>Healthy Banana Bread


Tonight, I am baking for the girls’ snack day at school tomorrow – so, healthy banana bread it is!  I have been paying with this recipe for years – and honestly, I don’t think I ever use the same one twice.  Hopefully, now that its in writing…I might have more consistent outcomes!!!

2c   Organic Whole Grain Pastry Flour
¾ t Baking Soda
½ t Sea Salt
1c  Sucanat (Pure Evaporated Cane Juice)
¼ c Butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ½ c Mashed ripe banana
1/3 c plain no fat greek yogurt
1 t vanilla extract
cooking spray

*preheat the oven to 350 degrees
*in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk
*with a blender in a large bowl, or in your stand mixer, blend Sucanat and butter until incorporated
*add eggs one a time, mixing in between
*add banana, yogurt and vanilla – mix
*slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until moist, but do not over-mix
*coat loaf pan with cooking spray, and pour mixture into pan
*bake for 1 hour
*let sit in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes
*remove, slice and enjoy!


>Vegetable Barley

>Today, during a trip into Boston with my Dad, I saw a sign that made me pull over:
“Live Poultry, Fresh Killed”.  It was Mayflower Poultry in Cambridge, MA.

I went in to check it out and came out with a whole organic chicken – killed and plucked on the property…and I asked them to remove the head and feet.  I still don’t know what to do with those parts, and although my Italian mother probably could have helped…I am not quite there yet.

So, along with the chicken, which is just lightly dusted with olive oil and sprinkled with cumin and a little fresh mint garnish, I am cooking Vegetable Barley and throwing together a salad – yum!

Vegetable Barley

1-2T olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 3/4c pearled barley
1 clove of garlic, minced
dried thyme (about 1t or to taste)
4c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2c sundried tomatoes (not packed in any oil or water), chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1c sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

*Heat oil in heavy pan
*Add onion and saute 5 minutes or until tender
*Add barley, garlic and thyme – stir for one minute
*Add broth, stir, and bring to a simmer over low heat, covered, for 45 minutes
*Meanwhile, saute vegetables in a separate pan lightly oiled for 5 minutes, or until tender
*When barley is ready, fluff, and stir in vegetables
*season as you’d like, and enjoy!

This is a great dish for cleaning out your veggies before they go bad!!!  Use anything you have on hand!

>Delish Quinoa

>My new favorite ingredient: Quinoa  

New fact of the day: Its a protein, not technically a grain. Huh! I am learning so much on this adventure – thanks, Tammi!  

So that you don’t make the same mistake I made and walk up to the nice Whole Foods staff and ask, “Could you tell me where I could find the “Quin-noah”? It is pronounced Keen-wah. Save yourself the giggling Whole Foods clerk episode!!!  

I also adapted this recipe – this time, from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.  

Here is what you’ll need:  
1c quinoa 
1.5T vegetable oil (I still like olive oil, but choose your oil) 
1/2 diced onions 
1t grated fresh ginger root 
dash of cayenne pepper (the original recipe also suggests 1/2 fresh green chile – minced) 
1/2t turmeric 
1/2t ground coriander 
1/4 ground cinnamon 
1/2 t sea salt 
1.75c water 
1/2c frozen peas 
1/2c dried, unsweetened cranberries (I added these for color and taste – love it!) 
2T fresh cilantro  

Another Quinoa fact: Rinse your quinoa first! Throw it in a strainer and rinse it under cold water. Also – I find these little things an have some serious static – so be prepared – they may try to fly away! 
*Warm the oil and saute the onions in a good sized saucepan.  
*Add the ginger, heat (cayenne or chile) and the quinoa – and stir constantly for a minute. 
*Stir in the spices (through salt), and stir continuously for another minute. *Add the water, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. 
*Add the peas and cook for 5 more minutes – or until all the water is absorbed and the peas are edible  
*Fluff with a fork, and add cranberries and cilantro before serving.  

I love this warm, but its also great chilled. I will admit, I think I’m slightly obsessed with this dish 🙂

>Cranberry Medallion Salad

>I’ve got a new one!!!

As I was mapping out the meals for the week on Saturday and Sunday (too many to choose from makes me a little distracted :)) I came across one in the new April Cooking Light that got its page dog-eared right away.  I saw some ingredients that I could improve, so I accepted my own challenge to make it, and make sure the whole family ate it!

1T cider vinegar
1T dijon mustard
3/4t Sucanat (substitute for brown sugar)
1.5t minced fresh garlic
1.25t dried thyme
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1/4″ thick medallions
3/4t sea salt (I used less – and it was plenty)
3/4t freshly ground black pepper
2T whole wheat or whole grain pastry flour (substitute for all-purpose flour)
1/4c olive oil
1/4c sliced shallots
1/4c dried cranberries (I prefer unsweetened)
1/4c cranberry juice (this called for cocktail, I used no sugar added – pure cranberry juice)
6c baby spinach
1 pear thinly sliced

*In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, Sucanat, 1/2t garlic and 1/4t thyme.
*In a big zip lock bag, combine the pork, remaining garlic, thyme, 1/3t salt (or less!) and 1/2t pepper.  *Shake it up!  Then add the flour – shake it up again!
*Heat 1T olive oil in a medium sized saucepan (medium heat).  Add shallots and cook until lightly browned.
*Add cranberries and juice, cook 2 minutes or until it reduces to about half.  Reduce the heat and add vinegar mixture.
*Cook one minute, and then slowly add the following:
1T oil, 1/4t salt, 1/4t pepper and whisk together.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
*Heat 1T oil in a large skillet (medium high heat)
*Working in two batches, cook the pork medallions for about 3 minutes, or until browned.
*Toss the finished pork with 1T warm cranberry mixture.

*Combine the spinach and pear, and toss with remaining cranberry mixture.

Plate salad, top with pork, and sit back and watch everyone dig in!

>Quick Harvest Sauce

>Tonight’s dinner was a quick prep meal, but left everyone full and my health conscious mind intact!  I literally ran in, showed my mom the clothes I bought us at Sara Campbell today, kissed my girls, took out the ingredients, and started to put it all together.  Mom was my prep chef tonight (thank you!) and she was also left to finish the meal and feed everyone, as I was out to a meeting before I knew it!

Here are the ingredients in my Quick Harvest Sauce – although I didn’t harvest any of the ingredients myself, some of the veggies were harvested by Winter Moon Farm in Massachusetts!

Olive oil – about 1T to coat the pan
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
3 organic, locally grown carrots (!), chopped
1 28oz can organic crushed tomatoes
1 15oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
One bunch of kale
sea salt and pepper to taste

Brown rice pasta

*Prepare pasta according to directions.

*Heat oil in saute pan over medium high heat.
*Add garlic and onion, saute for 5 minutes.
*Add carrots, cook 5 minutes.
*Add both cans of tomatoes, cover, and reduce heat to medium/medium-low.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are softer – but not too soft!
*Add kale, co0k for 5-7 more minutes.
*Add salt and pepper to taste.

*Combine pasta and sauce, serve 🙂

>Rainy Day Veggie Chili

>I love rainy days – if only because I tend to be productive inside the house. Today was my food shopping day, and since I’ve been home, I’ve only stopped cooking to write this up!  

For dinner tonight, we’re having Rainy Day Veggie Chili which is just the following ingredients cooked stovetop on simmer:  
4 cloves of garlic 
1 onion 
1 half butternut squash, peeled and seeded 
1 pkg firm tofu, drained and cubed 
2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added kidney beans 
2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added pinto beans 
2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans 
2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes 
1 12oz bottle of beer  
2T adobo seasoning 
2T chili powder 
1T unsweetened cocoa powder 
1-2t cinnamon 
<1T agave nectar  

Cook garlic and onion with a little bit of olive oil in a dutch oven for about 5 minutes 
Add diced butternut squash, cook 3-5 minutes 
Add cubed tofu, then add half of each adobo and chili seasoning – mix together 
Add beans, tomatoes, beer and remaining ingredients 
Mix together and simmer until it reaches desired consistency, or until you can’t wait any longer!

>Favorite Breakfasts

>Good morning!

Right now, I am contemplating what to eat for breakfast.  I am going back and forth between my newest staples:  Steel Cut Oatmeal or Veggie Eggs.  In case you are in the same boat – here is how I wake up during the week:

Sweet Wholesome Irish Girl
1/4c Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats
3/4c water
1-2tsp pure Maple Syrup/Honey/Agave Nectar
A dash of cinnamon
Fresh fruit

Boil the water in a small sauce pan and add the oats
Turn down heat to simmer and stir frequently, cooking for about 7 minutes
Stir in 1T of your preferred sweetener – using only as much as you need/want – an cinnamon
Serve with fresh fruit (I love bananas, blueberries or apples)

Veggie Eggs
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1/4c sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/4c fresh basil, torn
1/4c diced tomatoes
1T goat cheese

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat
Mix together first 5 ingredients
Coat pan with cooking spray, or olive oil in a spritz container
Add egg mixture to pan, in either omlette form or scramble it
Cook until almost firm and veggies are warmed through, add goat cheese

PS – its cold and rainy today – so oatmeal is calling my name!

>A new week – kinda

>Hello again!  Its Saturday, which for me means the day when I plan my food lists, weekend errands, and activities to keep the kids active and happy for our days off!  Kind of like a new week – for my kitchen!  Its been a different week as Nonna and Beppo have been on a well deserved, although not so relaxing vacation, and I’ve been still cooking healthy foods – but its been a little grain heavy…and I think we’re all feeling it!  I’m not excited that Jason and I feel like sludge, but I’m happy that we’re noticing the differences – it means we’re making progress, right?

So, in my efforts to find recipes for inspiration – to either try or adapt – I have discovered Delicious Wisdom.  Its a great site with lots of fun clean recipes to try!

I also wanted to share that I have found another site to track my/our journey of healthy eating/better living.  Its www.wellthen.org.  You can find my stories there as well – probably a bit different so you don’t get bored!  Just look for perfectionistamamma there and we can journey through this fun experience together!

Check out the recipes that will follow this weekend!