Breakfast: Kickstarting my brain with grain

Hmmm, seems I'm talking about tasty stuff a lot these days, let's keep the trend going! I'm not doing a great job with the detox, but the beauty of this one is how forgiving it is. I feel like I can keep going and do the food aspect of it to create healthy habits and redirect my taste buds. Afterward, I can go back and integrate the yoga. In the meantime, I'm trying to remember to do all of it, just not beating myself up if I don't remember/can't find the time to do the morning routine of meditation and yoga.

Sorry for the pitiful picture...all I had on-hand was my cell phone.

This is pretty much what breakfast has looked like for the past week: baked apple quinoa (keen-wah) with a liver-cleansing beverage. Last week I started each day with a lemon drink that I grew pretty fond of: Juice from half a lemon, dash of cayenne, 2 ounces apple cider vinegar and a spoon of honey in 8 ounces of warm water. This week I'm supposed to replace the lemon drink with a detoxifying tea, but I had my lemon drink this morning anyway.  I don't know if it's that my tastes are changing, but I really enjoy starting my day with it!

I've used quinoa a handful of times in the past, but always as something of a rice substitution. Because it's protein-packed and full of fiber, it makes a perfect morning meal. I first tried this version which called for chopped apples, a few other ingredients, and dry grain all mixed together and baked.  It was good, but for texture's sake with the next batch I decided to partially cook the grains before mixing them up and baking them. I went with Gabby's Gluten Free Cinnamon Breakfast Bake, but instead of soy milk used apple sauce, didn't use quite as much maple syrup, and threw in a handful of chopped dates.

Using the whole hog, I mean hen

I wasn't raised in a particularly food-centric household, and in my late teens to late twenties was a vegan. This meant I didn't really know how to cook much besides dry pasta. I could heat up a can of beans or cook a mean tofu patty, but when I became a meat eater again I left all meat cooking up to Charlie. He knew his way around an iron skillet, mentally stores and adeptly cooks his dad's recipe for a burger with perfection every time.

When I was finally ready to "honor" the animal through cooking it, well, I had to learn from the very beginning.  I also keep my internet ears open to new ways to use up the whole animal, at least as much as I know how. If you're in a similar boat, I've listed a few of my favorite go-to recipes below.

My own drawing of Ally, our mean black hen

I use these recipes nearly weekly:
How to roast a chicken (Martha Stewart)
How to cook a chicken breast (The Kitchn)

Bone broth: My approach is different than others I see online, I'm not sure how I came up with the process, since I use the internet as a cookbook.
Roast the skin, bones, drippings, fat in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes, stir/flip everything as best you can and roast 30 minutes more.
In a slow cooker/crock pot, cover the bones, etc. with water, add 2 bay leaves and a handful of thyme. Simmer for 12 hours. After you strain out the solids, you will have a richly flavored, unsalted broth.

Floursack tea towels from Girls Can Tell

Keep it going perpetually if you want, like Nourished Kitchen does. I generally use it for a giant batch of soup and toss (or bokashi) the bones.

I most often use homemade broth for chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings. Sometimes I'll use it in place of water to cook rice or barley, which is fantastic.

For chicken noodle soup I loosely follow the directions my sister in law gave me: 
Boil some kind of chicken with bones in. Today I used chicken thighs but I usually do a whole cut up chicken. Remove chicken to cool and pull off the bone. Put chopped onions, carrots and celery in broth cook until just done, add meat back in ( no skin, : p ) add salt and pepper to taste. I scoop out a cup or two of it and puree it and put it back in. Then I make a roux ( 3 or 4 tblspn butter same amount of flour, melt and add some stock, then pour it all back in the pot. It gives it some thickness which we like. Then just add noodles or rice, (I use the Amish egg noodles, they are yummy) when they're done YOU EAT!
Mabel will drink the broth and call it a meal.  If we have extra broth left over, the dogs get it with their dry food. After all, they deserve a nutritional boost, too!

Monday Musings

A plaque I commissioned from Melissa Bridgman. As soon as the porch is finished it will find its permanent home. In the meantime, I love seeing it in our kitchen window.

Long Tom paste tomatoes (pencil for scale): Delicious, giant, and virtually seedless. I'm in love with these tomatoes, the plants are dripping with tomatoes. The harvest (below) is one day's harvest from 3 plants. I have to pick them just slightly earlier than ripe or the rabbits will taste every single one.

Temptation and a Coconut Averted

A mid week vacation day deserves a little celebrating, especially when the temperatures are sticking to the low 100s. Hi-C seemed to think so this past Tuesday and came home fully prepared for a coconutty blowout, armed with pina colada mix, fresh pineapple and rum. Since I'm back on the weight loss wagon, a calorie packed frozen drink was tempting, but out of the question. Instead, I made my own lighter, tasty treat, one I dubbed Rhuby Pome.

Are you familiar with Izze sparkling juice? They're fruit juice sweetened, no corn syrup, no artificial colors or dyes; effervescent and delicious, albeit a bit more expensive than your typical cola. We don't usually have sodas in the house, but I bought a 4 pack of the Pomegranate Fortified* a week or so ago and stowed it away in the back corner of the fridge, knowing some form of temptation would arise and I needed to be prepared. 

The recipe? Fill your glass with ice, pour 8 oz Izze Pomegranate and 2 oz Rhuby (this translates into 4 parts Izze, 1 part Rhuby). Also, it's imperative you let the glass sweat so your perspiration soaked shirt won't be lonely.

For a finishing touch? Make the drink super fancy looking by raiding the party supplies from your toddler's 2nd birthday: stripey straws make everything taste better. 

Take a picture, it'll last way longer than your Rhuby Pome will.

*I should add I generally find "fortified" products to be a marketing scheme, as they usually add little to no nutritional value to daily intake. I think these are probably a way to make Pepsi's Izze competitive with Coke's Vitamin Water and I bought them because I like Izze, not because I wanted extra nutrients. Sugary foods, even fruit juice sweetened, should be the occasional treat, and nothing can replace the way our bodies rely on whole and wholesome fresh foods for proper nutrition.

Pastariffic without the pasta

I'm still on the them of food, when I said our fridge was packed with freshness, I wasn't kidding. We currently have tomato salad, carrot salad and fruit salad at arm's length; tasty veggie packed goodness ready to grab whenever someone has the hankering for a snack.

Last year I posted some ideas for using up the summer rush of zucchini, and to this day zucchini "noodles" are my favorite. They hold the right texture of an al dente noodle, but no bloated gut from wheat overload. None of that crazy blood sugar roller coaster from carb overload either.

How do you make zucchini noodles? Find a baseball bat sized zucchini (or a bunch of reasonable sized ones) and wash and peel it. Run the vegetable peeler lengthwise down the zucchini, creating ribbons of the fleshy part. Stop when you get to the seedy core. Now you have a giant heaping of zucchini ready to lightly saute in olive oil. Do a bit at a time so you don't break or chop the ribbons into small pieces. You want them sturdy and as spaghetti-like as possible; only saute until the ribbons get just tender. Season as you go, I use salt and garlic but season according to your tastes.

Last night we used up a particularly large zucchini, topped it with tomato sauce and homemade meat balls. The meatballs did have a handful of oats in them, but generally the meal was veggie-heavy, meat-light, and very easy on the body.