Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vegan Fruit and Yogurt Muffins

I have tried and tried to make low fat, fat free baked goods for lil man for awhile now. Some turn out pretty good, but others don't. Subbing applesauce for oil most times leaves the baked good chewy and tough.

This past week on Week 1 of Engine 2 Diet I was CRAVING fruit muffins! I have a really good Fruit and Yogurt Muffin recipe, but not only did the muffins need to be lower fat but now egg free and dairy free.. Ok I will do my best, but I was prepared for tough and chewy muffins...

My wonderful (vegetarian) sis in law suggested a few different things for me to try and then said she made muffins the other day that turned out pretty fluffy for vegan muffins.. humm maybe worth a try. What was the secret ingredient you ask. vinegar. plain old white vinegar. SERIOUSLY?!?! What turned out with my few little tweaks were GREAT MUFFINS!! Still a little shocked at how well they turned out! Cant wait to make them again- double batch next time!

Egg-Free, Dairy-free, Low-fat Fruit and Yogurt Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from 1 lemon
1cup sugar
6oz soy yogurt (I used raspberry flavored)
1/4 cup of soy milk (together with yogurt and milk should equal 1 cup of soy milk product)
1/3 cup applesauce (I used those snack packs of applesauce so I didn't measure- just used whole thing)
1 tablespoon white vinegar (you can use cider vinegar too)
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (I used triple berry blend- make sure no sugar added)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin tin with pam spray

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and then wet ingredients in another- leaving out the fruit.

Mix wet and dry ingredients then gently add in and mix fruit.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full (I always overfill!)

Bake 20 minutes and check with toothpick.

The best thing about these muffins, like the recipe from that I enjoy, is that you can change the fruit and yogurt to anything!!! I wanted a triple berry muffin so that what I did, but you could do peach (seems to be a popular soy yogurt flavor!) Or you could do vanilla yogurt with a little orange extract (1 teaspoon) and then dried cranberries!! Yum!

If you try these please let me know how they turn out for you! After I made them and Hubby tasted and approved, he reminded me that we added vinegar to pancakes once awhile to make them fluffy- I think it was a buttermilk recipe and we didnt have buttermilk.. so I guess vinegar in cooking isn't as weird as it sounds. And no there isn't an after taste at all!!


Engine 2 Diet Week 1 Review

We have been taken over by Netflix food/health documentaries! Started with Food Inc, of course. Then Sick Fat and Nearly Dead, followed by Forks over Knives which lead us to Engine 2!

My husband, who is currently very close to having "high cholesterol" looked into several different ways to lower it. He stumbled across a few studies online (all which reappeared in Forks over Knives) and this guy, Rip Esselstyn. He's a former triathlete, which makes my husband happy that they have that in common (yes, like we know the guy personally now!) That lead us into watching his short documentary on Netflix and buying the book Engine 2 Diet and making the crazy decsion to go "plant-based" for 28days! No animal product of any sort!! Yes, no cheese! Crazy right?!?

The book has a ton of information!! Even a section on "crazy myths about food" which answers those myths- "You cant get enough protein on a plant based diet." "Carbohydrates make us fat" "You need dairy products for calcium". Its a really interesting read and the little personal stories throughout are a nice touch.

On their website Engine 2 Diet there is a ton of resources like a weekly meal plan. We printed week 1 meal plan and grocery list and were ready to go! There are some recipes on their website but not all. The book has a lot more. Though here comes my first issue with the book/program. It will suggest for dinner "Big Salad with brussel sprouts and new potatoes". Which is a perfectly fine dinner.. but the only recipe to pull up is the salad.. no mention how to cook brussel sprouts or new potatoes. Now, at our house we cook often and are comfortable in the kitchen and of course google most things if we don't know how to prepare it. But this diet has a lot of restrictions. He's not one for using alot of oil in cooking. The diet allows pam spray and suggests using veggie broth or a veggie juice instead of oil in a pan, which adds sooo much yummy flavor!! Ok, back to oils- oils are a processed form of the vegetable and instead of using a highly processed form, he'd rather have you chop olives and throw them in the dish in their natural state. So our old method of brussel sprouts was out the window! I could see how someone who is new to certain vegetables or has bad feelings towards certain ones, would be turned off by them not stating how to cook all parts of the meal!

Second thing that I was VERY shocked about was that there isn't a nutritional information guide with the recipes. You're telling me that a certain vegetable has 40% more protein than something else, but how much protein is that? Tell me how much protein the meal I am preparing has! This was a big let down for the book for me.

Even with these 2 personal hiccups week 1 was successful in our household, yes even with our 2 little ones!

Breakfast- breakfast was easy for our family. We've recently turned into a cereal fam. My husband and daughter LOVE oatmeal and they are enjoying the new grainier healthier versions. Lil man still needs some convincing on the real whole grain cereals, but he's made the adjustment from cows milk to soy milk well. It took a few days, but he's eating it in his cereal now. He would drink it from a cup before this adventure, but something about it in cereal just wasn't ok with him for a few days! We don't really do eggs often. I'm not a fan. But we have a container of egg whites in the fridge because with me pregnant and the kids we've made the choice that the 3 of us can "cheat" on the diet for breakfast and lunch if needed. Not my husband though! Our lil man gets really cranky if he doesn't get enough to eat due to low blood sugar and of course his MCAD. We want to make sure we're offering him the new foods but having back up if needed! Bagels/toast with peanut butter, fruit all good for breakfast!

Lunch- We're working on lunch... It's been interesting. I grew up LOVING a good veggie sandwich. Starts with ideally a pita pocket with cream cheese spread on the inside followed by whatever veggies you had as long as sprouts were apart of it! Yummmy!! Well being pregnant is a downer for sprouts! That's a no-no and obviously the cream cheese had to go too. So we've been having pitas and wraps with veggies galore and hummus as spread! I've been enjoying them. First few sandwiches lil miss and lil man were all in but then they wanted pb and j and other staples to lunch! This will be my challenge week 2 is to make some really great lunches! Hubby has been taking mostly leftovers and then sandwiches too. Taking things to work is harder for him since he only has a choice of a microwave and not a kitchen to prepare.

Dinner- We do a big chef type salad probably once a week anyway, so the salads weren't an issue, but the tofu.. It's just a challenge to think that the tofu is going to taste good. But once you have a good meal that satisfies with tofu in it, it kinda changes your mind! There was a dinner this week I kept putting off and putting off.. "meat"loaf... I did not grow up with meatloaf. I know there are people out there that love their meatloaf and I've been told several times that they have a great recipe I should try. Not sure I really want to, but thanks for the offer! But Hubby and I said we'd stick to dinners for the 28 days and that meant fake meatloaf week 1! (split pea soup week 2...) We had it Thursday night so we had time to fix something else if it was a complete disaster. Well it wasn't!! It was good! And flavorful! And the kids asked for seconds!!! Yes, seconds!!! Now it didn't stick together well (learned that old fashion oats aren't quick oats) but it didn't matter it was good! The book's chalupas were good, their portabello mushroom burgers were good! It was an overall good week for dinners. Yes, there was some hiccups with the kids and not wanting to eat fake/pretend looking chicken strips, but I don't blame them!

Overall, I'm excited for week 2! There is some more tex-mex food which we love and some other dishes I'm interested to see how they turn out. Though I am not looking forward to split pea soup...

If you haven't seen the documentaries I mentioned up above, look into them, watch them. Might make you want to do something drastic like us, or maybe just add in a vegan/plant-based meal once a week.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Trying to figure out Quinoa

Quinoa is the new craze in the foodie world! It's highly nutritional and contains a ton of protein for a "grain-like" food. I thought it was a grain until I wikipedia serached it and found out it's chenopod(?) which makes it close to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds?!? (yumm tumbleweeds... :-/  )

But I figured we need to add it into our diet and try out some different recipes with it. We basically made it like rice, tossed some veggies in a few times, just experimented but every time we made it the kids would barely touch it.. MY kids, the ones who devour rice and enjoy couscous so much! Great.. of course it's because it's healthy isn't it?!?

Came across another RECIPE I wanted to try with it- what if I attempt to hide it in the food!! :-) So I re-googled "how to cook quinoa" and came across this website How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly Well if he claims this is the perfect way why not give it a try. Then I started reading the article and it's common to cook quinoa like rice (a 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid). Well he does 1 part quinoa to 1.25 part liquid! Maybe that's the key! So too scared to cut the liquid down that much I modified and it turned out PERFECTLY! Way better texture! You can go to the link above and read about quinoa and different ways to cook it or you can read below how I did it using less water than I was before.

Perfect Quinoa
1cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup water

If you got your quinoa from the bulk section (normally best price) make sure you rinse it in a mess colander before cooking. I didn't soak mine before hand- just a quick rinse with cold water.

Add rinsed quinoa and water to a pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to low simmer. Cook 30mintues.

Uncover and fluff with a fork and tada!

(I didn't measure the end product but from what I read online 1 cup dry makes 3 cups cooked. that seems about right for mine. I used 2cups in a recipe and have some leftover still.)


Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups from Iowa Girl Eats!

Ok you know you stumble across a food blog that just has the best photos and the food looks soo yummy!?! This post isn't going to be one of those but the recipe below is slightly modified from a blog like that! :-)

Last night I attempted to sneak quinoa into a dish to see if my kids would actually eat it this time! And they did!! They loved the little "ham and cheese cupcakes"! Here is the original recipe from Iowa Girl Eats Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups I followed the recipes almost to a 'T'! Only things I changed was added some diced orange bell pepper and dried parsley not fresh because I dont stock that in my fridge! I'll type it out below but head over to her blog and check it out!

With cooking my quinoa (THIS WAY) these little cups turned out great! (Though I learned a lesson to not use cupcake liners!! Does not work! Hence no pictures of my cute mini cups!)

Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups
2 cups cooked quinoa (see this post for directions)
2 eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup zucchini- shredded
1/4 cup bell pepper finely diced (basically 1 cup total of veggies)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar blend)
1/2 diced ham
2 TB Parmesan cheese
1 green onion- finely sliced
a few shakes of dried parsley, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients except quinoa Then add in the quinoa.

Generously spray a cupcake pan (you can easily do them in a regular sized cupcake pan- we did half mini and half regular)

Fill the cups to the top with the mixture.

Bake 15-20 for mini's  20-25 for regular sized. (time may vary) Remove once browning on top and around edge.

Check out her Great Food Blog! Love her stuff! Iowa Girls Eats! (her photo not mine!)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Best Slow-Cooker Pot Roast!

Ok the title seriously says it all! BEST pot roast and in a SLOW COOKER!! Whats better?!?
I know I've been posting a lot of vegetarian meals lately and we are continueing our health kick but every once in awhile I crave amazing red meat!! I just do.. cant help it! A great steak, hamburger (real not fast food) and super yummy roast!

Randomly came across this recipe when we were gifted some meat from a friend's hunting trip. It's orginally for venison, but regular old beef pot roast works great!

Best Pot Roast
3lbs beef roast
1 package of french onion soup dry mix
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Large onion- sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic
Olive oil for pan
Carrots (optional)

1. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Take some of the dry soup mix and rub it over the meat. Then brown the meat on all sides.

2. Add meat to slow-cooker. Top with onions, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce.

3. Mix together remaining dry soup mix and cream of mushroom soup. Pour over meat. Top with carrots if you are adding. Salt, pepper and garlic.

4. Cover. Cook on low 6-7 hours

5. Take out to rest 10mins (if you are that patient) then slice. Reserved liquid is a GREAT gravy!!


Vegetarian Burritos- Yumm!

I have found a new recipe that I make AT LEAST once a week. It is so yummy and filling and low cost (big plus!)

My "foodie" board on pinterest is insanely full of recipes and now I have started a "vegan and veggie" board which is filling up fast. I came across two different burrito recipes that were meat-free for my husband and kind of mixed them together to make a super awesome burrito! Burrito inspiration recipe #1 Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas and Burrito inspiration recipe #2 Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos. Either of these would be amazing I think! But one, I have little ones that don't do spicy! And two I really wanted to add the extra veggies and rice to the burritos so coming up with my own little recipe turned out well for our family!

Vegetarian Burritos
1 small onion-chopped
1 bell pepper (you choose color)-chopped
2 garlic cloves- diced
A handful of mushrooms- chopped
15oz can of black beans- drained and rinsed
Small can of green chilies (my kids sometimes feel these are too spicy but really only if they see them!)
Taco seasoning (I just add a few dashes of cumin, onion powder, chili powder and oregano) But here is a link for how to make your own Taco Seasoning
Olive oil to slightly coat pan
Rice- either prepare your own or use leftover rice! Our family makes 1cup dry rice for these tacos, which yields about 3 cups cooked.
6 flour tortillas- burrito size
Shredded cheese
Choice of toppings- cheese, chopped lettuce, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, salsa

1. heat large skillet with a little olive oil. Toss in your onion and garlic. Let them get soft for a few mins. Then toss in peppers and mushrooms.

2. Once the veggies are to the tenderness of your choice (I like my peppers with still a little crunch) then toss in black beans, green chilies and seasonings.

3. Fill your burritos with rice, bean mixtures, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and avocado (whatever else you choose) and tad-da! Super yummy filling meat-free dinner for you family!!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Turkey Wraps

I LOVE a good slow cooker recipe! Throw things into a giant pot you plug in and get on with your day! This recipe we've done several times over the past few months! It's easy and you are able to change things around to whatever you have on hand and it still turns out great!
The original recipe comes from Betty Crocker. I'll explain how I've changed it to fit our liking.

Slow Cooker Turkey Wraps

2lbs turkey breast cut into strips. (you can use chicken too!)
1 onion sliced
3/4cup bbq sauce
2 tb taco seasoning mix

8 flour tortillas
avocado, sliced
lettuce, sliced
fresh bell peppers sliced (original recipe calls for canned roasted peppers- not a fan in this household. plus fresh add a great crunch!)
shredded cheese (optional)
Bacon (optional) we normally leave out the bacon to keep it lower fat

1. Pour a little olive oil into a skillet and brown the turkey a little with the onion. This step is very fast. If you choose to use bacon brown it in skillet first then remove bacon and fat and then add turkey and onions.

2. Put turkey and onions into crocpot and cover with bbq sauce and taco seasoning.

3. Cook on low for 5-6hours

4. Take out turkey and shred then return it to crocpot.

5. Wrap tortillas in wet paper towel and heat in microwave until warm, I usually go in 30sec intervals flipping them every 30secs.

6. Start filling the wrap with your topping choices.

We make these fun for the kids and let them add their toppings. I think it makes them eat whatever recipe it is, better when they get to help. For me I normally make one wrap and then make a little 'side' salad with the veggies and turkey, just basically no wrap. So if you're trying to get away from so many carbs that would be a good option.

(you can see that I devoured the wrap and went back for seconds with a salad!)

Eat Right for Your Blood Type

Happy New Year! Yes, a few weeks late! This holiday season was CRAZY for our family! We took a very long vacation to visit family and took a road trip to get there. We're finally back and settled back into reality.

This year isn't going to be about diets for myself or my husband. It's going to be all about feeling great! I was introduced to the book Eat Right for Your Blood Type years ago. I tried to get my husband on board a few times but of course it has to be their idea, right?!? Well we borrowed the book and are digging in!

This book is all about how the different blood types evolved over time and the areas of the world where they are more predominate and how body chemistry is different for everyone depending on your blood type. Interesting huh?!? Even for you "not-into-it" people out there, healthy eating is never bad! This book isn't extreme and we're not living every ounce of food by it. Just a healthier approach to the meals we're cooking.

Well of course my husband and I are the complete opposites! I'm O blood type, the most common as are both kiddos and he's A. Which of course means I do well on red meats and he does best on vegetarian foods. So we're experimenting a lot with vegetarian foods lately and how to make some of our favorite recipes better for him. And I'm trying not to feel guilty eating more red meat than he is!

I'm excited about what this year holds for our family and the new foods we're going to be trying out.