Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Dirty Little Secret.... In The Produce Isle.

Have you ever thought about your produce, and where exactly it's coming from? How it was grown, and what that means to you and your body? Maybe not, but I personally believe that in this case, ignorance is not bliss.

If you want to maintain your ignorance read no further. 

 : )

The hardest part with a post like this is where to start, so I will try to stick with stuff that you have probably never heard before.

There are two lists that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiled, called the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. This is basically a list of produce that is important to buy organic, and foods that are less crucial to buy organic, due to the amount of pesticides that are found on/in them.  

Buy these organic!
According to the EWG, these are the most commonly contaminated produce items with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture, but they are not banned, so they still show up every once in a while. 

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes

Don't sweat these guys!
While it is prime to eat all organic all the time, let's face it-- it adds up! These guys contain the least traces of insecticides, so we can save a buck and shop conventional produce when it comes to the clean 15. 
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms
I could stop there, but I have one more treasure of a tip that will help save time in the produce section, and hey knowledge is power right? At least that's when my mom used to tell me.

So when you are buying your produce and you want to know what you're looking at, if it's organic or not, or if it's genetically modified just find the produce sticker!

Now here is a super easy way to remember what the different numbers mean:
3 or 4 - it's a bore 
If the produce has 3 or 4 digits, then it is just conventionally grown
9 - it's just fine 
When there are 5 digits that begin with a 9, it's organically grown
8 - we hate

When there are 5 digits that begin with an 8, it is genetically modified and you should stop drop and run.

Easy enough right? I hope you found this post helpful!
Happy shopping!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegetarian Style Sloppy Joes

So here I am again with a quirky meal for us weirdo vegetarians! Taking the classic American meal of the sloppy joe and putting spin on it to make it friendly for us with special eating needs. 
Here is what you need:
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 1 cake of firm tofu, crumbled
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes 
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • pepper
Now don't get intimidated by that list! More than half are spices that you already have in your pantry!
 So we are going to chop up our garlic and onions, and saute them in some olive oil for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and turn nice rich colors.
 Then add your bell peppers in there and let it cook for another 5 minutes, and prepare yourself..
 You're going to add everything else. The crumbled tofu, the tomatoes and tomato paste, water, and all the spices. It may look a little watery and odd, but let it simmer for 10 minutes. Taste your concoction and add any additional seasoning it may need!
Pile it on some toasted rolls, and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hassleback Potatoes

Hello friends!! Guess What this post is about? Yes, another potato recipe. I just can't get enough!
So I bring to you my twist on the trending hassle back potatoes. 
Don't they look irresistible?
What you're going to need:
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Pepper jack cheese. One of my all time favorites. I adds a subtle kick to any meal, what's not to love? But if you don't share my opinion feel free to use just about any other cheese you'd like.
 Just slice it like so, and set aside. Also not pictured is diced garlic to be used along with the cheese.
 Then wash and slice your potatoes thinly, but not all the way through.
 In those slices you are going to place a sliver of cheese, and some garlic chunks.
 When you're done place the potatoes on a prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and your salt and pepper. Bake them for 35-40 minutes (depending on the size) at 400 degrees.
And there you have it, gorgeous, delicious, easy. They go fantastic with homemade salsa on top too. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Israeli Cous Cous

Hello again my friends. Today I would like to introduce you to this wonderful little grain, cous cous. Maybe you have heard of it before, it comes in many different forms and all forms are growing in popularity. I'm going to show you an easy throw-in-whatever-you-have recipe that is great when you are needing to make dinner the night before you go the grocery store. I like to keep a box or two of Israeli cous cous for a time such as this.
Here is what I used:
  • Tri-colored Israeli Cous Cous
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
Now, I'm sure that different brands have different cooking instructions, but they all involve boiling water and adding the cous cous until it absorbs all the water. Like cooking rice.
So while that is cooking ( it usually takes about ten minutes), I like to sauté up whatever veggies I have on hand and my favorites are carrots and bell peppers. This is the throw-in-what-you-have method comes into play. Throw in an onion, throw in some garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, whatever floats your boat.

This is kale. Super food. Its pretty packed with vitamins and such, and it is pretty gnarly to eat raw, so I like to sauté it and throw it into meals wherever I can. So here i used 1/4 cup of chicken stock and cooked the kale in it until it was wilted.
Here is what the cooked up cous cous looks like. Mmmm it's making me hungry.
This is what it is supposed to look like when it's all ready.
With cous cous you can never go wrong with cheese! Unless you're lactose intolerant. In that case, I offer my deepest condolences. But I had pepper jack cheese in my fridge, but my cheese of preference for this dish in mozzarella. 

Now, while it's warm I put it all together in the pot and let the cheese melt right in there, and all the flavors collaborate.
Mix it up, put it in a bowl, or on a plate next to some good chicken breast or something. Get creative with it. Have fun and Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

I have another great potato recipe for you all!! Are you excited? I'm excited to share it with you.
This has been a favorite of mine forever. Like for-eve-rr. It's so easy too, that's number 7045 why I love this recipe. 
All you need:
  • Golden Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices
Now tell me that's not easy.
Okay, so to start we are going to boil our potatoes for 35 minutes, depending on their size. The goal is to get them nice and cooked through without being too mushy. 
 Now let's set up this little layout. A clean dishtowel folded in half longways, and I put a paper towel down to try to minimize crumbs.
 Fold over the dish towel over top of the potato, and press down until you feel it smash. I have to admit, this is my favorite part.
 If it breaks apart a little, that is just fine you can just press it back together a little, no worries.
 Put those babies on a plate, cover them, and slide them in the fridge overnight, or for a few hours.
 Now just before you start to on the rest of dinner, prepare a baking sheet with foil, and coat the potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, top and bottom. If you forget the bottom, you're going to end up with foil stuck to your tots. After the olive oil is on there real good, just sprinkle on your spices. I use sea salt, pepper, and a garlic spice mix that I also use for my garlic bread. It's deeelish.
So pop those guys into the oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until they look browned and crispy on the outside, and carry on with the rest of your meal.
 This is what they'll look like then they are good and done.
Mmmm, potato heaven. To complete this side dish I use cholula or if I have it, Homemade Salsa. Perfection.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Farmers Market and Homemade Salsa

There are few things that I love more than going to my local Farmer's market. I love incorporating all the seasonal veggies into my meals, and I love even more the time to people watch, and socialize.
 My boy accompanied me this time, and we went with an agenda: ingredients for homemade salsa!
 Just look how good everything looks! Makes me want to buy things that I don't need haha
 And these people do such a good job with their stations, I just love the atmosphere.
 Here is just a picture of my girls enjoying this beautiful fall day in San Diego.
 We got home and I went to work in the kitchen while my loved ones waited for the end result.
 Here's the lineup for today:
(all curtesy of the farmer's matket)

  • Sorrento peppers
  • Steak tomatoes
  • A Lemon
  • An Onion
  • Cilantro
  • A garlic clove

 I like my salsa a little chunky, so I dice up my veggies so that when it comes time to put all the ingredients in the food processor, it only takes a few pulses.
 There is Alex helping me squeeze the lemon juice over the ingredients.
 And we just pulsed that up. I give it 8-10 good pulses.
 And voila, all done! And I just had to show off the lovely flowers that Alex got me this weekend in the background.
There you have it! To control the level of spiciness, I have a secret. The heat comes from the seeds of the peppers, so if you want it less spicy, gut out the seeds before putting the pepper into your salsa.
So good, so refreshing.