I Scream, You Scream….
Although the forecast is calling for light snow here in central Ohio today, we had a hint of summer weather over the weekend, so my husband and I took the opportunity to indulge in some of our favorite ice cream.
Some members of our family are lactose intolerant so we are always on the look out for a dairy-free alternative that isn’t loaded with artificial ingredients and still tastes good. Purely Decadent’s Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert fits the bill.
Featured on the Today Show a while back, Purely Decadent is also vegan and lower in calories. Check out all the delicious flavors, our favorite is the Mint Chip! I also like the SO Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and SO Delicious Soy Yogurt too.
Times are tough and the budget is tight right now for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on a healthy diet. Many people think eating healthy automatically costs more because you have to buy everything organic. This is simply not true. You don’t have to buy "organic" everything and there are wallet-friendly ways to shop the health food isles. Here are some of my tips:
- I have read many times that the higher up the food chain you go, the more important to be "quality" food such as organic and grass-fed. So, the first priority should be to spend money on quality meats dairy products. It is sometimes hard to get these at a regular grocery so try to stock up at the farmer’s market and through CSAs from local farms. Check out Local Harvest to find sources near you.
- Next, when shopping for produce, there are certain friuts and vegetables that are more "at risk" than others when it comes to buying organic. Check out this post for a list of the "dirty dozen."
- Also, keep in mind that seasonal produce for your region will likely be priced better, especially when shopping at a farmer’s market or through a share in a CSA, and it will taste better because it is enevitably more fresh.
- Buy in bulk. Even though I shop at Whole Foods, which is sometimes thought to be more expensive, They have a great bulk section which allows me to get a better price and reduce packaging waste on a lot of items like flour, grains, nuts, granola, dried fruit and dried beans.
- Pay attention to the price and try different brands. I’ve been really impressed with quality and price of "Whole Foods 365" brand. Also, remember the lower price is not always the better buy, Whole Foods does a wonderful job of posting the price per ounce or pound which can reveal the real deal.
Super Bowl Snacks
Whether you are hosting or pitching in at at Superbowl Party this weekend, rather than picking up the processed chips and cheese dip at your local supermarket, we suggest going for the extra point and bringing one of these healthier snacks instead:
- Black Bean Hummus
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
- A Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix (Pictured above)
- “Beet” This Salad
- Edamame Dip
- Spinach, Mushrooms & More Melt (Make ’em mini!)
Being a vegetarian, I am very careful to make sure that I am always making sure to get enough protein in my diet. One way I do this is by eating fish (which I know makes me not the strictest of vegetarians). The other is by having eggs as a regular part of my diet.
Eggs are a low-cost, low-calorie way to get protein and other health benefits. But not all eggs are the same. According to Mother Earth News, who have conducted egg nutrient tests, “eggs from hens raised on pasture, as compared to those commercially raised factory farm eggs, contain: 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D.”
While you certainly can purchase organic, certified humane, cage free eggs at the grocery store, it is no surprise that we encourage you to look further (and closer) to some local farms in your area that offers eggs. That way, you can know first hand where your eggs are coming from!
Need recipe ideas? Here are just a few of our favorite things to do with eggs.
- Sweet Potato & Zucchini Frittata
- Mama’s Frittata
- Easy Cheesy Frittata
- Local Eggs Florentine
- Asparagus & Eggs Any Time of Day
- Egg & Tomato Cups
- Farm Stand Crustless Quiche
- Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Note: You may be looking at the photo above and wonder why we have a selection of rainbow colored eggs. The local place we get our eggs has a few Araucana hens… that lay blue and green eggs!
An Intro to Tempeh
My husband and I received a great vegetarian cookbook over the holidays, which, in addition to his veggie challenge this month, has inspired me to branch out a little bit and try a few new things in the kitchen. This week, my new challenge in the kitchen has been tempeh.
I think I remember trying tempeh a while back and I hated it. I have no idea what I did to it then but with a little guidance (and a great recipe) from The New Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook, I am happy to say that I am now sold on tempeh. And, after much convencing and delicious recipe, it received Brian’s stamp of approval too.
Tempeh is a fermented food, usually made under very controlled conditions. It’s basically the result of the fermentation of cooked soybeans and a Rhizopus mold. Sounds yummy, right? That’s just about where I lost my husband on the idea too. But, like good cheese and yogurt the “culture” is what makes it special. Because of this fermenting culture, tempeh is more easily digested than plain soybeans. And it’s high in protein, low in fat, and made up of the whole soybean, so all of its nutrients remain intact which makes it better for you than your other typical meat substitutes like tofu.
Look for tempeh without any black spots; while it’s okay to have a few, the culture goes from white to black as it ferments, so a lot of black spots means it’s on its way downhill rather than at its peak. You can probably find Litelife tempeh at your local grocery in the organic section near the tofu. Plan to cook it quickly at a high temperature as the culture will grow very fast in a warm environment.
Stay tuned for a tempeh recipe.
Okey Dokey Artichokey
Finding healthy vegetarian snacks often requires me to be a bit more adventurous in the produce section at the grocery store. Sometimes it leads to sweet surprises and other times it introduces me to a brand new food. Artichokes are a fairly common vegetable, found in dips and on top of pizza, but the first time I was introduced to this spiky veggie was as a kid at my friends house, where her mom boiled it and served it as a fun and healthy snack. So when I saw a whole artichoke as on option in my Farm Fresh Delivery order, I added it to my list and rang my friend for preparation tips.
Artichokes are great sources of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium and can be boiled, steamed, grilled and microwaved. Eating artichokes can be a bit intimidating, but this web page gives step by step instructions (including photos). The other fun part of eating artichokes is discovering your favorite dip for the petals. Suggestions include melted butter, mayo, sour cream, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salsa, salad dressing or olive oil. Or depending on your taste buds, you may enjoy them plain!
So next time you are wandering the produce section or market stand, pick up an artichoke to try as a flavorful and healthy snack. Like edamame or pomegranates, it may be a bit of a challenge to eat, but is totally worth the effort!
Give Chickpeas a Chance
This time of year, you are typically hearing about roasted chestnuts, but roasted chickpeas are a simple snack to serve for guests, or just munch on year round.
Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans) are a good source of fiber and protein. They are low in fat and packed with healthy vitamins and minerals. They are often associated with hummus, but these little protein powerhouses are tasty all on their own!
The chickpeas in this photo are Cajun flavored ones that I ordered from Feel Good Foods through Farm Fresh Delivery, but you can easily roast your own. Spice things up by trying some different variations such as Moroccan, Curry or Spicy.
I Made it to the Moosewood
I finally made it to the Moosewood Restaurant! Call me crazy, but ever since I came across one of their cookbooks I have been dying to make it there but never had a reason to be in Ithaca, NY. But, last month I was traveling solo on a work trip in the Finger Lakes area so I decided to take a short detour for dinner and it was certainly worth it!
The Moosewood Restaurant is a collectively owned small business of nineteen members who share the responsibility of running this wonderful healthful natural foods restaurant. They have a small, yet diverse, lunch and dinner vegetarian menu made up of the freshest ingredients possible that changes daily. On my visit, I had a tough time deciding what to have but ended up with a delicious handmade ravioli and vegan chocolate cake for dessert! Check out their cookbooks and online recipes to have your own Moosewood cooking right at home.
An Early Soup Swap
Last weekend my Mom, Mother-in-Law, and I hosted a soup swap. I had such a good time last year and enjoyed lots of yummy new soups for months afterward, I thought it would be a good idea to have one of my own. Once the colder weather started to settle in, we just couldn’t wait for the National Soup Swap Day in January. We rationalized that it would be best to do it this time of year so we could have ready-to-go homemade soups over the next few months when everyone gets busy with the holidays. We had about a dozen friends swapping with us and here are some of the soups that were shared:
- Black Bean
- Spicy Corn and Chicken Chili
- Salsa Soup
- Chicken Tortilla
- Beef Vegetable
- Corn Chowder
- No-Bean Chili
- Carrot Soup
- Cheese Tortellini
- Ginger-Peanut Soup
If you want to host one of your own, check out the “Helpful Tips” on the Soup Swap Blog which talks about how to organize a swap, labeling and freeezing your soups, and door prizes. We sent our guests home with a big soup mug in exchange for a can of soup that we donated this week to the local food pantry.
What’s Your Cup of Tea?
How you make your tea has as much to do with the flavor and overall experience of the tea as the variety of tea you start with. And since this is “Tea Week” at Green-Lemonade, we wanted to start by giving a brief introduction to the most common varieties of tea and the best way to brew each.
Tea is a product of the Camellia sinensis plant and the variety of tea is determined by the level of processing it undergoes as described below. The most common varieties of tea, as outlined below, include black, green, oolong, white and herbal, but keep in mind that there are a number of different blends within each variety as well.
And before you brew your perfect cup, it’s important to note that while sometimes less convenient and more expensive, loose leaf tea is usually more flavorful and fresh than the bagged variety found in boxes at the grocery. Investing in a nice tea infuser, brew basket, or some paper filters will get you on your way to making the most of your tea.
Common Varieties of Tea:
Black Tea – Black tea requires the most processing, undergoing a full oxidation process that produces stronger more robust tea with the most caffeine content of all varieties. Some of the most common blends of black tea that you may have already tried include Earl Grey and English Breakfast. Black tea should be brewed using freshly boiled water (212 degrees) and steeped for 3-4 minutes.
Green Tea – Green tea known for its health benefits because of its high concentration of antioxidant power in the form of polyphenols. More delicate than black, green tea is dried, not “fermented,” and is often described as having a light, green, or even slightly grassy taste. Because of it’s delicate nature, when brewing green tea it’s important to note that the water should not reach a full boil (around 180 degrees) and it should only be steeped for about 1-2 minutes. For more scientific information about green tea check out this article.
Oolong Tea – Oolong tea falls somewhere in-between black and green teas on the oxidation scale. Oolong tea should be brewed using water heated to just below boiling and steeped for 2-3 minutes.
White Tea – White tea is the least processed of all tea. For white tea, the tea buds are plucked very early and then dried. This tea is therefore the most delicate and has a much lighter, slightly sweet, flavor without the “grassy” undertones of green tea. White tea should be brewed with water with a temperature at just below boiling and should be steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Herbal Tea – Not necessarily a true “tea” as I’ve listed here, herbal tea does not come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Herbal tea is the result of an herbal infusion created by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried flowers, dried fruit or herbs and letting it steep for 5-7 minutes. As you can imagine, there are countless blends of herbal teas, check out this list or make your own.