Sunday, March 29, 2009

Salmon and Potato Soup

Utah weather. Saturday was sunny and warming. There was no snow on the ground. We built planter boxes and went on a picnic at the park. Then comes Sunday morning. Light flakes of snow drift down as we head into church. Three hours later we emerge from the chapel to 6 inches of blizzard! I loathe Utah weather in early Spring. We cozied up in the afternoon with sweet herbal tea, naps and Yahtzee. Then, not able to deny the winter white outside my window, I made bread, salad, and Salmon and Potato Soup. It was delicious... or as my little boys put it, "This is great mom!!"

Salmon and Potato Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup rice milk
2-3 cups water
10 red potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (in the food processor)
1-2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 salmon filets (approx 12-16 oz total)
water for boiling
2 cups frozen corn kernels (reserve for serving)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In bottom of large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and carrots and saute until all are soft, adding a little of the veg stock if needed. Once they are softened, add stock, rice milk, water, potatoes and paprika. Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium low, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft. In separate medium-small pot, place salmon filets in enough water to cover them, salt well and bring to a low boil, cover and let cook until fish flakes easily (about 10 minutes). Drain off water, break fish into flakes with a fork and add to the main soup pot. Sea salt and pepper to taste and let simmer a little to combine flavors. Add frozen corn kernels to separate bowls at serving time to help cool soup. Serve with a green salad and some hearty bread and enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I pledged to take pictures of my food from now on, but it was my daughter's first birthday (Happy Birthday Ary!) and between cake baking and present wrapping and dinner, the photographer was busy and the camera, when in use, was on the birthday girl!
This recipe is inspired by a craving for twice baked potatoes and lack of any potatoes but red in the house (their skins don't hold together so well). It was a big hit and even my notoriously slow eaters cleaned their plates pronto!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

12 red potatoes
3/4 cup favorite ranch dressing (I prefer Lighthouse Homestyle Ranch for the flavor and because it's one of the few without MSG)
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/2-3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
approx 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella.) optional
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Wash potatoes, prick skins with knife or fork and place in 400 degree oven for 45 min- 1 hour until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove from oven (reduce oven heat to 375 but leave on) and let cool slightly, then remove all skins and place peeled potatoes in a large bowl. Add ranch dressing, broccoli and corn, 1/4 cup of the cheese and seasoning. Mash ingredients with fork or potato masher until they are well mixed. Place mixture into a medium sized baking dish, top with remaining cheese and place in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lemon Garlic Pasta Salad

This recipe just shouts spring! It turned out really delicious and the only cooking involved is boiling noodles.

Lemon Garlic Pasta Salad

12 -15 oz Whole wheat noodles- I used Hodgson Mills Organic Whole Wheat Penne with Milled Flax Seed
Water for boiling
2 cups chopped broccoli florettes
2-3 diced roma tomatoes or 4-5 campari tomatoes
approx 1/2 cup diced yellow pepper (or sliced mini peppers)
approx 1/2 cup diced red pepper (or sliced mini)
1-2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/2-1 cup diced seedless cucumber
approx 1/2 15 oz can black olives, sliced

1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1/2- 3/4 cup olive oil
4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced or micrograted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 -1 tsp dried parsley
1/4-1/2 tsp dried basil (this would be so good with fresh!)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Run under cold water until no longer warm. Drain well.
In small bowl, place dressing ingredients, whisking olive oil in gradually to emulsify.
In large bowl place vegetables and cold pasta. Cover with dressing mix, tossing to coat well.
Serve and enjoy!
Optional: sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese

Friday, March 6, 2009

A glimpse into my kitchen

I don't know why I didn't think of it before. My sweetest friend Ezzy made a request the other night as she, lovely Nae and I noshed Indian-style in cozy company. She asked for my grocery list! Her inquiry made perfect sense as soon as it parted her lips. When I look up recipes, I very often wonder, "Did they really have this stuff in their kitchen??" Most of the time with my recipes, the answer is yes- I keep it on hand. When you have a specific lifestyle you'd like to maintain, it helps to have the right stuff in your kitchen. So here is a glimpse into my kitchen and some tips as to how I make it easier for myself to make healthy eating feel indulgent and adventurous rather than stressful and unmaintanable.
As I begin this list, I am realizing this is going to have to be a series of posts. I don't always buy everything in every grocery trip, so we'll take it a bit at a time.
We'll start with a typical Costco trip. I have a family of 5 (my husband and I and 3 darlings). We go through a LOT of produce. Costco saves us. I do the bulk of my shopping there. This trip lasts us 2 weeks. We spend approximately $500/month on food. To us, totally worth it- very few trips to the doc and a life of feeling awesome most of the time!

~Whole wheat bread- 4- 5 loaves of locally made, real ingredient bread at just under 2 bucks a loaf. I put 4 in the freezer and keep one in the fridge at a time. Nothing ever goes moldy. We make a lot of peanut butter and agave sandwiches.
~Tortillas. I buy whole wheat and regular white flour. Again- if I'm not sure we'll get through them all, I freeze some.
~Red potatoes (if I'm out)
~Onions/ Garlic (if I'm out)
~Yams/sweet potatoes (whenever they have them)
~ Avacados (when in season)
~Roma tomatoes
~Apples (we like gala and fuji)
~Pears (if they have good ones and are in season)
~(in the summer) Nectarines or peaches
~Bananas (one pig bunch that is fairly ripe and one that is still fairly green) If they start to get too ripe near the end, I slice them onto a cookie sheet, freeze them and then keep them in a ziploc in the freezer for smoothies.
~Clementines (when in season)
~Romaine Lettuce hearts
~Flat Leaf Spinach
~Broccoli Florets
~Red peppers (or mini mixed peppers)
~Baby Carrots
~Baby bella mushrooms
~(in the summer) Fresh Pineapple and/or Mangoes
~Frozen strawberries
~Frozen Blueberries
~Frozen fruit mix (Spectrum Blend is what they carry at my costco- peaches, white peaches, pineapple, honeydew melon, blueberries and strawberries)
~Frozen sweet corn
~Frozen green beans (if I'm out)
~Frozen Stir Fry mix (if I'm out)
~Frozen fish (Salmon, Mahi Mahi, Shrimp whatever is cheapest- these big bags last us a while in the freezer. I usually buy one every other shopping trip.)
~Mozzarella cheese (separate itinto smaller ziplocs and freeze them so they last a long time. Again, probably every other shopping trip)
~Fresh Pressed Apple juice
~ Concord Grape Juice
~ Rice milk (one box lasts us months)
~ One favorite fairly healthy cereal- Cheerios, autumn wheat or flax plus granola (every other shopping trip)
~ organic Peanut Butter (every other trip)
~ Raisins (the Costco pack lasts us months) or Craisins
~ a healthy-ish cracker/chip snack (gotta have snacks)
~whatever canned stuff I need to stock up on (beans, tomatoes, etc...)
~ vegetable stock (if they have it) or organic chicken broth (sometimes)

Coming soon: Things I keep on hand in the cupboard, freezer and fridge

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Lately it seems I have had far too many mentions of Holy Basil in my life to be coincidence. Information began flying out of the woodwork until I simply could not ignore it any more.
I did my own research and found article after article on the positive, stress-reducing and health effects with no side effects or negative issues. I was convinced- had to try it. I popped my my local health store looking for Tulsi tea. They didn't carry a tea form, but they did have Holy Basil caplets in concentrated form. They were pricey (28 bucks for 60 caplets), but I had to try them. Later I found some online sources that could have saved me a good 10 bucks even with shipping!
I got home from a hectic shopping trip and took my first dose. I have to say. I am floored! This stuff is amazing! I have not felt so positive, happy and stress-free since I was a kid! I have energy and a positive mindset- a clear head that allows me to organize myself and get more done. And I am not wired at all! I had zero issues hopping into bed at 10:30 and falling right into a deep and relaxed sleep.
Here is what the LuckyVitamin Blog says about it:

Everyone is always looking for the magic pill. Wouldn’t be nice to take something and feel a lot better right away? We know there isn’t such a thing, but we can find some pills that may help you “feel better”.

Holy Basil is also known as Tulsi (means “the incomparable one”) and has been helping people feel better for many years. The herb has been called the “Queen of Herbs” since the ancient civilization. Originally from India, this powerful herb can increase the body’s resistance to stress and minimize the negative effects of stress on the body.

Many people believe Holy Basil can support carbohydrate metabolism, resulting in healthy blood glucose levels. Several products for blood sugar support add this herb in their formulas.

Studies have also showed the ability of Holy Basil to promote body relaxation. People have been able to sleep better, reducing stress levels and elevating spirit when taking the herb on a regular basis.

Holy Basil is safe to use and it can be taken by kids, adults and elderly people, with no sides effects. It’s a great product for children, calming them down and supporting better nights of sleep.

If you are not getting results from more traditional products, such as St. John’s Wort, Gaba, Kava Kava and L-theanine, Holy Basil could be the “magic pill” for you.

Wikipedia also has great information and study references to back up the claims.

I am pretty sold. Anyone with high-stress, who is prone to worry or who has depression issues or sleep issues could benefit immensely from this herb.