Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday's Food for Thought

Grocery Store Challenge


photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The grocery store is a very interesting place.  Did you realize that millions of dollars are spent by grocery chains studying shopping patterns, lighting, colors, music and more in order to make us buy more?  Part of the layout consists of the least processed foods being laid out along the perimeter - produce, meat, deli, and dairy.  The central aisles are filled with pre-made, packaged foods.  Most of these items contain ingredients that our grandmothers would not have ever heard about.  Ingredients that we probably shouldn't ingest.

I want to present you with a challenge.  Do you think you could shop for a week's worth of food by only shopping the perimeter of the grocery store?  Plan a week using only whole, real foods (organic wherever possible).  It's a tough challenge.  Do you think you could do it?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vegetarian Southern-Style Collard Greens




I like to think I have tried a lot of different foods in my day, but I had never once tried collard greens.  In fact, I had never even seen them before!  So when they were at my local farm, I just HAD to pick some up!  I did so with absolutely no idea how to cook them, but I knew I'd find a way.  



My daughter, who loves sautéed swiss chard, was very excited to try these.  It is basically the same concept - cook the greens until they are wilted to make them less bitter.  These, however, are simmered in vegetable broth to reach the desired texture.  The collard greens were quite tasty, but my daughter thought they were a little spicy.  I would suggest eliminating the red pepper flakes if serving to young children.  This is a simple recipe that is a nice change of pace.  It's always such fun to try something new!


Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch collard greens, chopped
2 1/2 C low sodium vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste



Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook another minute.
  4. Add the collard greens and cook another minute.
  5. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes until the greens are tender.
  6. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper.




Adapted from Sunny Anderson

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fresh Idea

Restaurant Review - Carmelita's




As a vegetarian, I often find myself underwhelmed at Mexican restaurants.  There are usually very few options, and they only involve some heavy cheese dish.  Even bean burritos are often not an option because many restaurants still use lard to cook their refried pinto beans.  So when my husband decided to try Carmelita's in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, I wasn't overly thrilled.  The most exciting part for me was the balcony overlooking the lake!

However, once we got seated I was pleasantly surprised.  Immediately we were served chips and salsa (not very unusual - though their chips were fantastic and served warm), but also a bowl of vegetarian refried black beans!  They were fantastic!  My three year old couldn't get enough, and frankly neither could I!



After perusing the menu, I found a vegetarian spinach enchiladas verdes, and I was ecstatic to have something other than plain cheese enchiladas.  When they arrived I was pleased with the presentation and the surprising garnish of arugula.  These enchiladas were delicious!  They didn't have a ton of cheese, so I wasn't left feeling heavy afterwards.  The arugula added a very nice flavor to the spinach and avocado.  Needless to say, there was nothing left over!


The sides are served family style out of common bowls for the table and the default is refried pinto means, but they will gladly add a bowl of the black beans for the table.  I was happy that my daughter had the option of delicious black beans without the added lard.


This delicious meal was topped off by a refreshing strawberry-jalapeno margarita.  What a great way to enjoy a meal with the family overlooking a beautiful lake on a sunny day.  If you happen to be in the Rancho Santa Margarita area of Orange County, I would definitely try this out!  My husband had the chicken burrito, but enjoyed it so much, I couldn't even get a picture of it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lasagna Roll Ups


We've had pretty warm weather here lately, so I really wanted a no fuss dinner this week.  I had a few carrots and zucchini left over from last week and wanted to use them up, so I decided to try an interesting new wrap using lasagna noodles!  My daughter thought they were the coolest thing!

You can cook the lasagna noodles ahead of time, coat them in olive oil to prevent sticking, and seal them in the fridge until ready to use.  I decided to make them fresh.  The roasting of the bell peppers took the longest of all the prep work.  If your kids are a bit older, they can help with the assembly.  These would also make a great lunch!


Ingredients
8-10 lasagna noodles
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used my mandoline)
2 carrots, shredded
2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
goat cheese, softened


Directions

  1. Cook lasagna noodles as directed.  
  2. Cut the length of the lasagna noodles in half, giving you two shorter pieces
  3. Spread the goat cheese on top of the noodle.  Layer with a slice of zucchini, some shredded carrot, then red pepper.
  4. Roll and enjoy!

From BHG, May 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Menu


This week we picked up some old favorites and a few things we have never tried before!  We got some cauliflower, cilantro, sweet onion, strawberries, and tangerines.  But feeling adventurous, we also picked up some collard greens and pattypan squash - both of which we have never eaten (much less cooked!).  So this is what I came up with for the week.  What do you think?

  • Lasagna Roll Ups with Stuffed Pattypan Squash
    • using the pattypan squash and the rest of the zucchini, celery, and carrots from last week

  • Cheddar, Sweet Onion, and Pickle Panini with Southern Style Collard Greens
    • using the onion and collard greens

  • Huevos Rancheros
    • using the onion and cilantro with the rest of last week's green onion


We will be making a popcorn cauliflower snack and enjoying the strawberries and tangerines for dessert.