Please vote for GetNatured!

Foodbuzz Project Food Blog challenge number two is underway and I'd love, love, love to have your voteVoting closes at 6pm PDT on September 30th (this Thursday), so please vote for GetNatured soon!

Thank you! <3

Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge #2: Ethiopian Classics

Challenge number two for the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest is "The Classics". For this challenge, I was asked to create a classic dish from another culture that is outside of my comfort zone. I decided on Ethiopian cuisine. I have had Ethiopian food several times at restaurants but have never attempted to cook any of these delicious foods at home.

So why Ethiopian? Aside from being delicious, Ethiopian food is unique and tends to be less available in restaurants than foods from other regions of the world so fewer people have experienced these flavors. Also, it can be very vegetarian and vegan friendly. I would like to share a few of these things with you!

First, Ethiopian foods are typically served atop injera bread. The injera is a sourdough (fermented dough) bread is made from teff flour that is used in place of eating utensils. Small pieces of the bread are torn off and used to pick up bites of food, traditionally with the right hand.

Did you know...? Teff is the world's smallest grain but it packs a big nutritional punch. It is an excellent source of iron, protein, and fiber. Just one serving (1/4 cup dry) contains 20% of the RDA for iron, 6gm protein, and 6gm fiber (8% calcium too). The lentils and split peas used in many Ethiopian dishes are also excellent sources of protein, iron, and fiber.

Here is what I served for my classic Ethiopian meal:

Injera bread:
I didn't have teff flour, so I processed a small amount of teff grain in my VitaMix to make flour (1/2 cup teff made about 3/4 cup flour).

IMG_4016.JPG

IMG_4015.JPG

Recipe:

3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour plus 4 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup teff flour
1 Tbsp dry active yeast
3 1/2 cups warm water
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the water and mix well. Add the water and mix until well combined. Cover and let sit for 3-6 hours (for traditional sourdough, the dough is let rest for 3 days).
  2. After the rest period, stir the dough again to incorporate any liquid that may have separated. Add the dough to a blender 2 cups at a time along with about 1/4 - 1/2 cup water and blend to mix for a few seconds. The dough should be very thin- thicker than crepe batter but thinner than pancakes.
  3. In a non-stick skillet heated over medium heat (no oil), pour the batter 1/2 cup at a time. Move the pan in a circular motion to spread out the batter so that it is no more than 1/8 inch thick. Cover the pan and let the injera cook until it is cooked through (don't flip). Remove from the pan and stack the breads as they are made. They will initially be a little crispy on the bottom but will soften up.
IMG_4027.JPG

IMG_4049.JPG

On top of the bread, I served a few different foods:

Misir wat (wat or wot is a stew and misir wat is a common lentil stew that is seasoned with traditional berbere spices):

IMG_4045.JPG

IMG_4041.JPG

IMG_4058.JPG

I made my own berbere using:

¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cardamom
½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp cayenne
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Squash tibs (tips are sauteed veggies or meats):

IMG_4060.JPG

Kik wat (a stew made from yellow split peas):

IMG_4056.JPG

Sauteed greens (I used turnip):

IMG_4059.JPG

Put on some Ladysmith Black Mambazo, get out your copy of The Ladies #1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, pour the African red bush (rooibos) tea, and dig in...with your hands, of course!

IMG_4053.JPG

IMG_4062.JPG

I really love the ceremonious nature of traditional dining in other cultures. I am also fascinated by traditions such as the Japanese tea ceremony. In Ethiopia, one very simple such ritual is goorsha, which is an act of friendship. During a meal, a person might roll a piece of injera bread in sauce and place it in a friend's mouth. The larger the goorsha, the stronger the friendship. Amesege'nallo' (thank you)!

IMG_4030.JPG

If you have the chance, I encourage you to expand your horizons and give Ethiopian or other new-to-you foods a try. After all, life is too short for frozen pizza!  

A big THANK YOU and homemade Larabars

Thank you very much to everyone who voted for GetNatured in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest! With your help I have been selected to advance to the second challenge! I will be writing more on that in the next few days. Thank you again!

Speaking of challenges, I have recently become completely hooked on Larabars- the new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor. They are so, so, SO delicious and they have only a few ingredients. The only thing that deters me from buying them by the case is their price- they are a little on the high side (understandably so considering the ingredients, I think). So, I decided to follow the lead of some other bloggers out there and make my own.

IMG_4002.JPG

These were easy to make using a food processor and they tasted perfect!

IMG_4005.JPG

I started with this recipe from Oh She Glows and it worked really well. I used the same ingredients and measurements.

Here are the steps that I followed:
  1. Place the chopped dates in the food processor and process until they start to stick together and ball up. Remove them from the food processor and place them in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the cashews, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and vanilla in the food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped.
  3. Add the nut mixture to the dates and mix together as best you can.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and pour/plop the mixture onto the plastic. Fold the plastic over the mixture to keep it from sticking to your hands and knead it until it all sticks together and you can form it into bars. Divide the mixture into two or three pieces and form into bars (using the plastic wrap to shape them to keep them from sticking to your hands). Wrap the bars in plastic and refrigerate.

Voting is open!

Voting is officially open for the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest. I would be honored to have your vote!

Project Food Blog contest entry!

IMG_2658.JPG

I am entering the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest and I am writing this post to share my philosophy on food and blogging. As I say on my About page, I started GetNatured.com to inspire others to live nurtured lives. To me, that is about more than just diet and exercise. It is about fueling our bodies with whole foods, exercising to build strength and vitality, nurturing our creativity, and finding community in the world around us. That is what GetNatured is about.

My approach to eating is balanced. I believe that eating a whole foods plant-based diet is the healthiest way to fuel our bodies. I also believe in chocolate. One of my mantras for daily living is, “something is always better than nothing.” GetNatured isn't about perfection. It is about the simple pursuit of health and happiness. Sometimes that means watching the sunrise on a morning run. Sometimes it means forgoing my “to do” list in favor of sharing freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with my favorite person. Health and happiness are both physical and mental. I believe in feeding both.

I love new flavors and combinations of foods and my desire for those continually inspires and challenges me to learn new things. I have gained countless new ideas and have been so immensely inspired by reading blogs. Though the world of food blogging is huge, there is a feeling of solidarity that runs through this virtual community. My family may not understand my excitement over finding "00" flour for pizza crust, but I know that my fellow bloggers do!

My family and I are vegetarians and, while I truly believe with all that I am that is the healthiest way to eat, I do not want my readers to ever feel like they're getting the cold shoulder for enjoying animal-based foods. I know that everyone has their own favorite foods and traditions and that is their personal journey. I share recipes and my food successes because I believe passionately that healthy food can be simple and delicious- even to kids! My hope is that others will be inspired to integrate more whole foods into lives as well.

IMG_1470.JPG

IMG_3352.JPGIMG_3846.JPG
IMG_2685.JPG

Fiber 101

You have, no doubt, heard that getting enough fiber in your diet is important, but do you know why? Do you know how much you need? Advertisements for fiber supplements would have you believe that it is nearly impossible to get enough fiber without continuously eating throughout the entire day. So is it really that difficult? In a word, no.

Why do we need fiber?
In addition to normalizing bowel movements and aiding in digestive health, dietary fiber also helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and to prevent diseases such cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Soluble vs insoluble - what's the difference?
Soluble fiber dissolves in water while insoluble does not. Soluble fiber helps with disease prevention and insoluble fiber acts as a broom for our digestive system. From the Mayo Clinic:

  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
How much fiber do we need?
First, how much fiber do you need each day? The USDA recommends 14 grams for every 1000 calories consumed or approximately these amounts:

Screen shot 2010-09-11 at 4.32.46 PM.png

Where does fiber come from?
Fiber comes from plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Foods that have been highly processed (e.g. white flour, canned fruits and veggies, juices) have less fiber than minimally processed foods. Fiber supplements are available, however what you gain in fiber from those products, you lose in the important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that come from fresh and whole foods. Foods that contain the most fiber include:
  • Lentils
  • Black, pinto, small white, and lima beans
  • Whole grain cereals such as bran flakes or shredded wheat
  • Acorn squash
  • Potatoes with the skin on
  • Broccoli
  • Apples (skin on)
  • Pears (skin on)
  • Berries (especially blackberries and raspberries)
  • Spinach
Here is a great example from the American Institute of Cancer Research of a menu for one day that provides plenty of dietary fiber:

Breakfast: 1⁄2 cup blueberries (2 grams) 1 cup shredded wheat (6g)
Snack: medium banana (3g)
Lunch: 1 – 2 slices whole-wheat bread (2 – 4g) 1 cup lentil soup (6g)
Snack: 1⁄4 cup hummus (4g) 6 whole-grain crackers (3g)
Dinner: 1 cup broccoli (5g) 1⁄2 – 1 cup brown rice (2 – 4g) small tossed salad (1g)
Total Fiber: 34 – 38 g

Tips from the Mayo Clinic for getting more fiber:

  • Jump-start your day. For breakfast choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal — 5 or more grams of fiber a serving. Opt for cereals with "bran" or "fiber" in the name. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
  • Switch to whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Look for a brand with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber a serving. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.
  • Bulk up your baked goods. Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking. Whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer. When using baking powder, increase it by 1 teaspoon for every 3 cups of whole-grain flour. Try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes and cookies.
  • Mix it up. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
  • Get a leg up with legumes. Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad. Or make nachos with refried black beans, lots of fresh veggies, whole-wheat tortilla chips and salsa.
  • Eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber.
  • Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices. An occasional handful of nuts is also a healthy, high-fiber snack.
Note: It is important to increase the amount of fiber in your diet gradually:

High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Healthy Living Blogs


HLBjpg.jpg
I recently discovered the Healthy Living Blogs website and want to share it with you! The site contains blogger interviews, information, and links to a ton of different and great healthy living blogs from all over the world. What a great way to help connect us like-minded health nut types!


Kid-tested pumpkin muffins

Every year about this time I have a small panic attack. When I realize that another summer has passed and that fall is just about to kick off, I start obsessing about all of the "summery" things that I still haven't done. Instead of driving myself nuts as usual, I decided to fully embrace the change of the seasons this year. We had a couple of cooler days this week so yesterday was a great day for pumpkin muffins!

IMG_3985.JPG

These muffins are not super sweet but they are really healthy- they contain lots of iron and protein too! I wasn't sure if they'd pass the "kid test", but...

Success!
IMG_3948.JPG


Big smiles:
IMG_3965.jpg


Big bites:
IMG_3980.jpg


Even though he can talk, he is also using his baby sign for "more" just to make sure that I understand that he needs another muffin ASAP!
IMG_3971.JPG


Thumbs up:
IMG_3973.jpg


Number 1!
IMG_3974.jpg

Kid-Tested Pumpkin Muffins
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, or 1 egg
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (*see note)
3 tablespoons oil (whatever kind you prefer to use)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup protein powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together the pumpkin, non-dairy milk, chia or flaxseeds (or egg), brown sugar, oil, and molasses and set aside.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder, protein powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. 
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine (don't over-mix).
  4. Pour batter into a lightly oiled or paper-lined muffin pan. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
*A note about sugar: These muffins are not super sweet. If you prefer a sweeter tasting muffin, I recommend using 1/2 to 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar.

Gnocchi with vegan pesto cream sauce and shiitake mushrooms

Last night I had a serious craving for comfort food. It has been really hot this week where I live (I think it was close to 100 degrees yesterday and even hotter the day before) so soups and casseroles are not sounding good just yet. It had to be a different kind of comfort food!

I had some packaged whole wheat gnocchi and some fresh basil, so I decided to throw together a cashew-based pesto cream sauce. I also sauteed some shiitake mushrooms to top it off and the result was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! So, so good!

I typically avoid packaged foods, but I do have a few things in my pantry for occasionally throwing together dinner when I want something different. I found this egg-free whole wheat gnocchi at Trader Joe's:

IMG_3937.JPG

Gnocchi is an excellent "vehicle" for the pesto cream sauce. The textures are perfect together. The shiitake mushrooms add an extra dimension of flavor, texture, and richness- I love them! I also sauteed some kale to go on the side and the meal couldn't have been better!

IMG_3947.JPG

Gnocchi: Cook according to package directions. This typically means boiling for about 2-3 minutes.

Mushrooms: Slice and saute in Earth Balance margarine (or olive oil) until browned and the smaller ones are beginning to get a little crunchy.

IMG_3934.JPG

Kale: Saute 2 minced garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil until beginning to brown. Add kale (washed and chopped) and saute until it is bright green and the thicker stems are somewhat tender. I season mine with red pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon juice, and gomasio (lightly toasted sesame seeds processed in the blender with sea salt until it is a course powder like ground parmesan cheese).

IMG_3933.JPG

Pesto cream sauce
Serves about 3 to 4 people

1 cup water or unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 cup raw cashews
~1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp gomasio (or 1/4 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp tahini)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 cloves garlic
Dash of fresh cracked pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Taste and add more sea salt, if necessary. To serve, place the hot gnocchi on a plate and top with the cream sauce then add the mushrooms over the top.

IMG_3943.JPG

My husband and I enjoyed this delicious comfort food with a very smooth glass of zinfandel from Parducci Winery. Ahhh, the perfect way to kick off a long weekend!

A quick meal of leftovers

Earlier this week I had a few veggies left over from our camping trip but not much else in the fridge. I decided to throw together some quick homemade veggie burgers for dinner (I used mostly carrots, peppers, and broccoli and loosely followed this recipe). The leftover burgers make for great lunches! Instead of a bun, I smash avocado on top of the patties and make oven fries or chips to go along with them- double YUM!

IMG_3929.jpg

IMG_3930.JPG

For oven chips: Leave the peels on the potatoes for extra iron and fiber (try to find organic potatoes- they are one of the "dirty dozen"!) and thinly slice. Toss them with olive oil and salt, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (or lightly oiled) and bake at 400 degrees until browned.

Post run breakfast parfait

Yesterday morning I started the day with a short run. Before heading out, because only sumo wrestlers exercise on an empty stomach, I had a Vega Sport "Performance Optimizer Pre-Workout" drink. After my run, I threw together a quick breakfast parfait ala Oh She Glows. I used banana soft serve and layered it with raw almonds and overnight oats (although I hadn't actually planned ahead, so I stirred together oats, a bit of maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, and lots of chia seeds to thicken it up quickly). This was so, so good and so satisfying!


IMG_3921.JPG

IMG_3925.jpg