Thursday, October 29, 2009

Love Notes Left Behind

   I can't stop thinking about the story of a six year old girl, Elena, who died of  brain cancer. Before she died she hid love notes to her family all over her house- in books, drawers, and bags of Christmas decorations. She's been gone for two years and her family is still finding them. Her story has been published in a book called "Notes Left Behind", with all proceeds going to The Cure Starts Now, a research charity started by her parents. An article about her story can be found here.

As the parent of a child with cancer, this story touches me deeply. I can relate to much of what her family has been through. I believe there is no loss greater than that of your child. My heart aches for them.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baba Ghanoush



There seem to be only eggplant lovers and eggplant haters, no middle ground. Baba ghanoush can change that. Luxuriously creamy, it tastes like hummus. The eggplant flavor is very muted. One of my daughters dislikes the texture of hummus, but she likes baba ghanoush. So even if you dislike the flavor of eggplant or the texture of hummus, this may be for you.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Natural Home Remedies For Colds and Flu

The best ways to prevent colds and flu, as we all know, are handwashing, avoiding sick people and living a healthy lifestyle that keeps your immune system strong. But unless you are a hermit, at some point you will get sick. I had the misfortune of sitting near a sick woman at a concert last week who let loose with a sneeze directly at me. Now I have chills, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and I ache all over. One trip upstairs left me totally exhausted. So today I'm sharing the natural home remedies that I use when someone in our house is sick.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red Potato and Green Bean Salad



This week was the last farmers' market of the year and I picked up the last of the fresh green beans. I combined them with the redskin potatoes I grew in my garden and made this simple, yummy salad. I like to eat it warm, but it is also good cold. I have always liked mustard in salads like my Spicy Mustard Coleslaw. And mustard is very good for you. It's a good source of the anti-cancer nutrient selenium, as well as omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium. Just make sure to read the ingredients on the label; I have seen high fructose corn syrup and msg in some and they certainly don't belong in mustard.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Favorite Fall Vegetable Recipe Roundup

Today is my 150th blog post, time really does fly when you are having fun! So in honor of the occasion I wanted to do something special. I am inviting all of you to add your links to your favorite fall vegetable recipe in the widget below. It can be new or old, your own original recipe or someone elses,  just make sure to place a  link to this post on your blog so everyone can share the veggie goodness!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Saffron Braided Bread



I do a lot of bread baking during the colder months. Sometimes I make my homemade bread by hand, sometimes I use my bread machine. The bread machine is one of my favorite appliances because it saves me so much time. For this recipe I use the  machine to mix the dough, then take it out and finish it the traditional way. But if you don't have a breadmaker, you can make any bread recipe by hand. It's not difficult, people have been doing it for thousands of years. I will give the directions for doing it by hand after the bread machine directions.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins





Squash is one of the best things about fall. It is so versatile, good in everything from soup to muffins. I made these muffins using pureed butternut squash, but you can use pumpkin also. And if you don't have fresh, or some puree in your freezer, you can substitute canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling).

Muffins are one of the easiest things to make vegan. Fruit or vegetable purees like pumpkin, applesauce and mashed bananas easily replace unhealthy ingredients like trans-fat filled margarine or shortening.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maple Ginger Baked Beans



The cold weather put me in the mood for a nice pot of baked beans. As often happens, life got in the way of my plans and I completely forgot to soak the beans overnight. So I came up with this using canned beans. The crock pot is great for busy days, just throw everything in and when you come back later, your meal is ready. These beans are good served with a nice crusty whole grain bread and a salad. They are also good served over brown rice or quinoa.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crockpot Applesauce



Homemade applesauce is a great, easy fall treat. It has been unseasonably cold here, we didn't have much of a summer and it looks like we're not going to have much fall either. So warm applesauce is especially appealing right now. I put the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and lovely warm applesauce greeted the kids after their cold walk home from school in the afternoon.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perfect Cup of Hot Cocoa



We stood in the pouring rain, freezing for nearly an hour friday night to watch my daughter's final marching band performance and participate in the senior send-off ceremony. Because of the cold, wind, and rain, most of the balloons we let fly ended up on the ground on the end of the football field.

 Ordinarily this would have been a sad time for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute as a stay at home mom raising my kids, and this school year is full of lasts. Because my youngest are twins, it's double lasts. Last marching band performance, last open houses to attend,(they go to different schools),  last set of teacher conferences, last homecoming dance, etc. They really do grow up too fast. The best, most fulfilling part of my life is drawing to a close. Soon they won't need me anymore and as college approaches they won't have much time to spend with me. And while that's killing me inside, it's as it should be. My oldest son will always need me because of his disabilities, but if I've done my job right, the others won't need me. They'll be able to stand on their own and take care of themselves.

What makes this easier for me is that I truly like and respect the people my children have turned out to be. And it didn't hurt that it was rainy and cold; I despise cold weather and couldn't wait to get warm. So instead of thinking sad thoughts, I was thinking how good a nice hot cup of cocoa would be.

The perfect cup of cocoa is very simple. It should have only three ingredients- milk, cocoa and cane sugar. Some people add mint, vanilla, cinnamon or other flavorings; I've even had cocoa with a dash of hot pepper in it. But they detract from the soothing, glorious cocoa flavor. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Cocoa is one of the easiest things to make, so don't buy the little pre-measured envelopes.  They contain unhealthy trans-fats and other nasties that don't belong in hot cocoa in order to mask the use of inferior ingredients. Here's what is in Nestle hot cocoa:


SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

Often marshmallows which are also full of nasty ingredients are added to try and improve the flavor of their cheap ingredients.(and marshmallows aren't vegetarian)  If I wish to garnish my hot cocoa the only thing I use is real whipped cream.

Use the best quality non-dutched cocoa you can find. (I use Rapunzel-it's organic, non-alkaline, and fair trade.) Dutch process cocoa has been processed with an alkali. This greatly reduces the flavonoid content of the cocoa, making it far less healthful as well as less flavorful. Numerous studies have shown that flavonoids are beneficial to cardiovascular health. Cocoa is also a good source of potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Perfect Hot Cocoa
1 c. milk
2 T. non-alkaline cocoa
1 T. cane sugar

Make a paste of cocoa, sugar and 2 T. of milk. Heat the rest of the milk, then whisk into cocoa paste till frothy. Garnish with a tablespoon of whipped cream if desired.

Whipped Cream
8 oz. heavy cream
2 T. raw honey (or you can sub 1/4 c. confectioners sugar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip cream till it begins to thicken, add sweetener and vanilla and whip till stiff.

Head on over to Momtrends where this recipe has been linked and check out her fabulous Friday Feast linkup.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Squash Cornmeal Rye Bread



This is my favorite fall bread and each fall when the pumpkins and butternut squash come in, it's one of the first things I make. This is made by hand, so don't worry if you don't have a bread machine. And don't be afraid, so many people think that making bread is complicated and difficult. It's not, anyone can do it. The recipe is adapted from  a recipe by Beth Hensperger in  Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions which unfortunately is out of print, although some copies are still available. She has a number of other books out, but I don't know if the original recipe for this one is in any of them.

You can use any squash you like, I've used pumpkin and butternut in this, both with great results. The recipe makes two loaves so you can freeze one for later if you want. I've done this and it freezes well.  I use mostly blackstrap molasses in mine, it is a great way to boost iron intake for vegetarians. If you don't like the flavor of it, just follow the directions for subbing that I included in the recipe.

I cook, puree and freeze squash for use later in the year in recipes like this bread. This post tells about  Winter Squash Varieties , tells how to cook squash and links to some other recipes to use it in.

Squash Cornmeal Rye Bread

1/2 c. organic yellow cornmeal
1 c. water

1/4 c. blackstrap molasses    (You can sub 1/3 c. honey or agave nectar
2 T. honey                             instead of the 1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
                                               and 2 T. honey that I used)
                                             

4 T. butter
3/4 c. butternut puree
2 1/2 tsp. sea salt
----

1 1/2 T. yeast
drop of molasses or honey
1 c. warm water
3/4 c. rye flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 c. bread flour

In a small saucepan combine cornmeal and water. Cook and stir over medium heat till cornmeal thickens. Stir in molasses and honey ( or agave- whatever you choose to use), butter, butternut puree and salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile place warm water in a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over it and drop of molasses or honey. Stir to dissolve, then let stand 10 min. till foamy. Add the cornmeal mixture, the rye and the whole wheat flour. Stir till creamy, then add the white whole wheat flour and finally the bread flour, turning dough onto floured counter top to work when needed. Knead about 3 minutes, then place in oiled bowl and let sit in warm spot 1 1/2 -2 hrs. till dough has doubled in size.

Divide dough into two equal portions, knead and form into loaves, place in oiled 9x5 bread pans. With a sharp knife make 4-5 slashes in top of loaves and then brush top of loaves with a little olive oil. Let rise 30 min. Preheat oven to 350, bake 30 min. cool in pan 10 min. then remove to wire rack to finish cooling. Slice when completely cool.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Borscht



Beets create a beautiful gem tone colored broth. It's as pretty to look at is it is good for you. Beets are loaded with folate, manganese and potassium. Choose firm small to medium beets, when they get too large they get woody and tough. They can be shredded and eaten raw in salads. One of my favorite salads- Orange Beet Salad  uses cooked beets To cook them- remove the leaves and the roots, wash and boil 20 -30 min. till easily pierced with a fork, then remove the skins- they will slip right off. Beets can also be roasted or steamed. Don't forget to eat the nutritious greens as well- they can be cooked like any other greens or put into smoothies. This is a vegan recipe unless you add the sour cream.

Borscht

2 c. sliced cooked beets (I used a bunch from my garden-about 6 should do, or you could sub canned)
1/2 of a red pepper, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
8 c. water
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
sour cream, opt.

Combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and sour cream in a large soup pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired. Goes great with a nice crusty whole grain bread and a green salad. Reheats well.


I almost forgot to add that I got my stitches out and this  Wedderspoon Raw Organic Organic Manuka Honey Active 16+, 17.6-Ounce Jar  worked amazingly well on my cut, as I discussed in my  Tips for Natural Wound Healing. The doctor was very pleased with how well it healed, although because of the location on my knuckle I have to be careful with it for the next month. Since I no longer have to wear the splint, I can now wear a glove and get back in the kitchen cooking, yay!

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Pecan Stuffed Baked Apples



The scent of apples and cinnamon wafting through the house is wonderful. Fruit is usually my dessert of choice, and usually raw. But occasionally I like to bake it, it smells so delicious, and warm fruit fresh from the oven is so comforting on a crisp fall day.

Apples are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and phytonutrients. The skin is where most of the nutrition is found, so it's important to eat the whole apple, unpeeled, and not consumed as juice. Apples are number two on the dirty dozen list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. So get organic if possible since you are consuming the skins. There are so many varieties of apples, from tart to super sweet, so there is sure to be a variety that everyone enjoys.

Pecans are the only native american nut. They have the highest antioxidant level of all nuts, and are nutrient dense- containing more than 19 vitamins and minerals.  Loma Linda University  is one of many that have done studies showing that consuming nuts has cardiovascular benefits. A small hand full a day is a delicious way to enhance your health.

This is a simple recipe, feel free to use any kind of apples you wish. You can substitute walnuts or almonds if you don't have pecans. If you are using the oven to cook dinner at a different temperature, you can cook the apples at the same time, just cook a little longer if the temperature is lower, or a little shorter if the temperature is higher. They are done when pierced easily with a fork.



Pecan Stuffed Baked Apples

apples of your choice, 1 for each person
1 T. of honey per apple
generous pinch of cinnamon per apple
few chopped pecans for each apple

Preheat oven to 375. Wash and core apples, try not to go all the way through the bottom, leave 1/4-1/2 inch intact if possible. The easiest way to do this is with a melon-baller, but an apple corer like this  Oxo Good Grips Corer or knife will work too.
Place apples in baking pan, fill the hole where the core was with honey, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Add 1/4 c. water to bottom of pan, cover and bake about 45 min.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Black Bean Dip



 I cleaned out my garden this week, just before the first fall frost and packed away the trellises and pots till next year. Now I have a ton of veggies. My counter is covered with red potatoes, roma and yellow pear tomatoes, and bowls of red and green peppers. My fridge is filled with beets, beet greens, and swiss chard. My dehydrator is full right now with parsley and basil. It's amazing how much you can grow in a tiny yard and a few pots.

I dehydrated a lot of peppers for use later in soups and stews, but I still have a ton. So I used some of the baby peppers for this. Stuffed with bean dip, they make the perfect edible serving bowl. Since the beans are pureed along with the salsa and avacado, even non-bean-lovers like my daughter enjoy this dip. This makes a wonderful appetizer, snack, or light lunch. It goes well with all kinds of raw veggies and with whole wheat pita bread.

Black beans have the highest antioxidant level of all beans. They are also loaded with folate and magnesium. Eating black beans can help stabilize blood sugar because of their fiber content.

Avacados are a good source of vitamin K, folate and potassium. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure. Avacados also contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid. The fat in avacado increases the absorption of carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein in the other vegetables you eat it with. Tastes good and good for you, what more can you ask!


Black Bean Dip

1 1/2 c. cooked black beans ( you can sub 1 can, rinsed and drained)
1 c. salsa ( I used my homemade salsa, but you can use whatever kind you like)
1 avacado
juice of 1/2 of a lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Combine ingredients in food processor and puree. Spoon into peppers to serve. Serve with veggies or whole wheat pita.

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