Eating More Scary Veggies – Romanesco

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At first glance you might think  this was some type of odd undersea creature.   Maybe some type of sedum (succulent garden plant)?   My hubby even said it looked mathematical.   Grant’s take?  Alien ear wax.  Hey, what can I say, he’s a 6 year old boy!  Although I do have to say the vibrant green color does lend to alien thoughts.

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Is it starting to look any more familiar?     What if you took those gorgeous conical spirals and and made them look more like mini trees?   Any ideas yet?

Yep, Romanesco is actually a heirloom variety of one of my favorite veggies – broccoli.  It’s a beauty to look at and one to taste as well.

I really should have taken pictures the day it came in my farm box.   It looked so much prettier.  But I didn’t.   So you get pictures with bumps and bruises after sitting in my veggie drawer for a few days.   It still looks awesomely cool if you ask me!

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Taste wise, I find Romanesco to be a mix between broccoli and cauliflower.    It’s very mild, and the color stays when you cook it.   Sometimes, especially when roasted, it can take on a slightly nutty flavor.

Where do you find such a thing?
I was lucky enough to get mine in my Box of Good  from Klesick’s last week.   Because it is an heirloom vegetable, it’s most likely to be found in the organic produce section.   I’ve seen it in several of the better grocery stores in my area and it’s becoming wildly popular at farmers markets as well.     Look for it at farmers markets when other broccoli hits the stands.    What you find in stores now (and what I had) is coming from California.

How to pick one?
Look for bright vibrant color and lack of blemishes.   If the leaves are still present you want to make sure they are still crisp and not wilted.

How to cook it?
I simply steamed it this time.  You could add it raw to jazz up your crudité platter.   It also works well substituted it in my Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower Recipe.     Here are a couple recipes that are on my list to try:

Smoky Romanesco Cauliflower, Celery Root and Broccoli Soup
Pasta e Broccoli

So what do you think?   Will you give it a try?

Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. 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.

On the Quest for a Better Girl Scout Cookie

It’s that time of year again.    Everywhere you turn there is someone offering you a Thin Mint.

I fondly remember the days when I sold Girl Scout cookies.  Going door to door asking people I’d never met to buy cookies.  My Mum stood at the end of the sidewalk,  smiling and supporting.   I was the always the leading cookie seller in our troop, and I was REALLY, REALLY  proud of that fact.

Times have changed.  A LOT.   I can’t imagine sending Grant, who’s now 6,  door to door to sell anything.   What they ask our kids to sell, at least food wise, isn’t anything I would ever even consider buying at the store myself.   So do I need to buy it to support my kid?   I don’t think so.  Will I still support my kid, or the Girl Scouts?   You bet!

I have no problem just writing a check, or handing the girls selling cookies a $5 bill.    But it does tend to take people by surprise!  I think our PTA president was shocked when I emailed her to ask her how much they would make if Grant had sold 50 tubs of cookie dough (which turned out to be shocking low)  so I could write a check instead.    She gladly let me know AND she got more money out of the deal.

So are you wondering why I won’t even consider eating a Girl Scout cookie these days (aside from the gluten)?  Check out Fooducate’s reviews of what is actually in Girl Scout cookies.    No thank you to hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and potentially GMO ingredients.  I’m sure that they were just as bad back when I sold them.      The difference is, I know better than to eat this stuff now.

That being said, I still want a taste of that nostalgia.  Selling all those cookies also meant I ate A LOT of them.   Thin Mints and Carmel deLights  in particular.     Did anyone else ever eat an entire row of Thin Mints in one sitting or was it just me?

I’ve noticed a slew of recipes popping up by great bloggers I love.   I thought it was time to put them all in one place and start testing them out.

Here are a few I’ve found so far…

GF = Gluten Free , SF = Refined Sugar Free, DF = Dairy Free

Thin MintsGF – from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Thin MintsGF / DF – Silvana’s Kitchen

Thin Mints GF/SF, Paleo – from Elana’s Pantry (added 2/25/13)

Samoas (Carmel deLights) = GF/SF, Paleo – from Elana’s Pantry

Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties)GFfrom Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Do-si-dos (Peanut Butter Sandwiches) – GF – from Easy Eats (subscription required to view)

Lemonades – GF – from Gluten Free on a Shoestring  (added 2/25/13)

and because it just looks SOOO good….

Girl Scout Cookie Lara Bars – GFfrom Chocolate Covered Katie

For those of you that are not GF and want a cookie that contains wheat, do a Pinterest search and there are tons of homemade recipe options for you to try!

And remember…
Cookies are still cookies!  These recipes are real food, NOT health food.   Please eat in moderation! (yes, this as much to myself as it is to you !)

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. 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.

Getting Back on Track… and Cookie Dough Balls

It’s been a while, hasn’t it.   Sorry about that.    WP_000032

The last two months have been filled with craziness, sickness and tears.  I lost my Grandpa just after Christmas.   I haven’t felt like doing much of anything.   I’m off track in so many ways right now.    But, I’m not going to beat myself up over it  (ok I will, but I’m trying really hard not to).   I’ve decided that I’m going to declare February 1st as the start of my New Year!

With my “New Year”  some exciting things happening……

I’m FINALLY going to try Plan to Eat (a meal planning service) and will keep you posted on my thoughts.

I’m taking two FREE classes through Coursera:  An Introduction to US Food System (via John Hopkins) and Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (via UCSF).  I’m sure I’ll have lots of wonderful things to share from both classes.  If you are interested, you can still join either class.

And just because I wasn’t feeling good, doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about great things to write for you.   Coming your way soon….

    • A better way to fight the Crud
    • Beating Motion Sickness
    • Better Pain Management Options
    • How we went Gluten Free
    • Updated resources & a reading list.

Sorry, I’m rambling.    I do that.    I can hear you, you’re saying just give me that recipe already!  Right??  Well, here you go.

Cookie Dough Balls from Chocolate Covered Katie.   She actually calls them Cookie Pops which is a cute idea too.   I call them Cookie Dough Balls because that’s EXACTLY what they taste like.   Nothing’s better that raw chocolate chip cookie dough – except these, because they have no eggs and are safe to eat!    I made them with them with GF oat flour (which you can make by grinding oatmeal in your food processor – just measure after grinding).    They are highly addictive and a HUGE hit in my house!  Enjoy!

I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. 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.

Bake Your Own Bread? Yes You Can!

This is the post I’ve promised!

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I started baking my own bread about 4 years ago.    I needed to get rid of the preservatives in commercial bread and I had noticed that the companies I had trusted for years had begun to use artificial sweeteners (YUCK!).   At the time I was running a “healthy eating club” as part of my local MOMS Club.   One of the members suggested that I try baking my own bread.    I actually laughed out loud at her.   I had NEVER even thought about baking bread myself.    I had all these visuals of  being covered in flour and kneading dough.   I baked, but things like cookies, quick breads and the occasional pie.     Not anything hard – nothing that would take yeast!

She laughed at me and told me it was so easy Grant (who was 2 at the time) could practically do it.   WHAT?   I was really skeptical.   She promised she’d bake bread for our next meeting, I could try it and see if I ever wanted bread out of a package again.

A month later she showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful loaf of artisan wheat bread  – still warm.    It had a hard crust and insides that just melted in my mouth.    It was FABULOUS!    But I was still skeptical.    Could I do this?    Well, yes it turns out that I could and so can you!    The best part of the whole deal?   You can do it all in about 5 minutes of hands on time a day!   No joke.   It really is that easy.

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The secret comes from 2 wonderfully gifted people named Jeff and Zoe.    They have written a series of books based on the fact that you really can make Bread In Five Minutes a Day.     Now we are talking hands on time, that five minutes doesn’t include rise times.  But this is fresh, beautiful, DELICIOUS bread that you can make AND accomplish your to-do list too!   The one I use most frequently is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Here’s the gist of it.    You make up a batch of dough which will take you about 5 minutes.   You let it rise for 2-3 hours (depending on the recipe).    You put it in the fridge and pull out and use when you want bread (or pizza crust, buns, breadsticks)  within the next 2 weeks.   It takes about 3-5 minutes of hands on time to form a loaf and then you let it rise and bake it.    It’s super easy and extremely versatile.  Not to mention good for the budget!   Heck,  these guys even went so far to figure out how to cook bread in your crockpot so you didn’t have to turn on the oven in the summer!

So are you ready to try?

Artisan Bread in Five’s Basic Recipe

Artisan Bread in Five’s Whole Wheat Brioche Recipe  (which is to die for!)

Here’s the process in pictures:

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This plus some water is all it takes!

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Measure and mix.   It’s a good work out for your arms.   Sometimes I will use my hnds to get the last bits of flour worked in.

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The mixed dough will still be pretty wet.   That’s OK!

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This stuff really grows!

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The risen dough will become flat on the top.

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Form  your loaves.   You can make them as big or as small as you want!  And let them rise again!

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Risen loaves, washed, scored and ready for the oven.

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And 30 minutes later you have this!   YUM!

The recipe that I baked today is  “100% Whole Wheat , Plain and Simple”  from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I was lucky enough to get to take a class with Jeff before we moved from the Twin Cities.    This was just before the release of their third book Artisan Pizza and Flat Bread in Five Minutes a Day.     It was a wonderful class and the breads of course were divine.      Type A me learned a great lesson from him to!

A Lesson from Jeff – It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I was working hard to make everything look like it came from the grocery store.    Make the pizza crust perfectly round.    Shape the loaf of bread just so.     Jeff reminded me that people are much more concerned with how the food tastes than how it looks (with in reason).     Does anyone in my house care that their pizza looks more like an amoeboid than a circle?    Not at all – I actually score more points with my kiddo when they look weirder!   Same goes for the breads.   So what if no two loaves look the same.    It’s ARTISAN baking, therefore take each loaf as it’s own piece of art!

A couple of notes:
Don’t feel like you have to go buy a lot of equipment to do this.   Any big covered tub (I started with a Rubbermaid) will work just fine.    I still don’t own a bread wisk.    A baking stone is essential if you want the hard artisan crust, but if you don’t have one just use a cookie sheet.   Your crust won’t be quite as hard but the bread will still be great.    Until you have a stone, the peel doesn’t matter.   If you have a stone but no peel,  just use a cookie sheet!

 

So what are you waiting for – go bake some bread already!

 

© 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.

Persimmons & Pomegranate – Oh My!

You probably remember that when I challenged you to “eat something scary” that  I had persimmons ripening on my counter and was a little scared of them.    I’m a bit behind in reporting back and got a gentle nudge (thanks Michelle) to give you my thoughts.

Let me tell you – there is NOTHING about these little beauties to be afraid of!

My friend, Jeannie, told me just to let them ripen to a bright orange, then peel and eat.  That’s exactly what I did.

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These are beautiful, sweet fruit and not at all what I expected.    I guess because it sort of looked like a tomato, I expected the internal structure to be more like one too.   Nope!    The texture is more like  a plum (but no pit).   And my oh, my are they juicy!

The next day I was visiting my favorite grocery store, Central Market, and what caught my eye?  The latest issue of Edible Seattle with a persimmon on the cover!

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I try desperately not to buy magazines any more because I rarely get them read, and I have a small (ok – huge) issue when it comes to send food magazines to the recycling bin.    There might be a recipe I need…..

This article brought me up to speed on the persimmon.   The fruit’s tree  is native to Japan, but has become popular in the pacific northwest.     Hmm, I could grown one in my backyard (I can hear my hubby groaning).   They are several  varieties – Fuyu (what I had) and Hachiya  being the most popular in the US.    Most are seedless but not all.

Fun note:   Although not there yet, it seems most back issues of edible Seattle  are available online.
www.edibleseattle.com

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When I got both persimmons and pomegranate in last week’s farm box, I had a feeling it might be a yummy combo.   Don’t you just love it when you’re right?  I do, and I certainly was this time.   The tangy bitterness of the pomegranate plays wonderfully off the sweetness of the persimmon.

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And can you say GEORGEOUS?  I love food as pretty as it is tasty.   This goes on my must have list.
No more fear of persimmons!

© 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.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

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It’s hard not to like this simple dish.    It’s even won over a few cauliflower “haters” I know.   It works just as well for a weeknight dinner as it will Thanksgiving and is easy to double or triple the recipe.   I can’t tell you how well it reheats, there’s never been any left to find out.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower – chopped into 1 to 1.5 inch florets
Olive Oil (for coating – 1 or 2 tbsps)
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   In a 8×8 glass Pyrex dish toss the cauliflower and the olive oil.   Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.    Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.    Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast for an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted but not crunchy.   Serve warm.

© 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.

Challenge #4 – Cleaning Up Thanksgiving Dinner

A lot will be different for us this Thanksgiving.    It’s the first time we’ve had to fly instead of drive.   It’s our first year with Grant & I being gluten-free.    And, it’s the first year I’ve really pushed to clean up the Thanksgiving menu.    It’s a lot – and honestly it’s feeling that way.

scan0001It’s hard dealing with food allergies and different ways of eating when you travel, let alone over the holidays.    It’s takes research, organization and planning.

I had a sense of dread about even mentioning changing up my contribution  (veggies) to the Thanksgiving meal.    I’ve done Thanksgiving just about every year since I’ve been married with my husband’s family.    My first Thanksgiving with them I made Green Bean Casserole (the one with cream of mushroom soup and durkee onions) and Broccoli Casserole ( broccoli topped with velveeta, butter and ritz crackers) and have every year since.    It’s what I ate every Thanksgiving growing up.    Last year I made it a little better by moving to organic soup and crackers, but I knew it wasn’t the best option.

This year I knew I couldn’t do it.    It’s food that I know I can’t eat.  My body won’t tolerate all the additives and preservatives.    Both dishes also contain gluten, another no-no.    But it had become tradition, and I wasn’t sure if change would be embraced.

I started with an email to my mother-in-law asking about why we never had sweet potatoes and mentioned that I was thinking of changing up the veggies.     The sense of relief that I felt when she wrote back “I think it would be great to change it up” was enormous.  We’re still working back and forth to finalize some details, but here’s what it looks like we’ll be having:

  • Roasted Cauliflower w/parmesan cheese
  • Italian Style Roasted Zucchini (because Grant LOVES it)
  • Butternut Squash
  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • Wild Rice, Fruit & Pecan Stuffing

(I’ll be posting  recipes yet this week)

I was also pleasantly surprised when I got an email from my mother-in-law saying that after reading my Facebook post (Food Babe: Toxins vs. Tradition – if you didn’t read it you need to! ) she went and sourced a local turkey!     Woo – Hoo!

Sometimes to make the change, all you have to do is be brave enough to propose it.

So I ask you, even it’s it’s one little thing, how can you make your Thanksgiving a little “cleaner” this year?   I’ll look forward to knowing your plans.

© 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.