Archive | August, 2014

Love. The real soul food.

31 Aug

School is back in session.  Football has started.  That means one thing…summer is rolling into fall.  When seasons change, it’s a new beginning of sorts.  Mother Nature freshens up her Earth.  Time to refresh the soul as well. I reflect on the past, and think about how to improve my future. My journey to love, loyalty, forgiveness, and appreciation continues, as does the journey to discover myself. A goal for my journey is to make it a joyful one. As I sit back and marvel at the obstacles I have overcome and the resulting  strength that has grown within, gratitude washes over me.  So I must say thank you.  Again and again.  There is no denying the gifts.

Thank you to those who told me I couldn’t. From you I am learning that I can.

Thank you to those who gossiped. From you I am learning how to hold my friends dear, and how important it is to keep my mouth shut.

Thank you to those with no faith. From you I am learning that God is central in my life, and that my faith runs deep.

Thank you to those who told me that I am weak. From you I am learning inner strength and confidence. You allow me to dig down to discover that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Thank you to those that told me I was ugly. From you I am finding my inner beauty.

Thank you to those that put up barriers in my life. From you, I am learning to tear down walls and fight for what I want.

Thank you to those who told me that I am not a good mother. From you I am learning that my commitment to motherhood is beautifully imperfect, and perfectly loving.

Thank you to those that put me second (or more accurately third, fourth or fifth) . From you I am learning that God puts me first.

Thank you to those who are loud and demand attention. From you I am learning the value of being quiet.

Thank you to those who create drama in my life. From you I am learning to truly appreciate peace.

Thank you to those who have that overpowering sense of entitlement. From you I am learning to humble, see the good, and appreciate the little things.

Thank you to those who told me to quit. From you I am learning perseverance.

Thank you to those who brag. From you I learning to be modest.

Thank you to those that lied to me. From you I am learning the importance of the truth.

Thank you to those who are false and phony. From you I am learning the importance of being genuine.

Thank you to the people who showed me kindness not because I am needy but because you are good. Thank you to those who extended generosity, for you have enabled me to more openly give to others. Thank you for those with whom I share friendship, prayerful faith, and comforting touch not only in times of need, but in all times.

Thank you for those of you that protect me not because I am weak but because you are loyal. Thank you to those that share their strength with me when I have none. For you give me the power to be a pillar of strength to someone else. Because of you I can extend the generous love you have shown me to others. After all, it is in giving that we receive.

I am no different from anyone else. I have been hurt. I have felt the pain of deceit, the heart break of cruel disloyalty, and the sting of failure. From that I rise up.  I give thanks to those by my side, and for those that have turned against me. From everyone whose life has touched mine, I continue to learn to love. It is easy to be thankful for the great people in your life and to love them. The challenge lies in loving and learning from those that hurt us.

This blog addresses mostly food. Today it is about fruits. The fruits of the spirit. Food for the soul.  After all, we should strive for progress, not perfection.

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25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

Pesto Passion

23 Aug

Ok..again my Leo comes out…even in my cooking. An August birthday makes me a Leo, and I must admit, I am a lover of the sun.   Summer sunshine means amazing herbs springing to life in my garden.  I love them all, but my favorite of the summer herbs has got to be basil.

I wash my hands before I pick the delicate leaves so I can allow the delicious scent to linger on my fingers for a few extra minutes.  After first admiring my herbs, I pick some basal,  close my eyes, bring my fingers close to my face and breathe deep.  Inhaling this fresh basil is simply a culinary delight.  It plays a starring role in many of my summer recipes.  Everyone has basil around in the summer, and there are a million ways to use it, from simple bruschetta to complicated sauces.  Summer bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil is as refreshing as a popsicle!   Mix diced fresh tomatoes with freshly cut basil and goat cheese.  Douse this with a bit of olive oil and vinegar.  Drop a spoonful on some crusty bread and voila!  Instant delish!

My favorite thing to make with basil is fresh pesto.  It takes moments to prepare and can be used in many different ways.  Pesto can be liberally poured over pasta making a delicious side dish.  It can be brushed onto fish, adding beautiful color and flavor to either delicate or hearty fish.  I have doused chicken with pesto, adding flair to an otherwise bland weeknight dinner.  Pesto can also be spread onto a sandwich as a savory condiment.  I love the freedom to use my flavor packed pesto on most everything!  It is simple and makes me look like a rock star in the kitchen at times.  Who wouldn’t love that?

Pesto is very forgiving too.  I have adjusted or substituted ingredients without having to sacrifice flavor. I will pass along my pesto recipe and let you have some fun with it too!  It is a crowd pleaser, so make plenty.  Bon appetite!

Basic Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

FYI- I have tried using toasted pine nuts  as well as roasted garlic and it did not make a notable difference in taste.   I have also substituted walnuts for pine nuts, and the flavor was great.  I have used both the parmesan cheese in the green can as well as fresh parmesan cheese, and fresh makes a difference.  Use freshly grated parmesan if you can, but if you only have the green can on hand, go for it!  I usually add a little more olive oil if I am putting this on pasta.  If you are using dried herbs in a pinch, you also may want to increase the olive oil.  Go ahead!  Play with this recipe!  Have fun and enjoy the amazing flavors!  And don’t forget to freeze some rouse later.

 

 

Superfoods – another one!

11 Aug

The last super food that we covered was cabbage.  If you missed it, read it here.  https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

Since that post, I am confident that you have embraced this superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet.  Ready for another super food to try?  Here we go!  Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue.  It is avocado.  This is a fun one.

Avocados are, like cabbage, a flexible food.  It is also super easy to prepare.  An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar.  Plus, they are rich n vitamin K, B vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana.   Still need convincing?  Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams.  (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). Anything with avocado is terrific in my book.

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat.  True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation.  But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat.  This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest.  So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit.  I actually prefer ugly fruit because I feel like it is less “processed” or “treated” than pretty perfect fruit.  The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure.  It should be a bit soft.  Haas avocados are smaller than other avocados, but I like them all.  This is a Florida avocado.

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen.  Ugly but delicious!

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen. Ugly but delicious!

What to do with an avocado you ask?  The easiest thing to do is slice it up and eat it.  Or layer it on a sandwich.  Dice it up and toss it in a salad.  I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal.  How?  I turned the oven to 375 degrees.  I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out.  Then I added an egg to one half where the pit was removed.  Yup.  Sure did.  And I put it on a baking sheet into a hot oven while I showered.  After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection.  I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Voila!  A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor.  I treat avocados like a baked potato sometimes.  Load ’em up!

My baked avocado breakfast.  So flavorful and nutritious.  A fantastic post workout breakfast.

My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next?  Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole.  If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado.  And it is so simple.  Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous are all you need for great guacamole.  One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable.  You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.  The moanable moment is in the “add ins”, such as hot peppers, onions, or sour cream.Let me show you my guacamole.  Start with mashing up an avocado and add just a few things.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown.  So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it.  Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways.  Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

Fresh guacamole!  Fabulous and flexible!

Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

 

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado.  Nothing short of delicious!

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to mashed up avocado. Nothing short of delicious!