Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garden harvest, and Audrey's party.

I pulled in my garden's harvest yesterday, and I was so pleased. We really got a good stand of carrots, beets, and onions. I did the tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and potatoes a couple of weeks ago, but I was putting off bringing these guys in. They say to wait until the onion tops fall over to bring them in, but they never did, and I was worried they would freeze. I'm hoping they will be OK. It's going to be hard waiting for them to dry out in our garage though. Peeeuw. Maybe I can move them outside on warm days, and back in at night? Anyone done this before?

Lots of beets. I'm excited. I did a variety pack of seeds, so there are golden beets, and the candy striped ones, they should be really pretty roasted. I love beets. Remember the beet cake I made for my harvest dinner a couple of years ago? Beats (ha! no pun intended) carrot cake all hollow.

Bonus --beet greens! should make nice "Cullen Juice" --you know, with the red stems it will make my morning smoothies all bloody looking.... muuhaaahaha!
Look at all of these carrots! It really seemed like we weren't getting carrots this year because they took so long to come up, but when they came they brought all of their friends! It was really nice to have the raised beds this year. For the first time, I had carrots that weren't all twisty and mangled looking.

After I brought everything in, i had to finish my costume for Audrey's party. "Party of the year". Every year someone in our neighborhood hosts a party, and Audrey and Kris did themselves proud. They even had crafts and a pinata for the kids. ...and EVERYONE dressed up! People really get into their costumes around here and I love it.

Here's Audrey and baby Leia, and Lisa. Audrey's whole family dressed up together as Star Wars. I wanted Jeff to dress to match me, but.... you'll see why he didn't.

All the girls were in the dining room talking, while the guys played rock band, and the kids did their thing in the other room.

Here's my costume: I'm "The girl who was on fire" did you read the book? I told Jeff he could be Peeta --(I teased him he could be the Flaming boy :) ) but he went to the BYU game. He'd been planning on it for months, and I didn't realize it was the same night. Communication. Our marriage's biggest strength. Sigh.
Here's the kids. Ari has wanted to be a Goth since last year, we revamped Tia's witch costume for 2009, and Kai was the Alien he's dreamed of being all of his life: "Do not destroy my planet!" he kept saying.
I also was going to tell you I made the granola again with only half a cup instead of a full cup of agave, but it didn't clump together right, so don't try that. Maybe three fourths a cup? Or maybe some pumpkin puree for half of it? Hmmm. I'll let you know. But I made the Oat milk again with only half the oats, and strained it, and it worked great. I know almond milk might be really tasty too, but frankly, oats are cheaper (both money and calories).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laate dinner...Rustic tomato tart and Italian chickpeas and vegan sausage.

Didn't get dinner on the table until late tonight, but it was worth waiting for! Rustic tomato tart with whole wheat and cornmeal crust made with Deja's raw zucchini dip as the wet, and sliced multicolor tomatoes from our garden.

Based this off an Italian white bean and sausage recipe, but used soy crumbles, chickpeas, zucchini, red bells, and lots and lots of garlic and italian herbs. Yummy. Dinner was a little heavy though with these two dishes, I probably should have done just one and a salad. I had a salad for lunch at least, and we all had salad for dinner last night with just some quinoa on the side. It's just harder for me to portion control with denser foods. I had to stand up and leave the table while everyone else was still there. Oh well.

On the vegan diet front, I read the critical article written about the China Study that my friend sent me, and the author highlights some jumps in logic that the China Study author made. Honestly, they were nothing major, this was a man in hard science for decades, but he does draw a few personal conclusions. When we looked up the credentials of the guy that wrote the article though, it turns out he only had a bachelor's in history. He also was a member of the "Cholesterol for Health" group, so he may have had his own axe to grind. Don't we all? Take home message: still read the China Study if you're considering it. It is an amazing amount of important info. However, you don't need to be scared that any animal protein will promote cancer in your body. That may not be true. A LOT of animal protein, yes, I'd still say was a bad idea, but this is something we all knew if we're Mormon (see D&C 89. Does "eat meat sparingly" mean eat a little every day? I'm doubting that that counts as sparingly--but make your own decision).

On the totally unrelated news front, I had a breakthrough in my Halloween costume. It's going to be SOOOO COOOL!!! (OK maybe not, but I'm hopeful now.). Love you guys --thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rollin' with it.

I sucked it up people, and I think everything is going to be Okay. Thanks for all of your helpful comments and advice. Plus a friend of mine sent a very interesting review of the book which cause all the vegan mayhem in my brain, so stay tuned, I may be adjusting again! Anyway today I had a little more time, so it was a big cooking day. First I boiled up some red quinoa. I was never a fan of the flavor of quinoa before, but it's growing on me (ha --virtue of live food). Plus it looks so cool when it's cooked, with the little white quotation marks that form all through it. Neat.

Next I made the "Oat Milk". I soaked 4 cups of old-fashioned oats overnight, then blended in the soaking water, with a dash of salt, and a dash of agave, then added water to make two quarts. Pretty yummy, but it does get a little thick with all the oat fiber activating. I think next time I may use half of the oats.

Finally for the morning cooking I made "Terry's extra special secret granola". This is my Dad's recipe that he made all the time when we were growing up. Should I post a secret recipe? actually he can't find it so I'll post it for my Dad: 6 cups oats, 2 cups wheat bran, sesame seeds (1/2 cup for me), coconut (I only used about 1/2 a cup), sunflower seeds (I used 1/2 cup sliced almonds instead), whey protein (1/3 cup not vegan, but was in the recipe --you could omit it, or use soy I think with really good results), cinnamon --I put in a whopping 2-3 T., mix it all up, then add the wet ingredients: 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses, 1 cup honey (I used agave), 1/4 cup --yeah i'm serious that's all sesame oil (I used toasted for extra flavor, but I think any vegetable oil would be fine). Mix dry with wet, and bake at 250 on two cookie sheets for 45-50 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through cooking time. OK, YUMMMM. You could even leave out all the nuts and seeds and still, with plain oats it would be good. It was even a little too sweet. I'm cutting back on the honey/agave next time to half I think.

For dinner we had quinoa bread, based on a HEAB recipe . The kids didn't love it, but Jeff and I did.
.....And a Gingered Carrot soup with caramelized onions. Amaaaaaazingly good. The kids all had two bowls. Easy recipe too (I changed it a little of course):
6 cups broth, bring to boiling
2 pounds of carrots peeled and chopped, dump in broth and boil until soft
meanwhile --4 onions thinly sliced --caramelize in 2 T. EVOO. When about halfway done, add 2 T. grated FRESH ginger.
Blend up most of carrots in the broth with HALF of onion mixture.
Add 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 cup oat milk (could use soy or rice milk)
Top with remaining onions. YUM YUM YUM.

We had a great dinner, and a great food day. Knock on wood for tomorrow. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is going to be harder than it looks.

I'm a little panicked here. We did a simple salad of three kinds of local apples, and mixed greens with a honey-lemon vinaigrette, and the a big pot of grains. I used a five type rolled grain cereal, and some oats for creaminess, 2 kinds of dried fruits, some sliced almonds, agave (which worked great --thanks Aunt Lynn), and cinnamon. My family ate it, and I've got plans for the rest of the week, but I'm just overwhelmed. The salad could really have used some CHEESE that the original recipe called for. It needed some sharp tangy something in it. I'm just not used to the whole balancing thing with all vegan ingredients and I was in a hurry after getting home from speech therapy at 6:30pm. I wasn't really planing on this whole vegan thing --it's freaking me out. Do I tell my kids to not eat birthday cake? We're trying not to turn into junk-food vegans. Are we not using our freezer full of grated cheese, chicken, and beef? What about all of the homemade jam I've made from strawberries out of our yard? I finally got my years supply of food storage --I'm not kidding --ingredients for 6 months of dinners included in with a year of basics, and suddenly half of it is obsolete? What about butter? Do I bake with coconut oil instead of butter? Won't that cost a fortune? Are we the weird family now? Do I do this thing in stages with my kids? How do I keep myself from eating nut butter all day (panic attack induced binging was a problem today :( )? Any help would be great. I know some of you experienced vegans out there really cook.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

China Study Dinner

I haven't blogged in forever I know, but I just was keeping a few things to myself, and then those things started to take up most of my energy and focus, and there wasn't much left to blog about. I was on a really strict diet all summer as you know, and it was great for me in a ton of ways. I learned so much about controlling myself eating-wise, and with the training regimen I was on, I also learned a lot of self-discipline in getting all of my workouts in. Towards the end of the summer it was weekdays was a 40-50 minutes hard cardio in the mornings, 40-45 minutes weightlifting, and a 30 minute cardio session at night. It was hard scheduling that all in, and sometimes I was freakin tired, but it was so worth it. I finally had a body I was proud of. I've worked for so many years trying to get these results, and frankly didn't have the tools I needed. Thanks so much to my trainer Sandy for all that she did for me. She's well worth her fees. After I reached my goals I finally started reading The China Study that's been recommended to me over and over again by almost everyone I know interested in health and fitness and IT ROCKED MY WORLD. This is a book written by a national reasearcher (he has written over 350 peer-reviewed published articles in major scientific journals) regarding a major study spanning ovr 30 years of the rural Chines peoples, and a number of other studies he and other researchers have done supporting his findings. What findings? Take home message: the higher the animal protein in the diet, the higher percentages of most cancers, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. This ROCKED MY WORLD. I was almost sorry I read it. This summer was all about animal protein. I am still worried I won't be able to keep on the muscle I've gained going all plant based, but there is a vegan bodybuilding site and while there aren't too many girls on there, I'm trusting if I'm careful I should be OK. I got into a lot of good habits this summer: eating a LOT of veggies, no sugar, LOW LOW fat, and portion control. I couldn't move into this without my training. Thanks again Sandy. OK, so here's what we had for dinner tonight.

Roasted vegetables --including two giant eggplants from my garden

Raw zucchini hummus: 3 medium zucchinis, 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1 t. salt 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, 1/2 cup lemon and 3/4 cup cooked garbanzos (because it was a little thin)
Kale chips: cover a baking sheet with potato chip size pieces of kale, spray lightly with vegetable or olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, or whatever seasoning blend you want (try salt, chili pepper, &garlic powder!) and bake at 250 for 30-40 minutes until they are all crisp. These are super good. The kids love them. You might be surprised.

I spread some of the hummus on a big lettuce leaf, piled on the roasted veggies and went to town. DELICIOUS! The kids had theirs on corn tortillas, but I was conserving a few calories because of the cashews, and I had a huge butternut squash shake earlier in the day. What??? No really. 2 cups of roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ricemilk or soymilk or almond milk or nonfat if you have none of these, and my vice: splenda. (I suck I know, but I've tried stevia and it doesn't do the same thing for me. suggestions?) It was like pumpkin pie in a glass. Yum. I froze the last half of the shake, and blended it up later with some more water and Pero and that was fantastic too: like a frozen pumpkin pie latte. Sorry no pictures. I was considering it.