African Stew

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First and foremost, I have to say… I’ve become addicted to exercise!  I love it, I love it, I LOVE IT!!  I’m getting stronger and stronger.  I have noticed that I have more energy to do things around the house.  I can feel the absence of the weight that I’ve lost.  It’s just a GREAT feeling of health!  This is ALL worth it!

Today, I made African Stew.  I was introduced to this on Sunday when my family went over to our neighbor’s house to eat.  My neighbor’s sister was so excited about these new vegan recipes that she had just made, that she ran quickly to her house to get a sampling for Steve and I.  We were delighted with the new tastes and new possibilities for our diet.  So today, I decided to try out one of them.  This recipe came from the Forks Over Knives website (I take no credit for the recipe).  It’s an awesome website that everyone should visit.  http://forksoverknives.com

Here is the recipe (then I will explain):

½ cup water

1 onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoon(s) Anaheim or jalapeno pepper, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, ground

1 tablespoon garlic granules

2 teaspoons cumin, ground

2 teaspoons coriander, ground

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 yams, peeled and chopped

2 cups vegetable broth

24 ounces tomatoes, chopped

14 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

14 ounces black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup almond or peanut butter, unsweetened

1½ cup corn

6 cups collards, chopped

Serves: 6-8

Instructions:

In a large pot, sauté onion and pepper with water for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring

occasionally.

Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and red pepper.

Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Mix in yams, vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans and nut butter.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in corn and collards and cook for about 10 more minutes, until yams and greens are tender.

The first thing I did was chop up the onions, jalapenos, yams and collard greens

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Then I gathered the spices that I needed:

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I noticed that I did not have ground coriander, but rather coriander seed.  So, I came to the conclusion that I would have to do this the hard way.  I took out our HUGE mortar and pestal and began grinding away.  Oh my goodness the scent that these seeds gave off was just delightful!  It had a strong lemony smell, very pleasant.

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Earlier, I had soaked and cooked some black-eyed peas.  I took them out of the pot so they could be measured for the recipe.  Then, I grabbed a can of chick peas.

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When I grabbed the chick peas, I also grabbed the canned corn.  I was GREATLY distressed as I read the ingredients… SUGAR.  So I grabbed another can of corn.  Much to my dismay, the ingredients listed included SUGAR as well.  I was just about to run to the store AGAIN when I thought of the bag of freezer corn we had.  Reading through the ingredients provided a lot of relief…. NO ADDED SUGAR OR SALT! Just beware of the sugar content in canned corn please.

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Finally I took out our organic peanut butter (we have some JIF brand peanut butter for the boys).  It is unsalted and all natural.  Perfect!

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One more thing… my pride and joy!  The recipe called for 24 ounces of canned tomatoes.  I was glad to use the bottled tomatoes that Steve and I put up from our bounteous tomato harvest earlier this summer.  I actually included the whole jar.  I drained the tomatoes well, then chopped them up and threw them in the pot when the recipe called for it.

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Once my ingredients were all in place, I followed the recipe as outlined.  This recipe has lots of starchy vegetables (sweet potato, corn) and also peanut butter.  With this in mind, I limit myself to one cup (and yes I measure it!) a day.  I hope that you enjoy!  I know that I sure did :):)

Delicious Mexican Dinner

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Dinner tonight was fabulous!  I soaked some black bean this morning.  This afternoon I rinsed them, covered them with new water, and put in one chopped onion, and one chopped garlic clove.  After the water started boiling, I added about 1 tsp. ground cumin.  They had to cook on medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours.  DELICIOUS!  For the rice, I chopped 1/2 onion, 1 large jalapeno, and a good size handful of fresh cilantro.  I made sure these were chopped up nicely.  Then I measured one cup of vegetable broth, and 1 1/2 cups of water.  I put in one cup of brown rice.  I cooked it like normal rice.  I brought it to boil, then placed a lid on it and turned down the heat to low.  I let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Just divine!  We put the rice and beans over a bed of lettuce, then put tomatoes and avocados on top.  We garnished it with salsa and some cilantro/lime vinegrette fat free dressing.  SOOOOOO GOOD!!

Rainier Cherries

This is one of my all-time favorite summer treats.  The problem is, they can be kind of pricey.  Today I was shopping at Sam’s for my weekly produce when I spotted these. I admired them and drooled over them a bit before I noticed the price!  It had dropped one dollar since last week.  I decided to indulge and so I grabbed them quickly before I changed my mind.  Today, they were only $3.99 a pound.  The skin of this fruit is much more delicate than the regular Bing cherry (which I love as well) and the flavor of the flesh is milder, more mellow, and just divine.  I couldn’t help myself but to eat a few on my ride home from Beaumont.  If you haven’t tried these yet this summer, you might want to.  I think you will be pleased.

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Up to date weight loss and exercise commitment

Today is the beginning of week 4 for me and my health journey.  Steve and I began Eat to Live on July 1 (it is now July 22), and we have stuck to the program like glue!  I am happy to report that I am feeling more and more energetic, more happy, have a clearer mind, and just an overall sense of well being.  I do not feel cheated on what I get to eat, I feel liberated.  My cravings for sweets are gone.  I fulfill that desire now with fresh fruit.  We try to weigh every day, but count our weigh in on Sunday as the official.  I am happy to report that my weight loss from July 1 is a solid 18 pounds!  We have committed ourselves to 6 weeks of this program, yet I can see us carrying this further and further. Steve has lost 15 total.  I would encourage everyone to read the book “Eat to Live” and follow its principles.

I have committed myself to begin my exercise regimen this week as well.  I am pleased to report my progress.  I worked out on the elliptical machine at the Health and Wellness Center (no arms yet.. just my legs) on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.  Each time, I went for a total of 20 minutes, on the lowest resistance setting.  Furthermore, I went to the water aerobics morning class on Wednesday and Thursday.  I rested on Saturday and walked one mile down our road and West Lake this morning.  Ahhhhhh it is a challenge for me FOR SURE, but I feel so great after it’s all over!  I am committing to 6 days again this coming week.  Thank you for following my blog.  It’s feeds my enthusiasm for this.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Well, it looks like my bell pepper plants have resurrected themselves and are going for round 2!!  We have sooo many, I was not sure of what to do with them.  I remember my friend and co-worker Veronica talking about making stuffed bell peppers.  I haven’t had these since I was very small.  My mom made them once or twice.  And so…I began on a search for stuffed bell peppers that would fit my Fuhrman diet.  I found a few online, and tweaked them, and came up with this:

1/2 lb dried red kidney beans
1 cup brown rice
6 medium green peppers
3 Tbsp. vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 large celery (diced)
3 large carrots (diced)
1 large tomatoes (peeled & seeded)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tlbs. fresh parsley, chopped
freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Directions:

Rinse beans. Add 3-4 cups water and soak overnight. Drain beans,  cover with water and simmer until tender (30-40 minutes). Drain beans, set aside.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil. Add 1 cup rice. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes (or until all liquid is absorbed).

Put 3 tablespoons vegetable broth in frying pan and add the minced garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add onion, celery, and carrots (and additional vegetable broth if needed for moisture) and sauté for an additional 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and mix with the rice.

Add the seasonings (all the dried seasonings, pepper, and fresh parsley). Mix well. Mix in the beans.

Cut the tops off the green peppers and remove the seeds. Stand the peppers in shallow baking dish. Fill peppers with bean and rice mixture.

Dice tomato. Place the diced tomatoes over top of each pepper and top off each with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Cover dish and roast in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until peppers are tender.Yield: Serves 6
And here are some pictures:

Kale Chips with Lemon–My Favorite Snack

History of the vegetable: Kale dishes were frequented during WWII by Americans because it was easy to grow and it is PACKED with essential nutrients. After the war, it became less popular because of its “metallic taste and the fact that it turned into an unappealing green mush when boiled.” (Poulter, 2007)

…apparently nobody in the 1940s knew about KALE CHIPS.

Apparently since the war, there have been botanical improvements to the vegetable, therefore making it taste better. Seriously, this stuff tastes better than popcorn. I like to eat it on the couch with my husband while we watch movies on weekends. We hardly ever leave leftovers. Heck, if I’m alone, I’ll eat the whole head by myself!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of kale (I like to buy ones with crunchy, stiff leaves)
  • 1 tbsp light tasting olive oil
  • 1 dash of salt
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Using a colander, rinse off kale leaves while tearing away from stems into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Combine kale, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  4. Add seasoned kale to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Enjoy!

References:

Poulter, Sean (2007). World War Two vegetable comes back as ‘superfood’. Daily Mail 3. (On-line). Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-485506/World-War-Two-vegetable-comes-superfood.html.

Beans, beans, beans!!

Oh my goodness! I just made THE.BEST.BEAN.SOUP.EVER!!!  And I’m so proud of myself, I made it all up. I could not wait to blog about this, even though it’s late and past my bedtime!

I started off yesterday with some dried beans like in the picture above.  You can buy these already mixed like this in the dried beans section (next to rice, I believe).  They are packaged like that with a recipe and spices for soup.  I threw away the spices and opted for fresh veggies instead.  Let me (hopefully) come up with a recipe:

  • 2 cups dry bean mixture
  • 1 quart Swanson’s low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 green bell peppers (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 quart tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans in water overnight.  Drain and rinse.  Place the beans and vegetable stock in large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add chopped veggies, garlic, tomatoes and spices.  Simmer on low for about 1 1/2 hours.

DELICIOUS!!

This would be great paired with some brown rice!

Battling illness with the color orange

Due to the high level of stress associated with being a college student, I hereby pronounce myself a sniffling mucus monster. Being sick in the summer is the worst. 1. Nobody else is sick. 2. It’s so beautiful outside. 3. It’s hot, so snuggling up in a blanket has the effect of making things feel sticky and gruesome.

The good news is that the best remedy for this sickness is inexpensive and tasty.

Some side benefits: Carrots have been known to be “good for the eyes” due to their high content of hydrocarbon carotenoids. (Arscott and Tanumihardjo, 2010, p. 223). Nice to know that wasn’t just a wives tale. Apparently, the color of carrots used to be primarily purple and yellow! Next time you’re on a trivia game show, you can thank me.

“Increased levels of stress suppress the body’s immune function, and during these times many people tend to cuddle up with comfort food. For this reason, it is especially important to feed stress-related cravings with healthy foods that help build the immune system.” (sunkist.com) When I read this, a thought crossed my mind. How often do we just “throw in the towel” when we get sick, thinking that no matter what we eat or do, our sickness is going to run its course? I know I’m just as guilty as anybody, and I feel that it’s time for a change.

So next time you’re feeling the sniffles, remember to stock up on the color orange to help boost your immune system. Treat yourself to some yummy oranges, grapefruit, nectarines, mangoes, peaches, and carrots. The flavors are extremely satisfying, and the results are healthy! Your body will thank you.

References:

Arscott, Sara A. and Tanumihardjo, Sherry A. (2010). Carrots of Many Colors Provide Basic Nutrition and Bioavailable Phytochemicals Acting as a Functional Food. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and in Food Safety, 9, 223-239.

Garden Veggies… YUM!

Today, I went out to water my garden.  It is nearing the end of the harvest for us because the temperatures are too high, and the bugs are getting so bad.  We have had rain so bad for the past week or more, that I haven’t had to water it in so long.  I guess we haven’t picked much either because of the rain.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I brought in today.  Now… what to do with all of the peppers.  Well, in the first place, I needed to make my salad.  Imagine my excitement to be able to use veggies that had just BARELY been picked 🙂

You can just see the water oozing out of these.  They were SO CRISP and FRESH!  Delicious.  I made a delicious salad.

I added some fruit, and my lunch was complete!  So satisfying!  Now…. what to do with those peppers!  I will blog about those tomorrow 😉