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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Working for a living


I've recently returned to the full-time workforce, and did not want to compromise my recent weight loss, or heathly eating habits. A friend directed me to cute little Jennifer McCann's blog (http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/), and I was just fascinated by the attention to detail paid, the healthy-looking food, and the variety she has been able to produce. I was inspired to run to the store, and purchase one of those cute little compartmentalized lunch boxes. My first day at work was made delicious AND healthy by what I packed, pictured below.





The light blue "domino"-looking thing, is the ice pack, that sets above the salad, on holders that keep it off the food, while still keeping your food cool.  Breakfast was the cooling and yummy straberries and cantaloupe.  Lunch was the salad and oriental noodle mix (store-bought, I admit).  Snack was the whole grain crackers and super-sharp cheddar.

Now, I may still be a meat eater, but there is nothing to keep me from having a salad lunch every now and again.  In fact, now that I am back to work, I need to NOT be dragged down into that sleepy, post-lunch feeling!  The two smaller containers fit into the larger one, and they all have lids.  Plus, they all have measurement marks on their sides, so portion control is a snap. Now that I'm into my second week, I find the most difficult part of the whole operation is; having enough energy to make a nice healthy lunch!  I try to get it done while preparing supper, because food in the mornings is just not my thing. 

Eat well, my friends, pack a lunch, and save some money and eat healthy, too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back to Philadelphia!

I'm so proud of being in the Real Women of Philadelphia recipe contest.  Paula Deen cheers us on every day, the ladies competing are funny, talented and generous, and I'm having a blast trying to make my recipes without dissolving into hysterical laughter the whole time.  Go check out my latest video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hDmnXe7U6g or go to http://www.realwomenofphiladelphia.com/ to see all the fun for yourself!  Eat well, my friends, and have an easy, cream cheesy, Philly-tastic kind of weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Farmers Market



Spring does finally come to Anchorage, and with it the multitudes of farmers markets with their beautiful fruits and vegetables.  Last weekend one of the first markets opened for business.  Now, there was not a lot available yet, but in combination with the local grocery stores, I was able to gather enough to make a favorite summertime dish, ratatouille.

This dish to me, epitomizes the fact that when one combines perfectly fresh ingredients, and a long, slow cook time, one achieves dimensions of flavor unheard of in the fast-food, pre-packaged ickyness that goes on today.  Here is the result, at the beginning of an hour long simmer, with simply garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.

 

The simple beauty, but complex flavors are a prime example of using mixed vegetables to elevate a regular old side dish of vegetables to something that shines by it's own merit. Eat well my friends.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Field Trip Foodie

Since I have decided to incorporate more meat-free dishes into my diet, and was totally craving some wonderful Felafel in healthy whole wheat pita bread, I did my usual Internet research. I enjoy taking a "foodie field trip" by making dishes from other countries, a great way to learn about other cultures, as well! I used a combination of recipes and techniques to create the yummy felafels, one of which is pictured below.

I did not want to deep-fry the Felafels, as I felt that it would detract from the "healthy" part of this dish, so I shallow-fried them in a combination of olive and vegetable oils.  I filled the pitas with lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced onion and cucumbers.  I made a yogurt sauce with yogurt, water, sesame oil and salt and pepper.  All I can say is how wonderful it is to fulfill a craving, and eat deliciously and healthily at the same time!

I feel so empowered when I create dishes like these.  Proving that with a little time and research, those boxed, pre-packed mixtures are basically useless.  Not to mention filled with chemicals and preservatives.  I mean, how hard is it to throw some beans, herbs and seasonings into a food processor, blend it, then refrigerate it?  Hint: NOT HARD!!

This reminds me of another pet peeve of mine.  People who cannot seem to mix ingredients in a bowl and simply must BUY cocktail sauce, or tartar sauce, for instance.  I will look into the suspects' refrigerator (after they've told me that we simply cannot have shrimp cocktail, because they  have no cocktail sauce), and notice that they have ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and a lemon!  Um, mix much?  Same goes for tartar sauce...this same person had mayonnaise and relish on the door of their fridge, and said "oh, that's too bad, I have no tartar  sauce, either".  OH. MY. GOSH.  Really? Eat well, my friends, and for the love of all that's good and holy, mix a couple things up from time to time, OK?  There, I feel better now. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Currying Favor

While recipe testing for the contest (see Philadelphia Pride post, below), I realized that  my short-lived Suzy Homemaker time is coming to a screeching halt!  I therefore decided that I must take measures to insure that returning to the workaday world does not exhaust me beyond repair.  I came to the conclusion that I must begin the process of refining my diet back to energy-producing and healthy foods, begin walking (the sit-ups three times a week ARE helping, though), and drink more green tea.

Although not a Vegan, nor a vegetarian, eating for health has always fascinated me, ever since my research into macrobiotics, and other health-based dietary trends.  Oh, and I've never bought into a certain high-protein, low carb diet that was all the rage a few years back.  Can you imagine the business the cardiologists got out of that one?  Anyway, I digress. While surfing the web I came upon a Cauliflower, Potato and Chick-pea curry recipe that I decided I must make myself, in an effort to make at least a portion of my intake meat-free.  Now, I don't think I can ever really give up beef jerky, but teeny tiny baby steps, you know?  The curry is pictured below....

Now, as much as I love my pork ribs, my whole roasted chicken, my marinated skirt steak, I must admit that this was outrageously delicious. The way the cauliflower dissolved on the tongue, with the meaty chick peas, the lovely soft potato, and the accents of onion, garlic and ginger, were a revelation.  Having a good, home made curry brings me right back to the wonderful curries I enjoyed in England, and enables me to feel good that meat-free need not be taste-free.  Eat well, my friends.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Philadelphia Pride!!

I am proud to announce (thanks to seeing Paula Deens' post on our competition website).  That I have been competing in a nationwide cooking contest!  It's called Real Women of Philadelphia, and it's sponsored by the famous and lovely, vivacious PAULA DEEN!  And, Kraft Foods, of course. You can see for yourself at http://www.realwomenofphiladelphia.com/

I am so pleased and proud to have taken this journey.  It's been a real test of culinary skills, patience, and love.  Speaking of love, there is one part of this competition that took me completely by surprise - and that is the wonderful camaraderie and support that all the women have shared.  You would think that in a Nation-wide competition, that some detractors and negative Nellies would be sounding off long and loudly.  I have seen absolutely none of that.  Just a bunch of thoughtful, caring women who cheer each other on, stand by with help and advice, or simply share their bloopers and laughs.  I am absolutely humbled by the quality of the human beings that I get to share this moment with.

I am also proud to be part of something that Paula Deen endorses, because here is a true Southern Belle who overcame some seriously large life obstacles, and worked hard to achieve her celebrity cooking status.  I am in awe of her.  Please check out the website, perhaps enter a video, or cheer us girls on!  Also, if you'd like to see me in action, you can check out my videos at: http://www.YouTube.com/user/allymv1

Eat well, my friends, and do something that scares you, that puts you "out there" for the whole world to see what you love. You only go around once in this life, and taking a chance is rewarding in so many different ways.