Italian Farro Salad

October 22, 2013

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Italian Faro Salad

I bought faro.  Now what do I do?

I love the Trader Joe’s line of 10 minute whole grains.  I’ve already tried bulgur and made some tabbouleh, but this was my first time with faro.  It’s more hearty than brown rice in my opinion and held up really nicely in this impromptu salad I put together.  This is your basic, “what do I have in the fridge?” kind of recipe I love.  I added steamed broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes and had this for lunch today.  It was really delightful and filling.  I suspect I could eat faro in place of pasta in many dishes and not even miss pasta!

I call this salad, “Italian” because it’s the colors of the Italian flag! Plus sun-dried tomatoes are definitely Italian food in my book.  Enjoy!

Italian Faro Salad

Cook time: Follow directions on package of faro. 

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

15 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

4 cups Faro, cooked

10oz Broccoli, steamed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

Instructions:
Cool farro according to package instructions. Set aside.

Steam broccoli, then chop into bite sized pieces and combine with faro and extra virgin olive oil.

Chop sun dried tomatoes and add to faro mixture and stir to combine.

Add 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve room temperature or warm.

 

 

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Alphabet made of many fruits and vegetablesIt’s the never ending battle with every meal I serve to my 2 year old son, Dylan.  How do I get him to have more vegetables?  I want to make sure and get him interested in these foods early so that he will love them and always have them as a part of his diet.  But even for me, a health coach, it’s hard to figure out how to add in all the good from vegetables.  This is why I came up with 5 easy tips!

I’m speaking mostly of adding in vegetables (vs. fruit), because in my health coaching practice I encounter many people who have 2 servings of fruit a day but practically zero vegetables.  Adding in vegetables is one of the easiest and quickest ways to better your health, and it’s a tip I give a lot of health coaching clients when we first start working together.

I find most people don’t eat as much veggies as they should for 3 reasons:

1) vegetables are more expensive

2) vegetables are boring / I don’t know how to cook them

3) I don’t like salad

All of these fall under the umbrella of “I don’t know why vegetables are important”.  We’ll get to that in a moment.

I’ve eaten and served my fair share of meals that are vegetable deficient.  Sandwiches come to mind, countless bowls of pasta with meatballs, even pizza.  I love all these foods, but they are seriously lacking in the vegetable department.

So why are vegetables so important?

The make you feel full, they provide fiber and countless vitamins and minerals.  Plus they are a non-animal derived food which makes them more sustainable to the environment than eating meat.

I always do my best to buy organic vegetables because they taste better and if I’m going to eat and serve veggies I want the best!  The definition of organic when talking about food is, “Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.” (Taken from www.organic.org).

But, sometimes there aren’t organic versions available in the grocery store or your budget won’t allow for it.  This is a handy guide you can use when shopping that outlines what’s called the “Dirty Dozen” – the list of the MOST contaminated fruits and vegetables (so you know to always buy those organic) and the “Clean Fifteen” highlighting the LEAST contaminated crops.  Take a look here! You can even download a wallet guide or an app for your phone here: (download a copy of the wallet guide).  With these handy list’s you can have the knowledge to decide which produce you can buy the regular version of and which you should really try to get organic.  Of course the best organic vegetables are the ones you grow yourself!  If you have a garden, think about planting your favorite vegetables next time.  They will be the best you’ve ever tasted!

Sadly, I live in Brooklyn where I don’t have a garden, but not to worry, here are the tips!

5 Easy Tips for Getting More Vegetables  into Your Family’s Diet

1)   Incorporate vegetables and/or fruit at every meal.  Add in veggies at breakfast and you’ll notice how much fuller you feel.  You may not need that 11am snack anymore!  Also, adding in vegetables at breakfast with your usual 2 egg omelet often means you can have 1 egg and still feel as full as when you’d have 2 without the added veggies.

2)   Buy organic where possible because it tastes better and is better for you.  I always tell clients a story about the first organic banana I ever tried.  It was literally the most delicious banana I’d ever had.  Before then I didn’t even really LIKE bananas!  When you buy organic vegetables they will be the best you’ve ever tasted and that makes you want to eat them more often, it’s that simple. 

3)   Swap your boring old potatoes for greens like kale or spinach.  Yes, potatoes are technically a vegetable, but they are a starchy one and they are also delivery vehicles for some very fatty toppings (sour cream, butter, oil, cheese) that can really derail your health and weight loss goals.  Try a new green vegetable instead.  Spinach is very easy to sauté with garlic and olive oil for a nice side dish or try kale, everybody is doing it! 

4)   Try Meatless Mondays so you can build your vegetarian repertoire of meals. The best thing Meatless Mondays has done for me has made me think about vegetarian dinners once a week.  I’ve gotten to try so many new recipes that I otherwise would never have made.  I’ve roasted eggplant, stuffed mushroom caps and made a traditional Middle Eastern egg dish called Shakshuka.  It’s become a fun thing we do together every week rather than eating more of the same old boring stuff. 

5)   Use fruit and vegetables as the base for snacks throughout the day.  The most filling snacks are ones that give you both protein and fiber.  The fiber component can definitely be a fruit or vegetable.  Think about dipping an apple in peanut butter for a more satisfying snack than peanut butter on a cracker or piece of bread.  Another favorite in my family is pepper slices or cucumber slices with hummus for dipping. 

Try these tips for incorporating more vegetables into your diet and share your favorite vegetarian dishes in the comments section below!

Put this in the Pantry

August 27, 2013

I’ve recently rediscovered how wonderful an egg can be!  Eggs are a complete protein and are a very affordable source of protein.  Plus, chickens can lay eggs and still live long healthy lives.  We have chickens living in the Urban Meadow down the block from where I live.  The chickens are in a coop and are part of the garden’s landscape.  It makes us feel like we have a little piece of farm life right here in Brooklyn!

Dylan checking out the chickens in the Urban Meadow

Dylan checking out the chickens in the Urban Meadow

The chickens spend their days laying a few eggs, getting to see loads of happy families and children and enjoying a lovely life!  So, if animal cruelty is on your mind, you can eat eggs without worry.  Now, the caveat to that is, that it’s really best to aim for Organic eggs, because those chickens are raised humanely.  Organic eggs are the gold standard, but eggs labelled “cage-free” are second best.  Some brands are organic AND cage-free, but you need to read the packaging carefully. Eggs that aren’t organic or cage-free or usually factory farmed and kept in cages from birth to death.  Something to think about.

One dozen organic eggs is currently $4.39 on Fresh Direct.  That’s only 37 cents per egg!  I think almost all of us can afford that.  Find me a snack that’s cheaper and tastier – I dare you! Think about taking just 37 cents into the corner store or bodega.  What on earth would you get for 37 cents? 1 piece of gum?

The easiest and most fool-proof egg is the hard-boiled egg, and the reason I know this is because I formerly had AWFUL luck cooking eggs.  When I first started cooking, back in 2001 while living in London, I ruined an entire batch of eggs just trying to make some over-easy.  So I had to regroup and start from scratch.  Hard-boiling an egg only requires, water, eggs and a saucepan with a cover.  If you can boil water for pasta, you can make a hard-boiled egg.

Here’s my recipe for the easiest hard-boiled egg.

Eat these as a snack with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or use a few and make an egg salad. Two hard boiled eggs also makes a great breakfast you can take on the go.  I usually make these on the weekend and peel them, so they are in the fridge are ready to eat all week long.

Now, some clients have asked me about eating the yolks.  My preference is to eat the entire egg with the yolk because that makes it a complete protein.  If you are trying to cut calories, you can eat only the egg white, but I hate to waste the yolk so I always eat it.  Of course, you should use your discretion.

If anyone has a great egg salad recipe, please send it along – always looking for new ways to make it!

 

 

 

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Tomato Sauce for Shakshuka simmering away

As I mentioned, for Meatless Monday we attempting a new recipe called Shakshuka.  I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it was very easy to follow and the results were deliciously amazing!  First you make a simple tomato sauce with jalepeno’s for added kick.  Cumin and paprika give it a middle eastern flavor.

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Eggs cracked into the sauce

Then you crack 6 organic eggs into the sauce.  Cover it and let it poach for 5 minutes.

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Shakshuka, ready to eat

The results are soft boiled eggs (or hard boiled if you let it cook longer) enveloped in a spicy tomato sauce.  We ate it with salad and some warm pita.  It would so satisfying as a meal, and there was plenty of tomato sauce left over.  The next night, we put the tomato sauce back on the stop top.  I added one small can of tomato sauce and some water and let it simmer.  Then added 6 eggs and made another fabulous dinner out of it.

In the future, I would probably only make 4 eggs because 2 for each of us is plenty.  Then I would save the sauce, as I did, and make it again with fresh eggs another time.  I have a feeling you can’t really reheat the eggs once they are cooked.

My favorite part of Meatless Monday is all the new recipes we are trying.  It’s become a fun project for my husband and I to tackle together every week.  Plus, trying 1 new recipe a week is just about all I can handle as I juggle health coaching, school, work and being with my son and husband.  Anything more than that and I might go a little nuts!

Next Monday we will just be returning home from a weekend out of town, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to try a new recipe.  But, having this one in my rotation will be great especially because it uses ingredients I normally keep in the pantry and it is so easy to make.

Hello!  It’s Sunday night so that must mean it’s time for me to rack my brain for a Meatless Monday dinner for the family.  While my husband and I were brainstorming ideas, we both came up with Shakshuka at the same time.  It’s an Israeli dish that is make with eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.  I’ve never made it before and have only had it out to eat at places like Mimi’s Hummus here in Brooklyn.  It’s a wonderful dish because it had tons of flavor and can be made with no meat added.

Marie and Ran overlooking Jerusalem, 2010

Marie and Ran overlooking Jerusalem, 2010

The recipe I’m going to attempt tomorrow night is from Smitten Kitchen.  I’ve never made any of their recipes, but I have heard good things.  Plus the recipe seems easy enough to follow. Fingers crossed!

I’ll probably serve the shakshuka with a green salad and a cucumber salad because I recently acquired some farm fresh cucumbers!  Pita bread is also a customary compliment to shakshuka.

If this recipe goes well, I look forward to serving it again at my next brunch!

So far, Meatless Monday has become a great family project for us to tackle.  We are really enjoying finding new and exciting recipes to make and enjoy.  It’s fun for us to do together and it really does start the week off on a good foot.

We’ve also started eating meat only 1x per day.  I’ve been doing this for a while, but my husband recently got on board.  My main reason for choosing to eat vegetarian most of the day is because I really need to make sure that I get enough veggies in my diet. So less meat, means more creativity with veggies.  I’m also very aware of the fact that meat consumption is terrible for the planet right now, so I want to make a small difference by choosing to eat meat less and less.  I’m also buying mostly organic meat which is more expensive, so if we eat meat less I can mitigate the cost that way.

I’d really love to beef (haha) up the section of my recipe repertoire that’s vegetarian, so if you have amazing recipes you like for Meatless Monday, please put them in the comments below!

I promise to post pictures of my final product as soon as I can.  Wish me luck!

 

Casseroles, Yes You Can

July 21, 2013

Today is My Love Affair With Cheese’s 4th Birthday!  Happy Birthday, Cheese! Many thanks to all my readers, especially those who comment.  Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to spread the love!

We have big news in our household! My husband has agreed to Meatless Mondays.  I had to them explain to him that fish is also considered a meat, so lunch could not be a tuna sandwich. I’ve been trying to institute Meatless Mondays in my own routine for a few months and unless we are out of town I have been very successful.  I really like it because it forces me to think outside the meat-eating box.  I have to come up with new things for dinner like a few weeks ago when I made this Mushroom Frittata which we really enjoyed.  I also like to cook a big meal and then enjoy leftovers for a few days, so it’s great to have a meatless meal among the bunch.  I really try not to make pasta for Meatless Monday so that I can broaden my horizons a bit.

I went through my recipe cards and found a recipe for Zucchini Casserole that I had all the ingredients on hand for.  It’s pretty simple to put together and needs to bake in the oven for 45 minutes, so I wanted to do it Sunday night because on Monday after work it would just take too long.

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Zucchini Casserole ready to go in the oven

I adapted this recipe from one on Skinnytaste.com.  I figure for a dinner portion, this casserole will give you 6 adult sized portions.  If you want to make it as a side dish, perhaps 10 servings is more reasonable.  I plan to serve this tonight with a big salad and maybe a cold soup.  I’m really curious to see how my 2 year old likes it!

For the recipe click here: Zucchini Casserole

 

Zucchini Casserole out of the oven

Zucchini Casserole out of the oven

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you are having for Meatless Monday on Facebook or Twitter.

@affairwitcheese

Go Somewhere New

July 2, 2013

I made this deliciousness Monday night.

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Wild Mushroom Frittata – for dinner!

I have been lessening my dependence on meat the past few months mostly because I recognize the impact it has on the environment. Not to mention our own personal health. I’ve been buying organic meat as much as possible because I know that every dollar I spend on organic is a vote for a different food industry than the one we have today. So as part of that movement I try to eat meat only once per day and not every day. For this week’s Meatless Monday I wanted to do something I could serve to my whole family. I started poking around online for a frittata recipe because they are easy to make and something new for my family. And I knew my husband wouldn’t object to it! (Kale with beans for dinner might not have gone over so well!)

I found a recipe for Wild Mushroom Frittata that seemed hearty and easy to prepare.

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I served it with a huge salad and we loved it. The leftovers were great for lunch today as well.

I used organic eggs, milk and an assortment of shiitake and baby Bella mushrooms. Using high quality ingredients really makes a difference in the overall taste. It made this dish mouth-watering instead of just some dry eggs for dinner.

Click here for the recipe.

What do you make for Meatless Monday? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

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