Challenge #2 – Pour One Out Today

Put down the soda, juice, sports drink or even the (gasp) mocha .    We are consuming way to many liquid calories as a nation.

I gave up soda over 3 years ago and don’t miss it now.   But it did take time.   Today, see if you can go without any type of sweetened beverage.    I don’t care what it’s sweetened with (I’ll rant on artificial sweeteners another day).   For today, watch this video and then pour one out.

And think about if you could keep the challenge again tomorrow.

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Kale & Sausage Quinoa Salad–Recipe Review

Two years ago I would have passed this recipe by.   It would have scared me.    Back then, I had never had quinoa.     I would gladly pass off the kale in my CSA box to my friend, Jeannie, who couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

Times have changed.

Quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients these days.     It’s a wonderful protein filled, gluten free grain!    I’ve used it in place of rice in numerous recipes with great success.   I’ve heard complaints that people can’t get their kids to eat it, but Grant LOVES it.

Kale is slowly becoming my friend.     It’s taken time.    I started with kale chips and it probably took 6 batches before I really started to like them.   Now, I eat ‘em like potato chips.    Kale’s worked it’s way into my smoothies and has started making main course appearances.

Last week I found this recipe posted on one of my favorite blogs – Queen of Quinoa.

Here is Alyssa’s, Queen of Qunioa,  much prettier picture:

Picture used with permission from Queen of Quinoa

I knew I had kale coming in my farm box and this just looked warm and inviting.  What the heck, I’d give it a whirl.   And the results?

YUM!!!!!

This recipe not only won me over, but also my hubby, Glenn.    We both found it scrumptious and incredibly filling.     It was also a quick and easy fix, which is always a plus.   Glenn took leftovers for work the next day and said it reheated wonderfully.    I’m going try making it into a DIY frozen meal and will let you know how it turns out.

Grant, who is 5, would have nothing to do with this salad.   This is no surprise as he doesn’t like anything with combined ingredients.    He happily had a big bowl of plain quinoa and a green salad for dinner.

Get the Queen of Quinoa’s Kale & Sausage Quinoa Salad Recipe Here!

Notes on my ingredients / preparation:

  • I used Trader Joe’s Organic Multi Color Quinoa (because it’s what I had) in place of the rainbow quinoa called for.
  • Iserno’s Sausage is a favorite in our house.   I used their Italian Chicken Sausage (gluten & nitrate free)  which I had precooked and in the freezer.
  • I probably used 3-4 tomatoes  instead of the called for 2.   I had heirlooms I needed to use up, so I threw them in (is there ever such a thing as too many tomatoes?)
  • I just gave the kale a quick chop instead of the thin slice called for.    Take the time, do the thin slice.

Eating healthy often takes stepping out of our comfort zones.    This is one step out that we will be repeating often!   Thanks to the Queen of Quinoa for a great recipe!

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gluten Free Focaccia Breadsticks

Since we found out that my son, Grant,  was gluten sensitive, bread has become a big issue in our house.    Grant LOVES bread.   Even before his diagnosis, I had been baking all of my own breads.    I was having issues with all of the preservatives in bread.   My body DID NOT LIKE THEM.    I’d eat a piece of bread for lunch – I’d feel like I’d been hit by a truck all afternoon.   In retrospect,  this was probably a gluten and preservative issue.  But have you looked at your bread label lately?   If not,  go do so!   Do you know what everything in there is?   I’ll have a post coming soon on wonderful breads (regular & GF) that you can make your self at home – simply! (I already hear your skepticism – but really you can!)

For now, here’s a yummy for you….

This recipe is super easy because it uses Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix as a  flour base so you don’t have to pull out 5 different kinds of flours.   For those of you that don’t eat Gluten Free (GF) – this is still a great 100% whole grain option that passed that test with dinner guests who didn’t know it wasn’t made with wheat!

Gluten Free Focaccia Breadsticks

1 Bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF Pizza Crust Mix  (see purchasing notes at bottom)

1.5 cups  Warm Water

2 Eggs (or 2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed +6 Tbsp water for egg free option – let sit for 5 minutes before using)

4 to 6 Tbsp Olive Oil – Divided

2 Palms full / about 3 Tbsp Dried Thyme (you can use fresh and reduce the amount by about half – just didn’t have any when the idea struck!)

GF Cornmeal or GF Flour for pan

Sea Salt to top

Parchment Paper

Get out your stand mixer.    Empty the yeast packet (included with the mix) into the bowl and add 1.5 cups of warm water.   Let sit for about 5 minutes to let the yeast activate.   After the 5 minutes is up, add in your eggs (or replacement) and 2 tbsp olive oil.  Mix until blended on low speed.  Still on low speed, add in about half the flour mix, add the Thyme and then the rest of the mix.  Blend on low until all flour is taken into the dough then mix on medium high for about a minute.

Now comes the messy part.   If you’re an experienced GF baker – you know to expect sticky dough – and this fits the bill.    For those of you that aren’t used to working with GF  dough, now is the time to roll up your sleeves, take off your rings and get your hands doughy.    I’ve found the easiest way to work with this dough is with wet hands.   Any spoon or spatula you use just makes a mess.

Wet those hands and use them to scrape the mixer blade of the dough and then divide the dough into to two sections.   (If the dough is sticking to your hands – go get them wet again!)

Cover (go eco and use a stainless bowl instead of plastic wrap) and give it a good 30 minutes to rise in a warm location.   I like to preheat my oven to 425 degrees and place the bowl by the vent.   Your oven will get good and hot and it will help the rise.   That said – don’t expect a big rise out of this – you won’t get it and that’s OK!

While your dough is rising, pull out your baking sheet, parchment paper, cornmeal (or flour) and sea salt.    Line your pan with the parchment and give it a good coating of cornmeal  (think of the amount used for rolling out a pie crust).

Note:  the mix makes enough for 2 batches.   You can refrigerate the 2nd portion and use within the next 3 days.  If you want to make it all at once, I’d do it in 2 bakings to avoid mushy centers.

When your timer dings – go wet your hands again, pull a section of dough from the bowl, and place it in the middle of the parchment .   (At this point you will be spreading the dough – if your sink is more than a step away from the pan – you’ll probably want a small bowl of water to dip your hands in to keep them wet. )   With wet hands work the dough into a rectangle, re-wetting hands as needed.   You want your dough to be about 1/2 inch thick.    Don’t worry about making it too pretty.   Rough edges = Artisan!

After you dough is spread take a serrated knife and cut it into about 12 – 14 pieces.   I cut across the middle and then divide according to what looks right.  (Don’t worry if they close back in on each other a little bit – they’ll still break apart after baking.)  Brush with olive oil until nicely coated but not dripping.   Sprinkle with Sea Salt.

Bake for 18-24 minutes on center rack of oven.   Check after about 15 minutes for browning.   You want a nice crispy crust – medium browned.    Edges should be slightly hard to the touch on tapping.

Cool enough to handle, then break apart and enjoy!   Best when still warm – they didn’t last long in our house!

Another option you can try is to spread in a jelly roll pan (dough about 1/8″), top as noted above and bake for 14-19 minutes.   This comes out more like a flat bread/cracker – but still very yummy.

I plan to play with different herb combinations with this.   I will keep you posted on what I find that I like.   If you try something and it turns out yummy, please let me know!

*Purchasing Notes:   Bob’s Red Mill products can be found in the health food sections of most traditional grocery stores. I tend to buy mine online (and in bulk) from Vitacost or Amazon because the pricing is so much better.

 

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What’s all the buzz about GMOs?

With the election quickly approaching the buzz about GMO is increasing by the day.    Prop 37 in California could make a revolutionary change in our food.  But do you even know what a GMO is?   I’m finding that a lot of people don’t.   And I’m talking about REALLY smart people.

So what is a GMO?

A GMO is a genetically modified organism.   GMOs are made by combining or “splicing” the DNA of two unrelated organisms together.     No, I’m not talking about cross pollination to create a new variety of apple.   What I’m talking about is taking the DNA from a fish and inserting into the DNA of a tomato to make it more cold resistant.   No, I’m not kidding.

Now that tomato didn’t stay around long.  It had other issues that caused it to be pulled of the market (it didn’t hold up under shipping).    But this same technique is constantly used to build herbicides and pesticides into our food.   Yep, there’s corn out there that has bug killer built in.    (insert collective EWWW!)

Here are a couple great sites with in-depth explanations of GMOs:

NON GMO Project
CA Right to Know

Crops with the highest levels of GMOs include corn, soy, canola and sugar beets.   It’s estimated that up to 80% of conventionally processed food (anything in a package)  contains GMOs.      Are GMOs safe?    The jury’s still out and there’s lots of debate on both sides.    In the meantime I don’t want to be a lab rat  and I sure don’t want my kid being one.

Prop 37 isn’t about banning GMOs.  It’s about labeling them.   It’s about giving us the right to know what is in our food.   This is a right that a majority of the world has,  even Russia and China, but not here in the US.   Here’s the map of countries requiring GMO labeling.

What’s really crazy to me is how much money big food manufacturers and the grocery industry are spending to not let us know what is in our food.   It’s averaging over a million a day.     Want to see  who’s playing on each side?  Check this out chart from The Cornucopia Institute.   I’m shocked and disappointed at who is fighting against our right to know.    It WILL affect my buying habits.

What can we do to avoid GMO’s?
The NON GMO Project has launched the NON GMO Verified campaign.     They have worked with producers to certify that GMOs do not exist in these products.

You can look for this label when you shop and search for verified products on their website.

When looking at fresh produce – avoid anything with a 5 digit code starting with a 8 on the label (note: 5 digit codes that start with (9 signify organic).   Since it’s not required – the standard 4 digit produce code could still contain GMOs.
gmo-code

Buy organic from those you trust (like your local farmers!).    The National Organics Program  (NOP) standards state that “Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”  However,  the NOP does not test to verify products do not contain GMOs before certifying them organic.

It’s all complicated – something food shouldn’t be.    You’ll continue to hear more from me on the topic.   Until then,  I leave you with resources to dive in further if you choose.

RESOURCES

SOURCES

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blueberry Bliss French Toast

DSC_4179

Doesn’t this sound fancy?  Well, it couldn’t be more simple.

Simple is what I needed yesterday morning.     I had gone to bed early  (ok, fell asleep on the couch) and was the first one up.    Reveling in the glory of a quiet house, I snuck downstairs,  fixed a pot of coffee and fed the dog (there’s no peace until you do).

Before the coffee was done brewing my sleepy eye 5-year old, Grant, rambled into the kitchen and proclaimed he wanted cartoons.    With a deep sigh, I sent him back upstairs to find his Dad.   Oh how I had longed for a quiet morning to sit and read in the seldom seen Pacific Northwest sun.

Well, I got it.   Grant went back upstairs, crawled into bed with his dad and they both slept for 2 more hours.  BLISS!

I sat in the sun, sipped my coffee, crunched on a crisp apple and finished reading a novel.     The end of a book always brings a great sense of satisfaction for me.   I love when I have a few minutes to sit and contemplate.

This morning though, I wasn’t thinking about the book.    I was thinking about how good it felt to have 2 hours of interrupted time to myself and ALLOWING myself to do what I wanted to do.    It’s all too often that I let my to-do list dictate what I do with my  kid-free time.    Sound familiar?

I told you I’d give you a challenge each week.   Here’s the first one:

CHALLENGE 1:   Take an hour this week to do whatever it is that brings you bliss.   (or get REALLY crazy and take an hour a day)

It’s guaranteed  to make you smile.  Smiles = healthy!

And in honor of this, Grant got one of his favorite Sunday breakfasts.   French Toast.

Blueberry Bliss French Toast

It’s easiest to start the syrup first and let it cook down while you make your French Toast

for the French Toast
6 pieces 100% whole grain bread (gluten free works too!)
4 eggs (preferably organic, free range)
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Butter for pan

In a low, flat dish (like a small glass casserole) crack your eggs, whisk them up, then wisk in the cinnamon.  DSC_4164 Soak your bread in the egg mix until it soaks up the egg mixture, flip and duplicate for other side of bread.  You want your bread soaked through, but not soggy.   (How long this takes depends on the variety and freshness of the bread.)   Preheat your griddle.  Once hot, give it a quick once over with a stick of butter.    Cook each piece of toast 1-2 minutes a side until nicely browned.  Top with Blueberry sauce.

for Blueberry Syrup (start before French toast)
2 cups frozen blueberries (preferably organic)
2 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup (preferably organic, should read 100% Pure on the label)

Place frozen blueberries and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat.    Bring to a boil.

DSC_4166

Reduce heat and simmer until French Toast is done. Spoon over French Toast and ENJOY!DSC_4183

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Weekly Review – October 19, 2012

I just came up with an idea and I’m running with it.   I follow lots of different publications with great articles I want to share with you.    If I wrote a post about each one…. well, I’d never get them all done.   Facebook is great, but it’s easy to miss something with their screwy feeds.   And there are those of you not on Facebook.  So, I think I’ll start compiling and send you a list of the best reads each week.   It’ll be a short list this week – next week I’ll compile as I read.  What do you think?

Must Watch/ Read of the Week!

Dr Oz Talks GMOs   and then read this article from Food Babe.com – GMO News of the Week

Right to Know Campaign PSA on GMOs

More Great Reads

Vote for the Dinner Party – Michael Pollan – New York Times

Being Polite vs Honoring Your Values – 100 Days of Real Food repost for Halloween (great discussion on this too)

5 Myths about Kids and Food – Fooducate Blog

Type 3 Diabetes? Insulin and Alzheimer’s  – EWG’s  Enviro Blog

Companies Commit to Making Healthier Kids Cereals Overseas…. Just Not Here  – Take Part

The “Dear Mom” Letter Series – Finding Joy

Resources

Fooducate Provides GMO Info on Over 200,000 products (along with other great info)

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign….

I believe in signs.    I think they are the universe’s way of telling you what you are supposed to do.     You just have to pay attention to them, get rid of the fear (OMG, I’m going to do what?) and just do it.

The signs have been pointing me to Food is a Journey (I’ll get to what it’s all about in a minute – bear with me).    And now that I look back – I haven’t paid attention to a lot of them.   Recently though, they seem to be smacking me upside the head.

I’m a stay at home mom to Grant, who is five.  When he entered Kindergarten this fall it prompted a gazillion “what are you going to do with all your time?” questions.   First let me clarify, I’ve gained a whopping 5 hours a week over the preschool schedule.  But it was enough to make me start thinking it might be time to starting focusing on something outside of Momma Land.

I knew whatever my next step was – it would involve food in some way.   You see, I LOVE to cook and am rather passionate (or maybe even obsessive) about food.   My family knows it (and some of them think I’m weird), my friends know it (and they KNOW I’m weird), and most of all, Grant knows it.    What I didn’t realize is that my reach was already going a little further.

I was talking to my friend the other day and she relayed a conversation she and her 5 year old daughter had at the grocery store.    My friend was picking up KIND Bars (which I LOVE) and her daughter raised an eyebrow and asked, “Did Alicia tell you to buy that?”  After having a good laugh, my friend had to know what in the 5 year old mind had prompted the question and asked, “Yes, she did.  Why do you ask?”  The reply was “She’s always talking about good food and what’s healthy and what’s not.”   Wow, ok I guess I do talk a lot about food!  Whack – another sign.

I had played around in my mind the idea of doing a blog  – but I wasn’t sure where to start or if I really wanted to do it.  Then the universe smacked me in the head again.   I was surfing through all the latest posts on Facebook when I saw one of my favorite food blogs was looking for a PT assistant to help with emails and Pinterest.  I got really excited.   After getting Grant on the bus, I spent close to an hour pouring my heart into why I loved food and why she should hire me into a web form.    Then my computer hiccuped and I lost it all.    After a few choice expletives that sent the dog running outside, I took a minute to think.   Is what I really want to be doing is monitoring someone else’s message?  What about the one I have?   After a phone call with a dear friend who told me “do you really think that would be the best use of your talents?” I knew what I had to do.   I had to start Food is a Journey.

Then Grant picked The Lorax for movie night and this quote drove it all home.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, 
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  
                                                                  Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Now that I’ve got all that out, I’ll get to the premise of what I hope to accomplish through Food is a Journey.

You see, I REALLY believe that food is a journey.    Just like life.    Our stories can be told as much so, and sometimes more by what we put on our tables.   Everyone has different likes and dislikes based on their personal tastes, heritage and upbringing.   We all have varying levels of cooking skills and food/nutritional knowledge.    I realize and respect that.    I’m also a huge believer in the fact that knowledge is power – especially, when it comes to food.

Through a series of medical issues (which you’ll hear more about later), I have found that what I put in my body has a SIGNIFIGANT impact on my health.   The doctors have come to classify me as a “sensitive.”  Basically this means that my body tends to rebel if anything artificial is put into it.   Unfortunately it took three miserable years, lots of tests, two misdiagnosises and finally a trip to Mayo Clinic to figure this out.

During my three year struggle, I knew there had to be better answers than the ones I was getting.   Now I’m not saying I was smarter than the doctors but at the core of my being I knew the answers I was getting weren’t the right ones.   So I started researching and have pretty much never stopped.    I would love to be able to tell you that my household is on a 100% organic, GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) free, real food diet.   That’s my goal, where we are headed, but our journey hasn’t brought us that far yet.

Through Food is a Journey I will share with you what I know and what I learn every day.   My Mum keeps saying, “I’d never know this stuff if you didn’t tell me” or “I never try something new until you push me.”   Well Mum, this is for you and all the other people I love (and those of you I don’t know yet) who I know want to make changes but think it’ll be to hard or simply don’t know where to start.   I’ll share recipes and insights, propose challenges, and hopefully get you “out of the package”.

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.