Friday, May 30, 2014

Health topic - weight control (sigh...)

Have you ever noticed, standing in line at the grocery store that Every Women's Magazine, Every Month seems to have another article about how to lose weight?  Weight reduction is a Big Deal in this country.  So many of us struggle with our weight.  It is a fight I've been waging since I was 16 years old.  Mainly, I've won.  There was a time, after my youngest was born, when I had to shed 50 pounds to normalize my weight.  I was very fortunate to have a mother who was weight conscious - not in an unhealthy way.  She never tried to force me to do anything, but she would talk about her own journey and I remember her saying that "we" don't eat very many sweets because she and I were both good at gaining weight. She was very nutrition conscious, and did the best she could with what was known at the time. (Remember, I'm 65 years old.)  I am so grateful for her example.

It seems that for decades, there have been all sorts of pills, products, programs (alliteration accidental, ha!) and books and magazines and clinics, all eager and waiting to take our money to "help" us lose weight.  The result?  Well, you know.  It's not been stellar, to say the least.  Often the heaviest person is one who has tried the hardest.

I am perfectly aware that there are causes for obesity that sometimes are beyond a girl's control - some medications, some health conditions... but for the rest of us, it is just finding out what works for us.  I want to tell you, in case you need help with this issue, about a really nice and FREE website:

You can sign up, putting in your own information and goals, how much you want to lose and how fast.  They have a HUGE database of foods that the calories are already calculated for you.  You can also do custom entries from your own recipes.  That is a little tedious, but you only need to do it once for each recipe and then you are good to go.  

You also can easily track your exercise including things like gardening and how many calories are burned that way.

I know, I know... there is a lot  more to losing weight than calories, but at least for me, the only real and long term success I've had is watching what I eat like a hawk.  I am too good at believing my own lies when I get stressed.  I lose sight of how much I can eat and not gain weight.  Fitness Pal is easy and free.  Check it out if you need help.  It might be exactly what you need too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stinging Nettles - a springtime gold mine!

Above is a picture of what stinging nettles look like in my part of the world.  There are a number of varieties in other places. NEVER gather and use or eat wild plants without consulting a local expert. Stinging nettles have teensy little spines all over them that have formic acid in them.  If you brush against them with your skin, you will get stung.  Be careful!  If you do get stung, make a paste of baking soda and water to soothe the irritation.  Nettles are so healthy and wonderful that it is worth the risk! Once you wash the nettles well, the formic acid is gone.  They are perfectly safe to eat.

This morning, my daughter and I went to a place near a river not far from where we live and picked quite a lot of stinging nettles.  We wore pants, long sleeves and gloves that have rubbery stuff on the palms and fingers to protect ourselves. We just roamed around picking off the top bunch of leaves and not bothering the rest.  Then it started to rain in earnest, so we came back home.  I spent most of the rest of the day dealing with the nettle haul!

First, I filled all the trays with  leaves I carefully cut off the stems.  I set the dehydrator at 105 F and let it run for a few hours.  It really didn't take very long until they were dry, compared with other things I have dehydrated.  When they were thoroughly dry, I used my hands and crunched them all up, stuffed them into a quart jar (it filled it) and put a lid on tightly.  That is for making nettle tea, which is very good for you and also has medicinal properties.

Next, I put some good olive oil in a small skillet, cut up some oyster mushroom in it and added a big handful of the fresh nettle leaves.  That was sauteed until everything seemed done, and I added salt and pepper. Yum. I had that for lunch.

I blanched the rest of the leaves in boiling water for 1 minute, then put them in ice water.  Then I put them in a dish towel, and used it to squeeze all the water out that I could by twisting the towel tightly.

Those were used to make NETTLE PESTO!  

1/2 firmly packed cup of blanched nettles
1/4 cup walnut meats, chopped and toasted in a skillet (pine nuts are too costly)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil

This can be made in a food processor, or you can carefully mash it all up together with a mortar and pestle.

I still had some blanched nettle leaves left, so I froze them in an ice cube tray and will add them to soup.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pressure Cooking - Chapter 8 - Greek Lentil Soup

Now, that is not my photo (as noted,)  but I did make Greek Lentil Soup in my 6 quart pressure saucepan today and I have to say, this is the BEST it's ever been.  I've been making this soup for many years, but never cooked it under pressure before.  It came out Thick and Creamy.  I am so pleased!

This recipe comes from this book: The New Laurel's Kitchen

Greek Lentil Soup -cooked in a pressure saucepan

2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small potato, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar because that's what I have.)

Combine all ingredients except the vinegar in a pressure saucepan that is at least 6 quarts in size.
Put on the lid and regulator and bring the pressure up until the regulator is rocking gently.
Turn down the heat enough so it will continue a Gentle rocking.
Allow to cook for 15 minutes.
Turn off the burner and allow the pressure to escape naturally.
Just before serving, add the vinegar.

Delicious, fast, inexpensive, very nutritious and easy.  Enjoy!

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