12 Healthful Freezer Faves

I confess that I love staying connected to my friends and family with Facebook.  It’s true. Social media is also useful when we get to see how much better other people function in situations in which we are… perhaps… slightly less super functional. A moment to explain. When I was pregnant, my interest in food and … Continue reading

Potatoes and Peasant Food

Potatoes get a bad rap, but truly they are victims in this turn of events.  They can’t help it that we tend to slather them with fat and/or dunk them in hot grease and eat the least healthy versions of them (big and white) in large quantities.  While potatoes are high in carbohydrates, there is fiber in the skin, so if you eat small potatoes, you get more skin (fiber and nutrients) and less starchy insides.  And if you eat colored potatoes you are also getting carotenoids and flavonoids which are nutritious and act as anti-oxidants.

Unfortunately, the little colored potatoes are more costly than the big white ones… but they are worth investigating.  You might be very surprised at how much more flavorful a small colored potato is than a big white one.  Makes it easier to skip the sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, bacon….. oh my.  I used to like that kind of thing on a baked potato – but your family just might like these with a touch of healthy oil and spices.

The pretty little buggers can be boiled, or roasted, or baked just like any other potato.  One of my favorite ways to prepare them is a double cook: baked, boiled or even microwaved, and then sliced and sauteed with some onion, possibly some greens and if you want, you can even throw in some scrambled eggs or meat if you eat it.

We always ate this one night on camping or backpacking trips when I was a kid and it was dubbed ‘peasant food.’

Peasant food is another of the quick throw what you have in a skillet for dinner ‘recipes’ that Little Sis and I have come to rely on when planning is lacking or life doesn’t go along with our carefully laid plans.  Okay, so that’s almost everyday, and that is why we have more than one sneaky quick dinner on hand.

In order to make peasant food quickly you have to have already cooked potatoes.  If you are brilliantly organized you might cook some potatoes at the beginning of every week, just to have for emergencies…. or you might be like me and just wash them, slice them and throw them in the microwave to soften them up before sauteing.  It is much easier to slice a cold potato than a hot one, so if microwaving, it is important to slice first.  If baking or boiling for future use, it is not necessary to pre-slice.

After you’ve got some soft potatoes, you are only about 15 minutes away from a meal.

Saute some onion, scallions or leeks if you like them in a Tbsp or 2 of oil.  I used some leftover leeks from a previous dinner


I’m not giving amounts because as I said, this is a fly-by-the-seat of your stovetop recipe… use what you got, or what you think is reasonable.

When the onion-y type stuff is getting translucent, add your potatoes along with some salt and pepper.  You can also add other spices if you like, I just relied on the flavor of the leeks, salt and pepper to improve the potatoes.

Cook over Medium heat until heated through and you have a little bit of browning action going on.

Throw in a couple of handfuls of any hardy greens you have around…. I used spinach…. you could try kale or swiss chard as well.

Cook until greens are wilted.

Now if you want to add scrambled eggs or chopped meat – I would add beaten eggs after the greens wilt, or meat when you add the potatoes.  We did not add anything but used the potatoes as a side dish.

P1010540-001Check out those gorgeous purple potatoes!!!  Hard to believe they are potatoes.  I may just have to take a stab at growing some of these bad boys this summer because they are really great.

Don’t get rid of potatoes…. just get rid of (or cut down on) french fries, chips and the fatty toppings.  What’s underneath is Food.  Real Food.

P1010541-001 Now excuse me while I go eat these beautiful purple potatoes.  Mmmm.

Sweet Potato Be-Crusted Quiche & Apple Pie – GF, DF

Why didn’t I think of this?  Do you ever say that?  I say it a lot, but I guess it means that at least I recognize genius when I see it.  In this case, Claire at Just Blither Blather thoughtfully shared her brilliance with the rest of us, and from her Collard Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust, I thought that what is good for the quiche is good for the pie, right?

Well, I hope so.  I’m typing this while sweet potato be-crusted quiche and apple pie are filling the house with wonderful aromas.  I did not follow Claire’s quiche recipe to the letter simply because I didn’t have all of the same ingredients, but hers looked and sounded so fabulous I didn’t want to wait.  I did however follow the crust instructions, and that is the beauty part of this whole experiment because I can think of lots of things to put in this crust!

So check out her recipe for the quiche as well as mine….

Sweet Potato Crusted Apple Pie

3 cups shredded sweet potato
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 375
Mix together ingredients and press into 9 – 10″ pie plate
Bake for 15 minutes

4 apples, chopped into chunks
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Pour filling into crust
Cover loosely with aluminum foil
Bake at 375 for about 35 – 45 minutes.  Peek, smell and listen 😉


So I started with dessert – it’s a plan that some people swear by….. but don’t worry – there is a main dish as well.

Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche
3 cups shredded sweet potato (I used the food processor)
A drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix sweet potato and a little olive oil and press into a 9 – 10″ pie plate
Bake for 15 minutes

1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
oil for saute
2 cups of vegetable of choice (I used shredded broccoli stem – yes I am that cheap- and some leeks)
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs
Splash of water
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent
Add the other veggies you are using and cook til a little tender
Add salt and pepper to taste
Claire used collards which sounds lovely, but I didn’t have any greens available, so I just went with the other veggies.  Use what you like or what yo know your family will eat!
Place veggies in crust after it comes out of the oven
Beat the eggs and splash of water together and pour over veggies
Bake at 375 for 35 – 45 minutes or until set.



Now we have eaten both of these ‘pies’ and they were both delicious! The pie is (as seems to be the case with my gluten free pie attempts), more of an inverted cobbler, but it is a very tasty inverted cobbler!  The sweet potato gets a bit chewy and crispy along the edges but it can’t hold a wedge together.  We didn’t mind.  The quiche holds together nicely.  It was a delicious meal with extra veggies at the bottom!

Breakfast Ice Cream OR Creamy Smoothies For All

IMG_0214If you’ve been playing a long for a while, you know that here at the pantry we simply LOVE smoothies, especially those that allow us to hide some super nutritious deep greens from our children…. Yeah, it’s probably dirty pool, but you only have to really hide them a couple of times before they no longer care what’s in there and will eat it up regardless.

We’ve had many, many a smoothie over the last few years, but I have to IMG_0205confess that my recent favorites include a decadent ingredient: avocado. In our recent smoothies, I’ve been adding the flesh from 1/2 and avocado, and it gives the smoothie (or breakfast ice cream if you use a little less liquid and don’t blend QUITE so vigorously) a distinctly ice cream-y quality.  Who wouldn’t want ice cream for breakfast?

Our recent formula goes a bit like this…

IMG_0212Breakfast Ice Cream

  • 3-4 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 3 cups deep greens (or more if you can get away with it)
  • frozen berries to top of blender container
  • 1 soup spoon honey (opt – we use if the berries are tart, i.e. raspberries)
  • non-dairy milk (we used coconut) until blend ability (usually 1.5 cups for us) or some other liquid of your choosing

IMG_0219We have a power blender, which makes all of this very easy.  If you have a standard blender, I would recommend starting with the liquid and the non-frozen ingredients, and then add the frozen ingredients slowly.  This makes a lot of breakfast ice cream, which is awesome, because if you have leftovers you can freeze and pack in a lunch or serve with a grapefruit spoon to someone with a sore throat.  Breakfast ice cream.  THAT’s living.

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Baby Step # 14: Add Some Nourishment

BabyStep14Bad weather brings out the survivor in us, doesn’t it?  Threats to our electricity, our ability to drive (with all the inherent loss of access to food and other stuff), ability to do our job, and our plans in general, are indeed very upsetting threats.   Some of us bring in the outdoor furniture or delicate plants, some of us check the batteries in the flashlights, some of us buy lots of bread and milk, some of us check the firewood, blankets and maybe even fuel supply for the generator.

It is a giant step in our culture to go from: “You deserve a break today….. Treat yourself….. A moment for you…… You deserve the best…… Because you’re worth it” and all the other attempts by advertisers to get us to reward ourselves by purchasing their products to: “Batten down the hatches!”  We don’t have to batten down very often, do we?  Left to our own devices and the influence of Madison Avenue we’ve become quite accustomed to having our favorite food or at least something we genuinely like when we eat.  Every time we eat.  Why not?  Who wouldn’t choose what they like over what they dislike? Restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines and the center aisles of the grocery store are all too happy to provide our favorites, with plenty of questionable additives to keep them from spoiling and to make them easy to prepare.

My fellow nurses and I marvel over the number of patients who will say, “I can’t eat that”, or “I don’t eat that” when offered hospital food, not because of allergies or being vegetarian, or gluten-free, but simply because they don’t like it, or it’s not what they are used to or not the way they usually fix it.  Why should the nurses be surprised?  Nurses are surprised because nursing is a fast-paced ‘batten down the hatches’ kind of job.  With far too many tasks to complete in far too little time, we are in survival – and patient survival! – mode.  As a result, we just don’t always understand that patients who are recovering or depressed or feeling lousy but not in danger, continue to behave within the rules of this culture.  “You deserve something that you like, why not your favorite?”  And so when the patient complains about the food, we ask them what they want, call the fine people in nutritional services, get the patient’s request filled if at all possible, (no matter if it’s not terribly healthy), and then make jokes in the nurses station about how we work in a spa rather than a hospital.   (Some of the high cost of American health care, this spa mentality, but we won’t go there today).

I am not trying to say these patients’ behavior is bad or wrong, it is our culture and it is what it is, but it does offer some insight into the difficulty of improving eating habits and trying to maintain a healthy weight in this American culture.  How is a person supposed to feel satisfied by a meal or a snack if that meal or snack represents less than what one likes, or is less than is ‘deserved,’ or somehow less than what society says is good, best or one’s right?

I believe that part of the battle for creating a healthy lifestyle is identifying what nourishes you.  Taste buds are not the only players in the satisfaction game.  A nourishing meal or experience is satisfying because you have been nourished, i.e., your body, mind or spirit has been strengthened, guided, fed, nurtured, sustained, encouraged, cultivated, supported, fostered, developed and/or promoted.   I’d like to see a McDonald’s french fry do that all by itself.  Mind you, a McDonald’s french fry eaten with friends….. or after basketball practice….. or on a date…… or any other physically, emotionally or spiritually fulfilling activity is another story.  So, it’s not always the french fry that satisfied you, but the company or the circumstances in which you ate that fry.

Baby Step #14: Add Some Nourishment

What Nourishes You?

To add some nourishment, you have to figure out what nourishes you. Consider the following:
– What makes you feel good for a prolonged period of time?  What do you talk or think about a day, a week, or a year later?  I bet it’s not the french fry.
– Why do you find unhealthy food (pick your fave) satisfying?  Is it the convenience?  Is it buying something?  Is it the restaurant atmosphere or sneaking something once the kids have gone to bed?  Is it the taste, the texture?  Is it having someone make something for you?  Does it represent a break from an activity that you find difficult or draining?
– Do you plan nourishing activities to feed yourself and possibly your family in body, mind and spirit?

If you can recognize some truths about what nourishes you, it might be easier to get more nourishment and less ‘processed food Ka-Pow sugar/fat and salt taste’ into your life.

Check your self-worth.

In order to add some nourishment, you must believe that you are worth nourishing.  It is easier to believe that you are worth nourishing when you are well nourished.  “Them that’s got, shall get,” right?  Kind of twisted, but I believe it’s true.  It’s like smiling at yourself in the mirror when you don’t feel very up.  It makes you feel better.  Steve Martin says you can’t play a sad song on the banjo.  It’s also hard to be sad when you are smiling.  It’s also hard to choose unhealthy food once you have experienced nourishment.  But you have to pay attention.  You can’t attribute feelings, behavior and choices to feelings, behavior and choices unless you are paying attention.

So again, ask yourself:

“Why do I choose what I choose?”
“Am I trying to nourish myself?” – remember all of those wonderful meanings of nourished: strengthened, guided, fed, nurtured, sustained, encouraged, cultivated, supported, fostered, developed and/or promoted.”
“What nourishes me?”
“How do I get more of what nourishes me in my life?”


Sometimes after work when I’ve been out of the house for 14 hours and running around for about 11 of those I get home and feel ravenously hungry.  If I don’t pay attention I will overeat and sometimes choose the least healthy option in the house before realizing that I’m full and not running and my feet hurt less and I can slow down and take care of myself.  I just caught myself doing it again last night, so I’m going to pack one last healthy item in my lunch bag to eat on the way home.  That will take the edge off of feeling ravenous and allow me to come into the house and nourish myself by sitting down, relaxing and catching up with my husband and son.  They nourish me (when I spend time with them!!).  Allowing myself to be still after a very busy day nourishes me.  Reading nourishes me.  Making things nourishes me.  Meditating/Praying nourishes me.  So many things other than a quick fix of a Ka-Pow dose of sugar, fat or salt nourish me.  And it is lovely when I pay attention and care for myself enough to seek out nourishment over satisfaction.

Practice and Experiment with Conscious Choices

I am not suggesting that you should not choose to eat what you like to eat, but I am suggesting that consciousness about your choices may make you aware of more choices, both food and non-food, available to you.  If they are nourishing choices, you may ultimately find them to be more satisfying than what you currently choose.  I often use Lent as a time to remind myself of what a certain indulgence means in my life.  When I give it up, I either miss it terribly or find that it was not so important to me after all.  That is how I was able to reduce my sugar intake.  I found that after 40 days of nothing sweet I found most sweets unappetizingly sweet and by the end I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would.  Giving up fiction did not have the same result.  I missed it very much and appreciated it more when I returned to it.  In fact, I think I chose my books more carefully because I wanted to read really good books.  Since those days of Lenten deprivation I have found it very helpful to ADD something for Lent – some devotional practice or amount of quiet time or time spent to help others and I find that to be very nourishing. What could you give up or add to challenge your conscious decision-making?

Baby Step #14 is really a life-long journey, but even long journeys can be taken in baby steps.  I certainly have made steps forward and backwards in learning what, and then pursuing, what nourishes me.  ‘Batten down the hatches’ can take us to survival mode when we know what is important to basic survival.  Finding and pursuing what nourishes us in body, mind and spirit can help us survive and grow with grace and with respect for ourselves and for others.  It’s not easy.  I have to remind myself that like all of the baby steps, a baby step forward is still a step forward.  In fact it nourishes me to attempt, to succeed, to fail, and to try again.  I remember and treasure this process long after the memory of tasty treats has faded.

I encourage you to figure out what nourishes you and to add some more nourishment to your life.

For Your Good Neighbor… Cookies to Share

I know Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I should have something heart shaped for you, but right now I have to confess I’m thinking more about my neighbor than I am about my sweetie. Let me explain…

When we moved here 6 years ago, there were a variety of features of our property that didn’t register as they probably should have.  For example, I might have expected that a house on “Slate Hill Pl.” might not offer the most friable garden soil in the region. I might have investigated how difficult it would be to remove a urinal. I also really could have taken a moment to notice how VERY VERY long my driveway is.

Out of cheapness and a determination to prove my ruggedness, I forbade Mr. Little Sis to purchase some kind of machine to help us with the snow that might arrive on this driveway.  For years my stubbornness bore few consequences, with the exception of one very long weekend of 4 feet of snow assisted by very kind and forgiving friends.

Enter the winter of 2013-2014. I’m reasonably certain we’ve had more individual snowfalls this year than we had over the last 3 years combined. The good news is that last year my resolve diminished during a holiday sale and we obtained machinery to help deal with precipitation on our VERY VERY long driveway. Ironically, my neighbor (who has an EVEN LONGER driveway) obtained an even larger, and faster snow moving machine.

So where are we going with all this (and WHEN DO WE GET THE COOKIES)? My wonderful neighbor, if he begins his task first, comes and does our driveway with his super fast machine, “to get us started.” His boost amounts to a good 75% of the work, and so Mr. Little Sis is freed up to go help another neighbor, who is a tough old bird, but will for some reason, let Mr. Little Sis (and no other neighbor) clear her drive. What happened when Mr. Little Sis was away during a storm? My neighbor plowed my drive, and another neighbor snuck out pre-dawn and shoveled out Ms. Mary. And the kids and I made cookies for everyone. Sometimes a little snow brings out the best in all of us.

So make ’em for your favorite neighbor, make ’em for your sweetie, make ’em for yourself. These are lower in sugar than the average cookie, although they are admittedly higher in chocolate than most chocolate chip cookies.  These are a true treat – one will do and will be a real thank you to whoever deserves it the most.

Good Neighbor Chocolate Chip Cookies (DF) – makes enough to share

  • 3/4 c coconut oilIMG_0146
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 c turbinado or coconut sugar
  • 4 flax eggs (4 Tbs flax meal + 12 Tbs water)
  • 4 t vanilla
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and pastry flour. Set aside.  In stand mixer bowl or large bowl, mix together coconut oil, applesauce, and sugar.  Beat until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and continue to mix until it looks like cookie batter.  Add mix ins and combine.

IMG_0132 IMG_0134 IMG_0136

Drop in cookie sized gobs (I use a cookie batter scoop) onto a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 2 minutes ON the cookie sheet and then remove to wire racks.

IMG_0141 IMG_0143 IMG_0146

WOW. Okay, that’s not the healthiest thing I’ve ever made, but daggone they are good.  Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Snow Day. Happy Neighborhood.

Almost 9 MIllion Pounds of Beef Recalled: “Unfit for Human Consumption”

FSNBNine Million Pounds. Maybe you don’t eat beef, or don’t eat it much… I’m willing to bet you know folks who do.  The amounts being recalled in this and the last beef recall I posted make it imperative to share with as many people as possible. These products were made with “diseased and unsound animals.” If you are in California, Florida, Illionois, or Texas  in particular you should check the list for specific products and markings to be aware of. Blech. Eat well, be well.

Carrot Ginger Soup … because you know you want more soup!

Okay, so we are definitely thinking about re-naming the pantry The Sweet Potato and Soup Sisters because we’ve shared so many soup and sweet potato recipes, but what could possibly be wrong with that?  Seriously, as we were driving home from TaeKwonDo testing on this cold morning…. after sitting on a cold gym floor waiting our turn to do forms and spar and break boards, I kept thinking how nice it would be to have some soup.  I would have sat in some if it wouldn’t have stained my uniform!!

At any rate, watching my young man be attacked by 2 high level teenage female black belts, I couldn’t be sure what he was thinking but I’m certain it was not about soup.  I am also certain he was not thinking about vegetables.  No, really!  I’m quite sure!  However, I know that I can think about slipping lots of vegetables into that growing body by incorporating them into soup.  And he and his growing body love this soup, as does Mr. Bigg Sis (who prefers that his body not grow anymore).  Vegetables in soup fill the bill for both growing and ‘trying to stay relatively the same size’ bodies.   So slurp on!!

This easy to make soup is an adaptation of a soup in the Vita Mix recipe book.  The original uses tofu, but tofu is on the list of inflammatory foods that hubby is supposed to avoid.  I decided to use cashews for protein, made a few other changes and I think you will enjoy the results.  We certainly did!  And if anyone breaks into our house to steal the soup, my son and I are ready to fight them for it!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Chopping can be chunky as eventually it will all be ground up
3/4 cup cashew pieces soaked overnight in 1 cup water
5 cup chopped carrots (does not need to be chopped fine)
1 cup chopped onion
6 small garlic cloves – or a couple of big honkers (chopped)
1 tsp olive or other oil you prefer
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (keeping ginger root in the freezer makes it easy to grate)
1 – 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

After chopping veggies, saute them in the oil until slightly tender and onions translucent.
Add to high powered blender along with 1 cup stock, ginger and salt.
Transfer to soup pot on stove to keep warm.


Okay – so it’s not looking too creamy yet….. hold onto your cold tushie over there!

Place cashews and water in blender (no need to wash blender) and puree on high until smooth and creamy.
Add to soup pot and stir.
Add more stock if desired to achieve desired consistency.
Serve with bread or potatoes or crackers or cold TaeKwonDo people…. or rather to cold TaeKwonDo people.


This is yummy but I do hope that soon the weather will turn our thoughts from soup to …. aw heck, I eat soup all year!  Perhaps in the next few months we will be able to share some lukewarm or chilled soups.   But for now – I give you a hearty, healthy hot soup.

Pet Food Recall for Salmonella

FSNBI know this is not an area we usually focus on, but the big dog sleeping with his head on my lap insists that I share this Pro-Pet pet food recall with you.  There are a few different brands/labels involved, so please check the details if you are at all uncertain who makes the food (not what it’s called) your companion eats.