Sunday, February 23, 2014

Whole Grain Mix - multiple uses!

I love having this whole grain toasty mix on-hand to make mini yogurt pies, granola, granola bars, to sprinkle on yogurt, cereal and oatmeal and add to muffins and other baked foods.

Roasting the grains brings out their amazing flavors and gives them a crisp that makes them pop when you eat them.

You can mix and match grains of your choosing - follow your intuition with cooking time, checking and stirring the first 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes thereafter.  This will ensure you won't over bake the grains giving them a charred taste.

Jenny's Whole Grain Mix
1 cup oatmeal (I love Bob's Red Mill thick cut)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of any or all of the following, raw and unsalted grains/seeds/rice: quinoa (red or white), steel cut oats, pepitas, chia seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds (make sure they are FRESH!)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  (350 degrees if you are willing to keep a close watch!)

Spread all ingredients on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in preheated oven.  After 10 minutes stir grains to ensure even roasting and place back in oven.  Repeat the stirring of ingredients every 5 minutes until you can smell the grains and the oatmeal is slightly golden.  This takes about 15-20 minutes.

Recently I made mini yogurt and berry pies:

Yogurt parfaits:

Nut-Free granola and granola bars:

 In Berry Crepes for Breakfast:
The possibilities are endless - let me know how you use it!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vegetable Bits and Pieces

After a long week of work and school, I have random pieces of this and that in my fridge - nothing large enough to make a sizable dish on its own.  I took everything out of the vegetable bins - pitched a couple unidentifiable slimers found in tiny tupperware and baggies - and surveyed the fresh bits and pieces waiting for inspiration.

Earlier this morning I sat beside a nice couple at my son's basketball game.  They were having a conversation about preparing healthy meals for the next 30 days.  I couldn't help myself and joined in their conversation.  Before too long I was sharing a recipe and they were telling me about preparing a delicious kale salad.  With a few stalks of kale on the counter in front of me, my mind was made up - chopped vegetable salad for lunch!

Chopped Vegetable Salad
A couple stalks of curly kale (I had intended to sauté or make chips with them, but we ended up giving the guinea pigs half the bunch during the week), 1/2 a bunch of parsley (I love tabouli, so all of that went in), 1/8 of a small head of red cabbage, 1/4 orange bell pepper, 1 "vine-ripened" tomato, 1 tablespoon of sweet onion, beets, 1/2 a medium zucchini, and a lime that really needed to be used.  I minced the onion and parsley, chopped everything else (excluding the lime) fairly small and tossed everything together in a large bowl.  I had small amounts of 2 vinaigrettes - just basic vinaigrettes - one made with balsamic vinegar and one with apple cider vinegar and fresh thyme.  Together they made a terrific dressing for the chopped salad.

Those bits and pieces made A LOT - too much for lunch - I used about 1/3 of the chopped vegetables for the salad.  What to do with the rest was easy…save it.

Save your bits and pieces - advice from my own mama.  When I was growing up my mother always kept a Cool Whip container (the Cool Whip had long since been eaten) in the freezer.  Every time we had a spoonful of vegetables leftover from dinner - usually too small for a decent portion, Mom would throw them in the Cool Whip Container and place it back in the freezer.  When the container became full, it was time to work her magic - homemade vegetable soup; sometimes homemade beef vegetable soup.

That soup - either kind - was delicious and I can remember how proud I was for wanting more vegetable soup - how healthy I was!  As I grew, my preferences changed and I can remember crushing crackers in the soup at times and very often during my teens dumping loads of cheddar cheese on top; my mom's homemade croutons were also a delicious addition.

The Cool Whip-vegetable soup tradition continues in my home, minus the Cool Whip container.  Currently I'm using a 2-quart plastic tub you can purchase at the grocery store beside the resealable bags.  I put tiny vegetable leftovers in there, the last splash of stock, a dab of tomato sauce, the liquid left after steaming vegetables, etc.

1/3 of the chopped salad (minus the dressing) went in the soup container

The last 1/3 went into a container in the fridge - I'll probably sauté it and use it in an omelet tomorrow morning.

My vegetable bins are clean and ready for a new supply this weekend, my soup container is almost full, lunch was spectacular and I'm looking forward to that omelet.  Not bad for the bottom of the vegetable bin!