Weekly Menu 12/15-12/21

It has been an unpleasantly eventful week here at Lake PukeyVirus. The dreaded stomach bug that previously gripped the elementary school health room has found its way into our house and laid waste to us one by one. While all this healthful eating has made me feel better on a daily basis and has made me less likely to get all the allergy, cold, sinus infection stuff I was plagued with as a child, it doesn’t seem to make us immune to evil stomach bugs. So here we are, a raggedy band of worn out people without much appetite and without much tolerance for exotic and powerfully flavored dishes. I’m going to make a meal plan that favors gentle anti-inflammatory foods in delicious combinations. It’s a walk on the mild side…

Monday: Miso Soup with Rice Noodles

Tuesday: Kichadi, cut veggies

Wednesday: Naturally Sweet Sweet Potatoes, black beans and tortillas for those who are well enough, salad

Thursday: Lentil, Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, homemade bread, salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza (I’m hoping we’re up to this by then), cut veggies

Saturday: Carrot Ginger Soup, salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach and red sauce (“homemades and gravy”), salad

Lunchbox Treat: low sugar graham crackers, or for the more recovered Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Drops

Adult Lunches: I’ll be making nearly all these dishes in large quantities so we’ll have lunches and/or some to freeze.

I hope your week is full of good feeling, good flavors, and good friends.

Mushroom Gumbo (GF/V)

Don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the woods, but we’ve settled into pretty sustained soup and stew weather around here, which is just fine by me. I could eat soup every day and be totally happy about that. Unfortunately not all the members of my little tribe feel as universally friendly to soup as I do, so I am pretty constantly trying new versions to try to draw the resisters in. This week I thought I’d rely on the appeal of tomato based recipes and try something new. And so we did.

I found a gumbo recipe in my More With Less cookbook, which tends to offer a wide variety of flavor profiles in fairly simple recipes that don’t tend to rely on too many exotic ingredients. Sounds like a good way to go, eh? The original recipe was for chicken gumbo, but I decided to use sautéed mushrooms instead. We often replace meat with lentils or a lentil bulgur mixture, but having had a fair amount of those recently, I thought we’d put the umami of the mushrooms to work for us. The result? An approval rating of 75%, which is an A- for the cook in our house. Yes, we grade on a sliding scale based on reality. This gumbo, while originally called “spicy” was not particularly so, so if that’s your thing you should crank it up a bit in the chili department. On to the gumbo…

Mushroom Gumbo

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  • oil for the pot
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 T flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 large can or box chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c frozen okra
  • 2/3 c tomato paste
  • 3 c veggie broth or stock
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1 1/2 T soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • pinch dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 12 oz mushrooms, chopped into rough quarters (I used cremini)
  • 1 T gumbo file (no idea why I had this in the pantry, the original recipe says it is optional)
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • cooked rice for serving

Warm the oil in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add green pepper and sauté for an additional minute or so. Add 2 T flour and stir in, cook for another minute or so, stirring to prevent the flour mixture from burning. When peppers have begun to grown tender add the rest of the ingredients and bring to gentle boil. Drop heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes.

While stew is simmering, sauté mushrooms in a pan of warm oil with a dash of salt. Let them sit to brown a little – which means don’t turn them too much. When the mushrooms are browned, add to gumbo pot to simmer together. When gumbo is warmed through and flavors have developed, serve over rice with a sprinkle of parsley. Delish!

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Weekly Menu 12/8-12/14

You thought perhaps it had all caught up with me, all this silly menu planning promising, didn’t you? You thought I’d finally hit the wall. Well… I guess I did, but then I decided to scale it. Aren’t I tough? In truth I didn’t want to plan a menu today any more than I wanted to do laundry or get out of bed; however, I was compelled both by my promise to you and by the fact that I knew if I didn’t do the menu, I likely would continue only to feel worse about doing any of those things. A case of the blahs is not defeated by last minute ill-considered meal consumption, at least it’s not for me. So, with all of that undersell out of the way, I give you the week in food:

 photo f618fbe6-237f-44d3-aa49-4f134f91e5c6.jpgMonday: leftovers – what else can one do when the fridge is full of lots of single servings, the cook is tired, and there’s holiday decorating to be done?!

Tuesday: Shweet Potato Stew, brown bread, pickled carrots, and green salad

Wednesday: Green Bean and Potato Coconut Curry, cucumber slices, green salad

Thursday: Nutshroom Burgers, Sauteed Green Beans, Freezer Pickles, burger fixin’s

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Dinner with Friends – Yay!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach and a green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Sweet Potato Cookies (I will make lots and freeze some for the holiday crowd)

Adult Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup (Gotta keep that immunity up for the holidays!)

 

Hope your week goes swimmingly, or at least treadingly!

Weekly Meal Plan 12/1-12/7

Holy crow where is the time going?! I can’t believe I just typed those dates in… I sincerely hope you all have had a lovely weekend, and if you’re in the U.S. a superb Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our feast, spent some good time together, watched the kids play in the first snowfall and visited with old friends. We’re now working our way through what’s left of the leftovers and trying to get our heads around the fact that Christmas is around the proverbial corner. But even with leftovers and post/pre holiday chaos, there’s cooking to do and meals to eat, so while I’m a little late in the day, I’m keeping my promise to myself and those of you who heard me say it. ;-) A week of healthful yum for all of us.

Monday: Leftover Mashed Potato Soup, homemade wheat bread, green beans and green salad

Tuesday: Spicy Mushroom Gumbo (using a recipe in More with Less as guidance), brown rice, cut cucumbers, roasted root veggies

Wednesday:  Rockin’ GF Falafel, roasted potatoes, green salad with tahini dressing

Thursday: Leftoverlicious Lentil Casserole, steamed broccoli, cut cucumbers

Friday: Homemade Pizza, carrot fries, salad

Saturday: Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach (Moosewood Low Fat Favorites), Power Tabbouleh, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, red peppers and green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Joy Brownies

Parent Lunches: leftovers of all of the above as I will be making double batches :-)

Hope you all have a super duper week.

Weekly Meal Plan 11/24-11/30

Hey Friends! The idea of doing a meal plan this week is particularly daunting for some reason. As I think I’ve mentioned before, the holidays tend to put me in something of a state, and the closer the holiday, the harder it becomes to focus on anything but “the meal” or “the moment.” Perhaps then this is the most important kind of post to write. Perhaps taking a few minutes to focus on the other meals that we’ll be eating this week will help me gain perspective, will help me slow down a little and remember that every holiday is also a day amongst many others. That day will not be perfect no matter what I do, and being sure I am well nourished and balanced because of my efforts leading up to and away from that celebration can only help me relax and enjoy myself. WIth that in mind I will attempt to do slightly more than the slapdash job of a menu plan that I promised myself I would complete today. ;-) Or maybe it will be slapdash, but it will be done and that will be good enough. Even a quick plan full of healthy homemade food is better than nothing, right?

 photo 2268252a-418c-4369-a086-5da064f1dedf.jpgMonday: Varia Bowls with rice noodles (this didn’t happen last week due to a sick kid preventing rice noodle procurement), tofu and veggies (it’s 70 degrees here today?!)

Tuesday: Burritos with the last of the peppers from the garden

Wednesday: Mulligatawny Soup, Homemade Bread, Green Salad

Thursday: Thanksgiving (see this post for ideas about what we’ll be eating)

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Dinner with Friends – Yay!!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Spinach, Green Salad

You’ve likely noticed the repetitive homemade pizza and pasta phenomenon. These are two meals that my kids love (no shocker there) and that the big people in the house thoroughly enjoy as well. Because we stretch our kids so regularly with new and unusual foods, we greatly enjoy these regularly scheduled opportunities to enjoy a healthy homemade version of something they genuinely love. They eat. They don’t grouse. We eat. We don’t’ grouse. ;-) Grouse-free evenings are an important part of any family dining strategy. Here’s hoping that your holiday is low stress, delicious, and full of good times with good company.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Drops

I have many fond memories of peanut butter cookies. When I was young, a neighbor introduced me to Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. I don’t know if you remember them, or if they still make them. Even if they’ve faded from our collective retail opportunities, I will always remember them because when he asked his mother for one, it was always by full name, the whole shebang, from “Nutter” to “Cookie” with a “please” tacked on at the end. He was a polite and specific kid. These were peanut butter cookies for my young friend.

While I enjoyed those cookies (any food acquired from someone else’s Mom ranked high for me as it does with most little people), I admit that I greatly preferred my mother’s homemade peanut butter cookies. I’ve no idea what recipe she used or if she had any special tricks, but with four kids I’m guessing she used one from a well used copy of Betty Crocker or something and simply followed the instructions and finished them with the required fork cross on the top to press them a little flatter. That is a peanut butter cookie to me.

I later I had a friend who’s Mom was on the verge of opening a cake business. She was doing a lot of practicing and a lot of baking all around, and she introduced me to another popular peanut butter cookie. The chocolate drop. These are the round jobbies with a chocolate kiss in the middle pressed down to flatten the dough a bit and add that chocolate peanut butter magic. I can still be convinced that anything with chocolate is worth a try, so I happily helped taste test lots of these, which were peanut butter cookies for my friend.

In considering what sort of treat to make for lunches recently, I remembered a happy Halloween discovery. Ms. Picky Pants now likes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, at least she does right now. ;-) While I’m not particularly enthusiastic about these particular candies as they seem to have acquired a waxy/filminess that I don’t remember noticing in my own Trick or Treating days, I was happy to hear of her appreciation for the peanut butter/chocolate combo as this opens up many doors in the lunchbox treat department. And so I embarked on devising a peanut butter cookie for my little people. As usual, it became something of a exercise in revision mashed up with memory and a lot of tasting. I’ve discovered that omitting raw eggs from cookie dough has the slightly negative side effect of removing the only real barrier to eating the dough raw until you feel sick… but I digress. Without further wandering into my own raw cookie dough mishaps, I give you..

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Drops  – inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ “Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies” in Vegan with a Vengeance. – makes approx 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 c white wheat flour
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 1 c solid sweet (I used turbinado, you could mix white and brown)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 coconut milk (or whatever you like)
  • 2 t vanilla
  • approx. 36 large sized dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil baking sheets, or cheat and use parchment like I did.

This is pretty standard cookie procedure stuff. Mix the dry ingredients (not including the sugar). Mix the wet ingredients and the sugar in a large bowl. Add the dry to the wet and stir to combine. The dough will be on the stiff side. Make balls with about 2 T of dough. Place on baking sheet. Flatten with a fork by pressing in one direction and then the opposite. Think about someone who made you cookies when you were little. Add a dark chocolate chip to the top of each, pressing it in a bit so it will stick.

  

Bake in oven for 9-11 minutes or until just starting to brown. Let cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes so they will firm up. Continue cooling the ones you don’t consume on a wire rack. Delish!

Weekly Meal Plan 11/17-11/23

How we react to things is a really good indicator of our core, our essence, those fundamental and if not unchangeable, at least strongly resilient parts of ourselves. This last week we discovered (while having someone complete one repair on our heat system) that a significant section of our venting was, in fact, not even connected to the thing that makes the heat. We have lived here for over seven years.

My husband, in a display of his generously sunny disposition, responded with “Yay! It’s finally going to be warmer in a big section of the house.” And I know he’s right, and I’m happy about it too. But right there along with my happy, is a calculator of all the wasted heating dollars, and frustration with all the HVAC people who’ve been here before now… because REALLY?! So, it’s fixed, and as tonight it seems that winter has arrived, I’m happy about it too. Really I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want warm comfort food, because just like my dollar wasting calculator, my desire for comfort food is core, basic me-ness. I’m pretty sure both my love of comforting belly warming foods and frugal dishes show up in this menu. Hopefully all my sunny people will eat them and still stay their wonderful sunny selves. Hope your week reveals something essential about you that you just love.

 photo b4b5fa15-af38-4aaf-93a3-efb49641c748.jpgMonday: 30 Minute Bean and Bulgur Chili, Quinoa, Cornbread, Green Salad

Tuesday: Lentil/Bulgur Burgers, Roast Potatoes, Broccoli, Green Salad

Wednesday:  Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, Mixed Grain Bread, Green Salad

Thursday: Asian Varia Bowl with Rice Noodles, Veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, Cut Veggies

Saturday: Baked Butternut Squash Risotto, Green Beans, Green Salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Spinach and Pesto

Adult Lunches: leftover chili, leftover Cold Kickin’ Soup

Lunchbox Treat: Peanut Butter Crisp Cookies (yes, I will share this one…)

  

I had completely forgotten about those cookies. Yeah, I gotta go. Hope your week is as easy or as hard as you need it to be and that all of your vents are properly connected. Eat well, be well friends!

Healthier Holiday Foods: Thanksgiving Edition

It’s coming. The great big Thanksgikuhmas. We will be doing a lot of celebrating, and I assume many of you will be as well. I want to make it clear, despite our occasionally ascetic sounding screes about food in the modern world, Big Sis and I both do really love to eat. And most of all we really love to eat with family and friends. Over the years we’ve found that it is particularly helpful to have an arsenal of healthier foods to either create a super buffet out of or to bring as a contribution to someone else’s meal to help decrease the likelihood that we will not only overeat but we will not have any nutrition whilst we do that.

If you are leaning in a similar direction, or are just trying to stay out of elastic waisted pants this winter, you may find these suggestions helpful as part of your holiday scene. I’ve leaned in the Thanksgiving/Harvest/Fall flavor profile direction for this post since Thanksgiving is coming up so very quickly. I’ll try to offer some similar assistance during the later cold and dark time of December. For now, let’s all go make some hand turkeys and be grateful for friends and family, for our health, and for bountiful and delicious choices!

Starters

 

1. Mixed Grain Bread

2. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

3. Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Sides or Veggie Banquet Fare

4. Naturally Sweet Sweet Potatoes

5. Creamy Non-Dairy Mashed Potatoes

6. Bulgur PIlaf with Pine Nuts and Cranberries

7. Creamed Kale 

8. Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

9. Waldorf Saute

Desserts

10. Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

11. Sweet Potato Crusted Apple Pie 

12. Cranberry Apple Pecan Crunch

Almonds Recalled

FSNBRaw almonds sold through Whole Foods markets recalled because of a higher than average level of the natural chemical hydrogen cyanide. Not clear to me from these reports how that would happen, but something worth checking into for sure.  Check details on this one here and be sure to share with nut eating friends. Eat well, be well friends.

Sesame Whole Wheat Pancakes with Honeyed Oranges

It’s been a long time since I made pancakes around here. I noticed that having added chocolate chips a few times, the expectation from the little people became increasingly chocolate chip focused. They also, as a result of growth spurts, were a lot hungrier in the morning, and the need for speed was a driving factor in my pancake break. The lovely thing about taking a pancake break is that when you start to make them, everyone is happy to wait, very flexible about the kind of pancakes you make, and oh so excited to eat breakfast. And they didn’t even know how good they were going to be…

These pancakes were fantastic. Light and flavorful. Warm and comforting. The perfect platform for some chopped oranges with a little honey.

Sesame Whole Wheat Pancakes

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  • 3 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c chickpea flour
  • 1/3 c corn meal or polenta (oats would probably work too)
  • 1/3 c sesame seeds
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • fresh grated nutmeg to taste (I use a microplane)
  • 6 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 3 1/2 c coconut milk (or whatever kind you like)

Honeyed Oranges

I believe you can do this with any oranges. Personally I used clementines because we love them and I had them to hand. These “measurements” are really unimportant – do it how you like.

  • 4 small oranges
  • a 1/2-1 t honey

Procedure

If you have not pre-heated your pans via some overnight magic, I strongly suggest you do so first thing. Turn the oven to 300 (or so) and place oven safe pans (I use well seasoned cast iron) in the oven to warm). Why? See my full pancake method explanation here, or just take my word for it. Mix the dry ingredients. Gently heat coconut oil to liquify it. Mix the applesauce, banana and milk. Add these to the dry ingredients and stir until mostly combined. Add liquid coconut oil and stir to combine. Let rest for at least 10 minutes.

While the batter is resting, chop oranges into bite sized pieces. If you wanted to be really fancy, you could supreme them, but I rarely feel like being that fancy, especially in the morning. Drizzle with a small amount of honey and let sit. I used 4 clementines (very small) and less than a teaspoon of honey, just for reference. You should use what you like and prepare to taste.

After batter has rested, drop it by 1/4 c measure into warm lightly oiled pans. Wait until bubbles form and gently turn. Marvel at the beautiful color. Serve to hungry hordes with the oranges and watch breakfast disappear. Absolutely delish!

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