Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This will make you younger!

OK, not really. But it's really healthy. And pretty good. And really healthy. Wait, did I already say that?

Out of curiosity I picked up a book about this new trend that I've been hearing about - calorie restriction as a way to live longer and healthier.

They pack highly nutritious meals into low calorie packages. And eat less. And supposedly it helps you live longer. Sounds good to me. Not that I would ever be able to eat a low calorie diet, let alone count my calories. But I do like the idea of packing more nutrients into my meals. And eating less calories. Just not losing a large chunk of my body fat (a little would be nice but we all know if I lost too much body fat I'd be concave. You know where.) So anyways, back to the nutrition part. There are recipes in the back of the book that don't sound too bad so here is the first. Sydney AND Tim both gave it 2 thumbs up. Sam, well... do I even need to give you a hint? I didn't think so. Sigh. She ate cheese.

This is enough for 8 people. I made it thinking that it would be enough for 4 people since it's supposed to be for calorie restriction, but apparently they eat big dinners and tiny meals the rest of the day because I had plenty left over to freeze for another night!

Manicotti (from the Anti-Aging Plan)

1 large sweet potato, cooked and peeled
8 oz. low fat or nonfat ricotta cheese
3 scallions, whites only, chopped (I used a diced sauted leek)
2 tblsp. Fresh parsley, chopped
Olive or canola oil cooking spray
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 can (25 oz) peeled tomatoes, drained
1 can (24 oz) tomato sauce
8 oz. ground turkey or firm tofu, minced (I don't put either)
Half of a six ounce can tomato paste
3 sheets (8 x 5) nori - broken up and crumbled in
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
8 oz. fresh shitake mushroom (I used portabellas) chopped
2 tbsp. wheat germ
1 oz. bran flakes
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ lbs. manicotti or lasagne noodles
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a large nonstick skillet with oil. Over medium heat, stir 3 cloves of garlic until it begins to brown. Add the onion, celery, carrots,. Add ¼ cup of the peeled tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are barely soft. Remove from the heat and save in large pot.

Return the skillet to the stove and brown the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Reduce the heat and add the turkey or tofu. Stir while the turkey browns, breaking up the clumps. Mix the turkey/tofu in with the vegetables, along with the remaining tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and nori.
Spray the skillet with more oil and return to heat. Add the soy sauce and mushrooms and stir fry until the mushrooms are soft and chewy. Add to the vegetable and sauce and heat over medium heat until barely boiling.

Add the wheat germ, bran flakes, herbs, and salt and pepper to the sauce. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, then rinse under cold water.
Mash the sweet potato in a food processor. Add the ricotta cheese and blend until velvety smooth. Mix in the scallions (or sauted leek) and parsley. Set aside.

Spray a large baking dish with canola oil. Spread a large spoonful of sauce over the bottom of the pan. If you are using manicotti noodles, stuff each noodle with the filling and arrange in the baking dish. Pour sauce over all. If you are using lasagne noodles, layer half of the noodles, all of the filling, then the remaining noodles, and spread the sauce evenly over all. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Calories per serving (with turkey): 623. Percent of calories from fat: 13%, protein: 20%, carbs: 66%, 35 mg. cholesterol.
Nutritional profile (% of RDA) per serving: Vit. A: 220/ Vit. C: 328/ Vit. D: 30/ Vit. E: 46/ Vit. K: 425/ Thiamine: 69/ Riboflavin: 53/ Niacin: 53/ Vit. B6: 121/ Folacin: 61/ Vit. B12: 64/ Pantothenic Acid: 83/ Biotin: 16/ Calcium: 28/ Phosphorus: 61/ Magnesium: 59/ Potassium: 137/ Sodium: 24/ Iron: 58/ Copper: 17/ Manganese: 28/ Zinc: 81/ Selenium: 105/ Chromium: 95

Chicken Pot Pie without the chicken.....

Oh how I've missed you. This is definitely one I'll make again. I'm thinking that there are a few changes that I will try next time. I'm not big on cauliflower, so I thought I'd try it with broccoli and add some peas next time. And you definitely want to roll the dough thin. I couldn't find the rolling pin so mine came out thick. The crust is more like a biscuit than a crust. Good stuff though! Sydney and Tim loved it. It's a given that Sam will hate it if it's not from a box or - well - anything tasty. :-) She's a work in progress. Thanks to Isa from Veganomicon. Although, mine was not vegan.

Cauliflower & Mushroom Pot Pie with Black Olive Crust

For the Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

For the Veggies
1 pound cauliflower, trimmed, washed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon white wine or sherry vinegar

For the Black Olive Biscuit Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of dried thyme
3 tablespoons butter, chilled
4-5 tablespoon ice water
1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped

Oven preheated to 375

A Dutch oven is a handy for this recipe, if you have one. If not, any heavy-bottomed pot will do.
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and make your roux by melting the butter adding in the flour. Stir the mixture until it is the consistency of a thick paste, and cook for about 5 minutes until it is browned and bubbling. Remove the pot from the heat for a moment and slowly add in the milk, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the herbs, mustard powder, salt and the bay leaf. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly for about 10 minutes until it thickens into a nice sauce. Remove the bay leaf and correct the seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oil in your Dutch oven over medium and sauté the leeks and carrots for around 8 minutes, until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and vinegar and continue to cook for another 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower, partially cover the pot and allow the veggies to steam for a final 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the crust:
Sift the dry ingredients together, and cut the cold butter into the mixture until it is crumbly. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and mix. You may add additional tablespoons of water in one at a time until it comes together as a soft dough. Fold in the olives.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and roll it out into a circle a bit smaller than your dutch oven. Cut the dough into sections.

Bring it all together:
Whisk the sauce to get rid of any skin that has formed and pour it over the veggie mixture. Stir so that everything is coated and arrange your dough pieces on top. Brush with milk. Bake for 35 minutes until the veggies are tender and the dough is cooked. Allow to rest for a few minutes before digging in. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Self reflection time....

I've been feeling really bad about myself lately. I know I've gained a few inches around the middle - those love handles are definitely easier to grip, and I haven't worked out since we were in Maui TWO YEARS AGO (I was in the best shape ever then - between the new vegan diet and the daily dose of yoga). Not to mention the fact that I'm closer to 40 than 30, which means my metabolism that I've been so blessed with my entire life is starting to turn it's back on me. Factor all that in along with two babies (one of which was a giant - thanks to daily 7-11 slurpies) and I have definitely lost my flat tummy. Sigh. But the past year my body image has taken a slam. Mostly brought on my me. I've been hard on myself - completely over critical. When I look in the mirror I see something completely different than what other people most likely see. Who knows what my husband sees because he no longer disagrees with me when I complain about my body. Most likely because he's tired of hearing it. That's what I'm telling myself, anyways.

I try really hard not to make any comments in front of my girls because I don't want them to turn this on themselves. I try to teach them to eat healthy for the benefit of their health and immune system. That they are worthy and should express that by being health conscious, yet not to obsess over it. But yet, I wonder if they are picking up on my bad attitude about myself. I am trying to raise confident, strong women yet that doesn't describe me lately. How can I pass that on to these wonderful little girls if I'm not living it myself?

This reflection was brought on by a picture that my four year old took of me last week. When I uploaded it - I just stared at the picture. I kept thinking - is this really how I look? Why am I being so hard on myself? I am thin. Why don't I see that when I look in the mirror? Stupid fashion magazines. And damn me for letting myself feel like this. So where do I go from here? How do I break the cycle? Every weekend I make a promise to myself that I am going to eat really healthy and work out - starting Monday. And every Monday comes and goes with out disturbing the dust on my elliptical. I know that I need to work out - even if I'm not as out of shape as I've convinced my brain. I know that lifting weight is vital and necessary as I get older. But I can't seem to find the inspiration. I keep hinting to Tim that a trip to Hawaii will definitely inspire me. But that's not going to happen (this year, anyways) and I'd probably end up dropping it as soon as the trip happens again anyways. I need to find inspiration to do it for myself. So this is my reminder, a pledge to myself. To find balance in my self image, and to find inspiration to get myself strong and healthy again. But the challenge is to do it in that order. Can I find myself without having hard abs? :-) I'll let you know. Oh - and here's the picture (along with a few other gems she took that day).

Craft time...

We made a craft run to Michael's yesterday and found this great idea. They are paper doll shapes cut out of particle board that we painted with black chalkboard paint. We cut out dresses from some great scrapbooking paper and attached them with sticky back velcro so we can change them when they get bored (or ruined). The girls had a blast coloring in their faces, jewelry, and shoes. Giant paper dolls will never get old!! Definitely worth the $7.00 each for the cutout, and $7.00 for the paint. The paint also comes in white, pink, and blue.

The following are great words from Jimmy Carter. In this day and age it's sad that these things even need to be said. Women are equal to men. Got it boys? The bible also says we should stone people for lots of really lame reasons, but I'm pretty sure that it's against the law. So tell me again, why is it legal to keep women from becoming ordained in some religions? Sexism at it's worst in the name of God. I know there are a lot of positive lessons in the bible, but there are also some really (really) bad ones. A lot of it is disregarded as being from a different time. Why isn't this one as well? I can think of a few others that I'd like to take a sharpie too, but that's for another rant.


"Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views."

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This is GOOD stuff. And EASY. And very CHEESY. And not the least bit vegan. Not sure where I found this one, but I'm glad I tried it. Sydney and Tim both liked it. And Sam liked it one bite, but not the next. It's a start... It was also good for breakfast!! (I'm not too sure about the nutritional facts at the end. There's an awful lot of cheese for less than 400 calories.)

Chile Relleno Casserole

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Ready In: 1 Hour
Servings: 6

2 (7 ounce) cans whole green chile peppers, drained & diced
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs, beaten
1 (5 oz. ounce) can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ can green enchilada sauce (the small can)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 8x8-inch baking dish w/ cooking spray.
2. Lay half of the chilies evenly in bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the Cheddar cheeses, and cover w/ remaining chilies. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and flour, and pour over the top of the chilies.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, pour enchilada sauce evenly over the top, and continue baking another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheeses, and serve.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Calories: 387

Amount Per Serving (not accurate because I halved the cheese and added an egg and changed from tomato sauce to enchilada)
* Total Fat: 27.6g
* Cholesterol: 148mg
* Sodium: 1449mg
* Total Carbs: 12g
* Dietary Fiber: 1.4g
* Protein: 23.9g

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