Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Simple Meals

Hi all!

I've been a bad girl and have gone WAY too long without writing. I apologize! Over the past couple weeks, I have actually created several new recipes, but I think I'd only make one or two of them again- one of which was a creamy pasta vegetable bake that Claire loved! I'll try to post that recipe soon.

I recently discovered a new blog called Straight Up Food and I've been totally inspired to simplify my meals. I've always known I don't need to make a big fancy main course every night, but I've just gotten in the habit of it and forgotten that simpler is usually healthier and quicker. My new plan is for most of our dinners to be a salad, steamed vegetables, and either a grain or starchy vegetable. And of course, I would add beans, nut sauces, and/or avocado for the protein and fat factors. Generally, Brant and I avoid using salt and oil in our cooking, and I have found that these simple meals are more enjoyable than for instance, a pad thai dish without salt and oil.

Here is what I made for dinner tonight:

The picture is a little blurry, but you get the point! So, I made a green salad with romaine lettuce, baby bok choy, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, tomato, red pepper, avocado, and fresh basil and cilantro, seasoned with no-salt seasoning from Costco and garlic powder, and dressed with a couple tbsp of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. This salad was light, fresh, and very flavorful with the fresh herbs and lemon juice- I didn't miss the salt or oil at all! I also steamed asparagus and zucchini and tossed it with a cashew cream sauce that was made from cashews, almond milk, onion powder, and no-salt seasoning all blended together (I used about 1 1/4 cups cashews, 1 cup almond milk, and onion powder and seasoning to taste). I put the asparagus and zucchini on top of some steamed and mashed red potatoes that were also mixed with a little cashew cream sauce and garlic powder. This portion of the meal was also delicious, filling, and seemingly sinful :)

 I don't think Claire was very hungry as she had a late lunch, but she did eat some of the zucchini, asparagus, potatoes, and a few chopped veggies from my salad. She also ate some banana. Nut-cream sauces are a great way to make steamed veggies more filling and tasty for little ones. The other night, Claire ate some of the peas I gave her in a pecan cream sauce, and then literally was scooping the sauce from the bowl with her hands into her mouth and tipping the bowl like a cup to drink the sauce. She LOVES nut-cream sauces!

Anyway, you'll be seeing more of these types of meals in the future, but I'll also try to post some of the more creative meals I make as well. Have a great week!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy late Easter!

Happy day after Easter to all of you! I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. This year was particularly special because I got to spend Easter with my grandparents and my mom! I can't remember the last Easter that I celebrated with the grandparents, so it was fun :) Unfortunately, my dad was unable to make the trip out because of work, but that's life I suppose. Also, not all of Brant's family was able to make it to the celebration either, but all in all, it was a great day!

As most of you can guess by now, we eat very little animal products. However, this weekend, we definitely enjoyed our fill of animals and their products! For me, I tend to eat healthier overall if I do not feel extremely restricted. Granted, some of you may think avoiding animal products is extremely restrictive, but what makes the difference for me is that I happily make the choice to avoid certain foods and I don't feel deprived. What IS difficult, is when I don't want to avoid a food, but I decide to avoid it anyway for a certain health reason. For example, when I was having my bowel problems, I was avoiding grains because I have read that can help. Unfortunately, I felt extremely deprived and ended up binging after a week or two. SO, my point is that by allowing myself occasionally to have animal products when I really want them, or any food for that matter, it is much easier to happily avoid that food the rest of time.

For some reason, I could not get enough ham this year! I have never been a big ham person, but this year I loved it!! Maybe it was because we bought the ham, glazed it, cooked it, and hosted Easter, it was just that much more delicious! After the meal, I gave away as much of the ham as I could, ate a little today, and then froze the rest. I'm hoping my carnivore brother will enjoy it when he visits next :) I ate very healthily from mid-afternoon on today and feel back on a healthy eating track after my crazy food-and-fun-filled weekend. Brant and I enjoyed a nice big salad, mashed cauliflower "potatoes", a whole wheat english muffin, and some fruit for dinner tonight. I'm going to do a post soon on using cauliflower instead of potatoes for mashed potatoes. I couldn't believe how good it was! I can't take all the credit though- my dear high school friend was talking about cauliflower potatoes today so I decided to try it out tonight. I easily could have eaten the entire dish by myself but had to save some for Brant. How often do you eat an entire cauliflower in one sitting? I never have, that's for sure, but I may start soon with this recipe!

Anyway, enough about all of that. I'm going to post a few pics from Easter weekend and then hopefully in the next day or two, I'll have another food post for you! Happy Monday!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chickpea-Spinach-Yam Curry

Hi all! Hope you had a great weekend! I probably won't be posting much on the weekends as that is the only time I really get with Brant. He usually gets home between 7 and 8 pm during the week, but lately it's been more like 10 pm. Crazy! He is one hard-worker and I'm very proud of him :)

Anyway, I haven't felt like cooking much lately, let alone creating new recipes, however today I forced myself to make dinner instead of ordering out. Much healthier and cheaper! At first I thought about making a veggie-licious soup, but then decided I didn't feel like chopping a bunch of vegetables. Usually when Brant and I cook together, I put him on onion and garlic duty, my least favorite, hee hee. Luckily, he doesn't mind ;) However, since Brant wasn't home yet, I decided to make a variation of Isa's chickpea spinach curry from Vegan with a Vengeance. The original recipe includes chopping onion, garlic, ginger, and toasting mustard seeds which is more than I wanted to do. Instead, I heated up a can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, a can of drained chickpeas, spinach, cooked yam, and a few spices, and voila! A delicious dinner was served! Surprisingly, Claire even liked it. I wasn't sure how she would respond to the different Indian spices, but she seemed to love it! It really is more of a sweet, spicy dish than a hot, spicy dish.

Potatoes or yams usually take a while to cook in soups or stews, so I just cooked mine in the microwave first for about 7 ish minutes on the potato setting. The yam and garam masala (spice blend of pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and coriander) add a nice sweetness to this curry. My yam was very soft so it soaked up some of the juice from the tomatoes and spinach and made the consistency thicker and heartier. I was also able to pack about 8 cups of spinach into this dish as spinach cooks down to almost nothing. I served the dish over brown rice, although, you could really serve over any grain or just eat it as is. This dish has no added oil and no added salt, but still has great flavor. I would definitely make it again! If I was feeling more energetic next time, I would probably chop up some onions, garlic, and fresh ginger and water-saute that first before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices. If I was really ambitious, I would cook my chickpeas from scratch too, but then I'd have to plan this meal either the day before or early that day so the chickpeas would have time to soak and cook. Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe!

Chickpea-Spinach-Yam Curry

-1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (I used no-salt added)
-1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
-1 medium yam or sweet potato
-8 cups baby spinach
-1 heaping tsp garam masala
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp tumeric
-1/4 tsp ginger powder
-Pinch of cayenne

Poke holes or make slits in your yam/sweet potato and then cook in microwave on the potato setting for 5-7  minutes. Peel off skin when done and then chop. Set aside.

Put tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices in pot and cook over medium heat until hot, about 10 minutes. Add spinach, a couple handfuls at a time, cover pot, and cook until spinach wilts down. Add another couple handfuls of spinach, and repeat process until all 8 cups are in the pot and cooked down. Add the cooked yam, mix well, add extra seasonings/salt/pepper to taste, and serve with brown rice or grain of your choosing! Enjoy :)