January 31, 2010

What are we eating this week?

During the weekend I like to prepare as many good food choices as I can so we have lunch and dinner available pretty easy during the week. I like being able to come home and grab something easy after work. It makes packing a sensible lunch a pretty quick job too. The hard part about packing a lunch for Monday is that there are usually too many things to choose from, nice problem. This is one of my methods to help us eat right too. I believe if there is something easy to reach for that is the right choice, we tend to make the right choice when we open that refrigerator. I usually make a very large raw vegetable salad,  a nice pot of beans so we have some low fat protein easily available, one or two nice vegetable entree choices and something sweet. That way, even if I do decide I am going to prepare something during the week, I already have some accompaniments already. Having the beans handy makes it so simple, I can warm a tortilla and some beans, stuff some salad in with the beans and I have a quick soft taco. Sometimes I will warm some beans, whatever whole grain I have prepared such as Quinua or brown rice and toss with some of the salad.

So what are we eating this week?

Let's start with dessert this time. I made some great brownies, almost gluten and dairy free. I say almost because there might be some gluten in my vanilla and maybe some dairy in the chocolate chips. I bought the vanilla in Baja and don't want to take the time to translate the ingredients right now. Great price too, we bought pure vanilla for fifty-five cents a pint. I used a Bob's Red Mill, Gluten Free, Brownie mix. and egg substitute, also from Bob's Red Mill, vegan margarine instead of butter, about a 1/2 cup roasted, chopped walnuts, and a 1/2 cup organic dark chocolate chips. I made a chocolate raspberry topping by cooking down some frozen raspberries, about 2 cups, with about 3 TBS raw agave syrup. I put about 3/4 to 1 cup organic dark chocolate chips in a small bowl and poured the hot raspberries over the chocolate. I spread the chocolate raspberry mixture over the cooled brownies and then put it in the refrigerator to cool. They came out really nice.

Gluten Free Brownies

I felt like cooking up some lentils for this week. I thought I'd look online for a recipe and I didn't have any problems finding a nice recipe. It only took a few minutes. I found it on a nice blog site called 101 Cookbooks.

This one is SO easy and there aren't many ingredients. I had everything the recipe needed in my kitchen already. It has a nice texture and light flavor.  I didn't make many changes; I used coconut oil instead of olive oil and added some fresh herbs to the onion. It's garnished with sliced olives, toasted almond slices, and scallions. I did have to cook it longer than the recipe said. The recipe says to simmer for about 30 minutes. I think mine went about 45 minutes before the rice was right.

Red Lentil Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pears

I had a small butternut squash and a couple sweet potatoes so I peeled and sliced them in large medallions, about an inch thick. Cored and sliced two green apples and two pears. I put these in my large crock-pot: squash, potatoes, apples, and pears, in that order.Then I scattered a about a third of a cup of sucanot sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, a dash of ground Celtic salt, and a little fresh ground nutmeg. Then I sliced a large lemon and placed the slices, with the rind on, on top of everything. I sprinkled some orange flax oil around the mixture then let it roast about four hours. I don't suggest eating the lemon slices, they are very bitter. The rest of it though is a nice sweet winter treat. This will be fun to have in my lunch next week.

Baked Beans

 Of course I have to have some beans around, we need that good low fat protein hanging around. This week I used pinto beans, cooked them very simply with a chopped onion, a little celery, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I used about two cups organic vegetable broth and two cups filter water. I think I simmered them for about an hour. They came out just the way I wanted too, not too hard and not mushy, they are al dente.

I can't post that recipe as it belongs to a chef friend of mine and he doesn't share very well. But I can give you the main ingredients. Just put your favorite things you like in baked beans in the pot. Toss in some of your favorite herbs.

Use about four to six cups cooked beans
1 large can fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped, unless you already have one in your cooked beans
a couple tablespoons of dark molasses
2 tbl maple syrup
balsamic vinegar
2 tBL chopped garlic
a dash chipolte chili powder
1 TB deli mustard - any coarse ground spicy mustard will work
salt and pepper

Mix it all together and bake uncovered in a casserole dish for about an hour at 350 degrees.

We'll make a raw vegetable salad later this afternoon with at least ten different vegetables and I am thinking about making some kind of broccoli/cauliflower Parmesan. I toasted some whole grain bread yesterday with a little olive oil and some fresh herbs. Tomorrow I will make them into bread crumbs. I have some homemade marinara sauce in my freezer and I'll layer bread crumbs, sauce, cauliflower and broccoli kind of like a lasagna and bake.

Seems like lots of work when I am finished at the end of the weekend, but I spread it out over the time and I certainly don't want to come home and cook a whole meal after work during the week. I had to fit more into one day this weekend as we are headed up to see our son this morning. That's going to take half the day. It's an hour and a half drive one way and we stay with him about two and a half hours, grateful for that time, and the drive home. Takes a big chunk out of the Sunday. But, I am grateful we can go see him. He may be moved soon and we don't know how long we will have to drive to visit.

I am hoping to hit some second hand stores along the way today in search of materials for my garden seedling project. 

I have been having a lot of "DUH!" moments lately. I did something pretty nice last night. Something I haven't done in a very long time and I am not sure why I haven't. I took a nice hot, herbal bath. As I lay submerged in the wonderful hot water with the herbs floating around and my skin welcoming the silky feeling the of hot water and bath salts, I wondered why I don't do this more often. This is so relaxing and so easy to do! I think remembering to take the time for some of us is difficult.

Enjoy and Happy Days!

January 30, 2010

Pescadero Daze

I can smell the air in this video, I can see the young faces of friends I love under the gray hair, I can smell the breeze of the sea, and the warm air as we all move and dance away to the music as we have so many times before. Fond memories of a place we called home. A place where we became a family and began to grow together.

January 29, 2010

About the Vegetarian Journey

I haven't written much about food yet as I began this blog during the week. I do most of my food preparation on the weekend as we work full time and I like being able to come home and find something easy to prepare. I have also found that if we have the right things to eat readily available, that's what we choose. That's why I make large quantities of the good stuff during the weekend. It sure helps making the right choice a lot easier. Especially for those times when I open the refrigerator and hunt around for something to eat, because I want to eat, but don't know what. Usually, that's because I want to eat, not because I need to eat. So, if something is easy to reach and ready, the right choice is a little easier to make.

I should have called my blog, "Eclectic Flexitarian" as I haven't made the cross over 100% completely to vegetarian. I should probably call myself more of a whole foods chef. It's been a long journey to get as far as we have. We eat at least a 90% vegetarian, mostly vegan diet. We try to fit ten servings of fruits and vegetables in our diets daily. A smoothie in the morning with at least five fruits and an avocado, five more during the morning, a large salad for lunch, salad first for dinner, then cooked vegetables and some beans or whole grains. We eat the good stuff first, and all of it, and then if we want to eat something that is not so healthy, we tend to eat less of it. This has worked for us for quite awhile. Both my husband and I not only lost weight when we went head on into this style of eating a couple years ago, but my cholesterol level decreased. Cholesterol only comes from animal protein, so none or very little animal protein means none or little cholesterol going in the body either. Trying to avoid the diseases my grandparents, parents, and siblings have endured such as heart disease and diabetes is one of my main motivators. I continually seek education about plant based eating and have collected many skills and recipes along the way. Dairy products are pretty much gone from our lives except the occasionally bit of cheese in a dish. But, I still can't turn down a fresh wild salmon, in season, or fresh crab, in season.

I am also a big supporter of eating locally as much as possible. More important to me than organic is: Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Eat in Season. If I have a choice of buying an organic pear that has been trucked from California or a non organic pear from a local farmer, the local pear is the choice for me. As far as eating in season, there is a reason certain plants bear their fruit during the seasons of the year in specific locales. These plants provide the nutrients your body needs to make it through the regional climate of the seasons. Then there is the part about supporting the local farmers.

Each weekend, I prepare some basics: a raw vegetable salad with at least ten different vegetables. It doesn't matter which vegetables, one of the tricks I have learned along the way to getting enough nutrients is to make sure I have included lots of colors of vegetables. Each vegetable has it's own mixture of important nutrients. And YES, vegetables have protein, even potatoes. I make my own dressing with avocado and fresh citrus juice. The avocado provides it's own oil making bottle oil unnecessary. Yes, there are oils out there that are better such as olive oil, coconut oil, and flax oil. But oil is oil, still not good to have too much. Sometimes I add different tasty vinegars to the dressing. I make enough to last us for lunch and dinner for about four days. I also will make a batch of some kind of beans. During the week, we can have some warm beans, add them to the salad, or put them in a tortilla with some of the salad for a quick soft taco. If I do decide to create something else for dinner during the week, I have the accompaniments already prepared. I try to find a new, fun way to prepare dinner each week. I will post my recipe finds regularly. I hope you share some too. Here's what I made last weekend:

Black Beans & Rice cooked with some cilantro and lime and my random raw vegetable salad.

Wonder what I will come up with this weekend. I have some red lentils to play with and I just put some pinto beans in to soak. I think I'll make some vegan chocolate pecan cookies. I will be sure to post the recipes.

Well, TGIF. It's the last day of the month at work. Life has quieted there awaiting the mad dash next week to produce the financial reports. Tonight we are off to Portland to see Country Joe McDonald live doing a tribute to Woodie Guthrie. It should be a blast! Lots of gray pony tails and tie dye in the crowd to be sure. Saturday I hope to go tromping through the woods a bit to gather some moss for my seedling project. And Sunday, we get to go see our son and maybe have a family game of scrabble. So, we are playing together and talking as a family under armed guard, we're talking. Gotta find that glimmer of good in everything.

Happy Days!

January 28, 2010

Small Miracles Every Day

I should start out with some the things I am grateful for today:

I am alive,
I exercised for 20 minutes, I CAN exercise,
I woke up sober and with my cute, smiling husband,
I had a great day at work, I HAVE a job,
I have a warm comfortable home,
we eat good fresh food,
my teeth hurt because a couple of dentists are having their way with me; but I GET to go to the dentist, and I found treasure in my mailbox today.

Our five year old granddaughter was thinking about us. Makes my heart sing for sure!

I made some good decisions today, got some important tasks accomplished at work and personally. I spent some time with my lovely friend/sister, Rhonda. We haven't sat down and talked in quite awhile. She just spent a couple of weeks in Mexico so I've been anxious to hear of her adventures.

I started telling her about how I have been truly feeling this past few months and some of the weird and silly shit I have done and said. I told her how sometimes I feel like I am very lost. I had this overwhelming urge to be completely honest with a sister and tell someone how bad I hurt sometimes. I realized I really hadn't done this thoroughly yet. It felt good to hear from someone else that I hadn't been as crazy as I thought I was. I feel my confidence and strength inside a little more each day. There is some growth within all this pain, it sneaks it's head in once in awhile and I am lucky enough to notice just once in awhile too. My friends in the fellowship told me this would make me stronger, but it hasn't been until recently I have become willing to believe and let go.  A few months ago, I was hoping I would feel this way someday.

I left feeling very good that I took the time to relax and sit and talk with someone I love. I stopped at the store and stocked up on our fruits and vegetables for the week. I almost blew that off until tomorrow, but since we only shop in the produce section now, it really only takes me 20 minutes to shop for a week. Less when the garden is giving. And, it is a good way to stop the continuous motion for a few minutes. I do love food and cooking so a grocery store is fun for me, I am a sick pup. Made a great meal; sauteed fresh rock fish, broccoli, cauliflower, thyme, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, a pinch of lavender and some fresh orange juice. (I should call myself a "flexitarian" as we do have some fresh wild fish occasionally.) I exercised for twenty minutes again, yippee, twice in one week so far.

January 27, 2010

I did 20 minutes of exercise last night, whoo hoo! I do need to begin somewhere again. My job has a good way to help with the motivation. We are having a little Olympics, tracking our exercise and healthy living habits in a fun way. My boss decided to be a team captain, oh no! Since I like her so much and don't want to let her down, I better get started before the official start date of the Olympics, Feb. 8. I am looking forward to it, it's a welcome push.

 Last year we grew a beautiful garden for the first time in ten or more years. We had the opportunity to partake in the local community garden and thought that would help with our current stress. It sure did, there were times I realized I had been working in the dirt and didn't think about my son's problems for a couple hours. Not only did it help with the stress, we enjoyed it so much it almost became out outdoor living room. We worked it almost daily and were blessed with an abundance of wonderful vegetables and flowers all summer and into the fall and winter. Since we eat mostly produce, it saved lots of time and money at the farmer's market and grocery store. We also gave many vegetables away to just about everyone we know including local food banks. I am so looking forward to doing it again soon. I thought I would start my own plants this year indoors. We have lots of room and I can just turn our basement into a greenhouse.

I began a new book last night, The New Seed-Starters handbook. I don't do to well with fiction, I have a problem completing a lot of fiction books, but something informative about a subject I am interested in, I just zip right through. I dug right into this book and I am ready to hit the thrift stores in search of suitable seedling containers and materials for making a seedling rack. Hopefully I will find time this weekend to take a hike through the woods to gather some moss for my seedlings. I guess it is time to start artichokes, onions, and peppers. There is a nice schedule in the book which lets me know just when to start what. I am very excited about this project. I also recently read, Guided by the Moon, Living in Harmony with the Lunar Cycles. This book contained lots of information about when to plant, what to plant, when to harvest, and when to store my herbs and vegetables in accordance with the lunar cycles. I am going to have some fun with that, documenting the events according to the lunar cycles and see how that goes. I had no idea that herbs were more potent when harvested and stored at certain times of the month or even time of the day.

"To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and watch the renewal of life--this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do." Charles Dudley Warner

January 26, 2010


Up before the sun as usual and praying my attitude stays positive. My favorite week at work, the last week of the month and most is wrapping up the month and preparing for the crunch of month end and preparing the financial reports.

I need to start my exercise regularly. I was on such a good run with a personal goal of 300 minutes a week last year. I reached that goal a couple of times, averaging about 240 minutes a week. I lost 30 lb, but broke my ankle and that interrupted the nice roll I was on. Haven't gained any weight, even over the holidays, but haven't lost any either. That is due to the fact that I eat a 90% plant based diet. I let breaking my ankle be the excuse for not keeping it up. Well, the ankle is healing and there is no excuse. It worked nicely last year tracking my exercise minutes, I will try that again. My favorite is swimming, but the high school pool changed hours so it is inconvenient for me. I am thinking of checking out the Y. I know it's expensive, but swimming I WILL do. I do know that if it helps nothing else, exercise does help maintain a good attitude within.

My husband and I are working very hard at communication and sharing our hearts. We learned so very much about some of these things this year and how important they are.

" Love that does not renew itself every day becomes a habit and in turn a slavery"

Kahlil Gibran

January 24, 2010

And I Begin

I have never been to a prison and never went to visit anyone. This was my reality yesterday. What I feared for the last year, beginning last January actually happened. I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined my son in prison. He is a good person, a smart, polite, and thoughtful young man. He made a bad decision and this is where he lives for the next year. This has affected mine and my husband's life more than I could have ever known.

I would like this blog to be focused on my love for cooking and the quest for the interesting and healthy cuisine. I have been studying and learning about vegetarian and vegan life styles. I love to cook, but also want to avoid many of the diseases my family has suffered. I want to share books, links, and articles about healthy sustainable living. I care about the environment and want to learn more about how to do my part to help the cause. I am interested in gardening, we have learned to garden and grow much of our own food in the summer. I participate in a CSA and am very enthusiastic about the "Farm to Table Movement." I am somewhat of an artist, mostly a crafty woman and open to many styles of art and music.

But, as the title suggests, I am a bit eclectic and this blog will be eclectic. I hope I will be able to see some personal growth during the next year by writing about my thoughts as I go through the pain of seeing my son in an orange jumpsuit behind bars and more bars and barb wire. Since the very first moment we knew he was charged with a serious crime I have experienced anger, fear, and resentment like never before. Sometimes I handled it well, sometimes I didn't. During the ordeal of all the courtrooms, jails, attorneys, etc., and many of the other experiences with our "Just Us" system, I couldn't see that anything good would ever come of this. I feared for my relationship with my husband as many couples don't survive pain and tragedy like this. It definitely brought us closer, we came together as a couple who've been together for 24 years should. We had some upsets along the way, but we are getting through this together. We have learned to talk more and share our feelings and thoughts more. We will get through this as stronger people and I am beginning to understand and believe this.

I have been reminded that we cannot appreciate the calm without a storm. The storm is still rolling, but I am learning to handle it in different ways. Because the only thing I can control is how I handle a situation.

I am someone who prays the serenity prayer every day:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can and
the wisdom to know the difference.