Showing posts with label healthy cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy cooking. Show all posts
We all know that there are certain foods that are better for parts of your body and your mental and emotional health.  I swear that a good breakfast can keep my kids going all morning and keep them attentive.  But there are some foods that are even better than others to keep your energy and brain power.  Have two growing children has made me very interested in these kinds of foods.

I always try keeping up to date on latest findings and research about what is best for my kids and my husband and I.  I found a few really interesting articles about foods that fuel brain power and memory.  These foods are good for our entire family and can keep us healthy.  I believe it is important to know what is good for you and take it into your own hands. 






Here are my findings and knowledge on “brain power food”:

•    Almond Butter can help find memory loss because of their high content of vitamin E, which has been found to help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.  Almond butter has three times as much vitamin E than ordinary peanut butter.  Why not make an easy switch to a healthier and better for you nut spread.

•    Leafy Greens like spinach or broccoli packed with vitamin K can help improve verbal memory and the ability to understand and remember verbal instructions.  Vitamin K is good for both my husband, our children, and myself.  Leafy greens are also high in tandem that works with vitamin B12 that helps cognitive function in older adults. 

•    Blueberries are the ultimate power food.  The flavonoids in them are shown to help spatial memory and the antioxidants reduce inflammation that helps with long term memory and brain health.  There are so many powers that blueberries have it is hard to name them all.

•    Green Tea helps improve brain plasticity making it easier to learn and retain information. 

•    Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids that help improve cognition and memory over long periods of time.  Tomatoes also have lycopene found in the skin that helps protect against depression-causing inflammation.

I hope to continue eating these foods and incorporate them a little more in my life.  There are huge lists foods that help brain power and cognitive health but these were some of my favorite foods. 

What are your “go to” brain boosting foods?

Go Green and Go Keen,

Julie
I love encountering individuals who are eager to learn about a vegetarian lifestyle and make a change.  Last night at the restaurant I had the opportunity to chat with a couple that has just decided to embark on their vegetarian lifestyle journey.  They asked me for some helpful hints to get through the difficult first couple months.  With spring quickly approaching and BBQ’s and soccer games around the corner they were concerned about vegetarian options.  Luckily for them I have quite a few helpful hints.


Deciding to become is a big diet and lifestyle change.  There are times when it will seem impossible, but once you find your strength and keep pushing forward there is not turning back.  Here are a few tips that helped me “keep on trucking” and create a healthy lifestyle for myself.

1.    Don’t expect everyone to embrace your new lifestyle change initially.  My parents thought I was crazy when I told them I was making the change, and now they eat a primarily plant-based diet.  During the first couple months my friends and family would taunt me with my past favorite meals with meat making it a game to see if I would crack.  I stayed strong and soon everyone came to realize this was something I was doing to better myself and I wasn’t going to back down.  Stay strong!

2.    There will be times when you crave a dish with meat in it, and when that happens just watch one of the wonderful documentaries out there about the factory meat industry.  I am sure that craving will pass.  Documentaries are a great way to find inspiration to make change and find your strength from within.  Educate yourself!

3.    Try new fruits and vegetables.  There are so many it shouldn’t be hard to try a new one every week incorporating it into a new recipe.  I can’t stress enough that even “ugly” fruits and veggies taste wonderful.  Don’t overlook certain types just because you have never tried it before or it looks ugly.  Dive in head first and see what you like.

4.    If you are not a chef, take a vegetarian cooking class.  I took a class in my first couple months of becoming a vegetarian and learned so much and met a great support system.  Working and having fun with likeminded people is a great way to discover some new recipes and new friends.

5.    Eat what is in season and go to the farmers markets.  Going to the farmers markets is not only a way to get your groceries, it is an experience in itself.  Become friends with the farmers and really find out where your food comes from.  I also suggest planting your own garden.  It is such a satisfying feeling cooking a meal with all your own fresh yields.



Making a lifestyle change doesn’t have to be that hard.  Find a good support system and make a promise to yourself, you’ll be half way there.  If you have any other questions about become a vegetarian, I would love to answer them for you! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
A couple years ago my husband and I met a couple staying at a bed and breakfast near our home.  My husband and I were having coffee and they asked to join us.  Our simple cup of coffee turned into a day of adventure.  They were from the Caribbean and in California for a vacation.  It was so fun getting to know them and doing things we do all the time with a set of fresh eyes.

After meeting, we kept in contact through Facebook in case we were ever in the same area again.  They came back to California this past week for a business conference and we opened up our home to them.  It was great seeing them again, and as a thank you they cooked us their favorite dinner.

Caribbean food is so delicious.  After dinner I begged to get the recipe, it was so good.  They were kind enough to share their favorite recipes with us so we will be able to transform our meals into a paradise.

Here are two of the Caribbean recipes they shared, and I promise they are to die for.



Creole Rice Pilaf

Ingredients-

1 ½ tsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1/3 cup minced shallots
½ cup sliced scallions
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 ¼ cup diced plum tomatoes
1 ½ cup short-grain brown rice
3 ½ cup vegetable broth, boiling
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. Bragg liquid Aminos

Instructions-

Heat oil and crushed red pepper in a saucepan on medium heat for 1 minute.  Add the shallots, scallions, and celery and cook for about 3 minutes until adding the mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes before adding rice.  The entire mixture for 2 minutes while stirring.

Add the boiling broth, coriander and thyme into the saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in the liquid aminos and enjoy!

Caribbean Style Sofrito- this makes 6 servings, they like to feed a crowd! :D



Ingredients-

1 green bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ orange bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes
5 tomatoes, cored and chopped
½ bunch of green onions, chopped
¾ bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
3 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
½ cup chopped garlic

Instructions-
Put the green, red, orange, and yellow peppers, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, tomatillos, and garlic into a food processor or blender and pulse or blend to make the your desired consistency, either chunky or smooth. Season lightly with salt.

Enjoy!

Hope these recipes can transport you to a Caribbean escape in your kitchen!

Go green and stay keen,

Julie

The kids first day of school is tomorrow and they are having mixed feelings of excitement and sadness because the summer is over.  They both got new backpacks this year and have them all filled with notebooks and pens ready to go.

We got to do so many things together this summer and were able to cross everything off their summer to do list.  It was a wonderful summer.



Because it is the last day before they start school, I want to make them a nutritious dinner so their brains are ready for tomorrow.  I am making my eggplant lasagna that they love.  Eggplants are great vegetables with so many benefits for everyone.

Here are some healthy facts about eggplants that will make you want to add them to your regular diet.

Eggplants have essential nutrients that your body needs like iron, calcium, and many other minerals.

Eggplant skins contain essential phyto nutrients that improve blood circulation and nourish the brain; perfect for back to school after a summer of fun.

Eggplants have fiber to protect and regulate the digestive tract.

For many years eggplants were used to control and manage diabetes.  With research it was proven because of the high fiber and low soluble carbohydrate content.

Eggplants are high in bioflavonoids that control high blood pressure and relieve stress.  Good for those first day of school jitters.

Regular consumption of eggplants can also help prevent blood clots because of the vitamin K and bioflavonoids that strengthen capillaries.


I believe that a good dinner and breakfast are the key to a successful day at school for children.  Food fuels the brain and the body so that it performs to its highest capability.  I am lucky I taught my kids at a young age to like foods that are good for their bodies and minds.  Now Hannah and Liam prefer “healthy” food over junk food, almost all the time :).

It makes me proud to see them make good choices and grow stronger and bigger each year.

I am sure tonight is going to be the “I don’t want to go to school, I want it to be summer longer,” but with this dinner and homemade ice cream for dessert, it should make it a little more bearable for them.

Happy first day of school for all the other kids out there!

Go green and stay keen,

Julie


The Wonderful Eggplant

by on 9/07/2015
The kids first day of school is tomorrow and they are having mixed feelings of excitement and sadness because the summer is over.  They bot...
Happy National Watermelon Day! :D

Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family takes National Watermelon Day very seriously.  It is a great day to indulge on watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Watermelons are pretty interesting fruits as well, giving us plenty to talk about.

Here are our family’s favorite fun facts about watermelons-

There are 300 different kinds of watermelons in the US and Mexico
They are the perfect summer snack because they are 92% water making them so refreshing.
The world’s heaviest watermelon weighed 268.6 lbs., now that is a lot of watermelon.
People eat on average 16 lbs. of watermelon annually.
Egyptian hieroglyphics show the first-ever watermelon harvest took place about 5,000 years ago.  They were often sealed into tombs of kings.

Now you can have the same useless trivia as we do.

There are so many recipes with watermelon that are often forgot.  People usually just eat them sliced, although it is wonderful that way, there are so many more possibilities when it comes to a delicious fruit like this.

Watermelon-Peach Salsa with Tomatoes-

Ingredients-

½ cup hot pepper jelly
1 tbsp. lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cups seeded and diced watermelon
1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup chopped chives
3 cups baby tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil springs to garnish

Directions-

Whisk the pepper jelly, lime zest, and lime juice together and then stir in watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives.
Season the baby tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with salsa, and serve with basil if desired.  Enjoy!

Don’t be nervous at the thought of warm watermelon, Grilled Watermelon Slices are delicious-

Ingredients-
Several slices of watermelon
2 limes, juices
½ a limes zest
3 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. water
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
A few pinches of salt



Directions-

Preheat the grill to high.  Cut watermelon into 1 inch thick slices and lightly brush each side with honey and place on grill until browned, about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and drizzle mixture over watermelon slices on place.
Enjoy!

And for a little adult beverage, Frozen Watermelon Margaritas are very tasty-

Ingredients-

1 ½ cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup tequila
½ cup lime juice
½ cup orange liqueur
1-2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 cups ice

Directions-

Puree watermelon, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Divide among glasses and garnish with lime and watermelon slice.
Enjoy!


With your new fun facts and superb watermelon recipes, National Watermelon day is going to be WONDERFUL!

Go green and stay keen!

Julie

National Watermelon Day

by on 8/03/2015
Happy National Watermelon Day! :D Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family ta...
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like dips and sauces.  I am a firm believer that anything smothered in dip or sauces is 10x better than it otherwise.



I went to a BBQ two weekends ago for the fourth and made the best taco dip.  It was the hit of the party and no one believed me when I told them it was vegetarian!



There was quite the variety of dips and surprisingly most of the dips were meat-less.  It made my BBQ a little easier.  I wanted to share with you my favorite vegetarian dip recipes that are not hummus. :D

Vegan Taco Dip

Ingredients-

1, 14 oz. can vegan refried beans
1, 12-16 oz. container of vegan sour cream
1 packet of taco seasoning mix
1 cup black olives, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cup lettuce
1 avocado, chopped
½ cup green onion, chopped

Instructions-

Spread the refried beans of the bottom of a 9x7 inch tray.  Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together, then gently spread it on top of the beans.  Top with olives, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and green onion.

Chill for an hour and enjoy!

Miso-Lime Sweet Potato Dip

Ingredients-

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. white miso paste
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. grated lime zest, more to garnish if desired

Instructions-

Pierce sweet potatoes with a four and microwave for 7-10 minutes until soft.  Let potatoes cool and coarsely chop leaving the skins on.
Place chopped potatoes in a food processer and add the miso paste, lime juice, ginger, and lime zest with 2 tbsp. water and pulse until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with lime zest if desired and enjoy!

Hot Artichoke Dip

Ingredients-

1, 12 oz. package of light silken tofu
2 tbsp. reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. onion powder
1, 15.5 oz. can artichoke quarters in water, drained, rinsed, and chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Dusting of paprika

Instructions-

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Puree tofu, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and onion powder in blender until smooth and then transfer to bowl.

Stir artichokes, spinach, and parmesan cheese into tofu mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes, dust with paprika and enjoy!

I love dips, they make a meal or appetizer even better.

What is your favorite vegetarian dip?


Vegetarian dips, sauces, dressings.


Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

I have been slacking about posting my Kids Cook Monday Meals.




We have been keeping up with it and participating since my first post.  My mind just goes to other topics when I sit down to write.  I have had way too many other good topics to share with you guys :)

Good news is I remembered tonight! My kids and husband helped cook dinner tonight! It was so wonderful.

We made Confetti Stuffed Bell Peppers and Chilled Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies for desert.

We had so much fun cooking and our meal tasted delicious.  I think we spent the entire time cooking, laughing at Liam, he had a comment for everything; silly kid!

Here are the recipes that we used!

We actually found the Confetti Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe at the Kids Cook Monday website.

Confetti Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients-

4 large bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables, cooked according to the package directions
1 bag (10 oz.) whole grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 can tomato sauce
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Instructions-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9x13-inch shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray
Combine mixed vegetables, brown rice, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and black pepper in a large bowl.
Arrange peppers in prepared pan and spoon mixture into peppers.
Pour ¼ cup water into pan around the peppers. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, until peppers are tender.
Remove foil and evenly sprinkle peppers with remaining cheeses.  Bake uncovered 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Enjoy!



For dessert we made no-bake, Chilled Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies


Ingredients-

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
¼ cup honey
¼ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
3 cups corn flakes, lightly crushed

Instructions-

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a small skillet add cocoanut and toast for about 3 minutes then let cool.
In a medium sauce pan combine honey, corn syrup, and peanut butter on medium heat.  Keep stirring until mixture begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and cocoa.  Stir the mixture until the chocolate chips have melted and then add the cereal and toasted coconut and stir until coated.
Spoon balls of mixture on to parchment paper and refrigerate until hardened, about 15 minutes.
Enjoy!



It ended up being a fantastic kid’s cook Monday!  We were so full after our meal we went on a walk around the neighborhood to digest it all.  The meal and the walk put the kids right to bed.  When we got back they sat on the couch for 15 minutes and went straight to bed.  Great end to a great evening.
Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Kids Cook Monday

by on 6/01/2015
I have been slacking about posting my Kids Cook Monday Meals . We have been keeping up with it and participating since my first po...
Rhubarb is one of my favorite vegetables that is seasonally spring.  It is so delicious and makes, in my opinion, THE BEST desserts.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to add rhubarb to main courses, but it doesn’t get much better than a good old fashioned rhubarb pie.  I wanted to share my love for this seasonally sweet vegetable with a few of my recipes.  I hope they seem just as delicious to you as they do to me!

Rhubarb Crumble
rhubarb crumble julie green and keenIngredients-
1 ½ pound of rhubarb, just into small slices
2 cups of raspberries or strawberries (or if you are feeling crazy, both)
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons of instant tapioca
½ tsp. grated orange zest
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
A dash of salt

Ingredients for topping-
6 tbsp. softened vegetarian butter
¼ cup packed light-brown sugar
¼ tsp. orange zest
1 cup flour
Dash of salt

Instructions for topping-
Mix butter, brown sugar, orange zest in a large bowl, electric mixers work great.  Mix until creamy.  Add flour and salt, work mixture until it forms coarse crumbs.

Instructions for Rhubarb-
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix rhubarb, berries, sugar, tapioca, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a large bowl.
Divide rhubarb mixture into six small, one cup baking dishes and top with topping.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden brown and it is bubbling a little bit.
Let cool and serve, Enjoy!




My favorite Rhubarb Cake
rhubarb cake julie green and keenIngredients-
½ cup vegetarian butter
1 ½ white sugar
¼ cup soy yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. bake soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 tbsp. flour
¼ cup vegetarian butter
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar

Instructions-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, yogurt and vanilla until creamy.
In another bowl sift 2 cups of flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add the buttermilk and combine with creamed mixture.
Toss the rhubarb with 1 tbsp. flour and stir into the batter.  Pour the batter into a buttered 9 x 13 in pan and smooth the surface.
In a separate bowl, blend together ¼ cup butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter.
Bake for 45 minutes, let cool and enjoy!


The Beloved Fresh Rhubarb Pie
rhubarb pie julie green and keenIngredients-
4 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 cups white sugar
6 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter
Pie Crust (Homemade or bought, your choice)

Instructions-
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Combine sugar and flour and sprinkle a ¼ of it over the pie crust.  Heap the rhubarb over this mixture and sprinkle the remaining sugar and flour over the top of the rhubarb.  Chop up pieces of butter and sprinkle over the top and cover with top crust.
Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 40-45 minutes.
Enjoy your fresh rhubarb pie!


Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky enough to live in a part of the US where we have fresh produce year-round.

California produces about 80% of all fruits and vegetables in the US; so I like to think that we are setting the seasonal standard for the rest of the country.  :)



Spring brings new and exciting flavors to spice up the cooking.  I love the lightness and freshness that spring produce provides to otherwise “heavy” dishes.  I have made of list of fruits and veggies you should begin looking for at farmers markets to “spring into spring” cooking.

•    Artichokes are seasonally harvested in the spring and again in the early fall.

•    Arugula can be found year-round but I believe the taste is richer in the spring and fall.

•    Asparagus is absolutely wonderful in the spring.  The light flavor it brings to dishes is perfect for the season.

•    Fava Beans are sweet and “spring-y” for the season.  They come in soft green pods and are delicious in salads.

•    Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes are harvested and taste best in the spring.  They add a delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes.

•    One of my favorite fruits, Grapefruit is juicy and I believe it is the best in the spring.

•    Green Onions and Scallions are perfect now.  I love combining green onions and garlic into salads in the spring.  It provides the perfect flavor for a light tasting dish.

•    Lettuce is sold year round, but spring brings the best flavor and hearty heads.

•    Mushrooms, especially Morel, are at their peak in the spring.  You know I love mushrooms if you read my post about mushroom month.  http://juliegreenandkeen.blogspot.com/2014/09/national-mushroom-month.html

•    New potatoes are freshly harvested young, small potatoes that are excellent in the spring.  They are easy to peel and are very crisp inside.

•    Peas and Pea Pods are harvested in the spring and early summer.  I love pea soup, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh peas.

•    Radishes are also seasonal.  They are the best spring through fall.

•    Rhubarb has so many recipe possibilities and it is at its prime in the spring.  I love making rhubarb deserts and adding it to just about everything.

•    Who doesn’t love snap peas?  They are the perfect snacks and are seasonally the best now.

•    STRAWBERRIES ARE BACK!! Strawberries taste delicious in anything and they are in season.  I add them to smoothies, salads, and just eat them plain.


I have been anxious to begin spicing up my cooking with new spring flavors.  I think that cooking seasonally with fresh produce from farmers market is a great way to keep cooking exciting and fresh.  I can’t wait to go crazy at the farmers market and come up with some new recipes!  Have fun eating seasonally.

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Seasonally Spring Foods

by on 3/22/2015
It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky eno...