Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays from My Family

Wishing everyone happy holidays and safe travels. Here are some photos of my family during our past holidays to tied you over until I return. Enjoy!





























Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't Squeeze Me

You should never juice your fruits and vegetables.  While giving you a ton of vitamins and minerals, the pure juice is quickly digested and can raise your blood sugar too quickly.  This can lead to raised levels of insulin and eventually glucose intolerance which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes.  Not to mention it creates hunger spikes.

Who would have thought consuming fruit juices or veggie juices could possibly be harmful.  However this should be a consideration.  All fruits and veggies should be consumed in their natural state or as least processed as possible.  Most of the fiber in fruits or veggies are found in the skin or fibrous material that holds the natural juice in a solid state.  When consumed whole it takes longer to digest and allows for better absorption of vitamins and minerals not to mention the incredibly beneficial natural scrubbers of soluble and insoluble fibers on the digestive track.



It has also been proven that a balanced diet of protein and carbohydrates as well as healthy fats gives your body its greatest ability to absorb as much nutrition from the food sources.  It is key that one doesn't overload on a particular source of nutrition such as a high protein diet or low fat diet etc.  It is considered the best scenario to constantly challege your metabolism with different sources of nutrition at different time periods.

Don't buy into the hype of commercials trying to sell high price juicer's.  Slice that apple or orange. Shred that carrot or cucumber.  Garnish your salad with julienned veggies.  Get creative and don't be lazy by shoving your fruits and veggies into a mechanical maul. Every meal should have two to three servings of fruit or vegetables.  While this sounds like an insurmountable task, it is not necessarily so.



I have to thank my other brother Michael for this post.
Michael is an awesome cook.  He is one that can have a can of this and a can of that and make a meal that will make your mouth water.  Thanks Michael!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What the Heck is a Pescetarian? Patrick Is Going to Tell You.



Hello, I am Patrick, Kristi’s youngest brother. When I read her blog, I knew I needed to contribute. I, unlike Kristi, grew up eating my fruits and veggies. Whatever my parents put on my plate, I always ate. I didn’t need to hide the peas or feed them to the dog because I enjoyed the taste of veggies. I especially enjoy fresh garden vegetables like green beans, tomatoes, corn, sweet peas and any type of pepper.

Recently my wife, Susan, and I became pescetarians. If this word in not familiar to you, it is basically a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood. My wife, who grew up in the Tidewater region of Virginia, could not give up delicious seafood and I loved fish so we felt that this was the way to go. We started this diet by giving up meat for Lent and found it easy to eat this way. We feel this diet has health benefits and has less impact on the planet.

Courtesy of FriedChillies
To help find meals for this diet, we found inspiration from cuisines around the world. Most cultures don’t center their meals on meats so there are many delicious dishes to choose. We love Italian foods like vegetable lasagna, manicotti Florentine (stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese) and homemade pizzas with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. This past summer my wife took basil and lemon balm and made an awesome pesto to top pasta. We also love Mexican meals like black bean burritos, and chili rellenos (a personal favorite). I love to make pico de gallo, especially when I can get fresh garden tomatoes and peppers. We look to Asian inspiration for stir-fried vegetables with tempeh, an Indonesian soy product. Also, steamed edamame soybeans with kosher salt make a delectable snack. Indian foods, like vegetable korma and madras lentils come in easy to heat packs and can top brown rice for a hearty lunch. I could easily go on, but all this writing is making me hungry and it’s time for lunch.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's that Mystery Meat

Photo courtesy of creativmarket.info
There has been a lot of talk about children and obesity rates and what kids are eating. An issue that has always been in the forefront is school lunches. We all have personal memories of scary school lunches and now our kids are dealing with the same issues.  When they are in school sometimes they do not have control over what they are eating but on Monday President Obama signed the federal child nutrition act.  This act is expected to expand the nation's school lunch programs to include more fruit and vegetables.

According to the Southeast Missourian, this act authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children. It reauthorizes child nutrition programs for five years and includes $4.5 billion in new funding over 10 years. Among its provisions, the act:


* Gives the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools during the school day, including vending machines, the "a la carte" lunch lines and school stores.

* Provides additional funding to schools that meet updated nutritional standards for federally subsidized lunches, boosting the school lunch reimbursement rate by 6 cents. Currently, on average schools are reimbursed $2.72 per meal.

"This is a historic investment, the first real reimbursement rate increase in over 30 years," according to a White House fact sheet.

Photo courtesy of www.gourmet.com
* Adds 115,000 children to free and reduced-price meal programs.      

* Helps communities establish local farm-to-school networks, create school gardens, and ensures that more local foods are used in the school setting.

* Expands access to drinking water in schools, particularly during meal times.

* Sets basic standards for school wellness policies, including goals for nutrition promotion and education and physical activity.

With all of this being said, I just wanted to share some information about this new program since my blog is about fruit and veggies.  Hopefully this new program will allow children to get a more nutritious lunch rather than looking at their plate and asking "what is that mystery meat."

What are your thoughts? or memories?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pomegranate 101

Pomegranate juice became all the rave a couple of years ago and still is a huge favorite of people today.  It  has been used as traditional remedies for thousand of years but recently is best known for its antioxidant health benefits.   I have bought pomegranate juice before but had never bought a pomegranate until recently so I wanted to show you how to cut and eat a pomegranate.

First when you are in the store, look for a firm but dark pomegranate.  Then when you get it home get a couple items ready before cutting it open, you will be thankful you did.

You will need a cutting board, paper towels, a sharp knife, a bowl of water, and a strainer basket.  I will let you know that this is a little bit time consuming but it is worth it.


First you are going to cut both ends off of the pomegranate.  Make sure you have paper towels on your cutting board because the juice can stain.  You will need to watch your clothes also.


Then you are going to take your knife and score the pomegranate.  You will need to cut through the skin until you reach the pith.  The pith is the white inside skin.


Once you have scored the whole pomegranate, you will put it in a bowl of water.  You can see my scores and they are all the way around.  The reason for putting it in the water is because it will be easier to work with and the juice will not get on everything.


Next you will start separating the sections and pulling them apart.  As you pull them apart you will also be separating the peel and internal white pulp from the arils (seed casings).  You will notice that the pulp will rise in the water and the seeds go to the bottom.  This will make it easy to separate.


Keep going until all the sections are in the water.



Next you will start separating the peel and internal white pulp from the arils (seed casings).  You will notice that the pulp will rise in the water and the seeds go to the bottom.  This will make it easy to separate.


After you have gotten most of the pith or pulp separated, then you will take your strainer and get the smaller pieces out.  I also had to use my fingers to separate some of the arils from the small pieces of pulp.



Next you will strain the seeds by draining the water.  If there is still some pith, just pull it off.


Then guess what, you have pomegranate seeds which you can eat or use to make juice.  If you make juice, you just need to mash the seeds up and strain the remaining pulp.


Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Are Those Raspberries, Yum

I am addicted to any kind of berries.  My favorite is blackberries and next is raspberries.  I was buying some raspberries today and the lady in line behind me ask what kind of cherries are those.  I was shocked that she was not familiar with raspberries but I know that there are many fruits that I do not know too.  That is why I try new fruits when I got to the store.

Lately I have loved eating any kind of berries in greek yogurt with a little honey or agave syrup.  Yum.  However this morning I did not have any and created a cream sauce from cream cheese, almond milk, and sugar.  Pour it over the berries and it was so good.  It was creamy and a little bit sweet.  I really did not measure anything but I am learning that you just need to experiment so why not try something new today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pass the Potatoes, No I Mean the Creamy Herbed Potatoes

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went to see Ree Drummond who has a blog, The Pioneer Woman.
After hearing her talk I started looking at her site again and the recipes. She has so many but this one caught my eye because it sounded really yummy and I was not disappointed. However, who can be disappointed with this much butter and cream cheese. Her recipe for Creamy Herbed Potatoes and beautiful pictures are here.

First thing you need to do is slice an onion and I like my onion very fine.  Then you need to slice your potatoes.  She uses a mandoline and I did too.  It is really easy to use but if you do not have one, just slice them very thin.   Next you are going to melt 1 stick of butter in a pan.  I cut mine into small slices so that it will melt faster.  




Once it is melted, then you add your diced onions.  Stir them around and let them cook until somewhat soft.  



Then you are going to add the cream cheese, cream, and milk.  I actually substituted half and half for heavy cream and it worked fine. You will stir this mixture until it becomes a sauce adding salt and pepper to your liking.  You are also going to want to add the herbs, chives, parsley and sage.  Fresh if you have it.

Then you are going to butter a baking dish and add the potatoes.  See top picture.  Then pour the sauce over the potatoes.  See below picture. You need to mix the potatoes and sauce completely. Try and cover all of the potatoes. Then you are going to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.












Then you are going to cover all of the potatoes with parmesan cheese. This is what gives them their golden color.

Remember that you can find her recipe here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pucker Up

What do you think of when someone mentions lemons? I think of the sour.  I think refreshing.  I think summer. I think teeth whitener. I think sweet lemonade.


The exact origin of lemons is a mystery but they were presumed to have first grown in India, Burma, and China.  When reading about this fruit, I found it interesting that it used to be an antidote for various poisons.  This is note-worthy because I am going to show you how to use lemons as a cleansing drink.

I used to drink a glass of water with lemon juice every morning when I was in my 20s.  Not sure why I did this but had read somewhere were it was cleansing.  I recently picked this habit back up in the mornings.  Before I drink my coffee, I have started taking a glass of water and adding the juice of one lemon to it.  Then I drink it.  I think of it as a flush in the morning and it might be mental but I think it helps because it gives me a kick start.



As you can imagine, I have lots of left over lemon halves and I realized that I could start freezing them in a ziplock to use in other ways.  One is for lemon zest later on and second is for putting in bags of apple slices.  It helps to diminish the browning effect to apples.  The halves are also great to put down the disposal.  They make it smell more fresh and helps clean the blades.

Hope you have enjoyed these tips.  Would love to hear how you use them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tip Me: Rose Syrup

Now that it is getting cold, I love to drink tea in the evenings and one of my new favorite ones is hot rose milk tea.

This was not my invention but something I always get at one of my favorite Norman restaurants, TEA Cafe. I like getting this rose milk tea but like Starbucks, it can get expensive.  So on my last visit I asked them if they sold the tea and they said no.  However, they told me how they make it and I was very surprised.


They use a rose syrup for the flavor and add this to either green or black tea. They also add non-dairy creamer to give it the milky flavor. Well once they told me this, I went home and started Googling rose syrup which I found on Amazon. I ordered it right away and have been so glad that I did because now I can make my favorite tea at home and save some money.


This syrup is great in tea, sparkling water, vodka, or anything else you can imagine.  It has a very light but sweet taste so you do not need a lot of it.

I was checking out health benefits for rose petals and there are many but the one that intrigued me the most is that the smell of rose has a calming effect.  I could relate to this because when I drink this tea or just smell it, it calms me down.





Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Substitutions Please

I received my Country Living magazine recently and my dad told me he was going to use a recipe out of the magazine to make cranberry pie for Thanksgiving so I decided to do the same.  However, mine did not turn out and I think the reason is that I substituted half and half for heavy cream.

As you can see, this was a beautiful pie in the magazine but mine, not so pretty. Here is the recipe from Country Living. Read on.

Guess what, this happens when you are cooking.  I have come to realize recently that baking is a science and needs to be precise but cooking does not.  You do not really have to measure during cooking and things still turn out delicious.  So keep this in mind.
BAKING, be precise
COOKING, add what you want


This pie calls for a pie crust filled with cranberries.






Next you need to whip an egg white until you have peaks.  Just use a whisk or an electric beater.
Then you sift together sugar and flour then pour in egg white mixture.  It will form a paste like substance.  Then slowly stir in cream until combined.  Here is the part where you DO NOT want to use half and half, use heavy cream.
Then you are going to sprinkle remaining sugar on top of cranberries and the pour the cream mixture into the pie crust and over the cranberries.








The below picture is my messed up pie.  You can see that the cream mixture really separated from the cranberries.  When the pie was eaten you could
definitely see the separation.  Well that is ok, at least I tired a new recipe.

Any mess ups you would like to share?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's In Season for December

The growing season in many parts of the country has stopped but not in other areas so I wanted to talk about what is currently in season.  In doing this, I found a great link that shows different states and what is being grown right now.


You will notice that a lot of the northern states have stopped growing but the southern ones have not.  This just makes sense because of temperatures.  I live in Oklahoma so the map shows beets, brussels sprouts, pecans, and potatoes.  Not many choices.  I am going to have to try beets and brussels sprouts though because I have never eaten either.



We have become so accustomed to buying whatever we want in the stores but we truly do not think about the amount of energy that it takes to transport these items.  We are now a society where we like lots of choices and I am truly grateful that we have all these choices but remember that this might be why prices are high on some items.

I challenge you the next time you go to the grocery store to start checking out where your product is from.  It should say on the tag or the package.  You will be amazed at how far some items travel.  Think about grapes from Chile.  It is around 5100 miles and this is a long way for anything to travel but especially fruit.

What fruit or veggies are you eating right now?  Do you have a tendency to eat something more in the winter than summer?  Watermelon is the first thing that comes to my mind for summer.  I think of apples this time of year. Tell me what you think?

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