Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yummy Banana Bread

It's officially fall here in Texas. We endured a long, hot, horrible summer to finally get to the gorgeous weather we have been enjoying these past few days. I am so excited it is fall, I have lit all the cinnamon and spice candles, enjoyed a Starbucks hot cocoa, and today made banana bread. YUMMY! I have never made banana bread before (at lease that I can recall) so this was a new adventure. As you have surmised from previous posts, I am not the cook in the family, but I am trying to learn. Recipes that have 4-5 ingredients are the ones I can follow and do well with so when I found this recipe on allrecipes.com I had to give it a try.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

My mom has a wheat grinder so I have always had fresh wheat flour. I am always looking for a good store-bought flour and this was pretty tasty and fluffy. They have organic versions as well.








The more butter, the better. :)

It was delicious, though not as bananay as I would have liked but I think I didn't have ripe enough bananas.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Casserole!


For my Monday Diabetic Friendly meal, I made a spaghetti squash casserole.  It was so simple, and I was surprised by how much I loved the spaghetti squash.  I was skeptical, but it turned out well.  I thought I could trick my son into eating it, after all, it DID look like spaghetti, right?  But to no avail.  So while I would call this a success for a low carb, high veggie meal, I would not call it child-friendly.


1 small spaghetti squash (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
1/2 cup water
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or Italian Seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place with cut side down in a baking dish; add water. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until it is easily pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, scoop out squash, separating the strands with a fork.


 In a skillet, cook beef, onion, red pepper and garlic until meat is browned and the vegetables are tender. Drain; add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, pepper and squash. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to an ungreased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Artichokes with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

I found this recipe from an old magazine and tweaked it a little to make a delicious snack.  I love artichokes and they are super healthy, but I've never cooked them ever before.  I've always used a can (I know, I know!) or just stuck to ordering them when I went out.  So this was a brave new world for me to venture into.  If you've never dealt with an artichoke before, you may want to watch this video, just as a little background!

Take up to 4 artichoke, trim the stems and slice the top portion off (about 1/3 of the top so the inards are exposed.)


Place artichoke in boiling water (with salt) and 1 lemon (quartered).  Boil until outer leaves pull off easily (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup mayo, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 grated clove of garlic.  Cover and place in fridge until artichokes are done.


Now peel the artichokes layer by layer, dip into the mayo mixture and enjoy!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

High Value Coupon Alert: Vick's Nature Fusion

I saw this coupon for Vick's newest line "Nature Fusion."  This is flavored with honey instead of artificial flavorings.  Might be something nice to have on hand and perhaps with the coupon, you can get is free or super cheap!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Healthy and Homemade Pigs in a Snuggie

I love corn dogs and pigs in a blanket, so I figure, let make them healthier (I say healthier because I'm not sure I'm ever going to find a HEALTHY pig in a blanket!!)

Here's how: 
Put 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour in a bowl, mix in 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup soft (I mean, like very soft) butter, 6 ounces yogurt.  Mix together.  


Lay dough on counter (I used a cutting board to make cutting them easy.)  Roll out into a squarish shape and cut into squares.  (I used a pizza cutter to make it super simple.)


Take hot dogs and cut them in half.  This recipe used 6 hot dogs, but it might be more or less depending on if you buy "bun length" or regular hot dogs.  Roll each half hot dog into the dough and place, seam side down on oiled cookie sheet.


Bake them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

New System for Food Labeling?

I came across this article today, that suggests that consumers need a simpler labeling system.  At first I was enraged, thinking they were wanting to take information away from the consumer, but then I realized this would be in addition to the current nutrition labels that packages already have.  This report essentially encourages a 3 mark system... where 3 marks is healthier than 2 marks.  This would make, the report claims, buying healthier food easier for the time crunched consumer.  I'll admit, when I'm in Whole Foods, I often look at the ANDI score of items to make sure I'm buying the most nutrient dense food I can.

So would a prominent display of nutritional value cause you (or another consumer) to buy a 3 mark product as opposed to a 2 mark?  Do you think this new system would help companies produce healthier products?  Can we trust the government (with their subsidies in all the wrong places and lobbyists in their back pockets) to even come up with a "healthy" guide?  Just some thoughts to ponder.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Target to Sell Only Sustainable Seafood by 2015

Here's a hoorah for Target, a big box store who is taking the steps to begin to sell ONLY sustainable seafood by 2015.  This is a move in the right direction and one of the greatest reasons why I do most my shopping at Target.  Target is committed to community, sustainability, and they offer more organic and local produce than any other "normal" store in the area!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

My son loves trucks.  I mean, trucks are his passion.  We've spent many dinners at the local IHOP by the truck stop watching the trucks.  We've spent almost every trash day in his room, waiting for garbage trucks to go by. He loves them.  Recently he was insisting on more trucks, but all the garbage trucks had come and gone for the day, so I brought up YouTube and searched Trucks.  Some videos are just 10 minutes of big 18 wheelers driving by.  *yawn* for me, but the best entertainment around for my truck enthused son.

We came across this video where it follows a bulk garbage truck around picking up the large items left by residents.  Now, I don't want to get all preachy here or anything, but I couldn't help but think how wasteful this all seems to be.  Look how much garbage has been created by just a few people?  Whole couches, perfectly good pieces of wood, all just crushed in the truck to be deposited in some landfill.  Which brings me to the topic of recycling... it seems like long gone are the days of "wear it out, fix it up, or do without."  I'm not suggesting we go without the comforts of modern day, but perhaps we could be more thoughtful about what it means to truly be friendly to this earth we live on.

Here are three super simple ways to reduce your impact:

  • Use reusable bags at the grocery store.  I'm a reusable bag convert.  They carry more stuff, stores give you credit for using them, and each one reduces the amount of bags in the environment by hundreds!  My bags I've had for more than a year and I use them each and every trip.
  • Recycle everything you can.  Most cities have recycling which is just as simple as throwing your trash away.  If you don't have that luxury, a lot of cities offer drop off stations.
  • Reuse anything you can.  Before I trash anything I think- can I reuse this in some fashion in my home?  If not- would someone else want it?  Think Goodwill, Freecycle, or Craigslist.  (Listing on Freecycle and Craigslist are free and you would be amazed at what people would love to take off your hands.)
  • Encourage companies to reduce the amount of packaging they use by purchasing from bulk bins or low packaging items.  I support local business and other moms, who often have little to no packaging.
  • Support local business.  This reduces the amount of travel your item takes to get to you.  This includes food, furniture, electronics, etc.
Not only will making these simple changes reduce the amount of crap that goes into our landfills, but also reduces the amount of smog that is polluting our air.  We don't have to be uber reusable gurus to make a difference.  If there is one small change you can make (like giving up your Styrofoam coffee cup for a mug) then we are making a difference.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Product Review - Seeds of Change Salad Dressing

I love ranch dressing. For years, it's been ranch or bust. And while I love a good ranch, it's not the healthiest in the world. In my search for a healthier salad dressing, I tried Seeds of Change. I was at Whole Foods in Plano (I know, shocking) perusing the dressings and there was a manufacturers coupon for a free Seeds of Change product so I got two - the Greek feta vinaigrette and the balsamic vinaigrette.

The Greek feta is amazing!!!! It is loaded with flavor and has a great tang to it. It has a little more sodium than I'd like but still better than many. The balsamic is rich and chunky, perfect for a glaze. Two thumbs way up!



Even better, Seeds of Change is dedicated to the continuation of organic seeds and plants! Check out their site!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family Health Market in Frisco, TX

Visit their Facebook here.  My husband and I visited this store this past weekend.  They have a fair amount of variety, even though they are a smaller store.  They also have a small cafe with salads and smoothies.  If you live in the area, you'll also get a mailing for a $1.00 off any smoothie at the cafe.  Here are a few pictures from our visit.

Frozen section had a fair amount of variety.  Their meat is local and grass fed!
 They had various drinks and dairy.
 The Cafe menu has a wide selection of smoothies, and a small selection of wraps and salads.
 They have a small room in the front that serves as a Kid's Corner.  You can see one child in there playing while his mother shops in the store.

 They really focus more on supplements and vitamins than food or drink.  They had a wide variety of supplements and vitamins from nationwide manufacturers.
 Their bulk bins.
 They had some local items, including Heartland Bread (a favorite of the blog).  They also have local honey and some local salsa.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Organic Cucumbers

Holy cucumbers batman!! Look at these organic cukes Heidi and Lisa grew! I put the marker in the picture to give a comparison because they are enormous. There are several more still growing...I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sol's Nieto Mexican Grill- Veg Friendly!

After our blogger party last week, Lisa, Rebecca, and I headed over to Sol's Nieto Mexican Grill for an after party!  By after party I mean we just wanted to talk.  We chose this place because it looked better than IHOP and it had an outdoor eating area (which we love).  We had no idea walking in how vegetarian friendly they would be and we wanted to give them a little love.  They had multiple vegan and vegatarian options.  It's not often you see such a wide variety of options for omnivores, so we were pleasantly surprised at their menu.




Good job Sol's Nieto Mexican Grill- we don't get your way very often, but if we chance upon you again, you can be sure we're going to enjoy your dining out on the patio!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple Picking In Virgina

While I was in Virgina, my friend Angie took me apple picking. It's called the Hartland Orchard and it was fantastic!! It's been owned by the same family for over 200 years and is located in the Shenandoah Valley.