Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My New Favorite Life-Changing Book (Thanks Grant!!)

I just had a 23rd birthday. Though not the most exciting age to turn, I was blessed to be surrounded by my family and shown so much love. I spent the day time with the Sims family and the night time with the Foster family, both of my favorite families ;) Through the festivities I received some nice gifts but none as awesome as the one I received from my awesome boyfriend who knows me all too well. He knows I'm trying to eat and cook healthier for myself and for him so he gave me an amazing book, Food Rules. This is a very short, simple book that contains 64 food rules that you could live without but will most likely help you live a lot longer and healthier.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two Obsessions

Here are two vegetables I am obsessed with. One new, one old.
First of all, kale. Kale is a delicious, super, super healthy leafy green. Not only is it packed with potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C but it also pairs well with lots of things or can be eaten alone. Another bonus is that it is in season in the winter and early spring, so buying it now gives you the best benefits and taste. Along with the awesome vitamins that this super vegetable provides, it's also low in calories, high in fiber, and really great for your health. It's health benefits include lowering cholesterol, heart healthy, and could even help with cancer prevention.

The easiest way to make kale is to simply steam it. Like spinach, it reduces down a ton so you can add a lot to your pan and it reduces to practically nothing. Steaming kale will help retain a lot of the nutrients and it's just a very simple cooking method. I for one don't really like eating plain, steamed leafy greens like kale or spinach SO I steamed the kale then added it to some orzo with a couple other ingredients (I'll add the recipe). Using kale this way made a VERY delicious meal.

So, next time you think about making rice, a pilaf, or even just want a nice leafy green side dish. Consider kale. It's delicious, earthy flavor will definitely leave you wanting more and wondering what else you could add it to!
 Now, secondly... butternut squash.... is by far one of my most favorite vegetables on this planet. I love winter squash, I believe it is God's gift to earth. The orange, earthy, slightly sweet vegetable is something I crave year round but this winter I have been keeping in the house a lot. I've made two delicious recipes that I will share later that are to... die... for.

This vegetable is very starchy so it can be used almost like potatoes... though they are much better in so many ways than potatoes. I've made casseroles, soups, and other side dishes using butternut squash and the texture is very similar to a potato. Unlike a potato, these vibrant orange gourds are packed full of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Also like a potato, they are a good source of fiber. Butternut squash can also easily steam like other starchy vegetables. It's even really delicious cubed, steamed, lightly buttered, and served. But the more you experiment with this vegetable, the better it will get. Yet another promise I can make!

Therefore, why not next time you're thinking you'd liked mashed potatoes, make some type of winter squash casserole. Or next time you want to make soup, replace the potatoes with butternut squash, like in minestrone or vegetable soup. Remember how important it is to buy veggies in season. Not only will this be helpful nutritionally but the taste will be much better.

I hope you try to introduce at least one of these into your diet. They are in season so they will be delicious, I promise. Plus, there are so many ways you can incorporate them into your meals without even noticing that you are trying a new, foreign vegetable.

Test out one or two of the following recipes from my blog to see if you like the new vegetables as much as I do:
  • Fall/Winter Minestrone Soup
  • Orzo with Kale
  • Butternut Squash Bake
  • Butternut Squash Risotto

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey Lova's!! Happy Valentines :)

I, for one, expected today to be just another so, so day. Grant's out of town all week so I knew I'd have some me time on Valentines Day, plus we've never really "celebrated" this "holiday" anyway. This afternoon however, I was surprised by a knock at the door and a vase FULL of beautiful, bright flowers... not to mention the most loving note I've received in a long time. Not only did Grant completely make my day but goodness does he have good taste! Needless to say, my day was (has been) made!! Oh and did I mention that this boy makes me incredibly happy?

Also needless to say, that impromptu gift from my far away love put a pep in my step. So, I decided to give my Butternut Squash Risotta another try. Since I'll be alone all week, I thought I'd make enough to last the whole week. This way I wouldn't convince myself it's okay to eat out all week since I'm only cooking for one.

Now, I've attempted this before and it was disastrous. Really, I didn't have the patience. Tonight I tried again and it was absolutely one of my favorite meals yet. Making this meal is also a COMPLETE workout. It involves constant stirring and moving the rice around. That is a huge, huge benefit of cooking your own meals... it makes you do work but while having fun! Remember that next time you think you'd rather have a 500 calorie burger with 500 calories fries that not only can you control the amount of salt, fat, and all the other goodies you add to your home made meal, but you are also relaxing your mind and keeping yourself active. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I love cooking so much... It is my therapy.

So, either make this for your valentine or, if you are valentineless, enjoy some YOU time and ease your mind, work those muscles and enjoy this rich, creamy, delicious meal.

Butternut Squash Risotta
(coming soon)