Tag Archives: Cook

Tasty Thursday: Moroccan Stew

This past several days have been unbelievably hot in San Diego. Every year winter comes and goes and I forget the feeling of sweat-soaked clothing on my skin. Not terribly comfortable for the woman who regularly wears black polyester pants (we’re getting close to laundry day here).

However! I’ve had the veggies for this recipe almost a week now. They were on the verge of going bad. So we sat in our sweltering apartment and ate hot stew. Oddly enough, it made us feel cooler! I have heard that when you eat hot food, it heats your body temperature and there’s not such a huge difference between you and the air. Hmmmm…

Regardless, I would have eaten this stew even if it made me sweat like a Scotsman at a charity fundraiser. In other words: it’s delicious. Chunky and thick and SO tasty.

I’m trying to teach myself a few recipes to prep on Sunday nights and crockpot cook it on Monday while I’m at work. It makes our late track riding clinic much easier to handle if dinner is ready when we get home. You could do it in a pot though. Just try it, however you decide to cook it.

MoroccanStew Continue reading

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Tasty Recipe: Pineapple Shrimp Skewers

This last weekend, my friend in our apartment complex (lovingly dubbed “the courtyard”) organized a cookout/ movie night. She acquired a projector, organized the potluck, and set up all the fixin’s. We grilled and ate our weight in meat, pasta salad, and veggies, then watched a movie outside in the courtyard.

The courtyard houses some pretty awesome people and we had a great laugh. The best part was being close enough to use our own bathroom, grab a glass of water, and not have to worry about the journey home.

Anyway, I decided to try the shrimp skewers Bonnie perfected for us a few weeks ago in Maine. I tweaked Bonnie’s recipe a bit because I love grilled pineapple. The marinade was amazing and the overall product was delicious. It’s really simple and assembling the skewers can be a social activity. This is a great one. Enjoy 🙂

Pineapple Shrimp Skewers Continue reading

Super Simple Spring-Time Roasted Veggies

In my pursuit to cut out grains and add lots of veggies, I’ve started subbing one for the other. Roasted veggies are a fabulous base for dishes like Tikka Masala, a fabulous topping for salads to make them warm and savory, and a fabulous side to any protein dish. They fill you up and don’t leave you feeling sluggish. Continue reading

Tasty Tuesday: Maple Ginger Salmon

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I DON’T LIKE FISH. I found one recipe that I loved because it made it taste like chicken (Sweet Teryaki Salmon) but every one I’ve tried since then is so salty … and the texture, yuck.

But, alas, thanks again to the most awesome healthy chef, Sammie Kennedy, I have found and adapted another way to cook it that is SO delicious. Continue reading

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Home Fries

Happy Tuesday! In an effort to cut back on our grocery bill, I’m only buying produce for the entire month of April. It seems that it’s really the organic, natural packaged crap that’s expensive, so we’re doing a lot of fruit and veg this month. In that vain, I had no idea what to pair with the salmon I cooked the other night, so I made it up … sweet potato home fries! These babies keep great in the fridge. They’re delicious warm and really yummy cold too.

SweetPotatoHomeFries-Published

Sweet Potato Home Fries (serves: 4, cook time: 30 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup high heat oil
  • sea salt and ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Chop the potatoes, mushrooms, and onion into bite-sized chunks. Mince the garlic on top of the potatoes.
  2. Heat the skillet to medium first, THEN add half the oil. Coat the bottom of your skillet.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions and spread in an even layer in the skillet. Cook on medium-high heat, uncovered until potatoes are browned and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the oil, slowly, as needed. Take care not to mess with them too much, flip potatoes once or twice in the entire 10-ish minutes.
  4. When your mix is pretty well cooked, add the mushrooms. These are already soft so they don’t take much cooking. Cook for a few more minutes to heat up the mushrooms.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

photo 3photo 1

Ashley Life Update: I had a wonderful weekend at a friend’s wedding in Louisiana. Got to hang out with my immediate family (see my sister’s and I above) and a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a long time. And the 13 hour drive there and back wasn’t too bad. We set up a bed in the back of the car and then whoever was driving listened to books on tape. Man those things pass the time!

We also stopped at an epic Country Buffet in Arkansas (the best in the state). I swear I had no idea that America had areas like that. Just VERY southern. That’s why I love road trips, you see cultures you never would have explored otherwise.

AND, another plus, we finally got some communication from Mike’s job. We should be finding out our next stop in the next couple weeks and the options are looking good!

I hope you all had great weekends too! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet and Salty Popcorn

What do you cook when the entire meal will be appetizers? I knew that most people wouldn’t be hungry for a full meal so I planned out four appetizers instead. They all worked perfectly, except for this one. This took two tries but it was SO worth it. I got the original recipe from Sammie Kennedy. This stuff melts in your mouth. It’s gooey and chewy and crunchy. Salty AND sweet. YUM

I still had the microwave at this point but I was trying to wean myself off it. Turns out popping popcorn on the stove can be kind of tricky. This is where the first attempt failed. When I tried again the next day I was significantly less distracted and followed the instructions below to a tee. And of course it worked.

How to Pop Perfect Popcorn on the stove! – Simple Recipes

SweetSaltyPopcorn-Published

Sweet and Salty Popcorn (servings: 6, cook time: 25 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups popped kernels
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (barely increases blood sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pop the popcorn in an air popper or over the stove.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and coconut sugar. Stir in the vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. Stir frequently. When it reaches a boil, remove from heat.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the popped popcorn. Add the salt on top. Mix gently with a wooden or plastic spoon so you don’t crush the kernels.
  4. Lay popcorn out on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until hardened.
  5. Break off the sheet and serve. Enjoy! It will keep a couple of days until the popcorn goes stale.

Ashley Life Update:

Vitamix

 

We went and got the Vitamix last night! I’m so flippin’ excited. My week is insane so I won’t have much time to experiment but I’ll be using it whenever possible and I’m sure you’ll all be hearing about it. Also, we found a fantastic deal on Stainless Steel cookware. 20% off and a rebate for a Cuisinart bowl set. It’s gonna take a little bit of saving to bounce back but I am SO excited to use this stuff. This night was better than Christmas. YAY!

 

Thriving Thursday: What’s in Your Microwave?

I’m not sure when or how the thought entered my head. I don’t know if my super health conscience Momma put it there or if it was the stirrings of the health community in general, but it’s time to make a change. A big one. I’m going to throw away our microwave. *GASP!*

Microwave

I did a lot of research for this post. I checked out articles from Harvard Med, GreenMed, New York Times, and Dr. Mercola, among others. People are divided. These very smart, highly informed sets of people can’t agree: are microwaves bad for you or not?

This is how it is now, though. Our current system doesn’t work. People are sick and more people are dying prematurely than ever before. I don’t believe we can implicitly trust the medical model for anything other than emergency care, but then who can we trust? How the heck do you figure out who’s right?

I know this sounds a little wonky but I tend to trust my instinct. If you put your face too close to a microwave, you will absorb small amounts of radiation, this is known. But your food is in there! Your food is being heated up in that box full of radiation. Then you’re gonna eat it! Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? However, I know most people don’t make their judgements based on my own personal judgement so here are the facts as well as I can decipher them (with a few opinions thrown in):

How it Works:

Microwave ovens heat food with oscillating electromagnetic waves. The waves energize the water molecules in your food. The polarized water molecules bounce off each other causing friction. That friction heats up the food. Microwaved water heats much more quickly than conventional methods resulting in shorter cooking times.

This form of cooking heats the food from the inside out. But wait a minute. I mean from the inside of the molecules on the outside of the food. It break and reforms the water molecules on the outside of the food in the heating process. Sometimes the distribution of water molecules is uneven which is why you sometimes get microwaved “hot spots.” Conventional cooking heats differently, from the outside of the molecules in.

Part of the opposition’s argument is that less heating time means higher nutrition retention. In general, I agree, but it’s not the length of the heating with microwave ovens, it’s the type of heating that’s the problem. If these electromagnetic waves can reach the interior of the food molecules, what else are they changing other than just the energy of the water?

Radiation:

When I was little I LOVED to stare into the microwave and watch the food spin around in circles, ever so slowly. Every time an adult caught me they slapped my hand and told me to back away, this crazy stuff called radiation leaked from that thing and you didn’t want it getting into your brain!

Since they were invented, the FDA and other regulatory organizations have closely monitored the manufacturing of microwave ovens. There have been major improvements in the level of radiation emitted from the ovens. This is good. However, radiation doesn’t die, it accumulates. So depending on how frequently you use your oven and how old it is, your kitchen is very likely full of microwave radiation. This is bad. Also, the adults were right, the radiation increases exponentially as you move closer to the source and it’s more easily absorbed by your eyes. Don’t sit and watch that plate spin!

Also, a recent study by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University tested the effects of certain frequencies of radiation on the heart. She concluded that 2.4 GHz of radiation (which is emitted by microwave ovens AND wi-fi routers) changes the heart rate and heart rate variability. Scary.

Nutrients:

As mentioned before, my common sense tells me that if microwaves can break apart and alter water molecules, what are they doing to the very delicate nutrients and minerals in our food? It is now well known that our food has lost a significant percentage of nutrients compared to food produced in the early 20th century. Crappy soil, terrible manufacturing methods, and tons of pesticides definitely play a part in this decline, but how big a role do microwaves play?

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating killed 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk .
  • A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria.

While many of these studies were done using older microwaves, the evidence is clear. Microwave ovens ARE NOT a healthy way to heat your food. If you want to retain the precious nutrients still left in modern produce, eat it raw or heat it from the outside in.

* Word to the wise: If you continue to use your microwave, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container. It is undisputed that the toxic chemicals from the plastic heat and leach into your food not only killing nutrients but filling you up with lots of really terrible chemicals.

GAH! What do I do with all this information? I’m just going to cite Dr. Mercola on this one:

“Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster? Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.”

I hope you’re all having fantastic days! Just let me know if you have any questions. Love and hugs – Ash

Sources (articles):
Why Did the Russians Ban An Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? – Mercola.com
Studies Show Microwaves Drastically Reduce Nutrients in Food – GreenMedInfo.com
The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients In Food – New York Times
Do Microwave Ovens Destroy Nutrients? – Livestrong.com
Microwave Cooking and Nutrition – Harvard Medical School

Sources (studies):
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117
Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26 1998;46(4):1433-1436
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,”
Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669