Obsessed, Ed 7. “SodaStream”

I admit it– I have a vice.

Okay, okay, so I probably have more than one, but the one that feels the most unhealthy is my diet coke “addiction”.

English: Diet Coke Products

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I enjoy it so much that, aside from one year in college, I haven’t even tried support groups or diet coke cessation programs.

…at least not yet.

But, as I become more focused on natural foods and a whole food approach to eating, this habit seems like a glaring contradiction to the rest of my lifestyle, especially as researchers are finding more possible concerns to be aware of with diet soda

So, I found a new obsession…

Soda Stream

Soda Stream (Photo credit: shareski)

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Healthy Fried Rice

Although this may come as a surprise to many of you, there are days when I don’t feel like cooking. Days when I’m tired or I still have a lot to do after dinner, the thought of taking a lot of time and energy to put a dish together just doesn’t sound enticing at all.  I often have this feeling after a day of hiking or skiing. And that’s how I felt recently upon returning from the mountains having put in a full, hard day of playing on the slopes.

On those nights, if I don’t have frozen soup on hand, recipes like this one are a blessing. This dish is quick, filling, adaptable and healthful.  And, since it’s chock full of veggies, protein and healthy carbs, you can serve it as a stand-alone dish without having to think about sides.

The recipe comes from the New York Times “Recipes for Health” Section. Like the majority of my recipes, I have made this one my own, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. Add shrimp in place of the tofu or some lightly toasted slivers of nori (seaweed)–delish. Switch out the veggies for what you have on hand. Try making it with soba or rice noodles (just scramble most of the egg mixture separately and add the remainder with the noodles–then toss it all together).

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Obsessed, Ed. 6 “Farm-Fresh Eggs”

I used to think my brother was crazy.

Years ago when his roommate decided to raise chickens in the backyard of their Boulder, CO rental house…and he allowed it… I may have chuckled to friends at what I saw as an absurd… and possibly disastrous endeavor.

But, that was then, and over the years my position on “urban-farming” including chicken raising has evolved. And I’m not the only one. As many people search for alternatives to buying commercial eggs that are perhaps kinder to the animals providing our food, cities across the US are now allowing urban dwellers to have chickens, and in the case of Denver, you can also keep goats in your backyard.

I would say that I am envious of my brother at this point. He has since moved back to the midwest, but he and his girlfriend continue to raise hens for their eggs. I recently talked to him about his adventures in all things poultry and below you will find tips from him and his girlfriend about their experiences thus far in chicken-rearing.

But, for the time being at least, keeping pet chickens is not possible for me so the info provided below is just that…information. If you are in my boat, but would still like to find an alternative to buying eggs at the supermarket trucked in from large company farms across the US, don’t fret. At the bottom of this post, I’ll provide you with a few alternative ways to locate and buy (or perhaps barter) farm fresh eggs from local, backyard “suppliers”.

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Mayo-Free Crab Cakes

I love crab cakes. But I hate feeling guilty about eating them so I only order them occasionally when I’m out. Traditionally mayo, butter and white bread fill these little patties dulling their nutrition profile along with their flavor.

Not only is this adaptation of traditional crab cakes nearly mayonnaise free, but the crab cakes are also baked rather than the traditional preparation of pan frying that only adds to the fat count.

The result? Crispy, light crab cakes with loads of crab and red pepper flavor that go perfectly with poached eggs and asparagus for a quick “benedict-style” breakfast.

You could also serve these on a whole grain bun with mustard for a lunch or in mini form as an appetizer. For a different twist, try using the crab cake mixture to stuff cremini mushroom caps and bake, then serve as party appetizers. Anyway you prepare these, you can feel good about serving them to family members and guests knowing that indulging doesn’t have to mean unhealthy food!

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DIY Yogurt in 10 Simple Steps

I have been excited about making my yogurt since going to a fermentation demonstration for date night a few months back. Before some of you roll your eyes while imagining me dragging my boyfriend to a “boring” class on how to something else kind of “crunchy”, I should say that the activity was HIS idea (and a great one at that) and we both found the class to be not only informative, but also really interesting… and the resulting foods rather tasty which was a nice bonus!

The class was led at Denver Botanic Gardens by the owners of Five Points Fermentation. The couple is really knowledgeable about the fermentation process and they both had a way of explaining it that made it seem very accessible to any home cook.  I got so excited that I made my first batch of fermented food, sauerkraut, the very next evening.  But, it has taken me a few months to start making my own yogurt and I must say, I’m sorry I waited so long!

Yogurt making is a simple, straightforward process that only involves two ingredients, a few tools, and a little patience.

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Chickenless Tortilla Soup

On a recent trip to California to visit my sister and her family, she and I had the chance to cook together, which is always fun. But, with an energetic two-year-old and a newborn in the house, we did not have the time to linger over a pot for hours. As is true in many households, it is as difficult as it is important to get a healthy, fresh dinner on the table every night.

So, when my sister ran across this recipe for tortilla soup in the December issue of Sunset magazine, its simple ingredients and straightforward, quick preparation and cook time, along with its ease in accommodating different eating styles:

– chicken + more veggies = vegetarian version – cheese = vegan version

These easy alterations made the dish perfect for a family dinner.

The soup turned out delicious and filling and the short prep/cooking time left plenty of time for baths and bedtime stories.

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Banana-Oatmeal Cookies

Okay, so it’s been somewhat of a “bananapalooza” in my house recently. We’ve made banana pancakes, banana-almond butter sandwiches, banana gelato, you get the picture–I’m on a banana kick. And for good reason. Bananas are sweet and tasty, filling and have a large amount of potassium which you need to prevent shin splints while running (oh does that take me back to my one season of “soccer”–quotes necessary– in high school) and to help you recover quickly after a strenuous workout so you can get back out there relatively pain free. Potassium is also great for your cardiovascular system.

Now that I’ve justified my banana craze, let’s get down to the real reason I am making these cookies– they are delectable! They are a delicious version of a cakey chocolate chip cookie, but full of whole grain, low in added sugar and at only 62 calories a cookie, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to whip up a batch. Speaking of, these cookies only take a few minutes to prepare and after I’ve baked them and let them cool, I freeze them on a sheet and store them in my baked goods freezer bin in a ziploc. They make the perfect after dinner treat for kids…and they even make you feel okay about letting them have seconds on dessert once in a while. This recipe would be easy to double as well.

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Kale & Mushroom Polenta Pie

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I got this pie plate as a birthday gift from a cousin with exceptional taste. And, although I love it, I am pretty sure my two-and-a-half year old nephew could count high enough to reach the total number of sweet pies I have made in my life. But, I have refused to let that one little detail reduce this beautiful dish to a life of collecting dust in my cabinet.

I often find myself drawn to healthy, savory pies and tarts purely with the thought of serving it in this dish.  Crustless quiche, lasagna pie, baked vegetable gratin,summertime tomato pie, and numerous versions of this polenta pie have all been baked to (near) perfection in this little ceramic pie plate.

The polenta pie started with a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. I have changed it a little and used the easy “crust” as a base for many other savory dishes because it’s tasty and much healthier than a traditional pie crust.  Now I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t stop with savory pies… sweet cinnamon apple polenta pie sounds pretty tasty too…

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Healthy, Hearty Banana Pancakes

Jack Johnson says in his song, “We can sleep in, I’ll make you banana pancakes, and pretend it’s the weekend now.” This sentiment sums up the indulgent, over-the-top feeling I get when I sit down to a plate of pancakes.  It just feels sinful!  But, with this recipe, you can “indulge” while knowing that you are still feeding your body in a nourishing, won’t weigh you down all day, way. These pancakes are a great breakfast to eat before a day hike or training run.

Or, just because…

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Easy Peasy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Whether you have jumped on the brussels-sprout bandwagon, or you still consider yourself “brussel-phobic”, I urge you to try this recipe.

Nearly everyone I have made these for has been won over by the crunchy, salty-sweet flavor these mini cabbages take on during the roasting process. The flavor is only enhanced by the nuttiness a sprinkle of pine nuts in the last few minutes of cooking adds to the dish. These tender morsels make a great side for a weekday dinner or for entertaining. I have even been known to make them for myself as a main course on a night when I don’t feel like cooking.

The best part of this recipe is that it is easy!  A few minutes of prep and 20 or so minutes in the oven and the dish is ready to go with minimal fuss!


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