Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For fear of the Pit...Avocado



Have you ever been afraid to purchase a food item because it seemed tricky to prepare? Honey its 2010! You can find a tutorial for almost any food on the internet so don't be afraid to experiment and play with your food.

Today we will address a very serious topic. De-pitting an avocado. You will save oodles of pennies learning how to do this yourself instead of relying on a restaurant to prepare your avo-based goodies for you.

Cut along the pit:




Twist the two sides and seperate them:






Hack knife into pit and twist to remove (If that sounds too intimidating use a spoon and slide it around the edge of the pit to pop it out):




Optional Step: Create a funny face with your avo sides:




Slice length wise then cross-wise being careful not to pierce the skin of the avocado:



Slide a spoon along the inside edge of the avo skin to release the pieces into a bowl, onto a plate, or directly into your mouth.

Not wasn't that easy? Have fun with your new power over the avo. And remember "with great power comes great responsibility"

Happy avocading!

Monday, November 22, 2010

:Re:laxation Tools... Kill Cravings by Keeping your Hands Busy

Another relaxation tool that beats stress and keeps my hands busy is jewelry making.

Crafts that involve your hands can distract you from stressors. More importantly they can keep your hands busy so that you cannot put food into your mouth with them.

Although I have heard that people who are desperate for a nosh will eat without their hands... How odd... No offense... Okay actually I dont care if that offends you because 1) that is quite odd 2) there are some things you should never do with your feet when you have hands 3) because i said so.

But I digress... I know you are just chomping at the bit to see what I've made. Okay maybe you arent but im going to show you anyway so...




The bottom three bracelets were made using a weaving technique that I may or may not show you how to do in a future post. Depends on how generous Im feeling when I do or dont get around to typing that posting...

Did I mention I also sell do-it-yourself jewelry making kits? Call me! Seriously!

Mixing my Metaphors, etc.

I have a very serious adoration for all things Greek, culinarially speaking.
A current food obsession of mine is mujadara, a yummy dish of lentils and rice cooked with cumin and topped with carmelized or frenchfried onions.

The classic Greek flavors are fresh and vibrant including olive oil, lemon, oregano and thyme so that even something heavy like lentils taste light.

Never being one to settle for delicious i took it to the next level adding avocado.

But then I got a little crazy and decided to try a further variation by cooking the lentils with quinoa adding tomatoes mushroom and Trader Joes 21 Seasoning blend then topping it with avocado and adding some Food Should Taste Good Olive chips on the side.



This would make a great dip for an easy appetizer tray, but its so yummy in a bowl eaten with a spoon, which is how i had it for lunch today. Very yum!




Confused Mujarada

1) Add 1/2 c lentils and 2 T quinoa to 2c boiling water.

2) When the lentils are half done add in 1t of seasoning of choice

3) When the lentils are done add 1/2c canned diced tomatoes and another 1t of seasoning.

4)Top with chopped avocado and serve with tortilla chips.

5)Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Field Trip: Parkers UK Connection



A few weeks ago a good friend and I took a little field trip to a lovely little spot that serves a lovely spot of tea.

Upon arriving at Parkers UK Connection , a tea house that is quite literally a converted house, we were greeted by the owners and ushered into the tea room. We were the only customers as it was quite near closing time, but you would not have known closing time was so emminent from the fine greeting we received.



Pictured above is the very pretty table arrangement including fresh cut flowers and charming sugar bowl.

The excessively obliging hostess (Mrs. Parker to be precise) suggested I try the beans on toast and offered to include a baby greens salad with vin to round out the meal. I have wanted to try this inherently UK dish for ages, but was hesitant to say the least. It was surprisingly good! And doesn't it look adorable:



In the background of the above picture my tea bag is in its proper place. Resting peacefully on its own little plate. Very cute indeed!



My field trip companion wanted the full "English Tea" experience, so she accepted the suggestion that she have the Afternoon Tea. This includes a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, tea pastries, 2 freshly baked scones, clotted cream, lemon curd and preserves. It was wonderfully arranged on a three-tiered serving tray. She yummed everything she was able to try, but that was not much because there was too much to finish it all. Beautiful!



We sat and chatted and enjoyed our tea and sumptuals as our tea pot was continually filled with hot water and our tea bags were oft refreshed. Before we left we took a stroll through the shop and made mental shopping list for our return trip. Their shop features imports from the UK that will allow you to recreate the experience at home.


Final Verdict:

Walk, run, or crawl to this adorable little shop and tea room! My tea cup runneth over with delight! And please be sure to check out the "Shop" portion of Parkers UK Connection.

Parker's UK Connection - British Grocery & Tea Room
81 Robbins Station Rd,
North Huntingdon PA 15642
(724) 382-4389


And because I really wanted to bring this home with me, but I didn't here is another shot of my teacup:


Saturday, November 20, 2010

:Re:laxation Tools



In my attempts to reduce my stress load I have rediscovered one of my favorite de-stressors: relaxing with a hot cup of tea.

Ive read wonderful things about the relaxing benefits of Earl Grey tea spiked with Bergamot. I have to admit I'm a bit of a tea snob. I like to be able to see the composition of the tea in the bag. I find it thrilling to look in the tea bag and see bits of dried orange and lemongrass. This, of course, can do terrible things to ones wallet.

So, in the interest of pinching pennies (sounds gruesome for those poor pennies) I considered the lower costing teas. To be perfectly honest I was not hopeful when I selected this tea.

But for a change the tea that cost the least ($2.99) was surprisingly good (Mind you i was shopping at Whole Foods and its pretty hard to buy an awful product there). Bigelow Tea has a wonderful quality to its taste even though it is not a whole leaf tea. And as I was perusing the tea boxes I noticed that it is one of the few teas that has actual oil of Bergamot and not just extractive or faux flavoring.

In a very ladylike fashion I sip my tea, revel in the depth of its flavor, and whisper to my teacup.....

"Thank you Mr.Bigelow!"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now I know how Christopher felt....

Don't you love it when you discover a great new site??
Well I didn't exactly discover it like Columbus. I wasn't on a boat. And there was no attempt at a hostile takeover. I didnt give anyone the flu. Ummm... You get the point.

The website is called Auntie's Beads. To be perfectly honest (not that I am anything but that) the name immediately endeared them to me. I make jewelry with my aunt. Awww....

They don't have the biggest collection I've ever seen, but that definitely works to their advantage since everything they have is beautiful and so much of it is very unique.

Definitely check out their "pendant section"!

Just click on the logo below to go straight to the site. You won't be sorry! I can't wait to get my first order in! I will show you what I make with all my beading booty!

Auntie's Beads & Jewelry Supplies

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yummy Coworkers

This post is not about that cutie in the cubicle near you because 1) it's kind of creepy to describe people as yummy unless the people in question are made out of gingerbread 2) this is not a dating blog 3) because i said so.

"Yummy coworkers" are foods that work with your body and not against it.



Agave - Sweet, Yummy and low glycemic

Almonds, Walnuts - Beneficial for cardiovascular health

Almond Butter - Delicious Decadent with all the benefits of almonds

Flax Seeds and Flax Oil - Fiber, heart healthy, skin, hair, nails and rich in Omega-3's

Tofu - protein, calcium

Whole Fruits and Vegetables- fiber, vitamins, nutrients, water and so much more.


Another great thing about these yummy coworkers (sometimes called secret weapons) is that they are so versatile in their uses. Nuts for example are delicious roasted and ligthly salted or mixed with dry seasoning for added flavor. In their raw form they can be made into butter or cream (i.e. cashew cream, more on that later).

Crummy Coworker (aka Abominable Anti-workers) work against your body.


White Sugar = The coworker who is on your team and promises to finish their portion of the project on time, but never does = It gives a boost of energy that makes you think you are okay but then you crash, crash, crash into a ditch

Desserts Made with white flour and white sugar = The coworker who does an assignement for you and it looks okay, but then you turn it in and instead of it being 50 copies of the 3rd quarter report, its 50 copies of the 2nd quarter report with a 3rd quarter cover sheet. And you only find out after your boss drops all 50 copies on your desk in an angry huff. = It looks so good and you feel okay right after you eat it and you get that great boost, but then you crash and then you bloat and then the scale tells you exactly what you did wrong.

High or full fat meat = The coworker who seems really nice for years, but then you find out they have always hated you and have been talking about you behind your back to your boss all along. = It tastes good and it looks good and you dont eat it that often, but then you find out its been slowly clogging your arteries and depressing your immune system over the years.

Crummy Co-workers are no fun in the office and can be killer in the body. There are so many substitutes that are better for you or good for you. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, but there are little changes we all can make to keep our bodies running efficiently.

Have you ever had a "craving" for something really bad for you? Wouldnt it be great if you could train your body to "crave" foods that are good for you? You can!!

For instance, right now I have a craving for something sweet. A cookie? Nope. Some cake? Nope. Im craving a baked sweet potato smothered in almond butter and drizzled with agave! The almond butter melts a little from the heat of the potato and the agave syrup lends its sweetness to the butter while wonderfully complementing the natural sweetness and flavor of the sweet potato. I would say add a touch of coconut oil, but i dont know if you can handle all that decadence in the middle of the day... Oh boy! I need a moment!

Until next time..Happy eating..

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food Review: Gardein Buffalo wings

For the record no I have not suddenly become rich and started buying expensive processed food!

These were on sale at whole foods and i downloaded a $1.00 off coupon from the Gardein website (no longer available). I've had another of their products (the marinara Chicken Good Stuff...weird name but delicious product) so I decided to use the coupons. I had two coupons so i bought one package of the Marinara chicken and one package of the buffalo wings.

Here's how you prepare them.........


Brown them in a pan with 1T oil over medium high heat:





Throw on the sauce (which has been thawing in a bowl of hot water):



Plate it (with Trader Joe's "Water" and "Flax" crackers):




In my opinion...


They were pretty good. The sauce was spicy, but the spiciness didn't overpower the flavor at all. The texture of the chicken was spot on for a boneless chicken wing. I'm going to have to try springing them on a meat eater to see just how convincing the texture is for them tho. Friends beware! mwahahaha....Wow! Even my evil laugh typed out isn't very convincing...lol

I think if i ever buy them again i will try using the chicken part in a chicken Alfredo (chicken, fettuccine noodles, nutritional yeast cream sauce, broccoli and mushrooms). I would also like to try breading the chicken and then adding the sauce. I really like breaded wings....nom nom nom...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Soy Yogurt



Plain Soy yogurt with dates and ground flax seeds....


Yum!
Soy is not my favorite yogurt, but who can afford coconut milk yogurt? Maybe if i got a coupon book i would buy it more regularly.....

*hint*

*hint*

*hint*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mmmm...avocado

There are so many uses for the wonderful avocado. A few of them I have not tried yet (such as using an avocado in a smoothie), but I have tried them sliced on a sandwich, sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper, mashed and mixed with diced tomatoes and onions, guacamole, etc

There are so many ways to eat an avocado. If you google "avocado recipe" you get over 3 million results, so obviously Im not the only one with an obsession.

And not only is it delicious it has loads of health benefits as well. According to those expert fellas they have vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, fiber, iron, potassium, lutein and beta-carotene.

Here's one use:

Verde Avocado Salad

Vin:
1/4 c olive oil
1 t sea salt
1/4 c HERDEZ® Salsa Verde

Veg:
2 avocado's chopped
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 c cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Toss the Veg ingredients in a bowl.
Mix the vin ingredients in a seperate bowl.
Pour the Vin over the Veg.

How to use it:
1) eat it out of the bowl
2) eat it over rice
3) eat it with rice noodles or spaghetti cold or hot
4) eat it on bread or toast or wrap

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whats for breakfast? With Recipes!

Another common question veg people get is: What do you eat for breakfast? Although I would like to reply tree bark, I have become very efficient of rattling off my list of favorite breakfast foods: pancakes, hashbrowns, veggie tofu scramble, smoothie, oatmeal, cream of wheat, fruit soup, leftovers, quiche, cereal and almond milk.

All of these things are pretty run of the mill food-wise, but they always elicit surprised looks from my listeners. I think this is mostly because people think of eating Veg as being very restricted. But at this point i eat pretty much everything i did when i wasnt veg, but in a healthier vegetable based form.

My fave brunch menu: Quiche, blueberry pancakes, Tofurky italian sausage, fruit compote and hashbrowns.


Blueberry Pancakes:


makes 6 regular sized pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 t cinnamon



1 t vanilla
1 cup soymilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1/2 c frozen or fresh blueberries

Mix dry ingredients together.
Stir in wet ingredients.
Fold in the blueberries. (working with frozen ones helps prevent bleeding)
Spoon amount of batter for desired pancake size in a pan over medium heat.
Flip the pancake when the top starts to look more solid and the edges brown

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Secret Weapon: Breakfast



It is so important to start the day by breaking fast. Think about it. When you wake up when was the last time you ate? If you stop eating at a reasonable hour it might have been 10 hours since you body was refueld. What would happen if you didnt refuel your car for 10 days?

Our bodies need fuel to run properly. It really disturbs me when I ask someone what they had for breakfast and they say coffee. Not that you have to have a full 3 course meal when you wake up , but please give your body something to work with. Coffee has enough caffeine to give us a false sense of energy, but think of the strain you are putting on your body.

Im not a fan of eating in the morning and the less sleep i get the more I feel this way. But I have come to accept that food really is fuel for the body. So, if i really can't deal with having food I will make a smoothie (frozen blueberries, fresh bananas, dates and almonds if i feel like chewing). Or just have tea and toast with a fruit spread or drizzled with agave.

Eating something (not anything but something) shortly after waking also prevents a ravenous search for food in the vending machines at midmorning or the compromise lunch. Have you ever said "Im so hungry I could eat just about anything"? When you let yourself get that hungry you make poor food choices out of desperation.

So do your body a favor and have a bite to eat. Tomorrow i'll be talking about some veggie options for breakfast. And giving a few recipes. Some will even have actual measurements. Yay! And i'll even have some options that will aide you in weaning off eggs, bacon and sausage. ;-)

OH and the picture above is the breakfast buffet we enjoyed everyday while in Hawaii last November. It was a wonderful trip with lots of delicious food. Since we were staying in a hotel we took advantage of the free breakfast as eating in Hawaii can be rather rediculous pricewise. You know how Subway has a $5 footlong? That same sub cost $8.50 at the Subway along Waikiki Beach. The fresh fruit was absolutely fantastic and at the time I was still drinking juice so i really enjoyed the guava juice every morning. And there was a delicious veg restaurant right down the street from my hotel, which i will be blogging about in the future. It was in Hawaii that my addiction to smoothies began!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You know what this blog needs.....

Pictures!

Naughty Pictures
cake made with white flour and sugar
ice cream

Nice Pictures
coconut milk ice cream
larabar pb cookie
yogurt with dates and agave

Im afraid of getting sued tho so most of the pictures will be of food ive made unless i can get permission.

If you like what you see then you should hire me to cater your next dinner party. Or hire me to teach you to incorporate more veggies into your families diet. Call me! My rates are very reasonable and drop when you purchase food items. Need help with shopping? Field trip! I also do shopping consultations.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chipotle..Im not addicted...I just need some REAL bad

Hi. My name is Stephanie....And Im addicted to CHipotle. ITs been 30 days since the last time I got high off that delciousness...er I mean that terrible burrito bowl.

Sike! Im so not quitting Chipotle. But Im going to be a semi-traitor and show you how to make your own at home.

Ingredients for everything:
-2 cups Steamed rice
-2 tomatoes, chopped or diced
- 1 cup sweet corn
-2 lime
-1 lemon
-2 jalepenos, diced
- 1 red pepper
- black beans
- cumin
- garlic
-sea salt
- romaine lettuce
-2 big red onion, one sliced the other chopped
-1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped stems and all
-2 ripe avocados, chopped or cut into chunks or mashed, however you like it


Black Beans

Simmer 1 can black beans sprinkled with 1t cumin and 1t garlic powder (or 1 cloves of garlic) and 1/2 t sea salt.

Rice
Cook the rice
Remove from heat
Mix in the juice of 1 lime, half the lemon, 2t of sea salt
Put the lid back on and let the heat of the rice cause the flavors to become one with the rice. While that happening make the salsa.

Fajita Veggies
In a medium high heated pan saute the sliced red onion and red pepper with 1 T oil and 1/2 t sea salt.

Salsa

Chop tomatoes.
Dice then mix in half of one red onion and one jalapeño pepper(no seeds).
Add chopped cilantro.

Guac

Depit and chop or mash avocados
Mix in cilantro, other half of chopped red onions, one chopped jalapeño peppers, juice from half a lime and half a lemon, 2t salt and either 1 diced clove of garlic or 1t garlic powder.

If you look at the chipotle website it says "selected spices" and im prety sure on of these spices is crack, but Im trying not to jump to any conclusions because otherwise the CEO seems pretty ethical.

Assembley

Step 1: Chop lettuce and layer rice, black beans, sauteed veggies, corn, salsa and guac.
Step 2: Devour like its nobody's business.
Step 3: Ponder what a great cook you are
Step 4: Go stick leftover in the fridge so you dont eat everything.
Step 5: Eat leftovers for lunch the next day.(Note: I said lunch and not dinner because if you try to wait until dinner you will think about it all day and not get any work done and probably get fired. I dont want that on my conscience.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What is that?

I often hear this question in two context: 1)a non-vegan being snarky about my unfamiliar looking meal 2) a new vegan befuddled by what rolls off my tongue as a somewhat experienced veg-head.

I think the biggest mistake you can make in any new endeavor is immediately starting at level 3. Think of a brand new skier hopping on the slopes and immediately going for one marked with a jack rabbit. Stupid and disheartening when said skier is run over or simply out skiied.

Food is the same way. If you are incorporating new vegetable based foods in your diet why not try decreasing meat intake slowly and simply eating more healthful plant based foods (i.e. Have a chicken salad for lunch instead of a burger. Have fish tacos for dinner instead of a steak.). Since meat is addictive it requires weaning for some.

Quitting meat cold turkey (pardon the pun) and running to the store to buy tempeh and seiten is bold, but can be disheartening (i.e.gross) if you dont know how to prepare these items.

To start eating more veg-based meals read some veg cookbooks and see what looks/sounds good to you. If you like a particular ethnicities foods start there. Italian food your weakness? Try a yummy plate of spaghetti marinara or a veg lasagna (think Regular lasagna just dont add meat or sub it out for Veggie Crumbles meat replacement or Tofurkey Italian Sausage).

A really easy way to get used to veg food is to eat in restaurants that offer it on the menu. Last night I went to P.F. Changs. All of their menu items marked vegetarian are vegetarian. Who would have thought! Vegetable based and delicious I might add. I ate there last night and had the Buddha's feast with a pot of tropical green tea. It was just what I needed to calm down, relax and refuel. Many chain restaurants offer veg options. Check the menu online and it you still arent sure feel free to call ahead and ask.