Wednesday, September 14, 2011

That time of year again...

I love harvest time.  Our garden is relatively small, but we never have a shortage of pumpkins!  Yesterday we picked a bunch of them and I've been busy roasting them and making pumpkin puree to put in the freezer.  I love being able to pull a bag of puree out to use in whatever I'm making for the kids.  Of course, there are also all the "treats" you can make using pumpkin.  I got busy making muffins for the kids snacks using a (slightly altered) recipe from 'Deceptively Delicious', but not until after Chris, Nicolas and I enjoyed a Pumpkin Milkshake:

Here's the recipe I used (this amount makes two approx. 20 oz. milkshakes):

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (made from roasted pumpkins)
1/2 banana (for creamy texture)
1/2 cup skim milk, soy or almond milk
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup Splenda (or other sweetener)
2 tablespoons of Soy Protein Powder, vanilla flavor
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cups ice

Place liquids in blender first, then add remainder of ingredients.  Pulse on low until it starts to get smooth and there are no ice chunks, then blend until desired consistency.  Garnish with light whipped cream.  Yum!

Here's the nutritional info for one 20 ounce serving:
120 calories
0 grams of Fat
9 grams of protein
23 carbs

If you don't have the vanilla soy protein powder, I would suggest substituting milk for the water.  For an even creamier, sweeter shake, try using light vanilla soy or almond milk!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cobbler, with a Thanksgiving twist.

This is a fun alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  We made this cobbler in a dutch oven, but you could just as easily bake it in a dish in the oven.  And, it's very simple!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin pie mix
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle enough cake mix on the bottom to cover.
3. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of butter evenly over cake mix.
4. Place spoonfuls of pumpkin pie mix on top of that.
5. Repeat above steps, layering until you've used all the ingredients.

In a dutch oven, about 20 minutes.
In conventional oven, 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
(Check for a golden color on top.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of Juice.

Recently my husband and I have become more aware of the need for increased self-sufficiency, organics and including healthier foods in our lifestyle.  For those of you who may also have an interest in learning more about these issues, these are a few documentary movies I would recommend:

Food, Inc.
Food Matters
The Gerson Miracle

If you have Netflix, these titles are all available for instant streaming.

Among the ways we have put our understanding of these issues into practice, we raise our own chickens and use the fresh eggs they produce, we've been working on building a larger garden, we grind our own wheat for flour, avoiding the processed stuff.  After learning that meat stays in your gut for days because of the difficulty of digestion, we've cut way back on the meat we eat, using beans, soy and other sources for protein, and most recently we've started juicing fruits and vegetables.  We buy organic vegetables and fruits.  They are not sprayed with pesticides, which can inhibit the fruit and vegetables from producing, or absorbing, all possible minerals and macro-nutrients from the soil.  Inorganic produce still contains some vitamins and minerals, but at greatly reduced levels due to the composition changes caused by pesticides and herbicides.  Some of the benefits of extracting juice from fruits and vegetables and drinking it in that form are that the juice requires hardly any digestion, so all its nutritional goodness gets rapidly into your system.  When you juice, you use more fruits and vegetables than you could actually eat. As a result, you are drinking a densely packed amount of vitamins, minerals and other plant-based nutrients.  So ultimately the health benefits drinking the juice regularly include: increased cardiovascular health, rebuilding of red blood cells, increased energy levels, boost in immune system function, and healthier skin, hair, nails and eyes.  I'm sure there are other benefits as well.

So far I have had success getting a couple of my children to willingly drink the juice a couple of times a day.  They get excited about helping pick out which fruits and vegetables should go into the day's juice.  The other kids still have to be coaxed into drinking up, and I usually resort to "hiding" the juice in some way, like adding it to a smoothie that they like and are familiar with.  For the past few years, I have been keeping my freezer stocked with vegetable purees, using them in virtually all my baking and cooking, since my kids are so picky about what they eat, it's sometimes the only veggies they get.  But one of the problems with that being the only source for those nutrients and vitamins is that in order to puree them, I usually cook them in some way - roasting or steaming the vegetables first, to make them soft enough to puree thoroughly.  When they are heated, even just steamed for a short time, it changes the chemical composition of the food, and in some cases, depletes the food of it's nutrients.  With the juice, you get the fruit and vegetables in their rawest form.  The process of extracting the juice simply breaks open the pulp, allowing for easy absorption into the body, and all the minerals, nutrients and vitamins are retained in the juice, not the materials left over after the juicing process.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin pie in a cup!

I made this pumpkin smoothie to go with my oatmeal this morning after my run.  It was so delicious, I had to share the recipe.  We have pumpkins (Sugar Pumpkins, also called Pie Pumpkins) coming out our ears; our garden was good to us in that way this year.  I've been experimenting and putting pumpkin puree in just about everything.  Sometimes I want the pumpkin to be the star of the show and bring out it's full flavor, like in the Pumpkin Spice Cake I made last night.  Other times I just want to sneak the pumpkin in the recipe to add to the health benefits, without any obvious pumpkin flavor, as it was with the Alfredo (pumpkin) sauce I made for our pasta for last night's dinner.  Well, if you enjoy the flavor of pumpkin, specifically pumpkin pie, you will love this "milkshake"!

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (we use fresh, cooked pumpkin, but you could use canned pumpkin also)
1 cup skim milk (you could substitute 1 cup vanilla yogurt or vanilla soy milk)
2 tsps. brown sugar
1 tablespoon Splenda (depending on how sweet you prefer, you could add more or less, or use honey)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
(For the above 3 ingredients, you could also substitute 1/2 tsp. Allspice or Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1/2 cup ice cubes

Add liquid to your blender first, then pumpkin puree, sweeteners and spices.  Then put a few of the ice cubes in and start the blender.  Gradually add the rest of the ice, until you reach the consistency you like best.  I like mine thick like a real milkshake, so I add a little more ice.

For a bonus, you could add a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon to the top.  It's awesome!  And by the way, pumpkin is very healthy.  It is rich in potassium, vitamin A and fiber, and even has a bit of protein and vitamin C to add to the benefits.  I usually add protein powder to my morning smoothies, and since I'm all out of it right now, I ate oatmeal with my smoothie.  But I think some vanilla protein powder added to the above recipe would make it a very healthy, filling breakfast or snack.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dutch Oven Pizza ~ Yum!

Oh,'s been a while since I've posted to this blog!  Anyway, several weeks ago we made this BBQ and Garlic Chicken Pizza in the dutch oven, and it turned out so delicious, I thought I'd share the idea.

First, I made the dough in my bread maker.  Here's the recipe:
Cornmeal Pizza Dough
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
3-2/3 cups flour (I used whole wheat, but you can use unbleached all-purpose)
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsps yeast

Follow the dough directions on your bread maker, or to make by hand:
1) Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2) Mix together dry ingredients.
3) Make well in dry ingredients, add oil and water/yeast mixture.  Combine, about 20 strokes.
4) Remove dough from bowl, knead until smooth in texture.  Place back in bowl, cover and let sit for about 20 minutes.
 (Makes enough for a 12" dutch oven, and then an additional 16" regular pizza pan.)

Pizza Sauce
Combine 1/4 cup store bought pizza sauce, 1/4 cup carrot puree, 1/4 cup butternut squash puree, 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Cut chicken breasts into small chunks.  Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and heat the oil on low heat.  Add diced, fresh garlic to the oil stirring continuously until it starts to brown.  Add chicken to pan and cook until golden brown, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Spray dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread dough in oven, going up the sides as far as you can stretch the dough.  Sprinkle a small amount of your favorite pizza cheese on the dough before you add the sauce.  (This will help keep the dough from getting soggy.)  Then add sauce, chicken and the rest of your favorite toppings.
As far as the other toppings I used, I added black olives, onions and mozzarella cheese, but you can be creative based on your personal taste.
Put your hot coals under the dutch oven and about 6-8 pieces of hot charcoal on the lid, and bake for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I made this bunny cake just for fun. It's not perfect looking, but it made my kids giggle, so it was worth it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chili dinner.

I made some super easy, healthy chili for dinner tonight, and it was so yummy I thought I'd share the recipe:

1 pound of lean ground turkey
2 (8oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 pkg. chili seasoning mix
1/2 cup zucchini puree
1/2 cup cauliflower puree
1 cup carrot puree

Brown the ground turkey in a stock pot. Add all the other ingredients and stir until well blended. Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. (The longer you simmer, the better the taste.) You're family will never guess there are all those veggies in there, I promise!

I served the chili with some delicious buttermilk cornbread:

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
2.Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
3.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.