Monday, August 28, 2017

Thai Noodles with Chili Ginger Dressing

I LOVE Thai food and could eat it a couple of times a week.  However, it CAN be somewhat high in oil and sugar when commercially prepared.

Wanting a taste of Thai on this meatless Monday, this was my cold lunch - and it was SO good.  The dressing actually makes enough for one large or two single serving noodle salads.

To assemble - fill a single serving sized bowl with cold cooked linguini or rice noodles.

Top with a large handful of assorted:
carrots
snap peas
celery
red pepper
cilantro
a pinch or two of peanuts
lime for drizzling.

Then top with a wonderful ginger chili dressing (do in your food processor to incorporate the red pepper flakes into an emulsion, if you wish).

Chili Ginger Salad Dressing

1/4 vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp. dried chili pepper flakes
1 tsp. honey or Agave Nectar (natural sweetener)
1 tsp. Spring water
1/4 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste (optional)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mexican Food Doesn't Mean 2000 calories

I had a craving for Mexican but I knew that if we went to one of the local restaurants I'd have a platter the size of New Jersey preceded by 2 pounds of fried chips and salsa.

Still, I wanted that taste and that crunch.

So I made homemade tostadas.

Rather than buy Tostada shells I just used corn tortillas and lightly sauteed them in a little hot oil, just until crisp, then patted dry to remove most of the grease.  They were topped with some fat-free beans ( pinto's smashed with a little cooking water and a dash of oregano), lettuce, a few strips of leftover chipotle seasoned pot roast from a previous meal (omit for veggie version or replace with Setain) a TINY sprinkle of cheddar, fat-free sour cream, mild salsa, a splash of hot sauce,  and a few slices of avocado I served it on a colorful salad plate to give it the appearance of being a larger serving than it was, a great trick I use all the time.

Yummy - and I didn't even miss the chips

Monday, August 14, 2017

There Truly IS an all day Lip Color - LipSense Review

Check the bottom of your purse or makeup bag.  We all have them.  You know, those many many tubes of lipsticks, lip stains, and waxy lip balms.  We buy the balms because the stains  and some of the lipsticks dry out our lips, then we end up with a film on our lips that makes what lipstick we DO apply (and reapply and reapply) look uneven.

I was about ready to just chuck it all and go barefaced (which is a shame as my natural lip color is so pale I look anemic) when I purchased, on a friend's recommendation, a great lip color from SeneGence International. They launched into fame in 1999 with the LipSense patented color technology and have expanded out to a full line of skin and cosmetic care.
Color pictured is Caramel Apple

I was skeptical about the "all day wear" especially as I'm usually chugging on a water throughout the entire day, and I do a lot of "mini meals".  At the end of the first day, I was really surprised. 

Here's before - no other makeup but LipSense (and the bathroom in question has flourescent light, hense the slight green tinge to my skin tone). It's a weekend day off, so no makeup, contact lenses, or fuss, just a quick trial of the Lip Sense.  Unfortunately, with the large camera I can't really do a proper selfie, but taking a picture of the mirror worked.

The colors come in matte, frost and shimmer shades and you can also get lip liner and a lip color remover (great for the end of the day or "oops - I colored outside the lines!")  The shimmer shades are great because even if some the gloss wears off you still have a nice natural sheen to your lips. The application requires three thin layers, so you can mix and match shades for a personal look. I love Pink Champagne and Aussie Rose mixed together.

click on photos to enlarge
After:

3 water bottles and one serving Kambucha tea
a bowl of South River Porridge (http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/18-Porridge-Grain-Milk.html)
some grapes and  raw almonds
pasta tossed with veggies and a little olive oil
4 Keebler fudge striped cookies (if they are made by elves calories don't count).
Vegetarian Greek Salad (with garbanzo beans for protein)


And 8 hours, my lips were still a wonderful shade of pink). The gloss had worn off but the color stayed true.

Plus, the color didn't dry out my lips! It has Peony Root Extract - which is a natural calming flower herb, St. John's Wort Extract (antibacterial and skin healing) as well as Linden Flower Extract (a powerful antioxidant) to help keep your lips healthy

LipSense is designed to be waterproof, kiss proof, smear proof and it will not budge until you're ready to remove it. It's also Vegan, non-GMO and they do NOT test on animals.  It also doesn't dry out your lips, working to restore your moisture content (if you've been seriously overdoing the waxy chap stick kind of balms, it may take a couple of days for the product to fully moisturize your lips.)

The gloss that applies over the stain also contains vitamin E and Shea butter. The gloss comes in clear and you can also get some light shades based on having warm or cool skin tones (the lip colors are all set up by skin undertone to help you select a shade that will compliment your skin.)

I've already ordered more colors - and the giant collection of half used waxy lip products is in the trash!  I'm enjoying looking through the catalog - there are going to be some more SeneGence products finding their way into my makeup back for sure.

Thanks for my long time friend and SeneGence consultant Jalissa Witt Lowry for telling me about the products. Ordering from her was super easy, I just messaged her the products I wanted, she sends emailed electronic invoice that's secure for payment and the products showed up on my door a few days later.

https://www.facebook.com/jalissa.wittlowry

Or join the fun at her LipSense Facebook Group - The Boss of Gloss

https://www.facebook.com/groups/bossofgloss/

If you don't do Facebook, just drop her a line at: jalissabossofgloss at gmail dot com and she'll set you up.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Beeswax Candles and Handcrafted Honey - A Review of Raines Honey Farm

I love honey products, using beeswax candles in my home to clear the air which helps with both allergy and pet dander issues.

For years I used the typical decorative candle that smelled like apple pie or cinnamon or such.  I also attributed the constant sneezing and sniffing when I was burning a decorative candle to seasonal allergies.  But when I started cooking and canning and doing more things from scratch around the home, I looked into a better, cheaper option.  Well, beeswax isn't cheaper, not at first glance, but it is SO much better, and ultimately, a good value.

Hundreds of years ago, candles were made from beeswax.  Over time, those beeswax candles were gradually replaced by tallow (animal fat) candles, and then in the last century by paraffin candles.  If you look at the candles in your home, that's likely what you have. But what exactly IS paraffin?

Well, it's made from the goo found at the bottom of barrels of crude oil, which is then treated and bleached with chemical solvents such as benzene and toluene to "clean it up".  This is AFTER the stuff to make asphalt is extracted.  There's a reason such candles put out soot and smoke when you burn them, along with some tasty carcinogens.  To get around that natural "diesel fuel" smell the makers add synthetic fragrance oils, many of which can be toxic if burned.
No wonder I was sneezing and sniffing.  The minute particles of that sludge byproduct, over time, can also stain walls, and drapes.

Then I discovered 100% beeswax candles.

Not only do beeswax candles not put out the pollutants, they also help clean the air, for as the candle burns, negative ions are emitted that clean the air.  How?  Negative ions are drawn to positive, and positive ions attract and hold on to airborne things such as mold, dust, bacteria, viruses, and odor causing pollutants, and are suspended in the air.  The negative ions latch on to the "contaminated" positive ions and weigh them down where they fall to the ground.  It's similar to  the cleansing of the air you see after a thundershower a negative ionic event if there ever was one.
I have no hard science as to the allergy connection, but several friends for whom I gave beeswax candles as gifts, say they have seen a marked improvement in their allergies, burning a beeswax candle in their bedroom for about 3 hours before sleep.  I burn one for a few hours in my small home prior to a visit from a friend that's sensitive to pet dander and she says it helps immensely.

But LB!  You're part Scot!  You're a spendthrift!  You refinish and reupholster throw away curb furniture and bake your own bread.  Those candles are rather pricey!
100% Beeswax candles burn 3 times longer than traditional candles.  Considering that, they are quite competitively priced with most high commercially sold candles. It's dollars well spent.

Home Emergency Supplies - candles are a part of most smart folks ready reserves for a natural disaster or electrical outage.  Not only does the beeswax candle burn cleaner, nice in close quarters, but it has a flame that's much brighter than traditional candles, with the same light spectrum as a ray of sun.  I keep one in the glove box of my vehicle, in case of an on road emergency requiring a bit of natural light and heat without polluting the cab of the bat truck.
But (there's always a but).  Not all Beeswax candles sold are 100% pure. Labeling in the US requires only that they be 51% beeswax to be pure (much like some of our food labeling).  Look for the phrase "100% pure beeswax" and note the unique and fresh, subtle honey fragrance.

Today's new beeswax candle comes from an Illinois beekeeping family:


The Raines family has been beekeepers for the past 19 years, expanding their business to keep up with the demand for their premium honey.  Their hives are placed on family farms across Northwest Illinois and Southwest Il.  A small one-family operation they produce some of the tastiest honey I've had in years.  Sure, premium honey costs more than store bought but once you try it you'll view store honey like "really bad coffee".  There is that much of a taste difference.  The Raines honey is pure, raw, and natural with a sweet flavor that comes from local flowers, mostly clover.  They never cook, pressure filter or add anything to their honey nor do they use any chemicals in their beehives. 
Ordering online is easy and it's also found in a number of stores in North Central Illinois.  I did an online order and I got my package promptly delivered to Chicagoland, wrapped securely with bubble wrap to avoid damage.  In addition to my new candle, I got two kinds of honey, both regular and whipped (I love that on my morning bagel) a beeswax balm stick (great on dry heels and elbows and as a travel moisturizer since it's solid the TSA won't take it away), a scented bath soap. and they gifted me a new lip balm as a thank you for my first order. All of their products are vegetarian and are only tested on friends and family, NOT animals.

Now I can add a new animal candle around my tub now instead of those Ikea tub o'tealights for ten bucks, which just sooted up my bathroom. These candles produce NO smoke and last SO long, while your drapes, walls, and air stay fresh and clean.
Whether you are a candle lover, a homesteader, someone who loves their "Calgon Take Me Away" candle accompanied baths, or live in an area with power outages, add some pure beeswax candles to your supplies and order up some yummy honey from the Raines family while you are at it. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Meatless Mood - Sesame Tofu

We eat meat free about 80% of the time, keeping our animal protein to non-factory farmed meat and fish or wild game.

I know some of you can't eat soy but for a large part of the population, tofu is a very popular and relatively inexpensive source of protein.

But what to make with it other than my normal smoother of 1/4 block tofu, sparking flavored water, a dash of protein powder and a cup brimming with frozen berries?


Sesame Tofu Chinese Style - if you love sesame chicken or just the sweet tang of a rich sweet and sour type sauce you will love this.  For lower-fat you can also bake the tofu instead of frying it in coconut oil. Serves 2.

1/2 cup sugar-free barbecue sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
a squeeze of lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder (optional for those that don't do garlic)
1 tablespoon  Braggs liquid aminos
1/2 block extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon corn starch
Sesame seeds to garnish
chopped green onion (optional)


You'll want to marinate the tofu, so mix this up first thing in the morning.  In a bowl mix the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, juice, Worcestershire, ground ginger, garlic (if using) and liquid-aminos.

Set aside 1/3 of the sauce and cover.

Chop half a block of extra firm tofu into equal sized cubes.

Marinate the tofu cubes in the remaining 2/3 of the sweet and sour sauce.

Leave the marinated tofu and remaining sauce in the fridge until the evening..

The next day add 1 teaspoon corn starch to the remaining sauce and coat the marinated tofu in the mixture.

Either bake the tofu at 400°F on a nonstick sheet for 30 minutes or fry in coconut oil until crispy. Serve with steamed rice and top with sesame seeds and green onions (optional)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Udi's Gluten Free Penne & Cheese - A Review


In trying to reduce the amount of gluten in my diet (not Celiac but sensitive), I've tried some OK products and some really awful products.

Today I wanted to share one that is going to be a favorite.  I found this at a local "non-chain" health food store with a good frozen food selection.  At $6.99 it was not cheap but still cheaper than eating my work lunch out at a restaurant.

UDI's overall has a great line of gluten free items (their bagels are awesome) but being a mac and cheese lover, I wasn't sure how good this would be. I looked at some other reviews and they complained about the noodles being too soggy or too dry but their cooking instructions were different than what's on the box now.

First a check of the ingredients.  OK, it has eggs and dairy, but NO SOY and NO WHEAT.  Yay.

I think next time I'd give it an extra 15 seconds in the microwave as there were a couple bit of cheese sauce that hadn't melted fully but overall the package instructions resulted in a nicely textured pasta.

The pasta:  tasted like gluten filled pasta and although the noodles weren't exactly "al dente" they weren't overly soft either.

Cheese sauce - it was very tasty and cheesy, with no chemical aftertaste and LOTS of sauce.  It had enough sauce next time I will throw in a 1/2 to 3/4 cup steamed veggies to it for a more filling meal.

Serving Size - for a meal, it serves one nicely, but if you add some veggies, this would make a nice side dish for two people

Nutrition: It's over 450 calories and fairly high in fat (26 grams!) and sodium (450 mg) but for an occasional treat "bachelor" meal with 14 grams of protein when my husband is on the road, I will so be buying this again.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Be Warned - Appetizer Crack


Looking for something to serve at a family outing or take to a party that you can nibble on without guilt?  The first time I made this for three friends, they ate the whole bowl - and it was a BIG bowl. We ended up putting the enchiladas I made for the main course in Tupperware for everyone to take home.

It's easy to make but for some chopping, fat free and vegan.  If you want to cut the carbs -  slice up celery sticks to use as a dip transport mechanism.

Around here it's known as Appetizer Crack

(easily cuts in half measurement wise)

2 cups roasted corn, chilled before blending with other ingredients. (honestly, you can  use the Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn and no one will be able to tell the difference)

2 cans black beans - rinsed and drained

2 red peppers

2 green peppers

2 Roma tomatoes - chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and finely diced.

1 cup chopped cilantro. (I'll be honest, I don't like cilantro but I loved it in this dish).

1 medium to med/large red onion - chopped (but not one of those Jabba the Hut sized onions).

DRESSING

juice of 4 limes (if you must use bottled lime juice, try and find the Key West brand, use 8 tablespoons).

2 Tablespoons APPLE CIDER vinegar

1 clove garlic (if you used the minced fresh in the jar, the amount to equal a clove is on the jar, about 2 tsp).

1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika (there's sweet and smoky types, get the sweet)

few grinds of fresh pepper,

1/4 (roughly) teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder (I used Penzey's, their stores are in many Midwest cities and you can buy on- line, very reasonably priced). Some stores carry other brands. If you absolutely can't find it, use regular chili powder.

2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup  extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Wash all the produce well. Chop and combine all the fresh veggies, the corn and the beans. Chill while mixing dressing. Mix all dressing ingredients except the olive oil. In a thin stream, while using a whisk like you mean it, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whipping it until it is emulsified (if you want to be boring you can use a blender).

Pour over veggies and stir well, chill at least two hours, re-stir and serve.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Perfect Guacomole

Guacamole is one of those "love/hate" dishes for some people.  I used to hate it until I tried actually GOOD guac and not some runny and bland Mexican fast food versions.  It also is full of healthy fats so even if watching calories, it's a great nutritious snack with some veggies or baked tortilla chips.

Unlike many popular recipes for this dish, I leave out the tomato and garlic  (though I might use a little tomato for photo garnish ). You can also leave out the onion if you don't eat onions.  The key is using the grocery store avocado (Hass)  which are ripe but not so ripe they are mushy.  The avocado should yield to a gentle squeeze of your hand. Friends don't let friends buy mushy avocados.  If all the store has are hard ones, take them home and put in a bag with a couple of bananas which will help ripen them in a day or two.)

4 medium ripe avocados, halved and pitted
1/2  cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 and 1/2 limes)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin OR coriander
1 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
4 dashes hot sauce (optional - I love Scoville Brothers Singing Smoke brand)

INSTRUCTIONS

Use a spoon to scoop the avocado flesh into a medium sized serving bowl, discarding any browned bits.  Promptly add remaining ingredients (except hot sauce) and mash using a  fork, or potato masher until it's at your preferred texture. If using hot sauce, gently stir in after mashing - to taste

I often add a pinch more salt, but taste first and add extra salt after.

Store leftovers in a tall narrow container to reduced the top surface area that may brown.  Cover well with plastic wrap (note, if you use onions in yours, placing a good chunk on top of the guac will help reduce the browning, though you will wish to remove any small areas that do brown before serving leftover.)



Friday, July 7, 2017

Reduced Fat Crockpot Sloppy Joes

I decided to do something different than our usual pizza night as my husband had been fed pizza  several times lately while working late in a plant in another city that needed the advisory engineer.

I also had a busy work week and didn't want to fuss in the kitchen OR heat up the stove when it was 90 degrees out.

Crockpot Sloppy Joes!

But I wanted to make a lower fat version that, other than sweetener, had simple ingredients.

I know you can buy a can of the sloppy joe sauce at the store.  But have you ever looked at the ingredient list of the most popular brand?

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Less than 2% of: Salt Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers, Chile Pepper, Tomato Fiber, Spices, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dehydrated Garlic, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavors. 

I think I will pass. This went together as the ground beef cooked and smelled wonderful cooking in the crockpot.  You can also make this with cooked lentils, TVP, or Gardein "beef" crumbles for a veggie version.

In a cast iron pan cook ground sirloin or ground turkey breast with 1/2 chopped onion (or a small handful of chopped celery) until cooked.  Do not add seasoning as you are going to rinse when done to get rid of as much fat as possible.  When meat is cooked, spoon into a colander and rinse thorough under cool water.

While meat is cooking or after mix in a crockpot:

1 and 1/2 cups ketchup (or use tomato sauce if you are cutting back on sugar)
dash of salt and pepper
3 shakes crushed red pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic (optional)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Molasses
2 and 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs, with the "mother")
3/4 cup water (note:  this makes a fairly "sausy" sauce, if  you like it nice and thick reduce to 1/2 cup)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste.

Add in protein/onion mix and a large handful of chopped red, yellow, and green peppers

Cook on low until heated through and the veggies have softened, at least 4 hours.  Serve on toasted buns with salad.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Perfect Reheated Pizza - Just Add Cast Iron


Everyone loves pizza it seems - whether it's thin, thick, or Chicago style, regular or gluten free, meaty toppings or veggie.  Even while watching your calories, pizza makes a delicious meal, simply request that any high-calorie toppings be applied lightly and consider getting all or half of the pizza with extra vegetables. I also have the pizza cut in squares so I can get some smaller slices out of it and serve on a salad sized plate so it just LOOKS like a have a huge plate of pizza  (honest this tip of serving on small plates works).

I also love having leftover pizza, when the local pizzeria has an extra large size on sale.  But microwaved reheated pizza is just limp and heating it in the oven dries it all out.

What to do?

Get out your cast iron skillet.  

Heat the unoiled skillet on high for one minute.  Add pizza slices, making sure there is some space around them.  Heat for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (this was a pizza with medium thickness).  Add 3-4 drops of water total to the bare parts of the pan and immediately cover with a heavy lid, turning heat down to medium-low and heat an additional 2-3 minutes.  (You'll soon learn what times work for your stove and favorite pizza).

The result of the quick heat on high followed by steam on lower heat while covered  is a very crisp perfect crust and moist cheesy pizza.  If you want to see more, click on the photos to enlarge.

If doing multiple batches for a family, put finished pizza slices on a cookie sheet, lightly tent with foil and place in a warm, not hot oven

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Review of CVS Gluten Free Cookies

I don't know if any of you have been into a CVS store and noticed they have their own line of gluten-free snacks/cookies.

Because I love both vanilla and shortbread I immediately snagged a box of  CVS brand Abound Gluten-Free Vanilla Shortbread Cookies. I regularly buy the CVS brand of various cosmetic and skin care products and am MORE than happy with them.

Plus I'm a big fan of cookies. Even the sometimes rock hard Dare Coconut ones. But let's just cut to the chase on my personal opinion of the CVS Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies.

The squirrels wouldn't eat them either.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Canadian Shake and Bake - Et j'ai aidé

Any of you over 50 who grew up in the US remember that Shake and Bake Commercial with the little girl with the thick Southern accent making dinner with her grandma with the words "And I helped!"

I've used Shake and Bake coating mix throughout my life on those nights as it's sort of a "comfort food" memory for me that the family likes.  I've even made my own DIY version to save money.  But there was one Shake and Bake product that was out about 10 years ago I really missed.  It was a GLAZE that was honey/mustard. It was really good on chicken and awesome on wings - only to be discontinued. I HATE mustard so the mustard flavor was beyond subtle, to me it tasted more like honey garlic.

I was seriously bummed.  My friends even requested it when coming over for cookouts where there would be wings.
Then this week, I'm over at the Canadian Favorites website ordering my quarterly fix of such products as Kraft Dinner (KD in Canada, a product that is way better than the U.S. versions of Kraft mac and cheese), Billy Bee Creamed Honey, Dare Cookies, and Canadian Coca Cola (which is made with sugar NOT High Fructose corn syrup like in the US) and I saw it -  Shake and Bake Honey Garlic Glaze.  A box of that SO went into my order.  I was afraid it would taste totally different than the original honey mustard, so I only bought one box, but it was just like the glaze I loved, though no mustard in the ingredients.  PLUS, absolutely NO fat and it's low in sugar.There's no MSG (though there are trace amounts of wheat, barley, and soy) and it didn't have a lot of chemicals or preservative type ingredients either. (that's another difference with the Kraft Dinner, the Canadian version doesn't have near the amount of "science experiment" sounding ingredients the US blue box version has).
The glazed chicken was a hit with my husband.  Working hard staining the new front steps, he's eaten four pieces of chicken in the last 18 hours and asked if there were any left. And even though I overcooked it slightly waiting on some stubborn cornbread to finish cooking it was still incredibly juicy!

Just like regular Shake and Bake you just put the seasoning in the provided bag, moisten your chicken (or veggie protein substitute) and bake until done. Directions are there in English and French.

Check out
I've always had great service from them, the products arriving UPS ground fresh and in good condition, and their prices are reasonable. I'm not Canadian but have a family member and two good friends who are so I developed some favorite products when visiting.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Montreal Bagels - A Package from St.-Viateur



 MMMM.  My Montreal bagels have arrived.  What is that? you may ask.

The Montreal bagel is a distinctive variety of handmade and wood-fired baked bagel. In contrast to the New York-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven.

Montreal bagels are still produced by hand and are usually baked in full view of the patrons.There are two predominant varieties: poppy seed and sesame seed.
Montreal bagels, like the similarly shaped New York bagel, have their roots in the Jewish communities of Europe. Food historians have allegedly traced the invention of the Montreal bagel to a trio of bakers who sold from a horse-drawn cart and eventually parted ways, only to end up founding the city’s two most venerated bagel shops, both still in business today. St.-Viateur and Fairmount. Montreal citizens are hardcore about their bagels to the point when a New York Style bakery opened up in Montreal it was out of business within a year!

The bagel dough includes egg and honey. Honey is also added to the water used for poaching the bagels before baking. I love honey and understand why jars of honey that are thousands of years old have been found in ancient excavated tombs in Egypt and at one time was considered a form of currency. When bagels are poached in this slurry of sweet honey and water, it adds something magical to the overall chewiness of the Montreal bagel as well as giving it its distinct color and crust.

The bagels are baked in a wood-fired oven which gives them their unique taste and texture, the fire licking each one gently so that each batch has its own unique hue, never overdone, never underdone. I like the handmade part as well, as we know the New York Style grocery bagels are made by giant machines with neither personality or souls (though my mechanical engineer husband would probably disagree).
Montreal-style bagel shops have opened in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary and US cities such as Chicago (Reno Restaurant and Bakery), Seattle, Houston, Portland, LA, and Burlington Vermont (home to Myers bagels), though outside of that location you aren't going to find them many places in the Northeast US due to the popularity of the New York style bagel.
I discovered Montreal bagels when work took me to that beautiful city and I happened upon St-. Viateur Bagel Bakery, loving the slightly sweet, almost smoky flavor from the wood-burning oven they are baked in that you wish you could bottle up and sell on Etsy and the chewy texture that wasn't like biting into a big ball of carbs (my experience with most store bought bagels). Lightly toasted, I have one for breakfast almost every day.  Both area Bakeries, St. Viateur and Fairmount have their devoted fans, but I'm partial to the slightly plumper though still nicely smoky St. Viateur bagels.

They are also significantly less in calories, sodium, and sugar than grocery store bagels and a Montreal bagel with a simple smear of cream cheese or sugar-free jam keeps me full until lunch. Although they are available in Chicago, the restaurant/bakery that makes them is a pretty good drive from where we live and parking for my extended cab long bed truck in that very popular shopping and restaurant area is really difficult. So I was SO happy to see that St.-Viateur in Montreal now sells the bagels online to BOTH the USA and Canada. Sure, the shipping was a bit pricey but even so, they were a dollar less per bagel (even with shipping) than the local bakery that makes them and 50 cents less than a bagel with cream cheese at the local donut chain. To order - click on the link below.


St.-Viateur just advertises the poppy seed or sesame seed on the website, but if you call for a quote, they can also ship Whole Wheat, Flax Seed, No Seed, All Dressed, Rosemary & Sea Salt and Multi Grain bagels. (call toll free 1-866-662-2435)

Comparing a very popular grocery store New York Style Brand to the St. Viateur seed bagel.

Calories:   260           120
Fat:               1 gr.          2.5 gram
Carbs          52 gr.        20 gram
Sodium     460 gr.         5 gr (yes, only 5 grams, no salt is added)
Fiber              1 gr.        2 gr.
Sugars            6 gr.        1 gr.

They don't ship to the US every day so check their website when the next order day.  Certainly, if you are in Montreal fresh and hot IS the way to go and the neighborhood the original store is in is worth a trip. It's a safe, clean area where classic Montreal mingles with the contemporary energy surrounding Quebec’s major metropolis. The distinct spiraling staircases, old-school cafes and colorful alleyways offer an altogether unique look into the cultural tapestry that is Montreal.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Veggie Sandwich with a Twist

A Veggie sandwich can be more than cheese and cucumbers and sprouts.

Create with some sliced roasted chilled sweet potato, avocado, tomato, a slice of sweet onion (optional), a few sprouts, AND some mayo (or Vegan Veganaise)  to which you've added a pinch or two of lemon zest and poppy seed.  On a dense whole grain, lightly toasted bread, it's 3 degrees of yummy.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

It's almost summer-  but sometimes you want a nourishing "comfort food" meal.  This one is isn't "low fat" but made with fresh and leftover roasted veggies it has a LOT less fat and calories than traditional Shepherd's Pie.

Ingredients
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (or substitute celery)
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bunch baby turnips, halved or quartered if large
(I also added in a small handful of leftover roasted asparagus)
6 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped (stems reserved)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian protein crumbles (optional)
2/3 cup low-fat milk
Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Cover the potatoes with water in a pot; season with salt, cover and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a stovetop casserole dish or shallow enamel pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, turnips and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables brown, 8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from the potatoes to the casserole dish. Lower the heat and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Tie the parsley stems with twine and add to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons butter and the chopped veggie burgers and warm through, 5 minutes. Remove the parsley stems and stir in the chopped parsley. Keep warm.

 Drain the potatoes and mash with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the milk; season with salt and pepper. Place the casserole in a single dish or individual serving side dishes.  Spoon potatoes over the casserole (s). Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. Broil until golden brown, 5 minutes.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Healthy Recipe Cooking Tip:

Sautee your kale in 2 teaspoons of organic coconut oil.

That makes it easier to slide the burned, slimy mess into the trash while you get pizza.  :-)
Salami and spicy honey on woodfired crust - Chicago may have its negatives but bad pizza is not one of them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tornado Alley - Playing Chicken With Dinner

Before the storms hit, I had to make a dash to the local grocery for two things I'd forgotten. Partner in Grime was driving back from O'Hare where he was arriving after a week on the road and I wanted to make him a nice "not Subway" meal.  He looked at my purchases, lemon juice, and foil, raised an eyebrow and said: "so, making batteries for supper?"

Most of you have seen at least the lower front of his shirt over a dinner table. For those of you that haven't met him, Partner in Grime is my husband,  but also that fellow I share a last name with (trying to look all serious for me, vinegar and yes, he has blue eyes)
No batteries for dinner!  I was going to try and make supper out of just what was on hand (emergency rations not counting).   I had a few chicken breasts.  There was also some odds and end bits of frozen veggies, some leftover chicken stock, and the usual herbs, and vinegar.

Plus, with the tornado sirens going off to our south, I needed something that could get interrupted with no ill effect. Abby was NOT leaving the closet and showed no interest in what I was making.

Champagne Balsamic Chicken - It's not the most photogenic dish in the world, but it was really good.  I made it with a champagne balsamic vinegar I picked up at Artisano's  the last time I was in Indianapolis and hadn't tried yet. For those that don't live in Indiana, they ship, and if you order something -  get a 1 or 2-ounce sample of the applewood smoked salt, ghost pepper salt (hot!) and espresso sugar.

It was pretty simple, cooked on the stovetop in my favorite Red French Oven (you can use any big, sturdy pot.

In the pot mix:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup champagne balsamic vinegar (or any good quality balsamic)
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons chicken stock (or canned broth)
3 generous teaspoons of jarred minced garlic
2 dashes of sea salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 heaping teaspoon mixed dried herbs (I used a mixture of chives, basil, tarragon, chervil and a tiny bit of dill, but just tarragon or basil would work).
a couple grinds from the pepper mill

Add 3-4 skinless chicken breasts and bring to and maintain, a low boil.  Cook for 15 minutes, flip chicken pieces over then reduce heat slightly and cook at a gentle simmer until internal temp is 165 F. on a meat thermometer, (around 30-40 minutes for the pieces I had), keeping lid OFF so that the liquid is reduced to better caramelize the chicken pieces, still leaving enough for you to drizzle on other things.

When the chicken is about 160 degrees F., remove the bay leaf, lower the heat slightly and put some bread in the oven.  What's good?  Popeovers, (Moosewood Kitchen recipe)  always good on a cold, blustery day.]

The popovers were 1/4 of the cost of packaged frozen rolls and much tastier. Between gust fronts, they went in, as those are a little more temperamental cooking wise, but they were worth it, tall, buttery custard-like texture inside, flaky layers on the outside.
Dinner was easy and good, the chicken staying really moist and the garlicky champagne balsamic sauce, absolutely wonderful drizzled over the sweet potatoes (there was also broccoli). Even better, we didn't have to hunker down in the basement when the sirens went off, watching the radar on the computer and seeing the cells with rotation potential going well south of here.

I hope all of you out there are safe, warm and happy and if you're going to play chicken, do it in the kitchen, not with the weather.

OK, I'll come out of the closet for a piece of chicken.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

When You Just Want a Bowl of Goodness

This recipe was an experiment made by taking the best part out of three veggie soup recipes I had and combining them.  It's a very filling and nourishing soup with just the right amount of heat and sour.  Note - if you wish it sourer, add 2 additional Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Hot and Sour Vegetable Soup

3 Tablespoons sherry or rice wine
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos for soy, gluten and vegan option)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 ounce dried Chinese black mushrooms
8 cups water

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2  chopped onion (or substitute 1/3 cup celery or water chestnut)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped fine
1/2 sweet potato -  diced into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped carrots


1/2  zucchini - chopped
1/2 bell pepper  - chopped or sliced thin
1/2 cup tofu, cubed or chicken cut into thin strips


a small  handful of baby boc choy
8 ounces diced tomatoes (small can)
salt to taste (no more than 1 tsp).

Whisk together the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Set aside.

 Heat two cups of the water to boiling and pour over the mushrooms in a dish.  Cover with a plate and let rest 30 minutes.

Drain the mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid (save) and cutting off the hard stems.

In a dutch oven heat mushroom liquid and remaining six cups of water to a full simmer

While the broth heats, saute the onion, ginger and jalapeno pepper in a little oil until softened (2-3 minutes).  Add sweet potato, cabbage, and carrots and cook covered for 4 minutes (cabbage should be starting to wilt).

Add softened veggies to fully simmering or gently boiling broth. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini, bell pepper, and protein and simmer until the veggies are tender the protein cooked through (about 10 minutes).

Add in the soy sauce mixture and cook until soup is thickened (about 7-8 minutes)

Stir in the tomatoes and boc choy, raise heat slightly and bring back to a full simmer.

Stir in sesame oil and serve.
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Pineapple Curry - Thai This on for Size

I've been doing real well with the IBS symptoms this week by adding in a bit of lean protein at each meal (some vegetarian sources, some animal), reducing the bean and grains (not eliminating, just reducing to a serving a day) and cutting back on nuts (a favorite snack but lots of fat, even if the good kind). Getting rid of soy and US franken- wheat has helped immensely, and I keep my carb servings small and whole grain except for white rice which I just love. I also do better with smaller portion sizes adding in some 250 calorie snacks morning and afternoon.  Big meals are definitely a trigger.

We do Thai every month but it does get expensive eating out so I tried making curry and it was a hit with my husband who loves it.  I'm normally not a big curry fan but I really enjoyed this.

2 – 15 oz. cans light coconut milk
3 Tbsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp curry powder
dash of crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon of brown sugar or honey
a dash of salt
15 oz. can pineapple chunks, well drained
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 large chicken breast diced

rice as a side

Directions

Cook the rice, as directed. I cook mine in a tray that sits inside my steamer and it's always perfect.

In a large saucepan, whisk the coconut milk, curry paste, curry powder, crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic powder sugar or honey, and salt.

Stir in the pineapple, bell pepper slices and pieces of chicken. Cook until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes). Taste and add more crushed red pepper if you wish it "hotter".

Makes four generous servings.

Serve with rice.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Day of Eating Challenges and the Discovery of Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Today was going to be a bit of a diet challenge.  It's Friday in Lent which for me means no meat.  But I recently ditched dairy, beans, and wheat in hopes of helping my IBS symptoms.  So what to make?
Breakfast was super easy to whip up, even on a work day.  Coconut flour "pancake".  It's not a true pancake in taste, much more shape but it had a tender, eggy taste that was very filling and filled me up until almost 1 PM.  It made two good sized pancakes  I just ate one and it was quite filling. Less than 250 calories and no gluten or sugar (I used some sugar-free syrup on it though).

 3 eggs
 1/4 cup coconut flour
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
splash of vanilla extract
Whisk until smooth and cook  in a fry pan or griddle on medium/high in a Tablespoon of Ghee for two minutes flip and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.

Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.  Ghee is prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream, skimming any impurities from the surface, and then pouring and retaining the clear, still liquid fat, while discarding the solid residue that settled on the bottom. It packs a lot more health benefits than butter. I make my own.
Then for my packed lunch (picture is from dinner) some leftover pasta with non-dairy "Parmesan" cheese.

3/4 cup RAW cashews (not roasted)
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (I think it's made of ground up hippies) and is Vegan and full of nutrition
3/4 teaspoon Penzey's roasted garlic powder (or your favorite garlic powder)
1/4 sea salt

Pulse in a food processor or powerful blender until the consistency of cheese (for me - pulsing a few seconds at a time for a minute).
Store refrigerated or in the freezer for longer term use.  Makes about a cup.
Served on some quinoa gluten free pasta yesterday with some olive oil and herbs this tasted EXACTLY like regular parmesan but NO dairy! I also fed a bite to my husband when he got home from a business trip without telling him and he couldn't tell.  SCORE!.

I had the leftovers for lunch today.

For an afternoon snack, some Kitchfix grain-free granola, made with nuts, coconut oil, and shredded coconut, with a coconut milk yogurt.
And dinner (for me, anyway) was just a plate of roasted veggies. Drizzled with some WHITE balsamic vinegar (a different taste) and rosemary they were awesome with a bit of salad.

Especially with a glass or two of  Frey Organic wine (my favorite white wine right now)
Honestly, I wasn't  hungry at all today.  I got plenty of protein and variety.  I'd say this meat/wheat/sugar-free day was a hit.

Then time to curl up with a friend's book that Amazon delivered today.  Her delightful pet blog is

Foley Monster, Pocket, and River Song

It's a warm-hearted book of stories of so many wonderful little souls.  A good day to remember them.