Friday, August 2, 2013

Bill Clinton - Vegan

Did you know that Bill Clinton follows a whole foods/plant-based diet?

Bill Clinton: Fan of Caldwell Esselstyn Jr MD

Bill Clinton Explains Why He Became a Vegan

I particularly like the last two paragraphs (emphasis mine):

"If you don't have the willpower to do it for yourself, he adds, do it for your loved ones. "A lot of people who are busy and stressed feel that eating and being comfortable is their reward," he says. But particularly for those who, like him, have children, he says "you have a responsibility to try to be as healthy as possible."

Sounding the themes that still drive him every day, Clinton wraps up our meeting with a message, reminding me that "the way we consume food and what we consume" are driving the unsustainable level of health care spending in America. To truly change the conditions that lead to bad habits and poor health, he warns, "we have to demand it by changing the way we live. You have to make a conscious decision to change for your own well-being, and that of your family and your country.""

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Good Scouting News

I just have to share some positive Scouting news (although I think the way the AP handled the weight guidelines for the Jamboree left a lot to be desired - they could have used this as a headline:  "Boy Scouts of America Encourages and Helps Scouts and Leaders Become Healthier for the National Jamboree", but that doesn't get as many "clicks").  Anyway, here are some wonderful articles about National Jamboree this year.

Unexpected Day of Service: Scouts Save Flooding School

From the Longhouse Council Facebook page:

"2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve by the numbers:

Scouts: 24,682
Scout Adult Leaders: 2,782
Venturers: 2,118
Venturing Adult Leaders: 455
Foreign Scouts: 326
Representing how many nations?: 18
Volunteer Staff: 6,224
Daily Visitors: 12,192
Service Hours Given to Surrounding Communities: 148,800

That's a good start to this brand-new facility!"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baked Corn Chips

These are so much healthier than the store-bought fried corn chips.  Also, you can custom flavor them!  They are quick and easy.

Take corn tortillas, brush with water, lemon or lime juice.  Sprinkle with salt or other desired seasoning. 

Cut tortillas into 6ths or 8ths.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Did You Know...


Did you know that 3 tablespoons of unpopped popcorn (4.5 cups popped) has 140 calories, 5g fiber (20% RDA!), 4g protein (it's everywhere - more on that later), and 6% of the RDA of iron.

Snack away!

Just be careful what you put on it...  (smile).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Black Bean Dip

This is one of my favorite recipes from The Feast of Santa Fe.

Black Bean Dip

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional - we omit this)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Put all ingredients into food processor and process until smooth, leaving a little texture if desired.  Top with salsa and chopped cilantro.  Serve in quesadillas, burritos, tacos, or with chips. 

Black beans are an excellent source of many nutrients including protein, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and more.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lawns, Pesticides, and Us

A very moving blog from the Children and Nature Network:

CHILD-FRIENDLY LAWNS AND GARDENS: Ten Things You Can Do to Reduce Hidden Chemical Risks

I especially appreciated the following quote, since I am currently reading Silent Spring:

"People in the children and nature movement often cite Rachel Carson because she eloquently advocated introducing children to nature in her book A Sense of Wonder.  We must not forget that she also wrote Silent Spring, courageously researching and speaking out against the dangers of pesticides. For the sake of our children and all other living things on our planet, we need to spread both parts of her message."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Did you know...?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports a vegetarian/vegan diet.  You can read more about it on their website.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus is a great snack or part of a meal.  With veggie sticks or healthy crackers, it's a guilt free snack.  Since it's made with chick peas, it's a great source of protein, fiber, folate, iron, and other nutrients.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (no oil added)

3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained)
1 roasted red pepper, peeled
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste, especially with commercially canned chickpeas)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoky paprika
1/2 cup cooking liquid, low/no sodium veggie broth, or water

Place in food processor and process until smooth.  Serve as a cracker/veggie dip or sandwich bread.

Roasted Red Peppers

Cut stems off red peppers and clean out seeds.  Place on grill and cooked until blackened on each side, rotating as necessary.  Peel off blackened skins and eat or use in recipes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Chickpeas, or Garbanzo Beans, are one of our favorite beans.  Traditionally, they are the main ingredient in hummus (see tomorrow's post!).  We also use them on tossed salad, in falafel, in bean salads, in grain salads with other fresh veggies, and as a replacement in chicken/tuna salad (just mash them up a bit).  You can sprout them to add sprouts to your salads or roast them for a crunchy snack.

Research shows that chick peas are great for decreasing your cardiovascular risk, increasing digestive health, and regulating blood sugar.  For more information on the health benefits of chickpeas, click here.

Chickpeas are an excellent source of many important nutrients.  In just one cup of cooked chick peas, you get 14.53g protein (that's a whopping 29% of the RDA), 12.46g fiber (50% RDA), 71% RDA folate, 8% RDA calcium (not found in just dairy), 26% RDA iron, 20% RDA magnesium, a high percentage of 11 amino acids, and much more.

Chickpeas are also great for the grocery budget.  Where we live, I can find a pound of dried, organic chickpeas for just under $3.00.  Once hydrated and cooked, there will be 3 pounds of chickpeas.  That's $1.00 per pound!  Talk about a great nutritional value for your dollar (literally)!

Tomorrow I'll be posting our homemade Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  Until then, check out one of my favorite chickpea recipes:  Teriyaki Chickpeas from Happy Herbivore!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Plant-Strong 4th of July

So, on one of the days when Americans are most known for grilling out, what do you do when you're plant-strong?  You grill out - veggie style.  We actually do this almost every week.  It's nice to casually cook and eat dinner together outside.  Then, cold drink in hand, we kick back and enjoy the fire.  Our menu for the 4th this year was pretty simple, since it was just us this time.  We had veggie hotdogs, hotdog chili, asparagus, zucchini, squash, carrots (make great "hotdogs" when cooked soft enough), corn, and apple crisp.  Yum!

Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, and Red Peppers (for a later project)

Corn, Hotdogs, Red Peppers

Asparagus, Squash, Zucchini, Carrots

Apple Crisp (baked inside early, but warmed over fire)
Cool part - the crisp was not made with butter!  I'll share that recipe later!

Monday, July 1, 2013

In The News

Milk does a body good? Maybe not always, Harvard doc argues - Dr. David Ludwig, Harvard Pediatrician

The Toxic Truth about Sugar -  Dr. Robert Lustig, UC San Francisco Pediatric Endocrinologist

Now, great advice on How to Break a Sugar Addiction.  I can tell you that once you break it, you really do lose your "sweet tooth".  I can't eat sugary foods nearly at the same rate as I used to.  One cookie or treat and I'm done.  If I cave and eat a second, I regret it.  I actually don't feel as well afterwards.  If you're not sure what foods have sugar added to them, the author of this site has a list here.  You may be surprised.

Good luck!  If we can break the chocolate chip cookie dough/brownie cravings, you can too!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

German Red Cabbage

My husband made this red cabbage dish for our Bavarian Feast the other day and we all loved it!  The original recipe is Grandma Jeanette's Amazing German Red Cabbage.  He modified it by using the whole head of cabbage (who wants to measure shredded cabbage?), omitting the butter, and adjusting the seasonings accordingly.  It's an easy recipe and one that you can easily fill up on guilt-free - gotta love that!

German Red Cabbage

1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 small gala apples, sliced
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Place butter, cabbage, apples, and sugar into a large pot. Pour in the vinegar and water, and season with salt, pepper, and clove.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the cabbage is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bavarian Feast

My husband made this delicious Bavarian Feast for us on Sunday.  What a treat it was to turn the kitchen over to my husband, run some errands, and return home to this delicious meal!  I'll post the recipes for the Goulash and Red Cabbage as I receive them and have the okay to do so. They are his adaptations.  :-)

Portabella Goulash
Egg Noodles (haven't found a plant-based version yet)
German Red Cabbage
Pretzel Roll (from Wegman's bakery)
Field Grain Frankfurter
Apothic Red wine

This is one of those meals that just leaves you feeling warm and happy.  Sigh...

Saturday, June 15, 2013


It finally stopped raining enough to give us a beautiful day for road trip!  We decided to visit Skaneateles (skinny altas), a small town on the northern tip of Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes (about 50 minutes west of Syracuse).  Skaneateles Lake is one of the cleanest in the world.  It is the source of water for Syracuse and it's so clean that it is used unfiltered!

We stopped at Skaneateles Bakery to grab a snack before heading to Clift Park to wait for our sight seeing tour of the lake.  What a delightful afternoon!  If you ever have a chance to spend some time in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York, I highly recommend it.  It is a beautiful area with many wonderful things to do. 

Clift Park

Judge Ben Wiles

Skaneateles Lake

Clear Water

Friday, June 14, 2013

Roasted Corn Salsa

The first time we visited Syracuse, it was to see if it was somewhere we would like to live.  For us, that meant visiting the Central New York Regional Market.  We had to see what was available from the local farms.  One of the trucks at the market was there primarily to promote the market and share a recipe made from what could be found at the market that day.  On the day of our first visit, it was Corn Salsa.  Wow!  It was delicious.  We picked up a copy of the recipe and somehow managed to keep track of it as we traveled home, packed, and moved.  I want to share it here because I think you'll enjoy it as much as we do and I figure it's only a matter of time before I lose the piece of paper with the recipe :-).

Corn Salsa

10 large ears corn, husked
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
8 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 1 pound total
1 cup diced red onion, 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup julienne fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Grill corn until light gold all over and cooked, about 12 minutes.  Let cool and cut off the kernels.  Discard the cobs.

Core the tomatoes and cut a small X on the bottom of each.  Place on the grill, X side down, away from direct heat.  Cover the grill and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, but are not cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes.  Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel.  Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out the juice.  Reserve the juices and chop the flesh.

Add the chopped tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, onions, basil and red wine vinegar to the corn.  Toss well.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

The recipe does call for some extra-virgin olive oil, but we leave it out and don't miss it.  We also thickly slice the red onion and grill it before chopping it and adding it to the salsa.

Serve on tacos/burritos, chips, cucumber chips, bell pepper scoops, etc.  We usually make a double batch and freeze the extra for later use.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crazy Cake Revised

Back in April my sister issued a challenge - remake Crazy Cake, one of our favorite desserts from childhood, but healthier.  Here it is!  I was actually surprised by how easy it was.  It's a little gooey on the bottom, but in a oh-so-yummy chocolatey way.  Enjoy!

Crazy Cake Revised
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into an ungreased 8x8 pan.  Make 3 holes in dry ingredients and put in each hole the applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla.  Pour over this the water.  Mix with fork but do not beat.  Bake 25 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let the cake cool and serve it dusted with powdered sugar.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Following Instincts

Friday morning my beagle was so cute that I just had to stop and write a journal entry about her.  Here's what I wrote:

"She has those moments when she's outside, just laying on the deck.  She's alert to the yard - not sleeping.  She was like that just now when I came outside.  She took one look at me, got up, and ran into the yard in "guard mode," barking at who-knows-what.  It's as if she's trying to show she's busy, doing something important.  Therefore she can't do whatever it is that I want/need her to do (like come inside).  The funny thing is, half the time I don't need her to do anything.  Just now I was bringing my breakfast out onto the deck to eat.  Silly dog. :-)"

Not long after that, I caught her in the act of doing this:

Not so cute.  Reminder to self:  I love my beagle, I love my beagle, I love my beagle...

She's done this before, hence the chicken wire.  Obviously, that didn't work.  So, here's my next effort:

It worked around the fence in NC.  Hopefully it will work here.  As my mom said (sympathetic grandma that she is), she's just following her instincts.  I know.  Sometimes though I wish I could sit her down for a story time.  The Poky Little Puppy would be a regular feature:  "No desserts ever for puppies who dig holes..."


Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Link

I've added a new link to the list of food links on the left:

Oh She Glows

I hope you are inspired by her story and enjoy her site as much as I do.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Video of the Week

From Sand to Sea and Back - Solomon Islands Sea Turtles 

We have seen many turtle nests on the NC coast.  If you vacation on the coast and see a nest, please only look with your eyes and then let it be.  These little fellas have enough challenges getting to the water after they hatch.  Better yet, see if the local preservation society needs any help around hatching time.  We have family who regularly "turtle sit" and help protect these beautiful creatures as they make their way to the ocean.  It's magical!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lentil Barbecue

When I was growing up, our church hosted an annual Christmas bazaar.  Many crafts and baked goods were sold to raise money for the women's group.  Lunch was also served and it was always Beef Barbecue.  It was a favorite!  Moving to a more plant-based diet doesn't have to mean depriving yourself of favorite flavors.  Recipes, like this one, that are based on seasonings are easy to convert.  We've actually substituted lentils in many other favorites:  Cincinnati Chili, Sloppy Joes, taco filling, and chili sauce.  The results are just as tasty, healthier, and more economical (1 lb of dry lentils = 3 lbs of cooked lentils)

This is the Beef Barbecue recipe that I grew up on, but with lentils.  It was always made for a crowd, so this makes a lot (the original recipe calls for 6 lbs of beef).  I'm working on testing it to see how it works in smaller batches.  In the mean time, I'm enjoying the large batch that I started with.  I packaged the leftovers in 1.5 cup portions and froze them for future use.  They are wonderful on those evenings when I either don't have a dinner plan or don't have time to cook.  I just thaw/reheat and serve with some baby carrots, sugar snap peas, or some other quick and easy veggie.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Lentil Barbecue

2 lbs (4 cups) lentils
8 cups water
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
1 tsp Tabasco  sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 bottle catsup (14 oz)
3 Tbsp barbecue sauce (CNYers - I used Dinosaur BBQs original sauce)
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp pepper

Place all ingredients in a large crockpot and cook on low for several hours, until lentils are desired consistency (not crunchy, soft but not mushy).  I'll continue to work on this to get a more specific time for you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Video of the Week

Michael Pollan on the Colbert Report

This is a hilarious interview, but what else would you expect from The Colbert Report?  I'm looking forward to reading Michael Pollan's new book:  Cooked.  If you get to it before I do (and you might, I'm working on several books right now), I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to comment.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Case for Lentils

Lentils have become one of my favorite go-to foods.  They come in too many varieties to count, are good in many types of food, are packed with great nutritional benefits, and are extremely economical!  They are used world-wide and in many different ways, although I do believe that they are under-utilized here in the US (the fact that I have to go to a specialty grocery to find a variety other than green supports this).  Lentils are great in soups, sauces, dahl (one of my favorite Indian dishes), veggie burgers, and more.

To see a selection of recipes using lentils, just click on "Lentils" on the "Topics" list on the right. 

More and more we are using lentils to replace ground meat in recipes.  We've used green lentils, French lentils and black lentils.  Any will work just fine, although our favorite is black lentils.  If you have a Whole Foods nearby, you should be able to find all three of these varieties, and more.  If you are in the CNY area, Wegman's has green lentils and Natur-Tyme and Green Planet Grocery have green and French lentils.  We have yet to find black lentils locally, but we haven't checked the Asian groceries.

Lentils are extremely economical!  For environmental reasons (as well as health and nutrition), I try to buy organic when I can.  Legumes are one area where I can justify the expense.  At one of our local grocery stores, I can get organic green lentils for $1.89/lb, organic brown lentils for $2.29/lb, and organic french lentils for $2.81/lb.  These prices are for DRY lentils.  Once I cook these, one pound of dry lentils turns into 3 (yes, THREE) pounds of cooked lentils.  I use cooked lentils as a 1 to 1 substitute for ground meat in many of my recipes.  That works out to be $0.63/lb of cooked green lentils, $0.76/lb of cooked brown lentils, and $0.94/lb of cooked French lentils.  When was the last time you saw ANY ground meat for those prices?!  This is one of the ways that I am able to feed our household a healthy diet on what the USDA considers a "trifty" to "low-cost plan".

Lentils are packed with great nutrition!  They are a great source of fiber, iron, calcium, folate, potassium and many other vitamins and minerals. There is only one nutritional concern I've heard from others regarding lentils:  carbs.  Due to the successful marketing of some diet plans, the idea is out there that carbs are bad.  What these diet plans don't always tell you is that not all carbs are created equal.  You should limit your refined carbs (bleached flour, sugary cereals, regular pasta, white rice, etc.).  Complex carbs (such as lentils) are perfectly fine and are actually great for you.  You need the fiber that comes from eating complex carbs to help keep your digestive system flowing.  Plus, there are many vitamins and minerals that your body needs from those complex carbs that you will not find in animal products.   

Following is a list of the nutritional benefits of one serving (1 cup) of cooked lentils compared to one serving (4 oz) of grass-fed beef

lentils beef
amount 1.00 cup cooked 4 oz
total weight 198.00 g 113.4
calories 229.68 175
calories from fat 6.77 27.45
calories from saturated fat 0.94 10.53
protein 17.86 g 26 g
carbohydrates 39.86 g -- g
dietary fiber 15.64 g -- g
soluble fiber 2.57 g -- g
insoluble fiber 13.07 g -- g
sugar - total 3.56 g -- g
monosaccharides -- g -- g
disaccharides -- g -- g
other carbs 20.65 g -- g
fat - total 0.75 g 8.1g
saturated fat 0.10 g 1.17g
mono fat 0.13 g 2.8g
poly fat 0.35 g 2.5g
trans fatty acids 0.00 g 0.13g
cholesterol 0.00 mg 74 mg
water 137.89 g 83.26 g
ash -- g 1.92 g
vitamin A IU 15.84 IU 0.00 IU
vitamin A RAE 0.79 RAE 0.00 RAE
A - carotenoid 1.58 RE 0.00 RE
A - retinol 0.00 RE 0.00 RE
A - beta carotene 9.90 mcg 51.00 mcg
thiamin - B1 0.33 mg 0.06 mg
riboflavin - B2 0.14 mg 0.14 mg
niacin - B3 2.10 mg 7.60 mg
niacin equiv 4.77 mg 7.60 mg
vitamin B6 -- mg -- mg
vitamin B12 0.00 mcg 1.44 mcg
biotin -- mcg -- mcg
vitamin C 2.97 mg 0.00 mg
vitamin D IU 0.00 IU 0.00 IU
vitamin D mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg
vitamin E alpha equiv 0.22 mg 0.25 mg
vitamin E IU -- IU 0.37 IU
vitamin E mg -- mg 0.25 mg
folate 358.38 mcg 14.74 mcg
vitamin K 3.37 mcg 1.02 mcg
calcium 37.62 mg 10.21 mg
copper 0.50 mg 0.08 mg
iron 6.59 mg 2.04 mg
magnesium 71.28 mg 26.08 mg
manganese 0.98 mg 0.01 mg
molybdenum 148.50 mcg -- mcg
phosphorus 356.40 mg 240.40
potassium 730.62 mg 387.82 mg
selenium 5.54 mcg 23.93 mcg
sodium 3.96 mg 62.37 mg
zinc 2.51 mg 4.09 mg

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beautiful Spring Day = Yard Work

After a delightful trip to the CNY Regional Market, we spent the afternoon doing yard work.  I love the acts of making our new house our home!  We planted 2 lilac bushes, one rosemary, an English lavender, a French lavendar, and two currant plants (one red, one black). 

I am very excited about all of these plants as they each represent something special, besides their contribution to our lanscape.  The lilacs are something we grew up with and I'm looking forward to their sweet fragrance wafting in through my office windows.  I'm looking forward to utilizing the rosemary and French lavender in the kitchen.  The English lavender will make lovely sachets to use throughout the house and as gifts. 

Finally, the currents.  I never planned to add currants to our yard.  I think I read something recently that said they are not as common as they used to be.  Therefore, I was surprised to see them at the market last week. I was especially excited because my grandmother used to make red currant jelly from her backyard currants.  I took note and decided to talk to my husband about this possible addition to our yard.  I returned home, got wrapped up in the day, and promptly forgot.  Thankfully the currants were there again today and my husband was with me!  We decided to buy one red and one black starter.    I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with them.  They'll take a few years to produce enough for any projects (an exercise in patience!), but I'm excited nonetheless.

If you ever get a chance to visit the CNY Regional Market, or a farmers market closer to your home, I highly recommend it.  Not only did we buy plants, but we bought pre-baked pizza crusts (which I put in the freezer for future use), fresh bread, pasta, pasta sauce, and mushrooms.  Normally I would buy more produce, but since I didn't know if I would be able to make it to the market this week, I loaded up at the grocery store and my fridge is full.  Anyway, we purchased all of this from local vendors, supporting local, small businesses and the local economy.  It's nice to be able to talk to the people who are actually growing/making our food.

I hope you all had a wonderful Saturday and are able to enjoy a day of rest and relaxation tomorrow.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Videos of the Week

As we enter into planting season, I thought you'd all appreciate this series of "how-to" videos from the National Gardening Association.

How-To Videos

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Challenge!

My sister has just challenged me to remake this recipe:

Crazy Cake

It doesn't have any meat, eggs, or dairy, but it does have oil and a lot of sugar (it is a dessert).  I'll let you all know what we come up with.  What a sister I have, asking me to test a cake recipe!  You don't think she's trying to sabotage my whole-foods, plant-based weight loss do you?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Video of the Week - Rip Esselstyn

Plant-strong & healthy living: Rip Esselstyn at TEDxFremont 

 "Rip Esselstyn, a former firefighter and author of The Engine 2 Diet, advocates a plant-strong diet to combat chronic diseases. Esselstyn inspired his fellow firefighting crew at the Austin Engine 2 station to follow a plant-based diet and dramatically heal their health."  from video description.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

2 mangos, peeled and cut off seed
1/2 red onion
1 anaheim pepper
1 lime, juiced

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.  Serve with crackers, chips, rice and beans, or on Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki from Happy Herbivore.

This freezes well for future use.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NASA is still hard at work and Space Shuttle Discovery

NASA To Launch Planet-Hunting Probe 

Space Shuttle Discovery

I recently had the privilege of seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport just outside of Washington DC.  For the Air and Space nut in me, this is always a thrilling stop. 

Last time we visited, the museum was host to the Space Shuttle Enterprise.  While trilling to see, Enterprise was never sent to space.  It was used as a test vehicle for landings. 

On the other hand, we were able to see Discovery on the launch pad.  We just happened to be visiting the NC coast when that same mission was launched, following a flight path up the east coast.  We got up early and were able to see the glow of the main engines as Discovery made its climb into space. 

Discovery was our first shuttle to go into space and our go-to shuttle for returning us to space.  I recall sitting in my junior year history teacher's classroom as a group of us watched Discovery lead our return to space after the Challenge accident.  Our family also watched as Discovery returned us to space after Columbia.

To see any shuttle up close is amazing.  Seeing Discovery was especially personal.  To see the scars of launch, space travel, and re-entry - wow!  It was truly breathtaking!  I hope you get a chance to see any of our shuttles on display for us around the country.  It's worth the trip!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kale Pesto

Pesto is one of my favorite foods.  It's great on crackers, sandwiches, pasta, etc.  However, traditional pesto is loaded with oil, butter, and cheese.  So, time to find/create a new adaptation.  This recipe pretty much comes straight from the Engine 2 Diet.  They call it Kale Butter.  I've added a clove of garlic and some salt and prefer to call it closer to what I'm used to - pesto.  I hope you enjoy it!

Kale Pesto

One bunch of Kale
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup steaming liquid or vegetable broth

Strip kale leaves from ribs and steam (see videos by Lindsey at Happy Herbivore).  Put garlic, walnuts, and cooked kale in food processor.  Process to desired consistency, adding steaming liquid or vegetable broth as needed.  Season with kosher salt to taste.  Enjoy!

Later note:  Bought some purple kale yesterday.  I'm looking forward to trying it and seeing how it goes over as pesto.  We love pesto on pasta too.  Can you say Purple Pesto Pasta 3 times fast?  I wonder how well it will go over with the younger set...  Colorful is good!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread

I've made some adjustments to the previously posted bread recipe.  The last one was more of a sweet, oatmeal bread.  This is a Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread.  Most whole wheat breads are dense.  That's fine with me, but they aren't as popular with my in-house tasters.  This one passes everyone's test.  I hope you enjoy it!

Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/4  cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp salt  (can be less, I think I'm down to about 1/2 tsp)
3 cups stone ground whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
6 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (magic!  This is what makes the bread soft)
2 tsp yeast

1.  Run whole wheat dough cycle on bread machine.
2.  When cycle is done, remove dough and roll it into a cylinder the length of your loaf pan (I just do this with my hands, above the loaf pan).
3.  Place in loaf pan and let rise 15-30 minutes (until you like the height/shape).
4.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
5.  Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Video of the Week - Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Resolving the Health Care Crisis: T. Colin Campbel at TEDxEast 

"Dr. Campbell has spent the last 40 years at the forefront of nutrition research. His major research project the China Project is the largest nutrition study ever conducted. Here he shares his ideas to revolutionize our nation's health."  from the video description.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

How are you celebrating?  We had breakfast burritos with green Tofu Scramble (left out the mustard and tumeric, added green food coloring) and Irish Oatmeal (i.e. steel-cut oats).  For dinner we're having Portobella Irish Stew with green, whole-wheat bread.  For dessert, Irish cupcakes.  Yum!

Here are some whole-food, plant-based Irish recipes for you to try:

Irish Soda Bread

Vegan Cabbage Rolls

We've not tried either of these, but the recipes look great!  Have a great evening!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

French Lentil Taco Filling

Over the last few weeks we've been making several of our favorite ground meat recipes (sloppy joes, taco filling, bbq) with a combination of green lentils and quinoa. Then we discovered French Lentils. They are smaller than green lentils and have more of a ground meat look. Perfect! Here's how we used them to make a taco filling this week. In the picture is a soft taco tortilla with brown rice (cooked with Sazon Goya con Azafran), French lentil taco filling, and roasted corn salsa (will post recipe in the summer).  Yum! 

French Lentil Taco Filling
In a large pot, saute until translucent:
1 lg onion
5 garlic cloves (minced)

1 lb French Lentils
4 cups water
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
~20 grinds of black pepper

Simmer 45 min or until water is absorbed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Video of the Week - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

TEDxCambridge - Caldwell Esselstyn on making heart attacks history 

"Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn argues that heart attacks, the leading cause of death for men and women worldwide, are a "foodborne illness" and explains why diet is the most powerful medicine.  "  from the video description

Friday, March 1, 2013

Video of the Week - Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

This is a preview of more to come from a joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic.  I'm looking forward to what's to come!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cooking Beans

One of my favorite ways to save money and be environmentally friendly is to cook my own beans from dried.  It's really very simple and I know what went into cooking them (did you know that canned beans have a lot of salt and some even have corn syrup?).  One pound of beans costs less than 4 cans of beans, and I usually get at least that much, if not more, once I cook the beans.  When I do cook beans, I usually do 2 pounds at a time and freeze them in 1.5 cup jars (I'll do an entry on the freezing process later).  That's the same size as a can of beans, they're ready when I need them, and I know how they were prepared. 

Here are the steps for cooking your own dried beans:

Sort beans and place in a large bowl.  Dried beans are natural and have been sorted to remove rocks, dirt clumps, etc.  However, most of this is done mechanically and some pieces make it through with the beans.  So, you'll want to go through the beans and check for anything that was missed.  I actually enjoy this step.  It makes me slow down a bit, I feel more connected to the food I'm preparing, and I know we're getting a natural, whole food - not something processed.

Rinse and cover beans with plenty of water (approx 8 cups/lb).  For this step I like to use a colander sitting inside a bowl.  This allows easy rinsing and draining of the beans by just lifting the colander, leaving the water behind in the bowl.  Let beans soak at least 6 hours.  I like to start them soaking either first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, depending on when I need the beans to be done.

Drain and rinse beans - they'll be much larger than when the started soaking.

Place beans in large pot or crockpot (my preferred method) and add water until the water is about an inch above the beans.  Turn on the heat.  The length of cooking time will vary depending on the temperature and the size of the beans.  I'd give you a chart, but there are really too many variables.  On example though is that I will let pintos cook all night and all the next day on low heat.  It's about the same for garbanzo beans.  If you want to cook your beans fast, I believe you can replace 2 hours of cooking on low heat with 1 hour of cooking on high heat, with the crockpot.  If you want to cook your beans on the stovetop, you'll want to allow at least 3 hours.

I usually season my beans with salt, about 1-1/2 tsp per pound - still much less than canned beans.  I also wait to add the salt until the end of the cooking time as salt can slow the cooking time of the beans.

Now you're ready to enjoy your beans however you usually do with canned beans.  My goal in a few weeks is to cook a big pot of one kind of bean and then do a week's worth of recipes with that batch - and then share them with you!  Until then, here are some previously posted recipes for you to try:

Taco Soup

Rice and Beans

Pinto Beans