Spaghetti Squash With a Quick Veggie Sauce

Beginner's Challenge.png

 

Welcome back!!

Here’s a quick recipe to go with this new video! First video up for 2016, woohoo! I filmed this in the beginning of November!

Here we go:

  • 1 large roasted spaghetti squash
  • 1 can of whole or crushed tomatoes (26 ounces)
  • 2 small zucchini diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) box of mushrooms (washed and sliced)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons of roasted garlic (previous recipe on the channel) OR 3 cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or whatever salt you like best
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag of Quorn meat substitute OR 1 lb ground turkey (if you use turkey, make sure to cook it thoroughly with the herbs and oil and then add veggies, this will keep the ground meat from drying out)
  1. Prepare your sauce by getting your blender ready and adding you can of tomatoes, garlic, and onion.
  2. Blend for 1 minute.
  3. Heat your pan with the herbs and olive oil for about a minute.
  4. Add your veggies and make sure they all get coated with herbs and the olive oil.
  5. Cover them for 3 minutes.
  6. Add your crumbles and mix.
  7. Cover again for 5 minutes.
  8. Then add your spaghetti squash and sauce.
  9. Cook thoroughly for about 5-7 minutes.
  10. (Optional) Top with the cheese of your choice!
  11. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Recipe (YouTube)

Advertisements

Carrot Cake Steel Cut Oats

Carrot cake

 

Here is my recipe for carrot cake inspired steel cut oats in a crock pot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Quaker Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 2 heaping cups of shredded carrots
  • 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup **optional**
  • 4 cups of coconut milk (not cream)
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons of chia gel (you can make this by putting 3 tablespoons of chia seeds in a jar with a cup of water and stir and wait about an hour until it’s a gel-like consistency) **optional**
  • You can add a few tablespoons of unsalted pecans or walnuts or slivered almonds too!

Set your crockpot to high and keep an eye on it every few hours because not all crock pots are the same and yours could take a little longer or a little less time.

The end result is a hearty and super flavorful breakfast for the rest of the week! I hope you try it and enjoy it!!

 

IMG_9586

Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots…

It was a crazy week but I really want to start posting more, so maybe I will set a few hours aside and queue up some recipes/posts and have them up throughout the next few weeks 🙂

First up from my Thanksgiving post are my carrot ribbons two ways!  They are two super simple recipes and don’t require a lot of ingredients, prep, or cook time.  They are not overpowering so they make a perfect side to most proteins and even make a great topping for pasta/rice and other veggies.

photo(2)

Sesame Ginger Carrot Ribbons

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large carrots washed and peeled with a veggie peeler (after they are washed and peeled, continue peeling carrots so they look like long ribbons)

1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds (if you only have plain sesame seeds that’s totally fine too)

1/3 cup water

1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of powdered ginger

  • In a covered medium sized sauce pan bring 1/3 cup of water to a light boil
  • Add powered ginger and make sure it’s dissolved
  • Add carrot ribbons to pan, combine them with the gingery liquid you just made, cover with lid again
  • Uncover after 2-3 minutes and continue to toss and mix so they wilt evenly
  • Continue to cook uncovered and keep mixing so they wilt **DO NOT COOK THOROUGHLY**
  • When you notice most of the water is gone (after about 2-3 more minutes)
  • Add sesame oil and black sesame seeds
  • Toss one last time and turn off the heat

Toasted Walnut Spiced Carrot Ribbons

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large carrots washed and peeled with a veggie peeler (after they are washed and peeled, continue peeling carrots so they look like long ribbons)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (you can toast these by heating a small pan, adding a spray of coconut oil/or your choice of oil spray, once that’s hot add your walnuts and toss in the pan for 2-4 minutes until they are darker/more golden in color – remove from pan and set aside)

3 tablespoons of brown sugar (light or dark – doesn’t matter)

1/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup of dried cranberries (I like to soak these in red wine and vanilla extract a few days ahead – it plumps them up really nicely, but this is optional)

  • In a covered medium sized sauce pan bring 1/3 cup of water to a light boil
  • Add brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg and make sure they are dissolved
  • Add carrot ribbons to pan, combine them with the spiced brown sugar liquid you just made, cover with lid again
  • Uncover after 2-3 minutes and continue to toss and mix so they wilt evenly
  • Continue to cook uncovered and keep mixing so they wilt **DO NOT COOK THOROUGHLY**
  • When you notice most of the water is gone (after about 2-3 more minutes)
  • Add toasted walnuts and cranberries
  • Toss one last time and turn off the heat

Optional: After done cooking you can top it with crumbled goat cheese like I did in the picture 🙂

Carrot ribbons are super easy to make — these are just two of the combinations I’ve tried.  The main thing is to wilt the carrots and not cook thoroughly so they have a bite to them — after that it’s all about what you have on hand. Other examples of how to make them are: sriracha and super finely diced ginger or adding a little coconut oil and almonds.

It’s been a while…

My last post was pretty depressmints — I was recovering from gallbladder surgery and on another round of antibiotics.  Thankfully,  I am feeling much better now and getting back to my regular routine.  A big part of my routine is cooking and this past Thursday/Thanksgiving I cooked until I could cook no mo’!

First off, I prepped and cooked the biggest turkey I have ever tackled — my brother, the turkey lover, bought a 26.2lb turkey this year!! The biggest I had ever cooked before was a 22 pounder a few years ago.  My prep for this bird was different this year since my mother, who is on blood thinners, has to limit her vitamin k intake and I usually marinate the turkey 2-3 days in advance in a garlic, onion, citrus and fresh herb blend.  So this year, since I can’t do an herb blend because they are high in vitamin k and I knew she wanted to use her daily intake here and there and not just with turkey I made it a different way.  I roasted the garlic vs. raw minced garlic, caramelized the onion vs raw chopped onion, I caramelized the citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, and tangerines), added smoked paprika (my favorite spice ever), liquid smoke, and himalayan sea salt.  The results were juicy, tender, and super flavorful – my method before was delicious but I think this new method elevated the flavors and worked really well to produce a really great tasting turkey 🙂

Here is what my plate looked like:

Image

As the week goes by I will do a breakdown of everything on the plate:

  1. roasted turkey
  2. sesame ginger carrot ribbons
  3. toasted walnut spiced carrot ribbons
  4. dairy-free scalloped potatoes
  5. apple, fennel, and celery salad w/honey mustard dressing
  6. savory and sweet carrot cake waffles
  7. kale salad with a Mediterranean twist
  8. vegan mushroom gravy
  9. tomato scones
  10. butternut squash baked shells and broccoli
  11. 3 different kinds of fresh salsas (smoked chilies, salsa roja, and salsa verde)
  12. orange-cranberry sauce

It might take me more than a week to do, but I made sure to take notes of my measurements and adjustments last week.  There are few people in the family with dietary restrictions, so as you can tell there was a lot of food and something for everyone.

So for the next week or so I will breakdown this delicious meal into recipes that can be used all year 🙂

I’m happy to be writing (about food) again!

 

I’m in repair. I’m not together, but I’m getting there…

This blog was supposed to be more about my culinary adventures, but that took a turn when I got sick this summer.  After spending 6 days in the hospital with my Mom who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and taking care of her at home and getting her back into her normal routine now that she is on blood thinners, I started suffering from gallbladder attacks.  I’ve had some painful things happen to me in my life but this felt like I was getting stabbed from the inside of my ribs.  I have a detailed story in my last post.

Long story, long.  I had my surgery on September 12th and it’s been a little over a month since then.  The recovery was slow and painful — I had a total of 9 stitches on my abdomen and got a cold right after the surgery.  So, imagine sniffling and coughing with 9 stitches on your belly — it sucked. Around the end of the second week back I started to feel better but as of today most of my stitches had not fallen off so I had to have them pulled and cut by hand today.  Along with other exams that were too painful to get through, today has been a painful day.

I’ve been through medical trauma before and it never gets easier.  Today, I just wanted to get through them but I couldn’t which sucks because eventually I will have to, but for tonight I just want to listen to Continuum a few times before I fall asleep.  I have another round of antibiotics start tomorrow.  So, hopefully that will help and bring me closer to feeling healthy.

The upside of today?  I am officially in the 160’s.  I now weigh 169.4lbs and my all-time heaviest was 248lbs back in 2009.  I have officially lost 56lbs this year!  This is a bittersweet victory but a victory nonetheless, right?  When friends and family ask why I’m not happier about it all I can say is that I am but until I have a clean bill of health I can’t really enjoy it.  My clothes fit better and I *want* to think about having that moment in a fitting room when I finally try on a pair of jeans that’s not a size 18, but when you work hard, eat clean, bust your ass and you land in the hospital because of gallbladder filled with stones or have medical exams that leave you in tears — you can’t enjoy weight-loss. I want to.  I’m not being dramatic.  Who wouldn’t want to enjoy it?  I just want to be healthy from the inside and outside…that’s all.

Turns out I don’t have acid reflux, I have a gallbladder full of stones…..

Last Friday I went through one of the most physically painful days of my entire life…

As I mentioned in the last post – it’s been a rough summer – first, with having my Mom being diagnosed with heart problems, being in the hospital with her for 6 days, taking care of her now that she has been put on blood thinners.  I don’t mind doing any of that, and when that happened I thought “hmm, this is the reason why being out of a job happened, so I can be there for her.”

And just when I got a handle on that, I started going through some really painful nights — horrible pressure and pain in my ribcage — which I could not figure out the reason for since I was eating super clean and working out daily at this point I had managed to lose almost 50lbs working hard.  The horrible nights started happening way too often — and being unemployed and uninsured my only option was to borrow money and go to a walk-in clinic.  Long story, short — both places I went to were for-profit/money-driven/could-not-care-less-about-the-patient places and I was diagnosed with acid reflux.  I was sold some medicine, but that didn’t help in the long run because the pains came back and they came back with a fury.

That was mid-June until the end of August when the pain got so bad, I was sweating buckets, crying and dialing (after much painful thought about the cost) 911.  The pain started around 11am, it was now about 2pm and no one was home to drive me, but even if they had been it meant being in a county hospital waiting to be seen which usually takes 3-6 hours, so I called 911 and between fits of pain, I was able to tell them what was going on.  Less than 2 minutes later there were EMTs at the door and I told them again what was going on and they took me to the closest (in my price-range aka county hospital) hospital.  On the ride there, I was strapped in sitting right next to my Mom — I couldn’t take it anymore, I took off the seat-belt and fumbled on to the stretcher — the EMT didn’t strap me in — not sure why but he didn’t — so my Mom almost had a panic attack the entire ride thinking I was going to fall off the bed since I was writhing around in so much pain.

We got to the hospital and the pain got worse — at this point I was in a wheelchair, crying, yelling that I needed help and that I felt like I was dying.  No nurse would give me the time of day — they just passed right by me.  My Mom grabbed the EMT that brought me in and asked him to please get a nurse before he left and he did -but it felt like he took hours instead of the minutes it probably took – the nurse couldn’t even get my blood pressure because I was twisting around in so much pain — I didn’t want to scream and cry but it was like I had these fists made of rocks pushing me from the inside out and at times it felt like I was getting stabbed from the inside out.  I couldn’t sit still for the 60 seconds the blood pressure machine takes — until my Mom held me down and I started counting and crying….

Finally, she took my vitals and wheeled me to a bed and told me to get on it.  Then, she told me a doctor would see me soon — so I’m crying and twisting on a bed begging for help on a bed in the hospital hall way, and I can’t take it anymore.  Then a student doctor comes over and asks me where the pain is and how long I’ve had it and I ask when it will stop that I’m going crazy  — he says the doctor will be there soon and help me.  The ER doc finally comes, asks me the same questions and says he is going to give me morphine — about 10 minutes later a nurse comes over and starts my IV and says I will feel better really soon, by this time my sister is in the ER with us.  I did, but not really — the pain was there, but not as strong — I ask for more and the doctor poked and prodded my belly and says he will send more morphine.  Finally, after the second dose — my hearing starts to come back all the way — which I didn’t even know it was gone, but the pain must have muffled my hearing.  Around 6pm, I get wheeled out of the hallway and behind a faux-room with a curtain dividing me from the guy next to me that is screaming from getting his lungs checked out.

The doc comes back and tells me he thinks I’m having problems with my gallbladder and that I’m going to have an ultra-sound done soon and that he is going to need a urine sample before I get that done.  My Mom stays in the faux-room and I get wheeled upstairs with my sister to get the ultra-sound done — and by now I feel like a train has run me over repeatedly — I’m sore and in pain at the same time.  I had a super nice tech do my ultra-sound — she’s a very kind lady, who I guess could see I had a rough day and she treated me with so much care and compassion — she was shocked I hadn’t been diagnosed with gallbladder problems given the location of my pain and frequent vomiting.  Then she told me I definitely had gallstones and that it looked like gravel inside my gallbladder.  Now, I knew…..I knew the reason why I was in so much pain — these tiny stones were ripping me a new one from the inside, out.

By that time it was past 8:30pm and my sister went back home to get me my overnight bag since the doctor said I was not allowed to go home because I could not “function properly given the pain” I was in and I had to be admitted.  When I got back to the faux-room I could tell my Mom — who had not eaten since lunch and was beyond stressed out, was not feeling well herself — her palpitations were starting again and I begged her to go home with my sister and have something to eat and take her medicine, but being the amazingly strong Mom that she is — she refused and stayed until I was taken to my room.

I didn’t go home the next day, or the following….I was there for 4 days.  I had an allergic reaction that same night to the antibiotic they gave me in the ER — so my heart was racing and my hearing was muffled — the nurse gave me some Benadryl through my IV and another dose of morphine — eventually I got some sleep.  After that, it was blood samples multiple times a day and a visit from a surgeon that told me I needed to have my gallbladder taken out soon if not it could affect my liver.  I agreed but since I was uninsured, I couldn’t schedule it and was kept more days in the hospital until my overnight fevers stopped.  Oh, and I forgot to mention how the first half of my stay, since my liver profile was “abnormal” I was put on a “clear liquids diet” which meant I could only have broth, gelatin, and popsicles 3 times a day….after that I was cleared to be on the “bland diet” which was: baked chicken thighs, white rice with white gravy, a white dinner roll and vanilla pudding with a mashed up half Oreo on top —- it was pretty bad, but compared to the clear liquid diet, it was something.

But then my fever broke and I had a full 24 hours without a fever and I was cleared to go home!!  Then when I got home I spent most of the next few days on the phone working out my coverage and trying to get any health charity help I could get — and finally I was cleared for the surgery!! I felt blessed and relieved to know I wasn’t a ticking pain bomb waiting for another attack.

Super long summer, super long story, but on Thursday – September 12th my gallbladder says goodbye and I will, God-willing, be on the road to recovery and being pain-free!!  For now, I can’t eat anything that has over 3 grams of fat per serving to keep the gallbladder attacks away — but I’m figuring it out day-by-day.

Not sure if anyone reads this or even made it to this point in this very long post, but if you could say a prayer or send me a positive thought I would really appreciate it.  I’m super nervous and just want to flash forward to my birthday in less than a month and be feeling much better and have all of this just be a story…a painful story I never have to re-live again 🙂

Gonna stop feeling sorry for myself….

At times when you have no idea what is going on w/your body – the internet is pretty good at showing you that you are not alone.

Since June of this year I have had intense pain under my ribcage – usually at night and usually after sleeping for a few hours and waking up at 1am/2am with what I can only describe as maddening pressure.  I’ve never felt anything like this. 

The first time I felt this I woke up my sister and it was finally relieved by drinking some ginger ale, eventually puking, feeling exhausted relief and finally getting some sleep – I thought it had happened because I had red meat – which I love, but I don’t have often which is why I thought my stomach was having a hard time digesting. 

The next time, the same thing happened but after I puked, I hardly felt any relief.  I blamed what I ate again — thinking I had too much fiber.  But then it happened in the span from June until the present (the week of August 28th, 2013) about 3-5 more times.  I ate clean, was working out, and since the beginning of the year I have lost almost 50lbs (by controlling my portions, meal planning, lots of walking and weights) — so I couldn’t blame poor eating habits.

I went to a clinic that I saw on TV and the newspaper that was said to be an expert in gastrointestinal problems — which sounded like what was going on.  Quick back-story: I’m unemployed right now which means I am uninsured too, I’m my Mom’s caregiver due to recent heart problems that she has.  Long story, short — this was a money-making/for-profit clinic that charged me $120 bucks for a surface exam and I was told that I was overweight – I told them about how hard I had worked to lose weight and they said that the “damage was already done; that’s like a smoker complaining for getting cancer 2 years after they quit smoking – the damage is already done” and that I had a “spider web of fat surrounding my abdominal wall”  so I asked if that could cause the pain, the answer: “no, but just thought you should know, we do spot-lipos here”. 

For a full-picture, at my heaviest I was 248lbs and at the time I went to the clinic I was 180lbs.  But they didn’t care, they went on and on about how I had to submit to a pregnancy test (they claimed this was protocol), and they listed “packages”: $320 for blood tests, $450 for a gastro-ultrasound, and $750 for an endoscopy — I asked for my prescriptions and told them I had no money for the rest.  The appointment was over and I was told I had to give them $120 bucks. 

The acid reflux/GERD medicine worked. But then the medicine ran out.

My neighbor, who is also uninsured, told me about a walk-in clinic she goes to – so I went that day after having a hellishly painful night and excruciatingly painful day.  It feels like I’m being stabbed from the inside of my ribcage out through my ribs and back.  The doctor said I was probably suffering from acid reflux and that I had done a great job at losing weight — that in the long run that would help me with my current gastric problems.  He set me up with a 3 week “repair” plan (1 pill 1/2hr before I eat, 1 pill after I eat and 1 tablespoon of milk of magnesia after I eat — I do this twice a day).  He told me that I had to find a balance with what I eat and a balance with how I workout — that if I work my abs on the outside that I’m more than likely working our/twisting something internally and that I should be careful with over-extending and twisting.

Right now, I am finishing my second full day with it — yesterday was my first full day doing it and it was brutal!  I tried taking my medicine for breakfast and dinner — that did NOT work — there was too much time in between and my breakfast was the lightest of my meals so I didn’t need much help from the medicine, but by the afternoon I was once again in a fetal position crying from the pain.  It was so embarrassing because I was at my brother’s house and his 3 little ones were really concerned — and as much as I tried to hold back the tears, I wasn’t able to.  We made it home and I was writhing in pain — my Mom tried to help me as best she could — tried to soothe the lump in my stomach (which the doctor said is gas build-up) and eventually that helped and I exhausted myself from crying — I really felt like I was at death’s door.

Today has been much better thank God; I’ve been reading a lot about how anxiety is linked to acid reflux and vice versa (acid reflux is a symptom of anxiety, then I become anxious that I will never see a new day/feel better, then the acid reflux gets worse, it becomes an endless cycle).

But there comes a tiny glimmer of hope after your acid reflux stabs you from the inside out.  So for now, I’m gonna ride that glimmer out and feel better about myself.

I could feel sorry for myself and get pissed that the year I finally get it together and lose weight this happens.  I could feel sorry for myself for not having a job, for not having insurance, for not being able to afford medical care — but I still won’t have it and I’ll feel even worse.

Or I could work harder.  Keep going at my own pace.  Embrace the fact that just like there will be bad days, I will have good days.