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!

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