Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pick Me, Says the Cantaloupe

I ran into the grocery store on Monday at lunch to grab a couple items and I needed some fruit to get me through the week and was also cheap, so I picked up a cantaloupe and a pineapple.  Today I want to talk about the cantaloupe.

Did you know that the cantaloupe originated in India and Africa?  I bet you knew that it is in the family of melons and squashes. I also found out that they need a warmer climate to grow. Cantaloupes were supposedly introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494.  Interesting stuff.

The main thing that I like about cantaloupe is that it is easy to cut up and eat, especially in fruit salad. I usually will buy one and cut it into chunks and then store them individually for each days' fruit serving but make sure once it is cut up that you do not store for more than 3 days.  It can then start collecting bacteria.

The one thing that you need to remember is make sure that you are washing the outside of the cantaloupe.  The reason is that the grooves in the cantaloupe can harbor bacteria, so make sure you wash the outside good before cutting it up.  I used to never think about this because I thought I am not eating the outside of the fruit, so why should I was it but it is better to be safe than sorry.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Growing My Own Vegetables

Recently a friend on Facebook talked about her development of a community garden and I sent her a message immediately. The main reason is that I had never gardened and I thought this would be a great learning opportunity, especially since others were going to be working in the garden.

So Saturday I got to go out to the site and help out a little.  The half acre had already been plowed and my friend had acquired some compost from the City of Norman.  Here is her post. It is really interesting.  The Sexiest Men Alive.

My friend was so excited when she was explaining the garden to me and I loved it.  Her enthusiasm was a breath of fresh air.  It made me want to learn more so I asked several questions and then we started laying out the plots.  They had already been drawn but we needed to measure them out.  So here is the site after hammering in the stakes and drawing the string to show the plots.

Here is another shot that lets you see the size of the garden.  I realized that a half acre is quite large but it will be a great size once people start picking plots and working on it together.  

I think I was truly excited about this project because I learn from doing and I thought how could I go wrong working on a project where others were going to be doing mostly the same thing as I would be doing.  This was a win, win situation.  Plus my friend wants to have a plot so that some of what is grown is donated to a local food bank or other organization.  

This little bit of work took a lot of effort but I was so proud once we finished.  My friend also helped me the next day plant some lettuce and tomatoes. I am excited to see what is going to grow from the seeds.

I will be doing future posts on this project.  It is one thing to eat fruit and veggies but it is a whole other thing to grow them too.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Traveling in the Tropics

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Nicaragua and wanted to share some insights on eating fruits and vegetables while traveling.

Actually this is sometimes a very difficult task for me.  I tend to go back to my comfort zone of fast food because it is so easy to do but I try to taste the local fare as much as possible.

The best thing about traveling to the tropics is lots, and I do mean lots of fruits are available.  Especially tropical fruit, which I love.  Check out the papaya.  It is huge.  Nicaragua also has these fruit drinks that are made with different fruits and either water or milk.  This is what I mostly drink while in Central America or water.  Definitely need lots of water.

So I can usually get fruits into my everyday meals but vegetables is another matter.  Usually when you get vegetables on your plate it is a mixture of shredded cabbage, carrots, tomato and maybe a cucumber.  I was also able to get iceburg lettuce but the people close to me will tell you that I do not like iceberg lettuce.  It has no taste and no nutritional value but does have good moisture content so if I can find it, I will eat it.

One item that I do eat a lot of in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is fish. I love the way they cook fish but make sure that you ask for a filet otherwise you might get something like this. The whole fish and I hope you like head and tails. Some people eat the whole thing. I cannot.

The last item I wanted to talk about was a fruit I got to try for the first time this trip.  It was a Nispero.  It is also known as a Japanese plum, loquat, and nispolero. It has a wonderful brown sugar taste. It is sweet and has large dark brown seeds in the center. I was so thrilled eating this fruit because of the texture and taste. Try it the next time you are in Central America. They are said to be native to Costa Rica.

So these are a few of my thoughts on my recent trip. I had an amazing time and I will share one more photo with you on Las Penitas, Nicaragua. Next time you travel, try something new when it comes to fruits or veggies or a new place or drink. You might be surprised!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

These are turkey meatloaf muffins. I wanted to share these with you that I found at Jaime Eason's Website. She is a well known body builder and she has a couple wonderful recipes on her site. I would check them out.

Below are the ingredients I used:

1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme, ground
2 tsp dry yellow mustard
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp of Ms. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning (this does the trick to these)
1 tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small diced onion
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 egg whites ( I used 4 large egg whites)
1 - 2 pounds ground turkey, can use chicken or beef too

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients well.  Do not over mix though. She talks about this in the video. Spray muffin pan and then put large ball about the size of tennis (maybe just a little smaller) in each tin and then bake for 40 minutes. Makes 12 - 18 depending on size.

I love this recipe because you can actually add any vegetables that you would like. I think the onion and celery and ground turkey remind me of thanksgiving. They are so, so good and truly filling. She states women can eat two but I can only eat one at a time.

Check out her site for the calorie information. It is really low. You will love these. I also wrapped them individually in aluminum foil and placed in a freezer ziplock and froze for the week. They are great to take to work and pop in the toaster oven.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Curried Lentils From Someone Special

This post is contributed by Kimberly Parker.  I have to give a little background about Kimberly from my perspective.  I would not be doing this blog if it wasn't for her.  She was the one that hooked me up with these bags of organic fruits and vegetables each week from a cooperative years ago.

The thing that is so important about these bags is that you never knew what you were getting each week but this was the greatest part for me because it made me try new things.  I will also say that she always amazed me because she was and I am still sure, a planner when it comes to food.  She would plan what she was going to eat for the week and then shop.  I had been doing things so backward and still sometimes do now.  I have learned so much from her and I am forever grateful.

Below is one of her recipes and I am going to give it a try because I have never cooked lentils but this sounds delicious and easy.

Curried Lentils

48 ounces chicken stock (or water with bouillon)
2 TBS minced garlic
Oregano, Ground Red Pepper and Ground Curry
(add all of these to taste)
1 diced onion
1 bag baby carrots
1 diced celery heart
1 bag lentils
2 cups brown rice

Bring all ingredients, except rice, to a boil then simmer for 40 minutes on low to medium low. Meanwhile, cook rice in separate pan according to directions.

Serve lentils over rice and enjoy! I think this is a great recipe if you are vegetarian or vegan. Thanks again Kimberly for this recipe and getting me hooked on fruits and veggies.


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