Healthy In Candy Land

Caring for our health & our planet one meal at a time

   Oct 07 2012

What’s For Dinner 2.0

Before I get into this week’s menu plan I wanted to let you know I have been doing a bit of work “behind the scenes” on the blog. This is what Wordpress does to me:

What should take only minutes always ends up taking me hours!

I updated my recipe tab, so everything is on there now. I also added an email subscription button over on the right sidebar. My previous one mysteriously disappeared at some point and I didn’t notice, for I have no idea how long. If you want to be sent a notification via email whenever I put up a new post, be sure to sign up by clicking on the yellow envelope button over there—->.

And (or) if you are an avid Facebooker, be sure to “like” my page on Facebook. I sometimes post things over there that I don’t always include in blog posts. And certainly, you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of it, riiiight?

Lastly, I installed some navigation buttons. See the arrows on either far side of the screen? They will take you to previous and next posts so you can get around from post to post much easier than before. Yay!

And now we can get down to some serious menu planning business, yo.

Since last week’s menu planning challenge worked out so well, I am determined to stick to the routine, but for now I am going to stick with only planning dinners. Breakfasts and lunches around here are spontaneous and some days each member of the family might have something different!

This week is extra busy and full of fun events that involve dinner-time (which is so unusual for us!), so it will make for a fairly light meal plan.

Monday: Coconut Lentil Veggie SoupThis is something I’ve been creating in my mind for weeks now so if it turns out well I will post the recipe later this week. It will be perfect for using up lots of veggies that we overbought at the farmer’s market.

Tuesday: Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheez-n-Peas with a mixed green salad My kids have been requesting pasta lately–I guess it’s been awhile.

Wednesday: Falafel over Spinach with Tahini Sauce –Accepting some help from Trader Joe’s with the falafel as it is a late soccer practice night.

Thursday: LeftoversThe three boys have a Dad-Kid dinner event at school so it will just be me.

Friday: Friday Night Pizza Night! I am hoping to recreate the beauty that Erik made for me last Friday:

(A gluten-free crust with seasoned tomato sauce, light mozzarella, spinach, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers, roasted delicata squash finished off with a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Unbelievable!)

Saturday: Erik and I have tickets to see Wicked!

(source)

I am more than excited! (Wow, two bucket list items crossed off in two weeks–last week we saw Madonna in concert!) We plan to eat dinner out at our favorite vegetarian restaurant in Seattle, Cafe Flora. I can’t wait to try a seasonal addition to the menu. (I just peeked at their menu and am thinking this sounds delicious: Yakima Valley Polenta: Grilled organic polenta, Dykstra Farm sautéed plums, grilled Walla Walla sweet onions and Romano beans with melted Cambazola cheese and a port-balsamic reduction.)

Sunday: Harvest Salad with Pumpkin Cider Vinaigrette –We will be at a family birthday party so I’m not sure what else we will have but I volunteered to bring a salad. I can’t wait to try this one!

Be sure to head over to Mommy Run Fast to see all the other Menu Plans linking up this week–you are sure to find lots of great ideas! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Halloween decorating to do! Yippee!

Question: What are you making for dinner this week? What are your go-to quick meals for extra busy nights?


   Oct 05 2012

Peek of the Week: Almond Milk

 I’m just going to come right out and say it.

Cow’s milk freaks me out.

I am not a vegan, and I do consume some dairy products, but I just can’t bring myself, (or my family) to drink cow’s milk. I’ve  never really liked it–even as a kid, I would use as little milk as possible in my bowl of cereal, but that was it. And as un-American as it sounds, I ate my after-school cookies plain. And with dinner, I drank water.

If you choose to drink cow’s milk, I am in no way saying you shouldn’t and I’m not interested in trying to change your mind if you do, but I am just going to quickly present some information that has definitely had an influence on why I haven’t bought cow’s milk for my family in several years.

(source)

  • With a degree in Zoology, I studied a lot of animal physiology, behavior, and anatomy and I always thought it interesting that humans are the only species on earth that drink milk, from any source, beyond infancy. Once other mammals are weaned, every other species on earth survives just fine by eating food and drinking nothing but water.
  • The Journal of the American Dietetic Association has published a report saying that as many as 75 percent of the world’s population loses the ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, after infancy.
  • Without even mentioning the horrendous treament and conditions dairy cows endure, milk production involves some extreme processes, and includes high amounts of  antibiotics, hormones and genetically-modified substances that cows are continually exposed to. All cows release toxins through their milk. And pus. (Dairy cows often suffer from mastitis and the pus is released in their milk. Along with blood.) The USDA might think that a certain level of pus and blood is fine for us to drink, but I think any amount is too much.

Buying organic milk will reduce the exposure to some of these issues, and as with other products, when it’s possible to buy organic and/or locally produced dairy products, it is always a better choice than large-scale, conventionally produced options.

But dairy is not our only option when it comes to milk!

There are many milk alternatives on the market, many of which are even more nutritious than cow’s milk. Almond, coconut, soy, rice, hemp, oat, hazlenut, and cashew are just some of the more popular milk options commercially available.

While I have tried many varieties, my favorites continue to be almond and coconut milk. These two taste the best (in my opinion), and second to that, provide a higher nutritional bang for my buck. Specifically, I love these two:

(source)

   Vanilla(source)

We usually have a couple of each kind in our fridge at all times.

We’ve all heard how good almonds are for us, right? They really are. As the most nutritious of all the nuts, almonds are rich in Vitamin E (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, fiber and monounsaturated fats (the good kind). They are good for brain development and for skin, can regulate cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and can even reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and promote weight loss.

raw almonds(photo from previous post)

Since almonds are so good for us, of course almond milk is good for us too. Almond milk is simply almonds blended up with some water and filterered to remove the pulp. Some commercial brands add other things to the mix for flavor and consistency purposes, which is why I like the Silk brand–they seem to add the fewest “other” ingredients. And if all of this weren’t already enough to make you ditch cow’s milk if you haven’t already, look at the calorie comparison–almond milk has just 35 calories per serving, compared to 120 calories per serving in the dairy version.

What if I told you you could make your own fresh almond milk and you could control exactly what you put, or even better, what you don’t put in it?

I’m sure you would think, clearly, that is a girl with way too much free time on her hands.

To that I would first snort, and then I would tell you that it would take less than ten minutes! I had thought about making my own before, but always figured it would be this involved, complicated process requiring fancy equipment. Not so. When I saw this video I couldn’t believe it was so simple and quick, and I knew right away I wanted to try it for myself. In the video Maryea uses cheesecloth which obviously works just fine, but I didn’t have any and I had seen ‘nut milk bags’ online and in health food stores before which I thought would make it even that much easier, so I ordered one.

Of course  I ordered My Nut Sack because it made me laugh.

What can I say, I live in a household full of boys and find humor in such things.

Here are the easy-peasy steps (which are also so conveniently printed right on the label of the nut sack).

1. Soak one cup of raw almonds in water for eight hours or so. (Or, if you are me, for like two days because you are busy and don’t have an extra ten minutes to get to the poor soaking almonds.) Overachievers unite!

2. Rinse almonds and dump into a blender with two cups of water.

3. Blend. 

4. Pour mixture through ‘nut sack’ (hee hee), or fine-meshed cheesecloth into a bowl.

5. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

6. Pour fresh almond milk into a storage container and refrigerate.

You can add sweetener and/or vanilla first, if you desire.

We all tasted it without adding anything and I really liked the fresh almond flavor. The rest of the family said it needed more flavor so I added a little vanilla extract.

Simple, real, nothing extra. No preservatives, no inflammation-causing carageenan, and certainly no hormones or pus.

I did a few calculations and was surprised to discover that it is actually more expensive to make my own almond milk than it is to buy it ($0.88 a cup to buy it vs. $1.70 a cup to make it–if I did my math right). But perhaps the price of peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are consuming might be worth it?

Now I just need a few cookies to dunk.


   Oct 02 2012

Apple Salsa

On Sunday we went on a hike up to some waterfalls near Snoqualmie Pass and spent a gorgeous afternoon together as a family.

We hiked through the woods and climbed on rocks.

(Some of the rocks we only pretended to climb.)

We felt the icy cold water in the gently flowing streams.

(Some of us felt it more than others, as Jace slipped right into the shallow stream precisely 3 seconds after taking this photo, and no less than .04 seconds after I reminded him (again) that the rocks in the water were very slippery and would he please stop jumping and running!).

We now know that REI quick-dry hiking pants are worth the money.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day. It felt like it was still summer, with just a hint of fall, and being in the fresh air of the mountains, surrounded by such beauty and taking the time to just be was simply… the perfect way to spend the day.

As we were hiking back down the trail we got into a discussion about 1st grade science and the three states of matter–solids, liquids and gases. After having been thoroughly quizzed myself I decided to turn the tables and challenge the boys a little. (I’m not sure if they remember, but I was a science major in college.)

“Okay, Mr. & Mr. Smartypants, then what would a bubble be classified as?”

“Um, a solid!”… “No, wait–it’s hollow, so it’s a gas!”… “But it has a shape, so, it’s a solid that came from a liquid”… “It’s all three!”

I realized they were both partially correct with all of their answers. Then I realized, I didn’t know the exact right answer either. I encouraged Jace to ask his teacher what she thought at school on Monday.

That conversation (after first discussing what boxes, balloons and many other things would be considered) then turned to questioning common thoughts. And questioning authority. And stretching oneself to think outside what is thought to be fact or “the norm”. And thinking outside the box.

I swear, we have some of the best conversations while hiking.

I know I learn the most and am the most creative when I think outside the box. Today, I decided to do just that, and the results are simply delightful.

I have professed my undying love for apples before. Remember Apple Week last year? There was Applesauce Done Lazy, ‘Papa’s Apples’ Apple Crisp, Healthier Waldorf Salad, Apple Cider Donuts, and even Apple Chili.

I have a thing for apples.

Today I thought outside the box bubble and took apples back to summer, with just a hint of fall, just like our hike on Sunday.

Apple Salsa

by Candy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time:

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 cups)

  • 2 apples, cored and chopped (I used Honeycrisp)
  • 2 jalapenos, deveined, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T honey

Instructions

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes (or longer) to let flavors meld.

Serve with dippers of your choice.

Powered by Recipage

 

I don’t even need to tell you how good this is, do I? You just know, I can tell.

Fresh salsa in October?

It might be unconventional, a stretch from the “norm”, perhaps.

But sometimes the best things come from stepping outside the box bubble.

Trust me, I was a science major.


   Sep 30 2012

What’s For Dinner?

I think about food a lot.

I mean, like a lot.

But, as much as I think about it throughout the day, the thought of dinner usually doesn’t even cross my mind until about 5 pm. That includes deciding what to make.

Seeing as how I like to have dinner ready between 6 and 6:30, that can sometimes create a problem. A frantic, what-can-I-pull-out-of-the-freezer-or-pantry-and-heat-up-real-quick sort of problem.

That is, unless I sit down once a week and create a weekly meal plan.

I used to do it religiously. Every Sunday. Then I’d grocery shop on Mondays and would be all set for the week. Easy, peasy. I even wrote a Peek of the Week post on it back in March of last year. It worked so well, and reduced the stress of coming up with something creative not boring every single night. It freed up so much time not spent trying to think of something, it left me with more time to think about other things. Like what to have for breakfast the next day.

Then Summer happened and I fell out of all sorts of routines, just as the rest of the family did.

It was sort of awesome.

However, fall is here and it is high time I get myself back into gear and resume some order at the 5 o’clock hour. The kids have their weekly chore charts, so in a sense this will be part of mine.

(Not that it is a chore. It is actually kind of fun. As long as I make sure to set aside a little time in which to do it.)

(Which usually ends up being late Sunday night, but whatevs.)

I have to thank the lovely Laura at MommyRunFast for the very (virtual) kick in the rear that I needed, and for inviting me to take part in her What’s For Dinner Menu Planning Challenge and Link Up.

For the whole month of October we will all post our weekly meal plans on Sundays, keeping us accountable and on track.

Aside from reducing the stress of deciding what to make every night, there are many other benefits to meal planning.

  • I make fewer trips to the store because I make a list of everything I will need for the week and stick to the list when shopping.
  • We save money because I am making fewer trips, buying only what we need, and nothing (or very little) goes to waste. And I really hate to throw away food.
  • I involve my family and take requests so they feel a part of the decisions and are more likely to be excited about what is for dinner.
  • When we know ahead of time what to make, and have all the ingredients on hand, we are less likely to resort to convenience foods, or whatever is “quickest”. It is especially helpful to take our schedule into consideration when planning–on busier nights I plan quick-to-prepare meals, or prepare them early in the day (like a crockpot meal), whenever possible.

So really, even though sometimes it can feel like yet another thing to do before I can go to bed on a Sunday night, it really is worth the effort and makes for a much easier week. It is a win-win.

And now, without further ado, here is my dinner menu plan for this week:

  • Wednesday: Veggie & Tofu Fresh Rolls with dipping sauce (yet to be determined)

  • Thursday: Fresh Corn Salad & Vegan Bean Burgers
  • Friday: Homemade Pizza
  • Saturday: Cucumber Salad with Peanut-Lime Viniagrette and Potato Curry
  • Sunday: Dinner Out (we’ll be at the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival)

I am keeping things pretty simple this week as it is going to be a busy one!

Check out Laura’s post to see all the other menu plans–it is sure to be a great source if you need some ideas and inspiration for your own menu planning purposes. And, be sure to link up if you are so inclined!

Question: Do you menu plan on a regular basis or do you just wing it day to day?


   Sep 27 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Kale & Apples

Okay, Fall. I get it.

You’re here.

There’s nothing I can do about it.

Summer is over and won’t be back for another nine months at least. Maybe more.

I have properly mourned my loss and now it is time to move on and accept things for what they are.

Get this: I put up our fall decorations last night.

Earlier this week I made my first batch of chili of the season. In the crockpot.

Yesterday I wore boots. And stored away my tank tops and sun dresses.

See? I’m starting to come around.

With three members of our household in a fantasy football league (I am not one of them, in case you were wondering), football is on the TV more often then not. And if there is not a game on, then there is a ESPN news show about football on.

Every blog I read and every magazine I flip through features a recipe involving pumpkin.

On this morning’s dog walk I came across my first color-changed, fallen leaves and I noticed how pretty they were.

Fall is most definitely here. It’s taken some doing, but I think I might finally be on board.

If you’re not yet, you will be once you try this dish, trust me.

I did not create this dish, but I did alter it a bit from the original that I drooled over on the gorgeous blog Oh She Glows. I’m calling it, “The Dish That Finally Brought Me Around to Fall”.

You can just call it dinner if you want.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Kale & Apples

by Candy

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 T melted coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups de-stemmed kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400* and lightly coat a roasting pan with cooking spray or small amount of coconut oil.

Place chopped squash and cauliflower into a large bowl and mix with oil, garlic, sage an salt until well combined.

Place onto roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the topping–in a mini food processor or with a knife, chop nuts finely and mix with nutritional yeast, 1/8 tsp salt and grapeseed oil, leaving some nuts in bigger chunks.

When veggies are almost done, add the kale and apple, stirring to combine then sprinkle the nut mixture on top and return to the oven, reducing the heat to 350*, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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The natural sweetness of the squash and apples are perfectly balanced with the sage and the salty, cheesy, nutty topping. If you (or your family) don’t like kale all that much, this is the perfect dish to include it (think of all that extra nutrition!) because it is pretty well disguised by all of the other flavors going on.

Oh all right, Fall.

Fine.

If it means I get to enjoy delicious flavors and meals like this, then I guess you can stay.

Just don’t tell Summer I said that.


   Sep 21 2012

The Lovely List

You know how sometimes the simplest things can make you so ridiculously happy? I’ve been finding several things lately that I think are just lovely and feel compelled to share them with you. Some of them might make you happy too!

1. Annmarie Gianni Skin Care: 

Anti-Aging Serum (15ml)(source)

I have been searching for a few years now for a good, natural skin care product, and one that would also address the not-so-fine lines that are rapidly multiplying around my eyes. I am not a spring chicken any more, and it is time to get serious here. I ordered a sample kit for ten bucks from Annmarie Gianni Skin Care, and immediately fell in love. Her products are all natural, organic and smell wonderful. I especially love the Dead Sea Scrub and the Anti-Aging Serum. My skin feels awesome after using them and it is so much softer just after a week of use. (Not sure if the lines are any finer–probably a bit soon to tell. :) ) A little bit goes a long way, so even though they are a little pricey, they will last a long time.

2. Clean windows:

Earlier this week we had all the windows in our house cleaned, inside and out by a professional window cleaner. Can I just tell you how happy this makes me? This is the first time we’ve had it done since we moved in to our house. Seven years ago!  We don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach the outside of the upstairs windows and we did clean the inside windows on occasion during that time, but when the outsides are that dirty, what’s the point, you know? They were so bad the window cleaner took before and after photos for his website–as if I weren’t ashamed enough. I spent the last three days cleaning the window tracks and frames, and now, they are sparkling, and somehow the entire house seems so much cleaner when looking out of clean windows!

3. These shoes:

I think every wardrobe needs a pair (or two) of red shoes, and I am totally in love with these. I just ordered a pair and I can’t wait for them to arrive.

4. This ecard someone posted on Facebook:

I’ve been doing some spring fall cleaning and it sort of feels like a hamster wheel that will not stop. Anything I clean does not stay that way for very long.

This one, although not related in any way, also resonated with me:

5. End of summer (okay, I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that fall officially begins tomorrow!) nectarines:

I bought some yesterday at the farmers market, and oh-em-gee are they amazing. So flavorful and juicy–the best ones I’ve tasted all summer for sure. And just for the record, nectarines kick their furry cousin the peach’s you know what.

6. This CD:

The Lumineers(source)

My sister Diane and I finally celebrated my birthday (it was in January…) by spending the day in Seattle and after our walk around Green Lake, an hour of paddleboating, and lunch at Thrive we stopped in at Starbucks for some iced teas. I saw the CD and mentioned I love one of the songs by this group, so she bought it for me. I am loving it, and this song is my fave:

7. This post from Bring Joy about creative people and how they need to create really struck a chord with me. She talks about why she blogs and a lot of it holds true for me as well (–not just with blogging but everything I do creatively). It’s complicated, but maybe it helps explain a little bit about why I am the way I am and why I do what I do. Why yes, I too am like a neurotic cat.

8. This photo:

Jace took this photo of Obi (along with about 73 others as he followed him around the house). We have plenty of shots of his rear end if anyone would like to see those too. I just love this dog. And the kid who took the photo.

9. These doors:

Pinned Image(source)

We’ve been doing little projects to spruce up our home a little, (without spending a ton of money) and I’d really love to paint our front door one of these colors (especially the turquoise). We live in a neighborhood with an Homeowner’s Association though, and I have a feeling most, if not all, of these would be frowned upon.

10. This moment:

We took the kids out of school a little early on Monday and spent a wonderful afternoon at our state fair. I was thrilled when Jace suggested we ride the ferris wheel while Cameron and Erik went on some freaky upside-down spinning ride that (thankfully!) Jace was too short to ride. It was a beautiful day and I loved spending one on one time with him. I was also very excited to discover he wasn’t “too old” to ride the kiddie motorcycle ride that he has ridden since he was a toddler.

Question: What lovely things have been making you happy lately?

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