Be Simple!More with Less
When my daughter was little, I, like all good mothers, tried to incorporate healthy snacks into her diet. My goal was to keep her out of her great grandmother’s infamous “candy drawer.” You know what I’m talking about—that drawer with bags of M&Ms, Butterfingers, candy corn and chocolate covered peanuts. At Easter, you could find those bizarre speckled malted milk eggs that turned your lips white, peeps of all colors and big chocolate bunnies—usually solid.
To be fair, we all dipped into that drawer in my grandma’s bedroom. She delighted in our petty crimes. And more than once, I overheard my daughter and my grandma in deep conversations about life, love and justice while sharing a Russell Stover’s chocolate bunny or a “Bit O Honey.” Why would I interfere? Sweetness was happening on so many levels.
We eat cornbread and polenta often in my house. That cornmeal flavor is a particular favorite of mine—polenta for breakfast, cornbread for dinner and even cornmeal layer cake for dessert! I love the way rich corn flavor plays off other ingredients like maple syrup, spicy sauces and even—you might recall this post—apple pie filling for an amazing stuffed coffee cake.
So it was sort of a given that once I fell in love with Zubi’s yummy Tex-Mex sauces, I’d eventually use them in a cornmeal recipe. And I did! Well…it wasn’t cornmeal exactly….it was corn flour—lighter, brighter, with strong corn flavor. This recipe really changes the texture of traditional skillet cornbread, turning it more like cake, which allows the Zubi Salsa and Queso to really shine. And it’s easy! Yes, it is. I see that look. Be brave.
I began the month of November with a feel-good activity—I volunteered with my local heroes at Bring Your Own Glen-Ed, a community-based volunteer organization devoted to ridding our planet of plastic pollution, on a highway cleanup campaign. Times are risky in many ways this year—a year like none other I can remember, honestly. But we planned well, took all necessary “pandemic precautions,” and did the good work.
I love these guys for their unwavering motivation and dedication to heal our planet. So I really wanted to be there for them on that first chilly Saturday morning in November. And being there for others means taking personal care of yourself, yes? Enter The New Hope Network with a blogger box product that is now a mainstay in my house: Iconic Grass-Fed Protein Drinks.
It never fails: every holiday season my daughter makes the same request for my Curried Butternut Squash Soup. And while this is quite the compliment, I try to remind her that I have a whole folder full of recipes for butternuts. She never wavers, and I always give in. This year will be no exception. But that concession doesn’t stop me from encouraging her to explore my other butternut favorites, like the layered casserole I made a couple Christmases ago, or the Blonde on Blonde Pasta dish that has become my personal favorite. In fact, I try something new with butternuts every year, including this year.
We love Halloween in my house—the sweet part of it, right? The little trick-or-treaters in their costumes, the homemade goodies for family and friends at harvest gatherings, the seasonal displays of pumpkins and gourds, squeals and laughter. But we don’t mind getting a little salty either, especially when it comes to snacking: just the right combination of salt and sugar is the magic incantation for those treats so good you just can’t stop eating.
But they should be at least a little healthy right? I mean, if you are going to eat a lot of a snack, it should have nutritional benefit, don’t you think? Okay, before you think I’ve taken all the fun out of Halloween, consider my newest creation: Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas. A little bit corn nut, a little bit Payday candy bar in a protein-packed snack. TaDa!
Last year I made the decision to start ripping up my front yard—eventually I mean to rip up all my yard. The plan is to give back some of my land to the Earth: remember last year’s post She Went Native Right in the Front Yard? With the help of local native plant expert Tom Shirrell and my daughter Heather, I took out several feet of typical, useless suburban turf and handed it over to cone flowers, foxglove, monarda, hyssop, yarrow, milkweed and bee balm. A transformation from “doing something to the Earth” to “doing something for the Earth” had begun.
The kitchen as classroom—it’s certainly not a new concept. A culinary hero of mine, Alice Waters, was one of the first chefs to identify this idea with her Edible Schoolyard Project, a project that has since taken on a life of its own and been replicated in myriad ways globally, helping children understand where their food comes from, that a healthy plant-based diet can be delicious when deliciously prepared, and how cooking fosters skills that we all need. This idea is different from seeing a kitchen as a place where one learns to cook; it’s reimagining this functional space as a place where one cooks to learn.
While I count ice cream among my top 10 favorite desserts—pretty close to number one, in fact—nothing beats a fruity sorbet on a hot summer day. It is sweet, clean, light and cooling to the entire body. I have never met a sorbet I didn’t love, including some off-the-wall ones that combine herbs and ground pepper flakes with standard fruits and flavors. Pineapple, mango and cayenne anyone?
Right now, though, I’m all about berries—blueberries and raspberries, specifically. The farmers markets are brimming with them. They are so good and so versatile, but their season is so short! When you buy, don’t forget to use a little restraint and freeze some for pies this coming fall and winter (I had to remind myself of this several times.). This week, however, I’m doing something frozen and super simple…let’s make a berry sorbet!
It is summer! And for my family this year, it has been the season of gardening and living green. We finally expanded and fenced in our vegetable garden. If the crops fail, I won’t be blaming the deer this year. With a little luck and a lot of faith we may get some tomatoes, beans, potatoes, Brussel sprouts and kale. My little strawberry plant is still too small, but I did spy one tiny berry! I have expanded my herb garden, too, and our front yard is teeming with the pollinator plants I’ve been putting in for the past three years. While we will never be farmers, or herbalists, or native plant experts, it all feels wonderful. So satisfying. So connected to the Earth. And at the end of the day…I’m sore as hell and Don has a smell way beyond sweaty. You, too? I’ve got suggestions, so keep reading.
Well we are closing in on Cinco De Mayo, yes? Not going to a big party? Then let the party come to you! I knew when the latest New Hope Network Blogger Box arrived, my little starter set of Zubi’s Organic Queso de Jalapeño, Crema de Jalapeño and Zubi Salsa were going to be a big hit. So I just didn’t tell Don they were vegan. A slight omission that he never even questioned. He just kept shoving tacos in his mouth and reaching for more sauce.
Kefir is a natural for smoothies, much like a runny yogurt with a bit more tang and TONS of probiotics. When my latest New Hope Network Blogger Box arrived with a sample of Growing Naturals A.M. Energy One & Done SuperShake, it was a no-brainer. Let’s make smoothies!
Ever since the Women’s Movement began in the 70s, women have taken on one challenge after another. While we have won many hard-fought victories, it seems to me that some what we’ve gained is something we’ve had all along… the ability to multi-task. No offense guys, but women are natural organizers.
I have several friends with whom I share a lot of passions—love of the outdoors, farmers markets, gardening, and environmental activism, among many other loves. Food is always top of the list, and I’m sure this is not a surprise to you. Conversations with my friends about food come up all the time, and sometimes these heart-to-hearts on all things yummy, healthy and local turn into something really special—in this case, bacteria. Say what?
You know me: why buy power bars when you can make them yourself? You will have total control over the ingredients, avoid the plastic wrapper and enjoy a much more delightful dining experience. Well, that’s my opinion, anyway. And making your own bars, snack balls and cookies is much easier than people imagine. This recipe makes quite a supply of tasty, healthy, flexible bars that will be ready in your frig for up to two weeks. After that, they are probably still fine to eat, but will lack flavor and freshness. However, I’m guessing that if you make them and eat one, storing them longer than two weeks just won’t be a problem. Yummy.
My new favorite Blogger Box product–Natreve French Vanilla Wafer Sundae Vegan Protein—takes the spotlight for Valentine’s Day 2020 in this rich and creamy strawberry smoothie, laced with organic natural cacao. Think those Valentine’s Day chocolate covered strawberries but minus the tons of sugar, questionably sourced and processed chocolate, and less-than-fresh tasting strawberries.
No, this is not my description of the winter months. All regular Green Gal readers know that I am already ungratefully counting the days until the pool opens. But, I bet my Frozen “Pear-adise” dessert will make the rest of winter much sweeter. Whatcha think?
This recipe began as many of my recipes do with a leftover. In this case, I had an extra quarter-cup of pumpkin puree with nowhere to go. You see, you can’t buy a two-cup pumpkin for your pie—you buy a pumpkin, roast, puree, strain and measure. Being one of the best food values going, an average pumpkin will yield up to 10 cups of puree. Really, one nice sized pumpkin is all you need for cookies, pies, soups and cakes during the holidays. But sometimes, there’s a little bit extra.
Cold, wet outside air meets dry indoor heat. It’s a match made…well certainly not in heaven. Chafed skin, brittle nails and peeling cuticles… so how are those busy little hands these days? If yours are like mine in winter, the answer is NOT GOOD. But I have found some help from the New Hope Network Blogger Box and a favorite new company, Herbal Healing.
Afterwords Books is a family-owned local bookstore, celebrating 10 years in Edwardsville. Customers can purchase new and used books, take advantage of a trade-for-credit program and join a book club like ours—there are clubs going on all the time at Afterwords, for every age and interest. Little shoppers also can enjoy the free children’s story times, while others participate in a thriving monthly documentary club. People come to shop for books at Afterwords, to be sure, but they linger for the community, conversation and coffee and tea.
What I love most about blogging is the creative witchcraft that takes place. Whether I’ve just discovered another blogger with great cooking ideas, or I’ve dipped into New Hope Network’s Blogger Box for the next Green Gal recommendation, or one of my friends passes on a fabulous recipe that was passed on by someone who found it on another blog somewhere out in the Universe, bloggers are a magic force of sophisticated sorcery.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville celebrates Diversity Day each October. Across the campus students, faculty and community members engage in various activities focused on the beauty of our differences and the power of our commonalities.
Overall, I’d say I’m a pretty stable and balanced person. Of course, a survey of family and friends might reveal a slightly different opinion, if I’m caught at the “right moment.” And, I’m guessing you have had some of those “right moments” too, when everything in your life is in overdrive, when every box on your little calendar is full. Sometimes it is just the simple and natural change of seasons that can push me a step past coping, especially if all the other factors are in play. And this pretty much describes my September 2019. But still I try to be strong, soldier through, resist help.
Can you say “stubborn”?
Yes, I think we are talking tradition now. At the end of last summer, I decided to review the many delicious items that arrive quarterly in my New Hope Blogger Network Box for perfectly healthy lunchbox treats. It went so well, I have decided to repeat the idea with some new selections that are tasty, healthy and planet-friendly. So no excuses as you pack up the family lunches because there are both kid-friendly and grown-up choices that will help you keep highly processed foods out of your kitchen and missing from your desk at the office
So, candy. Should it have a place in your diet? Well, if you read this blog consistently, you will know that I feel candy, despite its usually terrible rep, has a place, albeit a conservatively small place, in a healthy diet. What we eat, whether we are conscious of it or not, is more than just nutrition and, in my mind, shouldn’t be restricted to the point we feel deprived.