Aug 062014
 

When the heat wave hit Portland (high 90’s) I decided I wanted to get one of those plastic kiddy pools for Bella. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find anything! I ended up going to 5 different stores and they were all sold out (or only had the inflatable pools that Bella would pop in one second).

One evening I was driving home from work through Sellwood and spotted a pool outside a hardware store. I immediately pulled over and ended up buying the last pool they had! It BARELY fit in my car. I was so excited! I took it home and couldn’t wait for Bella to frolic in the pool and cool down.

pool2

Yeah, I apparently just bought a giant water dish. That above photo is Bella drinking out of her pool. :P We keep trying to get her to play in it but she won’t. I don’t get it. It’s almost 100 degrees out and you’d think she’d love it. I sent a video of her drinking out of it to her foster mom, Jen. She promptly sent me a picture from last summer when Bella played in her pool! So I know she likes them, why won’t she get in our pool?!?

pool1

Maybe by the end of summer she’ll be into the pool. Anyways, on to dinner.

Despite it being a hot summer day and a cold salad or seafood would have been more appropriate, I was craving homemade marinara sauce and gnocchi. When I got home from work I started to simmer the sauce immediately. I added some fresh oregano and rosemary from my garden, too, with a splash of red wine. While the sauce was simmering, Michael and I took Bella for a long walk. It was stifling outside.

When we got back from the walk I cooked the beef with a chopped up onion and added that to the sauce. The recipe called for it to simmer for about 2 hours, or longer, and I’d say it cooked for about 1.5 hours before we ended up eating. Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6

Calories per serving: 260

From: http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/great-grandmas-pasta-sauce/

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef OR 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 1 24 oz. jar tomato puree
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, saute garlic until soft and fragrant in 2 tbsp. of olive oil, about 2 minutes.
  2. Throw your meat in with the garlic and brown until meat has been thoroughly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the tomato paste, tomato puree, and seasoning, including the fresh basil. Stir to mix well. With the 6 oz. can from the tomato paste, fill that with water and pour it in the stockpot as well.
  4. Let mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2 or more hours (the longer the better, but minimum 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot over fresh pasta.
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While I liked the sauce a lot (it was thick and creamy), it could have used some more garlic and maybe some more salt. Other than that I enjoyed it. I made some gluten free spaghetti for Michael and I had gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (I love that stuff).

While everything was finishing up I made a salad and dressing from scratch. I know that’s not a big deal but I rarely make my own dressing and I really want to try and do this more often. It’s pretty easy and you can make it any way you want, really.

dressing

I mixed up this dressing, using a Pomegranate balsamic in the recipe. It made enough for both of us to have a salad and there’s some leftover for maybe two more salads. Here is the recipe:

Balsamic Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup balsamic
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or agave
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a tightly closed bottle and shake thoroughly. Shake before each use.

Salad was greens, grape tomatoes and orange peppers. I loved the dressing. It was mild and delicious. I’m definitely going to experiment with more homemade dressings. I found a few that sounded really good on Pinterest using Greek yogurt as a base.

salad1

 

Dinner was served! I topped the sauce with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I love gnocchi. I’m not a huge pasta eater but gnocchi is fantastic! (One of these days I will try and make my own…) I opened a bottle of Claret wine to go with dinner and it a nice combination.

spaghetti1

 

claret

There was enough pasta sauce leftover that I have enough for some leftovers and then I froze the rest for another evening when I crave this but don’t have 2 hours in me to cook…

What is your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe?

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Aug 282013
 

The internet is rife with buzzwords. Paleo, low carb, superfoods, organic…the list goes on and on. One of my biggest annoyances lately is the buzzword “Clean Eating.” Why is it annoying me? Because half the time when I click on a website talking about the topic, I roll my eyes at their definition of clean eating. Example: I found a website boasting the best “clean eating” recipe for a dip and then showed pictures of pre-made guacamole in a box! What’s wrong with fresh avocados?!

While the definition of clean eating can be different for everyone, I’m pretty sure that if it comes out of a box, it’s not clean.

CleanCuisineMotto1

What does clean eating mean to me?

It means I eat fresh fruits and veggies that I grow in my garden, buy at a farmer’s market, or the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not in a can, in a box, with added sugar or sodium. I try and limit the foods I eat that come out of a box. If HFCS is listed as an ingredient, I skip it.

There are a million websites out there on the topic and a lot of them say clean eating is vegan or vegetarian. That’s not MY definition (especially when it comes to processed faux meats and soy products!). As a reformed vegetarian, I do eat meat and lots of seafood and I try my best not to get the stuff that is corn-fed. I like the Trader Joe’s meat–it’s spendy but worth it because it tastes great, is organic and grass-fed and not pumped with hormones.

Clean eating to me means eating snacks that are natural. Am I perfect all the time? No but I do my best (90/10!). For example: if I want a snack I eat nuts, veggies with avocado, fresh seasonal fruit, things like that. I definitely eat some processed foods–I love plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as a healthy snack.

I try my best to buy foods that are in season. We’re coming up on cherry season–which I am ecstatic about! And it’s perfect timing because the apples I’ve gotten at the store have been terrible lately. Time to switch to summer fruits!

“Food that’s clean is food that’s for the most part real food and not encumbered with things that compromise health: artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, sugar substitutes,” said Katz. (source)

The clean eating rule of thumb: The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Michael and I eat a specific brand of corn tortilla chips because they are gluten free (for him), taste great, and are basically 2 ingredients. Check the back of a bag or box of food the next time you’re in the grocery store. How many ingredients are listed? Is it half the box? Is it a bunch of words you can’t pronounce? Probably a good idea to avoid it.

“I don’t think sugar makes food unclean.  Pure fruits are not unclean foods.  You can add sugar to foods, and it can be clean. … It’s not about banishing any particular type of ingredient,” said Katz. ” It needs to be a holistic concept.  There’s a real danger in placing it on just one ingredient.” (source)

 

I don’t think sugar is the Boogie-Man of healthy eating. Like I’ve said a million times before, everything in moderation. I’d rather eat real sugar than the chemically altered stuff like nutrisweet and splenda. There was definitely a time in my life when I did eat a lot of substitutes because they were low calorie options. While it worked for me to lose weight, I wouldn’t say I felt fantastic. Diet soda may have zero calories but the chemicals and weird sugar in it always make me feel gross.

I also don’t think you have to eliminate EVERY processed food in order to eat clean. Rice, whole grain pastas, quinoa, etc…all of those things can be part of a healthy diet. I eat sushi a lot and I definitely use soy sauce–which comes from a bottle obviously–but I’m not going to nitpick. There’s a difference between nitpicking and being smart.

What About Supplements?

So what about supplements and vitamins? Michael recently started trying a Whey product because he’s doing a good 100 miles a week on the bike. He wasn’t getting enough calories, even though he was eating a massive amount of food during the day. He’s still experimenting with what works and what doesn’t, but the whey seems to help him with feeling more satisfied.

I used to drink a lot of protein shakes. I tried the store bought kind and back in the day the only one I liked was the Atkins shake. It was low in calories and tasted great. Then I went through a phase where I made my own shakes with some protein, fresh fruit and yogurt. I eventually stopped doing that because I wasn’t feeling satisfied when I drank it.

I do take some vitamins. I take a multivitamin. I take Vitamin D because I live in the Northwest and I’m deficient (as are most people in Oregon and Washington according to my doctor). I’d really rather prefer to get my vitamins my body needs from food naturally but like Vitamin D, that’s sometimes not possible.

About a year ago I started taking B12 1000 complex (from Costco). It’s supposed to give you more energy and I did feel like it gave me a little boost. I can get Vitamin B from foods like beans, bananas, lentils, and potatoes. I like all of those things but I wouldn’t say that I eat them consistently enough to think I’m getting a good source of B from the food.

I also take Krill oil. This one I’m iffy on. Is it necessary? Especially since I eat so much seafood? I eat salmon at least once a week, shrimp once a week, and if I’m craving sushi I eat a ton of tuna and salmon rolls. Shouldn’t that be enough? Is the krill oil giving me anything extra or is just something else “unnatural” that I’m adding to my diet? I’m not sure what the answer is!

GMO’s

What freaks me out is that we’re hearing more and more about GMO’s and how foods we get at the stores are often genetically modified and WE DO NOT KNOW IT! How scary is that? I wish that they would pass a law that stuff like that needs to be label everywhere. It’s important information to have if you’re trying to eat clean but who has the advanced knowledge to figure that out in the middle of a grocery store? (Check out an old post: The End of Food and Nutrition: Who to Trust?.)

I know what clean eating means for me and I strive to attain that. It’s never 100% perfect and I still rely on processed foods (like canned soups and beans) for meals sometimes. I definitely get lazy once in awhile and eat a Lean Cuisine for lunch. But more often than not, I am taking homemade, leftovers and salads made from my garden for lunches at work. It takes more effort, for sure, but I feel so much better!

So what about you? What is clean eating for YOU?

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