Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vegan Sausage, Peppers & Mushrooms and Miscellaneous Stuff ;-)

I am going to start with a tease for the vegan sausage and peppers from dinner last night. This is ridiculously quick and easy but very tasty and still healthy. ;-)


Wednesday started off exactly as I had expected with the scale going up. Whenever we go out to dinner that happens the following day. I feel certain it is mostly due to the sodium that causes us to retain water and me more so that Dan. I find it fascinating how much of an impact consuming sodium can have on weight.


Breakfast this morning was grapes, and a small handful of unpictured walnuts. I didn’t have much of an appetite this morning after a bigger than usual dinner so I ate a light breakfast. Dan had his usual bowl of oatmeal with no-sugar apple butter and walnuts this morning.

Once Dan left for work I decided to walk to the grocery store to pick up a few things before the rain started. There is a big band of rain and thunderstorms running up the east coast causing the weather service to post flood advisories for our area. While I love to walk to the store I would rather not in the rain so I got out and back this morning. Like usual we needed organic carrots and organic celery. However this time I grabbed another container of organic tofu (no soy protein isolates), organic tempeh, and bananas for smoothies.


For lunch today I decided to eat something from the freezer to start to make room. This time I grabbed a potato filled calzone. I used to make calzones all the time before we began reducing our bread consumption. This one used my 100% whole wheat dough and I filled it with cooked potatoes, rosemary, and caramelized garlic. If you make these in large batches you can wrap them in foil and freeze them in zip top bags. I find they defrost nicely in the foil in a 300 degree oven. The filling was based on a potato pizza I had in Italy years ago. It is very carby but good. Today I dipped it in what I call adult ketchup that I also had in the freezer. My freezer is full of things like this but I really need to reduce the inventory so I can put new things in there.

Thoughts on weight and health:

I received a very thoughtful email today reminding me that weight is just a number after my post yesterday and not a sign of how healthy or unhealthy a person is. To a large extent I agree with what this person wrote. However it brought up some thoughts for me about weight that I want to share so that you can think about the issue as well.

The reason I mentioned the weight at the doctor yesterday was because I was annoyed that the number wasn’t what I had expected and wanted to share that. My annoyance was gone 5 or 10 minutes afterwards but in that moment I was not amused. Is weight a big deal? I guess that all depends. If you are happy with how you look and feel and all your other health indicators (blood work, BP, etc.) are good I don’t think weight alone is that meaningful. However normally excess weight brings its own problems so it isn’t something to be dismissed lightly either. I do agree that there is a lot of pressure on women to be thin in our society and I don’t want to add to that with my comments. So if I did I apologize that was not my intention. I think it is much more important to eat a healthy diet and exercise and focus on your BP, cholesterol, resting heart rate and waist size than your weight.

I also believe that if you eat a healthy whole food plant based diet your weight will eventually reach the amount that is right for you. That number is very individual and shouldn’t be something you look at a chart to determine. Many people tell me that my husband that Dan is too thin. Since his BMI is just under 25 we both find that a little surprising. But the consensus among our friends is that he needs to gain weight. Needless to say I brought this up with our internist this week who said he thinks Dan is exactly where he should be. As a culture we have gotten so accustomed to see people that are larger than they should be that we think those at a healthy weight are too thin. This is similar to cholesterol levels in this country. When did cholesterol of 200 get to be normal? Easy when nearly everyone in America started to overindulge in unhealthy food.

So how do you know if you are healthy? How was your last doctor visit? Are your health indicators good or are you closer to the average American? Given the dramatic improvement in my health and Dan’s I am fairly confident that eating a diet like ours will improve anyone’s health no matter what issues you are currently facing.


When dinner time came around I wasn’t much in the mood to cook. Most days I love cooking but yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I made a quick dish from things I had on hand in the refrigerator and freezer. While I didn’t measure things I have a good idea what I did which I will try to describe in a narrative fashion rather than in a formal recipe. This took me about 20 minutes to prepare which was mostly due to the time it takes to make quinoa. If you use cooked brown rice from the refrigerator the dish can be made in less than 10 minutes. This is a version a traditional Italian sausage and peppers only no meat.

I cooked 1 diced red onion, 6 cloves of minced garlic in 2 cups of pureed tomatoes. Add another 2 cups of diced peeled tomatoes, 2 diced red bell peppers and 1 diced poblano. To this I added ½ pound or crimini mushrooms, 2 sweet Italian seitan sausages which I cut into bite sized pieces, Italian seasoning and no salt seasoning to taste. I also added nutritional yeast until I had a light buttery background this turned out to be 3 tablespoons. I served this on quinoa and topped with walnut parmesan. This made 4 good sized servings.

It was the perfect meal for a cool rainy night. Dinner was Dan’s idea; he always loved sausage and peppers. I am happy that I can make a healthy vegan version that he still enjoys.


The rain started really coming down around midnight. By morning it looked like it was time to build a boat in the backyard. Of course the big oak trees in our neighborhood had filled one of our downspouts with acorns so my poor hubby had to deal with that problem before he could go to work. The poor baby was soaked when he came in from the yard.


Dan had his usual big bowl of oatmeal this time topped with no-sugar apple butter and chopped walnuts. He also had a mug of hot green tea to warm up after being out in the cold rain.

Since I had stayed inside and dry (I am such a girl) I didn’t need a hot breakfast. I had a bunch of grapes and a few walnuts for breakfast. I did join Dan and have a mug of hot green tea since it was a bit cool in the house.


I was seriously in the mood for one of my enormous salads today. This one contained: 1 head of romaine, 2 Roma tomatoes, 1 thinly shaved carrot, ¼ thinly shaved cucumber, a sprinkle of slivered almonds and dried cranberries and cherries. I dressed this with my current favorite dressing of Dijon, red wine vinegar and stevia.

For those of you that wonder how I shave carrots and cucumber I used this handy little fixed blade Kyocera ceramic mandoline. Because this is ceramic it stays very sharp so be careful when using it. Since I make a lot of salads this little gadget gets used quite often. If you don’t have something like this I highly recommend picking one up. I find it is much easier to make salad with this. Also I can add a different texture to the veggies by slicing them very thin. You could never get the veggies this thin with a knife.

Snack one:

About two hours after lunch I was hungry again. As you all know I like to listen when my body tells me to eat I got myself some edamame from the freezer. I love to eat them things out of the pod.

Local Flooding:

I was chatting with a out of state freind and was telling her about the local flooding and took these pictures of the news so she could see what was happening here. I thought you might be interested too.

This first one is the Inner Harbor and Baltimore which is flooded. It looks very similar to these pictures I took earlier this year.

The second shot is of Annapolis which is also flooded. The sad thing is that high tide was still 6 hours away when these pictures were taken. The water front is going to be a mess tonight. Let’s just hope a certain husband doesn’t get stuck downtown since he works very close to the harbor.

Snack two:

Knowing that Dan would probably be working late, since he went in late, I grabbed another snack later in the day. This time it was an appetizer plate with the sausage and peppers dish from last night over quinoa. Again I topped it with walnut parmesan because I think that adds a lot to the dish.

Signing out:

I will talk to all again tomorrow after I finish my usual Friday errands. There may also be a little clothing shopping in my day. I haven’t decided yet but I am feeling the need to pick up a few things. Since the rain is supposed to stop around lunch time tomorrow I may have to celebrate the sun coming out with something girlie.

I hope everyone had a great week. I will talk to you again soon. I have not forgotten about the marinated mushroom recipe a few of you have asked for. As soon as I pick up some crimini or button mushrooms I will get that posted for you. I think you will all be surprised how simple it really is.  Have a great evening.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday and Tuesday

Good Morning!  I hope you are all having a great week and staying dry if you are the east coast. We are apparently in our rainy period at the moment.  The sun is shining as I type this but we are under a flood advisory later today.  I am sure the farmers would have preferred the rain earlier in the year, but better late than never I guess.  Sorry for my delay on posting about Monday and Tuesday.  Here is what I was up to:


I as mentioned in the prior post we had doctor appointments (physicals to be exact) scheduled for Tuesday this week. The looming doctor appointment had me being more cautious than usual about what I have been eating the last few weeks. Dan claims I was “studying for the test”. I tend to think of what I was doing as trying to nudge the scale in the right direction. I can’t name a single woman that goes to the doctor and enjoys getting on the scale in front of strangers. *cringe* The reason I mention this is to explain the particularly clean eating your have been seeing recently. I suspect things may ease up a bit now that the doctor visit is behind me. ;-)


For Lunch on Monday I made myself a simple salad of ½ head of romaine, ¼ of a thinly shaved cucumber, 3 diced Roma tomatoes, ¼ cup of marinated mushrooms and raw sesame seeds dressed with the Dijon, red wine vinegar and stevia dressing that I have been coveting lately.

To accompany the salad I have a big bunch of grapes. In case you hadn’t noticed I love grapes, either frozen or refrigerated. I try to buy the darkest skinned grapes possible because I have the feeling those are the highest in resveratrol, though that is only a guess on my part. If anyone knows for sure please share. Or if you have any other grape nutrition trivia that you want to share that would be great too.

After lunch I sat down with a pot of stinging nettle tea and a book for a little while. Somehow a rainy day just begs for a pot of tea and book curled up on the sofa.

Stinging Nettle Tea:

This was something that was new to me a year ago. I first bought it after reading about stinging nettle extract in “Life Over Cancer” for reducing inflammation. Controlling inflammation can reduce your risk of cancer and well as decreasing its aggressiveness once you have it. In order to keep inflammation down we try to:

• get enough sleep (this one needs more work)
• reduce our exposure to indoor air pollution
• practice moderate (not extreme) exercise
• keep a healthy ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids (ideal is reported to be between 1:1 to 1:2 with the average American being 1:20+)
• avoid high glycemic foods (particularly refined carbs like bread)
• take anti inflammatory supplements (turmeric)
• eat salicylate-rich foods (turmeric and tomatoes)
• eat flavonoid rich fruits, veggies and spices (dark berries, onions, sweet spuds, tomatoes, cayenne, ginger, oregano, rosemary, turmeric)

By now you are probably wondering how stinging nettle tea comes into the picture. According to Dr. Block (the author of Life Over Cancer) stinging nettle extract reduces inflammation. In lieu of taking yet another supplement I have been trying to add stinging nettle tea to our regular beverage rotation. We drink so much green/white tea that getting in the stinging nettle tea hasn’t been easy. I have decided to try to add it to our morning smoothies to make sure we drink it on a somewhat regular basis. On days when we don’t have smoothies my plan is to make a pot of stinging nettle tea before bed.

What does it taste like? I brew ½ tablespoon in 2 ½ cups of hot water and the flavor is very mild. It reminded me somewhat of a very light licorice flavor. The taste is not assertive enough to be offensive, in my opinion.

I have not found any potential problems in the literature with consuming stinging nettle tea in moderation. If any of you drink stinging nettle tea or know of any other things it is good for please feel free to share.


Waiting to Dan to come home from work I got a little hungry and had a small bowl of garlic and herb marinated mushrooms to tide me over. Since I love acidic food anything marinated always works for me. It doesn’t hurt that mushrooms have been shown to have antiproliferative properties. The literature seems to be divided over whether the type of mushroom makes a difference or not. I try to make certain we get a mix to different mushrooms to cover all the possibilities.


Since Dan worked late Monday night I opted for a simple salad for dinner. This was similar to the lunch salad except it also contained the last few red lentil and millet bites from the freezer. As I am not out of bean balls (falafel and otherwise) in the freezer it is time for me to get busy and replenish my freezer inventory before we starve. ;-) As you probably noticed I rely on my freezer inventory to get quick healthy meals on the table.


Being a female, and not wanting the scale at the doctor’s to be any higher than absolutely necessary I decided to skip breakfast and take a snack with me to the doctor’s office. Does anyone else do this or I am I the only one that is this ridiculous? My husband just shakes his head when I do things like this.

Of course I did make Dan breakfast this morning. He had a big bowl of oatmeal with the no sugar apple butter and walnuts for his breakfast.

Our doctor appointments were 11:40 and noon on Tuesday. As expected the doctor was running behind schedule. Why does this always happen? At one point there were four of us in the waiting room (for one doctor). The sad part was that four people were all playing with their smart phones and no one was talking to anyone else. What will society look like in another 10 years? *shakes head*

We finally were taken back to the exam room at 12:30 almost an hour after our scheduled first appointment. *rolls eyes* On the way to the exam room we made a stop at the dreaded scale. How is that I had no breakfast, no beverage and still managed to weigh 6 pounds more at the doctor’s office than I did at home 5 hours earlier? That is just not right! *stomps foot* ;-) I know, quit whining it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was annoying, at least to me.

When we got to the exam room I grabbed the snack from my purse because by then I was really hungry. I had packed 12 walnut halves and 2 dried pear halves to hold me over until I got home. Surprisingly that was enough to take the edge off my hunger. I was glad I had filled my travel coffee mug with iced water to wash it down though.

All went well with the physical. My heart sounded good and the EKG was excellent, both great to hear. My blood pressure was a bit high for me 108/78, but considering the frustrating drive on the expressway to the doctor I didn’t think it was bad. Since the doctor was pleased with the BP reading I guess I should be too.

We spent some time talking diet/nutrition and discussing blood work results and deciding what tests to run next time. While I don’t like the long wait at the doctor’s office I do like that our internist is very open to our diet and seems to stay current on the impact of nutrition on health. For us that makes the inconvenience of waiting acceptable. Everything in life is a trade-off right?

While I don’t like to get a flu shot I did it this year since my parents are in their 80’s and I don’t want to catch anything and pass it to them or Dan. When I worked in hospitals it was mandated that all the employees get vaccinated so that we didn’t transmit the flu to the patients whose immunity was certainly compromised if only from the stress of being in the hospital or from surgery itself. I mention this so that you can consider it when your doctor asks you if you want the flu shot this year. I got mine for those I love.

After the doctor appointment I decided some retail therapy was in order to take my mind off the fact that my left upper arm was a sore from the flu shot. I really hate needles and I think this causes me to tense up before shots making the after effects worse than they would normally be. Sometimes I am seriously a big baby.


I picked up some great stuff shopping. I stopped at the Marshall’s close to the doctor to see if I could find more things from Talbot’s. As luck would have it I found a pair of chinos, a nice pair of off white fully lined dress pants and black pencil skirt, all from Talbot’s and all $16.99 each. Score! I was practically doing the happy dance again. I also found a pair of organic cotton yoga pants on clearance for $10.

A flowing black tunic with white scroll work that was only $24.99 was my wild purchase for the day. Most of my clothing choices are best described as classic in nature, think solid colors and an lot of black and beige, but I also like an occasional funky piece like this tunic. However this top is a bit bold so I will only wear it with slim black pants and simple jewelry so my overall look doesn’t get too “loud” if you know what I mean. ;-)

You already know that found a 10 pound kettle bell for $9.99. At that price I couldn’t resist picking it up to add to my home gym. It is always nice to have something new to play around with. It also came with a print out of exercise you can do with the kettle ball. However there weren’t many ideas so I will be looking for a video at the library or on Netflix to get more use from this.  Do you have a favorite kettle bell DVD?

I also bought a few pieces of Murano glass low flat bowls and at ridiculously cheap prices, $12.99, $9.99 and $7.99. Since I love Murano glass those had to come home with me to add to my other Italian pieces.

While I enjoy shopping my favorite part is getting good deals. I am not fond of paying full price unless it is absolutely necessary. The three pieces of clothing I bought today with Talbots labels were collectively marked original at $258.50 and I paid $50.97. At full price they were nice pieces (well made) and worth the price but at less than 20% of original price they are a bargain. But why pay full price when you don’t have to, that is my shopping theory.

Late Lunch:

When I got home from the doctor’s office it was late which meant I was hungry. But I knew we were having dinner with friends so I also didn’t want to ruin my appetite. I had a half a baked sweet potato in the refrigerator and topped that with leftover mushroom dahl.

To go with the dahl I had another bunch of grapes.


Tuesday night we had dinner with our friends Walid, Jackie and Walid’s mom Nadia. Walid’s mom is still here from Cairo and she is such a nice lady it is always great to see her. Thankfully we have Walid to translate since we speak no Arabic and Nadia only speaks a little English. It is funny how you can read so much about a person from their face and body language. Nadia is always smiling and laughing and just a pleasure to be around. The first thing she did was to give both me and Dan and hug and tell us how happy she was to see us.

I wore my new black top with the white scroll work and got quite a few compliments tonight. Apparently it was a good purchase, LOL. Walid told me it reminded him of Morocco. Jackie liked it so much she, Nadia and I are going to a different Marshall’s on Thursday to see what we can find there. Jackie and Nadia both like to shop so it should be a lot of fun and possibly a little dangerous unless tropical depression 16 washes our shopping plans down the drain that is.

Dinner was a simple salad of mixed baby greens with granny smith apple, roasted beet, and chopped walnut with raspberry vinaigrette. I was so busy talking I forgot to photograph it. How long have I been doing this? Don’t answer that, LOL.

Then we ordered the Szechuan Tofu for others to try. Walid doesn’t like tofu but liked this. Nadia tried the tofu (her first) and said it was good. I know it is silly but I like to show my omni friends that tofu is nothing to be avoided. In my mind every meatless meal anyone eats is a good thing.

Of course our main dish was a whole wheat pizza this time topped with hummus, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, roasted beets, thinly sliced red onion, olives and fresh dill. It was delicious but by the time we got to the pizza we were getting full.

The only sad note to dinner was it was Ian’s night off so I had to have my dinner without my customary hug from the chef. Dinner without a hug from the chef is just not the same. ;-)

Signing out:

That catches you up on Monday and Tuesday. I hope to have a little time to spend in the kitchen today (Wednesday). I do have a few errands to run today but hope to knock those out quickly so I can make some progress on my at home to-do list. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brief Update

Sorry for going AWOL on you. I have been crazy busy for the last two days and spent a lot of today sitting in the doctor’s office or his waiting room. Everything went well, other than the flu shot that has my upper arm aching. My blood pressure was a very respectable 108/78 which is not bad given my advanced age ;-) and the stress of crazy highway driving to get to the doctor.

After the doctor I spent a little time taking part in some retail therapy so I feel much better now, LOL. I picked up some great bargains and you know that means clothes and a new exercise toy.

Hint, hint. LOL ;-)

I will fill you in on the food you missed and the fun deals I found shopping as soon as I can, either late tonight or tomorrow morning. We are having dinner with friends tonight which means I need to go so I can make myself presentable. Talk to you soon. :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Red Wine Barley Risotto and No Sugar Apple Butter

After breakfast Dan decided to head to his home office on the third floor and try to catch up on some paperwork. Before he headed upstairs we talked more about lunch. I liked his idea to use barley but I really wasn’t in the mood for barley soup. I suggested barley in the risotto style and he thought that sounded good. I used to make a red wine risotto so I decided to make that with barley for lunch. Since we also have fresh criminis and shitakes I thought they would be good on top of the barley. With the cooler temperatures I also though red cabbage would be good plus it gets another blue/purple veggies serving into us. Here is what I made today:

Red Wine Barley in the Risotto Style Topped with Mushrooms and Red Cabbage
Serves 4

Barley Ingredients:

½ red onion, finely minced
½ cup water to sauté the onion
1 ½ cups hulled barley
750ml bottle good red wine (I used an Amarone a northern Italian raisinated wine)
water necessary to fully cook barley (will be added slowly see instructions)
½ tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
black pepper to taste

Topping Ingredients:

½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup of water to sauté onions
½ pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound fresh shitake caps, thinly sliced (save stems in the freezer for mushroom stock)
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
½ tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup walnuts + ½ cup water processed in a blender until completely smooth
½ tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in ½ tablespoon of water

Garnish ingredients:

1 tablespoons chives, finely minced
2 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped


Sauté the onion in water until it is starting to get tender, about 3 minutes, add the barley and ¼ of the bottle of red wine. Stir to coat all the barley with the wine and cook over medium heat until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the rosemary and more wine and continue to cook. You will need to add all the wine plus more water to cook the barley until it is tender. This will take about 45 minutes. Before serving taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

For the topping water sauté the onions for 3 minutes then add the mushrooms, cabbage, rosemary and pureed walnuts. When the cabbage is lightly wilted add the arrowroot slurry. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste.

To serve top the barley with the mushroom topping and finish with chopped walnuts and chives. I considered topping this dish with a lightly dressed herb salad but changed to chives since fresh herbs are something that my mother tends to pick out of food. Before you ask I have no idea why she does that. Just another thing I need to be mindful of when cooking for her.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 618.83 **
Calories From Fat (18%) - 111.4

Total Fat - 13.3g
Saturated Fat - 1.38g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 40.73mg
Potassium - 1178.97mg
Total Carbohydrates - 81.27g **
Fiber - 18.01g
Sugar - 4.38g
Protein - 14.61g

** The total calories in this dish was overstated by the alcohol which was burned off during cooking. Since there is controversy on how much remains I left all the alcohol in the numbers above knowing it was too high.


Dan and I both really enjoyed this. The dish has a complex flavor that is dependent on the wine. This dish is very easy to make but you must use a wine you would drink by the glass. Cooking concentrates the flavor of the wine so only use one you love. We are big fans of red Italian wine which is why I used Amarone. Always taste the wine before you cook with it. If the wine has faults by the glass those will be more pronounced once you cook it and concentrate the flavor. From experience I can tell you that using bad wine will ruin a dish.

To accompany the risotto we also had a quick salad of romaine, thinly shaved carrot, cucumber and radish and diced tomato. I dressed this with the Dijon, red wine vinegar and stevia I mentioned yesterday. Sorry, I still didn’t measure anything for the dressing again today.


Dinner tonight was a big salad very similar to the one we had with lunch, only twice the size. Dan also had a bowl of leftover mushroom dahl from last night since he needed the calories. Eating more like me yesterday he dropped two pounds when he got on the scale this morning. *shakes head* Wouldn’t it be nice to lose weight as quickly as men seem to be able to, not that I will ever know. ;-)

About 45 minutes after the salad and dahl Dan wanted to have a big bowl of strawberry banana soft serve. As you can tell he loves that stuff. I had about ¼ cup of it which I did not photograph.


Since it is a weekday we are back to the grind first thing this morning. It is tough to get moving when it is dark and raining when you wake up. Like usual I was making fresh veggie and fruit juice for Dan to take to work with his lunch.

Due to the cold rainy weather this morning we decided a hot bowl of oatmeal was particularly appealing. The oatmeal this morning was topped with my homemade no sugar apple butter. This is a great use for the apple butter I think.

Making apple butter is more of a method than a recipe. I took 8 apples which I cored (but did not peel) and cut into chunks. I put the chunks in the Vitamix with the juice of one lemon (which is optional you could use water or white wine). Process everything until it is completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a low flat pan and cook over low heat, stirring often to make certain it doesn’t burn. Add any seasonings you like to taste. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and vanilla. Mine cooked for about 45 minutes in an enameled cast iron pan until it was thick and brown. In the past I would have added sugar or agave but we are so accustomed to food with sweetener now that the concentrated fruit was sweet enough.

Signing out for now:

I need to get moving this morning and stop lounging around. Monday is normally busy at my house catching up from all my relaxing on the weekend. However the cool weather and rain just makes me want to curl up on the sofa with a fuzzy throw and a book. Sort of like Nicco just add a book. He is on top of a micro fleece throw I picked up last week at Costco. They are very soft and machine washable if anyone is looking for a fuzzy throw, they are feline approved as you can tell.

Talk to you all again soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Farmers' Market and Pics of Downtown Baltimore

Farmers’ Market morning:

Like usual we were up at 6am to head to the farmers’ market to load up on fresh produce. But unlike usual it was dark when we left the house at 6:30am. There really is something not quite right about leaving the house in the dark to grocery shop. ;-)

When we got to the market Rudy (Cat’s Paw Organic) had already unloaded his truck and had things set up. That gave us more time to chat about the book he is writing, which I can’t wait to read. We talked about that a little while I shopped for produce. From him we got: 6 beets, 6 cucumbers, pint of French breakfast radishes, 2 bags of baby arugula and a quart of green beans. Rudy will be having a winter CSA that I am anxious to take part in since it will be a lot of dark leafy greens and root veggies, my favorites. If you are interested he has paperwork at the market on Sunday. He is going to deliver to the market area in the winter if we get enough people participating.

Next we stopped to talk to Pam at our CSA (Calvert Farm) when she mentioned that she had been spending a lot of time reading my blog. Dan said I was beaming like a proud blog momma. If you are reading this Pam you absolutely made my morning. :-) Pam commented that they way we eat without oil is like the hunter/gatherers used to eat. I had not thought about that but she has a good point. We talked a little about why I don’t use oil and the impact oil has on the endothelial cells. I was in nutrition heaven this morning. This is the last week for the summer CSA with Pam so we signed up for the fall round which starts next week. If you are interested bring your check book to the market next week.  From Pam we picked up: 3 bunches of kale (love those green smoothies), 2 pounds of leeks, 1 pound of fresh shitakes, package of concord grapes (the smell was intoxicating), and a bunch of cilantro. Next week I will need to load up on fresh ginger again.

Then we stopped and bought another 25 pound box of tomatoes to use for salad and to dehydrate for the winter. While we were at the market we also picked up cabbage, cucumbers and bell peppers for my folks. We get a market list from them every Saturday.

On the way back from the market we swung by downtown to take a few quick architecture pictures. The farmers’ market is only a couple of blocks away.

Here is a picture of one of my hubby’s favorite old buildings.

The top of the building is particularly ornate and interesting.

This is a shot of the statuary on the building where Dan's office is located.

Here is the Midtown Yacht Club which is a restaurant and bar where Dan and I spent too many lunches back in the day. We haven’t been in years but it was a fun place that had peanuts that you were supposed to toss the shells on the floor. It used to have typical pub food but I have no idea what they serve now.

This is a shot of typical street in downtown with row houses/brown stones lining the streets. I thought this might give those of you in the middle of the country an idea of city life.

Here is an old house that was turned into apts. I love the widows walk on the top.

I hope you enjoyed the brief tour of downtown from this morning. I will try to do more of this since everyone seems to like these types of pictures.


When we got home from the market we decided smoothies sounded like the way to go. My smoothie had 1 ½ kale leaves and stems shredded, 1 ½ collard leaves and stems shredded, 1 frozen banana, ½ cup wild blueberries, 6 walnut halves, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger and water to process. Since I didn’t start the cold processed green tea before we left for the market I had to use water.

Dan’s smoothie was almost the same as mine except he had a handful of walnuts in his for more calories.

After our smoothies I made a small pot of roasted barley tea to share with Dan. It satisfied my desire to smell coffee without resorting to the espresso machine. Hopefully I stick to my guns and avoid that temptress (the espresso machine) today.


It is a cool rainy morning here today so we may end up making a big pot of soup. Dan just mentioned barley soup would be good. Unless Dan changes his mind barley soup may be lunch with my folks today. I will keep you posted.

Since this post already has a few pictures I am going to post now so it does not slow down the loading time much. I will be back later with a lunch and dinner update. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. Talk to you all again soon. ;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mixed Mushroom Dahl and 2 Movies Today

I love sleeping in on Saturday morning. It is the only day we get up when are bodies naturally want to wake up and it makes for a much nicer start to the day.

Guess who had another double shot of espresso this morning? Yep, it was me. I need to get a handle on this immediately. Having a machine at home that you press a button and espresso arrives magically is not good when you love the stuff like I do. I am a bit disappointed that I had a double shot of espresso two days in a row. My goal is to go back to avoiding the stuff. We will see if I can do it. I will report in if I fall off the wagon again. *rolls eyes*


This morning Dan had a smoothie made with: 2 tablespoons oats (grind into a powder first if not using a high speed blender), 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 2 kale leaves and stems, 2 collard leaves and stems, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger and water to process. I would have used cold processed green tea but I didn’t wake up early enough to make it before breakfast.

My breakfast, other than the double shot of espresso, consisted of nothing more than 4 large glasses of iced water with lemon slices and cucumber. After my espresso this morning I decided I needed to encourage my body to eliminate the caffeine. Clearly this vicious cycle needs to stop before it gets out of hand like prior times in my life.


As usual we had my parents over for a late mid day meal. I had no idea what I was going to make for since cooking for my unhealthy omni parents is always a bit of a challenge. I ended up making my variation of mixed mushroom dahl over brown basmati rice. Here is what I did:

Mixed Mushroom Dahl
Serves 8


2 cups moong dahl (split mung beans)
8 cups water or no salt veggie stock
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 ¾ teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds (crush in your hands before adding)
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 red onion, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
3 carrots, finely diced
14 ounces reduced fat organic coconut milk
1 poblano pepper, finely minced (use a jalapeno or serrano if everyone at the table likes heat)
½ pound fresh criminis, thinly sliced
¼ pound fresh shitake stems, thinly sliced
4 diced Roma tomatoes, for garnish
cooked brown rice to serve under the dahl (I cooked 1 ½ cups brown basmati)


Combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes and rice and simmer until the beans are tender. If desired you can use a little cornstarch to thicken the soup. Just before serving add the diced tomatoes so that they can heat through. Serve on top of the cooked rice.

Nutritional Information (includes the brown rice):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 394.51
Calories From Fat (12%)-  48.39

Total Fat - 5.21g
Saturated Fat - 2.94g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 48.29mg
Potassium - 1199.5mg
Total Carbohydrates - 70.65g
Fiber - 12.65g
Sugar - 8.11g
Protein - 17.77g


Three of the four of us loved this. Oddly my parents didn’t even add salt which was quite the shock. No surprise my mother thought this was entirely too hot even though we thought the heat level was mild. If you like heat add more red pepper flakes or use a hotter fresh pepper. If my mother is any indication this is too hot for children or the elderly. *rolls eyes*

To go with the dahl I made a quick salad. The best part of the salad was the dressing which I put together quickly and without measuring. Sorry about that I was running behind schedule.  It was a very simple dressing of Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and stevia. This took my under a minute to make and it reminded me of honey mustard only without the honey and its resulting increase in serum blood glucose. This dressing will be happening at my house often from now on.


We opted for a quick salad tonight for dinner after we finished watching our second movie of the day. Since we weren’t exactly active today we thought something on the light side was in order. This salad, which we shared contained: 1 head of romaine, 1 cucumber, 2 carrots, 4 Roma tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of cashew crème fraiche and ½ avocado.

For dessert I made an extra big batch of strawberry banana soft serve in the Vitamix. These measurements are approximate but should be close: 1 handful walnuts, 3 frozen bananas, 2’ish cups frozen strawberries, ½ teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon powdered ginger and about a cup of water to process. If you still use sweeteners you may want to add a little stevia to the mixture. The Vitamix turns that into a delicious thick frozen dessert that my husband is addicted to. Tonight I had a little of the soft serve with him (about 1/4th of the total) since I had not had much to eat today.

Movies today:

Dan picked the movies today and I didn’t pay a lot of attention. The first one was “From Paris with Love” with John Travolta. It was definitely an action movie which means it was not my thing. The second movie was “Knowing” with Nicholas Cage. I would describe it as a mystery, sci fi sort of thing. It was okay, better than the first movie but not something I would have chosen to watch. As you can tell Dan and I have very different tastes in movies.

Signing out:

Tomorrow is the farmers’ market which means an early morning for us. I hope everyone had a great Saturday and stayed cool in the unseasonably hot weather we had on the east coast today. Things are supposed to cool off tonight and tomorrow at least. Rumor has it we go back to fall tomorrow. I hope the weathermen are right this time. Talk to you tomorrow. :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Friday and a Stuffed Sweet Potato

Happy Friday! I am so glad today is Friday, woo hoo. It has been a long week and I have not been as productive as I should have been. Spending two days relaxing with my hubby is just what the doctor ordered. Now if I just need to convince Dan to relax and we will be all set.

In spite of getting almost 8 hours of sleep last night today started slowly for me, it must have been the weather. Getting up to a weather forecast of 95 degrees is no way to start a fall day. *shakes head* Since it was almost 80 with 80% humidity early today the AC went back on line. I will be so happy when I can turn that off for the winter.

I finally realized why I was feeling so sluggish and not myself yesterday. In addition to a general lack of sleep my GI system was not itself due to the rich food which we don’t normally eat. I decided to do something that I have avoided for the last two years. Yes, I made myself a double shot of espresso this morning to get everything moving. My first sip was not what I expected it tasted burnt and not particularly enjoyable. However by sip two and three I was back into the espresso groove. Somehow I managed to not make myself a second double shot, though I have no idea where that will power came from. ;-) For those of you that don’t know I am a recovering espresso addict (who owns an Italian semi-auto espresso machine) and have been known to drink 8 double shots in a day. That was when I knew I had a serious problem and gave it up. My body is no longer accustomed to the caffeine hit so I was wired not long after I had the espresso. Funny I used to drink 2 double shots each morning and felt nothing. I guess it is a good sign that my body isn’t used to it any more.

Oh the positive news front the mysterious 2.4 vanished this morning just as it arrived. All is right with the universe now, LOL. Thank goodness it was just water retention. ;-)

After my caffeine jolt I was ready to exercise. Gee I wonder why? LOL! Once that was knocked out it was time for breakfast.


Today’s smoothie consisted of: 1 frozen banana, 2 kale leaves/stems, 1 collard leaf/stem, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 ½ cups cold processed green tea, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, 1 small chunk (about ½ tablespoon) fresh ginger root, stevia to taste if necessary. Process the smoothie until everything is smooth.

Why Frozen Bananas in the smoothies:

I get a lot of questions about why I use frozen bananas in my smoothies so I wanted to address that question here for everyone. I take overripe bananas, like those pictured above, peel them and freeze them in a zip top freezer bag. By having the bananas a little overripe the natural sugars develop more so that maybe you can go without any added sweetener. I try to limit our use of all of them, even stevia. Also because the bananas are frozen they will chill the smoothie without needing to add ice which dilutes the overall flavor of the drink. I hope that makes sense as to why I always use frozen bananas. There is an added benefit for my hubby; they are always around when he wants a quick dessert. ;-)

Since today is Friday it was errand day for me. :-p Like usual I checked in my aging parents and did a little light housekeeping while I was there, vacuuming, dusting and straightening. I suppose when I reach 80 I won’t really feel like dragging out the vacuum or cleaning either. ;-) But since I didn’t have kids I guess a maid service will need to be in my future.

I also had a few stops to make on foot and got those out of the way early since it was getting warmer by the minute. What happened to fall again?

Before Dan left for work this morning I asked what he wanted for dinner tonight and got the usual reply, “I don’t know”. Like always we went down the same path, “How about a cuisine, or even a continent, any particular protein sound good to you?” Each question got the same reply, “Anything you want to make would be wonderful.” I adore my husband but it would be nice if he could help with dinner ideas occasionally. Now I know why my chef friend Ian says coming up with daily specials is hard work. I have the same problem and it is just one dinner. *rolls eyes* Needless to say as I am typing this I have no idea what is for dinner tonight. *sigh*

I had to share this picture with you of our baby (Nicco, aka Binky). Could he look any lazier? My felines never seem to have a care in the world. I just love our three little fur babies. They bring so much life and love to our home. Okay the life is only when they are awake but you get the idea.

Email responses:

I want to apologize to everyone that I owe an email response to. My blog email is starting to overwhelm me a little. Being off line for a day and half this week buried me in email. I am trying to resist putting an auto reply on my email but now I know why other bloggers do it. Please know I will get to your email it may just take me a while. I am very sorry for the delay in my responses.

The colors on your plate:

Do you ever look at your plate and think wow everything is white, beige or brown? Mine used to look like that. Unless the white is cauliflower and the brown mushrooms odds are you need more veggies and less white, beige and brown food. Antioxidants are found in much larger quantities in veggies and fruit than in grains or mock meat products. Additionally different colored items seem to have similar antioxidant profiles. Think of tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon all containing lycopene or carrots and sweet potatoes with their beta carotene. Instead of trying to memorize what antioxidant is in what food I simply make sure that we eat the rainbow every day. The only tough color to eat daily is the blue/purple group. For this I use frozen wild blueberries, beets or red cabbage. I find it much easier to concentrate various colors rather than the individual antioxidants. We add different colored produce into smoothies, soup and salad. Also I take every opportunity to add veggies to our meal anyplace that it makes sense. Hard to believe I was ever a veggie hater isn’t it? But it is true I didn’t always like veggies let alone love them. ;-)


My smoothie was so filling (though I don’t know why) it took me a while to get hungry for lunch. I opted for a simple salad. Don’t I always? LOL! Salads are great because you can get in a lot of veggie servings without many calories or fat.

This salad contained: ½ head of romaine, a couple of diced Roma tomatoes, ¼ thinly sliced cucumber, ¼ thinly sliced carrots, marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers. I added a dollop of cheezy white bean dip and a few raw pumpkin seeds and I had one very tasty salad for lunch.

Mid day meal/snack:

Later in the afternoon I had leftover the tempeh and veggies in tomato cashew curry over brown rice from last night. This held my hunger at bay until Dan came home from work around 8pm. Being on the road for work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday meant he had a long day today which will turn into a long weekend I just found out. *sigh*


For some reason I was in the mood for a baked sweet potato today. Or rather I should say a microwaved sweet potato because I was not turning on the oven with the AC running. Since it was an enormous spud (about a pound) we split it. I topped it with: cooked white beans (no salt), marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, cashew crème fraiche, avocado slices and fresh diced tomatoes. The entire meal took less than 10 minutes and it was delicious. The benefit of keeping things like marinated mushrooms and beans on hand is the rest of the meal is a snap. This would have been equally good with sauerkraut in place of the marinated mushrooms and sriracha added to the crème fraiche.

Signing out:

It is time for me to some time with my sweetie. I will talk to you again tomorrow. I hope you are having a great Friday evening.

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