Breakfast Sandwiches – Mediterranean Style!


Simple meze of feta cheese and olives: charact...

 

Today is the last day of summer vacation for the boys.  We are about to head off on a family day out….not sure where..we like to just go and see where we end up ūüôā    To set us up for the adventure,  I made a delicious breakfast for the family.

My boys are beginning to appreciate stacking and building food, burger-style.  Peanut tends to add more variety than does Button, but adapting the presentation of the food, a la family style, helps encourage them to experiment.  Scouring the fridge for ingredients my boys might eat, I pulled together the following hearty and protein-packed breakfast. Continue reading

Lemon Salt Body Scrub


I love the daffodils blooming in the garden, the blossoms bursting forth upon the trees. These are signs that spring is here, not to mention the unusually warm weather! I have been faithfully applying my coconut and olive oil body juice each day, and I’m very pleased with my skin. But now am going to be baring all, at least in terms of showing a little more leg, foot and arm, I want to take my beauty routine up a notch and give my skin some power-washing. Continue reading

Breakfast Sandwiches – Mediterranean Style!


I am off work this week! ¬†The joys of teaching come with a perk. ¬†I admit I am very lucky to have school vacations off. ¬†I finally get to do all the things I wish I could do while I’m busy working. ¬†Today I got to make a delicious breakfast for the boys and myself (Hubby is recuperating after neck surgery so is on a more liquid diet – BellyFULL pops to the rescue). Continue reading

Coconut Oil


Continuing my Oil theme, I want to extol the wonders of my new favorite oil: Coconut Oil.  I know many people are on the fence about this natural oil because it is packed with the evil saturated fat!!!

 

Well, my friends, there is good news.  Firstly, take a look at the populations that are the largest consumers of coconut oil and related products (due to the fact they live in an area that provides oodles of coconuts as a natural resource).  These populations tend to have much less heart disease or diabetes than North America and many European countries.  Then read here to learn more about studies on coconut oil which contains lauric acid which is excellent for heart health.  Finally, head off to one of my favorite blogs, Hybrid Rasta Mama where you will find wonderful news about coconut oil and some delicious ideas for its use.

I have found that I cook with coconut oil almost all the time when cooking for the boys. ¬†My relationship with this oil began when my son’s nutritionist (when undergoing chemo) helped me create menus that would build up my son from frail waif to superman. ¬†She explained that this oil would provide healthy fats which were much needed…this worried me that I would gain weight too, but she assured me that the fats were actually good for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the waistline.

I recently posted about making a protein breakfast with coconut oil used for the scrambled eggs. ¬† Delicious! ¬†I also use coconut oil when boiling pasta, saut√©ing vegetables, and making popcorn. ¬†Some people use it for baking (I don’t bake so I can’t rave about it personally). ¬†There are also several non-culinary ways I use this versatile oil:

1. Lib balm: straight from the tub, scoop a little out and use a finger to rub on lips. ¬†Just make sure you don’t lick it off if you love coconut! ¬†I have not had chapped lips all winter.

2.¬†Hair treatment:¬†Scoop a quarter-sized scoop from the tub and massage into scalp. ¬†Better than any product merely containing coconut oil! ¬†I do mix with olive oil also to help the oil massage more easily. ¬†I am left with gorgeous smelling, shiny, and healthy hair. ¬†I don’t go for trims as often as I don’t get split ends. (I will comb the oils down the shaft of my hair to coat it all over after a lovely scalp massage.

3. Boo boos: ¬†Yes, I have spread coconut oil on my kids’ boo boos before. ¬†The oil contains anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. ¬†it also speeds up the healing time of bruises.

4.¬†Skin softener:¬†a great alternative to olive oil as a moisturizer.skin softener. ¬†As I become more worldly about the junk marketed in pretty bottles, I find myself wanting to use only ingredients safe enough to eat on my skin…the largest organ of the body!

5. Dog/Cat coat glosser: Again, just like olive oil, this oil glosses up coats and also lubricates the inner workings of our  pets beautifully.

6. Deodorant:¬†don’t look so shocked…it works. ¬†I mix with baking soda for even better results.

So that is my little list of great things I do with coconut oil. ¬†This list is tiny in comparison to my friend, the true coconut oil expert over at Hybrid Rasta Moma¬†who has 160 uses to date. ¬†She is my inspiration and I will be visiting her site to develop my own repertoire of uses. If you haven’t tried coconut oil yet, I suggest you give it a whirl….it’s wonderful!

Vegetable Pasta


Trying to add Kale to my family’s diet has been a challenge. ¬†This recipe gives me hope. ¬†It came from a site as I was perusing the multitude of great blogs with inspiring cooking ideas. ¬†I forgot to save the info on the fabulous blogger who had this idea so I cannot give credit…it is not my own recipe. ¬†Had to share anyway…please claim with link to your post if it is yours so i can give credit ūüôā

Kale

Kale (Photo credit: Another Pint Please...)

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.
  • 12 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti or linguini
  • 1 bunch (about 1/2 lb.) red or green chard
  • 1 bunch (about 1/2 lb.) dinosaur (lacinato) kale
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, about 9 minutes, or according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, prepare the chard and kale: Tear the leaves from their tough ribs and stems, discarding the ribs and stems. Stack the leaves and fold or roll up and slice them thinly. Transfer the greens to a colander and rinse under cold running water, then drain well.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the greens and stir to coat evenly with the oil. (If they don’t all fit at once, add in handfuls after allowing the first batch to wilt.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.

Drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot. Add the cooked greens, cheese, the 1/4 tsp. salt and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and stir to mix well. Divide evenly among pasta plates or bowls and serve immediately. Pass lemon wedges at the table. Serves 4.

Roast Chicken: Easy and Economical


As usual I am running late as we all tumbled in from work/school. ¬†Traffic was a little slow due to the unexpected snowfall we had last night. ¬† Peanut and Button got down to chores and then homework, Hubby took care of phone calls, and I began the roast chicken before settling down to homework with the boys. ¬†Today was all about persuading Button that his biography on Derek Jeter need more than three incomplete sentences!I love to roast…I am actually known in my circle of friends for it.

Today I will tell you about my roast chicken:

Ingredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

Sea Salt with Sea Veg

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, halved

1 bulb garlic, chopped up finely

1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

Rosemary finely chopped and mixed with lemon juice

Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Carefully remove the giblets and rinse thoroughly.  Dry by patting with a clean dishcloth.  Stuff the cavity with garlic, a lemon slice, and some of the Lemon Rosemary juice.  Rub the outside of the chicken with the Rosemary-Lemon juice, rub in the garlic, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.  This keeps the whole chicken moist but you can add the olive oil also.  Today, I did not.  I cook the chicken untied and upside down for 30 minutes.  This really lets the juices run into the breast nicely.  Upside-down

I then turn the chicken over, rub and sprinkle again of desires and keep roasting for another hour or until the juices run clear when you put a knife between the leg and thigh.  Take out the chicken and let it rest for about 30 minutes covered lightly in foil.

Roast chicken, the most commonly eaten white meat

I then serve the carved chicken for dinner.  Today we had corn, carrots, string beans and a side of french bread with butter.

The following day, the cold chicken becomes sandwich meat.  Peanut love teriyaki chicken so I also reheat it in low sodium teriyaki sauce and keep it warm in a thermos for his lunch with a side of vegetables (depends what is fresh).

Once we have used up the bulk of the meat, I boil down the carcass and make chicken soup. ¬†I will write about that in a future post. ¬†I usually do it very well, making up my own recipe as I go along, ¬†but this week I am trying a new ingredient so we will see how it works out…stay tuned! ¬†Until then, try out some soup recipes from these favorites of mine:

Family Dinner Time!


As part of my project to create A Better Me I have made it a goal to eat the same healthy way I feed my children.  All to often you would find me concocting a smorgasbord of nutritionally sound, organic meals for the boys, then collapsing with a bowl of cereal or reheated pizza later on in the evening.  Not good!

So…despite Button and myself running fevers (apparently there is a virus doing the rounds), I set to work on a family dinner. ¬†Spaghetti and Meat-sauce made the organic and nutritional way (for the most part. ¬†Better yet, it was easy and I took healthy shortcuts to save my sanity, as I was not feeling so great. ¬†Here is my attempt at giving you the lowdown on how I made the meal:

First of all, I believe in organic foods as much as possible (some fruits and veggies are non-negotiable).  My main products are:

  • Organic beef (the leanest I can find)
  • Organic, whole wheat spaghetti which I am trying to mix with Ezekiel Pasta to wean the boys into the more healthy sprouted grain pasta

  • Coconut oil ¬†– the nutritionist at my son’s hospital recommended this oil above all others for its power to provide some amazing punch: ¬†there are so many benefits I won’t even try to claim expertise¬†on this, just refer you here for the lowdown.¬†
  • Wine which I store in my trusty Pellegrino bottle…I never manage to finish a bottle so I save the leftovers once they are less drinkable and use it for cooking!
  • Organic vegetables such as mushrooms, onion, yellow or red peppers, and garlic
  • Oregano
  • Kombu seaweed which naturally salts the water while providing a nutrient-rich punch which helps maintain a good digestive system (do not use daily for more than 2 weeks at a time as it contains a large amount of iodine and can imbalance the thyroid system) ¬†

I begin with melting the coconut oil in a large skillet and browning the meat usually adding a sprinkle (I don’t measure anything) of oregano.

The vegetables are very roughly chopped for two reasons.  I believe it saves time (lazy but happy) and so my fussy family can pick things out more easily while getting the goodness of having them cooking in the sauce. (I will let you into a little secret later).

I then add the veggies and cook lightly…the less cooked the better for retaining nutrients.

My favorite flavoring is, of course, the wine that I add to the sauce.  The wine is actually added during the meat browning, after the veggies are in, and I have poured the sauce over the top!  Delicious!

 

I cheat completely with the sauce on a workday (especially when I am running a fever) and use a delicious pre-made variety that is organic and contains less sodium than other brands.

Now for the big secret: ¬†I actually finely chop some of the veggies as they are cooking so that they become hidden in the sauce. ¬†Kiddies see big chunks of veggies and pull them out, but they don’t think to look hard at the little tiny pieces on their plate ūüôā ¬†They are also being provided the opportunity to have a go at the veggies if they so wish…eventually they will.

Once the sauce is simmering on low, I prepare the pasta. ¬†As I’m trying to include an as yet unknown pasta in the mix, I stick with regular Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (yes, it’s organic but not always), and in goes the Kombu. ¬†Once boiling, I cook for as many minutes as I think I need to (my goodness this woman doesn’t follow the rules) and serve al-dente without butter. ¬†(You can add butter to taste as desired).

In order to please everyone, I serve Peanut with the sauce on the side, Hubby and I have the plate full of pasta and sauce and poor Button had to have crackers as he was still suffering with the stomach bug…but he did join us at the table because, as he declared, “I LOVE having meals together and I don’t want to miss it!” ¬†Aww!

And that is how I throw together a healthy and tasty meal in a really short time for my boys…and now I am joining in too! ¬†Oh, and Peanut and I had leftovers for dinner tonight which tasted even better! ¬†Button has graduated to plain pancakes and Hubby was out.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring…I’m thawing out chicken as I type ūüôā