Our Lunch: Fast, Delicious Ginger Tamari Greens with Baked Tofu

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Have you ever had greens in the fridge that you needed to use, but were stumped on what to do with them? I had swiss chard that I wanted to use today, and came up with this recipe.  If you don’t have swiss chard, but do have kale, collards or spinach, that’s fine.  I think any greens will do.

This is a simple recipe that is full of bold flavors.  I made it for lunch (it would also make a great side dish, with or without the baked tofu).  My kids gobbled it up, had seconds and asked for more, but there were none!

Eating a lot of greens is a goal of mine this fall to help keep our immune systems in top working order.  I’m working on a post that will detail my plan to keep us healthy – it’s coming soon!

This recipe was adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook.

Ginger Tamari Greens with Baked Tofu

  • 2T sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • One bunch of swiss chard, stems removed and cut into fine ribbons
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp of tamari
  • 1 tsp of coconut nectar (or other liquid sweetener), optional to balance the bite of the lime juice
  • 4 oz organic baked tofu, cut into a small dice (I used “savory” from Trader Joes, but you can also make your own)
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in skillet.  Saute ginger and garlic in oil for about minute or two.  Add swiss chard ribbons and cook until wilted (just a couple minutes).  Add diced tofu.  Sprinkle with tamari and lime juice; stir.  Add optional coconut nectar; stir.  Add cilantro and serve.

You can serve over brown rice or other grain.  We just had it on its own.

It’s Just What’s Goin’ On

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his and her morning green juice…it really rejuvenates

I haven’t written much here lately and I miss it! I don’t know where to start.  I’ve had so many topics dancing around in my head…

It’s an interesting/challenging life season for me.  We will be welcoming a new member of our family in less than seven weeks! Now that the weather is cooling down, I’m returning to myself (despite the very large belly).  It’s been a painful summer.  First, we lost a beloved family member.  Then, I finally realized that my cyclical blues are season related.  I’ve wondered if I was the only one who felt down in the summer until I did some online searches to find that it’s pretty common for people to have feelings of depression during high temperatures, sunny days and high humidity (we live in the Northeast US).  So, this realization has become a sort of epiphany to me and explains a lot.  I’m not the only one always wanting to seek shade and shelter in the summer.

With that said, there are some big life changes coming our way.  Yes, one is the baby, but there are others.  I’m not sure the form they will take (although I have some ideas), but I am really excited to embrace this next phase of our family’s life.

In the midst of everything, I’ve been planning and implementing as much as possible for our homeschool year with the hopes that everything will be running smoothly by the time the little one comes.  We’ve had the amazing blessing to have met the most wonderful collection of families who share very similar life philosophies we do.  We have embarked on a new curriculum, which I love, and most importantly of all, my daughter loves.  It’s as close to perfect as it can get.

I’ve been on a purging rampage, examining every single thing we own – asking if we really need it.  We’ve not been able to fully utilize our basement space, occupied by tubs and tubs of “stuff”, which would be much better loved as an art studio for the kids.  And, so the realization is that space to be used for activities is more important than for storing items that are never used.

As a counterpoint to the purging rampage, I’ve also done my best to stop buying things (my husband is thrilled to hear this one).  The purging process has taken so much of my precious time and energy…frankly, I would rather be doing something else and don’t want to repeat this process again.  I’m not exactly a packrat, but I have had the habit of collecting things over the years “just in case.”  And, realizing that after 7 years of living in the same home with no “just in case” popping up, the stuff is gone! So, now I look even more closely at the long term value of anything I am about to purchase – as well as the environmental impact of both the purchase and the disposal.

I’m still cooking as much as possible from scratch, although the summer heat put a damper on any stovetop and oven cooking.  Now I’m gearing up for all those fall germs by developing a plan to continue to keep our immune systems optimal.  In an upcoming post, I’ll show you a laminated wall hanging that I made to remind myself what foods our family needs to focus on to keep our bodies functioning well.  If I don’t have little reminders all around me, I tend to forget (let’s blame that on pregnancy brain!).

Fall is just around the corner.   Ahhhhh.  Until next time, friends…

Winners of Eat This: Meal Salads and Whole Food Dressings

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Winners of the Eat This:  Meal Salads and Whole Food Dressings ebook by Renee Tougas are Julie and Jennifer Ott*

Congratulations Julie and Jennifer! I think you’ll enjoy reading Renee’s ebook.  Renee will contact you shortly via email.

If you didn’t win, and would like to purchase the ebook, it may be found on amazon.com for $4.99.

Thanks to all who entered.  It was nice to see so many visitors from FIMBY.  I hope you’ll visit again soon!

*Winners were randomly chosen using online software.

Salads Fit For a Meal – Ebook Giveaway!

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I’m giving away two copies of Eat This, courtesy of Renee Tougas of FIMBY!

Have you ever felt like you or your children were eating too much bread, pasta, or grains? Or, maybe you served a well-balanced meal, but the focus turns out to be on the bread and not on the vegetables? Have you thought about adding a nutrient dense, filling meal to your regular rotation?

If you could see my hand, it’s raised high in the air.

So, as a result, I’ve turned to meal-sized salads.  When our entire meal is a salad, and everyone’s hungry, we fill our tummies with greens, veggies, nuts/seeds, and beans all smothered in flavorful sauces or dressings.  One of our favorite meal-sized salads is one that I posted here a little while ago – Tex Mex Salad.

The kids don’t ask for more bread, because there isn’t any.  The focus is on colorful foods, packed with so much powerful nutrition…fiber, phytonutrients, omega 3s – all the stuff our bodies crave that deeply nourish our cells.

If you follow the blog FIMBY, written by the eloquent Renee Tougas, you may know that she just released an ebook called Eat This:  Meal Salads and Whole Foods Dressings.  Renee has been an inspiration to our family in many ways and now you have the opportunity to be inspired to incorporate meal-sized salads into your repertoire.  In Eat This, Renee explains why her family eats meal sized salads and talks about the various components she includes in hers.  She includes six of her favorite dressing recipes made with whole ingredients, plus three additional recipes for a total of nine recipes.

There is also a contribution by me(!) on how to sprout beans, which I have found to make them much more digestible than just cooking them straight from dried.  Sprouted legumes may be used on your salad raw, made into raw hummus, or cooked.  You can find my brown rice sprouting method here.

Renee has generously offered two of my readers her new ebook for free in this giveaway ($4.99 value)!

To enter the giveaway, comment below noting your favorite type of greens to use in a salad.  You may enter a second time if you “like” kidoing! on Facebook and then come back to comment to tell me that you did that.

I will choose a random winner on Monday, August 27 and Renee will email the ebook to you (in both ereader and PDF formats).

Giveaway has ended! Stay tuned for the winners to be announced!

Chia Jam (with Very Little Sweetener!)

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Plum Vanilla Chia Jam (made with local plums from our CSA)

This recipe is brilliant and I certainly can’t claim it as my own.  I recently saw a Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam recipe on Oh She Glows and it’s turned into my go-to jam recipe this summer.

We love to use jam in a variety of ways:

  • in our oatmeal
  • in our plain yogurt
  • in thumbprint cookies
  • on our banana ice cream
  • on our sprouted muffins
  • on our homemade bread

Using whatever fruit is in season throughout the summer, I make jam instead of buying it because the store bought version is too sweet.  It’s been so hot here in southeastern PA that much of our fruit over-ripens too quickly — luckily this jam is very forgiving — overripe fruit is just perfect.

So far, I’ve made blueberry, peach and plum jam.  They are all excellent! I recommend using white chia seeds for the peach jam – or with any other light-colored fruits.  I made it with black and you can still see the chia seeds – not a problem for us, but they are noticeable.  As far as texture, again the chia seeds don’t bother us, but I suppose there is a slight textural difference when compared to traditional jam.  If you like a smoother jam – especially when you are using fruit that has a skin (don’t bother peeling it!) – blend the fruit or process the fruit in a food processor first before adding to the pot.

As for the sweetener, I used maple syrup for my first blueberry batch, then used coconut nectar for the peach and plum batches.  For the peach jam, I used only two tablespoons of coconut nectar.  The lovely thing is that the jam can be as sweet or as tart as you like.  If you like it really thick, add a little more chia seeds.  The jam will thicken as it cools in the refrigerator.

I have been on the lookout for an easy jam recipe with very little sweetener for years.  And, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for – with the unexpected bonus of Omega 3s from the chia seeds! This jam is definitely a food I feel good about serving my family.

I hope you’ll try it and let me know how you like it!

Chocolate Kale Smoothie

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Before I get to a new smoothie recipe, I wanted to thank all of you for your sincere and supportive messages (online and off) and meals after the passing of Marc’s dad.  Our family is grateful for you during this incredibly difficult time.

I am always looking for ways to use the abundant kale thriving in my garden, so today I made a chocolate kale smoothie today that was inspired by a chocolate smoothie recipe I saw on Jenny Cornbleet’s blog.

I’m sorry there are no pictures – it was a brownish-green, so maybe we’re all better off that way – but I can assure you it’s delicious!

Chocolate Kale Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 heaping T of almond butter (I used raw unsalted)
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 2 cups kale (I like to remove the stems)
  • 3 T raw cacao powder (I use Navitas)
  • 1 T of chia seeds (I used black, but white would work, too)
  • 1 medjool date (pitted)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup ice

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend!

I use a Vitamix high-speed blender, which provides a silky smooth texture to my smoothies.  If you are using a standard blender, be sure to remove all thick stems from the kale.  It also helps to use frozen bananas that have been frozen in small one-inch pieces, and make sure you put all the liquid ingredients on the bottom of the container.  You may need to stop and start the machine a few times to get a smooth consistency.

Do you have any favorite kale smoothie recipes? Please do share!

A Short Personal Message

I struggle with how personal I should get on this blog.  I’m generally a pretty private person.  I don’t feel comfortable sharing many specifics about my family on my Facebook profile.  Here, on this blog, I like to share details about all the yummy food we eat in hopes of introducing a new idea or inspiring different nutritious options in your home.

But, my life is much more complex (as are other bloggers’ lives) than what you read here.

I have contemplated sharing a devastating occurrence in my family for the past week.  I have decided to share it because I would like to ask for your support.

My father-in-law, a mentor and father figure to me for the past 18 years, passed away after a brief illness.  Our family is still in shock and deeply saddened by this.  He was diagnosed with leukemia and just three and a half weeks later was gone.  He was just 69 and no one was ready to say goodbye.

I write today to ask you to consider this: donate your blood.

During the course of my father-in-law’s illness he received numerous blood transfusions.  If it wasn’t for the American Red Cross and the generous people who donate their blood, he wouldn’t have had all those blood transfusions that helped him feel better (if only for a short period of time).  If you have type O blood, then it’s even more important that you consider donating since you have the universal blood type.  Of course, there is a lot that goes into determining if blood is the right match for someone who needs a transfusion, but it’s helpful nonetheless.

Thank you for your support during this awfully difficult time.  I will be back soon…

Our Nut/Seed Butter Story and (Less than) 30 Second Pecan Butter

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homemade pecan butter – so incredibly creamy it drips from the spoon

I love to make my own nut and seed butters.  I can control where the nuts came from, if they are raw or roasted, how much (if any) salt is in them, if they are creamy or chunky, etc.

Nut and seed butters are really easy to make! They do require a food processor or a high-powered blender for best results (although I have heard of people making them in a mortar and pestle).  I decided long ago that I wouldn’t have an appliance-free countertop, so it takes no time at all for me to use my blender or food processor to make the nut butters.

The butter I make most often is peanut butter in my Vitamix.  Peanuts take very little time to turn into peanut butter because of their oil content.  That’s really the key in ease of turning any nut or seed into a butter.

I also make almond butter, cashew butter and tahini (from raw sesame seeds) regularly.  When my daughter was in school, there were no tree nut butters allowed, so I made her sunflower seed butter.

Out of all the nut butters, almond is the hardest to make because the nuts are drier than most.  After damaging my blender once trying to make almond butter without any oil (which is typically how I make my nut butters), I decided to choose to make it only in the food processor from then on.  (And since it takes longer to turn creamy, the food processor is the more convenient tool, anyhow, because it does the work and you can walk away.)

My new favorite nut butter is pecan! I made it yesterday for the first time and I couldn’t believe how fast it came together – in just 30 seconds.  I used raw pecans, no salt, no sweetener, and it’s SO creamy!

It was so easy to do, I can tell you in just one line:  empty raw pecans into blender or food processor and process until creamy.  (If you are using a food processor or standard blender, you may need to stir the pecans/push the pecans down…in my Vitamix I barely had to use the tamper.)

Once you start making your own nut and seed butters, you may realize like we did that they’re so much more delicious than the store bought kinds.  For the most part, it’s also much less expensive to make your own and the possibilities are endless.  Although I choose to keep it simple and use only the nuts or seeds (raw except for peanuts) in the butter, you can blend nuts/seeds, add some salt or seasonings (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice…), sweetener, roast the nuts, etc.

I’ve got a couple more butters on my short list to make next – brazil, walnut and hemp seed.

So how do we use our nut and seed butters?

  • on sprouted muffins or homemade bread
  • in smoothies
  • on apples
  • on celery
  • as a dip for dark chocolate squares (no candy bars needed here!)
  • in granola bars
  • in salad dressings
  • in noodle sauces
  • in dips
  • on rice crackers
  • in cookies and other baked goods
  • off the spoon (?!)

What is your favorite nut or seed butter?

Heat Gotcha? Try this Filling, Creamy Tex Mex Salad

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I like a LOT of taco sour cream (dairy-free) on my salad!

Yesterday was so hot and humid I was scared to turn on the oven or even use the stovetop.  Our downstairs a/c unit was on 70, although the house thermostat registered at 80 degrees.  I guess it couldn’t keep up! I’m hopeful that these heat and humidity spells are few and far between this summer (no such luck, I know…).

When I don’t want to heat the house up any more, I turn to cold foods, or raw foods.  However, it can be a challenge for my family to eat a raw food dinner and be completely satisfied when we are starving.

Last night I made a salad that was very satisfying and I didn’t have to turn on a single heat generating appliance!

It was a tex mex taco salad…crisp, soft red lettuce from our garden, brown rice/black bean/roasted pepper/tomato/cilantro mix, guacamole, and raw taco sour cream (dairy free!).

Here’s how I did it.  (It took about 20 minutes to make a large salad that fed two adults and two children with a tiny bit leftover.  Each person had two servings.)

Step 1:  Wash, dry and tear lettuce into bite sized pieces.  Place on bottom of large pasta bowl.

Step 2.  In a medium bowl, mix 2.5 cups of cooked brown rice (I used my sprouted brown rice that I had in the fridge), 1 can of rinsed black beans (I use Eden BPA-free beans when I don’t have any homemade), 1 large chopped fresh tomato, 1 large chopped roasted red pepper, and a small handful of chopped cilantro.  I salted along the way using sea salt and squeezed half a lime over the mixture, then stirred again.

Step 3.  Make the guacamole by smashing two avocados, half a lime and sea salt together.  Mix until creamy.

Step 4.  Make the taco sour cream by adding one cup of raw cashews to a blender or food processor, 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar, juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, and a pinch of salt.  Blend or process, adding water until you reach your desired consistency.

Step 5.  Top lettuce with rice mixture, guacamole and taco sour cream.  Voila!

This salad would be great with some sliced black olives, a little diced jalapeno for heat, and some crumbled tortilla chips (raw or not).

This salad was fresh, creamy and full of flavor.  There was no oil from a salad dressing, but lots of good fats from the avocados and cashews.  A make-again, for certain!

What’s your favorite no-cook hot weather meal?

Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas: This Book is Incredible

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The brand new Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas

Although I had read about the new Nava Atlas book, Wild About Greens125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy and Other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves, my husband was the one who surprised me with the book on a recent trip home from the library.

If you are interested in adding more greens to your diet like we are, this book should be on your “to read” list. I paged through it for about 10 minutes and know I’ll be digging deeper with my sticky notes handy.

Unless you’ve grown up with a parent or grandparent who made greens a lot, chances are you are just like me and are new to these nutrition powerhouses.  There are many greens I’m not even familiar with, yet.

We do eat our fair share of greens (read about the greens we eat here), and have for a while since we changed our diets, but I know we can eat more.

The most common question I hear when I pick up my CSA share each week is “what do I do with these greens?” Greens are also the most left-behind vegetable.  Last week we scored an extra two bundles of collards, for a total of three, because so many people left them behind.  Tonight we cooked two of those bundles.

Two bundles of collards, fresh from our CSA, cut into ribbons – before cooking

Ask my husband, I ate about five servings.  It’s not because I’m a good cook (I’m just a home cook that cooks A LOT), it’s just because the recipe was so simple and the greens so fresh.

This book will tell you exactly what to do with all greens – and make them taste good.

Our collards after cooking (you can see how they shrunk)

See the word “Vegan” in the title and think this book won’t be for you? Don’t worry one little bit! There are no strange, unusual ingredients in the book.  Ms. Atlas uses the freshest whole foods ingredients in her greens recipes.

There are also several green smoothie and green juice recipes that I’m bookmarking!

Let’s Talk About Greens:  What are your favorites? And, which do you stay away from at all costs?

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