It is time for another cookbook giveaway! This week I am giving away a free copy of Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. The premise of this book fits perfectly with this week’s real food mini-pledge where we are focusing on eating locally raised meat and eating less of it. The authors have the right idea when it comes to reducing (but not giving up) meat, which will have a positive impact on both our health and the environment. With close to 70 recipes, each dish features meat such as chicken, turkey, pork, or lamb as an enhancement rather than the centerpiece of the meal. Cookbook Giveaway Title: Almost Meatless Retail: Available for $15.30 on Amazon Summary: A collaboration between Manning, a former vegan, and Desmond, an unabashed meat lover, the aim is to help Americans, who they believe eat far more meat than is healthy or good for agricultural sustainability, compose meals that are both tasty and filling without having a slab of meat as the overbearing star ingredient. Instead, meat appears in smaller quantities supplemented by layers of flavor in the form of additional savory ingredients that should keep people who usually expect lots of meat from noticing the difference.
Archives for March 2011
I love soups because they’re an easy way to get in a lot of vegetables, and they are usually awesome leftover (whether they’ve been in the fridge or freezer). I am a big fan of serving easy dinners on busy weeknights and there is nothing easier than defrosting some soup out of your very own freezer. I especially love this soup because it comes with so many “accessories.” You could certainly eat it plain, but it is amazing how the flavor suddenly changes when you pile avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, and cilantro on top. We even sometimes toast tortillas (to make them crunchy like chips) and throw them in the mix as well. This is also a great dish to serve this week if you are participating in our third real food mini-pledge. Even though this dish is meatless it would still be great if you wanted to add a little raw chicken when you sauté the veggies (or even some leftover cooked meat at the end). Just like most of the recipes I post this one is super flexible. If you don’t have or like zucchini then use a different vegetable instead. If you randomly find a half container of mushrooms in your fridge…throw them in. Get creative and use what you have on hand to make this dish easy and budget-friendly!
Before I dive into this post I want to ask you to please watch Food, Inc.. Even if you have watched it before…watch it again! This is a very easy way to learn a lot in a mere 91 minutes of your life. And hopefully you will join us with a completely renewed perspective when it comes to eating meat. After watching the movie I’ve heard some people say they would never eat meat again (which we of course do), and others say they went out and had a Big Mac the very next day. So don’t take anyone else’s word for it…watch the movie and form your own opinion. And if for some strange reason you don’t watch it, at the very least please read my summary of the film.
A few readers have shared a homemade “goldfish” crackers recipe with me. I decided to try the recipe (with several modifications) and while the outcome tasted good the process of rolling out the dough took some time and made a huge mess. As a busy mom I am a big fan of shortcuts so the goldfish recipe inspired me to come up with these easy cheesy crackers. Making your own “crackers” from scratch sounds like such a daunting task, but trust me…this recipe is ridiculously easy! Of course if you make this “easy” version you end up with round crackers as opposed to fun little shapes, but the last time I checked my daughters didn’t discriminate against a circle. They were too busy gobbling up these crackers and asking for more to even think about what shape they were eating. And these are by no means just for kids. There are so many ways to get creative, which would surely impress any adult as well. Before baking experiment with adding some of these spices to the dough: black and red pepper, fresh or dried rosemary, diced olives, or jalapeños. Or instead of mixing in herbs and spices, just top off the baked cheese crackers with something fun like pesto and grape tomatoes (just like we did for our dinner club last year). No matter what you end up doing have fun with it and enjoy!
Slowly but surely I am learning the importance of junk food. Yes, you heard that right…the real food blogger said that junk food (in moderation of course) is important! Figuring out when and where to fit junk food into our lives though has honestly been as challenging as cutting it out in the first place. While our original 100 Days of Real Food pledge was an amazing and eye-opening experience, I struggled to make the “right” decisions about our junk food consumption once it was over. The four of us had just proved that we could easily survive without a single ounce of sugar or white flour or anything deep-fried (among other things), and now it was up to me to decide when eating that kind of junk would be okay? That was a difficult task. I recently had some interesting discussions with a few friends and readers about their childhood experiences with junk food (or lack thereof). Those that were completely restricted from any and all candy, cakes, soda, and cookies as children were not afraid to binge and splurge on those items at friends’ houses. What was forbidden became even more desirable…whenever they could get their hands on it. My ideal goal is to educate my daughters about real food vs. junk food so that they not only know how to make good decisions on their own, but so that they want to make those good decisions. Again, this is the ideal goal and we still have a long way to go, but I don’t think we’ll get very far in life if my girls only avoid junk food because “mommy said so.”
I am thrilled to announce our very first giveaway on 100 Days of Real Food! Everyone likes free stuff, plus it will allow me to share some great products like this new cookbook, Deliciously Organic. It was just released earlier this year by fellow food blogger Carrie Vitt, who is an award-winning cook and author of the popular blog, Deliciously Organic. Check out how gorgeous the pictures are on her blog…she has quite a talent for photography as well! Cookbook Giveaway Title: Deliciously Organic Retail: Available for $35 on Amazon Summary: Now every meal and course you serve can be deliciously organic. Each recipe features only organic, unprocessed, and whole ingredients that everyone will love (including kids) for all occasions (even for hard-to-please special guests).
This is the blue cheese dressing I like to serve with my Cobb Salad recipe.
We had this Cobb Salad for dinner tonight, and it was absolutely delicious…and, to top things off, my two daughters (ages 3 and 6) ate it for dinner too!
Last week I made my feelings clear about “health food” stores and all of the organic junk food that they sell. I do love that these stores usually offer a wide variety (and high quality) selection of organic produce as well as a nice assortment of whole-grain products. But you still have to have your guard up when you are shopping because, as I mentioned, everything that health food stores offer is by no means “real food” approved. So what better thing to do than share a “cheat sheet” to help you navigate through all of that junk to find the good, wholesome, real food? I spent a great deal of time walking through our local Earth Fare store (the South Charlotte location) looking at every single product that they sell. I know not everyone lives in Charlotte (or shops at Earth Fare for that matter!), but a lot of the products that they carry are sold nationwide. So what I came up with was an eleven-page bullet point list of every single item that you could buy and eat/drink from Earth Fare if you were following our real food rules. This document is the perfect “cheat sheet” for those taking the 10 Days of Real Food pledge. Oh how I wish I had this handed over to me when we started our 100 Days of Real Food pledge last year!
I seem to get a lot of questions about how to sweeten coffee on a real food diet…so I’ve finally decided to address it in an official recipe. For starters PLEASE throw away your Splenda or other imitation sweeteners. I am begging you! :) Even though our family rarely does sugar anymore I would much rather have regular white table sugar (that has been around for thousands of years) over something that was (relatively recently) invented in a lab just to imitate sugar. Enough said about that. As you’ve probably gathered from the title this is not a recipe for just plain ol’ coffee because that is just not how I roll. I am a mocha girl and always have been. My victim of choice used to be a white chocolate mocha to be exact, and I don’t even want to think about what the ingredients might be in one of those. But just in case I could convince one more person to stop ordering them I just got off the phone with Starbucks…
As I’ve mentioned many times before I love Earth Fare (both for their groceries and for their little café), but there is one thing I want to make clear…just because you are buying something from a “health food” or “all natural” type grocery store does not mean it is automatically good for you (or your children)! No matter how many great things they offer, all of those items are mixed in with a bunch of products that I would consider to be highly processed (just like any old grocery store). It bothers me to no end when I see products like “organic cheddar bunnies” and boxed “organic macaroni and cheese”, and “organic chocolate truffles”. The only difference between these items and products like regular Goldfish and Kraft Mac & Cheese is the fact that they are organic (which is, sure, a slightly better alternative). The thing that all of these products have in common though is that they are all highly processed and made in factories with many more refined ingredients than you would ever use if you were making them from scratch at home. This topic is top of mind after a recent visit to Earth Fare’s “free kids” dinner night. I love taking my girls to free kids night because they love it, it is good for us, and it is cheap. But, the important thing I want to clarify is that not just any meal they serve there is good for us. Just because you are eating at a place like Earth Fare does not mean you automatically get “brownie points” for feeding your kids a “healthy” dinner. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but the point is that you still have to use your brain no matter where you are buying food!