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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Weekly Meal Plan 11/10-11/16

And then we got sick… I joked about last week’s menu looking like one written by someone who had a cold… I was apparently seeing the future. Our family has been passing around the most delightful illness. By midweek I was fevered and dizzy. The plan did not necessarily go as planned. The reality of that happening from time to time reminds me that it is always a good idea to have some fall back positions, especially the kind that only require heat in order to make food happen. Freezer food is your friend, especially if you have small germ factories in your house that make a daily deposit and withdrawal at the local public incubation system. We relied heavily on earlier efforts last week and as a result ate reasonably well in spite of my being completely out of commission. Mr. Little Sis is quite culinarily capable, but is strapped for time, so our freezer stock served us well. I will, over the next few weeks, make a concerted effort to include at least one very freezable meal (we have lots of ‘em here) in the plan and double the amount so I can restock for the next round. In the meantime, while I am still coughing, I am at least able to stand up and move around, so life goes on, and that means food. On with the weekly plan.

 photo 554b547c-c3c4-4c40-a2a6-51f6ad6ad77b.jpgMonday: Potato Pancakes (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) with Cashew Cream, Applesauce, Green Salad

Tuesday: Pakistani Lentil Kima, Spice Marinated Cherry Tomatoes(from Vegetarian Times), salad

Wednesday: Lentil. Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, Wheat Bread, Salad

Thursday: Zucheezy Noodles (didn’t happen last week and I really need to throw Ms. Picky Pants a bone here), sautéed green beans, cut veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable Chili, cornbread, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, green salad

Grown-Up Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup

Aspirational Dessert (If I am up to it, IOW): Mango Coconut Bread Pudding… yeah, it sounds great, but don’t count on it. I’m not.

That’s my plan for the week. I’d say I’m excited, but it would be more honest to say I’m just hoping this week I can actually do it. ;-) Hope you are virus free and all your meals are healthful and delicious!

Sweet Potato & Lime on Your Chip?

Basically, I’m beginning to think that sweet potato is like chocolate….. there seems to be very little that does not benefit from the addition of sweet potato.  I try to always keep some on hand because in and of themselves they are a great addition to any meal as a simple side (or with the addition of some walnuts a breakfast!).  Pop a sweet potato (or 4) in the oven if you have time, or the microwave if you don’t and 4 – 40 minutes later you have a delicious and healthy side that is even better with a little cinnamon sprinkled, a little coconut oil drizzled, a little salt scattered, yum.

One appreciates such simplicity when life is complicated by school and work and, well, life.  As a result of all the complications, lately I have not been very adventurous in creating whole new entrees.  (Or in posting – thank you Little Sis for picking up the slack!).  I hate receiving an unenthusiastic, “Oh,” or “Again?” when I answer queries about dinner.  But I have found that a great way to inspire new combos when I am uninspired is to try a new sauce or dip.  Pour or spread something flavorful on old standbys and suddenly it’s like a whole new thing.  I think dips are particularly nice because they also fill the bill with veggies or Ezekiel bread as a snack, or as a way to make a sandwich very special. Combine this idea with my love of sweet potatoes and I could not pass up this recipe that I found in an old issue of Vegetarian Times (I’m a little behind in my non-school reading!!). This sweet potato dip is rounded out in terms of flavor, consistency and protein content with some white miso and in terms of flavor with lime and ginger.  Simple, delicious and it was scooped onto tortilla chips and added to a tortilla with cheese and salsa in it’s debut in our household.

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Miso-Lime Sweet Potato Dip (from Vegetarian Times)

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. white miso paste (soy bean paste available in the refrigerated section of some groceries – also great for making miso soup!)
2 Tbsp. lime juice (I think next time I’ll cut down on the lime juice just a tad – maybe 1.5 Tbsp)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger (Freeze your fresh ginger root and it becomes very easy to grate and lasts a good long time!)
1/2 tsp lime zest for garnish (optional)
salt and pepper (optional)

Cook the sweet potatoes until very soft.
Cool until you can touch them then cut into chunks with skin on and toss in the food processor
Add the other ingredients and process until smooth.  You may have to add a little water – I added about 2 teaspoons – to desired consistency.

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Then dip, spread, slather and put it anywhere that might change the “Oh,” or “Again?” into, “That sounds interesting,” and eventually, “I like this!”  My son ate his in a tortilla with cheese and salsa.

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I was thinking the addition of some black beans (just open a can on a busy night!) would have been perfect.
Mr Bigg Sis and I complemented the last of the leftover chicken soup with the dip and chips.  Really made those last 2 bowls of chicken soup more interesting!

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If you would like to try some dips or sauces to easily add interest to the same old same old…. Here are some more to try! Happy Dipping and Spreading my friends!

Nutty Lunch Dip

Lemon-y Hummus Sauce

Cheddar Cheesy Cashew Ball / Spread

Easy Artichoke Dip

Orange Hummus

Bean & Green Spread

Prune Cardamom Sauce

Healthy Bechamel Sauce

Berry / Thyme Sauce

Happier Caramel-la Dipping Sauce

 

 

 

5 ways to beat a Halloween candy binge

Little Sis:

Still feeling the effects of Halloween? We were unfortunately NOT inundated with visitors. My homemade kettle corn went like hotcakes. The pretzels too. In a moment of panic the day before the big event, I bought a bag of candy in case we ran out of everything. Guess what’s still here? Tanya Zuckerbrot has some sound advice for moving past a sweets binge of any kind.

Originally posted on US Food Safety:

By Tanya Zuckerbrot

If you have kids or threw a Halloween party, there’s no doubt trick-or-cheating has sent your diet completely off the rails. Here are some simple ways to minimize the damage and get back on a healthy track:

Get back to normal eating habits

If you overdid it on sugary treats you may be feeling tired, jittery and have cravings for more sugar.  Nip that in the bud by eating clean, nutritious meals and snacks. Fill up on high-fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains that act like a detox, soaking up waste and ushering it out of your system. To take the guesswork out of what you are going to eat, plan your healthier meals and treats for the coming week.

Fill up on fiber and protein

Don’t skip meals thinking it will offset your candy splurge. Instead, have small meals that combine foods rich in protein and fiber, such…

View original 252 more words

Kicking the Asian Rice Up a Notch

 photo IMG_0940.jpgWe eat a lot of Asian styled meals around here. Our varia-bowl approach to eating works particularly well with Asian flavor profiles, and well Mr. Little Sis and I just love Asian food. Ms. Picky Pants, however is not a fan of rice. We’ve used quinoa, noodles, amaranth, polenta. We’ve done all that. But let’s face it, rice is cheaper than ALL that. So, while reading an issue of Vegetarian Times, I stumbled onto a new rice preparation that I thought was worth giving a go. Combined with a new sauce, we had a hit on our hands, at least for a couple of rounds. She is a changeable little thing.

The beauty of this rice prep is that you can use leftover rice and it’s largely hands off. You simply put it in a pan in the oven, wait, and bam, you have rice that is slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the perfect foundation for any rice friendly food you can think of. Continue reading

Macadamia Nuts, Apple Cider, and Sausage Products Recalled

FSNBRaw macadamia nuts recalled for salmonella. Details here. Unpasteurized apple cider for E. Coli, sold in Canada,  additional details here. Okay, so I blitzed through those, because I just had to get to this last one. My title was a little abbreviated. The actual description from Food Safety News was “sausage-like product.” I’d hoped to not have to ask what on earth as “sausage-like product” is, really. While I didn’t particularly want a description, I figured I’d encounter one. Near as I can tell these babies have a lot of rice in them, which perhaps takes them to some meat to “other” percentage that prevents them from being able to say just “sausage;” I seriously don’t know. At any rate, these particular food product items were subject to “temperature abuse” and “may contain an emetic toxin produced by Bacillus cereus” according to the FDA. I don’t know what that is either, but I’m pretty sure if the FDA says no go, I’m like get me the heck away from that. Feel free to read the details here, especially if you eat “sausage-like products.” Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan

Wild wacky weekend. For whatever reason the plans we made for our weekend required us to be outside for most of the day on Sunday. Sunday when it was chilly with a chance of bone chilling gale winds. Amazing the power that the wind has to make an otherwise reasonable weather day seem downright brutal. Mr. Little Sis lay on a blanket watching our little man’s last T-Ball game of the season – on the blanket to be lower than the wind. I shoved my hands in my pockets and stamped my feet up in the woods where my daughter was attending as a friend at “Bring a Friend” to Girl Scouts Outdoor Skills Day. I suspect the fact that it took me until bedtime yesterday to warm up has had some impact on this week’s meal plan, so if it looks like one made by someone who has a cold, forgive me. I don’t have a cold; I’m just making a seasonal adjustment. This week we’re looking forward to a shift to indoor sports (dance and basketball) and beginning to plan our holidays… yikes. In the meantime, I offer you my weekly culinary horizon. Continue reading

Oats, They’re Not Just for Breakfast

I told you a week or so ago (okay, it could have been last year, I have no idea) that I had become intrigued by the fact that people the world over eat some form of porridge and that they have it for lunch and dinner. Let me tell you what time of year is a good time for porridge for lunch and dinner – the time where it’s starting to give you lots of reason to believe that this winter may just well be as cold as the last, when leaves are crunching under foot (and blasting by in 40 mph gusts), and you’re digging in your sock drawer for that special pair you actually slip over other socks when things are really bad (just me?). I am a fan, a convert, and a chilly advocate of savory porridge.

 photo IMG_0915.jpgOur last porridge attempt was polenta, because I knew the mediterranean leaning would make it more approachable for my crew. This time I decided to go a little more full-on porridge by using oats.  In this preparation an ‘oats risotto.’ Let me confess right here that pretty much anything with ‘risotto’ in the title will get my interest, add oats to it and I’m downright intrigued. This particular oats risotto had mushrooms, walnuts and leeks. The original recipe can be found on this little treasure trove for those trying to increase their plant-based intake (or decrease their other), Meatless Monday. Continue reading