Delicata squash

delicataI’m a big fan of this variety of winter squash I just saw for the first time.  Like all winter squash varieties, delicata is very mild, and it is slightly sweet.

I prepared it by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (for the garden), and then cutting it into 1/4″ slices.  I baked it for 50 minutes in a covered dish with some excellent fresh tomato sauce, shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of California wild rice.  I spiced it with my favorites: turmeric, black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  I also added some apple cider vinegar.  I really like this tangy addition to the dish!

It made 4 generous servings, and it was delicious and healthful.

Will do this again soon!  And, I’m counting on it growing in my garden, maybe even getting a few before our first freeze, usually in late October.

Give it a try, cooking it your way, or try mine!

Source: Delicata squash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Grocery shopping

A&P Grocery StoreThe first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.— Joel Salatin

My earliest memories of grocery shopping with my mother were those trips to the A&P grocery store in my hometown of Carrollton, Texas.  I’m not sure she liked taking me with her because I’m sure I begged for lots of things that I had no chance of getting her to buy.

I remember the meat market counter where a man wearing a white apron and cap would cut meat to my mother’s liking, wrap it in white butcher paper, and marked it with a pen or a stamp with purple ink, labeling it with whatever cut of beef it was.  We would take these home, store them in our deep freezer in our garage, and enjoy it on our table nightly.

I didn’t know that supermarkets had not always existed.  It made sense to me that there had always been stores like these.  Food was easy to come by, and it was taken for granted.

We had relatives however who had gardens, some who lived on farms, and for some of them, especially those in rural areas, a grocery store like ours was probably not very common.  We were suburbanites — city folks — to them, and that’s what spoiled me and made me think of food as something easy to get, always available, thus prone to overconsumption and abuse and easy to waste.

Consequently, it was the perfect setup for learning to eat highly processed foods, prepackaged and ready-to-eat, with no forethought as to the consequences to my health.

This has changed, but it is still a problem for many people.  Weaning ourselves away from “the easy way” to embrace “the mindful way” takes time, patience with our bodies that still crave the bad stuff, and greater knowledge about how to choose good foods that are also healthful and in their most natural, edible forms.

It is a journey, but in a sense, it is a “back to the future” experience that recaptures some of the best memories of childhood when things were simpler, and in a real sense, better.

Source for Joel Salatin quote above: 32 inspirational gardening quotes | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Almost ten ways to eat healthily on a budget (repost)


Beautiful kitchen garden

Eating with health in mind does not have to break the bank!  The truth of the matter is that cutting out expensive, unhealthy restaurant meals and buying quality produce in the best places can eliminate much of the wasted costs of eating that are associated with the typical American diet.

I came across this blog post from another WordPress blogger, and thought I would share it.  It’s a great list, and it makes the point that healthful eating does not have to cost more.

To give you a taste of what she has to say, here are a couple:

  • Make your own snacks and treats – My own experience with this has saved me bundles!
  • Make a packed lunch – I calculated this a couple of years ago, and I save about $5 a day by packing a lunch instead of driving to a restaurant or fast-food joint to get something for lunch.  Plus, I use the extra time at lunch to catch up on my social media and other reading that I do.

See the entire list by clicking on the source link below.  Thanks pHreshh || HOW TO BE HEALTHY AND COOL MOSTLY for an excellent and informative post!

Source: almost ten ways to eat healthily on a budget

There are giants in the land

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”

~Caldwell Esselstyn

When it comes to plant-based nutrition, there are so many “giants in the land” of the enemy that it is much easier to submit to their rule in our lives than it is to subdue them.  Just ask anyone who has ever made a life change from eating a meat-based diet to one of whole foods, based 100% in plants.

assortedplantDr. Esselstyn’s quote (above) is taken from his groundbreaking book,  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.  It states the obvious irony: people will go to extraordinary extremes, both in health and in financial expenses, to correct, or treat, the outcomes of a poor lifestyle before they will adopt preventative one if it requires changing what they like to eat.

It’s absurd, and it’s true.  Been there, done that, with 60 years of experience!

Like anything else, however, there is comfort in numbers, and the numbers of doctors, nutrition researchers and experts, and plant-based diet adherents are growing, and this alone will turn the course toward disease prevention and away from disease treatment as the primary “fix” for health.
The benefits of a plant-based diet begin at day one when a person simply decides that disease prevention and/or reversal is their biggest health priority.  Making the decision empowers the other activities that move us physically to the better path, and it feels good just to breathe the fresh air of change.

Source for quote: The Top 100 Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes, and the aforementioned book by Dr. Esselstyn.

Simple Saturday pleasures

Turnips and fennel curry

Saturday finally arrived, with no plans, a stack of books I want to read, and a stocked refrigerator with several things already cubed, diced, turned into a paste, and spiced the way I like it.

I started getting out of bed around 5:30, my body totally “slept out” and ready to welcome the day.  As is my habit, I took a blood pressure reading, and it was the lowest I’ve had in over a year.  This has been the trend lately with better eating, and the accompanying weight loss that has been the secondary benefit.

First up, make some tea.  My favorite tea is “bush” tea from South Africa, also called “red tea”, technically rooibos.  This organic brand from Davidson’s is my favorite.  It also has some dried mint leaves in it, and it’s perfect for a great start to the day.  I added a little ground cardamom and whole anise seeds to spice it up even more with the sweet fragrance that each one brings to the cup.

Perusing the “ready” items in the fridge, and in the mood for some turnips in a curry, I was in luck!  I pulled a small “one-serving size” skillet from my stack of “loud banging noise” cooking vessels with minimal effort, and it woke no one in the house who was still sleeping.

I put in two tablespoons of my curry paste I made for my curry dishes early in the week, consisting of onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.  I added about twice as much unsweetened coconut milk and brought it all to a slow simmer.  I added two slices of fresh fennel and a diced turnip, brought it all back to a simmer, covered it, set the stove to low, and sat down with my tea and my pups on the soft couch next to the first light of the morning showing through the glass in my door.

When I finished the cup of tea, I checked on the tenderness of the turnips and fennel, and it was perfection!  After pouring it into my bowl, I added some freshly sprouted adzuki beans and topped it all with some hemp heart seeds.

A perfect morning to read, to write, to snooze, and to love life.

Hatch chilies paste

It may be my imagination, but I don’t think so.  Hatch chilies have the best flavor of any peppers readily available in the area.

hatchI bought a big 2 lb bag of them over the weekend, and then had to decide how I was going to use them.  I like to make toppings for my veggies and thought this would be a good way to put them to use this time around.

First, I blanched them for about 20 minutes in a very large pot of boiling water.  Then, I let them cool on some paper towels for at least an hour.  I pulled the stems outs and made about three cuts crosswise on each chili, and then tossed them all into my Ninja blender.

Then, I added a medium tomatillo, a small (6 oz) can of low sodium tomato paste, about 1 tbsp of turmeric, 1 tsp of black pepper,  1 tsp of freshly crushed cumin seeds, 4 fresh garlic cloves and a medium red onion, and about 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.  I whizzed the blender on pulse until it was all very smooth, but still a paste, more than a sauce.

It made 2 pints, one of which I save into the freezer, and the rest I am eating as dipping pastes for my sprouts and raw veggies this week.

The flavor is outstanding, kinda smoky tasting, and sorta like wasabi, you have to be careful not to take too much into one bite.  You’re welcome!  🙂

Cooking without oils

One of the healthiest “mini-conversions” people can make to rid their diets of excess calories, while honing in on super nutrition, is to learn how to use alternative ingredients and cooking methods that eliminate added fats and salt.

This is one of the most important components of the Eat To Live plan that I have been following religiously.  It’s not simply a weight-loss thing, like some people suppose.  It also helps to keep cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes (Type 2), and many other chronic disease in check.

zuchtopWhile there are so-called “healthy fats” that are essential to the body, most of these are easily attained through rich natural sources such as nuts and seeds.  Even with this knowledge, however, it is difficult for people to realize that cooking can be accomplished without the use of added oils, even the “healthy” ones.

So, relearning cooking methods and using alternative ingredients are essential if one really wants to succeed in eating an optimal nutritious diet without compromising for lack of knowledge.

When I came across this post, I knew it belonged on my blog.  I have seen some good articles, and some good videos on specific techniques, but this, perhaps, is the best one yet.

Posted on Forks Over Knives, this article, by Darshana Thacker, “Expert Tips on How to Cook Without Oil”, covers most all cooking methods with alternative suggestions and ingredients.  She also discusses cookware suggestions that are helpful.

Take a look at it, and let me know what you think about it!  I’d love to hear other ideas that are not included here.

Click this link to read this great article!

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