Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini Bread

August 21, 2014

B is a banana bread fiend, so it would seem that zucchini bread would be an obvious alternative. Or maybe not.

This rich, moist and mostly healthy treat was met with skepticism, when she demanded to know why there was green stuff in her banana bread. Did I have to put zucchini in EVERYTHING? ( Well, lately yes I do!)

Her father, who hates bananas, liked the cinnamon and allspice flavor and bread-like texture.

You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. Or something like that…

Here is the recipe. See for yourself if you are on Team B or Team S.

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Zucchini Bread
Sift together 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, (or a mix of regular and whole wheat if you prefer),1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all spice in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl mix together 1 egg, 1/3 cup of canola oil, or another neutral oil such as sunflower or grape seed oil, and 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, (I used non-fat Greek), 2 teaspoons vanilla,and 3/4 cup sugar. Mix well and stir in flour mixture until combined.

Fold in 1 grated medium sized zucchini  ( about 1 cup ) to the batter, and stir to mix.

Pour mixture into a loaf pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a rack and enjoy! ( or not, as the case may be.)

photo: Glasshouse Images

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First Do No Harm

August 20, 2014

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The FDA often acknowledges the presence of harmful chemicals in our household products, but does not do anything about them. Case in point:

In 2010, the government agency agreed that triclosan, which is often found in hand soaps and toothpaste can disrupt hormone balance, cause endocrine disorders and could be a contributor to the increasing rates of drug-resistant bacterias. The state of Minnesota has announced a ban on triclosan, effective in 2017.

So why is triclosan one of the active ingredients in Colgate Total toothpaste, something we actually ingest?!

Surely, there are other less toxic and dangerous things that could be used to make toothpaste, than a drug known to cause extreme health issues.

Consumer groups are pressuring big retailers to remove Colgate Total, and other triclosan products from the shelves. More importantly, we should be pressuring the FDA to ban it completely.

Colgate has defended it’s product, stating that there have been more studies done on Total than any other toothpaste in the world and that it is safe to use. Personally, I am not taking any chances. My current tube of Colgate Total is going in the trash, and being replaced by Crest, which doesn’t contain triclosan, or something even purer, like Tom’s of Maine.

Plain old baking soda and water has also been touted as a natural toothpaste replacement, removing stains, tartar and leaving breath fresh. The fluoride in our water supply should be able to do the rest.

We can run marathons, pour buckets of ice water over our heads, and bike until our legs fall off, all in the name of curing diseases that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Banning harmful ingredients, and being transparent with consumers about what is actually in these products may some day make our efforts moot.

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Garlic

August 19, 2014

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I love garlic, but the strong aftertaste, and the lingering scent on my fingers…not so much.

The center of the garlic clove where it sprouts is the harshest, and removing it, can mellow the garlic’s flavor.

The sprout in the middle of the clove is called the germ. Young garlic has a small, pale germ, which is tender and milder in flavor. As garlic ages, the germ continues to grow, turns green and becomes more bitter.

To remove the germ, cut the clove in half and use the tip of a paring knife to pry it out and discard it. This should take a bit of the “bite” out of the garlic, especially if it is being used raw.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Mini Treats

August 18, 2014

There is a little bit of kid in all of us, especially when it comes to treats. Over the weekend, I made a bunch of indulgent little desserts in kid friendly sizes. They were well received by all ages!

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Specially shaped chocolate chip cookies became the base for kid- friendly cookie pops!

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Nothing is better than handmade mini ice cream cones.

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Except for the ones filled with homemade salted caramel ice cream, that is. The creamiest smoothest ice cream I have ever eaten, if I must say so myself.

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In a word: YUM!

photos: indigo jones instagram

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Cold Brewed Coffee

August 14, 2014

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There is lots of buzz around cold brewed coffee these days ( pun intended.) It tends to be lower in acidity than it’s hot counterpart, and is” iced coffee ready” when you are. The concentrated brew means it doesn’t taste watered down when the ice starts to melt, which happens pretty quickly this time of year. It keeps for a week ( some say 2) in the fridge, making it well worth the wait.

It’s easy to make, and requires only coffee, water, and a lot of patience.

Cold Brewed Coffee:

Place 12 oz. of coarsely ground coffee into a large container.
Add 7 cups of cool water, making sure the coffee grounds are fully saturated.
Cover, and allow to steep at room temperature for about 12 hours.

Place a coffee filter into a mesh sieve, and slowly pour the coffee through it, into a pitcher. Avoid stirring, as it will make the coffee cloudy. Be patient, this process is slow and could take up to an hour for the water to fully drip through.

Cover the pitcher and chill until ready to use.

This makes a very concentrated brew. When you are ready to drink it, pour the coffee over ice, and dilute it with water and/or milk depending on your taste, and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Lefties

August 13, 2014

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August 13 is Left Handers Day, and being a southpaw myself, I thought it prudent to mark the occasion.

Lefties tend to be drawn to creative pursuits more often than their right handed counterparts. Look for lots of lefties in the arts, music, design, and sports.

From Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrant, to David Bowie and Paul McCartney, the list of creative lefties goes on and on.

Four of the last seven presidents of the United States have also been lefties. Presidents Obama, Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ford were all southpaws. Harry Truman and James Garfield also favored their left hands. It is rumored that Ronald Reagan was also a lefty, but was converted by his school teachers to use his right hand.

There are some major downfalls to being left handed:

Notebooks are bound on the left, making it difficult to start writing at the margin. We also tend to drag our hand through the text or drawings as we work on them, smearing the ink or graphite, and giving us a telltale smudge along the outside of our hand.

If we don’t sit on the outside of the table, we end up in an elbow war with the people next to us.

Those old fashioned one sided school desks? Always on the wrong side!

Often lacking the tools to perform day to day tasks due to things being engineered to accommodate righties, those who favor the left tend to be able to adapt to different scenarios with ease.

Try to open a can with a crank can opener, cut with scissors and use a mouse that are all designed to be used with your less dominent hand, and see how you fare. Us lefties have been doing it for years.

photo: glasshouse images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Scooping Ice-cream

August 12, 2014

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It’s so annoying when you are ready to serve ice-cream, but it’s hard as a rock. Microwaving it is a slippery slope: it often over melts around the edges, staying hard in the center.
No worries though…here is the scoop on scooping ice-cream that is frozen solid:

Dip a sharp knife in hot water and slice across the ice-cream container in both directions, forming a grid about the size of your ice-cream scoop.

Dip the scoop in hot water, and use to scoop out a section of the grid.

The ice-cream should be the perfect consistency.

To avoid over freezing in the first place, some suggest placing the container in a sealed, ziplock bag.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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It’s a Gas

August 11, 2014

 

7765900026Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a new study comes out and blows you away. Literally.

It seems that hydrogen sulfide, the noxious gas that gives farts their foul odor, has health benefits. Hydrogen sulfide is responsible for the part of the digestive process that breaks down gassy foods, and is expelled through flatulence.

Doctors are adding trace amounts of it to a new drug that is thought to reverse mitochondiral damage, thus strengthening cells and reducing blood pressure and pulse rate.

They are using it sparingly, as in large doses, hydrogen sulfide is poisonous. Not a surprise to those of us who have been on the receiving end of someone’s gas attack. Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase “silent but deadly,” doesn’t it?

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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What’s On My Mind This Week

August 7, 2014

After almost 10 months of traveling endlessly for work, I am back in New York for awhile and settling into my new, OLD routine again!

I am finding joy in the mundane things that I haven’t been able to do lately. Here are just a few of them:

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Cooking and eating greenmarket fresh vegetables : I love vegetables and finding a variety of fresh, simply prepared produce isn’t so easy to come by on the road.

Many hotel restaurants don’t offer a lot of vegetable choices, and slathering them in butter, a creamy sauce or frying them doesn’t help matters. My current fixation is zucchini. It has become my main course when the family is having meat ( which I don’t like,) or pasta, ( which doesn’t especially like me!) In addition to spiraling it into noodles and eating it with my other current fascination, tomatoes, I am playing with it in zucchini bread, and instead of lettuce in a salad, among other things. I’ll keep you posted with unrecipes soon!

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Nesting: I am reveling in being home, and taking time to do some improvements. I shampooed the bedroom carpet, and am slowly reorganizing.  My sofa needs recovering, and the whole loft could use a coat of paint. I have been discussing this for months, but the current downtime is allowing me to look at fabrics and paint chips, and actually make it happen. I didn’t plan to do anything else, but yesterday I swatted a mosquito that had flown in through the kitchen window, and both the insect and the glass backsplash in my kitchen did not survive. I’m thinking of replacing it with mosaic glass tiles in neutral tones. Any ideas?

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Training…hard! I have been a gym rat for many years, but it’s not easy to keep up with a fitness routine on the road. Yes, there are hotel gyms, and I do run outside a little, but those workouts tend to be maintenance, not real training. Travel days and early morning meetings wrecked havoc on my schedule, and I have been finding my fitness level has slipped. I was lifting lighter weights, running shorter distances, and biking at lower wattages. I am back on a serious regimen, and feeling great about it!(Okay, a little sore, but energized!)

Slow foods: I got a slow cooker a long time ago, but lately, I am actually using it! I can prep everything early in the day and leave it cook while I do whatever else I need to do. It means that I am not scrambling to get dinner ready at 7, or slaving over the hot stove when it’s hot outside. So far, BBQ pulled pork and Bolognese sauce were a hit, and I popped my favorite coconut miso chicken with shiitake mushrooms in there a few hours ago. It smells great!

Rebooting: It feels so good to relax, reconnect with friends, and think about what’s next. I love what I do, and the busier I am, the happier I am. Yet, I have missed a lot of social events, kid’s milestones, and just sitting back and relaxing! It’s also giving me enough breathing space to think about what I really want to do next, instead of just taking on the next project blindly. I usually panic at this stage, but this time I am enjoying it. Before the craziness began, I was working on a new concept for Indigo Jones. Perhaps now, I can take it to the next level. I’m pretty sure that will be what I will obsess over next week! I can’t wait to be able to share it with you.

Finding balance: These days it seems like it’s all or nothing with me. I’m not retired and I do still have work to do. I need to find the balance between committing myself to it fully, and living a normal life. And that is what I intend to do.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 

Eat To Win

August 6, 2014

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I am always intrigued by how nutrition plays such a strong role in athletic performance. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is  usually the norm for good health. But when you are racing a bike through the mountains of France for 6 hours a day, for 3 weeks straight, it seems one needs a bit more than that to power through.

Esquire magazine tracked Tour de France champion Thor Hushovd’s food consumption  for the day, and the amount he eats is truly staggering!

Breakfast consists of oatmeal, toast, ham, eggs, cereal and rice. Once on the bike, he snacks on 4-6 Clif bars, 2 packs of shot blocks and 2-3 gels, some rice cakes, and a small sandwich,washed down with 6-8 bottles of a special energy drink made for his team.

Post race, there is more rice, curried chicken or a tortilla of some kind, and 2 bottles of a recovery drink,consumed on the bus ride home.

Once back at the hotel, dinner consists of stuffed tomatoes, zucchini and more rice, beet salad, avocados, spaghetti, turkey and prunes, and sorbet for dessert. It all adds up to about 9,000 calories a day, or almost a week’s worth of food for me.

Although Hushovd burns about 6,000 calories on the bike, the most the body is capable of absorbing during exercise is about 250-300 calories per hour. Fueling up is more than just loading up. He is careful to go light on gluten and fiber, to avoid bloating and intestinal issues during the ride. Rice is his carb of choice.

So far, it’s all paying off, with Hushovd holding a top spot in the race so far.

I rode about 16 miles in 45 minutes in my indoor cycling class today, and burnt about 650 calories. While that may be child’s play for these athletes, surely it qualifies me for a little treat, doesn’t it?

photo: glasshouse images

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