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Category Archives: Food!

Explorations in food

Yesterday was a cooking, baking, and preserving day.  I am gratefully buried in apples and grapes, from my mother’s wonderfully abundant garden, and the last of my tomatoes-some red, some green.  My children and I talked, wrote, and completed mathematical calculations while entrenched in wonderful smells.  We dried apple slices and baked apple cakes.  I made sweet green chili/tomatillo salsa, reminicent of the wonderful salsa Bajio served (before being bought out and closed by another chain-darn it!).  It turned out perfectly, even with my dump and mix method.  My proportions are large, because I was using up my harvest, but you can cut it down to size, I suppose.  (Mental math is a great brain anti-aging technique so it’ll do you good.  Yes, this is me loving you, while taking the easy way out!)

Then I got a little adventurous recreating a Bajio salad.  The original salad had honey-lime chicken, and since 3/4 of my crew is non-veg, I made some up too.  The salad can be made completely raw (without the meat), but I cooked my sweet salsa because I wanted to bottle it (freezing would work).  I will add pictures when I can, but for now, here are my recipes:

“Bajio-(don’t)-wanna-be-sweet- green-chili-chicken-salad”

Chopped romaine lettuce

a couple of wedged tomatoes (only if in season and flavorful)

Cooked black beans

Sweet Green Chili Salsa

About 1 gallon green tomatoes

3 quarts tomatillos

3-27 oz cans HATCH’s mild green roasted chilis (If you have fresh chilis, that is fantastic!)

1 squeezy lime (I used this out of convenience, yet 5 or 6 nice, juicy large limes would  work).

4-4.5 cups sugar

3 T onion powder

1T kala geera or cumin seeds, crushed (I used Kala geera as a substitute for standard cumin because I thought it would be softer, and I liked the effect!)

1 bottle cilantro (two ounces or so) or 1 bunch fresh

1 t. black pepper

Place tomatoes and tomatillos in pot with water just covering them.  Cook on medium-high heat until tender and ready to pop, stirring frequently.  Skins will curl back.  Use the back of a large spoon to pop the fruits and let them cook a few more minutes.  Add other ingredients and stir well.  Reduce head and simmer until cooked down nearly to desired consistency.  Remove from heat; cool until manageable.  Transfer small batches to food processor and blend thoroughly until desired consistency (I like mine fairly small with minimal chunks).  If bottling, return to heat while preparing bottles so salsa stays hot.

Honey-lime chicken

6 chicken breasts

¾ cup honey

1 cup lime juice

Bake slowly, 325 until cooked thoroughly and juices run clear; shred

Creamy Cilantro dressing

2 T. vinegar

Dash of dill

3 C. sesame seeds

1/2 T lime juice

1 t. garlic powder

½ olive oil

5 c water

1 bunch fresh cilantro

salt to taste

place all ingredients except cilantro into blender (vitamix or blendtech) and process on whole juice mode for about 1 minute; adjust water and salt content as desired; stir in finely chopped cilantro.  (It could be buzzed in with everything else, giving it a nice green color throughout.)

Caramelized corn and onions

1 package frozen sweet corn

1 ½ large yellow onions, chopped small

½ tsp. black pepper

½ c water for steaming

½ c honey

Steam veggies in water until nearly tender, then add honey
and pepper and saute until caramelized

Put it together:

To a bed of romaine lettuce, add one scoop (1/4 cup) of cooked, drained black beans, shredded chicken (if desired), caramelized corn and onions, and wedged tomatoes (if fresh).  Drizzle liberally with cilantro dressing, then with sweet green chili salsa.  Serve with soft tortillas, fresh corn chips, olives, (sour cream), (cheese), and guacamole.  Yum!

Notes on veg./ raw substitutions:  my dressing is raw.  these proportions make about 6 cups, which my family can go through easily in a week on salads.  Half or quarter for a smaller group.  I love this because it is non-dairy (for me) yet provides creamy-ness and cilantro for the salad.  My raw version does not include chicken, tortillas, cheese, or honey in the recipes;  I replace the honey with raw, organic blue agave because it produces a smaller glycemic punch.  When I want something sweet, this combo is very nurturing.  The beans, sesame seeds, and oils provide vitamins and minerals that leave me feeling satisfied and energized.  I don’t eat beans often, but every now and then, this hits the spot.

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My repurposed dish- Italian gone raw

I have been so busy and exhausted lately that my diet has been simply smoothies at home and spoonfuls of almond butter when I am on the run.  Yes, smoothies!  The green, the creamy, the fruity- whatever I am in the mood for when hunger strikes.  Smoothies are great because I sneak in so much nutrition- Deep greens, fresh fruit, nuts, and healthy oils; I can make them a little ahead, or at the last-minute, and they take only a few minutes to prepare.  Stored in a glass jar, they last for a day or so in the fridge.

However, lately I have struggled with the smells of comfort food.  Cooking lasagna, yet not snitching any bites, downing a smoothie while everyone else is chowing down on pizza.  Sweets don’t bother me a bit, but the bread smells and all the traditional dishes seem tempting!  I am grateful I’ve been past the point in recovery that my new health and lifestyle seem familiar and I know I have yet to see the end of improvement.  I don’t miss feeling poorly, becoming sick easily, or not losing weight while I “busted my tush” because I had allergy issues and hormone imbalances defeating even my most diligent efforts.  (Self-efficacy: my newly acquired sense of self-propulsion.  It’s a good thing!)  I’ve learned I don’t need to live with frustration, self-guilt, and blah,  I usually feel so good that I do not feel I am “withstanding” anything, yet the last few days….wo is me!

Well, I finally pulled out all my raw recipe books (ordered back in late February) and decided I could explore a little more.  First, I tried a raw, dark fudge-walnut brownie.  Pretty good.  I’magonna work out my own version.  Monday night, while I was cramming in work on a project for school, I was bombarded with the smells and sounds of the children making the home made pizzas.  I thought I would set them up, leave the room,  and immerse myself in the project so I wouldn’t think of food.  I drank down a large smoothie, so I wasn’t physically hungry.  I even appreciated the fact that this new blend was pretty yummy.  Three hours later, with the smell lingering in the house, I could not take the torture any longer.  I ran into the kitchen and pulled out an emergency ration of wheat/gluten/yeast-free flour and made up a pizza crust.  I topped it with cashew ricotta with a bit of basil and oregano in it, some sliced, fresh tomatoes straight out of my garden, and some fresh basil, spinach leaves, olives, and thin slices of onion.  It was wonderful (though not completely raw).

Tuesday, it was raw lasagna.  I modified a recipe I found in Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis.   I wish I could broadcast the smells coming from my kitchen through this blog!  Cashew Ricotta, Cashew/basil/spinach pesto, fresh tomato sauce, and fresh tomato slices layered between layers of zucchini squash “noodles”.  I hear son #2’s skeptical voice saying, “But its cold!”  I ask you, have you ever eaten left-over lasagna straight out of the fridge?  Well, this is better.  It could be warmed in a dehydrator- (raw cooks warm things slowly in dehydrators to preserve more nutrients)- but I liked it the way it was.  Vibrant colors and fresh, full flavors!  Served it to those of my children who would give it a try, and they all liked it.  A few days later, I took a dish  over to my parents’ home and shared it with them- winner, winner!

I have had a couple of friends and relatives ask, “So, do you feel like you constantly have to talk yourself into thinking whatever you make tastes the same as ‘the real thing’?”  My  answer is no!  I would never trick myself into believing raw pizza is the same thing as Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, or Little Caesar’s.  However, those offer something completely different.  When I ate that way, I weighed somewhere around 200 pounds!  I was always congested, had stomach problems, could never lose weight, and never felt full for more than an hour or so.  I had skin problems, and a poor self-image.  I will not claim that eating raw was a cure-all; I have other things going on in my body.  I will say that this has been a big step toward me becoming vibrant and healthy, losing weight (a lot of it), and feeling well.  I taste much more and have more variety in the foods I choose than I did before.  I also like the social aspects of eating vegan.  I do not condemn the consumption of animal products on moral grounds because I believe there are times and places where they present the best viable options for the people who will consume them.  However, I believe the standard American diet (and probably other countries have picked up America’s bad habits here) contain way too much.  Because animal products are so heavily relied upon, Americans consume fewer micro-nutrients, but use more land,water, and other resources producing beef and other animal-based foods.  I do believe as a socially conscious individual, I can make a difference by limiting the amount of animal products I consume, and in turn I will gain better balance within myself and support production of foods that use fewer resources and give more back- to those who eat them and to the land from which they are harvested.  If I needed them, I would eat them; but I don’t so I am not.

So, for now, my large ceramic baking dish has been repurposed!  It is an un-baking dish, a serving dish, the receptacle for all things delicious and nutritious.

Hope everyone is eating well and taking care of themselves!

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Thai Coconut-curry chicken

This recipe came from a nine-year old memory and my desperate need for something to eat that had a little “oomph” in it tonight.  The memory is of eating in a small San Diego Thai restaurant to which my brother, Bob, took me while I visited for a weekend all those years ago.  I have not experimented much with Thai food: #1- I had fish sauce while pregnant with Joshua 18 years ago and never recovered from it (shudder), and #2 I do not eat out often at all because I do not have the moolah!

Well, back to the present!  I have systematically taken all starch, all dairy, all yeast, and everything else to which I am allergic (including most beans) out of my diet.  I am not eating much meat either; two small portions of meat in 3 1/2 weeks.  Anyway, I am loving that my body is healing and I am finally gaining some strength back.  I think my kidneys will forgive me for the grief I have given them over the past year or so, which is nice to feel.  But tonight I needed something apart from my green smoothies and salads, sprouted seeds.  So, in to the kitchen for a whirlwind splurge!  Yum, yum!  Joshua approves, too~  What is it, you ask?

My new version of Thai Coconut-curry chicken.  I eat it as is (because carbs are verboten; a.k.a. bad for blood sugar); however, those who are allowed the pleasure could serve it over sticky rice, steamed rice, or with noodles.  Imagine the possibilities….

So, here goes:  Thai Coconut-curry chicken- by Shoshannah Turner

1 tablespoon oil I use EV coconut oil, but olive oil, peanut oil, or any other kind works

1 can Coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste, according to taste- I like more!

1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces

4 or 5 thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup shredded coconut- I use the natural, unsweetened, unsulfured variety.  (I buy it in bulk bins at good earth and it is no more expensive than the grocery store variety.)

4 or 5 thinly sliced green onions

1 carrot, finely shredded

1 can of water chestnuts or bamboo shoots (or both!)

6 large handfuls of fresh spinach

This is so easy:

First,

In a large saute pan, toss the small pieces of chicken into the oil and cook on medium heat until cooked through (no pink).

Add coconut milk and curry and give it a good stir so the paste is mixed well.  Let this simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors blend, then toss in coconut, water chestnuts/bamboo shoots, celery, carrots, and green onions.

When this is warm and beginning to soften (I like my veggies crisp), toss in the spinach.  I tear the leaves a bit.  I toss them only long enough to slightly warm them, not to the point that the spinach cooks.  And, it is ready.  Creamy, warm, soothing, and amazingly delicious.

My pan makes enough for 2 people if eaten plain; easily 3 if served with rice or pasta.

Variation:  For a vegetarian option, just make sans chicken breast!  This creates a wonderful, warm, and yummy treat!

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