Sunday, July 22, 2012

Italian Ratatouille

This can be made stove top or in a crock pot. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, but this is what I used today.

4 large tomatoes diced
1 container of cherry tomatoes
3 zucchini
3 squash
1 eggplant
2 bell peppers
1 bag or spinach
2 tbspn of diced garlic
1/4 cup of chives
1 tbspn pepper
I use fresh herbs from the garden - garlic, rosemary, basil, and oregano.
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce. (I like organic Classico)

You can eat this as a stew (which a ratatouille is) or you can eat it like a tomato sauce over pasta.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Environmentally Friendly & Money Saving Tips

Not a recipe this time, but part of living Green is being Green... Here are some environmentally friendly tips that also double as money saving tips. 

1) Become a paperless household - no paper towels, no paper napkins, no disposable diapers - no paper other than toilet paper, and there are some people that even use cloth for that.

  • Cloth Diaper - it isn't what it used to be. I use gdiapers 100% cloth option, which basically work like disposables in terms of how you put them on the baby - put have an outside cloth, an inside cloth, and a snap liner to hold the inside cloth in place. Even my husband loves them. We paid about $400 originally for everything and we have never had to pay anything else since. Honestly that originally money was mostly gifts/gift cards so not much of that came out of our pocket.
  •  Cloth wipes - You can also do cloth baby wipes. I understand why many don't do this - and quite honestly I dont either (hubby won't let me). Instead I buy seventh generation wipes on Amazon in bulk and spend about $5 a month on wipes (1 box lasts us about 2 months). Amazon has a great Amazon Mom program that will give you discounts on diapers (if you do paper), wipes, and lots of other baby products. 
  •  Cloth Pads - Yep, I said it - cloth pantiliners and pads (I like the brand Gladrags). I think that is all I need to say about the matter. 
  • Cloth Napkins - Reuse! Buy or make cloth napkins and use those instead of paper towels or paper napkins
  • Dish towels - Instead of using papertowels, I clean my house with dish towels. I even clean my floors with them instead of having a mop (I clip them into a swiffer and use that instead). 
2) Cleaning Products- You don't need all of these fancy cleaners! Back in the good old days people cleaned their entire house with just baking soda and vinegar. (If you dont like the smell you can add water and lemon). Vinegar and lemon are natural anti-bacterials. Clean your glass (wont leave smear marks!), your floors and counters (I let the baking soda foam when I do these and then do a second and third rinse with just vinegar and then just water again to make sure there is no residue), clean all your furniture -even wood with vinegar. Use baking soda on your tile, toilets, and shower/tub. It is that simple. 

3) You can always be extreme and make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of different recipes; just google "make your own laundry detergent"

4) Go Vegetarian - if not for all of your meals - a lot of them. Beans, lentils, brown rice, soy, quinoa, leafy greens, corn, squash, and dairy are all low cost sources of calcium and protein with lots of other good vitamins and minerals mixed in there. 

5) Buy in bulk -, Costco, and Sams all have great bulk options that cost a little more right this second (ie you cant spread out the cost over a number of weeks) but cost you way less per ounce. You also use less packaging! 

6) In some areas you  need heaters and air conditioners. In California you can probably sweat/chill it out just a little bit. During the winter, set the thermostat to keep the house warmer than 62; in the summer set it to keep the house cooler than 85 and use fans. Unplug anything that you are not using and turn off the lights if you dont need them. Use natural light whenever possible. This will save you money on electricity. Now don't give me a look on this one. I lived in Texas for 6 years - where it is humid as hell, we had over 100 degree temps for 45 days straight during the summer, and during the winter it got down to the teens. My thermostat was set to not get hotter than 90 in the house during the summer and not colder than 50 in the house during the winter. Once we had the baby we made it no colder than 60 and no hotter than 85 - so if we can do it, so can you. 

7) Buy things that arent in packaging. You can get some good bulk deals even at places like Wholefoods and Safeway when you bring in your own containers and fill up from the dry goods sections (beans, lentils, rice, popcorn, snacks, granola, etc). We use reusable produce bags, reusable containers for dry goods, and reusable grocery bags -- this means when we go to the store all we bring with us is food. 

8) Eat local - less gas to get the food to you! This way the food will also be fresher and more nutritious.  Look for a local co-op, a local farm, or even a group delivery -- and are both great choices. 

9) Use all of your food--. Seems pretty self explanatory, but you would be surprised how much people waste food. We are all busy. In the past, I mad a menu and shopped just for it- now we do a local farm delivery box and cant choose what we get, but when I get the goods then I make a menu based on it. Then I cook our lunches for the week on Sunday and put them in the fridge or freezer for us to grab and take to work. This way nothing goes bad. Freeze what you arent using - use the fruit for smoothies later (and some of the veggies for smoothies too). 

Good luck with these easy tips! 

Now that's what I call vegan protein

Did you know that when you eat corn, squash, and beans together you have a complete protein -- that is some power food - or as they say on my little one's favorite channel "sport's candy". 

This recipe puts all three together and can be served with or without cheese to keep it vegan or to add even more protein. 

2 squash
1 zucchini 
1 cob of corn (Cut off the kernals) 
pepper and cumin to taste
3 cups of black beans (or 1 can) 
1 cup cheese or 1 avocado (if keeping vegan) 

Saute all ingredients but the cheese for about 15 min. Add cheese and saute for about 5 more min. Serve with tortillas. Say Yum!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My 1 yr old's favorite Green Smoothie

So Green Smoothies are all the rage right now, but if you try to give a little kid a smoothie that looks green most of them wont even be willing to try it. This is a favorite of my family - including my little 1 year old, Joy Luz. 

The best part is it is delicious and nutritious - A BIG secret is FREEZE YOUR VEGGIES. People usually throw the greens in fresh... that is fine and dandy, but freezing them gives it an icy texture and better taste. 

If you little one is still not liking it use frozen bok choy and butter lettuce as the green instead of spinach or kale. (I like kale in salads and as kale chips but I hate it in smoothies and I am a grown vegetarian. I cant expect my 1 year old to like it in a smoothie either)  

I always want to make sure my little one that is now on solids is getting all of her nutrition so I put the information into and this little baby is covered by her daily smoothie. 

1 oz juice (I like cranberry juice to keep the sugar content lower) 
Fill up the blender to the 2 cup line with water. 
Add Emergen-C vitamin C packets (I like tangerine), 
1 tb chia seeds, 
2 tbpn pea protein powder, 
1 frozen bok choy, 
1 tbspn green kale/seaweed powder
 1 cup frozen berries, 
2 capsules ( I open them up) each of raspberry ketones, and white bean protein. 
Blend and Drink. Sometimes I also add 1 tb of 100% cocoa powder and Joy LOVES those days. 

I split it 1/3 to my 1 year old and I get the other 2/3 of it. 


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cheese or Veggie Enchiladas

Easy, Fast, and Oh so filling Enchiladas

Sauce: Boil 4 tomatillo peppers and 4 serrano peppers (less if you dont want this to be too spicy) in a pot until the tomatillos change color and are slightly soft. Take off the tops and the leafs before boiling.

Drain water and put peppers, garlic to taste, and a mix of 1/2 veggie broth and 1/2 water enough to cover the peppers. Blend and top enchiladas before baking.

Yellow corn tortillas (I suggest an authentic Mexican brand that is a little softer and not Mission which tend to break while folding.

Put veggies (zucchini and bell peppers) or just cheese at the round end of the tortilla. Role about twice over and lay fold down on sheet pan. After all of your enchiladas are made, top with the tomatillo sauce and additional cheese.
Bake for about 20-30 min at 350, making sure NOT TO BURN them, checking on them every 5 min.

Serve with black beans and cilantro rice.

Easy Salsa

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can rotel
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tbspn garlic
2-6 serrano or jalepeno peppers (depending on how spicy you want it to be)

Blend until consistency that you prefer.

Easy Cilantro Rice

1 cup brown rice

1/2 cup diced cilantro

Put in appropriate veggie broth for your rice cooker (usually 2 cups for every 1 cup of rice)

cook in rice cooker.

That's what I call black beans

So we can do these the easy way or the hard way:

hard way:

soak dry beans overnight in a bowl full of water.
The next day, drain water.
Put black beans, 2 cups veggie broth
and to taste: garlic (I suggest 3 cloves), green onions (I suggest the whole bunch white and green parts chopped), cumin (I suggest 2-3 tablespoons, did I mention I LOVE CUMIN), pepper (I suggest shaking to your heart's content), and a pinch of salt. THE ABOVE suggestions are for a full bag of dried beans.

Add enough water to cover all of this appropriately. Cook on stove, medium heat for about 2.5 hours. Stir the beans every 20 mins. Taste to see if they are ready at about 2 hours. Add additional spices if necessary and keep watching til they hit the perfect consistency.

Sidenote - I have also done this in a crockpot instead of stove top. They come out drier, but still good.

Easy Way:
1 can of organic black beans
pour can in pot without draining.
Add 1 tblspn garlic
1 tspn cumin
1 tspn garlic
1/4 bunch of green onions --white and green.
Boil on medium heat about 10 min.

Lentil Loaf

I love Lentil Loaf, and it is 10x better when you serve it with mashed potatoes!
You can easily make this vegan by either leaving out the eggs (which just act as a binder so it wont be as loaf-like but will have the same taste, or by adding a vegan egg substitute).

This recipe makes like 12 servings.

2 cups red lentils-- cook for about 20 min. When they are done add them to the rest of the items.
1 cup diced carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 cans diced tomatoes or about 10 fresh diced
1 cup bread crumbs (you can leave this out for less carbs and calories it just wont be as loafy)
2 eggs (again acts as binding agent only. I leave out to remain vegan)
brown rice -- 1 -1.5 cups uncooked, but cook before adding to mixture.
Homemade pasta sauce -- or 1 full jar of pasta sauce

Mix very well and put in roasting pans.
Top with another full jar of your favorite homemade or store bought pasta sauce.

bake at 375 for 45 min with aluminum foil covering it, then cook another 15-20 min uncovered, make sure to rotate and check on loaf every 15 mins.