Real. Good. Fud.

and other joys in life


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I love Italian!

Italian food is my very favorite.  I don’t cook it enough; not sure why!  Another goal of mine this year is to make homemade pasta.  I’ve never attempted before, so any tips would be appreciated!  In the meantime, I would like to share a recipe for my favorite part of Italian; red sauce. 

Marinara Sauce:

It’s always a little different, depending on what I have on hand, but basically here it is:

Sauté an onion in olive oil until tender.  Add about 1 cup chopped carrots and about 3-4 cloves minced garlic.   Add lots of tomatoesJ.  I typically add about 4 cans with juices (or fresh in the summer, when they are tasty); sometimes I just use salt free diced, sometimes stewed, or fire roasted (Muir Glen is the brand I prefer).  Then, I season it all with whatever sounds good… usually some pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, maybe some paprika and red pepper flakes if I want it a little spicy.  (If using fresh herbs, don’t add those yet).  Put 1 can of tomato paste in and stir well.  Then put some chicken broth in; if you like a thick, rich sauce just add about ¼ cup; if you like thinner, runnier sauce add more.  Stir this all together and let it simmer for a while; the longer the better- I usually let it go for about 1 hour to marry all the flavors.  When ready, add any fresh herbs, maybe a little more dried if you aren’t using any fresh to give it ‘layers’ of flavor.  Finally, blend together! An immersion blender works wonders for this, so you don’t have to pour and splatter tomatoes all over yourself. 

PS- I sometimes use this to make tomato soup, as well.  For that, I just take the leftover marinara sauce, add some chicken broth and let it simmer (along with any other flavors, maybe some more garlic or spice).  Stir in some plain yogurt for creaminess; I use 1-2 spoonfuls.

Meatballs:

Stir together fresh bread crumbs, diced sweet potatoes (or carrots), onions, and garlic. Season the mixture with cilantro, paprika, chili powder, pepper and chipotle Tabasco sauce.  Add 1 whisked egg and 1 ½ pounds of meat.  Shape into balls and cook about 30 minutes on 350.  For stuffed meatballs, just shape into a flat disk and put a ball of cheese in the center (goat and mozzarella work great).  Then mold the meat around the cheese, adding more as needed to fill in gaps.  Squeeze it to form, and bake for about 40 minutes.

For the sauce, I just mixed together some tomato paste and basil pesto.  You could also top with a meatloaf sauce or marinara!

These dishes are a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet! Both recipes have some carrots or sweet potatoes along with tomatoes.  Don’t be afraid to stir in some chopped spinach!

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New Year Part 2

      I previously established my belief that everyone should have a goal to try new foods this year!  But what other goals do you have for 2012?  Here are my food-related ambitions for the New Year.

      Try new foods.  My sister got me a cookbook for Christmas from Kansas City’s refugee outreach.  It contains recipes from all over the world.  Specifically, I’d like to try a new cuisine from a different country at least once a month.  I’m also going to venture into the world of super foods and herbs more.  I tried the burdock root.  Next is spirulina.  This actually comes in powder or capsule form, so it’s not exactly trying something new.  I plan to add it to my juices/smoothies.  Our local health-food store, Mama Jean’s, gets all kinds of ‘adventurous’ produce, such as burdock root!  Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up something you’ve never tried before. When you get home, research the new food and how it can be eaten or cooked.  Look at it as an adventure!

      Something else I want to try is using more fresh herbs.  I’ve used some basics in the past; basil, thyme, dill.  But, I always find they go bad before used up.  I heard a tip to put chopped fresh herbs in ice cube trays and freeze.  Hopefully that will help.  I also want an herb garden at home.  This way, I won’t have to buy a whole bunch, but can just pick what I need for the day!

      Eat more raw food.  I am going to try to eat at least one raw dish each meal.  Often this will be fruit for breakfast, for lunch this will be a salad or at least raw peppers, carrots, etc.  I will then have a smoothie or juice with vegetables and fruits before, after or with dinner. 

      Make homemade pasta.

      How do you plan to better your health and eating habits this year?  If you need motivation, I encourage you to watch the documentaries I reviewed, or any similar.  Do you want to eat less meat, using beans and other protein sources more?  Maybe incorporate whole grains in your diet, replacing refined ‘grains’; white flour, pasta, depleted cereals.  Eat less sugar?  Think about all the foods that contain hidden sugar; salad dressing, pasta sauce, cereal, granola bars.  How about eating more fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables; avoiding processed foods.  Perhaps you just want to be more conscious of what goes into your body.  This would include reading labels; not just the calories and fat, but especially looking at the ingredients.  I’d love to hear from you regarding your plans to make your body smile this year!  I can share some tips that may help you achieve these goals, and perhaps you could do the same for mine! 

Here’s to a happy New Year!!


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New Year Part 1

  It’s a week into the New Year; can you believe it’s 2012?!  I cannot.  But, it is here.  I’m not really one to make ‘resolutions’, but I am a goal setter.  I like to challenge myself; I always need something to work towards.  What better time to set some goals and evaluate where you are at than a new, fresh year?

      I have a challenge for you.  Try some new foods.  For some people, this may be incorporating vegetables into your life.  For others, this could be trying out some exotic foods.  This is a goal for me this year.  Today I bought some burdock root.  Don’t feel alone if you’ve never heard of burdock root (I hadn’t until I saw it in the store!).  It’s a root found in Asia, and “traditionally, burdock has been used as a remedy for measles, arthritis, tonsillitis, viruses like colds, throat pain, and as a diuretic. In modern times, burdock is also used in oncology and to treat many other serious health problems.”(from naturalherbsguide.com)  It is often eaten like a vegetable, common in stir fry dishes.  It contains iron, inulin and beneficial oils.  It can be used as a gentle laxative and to eradicate uric acid.  Burdock root has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and helps the body eliminate toxins.  And amazingly, it tastes pretty good! I tried a bite of it raw; it’s a little sweet, kind of herbal-tasting.  I ground it up into a kind of paste, and plan to put it in juices.  But, I will probably buy more in the future and try it in Asian stir fry!

      Today I also bought some flax seed, a pomegranate, raw cocoa and some fresh ginger to put into juices and smoothies.  I won’t go into it, but these all have some incredible health properties as well!

      So maybe burdock root is a little radical for you.  Maybe you don’t even enjoy many ‘typical’ vegetables.  This used to be me! I was an incredibly picky eater (and unhealthy).  In high school my typical lunch was pizza, a fudge round and diet Pepsi.  The only fruits and vegetables I ever ate were corn, potatoes, green beans and bananas.  I never ate a salad, until about 5 years ago.  Now I know how incredibly much I missed out on for the first 18 years of life!  So if you don’t think you like vegetables and find it difficult to eat healthy, there is hope.  I promise!  Here are some tips for getting started:

      Start incorporating mild vegetables into dishes you already enjoy.  Casseroles and soups are great for this.  For example, last night I made bean and barley soup; I used leftover tomato soup with chicken stock, and added broccoli and peppers.  Add some chopped spinach or zucchini to your lasagna.  Put some carrots and tomatoes in your meatloaf.  A great resource is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  She purees cooked veggies and puts them in all sorts of dishes to get her kids to eat more.  It works for adults too! It often even adds to the dish.  For example, she puts cauliflower puree into her mashed potatoes, butternut squash in macaroni and cheese, and even chickpeas in her chocolate chip cookies.  The secret is cooking them yourself and making them according to your taste.  If you like garlic, add lots of garlic.  Eventually you can add more and more veggies without having to ‘disguise’ them too much!  And try different ways of cooking; try steaming, sautéing, roasting.  Add them to rice, potatoes, pasta.  Just get creative, and I promise you will find yourself enjoying vegetables.

      Keep me updated! If you are one of these folk who think you have an aversion to vegetables, give them a try.  And let me know what works.  If you are adventurous enough to give burdock root a try, let me know what you think!


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Food Matters

  I have some new recipes to share, but I would first like to share some newfound motivation and knowledge.  Tyler and I recently watched two documentaries, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Food Matters.  Really they didn’t give any life-changing newfound knowledge, but reminded us of some important things and certainly gave us motivation to eat even better! 

The first, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was about a guy from Australia who was overweight and suffered from a debilitating autoimmune disorder the doctors were unable to cure.  He was on a ton of daily meds, including high dosage Prednisone.  He decided to do something radical and “reboot”.  For 60 days, he ‘fasted’; only drinking juice he made himself from fruits and vegetables. He lost a ton of weight, and his disease was cured.  He traveled America during this fast, and met a truck driver whom he inspired to do the juice fast as well.  This man had the same disease and was morbidly obese.  He lost over 200 pounds, and also cured his disease.  I’ve heard of juicing before, did some research and we made our own juices for a while.  I am happy that we watched this, because today I am going grocery shopping and am stocking up on juicing ingredients once again!  Now, these guys were radical, and it was probably necessary in their situation.  But the moral of the story is to eat fresh food.  That really shouldn’t be too radical, even though the sad truth is that it is to a lot of people. 

So why juicing?  Well, I am no expert, but one of the main reasons why is because you get more fruits and veggies in.  You can get a lot of produce into one glass of juice.  Also, as the next documentary discusses, it is important that a high amount of this produce be consumed raw.  If you’re like me, this is tricky.  I love salads, but am not a huge fan of raw carrots, celery, broccoli etc.  When you juice, not only do you consume the produce in raw form, but the juicing process helps your body absorb more of the nutrients.  And there are so many different things you can do with juicing!  Some quick examples/how to’s:

A juicer probably works best, but I use my blender.  For now, this works just fine.

I use a lot of frozen veggies and fruit.  This makes a cold juice, and they contain more of the original nutrients that are often lost in the shipping of fresh produce.

Be creative- check out this guy’s site or the various other’s for recipes, but put whatever you like in there!  I typically begin with a banana and some leafy greens, especially kale and spinach.  Then add some liquid- water or green tea.  Add whatever fruits you want; berries work great, apples, oranges, mangoes, peaches… the list is endless!  My list of things to try out is carrots, avocadoes, and superfoods that I wouldn’t normally eat.  And if you are looking for something heartier, maybe for breakfast add some granola or oats!  For a treat, add some raw cocoa.  The key is to add lots of veggies, then fruit to make it taste delicious.  And believe me, yummy it is.

Food Mattters was wonderful.  Again, the moral of the story was to eat natural foods.  There were several important topics covered.  One was the importance of raw food.  Like mentioned before, I prefer cooked food (exception: sushi!).  But, your gut has a hard time with some of these cooked foods, not to mention they lose lots of the nutrients even when lightly steamed.  I already typically eat a salad for/with lunch.  My goal is to add a juice at least in the morning, and preferably one with dinner as well.  The guy in the movie says each meal should be at least 55% raw. 

The bulk of the movie emphasizes our ‘health’ care system.  Now, this is something I have strong opinions about, and will attempt to share a few key points without going overboard here (you should watch the movie for that!).  First and foremost, our ‘health’ care system is really a disease management system.  As a disclaimer, I have to say that there are some great achievements we have made in medicine, and I am by no means against it all.  If I get in a car accident, please take me to the ER!  But, did you know that doctors learn very little if anything in medical school about nutrition?  And what they do learn is rarely used in practice.  Sure, they may recommend eat more of this and less of that, but they then prescribe you a medicine to help you out.  So the message is that you need the drug, regardless of your lifestyle.  “A pill for the ill”.  But have you ever considered the body’s amazing ability to heal itself?  Provide it with nourishment, and it will heal itself.  The movie gives some great examples of this, especially dealing with cancer and including intensive vitamin therapy.  So, to make a long story short, we have spent billions upon billions of dollars on medical research.  And there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress.  Maybe we’ve developed a few drugs to deal with some symptoms, but the underlying problems are still there.  And those drugs have likely caused a whole new set of problems from the side effects. 

A final word.  I truly believe in the miracle of nourishing the body with quality vitamins and nutrients, especially by consuming real, good food.  Call me crazy, but I really do believe it is the answer to most chronic diseases.  Please watch the documentaries (they are on Netflix!) if you are at all interested in learning more.  But, say it is a lot of hype. Say these people, myself included, are a little crazy.  At the very least, I can promise that real food and vitamins and minerals aren’t going to cause any adverse side effects.  They aren’t going to harm you.  So why not give it a try? We jump at the chance of trying out a pill, one that has documented side effects.  Just remember, you really are what you eat.  I really enjoy eating.  I believe that enjoying food comes second to the primary purpose of nourishing your body.  If you do it right, they come hand in hand- nourishing your body and enjoying every bite.