Saturday, January 29, 2011

Morning Rice

By the time the boyfriend and I get our coffee going and morning started, we've already been in the kitchen for about half an hour. I find it odd that considering this, I hardly ever make breakfast for myself. The boyfriend will toast these amazing-smelling toaster pastries we get him to hold him over, but I'm often left roaming the kitchen like some half-crazed, half-starved loon.

I've written before about how breakfast is that one meal I still struggle with to get some sort of consistency with. I understand that this is, technically speaking, not a difficult task to do. Bananas, cereal, oatmeal, eggs; there are tons of different foods available for breakfast time that are gluten free. For me, it's a combination of being a broke college student with a crappy part time job and a slight failure in the meal planning department I seem to be having. When I do my weekly meal planning, I often forget to get items for other meals besides dinner, so we'll end up eating the pasta I was saving for Wednesday night on Sunday afternoon.

The same thing goes for breakfast - I forget to pick up groceries for it. This is an exceptional pickle to place yourself in because it's a bit more difficult to convince yourself to eat pasta for breakfast. This got me thinking about a satisfying breakfast I could make with just what we had on hand.

We have rice. Mountains of several kinds of rice, and enjoy them all. We truly love rice. The grocery store nearest to our home has a great deal on 5lb bags of un-enriched Jasmine rice from Thailand we buy once or twice a month. So, this morning when I was trying to figure out what to make for breakfast, I naturally reached for the rice.

Hot Jasmine Rice Breakfast

Serves 1

1 C water, brought to a boil
1/2 C Jasmine rice
3 Tbs cane sugar
Cinnamon, to taste
1/4 C soy milk
1 Tbs vegan butter

Add rice to boiling water and stir well. This will cook a little faster than a normal serving of rice will, so watch it carefully to prevent scorching. When the water is around half absorbed add the sugar and cinnamon and stir well. 
When the rice has finished cooking add the milk and butter, stir well, and enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nothing at all...

     Hey guys! This entry is going to be about nothing food related - just a check in to say hi, really.

After the holiday break that the whole world seemed to take from Thanksgiving till MLK Jr Day, it seems like things are finally back to normal and going in full swing. I'm enjoying that very much because it means more hours for me at work and it's easier to get business taken care of when you need to.

I know I've been a bit quiet lately, but all is well here. I've had some general stress with me only working part time hours and the boyfriend trying to get his IT business back up and running after his layoff at the end of last year. I've also been having issues with my transcripts and financial aid from Portland transferring back to Austin. Just a general mess, but that is what makes up life and keeps things interesting.

So other than work and trying to get my schooling straightened out, I've been looking for a better job, reading, and knitting. I went to a processing session today for a federal position that I've held in the past and I'm pretty sure that will go through for me. I've been trying to open up on what I'm inclined to read and ventured into westerns and I even picked up a couple of historical romance novels that were pretty interesting. I didn't know they were 'romance' at the time I began reading them and thought they were some pretty dirty novels in some spots, but once I was filled in on the fact they were also romance in addition to being historical fiction, I better understood.

Oh, upcoming books I'll be reviewing will include Potato Salad by Debbie Moose, Kids Fun and Healthy Cookbook (I'm excited about that one and I don't even have kids!), and the Autism and ADHD Diet.

Keeping this short, so that's all for now. I'll be back in February with more reviews and hopefully a new recipe or two for you guys.
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Cookbook Review: Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko

     This book review has been a long time coming. I received Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko back in August as a pre-release and have been holding onto it and thinking about it for quite a while.

I was not familiar with Boutenko's past with green smoothies and a raw lifestyle before I read this book. I thought it would be an interesting read, and I'm all for learning about new diet suggestions and the reasoning behind it. I do not buy into many of these prescribed “diets” because I truly believe that dietary habits should be part of your lifestyle, fitting in and complimenting your activity levels and personal needs.

That is another blog for another day...

Green for Life initially caught my interest because there are times when I crave greens as bad as I crave sweets! Lentil soup with tons of spinach and kale, kale chips, pureed spinach sauce over curried chickpeas and rice, and butter lettuce salads are some of the things I've been eating lately. I've been trying to find easier ways to get in larger quantities of greens in our meals and thought that this book would provide some ideas to grow from.

The book begins with a back story of her family and the medical problems they were plagued with, including hyperthyroidism, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, fatigue, arrhythmia, edema, asthma, allergies, depression, and diabetes. There is a triumphant turning point in which the author cries all night, dramatically changes the family's dietary intake, and they run a 10k three months later to celebrate their awesome health.

I have no doubt that this happened, but I do doubt that it was the raw and green foods that did that. I'm not saying that they hindered their progress to this point, either. What I would like to call attention to is the fact that any sort of dramatic beneficial change to your diet is going to have dramatic impact on your overall health. 

My main issue with the book is that I feel Boutenko is trying to sell her particular path or way of doing things without recognizing that there might be others out there that will not benefit from the suggestions as described. For instance, there is an entire section in the book devoted to testimonials from people who have gone on a 30 day green smoothie drinking 'cleanse' and had success. This section is followed by a question and answer session from other participants outlining their energy levels, elimination habits, and overall wellbeing before, during, and after the 30 day trial. This makes it feel a bit gimicky to me, but that's just one opinion.

The Amazon page has many 5 star reviews of people who are thrilled with the book and have adopted drinking their green smoothies everyday.

I did enjoy the book and the few recipes they did give, but what's wrong with just eating 4 kiwis and 2 bananas with a huge salad and a glass of water? Again, I'm sure that's just me.

I'd save your money on this book, or just browse through it at the store to get the general idea. I wish there was more emphasis on greens in addition to your already healthy-ish lifestyle, rather than pushing a green smoothie lifestyle that can fix all kinds of issues.
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley & Melissa Clark

     I recently came across The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley & Melissa Clark while I was browsing Amazon and instantly added it to the wish list to buy it when my financial days are a bit sunnier. I knew I would love it from the reviews and the awards it has won. Thomas, the boyfriend, saw it on the wish list a couple of days later and got it for me as a late holiday gift from for much cheaper.

     Out of the roughly 400 pages worth of recipes, only about 55 to 60 of them are not useable by those with Celiac. And I love that! In fact, most of the recipes are vegan or can be quite easily made vegan. Again, I love that!

     The book comes with high reviews from Amazon users and the author's other books have also garnered high marks from readers. I can see why with such a useful, non-intimidating, and delicious array of recipes that are broken down by type and season. There are no pictures of the meals, a feature that I like as it does not give false expectations (or hope!) to struggling / aspiring chefs. The book does, however, feature zine-like illustrations that show particular preparation methods, mostly of dough preparation and vegetable chopping.

     The book is divided into sections – Soups & Stews; Seasonal Salads; Vegetables; Pasta, Whole Grains, Polenta, Risotto, & Porridge; Beans & Pulses; Tofu, Tempeh, & Seitan; Breads; Condiments & Sauces; Desserts; Seasonal Menus. Each of these sections is further divided into subcategories like seasons, hot or cold, side or main entree, and dips or spreads.

     I heartily recommend this cookbook to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike. I have not had many chances to cook out of this book yet, but I've already tagged a couple recipes to try out and I'll be sure to let you know when I do. The ingredients are made up of basic items that someone who is living outside of a metropolitan hub can have a fairly easy time finding. A few of the ethnic ingredients might be more challenging to find, but 99% of the ingredients called for can be gotten on a basic trip to the grocery store making it quite practical.

     Another point I want to mention, although it has nothing to do with the quality or variety of recipes, is the layout of the book. It's quite a visual book despite the lack of photos. the typesetting is enjoyable and the layout makes it easy to keep your place when only half paying attention.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Allergy-Free Cookbook by Eileen Yoder

     Eileen Yoder has serious experience dealing with food allergies. She states in the preface to her second edition of *The Allergy-Free Cookbook*, her family has five generations of known food allergies. Some allergies are the same for one or two people and other allergens vary. As you can imagine, this cookbook came about out of sheer necessity.

     Yoder's cookbook is laid out so that information you might be searching for is easy to locate. There are two parts to the book. Part one is planning. Here, a section on replacements for the common allergens such as eggs, milk, and soy can all be found in one place, a section for dealing with children and food allergies has its own chapter, and easy ways to start and maintain an allergy-free diet can be found in another place. Part two is the recipes and begins with menus and lots of tips with shortcuts and time savers. Part two ends with listings of foods and their families, a very handy chart for those who are allergic to whole families of foods such as nightshades or

     The only unexpected thing I noticed in *The Allergy-Free Cookbook* is that while the front cover states “How to avoid the 8 major food allergens and eat happily ever after”, some of the recipes include these very ingredients. I had assumed when I got the cookbook (which I got here, by the way) that all of the recipes would be free of these allergens.

     Its not a big deal at all, and the cookbook is still an invaluable resource that can save your sanity if you are trying to meal plan and avoid more than one or two food allergens.

     While not all of the recipes are gluten free, many are gluten free naturally or can be easily adapted. There does seem to be quite a few recipes that call for wheat, rye, oats or oat flour, and barley. While these grains are usually easy to substitute out with other grains or a gluten free oat in most of the recipes, there are a few recipes that might prove more challenging to convert than others.

Happy cooking!
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's A New Year!

     I really hope that everyone had a splendid holiday season and is now ready to get on with the business. It's seemed as though the majority of humanity took off for a three week vacation while a few of us common folk were left milling around work and home.

     My holiday was relaxing. I was able to see my family and exchange a few gifts with one another. That is more than I could have asked for, but I am ready to get back to the business part of the calendar year.

     This will be a big year for me - I can feel it! It is the year of the rabbit, after all. I do have a strange affinity towards rabbits being born in the last year of the rabbit and owning a pet rabbit.

     Enough of that superstition! Here's to a great year filled with less bills than last year, a full refrigerator, cherished memories, a clean kitchen, hot coffee and cold water, loving family, and more changes and challenges than I can keep up with!
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