flour (preferably organic)

      1/4 cup wheat germ

      1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

      1 tsp baking powder

      1 tsp baking soda

      2 TBS ground flax seed

      1/2 tsp salt

       

      Wet Ingredients

      1/2 cup white Northern beans (drained and rinsed)

      1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

      3 ripe bananas

      2 TBS almond oil (you can also use olive or Canola oil instead)

      1 tsp almond extract

      2 eggs (cage free is preferred)

      1/2 cup honey

      2 TBS maple syrup (this is optional to make them just a little sweeter)

       

      Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Combine all the wet ingredients in a Vita-mix or a food processor.  Puree until smooth and then mix with the dry ingredients.  Mix with a mixer for about 2 minutes.  This recipe will make 2 bread size loaves,  about 18 muffins, or  approximately 10 mini loaves.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the center it cooked through.  My kids keep begging for more! I think I will make a big batch of muffins this weekend and freeze them for school lunch "dessert".

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    • Tomato Basil Pita Pizza

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    •  8/11/2010 12:36:40 PM
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      I recently chatted with my cousin about my food choices.  He commented that it seemed like eating vegetarian was a lot of work and that there wasn't really any quick and easy meals.  To a certain extent that is true if you are trying to eat nutritiously. It definitely takes a little more planning and preparation.  BUT....as I made this for dinner tonight I could help but think of him....it was such a quick and easy meal after a long and busy day.  This one's for you Cuz!

       

      This is another one of those recipes that is more of an ingredient list than anything else.  So here's what I used.

      Whole wheat pita

      Pesto

      Pizza sauce*

      Fresh spinach

      Sliced tomatoes

      Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

      Fresh Basil

       

      Spread a little pesto on the pita bread.  Then arrange a handful of spinach to cover the pita.  Top the spinach with a little pizza sauce, sliced tomatoes, cheese and basil.  It's as easy as that.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

       

      * In the picture above I used a bottled jar of Fire-Roasted Soup since I didn't have any sauce.  It was delicious!

       

      This also happens to be a great lunch for the kids.  I will either use leftovers or quickly whip up a batch before school!  They will never need to miss out on 'pizza day' again.

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    • The Pleasure Trap

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    •  8/5/2010 8:33:02 AM
    • Imagine for a minute that you were asked to play Chess without being told any of the rules. My guess is that some people would be able to slowly figure out the rules through trial and error if they paid close attention to the cause and effect of their moves. Others would fail miserably and not even put up a fight as their pawns are picked off one by one. Now imagine that you are asked to play against the smartest, quickest minds of Chess who were hired to defeat you....It would be a little overwhelming to say the least!

       

      This game of Chess is how I sometimes feel about the "playing" with the food industry - the ODDS ARE AGAINST ME!

       They have more knowledge and more resources than the average consumer.  I certainly don't feel like we are are level playing fields.  They understand the human body better and how the brain responds to different foods and different advertising.

      I recently read a book called "The Pleasure Trap" that comments on the pleasure sensors of our brain.  Basically it is when the brain releases a signal that says "Something very good and valuable for our survival and/or reproduction is happening: Keep doing it!"  The authors go on to say that we are each embedded with genetics that encourage us to:

       

      • pursure pleasure
      • avoid pain
      • conserve energy

       

      "In nature, certain experiences are designed to encourage successful behavior.  As such, they are extremely pleasant and reinforcing.  The primary sources of pleasure being food and sexual activity.  This is because success in these arenas is necessary for survival and reproduction."

       

      Something interesting has happened as man has evolved intellectually.  Man has learned ways to release the pleasure sensors of the brain in a way that does NOT encourage our natural successful behavior.  For example, a young physician by the name of Sigmund Freud (maybe you've heard of him) thought he found the key to happiness with a newly synthesized substance called cocaine.  He prescribed it to patients and friends and used it himself.  After a time he came to understand its dangers.  Patients deteriorated, a friend committed suicide, and he himself became miserable.  To this day, rats will choose cocaine over food and water once they have experienced its tantalizing effects!

       

      The advances in food technology over the last decade are astounding.  Millions of dollars are spent each year trying to create "food" that hits our pleasure sensors.  Millions more are spent on marketing trying to get us to purchase those foods.  As we walk down the aisles of the grocery store (particularly the cereal aisle) we  are unknowingly exposed to those dollars at work.  We are bombarded with messages that were created to make us WANT to buy them.  And when we do, our taste buds are attacked with delicious flavors designed to make us want more!  These additives do their jobs fantastically and we find ourselves wanting more and more. In today's day and age it is US against the WORLD CHEMISTS!  Who is winning?

       

      My main thought is that we need to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as we can.  We as the consumer have the responsibility to know what is in our food and where it is coming from.  We have the ability to really evaluate the effects our food have on our body, our mood and even our thoughts.  (I for one can think a lot more clearly after having a fresh salad than after a burger and fries.)  We simply need to be a little more aware....take a little more thought....spend an extra minute reading a food label if we need to (remember that if you can't pronounce it your probably shouldn't eat it - except for quinoa that is which is prounounced 'keen-wa')!  In the end, we will be the ones to benefit from the extra scrutiny.

       

       

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