Practical, healthful eating and living.

Super Bowl Snack with Red Lentils January 29, 2009

Filed under: Energy,Uncategorized — beansandyoga @ 7:28 pm
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red-lentils I received red lentils as a gift.  I did not know what to do with them.  They sat and sat.  Fortunately, lentils are practically immune to time.  One day, I happened across this recipe.  As soon as I tasted it, I thought, “What was I waiting for?”

Immediately, I passed the recipe on to friends, and now I am passing it on to you.  Perfect for Super Bowl entertaining.


1 vegetable bouillon cube

3 1/2 – 4 cups water

1/2 cup red split lentils

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste (if using canned, just freeze the rest in a ziploc bag)

3 1/2 oz or about 3/4 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese , shredded

Prep time: 10 minutes

Dissolve the bouillon cube in 3 1/2 cups boiling water.  Stir well.  Put the broth in a saucepan and add the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Add more water if necessary, until all the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are soft.

Meanwhile, heat the soy sauce and 1/4 cup water in a saute pan.  Add the onions, celery and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes, or until soft.  Add the lentils and the tomato paste to the pan.  (Or add the onion mixture to the lentils, whichever pan fits better.)  Heat, stirring, until piping hot.

Transfer to a baking dish.  (I use a square 8″ x 8″ pan but just about any shape or size will do.

Sprinkle with the cheese.

Heat under a hot broiler for about 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.  Serve immediately.

4-6 servings

Serve with hot rice, corn chips or tortillas.  This can be eaten almost like mashed potatoes, or as dip for chips.

Tip:  If you don’t want to buy a whole package of lentils, check the bulk foods section and buy just the amount you need.

From: The High-Energy Cookbook by Rachael Anne Hill


What I’m Eating Now January 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized,What I'm eating now — beansandyoga @ 5:01 pm
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Unagi (eel) Sushi

I get restless by the end of January.  Even my favorite soups and stews need a rest by mid-winter.

It started with a quick trip to an Asian grocer.  I went for basic supplies, but it wasn’t long before I was longing for the foods I’d had during the happy year I’d lived in Japan.

Ironically, I came home with the very foods that had been the most difficult for me to like.  I am an adventurous eater, but during my first six months in Japan, I did not want anything to do with unagi, or eel.

Two other ubiquitous foods in Japan are mochi, a dough made of pounded rice, and azuki, sweetened red bean paste.  My mouth would screw up and I’d back away.  “No! None for me, thanks!”

Japanese food recalls the scent of ocean, volcanoes and jungle in the air.  The flavors are so subtle that I truly do believe that they are impacted by the environment in which they are eaten.  Something is surely lost when there is no ocean nearby, nor any volcanoes.

It must have helped that I’d recently watched “Spirited Away,” an animated story by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

Today, the bite of the wasabi horseradish paste, with the heat of the pink pickled ginger that accompanies unagi (eel) sushi, made me feel as if I was going through an honored ritual.  First, a sneeze, then an all over warming as they go down.  Unlike most sushi, the eel is not served raw.  It is tender, perhaps a little crunchy, and is always cooked in the same sweet/savory sauce.  Afterward, I am both lazy and alert.

The mochi, filled with red bean paste, is filling.  For me, it was pure nostalgia.


Mochi filled with azuki red bean paste.


Saving Your Skin: Humidity January 22, 2009

Filed under: Saving Your Skin — beansandyoga @ 11:42 am

humidity1 Not everyone lives in a cold climate, but if you do, I recommend a humidifier.  Years of dry skin, dry eyes, congestion and misery went by before I found this solution.  I’d tried bath oils, moisturizers, anything to help ward off the dryness of winter.  The humidifier worked.

Humidifiers come with a lot of cautions.  Beware that if not used properly, they can cause mold.  My humidifier needs to be re-filled with water at least twice a day.  (I don’t mind.)

It’s made a difference.  Now I can breath.  My skin used to break out during the winter.  Now, it doesn’t.  It even makes the house feel warmer.


Thoughts on Nutrition January 17, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy,Uncategorized — beansandyoga @ 10:18 am

nutrition I once heard a woman at a natural foods grocery store explain that when people eat high nutrition food, they feel full with less food.  She went on to explain that when people eat fast-food, which is typically low in nutrition, even though they’ve consumed a lot of calories, their bodies are still hungry.  No matter how much they’ve eaten, their bodies still crave nutrition, telling them to eat more.

I can’t verify that this is true, but instinctively, I feel there’s something to it.

The more nutrients we give our bodies, generally, the happier they are.  But can we use vitamin supplements?  I don’t know.  Of course, I am not an expert and there are so many conflicting reports in the media that it’s hard to know which to believe.  But instinctively, again, I can’t help but feel that our bodies respond better to nutrients that come straight from food, rather than pills.

Why we shy away from fresh fruits and vegetables:

A freshly picked carrot, or green peas right off the vine, are sweet and delightful.  Major grocery store chains, however, tend to be less concerned with flavor than with longevity.  Thus, farmers have switched to growing tasteless, wooden apples, flavorless, mealy tomatoes, and tough-skinned oranges with but a hint of citrus on the tongue.

I’ve switched to buying frozen berries and vegetables.  They are flash frozen as soon as they’re picked, so they hold their nutrients and flavor.  Keeping them in the freezer is convenient and cuts down on waste, since they don’t spoil before I can eat them.  Raspberries and blackberries are my favorite.  Strawberries will do.  I put them into the microwave, in a bowl, with a light coating of sugar, and then add them to oatmeal or yogurt or use them as a pancake topping.

Fresh romaine lettuce lasts about ten days in the refrigerator if I take a few steps to ensure it’s stored properly.  I use a salad spinner.  As soon as I get back from the store, I wash the romaine lettuce, and spin it in the salad spinner.  While I’m washing it, I also tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.  I dump out the excess water, then put the entire spinner, containing the lettuce, into the fridge.  This way, I’ve always got the basics for a salad at my fingertips.  A few slices of apple* on top, with a little blue cheese, walnuts and dried cranberries, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette, and I’m in heaven.  If taking it to work, I don’t mix the dressing into the salad until just before I’m ready to eat.  Lettuce lasts only a few minutes in salad dressing, but if you add the dressing at the last minute, it will stay quite fresh.

I started doing this because the plastic sacks of salad greens would spoil so quickly.  Even pre-washed romaine didn’t seem worth it.  It seems to have a taste of bleach.  I find that it’s worth it to buy organic romaine lettuce.  There is very little difference in price in my area.

*My favorite apples are locally grown Jonathan’s, Haralson’s and Honeycrisps.  Pink Lady or Fuji will do, and are easy to find in most stores.  I steer clear of Granny Smith and Delicious apples.


Scrumptious Pumpkin Custard January 12, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy,Uncategorized,What I'm eating now — beansandyoga @ 3:38 pm
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Pumpkin custard is like pumpkin pie without the crust.  It is unbelievably yummy, and chockfull of nutrition.  This recipe is so simple you’ll hardly realize you’ve been in the kitchen.


1 16 oz. can of cooked pumpkin

1 12 oz. can of evaporated skimmed milk

2 eggs

3 egg whites

3/4 cup pure maple syrup or brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Optional toppings: fresh apple slices, pecans, raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350.

Prepare eight 6 oz. baking cups, such as custard cups or ramekins, with a light coating of cooking spray.  Three 16 oz. ramekins will also work.  Don’t worry too much about the size.  The main thing is that you’ll want to use identical ramekins so that each will bake at the same pace.

(I’ve started baking these without cooking spray, and found the results just as good.  Try it both ways to find out what you like.)

Place the ramekins in a shallow baking pan, such as a cake pan.

Whirl all of the ingredients (except optional toppings) in a blender until smooth.  Pour the custard into the baking cups.  Pour boiling water into the baking pan to about a 2-inch depth.  Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the cups from the hot water and cool at toom temperature, then refrigerate.

Adapted from “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites” by The Moosewood Collective

Note —This is a great time to buy canned pumpkin.  Most stores have it on sale.  It will keep for about a year or so. (Check the expiration date.)

This keeps well in the fridge.  It makes a great dessert, but can just as well be a breakfast, too.


Workout Wear January 9, 2009

Filed under: Fitness/Keep in motion,Uncategorized — beansandyoga @ 8:57 am
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When I’m out riding my bike, I don’t pay too much attention to what I have on.  But if I’m out for a run, or doing yoga, I’ve come to find that fabric is important.  The right fabrics will keep you warm as you get started, but keep you cool once your heart rate goes up.  Good fabrics will wick away perspiration.  This makes for a much more comfortable workout.  When you’re comfortable, you’re less likely to quit your workout early, or skip the next one.

Fabrics for workout wear have become so advanced and high tech that I hesitate to go into what they are made of.  What I can say is that I’ve had success with Athleta and Title 9.

The clothing I’ve purchased from both sources has lasted through hundreds of workouts, and still looks new.  It’s lightweight, comfortable and unconstraining.


Back to Work – Easy Lunches January 5, 2009

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy — beansandyoga @ 7:19 pm
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One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make lunch for work is to “build my own soup.” I mix frozen vegetables with a basic soup.  It’s easy to carry, and I can keep it in either the fridge or the freezer.  When I’m ready to eat, I pop it into the microwave.  I’m not a fan of microwaving in plastic, so I do keep a few dishes at work.  I find that if I have a bowl and plate, then I can put the plate on top of the bowl to prevent splattering inside the microwave.

If I know that I have to make enough lunches for a week, I make four at a time.  I keep mine in the freezer, and grab a new one each morning.

Why build my own soup rather than take a can of pre-made soup?  I find that canned soup vegetables are mushy.  This way, the vegetables seem fresher.  This also allows me to be more in sync with what I really feel like having.  If I have options in the freezer, I can add them as I like.  It costs less than buying separate cans of soup.  I can add as much protein as I like, which helps keep me full through the afternoon.  And to be honest, I get tired of the standard flavors.

Crackers?  Easy enough to keep a box at work.


1 32 oz. package of soup  (I like Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Tomato)

1/4 – 1/2 cup frozen vegetables, such as corn, green beans, kale, carrots or sweet potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions:

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken (Shred into pieces and freeze, then use as needed.)
  • Sliced sausage
  • Cooked black beans (Beans are also easy to freeze.  Spread on a tray, then once frozen, switch them to the container of your choice.  This way, they are available as needed, rather than having to use a whole batch at once.)
  • Slices of roast beef or steak
  • 1/4 cup of cooked rice or noodles  (If you don’t like to make your own rice, it’s often available in the frozen foods section at Trader Joe’s.  I make a big batch and freeze it into small containers that last me a few days at a time.)

Container: 1& 3/4 cup/14 oz. Glad or Ziploc bowl