Friday, October 7, 2011

Healthy Creations Review

Started on July 13...I started writing this I've been working too much lately and planning meals has become somewhat of a chore. A little while ago a friend suggested I check out Healthy Creations an organic, "pre-made", gluten free shop that has all sorts of stuff that's good for you. She suggested it mostly for the gluten free baked goods, but I discovered they have a meal plan service. 
They do have quite a bit of chicken and we're not chicken eaters so I'm going to ask them to make vegetarian or sub tofu or something so we can try more dishes.
The prices are EXCELLENT and portions are more than enough for our family of 2 adults and 2 children - we get the half size gluten free meals. Did I mention ORGANIC???
We've tried many of the Healthy Creations meals now - it is October 7.
1 x Half Size: Baked Ravioli in a Creamy Pesto Sauce w/ Vegetables (veg)- GF: $20.25
1 x Half Size: Black Bean Burgers with Aioli and Sweet Pot Waffle Fries- GF: $19.75
1 x Half Size: Browned Butter Crusted Mahi w/ Herbed Corn on the Cob- GF: $19.00
1 x Half Size: Chili Relleno Casserole w/ Steak Strips- GF: $19.75
1 x Half Size: Herbed Salmon w/ Zesty Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette & Wild Rice-GF: $21.00
1 x Half Size: Mediterranean Salsa Verde 'Surf N Turf' Shrimp w/ Kale/Spina-GF: $21.00
1 x Half Size: Paneer Tikka Masala (vegetarian) with Brown Rice -GF: $19.50
1 x Half Size: Smokey Buffalo Burgers w/ Oven Fries & BBQ Sauce- GF: $22.00

1 x Half Size: Browned Butter Crusted Mahi w/ Sage and Tamari Brown Rice- GF: $19.00
1 x Half Size: Cheezy Cheddar Chicken Tenders w/ FRESH Broccoli: $19.00
1 x Half Size: Chicken Tikka Masala with Brown Rice- GF: $19.50
1 x Half Size: Herbed Salmon w/ Zesty Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette & Wild Rice: $21.00
1 x Half Size: Hoisin Marinated Pork Chops with Szechuan Green Beans- GF: $21.00
1 x Half Size: Mediterranean Salsa Verde 'Surf N Turf' Shrimp w/ Kale/Spina-GF: $21.00
1 x Half Size: Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup with Coconut Rice (w/ EXTRA VEG)-GF: $18.50

1 x Half Size: BBQ Pulled Pork over Baked Beans & Spinach- GF: $23.00
1 x Half Size: Bruschetta Shrimp over Fresh Broccoli (do not freeze)- GF: $20.00
1 x Half Size: Cabernet Black Currant Reduction over Coulotte w/ Oven Fries- GF: $23.00
1 x Half Size: Carne Asada Tacos with FLOUR TORTILLAS-GF: $22.25
1 x Half Size: Gnocchi in a Puttanesca Sauce w/ Italian Turkey Meatballs- GF: $21.50
1 x Half Size: Maple Glazed Salmon w/ Maple Roasted Squash- GF: $21.50
1 x Half Size: Peruvian Shrimp Kabobs w/ Aji Sauce and Brown Rice- GF: $20.00
1 x Half Size: Seasoned Turkey Lasagna- GLUTEN FREE- ALL GOAT DAIRY: $24.00
1 x Half Size: Sesame Crusted Ahi in Soy Ginger Butter Sauce w/ Green Beans-GF: $20.00
1 x Half Size: Shrimp Asada Tacos w/ FLOUR TORTILLAS- GLUTEN FREE: $20.50

All meals are reasonable considering they feed four with a meal or two leftover!
As a comparison - if I go out to a "economical but healthy" place and we get a meal for the boys to split, I get a salad of some sort or fish or something and Ed gets his usual - a burger - we can ring up $38.00!!! Of course it doesn't compare to getting burgers at In and Out for $12.00 - but, um - gross - who can eat that daily?
This food is fantastic. They'll even leave the cheese off if your dairy intolerant.
San Diego locals - give them a try!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's Next?

Grapes from your own vines are so much better than the grapes from the store it is amazing.

I received an email today for an opportunity to apply for a grant from Awesome Food. Awesome Food is a chapter of the worldwide Awesome Foundation, a microgrant funder that launched in Boston two years ago and now includes chapters in cities around the world.

When thinking about this I wrote the following:

First a little background - I live in Oceanside. I am an urban bio-dynamic farmer, member of our local botanical garden, Seabreeze CSA, Slow Food San Diego, I am a wife and mother of two young school age boys.
I raise chickens for eggs, support pastured/grass fed livestock, frequent my local farmers market, I've participated in "No impact" weeks and months, I support Old Wagon Dairy (raw goat milk), I use rain barrels, I'm into canning, preserving, and general conservation.
I have arranged field trips for my son's class to Sea Breeze, created scavenger hunts and booklets for the class, and lead the tour. I have also volunteered at Seabreeze during their events.
I taught the garden unit for my son's class and helped them plant their garden. My lecture was interactive, aimed at their age group and I really struck a chord with the kids. They all remember what I taught them.
I sent home a workbook for them to complete with their parents.
I believe in what you are doing. I've attended SD Roots lectures. I'm a huge believer in educating children for a better "food tomorrow".
I am a veteran consultant. At 37, I've lived in three countries, own my own business,  I'm working - most of the time - but in these economic times - it has been tough .
But, even though I have had a great career, it seems shallow, it feels like I have a higher calling. A purpose that is not driven monetarily, but for a cause.
I want to make a difference. I'd like to start an education program that goes to schools and helps teachers with their garden units or even bring garden units to public schools that do not have them.
I would come in, do a "grade appropriate" and in some cases "language appropriate" session with the class, then help them plant their garden either in their plot (we have those here in CA) or in their classroom window. I even know a thing or two about hydroponics, so anything is possible.
Included would be an interactive lesson on eating healthy - the difference between junk, a treat and healthy food. Samples of garden derived foods would be provided with recipes for parents.
Booklets will go home with the children promoting an economically functional bio-dynamic and healthy lifestyle.
I will send proposals to schools/districts and I will give a demonstration to district supervisors. I would like some capital for start up and supply costs.
For example - My son's last veggie garden project was $100.00 - 100% supported by my husband and I. I created a workbook with illustrations and garden oriented songs, lesson on soil, compost, seeds etc. We brought starts and they watched them grow, watered and weeded, then at the end of the school year I gathered the produce and made salsa and strawberry lemonade from the food they grew. They loved it.
It can be reproduced easily and with proper planning made to be more economically feasible.

Maybe I can keep momentum up this time...for our future...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dinner for the teachers

Last night I made dinner for the teachers involved in the Waldorf Music Conference here in San Diego Of course it was gluten and casein free, as well as vegetarian, but completely healthy and diverse. I made dinner for them last year as well, which was a 4 course meal with two dessert options.
I love fresh produce that summer brings! it isn't so hot here in Southern California so we are still enjoying some cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage; we also have cucumbers, corn, radish, onion, fava beans, and of course watermelon!
Let's also say that I was away all day and only had a tiny bit of time to pull this off - so I hit my library...
I pulled out a few of my favourite things...and created their menu...we also had some of the dishes here for dinner and I even ate the broccoli salad today for lunch - it is really amazing the next day after the flavors marinate.
The Menu:

Watermelon Gazpacho (Adapted from Lousia Shapia’s Lucid Food)
Fava Bean and Corn Salad (From Williams-Sonoma's  Eat Wellby Charity Ferreira)
Broccoli, Chickpea and Tomato Salad (From Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, Great Food Fast)
Cucumber and Kraut Tea Sandwiches on Chia and Millet and White Sandwich bread from Udi's and Bubbies Sauerkraut
Citrus with Honey and Mint
Chocolate Brownie (Gluten, Casein and Egg free) - adapted from Mayumi's Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul by Mayumi Nishimura 

Here are the recipes and with the adaptations...
Watermelon Gazpacho (6 as a starter)
In a  blender until smooth
6 cups watermelon, coarsely chopped and seeded (use a small seedless)
2 ripe tomatoes, cored & quartered (her recipe calls for 5)
1 rounded tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 whole toasted almonds (I use almond meal)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I use balsamic glaze)
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce (I use medium salsa)
1 tsp Maldon sea salt

Serve in bowls or glasses and top with
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 cucumber seeded, diced

1 radish chopped

Fava bean and corn salad with mint (6 as a salad)

  • Ingredients
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (used fresh)1 1/2 cups shelled fresh fava beans (about 1 1/2 lb.)2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil1 1/2 Tbs. cider vinegar8 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the corn and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a strainer and set aside.
Add the fava beans to the pot and cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Slip the fava beans from their skins.
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Stir in the corn, fava beans, radishes, mint, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grindings of pepper. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Serves 4.

Broccoli, Chickpea and Tomato Salad (6 as a salad)Ingredients:
1 pound broccoli, separated into florets (4 cups)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed


  1. In a large saucepan with a steamer insert, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add broccoli, cover, and steam until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, red-wine vinegar, olive oil, and onion; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and broccoli. Toss to coat with dressing. Let cool 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Cucumber and Kraut Tea Sandwiches (serves 6)
6 slices of Chia and Millet sandwich bread, crusts removed
6 slices of white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Your choice of butter or butter substitute spread - I like olive oil spread - but you can make your own with coconut oil or any other emulsion.
your choice of mayonnaise or salad dressing
36 thin slices of cucumber
6 tbs kraut

Assemble the sandwiches with thin layer of spread, mayo/dressing, 1 tbs kraut and 6 cucumber slices, cut in half and serve.

Chocolate Brownies

1 c. gluten free flour blend (1/3 garbanzo, 1/3 rice, 1/6 tapioca, 1/6 potato - tsp xanthan gum)1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. maple sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. sugarless chocolate chip
2 Tbs. unsweetened "milk" (you can use whatever "milk" you want - cow, goat, soy, almond)
1/2 c. oil - you can use whatever you want (I like to mix sunflower and flax)
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch Sea salt
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 ovenproof pan. (For easier clean-up, line pan with parchment paper.) i actually use 6 inch cake pans - then I can cut into triangles...
Place first five ingredients in one bowl and the remaining wet ingredients in another. Mix both bowls separately, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix just enough to blend, using a spatula to prevent lumps. Transfer batter to pan. Place on the middle rack of the oven; bake for about 20 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven.
Happy cooking!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where am I going to get my Macro or Juicing box now?

Diamond Organics is no more.
I was thinking to myself - hey - let's see if Kathleen can get me some gooseberries for a Midsummer cake I want to make this Friday...I wanted to make little ones and drop them off at my son's school for his teachers along with a spiral sun-catcher - which is a little craft the boys and I will be working on Friday. i didn't want to use grapes from Chile and our grapes don't come until September...although I might be able to find some early ones...

Anyhow - I go to the website and guess what I see?

Diamond Organics was the largest organic online retailer in the nation. Products included organic prepared foods, organic gift baskets and sampler and a full line of organic food items including fresh organic produce cut to order shipped overnight to arrive the next day.

When I traveled, I always had a box of Diamond Organics goodies shipped to my destination, this way I was guaranteed to have food with the standard I'm used to feeding my family.

Of course I'm heartbroken.  I wrote Kathleen and she in turn wrote me back...
What happened? Well - California happened.
This is a super expensive place to live. She sold organic food - which already had an associated cost, but also shipped it across the USA - shipping rates are astronomical.

What I do want to share is who Kathleen Hamilton is...
  • She has been in the organic food business for 30 years and knows that California is where you can produce food on a year round basis.
  • She cooked macrobiotic at home for 15 years.
  • Her soups were GLORIOUS.She sold her own line of ready-to-eat food and packs for lunch and dinner to her customers. 
  • She's a mother, she feeds her family whole foods and fresh organic ingredients. 
  • She didn't have health care for many years being self employed. (don't we know that situation!)
  • She does have a little cookbook and I'm looking forward to getting it!

She's in Moss Landing, CA and will continue to support her local delivery business to her area. thank you Kathleen for the many years you kept this family healthy.

I wish you luck in your next venture - you're an inspiration!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aria - 3744 Mission Ave Oceanside, CA 92058

Just got back from here. I think I could have used wheels to get me out I'm so stuffed.

Aria combines two of my favorite things Korean and Japanese. Home cooking is my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate good sushi (what most Americans think of when you say Japanese), but that's not what I was here for and quite frankly, I was looking for good Korean food.

I am not Asian, but I have lived in Asia and Oceania. When ordering at an Asian restaurant I'm not afraid. I have a taste for veggies, spices, fish and rice.

We were at Aria for lunch and so no bbq - I will be back for that though. When I walked in there were two 4 top tables of Japanese men eating lunch. Score #1 in my head. Unlike other diners' reviews I've read, I thought the atmosphere clean and well appointed - not at all dull.

The menu was completely easy to understand. It had pictures for most of the dishes - which I know helps people order and get what they expect.

The waitress was nice, not overly warm, but quiet and served us well. They brought out the customary vegetable side dishes - kimchi, potato salad, moo saeng chae, and some other marinated potato dish - all nice.

I ordered the bim bim-bap (bim bim-bob). For those who don't know this is seasonal veggies and chili pepper sauce/paste, raw egg and sliced meat. You stir it all together before you eat it. It was a perfect presentation and wonderful smelling. The dish tasted just like I expected and it came in a stone hot pot. I like to let it sizzle a little to get the rice kinda crunch in some places before I stir it up. YUM.

My eating partner ordered spicy pork bento and veggie tempura. The pork was spicy and he said it was akin to eating crawfish - you just have to keep going and forget about the heat.

The amount of food was outstanding. And for the price - AMAZING. Compared to other Asian food joints around our area it was entirely comparable and even on the economical side - which is why I gave it 4 stars.

Very good food for the price and didn't disappoint.

Monday, May 23, 2011

School Garden Update

The kinder garden has really grown. The children have tomatoes, strawberries, zucchinis, cucumbers, lettuce and some herbs growing well. Unfortunately I think the poor peppers have been munched by some little critter. 

At first the little dears were trickling water. So I came by for a check up and told them - plants like deep yet infrequent drinks and that means water a bunch only a couple of times a week. Be conservative and only water at the roots, stick your finger in to see if the soil below is damp. 

So here are some shots of the little garden:

This is right after we planted:

This is about a month later. The yummy tomato plants are caged up - we have a small space so cages are necessary. We used marigolds to protect the tomatoes from harmful nematodes.:

A little strawberry - those are quinault strawberry plants - they are so sweet. The rocks help mulch, add heat and hold them off the ground. They are so sweet.

A little cucumber - I hope it grows for them.

Yummy zucchini with flower! I love making stuffed zucchini flowers - see below for recipe. It is very involved but worth every delectable bite!

Stuffed zucchini blossoms - serves 6:
I like to serve two of these per person. I make the risotto first then stuff the blossoms, use light olive oil to spritz on them and bake them at 400 degrees.

First make your risotto:
3 cups chicken stock - kept warm
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine 
½ cup grated parmigiana cheese
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Pepper to taste
1. Put the stock in a pot, simmer it then put it on low
2. Heat the butter and olive oil together in a high sided saute pan. Add the onions and cook until soft. Do not burn.
3. Add the rice and cook while stirring to coat with oil/butter. 
4. Add the wine and let simmer until absorbed
5. Add about 1/2 cup stock - simmer and stir over medium until absorbed - repeat until rice is al dente (soft but with texture). This can take me up to 45 minutes - I hope it doesn't take you as long - but who knows! 
6. Take it off the heat - stir in cheese, pepper and parsley - allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Zucchini flowers
12 zucchini flowers
light olive oil in spray bottle
salt and pepper to taste
baking sheet

1. spray baking sheet with olive oil or use parchment (this is what I do)

2. take a spoon that holds about 4 tablespoons, scoop risotto and CAREFULLY place in the flower - these can rip but if you are careful you should be able to get the risotto perfectly on the inside 

3. close up the top by twisting carefully, spray with oil, place on baking sheet

4. repeat until you've stuffed all blossoms

5. sprinkle with salt and pepper

6. bake in oven until the blossom looks a little brown - about 15-20 minutes

This is so very yummy.

*they say you can't reheat risotto - but I love risotto cakes the day after!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Kinder Garden

My son's teacher has graciously allowed this gardening fanatic to transform one little plot of roughly 1x8x6 triangle of dirt into a thriving food center.

I'm very excited to do my lesson in biodynamic farming for the class. I can't wait to ask them where they think carrots come from, or the chicken they eat every night and plant the seeds in their little minds that farming needs to be a symbiosis - not a dump of petrochemicals and poisons.

We'll talk about worms, castings, compost, humus, and the difference between the super market, the farmers market, a CSA (community supported agriculture) and your own back yard. We'll talk about animals and their role in making the food we eat. I can't wait to start brainwashing them into the correct way of treating our Earth if we want to survive.

Oh, little minds are like sponges. Can't wait until they go home to their parents who send them to school with snacks of moon pies, orange peanut butter crackers, and Cheetos, and say, "Mom, can we have a garden?" or "Mom, I want to go to the farmers market." "Haha - I've won!" I'll say to myself when this little exercise ifs over.

But we all know the truth, I'll only reach 1% of the class, and that's 3 kids. One of the kids will be my own, the others will be kids of families who already do it the way I do. The sad fact of the matter is - most kids love instantaneous fatty sugary high empty caloric low nutrition food. It satiates our addictive natures, fills our quick energy needs and fat stores, starting the starving response - I WANT MORE!!! We eat more and then want more...the cycle never ends.

I digress. This is my chance to make a difference and it feels INCREDIBLE. I want to do this for our Earth, for their bellies and minds and for their SPIRIT. Growing food is incredibly satisfying and wonderfully healthy when done correctly.

We're growing:
Strawberries, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, peas, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and marigolds.

I am using starts so that by June, we'll have something to show for ourselves.

I'll be using some interesting techniques to use every inch of space given to us, including the fence. I would have loved more, but the plot is small, and we want to make food for our garden party out of our veggies and fruit.

I'm going to take pictures of our excited!