Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Wonderland and My New Kitchen Toy Reviewed

Wow did we get hit with snow Wednesday evening. It was the craziest weather I have seen in a long time. Thunder and lightning during a snow storm is wrong and creepy. It came down so quickly that many people abandoned their cars on the expressway (83 North) heading out of town and walked out. However Thursday morning we were greeted with a beautiful winter wonderland effect of a foot of wet snow sticking to everything. It is gorgeous but I didn’t have to drive in it so that is easier for me to say than those who did have to come home in it. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Our breakfast Thursday morning contained: oatmeal, wild blueberries, cinnamon, powdered ginger, cardamom, freshly ground flaxseed, and walnuts. I made mine with water and Dan’s with soymilk.

My lunch was okara sliders I dipped in a quick sauce of salsa and bbq. I liked the sauce because it was less sweet than bbq but also had chunks of tomatoes and more heat. I am not sure what possessed me to combine them but I liked the way it turned out.

The first afternoon snack of the day was a navel orange and two Brazil nuts (for the selenium).

My second snack was frozen grapes and walnuts. In case you hadn’t noticed walnuts are my nuts of choice, other than my two daily Brazil nuts for the selenium. I tend to grab walnuts because they have the best omega 3 to omega 6 ratios of the tree nuts.

For some reason I was hungry today and my third snack was a small bowl of the curried red lentil and tomato soup with a few sliced almonds on top

New Sharper Image Oven:

I had not planned dinner tonight so I decided to make something simple and try out the halogen, convection and infrared oven I ordered last week. Thursday night seemed like a good time to try out the oven. I used it make BBQ tofu since I knew how long that should take in the oven. Here are the pros and cons of the oven:


• It preheats very quickly; it took under 10 minutes to reach 350 degrees which is much quicker than my stove. It is also easy to tell when it has reached temperature because the light goes out.

• In 20 minutes the tofu was firm and chewy and that would take 45 minutes in my convection oven

• It has a self clean feature that worked extremely well. You put two inches of water in the base and a small amount of dish liquid and set it to self clean. I was skeptical this would work but it did very well. The steam generated even softened the BBQ sauce on the lid making it easy to wipe off with a damp towel.

• It draws no more power than my Vitamix and uses much less than my oven.

• No VOCs were generated by this machine. I had an air quality monitor set up with two foot of the machine to see what would happen. This is huge for me since I know the oven sets off the air quality monitor every time.


• Takes up a large footprint on the counter when not in use. Additionally it requires space on either side so you have somewhere to set the lid down when flipping or removing the food.

• The light coming off and on attracted the cats which wasn’t good since the exterior gets hot. I will have to work on how to keep the felines away from it when it is on. Hopefully they will get used to it and stop being attracted to the light going off and on.

Overall, I am happy with the purchase. If you are someone who uses a toaster oven for a small meal this takes up about the same amount of room and is faster.

Dinner was the BBQ tofu from the little oven and frozen broccoli that I cooked until lightly tender and tossed with tomato and raisin pesto and topped with sliced almonds for crunch.


Jenny asked how dangerous carrageenan was in a prior post. I had read years ago that it was linked to cancer in lab animals and then eliminated it from our diet. When you read your ingredient lists I think you will be surprised how often this shows up in processed food, particularly non-dairy beverages, cheezes and frozen desserts. It is also called Irish moss and is used often in raw food. In case any of you wanted to read more on this here is what Dr. Weil has to say about carrageenan.

Vitamin Water and Soda with Vitamins:

These products make me crazy! Why would people what to get their artificial vitamins in water or soda? Does anyone actually think these are natural sources of vitamins? Seriously they are no different than taking a multivitamin only most people that drink them seem to do both as though more artificial vitamins are better than less. *sigh*

Studies are now showing that getting your vitamins from artificial sources (like supplements or beverages) does not have a positive impact on health and in some case can be harmful. If you want to do something healthy eat more fresh whole food because that contains natural vitamins that your body knows how to process and use. There really is no magic bullet you can use to overcome living a less than healthy life.

Sorry for the rant but whenever I see commercials for this junk I get annoyed. As you can guess I just saw that vitamin water is on sale at Whole Foods and it set me off. ;-) *ugh*

Making Dietary Changes Part 2:

Back to this section I started on January 15 with the idea of starting your morning with a healthy breakfast. I wanted to give you plenty of time to work that in before introducing another idea. After writing about carrageenan and vitamin water I think the next idea has to be to reduce the intake of processed food. I can almost hear the collective groaning as I type this. I know it isn’t the easiest thing to do but it will have a huge impact on your health. Don’t believe me? Pull something out of your refrigerator or pantry and read the ingredient list. I will almost guarantee it you includes some chemical word that you can’t pronounce and don’t know that it means (unless you are a chemist). I am not a medical professional but it can’t be good to ingest a chemical cocktail every day. Humans weren’t designed to consume artificial food.

Corporate America has taken something natural, food, and turned it into “food-like substances”. It looks like food, it smells like food but it has been chemically altered making it not natural. When we initially gave up processed food it was difficult mostly because I needed to make more things rather than buying them. However once you get into the habit it really isn’t that difficult. Also now when I take a bite or sip of something processed it takes like the chemical concoction that it is. It never tasted like that to me before, I suppose my taste buds were used to it. But now processed food tastes vile to me.

I would suggest you start by removing the processed food you consume the most and substitute something natural for it. If you are huge diet soda drinker switch to water or tea. If you eat a lot of processed faux meat switch to beans and tofu or learn to make your own veggie burgers or seitan. By removing the thing you consume the most you will have the biggest impact on your health.

Happy Thoughts:

With all the snow we had I spent Thursday at home as you might have guessed. It was a good a day for me and here is what I am thankful for today:

• Thursday was a mostly me type of day. Sometimes you need to pamper yourself to recharge your batteries. I had a relaxing day which included exercising, listening to instrumental jazz, talking on the phone with friends, and a nice long soak in a hot bath with sea salt and essential oils. Doesn’t it just sound like heaven? ;-)

• I loved playing with my new kitchen gadget. I am totally a gadget type of girl so anytime I get a new toy I am in heaven. I am very pleased by how well it worked and love the self clean feature which was a very pleasant surprise.

• I was grateful that Dan made it to work and back this week safely and without incident. There were many travel horror stories which made me very thankful he wasn’t one of them.

• It was also wonderful to be one of the homes that didn’t lose power in the storm. I heard Friday morning that 80,000 in DC are still without power. It made me appreciate that ours very rarely goes out.

• Dan liked the combination of BBQ and salsa that I sent in his lunch for dipping his okara and oat sliders into. This is probably our new favorite sauce of the moment. I love coming up with new sauce ideas especially one that is super quick like this one. *happy dance*

Signing out:

Friday was a busy day but also a good one. Dan even ended up coming home from work earlier than usual. We spent a nice relaxing evening catching up on season 6 of "Criminal Minds" that we had recorded but hadn’t watched. It was a good way to spend the evening.

Talk to you again tomorrow. I hope you are having a great start to the weekend.


  1. I found your blog by accident. I used to love to cook, but stopped, because I also love to eat. I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years due to a love of animals (no leather or silk either), but I won't lecture. I'm looking at the vegan option. I try to buy free range products, but in mass market items, who knows how the animals were treated? I need to improve my eating, however. I work all nights and know I'm lacking in vitamin D (and am unable to get it from the usual source due to being light sensitive-thus the nightshifts). So, I will check for recipee updates. I hope your husband gets well. My Dad, years ago, despite a bad prognosis, made it through non Hodgkins Lymphoma. His diet had always been heavy on Finn-Swede stapels of thick rye bread, potatoes, fish, etc. No packaged food!

  2. Not Waving ... ,

    Love your comment about you stopped cooking because you love to eat. That made me smile. :-)

    I have come to the same conclusion that mass market commercial "free range" isn't much better for the animals. It is very sad. Have you seen "Food, Inc?"

    Our internist checks our vitamin D and B-12 every 6 months. He mentioned a few years ago that over 80% of his patients are low on D and many of the "older folks" are low on B-12.

    Most of my posts contain recipes since I cook everyday and don't make many repeats. There should be a new recipe up later today.

    Thanks for the story about your dad. I love a good medical miracle. We are doing our best to be a medical miracle too. *fingers crossed*

    thanks for commenting,

  3. Those snowy photos are soooo pretty - the trees are amazing. Course, that's easy for me to say sat here in Spain!
    I've been reducing my processed food intake and I'm at a level I'm more comfortable with, there's not many things I eat that I haven't made myself from scratch but it could be better.

  4. Ali,
    I tried another falafel recipe that I found on the internet and it wasn't nearly as good as yours!
    Keep warm in that winter wonderland you're having.

  5. Jeni,

    I am glad you liked the pictures of the snow. It is pretty but to look at but driving in it here is a nightmare. ;-)

    Eliminating processed food is tough. It took me a while to figure out what would work for me. Once I started making intentional leftovers it all seemed to come together. Good for you making the switch much sooner in life than I did. :-)

    enjoy your weekend,

  6. Aimee,

    I am sorry you didn't like the other recipe but I am thrilled that you liked mine. I tried a lot of variations before I came up with it. We like it a lot too.

    It isn't terribly cold here at the moment even with the snow. We are at 36 now and are expecting more flurries later today. It is definitely winter. ;-)

    Enjoy your weekend,

  7. The pictures of the snow are awesome! I love it when it snows. Its always so beautiful.

  8. Everything looks great as always. I like that oven! Looks like that NuWave oven. I was always interested in that. What is the lowest temp it gets too? Can you dehydrate in it?

    Thanks for the info on...I forget the word, the thing that starts with a "c" and is added to non-dairy things. I always wondered what that was! It always worried me because it made me think of carcinogens.

    Also, question: I saw that you used cardamom in your oatmeal. Any other good recipe ideas with cardamom in it? I have both ground and cardamom seeds. I love it! I use it when I drink Turkish coffee very rarely.

  9. PS- I buy Garden of Life Raw vitamins for women. I don't take them every day, mostly on days I feel like I didn't get adequate nutrition. Are these ok in your opinion? I also use Garden of Life Raw protein powder :)

  10. Konrad,

    I agree the snow is always beautiful! It would be perfect if we could all stay inside sip hot cocoa and look at the window at it rather than needing to drive somewhere. ;-)


  11. Carissa,

    I think it is very similar to the NuWave oven just the Sharper Image version. The lowest temperature setting is 250 with a thaw setting below that with no temp given. It doesn't appear to go low enough to use it as "raw" dehydrator. Sorry!

    Carrageenan has worried me for a long time too. All I needed to read was that it was linked to cancer in animals and we stopped consuming it. Sadly it is in too many things. When you start looking for it on labels you will see what I mean.

    I love cardamom and will use it just about any place you would use cinnamon. Mango Lassies are a great place to use it. I love the flavor of cardamom with apples too. The floral aroma is what attracts me. ;-)

    I don't know that brand of vitamins I would need to look. However, you seem to eat very healthy I can't imagine you needing vitamins at least not every day. If you take 1/2 a tablet daily or a whole tablet every other day or less you would probably be fine.

    Is the protein powder isolated? I avoid those completely. In general it seems to me that Americans tend to overdo on the protein. Since protein overconsumption is also linked to rapid cell growth and therefore cancer, I also try to keep that under control. Does that makes sense?


  12. The oven is pretty cool- you have very few cons for it! This seems so practical and quick. I'll also check out your pesto, I've been looking for ways to season or sauce broccoli.

    I have heard about the thundersnowstorm from people in Philly - how interesting, but also a little scary! Your next-day photos are really beautiful. We are thawing out here and I'm ready for some pretty, fluffy snow, until spring.

  13. Awesome oven - it seems "space aged" LOL
    I am enjoying your food philosophy and helpful tips series as well. And thanks for the carrageenan link - some people at work have been asking about it.
    Take care


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