Recipe: Easy Baked Artichoke “Fries”

A simple side dish or appetizer that is a great addition to pretty much any meal!

Recipe: Baked Artichoke “Fries”

Ingredients:

1 Bag Frozen Artichoke Bottoms

1 Tablespoon Organic Lemon Juice

Large pot of boiling water (about 3 cups)

Sea Salt

Fresh Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper

Method:

1. Bring water to a full boil then remove from heat.

2. Place artichoke bottoms in water and add lemon juice. Cover pot, and let sit until artichokes are tender.

3. Remove tender artichokes and slice lengthwise to desired thickness (the thinner, the crispier…)

4. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper that has been lightly greased with organic olive oil Spray. Also spray tops of artichokes (or toss with a little EVOO), and season with sea salt, fresh pepper, a lot of garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste.

5. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours, but keep checking for desired doneness.

6. Serve alone or with a dipping sauce like salsa. Enjoy!

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Recipe: Black Bean Chili/ Protein 101

 

This is a recipe that was recommended to me over a year ago by my cousin Sari. It is from the TASTE cookbook that was distributed by the Yeshivah of Flatbush a few years ago. This is a definite crowd pleaser! Served with brown rice, this meal makes for a complete protein.

A few changes family and I have made to the recipe: add water to thin out the chili (about 1/2 cup should do). You can also add fresh garlic (2-3 cloves should do).

Recipe: Black Bean Chili (Taste Cookbook)

Ingredients:

2 cans Goya black beans, not drained

1 onion, chopped finely

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 orange/yellow pepper, chopped

1 can tomato paste (I use Muir Glen Organic)

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

3/4 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. hot sauce

dash of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup water (optional addition, not part of original recipe)

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed (optional addition, not part of original recipe)

Method:
1. Saute onions and peppers until tender (garlic, if using).
2. Add beans and tomato paste, stir.
3.  Add remaining ingredients.
4. Cover, and cook over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Proteins 101:

Proteins are made up of amino acids, 9 of which are essential amino acids. They are considered essential because our bodies cannot make them. Our bodies need protein for growth and for tissue/muscle repair.

Animal proteins like fish, eggs, meat, poultry, milk etc. are usually referred to as complete proteins or high-quality proteins in the sense that they contain all of the essential amino acids in the correct  proportions.

Plant-based proteins like beans, whole grains, and vegetables are considered incomplete proteins because each is lacking certain proportions of certain amino acids. However, whole grain rice and beans, complement each other because each contain the amino acids that the other is lacking, together making up a complete protein. They are therefore referred to as complementary proteins. Complementary proteins do not need to be eaten  in the same meal in order to get complete protein benefits. As long as they are eaten over the same day, the body can use the amino acids effectively.

Much of the more current scientific research is encouraging people to consume less animal-based proteins and more  plant-based proteins. This is a lesson for another day! For now, you have a new vegetarian recipe to add to your weekly rotation!

Side NoteQuinoa is unique in that it is plant-based, but also a complete protein. You might also like to know that Quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain! Soybeans are also a  plant-based complete protein, but I do not recommend eating soy foods in excess, a lesson for another day!

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Quick, Clean, Delicious: Squash with Vidalia Onions

Here’s a recipe that I have been making for years. It really is quick, easy, clean, and delicious.

The squash gets a sweet and carmelized taste, and this dish works as a side dish to almost any dinner. Try it and see!

Recipe: (choose organic if possible)

Squash with Vidalia Onions:

4 yellow squash, sliced into rounds (not too thick)

1-2 vidalia onions, sliced into rounds

Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Method:

1. Place squash on a tray lined with parchment paper that has been greased with Organic Olive Oil Spray (or EVOO).

2. Spray the squash with olive oil spray (or drizzle lightly with EVOO) and season with salt and fresh pepper to taste.

3. Cover with sliced onions.

4. Bake, uncovered, at 375 until squash and onions begin to brown.

Enjoy!

(Notes the squash does not need to be turned over in the oven. The less you touch it, the better!)

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Dinner Tonight!

I am excited to begin sharing recipes with all of you, but more, I am looking forward to your comments, feedback, and contributions!

For my first contribution I chose to provide you with a complete meal. It contains: A whole grain, a lean protein, and a non-starchy vegetable. Both recipes contribute to a family dinner that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. They are simple, clean, and easy to prepare. Props to my mother-in-law Michelle Haddad who introduced both of these recipes to me. I have been adding both to the weekly rotation ever since.

Recipe 1:

Chicken Chili:

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

1 lb. organic ground chicken (white meat is preferred)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1  8 oz. can of Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce

Method:

1. Sauté chicken and  garlic in EVOO until chicken starts to brown.

2. Add tomato sauce, and continue stirring over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil for 3-4 minutes.

3. Serve over Brown Rice, (if preferred, you can use Quinoa, Bulgur or any other whole grain)

Suggestions:

1. You can also throw this chili right over some mixed greens for a delicious dinner salad.

2. For a spicier dish add crushed red pepper, or hot salsa.

3. If your family prefers a sweeter chili add a sautéed onion as well.

Recipe 2:

Fresh Broccoli sautéed With Garlic and EVOO

This recipe sounds like any other, but for some reason when I follow my mother-in-law’s exact directions it really comes out perfect. So here it is:

Ingredients:

1 head fresh broccoli (organic if possible), cut into florets

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon EVOO

Method:

1. Place broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute exactly. Remove and immediately rinse under COLD water.

2. Sauté garlic in EVOO until nicely browned, then add broccoli and continue sautéing over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or really until desired degree of doneness. ENJOY!

Note: I usually double this recipe for a family dinner, as one head of broccoli really doesn’t cut it!

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I’m Back!

Hi everyone! I’m back at it, but this time I’m armed with some new minimalist recipes. As a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I am a certified health counselor. Healthy eating and cooking are definitely a passion of mine. My first principle in healthy eating is a CLEAN, mainly WHOLE FOODS diet: Meaning, our foods should come from mostly unprocessed, minimally preserved ingredients, like fruits, vegetables, organic lean proteins, healthy oils and fats, and complex carbohydrates in (carbs their whole form like brown rice or whole wheat flour versus white rice and white flour). As part of a WHOLE FOODS diet, I also believe in using natural sweeteners like maple syrup versus white sugar.

The recipes will be MINIMALIST in terms of the number and types of ingredients, and also in terms of preparation necessary. Lastly, I invite you to share your recipes with me. As long as they meet the criteria, I will be glad to post them. So stay tuned for some minimalist recipes!

PS: The recipes I will be providing are not necessarily creative or original. They are merely recipes I have taken from cookbooks, family members and friend  that I feel are nourishing and tasty, and of course well-received! I am also looking forward to suggestions and comments on how to improve, change and tweak the recipes, as we all have something to contribute.

Recap: Recipe Criteria:

1. Whole Foods

2. Minimalist in terms of prep

3. Well-Received

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Tech/Wire Control: IKEA’s Gone Minimalist!

I love when companies just know how to do everything right! For instance, Amazon.com, is there anything more user friendly and pleasurable when it comes to online shopping? So, here’s to IKEA. If you’ve been inside my home, you will know that it is pretty much an ad for IKEA. A majority my storage closets, bookcases, and furniture are from that amazing store. If you’ve been to my home you would also notice that items like printers, remote controls, DVD players, and pretty much any other clutter-creating objects, are hidden and out of sight, allowing for a neat, sleek, minimalist appearance. To that end, I have drilled holes in the backs of my units in order to squeeze wires through, and have also out up wire blockers on my walls, which I then covered with picture frames, etc. So I was pleased to read this:

IKEA Shows Other Retailers How It’s Done

by Elaine Misonzhnik April 17th, 2012

Swedish furniture giant IKEA continued on its mission to take over the world this week with the announcement that it was going to start selling consumer electronics, including televisions, sound systems and CD/DVD/Blu-ray players.

IKEA saw the opportunity in the electronics market because of the difficulty people have with all the wiring that goes with those products, creating clutter in their homes. So it formed a partnership with Chinese firm TCL Multimedia for products that will be designed specifically to fit in with IKEA’s furniture, save space and hide the unseemly cables.

The products will be rolled out in all of IKEA’s markets by 2013, with the simplest system/furniture combination costing $960.

Here’s a video outlining how the combinations will work.

In a world where electronics retailers and furniture sellers are seeing their market share shrink, this is not a bad move on IKEA’s part. This can make its stores popular destinations for people looking for both furniture and electronics.

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Quote of the Day:

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I Confess!…Our Toys are not Minimalist!

Yes, we have a lot of toys! We are also grandchild number 1 on two sides of the family! So cut me some me some slack!

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Updated with Tips: TOYS, TOYS and MORE TOYS…Here’s a Peak into My Toy Storage…

My friend Nicole who writes SKETCH42, a blog about fashion, style, food, art etc. reviewed a book written by Gretchen Rubin, called “The Happiness Project.” Her review really resonated with me. In fact, the review pretty much sums up why I started this blog to begin with.  Check out her review here: Book Review: The Happiness Project.

In the beginning of the book Rubin decides to tackle her clutter. As we all know from cleaning for Passover, clutter can invade our life as it detracts not only from our physical space, but from our mental clarity as well. Outer peace brings inner peace.  Rubin categorizes clutter into various categories, and begins to create a system to organize her chaos. As part of the process she encountered the challenge of TOYS, a challenge all too familiar to me. After some trial and error, and with inspiration from my oh-so-organized sister, Stefanie, I’ve managed to find a system that works.  Here it is for you to see! Stay Tuned for a detailed Tips & Tricks section on this one, where I will discuss my strategies.


While I am by no means the expert on toy storage or any storage for that matter, here is some of what trial and error has taught me:

1. Like with Like: Group building toys like legos and blocks together, art supplies with other crafts, books with books, puzzles with puzzles. This helps children utilize their toys optimally and it helps parents with inventory control!

2. Utilizing Corners: As you can see I have toys tucked away everywhere. Corners are a great bulk items and also those that you’d rather not stare at constantly.

3. Clear Boxes/Labels: The clear boxes/labels are great for messy/little items (crazy balls, crayons, figures etc.). The boxes also help children see what they have and make it easy for them to clean up after play. The labels help in truly giving everything a place. Even when the room looks like a tornado hit, clean up is a breeze.

4. Shelf-Spacing: In order to maximize storage space, assess what you aim to store, and then (if your storage furniture allows) adjust shelves accordingly. If you look at the photos I’ve provided you will see cars in a cabinet with each shelf stacked closely to the next. This allows me to fit more cars in that closet without piling them on top of each other. In the other closets, where the boxes are bigger, I have larger spacing between the shelves.

5. Accessibility: This is key! The toys are there for the kids to USE them. If they cannot access them, they are good for nothing. To achieve this, note how I used my coffee table to store baby toys as they are within her reach. Also note, the huge basket of balls and sports items for my son. Pamper accessibility is for me! I do not want to run upstairs or even into the next room to grab wipes and Pampers for each diaper change, this is why the box is right there with all of the toys! Also, note how items that we rarely use, (or want the kids to use!) are all the way on top of the cabinet.

7. Empty Space: I have found that leaving some space for future purchases helps with the clutter control.

6. Enhancing Play: They key to this is not to be OCD about toy storage, but it is all for the kids! They are the ones who should be getting the most fun and stimulation out of the toys. Making toys neat, easy to reach, simple, and not overwhelming really fosters the right play.

Hence, the BASKETBALL COURT in my DEN!!! Yes, my husband said I was crazy to drill that eye-sore into the wall, but I said, this is what life is about! My son will enjoy this day in and day out, what is more worth it than that?? And guess what, I was right! Sam plays basketball all the time! The court is so fun and “official” that even adults love to play on it. I even find myself asking Sam to play “5-3-1” from time to time.

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Quote of the Day: AIM 5:

AIM 5: START NOTICING YOUR USE OF PROACTIVE VS. REACTIVE BEHAVIORS, SPECIFICALLY, LANGUAGE. KEEP A LOG OF ALL OF THE TIMES YOU SPEAK IN THE NEGATIVE TODAY. WHEN YOU CATCH YOURSELF, THINK ABOUT HOW YOU COULD HAVE REPHRASED YOUR LANGUAGE IN THE POSITIVE.

EXAMPLE: NEGATIVE LANGUAGE: “I CANT BELIEVE SHE CANCELED ON ME, NOW MY WHOLE DAY GOT MESSED UP! I’M SO FRUSTRATED! SHE PUT ME IN A BAD MOOD!”

REPHRASE IN POSITIVE: “SHE HAD TO CANCEL, NOW I HAVE A FREE HOUR, LET ME SEE WHAT I CAN CROSS OFF MY LIST. I WILL RESCHEDULE WITH HER FOR ANOTHER TIME.”

Our thought patterns are a huge indicator of what happens in our lives. I remembered hearing about a book written by Dr. Stephen Covey-The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I remembered that he spoke about the power of positive language, so I googled him and found his website: Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

I haven’t read Dr. Covey’s book, but I thought it might be nice to experiment with some of his 7 Habits, (There are more than 7 now). I’ve decided to stick to my minimalist motto and isolate each habit as an AIM in and of itself. The catch is that I did not skip ahead to read about the 2nd habit- in this way my focus will be completely on HABIT 1.

Dr. Stephen Covey: Habit 1: BE PROACTIVE: Books – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Habit 1: Be Proactive

-Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices are yours.

Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, are affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.

-External forces act as stimuli that we respond to. You have the freedom to choose your response. One of the most important things you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language–I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language–I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do–they have no choice.

-Problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into 2 areas– Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

Circle of Concern:-things over which we have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather.

Circle of Influence: things we can do something about: health, children, problems at work.

Proactive people focus on the Circle of Influence. 


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