Monday, May 24, 2010

Almond milk

Finally I've gotten around to making almond milk.   I love almond milk and I made the switch over from cow's milk almost a year ago in an attempt to cure my annoying tummy problems.    I was having the typical stomach ailments that so many women complain about to me like bloating, gas, diarrhea and cramps  and wanted to eliminate food slowly to find the culprit.      It actually took a long time to figure it out because I was never a big milk drinker so first I started with diet sodas.   That wasn't it but I never went back!  Then I tried yogurt but that didn't help and missed my homemade yogurt more than anything so thank goodness!   Next.....dare I say....I cut out broccoli and Brussels sprouts for 1 whole month!!     I'm happy to say that I continued to have incredibly uncomfortable symptoms and knew that these veggies weren't the the culprit.    Now, after cutting out cow's milk completely for almost a year I can honestly say that tummy problems are rare and bloating has almost been nonexistent.    Making it on my own is so easy that I can't believe I waited this long.
Soak 1 cup of almonds in enough water to cover them for about 6 hrs and refridgerate.   I actually did it for about 12 which also worked fine.   Drain the water and using a food processor or Vitamix, process almonds with 3-4 cups of water until smooth.  To this you could add a sweetener of your choice or some vanilla but I like it unsweetened.   Using a nut milk bag (which I ordered online) or you can just use cheesecloth, drain the liquid and squeeze the pulp until no more remains.    That's it!
I used 4 cups of water which made it quiet thin and not sweet at all but I prefer this because I really get the almond taste.
 I like it ice cold and next time I'm going to try chocolate!

This is the leftover almond meal which I dehydrated and froze.  I am going to save it up and then grind it into a flour once I have 4 cups or so.   This should be great in cookies or maybe crackers....or bread or.........any ideas?

Steve's birthday dinner

This is a meal I've been making a very long time for Steve's birthday.  Lasagna and cheesecake.  It has changed ever so slightly...I now make the lasagna with whole wheat pasta and use extra lean ground beef.   That's it!  no other changes which I will admit has been a challenge.   Today I was very tempted to use ground turkey in the  lasagna, low fat mozzarella and nonfat cottage cheese but I decided to leave it as authentic as possible and I'm glad I did because it's the way he likes it.     I also stuck to my original pumpkin cheesecake which I make only once a year.     You wouldn't guess it but lasagna and cheesecake on the same day = a long day in the kitchen.  These are two relatively easy dishes to prepare but both have many steps including. shopping, chopping, cleaning, baking and serving.   I find that I spend a ton of time washing dishes and clearing the kitchen for the next step (especially with out new tiny space).    I'm really having to practice my organizational skills coming from my old kitchen to this new 'compact' space.

This is a 2nd one I made in a 9X9 tinfoil pan and froze without cooking for a day I don't feel like cooking (I do have those sometimes;)
I had some cracking on top from being too impatient and opening the oven door  :(

 Happy 44th Steve!

I was hoping to finish the garden after this but it will have to wait another couple of days because of the cold, they've been in the shed in an attempt to protect them from 'freezing' temperatures....May 23rd!!     Crazy stuff, but I hear that this is normal for Alberta.  :)    Patience I'm told.     So instead of gardening this weekend we did a lot of relaxing and trying to avoid the rain, I did a lot of shopping and cooking which is all good!  I gathered a bunch of greens which I then chopped and washed for a week of green smoothies and even made some YOPS for the girls and used the left overs for frozen yogurt popsicles.       I'm so happy and feel like I should whisper that Alex had a shake today with tons of fruit in it!.      She even knows this and I didn't have to be 'deceptive' about it.      I'll never forget the time that I bought the book "Deceptively delicious' by Jerry Seinfeld's wife in my desperate attempt to get veggies and fruit into Alex without her knowing.   Apparently she saw the book right away and kept a close eye on it's every move because the 1st day that I made a recipe from it she noted that it had changed position on my recipe book shelf.     Really!   I made brownies with spinach hidden in it and she would not touch it!     When I tried to get her to take a piece, she told me that I was very 'deceptive'.   I had to leave the room so I could laugh without her seeing  :)   she is a smart kid.         I'm loving my shakes and can't wait to try celery and cucumbers in it with a lime tomorrow.  

 I picked up some beets to make a 'beet and goat cheese salad" and washed the beet tops to add to my shake.
This is all of the veggie cuttings that I don't use.  I add some water and pulverize it before adding to the compost - it just decomposes a lot quicker in liquid form.    Now I just need some warm weather and get my garden done!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Butters Oh my!

I've had a bit of an epiphany today.....butters can be made from something other than nuts!    really.. yes it's true and it's amazing!    Thanks to I have discovered the most delicious, sinful, creamy and healthy new condiment ever!   I am a huge coconut fan and cook with it regularly so when I saw this recipe I knew instantly that it must be awsome!      it was....
Go to Heathers site for the recipe but here is my beautiful little jar that I mistakingly put in the fridge went rock hard so now it's in the cupboard which is fine because it will not last long.    

I put this on my breakfast cookie warm this morning and it was YUM.    So yum in fact that I wanted it for lunch and dinner today because I couldn't stop thinking about it.    Coconut butter is my new favorite find fo sho!
We eat a lot of nut butter in my house, always have and I don't know what I would have done without peanut butter when the kids were growing up.  Peanut butter and toast for breakfast, peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch and when dinner wasn't a hit (especially with Alex :)) then it was back to pb and toast.  I think of all those years of worrying and stressing about my picky eater surviving on whole wheat  bread, peanut butter and milk and today she stands at almost 5'9" and wears an 11 shoe!!         Maybe it was the peanut butter?     Today I finished off the almond butter so I  made Steve's favorite,  cashew butter.  

This is heaven on a spoon.  Note*  I use salted cashews and nothing else but you can use unsalted and you can also add a bit of oil to make it thinner and creamier.   

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

sprout burgers

Remember those mixed grains I sprouted in the bag?
Well they've been sitting in the fridge waiting for me for 3 days and that's just about as long as sprouts can wait so tonight we eat burgers!   First they need to be ground down in the food processor.  I had close to 3 cups of sprouts. and then added 1 cup of cooked black beans which I mixed in whole.
 Next I added 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup flax meal, 2 tsp salt and pepper, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 3 tsp dried), 1 tsp garlic powder (or 3 cloves fresh) and 1 chopped Serrano pepper (or 1 tsp cayenne).     Mix well.
I used an ice cream scoop and refrigerated the burgers to firm them up a bit (they're very sticky)

About an hour later I flattened and fried them in a tiny bit of olive oil until crispy.
I'm using my grill fry pan which is sooo much easier to clean then the George Foreman!
This is Steve's dinner with baked sweet potato fries, mine was the same but without the bun.

I've saved the rest of the burgers raw and tomorrow I will try dehydrating them.   So final conclusion??? These burgers were good and held together well but needed some BAM! (like Emeril would so annoyingly yell).   I will definitely be making these again soon but next time I will be adding one of these ingredients to up the wow factor.
Crumbled blue cheese  (Goat would work well too)
Curry paste (something nice and strong and hot)
Raisins or chopped apricots and pumpkin seeds
corn, cilantro instead of basil and lots of chili powder and cumin
chick peas instead of black beans with oregano and feta
I think this could go on and on and I have found a veggie burger that will become a new family favorite.

Garden ready

After searching for tomato plants unsuccessfully since Saturday, tonight I finally hit the jackpot!  My garden is dug, compost and soil are purchased and 5 tomato plants, 4 yellow pepper plants, 3 cucumbers, 4 yellow squash, cilantro, parsley and thyme are sitting in their pots ready to go.     Now I need to get digging and hope the weather stays so beautiful.         A bit of bad news for my garden though......this morning while driving the girls to school we past a soccer field that must have had 15 rabbits running around on it!  Looks like I'll be be dealing with a bit of a challenge and a maybe a net fence?      it's not cheap to start a garden (even though mine is just little) and I would be none to happy to wake up to it half eaten and some fat bunnies waiting for more.     I also picked up a compost bin for the backyard and feel a weird sense of relief having it because I was feeling so guilty throwing my scraps in the garbage having been so diligent about composting in Quebec.    Now that the garden is on it's way and my veggie scraps are working to eventually feed it, I've decided to really go green and experiment with making my own everyday products. To start with.....shaving cream for the girls and shaving oil for Steve.  I've already gone green with dish soap and today made window cleaner using 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 3 1/2 cups water.     I put it into a spray bottle and it works great!!   I know that vinegar and windows is nothing new but the rubbing alcohol really makes a difference.  I'll never use Windex again!!
I just picked up 3 spray bottles from the Dollar store and made sure the write the directions on 1 bottle for next time.
This is left over toner that I made for Steve (he uses tons of this stuff but don't tell anyone  :) )  It's just lemon juice, witch hazel and distilled water.
Unfortunately it ended up raining and I couldn't finish the garden today but it was actually a blessing because apparently it's supposed to go down to -4!      29 degrees to -4.....this is Alberta I'm told.
I'll be bringing these babies into the house tonight!
Seems as though these big guys are like gold here since it took me 3 days to find them.  I've not had good luck with my veggies because of sandy soil and too many trees (not enough sun) in the past 8 yrs so I can't wait to finally harvest a successful garden!        unless evil bunnies stand in my way....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cookin with quinoa

People are always asking me how to cook quinoa and once it's cooked, what to do with it.    Quinoa (keen-wa) is actually a seed from a leafy plant and related to spinach.    It is super high in protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a great choice for vegetarians.        Cooking instructions for quinoa are just like rice with 1 cup to 2 cups of liquid.  I do it a bit differently though.....last night I made a simple pilaf with some bbq chicken for dinner.      Steve and I made a quick trip to Costco to pick up fertilizer and tomato plants (which they had run out of  :( ) and on my way out of the store I found this bbq sauce on sale, 3 packs for $9.99.
Organic and local, 2 of my favorite product qualities!

So when I got home, 1 big onion and 5 cloves of garlic were sauteed until tender and then 2 cups of quinoa.   I like toasting all of my grains until lightly brown before adding liquid since it adds a nice nutty flavor.   Once this was done instead of adding 4 cups of water (remember 2 cups of quinoa), I added 2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of broth.

Then I added about 2 handfuls of chopped kale
Now bring the broth to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit until quinoa is fluffy and seeds are sort of broken and see through (fluffy like couscous).       Now I chopped up veggies left over from last nights curry veggie soup.
Red, yellow and orange peppers. zucchini, carrots (kale added to broth) and 1 serrano pepper.  Now add all veggies to quinoa along with 2 tsp (or more) thyme and salt n pepper to taste, let warm up with the lid on until veggies are tender (about 10 min).    Once this was done I decided to add 1 apple cubed since there was already apple juice in the broth along with the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 cup of raisins.  This really added a fresh taste and sweetness to it.
Done!  This made a huge batch but that's the way I roll!  :)   This'll be perfect all week for lunch in Steve's wraps and leftovers for tomorrow nights dinner.  
The bbq sauce was very good and I can't wait to taste the lemon rosemary one on fish.
See how easy quinoa is?    Swap it with rice and you'll add more vitamins, fiber and protein into your diet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Vegetable curry soup

Happy Monday!  I know....mostly Monday's suck but I can't help but be in a good mood when it's sunny and 26 degrees, must be the Vit D.   Yesterday I pulled out all the tanks, flip flops and shorts and tucked the heavy sweaters away - who doesn't love that?  Last night I needed to use up my abundance of veggies that were all mostly on the 'verge' of giving up and through it all in the Vitamix and then finished it off on the stove with tons of curry and spices.  I added a whole bag of frozen Lima beans and then topped the soup with Greek yogurt, shredded coconut, cilantro and some tomatoes.    It was very delish and super filling.
Steam a butternut squash (I just nuke it as is)
After blending the cooked squash, 3 carrots, 1/2 onion, 6 cloves of garlic (yup 6!), 2 stalks of celery, 1 green pepper, 1 Serrano pepper, 2 cups of stock and 1 can diced tomatoes,  I added the Lima beans, 1 tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp ground coriander,  3 tsp cumin, salt n pepper to taste, 2 tbsp yellow curry paste, 1 tbsp brown sugar and the juice of 1 lemon.    Whew!  sounds like a lot but I seriously threw everything into the blender and then poured in a large pot (then added all spices).   Let it simmer covered for a good hour and voila!      nuthin but veggie soup with tons of flavor.    

And I couldn't forget little daisy the other picky eater in the family.  I think she finds it an insult that I feed her dog food and will only eat it when she's completely starving.  

Looks like poop :)   These are homemade dog treats and she actually likes them!

Planet organic

One of the hardest parts of adjusting to a new city or in our case sometimes even a new country is finding out where the best places to shop are.  I tend to be very faithful once I find my favorite markets and rarely will that involve less than 3 or 4 different places.   Yesterday I found a great organic market called Although I don't necessarily buy a lot of my groceries in organic (mostly because of the cost) I do love specialty stores for things like chia seeds, tempeh, certain vitamins and so on.   Now with my venture into 'Raw' it's a perfect place to find new products.    Yesterday I found the oat groats that I've been searching for and am in the process of trying out a new recipe from the oats are fermented in water over a few days.  First I soaked them in water all night and then this morning I ground it down until creamy.  Now the mixture will ferment and thicken over the next few days  (hopefully!).

I'm leaving it covered on my window sill where it's warm and this is supposed to speed up the fermentation process.

I was also really surprised by how well the sprouts did in the bag because I really had my doubts that a whole 2 cups would sprout being so packed in.  This is great because using the mason jar method only produces maybe a 1/4 cup.  I love when I find new products that work!!   Now I have something to do with all of this  :)
Had a great workout today and I was pretty hungry when I got home so I had another sandwich with the raw bread but this time I toasted it - so good!  It was much better and held together perfectly.  
Strawberries are fresh and yummy everywhere right now so a little greek yogurt and some unsweetened chocolate nibs I found at the organic store went perfectly.
Time for lunch making.....Supposed to be 26 degrees tomorrow!!!