Food Information

Paper Plate Gourmet : Brussel Sprouts

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Guess What.  I love brussel sprouts.  HA! Who ever thought they would hear THAT coming out of my mouth?  Please pick your jaw up off the ground.

 

I bought these at the Farmer’s Market by the office  (I felt very sophisticated) .  I liked that I could buy just a little since only Pinto and I enjoy eating them in my house.

 

They are super easy to make.  When I eat them, I feel as if I have finally grown up.  (Although, I know plenty of adults who won’t eat them. Yep! I am talking about you Eyeball!)

 

Ingredients

 

The Aforementioned Brussel Sprouts

1 TBS of Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375
  2. Layer a cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  3. Cut the Brussel Sprouts in half (I sometimes remove the outside leaves if they look unappealing)
  4. Toss with Olive Oil
  5. Spread them out on the cookie sheet, salt & pepper them to your preference
  6. Bake for 8 minutes, stir them up, bake for another 5-7 minutes

 

I like them best hot.   When I tried reheating them  I wasn’t too happy with them.  It could just be that the microwave is not the answer to reheating everything.

 

Does anyone else like Brussel Sprouts?  Did seeing this make you run to the store to buy some?   HA!

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Simple Ways to Save : Keeping Berries Fresh

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I had a berry problem.  Max loves berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – even black berries (I find them weird… sorry Blackberry Fans!).

 

But they didn’t stay fresh for long!  Even in the fridge.

 Keeping berries fresh

 

The scenario :  Saturday morning, while I do my weekly shopping, I grab a pint of one of the afore-mentioned berries.   By Tuesday morning they would be gooey, disgusting and occasionally covered in fur.

 

Especially the organic ones, which would drive the non-organic-loving hubby of mine out of his skull.

 

Now if I was my grandmother, I would just cut around the offending matter, but mentally I can’t.  Sorry, I am easily grossed out.

 

So, I started doing some reading.  Some people suggest soaking the fruit in a 1:10 mixture of water to white vinegar.  Ehhhh…. Not really my thing.

 

Then I found a tip that the berries need to stay dry.

 

Ding!  The bells started going off.

 

 

Now I prep my berries by wrapping them in a paper towel.  I definitely notice getting some additional time out of the package.

 

Do you have a fruit/veggie storage tip?  I could use it!   I lose more money in  unused fruit than anything else.

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Paper Plate Gourmet : Zucchini Pasta

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Is everyone ready for something that DOESN’T contain Coconut Oil? I know, shocking coming out of my kitchen.

 

Now that I am on Pinterest, I have seen a lot of people pinning Zucchini Dishes.  In some of them, people even used it as – wait for it- spaghetti.  I know! Crazy, but I decided to try it.  I am adventurous that way.

 

I call it Spaghini and it is delish!

 

The trick here is having one of these things – a Julienne Peeler.  Fancy!

 

Use it on the zucchini and viola – you have spaghetti that is not a carbohydrate!

 

This made enough to feed me, but it was probably a portion and a half….

Ingredients

2 Zucchinis (I used organic because they are on the Dirty Dozen list)

1 TBS Olive Oil

½ TBS Minced Garlic (more or less if you want)

Pasta Sauce (I used a jarred sauce – I know! Sacrilege! And I just wasted the organic zucchinis…) to taste -I like my food swimming in sauce

 

Directions

  1. Julienne the Zucchinis
  2. Heat the Olive Oil in a pan for a minute over medium heat
  3. Add the Garlic and sauté for around a minute
  4. Add the Zucchini and allow them to cook up a bit, but stir often.
  5. Add the Sauce to the Zucchinis
  6. When everything is nice and hot, put it on a plate and eat!

 

I added some Pecorino Romano cheese.    I also added a piece of bread for dipping, which defeated my ‘bread free’ meal…. Boo Dizee.

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Food for Thought : What Does Organic Really Mean

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In last little dissertation on GMOs, I said the best way to avoid them is by buying Organic.  What does that mean?  The nifty graphic below from Robin O’Brien pretty much sums it up:

 

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be more benefits to buying organic than just avoiding GMOs…

 

But here is the thing – there are a couple different levels of Organic…. I know, I know.  Why can’t this stuff just be straight forward?  I don’t know what to tell you.  We live in a nutty world.

 

When a product says it Contains Organic Ingredients it means less than 70% of the ingredients are Organic.  (hey, it is better than nothing).

 

If a product says it is Made With Organic Ingredients it means at least 70% of the ingredients are Organic.

 

The real labels we should be looking for are Organic (contains at least 95% Organic Ingredients) and 100% Organic (which are completely Organic).   Only these products are allowed to contain the USDA Organic Seal.

 

When it comes to buying fruits and veggies, there are some ways to save.  The Dirty Dozen typically contain higher pesticide levels when conventionally grown.

The Dirty Dozen are:

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Ernest Borgnine (just checking to see if you are still reading…)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

I have been buying organic strawberries all summer; Max is a huge fan.  Typically, they have been running around $3.99.  Not too bad, especially when he eats them all.

 

The Clean Thirteen have been found to have the lowest levels of pesticides, mostly due to the fact these fruits and veggies have thicker skins or need to be pealed.  You can save money here by not always buying organic

The Clean Thirteen are:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Onion
  • Pineapple
  • Peas (sweet)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

 So, there you have it.  A simple starting point for purchasing Organic.   Next week I plan on posting about Organic Dairy and Meat.  Who else is excited?

 

Just me, huh.  :)

 

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Paper Plate Gourmet : Chicken Fajitas (Made With Coconut Oil!)

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Corn Starch, Corn Protein Hydrolyzed, Sugar, Salt, Maltodextrin, Spices, Pepper(s) Chili, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Soybean Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Citric Acid, Color(s) Artifical, Silicon Dioxide Added to Prevent Caking, Natural Smoke Flavor, Sulfiting Agents, Ethoxyquin Preservative

 

Huh?

 

Those are the ingredients to the Old El Paso Fajita seasoning package.

 

EWE!!!!

 

I figured I could do better than that – so I did some google searches for fajita seasoning and found a few recipes (such as this one by 100 days of Real Food) which gave some starting points.

 

 

Here is my uncomplicated and pronounceable recipe for chicken fajitas

 

Ingredients

 

1 lb chicken, cut up (I used organic chicken and was very proud of myself)

1 or 2 red peppers (sliced or diced, however you roll)

½ onion (I used a yellow onion because I was feeling crazy!)

1 TBS-ish minced Garlic

½ TBS of coconut oil (Yup!! Good old coconut oil)

1 lemon

Decent amount of Smoked Paprika – I shook it all over the skillet (to taste)

Smaller amount of Cumin (to taste)

Even less Black Pepper (to taste)

Smallish amount of Salt (to taste)

 

Directions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat
  2. Add chicken, wait for it to start to cook, stirring often
  3. Add the onion, let it brown a bit
  4. Add the peppers, cook for another 3-5 minutes
  5. Add the garlic
  6. Squeeze the lemon into the skillet
  7. Shake on the spices
  8. Stir
  9. Shake a little more
  10. Let the food simmer on the burner for another few minutes

 

You can serve this with all sorts of fun things – salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro and/or cheese. (I like Monterey Jack) 

This was my lunch one day at work.  Impressive, right?   I microwaved the fajitas mix for a minute, stirred, hit it up for another minute. 

I then heated my flour tortilla for 10 seconds and  added cheese, cilantro & a touch of sour cream.

Yummo and it beats Taco Bell!

 

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Paper Plate Gourmet : No Fail Guacamole

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Did you know avocados are the new black? 

 

My first foray with this fruit (yep! It is a fruit  – I even looked it up!) is guacamole. 

 

Here is my simple recipe

 

Ingredients

 

1 ripe avocado

1 lime

Bunch of cilantro (to taste)

Garlic Powder (to taste)

Salt

 

Directions

  1. Cut the avocado and spoon all the good stuff into a bowl
  2. Cut and squeeze the lime’s juice into the bowl on top of the avocado
  3. Add some shredded cilantro on top of the avocado
  4. Sprinkle on a decent amount of garlic powder and a tad of salt
  5. Use a fork and mash that bad boy up
  6. Eat!

In a quintessential Doofy Dizee move, I bought a bag of Garden of Eating’s Red Hot Blue Tortilla Chips to eat with my guac and was completely shocked to realize they were spicy!  Doh!  I should have read the package a little bit more carefully!

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School Lunches

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So it happened.  My big boy Max has just headed off to kindergarten.  Insert uncontrollable sobbing here.  

 Once I got past the disbelief of how quickly five years has flown by, I was faced with my newest dilemma – trying to figure out what to pack for lunch!

 

I have two issues, the least of which is trying to fit all his food in his lunch box. 

 

The second is menu.  While Max is definitely a better eater than Cooper (or my husband for that matter) he isn’t what one would call a culinary adventurer…  Besides, I didn’t want to send him with a  peanut butter sandwich on his first day of school, so I ended up with this:

 

Mini-Bagel with butter

Strawberries

String Cheese

Pretzel Goldfish

Apple Juice Box

 

He also gets an afternoon snack (which cannot contain peanuts) so I sent him with water and Stacy Pita Chips which he loves. 

I hope he brings home the ice packs and thermos and doesn’t throw them out!  I realized I didn’t prep him before school.

 

Now, all I need to do is figure out the next 179 days….

 

All joking aside, here are two of my favorite sites for lunch ideas:

100 Days of Real Food –  is a cool site to follow on facebook because the blogger typically posts a picture of her kids’ lunch.  Fascinating.  This particular post talks all about her food containers, ideas, etc.  Very informative. 

Weelicious – Everything on this site looks so fantastic!  This link contains a bunch of ideas

Actually, both posts have given me ideas for myself!  Today I spent so much time with Max’s lunch, I had no time to make something for myself!  I totally need to start prepping the night before.

 

What are you guys packing for the kiddos?

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Food for Thought : Ways to Avoid GMOs

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So, after my longwinded, whoops,  I mean informative, GMO post last week, I promised a short list of ways to avoid GMO’s.

Therefore, without further adieu:

 

 

The most commonly modified foods are:

 

(drumroll please)

 

  • Canola Oil
  • Soy
  • Corn (Corn, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash
  • Papaya’s (mostly from Hawaii)
  • Sugar Beets

 

As if those items weren’t enough, there are also GMO derived additives such as:

Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Natural or Artificial Flavors, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin or Yeast Products.

 

After I read this list I was like- PHEW!  I know I don’t eat a lot of these products. 

Sugar Beets?  I don’t even know what they look like.  And Papaya?  I don’t even know how to cut one… (I know, I could watch a you tube video…. But, honestly, I really don’t know what I am missing…so why bother)

I was wrong… again. 

A product that simply lists ‘sugar’ as an ingredient is probably using sugar derived from sugar beets.  (PS – it is believed that GMO sugar beet production is directly related to the decrease in the bee and butterfly population.  No bueno.)

 

Soy & Canola Oil are two of the most widely used oils – from cookies to raisins to potato chips.    They turn up just about everywhere, so it pays to read the labels.  

 

Dang you- Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix!

 

Now, I am making an assumption - if an ingredient is listed on your food label, it is most likely a GMO.  Why?   Because they are the cheaper crop.  (Many are even subsidized by the government).  And what is always the bottom line?  Money! 

Besides, look at the numbers below – and that was as of 2010.  The odds are likely to be GMO.

 

Image: Nature’s Path Organic Foods

Since labeling is not required, the best way to avoid GMOs is to go Organic.  I know they can be tough to find, cost prohibitive or you are married to someone like my husband. 

 

You can also look for the Non-GMO Project label which has been popping up. 

They are a non-profit organization committed to providing non-GMO choices.  I see these choices in the decently-stocked Organic/Natural section of my  local Stop & Shop.  

Last note – when buying fresh produce, you can check the fruits and vegetables PLU code. 

  • Ones that start with a 4 are conventionally grown with the use of pesticides. 
  • Ones that begin with an 8 are genetically modified
  • Ones that begin with a 9 are organically grown.

 

As G I Joe used to say, “Knowing is Half the Battle”. 

 

I didn’t think She-Ra’s battle cry of ‘By the Honor of Greyskull’ was appropriate.  Unless, of course, Hordak is buying genetically modified zucchini.

 

(Hmmm… maybe this post was still too long….)

 

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