The Quest for a Green Kitchen Continues…

Considering that I speak sustainability for a living and call myself Lean Green MP, I really don’t blog enough about going green in the environmental sense.

Tonight, I’m going to a compost class, and I’m pretty excited. I started composting when I started eating better, but I’m still quite the beginner. I’ll be sure to share any great tips I get.

Until then, enjoy this great article I came across over the weekend: 10 Food Rules to Live By. It sounds like it’s about the right foods to eat, and to some extent, it is; it’s also a list of ways to make your kitchen more sustainable, which I really need to do. (But, I do have a green kitchen. Literally, it’s painted green!)

  • One thing I already do is to “eat meatless on Mondays.” Well, not always on Mondays, but I do try to go meatless one day a week.
  • The thing that most surprised me? The energy-efficiency of a slow cooker. I have one, and I use it from time to time, but mostly for convenience. It never occurred to me that it’s also energy efficient.
  • The thing I could most work on, at least from this list? That’s easy — loving lentils. I’ve tried them a few times, but  haven’t really acquired a taste for them. (Got any good lentil recipes to share?)

How about you? Looking at this list, what do you already do? Anything surprise you? What could you most work on?


HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY with This Recipe!

I have not been this happy about food in quite some time!

I love eating better, and I love even more how it makes me feel. But happy or excited about food? Not especially. I can’t even say I was excited about food before, except maybe when I got to eat something I hadn’t had in a while, like Bob’s Pizza in Gramma’s old town.

But last night, I made Glazed Tofu, and it made me happy!

Years ago, there was a great Chinese restaurant on Decker Boulevard called The Orient. It was one of a kind. Recipes were named after local celebrities who frequented it, and you always saw someone you knew there. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food, but there was one dish there I loved, cheese tofu. Never had anything else like it. Until tonight! The Glazed Tofu isn’t exactly the same thing, but darn close.

I found this recipe in Nutrition Action Newsletter, which I discovered through Mom. I love the newsletter, and I’m thinking about giving a subscription or two for Christmas!

A New Recipe for the 4th

This morning is a “cool” 78-degrees, so I got up early and did my oven cooking before it got too hot. (I just don’t have it in me to cook when it’s 95 degrees!)

This morning, I tried a new “Meatless Monday” recipe: Wild Rice Black-Eyed Pea Patties. They are pretty good, and will be much better when I fix them up and add some good sides.

Next was an old favorite, Walnut Crusted Chicken. Made two batches: one for this week, one for the freezer.

Oven off, and now taking a break to watch the closing arguments for the Casey Anthony trial. In a bit, I’ll take on a few non-oven dishes!


Favorite Recipe Yet


YUMMY! Sister actually found this recipe on Twitter; @JasonGraphix posted it after his wife, @bakecaker made them. DELISH!

Here is a link to the recipe. I made a few small changes: I used Truvia instead of sugar and substituted whole wheat flour for plain. Since Truvia is sweeter than sugar, I only used 1/2 as much. I also used low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

Folks, I kid you not, these are delish! We were suspect, but after one bite, we were sold!

Even better than the recipe, quinoa is a superfood!


Fat, But Happy: Why French Fries Are Such Good Comfort Food

Thanks to Meatless Monday for tweeting this Time article today.

Ever wonder why French fries, potato chips and Cheetos are so appealing when you’re feeling stressed? A new study suggests that elevated levels of salt in the body lower stress hormones and raise levels of oxytocin, a hormone involved in love and other social connections.

The research, which was conducted in rats, was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It found that rats’ response to a stressful situation — being tied down — depended on how much salt they had in their bodies. When restrained, rats with high salt levels showed less activity in their brain’s stress systems, compared with rats with normal salt levels.

Having high salt levels is technically called hypernatremia (geeky fact: the word suggests high levels of NA, the chemical abbreviation for the element sodium, which is an important part of salt), and rats in this state also recovered faster from being stressed.

Moreover, the hypernatremic rats had elevated levels of oxytocin — a compound known as the “love hormone” for its role in helping to create social bonds, between friends, lovers or parents and children. Oxytocin is crucial to the processes that allow love and social contact to reduce stress. Not surprisingly, rats with lots of oxytocin showed less anxiety in social interactions. (The effects of oxytocin are complicated, however — it doesn’t always produce love and trust — but it is a significant player in those emotions.

Bartenders often provide salty snacks to capitalize on what having hypernatremia is most likely to make you feel:  thirst. And indeed, drinking behavior may provide a clue as to why salt may be stress-relieving.

“We’re calling this the Watering Hole Effect,” said lead author Eric Krause, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, in a press release. “When you’re thirsty, you have to overcome some amount of fear and anxiety to approach a communal water source. And you want to facilitate those interactions — that way everyone can get to the water source.”

No matter what they happen to be serving…

Mahhhhvelous Monday

I don’t know if it was the kickin’ session that I had with Daniel this a.m. or the baby Brussel sprouts, but I am having a fabu Monday!

This a.m.’s workout was different, perhaps just my attitude. I did some new exercises, but I felt so empowered! I remember that four weeks ago I thought I couldn’t do push ups or crunches, and now, I look forward to them as they’re the easiest for me to do! I was tired and sweaty when I left, but felt really, really good. (I also noticed that my fave workout shorts are getting big in the waist!)

After a quick shower and change, I ran to Wal-Mart to get, among other things, a roasting pan so I could roast veggies tonight. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find the baby Brussels, but will settle for trying broccoli and cauliflower.

On the way in to the office, I stopped by Starbucks. I saw a few folks, including our Colonial rep. I had some insurance questions for him, and on the way out, he asked, “How much weight have you lost?” Nice way to start the day.

Today is “Meatless Monday,” so I’m home for lunch to do a little prep for tonight’s dinner. I realized what I did wrong with the tofu last week – I used the wrong veggie puree – so I’m looking forward to a success this evening. I just set up the food processor and cleared off the counters, so I can get started soon after I get home.

I realize that I’ll probably hit the wall around 3 p.m., but for now, I’m enjoying today’s positive energy!

I Ate a Brussels Sprout and I Liked It

Baby Brussels sprouts. Those cute little mini cabbage looking things. Mom had some at dinner, and I ate four of them. And kinda liked them. They tasted a little like green peas, which I really like. I actually ate FOUR of them.

And I’ve always wondered about the name. Here’s what I found: Brussels Sprouts were named after the capital of Belgium where it is thought that they were first cultivated. They are also one of the few vegetables to have originated in northern Europe. They were first introduced to France and England in the nineteenth century where they continue to be a popular food. French settlers who settled in Louisiana introduced them to America.

So the last goal of the week is to make a bean dip from one of four recipes that Traci gave me. I think I will have to do that tomorrow. Tomorrow is a 4:30 a.m. day – I have to get to the gym early to get one of the good bikes in time to do my 30 minutes before my 5:30 a.m. appointment with Daniel the Trainer.

I didn’t get to the bean dip, but I did make two types of soup for the week ahead: taco soup and black bean soup. I also made plans for “Meatless Monday” – I’m actually going to try the tofu dish again. (Fingers crossed!)

Meatless Monday and Other Notes

Today we’re doing Meatless Monday. For dinner, spaghetti with meatless sauce. I need to work on the sauce. Big time! But it was ok.

Had a busy day – last minute conference preps and then half a day set up at the convention center. Took my lunch and snacks, but boy, was I hungry by the time I got home. Tomorrow’s challenge is to take lunch and snacks, and not to wig out on food under stress. I need to be prepared with my own food as there will be plenty of not so healthy food at the event.

Today was my second workout. Wow, it was something! I got there early and got in my 30 minutes of cardio. I knew I wouldn’t want to do it tonight. Then the trainer put me through some circuits, including squats, push ups, seated rows and lots of others.

Since I’ll have to be at the convention center tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., I will most likely not get my cardio in tomorrow.  But I will be doing a lot of running around, so maybe it won’t be so bad. Like Robert said today, this is a lifestyle change; you can’t be perfect every day for the rest of your life.

Robert gave me two great tips today (aside from the one above). Kroger has the best fat-free cottage cheese, and whole wheat thin spaghetti is better than whole wheat regular spaghetti.