Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving! (do all of my titles have exclamation points?)

We all got together for Thanksgiving at my Mom's this year. I wanted to host(ess), I even used it as an excuse to get some more dishes (any excuse seems to do), but my brother drove in from Reno with his three little girls, so bummer to make him drive an extra hour. I was a little apprehensive for Thanksgiving this year, because we were doing a family party the next day too, and I usually completely break down in self control after a day. And there's pie. And there's Lion house rolls.

The table looked beautiful. I had a picture of the other half, but my camera has been acting up lately, and that picture (along with a lot of other ones) turned out all blurry. I figured out last night my camera had been set to slow shutter speed. Little too late.

Yeah. These are the rolls. We were still setting the table at this point --but I gave up resisting and snitched the smallest one. Yuuuuum! (Yes Deja --way better than last year even).

Gotta take pie pictures. This was the black cherry. Kai saw it and said: "that looks just like a pie!" ummm...yeah. Made me feel good though because it must look like the "iconic pie" if he recognizes it. My brother in law liked it --and his mom is the best cook in the world.

Pecan-Cranberry. I got this idea out of this month's Better Homes and Gardens. Then of course the recipe went out the window and did my own piecrust that I trust, and changed amounts.....blah blah blah.

OK, stupidly this year I asked for votes via email on which pies to do. Eight different pies got one vote. Right. I'm not doing no eight pies. But the one that got two votes was Chocolate Mousse. I use this mousse for catering and I love it --it's so rich. Whipped cream, melted chocolate, cream cheese.... I finished this pie with a cookie crust, real whipped cream, and chocolate leaves.

No one wanted this pie but Ari. I don't know why, but about a month ago she got obsessed with the idea of "Key lime pie! It's my favorite!" So we had to do it for Ari. Then on Thanksgiving --she got a piece of chocolate instead! It turned out pretty good though --Jeff said it was his favorite. I do a graham cracker crust, no merengue --whipped cream instead. I may do all merengue pies next year. I can't do a stinkin' merengue pie to save my life. I think I overthink it --I always wonder if the whites need to be cooked all the way through, or if they need to be beaten longer. I'll master it by next year.

Growing up, especially as teenagers, our favorite place to congregate and talk was always my Mom's bed. We'd lay there all Sunday afternoon all at different angles, and talk and sometimes kick each other in the head. It was fun to see the next generation all in my Mom's bed after dinner watching a movie. They were ALL packed in here at one point.

So you're probably wondering about the vegan thing for Thanksgiving. Nope. It's not a religion for me and Jeff, it's something we try to do day to day for health. I'm not skipping those rolls or pie because of the butter. I've been looking forward to them for weeks. Turkey? meh. Not that big a deal. Jeff didn't have any. I had a little bit of dark meat, honestly just to say I did. Stupid reason wasn't it? The stuffing on the other hand is my favorite. You know, if I HAD stayed vegan yesterday and Thanksgiving day, it would sure have helped me eat a lot better. Man. Avoiding butter alone (which has got to be the worst dairy there is --well, maybe heavy cream) would probably saved me 1000 calories or more. I think though, knowing myself, I would have regretted missing those rolls, and the pie for a long time. So, good decision for me.

In other news, I started getting serious about training for the Wasatch Back I'm doing next June. I know it's a long ways away, but I did a long run Thanksgiving day (long for me anyway -7 miles), and do you know what my average time was? 11 minute miles. I basically suck. I just get out on the streets with my book on mp3, and go into a doze or something. Just autopilot. I was thinking lately that the treadmill at 10 minuter miles seemed tough lately, and when I put the Garmin on for the run outside I found out why. I guess I need to start pushing it again. I push a lot harder in spin and Tae Bo classes. My heart rate on this run stayed at about 125 or so. Pretty pathetic workout. I still remember running with my mom in High School and we got down to 8 minute miles. In my brain? I still run that fast.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally! a stevia I can use.



YES! Finally a Stevia that works. I took the recommendation of a fellow blogger, and finally tried this kind (after HATING the other two kinds above) and it works. If you want a zero calorie sweetener that won't hurt you, and actually tastes good, I recommend this stuff unconditionally. The serving size is 1/4 teaspoon, but even if you quadruple it (like in a blender full of smoothie) you won't taste the bitter. Love it. It also actually makes things sweeter, which isn't really the case with the others (at least with my taste buds). I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, but no, I just like sweet when I'm promised sweet.

In other news, I started the yoga thing. There's a girl that teaches classes in the city next door to us, and I've been going Thursday nights. It is so intense! I really get a muscle workout, and she's so good about walking around adjusting everyone into place, which I really need, since I've got a few wacky joints. I then found a place online that podcasts free 20 minute yoga routines everyday (for free! --I'm all about free): here so I can just do a little on my own everyday I've got a little extra time. I usually do a short cardio sesh in the evening (I'm trying to work off a few Halloween parties), and maybe I'll do one every other night. I don't know. I know yoga may not burn as many calories as a hard cardio, but I really feel I'm getting some usable, functional strength and balance doing it. It just feels GOOD. At least with this teacher, It's a real intense class. Have you ever tried yoga? What do you think? My experience has been that it really depends on the teacher.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pineapple-Chocolate Chili

I know the research in the China Study indicates that we don't need that much protein, but as a bodybuilder (can I say that? I mean I lift serious weights five days a week) I'm really nervous about protein to rebuild my muscles after I stress them out. I also had a friend that really lost some muscle going whole food all plant-based, who is about as serious with exercise as I am. Anyway, the things I cook lately have a lot of beans or tvp (soy protein). I eat a serving for dinner, and one other time through my day I'll have leftovers from the night before. This is one of those recipes. My sister was raving the other day about pineapple. She had it in a chili at a church thing and was blown away. When she asked for the recipe though, it was barbeque sauce, ketchup, all of these processed sugary things.

I decided to make it tonight, and started with Cooking Light's All-American Chili which I remembered as a sort of sweet-spicy recipe. Then all heck broke loose. What I ended up doing wasn't close to that recipe at all. Now, this isn't a vegetarian recipe, because I use beef bouillon. If you object to this, you'll need something with umami to balance out all of the sweet. I could suggest a miso, or liquid aminos, or even a mushroom or olive paste/pate. I had the bouillon, and since my object in going meatless is for health reasons I didn't have a problem with the boullion. No cholesterol or animal fat or protein.

2 cups chopped onions
8 cloves garlic -pressed
1 chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped hot peppers (anaheim -if using a hotter pepper you might want less)
2 T. chili powder
2 t. cumin

saute these up. Then add:

3 cans diced tomatoes -undrained
16 oz. concord grape juice
3 cups tvp (dry measure. cover with warm water to rehydrate)
1.5 T. beef bouillon
2 cans kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder mixed with 1/4 cup water
20 oz. can crushed pineapple in it's own juice undrained

Bring to a boil, stirring to combine, and let simmer for about an hour. I left it on low and took Ari to speech therapy. When we came back almost two hours later, driving into town I saw a big smoke plume rising from what looked like my neighborhood. But, yeah, it wasn't my house and the chili turned out great.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Email discussion on food.

My friend sent this link to me and a couple of my friends, and it really struck a nerve with me. It's about food, and its significance in our lives. I thought I'd publish it here and see what you all had to say about it. After the link is my response, then the responses of two of my friends. Each paragraph is someone new. What do you think?

Me: OK it's true. But saying it's true doesn't change my feelings most of the time. I found when I was starting the diet with Sandy this summer, that I had a true mourning period -- I said this before I know: I would drive by pier49 pizza and remember the time Jeff and I got a pizza to split at home while watching a movie --still remember which movie, at BYU I remembered truffles I ate while reading art books in the bookstore, EVERYWHERE I went, I had to let go of the good times I'd had with food. I would use food as a sensory pleasure to enhance a good time --almost always. What I found was that having control over my eating was also a really good feeling --a real powerful feeling, and I could create great memories without food, and it really didn't seem like these memories suffered from the lack. I went to the Springville MOA without chocolate in my pocket and it was still a wonderful time. But is it wrong to feel good about the control too? I would argue no. I think with something as prevalent in our lives, something that takes up a good deal of our time and is so strongly involved in our social lives, it is going to be associated with our happiness. Think about it, sunshine is another example. We have a lot of memories associated with sunshine, and summer. The truth is that it warms our bodies and gives us the vitamin D we need and that's all. True, but it will be strongly associated with our happiness. Food is what we create our bodies out of! Our whole material being is created and maintained with food. The China study guy argues that it is the most intimate way we interact with our environment and I agree. To say this is a small role is a statement of denial in my opinion. Sensory input is the major part of our mortal experience, and food uses ALL FIVE senses. Facing it is smart. I agree with what she says, I really do, it's just that I've heard similar things before, and looking for your happiness outside of food isn't as easy as it sounds. I would say be aware of emotions, and why you're eating, but to disassociate happiness completely from your relationship with food is not going to happen. hhmmmm --maybe I'll post this on my blog.

Friend 1: You're right too, of course. And she says on a post right after that that's part of what she meant, that she was trying to uphold the complexity of it even as she made her point. I just know for me, it was an important reminder that food is not my friend or my enemy. That's huge, to let those go. And difficult. The sunshine is an interesting and apt comparison, I think.

Friend 2: The biggest truth about food is that it is hard to erase old habits. So much of what we eat and how we feel about it are habits. If you spend the time to change the habit, you can create good memories around the new habits.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ginger Salad dressing

Can I just quickly post the bestest salad dressing! 1T. tahini, 1 T. miso, fresh grated ginger --about 2 tsp.,about 1/2 cup lemon juice, and some sweetener to balance to taste. Yum. Two salads today cause I loved it so much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkins and Beans

Well, we carved our pumpkins this year for the first time in three years. I always put it off until Halloween is over, and am secretly a little pleased that I have a few more pumpkins for decoration through Thanksgiving. Aren't I an awful mom? OK, but I repented this year and we carved, The kids made the faces, and we did our best to try and carve them. Tia did hers by herself. She's so cool. Ari got a little sick this week so we were so grateful Halloween was a little warm, and the neighborhood "street of treats" was earlier so she didn't get too chilled. If you know Ari's personality, she would have had to have had two broken legs to keep her from trick or treating.

Made some cool recipes this week. This was a Lentil-Carrot loaf. It turned out really yummy. We sliced it on toast (and the kids added cheese ---I find I can serve them just about anything as long as it has cheese on it. My mom says it was the same for her.). Here's the recipe:
2 cups carrot (from my garden yay!)
1T. evoo
2 cups vertically sliced onion (from my garden too yay!)
1 T. minced fresh ginger
2 cups cooked lentils
2 T. ketchup (I tried not to think about this I hate ketchup)
1 T. mixed Italian herbs
2 egg whites, 1 egg ---(I just bought xanthan gum: 1/4 t. plus 1/4 cup water =1 egg white)
1/2 cup quick oats (I used old fashioned with a quick pulse in my spice grinder)
1/2 cup garlic and herb breadcrumbs (I added my own garlic and herbs)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 t salt
cook carrot until soft, saute onion and ginger until soft, blend everything in food processor except walnuts, oats and breadcrumbs, then stir these guys into the rest. Put in a oiled loaf pan at 350 for an hour. The ginger with the herbs is really good. Who'da thunkit?

I did the vegan brownies Meesh. I called them " Chocolate banana bars" for my family though. The banana flavor really comes through. They LOVED THEM. OK this is really cool, because no added fat except for the nuts on top, and no processed sugar, although my bananas were a little green so I added a pinch of ground dates to sweeten it up. I am SURE with ripe ripe bananas I wouldn't have needed it though.

Here's the reipe again:

1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
2 bananas
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup agave (or honey)
1 T. (yes tablespoon) cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/4 cup quick oats (I used my spice grinder on old fashioned again)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

blend all ingredients except oats and nuts in food processor, then stir in oats, and spread batter in greased 8x8 pan. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I added a little "date sugar" maybe a quarter cup.

In other news, I finished "The Mysterious Benedict society" Cute book. It reminded me a little of Wrinkle in Time without as much spacey stuff. I had a nice binge on Halloween Treats while I read it. I beat myself up about it for a day or so, but realized, I really enjoy reading a good book and eating treats. I've got to face my problem and accept it if I'm going to move on right? I'm glad I had such a good book, and such good treats if I'm going down anyway. Might as well look at it as a GOOD memory and not a bad one. A full pound heavier the next day. Really. I decided, I the only thing to do is get back on track, and eat a lot of greens the next day to kind of cleanse all of the sugar out of my system. I don't know if this works physiologically, but if I stick to green drinks and salads the next day, my sugar cravings go away that much faster for me. So I'm back on track and feeling pretty good again. But then Kelli came over yesterday with the sequel....