Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vegetarian Highlight: Whole Grain Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

My favorite host on Food Network is Giada De Laurentiis. My daughter just loves her and she is like another family member to us, seriously. You can only imagine my excitement when I tuned in one day and her show was entitled "Viewer's Choice: Vegetarian"! Basically, viewers wrote in with their requests on what they wanted to see on the show and vegetarian recipes won out. According to Giada, she is predicting that 2012 is going to be all about vegetarian fare--that of which I could not be happier about (check out her interview here). I had to try her Whole Grain Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms recipe immediately. (Note: The only difference was that I kept the mushrooms whole and the Brussels Sprouts chunkier, just my own personal touch!)

{I am a huge Brussels sprouts lover...they really add personality to a dish}

{fresh lemon, creme fraiche and toasted slivered almonds. just a few of the stand-out ingredients.}

{brilliantly staged vegetables}

{the unexpected addition of the fresh lemon and lemon zest was the best surprise to this recipe.}

{finished and plated!}

Words cannot describe how wonderfully tasty this recipe was. I am pretty sure I existed on these leftovers for two to three days afterwards. The pepper gave it a kick and the lemon zest really was the highlight, adding a fresh zing. The creaminess of the creme fraiche made the taste smooth and really blended the ingredients together nicely. Toasted slivered almonds add a protein punch as well as a delectable crunchiness. Pair the dish with baguette on the side to complete the meal, but on it's own it was magnificent. This is one that will remain in my recipe book.

Now, onto Giada's other vegetarian recipes...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

 {pumpkin spice pancakes. YUM!}

While I have been trying to watch my sugar lately, if I do decide to make something sweet, I'll make it from scratch so as to avoid preservatives, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated anything. My daughter absolutely loves these pumpkin spice pancakes (recipe link here). I'll do anything to increase any fruits into my daughter's diet, and pumpkin does have some nutritional value worth getting excited about (read the benefits here). Next time I will opt out of using the cinnamon sugar on top since the brown sugar in the recipe is enough sweetness as well as the maple syrup. Ahhhhh fall...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stretching Your Hard-Earned Dollar for Healthy Eats

{fresh vegetables from our garden!}

I found this interesting article (link here) on healthy eating on a budget. At our place, we try and incorporate these ideas regularly, and, personally, I think there are some good ones here. The only exception might be the canned goods as it has been found that many cans are lined with BPA. This is not a great thing because I make marinara sauce regularly from scratch most weeks and use canned whole tomatoes.

Here, I've listed the suggestions in the above-mentioned article:
  • Join a CSA or go to farmers markets regularly (a great way to support local businesses) 
  • Plan ahead, don't impulse buy
  • Eat dried beans
  • Buy frozen vegetables
  • Buy eggs
  • Buy "generic" versions (I do this all the time at Stop and Shop with their Nature's Promise products, but Shop Rite also has many organic store-brand items)
  • Don't buy pre-cut fruits and veggies
  • Eat less meat
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat
  • Eat foods that fill you up
  • Buy in bulk
Also, during the summer months, another budget/environmentally friendly idea is to start your own garden (even better, using compost that you've collected all year long). You will know exactly where your food has come from and you can't eat more indigenous to your area than that!

For those who are interested, here's my quick marinara/spaghetti sauce recipe. So easy!

Jenny's Quick Marinara

1-2 cans crushed tomatoes (use 10 whole tomatoes if making from true "scratch", without puree)
1 can pureed tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning
1 tsp sugar

Pour 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant but not burned. Add crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and stir well. Shake enough Italian seasoning over the mixture, enough to cover the surface area of the sauce in an even layer. Mix. Simmer for as little as a few minutes until it is hot or for a few hours to develop into a rich, hearty sauce. Mix throughout the time it is simmering. Add Italian sausage to maximize flavor or meatballs. (Or nothing!) Freeze, divided into1-cup servings in storage containers.