Sunday, September 7, 2008

Daily Menu for September 7

We've been eating up the frozen meals this week - eggplant and pork, moussaka, and bean soup - and tonight we're having meatloaf from the freezer. I'm grateful that I made these in advance! Still trying to get in all the 8 good health guidelines but it's more of a struggle right now, since I don't want to be in the hot kitchen any more than I have to, and I'm too tired to cook!

Daily Menu

Breakast (a OneLocalSummer meal)
Eggs with zucchini, bell peppers, and onion
Honeydew melon

Eggs from Sonoma, zucchini and peppers from the front yard, onion and melon from Full Belly Farm

Veggie burger with 2 slices whole wheat toast (2 pts), 1/2 oz. smoked cheddar (1.5 pts.)
Tomato slices, lettuce, onion, pickles
1 c. milk

Sliced cucumbers
bulgur, corn and pepper salad
2 c. milk

WPA (Weekly Points Allowance) points used today: 3.5
WPA points available: 33.5
Activity points today: 2 (Walk Away the Pounds)
Activity points this week: 2

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies (8) - 8
2. Whole grains - bulgur
3. Milk (3) - 3
4. Healthy oil (3) - 3
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+
8. Multivitamin - yes

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I returned to my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by my weigh in, just .2 lb. above my last weigh in weight. After a modest gain during pregnancy, I wasn't expecting to be so close to my starting weight so soon. Very encouraging, especially since I've not been as consistent on my plan the past few weeks. I'm hopeful that with a closer eye toward what I'm eating, I'll continue to lose.

Dinner tonight is a One Local Summer meal, with all ingredients grown locally. The beans, Dapple Gray, were grown at Phipps Country Store in Pescadero. Onion, shallot, garlic (lots of it!), and sweet peppers are from Full Belly Farm. Home grown herbs (oregano and thyme) round out the flavor - cumin, salt and pepper are the only non-local ingredients. It's in the crockpot for a very simple and healthy dinner. Corn on the cob is from Full Belly, and the green salad with cucumbers are from our garden as well. Olive oil and vinegar both are from Hare Hollow in Healdsburg, and Clover milk is from Sonoma/Mendocino.

2 c. milk
1 c. cherries

Salmon salad (2 Points for 2 t. mayo)
Tomato wedges, 1 t. olive oil

Bean soup
Corn on the cob
Green salad with cucumbers, 2 t. olive oil and vinegar
1 c. milk

WPA (Weekly Points Allowance) points used today: 2
WPA points available: 35
Activity points today: 2 (Walk Away the Pounds)
Activity points this week: 2

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies (8) - 8
2. Whole grains - oatmeal, bulgur
3. Milk (3) - 3
4. Healthy oil (3) - 3
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+
8. Multivitamin - yes

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lucy has made her debut!

I'm thrilled to announce that our baby girl, Lucy, was born on Tuesday night after a very manageable labor and only five minutes of pushing! She's healthy and is fitting right into our family - loud voice, lots of snuggling, and a huge appetite. Big brother Jax keeps asking to hold and kiss her, and is trying to share all of his toys - I'm appreciating it while it lasts.

Thanks for the kind e-mails asking about us.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 11, part 2 - Cherry Oats

I have whole oats in my pantry from the grain CSA and have not known quite what to do with them. Rolled oats are familiar; even steel cut oats have their found crockpot love from me. But the whole grain, well, I wasn't sure where to start. I found the liquid:grain ratio and cooking time on the pressure cooker and figured I'd make them like I would steel cut oats - milk, fruit, cinnamon, vanilla - and see how that works.

Well let me tell you, they smell fantastic and taste even better! With local oats, cherries, and milk, this is another local meal this week. This makes a HUGE batch - I wanted to have it available for quick breakfasts this week.

Whole Oats with Cherries

2 c. whole oats, rinsed and drained
6 c. water or milk, or a combination of the two
2 c. frozen cherries (ours were frozen earlier in the year from a local cherry orchard)
1 t. each cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. brown sugar (optional)

Pour all the ingredients into pressure cooker and stir to combine. Cook over high pressure for 18 minutes or until grains are tender and liquid absorbed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The baby's still cooking and so am I - One Local Summer: Week 11

Despite a due date that has come and gone, and with every effort made on my part to bring this baby on, she has still not made her appearance into the world. I'm hopeful that it will happen in the next few days, since I'm so darned uncomfortable, but in the meantime I'm cooking away!

I've got a pot of soup on the stove that smells fantastic. Using tomatoes, corn, onions, garlic, and basil from my CSA box, zucchini from the front yard garden, barley from our grain CSA, and some of the meatballs that I froze from our Chileno Ranch beef, this is a very local soup.

Summer Vegetable and Barley Soup with meatballs

1 T olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 medium zucchinis, diced
5-6 LARGE tomatoes, diced, seeded and drained or 10-12 medium
2 c. fresh corn
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 t salt
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c basil, bay leaf, and a sprig of thyme (I did this like a bouquet garni, tied up to be removed from the pot)
2 c. barley, soaked and drained
1 lb. cooked meatballs
Basil and parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished soup

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add zucchini, tomatoes, salt, pepper, herbs, and barley. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; simmer for 1 hr. 15 minutes or until barley is tender. Add meatballs and simmer until they're just heated through. Remove bouquet garni and serve with basil and parmesan cheese on top.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 10 - Steak, corn, and cucumbers

Tonight's dinner was very simple and very tasty! Grilled steaks from Chileno Valley Ranch, red corn on the cob from our veggie box, and cucumber slices out of our garden. I'd never had red corn before - it tasted just the same as white sweet corn, very nice on the grill.

I got huge heirloom tomatoes in this week's veggie box this week and I'm the only one in the house that likes them. The tomatoes have been lovely for raw salads the past few days, and I made a salmon salad with canned wild salmon to stuff in one of the huge beefsteak tomatoes for lunch today. It was another simple, delicious meal.

With the eggplants in this week's box, I'm making chickpeas with eggplant-tahini sauce in the pressure cooker. I have chickpeas from the grain CSA and the recipe, from a Lorna Sass cookbook, was a favorite last summer. Chickpeas are soaking now for dinner tomorrow night, another One Local Summer meal - unless I go into labor before then!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bring-on-the-baby foods

I made a menu full of foods that are supposed to bring on labor last night, but as you can see by the post right now, I am not yet in labor! Still, it was a very tasty day.

I made spicy eggplant and pork (local eggplant and pork) with udon noodles (not local), and a pineapple smoothie, washed down by liberal amounts of red raspberry leaf tea. Today I'll be having some Thai green papaya salad with more spicy eggplant. I don't know if it's helping, but it is quite tasty!

And this baby is bound to come out sooner or later, but sooner would make me a happy lady.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Meatballs by the dozens... and dozens... and dozens

In a stock-the-freezer fit, I've made meatball mix that stretched out to about 8 dozen meatballs, two meatloaves, and a big pot of Pumpkin chili, currently in the crockpot. The mix made really delicious, although not 100% Core, meatballs and we'll have them ready for easy meals throughout late summer and fall. The bread crumbs and cheese are not Core, but only add less than a point per serving.

Here's the recipe I used (and be warned, this is a LOT of meat - you'll need a REALLY big bowl. You can easily halve or quarter it for a more reasonable quantity!)

Millions of Meatballs
8 eggs, lightly beaten
3 c. fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (I used Spring Hill's Old World Portuguese)
1/2 c. chopped parsley
15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t each dried basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
6 lb. ground lean beef
2 lb. ground lean pork

Mix together all the ingredients except for the meats and combine well. Gently combine with the meats, taking care not to over mix. Roll mixture into balls about
1" across (1 T mixture) and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

This mixture works well as meatloaf, too, but you'll need to bake it longer and you might want a sauce on the top. I added shredded zucchini to the mix for meatloaves.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One for dinner, one more for the freezer

Tonight we're having another of my endless variations on beans and grains, Spanish-style barley with Scarlett Runners, and with that mixture I'm stuffing bell peppers for another freezer-friendly post-baby dinner.

The barley is from our grain CSA, beans from Phipps, and various vegetables from Full Belly. Served tonight with green beans from our CSA box, we've got a local dinner for now, and stuffed into peppers from Happy Quail, topped with a little cheese from Spring hill, we've got a local meal later. This recipe makes a HUGE batch of the barley and beans, but they freeze well and would make a great lunch.

Spanish-style barley with Scarlett Runner beans

1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 T chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t oregano
1 t salt
1 t paprika
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 canned chipotle chile pepper and 1 t. adobo sauce
2 c. whole barley
2 c. crushed tomatoes (I used the tomato sauce that I made earlier in the week)
4 c. vegetable broth
2 c. Scarlett Runner beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 T oil
2 c. corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 big handful of green beans, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 scallions, diced

Saute onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, and garlic in olive oil. Add spices and saute another minute. Add barley and stir to coat with the onion and spice mixture. Add crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hr. 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook soaked beans in the pressure cooker. Cover the beans by 2 inches with water and add 1 T oil to prevent foaming. Cook under high pressure for 12-14 minutes.

Once the barley is cooked, add the beans, corn, green beans, tomatoes, and scallions; stir gently to combine.


I now have a moussaka, tamale pie, 3 quarts of tomato sauce, 1 quart of tomato-bean soup made from the tomato sauce, and the stuffed peppers in the freezer. I'll be doing my big batch of meatballs later in the week and the turkey early next week, baby willing, and hopefully will have 15-20 dinners ready to go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When life (or your mother-in-law) hands you tomatoes...

My mother-in-law was the fortunate recipient of a large box of fresh tomatoes at the end of the farmer's market on Sunday, and not having a use for 10 lb. of fresh tomatoes, she passed them along to me. And how better to use all those wonderful tomatoes than to make an enormous pot of sauce, ready to freeze for easy post-baby meals? The whole house smells incredible, like an Italian restaurant with that tomato, garlic, olive oil, and basil simmering away. I've made a similar sauce before but not quite in this quantity! And don't worry, at least a quart is going back to my mother-in-law for her generous tomato contribution!

BIG batch of spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes
(makes about 6-7 quarts)

30-35 fresh medium sized tomatoes (about tennis ball sized)
3 onions, diced
3 bell peppers, diced
3 carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
12 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 c. fresh basil, or 1/4 c. dried
3 T fresh parsley, or 1 T dried
3 T fresh oregano, or 1 T dried
1 T fresh sage, or 1 t dried
3 bay leaves
1 t dried fennel seeds
1 T salt
1 1/2 t pepper
1 t red pepper flakes
1 small can tomato paste

In a very large stock pot, saute the onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery, and garlic in the olive oil. It will take a while to saute them all; you might want to work in batches. Meanwhile, dice all the tomatoes. When the veggies are all sauteed, add the tomatoes and other ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours or until reduced and slightly thickened. Drain out a bit of the watery broth and pull out the bay leaves; puree the sauce in batches. Add back the watery broth to make it the consistency you'd like. Adjust seasonings and enjoy.

Package in quart sized freezer bags and stack flat in your freezer for a stock of deeelicious sauce ready anytime you want it!

Monday, July 21, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 8 - Moussaka

Tonight's meal, Moussaka, is Core except for the bechamel on top, and at just 2 points per serving the bechamel doesn't make this too extravagent for as indulgent as it tastes. Jax ate a full serving and asked for seconds, and he's usually not an eggplant fan!

It's also completely local except for the cheese and spices. The vegetables are from Full Belly Farm, beef is from Chileno in Petaluma, milk and butter are from Clover in Mendocino, and flour is from our grain share. The recipe below has it baked in a 9"x13" pan, but I made it in two 8"x8" pans with one frozen for after the baby arrives. One more meal ready for the freezer, and one very tasty meal for this evening!

Serves 12

1 large eggplant, diced, salted for 30 minutes, and rinsed thoroughly
about 2 lb. potatoes, diced and boiled to al dente (not quite soft - they'll finish cooking in the oven)
1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 medium zucchinis, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef (lamb would also be good)
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 T dry oregano
5 ripe tomatoes, diced

Bechamel Sauce
3 T butter
3 T flour
1 1/2 c. milk, heated
salt and pepper
1 c. parmesan cheese, divided

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and zucchinis until softened. Remove from the pan and cook ground beef until browned. Add the vegetables, spices, and tomatoes to the beef and simmer for 10 minutes or so for the flavors to combine.

While the beef mixture simmers, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Add 1/2 c. parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

In an oiled 9"x13" pan, layer eggplant, potatoes, beef mixture, and bechamel. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the top is golden. Rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 7 (a tad bit late) and Week 8

Last night we enjoyed another local dinner, fresh from the farmer's market and absolutely delicious. I grilled eggplant slices and topped them with goat's milk brie from Spring Hill Cheese, grilled red onion, fresh tomato slices, and basil, all from our CSA veggie box, and sprinkled with olive oil and blackberry fig balsamic vinegar from Hare Hollow. Corn on the cob on the side completed the meal. So colorful and flavorful! It was a different take on the eggplant stacks that I made last summer out of Cooking Light magazine, with brie instead of goat cheese and more of a salad than a stack. Both versions are delicious with fresh summer vegetables.

This morning, for my 30th birthday (!!) Mr.M made me breakfast in bed and it is a local meal as well, the first for week 8. He made omelettes with Glaum eggs, Spring Hill cheese, and peppers from Happy Quail Farm in E. Palo Alto; bacon from TLC Ranch in Watsonville; and slices of watermelon from Full Belly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 6 - Daily Menu

I've really been slacking on the blog lately! I've got to get back in the daily menu habit before the baby gets here so it's not so hard to switch gears back into Weight Watchers. Plus, it was all over the news yesterday that people who keep a food diary lose more than those who don't. I'm surprised that this is news - I've been hearing this for ages - but it is as good a reason as any to start tracking or keep it up if you're trying to lose weight.

So here's a One Local Summer daily menu. Everything on here has been locally grown except for the smoked trout at lunch.

Purslane omelette - purslane from Full Belly Farm, eggs from Glaum, and a bit of smoked sharp cheddar cheese* (my favorite!) from Spring Hill Cheese
1 c. apple juice* from Sonoma

Kamut-barley berry slaw with smoked trout (recipe from "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" by Lorna Sass)
Kamut and barley from Windborne Farm CSA, cabbage and carrot from Full Belly farm, dressing from a neighborhood lemon and Hare Hollow olive oil

Yogurt-peach-plum smoothie - yogurt from Wallaby in Napa, peaches and plums from a neighborhood tree (with permission)

Chicken in apricot-plum sauce - chicken thighs from Soul Food Farm in Vacaville (not much left of those chickens), apricots and plums from neighbors' trees (with permission), apples from our tree, balsamic vinegar from Hare Hollow in Healdsburg (omitting butter, using olive oil)
Roasted new potatoes with rosemary - potatoes from Full Belly, rosemary from a neighbor's bush (with permission)
Steamed green beans

* Points for those on Core

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 4 - Carrot Potato Soup

I've been slacking on the blog lately! I'm catching up with housework, laundry, getting stuff ready for the new baby (just 5 more weeks!), spending time with Jax, and napping, and blogging has just taken a back seat lately. I'm still eating, but I'm not paying nearly as much attention to writing it down right now.

Last night I made a pot of delicious soup - carrots, potatoes, and chipotle peppers, with a little cheese and plain yogurt mixed in to mellow the peppers and give it a fuller flavor. I wish I'd written down the exact recipe, but I kind of made it up as I went along, adding things to taste as I thought they were needed. I thought there would be leftovers, but even Jax ate secodns

I did use all local ingredients, though, so it fits our One Local Summer plan. Onion, garlic, carrot, and potato all came from Full Belly Farm. I used sharp smoked cheddar from Spring Hill Cheese in Petaluma and Wallaby yogurt from Napa. The only non-local ingredients were the spices.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for me... and Apricots and Figs, too!

A friend e-mailed me yesterday to tell me that her peach tree was full of ripe peaches if we'd like some, and a neighbor offered her all the apricots off of their tree. Plus, she found a fig tree in a parking lot near her house. So Jax and I will be picking fruit this week to freeze for smoothies and fruit crisps throughout the year. Yum!!

Another local dinner last night was delicious but not especially photogenic. Last fall I froze a meal of chickpeas and barley in eggplant sauce with spinach (with chickpeas from Phipp's Country Store, barley from the grain CSA, and eggplant and spinach from Full Belly Farm.) Last night we ate that in pita bread with fresh basil from this week's CSA box and feta cheese from Spring Hill Cheese. So tasty! I served it with sauteed zucchini squash out of this week's CSA box as well. The pita was not from local wheat, but is from a local independent bakery. I'm looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 3 - and Meatless Monday, and a recipe too!

For yet another One Local Summer menu, and a Meatless Monday one at that, I made a delicious bean and potato soup. This was one of those dinners that just hit the right balance of hearty and soul satisfying without being too heavy. I served it with cabbage and tomatoes.

Gigantes bean soup with potatoes
1-2 T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped (again from Full Belly)
2-3 carrots, coarsely chopped (Full Belly, of course!)
1-2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (from the farmer's market)
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped (from Gilroy)
4 c. cooked Gigantes beans (any mild white beans would work here; mine were left over from the polenta lasagna and were cooked with onion, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and thyme)
6 starchy potatoes, like Yukon Gold, chopped coarsely (mine were from Full Belly Farm)
4 c. vegetable or chicken stock (homemade chicken stock from Vacaville chickens)
2 t. thyme
1/2 t. marjoram
1/2 t. sage
1-2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
water to cover potatoes if needed

In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion, carrots, celery until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute or two, or until fragrant. Add beans, potatoes, spices, and stock. If the stock doesn't cover the vegetables, add water so that everything is covered. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Remove the bay leaves. Puree to a smooth consistency, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with chopped parsley on top.


Yesterday, Mr.M, his mom, Jax and I drove out to Half Moon Bay and Pescadero to celebrate Father's Day with fresh, locally caught fish and a trip to Phipp's Country Store for beans. At Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, I ordered a halibut entree with halibut caught not 100 yards from the table (yum!)

Phipp's was busier than usual with U-Pick olallieberries, baby chickens in the farm area, and my favorite, the beans! I stocked up on five varieties of beans and you'll be sure to see them featured here over the next few months. Overall, a lovely day by the coast!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Trying something new

Our veggie box this week includes:
Salad Mix
Summer Squash

I've never heard of mibuna before, so I Googled it to find that this Japanese green leafy veggie has a nice, mildly sharp taste for mixed salads and light cooking. I'll make a salad with them one day this week and will post a photo.

The carrots from Full Belly are the best I've ever eaten - so sweet and completely flavorful in a way that grocery store carrots just aren't. And I'm not sure that I reported back on the fresh vs. stored onion flavor: they're pretty much the same in recipes. I can't tell the difference, anyway.

Friday, June 13, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 2 - Polenta Lasagna, and Daily Menu for June 13

We had Polenta lasagna for dinner tonight, and although it has quite a few ingredients, they're all local! I'm using a recipe I found on the web with a few adjustments; namely, I'm adding beans to make it a higher protein meal. I love Gigantes beans - they're huge as the name might suggest, but smooth and creamy, almost like potatoes, but with a delicious mellow flavor. They blended right in with the polenta, vegetables, and feta cheese. (I used just the feta cheese and skipped romano. I didn't have any rosemary so I skipped that.)

Cornmeal from my grain CSA has been cooked and chilled in the fridge in preparation of tonight's lasagna. I'm using the tomato sauce that I made and froze last fall from farmer's market tomatoes, and Gigantes beans from Phipps Country Store in Pescadero. Onion, garlic, carrot, and kale are all from Full Belly Farm, and Feta cheese is from Spring Hill Cheese.

This recipe was FANTASTIC! It didn't come out pretty so I won't be posting a photo, but it was delicious. The polenta and beans were creamy together and I didn't miss the extra cheese. Kale and olives gave it a bit more texture and interesting flavors. I'll definitely make this one again.

2 slices toast, 1 t. butter
2 eggs

Yogurt and berry smoothie with 1 t. flaxseed oil

Carrot sticks and pita bread with Gigantes bean puree (like hummus made with Gigantes beans and olive oil)
1 c. vegetable juice

Cottage cheese and pineapple

Polenta lasagna with Gigantes beans

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Daily Menu for June 12

I'm trying to follow the rules for gestational diabetes given to me by the dietitian. Here's my menu incorporating those rules; hopefully the shifts will get easier as I get used to them. I'm struggling with getting in the recommended amounts of protein at each meal and snack - I just discovered that milk counts as both a protein and a carbohydrate, so that will help to fill in the snacks - I'm not a big snacker, but I shouldn't go more than 3 hours without eating, so hopefully that's enough.

I'm also struggling with avoiding milk and fruit for breakfast, as those are my staples! Cheese and nuts were suggested protein alternatives, but I don't want to get into high-fat habits that will be hard to break when the baby arrives. Suggestions of meat free, dairy free breakfasts that are high in protein would be welcome! I think I'll make quinoa for breakfast tomorrow - it's the only grain that is a complete protein, and it's delicious.

1/2 c. Mashed potatoes with sauteed kale and onion
1 T peanut butter (all by itself so I get the protein requirement!)

1 c. yogurt with fresh berries

Big green salad with smoked trout
1 t. olive oil in a vinaigrette
2 slices whole wheat toast

1 c. milk

Huevos Rancheros (tomato sauce, poached eggs, and beans over polenta)
Mexican style cole slaw with carrots and radishes
1 t. olive oil in polenta

1 c. milk

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 2 - Grilled Snapper

I made a delicious and very simple (and colorful!) dinner last night: grilled snapper, corn on the cob, steamed carrots, and strawberries. The snapper was dressed very, very lightly with lime juice, chili powder, salt and pepper, and grilled on aluminum foil "boats" because we don't have a fish grill pan. It worked out very nicely - the fish was cooked through and had the smoky flavor, and it didn't fall through the grates. Topped with cilantro and served with a lime wedge, this was light and fresh, perfect for a hot day.

Corn on the cob is great grilled, and I served that with lime wedges and dusted them dusted with chili powder. I read the idea on a blog about Indian food and thought it would be a nice change of pace from the standard butter, salt and pepper - boy is it! Tangy, spicy, and sweet, with a smoky grilled background flavor, this was a fantastic way to enjoy fresh sweet corn.

The fish was caught around Half Moon Bay, about 25 miles away. Corn on the cob came from Brentwood, 65 miles away. Carrots and strawberries were grown by my faithful CSA, Full Belly Farm, 128 miles away. And the lime was picked off a neighbor's tree (with permission, of course.) Only the chili powder, salt and pepper were not locally grown.


Adjustments to My Diet

I met with a dietitian this morning to go over the adjustments I need to make for my not-quite-diabetes elevated blood sugar levels. The biggest change for me is that I'll need to count, weigh, and measure all of my food until the end of my pregnancy (10 more weeks!) I'll also need to eat on a schedule - every 3 hours, and no longer than 10 hours between an evening snack and breakfast.

Since discovering Core, I've learned how to pay attention my body's hunger cues, eating mindfully when hungry and stopping when satisfied. For whatever reason, I am unable to do this while counting Points, carbs, calories, whatever. The mindset is just different for me in a way that I am not sure how to explain. I have worked hard to revoke my Clean Plate Club membership, and counting puts me right back into the mindset of "must eat what's counted" whether or not I'm physically hungry. I'm concerned that eating a prescribed amount on a schedule will not be a positive habit for me to reacquire, but I want to do what is healthiest for the baby, so I'll have to work with these rules to find a balance that works for me.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

One Local Summer: end of Week 1

This week's veggie box:

Red Russian Kale
Salad Mix
New Potatoes
Summer Squash

Strawberries and apricots - Yum! This is the first of the summer squash, too, which is always tasty. We ate the half flat of strawberries in no time last week so I'm thinking I'll get a whole flat this week and freeze some for winter berry smoothies. Mmm, smoothies.

Mr.M wants to grill tonight, so I'm defrosting some pork (from TLC Ranch in Watsonville) to make kabobs for dinner. I'll grill those with squash (Full Belly), mushrooms from the farmer's market, and one of the fresh onions from last week's Full Belly box. I'm making barley (from Fort Scott) and a green salad (greens from Full Belly, oil and vinegar from Hare Hollow in Healdsburg) on the side and this will be another all local meal for our One Local Summer challenge.

I might grill peaches for dessert - if you haven't tried this, definitely give it a shot. The sugars in the peaches caramelize and they get warm and extra sweet. Delicious!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

One Year of Blogging

The blog turned one yesterday without much fanfare, but the past year has brought over 8,000 hits from every continent except Antarctica. I'm grateful to everyone who has commented or e-mailed me support and encouragement over the past year. Thank you for reading! This year has also brought a change in my eating habits that have made me a healthier woman with finding local purveyors of healthy food as a new hobby, and more than 2/3 of the way to a new baby girl! It's been a good year!

And now for the less than great news: my gestational diabetes test came back elevated, and while I don't have GD, I'm supposed to eat as though I do in order to keep blood sugars under control. I'll be meeting with a dietitian soon to find out more about what that means, but it is frustrating and adds another level of things to track for the duration of my pregnancy. I was never good at tracking Points, which is why I switched to Core in the first place; counting carbs doesn't seem like the most positive step to me! Obviously I'll do what I need to for a healthy baby, but I'm not thrilled with this turn of events.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One Local Summer: Week 1

For our first all local meal of the One Local Summer challenge, we had grilled steak, baby new potatoes, glazed carrots, asparagus, and strawberries. The steak (just lightly salted and peppered) was from Chileno Valley Ranch in Petaluma and all of the veggies were from Full Belly Farm in Guinda. I used olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Hare Hollow Ranch in Healdsburg for a light dressing on the asparagus, and Hare Hollow olive oil with parsley on the potatoes, and an orange squeezed over the carrots for a simple glaze. All in all, a very simple supper, but wonderfully flavorful and satisfying.

I'm going in tomorrow morning for a glucose test to see if I have gestational diabetes. I failed the one hour test and am going back for the fasting three hour test tomorrow. It is a bit ironic that with my last pregnancy, I ate junk and had fine glucose levels, and this time I'm eating much healthier, a variety of fresh vegetables and lots of whole grains, and this time there is a chance that I might have gestational diabetes! That orange glucose drink is really awful, and spending the morning in the lab having blood drawn every hour just isn't my idea of a great time. Wish me luck tomorrow.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One Local Summer

I'll be participating in this year's One Local Summer challenge and encourage you to join me! The official challenge can be found here, and the rules are simple:
The challenge will begin on Sunday, June 1 and run until Sunday, August
31. Your challenge: prepare one meal each week using only locally grown
ingredients - the exceptions are oil, salt and pepper, and spices.
This shouldn't be too difficult given the abundance of fantastic local foods this time of year. The farmer's market is full of fantastic fruits and vegetables; the grain CSA is providing a plethora of new and interesting grain options; we still have frozen beef, pork, turkey, and chickens, and fresh fish (except for salmon) are readily available. Delicious menus of fresh all summer long? Sure!
Please join me in making one local meal a week and tell me about it!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cherries! Strawberries! Peaches!

It's that time of year again! Fruits are sweet and plentiful, the farmer's market is crowded with so many wonderful, fresh foods, and Jax's chin is stained red from cherry juice dribbles. We bought peaches last week and they were gone in two days, so this week I bought even more fruit to hold us through - half a flat of strawberries, a pound of cherries, and more peaches - but I'm not sure it's going to last much longer than last week's delicious peaches. Jax and I had cherries for lunch and ate nearly the whole bag of them by ourselves. (I also had a glass of milk to round the meal out! haha!) Don't worry, though; we've got lots of vegetables to enjoy as well.

This week, our CSA box includes:
Winter Savory
Fresh onions
Salad mix
Itty-bitty-teeny-tiny potatoes
Dino kale (I can only imagine that this will be a hit with dinosaur obsessed Jax!)

The newsletter that accompanies my veggies tells me that Winter Savory is used in beans, stuffings, soups, and with meats like chicken or turkey. Since turkey is planned in a few weeks for my big batch of freezer cooking, I'm going to hang the savory to dry and use it then.

I'm planning a big freezer cooking session, as I mentioned before, and have narrowed the attack to two main foods: meatballs and turkey. I have quite a bit of ground beef and 2 1/2 turkeys in the freezer that need to be eaten. I will make dozens and dozens of baked meatballs with grains in them (maybe oatmeal?) to be used in recipes like meatball chili, shepherd's pie with mushroom gravy, unstuffed cabbage with whole rye, moussaka, sweet and sour meatballs, curried meatballs with wheatberries, and quinoa picadillo. I'll use the turkeys for turkey posole, turkey cacciatore, turkey, apricot, and chickpea tagine, turkey and rice (a la arroz con pollo), turkey adobo, smothered turkey and barley, and turkey soup. Vegetarian menus will be doubled over the next few weeks and packaged for more meals. So far, I've got a tamale pie and Persian split pea and barley soup with spinach (yummy!) in the freezer from double batches.

Many of these meals are done in the pressure cooker, which as you may know from reading the blog is one of my favorite kitchen tools. My last big batch cooking day was so smooth because I relied on the cooker - I would prep a meal while one was in the cooker, and as soon as the meal in the cooker was finished the next was ready to go in. This back-to-back cooking was super fast and efficient, and I'm hopeful that using that method, plus my crockpot, stovetop, oven, and a friend to help will make the meals come together quickly and easily.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A plan of attack and a daily menu

I have a few weeks until my summer classes begin, and I'm starting to hit the nesting phase of pregnancy, which can only mean one thing: organizing and cleaning the house. This week I'll be focusing on the kitchen, paring down the unnecessary stuff, clearing out the science projects growing at the back of the fridge, and making an inventory of the freezer and pantry so I know what needs to be used up. That will help with the next stage of the nesting plan: stockpiling freezer dinners for the post-baby exhaustion that will soon be coming.

I visited a friend of mine yesterday and she showed me her recent freezer cooking stash - neat rows of mac and cheese and pasta with tomato sauce stacked in individual servings, reminding me that my own stash of pre-cooked meals is pretty non-existent. When Jax was born, my mom made about a dozen frozen home cooked meals for us, and it was so convenient to not have to think about dinner for those first few weeks! My friend is going to come over one day in June and help me with a big cooking session like the one I did in September. It can't be done with a messy kitchen, and will be a good way to use up some of the grains and frozen meat.

I'm a few days behind on this week's menu plan since I went out to eat Sunday night, so we're eating the snapper tonight.

Daily Menu

2 c. milk

Leftover tofu-veggie soup with rice noodles (I went out for Vietnamese food Sunday night)
1 c. milk


Roasted new potatoes w/olive oil
Roasted asparagus
Green salad w/olive oil vinaigrette

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (oatmeal)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes (tofu, fish)
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekly Menu with our CSA and Farmer's Market goodies!

This is the best time of year for the farmer's market. We're in the beginning of the summer vegetable season, tale end of spring, and get the best of both worlds: asparagus and basil, strawberries, peaches, cauliflower, fresh peas! Fantastic!

Our CSA box includes:

Asparagus (last week!)
Shelling peas
Fresh onions
New potatoes

I also bought a pound of snapper, a block of feta cheese, 3 portabello mushrooms, 2 lb. peaches (hooray for tangy fresh peaches!!), cilantro and green onions. At tomorrow's market I'm hoping to see tomatoes and zucchini, but it still may be too early for them.

For our weekly menu, I'm planning:
Sunday - snapper with roasted new potatoes and asparagus
Monday - grilled mushrooms and Boca burgers, zucchini if they're at the market, green salad, jicama corn and bean salad, and grilled peaches (MMMM!!!)
Tuesday - meatloaf with fresh carrots and peas, new potatoes
Wednesday - something in the crockpot, maybe chicken
Thursday - whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, feta and basil
Friday - Spicy Tofu Bento Box

I have never bought or used fresh onions before and am excited to try this variation of my staple! Most everything I cook starts with onions and these are clean and crisp looking, with bright green tops. I'll report back if the flavor is different being fresh. Fresh garlic has a milder, sweeter flavor - that was another one that I'd never tried fresh before.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wheatberry salad

This salad is very tasty and pretty easy to make. It's a variation on a recipe from Cooking Light using what I had on hand and came out very tasty! You do have to count points for the dried fruit, almonds, and cheddar cheese on Core.

Wheatberry salad with dried fruit, almonds, and cheddar cheese

6 c. water
2 c. uncooked wheatberries
1 c. dried fruit (I used peaches and raisins)
Combine water and wheat berries in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Drain and rinse with cold water.

1 cup minced shallots object
1/2 cup cranberry juice
3 T olive oil
1/4 cup favored vinegar like raspberry (I used pomegranite champagne vinegar)
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t salt
pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.

2 oz. diced smoked sharp cheddar cheese
2 diced firm, crisp apples
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup green onions, cut on a bias
1/2 cup dried cherries

Pour dressing over cooked berries and add remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Daily Menu for May 18

I didn't end up making the fish tacos last night, so they're on the menu for tonight. I did make the chipotle-avocado cream last night and it's delicious! I ate some with quesadillas last night (not Core, of course) and it was spicy and creamy, a very nice (lower fat!) alternative to guacamole.

Chipotle Avocado Cream

1 c. fat free plain GREEK style yogurt (it's thicker than the plain stuff)
1/8 c. minced chipotle in adobo (about 1-2 chipotles plus the adobo sauce to make 1/8 c. - more if you like it spicy)
1 lime, zest and juice (give it a good hard rub on the counter to loosen up the juice)
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. Old Bay seasoning
2 avocados, mashed
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 green onion, cut finely on a bias
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Daily Menu

2 eggs, 1 t. olive oil
1 c. strawberries

Wheatberry salad with dried fruit, slivered almonds, smoked cheddar cheese (points), and homemade vinaigrette with olive oil, served over lettuce
steamed asparagus
2 c. milk

Fish tacos in cabbage "shells" with chipotle avocado cream
Jicama salad with carrots, radishes, cabbage, and corn
Brown rice

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (wheatberries, brown rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes (eggs, fish)
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fish Tacos!

I picked up a lovely piece of snapper at this morning's farmer's market and will be making fish tacos with a chipotle cream (made with fat free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream) and a jicama slaw with carrots, radishes, and Napa cabbage from our veggie box.

Today's CSA box included:
Napa Cabbage
Sugar Snap Peas
New Potatoes

I also picked up snapper ($7.00) and two pints of strawberries ($5.00.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Daily Menu for May 12

Today's Very Spring Daily Menu

With all that beautiful farmer's market fresh fruit and veggies!

Fage yogurt
1 t. flaxseed oil

Cold buckwheat noodle leftovers from last night's dinner (yum!)
portabella mushroom and zucchini sauteed in 1 t. olive oil
2 c. milk

green salad with 1 t. olive oil dressing
bulgur wheat

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (buckwheat noodles, bulgur)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grilling for Mother's Day

We had a very simple dinner tonight that was just delicious. I marinated thinly sliced steak in an Asian style marinade (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Chinese 5 spice powder, a bit of Hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and a bit of hot sauce) and then skewered it with slices of portabello mushroom and zucchini. Mr.M grilled them for just a few minutes, until they were golden brown with little crisp bits, and I served them with the leftover noodles leftover from last night's steamed fish. The noodles were cold and mixed with finely chopped, cooked broccoli and spinach and with the sauce from last night's fish, also Asian style. The cold noodles were very tasty with the grilled meat and vegetables, and the whole dinner was ready in no time at all. We'll be having strawberries for dessert. Mmm!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Farmer's Market is BACK!

I woke up this morning with the same excitement that was once reserved for my birthday. The Palo Alto Farmer's Market is back! I picked up my Full Belly veggie box and then spent a lovely morning strolling down the aisles of familiar vendors and their fresh spring fruits and vegetables, enjoying the live music.

In this week's veggie box:
Dino Kale
Green garlic

I also spent $38.85 at the market on:
3 blocks of Spring Hill cheese
a little over a pound of fresh snapper
3 zucchinis, green onions, 4 Portabello mushrooms, 1/2 pint of strawberries, and a big bag of oranges

Now I just have Weight Watchers meetings to miss until the baby is born in August.

I'm making steamed Asian-style snapper, spinach sauteed with green garlic, and brown rice for dinner.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Daily Menu for May 7

So far today, I have not been terribly hungry. I'm trying a new recipe for dinner, smothered chicken and barley, which is raved about on the Weight Watchers message board. If we like it, I'll post the recipe.

I have to go through the rest of the beef in the freezer so it doesn't go bad, so you'll probably notice more beef in the menus in the next couple of weeks. It lasts about 12-18 months in the freezer and we're coming up to 12 months now. Next time I'll buy a smaller portion, since I just don't cook as much beef as I expected to when we bought it.

1 c. milk
1 banana
(I wasn't very hungry)

1 c. milk
tamale pie leftovers

1 c. milk
Smothered chicken with barley
Kale sauteed in olive oil
Green salad with radishes and olive oil dressing

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (polenta, barley)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tamale Pie

I made tamale pie for dinner and it was delicious! I made a variation on one that floats around the WW internet boards, adjusting for what I have and the flavors we like. I made an extra tamale pie and it's in the freezer, starting to stock for after the baby is born. When Jax was born, my mom made us a dozen or so home made dinners, all frozen in the same 8"x8" pan and stored in zip top freezer bags for easy stacking. It was fantastic to have dinner ready to go when we were too brain dead to actually cook, and it will be wonderful this time around to have Core friendly meals not just for me and Mr.M but for Jax as well this time! The tamale pie is the first of many double batches in the near future.

Tamale pie

1 c. corn meal
2 1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. chili powder

Preheat oven to 350*. Combine cornmeal, broth, garlic, and chili powder in a medium saucepan; whisk or stir constantly over medium heat until slightly thickened. Spread in a 9 X 13-inch baking pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 tsp canola oil
1 t chili powder
2 t cumin
1 t dry oregano
1 tsp salt
1 chipotle in adobo, minced fine, plus 1 t adobo sauce
1 quart tomato sauce (I used my home made CORE spaghetti sauce from last fall with lots of veggies)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can or 2 c. diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can whole no-sugar-added kernel corn, drained
1 (16 oz) can or 2 c. cooked black beans
1 c. cheddar cheese (fat free for Core or count the points)

In a large skillet, saute onion, green pepper, carrot, and celery until onion is translucent. Add garlic and spices; toast briefly, stirring into the vegetables. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon.

Add chipotle in adobo and sauce, tomato sauce, paste, diced tomatoes, corn, and beans, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spread mixture evenly over the cornmeal mixture and top with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Peach crumble, spinach-rice soup, and a Daily Menu

I've been craving fresh peach pie for months. Not the kind made with pre-cooked, canned style peaches in a heavy double crust, but with fresh sliced fruit on a light crust, with vanilla ice cream. As it has not been peach season, the craving has been in the back of my mind for months, waiting. It's almost here, peach season; I saw the first local peaches, small and too firm to really be flavorful, at the market the other day, so I know we're heading into the best season of the year! But the craving was still too strong and I remembered that I had frozen peaches from our trip to Frog's Leap last summer.

I pulled them out, along with a few frozen berries, and made a crumble with them. I'm no baker and pie crust is beyond my ability or patience! I made a crumb topping with oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, and a little butter, baked it until it was golden, and enjoyed the peachy goodness! It's not pie, but was quite delicious and used all but the sugar were local ingredients - peaches from Napa, oatmeal and flour from Windborne CSA, butter from Strauss. I'll definitely make this again for a sweet treat that is low in points (I estimated it as 2 Points per serving for the minimal butter and sugar.)


Last night's dinner was an Asian-style spinach soup with a little bit of beef (less than a pound for about 6 quarts of soup), rice, lots of leeks, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and Asian spices (soy sauce, Chinese 5 spice powder, lots of black pepper.) I used 5 bunches of spinach and 2 leeks that had been building up in the fridge. The one pot dinner was very satisfying and a tasty last minute throw together meal. It was another almost all local dinner - only the ginger, spices, and soy sauce weren't local.


Daily Menu

Peach crumble

Spinach-rice soup with beef
2 c. milk

Yogurt, 1 t. flaxseed oil, and fresh strawberries (yippee!)

Young root vegetable braise with fava beans
Green salad with oil and vinegar dressing
Grilled salmon (I found one more package in the freezer while unearthing the peaches! Yay!)

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (oatmeal, rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fava beans, asparagus, and radishes: Spring veggies galore!

In our veggie box today, I received:

Fava Beans
Salad Mix
French Breakfast Radishes
Tokyo Turnips

Hooray for asparagus! We've gotten it a few weeks in a row and they've been quickly devoured after just a light simmer. They're so tender and sweet that they need no seasoning at all.

I've never eaten fava beans and am excited to try something new. I found a recipe for them that uses radishes, and turnips, too, so tonight I'll be making the young root-vegetable braise from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. The recipe calls for green onions and I'm going to substitute leeks, which seem to be reproducing in our refrigerator! I just don't use them up as fast as I get them.

I'm also planning on making one of the turkeys that I froze at Thanksgiving this week, which will be great with the fresh sage.

I've found a surprising use for chard and spinach: smoothies. Sounds strange, but fruit and yogurt smoothies disguise the greens flavor and it adds quite the nutritional punch. Jax has even asked for seconds! Lately, I've been using plain soy yogurt (Jax still can't have dairy), frozen peaches from our trip to Napa last summer, frozen berries, a cup of cooked chard, flaxseed oil, and a banana for a very tasty and healthy snack.

Young Root-Vegetable Braise

Sea salt
12 small turnips, peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 bunch radishes, stems trimmed to one-half inch
6 small carrots (3 to 4 inches long), peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 pound fava beans, shucked
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1bunch green onions, trimmed (use 2 to 3 inches of white and pale green part only) and sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, adding 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Slice the turnips and radishes in half if large; leave the smaller ones whole.

2. Blanch the turnips, radishes and carrots for 5 minutes, less if smaller, then lift them out of the simmering water and plunge them into an ice water bath. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

3. Bring the water back to a boil and add the fava beans; blanch 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. Reserve the cooking water. Pop the fava beans out of their skins and reserve the beans.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the green onions and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add one-half cup of the vegetable cooking water, the blanched vegetables, half of the parsley and tarragon and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Simmer until the vegetables are fully tender, about 10 minutes or until done. Add one-fourth cup cooking water as needed to maintain a small amount of sauce in the pan.

5. Add the fava beans, remaining butter and lemon juice. Increase the heat and swirl the pan back and forth until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the rest of the parsley and tarragon, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Picnic in the Park with our Last Local Salmon

We had a lovely picnic in the park with out of town family yesterday, and the menu featured what will be a rare treat this year: local salmon. I had a bit of local salmon in the freezer from last summer and pulled it out to defrost just as the radio was announcing that salmon fishing will be closed in California this year. Record low numbers of salmon are returning from the Sacramento river delta, from 800,000 six years ago to just 68,000 this year, and halting salmon fishing for the season will give them a chance to try to recoup their numbers.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has pointed to a sudden lack of
nutrient-rich deep ocean upwellings caused by ocean temperature changes as a
possible cause. But most biologists say it is a combination of factors,
including agricultural pollution, water diversions from the delta and damaged

So we will not be buying any whole salmon this season, obviously, and I'm glad we made the best of what we had left. I'm also glad that measures are being taken to protect the salmon. Hopefully a year off will make a difference; otherwise, we'll be looking at a salmonless future, and how sad that would be for all of us.

For our picnic, I made salmon salad sandwiches (made with fat free plain yogurt), Mexican cabbage salad, horseradish devilled eggs (made with fat free plain yogurt), and sliced watermelon. My mom brought a Waldorf salad and a friend brought hummus with goat cheese and tasty green olives. What a treat the spread was! So many great flavors, such good company, and yummy, CORE leftovers in my fridge!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Egg and Lentil Curry for Meatless Monday... And exciting news!

First, the exciting news: I'm having a girl! I had an ultrasound and everything looks healthy. My due date was pushed back to August 15, but I'll probably go late since Jax was two weeks late, my brother and I were both two weeks late, and my family has a history of late babies.

I have been eating more junk food lately as cravings hit and I definitely need to pay more attention to getting my 8 healthy guidelines every day. It's too easy to have French fries and pickles for dinner, which offers little in the way of nutrients to either me or the baby.

So for dinner tonight, we'll be enjoying an egg and lentil curry with sauteed garlicky greens and barley. It's my first time trying this recipe and if it comes out well, I'll post it (and a photo) this evening.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Daily Menu for March 24

We won't be having a Meatless Monday today as I defrosted a ham steak for Easter and we didn't end up eating it, so it needs to be eaten today lest it go to waste. We'll have a Meatless Tuesday instead. This week's veggie box was full of spring goodness, including fresh oregano, baby potatoes, beets, carrots, lettuce, leeks, and a variety of greens. I'm making the same potato-beet salad that I did last week since the main ingredients were all in the box this week and it was just so tasty.

We'll be planting a garden this week, and four small (dwarf) fruit trees are in pots on the porch awaiting transfer in our front yard. We have meyer lemon, Persian lime, espaliered Fuji apple, and Dorsett apple (not dwarf), and I think we're going to pick up a dwarf mandarin orange to round out the bunch. It will probably be a few years before they bear fruit, but I'm very excited to be planting them! In our tiny garden, I'm just planting a few veggies this time around. I'll be having the new baby in August and don't want to get in over my head with gardening while I'm hugely pregnant or sleepless with a new baby.

Applesauce oatmeal (this is easily my favorite breakfast - it keeps me full all morning and is so healthy)
2 c. milk

Hard cooked eggs and smoked trout with
Green salad, olive oil vinaigrette
1 c. milk


Grilled ham steak
Potato-beet salad (all veggies from my Full Belly veggie box)
Steamed carrots

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines

1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (oatmeal, )
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Strange pregnant lady cravings

I read an article recently that talked about how a fetus develops a taste for the foods the mother is eating regularly while pregnant - it swallows amniotic fluid, and that fluid takes on the dominant tastes of the diet like salty, sweet, bitter, garlicky, etc. If this is the case, our baby will come with a pre-destined love of all things sour and pickled. I have had a surprisingly strong craving for pickles lately and, in a single serving the other night, ate an entire jar of Italian Gardiniera, a slightly spicy pickled cauliflower, red bell pepper, carrot, celery, and onion mix. With a bowl of saurkraut on the side. Followed by a bowl of ice cream. Mr.M had to leave the room - the combination was just too disgusting for him to watch. I always thought the pickles-and-ice cream thing was a pregnant lady joke; I never had this craving while pregnant with Jax! But here I am, almost 5 months pregnant, and the stereotypical pregnant lady craving has hit. In fact, typing it out, I'm tempted to go buy more of the Gardiniera so I can have a repeat meal. Do pickled vegetables count toward the daily vegetable servings?

I'm also in search of a good pickled egg recipe if anyone has one.

Tonight, I'm delivering dinner to a woman from church with an injury, and I doubt she'd appreciate my wierd food combinations! so I'm making a perfectly normal meal - chicken cacciatore, roasted new potatoes, and broccoli.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Daily Menu for March 11

Jax helped me cook yesterday, so everything took twice as long, made twice as much mess, and was twice as much fun. He likes to scoop and stir, and taste. He ate part of a carrot, half a pickle, and a bite of raw potato as we were making the potato-beet salad, and even with ingredients that one wouldn't think are especially kid-friendly (like capers and strong green olives) he ate quite a bit of the salad. Getting your kids in the kitchen is fun and helps expand their culinary vocabulary, plus they're invested in the food so they may be more willing to try new things. They were HIS beets (he helped to put them into the pot to boil, then scooped the cooled beets from the cutting board into the salad bowl), so he was darn sure going to eat them!

Little sneak that he is, though, wanted in to cook after we were done but couldn't get past the kiddy gate to the kitchen. He tossed his beloved stuffed doggy over the gate then came to get me to rescue it. Once the gate was open, he tore across the room and climbed his stepstool to reach the counter, grab a wayward stirring spoon, and told me he was cooking!

Today is a lot of leftovers - both lunch and dinner made a lot of food! I have some leftover ham that needs to be finished, so I'm serving that with lunch.

Applesauce oatmeal
2 c. milk

Potato-beet salad

Carrots and hummus

Spanish rice and beans
Mexican cabbage salad
1 c. milk

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (whole grain bread, brown rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rice Cooker Spanish Rice and Beans for Meatless Monday

Tonight we're having Spanish rice and beans for Meatless Monday. I made this last week one night and it was delicious, very easy, and a hit with the whole family. The Mexican cabbage salad on the side made for an especially delightful combination - warm, savory and spicy beans and rice with cool, crisp, vinegary salad. My husband put a bit of each on his fork for both flavors in one bite.

I don't know if the salad is at all authentic. I was trying to recreate a mayo-free cole slaw that I had over the summer at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, and this came reasonably close and just as tasty.

Rice Cooker Spanish Rice and Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups dry beans, soaked overnight, picked over and drained (Pinto, black, kidney, or a mixture of beans would work well)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, diced
6 cups vegetable stock
14 oz. can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 teaspoons chili powder OR 1-2 chipotles in adobo, minced (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt

In a medium-hot skillet, saute onion, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic in 1 T olive oil until onion is translucent. Add 1 T. olive oil and the rice and cook until the rice browns slightly. Transfer mixture and all remaining ingredients to the rice cooker and set to cook. (My rice cooker has a "cook" setting with no other functions.) Fluff with a fork and serve.

Mexican cabbage salad
1 large head cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 red onion, diced fine
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lime
2 t. canola oil
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
pepper to taste (I used quite a bit, but I like the peppery taste)

Put all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake to combine. Pour over the vegetables, toss well, and serve.

Daily Menu

1 c. milk
toast with plum butter (local bread and plum butter - yummy!)

Potato-beet salad with olive oil vinaigrette (using Full Belly potatoes and beets from this week's CSA box and my own vinaigrette recipe)
served with lettuce and a hard boiled egg
1 c. milk


Rice Cooker Spanish Rice and Beans (using Lundberg rice and Phipp's Buckskin beans)
Mexican cabbage salad
1 c. milk

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (whole grain bread, brown rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cooking for my sick boy

Jax has yet another ear infection, his third in less than two months, and we were recommended a dairy-free diet for him as a potential fix for his constant congestion (and runny nose, eye crusties, puffy circles under his eyes, persistent night time coughing.) He may need ear tubes if the ear infections won't clear up, and I'm willing to try any reasonable options to help him feel better, since he's been just miserable since the beginning of January.

Last night I made ham and bean soup with vegan cornbread and collard greens. The vegan cornbread wasn't bad, and Mr.M, his mom, and Jax said they liked it fine, but the texture was a little off for me and it just didn't taste like Grandma's cornbread, the standard keeper of cornbreads. I think I'm going to have to play with that a bit before finding a recipe I really like. Either way, dairy or no, cornbread isn't Core. It is the perfect side for ham and bean soup with collard greens, though - definitely a meal my Southern Grandma would have made!

The ham and beans were delicious. It was also easy-peasy since everything was just tossed into the pressure cooker.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 cup dry beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used Desert Pebble beans from Phipps Country Store, but you could use Great Northern, Cannelini, or even Pinto beans)
1 lb. cooked ham, diced
1 onion, diced
1 c. carrot, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
4 c. vegetable stock
2 c. water
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
2 T brown sugar

Put everything into the pressure cooker. Cook under high pressure for 25 minutes or until the beans are tender. The ham made it salty enough for me, but you might want to add salt to taste.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Beef Stew with root vegetables

I have beef stew bubbling away in the crock pot, smelling mouthwateringly delicious, full of the great Full Belly root vegetables that have been wasting away in my crisper drawer for the past few weeks and tasty Chileno beef. I'll post a picture this evening, but here's the recipe in the meantime.

Beef Stew with Root Vegetables

2 lb. stew beef, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into bite sized pieces (I used short ribs cut from the bone, and added the bones for extra flavor. I'll pull the bones out before serving.)
2 T flour (I used whole wheat from Full Belly Farm)
1/2 t. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2-3 T Canola oil
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic
3 or 4 medium carrots, cut into bite sized chunks (about 3/4")
1 celery root, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (about 3/4"), or 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
2 or 3 medium potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks (about 3/4")
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (about 3/4")
6 oz. can tomato paste
2-3 c. water or 1/2 beef stock, 1/2 water (I didn't have any stock, but added the bones for flavor)
3-4 cups dry red wine
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/8 tsp. marjoram
1 t. thyme
sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then toss well with the beef. Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (NOT non-stick) and brown the meat in batches. Move the meat to the crockpot.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent but not brown, then move it to the crockpot. Deglaze the pan with 2 c. red wine, scraping up any brown bits; reduce by half, then add the tomato paste, seasonings, and 1 c. water. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer while you prepare the veggies except for mushrooms and peas. Add the veggies to the crockpot and cover with the pan sauce. Add equal parts wine and water to cover the veggies.

Set the crockpot to low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Add mushrooms and peas for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Polenta rounds with tomato sauce

I made a seriously delicious, easy, and toddler friendly meal today and wanted to share. Last night, I steamed broccoli and carrots, sauteed bell pepper, onion, and garlic, minced it all very fine and added it to cooked polenta (yellow cornmeal). I spread the mixture out on an oiled 9"x13" pan and put it in the fridge overnight to set. At dinner tonight, I cut the polenta into rounds with a biscuit cutter and pan fried them in olive oil, served them with tomato sauce, and enjoyed a healthy, whole food dinner with Jax, who loves them (he loves anything he can dip.) I have a plate full of polenta rounds to pop in the freezer for when I don't feel like cooking.

I served the polenta rounds with kale and cottage cheese. Yes, I've eaten a real meal! Hopefully it's part of a trend away from the bland carbs that have kept the nausea at bay for these past few months. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hooray for Hot Cereal

I prepared a big batch of hot cereal this morning to be reheated for breakfast the rest of the week. It is my standard oatmeal recipe made with milk and applesauce, cinnamon and vanilla, but I added raisins and a touch of maple syrup. I drizzle it with 1 t. flaxseed oil when I serve it, since flaxseed oil shouldn't be cooked. Delicious, filling, very healthy, and comforting on an upset stomach - it's a winner! I'm glad that I have a few portions now packaged in the fridge for mornings when I can't stand to stand at the stove for 30 minutes stirring. I used the grains from my grain CSA (they're stacking up since I haven't cooked much lately!), home made applesauce, Organic Valley milk from Modesto, and California grown organic Thompson raisins. Yum!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sick again

I haven't posted in a while, mostly because the nausea hasn't let up and I have no interesting recipes to share for the very plain foods that I'm preparing - toast, crackers, noodles, canned pears, yogurt. I lost 6 lb. during my first trimester, but it's almost certainly just because food isn't at all appealing and little is staying down. I'm very nearly to the second trimester, and am now on anti-nausea medication, so I should be eating like a normal person in the near future.

I'm also sick again with bronchitis, an ear infection and eye infection. Jax picked it back up last week and is almost better; I'm on antibiotics and waiting for wellness to invite me back to the party!

So I'm sorry that there's no new information here. I hope to be back to regular blogging (and off the sofa surrounded by spent tissues) very soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Daily Menu for January 21

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's also the meal I'm having the hardest time eating these days because of morning sickness. Most mornings, toast or crackers are the only thing that I'm finding appealing, and it's hard to get enough calories throughout the day because of the nausea. So I'm trying to bulk up breakfast to get a solid start to the day and get enough calories throughout the day, but I'm not following Core to do it. Peanut butter sandwiches are working to get in the calories and keep nausea at bay, so I'm eating them and appreciating that they make my tummy happy.

I'm also finding exercise difficult, since I'm tired all the time and still have a lingering cough. I need to just push myself to do at least 20 minutes a day of walking to keep myself from becoming a complete couch potato, so I'm going to do the Walk Away the Pounds 1 mile video this afternoon. Then I'm going to take a nap!

Tonight, I'm making bean soup for dinner using Dessert Pebble Beans from Phipps Country Store. They're all from the same plant, but a variety of colors from creamy white to speckled tan to dark chocolate brown. I'm hopeful that they'll retain their pretty colors after cooking!
Daily Menu
Natural peanut butter sandwich on sprouted wheat bread from Alvarado Bakery
Homemade applesauce
2 c. soy milk
2 clementines
Hard boiled egg
Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with 1 oz. lowfat cheese
Brown rice with olive oil
Desert Pebble beans
Turnip greens sauteed in olive oil
Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (whole grain bread, brown rice, polenta)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The veggies are back! The veggies are back!

Full Belly Farm has been on hiatus for the past three weeks, and while they certainly deserve a rest after providing such amazing produce week after week, all year long to over 1000 CSA members, I've been certainly missing my veggie box! I was so excited to pick up our veggies this morning that I squealed a bit when I saw the week's yummy variety, which included:

Salad mix
Mandarin oranges
Tokyo turnips
Butternut squash

It's like Christmas with root vegetables. The Palo Alto Farmer's Market is closed for the winter, so I'm picking up the box at Flea Street Cafe, and there is just a miniature booth of Full Belly goodies - broccoli, kale, root veggies galore, wheat berries, almond butter, dried herbs. So much good stuff! I picked up a bunch of dill and a bunch of cilantro for $2, happy to see the fresh bundles of yummy herbs. ($2 is my current spending for the week. Last week, I spent less than $50 on food, mostly for chicken soup and orange juice!)


I weighed myself this morning and was 281 lb., for a total of 30.6 lb. lost. I'm updating my goals and current weight loss for the first time in months. I had a bit of a gain, and a set back in my weight loss, and was embarassed to update with higher numbers. I have to get over that and update whether the scale moves up or down, and being pregnant, I anticipate it moving up in the coming months at a reasonable pace. I'm going to keep track, though, so I don't allow myself to get out of control.

I'm also adjusting my goals. I'm expecting to gain weight during my pregnancy, but my doctor has said that it's okay for me to lose as long as I'm eating enough for the baby to grow at a healthy rate. I would like to end my pregnancy no more than 15 lb. from where I started it. I gained 31 lb. with my first pregnancy, when I ate whatever I cared to eat and made no attempts to exercise, so I think that 15 is reasonable while I'm being careful about what I'm eating and am continuing to exercise.


Jax is feeling much better and is bouncing off the walls while I'm recouperating from my chest cold. I'm still sick, but I'm not feeling quite as much like an elephant is sitting on my chest, and I can breathe through my nose again, so things are improving.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sickness affects my plan

Our household is full of sick people. Jax has pneumonia and an ear infection - he's being treated with antibiotics and woke up this morning (at a glorious 9 am!!) with no fever for the first time this week, so he's on the road to recovery. I have a Nyquil cold - coughing, sore throat, headache, aches, fever, runny nose, sneezing - but being pregnant, I can't take Nyquil... or anything, really. Mr.M has a persistent cough, but otherwise seems unscathed, and unfortunately has been drafted as the gofer and care taker for a whiny, snotty, hacky household. Hopefully soon, we'll all be as good as new and I'll be posting recipes and menus again, but for now, I'm pretty much living on chicken soup, oranges, and oatmeal, and yogurt, which is not especially exciting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year! And a Daily Menu for January 3

I've been struggling with morning sickness, making it difficult to eat all that I'm supposed to right now. So I'll post my daily menu and make adjustments at the end of the day based on what I could actually eat! I'm doing my best to have a variety of foods and so far, I've not had a problem keeping down the prenatal vitamin. Hopefully this will soon pass!

Daily Menu

2 Saltine crackers (counted at lunch)
2 clementines
A bowl of oatmeal made with milk, applesauce, and flaxseed oil

Tomato soup
Yogurt smoothie with plain fat free yogurt, frozen peaches and berries, and flaxseed oil
4 More Saltine crackers (2 Points for 6 crackers)

Brown rice and lentils cooked with olive oil
Steamed Broccoli and cauliflower

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (Oatmeal, brown rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes