Home | Garden | Orchard | Cooking | Crafts | Lifestyle | Chickens

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Garden Journal - Winter Sowing

I have read about Winter Sowing at several sites and decided to try it this year. In preparation, we have been saving plastic juice containers to use as mini-greenhouses. Today, I planted 8 types of flower seed:

Columbine: Dragonfly Hybrid Mixture
Black-Eyed Susan
Blanketflower: Gaillardia Aristata
Purple Coneflower: Echinacea
Alyssum: Gold Dust
Dahlia: Unwin's Dwarf, mixed colors
California Poppy: Extra Golden
Sunflower: Autumn Beauty Mixed Colors

We'll see how well the seeds germinate using this method.

Italian Flatbread (or Pizza Crust)

Yesterday, my husband asked for some homemade bread for dipping into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Feeling engergetic at the time, I said that I would make some. Well, things got busy and I forgot to mix the dough with enough time for it to rise and bake.

I made this gorgeous pizza on Monday (with Swiss chard, Italian parsley, and fennel leaf from our garden). I decided to make the same crust without the toppings and viola, homemade bread for my hubby.

This recipe is adapted from everybody likes sandwiches' Pizza Blanco. Like most my recipes, it has been adjusted to be low sodium.

1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon no-sodium Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic bits
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2.5 cups whole wheat flour

1. Put all ingredients into your stand mixer bowl (or regular bowl).
2. Stir until combined and a ball forms
3. Pour out onto a floured surface and gently knead. I only kneaded enough to keep the dough from sticking and to shape it.
4. Grease a baking pan. I used a round pan with spray olive oil.
5. Transfer the shaped dough to the pan (it's okay if it doesn't fit)
6. Using the palm of your hand and fingertips, press the dough around the pan until the bottom is covered. I used a 16 round pan, but a rectangle would work too.
7. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

Serve with oil and vinegar or spread with labne kefir (yogurt) cheese. Yum!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes are not a glamorous food. The presentation isn't all that great, but the taste makes up for it. This recipe is adapted from the scalloped potato recipe in The No-Salt Lowest-Sodium Cookbook we have been using.

8 potatoes (1152 cal, 64 mg)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (22 cal, 2 mg)
4 cloves garlic, minced (16 cal, 4 mg)
2/3 cup half and half (214 cal, 54 mg)
2/3 cup low fat milk (60 cal, 90 mg)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (640 cal, 120 mg)
1 cup diced mixed peppers (46 cal, 6 mg)
2 tablespoons flour (25 cal, 0 mg)
1 tablespoon olive oil (119 cal, 0 mg)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (0 cal, 0 mg)

1. Peel and slice the potatoes very thin.
2. Saute the onion, garlic, and peppers in some olive oil until soft.
3. Add the flour and pepper to the pan and stir. The flour will thicken up the sauce.
4. Pour the half and half and milk into the mixture and stir constantly, until bubbles appear and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
5. Grease a 9x9 or 9x13 casserole dish.
6. Layer half of the potatoes into the casserole and cover with half the sauce.
7. Add the rest of the potatoes and cover with the remaining sauce.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

This recipe has a total of 2294 calories and 340 mg of sodium.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Avocado Bruschetta Sandwich

This open faced sandwich was assembled using the few ingredients we had on hand. It turned out to be really tasty and was fast to make.

1 baguette
2-3 tomatoes
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
2 avocados
balsamic vinegar
black pepper

1. Cut the baguette in half and slice lengthwise to form a open faced sandwich. We used a homemade whole wheat baguette that was leftover from the night before
2. Place a thin layer of cheese on the bread. We used fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced.
3. Sprinkle with italian seasoning and garlic powder (this is a shortcut to rubbing the bread with cloves as with traditional bruschetta).
4. Toast the bread in the oven until the cheese is melted. This took about 5 minutes using the low broiler.
5. Slice the tomatoes and avocados and layer on the toasted bread.
6. Finish the sandwich with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some freshly ground pepper.

This makes enough for two hearty servings.  The photo above was one serving.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keeping a Food Diary - Getting Healthy Part 2

This is part 2 of a series on how I changed my lifestyle to become healthier.  You can read about the background here and part 1 here.

As part of my decision to reach a BMI of 22, I needed to learn more about my caloric intake in order to adjust it properly. I wanted to gradually lose weight to become healthier, not go on a crash diet and starve myself. I did some research about calories and burning calories. Here is what I found:

1. My daily caloric needs were ~1900 calories for my slightly active lifestyle
2. In general, one needs to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat.
3. To lose 1 pound a week, I needed to reduce my caloric intake to ~1400 per day.

Now that I knew what I needed to do, I had to decide which tools I was going to use to track my progress. There are many online food logs/diaries, but I found they were often slow to load and a little cumbersome on the food entry. I wanted a basic log where I could keep track of what I eat, how many calories it has, and what type of exercise I did. I decided to create my own spreadsheet. I paired it with this site to find out how many calories are in various foods.
Once I had my tools, I was diligent about writing down everything I ate and assigning caloric values to each. As the days passed, I found that I would eat the same foods repeatedly. To make it easier to keep track, I kept a short list of the common foods with calories on the side of my log.
This process had an unexpected result. Not only did I keep track to how many calories I consumed, I also learned about portion sizes. I became aware that a small brownie had 250 calories, the same amount as in 1 cup lentil soup. I was gradually making healthier food choices based on the fact that I could eat more low-calorie foods instead of a small amount of high-calorie ones.

As I worked through the month of January, I continued to use the WiiFit to track my progress.  By the end of month, I had reached a BMI of 22.15 and had lost 3.7 more pounds.  I was on track with my plan to lose a pound a week.  I had made progress towards my goal, but wasn't there yet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Garden Journal

Despite the stormy weather today, my husband planted the blueberry plants he received as a Christmas gift.  Our patch has 6 more residents and is quite full.  He also fertilized the citrus trees, as their leaves were yellowing. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gourmet Grilled Cheese

A grilled cheese sandwich is my lunch many days of the week. Last week, I baked some fresh whole wheat bread, so the grilled cheese was exceptionally good. Today's version was impromptu and unexpected. I made some caramelized onions (a la Pastor Ryan) for dinner over the weekend and forgot to serve them.

I decided to put some on my sandwich and wow they made the grilled cheese extra tasty. I think I will have to make some more bread soon so I can make this sandwich with homemade bread.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese
1 slice cheddar cheese *
2 slices bread *
some caramelized onions
spread of Hot Pepper Mustard

Assemble the ingredients and cook in a skillet over low-medium heat.  Be careful not to burn the bread which will happen if the heat is up too high. After one side is toasted, flip and cook the other.  When it is toasted to your liking, slice and enjoy.

* This sandwich is not low sodium due to the cheddar cheese and store bought bread.  The sodium could be lowered by using swiss (or low sodium) cheese and a no-salt bread.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day, Loomis Style

Clouds, rain, and a hint of blue sky.

It's almost as if Mother Nature couldn't quite figure out what to do here in Loomis on Groundhog Day 2010. For better or worse, P. Phil saw his shadow and forecasted another 6 weeks of Winter.

I checked in with the chickens for an informal Groundhog Day forecast.

They didn't see their shadows either.

Apparently, their experience aligned with some other groundhogs around the country. Either way, I am excited that Spring is just around the corner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tangy Guacamole

Hubby made some awesome guacamole tonight. It hit the spot after a hard day's work (which is why there isn't a photo). Here is the simple recipe:

2 avocados (578 cal, 28 mg)
~1/4 cup chopped onion (16 cal, 2 mg)
~4 teaspoons garlic powder (0 cal, 0 mg)
juice of 1 lemon (12 cal, 0 mg) *

Mix all ingredients together until blended and the desired level of creaminess/chunkiness is achieved. Serve with no salt chips of course.

Nutrition info for the entire bowl: 606 calories, 16 mg sodium
* He picked one from our tree.
Related Posts with Thumbnails

_ | _