Sunday, February 6, 2011

Healing With Food

Last night, we had this yummy pasta dish that you can find here. It was scrumptious!
What is it about garlic, fresh lemon and spinach that makes you want to stomp your feet in ecstasy? (Am I the only person that stomps in ecstasy? Somehow, closing my eyes isn't expressive enough.)
My sister, friend and I got together last week to swap recipes. Our aim was to come away with 3 weeks' worth of menus that we can all try at home, then compare notes on which recipes are keepers and which are throw aways. Some of the recipes are family favorites, others we've found in favorite cookbooks and blogs.
Our ultimate aim is to work our way towards developing menus with recipes that a) use ingredients that are in season, b) use primarily whole foods, and c) are meatless, for at least one main dish per week. (Once we get into the spring and summer, we'll reduce the amount of meat even further, in keeping with counsel that proscribes eating meat only in winter, when plant-based, nutrient-packed foods are less plentiful, or in times of famine.)
This first round of recipes that we shared didn't quite hit our mark, but I know we'll be refining as we go. In our defense, among the three of us, between the time we met for lunch on Monday and set a date to get back together on Friday, we had a little guy who had multiple seizures resulting in consultations with docs about moving forward with the brain surgery this 3-year-old's family had hoped to avoid; a child with heart issues that landed him in an ambulance then off to the cardiologist 4 hours away; a girlie undergoing her first anesthesia experience for an endoscopy and colonoscopy; and one broken toe. Collectively, we didn't get as much time to prepare for our menus as we'd hoped.
Still, we didn't cancel (well, we rescheduled in the midst of the heart and seizure drama), because the aforementioned health issues in our kiddos were the catalyst for our getting together in the first place. So, while we didn't meet that Friday, we made sure we got together the next.
We feel strongly that we're going to find that a focus on diet and nutrition is going to help our families become healthier. We want to cook clean, seasonal meals and learn more about the antioxidant, immune-boosting, heart healthy, alkaline-encouraging foods that will move our families to greater health.
In another post, I'll detail the many maladies our families need to overcome. Suffice it to say we're taking steps now to break the chains of poor health by treating with diet, even as we work to educate ourselves about other natural health-boosting methods.
We're looking forward to establishing a legacy of good health and healthy habits that will be ingrained in our children from their earliest memories, so healthy living will just be what they do. What better gift could we give our families?
We'll keep you posted on our progress. But for now, take a look at just a few of the yummy dishes we've had this week:
First, let me start off with our guiltiest pleasure. Would any menu be complete without a Pioneer Woman recipe these days? Here's PW's beef stroganoff that we greatly enjoyed during our coldest week this winter. Mike said he would have been happy to leave out the beef and just have the rest, it was that yummy. Mine turned out a little thick - I would thin the sauce next time. Now, this dish doesn't get great marks in the heart-healthy category, but I tell you what, this dish would definitely power you through a day of woodcutting! It's a sturdy meal, for sure. What's awesome about this dish? It doesn't use canned Cream of Anything soup. Decadent, yes, but not full of preservatives.

Early this week we had this Thai pumpkin soup from 101 Cookbooks, whose blog I could happily eat my way through over the next year.

We used more curry paste than she called for, and a little more brown sugar, because if it doesn't taste like a dessert soup, then is it really worth it? ;) Just kidding, we love our non-dessert soups just fine, but it was just so easy to go over the line on this one on a cold winter's night. The kids and I loved it. Mike declared it baby food - but he didn't try the extra brown sugar version, so I'm not sure he made a fair assessment. What I loved about this soup was that I got to use acorn squash, which are just such fun to have riding around in your grocery cart. And, I got to use my new toy, which I know any self-respecting cook has had around her kitchen for years, but I just got mine last month.
I picked up this inexpensive Hamilton Beach hand blender for under $25 at WalMart. This cheapie will do just fine...for now.
After the soup, we tried some quesadillas my sister brought to the table, with spinach, white beans, chicken, whole wheat tortillas and mozzarella cheese. This version of this Southwest favorite was baked rather than grilled or fried. I've misplaced the recipe or I'd include the link here because they are definitely worth trying.
Tonight, we had these Sesame green beans with our Sunday dinner. Soy sauce, sesame seeds, peanut butter, tons of fresh garlic and, yes, brown sugar coating crisp green beans. I decided I could eat these beans for every meal, for every day, for the rest of my life, and be happy. Fat, but oh, so happy!

I am looking forward to making this scrumptious dish tomorrow from the maker of the Thai soup above:

See what I mean? We haven't quite refined our recipe picks, as asparagus isn't in season yet. But, they had some at Safeway yesterday, so I figured all's fair in love and food. (Plus, it's seasonal eating in Australia, right?!?) I'll let you know how this quinoa dish is received. The roasted walnuts and carmelized onions alone have my mouth watering. To be true to the seasonal eating goal, we could trade the asparagus for a roasted root veggie and probably have the same blessed savory experience.
If you haven't guessed, my kiddos have pretty liberal palates, which is a big plus in this culinary adventure. They're up for just about anything, so we'll be able to incorporate lots of new flavors and textures in our diets without anyone clamping their lips shut and refusing to pick up their forks. I know it's going to be fun and I expect we'll be getting healthier along the way.

Happy eating!
Love from the farm,


  1. I'm getting hungry just looking at your photos of your delicious meals. Must try the pumpkin soup as I have everything I need on hand (including 2 pumpkins waiting patiently to be used up).

  2. Heather,
    First, I love that I'm hearing from YOU because I love your blog! So, first, I'm honored! ;)
    But I'm blushing for another reason, which is, I pulled the photos from the blogs where I found the recipes, thinking as long as I provided a link to the blogs, it was cool. I had that niggling concern that I was committing a blogging faux pas...seeing you refer to the photos as mine sealed it. I don't want to take someone else's credit. Moving forward, I'll take my own (likely much less beautiful) food shots. In the mean time, try the recipes anyway - they're yum! Cheers, Teri