Baking Experiment #1

For a long time now, I’ve had one simple aspiration: to bake my own bread. Given that I was having a “domestic day” today, I thought I would try to accomplish this goal by baking a zucchini bread. Let’s just say today’s attempt was… a little less than successful. The taste was good, but the consistency was all wrong. It wasn’t even bread-y, it was mushy. I should have maybe tried putting it back in the oven for a while, but I didn’t cause it was crispy on the outside. Oh well. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I replaced both the egg and the sugar in the recipe. I guess I’ll have to do a little more research on how to properly use the replacements…. Till then, here are some pictures of today’s little trial

All ready to go!

The batter before putting it in the oven

The final product. Ummm, I think it was supposed to get a little bigger and fluffy-er. It was too dense and not cooked all the way through, too squishy

On Anxiety, Food and Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything , by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – Philippians 4:6

Today I had a mini-breakdown of sorts. I was sitting in my office, trying to do work when I became very anxious. I don’t know about you, but with me this is something that happens every now and then. I’m not really sure what triggers it. It starts as just thinking  about one thing, which will lead me to start thinking about something else, which leads to something else and so on until I’m bombarded with everything that has been on my mind lately. And once that happens, I begin to feel the need to have everything resolved right now. The realization that it can’t all be resolved right now causes me more stress, to the point that I feel a tightening in my chest and my breathing becomes strained.

When this starts happening, my first urge is to eat, especially when one of the many things on my mind is worrying about the food in my fridge going bad. I know this is not right. I consider it a problem when something goes wrong and I am more apt to opening the refrigerator than opening my Bible.  To me this is no better than someone who opens a bottle of alcohol or pack of cigarettes when he or she becomes anxious. Fortunately, when this anxiety hit me today I was at work and didn’t have access to my fridge. BUT I was able to go to God in prayer and discuss with him all the many things that were causing me to be anxious. And let me tell you, that was all I needed to do.

This incident was a reminder to me though. I have to be careful to not make a false god out of food, even the healthy stuff. I think it’s a good thing that I am trying to eat more healthfully, but it must be kept in its proper place. Food can’t become a crutch that I lean on more than God. If, instead of eating when I feel anxious, I take it to God in prayer, the Bible tells me that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That sounds like a much better outcome than a food coma.

Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie

I saw this and I had to share. People always ask why I decided to give up meat and dairy. Well, 7 out of 10 of the reasons listed here are ones that directly affected my decision, in addition to some other more personal reasons that I’ll get around to writing about one day.

So here’s the list. I copied it directly from Down To Earth’s website (it’s a vegetarian food store in Maui)

Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie

  1. Reduce risk of the number 1 killer – heart disease

    Vegetarian diets are naturally lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol, and higher in plant nutrients than most meat-based diets. Vegetarians have been shown to have a 24% lower risk of dying of heart disease than non-vegetarians.1 New Harvard research has shown high consumption of red meat and heme iron may increase the risk of heart disease by 50% amongst diabetics.2 World-renowned physician Dr. Dean Ornish found that patients on a low-fat vegetarian diet actually reversed coronary heart disease.3

  2. Cancer prevention

    “Studies have shown that significant reduction in cancer risk among those who avoided meat…Meat is devoid of fiber and other nutrients that have a protective effect. Meat also contains animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed during the processing or cooking of meat. HCAs, formed as meat is cooked at high temperatures, and PAHs, formed during the burning of organic substances, are believed to increase cancer risk.

    In addition, the high fat content of meat and other animal products increases hormone production, thus increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer….Vegetarian diets and diets rich in high-fiber plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits offer a measure of protection.” 4

    Local Hawaii legend Ruth Heidrich is another great example of the power of a vegetarian diet. Following the advice of Dr. John McDougall, Ruth switched to a vegetarian diet after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ruth not only overcame the cancer, she went on to become an award-winning, record-breaking triathlete. She tells her incredible story in the best-selling book, “A Race for Life.” 5

  3. Lose excess weight and keep it off

    On average, vegetarians tend to be slimmer than meat eaters. Obesity rate in the general public is extremely high, while in vegetarians, the obesity rate only ranges from zero to six percent. 6

    A vegetarian diet low in fat and rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes accompanied with daily exercise is the perfect formula for healthy weight loss.

  4. Live longer, slow the aging process

    A 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years. 7 Plant-based diets are generally rich in fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which in turn strengthen the immune system and slow down the aging process.

  5. Avoid toxic food contaminants

    Flesh foods are loaded with dangerous poisons and contaminants such as hormones, herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics. As these toxins are all fat-soluble, they concentrate in the fatty flesh of animals. Not to mention the viruses, bacteria, and parasites such as salmonella, trichinella and other worms, and toxoplasmosis parasites.

  6. Reduce Global Warming

    The United Nations said in its 2006 report that livestock generate more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. 8 Therefore, the single most important step an individual can take to reduce global warming is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

  7. Humans are vegetarian by design.

    Our flat teeth are perfect for grinding grains and vegetables, not for tearing apart animal flesh. Similarly, our hands are designed for gathering, not for flesh-ripping. Our saliva contains the enzyme alpha-amylase, the sole purpose of which is to digest the complex carbohydrates in plant foods. (This enzyme is not found in the saliva of carnivores.) Basically we have all the right apparatus to consume vegetarian products, and none of the right apparatus for flesh foods.

  8. Help end world hunger

    Every day forty thousand children on this planet needlessly starve to death. Crops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten animals raised for food. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. If everyone ate a vegetarian diet, there would be more than enough food to nourish the world’s entire population of more than 6.3 billion people. 9

  9. Have compassion for animals

    Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions. A vegetarian lifestyle awakens our spirit of compassion and guides us towards a kinder, gentler society in which we exercise a moral choice to protect animals—not exploit them.

  10. Enjoy the diverse, colorful, and delicious world of vegetarian cuisine

    Vegetarian meals can be tasty, fast, and easy. Plus, you can make any of your favorite non-vegetarian dishes by substituting with ready-made meat alternatives. There are lots of vegetarian cookbooks available as well. The Down to Earth all-vegetarian Deli is perfect when you don’t have time to cook but don’t want to compromise on taste and quality.

Burger Time!

There are certain things that I am not willing to give up. The first and foremost is chocolate, but that’s a subject for another time. Another is my right as an American citizen to have a good burger!

The other night I broke out the Foreman grill and made a delicious tofu burger. Yeah, I know, I’m not helping the commonly held belief that all vegetarians eat a buncha tofu, but when I saw this little packet for sale at the Japanese market I couldn’t resist. It just made it look so easy, I had to try it. It came out pretty good. The seasoning was really good, but I think it would have been better if I used extra firm tofu instead of firm. The firmer the tofu, the less moisture it has and the better it holds its shape. So if I try it again I’ll use extra firm. To top the burger, I used grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, avocado and micro greens. For the bun, I used these little thin buns my aunt told me about. The combination of everything  for the burger was great.

The idea for the veggie kabob came from this book, which might I mention, I bought for only $7 at Borders. I didn’t like the marinade that went with the recipe in the book though. Instead, I went with a Lemon-Herb marinade I found in my 30-Minute Vegan cookbook. I let all my veggies soak in the marinade as I was preparing the burgers. I used red onions, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, squash and put a few pieces of the tofu in the marinade as well. Since I didn’t have any skewers I just used my chop-sticks and grilled it on the Foreman. I wish you guys coulda smelled the veggie kabobs as they were cooking, it was heavenly! Mmmmmm…..

My Little Piece of Heaven

Saturday mornings are my absolute favorite. Those mornings where I have no particular place to be at any given time, I find that I am most content and at peace. Don’t get me wrong, I love each day with which God blesses me, especially Sunday because I get to fellowship with other believers, but there’s something about spending some solitary time in quiet reflection (unless the neighbor girls are out, then it’s just reflection, no quiet).

Saturdays are also the perfect time for me to try new breakfast recipes. Such was the case this morning. I had been eyeballing a recipe for Baked Plantains from my 30-Minute Vegan cookbook for quite some time. The only way that I have ever had plantains previously was fried so I wanted to see what they were like baked. I’m not sure how they are supposed to taste, but it wasn’t bad. I was a little surprised, actually. They were not nearly as sweet as bananas. In fact, it kinda had the consistency of a potato.

The recipe called for this sweet and tangy dressing made with sweetener (I use agave nectar), molasses, cinnamon, garlic, lime juice and vanilla extract. It was very good. It kinda just soaked into the plantain and the bread (made from grains, no flour, no yeast).

To top my meal off, I had a Get Your Greens smoothie, a recipe I found on Whole Foods’ website. I recently bought a Whole Grain “drink” from Trader Joe’s for the first time, so I used that as my milk substitute. In 1 cup, there are only 50 calories AND it has 3g of dietary fiber. Not bad if you ask me. Ok, back to my smoothie. Look! I even made it all fancy like they do in the pictures online and stuff. 🙂

Overall, this morning exemplifies why I absolutely love Saturday mornings. I got up, cleaned my place a little, went for my morning run, played on my Wii, tried a new recipe and now I get to share it with you. Well, not share the food; obviously I can’t do that cause I already ate all of it and it would be kinda hard to share it over the internet. But I can share the experience and that brings me a little joy and satisfaction as well. Probably more so because I get to tell you about it and show you pictures, but I keep all the food to myself. So it’s a win-win for me!

Have a beautiful day everyone!

Back to My Roots….

I love food. Anyone who knows me knows this. I love all types of food, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Peruvian, Korean… You name it, I eat it.

One of my favorites though is Japanese food. So when my co-worker asked if anyone wanted to go to the Japanese market with him during lunch, I immediately jumped on the chance. This was my opportunity to get some ingredients to make a delicious Japanese dish. Only problem is I had very little idea how to make any Japanese dishes. I was very good at eating them, but had only tried cooking tempura – once.

I went onto Whole Foods’ website (they have a useful Food Guide that I reference from time to time) and looked up sea vegetables, since they are used widely in Japanese foods. While I was browsing, I saw the perfect recipe: Wakame, Broccoli and Mushroom Saute. So while I was at the market, I picked up a packet of wakame and a package of soba noodles, which are just noodles made from buckwheat flour, to serve with my sauté.

Ok, so it just occurred to me that you might be wondering what wakame (wha-ka-may) is. If you’ve ever had miso soup, it’s likely that you’ve had wakame. It’s seaweed!**Big smile**

When you buy it, it’s dried so you have to soak it in water for about 10 minutes to rehydrate it. Once it’s rehydrated, it can be added to soups, salads, sautés, etc. Continue reading “Back to My Roots….”

Night and Day

Last night I had what I would call a bad night. It wasn’t bad because I ate a small turkey & cheese sandwich my aunt left at my place, it was bad because I ate three of these little sandwiches… and a half pound of grapes, and two bowls full of beans and salsa and some of the tortilla chips my aunt left, ALL after 9:00pm. That is what I consider a bad night. At some point, I think it was about half way through the first bowl of beans, I realized that I wasn’t actually hungry, but I couldn’t stop myself. I am almost certain that I was “emotionally eating,” I’m just not sure why. When I finally stopped eating, I tried to think about what could be causing this binge. I didn’t get too far though, I was too tired to think.

To make up for it, I decided to go for a run in the morning, clear my head. I love running in the morning. The area I live in is very hilly and it makes for a nice run.

This is the view from the top of the hill, the halfway point for my morning runs.

Anyhow, I wasn’t able to figure out exactly what was going on with me last night, but I did feel a lot better. This definitely reflected in what I ate today. After my run, I had a pineapple papaya smoothie. It was yummy, of course. Then I made a simple tabbouleh, without the bulgur, and a veggie wrap for lunch. The tabbouleh turned out pretty good, especially considering the fact that I followed the recipe very loosely.

The wrap was ok. It had red bell peppers, green bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, micro greens and alfalfa sprouts. I made my own spread out of chickpeas, dijon mustard, rice vinegar and Mrs Dash seasonings. I think I should have used apple cider vinegar, it needed some sort of sweet. Whelp, I know for next time.

Dinner, I think, was the highlight. I made mushroom sandwiches with tomato, micro greens and an avocado mayo. I had initially put alfalfa sprouts on the sandwich too, but took them off because it didn’t really go. The bread is an all grain, flourless bread from Food for Life.

I also tried making my own baked potato chips. They weren’t as crispy as I hoped because I got kinda impatient and took them out before they were done. They were still tasty though. Maybe next time I’ll cut them thinner…. or just wait till they’re done.

Overall, I’d say I had a pretty good day that makes up for the fact that I was a complete pig last night. As long as I have more days like today than nights like last night, I’ll be happy

Random List of Things I Would Do If I Had a Suga Daddy

  1. Dance again, I think I’d try ballroom this time
  2. Get an MBA
  3. Go to culinary school
  4. Spend a quarter of the year out of this country
  5. Get a teaching credential
  6. Learn piano, guitar, viola and possibly flute, drums would be fun too
  7. Buy a black 2009 Koenigsegg CCXR, mmmm…..
  8. Read all the books that I’ve been wanting to read, including the entire Jane Austen collection and most of Dickens
  9. Get an MS in Embedded Systems or something similar
  10. Start/work for a national health ministry
  11. Spend weeks at a time doing nothing but cooking
  12. Have a closet the size of my current apartment (filled with clothes of course, clothes that fit!)
  13. Go on tour as a back up singer for Jill Scott, then another tour as a backup dancer for Beyonce, then maybe do a stint on Broadway (hey, one can dream!)
  14. Get an MA in something education related
  15. Be a ____________ mom (fill in blank with some sport)
  16. Learn to sew

Okay…. this list can go on, but I’ll stop it here