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Friday, December 30, 2011

Meal Plan

      I've been doing meal plans almost every week (though sometimes only roughly) since I posted the first one a few months ago.  Today, I'm finally getting around to posting another.  I still don't assign the meals I pick for the week specific days.  What I make any given night will depend on the family's mood and what I feel like prepping, in addition to all the other factors that play into any given night.

      This week, we will be having:

      Taco Salad
      Hot and Sour Vegetables
      Cabbage Rolls with Black-Eyed Peas inside (this will be the New Year's meal)
      Lentil Vegetable Stew
      And a special surprise for MacGyver: Corned Beef!  The (local, organic, humane) ham I made for Christmas turned out so amazingly well that I decided to try my hand at curing my own corned beef using a brisket from local humane farmer we get beef from.

      I'll try to post the recipes, but I've been pretty bad about that lately.  We'll see...

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Sausage" Casserole

      This started out as just a fridge clean-out meal and may become a comfort food favorite.

I used: 
1 med onion 
About 10 large shitake mushrooms, diced 
1 lb Gimme Lean "Sausage" 
1 cup steamed chopped kale or other dark leafy green 
1/2 lb steamed brussels sprouts 
3 med red potatoes, microwaved for 2 min then sliced (don't burn your fingers!) 
1/4 - 1/3 cup organic low sodium veggie broth 
Sprinkling of pepper, oregano, paprika, and chili power or BAM (by Emeril Legasse)

      First, I chopped the onions and let them sit for at least 5 minutes.  In the meantime, I diced up the shitakes (I found some at the farmer's market, bonus!), and started to fry up the sausage in a tbls or so of grapeseed oil.  Then I threw in about 3/4 of the chopped onion and all the diced shitake.
      While that sauteed, I put a layer of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Once the "sausage" was heated through and the onions started to get transparent, I added the mixture on top of the potatoes. On top of that, I layered the last of the onion, the chopped kale (leftover from an earlier meal - any dark leafy green will work), and the brussels sprouts (which I cut in half).

      I then sprinkled the dish with the veggie broth and topped with another layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle on the seasonings, and bake uncovered at 375 until the potatoes start to crisp.  Makes an amazing comfort food  

      A note about "fake meats:"

      I have mentioned before that I am not a fan of “fake meat,” as you buy it from the grocery store.  To be sure, it is MUCH better than the inhumane, processed, chemical filled meat products from factory farms you find in the grocery store, but “fake meat” is still a processed food.

       But for all my ruminating and pronouncing on health and ethical eating, we still have our vices, and fake meat is one we’re not giving up just yet.  We eat some fake meat product probably once a week.  Most often, it’s “fake” breakfast “sausage,” like the Gimme Lean used in this recipe.

      I neither endorse nor indict fake meat products.  I use them, but I use them sparingly as they are a processed food.  Most of the time, if I need a “meat substitute,” or something to fill a meat-like role in a recipe, I try to do that with more whole foods like Tempah.  For a couple excellent uses of Tempah, please check out Sloppy Joes and Mexican Lasagna. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Green Eggs and "Ham"

      This quick and easy breakfast is one of Punky's favorites, and it's a nutritional powerhouse.

       All it is is HUMANE eggs mixed up with puréed spinach.  Please, please, if you make any of my recipes, use humane eggs from a local farm.  The sickening conditions and incomprehensible cruelty that takes place in the factory farms that supply the grocery stores - EVEN for "free range" or "cage free" eggs, is intolerable. I would refrain from eating eggs before I would eat those.  They throw millions of baby chicks into grinders alive!!  In most places, it is a lot easier to find local, humane eggs than you'd think.  Or you can get your own backyard chickens! We love ours!

      To make green eggs, I just throw frozen spinach (preferably organic); thawed but not hot, into the Ninja/blender/food processor with a few eggs in about equal amounts.  You want just a bit more egg than spinach.  Then I blend it up until smooth and uniform.

       If your family is particularly picky, if you're not planning on telling then what makes the eggs green, or just for maximized looks, purée the spinach first until it is completely smooth, or use organic puréed spinach baby food (I liked Earth's Best and Sprout when I didn't have time to make my own).  This will cause the spinach to blend completely with the egg.

      Once the spinach and egg are combined, you throw them and a pan and make scrambled eggs. Be sure to stir them continually or they'll get a little brown, which ruins the fun of green eggs!

      Obviously, we don't eat store bought ham. Aside from being inhumane, it is extremely processed and full of chemicals known to increase rates of cancer, particularly brain cancer, in children (the study was actually done on hot dogs, but store ham contains the same chemicals - nitrates and nitrites).  We use vegetarian meats, and even my skeptical family loves them. The meal above is pictured with MorningStar Farms Sausage.

      One caveat about fake "meats:"  While I feel that most fake meats are a better choice than grocery store meats, they are still very processed. I don't recommend eating them on a daily basis.  We usually only eat it on weekends. 

       Plate up your green eggs and "ham," and enjoy some Dr. Seuss over breakfast!

       Let me know if you give this one a try!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Magical Allergy Tea

      For as long as I've known him - actually, since his childhood - MacGyver has suffered from allergies.  Dust mites are his largest irritant, but many allergens get to him.  He has tried all manner of treatments and medications from allergy shots and perscription meds to over the counter meds and Neti Pots.  Nothing has ever been that effective.  Diphenhydramine provides relief for his symptoms but it also knocks him out.  For a daytime remedy, nothing has worked.

      Enter:  Magical Mama with the Earth-centered know how and the herbal hookup, also known as the best wife ever!  In case I'm not being clear, that's me!

      A few weeks ago, MacGvyer's allergies suddenly and mysteriously spiked again.  Poor guy was really suffering.  I decided that since my Cold Remedy Soup was such a big hit, and because I've been very, very into herb gardening lately, that I would try my hand at making something to sooth MacGyver's allergies, specifically, a tea.

      So I dug into my books and perused a few websites, compiled a list of ingredients, compared them, cross referenced the active compounds in each of them, gave a little consideration to taste, and developped what MacGvyer has since dubbed my Magical Allergy Tea.

      Before I proceed to the tea recipe, a couple caveats:  I have ZERO medical training.  I have ZERO herbal training.  This is a recipe I came up with myself based on my own research and knowledge of herbs.  For MacGvyer, it works wonders.  I don't claim that it will do the same for anyone else.  All the ingredients in it are common herbs that are considered safe to cook with.  That said, if you've never tried any of them, you should consult your doctor before trying them.  This is particularly true if you have ANY medical conditions, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding*.

      Mama's Magical Allergy Tea
For one roughly 8oz cup of tea:
-  7 leaves of fresh lemon balm (vaious sizes)
-  1 tsp dried nettles/stinging nettles (they are the same thing)
-  1/2 tsp dried peppermint (the HERB, not the candy)
-  1/2 tsp dried spearmint (again HERB, not candy)
-  Pinch dried red pepper flakes

      Finely dice the lemon balm, combine all ingredients in your perferred brewing vessel or infuser.  Boil water, remove from heat.  Steep for 5 minutes.  If desired, add some LOCAL honey (local honey is exponentially more effective for allergies and better for the environment than the store bought crud.  If you can't get local honey, I recommend a little pure maple syrup or agave nectar).  Enjoy!  Feel the relief.

      Some notes:  The only reason I used fresh lemon balm and the rest of the ingredients dried is because that's what I had on hand.  Next year, I will be growing all these ingredients and will adjust my recipe accordingly.  If you use dried lemon balm, use a heaping 1/2 tsp.  Also, you don't have to use both peppermint and spearmint, you can use 1 tsp of one or the other if you perfer, but I had both so I figured the flavor and the effectiveness would benefit from using both.

      The first day MacGyver tried this tea, he was a little skeptical.  The second day, he was downright excited to drink it.  By the third day, he proclaimed that he felt instant relief after just the first sip and dubbed it my "Magical Tea."  I make no such claims, but I am sooo happy that it has made him feel better.  I'm thinking I'm going to go ahead and premake a whole bunch of this mix so I don't have to set it out for him every morning (like I have been for the last couple weeks).

      If you try this tea, let me know!  I'd love to know if it brings you relief.  There have been many studies showing that the ingredients in the tea help with alleries, particularly the nettles.

      I have since developped a few more home remedy teas - Menstrual relief, Stress relief, Anxiety relief, and Motion Sickness relief.  Let me know if you'd like to try one!