Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Black Beans - 3 Ways

First in my series of beans a la crockpot - black beans.
I really geeked out on this little project. It all started because I was reading this blog. and was inspired by the beautiful bean salads and a local bean grower with a real passion for beans (here).
I decided, we were going to do a day trip to Napa and one of my stops would be this bean shop. Each bag of beautiful, fresh beans cost about $5.50. I thought - ok, before I totally muck this up on my pretty beans- let's make sure I know what I am doing and use a cheaper bag.
So I also went to the store and bought a few cheaper bags of beans so I could test the cooking times and my abilities. I suggest you do this same thing - each crockpot can be different so you are going to want to test the timing on yours. And buying good quality beans is important because you want something that is fresh and you know how/where it was grown.
Another experiment was freezing the beans. I didn't think it would work, but it's better than canned!

What you need:
Black beans

The night before you want to cook your beans, cover them with a lot of water in a bowl and leave on the counter. I used the whole bag because I didn't want to do this multiple times and freezing works great for beans!
Drain and rinse. Dump into your crockpot and cover with 2 inches of water.
For my crockpot it took 5 hours on high for black beans (again, these were pre-soaked). I like mine tender and not mushy.
Set it, and forget it.

When your beans are cooked, you can use them immediately or let them cool and freeze them.
Just place them in a storage container and put the lid on and freeze. If you are not going to use them this month I would recommend vacuum packing them after they have formed in the freezer in the storage dish.

Black Beans My Way #1 {Black Bean Corn Summer Salad}

Black beans
Corn, grilled
red onion
olive oil

(no measurements here because some might like more corn and less onion, or more lime, etc) Just toss together and enjoy!

Black Beans My Way #2 {Refried}
An awesome use of the frozen beans - literally take them out, put them in a pot with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and over medium low heat defrost them. As they defrost mash them as much as you like your 'refried' beans and you are done.
Serve on homemade corn tortillas and guacamole for a yummy vegetarian snack!

Black Beans My Way #3 {Plain}
Plain with some salt - great side dish with some protein and veg!

{I am on a bean rampage so keep your eyes out for more black bean recipes!}

Monday, July 16, 2012

Easy Skillet Chicken and Rice

This was inspired by an America's Test Kitchen recipe - but made GF/DF and some added umph it needed. It's such a comforting meal. So simple to make and so simple in taste. And I like that sometimes. This is a great weeknight meal and it takes only 30 minutes and can be mostly made from things I usually have in the freezer and fridge.

**Notes: I would really urge you to use a flavorful rice like basmati here. And good basmati. The dish is quite plain and the yummier the rice the better. Also, I always use a Le Crueset here. You can use any heavy bottom pan, but my preference for even cooking is always LC.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbls olive oil
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
pinch of chili flakes
1/2 cup white wine of your choice (always cook with something you want to drink)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped green olives
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 lemons, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan heat the oil (make sure you've picked a pan with a lid). When good and hot - sear one side of the chicken. Take out and set aside.

Next warm up the onion and cook until soft. Add the chili flakes and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add in the rice and let it cook until most of the kernels are white. Stir in the wine. And you are going to do a risotto type thing here where you really let the rice soak up the wine before adding the stock in.
Once the wine is absorbed, put the stock in and place the chicken back in the skillet. Cover and cook until the chicken is done - about 10 minutes.
Throw in the peas, green onion and olives. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Enjoy with a hearty serving of chard. 

Catching up with a Crockpot and Skillet Meals

It's been a busy and sleep deprived past two weeks and when the baby is peacefully sleeping in my arms (because that is the best feeling in the world and because when that is the only way she will sleep - you let her!) I have caught up on some blog reading (thank goodness for iPads making it easy to multi task like that).
So I come to you this week with a host of skillet and crockpot fixings. My new inspiration comes from a few places. One - has to be easy. Two - has to be nutritious. Three - has to make something that reheats well. Four - as usual, has to be gluten and dairy and nightshade free, but can't taste like that. Five - You will see a lot of beans. I always use canned beans and I don't mind it too much, but I really prefer to soak all my grains and legumes, but you can't get that with canned. It's also cheaper and tastier if you make your own.
Beans are also really great for the crockpot - because they take so long and also they don't taste like the crockpot when they cook. My crockpot recipes I pick and post do not taste like crock pot (possibly you don't know what I am talking about here - but some things, especially chicken - don't cook up well in the crockpot and end up tasting like the pot itself. It's weird and not pleasant). My crockpot postings will also not be your typical chili type deals because pretty much all of those recipes call for tomato - and lots of it - and that being a nightshade I steer clear.
The other recipes are soups (mostly lentil based) and the one skillet deals have been fun to play with too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stroller Snack

This is so simple and so good. It's what I pack myself to have on hand in the stroller when the nursing hunger attacks me (but non-nursing folk love it too!)

2 ingredients. Yes two. You can add more dried fruit or other seeds - which actually this started as a store bought no nut trail mix I was buying. I decided I only liked these two parts so to save money and satisfy my craving, I now make my own.

1 cup Raw or raw sprouted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup Enjoy life brand mini chocolate chips (or your favorite brand but his one is soy, nut,dairy,gluten etc all of the common allergens free)

Mix in a baggy and take to go

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Quick Indian Cauliflower & Green Bean Curry

This is so quick and requires that you just have a few of the basic Indian spices on hand. And you can use this same method on a lot of vegetables, but this happens to be my favorite. Usually it's done with cauliflower and potato and peas, but I don't eat potato so this is my version - Hashimoto friendly!

2 tbls canola and/or peanut oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 head of cauliflower, core taken out and cut into smallish pieces (your choice)
2 cups green beans
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala (store bought or you can make your own)
1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 cup or so of water

In a pan (that you have a lid for) warm the oil over medium low heat. DON'T go crazy with the heat. Indian cooking is all about managing that so you can just lightly toast the spices.
When you think the oil is warm, put in one mustard or cumin seed. If you see it bubbling on the sides, put in the rest of the seeds. Cook until just fragrant (that literally means until you can smell it - don't let them burn if you do - start over).
Then toss in the ginger and onion.

When the onion is soft, toss in the cauliflower, green beans, spices, salt and water and cover with a lid.

Cook until the cauliflower is nice and soft. Keep adding water as needed.

Serve over basmati rice.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Powerful Quinoa

Quinoa is in itself one of the greatest grains for anyone - but a Celiacs best friend. You can do this up any way you want, but what makes it 'powerful' is the blend of veggies you get from the farmer's market and the addition of coconut aminos and seeds.
If you are not familiar with coconut aminos, read here. (I have found it at New Leaf and Whole Foods, but you can also get it on Amazon I think). They are awesome. Adds umami like soy sauce but is not soy. So for the allergen sensitive folks - this is the PERFECT alternative. You can also use it to dip sushi, toss with rice noodles. Delish.

1 cup quinoa, soaked overnight and rinsed
1/2 bunch arugula or spinach, cleaned and chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower and/or broccoli
2 small zucchini, chopped or sliced
1 good handful of green beans trimmed and chopped
1 cup shitake mushrooms
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 lemon
coconut aminos
salt and pepper
olive oil

Part 1
Heat your oven to 400 F and roast the broccoli/cauliflower and/or zucchini on a sheet pan until golden with olive oil, salt and pepper

Part 2

While the oven is heating...
Warm the olive oil up in a pan and cook the onion until it's soft. 
Toss in the mushroom and cook until everything is just as you like it.

Part 3
While the oven is going and the pan is going...
Cook the quinoa and toss in the arugula - let the heat of the quinoa wilt the greens.

Toss together and squeeze the juice of the lemon, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and coconut aminos to your taste; Add the pumpkin seeds.


This is perfect cold or room temp - I actually don't eat it warm except the first time I make it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meal Plan Week of June 23

This week is inspired by some random recipe searching I did on the iPad while nursing and holding a baby that just loves to sleep in my arms. Thank goodness for Evernote (if you have not used this app it is great! It helps me take notes and pictures and it's SaaS so I can access it on my computer or any mobile device - thank you technology). 
This week is also inspired by quick meals that are also comforting favorites for Ben and I. Happy Eating!

Saturday -  Smoked salmon nicoise salad
Sunday - Quick Indian fried rice
Monday - Tacos
Tuesday -  Daisy's yellow rice with grilled jerk chicken
Wednesday - Pad Thai and laab 
Thursday - Thai chicken noodle salad 
Friday - Homemade chicken fingers with sweet potato fries

Morning green drink
Kale chips 

This week it's about making enough dinner for leftovers and sandwiches. Busy weekend so minimal prep and cooking done ahead of time. Just shop and cook the night of!

Chicken stock

Some notes - I will be posting about the smoked salmon nicoise salad, but bottom line on that is I am so lucky my husband can smoke things - it turned out SO good! Also, stay tuned for the Indian fried rice. I have never done this, but I have a hunch that I can make it work. So if it's a success - we will all be so excited! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I am not perfect.....

I feel compelled to share that my meal planning went array this week. It's Wednesday and I am looking in the fridge at leftovers and thinking, "wait, there was supposed to be at least one more unique meal to prepare".
And there was - meatloaf and grilled chicken. But guess what - somehow I either didn't defrost meatloaf fixings or didn't buy them on Friday (duh, where was that on my list!!) and I know what happened to the chicken. The demands of an infant got the chicken (translation = I defrosted it. Intended to prep it on Sunday when we do all of our cooking but didn't get to it. Intended to get to it Monday. Didn't. Go to take care of it Tuesday - snap! I wasted a good chicken. It was bad.)

So I must share not only my super organizational side, but also the episodes where the plan just didn't work. That way I can learn and share with the world.

Next, I was thinking ok - now what. Thank goodness for brilliant ideas like breakfast for dinner. That is what we are having this evening. A combination of freezer and pantry items with fresh staples. Eggs, bacon (pork and turkey), mixed side salad, and cream of buckwheat (GF - and almost like cream of wheat). Quick, easy and with things we had in the house. Evening saved!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Own Chicken Sausage

Sausage is expensive to buy and while I definitely like the convenience and the unique flavors some brands have come out with - I prefer this as a staple in our house instead.
1. I know what is in it
2. No weird ingredients
3. It's chicken (I don't do much pork)
4. Pretty darn cost effective

1 lb chicken (or pork, beef too, but I would change up the spice mixture)
1 - 1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fennel seed

(feel free to add or subtract any of the spices here)

Pour everything in a bowl.
Take off your rings or put on gloves - and get friendly with your meat mixture. Don't over blend but mix in the spices thoroughly.

I love using this in my pasta toss (quick healthy rice pasta cooked with chard and then mixed with this sausage, my own pesto and some jarred artichokes and olives and capers - easy and delish!)

You can also buy several pounds of ground meat, mix and freeze the extra so it's just ready for you next time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spanish Beef Stew

This. Is. So. Good!

Pretty easy and definitely a great freezer meal. I was inspired by this recipe here, but seeing as I cannot have tomatoes, it had to be modified. Plus, we didn't agree that the beef should go in after the onions - you won't brown meat that way! (you will steam it)

So here is the LL version:

2 tbls good quality olive oil
2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed and diced into cubes
1 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp paprika (if you are really sensitive to nightshades, omit this)
2 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced (or smash if you are feeling lazy :) )
1/2 jar of pitted green olives sliced
8 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Warm the oil in your best dutch oven like pot over medium heat.
Brown the pieces of beef in batches. Set aside.

Cook the onions and garlic until soft and just getting caramelized. Season with spices.
Add the beef and broth and let simmer for an hour or two.

At this point you can let it cool and then freeze it. What I recommend is eating it with rice that has been soaked and then cooked. You can do this with the soup as you freeze it but then the rice soaks up the goodness. Just preference, but I would just make it when you defrost the soup. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Grapefruit Green Shake

Yes, it looks strange but it doesn't taste strange and it's so good for you!

Basically you take a blender and put this into it:

1 grapefruit
A bit of water
1 tsp or less of spirulina ( I use Hawaiian)
Flax, sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds

Blend and enjoy. This is a great combo because spirulina does take an acquired taste, but with grapefruit you don't taste it. Spirulina is great as a natural energy booster. Try it next time instead of a cup of coffee and see what happens!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bunny Spice Shake

Inspired by a shake drink recipe in "raw food real world" (great raw recipe book by the way) I came up with this. Great way to start your morning and with all the vitamin A in carrot juice it's perfect for a nursing momma! I add flax and sunflower seeds to mine so I am starting the morning with the right fats too.

1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup carrot juice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup ice
1 banana
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
Smallest dash of cinnamon

Friday, June 15, 2012

How Meal Planning Breaks Down Now

Slightly new system we have going. If you were an avid follower before you will notice that I am not just noting dinners, and there is now a specific section for both freezer contributions and boosters/snacks and lunches.

Here is how the timing of Natasha's system works:

Thursday - brainstorm meals and needs for the upcoming week. I will be posting ideas on how I go about picking meals to make. I also make the grocery list based on the meals and needs of the week. 
Friday/Saturday (whatever day ends up working) - Hit the grocery store for non farmer's market items. Stick to the list!
Saturday - hit the local farmer's market and buy up the vegetables and other goodies needed. 

"Veg" to me means whatever I can find at the Farmer's Market, and then whatever is on sale, looks good and is local and organic/sustainably farmed at the grocery store. So there is no list to take to the market. I will have an idea of what I want (like Asian bowls means mushrooms would be good and I always buy kale or chard to add a pile of greens to dinner). 

Section types in Natasha's meal plans:

"Freezer Contribution" - The story is we got a large standing freezer for the garage to hold staples like our homemade stock, whole lambs and things we buy in bulk (or specialty gluten free items). It has turned out to be an absolute lifesaver with an infant to have meals prepared and just ready to defrost in our freezer (I made about a month's worth of food before she was born). It's like a triple yay factor - we made it so we know what went into it; it's gluten and dairy free; and it's ready when you are too tired or have a baby that just doesn't want to be put down so you can chop or cook (like mine!). So every week or two we make a few things that can be frozen and eaten later, just to make sure we have ready made food on hand. Freezing does take some of the nutritional edge off, but when you are juggling a lot of things and have a new baby - it's about balance and managing as best as you can.
*I need to add that finally buying a Foodsaver vacuum packer was a great combination to make this system work too.

"Booster/Snack" section is my way of making sure I also buy things at the store to keep blood sugar regulated throughout the day and add 'booster' foods to my diet. Booster foods are things that are super power houses for nutrition, but you really don't need to eat much. Like spirulina, spices, seeds, and nuts.

"Lunches" are both leftovers and things I specifically plan. Sometimes a dinner is so good, there are no leftovers. Or, you just want something else!

Here is why I made these changes and what benefits we have found:
1. I am home, with a baby. If you have done this - you know - sometimes you don't get to eat if you don't have it just ready. If you have not done this before, pretend you have a job that goes 24 hours a day and cries at you and you have a serious emotional and hormonal reaction if you don't respond to that job :)
2. Ben and I have become really good at identifying when a reaction to one of our food sensitivities hits. And it was happening often because most restaurants are not good at managing cross contamination. Particularly for me, finding out that nightshade family foods were bothering me (peppers, tomato, potato, eggplant) on top of dairy and gluten - try finding a place you can eat off the menu with all those. It's possible, but limited. Very limited. So it's easier to get crafty and make the good stuff we love at home on our own.
3. I feel like I know where my budget goes on food. I love budgets - it's a sick thing, but I do. And having this game of how much we spend each week and how we manage the eating each day is just super fun for this geek.

Oh, I might change this again as I continue to write about it, but I will always explain it!

Meal Plan Week of June 17

Meal Plan Week of June 17 

Freezer Contribution:
Spanish beef and olive stew
Pot Roast

Pasta toss (for N, B is avoiding grains this week)

Lions head meatballs with cabbage

Roast leg of lamb for Father's Day
Grilled chicken with raw recipe grapefruit/avo/fennel salad
Meatloaf with smashed sweet potato and grilled veg 
Viet style bun bowls
Grilled fish grilled with stir fry veg

Boosters and snacks:
Breakfast bunny spice shakes
Grapefruit Green shakes
Quinoa veg salad with coconut aminos
Raw veggies

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blogging Again

Here I am. I didn't go anywhere - and I have not stopped my healthy ways - I just have not been writing about it since - oh dear - 2010!
Not only have I been continuing my Field of Greens ways - but they have gotten better. And now, I am a Momma (to beautiful almost 3 month old Leena) and blogging helps me stay on track. With my new responsibilities and maternity leave coming to an end in the next month and a half I wanted to get into a pattern to keep our house eating clean and healthy and hopefully inspire others to do the same. So far, together Ben and I have been pretty successful at managing everything and eating healthy, flavorful food that meets our dietary restrictions (but as usual - does not taste like it!).

So let's start again. Happy Eating!!