Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pickled Cucumbers

1 cup apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg, but you can use umeboshi vinegar or brown rice vinegar--really any kind you like!)
1/2 cup water
2-3 tbps of pickling spices
2 cucumbers, quartered lengthwise or diced-coined size

In a medium saucier, bring vinegar and water to a boil and then remove from heat.  In a mason jar (1 qrt or so), fill with the pickling spices and cut cucumbers and pour the hot brine over the pickles.    At this point you can seal it with a lid and  and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to a few weeks OR I cover it with a cheesecloth and rubber band and let it sit on my counter to ferment for about 24 hours and then I refrigereate it with the lid--though, you can let it sit on your counter for up to 3 days.

The pickles need air to ferment, that is why I use a cheesecloth.  Pickles are so good for your body as they aid in digestion.* (The Kind Life)

*I was watching Rachel Ray's show and she had all the ingredients on hand for a salty version of pickles... so if you would prefer this, try these ingredients (which are mostly in a pickling spice container):
3 cloves garlic, crushed or halved
A few fresh bay leaves
A small handful of fresh dill
1 Fresno pepper
1/4 red onion, chopped or sliced
A few black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed, half a palmful
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, half a palmful


Monday, February 14, 2011

Plan to Eat

Plan to Eat is having year subscription giveaway!  If you are a planner (or want to be) regarding shopping and meal planning, I would encourage you to sign up for their giveaway.  I, myself, have to work hard to be a "planner"... I think I am doing pretty good just soaking my beans and grains for the week--but honestly I never know what I am going to concoct that night or that evening.  The one thing I do know is that Friday night is homemade pizza night! :)  Anyhow, Plan to Eat seems helpful in the sense that it provides direction in buying groceries you need (not what you want or think you need and then it rots in the fridge).

So, what are you waiting for: sign up!  I am.


Sunday, February 13, 2011


We are aiming to cut back on buying cereals around here.  There are many great organic selections out there, but groceries have gone up!  Also, it is nice knowing that I can make something just as good and yummy for the family at a better price.  Here is my version of granola... change it up with the nuts, seeds, dried fruit... etc.  Have fun with it:

6 cups rolled oats, divided
1/2 cup ground flax 
1/2  cup rice bran (Ener-g has a good brand)
1  cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sesame seeds 
1 cup chopped slivered almonds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1-2 tsps of cinnamon
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the half of the oats into two 9 x 13 into baking dishes, and bake for 10 -12 minutes.  While the oats are toasting up, combine flax, rice bran, dried cranberries, seeds and almonds in a bowl.  In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (wet).  Take the toasted oats and pour them into a large bowl.  Pour and stir the dry flax mixture into the oats until well combined.  Then slowly add in the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.

Take the mixture and spread and divide the of the mixture between the two baking dishes.  Bake for 10 minutes, stir and then bake for another 5 minutes or so.   Then allow the granola to cool in the baking dishes.  Store in an airtight container (I like to use my large mason jars).

I was inspired by The Kind Life recipe, “Mom’s Granola”.  There are a few things I changed: not using sugar granules, but adding brown rice syrup, rice bran, ground flax, dried cranberries… etc.  This is so yummy!  Enjoy!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Loco for Cocoa

I have this love affair with dark chocolate (and natural peanut butter).  I can’t get enough of it.  In fact, I am so addicted, that I eat a small piece of 70% Dark Chocolate every afternoon (my favorite brand right now is Endangered Species).  I usually sit down and have this piece of chocolate with a cup of a Good Earth spice tea.  It meets my insane, “need to be controlled” cravings.  Though, I have “taken it up a notch” with unsweetened cocoa powder…

In the last few years, dark chocolate has had a positive buzz.  The cacao bean itself is known for having antioxidants that help your circulatory system, skin, heart, brain… to name a few*.  I challenge you to incorporate chocolate (or unsweetened cocoa) into your recipes.  Yesterday, I had a smoothie with a cup of cherries, almond milk, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa, and a tablespoon of almond butter—delish!  Don’t stop there—add a tablespoon or 2 to chili recipes or bean soup recipes (along with your ¼ cup of ground flax to meet the ALA Omega 3's for the day)!  I even added a tablespoon to my homemade tomato sauce when making pizza last night for my family—they didn’t even notice. J

*Check out the February issue of Delicious Living at your local health food store!
I love food-photo captured by my husband laughing at me b/c I am so focused. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

What do I eat for breakfast?

I had a few friends ask me this last night... so I thought, hey, maybe you all want to know... (I am sure you don't care!  LOL!)

This morning I had a Banana Almond Smoothie and steel cut oats for breakfast.
Smoothie:  Take one medium sized banana, about 8 oz of almond/rice milk, a teaspoon of green tea leaves, a pinch of cinnamon, tsp of of pure vanilla extract and about a tablespoon of almond butter—blend until smooth.   

Oats:  The night before, measure your desired amount of steel cut oats (I do about ¼ cup) and add water (1/2 cup of water to a ¼ cup of oats).  Let this soak overnight and it will cook in 5-10 minutes.  You may have to add a little water as it cooks down.  Forgot to soak?  You can cook the steel cut oats, but they take longer, or you could just used rolled oats with the same measurements.  Anyhow, once your oats are cooked, I add about a tablespoon of natural peanut butter.

What a balanced meal to start your day!  You have a serving a fruit, whole grain, lean protein, good fats, and spices/seasonings that will keep you satiated until lunch time.  I look forward to breakfast every morning!  I always have the above breakfast but change up the fruits (berries, pears… etc) and of course, change up my spices—I always have nut butters.  I love a Cherry Smoothie with cardamom and a freshly grated nutmeg—it pairs well with peanut butter or almond butter or even ground flax (a good fat –and fiber)!

After eating, I love to sit down with a good cup of coffee… which is what I am drinking right now… 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bean Cooking Chart

I have seen better charts for cooking beans, but this one is an easy look-sy.:)  I ran out of my cooked chickpeas yesterday, so today I am cooking up a batch of Adzuki beans (and a batch of wild rice).  I can't wait for lunch! 

Bean Cooking Chart
Dried Beans (1 cup)
Soaking Time
Regular Cooking Time
Pressure Cooking Time
45 - 50 min.
15 - 20 min.
Black (Turtle)
45 - 60 min.
15 - 20 min.
Black-Eyed Pea
1 hr.
10 min.
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hr.
15 - 20 min.
45 - 60 min.
not recommended
1 - 1 1/2 hr.
10 min.
Lentil, Red
20 - 30 min.
5 - 7 min.
Lentil, Green
30 - 45 min.
6 - 8 min.
60 - 90 min.
not recommended
Lima, Baby
45 - 50 min.
not recommended
1 - 1 1/2 hr.
8 - 10 min.
Pea, Split
35 - 40 min.
not recommended
1 1/2 hr.
10 min.
3 hr.
15 min.
White (Great Northern, Marrow, Navy, Pea)
45 - 60 min.
4 - 5 min.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Preparing for the week

Ok, this post will be short, but I have had it on my mind to tell y'all all week what I do...

Every weekend I like to prepare some foods for the week.  Since we do use dry beans and beans are our main source for protein/iron, it is nice to have something to grab out of the fridge.  I also like to have whole grains everyday (not just oats).  Some grains take a longer time to cook... etc...so it is nice to have things "on the go".  We are all busy around here, and especially at dinner time, my twins like to sing loud :) and Brinley likes to run around the house like crazy... it is a little chaotic, needless to say.

Anywho... we cook a cup or 2 of dry beans and 2-3 cups of a whole grain every Saturday (or Sunday) which, for both usually almost doubles the servings.  This week our meals have quinoa and garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas).  Last week we had meals with lentils and brown rice.  My husband isn't a big fan of garbanzo beans, so I usually mash them into whatever I am making.  He loves this Italian Quinoa recipe I have (he likes tomato-based foods like pasta...etc), so I usually just mash the chickpeas into the sauce which make for a creamier consistency.

So what foods do you try to get into your family?  How do you sneak 'em in? (if you do).  What are some tips you can pass on to me on preparing for the week or what routines do you have...etc?