I better pass on the coffee. Get out the juicer.

Things are changing around here.  If you know us, you know that my husband and I are amateur foodies (or at least professional food snobs).  We love the finer things.  We LOVE good coffee, (Will has started roasting his own).  We  love eating a variety, constantly trying new recipes and restaurants.  We love to entertain and make people happy with food.

As you probably know if you follow the blog, you know that over the last year we were on the South Beach Diet and made a major lifestyle change.  We sort of “got our life back,” as it comes to food addiction.  That is, we overcame a sugar addiction: constant desire for carbohydrates/fatty processed foods coupled with irritability and a daily 2:00 p.m. crash.  Since then, we’ve tried to implement a healthier eating pattern that involves a lot more vegetables.

A few weeks ago we watched a documentary entitled “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”  It’s about an Australian Businessman who journeys to take control of his eating lifestyle by going on a juice fast.  Over many years of overeating a lot of crap, he was terribly overweight, and had developed an autoimmune disease.  He decided to cleanse out his body with a “fast” of sorts, not a water fast that would starve your body, but instead a juice “fast” that will deliver mega doses of vitamins and nutrients directly to your system.  Fascinating documentary.  Highly recommend it to anyone interested in taking care of your bodies.

We’ve decided to give it a try.  In preparation for our juice fast, I have become a vegetarian over the last few weeks.  That wasn’t intentional, but after doing some research about the benefits of juicing and raw food and veganism, I’ve started weaning myself down.  I’ve also given up alcohol and will be done with coffee in a few days.  Gasp.  What the what?!  You may be thinking that I’ve gone and eaten a little bit of Colorado crazy.  😉  That may be true, but this is what I know.  I want to feel better.  I want more energy.  I want more mental clarity.  I want more even moods.  I want my “unexplainable edema” to go away.  I want my digestive problems to go away.  After these few weeks of weaning off of meat and animal products, juicing a few meals a week and trying to avoid processed foods, I can confidently say that I feel like a different person!  I feel more mentally available, I’m sleeping better at night, I’m much more rested and energetic during the day, and my moods are much more stable.  The biggest difference is energy.  Energy when I wake up in the morning to get up and conquer the day.  And, energy in the afternoon.  Example: I used to “have to rest” during every naptime.  That is, put my feet up and sit for 2 hours just to both physically and mentally be able to make it to 5.  I’m not there anymore.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve had energy to play with my kids throughout the day and get work done during naptimes.  This week I painted our living room during naptimes!

I’m not sure how much I’ll blog about this adventure.  We’re going to be doing a 15 day juice fast beginning Wednesday.  Today and tomorrow we slowly and carefully wean off of animal products and animal by-products to completely raw foods.  The only thing I’m worried about is caffeine withdrawal…  Let me know if you’re interested in hearing about how it goes.  I’m thinking about starting a separate blog for it or another page on this one.  That is to say, if I have time, if I feel like it, and if I can figure it out.  I may be really, really crabby in about 5 days from all the detoxing.  That could produce some interesting posts.  😉

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Butternut Squash Pancakes

We were getting dinner ready to go tonight, and I pulled some frozen, diced butternut squash out of the freezer as a vegetable side.  I was feeling creative and came up with something kill-ah!  Oh, let me tell you.  These were amazing!  Everybody, especially the girls L-O-V-E-D these!  I’m just going to jot down what I did here.  Feel free to edit as you like.  I HOPE you try these!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Ingredients

10 oz bag frozen, cubed butternut squash

1 egg

1/3 c. of whole-grain pancake/waffle mix (no sugar)

1 t. of splenda brown sugar

1 t. canola oil

1 T. milk

dash each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

pat of butter

Directions

Microwave squash, covered in a microwave-safe bowl for about 4 minutes or until squash is cooked.  You may need to stir half-way through.  After 4 minutes squash should be very tender and squishy.  Using a mesh colander, drain and “squash” out excess water.  Return to bowl.  Mash well and add egg, oil, milk, sugar, and spices.  Stir until egg in well-combined.  Add small amounts of pancake mix, stirring in between until desired thickness of batter is achieved.  Coat a nonstick griddle or large frying pan with cooking spray and heat to high.  Add a pat of butter.  When sizzling and butter is melted, scoop pancake batter with 1/4 cup scoops onto griddle.  Fry each on med-high, flipping when bubbles begin to form around the edges.  Fry an additional 2 minutes or so until lightly browned on each side.  Serve with the tiniest drizzle of real maple syrup.  Should yield about 6 small, but hearty pancakes.

A love affair with cauliflower

Yes.  Cauliflower.  Before now, I’ve never gotten into it… It lacks color, doesn’t have a lot of flavor on it’s own… fairly unpopular as far as vegetables go… But, my mind has CHANGED!

If you’ve been over to our house for a meal, then you’ve probably had some sort of soup.  If you’ve been to our house quite a few times, then you’ve probably had my potato soup.  I can make a MEAN potato soup.  Rich and hearty.  Make you want to take a nap afterwards.  And, there for a few years (at least 10), I couldn’t get enough potato soup.  Well, since we’ve been having so much success with the South Beach Diet, we haven’t had any white potatoes and definitely no potato soup.  Sad.  I know.  But don’t worry, I don’t lay awake at night missing potato soup. 😉  Here is a secret recipe that will knock your socks off if you haven’t had potatoes in a while!  And, it may even knock your socks off anyway.  Simple, healthy and oh, so tasty: the magic cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

T olive oil

medium onion, chopped

large head of cauliflower, florets and stems cut into small pieces

32 oz chicken broth

1/4 c. sour cream

1/4 t nutmeg

sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

chopped green onions

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add onions and fry 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.  Transfer to a blender and puree in batches.  Return to pot and add sour cream and nutmeg.  Whisk or stir to combine thoroughly.  Serve hot with sprinkles of cheddar cheese and green onions.

Yum-oh!  It is fire-y delicious without all the starch and heaviness of a potato soup.

 

For South Beach Dieters: This is a phase 1 recipe if you use reduced-sodium chicken broth and low-fat cheese and sour cream.

My new favorite breakfast

Will and I have been on The South Beach Diet for a few months now.  We haven’t been very strict over the last month or so, but we’ve both lost about 25 pounds and kept it off thus far!  Celebration!  One of the ways that we’re able to fudge a little is by having a frequent breakfast of eggs.  Here’s the thing about eggs… I really don’t like them.  Here’s the thing about the South Beach Diet… For the first two weeks of the diet (Phase 1), you eat different egg combinations for breakfast EVERY day.  I started actually liking eggs, but only when they’re fixed with LOTS of vegetables.  I’d like to share more about my experience with the diet, but this post is about my new favorite breakfast.  So, I didn’t use to like eggs, and I always thought vegetables for breakfast was crazy and weird.  Trust me, though, this is GOOD.  It’s like pizza for breakfast.

What is it called?  Is it a frittata?  It’s not an omelete… I like to call it “EGG PIZZA.”  The recipe varies depending on what vegetables I have handy in the fridge, and I use handfuls instead of measuring, but this is the basic model.  My girls adore it, by the way.

Egg Pizza (for 2)

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon or canadian bacon, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1 c. asparagus, sliced in 1 in. pieces (trust me)

2 c. fresh spinach

4 eggs, beaten with a touch of milk

1/2 c. of Italian shredded cheese (low-fat or 2% if possible)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a non-stick, oven safe, 12 in. skillet, pan fry bacon pieces on med-high heat.  If using canadian bacon, you may need to add a little olive oil.  Drain bacon fat.  Add vegetables minus spinach.  Fry until tender crisp.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  With vegetables/meat spread out evenly over pan, slowly pour eggs over vegetables.  Don’t touch it.  Just let it cook for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until you you see the edges pulling away but the center is still very wet.  Sprinkle on cheese, and put it in the preheated oven.  Bake for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and egg pizza is beautifully puffy.  Carefully remove from pan and slice like a pizza.  Serves two grown people for a very satisfying breakfast.

More to come on our South Beach Diet experience later.