Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mediterranean Diet

I'm researching the so called Mediterranean Diet.  I remember Dr. Oz did a series about it on Oprah and I thought then, this is food we like.  Tons of health benefits.  Good for cholesterol and hypertension.  Good for weight loss and maintenance.  All things we are working on.  And, um, very little meat, which is of course a problem at the Osbornes.

Features of the Mediterranean Diet: It is basically the shared food habits of Italy, Greece and Turkey.  Add Spain and Morocco depending on who you listen to.  Olive oil, fruits and vegetables (7 servings per day!), legumes, whole grains, fish and seafood, very little meat.  But you get a glass of wine per day.  It's encouraged.  Just saying. 

There is a lifestyle change that goes a long with it.  Eating with people, slowly, and enjoying food.  We already know how to do that.  Reduction of stress overall in life.  That's something we need to work on. 

And my favorite sandwich right now? 
2 pieces whole wheat bread.  I'm using Franz because it is locally owned and locally baked.  Toasted.

Spread with basil pesto. 

I'm buying pesto 'cause this is my basil plant.  I started out the season with 3 of them.  It's been wet.  Anything that doesn't want to be wet and cold has had some troubles. 

Back to the sandwich. Slices of soft mozzarella cheese.

Sun dried tomato.  The type that comes dry in a package, not the kind in oil.  Steep them in a bit of boiling water to make them pliable.  You have to dry them well with paper towel so they don't add wetness to the sandwich.

And my homegrown lettuce.  I have several types, but this is a nice peppery one.  It was a variety seed pack from the store, nothing fancy, but good.

Husband's eating a version of the same sandwich with some smoked turkey added.  'Cause, well you know why.

Keep on trucking.  


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Changes

Actually, going to the doctor was not the beginning of the story.  We've known for awhile that changes were needed.  We'd been working too hard and not living enough.  When we were in the middle of it, we did what we had to do.  But now, we are looking for a better quality of life.

We had gotten way too sedentary.  All that time working at our desks, working hard.  We needed some exercise.  We had both been very active in the past.  It's not like we are or have ever been couch potatoes, but we needed exercise.  We live in a rainy area.  Weather to walk or run couldn't be trusted. 

We went to the store to buy a Wii, but came home with an Xbox 360 Kinect.  Really cool.  We start with a warm up.  Tai Chi.  It looks like this.  The character on the left is the instructor.  My image is projected onto the screen as the image to the right.  There are verbal and auditory cues and instructions.  Feedback with percentage of correctness. The sensor just below the TV reads our movements.  We laugh at it and cuss it.  She's a very zen lady, never taking offense.

We also like boxing. Don't know if you can see.  The red boxing gloves are a projection of my hands being held up in front of me. 

My opponent blocking against a swing from me.

We get winded and hot swinging at the air trying to KO the computer character.  We are both pretty competitive and this really brings it out in me. 

It's fun.  We want to come home and do it. 

We got this and it is tons of fun and just wears you out.

We also have this.  Guess who likes it.

Never been a video game person, but we are getting more fit.  It can see improvements in both of us already. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Low glycemic diet

I wasn't present for Dr. Hoffman's first conversation with Husband about diet.  He says she advised that he eat significantly less meat, more fish and more vegetables.  He says she told him that early history people did not eat meat regularly and advised that he would be well nourished on a vegetarian or near vegetarian diet.  He told her that eating meat was extremely important to him.  Well, he said it differently, but that's what he meant.

Since Dr. Hoffman is my doctor also, I was able to have a subsequent conversation with her about this.  She recommended that I look into a low glycemic diet and suggested a book on the subject.  

Low glycemic diet has the following benefits - may reduce the risk of heart disease, may allow for reduction of weight. may help with reduction of cholesterol and pre-diabetes. You get to eat meat.  You shouldn't eat bread, rice, potatoes, sugar, processed food and certain sweet fruit, like ripe bananas and grapes.

Husband isn't happy with the plan and I can't say I blame him.  Food has always been my friend.  When did it become my enemy?      

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Changes at the Osbornes

This is a hard subject for me right now.  We recently found out that my beloved husband has high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  There will need to be some changes around here.  They've already started.

One of the reasons that I was so frightened initially was that I thought he wouldn't tolerate the changes that he needs to make well.  To understand why, you need to know a little more.  Sometimes big, strong, and physically powerful men have a hard time dealing with their own human frailties.  There, was that polite enough?  OK, well try this.  He is a big, old baby about some things.  Sorry Dear.  

But I've been so pleased and proud of him.  We've already started making some changes.  The last several years starting around 2008 have been hard on us, struggling to keep our business going in an economy that just isn't working for us.  We've had stress and long hours behind our desks. 

But we've started an exercise program.  There is medication involved.  And there will be some changes coming from the kitchen, too.  That's me.  Whether I will continue to blog about this, I don't know.  Like I say, it's a tender subject.  Just saying. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Greek Yogurt

I'm helping provide food for a family event in about a month. So far my duties appear to be hummus and tzatziki sauce, a large vegetable tray and pita wedges for dipping, although I've been thinking about thinly slicing small bagels and toasting the slices.  

Doesn't sound too bad. I make, and love hummus. I love tzatziki sauce (a Greek yogurt sauce), but have never made it.  The Pita Pit makes the yummiest humus veggie pita sandwich with tzatziki sauce.  I could eat it every day.  I may have mentioned that Husband is a carnivore, so I don't eat it every day. 

So my next job is to practice tzatziki sauce until I'm happy with the outcome, but I need Greek yogurt to make tzatziki. Greek yogurt, when purchased at the store, is like twice the price of regular top quality yogurt.  Greek yogurt is also significantly thicker and more concentrated.  It has a stronger, more yogurty flavor.

You can make Greek Yogurt by lining a colander with several layers of cheese cloth.  Add plain, unflavored yogurt and allow the liquid to drain from it until the desired thickness. 

Some instructions on the Internet recommend doing this overnight.  I've done that and I don't recommend draining it that long.  I've found that my homemade yogurt turns nice and thick in 3 to 4 hours.  It should stand a spoon securely.

Next:  Attempt one at Tzatziki sauce.  Remember to play with your food.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yogurt: Jalapeno Rice Casserole

One of my goals right now is to train or challenge myself to do more with the ingredients that I have at hand.  I don't live in a mild climate, so the ingredients at my produce market changes seasonally.  I'm done chasing the next ingredient in a recipe that I don't happen to have and will need to go to the store for.  I've recently been through some of my favorites:  tomatillos,  rhubarb, ginger.   

I'm starting Yogurt, which I eat a lot of and always have on hand.  I make yogurt myself.  I challenge you to do the same

This dish requires other ingredients which I like and want to learn how to use better - rice, fresh herbs, and jalapenos.  All are on my list for the future. 

Jalapeno Rice Casserole.
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. rice

Pour broth into a sauce pan and bring to boil.  Add rice, stir, cover and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Mix together
1/2 c. plain non fat yogurt
2 T. Italian Dressing
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

The picture shows the favorite Italian Dressing at the Osbornes, but use whatever you like best. 

Remove the seeds and white vein from the center of the pepper, then finely chop it.  Remove the stems of the parsley and chop it.
At the risk of sounding weird, I stop and smell and taste every little thing as I cook.  Life is so short and such a roller coaster ride.  Why not draw any pleasure in the moment that you can? 

Combine the yogurt sauce with the rice.  I decided it was just a little dry and drizzled with olive oil. 

There is a roasting chicken in my oven right now.  I reduced the heat to 350, covered the casserole dish, and set it in the oven next to the chicken.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded Tillamook Montery Jack cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes. 
For a printable copy go here.
Anyone know how to rename this link in my text so you don't see the gobbly goop?

Fragrant and creamy.  Not quite as moist as I would like.  Think I'll make more of the sauce next time. 

Goes pretty good with a roast chicken, though.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving on to Yogurt: Ginger Yogurt Loaf

Yogurt's next. But first, I'm finishing out ginger with a recipe my co-worker just gave me the other day when I was gushing about candied ginger at work.  It's a family recipe which I was honored to receive. 

She says she thinks a neighbor gave it to her grandmother, who gave it to her mother, who gave it to her.  She's younger than me, but my mom and grandmother never heard of candied ginger, so I'm impressed. 

I haven't made it yet, because we are on a little bit of a diet, but I will just as soon as there are others in the house to help us eat it. 

Ginger Yogurt Loaf
4 T. unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasess
1/2 c. minced crystalized ginger
2 eggs at room temp
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. plain yogurt (or buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter 9 x 4 loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in molasses and crystalized ginger.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  Stir in flour mixture in thirds, alternating with yogurt and beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake until cake tests done, about 45 - 50 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack.