Food Crush Friday: Pom + Coconut

Aaaaand we’re back! This week’s food crush is a beverage. I first read about the wonder elixir that is Pom + Coconut in Women’s Health and was immediately intrigued. I’m not crazy about straight pomegranate juice nor straight coconut water, but this? This sounded intriguing. WH touted the great benefits of drinking this after a workout. An honorable thought, but one that I ignored. (I already have a post workout routine. And if you know me, you know it takes a lot to change my routines.) But, I figured if it’s good after a workout, it’s good after a night out! And I was right. You’re welcome. Neither too sweet nor too tart, this drink is Goldilocks, which is to say it’s just right. Move over Gatorade.

Pom_w

Basically, this beverage is perfect for any occasion.

Food Crush Friday

It’s Food Crush Friday! Kind of like Man Crush Monday, but on Friday, and with food.

I am always on the prowl for a great snack to satisfy my mid-morning munchies. Once I find something I like, I fall hard and go all in eating the same thing for a few weeks until I eventually get sick of it. So I hop from food crush to food crush.

For the past few weeks that crush has been KIND bars.

Why I love them: The perfectly sized bars are satisfying and keep me from busting into my lunch at 10 a.m. The short and sweet ingredient list—things I recognize and can pronounce!

Below, my favorite three kinds. (Get it?) You can go ahead skip over the fact that two are covered in chocolate.

KINDbars

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

There’s just something comforting about devouring a warm, cheesy casserole from the oven. What’s even better is when you know it’s a slightly healthier alternative to the original.

I first spotted this recipe for a broccoli quinoa casserole on Pinterest and knew I wanted to try it. Swapping out rice for protein-packed quinoa? Genius. I made it as is the first time around and it was delicious. When I  decided to add some embellishments the second time, it was still just as delicious.

The original recipe called for 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, but I used plain Greek yogurt instead. Can’t taste a difference. I also used almond milk instead of cow’s milk because that’s all I had in the fridge. Again, no difference. The recipe calls for a can of condensed cream of broccoli or cream of mushroom soup, but I found a roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup that I prefer. (I might even toss in some minced garlic to the casserole next time for added flavor.) The original called for 2 cups cooked broccoli, but I just bought a large head of broccoli and chopped it up and cooked it. Surely a little extra broccoli can’t hurt. 🙂 Finally, I added a can of sliced water chestnuts and about 2 cups of fresh spinach.

The Food: Broccoli, Quinoa

Ingredients:

One 10 oz can condensed cream of mushroom/broccoli/roasted garlic & mushroom soup

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)

1 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack, but you could use whatever you prefer)

1/2 teaspoon sugar (or sugar substitue)

1/4 teaspoon(ish) black pepper

Dash nutmeg

2 cups (approximately) cooked broccoli

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 cups fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups  cooked quinoa

Grated Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:
To cook quinoa, combine  3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water and a dash of salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover for about 20 minutes or until quinoa tails show. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, place chopped broccoli in a steamer and cook 8-10 minutes until tender.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine soup, yogurt, cheese and milk. Add sugar, pepper and nutmeg. Then add spinach and water chestnuts, broccoli and quinoa. Mix well.

Pour mixture into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Grate a little Parmesan cheese on top, and if you want, add some breadcrumbs for a little crunch. Bake for 35-40 minutes and enjoy!

The Fare: Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

casserole(c)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Image

Remember that book I wrote about in my last post, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? I finished it and now feel compelled to share. (The sign of any good thought-provoking piece.)

Contrary to my brother’s belief, the book was not about a brain-dead cow but rather Barbara Kingsolver’s family’s year of local eating. Let me tell you, it was a COOL book. Cool, because Kingsolver and family frequently made their own fresh mozzarella and yogurt – in their own kitchen. Cool, because her husband, Steven L. Hopp, made fresh bread from scratch almost every day. Cool, because they raised their own heritage breeds of turkeys and chickens for consumption, reproduction and eggs. Cool, because they grew so many varieties of tomatoes that they were able to freeze them, dry them, and make and can tomato sauces, salsas and chutneys. Of course, it was also cool that most of their food either came from their own garden or from friends at the farmer’s market, and it was all grown/raised in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Growing up in a home with a small (but always growing) garden, I know what fun it is to pick ripe cucumbers from the vine and immediately serve them sliced and seasoned for an appetizer. I know the happy, proud feeling that comes from cooking and eating something fresh and delicious from your own backyard. I also am familiar with the delightful predicament of having more tomatoes and zucchini than you know what to do with.

All I could think about as I read was the endless possibilities for expanding the way my family and I utilize the “fruits” of our my parents’ labor. In my own little rented apartment kitchen, I lack the proper utensils (and confidence) for canning and making soft cheeses, but after reading this book I am feeling inspired to make more frequent visits to the farmer’s market and get creative with the bounty of the season. I hope these choices will not only speak about my preference for good, clean, fresh food, but will also help support sustainable agricultural practices and local farmers, all the while minimizing my ecological footprint. A small change can start with one person, right? Something to consider.

Food for Thought

News flash: I love my family, my friends and my dog more than just about everything else in this life. After that I’m mostly passionate about food. Not in the sense that I like to sit and cram the tastiest foodstuffs on earth into my mouth (although you can’t argue the fun in that), but in the sense that I want to know everything there is about food and the food industry: planting, harvesting, buying, cooking, sharing, eating – all of it.

In the continued effort to remedy my writer’s block/boredom, I bought some new books on the topic I’m most passionate about. The one I’m currently reading is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It chronicles her family’s journey of attempting to eat locally for a year. I’m only a few chapters in, but last night I experienced a familiar gut-wrenching sensation as I read. The last time I had that feeling was in January when I started reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”… halfway through part one I felt my heart sink and I sat in bed and cried. (Dramatic? Perhaps. But it had made me sad.)

I had been reading about a third generation farmer in Iowa, (my native state) whose grandfather used to feed both his family and his livestock through what was grown on the farm. As time went on and corn became the only real moneymaker, other bits of the farm fell by the wayside and consequently so did that way of life. This third generation farmer and his wife are no longer able to sustain themselves with what comes from their farm. You just can’t live on corn, no matter how many different chemical byproducts we can make out of it. In addition to this farmer’s story, I was saddened to read about the cows that once grazed freely on grassy pastures now being fattened with corn (which they are not genetically predisposed to digest) and confined in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and responsibility – sadness for a man who had seen an entirely sustainable way of life disappear from his family farm and for the animals living and eating in a way they were never meant to. I felt a responsibility to do something about it. And then I cried. It’s what I do.

So there I was, reading in bed last night, struck by a similar feeling of overwhelming sadness and responsibility. It occurred to me that not everyone is even remotely aware of the impact their food decisions can have on farmers, animals, the economy and the environment. It was only recently that I really understood the immense power we have when it comes to making decisions about food. I know I can’t fix the problem myself and I know I’ll never be able to convince everyone to think along the same lines, but I do think I can start by telling people what I know.

I recognize that there’s always another side to things. I also recognize that I’m an animal lover and sensitive to animal issues. And while eating meat isn’t my thing right now, I don’t have a problem with anyone else consuming it. I’m definitely no expert on these issues but I’m reading what I can in an attempt to learn about it. (My next read is about why we eat animals.)

Humor me for a minute though, and imagine a world where the environment is cleaner. The animals we eat are happier and healthier and consequently so are we. On top of that, starvation is practically nonexistent. Maybe there are fewer problems in the world because we’re all just so darn happy (okay maybe a stretch, but we’re imagining here.) Call me crazy but I think we can make that happen, and it all starts with something as fundamental as the food that goes on our plates and in our bodies.

Eat responsibly.

P.S. For a visual, watch this commercial (courtesy of Chipotle). It may be one of the most thoughtful I’ve ever seen. And just try not to smile at the cute, happy pig at the end.

Thanksgiving Break in Photos – Day 2

I’m never really home until I’ve gotten my hands messy in the kitchen. After today, I am most definitely home.

This morning, I made crepes for the three of us.

I couldn’t just make a whole bunch of plain crepes. I had to get a little crafty. So I stuffed a few with a greek yogurt/honey mixture, blueberries and raspberries. A little tangy, but still pretty tasty.

Cousins + grandparents coming over for dinner = I am in charge of dessert. I made brownies.

Finally, we made some chex mix, for pre-dinner noshing and for travel snacking later on this week.

It’s good to be back.