Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carefree lunches

   As I mentioned yesterday, we just got back from a two-week vacation.  We are barely going to get unpacked before we will be back on the road again as we are heading to Chicago for the weekend.  With such a short time between trips, I'm keeping lunches simple this week.  Meghan started out with a bowl of organic peas with a some butter.  (I used frozen so I just had to heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds)  She ate the entire bowl--she really likes peas.  Here she is enjoying her first course:
   While she was eating her peas, I prepared her a classic grilled cheese sandwich, with a little sprinkle of kelp.  Kelp, or seaweed, contains nearly 30 minerals so I sprinkle it on certain foods whenever I can.  Just a healthy little add-on to boost the nutrition of a regular old grilled cheese.  Here's my kelp container:

I bought an empty spice container with a sprinkle top and buy the kelp from the bulk section of the health food store.  Here's the sandwich before I put it in the panini press.  (Using the panini press is so much easier than a pan!)  The swiss cheese I used was so holy I needed to use two pieces.  

And here's the grilled cheese:

Meghan only ate half of her sandwich, so I helped her out and finished the second half.  Last, she had three handfuls of organic grapes.  She was eating them faster than I could slice them in half!  
My easy lunch was the leftover quinoa salad from last night. 
 So yummy and very satisfying!

I have a confession to make:  I love Starbucks.  Love it.  I crave their yummy coffee drinks a lot, but try to only get them occasionally.  It's that darn sugar.  Grrr.  Anyway,  I was craving one after putting Meghan down for her nap.  Since my daughter was sleeping and slipping out to Starbucks was not an option, I decide to make my own, somewhat healthier version.  I wanted to make a Frappicino (sp?) style drink of blended coffee, but once I got all of my ingredients in the magic bullet, I didn't have room for 
So instead, I just had an iced coffee drink.  I am sipping it now and it is yummy.  Here's what went into it:  1 cup coffee, 1 cup soy milk, 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 T. agave nectar.  It turned out not too sweet with a subtle chocolate flavor.  And no refined sugar like the kind I would have gotten at Starbucks!  I made more than I needed, so the extra was put into the fridge.  

Well I am off to get the less fun things accomplished during the rest of Meghan's nap.  Tonight I am going to make my first attempt at grilled pizza.  I'll keep you updated on how it turns out.  

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hiatus Over

     I took a break from my food blog for various reasons over the past months.  I wasn't sure when I'd get back to it, and then something weird happened to me in the last few weeks.  I've found myself thinking as if I'm blogging.  It's really strange- as I'm eating or preparing a meal, I find myself thinking about what I'd write about it, actually writing the blog in my head.  I guess that was my sign that I ought to get back to the food blogging thing.  So, here I am, ready to jump back in with no particular plan in mind.  I really don't know what format I'll use; I'm not going to make any promises or declarations, but I will say that I feel like I want to do this everyday.  We'll see if that motivation continues or is just a passing fancy.
   We just got back from a two-week vacation last night, so today there was not much food in the house.  We did have some eggs and an unopened package of shredded cheese, so Meghan and I had cheese omelettes, with a little milled flax seed sprinkled in there, for breakfast.  On a side note--why is it that organic eggs last so long?  I buy local organic eggs and the expiration date on them is always like a month or more away.  It seems like in the day when I didn't buy organic or local eggs they didn't last that long.  Weird.  Anyway, Tim left for work before we were up, but I don't think he had anything for breakfast.  Hopefully he didn't stop at McDonald's.  
    There was no hope for lunch, so a trip to the grocery store was in order.  We got back shortly before it was time for Meghan's lunch, so I didn't have much time to prepare her food.   It was a quick and easy lunch day for Meghan.  I started out with about a 1/4 cup of frozen green beans.  Frozen veggies are so quick and easy, they've been a staple in Meghan's diet.  I feel good about serving them to her because in many cases they can have more nutrients than the "fresh" variety in the grocery store since the veggies are frozen so quickly after they are harvested.  Often the "fresh" veggies are traveling such a far way by the time they get to your local store they've lost a significant amount of nutrients.  So, I popped the grean beans in the microwave with a little water for 30 seconds and they were good to go.  Here she is enjoying her first course:
  This picture shows quite accurately how she feels about green beans.  Eh, they're okay.  She ate them, though, so I can't complain.  After this picture, the battery on my camera died. (You know that two-week vacation I mentioned?  We took over 500 pictures.)  So for the rest of the meal you will just have to rely on mental visualization.  After the green beans, I gave her some shelled edamame (again, frozen).  She loves her some soy beans.  I munched on a few of them, as well, because at this point I was getting a little hungry, too.  Next was a slice of bread with Vermont Monkey Business peanut butter.  This peanut butter was something we found at a little store on our vacation.  I thought it sounded so interesting--natural peanut butter with raisins and banana.  It sounds good, right?   Well, it is.  BUT.  This store had a convenient way of not putting price tags on things.  We didn't even think about it; I just assumed the pb would cost $5-6.  Wrong.  It was an $11 bottle of peanut butter!  It's good, but not that good.  Anyway, her last course was some honeydew melon.  I'm not sure what I was thinking buying a silly honeydew.  It's not in season and it really wasn't that great.  Meghan ate it, nonetheless.  She loves, loves, loves fruit.
   After Meghan went down for her nap, I could devote a few minutes to my own lunch.  I decided on a Tomato-Spinach sandwich with sliced strawberries for dessert.  Here were my ingredients:
Oat Nut bread, baby spinach, a tomato, baby swiss cheese, and some Veganaise (vegan mayo).

I love warm sandwiches, even in the summer, so decided to use the panini press for this one.  I love my panini press!  Here's the sandwich before the panini press:
And here was the final result:
I couldn't fit the whole tomato on the sandwich, so I had the extra slices on the side with a tiny bit of sea salt.  Yum! This was a great lunch.
  When Meghan woke from her nap, we shared a lovely smoothie for a snack.  The ingredients were:  5 strawberries, a handful of honeydew chunks, three heaping tablespoons of plain, organic yogurt, and a tablespoon of raw honey.  It was delicious and Meghan hogged most of it.  Here is Meghan enjoying her smoothie:

    For dinner I bought a few thinly sliced, skinless, boneless, chicken breasts and a bunch of asparagus for the grill.  Don't you just love grilling season?  It's so easy and grilled food tastes soooooo good.  For the chicken I did  a simple marinade of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and dried thyme (I didn't measure; just put in what seemed like a good amount).  I marinated it for about 2 hours before grilling.  The asparagus was the usual:  drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Here's the chicken and asparagus on the grill:
  For another side dish, I prepared an Italian Quinoa Salad.  This turned out really tasty, so I'll share my on-the-fly recipe:

Italian Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1- 15 oz can (drained and well-rinsed) Great Northern beans
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed), chopped
2 T. pine nuts, toasted
1 large handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil over high heat.  Add quinoa, turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave cover on for 10 more minutes.
In a large bowl, carefully combine quinoa, beans, tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.  Drizzle oil mixture over the quinoa and mix until evenly coated.  Serve warm.
Yield:  6-8 servings.
Here's the complete dinner:
     As you can clearly see and read, I am not eating vegan (or even vegetarian) lately.  I am somewhat nutritionally confused.  I've been reading nutrition books with conflicting messages and trying to figure out where I stand. Right now my view is "everything in moderation".  My nutrition journey is continuing to evolve and I know I will figure out the healthiest path, eventually.
   Okay, so I don't think I'll be writing this much everyday.  I guess I was feeling overly ambitious after my long hiatus.  More realistically, I may write about one meal everyday.  We will see.