Monthly Archives: April 2012

Whole Grain Crazy!

Early yesterday morning Mick discovered the most amazing thing!  “Check it out mom”, he said, “there’s 14 buds on this orchid!”  Then he proceeded to count them out for me, and when he finished he said, “And it’s right here in our sunroom!”  Like, how lucky are we . . . . totally cool!  I tried to capture our beautiful orchid here for you. 

Then I thought to myself, that’s exactly how I felt last night, when my girlfriend Christina and I attended a class on working with whole grains . . . . and I met Kim!  Kim is a wife and mom who loves REAL food and most especially, whole grains.  She’s crazy for all things wholesome and fresh, food that’s both flavorful and good for you, and preparing it for her family and sharing it with others. 

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I knew Christina had recently been to one of Kim’s programs and came home mega-jazzed on millet!  I’m always looking for a little grain inspiration so I was hoping for the same!  I love grains, they’re such a wonderful alternative to potatoes at supper or chips with a sandwich.  They’re great for breakfast or center stage as lunch.   

Whole grains are those grains that contain all 3 of their components – the bran, germ and endosperm.   When a wheat kernal is processed, it’s stripped of the bran and the germ where so many of the vitamins, minerals, fibers and phytochemicals reside.  The resulting endosperm is made into flour (with perhaps a few nutrients added back).   Leading Health Organizations recommend eating at least 3 servings of whole grains every day, with the goal being 48 grams of whole grains (or 3 servings at 16 grams each).  The Whole Grains Council lends it’s “gold stamp” to foods that contain at least 8 grams per serving. 

So just a few awesome numbers to ponder.  According to the Whole Grains Council, people who eat at least 3 servings of whole grains every day (over time) reduce their risk of:

  • Heart Disease by 25-36% 
  • Stroke by 37%
  • Type II Diabetes by 21-27%
  • Digestive Cancers by 21-43%
  • Hormone-related Cancers by 10-40%
    Hmmm . . . . . All that good stuff aside – grains simply taste great! 

And as I think back to our class that’s exactly what I’m remembering – The bread and cinnamon rolls we made with Spelt and Kamut grains (that we ground into flour), the marvelous apricot, spinach and Quinoa salad, and my favorite . . . Millet patties!   

Mostly, I just enjoyed being in Kim’s kitchen where it’s clear she’s in her element . . . . I love how she say’s Kamut as she’s dropping the grains into the mill . . . it just rolls off her tongue (kinda like something French) . . . . . and how she works the bread dough, rolling it and weighing it – telling us, this is going to make the most delicious bread!  Warm out of the oven, it was amazing!

So here’s a few photo’s of the evening along with the recipe for millet patties.  Millet is typically sold in bulk, though if you live in Cary (or anywhere close) you can always contact Kim.  You’ll find her at www.wheatreal.com, and if you’re looking for a unique opportunity of fun around food , I hope you’ll find your way to one of her many classes.  I’m glad I’ve met Kim, with her wonderful enthusiasm and knowledge of grains and her warm spirit.  And . . . . she’s my neighbor!  Well, kinda my neighbor.  She lives right here in Cary . . . . So how lucky am I . . . . totally cool!

Millet Patties
1/2 cup raw millet
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (we used red)
1 small carrot, grated
2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste
olive oil for sauteing

1.  Bring millet and water and a dash of salt to a boil.  Turn the heat to low, cover pot and gently simmer for 20-25 minutes, until millet is tender and water is absorbed.  OR – pressure cook the millet on #2 (the higher setting) for 10 minutes and quick release under cold water.   
2.  While the millet is still hot, add the onion, carrot, parsley, parmesan cheese and additional salt to taste, stirring thoroughly to break up the millet grains and creating a mashed potatoes consistency. 
3.  Next, ready a non-stick skillet with olive oil over medium heat.  Shape the mixture into patties and drop carefully into the skillet.  Saute about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden and crisp.   

Prep Notes:  Some of you might like a drizzle of soy sauce with the patties (or Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s – a soy-based flavoring).  Also, if you find you need something extra to hold the patties together try adding a little more parmesan cheese, or gently dusting the outside of the patties with flour.

Recipe Adapted From,
AllAboutFasting.com

Something Very Exciting . . . .

Hi Everyone!

You probably don’t know this but in just 13 days the Woodstock Farmer’s Market will be opening!  That’s BIG!  Really big, in my world!  Soon I’ll be connecting back in with people I haven’t seen since late last Fall, local farmers who grow a large part of the food my family and I will be eating this summer!  If we get there early enough I’ll scoop up one of the first bags of tender Spring Spinach.  There will be beautiful flowers to greet us, which is perfect, as it’s a celebration of the season after all!  We’ll be talking about herbs and lettuce and if I’m lucky, I may just pick up a tip about which tomatoes to plant this year . . . .

Yep, it’s time to get ready to welcome a new rhythm to our weekends.  Saturday’s will now include a family trip to the outdoor market . . . . where fresh and flavorful begin!!    

So Sunday, when I got home from the grocery store and noticed my counters were filled with all kinds of lettuce, greens, herbs and more veggies than I knew what to do with, it occured to me that somewhere in the back of my mind I was already gearing up for a change.  My mind, I find, has kinda drifted away from soup and a little closer to salad.  So with thoughts of spinach and plates of leafy greens spinning around my head, I thought I’d share a few ideas on creating salads that satisfy. . . . . the kind that deliciously fill you up and keep you full! 

Step 1 – Fill Your Plate With a Variety of Greens – Build your foundation with greens (aim for 2 cups if you can) – combine a variety of lettuce choices for flavor and texture.  Try combining tender red leaf or spinach with crisp romaine.  Snip a bit of parsley in for added flavor.      

Step 2 – Load Up With Vegetables – Vegetables add fill-you-up fibers, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals!  Go for a variety of colors – orange peppers, red tomatoes, green sugar snap peas, beets . . .  Remember, most of us are looking for 2 1/2 cups vegetables each day – so salads are a great place to pile them on!  Try something new like jicama, sweet corn, pea pods or yellow carrots. 

Step 3 – Pump Up the Protein – Next, for stay power add protein. Choose lean chicken and turkey or try salmon, shrimp or tuna.  Try low-fat cheese like feta or mozzarella or hard boiled egg (or egg whites).  Also, beans are an excellent choice of both protein and fiber – so add the kidney, garbanzo and black beans!

Step 4 – Look To Flavorful and Nutrient-Rich Toppings – Choosing to include a few nutrient rich add-ons can pump up the fiber, texture and satiety power of your salad!  Look to whole grains, nuts and more for a hearty dose of health benefits and flavor!  Try adding barley, brown rice, wheat berries or whole wheat pasta.  Or sprinkle on walnuts, pecans or slivered almonds for healthy monounsaturated fats.  Dried cranberries, cherries or raisins add a bit of sweetness, as do fresh strawberries, raspberries or apple slices (as they come into season).       

Step 5 – Dress The Greens – Use a light hand in dressing your salad (think drizzle).  Look for vinaigrette recipes that you can flavor with herbs, fresh citrus juice and a variety of tasty vinegars, and work with heart healthy olive and canola oils.

Here’s a quick Tabouli Salad I made this week.  I decided to green it up a bit and add some of the lettuce I brought home the other day!  For extra protein, I topped it off with a few chunks of feta.  The Taboulli was already dressed in a wonderful lemon zest so I was good to go! 

Tabouli 
2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust as desired)
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1 cup diced plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 – 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced (to taste)
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil 
Feta Cheese

  1. Bring 2 cups  water to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in bulgur.  Cover and let stand 20-30 minutes.
  2. Drain bulgur, pressing to extract excess water (if any).
  3. Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and allow to cool.
  4. While bulgur is cooling, combine lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and salt and set aside. 
  5. Next, and in another bowl, combine remaining chick peas, tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint. 
  6. Once the bulgur is cool, fluff with a fork. Add the chickpea mixture to the bulgur, toss with the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add feta cheese as desired!   
    A Final Thought – If you’re looking for gluten free, try substituting brown rice for the bulgur.    Enjoy!

 Adapted From, 
Bon Appetite, 2001

Banana Bread

I received an email this week explaining that April is Stress Awareness Month.  I laughed out loud thinking, do people really need to be reminded about stress . . .
I remember once when Mick was about 5, we were at a store and he picked up one of those soft squishy balls and held it in the palm of his hand asking, “what’s this?”  I said, “that’s a stress ball.”  He looked at the ball and then at me, and said, “what’s stress?”  Ohhhh My Gosh . . . . how do you explain that to a 5 year old?!  I hope you’re laughing . . . it’s a good stress reliever!

Anyway, right after the email about Stress Month I coincidentally found myself in a conversation with my girlfriend about finding the tools to support ourselves in living life more balanced and staying in the flow.  I was sharing with her that when I allow myself a few minutes every morning to meditate, journal or just be consciously quiet – I’m more calm.  Finding my way back to yoga class also grounds me in a peaceful way.  Intuitively, I know that when I practice these things I’m a much better me.  But I don’t always practice them.  

Well then I got to thinking about the idea of Stress Month and how it’s probably a good thing really, to remind ourselves of those things that invite us to live our days as better versions of ourselves. . . . namely,  more centered and less stressed!  I thought about how good I feel when I do get my runs in, and I’m eating food that’s nourishing to me.
Deep Breath.  
And I thought about the brand new (and still empty) journal I bought for myself with a gift card over the holidays, and the squishy ball I’ve got packed in my storage room somewhere, along with my yoga matt.  Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of a reminder . . . .

So I had some old bananas and decided to turn them into a sweet treat for my girlfriends last night.  I love this banana bread because it’s quick to get into the oven – about 8.5 minutes once the ingredients are assembled AND it tastes great!  It’s made with whole wheat pastry flour,  monounsaturated canola oil (instead of butter or margarine), walnuts and honey!  It contains plenty of fiber as well as B-vitamins, potassium and magnesium – all great stress-busters!  It’s wonderful with a glass of soymilk!

Whole wheat pastry flour is a whole grain flour made from soft white wheat.  It’s lighter than regular whole wheat flour and is great for making cookies, pancakes, quick breads and muffins.  I use Bob’s Red Mill – but many stores carry it in bulk. 

Here’s the Banana Bread.  I found the recipe some time ago on Andrew Weil’s website . . . . Enjoy! 

Banana Bread
3 Ripe Bananas
½ Cup Honey
3 Tablespoons expeller-pressed Canola Oil
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a loaf pan or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Mash the bananas and mix with the honey, canola oil and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt. 
  4. Combine the two mixtures and stir in the nuts.  Pour into a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set.

Prep Notes:
Though this recipe calls for using a loaf pan, I typically bake this bread in an 8X8 inch pan (for no particular reason other than I like quick breads this way) but either is fine.    

 Recipe Taken From:
Dr. Weil’s Healthy Kitchen, 
drweil.com 

Violin Lessons

Patience . . . . . the message that keeps surfacing this week.  Actually, I can’t think of many weeks that it doesn’t surface in some sort of way.  I’ve long thought that patience is one of my many life lessons.  I’m guessing it just might be for some of you too! 

My clients struggle with patience.  Mostly, I think, because they’re trying to change behaviors they’ve had for years and years!  That’s not easy.  I recently heard that it takes 30 days to change a pattern in your life, and 90 to make it a habit!  I believe that.  Our garage door broke this week and was out of commission for 2 days.  I can’t tell you how many times, without thinking, I walked out the door toward the garage simply out of habit, instead of the front door I needed to be using. 

I think it’s that way with food too.  We’re on automatic pilot.  We have our go to routine that works, and we don’t have to think about it too much!  It’s Quick.  Simple.  Easy.   Maybe it’s a candy bar or a cookie in the afternoon instead of a piece of fresh fruit or skipping breakfast because ‘we’re always so rushed’.  Either way, when we’re trying to invite healthier choices into our lives, we gotta give it time!  We need to allow the changes we’re working on the opportunity to become habits.  Yep, 90 days (or many more) seems right!  I know it’s true for me!   

So, how do we stick with it and not give up when one day (or week) we find ourselves back in our default zone?  Hmmmm . . . . .

Mick loves the violin.  He saw Charlie Daniels on TV one day and told me, “I want to play the fiddle mom, and I want to play just like that!”  “Cool”, I said, “but you have to learn the basics of the violin first!”  That was a year and a half ago. 

Mick has now worked his way through the Suzuki Book to Bach’s, Minuet 1 . . . . . and he’s struggling.  His teacher, Karen, is amazing.  Patient in every way.  And while I was watching Karen gently guiding Mick this week during his lesson, my mind raced back to another lesson a year ago.  Mick, in his desire to get it right and frustration that it wasn’t happening quickly enough said, “Miss Karen, why does this take so long?”  Karen was quiet for a moment and then said to Mick,” I believe Dr.  Suzuki would say . . . . slow, makes fast Mick.”  Then one day, Mick picked up the violin and played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like he owned it!  I think he did.  More importantly, he knows he did!

It’s practice . . . . it’s patience . . . . it’s recognizing that every single time we choose the fresh fruit, or try the new recipe, take that 20 minute walk or for Mick, to pick up the violin and work with the new notes – we’re one step closer to creating a habit. . . . to achieving our goals! 

Perhaps you may never love fruit as much as you love cookies, but you can teach yourself to reach for the fruit as a matter of habit . . . . saving the cookies for those “special treats” we deliciously weave into our days!  Mick doesn’t always love practicing . . . . but there’s nothing more exciting for him, than the music he makes when he does.     

Mick is learning that slow makes fast . . . . can you believe he rolls his eyes now when someone asks him to play Twinkle . . . . . I love that . . . . .

Here’s a picture of Mick and I at Starved Rock last week!  Sacred time
for sure . . . . 
Happy Spring!  Happy Easter!