Tag Archives: nutrition

Carrot Souffle Heals All

Is  the saying that Spring is itself eternal or is it hope? When neither seems definite, me and my girl wait out the changing seasons in the kitchen. I like when new beginnings are on the cusp, so to me, the Spring tease and cold days are very welcome. The  cool evenings of March and sporadic tulips are a welcome contrast to the monotony of a full-blown season.  Everything is more exciting when it is ABOUT to happen.

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Mini me learning the ropes!
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I LOVE this dish.

Food cravings in these in-between moments are even more adventurous. Depending on where you live, the greens, golds, reds, and yellows of spring are slowly emerging. When it comes to culinary fare, Spring tends to lighten itself up. But, I find myself still clinging to darker fall flavors. I am fickle, choosing is painful for me.

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Spring peeks out!

Me and mini me have had some unique menus this month. Pear risottos, deep carrot souffles, rice salads and artichokes are abound in every way possible. March invites kale greens, but steeped in fall’s comfort foods. Pictured is mini me making our lightened carrot soufflé. We used about 2 lbs of organic carrots; cut them, steamed them, and pureed them with half a stick of melted butter. Then we mixed in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, fresh cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg, 2 cage free eggs, half and half,  2 tb of coconut flour, 1 tp of baking powder, vanilla and 1 tp of kosher salt. We Mixed everything together very well, and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes in a well buttered casserole dish. The result is reminiscent of pumpkin pie, without the calories. You can add additional sugar, but I think the maple syrup is plenty. A good tablespoon of raw honey would be a nice touch. We paired our soufflé with a simple chicken piccata and kale salad.

In another month, menus will delve deep into light Spring fare, but for now,  relish in enjoying two simultaneous seasons at once!

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Kit Kat Bars and Hope

I was 9 years old, but my little legs and little belly made me look about 5. I was cute, no doubt. Stumbling into the social service office, I looked over at my case worker Drew’s desk to make sure the picture I drew him was proudly displayed.

Drew was a very tall man, probably about 35 years old, though at my age he seemed ancient to me. Because of our stark height difference, he often patted me on the head like a puppy. I liked him a great deal; he was the first man in my life I ever trusted. He was kind-hearted, never raised his voice,  and lit up when I walked by. He lavished me with compliments.  I looked forward to our meetings, though at the time I did not understand his role.  I just knew that when I sat in his office, he had toys and Kit Kat bars. I liked Kit Kat bars!

The year after I was taken from my mother. I was tiny!
The year after I was taken from my mother. I was tiny!

One day, he seemed a little unnerved, almost shaken. His smile was different. I knew, even in my young mind, that our conversation was not going to be a fun one. So, I clutched a wooden doll and looked for my Kit Kat bar. I braced myself for some type of bad news.  A lot of what Drew imparted to me is being imparted to thousands of children a day who enter the foster care system.

Drew  was one of the social workers who found me at about age 5 locked in a basement with burn marks, bruises, and left very sick from malnutrition. I was not toilet trained, could not walk and did not talk.  His accidental finding brought me to a hospital and led to the arrest of my mother and others in my home. I was then placed in a foster home.  The brother I was found with was sent somewhere else.

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Lighter Pho Fare with Mini Me

wpid-2015-01-28_18.46.00.jpgMidweek, me and mini me try something out of our comfort zone to break up the monotony of our staple recipes. Routine bores me.  The chill factor climbed for us this month and heavy comfort foods are not comforting for my thighs! Sacrificing flavor for tight jeans is not my style either, so I found  a way to take my Italian cravings to the far east.

With some organic pork and ginger, our love for meatballs met my love for Vietnamese Pho.  While this traditional noodle soup is filled with mixed meats and seafood, portions can be heavy and the flavors can sometimes overwhelm each other.

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Isn’t She Lovely? Lighter Lasagna

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Often lasagna is like  a beautiful Italian woman in a tight red dress. She may look like a siren, but she may be good for you too.  Italians are known for overdoing it. We are impulsive, impetuous, extreme, but passionate. In the kitchen our personality is in full force all the time. Nothing is off-limits.

The new year is about shedding many things. In an attempt to embrace a new life.. ..I also let go of the calories and fat in my traditional Christmas Eve lasagna. Basically anything that does not add to your lasagna, needs to be left out. Sounds simple but it does wonders.

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Power in Permanency: Foster Children Need Family

Me, about a year after being taken from my mother, 1981.
Me, about a year after being taken from my mother, 1981.

Courts in New York State made a decision this week which has spurred some debate over foster children and the idea of family. A foster child, loved by two people who lived in two different homes was made adoptable by them both.Critics of this recent case argue that one parent in two homes was not an “ideal” FAMILY.

Foster children have no real concept of an ideal family, they simply need stability and safety. They create a family through a network of friends and temporary siblings who come and go. To them there is no Uncle or crazy cousins, loving grandparents, memories of watching siblings grow. They have lost that idea by being abused or neglected and placed with strangers, temporarily. They do not need what some people argue is ideal. They need to sleep under a warm roof, with no threat in the middle of night or their safety, they want to trust that they will not be abandoned, they need protection from the “family” who abused them, and they need to stay in one safe home as long as possible. One parent, a gay parent, a parent of a different race, is the best alternative to the street, or to pedophiles and abusers.

The negative feedback this case has received in certain circles astounds me. It came to me, at about 3 am this morning, that maybe the people fighting against “alternative” permanent placement, have no understanding of American foster children and their circumstances.
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Aren’t You a Sweet Thing

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Who hasn’t had a tough morning after? Nothing cleans the soul after a bad choice like a good brunch. It is my favorite meal of any day. Lazy enough to sleep in, early enough to leave the day wide open. With some simple ingredients you can wow that bad choice on its way out, or keep  it coming back for another round.

My smokey sweet potato hash is also a colorful way to keep your body on the right track.
This antioxidant and vitamin rich dish is easy on the eyes and waste. It is the subtle smokey cumin that adds to the antioxidant rich cancer fighting power:)

The mixture of beta carotene in sweet potatoes (go for organic, the skin is truly your body’s best friend) with Vitamins A, K, E, C, B in the spinach keeps your body in stasis, fighting disease like batman.

Even better, it is simpler than last night’s regret. Brown 2 medium thickly sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil and a small tab of butter. Make sure to let each side brown. Lower the heat and add two cloves of garlic, sea salt and two tablespoons of cumin. Throw in some bright red onion and some fresh spinach. Tear up four basil leaves and throw them in. Brown the mixture, gently turning once. Add some tomatoes, I prefer Roma. Then top it off with three organic eggs. On covered low heat, let the egg cook on top of the potatoes sunny side up. Yum!!

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How Sweet It is!

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Mini me shows me how it is done! Her simple blueberry pie
is a healthier version of the usual sugar laden staple. We use nothing but fresh blueberries, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest with a touch of starch to hold our little piece of heaven together. This one crust version, is complete with mini me’s light wheat crust. For a sweet touch, she always puts a heart somewhere in our baking. Love. Love. Love.

Survival of the Fittest

A recent foster care case in Florida this month has many wondering about the abuse of children in the foster care system.  Six children were removed from a home after nearly dying of starvation, having been locked in separate rooms, covered in feces and abused for a long period of time.

 The foster parents had the six children in their care after they were abused years before. This situation and many others like it have advocates wondering how we can protect these vulnerable children.  It also has well-intentioned foster parents, mentors, social workers, psychologists, teachers and journalists asking, “what now,” when these cases come to their doorstep. How do you end the cycle  for these children? And what can you do when these children’s issues come into your home or office?

A blog  I follow posed a question by new foster parents that has weighed on my mind all week. They have two new foster children who were neglected and starved before entering their home. And now, the unexpected challenge is the “unusual” eating habits of the children. They are overeating, they are demanding more food than normal for their size and age, they seem continuously unsure of their physical and nutritional security.

This simple post  hit home for me. I was taken from my mother at a young age, after I was found locked in a basement, abused, suffered from severe malnutrition and was  unable to speak or walk. The challenges I and many others like me faced, were innumerable. 

When a young child whose brain is still developing is starved nutritionally many things happen physically and psychologically. The brain simply does not develop optimally. Stimuli response is thwarted, memory is disturbed, physical senses are interrupted, sometimes learning disabilities develop, and psychological “survival” instincts kick in full mode.

Once a child is taken from a food/sunlight deprived scenario, the mind reacts very similar to that of a released prisoner. It confuses day and night. Sleep patterns are interrupted. And the search for food and quench of hunger is heightened. These reactions to the natural instinct to hunt and secure  food and water are actually quite normal.  The long-lasting effects of this trauma can be mitigated.
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Sassy Shrimp Scampi

 

There is nothing quite as bright as the hue of meyer lemons hanging over the Amalfi Coast. And every time I make our simple lemon basil shrimp, I feel like me and mini me have escaped to a land where cobalt blue meets canary yellow. We can dream, can’t we?

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The healing properties of lemon are innumerable, almost as innumerable as new love. This week, I’ve  been fighting a cold that is wreaking havoc on my mood and my nose, so I needed to call in the big guns !

I wandered through a small city market this weekend and found some beautiful meyer lemons, some ginger juice, incredible pastas, herbs and some fresh lettuce.

For the moment, I live in a landlocked town:( And I truly can’t stand it. I have always lived near the water or in pretty close proximity to a coast. It is challenging to find fresh seafood here. However, the city market was abound with well priced  fisherman stands and I made sure to stock up on some fresh shrimp.

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For our simple lemon basil shrimp, me and mini me used the juice of 3 meyer lemons, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper and oregeno. This is our basic marinade . It is important to let the shrimp sit in the marinade for at least two hours. Then we drain ig. We lay the shrimp in a baking dish lined with olive oil, and zest 1 lemon over the shrimp. We then chop three cloves of garlic in a bowl with a half cup of planko, two cubed tablespoons of butter and 5-7 torn basil leaves.  Take the dry mix and spread it evenly over the shrimp. We add crushed red pepper to taste  and some  shredded fontina. Simply cook it at 425 for 15 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

This is a light dish and is perfect with couscous and a bright spinach salad! Perfecto!

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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Siracha In My Pasta?

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This week I tried a habanero latte, which may have been even too spicy even for my palette. But with a new fire in my life, I feel brave enough to try it all. Today was no different, I stumbled upon an open market. It is my favorite way to break in a Saturday morning. Well, ALMOST my favorite way but that is another story. 🙂 Amidst the foodie trucks, the indie booths and students was the silent roar of canons were booming in the background; you can get an idea of the region I am at for the moment. For a foodie, this town can be lackluster at best. But I lucked out today.
Amidst the usual finds, I found a fresh pasta stand that offered more than your typical fare. I love making my own pasta, especially egg varieties like
tagliatelle. Me and mini have not made any in a while, and I want to make more time for what I love. While pasta is getting a bad rap for carb haters..healthy carbs in certain portions are a vital energy source. They prevent your body from stealing energy from muscles and needed proteins. No one in my opinion should be kicking HEALTHY carbs in healthy portions out of their diet entirely.
Continue reading Siracha In My Pasta?