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The 10 Easiest Ways to Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

21 Apr
"Design Scavenger project herb garden"

Photo courtesy of Design Scavenger, http://www.designscavenger.com

FOR YOU TO LIVE A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE, IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING PRACTICAL.  AFTER ALL, THROWING YOUR ENTIRE PAYCHECK INTO A HEMP WARDROBE MIGHT BE ECO-FRIENDLY, BUT NOT EXACTLY A TREND ANYONE WOULD WANT TO SUSTAIN.  CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF THE 10 EASIEST WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY, MADE ESPECIALLY FOR THE FOODIE IN YOU.
1. Be a conscious eater.  Takeout King or Queen? Cook at home once a week to reap the therapeutic benefits of cooking while cutting back on the packaging that’s wasted on to-go meals.  Additionally, go meatless once per week to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51%.  That’s emissions the animals and you produce.  I’m pretty sure people will be happier with that switch!
2. Start your own organic urban garden.  How great would it be to have fresh fruits, veggies & herbs in your backyard or on a patio or windowsill? You’ll be eating nutritious food free of pesticides and chemicals that do more harm to your body than good.  Check out the rolling herb garden that my fiance, Kris Kaufman, a.k.a. Design Scavenger, made for me out of an old trash can and wood off the side of the road.
3. Reuse your shopping bags.  Paper or plastic? How about neither. Bring reusable grocery bags to reduce your impact on landfills.
4. Abide by the Dirty Dozen.  Don’t throw good money away. Keep the Dirty Dozen cheat sheet by your side to remind you of what to organic fruits & veggies you should splurge on and what conventionally-grown items are OK to consume.
5. Plant a tree.  Did you know one tree might absorb as much as one ton of carbon over a 40-year lifespan.  That’s some staying power if you ask me.  Why not make it a Meyer lemon tree so you can make lemonade?
6. Save water. We’re such wasters of nature’s precious resources. Only use the dishwasher when it’s full and be mindful of over watering your garden because you might actually kill your plants.
7. Get physical. Physical fitness boosts your mood.  Get out of the big box gym and instead take a hike, ride a bike or practice yoga.  Outdoor fitness connects you with nature and allows you to create your own energy instead of wasting it at the gym.
8. Stay local.  Dinner date downtown? Cancel those plans for a restaurant within walking distance.  Support your local Farmers’ Market to beat the 15,000 miles produce can travel to get to your local grocery store. And, ask questions—there’s so much to learn from your local farmers!
9. Recycle.  Preventing unnecessary trash in our landfills is easy.  Donate unwanted kitchen accessories and trinkets.  Or, throw a “swap” party with your friends.  You might be surprised someone actually wants that old can opener of yours.  Use empty liquor and wine bottles or mason jars as candle holders or vases.  Clean out the fridge and recycle all those expired beer bottle, sauce containers and dressing jars.  After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
10. Find a celebration in your neighborhood.  Get educated and find out how you can get involved at your Local Earth Day event.
SEE, THERE REALLY ARE EASY WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY.  SO WHY NOT MAKE EARTH DAY HAPPEN EVERYDAY?
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Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn

25 Feb

 

 

truffle and parmesan popcorn

Makes 16 Cups

Movies and popcorn.  You’re passionate about the pair.   You wouldn’t go to a movie and not get popcorn because the novelty of ordering a jumbo bag of the light and airy pops of joy is just delightful.  And so, every movie you see, you buy popcorn and eat it—all of it—doused in liquefied butter and salt.  And you think to yourself, “Yes, I just did that, and no, I’m not sure it was worth it.” Because you also know there’s nothing gourmet about movie popcorn.  Instead make Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn, packing on gourmet flavor without the extra butter and salt.

Ingredients:

½ C. organic popping corn kernels

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. truffle oil

¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. sea salt

Directions: 

Place vegetable oil in a 3-quart pot with three kernels.  Cover and heat on medium heat, shaking constantly until kernels pop.  Once they pop, add remaining kernels and continue to shake over medium heat until popping stops, about ten minutes.  Immediately transfer popcorn into a large mixing bowl.  With a spatula, mix in truffle oil, Parmesan and sea salt.  Add additional seasoning to suit your palette.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Not only is popcorn fun to make the old-fashioned way, it is high in fiber and low in fat and sodium.  Any seasoning can make popcorn a new and exciting flavor, so season to your heart’s desire!

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

17 Feb

Food I Love You Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4-6

Ugh!  You’re homesick.  Which explains why your day has been anything but productive.  Aside from thumbing through your Facebook Timeline.  It’s a good thing you got that organized.  What will make you feel better?  Macaroni and cheese.  But you couldn’t—you wouldn’t.  Oh, yes you would.   When you make a healthier version like this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese.

Ingredients: 

2 C. whole-wheat shell pasta

1 C. butternut squash, cubed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ C. whole-wheat flour

¼ tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. butter

1 ½ C. low-fat milk

½ C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tsp. olive oil

½ C. Italian breadcrumbs

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray six ramekins with baking oil and place on cookie sheet.  Cook shells according to packaging.

Coat butternut squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Flip and cook for another ten minutes.  Remove squash, set aside.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place flour, salt, butter and milk in a 3-quart pot on medium heat.  Stir constantly until light bubbles form around the side of the pot.  Reduce heat to low until flour dissolves.  Remove from heat, transfer to blender and add squash.  Blend until fully combined.  Add cheese and blend again, until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over cooked shells and stir to coat.  Divide macaroni among ramekins.

In a small pan, heat olive oil on low heat.  Stir in breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper and oregano.  Remove from heat.  Evenly distribute breadcrumb mixture on top of macaroni.   Bake mac & cheese for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least five minutes.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Low in fat, butternut squash makes an excellent side or meat replacement in vegetarian dishes.  That nice orange hue means it’s packed with beta-carotene, which combats breast cancer and supports the healthy lung development of fetuses and newborns.  So, eat up, moms!

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A Menu for Your Honey Bunny on Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Uh-oh.  Cupid struck you.  And he struck you good.  Looks like this Valentine’s Day,  “Romance” is your middle name.  That’s why you’re cooking from the heart to show your honey bunny just how much love you have to give with the most romantic Valentine’s Day menu.

SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC

Download the ultimate romance playlist.  Some great ideas from Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and these KCRW DJ’s love song selections.

WINE

First and foremost, you need some good wine on hand.  Just make sure it goes with what you’re serving–and more importantly, it’s what your Valentine loves to drink.  Keep in mind you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg.  Find great deals at:

  • Whole Foods | Aside from their excellent selection of bottles priced under $10, they also have a handy-dandy wine tutorial on their website.
  • BevMo | It’s 5 cent sale is going on now which means you can really splurge on a good bottle because the second one is only five cents!
  • Trader Joe’s | If you’ve never perused their wine aisles, you’ve been missing out.  The store stocks  a fabulous selection and prices start at $1.00 (although you may have to spend more money on Gatorade the next morning to cure your hangover)!

FOOD

Lean Mean Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

SAY ‘AMORE’ WITH AN ITALIAN SPREAD…

START | Follow The Hip & Urban Girls’ Guide to Cheese & Meat Board.

MAIN COURSE | Lean Mean Meatballs with Homemade Mushroom Marinara.

SIDE | Flash Roasted Green Beans.

SEAL THE DEAL WITH CASUAL GASTRO PUB FARE…

START | Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb Hot Pockets.

MAIN COURSE | Enlightened Shepard’s Pie.

SIDE | Spinach and Strawberry Salad via allrecipes.com

DESSERT | Milk & Oats, Orange & Oatmeal Cookies.

Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup

IMPRESS WITH CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CUISINE…

START | Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup.

MAIN COURSE | Sunset Magazine’s Perfect Roasted Chicken.

SIDE | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter.

DESSERT | Hubba Hubba Brownies.

Veggie Cassoulet

NO TIME TO SLAVE AWAY IN THE KITCHEN?  MAKE VEGGIE CASSOULET, A SIMPLE ONE-POT MEAL, READY IN MINUTES. 

So, what do you have on your Valentine’s Day menu?  Share your love spun food selections by leaving a comment below.

Hubba Hubba Brownies

10 Feb

Hubba Hubba Brownies RecipeMakes 12

You and chocolate.  It’s more than puppy love—it’s passion.  You know, like when a buxom female cartoon character passes by the boys club and suddenly one guy’s eyes pop out of his sockets and the “Awooga” horn blows.  That’s love at first sight right there.  And it’s just like you’ll feel when you bake Hubba Hubba Brownies and taste these smooth, rich, silky hunks of peanut and chocolate love.

Ingredients:

½ C. dates, pitted

1 C. water

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

¾ C. sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

½ C. whole wheat flour

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 C. raw peanuts

Directions:

Soak pitted dates in 1 cup water for four hours.  Drain water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with butter, oil or non-stick spray.

Combine dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.  Sift together lightly as the air will help to give the brownies a fluffy texture.  Set aside.

Place soaked and drained dates into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer dates to a mixing bowl.  On medium speed, beat in butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Slowly beat in dry mixture until fully combined.  Add chocolate and ½  C. peanuts.

Pour brownie mix into baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining ½ C. peanuts on top.  Bake  on middle rack for 30-35 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: A moderate amount of at least 70% cocoa a day is good for your heart.  In fact, studies conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that chocolate helped to improve blood flow through the arteries and improved insulin’s efficiency.  Unsweetened cocoa powder contains almost no fat and is high in fiber, too!  Between the cocoa and dates in this recipe, you’re good to go in the digestion department!

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Have A Heart Smoothie

7 Feb

Heart Healthy Smoothie with Beet Juice, Organic Cherries

Serves 1

The juice craze has turned you into a closet smoothie snob.  If it doesn’t taste like grass, dirt or chlorophyll, you snub your nose at it.  Who are you kidding!?  You’ve resorted to the old “Plug and Chug” method to drink it down without having to suffer through the taste of it.  Drop the act and try the Have a Heart Smoothie, bursting with antioxidants and heart-healthy fruits and veggies to protect that love machine of yours.  You can still have your juice and actually love to drink it, too.

Ingredients:

¾ C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

¼ C. beet juice

½ banana

1 Tbsp. Nutella

¼ C. organic cherries, frozen

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed.  Blend until smooth.  For a great post-workout shake, add 2 Tbsp. unflavored whey or soy protein powder.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Beets, bananas and cherries protect your heart, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and strengthen your bones.  Now that’s a trio of goodness!

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Flash Roasted Green Beans

2 Feb

healthy green bean recipeServes 6

You’ve been caught—red handed—cheating on green beans with the latest and greatest “it” veggies.  One week it’s brussels sprouts, the next kale, beets or rainbow chard.  You’re allowed to play the field (we are talking veggies here), but it’s like you’ve turned into some sort of vegetable gigolo tasting a different flavor every week.  What happened to sticking with the tried-and-true?  Perhaps Flash Roasted Green Beans will entice you to come home to mama.

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed & tipped

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt & cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place green beans into a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Use a spatula to make sure all green beans are coated.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Green beans have a little secret. Even though they’re rich and green, they’re bursting with beta-carotene and lutein, which makes them essential to maintaining beautiful, glowing skin and sparkling eyes.

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So what do you say?  Will you give green beans another chance?  Leave a comment below.

It’s National Peanut Butter Day! Celebrate with the PB & J Smooth Move

24 Jan

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Serves 1

You’ve said the way to your heart is through Peanut Butter & Jelly.  But one-too-many sandwiches and we’ll have to start calling you “Peanut Butter & Belly!”  Luckily, there’s a lightened-up version of your favorite treat—one that actually prevents the belly bulge.  Bursting with probiotic, Omega-3’s and fiber, the PB&J Smooth Move makes a healthy low-cal breakfast or protein-rich post-workout snack.

Ingredients:

1 C. low-fat, plain kefir

½ frozen banana

½ C. fresh strawberries, hulled

1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

1 Tbsp. flaxseed oil

1 tsp. local honey

1 scoop whey protein (optional)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Enjoy!

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: The monounsaturated fats in peanut butter are extremely good for maintaining heart health.  A tablespoon a day can help to lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.

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READERS’ CHOICE: 10 Most Popular Food, I Love You! Recipes of 2011

29 Dec
Grapefruit Chicken Salad

READERS' CHOICE: The Most Popular Food, I Love You! Recipe of 2011

Life’s a popularity contest.  It takes a certain level of distinction to truly stand out—to be the trendsetter, the en vogue rogue, the cake topper.  It’s the popular ones that are dubbed Sexiest Man Alive, President of the United States or Dancing with the Stars Champion.  The same goes for Food, I Love You! recipes.  According to the readers (very discerning judges I might add), here are the 10 Most Popular Food, I Love You! Recipes of 2011…

 

 #1  Grapefruit Chicken Salad

 

 #2  Summer Fruit & Spinach Salad with Lemon Cilantro Dressing

 

 #3  Health Nut Smoothie

 

 #4  PB & J Smooth Move

 

 #5  Grilled Peaches & Burrata

 

 #6  Mexican Carrot Soup

 

#7  Campari Crush

 

#8  Butternut Squash Soup

 

#9  Strawberry & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

 

#10  Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

 

Ring in the New Year with style and grace!  Wishing you much happiness in 2012, filled with fabulous food, friends and love.

xxxo!!

Colleen

 

So, dish.  Did your favorite Food, I Love You! recipe make the cut?  Leave a comment below.

Leftover Pumpkin? Make Pumpkin Cupcakes!

1 Dec

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 48 mini cupcakes

You’re a sucker for anything that comes in small packages.  Babies, jewelry, bite-sized desserts…all small things that make you “ooh” and “aah” like a chorus of well-dressed ladies at a bridal shower.  And now, you’ll go gaga over teensy weensy Pumpkin Cupcakes.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

2 C. whole wheat flour

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

½ C. unsalted butter, softened

5 ½ C. organic pumpkin puree (roughly 2 ½ 15 oz. cans)

1 ¼ C. raw sugar

3 large eggs

¼ C. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:

¼ C. butter, softened

¾ C. cream cheese, softened

2 C. powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini cupcake pan with baking oil and insert tins.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Lightly whisk and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add pumpkin puree.  Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture just until combined.  Scoop batter into tins so they are about ¾ full.  Bake for 16-20 minutes.  Test doneness with a toothpick.  Allow to cool.

For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese.  Slowly add in powdered sugar until creamy.  Transfer frosting to a piping bag or Ziploc freezer bag and cut a small hole in the corner.  Pipe cupcakes & serve.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: ½ cup of canned pumpkin has 3.5 grams of good-for-you fiber.  The beta-carotene in pumpkin is also great for your skin, making it beautifully clear and bright.

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