Sunday, July 31, 2016

Toast and Steel Cut Oats Topped with Berry Smoothie

McCann's Imported Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal is great any time of day. It's NON GMO certified which makes it even better.  If you don't want to have a bowl of oatmeal you can always add it to other foods or spread it on toast. The benefits of oatmeal as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol is fabulous and may reduce the risk of heart disease. I cook extra and refrigerate it so it's on hand for a quick toss into soup or a warm broth. It adds a nice creamy texture. The possibilities of oats added to many other recipes is only limited by your imagination. I hope you'll try it.

Steel cut oats on toast topped with smoothie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Curry Up and Get Some Delicious

This is a super simple meal. I had some leftover roasted chicken that I cut up into small bites and added it to a creamy curry sauce. Next I cooked some noodles and poured the sauce over it. Garnish with some chopped mixed greens and crispy red bell pepper and you are all set. Tastes great hot or cold.

creamy curry sauce with chicken bits chopped mixed greens and red pepper

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Delicious Celery Two Ways-Smoothie and Spread

Celery Smoothie and Toast Topping.

Celery Smoothie

Celery Puree on Toast with marinara, mozzarella and chile oil

If you have a garden and are growing celery it pops up pretty quickly, and you want to use it as soon as possible. One way to do that is juice it up. If you want an alternative, skim off the top and put it on toast as a spread. This toasty has a base of celery purée, two small dollops of marinara, shredded mozzarella and a bit of chile oil from my good friend Larry at

Then pop in in the oven for a few minutes. Eat it now, or put in the fridge for a fresh bite later. You can also cut it into small squares and put it on top of your favorite veg. Cucumber slices are a nice complement to this combo. Zucchini slices are also great.

A quick side of chopped celery and red bell peppers and it's all set. You might want to serve the side on top of a slice of tomato. Or forego the toast, and just spread the celery purée on top of the tomato for a super healthy snack. Perfect for summer picnics.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Benefits of Bone Broth

Learning about healthy food alternatives. This week is about bone broth, a healing superfood. I also learned about eating for your blood type. Lots of information online. You may want to look into both. In the meantime, here is a delicious combination of chicken bone broth with tabbouleh, fresh garden herbs and a few noodles. All I can say is wow. The benefits of bone broth are tremendous, and the flavor was super fresh. Some bone broth takes longer to cook than others. Up to 48 hours, so you will need to plan ahead. Use only organic. Anything that has been fed antibiotics is not acceptable. If you start now, you will be 'well' on your way.

chicken bone broth with tabbouleh and garden fresh herbs soup

Here are a few links to info on both topics.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Healthy, Crunchy, Simple Salad with Super Celery

Quick note for people who need simple solutions. I like cottage cheese and choose non-fat, small curd for the least amount of sodium. This is nothing more than cottage cheese, fresh, crunchy celery and tomato with fresh ground pepper. If you like a healthy salad, this will satisfy your craving. Super low calorie. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese is 62 calories, celery, depending on size of stalk, about 1-6 calories, and although this is not a whole medium tomato which comes in at 22 calories, it's all under 100 calories. Tasty and filling with a lot of crunch plus nutrition. If you want to find out just how wonderful a stalk of celery can be check this out.

Cottage cheese, celery, tomato salad

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dietary Restrictions? Caregiving Cooking. Homemade Soup is Souper.

I'm posting on soup because it is one of my favorite things to eat; but also my sister had to go to ER for kidney/gall stones this week. As someone who likes a lot of flavor, I have not really known what to prepare for meals. Her diet is pretty restricted to fruits and veggies, perhaps a very small portion of boiled chicken. No fat or greasy foods, no dairy, etc. Still trying to figure it all out. I had prepared a nice meal, just taken it out to serve and that's when her attack came on. So off we went. Was glad I was here to get her there quickly, it is extremely painful and she was vomiting. I have no idea what would have happened if I was not here, not sure she could have even called 911 since she was completely doubled over in anguishing pain.

The first soup I made for her was pretty much water broth with veggies, although I did add some carrot juice to pop in a bit of color and flavor. She is not a big fan of thyme, or I might have tried adding in a few sprigs. I boiled the chicken in with the mix. you can see in the photo, there was fat in the broth. It did not dawn on me to cook them separately. I have never boiled chicken, or thought about the fat rendering out.

The next attempt, I boiled the chicken only in water with a little carrot juice and drained off all the liquid. This was a much better solution and the chicken came out clean. That way she can add it to anything she wants. Salad, soup, stuff it into a lettuce cup or a small bell pepper. The real key is very small portions.

Next was the sliced baked potato, spicy chicken and vegetable casserole I had made. I could have frozen it or offered it to neighbors, but I just ate it for every meal until it was gone. By the last few servings I was getting pretty tired of it. As I do with other food, I finally turned it into soup. Oftentimes I just add water and everything simmers nicely. I don't overcook vegetables, so heating this up was a quick process. Most of the veggies are still relatively firm even after reheats.

Having dietary restrictions requires some new thinking when you are used to cooking a certain way. It has me rethinking almost everything I eat too. I am already a big label reader, and have changed some of my own eating habits to have a healthier lifestyle. Homemade soup is a good start for anyone. Lentil soup is my favorite. I am not sure if she can eat lentils. As I said, I have a lot to learn about cooking for others who have special needs. In the process, I will learn to be a more mindful cook.

Chicken and vegetable soup with carrot broth

Boiled Chicken

Casserole Remix to Baked Potato Soup with Veggies and Cheese

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spicy Curry Chicken with Veggies and Rice

From this to this.
Slow Cooked Spicy Curry Chicken

A dish of delish, Spicy Curry Chicken with Veggies and Rice

I like curry but sometimes it needs an extra punch of flavor. This spicy curry chicken has a lovely blend of spices that simmer down to an excellent sauce. I cook ingredients separately so I can use them for other dishes later. However you decide to accent your plate, making the spicy curry sauce is an ace every time. I use my special chiles from Larry the Peppahead to blend in a lot of native wonder. This has his special reserve smoked chile olive oil. Dixon and Caribe, a little turmeric and a dash of Sriracha. A beautiful combination of flavors that you can use on about anything, but for this recipe I used chicken.

Once I finished cooking all the ingredients, I plated up a small dish to enjoy. This is served with red bell peppers, snow peas, celery, carrots and brown rice. I think you will love it. If you are a vegetarian, skip the chicken and use tofu.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Games People Play-Coupons|Incentives|Promotions

Safeway Monopoly Game Image

Safeway Monopoly Game Tickets

It is not unusual for people to want to win something, but at what cost?

I’ve watched Extreme Couponing a few times and am amazed at how much time they spend to organize, file, shop, and store the massive amount of items. On the whole, it’s stuff that is not all that healthy for you. A huge amount of processed and frozen foods. Paper goods, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.

The last time I watched the show; one woman had spent over 50 hours preparing for her shopping trip. Buying multiple newspapers to get an added advantage and getting her kids to help clip and sort.

I think it’s all crazy. But, I thought I ought to try and see what some of these shopper incentives were all about and how much time it takes.

Safeway has a Monopoly game. You get tickets to paste onto the board depending on how much you buy. At first I did not collect the tickets, thinking how silly it was. Then I decided to be a consumer on their terms. I started taking the game rewards.

First you open the tickets, then you sort them, then try and find where they go. You have to turn the board around and around to see if you have any matched numbers. Next, you have to turn it over and start this whole process again.

The images are so small I needed to use a magnifier to match them up. It’s a bit tricky with some of the impressions, so you end up looking to match numbers, not just images.

Why am I sharing this? Well, the biggest reason is how much time you spend looking at the images. Talk about brand influence! You have this game that actually hypnotizes you. Depending on how many tickets you have, you may look very closely at a brand logo many, many times.

Not too unlike couponing…brand impressions are registered hundreds and hundreds of times. You may be saving money, but you are being influenced to buy certain brands whether you want to or not. Your brain is being tattooed with brand names and it will affect you your whole life. You won’t even know why, but you will buy based on the subtle, or not so subtle effects of the circulars, games, incentives, discounts and in-store promotions.

Pretty soon you will not have a mind of your own. You will buy based on advertising and marketing. Again, you won’t know why you buy what you buy.

These sales tactics seem innocent enough, play a game, maybe win some money, a vacation home, luxury car, home makeover, college tuition, trip, gift card, spa treatment, Redbox movies for a year, weekend getaway, jet ski or a family picnic, but I want you to think seriously about how much time you will spend looking at these brand logos.

I want you to think about all the hours you will spend clipping coupons when you could be spending quality time with your family. Cooking nutritious meals, not microwaving some Hot Pockets because you got them for free.

It took me hours to play this little game with myself. To actually experience the whole gig one game ticket at a time. If you like puzzles, you will like this. If you are lucky, you will win something. More than likely you will get a 25 cents off coupon for a tub of Daisy Sour Cream, Dannon Activia Yogurt, Twizzlers Twists, Nabisco Wheat Thins Toasted Chips, Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies, Daisy Cottage Cheese, One 2 Liter bottle of your choice of name brand soda, Jolly Time Microwave Popcorn, Capri Sun Juice Drink Blend, Nabisco Oreo Sandwich Cookies, Edge Shave Gel, perhaps 50 cents off Finish Jet-Dry Liquid Rinse Agent, 75 cents off Sparkle Paper Towels Prints, or a real biggie, an instant winner of two (2) bonus Monopoly game tickets on your next visit while supplies last. Woohoo!

Even this is another example of how brands influence us. I looked at the coupons and typed them in for this article. Ridiculous! All this does not even include the hours it would take to add the codes in for the online game or fill out individual, hand-addressed, 3X5 index cards for each code in a separate envelope. Now add postage. Gee, what a deal.

It’s your call if you want to trade time for money in the form of coupons, or playing games like this. But in the end, it’s the brands who win, not you.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to Cook when Renovating a Kitchen

kitchen renovation image

As a cook, your kitchen is a sanctuary. The thought of doing a renovation, although it might be exciting, is also one of the most difficult transitions to deal with. The first thing is packing up all of your goods. I recommend keeping your essentials out until the very end. The rest can go into boxes or plastic storage bins. Bins with lids keep things clean and still accessible if you need them. From your essentials, pare down as much as you can. Think like you are packing a suitcase.

Relocating your kitchen to your dining room is an option. A long side table will do just fine as your temporary kitchenette. If you don't have a long table, buy a large Ikea desk top and put it on top of an existing smaller table. It will provide you with the prep space you need. Mobile food carts with a cutting board surface will also be helpful. For items that get quite hot, like a toaster oven, it is safest placed on a surface that can take the heat. A large tile from the hardware store works perfectly.

You still need to consider ergonomics and sanitary conditions. Plan for it. Make sure your surfaces are the right height and you have a place for clean vs used towels. Have a dish pan like they use in restaurants available. Get them at your restaurant supply store or online. Don't let anything stack up. Clean as you go! Prep, clean. Cook, clean. Serve, clean.

Next, think about what you need when everything is out of the kitchen. Once the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and sink are gone, they're gone. No more disposer either. Have a plan in place for food scraps. Ideally you have a compost bin. If not, get a separate garbage can and take it out often! Immediately is best.

If you don't already have them, some useful tools to have on hand include:

A one or two burner, portable cooking range or induction cooking plate, an oven-top griddle, electric skillet, waffle maker, hot sandwich maker, crock pot, toaster with mini-oven or a toaster oven, an extra dorm-sized fridge, microwave*, a Ninja and/or immersion blender, a culinary heat lamp, food steamer or rice cooker, and a coffee/tea maker if you use one. If you plan on entertaining, add warming trays to your list. Paper plates, cups and reusable dinnerware will be an asset in this situation. Get some. Lastly, you'll be cooking with smaller pans in a toaster oven, invest in a few Pyrex glass pans that are stable to 450 degrees. If you bake, you'll need a small sheet pan, and smaller muffin pans.

Renovating a kitchen doesn't mean you can't make delicious meals. In fact, it somewhat simplifies the process. I call it dorm cooking. Even if you are throwing a party, warming trays and three crock pot warmers will make your buffet easy to set up.

Water is another thing you'll need to consider. During renovations you may want to have water delivered and rent or buy a water dispenser stand with both hot & cold water taps. You have a choice of either top or bottom load. Think about which will work the best for you.

As always, keep a sense of humor. Your energy goes into the food you prepare. Enjoy this switch-up of your routine and it will shine through with your delicious.

These are some fun cooking hacks that at the very least will make you laugh. If my list of what you need is too long, you can make just about anything with a coffee maker and an iron.

TIP: Depending on what your weather is's also a good time to get your grill on.

* I don't cook with a microwave.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Putting the Squeeze on Heinz 'Tomato' Ketchup

Do not enter Heinz Tomato Ketchup symbol on plate

I only use ketchup in one thing. Meatloaf. It's rare that I make a meatloaf, but it's always with Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Never again. I read this yesterday and was completely shocked to find out these facts. This goes to show how important it is to read labels. This has been the only ketchup I have ever used and it did not dawn on me to look at the label. Call it brand brainwash. 

From now on I'll be making my own and think you should too. There are many great recipes online for homemade tomato ketchup.

One example:

Here are the Heinz facts.

This ketchup based product has been put on hot dogs, eggs, burgers, chicken – you name it! But did you know that one of the biggest names in the ketchup game doesn’t even have enough tomatoes to be classified as ketchup in some countries? Heinz Ketchup is actually banned from calling itself ketchup in Israel for that very reason!
On top of the utter lack of tomatoes, here’s five reasons you should avoid this name brand altogether:
1. There’s a proverbial crap-ton of high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that has many links to obesity, heart attacks and cancer.
2. For every 100 grams of ketchup in a Heinz bottle, there’s 23.6 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar for a condiment made of tomatoes…
3. According to a lawsuit filed in 2014, Heinz doesn’t use distilled vinegar in their ketchup, rather a modified form of corn.
4. You know how you’ve heard that excessive sodium is bad for you? Well Heinz Ketchup has a lot, as in 190 milligrams per tablespoon.
5. In addition to the insane amount of corn in a tomato based product, the corn they use has a high probability of being genetically modified. That means any non-GMO people out there already have their reason to stay away!
Ketchup can be some serious business, so make sure you’re getting the real thing and not some knockoff only claiming to be real. Don’t buy Heinz! Pass it along