Thursday, August 28, 2014

Food Prep 101/ Just Figuring it Out!

Prepared Granola/Snacking Bowl while writing this blog post

I'm just figuring out the magic of Food Prep and it's changing my life. 
I don't typically gravitate to things like saving time and food prepping. I'm artistic and emotional and operate largely on feelings. These days, however, meals eat away my time. Pun intended. Chomp! Chomp! I eat so stinking healthy and I feel fabulous because of it, but the washing, drying, chopping, stirring, and then cleaning all the gadgets, etc, etc, seriously swallows up the first half of the day sometimes. Most times. I'm learning from the pros how to prep. I'm guessing most of you already figured out these time saving tips and will just indulge me in my new and wonderful discovery. 
Buckle up for some pictures of the inside of my hideous fridge. Sorry.

Pancake Mix from Meals Made Simple
Meals Made Simple is the latest and greatest cookbook from my friend, Danielle Walker at Against All Grain, and is jammed full of time saving tips. Here is one of them: Pancake Mix. It's grain free and since my daughter loves to make pancakes and waffles, I'd rather her use this nutritious version! I will add the recipe for the wet ingredients and tuck it into the jar.

Meals Made Simple offers fantastic tips such as how to freeze pancakes and waffles. Calli made her own Blueberry Pancakes and had some leftovers, so I followed Danielle's steps to freezing them properly. Now the kids can take one out and pop it in the toaster when need be.

Nut Free Granola

So the cookbook also features a Nut Free Granola and I am absolutely NUTZO over it! I LOVE this recipe! Danielle, I hope you read this and are happy to know that I intend to never be without this granola in my pantry! I've even gone so far as to measure out the seeds and bag them as well as the mix-ins for the very end. We can just make another batch even quicker! I plan to pulverize some of it into dust and sprinkle on top of  healthy frozen treats.

Smoothie Prep

Building a quick morning smoothie often makes the most ridiculous mess- huge Costco bags of frozen organic fruit, sculpting out frozen bananas, big bags of protein powder, milk options, the greens (slicing kale off the spine should not be done when you are in morning zombie mode), chia seeds, coconut oil, avacado, etc, etc. It's easy, but too many components for a hurried morning. Instead, we will pop our smoothie bag in the refrigerator the night before and the hard part is ready! Just empty the contents into the Vitamix and add milk & powders!

Chia Gel Cubes
Sneaky trickery!!!! I'm so happy. I read that chia seeds are better absorbed when transformed to gel by soaking for 15 - 45 minutes. I can't get Jake to put boosters in his smoothies. I can fool him into putting a frozen chia gel cube in since when frozen it looks exactly like an icy chunk of banana!!! Jake will have Chia Gel and never know it. (Insert evil laugh.)

I warned you to buckle up for some gnarly photos. What I'd like to direct attention to is the Salad in a Jar from Community Eats, Prepared Lettuce, Curried Nuts, and Fresh Juice. If you have ever wondered if the Salad in a Jar-thing works, IT ABSOLUTELY WORKS!!! And it's AWESOME!!! 
Jake loves this recipe for Curried Cashews by GI 365 so much that he claimed them a suitable replacement to his love language: CHIPS! You can bet I am stocking up on these bad boys! If you follow the recipe I altered it a touch by adding raw macadamia nuts and about 3/4tsp of Garam Masala. I'm not kidding about "stocking up" on the nuts. I also put some handfuls in small bags so Jake can throw a perfect portion in his backpack for post workout protein or quick snack between classes.

Stocking up on Curried Nuts

I went crazy and roasted five heads of broccoli. We all love it, it's incredibly versatile AND it didn't have time to go yellow, brown or fire starter texture before I ventured around to cooking it! My produce drawer has been known to hide the fairest and freshest of goodness and render it weeks later unrecognizable. We are on to you Veggie Drawer and you're going down. You will not steal our food and/or money again.

 You will notice the brown rice pasta which I have two gallon bags prepared. It might not be as noticeable but when I was preparing Salad Jars I had extra grated zucchini, purple onion, apple and carrots so that I could just have those goodies to toss in to a soup, pasta or whatever. 
Did I do this all at once? 
A few things at a time are doable. 
If I'm making a mess,I mean a salad, - the Cuisinart is out slicing everything turbo speed, I have the jars and tuppies clean and ready, then it's "go time". It works. I can easily measure out some flours or seeds while somethings roasting in the oven.

Does it mean I'll never cook again. 
 I will ALWAYS need to cook/prepare food for my family and myself. 
I just get to choose WHEN I prepare. 
I choose NOT to prepare when I'm half asleep, cold, cranky and late. I choose NOT to prepare at the mid-day meal when I'm starving and decide I'd rather just eat bread and butter than start digging around the produce drawer and destroying the kitchen. 
I'd much rather shake out my prepped salad 
and spend time on the important things like making coffee, I mean, 
helping the kids with studies or building my business. I know that home makers everywhere are already whipping up preparations like brilliant orchestra conductors but as I previously mentioned before all the noise of this post, I'm 
just figuring it out!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple, my compliments!

I chose to call this "my compliments" because I have nothing but compliments to give. I didn't think it was possible for Danielle Walker of Against All Grain to outdo herself again, however with her new book Meals Made Simple she did it! I was gifted a copy (it is available on pre order due to launch September 2nd) and upon receiving, drove straight to Whole Foods and literally flipped through the pages in the parking lot because I wanted to make something wonderful immediately. I chose the Garlic & Herb Roasted Chicken because I had most of the ingredients on hand. 

I made this!
What has me super excited about this new book is the 8 week meal plans and shopping list tear out sheets! This is GENIUS! With these meal plans, there are entrees for each night of the week that I'd actually enjoy cooking up. I can't wait to put that element to the test!

Danielle astounds me with her expertise. 
She worked fiercely on these recipes to make a healthy diet easily adaptable, for example the Mint Chocolate Milkshake looks like a simplified version of her stellar Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, which I am thrilled about! Making ice-cream is ambitious but I can whip up this shake over and over again!

Danielle is dedicated to fool proofing every recipe she offers as well as tweaking them successfully to accommodate almost every dietary restriction. Her Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0, for example are a makeover allowing those with egg and nut allergies the opportunity to enjoy these famously delicious cookies.  I just find the thoughtful lay out, tidbits, and cheat sheets a wonderful extension of her hospitality. 

This cookbook is dedicated to a very special young lady,
please read her story.
Committed to helping people navigate a healing dietary lifestyle, Danielle persevered through the darkest storm of her life and shared her secrets to simplifying life and the dinner table.
Danielle promises simple meals and has delivered. 
There are several recipes I am dying to try: White Pork Chile, Balsamic Steak Pizza and Freezer Waffles, to name a few.
 The photos are gorgeous and not just the food--
the Walkers are stunning, inside and out! Their stories grace the introduction.
Thanks Danielle for another awesome cookbook!

It's as if the meal is coming right off the page!
Cheers to a job well done! 
There are some of us who can't wait for Against All Grain to be a cooking show!
...or a restaurant!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Soup & Salad

It's just my lunch salad with a bunch of left-over 
Velvety Carrot Soup 
from last night's dinner and post.
I can't get enough of it!
Soup & Salad in one bowl!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Velvety Carrot Soup

I just had to share this recipe. After a week of vacation indulgences and scorching summer heat, I wanted something light, fresh and cleansing, without turning on any heat elements in the kitchen. I had pinned a Quick and Easy Carrot Soup recipe earlier this week and thought it fit the bill.
It is vegan, raw and HEAVENLY!!!!!!
I took liberties and renamed it because Quick and Easy Carrot Soup is not a sensuous enough title for this show-stopper and crazy-good soup. 

Most of my sweet friends know that I never follow recipes exactly. If you'd like the original, unadulterated recipe, which I recommend, clink this link.

I did this!

4 Carrots and 1 Cup of water.
Blend and then strain. Once strained pour juice back into Vitamix container.
1 clove of garlic
1 avacado
1 giant knob of fresh ginger (to your liking, original did not call for it)
2 cans of Coconut Milk
juice of one lemon
splash of Bragg's Amino Acid
1 1/2 TBSP salt free Curry Powder
1 TBSP Celtic Sea Salt
2 tsp pepper

All of these ingredients are just whirled together in the blender.
After I poured it into my bowl I added a dollop of the carrot pulp because it's so vibrant, Thai Basil leaves from my garden, Olive Oil drizzled liberally, and sprinkle storm of sea salt.

This Thai Basil flower deserved a close up.

This soup is summer perfection for health-minded food lovers. I believe you could have lots of fun playing with garnishes: sliced avacado, marinated mushrooms, cilantro, sriracha sauce, etc. The kids caught on that I was making something super healthy and decided to make pasta instead.(So much for my attempts to keep the stove off and my family well nourished.) Surprisingly, when they tasted the soup they ended up pouring it over their noodles as sauce. Yes!
It's that good!
I had to share.