Normally when people post on their blogs about changes, they generally mean changes to the website. But. . .not here. Not in this case.
Instead, I am sharing three major life stresses/changes that we seem to have chosen to happen at about the same time. And these changes, naturally, do play a part in eating habits. My plan is to share stories and recipes throughout the coming weeks that make all of these issues a little more fun for all of us.
As we sat around on the porch feeding our collection of toddler girls pretzel-style Goldfish Crackers, one of my friends, also the mom to a three-month-old sighed. "You know, it's true what they say about it being harder to lose weight with your second child. I see it because it's hard to eat healthily when you always have junk food around to feed your toddler."
And I gulped. But I don't want to have a hard time losing weight with this kid! It was so easy with Nora.
Well, I'm not much at cooking or writing these days. But luckily I know some great people with good camera skills. So here's do a recap of Nora's birthday, which was in early February.
We rented a pavilion at a fabulous park. While we don't believe in large parties for such a young child, we just know too many people to keep it at our house. And for the love we have we Praise God. We are blessed to have wonderful friends.
FitSugar has four great ideas for cutting back on meat if it's part of your New Year's Resolutions to eat better. I'd also like to add in there the concept of Weekday Vegetarian. Some people also make the switch to being a pescatarian as a stepping stone to meat-free as well. Pescatarians eat fish along with a traditional vegetarian diet.
I haven't been cooking much. Bless Paul and Nora for being willing to eat oatmeal for two or three meals a day. Here are a few ideas for what I've served because they require very little of my time and have a mild smell.
I actually set out the pots and non-perishable ingredients at lunch time (down to filling the pot with water and measuring out the cornmeal) when I felt my best so I don't have to think as much about dinner.
While it's many a reader's pet peeve to follow a blogger who suddenly quits blogging, it's an even bigger annoyance to have the blogger draw attention to her absence. But I beg you to keep reading. . .and even to refresh your memory you might want to read back to a similar post from two years ago.
This article on McDonald's moving into Loma Linda, California, a community well known for its health and superb medical institution, was one of the top 10 most emailed news articles from the New York Times today. It touches so many nerves. I have to say part of me readily agrees with the comments that tell residents to use the presence of the chain as an educational to. Just because it's there and the children beg does not mean you actually have to stop there. But as a medical professional, as a mother, and as someone who desires to help everyone want to eat well, I am bothered by the extra temptation. Because there are times when it's just too easy.
Thanks for the great feedback about the Food Face Plate series. Have you been missing it? So have we. But there's a rhyme and a reason. Please continue reading.
A friend came to visit one day saddened that her already picky toddler had suddenly refused to eat even all the stand-by foods that the family used to rely on to feed her. I offered to loan her the plate. Because part of Eating Well is Sharing Well. It's important to help people who recognize that you do something different and ask you for advice.
This topic is super important to living on a budget and staying healthy. I know I highlight them when I talk one-on-one with individuals. But perhaps I don't focus on it enough on Eat Like a Rabbit. And in case I don't, I want to link to a post about saving money on produce I saw yesterday on a favorite blog of mine. The facts are especially important to vegetarians.
Today the neighborhood girls rallied round to take care of another neighbor who appeared to be going into early labor while her husband was out of the country on business. That being said, our Thanksgiving menu plan is still not completely together. Not that I'm complaining. It's always better to be a supportive friend than have your menu under control. But if you're still struggling to get it together like I am, here's a few helpful links I've enjoyed gleaning ideas from.
Aren't these yummy? I have to admit, I'm still drooling over them. Very proud of this dish. It was really good and surprisingly filling. I expected Paul to eat two for dinner, but he said he was too full and got two days of lunches out of the leftovers!
Recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 Bell Peppers
1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
1 tomato, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3-4 deli slices Havarti
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
Dash or two of chili powder or to taste
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Cook couscous according to package directions. (The microwave cooks it in no time!) Meanwhile, cut the stem out of the bell peppers and scoop out the insides. Add vegetables and seasonings to couscous.
Spoon the couscous mixture into the bell peppers and press down with the back of the spoon to stuff. Mound filling if desired. Lay cheese slices over peppers and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until the cheese has melted and the peppers are softened.
As I said in Friday's post, it's a great idea to eat from the freezer this week to make room for what's coming in next week, especially if you have guests for the week like we do. This means that in truth there isn't much cooking to be done in the kitchen except baking a loaf of bread and such, but I'll appreciate the extra time I can spend readying the home for guests. And of course, extra time with Nora is wonderful, too.
It's rather cold in Orlando this morning. This means the realization of Thanksgiving being just two weeks away is upon us. I have a list of kitchen-associate projects that I'll be dealing with next week in preparation for guests. I'm adding it in here for those it might help get a handle on the activities as well. I'm also posting it today instead of Monday because those who work might want to get a jump start this weekend.
Previously, I haven't wanted to discuss this topic because I don't desire to be controversial. However, every time I see someone else write that they are trying out vegetarianism or veganism, there is inevitably someone who comments that it's completely against the body's nature to do such a thing. The author of the comment then recommends reading The Paleo Diet.
When we go to potlucks, it's always a challenge. I want to make something that is shockingly good, especially when there are non-vegetarians present. And these days, it has to be easy finger food for toddlers. (And frankly, easy to prepare.) Plus, I like it to be good at room temperature. My parents happened to have been leaving town the weekend before the event to which I brought the falafel and had left us with lots of lettuce.
One thing special about my in-law's house is that there are always snacks on display. Tempting snacks. The kind of snacks that make you gain 5 pounds before the end of your weekly visit. Homemade snacks, which makes them even tastier. It was during one of these visits to Mississippi that I learned how positively addictive frozen peanuts are. Don't know why. I was just hooked. And my mother-in-law would always announce to me when the tray had been refilled.
My two have been under the weather for a few days. This is all rather new to me. I'm doing my best to keep them happy. Obviously, that means the menu doesn't get followed exactly. I aim to please. Whatever is desired gets served.
This Food Face gave the model an ear-full of leftover falafel. We started with half a toasted pita and a drizzled line of homemade tzatziki. Nora is a condiment girl and would prefer to just lick off the dressing or ketchup, depending on the meal. So she doesn't get much condiment to start with. The ears are halved falafel. The eyes and mouth are fruit that had been sent home with us from the party where I brought the falafel. Fruit is popular in our house and was gone by the end of dinner.
A friend brought me four beautiful tomatoes. And while I planned to serve them as a salad, I changed my mind. I through together this fairly easy dish to go with the cauliflower. While neither dish might be considered a main course on their own, I think they worked well together for a light supper.
Recipe for Stuffed Tomatoes with Quinoa
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh spinach, sliced
1 large banana pepper, diced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon good Italian seasoning
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish: Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional
Combine quinoa, water, and garlic in a small pot. Cook according to manufacturers directions. (Likely like this: get to boil, turn down to low, simmer until the water is gone, about 15 minutes.)
Meanwhile, cut the tops off the tomatoes and put them aside. Remove the seeds and flesh from the inside of the tomato. Reserve this for the quinoa.
Heat the oven to 350°F. When the quinoa is cooked, lightly grease a small oven-safe dish with sides and place the tomatoes inside. Add lemon juice, seasonings, banana pepper, spinach, and tomato flesh to the quinoa and stir to combine. Stuff the quinoa mixture into the tomatoes, mounding it. Replace tomato tops and bake for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are heated through. Remove the tomato tops and garnish with shaved Parmesan.
Highlight of our weekend? How about a Florida Black Bear looking over a picket fence at us while we were riding along on a new-to-me trail? I was almost afraid to ride back. Sorry we don't ride with our phones or cameras on us. Would have been an amazing picture.
You can tell I was running late getting dinner on and caught this photo just in time!
This is such a great Food Face to welcome colder weather to Florida. The recommendation for long-haired pasta came from our friend, Fely, who is of a more creative career path than myself. I served a dollop of spinach-walnut pesto over whole grain pasta and sprinkled it with some freshly grated Pecorino cheese. The rosy-cheeked tomatoes are fresh out of our garden. It was a new plant for the fall and has done rather well.
It might be a little early for you, but circumstances too long to discuss here have driven me to start shopping for Christmas early. And that has led me to start posting some pictures of products I like (many we've tried) that encourage kids to play healthier-and hopefully eat healthier. You can find them on Pinterest. The board is labeled "Healthy Christmas Presents for Kids."
It's finally getting chilly in Florida! OK, not really. It's just cool enough to open the windows, which has been most enjoyable. I consider it high-time we have some soup around here. I'm also happy to rely on some lettuce, arugula, peppers, cherry tomatoes and cilantro from our garden to make our meals this week.
We originally thought this food face reminded us of our dear friend who spikes his hair. (Incidentally, Nora loves the gel-stiffened hair style.) But on second thought, we didn't want to be too offensive as he visits so much we gave him a key to our house for his birthday. So, I rethought the situation and figured it could just be a crown.
These are the enchiladas I made a week in advance and froze. I just popped them in the oven straight from the freezer before serving them. Unfortunately, to keep the family from snacking until they were served, I suggested a walk. But as usual, we ran into friends in the neighborhood. This part we love. I just wasn't proud of myself for letting the enchiladas crisp a little too much on the edges. They were still very good.
Recipe for Spinach Enchiladas
1/2 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon or more ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon or more chili powder
1/2 teaspoon or more garlic powder
1 cup onions, sliced
1 cup peppers, sliced
4 cups spinach, packed
4 oz. sour cream, more or less to taste
2 cups cheese, more or less to taste
6 burrito-sized corn tortillas
Combine tomatoes and next three seasonings, set aside. Saute onion and peppers in oil until softened. Add spinach and wilt. Soften tortillas.
Spread one spoonful of sour cream on tortilla. Spoon spinach mixture into tortilla and top with cheese. Roll tightly and place in a 9x9 pan. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Top with tomato mixture and bake at 400'F for 25-30 minutes until warmed through.
To Freeze: Leave off tomatoes. Cover with foil and freeze. Before eating remove from freezer, top with tomatoes and bake.
Sometimes people and things go a little crazy in the spring time. It's called Spring Fever. But what do they call it in the fall. . .in a still rather hot Central Florida? I've been told I've been missed. And I am ashamed. I will not go into details. They aren't worthy of your time. Simply put, I worked a lot last week and at the same time had a computer that didn't want to work at the same time.
I posted the below paragraphs over a year ago. However, the information still applies. Because the Maitland, Florida, library is starting a Cultural and Learning Center tonight and because I am one of the featured upcoming speakers, I thought it would be wise to post these facts again. Especially, since there will be new eyes to Eat Like a Rabbit. These stories are powerful and encourage making positive food choices. I enjoyed rereading them. I hope you do, too.
Add 1 tablespoon sugar to the dough during kneading. Rolled out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and let it rest about 1 hour. Lay the sliced peaches out on the crust. Drizzle or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle remaining sugar and rosemary leaves over bread. Bake at 500 degrees (or as hot as your oven can get) on the middle rack for about 8 minutes depending on how hot your oven is.
Recipe for Pizza Crust
I apologize, I do not know the original source. This recipe comes via my mother-in-law.
1 1/4 cups water, warm
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon yeast
If using a bread machine, pour in water and oil. Add flour, spreading over entire bowl. In one corner, add yeast. In the opposite, add salt. Set on dough setting, which should complete the first kneading and rising.
Remove dough onto floured surface. Knead to work out the gas the yeast produces. Divide dough into two or three parts. Roll out very thin with a rolling pin. Allow to rise one hour.
Top and bake pizza at 500 degrees or as hot as your oven gets for 8-9 minutes or until the crust is nicely brown and the bottom is baked. Mine actually takes 11 minutes. Guess my oven isn't the strongest.
Two Sundays ago, we did the Ride for Ronald. We rode only the 30 mile leg. (The other options were 60 and 100 miles. We do know people who did the hundred.) But at the half way point, I was so hyped that I wanted to do the 60. I overheard someone else asking if anyone knew the route for the 60. Guess he wanted to keep going, too. But since we didn't know the route, we stayed on the 30 mile trek. Praise God the weather was lovely. Not as hot as it could have been. It was a great day for a ride
I have two words for you. Dorm. Room. This is totally a recipe I'd like to send to my dear cousins off at college as soon as it gets cool enough that these wonderful items don't melt or fall apart before they get there. And if you're lucky enough to have a fridge in your room (we did, even in high school), you can totally make this recipe in your dorm room and be a hit on your hall.
Not once but twice this week, I have dropped a full plastic container of something. . .honestly don't even know what cause I was afraid to look. . .out of the freezer and onto my right foot. Fortunately, it wasn't my left foot, which I already broke while pregnant nearly two years ago. And fortunately, the boxes didn't land in exactly the same place each time. I'm pretty sure the second opportunity was successful at breaking a toe. Luckily, that appears to be all.
Below is a guest post by a good friend who is using Eat Like a Rabbit as an inspiration for cooking new foods and for eating better. I'm glad that she shares a recipe that is out of my comfort zone. This recipe originates far away from the Cajun swamp where I grew up.
Recipe for Gado Gado by Fely Rugless
1 head cabbage, shredded
1 bag frozen cut peas and carrots, preferably just carrots
1 bag frozen French cut green beans
1 bag diced potatoes
1 can bean sprouts, actually preferably fresh sprouts
1 block tofu, cubed
1/2 cup of reduced fat chunky peanut butter
Steam cabbage until wilted, but still crisp. Steam frozen vegetables in microwave or in pan until tender but still crisp. Pan fry tofu in oil until golden and crispy. Mix sauce and peanut butter. Create a bar for assembling Gado Gado. Top with Sauce and a handful of peanuts
Our gym has had this sign up outside their kid care area all summer, and I finally remembered to take a picture of it. It's such a powerful statement for teaching kids (and even adults) to make healthy choices. The road may be curved like the tire tracks, which means it takes focus, but it can start any time. Now even! It will be a better road to a better lifestyle. And if you happen to like driving, especially on twisty roads, then it should be quite fun!
1/2 lb. (or box) long, thin pasta (spaghetti or the like)
1 1/2 T butter (Think I left this out as my pasta wasn't fresh.)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino
3 T bread crumbs
6 T Olive oil
Stir butter into pasta cooked to al dente and drained. Combine eggs, cheese, and bread crumbs in bowl and stir in pasta. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Using a fork, twist sections of the spaghetti into "nests" as large as you can make them. Cook the nests in the oil 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side. I used a smaller skillet and made two batches so they wouldn't cool between servings.
We're back to just the three of us this week. I thoroughly enjoyed my in-laws being in town. My MIL made me try a few things, and I'm glad she did. The biggest thing I learned was that you can add a little sour cream to a peach pie to make some amazing filling. I even brought her to yoga for her first time!
My mother-in-law, an artist, put this plate together. I'm so glad Nora likes asparagus. I was quite a deal older than her (by, like, 20 years) before I tried asparagus, and it's a big favorite of mine. Glad she's getting an early start.
This is one of those super-easy recipes. Well, easy if you can figure out how to make a super-thin crepe without holes in it. But hey, I got a few perfect ones. And as long as you ahem are not needing to take pictures, it'll still taste good, right?
Combine ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth. Scrape edges if necessary.
Walnut Sauce Recipe from New York Times (See Above)
Grill 1 1/2 pounds asparagus or steam over boiling water.
Grease a 6- or 7-inch nonstick pan on medium or medium-high until hot. (You want it to sizzle bread crumbs.) Pour just shy of 1/4 cup batter into pan. Gently tilt pan in all directions until the batter is thin and covers the entire area of the pan. Cook until batter is set and crepe is golden brown. Flip and brown the other side just a few seconds. Remove crepe to plate. Place 4 or 6 asparagus stems in the crepe, roll, and dress with walnut sauce and grated Pecorino cheese.
This reminds me of a lady having a spa day. Just hope she looks better than this when it's over with.
The curls are pinto beans with foil made of chips. Cucumber eye slices with dots of yogurt in the middle, and a warm neck pillow of mashed potatoes complete the relaxing environment. And luckily, after a hearty meal like this, Nora napped and I had an hour-long relaxing environment.
Fill a pot with water and place a steaming basket on top. I actually use my pasta pot and allow a touch of water to come into the holes in the bottom of the pan. Bring the water to a boil. With tongs, place the okra in the pot and steam until very soft when pinched with the tongs. These large okra stems took about 10 minutes. When okra is done, remove and plate. Drizzle fresh lemon juice on top and sprinkle with kosher salt. Small ones classify as finger food. Larger ones may require a fork and knife. By the way, the tops aren't so tasty. Use them as the handle and leave them behind.
What was so great about these was how tender they were fresh out of the garden. Most of the time, this size doesn't steam well and gets really stringy.
While my kale was in great shape even after I bagged it for a week, I cooked it instead of serving it fresh and raw. I sauteed it with onions and stirred in the beans. Since I'd never cooked it before, Paul thought it might not have been cooked completely. But it didn't hurt the flavor. We ate on leftovers a couple more days.
We had Nora's 18 month well-baby check-up today. We also had a new pediatrician. There was nothing wrong with the old one. But she had a family emergency, and we met the fill-in pediatrician. She said there's a new principle for children that they are trying to drum into parents' heads. I liked the idea. And it occurred to me the more I thought about it that it isn't just for children.