Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clean Eating Mag's Lentil Soup

Soup in the middle of August? Well...yeah. If your fridge and pantry are getting low and the temp drops below 80. Why not? This recipe is from the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating Magazine, in a feature about what the food editors themselves like to eat.

Hearty Lentil Soup
serves 4

1 cup dried red lentils (I used French green lentils)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped (I used a sweet one)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brown rice (I increased this a bit--there's no way 1/4 would've even been visible)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (we added our own at the table)

1. Rinse lentils and pick through to discard any debris or small stones; drain well.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes or until brown. Stir in cumin and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water (I increased a little because of the extra rice), lentils, and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add salt, then stir and cook for another 30 minutes.

3. Stir in lemon juice before serving. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week.

The H had two servings; I thought it needed more something but couldn't place what. Spice? Salt? I ended up using two wedges of lemon in my bowl and then it was ok.

This was the little guy's portion:

He ate exactly none of it. You win some, you lose some.

Nutrition information per 1-cup serving:
Calories - 290
Fat - 9g
Carbs - 41g
Fiber - 9g
Sugars - 4.5g
Protein - 14g
Sodium - 248mg
Cholesterol - 0mg

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As the Bean Sprouts: SUCCESS!

Check it out! Our beans are GROWING! After about 7 weeks since I planted them, we have big, beautiful, sweet green beans right in our own yard!

So far I guess my experiment is only about 25% successful, since only one of the four beds I planted has yielded anything, but the potted sprouts may yet become something edible. The other two beds--back by the raspberries and next to the tomatoes--are a complete wash.

The fence area has by far the most seeds planted, which I suppose is good. It's a great location, and I'm glad we planted there.

Maybe by tomorrow I'll have enough to make a decent side dish for dinner. That is, if I can keep the little guy from eating all the ones he helps me pick!

On the way back into the house I snapped a pic of this guy--I have no recollection of planting sunflowers last year, so it was a surprise to see a volunteer (actually, two) springing up!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My favorite burger, revamped

Just in case you were wondering, this chicken burger recipe is equally--if not more--tasty as the original when you use ground turkey breast in place of the chicken. For one thing, they hold together better, so much that we were able to grill them. The H and I also thought they were somehow more flavorful, even though the *only* thing I changed was the poultry I used. I did freeze them on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 3 hours before cooking, simply because I didn't have fridge space and we weren't ready to cook them right away.

We served them with local raw gouda and a quick tomatillo relish that I threw together using our last two tomatillos, one seeded jalapeno, the juice of half a lime, and sprinkle of kosher salt. On the side, we had blackened green beans. Both of these dishes were cooked on the grill, which made clean-up incredibly easy and kept my kitchen cool on a warm summer day. Oh, and the little guy gobbled an entire burger--with organic ketchup--even though he was supposed to be in bed. He literally ran out of the room during bedtime stories, crowing, "Iss BURger tyme!" Thus, this post has earned the honor of the kid-friendly tag.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

As the Bean Sprouts: Week 4?

I think this is either Week 4 or Week 5; I kind of lost track when I forgot to take pictures one Friday. The important thing is that we have progress! Thanks to the little guy and The H for watering these when we haven't gotten a good rain in awhile.

Bed #1: Neighbor's fence--looking good!

Bed #2: Potted--still hanging on. Kind of.

Bed #3: Raspberry patch--no beans here! Too accessible for rabbits?

My morning glories are starting to climb, though!

Bed #4: Back 40--well, there are a few sprouts...

AND my cute little tomato plant!

We've had quite a few little Romas off this plant, and a cherry or two from the one next to it (not pictured). Since I took these pictures, the plants by the neighbor's fence have taken off even more--we now have little white flowers and the leaves are getting bigger by the minute, it seems. You'll see in the next update!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Squash Salsa

What? Yeah, you read that right--summer squash salsa. Sounds odd, I know, but trust me on this. It was the best part of the meal! This recipe comes from the July/August issue of Clean Eating Magazine, and was slightly modified by myself. Changes are in italics.

Pork Steaks with Roasted Summer Squash Salsa

from Clean Eating Magazine Serves 4


Olive oil cooking spray
3 medium tomatoes, cored and cut in half horizontally (I used 1 1/2 cups Pomi chopped tomatoes)
1 each zucchini and summer squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
1 medium red onion, cut in half horizontally (I used half of a sweet onion)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut in half lengthwise (wear gloves when handling hot peppers!)
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed (minced)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
4 four-ounce pork tenderloin steaks (I used boneless pork chops from a local farm market)


1. Heat oven to 475* and spray two large baking sheets with cooking spray. Scoop seeds out of tomato halves. Place vegetables (cut-side down) onto baking sheets in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven 10-12 minutes, turning once halfway through.

2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, oil, garlic, cilantro, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper; set aside.

3. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Peel skin off tomatoes, then dice vegetables and gently mix them together in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and set aside.

4. Heat a medium skillet over med-high heat and mist with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with remaining salt and pepper and cook approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Serve each pork steak with 1 cup squash salsa.

We served these with sides of blackened green beans (no onions this time) and red quinoa. The H had leftover salsa mixed with leftover quinoa for lunch.

Nutrients per serving (4oz pork, 1 cup salsa): Calories - 204 Total fat - 6g Saturated fat - 1g Carbs - 10g Fiber - 2g Sugars - 5g Protein - 26g Sodium - 326mg Cholesterol - 74mg

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Green eggs, no ham

You wouldn't believe how excited I was to find tomatillos for $0.88/lb at our new, within-walking-distance produce store this weekend. Let's just say it was probably a good thing I hadn't had much to drink that day. :)

I had intended to make a little batch of salsa verde for snacking on this week, but quickly changed plans when I saw a teeny little sidebar recipe for "Omelette with Tomatillo Sauce" in the latest issue of Clean Eating Magazine. They give a nice write-up of tomatillos and all their tarty goodness--for example, did you know that they are a good source of vitamin C and potassium? Me neither!

Omelette with Tomatillo Sauce

from Clean Eating Magazine, September/October 2010
serves 1


Tomatillo Sauce:
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped
Pinch of sea salt

1 egg
2 egg whites
Cooking spray
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Prepare tomatillo sauce by sauteeing oil, garlic, and jalapeno over low heat in a small skillet until garlic turns light brown. Add tomatillos and salt; cook 4-6 minutes.

2. While sauce is cooking, whisk egg and egg whites together in a small bowl. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add eggs to skillet.

3. With a spatula, pull egg away from sides of pan as it cooks. Once the eggs start to set, sprinkle half of the omelette with cilantro and fold the other half over the top. Cook until fully set.

4. Top omelette with tomatillo sauce and serve hot.

This made a lovely tasty post-church lunch, paired with no-sugar-added strawberry applesauce. I doubled everything except the tomatillos--I used three medium/large ones.

Nutrients per serving:
Calories - 183
Total fat - 11g
Saturated fat - 2g
Carbs - 7g
Fiber - 2g
Sugars - 4g
Protein - 15g
Sodium - 303mg
Cholesterol - 212 mg

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cleaned-up blueberry muffins

Yesterday when our Internet was out (our house took a big surge when our old Dish Network dish served as a lightning rod on Wednesday) I was looking for things to do. The little guy was at daycare and it was too hot to be outside. Naturally, turning on the oven to 400* made perfect sense. ;) I had already made a batch of garlic hummus and was ready for something sweet.

The recipe as written comes from my aunt, and has yielded great results. This time I thought I would clean it up a bit.

Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 lb softened butter (1 stick)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix ingredients together in order listed. Batter will be dry--do not add more liquid. Gently fold in berries. Bake at 400* for 20-25 minutes.

To make gluten-free: Use Bob's Red Mill AP GF flour blend and a GF baking powder, and add 1 1/8 tsp xanthan gum.

And now, my recipe

1 cup white flour (I know! Roll with it)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Sucanat
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (2% for a bit of fat)
1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
1/2 tsp turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top during baking

I made them in my jumbo muffin pan, so I only got 6 muffins out of it. I wanted a treat for me and the little guy to have for breakfast, and I didn't want to have too many leftovers hanging around to tempt The H.

The texture was a bit denser than a typical muffin, which I attribute to the wheat flour and lack of fat. Spread with a bit of Earth Balance and warmed in the microwave, these were quite a filling breakfast/snack. One day I'd like to try making them into "muffin tops" with the right kind of pan.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tasty brown balls

I've seen recipes like this floating around for a few months now, but never tried my own. Then when I bought a package of something very similar at Whole Foods on our latest jaunt to Atlanta, I knew I could replicate them at home. And I did!

The recipe I used comes from The Clean Eating Mama. It was SO simple to pull together!

Raw Coconut-Chocolate Balls

1 cup raw almonds (you can use toasted if you like)
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (I cut mine in half first)
3/4 cup raw, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Blend all ingredients in food processor until texture is very fine.
2. Form "dough" into balls with hands. Chill on a plate.
3. Once balls are chilled, transfer to a covered container for up to a week.

Although I doubted it would be sticky enough to hold a ball shape, in the end it did just fine. I sprinkled them with some more coconut just for kicks, and because I like it. These go down so easy; I have had a few with a glass of milk as an afternoon snack several times this week. I'm kind of glad The H doesn't care for things with coconut in them... more for me. :D This recipe made about 18 balls.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Product review: thinkThin bars

Last time we were near a Trader Joe's, I had just finished a 4-mile run and we had to hurry back home (2 hours away). I was looking for a tasty, filling, not-too-terrible snack to have in the car. The row of thinkThin bars caught my eye because I'd seen them advertised in Clean Eating Magazine. If my favorite CE resource endorses them, they must not be TOO bad, I was hoping.

The ingredients list is pretty cool--no weird artificial sweeteners that give me headaches--AND they are gluten-free, so wahoo for The H! He shared some of my brownie crunch in the car. I saved the chunky peanut butter one for later.

Unlike most protein bars I've had, the texture of this one is not paste-like or overly gritty. The chocolate coating is pretty convincing if your tastebuds need to be fooled into thinking they're eating a candy bar (we all have those moments, right? Not just me, I hope...). It's a good portion size for a mid-morning snack, and I plan to order more of them online. They're eligible for the "Subscribe & Save" feature on, which we already use for some gluten-free products.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Berry Picking

This week, the little guy and I had our first berry-picking adventure! I can't believe I've never taken advantage of the U-pick stuff around our area. It was fun, and cheap. We got over 10 pounds of berries in about an hour, and it cost just a bit over $13. TEN POUNDS of bloobs is more than 14 cups, in case you were wondering. I felt accomplished when I washed and bagged them all up right when we got home.

He had such a blast, and was a great helper.

The berry bushes were so full--the farm was on their first picking--and it was so easy. We could get a handful of berries in one gentle grab. Look how pretty they are.

Happy summer, now in my freezer!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ten Min Din

For the record, I despise the term "din din." Never ever shall I use it with my son, let it be henceforth and hereafter acknowledged.

So. This dinner took ten minutes to pull together. And the little guy LOVED it. We're on our own this week while The H soaks up some California sun in San Francicso (lucky dog) and a quick dinner was just what we needed.

In short, whole-wheat gnocchi on a bed of fresh organic spinach (and crushed red pepper--left out of the little guy's serving), topped with homemade-ish superfast marinara sauce. For that, I simmered a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes with Italian seasoning, a pinch of brown sugar to cut the acidity, some kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

My smiley guy kept giggling as he ate, saying, "I love yokies. You love yokies, Mama?" Perfect.