Leftovers for Lunch

So it has come to my attention that a few of you were under the impression that I was not going to blog anymore!! And I am here to say…not true! It is Wednesday, and here I am. I just meant I was going away from the dinner posts, at least for a bit, so as not to bore you all to tears.

For now, or until I think up another fascinating series, there will just be odds and ends, dinner success stories and/or failures, and other tidbits.

Today I am going to share a couple of my lunches that I thought were particularly nice.  I pack my and my son’s lunch most nights of the week, and definitely take advantage of leftovers.  And frankly I could use some ideas about what to pack for a kid who will only eat 2 types of sandwiches.  He does have a pretty broad range of foods that he likes, but not many that can be eaten cold other than the 2 sandwiches..anyone?  I need to do some internet searching.  I could send him all sorts of things that he wouldn’t eat, but the kid is running around all day at camp and needs to refuel, so I don’t think it’s really the right platform to be trying out brand new stuff.  Then again maybe he would eat it if he was starving and had nothing else to eat..hmmm.

Anyhow, my son and I both have a PlanetBox, which we absolutely LOVE.  They are a bit heavy for my son to carry, but it stays super cold with just the one small ice pack I think because it is metal.  So I guess that is a good trade off in terms of weight. The adult one has a bit more space and one less compartment than the child one, and comes with 2 great containers, one small one for sauce or dressing, and one glass container with a silicone lid that fits in the big compartment.  So here is yummy lunch #1:

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Big salad with green leaf lettuce, carrot, cucumber, roasted red peppers, 2 slices of leftover bacon, horseradish honey mustard dressing (homemade), leftover quinoa with a little butter.

And yummy lunch #2:

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Sliced turkey, cucumber, baby bell pepper, homemade hummus, leftover corn on the cob, and I think I had some rice crackers on the side.

And finally, yummy lunch #3:

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Leftover turkey meatballs, jarred sauce, rice spaghetti, corn on the cob (again! what can I say, it’s corn season..yummm), kale chips.

This was a kale chip experiment.  I notice that kale chips do not keep well; they get soggy very quickly.  On this particular day it was so humid they weren’t even crunchy by the end of the meal! So I packed them up and put them in the toaster oven at work the next day on the toast setting for just a minute or two.  They re-crunchified quite nicely!

And here is one last weekend lunch (also utilizing a lot of leftovers) which I thought was particularly lovely looking (and tasting I might add!):

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Leftover green beans, white beans, orange cherry tomatoes, baby bell peppers, carrots and my latest favorite quick dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a tiny bit of honey, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

What’s your favorite way to use leftovers in a new meal?

Food Borne illness…nothing to sneeze at!

October 27, 2013: Reser’s Fine Foods Recalls More Products for Possible Listeria Contamination…October 25, 2013: Taylor Farms Recalls Broccoli Salad Kit Products for Possible Listeria…October 25, 2013: Another 100,000 Pounds of Ready-to-Eat Chicken and Ham Recalled for Listeria…October 25, 2013: Boston Salads Recalls Ready-to-Eat Chicken Salad Products for Possible Listeria Contamination…October 23, 2013: E. Coli Illness Prompts Minnesota Costco Ground Beef Recall

These are just a few of the food recalls on the list over the past few days.  Kinda makes you want to stop eating food if you think about it too much.  Food-borne illness is more and more common in today’s mass-produced, pre-packaged world, and it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight.  Truth is, the more industrialized our food system becomes the harder it is to not only keep tabs on every production facility out there, but also to be able to trace food back to it’s source should someone get sick.  This results in recalling large amounts of food that is most likely safe (a waste) as well as a lot of mass hysteria (think spinach). 

Though food-borne illness certainly is nothing to take lightly, there really is no need to avoid spinach for the rest of your life either.  A little education on the subject as well as taking precautions in your own home to prevent it can go a long way. 

Lets take leafy greens for example, unfortunately one of the riskiest foods in terms of food safety.  The CDC recently found that between 1998 and 2008, 22% of food-borne illnesses were attributed to leafy vegetables.  Because leafy greens grow close to the ground, they are at higher risk for contamination from animals, contaminated water, or poor worker hygiene.  Pre-washing of leafy greens also makes them riskier since several batches of greens from different farms could be washed together.  This can cause safe greens to become contaminated by one small batch of bad greens, and also leads to traceability problems.  Because greens from different farms are comingled in the bath, it becomes hard to trace which farm the contaminated product came from. 

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So what’s an eater to do?  Well, the benefits of eating leafy greens most definitely outweigh the risks, especially for adults with healthy immune systems whose bodies can usually fight off the bacteria without causing symptoms.  The elderly, young children, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems are always at much greater risk in terms of food-borne illness. 

There are a few things you can do to help to reduce your chance of being exposed to food-borne illness.  First, buy your leafy greens, meat, eggs, and other high-risk foods from a local grower whenever possible.  You are then able to meet, talk to, and ask the farmer about their growing methods, and hold them accountable for the food they grow. You also get a fresh product that has been minimally handled, which greatly reduces your chances of worker contamination.  There is no risk of commingling either, since what you buy will only come from one farm.

Be sure to rinse produce in cool, running water, even if it is a pre-washed product, and take the following food safety precautions when handling meat in your home:

  • Wash hands, cutting boards, countertops, and knives thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling raw meat.
  • Always store raw meats in the refrigerator away from produce or ready to eat foods.
  • Make sure all meats are cooked to proper internal temperatures.
  • NEVER thaw meat on the counter, always thaw it in the refrigerator.

Here is a link to the recipe for this week, Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette.  I used a bit less vinegar than it called for and the vinegar did turn the brussels sprouts a kind of olive-y green, but it sure did taste delicious.  Also I cooked it for a little longer than called for so the Brussels wouldn’t be too firm.

More amazing powers of vegetables!

Here is my market post for this week.  The amazing detox powers of FOOD!

Most of us have done a “detox” diet or cleanse at some point in our lives.  We have signed on for eating kale soup morning, noon, and night, or drinking nothing but juice for 10 days with the hope of shedding a few pounds and having more energy.  But are these cleanses necessary, or even safe?  After all, our grandparents never did a cleanse, and many of them lived long and well. 

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Well, most nutrition experts will tell you that the safety and efficacy of cleansing has never been scientifically proven, and that our bodies have their own detoxification systems in place that work to remove toxins from our bodies all day, every day. So why are so many people still jumping on the cleansing bandwagon?

It doesn’t need to be scientifically proven that many people do lose weight and feel good after a detox program or cleanse.  However, it is questionable whether it was the cleanse itself that makes you feel better, or the fact that you start eating more clean foods and less junk. Either way, once you start back on your regular diet, chances are good that you will regain weight and feel crappy again.  Not to mention that when you are eating very little your metabolism slows down to conserve calories, which is exactly the opposite of what you want when trying to lose weight.

In my opinion, a better way to detox the body is to eat as much fresh, whole foods as possible, and keep junk and processed food to a minimum ALL THE TIME!! This gives your body the best chance at getting as many nutrients as possible, and sets it up to be in top condition to process the less healthy stuff when we do eat it.  And did you know that there are many foods that help our bodies detoxification systems work optimally?  Here are just a few, and you can find them all at the market!

  1. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are chock full of antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  2. Collard Greens increase bile acid binding, which helps keep ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol down.  They are also high in chlorophyll, which feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
  3. Yogurt supports healthy digestion by replenishing that good bacteria and boosting the immune system.
  4. Cold water fish have least amount of toxins and are high in omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory.  They also contain good protein that support liver detox.
  5. Free range chicken also contain healthy protein to support the liver.
  6. Onions and garlic are loaded with sulfur-containing compounds, which help to detoxify the liver.
  7. Beets are packed with minerals to help flush out toxins, and also contain betacyanin, a cancer-fighting compound.
  8. Apples contain many nutrients, plus pectin, a special fiber that helps remove food additives and metals from the body.
  9. Parsley helps protect the kidneys and bladder with vitamins A, C, K and beta carotene.

I didn’t create this recipe but its DARN GOOD!!  Here is the link for Squash and Corn Chowder, so go warm up and make yourself some.  I used fresh corn from the market of course, and boxed organic vegetable broth. YUM!

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Greetings!!

Making carrot soup at the farmers market last fall

Making carrot soup at the farmers market last fall

Ok here it is…my very first blog post! I am frightened and excited and have wanted to do this forever.  Will it be cool? Pretty? Informative? Well written? Thoughtful? Unique? Funny? I have no idea.

I have thought many, many, many times about what I would make my blog about, and what I would say, and how I would do it…but how it will actually take shape is still a mystery, and I’m finally OK with that.

I read several blogs on a regular basis, which are awesome, organized, entertaining, informative, and visually stunning.  I would love to become an internet sensation and all around amazing inspiration and wealth of information like 100 Days of Real Food™, or a total badass hippie-stylie stay at home mom like MODG, or a vegan chef and foulmouth extraordinaire like Thug Kitchen, or an incredibly organized, creative lunch-packer and child-nutrition wizard like my friend Natalia at Tribeca Nutrition™, or even a grain-free, gluten-free cooking master like Deliciously Organic™.  Well, I’m not really any one of these..but maybe a little of all of them.  And I think I have some interesting thoughts, recipes, and knowledge to share with whomever might want to listen.  So if anyone is actually reading this, I would love to know about it!

I am sure I am a long way from visually stunning pictures, or unbelievably entertaining recipes, or revelations about post-preg jeans or baby head scarves, or even printable grocery shopping templates.  But I am a nutritionist, dietitian, mom, gluten-free cook, and huge proponent of family meals.  I will definitely post pictures of our dinners, I will show you how I make chicken broth (because I think it’s amazing), I will post articles I have written for my farmers market about making your own salad dressing and what to do with dandelion greens.  I will talk a lot about the trials and tribulations of feeding my son, and I will express my sheer excitement when he finally eats the grilled fish he has been rejecting for a year.  I do lots and lots of reading and thinking about how and what to feed children, so I will undoubtedly be talking a lot about that, and I think it’s something other people are thinking and talking about too.  I know none of this will be revolutionary, and there are definitely 1000 other blogs talking about the same things, but this is my little corner of the world, and for whatever reason, I feel compelled at this moment to share it with you. I really hope you enjoy it.