Breakfast Is Included

Just got back from a glorious week-long vacation. One thing I love about vacation is NO DISHES! It is challenging to eat healthfully on the road, though. Especially when you’re a vegetarian. A little easier out west, maybe, but it was still a “thing” every meal. Most days, breakfast was included at the hotel—you know, the buffet line, where everyone pads down pre-makeup, kids in jammies, to fill up their plates with eggs, biscuits, sausage…have to get their money’s worth. Well we did fine with our other meals, but those breakfasts—they just make me sick. I literally made a note in my phone: “Blog about depressing hotel breakfasts.”

So here I am, and just thinking about the breakfasts—and there were several different hotels’ worth—still makes me feel gross. The unhealthy food, the gluttony, the WASTE!! We made do, we always do. My kids chose “treats” they usually don’t get, a bagel for Bella, a bowl of sweet cereal for Davin, and Mike and I always head straight to the oatmeal, often scraping the last bit out from the bottom, adding raisins and some brown sugar, good enough to get us through to the next meal. But ohmygoodness, the plates of the people around me! Piled so high with cheesy eggs, sausage AND bacon, biscuits, MORE butter. I’m doubting their plans for the day included a long hike in the mountains.

You don’t have to eat everything on the buffet to “get your money’s worth.” But say you do. Who wins then?

Energy for the day? More like ingredients for a stomach ache.
Energy for the day? More like recipe for a stomach ache.

#39: Clear Your Clutter (reprise)

For my readers new and old, I thought this post worthy of a re-post.

Maybe some of you are familiar with this New Year’s resolution: Clean out the house and keep it clutter-free. It is hard work to keep the house uncluttered when you’re busy, and even more so when you’re busy and have children. When you work, too, well, it’s almost easier to just give up. But don’t.

When you live in a cluttered home, you hold clutter on the inside, too. In fact, when you visit a person’s home and it’s just stuff everywhere, you can tell a lot about that person. Not that he or she is necessarily dirty or lazy, but that he or she likely has some unresolved issues. It’s true: Clutter is only a surface expression of a deeper issue. When you keep your home organized and clean, your heart and mind are more free and available to the people and things that are important to you.

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Meatless Monday: Collard Greens & Rice

Veggie plate, anyone?

Our weekly CSA veggie basket is brimming with greens every week this time of year. We had to find some favorite preparation methods or we were in danger of dreading the basket instead of looking forward to it. We stumbled upon this recipe, and now we HOPE to see collard greens in our basket. Go figure!

Collard greens with rice

• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup brown* or long-grain white rice
• 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 cups chopped collard leaves, loosely packed
• pepper

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#26: Eggplant Meat(less)balls for Meatless Monday

Grab some locally grown eggplant before it’s gone for the season!

Eggplant Meat(less)balls

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 c parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1 t mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • Black pepper & sea salt to taste
  • 1 c breadcrumbs

1. Slice eggplant and sprinkle with salt.
2. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out water.
3. Rinse and pat dry.
4. Saute with a splash of olive oil and about ¼ cup of water until eggplant is soft.
5. Remove and chop finely. (We used the food processor.)
6. When eggplant has cooled, mix everything but the breadcrumbs.
7. Add breadcrumbs and mix until you get the consistency you want to form the balls.
8. Place in a generously olive-oiled pan (but remembering that less is more) about 1 inch apart and bake at 400 until golden brown, about 40-60 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even browning.

We added a thick, organic marinara sauce. The combination is perfect—the texture of meatballs without an overwhelming eggplant taste. Serve over linguini for a fancy-looking dish! Even Bella loved it!


#25: If You Are What You Eat, Then….

Is your body the temple it should be?

My mom asked me once again if I’m vegetarian because it’s healthier or because of the animal cruelty. I said both, and more. Environmental issues are a huge part of it. But when I simply said, “and yes, the way the animals are treated is horrible—beyond horrible,” her response was, “I just don’t want to think about it.”

That is exactly what the farming industry wants. The whole business depends on people not thinking about it. You pick up your perfect-sized Perdue cutlets and they look nothing like the bird they used to be. They’re all the same size, same color, no mess, no muss, sizzle and serve. And thank goodness for that, because if you saw how it really went down, you would NOT want to eat that chicken.

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#24: How the Garden Grows

Imagine: me, an urban gardener!

I love being an urban gardener. It’s taking a while for us to figure it all out—how to keep out the squirrels, for instance—but we’re getting it, and our dinner plates are feeling the bounty.

We’re growing lots of different things this year, and even rotating “crops” a bit. The most beautiful surprise is the okra plants that tower like small trees and flower the most gorgeous blooms. The biggest surprise in general was the butternut squash, which taught us that seeds never go in the compost. We let some of the squash grow, though if we hadn’t trimmed it back, it would have taken over the whole garden, and maybe a good part of our yard, too. Anyway, we have two stunning squash now. Who knew? And broccoli! It takes its time growing into the huge plant it becomes, but then the crowns begin to form, and voila! We eat broccoli from our own backyard. Amazing!

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#10: Why We Do Things Even When We Know They’re Not Good For Us

So the kids and I are sitting in the car waiting for Mike to grab a smoothie for Bella, when a car pulls into the parking spot beside us, and Bella notices that the woman is doing something she hasn’t seen before. “Why is that lady doing that?” “What?” “She’s doing that with the fire.” I look, and I see. The woman is smoking. It’s now time to have thatconversation.

I tell Bella it’s something that some people do, not everyone, and that it’s stinky, dirty, gross, bad for you, makes you sick, makes your teeth yucky….to which she responds, staring blankly out the window, “Uh-huh.” It’s then that I realize what she must be thinking: “Then why would some people choose to do it?” That is much harder to explain.

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#7: Eating in Season

My enthusiasm for discovering where my food comes from lingers on.

As I move from Skinny Bitch to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, my enthusiasm for discovering where my food comes from lingers on. So far I’m learning a lot about corn, and how pretty much everything non-plant that we eat contains some form of it. Which is interesting since there is very little of nutritional value in corn. Hmm.

What I’m excited about this year that’s new in my life is eating according to the seasons. Since we started taking the vegetable basket at our doorstep once a week, we’ve been sort of forced into it. Not only do we find the challenge of finding recipes for all of these vegetables we’ve never tried (or sometimes even heard of) exciting, but we also love learning about what is growing now—and in our region. In other words, even though you can buy pineapple at the grocery store in the cold winter months, it’s not in season, and therefore our bodies don’t need it. That is what is eye-opening for me. Our bodies are in great harmony with the earth. We sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light. Why fight the earth when it comes to eating what it provides? We have to go with it. So if you don’t like leafy greens, the winters will be long for you!

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#6: How You Can Save the World While You Work!

Don’t say there’s nothing you can do. Speak up, and things can change.

I am trying so hard to save this planet for my children. I’m always looking for MORE ways I can conserve, renew, reuse, contribute, learn, share…. My husband rode his bike to work today. It’s a long ride through a big city—so he’s been talking about it for a while, but today he really did it. I was so proud, but so nervous. All those people driving while blabbing on their phones—I love the earth, but I love Mike more, and I begged him to be on hyper-alert for hazardous situations the entire way. This is a man who didn’t know he cared so much about the environment until we met 8 years ago. Now he heads up the “green team” at his office.

Do NOT say there’s nothing you can do. Speak up, and things can change. In most cases, people simply haven’t yet thought of the things you might suggest. We’re too busy to initiate change. But all it takes is starting a conversation. Mike went to his HR person and set up a meeting. He brought up all the points and ideas we had come up with in one fail swoop, and what do you know? HR said, hey, yeah, we could definitely put a few of these things into action… Let’s give you a budget and see what we can do. Being “green” is HIP now. Offices WANT to appear to care.

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#5: Nut Burgers!

A high point in our quest for a kinder diet.

If you haven’t already heard me raving about these, hear me now. These nut burgers are fantastic (thank you, Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian!). As Mike said, “I can’t believe how long this recipe has been sitting in our house unmade!!”

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews—whatever nut tickles your fancy (we use walnuts and they are awesome)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice or raw rolled oats
  • 2 T ketchup, miso, tomato paste, nut butter, or tahini (we use tahini)
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2T EV olive oil (or other neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn)

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Chop the onion in a food processor. Add the nuts and rice or oats and pulse to chop, but not too finely. Add the binder (ketchup, etc.), spices, and egg. Process briefly. Add a little liquid (e.g., water, stock, soy sauce, or wine) if necessary; mixture should be moist but not loose.
  2. Let the mixture sit a few minutes if you have the time, then shape it into 4 to 6 patties. Put the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the burgers to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, more or less undisturbed, then turn. Lower the heat a bit and cook on the other side 3 or 4 more minutes, or until firm.
  3. Serve on buns, with your sauce or fixings of choice! (We use a raspberry chipotle sauce—yum!)

Vary these by substituting up to ½ cup sesame, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds for half of the nuts. Or make it vegan by omitting the egg and adding a ½ sheet of crumbled Nori Chips to the food processor (use miso or nut butter instead of ketchup, and soy sauce for the liquid).